The Silver Mask Page 1

Author: Holly Black

Series: Magisterium #4

Genres: Fantasy

PRISON WAS NOT like Call expected it to be.

He had grown up with the crime shows on television, so he thought he was supposed to have a gruff roommate to show him the ropes and how to get really buff from lifting weights. He was supposed to hate the food and not start anything with anybody, for fear of getting shanked with a cleverly sculpted toothbrush knife.

It turned out that the only thing being in magical prison had in common with television prison was that the main character was totally framed for a crime he hadn’t committed.

In the mornings, he was awoken when lights all over the Panopticon went from dim to blindingly bright. Blinking and yawning, he watched the other prisoners (there seemed to be around fifty) as they were let out of their cells. They shuffled off, probably to breakfast, but Call’s tray was delivered right to his door by two guards, one of whom scowled. The other looked intimidated.

Call, who had grown bored over the last six months, made a face just to see the freaked-out guard get more freaked-out.

None of them saw him as a fifteen-year-old, as a kid. They all thought of him as the Enemy of Death.

In all the time he’d been here, not a single person had come to visit him. Not his father. Not his friends. Call tried to tell himself that they weren’t allowed, but that wasn’t comforting either; they were probably in a lot of trouble. They probably wished they’d never even heard of Callum Hunt.

He finished eating some of the slop on the tray and then brushed his teeth to get the taste out of his mouth. The guards returned — it was time for interrogation.

Every day, he was taken to a windowless, white-walled room where three Assembly members grilled him about his life. It was the only interruption in the monotony of his day.

What was your first memory?

When did you realize you were evil?

I know you say that you can’t remember anything about being Constantine Madden, but what if you try harder?

How many times did you meet Master Joseph? What did he say to you? Where is his stronghold? What are his plans?

Whatever his answer, they would go over the minutia until Call himself got confused. They accused him of lying a lot.

Sometimes when he got tired and bored, he was tempted to lie because what they wanted to hear was so obvious and it seemed like it might be easier to tell them. But he didn’t lie, because his Evil Overlord list was back in effect and he was assigning himself points for anything he did that seemed Evil Overlord–ish. Lying definitely counted.

It was easy to rack up Evil Overlord Points in prison.

His interrogators talked a lot about the devastating charm of the Enemy of Death and how Call shouldn’t be allowed to talk to any of the other prisoners, for fear of seducing them over to his evil schemes.

Call might have found this flattering if it wasn’t so clear that they thought he was deliberately hiding this aspect of his character from them. If Constantine Madden had possessed devastating charisma, they felt Call was showing the exact opposite. They didn’t look forward to seeing him — and he didn’t look forward to seeing them, either.

That day, though, Call was in for a surprise. When he walked in to be interrogated, it wasn’t his usual interrogators sitting there. Instead, on the other side of the white desk, he found his former teacher, Master Rufus, dressed in black, his bald brown head shining under the too-bright lights.

Call hadn’t seen anyone he knew in so long. He had an urge to leap across the table and hug Master Rufus, despite the fact that Master Rufus was glowering at him and wasn’t a huge hugger in general.

Call sat down in the chair opposite his teacher. He couldn’t even wave or offer to shake Master Rufus’s hand, since his wrists were bound in front of him with a glowing chain of incredibly hard metal.

He cleared his throat. “How’s Tamara?” he said. “Is she all right?”

Master Rufus looked at him for a long time. “I’m not sure I should tell you,” he said finally. “I am not sure who you are, Call.”

Call’s chest hurt. “Tamara’s my best friend. I want to know how she is. And Havoc. Even Jasper.”

It felt strange not to mention Aaron, too. Despite knowing Aaron was dead, despite going over the circumstances of his death again and again — Call still missed him in a way that made him much more present than he was absent.

Master Rufus steepled his fingers under his chin. “I want to believe you,” he said. “But you’ve lied to me for a long time.”

“I didn’t have a choice!” Call protested.

“You did. You could have told me at any time that Constantine Madden lived inside you. How long did you know? Did you trick me into choosing you as an apprentice?”

“At the Iron Trial?” Call couldn’t believe it. “I didn’t know anything back then! I tried to fail — I didn’t even want to go to the Magisterium.”

Master Rufus still looked skeptical. “It was the fact you tried to fail that caught my eye. Constantine would have known that. He would have known how to manipulate me.”

“I’m not him,” said Call. “I might have his soul, but I’m not him.”

“Let us hope not, for your sake,” said Rufus.

Call felt bone-tired all of a sudden. “Why did you come?” he asked his teacher. “Because you hate me?”

This seemed to take Master Rufus aback for a moment. “I don’t hate you,” he said with more sadness than anger. “I came to like Callum Hunt — very much. But, once, I liked Constantine Madden … and he nearly destroyed us all. Perhaps that’s why I came: to see if I can trust myself as a judge of character … or if I’ve made the same mistake twice.”

He looked as tired as Call felt.

“They’re done interrogating you,” Rufus continued. “Now they have to decide what to do with you. I intended to speak at the hearing, to say what you just said — that you may have Constantine’s soul, but you are not Constantine. Still, I had to see it myself to believe it.”


“He was much more charming than you.”

“So everyone says,” muttered Call.

Master Rufus hesitated. “Do you want to get out of prison?” he asked.

It was the first time anyone had asked Call that.

“I don’t know,” he said after some thought. “I — I let Aaron get killed. Maybe I deserve to be here. Maybe I should stay.”

After this admission, there was a long, long silence. Master Rufus rose to his feet. “Constantine loved his brother,” he said. “But he would never have said he deserved to be punished for his brother’s death. It was always someone else’s fault.”

Call didn’t say anything.

“Secrets hurt the keeper more than you think. I always knew you had secrets, Callum, and I’d hoped you’d reveal them to me. If you had, maybe things would have gone differently.”

Call closed his eyes, afraid that Master Rufus was right. He’d kept his secrets and then he’d made Tamara and Aaron and Jasper keep them, too. If only he’d gone to Master Rufus. If only he’d gone to someone, maybe things would be different.

“I know you still have secrets,” Master Rufus went on, surprising Call into looking up.

“So you think I’m lying, too?” Call demanded.

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