TITLE: THE SOUL SHARD
Zahn put his eye to the keyhole. Breathing in sharply, he gathered the magic he needed. The pupil of his eye expanded until his iris became black. The lock grew in his vision. He could see the gears and tumblers, and knew exactly what the key would look like. He blinked once and swirling colors became visible in the keyhole. He blinked again and the colors became ribbons of power he could follow with magic’s eye.
Alexander Zahn, the world’s greatest thief, was about to strike again.
Three strands of color flowed through the lock, three spells in all. The first strand of power would sound an alarm if anyone tampered with the outside of the lock; the second would sound if anything disturbed the tumblers. The third strand, almost invisible to even Zahn’s magical vision, was like a breath of warm air on a cool night. He concentrated and it firmed enough for him to see that it twisted around the first two strands as a final fail-safe, to trap anyone who managed to get that far. But the Red General’s trap, elegant in its simplicity, was no match for Zahn’s thieving skills.
Any ordinary thief could have hoped to best only one or two of the spells, but not all three. Zahn could see that the only way to break past the magic was to undo the strands simultaneously. With the interior of the lock clearly mapped in his mind, Zahn closed his eyes and breathed in deeper.