Lavinia climbed up a stairwell, the highest stairwell in New Prahv, up into sunlight.
She emerged on the rooftop of the Lyev Tower, overlooking the whole of the Tenth, and a guard nodded to her. Before her perched the sphinx Isperia, guildmaster of the Azorius, her wings folded and her calm gaze already locked on Lavinia. And beside the sphinx stood the blue-skinned vedalken man, Kavin.
Kavin and Isperia were conferring in hushed tones. Lavinia had no idea that Isperia even knew Kavin, let alone held special rooftop meetings with him.
"She's the only one," Kavin was saying. "She's the only choice."
"It's out of the question," said Isperia. "Lavinia's rank does not qualify her."
"Then that will have to be rectified," said Kavin.
Lavinia quickly stepped forward, stamping her feet slightly to announce herself. "Greetings, Your Honor." She gave the traditional nod-bow.
"Lavinia," said Kavin. "I'm glad to see you."
"And I you."
The city looked toylike beyond Kavin and the sphinx. Cold gusts whipped around them, but when Isperia spoke to her, her voice carried over the wind.
"We were taken by surprise, Officer Lavinia," said the sphinx. "I don't like surprises."
Lavinia realized she meant the dragon's announcement. "We knew the Izzet were up to something. And the criminal Beleren thought it was significant." She looked at Kavin, whose expression was just as unreadable as Isperia's. She couldn't understand why he would be here, conferring with her guildmaster, apparently about her.
The sphinx's eyes were like spheres of ice, frozen and unmoving. "We Azorius rely on prudence and preparation. We're at our best when we have months to prepare, to weigh our options, to adjudicate. And now there's no time to make a careful assessment. No time to deliberate on a choice of maze-runner."
"That's probably deliberate on Izzet's part," said Lavinia. "Hurry the schedule for the other guilds, while they've probably been training their maze-runner for weeks. But Your Honor, couldn't this just be a trick on the part of the Izzet? Or another of Beleren's ruses?"
The sphinx ignored this. "I need someone to run the dragon's maze, and I need it now," Isperia said. "It should be someone with knowledge of the district, and knowledge of the research Beleren conducted into the Implicit Maze. Civilian Kavin here has given me counsel on how we might proceed."
The sphinx regarded Kavin, and he nodded. "If you want the Azorius to have a place alongside the other guilds, it's the only way," he said.
"Then I have made my selection." Isperia stared down at her.
Lavinia hesitated. "You have, Your Honor?"
Isperia's unnerving stare didn't budge. She only waited for Lavinia to respond.
Lavinia's hand flew to her chest. "Me?"
"I would have chosen someone else," said the sphinx, "but knowledge of the maze is scarce. Kavin convinced me it should be you."
Lavinia spoke carefully. "My present position as supervisor of the towers does not permit me to venture out into the Tenth."
"Your title is now maze-runner of the Azorius."
"That position doesn't exist."
"I have made it so."