The Bronze Key (Magisterium #3)- Holly Black

CALL MADE A few final tweaks to his robot right before sending him into the “ring” — a section of garage floor outlined in blue chalk. He considered it the fighting zone for the robots he and Aaron had painstakingly built out of car parts, metal magic, and a lot of duct tape. On that gasoline-soaked floor, one of their robots would be tragically rent to pieces and the other would emerge victorious. One would rise and the other would fall. One would —

Aaron’s robot chugged forward. One of its little arms shot out, wobbled, and beheaded Call’s robot. Sparks fizzed in the air.

“No fair!” Call yelled.

Aaron snorted. He had a smudge of dirt on his cheek and some of his hair was sticking straight up after he’d run his hands through it in frustration. The relentless North Carolina heat had left him with a sunburned nose and freckling on his cheeks. He didn’t look at all like the polished Makar who’d spent the previous summer at garden parties, chatting with dull, important grown-ups.

“I guess I’m just better at building robots than you,” Aaron said carelessly.

“Oh, yeah?” Call replied, concentrating. His robot began to move, slowly at first, then faster as metal magic reanimated its headless body. “Take that.”

Call’s robot lifted an arm, and fire shot out like water from a hose, spraying Aaron’s robot, whose whole body began to smoke. Aaron tried to summon water magic to douse it, but it was too late — the duct tape was burning. His robot collapsed in a pile of smoking parts.

“Woo-hoo!” Call cried out — he’d never taken any of his dad’s advice about being a gracious winner to heart. Havoc, Call’s Chaos-ridden wolf, woke suddenly when a spark landed on his fur. He began to bark.

“Hey!” Call’s father, Alastair, yelled, running out of the house and looking around with slightly wild eyes. “Not so close to my car! I just fixed that thing.”

Despite the scolding, Call felt relaxed. He’d felt pretty relaxed all summer. He’d even stopped assigning himself Evil Overlord Points. As far as the world knew, the Enemy of Death, Constantine Madden, was dead, defeated by Alastair. Only Aaron and Tamara, frenemy Jasper deWinter, and Call’s father knew the truth — that Call was Constantine Madden reborn, but without any of his memories and, hopefully, without his penchant for evil.

Since the world thought Constantine was dead and Call’s friends didn’t care, Call was off the hook. Aaron, despite being a Makar, could go back to goofing around with Call. They’d be heading back to the Magisterium soon, and this time they’d be Bronze Year students, which meant they’d be getting into some really awesome magic — fighting spells and flying spells.

Everything was better. Everything was great.

Also, Aaron’s robot was a smoking wreck.

Really, it was hard for Call to imagine how things could get better.

“I hope you guys remembered,” said Alastair. “Tonight is the party at the Collegium. You know — the one in our honor.”

Aaron and Call looked at each other in horror. They had forgotten, of course. The days had gone by in a blur of skateboarding and ice cream and movies and video games, and both of them had completely blanked out on the fact that the Assembly of Mages was throwing a victory party at the Collegium, in recognition of the fact that the Enemy of Death had been defeated after thirteen long years of cold war.

The Assembly had chosen five people to honor: Call, Aaron, Tamara, Jasper, and Alastair. Call had been surprised that Alastair had agreed to go — Alastair had hated magic, the Magisterium, and everything to do with mages for as long as Call could remember. Call suspected Alastair had agreed because he wanted to see the Assembly clap for Call and for everyone to agree that Call was on the side of good. That he was a hero.

Call swallowed, suddenly nervous. “I don’t have anything to wear,” he protested.

“Neither do I.” Aaron looked startled.

“But Tamara and her family bought you all those fancy clothes last year,” Call pointed out. Tamara’s parents had been so excited at the thought that their daughter was friends with a Makar, one of the rare mages who could control chaos magic, that they had practically adopted Aaron, bringing him into their house and spending money on expensive haircuts and clothes and parties.

Call still couldn’t quite understand why Aaron had decided to spend this summer with him and not the Rajavis, but Aaron had been very firm