“So, what’s our plan?” Bianca wondered. “Hang around the warehouse until something shows up?”
“We’re going to find the area Demetria talked about,” Hilde answered. “The perpetrator, magic or not, probably left some kind of clue we can use.”
“She said it touched the victim and he was torn apart,” Hilde recalled. “That makes finding the spot easy. We just need to find the fresh blood.”
“Assuming it hasn’t been cleaned up,” Bianca said.
“It won’t have been,” Hilde stated. “At least, not completely. There’ll be a nice, large stain to check out.”
The pair walked around the area, noticing police patrols twice as they went.
“They sure are taking these incidents seriously,” Bianca noted. “Pity they’re out of their league.”
“Hey, show some respect,” Hilde chided her. “Those men and women are doing their utmost to keep everyone safe.”
“I understand and appreciate that,” Bianca said. “But they are trying to catch a creature that can, assuming the client wasn’t mistaken, hide itself easily and kill with a touch. You might be safe because of your protective amulet. I might be safe because of my magic. They definitely aren’t.”
“I don’t like the way you said ‘might,'” Hilde muttered.
Bianca shrugged. “If the creature has stronger magic than I do, and we take enough shots, I can’t guarantee it’ll hold.”
“You seem unusually pessimistic tonight,” Hilde observed. “Something bothering you?”
“Maybe a little,” Bianca said. “But we can talk about it later. That’s our splatter, correct?”
Hilde knelt down, taking care to observe without touching. She didn’t want to ruin her gloves. “It’s pretty fresh, certainly,” she said. “Judging by the messy pattern, Demetria’s description of him being blown apart seems pretty apt. The strangest part is this,” she indicated a clean circular area about thirty centimetres in diameter. “How did this area get so completely covered in offal, except for this small patch?”
“Well, that’s easy,” Bianca said. “That’s the area our shadow creature occupied. What bothers me is that it’s so small. There aren’t many creatures that can fit into that space and wield that much power. It’s almost like…” she paused and cocked her head to the side.
“What’s wrong?” Hilde asked, feeling suddenly on edge.”
“Don’t you feel that?” Bianca asked. “It’s like… like a heavy weight just got tossed on my shoulders.”
Hilde thought about it. “I feel pretty normal, actually,” she answered.
“Maybe you can’t feel it because you aren’t attuned to magic,” Bianca said. “Or maybe that amulet is protecting you from the effects. Either way, there’s magic in the air. Come on.”
She gestured for Hilde to follow her. The pair moved along. Hilde noticed a police car stopped nearby. No, she mentally corrected, not stopped. More like frozen in place. One officer inside had her hands on the wheel and her eyes were looking slightly to the left in order to see the side while also watching the road. Her partner was looking to the right, propping up his head with his arm. Neither one moved or blinked.
They hurried. Ahead of them was a rough looking man. He was also stuck in place. Lighting a cigarette in perpetuity.
A black cloud coalesced near him. For a moment, Hilde was confused. She had seen through Sakura’s glamour thanks to her amulet, why was this any different?
Then she noticed, it wasn’t any kind of illusion spell she was looking at. It was a swarm of locusts. There was something inside. She could barely make out a billowing outline, a greyish hand and a slight sparkle of gold.
Hilde was vaguely aware of Bianca starting to cast a spell. She hurried forward, knowing she had to try to save the man.
The hand emerged from the swarm. She noted long, gnarled fingers that seemed almost ethereal. They moved inside the man’s chest. She noted a black circle near his feet that quickly closed. The reaction was immediate.
He exploded into a mess of gore. Hilde jumped back instinctively, even though she was still too far away to be hit. She heard sirens coming from behind them. “Hands over your heads!”
She briefly wondered how she was going to explain this. Then she felt a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She heard a cracking sound. The sound of the sirens faded immediately and she found herself back in the Beetle.
“Always have a quick exit orb prepared,” Bianca said.
“Won’t they still be after us?” Hilde queried.
Bianca smirked and shook her head. “They’ll be convinced they were just seeing things. After all, it would be impossible for two suspects to just disappear into thin air. So, their minds will fill in the only explanation that makes sense. They thought they saw some suspects, but they didn’t.”
“The hell was that thing?” Hilde muttered.
“Now that is the key question,” Bianca said. “From what I saw, I have no freaking clue. I’ll have to head to the library and do some research. You’re coming, I trust?”
“Yeah, sure,” Hilde agreed. “I’ll meet you there tomorrow after we’ve both had some sleep.”
“No, I’ll pick you up,” Bianca stated. “After all, we won’t be going to the library you’re thinking of.”