Chapter Four (Cont’d)
Heading down a side hallway, Savannah made her way to the large wooden stairwell that led to the bowels of the building, where the morgue, employee locker rooms, and evidence lockers were located. The morgue was straight ahead once you descended the stairwell. Two double swinging double doors that lead in to Land of the Dead, as Dr. Sylvester Drummond, the ME liked to call it.
Sylvester was an older man with a wicked sense of humor. He always claimed he done more and seen more then all the local necromancers put together, which Savannah wouldn’t put past him. When he was younger, his was a military medic. The things he must have seen on the battle field must have been horrendous. He once told her that he saw of army of undead soldier slaughter a village of natives. Their own people.
Using the corpses of your dead in battle was illegal and amoral. The necromancers put things down like that very quickly, after all it had started a whole fear of zombie apocalypse that still carried on today. It made necromancers look bad and was very bad for business. If any rumor of the dead being raised illegally reached the ears of the Necromancer Guild, a special guard unit was sent out immediately to investigate and eradicate if necessary.
Savannah was actually surprised she was being called in for a second opinion. For a man who had not a drop of magic in his blood, Sly was very adapt at picking up any trace of magic on the body. She had seem in at crime scenes notice things that not even the assigned guild necromancer noticed, and it was their job to notice.
Sly had no ego when it came to his job. He welcomed the opinion of others. So he usually didn’t mind having something sticking their noses in his business, as long as they were respectful. He couldn’t stand arrogance in his work space. If you dared to insult or irritate the ME, good luck getting any information from him. He had been known to ban people from his morgue. Luckily for Savannah, Sly loved her.
Savannah knew best of all that she was lucky to even be considered as a consultant for the local police department. She had no official capacity with the Necromancer Guild and no classification which she should have received from Woodrose had she been able to complete her last year. She had nothing to recommend her but Abby’s word. Even her skills wouldn’t have gotten her through the door without Abby’s recommendation.
She had basically been a nobody with no past. Most people hadn’t taken her seriously. Even the Captain had only accepted the recommendation becasue Abby was a good cop and because she hated dealing with the local representatives.
It had been a small job. Detective Santos was stuck. He knew the victim had been murdered although the scene had been set to look like a suicide. But nothing he learned about the victim made him believe the young man would suddenly decide to kill himself. He had just landed a job with one of the largest architecture firms in the city. He was marrying his high school sweet heart in a month. Everything was bought and paid for. He had no real debts, his had gone through college on a scholarship and graduated top of his class. He’s career was just beginning. Suicide just didn’t make sense.
Detective Santos had spoken to the man’s fiancee, family, friends and co-workers. They all agreed that he would have never done it. All of them except the man’s best friend who said there was another side to the man that his family and fiancee didn’t know about. He was a heavy drinker and partied a lot. One night the man’s friend caught him in bed with a woman tha wasn’t his fiancee. The victim begged his friend to keep the truth, but the friend kept telling him he should be truthful with his fiancee. Walking in to a new marriage with something like this would only lead to divorce.
Detective Santos didn’t believe a word that man said. He believe the man had murdered his friend, but he needed proof. That is where Savannah came in. He needed her to raise the man’s spirit so that he could question him.
They had contacted the Necromancer Guild Liason for assistance. But the man wasn’t available for another week. The family was already pressuring the police department to release the body and they didn’t have time to wait for a week. Besides that, the victims friend had started acting squirrely and Santos was sure it was only a matter of time before the man ran. He needed answers and he needed them as soon as possible.
That’s where Savannah came in. She wasn’t actually looking for a side job. She enjoyed working for Abby’s parents at the bakery. She learned that she loved the science and creativity that baking involved. She was also learning a lot from Rachel about the magical properties of herbs and spices. Savannah would never be able to work magic like Rachel but it was interesting to learn about another form of magic. Usually witches would never discuss their magic was another supernatural not of their race. But Rachel was different and open minded. It was the reason she hired a twenty-one year old high school drop out with no baking experience in the first place.
Abby had stopped by the bakery after finishing a graveyard shift and was telling them abot the case and how she knew the guy was going to get away. Savannah didn’t even think before she opened her mouth and offered to do the job. She was even going to do it for free as as favor for a friend.
Abby jumped on the offer and spoke to Detective Santos about it. He wasn’t overly eager to accept the assistance but he needed a necromancer now and he didn’t have time to wait the Guild Liason to be available. He cleared it with the Captain and Savannah found herself at the Morgue that afternoon.
Sly was the only one there when she arrived. Detective Santos was running late but that was okay. By that time Savannah was having second thoughts about her impulsive offer. She had been under the radar until then. The Necromancer Guild knew there was an unregistered Necromancer in town, but they paid her no attention as they probably figured she was unregistered because she didn’t have enough power to be classified.
She really didn’t want to draw the attention of the Guild but she also wanted to help out Abby. She figured this could be a quick thing. Get in and get out, do what she needed to do, get the information and that would be it. A one time favor. She kept telling herself that over and over again so she wouldn’t run out of the place like a coward and make her friend look bad.
Sly must have sensed her nervousness as she stepped through the double-doors. He offered her a cup of coffee and a seat in his office while she waited for Santos to arrive. Even form the very beginning, Sly never doubted in her ability. He treated her as respectfully as he would any other professional. He had to know she was unregistered, but he never treated with the arrogance and impatience she had received from others once they learned she was an unregistered necromancer.
Sly talked her ear off while they waited. He told her about his wife and how they had been married for forty-five years. The woman drove him absolutely crazy but he was still mad in love wtih her. He told her about his daughter and her husband who was a lazy bum. He told her about his precocious granddaughter and rascal of a grandson. By the time Santos arrived thirty minutes later, Savannah knew Sly family so well it was as if she had known them her whole life.
Sly had even remained with with her while she did the raising. He assisted her with arranging the body, and clearing the space around it so that she could draw her protective circle. The raising was as easy as she expected and the Detective got the information he needed.
It had been the best friend who killed the victim. It has been an accident. It had been the victim to catch his best friend cheating on his wife. The best friend begged the victim not to say a word and the man agreed but he kept telling the friend he should tell him wife before she found out another way. After all, they had just had a child a month ago. This wasn’t the way to start this new part of his life. The best friend though was scared. He and the victim were drinking on the man’s balcony when the victim brought it up again. The friend was drunk and got angry. He pushed his friend too hard and the man went over the railing. Panicking, the man had left the apartment, taking with him an evidence he had been there that night. Even his wife hadn’t known he was going to stop by after work. There was no proof he was there, except the word of the dead man.’
When it was done, Santos thanked her and took the recording he had made with him to the Captain. They would need to hurry and get a warrant for the best friend’s arrest. Savannah was just sending the spirit back when the man asked him for a single favor. He had bought his fiancee a gift the day of his death. He had invited his best friend over to show him. He asked Savannah to retrieve the gift and give it to his fiancee.
Savannah could have sent the spirit back without answering his plea. She could have ignored him, but instead she agreed. It was against everything she had been taught at Woodrose, but she just listened to how this man had lost his life and his entire future because of a drunken mistake. He had bought something for the woman he loved. The least Savannah could do is make sure she got it. She knew she couldn’t walk in to the crime scene and just take a piece of evidence, but Santos owed her a favor for this. She know knew what she would ask for.
After agreeing to the spirits request, Savannah sent him back, and set about cleaning up. Sly got down on the concrete floor besides her and helped her clean the chaulk dust off the floor, washing away the protective circle.
When they were done, Savannah thanked the older man for his help. He shook his head and thanked her. He told her that not all necromancers treated the spirits like people. What she had done for that man, had given him peace. She didn’t see the spirits as a job, she saw them as people. Just like Sly who saw the bodies as more then victim, but as people who had lost their lives too early.
He did what he did for the people they could have been and the people they left behind. If he could provide some kind of peace for the people left behind, he would do everything in her power. He didn’t chase the killers, but he did provide the detectives with all the clues he could find to help catch the killers.
Savannah had never thought about what she did that way until then. At Woodrose, they had taught her that raising the dead was business and nothing more. They were hired to do a job and they would do it as professionally as possible. They were not to get emotionally engaged, it was their job to be a neutral witness and nothing more.
As Savannah neared the swinging doors she could hear Sly swearing at the annoucer on the television. It was Sunday which meant he was watching some football game. Savannah didn’t know sports. She had tried once to have him explain it to her, but she just didn’t see the purpose of sitting in a room watching men battle it out over a ball, be it football, basketball or soccer, Sly’s three favorite sports.
Savannah usually spent her one full day off running around town doing errands in the morning, stopping at Kira’s family pub O’Briens for lunch with Abby and Kira and then heading home. To spend her one full day off stuck in her apartment in front of the television just seemed so pointless. Of course she had learned after the first time she mentioned it never to say so infront of Sly. He had crossed him and refused to speak to her for a full week before she apologized for saying watching sports on television was pointless.
Savannah pushed open the double doors and found Sly decked out in his green scrubs standing beside a sheet covered body. His eyes though weren’t about his newest patient but on the television set up in the corner of the examination room.
“Morning Sly,” Savannah greeted as she set her heavy backpack down on the wooden sign-in desk by the door.
“Morning Sav,” Sly called over his shoulder, not bother to turn around as groaned at something he saw on the television. Savannah just shook her head as she opened the bag and began to pull out all the necessary tools. She wasn’t sure what she was going to need, but she grabbed a couple of sticks of white chalk just in case. She doubted she would need blood for anything but she pulled out the ceremonial dagger she used for these kind of raising. In truth, it didn’t matter what kind of blade she used to draw blood, she had used a pocket knife the night before, but people who didn’t know magic were impressed by fancy exotic looking daggers. It was just for show, but they didn’t know it.
Leaving the chalk and dagger on the table next to her bag, she wandered off to see what Sly was doing. She couldn’t help by notice that he had prepared the room for a raising. The metal gurneys were pushed against the far right wall. The floor around the metal table where the body lay had been cleared and recently moped. The cement shone under the harsh fluorescent lights. “So what have you got for me today?” Savannah asked softly more to herself than anyone else, as she gazed down at the heavy white sheet that lay over the body.
“We’ve got ourselves a mystery with this one,” Sly told her, finally turning away from his football game to look at the sheet covered body as well. He lifted the edge of blanket with his gloved hands to expose a man’s large hand.
Savannah frowned, not sure what Sly was trying to show her. It wasn’t like she saw a lot of corpses, but the hand looked like every other hand she had ever seen. She was just about to say something when something caught her eye. Her frown deepened as she tilted her head slightly to the right and saw what Sly had seen. Glyphs, necromancer glyphs covered the back of the man’s hand. By they were done in some kind of clear iridescent paint that could only be viewed at just right the angle.
“Is it just on his hands?” Savannah asked as she took one of the latex gloves that Sly pulled from his chest pocket and offered to her. Slipping the glove over her hand she picked up the man’s cold hand and tilted it so that she could see the glyphs better.
“No, they’re all over his body,” a new voice informed her. Savannah lifted her head and turned to find Detective Moreno standing in the morgue entrance. She was a middled aged hispanic woman still in her prime. Her chestnut hair was pulled back in to a messy bun that Savannah would have bet hadn’t started off that way.
Savannah had worked with Detective Moreno a couple of times and had known the woman to always keep her appearance neat. Her hair pulled back up and away from her face. Her clothes always perfectly pressed and in spotless. But today, her gray slacks were wrinkled and her lavender blouse has seen better days. She looked like she hadn’t changed, much less left the station in the last couple of days, which wouldn’t have surprised her. Detective Moreno was a bull dog once she got something between her teeth.
So whatever this was, it had the detective’s full attention.
Grabbing a pair of gloves from pants pockets. Detective Moreno slid them on before joining Sly and Savannah at the table.
“Doctor, please,” She gestured to the sheet. Sly pulled the sheet off so that Savannah could see the body in full.
The first thing Savannah realized was that man was young, younger than she was. Probably just out of school. She felt a pang deep in her chest. He had so much of his life ahead of him and now that was all gone.
“Who is he?” Savannah asked.
“The ID in his wallet says his name is Gerard Montclair. We haven’t been able to contact his family yet, since it seems his family is in France. We contacted the French Consulate but they haven’t been able to provide us with any information yet but they are checking.”
“Montclair is a Necromancer Family name,” Savannah turned away from the body and to Detective Moreno.
“We were informed of that fact when representatives from Guild arrived to retrieve his body,” Detective Moreno informed her dryly.
“So they are aware of his death which means that whatever happened to him, the Guild is at least aware of the circumstances.”
“And they’re not telling us shit,” the other woman practically growled, “I’ve been informed by the Chief that I have twenty-four hours before we’re required to release the body to the Guild. They went above our heads to the commissioner and informed him that we’ve interfered with their investigation in to the death of one of their own. As the man in a supernatural, his death is outside the bounds of local police department. His death will be dealt which by the Necromancer Guild.”
The spat out each word, “The Captain was able to stall the Guild but we are to return the body as we found it, so no autopsy can be done. And seeing as how this is a necromancer matter, none of the local guild will assist us before we are required to handover the body.”
Savannah nodded her head in understanding, “So you needed someone outside of the guild to assist you.”
“That was one of the reasons I asked for your help,” Detective Moreno admitted, “But you also know what you’re doing. More so than the jackasses the Guild sends our way. You don’t play games and you give straight answers. I want to make sure this young man receives justice for his death, not just a cover up and for that I need your help.”
“Okay,” Savannah cheeks warmed at the praise. Something she was never comfortable with. She quickly turned back to the body. They needed answers and she wouldn’t have a second time to get them.
“I don’t want to try raising his spirit yet, not until I know what the glyphs are for. Were you able to get pictures of them?”
“We tried,” Sly informed her, “but no matter what we do, the glyphs don’t show up in the photos. We even had our tech guys down here trying everything they could. It’s as if the marks can only be seen by the human eye.”
Savannah stopped her examination to look at Sly, “Could you get a sketch artist to make a sketch of the body. I don’t think I’ll be able to figure out each glyph in the twenty-four hour period. If there is some way we can record, I can review it later.”
Sly just shook he head, “Tried that as well. The artist was here yesterday. She was able to do a sketch of Mr. Montclair with no problem. But when she tried to copy the glyphs she couldn’t remember what the marks looked like. She could see the mark just as we do, but when she tried to sketch them, it was as if they were wiped from her mind. The poor woman tried for three hours before she gave up and left in tears. Nothing we tried works. We can see them clearly, but whenever we try to record them, it just doesn’t work.
Savannah looked down at the translucent glyphs covering the young man’s body. She had assumed they had been painted on, but what if she was wrong. Leaning over, she rubbed a gloved finger over one of the marks. No smudges or smears, the sigil was perfectly intact, which could only mean one thing.
Swearing under her breath, Savannah walked back to her bag and grabbed the entire box of chalk along with the two pieces she had brought out earlier.
“This is going to take me some time to prepare, but I’m going to need a second opinion. I know you don’t trust necromancers affiliated with the Guild but there is only one person I know who might understand the purpose of the glyphs. Luckily, he also had connections to one of the most powerful French Necromancer families.”
“Who is he?” Detective Moreno questioned as Savannah knelt on the floor beside the body and began to work on the first circle of protection.
“The heir of the Stavros Family, CEO of the American branch of Acheron?” Detective’s Moreno’s dark brows rose, “Santos said he had a run in with the man the other night. What makes you think Stavros will help? He’s not exactly known for the cooperating with the local law enforcement.”
That made Savannah pause. Was Lukas always sticking his nose where it didn’t belong? So Friday night hadn’t been something new? Well, it didn’t matter at this point. She needed his help right now. He owed her, she was calling in her favor.
“He’ll come. He owes me,” Savannah said simply as she started on the first circle once more.
“Well, why not?” Detective Moreno said with a shrug as she turned towards the door.
“Could you also contact Officer Courtland?” Savannah called out as Detective Moreno neared the swinging doors.
“Sure, what did you need me to tell her?”
“Tell her I’m going to need my cat. She’ll understand.”
Detective Moreno just stared at Savannah for a long moment, but then shook her head and muttered something about better off not knowing and then she was out the door leaving Savannah to her work.
Savannah gave Detective Moreno credit. She worked fast. Savannah was just putting the last touch on the tenth circle of protection when Abby came rushing in, cat carrier swinging from her arms. She came to an immediate stop when she saw the chalks circles that took up nearly the entire floor of the morgue. Sly had found himself a stool in the corner of the room and watched as Savannah worked. It had taken over an hour of work and her knees and palms felt bruised but she had finally finished. Sitting back on her heels, she took a look at her work. It might have been overkill but seeing as this was something she had never seen before, she figured better to be safe than sorry.
“What the hell?” Abby muttered when she took in Savannah’s hard work.
Abby had seen Savannah at work before. She knew what a protection circle was. But the most Savannah had ever used before was three. Since the circles were more for show then anything else, Savannah never bothered to use more than three, which is the most circles normal Necromancers used for raisings. She was sure Abby might have seen more if she worked with the Guild, but ten circles were unheard of. Mostly because it took a shit load of power to power up ten circles. More power then your average necromancer had. Luckily for Savannah, she wasn’t your average necromancer.
“What are you planning on raising? A god?” Abby shook her head as she set the carrier down. Abby may not have any real magic of her own, but she had seen Savannah do it often enough to know how it worked. Also being the daughter of a witch and mage, she had been around magic often enough to pick up a lot even if she couldn’t make use of the knowledge she had.
“It doesn’t hurt to be safe,” Savannah said simply as she she reached her arms above her head to stretch out her back. She had been on her hands as knees for the last hour and it felt like it. She hadn’t done anything this complex since she was in school and they were learning how to create protective circles.
Charlie crawled out of the carrier and gave her a work a look. He just sniffed before sitting down and cleaning his paws. It wasn’t like they were dirty or anything, but it seemed to be a cat thing that he had picked up over the years.
“I’ve seen a lot of raising in my time, but never one that required this many protection circles,” Sly said, his heavy brows crinkled down, “This is going to take a lot of juice. Are you sure you’re up to this?”
“He’s right Sav,” Abby frowned. Savannah just waved off their worries. This would be nothing.
“Doing this will be like waving a flag at the Necromancer Guild screaming Here I am,” Charlie warned, his bright yellow eyes watching her, “They’re wary of you already. You might have been able to fly under their radar until now, but this will definitely put you in their sights.”
Savannah scowled, knowing what he said was true. But this, whatever it was, had her worried. She had never seen anything like this before. Had never even heard of anything like this. But there was something about it, something that tickled a part of her brain, that said this was something she should know. But why? Was it worth exposing herself to find out? She didn’t know, all she knew was that this was something she had to do.
Besides, she wasn’t completely stupid. There was a reason she had asked for Lukas’ presence. He knew who she was. There was nothing she could do that he didn’t already know or suspect. The necromancers in town weren’t familiar with Lukas power. She was hoping that when they senses the explosion of power she was about to set off, they would mistake it for Lukas’ and not her own.
“It doesn’t matter what we say or do, she’s going to do it anyway,” Charlie said with a sigh, having recognized the determination on Savannah’s face.
“This is something I have to do. I can’t explain it, but it’s something I have to do,” Savannah shook her head frustratedly, unable to explain herself in words.
Charlie got to his feet and he prowled around the circle, his nose twitching, “He smells of Death.”
“He is dead,” Abby reminded him, which earned her a glare.
“I didn’t say he smells dead,” Charlie snipped, “I said he smells of Death.”
“And there is a difference?” Savannah asked, truly puzzled. She couldn’t smell either so it was interesting that there was a difference. But what he was telling her was what she had already expected, just not to hear so from him.
“There is dead, and then there is Death.” He emphasized the last word. Death with a capital D then.
Savannah’s brows furrowed, “Are you saying he’s a Reaper?”
“Possibly,” Charlie said simply as he continued around the circle.
“What’s a reaper?” Abby asked.
“A reaper is a Death Dealer, a necromancer who brings death rather than breaches the barrier between it and the living world,” A deep voice answered before Savannah had a chance to speak.
“What does that even mean?” Abby looked from Lukas to Savannah.
“It means it he might be a necromancer who has been trained to use his powers to take a life,” Savannah said simply. “He’s a kid,” Abby argued, “He can hardly be out of his teens. How can he be a trained killer.”
“Reapers are trained from the moment they enter the Academy,” Lukas informed her.
“They train children to kill?” Abby practically screamed, her eyes darting from Lukas to Savannah.
“It’s nothing something that is talked about often. But it was a persistent rumor among the students. Reapers are born with a certain talent, if this talent is discovered when the student is tested in to the Academy, they are immediately pulled from the normal curriculum and instead are taught to harness their unique talent. Reapers are rare and highly prized,” Lukas stated.
“That’s disgusting,” Abby spat out.
“Now, now, it’s not a sin that is unique to just the necromancers. I have heard of similar things going on in among the witches and mages, not to mention us non-supes as well. There is a dark side to every race, it is not limited to necromancers,” Sly said before turning to Lukas, “I have heard of Reapers before, but like most, I believed they were rumor and nothing more. What makes you think that Reapers are real?”
“I have seen with my own eyes that there are individuals whose powers are not limited to bridging the worlds of the living and the death. I have seen them shatter that barrier. Reapers are not born killers, nor are their powers just limited to killing. There is another side to their powers, they can also bring people back from the dead.”
“You’re talking about that vampire urban legend that went around about ten years or so ago,” Sly nodded.
Lukas nodded, Savannah frowned. She hadn’t heard of a vampire urban legend. Sure she knew what vampires were, everyone did. But they also knew that vampires weren’t real. Zombies were to a point. Powerful necromancers could raise the death and control their bodies like dolls. But the zombies were mindless dolls that followed ordered. They didn’t eat humans or infect them with some zombie virus, but they could be used to kill.
Vampires were something else entirely. Vampires were supposed to be souls of people returned to their bodies with their minds intact. They had limited free will. They could think on their own and were in charge of their own actions, the limitation came in because they were also bound to their creators. They creators gave them life and they could take it away.
Savannah had learned all this, but she had been told that it was a myth and nothing more. Vampires weren’t real.
“What urban legend?” Abby asked before Savannah was given a chance.
“About ten years ago there were rumors going around about a man being brought back from the dead. I have seen no actual proof but rumors circulated in the medical world and among necromancers. I heard different versions from multiple sources but basically the stories are all the same. A hooded man walks in to a morgue and walks back out with a dead man who is now alive.”
“How were they sure the man wasn’t a reanimated corpse?” Savannah questioned.
“They say the man spoke,” Sly informed her.
Savannah frowned. Reanimated corpses didn’t speak. They didn’t have the capability. They were basically dolls, and nothing more. They didn’t eat, sleep, or speak. They followed commands given by their animators and that was it.
“It doesn’t sound like enough to create an urban legend,” Savannah said, “There could be so many ways to explain it away. What would make people think that it was a vampire.”
“The second man was covered in necromatic sigils drawn in blood,” Lukas replied dryly.
“Still not enough for my first thought to be, look it’s a vampire,” Savannah shook her head.
“It was enough to draw the necromancer guild to investigate,” Lukas informed her.
“Because of one questionable siting?”
“No, because of twelve questionable sitings. Always the same hooded man, but each time a different dead person in twelve different locations across the country. All of the dead people supposedly had necromancer blood, but none of them strong enough to attend the academies or register with the guild.”
“Was there any proof ever found if the incidents really occurred?” Abby directed her question as Lukas.
“If there was, they have never said. The investigation was closed just as quickly as it was opened. No report was ever made to the public. Most assumed it was nothing more that an urban legend and the guild wanted to sweep the entire embarrassment under the rug as soon as possible. Other’s believed that the story was rule, and the Guild wanted to secret to vampirism hidden immediately and that was why the public investigation was closed.”
“And you think this man is a reaper? That he can bring people back to life?”
“We won’t know until you raised the spirit, since that’s what I’m assuming you plan on doing, why you asked for my presence,” Lukas gestured to the body.
“It’s not quite a raising,” Savannah nibbled on her bottom lip.
“What do you mean this isn’t quite a raising?” Lukas enunciated each word and his lips drew down in a scowl.
“Well it’s like Charlie said, our necromancer here smells of Death, but he doesn’t smell dead, which was something I had already begun to suspect what I saw the nearly transparent glyphs painted all over his body. I had mistaken assumed that they they had used a translucent ink to mark him, but when I touched his body and try to rub the mark off, it didn’t smudge. So it means that the marks could have only been made one way-”
“Blood magic,” Lukas scowl grew deeper as he turned his eyes to look at the protective circles Savannah had spent the last hour drawing. He had taken a cursory glance when he had first arrived, but now he really looked at them.
“What magic?” Savannah turned to see Detective Moreno walking through the swinging doors. She came to a stop almost immediately when she saw the circles of protection, “Holy Shit.”
“Welcome back detective,” Sly offered the woman a smile, “You got back just in time. Things are just starting to get interesting.”
“Interesting how? Just what the hell are you planning are doing in here? I thought this was going to be a simple raising. I didn’t expect to come back to this.” She waved her hand at the chalk covered floor.
“I think there is a very important reason why the necromancer guild is demanding the body of their guard back untouched,” Savannah explained quickly before the woman had time to explode, “I don’t think he’s dead.”
“He sure looks dead to me,” Detective Moreno replied, her mouth tightening around the edges.
“There is a reason your cameras and sketch artist can’t copy the glyphs although we can see them. Its because the glyphs aren’t really there, at least not there on this side of the barrier. What we are seeing is a reflection. This man’s body is here, but his spirit, or his soul whatever you want to call it is on the other side of the wall. The glyphs you see are basically the ties between the man’s body and his soul.”
“Ok,” Detective Moreno nodded. Savannah couldn’t help but notice how the woman’s left eyes had begun to twitch.
“Have you ever heard of a Reaper?” Savannah decided to try another route, before she broke the detective. The detective shook her head. Her movements stiff and jerky.
“Reapers are necromancer were a very rare skill. While normal necromancer are only capable of reaching across the barrier that separates the living from the dead, Reapers are able to break through that barrier. For Reapers, there is no wall between the living world and the world of the dead. If I am correct, while Mr. Montclair’s body is here, his soul is across the barrier in the world of the dead.”
Detective Moreno had begun to shake her head around the same time Savannah had started speaking. Her lips were pressed firmly together as she shook her head slowly back and forth. Savannah wasn’t sure if that was because she didn’t believe a word Savannah said, or if it was because she did.
“Where exactly was this body found?” Savannah asked, hoping redirecting the conversation might help the poor woman.
“Outside the wall,” Sly informed her when the detective did not reply, but instead stared intently at the body in the middle of the room. Savannah had asked Sly to drape something over the man’s midsection. She had no desire to stare at a naked man for the rest of the day. She didn’t mind the nakedness when she was doing a raising, but it some how felt different in this case.
It took a second for Sly’s words to register, “Outside the wall?”
“Probably a hundred yards from the first body,” Sly nodded his head.
“Was he by himself?” Savannah sort of remembered hearing that Abby had been called in because of something big. Was this that something big?
“No, there were four other bodies,” Sly nodded his head towards the wall with the other body lockers.
“Four? Did they have similar marks?”
“No,” Sly shook his head.
“Any markings on the ground around them?” Savannah asked as she absently tapped the bit of chalk still in her hand on the concrete floor.
“None that were visible,” Abby reported.
“Interesting,”Savannah said more to herself than anyone else in the room.
“You think they were sacrifices,” Lukas stated rather then questioned.
“Sacrifices?” Detective Moreno practically shouted.
“Even a powerful Reaper couldn’t do something like this alone. Their souls don’t leave their body when they travel to the world of the dead, their physical body travels as well,” Savannah informed her absently before quickly adding, “Or so I’ve been informed.”
She didn’t miss the way Lukas’ lips twisted in a smirk at her slip.
“But why so close to the Wall?” Savannah murmured, “What do they know that we don’t?”
“You believe this has something to do with the Wall?” Detective Moreno’s head snapped in her direction. Savannah turned to the Detective and studied her for a long moment before answering her question, “None of us know what the Wall is, where is came from, or why its here. But we have all been able to sense a great power within it. World changing power.”
Detective Moreno’s mouth dropped open as she stared at Savannah before whirling on Lukas who was scowling darkly at Savannah, “Is this true?”
When Lukas didn’t answer, the Detective turned to Abby who didn’t look any happier with Savannah announcement, “Is this true?”
“I cannot personally attest to the matter, but I have heard from other supernaturals that they do sense a presence in the mist,” Abby answered with a sigh.
“A presence? I thought you said it was a great power,” the Detective snapped, her brown eyes blazing. Abby groaned softly when she realized her mistake.
“No one is exactly sure what it is,” Savannah shrugged off the woman’s ire, “In truth, at this point in time it doesn’t matter what it is. No one can get to the source of the power. Anyone that tries either ends up dead or with amnesia. So far, it hasn’t been worth the risk to discover what the source of the power is.”
“But you believe things have changed on that matter now?” The detective asked.
Savannah turned back to the body, “Only a fool would try to breach the Wall. The mist doesn’t just take away your memories, it steals away a part of your soul.”
* * * * *
“Is the camera rolling?” Savannah asked as she stood at the edge of the circle, her ceremonial dagger held loosely in right hand.
“Rolling,” Sly confirmed as he adjusted the monitor he had been using earlier to watch the game to show her the camera feed. She could see herself standing at the edge of the protective circle wearing just her jeans and loose tee. Her feet were bare against the cold concrete, but she needed the anchor to this world.
Charlie sat primly at her feet, his tail swaying back and forth as he stared at the man’s body. He would be her guide, when the real magic started, her connection between the real world and the world of the dead would become tenuous. Charlie would be there to focus her and guide her back in necessary.
Savannah took one last glance at Abby, Lukas and Detective Moreno who stood against the back wall, out of the way but with clear view of the proceedings. Abby leaned against the wall, her arms crossed over her chest as she watched Savannah with wary interest. Lukas though, stood stiff and straight beside her. He had gone back to his car for a change of clothes and now stood barefoot like Savannah in a pair of loose black linen slacks and a loose black cotton button down shirt. HIs work clothes. He either didn’t trust Savannah skill or her realized what a craphole this mess could turn in to. Either way, he seemed prepared.
Detective Moreno stood near the swinging doors, her face a blank mask. Whatever she was thinking was hidden behind her cop face. Savannah wished she could do that. Unfortunately for her, whatever she felt showed on her face. Abby once told her never to play poker, she would lose. Savannah bet that Detective Moreno never lost.
Turning back to the body in the middle of the room, Savannah closed her eyes and took a deep breath to center herself. It had been a very long time since she had done anything half as complicated at this. One slip up and she could bring a whole lot of shit down on their heads and that would not be good.
Deep breath in, long exhale and eyes open. Savannah focused on the body in front of her. Without looking down. she lifted her hands, bringing the edge of the blade to her palm, she bit down and quickly ran the blade against her flesh.
A sharp bite of pain hit her as blood welled up where her flesh parted. The magic of the circle awoke immediately. The chalk lines at her feet began to glow as the circle fed off the power in her blood. Holding her hand over the chalk lines, she let the blood pool in her palm before it dripped over the sides, the drops landing with a hiss where they met the white lines.
The magic in the circles swelled as it consumed every last drop of power in her blood. The glyphs went from a soft glow to blinding bright. Savannah was nearly knocked off her feet by the wave of power that hit her.
“Careful,” Charlie warned as one of her feet slipped.
Savannah readjusted her footing as she braced her body to take the power.
“This is too much power even for a Class 1 Level A necromancer,” Lukas called from behind her.
“She’s fine. She’s got it,” Charlie said, not taking his eyes off Savannah. He was right, it took her a moment to adjust to the power coming off the circle, but she didn’t fight it. Instead she embraced it, gathering it within her and then weaving it back in to the circle like a circuit.
“Good,” Charlie nodded. His words were no longer as clear as they had been a moment before. They were muffled and seemed like they were coming from far away rather than from beside her.
Savannah was no longer aware of the room around her. Her entire focus was on stablizing the circles, adjusting her power to match that of the circles so that they were no longer separate but one. A pleasant hum filled her body as the two magics aligned.
With the circles now under her control, Savannah reached out to the other source of magic in the room, the body in the middle of her circles. This magic was different, it tasted bitter in her mouth, there was a wrongness to it. It was not right.
Reaching out she drew the magic from the body. She pulled on the tether that bound the man and the magic. She watched as slowly, the glyphs on the man’s body began to light up. What she had not been able to see when the magic was inert she was able to see clearly now.
She had been wrong. The man’s soul had not separated from his body. The reason she hadn’t been able to sense his soul was because there was so little of it left. Savannah swore viciously.
“What’s wrong?” Charlie asked, his voice still distant but she could still hear him.
“We were wrong,” Savannah informed him, “The other men were not the sacrifice, he is.”
“Sacrifice? For what?” Charlie spoke, but the words were not his.
“We were right, he is a Reaper,” Savannah continued on, getting the words out while she could, “Whoever bound him is using his body as a gateway. They are using the power of his soul to open a gate between the living world and the world of the dead. The spell on his soul will last only as long as his soul does. What remains is so thin that I can barely see it.”
“Savannah,” Charlie’s voice was even softer now, but she could still hear the edge in his voice, “Don’t do anything. Lukas is calling in his people now. Close the circles and come back. You’ve done all you can.”
Savannah shook her head, “The gate has to be closed.”
“No!” Charlie’s voice was a mere whisper now, “You are pushing your body too far. Using that much magic will leave you open. Let it go for now. Lukas’ people are on the way.”
Savannah knew she was right. The gate had to be closed now. They didn’t have time for Lukas’ men to arrive. There would be nothing of Gerard left if they waited. Savannah had seen too many souls lost already, she would not stand around and watch another soul vanish when she had the power to stop it.
Losing Gerard was not an option. Opening a path between the circles, Savannah made her way to the body. Charlie called her name again, but she ignored him. Savannah reached the stainless steel table in the middle of the circles, the glyphs scribed on the body glowed over every inch of skin. What she hadn’t been able to make out earlier was clear now.
They had marked him, used him and planned to sacrifice him. He was nothing more than a tool to them. A toy to be played with then destroyed when they were done with it. Every soul was a gift from the gods, a precious treasure that should never be thrown away so callously. A life was one thing, but a soul was something else completely. Once a soul was lost, there was no coming back. They vanished completely. You couldn’t save something that no longer existed. How could they not understand this. How could they so willingly sacrifice something so precious?
Savannah’s fury powered her as she reached out with her bloody hand, placing her bleeding palm on the man’s bare abdomen she let her blood soak into the sigils covering the man.
Power slammed in to her pushing her back as spell on the man fought back against her magic. Too bad for the creator they spell was designed for a Reaper. She was sure Gerard must have fought against the spell that was draining his soul. He must have fought with everything he was yet he had been able to do nothing but lie there as the spell drained him to the point that he could no longer fight anymore. As powerful as the magic of the spell was, Savannah was stronger. Grabbing the edges of the magic Savannah pulled. A high pitch screech filled her head as the magic fought. But where Gerard had been a Reaper, Savannah was more. She had stood at Death’s Door and she shattered it. For Charlie’s soul she had fought death itself and she had won.
Gathering the full strength of her power, Savannah sent a burst of magic at glyphs that bound the man. The spell held out for a full five seconds before shattering under the force of her magic. There was a bright brust of light and the world around her faded.
When she opened her eyes again, she was no longer standing by the body, instead she lay on the ground clear of the circle. She knew this because she could see her jean clad legs laid out on the bare concrete. She knew she should feel the cold hard concrete beneath her, but instead it felt like she was floating on air. Her limbs felt so light as loose.
Turning her head too way more effort then it should have. Glancing up she saw a group of people standing around the body on the table. One man was hooking up an IV, while another seemed to be taking the dead man’s blood pressure. The spoke softly, their voices too far away from Savannah to make out a single word. But she assumed the dead man was no longer dead.
“You have a bad habit of not listening,” A voice said from above her. Savannah tried to tilt her head back, but it took way too much effort. She gave up after too many unsuccessful tries. She figured she really didn’t need to look at the person who lecturing her since she quite sure who it was. Her muscles might not be working, but her ears were. She had recognized the voice, Lukas Stavros.
“You nearly killed yourself trying to save a man that probably wasn’t worth it.”
“All souls are worth it,” Savannah said, her words sounded a little slurred even to herself.
Lukas sighed as he squatted down next to her so that she could see him without having to look up since her neck no longer seemed to be working.
“My people were finally able to get in contact with Celine. She informed them that she did indeed know of the man. Gerard Montclair was hardly a saint. He didn’t need to be trained to be a killer, he was a killer before the Guild came along and gave him license to kill. He used his powers to wreck havoc and instill fear in his own family. They were glad to see him go,” Lukas told her matter of factly.
“You saving him didn’t do him any favors. From what they were able to gather, the police are prepared to arrest the man and persecute him for the crimes they are aware of. They believe he was the one to kill the four man found with him. You saving him now might have only prolonged his life for a short period of time.”
“If he deserves to die, then the courts will decide that. But it is not our duty to decide whether a soul has the right to exist. Death is one thing, being erased from existence in another. No one desires to have their soul sacrificed, no one.”
Lukas was silent for a long moment before he finally replied, “We shall have to wait to see on that.”
With that said he got up and walked over to the group of paramedics and spoke softly to them. Savannah watched him for a second before a furry black body sat down right in front of her face.
“He saved your ass you know,” Charlie informed her as he watched the paramedic load Gerard on to a gurney, “Not once but twice.”
“What happened?” Savannah asked warily, trying to lift her head to see beyond the black body, but her body stilled seemed to be boneless as she couldn’t seem to get her neck to cooperate.
“You forgot yourself again,” Charlie turned to look at her over his shoulder, “Even ten circles were not enough to contain your powers. He saw what he was happening in time to add two more circles to absorb your magic. Circles he used his own blood to power to contain your magic.”
Savannah froze as Charlie’s words set in. Charlie wasn’t lying. Lukas had saved her life. Savannah wasn’t a Reaper. She may have been born a Reaper, but she hadn’t been one for the last eight years. What happened that night all those years ago had changed both of them. What Savannah had done had marked her. Where necromancers were bound by the barrier, and Reapers could pass through the barrier, for Savannah, there was no barrier.
She had been broken and remade that night. The young woman who had gone in, did not come out. She had died and been reborn. She had literally shattered Death’s Door and been marked by it. There was no name for someone like her. There had never been another like her. She wasn’t even truly sure what she was capable of. She learned new thing about her powers almost every time she used them.
But the one thing she had learned quickly on was that when she lost control of her powers, people got hurt. Lukas, with his quick thinking had saved her friends and the detective. With the amount of magic she was weilding, the others in the room would have done more than just get hurt, they could have died.
While Savannah was still reeling from the implications Charlie had filled her head with, he hit her with one last thing.
“You also have to thank him for masking your magic. Because he used his blood in the last two circles, the Guild could only sense his magic and not yours. As far as he and everyone outside of this room are concerned, you are just a bystander that was unfortunately injured.”
With a groan she closed her eyes and lay back. Shit, now she owed him. Something she was sure he was not going to let her forget.
“So I hear you started the party without me,” Kira teased as she set down a mug of root beer in front of Savannah and a mug of diet coke in front of Abby.
“Can’t help it if you decided to go on a trip with the latest lover and left us all alone. We had to find something to keep our attention,” Savannah countered as her friend set down a platter of mac n’cheese and streaming brown bread on the table.
Kira’s family owned a Irish pub a few blocks down from Courtlands. When Abby and Savannah were living together and were too damn lazy to cook they headed to O’Briens. That’s how they met Kira, the owner’s daughter who was part-time hostess, part-time bartender and full-time night manager. Her older brother was supposed to be taking care of the place but his wife just had a baby and he had left running the place to his younger sister. Kira had not been thrilled with all the responsibility suddenly thrown on her shoulders, but instead of collapsing under the pressure she had thrived.
So when their father retired a couple of years ago, the managing of the place was handed to Kira and her brother, Jimmy. Jimmy took care of the kitchen while Kira took care of the front.
O’Briens had started off as a traditional Irish pub but, but over the years they started to incorporated local favorites in to their menu to draw in a bigger crowd. Now that place was always busy. If they didn’t know the manager, it might have been hard to get a seat on a busy night. Luckily they were well known to all the O’Briens so finding a seat was never hard.
“Please tell me the rumors are not true and you did not nearly blow up the morgue,” Kira placed her hands on her hips as she stared down at Savannah. Savannah scowled, remembered that O’Briens was also popular with off duty cops as they gave a fifteen percent discount between five p.m. and nine p.m.
“How the hell did that rumor get started? I did not nearly blow up the morgue.”
Abby just snorted as she grabbed a piece of freshly baked bread and began to slather it with butter.
“I did not blow up the morgue,” Savannah repeated as she glared at her friend.
“You were completely unaware of your surroundings so you do not feel the building shake when you broke that last spell,” Abby informed her before she took a big bite out of her buttered bread, “From what I hear, anyone one the top floor of the station swore the floor swayed below their feet.”
“Fine, fine, fine,” Savannah waved it off as she reached for her own piece of bread, “I can’t argue against that. But why does everyone assume it was me? I was not the only supernatural there.”
“Because the other supe there was Lukas Stavros,” Kira shook her head as if it was obvious.
“What the heck does that mean?” Savannah turned to her friend, butter knife in hand.
“Hello, have you seen the man? No one that perfect could possibly be the cause for such a near disaster,” Kira shook her head, her maple colors curls bounced against her shoulders, drawing the attention of a group of young men across from them. Savannah couldn’t help but notice how appreciative the men were of her friend’s looks. Kira had that affect on men. She was very popular with the clients, especially those of the masculine gender.
Savannah would have been jealous if she actually wanted attention from men. But her life was complicated enough without adding a man to it. She had realized long ago that having a man in her life would be near impossible. She had too many secrets to make a relationship plausible. Not to mention a moody roommate who was barely tolerable on good days. A regular cat would have been bad enough, but a talking cat with no filter was a nightmare.
Besides, being popular with the opposite sex was not always a good thing. Kira basically spend her entire day being hit on. She had heard every pick up line in the book and swore one day she was write a book of every lame line that had been thrown in her direction.