Pulling the door open, he sees August sitting on the floor; he is barefoot and wearing pajamas printed with the Batman logo. His hair is a curled nest of black, and his glasses have slid to the edge of his nose. He is not surrounded by the typical scrolls and arcane tomes; an open pizza box sits with a quarter of cold pepperoni pizza still in residence, a black handbag phone rests in his lap, and an open phonebook is splayed out before him. Minerva sits at the desk, typing away at the whirring desktop. She’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans, her hair in a loose bun. Restlessly, Tobias paces, looking out the window occasionally.
All three turn from their pursuits and look at Malcolm expectantly. He feels like a mouse in a room full of cats. He avoids eye contact with Tobias; there’s something about him that innately bothers Malcolm, something predatory. Instead, he looks at Minerva, then August, and then at the center of Tobias’ forehead as he explains what happened at The Haven.
“It went as well as I could have expected. The bear suit made things a little difficult; the head made it really difficult to see everything. I spotted the sigil that Minerva talked about; people seemed to be avoiding it like the plague. I got a bad feeling about the thing. My specialty really isn’t in sigils and stuff, but I could see that it was some pretty strong magic, something beyond what someone on this side of reality could manage. I think the magic was worked from the Other World, at least that’s what logic dictates.
King Bodon is plenty strong, and I don’t think that he’d waste even a portion of his power just to snag a chance at a soul by granting wishes. I’d say that this is how he’d seal the deal.” Malcolm’s face takes on a grim expression, he swallows, his throat feels tight. “I think that someone believes they are in control, and that they are being played like an ocarina.”
“Like a violin?” asks August, smiling and thinking that Malcolm was being strange for the sake of being strange.
“No, like an ocarina. There isn’t a lot of finesse involved, it is pretty straight forward and simple if you look at it. You just need to take into account that King Bodon is much more wise and powerful than you’d ever believe. I wouldn’t be surprised if this plan was constructed twenty years ago, and that our actions are calculated into the equation.” Malcolm sighs, lowers his eyes, “I think that the best thing we can do is nothing. In my opinion, that is the most unexpected course of action any of us, particularly any of you, would take.”
Consternation bloomed in the room, spreading like the wings of an eagle.
“No! No, that isn’t something we can do. We can’t just roll over and let him win. He prays on what people want, he takes their souls. I won’t let him do it!” said Tobias, his voice rising to a growling crescendo. Malcolm steps away from the door, fearful that Tobias will tear through him in order to charge away.
“It is just my opinion, but its based on logic. I know demons, and I know what they do. You can take it or leave it, but I can’t justify helping; I want to help, and that is how I know I should not help.” says Malcolm, backing away from Tobias.
Minerva brushes Tobias’ hand, and his fury seems to dwindle to a flicker. Malcolm feels more at ease. August is lost in contemplation.
“What if you’re logic is taken into account? What if King Bodon considered that you would convince us not to act?” asks Minerva, holding Tobias’ hand with both of hers. She feels his pulse, and it is still raging; she can feel the bones in his hand shift back and forth. She can tell that he doesn’t want to change, but she can tell that his body craves it.
“Damned if we don’t, simple enough.” says August, throwing his hands into the air. “But we still don’t know if Lana is involved. Our understanding of the whole situation is murky at best. Let’s face it kids, Sherlock Holms we are not. A fat lot of good your understanding of logic does if we’re still chasing a hypothesis.” Malcolm’s face reddens, insult pushing his heart to race and his stomach to churn. August locks eyes with Malcolm.
“Did you find anything about Lana?” asks August.
“Just that she wasn’t there, and that there was another murder.” responds Malcolm defensively. “Good enough to make her a real suspect. And if you don’t appreciate it, you can shove it. Maybe next time, you do your own grunt work.”
“Why didn’t you mention this first?” asks August angrily, color blossoming on his cheeks.
“I got distracted!” retaliated Malcolm, “You know, it isn’t every day that I see someone that I was talking to become a cold body a few hours later. You might live in that nightmare, but I don’t.”
August withers slightly, his temper easing.
“I’m sorry.” says August, “I didn’t really think about that. I, uh, we probably made a hasty choice when we asked you to do this. I just never really considered that you would see something like that.”
Feeling vindicated, Malcolm nods. He calmly recounts his experiences through the night, being certain to keep his opinions to himself until the end. As a group, they decide that Lana must know more than she is letting on, and that by finding the murderer that they would also find out more about King Bodon’s plan.
“What do we do next?” asks Tobias.
“Find out more concerning this murder. It is certainly terrestrial; Malcolm said that it appeared to be a knife wound. I’ve been talking to a necromancer that was referred to me by my uncle. I have a spell I can work that will allow me to find out more.” August says as he dials Detective Green’s cell phone number. “I just need to pay a visit to the morgue.”
Meanwhile, across the city, Detective Green’s phone vibrates briefly before it is smashed against the cement floor, a heavy boot falling upon it. In a darkened garage amongst Detective Green’s equipment for lawn care, his ear tumbles along the ridges of a coiled garden hose, leaving a thin trail of blood. A wide, vicious knife, pushes through Detective Green’s ribs while a voice softly chants words of power.
“Ai! Ai, na-hil. Fah-shal, shal-bal, F’rahl Bodon!” echoes through Detective Green’s final moments of consciousness as he fades from his life. Strong arms let his body hit the ground as the slick knife is drawn out from him with a sickening, sliding sound. A smile flashes in the night; “Two, now three more; let them come to me.” the voice hisses quietly.