Spell Blind – Snippet 14
Holding the scrying stone in my hand, with the strand of her hair coiled beneath it, I cleared myself and summoned a vision of what she had seen. Three elements to the spell: Claudia, this place, and my stone. As simple as a spell could be.
The blue and white lines in my piece of agate faded, so all that remained was a reflection of the blue sky and dark leaves above me. And then the image darkened. At first I thought that I’d wasted my time, that she was already dead. I saw nothing in the stone, heard nothing in my head. Or did I?
There was sound. Shallow breathing and a low whimpering noise that made my stomach clench itself into a fist. And something else: footsteps on a hard trail of rock and sand. Shading the stone with my free hand, I realized there was an image on the surface, too, though it was murky. I could make out the ground below me as it would appear at night, illuminated by the weak light of a quarter moon.
My pulse quickened. Claudia had been here, alive and with her sight intact.
I moved into the shade of the palo verdes, still staring hard at the vision I’d summoned to my scrying stone. I couldn’t make out much. It seemed he was carrying her over his shoulder, and that she was only semi-conscious. She continued to whimper as he walked; her vision remained dim, muted, maybe because of the drugs in her body.
After several minutes of this, the footsteps stopped. An instant later, the vision in my stone heaved and spun. I heard the sharp crunch of stone, a hard grunt, and then a low moan of pain. The trail had vanished, swallowed by darkness. But after a few seconds, Claudia’s eyes fluttered open again, and I saw starlight. I saw the moon, glowing high overhead.
And I saw him — the Blind Angel killer — looming over her, blocking out the stars while the moon kept his face in shadow. I leaned closer to the stone, desperate for any details I could make out — his face, his hair, his body-type. He seemed tall, although that could have been Claudia’s perspective. His hair, if he had any at all, was short; a buzz-cut, maybe. But even with the agate only inches from my nose, I couldn’t make out his features.
He reached toward her face, his hand dark against the night sky, long-fingered, graceful. And I gasped at the sight. I knew that hand, those elegant fingers. I’d seen them in my office mirror a few days before, gliding over a burning glow, chasing wisps of gray smoke. My scrying.
In my mind I heard Claudia scream. My stone flared crimson — the color of fresh blood, so bright I had to turn away. And when I squinted down at my scrying stone again, it was just a piece of sea-green agate with twisting bands of blue and white.
I tried to summon the image again, and failed. I pulled out a second strand of Claudia’s hair and spoke the spell aloud. But the stone remained as it was. I closed my eyes, cleared myself, repeated the spell. Nothing. I didn’t know if seeing spells couldn’t be repeated, or if I was too appalled by what I’d seen to cast the spell a second time. I closed my eyes once more, this time attempting to commit to memory what I’d been able to make out of Claudia’s killer. He was lanky. His head appeared shaven. And his hands . . . I would never forget those. I knew, though, that this wasn’t much to go on. His most distinctive characteristic was the color of his magic, and I had a feeling that if I saw one of his spells coming at me, it would be too late for me to do much of anything to stop him.
I surveyed the crime scene for another moment, searching for anything that Kona might have missed, or any stray signs of magic. Nothing caught my eye. Feeling weary and frustrated, I turned around and began the long walk back to the Z-ster.
This was one of those times when I would have been willing to ignore my aversion to cell-phones. I needed to talk to Kona, but I had no signal out on the trail. I walked fast, and was sweating like a marathoner by the time I reached the parking lot. But here I had three bars on my phone. I dialed Kona’s number.
“Justis, I’ve been trying to call you all morning.”
“Have you got anything for me? Hibbard and Deegan have managed to get Gann’s arraignment moved up. He’ll be in court tomorrow. The way things are moving, they’ll have him tried and convicted by the end of the week.”
“I saw him.”
That stopped her. “Saw who?” she asked, although I could tell that she already knew.
“Our guy. I used a kind of scrying magic — a seeing spell.”
“You’re losing me, Justis.”
I grinned. All those years ago, Kona had struggled to adjust to the fact that I was a weremyste. Acceptance had come harder for her than it would have for most people. She could be stubborn, and as a detective she had been trained to trust in logic, to believe only what her eyes could see. So placing faith in my abilities had been a stretch for her. That she had done so at all spoke to the depth of our friendship. But in all the years we’d known each other, she had never gotten used to hearing me talk about magic and spells. It confused her, butted up against that rational training. Sometimes I talked about this stuff just to bug her. This time I’d been too excited to remember.
“I went out to South Mountain Park,” I told her. “And I used that stone I carry to see what Claudia saw in her last moments.” I skipped the part about the hair; she didn’t want to hear those details, and I would have felt like a ghoul telling her that I’d taken hairs from Claudia’s brush.
“You can do that?”
“I learned this magic in the past few months. Otherwise I would have done it long ago.”
“And you saw him?”
“It was dark; I only saw him in silhouette. He’s tall, lean. I think he might be bald, and . . . and he has long thin hands.” I hesitated. “I know that’s not much.”
“No,” she said. “But it’s something. Would you recognize him if you saw him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. I’d know the color of his magic, and I’d know his hands.”
“What’s all this about his hands?”
“I scried them once before. They made an impression. I’m not sure why.” I took a breath, knowing what I had to say, knowing that it wouldn’t do Kona any good. “Gann’s not our guy. I’m sure of it now. For all intents and purposes, I saw the person who killed her.”
“Yeah,” she said, the word coming out as a sigh. “I hear you. But how do we prove it to Hibbard?”
“We catch the right guy, and we hope that Gann manages to get himself a decent lawyer.”
“Right. Where are you going next?”
“Q’s place. I’ll let you know what I find out.”
We hung up and I pulled out my weapon to make sure that it was fully loaded. I didn’t know if bullets would work against this weremyste or not, but I’d seen him now; he felt more real to me than he ever had before. And I’m not above admitting that I was scared of the guy.