Olian strode through the rainy streets of Marsten at an unhurried pace, navigating the thousands of small lakes and rivers that had formed as carefully as possible. The mage was conspicuously dry considering the the weather, as if the raindrops had amicably agreed to simply fall somewhere he wasn't. While they avoided his person, they did fall upon his robes. When they did so the water simply beaded up and ran off. If one looked close enough they would notice those beads of water never crossed over top of the many mystical symbols embroidered in gold thread. 

Pausing to look suspiciously around at the night, he tucked the oiled leather satchel more securely under his arm. There was something amiss. He couldn't see it, but he could feel it, that otherworldly sense that mages possessed setting his teeth on edge. Something was watching, eyes boring into the back of his neck no matter which way he turned. It was... unsettling. The feeling followed him from the warehouse where he'd met the watch all the way to the shop he called home. There was something out there, he was sure. And if he had to guess he would say it was otherworldly. A shade? The idea got him worried, though not overly so. His words to Mercer hadn't been just bravado after all. But mage or not, you'd have to be a fool not to worry about drawing the attention of supernatural beings. 

Once inside his shop he closed and locked the door. He muttered a string of words that would activate the magical wards carved into the door frame went to the window, peering out into the night to try and spy whatever it was that had been following him.   Though that feeling at the edge of perception told him it was still out there, he saw nothing. With a shrug he drew the curtains closed and activated wards similar to those on the door. They, and the ones on the door, had taken weeks to properly inscribe and required regular maintenance to keep them from fading. Some might have called him paranoid. Olian preferred to think of himself as immensely prepared for the unexpected.

He turned and surveyed his shop. It wasn't the sort of place that sold goods, really. There were no rows of shelves or bins stocked with items for purchase, though he did produce a regular offering of magical trinkets. No, Olian was in the business of selling services. Services such as the wards on the door and window, or the sort of expertise the Watch paid for. As such his was smaller than most shops - more of an elaborate office, really. Making his way to a desk that was cluttered with books and magical trinkets he used his free hand to pick up what would normally be called a candlestick. It was carved wood, broad at the base to provide a stable resting surface, but unlike a candlestick it was not encrusted with wax. Indeed, there was no candle at the top. Instead there was a rough crystal, jagged and unpolished, lashed in place with leather straps. With a guttural word of command the crystal flared to life, bathing the room in light brighter than any candle. 

He set the glowing crystal on an otherwise unoccupied corner of the desk and cleared a space on it. He removed the papers he carried from the leather satchel, carefully unwrapping the waxed paper and setting it aside to be used again. With the copies of the symbols spread out so as not to overlap each other too much, he pulled up a chair and sat. It creaked as he lowered himself into it, but this was nothing new. He moved the crystal this way and that, adjusting the way the light fell on the drawings until he was satisfied. 

The mage's eyes narrowed as he studied the drawings. The feeling of being watched was still there, nagging at him. He looked up at the door, furry eyebrows lowering. "Bah," he grumbled. Let it lurk in the night. It could do nothing more than that while he was in here, behind his wards. 

The drawings drew his eye again. There was something compelling about them, a vague familiarity that made him feel he could understand if only he stared at them a moment longer. Luckily, he knew better than that. Soon the drawings were accompanied by stacks and drifts of old musty tomes. He combed through them carefully, placing a page marker here and taking careful note there. Some books he left open to relevant passages and simply opened other volumes on top of them. Before he knew it the darkness had receded and morning sunlight was poking curiously around the edges of the curtains. He looked up from his studies and eyed the sunlight curiously where it pooled on the floor beneath the window.

Mind still awash with information carefully mined from a dozen books, it took Olian a moment to realize the import of what he was seeing. Morning had arrived. He blinked eyes which felt suddenly dry and itchy, wondering where the time had gone. It felt like just moments ago he'd settled in to begin his research. When he stood the chair wasn't the only thing to creak. 

With grunt of discomfort he took a moment to stretch before going to the window and throwing open the curtain. Wincing at the light he removed his glasses and rubbed at irritated eyes, and then rubbed both hands vigorously at his entire face. That helped, to a certain extent. What he really needed, his stomach reminded him with an irritated growl, was breakfast. He agreed wholeheartedly. 

He collected the drawings that had gained a monopoly on his attention during the night and shuffled them off into one of his desk drawers, which he locked. Unlike the door and window, the drawer had only an iron lock and key to keep it secure. Being that one would have to get past his wards before they had to deal with the lock on the drawer, Olian felt it relatively secure. He spoke softly to the still glowing crystal and it's inner light faded to darkness. 

Once outside Olian stifled a yawn and squinted up at the sky. Last night's storm had broken, though unlike yesterday it was clear that the weather intended to have another go at it well before nightfall. Clouds hung in the sky, individual islands of menace common enough to cast shadows over the city but far enough apart that there was still plenty of sunlight to be had. 

The streets were alive with people going about their business, running errands or simply enjoying the warm mostly sunny weather. The mage watched them for a time, though his attention was really elsewhere. The feeling of being observed had gone. He wasn't certain when it had disappeared, but he'd gotten so used to it during the night that it's absence was pronounced. Did that mean whatever it was had lost interest in him, or that it had something more important to do? 

His stomach announced that it didn't particularly matter so long as he went and got something to eat. He set off down the street. There was a place nearby that served decent fare and had the added benefit of also serving tea. Roland's was his usual breakfast spot when he bothered to eat breakfast, or his usual dinner spot when he felt like dinner. This morning he secured a roll fresh from the ovens, a sausage so well done as to be blackened on the outside, and a not insignificant amount of tea. He settled in at a table and was steadily packing it away when two Watch officers walked in. Normally he would have given them a friendly wave, maybe shared a friendly greeting. But it didn't take a mage's sixth sense to know they weren't just here for breakfast. They were looking for someone. That someone turned out to be him.

"Olian," one said cordially as they reached his table. The second of the pair looked a little more dour, but gave a friendly smile when the mage looked at him.

 "Goo' mor'in'," he said around a mouthful of roll. They waited patiently as he finished chewing and washed the food down with some tea."Conroy, Astor." He greeted the two Watchmen in turn, and then demanded, "What happened?"

"Don't miss much, do you?" Conroy asked.

"Mage," Olian reminded him with the faintest of smiles.

"And modest, too." He took in a large breath and let it out as a sigh. When he spoke he lowered his voice. "There were more murders last night. Four separate crime scenes including the one you saw. Same as the first, with the symbols."

"Why didn't you send for me?" Olian asked in annoyance. "I should have been there to see the scenes in person. What if the other runes had been active? Someone could have been hurt!" He reigned himself in, realizing that raising his voice in Roland's was only going to attract attention. "Did you at least copy them down?"

"That's why we're here," Astor added. 

"Aye," Conroy nodded. "Lieutenant Mercer wants you over at the Tower. He and the Captain want to have a word. At your leisure, of course. But they've got all the drawings for you." He looked amused, "I think they're holding 'em for ransom so you go talk with 'em instead of just taking the things and locking yourself in a library for a week."

"A valid concern," Olian acknowledged with a knowing smile. "Fine, fine. Tell your lieutenant I'll be on my way once I've finished breakfast." The two Watchmen said they would, and Olian watched them leave with a sinking feeling in his stomach. More murders, more arcane symbols. Whoever was committing these crimes obviously thought there was power in them, and likely had a purpose in mind. Question was, what did they hope to accomplish? He remembered being followed during the night, being watched by something otherworldly. He found his appetite had suddenly disappeared. He finished his tea and left the rest of the food uneaten on the table. The sooner he got to studying those other symbols the better.

The End

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