Percy sat somewhat dejectedly in the back of the taxi-lev as it made its way back from the RedLamp District. The lev was somewhat dubious-looking, from its bunged-up body, to the mysterious cardboard box that filled the front seat, to the disguised sliding panel on the floor Percy had accidentally dislodged with her foot. But she said nothing and neither did the driver, filling the ride back to the castle with a dense layer of oppressive silence.
Percy had hoped that last night's activity would lead to something; that it would contain some small key to her ongoing quest for the elusive, culpable thing called magic. But after thoroughly combing the shady alleyways of the RedLamp District, she had finally admitted to yet another red herring and made her way home.
To distract herself from the silence that pressed with an unbearable noiselessness against her ears, Percy had begun fiddling with her Magic Scanner 3000 once more, watching the thin green line rise and dip incrementally. This, however was very routine as there was nearly always some trace of residual magic somewhere. Also, the 3000 wasn't quite as accurate as the newer 4000, and was often a bit quirky, but it had been a gift from her grandfather, Professor Benjamin Oakstaff, and Percy had been using it for so long that it would seem like a betrayal to abandon it for a newer model. Not that she saw much of her grandfather these days. He lived outside of Dartoc-6 and he rarely contacted her anymore.
But now they were approaching the castle, and Percy stuffed her magic scanner back into her knapsack, not sorry in the slightest to be leaving the lev. She paid (a rather exorbitant amount, Percy thought) then got out at the corner, traveling the rest of the way to the castle on foot.
She entered through the servant's door on the side and was closing the door behind her when it happened. A violent beeping suddenly erupted from somewhere inside her knapsack. Heart racing, she tore open the bag and fumbled her Magic Scanner 3000 out of it. It was whirring and beeping maniacally as the green line on its display created a mountain range of sharp spikes. There was magic about very close by.
Using the switches and dials on the device to fine tune location, Percy started to make her way toward the banqueting hall where the magic seemed to be emanating from. What was going on? Had a magic-user breached the castle? Percy quickened her pace.
She reached the hall, and sure enough, Percy's scanner was going berserk, humming and indicating that this indeed was where the magic was to be found. Percy looked up from the magic scanner.
There seemed to be some great commotion going on in the center of the hall. The King and a good deal of others were crowded around a figure who seemed to have collapsed on the ground. The Queen stood by, flapping a garish, pink handkerchief in an attempt to fan the fallen person's face. Percy drew closer, peering around the congregated mass. It was Elenia.
In Percy's head, memories of past Scanner readings were surfacing and old suspicions were leaping to conclusions. She took a moment to twiddle the knobs on her scanner to be sure, but Percy already knew. A few seconds later the Magic Scanner confirmed it.
Elenia was sitting up now, and a single word escaped from her lips. Percy barely caught it. "Lorden."
Heart thrumming with excitement, Percy exited the hall. All this time, the lead she had been looking for resided right under her nose. It was time to call Professor Benjamin.