Mac had his head deep in the guts of Mrs. Gravois’ Mercedes when the bell to the shop entrance rang. “Somebody get that!” he yelled, and soon saw a woman’s face peer through the space in the engine. “Misty?”
Mac rolled out from under the Mercedes. “Hey, what’s up? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
She nodded, her eyes wide and clutching one of her many large tote bags. Misty was one of the other few mages that he could trust with his life. She had hooked up with him for a May-December relationship, which didn’t go much further than the December of that same year. She was going out with another young man who he knew had no inklings of becoming a mage, but didn’t mind her dabbling in it.
Mac put an arm around her shoulders and guided her to the office behind the counter. He shut the door and sat at his huge desk, piled high with invoices and orders, most paid, some not. There were too many customers who didn’t pay their bills, and he didn’t have the heart – or the inclination – to send enforcers after most of them. However, there were a few that he was tempted…
He put that thought aside and looked at the mousey young lady across from him. While not necessarily agile in bed, she certainly was creative. “So what’s wrong?”
“The djinn told me a man in Paragon is killing people.”
“I’ve heard that too.”
“He showed me. Mac, it was horrible! It was…he tore them apart, body and soul. He tore the souls apart and fed them to his demons.”
“Demons don’t necessarily eat souls.”
Mac held back a sigh. “Did you get a name?”
“He has red hair and is black. I mean…black. With red lines on his body.” She leaned forward. “Can you ask the spirits, the demons, if they know who he is? Or at least the demons…”
“Which djinn did you summon?”
“My own, Fariel.”
“So where did he hear this from?”
“It’s all over the aether. The spirits are afraid. He knows how to get to the spirit world.”
He tried again not to sigh. “Misty, he’s not causing trouble here. There are plenty of other mages, and heroes, in Paragon. They have the Zig, for God’s sake. Let them take care of him.”
Misty nevertheless looked frightened. “Don’t you know any mages over there? To tell them?”
“The ones from my old coven are dead and gone.” He didn’t want to talk about that time. He wished he could forget it. “The only other mages I know are the Circle mages in Nerva. They can contact their brethren in Paragon.”
“There’s us!” Misty cried.
He shook his head. “Let’s not involve ourselves in Paragon’s issues, or they’ll expect us to come running to their rescue all the time. No, we deal with enough wild magic here.”
“What if – what if – he takes our djinn?”
“I doubt he can do even that. They are bound to us first, they won’t go willingly. And we would know.”
She didn’t look too convinced. Whatever Fariel had showed her frightened her to the bone, and it took a lot to get Misty that scared. “I’ll talk to an Orestes, have him pass the message on to the Orestes in Paragon.”
Misty realized that was the best she was going to get out of him, and nodded. She gathered her tote to her and said, “Sorry to bother you, Archmage.”
She tossed her head up and left the office. He frowned. Who was this mage? And why are the spirits so concerned?
Mac had made a promise, however, so he meant to keep it. He threw open the window to the office. He went to the fridge and pulled out a piece of liver. Using a Sharpie, he drew a symbol on it and left it on the windowsill. He threw out the Sharpie, and then waited.
A huge black crow came and lit on the piece of liver. It looked at the symbol, and then looked at him. “Tell the Orestes there is a wild mage in Paragon that needs to be spoken to. That is all.”
The crow took the liver and flew off.