“What’s their problem?” Emery asked Hassett as he escorted them past the line of onlookers. They were angry, that much was obvious. What had upset them so was the question.

“He was a well respected medical doctor, not a healer, like your friend Althea, an actual doctor. There are people who don’t trust mages to see to their health care. They don’t trust mages as a general rule, actually,” the older man explained. “Just pay them no mind.”

“There are people who actually don’t use magic in their medical treatment? Let me guess, a mage killed him?” Emery asked.

“It would exacerbate the situation, wouldn’t it,” Hassett said wryly.

“And nothing can ever be easy,” Miles observed.

They entered the scene, what appeared to be the doctor’s office. Emery felt a heavy weight on his chest, as if something was compressing him. “He was… smothered?” he asked Hassett. He focused his mind away from the trauma and the pressure eased.

“It would appear so,” Serenity said softly. “The breath seems to have been driven from his lungs. It could be a mage or it could be a wind spirit.”

“But a wind spirit isn’t likely to up and attack a non-mage, or even a mage, unprovoked,” Emery said. He shrugged and sighed. “Are we going to have any trouble leaving, with that crowd out there?”

“The wardens will keep them back,” Serenity said softly. “Here’s the partner in the practice to talk to the regulars.”

A small weasely-looking man entered as she spoke. He glared over at the forensics team and asked, “What are they doing here?”

“We’re finding evidence regarding who murdered your partner,” Miles said, cheerfully. He returned to the entrance of the room and began to examine the locks and door for tampering or trace.

“Is there anyone who would want to harm your partner?” Hassett asked. “Did anyone have a beef against him?”

“He was rather outspoken against those people,” he said, glaring over at the forensics team. “Magic hampers the growth and development of technology. If it wasn’t for the rampant use of magic, medical technology would be decades ahead of where it is now. People die for want of a cure and all because of mages and their foolishness.”

Emery glared back and shook his head. “I have Auric Decay Syndrome. That’s something that it takes a healer to treat. Mundane medicine can’t even find the aura.”

“Emery, go look for trauma,” Hassett murmured. Emery nodded once and headed over to where the body had been found. “Any particular mage or just any mage he met?”

The little man snorted and replied, “The head of the local mage’s guild,” he said. “He’s a healer by trade and he and Doctor Reynolds often had words. His ideas followed along the lines of your young collegue’s.”

“We’ll look into that,” Hassett said softly. He bowed at the man in dismissal and joined the forensics team. “Well, Serenity?”

“A healer couldn’t summon a wind spirit. It takes a practical mage to do something like that,” she replied. “Either a mage, a wind spirit working indepentantly for some reason, or he was killed by conventional means and it was made to look like magic.”

“There are some poisons that’ll do it,” Emery said as he walked around the room, wand held aloft. “There’s trauma in this direction.”

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