Tag Archive: Everett


Surprises Await

“Emery was running late,” Miles said as he followed Morrissey out of the car. “The only thing we got told was the case was weird. What’s going on?”

“According to people who really should know better, a ghost. We’re supposed to investigate the caverns. Apparently people from the rail company have been attacked by person or persons unknown.” Morrissey paused in his recitation when he noticed the boy was no longer following him. He turned back to frown thoughtfully at the younger Ballard. “Miles?”

“Stevrim Caverns? We’re going in there? Oh, no. No, no, no. I’m waiting in the car. Bring me any trace you want identified.” He was pale but otherwise seemed alright as he spun on his heel and all-but-ran back to the waiting vehicles.

“Miles? Miles!” Morrissey called after him. The teen ignored him and just kept going, however. Shaking his head, Morrissey waved a welcoming arm at Emery. Maybe the elder Ballard would be able to explain the younger’s actions.

**
Emery ran towards where the other forensics wizards were setting up and was surprised to see his brother running the other way. He almost turned and called to the younger boy but Morrissey was waving so fiercely at him, he reconsidered. Instead he ran all the faster to join the supervisor.

“What’s the problem?” Emery asked as he caught up to Morrissey. The rural area they were in, which was surprisingly close to the old Ballard Family homestead, was far from the city but still within their jurisdiction. The forensics team had been called in on what the local people would only describe as a weird case. Emery frowned as he realized where exactly they were. He had a sinking feeling he knew exactly what the case was.

“Supposedly there’s a ghost,” Morrisey explained as they walked toward a rocky outcrop. Emery nodded. He’d heard about the ghost since he was a child. “It started out as things going missing from houses. Then, when the rail company came through, it escalated. As it stands, it’s been attacking anyone who gets close to that cave. The problem is that there’s a new rail that’s supposed to be running right past it so the workers have been attacked. Three people have been hospitalized so far. It’s only a matter of time before someone is killed.”

“So we’re here to… antagonize the local spirit?” Emery asked. He was from this area. Everyone knew the Ghost of Stevrim Caverns was not to be trifled with. “Can’t the rail company just avoid the area?”

“You don’t believe in ghosts surely?” Morrissey said with a teasing note in his voice.

“I grew up near here. I’ve been hearing stories about the Ghost of Stevrim Caverns since I was a small child. Bold kid that I was, I still steered well clear of that place. The old tales would curl your hair, Morrissey. There is no doubt in my mind that there is something odd in that place.” Emery shuddered at the thought of actually entering the cavern to investigate.

“Are you sensing anything?” Morrissey asked.

“Trauma, mental and physical both, but I can’t say whether from the ghost or its victims,” Emery returned.

“Your brother took one look at the place and said he’d wait in the car,” Morrissey said.

“I’m not surprised. He had a bad scare one night while we were returning home. He swore he saw unearthly eyes peering out from the cavern at him. He was only about ten at the time so it pretty well freaked him out,” Emery replied. He gave the elder magician a strained smile and took out his wand. Once his hands touched the wand the vague sense of trauma became much more clear.

“Is the trauma directional?” Morrissey asked. Emery nodded and began walking toward the cavern mouth.

“I assume if I’m supposed to find the ‘ghost’ we’re bringing wardens with us,” Emery murmured. Ordinarily he hated the escort he was forced to continually deal with because of his status as an investigator. Today, however, he would be glad to know there was a person with an actual weapon beyond spells and scurd-flit.

“Here’s Hassett waiting for us,” Morrissey said. “He must have gone ahead to get a briefing from the other wardens.” Hassett wasn’t alone; Franklin, Grant and Everett were all waiting with him. “Emery’s got a bead on him,” Morrissey called to the officers. They nodded and moved into a protective formation around the young wizard.

“The trauma’s getting stronger and not because of proximity. The… ‘ghost’ is scared,” Emery reported as he darted a glance at Hassett.

The lieutenant nodded once and said, “Go easy, guys. We don’t know what he’s capable of and we don’t want to spook him.”

“He feels so… familiar,” Emery murmured. “I’m not usually any good with connectivity and it seems to me that I’ve felt this before.” He led them around a corner and a dimly lit, and very rude, shelter greeted them.

Suddenly a brilliant light flashed and they were blinded. Emery closed his eyes and sat on the ground, trying to make a smaller target of himself. He heard a guttural roar and several outcries from the wardens who’d been protecting him. Soft thuds of bodies hitting the hard earth around him were followed by a larger body landing nearly on top of him.

“Morrissey! Hassett!” Emery yelped. He opened his light-dazzled eyes to find the others all unconscious. An older man was standing about five feet away from him. His hair and beard hung in wild strands all around his head and face. He was frightened and angry but also territorial. Emery dropped his wand and held his hands up in what he hoped was a non-threatening manner. “Alright, just… just relax. I… I’m not armed.”

He swallowed thickly and his breath was coming in short gasps. He could tell the officers and Morrissey weren’t hurt badly but only unconscious. He’d escaped because he’d made himself a small enough target that their attacker had missed him. However, that wouldn’t work a second time. He was relieved to find that it was a human attacker and not a spectral one; but he was still alone in a cave with someone who was most likely not entirely sane.

“I’m Emery. Who’re you?” he asked with a voice that trembled slightly.

“I’m the ghost,” the man replied. Emery was again struck by a sense of familiarity. He’d heard that voice before, though the last time he’d heard it, it had been more refined and less strained.

“D-Dad?” he murmured in wonder. No wonder they hadn’t been able to find their father before their mother’s death. He’d come unhinged and been lost in the hills. “You… you aren’t a ghost. You’re Nathaniel Ballard. You’re a magician, not a ghost.”

The older man roared again and Emery had time to gasp before his world narrowed to a point and darkened.

continued here

Morrissey looked the team over and then turned to Warden Fowler. “Keep the crime scene sealed for the next seventy-two hours,” he ordered. Without waiting for a response he began issuing orders to the others. “Serenity, can you go with Warden Roderick and see if the witness is ready to be questioned? Check her for any magical trace as well. She may very well have brushed up against the spell, which would help us trace it back to the mage who cast it.”

“Yes, sir,” Serenity said. She bounded over to a waiting cruiser with Warden Roderick and soon the pair had disappeared around the corner.

“Miles, I appreciate that you feel fine; but you need to realize you were attacked by a magical construct and it’s possible that the spell may affect you adversely. I’m sending you to the clinic to be checked out,” he continued. “Go now with Warden Everett, if you would.”

“Yes, sir,” Miles said with obvious reluctance. He followed Everett away from the scene.

“Emery,” Morrissey started.

“I’m fine,” the teen interrupted.

“I know,” Morrissey said, mimicking his tone perfectly. He sighed and glanced at Hurley, who was grinning and clearly enjoying the exchange. Returning his gaze to Emery, he said, “Wait until I finish before taking my head off, if you please.”

“Sorry, sir,” Emery said softly. He nodded once to show he was ready to listen.

“Now, Emery, I’d like you to perform a stress test on the body as well. Determine just what kinds of injuries, if any, were inflicted before she was killed. In addition, see if you can determine if she was also a mage. If someone attacked her with a magical construct and if, as you say, she knew what it was, it’s possible she’s a mage herself, even if she wasn’t a practicing one.”

“Yes, sir,” Emery said. “We have to go to the coroners.” He looked up at Hassett then returned his gaze to Morrissey as he asked, “What are you gonna do?”

“Armand and I are heading back to the lab with the construct. He can get on tracing the elements that made it up and I’ll prepare it for the spell trace. Get going, now,” Morrissey said.

Emery was certain that the man would kill him, but he seemed content to bring his prize elsewhere. He dragged Emery to a waiting car and pushed him into the back seat, tying his wrists together. Emery heard the doors lock but, when he searched, he couldn’t seem to find the knob that would unlock the doors and free him.

“Wh-what are you going to do with me?” he asked when his kidnapper climbed into the front seat and started the car.

They drove for several minutes in silence, passing a warden vehicle on its way to the crime scene. Emery breathed a sigh of relief for the officer who’d been set to watch him. If the man wasn’t dead already, he would likely be fine.

“I already told you that you have something of mine,” the man said.

“You… plan to… kill me,” Emery forced himself to say. They turned a corner and the wardens were lost to sight. He was alone and it wouldn’t take much for this man to kill him, as he had so many others.

“You have something of mine though and I will take it back.”

Emery swallowed and asked, “What do I have?” his voice came out as a soft murmur, but the man seemed to consider.

“I am nearly whole. All that is left… you have; the girl had… all that I need to collect is my special sight. I can see with my eyes but… my other eyes are still blinded.”

“You have the second sight – off-magic,” Emery murmured. “You can tell I have it and Martha Beede did as well. But-but how… how do you plan on t-taking it from me.” A part of him said to keep quiet but Emery had always been curious. It was that curiosity that caused him to pursue the answers.

“I’m going to take my special eye back,” the man said.

Emery moaned in horror and his hands went to his forehead. Stories said that those with off-magic, especially like his, had a well developed third eye. Truthfully, nothing had been proven physically. The pineal gland, which controlled a great many things both physical and emotional and was associated physically with the third eye, was any more impressive in those with off-magic that those without. Either way, if the man intended to remove it, he’d have to kill Emery.

**
“He’s not here,” Hassett reported to a very anxious Franklin. “Any information on the fingerprints and whatnot?”

“The fingerprints came back to Mark Jeffreys of Summerville,” Franklin replied. “We got an address from the medical supply store that he got the preservative from. Well, we assume it’s him, it’s the only none medical –”

“The address, Franklin,” Hassett interrupted. The little corporal was chatty when he was anxious; something Hassett didn’t want to deal with right now.

“118 Water Street, by the docks. Take Third Street,” he said quickly.

“Got it. over and out,” Hassett said. He slipped the radio into his pocket and ran out past Roderick and Fowler, who were taking care of the downed officer. He heard the stamping footsteps of Everett following him.

“You got the address?” the other warden asked. At Hassett’s brisk nod, he tossed Hassett the keys. “You drive.” They didn’t have time for explanations.

Monica Ferris

an author with many hats

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