The remaining DPI agent looked me up and down, and I did the same to him. My shield could rebound a full magazine of bullets. His gun wasn’t a threat on its own, but the bracelet might change that. I investigated the glowing energy with my magic. The enchantment protected the wearer from supernatural attacks, not spells alone. As long as he wore it, my community couldn’t touch him. I wouldn’t have trusted a mundane with that kind of power. Clearly, some other witch disagreed with me. The blessed sand worked on his partner, so I felt safe assuming that this wasn’t standard issue for the Department of Paranormal Investigations agents. I still had to figure out how to get past him, though. If I couldn’t attack him, I’d need to get creative to get out of there before Holly arrived.
“You said Peter was your friend. If that’s true, then maybe you could help us catch his killer. I’m Agent Boone. That’s Agent Carson,” the agent said. I didn’t answer him. I struggled to decide if my shield would hold if I made a break for it. The bracelet shouldn’t affect it since it was a defensive spell. I might knock him aside with the momentum. If he started shooting, though, I wasn’t sure it would hold as well as it would standing still. “Can you tell me if Peter had any enemies? Or why anyone might have wanted to hurt him?”
“How did he die?” I asked, not completely willing to believe Peter was gone. I could have answered his questions, but they would only have led to more. The longer I stuck around to talk with Agent Boone, the more time Holly had to catch up with me. I didn’t want to be here when she arrived. At least, I didn’t when I’d face her and her flunkies alone. What would Holly do in the face of two government men, though?
“I’m not at liberty to discuss that,” he said. “Look, I don’t like the prospect of arresting you if I don’t have to. Things would be a lot easier for both of us if you’d lift the spell on Agent Carson and answer my questions.”
“I can do that, but I have a favor to ask. There’s a witch on her way here who’s got a bit of a grudge against me. If I wake your partner up and agree to answer your questions, would you mind walking me out of here in handcuffs?” I asked. Holly wouldn’t risk attacking me in DPI custody, and while I could get myself arrested, I’d rather not deal with whatever charges Agent Boone came up with.
“That’s the strangest request I’ve had today, but if it gets me closer to solving this case, I can roll with it. You’ve got yourself a deal,” Agent Boone said.
“You have an ETA on when this witch is going to arrive?” he asked.
“Let me check,” I said. Without waiting for a response, I closed my eyes and called up my magic. After so many fresh interactions with Holly’s magic, I had no trouble finding her. She wasn’t far. “I’d say about five more minutes.”
“Do you always know where other witches are?” Agent Boone asked.
“Not every witch, all the time. But I like to keep track of the ones who would do me harm,” I said. I’d agreed to answer his questions, but I hesitated to tell him too much about my abilities. An organization like the DPI could get a lot of use out of my magic, and I didn’t trust them enough to tempt them with access to it.
“Hopefully, it won’t take that long for you to wake Carson up,” he said.
I woke Agent Carson up as fast as I’d put him to sleep. I pocketed the blessed sand while I was at it. It might come in handy once I figured out what happened to Peter. Boone informed Carson about our agreement while I tracked Holly. As soon as she entered the building, I held my hands up for the agents to handcuff me. Looking around the apartment one more time, I resolved to make whoever killed him pay for it if I could. My lifestyle didn’t leave room for many friends, but Peter pushed past that. I wondered how much information I could get out of the DPI before I took my leave of them. My odds of finding a magical killer had to be higher than those of two mundane government agents.
We timed it perfectly. Agent Carson walked in front of me and Agent Boone behind me as we passed Holly in the hall. None of her mundane henchmen were with her. She saw the handcuffs and hesitated for a moment. She couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t a trick. I could practically hear her thoughts racing as she tried to decide what to do. We kept walking, heading down the stairs, as she stood frozen in the hall. She had to weigh her options. If she let me go without a fight, she’d have come up with a new plan to find and trap me again. On the other hand, if she made a move, it would be a gamble. If my arrest was fiction and they weren’t actual law enforcement, she could have me right now for the price of roughing up a couple of other people. But if this was all real, how did she explain her interest? I heard her steps moments before she passed us on the way down the stairs. She muttered something about forgetting something in the car.
When we got outside, I spotted men wearing enchanted glasses. They were all walking away from the building in three small groups. Holly watched us through the rear window of a nearby car. She pretended to shift things around in the backseat as Agent Carson opened the backdoor of a black SUV. He held the door open for me, and I got in, trying to keep my satisfaction from my face. It was too high a risk to call my bluff, and she knew it. Agent Boone went around to the driver’s side as Agent Carson shut me in. He got in the passenger seat in front of me, and we pulled away from Peter’s apartment building. I caught Holly pull herself out of the car she was in and watched as we drove past her. A tiny surge of terramancy flashed behind us. I’d put money on it that if we returned to the spot where she stood, there’d be a new crack in the road from her stomping in frustration. The DPI just bought me a bit more time before I had to deal with Holly again.