“All right. Catch me up. What have you learned since you left me at the morgue?” Agent Boone asked. He’d rushed me through the necessary paperwork to become an official DPI consultant. Making it clear I was not an agent and wouldn’t be getting a badge. Though he didn’t say it, I suspected he was out on a limb with this decision.
“I took a witch and werewolf friend to the crime scene. Like I told you before, my friend found the knife,” I said.
“We need him to tell us where he found it so we can investigate the area,” Boone said.
“As I tried to tell you before you arrested me, he went out of town this morning. He’ll likely be back tonight.”
“Fine. We’ll figure that out as soon as we can. What else? Where were you really taking the knife?”
“I can’t use magic to track where it’s been or who made it. I was going to see if someone could get any information off it by non-magical means,” I said.
“Someone but not us?” he asked.
“Honestly, no. I still don’t know if I can trust you,” I explained. I didn’t see any point in lying. He’d made it clear he needed my help.
“I promise you I want to figure out who did this as much as you do,” Boone tried to reassure me.
“I didn’t mean you personally. Truthfully, I feel like I’ve got a pretty clear snapshot of your moral compass. I’m talking about DPI as an agency. It hasn’t been around that long, and law enforcement doesn’t have a great reputation regarding their treatment of minorities. So you can’t blame us for being nervous about an agency founded specifically in reaction to supernaturals becoming public knowledge,” I said. He didn’t have an answer for that, or if he did, he held his tongue. “With what I learned about that knife, I’d rather see it destroyed than end up in the hands of someone I can’t trust.”
“What did you learn?” he asked, eager to get the conversation away from my suspicions about the DPI.
“The knife absorbs any magic it comes into contact with. If you look at the hilt, you’ll see that a piece broke off. I think a crystal used to be there, meant to hold the energy absorbed by the blade,” I told him. “Without that crystal, it releases the magic out into the ether.”
“Can you show me? Safely?” he asked.
“I’d need to be in the same room as the knife,” I said.
“No problem,” he said.
He led me through the building. I received plenty of stares as we walked. Gossip of my change from suspect to consultant clearly circulated among my new coworkers. It felt strange to think of them that way. They definitely didn’t see me in that light yet, based on the looks I saw on their faces. Some of the suspicious looks extended to Agent Boone, too. It made me wonder how well-liked he was here. He didn’t pay them any heed.
We walked into a scientific lab, or at least that’s what it appeared to be at first glance. Instead of microscopes and test tubes, the counters and shelves held the raw materials for an enchanter. The witch turned to see who’d come into her lab and immediately smiled when she saw Boone. Her aura matched the glow I’d seen from Agent Boone’s enchanted bracelet. If he got it here, though, why wouldn’t every agent have one? It only took looking at her for me to know it wasn’t a question of power. This witch’s power filled the room with a gentle but persistent hum.
“Art!” she cheered.
“Hey, Sal.” Agent Boone greeted her with a smile, warm and genuine, if not quite as exuberant as hers.
“This the new recruits?” she asked before I could comment on her casual nickname for Agent Boone.
“Yeah, Sal, this is Casper. Casper, meet our in-house enchanter,” Boone said.
“Nice to meet you,” she said.
“Likewise.” I couldn’t help returning a smile, infectious as hers was.
“Did Agent Palmer drop that knife off?” Agent Boone asked.
“Oh, that thing is foul. ” It’s over here,” she said, waving us over to a box on a shelf in the room’s far corner. It wasn’t the shoe box I’d stored the knife in. She’d encased it in shining metal instead.
“I can’t feel it,” I said.
“Yeah, it brought down the mood here, so I put it in a null box,” Sal explained.
“A null box?” I asked.
“Just a little experiment I cooked up. It’ll take some doing, but I think I can replicate it on a large scale to lock up baddies when we catch them.”
“What do you do with them now?” I asked.
“We’ve got species-specific cells, but I’m hoping that this will work for anyone they can bring in once I get it working,” Sal said.
“I’m sure you’ll get it to work,” Boone said. “We need the knife out for a minute. Casper’s going to show me how it works.”
Sal set the null box on her worktable and put gloves on before opening it. I wondered if they were enough to keep her from feeling the wrongness of the dagger. She pulled the knife out of the box and set it down on the table. After taking a few steps back, she let out a deep breath. Boone and I stepped forward to stand directly in front of the blade.
“Give me your hand,” I said, holding out my own toward Agent Boone.
He placed his hand on mine. His touch was soft, but I still noticed calluses on the tips of his fingers. The light contact allowed me to share my gift with him. He blinked a few times before focusing on the thread of magic twisting around our hands. The glow of my magic shifted through the color spectrum in transitions smooth enough to make it difficult to distinguish when one color gave over entirely to the next. I held my other hand over the knife. I cast one of the locator spells I’d used before. The blade absorbed the spell and released my magic in a mist like before.
“Why doesn’t it take the magic from the null box?” Boone asked.
“Both items have reactionary enchantments,” Sal said. “The null box is just containing it, waiting for it to do something to nullify. And the knife is waiting to be used or have magic used on it.”
“So the knife is definitely enchanted?” Boone asked.
“Not by a witch, but yeah,” she answered. Was that why the knife felt so wrong?
“If not a witch, then who?” Boone asked. That was a much better question. I’d observed magic from many supernaturals, but none of it had ever felt like this.
“I’m not sure. Something dark and unnatural is the best I’ve got,” Sal said. “It shouldn’t exist.”
Sal’s assessment might not have given us a target, but it helped. I appreciated her agreeing with me about the knife’s existence, or rather, our desire for it not to. If Agent Boone respected her opinion enough, maybe we stood a chance of convincing him to have it destroyed. Dark and unnatural might not be a target, but it was a direction. And with the DPI to back me up, I could go back to the market without worrying about being attacked. Holly’s hesitation to attack me while I was in their custody proved that well enough. Finding out who Peter met that night would be easier now that I could talk to more of our mutual acquaintances.