It took over two hours for Saphina’s lawyer to negotiate a deal that everyone could live with. The Coven would send a representative to take Saphina into custody once she’d given us the information we needed. I didn’t know what would happen to her once they took her. I doubt she’d have accepted a deal that put her in a cell long-term. The Coven grew more transparent over the past year, but they didn’t publish a tell-all. The crime drama genre hadn’t broken into magical law enforcement yet. Not much supernatural crime got air time on news stations, probably by the Coven’s design. That couldn’t last forever, but Saphina wasn’t destined to be the first high-profile witch convict.
“All right, what can you tell us?” Agent Boone asked once we nailed down the last details of Saphina’s transfer.
“That’s a demon’s enchantment,” she said.
“A demon? Like a fire and brimstone demon?” Boone asked.
“Not exactly. Most depictions of demons in mythology are allegories for things outside our understanding of this world,” she answered. “There’s no single interpretation that nails them all down perfectly.”
“Are you certain?” I asked.
“Absolutely.” She left no room for question.
“We can’t arrest a demon,” I said. “They can’t maintain a presence on this plane long term.”
“It’s the summoner you want. The demon is just the power. The person who called it into our plane is responsible for multiple deaths,” she said.
“We haven’t connected any other murders to this case,” Boone said, implying a question.
“It wouldn’t look like murder, but I guarantee that whoever hosted the demon is dead. Our bodies aren’t meant to hold that kind of power for long.”
“What makes you say that?” Boone asked.
“A smart summoner wouldn’t host the demon themselves. But it had to possess someone if they wanted it on this plane long enough to enchant the knife. The summoner probably lets the demon keep the body as long as they can hold it in exchange for the enchantment,” she explained.
“And once the demon’s in there, it’s not long before that person burns out,” Boone said.
“So it would look like a heart attack, stroke, or something similar,” I continued, following the train of thought.
“You’re looking at a body count much higher than whoever they used the knife on,” Saphina concluded.
“How much higher?” Boone asked.
“It depends,” she said.
“On what?” he asked.
“How much he had to practice before he perfected his summoning technique,” I answered for her. All magic takes practice. I didn’t want to think about the consequences of summoning demons by trial and error.
“Oh god,” Boone said.
Saphina just nodded. She might not be practicing this type of magic, but she knew too much about it to be completely innocent. Any guilt I had left for shutting down her operation at the market vanished with that idea. A knock at the door interrupted my thoughts.
“The Coven representatives are here,” the agent said.
“Send them in,” Boone answered. Two Coven witches entered. “Milo?”
“Nice to see you again, Agent Boone,” the leaner of the witches said.
“You’re working with the Coven?” Boone asked. He looked dumbfounded.
“How do you know each other?” the other witch asked. I heard jealousy in his tone. He and Agent Boone had similar physiques. The witch stood only an inch or two taller than the agent.
“He tried to recruit me shortly before you caught up with me,” Milo said, seemingly unconcerned with the larger man’s jealousy. He turned back to Boone. “Turns out I didn’t need protection from the Coven after all. No hard feelings, right?”
“No. I’m glad things worked out for you,” Boone said, still flustered by this witch. This story had to be more complicated than a failed recruitment.
“Are we here for both of them?” Milo asked, pointing back and forth between Saphina and me.
“No, just Saphina. Casper is one of our consultants,” Boone told him before I could object.
“All right. Well, it was nice catching up, but we’ve gotta head out,” Milo said.
The larger witch took Saphina by the arm just above her elbow and guided her toward the door. Milo, Boone, and I followed them out. Saphina made her move before I stepped past the barrier. A knockback spell shot out from her in every direction. The attack threw her escorting witch into the wall. Saphina ran as soon as he lost grip of her. My power rushed back to me as I stepped out of the holding cell, but I didn’t get a chance to stop her. She fell into her shadow as if a trapdoor opened beneath her.
“I hate it when they run,” the jettisoned witch said as he stood back up.
“They always regret it,” Milo said confidently.
Saphina’s shadow flowed back towards us. I noticed a thread of magic connecting Milo to the shadow. I examined the shadow as it merged with Milo’s. The background noise of the office came together into music in my mind. The second shadow had its own life force, and it filled my head with a gorgeous song about the comfort of familiar darkness.
“Where did she go?” Agent Boone asked.
“I sent her to the shadow realm,” Milo said with a wicked smile.
“Really?” Boone asked.
“No, he’s just being a nerd,” the other witch said.
“You never let me have any fun,” Milo said. “Fine, the easiest way to describe it is she’s being held in a pocket dimension.”
“We should go. You remember what happened to the last one Umbra held?” the larger witch said.
“See ya around,” Milo said with a wave to Boone and me. A portal appeared in front of them, and they walked into it together. The shadow song cut off when the portal closed.
“What’s the deal with you and Milo?” I asked. Boone still wore a perplexed expression as he turned to me.
“He knocked me out with a sleeping spell when I tried to recruit him. Not unlike what you did to Agent Carson,” he answered.
“Why did it surprise you to see him with the Coven?” I asked. I had a feeling I needed to get as many questions in as I could before Boone collected his thoughts. Milo clearly had the power it takes to attract the Coven’s attention, so why wouldn’t he join up?
“He was on the run from them,” Boone said. “He killed one of the Coven Leaders to avenge his mother.”
“That was Milo Grimshaw?” I asked. Every witch connected with the underground scene had heard Milo’s story. How had I not put together who he was from his name and the shadow magic?
“Yeah, I was keeping tabs on him, looking for another opportunity to approach him, but he fell off the map a couple of months later.”
“I’ll give you this much; you’re not afraid to go after big fish,” I said.
It didn’t surprise me that Milo turned DPI down. If even half the rumors about him were true, this place would bore him stiff. Although, remembering what Saphina told us before they took her, it was a shame he and his partner had to leave so soon. If we were going after a demon summoner, it wouldn’t hurt to have a witch of his caliber on our side. That thought hit me fully for the first time. A demon summoner killed Peter. I need to find this guy separately from DPI. I’d make him suffer for Peter and every other person he’d hurt.