Lugh covered the three of us with an invisibility spell on our way into the morgue. Since the previous night, my abilities had returned just enough to be frustrating. My joy at regaining part of my powers didn’t last as long as it probably should have. I knew my body and magic needed time to recover, but I couldn’t stop everything until then. We needed to call Smith’s spirit before we lost access to his body. His link to this world would fray more if they buried or cremated him. The more steps the living took toward closure, the harder it got to contact a spirit. Unless, of course, Smith haunted something or someone. I hoped against that option, though.
“Hey, Cormac,” I said, glad I’d recovered enough to see the ghost waiting for us.
“Glad to see you’re still breathing,” he responded.
“Hi, Cormac,” Flynn said. Thanks to Lugh, he could see the spirit this time.
“Tell him I said hello,” Cormac told me, unaware of the power shared by Lugh’s and Flynn’s joined hands.
“I can see you this time,” Flynn said. “This is Lugh.”
“Nice to meet you,” Lugh said.
“Likewise. That’s a neat trick. Does it work for everyone?” Cormac asked.
“Any witch can share their senses with enough practice,” I answered.
“I need a strong connection to the person. It’s not a high-priority skill in my line of work,” Lugh added.
“Good to know,” Cormac said. He led us to Cal and John without any further small talk.
Noah Smith’s body looked more peaceful than he deserved. If not for the pallor skin, he could have looked like he was asleep. At least, he could have, until I walked around to his other side and saw the bullet hole in his head. I remembered the way his head jerked sideways when the shot hit him. I didn’t regret Smith’s death. The memory of the light leaving his eyes didn’t bring me any satisfaction, either.
“Cal and John, meet Flynn and Lugh,” I said, and they exchanged polite greetings.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Cal asked.
“I need to find out how he learned to summon demons. If there’s a chance that this doesn’t end with him, I don’t want to be caught unaware,” I explained.
“Fair enough,” he said.
Cal’s comforting magic surrounded me as he reached out to Noah Smith’s spirit. The body didn’t move, though. Minutes passed, and still, nothing happened. The crawling sensation I’d felt when Cal took away Milton’s free will itched at my skin. My diminished powers didn’t protect me from the full force of that discomfort. Light purple energy flowed into the body, and it sat up. When Smith opened his eyes, the green irises glowed such a light purple they nearly blended in with the white surrounding them. Grim determination twisted Cal’s expression. The spirit didn’t want to be here.
“Noah Smith, I bind you here. You will speak only truth until I release you,” Cal commanded. “Go for it, Casper.”
“How did you learn to summon demons?” I asked.
“My mentor gave me a book,” Smith said without emotion.
“Where is the book?”
“I left it in the safe in my apartment,” he said.
“Write down the address and how to open the safe,” I instructed, handing the corpse a pencil and paper. “Where is your mentor?”
“I don’t know. He left Minneapolis when he gave me the book,” he answered as he wrote.
“Was he targeting witches the same way you did?” I asked.
“No. He wanted to use the power to gain immortality and eternal youth,” Smith said.
“Did you teach anyone what you learned? Could any of the men who followed you replicate your results?” I asked.
“No. I didn’t trust them with the knowledge. They wanted the benefits, but most didn’t have the will to achieve them independently.”
“You can let him go,” I told Cal as Smith handed me back the paper. The body dropped, and the itching sensation cut off immediately. “Can you send him on? I don’t want anyone else to be able to call his spirit back to this plane.”
“I can do it, but are you sure? What if you need to talk to him again?” Cal asked.
“I won’t once I make sure no one else can get that book,” I answered. “I’ll let you know when I have it if you’ll hold off that long.”
“Sure,” Cal said.
“Thank you, Cal,” I said.
“No problem. We’ll call it even for you setting me up with my new side hustle,” he said.
“Are you guys up for another stop tonight?” I asked Lugh and Flynn.
“Of course,” Flynn answered.
Either Smith scaled up quickly after starting his supernatural auctions, or he already had money independently of that venture. He lived in the Penthouse of a building downtown. We didn’t encounter any magical protections there. It made me wonder how much longer he could have straddled the mundane and supernatural worlds. I knew he had to be reckless to consider summoning demons in the first place. Keeping this kind of knowledge behind strictly ordinary protections seemed more foolish than I’d expected.
He hadn’t even bought a particularly advanced safe for his valuables. The combination lock wouldn’t have stopped us even if we hadn’t gotten the code. Lugh could easily have opened it with a spell. Flynn could have torn the door off if Smith had bothered to protect against magic. I spun the lock back and forth and pulled the handle. Opening it by natural means would keep anyone from knowing we’d tampered with it. If Smith’s mentor returned to reclaim the book after hearing about the death, I didn’t want him looking for us.
The safe opened to reveal two shelves. Stacks of cash filled the top shelf. The bottom shelf held a leather-bound journal, a crystal matching the one that held Peter’s spirit, and another cursed knife. Flynn held open a suitcase he found on a closet shelf to our left. I put the book and crystal in it. Then I carefully wrapped the knife in a nearby pair of pants and added it to the case. I hesitated to take the money. I had to be enough to pay off the Bentons, probably more than that.
“You might as well,” Lugh suggested when I paused a bit too long.
“He made that money literally selling my friend’s soul,” I explained my hesitance.
“Peter would rather you took it than for it to sit in some evidence vault or whatever the DPI would do with it when they get here,” Lugh said. I nodded my acceptance.
We loaded as much cash as possible into the suitcase and put the rest in a gym bag. The DPI might find an empty safe suspicious, but they couldn’t trace it back to me. And Lugh was right. Peter paid for it with his life and wouldn’t want it wasted on an evidence shelf. I closed and wiped down the safe. We left the building with no one the wiser of our visit. I texted Cal on our way back to Lugh’s and Flynn’s apartment. He responded ten minutes later that it was done.