Pocket Watch Witches Ep. 26


Daniel and I took a carriage back to the building Korak had led me to the previous night. We parked in the back alley. It would attract too much attention on the street. No one in this neighborhood could own one. I worried we’d attract attention just by taking the carriage there, but Daniel didn’t traverse the city on foot unless necessary. He said he had too much to get done in a day to walk everywhere. Given how well he paid me, I didn’t question it, even if I wanted to in this particular instance. 

I got down from the driver’s seat and walked around to open the door for my boss. He activated a spell on his watch and vanished from sight. The carriage buoyed, telling me he’d stepped out. I waited an extra few seconds before closing the door. When I turned to the building, I saw the doorknob twisting of its own volition. I cast my concealment spell so I could enter unseen as well. Thankfully, Daniel’s hand landed on my arm before I moved. I didn’t know how we’d navigate without colliding otherwise. Maybe I could work out a spell allowing me to detect people using Dimitri’s invisibility spell. Daniel guided me into the building, and the door gently closed behind us. I put the idea on hold. Now wasn’t the time for the trial and error of making a new spell. 

The sun shone in through the grimy front windows. Korak didn’t have any other lights on inside. I watched my feet as Daniel controlled our destination and pace. Unlike Dimitri’s invisibility spell, I could see my own body while my magic concealed me. I wondered how disorienting it must be to look down and see nothing instead of your torso. Daniel managed it well enough. He didn’t kick up any of the junk scattered across the floor. When I first checked this place out, I couldn’t tell much more than it was a mess inside. Now, as I did my best to avoid the surrounding trash, I worked out it had been a toy store. Broke dolls, random puzzle pieces, and ruined picture books littered the ground. What happened that the owner left all of this behind? 

We made our way through overturned shelves and found a small business office. Daniel deactivated his invisibility, apparently confident that Korak had gone out. I dropped my concealment as well. 

“Keep an eye out,” Daniel ordered. I heard him rifling through papers and opening draws. Briefly, I worried he wouldn’t find anything. I heard glass clinking and nearly turned around. “It’s not just a protection scam.” 

“What else is he up to?” I asked. 

“Cam and Korak gathered quite a bit of blackmail material as well,” he told me. “Grab that box and help me pack all this up.” 

I picked up a wooden cube. On closer examination, I realized it was the bottom of a broken toy chest. Daniel put a ledger in first, then carefully placed collections of view disks one at a time. He packed crumbled paper around the rows of glass circles. If all of them held recordings, Cam and Korak had gathered six dozen incriminating videos. I didn’t look forward to watching them. Blackmail is a lucrative but ugly business. 

While I didn’t particularly want to see what secrets the disks hid, I wondered what Cam and Korak held over the seamstress’s head. Blackmail explained her situation better. I hadn’t taken her for the type easily intimidated by a basic protection racket. She might not overpower them in a physical altercation, but I believed she could outsmart them. Maybe, given enough time, she’d have thought of a way out of their extortion. But ensuring the evidence didn’t fall into someone else’s hands complicated things more than taking out two thugs with dreams of becoming crime lords. 

The front door opened, and sunlight streamed in. Daniel took the box from me and nodded at Korak as he entered the ruined toy store. “Distract him.” 

“Hey!” Korak yelled when he saw us. 

I walked toward him to get in range for a shock spell. He let the door go and lurched toward us. As soon as I got close enough, I hit him right in the gut with my magic. He clutched at his abs and staggered. The ground shook as he collapsed to his knees. The impact had to hurt. He caught himself with both hands, breathless. That would have been enough to make most men give up. But Korak pushed himself up, determination written on his face. I had no desire to fight him. So, I prepared myself to cast another shock spell. 

Daniel stepped past me and activated a spell on his watch. Korak froze, one knee still on the ground, so it looked like he’d knelt to my boss. Daniel motioned me forward with two fingers. I didn’t need him to say anything. I emptied Korak’s pockets. He had a bronze watch, two knives, and a coin purse. I shook the pouch, and its contents clanked satisfyingly. I pocketed his belongings and stepped back to my place at Daniel’s side. 

“You have one chance to tell me the truth. If you lie, my associate will make you wish you hadn’t,” Daniel said. He took out a second watch and twisted the caster hand. I didn’t remember Dimitri’s names for the different models, but I knew one allowed the holder to detect lies. Daniel activated that spell, simultaneously deactivating the paralysis. “Does anyone else know about what you stored here?” 

“Yeah, of course,” Korak said. I didn’t need magic to spot the lie. Cam had clearly been the brains to Korak’s brawn. 

“I warned you,” Daniel told him. I took that as my cue and hit Korak with another shock spell. He shook and hit the floor. “Is he out?” 

I walked over and nudged Korak with my foot. He didn’t move. I couldn’t see his face, though. Not wanting to risk anything, I knelt and flipped him over. Empty eyes stared past me at the ceiling. I checked for a pulse without success. I hadn’t meant to kill him. Maybe if I tried soon enough, I could heal him. Would Daniel just kill him again if I did? “Dead. Should I try reviving him?” 

“No, just load him into the carriage. We’ll take care of him,” Daniel said. “How far is it to the woman’s shop from here?” 

“Not far, sir,” I answered. 

“Let’s go then,” he said. 

He retrieved the box of view disks, and I dragged Korak’s body. I struggled to maintain my concealment spell as I hefted the corpse into the carriage. No one passed by as we loaded up. As we left, I hoped Korak didn’t have anyone who’d miss him. Daniel drove rather than sit with the dead man inside. I directed him on the quickest route, and we arrived at the alteration boutique’s back door in a few minutes. 

“Welcome back,” the redhead said when she answered the door. 

“My employer expressed an interest in meeting you,” I told her. Something about the way Daniel looked at her made me more formal than my last visit. 

“Did you two deal with Korak?” she asked. I couldn’t tell which answer she wanted. 

“Yes, he won’t bother you again. No one will, at least not in the same capacity,” Daniel answered, saving me from my debate over what to tell her. 

“How can you be so sure?” she asked. 

“We shut down his operation completely and dealt with the evidence,” he answered. Technically, he hadn’t lied, but his implication was misleading. 

“I wouldn’t have taken you two for good samaritans,” she quipped. 

“Oh, we definitely aren’t,” Daniel admitted. I grew more uncomfortable as the sexual tension between them became more apparent. 

“Ah, perhaps we can discuss repayment for your service over dinner,” the redhead suggested. 

“I’d like that. Tonight?” Daniel asked. 

“I’ll clear my schedule,” she answered. “You can pick me up here at seven.” 

“I look forward to it,” he told her. 

Daniel gave a gentlemanly nod before stepping back up to the carriage’s driver’s seat. She waved at us, or rather him, as we glided away. Watching Daniel make plans reminded me of my date with Dimitri. Daniel’s bow made me consider what courtly gesture I could make when I picked him up at his apartment. I wondered if Dimitri would appreciate flowers. 

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