Thursday, May 5, 2011

The alley is cloaked in a glamour that causes casual onlookers to feel a vague unease and quickly pass by. I kneel by the "package" Monty found and carefully lift away the blood-stiffened fabric.

My eyes are greeted with a variety of bones - human bones, some with shreds and gobbets of flesh still adhering to them, others stripped clean. By my count, the tally adds up to at least two bodies. I am the more convinced when continued exploration uncovers a pair of small clutch purses, each just large enough to hold a card case, keys and a handful of condoms. The remains are thus identified - however tentatively - as Samantha Blake and Karen Prentiss.

"Monty," I say quietly, "Might I trouble you for three large plastic bags? In one we will place the belongings of these unfortunates; in the others, the remains themselves. It is regrettable, but no power at my command may distinguish which remains belong to which victim; the families must perforce be content with undifferentiated remains."

"Not so, mage."

A shrouded figure stands at the northern extremity of the alley. "Mistress Nyx," I say in some surprise. "How came you here?"

"I go where I am sent, mage. Today I have been sent here to place my powers at your disposal" - a faint smile plays about her lips - "in this matter only."

I bow. "At your leisure, madam."

Mistress Nyx moves down the alley with a curious gliding motion, then kneels by the remains. Her white hands hover, her white pupilless eyes flaring with hidden fire. "This is Karen Prentiss." Heedless of the blood, she lifts half of a rib cage, sets it to one side. "This also." A femur and a skull join the rib cage. "This is Samantha Blake." A pelvic girdle begins a third pile of bones. She busies herself among the bones for perhaps the quarter of an hour, assigning each to its proper place until there are only two piles. Monty reverently gathers the remains into separate bags, then disappears into the tavern.

He returns within moments, bringing with him two circular tags such as are commonly used to label keys. These, labeled "K" and "S", are affixed to the appropriate bag with a long twist-tie. Mistress Nyx, her work completed, has departed when Monty shoulders one bag, then the other and takes them into the back room of the tavern. For my part, I am on my cell, communicating with Sweeney and Mole….

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