BREAKING THE SHADOWS
An Emberlight Universe Story
By Frederick Lacroix
Nadya is on another case, but her mark just disappeared into thin air.
Like the professional she is, she reaches out to one of her contact for magical help.
Just how deep does the magical rabbit hole goes? And did Nadya just make a powerful enemy?
Nadya sat down on the sidewalk. It was way past midnight now and she was alone in the less reputable part of town. The summer air was heavy, it was humid even at night these days. All she could smell around her was garbage, but at least there were stars to be made out through the smog and the light pollution of the city. Fall City sure didn’t live up to its name right now.
“Damnit,” she muttered.
The man she was trailing had vanished. There were no place for him to hide, or escape through, the only explanation left was magic. Nadya didn’t care much for wizards when they weren’t on her side. But she’d been paid the beginnings of a princely sum by a short elven woman to trail her husband, she’d forgotten to mention the magic, though. And she’d forgotten to mention that the man had a penchant for strolling in the slums of the city during the night. But that part she might not have known. Now Nadya needed her own wizard to track where her quarry might have gone. That would sure eat into the profits.
“Rise and shine, you old coot,” Nadya yelled through the open window.
The old man sat up fast enough that he nearly catapulted himself out of bed. He looked dirty, disorientated and still drunk. Nadya thought that the man hadn’t been anywhere near soap in a while, by the smells he exuded. It was good for him that he had a great aptitude for magic, else he would never have any visitors.
“What time is it?” he asked.
“Just north of six,” Nadya said.
“In the morning? Gods, woman, don’t you ever sleep like normal people?”
“Normal people get up in the morning, they don’t go to bed then. Get up, I need your help.”
The man grumbled something but got out of bed, put on his old slippers and a bathrobe full of holes before exiting the room. Nadya moved to the front door and waited until it unlocked. She went in. The wizard wasn’t around, but that was to be expected. She made her way to the kitchen where the old man sat, waiting. She’d been here many times, but she never got used to the mess of vials and burners and ingredient all sitting on top of each other in a seemingly random way. She knew for a fact that the man had a basement and enough space there for him to build his stinky laboratory, but he didn’t. Nadya never understood why.
“What do you want?” he asked as the woman sat down on a wobbly kitchen chair.
“Need a track,” she said. “I think some dude teleported away, or used one of the magic doors that can get you a few hundred meters away.”
The old man nodded. “Not easy.”
“And that’s why I came to see the Great Garland.”
Garland grumbled again.
“I can even give you some money in advance, for once. The client’s been generous upfront. It probably means I will get screwed when all this is over, but hey, easy come, easy go, right?”
“Cynicism doesn’t suit a young woman such as yourself,” the old man said. “Young people today should be optimistic. When I was young, it was much harder to be free and left alone by the authorities. I couldn’t have walked on the street with those.” He pointed at Nadya’s gloves. “They would have locked me up.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard all of this before, Garland. You gonna help me or not?”
“Fine. I’ll help you. Come back after dark and you can show me the area where he disappeared. I can’t promise anything and you know it, though. The energies dissipate almost immediately and what lingers isn’t always reliable, especially if there’s a lot of magical activity in that area.”
“I know the drill. But I have faith in the Great Garland,”Nadya smiled.