“Terrible night, isn’t it?”
“Is this an attempt at small talk?”
The man grumbled something under his breath.
Zoe took her eyes off searching the streets and glanced at him.
Wayne’s eyes searched the tops of buildings as they walked down the deserted street. He, like her, was fully dressed in his usual black suit. He held a large tome open in one hand as if he was in the middle of reading it. He wasn’t, of course.
Zoe had never understood why he used a tome as a focus. Their storage capacity surpassed staves. One could pen down spells into the tome’s pages to avoid the concentration required for more complicated spells. Wayne never used spells that took advantage of those traits. As far as she could tell, he used the tome like any other focus.
Tomes were heavy and unwieldy, yet it was all he used outside of the classroom.
“Ahead,” he said.
Zoe broke her thoughts and snapped her eyes forward.
Another group of the creatures shambled around the corner of the street.
Six of them looked old and rotted. Two had bright red blood still dripping from their wounds. Their clothes were less torn and one wore a Halloween costume. Fresh victims.
Still, no mercy would be shown. Zoe readied her dagger. She already had to put down one of her students, she only hoped neither of the two fresh corpses were students.
Zoe lanced a lightning bolt at the nearest one’s head. She sustained the bolt for a few extra seconds. A normal person would go down with a heart attack, brain damage, or nerve damage, depending on location and power. A zombie didn’t care about such things.
She held the bolt until the zombie’s eyes exploded. Another few seconds and the zombie crumpled to the ground with smoke rising from its body. The putrid stench of burnt flesh filled the street.
The crack drew the attention of the rest of the creatures.
Wayne didn’t hesitate for a moment. He immediately sent out a blast of fire, enveloping a zombie.
Zoe took a step backwards, casting a heavy wind in the direction of the zombies. Two of them stumbled and fell to the ground. A follow-up razor wind took the head off of another.
Wayne threw a blaze of red fire over the two on the ground and caught a third in the inferno.
Thick shoes clomping behind her made Zoe spin. Out of the alley stumbled one more creature. Wayne was incinerating a zombie to her side. This one fell to her. She raised her dagger and prepared to fire.
A small black sphere splattered against the neck of the zombie from its side. It flashed white a moment after.
The zombie’s head fell to the ground with its body crumpling after it.
Zoe whirled around to where the attack came from.
A woman stood next to a younger black-haired girl. The woman wore a suit–much fancier than Zoe’s own–splattered with blood. The sleeves were torn at the wrist and she had long black gloves tipped in sharp claws. What really drew Zoe’s eyes was the half-black, half-white mask with thin slits for eyes and thick cords that ran from the top of her head down her back.
The black-haired girl quickly placed something behind her back while Zoe was distracted with the masked woman. She wore much more normal pants, tee-shirt and a jacket.
It took a double take before Zoe recognized the girl. Zoe forced herself to relax and put on a calmer face.
“Eva, what are you doing here?”
The young girl looked up at Zoe with cold eyes. “Same thing as you, I imagine; cleaning up the town and hunting necromancers. Found any?”
“You’re covered in blood.” She wasn’t exactly covered in it. Not as much as her companion, at least. There was definitely blood, especially on her hands.
She looked down at herself then back up at Zoe with a small smile. “It isn’t mine.”
Zoe did not match her smile. If the blood was hers, she was injured. Not a good thing when zombies are running around. If the blood wasn’t hers then it was zombie blood.
“Eva,” Zoe started, calmly and slowly, “are you infected?”
The tall figure standing next to her tensed at the comment. Zoe couldn’t tell her facial expression beneath the mask, but she looked about ready to pounce. Judging by the blood dripping off of her clawed gloves as well as over her undamaged clothes, she was quite good at pouncing.
Eva held her hand to the side and gave a small shake of her head. The woman immediately relaxed.
“Don’t worry,” Eva said, “I took an anti-zombie potion.”
Wayne bristled at that. “No such thing,” he grunted.
“People keep telling me that.” Eva crossed her arms beneath her chest. “We’ll see who is a zombie in the morning and who isn’t.”
Zoe didn’t doubt Wayne’s knowledge of potions. She knew of only one way to counteract the infection from a zombie and she did not have a corpse flower handy. “You will become a hindrance if you are infected.”
“So you’re going to kill me then?” Eva half snarled. This time both of them tensed.
Zoe did not like how quickly the girl was ready to fight. She had one hand behind her back. Zoe did not know what was back there except that it was undoubtedly a weapon.
“Quarantine,” Zoe quickly said. “In the morning you can, if you’re you, teach Wayne how to make your potion.”
“Can’t,” Eva said with a wave of her hand, “I didn’t make it. My mentor did. It was delivered by,” she paused and glanced at the tall woman next to her, “his associate.” Eva relaxed, dropping her arm to her side. The woman next to her didn’t.
“Does this associate have a name?”
“Why’s she wearing a mask?” Wayne asked.
“It’s Halloween, isn’t it?” The woman in the mask had a confident but very artificially modulated voice. Just four words came out like they weren’t being spoken by a proper mouth or vocal cords.
It set Zoe on edge. More on edge than she already was.
“Quarantine, Eva, is–”
“A waste of time. If you have no information on the necromancers behind this, then I believe it is time to go.” She turned, though the woman next to her did not. “Believe it or not, I am mildly fond of you. Don’t try to stop me. It would be… unpleasant.”
“Take one of these at least,” Zoe said. She pulled out one of her business cards and held it out. “If you do find the necromancers, let us know. We can help.”
Eva reached out and almost took it. She pulled her hand back mere inches from the card. “I’d rather not risk getting blood on you,” she said.
Zoe set the card on the ground and took a step back. Eva picked it up.
“If I do use this, I highly recommend not touching either of us without sterilization. Even if we’re badly injured.”
With that said, the girl turned and used her false blink down the street. The ‘associate’ remained–glaring if Zoe had to guess–for a moment longer before she sprinted down the street. She jumped straight to a rooftop that Eva blinked to and they were gone.
“You shouldn’t have let them go.”
“I don’t think we had much choice. I have no doubts that the thing next to her was not human. I do have doubts over how much we could have hurt it before it killed us.”
Wayne just grunted. “Come on,” he said, “night’s far from over.”
Zoe followed after him. She kept alert for any movement, but her thoughts were elsewhere.
A mysterious nonhuman associate. A weapon that she kept hidden even when she suspected an attack. A cure for zombie infection.
As long as she did end up not becoming a zombie. She seemed very confident about it, if exhausted.
Zoe let herself smile for the first time that night.
Wayne really had missed out when he let her slip by. Zoe just hoped the trouble Eva caused would be worth it in the end.
— — —
Eva stepped to another rooftop and paused, catching her breath. Arachne caught up a moment later.
Leaning into the spider, Eva sighed. The amount of blood she used drawing the ritual circle wound up taking more out of her than she thought. Combined with slaughtering a town infested with zombies and Eva felt ready to drop.
“You need to take a rest,” Arachne said. “They can finish cleaning the streets.”
Eva picked herself off of Arachne. “No. We’re going to find them.”
“You can barely stand. You may be half demon, but you aren’t a full one yet. You will die if you keep this up.”
“I will be fine. I’ll just avoid using blood magic for a while. I need to practice regular magic anyway.”
Arachne did not look convinced as she slid her mask to the side.
“And I’ll be relying on you,” Eva added.
“As much as I like to hear you say that, I’d rather you head in for the night. If you really want me to, I’ll continue scourging this town of the infected.”
Eva smiled at her concern. It was nice. Touching to have the woman care about her so. “Good thing we decided to get you that full mask. I’d rather have Zoe Baxter thinking of you as just a spooky associate than a demon.”
Arachne side and slid the mask back over her face. “I’m not going to talk you out of this, am I?”
“Try again a few zombies later. I might be more tired then.”
“I didn’t know you cared about the humans in this place enough to strain yourself so.”
Eva frowned at that and gave it a long thought before responding. “I suppose I don’t. Not humans in general anyway. These necromancers hurt my friends and are making a mess of the town I currently call home.” She paused, looking over Arachne for any cues. She found none.
“If I was the one hurt,” Eva continued, “you’d have brought the entire town to rubble until you found the culprit. So don’t say I’m going overboard over a couple of ‘measly humans.’ They’re my friends right now, just like you are. I’d do the same for you.”
Arachne smiled at that. Even with the mask in place, Eva could tell. The twitching of her hair tendrils and the slight tilt of her head gave it away.
How she had gotten to know Arachne so well over the last few months felt odd. Like a twisting in her stomach. She wasn’t sure if it was a good twisting or a bad twisting, but being friends with Arachne had been beneficial, if nothing else. The real twist in her stomach was that she actually meant it when she said they were friends.
Devon always warned her away from even speaking with demons outside of orders and definitely disapproved of being friendly. He definitely disapproved of Arachne’s interest in Eva. Once she started taking interest, Devon sought to keep them apart save for her treatments and a select few jobs.
Eva never saw the harm in it.
Even Ylva, who could kill someone merely by brushing her hand over them, had been very polite to a frightened Eva. She even left a gift. Sure, Eva had apparently given her some great boon, but there was no contract for the gift. Eva foolishly gave the phylactery to the demon. She could have just left and gotten a free boon.
After the experiment ended, what would her master do? Keep her around for observations, surely. Start treating her like one of the demons he summoned? Not if Eva had a choice in the matter.
Eva sighed again and realized Arachne hadn’t said anything. The spider-woman had gone very still. “Something the matter?”
“Are you sure you don’t want to head back?”
“I’m sure. Why?”
Arachne hesitated just a moment before responding. “There’s a group of zombies in the street below. I can hear them.”
Eva went silent to listen. Her hearing wasn’t as good as the spider-woman’s. Still, she could hear faint moaning when she concentrated.
“If you promise to stay here, I’ll go finish them and be back in less than a minute.”
Eva shook her head. “Like I said, I could use practice with regular magic.”
Arachne slumped her shoulders. “Alright,” she said, “but let me carry you down. We don’t want you leaving half yourself behind again.”
“That happened once,” Eva said as the spider woman lifted her into her arms. “I was brand new and panicked at the time.”
“And this time you are very exhausted.” Arachne stepped off the edge of the building. She absorbed all the shock of the landing and set Eva down in one smooth motion.
Eva whipped her arm out and launched a fireball towards the zombies. It came out less as the basketball she envisioned and more as a ping-pong ball. Eva sighed as it sailed right past the group of zombies and dissipated harmlessly against the asphalt.
It did manage get their attention. Unfortunately, their attention went to where the fireball dispersed–in the opposite direction.
Eva shared a glance with Arachne. Despite the mask, she felt the demon was very desperately trying to hold in laughter.
Eva shook her head and concentrated. She pictured a boulder of flame and rock being catapulted against a castle wall. With that image in mind, Eva lobbed another fireball.
The ball slammed into the shoulder of one of the zombies. If the golf ball sized orb did more than singe the flesh, Eva couldn’t tell in the dim light of the street lamps.
Eva sighed. At least the fireball was bigger this time, maybe. If I squinted. “Maybe I’m actually not a fire mage,” she said to Arachne.
The zombie she struck turned around and started shambling towards her. Eva wasn’t worried. They were slow and uncoordinated. The only real danger was them sneaking up and with Arachne at her side, Eva doubted that was possible.
Arachne stuck nearby rather than jumping into the fray. It had been several groups of zombies since she decided sticking by Eva’s side was more important than wanton slaughter. Heartwarming in a way, and here it gave Eva a chance to practice.
She tossed another few fireballs without doing much damage. The other zombies had been attracted by the light. Eva just calmly walked backwards with Arachne at her side.
Zoe Baxter had used a gust of wind to completely remove a zombie’s head. Eva tried the same thing. Sneezing might have done more.
“You’re just not cut out for ‘proper’ magics.”
Eva was sure there was laughter in the demon’s voice. “It is my second month of schooling. I’m sure I’ll get better.”
“May I?” Arachne asked with a gesture towards the approaching zombies.
Eva just nodded her head and stopped walking backwards.
Arachne took a look around before calmly walking forwards and decapitating each one with a swipe of her hands. She did so quickly and without needless gore as she had done with some of the earlier groups. Arachne walked back to Eva’s side.
With the zombies dead, Eva slumped her shoulders and sighed. Maybe her lack of ability was exhaustion. No, not maybe. Definitely.
A nap sounded amazing at the moment. Curling up under some warm blankets with Arachne huddled around her had never sounded better. Alas it was not to be.
A thunder crack put Eva on full alertness. She turned at the noise. A horde of corpses streamed into the street from an alley. They less shambled and more ran.
A similar crack shook the street somewhere behind Eva. Another horde materialized out of thin air.
“These aren’t zombies,” Eva said.
They were more like skeletons that had been shoved into the fresh meat section of a grocery store. Flesh and skin hung off the bones. None of the bones seemed to be from the same creature either. Not a one looked human without heavily squinting your eyes.
They shambled and twisted until Eva was backed against the wall of a building. Arachne kept a few paces in front, flinging any that got too close down the street.
“We need to get out of here,” Arachne said.
Eva couldn’t agree more. She was about ready to step away when the flesh golems stopped. They left about a ten foot ring around her and just stood, staring.
Arachne growled, flexing her claws but not moving forward. She started pacing in front of Eva.
“Well,” a voice above Eva echoed down into the street, “what do we have here?”
Two men stood on a roof looking down at Eva and Arachne. Two spectral hounds flanked them, both barking and growling at the two in the street.
“Two party goers lost out on All Hallow’s Eve,” the skinny one said.
Eva narrowed her eyes. She didn’t doubt for a moment who these two were.
Arachne kept moving around Eva as if expecting one of the flesh golems to lunge at any moment.
“The dogs are saying she was the one at the crypt.”
“She’s the one,” a voice shrieked out. Stephen Toomey stumbled forward past the two men. He collapsed on his knees and pointed the only finger left on his hand at Eva. “I swear. I sold it to the little girl.”
“Oh?” The bulky man stepped to the edge of the roof and looked down. “I have doubts about that pathetic display of fireworks. There were a good hundred skeletons taken out. The dogs might be wrong, or it might be the other woman. If you’re sure you sold the book to her…”
“It’s her. Now please, let me go. I just–”
The blond man clapped Toomey on the back with a friendly smile. “Looks like we won’t be needing to visit the dorms after all.” He stood up, dragging Toomey to his feet by the shirt. “Selling out a schoolgirl in an attempt to save your own life?” He clicked his tongue disapprovingly. “Disgusting.”
He gave just a light push.
Toomey tumbled off the edge of the roof. He let out a short cry before he was silenced. A sickening crunch spread through the air.
“A vain attempt,” the skinny man said with a wide smile.
“Thank you for caring for our tome, but we’ll be taking the book back.”
The flesh golems shuffled back and forth, eager to advance. If they attacked, things could get bad. The spectral dogs would make running more difficult.
Eva leaned back against the wall, trying to look casual, and placed her arms behind her back. “What book?” Eva said with more confidence than she felt.
“What book?” The larger man looked to his companion. “Sawyer, you’ve killed the bookkeeper too soon.”
While the man was turned, Eva carefully slipped her dagger out of its sheath. She touched it against her other arm. Blood marbles began forming behind her back.
Her body wasn’t quite at a real danger point. She’d survive enough blood loss to take out the dogs. Maybe the two necromancers if she was lucky. If this turned into a long confrontation, she’d be in trouble.
“She’s lying.” The skinny man’s eyes never left hers. His smile still stretched from ear to ear.
Eva frowned at his words. Why does everyone seem to know when I’m lying.
The man turned back to her and frowned. “You don’t want to test us further. You will regret it. Hand over the book.”
“Oh, I just hand it over and you’ll let me go on my way?”
“Of course not. There are worse things than death, my sweetie.”
“Sweetie?” Eva controlled her voice very carefully. “If we are so familiar, why not introduce yourselves.” She tapered off the flow of blood and healed her cut. Ten marbles totaling about a pint of blood hovered in the small of her back.
“Your last warning. Hand us the book or–”
The skinny one interrupted. “She doesn’t have the book. Obviously.” He managed to roll his eyes without taking them off Eva.
“Take us to the book or–”
“Don’t know where it is,” Eva interrupted. The man seemed to be going a bit red in the face. “Ask your friend if I’m telling the truth.”
The moment his head swung to the side, Eva launched four blood orbs. One at each of the dogs and one at each of the men.
Arachne noticed the orbs whizzing past her. She turned and grabbed Eva, smoothly jumping over the horde of golems without a pause.
Eva barely had time to snap her fingers before Arachne bolted down the street. Over Arachne’s shoulder, she could see the two figures atop the building still standing there. Neither crumpled or appeared to be in pain.
One of the spectral dogs chased after her through the air. It barked and snarled as it closed in faster than Arachne could dash. The other dog was nowhere to be seen.
One out of four isn’t bad, she thought as she launched another two orbs. They passed straight through the dog as if it wasn’t even there. A snap of her fingers and the orbs exploded within. The dog howled and vanished into green motes.
“Dogs are dead,” Eva said to Arachne. “Take me back, I want another shot at the necromancers.”
“You’re shaking, shivering even, and covered in sweat that wasn’t there before. You need rest.”
Eva held her hand in front of her. She couldn’t hold it steady as much as she tried. Arachne’s running didn’t help. “Shaking and sweating from excitement.”
“Don’t lie to me Eva. Your breathing is ragged. You were supposed to be done with blood magic for the night. I could have dealt with them. Call your teachers if you wish. We’re going back to our home.”
Eva sighed and leaned into Arachne’s shoulder. She didn’t close her eyes. If she fell asleep, no one would be able to keep an eye on pursuers. “Can’t call them. Zoe Baxter has the book. Too dangerous to have her engage.”
“Relax, Eva. We’ll find them again. Maybe we will send Ivonis after them.”
“Oh? Did they introduce themselves to you while I wasn’t looking? I must have missed their names.”
Arachne’s mouth split into a small smile. “Another demon then. I’ll go even. Once you’re safe and rested.”
“We do need to warn Zoe Baxter.” Eva scanned the streets behind Arachne, waiting for someone to show up. “And retrieve the book from her.”
“Shall I hunt her down?”
“No, I have her card. Take us home and we’ll call her there, someplace far away from here.”
“She can teleport, right?”
“It will take us time to get there. Time for the necromancers to vanish.”
“Or cause more problems.”
Eva sighed. She wished her master were here. He’d know what demon to summon to clean up the town.
Maybe he will be at the prison.
— — —
“I just got a pulse from Eva.”
Wayne tensed up immediately.
They hadn’t seen anything for the last half hour. Not a zombie, not another person. The other instructors were still checking in every so often, but it seemed like most of their excitement died down as well.
“Not sure. About fifty miles outside Brakket.”
“Found the necromancer’s base? Or captured? Worse?”
“Just a moment.” Zoe took her dagger and sliced straight down in front of her. A tear in space widened to a small oval in front of her face. Zoe peered into the pure white of between.
And immediately pulled away, clutching her head.
“Zoe?” Wayne set a firm hand on her shoulder.
She shook him off. “Nothing. Same effect as when trying to look around her runes at the dorms. Which means it is probably a safe area.”
“Safe for her. Or the necromancers use the same thing.”
Zoe attempted scrying again. This time, she picked an area half a mile off. “No protection over here. There’s an unmaintained road leading up to a large black area.” Zoe winced. “The black area is the protected area. It triggers the same effect, though not as bad as when I tried to look in directly.”
“Any people or zombies around?”
“None that I can see from the hill.” Zoe frowned. She tried to avoid looking directly at the black area, but it was huge. “Each one of her rune packets is just enough to cover one room. This place is probably the size of the entire school plus one of the dorm buildings, maybe the other as well.”
“Are we going to go?”
“I’d rather not leave a student in trouble. We can be gone in an instant if it looks dangerous.”
“Unless they’ve got wards set up against that.”
“If we can get in, we can get out.”
Wayne just grumbled. He moved over and peeked into her scrying window.
Zoe readied her dagger and went between. The street fell into a white void and was replaced by a sagebrush filled hillside. Wayne appeared at her side an instant later. Zoe turned, looking out over the area that was covered in darkness.
“An old one,” Wayne grunted.
“Do we go knock?”
Wayne shrugged and headed down the hill. Zoe followed after him, careful to mind her step down the rough hillside.
As they approached the main gate, Zoe made out the young girl leaning against the bars.
“Eva, are you alright?”
The girl before her looked like she could barely stand on her feet.
“Just tired for the most part. Took you long enough to get here.”
“I couldn’t see into the prison. Your runes, I assume. We were forced to arrive on the hill.”
“When you didn’t show up, I figured it was something like that. I had to come out here to keep you from wandering the prison.”
Wayne took a step forward, peering down at the girl. “Something we shouldn’t see inside?”
“Tons of things,” Eva rolled her eyes, “mostly didn’t want you running into one of my mentor’s wards. You would find that very unpleasant.”
“In any case,” Eva said, “I’m fine. I need the book. Recent events have convinced me that it needs to be destroyed sooner rather than later.”
Zoe did not like the sound of that. “What events?”
“Oh nothing much. Ran into two necromancers. They killed Stephen Toomey right in front of me and had about a hundred flesh golems. They found us with some ghost dogs that were tracking us from when we found out the name of the book.” The black-haired girl smacked her face. She half shouted, “Which is something I didn’t think about until just now.”
The edge in her voice set Zoe on edge as well. Eva rarely was perturbed by anything.
“There is one more person I didn’t tell you who went with us. Well, two, but my mentor’s associate can take care of herself. Juliana on the other hand…”
“You took Juliana with you?” Eva putting herself in danger was one thing. One thing Zoe didn’t like. She couldn’t do much to help it aside from confining Eva to her room. She doubted that would even hold her. Not if she’d set up a home out here with enough facilities to make it livable.
Bringing other students into it was crossing the line.
Not to mention that it was Juliana. Her mother would raze Hell itself if anything happened to her daughter.
“You said there were hordes of skeletons.”
“Not that many.”
“Mr. Carter was injured so bad you haven’t even seen him since.”
“It was just a flesh wound.”
“You said you were lucky to have escaped with your lives.”
“Nothing wrong with a bit of embellishment. You’re making a much bigger deal out of this than you did when it was just me and my mentor.”
“You are wrong about that, Evaleen Spencer.” The girl winced at her full name. Zoe hadn’t forgotten how her father went on about the ‘ungrateful brat who won’t even call herself by her birth name.’ “I remember very distinctly scolding you for a good half hour.”
“Well, we don’t have time for another scolding. If they tracked me down, they might go to the dorms. They might already be there, I escaped from them over an hour ago.”
The young girl looked calm, but she started sweating. In the cold air, that was something of a feat.
Zoe knelt down and placed a hand on Eva’s shoulder. She felt a tremble beneath the shirt. “Eva, calm down. The dorms and school have very thorough alarm wards set up. If anyone were hurt or even taken somewhere against their will, all teachers would know instantly. Nothing has happened yet.
“Professor Twillie along with a full complement of local police are watching over it. Wayne,” she glanced at her companion, “will head over and check on Juliana.”
Eva nodded and looked at Wayne. “Shalise was injured at the party earlier. Bitten by a zombie.”
Zoe couldn’t help but gasp. Wayne shifted.
“She’s fine, not contagious nor infected.” Eva held up her hands. “Though you may not believe that when you see her injuries. We thought about taking her to the hospital, but Juliana believed that would be a bad place to go on a night like tonight. She’s hopped up on potions and being watched over by Juliana.”
“More of your zombie immunity potion?” He made his disbelief clear in his tone.
Wayne grunted and vanished.
“Now, Eva, we are going to talk about everything that happened tonight.”
“I’d rather get to destroying dangerous books and then bed. I am feeling a very bad headache coming on.”
“Eva.” Zoe gave the girl a hard glare. “We are going to talk about everything. People died tonight. I had to rekill two students. This is not okay.”
The girl tried to shake her hand off, but Zoe kept a firm grip on her shoulder.
“None of that is my fault. I am not a necromancer. I didn’t bring them here. I warned you that Halloween was a dangerous day.”
“I know. I’m not blaming you. You are more involved in this than anyone else save for the missing Mr. Carter, that is why we will talk.” Zoe gave her a smile and a squeeze on her shoulder before releasing her. “Are you going to invite me in?”
Eva shuffled her feet and shifted her eyes away from Zoe. “There are no good areas to host guests outside of very heavily protected wards. Well, there are, but you probably won’t like solitary.”
“And you can’t key me into the wards?”
“I… could. We talked about incriminating things already once. A similar idea applies here.”
Zoe didn’t respond to that. She already had an idea of what the elusive Mr. Carter was into. The ‘associate’ of his that had been with Eva earlier was another piece to the puzzle. There were few humanoid creatures that could move and jump the way it did.
“My office then,” Zoe said.
“That’s…” Eva put her hand to her forehead. “I’d much rather stay here. I’m quite confident in my wards and their ability to repel even very powerful creatures. Not to mention A–my mentor’s associate will get antsy if she finds me missing. She may become… unpredictable.”
“Eva. I am willing to look over Mr. Carter’s demonic associations.” Eva snapped her head up, eyes wide. So easy to read, Eva. “So long as Mr. Carter truly means no harm to anyone and keeps his…” Zoe ground her teeth, “things under control. And is against the necromancers currently assailing our town.”
There were another hundred stipulations Zoe should add to the list. She’d have to report this to… to someone. Whatever Mr. Carter was, he was against the necromancers. The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. And I will use that enemy to defeat my enemies.
“For now,” Zoe added. She’d think of how to break Eva away from the man after their current crisis was over. Eva mentioned the man saved her from death. That surely created a strong connection.
“As amusing as your baseless accusations are, they aren’t the only issue. The anti-zombie potion kept me from becoming a zombie, but it has left me with massive headaches, shaking, sweating, and general exhaustion. I am in no state to speak on anything tonight.”
Zoe looked the girl over again. She hadn’t moved from leaning against the metal. The sweat she had thought to be from worry over Juliana hadn’t stopped. The girl was telling the truth about this, at least.
“First thing in the morning. I will be at this gate as the sun rises. If you are not here, I’ll hunt you down. Confidence in your wards or not, all wards can be broken.”
“That is grim, but agreeable.”
“I wouldn’t hunt you down to kill you, Eva, if that is what you are thinking.”
“Not that, that my wards might be brought down. Still, even if someone hammered against them all night, I should be fine. I’ll have someone watching over me as I sleep.”
Zoe frowned at that, but didn’t say anything. Baby steps, she told herself. She pulled out another business card. “Just if anything happens.”
“Don’t aimlessly wander the prison, you might not survive.”
“I appreciate the warning.”