She looks at her apartment. It looks like a tornado swept through it. Pictures knocked off the wall, keepsakes spilled on the floor. So many memories; not all of them happy, she muses. Still, the time for reminiscing is no more. She knows her course. As a member of the Assembly of Mages, she knows they'll come for her soon. She's ready.

It's finished. Dez is demoted, and Tom will soon be free. I don't know how I can face him. I should have been there, not him. All this time, it should have been me. I hope this makes up for it. I think so. For the first time since the trial, I feel peace. I don't feel the Stars weighing on me. My life is in balance, finally. Maybe this is the time.

She sets down her pen and places the volume atop its brethren. She runs her finger along the identical black spines. Soon, she thinks. Her wait is short. No more than an hour passes before her doorbell sounds. She opens her apartment door.

"Hello, Trevyan," she greets the Lead Investigator. "Russell, Desmond, Gregorio, Dylan." She nods in greeting at each of the four Investigators flanking Trevyan. "Won't you please come in?"

They file in, dark expressions matching their equally dark suits. Of them all, Desmond Sinclair glowers at her the most. She meets his eyes with defiance. They stare until Lead Investigator Trevyan Hidleberg clears his throat. "Miss Veronica Stansbury, we are here to escort you, as you are commanded to appear before a full panel of Lord Judges on charges of false testimony, interfering with an investigation, and performing Blood Magic."

With that, Russell Mackenzie and Dylan Kirkland step forward and each clamp a metal bracelet around her wrists, nullifying her magic. His face still grim, Desmond opens the door. Veronica ignores him and leaves the chaos of apartment with her head high, her heart calm.


"It's the twenty-first century, Veronica! We're allowed to be out. In fact, we're expected to be out!" Even as frustrated as she was, Danielle Morgan looked beautiful. Lithe, tall and willowy, with her clear blue eyes and long blonde hair, she looked like a Barbie doll in the flesh.

Veronica Stansbury sighed. "I know, love. I know." She tried to smile, but only formed a grimace. "They're very set in Their ways, and wouldn't accept us. At best, we'll be banished." She ran her fingers through Danielle's long and silky hair. She always did that when she needed comfort. They snuggled together on Veronica's bed, a tangle of limbs and bodies.

Danielle laughed playfully. "It's not that bad living as a normal person, you know!" She kissed Veronica on the lips, raising her to heady bliss. "We don't have to hide, you don't have to pretend! You don't have to stay up all night doing your Harry Potter stuff! We can finally go out together!"

Veronica nodded thoughtfully. What a sight we'd make! This time, her smile was genuine. She knew she was attractive, but not beautiful like her lover. She and Danielle were a study in contrasts: she was short and fuller of body. Her raven hair barely brushed her shoulders. She hid her agate eyes behind glasses, bowing to style only in the frames.

Imagining the two of them walking arm-in-arm both warmed and tempted her. Instead, all she had were pictures of Dani in the park or at the wharf. Places we both were, but not together. Separated not by distance, but time. The hall to her bedroom as lined with pictures of Danielle, her beloved Danielle.

"No, honey. You know I can't." She kissed Danielle back. "I need to get the world to accept us."

"They do already!"

"No, that's not what I mean, Dani. I'm not talking about you and me, us. I'm talking about mages."

"I know, I was just trying to make you smile again. You're always so serious." Danielle giggles. "Don't make me tickle you!"

"This is serious. The Church is merging with the State, and it will lead to the Final Days. They're blaming mages for everything. I need to show them we're not to blame." She pushed Danielle's hands away.

"Veronica?" Danielle scowled and untangled herself from Veronica.. "I know this is important to you. The mages, they're your family, and you're scared for them." She paused and drew in a breath. "But ... if you were forced to choose between them and me ... ?"

"I'll never let that happen, hun. You know that." Veronica leaned over to kiss her lover, but Danielle slid away.

"Yes or no, Veronica. The truth. By all you hold dear." Danielle's mien was serious, perhaps for the first time that night.

"Please don't ask me that, Dani. Stars, you know I love you more than life itself. This isn't about that - I have to do this. It's the only way to stop the future."

Danielle's eyes welled with tears. "That's the future. I don't care about that. I'm talking about now, about us. Let's run away, and let the rest of the world take care of itself!"

"I ... I can't. I've already ... I just can't."

"Why not? Give me one good reason -"

"Dani, please, please don't ask me that."

"Why, because you can't give me one?"

"No, because I can! Do you see? Do you understand now?"

"No, Veronica, I don't. Tell me."

"I'm begging you. Dani, please -"

"Tell me, dammit! Why? Why?"

Veronica looked away. With a small and choked voice, she said, "I have this friend, Tom, Tom Baxter. I've known him ... fifteen, twenty years. We grew up together. I ... when I was trying to help send some dead spirits on their way, I broke some of the laws we mages have. We have our own police, courts and even jails. I was going to go to jail for that until he offered to take the blame." She closed her eyes. "See? I have a good reason. Tom already gave himself up for me to do this. I can't stop now."

Danielle inhaled sharply. "You really believe that?"

Veronica nodded. "It was a bad situation. The mage investigating the case had it in for Tom. He would have found some way to blame Tom, right or wrong."

"How long ago was that? About a year ago?"

"Eleven months, why? How did you know?" Veronica snapped her head up and stared at her partner.

"You've been a different person ever since."

"Dani, I've had a lot on my mind -"

"I only see you once or twice a week now."

Veronica sighed. "Look, love. This is important. We each have to do what we can with what we have. I didn't ask to have magic, but if I do have it, I have to use it for good."

"My God, you would choose your witches and warlocks over me, wouldn't you?" Danielle's voice rose. "I thought we had something! So this is why you never wanted to be seen together! When were you planning on using me like that?"

"I wouldn't! I didn't plan on Tom taking the blame! I didn't ask him to!"

"You used your magic on him?"

"Danielle! I would never!"

"Then why would he do that for you?"

Veronica's voice caught in her throat. "He loved me. I knew he would ... because he loved me." On her bed, she folded into a ball, wrapped her arms around her knees and sobbed. "I'd never ask you, Dani. You have to believe -"

Danielle stood. "You're a goddamned liar and a hypocrite, Veronica! You talk about your Stars and balance and truth, but it's all bullshit! If this is how you used him, I'm not going to be next! That's all you did - you used him. You played him. If you had one shred of decency, you'd know that!" She rolled off the bed. "If you had even one shred of decency, you'd know better." Danielle gathered her clothes. She stormed out.


"Advocate Tanner?" Veronica stopped the white-haired man just as he was locking up the bookstore. "I'm Veronica. I called earlier."

He looked up. His eyes were tired, but kindly. "I'm off for some supper, lass. Care to join me?"

"Yes, please." She felt a sense of relief around him.

He led with a slight nod of his head, and, as they walked, she tried to explain.

Veronica said haltingly, "I have, uh ... two friends who are in trouble. One broke the Mages' Code, and my other friend took the blame for it. He's sitting in prison for that, and I want the Council to understand he didn't do it."

They stopped at a crosswalk. Advocate Tanner asked "And what about your first friend, lass, the one who broke the Mages' Code? Should he be allowed to go free?"

The stoplight changed. They started walking. Advocate Tanner was carefully watching Veronica, but she was too deep in thought to notice. They walked half a block before she answered. "He was trying to perform the greater good, sir. He was acting within the Codex, even when be broke the Mages' Code."

He stopped and looked her up and down. "I've heard that many times during my time as an Advocate. You'll have to pardon me for being skeptical." He pushed open the door to a restaurant. A tempting aroma of fresh-baked bread, herbs and pasta called. "After you, my dear. Ladies first."

The interior was dimly lit, cramped and full. The young lady behind the cashier waved at Advocate Tanner, and he smiled back as he shed his heavy brown overcoat. She led him to a table secluded from view behind a post, clearing aside some paperwork and books.

To dispel Veronica's puzzled expression, the old man explained softly, "That's Luci. She always keeps a table for me. I helped her father many years ago. Stars, I forgot with what. Ah, that's right. I had to deal with some Echlori. Maybe it was an Echlorius. Can't tell with them." His eyes twinkled at the memory.

"A moss-mass? What did you do, burn it out?" she asked as he held the chair for her.

"Oh, no. No, no, no." He shook his head disapprovingly. "Respect life and love. From love, comes life. For love, we live." He seated himself across the small table from her.

Veronica nodded. He quoted the Codex; that reassured her. She looked up from the red-checked tablecloth. He sat there, looking at her, waiting. "So, what did you do?" she asked.

His eyes shone and his ever-present smile grew. "I gave it what it wanted, of course. It lived here, wanting to be close to the previous owners. That's the problem with Echlori - they actually want to be friends, but even Mage-kind has a problem accepting them."

"Well, they have this habit of either turning into man-plants or entering dreams ..." Veronica blurted.

"Again, only because they want to get to know us." He held up a gnarled finger. "They're nature's mimics, and they want to become like the dominant species in the ecosystem. That's why they appear in dreams, the smart ones, anyhow. The dumb ones, they think they can pass for human. That's when you get the 'swamp-thing' sightings." He chuckled. "Where was I? Oh, that's right. That Echlorius - I think it was singular, now that I think about it ... I hope it was, otherwise, they'll be mighty crowded."

Veronica was mesmerized. She nodded, her own troubles forgotten.

"This one was smart. It knew the old family, the Savellis, very well. They were nice people. Kind, generous, and warm. It was upset that Luci's parents had moved in, and wanted to drive them out in hopes the other family would return."

At that, Veronica had to smile. "That wouldn't have worked very well."

Tanner leaned in, his voice in a soft whisper. "Worse than you might think. Emil Savelli's son, Paolo, worked for the Delveccio family. He ended up on the wrong side of some Mob power struggle. As a result, their car was run off the bridge. Emil, Maria, Paolo, his wife Gina, and their baby Michelle, all gone." He darted his eyes upward and he leaned back. His voice took a normal volume again. "The place was closed for a bit before Luci's folks rented it and turned it into the place of high regard it is today. Hello, Luci! How are things, my dear?"

Veronica was surprised by the other lady's approach, so entranced was she by the Advocate's account. She stood when he did, and watched as he hugged and kissed Luci's cheek. Luci turned and extended her hand with a warm smile. Veronica took it, and found it exquisitely smooth, sleek and cool.

"Everything is going superb, Uncle Jesse. Who's your friend?" She gave Veronica a conspiratorial wink.

"Oh, just another person interested in old books. Veronica, meet Luci. Luci, Veronica," he replied with slow sweep of his hand.

She gave Veronica's hand a squeeze. "Great to meet you. Have you decided what you're having?"

Caught flat-footed, Veronica could only stammer, "Uh, can I have another minute? I was too busy talking with, uh, Jesse."

"Sure thing. Wave at me when you're ready." With a smile, she departed.

Veronica turned back to Tanner. "She doesn't know?"

"Hm? Know what?"

"That you're an Advocate in the Assembly of Mages."

"No, not that much. She knows a little. Probably enough to upset the Ancients if They found out."

Veronica sat back, surprised. "How much does she know?"

"Let's see. I guess she thinks I'm a psychic or something. I mean, not everybody knows how to deal with an Echlorius."

"Speaking of which, how did you deal with it?"

He looked into her eyes and smiled. "Like I said, I gave it what it wanted. It was giving Luci's folks the most horrible nightmares. Add to that the stress of moving, of getting this place open again, and then we have Don Delveccio demanding protection money from them before they even made a dime. They were at wit's end."

Veronica nodded, mentally urging him to continue.

"Well, I spent the night here, by myself. The Echlorius thought it won, that it drove Luci's family out. It was furious at me for being there. When I fell asleep, it let me have it. The most terrible things it ever saw in other people's dreams or memories."

"What did you do?"

"I accepted it. I let it wash around me. I didn't try to fight it. I waited until it spent all of its fury, then I explained that the Savellis were dead. I let it mourn them. I mourned them alongside it, in my dream. It loved them, and was deeply pained by their deaths. They evidently lived here for generations, and the Echlorius considered them its family."

"Did you tell him why the Savellis died?"

"Of course. Remember, we serve Truth and Light. Deferred trouble accrues interest. It took the news poorly. Would you believe it wanted me to tell it where Don Delveccio lived so it could take revenge?"

Veronica was dumbfounded. "I didn't realize they could feel that way."

"Oh yes. Amazing, the things you learn if your mind is open. No, killing Delveccio would have only traded one problem for another. They would have had another power struggle, and more people would die. Revenge is a bottomless pit, my dear. It's not in the Codex, but it should be." He leaned over. In a low and guarded voice, he continued. "However, Delveccio was a boil on society's bottom. The world would have been far better off without him, indeed. When the needs of the many and all that." He shrugged.

Veronica gasped. "How did you get the Judges to agree?" she asked softly.

"Oh, they would have never permitted it. Even back then, the Ancients weren't the most understanding of ... well, souls may be giving Them a little too much credit." He smiled again, but this one was thin and grim. "Actually, this worked out well. The Ancients didn't care about Mundanes, and They didn't consider Echlori living beings, so this matter was wholly outside Their realm. The Mages' Code and the Ancients didn't apply to this case."

At this, she nodded. "I know, but They have dominion over you. You swore fealty to Them, right?"

"I swore to serve Truth and Light. Truth, Light, Love, Life - those are all the same thing, when you think about it. Most of the time, The Ancients are still on the side of Truth and what-have-you, or, at least, don't obscure It. Here, let's just say I saw fit to disagree. After all, I'm an Advocate. My job is to disagree." He chuckled.

"But ... but what if someone saw you work your spell?"

"I didn't have to use magic. The Echlorius and I were simply talking. I merely made a suggestion, nothing more. No magic, no spell." He sat back, teasing her curiosity.

She paused long enough to give him his satisfaction, then gave in. "So, what did you tell it?"

"It took a little arranging, but that's what I do." He shrugged. "Luci's folks borrowed enough to pay the two months' protection money and invited the Don here for Luci's christening. There was much rejoicing, and Delveccio became Luci's godfather." He hummed a few bars of the movie theme.

"And the Echlorius?"

"Let's just say Luci's folks served a unique salad that evening."

She fell back on her seat without even realizing she was halfway out of it. "Oh my Stars!" Her voice was a hoarse whisper.

He smiled back.

A frown clouded her face. "Oh, wait ... I'm sure the Don wouldn't fall for it that easily. I mean, he has to have people checking for poison. And when he died, didn't that start the same turf war you wanted to avoid? And why didn't they blame this place?"

He chuckled. "Who said the Don was dead? Remember, we respect Life. I'd not want another's life on my hands, even someone like him. In fact, there he is, right now." He inclined his head toward the booth in the other corner. There, a man even older than the Advocate commanded the attention of everyone else at the table with a merry anecdote.

Veronica swam in confusion. She gaped at Advocate Tanner.

He leaned over and whispered. "The Echlorius and I struck a bargain. It wanted to kill the Don, and I gave it that satisfaction, and more. However, I made it promise to only take the Don, no one else."

Her eyes grew large. "So that's not really ..."

"Oh, it's him all right. The Don is still alive. His consciousness is still right where it should be, in the Seat of Life." He tapped his forehead above his right eyebrow. "But the Echlorius has it surrounded, trapped. It is controlling the body, not Delveccio. Delveccio is a prisoner. In the end, everyone is happy - Luci and her family are left alone, the Echlorius is free to mingle with people, and the Savellis are avenged." He took in her expression. "Surprised? We're humans, too. Just because we're mages doesn't make us better or above all that."

"But ... but I thought we weren't allowed to take revenge."

"Not with magic. Me, all I did was spend the night here. Sometimes, the right words can do more to help restore balance than all the spells under the Stars."

Veronica wasn't sure why, but she felt reassured. She nodded.

He picked up the menu. "I'd recommend the Chicken Scallopini. Now, tell me about your two friends."


"Veronica, I need to talk to you," Desmond Sinclair's voice was terse, devoid of its usual swagger.

She had no desire to see him, but knew it was her obligation. She unlocked the door. "Come in, Dez. You look tired. Can I get you some tea?"

"No, thanks. Listen, I need to go over what happened that night with Baxter. I covered for you, so you owe me." He leaned in. She could smell the alcohol souring his breath.

"Sure, what do want?" She took a step back.

"You lied to me. You weren't with Baxter that night. First you lied and said you two were ... were -" His eyes bulged, and his fists balled.

Veronica backed against the window. She was a stark silhouette, the afternoon sun giving her body a halo. Her hand picked up a crystal cat, one of many baubles on the window sill. She kept her voice level, "I love Tom. He loves me. But, no, we didn't sleep together."

That calmed him some. He took a step forward. "Then you said he was alone. I believed you. I wanted to believe you."

She squeezed the cat, feeling it feed her all the energy it stored from sitting in the sunlight. The power warmed her palm, tingled up her arm. As it coursed through her, her ebony hair lifted slightly off her shoulders. "He was alone, Dez. What's the matter?"

"He was not!" From across the room, he reached his hand out, grasping at her. "I believed you!" She felt the Amplified Hand wrap invisible fingers around her. "I signed and attested to it..."

She breathed in and readied her counter spell if he didn't stop squeezing. Instead, he willed her to him. She lost one slipper to the carpet.

"Do you know what that means?" His breath made her gag.

She wasn't sure. "That your report was honest?"

"No! That it was the truth, nothing less! I was the Lead Investigator on the incident, and I swore that Baxter was a Bloodmage! Now, a year later, some Advocate comes out with proof that he couldn't be one, and someone else was there who was!"

Veronica turned her head, trying to breathe air not reeking of gin.

"You want to know what I think? I think Baxter was his apprentice!" His eyes flashed; he started to squeeze. "And you! Not only did you interfere with an Investigation, you also aided a rogue mage! A Bloodmage!"

The crystal grew cold. She had absorbed all of its cached energy. "Dez! Stop!" she cried.

"My report was reopened! Do you know what this means? They demoted me, Veronica! I'm just an Investigator now!" He shook her. "Who was it?" His fist clenched. "Tell me!"

Veronica's aura exploded outward, sundering the Hand and her clothing.

Desmond was knocked on his rear. "What in the name of the Nine Hells was that?" he shouted.

"Magic." She panted. "A magic that ... predates this country, probably even this age. If you feared ... Bloodmages, what of the other Trio Colleges? Do you fear Bodymages? Essencemages? In ... the old days of the Trio Colleges, they were all ... all one and the same." As she spoke she backed away from his supine form. Looking down, she guided herself by her shadow back to the window.

"You! You're the Bloodmage! No. You can't be! How'd you learn it? You're the apprentice, not Baxter! Who's your Master?" His hand dug under his shirt and drew out a Judiciary Cluster. The jewel-encrusted pendant blazed in the sunlight.

Her eyes grew large - with that necklace, he had power to spare. She, however, was winded from her last spell.

He made a fist and punched the air at her.

She clapped, but breaking his Amplified Hand all but drained her. The Diffusion she attempted to cast absorbed some of the blow, but not enough. She was thrown back against the very window sill she was inching toward, but hit it so hard the crystals bounced off it and scattered.

He Amplified his hand again, this time dangling her by her wrists with it.

The air chilled her body, reminding her of her state of undress. She blushed and turned her hip, crossing her legs at the knees to afford herself a little modesty.

Desmond wasn't interested in her in that way. His spell lifted her off the ground and carried her as he walked into the apartment's short hallway. As she fought his magical grip, he studied the photos. "Lots of pictures of the same person."

Dani! She blushed even more.

"Who is she?" he demanded, shaking her roughly.

"A ... college roommate."

He flung his arm suddenly, crashing her into the wall.

"That's another lie! This one was this New Year's." He jabbed at a recent photo. "Who is she?"

"We kept in touch after college..."

He Amplified his other hand and pressed her face against the hallway wall. He demanded again, "Who is she? Tell me!"

Just then, Advocate Tanner's words echoed in her mind and gave her an idea. "It's not all the same person," she protested.

His Amplified Hands spun her around. One still held her suspended by her wrists, and the other slapped her, hard. "Are you going to tell me another lie? Do you think I'm that stupid?" he roared.

"Look closely. They're not -"

He slammed her face into one of the photos. He used his other magic-amplified hand to grind her face into it. "Close enough? How about a little closer?" She felt the glass crack under her cheek. At the same time, she felt a surge of power drawn from this new-found reserve. Truth, Light, Love, Life - those are all the same thing. So close to her trove of pictures of her beloved Dani, she suddenly knew why they warmed her every time she looked at them.

The glass grew chilly under her cheek. That picture was drained.

"What are you smiling at?" Desmond shouted. "She's the Bloodmage, isn't she?"

"No, I already told you, I am," she replied coolly. He made to slam her against the wall again, but she stopped it with a whisper. Another word caused the spell holding her wrists to vanish. She dropped to the ground.

Desmond's other Amplified Hand reached for her. She put one of her palms on a collage of photos Dani had made for her, and felt the energy course so strongly through her it stung. Her Amplified Hand crushed his, and trapped his hands to his sides. He struggled, his face reddening.

"Dez, please, please listen. We fear Bloodmages because they are power-mad, but not everyone who knows Blood Magic is that way. Long ago, mages worked Blood Magic and didn't turn evil. The Trio Colleges are about balance, not just power. The College of Essence is about intelligence and knowledge, and the College of Body is about control and willpower. Together, the three balance each other out."

Desmond wasn't listening. Instead, he clenched his eyes and chanted.

Veronica felt the power from his necklace start to pulse and strain her Amplified Hand. She lifted her free hand from the collage long enough to flick a finger at Desmond. From the portrait Veronica just drained, a shard of glass launched at Desmond's neck. It cut the collar of his shirt, but didn't break skin. He flinched, his concentration broken. However, the ornate Judiciary Cluster fell off him, its chain severed neatly.

"There, now will you listen? Please?" she asked, exasperated.

In response, Desmond struggled all the more in her Amplified Hand, straining for the fallen power source. "No, those are just more lies! The Trio Colleges were rivals, and the Bloodmages killed the other Colleges! That was the first Blood Act. That's why they're all forgotten Colleges now. That's why Blood Magic is against the Law."

She fought to remain calm. "What about The Principle of Exchanges, Chains of Power, Omnipresent Web, Flame of Truth and Great Curve? You know, the Codex? Remember, as mages, the Codex is The Law."

"You won't be able to fool me! The Judiciary trained me to recognize all the lies you rogue mages tell!"

Veronica rolled her eyes. In an instant, she relinquished her hold on him and used that free Hand to pull open her window. The other Hand scooped up his pendant and defenestrated it. "You had better go and find it before someone else does."

Desmond glared at her, then looked out the open window, then turned back to her. She took a step toward him. That decided his course. He uttered an oath and raced out her door.


Veronica quickly dressed and packed. She was ready to go. She hated the thought of life undercover, always watching out for the Assembly. Still, that was better than sitting years in prison, unable to perform or research magic. She had a heavy debt to repay, to Tom and the Stars both. In her new life, she would have to work even harder.

Only one thing remained to do, the one thing she has been avoiding these past weeks. She picked up the phone and dialed the number she knew by heart.

"Hello, Dani?"

"Veronica. Why are you calling?"

"Look, uh ... you were right. About us and the mages and ..."


Veronica's throat parched. With effort, she swallowed, then continued. "And ... I'm ready to leave them. To be with you, honey."

"Is that it?"

"No, no. I told them the truth, so Tom will be free soon. Everything is back the way it should be."

Dani didn't speak for a long time.



"Isn't this what you wanted? Isn't that everything you wanted?"

"What about the magic, Veronica?"

"Dani, please. That's part of who I am. You're asking me to give up part of me."

"Fuck you, Veronica Stansbury. If you can't see that what we had was magic, then ... fuck off and die!"

The phone clicked. Veronica redialed. As she listened to it ring endlessly, she saw the only photo of the two of them together, perched on her bedside table. Dani was right. This is magic. She reached for it, wanting to run her fingers over Dani's golden hair.

The picture was cold to her touch. She ran out to the hallway. Every photo was cold.

Without Dani, she didn't want to run. Now, she lost both Dani and the mages. Strangely enough, rather than adding to her burden, she felt a sense of calm infuse her. The truth was out, all of it; she didn't have to lie anymore. Dani was gone; she couldn't live on the run alone. The mages were going to ostracize her; she owed them no debt.

She had only Tom and the Stars to which to answer.

Veronica found her Balance.


She looks at her apartment. It looks like a tornado swept through it. Pictures knocked off the wall, keepsakes spilled on the floor. So many memories; not all of them happy, she muses. Still, the time for reminiscing is no more. She knows her course. As a member of the Assembly of Mages, she knows they'll come for her soon. She's ready.

It's finished. Dez is demoted, and Tom will soon be free. I don't know how I can face him. I should have been there, not him. All this time, it should have been me. I hope this makes up for it. I think so. For the first time since the trial, I feel peace. I don't feel the Stars weighing on me. My life is in balance, finally. Maybe this is the time.

She sets down her pen and places the volume atop its brethren. She runs her finger along the identical black spines. Soon, she thinks. Her wait is short. No more than an hour passes before her doorbell sounds. She opens her apartment door.

"Hello, Trevyan," she greets the Lead Investigator. "Russell, Desmond, Gregorio, Dylan." She nods in greeting at each of the four Investigators flanking Trevyan. "Won't you please come in?"