Ritual Space

By: Viola Grace

The tall, blonde man paused in surprise when she turned. “Wow, that is uncanny.”

“The hair colour is new. It happened this morning. The family resemblance of my features has been there all along.”

He shook his head and extended his hand. “I am Officer Welling. Thank you for coming.”

“The property was calling me, so I didn’t really have a choice.”

“If you will come with me, we will leave and I can escort you to our offices while we wait for the coroner to prepare your aunt for identification.”

Adrea sighed. “I can identify her now. She has white hair, blue eyes and stab wounds here, here and here.” She touched the places on her torso that had burned before she passed out.

She shook her head. “Oh, and I can’t go with you yet. I have to go to the centre of the space and let it know that I am here.”

“I am afraid that this entire area is a crime scene. You can’t go anywhere.” He went from friendly to stern.

She wanted to fight him, but she settled for asking. “Can I touch the outside of the wall?”

He frowned. “I don’t see why not.”

At least there was that. Neadra had referred to it as locking the door. If anything was trying to get out of Ritual Space, marking the wall with her blood should keep it in, even without the more involved ritual at the centre of the space.

They walked past the murmuring officers, and Welling spoke to them softly. She stepped through the hole a moment before they followed her, and when they were outside, the hole closed.

She turned away from the mages and walked down the wall, trailing her fingers along until she felt the slight snag into her skin that drew blood.

She whispered to the wall, “Keep tight against those who would use you or those who would escape.”

A ripple went through the wall and moved outward until the stone appeared to buckle and reshape.

Welling ran up to her. “What did you do?”

She smiled and sucked her finger. “I locked the door. When you come back or need to investigate, bring me with you, and I will open it up.”

“Miss Morrigan, you have just tampered with a crime scene. I am going to have to put you under arrest.”

She glanced at her bike, and it glowed against the wall. It was protected.

“Fine.” She turned her back, and he put her in cuffs.

Adrea looked at Ritual Space as long as she could. She settled back in her seat and watched as they drove past the fields of the countryside with the stretch of the wall on her left.

Near a copse of trees, she felt something unpleasant. The officer driving the vehicle shouted, and they swerved from side to side. Adrea saw the flash of green scales and one huge golden eye before they skidded to a halt.

She looked around, and there was no sign of the beast, but she could feel it out there.

She wasn’t a mage and didn’t even like magic, but she could feel the pulse of the beast in the woods. “What the hell?”

“I am sorry, Miss. I don’t know what that was.”

Her driver got himself together and drove her to the Mage Guild headquarters, taking her by the arm as he helped her out of the SUV and down the sidewalk to the building.

Her hands were still cuffed behind her back, but the officer with her kept her upright. There was a surreal feeling to being taken into custody on the day that her aunt died.

It was so weird. She was operating completely on automatic. Her mind was scrabbling around trying to understand what was going on, but her body was sure of what it did and said.

Adrea heard herself say, “I need to speak with the commanding officer on duty.”

“I need to book you in first.”

“Trust me. Tell him that the inheritor of Ritual Space is here and I am not going anywhere until my lawyer arrives. It should be within the hour if he isn’t here already.”

They entered the sheltered hall, and she felt the passive wards pressing against her skin.

“You seem pretty sure that he is coming. I didn’t see or hear you make a call.”

“He would have been notified when my aunt died. From there, this would be his next stop.”

The officer with her blinked, shackled her to a bench and went to speak to the desk sergeant. He glanced back at her several times, but when a familiar voice spoke from her left, she turned with a smile.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Grant.”

The gargoyle with the suit and briefcase nodded. “Ms. Morrigan. You are all grown up; I am surprised you remember me.”

She grinned. “You make an impression. I would shake your hand but…” she lifted her hands, and the cuffs clanked against the wood.

“Of course. I will get that taken care of right away. Your aunt left very strict instructions as to what I was to do for you. You will be set right in a few minutes.”

Mr. Grant went to the desk sergeant, and the human straightened as the gargoyle rapped out information in no-nonsense tones.

A moment later, the sergeant was calling the captain.

When the captain emerged, he was the poster boy for the Mage Guild. Mr. Grant spoke quietly to him, and suddenly, an officer was undoing her handcuffs.

She got to her feet, and the captain ushered her and her lawyer into the offices.

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