Chapter 4: Investigation

The ride to the police station was uneventful; people getting back to the day to day business of their lives were the highlights alongside the absolute silence from either Marrik or the arresting officer. As Marrik accompanied the armored officer through the station he noticed a small swarm of sprites hovering overhead and paused. "What's going on here, protest?"

"Nah, Chief wants to try seeing how they'd do as message runners for dispatch. They're small, fast, can get into and out of anywhere they're invited, and if the post office is going to dump a bunch of trained employees, might as well see if we can streamline things here with them."

As they continued through to the back rooms made expressly for taking statements Marrik allowed himself a small smile. "How many do you think you'll get to hire in? Sparks sounded pretty worried and she's been pretty solid."

The officer held the door with a gauntlet covered hand and motioned him to step through. "Yea I know how it goes. We're prioritizing those that're already paired off with officers though so there's going to be more that we can take in." When the officer saw Marrik sit they removed their helmet, revealing a feminine face and vibrant red hair tied in a bun. "I am Samantha Winter, I will be the one to take your statement." She pointed to a mirror running the length of the wall to the left of the door. "We've got people taking down your statements on the other side of the glass, and you may have a public defender or other attorney present before you make any further statements. Do you understand?"

This caused a moment of pause for Marrik as he considered what he had just been told. Then he nodded, "I understand and wave my right to council for the duration of this session." Then he made a small gesture towards Officer Winter.

"I had seen most of your fight with the zombie, and we have the mail-sprite Sparks in for questioning." She paused when she saw the look on Marrik's face before she smiled in what she hoped was a reassuring manner. "Don't worry, she's fine. We'd have most of the sprites working with us fly out if they thought we treated her anything like the decima novels say we do." When he nodded she resumed, "We have an account of the actual skirmish, and can trace the zombie's timeline from your shop all the way back to its point of origin."

"Alright?" Marrik said questioningly. "I'm guessing you want my relationship with the deceased, the last time I was in the area, and the like?"

"We also want your Affinity," Officer Winter added.

"Well," Marrik closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His heart sped up as the bottom dropped out of his stomach. There was a glance to the mirrored segment of wall, "You guys getting all this?" When he looked back to Officer Winter she motioned for him to continue. "Let's get the big one out of the way. My affinity is Necromancy. Sparks can confirm this, since you already have her in for questioning. I suppose this puts me high on your suspect list."

"It does, and you do realize you were not compelled to answer that question, correct?" Officer Winter asked.

"I do, but at the same time, "Marrik's voice had a forced formality to it as he paced about the room. "If I refused, that would cast more suspicion on me. So while I wouldn't be an official suspect, you'd go hounding through any excuse justifiable or otherwise to get at the why." He then chuckled in spite of the situation. "Then you'd find the books on necromancy in my short term storage room I intended on bringing this way by week's end when doing my major errends and..." The formality left his voice as he finished his explaination, "yea that'd be all she wrote with me, my business would tank because association would hurt whoever minded the place while I'm in lockup, and whoever did this would still be out there."

"I.... see." Officer Winter frowned as she took that in. There was further pause as she tilted her head to one side as if listening to an unheard voice. "I will travel with you to your store to retrieve these books now. Easier than waiting on a warrant and those will be the only items I'll be able to take."

"Might as well." Marrik conceded as he sat there. "You've got me on record so probable cause would already exist if you wanted to go full bore flame and sword on my entire life." Given he genuinely believed his life as he had lived it had effectively ended in that moment Marrik managed to sound fairly calm about the matter.

A second officer walked in with a heavy pair of hand covering gauntlets held together with a thick metal bar. "Place your hands in here please." When Marrik did so he turned a key several times before handing it to Officer Winter. "Your cooperation is appreciated." The man's voice was carefully neutral when he addressed Marrik before holding the door open as Officer Winter gestured for Marrik to exit.

While they walked back to the same wagon he arrived on Marrik wiggled his fingers within the immobile gauntlets Marrik nodded in approval. "I'm sure someone a lot more talented than me could figure a way to magic without hands or larger arm motions, but yea." He then relaxed, or at least did the best he could to relax as his restraints allowed, "these are a pretty good set of restraints."

"I know," Officer Winter helped Marrik into the passenger side of the wagon before taking the reigns. "Off the record." She said as the wagon lurched into motion. "I'm well aware you didn't do it. Anyone capable of raising a zombie, even if they lost control, wouldn't have let one get as close as you did. Too much risk of infection."

"You're telling me," Marrik said while he tried to find a comfortable way to hold his arms. "I guess that's why I'm not in chained up in a cell?"

Officer Winter shrugged, "Less of a hassle talking to you up here." There was a a pause as she again seemed to listen to some unheard voice. "I will want to see where you practiced last night after acquiring these books." There was a smirk on her face at Marrik's mix of surprise and confusion. "Oh come on, you get new toy that actually lines up with your natural affinity and you're not going to take it for a test spin? Brother Please. Look who you're talking to and say I'm lying."

Marrik's head bowed and shook, "I'd be lying if I said you hadn't called it, but it was like stuff right after basic energy shifting. The sort of thing they teach in secondary. It wouldn't have been enough to even accidentally raise a corpse."

"True," Officer Winter's face grew still as she considered where they were headed, where the body had to have walked from. "On the other hand if someone else raised one, freaked out that it actually was going to work, and ran before giving it any instructions, you practicing might have been enough to act as a beacon to draw it."

When the cart stopped Marrik waited for Winter to help him out before he spoke. "But it started walking on instead of trying to enter. My practice area and study are in the basement." He blinked when he felt his restraints loosen before looking at Winter questioningly.

"This mess isn't you're doing, and you saved people by holding its attention while your mail sprite flagged me down. I'll have to put the restraints back on, but for the time I'm drafting you as help."

"Oh." Marrik said as he went for the short term storage room. Winter watched him open a floor safe and pull out three midnight blue bound books. "Would it help if you saw my work area? It's in the basement so I don't know how you would get there without either leaving me unattended or-"

"Can you kill the 'I know how this should play out so I'm going to needle you about it' routine, please?" Winter let Marrik show her to the trap door to the building's basement. Once she was down she motioned him to follow. "Glowstone lamps? Huh."

"One of the perks of dealing in acquisitions fresh off the pack mule instead of out of at catalog." Marrik explained before walking to where the target stands had been set up the night before. "This is where I'd been practicing. I was seated about where you are right now," He gestured to the chair Winter was standing just in front of, "And I was on page...." A thoughtful moment, "Twenty on the topmost book."

There were page flips, first to the table of contents, and then to the page in question. "Entropy Projection." Winter read, "For use in self defense or utility situations only."

A shrug, "Part of where I was hung up was comparing the third set of micro-motions with the same step in the basic kinetic projection spell." He started to extend his magic out before pausing to look at the officer.

"Go ahead." Winter watched as Marrik pulled a book from the shelf and caused it to float towards her. "Thank you." She flipped through til she found the correct page. "Let me guess, the wording on how this is presented instructing you to never experiment?" When Marrik nodded she tossed the book at him. "Basic text books. You want your students to not try experimenting too soon."

"Right, right." Marrik said as he caught the generalist book and sent it back to its place on the book case. He watched as Winter skimmed not just the book he had gotten to, but also the pair he hadn't before tossing one towards him.

"You said books." She explained while tucking the two books away. "I will have to confiscate these, but you will have tonight to read that one and learn everything you can from it before I return to get you in the morning. Have your mail sprite also read."

An eyebrow raise from Marrik as he sent the book he had been tossed onto the book shelf.

"You know we go by a live and let live so long as you don't do icky things policy." Winter waited until they were both out of the basement before continuing. "For now you're free to go do as you like so long as you stay in town. If word were to get out about what you are..." She frowned and shook her head. "Sorry, that sounded too much like a threat. If it comes down to it I'd rather cut your head off in person rather than a pack of idiots go flame and pitchfork and burn half the town down. You?"

A grim nod from Marrik before his eye wandered along the dull plate metal curass the officer tried covering with a guard issue coat. "That armor, it's a bloodlines relic right?" Marrik asked.

Winter gave a small smile similiar to a teacher pleased at an observant student, before handing him a business card. "I'll send Sparks to stay with you tonight. She'll know how to use the imprint on that card to find me." She then looked about the store and, "I heard you got a pair of Dreasdens in."

At that he blinked. Stared. And started laughing. "After all that, you... Fine. Fine give me a minute." The box the pair of rods were kept in were once again brought out of storage and opened for the officer to see. "Please tell me you're not going to just take the things and claim some kind of probable cause or other reason to keep them."

"Light no." Winter chuckled, "I get why you'd be worried, but I'm not one of those corrupt manure heaps you keep reading about from Haven or even a few of the others here." She said as she held a gauntlet covered hand an inch over the pair of artifacts. "What I'm curious about is why you didn't use them."

"Lack of training?" Marrik offered. "Fear of torching the entire block?" There was a chuckle as he looked from the pair of artifacts to the officer as she slowly pulled her hand away from the box.

Winter put the lid down and slid the box back to Marrik. "Fair enough, but remember what I said. I'll be back tomorrow for that book."

He gave a thumbs up, causing Winter to leave him alone in his store. Slowly realization sank in that a literal thing out of his nightmares had happened, he was still a free man, and the police were wanting his help instead of his head.

By the time sparks returned she saw Marrik in the back room laughing to the point of tears. "Look. I know you're feeling really good about yourself for not being in a cell, or in irons, but we do kinda have work to do."

It took time for Marrik to calm down and catch his breath enough to speak. "Yea, see if Cass can come over. She'll give me grief, but she's good for catching things I can't, and keeping me on task." He started to get back to his feet and head for the door. "I'm going to see if Bombay's has any fresh tea in. You want anything?"




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