He knew the room was empty. He’d registered the dirty cream walls and scuffed floorboards. There wasn’t even dust. Disgusted, he’d closed the door and waited. Now this petite spitfire of an investigator had turned up and wanted in. Didn’t they trust him? Eloquent in his silence, he opened the door for her.
‘Hah,’ she said. ‘No dust! Too clean. What are they hiding?’
He cursed inwardly. How could he have missed that? He’d noticed the lack of dust, but hadn’t completed the analysis. Yet he’d been taught him never to take anything at face value. He cleared his throat.
‘Uh, maybe we should look for some kind of ‘Ignore Me’ spell?’
‘I’m already ahead of you, boy! This room reeks of spell craft. I’m gonna read it but I need you outside. Go guard the door.’
Alarm bells clanged in his head as the door shut behind him. He’d never been asked to leave a room while someone else read it. The spells set on this room must be more complex than he’d imagined. But then, his lack of imagination was why he was still stuck securing crime scenes, while other less powerful wizards got to do the exciting stuff. He remembered his tutors at the wizard school.
‘No imagination!’ said one.
‘Lacks creativity!’ said another.
He remembered his first teacher telling him to hide his powers so that he wouldn’t be sent away.
‘Squash your creativity into a tight corner of your mind and pretend it doesn’t exist.’
But someone else had noticed and he was sent away. Of course, by then he had got used to squashing his creativity.
Not this time, he thought and opened the door. Once again, the room was empty. Maybe the investigator was in trouble and he should try to rescue her before the room claimed any more victims. Wait, what did he just think? The room wasn’t sentient, was it? This whole scene was probably another setup by the enemy. But what if it wasn’t the enemy? Something tickled in his head. He shook his head irritably. Not now! He didn’t need his random ‘something’s not quite right’ abilities coming back now. Then out of the corner of his eye he saw it. He turned and stared straight at what he thought he’d seen. Yes! That wasn’t there before, when he’d first come into the room. Maybe the room liked him or something. Or maybe it was trying to entrap him and send him to wherever it had sent the investigator.
‘What do you want with me?’ he asked plaintively. ‘I’m not a very creative wizard. Why do you keep trying to nudge me into doing stuff that I’m not cleared to do?’
He’d swear the room winked at him.
OK then. The room wanted him to find the investigator. So he’d better get creative. He stepped further into the room and closed the door. He cast his Read spell. The traces of spells cast by other wizards glowed eerily against the dull backdrop. He could see the investigator’s vibrant cobalt Read spell. Cobalt, he mused, yes he should have expected that, since she was so vibrant in her physical state. There were also the remains of a sickly yellow spell twisted in and around a fuchsia pink one. What the hell did that do? He tweaked one end of the pink spell and it started to unravel. Ah, OK, that was someone’s Defend spell. It can’t have been very effective if it unravelled that easily. That might make the yellow one an Attack spell, so he should leave that alone. Just then the pink spell finished unravelling, coiling itself into a neat ball and slipping into his pocket.
With the pink Defend spell out of the way, the yellow Attack spell seemed to have gained a new lease of life and it prowled around the room questing for something to attack. This was a really nasty spell with little barbs that ran its length. It lunged at his eyes and he ducked almost reflexively. It missed. He hastily launched a robust Defend spell of his own to cage the Attack spell, enabling him to read the rest of the room at his leisure. At least three other wizards had been in the room apart from him and the investigator. Two of them fought, while the third… what had the third been up to while the other two played their dominance games? Traces of a feathery green spell lingered, but he did not know what it did.
‘What was the third one up to, eh?’ he asked aloud. ‘Why let someone else fight your battles?’
He cast a Show Me spell to get the room to rerun the last few minutes before he arrived.
The room sighed, projecting a seeming onto the wall. He watched closely. While the two fought, the third wizard constructed the delicate green spell to transport her and the box she carried out of the room. The pink defender fought to prevent the attacker from following, or from snatching the box. The Transport spell had been effective; the room showed him the wizard and her box disappearing, while the other two continued to fight.
‘So where are they now, eh? There are no traces of any other transport spells, so why aren’t they all still here?’
The seeming stopped.
He paused thinking hard before casting another spell. His Reveal spell flashed around the inside of the room. Faintly limned with the purple of his spell, the investigator stood to one side of the door, a broad grin on her face. Trussed in the corner, the yellow attacker glowered, the pink defender standing over him. All were silent and unmoving. He cast a Release spell and the pink defender crooked her finger. Her spell popped out of his pocket and jumped into her hand. The investigator laughed, saying,
‘That’ll do boy. That’ll do nicely! No more securing crime scenes for you. You’re on my team now.’