Preview: The Keenest Blade

April 18, 2013



It’s never a good thing when the FBI comes knocking on your door at eight am on a Sunday morning. The doorbell rang just as my coffee finished percolating.  I poured myself a cup, took a quick sip, and went to the door.  A woman and a man, both wearing dark suits, stood on my front porch.  They flashed their badges at me and I let them into the living room.  I sat on my favorite old chair and took another sip of coffee.  They sat across from me on the futon sofa.

The man said, “I’m Special Agent Olson and this is Special Agent Harding. You are Ms. Genevieve Adair?”

“That’s me.”  I grasped my coffee, feeling cold.

“Do you know why we’re here?” Olson asked.

“I’ve no idea.  Please enlighten me.”

“We’re here because some of the knives you sold were returned to the factory.  As I understand it, that’s quite unusual.”

I’m working my way through Necromancer School as a sales representative for a company called Blades Inc.; makers of some of the best knives in the world.  The only reason a customer would return a knife to the factory would be to have it sharpened.  None of my customers had owned their knives long enough to need sharpening.

“Do you have a list of the customers who sent the knives back?” I asked.

He handed it to me without a word.  I looked over the names and had to bite back a swear word.  All ten customers had gone through my “special treatment.”  I like to think of myself as an ethical person, but school is expensive. I only did this with people who could afford it.  If a rich customer said no, I called up a spirit to possess them and turn their answer to yes.

I handed the list back.  “Why did these customers return their knives?”

“Your customers,” Agent Harding said with a long pause, “sent back the knives because they claimed that they had developed rust spots that couldn’t be removed.”

“That’s impossible.  Our knives are made out of surgical steel, they never rust.”

Olson nodded.  “The technicians at the factory agreed that the red substance couldn’t be rust. They sent it to a police lab for testing. Do you know what was discovered?”

I shook my head.  This Olson fellow had some sense of drama.  He should be an actor.

“It was human blood.  Each knife had a spot of human blood that strangely enough couldn’t be washed away.  I’ve got nothing against magic, but I find it disturbing when the mystical side gets involved with murder.  Can you explain any of this, Miss Adair?”

“How could I know anything about it?” I asked.  “I never handle the knives, except for my sample-set.  I’m afraid you’ve come to a dead end with me.”

“We know what you are, Miss Adair.” Agent Harding opened an envelope she was holding.  “Take a look at these pictures.  These are the victims killed by these knives.  Tell me if you recognize any of them.”

These days, I never see anybody except my professors, fellow students, and clients.  My friends complain that I don’t like them anymore.   I took the pictures from her and flipped through them quickly, not wanting to linger.  It may seem strange, a squeamish necromancer, but I only deal with the spirits of the dead.  I don’t go around digging up corpses and making zombies.

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