Ravens Roost bookstore was closed that day, as it usually was when storms rolled through, but Josefine let herself in with the key shed been given a long time ago for just such occasions. She locked the door again behind her before passing the shelves overstuffed with books to climb the stairs up into the living space above the shop. The floors and walls were painted with various seals and sigils hed once tried to explain to Josefine, though she didn quite understand most of it even as she remembered. Then she went up the roof access and found herself inside a greenhouse built with runes in the metal frame and magic in the glass panes. Emilius Solomon sat on a bench a few feet away, among the healthy plants growing on the tables that filled the space.

”Solomon. ” Emil tore his blue eyes away from the storm to meet her gaze.

The eyes, they say, are the windows to the soul.

This held especially true for those with talents in divination magics—those like Emil. The talent made him different from any other in Josefines small circle of those she might, on a good day, call friends; while others might glimpse Wolf in her eyes and know something was off about her on instinct alone, Emil could look inside and see Wolf and know there really was something inhuman living in her head.

He still didn hold her gaze for long, not since hed first seen the Monster in her head, a void black lupine creature with too many eyes and a too-wide curling mouth filled with too many teeth like razors; hed heard Wolf laugh once and thatd been enough for him.

He didn question Josefines methods for keeping the Monster quiet either, not when she was so very careful and methodical about who she picked; Emil grew up in post-Great War Germany where things were desperate and his family valued strength of magic over rights or ethics.

His grandfather had instilled in him from a very early age that some people, the world is simply better off without and Emil had learned that lesson well even if his criteria differed from what hed been taught.

”Solomon. ” He repeated, a soft German accent lilting over his words, ”this is about work then? ” Josefine shrugged.

”Sort of? ” She paused, debating, ”Im doing a favor for someone. ” Emil raised an eyebrow at that but didn question it.

”What brings you to me? ” Josefine moved to sit beside him on the bench, taking note of the static field coming off of him at the moment; storms made his magic a little haywire whenever they passed through and she could feel it coming off him in waves.

”Demon, I think, ” she flashed a grim smile, ”its not my area of expertise so I thought Id come see you. ” Emil exhaled through his teeth.

”You sure? ”

”Almost certain. ”

”Describe it. ” Josefine thought back on what shed heard that night at Batess and shivered.

”I only saw a shadow, but I heard it scratching at the underside of the bed and whispering… sweet nothings, ” the way she said it made it clear the whispers hadn been sweet at all. He rubbed at the scruff along his jaw as he thought it over.

”Id have to check my books to be certain, but it sounds like a demon of obsession. ” He said after a moment.

”Do you know how to get rid of it? ”

”Break the contract, ” he paused, flexing his fingers as lightning laced overhead and static crackled across his scarred hands, ”whoever summoned it will have a mark of some kind. ” A dry laugh escaped Emils lips, ”The problem with demons is everyone learns how to summon them, they don learn how to banish them and demons don listen to anyone for long. ” Josefine made a note in her little notepad about the mark.

”And in the meantime? Is there a way to keep it away from her while I look for whoever summoned it? ” She paused, thinking back on some of the things shed read recently, ”Would salt work? Or sage? ” A grin split across Emils face as he glanced in her direction again, waiting while thunder and lightning crashed overhead before he replied.

”Youve been studying, ” the delight was clear in his voice, ”how did that go over at work? ” Josefines lips pressed into a thin line.

”It didn , I had a… falling out with my supervisor. ”

”A falling out? ” He sounded like he didn quite believe her.

”He told me to make him some coffee, ” she shrugged, ”so I told him to breeze off. ” Emil started laughing then, taking a moment before itd died down enough he could reply.

”Somehow, that doesn surprise me. ” He didn question her further. ”Your… client is staying where? ”

”Neirins room, ” Josefine raked her fingers through her hair, ”well, I guess its Batess room at the moment. ”

”Ill come by later and set up protection for her room, that should keep it away from her long enough for you to figure out who summoned it. ”

”Thank you, ” she smiled briefly, ”I know you don like coming out during storms. ” Emil waved her off as she stood to leave.


Eugene Żukowski worked as a manager at Epsom Shipping last Josefine had heard from Bates, so her next stop of the day was their headquarters near the docks to get his side of the story on their breakup. She stopped at a door marked Żukowski and raised a fist to knock when the woman at the desk nearby called out to her.

”Are you here to see Mr. Żukowski? ” Josefine lowered her hand.

”Yes, I don have an appointment, but its an important matter, ” she trailed off as the secretary waved dismissively at the thought.

e not so busy we need appointments, its just that Mr. Żukowski is out of town on business at the moment. ” A frown flickered across Josefines lips.

”How long has he been gone? ” The woman hummed in thought before reaching out to flip back through the event planner at the corner of her desk.

”A few weeks now it looks like. Its taken longer than it usually does this time, but then he was in a pretty foul mood before he left. ” Josefine approached the desk.

”Do you have any idea why? ”

”Well, ” the woman leaned forward and glanced around for anyone listening in, ”the rumor is his girl left him right when he proposed. ” Josefine nodded slightly; if the office gossip was right, then Bates had probably downplayed their breakup.

”Thank you, ” Josefine scribbled out her name and phone number on a page in her notepad and tore it out to pass over, ”Would you please have Żukowski contact me once hes back in town? ” The secretary scanned over the page and tucked it into the event planner.


Finnén MacNéill was Josefines next stop of the day. It took some asking around in the right circles but eventually, someone was able to point the way for her. Plutos was one of the Irishs places, a speakeasy underneath Plutos Hardware and Accessories where the Accessories referred to the liquor. Josefine approached the underground bar as if she belonged, and maybe part of her did considering how much time shed spent growing up working back rooms at places just like it.

”Little early, but what can I getcha? ” The bartender barely looked up from wiping glasses down before open when she leaned on the glossy wood.

”Im looking for Uncle Finn. ” That got his attention but based on the confusion twisted across his face, not the way Josefine had intended.

”You lost your uncle here? Sorry lass, I cannae help you with that one. ” She nodded slowly as she realized where the problem lay.

”His name is Finnén MacNéill, ” she pressed the matter despite the wary look he wore now, ”Im in need of a locksmith, see? ”

”I thought I told you to call me Uncle Finn. ” Josefine turned at the voice just in time for Finnén MacNéill—a solid man with a rough goatee—to sweep her up into a tight hug. ”Hows my favorite niece doing? ” The brogue was thick in his accent and his voice warm—this, shes been told, is what family is meant to feel like, so she at least managed a believable laugh and a soft smile.

”I thought I was your only niece, ” there was a teasing lilt to her words as he set her back on her feet and she earned a hearty laugh.

”Manhattans in today, did you want to come say hello? ”

”No, Im here on business Im afraid. I heard you changed the lock for one Margaret Bates a couple of weeks ago, wanted to come and thank you for helping out a friend of mine. ” Uncle Finn raised an eyebrow at the words; hed known Josefine since she was a kid—he probably knew she wasn just there to say thanks and she didn exactly have much in the way of friends.

e here about the spare, aren you? ” she nodded slightly and he sighed, shaking his head, but the smile never left his face, ”Aight little lass, you know me too well. Ill get your friends key for you. ”

”Thank you very much. ”

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