More than a mage, Aisha considered herself a procurer. Traveling the world searching for things people wanted interested her much more than researching in a lab ever did. Most of her clients were mages, since nonmages rarely had anything to offer her. Information, however, was always a welcome currency, if it was the right sort.
It wasn’t easy, but she had finally tracked down the person she’d been looking for. One of her old suppliers had provided her with the identity of the mage and location of his house. The supplier hadn’t been in touch with the man for several years, so it was possible he had moved. The fact that he had lost touch was the only reason the supplier was willing to help her at all.
While shifting through shadows was useful in her work, she often preferred trying to do things straightforwardly. In this case, there was no benefit to sneaking around, so she simply knocked on the door.
The man who answered did not fit the description she had been given, but that didn’t mean much when it came to mages.
The man grimaced. “No. Stephen.”
“Is Jonathan here?”
“You better come in.”
* * *
Days later, Aisha returned to the cabin she and Julia shared. As expected, Julia wasn’t there, but from here she could take a door leading to Julia’s rooms in her house. Unaware she’d been holding her breath, she sighed in relief when she saw that the portal was still open and no new barrier had been erected.
“I’m back,” she yelled as she stepped through.
Julia was in her workroom, studying some notes on her desk. She didn’t look up when Aisha walked in. “Do you know how much power it takes to . . .”
Aisha lifted Julia’s chin and gave her a long kiss on the lips. She felt Julia return the affection.
“I’ve missed you, too,” Julia said when the moment ended. “What happened?”
Aisha sat in a chair next to the desk. “I found the time mage that had provided the temporal infused quartz all those years ago.”
“No, it isn’t. He’s dead.”
“Yes, but there’s more.”
“Good news?” Julia’s question sounded hopeful, but the look on her face said she knew better.
“No. I tried tracking down several other temporal mages. At least five. They had all died within the last ten years. To be more accurate, they’d all been killed.”
“Six? That can’t be coincidence, can it?”
“With everything both of us have seen, can you think of any evidence that coincidence exists?”
“Do we know who killed them?”
“We know they were killed by magic, but whoever did it was never caught.” Mages handled such matters by themselves, not wanting to involve the law enforcement of nonmages. “Because the killings were spread out, in both time and space, no one seems to have considered them connected. I don’t even know if was one person or multiple people. But like I said, I don’t believe in coincidence.”
“And now Thomas has been attacked by unknown mages. For the second time.”
“That’s why I think all of these have to be connected somehow.”
“Who is doing this? And why?”
“I don’t know yet. But we will figure it out. Promise.” Aisha leaned forward and kissed Julia once more.