Footsteps tracked all over the ground floor for the next several minutes. Finally, the basement door opened, and someone walked down the first two steps.
“Hello? Is anyone here?” It was a man’s voice that Sarah didn’t recognize. “I have a message for you.”
She had no intention of accepting anything at face value. There didn’t seem to be any magic left in the house, but she couldn’t know what surprises this person may have brought with him. Eventually, the man finished descending the stairs.
He didn’t look like the attacker who escaped, and she didn’t recognize him from anywhere else. Did this mean there were even more people involved in coming after Thomas?
“Who are you?” Her voice came from the other side of the basement, a simple illusion spell.
The man spun around looking into the dim corners of the empty area. “Who’s there?” He seemed nervous.
“I asked first.” Thomas’s voice was deep and, she hoped, intimidating.
“I was told to bring a message here. Give it to someone named Thomas. Is that you?”
“What’s the message?”
“Where are you?”
“Do you have a message or not?”
“I was told to only give it to Thomas.”
“You can hear me. Do you need to see me, as well?”
“I need to be certain. See your face.”
“Fine.” Sarah revealed Thomas’s visage. “Now. What is the message?”
“He said you are to meet him at the beginning in one week’s time. If you are still alive.”
A bright orange glow began emanating from the man’s chest. His face was twisted in pain and fear, but he said nothing else. A second later, an explosion ripped through the basement before Sarah could do anything else.
* * *
When the air cleared, Sarah looked around. There was little left of the messenger except for small pieces scattered about. Such callous use of a life shocked her, all the more because the sender even suspected Thomas might survive. It had been easy enough to cast the illusion of Thomas across the room, but she had expected an attack not a living bomb.
Whoever was behind these attacks clearly didn’t care who else was hurt in the process. Maybe this messenger wasn’t innocent, but Sarah suspected he hadn’t agreed to be killed. Now she had a week to figure out what to do next.