Chapter 14: The Collector
“What do you mean, she’s gone?” the angry voice shouted.
There was a pause. The tension emanating from the room caused goosebumps to raise the hair on the man’s arms. Not to mention the hallway was carpeted in a red, ugly fabric. Motels this sketchy were never his favorite.
It was New Year’s Eve. The man had hoped the motel would be empty, seeing as how the rest of the city was clogging up the two night clubs down the street. He had wanted to have some peace and quiet. Time to think. But this woman's voice was the loudest thing here and it captured his attention easily.
“Dad, this doesn’t make any sense and you know it,” the woman continued.
Dan wanted to hear more. Maybe he’d get a good lead from it. Not that he needed one right now; he was already on a case. But the woman’s footsteps were nearing the door---she’d been pacing when he stumbled upon her conversation---and he quietly backed away. Well, as quiet as he could in his composite-toe boots.
“She can’t have just vanished!” Her voice echoed down the hall. The door handle turned.
Dan skirted around the corner just as her door swung open. He pressed his back to the floral-pattern wallpaper.
“I’ll call the guys,” she said. “They’ll know what to do.”
He wasn’t going to stick around any longer. There wasn’t a lead here. Dan muttered another spell and the hall around him disappeared. Unaware of the motel anymore, he didn’t realize that his portal had sparked the wallpaper on the wall next to him. The woman he’d eavesdropped on heard his departure, and walked towards his former hiding place. She patted out the small flame with the palm of her hand. A frown shadowed her face.
The face that Dan would eventually come to realize looked exactly the same as one he’d seen in the market not hours before.
The Collector wiped his hands on his jeans. He was getting better at his transportation spells. That was nice. They hadn’t originally been too difficult but any spell that was hard for him was a welcome challenge. He’d keep doing them until he got them right.
At least this time he’d transported himself in the right place.
The house was huge. In all honesty, he thought it was pretty sweet. If he could buy a house like that someday, he’d be golden. It had the turret he’d use for his spell room, the garden he could do without but it was a nice touch, the view was awesome, and there was an iron fence around the yard to keep the neighbors away. Perfect.
All he had to do now was find the relic. Did anyone live there?
He stood on his toes to peer through the fence. There wasn’t a car in the driveway and the lights were out. It was broad daylight. Maybe they were in the basement. Was there a basement?
Okay, focus. You’re here for one thing. Don’t go on a tangent now.
“That stonework is awesome.”
Dan walked up to the Jacobs’ house and touched the rough tan stone lightly. He wouldn’t be seen. He was warded with enough spells to basically be invisible. It was perfect. He had strolled down the street without so much as a glance his way. No one spoke to him, either. That was best. Small talk wasn’t his forte and he knew people wouldn’t be interested in what he was after, anyway.
Now...would this be locked?
Dan muttered a few words in Latin under his breath. A light blue glow shown through the keyhole next to him. The door opened silently.
Instantly, a tingling shot through his right arm. There were wards put up. A ton of them. And they were good. But his were better, much better. It was the only reason he was still thinking clearly. If he hadn’t been warded...
Dan stepped forward into the living room. He closed the door behind him. Muttering as he went, his eyes swept the rooms he passed. His detection spell was doing its job, but it seemed as though the relic wasn’t on the first floor. That was too bad. He looked behind him; his boots left dusty prints on the carpet.
He trudged up the stairs to his right. When his boot hit the top step he froze. Another tingling had tightened his left arm this time. The relic was close. He liked to have physical responses to his spells. Those were the most trustworthy. There was something else, though. The wards on the house...
Dan climbed the last step and sat down on the small bench at the corner of the hall. He pulled his journal from his sling bag and opened it on his lap. These wards on the house were just like the wards from another one of his hunts. Those messed with people’s memories too. Its why he couldn’t remember the detail he had been trying to remember for hours now.
It wasn’t even that important, really. All he had to go on was a face. The brass knuckles he was after were warded---basically everything he ever wanted to find was warded one way or another---and he knew he’d need help. That was the snag; he hadn’t wanted to ask anyone. Who did he know that was into the same thing he was, anyway? Acquiring relics was a risky business. A partner would have to have a certain flair, a certain...knack, to not just put up with him, but to progress at the same rate as he could. But would she know him, if he couldn't remember her?
Would she come to this house and help him?
Dan shook his head. He snapped his journal shut. Now was not the time to get distracted. He could do this on his own. He had to find that relic before the Jacobs family came back.