Ghost of the Missing - part 1
From the research notes of Keredin
Ten days after Beit Ha-Am bombing, Light cycle day 3, 12:00, blue day - Rendamar
I set up my artifacts, two on tripods at opposite sides of the room and the last I held, stood opposite the table, as instructed, and brought up the most recent ghost. This was my own, of course, glowing more brightly than most ghosts because I’m a nibey and with lots of purple splodges in addition to the normal pale green, because I’m a mage. I always find it creepy to see my own ghost although I know better than most people that ghosts are just images of past events, often not even of dead people.
The room was small with grey walls and floor and a white ceiling with a single light. The only item of furniture was a narrow, trestle table that took up most the length of the room on the right (as you enter through the door) wall. There were a number of items on the table: books, clothing including two harnesses and a bra, bottles, toys, knives, jewelry, broken devices, a brick, a couple of rocks and a dead gull. A number of these had been signed or partly melted.
I tuned to the previous ghost, which appeared in front of me beside the table, turned sideways to me but with the head turned away. The police had been careful not to let me know this person’s sex but the sari, pulled in tightly in the middle by a harness, narrow waist, wide hips and large breasts made it obvious. She had shoulder-length, curly hair. I couldn’t determine the race due to the unnatural coloring and I couldn’t see her face. She had many purple splodges. The most shocking thing was that she glowed much brighter than any ghost I’d seen before. An anavah? They’re very rare and I’d never seen a ghost of one before and only about five in the flesh; the Vineyard magis, her grandmother and a couple of students who’d stayed in Mage Hall but I think they were Winemakers and I’d never got to know them. I really hoped this woman was only tenuously linked to the case.
She walked along the table, looking at the objects on it. About three quarters of the way, she turned to face the table and took something from her pocket which was very purple, I’m pretty sure it was a magic detector. She held this up to her eyes and looked at the things on the table with it. Then she shrugged, put the purple item away, turned, looked towards the door with her arms held out with the hands palm up and walked out the room. This meant I didn’t get a good look at her face but I did get her signature. I turned my artifacts off, put on a magic detector and examined the things on the table. There was a little magic residue but none were artifacts. I did notice that one of the books was in Semic and the rest in Faharni.
“That’s just random junk,” said the local cop, who was leaning against the side of the doorway. “We told your person we thought we’d found something that belonged to them and needed them to identify it to get them in this room. Of course they said they didn’t recognize anything and didn’t think most of it was important to anybody.”
“You do realize I know it’s a woman now,” I said.
We’d landed in a noisy place: continuous low rumbling, water splashing, birds squawking, banging, machines buzzing, people talking in northern plains accentes. There’d been a distinct smell of fish. I’d felt strangely euphoric suggesting I was now at a much lower altitude. I was fairly sure this was Rendamar, not a good place for a half-quippa Trulist. Fortunately the blindfold had hidden my narrow, slanted, blue eyes.
I’d been led into a building and down a flight of steps. I’d been asked to remove the blindfold. We were in a narrow corridor with grey painted walls. Lots of furniture, books, filing cabinets, computer hardware and racks of police uniforms were stacked along one side, leaving little space to get through.
“Is this where the ghost is?” Drevmis had shouted.
“Down here!” a man with a southern plains accent had shouted. “I hope your mage isn’t fat!”
Fortunately I wasn’t but it had still been rather a squeeze. We’d got to a door with a uniformed officer standing by it. The insignia on his uniform had been covered, presumably to hide the location but I’d thought it was fairly obvious.
“Nobody’s been in here since that person you’re interested in,” the local cop had said.
“Good, now just go in there,” Drevmis had said, pushing the door open.
“Should stand in the middle of the wall opposite the table,” the local cop had said.
“Try not to look at the face,” Drevmis had said.
Now I had the signature, I packed up my artifacts, was blindfolded again and taken back to the aircraft.
9:00, blue day - The University
Obviously I was nervous as two police detectives took me from the university into a small aircraft and blindfolded me as we took off. This was the first time I was to use my Ghost Magic in a real investigation. Unfortunately, they didn’t want me to use it the way I’d intended. I’d always thought I’d go to a crime scene, or the scene of an event thought to be connected to a crime, and reveal the ghosts to show what had really happened. These detectives were deliberately vague about the details of their case to make it harder for me to fake evidence. I was OK with that. They’d told me a man had disappeared and they thought he’d been murdered but were unable to find the body or where the murder had taken place. They did have the last location where he was known to have been and wanted me to follow his ghost from there, presumably to the scene of his murder. I couldn’t just set the artifacts for a particular date, they didn’t work like that. I needed a signature (a pattern by which my artifacts could recognize the right ghost) of somebody who’d been there at the time and seldom if ever subsequently. The victim had only been there once but I didn’t have his signature. I can get a signature from a ghost but the police didn’t know of a location where it would be easy to find the victim’s ghost. This rather suggested he didn’t have a home, regular place of work or any places he regularly visited. I also got the impression they didn’t know what he looked like but they were clearly being evasive. They did know of somebody who’d been present at the victim’s last known location at the same time, who’d seldom visited that location and who’s signature could easily be obtained.