His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 13

“Talk to them, distract them. I can’t be seen, but I can be heard.”

“All right,” she said, sounding like she still thought I was crazy.

And maybe I was. We were about to find out.

We climbed the rest of the stairs, and I followed Kona into the plane.

“Hello, gentlemen,” Kona said, flashing those gorgeous pearly whites of hers. “I wanted to see if you all needed anything.”

Three agents were clustered around a bank of seats about two-thirds of the way back; I assumed that was where Howell had been sitting. Two of the men glanced up, but then went back to examining the seats. A third man, tall, with dark hair and a smile as electric as hers made a show of checking her out, head to toe.

“Hey there, beautiful. What are you offering?”

None of the men spared me a glance. Kona did look back at me, but only long enough to shoot me a “you-owe-me-for-this” glare.

While she pretended to flirt with Tall, Dark, and Handsome, I stepped into the cockpit, making sure that I didn’t touch anything.

I spotted the magic right away. It would have been hard to miss, as it covered the instrumentation, though it was concentrated on the screens above the windshield, where the warning signals would have appeared. Whoever had cast the spell wanted to be certain that this plane wasn’t going anywhere.

It was the same magic I had seen on Howell: a deep shimmering green, brilliant but translucent. The skinhead’s murderer had also seen to it that this plane didn’t get off the ground.

I left the cockpit and walked down the aisle toward Kona and the Feds, which, I decided in that moment, was a great name for a band. Kona sent an anxious glance my way, but none of the men reacted to my presence. A few feet short of where Kona stood, I slipped out of the aisle and into a row. I didn’t go so far as to lower myself into a seat; doing so would have made too much noise. Instead, I pulled out that sock I had taken from Howell’s bag and my scrying stone, a slice of sea-green agate, which I always carry with me.

In the weeks since I had been shot, Namid had been teaching me all sorts of seeing spells. I disliked scrying magic; always had. Often scrying spells offered little more than portents, hints at the future that could be interpreted any number of ways. They tended to obscure as much as they revealed. But seeing spells of this sort were a little different; I wasn’t trying to divine the future so much as I was searching for clues about the past. And Namid seemed to think that the more I could discover with magic, the less likely I was to place myself in danger. I wasn’t sure I shared his confidence, but I had to admit that the seeing spell I’d used the previous night had made catching Mark Darby a good deal easier than it otherwise might have been.

The seeing spell I planned to use now was one I had learned a few months ago, and had used to see Etienne de Cahors for the first time. I wanted to see and hear what Howell had seen and heard when he was on this plane, and this casting allowed me to do that. It was specific to place and person. I would only experience what he had experienced on this plane; to see his killer, I would have to go back to the place where he had died. And I could only see the events in question through his eyes.

I folded the sock and held it beneath the scrying stone. This was a powerful spell, and elegant in its simplicity. Three elements: Howell, the plane, and my stone.

After a few seconds, the sinuous white and blue lines in the agate appeared to vanish, leaving an image of a seat back, a pair of hands — the skin around the wrists tattooed — and jean-clad legs, one of which bounced incessantly. He was jittery. He toyed with his seat belt, rolling the slack into a tight cylinder, letting it unravel, and then rolling it again.

He glanced up after a few minutes, in time to catch the eye of a flight attendant as she walked by. She checked to see that his belt was buckled. He turned to stare out the window. I could tell that he was in the middle seat, but he took little notice of the passengers sitting on either side of him.

There was no fast-forward button on a scrying stone, but after a few minutes of gazing at the image I had summoned, I realized that I wasn’t going to learn much more of value here on the plane. Howell was trapped in his seat, and with each passing minute he seemed to grow more uneasy. He must have been a wreck after two hours of this, and that would have made it easier for the conjurer to pick him out of the crowd of passengers once they deplaned. Howell never had a chance. It was almost enough to make me feel sorry for him.

I raised my eyes from the scrying stone and found that Kona was watching me, even as the FBI agent continued to chat her up. I was tempted to whisper in his ear that she was gay, just to see the reaction I’d get. But I was good. I nodded once to Kona, eased back into the aisle, and walked with care to the cabin door.

“Well, I’m glad things are going well here,” I heard her say behind me. “I’ll see you boys later.”

“Aw, but you don’t have to go.”

“I’m afraid, I do. But this is going to be a long investigation, and we’ll have a chance to talk again.”

“Good,” he said, in a tone that made me want to smack him.

“Yeah. We can have a beer. You, and me, and my lover, Margarite. You’ll like her, too. Good day, gentlemen.”

There was a brief silence, broken only by the sound of Kona’s footsteps. Then the other two agents burst out laughing. It was all I could do not to join them.

“Now that was fun,” she said in a low voice as we exited the plane. “What did you learn? Something I hope. I’d rather not find out I went through all that for nothing.”

“There was magic all over the cockpit,” I said, my voice low. “The same color and quality as what was on Howell. Whoever killed him also kept the plane from taking off.”

“From the cockpit?” she asked. “Does that mean it was a member of the crew?”

“Or a weremyste who managed to get in there. You’ve seen what a camouflage spell can do.”

“Yeah, nice work, by the way. That would be a handy spell when Hibbard’s around.”

“Why haven’t I ever thought of that?”

“So what now, partner?”

“Now we take Howell’s sock back to the men’s room where he was found and try a seeing spell there.”

“And we couldn’t do this before because . . . ?”

“Because I didn’t want to touch the body and mess up your crime scene.”

“Right. I appreciate that.”