Phaenomena’s blade sank into the bespoke suit without at trace. No blood. No jar of steel on bone. Not so much as a flinch on Franklin Shays’ face. As if he wasn’t even there.
Because he’s not, Callimachus realized, chilled as if he’d slipped into a lion pit. He never was.
“Ah. I see you finally noticed.” Shays’ image flickered a little, as Phaenomena flinched back – then flung herself at their all-too-present guard, teeth bared. “So few of our victims do.”
Callimachus dodged the vicious struggle and the smoking hole in the floor; snapping his fingers to loose magoi stored in a ring, hissing words that would bring clarity to his senses, no matter what spell had latched its claws in. Shays’ image wavered a little more, like a shaken camera-
“Holography,” Callimachus snarled. Technology mixed with magic; just enough Life Magic to blur the edges in our minds, so we took the image as real. It’s a damned green-screen! “Why?”
There was a final thump, and the flutter in the rukh of an escaping soul. Callimachus raised his hands in first pose of a casting out of spirits, standing between Phaenomena’s bloody blade and the angry ghost that sought to lunge for her.
But the ghost seemed to shiver, and shattered into dark rukh, sweeping out and away.
“Don’t die here,” Callimachus ordered his companion, horror sweeping through his soul. “They’re consuming deaths for power. Do not die here!”
“You are quicker than most,” Franklin observed, steepling translucent hands before him to shadow a small, smug smile. “A pity we couldn’t have persuaded you to our side.” A casual shrug. “Really, you didn’t think we would let you this far into our secrets and let you go, do you? After that incident at Heunischenburg? You have a reputation, Magister Callimachus.”