When Olivia got back to Goodwin Tower, her promised guest was waiting. The spy introduced herself as Anne Finch, and took a job at the front desk. She also passed over a summons from her master; to Grimouth central park that night, the more the merrier.
“Why did you invite the gargoyle again?” Olivia looked up at the night sky, frowning. A few hours until dawn, but she had no desire to be stuck a day in her creditor’s haven.
Shen shrugged. “He’s pugnacious and stupid.”
“And this is a good thing because…?” Olivia raised an eyebrow.
“Because if shit goes wrong, he’ll want to fight,” said Shen.
Jack gave a hoarse laugh. “Better him than me, that’s what I say.”
“So why are you here?” Olivia asked.
Jack shrugged. “Curiosity, I guess.”
Olivia narrowed her eyes. “You are aware that this is dangerous, right? I mean-” she paused, looking up. She could make out Jed’s batlike silhouette against a passing cloud. “Nevermind. Jed’s here now. Let’s get this over with.”
Together, they approached the center of the park, a copse of trees with a thicket of nigh-impenetrable brambles beneath them.
Olivia paused. “Guess this is the place.”
Jed looked doubtful. “I didn’t see anything from above.”
“Maybe it’s underground,” said Olivia, stepping forward into the brambles. And just like that, the scenery shifted. No longer was she standing in hip-height undergrowth under trees, but on a denuded hill, before a pentagonal reinforced bunker. From the top of the bunker, two soldiers in gun emplacements trained their weapons on them, talking on earpieces.
Olivia stopped dead, holding up her hands. “We have an appointment.”
There was a pause, and the soldier on the right nodded, waving them in.
The interior of the bunker was cold and utilitarian, fluorescent light fixtures and unpainted concrete. It seemed to be a single corridor, leading through to a wooden door. Illusions. Olivia shivered as she stepped through. The kindred known only as Eyes was seated behind a large, mahogany desk.
“Ah, Olivia. Welcome to my haven. Please, sit.” The albino gestured to the three chairs before the desk. The walls in her office were full of shelves stacked with tens of thousands of seemingly random objects; teddy bears, books, combs, shoes, mirrors, necklaces, approximately half of which were blackened and burnt as if by fire. The room itself had an unmistakable aura of dread. Wraiths again. Eyes watched them as they sat, Jack standing behind Jed’s chair. “I see you brought Shen. Well, that makes this easier.” She sighed, pulling open a drawer by her chair. “Very well. Firstly, the cost of my time. In carrying out your little rescue, I lost three of my spirits. You will replace them.”
Olivia hesitated, staring at the shelf over Eyes’ left shoulder. Her mouth felt dry. Three ghosts? That would be difficult. On the other hand, she wasn’t exactly in a good negotiating position. Eyes had Balrus hostage, and without a show of goodwill, Eyes might decide to start eating bits of him, or worse. She lowered her gaze. “Agreed. He’s still alive, then?”
“After a fashion.” Eyes gave her strange, wide smile.
“And his will is still his own?” The last thing Olivia wanted was a Balrus at large and bound to Eyes’ will.
Eyes gave a low chuckle. “Oh, I doubt anything I could do would hold that one,” she purred. “In any case the second thing. The favour.”
“The favour,” Olivia repeated, feeling numb.
“Shen’s sire, Victor, has something I want. Some things, to be more accurate.” Eyes pulled a file from her desk and slid it across the table. On the front, a picture of the blue-haired man from the pub on the night of Harvey’s death. “They are blood brothers; they go by the name of Eldric.” She watched coldly as Olivia pulled out her phone. “You won’t be able to call anyone from here.”
Olivia frowned, holding the phone out over the file as she flipped it open. “I wasn’t going to use it for that.” The camera on her phone was better for picking out small text than the ones on her glasses. “I agree to your terms.”
Eyes looked over at Jed, as if appraising him as Olivia scanned the document.
Olivia looked up, responding to an unspoken question. “Other people care about him, Eyes.”
Eyes sighed as Olivia finished scanning. “I think our business is concluded for now,” she said. “Jed, would you stay behind a moment?”
Olivia felt her heart sink a little as Jed nodded acquiescence, but said nothing as she left with the others.
A few moments passed before Jed emerged from the compound. In his gnarled hand, the gargoyle held a sword, a rapier wreathed in the writhing form of a ghost. Olivia felt a chill as she recognized it. Alistair’s sword. The Justicar’s sword.