A Murder of Crows (Part 9 of 9)

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

NINE

The elevator descended slowly into the bowels of the Baltimore headquarters of the FBI’s Paranormal Operations Division. Affectionately known as the Tombs, the lowest levels beneath the Monster Squad’s base of operations housed a virtual treasure trove of esoteric evidence collected since the Division was founded two centuries before. Meticulously numbered and catalogued, and many placed behind arcane wards to protect the unsuspecting world from their malevolence, the Tombs was off to limits to all but those with the highest security clearance.

When the elevator car came to a stop, a man in a dark suit exited and strode confidently through aged catacombs carrying a black satchel in his right hand. He’d been here many times before, but always there was a sense of wonder to that which lay hidden from the world far above. The man stopped before an electronic keypad and held out his left palm, touching his ring finger to his thumb.

Vincere tenebras salva veritate.

The man’s hand grew warm as sparks ignited within the console and the metal gate that barred his advance opened. He stepped inside the cool confines of the chamber, walking past floor to ceiling shelves that housed various crates and boxes of all shapes and sizes. He stopped before a small cask, wooden with iron bands around it. A glance to the tag beneath it assured him that he had come to the right place. It read:

CROW FETISH
LOGAN, OHIO

SEC RISK: MODERATE

The man smiled. Moderate? The fools, he thought. They had no idea. He placed the cask in the satchel and exited the room, returning the same way he came. He felt a cool confidence settle over him. His plans were coming to fruition at last. Stepping out of the elevator, he made his way through the maze of offices and cubicles and was about to pass through security and into the beckoning Baltimore twilight when a voice called out from behind.

“Excuse me, Assistant Director Hart?” The man turned to see Agent Juan Caballo jogging toward him.

“What can I do for you, Agent?”

“Sir, I’ve come across something in the database that doesn’t quite make sense to me, and I was hoping to get clarification, but I don’t have clearance to access the necessary files.”

“Is that so? I’m sure there must be a reason. What’s caught your attention, son?”

“I was given one of the discovery items from the case in Logan, Ohio, a type of magical diary that I was attempting to classify for inclusion in the Tombs. Inside I came upon an obscure reference to a fraternal lodge called the Order of the Black Spire. The Monster Manual says I don’t have clearance to access information about the Order.”

“Interesting. Tell me, Agent Caballo, do you like liver and onions?”

“Sir?”

“It’s a simple enough question.”

“Well, to be honest, I didn’t think anyone liked liver and onions.”

“I can assure you, I do. And I think you will too.” Hart clapped the man on the back. “Grab your coat and this diary of yours and we’ll have supper and see if we can wrap our heads around this little problem.”

“I wouldn’t want to impose. I’m sure that if I could just get…”

“Nonsense,” Hart said, adding a warm grin, “it’s no imposition at all. In fact, I insist.”

“Yes, sir,” the agent replied, disappearing into his cubicle to retrieve the item in question.

“Yes, Agent Caballo, I do indeed insist.”

Thank you for joining me during this serialization of
A Murder of Crows

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.

There’s more, of course.
To continue the story you
need look no further than
DESCENDANT,
available from Belfire Press —
wherever books are sold online.

Happy Hallowe’en

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