I didn’t know that there were big forests in Alabama. That sounds stupid but I thought that the Pacific Northwest was timber country. I drove past several huge timber trucks. I saw signs for the Alabama Loggers Council by the road.
Stella’s family’s compound is in the woods. I knew her family was rich but I didn’t know they were drug lord rich. I don’t know what an acre is but this is a property measured in acres. The entire thing is surrounded by a fence and there’s a security force patrolling the grounds.
I asked Stella’s mom why she needed armed men looking around and she said that her activities aren’t appreciated by everyone. I asked her what was so controversial about logging and she looked at me like I’m a dunce.
“Necromancy Grace, not everyone likes that I have mastered necromancy. It’s a maligned practice.”
I asked if that meant people knew what she up to, but she brushed me off. She said that I wasn’t there to discuss her personal life, I was there to talk about her daughter. I asked her again why I needed to cast this spell and she said that only someone with a close connection to Stella would be able to bring her back.
I said that I barely knew her and that surely her own mother would have a better connection that I did.
I’m not good at reading people. I think she’s very good at maintaining poise. But I could sense that this question stung her. She said that she and Stella were not close. She didn’t sigh but he did something like it, “mothers and daughters, you know how it is” she said. I guess she doesn’t know my background.
She took me up to the fourth floor of the main building. The door at the top of the stairs was locked and had a camera above it. Beyond that was a small room with two armed men guarding a steel security door. On the other side of that was a single large room. In that room was an ornate cabinet that I bet cost more than every car I’ve owned combined (except the one Gary bought for me). It was filled with actual gold and silver cups and old looking daggers along with weird bowls and drippy candles and all kinds of things – magic shit.
Next to that was a case with a couple of .45s, two shotguns, an SMG, and an actual sword. Not to mention the grenades.
On the opposite wall there were three sets of shackles. I looked at those for a long time. Next to them was a big sink like you’d see in a basement laundry room and a little shelf with handcuffs and a neatly folded pile of body bags.
That was the scariest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. I think of blood mages as unhinged lunatics. Thought went into this. Someone had the idea “we’re going to want to wash up after the human sacrifice, so let’s get a plumber in here to hook up a sink and put in some drains.”