No human could consume the amount of caffeine needed at this hour, but Harry was quickly working up to it. A large yawn escaped the lips of the only openly practicing Wizard in the Chicago area. He continued to drive down the street at this ungodly hour, picking up his coffee cup from time to time to take a drink. Even though it was probably just past two am, there were plenty of cars still on the road. Chicago is a huge city, and that amount of people packed into one area meant there was always someone who was up and busy. At this time of the day is was more than likely people leaving from Bars and Clubs, either working or just out enjoying life.
After about 10 more minutes, Harry Dresden slowed the blue beetle to stop in front of a small church. The wizard had never been to this particular church, honestly the only holy place he had even been to was Father Forthill’s giant church. He never really attended church and wasn’t the strongest believer into religion despite his best friend being a Knight of the Cross. Harry release yet another yawn as he scrubbed his face, the sharp bristle of his unshaven face scratched against his un-gloved hand. He grabbed his coffee and drained the last of the liquid, hoping that this would magically wake him up even more.
When the alertness he was hoping for didn’t kick in, Harry grumbled and stepped out of his tiny car. All 6’9 of the wizard crawled out of the old VW bug and stretched letting his back pop in a few places. He straightened his heavy leather duster and started to head towards the doors. The walk to the church wasn’t long, but it took awhile to maneuver through the amount of cops and crime scene tape. Luckily Harry was taller than most people, he could easily see over the tops of most of the cops milling around. He was able to spot the bright blonde hair of Sargent Karrin Murphy. Harry quickly caught up to her just outside the door of the church.
“Murph!” Harry shouted as he approached the short woman. She just trained her bright blue eyes on him and nodded at an officer next to her. The second officer cleared out of the way before the wizard approached. “You know, you should really be grateful that I agreed to even get out of bed.” The wizard smirked but Karrin was not amused.
“You should be grateful that they even allowed me to call you.” Karrin retorted in a short tone. “After I was demoted, they didn’t even want me to talk to you outside of work.”
“Murph, I said I was sorry.” Harry started to say but was halted when Karrin placed a hand out in a stop motion. She shook her head.
“It was my choice,” She spoke quietly. “I don’t regret it… How is Molly doing anyway?”
Harry just shrugged nonchalantly, “The grasshopper is a fast learner, but she has a long way to go.”
“I’m sure, she’ll end up being great” Karrin gave a small smile before turning towards the Church. “Anyway, the reason they agreed to this was because it was something that I think might be up your alley.”
Harry silently followed the much shorter woman into the darkened church. Surveying the surrounding area, the wizard noticed that all the pews were thrown about as if a tornado ran through the building. All the ornate stained glass that decorated the walls were shattered, glass littered the ground. No lights were on in the place, a quick look up to the ceiling showed that all the bulbs must have blown out. The only source of illumination came from the flashlights from all the police around. Harry walked towards the body laying on the ground in the center of the chaos. If Harry didn’t know any better, it looked like she was the epicenter of whatever happened here.
Karrin nodded at some of the other officers around and they cleared out of the way leaving the Sargent and the Wizard alone with the dead woman. “I was only able to get you about 5 mins, then you have to leave.” Murphy looked very serious. Harry didn’t want to ask what strings she had to pull to allow him here, he was thankful for having a friend like Karrin.
“What can you tell me about her?”
“Name is Jennifer Davis. She was a waitress at a small dinner, only child and both her parents are dead. Nothing special about her, or that stands out.” Karrin read off a small notepad.
Harry looked at the body. She looked mid to late twenties, long brown hair that was spread out on the ground. She looked very peaceful, almost as if sleeping. Harry looked her over a few times and was able to easily pick out her cause of death, a stab wound to the heart. The wizard frowned in confusion. It didn’t seem like a case that he was needed for, a simple stab wound. Perhaps if she was a wizard too then the mess could have just been her death curse being released.
“Look at her hand” Murphy instructed, Harry looked at her right hand which seemed to be curled into a fist. He crouched down and took the dead woman’s hand. He pried it open with a bit of strength, it was a cold night and rigor mortis may have started to kick in already. He looked down and Karrin shone her flashlight at the hand. Harry’s heart picked up pace and he swallowed, mouth suddenly becoming dry.
“Is that…” He started to say and looked at Murphy, they made eye contact and he could see the fierceness in her eyes. Harry looked back at the mark burned into Jennifer’s hand, there was no doubt. This woman was part of the Order of the Blackened Denarius, the wizard could see the snake motif etched into her palm. “Where is the coin?” He asked but seemed to know the answer already.
“No coin was found.” Karrin answered, “But I already warned everyone not to touch it if they find one.” Harry nodded and stood up to his full height. “That is not the whole reason I called you over here.” Karrin continued to talk. She moved to the other side of the room where there was a flood light setup. She clicked the light on and Harry covered his eyes at the sudden brightness. After a few moments he was able to adjust to the new bright environment around him. He looked back down at the woman.
“What the hell?” He spoke aloud to no one in particular. Harry could see dark black scorch marks in the ground as if something had burned around her. The marks started at her shoulders and spread out to touch each side of the buildings. Harry looked in fascination and these marks, and could have sworn they were in the shape of wings.