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Outtake #2: Fifth Grand Sorcerer of the Ancient Order of Magic

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Greta needs to collect everything on the apothecary list Schechter gave her in an hour, but he never said she couldn't bring Dewees, so he's battling the market crowds at midnight while she's having a cup of chai in the coffee shop at the edge of the market district. It's a lovely night out, just chilly enough that the shawl over her shoulders is keeping her warm without a spell, and she'd be able to relax into the necromancy memoir she brought if it wasn't for the weirdo staring at her.

He's bald in a deliberate way, wearing a daylighter suit and tie but not drinking coffee, so he's probably not actually a daylighter. She can't get a reading on him to see what kind of midnighter he is, and it's frustrating, so she tries to turn back to her book. She can't make it through more than a few sentences before she feels his stare like a cold draft creeping down back of her neck.

"What?" she says, finally putting her book down and turning to him. He smiles in a totally creepy way and stands up and walks over to her table, taking the empty seat. "I believe that was a question, not an invitation," she says. He turns the book so the spine's facing him.

"Advanced," he say, opening the cover and then letting it fall shut. "Probably out of the skill level of an apprentice, though I can appreciate the ambition."

Great, Greta thinks. A fucking know-it-all with an accent she'd otherwise find hot. "I'm sure you know everything there is to know about necromancy," she says. "Just like my zombie."

The guy gives her the creepy smile again. "Tell your master I'm coming."

"That sounds dirty," Greta says, making a face.

"Excuse me," the guy says, bringing his hand to his heart like she's genuinely wounded him.

"Look, you're the one who was staring at me like I was on the menu," Greta says.

"I was reading you," he says.

"I'm sure you were," Greta says. "I'm sure you'd like to turn my pages, but I have to be going."

"You'll tell your master," the guy insists.

"Stop saying that word," she says. "It's not making you any less creepy."

She gathers up her book, leaves some money on the table for the coffee, and wraps her shawl a little tighter around her, wondering how obvious it would be if it she turned the shawl into something that would attack the guy. Bats, maybe. Bats could totally be explained away as a freak animal accident.

"Finally found the rusted curtain rods," Dewees says, appearing at her side, holding a bag triumphantly aloft. "Are we still within the time limit?"

"We are," Greta says, checking her watch. "In fact, it's past time we left here," she says, shooting the creepy guy a meaningful look.

"So this is your zombie," the guy says, assessing Dewees. "I thought you were being hyperbolic."

"Did he just insult me?" Dewees asks Greta. "Or you?"

"He's not someone we're talking to," Greta says.

"You'll tell your master," the guy says again.

"Does he not understand that you're my master?" Dewees asks Greta, and she's impressed how carefully he's avoiding talking to the guy, even though she hasn't phrased it as a full command. She wonders if it's instinct, or if he can sense the implication in her tone.

"I mean her master," the guy clarifies.

"He means Brian," Greta says. "To who I will most definitely report the fact that a totally creepy guy tried to come onto me in the coffee shop and then insulted my necromancy skills."

"It is your duty to deliver my message," the guy says, standing up and following them as Greta starts to head back toward the mansion.

"Dewees, do you remember what I've taught you about judo?"

Dewees immediately assumes a fighting stance.

"Make sure he doesn't follow me to the mansion," she says.

"Your zombie won't stop me from coming for your master," the guy says.

"That still sounds pretty gross," Greta says and walks off.

"Describe the guy," Brian demands, before Greta can even get the whole story out.

"Like I said, creepy. Bald. Wearing a suit," Greta says. "You don't want to see what I got at the apothecary?"

"You didn't think to ask his name?" Brian says, ignoring her question.

"Oh, yeah, because that wouldn't have been as good as writing my number on his hand. In lipstick."

"Where's Dewees?" Brian asks.

"Taking care of the guy," Greta says. As if she'd summoned him, Dewees comes in the front door, his hair tangled with leaves and the collar of his shirt half open and streaked with dirt.

"Can you tell me anything useful about this mystery man?" Brian asks him.

"He was Scottish," Dewees offers as Greta calls him over and begins trying to remove some of the debris from his person.

"Yes, he was," Greta says, remembering the accent. "Are you done interrogating me?"

But Brian doens't even glare at her. He's standing there with his mouth open, "He was Scottish," Brian finally says. "And you ordered Dewees to get into a fight with him."

"It was more of a throwdown," Dewees corrects.

"He was a pervert," Greta says.

"Tell me you didn't call him a pervert to his face," Brian says.

"No," Greta says, because she'd left before they'd gotten that far. "Just a creep."

"He's from the Ancient Order of Magic," Brian says, sounding like he's about to lose his voice. "He's an evaluator. And I think I just failed the apprentice portion of the exam."

"Brian, you didn't tell me Grant was visiting," Gerard says, coming in from the back garden.

"Those fuckers, of course they'd send him," Brian says, banging his fist on the wall. "They couldn't send anyone else, no, not even after I told them -"

"Who's Grant?" Frank asks, a step behind Gerard.

"Grant Morrison," Dewees says, "He told me me was a Fifth Grand Sorcerer of the Ancient Order of Magic. Just before I threw him into the Lazarra's moat."

"The moat," Brian says.

"I don't see why you're so upset," Greta says. "They keep that moat very clean."

Brian just buries his face in his hands.