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The lodestone strung about my neck was an onerous burden. The large, flat stone sat upon my chest like a smoldering ember, pressing against my sternum with bruising force. Needles of the energy housed within the lodestone's pulsating rune swaddled my entire body in a blanket of prickling knife-points. Perspiration dripped from my temples and pooled at the small of my back. My breath escaped me in choked exhalations. The five-minute walk from Amoroth's "borrowed" car to the doors of G&R had been excruciating.

"I am so tir—!"

"Might I remind you," Darius interjected, adjusting how his useless glasses sat upon his nose. "That though you are invisible, you are also quite audible. Stop huffing like rhinoceros."

It was Monday afternoon in early September, the sun warm but not overwhelming as large cumulus clouds jockeyed for position on the horizon. The Sin and I stood outside G&R Supplies and Distribution, and I was—in fact—huffing like an asthmatic rhinoceros. I was also invisible, thanks to the throbbing rock throttling my neck. The glamour allowed my presence to go unnoticed and afforded Darius the simplest means of infiltration. The Sin could use the Tongue of the Realm to alter people's memories, but it had its limitations, and there were too many people—too many variables—inside the buildings. Darius couldn't cover them all, not when he was starving.

Thus, I was invisible.

"It's like there's a boulder tied to my chest," I complained, keeping my volume low. "A boulder that keeps shocking me every fifteen seconds." If I moved too erratically, the stone sent a warning jolt through my system before I could buck off the glamour. It was not a pleasant sensation. "How do they wear these?!"

"It's designed for mages, not humans. Bear it," Darius muttered as he straightened his ironed cuffs. The Sin wore a slate-colored, three-piece suit he had acquired from some poor, now suitless businessman. His hair was combed and tamed with a liberal dollop of gel. He smelled of overpriced aftershave and—if I was not mistaken—he appeared older. Somehow the creature had managed to deepen the lines of wear marring his face, aging his countenance by at least a decade. I was glad for my invisibility, as I'd been staring at the Sin in confusion for most of the day.

It was almost five o'clock. Most of G&R's employees would be heading home for the evening, but not the man we were here for. John Pier had an appointment with Darius Bellows.

After discovering John Pier's dossier in the employee registry for G&R, Darius and I had spent the weekend deciding the best way to proceed. Darius had first proposed the most obvious solution; he would follow John Pier to his home and interrogate him there. The Sin had been more than willing to enact the plan until he discovered Pier was married and slept in a house with two guards and a kennel of persnickety hounds. It was not an environment that lent itself to interrogations. Waiting for him to be alone in his home could take weeks.

We'd settled upon our current strategy. John Pier was a manager for the supply side of G&R, and the man apparently worked much later than many of his cohorts. Darius surmised Pier was able to conduct his shadier business affairs during these transitory hours when the office building was clearing and the night was still young. He would be alone, somewhere quiet and overlooked, a place where he could work without interruption.

Our greatest chance of catching John Pier alone was now.

Darius shifted his grip on the briefcase, sighed, and leveled his eyes toward the smog-clad skyline. Someone came out of the main doors, talking into their phone as they loosened their tie. "Let's go," the Sin whispered as he strode forward. He reached for the door on the pretext of holding it open for the departing employee—which allowed me, hidden by my mage glamour, to duck inside. Darius followed.

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