Chapter 2 - Rising Threats

   Early the next sun, a knock sounded on Nyle’s door.

   “We’ve got another murder,” a uniformed ACDP officer said when Nyle opened the door. “I’ve come to collect you.” 

   “I’ll be down in a moment,” Nyle replied with a nod, putting his game face on. He was surprised another murder had taken place so soon.

   By the rising sun, Nyle arrived at the crime scene. Like the one he’d visited the previous sun, this murder had also occurred in an apartment complex near Perden Park, not far from Pentora Apartments. The exterior featured two statues of women supporting the pillars that framed the entrance. “Tenfor Apartments” was carved on the top of the archway. Following the officer, Nyle made his way to the victim’s apartment. Gazers and a team of officers were already at work scanning and analyzing. Silas stood by the entrance to one room talking with Officer Marceau.

   “Same MO?” Nyle asked, passing a rustic wooden couch and bookshelf as he approached them.

   Officer Marceau backed out of his way. “Have a look.” 

   Nyle walked into the room, and a foul scent, mimicking the odor in the bathroom from the previous sun, assaulted his senses. Like the rest of the house, this room was decorated with antique furniture, including a large wardrobe that filled an entire wall and an ornate oil lamp that stood tall by the open window. A wall hanging depicting two concentric circles with a star in the middle dangled by the bedroom door. The pale body of a man was sprawled across the old-fashioned, wrought-dairon bed. Strange glyphs carved into his skin matched the ones Nyle had found on the previous victim.

   “The neighbors didn’t hear a thing,” Officer Marceau said, coming to stand beside Nyle.

   “Have the gazers picked up anything?” Nyle asked.

   “They’re still scanning the place.”

   “Did the psychologist get anything from Sheila’s husband?”

   “Nothing useful,” the officer replied, “but I’ll have a report sent to you.”

   Nyle nodded and moved closer to the body. He’d swallowed a white elicion pill on his way to the crime scene, so he drew on the power of the force dust lingering in the reservoir in his chest and activated his ocular glyph. With glowing eyes, he studied the glyphs on the victim’s skin, hoping to see something different but finding nothing.

   “Has the CGC deciphered the glyphs yet?” Silas asked from the doorway.

   “We’re still working on it,” Nyle responded, his gaze fixed on the corpse.

   “I’m counting on it,” Silas said. “I’ll leave the room to you then.” He turned and walked away. Officer Marceau nodded to Nyle before following. 

   In silence, Nyle studied the body, the room, and the rest of the apartment. Then he spoke with the gazers and left empty-handed, Officer Marceau by his side offering brief snippets about his conversation with some of the neighbors. This was the second murder since Nyle had been assigned to the case, and he had absolutely nothing to work with. He needed to ask Elijah if he had been able to secure a meeting with the Griffins. 

   Once outside, Nyle nodded goodbye to Officer Marceau and found a carriage across the street. He walked over and gave his address to the driver before turning to the carriage door. Reaching out, Nyle grabbed the latch and rotated it, opening the door, but before he could enter the carriage, he heard a soft crackle. His instincts took over, and he activated white glyphs on his boots just as a large orange glyph appeared on the inner roof of the carriage. Harnessing the power of force dust, Nyle leaped, shooting himself backward just as flames engulfed the vehicle. The carriage exploded with a thunderous boom that shook the ground. The force of the explosion propelled Nyle further backward, so he backflipped and landed in a crouch, the glowing glyphs on his boots and gloves slowing him to a stop. 

   Officer Doxon, who had been interviewing one of the neighbors on the side of the street, rushed toward him as Officer Marceau did the same from his direction. Doxon was saying something, but Nyle couldn’t hear her over the sharp ringing in his ears. His eyes watered, and his legs threatened to give out, but Marceau grabbed him by the shoulder and helped him stand. Silas and a couple other officers ran around and cleared the area while Nyle extracted more of the power of force dust from his reservoir and directed it to the endurance glyph on his shoulder. The glyph glowed white, and Nyle immediately felt his vision clear; strength flowed through his body, and the ringing in his ears subsided. Nyle nodded at Marceau. “Thank you,” he said, and the officer released him.

   “Are you all right?” Silas asked as he approached.

   Nyle panted before answering, still catching his breath. “I am.” Up ahead, he saw the carriage’s burning carcass and a dead wicon. The pavement around them bore deep char marks. “The driver.”

   Silas started ushering Nyle away from the blast site. “We’re taking care of that. Right now, we need to get you out of here.”

   “No,” Nyle said defiantly.

   “Morcroft, listen to me!” Silas said, his voice growing stern. “Someone attacked you, and they could try again. The next time, someone else could get hurt. Go to ACDP headquarters. You’ll be safe there. We’ll take care of everything here and keep you updated.”

   “I need to go back to my place,” Nyle said.

   “No,” Silas protested. “If they attack again—”

   “They attacked using a fira glyph,” Nyle interrupted. “They’re a dustomancer. If they attack again, what will your officers be able to do? I’m not putting your people in danger. No one in the ACDP is trained to fight dustomancers. I am. I’ll be fine.” 

Silas was about to dismiss Nyle’s foolish bravery, but he held his tongue. “All right,” he agreed after a moment as he bunched his fists, “but you’re taking Doxon with you.”

   Officer Doxon stepped beside Nyle. “Let’s get you home.”

   “Keep me posted,” Nyle said and walked away with the officer. He wanted to stay, but he knew leaving the area was the best thing to do. He had to get back to his place and contact the CGC. 

   Doxon escorted him to another wicon carriage and examined it thoroughly before letting Nyle in. 

   “Are you sure you’re unharmed?” Doxon asked, sitting next to Nyle as the carriage started moving.

   Nyle nodded. “I am,” he said.

   “Someone really doesn’t want you on this case.” 

   Nyle grinned. “All the more reason to stick around.”

***

   When they arrived at Nyle’s apartment, Officer Doxon thoroughly checked both the exterior and interior before permitting Nyle entrance.

   “I’ll get you some water,” she said, heading into the kitchen.

   Nyle sank into his couch. “Thanks.”

   A moment later, Ceil flew through the window and perched on the armrest, delivering another letter. Nyle ripped the envelope and opened the letter, hoping Elijah had a strategy to help him get the book. Now more than ever, he needed to understand those strange glyphs.

 

   Special Agent Morcroft,

 

   Special Agent Woods has kept me apprised of your progress in the case. However, I regret to inform you I was unable to grant you access to the Griffin library. They have refused all our formal appeals.

   I am, however, trying other avenues, including trading and bargaining to get the book for you. I shall write to you as soon as I have an update.

   As always, I’ve got your back.

 

   Elijah Qrow

   Senior Special Agent

   The Center for Glyph Control

 

   “Did the CGC decrypt the glyphs?” Doxon asked, sitting next to Nyle and handing him a glass of water.

   “Not yet,” Nyle replied, frustration evident in his tone, and he took the glass from her. “We need access to a book in the Griffin library to do that, but they’ve denied all our requests.” He took a sip of water, thinking hard. “I need to find another way to get that book.”

   “Griff … in,” she said slowly, her eyebrows furrowed in thought. “I might know something that could be of help.”

   “What?” Nyle asked, his curiosity sparked as he turned to her.

   “Detective Knight used to date the heir to the Griffin throne. He might be able to get you in touch with someone. It’s a long shot, but it’s all I’ve got.”

   “I can work with that,” Nyle said, feeling hopeful.

   “Don’t get your hopes up. It might be another dead end.”

   “It’s still better than nothing.”

   “Are you feeling all right?” Doxon asked, concern painted on her face. Normally, she always had her game face on. However, right now, Nyle could see the worry in her eyes. She had always deeply cared about her comrades, and Nyle was glad that even after all these years, she had retained that quality.

   “I’m better,” Nyle assured her, nodding and placing a palm over her hand. “You should go home.”

   “Absolutely not,” she protested. “Detective Knight ordered me to stick with you, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

   “Doxon, I’ll be fine,” Nyle said.

   Her dairon will remained unchanged however. “It doesn’t matter. You can spin your stories about being trained to fight dustomancers all you want, but for the rest of this sun, you’re not getting rid of me.”

   Nyle’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “All right.”

   “You still have the same problem you’ve always had, Morcroft,” Doxon said as she rose and took the empty glass of water from Nyle, then headed to the kitchen.

   “What’s that?” Nyle asked.

   “You’re terrible at accepting help.”

***

   The next sun, after Officer Doxon had finally agreed to head home, Nyle met with Detective Knight at his office in ACDP headquarters. Silas’s corner office was on the seventh floor and stylishly decorated. Wide panes of glass took up two walls, offering a stunning view of the city below, and a dark whyr wood bookshelf filled with meticulously organized books and awards covered the third wall. Dark furniture placed around the expanse further added grandeur to the room.

   Silas sat behind a wide desk that matched the wood of the bookshelf, sipping tea from a black cup. Nyle sat across from him, drinking pefle juice from a long glass and feeling the sweetened tart liquid coat his tongue.

   “I found a way to decipher the glyphs carved on the bodies,” Nyle said, placing his glass on a ceramic coaster.

   “What do they do?” Silas asked.

   “I don’t know just yet. They’re ancient glyphs, and our database doesn’t have any details about them, but I think I know of a way to get more information.”

   “How can we help you?” Silas asked, placing his cup down on a matching ceramic charcoal saucer.

   “There’s an ancient book that was dug up a couple years ago. It’s called, The Velcamore Diary, and we believe it holds information about the glyphs.”

   “Where is this book?”

   “It’s in possession of the Griffin Empire.”

   Silas took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair. “And you want me to use my history with Enora to get you access to the book.”

   “I don’t have any other ideas,” Nyle confessed, “and you don’t have any leads.”

   “Can’t the CGC just ask the family for temporary access to the book?”

   “The Griffins have denied all our requests. If there were any other way to get the book, I wouldn’t ask this of you.”

   “I know we really need this book, but this might not work,” Silas said with uncertainty in his aquamarine eyes. “It’s been less than a year since we broke up. I can’t just ask her to let me into her mansion.”

   “I don’t need you to do that,” Nyle said. “All I need you to do is arrange a meeting with her. I’ll take care of the rest.”

   Silas sat in contemplation for a moment. “I’ll see what I can do,” he finally said, “but I don’t know if this will work. Even if she agrees to meet you, she’ll certainly make some unrealistic demand.”

   “I’ll take care of it,” Nyle said, chugging the rest of his drink and rising. “Thanks, Knight.”

   ***

   At the falling of the sun, an officer stopped by Nyle’s apartment and handed him a note.

 

   Special Agent Morcroft,

 

   I was able to get in touch with Princess Enora Galligus Griffin, and she has agreed to meet you. The meeting shall take place by Perden Lake this moon at 9:00. Do let me know how the meeting goes.

 

   Silas Knight

   Head Detective

   Alendon Central Department of Protection

 

   Nyle grinned and put the letter on the bed beside him as he formulated a plan.

***

   As the moon glowed in the dark sky, Nyle stood beside Perden Lake. He wore black glyphed combat boots and gloves, black jeans, a white shirt, and his glyphed leather jacket. Had it not been for the shirt, he would have disappeared in the darkness. And though it was a simple meeting, he was ready to defend himself if someone tried to attack him again. 

   In the moonlight, Nyle spied a girl in white seated on one of the benches. She had dark skin and perfect posture; her long white hair was tied into a high ponytail with something that resembled a silver crown and fell down her back like cascading water. She wore a simple white dress with white gloves on hands that clutched a light gray parasol. She sat quietly, gazing at the moon reflected on the calm waters of the lake.

   She’s a dustomancer, Nyle realized, looking at the silver glyphs that adorned her outfit in a minimalistic, artistic manner.

   “I’m Special Agent Morcroft,” Nyle said as he approached her. 

   She didn’t respond, but her storm-gray eyes studied him.

   “Detective Knight must’ve told you about me,” Nyle said, taking a seat next to her.

   “I don’t owe Silas anything,” Enora replied in a posh accent.

   “Yet, here you are,” Nyle said. “I’ll keep this direct. I need access to the restricted section of the Griffin library to study The Velcamore Diary.”

   “And what makes you think I would grant you access?” Enora asked, eyeing him, an eyebrow raised.

   “Since you’re here, I’m willing to bet you want to make a trade,” Nyle said, meeting her gaze. “What do you want?”

   “I want access to the Lupus case files.”

   “I don’t have access to them,” Nyle admitted. The Lupus case was a cold case from a decade ago. Nyle had heard about it, but only those with the highest clearance at the CGC had access to those case files.

   “Then we don’t have a deal,” Enora said, standing and turning to walk away. “Good luck with your case.”

   “Wait,” Nyle said, rising with her. “Why do you want that file?”

   “I don’t see how that is any of your business,” Enora retorted, making it clear she had no intention of telling Nyle anything.

   “I’ll send some letters and see what I can do,” Nyle offered. 

   “Once you have the file, you may contact me through Silas. Only then will I take you to our sacred family library.”

   “This is urgent!” Nyle pushed. “Getting you the file might take some time. I can’t wait that long.”

   “Then I suggest you hurry,” Enora said and walked away, leaving Nyle alone by the moonlit lake.