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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Hello everybody and thank you for your support!

So some villain went and bought me a Switch for Christmas. 

...so if I suddenly disappear, you know what happened. Lol, I'm joking! Oooooor am IIIII?

Alright, onto the story!

Wizard jail—as it turned out—was an ominous, oppressive looking place.

Alex stared at the structure looming ahead of them.

It resembled The Cells on campus: a big, grey, somber building with few windows, all sealed by metal shutters. Actually—now that he thought about it—he wondered if the campus building was called The Cells because it looked like wizard jail with all of its cells. He shook his head.

The cells revelation might’ve made him knock himself on the head for not making the connection a long time ago, if he wasn’t currently being led into wizard jail for questioning.

“Glad I’m not here to stay,” one of the other research team members muttered as the group was taken through the street and toward the entrance gates.

“You can say that again,” Alex whispered.

This station, he’d learned on the way over, was one of many jails in Generasi that was used to hold criminals while they awaited trial. After sentencing, apparently, they went to a permanent facility to either serve out their sentence, or wait for execution. The investigators told the group that if the summoner was caught, that’s where they’d end up.

Surrounding the building was a wall that was twice as tall as Claygon, and maybe five feet thick inscribed with rows of glyphs that he recognized as incantations to counter spellcraft, and dismiss summoned creatures. The gates were flanked by two iron golems, forged to look like powerfully built Generasi soldiers, each wielded a massive pole-hammer that looked like it could squash Alex to pulp with a single swing.

“No one here is under arrest,” said one of the officers leading the group. “But, best to follow every instruction you’re given: this is a place of dangers, but order keeps those dangers muzzled. Ruin the order, and chaos will result. We cannot protect you if you engage in chaos. Now, for the first rule. No weapons or other magical tools are allowed beyond the entrance walls.”

“Not even tools?” a man held onto his staff. “You wouldn’t part an old man-”

“You aren’t that old, sir, and magical tools could hide enchantments that can be used to disrupt the safety of our officers and staff,” the officer said. “Your items will be cared for.”

At the outer gate, the members of the research team were patted down and made to surrender any weapons or magical tools they were carrying. For a moment, Alex’s anxiety surged as a young officer stepped up to pat him down. It was the most personal contact he’d had with anyone outside of those closest to him since he’d gotten The Mark, and the only reason he didn’t take off running was because the others hadn’t had to take any of their clothing off. The last thing he wanted...well, was to have anything bad happen to his family or friends.

The second last thing he wanted...was well, to be killed by the summoner’s demons.

The third last thing maybe...was to be killed by The Ravener’s monsters.

The fourth last, then...was...for The Mark to be exposed, especially now, right before he was supposed to go to Thameland on the expedition. That was, if there was still going to be an expedition. He still couldn’t believe they might have a traitor in their group.

After the pat down was finished and some of his nervousness calmed, he took a long look at the other group members assembled. He didn’t know any of them: Amir, Isolde and the rest had been taken to different stations. Apparently, from what the investigators had said, it would’ve been too much of a problem to take them all to one station.

Alex remembered the look on Isolde’s face when they were leading her to another sky-boat bound for a different investigation office. She’d openly looked pissed. He almost felt sorry for the investigator who'd be questioning her.

Since Alex wasn’t carrying any weapons—he hadn’t brought his potions to the meeting—the officer told him that Claygon could be considered a weapon and would have to remain outside.

“It’s okay, buddy,” he said to the golem. “I’ll be back soon.”

As he said it, he sincerely hoped that it was true.

Claygon stood near the other golems, watching Alex as the gates closed behind him and the other research team members. If things went wrong—which Alex hoped they wouldn’t—he was taking comfort knowing that his golem was just a thought away.

Inside the outer wall—separated from the wizard jail—stood the offices of the security personnel of Generasi, its guards, and investigators. It was a sizable building that seemed well-protected by a squad of broad shouldered guards. An intimidating looking patrol walked the inner courtyard, leading pairs of coursing hounds of Striga—the same breed of mana-sniffing hound that Isolde’s cousin kept—around the corner of the building.

The hounds’ jaws hung open, looking like they could make short work of flesh and bone.

Alex made a mental note to never, ever go to jail here...or anywhere.

Because he and the members of the research team were there voluntarily, they were immediately led into the investigation office.

“If all is in order, then this will be quick,” Francesco said, a smile crooking his lips. “You scholars will be back to your books, your flasks, your crystal balls and your abacuses in no time. …if there’s nothing out of order, of course.”

His smile widened, but Alex noticed that no hint of friendliness entered his eyes. Alex began to wonder if this might have been one of his bad ideas.

‘It’s alright,’ he said to himself. ‘Better to get their questions over with.’

The group was taken through the front of the building, and led in a line through a small waiting area furnished with a desk. Five officers had bound suspects using magical chains, and were booking them with the help of several humourless looking secretaries. Three owl-men from the solicitors’ guild were in the room, regularly chastising and threatening the officers for overly-enthusiastic booking behaviours. Beyond that area was a room with a number of separate desks where investigators sat either doing paperwork, or with detainees, taking information from them. Every wall was covered in glyphs that spoiled spellcraft—similar to those outside—though these were more powerful. Alex could feel the magic coming off them.

He assumed that his group would be questioned in the room they were in, but instead, they were led downstairs to the building’s basement—a place with no windows and very little magical light—and brought to separate questioning rooms. Alex was taken along a long, dark corridor to a room with a heavy steel door inlaid with dozens of glyphs that countered just about every kind of spellcraft. One of his guards opened the door. Glyphs were etched throughout the walls, but seemed to practically cover the door.

“Go on in. Someone will be here to talk to you in a jiffy!” a friendly young investigator said—the same one who’d patted him down earlier—in the sort of voice that naturally put people at ease.

Alex looked around the room’s interior, beginning to feel disoriented. While the rest of the building was crafted from grey stone, this room was completely white. A table of white stone sat in the center, with three white chairs on either side. Every single surface was bare and perfectly smooth; his eyes couldn’t even find the corners of the room as they tried to adjust to the low light.

He suddenly realized that there were no corners.

Even though everything in the room was the same colour, it felt off…unbalanced.

The room was circular, a perfect half-sphere above the floor, giving the eye no unbroken surfaces to focus or rest on.

“Why don’t you have a seat right there,” the investigator pointed to one of the chairs.

“Gotchya,” Alex said, stepping into the room.

Thoom.

The steel door shut behind him sounding final, though he didn’t hear a bolt, latch, or lock fasten.

‘It’s okay,’ Alex. You’re not under arrest. You’re here to find out if they’re suspicious of you and try to calm their suspicions, if they have some.’

Still, that fact was hard to remember in the unbroken…silence of the room. As soon as the door shut, all the sounds from outside abruptly stopped. It was as if the outside had suddenly disappeared altogether. Inside, he could only hear the sound of his own breathing, the rustle of his clothes, and his heart beating in his ears. He turned to check the door.

…there was no door.

“What?” he whispered. Alex startled. In the unnatural silence of the room, his voice sounded too loud.

He walked over to the wall where the door was supposed to be and ran his hand along where it had been.

There. There was definitely a door there, but the seam between it and the wall was so magically perfect, that it vanished to the naked eye.

He wrapped his arms around himself.

The room was cold.

Not icy, but cold enough that it was noticeably uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough to sap his concentration and make him want to get out of there.

He went to the table and reached for a chair, sliding one out—noticing the unnatural silence when he dragged it along the floor—he sat down.

And waited.

And he waited.

And he waited.

He got up and paced.

Then sat again, glancing around.

And waited some more.

He couldn’t tell how long he was left there waiting, since there was no timekeeper on the wall, but it felt like he’d been sitting there for hours, growing more uncomfortable as the sound of his own heart and breath filled the silence. His eyes had nothing to focus on but his own clothes and hands. There were no odours in the air either, unpleasant or otherwise. He could only imagine how awful it would be to have to stay here, unable to leave. What if someone was left here all alone for days with just the sound of their own heart for company.

And what was that rushing sound in his ears?

Was that his blood?

He shook himself. If he didn’t want to look and sound like a nervous wreck when the investigators finally came, he’d need to occupy himself.

Taking a deep breath, he focused on the meditation techniques Theresa had taught him to steady himself.

Then he had a thought.

Activating The Mark, he began to focus on his language skills, and skills in pronouncing names. It responded with a series of successes during his language practices—which gave his mind something pleasant to focus on—as he also passed the time and increased his skills.

He practiced saying words and phrases out loud, switching from Common, to Rhinean, to Tarimite, to Tekish, to Selachar, to a number of languages spoken by spirits throughout the planes, and some he’d heard around campus. There were also the beginning syllables of Irtyshenan, which he’d started to learn recently.

He focused hard on that last one: if he went to that empire one day, it would be good to-

“Are we interrupting?” a voice asked.

Alex startled.

He hadn’t even heard anyone enter the room.

There were now two men in there with him: one was taller than he was, and powerfully built, while the other was older with balding, greying hair, and a pencil moustache. That one had a friendly face.

“Hello there, Mr. Roth,” the friendly-faced man said. “I hope you haven’t been waiting for too long. I’m Officer Ferrero.”

“Officer Gustavo,” the larger one said in a deep, gravelly voice.

“Oh, you can call me Al-” Alex started to stand.

“Oh that is fine.” Officer Ferrero held up a hand. “You can stay seated. Stay comfortable.”

‘Hard to do with how cold the bloody room is,’ Alex thought, looking down at a sheaf of papers that the officer was holding.

“We just need to ask you a few questions, and then you’ll be on your way,” the older man said as he and his partner slid silently into chairs across from Alex.

“Well, that’s good to hear.” Alex smiled, calling on The Mark to help keep his features friendly, sincere and comfortable. He’d never been in trouble with the guards of Alric, but he knew—when teachers were looking to find troublemakers—they’d focus on anyone who looked shifty.

The officers were expressionless as they sat down.

“Alright, then,” Officer Ferrero said. “I suppose the first question we have for you is, have you seen anything out of the ordinary lately. Anyone on your research team acting suspicious?”

Alex put his hands on the table and clasped them to ground himself. He briefly considered making a joke to break some of his own tension...but immediately decided that would be a bad idea.

“I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary, ” he said, trying to keep as calm as possible. He focused on maintaining steady, comfortable breaths.

“Mmm.” Ferrero nodded. “No one nervous, no one keeping strange hours or anything like that?”

“No more than usual,” Alex said.

“Right, right,” the officer said. “No one talking bad, or seeming resentful against the deities or any of the temples? Or anything like that?”

“No, not that I know of. Chancellor Baelin doesn’t want priests and stuff on campus, but no one else has really said anything, at least not to me.”

“Mmmm, and what about you?” Ferrero asked. “Do you have any gods that you worship?”

“Uh, just Uldar,” Alex said, though he knew he didn’t really pray much to Uldar anymore. For various reasons.

“Right, Uldar...not a temple with a lot of power in the city,” the officer said. “And you don’t have a problem with Uldar or any of the other religions in Generasi? No problems in the past?”

Alex kept his face straight, thinking about how he’d avoided having anything to do with Carey London’s more devout activities. They likely wouldn’t know about that, and if they did, he’d never been hostile toward her.

“No problems,” he said, focusing on keeping his face straight.

“Mmmm, alright.”

“Is that all?” Alex asked hopefully.

“No, I think there’s another question we need you to answer for us, Mr. Roth.”

Alex tried to predict what that question would be.

Would it be about him being at the first attack? About Minervus?

“How in the world did you get to Generasi so fast?” the officer asked, leaning in to peer at Alex.

Alex’s mind paused. “Pardon?”

“You’re Thameish, right?” The investigator said, looking down at what seemed to be notes. “Left your homeland to attend school here…and avoid this Ravener upheaval that plagues your countrymen, right? But according to the record of when the mana vampire was killed aboard the ship you arrived in Generasi on…it would have been impossible for you to get to the city so fast after you left Thameland, all things considered. Not unless you, say, teleported. Or were teleported.”

Alex called on every resource and bit of guidance from The Mark to keep himself looking calm, even though he was a bundle of panicking nerves on the inside.

“So the question is, I repeat,” Officer Ferrero said. “How did you get here so quickly, Mr. Roth?”

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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

I nearly named these guys after detectives from law and order but like three readers would have gotten the joke. 


Big thanks to all my readers—I appreciate each and every one of you—and a very special thanks to my patrons on my Patreon. There's up to 20 advanced chapters ahead on patreon as thanks for support!

If you want, I'd love it if you boosted me on Top Web Fiction through the following link.

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