Levi started to volunteer for the job of the distraction; The twiggy young woman would hardly pass as a guard, even in disguise, but she was fast enough to get out of a scrape. She opened her mouth to say this, but the words would never make it past her lips. Jericho interrupted with a sudden, mighty stomp that broke several of the dead merchant’s teeth with an audible crunch. The sound turned Levi’s stomach. She hastened to the closed door and pressed her ear against the carved mahogany panel, happy to give this display some space. Levi wasn’t shy about their purposes here, but some things were just too gr-
“What the hell?” She’d turned her head to warn him off the noise and, from over her shoulder, saw what Jericho was doing then. It was the luminous, green glow bathing his face that had stopped her. Levi had known that Justice’s leader was a sorcerer. He’d revealed that much when he recruited her.
But some things...things like necromancy, you didn’t fully grasp the horror of until you witnessed it in the flesh. She watched, repulsed and astonished, as this tall, bumpkin-looking man lifted his hand and raised Velleh’s body from the ground.
Levi stepped away from the door with both hands held out, palms-up, before her, and looked dubiously at Jericho. Then her gray eyes shifted to the body of Velleh Ah’bjyd. Surreally, Velleh seemed to look right back at her: His irises centered, his pupils locking straight onto her own. The macabre vision made the hairs on the back of her neck stand upright.
It wasn’t the fine, clean slash across his neck or the coat of blood still glistening down to his sternum that chilled her. Standing there seemingly on his own, he seemed almost a conscious man. Almost. There was some minute detail: His head cocked at just a degree or two off center, the limbs a bit too still at his sides. Those tiny differences--mere slivers, but uncanny because of their closeness to the margins--that unsettled Levi. But she acted. They didn’t have the luxury of hesitation; If jefe said this was the plan, then she’d spring to it.
Levi studied the room, face set, grim and calculating. The large room seemed to have two distinct sections: A sitting area, where they stood now, with a chaise lounge and two tall winged-back chairs forming an arc around a cold, dry fireplace; and a kind of sideboard or service area against the far wall--a space where the needs of the occupants might be handy but out of the way. There was a wide credenza bearing refreshments, a sweating carafe of water and a bottle of wine that had been opened to breathe, as well as an empty tea set. In the corner stood an elegantly carved hat rack or coat rack, and another door that might have led to a kitchen or butler’s catwalk. On the rack, Levi spotted a long, delicate swathe of embroidered gold fabric, like a veil or a headscarf.
“Matte, get that. We can use it to conceal his throat” she pointed as she crossed back to where the second guard lay face-down in the carpet. Levi squatted and pulled that knife back from its sheath with her right hand, lifting the fabric of the guard’s clothing away from his back with the left. With little effort she cut a large scrap from the tunic and, re-stowing the blade, brought it back to where Velleh.. stood… She wadded the remnant up like a hand towel and used it to mop up the excess blood from his neck and clothes. Luckily, Velleh had received them today dressed as one would expect from the obscenely rich and vainly opulent; the luscious crimsons, wines and violets of his silk clothes only looked a bit brownish with blood, not a gory bright red swiped across a canvas of whites or creams.
"We'll need to hide the other bodies," she added, working with the calm detachment of someone who'd done this before. In Casper she'd worked with corpses. At least with this one, she didn't have to worry about getting infected from the blood. "We don't want someone to find them while we're still being--escorted off the grounds."