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A Sorcerer in Downtown Atlanta Chapter Fifteen Turning the Tables Though Masonic Family Services put up a fuss about Tammy remaining with Dave and Maddie, they ultimately relented after Patricia's passionate defense. The rest of the evening was filled with a Family Services worker traveling to Dave and Maddie's apartment to make sure it would be safe for children. Thankfully, the recent background checks the Brightons had undergone were still on file, allowing Family Services to fast-track their application to be foster parents.

By the time Maddie and Tammy got home, both were so exhausted that they fell asleep as soon as they hit the sofa. Dave considered joining them, but he had been informed by Henry Ironside that he would be needed in a meeting with the Security Council bright and early the next morning, which by then was only a couple of hours away, so he instead relaxed his mind with caffeine and video games in the meantime. Dave strode into the meeting room hidden beneath the Pentagon and was greeted by the Security Council and Henry Ironside.

Eyota and Patricia were also there, but there was no time for idle chit-chat, made clear by Ben's swift start to the meeting.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a serious problem on our hands," Ben began. "Over the last month, no less than two major crimes have occurred that involve sorcery. Worse, both of these crimes were committed by sorcerers that have somehow managed to hide the use of their power from our detection systems.

This, as you all know, threatens to upend the peace and security MBAS has helped bring about in the global sorcery community." The meeting progressed from there as one might expect. First, Eyota recounted the results of his investigation from the unicorn attack weeks ago, emphasizing that the creature was killed with a bladed aura weapon based on all evidence gathered at the scene.

No progress had been made on identifying the attackers.


Next, Henry stepped forward and detailed the incident of the previous evening, resulting in the deaths of Latonya and Jabar Orson, as well as the attempted kidnapping of Tammy Orson. He again stated that no connection had been officially established between the two events, but a decision had yet to be made on jurisdiction for the double homicide. He also spoke of the possibility that the Illuminati were back, as per Tammy's account. Finally, Dave was asked to speak regarding the attempted kidnapping he had stopped.

"Mr. Brighton, what exactly did you see when you arrived in Arizona?" Ben asked. Dave cleared his throat and said, "When I got there, I saw the cabin in flames. I was about to put the fire out when I saw Tammy standing a few yards away. She was talking to a woman, or who I assume was a woman. Couldn't tell for sure, she wore a black hooded cloak." "Dave's deion is in line with what Tammy told us," Henry added.

"What happened then?" Ben asked. "I called out to Tammy, asked her what was going on. She said this woman was telling her that the Masons were the bad guys, that it was our fault Tammy's mom and brother died. She kept asking Tammy to come with her, said she could make Tammy strong enough to keep what happened to her family from happening to anyone else.

It was only when this woman called me a liar that Tammy refused to go with her. At that point, this woman dropped her peaceful act and tried to take Tammy with her by force." Ben nodded. "And here we come to the important part of this hearing. You fought against this mysterious woman, right?" "That's right, but it almost ended badly," said Dave.

"I could see with my own eyes that she was using sorcery, but I couldn't sense her power at all. If I hadn't been looking at her, I'd have never known.

That seems consistent with the unicorn attack slipping under the radar, too. Anyway, I was trying my hardest to break this woman's defenses, but only after Tammy got mad and stunned her with her aura energy did I have an opening big enough. I tried to get the woman's hood off before she escaped, but it was no good…" "Don't beat yourself up. You did the best you could," Patricia said to him. "I agree," Ben replied. "So, what are we going to do about this?

Chief Ironside said he found remote charges beneath the cabin, meaning Latonya and Jabar were killed without the use of sorcery." "That's right," said Henry. "Protocol dictates that we now turn the double homicide case over to the non-magical authorities, but I can't shake this nagging feeling that we're missing something, especially with Tammy saying this woman was with the Illuminati. I don't know if they really are back, but this is all too perfect to just be a coincidence, at least in my professional opinion.

How long can we hold onto both cases before we have to turn over jurisdiction?" Ben sighed, counting the days in his head. "Not sure… I have a meeting with the President right after this one to inform him of what happened. I'll see how much leeway he'll give us, but it might not be more than a few days.

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Today's Saturday, so I'd say plan to turn over jurisdiction by Monday." "Monday?" Henry snorted. "Damn, not a lot of time…" "Um, I may be able to help with all this," Dave spoke up. Ben looked at him with curiosity. "How's that?" Dave hesitated, knowing he needed to choose his words with care. "I have a, um, friend. He's not a sorcerer, but he might as well be. The guy is a whiz with computers and technology. He can find almost anything." Ben raised his eyebrows at this.

"A hacker?" Dave shrugged. "He prefers to be called a watchdog." "Mr. Brighton, I appreciate your desire to help, but I don't think turning to an anonymous hacker is a wise option. We have no way to know how trustworthy this person is." "All I can give you is my word," Dave replied.

"I've known him for years. I trust him with my life." "That's all well and good, but how's he supposed to find anything on the Illuminati?" Henry asked. "If they are indeed back, then they've managed to avoid any means of detection for quite some time.

There's no way a hacker would be able to find them." "Ah, but he won't be looking for the Illuminati," Dave grinned. "Remember, Mr. Ironside said himself that Latonya and Jabar were killed using remote charges, completely non-magical. My friend has enough connections to use that to figure out who purchased them and-" "Find the hitman!" Henry realized. "Exactly. Then, all we have to do is squeeze him for his employer. If it is the Illuminati, he should lead us right to them. If it's not them and this is all just an awful coincidence, then we give up jurisdiction on the double homicide," Dave finished.

There were murmurs of agreement around the room, but all eyes were on Ben. "I don't know," he sighed. "Seems like we'd be taking some big risks." "I agree," Dave replied, "but if the Illuminati are back, we can't afford to waffle. If I were them, I'd want the Masons to be playing it safe." Ben gave a few more moments of thought to this before nodding. "Ok, see what you can come up with. You've got 'til Monday." ***** "Jerome? Better make a pot of coffee, we've got work to do." Jerome spun around in his computer chair to face Dave.

He was getting used to Dave magically appearing every so often, but it still weirded him out. "Dave? Whatcha talkin' about, man? What kind of work?" "Illuminati work," Dave replied.

"Aw, Dave," Jerome sighed in exasperation. "We've been chasin' that wild goose for three weeks with no luck. Admit it: there's nothing to find." "Got a new angle." "New angle?" "Yeah. They struck again.

I fought one of them myself." Jerome started to squirm at this. "Dave, I dunno… sounds like this is gettin' too dangerous for me.

Maybe I should bow out…" "I understand, but I need your help. Look." Jerome leaned over to see what Dave was showing him on his phone. It was a picture of a little girl, maybe seven years old. "Cutie. Who is she?" Jerome asked. "Her name is Tammy. Her mom and brother were killed last night in a house explosion. She has no family left. We have reason to believe the Illuminati may be responsible. The sorcerer I fought with was trying to kidnap Tammy before I stopped her.

She was powerful, Jerome. So strong that she managed to hide her powers from me; I couldn't sense her at all." "Damn… so, how are we supposed to find them?

I've used every trick I know with no luck at all." "Because we aren't looking for them. At least, not directly," Dave replied. "The explosion that killed Tammy's family was caused by remote charges planted beneath their cabin.

No sorcery involved as far as we can see. Which means our best bet is to find whoever purchased the materials for the charges and see if that person can lead us to their employer." "Now that I can do!" Jerome grinned. As they started working, Jerome wondered, "So, what's gonna happen to Tammy?" "For now, she's staying with us. Family Services wanted to put her in a foster home somewhere, but this is the best option for her. And don't tell anyone, but we plan to actually adopt her once we're able to." "Fatherhood already?

You're just jumpin' right in!" "What can I say? She needs us. And maybe… we need her, too." ***** Early the next morning, Dave strode into Henry's office and tossed a manila folder onto the man's desk.

"We found him." Henry opened the folder and inspected the picture of a blond man in his thirties. His hair was buzzed tight, military style, and his facial features were rough and hard; this was clearly a man who had seen harsh things in his life.

Henry read aloud, "Karl Browning, age thirty-three. Former member of the United States Army, dishonorably discharged four years ago. During his military career, he expressed his desire to become an Army Ranger, but a series of reprimands and disciplinary actions derailed that hope.

His superiors described him as enthusiastic but uncontrolled, a blunt instrument swinging wildly who needs sharpening and a firm hand to direct his efforts. "His military career ended after a combat encounter in Afghanistan. During this encounter, there was an incident resulting in the deaths of three civilians who were well away from the heat of the fighting.

Though there was not enough evidence to show malicious intent or foul play from Browning, there was clear insubordination and failure to follow orders on his part. When combined with his previous troubles, Browning was soon dishonorably discharged." Henry eyed Dave and asked, "Did you hack the U.S. Army to get this?" Dave snorted.

"Please. Any potential employer has access to that information." "Fair enough," Henry chuckled. "The next part is where it gets juicy," Dave said. "For three years following his discharge, Browning was working as a firearms instructor at a gun range in western Texas, as well as helping out in the gun store attached to the range.

Based on his online footprint, we've discovered that he has taken several pricey vacations and even frequents high-end gentlemen's clubs on a regular basis." "So?" "So, it doesn't add up.

How does a man with a dishonorable discharge working as a firearms instructor and retail gun salesman make enough for that sort of lifestyle? We had to do some serious digging, but we eventually found this," Dave replied, pointing to the next page. "Hmm… looks like a report of a conversation between a Samuel Grant and a sheriff's deputy," Henry observed. "Yes, but it doesn't exist in the official record," Dave said. "We had to sniff around to find this. Apparently, Mr. Grant also works at the gun shop that employs Browning.

He had noticed some merchandise had gone missing and stated that Browning was the only other person with access to the missing items.

But for some reason, this report was hidden and never officially recorded. The next page may explain why." "A news article from the same town. Seems the local sheriff was alleged to have taken bribes and kickbacks from the shadier individuals in town. Not officially proven at that time, but if true, that would explain how that report got buried." "Exactly," said Dave.

"Not a stretch to think that Browning was selling guns illegally on the side while paying off the sheriff for cover." "Yeah, but it is a stretch to go from that to being a hitman-for-hire," Henry countered.

"Read on," Dave grinned. "The next page is a news report of the sheriff being arrested and removed from office for corruption once investigators finally found enough evidence. Nothing tying Browning to it directly, but enough to make Browning quit his job. He knew he wouldn't be able to keep his smuggling operation going without protection from the law. As of a year ago, he lists his job as 'self-employed' everywhere we could find, even on social media.

"Since leaving his job," Dave continued, "Browning's lifestyle hasn't really changed that much. He still frequents the same clubs and takes expensive vacations, so his income must be coming from somewhere unofficial. Not only that, but my friend was able to find his bank records.

Seems he's made some very large withdrawals of cash with regularity in the last year, possibly to purchase weapons and equipment if he has become a hitman. The final piece of the puzzle that tells me this is our guy is this." The next page in the folder showed a photograph of Karl Browning. "Where did you get this?" Henry asked. "That's from an ATM in Sedona, Arizona, which is the only large town near Latonya and Jabar's cabin.

This was taken just three hours before the explosion. He was there on the day of the murder." Henry glared at Dave. He was both amazed at Dave's capabilities and afraid at the lengths he had gone to figure this out.

Still, the picture sealed it for him; there was no way this was a coincidence. Too bad none of it had been obtained legally. "You do know this is all highly illegal… and inadmissible in court, right?" "I'm aware of that," Dave said.

"But now, we know in all likelihood who did this. All we need is a legitimate way to prove it." Henry thought for several long seconds until he remembered something. "Wait! One of my men said that he gathered a piece of evidence from the scene! See, we were able to tell that the explosion was triggered by remote charges due to the residue left behind from the blast. But we confirmed it when we found that one of the charges hadn't been completely destroyed in the explosion." "One of the charges failed to detonate?" Dave asked.

"Apparently so. My men worked it over and found a couple of partial prints, not enough to run through any databases. But if we have a strong hunch that this guy is the one, we could cross-reference his prints and see if they match!" "It's worth a shot." Dave followed Henry to a nearby lab where Henry retrieved the results of the tests on the remote charge.

The three partial fingerprints were tiny, not nearly enough to be run on their own, but he then checked them against the prints they had on file for Karl Browning from his military record. Less than a minute later, the computer gave them their answer. "Holy shit, it's him!" Henry said. "Nice work, Brighton!" "Thanks. Any worry from these being incomplete fingerprints?" Dave asked.

"On their own, yeah, they would be. But all three partials are a match to Browning's right thumb, index, and middle fingers. According to the computer, each individual match is about 85% accurate, but all three together bring it to a 99.7% chance of a positive match.

We've got him." "Now, we just need his employer…" "That shouldn't be a problem," came a voice from behind them. Dave and Henry turned to see Charlie Larusso entering the lab. "Charlie, glad you could make it!" Henry smiled, shaking Charlie's hand.

"Dave, you remember Mr. Larusso, right?" "Of course, your top prosecutor," Dave replied. "How're you doing?" "Better than I deserve," Charlie grinned.

"Listen, I really am sorry how the trial ended up-" "After everything that's happened the last few weeks?

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Already forgotten," Dave assured him. "We've got more important things to worry about." "Agreed," said Henry. "I asked Charlie to stop by for his professional opinion on the evidence we've found so far. What say you?" "Obviously, not all of it is admissible," said Charlie, "but even without the evidence you and your source obtained, I'd have no problem getting a solid conviction against Mr.

Browning. Any state prosecutor worth their salt would tell you the same. If we play our cards right, he'll sing like a bird when we demand his employer." "How do you know he won't just lawyer up and drag this out?" Dave asked.

"Leave that to me," said Henry. "I just got word that the Arizona AG has Browning in custody; I'm going to interrogate him right now. You just get to the funeral. Tammy needs you. I'll let you know what we find out." ***** Henry stared through the window into the interrogation room, studying every aspect of Karl Browning he could see. The man was stone-faced, cold, and unfazed by his surroundings. But Henry knew he could be broken. All he needed was the right leverage. After placing an invisible ward around the interrogation room to prevent magical interference, Henry glanced to his side and eyed Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who thought Henry was an FBI agent.

The two of them had put together a solid plan of attack. If they stuck together, they should end up with what they want. "You ready for this?" Henry asked. "Let's do it, Agent Ironside." Henry entered the interrogation room with authority, allowing the door to slam against the wall as he made his way to the seat across the table from Browning. Brnovich stood by the door, his eyes never once leaving the suspect. Henry opened the manila folder in front of him and flipped through several pages before speaking.

"You've had quite the career, Mr. Browning," Henry said. "U.S. Army, firearms instructor, and now… professional hitman." Browning snorted. "Don't know what you're talkin' about…" "What am I talking about?" Henry chuckled. "Oh, just a little incident up on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon back on Friday night.

A cabin exploded. A mother and her little boy are dead. And you're the one who did it." "You've got nothing-" "WE'VE GOT YOUR PRINTS, ASSHOLE!" Henry roared. He then pulled out a picture of the one charge that survived the blast. "Right here, three prints, all leading to you. Seems you didn't do as good a job covering your tracks as you thought." "Lawyer," Browning sneered.

Both Henry and Brnovich grinned at this. "Oh, you want a lawyer, do you?" Henry asked. "Ok, we'll get you a lawyer, no prob. But remember, the moment that lawyer gets here, any deals are off the table for good. Anyway, let's go get Mr. Browning here a public defender." As the two men were about to leave, Browning asked, "What deals?" Henry glanced at him from over his shoulder. "I can't tell you if you still want a lawyer.

You're saying you don't want a lawyer?" "Not yet," Browning said. "I'm not guilty, but I'm not stupid neither. Tell me about this deal of yours. Knowledge is power, yeah?" Henry smiled and sat back down.

"Mr. Browning, we've got your prints on the device that killed Latonya and Jabar Orson. That's plenty to get us a search warrant of your home, where I'm guessing we'll find the detonator. Game over. We got you for double homicide. Oh, and Jabar Orson was only ten years old. You might want to ask Mr. Brnovich over there what that means." Browning's eyes went wide as Brnovich said, "The murder of a minor child automatically qualifies the perpetrator for the death penalty in Arizona, and I intend to seek the death penalty in this case." "Man, oh, man… see, I could take you in on federal charges of domestic terrorism, but I'm inclined to let Arizona stick a needle in your arm," Henry continued.

"But?" Browning asked. Henry leaned forward to put his face inches from Browning's. "But I eat punks like you every morning for breakfast, you dig? You're nothing but a fly on my windshield, not worth my time.

I don't want you. I want whoever hired you." "If I were to have done this," said Browning, "and if someone had hired me, why would I give that up to you?" "We'll take the death penalty off the table if you plead guilty and give us your boss." "Not good enough," Browning replied, leaning back in his chair.

"If I plead guilty, I want out of prison. C'mon, just the possibility of parole. You can do that, can't ya?" Henry eyed Brnovich, who then said, "Twenty-five years for each victim, fifty years total. Possibility of parole in forty years, and that's if we get a conviction on your bosses. Take the deal, Mr.

Browning. It's the best you'll get." Browning smirked.

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"Deal." Henry nodded. "Ok, tell us everything." "Yeah, I hit the cabin," he replied, coughing a couple of times. "Didn't know the lady and the kid. Didn't care.


Just a job." "Who hired you?" Henry pressed. "Couple of bozos. Paid well, though," said Browning through his now constant coughing and hacking. "You ok?" Brnovich asked. "Yeah, just need some water…" "How much did they pay?" Henry asked, producing a bottle of water. "$200,000." "Big payday," Henry said with a slight whistle. "Who are these bozos?" Browning was now sweating profusely. "Uh… Corporate types… called themselves…" At that moment, Browning's coughing reached a crescendo.

No longer a mere annoyance, he was clearly having trouble breathing. Browning attempted to stand from the table, but crumpled over on the floor a moment later in the fetal position.

"Browning! Hey, talk to me, man. You ok?" Henry said rushing to his side.

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Browning's eyes went wide as he seemed to realize what was happening. With all the strength he could muster, he croaked, "Adam… Xavier… Knigge…" "Browning? Browning!" It was too late. With a final grunt, Karl Browning breathed his last and fell limp on the interrogation room floor. "What happened?" Brnovich wondered. "Secure the room. Nobody in or out," Henry ordered him.

Once that had been done, he cast a disorientation spell on Brnovich to ensure he would not notice what Henry was about to do. Henry then activated his aura and performed a scan of Browning's body. It took a minute or two of deep probing, but he at last found what he was looking for in the man's throat. "An asphyxiation spell… looks like it was implanted within him and could be activated anytime from anywhere in the world," Henry realized.

"But how the hell did it get through my wards? "Unh… what happened?" Hearing Brnovich regaining his wits, Henry said, "Your part in this is over. I'll take Mr. Browning off your hands." "What?! But this case is Arizona's jurisdiction!" "A suspect that had just confessed to double homicide died mysteriously in your custody. Do you really want to have to explain how that happened? This is now FBI jurisdiction and everything that's happened today is now classified.

I'm taking Mr. Browning, and I," Henry emphasized, flashing his badge once more, "was never here." ***** "I got your call," Dave said as he entered Henry's office. "What'd you find out?" "We interrogated Browning. He confessed to attacking the cabin, but died right as he was telling us who hired him," Henry replied.

"Died? How?" "I examined his body and found traces of an asphyxiation spell, confirmed by our medical examiner.

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It's a spell someone planted inside his body that can be activated anytime by a mere thought." "Like a boobytrap?" Dave asked. "Exactly," Henry nodded. "All we have to go on is his last words: Adam, Xavier, Knigge. That's what he said." After a moment's thought, Dave replied, "Adam, Xavier, and Knigge… those names don't ring a bell to you?" "No," Henry admitted.

"Adam Weishaupt, Xavier von Zwack, and Adolph Knigge were the three most influential members of the original Bavarian Illuminati society." "Of course! I knew that sounded familiar," Henry realized. After searching on his computer, he continued, "Look here. There's an American company called Adam, Xavier, and Knigge, LLC. That's the only meaningful result.

Do you think your, uh, 'friend' might be able to help find the connection?" "He might. He just might," Dave grinned. ***** "Think you can do it, Mr. Wizard?" "Hacking a corporate system?

So not a problem," Jerome chuckled. "Let's see what y'all got under your fingernails, Adam, Xavier, and Knigge." As Jerome began his work, he proceeded slowly to allow Dave to enhance his hacking with sorcery, ensuring they wouldn't be detected.

They soon dove deeper into their system, searching for any confirmation that someone from this group had ordered the hit on Latonya and Jabar.

A few minutes later, he found what he was looking for. "Jackpot. Got access to their financial records." "What can you see?" Dave asked. "Mostly normal expenditures, nothing out of the ordinary.

But a week ago, they had something that cost them a pretty penny, over $200,000." "That's got to be it! The hitman said he was paid two-hundred grand." "No proof yet that it was used for that, but it's a start," Jerome nodded. "Let's see if we can backdoor into their email servers and find some confirmation." After saving a screenshot of the financial records, Jerome tried a few different tactics to gain access to the company's emails.

Each one was met with frustration, however. There were not only the standard security protocols in place, but also magical defenses to stymie his efforts. Thankfully, Dave was able to work his way through their web of protections to find Jerome an alternate way in through the Wi-Fi. "Here we are!

Ok, let's see what we can find," Jerome muttered. "Try searching for any emails mentioning Tamara Orson," Dave suggested.

"Hmm… looks like they scrubbed most everything on that topic, but here's one they missed." Pulling up the email, Jerome read aloud, "Target elimination is on schedule. Recommend immediate recruitment of Tamara Orson. Due to the unusually high potential she possesses, it has been determined that failure is unacceptable. If recruitment becomes impossible, terminate with extreme prejudice.

By order of the Illuminati High Council." "Holy shit… print that screen, Jerome." "Way ahead of you." As Jerome reached for the printer, he heard an alert chime from his computer.

"Dammit! They're tryin' to counter-hack me!" "Don't worry, I've got this. Pulling you out," Dave said, placing a hand on his computer and disconnecting Jerome from their servers with his aura.

After checking the integrity of Jerome's security, he continued, "Ok, we're clear. Nothing trying to gain access to your machine." Jerome slumped back in his chair, breathing a huge sigh of relief. "That was too close." "I agree. I'll take it from here, Jerome. Your part's done." "You think they'll come after me?" he asked with worry in his voice. "Nope. Remember that safeguard I put in place? Your computer system is untraceable to anyone.

They probably ran into a magic barrier of some sort just now like we did before," Dave replied. "Would they be able to know it's yours?" "I doubt it," Dave shrugged. "Only if it was someone who actually knew my magical signature.

Other than that, I think we're clear." ***** The four members of the Illuminati High Council surrounded the young woman who had been tasked with recruiting Tammy Orson into their ranks. She trembled with fear and apprehension; she knew she had failed in her task, but did not know what punishment would be given in reply.

The Council listened in silence to her account of the situation, paying close attention to her deion of Tammy's power and her skirmish with Dave Brighton. When she at last finished, one of the Council spoke. "You have caused us a great deal of trouble. This was to be a simple assignment, yet one of the utmost importance.

You were to recruit or capture Tamara Orson at any cost, and if unable to do so, eliminate her, denying the Masons the benefit of her power. But instead, you allowed David Brighton to meddle with that girl's emotions. Now, the Masons have her under guard. We will not be able to get close to her with any reasonability." Another continued, "But worse was your careless indiscretion in mentioning to Tamara Orson who it is you represent.

It will only be a matter of time before the Masons learn this from her and begin to suspect our existence, an existence that we have strived to maintain in secret for well over a century. Thanks to your blunder, it may well unravel before our very eyes." The woman gulped and responded, "With respect, we do not even know that this will come to pass.

I can personally guarantee that Tamara Orson was traumatized by the entire experience two nights ago. It is highly unlikely she will be able to remember most details of what happened, let alone a single word that was mentioned in passing.

In addition, I received word from Charlie Larusso that the Masons were closing in on Karl Browning and ended his life to prevent him from giving us up. I do understand the Council's apprehension, but-" "Excuse me, I hate to interrupt, but I have just received pertinent information to these proceedings," one of the Council said.

"My subordinates have just informed me that our legitimate business in the United States, Adam, Xavier, and Knigge, has just suffered a cyberattack. It was quick and targeted, obtaining only a small amount of very specific information from our servers." "What information was stolen?" another asked.

"Two things. First, they obtained last month's financial records, which we had not been able to alter yet to hide our payment to Mr. Browning. Secondly, they seem to have discovered an email sent from this Council with instructions regarding Tamara Orson." Turning back to their target, the Council member continued, "I believe you were instructed to clean all communications regarding this incident, were you not?" "I… I-I was, I mean, I did…" "Apparently not.

And worse yet, our efforts to counter the hacker and trace his location were stymied by sorcery. We have no way to know who it is that carried out this attack, but it is clear they were either a part of or being aided by the Masons. Now, it is only a matter of time before the Masons realize the Illuminati still exist and track us down. It seems we are now left with no choice." Before the woman could respond, the four Council members had ensnared each of her limbs with a whip of dark aura energy.

Her skin burned as they stretched her body taut in midair. She attempted to escape with her own power, but her Channel would not respond; it was as if her Shroud was blocking her ability to use sorcery altogether.

Her eyes bulged as the pain increased from her limbs nearly being pulled from their sockets. At last, when she thought she could take no more, a massive spike of dark energy appeared beneath her and pierced her chest, mercifully ending her life.

After disposing of her body, the Council pondered what to do. "Send for Charlie Larusso and his apprentice."