The Amber Solitaire Mysteries
By S.D. Fawkes
Chapter 55 - Revelation and Betrayal
Amber Solitaire breathed heavily, the effects of her endurance spell fading. After weeks of work and more murder scenes then she cared to remember, she finally had the mastermind cornered.
“Turn around!” She commanded. “Let me see your face.”
The cloaked figure stood, back to her, at the edge of the roof.
“You don’t want to do this.” the figure hissed. “You can’t defeat us; your only hope is to walk away before you learn too much.”
Amber scoffed “Only hope? Your wand is broken, Orlando Trevelyan is in custody, and we’ve got a team of Marshals going over every inch of your hideout. Even if you escaped me here, we’d track you down within a week. Face it Crow, your days are numbered.”
She shifted, preparing a stunning spell. There was no way she’d let them get away with it, not after what they’d done to Jack. If it was the last thing she did, she would bring the Atlas Crow to justice.
The figure laughed, a harsh sound against the quiet of twilight. “Atlas Crow… It seemed so ridiculous a name, but it’s taken on quite the significance. Perhaps it’s time to retire that persona.”
The figure turned then, facing Amber across the windy roof. “I suppose it is also my sad duty to inform you that Mr. Trevelyan will be found hanged in his cell within the hour. I hope you hadn’t been relying on his testimony for anything, My Dear Marshal.”
Amber took a step back, shocked by their words “How could you possibly arrange that! Nobody has access to those cells except…”
The full meaning of their statement hit her, nobody called her ‘My Dear Marshal’ nobody but “Justice Evensong.”
“As I’ve said before, please, call me Violet.” The figure threw back her hood, revealing an all too familiar face. The wounds from her assassination attempt were no longer visible, if they had ever been real, and her eyes blazed with an unfamiliar fire. There was no trace of the kindness Amber had earlier seen in them, only a hot fury, mixed with triumph.
“Yes, Marshal Solitaire, you’ve caught me, but my resources within your department are already destroying any evidence you’ve found, and with Trevelyan dead you have no witnesses. It will be just your word against mine, and I believe you’ll find my word carries much more weight in this world.”
Amber stood stunned for a moment, thinking back to every stage of this investigation. Jack had told her he was onto something big, but she’d never imagined it could be this. Justice Evensong was practically the only reason there had even been an investigation. She was the one who had insisted Amber work with Scaly Dave, she was the one who had interceded with the Chief to keep the investigation open. Why had she done all that if it would all lead back to her? And then it hit her. The amulet she’d worn, the one Evensong had given her ‘to help with the headaches’. The same one she had caught Scaly Dave eating after their fight in the bar.
“Mind Magic” Amber whispered.
“Indeed” replied the Justice. “It should have amplified your emotions, just enough to make you listen to your cry for vengeance. And who could blame you? A dead partner, a madman on the loose from Avernus, you wouldn’t even have been punished. It all would have been so delightfully heroic.”
“You used me! Just like you used Trevelyan! How many other people did he kill for you? Justice Valente? Zachary Long?”
Violet Evensong sighed. “A necessary evil I’m afraid. You see, I have so much more I need to do. I’ve already risen to the height of the underworld, and now I’m positioned to take my place in the leadership of the Magimundi. Think of all the good I could do there, Solitaire! Think of what I could do for mixed bloods like us! You could join me! I’m going to change the world, and you could be my right hand!”
She reached out to Amber, imploring her.
Amber stared into her eyes, strangely calm. She thought back to finding Jack Montoya’s body, so badly burned they had to use magic to identify it. She thought about Serenity; how she’d almost collapsed when given the news, as his children watched from the other room. And she thought about her own mother, whose disappearance all those years ago had set her on this path.
The two stood for a moment, silent, implacable. And then the Justice shrugged. “Very well then, I surrender. I shouldn’t have much trouble convincing everyone that you’ve gone mad with grief. I’ll be released before the day is over, and you’ll be fired, and likely institutionalized.”
Amber grinned as she stepped forward. “You might be correct, Justice Evensong, but I’ve got two things on my side; One: even an accusation of misconduct of someone at your level should be enough to disrupt your immediate ambitions.” She stood before the Justice, prepared to bind her hands.
“And two, you never asked how I tracked you down, you’ve been assuming Trevelyan gave you up.”
“Of course,” replied the Justice. “What else could have led you to me?”
“A chupacabra.” Amber grinned, tying the Justice’s hands. “They’re smarter than most people tend to assume, and Scaly Dave is smarter than most of them. Combined with their sense of smell, we followed your trail right back to the source.”
“No court would convict me based on the testimony of their next meal!” The Justice snarled. “All you’ll do is confirm your madness, and destroy any reputation you might have had left”
“Maybe,” replied Amber “If I hadn’t been recording our conversation for the last 10 minutes.”
The Justice froze, and her shoulders slumped. “I see… I underestimated you, Solitaire. It won’t happen again.”
Suddenly she clenched her fist. Amber heard a cracking noise, felt a surge of magic, and the world fell apart beneath her.
To Be Concluded in Ace of Wands: Chapter 56