Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Driving Needs, part six

The rooftop was mid-summer hot, and smelled of warm tar and car exhaust. They made a quick circuit of it, with Chris and Elyssa in the lead and Antoinette following closely behind them, but there were no scents up here, and no traces of violence. 

"Have either of you ever seen anything like this?" Antoinette asked. 

Chris shook his head, but Elyssa said, "The text said 'suspected skinchanger'. There are stories of skin-thieves, beings who change their shape by stealing skins from other creatures. They're supposed to be able to mimic anyone whose skin they stole, at least while they're wearing it."

"True stories?" asked Antoinette, "or campfire tales?"

Elyssa shrugged. "I first heard them as campfire tales, but they might have been true."


"I don't know, but it fits what we know so far. Magus Saintcrow said she found scuff-marks and blood on the third ledge down." He leaned out over the raised wall that marked the edge of the building. "I could get down there from here," he said, "or we could go back inside and take the elevator." 

Antoinette came up beside him, and Elyssa positioned herself to watch their backs. "You're sure?" she asked, sounding dubious. The balconies were arranged in neat columns, one for each room; there wasn't any obvious route down. 

"It's probably unnecessary," Chris admitted. "Whatever did the killing is probably gone, and even if it's still there it's unlikely to try to retreat off the balcony if we show up at the door." He paused, then added: "It has to know the body's on the ground."

"I hate to deprive you of a chance to risk death," Antoinette said drily, "but let's take the elevator."

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