sources would there be â locally?â
Windham glanced at him, trying to read his intentions, then replied with a shrug.
âOne.â He said, dropping some of the secrecy. Â âThere is only one such grave within a hundred miles. Â Itâs in the older section of the Shady Grove Cemetery , between here and Lavender. Â Iâm sure youâre familiar with the location.â
Donovan nodded. Â There had been all sorts of strange occurrences at the particular graveyard Windham had named.
âThat place is pretty well guarded,â he said. Â âI can see how the job could be complicated.â
âAre you looking, too?â Windham asked.
âIâm looking, but not for someone to do the work,â Donovan replied. Â âI want to see to it that the one who is seeking it doesnât come into possession of this particular item.â
âHe wonât get it from me,â Windham said with a shrug. Â âI doubt heâll find a collector in the city whoâd go for it. Â Thereâs too much chance of getting caught, and the records for that section of the graveyard are sketchy. Â It might take hours just to find the right grave, and what if someone took him long ago? Â Thereâs no way to tell without digging him up, unless youâre a necromancer, and no one wants to attract attention.â
âThatâs understandable,â Donovan replied. Â âYouâre certain these bones â¦ meet the criteria?â
âAbsolutely,â Windham said without hesitation. Â âOn that much the records are solid. Â The grave belongs to Father Antoine Vargas. Â He was one of the first priests to serve at the Cathedral of San Marcos, by the Sea. Â Iâm sure you know the place?â
âIâve seen it,â Donovan said.
âFather Antoine was, apparently, very sensitive to demons. Â Â He was retired at an early age by the church for performing exorcisms. Â This would make him unsuitable, except that the first few of these ceremonies were sanctioned by The Church. Â The records I found show that he was unaccountably successful in these rituals, though the church never acknowledged it. Â He made quite a stir in other parts of the city at the time.â
Donovan nodded thoughtfully. Â âWhy is it so difficult to find his grave, then?â
âHe was not in favor with the church for the last decade of his life. Â Apparently, despite the success rate his exorcisms claimed, The Church didnât like the idea that there could be such a concentrated, acknowledged burst of evil in one place. Â He was replaced with another and given a small cottage by the beach and enough money to live off of, which it seems he used little of before one of his rituals finally claimed him. Â The grave was paid for by parishioners â not by the church â and it is marked only with a flat stone. Â The inscription, according to my sources, reads simply âGone to God.â
âOf course, locating the grave is the least of the problems,â Windham sighed. Â It was obvious he would have loved to accept this particular assignment, and Donovan had to fight back the frown that threatened to crease his brow.
âYou said the price for this job was high,â he said, controlling his voice. Â âHow open is the call?â
Windham glanced up at him sharply.
âYou arenât thinking about horning in on the business?â he asked. Â His voice had grown suddenly shrewd, and sharp.
Donovan laughed and took another sip of his whiskey. Â He turned fully in his seat to face the thin, cadaverous man beside him.
âNot a chance,â he said flatly. Â âI like what I do just fine. Â I have only two reasons for being here. Â The first is to see that this thief doesnât acquire what he needs to complete a particular ritual, and the second, if