It's well after midnight, and Archmage-General Altarrin is working late again. His office is spacious, well-lit by permanent mage-lights, and even though it's safely inside the guarded walls and thoroughly secured Gate-termini of the royal city, and tucked away behind all the protections on the Emperor's Palace, he keeps permanent wards on it. Several that are standardly taught in the Empire's mage-curriculum, another half a dozen that can be found buried deep in ancient books if someone looks with enough determination, and a handful that no one else alive knows exist. The last few, he recasts daily; to be impossible to detect, they have to be low-powered, which trades off against duration and staying power.
Lately, he has just as many enemies inside the Palace as outside. It's very frustrating.
- the alarms trigger for something, though the information they send to his mind is very confused, and almost immediately afterward they trigger for - something that is at least recognizable as a burst of powerful unknown magic.
He's already surging to his feet, reinforcing his personal shields despite the multiply redundant talismans he wears as a matter of course – it's not that physical attacks are a likely danger, here, but it's still important to be visibly, ostentatiously impossible to harm by force – and he's readying a Gate-destination in the back of his mind, and triggering a trap-spell on the inner door leading from the vestibule, that won't exactly prevent anyone or anything from leaving but will certainly make it hurt (and the outer door is sealed against all but a handful of powerful and little-known magics) - and it's only then that his conscious mind catches up.
There was a woman there. Very briefly. Then there was magic, and now there - isn't.
He doesn't have Thoughtsensing in this body. It's been rarer and rarer over time in the Empire; initially he suspected they were mis-calibrating the incentives for the mage-breeding program, and tried to correct that, but now he suspects something much closer to enemy action. He has only his Adept-strength mage-gift, but he instantly turns his Othersenses fully on the place where his wards think the magic happened. What's there?