Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.
Shortly we were back at the house. Mark went to the office to check for
messages. Mara made xocholotl for us, and I think the act of doing it calmed
her as much as the hot, bitter-sweet drink calmed me. Mark came in, grabbed a
Jolt from the refrigerator and sat down at the kitchen table with us.
"What did you learn?" he asked.
"A lot. Nothing. I don't know."
"Could you, like, be more specific?"
Mara said, "The office was the way Franklin said it was. The police put lines
where the body and head were found, and there was blood between them."
I held up a hand, stopping her; she looked at me with a question in her eyes,
but when I spoke it was to cast a spell: Illusion. I concentrated, projecting
on the table the scene as I had seen it.
"Yes, like that," she said. "The only thing of interest we found there was a
glass that Solomoriah says detects illusions."
"Here," I said, pulling the glass from my pocket. "Try it." Mark looked
through it at the projection on the table, nodded, and handed it to Mara who
also looked through it.
"Handy device," said Mark, "but nothing about the murder?"
"Nothing," said Mara.
"We searched the rest of the house," I said, showing each room briefly in my
illusion-view. "The only things we found that told us anything were gay
pornography magazines. Evidently Harkin was gay."
"Like that's unusual in this town," said Mark, grinning.
"Then we realized we hadn't seen a basement," continued Mara, "and we looked all
over the first floor again before we found that the pantry closet was hiding
"Secret door?" he asked, and Mara nodded.
"There was a pentacle, inscribed inside the door, hidden by an illusion," I
said. "The glass made it visible, but if not for Mara I'd have never found it.
Tracing the pentacle with a finger, then closing the closet door, was all it
took to make the entire closet slide out into the room. The basement contained
an extensive library of real magic works, and a crystalline platform which was
some sort of mystic storage battery."
"So you checked out some books from the library," he said, pointing to the books
which I had laid on the table.
"Yes. This one may be a journal of some kind, but I think it's in Latin. I
doubt it's a spell book, since there are no diagrams." I handed it to him, and
he paged through it briefly.
"It's Greek to me," he said, and I didn't get the joke. Mara groaned.
"Aren't you ever serious?" she asked.
"I was when I saw those cops coming," he said.
"That's another point," I said. "The skinny man was a technician of some sort,
and he had a bluish light that made me slightly visible."
"Could be a 'black' light," he said, "but that's just UV; if UV made you visible
then you'd never be able to hide. I don't know what it could have been."
I sat there silent for a moment. "This other book was written by Moses Rook,
one of the Conclave members. I don't think it has anything to do with the
I took the books and wandered into the living room. The journal, as we then
thought it was, did indeed appear to be in Latin, and I knew only enough of that
old language to be sure it was.
After a while I turned to the second book. On the title page, below the title
Adapting Traditional African Magic for the Modern Age and above Moses'
name, was a symbol I had never seen before. Within a thick circle five solid
black pentagons were arrayed, point-outward, in a star pattern, with additional
trapezoidal blocks toward the center of the symbol.
Puzzled, I read the introduction, but it did not mention the symbol. As I
paged further into the book I soon forgot the symbol; for I quickly realized
that this was by far the best book on modern-age magic I had yet seen.
I was fully engrossed. I didn't even notice when Mara came and refilled my cup
of xocholotl; I don't think I even thanked her. By the time Mark left I had
papers spread all over the table, covered with my scribbling in both English and
the old language.
It was six o'clock when Mara called me for supper. She had prepared a fine
supper of grilled chicken and rice with grilled vegetables, but I barely tasted
it in my excitement. "Mara, that is the most fantastic book I have ever read!"
"What's so great about traditional African magic?" she asked.
"Well," I said between mouthfuls, "I have some small familiarity with
shamanistic magic, which I learned about from Gruven Ket. He showed me the
errors in their understanding compared with the forms he taught me. This
book compares shamanistic magic to the modern theory."
I tried to frown, but it came out a smile. "I've learned more about the modern
theory today than in the almost two months since I awoke! It's all beginning to
make sense; now many of those books I 'inherited' from the Dreamwalker will
become useful." I took a "break" to wolf down more of my food. "Besides all
that, he presents numerous of those traditional spells adapted to modern form,
in English! Not Latin or Greek, which I can barely puzzle out with guidebooks.
Converting those spells to the old language will be simple."
"What kind of spells?"
"Healing, for one thing. There is a disease curative spell and a wound healer
provided. True, with my ring I don't need a wound healer, but I might someday.
A couple I already know about, like Invisibility and Flight; but there are still
several I don't know at all. There's a whole section on fire magic, and..."
At that moment, the office phone rang. Mara went to answer it, then came back
in quickly. "My love, it's Moses Rook calling you!"
I hate to admit it, but I ran to the phone. "Solo Jones here."
"Yes, this is Moses Rook," came the slightly-accented voice from the phone. "I
need you to meet me, right away. It's important. I can't tell you more."
"Where?" I asked, and he gave me an address.
"I'll be waiting outside. Please be quick," he said, and hung up.
I relayed his words to Mara. "Could it be a trap?" she asked. "Are you sure it
was really him?"
"It was just last night that I met him, so I can't be sure, but I think it was,"
I said. "He sounded agitated. I have to go."
I prepared an Invisibility spell, and another analytical Mystic Vision, then
cast a twofold duration Flight and an Invisibility on myself. "Mara," I said,
"I'm going to the back door... can I have a kiss goodbye?"
She came quickly to the door, unable to see me of course. "You'll have to kiss
me," she said, "for I don't think I can find your mouth!"
Then she puckered up, like she'd tasted a lemon, and I laughed and kissed her.
"Goodbye, my love. I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Goodbye, Solomoriah. Be careful!" I opened the door and flew out, across the
back yard and up into the early evening sky.
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