Other people are lucky. They have parents that want them to finish college and move out before they get married and start supplying grandbabies… Argh…
Anyway… I guess I should go back a day or so and explain…
The biggest ‘how do we do this’ problem in Jack’s plan had been keeping track of the familiars. Tresmayne could do it but Jack didn’t want him concentrating on that. Finley had no trouble ‘spotting’ them but only when they were really close – and it’s unwise to expect a blade to use judgement it doesn’t have – he would tell me if any came in but it wouldn’t be possible for him to tell me when they were in a good position for the next part of the plan.
For sorcerer types, anything can be a familiar – the animal that becomes a familiar begins as a normal animal. Slayer familiars are rare because they don’t begin as normal animals – they are effectively animals with slayer abilities. That doesn’t mean they can act as slayers – a dog familiar is still a dog and not going to be able to drive a stake into a vampire’s heart. But they do have many of the same powers – enhanced strength, speed and dexterity, the ability to sense creatures, the ability to differentiate creatures from non-creatures and often enhanced intelligence.
All of which is a shame – if the Myers cats were still alive, they could handle the job easily. But we didn’t have a familiar to put to the task – and we needed to make sure that we were overheard only when we wanted to be. Also, I needed to sleep sometime so we didn’t want a early warning system dependent on me.
Or at least not just on me. Jack had been pouring over the report Mertyn had gotten for him since I’d delivered it the day before. He read it until his eyes were ready to pop out of his head. He read it until I was ready to throw things at him every time I stopped by because he was always reading it. He was beginning to get on my nerves – I think he was already on his own nerves.
“Argh – There’s got to be a way. Ever have the feeling that it’s obvious, staring you in the face and you’re still missing it?” Jack complained, tossing down the report.
“You mean like almost every conversation we have?” I smiled sweetly.
“Ha ha.” Jack shook his head, “By the way, did you get that message to Ayami?”
I nodded, “Yes sir, delivered it in person – Kimberly and Ayami were going to the Home Expo after class so I caught up to her on campus.”
“Good, good…” Jack was distracted again.
But now, so was I. Mentioning Ayami got me thinking – a lot. “Hey, Jack – can I see Arnie for a minute?”
Jack nodded, “Sure, on my bed stand.”
I went and got him. I knew exactly what I wanted so it was easy to get him to show me again. The vampire removing its coat. Ayami in Jack’s apartment. I thanked him and put him back.
“That concealment doesn’t affect blades.” I told Jack.
“What?” he turned to look at me.
“Remember…” I began as I sat back down, “Arnie saw the vampire – saw it as a vampire. He also saw Ayami.”
“Yeah, so? They were where he…” Jack paused, “That can’t be right – you said blades don’t actually see – it’s more like sensing.”
I nodded sharply, “Exactly – concealment usually messes with your ability to sense the creature – it doesn’t keep you from seeing it with the naked eye. Arnie doesn’t have eyes – neither does Finley – yet both knew the vampire was present. Finley knew what it was and tried to get your mom to slay it before it killed – but no slayer knew it was present until it dropped the concealment.”
Jack came over and kissed my forehead, “You are brilliant, you know that?”
I flushed from the compliment, but smiled coyly, “That’s not the brilliant part. I think, if they’re okay with trying, I might be able to get Mr. Myers and James to sense the sword’s call. At least Finley’s – he’s awful loud.”
I felt Finley rumble with approval.
“Okay, that get’s us the early warning…”
“Maybe more than that…” I got up, “But I’ll have to test it. Where’s the closest Goodwill?” I stopped, thinking of something else. “Gimmie.” I held out my hand.
Jack handed over the report from Mertyn. He had had to read the whole thing – I knew exactly what I was looking for. I scanned quickly and found it.
“Okay, NOW, I’m brilliant.” I told him, “They aren’t getting in – they can’t. To create an object that holds power you have to have a reasonable amount of material. Page five – mice simply aren’t big enough and a weasel is too big to go unnoticed in an apartment building.”
I handed it back to him. Jack flipped to the page and read quickly. He looked up at me with his head cocked.
I smiled – for once I was ahead of him. “The stoop – the neighborhood – they aren’t listening in inside a sanctuary – they’re listening to everyone around it. A mouse or even a weasel can hide on the street but they can’t come in here.”
Jack nodded, “That explains a lot, really. Vinnie’s been playing half blind, too.”
“Finding the familiar and letting it listen in is easy. Give me the directions to the Goodwill and call Donna.”
“Donna?” Jack asked, sitting down to write the directions for me.
“Sure, we talk on the stoop from time to time – nothing unusual about that.”
He nodded as he wrote, “How will you know when?”
“That’s why I need the Goodwill – I don’t have anything small enough at home. Your pocketknife won’t work and the only other you have that would is that bread knife which is too big.”
He turned and grinned at me, “You’re going looking for a small knife to keep in your pocket – one that can ‘talk’ and tell you the familiar is nearby.”
I nodded and smiled, “Yep. My guess is they are concealed – I haven’t noticed any but that weasel and Samantha had to clue me in about him. But it’s just normal concealment…”
“So they can’t come in here. Got it.” Jack got up and handed me the notepad he’d written on, “You really are brilliant, Madame…” He gave a formal bow and kissed my hand.
“You’re too kind, M’lord…”
Like I said, that was a few days ago. I got what I needed from Goodwill and three other thrift stores. I bought enough awakened blades to put one in every apartment right after introducing them to Samantha and Finley. If he did decide to conceal the weasels, it wasn’t going to do him any good now.
Donna and I had sat on the stoop for about a half hour when my new pocketknife let me know it felt something weird. It had never been owned by a slayer before – just a kid who tended to get into rather bloody fights – so it didn’t know what concealment was or a familiar either. I let it ‘talk’ to Samantha – it was definitely a familiar. Donna and I put on a good show and chatted for over an hour. When we left the stoop, the knife sensed the familiar leaving. I hummed a bit as I went home – mission accomplished. They would now believe I was leaving town for the week-end.