True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Seventeen

I went back to my seat. Jack returned to his, accepting some papers from Mr. Chambers as he went by.  I felt a bit proud of myself – I knew instantly Jack had done the same thing that he’d done with James, only this time not the whole play by play. Jack had commented he probably should have narrowed that down when he asked James. Obviously, he had this time.

I actually took a class in high school in HMTL – totally useless now that most websites are so much more user friendly. I am a little computer savvy. However, I wasn’t surprised at all that I couldn’t begin to follow the two experts currently yammering at each other. Poor Tresmayne was completely lost. Mr. Schmidt didn’t seem to be but he wasn’t participating as much as listening so I wasn’t sure.

I watched the slow parade of creatures leaving Jack’s building. It was weirdly fascinating – a sanctuary rarely has any creatures inside it. Jack’s had become almost a pet shop. Heck, it was a pet shop if you counted all the familiars in Jack’s basement.

It startled me slightly when Jack spoke, “Hey, Chambers, what’s this one about not burning your spell book?”

Mr. Chambers turned to Jack, “Um, this will sound stupid – and it’s kind of a long story.” Getting the go ahead nod, he sighed and began, “I didn’t really know what I was doing. I found the book at a yard sale. I – I like reading poetry aloud so I bought it thinking it was just poetry in a foreign language. But it was really a spell book of familiar spells – I don’t think it has any other kind – so when I read the first one, I found I could talk to Roger, my male ferret. Scared the crap out of me at first but I kept trying it and it didn’t seem to be doing any harm. I could talk to the ferrets, the gerbils and the hamsters but not the opossum. A coworker gave me a rat his kid couldn’t keep but it died the instant it came through the door. I found out later that I could talk to any rodent except rats – they had to be kept away.”

He sighed, “I should have known it was magic or something but… It was nice, being able to, having someone to talk to at night. I didn’t see the harm – didn’t realize what it was doing to me. It’s almost like being on drugs without the high – I became more isolated, less social. Barely spoke to anyone – couldn’t wait to get home to be with my pets.”

“A week before the guy you call Vinnie showed up, a coworker brought some stuff over – old computer cards we were trying to archive. I needed a few to see what they were like so I could write the program to help us sort them once scanned. Anyway, Marcella is even odder than I am – always dressing like a gypsy and talking about spirits and stuff. She was looking around while I scanned them and noticed my spell book. She knew what it was – got all excited. Asked how long I’d been a real warlock, that kind of thing. I thought she was crazy at first but then she offered to show me my future. I got her the glass of wine she asked for and she mumbled over it.”

He paused, trying not to shudder, “I saw myself in the glass, dead at the funeral parlor. She said it was because I wasn’t really a warlock yet – I needed – oh Lord, she wanted me to literally sell my soul to the devil. I don’t even remember how I got her out of there – I just knew I never ever wanted to see her again.”

“I already had job offers in New York – I’d been searching for a job in the States for a couple years. I called the next day and took one of them. Started packing immediately – called in sick to work so I didn’t have to face her again.”

“But I still used the book – I wanted, needed their companionship. It took me a few days to realize that the book had to go. But it wasn’t so easy. I still had it the morning Vinnie came to my door. He just barged in and took over. I told him everything because I couldn’t not answer him – I did whatever he ordered. When he realized I wanted rid of the book, he gave that order not to burn it. Funny, I hadn’t thought of burning it before then.”

Tresmayne nodded, “A spell book will find a new victim unless it’s destroyed. If you were a warlock, you wouldn’t be able to destroy it – it becomes part of you and destroying it inflicts great pain and injury. You are still ensouled – you can safely burn the book.”

Jack looked from one to the other, “You are no longer bound to obey any of these orders, understood?”

Mr. Chambers nodded, overwhelmed by relief.

“Further,” Jack continued, “You are under my order not to obey any order from the man we call Vinnie unless you wish to, understood?”

“Yes!” He not only understood, he was giddy about it.

Jack sighed, “If you have something you want to go do…”

Mr. Chambers was up in an instant. “Yes! Thank you!”

He literally ran out the door and I watched him run across the street, take the steps to his building in two leaps and disappear inside.

Mr. Schmidt leaned forward, “_________ decent of you, Jack my boy.”

Jack shook his head, “If someone has to endanger their soul just to help me out, I don’t want the help. We can still make this work without him.”

Tresmayne exhaled, “Burning the book is a good step but it is only the first. He is still going to be subject to command, still endanger of losing his soul if he loses his way, still an arcane for at least the year and a day – assuming he can remain clean.”

Jack considered, “Vinnie wouldn’t know the difference unless he asked to see the book – and I wasn’t going to give him that chance anyway. Crystal’s knife brigade will do just fine – you don’t mind, do you?” He turned to me.

I made a face, “Of course not. Don’t forget Ayami and the adarna – they are both small creatures.”

Jack nodded, “I had thought of that – you’re getting good at this.”

I blushed as he turned back to Mr. Schmidt, “The hard part…”

“I know, my boy. Never fear, Schmidt is here! That werecat will be as safe as in her mother’s arms.”

Jack grinned and nodded. Then he suddenly stopped, grew very serious, and turned to James. “Text him – make sure he doesn’t take it outside.”

James’ thumbs flew over his phone. A moment later he looked up, “He’s doing it in the sink – or trying to.”

Tresmayne nodded, “Tell him to keep trying – it’s not easy but it can be done.”

James sent another text.

I was going to ask why not outside when it dawned on me that it was just barely possible word might get back to Vinnie if Mr. Chambers were seen burning his spell book. I didn’t see how at first but then it dawned on me – Mycroft and the other vampire were both still unaccounted for. Oh and that female modern I’d let go.

That got me thinking – I was sure she had been a modern, “Hey, Jack, remember that female vampire?”

He nodded, “Sure.”

“It was a modern, I’m sure of it – but I haven’t seen or sensed it since. Isn’t that kinda weird?”

He thought for a moment, “Moderns can basically do anything normal people can, right?”

“In vampires, pretty much. Banes have no real effect, daylight doesn’t bother them and they can pull stakes right back out – assuming you can get one into it.” I answered. “Mertyn said they wouldn’t enter a sanctuary willingly but other than that and consecration, they have no major restrictions.”

“Which means they are major assets – you’re right, it is odd…” Jack considered for several minutes. “It was scared of you?”

I nodded, “Terrified. It had to be young – an older modern shouldn’t want to mess with a slayer but wouldn’t be that scared of one, either.”

Jack slapped his palm to his face, “There’s another witch. Chambers just said he only did familiars – if that’s so, who’s doing the special concealments?”

“And that vampire could be all over the neighborhood without us noticing…” I continued the thought.

“Yes, but she’s not – Vinnie’s whole pack fell for a trap that they shouldn’t have if he had even half decent information. A vampire has got to be better than a mouse for some things.”

The bell rang and I got up to go answer. Mr. Chambers was back, beaming from ear to ear. I congratulated him as we resumed our seats.