Click HERE for part one.
It swung open as my knuckles came down. My hand hovered in the air as a very tired looking Dean turned away from me. He made his way back to his desk and fell into the chair behind it. There were dark circles under his eyes and his tie was pulled loose.
It was too early in the morning to look this ragged.
“What can I help you with, Miss…?”
“It’s Ms. Hawthorne,” I reminded him. Not that he would remember later. It was a big school, lots of employees. I understood.
“Ms. Hawthorne,” he duly repeated. “What is it that you need from me on this wonderful day?”
The sarcasm dripped from the word wonderful, thick as syrup. Did it have anything to do with the reason Vera had been called to a meeting this morning? The look she’d given her phone this morning hadn’t boded well and I was beginning to think that perhaps it had something to do with my predicament.
“Someone laid a blackcraft spell inside the school today,” I began. “I think that it was a kind of distraction set up so that I would be away from my duties. It… well, someone took a book from the library.”
“What does a blackcraft spell have to do with a library book?” He ran his hand through his black hair, mussing it so badly that it stood on end.
“It wasn’t a library book. At least, not yet. It was one of the books that the Head Librarian was transcribing for the database. A student came to me about sprites in the library basement and when I went to clear them out there were no sprites. Instead, I tripped a blackcraft sigil.”
“You tripped it?” He stood up so fast that his chair fell backwards. It made an awful racket when it hit the floor. I couldn’t help but flinch. “How are you standing before me if you tripped a blackcraft sigil?”
“Umm,” I stalled, cursing myself. That was kind of beside the point. He didn’t need to know about my bloodline. No one did. “Sir, you’re forgetting the obvious. Someone stole a very old, very powerful book from your library. They thought it so valuable that they dared to lay such a spell inside the school.”
He sighed, his eyes dropping away from me. Slowly, as if he were an old man, which he wasn’t, he bent to pick up his fallen chair. He dropped into it once more, planting his elbows on the desk and his face in his hands.
“This is not the first blackcraft spell tripped on school grounds today alone. Another teacher was coaxed into a similar situation very early this morning,” His eyes came up to mine. “His family is preparing for his funeral.”
I felt my stomach drop. Had it been the same sigil I’d found on the basement wall? How lucky had I been, for once, that there was a dark stain in my bloodline? I pulled my phone from my pocket and opened it to the photo of the sigil before passing it to the dean.
He nodded. “That’s what we found near his body. It was placed in the lab storage room, behind some of the singed tables. We have no idea what he was doing in there or why the sigil was planted there, but it sounds suspiciously close to your story.”
I felt my stomach drop once more. He thought that I was the one that planted the sigil. Theoretically, if I had tripped the same sigil, I should be dead. It would be a clever ruse to claim to have found the sigil and that the book had gone missing if I was the one behind it. That very well could have taken blame off of me for a while.
But that wasn’t what happened. I couldn’t tell him the real reason that I’d survived the sigil. It would cost me my job. No one wants the granddaughter of the Warlock around their children. My grandmother had done as much as she could to help me overcome my bloodline and get ahead in life. But if cat got out of the bag she’d worked so hard to seal, everything would crumble.
So, I pressed my lips shut and shrugged. He could think all he wanted. I would go back to my work and keep my nose down. If nothing else happened around me, then perhaps I’d be cleared.
The dean looked me up and down for a long moment. I didn’t dare open my mouth. His eyes narrowed, but finally he hung his head.
“Thank you for your news. Go back to work and I’ll have someone clean up the sigil. Later, have the Head Librarian bring up a synopsis on the book that seems to be missing.”
His tone had changed, becoming cold. I opened my mouth, but thought better of anything I could think of and spun around. I clenched my fist at my side, my nails digging into my palm.
What was going on?
I swung the door open to find a surprised girl on the other side. Her brown eyes were wide with surprise. She wore the high school uniform, but her lavender hair was pulled into two small buns on either side of her head.
“I-I-I’ll come back later,” she turned, ready to escape.
“I was just leaving,” I said, pushing past her.
Behind me I heard, “Shut the door, Charlie.”
I’d never seen a student go straight to the dean’s office door before, but there were other, more pressing, matters on my mind.
Blackcraft inside the school? One murder and another attempted murder in one day? What did it have to do with the book that had been stolen? The other professor had died in Lab Storage. Not far from Lab Storage was the supply shop. It was there that all of the supplies needed to cast any spell taught in school could be found. There was a rumor that there were a few other ingredients in that shop that were extremely rare.
The book. The supply shop. Someone was preparing to cast something big and probably not good at all. I couldn’t turn around and run back to the dean with my epiphany. He already suspected me of the murder. I stumbled as a thought occurred to me.
Did he already know about my bloodline?
That night I saw on my daybed, work clothes already traded in for pajama pants and a really old, worn in AMB sweatshirt. Phone in hand, my grandmother’s number had already been punched in. I’d been debating for the last two hours whether or not to call her. I knew that she had nothing to do with my grandfather anymore, but if anyone knew what that symbol was or why someone would want that book, it’d be her.
Rosalina Marten was a renowned Mage Historian. She spent her life collecting and recording anything and everything about the history of mages and their magic. That meant a lot of travel and adventures searching for artifacts and grimoires. She’s been a reckless, young adventurer when she met my grandfather. A fast and heart pounding love overshadowed the truths about him.
My phone buzzed in my hand, jolting me from my memories. A breathy laugh escaped me. Grandmother’s number flashed across the screen. I pressed the green button and held it up to my ear.
“I’ve felt you at the edges of my senses for two and a half hours now, Margaret. I must say that it was more than a little irritating,” she said without any hellos.
I rubbed my face with my free hand. “It’s been a rough day,” I said before launching into the events of the day, starting with Vera’s emergency text at InBetween and ending with the confrontation I’d had with the dean. All of left an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“This does not sound good,” Grandmother said. “Eastern European magic is about as wild as it gets. Vicious, as well. You said that you accidentally ripped it?”
I cringed, thinking she was about to reprimand me. “Uh, maybe.”
I waited while silence hung between us. It took a lot to keep from squirming where I sat even though she wasn’t actually here. Her presence seemed to leak through the phone with her voice.
Finally, she said, “This might actually be a good thing. You can cast a finding spell using the small piece and see where the book might be now. I do not advise you going by your lonesome to claim the book from the thief. I fear that whoever has stolen such a book has the power to use it or the stupidity to think so. Either one is gravely dangerous.”
“Great,” I said, without really feeling it.