- Magic Club 5 #1 – Bad Moon on the Rise
- Magic Club 5 #2 – Werewolves of Fredericksburg
- Magic Club 5 #3 – Of Wolf and Women
- Magic Club 5 #4 – Hungry Like The Werewolf
- Magic Club 5 #5 – Little Red Riding Hood
- Magic Club 5 #6 – Bark at the Moon
- Magic Club 5 #7 – The Animal She Has Become
- Magic Club 5 #8 – She-Wolf
Elle craned her neck to look over Jennifer and Theresa’s shoulders as the two more proficient members of the Magi Club poured over the pin, which was now sitting at the center of a pair of chalk magic circles on one of the meeting room’s low coffee tables. The inner circle blocked the scrying beacon, the outer was part of a second spell.
“Are we sure this isn’t just a red herring?” She asked.
“I thought you would be asking what we were doing.” said Jennifer, carefully removing small items out of her curse kit.
The self-styled beast master shook her head. “Maybe later, but right now, I’m thinking about what if we were right about Angel being evil—sorry Angel—and this was just something to throw us off. I mean, we only found the stupid pin because of her grabbing Jeremy’s jacket in the first place.”
Jeremy, who was still sitting with Angel on the bench seat, gaze the werewolf a sidelong look. “C-can werewolves even be spellcasters? Isn’t that two kinds of magic?”
“Depends on the kind, from what I’ve read.” Jennifer placed pieces of sea sponge around the perimeter of the magic circles with Theresa following behind with an eyedropper, soaking them in an infusion of prepared herbs. “Angel and Garth’s kind are sort of contaminated with a powerful spell one of their ancestors cast on themselves or had cast on them. The diluted spell could interfere with spells Angel might cast, but not one hundred percent of the time.”
“So she could have planted that pin.” Elle concluded.
Taking up one of the needles, Jennifer whispered a quick word of power over it before stabbing it through one of the tiny sponges and into the table’s surface. Only once it was in place did she reply to Elle’s query. “Only if she’s stupid. The blood can be traced back to the caster and the spell can be traced back to whatever focus she’s using to listen to the scry through. Plus, a listening scry would be useless if she’s been with Jeremy this whole time.”
Counterspells and counter-tactics weren’t Elle’s thing, but that last bit of logic worked for her. “Oh. So what are you doing now then?”
“Building a curse.” Theresa answered for Jennifer as the other was speaking words of power over a second needle. “A spellcasting jinx.”
Jennifer grinned a savage grin as she sank the new needle into place. “The next time our hunter casts a spell, the jinx goes off and blocks his ability to concentrate on it. His casting will be shut out for hours—maybe days.” With that explained, she took up a third and final needle to complete a triangle of power.
“Are we sure they’ll cast a spell?” Angel asked, fidgeting with her hands. She hadn’t said a word while Elle made her accusations, not even a whimper.
“Granted we don’t have a ton of experience with evil spellcasters,” Jennifer admitted, setting the last needle in place, “but I can’t imagine they’ll try coming after you during a full moon without casting something.”
With the array complete, Theresa got out of Jennifer’s way and let the defacto leader lean over the pin, muttering the spellwords—a mixture of Germanic and Russian expressions blended together. The pieces of infusion-soaked sponge ignited in unison, their flames somehow intense enough to leave the needles glowing a dull orange.
At the center of the twin magic circles, the pin began to vibrate until its violent motion caused it to stand up on its point. The drop of blood sealed in its head began to glow red like a foreboding and distant star.
The room fell silent as the Magi Club members, plus Angel stared as the glittering point, which was both beautiful and baleful all at once.
Slowly, the heated glow of the needles dimmed, seeming to drain the brilliance form the core of the pin head until they were back to normal and the light within the drop of ensorcerelled blood was tamped down to the point that it might have been mistaken for a trick of the light.
With the pin still standing on edge, Jennifer extended her hand over it and intoned: “This is my weapon. Taken from the one who calls power against me. Twisted back to strike at them as a viper. Retribution. Retribution. Thy spells die on your tongue and slip away from the grip of the mind.”
Once she was done, the pin started to tip over, only to be snatched up in her hand.
After another long moment of quiet, Jeremy piped up. “What now?”
Holding the pin up for everyone to see, Jennifer took charge once again. “This will tell me next time they use a spell, so we’ll know when they’re gearing up to come after Angel.” She then turned her attention to the woman in question. “I hope you understand that until this is over, you can’t be alone.”
“I’d really rather not be in any case.” Angel admitted.
Jennifer nodded. “Good. Now I’d better get in touch with Occult. The rest of you should think up a place we can move this to since we won’t be able to keep the meeting room for the rest of the night.”
While she got out her palmtop to send a message to Occult, Theresa got to work cleaning up after the curse ritual. Elle, Jeremy and Angel were left trading awkward glances.
“So.” Elle spoke up, realizing that the two quiet people wouldn’t. “We can’t go to Angel’s room, because that’s where the bad guy will go first. And I think she lives in Ball like us, so me and Jen’s room is out too. How about your place over in Christianson Hall, Jeremy?”
In Jeremy’s mind’s eye, he envisioned his room as a smoking, blasted heap following whatever super-battle was now fated to happen with Occult getting into the mix. This was quickly dismissed by the images conjured up by the description of Garth’s injuries being superimposed on Angel.
“I-I guess that would be okay. My roommate’s probably going to spend the night with his girlfriend—he does most nights.”
“Perfect!” said Elle, though he expression faltered when Angel timidly raised her hand. Not even Theresa raised her hand to be called on. “What.”
It wasn’t a question, and her tone made Angel flinch. “I… was just going to ask if I heard you right. You’re calling Occult? Occult from The Descendants?”
Pride practically oozed out of Elle’s pores. “Oh yeah,” She said, giving a casual wave. “Ever since we helped them take down the crazy chick with the tower and destroy that stupid clock tower, we’ve seen her almost every week. She’s like out magical sensei, only without the sweet flowy mustache.”
“We’re not that close.” Jeremy said hurriedly. “And she mostly comes here because we found some books on magic that go digitized here that she didn’t know about.”
Angel looked down, studying her hands. “That’s still pretty incredible. Y-you know, Garth was really into the whole prelate thing. He wanted to get better control of the lycanthropy so he could be one. Even though it hurts when we try and change when it’s not during the full moon, he was willing to try.”
“You don’t have control?” Elle said, taking a step back from her. “I thought you didn’t go all murder-wolf when you changed and that was why we were helping!”
“No,” Angel started to stand, then thought better of it. “It’s not that we go insane when we change. Actually, that was part of the problem. We get the senses and the strength, but we none of the instincts. We have to learn to be wolves in wolf form and hybrids in hybrid form. That’s why Garth was practicing.”
Elle ceased her retreat and her eyes narrowed in thought. “So…not only do you not turn into the supernatural’s perfect killing machine, but you’re actually pretty bad at being killing machines?”
“I think that’s not how she’d put it.” Jeremy said flatly.
“No, wait. I’ve got a point here,” said Elle, “I don’t remember seeing any spells in any of our books that would turn us into close-quarters badasses. Garth was…” For once, she held her tongue in deference to Angel’s loss. “…well the way they found him proves that whoever this is, they like to fight up close and they’re good at it. Not sure how much that helps us, but it’s something, right?”
“Actually…” Behind them, Theresa had finished pulling the needle’s out of the table’s surface and was washing away the chalk with a wet-nap. She paused in her work to ponder Elle’s observation. “The real question is: ‘does the vânători care that Angel and Garth aren’t threats?’”
Elle made a face. “Why’s that matter?”
Jennifer finished texting and cleared her throat to get their attention. “I think Theresa’s pointing out that we’ve already made this mistake once already. Don’t lie: every one of us just assumed we were going to be dealing with slavering monsters when I first figured out werewolves were involved. And even once we met Angel, we suspected her and worried about Jeremy’s safety—sorry about that, by the way.”
“I understand. You were worried about your friend.”
“Right.” Jennifer affirmed. “Right now, we’re again just assuming the worst of the vânători because they’re doing the same thing we thought we’d be doing this morning. Werewolf hunts back in the day were the same as witch hunts or the Red Scare: fueled by panicky idiots who don’t stop and try and get all the information before acting.
“We can’t afford to be panicky idiots. Our powers can do real damage and I don’t want to do that damage to someone who doesn’t really deserve it. So for now, we’re going to fall back and plan for what they’ll try next when Occult gets here in a couple hours. Do we have a place to hole up?”
Elle, deciding that Theresa and Jennifer had good points, brightened instantly. “Yes! And since we’re going to be stuck hanging out together until Occult gets here, I declare a movie night!”
A tone chirped as someone came through the automated doors at a convenience store in downtown Fredericksburg.
The clerk, a college student by day, was sitting on a stool behind the register reading a textbook off of his tablet. He offered a bored nod before getting a better look at who just came in and added what he hopped was a handsome smile.
Said smile was returned, though even he could tell it wasn’t very genuine. Its owner was on a mission and not to be diverted. “Do you have a printable phone machine?”
“Yeah, in the back next to the magazine download kiosk.”
“I can add my own ringtones, right?”
“It’s been forever since I needed to use one, but yeah, if you’ve got a SoundStorage account.”
“Three bucks extra.”
“Need any help working it?”
Another smile, this one sincere. “No, I know just what I need…”
An hour later, the Magi Club and Angel had relocated to Jeremy’s dorm room, pizza had been ordered, and popcorn had been made.
As promised, his roommate was not in evidence, though his taste in decoration did not go without comment.
“I should do this to our room.” Elle said, looking at the virtual collage of posters that covered the wall next to Darren Perry’s bed. All the scantily clad, glistening flesh was hypnotizing her.
“Oh no you don’t.” Jennifer said, helping herself to a slice of mushroom and bell pepper pizza with extra cheese. “It’s sick. It’s exploitative. And you can’t tell me that any one of those bodies is natural.”
“Come on, you know it’s great. Isn’t it great, Theresa?” Elle nudged the small blonde, who was dutifully keeping her eyes averted from the spectacle on the wall.
“Shouldn’t we be paying attention to the movie?”
“Aww.” Elle grinned at her friend. “She’s shy!”
“Or she doesn’t like ogling muscle men.” Jeremy muttered, spindly arms folded as he leaned back against the wall. He was sitting at the head of his bed while Elle sprawled catlike across the rest, Jennifer and Theresa sat on the floor at the foot, and Angel sat on her own in a chair between his bed and Darren’s. From there, he could tell that aside from morally offended Jennifer, the other three girls—even hurt and frightened Angel—couldn’t help but steal looks at the bodybuilding posters Darren plastered all over the room.”
Jennifer looked over at them with disdain. “What I want to know is: why does he have some on the ceiling?”
“Have you met Darren?” Elle asked with a snort. “Dude’s huge. These guys are inspiration to increase his hugeness. Man, if only he didn’t have a girlfriend. Imagine all those nicely oiled, muscles just rubbing up against—”
Blushing red enough to almost glow, Theresa seemed to be trying to collapse into herself. For her sake, Jennifer spoke up. “This movie is…” she faltered because she was about to praise it in hopes of getting the others to just shut up and watch. “…not very good, is it?”
“It’s a remake, what do you expect?” asked Elle, taking a sip of her soda before putting it back down on the floor near the bed. “What I want to know is why they called it Episode 7. Were movies titled like that back when the originals came out?
Jeremy shrugged. “Trust me, the originals aren’t any better. I took Film History last year and tried to do my finals project on it. I got through Episode 3 before giving up. The weird thing is, Four through Six were made first and Seven through Nine were made like thirty years after them.”
“Four through Six were very good.” Theresa said quietly and, as she expected, was ignored.
“People in the past were dumb.” Elle concluded. “We should have gone with my idea of a movie.”
Twisting around and raising up to see here, Jennifer gave her a glare. “For the lat time, we’re not going to watch werewolf movies with a werewolf. Can you please at least pretend to be sensitive to what Angel’s going through?”
Elle gave an affronted huff. “I am being sensitive. I picked movies where the werewolves were good guys—and that’s pretty hard, let me tell you. It’s to show we totally accept her. You get that, don’t you, Angel? Uh…Angel?”
The young woman in question was cringing with her eyes closed.
“Okay, maybe I was wrong.” said Elle, hopping off the bed so as to move closer to Angel. “Look, I’m really sorry. Maybe it was kind of a stupid idea.”
“It’s not you.” Angel whispered through clinched teeth. “It’s just that… that noise. It’s driving me crazy.”
Theresa grabbed the remove and paused the movie. Everyone paused to listen.
“What noise?” asked Elle.
Jeremy crawled off the bed to stand next to her. “Are you feeling okay?”
“You can’t hear it?” Angel opened her eyes to look around the room for any sign of discomfort. There was none—at least not physical. “It’s like a drill going right between my eyes.”
Grasping her head, she got to her feet. “It just keeps going. It doesn’t stop. I… I think I need to to—” she cut off with a gasp and a groan. “Oh god… I need… I need to get away from it!”
Before Elle or Jeremy could do anything, she bolted, fleeing from the room with one hand pressed to her temple.
Elle whirled around to face Jennifer. “Was that a spell? Check your curse thingie!”
“Do it on the way!” Jeremy said, moving to the door. “We’ve got to go after her!”
To Be Continued…