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"So, how do you like your teacher? You got Howlen, didn't you?" G asked as the trio walked away from the classroom.
"I don't think I ever had a teacher before who asked me what I thought about things or let me choose anything important." Lucky said quickly.
Lex nodded his agreement, then added, "No matter how great the other teachers are, Mr. Howlen seems to be going out of his way to help us. This isn't about his job or our grades. He saw that we needed help and decided to help us. Now, we need to make sure that he never has a reason to regret it. We've got to put in the work that we promised to."
"What kind of project are you guys going to work on?" G asked curiously as they walked at a casual pace.
"I don't know how much Mr. Howlen is sticking his neck out for us so it'd probably be best if we didn't spread it around. But basically, Mr. Howlen said that he'd help us figure out how to make Zah Zah okay to be around people.... you know, not so vicious all the time." Lex carefully explained.
"Can you even do that with sorcery?" G asked curiously as they ambled along.
"Maybe." Lex offered uncertainly, then explained, "Mr. Howlen thinks that there are some self-aware magic mirrors and illusions and stuff that are made that way with sorcery. So far, everything I've found has pointed to all that being done with god-powers or necromancy, but we've only just started."
"Well, if you need any help with the necromancy stuff, I know some people who should be able to help you." G said frankly.
"Actually, I think Zah Zah has a little too much spirit, the last thing we need is to try sticking another one in there." Lex said honestly.
"But do you think it'd make her be able to have good thoughts and happy dreams?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"What's that?" G asked curiously.
"If Zah Zah had a spirit, would that make her so she could be able to smile and laugh?" Lucky asked hopefully.
"I don't think cats normally do that." Lex said slowly.
"No. But I see what he's asking." G said simply, then explained, "I don't know if it would work or not, but it sounds like a valid question."
"What question? I think I missed it." Lex asked hesitantly.
"He was asking if we need to give Zah Zah a soul." G said seriously.
"Good luck with that. I don't even know if I've got one, much less, how to give one to Zah Zah." Lex said honestly.
"You have one. I've already seen enough to know that without a doubt." G said without hesitation, then continued, "And if you determine that you need to recruit a soul, I suggest that you talk to Karras or Vinda. They know all the ins and outs of it and will keep you from making any rookie mistakes."
"Do you think we should just go ahead and do that?" Lex asked cautiously.
"No. You need to do your research and see if you can find your answers using sorcery. Not only will you be helping Zah Zah that way, but you might end up learning what you need to know to help Lex, in case something goes wrong with his base spell one of these days." G said seriously.
"It took you guys long enough! There are vans waiting for us, remember?" Vinda asked impatiently from the hallway intersection ahead of them.
"Real world." G said quietly to his companions, then more loudly he called out, "I was grilling Lucky and Lex about their first day of classes. You guys are just jealous because you didn't get to them first."
"As much as I'd like to hear all about that, we really do need to get outside before the vans leave without us." Vinda said urgently.
"Well then, lead the way." G said as the trio increased their pace.
* * * * *
The two groups merged and moved outside to the curb where the vans were already lined up, waiting for their expected passengers.
"That's not your usual van, is it?" Curtis asked as he pointed at what might be described as a small luxury bus.
"No, it isn't. But I think that's Tony, our regular driver. We'd better get over there and find out what's going on." G said seriously.
"Hey! Before you go, how did you guys like your first day?" Curtis quickly asked.
"It was alright. It looks like we ended up with some really good teachers." Lex answered for both of them.
"Remember to tell us all about it on Monday." Curtis said as he stopped by his own van.
"Yeah. We'll do that." Lex said before he was whisked away by Paul and G.
Lucky seemed to be about to say something, but instead, gave Curtis a helpless, apologetic look before hurrying to follow the others.
* * * * *
"Hey Tony! What's with the new bus?" Paul asked uncertainly from the open passenger side door.
"We couldn't safely fit more people into the van. So when the transport company was notified that you had two more scheduled riders, they decided that it would be better to get us a bigger vehicle, rather than hire a second driver and send two vans for the same route." Tony said seriously.
"I guess that makes sense." G said as he cautiously followed Paul aboard.
"It's got that new car smell." Lex said as he tried to see every detail at once.
"I've got a list of the new passengers, but I'd still like to be introduced, so that I'll know you by sight." Tony said as his seat pivoted so that he could easily talk to his passengers.
"I'm Lucky Darroch, Paul and G's cousin." Lucky said seriously.
Tony looked him over one time, then said, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Lucky. My name is Tony, and I will be your regular driver."
Tony turned his attention to the next boy in line and said, "By process of elimination, you must be Lexington."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Lex, I'm Tony, as I was telling Lucky, I'm your regular driver. If anyone else arrives to pick you up, make sure that you question it and receive satisfactory answers before leaving the school grounds with anyone you don't know." Tony said seriously.
"Yeah. I'll be careful." Lex said cautiously.
"Let's see... I see Catherine, I see Sandy, has anyone seen Dexter today?" Tony asked as he reviewed his clipboard.
"We had a project outside of school for a few days. He's probably resting up from that." G easily explained.
"Since he didn't ride in with us, that checks out." Tony said as he put his clipboard away and turned his seat facing forward.
"Settle in and get comfortable. We're riding in luxury now." Tony said happily before starting the engine.
* * * * *
Due to the larger vehicle, the boys didn't have to climb over each other to get to their seats.
Paul and G took their customary seats in the far back, but were surprised to find that the large bench seat had more in common with a sofa than any typical car seat. Lex and Lucky took seats in captain's chairs near the front of the bus and found that their vantage point afforded them a nearly unobstructed view in all directions. They were perfectly placed to get the panoramic view of the landscape surrounding them.
"This is really nice." Sandy said in amazement as she surveyed her surroundings.
Paul and G shared a look, silently agreeing that it must be pretty special for their resident 'mean girl' wannabe to openly appreciate it.
* * * * *
The ride from the school to the Darroch homestead wasn't a particularly long one, but it took more than a few minutes.
By the time the bus pulled up to the front door, Paul, G, and Lex were all fast asleep.
"I'll get them." Lucky said automatically, then went about the business of waking his sleeping family.
"What happened?" Paul asked groggily.
"You fell asleep on the way home from school." Lucky said gently as he nudged G to awaken.
"We need to talk to Dad about getting some of these seats at home. They're the most comfortable chairs I think I've ever sat in." Paul said as he fought to sit up.
"Or maybe you were just really tired." G said as he looked, half-lidded at Paul.
"Yeah. Maybe." Paul allowed.
"The driver's waiting on us. Come on." Lucky said before dashing away to wake Lex.
"I don't want to get up. This is 'perfect'." Paul said to G as his eyes began to close again.
"How about, when we get inside, I put on an anime and we take a nap on the couch for a little while before dinner?" G gently suggested.
"Yeah. That'd be nice, too." Paul said as he forced himself to get up.
* * * * *
"Lex, it's Lucky. We're home." Lucky said gently.
"That's... beautiful." Lex said as he slowly opened his eyes.
"What is?" Lucky asked curiously.
"Being in a place that you can call home with someone you love to wake you up... it's like, how could anything go wrong in the world when you have that?" Lex asked with a slow smile.
"Everyone is waiting for us to get off the bus so that they can go to their own homes." Lucky quietly explained.
"Oh. I just got so comfortable I forgot where I was for a minute." Lex said as he sat up fully.
"I'm glad you were able to get some good sleep. That's the best." Lucky said happily.
"Yeah. Let's talk about it when we're inside." Lex said as he got out of his chair.
"I take it you guys like the new wheels." Tony called back with a grand smile.
"If you notice some of your chairs missing one of these days, you should probably check our house first." Lucky answered playfully.
"I'll keep that in mind." Tony chuckled, then thought to add, "Don't worry about anything, Lucky. You're going to fit in fine here."
"Thanks." Lucky said with surprise as he followed Lex off the bus.
* * * * *
"Can you feel that?" Paul asked as they walked around the side of the house.
"What?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"The weekend. It's finally here." Paul finished with an ebullient smile.
Lucky couldn't help but smile in response, even though the arrival of the weekend wasn't normally a cause for celebration for him.
"Look. That's new." G said as he pointed.
"It looks like they're adding an outside door to the glassed-in bridge." Paul said uncertainly.
"I bet that Dad doesn't want for Lucky and Lex to have to go through our room to get to theirs." G said speculatively.
"So, if we go in the hallway door, we could go to any one of our rooms?" Lucky asked to verify his understanding.
"Yeah. It looks that way." G somewhat confirmed.
* * * * *
After a tug on the door handle, Paul quietly asked, "Did you lock it?"
"Do I ever?" G asked in response.
As they looked around, one by one they noticed what was happening nearby.
"Why would they lock this door if they're working all the way down there?" G asked curiously.
"I don't know, but from the look of it, we can't use the bridge or the new door they're installing yet. So, if they've got this door locked too, they must not want us in there." Paul slowly reasoned as he tried the doorknob again, somehow expecting a different result.
"I guess we'll have to go in the house and find out what's going on." G said reluctantly, obviously wanting for someone to come up with a better idea.
"They're probably making Paul's room into a suite of rooms for me and Lucky." Lex said seriously.
"Probably, yeah. But this is a little fast, even for Dad." G said frankly.
"C'mon. Let's find out what's happening." Paul said, then started walking back toward the main entrance to the house.
* * * * *
"Is it that time already?" Beth asked in surprise as the boys filed into the living room.
"Yeah. What's going on?" Paul asked cautiously.
"D had so much to catch up on after being away that he asked me to take charge of the room renovations. Since you weren't here to ask, I made a few assumptions about your preferences. I hope you don't mind." Beth finished sweetly.
"What did you do?" Paul asked warily.
"From what D was saying, he already discussed most of this with you. As far as I know, this is just what you already agreed on." Beth said frankly.
"I kinda figured that part out. But what are they doing out there right now?" Paul asked, even more slowly.
"I couldn't really tell you." Beth said honestly, then explained, "D told me what you had discussed with him, so I drafted a list of specifications based on that. Then, at the start of business today, I contacted D's designer and relayed them to him along with the instructions that we would prefer it if the new rooms were ready for occupancy by the end of the weekend."
"Don't they have to get, like, building permits and stuff before they can even think about building anything?" Paul asked slowly.
"I suppose so. I don't really know. I just told the designer what we needed done and promised him a little something extra if he made it happen within our timeframe." Beth finished with a self-satisfied smile.
"So you've got people doing what's probably a two or three week job in a single weekend, just because you've got the money to make it happen?" Paul asked cautiously.
"You could look at it that way. I think the designer told me six different times that what I wanted wasn't possible and that he couldn't do it." Beth said seriously, then added with a smile, "All I did was challenge his assumptions and inspire him to be a bit more creative in his approach to problem solving."
"You're scary." Lucky said honestly.
"Sometimes you have to be scary to get the important things done." Beth said seriously, then added with a smile, "And sometimes you have to flex your muscles to remind yourself that you still have them."
"So, what are we supposed to do while they're working?" Paul asked in a small, lost voice.
"You know those bags you brought back from your trip? Everything's been laundered and repacked. I've taken the liberty of assembling comparable backpacks for Lucky and Lex. The plan is for you to leave around five o'clock." Beth said seriously.
"Leave for where?" Paul asked hesitantly.
"You're not sending us back to Kentucky, are you?" G asked hesitantly.
"No. Not Kentucky, I promise." Beth said as she fought down a chuckle at the reaction.
"Where are we going then?" Paul asked cautiously.
"D said that he wants for that to be a surprise. Lex and G are not to tell, or they will lose their S'mores privileges for the entire weekend." Beth said as she looked seriously at the named boys.
Paul looked to G with question.
"Dad makes his S'mores with Heath Bars. They're on a whole other level." G calmly explained.
"Okay. I think I'll stop asking questions and just go along with it. Heath Bar S'mores sound awesome. I'm not going to mess with that." Paul said simply.
"Do you know where we're going?" Lucky asked Lex curiously.
"On the train." Lex quietly responded.
Lucky thought about that for a moment, then seemed to be perfectly content with that answer.
"Everything's already been packed. All you have to do is meet at the train at 5:00." Beth said, then turned her back on the boys to devote her full attention to Kay in her stroller.
* * * * *
"All our stuff is packed and we're locked out of our rooms. What are we supposed to do until five o'clock?" Paul asked his companions as he looked around the living room.
"I know what I want to do." Lex said with a significant look at Lucky.
"Yeah! I want to let Zah Zah out, too." Lucky said happily as he unbuttoned the belly of his jacket.
"While you're here, let's see if I can summon Zephyr on my own." Lex said uncertainly as he went through the long-form version of the fireball spell, just so that he could be sure that he was doing everything as perfectly as possible.
Zah Zah climbed out of Lucky's jacket and looked around before climbing up his arm and finally coming to rest on his shoulder.
As soon as Zah Zah was in place, Lucky let his illusionary clothing go to reveal that he was wearing jeans and a red t-shirt.
Lex noticed what Lucky was doing, but didn't allow that to distract him from his task.
The hardest part of the entire exercise was the foreign spell with the counterintuitive gestures.
When it finally came time to let the magic loose, Lex remembered what Lucky had told him and did the exact opposite of what his instincts were telling him to do.
Much to his surprise, this time the little plume of flame seemed to turn inside out to reveal that inside, it had actually been water all along.
From there, summoning Zephyr seemed to happen all on its own.
While Lex did have to form the hand signs and say the words, they felt like they were mostly a formality. Zephyr was guiding the majority of the magic himself.
The illusionary overlay was a mere afterthought compared to the rest and happened with almost no thought or effort on Lex's part.
"What have you got there?" Beth asked curiously as she looked up from the stroller and returned her attention to the boys.
"His name is Zephyr." Lex said proudly as Zephyr perched on his shoulder and held his head high.
"It's absolutely lovely. I don't think I've ever been able to create anything this beautiful." Beth said in awe, then glanced at Paul and added, "Present company excepted."
"Right." Paul said with a grin back at her.
"We were doing a group project in spelling and the nuggle ended up being the spell we chose to do." Lex said seriously.
"It looks too perfect to be a construct, but it has weight and physical presence, so it's not an illusion either." Beth said as she moved nearer to get a better look at it.
"He's created from mist, but then an illusion was hung on his misty physical form." Lex said informatively.
"So, it's an undine?" Beth slowly asked.
"No. Nothing so complicated. He's just a school project." Lex hurried to explain.
"So were you." G reminded him.
"No. I mean, even if he were more than a school project, I'm an air elemental. There's no way that I could conjure or summon a water elemental." Lex said seriously.
"I told you." Lucky said simply... perhaps a bit too simply.
"You told me what?" Lex asked cautiously.
"I told you about that water being 'yours'." Lucky said seriously.
"I don't understand what you're trying to say." Lex said honestly.
"The water of your life, the water that Paul shared with you, that's what you're sharing with Zephyr." Lucky fought to explain.
"Are you saying that my soul is in the water?" Lex asked anxiously.
"No. I mean, I don't know about that. I just know that you shared part of what you really are with Zephyr." Lucky once again struggled to say.
"Is that the same part that Paul shared with me?" Lex asked mostly speculatively, obviously not expecting an answer.
"Yes." Lucky answered without hesitation, then explained, "You didn't have any water before, so what you shared with Zephyr would have to be part of what Paul gave you."
"It makes sense." Paul agreed.
"At least now we know that all of this wasn't my fault." G interjected.
"G gave Lex a shape and Paul gave him... substance." Lucky said carefully, obviously struggling to find the right words.
"So that makes you like my parents, doesn't it?" Lex asked with a playful grin.
"No." Beth snapped, "I will not be a grandmother this soon. You're brothers, that's final."
"I'm a cousin." Lucky reminded her.
"I SAID, you're brothers. Do you really want to fight me on this?" Beth asked firmly.
"No. I guess not." Lucky timidly answered.
"You can still call me Aunt Beth if you want to, but in just about anything else, you're counted exactly the same as my other children." Beth said frankly.
"Yes, ma'am." Lucky quietly responded.
"And just so we're clear about it, I do play favorites. Lucky, right now, you're leading the pack." Beth said before picking Kay up out of the stroller and walking out of the room.
* * * * *
"Did I just do what G did and create a sentient being?" Lex asked as he looked at Zephyr with concern.
"That's a tough call. I mean, how can you really tell if someone is sentient? If they're hardwired to react to certain situations in certain ways, then they're not really thinking for themselves, even if they look like they are." Paul said speculatively.
"At the same time, think about dogs and cats. We know that they can think and feel, but they don't have the level of intelligence required to be considered sentient." G said thoughtfully.
"Do you think Mah Zah and Ginh Zah would know?" Lucky asked curiously.
"They might." Paul admitted, then continued with a smile, "We can ask them."
"If we don't need to be doing anything else, maybe we could all go out back and horse around for a while." Lex suggested hopefully.
"We can't take the chance with the workers on the property. You'll need to hang on until we get to the train." G said, none too happy with the declaration.
"What are we going to do then?" Lucky asked curiously.
"Lex, weren't you wanting to get some Lapis?" G asked casually.
"Yeah, but we can do that anytime." Lex responded uncertainly.
"With us being locked out of the bedrooms and having the workers on the property, there's not a whole lot we can do right now. Maybe if you have your Lapis, you'll be able to move forward with your project." G said frankly.
"I left the cuff I was planning to use at school." Lex said in a wavering tone.
"There's probably another one in the charm supplies. Just look around and maybe you'll find what you need." G said encouragingly.
"Maybe, if there's lots of magic stuff there, we could find some books that'll help us with Zah Zah." Lucky said hopefully.
"I really can't see my mom having anything like that. That's just so not her style." G said frankly.
"Can we please change the subject? I've got a lot of conflicting emotions about her that I'd rather not have stirred up." Lex asked seriously.
"Yeah. Okay. I'm right there with you, Lex." G said sympathetically.
* * * * *
"I've never been in this part of the house before. I didn't even know this was here." Paul said as they entered the storeroom.
"That's kind of the point. This is where you put things to forget about them." G said frankly.
"Do you know where the stuff is that you're looking for?" Paul asked anxiously, obviously not entirely comfortable with what they were doing.
"Yeah, in general. Every now and then we'll need something from down here, so I know basically where things are kept. But I haven't explored every box or anything like that." G said seriously.
"Dad's not going to get mad at us for poking around down here, is he?" Paul asked with concern.
"I don't think he cares. If he had a problem with it, he probably would have said something about it sometime in the last ten years." G said frankly.
"I think it's over here." Lex said quietly as he pointed.
"Lead the way." G said simply.
"I was hoping you'd help me." Lex said honestly.
"Unless you need me to, I'd feel better hanging back as much as I can." G said frankly.
"Yeah. Okay. Sorry. I guess that since I have a use for this stuff, that gives me a reason to do even this much with it." Lex said quietly.
"Is there anything Lucky and I can do to help?" Paul hesitantly asked as he made a swirly motion, directed at the floor beside him.
"What we're trying to do is make a charm to house part of the spell for Lucky's uniform illusion. I think the way that Professor Woo explained it, the charm would do the magic that the witch didn't have a talent for so that they could complete the spell with the magic that they did have a talent for." Lex said carefully.
In response, Lucky did the short form version of the spell to restore his school uniform as it had been earlier.
"Okay. Yeah. That sounds smart." Paul said slowly, then added, "I've never tried to make a charm like that. All of my charms have held the entire spell so the person holding them didn't have to have any special ability at all."
"Something I was thinking about is that maybe instead of making a charm to house the standard version of the spell, that we might try using Lucky's 'special' interpretation of the spell to see how far we can push it and how much of the spell we could contain in the charm." Lex said carefully as he started looking through boxes.
"Mah Zah and Ginh Zah, we're going to help Lex find spell components for a charm he's going to create. You can help us if you want, or you can keep watch and protect our backs if you'd rather, whichever you think is better." Paul said seriously.
Ginh Zah let loose a forceful, singular meow, filled with meaning.
"What is it that you're looking for, exactly?" Paul asked Lex curiously.
"Lapis Lazuli and then maybe some kind of cuff or bracer to attach it to." Lex said seriously.
"What about a gauntlet?" Paul asked curiously.
"If you find one, we can look at it, but I don't think we're going to need anything that complicated." Lex said frankly.
* * * * *
Lex felt a movement on his shoulder and turned in time to see Zephyr leap off and gallop in slow motion through the air, toward a nearby tarpaulin.
"What'd you find there, boy?" Lex asked as he abandoned the box he was looking through.
"Your miniature horse can sniff out Lapis Lazuli?" Paul asked incredulously.
"I don't know. He must have sensed something over there. I'm not sure what he's found." Lex said as he started to shift the large tarp out of his way.
"If he knows what you're looking for, he'll help you to find it." Lucky said seriously.
"You know a lot more about all of this than you're saying, don't you?" Paul said speculatively.
"Yeah. But I don't know what I know. I just tell you things when I think about them." Lucky said honestly.
"So we can't assume that Lucky doesn't know something just because he didn't say anything about it. We need to be sure to ask him questions." G said seriously.
"What have you got there?" Paul asked curiously.
"I think Zephyr might have found what we're looking for... at least, when it comes to the stones." Lex said slowly as he opened one of the many shallow drawers of the antique typesetter's cabinet.
"It could take all day just to go through that dresser." Lucky said frankly.
"I have a feeling that it would be worth it. It looks like there's just about any kind of mineral you could ever want in here."� Lex said as he reverently looked through the various rocks, attempting to identify them as he went.
There was a small snorting sound which drew Lex's attention, then he noticed Zephyr worrying at one of the lower drawers with his right front hoof.
"What have you got there, boy? Is it down there?" Lex asked as he immediately closed the drawer he had been looking through and moved to the lower one.
"You don't need any plant components for your charm, do you?" Paul asked cautiously.
"Not that I know of. We're actually still in the 'theory' stage of making the charm. We don't have an actual spell yet." Lex said as he slid the drawer open.
"That sounds really interesting. You'll have to show me how you do that." Paul said seriously, then asked, "So you're not going to need any of these spell ingredients?"
"Not that I know of. Once I start crafting the spell, I might realize that I need a catalyst or something, but I don't know about that now." Lex said as he looked through the shallow drawer of rocks. These were larger, by comparison, to the ones in the upper drawer, but were still relatively small and well suited to his needs.
"Mah Zah, Ginh Zah, I need for you to look at this." Paul said as a complicated spell diagram appeared on the ground.
"I'm leaving a trace portal here. If we find out that Lex needs some charm components, I'll open the other end of this wherever we are and send you here to get things for us. Will you be able to do that for me?" Paul asked seriously.
Ginh Zah remained silent, but Mah Zah barked a question.
"Lex, do you think Zephyr would be able to come here and get something for you if you needed him to?" Paul asked curiously.
"He's already shown that he's smart enough to know what I want and how to find it, but I'm not sure if he'd have the physical ability to get to it or carry it." Lex said as he picked up one particular rock and looked more closely at it.
"If Mah Zah and Ginh Zah could use Zephyr to locate the charm ingredients that we're looking for, they could collect it and bring it back to us themselves." Paul said seriously.
"Could Zah Zah go too?" Lucky asked hopefully.
"It would probably be best if she didn't. We'd have to be able to trust her to do what you tell her and to come back to you when she's supposed to." Paul said uncertainly.
Ginh Zah meowed her opinion into the conversation.
"If we end up sending the familiars on a mission, Ginh Zah says that she'll be happy to watch after her little sister, Zah Zah." Paul finished with a smile.
"Yeah. I guess she'd be okay if Ginh Zah was watching out for her." Lucky said with concern.
"We probably won't need to send them anyway." Paul said dismissively, then thought to ask, "What else do we need?"
"A cuff or a bracer that can house a magical enchantment and physically hold a stone which houses a different enchantment." Lex said seriously.
"Mah Zah, Ginh Zah, can you help me find that?" Paul asked seriously.
A sharp series of barks was Mah Zah's immediate reply.
After a moment, Lex cautiously asked, "What did she tell you?"
"It seems that while Mah Zah is a dog, she's not that kind of dog. She has no method for locating something that she's never seen nor smelled before." Paul said carefully, obviously translating.
"So my horse is a better bloodhound than your dog is?" Lex asked with a grin.
"In this case, yeah. But I'd still rather have Mah Zah helping me if we were looking for a missing person, or something like that. She has my complete confidence." Paul said in Mah Zah's defense.
"Yeah. You're probably right." Lex gently conceded, then turned to Zephyr and asked, "Can you help me find a cuff to put this stone on?"
As everyone watched, the little horse slowly galloped through the air toward the other side of the room.
"Did you find what you were looking for?" G asked curiously.
"Yeah. It's right where Zephyr said it would be." Lex said as he held it up to show it off.
"Nice. That's got some good veining. It should be able to channel magic really well." Paul said consideringly.
"It's exactly how I pictured it. If we can find a cuff to mount it on, then all that will be left is to develop the actual spell." Lex said as he followed Zephyr to his destination.
"What kind of cuff are you thinking of? What metal? What style?" Paul asked seriously as he continued to look through random boxes.
"Silver, not necessarily the metal, but the color. Not gold, brass, or bronze. I see the style as being... functional. Not frilly or fancy at all, but sleek, neat, uncluttered, and confidently crafted... elegant." Lex said distantly.
"Now, let's see if that's what Zephyr is leading you to find." Paul said with a smile at the tiny horse once again scraping his foreleg hoof on the side of a box.
"Look at this." Lucky whispered as he took an ornately carved wooden box out of a bundle of scarves and linens.
"What did you find?" G asked curiously.
"I don't know, but if it's in a box like this, it's probably something really important." Lucky said seriously.
"Or it's booze." G said frankly.
At Lucky's surprised look, G explained, "People like to put booze in fancy bottles and boxes for some reason, even though they're just going to literally piss it away. It's a lot of wasted effort for nothing."
"Should I open it?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"We should probably check it for traps or curses first." Paul warned from nearby.
"You can see curses, can't you?" Lex asked curiously as he looked up from the box he was digging in.
"Oh, yeah. I guess I can. I've never really had a reason to look for them before." Paul said as he moved to Lucky's side to get a better look at the box.
After a long moment, Paul finally said, "I can't tell you anything about what's inside the box, but the box itself isn't magically charged at all. If it's trapped somehow, it'd have to be in a mundane way."
"Do you think it's safe to open?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"I don't know. Ginh Zah, do you want to take a look at it?" Paul asked seriously.
Ginh Zah went up onto her hind legs and sniffed at the box in Lucky's hands, before slowly walking around his feet for a long moment.
After some consideration, Ginh Zah let loose a long sustained 'meow'.
"She says that there's something magical inside that's really powerful and could be a trap, but the box itself is safe." Paul translated.
"So it's okay if I open it?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"Why don't you let me do it? If it turns out to be something bad, I can probably handle it best." Paul said as he held out his hands.
Lucky cautiously handed the box to him.
Paul gave the internal push to go into his demon form, then carefully opened the wooden box.
After a moment to look at the contents, Paul closed the lid and asked, "Where did you get this?"
"Right here." Lucky said as he pointed to an open cardboard box beside him.
Paul purposefully returned the carved wooden box to the nest of scarves and linens that it had come from, then made a point of folding the cardboard box closed before looking around.
"What was it?" G finally asked.
"Even me telling you could put you in danger. Knowing it's there, is kind of its own curse. Please, all of you, leave it in that box and never look in there again." Paul said anxiously.
"If it's that bad, shouldn't we get rid of it or destroy it or something?" Lucky asked cautiously.
"Trying to get rid of it makes it that much more likely that the curse will be activated by someone, whether it's us or not. Besides, I doubt that all of us together at peak magic could do anything to harm it. The closest we can come to destroying it is to leave it where it is and forget about it." Paul said firmly.
"I guess, since we don't know what it is, that we can probably forget it really easily." G said uncertainly.
"Do you think you could put a locking spell on the box so that someone can't come back in here and open it later?" Paul asked anxiously.
"I can. But a lock on a cardboard box is going to be strange for any mundane person who tries to open it and can't." G cautioned.
"I'm guessing that if a mundane person makes it this far into our house, he's already seen stranger things than a box that won't open." Paul said frankly.
"Well, since you seem so freaked out by it, I'll go ahead and put the super-duper lock on it that even Nazzy doesn't know how to crack." G said before enacting his spell.
Once the spell was complete, Paul wilted with relief and quietly said, "Now promise me that if I come to you later and ask, that you won't release the lock for me. I need to know without a doubt that it's completely out of my reach."
"Yeah. I won't open it and I doubt that Dad could crack this lock, either. You'd probably have to have someone who's at least at a senior professor level to get past it." G said seriously.
"Good." Paul said as he walked to G and engulfed him in a hug born from the need for comfort, more than passion.
To Be Continued...
Wow! I have to wonder if that box belongs to Pandora.
I must admit that all this magical manipulation is well above my paygrade.
To get a bit technical, I find it very interesting how much Lucky knows about things in general and magic in particular. I think all the boys have talents and abilities that seem to mesh well together, and that more than likely the result will be much more than the sum of their individual components.
They each contribute to the whole and each one of them draws something from one or more of the others, to bring about the result that none of them could do without the contributions of at least one of the others.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak.
It seems to me that the box in the cardboard box is something that should not have been lying around without some protection spell on it.
Paul is able to see things more deeply than most anyone else can, even adults.
I suspect that some of that comes from his father, but each of us has characteristics, and abilities different from those of our parents.
Even identical twins are not exactly alike.
It really is cool to see Lucky shine so brightly, Is he that lucky old sun?
( an old song by Frankie Laine)
Thank you MM for another great chapter!
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher