Authors: Lisa Olsen
The lure of something new was strong enough to drag Cady’s mind out the gutter and touch her natural curiosity. And honestly at that point, she didn’t care if they had sex right that moment or not, she just wanted to spend time with him, be near him and not have to pretend they were total strangers.
“Alright then, shoot. What do you want to show me?”
“I was thinking of showing you some sigils. You said you wanted to learn more about them, right?”
“The black marks you made all over the walls in the safe house?” She had to admit, they were pretty handy at the time, if only he’d remembered to mark the bathroom as well.
“That’s right. I thought we’d start with me showing you how to draw a few and seeing if you have any kind of aptitude for working the spells.”
Even though she had asked him to teach her more about them, it didn’t sound appealing at that particular time and place. “That sounds a lot like work. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do something more fun? We could watch a movie.” That might lead to snuggling, which suited her fine.
His head canted to one side in confusion. “I thought you’d get into this. You seemed interested before.”
“I am, but… I just got off work.” Her lips pushed into a pout, but he wasn’t the least bit swayed, offering her a smirky grin.
“Sure, after sitting on your ass all day, right? It’s not like you’ve been out digging ditches. It won’t kill you to put in some effort and I think this is important.”
Cady stuck her tongue out at him, but she joined him in the kitchen. “Fine, what are you teaching me?”
“I want to see if you can do a basic protection spell.”
“Why? I thought Ash was safely bound?”
“He is, but he’s not the only one out there and there are other things in the shadows.” Ethan grabbed a black grease pencil out of a kitchen drawer, leading her to the one of the tall windows. “Now pay attention to how I draw the sigils, it’s important to get them exactly right or you could end up summoning a demon,” he grinned and she smiled back, pretty sure he was kidding about that summoning a demon piece.
She watched him, recognizing some of the symbols from the walls back in the safe house, but not all of them.
“Okay, now you try it on the next window,” he said, offering her the grease pencil.
“What about the spell part?”
“We’ll get to that, but for now let’s see how you do on the sigils.”
She didn’t possess his artist’s eye, but Cady did a fairly good job reproducing the symbols. In order to get the ones on the top frame she had to stand on the sill, but after a few minutes she’d managed to produce a decent rendering. “There, how’s that?”
“Not bad. You could make the tail end here a tad thicker, but it’ll do the job. Now, listen carefully, I’m going to say the words slowly at first so you can catch them, but in order to make the spell work you have to be concentrating on building the energy, and that’s a whole other knack to get the hang of.”
“Should I be writing them down?”
“No, best to learn it by ear, that way you’ll learn the rhythm of the words. Now listen carefully. “
Ut Deum a daemonum nocte tegat. Sed hoc non esse peccatum, porta et tenebrarum quis introeat nemo audet
Cady nodded, hearing the phrasing, but the words slid away almost as quickly, not sticking in her mind. “You’re going to have to go through that again. All I got was what sounded like Sunday mass at St. Patrick’s.”
“It’s okay, it can take a while to catch on. I’ll say them again.”
“Hold on a sec.” Cady left him by the window to go retrieve a pen and paper she’d seen in the kitchen drawer that he got the grease pencil from. “I know you said it’s best to do it by ear, but this is how I got through AP Bio. Go ahead, nice and slow.” This time when he took her through the phrases she scribbled as fast as she could, going for the phonetic spelling when she wasn’t sure how to spell something in Latin. When she was done, she read the words aloud, trying them out on the tongue.
“That’s it, but you won’t be able to read the spell when it comes time to work it, you’ll have to hold it in your mind, focusing on the intent. Listen and see if you can tell the difference.” First he rattled the words off, as though he was reading a train schedule.
The second time she could feel a tingle of something in the air. Cady listened with her eyes closed, more for the cadence than anything else, picking up the rhythm and the inflections he put on the individual words. When he was done, there was a pressure change, and her ears popped. Yawning to try and clear the sensation, she approached the window, studying it carefully.
“Did you do it? Was that the spell?”
“Yep.” Ethan nodded, pulling her to the window where she’d drawn the symbols. “But before you try, I want to make sure you have the words down exactly. This isn’t something you want to screw around with. Now repeat after me.” He went through them again, painstakingly slowly, and she repeated them, working on pronunciation.
“That’s pretty good. We’ll take it again, and then try stringing two phrases together at once.”
“Hold on a sec, let me take a stab at it.” Putting the paper down, she repeated the words verbatim, not missing a single syllable, looking to him for approval when she finished.
“Not bad, not bad at all.”
He sounded impressed and Cady gave a self deprecating half shrug. “Told you I learn better by writing things down. Plus, three years of Spanish ought to be good for something, right?”
“I guess you should go with whatever works for you,” he allowed. “This next part is trickier though. When you cast you have to focus on intent, like I said. You want to picture the window as a portal, and you’re building a wall inside of it. It can be made of anything you want – bricks, concrete – as long as it’s strong enough to keep things out.”
“Can I make it out of transparent aluminum so I can still see out of it?” she grinned, but he didn’t get the reference, a furrow appearing on his brow.
“Aluminum’s not all that strong.”
“Never mind. Something strong, I got you. Anything else?”
“Yes, you’re also putting something of yourself into it, your own energy, but at the same time you’re tapping into the energy all around you. It’s like…” he paused, having trouble coming up with the right words.
“Using the force?” she tried again and he got this one, giving her a lopsided smile.
“Yes, something like that.”
“Okay, I’m ready.” Cady rolled her shoulders, drawing in a deep breath. “Here goes.”
“Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work at first,” he interjected. “Trying to remember all of the foreign words, the intent… and you might not even have an affinity for casting at all.”
“Thanks for the vote of assurance.”
“I just don’t want you to be disappointed.”
“Then stop trying to kill my confidence,” she scowled. “I got to get my mojo going.”
“Sorry, you go right ahead.” Ethan placed a quick kiss on her forehead and stepped back, arms crossed over his chest as he watched.
A nervous prickle worked its way up the back of her neck. “Are you going to stare at me like that the whole time?”
“I was going to watch you, yes. Why? Does it bother you?”
“It makes it kind of hard to concentrate, yes. Can’t you… look at the wall or something?”
“Sure, alright.” He turned and faced the other way.
Cady tried another deep breath, but she still felt self conscious. “I can hear you breathing,” she said after a few moments of silence.
“I do that from time to time.”
He was making fun of her? Cady resisted the urge to give his back the finger, knowing it was nerves making her so edgy. “It’s distracting. Could you maybe back up a few feet?”
“Would you rather I went into the bedroom?”
“Could you?” She perked up at the idea, but he lingered.
“I’d rather be right here in case something goes wrong.”
“Something like what?”
Ethan hesitated, which made it all that much worse when he gave the vague response, “It pays to be ready for anything.”
Because that didn’t sound scary at all.
“Alright, relax, Cady, you can do this,” she muttered, doing her best to block him out, holding the words in her head and focusing on the window. “
Ut Deum a daemonum nocte tegat. Sed hoc non esse peccatum, porta et tenebrarum quis introeat nemo audet
.” Her memory held fine, and it started out well enough, that tingle she’d felt while Ethan worked the spell dancing along her skin. But the deeper she got into the spell, the harder and harder it became to say the words without stumbling over them. She forced her tongue to obey out of sheer stubbornness, making the words slower, more deliberate as the energy built all around her. The image of a steel door snapped into place as the last phrase came to her lips, and she added the last minute detail of rust, trusting that to be an even stronger deterrent for demons. As the last syllable left her tongue, she let go of the energy, sending it into the window and there was that pressure change again, only with enough force to drive her a foot or two backwards this time as she experienced it from inside the spell.
Vaguely aware of Ethan’s touch on her arm, she turned to blink at him, her ears ringing. “Did it work?” she said, a smidge too loud. “It felt like it worked.”
“Fuck me, you did it.” He stood with arms outstretched, stopping a few inches from the window casement and a thrill of success went through her. “And on the first attempt. Shit, it’s holding strong too. Way to go, Cady.”
Still tingling with excess energy, Cady beamed at the praise, the ringing in her ears already fading. “How many tries did it take you the first time you learned it?”
“Too many to answer that question,” he replied, lips compressing, but there was a smile behind his eyes.
“Can I do the rest of these?” she asked, eager to see if she could duplicate the results and he gave her an amused snort.
“Sure, knock yourself out.”
Cady worked on reproducing the sigils, growing more confident with each time she drew them. Going with repetition, she added all the symbols first, planning on working the spells themselves after she was done, but Ethan stopped her as she stepped up to the last window in the bedroom.
“Wait… not this one.”
“I won’t be able to get out if I need to.”
“But you’re not evil,” she objected.
“But we’re tainted by demon’s blood. The spell won’t let me pass unless you remove it. I could always remove the one I cast, but you never know when we might need a quick getaway.”
Sometimes she forgot she’d been changed by Ash’s blood. Was that why the spellwork came so easily? “But you came through my window before…”
“That was a different protection spell, not as complicated.”
“I need to keep you safe from all sides now. That’s why I chose to show you this spell instead.”
Cady nodded, processing for a long moment. He meant Rikard, he wasn’t done being worried about the Company. “Alright, that’s good to know. Anything else I should know before I get started on the rest of these?”
“Yep, the most I could do at a time was four when I first started out, so you’d better get cracking if you want to try and shoot for the record,” he grinned and she gave him a mocking salute.
It was both easier and harder to cast the next spell. Knowing what to expect and how to project her energy, the mechanics of it came more naturally to her, as well as the words. But it was even harder to get to the end of the incantation this time, the words fighting with her tongue. It was only through sheer determination that she finished the spell. And the next, and the one after that.
Cady didn’t stop until she’d completed all of the windows, except for the last one in the bedroom. That made five successful castings, leaving her overheated and a bit light headed by the time she was finished. “Done,” was all she could say as she emerged from the bedroom, too tired to gloat beyond that.
Ethan looked up from where he’d been polishing a set of throwing daggers with Metal Glo, having stopped watching her closely after the second casting. “Hey, maybe it’s time you took a break. It can take a lot out of you.”
“Now you tell me,” she smiled wanly, her steps slow and deliberate as she headed for the kitchen to get a cold drink.
“How about I order in some Chinese food? Are you hungry?”
“That sounds great,” she nodded in approval. Cady loved Chinese food, especially the kind that made your scalp sweat.
“What do you want?”
She mentally went through the contents of her purse and decided it was a little too rich for her blood after springing for the deli sandwich at lunch time. “I’ll just have some of yours.”
“I’m gonna eat all of mine,” he laughed. “Get anything you want, it’s my dime.”