The Brotherhood (Part 5)
By Mark W. Meier
The Final Spell
Nerves kept me from the Bristol Steakhouse – as if I had nerves. I waited outside, intangible and invisible, reading lips through the window. My unnaturally keen hearing filled in where lip-reading failed. In a parked car were Baldy and Library, muttering to themselves with folded hands.
Your conversation with Caryn ranged far and wide, but every topic danced around the edges of your use of magick. A recent drought had ended with a long, soaking rain, saving the crops of farmers across five counties. You’d done that – under my direction. A local newspaper uncovered a corrupt politician – redundant terms, but I digress – and again, you’d accomplished that using magick. The examples went on and on.
After dinner was over Caryn sipped an iced tea. “Ken, you’re dabbling in magic. You can’t do that.”
You sipped a martini. “So what if I am? If you’re implying I’m using magick to help people, at least they’re being helped.”
“The ends justify the means?”
“Well, yeah.” You lowered your glass to the table after the server took your plates away. “In your Bible, God put King David on the throne to put in place a lineage for Jesus. David did all sorts of things that would land anyone today in jail. In his time, it would have put his head on the executioner’s block.”
Caryn frowned. “The lesson there is that even as much as we mess up, God can still use us.”
You snorted. “Use us. For his purposes. Regardless of what we want. Sounds like the same thing. The outcome must warrant the cost, but if the result is good enough, isn’t that worth any price?” You drank the last of your martini.
Caryn shook her head. “Only God can make those kinds of decisions, Ken. Not you, not me. God uses our mistakes to glorify Himself despite the errors. He doesn’t force us into making them.”
You put down your empty glass and left a stack of bills to pay the check. “If using magick condemns me, then I guess I’m condemned.”
You both rose from your seats at the same time. Caryn looked deeply into your eyes. “Use of magic isn’t the problem. Not trusting God is. What nets you damnation is the arrogant assumption that you know better than the Creator of the universe.”
Despite Caryn’s reprimanding tone, the two of you agreed to another dinner a week later.
When Caryn drove off, followed moments later by the sedan with Baldy and Library inside, I could walk up to you again while you waited to cross the road to your car. The mixed scent of restaurant food clung to you like a cloud. “Have a good time?”
“She’s good looking.” A ghost of smile touched your lips. “And single.”
“Remember what I said about needy women?”
You grinned. “I don’t think we need to worry about her influencing my training.”
“Excellent. We’re about to begin working on a spell that will extend your life. Interference at this point would be ill advised.”
For the next week we practiced hand movements in your workroom of tables and shelving.
At one break I explained a bit about the spell. “Without the incantation the gestures won’t do a thing. This spell doesn’t need anything like eye of newt or bits of toenail fungus, but the required motions involve precision to a great degree.”
We sat at one desk covered with pages of arcane symbols. I’d drawn them during your lessons on sigils, and you’d been studying them again as part of your training for this next spell.
“What good are the hands? What do they do?”
“There’s an element in the myelin of your nervous system that affects magick.” I was surprised you’d never asked before. All the others I’d trained over the millennia asked within a month of casting their first spell.“You’re gathering the energy, giving it direction, range, breadth, and form. The words are the catalyst that unleashes magick.” It was nonsense, but you ate up the pablum faster than a pudgy infant.
“What happens if I give the chant without the hand motions?”
I swatted the back of your head. A good reminder to you that I could affect solid matter if I wished it.“It’s like striking a match without fuel. The small bits of power will burn out in a release of energy lower than your ability to detect.”
You kept working, forgetting your lunch date with Caryn. Your staff never told you about the times she came to visit. Besides, your . . . drives . . . had declined with age. Not that she was the type to indulge you.
The day you turned sixty I announced you were ready to combine the somatic and verbal components of the spell.
If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.