Bottle of Fire

I should be afraid. There are many things I should be afraid of. With everything that goes on here, it is a wonder that I do not spend more time curled up in a ball gibbering with fear. But that is not in my nature. Of all the things that are going on, the demonic taint, the threat of retribution from the Morning Star, the presence of the Huntsman, the lurking sense that Gwthyr is not entirely gone, there is plenty to fear. Why then does the prospect of our dear Aoibheann practicing magic worry me so? She has just as much right as any of us. Perhaps it is just her unpredictable nature, the fear that a simple light spell might end up setting fire to an entire building or something.

She came to me in the office, clearly on the verge of breaking down in tears. She cannot have failed to notice all the to-ing and fro-ing of the guards and villagers with supplies or to have heard that things were going on in the vaults. All she could gasp was “Maric, Vaults, Demons” at me. I sat her down on the sofa and asked her to breathe for a few minutes before I explained what was going on. I wasn’t sure how up to date she was, so briefly told her about the failed mission, the intervention of the Morning Star, the curse that had come through the mirror and how it was corrupting the castle. I told her that Maric was working on holding it back and that Dyisi was working on a ritual to cure the taint.

As ever, bless her, she focussed on the bits the thought she understood, suggesting that what we needed was a bucket of water and some vinegar to cleanse the taint. I explained in more detail about the demonic corruption and what I thought might be needed – a combination of Maric’s efforts, Dyisi’s ritual and the spells I was trying to research from the ancient book on demons that Maric had rescued from Alexandria. I added that if a bucket of vinegar would help, I would have her down there with a mop as well. She asked if it was something we could send back through the mirror, which thought had also occurred to me. I had to tell her that the corruption was already through and unlike a piece of mouldy bread, we couldn’t just pick the green bits off and throw them away. If that were an option, I would have no compunction about destroying the mirror and worrying about a new portal later.

We were interrupted by a servant, telling me that Horace and Dyisi wanted to see me. I said I would be out shortly and made my apologies to Aoibheann, assuming she probably wouldn’t want to be party to this conversation.

When I got out to the hall, I found Dyisi and Horace there. The latter was rigged for some serious expedition with an eclectic set of weapons, guns and protective gear, including what looked like a round Viking shield. Dyisi advised me that she had completed her research and modifications to the ritual and was ready when we were, unless we had found some other means. I told her I had been researching spells from my book on Gods and Demons, but had been struggling with the translation. I stopped mid-sentence and slapped myself on the head. Here I had been struggling with what I could remember of my schoolboy ancient Greek, and here was somebody who was almost certainly alive when the language was current. I told her where and approximately when the book had come from and asked if she could help with the translation, which she averred she could.

Horace, meanwhile, was complaining that he had not been allowed in the vaults. He had to see Vedis, he said, presumably concerning his mission to restore Faermorn. I told him that the vaults were sealed off for the moment because of the demonic corruption, and nobody was allowed down there until we found a means of dealing with it. I was prepared, however to get a message to Vedis, so that she could perhaps come and speak with him.

Horace was not so easily put off. Lucifer had some beef with him and he was going to Hell and he was going to put a bullet in Lucifer’s face and fix this shit once and for all. At least, that’s what he said, more or less, although he tried to change shoot to negotiate with after.

I opined that shooting Lucifer in the face might possibly be an unwise, not to say, terminal move, no matter how satisfying it might seem. I suggested that maybe we should try to speak to Vedis before taking such drastic action.

Dyisi was more pragmatic, suggesting that maybe he should have coated bullets before engaging such an opponent. She is clearly a good influence on him, and they seemed to have developed some sort of relationship. He was impressed with her advice and wished he had consulted with her earlier. At least he agreed to hold off on any immediate action. For a start, he wished to speak to me about our mutual friend first. He then decided that he had things he needed to do, talking to Ardan. I thanked him for consulting with me before taking action and off he went, Dyisi following soon after, once I had given her the demons book to translate for me.

Aoibheann had clearly been busy in my office when I went to fetch the book. With what I wasn’t quite sure at first, since the main evidence I had was that the rest of the bottle of wine I had opened earlier had been emptied into one of the pans of the scales on my desk. When I asked, she said she needed somewhere to keep the fire. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by that, but then she showed me the bottle. Sure enough, she had somehow captured a flame in it. I have to say I was more than a little impressed, if somewhat worried. The concept of Aoibheann and fire magic was frankly terrifying, but I declined to comment. She put it forward as a possible solution to our problem of taint, thinking that if she could capture fire in a bottle, we could maybe capture the taint. As ideas go, it wasn’t a bad one, even quite a good one, considering normal Aoibheann-logic. However, I did have doubts about the execution. I thanked her for the idea and said that we could review it once we had some better idea from Dyisi as to what the other spells would do.

I left her to it after that. There were other spells to read up on, and those at least were in a language I understood better. I just hope that Aoibheann doesn’t set anything on fire in the meantime.




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