// MARSCAPONE SCHOOL OF MAGIC //
I awoke with a start. My window was open an the cool, dry air of Spring trickled into my room like waterfall. No sound came from the inside of the house.
My clock read 2:52 AM. The silence was expected but unwelcome. Something felt off.
Since my return from the clutches of the Doctor Trelaine, I was no longer bound to my room. Mother had showered me with kisses and promised change, real change. She apologized, something she was loath to do, and told me the house was mine if I wished it.
But all I had wanted was a return to normalcy.
I reveled in the privacy that my room afforded me. I enjoyed listening to the students’ lessons from inside the safety of my own four walls. After all, the Talent had not fallen to me.
I soon found myself becoming more and more like my father.
Curse and all.
During the night hours, I wandered the house freely; It was in this quiet I felt the most secure. I even left the bounds of the fence from time to time accompanied by my father. As I grew, he was teaching me things that could not be got from books.
I hoped some day I could be as limitless as he seemed to me.
The clock clicked over into the next minute and I felt my fears claw at me. I left my room and wandered the home listlessly, anxiety staining the edges of my awareness as I looked for my father. I peeked into the kitchen, where even in the middle of the night the remnants of Mother’s tea could often be found.
She was never one to get a full night’s rest.
But the teapot was dry and the fireplace was cold. The enchanted wall-sconces flickered with candlelight but they offered no promise of life.
I opened the door of the basement and called into its shadows.
In a rush, a red-haired Vampire appears on the stairs to face me. He is pale and gaunt, with a deep scar running down his cheek.
George Henry spoke with an indistinct accent; a genteel Southern drawl elongated certain vowels and made him seem a foreigner. I thought, too, that at times he sounded Irish, but I had never been completely certain of his origin. All I knew was that he was an old friend of Father’s and one of the few individuals that he trusted implicitly.
YOUNG MASTER, YOUR FATHER IS…INDISPOSED AT THE MOMENT.
I’M SORRY HE CANNOT COME UP TO MEET YOU.
WHAT’S WRONG? IS HE HURT?
THE MASTER IS NOT INJURED –
IS THAT YOU?
My mother’s voice comes from the lower level. My heart drops as I fear the worst.
YES, MOTHER. IT’S ME.
MAY I COME IN?
SEND HIM DOWN.
George Henry disappears down the stairwell. I am glad to hear my parents’ voices but I fear what I’m about to find. The air is thick with Mother’s smoke.
When I reach the landing, the floor is silent as if I’ve interrupted whispers of truth. My mother emerges from the open hallway of my father’s sanctum.
She walks slowly and deliberately, as if retracing steps already trod by a predecessor. I was accustomed to this and thought nothing of it; Though our family rarely cared much for birthdays, I knew she was nearing her hundredth.
KEVIN…IT’S ONE OF MY STUDENTS.
INJURED? HE’D HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF.
INJURED WE COULD HAVE HEALED.
My father is around the corner, out of my line-of-sight. But his voice rings clear.
My mother turns her facing toward me and steps toward me, placing her hand on my shoulder. She was a tall woman, looking almost stretched at times. It was difficult to observe that our eyes met. I did not feel I yet deserved this height.
HE’S BEEN CURSED.
A magical ailment that required something beyond commonplace salves and ointments.
HE’S NOT EXACTLY BEEN CURSED, EITHER.
IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Even muted by the emergency, my parents would find something to bicker about.
My father steps into the hallway, leaving his chamber. I supposed the weakened student lay on the floor of his plain room.
ONE OF YOUR STUDENTS, MOTHER?
I liked some of the Orphans more than the others.
SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENED ON THE STUDENTS’ SPRING BREAK.
ONE STUDENT STRUCK ANOTHER WITH THEIR CAR.
THE STORY DOESN’T END THERE.
SHE USED A SCROLL OF RESURRECTION.
I hadn’t known such magicks could be bound to parchment.
RESURRECTION IS SOMETHING BEST LEFT TO THE HIGHER POWERS.
ONCE DEATH HAS HOLD UPON A SOUL, IT IS BEST TO LET HIS GREEDY HANDS TAKE IT WHERE IT NEEDS TO GO.
I DO NOT ADVOCATE TAKING WHAT IS THEIRS.
I FEAR THE WORST…
EVEN THE GODS DO NOT ALLOW HE WHO’S PASSED ON TO RETURN WITHOUT CAUSE.
BUT HERE HE IS, LYING ON THE FLOOR OF MY CHAMBER.
He buries his forehead in his palm.
THE SCROLL WAS ONE OF AN ANCIENT COLLECTION.
THE LANGUAGE OLDER THAN ANYTHING I KNOW HOW TO READ.
THE ONLY THING WE COULD FIGURE WAS THAT IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE USED.
NOT UNLESS IT WERE –
THE END OF THE WORLD.
I did not know what to say.
WHAT KIND OF A CURSE IS IT?
IT’S A CALL TO ARMS. A HORN SOUNDING AT THE END OF THE WORLD CALLING ALL TO BATTLE.
AND YOU HAD THIS SCROLL IN YOUR COLLECTION?
WHY DIDN’T YOU DESTROY IT?
TRUTH WAS, YOUR MOTHER STOLE IT.
I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT.
WELL MAYBE YOU SHOULD, AS IF YOU’D NOT STOLEN IT, IT WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN STOLEN FROM YOU!
My mother turns to me and trys to affect a calming, didactic tone.
SCROLLS, ONCE IMBUED WITH MAGIC, TAKE UP A LIFE OF THEIR OWN IN MANY WAYS.
MYSTERIOUS, UNCALLED-FOR THINGS HAPPEN.
IT WARPS THE FLOW OF THE WEAVE AROUND ITSELF.
IT IS NO EXCUSE FOR WHAT’S HAPPENED, BUT, IT’S ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THE SCROLL WANTED TO BE USED.
YOU’RE RIGHT IT’S NO EXCUSE.
YOU CANNOT DENY YOUR FREEDOM OF CHOICE.
WE MUST ALWAYS TRY TO RESIST THE LURE OF THE DEVIL’S SILKEN LIES.
IF YOU WERE SO CERTAIN, WHY DIDN’T YOU TRY TO GET RID OF IT?
I TRY NOT TO MAKE A HABIT OF GOING THROUGH YOUR THINGS, WOMAN!
BESIDES, I HAD NO IDEA IF THIS WERE WRAPPED UP WITH THE COVEN.
I DON’T GO MUCKING AROUND IN THAT.
WELL MAYBE IF YOU HAD NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED!
I NEEDED YOUR GUIDANCE.
AM I YOUR FATHER OR AM I YOUR HUSBAND?
YOU’RE A BIT MORE CAPABLE THAN MY FATHER EVER WAS!
AND WHAT WAS I TO DO WITH THE SCROLL?
BECOME ITS NEW CAPTIVE?
YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN A MORE SUITABLE HOST THAN HERMIONE GRANGER!
A LOCK MIGHT HAVE SUFFICED.
The two continue their quarrel. But there is nothing intelligible that will be sorted out. Hindsight is 20/20.
WHO IS IT?
My mother sighs unhappily.