We walked towards Central Park as the sun began to make its slow trek down to the underworld. As I understand, the park has a sizable body of water, perfect for location spells. Walt was guiding me to an area where he said no one would be at this hour. It was calm and peaceful.
He was right. Although there were some people riding bicycles, and others were running about for the sheer joy of running, once we got to our destination, all was quiet.
“I need you to do whatever you do to focus on the scarab,” he told me.
I did. I focused. I took a bowl that I’d brought with me. I put a drying autumn leaf on the surface. I plucked out one hair from my head and sprinkled it on the leaf.
The way the location spell works, at least the way that I know it, is that I can only travel in one cardinal direction at a time. If the object I seek is Northeast, the spell will take me north, and then I would have to cast the spell again to go east. The hard part is, I don’t know how far north to go. It could be 1 mile, or a hundred miles or a thousand miles. I could overshoot or undershoot, so it’s not the quickest way to travel.
However, if I knew exactly where something was, I could get there immediately. Just poof here, and re-poof there.
I concentrated. I spoke. “Find me the Horsehead Scarab.” I poofed in a cloud of red smoke for effect. When I re-materialized I was…back at the Central Park lake. “I don’t understand,” I told Walt.
“Me neither,” he said, scratching his temples. He was an older man than he looked when I met him. He was worn and tired, a man of maybe 65, 70 years of age. I on the other hand, was a middle-aged imp of roughly 1500, and I missed my wife of 400 years.
An Impsleep can last tens of years, and is akin to hibernation. Just like other animals that hibernate, it’s not a constant, uninterrupted sleep. We wake occasionally and then return. But the dreams…those are where she is, and I have to go back. Which is why not finding the scarab is such a setback for me. That damn ring is in his possession, and for the time being, so am I.
“It must not be in this world,” I offered. Maybe you can give me back my ring and we can call it a day, I meant.
The old man looked past me pensively. “He must be cloaking it somehow. It’s there, I know it is.”
I looked back at him, trying to catch his gaze. There was so much that didn’t make sense to me. “Walt. Walt! There shouldn’t be any magic on Earth any longer. All the magic realms are gone from here. How is he cloaking anything?”
“Your ring was here, therefore your impish magic remains. You don’t know what other things are still here, or what other magic remains. Vilmer is a mage, young as far as mages go, but very powerful. He can do things like this, cover his tracks.”
“Unless…” I began to think, which is hard after you’ve been asleep for years and years.
“Unless?” Walter seemed to be looking at the sky and seemed to become impatient.
“Unless the reason I can’t find it is because I’m not at full power. My magic could conceivably be waning.”
“You’re not getting your ring back until I get the scarab, if that’s what you’re after,” he said rather meanly. “Any other way to recharge your batteries?”
There were times that I was awake in the 20th Century on and off, so I knew what batteries were. “Yes. We have to find grimmle-berries. They’re kind of a cure-all.”
There was a lined black fence encircling the portion of the lake where we were. Walt jumped on a bicycle that was lying against it. He put on a helmet and secured it tight. “I have to get going, but I’ll have a long think about how to find you your berries. In the meantime, scout Vilmer’s antique shop. He’s open all night, on 53rd street and Parade Avenue. See whatever you can find from there. But don’t get him suspicious about anything. Remember, he is very very powerful.”
With a boost from his right foot, he was off like a shot. He went so quickly that I lost him making a right turn after 10 seconds.
Vilmer’s power would be nothing to me. If I were at capacity, that is. As I took the long walk to 53rd street, I thought long and hard about my situation. We failed, long ago to rid this world of magical intrusions apparently. I thought we had succeeded. Earth doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to humans, I thought. Magic has no place in it.
And yet it’s here. As am I. And both of us are unwelcome.