We had to leave the Emporium. I’ll never be over it. I didn’t even get to see the museum of magical objects, I was too busy hanging out with all the cool creatures. But then Julian found a video on twitter of some guy apparently using magic to rob a jewelry store in a big city in the midwest that I’m not gonna name (it’s windy there, from what I understand).
So off we went to investigate. Devastating.
I didn’t get to do much during the investigation, since a lot of it meant posing as detectives and I HATE to admit this but Neal is right, I barely pass for 21. And even if I could pass for a real adult, I’m currently still various shades of purple and green from the bruising 😒.
So while they were off doing their investigation I sat in a coffee shop and did some assigned reading on the subject of sorcery. Because apparently there’s a difference between witchcraft and sorcery.
And by assigned reading I DO mean that Julian paid a visit to the Emporium’s apparently extensive library and found me a textbook for the monster hunting 101 crash course they’re giving me. I’m a real actual student! Turns out the entry exam was taking matters into my own hands with near-mortal consequences.
I’m really trying not to internalize the lesson that near death experiences convince the Hawthornes to give me what I want because I just don’t need worse nightmares okay. I’m at capacity.
Here’s what I learned.
There are apparently multiple ways to wield magic. We already know about witchcraft: magic that comes from a deep, abiding connection to a piece of land through generations of carefully maintained rituals. (I quoted that directly from the book, could you tell?)
So because of needing intergenerational cooperation for witchcraft to work, it’s not an easy way to come by magic. It IS the most reliable way. It also provides access to near limitless amounts of magic, because the source is like… generations of dedication and community. But like… it’s an investment most individuals don’t have access to.
So let’s say you’re just an average person looking to use some magic. You can turn to a couple other places.
First, there’s wizardry. This book didn’t have a ton of information on wizardry, because apparently there’s not a lot of information known about it. But here’s what we know: wizards have their own innate magic. Pros: innate magic seems cool. Cons: lol how many people have that? How many people do you know with innate magical abilities? (if that number isn’t zero hit me up, i just wanna talk). We don’t see many wizards — though the book did clarify somewhat ominously that we don’t see many wizards from this world, so maybe it’s more of a… different worlds kind of thing.
Second, we’ve got Warlocks, who draw magic from some kind of magical beast, which is sick. Apparently there are certain animals that can lend you magic and you act as a conduit for it. Magical best friends!
Third, Alchemists have no magic of their own, but they know how to draw magic out of stuff in the world. That’s where you find combining salamander spit with cat hair to make smoke happen or whatever. Seems like a lot of work.
And finally Sorcerers. They harness the same energies that haunt houses and convince them to their bidding. BIG fan of that. HUGE fan. How fuckin spooky. We love that energy.
I say, from the safety of a cafe, sipping tea and doodling. Meanwhile the Hawthornes were out hunting for a burglar who uses the power of ghosts. It took them a few hours to pinpoint the next place our sorcerer was likely to hit next.
Enter the segment of our week called, Stakeout at Tiffany’s.
“Alright, lets take some bets,” Neal said, mouth full of sandwich as we settled into the alley across the street. “Is this a real sorcerer, or just a nerd with a petty crime issue?”
“I have no opinion on whether he’s the real deal,” Julian replied, squinting at the Tiffany’s across the street. “But I will say that a real sorcerer probably wouldn’t leave a tweet of himself doing real magic on the internet for any extended amount of time.”
“That’s a good point,” Neal said. “We’ve got one bet for nerd with a crime issue. What you think Shiloh, is this guy a sorcerer and an idiot or a nerd who loves stealing?”
I admit, I was leaning towards the real thing because ya girl REALLY wanted to meet a guy who harnesses the power of ghosts, I mean really what a fucking mood, amazing, but then Julian saw someone.
He handed Neal the binoculars.
“Oh yeah, look at that,” Neal said. “That guy’s prepping to rob the Tiffany’s.” He put down the binoculars with a smirk. “What an idiot. I hope he’s got actual magic or he’s gonna have a real bad time.”
And then someone tapped on our window. There was a man standing outside.
“Huh,” Neal said. “I admit I didn’t see this coming.”
The man tapped on the window again, and this time I saw he was tapping with the nose of a hand gun.
“Hi there,” he said, voice muffled.
“What do you think,” Neal said.
Julian shrugged. “I only see three.”
“Probably all armed,” Neal said. “Damnit we need to teach Shiloh how to shoot.”
They were absolutely calm about this development, but I was fucking frozen in my seat. Turns out I’m super not into guns. I guess that’s what happens when you get shot in the fucking face.
“I’m gonna ask you boys to step on out of the car,” said guys man. “Me and my friends have some questions for ya.”
Neal looked at Julian and shrugged. “I mean,” he said. He gestured at the guy. “Fuck it, right?”
“Yeah, alright,” Julian said. “Shiloh?”
They both twisted to look at me and must have seen the panic in my face because their expressions softened. “Just let us do the talking,” Neal said. “These guys are kittens compared to Corn Wolves.”
I nodded even though I was horrified, and then Neal popped open the door.
“Hi there,” said gun guy. “What are you boys doing?”
“Just out for a drive,” Neal said. “We really love Tiffany’s.”
“Uh huh.” The guy with the gun was big and meaty, maybe in his 40s, with a round friendly face and big hands. His lackeys were twitchy. “You Tony’s boys?”
“Who?” Julian asked.
“Uh huh,” gun guy said doubtfully.
“We’re just hunting a sorcerer,” Neal said. “We don’t care who you rob.”
“Sorcerer?” said the guy with the gun. He scratched his hairline with the nose of his gun. “Jesus. You saw those stupid videos on the internet huh?” He reached unexpectedly and cuffed the younger of his lackeys on the back of his head. “What did I tell you, huh? Now we’ve got these idiots to deal with.”
“I just wanted to —” the kid started, but stopped with gun guy cuffed him again.
“Look boys, this —” he gestured around to implicate the whole situation — “it’s a mistake, okay? Big misunderstanding. Now I gotta be honest, you’ve seen an awful lot more than I’m totally comfortable with but I think we can come to some kind of arrange—” he stopped abruptly when he saw me. “Hey honey, you okay?”
“What?” I squeaked.
“You’re looking a little banged up,” gun guy clarified, waving a hand in front of his own face. “You alright? Are these boys… friends of yours?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer that, and also was blindsided by how the headline of the night went from Sorcerer Hunters Make Shady Arrangement with Local Organized Crime, to Local Crime Guy Concerned for Potentially Abused Teenage Girl’s Wellbeing.
“Listen honey, all you gotta do is say the word and we’ll get you out of here,” said the gun guy and despite the fact that I was terrified of his gun I was sort of moved, but I was cut off from reassuring him that we were just run of the mill monster hunters when one of the lackeys nudged gun guy and pointed down the alley.
There was a man at the end of the alley, silhouetted against a streetlight.
“For fucks sake,” sighed gun guy. “They said this was gonna be a simple robbery.”
He tucked the gun into the back of his jeans and called, “Hey there, everything alright?”
I expected the guy to keep going, but instead he started walking towards us purposefully. Julian reached out and pulled me back against the alley wall, and as we watched, this guy took out one, two, three of these guys with tight, practiced, surprisingly acrobatic badassery. When Lackey Jr got up and tried to run, one efficient punch and he crumpled like a sack of spuds.
The stranger took a deep breath. “You guys got a phone?” he said. When he turned to look at us I realized he was wearing a MASK.
Julian mutely held his up as evidence.
“Call the police,” the mask said.
“Wait up —” Neal began but he was already crossing the street to deal with our fake sorcerer.
There was a long silence.
“Alright, so who bet we’d be stopped by gangsters and then rescued by a masked vigilante?” Neal said and Julian dissolved into disbelieving laughter.