“You don’t know the passcode?” Andi asked. She knew that Laura had said she was locked out, but somehow she still expected her to know the code. How else were they supposed to get in?
Laura shook her head though. “I was hoping you might have a better idea.”
Andi couldn’t think why. The problem was, she did have a few better ideas. But they relied on either revealing their demonic powers or getting Laura to leave and on doing a bit of damage to the Clerk family shed. Neither was a particularly palatable first option.
“We could just knock,” Jenny said.
Since when was she the reasonable one, Andi thought.
Laura just nodded. She gestured at the door, as if she expected either Jenny or Andi to make the first move.
Andi turned to her friend expectantly. It was her idea after all.
Jenny rolled her eyes at her, then stopped up to the door, raised her hand, and knocked.
The instant her hand touched the door, she jerked it back as if she had been burnt. She hissed, likely holding back from cursing.
Laura snickered slightly. She had known?
Jenny whirled on her. Andi saw her hand moving towards the pocket where she knew she was carrying the demon imbued pocket watch. That couldn’t be good.
“What did you do that for?” Andi asked. She shifted slightly so that she was standing partially in between Jenny and Laura. She knew that if push came to shove and Jenny activated the demon in the watch, she wouldn’t be able to do a thing to stop her. Even with demonically enhanced strength and resilience, there wasn’t much you could do to a blur.
“Don’t you think I haven’t tried that?” she said. She still sounded more amused than defensive and not at all worried about how Jenny might react.
Luckily, Andi could already see that Jenny was calming, although she hadn’t yet removed her hand from her pocket. The other hand–the one that had been stung by the door–she was shaking slightly, as if there were still lingering effects of whatever had happened to her. “Well, you could have mentioned that.” she muttered.
Laura’s smile faded only slightly. “I suppose.”
“And how do you expect us to get in, if we can’t even knock?”
She shrugged. “That’s what I was hoping you could help with. He’s not exactly normal and you knew that. Perhaps I was hoping that you weren’t entirely normal either…”
Andi just couldn’t read her. She was starting to lean away from not knowing anything, but she didn’t think she would go quite all of the way to knowing about demons. Perhaps, like the drugs, she knewsomething but not necessarily about the demons.
“We could try the windows,” Jenny suggested.
“Won’t work,” Laura cut in this time. “It’s reinforced.”
Andi thought that she could punch through it with the strength of the demon in her ring. But that would be revealing their upper hand–and if it were electrified as the door seemed to be, that might be even worse than when Jenny had done it.
“There’s really no way in?” Jenny sounded like she was getting frustrated again. Andi couldn’t blame her.
“Can you give us a moment?” Andi asked.
Laura didn’t even take a moment to consider, she just turned on her heel and headed back down the path. Andi assumed that she would turn back when she had gone far enough, but before that became an issue…
“So what do you think?” Andi asked Jenny, keeping her voice low even though there was almost no way that Laura could hear them. “Is he the one that’s after us?”
Jenny shrugged. “No idea. How much do you trust Percy?”
Andi considered. Honestly, she wasn’t sure. She didn’t think that he’d explicitly told an untruth, but he had lied by omission. He seemed to be interested enough in Andi’s well being, but she felt that his real interest was actually the book and in seeing a new ‘good’ sorcerer trained–it didn’t necessarily have to be her. With all of that together though–“Enough.”
Which meant that they had to look into it. Andi gestured back at Laura who had stopped just in sight down the path. “Think she’d mind if I broke the door?” She gestured slightly with her ring, just in case Jenny didn’t realize how exactly she’d do that.
Jenny glared at the door. “Won’t that just shock you even worse?”
As if she hadn’t already considered that. “Sure. But I think I can handle it.”
She hadn’t noticed, but Jenny was slightly cradling her hand even now. Jenny arched an eyebrow at her and turned her hand up. There was an angry red welt on the side, right where she would have come into contact with the door.
Andi hissed. “What the hell did he do to that door?”
“Dunno,” Jenny said, “but like I said, you might want to hold off on punching it.”
“Laura said they were reinforced…”
“That won’t stop me.”
“…and possibly electrified as well.”
Andi went silent for a moment. “The walls themselves?”
“Depends, how paranoid do you think this guy actually is? If you’ve already got a defense system running through the doors and windows…”
“Yeah, I know.”
“We could wait for him to come out.”
Andi considered the suggestion, but she didn’t particularly want to be here that long. They didn’t even known if they were on the right track to begin with.
She looked up at Jenny. “I know that look. What?”
Jenny grinned wickedly. “We could burn it down.”
It was a mark of just how few options they had come up with that Andi was actually seriously considering it. but her mind was already working through how terrible of an idea that was and providing an alternative.
“What are we even talking about? We’re sorcerers.”
“Yeah…” There was a definite duh there, but Andi ignored it.
“Come on, haven’t you come across anything else in that book?”
She could think of a few vague ideas, but she was shooting each one down as she first thought of it. Nothing quite worked out.
Jenny thought for a moment, then actually smiled. “How would you feel about walking through walls?”
The problem with summoning a new demon in order to get in to talk to Maxwell was that they didn’t have any of the supplies that they would need. Not to mention the fact that Laura might look askance at them should they ask for the room and privacy they would need.
With the amount of time that it would take to drive home, get the supplies, perform the summoning, and get back, they might as well have just waited for Maxwell to come out–assuming he was even there in the first place and that he would actually leave any time during the evening. But neither of them seemed particularly keen on remaining there any longer than was necessary.
Laura seemed surprisingly fine with the idea of them coming back the next day. Andi had expected that she would insist that they stay and help her with her brother–after the way that she’d taken to them after all. But instead, she almost seemed to be pushing them out of the door. Strange but not nearly the strangest thing that they had seen recently, so she didn’t think anything more about it.
They promised they’d be back the next day with a way to get in to the shed. Laura didn’t even ask what their plan was–which should have been strange as well–she just nodded, seemingly sure that they would be able to work it out.
If only they had asked her why.
Jenny’s memory was entirely correct. There was a demon that would allow them to walk through any solid surface. With just that, it was somewhat problematic–falling straight through the Earth would tend to put a damper on anyone’s day.
With a bit more work though, it was possible to put something of a mental filter on it to give you the ability to control exactly what would let you through.
But then it was possible that you’d lose control right in the middle of a wall, only to merge your body with the wall down to your very molecular structure.
Not particularly pleasant sounding.
In the end, they went with mental control with an additional failsafe. Should they lose mental control, state would be preserved. So they could still get stuck in the middle of a wall, but at least the parts of them that were within the wall would remain insubstantial until they could regain consciousness.
It sounded strange, but it was the best that they could come up with.
The most difficult component they had to find was a mirror at least forty seven years old. The number seemed completely arbitrary–but also of utmost importance. Any younger and it just wouldn’t work. Terribly much older and it would work–just with less control. Off to the antique shops!
The summoning went off without a hitch. It was strange, since Jenny asked Andi do it by herself and sequestered herself in the bedroom. Andi didn’t ask why–she seemed awfully intent on the idea. She thought she heard chanting, implying that Jenny was doing a summoning as well, but the figured that her friend would tell her what she was up to when she needed to know.
Summoning a demon that would let them walk through walls though–that went great. The demon was bound in the mirror. Luckily, they had found a handheld piece that was only about six inches in diameter, so it would be possible to hide on their person without revealing too much to Laura, just so long as she wasn’t watching them when they walked through the walls.
Of course, the first thing that Andi wanted to do was test it out. Since Jenny was in her room, she went for the bathroom instead. Closing the door, she took out the mirror and held it up in front of her.
“Geister,” she said.
She wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to work–the book tended to be rather silent on that issue, only pointing out that depending on the exact arrangement of enhancements in the summoning, the result could be rather different indeed. In this case, the demon resided in the mirror. In others, the mirror might have been destroyed and the demon could have been bound in another of the material ingredients.
Immediately though, the surface of the mirror started to shift. For a moment, it looked like nothing less than the surface of a lake blowing in the wind. The surface was still vertical, which ruined the effect somewhat and as she moved the mirror from side to side she could see that it was only an illusion. The surface was not actually wavering, no matter how it looked.
A moment later, the surface grew calm once again. She turned it back so that it faced her head on, expecting to see herself, but instead the mirror seemed to have gone completely transparent. What was more, holding it up to the bathroom door, she could see right through it. It appeared to only remove a single layer–the wall on the far side of the bathroom was as solid as ever, but she could see right through it.
Strange still, she could see the mirror just on the other side of the bathroom door. Reflecting back towards the door, she half expected to see the hole she was looking through, but no such luck. She was looking through the door one way and at the back side of the door the other.
“Huh.” She hadn’t been expecting that. It was related to the target result of the demon, that was true, but it was also the first time that a demon had done something different than what she’d intended it to do. “I wonder if it even works at all…”
Unfortunately, there was really only one way to test that.
Hesitating for only a moment, she took a step forward, right into the door.
Or rather, where the door should have been. The moment she stepped against it, she flinched, her mind still expecting the door to be solid, but reality not quite agreeing with her assessment. There was a brief cool feeling on her skin–not unlike a brisk winter breeze–and then she was standing in the bathroom.
“Cool.” So being able to see through walls was just a pleasant bonus. Plus, it gave her an idea.
Turning around so that she was facing the hallway again, she walked back through the door. Again, nothing but a slightly breeze and she was through. But this time, she was facing the bedroom.
Part of her wasn’t thrilled with the idea of spying on her friend. But the rest of her still wasn’t sure about her. Percy’s words stuck in her mind and she just couldn’t let the idea go that perhaps her friend wasn’t taking being a sorcerer as well as she was.
Just a peek couldn’t hurt.
She had been right.
Jenny had been doing a summoning of her own.
Andi just barely held bad a gasp.
None of the demons that they had summoned had looked anything like what she’d always thought a demon would look like. Steel rings, pocket watches, mirrors; the demons in these were invisible, intangible, and didn’t have a way to interact with the outside world, other than the minor abilities they intended.
If anything, the base demon was the closest they got. It had a physical form–even if it was one that would fade–and it could answer questions–just albeit yes or no only.
The demon now residing in her bedroom was a bit… more than that.
Andi didn’t think that she could have summoned a more stereotypical demon had she tried. Eight feet tall if it was an inch, its horns–yes,horns–brushed against her ceiling. Its chest was twice as wide as any man’s she’d ever seen and its skin was a deep, dark red. It had a pitch black beard, curling down and eyes to match–no white, no color at all, just black. All in all, it was terrifying.
And it was in her bedroom!
She was already regretting spying. A part of her–a small part–wanted to know what in the world Jenny was doing. The rest just wanted to forget, to pretend that she’d never seen the thing standing there right beside her bed.
But she didn’t she could ever forget it.
And then it turned to look at her.
Subconsciously, she had expected that the mirror would work the same way as it had the first time, that she would be able to look in, but they wouldn’t be able to look back. But apparently that wasn’t the case. Apparently the demon in her room could see her just fine.
She saw it open its mouth and speak, although she couldn’t quite make out the words. There was a deep rumbling sort of sound that she felt more than heard, but that was it. She glanced through the door over to Jenny, who turned towards her as well.
Luckily, she didn’t seem to notice anything. Andi saw her face sour and she turned back to the demon, clearly saying something but Andi couldn’t make out her words any more than she could the demon’s.
The demon shrugged.
The motion was so normal–so human–it at first threw Andi for a loop. She expected fire and brimstone, not an indifferent sort of shrug. It seemed though that although it apparently could see her, the demon didn’t particularly care.
Andi looked away, lowering the mirror, but she couldn’t slow her mind. Running a mile a minute, she just couldn’t track. What in the world was Jenny thinking? Had she finally snapped? Had Percy been right?
Worse yet, she couldn’t very well confront her… she wasn’t supposed to know that Jenny had been doing a summoning of her own. Although come to think of it, it was kind of obvious. But still, what was she supposed to do.
She was spared having to worry any longer by the sudden sound of a deafening roar, coming from her bedroom.
Andi reacted without thinking.
In one swift motion, she activated her steel ring and burst through the door.
She felt a slight resistance. A moment later, her mind realized that the door had been locked and that she must have broken the lock off. That thought was quickly overcome by the sight of the massive demon–looking even bigger in real life.
It was standing almost straight, its back arched back, its face to the sky. It was no longer making a sound, but there was no doubt whatsoever that the sound had come from it.
“Andi!” Jenny cried out.
Andi jerked her attention over to her friend. She was standing right where she had been mere moments before when Andi had looked through her mirror. She didn’t appear to be in any pain or anything, but that didn’t mean that she hadn’t made a terrible mistake.
The pleasant tenor coming from the beast was the last thing Andi would have expected. Had she had the time to think about it, she would have said that it should have had a deep rumbling voice, something more like Percy’s only… more. But no, it sounded like the perfect gentleman, which only made the situation all the worse.
She stared at it.
It was watching her calmly enough, clearly waiting for something. It still looked terrifying, but at least for the moment it wasn’t making any threatening moves.
“What is this?” Andi hissed at Jenny.
Jenny glared back, but didn’t say a thing.
“This is a demon,” the demon responded instead, again in that annoyingly pleasant voice. “And if you don’t mind, this demon is standing right here.”
Andi didn’t know how to react to that. Demons were alive–more or less-but this was the first time that she’d actually had evidence that was the case. All of the other demons were tools–this was a real flesh and blood person.
“Where did you get the body?”
Jenny’s glare faded at that slightly and she perked up. “That’s actually a pretty neat story. It turns out that you can mess with the physical anchor when you’re summoning, giving it abilities just as must as you can otherwise.”
Jenny reached over to Andi’s bedside table and picked up a thin sheet of what looked like cardboard. She lightly tossed it to Andi, who caught it easily. She still hadn’t deactivated her own demon.
She looked down, then back up at Jenny, an incredulous look on her face.
“An action figure?”
The cardboard in her hand was perhaps a foot tall and had the remains of the adhesive where a plastic shield would have stuck. Along the top in a particularly ridiculous font, there was the name of a fairly popular–to hear her young cousins talk about it–kid’s show, along with the name of the demon itself.
“At your service.”
Now that her brain had made the connection, there was no mistaking that voice. It was a perfect match for the actor that played Big Red on the television show, although in that case the demon wasn’t quite so … real.
She hadn’t expected an answer, but Jenny seemed in a lot better mood, now that it was clear–at least to her–that Andi wasn’t about to attack her creation. “Isn’t it awesome?”
“It is still standing right here.”
Both of the women turned to the demon. “What are you planning on doing with it?” Andi asked.
The demon made a sort of huffing sound. “Honestly.”
“Fine. Him. What are you going to do with him?”
“Slightly better,” the demon said, “although doing with him is hardly better.”
Andi rolled her eyes. Far from being deadly, Jenny’s new demon just seemed … annoying.
“I thought we could use a bit of backup.”
Andi didn’t disagree with that in any particular. “But him? Big Red?”
Jenny at least had the sense to look a bit askance at that. “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
“You did you use the Big Red action figure.”
“Well, I didn’t have another choice…”
“How did you even get one of those anyways?” Andi had done the buying at the last few stores that they’d stopped by–she was going to have one heck of a credit card statement come the end of the month–and she couldn’t recall anything of the sort.
Jenny’s face flushed and she turned slightly towards her demonic friend. At barely five feet herself, the effect was almost comical.
“So, do you have all of the powers you were supposed to?”
Andi looked at her for a moment; she couldn’t help but notice that she hadn’t exactly answered the question. Still, she was interesting in the demon’s answer as well. Exactly what powers had she granted him?
The demon inclined its–his–head. “Of course.” Which wasn’t a helpful answer at all.
“Such as?” Andi prompted.
Both of the others turned to look at her for a moment, then the demon turned to Jenny.
“Go ahead,” she said.
The demon nodded once again and again turned back to Andi. It’s voice took on a lecturing tone, although somehow it made even that sound pleasant.
“Enhanced speed and strength, well beyond the human norm. Approximately equal to what you have right now.”
“Also, the ability to read my opponents. Musculature, body language, stance. Anything that might be necessary to determine the strength of my opponent and how to best defeat them.”
Andi looked over at Jenny, but she was watching her creation with a rather satisfied expression on her face.
“Not quite the ability to read minds, but at least it’s the next best thing.”
Andi shook her head. Thank goodness for small favors at least. A demon like that who could read minds?
“And best of all, easy travel mode.”
Andi blinked. “What?” She could imagine the demon being and doing many things, but easy to travel with was none of those. That thing would stick out like a sore thumb in the best of situations; it would likely cause a panic in the worse.
Andi blinked. Big Red was shrinking. The effect was disorienting to say the least. Focusing on him, Andi almost felt like she was lifting off the ground, but of course she wasn’t moving; he was.
It took about thirty seconds all told, accelerating towards then end and finishing with a final satisfying popping sound. All that was left sitting on the floor was the original Big Red action figure–albeit somewhat less big of course.
“Cool.” She had to admit, it looked somewhat less threatening down on the ground like that. “Can he still hear us?”
Jenny looked abashed. “I’m… not actually sure. I know that he can’t speak while he’s in this form.”
“Well that’s something at least.” Andi thought back to the base demons of each summoning–the only other ones that she could really compare Big Red to. “Can he lie?”
Jenny shook her head. “No. Well. No, he shouldn’t be able to.”
“Shouldn’t be able to or can’t?”
“Can’t.” But she didn’t sound particularly confident.
Andi hoped that it wouldn’t be an issue either way, but she couldn’t shake her first impression upon seeing the demon the first time–she didn’t trust it.
“I’m sure it’s fine. So … why?”
Jenny couldn’t possibly have missed the real meaning of her question. “I thought we could use some help.”
“Fair enough, but why didn’t you say anything?”
She looked down at the ground. “I didn’t think you’d go for it.”
Andi considered that for a moment. Now that she’d seen the demon–both large and in charge and in travel mode–she couldn’t honestly answer the question. She’d been terrified at first and wasn’t much better now. “You could at least have asked.”
“I…” Her voice trailed off and she shook her head. “So how did your summoning going.”
Andi considered. She still wasn’t thrilled that Jenny had gone and done a summoning without her, particularly one that neither of them was entirely sure of. But she’d done things over the years that Jenny hadn’t approved of and she’d always been supportive. So she’d give her a chance.
“It went great.” That was certainly a worthwhile side topic, she definitely wanted to pick Jenny’s brain on why she’d gotten the extra ability she entirely hadn’t aimed for. “Here, check it out.”
Jenny didn’t know any better than Andi did why exactly she had gotten the x-ray mirror. She was a bit distracted–and with her own summoning like that, who could blame her. She thought that it might have been a mistake in the summoning–which of course Andi denied–that actually turned out rather well. Most botched summonings weren’t quite so beneficial. For how bad they effects could have been, if she really had botched the summoning, she’d gotten off remarkably well.
By now, it was rather late. Andi offered Jenny her couch once again, saying that they should head out to the Clerk Family Winery early in the morning. Jenny seemed agreeable enough to the idea, although she did roll her eyes when Andi insisted that she take the Big Red figure out of her bedroom when she went. For all Andi knew, the thing was still entirely conscious, just immobile, and she could not deal with that thing watching her sleep.
Optimally, they would have planned a bit more for what they were going to do in the morning, but the basic idea was straight forward enough. Andi’s new mirror would take them through the walls and their ring and pocket watch would protect them in a fight. Jenny insisted on bringing Big Red–‘why else did I summon him?’–although Andi managed to convince her that he would be a last resort.
It was going to be an interesting day, that much was certain.