Happy Monday, Adventurers! Guess what! I went to Niagara Falls this weekend! That is a place where there are lots of casinos and some water that falls off a cliff into a river below. Also, a Hard Rock Cafe AND a Planet Hollywood are there. That's how you know it's fancy.
I kid, I kid. I had a great weekend! But now it's time to be back at work. Ugh. WORK. At least we have an Adventure to keep us going!
Last week, with Dace threatening to kill either your dad or Eli, you chose:
Cast a stun spell at Dace. And hope it hits him before he finishes his killing curse.
Cross your fingers! And remember that I like to kill people! (In fiction only, obvs!)
"Incapacitus!" you fling the stun spell at Dace, overcompensating for the primary school wand you're using, not to mention the sheer hate you feel.
The spell works too well - Dace, incapacitated by your stunning spell, teeters back on his heels. It seems to take a lifetime for him to fall back and hit his head sharply against the wall, yet time folds in on you when you see the bright red blood gushing out onto the floor.
"Shit!" you yelp, and before you even finish your thought, you are on your knees shaking Dace desperately. The guy is a dick, but he doesn't deserve to die. And you certainly don't want to be a killer. It's going to be hard enough campaigning for Homecoming Queen now that you know you're a half-necro hybrid freak, but you really can't see the student body crowning a girl who accidentally offed her secretly-gay, super-evil boyfriend. So Dace simply cannot die, and that's all there is to that.
"Tabs . . . " Eli mutters your name, kindly but with a hint of nerves beneath his voice. "I think we should probably move him. Someone could come along soon."
Move him? Like, cover it all up? Tell everyone that Dace went on a spontaneous holiday to his favorite little condo in South Beach - really, how could you have been so obtuse? - without letting anyone know? No. Absolutely not. Well . . . No. Absolutely not.
"Eli, here is what is going to happen," you direct through gritted teeth. Copping an attitude feels natural and you stop to ponder that you used to boss everyone around all the time, and that only a few days ago, you were ruling the school. It feels like thirteen weeks ago, you think to yourself.
Snapping back, you glare at Eli. "You're going to raise Dace, and you're going to do it really fucking fast.We can move him to the laundry room. My father can help," you add, glancing over at your father. Seeing him makes you draw a sharp breath. Your father's eyes have started to film over and his breathing has slowed to an almost imperceptible pace. You don't understand. It looks as if he's dying.
Could Dace have managed to send out the killing curse before being stunned? But no, you've seen the killing curse in action (a particularly nasty neighborhood boy used to boast that he mastered the killing curse on ants and other pests; it was not a surprise when he was later arrested and sent to Gainschwitz for killing his grandmother); the recipient of the curse always instantly drops dead. This, this slow fading action, is something different.
"What's happening to my dad," you whisper, unaware of how broken you sound until Eli puts a supporting hand on your shoulder. For a moment you lean in to him, wishing that you could perform the Unknowable Spell, a spell rumored to allow you to turn back time. No one in recorded history had ever mastered it before, though, and you knew it was a spell far out of the reaches of a teenager.
"Maybe-" Eli, broke off, clearly reticent to share his theory and cause you further pain. "Maybe the spell that Dace's father cast on your dad had a caveat of some kind, something that we just accidentally triggered somehow."
"Like an insurance policy," you say slowly, realization dawning. "So that if something bad happened to Phinaes Shaw - or his son - my dad would be the one to suffer."
"It'd be a way of exerting power over the other members of the Council," Eli agreed. "If even one decided that Shaw had grown too powerful, if one of them tried to kill off Shaw, they'd risk trapping all of your father's secrets at the same time. But he just never assumed that Dace might meet his end accidentally."
"He didn't," you answer. "I killed Dace - he died by malevolent force. Maybe it was an accident, but it was still my spell. Still my fault."
Eli shakes you impatiently. "Don't be stupid. It's not your fault! You were only trying to protect your father . . . and me." He ends his statement softly, as if he has suddenly realized just what you did for him. His eyes warm, and his hand, no longer comforting but thrilling, travels down to your waist. He leans in to kiss you, his lips barely open . . .
"But it's okay," you interrupt, in a falsely cheerful, determined voice. "It's okay, because you're going to fix everything."
Eli sits back, and for a moment you catch a glimpse of something in his eyes, a wild sort of need that you find disquieting, before his features shift, making his face a question mark of raised eyebrows and an incredulous smirk. "How exactly am I going to do that?"
"Simple," you reply, feeling pretty ingenious. "You're going to raise Dace back to life. That way the curse on my dad gets reversed, I don't have to spend the rest of my life feeling guilty about killing someone, and Dace gets his life back, so that he can spend it being as awful as he usually is. But alive. Alive awful is always better than dead awful."
You're pleased with your plan. It isn't perfect, of course - you still need to figure out a way to get your dad out from Mr Shaw's control, plus stop the Council from creating a race of necro-wizard hybrids, plus parlay your success in saving your classmates into a bid for both Homecoming AND Prom Queen, plus at least try to hit third base with Eli sometime within the next century - but it's a start. Which is why you're so gobsmacked at Eli's reply.
"No." He states it flatly, and not a little dismissively, as if he won't even consider the option.
"But . . . but you have to!" you sputter. "Dace is evil, but he doesn't deserve to die. And my dad, he definitely doesn't deserve . . . whatever this is. And you're a necromancer," you point out, exasperated. "This is what you do."
"Listen, Tabs," Eli replies, not unkindly. "You don't get it. When I raised my mom - she's . . . she's great, really. But she's young. Forever. She doesn't age; she can't count the passing of time on her face. It sounds likea dream life, but people need to age. They need to grow, to complete. She's stuck, forever, because of me. I won't ever do that to a person again. It isn't right."
"What's not right is you refusing to do what you were born to do. This is all because you don't like Dace and you're glad that he's dead." You toss off the words imperiously and a little snidely, and the accusations sound silly, even to you. So you're more than a little surprised to see that your words hit home.
"Maybe that's true too," Eli confesses. "I'm not going to raise your little boyfriend, just so that he can continue to work against my people. And you know? Your dad isn't exactly blameless in all of this either! I don't see a problem with letting him sit it out in this fugue state until I can fix everything that he and his precious Council have screwed up. I'm not doing it, Tabs."
Next installment: If I Could Turn Back Time