By: William C. Burns, Jr.
“Javared, how dare you even consider such an atrocity!?”
“Mind your place Vector; I’m not in a very tolerant mood today.”
The pulsating will-o-wisp apprentice floats angrily above the bench, glowering at the entanglement-schematic the wizard has spread out on the bench. “Surely you do not intend. . .”
“I shall do as I choose. Besides, she deserves it.” Javared slides a protection Capacitor onto the silver chain around his neck and checks to make certain it is properly discharged.
“Your arrogance is you undoing old man. So shall it ever be.”
“Silence!” The impact of Javared’s voice causes glassware in the lab to ring.
And there is silence.
Javared resumes his preparations.
“Vector, I need you to trek to Center and place an order for a carton of flesh stones. And perhaps. . . “
“You are trying to get me out of the way.”
“None the less, we shall also require a case of seric powder and truckle.”
“What are you going to do while I am absent?”
“That is none of your concern.”
“It’s her isn’t it?”
“What is the problem? You are my apprentice and we need supplies.”
“You are going to attempt something that will have very bad consequences and you don’t want any witnesses.”
“If that is my choosing, then so it shall be, now cease your prattle and go!”
Vector disappears through the front door. Javared marks Vector’s departure with an old man’s heavy sigh. “Yes, but the satisfaction should in fact, be worth it.”
Vector’s voice form the other side of the door says, “You know there is no lasting satisfaction this side of the grave.”
A Witch Breaker is a highly specialized device. Few practitioners have ever had the intellect and the knack to even conceive such a device. None have ever committed the blasphemy of drawing the entanglement-schematic for the inner workings of such a thing, much less actually construct the cursed device.
Technically it could be used to separate a witch from her aspect. Removing magic from a gifted woman, such an action is considered to be an unspeakable act of vile treachery and as Vector had said, there would be dire consequences.
He touches the Capacitor on his chest, knowing that it will not protect him from the wrath of the entire Coven.
Though they are not legally or financially bonded to the Wizard Clan, this is a violation of boundaries and there could be Hell to pay. Strangely, he does not seem to care.
She had betrayed him.
She had sought him out. Had preened and danced for and with him. She had asked to hear all his stories and acted elated when he embellished. He had delighted in her company and had given her a green sleeved cloak spun from strange matter.
On that clear-crisp evening in October, when they walked through the Park, over the Moon Bridge crossing the river Leathe, he decided to confess his love; decided that he would let her decide what kind of future they might have.
He told her he loved her, and her countenance changed. Her expression distorted from warm and light into the kind of expression you get when you see what a rancid drunk has hawked into a filthy kerchief.
She spat that he was old and should never even think of such a thing, that it was creepy and the thought of him touching her made her flesh crawl. She picked his heart up like a stone and threw it into the river.
And yet, the next day, she was there, at his shop. Her demeanor and tone indicated that nothing had changed.
He placed his tools on the bench and gathered the courage to address her.
He asked her how she felt about him.
The transition in her was like a demonic wraith seizure. She hissed and spat at him, soiling his clothes.
He closed the door in the wake of her departure.
Three times he has failed to assemble the final components of the device.
He lifts the calipers and this time uses the tuner to bring the matrix into sync before inserting it into the resonation cavity. The rippling green glow indicates that the fields have interlocked and that the Breaker is functioning. His hands are shaking. He had honestly doubted his ability to create such a device.
He slips the matrix into the copper clasp on the amulet and snaps it into place. His hands tingle where he touches it.
He only has to wear the device and touch, flesh to flesh, the witch in question. Simple. Quick. She becomes estranged from her aspect and she reverts into being a normal, human woman. The problem that you have to ask is, why stop with one witch? This device can level the entire Coven.
There is no way to test the device without using it.
At that instant she pushes his door open. It bangs against the wall.
“Vector visited me, what are you about old man?”
He starts to remove the Capacitor to make room for the Breaker, but slips the Capacitor back on. The Breaker rests in his hand. It’s actually quite beautiful, in a frightening sort of way.
She shrieks but runs at him, instead of away. The burst of her wrath-curse is absorbed by the Capacitor around his neck. It screeches but holds.
Before she gets to him, he slips the Breaker into his pocket. It will not work unless it’s touching his skin.
He conjures a shield from an adjacent space and she is halted inches from his face.
“Go home Cynda. I was stupid for ever loving you.”
She is tearing through the shield, “Do it! Do it you putrid husk of a man. You haven’t the guts! Do IT!”
“No.” With a flick of his hand the field is re-enforced.
Two of the Coven have appeared behind her. The crones hold back, watching.
“Cynda, go home. I can’t do this. Just go home please.”
“I’ll die first!”
“Cyndra, your demons are your own and I have no wish to be infected with them.”
He looks to the crones, imploring them to make her stop.
One of them reaches and Cyndra turns on her. In a clash of thunders, cruses are exchanged and the young witch disappears as does the crone she is fighting.
The wizard and the remaining crone stare at one another in silence.
“Wizard, you have committed a serious crime.”
“Yes, I have fallen in love. I have been spurned and consumed with rage.”
“I am referring to the device in your pocket.”
“Technically not a crime until I use it.” He slowly draws the Breaker out and looks at it. He gently breaks the matrix into two pieces, three pieces and finally into four irregular pieces. The green glow dissipates.
He offers one of the pieces to the crone. She reaches cautiously finding that the component is harmless to her.
He says, “I shall never rebuild this device but the components can’t be completely destroyed. I place the key component in your keeping. I apologize for my arrogance. I never wanted to harm any in your charge.”
The witch lifts her other hand but reconsiders when she sees that he is not afraid. A wizened smile cracks her face. “I have never loved any of your kind, wizard. I doubt that I ever shall but I have to admit you have shown some measure of restraint.” She lifts the component so that the sunlight plays on it.
She says, “How can I know that I can trust you?”
“I have no answer for that. I give you my bond on my heart and on my craft. I shall never do this again because I shall never love another.”
“Pity, tis such a pity, the Coven accepts your pledge and will hold you to your promise on the device, but not on the possibilities of love. On another hand, we may have need of your skills at some time in the future and ask that you be open to some future proposals.”
“I am truly sorry.”
“I can see that. You honestly loved her?”
“I love her still.”
She cackles and spits into the hedges. She adjusts her hat and touches him gently on the shoulder. “Perhaps there is hope for you yet, wizard.” She turns and then turns back. “And you must never mention this to any other, but I was once in love myself, you laugh. . . It’s true.”
“And how did the go?”
“Oh it went badly, very badly. . . for all concerned parties. Much worse than this. Still, tattoos and memories. . . once you have them, they are yours for life. Tell you what, why don’t you come by the Lodge next week, have a spot of tea.”
“I’d like that.”