Thursday, July 9, 2015

The bigger the job the bigger the problems (part 2)...


Part One

Janet was trying to compose herself. She hadn't expected to find blood magic in this store. She turned around to face Delores, "This really is blood magic."

Delores smiled pleasantly, "Yes, I have all of the paperwork here." She held out a notebook that Janet was fairly positive hadn't been in her hands a moment ago. Paging through Janet saw that all of the paperwork was indeed in order. There was the spell page listing exactly the ingredients including a signed statement of consent from the blood donor. Then there was a signature page for people who had purchased this particular potion. There were only a small handful of signatures on this sheet. This was interesting though, there was an extra notation next to each signature. Consent form and page number.

"What are the extra consent forms noted here? Are they other blood magic potions used in conjunction?"

"No, before I allow purchase and use of this particular potion you have to try the temporary version for 60 days. Once you have passed the waiting period then if you still want the main potion you may purchase it. This notebook contains the consent forms and signatures for those who started down the path but did not choose to continue as well as those that did. You can cross reference those signatures and page numbers with the forms in this book." Delores put her hand on a much thicker book that was now on the table in front of Janet. Janet opened that book and saw a spell sheet much like the other, but made with sweat from the same donor instead of blood.

Janet looked closer at the ingredient listings for the two potions. There didn't seem to be any reason for such care. There were the standard base herbs from multiple spells, a few ground minerals and then the blood or sweat from the donor. But nothing that jumped out at her as significant. "Are there side effects?"

Delores laughed, "It's not the side effects that cause people to not want the main spell, it's the main effect. And once you take the full strength potion there is no reversing the result."

Janet looked closer at the spell. "Anti-charm. What is an anti-charm?"

Delores smiled at Janet, "That's not an ingredient, that's the spell. Once you take the potion you are immune to charm."

"I've never heard of a spell that could do that."

"That's because it's my recipe. Took me years to perfect. It would be almost impossible to duplicate. And as you can see there really isn't much call for the full strength potion so there isn't a strong incentive for anyone else to try."

"Why did you?"

"It started as a labor of love. My sister was a very talented witch. Much more so than anyone else I had ever met. But she was an incurable romantic and easily misled. The third time she married badly she told me she wished she was able to recognize charm instead of thinking it was love. A pocket full of fool's gold doesn't make you rich. So I started work trying to come up with a 'cure' for charm. I came close a few times, but they were never exactly right. Here are the notes on developing the spell."

Another book was now on the table in front of Janet. An older and well worn moleskin. Janet opened the book and looked at the first few pages. Recipes with ingredients crossed out, amounts changed, notes in the margins. Test results were listed after each batch. Stains and pieces of dried herbs dotted the pages of the notebook. "You tried a lot of different recipes. What led you to using blood magic?"

"Ah! That was the big break through. Talking with friends one night they were sharing stories of a man that they all knew. He was known to be a rascal, but they all laughed and said he was just so charming that he got away with it. Then one said, 'Well except for with Suzanne.' Then another said, 'Yes, she is immune to charm, always has been.' And that was when I knew I needed to meet Suzanne."

Janet looked at the blood forms. Suzanne Hotchins age 34. "So she consented to give you her blood to experiment with?"

"Eventually. We talked for awhile about her seeming immunity to charm. She said she recognized it. Understood it. But was not affected by it. Never had been. In fact when someone was actively trying to charm her it seemed to have the opposite effect and would repulse her. She wouldn't trust them. Couldn't understand why everyone else did. She had always thought she was missing something in her psyche that everyone else had. I convinced her that instead of missing something she actually had something extra. After that she agreed to donate the sweat and the blood."

"Why both?"

"You are familiar with the differences in spells correct? Blood magic is stronger. It's elemental. It's a life force. Sweat is an echo of that life force. When testing blood magic one should always start with a sweat based spell. Always. You wouldn't want to find out that your spell was wrong after you made the results permanent. The first tests we did were with the sweat spell. It took a few times, as you can see in the book, to get the portions down exactly. Then I let my sister try the spell. I was so excited for her new life free of being lied to."

For the first time since Janet had entered the shop the spark in Delores' eye seemed to dim. The barely held back laughter quieted. "It didn't work?"

"Oh no, it worked. And she was miserable. She said it felt like living in a stranger's skin. There was some piece to her life that was missing. It turns out that though the fool's gold wasn't making her rich, it was still something shiny to look at and she loved the shine. So she never took the full strength potion. She continued to fall for the wrong man and eventually it was her undoing."

Janet looked at the books, "But you decided to keep it in stock?"

"Yes, just because she chose not to use it it was still good magic. It's still a valuable spell. But because of her experience I am very strict about the waiting period. And I also remind people that you cannot unring a bell. If you find while you are on the trial that your true love is actually a con artist in disguise that knowledge won't go away once the effects wear off. You will still know. You will just be susceptible again to falling for his, or her, smooth words and charms. However you will know that you are doing it. Which is worse. To know you are being made a fool of and still letting it happen? There isn't much worse than that.

There is also a large dose of Cassandra Syndrome. Just because you know that your friend's boyfriend is full of false charm doesn't mean she will believe you. Even though you can see your brother's new wife is slick as glass doesn't mean he will ever want to know the truth. It can be a very frustrating and lonely life you are choosing. Which is why most people do not come back in for the rest of the potion."

"But some do, obviously."

"A few over the years have. A couple of people who were hurt so deeply and so badly by someone that any way to avoid that in the future was worth whatever spark they might lose. And a few lawyers who felt that this knowledge would help them on their career paths."

At that Janet looked again at the list, pointing to a familiar name, "Is this the..."

Delores cut her off, "It is. She's done very well for herself. She would have anyway, but this helps."

"Have you ever been tempted to take the potion yourself? I can imagine there are times it would be very handy. I can sense magic being used around me, but pure charm? I think knowing if someone was trying to charm me that would be very useful."

Delores laughed again, that deep sensuous laugh that almost felt like you could hold it, "I am not sure what would happen to me if I used it." Then she winked at Janet, "Charm isn't always a bad thing. Like any other form of magic it can be used for bad purposes, but it can also just be a lovely gift to give to someone. Now, are you satisfied with this particular section? Would you like to continue your inspection?"

Janet thought about it, "I think I will actually come back for the rest. I need to make my notes on what I've seen so far and compare them to Silvia's last reports and as you weren't surprised by my visit in the first place I doubt I would find anything here that wasn't in perfect order." With that she went to gesture to the notebooks on the table only to find they were no longer there.

"Oh did you need me to bring those back? I thought you were finished with them."

Janet shook her head, "No, that's okay, I was done. Oh one more question though, when I first came in you were talking with a customer about not bringing demon cookies in to your store again, could I get her name and address to visit?"

Delores really laughed then, "You could visit, but you would be disappointed when you found only a dear sweet abuela not a seasoned witch. She is a customer of mine for sure, she buys her star anise from me, says it's the freshest she can find. To show her appreciation she tries to bring me in her famous biscochitos." Delores shuddered, "I cannot stand biscochitos. Demon cookies."


Later that evening after Janet had finished compiling her notes from the visit she pulled the folder from Silvia's file to compare.

Shop: The Magic of Taos

Owner: Delores Sandoval

Age of Owner: Unknown

Origin of Owner: Unknown

Shop layout: Trinkets in front room. Real equipment in the back. Dangerous items under lock and key and guarded by familiar.

Paperwork: Always impeccable. Would like to see her library at some point in time. Unclear where books are stored when not called in to use.

Special Notes: DELORES SANDOVAL IS THE REAL DEAL! The council has notes on Delores Sandoval from as far back as 200 years (the oldest on record in America) and it is assumed she was practicing before that time. She has recommended many current leaders on the council as well as trained numerous apprentices. Pay attention to her when she talks. Watch what she does. Again DELORES SANDOVAL IS THE REAL DEAL!

Janet put down the file before reading more as there were at least 6 more pages of "Special Notes." 

Clearly she was going to have to rethink her position on not reading her staff's files before she did an inspection. 

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