Episode 17: Carmichael vies for leadership of a small group of Ruin Rats, but Bill is going to be a problem.
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What Prohibited Magic is about:
With Grimoire Society of Dark Acts’s magic book and crystal ball in the hands of the parasitic Ruin Rats, Carmichael’s decision to take the Book of Blessings and infiltrate the magical gang has left Dark Acts magically crippled. Gertrude is trapped in Grimoire Assassins’s magical realm; only the never-before-seen Grimoire of Blood can save her. Dark Acts and its allies split up to stop the worsening imbalance in the Magic Societal Universe, an unprecedented state with unfathomable consequences.
Episode 17: Taking Control
Carmichael silently followed Snap up the stairs and back into what seemed like the main room of the Ruin Rats’s den, trying to work out what he would do when an innocent bystander was pointed out for him to kill.
Fenn was no longer at the magical artifacts table. In fact, he wasn’t anywhere in the room, and only four men were left. So Carmichael took the opportunity to stride confidently to the table, ignoring all the eyes on him, and assess the magical artifacts the gang had already gotten hold of.
“What a collection,” he said. From farther away, he’d gotten a general idea of what was here, but now he could see much more clearly. There were two crystal balls—distinctly not Humphrey’s—a few large and small scrolls, several dowsing pendulums, the miniature Grimoire Assassins’s magic book and another one, decks upon decks of tarot cards, some small sharp weapons, three hourglasses with different colors of sand inside, a pile of rune stones of many colors, and a small chest of jewelry.
The weapons, jewelry, and hourglasses must be enchanted, otherwise I shouldn’t think they’d bother collecting such things.
Carmichael reached out to the gold-framed hourglass with red sand inside, and Bill moved his sharp billhook to hover over Carmichael’s wrist.
“Really, Bill?” Carmichael said, raising an eyebrow. “You would chop off my hand just for touching a relic? What do you think I’ll do to it?”
“Bleeder doesn’t like anyone touching his artifacts without his permission.”
Carmichael let out an unintentional loud guffaw. “Bleeder?” The enormous smile and sarcastic expression on his face probably wasn’t endearing him to these men, but the nickname struck him as ludicrously overdone for someone who’d been a servant to Carmichael’s wealthy father years ago.
One of the red shirts off to the side scraped his foot on the floor. “Not so funny when he uses one on you.”
“One what?” Carmichael asked.
The man, whose thick soap locks hung from his temple to his jaw line, stuck his head forward. “His weapon. A bleeder.”
“What, like the surgical blade?”
“What else?” Bill said.
Carmichael tossed the cane Snap had given him farther up in his hand and held the pommel in his open opposite hand. “Well I certainly hope he never comes up against a longer weapon like this. He’d never get a swipe off.”
“You’d be surprised,” said the man with the soap locks.
Carmichael gave a condescending smile. “I think not.”
“That is your weapon of choice?” Bill asked. “No blade?”
“Unlike many of you, I don’t need a blade to do the job,” Carmichael said. “And anyway, there isn’t much the police can say if all I have in my possession is a beautifully engraved cane. In fact, it has different initials from mine on it: RA. If I were stopped, I could simply tell them my name is…oh, I don’t know, Richard Atwill or some such nonsense. And what can they do about it but believe me? The initials match my false name, and I certainly don’t look like a criminal.” He lifted both his hands to hold them flat, palms out, securing the cane with thumb and forefinger, and miming cluelessness, his eyes wide and innocent as if surprised by a confrontation. “It couldn’t have been me who beat that man’s head in, Officer. I’m on my way to a family function. Haven’t you heard of the Atwill name? You certainly couldn’t be accusing me, from such a prestigious and well-known family, of a heinous act like that.”
Another Ruin Rat slapped his leg. “Ha! I could see ’em fallin’ for it!”
“Not bad,” laughed the Ruin Rat with the soap locks.
Carmichael bowed dramatically as if he were a performer in a theater. Three out of five of them responded well to my tomfoolery; those three out of five are my first targets for loyalty.
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© Christie Stratos 2023