Chapter 10 – Pyro
The rest of the day they both rested while looking over the journals for any more mention of glyphs. The next day Charlotte had to open the store, so Tina helped her there until closing time. She was just about to lock up when Willow and Rose arrived. "Hi guys, what's up?" she asked, glad to see Nathaniel wasn't with them.
"Hi Tina. We need to talk to Charlotte. Something's happened." Rose said. Tina flipped the sign over and locked the door before leading them back to her grandmother.
"Grandma, Rose and Willow are back." she said as they approached the counter where she was locking up the register.
"Hello girls. Has something happened with Nathaniel?" Charlotte said.
"We don't know. We still haven't seen him. But someone attacked Kerry a couple of hours ago! Whoever did it beat her up pretty badly, and also burned her arms and hands. She's still unconscious, so we don't know what happened." Rose said.
"But you think it might have been Nathaniel, don't you?" Charlotte asked shrewdly.
Rose nodded, "Yeah, I think so. When he left the other day he was screaming about forcing Kerry to tell him the stuff she was holding back from him. It's a little too coincidental."
"Do you think we should call the police?" Willow asked.
"And tell them what? That a deranged magical practitioner may have assaulted her to gain access to magical secrets? We don't even know for sure if he did it. I think the only thing we can do now is wait for Kerry to wake up so she can tell us what happened. How bad are her injuries?" Charlotte replied.
"I don't know. I was hoping you'd come with me to see her?" Rose said hopefully.
"Of course. Is it alright if Tina comes along, as well?" Charlotte said.
"Sure." Rose replied. "Willow drove me here, there's room in her car for all of us." Tina locked up behind them as they left and they piled into Willow's Civic.
"So, how did you blast Nathaniel like that the other day, anyway?" Willow asked as she pulled onto the road.
"I'm still not entirely sure. I haven't tried to do it again, because it drained me so bad. It was as much instinct as anything." Tina said.
"You're being too modest, Tina. Tina has discovered a new, or perhaps more accurately old, way of doing magic. It's more dangerous without the controls of a ritual circle, but she has learned quite a lot in the last few days. I imagine she'll be ready to try again in a more controlled way very soon." Charlotte said with pride.
"Wow, cool! Can you teach me?" Willow exclaimed.
"I think it would be best to make sure I know what I'm doing before I try to teach anybody else." Tina said. "An uncontrolled spell like the one I used on Nathaniel could kill you if it drains you too far, right Grandma?"
Charlotte nodded, "Yes, it could. I think you're right, you shouldn't teach anybody else until you have a better handle on it."
Willow sighed, "Oh well, I guess I can wait."
The rest of the drive was made in silence. A few minutes later they arrived at the hospital and found out which room Kerry was in. Charlotte and Rose gasped when they saw her in the bed, covered in bruises and with her arms and hands wrapped in bandages.
"Hello Kerry, how are you feeling?" Charlotte asked when she saw her friend was awake.
Kerry smiled awkwardly, it looked like it hurt, "I've been better Charlotte. I guess I got lucky, though, no broken bones."
"That's good to hear." Charlotte said with some relief. Rose took a seat next to her bed and held her hand.
"Don't worry about me, Rose, I'll be fine. I'm more concerned about Nathaniel." Kerry said.
"So it was him?" Willow asked.
Kerry nodded, "Yes. He was still trying to get me to tell him how to make a talisman. I tried to tell him I don't know, but he wouldn't listen. And he kept raving about me having already taught some girl...Tina, I think?"
"That would be my granddaughter here. She used magic to protect herself from him the other day." Charlotte said.
"How did you do that?!" Kerry exclaimed.
"It's an old way of doing magic that Tina stumbled across. Tina's spell nearly killed her, so we're being very careful in our explorations of that kind of magic. Even so, Tina is making remarkable progress. I doubt I would be half as far along as she is if I'd found it on my own." Charlotte explained.
"It was your idea that led us to find the glyphs, though." Tina pointed out.
"Glyphs?" Willow asked eagerly.
Kerry looked thoughtful, "I think I've heard of those before...somewhere. What are they?"
"They're the building blocks of spell forms. Each one has a particular meaning or purpose. We've identified quite a few, but figuring out how to properly put them together is tricky." Tina explained when her grandmother looked to her.
"But you did it so quickly in the store?" Willow said.
Tina shrugged, "It was kind of...reflexive, I guess? Since it wiped me out so much, I've been leery of trying it again until I'm sure of how it works."
"So," Charlotte said, "what are we going to do about Nathaniel? I take it we still don't know where he lives?"
Kerry shook her head, "No, he keeps to himself. I think in the future we should make sure to know a bit more about our coven members. Not that there's much hope of talking him out of his assumptions. Especially if he saw you cast a spell with a talisman."
"Oh, I didn't have any talisman." Tina said in surprise. "I just wrote the spell form in the air, somehow."
"Once I'm out of here you two need to tell me more about this different way of doing magic." Kerry said in shock. "You cast a spell without a ritual circle or a talisman to focus the energy?"
"Uh, yeah, I guess so." Tina said, uncomfortable with how impressed everyone seemed by it. It had nearly killed her, after all. That didn't seem so impressive to Tina. At least not in a good way.
"Can we call the police now?" Willow asked, bringing them all back to the subject at hand.
"Uh, that could be a problem." Kerry said with a shocked look, as if she'd just remembered something.
"How so?" Charlotte asked.
"Well, when Nathaniel came to my house he threatened me with that dagger of his at first." Kerry explained. "But he didn't want to kill me before he got the information he wanted, so he put it away and started punching and kicking me. When that didn't get him anywhere, he got really angry and said that, 'If you won't admit that you know how talisman's work, I'll show you!'. Then he pulled a rod made of wood out of his pocket and pointed it at me. It had all sorts of symbols carved into it, and when he focused on it they began to glow red. Then a jet of flame shot out at me!"
To Be Continued…
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