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The Legacy of Androva Series

New Book, New Series, Sixteenth Chapter 🏫

Hope everyone is enjoying the month of April so far, and welcome to another chapter of Spell Tracker 😊. Luca's weekend continues after he says goodbye to Devin, and even though Luca hasn't found a way to help Cass yet, he gets the chance to provide a bit of guardian-like assistance to someone else. Devin also explains the drama at Mina's party, and the Spell Tracker throws in a new threat for his own amusement. You can catch up on earlier chapters using the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.

(Update: October 2019. Spell Tracker is now available in full via the New series label. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page to start 📙)

16 An Unexpected Visitor

Devin wanted to stay, but I was scared I’d end up telling him even more things he shouldn’t know. A little space might help both of us to think clearly. If he’s going to regret this, better to give him the chance to find out now. Except… I really hope he doesn’t.
It was dark outside. The security lights by the delivery gate created long shadows, turning the ordinary surroundings into something sinister looking. I asked Devin to message me later. He apologized for being so negative about Cass.
“Maybe I could help. I could—”
“Next time,” I said, stopping him before he made any promises he might later wish he hadn’t. “You should show your face at the party. Mina will be pretty upset if both of us miss it.”
He shook his head. “I’m not sure she wants to see me. She said… I think she blames me for what happened with Gabe.”
I smiled. “I doubt it. You’re very cute, but I don’t think that would be enough on its own.”
He gave an embarrassed laugh.
“Go on,” I added, with a gentle push against his shoulder. “I’ll see you in homeroom on Monday.”
He leaned in to give me a kiss. It was soft and sweet and more than I deserved. I returned to the library with a smile on my face. Then, inevitably, my phone chimed with a text.
No one sends me texts but him… The others all use messaging apps.
I unlocked the screen.
I suppose you hoped I wouldn’t notice your little trip to the seventeenth century playhouse? Too bad. I did. Even better, it gave me an idea. I’m going to give that idea to Miss Vryson. I can’t wait until Monday morning :)
What the hell? What was he talking about? I paced up and down, trying to think of how he might have twisted this to his advantage. I hadn’t told Cass anything about being a guardian or her life path. The rules regarding free will were intact and, more to the point, it had brought us close in a way I would never have been able to achieve otherwise.
Perhaps he just wanted me to spend the rest of the weekend worrying in order to make fun of me on Monday. Time spent worrying was time wasted. Please let that be it.
No matter how I tried to rationalize it, the sense of unease persisted. I was glad when I got a message from Devin. I welcomed the distraction. At least, I did until I opened it.
Mina has done something really stupid. She slept with Nate.”
Who’s Nate?” I asked.
Gabe’s older brother.”
I sucked in a breath. “How?
His college isn’t far and she invited him to the party without telling us. Said he was her 18th birthday present to herself,” Devin replied.
Is Gabe OK?
Not really. He idolizes Nate.”
Does Nate know…?” I typed.
That Mina is in love with Gabe? No. That Gabe is gay? No.”
I suppose I should have guessed the answer to that one. “What about Mina? Is she OK?
No. I’m still at her house. She’s gone to sleep, though. Finally.”
I checked the time. It was two in the morning—much later than I’d realized.
And you?” I asked. “Are you OK?
I miss you.”
Then he added a red-faced emoji, followed by, “Or something less desperate.”
I miss you too,” I replied.
Maybe I shouldn’t have convinced him to go to the party. But things might have been a lot worse without him there. I could guess that Mina would have stage-managed her revelation for maximum impact.
Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.
No. I should sleep. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
OK.” I hesitated, before following up with “x.” He immediately replied with a smiley face and an “x” of his own.
I spent the rest of the night revisiting the school records, making sure I’d found out everything I could about Cass, Devin, Mina, and Gabe. The better informed I was, the better my chances of being successful at helping them.
Doing my best to take a step back and view them as assignments, according to normal protocol, I realized how alone I was. How limited in my resources. I can’t even leave the school.
I wondered what Mina’s house looked like and whether Devin had woken up yet. And what about Gabe and Nate? Cass was out there somewhere, too. Maybe she was sleeping. Maybe she was reading the play. I would never know.
More than that, my physical covering effectively shut me off from my own dimension and the communication network I was accustomed to. I had no doubt I could access it if I used a spell, but that would rather defeat the purpose of all this.
I wanted to remain invisible. I needed to. If it had been possible to help Cass any other way, I would have. A guardian’s objectivity must be protected. Guardians may not seek out or attempt to influence a previous earthbound connection. Guardians may not inhabit the earthbound dimension. Guardians may not seek out or attempt to influence a previous assignment. It went on and on. Everything was a variation of the same theme.
Irritated, I put on some music, jamming the earbuds into my ears and turning the volume up high. There were better things to listen to than a mental replay of the rulebook. I climbed onto the third-floor railing and walked along it, treating it like a tightrope, closing my eyes to better submerge myself in the sound.
Thoughts of my training inevitably reminded me of when I’d met him for the first time. He was a necessary evil. In order for the earthbound dimension to function correctly with regard to the most aspirational life paths, it needed an enforcer. He was the Spell Tracker. I’d met his predecessor, too, but there was something about him that set my magic on edge.
He’d qualified a couple of hundred earthbound years ago—a Shadow Mage who’d been elevated to a position of power way beyond what his kind could usually aim for. The High Council had no intention of doing their own dirty work.
Stabilis,” I murmured, and, keeping a tight grip on my phone, I threw myself into a forward somersault, landing back on the railing with a thud that vibrated through my body. For a second or two, gravity competed with the spell, trying to pull me downward. I kept my eyes closed, enjoying the sensation of floating halfway between standing and falling.
The song ended, just in time for me to hear an exclamation from below. I opened my eyes to find Mr. Mason staring up at me with an expression of such extreme astonishment, it was almost comical. The hand holding his takeaway coffee cup had gone limp, and brown liquid was pouring steadily onto the carpet.
“Oh,” I said, rather inadequately. I straightened up and paused my playlist before the next song could start.
“Er… your coffee?”
Mr. Mason jumped. “Shi… I mean, shoot.” He moved his shoe out of the way of the spreading stain before looking back up. “Why are you…? That is to say… I…”
He tried again, sticking to a safer, albeit ridiculous, question. “What brings you here on a Sunday, Avi?”
Seeing him there had given me an idea. I needed something to distract me, and Mr. Mason needed his horizons widened. No, that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t my job to change him. He just needed to know that his horizons could be wider, if he wished.
I’d seen his life path, and it had as many branches as an ancient tree. Before embarking on his earthbound lives, he’d obviously wanted to learn so much. But his progress was almost nonexistent.
He wasn’t unhappy. Or afraid. Not yet. He had time. Maybe he’d have a guardian in his next life. Or the one after that. Except I’m here now. Why not?
I stepped off the railing, saying, “Gradarius.” I descended like one of the snowflakes I’d created for Devin, steady and weightless. Mr. Mason dropped the rest of his coffee. The empty cup rolled toward me and came to rest against the side of my foot. I bent down and picked it up.
“Sorry. There’s no Latin word for coffee, so I can’t replace it for you.”
He gaped at me.
“Oh, right,” I said. “What am I doing here on a Sunday? I’m here every day, Mr. Mason. I kind of live here. Just think of me as a friendly school guardian.”
“Are... Aren’t you a student, then?”
“We’re all students. That’s the great thing about this. Maybe you could take a seat? There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”
I gestured to one of the tables in the main area. Obediently, still in shock, he pulled out a chair and sank into it. “You’re not meeting anyone here, are you?” I asked. He shook his head.
Calix,” I said, and a glass appeared on the table. “Do you want some water?”
Mr. Mason didn’t answer, staring at the glass as if he expected it to sprout legs and run across the table to attack him.
“How about some wine, then?” I offered, grinning.
“It’s Sunday morning,” he said, eyes wide.
“The Romans drank wine morning, noon, and night,” I said. “If it was good enough for them…”
He recovered slightly. “They did a lot of other things as well, Avi. What was good enough for the Romans encompasses a multitude of extraordinary behavior.”
“True. History is a fascinating subject, isn’t it? Well, id scis. You teach it.”
“Yes. I do.”
He put his clasped hands on the table and stared at them, apparently working himself up to speaking. “The Latin,” he said eventually. “And the photo I took. What are you?”
Noli timere,” I said, just in case. I sat down opposite him.
“I’m not afraid,” he replied.
Well, obviously you’re not now.
“What do you think I am?” I asked.
“Are you a ghost? A Roman ghost?”
I grinned. “Not exactly, but I quite like that idea. I could wander the earth telling everyone the truth behind the empire.”
“What, then? What are you?”
“Think of me as a flashlight,” I said. “I brighten the darkness and I show people the what ifs. I try to help.”
“Are you here to help me?” said Mr. Mason, with a bewildered expression. He glanced over his shoulder.
“Is that so hard to believe?” I said gently. “You’re a decent person. And you’re a great teacher. It’s not the easiest of professions.”
He smiled, relaxing. He loved teaching. “Thanks. You don’t attend any of my classes, though.”
“No. But I can tell. I’ve seen a lot of teachers. Let me help you. Please. Mulsum,” I added, and the glass filled with honeyed Roman wine.
“Mulsum?” he repeated. “But that’s… impossible.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Which bit? The magic or the fact I’m using it to create an ancient Roman drink?”
Mr. Mason laughed. “When you put it like that…”
Commemoro,” I whispered, looking down at the glass, and the liquid shimmered. I pushed it toward him. He hesitated, then picked it up and took a sip. Then another. “It’s…” Another sip. “Wow. I didn’t know it would be like that.”
“Like what?”
He sighed. “It makes me feel… sentimental.”
“What do you remember?”
His expression softened, and the faint lines on his face disappeared. “I’m happy with my life, Avi. But I was in high school, once. I had dreams. It’s funny, looking back, but I didn’t know the time would pass so quickly. I always thought that was just something old people said.”
“You’re not even thirty-five yet,” I reminded him.
“I know. I have no plans to die next week,” he joked. As he realized what he’d said, the color the wine had given him drained from his face. “Er… I don’t, do I?”
I waited for a few seconds before answering. I wanted to give him the chance to see his life from a new perspective. Then I shook my head. “No. You don’t.”
“What the hell?” he said, pushing his chair back. His anger made him look like a different person. “Don’t play games with me. If dying next week is the only ‘what if’ you’ve got, I’m not impressed.”
“Forgive me. It isn’t an elegant way to begin, but its effectiveness, unfortunately, is hard to match.”
I got up and locked the library doors before pulling my sleeves over my hands. “If you wouldn’t mind holding onto my arm, there are a few things I’d like to show you.”
“What things?” He narrowed his eyes. I quite liked this assertive Mr. Mason. Now his life path made a lot more sense to me.
“Afterward, if you tell me you regret seeing them, I’ll make you forget. Will you trust me?”
A brief nod. He stood up and put his hand on my wrist. I took him into the future. His future. I showed him three different branches of the tree. I never did more than that. Given too many options, an assignment was likely to procrastinate or, worse, run in the opposite direction and hide from them all.
 When we returned, he sat down immediately, putting his hands on his knees, pressing down to stop them from trembling. “W-which one?” he asked. “Which one is my future?”
He was staring into space as if he were reliving the scenes we’d visited.
“Any of them. None of them. Two and three you could combine, if you wanted to. It’s up to you.”
“Me? I could…? She’s out there somewhere?”
“Your daughter? Yeah. I can’t promise you won’t get your heart broken along the way, but… yeah. All of that can still happen. You’re starting late, but every day you focus on what you want makes a difference.” I hesitated, before adding, “You’ll make an amazing father. I would…” I swallowed. “I would have been happy if you were mine.”
Mr. Mason’s eyes came back into focus, and he gave me a look that was part surprise, part sympathy.
“Anyway,” I said hastily, “here endeth the lesson. Any regrets?”
“Great. I’m glad,” I said, smiling.
“What happens now?” he asked.
“Ah. I’m glad you asked. Us having this conversation—me being here impersonating someone earthbound—it’s rather unorthodox. So I have to blur the lines a little, I’m afraid.”
“Blur the…?” His voice trailed off when I spoke over him.
Erat omnes somnium. Dormi.”
He blinked a couple of times, before sleep overtook him and his head fell sideways. I leaned down to whisper in his ear. “You might only remember it as a dream, but you will remember it. And, when you wake up, tibi ipsi crede. Believe in yourself.”
I unlocked the doors and left the library, resolving to spend the rest of the day in another part of the school. I expected Devin to call me that afternoon, and then I’d have to deal with whatever he had arranged for Monday morning. If he had given Cass an “idea,” it was bound to be a problem for me.

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