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 💕.
16 An Unexpected Visitor
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.
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.
could help. I could—”
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.”
his head. “I’m not sure she wants to see me. She said… I think she blames me
for what happened with Gabe.”
smiled. “I doubt it. You’re very cute, but I don’t think that would be enough
on its own.”
an embarrassed laugh.
I added, with a gentle push against his shoulder. “I’ll see you in homeroom on
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.
one sends me texts but him… The others all use messaging apps.
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 :)”
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.
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
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 several of his predecessors, too,
but there was something about him that set my magic on edge.
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.
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.
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.
said, rather inadequately. I straightened up and paused my playlist before the
next song could start.
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…”
again, sticking to a safer, albeit ridiculous, question. “What brings you here
on a Sunday, Avi?”
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.
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.
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?
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.
There’s no Latin word for coffee, so I can’t replace it for you.”
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.”
Aren’t you a student, then?”
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.”
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.
I said, and a glass appeared on the table. “Do you want some water?”
Mason didn’t answer, staring at the glass as if he expected it to sprout legs
and run across the table to attack him.
about some wine, then?” I offered, grinning.
morning,” he said, eyes wide.
drank wine morning, noon, and night,” I said. “If it was good enough for them…”
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.”
History is a fascinating subject, isn’t it? Well, id scis. You teach it.”
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
timere,” I said, just in case. I sat down opposite him.
afraid,” he replied.
obviously you’re not now.
you think I am?” I asked.
a ghost? A Roman ghost?”
grinned. “Not exactly, but I quite like that idea. I could wander the earth
telling everyone the truth behind the empire.”
then? What are you?”
of me as a flashlight,” I said. “I brighten the darkness and I show people the
what ifs. I try to help.”
here to help me?” said Mr. Mason, with a bewildered expression. He glanced over
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.”
smiled, relaxing. He loved teaching. “Thanks. You don’t attend any of my classes,
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.
he repeated. “But that’s… impossible.”
my eyebrows. “Which bit? The magic or the fact I’m using it to create an
ancient Roman drink?”
Mason laughed. “When you put it like that…”
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.”
sighed. “It makes me feel… sentimental.”
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.”
not even thirty-five yet,” I reminded him.
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?”
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.”
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.”
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
things?” He narrowed his eyes. I quite liked this assertive Mr. Mason. Now his
life path made a lot more sense to me.
if you tell me you regret seeing them, I’ll make you forget. Will you trust
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?”
staring into space as if he were reliving the scenes we’d visited.
them. None of them. Two and three you could combine, if you wanted to. It’s up
could…? She’s out there somewhere?”
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
Mason’s eyes came back into focus, and he gave me a look that was part
surprise, part sympathy.
I said hastily, “here endeth the lesson. Any regrets?”
I’m glad,” I said, smiling.
happens now?” he asked.
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
the…?” His voice trailed off when I spoke over him.
omnes somnium. Dormi.”
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.”
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.