parts 31 and 32
“How very dramatic,” Kendra murmured. She didn’t give voice to it, but she also thought he was a bit melodramatic, and perhaps one might even say weird – though all magic users seemed to be a bit weird. The more powerful, or the longer they had used magic, the weirder they became. Of course, some magical users were also very touchy, temperamental, and vindictive, so it could be dangerous to speak unkind things about them. You never knew when they might be lurking unseen, or have spirits that lurked and listened for them.
Heading back towards the mansion, Kendra found herself wondering how complex that ritual had been, and if she had found the first stage of it. Dr. Strange had said he’d sensed the ritual, and that it took place in stages – would he have sensed the first stage? Had last night been the first stage, or had they been progressing with their sacrifices and their casting? More importantly, had killing those vampires stopped whatever they had intended to set into motion, or just… delayed or set off course?
When she had almost reached the mansion again, Kendra realized that there were people doing something at the corner of the greenhouse. She moved closer, determining that Erik and Brandon were standing over a hole of some sort, with a shovel and a burlap sack. As soon as she was close enough, she asked “What are the two of you doing?”
“Grandpa knows a guy who made these. Now we just need to put them at all the corners of all the buildings,” Brandon replied.
“Put what? What are you putting in de… the ground, an’ why?” Kendra repeated.
“You offered proof that vampires and demons are real, that they are a threat to us, to the school, to the students. Not to slight your abilities, but I thought it might be good to try to add some security to the school aimed at the less mundane threats,” Erik reached into the bag, pulling out an oblong bundle just smaller than his fist, wrapped in dull russet fabric and tied with a cord of twisted yellow and white threads. He dropped the bundle into the hole, and stepped back as Brandon began to fill in the hole.
“Those are to defend against demons?” Kendra arched an eyebrow, wondering what sort of promises had been made. The objects didn’t feel powerful enough to defend against the sort that she normally hunted.
“According to Grandpa’s friend, those will defend against the wee nuisances of the other-kin. Mystical pest repellant and mousetraps all in one. They also might help prevent or break glamories and forgettings placed by the fair folk… or so he said.”
“There are a few other measures that I’ve learned about, and I spoke to someone who claimed to be able to build us a defense against people casting harmful spells at the property or those who are supposed to be here,” Erik shook his head. “Of course, learning that all of this is real makes me worry a bit more about some of what Magda has said to me when she’s angry.”
“Who’s Magda?” Brandon asked.
“A former girlfriend,” Erik sighed. “One that I’m not sure I’ll ever see again, and not certain I want to see again, considering how angry she was when we parted.”
“Is dat why you’ve been scarce around the mansion since patrolling wit’ me?” Kendra smiled.
“Yes. You can defend yourself. I can if I know that there’s something to defend from. Charles can probably defend against… well, not a vampire, he seemed unable to touch their minds, but you did say they couldn’t enter without an invitation. But the students are not well-suited to fistfights with monsters. Mystical defense and protections are not listed in the telephone directory either,” he shook his head. “And I owe the man who’s going to set up defenses twelve chickens and two healthy female pigs of breeding age when he completes the protections.”
“Twelve chickens and two sows? That is a good deal for a place as big as this one,” Kendra murmured. “You must bargain well.”
“If you say so. I’m not used to trading in livestock for services,” he admitted.
Kendra nodded, “It is a very good deal, if the man is good at his craft. I will leave you to your wardings.”
“Grandpa’s friend wanted paid in whiskey, is that a normal thing? Not taking money for magic?”
Kendra heard Brandon asked Erik as she walked away from them. She didn’t hear what answer he might have given, but she did wonder how many connections Erik might have into magical circles. She would have to ask if he or his contacts knew anything about the man who had introduced himself as Dr. Strange, but that could wait until they had finished placing the protective talismans.
Perhaps she could ask if Charles had taken any additional steps to keep the school safe from such dangers? This had started out as his family home, and he still lived here, surely if anyone would take an interest in home or school security, it would be Charles. A tiny part of her mind wondered if she were seeking an excuse to talk to him, and reminded herself that Charles was dating Victoria Grey.
Kendra had no sooner opened the door when she saw the Beaumond boys charging across the room, one on the floor and the other running along the wall, about three feet behind the one on the floor, the pair of them almost identical. Both of them were giggling wildly.
“Boys! You are not supposed to be running in the house, and perhaps not on the walls. What mischief are you up to now?” Kendra looked at them, trying to figure out if they were running out of boredom or attempting to evade the consequences of some sort of mischief elsewhere.
“Sorry Miss Kendra,” they chimed, attempting to look innocent.
“If you are not supposed to be in class, perhaps you should go run a few laps on the track?” Kendra suggested.
The one standing on the wall hopped to the floor before they both left, perhaps to go run laps as she’d suggested, and perhaps to find trouble outside. Shaking her head, Kendra sighed, “Their mother has the patience of a saint.”
It was enough to make her wonder what else would happen today, not that she was willing to tempt Fate by asking out loud. That would be inviting disaster, and she had enough work as a Slayer and as a teacher already.
End part 31.
Walking down the hallway, Kendra felt an unusual sensation, comparable to walking into a dangling cobweb, except that it wasn’t across her face, but rather in her mind. She stopped, blinking as she tried to sort out what had just happened. There was another faint almost touch, like a leaf drifting across her skin, only not perceived by her skin at all.
It was all in her mind. In her mind… “Charles? Are you trying to get into me head?”
An image formed of the library, with Charles sitting at the table, a cup of tea sitting within reach. A tray with a pot of tea and a second cup sat nearby.
Kendra gave a small shrug and headed for the library. If it was Charles requesting her in the library, then she could ask him why soon enough. While she was asking, she could ask him to find a better way to get someone’s attention. Something closer to a mental tap at the shoulder, rather than a cobweb to the face. If it wasn’t Charles, then she could sort out what else might be responsible and take appropriate actions.
Opening the door, she looked inside, seeing Charles sitting at the table. There was a tray with a pot of tea and a cup, as well as a matching cup beside Charles. In front of him was a notebook, with a pencil held in his hand.
“Was dat your request that I join you in the library?” Kendra asked.
Giving her a smile, Charles nodded, “Yes. I talked with Jean earlier, she had quite a bit to say about you. Apparently you’ve started teacher her and Misty meditation?”
“Meditation helps keep your emotions from overwhelming you, and helps you t’ink clearly in a dangerous or stressful situation. I t’ink it could also help her an’ Misty to develop control over their abilities,” Kendra explained. She found herself worrying more about her accent facing Charles than she had when talking to the girls this morning. “Meditation can also help improve your memory.”
“There could be benefits for all sorts of abilities, if we can help them stay calm and remember clearly,” Charles murmured. “Though it might be more urgent for those with the mental abilities.”
“Perhaps we’ve found another type of instructor to hire for the school?” Kendra asked.
“But you seem to be doing an excellent job so far,” Charles protested.
“I am a Slayer. You do not understand what that means. In older times, before Queen Victoria took de throne, a test given to de Slayer if she survived to her eighteenth birt’day. Mr. Zabuto told me that it was done perhaps once a decade, an’ de survival rate was a bit less than half. A Slayer does not retire, an’ a Slayer does not have de chance to grow old. When one dies, de next is Called. I can not assume I will be here forever, I should not even assume I will be here very long. Like de Slayers before me, I will one night fall, fighting to protect. Before that happens, I want this school to be off to a good, strong start. I want de students to be ready and capable of defending themselves an’ those around them. I want to know Misty will be able to remember her shape, to get changes right. To know Jean need not fear being overwhelmed by all de minds around her,” Kendra’s accent thickened, and she tried not to let the anger, the frustration, and the fear of her inevitable and likely painful demise drown her.
“But… as quickly as you heal…” Charles stammered, his eyes wide and the hand holding the pencil shaking.
“I will not have a long life. Dere is always another monster. It is me destiny, me calling to fight monsters. That healing, me strength… it gives me a chance. What you fight is emotion, fear an’ belief. Those will hurt, and may seek to control you, but most of de time, the ones you fight won’t be trying to kill you. It is not like that for me,” Kendra’s hand shook as she poured her cup of tea. “I am a Slayer. For Slayers, a year past being called is long. It may be a little safer here, but dere are still vampires, still demons. I will not reach old age before something kills me.”
“Kendra…” He was staring at her.
“Dat is what it means to be the Slayer. To stand as protector to de… the world. It is pain, it is fighting, it is death. I have always known this. For as long as I can, I will help this school. Help the students learn and understand they are still people, that they are all people. That the people can live together, and can fight against de monsters. I will teach them how to tell the scary looking people from the monsters,” Kendra paused, trying to keep herself from shaking.
Whispering, she added the last part, the only part that she felt a little guilty over. “An’ maybe, when I fall, there will be those who mourn for me. I will be remembered by more than the Watchers, more than the monster that takes me out.”
“There are people here that would mourn you, people who don’t want anything bad to happen to you,” Charles protested.
“Bad t’ings happen, especially when someone goes hunting monsters,” Kendra observed.
“Which is why we will have a medical staff. Maybe people who can go with you when you patrol, others to watch your back and make sure that you get back safely,” he sounded as if he could change the future just by the force of his will. “You don’t have to die.”
“Everyone dies eventually, Charles. But I don’t want it to be soon,” Kendra sighed.
“We will find a way,” he insisted.
“It can help to have people willing and able to fight with me,” Kendra admitted, thinking of Buffy and her friends. Her friends, including Xander… “I suggest that all of your… our students learn CPR. Before I came t’rough the portal, I met someone who was only alive because a good friend did that for her. I know that without him, she would have been buried after that day, not gone on to continue her schooling.”
“Can you be certain of that?” Charles asked, his hand shaking as he sipped at his tea.
“She drowned. He started her breathing again. Perhaps her heart as well. She is a Slayer. If she had not died, even for a few moments, I would not have been Called, would not now be a Slayer meself. But I am, so she must have been dead. He is her friend and would not accept her being dead, so he helped her, an’ she was alive. Do not try to tell me that it is a skill of limited use,” she insisted. “Had she been alone, she would have remained dead. And it would be better for the students to know such a skill and never need it than to be unable to save someone because they did not learn.”
“Perhaps that and a little basic first aid would be good for everyone,” Charles admitted.
“That can be a good way to leave a good impression,” Kendra agreed. “It is also a way that the humans an’ the mutants can help each other. An’ learn to trust each other.”
“You do tend to trust those who heal your wounds,” Charles had a faint smile.
“It can also be a good step to helping the world see that mutants are also people,” she offered.
“Being able to tend wounds after fighting to protect them? Yes…” Charles smiled, his eyes taking the unfocused look of someone looking into the future instead of at something in the same room.
Kendra smiled, hoping that she would be able to see this future start taking shape.
End part 32.