Читать онлайн "Pandora's Closet" автора Zahn Timothy - RuLit - Страница 59

 
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Before they could even make it to the door of the Jaros house, Millar Jaros intercepted them, screaming a blue streak.

“What the hell’s wrong with you people? You see the mess in there? Well? Didja? It’s a mess! How’re we supposed t’live in there if it’s such a mess?”

Next to him was Abbi, who put a hand on his shoulder. “Father, take it easy, they can’t-”

Whirling on his daughter-in-law, Millar said, “How’m I supposed t’take it easy when there’s such a mess in there!”

“I know, Father, but-”

Torin finally said, “May we please take a look?”

Throwing up his hands, Millar said, “Sure, take a look, but all you’re gonna see is a mess!”

Danthres shot Torin a look, as if to say, What else were we supposed to see? Torin shrugged back, and the two of them then walked past the Jaroses to the guard who’d been assigned by Dragon Precinct to stand at the front door.

“Open it,” Torin said.

Nodding, the guard opened the front door.

The smell was the first thing to hit Danthres. On their previous visit, the place had smelled bad, but no worse than the thoroughfares of Goblin Precinct during midsummer, or the docks of Mermaid Precinct in the afternoon after the fish came in.

Now, though, the Jaros house made the docks seem like an orchard by comparison. Danthres’s nose wrinkled up immediately and pretty much stayed that way as she surveyed the sitting room.

Not that there was much of the sitting room to survey-it was covered, wall to ceiling, in the same dark muck. She could make out small shapes under the muck that she assumed to be the furniture, and she also saw other bits and pieces jutting out from it.

“Lord and Lady,” Torin muttered.

“Close the door,” Danthres said to the guard. “We need to get Boneen in here.”

It took the better part of an hour for the magical examiner to make his appearance. During that time, Danthres tried to ignore Millar Jaros’s complaints, mostly by coming up with entertaining ways of flaying the old man alive.

When Boneen did arive via a Teleport Spell, he looked even more perturbed than usual. “I’ve already been here.”

“Yes,” Danthres said, “and all you told us was that it was unlicensed magic. What kind of magic was it?”

Boneen sneered. “The unlicensed kind. Why am I wasting my time with this?”

Torin asked, “Boneen, did you identify the sigil on the blueprints on my desk?”

“Yes, right before I was told to come here. It’s the symbol for hiding something.”

Looking at Danthres, Torin said, “Like a closet.”

Millar stepped forward. “What do you mean?”

“The blueprints for your house have a mark on the spot where the closet is now,” Torin said. “It would seem that the hidden closet was part of the building’s original plans.”

“Excuse me,” Boneen said before Millar could go off on another rant about messes, thus marking the first time Danthres had ever been grateful for Boneen’s crankiness, “but why am I here?”

Steeling herself, Danthres told the guard to reopen the door to the Jaros house.

Boneen seemed unperturbed by the stench. He simply looked inside and said, “Oh, dear.”

“Well put,” Danthres muttered.

Shaking his head, the magical examiner looked away from the muck-covered sitting room. “I had assumed this to be a one-time event-someone using the Duality Spell once for whatever arcane reason-but it looks like it’s been used for some time, and still is being cast on a regular basis.” He regarded Torin and pointed at the closet in the back of the sitting room. “That sigil I was translating-it was on the spot where that closet is?”

Torin nodded.

“Can we please close the door before I die?” Danthres asked plaintively. The elven half of her heritage came with a sensitivity far greater than that of humans, and the smell that irritated them was going to kill her ere long.

Waving his hand dismissively, Boneen said, “It won’t do any good, but go ahead.” The guard did so, to Danthres’s relief.

Millar drew himself up to full height. “What do you mean it won’t do any good? And who’s going to clean up that mess?”

“And what exactly,” Danthres asked, “is a Duality Spell?” As a rule, Danthres preferred to avoid magic, but reality didn’t allow for that, and ten years in the Castle Guard made her painfully aware of the most common spells-particularly the ones that were commercially available. This one, however, rang no bells.

“To answer your earlier question, Tresyllione,” Boneen said, folding his spindly arms across his chest, “this magic is of a type devised by a wizard named Ivano the Misguided. He pioneered an entire system of magic that involved checks and balances-every time you cast a spell, there was a concomitant reaction elsewhere. This way there’d be no effort on the part of the spellcaster, and anyone could wield magic.”

“Anyone can use magic,” Danthres said impatiently. “All they have to do is buy a spell-”

“-that’s already been cast.” Boneen sounded just as impatient. “A wizard casts the spell into the scroll, which then goes on the market. The purchaser then uses it, but the energy of the spellcaster has already been spent. With Ivano’s magic, one didn’t need any kind of training to cast a spell, nor did one need to purchase a spell-you simply needed to incant it.”

Torin nodded. “That explains why that Amaralla woman’s people couldn’t clean the place-and why my boots resisted the Cleaning Spell.”

Seeing an out, Danthres said with a smile. “So that means this would be a case for the Brotherhood, wouldn’t it?”

“If I bring this to the Brotherhood, the first thing they’ll ask is why I didn’t bring this to them sooner.” Boneen for once sounded abashed. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not bring that to their attention.”

“Oh, no,” Danthres said angrily, pointing an accusatory finger at Boneen, “you’re not getting out of it that easily. I’ve had far too many murders and assaults shitcanned because it’s ‘Brotherhood business,’ and everything gets swept under the rug. Now, the one time when they’d actually be a help, which only happens once every third blue moon, and you’re telling me you won’t inform them?”

“I’ll help you,” Boneen said.

That brought Danthres up short. The M.E. had never used those three words in sequence before that Danthres was aware of. Boneen considered the work he did for the Castle Guard to be a waste of his precious time and energy, and he begrudged every second of it. For him to volunteer…

Boneen went on. “Give me a minute to gather myself up and let me examine the house more closely. I might be able to trace where the spell’s being cast.”

“Uhm, excuse me?” That was Abbi Jaros, whom Danthres had briefly forgotten, having focused most of her ire on either her father-in-law or the M.E. “What kind of spell is this exactly? What’s happening to our house?”

Boneen started waving his arms about. “Ivano’s magic always has a secondary effect. Someone is doing something pleasant, and that requires that somewhere else there be something awful. However, the awful can be directed, and in this case, it was to the closet that was hidden in your house when it was built.” He cast a glance at the shut door. “But they’ve obviously been casting this spell for some time. The muck in your closet has become too big to fit therein, and it has spilled out into the house.” Now he looked at Danthres and Torin. “We need to find out who’s doing this. At this rate, it will expand to take over and destroy this house. In a week, it will have consumed the entire block.”

     

 

2011 - 2018