Kyle and Jessie decided to sleep together in the livingroom. Not “together” together, but in proximity to one another. Given that they were about to perform a communications spell, that wasn’t really necessary. However, Jessie wanted the company given that she was a little nervous about it . Kyle seemed to feel the same way. At least, when she’d set up blankets and a pillow on one of the recliners he’d copied her without discussing it.
There was some legitimate motivation for being around one another as they performed the spell. They still didn’t know if it was safe. “Seriously,” Jessie asked, “what’s wrong with him? Is that an 1800s thing, a Charles thing, or an archmagi thing?” About two hours after their meeting Charles had texted: Spell prob safe, proceed with plan.
Kyle shrugged. “Well, like most technical professions, magic attracts literal people. It could be he doesn’t realize ‘probably safe’ isn’t comforting even if it is accurate.”
“He’d better realize! I believe my reply was something along the lines of ‘what the hell? Probably?’ and that I needed more than that.”
“Did he send anything?”
She frowned, “Nothing.”
“It’s probably all he knows. This can’t be a popular spell, or it would be tracked for IP violations, and the Children would want to avoid that.”
“Plus we don’t have a conference code.”
“Right,” Kyle nodded seriously, either missing the jibe or choosing to ignore it.
“That probably means it’s classic magic that someone found written on a pot somewhere, and no one spent the money to develop it as a product. We know at least one of the leaders of the Children came out of a classic magic degree program so it’s probably something they have personal experience with. Odds are, they worked out the details on how to use it and the public record is fragmentary at best.”
“So probably safe.”
She thought about that for a minute, “I guess we can go under one at a time. That way if something does happen someone will be watching to get help.”
Kyle looked doubtful, “The trigger is ‘lie on sweet dreams’. A trigger has to describe what a spell does in some linguistic system. It doesn’t have to be literal, or even a human language, but it does need to convey and manipulate information. So if the spell does something dangerous it’s probably a metaphorical interpretation of the phrase. It might put us into a coma or something, but I doubt it’ll be visible unless the inventor of the spell understood ‘sweet dreams’ to be the equivalent of bloody death. That’s what you study in classic magic programs, what did the makers of this pot really mean by that phrase.”
“The sweet dreams equal bloody death guy would not be someone I’d want to meet. By the way, I’ve decided to get out of the magic industry and find a field where people give straight answers. Maybe used car sales? I thought Ralph and I really clicked.”
“I’ll go first.”
“Into used car sales?”
The simple statement inspired a surprising mixture of emotion in Jessie. Her first thought was that it was nice that he was looking to take the risk: romantic and chivalrous. Then she wondered if it was sexist that he was thinking like that, and was it sexist that she was letting him? She wondered if she was letting him, and suddenly she was afraid of the risk that she hadn’t taken at all seriously until then. She managed to say, “What? No…”
“I wasn’t really offering to have a discussion. First, I know magic better than you, so I have a better chance of feeling something going wrong and cutting power to the spell. Second, I’m the one the Children are expecting so it would be best if they see me first. Finally, I can get the magic together faster.” While he’d been speaking a sort of alert look had taken over his face. What it most reminded her of was a terrier with its ears cocked. Then he shut his eyes, inhaled a couple of times, and when he opened them they had the faint amber glow of a magical charge.
He settled back in the little nest of blankets he’d built on the couch and chanted something, no doubt the words of the spell. The spell wasn’t instant, the Children had warned them of that much, so he had to do it several times. As he did so, the motion of his chest grew broader and slower. His eyelids drooped over his still glowing eyes, and then he fell asleep. The entire process had taken about a minute.
Jessie watched Kyle’s sleeping form. The rise and fall of his chest made it clear he was alive, and there weren’t any great bloody rents spontaneously opening in the blankets. That was good. Of course, it didn’t really prove he hadn’t lapsed into a permanent dream.
Alright, toughen up, Jessie told herself. She wasn’t going to let Kyle go in alone. It was probably safe! She reached inside herself and found the part of her brain that was always focusing magic. She gripped the magic and kept it from swirling away into her DNA spells. It was a struggle, like not reading words on a printed page in front of her or not thinking of a pink elephant when someone said don’t think of pink elephants, but eventually she managed a little charge. She chanted the words and sent her little charge into them.
Nothing happened. She could feel the magic strain to twist the universe into a new shape and fail. She clenched her teeth and tried to gather more magic. As it flowed into her she focused very hard on the soft pattern of her pajamas and very carefully didn’t think of the little holes woven into the blueprint of her body into which the charge wanted to pour.
The pajamas were nice. She didn’t normally wear them because she always ended up too hot. It was easier to just sleep in her panties. She was glad she’d thought to pack them in the first place. She couldn’t sleep with Kyle in her panties. She felt her face heat a little, that sounded wrong.
She chanted the words of the spell and let the magic free into it. It strained, and succeeded. From there progress was rapid. The spell really required stunningly little energy, and with a new channel open it was easy to direct magic into it. She felt sleep pour into her brain and her thoughts became disorganized. The room swam as her eyes lost focus. She briefly pictured her pajamas, and then sleeping in her panties, and then an ebony wave washed up and sucked her down with its undertow.