Whatever it was the woman agreed. As Alison finished speaking emotion finally played across the homeless woman’s face. She sighed, looked down and to the side, but then met Alison’s eyes again and nodded. Kyle thought she’d just agreed to something that she’d been hesitant about. The conversation, whatever it was, might actually be important.
“Hey, Brad, I’m going to step over to the restroom for a moment. Mind if I get you to watch the potatoes?”
The volunteer next to Kyle, a young man from the church group, looked up and grinned widely. “With pleasure!” The reply held too much enthusiasm for the task of potato schooping, but Kyle got the impression Brad was pretty jazzed to be helping. Then again, he had been working the green beans. They’d see how his attitude held up to the much more challenging mashed tubers.
Kyle threaded his way through the tables toward the hallway that led to the restrooms and, not so incidentally, past where Alison and Fern were standing with the homeless woman. Only they were no longer just standing. They had put their arms around her, and everyone had bowed their heads. From across the room it looked as though they were praying. As he got closer, that changed, the women were clearly chanting rather than speaking normally and the language of the chant wasn’t English.
That wouldn’t be a prayer unless the women had decided to pray in high church Latin. Kyle doubted that, both because it was a nonsensical idea, and because he couldn’t recognize any of it. The Children were up to something.
Kyle continued past them trying to look like he wasn’t paying attention, walked down the hall and into the bathroom, shut himself into a stall, and worried. The children are casting spells on homeless people. The Children of Atlantis, a terrorist organization, are casting unknown spells on homeless people! This is not good; not good at all. They could be making monstrous Enchanted. That certainly makes more sense than the idea that they are just serving food to the hungry.
What was he going to do?
I’m going to get a grip, Kyle told himself. Even if he were to accept as fact that the spell Fern and Alison were casting would turn the homeless woman into a ravening monster there wasn’t much he could do about it. It was probably complete already. As far as he could tell, the shelter wasn’t being torn to shreds by a monstrous Enchanted. Therefore, if the woman had been made dangerous, it was part of some long term plan, and he was already here to deal with the Children’s long term plans by learning them and reporting them to the authorities.
Alright, in that case he needed to learn what had been done to the woman and why. So how should he do that? Alison and Fern hadn’t been speaking English and they had both been students in classical magical studies. Put together, that meant they had likely performed some classical spell that they’d learned during their time at school. Maybe there was a record of it around the house. He could look around; try to find out what was going on.
Alternately, he could just ask.
That was the whole point of his cover, right? They thought he was on their side so he could just go up and say, “Comrade, I can’t help but notice you’re working strange magics on members of the oppressed proletariat. Does this push forward our common cause?” Then, what, they’d tell him all about how the president was going to be ripped apart by a horde of trolls?
That seemed a bit much. Surely he’d need a bit more vetting before he got his autographed copy of the master plan. OK, so they’d lie if the end goal of the magic was too serious and tell him the truth if it was…
Perfectly innocent magic being surreptitiously worked on the homeless?
Why hadn’t he gotten into mechanical engineering, instead of magic? Or maybe petroleum geology? He’d read an article saying the pay was great!
Alright so the upside of asking was he might learn the spell was somehow innocent, or he might learn something from a lie. The downside was they might be more suspicious of him. Not a lot though, right? If he was actually looking to overthrow the Archmagi he’d still ask if he saw magic being cast on a homeless woman, so it wasn’t really a suspicious thing to do. He just needed to play it cool. If he couldn’t get anything out of Alison he could snoop around for the spell. They might guard it a little more closely if they knew he knew, but really they’d either secured the information or they hadn’t. If they had the information in encrypted cloud storage he wasn’t getting at it either way. If not, why should they get their act together just because he noticed the spell being cast?
He walked out of the stall, looked in the mirror, schooled his face until it looked less freaked out, and then headed back toward the main floor.