Kyle was feeling annoyed.
The morning after he and the other Children figured out the spell, he’d reported it to Agent Sandborn. Sandborn had said it was great work, and he should keep and eye on the situation and play along with their efforts to actually open the Room. None of the others had seemed all that happy with that course of action. They’d kept their tempers, but it had been obvious that it was a fairly close thing as they demanded to know why they should keep assisting the group.
If Kyle were being honest with himself, he would have admitted that Sandborn’s reasoning had been a bit weak on that point. Sandborn had reiterated that the Room might be dangerous, and that they needed someone on the inside if it was. Jessie had objected that if it was so dangerous they should just shut the whole thing down. Sandborn said his hands were tied because the Children weren’t doing anything illegal by trying to figure out the old magic in their basement, and then he’d had to rush off to another meeting.
After the meeting Jessie had tried to convince him to give up the effort. The resulting tense discussion might have counted as the first fight of their young relationship, and eventually Jessie had lost her temper called him a pigheaded jackass, and stormed off. Demonstrating that her criticism had a certain amount of merit Kyle had plunged straight into the work of opening the room as soon as the other magic users were awake.
* * *
Alison’s finger jabbed the paper over the circle that was drawn off-center on the human figure. “I think we need to find this. We know where everything else is, but this is still a bit of a mystery.”
“Are we certain we care? We aren’t worrying that the ring or the square are anything. Right? We’re assuming those are just lines.”
“Yeah, but the ring and the square interact with the runes in the picture. I think they’re there to disguise the relationship of the runes and the words. That or as a decorative illumination. This circle, however, doesn’t have any obvious meaning.”
Lynn sat next to Fern on the basement’s couch. Both looked tired, and Fern was leaning against him with her shoulder on his chest. Honestly, Kyle had thought the two weren’t particularly listening but Lynn spoke up, “Maybe it’s where the door opens. Like, don’t stand here because space-time might split in half and that wouldn’t be good for you.” Fern shifted to look up over at him seeming just a bit green at the thought.
Bob rolled a jet black hand over in a gesture of uncertainty, “Or do we stand here because everywhere else is going to get a bit messed up by the spell?”
There was a moment of silence out of the assembled magic users. Kyle wasn’t certain what the others were thinking about but his mind had gone back to the spell he’d used to make Merv smarter and how careful Charles had been about that one. Should he walk away while he still could? Actually, could he still walk away? Without him the Children never would have found the symbols in the first place. It really wouldn’t be right to just shrug and say, ‘not my problem.’ Especially given that he had a more information. “I might know where that spot is,” he said. “We got distracted by the chart before I could show you this yesterday but… Well, here, it’s easiest if I do just show you.”
He crossed to the corner of the room where he’d stashed his skateboard, scales, and weight the previous day. He stacked them quickly such that the weight was on the scale and the scale was on the skateboard, then rather theatrically zeroed the scale and began to roll it across the floor. It registered a small weight when it moved, but as it reached a certain spot somewhat off set from the center of the room, the weight rapidly climbed and persisted at a little over an ounce even when he stepped away from it.
“I wondered what the board was for,” Lynn said.
“The board is mostly for moving the weight without shifting it on the scale. I figured if we were looking for a spatial effect it might be useful. Gravity is warped space-time after all. Everything in this spot is a couple of percent heavier than it would be otherwise. You can’t really tell even if you stand right in it, and the effect doesn’t have sharp sides, but I’m pretty sure it’s real.”
Bob looked down at the spot on the floor seriously. “Well, I suppose that’s were we stand, or maybe don’t stand. That’s nice to know.”
Alison walked over to the spot, “How big is it,” she asked Kyle.
“Maybe a yard in diameter. Or at least that’s what I can detect with this set-up. If I had more weight, or a more sensitive scale, I might be able to pick up something more.”
“In that case, it’s got to be ‘don’t stand’. A yard wide makes sense for a door, but it doesn’t work for a safe zone. They ran escaped slaves through this room, whole groups. We know that from our research. You couldn’t fit a whole group of people in that circle so it’s almost certainly where the door pops up.”
That made sense, though Kyle didn’t like how cavalier she was being about the risk. He didn’t like it even more when she said, “So, let’s fire this thing up!”