(As usual, mostly unedited, just proofread once or twice; comments and feedback welcome)
“I’ve heard of them, obviously,” Tobias said, “but haven’t seen one.” Not that they were rare or even uncommon, but they didn’t come up often in his own specialized studies. This one was clearly made by a fellow cryptomancer, though he’d heard of lithomantic ones as well. The device would launch a bolt of sorcerous energy when activated, then recharge before another bolt, hence its common name.
After another moment, he handed the magical weapon back and watched Gavin smoothly holster it.
Tobias was vaguely aware of Oifa and Donovan conversing somewhere else in the room. He turned to find them leaning against the bar, down at the far end near the blue door. They weren’t speaking loud enough for him to hear anything beyond a low susurration.
Second later, all four heads turned as the blue door opened.
Headmaster Waite led the way in, his brass capped staff thumping softly on the floorboards. He was, Tobias noted, in blue and green today, and pulling off a style of robes that hadn’t been fashionable since the 70s. As soon as he cleared the door, Shannon Riallo followed a couple steps behind.
She had traded her suit and lab coat-robe for something more suited to the woods they were supposed to be visiting. Somehow she’d found brown leather hiking boots that were even more pristine than his own, with khaki cargo trouser tucked into the tops. An off-white tunic style blouse and slightly worn brown leather jacket completed her “travel” change. He noted a matte black canvas messenger bag that had the minute telltale bulges of gems sewn into the lining and the triangular bladed short sword hanging from her hip. Her staff was nowhere in sight, though he spotted more gems peeking from under the edges of her clothes than he was used to seeing on her.
Waite looked around briefly before walking to Tobias.
“Master Jacobs, good luck,” he said, “As the lead master on this field trip, I shall give you this.”
Tobias accepted a plain white gold ring set with a mottled green-black stone. He briefly noticed some markings before the Headmaster was shaking his hand. The ring disappeared into one of his pockets until needed.
“Without further ado,” Waite was saying, “Have off, people. Remember, you represent the Tower to outsiders. Best behavior.”
He smiled and immediately left through the red door before anyone could say anything in response.
Tobias clapped once and looked at the faces surrounding him.
“Well, then,” he said, “Everyone ready?”
Seeing no dissent, he took the ring from his pocket and looked more closely at the markings. They were definitely glyphs of some sort, but not a system or kind with which he was familiar. He held it out toward Shannon.
She shrugged, “Malachite. To reinforce mental powers. Probably concentration in this case.”
“Anyone know how these work?” Tobias, himself, hadn’t left the Tower since he was hired. He’d had no reason to return to Earth, with his teaching schedule and other work. He had no time for his own research and his family wasn’t the call-every-week type. The Brotherhood of Thoth tended to attract and produce very focused individuals.
Oifa nodded, “Put it on and concentrate on Earth. Each is keyed to a specific location. Anyone touching you, even indirectly, will come along.”
“Simple enough,” he allowed, “Anyone need to check anything? All good to go?”
He held out a hand to Oifa, who took Shannon’s hand, who took Gavin’s. Tobias found himself holding a wrist, connected to the hand holding Salovich’s staff. He awkwardly slipped the ring on one handed and closed his eyes. He focused on thoughts of the Brotherhood library he had grown up in long ago.
Within seconds, the quartet started to fade from Donovan’s sight.
Crossing the gap between the Tower’s demi-plane and Earth took some time.
After about half a minute, the pub proprietor was once again alone with his charge. He let loose a long stifled yawn, locked both doors, and went back upstairs to his bed.