Untitled (7.3) (2016)

Tobias stared into the low fire, watching the flames’ hypnotic dance and occasional swirls of smoke. For a time, he reflected on the universal fascination with fire.

“We plan on natural and dimensional,” he decided, “Have you brought up our idea?”

Shannon shook her head, then proceeded to walk Oifa through her prototype. Tobias watched and listened in despite knowing most of the plan. The details were somewhat interesting and he’d have to consider how her magic would interact with his.

When the description ended, Oifa stared at the device for a few seconds. Then she said, “How will you account for Fairaday’s Law?”

Dammit.

Mixing two high magics generally meant that one would overpower the other. They had to be carefully balanced, often with a buffer.

“Honestly, hadn’t thought that far,” he said, “I’m still figuring the runes, sigils, whatever. Reinforcing protection’s easy, connecting that to land, dimensions . . . is obscure at best. I’m not even certain a strong sigil exists for that.”

Oifa nodded, “I’ve heard adaptation can . . .”

“Adapting is possible, new sigils that work are rare anymore, so we have to adapt some. But, adapting is tricky and often weakens the effect. The question’s whether adapting one or finding an obscure symbol is more dangerous.”

The trio lapsed into silence, each considering their own concerns. Or so Tobias assumed. He knew at least that’s what he was doing. This was not the sort of research that he intended to do. Sitting in a library or some dig somewhere poring over ancient texts or artifacts to decipher sigils or learn lost ones, that was research. This was not the sort of field work he’d trained for. the pressure of the time limit and the possible effects of failure, for two things, were beyond what he’d expected on signing with the Tower.

His reverie was interrupted by Gavin and Cierra returning.

The other sorcerer paused at the wards as the witch passed through. Tobias watched their guardian flip open a clip knife while Cierra spoke to the others. He saw Gavin prick his left thumb and stow the knife, then press the thumb to the middle of Tobias’s sigil. He muttered something before Tobias felt a surge of power flow into the wards. Gavin held that position for a full minute before joining the others.

He sat by Tobias.

“The wards’re reinforced, and tied to me. I’ll know whatever happens to them.”

“Hidden depths.”

“Did a couple years of blood magic, seemed like a good idea. Haven’t had much call to use it since,” Gavin shrugged.

“Anything odd out there?”

“Looks like they said. Nothing I could see, but I’m no specialist.”

“Signs of other watchers?”

“No other Coven, I think. Or Rovers. But, both know the territory and I didn’t have much time to look.”

Tobias watched the other four talk while he and Gavin spoke. He outlined their containment ideas, including the Fairaday snag.

“I’m not much for the theory stuff,” Gavin said with another shrug, “but if there’s anything I can do to help out, I’m game. Looks like it’ll be dull here otherwise.”

Tobias nodded, his eyes focused on something in the middle distance, “Thanks. I’m mostly talking to think. Sometimes hearing the problem again helps.” He drifted off, Gavin out of this mind, muttering, “Fairaday buffer” repeatedly to himself. If he said it enough time, some solution would come to mind.

It would have to be sorcery.

Adding gem or word magic would upset the balance. Alchemy could buffer, but in this application, he couldn’t see a practical way to introduce it. Maybe Oifa could, but assuming not, that left sorcery.

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