Castle Roland

Sword of Light

by Rilbur


Chapter 3

Published: 8 Apr 14

"Doctor Grayson?" Mathew asked the man who greeted them at the hospital. Given his long, white lab coat it wasn't the worst possible guess in the world. Strangely, he looked oddly familiar, though Mathew could not for the life of him remember when they'd met before.

"Magi Trent, it is an honor to meet you," Grayson took Mathew's hand and pumped it, grinning from ear to ear. "It's a pleasure to meet the man who has provided such a boost to the medical field."

As annoying as it no doubt was for Jenkins, Mathew was almost glad that Grayson wasn't paying any attention to him. Jenkins looked like he'd swallowed something especially horrid, and the way he still had his hand out, expecting to be greeted first just completed the comedy. Grayson hadn't simply decided to greet Mathew first, but rather in his hero worship he had completely missed Jenkins existence entirely despite Jenkins having been the first one in the door.

"Please," Mathew said modestly, "while I may have provided a few useful pointers it's people like you who ran with them."

"If you hadn't provided the teaching material you did, especially your translation of Magical Treatments, we never would have had a starting place," Grayson insisted. "The advancement in medical imaging techniques alone has saved thousands of lives, and your research has helped push techno-mystic integration years ahead of schedule."

"While it is nice to have someone acknowledge my own small contributions to the advancement of medicine," Mathew tried to change the subject, "my partner and I aren't here to talk about that. We need to discuss Lily Barton with you."

"Oh, Detective!" Grayson finally noticed Jenkins. "It's a pleasure to meet you again, of course." While he was neither as fulsome with his smile or eager with shaking his hand, Grayson at least managed to pay some attention to Jenkins finally, easing the man's temper somewhat. "Right this way to my office, gentlemen," he smiled, escorting them down a hall to a simply appointed room. "Please, sit," he gestured to the chairs in front of his desk.

Mathew's eyes almost bulged out of his head as he glanced at the bookcase that took pride of place in the room. "Magicae Medicamina Morbos Mundano et Magicae!" he read the title of a book in shock. "Sanguis Curantur Veneficus!" he read another. "Vitia Cerebri Salutaris Magicam, that might be useful today... In fact, it looks like you have almost all of Elgor's works except-" he broke off in shock and sudden dismay. "No, it can't be! Usura Salutaris Iniuriam Magica!"

"The pride of my collection," Grayson nodded. "One of only three copies known to exist."

"For good reason!" Mathew snapped. "He intended it to complete his research into all aspects of the healing arts, but it focuses on their perversion!"

"Perhaps," Grayson agreed. "In fact, I agree with you that that is exactly what that book covers, a perversion of a doctor's most sacred duty. First, do no harm."

"Then why haven't you destroyed it?" Mathew snarled. "Hell, how did you find it?"

"For the second, I intend to keep my sources private. They cost too much as it is without other people driving the costs up," Grayson informed him. "For the first, I don't believe in suppressing unpleasant information. By studying the spells provided, I can try to find ways to detect them, and defend against them. Both are important, benign uses of that book, wouldn't you say?"

Mathew reached out and stroked a finger along the spine of the book. He almost cringed as he realized it wasn't an original, it was one of the Brotherhood of Blood's copies, bound in leather flayed from a still-living slave. No wonder this copy had survived, the magic the Brotherhood had imbued it with would help shield it from detection, as well as the ravages of time over the centuries since it had been bound. Thank God they'd been suppressed so thoroughly centuries ago!

"I won't insist on you destroying the knowledge it contains," Mathew decided after a long moment of containing his rage, "but I will insist -- absolutely insist! -- that you copy it out into another format, then destroy this binding. Burn it. I'll provide you with the ritual, and I demand -- demand! -- that I be allowed to attend, to verify the complete destruction of this obscenity."

"Excuse me?" Grayson asked.

"The reason this copy survived the purges is because the people who made it were evil, horrific men," Mathew managed to force out calmly. "They created the binding by use of black magic, enslaving the soul of one of their captives to protect it. The only way to release the soul is with the ceremony I will provide you."

Grayson turned pale. "Of course. I understand completely. I'll even provide you with the information that should let you track down the other two, which as I understand it came from the same source, and were probably made at the same time."

Mathew took a deep breath. "Thank you. It'll take time to assemble the components for the ritual, I suggest you use that time to copy what you can, but please destroy it as soon as possible."

"Of course," Grayson nodded. "I had no idea..." he shook his head. "Are any of the other books... similar?"

Mathew glanced over the shelves, shaking his head. "I must admit, your collection is beyond impressive. It's as good as my own, and mine has been handed down the family for centuries. Hell, some of these books I'd like to get my hands on!"

"If you'd like to borrow something, please feel free to ask," Grayson smiled. "I owe you enough favors, and I'm still working on my Latin."

Mathew let his finger rest on one title. "Clypeus Domini," he whispered. "Most of your books cover what could be called 'medical' magic. This one is a bit out of place."

"I got it cheap, part of a bundle of sorts," Grayson shrugged. "I haven't even confirmed it's authenticity yet, it might not be a real spellbook."

"Consider it confirmed," Mathew smiled. "The Shield of the Lord is a rare book, but I've heard of it. May I?"

"Please," Grayson smiled.

Mathew slid it off the shelf reverently. "Carmina uti his tantum et defendit eos qui post Deus noster, vere innocens qui vel in cures. Admonendi contra hoc crimen in illa eos sequetur perniciem," he read the first line of the book. "Use these spells only to protect and defend those who follow the Lord our God, those who are truly innocent, or those who are in your care. Be warned that violation of this charge will result in a deadly curse," Mathew looked at Grayson. "It's real, I recognize the beginning. And the diagram below is a genuine spell of some power, though I wouldn't dare cast it myself."

"Loosing your power must really suck," Jenkins gloated.

"Nothing to do with power," Mathew snapped, closing the book with reverence. "I am not a holy man. I never have been. Omnes qui non per Dominum ut haec ita incantatorum cave! None who do not follow the Lord may use these spells; beware!"

Jenkins frowned. "You make it sound like the church uses magic!"

"Certain holy men have, in fact, been wizards," Mathew informed him. "It's unusual for a wizard to feel called to the church, but it's not unheard of for one to find a vocation." He turned to Grayson. "I feel guilty asking, but may I borrow this?"

Grayson raised and eyebrow. "Certainly, though I thought you just said you can't use it."

"I can't cast the spells," Mathew shook his head, "but I can learn from them. Besides, the book is listed as a reference in several of my other books, it'd be nice to learn why." He hesitated, then nodded. "On second thought, maybe it would be better if I didn't. The book is protected, powerfully so, and it's mere presence helps protect the others."

Grayson frowned. "I wasn't aware of that."

Mathew regretfully slid the book back into place. "I can't take it, I'm sorry I even asked," he whispered, pained. "It's unfair to ask you to take such a risk. Besides, the protection may help more than just the books; this is a hospital, and the spells may well be healing people here."

Grayson shook his head. "Incredible," he muttered. "I had no idea-" he gasped. "The other book, the 'unholy' one, does it, can it hurt patients?" he stammered.

"Don't worry," Mathew shook his head. "The creators were concerned purely with protecting the contents of their spellbooks when they were forced to travel. They may have run around killing people for fun, but they didn't enchant their books to do it for them. No fun in that! I'm more concerned about the people who would want to steal Iniuriam Magica! At least Clypeus will keep most people of ill will from even approaching the room, though it isn't perfect."

"Oh?" Grayson asked.

"If you invite someone in, it will bow to your will," Mathew explained. "That's the only flaw that's really dangerous, though I'd be careful who you sold it to. A man of ill will could buy it from you, and it would then be required to serve him, which would not be good. It would help cloak his magical signature, preventing anyone from detecting him through it, as well as helping to protect him against direct attacks."

"Well, I have no intention of selling any of my books," Grayson shrugged, "and I'm sorry, but given what you just said I'm not prepared to loan that book out anymore. If you'd like to visit, you're free to read it so long as it doesn't leave the room, and it's understood that it remains in my possession."

Mathew smiled. "Done your research on the basics of magic, I take it?"

"I'm an emergent, Magi Trent," Grayson said softly. "It behooves me to learn all I may about my new powers."

"Indeed," Mathew agreed softly. "We've sidetracked too long," he sat down in the offered chair with one last look, both long and greedy, at the bookshelf.

"I'll say," the oh-so-patient Jenkins agreed. "Now, why don't we get down to our job."

"You said you couldn't prove that Lily's cerebral hemorrhage was artificially induced," Mathew asked. "I was in there, and I can tell you it almost certainly was."

Grayson licked his lips in thought for a moment. "I said, and I need to be very precise here, that I was unable to prove that her injuries were magically induced. The healing you applied was unusually thorough as well as being systematic, something which as far as I'm aware you don't have the power for anymore."

Mathew nodded. "I certainly agree with that position."

"As a result, I've been going over the data available, as well as going through my books on the subject," Grayson nodded to his bookshelf. "My grasp of Latin is still rather shaky, but I can usually manage to follow along with most texts."

"Is this subject coming anywhere near a point?" Jenkins asked.

Grayson sighed. "My point is that medical science could not even prove that she had been injured. Our best imaging systems simply don't have the resolution to detect what is magically evident, that there is in fact a portion of her brain that has been injured. And unfortunately, the healing magic that was applied prevented me from discerning remnant traces of the spell that caused the injury, which means I can't certify that it was spell caused, though the evidence is certainly suggestive."

"Evidence?" Mathew asked, curious.

Grayson walked over to his desktop and pulled out Iniuriam Magica and flipped through it. "Here it is," he nodded. "Assuming I understand this passage right," he placed the book in front of Mathew, who cringed away to avoid touching the cover, "if a powerful enough healing spell is used, it leaves a trace behind that amplifies following healing spells, and any attempt to use 'healing' magic to actually cause harm requires a massive amount of power to work. As a result, a death spell almost always works against itself, making it relatively easy to undo."

Mathew bent over the passage in question. The language was quite a bit more technical than Grayson's summary, but it looked like he caught all the important details. "It fits together pretty nicely," Mathew nodded. "It certainly explains how I could cast a spell so much more powerful than I'd expected. You misread this part; it isn't simply a trace, it's the general healing affect produced by healing spells."

"Ah," Grayson nodded. "In that case..." he picked the book up and flipped the pages, looking for another passage. "Interesting, very interesting," he commented. "Useless," he glanced up at them in sudden realization, "completely useless, but interesting."

"What is?" Jenkins asked.

"Sorry," Grayson shook his head. "There was another passage in the book I didn't quite understand," he closed the book and slid it back into the bookcase, "and it makes more sense now."

"Don't make us pull it from you," Jenkins growled.

"There was a section on how the trace could be used in reverse, which I didn't understand," Grayson sighed. "Unfortunately, what it was discussing was a way to invert the healing effect into a killing tool in it's own right." Grayson shrugged. "I don't think any of us want that little trick making it's way into the public light."

Mathew shook his head. "Please, lets not," he agreed. "Even if you ignore the PR, that's one trick I'd rather not have being used."

"Alright then, I guess we're done," Jenkins sighed. "Unless you have any more questions, Trent?"

Mathew shook his head and stood. "I think we've taken enough of the good doctor's time, though..." he looked at Grayson again. "Have we met before?" he asked. "I can't help but feel I've seen you around, maybe at a convention or something?"

Grayson shook his head. "Sorry, I used to live in the DC area until recently."

"Ah," Mathew nodded, "maybe that explains it. I just got transferred to be the local liaison for the Department of Paranormal Control and Regulation."

Grayson smiled, "In that case it's entirely possible we may have run into each other at some point. I don't think it was recent, though, since I've wanted to meet you ever since you released that translation."

"Well, thank you for your time," Mathew shook Grayson's hand one last time. "If you need any help, here's my card, feel free to call, anytime."

"Certainly," Grayson nodded, taking the card and slipping it into his pocket. "Thank you for letting me know what a treasure I have here," he ran his fingers along the spine of Clypeus Domini. "Please, take my card, call anytime," he turned around and grabbed a card off his desk to hand over.

Mathew smiled, and carefully slipped the card into his own pocket, touching it only on the edges. "Thank you," he smiled as he let himself be ushered out. "Interesting, isn't it," he commented to Jenkins as they walked to the car. "He possesses a book of black magic, he comes from the area where the previous crimes took place, and he has the medical skills to create a cerebral hemorrhage like Lily had."

Jenkins almost tripped over his own feet. "He doesn't look anything like the perp," he protested.

"Perhaps," Mathew smiled, then pulled the card out of his shirt pocket, still very careful to avoid getting any more of his bodily oils on it than he could help. "Lets see about that."

Pulling a container of salt out of his fanny pack, he put the card on the ground and poured a small circle of salt around it. "Sal mihi verum!" he commanded, and the salt glowed a strong, clear white. "Alright," he nodded, "I had to be certain. Too many coincidences."

"Sure of what?" Jenkins asked as Mathews picked up the card, a sudden burst of wind scattering the salt.

"He's strong, very strong," Mathew told his partner as he frowned at the sudden vanishing of the salt, "but he's pure, completely untouched by the black. Almost impossibly pure, as if..." Mathew thought about it a minute. The signature was incredibly pure, but the salt wouldn't lie. Of course, salt was a purifying element, and it was always conceivable that that was mucking with his readings. It wouldn't throw them off very far, but maybe far enough for this, especially if the doctor really was a fundamentally good man. He could always redo the spell, but that was a waste of time. "No, never mind. He couldn't possibly be faking this. Which leaves me with the very palatable conclusion that he is in fact not our perp. Interesting, though, that he's purer than I am. I've lived a harder life than most, but I'm usually considered relatively untouched by that."

"Harder?" Jenkins asked.

Mathew glanced at him. "Don't ask. I won't answer."

They got in the car, and as Jenkins started the engine he asked, "It's about Judith, isn't it?"

Mathew managed to restrain himself from pulling his weapon, barely. "Drop the subject. Now," he ordered flatly.

Jenkins nodded and pulled out. "Lily next?"

"Works for me," Mathew nodded.

Previous ChapterNext Chapter