When I saw the latest picture from Monday Flash Fics, it made me think of Dale, one of the wizards from the “Craft Night” group that pops up in Triad Blood and Triad Soul. In Triad Blood, you don’t learn a lot about these wizards, but more of their purpose becomes clear in Triad Soul. I thought I’d write about the first time they all got together, just after the events in “Bound” occur. So, very minor spoilers (ish?) for Triad Blood and Triad Soul.
The five of them stared at each other around the small café table tucked in the back of the tea shop. Dale knew the others, of course. With her great-grandfather’s recent death, Mackenzie Windsor’s mother was the new Windsor covenhead. And at the moot to declare her so, the rest of the people here had all been present. Mackenzie herself had a soft little smile on her face, and her hair held up with two sticks. Beside her stood Rebekah Mitchell, a tall black woman who didn’t say much and yet still managed to make him feel like he was doing something wrong just by exhaling in her presence. And beside Rebekah, Tracey Spencer stood a step apart, and looked the part in her expensive couture and perfect manicure, though a paleness to her complexion belied the calm arrogance she was projecting. And then, on the other side of Dale, the guy who’d invited them all here.
Matthew Stirling. The great-grandson of the son-of-a-bitch in chief himself. In glasses and a button down white dress shirt, Matthew Stirling looked like a harmless nerd.
Dale supposed in their own way, they all looked harmless, though of the bunch he was the largest by a not-so-slim margin. Even so, looks were deceiving. But their families—or, more properly, The Families—had the most power of anyone in the city. Ottawa was what it was on the say-so of their families, to some degree or another.
Why did I agree to come here?
“I suppose you’re wondering why I gathered you here today,” Matthew said.
No one laughed. Matthew cleared his throat, looking awkward.
“Maybe you should just tell them,” Mackenzie said.
“Tell us what?” Tracey said. Even her voice was aristocratic. Man, she was just what he expected from the Spencers.
Then again, his own family wasn’t exactly cuddly either.
“I’m pretty sure you’re the next inheritors,” Matthew said.
No. Dale had to clench his hands to stop from saying or doing anything. No no no.
“How..?” Rebekah had to take a breath. “How do you know that?”
“I inherited,” Matthew said. “I don’t know if you know what the Stirling inheritance is, but—”
“You’re prescient,” Tracey said.
Matthew nodded. “As of this week.”
Dale fought off a full body shiver, but only just. So Malcolm Stirling had access to the future? No wonder he always ended up on top. He wondered if his father, or his grandfather, or his great-grandfather knew.
“It’s not soon,” Mackenzie said. “Or at least, Matt doesn’t think so. But…” She looked at Matthew. He nodded. “He’s pretty sure it will be us five. And the thing is…”
“The thing is we’re fucked?” Rebekah said.
Dale surprised himself by laughing.
“No,” Matthew stepped forward. “No, no that’s my point. We could… We could work together.”
Tracey laughed. “To do what? If I… If I inherit, do you have any idea what that will mean?” She shook her head. “Mackenzie gets to heal. Rebekah becomes some sort of illusion-proof abjurist. Hell, even Dale—”
“Don’t,” he said.
She stopped. Regarded him. He saw it then. In her eyes. The same thing he was sure she could see in his.
“If we work together,” Mackenzie said. “We could… push the boundaries. Figure out things they won’t let us learn. Before they have us at their beck and call. Maybe we can…” Mackenzie sighed. “Maybe we can make things better.”
She barely sounded convinced herself.
“If they even find out I came to talk to you on my own, they’ll be furious,” Dale said. “I’m out.” He pushed off the wall and started for the front of the tea shop. He eyed everyone on the way. The store was mostly empty, but was it just him, or did the guy behind the counter pay way too much attention to him?
Why had he come?
He was an idiot.
He made it home without incident, and back into the mansion without trouble. It didn’t relax him any—he was never relaxed in his family Chantry—but it was where he was supposed to be as far as his elders were concerned, and that meant a modicum of safety.
Of a sort.
He wandered the halls. What he wanted more than anything was to tear off his tie, change into a sweatshirt, and maybe hit the punching bag for a while. Matthew and Mackenzie should have known better. The Families didn’t work together. Not across their covens. It was insane to even suggest it.
He wouldn’t be excused until after dinner. He wondered how many of his aunts and uncles (and great-aunts and great-uncles) would be visiting for dinner, and if any of his cousins would be there. Sometimes the massive table was set for thirty-six.
Sometimes it was set for eight.
He rarely interacted with his great-grandfather. Dale did everything in his power to go unnoticed. Stay below the radar.
He approached the study. He could hear them in there, talking.
I’m pretty sure you’re the next inheritors.
Some things you couldn’t avoid, though. Not forever.
Dale glanced behind him. No one around.
A few words of magic, whispered under his breath, and a prickle of magic flushed across his skin. He crouched, and looked through the keyhole of the study.
Whatever they were doing, he could feel the power from here. And more than that, he could feel something inside him stirring, as always.
Matthew had inherited. Prescience, apparently. If Rebekah, and Mackenzie, and Tracey also inherited? If he did, too?
They were barely in their twenties. His own great-grandfather would never give up his position just because his “gift” had moved on to Dale. No, he’d shackle Dale to his side. He’d probably even call it “grooming.”
Inside the room, magic twisted, and Dale could almost hear a voice.
He pushed away from the door and started for the gym. He could shower and get dressed again before dinner. He needed the punching bag.
After his shower, his knuckles raw, and still breathing heavily, Dale tied his tie in the mirror. Once it was knotted, he took a deep breath and picked up his phone.
The original message inviting him to meet at the tea shop was still there. He hadn’t deleted it. On some level, it occurred to Dale not deleting it the moment it had arrived already spoke volumes.
He tapped out a message.
When’s the next meeting?
Before he could change his mind, Dale hit send, slid his phone into his pocket, and went to the Family dinner.
The magic inside him stirred again. There was another whisper of voices just quiet enough he couldn’t make out the words.
Dale ignored them.