WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 06
“Not that much, General. Well, I should probably say–not that varied. I’m a natural wizard who focuses on protection and transport spells. Amulet wizards, book wizards and natural wizards each work a bit differently. I don’t have to have spell devices like amulet wizards or spells crafted in advance, like the book wizards do,” Jeannie said. “Shofar has quite a number of protection spells she can use. From what Major Sullivan said, I think what you need is to prevent translocation or other attacks that will seem to come out of nowhere. For right now, I can do that with Translocation Block. It blocks a room or a smallish space from being teleported into. If I use it enough times, it can cover the entire White House. It won’t help if the President leaves the building, but he’ll be about as well protected as we can make him for now. It’ll work, unless someone has a god break it.”
“Major Sullivan said something about gods, too. Someone is going to have to explain this god business sometime soon,” General Kramer muttered. “Now would be a good time, in fact. Airmanâ€¦ Airman, ahhâ€¦Shofar, would you mind explaining about the gods?”
“I’ll do my best, sir, and it’s Airman Matthews. Or Jeannie, sir. Shofar is my other self, I guess, but I’m still Jeannie.”
“That’s something of a relief, Jeannie,” General Kramer admitted while the staff car pulled onto the Beltway. “Nothing against this Shofar person, but she’s not in the military and right now I’m feeling just a tad paranoid. Now about someone having a god break it? Tell me about gods.”
“Yes, sir, but it gets a little confusing, to tell the truth. WarSpell games are usually based on a sort of mishmash of cultures, sort of middle ages, but not quite. The games usually have a pantheon like Rome or ancient Greece,” Jeannie explained.
“Intercessors get their magic from one of the gods or an embodiment of nature. Natural wizards like me do magic naturally, by talent and feel and often sometimes by accident. Book wizards study and craft their spells using their own bodies and auras to hold the prepared spell till they need it. Amulet wizards make devices to hold the spells one amulet per spell. I don’t know whether the gods of the game worlds came with the Merge, General. I haven’t had a chance to talk to anyone who Merged with an intercessor and they might not know yet anyway. Mostly they pray for spells in the morning.” Jeannie paused for a moment “General, have there been any healings?”
“Yes,” Joe Kramer answered. “There have, more than anything else so far, as a matter of fact. Does that mean that the gods have come through?”
“It probably means that the intercessors’ spells came through. I can’t be sure about the rest. When an intercessor prays for her spells they come crafted and ready to go. If they get their spells back in the morning, well, it probably means that at least they have contact with the gods of their game worlds. If the gods did come through, especially if they do more than just provide intercessors with spells, things are going to get kind of interesting.”
The car pulled into the White House drive and stopped again at the west entry. General Kramer and Jeannie Matthews got out, but General Kramer still had unsatisfied curiosity. He looked over the White House grounds and put it on hold for a moment. “Airman, would you pleaseâ€¦do whatever it is, use the magic?”
“Yes, sir,” Jeannie responded. She took a good look at the building. “Ah, how many rooms does the White House have, sir?”
“I don’t know. Why?”
“Sir, I’ve never gone on one of the tours. I didn’t think about how big it is. I can cover maybe fifteen rooms today, then I’m going to be tapped out. I can do about the same tomorrow,” Jeannie explained. “The spell will last about twenty days. After that it will have to be renewed. Sir, you’re going to have to find some more magic users.”
“We’re working on that. Any other options?”
“I could try a wish sir, but I don’t know if it would work. I’d be pushing it and sometimes they backfire if pushed too hard. Later, when there’s more time, people can research specific spells to cover the White House and other important facilities.” Jeannie hesitated.
“But we’re looking at a period of time while we’re uncovered,” General Kramer said. “I understand, Jeannie. We’re on it.”
They were, of course, stopped at the door. The White House was locked down. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to General Kramer, though he was shocked for a moment. When he remembered that he had called in the alert, he shook his head ruefully. It took a couple of minutes before they were cleared to enter. During that few moments, General Kramer was informed that the President was not in a good mood. The Chiefs were in the situation room and they weren’t pleased either.
It was right about then that Joe Kramer realized he had yet to actually see a spell being used. He had well and truly gambled his career on Josh Everett’s guess about what was going on. Joe hesitated just a moment and realized that he’d do the same thing again if he had to. With an escort of secret service men, he led Jeannie to the situation room.
By now the President, the chiefs, the secretaries of state and defense were really irritated. They’d been woken, rushed to work, and not one of them had anything but second hand reports and some video footage that was less impressive than Star Wars or Jurassic Park. The nation was in an uproar; the President had barely managed to doze off before the Secret Service had come into his room. His wife was not a happy camper, either.
President James Maguey watched the army deputy chief of staff enter the situation room, followed by a young woman who looked more like an Olympic gymnast than a soldier. Airman Matthews, the report said. He knew Joe Kramer and would take his word about most things having to do with the army, but this was pushing things quite a bit. Certainly something weird was going on, something dangerous, a threat to the country he loved, and possibly the whole world.
But magic from a silly game? If they kept looking at Josh Everett’s delusion, they could miss the real cause until it was too late. Joe looked to be aware of his irritation and was toughing it out. The airman didn’t seem especially bothered. “Well, General, now that you’re here, what do you have for us?”
“Airman Matthews has spells to protect the White House, Sir,” Joe Kramer answered. “They work one room at a time.”
“Will we be able to see anything?” James asked. He needed to know if actual evidence was going to be forthcoming, or just more claims.
“I don’t really know, sir. Airman, what do you think?” Joe asked.
“Sir,” Jeannie answered with a wry grin, “I believe so. As Shofar I remember a light purple glow. I can feel the power. I can feel the spells within me.”
“Well, we’ll see, I guess,” James muttered. “If it’s even real and not some kind of insane hoax, that is. And that’s what I’m inclined to believe, to tell the truth.”
The airman shrugged, ignoring the outraged looks from certain people in the room. “I can feel it, sir. I know I can protect this room, as well as a few more. I don’t know any way to prove it to you except to just do it.”
“Do it, then,” James ordered. “We’ll see what happens.”
“Yes, Mr. President.” The airman drew her hands together then spread her arms straight out to her sides, while turning in a slow circle. A pale purple glow began to grow from her body. The glow spread quickly, reached the walls and ceiling and conformed to the shape of the room. The glow dimmed, but if you looked carefully, you could detect a very faint coloration on the wall.
James Maguey sat silently and watched, waiting as she drew her hands back together. He kept waiting, wondering if anyone else had seen and felt what he did. The crawling tingle across his skin had come as a real surprise. He freely admitted that he had very little imagination, so the sudden feeling as the glow from Jeannie grew left him disconcerted.
No one spoke for a few moments. Finally, James asked, “We all saw that, right? Everyone felt it?”
A murmur of agreement and questions ran around the table. Even the most skeptical among them realized that the glow couldn’t have been faked, not at such short notice. No one admitted to feeling anything. He did notice that the airman gave him an intent look.
“What now?” Ellen Carter, the Secretary of State, asked. “How do we know this room is protected?”
Joe Kramer shrugged, just like the airman had. “I suppose we could try to find someone who can translocate and ask him or her to try it. Other than that, I have no idea.”
Mutters broke out around the table, until James cleared his throat. “For now, people, we will assume it worked. It certainly did something. It won’t hurt to do it in some other rooms. The Oval Office, parts of the residence . . . How many rooms can you protect tonight? Or can you protect the whole White House?” James recalled Kramer saying something about “one room at a time.” That could well mean a limited number of rooms.
“About fifteen rooms, I understand,” Joe Kramer answered. “So we’ll need to pick them carefully.”
“The briefing room, Mr. President,” Chris Warren said. “We’re going to have to brief the press. If we give them what we have so far, it will work to decrease the tension level. People are next to panicking out there.”