WarSpell: The Merge – Snippet 13
7:20 AM PST, Dec 31
My God, what a night, Carla thought as she looked in the mirror. She finally got a bit of sleep, but now it was time to wake up and face reality, such as it was. A look in the mirror and a period of thought, and she decided that overall she wasn’t dissatisfied with the physical effect of the Merge. The irises in her eyes were just a bit elongated vertically like a cat’s. All together it gave her a sort of spooky look and she found that she rather liked it.
The phone call from Mom last night . . . That was interesting. Her machine was full of messages, some of which she’d been able to ignore, others that had to be answered. Mom, with her “We love you even if you do look different, now.” Dad, with his “Is that what you did with all the money it took to send you to college?” Carla shook her head. Dealing with Dad wasn’t going to be that much fun for a while.
One call was from a stranger and sounded a bit threatening. “I’ll be watching you.” That kind of spooky she didn’t need, especially because with Eowina’s memories and emotions mixed in, what Carla wanted to do was scry the bastard and turn him into a greasy spot. Or, better yet, use his brain stem as a component in a magical item. And now Carla remembered doing that to humans who irritated her, more than once.
She found another disadvantage when she went to her kitchen for breakfast. Her usual quick cereal and banana breakfast didn’t satisfy. She wanted meat. That was from Eowina. She knew the Bowna were universally carnivores. It was cultural, but real nonetheless.
Suddenly Carla felt nauseous. She remembered eating orc and enjoying it. She took a breath and sniffed meatloaf, started salivating. Carla thought meatloaf at 6 am was nauseating. But the craving was still there. She needed meat to restore her energy. To satisfy the cravings, she made a quick ham and cheese omelet. Cheese she could cope with in the morning, as well as eggs and butter. The omelet, along with toast and jam made a fairly decent breakfast. The cravings quieted down, at any rate.
Another problem asserted itself when she got in her car to head for the studio. For some reason, the car made her itchy. After some thought, she remembered the elven discomfort around cold iron. Eowina didn’t care for metal, and her preferences were affecting Carla.
Psychosomatic, Carla determined. Eowina’s preferences do not have to affect me. I can get over this distaste for some things.
The drive to the studio was unusual. Fresno certainly wasn’t L.A., but it was a busy city. Traffic was less heavy than usual, but some of that might have been due to the flying people and horses. When Carla considered it, she realized that she could have simply flown to the studio. She just hadn’t considered her new abilities. She considered them now.
Carla was now a natural wizard, like most elven wizards. She worked mostly with slow magic and plant magic. The sort of magic you use to gradually grow a tree into a door to a different place or a different plane. Almost all that magic was left behind in Eowina’s world.
What Carla had available was the emergency stuff. She could armor herself. She could fly or throw lightning. And she could slow time. Well, actually, speed herself up to three times her normal speed, making the rest of the world seem to move at a snail’s pace. That spell prevented her from doing any other magic while it operated, but it gave her a major advantage in combat. “I’m frigging Wyatt Earp,” Carla muttered as she wove through traffic on her way to work.
Given time, she could use her magic to grow plants and trees that did everything from hold a mansion to play music. Given a few years, she could make a plant servant that would fix and mend.
None of which was much use in the world she lived in. She still needed to make a living and she still loved her work. She was still thinking about magic and her new abilities as she parked in the studio’s parking lot.
Carla and the rest of the news team had just finished watching a replay of the White House news conference.
“So what can you do?” John Granger, the news director, asked.
“Not a lot that’s all that useful here,” Carla admitted. “I’ll probably never get mugged again or if I do the mugger will regret it. Ah, briefly, I imagine. Mostly I can kill things and blow stuff up.”
Andy Fenton shifted away from her. Carla felt that had to be a good thing on the whole. Andy didn’t really understand the concept of personal space. “I’m a . . . Eowina concentrated on combat magic. And because she was, is, whatever, a natural wizard, she didn’t have the broadness of options that a book or amulet wizard would. I do have fly and a couple of other spells that are useful. But the truth is, unless we get attacked, I’m mostly just a reporter with a couple of neat tricks.” Carla was trying to be forthcoming. This was information that John and the crew needed. But one of the things that she got was an unhealthy dose of Eowina’s paranoia. You don’t tell anyone your tricks. They can use the knowledge against you.
“Which brings us to the question of what you’re going to do now,” John said. “No, we’re not considering firing you. You can stay as co-anchor on the evening news if you want to. But think about it, Carla. This is the biggest story I’ve ever seen. I want to know what happened and why, and so do our viewers. So will everyone. At the same time, you just got exposure all over the world. We know our feed of your changing and reporting on it while it was happening to you got picked up by every major news network.”
Andy Fenton was looking very upset. He had hopes of moving up from the local news to a job with the networks. He’d been at the station longer and apparently didn’t like the idea that she might be getting ahead of him. Carla kept her smirk to herself. Andy wasn’t a bad guy, but he had an overdose of ambition. He got a little testy when things didn’t go his way.
“I tell you what, John,” Carla said, after some thought. “According to what we’re getting from Washington, everyone is focused on how to deal with what’s happened. No one, no one at all, is focusing on why it happened. Now, I’ve been changed, but I’m still a UCLA grad in journalism. I want to know why this happened.”
“Do you have some sort of a plan?” John asked.
“Maybe,” Carla admitted. “You know how Tim Hufton was tracking the changes on the weather map?”
“Yes,” John answered. “But what does that matter?”
“Maybe if we gather all the information on what happened and when it happened, we’ll be able to trace this back to its source. I imagine that it could take weeks to get straightened out. Suppose I take one of the trucks, or maybe a van. I can head east and I can cover all the weird stuff that’s happened on the way. If we don’t hurry, we can do a report or two every day, one from each town we stop in, if you want. I can work my way back east, and by the time I get there, well, we might have a better idea of what happened.”