concentrated on that-on the risk-she felt better than if she thought about what Gran would say if she found out. She wasn't afraid to face danger for Eric. And as long as she kept thinking about that, she could block out the thought that her idea was not only dangerous, but wrong.
This time she went down the stairs almost as if she were sleepwalking. Calm and detached. "Toby, where's Gran?"
He lifted his head a bare inch. "She went to see Thierry Descouedres, something about his land. Told me to come and pick her up tonight."
Thierry was a vampire and a Night Lord. He owned a lot of the land northeast of
-but what did Gran have to do with that?
It didn't matter. The important thing was that Gran wouldn't be back all day.
"Well, then, why don't you go out and have some fun? I can watch the shop."
Tobias looked at her with dazed blue eyes-and then his round face lit up. "Seriously? You'd do that? I could kiss you. Let's see, I'll go visit Kishi ... no, maybe Zoe ... no, maybe Sheena. ..."
Like all boy witches, he was in tremendous demand with the girl witches in town.
Still muttering, he checked his wallet, grabbed the car keys, and headed for the door as if Thea might change her mind any second. "I'll be back in time to
pick her up, I promise," he said hastily and was out the door.
The instant he was gone, Thea turned the sign on the door to closed, locked up, and tiptoed to the counter.
It was in the locked lower shelf, an iron chest that looked five hundred years old. Thea picked it up with an effort-it was heavy. With her teeth gritted and her eyes on the bead curtain that separated the store from Grandma's workshop, she staggered up the stairs.
She made two other trips downstairs to gather materials. The bead curtain never stirred.
Last, she went to Gran's bedroom. On a nail near the headboard was a heavy ring with dozens of keys. Thea took it. Back in her own bedroom she shut the door and stuffed a towel underneath so Blaise wouldn't smell the smoke.
Okay, now let's get this thing open.
She sat crosslegged on the floor in front of the chest. It wasn't hard to find the key that would fit the lock-she just looked for the oldest and crudest iron key on the ring. It fit perfectly and the chest opened.
Inside was a bronze box, and inside that a silver box.
And inside the silver box was an ancient book with yellowing, brittle pages, and a small green bottle with wax and ribbons securing its cork. There were also thirty or forty amulets. Thea picked one up and examined it.
A lock of blond hair had been twisted and woven
into a knot, and then sealed in that shape with a round piece of clay. The clay was dark earthy red, and Thea touched it reverently. It had been made with mud-and the blood of a witch. An entire Circle had probably worked on this for weeks: charging the blood, chanting, mixing it with secret ingredients, baking it in a ritual fire.
I'm touching a witch, Thea thought. The very essence of somebody who's been dead hundreds of years. The cabalistic sign stamped on the front of the amulet was supposed to show who the witch was. But lots of the pieces of clay were so worn that Thea couldn't make out any trace of a symbol.
Don't worry. Find a description of somebody in the book, and then match the amulet to them.
She turned the fragile pages of the book carefully, trying to read the spidery, faded writing.
Ix U Sihnal. Annie Butter, Markus Klingelsmith . .. no , they all sound too dangerous, hudo Cagliostro- maybe. But I don't really want an alchemist. Dm Ratih,
Inoshishi . . . wait a minute. Phoebe Garner.
She scanned the page on Phoebe eagerly. A gentle girl from
who had lived before the Burning Times and had kept familiars. She'd died young of tuberculosis, but had been considered a blessing by everyone who'd known her-even humans, who appreciated her ability to deflect spells from her village. Human villagers had mourned at her grave.
Perfect, Thea thought.
Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna