Chapter 4: Old memories and some new ones
Jenna found herself dragged along a wizard portal, shops and streets flying past as Andy walked forward determinedly. Jenna hated portals – wizards always seemed to use them when there was no need. The subway would have worked just as well, she mused. Heck, walking was preferable to whipping through the streets, her heart jumping in her chest as they seemingly passing through people and cars and buildings. The first time she’d been through a portal she thought it was kind of fun, like riding the walkway at the airports. Now she recognized portals as a waste of energy and magic.
Andy tugged at Jenna as he left the portal, where she blinked confusedly and realized that they were back at the park where she’d seen the elf. Andy smiled grimly at her, still with her hand on his elbow, “Now, my dear, we weren’t able to get anything off of your recording, so you’ll to tell me about it the old fashion way. It was here, correct?” at Jenna’s nod, he escorted her across the busy street, cars screeching to a halt for no apparent reason to let them cross. She looked back over her shoulder assuming that they’d left a massive pile-up of yellow taxis and angry people in their wake, only to find that the taxis and trucks had continued on their merry way after letting them pass. She faced forward again to find Andy pulling out a chair for her at a tiny café at the edge of the park. When she was on duty she had often looked enviously at the people relaxing at the café, able to watch the people passing by from the shady, tree-filled haven at the park from the comfortable wrought iron tables sipping delicious-looking drinks.
Andy settled into his chair as waiters (magically fast, she thought ironically) arrived with plates of mouth-watering appetizers and tall glasses of peach ice teas. Jenna made a face again when Andy’s attention was elsewhere. She hadn’t realized how far she’d come since moving to New York. When she was a kid growing up in the country, she’d thought magic was wonderful and different (well, in the country it was rare – it’s not like elves just popped up and hung out with the normal folks). Now, after discussions with Jak and Garrett and some of the others that she talked to at the Wizard base, she was firmly in the “don’t use magic unless you have to” camp. And in just a few minutes Andy had shown more wonton waste of magic than she’d seen in a year of living with the non-wizards at the wizard’s base.
Andy noticed her face and grinned again at her, showing teeth, “What? Don’t approve of the service?” Jenna looked coolly at him, her mind churning – do I say what I really think? What repercussions will result? As she was stewing, Andy continued, “Well, I know you’re friends with Jak. I’m guessing you disapprove of my magic use. But, [and here he grinned a bit wider] I don’t care and I don’t agree with the sentiment that “magic use changes the way the world moves” crap. Now, let me think a moment – you’re the one that I found on the edge of Long Island, right?”
Jenna nodded, remembering how alone and scared and desperate she’d felt as she led her younger brother along the smelly traffic, trying to make her way through the city with backpacks of their only belongings on their back. The casually dressed Andy with a matching warm, comfortable and sympathetic smile, stepping out of the wizard’s portal had been a God-send then. “Remind me again of your background?” Jenna looked at him with wide eyes, and decided on the abbreviated version of the story. “My brother and I showed the magic talent pretty young, and we were from an area where magic use was viewed with a lot of suspicion. When things became pretty apparent in our community that we were different, our parents home-schooled us and although they didn’t have the talent, they were always supportive of us learning about it. After my parents passed away, I decided it would be better to get out of our small hometown and head someplace where we would fit in, where Jeb could go to school. We’d read in a blog on-line about your wizard’s school, so we came here.”
Andy was nodding his head, his brow furrowed and his fingers interlaced under his chin. “Right – your parents passed away under mysterious circumstances, as I recall?” Jenna’s only reply was stabbing her fork into an appetizer. “Ok, had you met any elves before?” Jenna looked at him sharply, but his demeaner hadn’t changed. “Well… not exactly” she fudged. Andy raised an eyebrow and she continued, “I saw some while I was traveling here. There was a lot of them traveling north along with me, although they mostly walked through forests and clearings not too far from the highways. It looked like they were all migrating some where.” Andy looked surprised at this, “Really? And you didn’t think to tell me this – oh, LAST YEAR?” Jenna shrunk back in her seat a bit, but burst out defensively, “I didn’t really know you last year – I’d never reported to you directly before! I actually thought you were a junior wizard until earlier this morning!” Andy eyed her and turned his attention back to his food.
The interrogation over, Jenna sighed with relief and stuffed food into her mouth. Unfortunately she sighed a little too soon. “So, tell me how you knew the elf you saw this morning.” Andy commanded. She swallowed reflexively and choked on her food, as the waiters came up and thumped her on the back. Jenna tried to wave the waiters off while attempting to keep from coughing food everywhere. “Know him?” Jenna wheezed “I didn’t know him…” she trailed off and Andy appeared to grow to an 8-foot intimidating monster… “Lying by omission is still lying.” He growled.
But this time Jenna was not going to be cowed by the wizard. “Nonsense, I didn’t know him,” she said firmly. Andy didn’t need to know that she had seen a picture of the twin-look-alike of the elf a long time ago. Besides, by all accounts, that elf was dead.
Drenan was, at that very moment, feeling very self-conscious indeed. He was in the middle of a cold cement basement, surrounded by a group of fay in various stages of their human guises. And all attention, needless to say, was on the very unusual sight of an elf, in a city, in a basement, surrounded by non-elf fay. Drenan gulped and mentally thought how ridiculous this all was.
“Well na’ Drenan, perhaps you’d be wantin ter tell folks what yer’ bout then.” The Hobblin grumbled. “Or we could just eat him” one particularly tiny and sweet looking goblin-type creature piped up happily. Drenan looked at her in distaste but started his tale, “Well, right then. I’ve come to the city for a few reasons, and as some of them are pertinent to your well-being I’m representing the elves’ guild. Some of you have heard the rumors of magic being drained from the southeastern United States. By all accounts and various scientific experiments, this drain is only occurring in the U.S., no other countries are affected. This means that magical creatures from the southern area are migrating north, causing magic shortages throughout the northeast as well. This has caused some rather horrific accidents. We’ve come to recommend magic use only in extreme circumstance.” A gentle giant interrupted, “Why is there a drain?” Drenan rubbed a hand wearily across his brow, “The elves do not know for sure.” “Surely you must have a guess!” Other creatures nodded emphatically. “We would not make recriminations without proof, but we are looking very seriously into the matter” Drenan answered firmly. “As you know, elves dislike being forced to move so we are doing everything in our power to discover the drain source.”
The grumbling grew louder but Drenan held his ground. “I am exploring part of the problem here in the City and will be required to be here for a (hopefully) short while. The elves guild ask for your assistance with my investigation…” With that, the shouts from various fay made it impossible for a sly, large human to hear anything particular above of the din… Garrett cloaked himself in shadows and drew carefully away from the spy hole in a tunnel behind the bookstore. So Jenna was right after all, he mused. He’d figured she was – he made fun of her because she was easy to tease, and (although he’d rather die than admit it), she was pretty darn cute when she got huffy. He thought for a minute, and instead of dashing to find Andy, he starting trotting off to Jenna’s house in a closer part of the city. Garrett knew that the only time magical recording didn’t work was when the recorder had something to hide, and there was no reason to get the magical big-wigs on Jenna’s case if Jenna was in trouble. Really it was silly of her to go straight to the wizards, he’s have to remember to tease her about it.