Eye’m No Closer to an Answer

Eye’m No Closer to an Answer

Crawforddiscussing over tea“What do you think about what Crawford said?”

We were home again, and Dragon and I were discussing the day’s events. I took a sip of tea and continued. “Do you agree with his assessment that we are looking for a powerful spell caster, or do you still feel Marisol might be responsible for the intrusive eyes?”

“I do not have enough facts upon which to base a conclusion.” Dragon took a gulp of her tea. “A perfunctory examination of the back room of the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store yielded no clues. Other than Christine, Talia, you, Crawford, and Griff, I sensed no presence in the room. Mayhap Christine and Talia, upon performing a more thorough inspection, will discover something of import. Right now, I would like to begin a thorough examination of the areas here where you discovered someone was watching you.”

in officeI nodded. “The morning it started it began with just the feeling of someone watching me while I worked in my office. It was unnerving. I kept looking up from my computer, expecting to see someone at the door. Each time I looked, there was no one there, although several times I swore I saw a quickly retreating shadow. That continued into the afternoon, with me never actually seeing anyone.”

Being watchedI placed my teacup back on the table and raked my hand through my hair. “Miles took me out for dinner and a movie, to help get my mind off things. However, in bed that night, a noise woke me. I thought I saw a shadow leaving the room, so I ran out into the hallway. I saw nothing there, so I checked the entire house, but I found nothing amiss. When I was back in bed, though, I looked up and there was a huge pair of eyes watching me from the ceiling.”Dragon with smoke

Dragon furrowed her scaly brow, and dark smoke drifted from her snout. “Then, with your permission, I will start with your bedchamber.”

An examination of the bedroom yielded no clues. Neither did an examination of the other places I had seen eyes watching me – the computer monitor in my office, and the French doors that led from the living room to the deck.

Eyes have been watching me

Dragon sighed. “I have found nothing, neither through my physical examination of these areas, nor through a more thorough magical inspection.”

I frowned. “What do we do now, then?”

Elf clericBefore answering me, Dragon shapeshifted into her preferred alter ego, Dray. To those with a discerning eye, Dray’s delicate features and exquisitely pointed ears marked her as an elf. However, to the unobservant and uninitiated, she appeared to be an exotic and very beautiful human and could blend in quite easily in this world.

Once her transformation was complete, Dray smiled and lifted an eyebrow at me. “Now, I talk to Marisol.”

Talia in sports carDray arrived at the home shared by the child, Marisol, and her mother, Bastina, just as Talia pulled up to the curb in a snazzy red Ferrari.

Dray waited at the front door for Talia to join her.

“Dray! Fancy seeing you here!” The co-owner of the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store grinned at her.

Dray returned her smile, though without the same level of enthusiasm. “Hello, Talia! Did you and Christine discover anything?”

Talia and Christine

Talia shook her head. “No, I’m afraid whoever did it left no trace. Are you here to interrogate Marisol?”

Dray frowned. “It is not my intention to interrogate the child. I merely have a few questions for her.”

Talia shrugged. “Well, don’t waste your time. She can’t be behind the spying. She hasn’t any spell-casting ability.”

“Do you really know the extent of her ability?” Dray raised a delicate eyebrow.

Talia sighed. “Not really, but I have no reason to believe she is capable of this sort of magic.”

“You do not believe her capable? So, I am to take your word for it?” Dray scoffed. “Well, I think I will speak to the child myself, if you have no objections.”

Not waiting for an answer, Dray reached around the other woman and rang the doorbell.

Bastina opened the door, and a smile lighted her careworn face. “Dray! Talia! What a pleasant surprise. Please come in.” Bastina led the other two into the living room, where Marisol sat, reading a book.

Talking to MarisolThe child looked up and jumped off the chair, the book falling to the floor. “Dray! Talia! Did you come to see me?”

“We did, sweetie!” Talia opened her arms to give the child a hug.

“I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.” The girl accepted Talia’s embrace, then looked up at Dray. “And I wasn’t expecting you at all.”

“Well, I hope you are not disappointed.” Dray smiled warmly at Marisol.

“Of course not!” The child giggled.

BastinaMarisol 2Dray turned to Bastina. “Would it be permissible to speak with your daughter in private?”

Bastina furrowed her brow. “Does this have anything to do with the lessons she is receiving from Talia?”

Dray gave a noncommittal shrug. “In a way.”

“Then, it’s fine. I’m so grateful that you told Talia about Marisol. The child seems to have benefited greatly from Talia’s instructions. Since my daughter has undertaken the exercises in control and restraint, there have been fewer . . . incidents. I still don’t understand everything . . . or anything, for that matter.” Bastina shrugged and made a moue. “What I do know, however, is my daughter is better off now.”

Dray gave Bastina a reassuring smile. “I am glad it is working out.” She turned toward Marisol. “Come, child. I need to speak with you before Talia proceeds with your lessons.”

Several hours later, Dray was home and had shapeshifted back into her true form.

“Did you learn anything?” I took a sip of my tea.second discussion over tea

“Only what I already suspected. Marisol is not our spy.” Smoke started to drift from Dragon’s snout. “And I ran into Talia. She was there to work with the child on control of her powers. Talia and Christine found nothing when they inspected their storeroom.”

I sighed. “Then who is behind the watching eyes?”

“I am not certain yet.” Dragon took another gulp of her tea and narrowed her eyes. “But something Crawford said has given me . . . what is your idiom? Food for thought?”

“Oh?” I raised an eyebrow. “What did he say?”

“He said we may be barking up the wrong tree.”

tree

What tree should we be barking up? Be sure to come back next week. Maybe we can find out. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Eye May Have to Reconsider

Eye May Have to Reconsider

Dragon, Talia, Chris

“No, it can not be good!” Dragon repeated her words, this time more forcefully, as she – in her customary guise of an elf maiden – continued glaring at Christine and Talia. “Not good at all!”Glaring

Talia returned Dragon’s glare through narrowed eyes, but Christine seemed relieved at Dragon’s presence.

I smiled broadly and addressed Dragon by the name she used in public. “Dray! When did you . . .?”

But Dragon held up a hand to silence me. “My apologies for my prolonged absence, Mistress. When I returned this day, Master Miles apprised me of the recent events, and of your current whereabouts. I came immediately.” She glared at Christine and Talia again. “It would seem I arrived not a moment too soon.”

“Indeed?” Talia scowled, and pushed her hair off her face. “Perhaps if you had been here earlier, we wouldn’t have had this problem.”Dragon, Talia, Chris

Dragon ignored Talia’s complaint, and glowered at the co-owners of the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store, the establishment in whose back room we currently stood. “Have you had such an incident previous to this day’s appearance?”

Christine shook her head. “No. No one has ever been able to penetrate our wards before.”

Dragon furrowed her brow. “Are your certain your wards are in place and activated at this time?”

“Of course!” Christine scoffed.

“No.” Talia’s voice was so soft, we almost missed what she said.

“No?” Christine rounded on Talia, her eyes hard, her mouth set in a grim line. “And why not?”

Talia hung her head and mumbled. “The wards are still active for the store itself, to protect our inventory, but I released them back here. I thought it best, since we were expecting people for afternoon tea.”

“Really, Talia, what were you thinking?” Christine rolled her eyes and her mouth formed a moue. “It never occurred to you to just modify the wards to allow our guests to enter, but still keep others from intruding? Who knows what was behind this invasion or what mischief might have been done?”Talia with flaming cheeks

Talia continued to hang her head, and her cheeks flamed, but she gave no reply.

“Well, it is water under the bridge now.” Dragon sighed. “I doubt any harm has been done, though. Since this is the first time such a thing has occurred here, I doubt you were the target.”

Crawford furrowed his brow. “I would agree, Dray.”

Griff nodded in agreement. “Me, too. Marge has detailed for us what has been happening at her house. I would imagine she is the intended target.”

Eyes have been watching me

“But the fact that whoever – or whatever – is spying on Marge did so here at our store may indicate there is a connection to us as well.” Christine frowned.

Dragon stroked her chin as she considered this. She paced the length of the big room, then stopped and faced me. “Mistress, correct me if I am wrong, but I can think of only two connections you have to Christine and Talia.”

Crawford and GriffI furrowed my brow and chewed on my lower lip for several moments before nodding. “Well, I suppose it is obvious the first connection would be Crawford and Griff.” I gestured toward them as I spoke. “Crawford was the one who suggested Christine and Talia might be able to help with Marisol. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/09/08/still-looking-for-answers/

Dragon nodded. “Therefore, the second connection, logically, would be Marisol herself.”Marisol

I agreed. “But since Crawford and Griff were present here with me today when the eyes appeared, I doubt they are behind the apparitions at home.”

“That leaves Marisol.” Dragon frowned.

“Yes. This was supposed to be a celebration of sorts for her today, if I understood Talia earlier.” I raised a questioning eyebrow at Talia.

at the herb farmThe woman nodded and cleared her throat. “We recently met the child when we visited the herb shop her mother manages. We realized almost at once she was the one of whom you had spoken. Since that meeting, I have been working with Marisol, teaching her control. I was hesitant to take her as a pupil at her tender age, but she’s proven very insightful, and a quick study. Today was to be a congratulatory fete for her, as well as a thank-you to you for alerting us to her problem. Crawford and Griff were invited as a thank-you to them for sending you to us.”

I rubbed my jaw. “So, the child knew I was going to be here?”

Talia nodded.

I raked my hand through my hair. “It looks pretty clear to me that the child is behind this.”

Dragon narrowed her eyes and turned again to Talia and Christine. “You two need to see if you can determine the identity of the intruder here. I will do the same at the house. If we determine it is Marisol, I suggest you work a little harder with her, Talia. Perhaps teach the child what is and what is not acceptable behavior for one who wields powers such as hers.”

Talia nodded, her cheeks burning at Dragon’s implied reprimand.

Dragon turned back to me. “We need to go home, Mistress. There, I will attempt to determine the identity of your intruder, and how they got past the new spells of protection I and my fellow magic users recently cast. As I explained to you at the time we cast it, it is one of those spells whose failure is only revealed if someone succeeds in defeating it.”

I nodded. “Do you agree that it is most likely Marisol?”

Dragon shrugged. “She is extremely powerful.”

CrawfordCrawford furrowed his brow. “I hope you don’t mind if I point something out, but I believe you may be barking up the wrong tree. When you first told me about the child, you described her as one who has magic, but is not a magician. You said she’s not a witch or a sorceress; she cannot create illusions, she cannot conjure, she cannot enchant, she cannot cast any sort of spell.” The man paused to make sure Dragon and I were following. When we both nodded, he continued. “Whoever is spying on you is capable of casting spells. They are capable of defeating Dray’s wards and spells of protection.” He paused again, looking from me to Dragon and back again. “Ladies, I believe you are looking for a powerful spell caster.”

Powerful magician

I blinked and my jaw dropped.

What powerful spell caster would be spying on me and why? Can Dragon and the others get to the bottom of this? Be sure to come back next week and see what happens. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Eye Don’t Know What’s Going On

Eye Don’t Know What’s Going On

Dragon and Miles“Oh! You’re back! Marge and I have been so worried.”

Miles had been going down the stairs and had practically run into Dragon, who had been on the way up.

“Why should you be worried, Master Miles?” Dragon arched an eyebrow and gave Miles a bemused look.

“Well, let’s see. Maybe because you’ve been gone for more than five weeks?” Miles frowned. “Or maybe because of the things that have been going on here. Marge had no way of knowing if any of you were behind the strange events.”

Instantly, Dragon snapped to attention. “Strange events? What strange events?” She paused, frowned, and held up her hand in a stop gesture before Miles could answer. “Wait! Five weeks? We have only been gone a few days!”

Miles shook his head emphatically. “No, it has been five weeks. You left for your illusory trip on January 4, and it is now February 9.”Angry Dragon

Dragon scowled, and dark smoke drifted from her nostrils. “I must have lost track of time. It certainly did not seem that long. My sincere apologies. Now what is this about strange events?”

Miles detailed to Dragon the events that had started shortly after Dragon and her fellow characters had departed for their illusory trip. “Marge felt as if someone or something was watching her. She said she kept catching movement out of the corner of her eye, but when she turned to look, no one was there.”

Dragon scoffed. “That is curious, but hardly worrisome.”

“That was just the beginning.” Miles’ voice was grim.

Dragon’s eyes narrowed. “Go on, Master Miles.”

Eyes have been watching meMiles then described the three times his wife had seen giant eyes, first on the bedroom ceiling, then on the computer monitor, and finally on the French doors from the living room to the deck. “I saw the last pair of eyes myself. They were staring right at us, then they quickly disappeared. Marge and I thought maybe one of you was trying to contact her, that maybe you were in trouble. We also considered the possibility that her Arrogant One was up to some mischief. Either way, the longer you were gone on your trip, the more worried she became.”

“It was not the Arrogant One.”Bounty Hunter, Dragon, Miles

Dragon and Miles both jumped at the sound of a new voice. The Bounty Hunter was leaning against the railing, just a few steps behind Dragon, studying his fingernails. “The elf was enjoying the trip too much to engage in such antics. And, to the best of my knowledge, none of us were trying to contact Mistress Writer. We had no reason.”

Dragon locked eyes with the other character for a few moments, but the Bounty Hunter seemed unperturbed. Finally, the big beast turned away from the man and looked around. “Where is Mistress Writer?”

Miles shrugged. “She’s not here today. She received an invitation to an afternoon tea at that New Age store.”

Dragon’s eyes narrowed. “Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store?”

Chris-Tal Clear

Miles nodded.

The giant reptile growled. “I am so disappointed I did not receive an invitation from Christine and Talia as well. I guess I am just going to have to . . . what is the phrase you use? Crash the party?”

And she was gone.

* * *

I screamed and pointed.

As my legs turned to rubber, Crawford and Griff grabbed a nearby chair and positioned it for me to collapse onto it.

Christine and Talia whirled around to see what was causing my hysteria. An ornate pair of eyes hovered in midair.More eyes

Talia seemed rooted in place. Her mouth moved, but no sound emerged. She seemed unable to do anything but stare into the huge eyes.

Christine was close to hyperventilating. She clutched her throat, and her eyes grew almost as large as the disembodied ones that were slowly disappearing. “That can’t be good!”

“No, it cannot!” Dragon, in her customary guise of an elf maiden, strode in, glaring at Christine and Talia.Dragon, Talia, Chris

* * *

Bounty Hunter full body 2Still . . . very still . . . silent and motionless . . . barely breathing . . . watching and listening, always watching and listening.

My skills, so necessary for my profession as bounty hunter, grow ever sharper. I knew the dull-witted human inhabitant of this world would never notice me as I crept up on him while he conversed, as I listened to every word of the exchange. I knew I would remain unnoticed, as if invisible, to that one. But imagine my surprise and my elation when the scaly beast also startled at the sound of my voice. It took every ounce of self-discipline and control to not grin like a fool, to remain nonchalant, as if I had no idea I had just snuck up on them unnoticed.

* * *

Eyes blinkedThe eyes blinked. Watching . . . watching . . . always watching. Yes! I must be watching! But I must be more careful. I have, more than once now, come too close to being exposed. But I will remain vigilant. I will discover their secrets . . . eventually.

 

Who is watching, and why? What does my Bounty Hunter know about it? And what is Christine and Talia’s involvement? Will Dragon be able to figure it all out? Be sure to come back next week. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Eye, Eye, Eye!

Eye, Eye, Eye!

“What’s going on?” Crawford’s eyes were almost as wide as mine, his breathing almost as rapid.

“I wish I knew.”

My two companions, Crawford and Griff, gaped at me, and I realized I was shaking like a leaf. My mouth was dry, and my hands were sweaty as the three of us huddled in the center of a large backroom in the Chris-Tal Clear Metaphysical Store. The afternoon tea to which we had been invited was set out and waiting for us on a nearby table; but as we had been looking around, wondering where our hostesses were, the repast was not all we had seen. On three sides of us, the walls were watching us.

The walls were watching

Well, not precisely. Something appeared to be watching us. The walls were covered with staring eyes.

Eyes have been watching meAs we continued to crowd together, shrinking from the gawking eyes, I quickly brought my companions up to speed. I explained how several times in the past few weeks I had felt as if someone or something had been watching me at my house. I described the appearance of pairs of eyes watching me from my bedroom ceiling, from my computer monitor, and from the French doors opening from my living room to the deck.

Griff protects usAs I detailed the terrifying incidents, I could see Griff starting to change. In short order, a griffin stood with Crawford and me, his wings extended protectively around us. His wicked beak snapped, his lionish tail whipped back and forth, and one taloned foreleg rose, claws extended threateningly.

Crawford slumped against the creature’s feathery shoulder. “It’s times like this when I really appreciate Griff’s abilities.” The man turned toward me as he spoke. “So, now what do we do?”

I shrugged. “I’m not sure. Each time I saw the eyes watching me at my house, they disappeared almost immediately after I had noticed them. These eyes don’t seem to be going anywhere.”

Crawford furrowed his brow and stroked his chin. “Do you think Christine and Talia are behind it?”Talia enters room

“Do you think Christine and Talia are behind what?”

Startled, I looked in the direction of the voice, which sounded simultaneously annoyed and amused. Talia, one of the co-managers of the store, was standing causally by an open door I had not previously noticed.

In response, I pointed at one of the walls. Then I blinked. The wall was devoid of any eyes. I looked at the other two walls, but they, too, looked completely normal.

afternoon tea

Talia gave me an arch look. “I repeat – do you think Christine and Talia are behind what?”

Griff2Griff took a few steps forward. I was startled. Just a moment ago, he had been in his true form, that of a griffon. Now, in the blink of an eye, he was back to his assumed identity of a very human-looking being.

“We were just wondering if you and Christine were behind this fantastic tea, or if you had it catered.”

Talia laughed a deep, throaty laugh. “What? Are you casting aspersions on our cooking? Didn’t we impress you with our culinary skills the last time we invited you and Crawford to a meal?”

Griff and Crawford grabbed their stomachs and pretended to gag.

”Oh, no, we were quite impressed by your cooking . . . as were the staff of the emergency room when we both showed up there the next day with food poisoning!” Crawford winked.

afternoon teaTalia laughed again. “Don’t listen to them, Marge. They’re just teasing. Christine made the food for the last meal we shared, a festive Yule nosh, and no one got sick.” She gestured toward the table with the offerings for today’s tea. “I prepared today’s spread, and I can assure you it’s perfectly fit for human consumption.”

I forced a smile, then glanced around at the walls again, looking for signs that we were still under observation.

“So, where is Christine?” Crawford looked around, too. “It’s not like her to be late to eat.”

“She was just finishing up in the office. We were doing inventory today.”

I turned back toward Talia. “Oh, that reminds me. When I got here, I tried the front door. When I found it locked, I looked in the window. What happened to your store? It looked totally trashed.”

Another deep, throaty laugh. “Oh, that’s just our security system. If it looks like the business is derelict, no one will bother trying to break in.”

“I see. And are disembodied eyes part of your security system?” I arched an eyebrow at the other woman.

“Disembodied eyes?”

Chris enters roomWe all turned toward the new voice, a thin, reedy voice that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Christine glided into the room, looking as dreamy and diaphanous as the first time I had met her. “What is this about disembodied eyes?”

My companions and I explained to Christine and Talia what we had seen here in the backroom of their store. I also detailed the recent incidents at my house. As I spoke, their eyes got wider and wider.

 

 

“Are you positive of what you saw?” Talia’s voice was strained.

“I’m sure.” I nodded.

“Well, that certainly can’t be good.” Christine chewed on her lower lip for a moment, then brightened and gestured toward the table. “Well, we can’t do anything about it now. Why don’t we enjoy our tea?”

Taking Marisol by the handBefore any of us could respond, Talia spoke. “Yes, I’m afraid our other guests cancelled at the last minute. We had invited Marisol and her mother here, too. This was going to be a sort of celebration for the child.”

“Wait! You know Bastina and Marisol?” I gaped at Talia. “When we came to you for help with the child, I suspected you knew of whom we spoke, but you never actually confirmed you already knew them.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/do-we-get-any-answers/

Talia shrugged. “Well, because we didn’t. We only met recently. Christine and I needed a new supplier for our herbs, so we checked out a few local places. When they were unable to supply what we needed, someone suggested the herb shop that Bastina and her sister, Danica, manage.”

Christine nodded. “While we were there, we met the child, Marisol. We immediately realized she was the one of whom you and Dray spoke when you asked for our help.”

Talia smiled at me warmly. “I have been working with Marisol, teaching her control. I was hesitant to take her as a pupil at her tender age, but she’s proven very insightful, and a quick study. Today was to be a congratulatory fete for her, as well as a thank-you to you for alerting us to her problem. Crawford and Griff were invited as a thank-you to them for sending you to us.”

I wrinkled my brow. “I’m sorry Marisol and her mom weren’t able to come, then. But what of Dray? I don’t believe she received an invitation.”

“Oh, didn’t Dray get her invitation?” Christine frowned. “It must have gotten lost in the mail. But you should have brought her with you. You must have realized we would have invited her.”More eyes

I narrowed my eyes and tried to gauge the woman’s sincerity. Gradually, I realized something else was studying Christine as well. A huge, ornate pair of eyes was slowly materializing in mid-air behind her and Talia.

I screamed.

 

 

What is going on? Will I ever find out? Be sure to come back again next week and see if any answers are forthcoming. We’ll leave the porch lights on for you.