Scream of the Butterfly
By: T.G. Browning
17: Final Pieces
Kevin glanced over and then shrugged as he plugged the coffee maker in. “Well, I think I understand enough now to make some guesses. I assume the alchemical text you discovered had to do with summoning elementals? Is that true?”
“Beats me. I didn’t pry that far. I was merely interested in the process itself.”
“Were either of the following symbols involved?” Kevin sat down and drew two runes, Kenaz and Hagalaz.
Sam regarded the two runes carefully and shook his head. “I’m not sure. I think they were but I’m not certain. There were a lot of different, weird things in those old texts.”
“You still have a copy of them?”
“I should, unless they were stolen with the rest of the stuff — wait a minute; I scanned the most important stuff in to make sure I didn’t lose it. I know I have that, in back-ups if nowhere else.”
Kevin nodded. “Okay, see if you can dig that out. But in the mean time, I’m going to assume that they were. It’s the only thing that makes sense.” With that, Kevin stood up and began pacing, his arms crossed behind his back as he tried to work the remaining kinks out of his lower spine. “What I think happened was this. You must have excited some interest among some of the elementals when you first started poking around with those alchemical texts. Now, there’s quite a range of elementals that would have been interested, but the ones that would have been most excited would have been the earth elementals. I don’t normally deal with them or I might have heard something before I even came on board.
“As it is it, you didn’t know enough to recognize the dangers or perceive where they might come from. All you knew was that you were having some weird events and got spooked. It’s damn gutsy of you to have taken that intellectual leap, Sam. Not that many people would have been able to open themselves up to such things. I know how hard it is to make that leap myself. It almost got me thrown out of college.
“But, as I said, you were sharp and decided to cover all the bases and hired us. You should have let us know at that point, but that’s neither here nor there, now.
“My best guess is that there’s an industrial consortium that been working with elementals of a number of types on extracting the same sort of information from old text. It seems to be based out of Hong Kong but has some of its roots in Bangkok. That’s where the magical training appears to come from. From what I’ve been able to learn, they were nowhere near as far along as you were but had better connections to the magical side of the coin than you did. That gave them an edge, if you will, in industrial intelligence. They knew about you fairly early, I’d guess.
Kevin stopped, checked the coffee and then poured himself some. Dawson had sat through all of Kevin’s speech without stirring, his mouth half-open and an almost comical look of perplexity on his face. He still didn’t truly believe, but Kev would fix that in a moment.
“Here’s what happened, as near as I can tell. You got to a certain point, achieved something absolutely new I gather, and it was entirely new from a magical point of view. The first break-in went pretty much as the consortium expected and wanted, up to a point. That point was when the low-level earth elemental they had as a bird-dog identified something that was revolutionary, from an elemental’s point of view. Your new doping process apparently produced material that was highly attractive to it, far more so than anything elementals are ever exposed to. It got out of control and the burglars more or less had to pull back to figure out what was going on.
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