Chapter 8
Mail-Order Nick-Nack

Vigau, Arielle, Bonaventure

Gally was busy washing the dishes from breakfast when there was a knock at the door. Before she could get there, Giger had already answered it. The young man at the door was fairly nondescript, carrying a small parcel.
"Master Taus?" the young man asked.
"Yes," Giger replied curtly.
The young man, a deliveryman apparently, offered him the parcel.
"The item you requested."
Giger accepted the package, took a couple notes out of his wallet and handed them to the deliveryman.
"Here you go. Keep the change."
The deliveryman tipped his cap and bobbed his head appreciatively.
"Always a pleasure, sir."
Once the door was closed, Prissy hopped down from the rafters and asked him, "What ya got this time, Giger?"
Giger ignored her and went over to the reading desk and sat down. Prissy persisted.
"Hey, Giger, what'd ya get?"
Giger's attention was entirely fixed on the little parcel. Closing his eyes, his hand hovered over it for a few moments. While he was doing that, this time Yugo decided to speak up.
Giger opened his eyes. Still not saying anything, he opened the parcel and carefully slid the contents out on the desk. Inside the parcel were two smaller bundles, one somewhat blockish and the other more like a tube. He untied the tube-shaped bundle first and carefully peeled open the paper to reveal what looked like a piece of clear quartz.
"What is it, Master?" Yugo asked.
Finally, Giger actually answered.
"I've been hearing rumors about these things called Witch Crystals. Apparently they're getting popular with the kids. They say that if you hold the crystal and it glows, you have the potential to be a witch. It could just be some simple trick, but if it's legitimate, it could be a problem."
"What do you mean?" Gally asked.
"Weren't you supposed to be doing the dishes?"
"They'll still be there when you get done explaining what that thing is," Gally replied.
"You see what I put up with?" Giger said to Yugo. "Anyway, the crystal is just the start. I couldn't sense any curses or traps to it, so now we just have to test it out."
Giger took the crystal into his bare hand and it glowed a bright, deep blue. He then offered it to Yugo, saying, "Give it a try."
Yugo took the crystal and it glowed a dimmer orange for him. Giger watched the reaction intently and then nodded to Gally.
"Let her hold it."
Yugo handed the crystal to Gally, saying, "Here you go, Miss Gally. Oh, and by the way, the new glasses look quite fetching."
"Thank you, Yugo," she replied.
"She's going to get a big head if you keep laying it on like that," Giger said.
Though she'd learned to ignore Giger's barbs, they could not very well go unanswered. Gally stuck out her tongue at him as she accepted the crystal. When the crystal passed from Yugo's hand to Gally's, it misted over.
"What does that mean?" she asked.
Giger took the crystal from her and it started glowing again.
"It means that you don't have any magic ability or any potential for it either," he said. "I had my doubts at first, but this seems to be the real deal." He set the crystal back down on the paper and continued, "It works on a similar principle as the detectors, only much more sensitive."
"But didn't you say that it's easy to tell when people can use magic?" Gally asked.
"For trained mages, yes."
"Can't anyone tell people with weird hair like yours can use magic?"
Giger seemed to take offense at Gally describing his hair as 'weird'.
"Only about one in three people with magic potential manifest it physically in things like their eye and hair color. Then you have people who dye their hair, which makes it more difficult to spot."
"Okay, but why are these things a problem?"
Giger started to unwrap the blockish bundle and said, "They're problem because they lead to this."
He pulled out a little book from the wrapping and thumbed through a few pages.
"It's a pocket grimoire," he said. "You'd see them at the Academy sometimes. Supposedly battlemages like them because they're easy to carry." He thumbed through a few more pages. "I'll have to study this more, but the formulas look accurate. This is all pretty easy stuff that doesn't take much training to do."
"You said they were popular with children," Yugo said.
"That's right. Children dabbling with magic without the supervision of master mages. It's a recipe for disaster."
"The Witch-hunters..."
"Will come down hard on any kids playing with this stuff, but there are only so many Witch-hunters around. The bigger problem is what happens when these kids start experimenting with magic they can't control. If whoever's behind this starts distributing pocket grimoires with higher-level spells..."
"What do we do?" Yugo asked.
"We don't do anything," Giger said bluntly. "You're not nearly equipped for dealing with something like this."
"There's got to be something I can do."
Giger shrugged.
"Keep an eye and an ear out, I guess, but don't get involved if something comes up. Your skills won't save you from a rogue mage and your family connections won't save you from the Witch-hunters. Are we clear?"
Yugo seemed uncertain, which prompted Giger to repeat himself.
"Are we clear?"
"Yes, Master."
Giger then eyes Gally and said, "Those dishes aren't going to wash themselves."
"I'm sure they could if you wanted them to."
Giger said nothing.
"Fine," Gally said. "I know, 'Back to work, back to work.'"
She returned to the kitchen and resumed washing the dishes. While she was doing that, she thought about what she had just learned. She had a bad feeling that something big was happening and they were bound to get caught up in it.