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Summer 2020 

 

The Cahill family was in southern California today, having had their regular campaign season Sunday service in a silvery crystal cathedral that towered three times as high as any of the buildings in the small Oklahoma town where Judith Claudia Cahill had been born. She'd closed her eyes at the right moments and prayed the right prayers, but Jesus and the Holy Spirit had seemed terribly far away. She'd picked a fight with her sisters, something easier now that they were all stuck together again for the first time in nearly four years, and won the freedom to sulk in her room instead of joining the family for dinner. So she lay on her bed and listened to the news outside without having to turn on her television, then after a moment's consideration she took out her phone and texted Arcane. 

 

Hey Abby. :) Can you FaceTime? 

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👋 Sure, give me 5 minutes.

 

Abigail Storm was at her Father's—no her—Brownstone home, doing some "light" reading.  Truth was though she'd stopped the actual reading a few hours ago and was just absently drawing in her sketchbook while her mind wandered.  With a sigh, she stood from her desk and grabbed her phone, pausing as she got up and looked at what she had drawn.  It was the silhouette of a figure, neither man nor woman, with an inhuman head and who's entire body was as if a field of stars.

 

She frowned, brow furrowed in thought, before shoving it out of her mind and padding out to her back porch and away from whatever that was.

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Judy was laying back, her head against an elaborately crocheted pillow with a half-visible message covered by her hair. Not that there was much of it - it looked like over the summer she had hacked off most of her very long, raven-black hair and replaced it with a shoulder-length bob closer to how her sister typically looked. It definitely wasn't pink, though. "Hey girlfriend" she said with a smile. "How's your summer? Mine's been...busy," she said with a nervous laugh. "But it's just me in the hotel today, so Ah thought Ah'd give mah favorite, uh, magic-person a call." Abby had heard about Judy and Leroy's breakup right before everyone left for the summer. Most everyone had. 

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Abigail had released her phone as she made her way outside, a tiny spark of magic keeping it floating nearby and keeping the camera in frame.  She settled into a chair, and paused briefly to listen to the crickets before answering.

 

"My summer is.. complicated," Abigail said carefully.  "There was more to being Mistress of this house than I realized.  Truly I don't know how my fath-how Eldritch managed this.  Then there's deciding on whether I return to Claremont or drop out."

 

She paused a moment, squinted at the screen that showed Judy laying back, and then gave the other girl a warm smile.  "Like what you did with your hair, by the way.  Stylish and practical."

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"Thank you," said Judy with a warm smile. "Ah did it myself from a Youtube tutorial - of course Ah had a little help cleaning it up afterwards." She gave Abby a tight smile. Despite the story Abby had heard about Judy's origins, the girl was usually pretty close-lipped about where she went and what she did with her sister during summer break. "Dropping out, huh? So is there like a Harry Potter school somewhere, or..." Her tone had been light, but she trailed off uncertainly before she admitted, "Ah, uh, don't really know anything about magic. Ah just assumed there was some kind of private school for witches, er girl-wizards, somewhere." She frowned briefly, then admitted, "That's actually, ah, one of the reasons Ah called today, besides just catching up." She sat up in bed and moved around until she was sitting at some kind of desk, obviously propping her phone up in front of her. Behind her Abby could see floofy, flowery curtains over a drawn shade. 

"Ah'm sorry if this is a personal question, but ah know you said you aren't a witch professionally, but are you somebody whose....ah, religion is a witch? Or is being magic a thing you're learning how to do?" 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Abigail shook her head, but her expression turned thoughtful.

 

"I'm not a religious person," she confided after a moment.  "My mother has a few, um, cultist types in this realm that sours the whole enterprise for me."  She paused, realized what she said and made a placating gesture that she realized, too late, was out of view of the camera.  "Not that all religions are cults, just... I hope you get my meaning."

 

"As far as learning magic, truth is there isn't much I need to learn.  I've been using it to live and survive almost my entire life."  She sighed, and then gave Judy a faint smile.  "Mostly I've been learning how and when to not use magic."

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Judy smiled thinly. "It's okay, Abby," she said gently, "if Ah bit the head off everyone I know at Claremont who wasn't a Christian, Ah'd be..." She considered a moment, obviously adding up in her head. "Well Ah'd be biting off a lot of heads, and that's no way to make friends." Her smile broadened as she said, "Ah actually wanted to ask you something about magic, and it sounds like you're definitely the right person." She shifted in her chair, obviously considering something, before she said, "Are the stars magic? Ah mean, not like how they work or anything, obviously, but...you know?" 

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  • 3 weeks later...

"So, stars aren't inherently magical," Abby started.  "But they, like nearly every other object, can influence it especially when you consider the great age of the stars and how that affects the tapestry of everything."

 

"Of course," she continued, "if star itself is conscious or even just mere sentience, it is capable of utilizing magic.  I mean, that's the basic criteria of magic and it can be taught to anyone."

 

"However, how well one can use magic depends on a lot of variables and I'm kind of rambling, but if you ever want to get into the theory of this, and maybe learn a little yourself..."

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Judy blinked a few times, not looking put off so much as surprised. "Well that is very kind, Abby," she said, "but Ah do not think mah personal spiritual beliefs are compatible with, uh, magic." She colored beneath her dark complexion, chewing her lip, and added, "Ah'm sorry," she admitted, "Ah don't know if that sounded bad." She looked away nervously, then said, "Ah, uh, Ah was calling you because lately Ah've been...well Ah've been hearing things. From the stars. And Ah wanted to ask you if you thought that might be...magic?" she hazarded. "Ah don't really know what they're saying, but..." She looked over at that window and whispered "but Ah can hear them." 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Abby rolled her shoulder in a slight shrug.

 

"You'd be surprised," she said, "Ritual magic is used fairly often by religions, and is easier to perform by those with undeveloped talent.  Think of it as cloud computing, spreading out the load, but.. you know.. magic."

 

"As for the stars," she continued, "some of them could be talking, or they could be acting as a relay for something else that's speaking.  Stars are unfathomably old, and that sort of presence has a profound influence upon the tapestry of reality."

 

Her lips twisted into a tiny frown, but it was gone quickly.  "There are certain things in this Realm that I can't hear, being that I come from outside."  She hesitated, then asked, "What are they saying?"

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"I can't make out any words," Judy admitted, "just the meaning. They sound like..." She looked up at the window again, almost out of Abby's view, and raised a hand that was glowing a faintly iridescent rainbow light. "They sound like they're calling to me..." She shook her hand, quickly, as if to banish the light glowing from her fingers, and said, "Ah...ah know that sounds crazy, but that's what it sounds like." She looked into the camera, shifted a bit, then said, "Ah don't know if it's them, or something speaking through them, or what - they just...they just sound like they're talking, and they're calling to me. T-to join them." 

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