Chapter 7: Deliverance – part 13
Giovanni squeezed a few more drops of blood from the shallow cut across his palm. The miniature tempest swirling before him lapped up the dark fluid before it could hit the floor of his Matron’s office. A half hour of feeding the spirit was taking its toll. Gio bit the inside of his lip again to stay conscious. He wouldn’t fail his Matron.
“I bet the old fool forgot,” Chairman Butler sneered from the far side of the room. He and Matron Carlyle had been conversing in the less formal meeting area of her suite. The snippets of conversation Gio had overheard were fascinating, if sometimes chilling. His Matron and Butler were two of the three running Triptych for good reason.
Out of the corner of his eye Gio saw Matron Carlyle shift in her seat. “You’re a fool to say such things aloud.”
Gio turned his head a fraction of an inch to see how Butler took the chiding. The dark-skinned man sniffed, his delicate features twisted into a scowl. He slouched back in his armchair. “Almeida wouldn’t dare bug this place. Or mine. So unless you have a mole–” Butler’s green eyes caught Gio’s. Gio froze, praying the Chairman wouldn’t rebuke him.
The Matron’s cool, clipped voice eased Gio’s fears. “Relax, Simon. Mattioni is bound to me. He’s served me well.” She rewarded Gio with a smile. He returned it, then fed the spirit once more.
The door chime sounded. “Finally,” Butler drawled. He and Matron Carlyle stood, and the latter moved to the door. Gio felt the tingle of magic as she removed the wards.
The door opened, and Gio blinked at the bulky, broad-shouldered blond man who entered. The Nordic-looking man seemed too young to be a Chairman. He swept his gaze over the room, then nodded at the Matron and Butler. He stepped aside, revealing a old man with dusky skin and a few wisps of white hair. The data pad in the elderly man’s hand held his attention. His suit, although well-tailored, hung on his rail-thin frame. The door slid shut behind him.
“Good evening, Dr. Almeida,” Matron Carlyle prompted.
Dr. Almeida’s bony fingers danced over the data pad.
Butler sighed. “So good of you to join us, Dr. Almeida,” he shouted.
“Yes, it is,” Almeida murmured, still studying the hand-held device. Gio couldn’t quite place his light accent. Spanish or Portuguese. “In the middle of a trial,” the old man added. “Very delicate.” His sharp, dark eyes snapped up and fixed on Butler. “But this is important.” Almeida’s gaze moved to the Matron. Gio fought back the urge to leap to her defense. “Why didn’t it work?”
Matron Carlyle’s expression soured for a split second. In her usual unflappable tone she replied, “For the reason I cited when we last met.” She glanced at Butler, then gestured at the comfortable chairs in the meeting area. “Shall we sit?”
“No,” the old man snapped. “They’re in love?” He turned to Butler.
“The beginnings of love, as best I can tell,” Butler stated. Almeida raised an eyebrow. “Both are psychic. Harris is particularly strong. She’ll know if I probe further.”
Almeida tsked. “Ridiculous.” Butler tensed. “Not you,” the elderly man scoffed. “Myers and Harris. Confusing hormones for a relationship.”
“Perhaps they’re not.” His Matron’s words made Gio inwardly smile. Her colleagues may be powerful, but she was also wise. “Love is more than a relationship. It is a powerful entity.”
Chairman Butler sniffed. “It’s an emotion, pure and simple. In this case, potent enough to counteract Sophia’s spell.”
Almeida eyed the Matron. “The one meant to antagonize them?”
“To amplify their aggression and irritability, yes,” Matron Carlyle confirmed. “It would have worked if they were not in love. And the child is not helping.”
Almeida frowned, then returned his attention to his data pad. “Why attempt another spell?” he asked as he prodded the device.
“This isn’t a spell,” the Matron explained. “I’ve appealed to Rudra, the Rigvedic–”
“I don’t care what you’ve ‘appealed to,'” Almeida grumbled. “Probability of success?”
Matron Carlyle scowled at the elder Chairman, then smoothed her features. “Ninety-five percent.”
The old man shook his head at the data pad, then looked up at Butler and the Matron. “Plans are in place for the remaining five percent?” The other two Chairmen nodded. “Bothersome that the child requires both parents.”
“It is,” Butler agreed, “but we knew of this stipulation from the start.”
Cold shot through Gio’s hand. The spirit-tempest snaked around his palm, impatient. Gio formed a fist to satisfy the thing. It drank, and Gio’s head swam. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to remain conscious.
A hand pressed against Gio’s back, flooding him with warmth and clearing his head. He smiled at his Matron standing beside him. “You’ve done well, Giovanni.” She extended one hand toward the tempest. A clear glass vial sat on her palm. The Matron whispered words that sounded vaguely like Hindi. Lightening flashed in the tiny storm as it twined into the vial.
Matron Carlyle screwed a cap on to the vial’s mouth. “Seal it,” she ordered. Gio closed his injured fist around the glass container, smearing it with blood. “Excellent. Now rest. I’ll tend to your wound soon.”
Gio nodded. He sank to the carpeted floor as his Matron strode away with the captured spirit. Although he didn’t feel as if he would pass out at any moment, sleep beckoned.
“–curious,” Chairman Almeida remarked as Gio’s eyes closed. “I’ll see it gets to the targets.”
“Not your concern, boy.” Gio imagined Butler’s pout from the older man’s scolding. Almeida continued, “I’ll be in touch.” The door swished open. Almeida’s and his bodyguard’s carpet-muffled footfalls retreated.
“That’s that, then,” Butler drawled. “I almost hope it doesn’t work. Separating Harris and Myers could be fun.”
The Matron laughed mirthlessly. “If that’s the case, I’ll leave you to it. I don’t want to be caught in the crossfire.”
“Your magic won’t keep you safe?”
Gio ground his teeth, but kept quiet. Matron Carlyle coolly replied, “You underestimate Eros.”
“Of course,” Butler snarked. “I suppose I’ll go study up on the Greek pantheon.”
“You do that, Simon.”
The energy in the room shifted. Gio presumed the arrogant psychic had teleported away. Good riddance.