The Accidental Familiar – Chapter 4


People are afraid of Thing That Go Bump in the Night. I’ve never understood that. If something goes “bump” in the night, it’s either clumsy (and getting away from it is easy) or it wants you to know that it’s there (in which case it’s probably hoping that you’ll go away and not bother it).

Just because something lives in the night doesn’t make it bad after all. Lots of small and weak things use the night as their protection against the bigger, scarier things that prowl around in the light. Generally the more obvious something is, the less that it has to hide, the more terrified you should be of it in my experience.

“But that would mean that normal people would be the most terrifying thing on the planet,” Penny said.

“My witch is a smart witch,” I said.

“Normal people are the scariest things out there?” Rosie asked. “But we’re so squishy and breakable.”

“Elves, dragons and goblins seem to agree with me,” I said. “Every species out there with magical powers uses them, primarily, to hide from regular humans.”

“Goblins use our abilities to hide from everyone,” Betty said, “But September’s right. Regular humans are not something that’s wise to mess with.”

“Why?” Penny asked. “I’m pretty sure there are things out there that could turn me into pudding without blinking an eye.”

“Leaving aside that human are more resilient than they have any right to be, there’s the problem of dealing with the other humans and the other magical people out there if you start targeting humans for your daily pudding snacks,” Betty said.

“What, like the Salem Witch Trials?” Penny asked.

“From what I’ve read, those didn’t have anything to do with witches,” Betty said. “The last time humans really had to pay attention to magic existing in the world was about ten thousand years ago.”

“That was before recorded history then wasn’t it?” Rosie asked.

“Recorded human history,” Betty said. “Dragon history goes back farther, but it’s a bit biased from what I gather.”

“So what happened then?” Penny asked.

“Some idiots made the mistake of angering the pre-history humans enough that the humans banded together,” Betty said. “Grandma Apples has mentioned how the spirit worlds allow more kinds of magic and for magic to work more obviously right? Well, apparently, this world used to be like that too. And the humans got tired of it. So they smashed it.”

“Smashed what?” Rosie asked.

“The world. Magic. Everything,” Betty said. “And these were your primitive ancestors. I think the general consensus is that if someone ticks off the humans again, we’re going to wind up in test tubes or working in sweatshops or being burned as a replacement for gasoline.”

“I thought magic protected itself though?” Penny said.

“It does now, to an extent,” Betty said. “But everything’s got its limits, and magic usually has really blatant ones.”

“I think we’re getting a little off topic,” Rosie said. “Humans may be scary, but does that mean we’re scary enough to go check out whatever September heard in the basement?”
“I think we should,” Penny’s Seeming said. “This is our house. We’ve got protections on it. If we can’t feel safe here then we need to pack it up and ask Grandma Apples is she has a spare bunk for us to sleep in.”

“I’m with Shiny,” Penny’s Shadow said. “Better to get a jump on something now than let it get the jump on us later.”

“Should we tell Penny’s Dad?” Rosie asked.

“I already did,” I said.

“Oh my god!” Penny said. “He could be in danger!”

Before I could explain that he’d proceeded downstairs with the proper safety precautions, Penny was off of her bed and sprinting out of the door to her room.

“We should followher ,” Rosie said. Becoming an Enchanter hadn’t allowed her to cure her paralysis but it had given her new options for dealing with it. On streams of air controlled by the spirits bound to a feather that was embroidered on a hand fan she carried, Rosie literally flew after Penny, followed quickly by Penny’s Seeming, Shadow, Betty and then me.

In my defense I have short little legs and while I may be easily capable of running faster than any of them, I didn’t want to.

In the basement we found Penny’s father observing a half height window that lay at ground level. The lights in the basement were fully on and he was armed with a baseball bat made of nice, solid ash.

“Dad!” Penny said. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine, puzzled, but fine,” he said. “What do you think this one’s trying to do?”

He gestured to window and I saw a blur of motion followed by a soft “whump”.

“Something’s trying to get in here?” Rosie asked.

“Not something, someone,” Shadow said. “It looks like the spell circle you put in place is holding up just fine though.”

“Can you people see what it is?” Betty asked. “The wards on this place are opaque to me.”

“It’s fast whatever it is,” Seeming said. “And it’s very determined to get in here.”

“I’m going to assume it’s not a rabid badger,” Penny’s Dad said. “But I think I’m going to treat it like one. If it shows any signs of getting through, we’ll keep it trapped down here in the basement. Otherwise I’ll call Inspector Brooks or animal control tomorrow morning.”

“What if they’re in trouble though?” Penny asked.

“They they can learn to knock,” Penny’s Dad said. “The last thing we need is to literally invite trouble into our house.”

I knew I liked Penny’s Dad for a reason.

“We have better options anyways,” Penny’s Shadow said and slipped back up the stairs.

“She’s going out to talk to it, isn’t she?” Rosie asked.

“You know me so well,” Penny said.

A moment later the soft “thumping” on the downstairs window ceased. A few minutes after that Shadow reappeared among us.

“Who was out there?” Penny asked. “What were they looking for?”

“They’re looking for you,” Shadow said. “But now that I’ve talked with them, they want to speak with September.”

“The scary thing that’s going bump in the night wants to talk to me?” I asked. I made a note to review my policy on things it was okay to be afraid of.

“She’s not that scary,” Shadow said. “And she claims to be your mother.”