Investigation and Magic Diffusal

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Sir Doobington III Esq., Aug 12, 2016.

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  1. "Come on, keep moving."

    The guard walking along behind her verbally pushed her every time her pace slowed down. His voice had a slight muffle to it because of the mask he wore and his equipment knocked quietly as he walked. Both of the guards behind her wore face masks and a pair of tactical goggles that made them completely faceless. It's how all guards within Anomalous Control and Containment dressed. Full combat dress, complete with the ammunition vest and helmet; each and every one of them ready to go the instant something went wrong; and of course, there was always something over the face. Sometimes a gas mask, sometimes goggles and a ski mask. It made them intimidating, but it also turned them into drones in the eyes of everyone who saw them. They all looked the same except for the slight differences in height and weight. And the name tags of course. But having your last name on your chest hardly makes you stand out.

    "Come on."

    These two were on edge. They were trained to be. Paranoia was the number one survival skill in the ACC and the sole reason it was practiced so rigorously was due to the simple fact that it worked. When you expect everything to go wrong, you're a little better prepared for when it finally does. And in the ACC, there's a lot that can go wrong. There was also the fact that they were escorting the very thing they'd been trained to shoot and had been told since day one not to trust. The two of them could come up with a million things that could go wrong between here and the next ten steps in the hallway. Thankfully, the next ten paces were uneventful and kind enough to bring them to their destination. A pair of wooden double doors set in the surgical white of the ACC hallway.

    The wooden double doors looked incredibly out of place. Most of Site B-06's buildings had a white, sterile look to them. It was the kind of place that made you feel like you were constantly under a microscope. The administration building particularly so, with its white tiled floors, white fluorescent lights, and lack of windows. A pair of rich, brown doors were a sight for sore eyes. A small bronze plaque besides them read, "Library". Underneath it, someone had left a note in neat, curled handwriting,
    "Do not disturb."

    The guards approached the place like they were approaching a dragon's cave. The dragon in mind being 5'8", thin, slightly addicted to caffeine, and dependent on spectacles. But no less for bite. They knocked first. The door opened and a suit of armor greeted them.

    Its voice sounded hollow, as if the words were being bounced around a few times within the plate armor before finally finding their way out through the gaps between the gleaming plates,
    "Hello, lady and gentlemen. I am afraid Dr. Thurmwood is terribly busy at the moment and is not taking visitors."

    The guards had heard about the suit of armor, but only one of them had actually seen t before, "This is about, uhh, Subject 433. We're supposed to leave her here."

    Subject 433. That was her name as far as the paperwork and protocols of the ACC were concerned. Here, you were either a staff member... or a Subject. An object, a curiosity, something to be studied or at the very least kept in containment.

    The suit of armor raised a finger, as if recalling a vital fact. Its voice had an oddly cheerful tone to it, "Ah yes, the transfer. Very well, I will take things from here. Thank you, gentlemen. Right this way Ms. 433."

    The guards didn't leave until she was inside. Only when the doors closed shut did they begin to walk back towards their stations, satisfied that whatever this had been, it was someone else's problem now.

    The suit of armor led her through a small wooden hallway as rich and brown as the double doors.
    "I am afraid you will have to wait before meeting Dr. Thurmwood. He is in the middle of something quite important and is not willing to see visitors yet. However, perhaps he has finished. We will check on him."

    They arrived at another set of doors. Beyond them was perhaps one of the most... interesting, rooms in the entire facility. The library of one Dr. Alistair Thurmwood held more than just books. While bookshelves upon bookshelves held countless volumes on everything from simple history books to encyclopedias of obscure subjects, and even tomes that looked arcane in nature (many of which were protected by a locked guard rail set in front of the shelf to keep wandering fingers from reading them). Among them were objects of all origins and uses. They varied, some seemingly tame and others appearing quite strange. And they were everywhere. A strange statue on the bookshelf, a globe of a place that wasn't anywhere in this world, a mirror that reflected nothing.

    And coffee cups. Coffee cups everywhere, some empty, some with cold coffee still in them. The tables in the library were also full of signs that someone was reading and studying here. A pile of books on a table, with a notepad in front of them, odd symbols and runes on the notepad; and of course, a cup of coffee. Two piles of scrolls set on either side of a single open scroll with scribblings in the same neat handwriting as the note out front; accompanied, of course, by a pair of coffee cups. Blackboards with pieces of chalk that have been worked down into stubs, their green surfaces covered in everything from diagrams of living things, to geometric designs of some kind, to long mathematical formulas stretching across several of them. And near them, more coffee cups.

    As the two walked by a typewriter set in a display case, it typed away as Lilika came close and stopped when she got too far. Its page was already littered with half-finished sentences, and it added hers at the end.

    'There has never been a year quite like Whenever I found myself alone, I always did well to Her eyes were always tired, but never Now that I think of it, I've never been to ice skating, though now I find that Too often I hated those bright spring mornings, they were too I remember it was summer,"

    It quickly became apparent. The typewriter typed out memories. Random memories pulled from the head of whoever happened to come near. Most of these belonged to the sole resident, typed and never finished as he walked by, never standing around it long enough for it to finish anything more than part of a sentence. The most recent addition, however, had been hers. 'I remember it was summer,' Another fact became apparent. Some of the objects in here were magic in nature. On a desk nearby, a metal top, much like a child's toy spun, and spun, and intended to keep spinning; guided by some magical mechanism. The suit of armor itself clearly held no one inside, and seemed to emanate an aura of magic. Things that someone like her would be detained for were just out in the open, doing what they did. They were artifacts; tame and safe artifacts, but still artifacts. The entire library looked like something out of a fairy tale. One of the warmest, most interesting libraries in the world; crammed inside the cold and sterile ACC Site B-06, Building A-01.

    The suit of armor picked up stray books as it walked, taking one from a stool here, picking one up from the window sill there, and off the stair railings as they walked up to the library's second floor. This floor was a lot like the first one, just as full of books, scrolls, and objects. By the time they made it to the top, the suit had an armload of books in its arms. Every so often it would stop and put one back in its place on the shelves, then resume guiding her. As they walked, it introduced itself in its perpetually gentle, if hollow, voice,

    "You are Dr. Thurmwood's new assistant, correct? I am Archimedes, though most refer to me as Archie. I was created to help around the library and keep everything in order. It is nice to meet you. Ah, the doctor is right this way."

    The smell of earth flooded her nostrils as they came to a door set in the library's wall. They had passed many doors like this, each of them closed. This particular door had a bronze plaque not unlike the one that had been at the entrance. It read, 'APTH'. The earthy scent came from within, mixed with a hundred other scents. The smell grew stronger as Archimedes opened the door with the one arm it could spare from the weight of the books.

    "Doctor, your assistant has arrived."

    The room was an apothecary of some kind. Rows and rows of drawers ran along the wall, each with a small brown label with the name of some ingredient or material. Beyond them, a table held what looked like a modern chemistry lab. Beakers, tubes, burners. When one thinks alchemy, the image of cauldrons and potions come to mind. Here, however, it was done in flasks and glass beakers. A thin, formally dressed man hunched over the table. His hands wore blue, rubber gloves; the kind a surgeon would use, and held down a small brown object while he cut pieces of it away with a knife. At Archimedes' announcement, he paused,

    "What did I say about visitors?"

    "That you did not want to-"

    "That I didn't want to see them. Out. Now."

    Archimedes closed the door and turned to her. His tone never dropped the cheerful formality,

    "I apologize. The doctor does not like being interrupted. His work is very important. Please wait here. I will fetch you something to drink."

    Archimedes pulled a chair from a study desk and gestured for her to sit. He left, his clanking steps fading away as he moved downstairs, pausing only to replace a book here and there. He hadn't been gone very long when the apothecary door creaked open. Alistair Thurmwood looked unhappy. He almost always looked unhappy and he had no reason to stop as he stripped the rubber gloves off with a snap. But most of all, he looked tired. There were dark shadows under his eyes, each of them telling the story of sleepless night after sleepless night.

    Archie returned, carrying a tea tray. Alistair handed him the rubber the gloves as soon as he set the tray down, leaving it to him to dispose of them. Alistair took a seat across from her, removed his glasses, and rubbed his eyes with his fingers.

    "Lilika Pyralis, correct?"

    He put his glasses back on and nodded towards the tea tray. Two cups, a steaming pot, tiny pitchers of cream and milk, and a bowl of sugar,

    "Go on then. He can't take it personally, but it's a shame to waste Archimedes' tea."

    He took a cup for himself and spooned milk and sugar into it. He liked his tea sweet.

    "So, Lilika Pyralis. Do you know what you're even doing here? More importantly, why is it that you or whoever sent you here thought your presence would be of use to me in any way whatsoever. Hm?"

    He raised his eyebrows at her from behind his cup.
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  2. She sat on the edge of her modest bed, surrounded by blank white walls with no window and no real indication that anyone actually lived in the room aside from a few personal items she had been allowed to keep when she’d come to the ACC’s Site B. Coming here hadn’t been her idea, the choice had been made for her by her parents in exchange for their peaceful surrender. Alexandra and Darius Pyralis were extremely powerful magic users, but they were also practical. When it had become apparent that the ACC was closing in on their location, they had decided to make a bargain instead of continue running. In exchange for their surrender, their daughter, Lilika, was to be moved to Site B and assigned to help the ACC in any way she possibility could. They did this ensure that she have at least some freedom, instead of being completely locked up for the rest of her life.

    Said daughter clenched her fists and bit back tears as the memory of her parents being taken away flashed into her mind. She would probably never see them again, but they have done what they could to give her the best life she could have now and she wasn’t going to let their sacrifice be in vain. A single knock on her door brought her out of her thoughts and she stood as the door opened. She stood in front of the imposingly dressed guards in a simple white sundress, her long white hair loose and flowing down her back. She inclined her head and moved out of her room at the guards order.

    As they walked down the hallway, Lilika wondered what this Dr. Thurmwood was like. All she had been told was that she was going to meet with him to see if they were a good match. As she became lost in her thoughts again, her pace faltered and one of the guards escorting her snapped at her to hurry up. She refrained from shooting a glare at him. In her short time here she had noticed that not only where the guards constantly on edge, in a state of readiness, but so were the other ‘residents’, if that’s what you would call them. It was almost as if they were just waiting for something to go wrong, and perhaps they were. Some of the other residents in Site B were powerful magic users that had struck some kind of deal with the ACC for what little freedoms they were allowed.

    Her green eyes causally studied the sterile hallways as she was lead to her final destination. After the seemingly endless white of the walls, the richly colored doors caused her to blink in surprise, the darker color much less harsh on ones eyes. The brass of the plaque caught her attention and her eyes flickered to read it as one of the guards knocked. When the door opened, she couldn’t help the surprised expression that flashed across her face. She had heard of rituals that could bring inanimate objects to life, but she had never been lucky enough to see one for herself. When the guard spoke, she bristled at being referred to as a number, but knew better
    than to voice her displeasure. Here she wasn’t Lilika Pyralis anymore, not to the people who held her. To them she was only a number, a thing to be studied and controlled, Subject 433.

    She moved forward at the insistence of the armor, jumping slightly when the door closed. She took a moment to glance behind her before she followed the suit of armor further into the library, her eyes moving around the room frantically, trying to take in as much as she could. The wooden walls of the hallway where a welcome change to the maddening white walls outside of the library, their deep color helping to smooth her mood somewhat. When the armor spoke to her again she couldn't help being surprised at its polite manners and tone. It was a welcome change from the way most spoke to here here. She nodded her understanding of his words as they passed through another set of doors, and her eyes widened in astonishment and disbelief.

    She could feel the magic radiating off some of the books and objects that littered the room. She had never seen so many books on the occult or magic
    in her life. Granted she wasn’t all that old, but she had grown up in the home of two very powerful magic users and even their own library couldn’t compare to what was in front of her. She was also taken aback by the volume of coffee cups that seemed to cover every surface. The man she was about to meet either never slept or slept very little and she wouldn’t have been surprised if he was a nervous wreck from caffeine intake alone. She resisted the urge to touch some of the stranger artifacts that she saw, their unique nature peaking her curiosity as she passed by them, but the thing that captured her attention the most was the self typing typewriter. She glanced at the words that the keys clicked out and her eyes widened when she realized that it was typing out memories, and she was a bit horrified to find that some of the words on the page where her own memories. She quickly moved past the enchanted tool, not wanting anymore of her private moments shared with the world.

    As she followed after the suit of armor she found herself become more and more on edge as she passed artifact after artifact. Had she or her parents been caught with any of the things in this room, there would have been no bargain,no negotiations. They all would have been through into a cell and the key thrown away. How was it fair that this Dr. Thurmwood was permitted to have these things? Was it because he was not a born magic users, or because he was studying them? That still didn’t make it fair. If he had been the one to enchant these things, or was able to control them, he was just as dangerous as any naturally born witch or Mage. The armor’s kind voice
    chased away her negative thoughts as it introduced itself. She wanted to tell it that it was a pleasure to meet it, but she would have been lying and Archie had been nothing but kind to her and she didn’t want to lie to him.

    A million smells assaulted her nose when Archie opened the door that a plaque identified as the apothecary. Some of them she recognized, others were completely foreign to her. It was then that she caught her first glimpse of the man named Dr. Thurmwood. He looked rather ordinary, if not completely focused on what he was doing. When Archie spoke, she could feel the annoyance roll off him at being interrupted. His voice was cold and unfeeling as he scolded the armor, who quickly retreated from the doorway with an apology then turned to her.

    She sat in the chair he retrieved for her and waited patiently for him to return with refreshments. She jumped slightly when the door to the apothecary cracked opened and an unhappy looking man stepped out. She was thankful that Archie returned with what smelled like tea soon after he appeared so that she wouldn’t have to face this man alone. When he asked her if she knew why she was here or why those who had sent her thought she could be of some use to him, she was at a kind of loss as what she should say. She wasn’t really sure herself why she was here. At his urging she made herself a cup of tea, adding a few drops of milk and three sugar cubes to the brown liquid and gave it a stir.

    “Yes, I’m Lilika. As to why I am here, I’m not entirely sure. I wasn’t told much when they came to speak to me. If I were to guess I would have to say that perhaps the ACC thinks my skills with tracking magic might prove useful to you.” She took a small sip of the steaming beverage in her cup and made of soft humming sound of approval. “Though I’m sure you’ve read my file and know all of this already, I am also skilled at protection fields, wards and minor healing magic. I'm not sure if any of that might be useful to you as you appear to be fairly fluent in things magical."
  3. Finished his cup and filled it a second time from the porcelain pot. The tea gurgled into the cup and he added the same amount of milk and sugar as he had to his first cup, matching his previous amounts almost precisely, hint at an ingrained desire for perfectionism. He interrupted her before she could finish speaking,

    "In other words, you have no clue what you're doing here. They could have sent you here to be my maid, and you'd have had no clue."

    He closed his eyes and took a sip from his cup. He didn't speak until the cup left his lips.

    "I'm happy to say you won't be my maid; Archimedes does more than enough to keep things in order around here." He nodded at the suit of armor who was currently collecting some of the coffee cups and placing them on a tray, "And you're right. I read your file. I know what you can do."

    He put the cup down and cradled it with his hands, "In all honesty, I didn't want you here. I don't need an assistant, but your situation meant the ACC was stuck with you. And if there's anything the ACC hates, it's dead weight if they're going to be stuck with you then they're going to find some use for you as soon as you're able. I'm aware of the situation with your parents. You're lucky, you know. They asked for your protection, and because of that the ACC can't just slap a rifle in your hands and train you into a combat mage. And yes, we have a few of those. You, however, needed something safer, and I happened to pull the short straw."

    He finished his cup in one last sip and placed it neatly next to the porcelain tea pot, "I have a lot of jobs. Most of them are things you can't help with. Unless you can perform surgery on an animal that shouldn't exist or prove complex geometries, then most of my work will be undertaken alone. My other job, however, involves... investigations of a sort. That's where you will help me. You're aware of what the ACC does. Keep magic and the unnatural under control. Most of the time they kill it, but when they can't, that's where I come in. I solve problems, I diffuse magic, I exterminate spirits, and so on and so forth. This is where you'll help me."

    "From now on, you do what I say, when I say it, exactly the way I say it. No matter how insignificant or difficult. I tell you to hide, you hide no questions. I tell you to paint something maroon, you paint it maroon not a bloody shade darker. I tell you to strangle something that looks like the love of your life, you strangle it. No matter how trivial or cruel something may seem, it needs to be done for a reason. The things we'll be dealing with will be dangerous, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. Death isn't the only way to become a casualty at the ACC. However, if you listen and obey, you'll be fine."

    Archimedes handed a yellow folder with a bright red stamp on it: 'CLASSIFIED: SECURITY LEVEL 4 OR HIGHER' The ACC's security levels went from 0 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Clearance was required for everything from requesting files and information, to opening certain doors or getting into certain parts on site. There were a few levels between the big numbers for specific things; guards, for example, had a clearance of 2-A while most researchers had 2-B, meaning a guard's clearance works on most things graded level 2 while researchers only have level 2 access within laboratories. Lilika, as a Subject, had a Level 0 Security Clearance. She simply wasn't allowed anywhere without permission. A janitor at least had level 1.

    Alistair placed the folder between them and opened it to the first page. It contained a picture of her as well as some general information. Height, weight, blood type, physical characteristics; it even had a tab for birthmarks found on the body. There were also a few tabs that weren't self-explanatory. Alistair flipped the page and behind it were two more pages exactly like hers, only they were her parents, "If you do well. If you don't cause trouble or make yourself useful, the reports I submit will be used to consider you for extended privileges. I can't grant you anything directly, that's not my department, but if I put a good enough word in, they'll consider it. These privileges may or may not include a chance to speak to your parents."

    He closed the folder and withdrew it, handing it back to Archie, "And whatever you do, don't try anything stupid. Not only will the ACC itself come down on you, but you don't want me to dislike you. I may not look like much, but I've made a career out of stripping power away from powerful things. Dethroning people as powerful as your parents is all in a day's work for me."

    He kept his eyes on hers. He didn't glare at her or make it obvious that this was a threat. He spoke as if he was explaining the terms of a contract to her. He wasn't malicious, simply straightforward. It made the message clearer than any threat. He broke eye contact, pushed his chair back and stood.

    "Right then. Come with me. Archimedes, clean this up."

    "Of course, Doctor."

    He led her around. Without the desk between them, it was easy to see how thing Alistair was. He wasn't very tall, but his weight still give him a somewhat lanky frame, topped by his unkempt hair and large spectacles. He was only a little taller than Lilika, but he seemed thin enough so that he'd actually weigh less than her. His hands had scribbles on them. Little notes and reminders written in ink on the back of his hands or on his palms. Her name was on the back of his left hand, sandwiched between the phrases, 'Exchange crystal formations at 2:00pm sharp.' and 'Call Alice Schultz, it's her problem, not ours.'

    They walked through the library, passing three bookshelves arranged in a square. In the single opening between them, a curtain had been set up. At the moment it was open, showing a small cot with a pillow and a neatly folded blanket. There was a small table beside it with a lamp and a few books. The only other thing in the makeshift room was a set of drawers. Alistair's makeshift room, it seemed. It was even smaller than Lilika's; although he did have an entire library to himself. Not regarding the walking suit of armor, of course.

    He took her a blackboard with a list of ingredients and wiped it down. He handed her a piece of chalk, "Your file said you had some knowledge of circular, rune-based wards. Show me. Use the blackboard or the floor, whichever works best for you."
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  4. She gritted her teeth as he interrupted her, his tone condescending and insulting. No, she didn't know why she had been assigned to him, and even if she had asked, she wouldn't have been told. Her fingers gripped the fabric of her dress as he spoke with a detached air that told her she wasn't going to like this man in the least. She inclined her chin as he continued to speak, refusing to let his words hurt her pride or feelings. He knew her skills, but the tone of his voice told her that he was not impressed. She honestly couldn't fault him for thinking that way. One would expect the child of two such powerful parents to be a bit more powerful herself. Sadly, she had never quite got the hang of the kind of magic her parents excelled out. However, she was rather good at what she did know and that was detection and protection magic as well as wards.

    Good lords above he was still talking. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, sigh or interrupt him. She didn't want to do anything that would anger him or jeopardize this chance she had been given. She knew she was lucky to have been spared becoming a combat mage. If she was honest with herself, she didn't mind working for the ACC. She would rather be useful than not, and if her skills could be of use to him in some way, she was glad for the opportunity to help even if she was resentful of the company. The things he mentioned that she would possibly be helping him with sounded interesting at least, so many in the long run, things would work out for the best.
    Her brow arched as Archie handed him a file and she stared at it curiously, and her eyes widened when he flipped it open, revealing a picture of her, and then of her parents. When he mentioned that she might be able to earn the chance to see her parents from time to time, her eyes lite up and she sat straighter, her full attention focused on him instead of only half. She nodded her understanding, the only real indication she had given thus far that she had been listening. "I understand Doctor. Thank you for explaining things so thoroughly."

    She stood when she was directed to and gave Archie a small smile as she passed him, following after the doctor. She used this chance to study him as he had no doubt been studying her. He had been right when he said that he didn't look like much, but Lilika knew that when magic and magical knowledge was concerned looks could be, and nearly always were, deceiving. She was a little taken aback by what appeared to be a makeshift sleeping area and wondered briefly if she was going to be expected to sleep here, but her outrage died quickly when she realized that this wasn't to be her room because it was already the doctor's room.

    She blinked at him in surprise when he instructed her to demonstrate her knowledge of wards but found her hand almost automatically reaching for a piece of chalk. She thought for a moment before choosing to use the floor and knelt down and began to draw out the ward. She had always enjoyed making wards, especially ones that used runes. She had actually mastered the runic alphabets, all six of them, before she had mastered the English alphabet. She was also fluent in ogham, though he probably knew that already.

    When she was finished, she pulled the chalk away from the board and looked at her work. Aegishjalmur, one of many runic wards for protection. She had purposefully left off a single symbol as she didn't want the ward to activate. She had been told that she was not to perform any magic what so ever unless instructed otherwise. Even though Dr. Thurmwood had instructed her to draw the ward, he had not told her to activate it. She stood back up and stepped away from the drawing and placed the chalk back where she'd gotten it.
  5. Alistair walked around her as she drew, his shoes tapping against the quiet library floor. When she finished, he walked around the circle a few more times.

    "Interesting." he uttered.

    From what he could garner, she'd written up some kind of variation of an Aegishjalmur ward. But this one was just a bit different than most of what he'd found in books or seen in person. He crouched down on one knee beside her. Runes were a particularly old form of magic. There were six rune alphabets in total. Although there were some outlying groups of runes that didn't belong to any particular alphabet, most runes belonged to one of these six alphabets. Two of the alphabets, however, had potentially thousands of runes; similar to Kanji in East Asian languages. Runes by themselves did nothing, but specific groupings and arrangements of runes invoked effects depending on the rune. In writing them, everything was a factor; from what runes you used to how you laid them out, and sometimes even what direction they faced. A few invocations even required the runes to be written out with a specific substance; often blood or a specific kind of ink.

    "The runes you've chosen for this are interesting. Don't believe I've seen these used together in a ward," he gestured towards a pair of runes, one inscribed for moon, the other for forest, "Interesting choices."

    Her ward was similar in structure to other wards of the same type. But the little details were different. If you looked up any kind of spell in a tome, you'd find a straightforward, almost clinical explanation for it. There was very little talk about personal touches or adjustments within them, the same way there's no talk about family remedies in a medical textbook. You were given the process, how to perform it, and that was it.

    Alistair had surmised that a family like Lilika's would have a lot of history in magic and figured that certain spells would get passed down over time. This ward, while similar in structure and purpose to other wards of its kind, seemed to have been modified little by little over time. Presumably, as each new member of the family learned it, they figured out something to add or change within it before passing it on the to next generation. What a family remedy of lemon and honey tea for a sore throat was to an anti-inflammatory pill from a hospital; this ward was to the wards one could find in a tome or spell-book. They both worked; but they'd been developed differently.

    "This is a ward you learned from your family, correct?" He stood, crossing the room and fetching one of the many notepads lying around, "I see you've also taken runes from different alphabets and used them in the same ward. That's good."

    Cross alphabet rune usage wasn't rare, but it wasn't easy either. It took an understanding of how runes would interact with each other to actually manage to cross alphabets efficiently. Some runes didn't play nice with each other and resulted in violent reactions, while other simply had no effect on each other. Lilika; or rather her family; had some skill in runes, is seemed.

    "And you've left the keystone rune out, I see." He said as he began to list the runes she'd used onto the notebook for future reference."

    A keystone rune was a common term for the activation rune that connected a runic spell and activated it; like a keystone connects an archway.

    "Tell me, what rune would you have used to activate your ward? Or rather," he stopped writing and peered at her, "Show me. Forget about facility regulations. Go on and finish the ward."
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