Archie held his handkerchief over his mouth and nose, and opened the door of the broom closet. The smoke from the Altar was still thick in the small room, but the fire had more or less burnt itself out and he needed to get moving; he was going to have to rework at least one of his spells to reestablish his glamour before dawn. Even with the filter of the well-laundered - if somewhat bloody - cotton, the smoke was enough to cause him to cough and splutter.
Damn hooligans; he could have dealt with the kids if the old men hadn't burst in, guns at the ready. It had taken months to get the Altar set up like that, detailed research and painstaking spell work and now it was all gone; reduced to a pile of ash by an elderly thug with a lighter and a can of gas.
Samuel bloody Winchester, with his cane, his know-it-all I'm-a-famous-author attitude and his no-good brother. Amateurs. Research some hoodoo legends and suddenly you’re an expert. Archie had half a mind to ban Mr. Samuel Winchester from the shop, but he spent a lot of money on books for his ‘work’ or for the kid’s schooling and it wasn’t like they had a lot of good customers coming in at the moment.
Archie gathered up all that was left of the stones and deconsecrated soil from the corner of the room. First the spell work and then he’d work out what to do about those nosy children.
He had to do it, he needed his magic. It wasn’t his fault that Mother had cooked so badly when they were young; if he’d had more vegetables he wouldn’t be so pale now, and if Thomas had been less peculiar then maybe he wouldn’t have had to spend his entire school life being ignored for being the younger brother of a freak. It was all Mother’s fault. Even that pyromaniac looked like he ate well, with that paunch hanging out over his jeans.
They may have destroyed some of his work, but they knew nothing of real truth, of real power, of how he’d changed from the cringing little man he’d been. He had learned how to make people like him from a dusty, mildewy book; made them look past his pale skin and watery eyes and ignore his sometimes unfortunate manner. It was so easy. Just a little blood and a few spoken words. It had been enough to get people to start coming to his book group – Thomas had hated the group at the beginning, but when Archie had shown him… Thomas had soon changed his mind.
The glamour worked better on some people than others; it was only really effective when they were close to him, close to the gris gris he kept round his neck, but he soon found a way to improve it. And so what if a few animals had been damaged along the way? Every true visionary had his trials. All that hard work was gone now, the glamour would fade with the rising of the sun, and his control spells… Archie almost wept with the thought that he could no longer command at will, that his book group were no longer his army.
It had been hard at first, working out the magic, but he’d done it in the end. There were so many people who needed to be taught a lesson, and once Archie had perfected the spell with the runes and the blood on his unholy Altar he’d had the soldiers ready to do the teaching.
He worked hurriedly; collecting everything he could from the basement, and drove back to the shop as fast as the quiet roads allowed. His books were there, waiting to soothe him and give him back what he should rightfully have, and he sighed in relief as he felt the slick smoothness of the glamour roll right over him again.
The Winchester dabblers had tried to push him from his true path but they had not succeeded. The blood-control had been effective, but crude - a man of his standing, one who had already performed the ancient magics handed down from the pharos, should not be satisfied with the mere power of pictures.
He reached for his most precious book, the ancient manuscript that told older stories of powerful magic; the truths that had been immortalized in tales to frighten children. The Wolf story he’d been researching told of a power from the blood of seven. Unfortunately, there were not seven of hisfoolish enemy, but there were three innocents - the girl and the twin brothers. Three was as powerful a number as seven; those bumbling fools wouldn’t even get a chance to thwart his plans again - the ritual was so quick, so easy, and he’d learnt the lesson of the wolf who had tried to take them all. He needed one, and her blood and bone would bind in all of them.
He only needed the little girl.