A Virga Mystery: BALANCING ACT
ACT 3e: OF LYCANS AND PROPHECIES
I stared. “Your parents are in our kitchen?” I asked, approaching the doorway in confusion.
Once I could see inside, I took note of the circle of salt on the floor. “Ah! Teleporting,” I concluded. Not to be confused with a circle of flour, used for transformations.
“Seemed easiest,” Melissa said. “They actually moved away from the town I grew up in, once I graduated from high school. They also prefer to keep to themselves, so infrequent teleportation visits not only mean I can find them anywhere, but that they can continue to keep people from tracking them down using more routine methods. Like following me.”
I moved into the kitchen. “I suppose their reclusive ways explains why I’ve never met them before,” I remarked.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, they get out and do stuff like normal people,” Melissa assured. “They just tend to do so in other guises. They were at my University graduation last year, for example.”
I blinked. “What? When?”
“That time I went over to talk to what I said was a couple of my former classmates. It was actually my parents.”
“Your parents…” I searched my memory. “The couple of twentysomethings with dark hair and tie dyed shirts…??”
“That was them. Made to look thirty years younger, of course.” Melissa pressed an index finger to the side of her mouth. “Come to think, they’re a bit quirky too, by your definition. Hereditary trait?”
“I guess this will be interesting then,” was all I could think to say.
Melissa smiled reassuringly as we moved into the circle. “Don’t worry about it. Now, as soon as my parents have mentally given their consent for teleport, the spell should activ—”
I found myself in another salt circle, seemingly in a pantry. In fact, the box of salt that had been used for the circle was still right in front of me.
Melissa had remained with me, and setting her handbag aside, she dusted her hands off on her jeans before heading out into the next room, which had to be the kitchen. I poked my head around the door a little more tentatively.
“Hello, mother,” Melissa said brightly, hugging the woman standing by the stove.
“Melissa, darling, good to have you back… and that must be James?”
“Uhm, hey,” I said, stepping out and waving as I realized I’d been seen.
Perhaps it’s a cliché to say this, but Melissa’s mother really did look like an older version of her daughter. Same wavy brown hair, if a bit shorter, same piercing green eyes… I suppose Marissa had an inch of extra height, but other than that…
Then again, I guess you could say their choices of attire were different too. Melissa’s mother actually sported a floor length dress in pale yellow, a contrast to her daughter’s jeans and green t-shirt.
(And if any of you are wondering why, given that this tale is using changed names, I picked ones that were so similar for the Melissa/Marissa, their real names were also very similar. Deal with it. Though, fair point, text medium, no visuals… maybe I’ll refer to Melissa as Mel for this portion of the tale? And I’ll fix this in editing.)
I paused here, not sure if Mel was going to do introductions, but I suppose she figured she’d taken care of that before the teleport. “So, um, do you prefer Marissa or Mrs. Virga?” I asked.
“Eventually you can call me Judge and Jury,” the older Virga quipped. “Though Marissa is fine for now.”
Said in a very non-confrontational tone, so maybe she had some of the humour that I’d always felt I had to teach to her daughter.
“We’re working up to Executioner, huh?” I responded in kind.
“I’m the Executioner,” came a voice from behind me.
I turned, to see what had to be Wayne Black entering the room. A huge contrast to Mel, he was just below six feet tall, wearing a dress shirt and black tie, leading me to wonder if my golf shirt was a bit too informal here. He had what might be described as chiseled good looks, including shorter dark hair with no real sign of baldness (are there spells to handle that?), and he was wearing glasses while carrying a newspaper.
Mel also has a pair of reading glasses, so maybe that was from his side of the family. Of more immediate concern, his tone had held none of the lightheartedness of his wife, making me swallow.
“Wayne, dear, give us a chance to work up to that,” Marissa said. I glanced back in her direction; now I could no longer tell if she was joking or not.
“Yeah, uh… is there a room where I can sit down? Out of the way?” I asked.
“I can show you both to the sitting room,” Wayne offered.
“Well, only if there’s nothing I can help with here,” Mel put in. “Any vegetables to chop or herbs to enchant?”
“It’s fine,” Marissa assured her daughter. “We’re actually going more traditional for James’ sake, with a lasagna. That said you’re welcome to add some marmalade to your individual salad course; I think I will.”
Checkmark for where Mel might have gotten her dining habits.
Around this point I realized I was classifying her personal quirks merely out of nerves, and decided I should stop that and think of an actual topic of conversation instead. Unfortunately, the only things coming to mind were sports or the weather. And geographically, I didn’t even know where on Earth we were. The kitchen didn’t have any windows.
“Let’s head to the next room then,” Wayne repeated.
With no other suggestions, this seemed as good an option as anything.
I lucked out a bit though, in that Mel started chatting with her dad about her latest case about the vampyre, and from there we went to Wayne’s line of work and some of his recent customers, so I didn’t have to do much talking. Even the few questions Mel’s dad pitched at me didn’t seem out of line, related to my degree or my feelings towards his daughter, so I was starting to feel much more relaxed by the time Marissa called us to the dinner table.
We each sat across from our respective partners, the table itself being closer to a square in shape than a long rectangle.
It was during dinner that I realized there was something not quite right. Namely, Mel’s parents were avoiding certain topics. Mel had mentioned the Prophecy thing twice by now, and in each case the subject was changed.
She didn’t seem to have noticed.
Wayne and Marissa also seemed to be gently probing into her relationship with me for more than her job situation, and I saw her father’s gaze seem hopeful when she mentioned how we’d just spent three weeks apart. Only for it to turn disapproving when it became obvious that we’d had intimate relations already. As Marissa served the dessert – some sort of pie – I finally couldn’t keep my suspicions to myself.
“Okay, help me out here,” I said. “Is there a chance Mel is actually some sort of Chosen One, to the point where you’re concerned about my relationship with her? Because you seem to be avoiding any direct discussion about that.”
Mel shot me a look of gratitude then, helping me to realize that she’d picked up on something of the sort, but had been hesitant to challenge her parents on it.
Wayne and Marissa exchanged a glance.
“Your answer is yes, and we’re thinking maybe you shouldn’t see each other for the next few months,” her father responded.
“Wayne, we were going to wait until after the dazzleberry pie,” his wife admonished.
“He brought it up,” her husband pointed out.
Marissa sighed. “You didn’t have to answer so bluntly.”
“Not see each other? Excuse me, you were going to tell me this exactly WHEN?” Mel demanded.
“After the pie, dear,” Marissa soothed. “Is it so bad? You’ve been apart for all these weeks already.”
“He’s already moved his stuff back in,” Mel countered. “Why would you even tell me how to live my life all of a sudden? That’s not like you.”
Marissa exchanged a glance with her husband. “Honestly, we were hoping to have the Prophecy problem solved by now.”
“Bloody technological advancements of the human race,” Wayne groused.
“Hi, sorry. Maybe you should back up to the beginning?” I requested, slowly raising my hand. I knew I’d be lost otherwise.
Her parents looked to me, and Marissa finally pushed her pie a short distance away so that she could clasp her hands on the table. “Very well. Do I assume you already know about the Prophecy that led my daughter to start up her agency, James?”
I blinked. “Um, no,” I admitted, bringing my hand back down.
I supposed I’d never asked. And while Mel wasn’t as uncommunicative as she’d been when we met, as you’ve seen, she still doesn’t tend to volunteer information.
“That wasn’t exactly a Prophecy,” Mel countered. She turned to look at me too. “It’s more a psychic reading that magick families can avail themselves of, once their children turn eighteen. I’d been trying to decide whether I should focus my supernatural interests in a more spiritual way, or a more practical one.”
“We thought it would provide guidance,” Marissa agreed.
“According to my reading,” Mel continued, “I ‘was destined to play a lead role in restoring supernatural balance’. So I went the practical route, with the agency. But these readings, they’re really just mystical fortune cookies, if slightly more accurate ones. You can interpret them to be true or not.”
“Except very few get the particular sort of reading Melissa got,” Wayne rumbled.
“Or to go with my daughter’s analogy,” Marissa put in, looking at me, “it’s like the back of her fortune had the winning lotto numbers on it. If she wanted to play them.”
Mel turned to stare at her mother. “You never told me that.”
“No, well, we knew you wanted to finish your degree, and we had a good deal of thinking to do,” Marissa continued. “That’s part of the reason we went traveling, and took a step away from your life. We figured we needed some perspective.”
“We were able to determine that at least one or two other people had received that same Prophecy style message, in other parts of the world,” Wayne stated. “And ultimately, what it meant in terms of the big picture.” He went silent.
“Which was…?” I prompted.
Wayne looked to his wife. Marissa cleared her throat. “Are we sure we wouldn’t like some pie before we get into this?”
“Mother, what did it mean?” Mel said firmly. She was using that no-nonsense tone in her voice, the one that can get a person to obey without thinking about it.
“Melissa Temetum Virga, do you REALLY want to know?” her mother countered. And though Marissa’s voice was barely above a whisper, the words were delivered with all the force of a jet engine. Hell, her tone sent chills up MY spine, and the comment hadn’t even been directed at me.
Obviously this speechifying was a family trait, and Mel’s mother didn’t like that Mel had tried to use it on her.
Mel immediately looked to me like a five year old with her hand caught in the cookie jar. Meaning not only was she in trouble, but worse, she felt that there was no possible chance of escape. She actually squirmed in her chair, an action I would never have thought possible for someone as in control as she was.
And then Mel looked to me. Me, with her eyes pleading, as if begging me to ask the question that had been stolen from her lips. (Lesson learned, do NOT get pushy with Marissa Virga.)
“I think what Melissa means,” I attempted diplomatically, fearing Marissa turning her gaze upon me, “is that this so-called Prophecy is affecting her life now, what with vampyres and lycans attacking based on her name.”
Or at least, her first and last name. Though you should look up the latin for her middle name sometime too – I used the real one – it’s rather informative. Or at least it was for me.
“Mmm. Disturbingly accurate, that three month timeline,” Wayne mused. “If we’d known, we’d have had you come by here a day or so earlier.”
Her father’s voice seemed to give Mel the courage to speak again. “Then I am being targeted,” she concluded.
“You are, and it won’t get any better,” Wayne affirmed.
I felt like this did not bode well for us.
END ACT 3