Warnings: Slight AU
Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, Sam Emerson
Spoilers: If you haven't seen the movie you're unlikely to be reading this. But still very few if any.
Synopsis: Edgar and Alan are less than pleased when a magic store opens up on the Boardwalk, but who are the newcomers to Santa Carla running the place, and what exactly are they hiding?
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
“Do you have anything else?”
Alan shook his head. The two books and the one remaining bag of herbs represented the total of everything magical in his possession.
“What about at Sam's house? Did you leave anything there?”
“No, this is all of it.”
Edgar nodded, satisfied. He picked up the books carefully, as though he thought they might somehow seep magic through the covers and into his skin, and dropped them into a bag before he backed out of the door to Alan's room and ran quickly down the stairs.
Alan followed him out of the room and leaned over the banister to call after him as he disappeared out of sight, “What are you going to do with them?”
“Take them back to Witches R Us.” Edgar said. “I hope they've got a returns policy.”
Alan heard the door slam. He went back in his room and sat down on the bed. All things considered, that hadn't gone too badly. Edgar had reacted better than he had expected. He wondered whether he had underestimated his brother.
The Practitioner sat cross legged on the ground. The circle was cast mentally, more experience reduced the need to draw an actual circle on the ground as long as the idea of one could be held firmly in one's head throughout the spell. The shimmer of magic filled the circle, raising the hairs on the Practitioner's arms like static electricity.
The candle's flame burned blue as the chant began. The connection had been established earlier, it was simply a matter of completing the spell. The words muttered quietly had as much power as when spoken loudly as long as the intention was strong. It was a difficult spell, a joining of two minds without the knowledge of the second person. But the Practitioner was skilled and well practiced, and within minutes closed eyes began to receive images.
The boy's bedroom was small and sparsely decorated; a bed, a desk and a bookshelf. Boxes of comic books lined the walls. The wallpaper was old and beginning to peel in the corners, as though the room had once been lovingly decorated by someone who had then forgotten all about it.
The small shelf was piled high with heavy looking books. Where he had run out of space, he had begun to pile them on the ground. He glimpsed some of the titles out of the corner of his eye as he walked across the room, but allowed the Practitioner no opportunity to inspect them more carefully. Still it was a good guess that they contained nonfiction books supplying information on vampire legends, probably werewolves and other creatures too.
At a glance, it didn't look much different to the bedroom of the average teenage boy, but closer inspection revealed things that seemed out of place. A wooden stake protruded from underneath the bed, two bulbs of garlic sat on the desk next to his unfinished homework, and a flask of what may or may not be holy water was stored next to a green water pistol on the bookshelf.
He gave himself a quick look in the mirror, providing the practitioner with a glimpse of his face. He looked tired, and without the ever present beret, younger somehow. His hair was a mess. He didn't bother to straighten it before he got into bed and turned out the light.
Everything went black and remained that way. The practitioner broke the spell and vision returned. Success. Nothing of value yet learned, but now the spell was complete it could be returned at at will. The boy would unknowingly reveal everything about his brother, and when his power was released, the Practitioner would feast.
Until then, patience was required. To take Alan's power now was so tempting, but holding out until the brother's was accessible too would twice as rewarding. Until then, Alan needed to be alive.
Edgar hesitated at the door to the magic store. His intention had been simply to leave the books on the doorstep for the old man to find the following morning. As he arrived, however, there were still people around. One of them could pick up the books, and read them. He didn't want to inadvertently unleash another evil warlock on the town
If the buildings at this end of the boardwalk were anything like their own, there would be no back yard or garden at the the other side of the property whose wall he could toss them over. He could go around the back and leave them on the step of the other door, but while that would reduce the chances of them being found, it wouldn't eliminate them.
He had no intention of leaving the books under his own roof for another night. They had done enough damage already. That left him with only one other option. His hand froze an inch from the doorbell and it took a real effort to bring himself to push it. He heard the bell ring inside the shop, and waited.
He could see lights still lit in the living area upstairs, which meant someone was probably still awake, but there was no reply at the door. He sighed in frustration and tried again, this time leaning on the bell and allowing it to ring continuously. After maybe a minute, the light came on in the store itself, visible through the strange, yellow tinted glass of the display window. He released the bell and listened to the sound of the door being unlocked. It opened a crack, a chain preventing it opening fully, and an eye peered out.
“Oh,” said the man, then closed the door. Edgar waited impatiently as the chain was removed and the door swung open. “Well this is a surprise. Please, come in.”
Edgar shook his head, “No way. Alan told me everything, I'm just here to give these back and tell you to stay they hell away from my brother.” He thrust the books into the man's hands and glared at him threateningly. “Understand?”
The old man looked at him, apparently speechless. Edgar smirked, mission accomplished. He turned to leave.
He spun back around to look at his enemy. The man took a step backwards, widening the gap in the door. “Please come in for a minute.”
“There is absolutely nothing you could say or do that would make me set foot inside that place. I'm not Alan, you don't trick me so easily. And from now on, you don't trick him either.”
“If he has told you everything, you know how much danger he's in. I'll protect him if I can, but he needs to be able to defend himself. Not only that, but with my help he could become someone truly great. Your distrust is contagious, you're holding him back.”
Edgar's fists clenched defensively, “He's already someone great, grandpa, the last thing he needs is your supernatural hoodoo polluting his mind. Leave him the hell alone or I'll make you regret it.”
With that, he spun on his heel, and walked away as quickly as he could manage without it looking like he was fleeing. He didn't dare to turn back and see whether the man was still watching him.
He didn't stop or slow down until he reached home. He went in through the back door, locked it behind him and collapsed on the couch. He took a deep breath and allowed himself a moment to think. He and Alan didn't keep secrets. They never had, and he had assumed they never would. But Alan had been keeping this from him, scared, probably, of what he would think.
And what did he think? He just didn't know. The supernatural was dangerous; it couldn't be trusted. That was something that they had agreed long ago. But Alan was a part of it. One of his parents, possibly both of them, were part of it.
He pulled off his bandanna, dropped it on the floor and massaged his scalp with the tips of his fingers. His head was beginning to throb.
Wearily, he got to his feet, filled a glass with tap water and downed it in one go, then climbed the stairs. At the door to Alan's room, he paused and listened. The light was switched off and he could hear the sound of his brother's relaxed breathing. Asleep. Edgar fought down a stab of irritation at his brother's apparent lack of concern.
With Alan asleep and their parents still unconscious in the shop, Edgar was alone in the house. He was glad of the solitude. His mind was spinning, he didn't know what to think, and tomorrow he would have to face Alan again. He had no idea what he was going to say.
Alan woke so early that the sun had barely began to rise above the line of the horizon. The soft, blueish gray glow filtered into his room through half closed curtains, and he lay under his covers for a few moments completely still, listening to the silence. This had always been his favorite time of day.
It was rarely quiet on the boardwalk. His room faced out to the front, his window just above the shop face. Days meant the constant passing of holidaymakers, people shouting and laughing, kids screaming. Nights were full of music, drunken kids and the creatures of the night that stalked them. The few short hours between the rising of the sun and the beginning of the day were peaceful. They allowed him time to think.
His thoughts this morning were troubled, filled with worry. Somewhere out there, someone may be hunting him, and he had no method of defense. His promise to Edgar that his experiences with magic were over had felt truthful at the time, but now, with the threat weighing heavily on his mind, he wondered whether he could afford to take that risk.
If he listened hard, he could hear the waves breaking on the sand and the cries of seagulls through his closed bedroom window. Then, suddenly, the silence was broken by another kind of cry – a human scream. Alan's eyes sprung open and he leaped out of bed and to the window in a single motion. He pushed the curtain aside and scanned the boardwalk and what little he could see of the beach, but there was nothing unusual to be seen. Undeterred, he pulled on yesterdays clothes, ran out of his room, and banged on Edgar's door. A sleepy, irritated voice replied.
“Something's going on outside,” he told him, and without waiting for a response, he almost flew down the stairs. He went out through the shop, leaving the door swinging open behind him and ran down, still barefoot onto the beach.
The source of the disturbance was easy to find. Not too far down the beach, a small crowd had begun to gather. They stood in a loose semicircle right at the point where the sea made contact with the land, blocking his view of what was happening. Alan sprinted along the sand toward the group, paying no attention to the sharp stones and shells that dug into the soles of his feet as he ran.
A body was laying half in, half out of the water. The constant barrage of waves caused it to lift and fall over and over again, moving inch by inch further up onto the beach. It was the body of a young man, no older than twenty, possibly even younger. He was completely naked, and laying face up, but his lack of clothing wasn't the first thing you noticed about him. Alan's eye was drawn immediately to the man's chest where someone had carved a large pentagram. At each of the five points of the star were five different symbols that Alan didn't recognize.
One of the men in the crowd, a surfer by the look of his sun-bleached hair, tanned skin and muscular physique, bent down to drag the body out of the water. He hooked his arms under the shoulders and pulled the corpse up the beach, leaving trail in the sand behind it. A woman standing toward the back of the rapidly growing crowd began to cry. Most likely shock at seeing her first body rather than that he was someone she knew, at least, Alan hoped that was the case.
Someone tapped him on the shoulder, and Alan turned to find himself looking directly into his brother's worried eyes. Edgar had thought to put his shoes before he went out, but had left his bandanna, and apparently his comb behind in his room. He stared at the body thoughtfully, then looked up to the boardwalk. As he did, Alan followed his gaze and realized that they were far enough down the beach to be in view of the magic store. As his eyes passed over the shop, the door opened and Anthony walked out.
The old man walked slowly down the stone stairs that led from the boardwalk to the beach, and made his way across the sand to join the crowd of onlookers. As he arrived, Edgar shifted his position, placing himself between his brother and the man, and glared at him suspiciously..
“Black magic,” Anthony muttered, staring at the body. “It's him.”
“Dumping them outside your front door?” Edgar said, “Sloppy.”
The old man didn't reply. Instead, he looked at Alan thoughtfully. His expression changed, as though he was about to say something but thought better of it. Then he he turned away and left the beach behind.
“It's not him,” Alan said.
“Maybe, maybe not.” Edgar took a deep breath, gave the body one final glance and then turned to walk home. “It's someone like him, though. This whole town is full of freaks.” He paused, looked at his brother, and grimaced. “No offense,” he added.
The remark stopped Alan in his tracks. He fought back the surge of irritation directed at his brother and jogged to catch him back up. “It is,” he agreed, “Anthony says that's why we're here.”
Edgar glanced at him sideways, waiting for an explanation.
“There's some kind of energy here. That's what attracts the vampires and the werewolves, and the evil, murdering warlocks. He says it probably attracted our family here originally.”
Edgar continued walking, facing directly forwards as he spoke into the air as though speaking to himself rather than the brother at his side. “I don't want you talking like that, Alan. You're not like them. You're human. You made a dumb mistake and played around with magic, but you're still one of us.”
“They're human too, they just have a talent for magic.”
“I know, I know.” Edgar shook his head. “Look, you've had a while longer to process all this crap. I'm still stuck on the idea you're...” his words tailed off into nothing. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Alan's deliberately blank expression. “You need to stop standing up for them, or I'm going to start worrying about what they've done to your head.”
Alan took a deep breath, ready to argue, then changed his mind. It wasn't worth it.
At the lack of a response, Edgar turned to look at him again, and smiled uncertainly. Alan shrugged and nodded, and Edgar breathed what looked like a sigh of relief. “I can't believe you ran outside barefoot,” he said, “Have you seen the crap that gets dumped on the boardwalk? And there's a broken beer bottle right outside the shop door.”
Alan looked down at his feet, and shrugged. He hadn't been thinking about shoes, his intention had simply been to find the source of the scream as quickly as possible.
“Or do your new magical powers mean you can fly over it? Because that would be useful for fighting vampires, it'd even things out a bit.”
Alan frowned. Edgar's words had the tone of a joke, but with a spiteful undercurrent that he didn't like.
“What can you do with magic, anyway?” Edgar asked suddenly as they reached the stairs that led from the beach up to the boardwalk. “What's it for? Apart from murder and putting curses on people? Does is have any uses that aren't evil?”
“Of course it does,” Alan told him. He noted that the shop door was locked, Edgar must have done it on the way out. He waited for him to fish in his pocket for the key. “Healing,” he said. “There was a whole section on that in the book. And there are lots of good spells that help people.”
Edgar located the door key at the bottom of his pocket and turned it in the lock. He nodded. “So, if there were witches back somewhere in the family tree, they weren't necessarily evil?”
Alan shook his head. “Most Practitioners are good people.”
The door closed behind them and Edgar turned the key again. He leaned against the door and seemed to sag slightly as though he was carrying something too heavy. “I still don't like it,” he said.
“Yeah,” Alan slapped his brother on the shoulder supportively. He pretended not to notice when Edgar subconsciously flinched away from the contact. “I know. I don't either.”
Alan inspected what was left of the bread and decided it was unsalvageable. He threw it in the garbage, retrieved two bowls from the cupboard and filled them with cornflakes. He checked the refrigerator, found that there was no milk, and so ate them dry, using his fingers.
Edgar pushed his own bowl away untouched. “We need a new plan,” he said.
Alan crunched his dry cereal and watched him.
“Watching the magic store isn't getting us anywhere. This guy is out there killing. We've got bodies washing up outside our house, and all we've got is a list of people who've wandered into the store. Most of them, we don't know who they are. Look at this,” he pulled a battered notepad from his jacket pocket and dropped it on the table. “'Girl with red hair,'” he read, “she went in last night, just before you turned up. 'Green dress woman,' does she sound suspicious to you? Oh, my personal favorite, one of Sam's, 'that guy from yesterday'. I checked the day before, there are twenty guys, we know who three of them are. And the list of suspects just keeps getting longer with every person that walks in that place. Most of them are probably just naïve idiots,” he gave Alan a sideways look, “and if you're sure it's not the shop guy, the killer probably won't go in anyway or the guy would recognize him in each town. We need a new plan.”
“Do you have one?” Alan asked.
“To be honest, I was hoping you did.”
Alan thought hard, but it did no good. He had been trying to come up with solutions since the beginning, and the fact that Edgar was now looking for suggestions didn't make them come any easier. He shook his head.
“I meant what I said last night. If your weirdo powers make you a target for this guy, we need to keep you safe. Stick with me or Sam at all times. When you can't, like at school, stay in a crowded place. We go there and back together. Under no circumstances go out alone at night. Or in the day, for that matter. Watch your back.”
“Okay?” Edgar looked at him suspiciously.
Alan nodded. He could sense Edgar's ulterior motive. He knew that under the guise of keeping him safe, his brother was giving himself a license to keep tabs on him at all times. It would ensure no more sneaking off to the magic store when Edgar wasn't looking. But at the same time, the intention to keep him safe was genuine. He knew that no mater what happened between them, they would each be able to rely on the other to protect them, to the death, if the need arose.
The Practitioner watched through closed eyes and smiled. This wasn't going to be easy, but the challenge was what would make it worthwhile. Simply picking people off the street satisfied the hunger for their power, but did not exercise the Practitioner's skills. This would take time, but it would be all the more satisfying once it was done.