The promised epilogue. Apologies for any mistakes
The Moon Goddess doesn't send him visions often. Nori isn't sure if it's because witches tend to cause the least problems amongst the supernatural community, or if there's favoritism involved (if it is, Nori feels bad for Imani, even more than he already does), but it's a fact that he doesn't often get visions.
But since he doesn't get visions, it means his soul is more or less still intact; that his magic is stronger than the average witch, and he can always tell when something is off.
So on Wednesday, midway between his afternoon tea and latest mystery novel, when a vacuum of space suddenly opens up somewhere east and doesn't immediately close, Nori can admit that he's surprised enough to drop his teacup.
The porcelain hovers in midair over the saucer as he pauses, waits for the hole to seal shut on its own, but when it simply remains empty, he sighs, and releases the cup; it floats to the saucer and lands with a clatter.
The phone rings.
Nori sighs again, says goodbye to his book and stands-the book shuts and slips back into its place on the shelf-to answer with a cheery:
"You felt that?" Aditya, the fairy Oracle wastes no time with greetings, as usual.
Nori, who's grown used to her mannerisms over the course of decades, decides to complain later.
"Yes, I did. I think even the mers felt it." In a manner of speaking, because at that moment there isn't anything to feel. But a dead vacuum appearing out of seemingly nowhere would catch even the most magic numb individual's attention.
"Is it one of yours?"
Now, Nori can say no, because while witches are usually the ones to suspect when it comes to magic mishaps, fairies and, even rarely, elves can get out of hand with alchemy and other self taught arts. It could be a witch, but it doesn't have to be. Aditya will handle even if it isn't a fairy, and bitch to Karison the elf Oracle if it's one of his.
Nori can go back to his book. Nori can go back to pretending he isn't an Oracle, that the Moon Goddess never calls because there's nothing she needs, and not because he's a failure.
But he's duty bound, his soul tied to maintaining the natural order of this world, even as his tea grows cold and his books go unread.
"Yeah," he says finally, turning on his heel, heading with purposeful steps to his bedroom, "this is too big to be anybody else but a witch."
A pause. Aditya doesn't say anything, but he can feel her tension, the question unasked.
"I'll deal with it."
Aditya gives away nothing when she says: "Good." She hangs up right after.
Nori lets go of the phone-it zooms back into the living room-and sighs for the third time.
It's time for work.
Nori packs for the trip-his passport, IDs, a couple potions and a week's worth of clothing all fit into a backpack spelled to open into a pocket space.
The next thing he does is head for his closet, where a pristine white coat sits on a hanger, pressed thin and without wrinkles. It fits like a glove on him, collar framing his neck and jaw, moulding to his slim frame when he fastens the five obsidian buttons, the hem touching the curve of his knees. He also picks up a pair of white gloves, puts on one, pockets the other, and a white top hat that he fits neatly on his deep brown hair.
At the very back of the closet is a map; dusty brown, tattered at the edges with hand folds worn into it. It pulses with magic when Nori retrieves it, warm and familiar like an old friend.
Then he goes down into the basement. Beneath the perfectly discreet house is his true passion; a giant laboratory, in which he makes his living. Shelves are packed to the brim with a rainbow of potions, from carmine red to indigo blue, each row labelled by properties and effects.
Incomplete potions charge by the solar lights hooked up to the wall, swirling iridescent. Nori stops at one such potion, a cheery yellow concoction in a glass beaker, and feeds it a sliver of magic. It bubbles orange, red, purple, before finally settling on a dark brown, thick like mud as he transfers it to a small test tube, sealing it with a cork.
He puts it into his bag, and hopes he doesn't have to use it.
At the back of the room, sitting open on the page he left it at last, is his spell book. Bound in black leather, the book is unassuming at best, and messy at worst, but as the witch Oracle, it was worth more than his entire house and all his savings combined. Five inches thick of paper yellowed from age, pages and pages of scribbled notes detailing the most intricate rituals, effective potions, and spell work for every magic class available to the supernatural community.
It contains everything he's learnt, everything he knows, from this age, and the ones prior.
Nori touches it with a finger and wordlessly forms his spell; concealment, weight, evasiveness. Magic spills from him easily (like a cup on the brink of overflowing; using magic is like hitting the cup and expecting ripples but instead water pours over the edges and floods the entire room), weaving like strings of light through the air, tying themselves into a knot around the book.
Hidden in plain sight, too heavy to move, will bite if necessary. Three layers of protection is a bit overkill, but he prefers to be cautious when he's going to be away.
Next to it is his travel spell book-a quarter of the size and limited to mostly combat spells. He takes that and puts it in his bag so he has space to roll out the map.
It'd been a gift from the Moon Goddess, useful in determining abnormalities within her domain. It also has markers to locate the other Oracles if need be. He doesn't often use it, but instead lends it out to the others. The last person to use it had been Imani, three years ago…
Nori shakes his head to clear his thoughts of that particular tragedy, and scans the map for-aha!
"A forest?" Nori stares at the black spot several dozen kilometers from his current location. "Doesn't a Silva live there? Tart, or Parsley or something." He's never been the best with names, but he's certain that's a claimed territory. That forest is a massive sinkhole of magic, and the forest witch living there is supposed to be skilled enough to keep everything in order.
The blank nothingness now radiating from the same forest is proving that very wrong. Either the Silva has tampered with the magic maliciously, or has gone missing and left the forest vulnerable to manipulation.
In any case it's a problem, and one Nori will have to sort out.
Back up in the main house, Nori washes his cup and saucer, and considers waiting an hour or two to see if the Moon Goddess has anything to tell him. If it's something that could potentially endanger the supernatural population or alert the humans, an advance warning would be appreciated.
But it's already been forty-five minutes since the phone call; if the Goddess had something to say, she would've said it already.
Instead, Nori digs into the pocket of his overcoat, pulls out a shiny silver coin, the tail of trailing comets winking in the waning afternoon light. He runs his thumb over it, deep black eyes swirling to silver, rippling like a droplet splashing into the surface of a still river. When Nori speaks, the words rumble like distant thunder.
"Are witches involved?" He asks, and flicks the coin upward. It flips over, twice, four times...Nori loses count by the time it lands back in his palm, the full face of the moon staring up at him.
Nori sighs, locks up his house, and heads for his bicycle.
Whoever's responsible is going to be in a world of trouble.
I set up the premise for another short story sequel, but most likely that won't be done any time soon. But thank you for reading anyway. Much appreciated :)