Information Deficit

The room was quiet and dimly lit. A shallow basin of water sat upon a table and was surrounded by several candles, which provided the only light. The basin, made from obsidian, was in the center of the otherwise empty room. Thomas stood beside the table looking down into the water. To him, he had been in this room the day before, but apparently months had actually passed without his awareness. Now he was trying to make sense of all that had transpired while he was stuck outside of time.

The attackers were gone with little damage to the House or its occupants, and now they had a name: Solomon. It also turned out that Matthew was working with them, but Julia had done something to him. If it had been chaos magic, as Sarah speculated, then his own experience with Jason suggested Matthew was dead. Also, Julia was missing after creating a chaos crystal.

The scenes from the pool of water were jumbled and made little sense. The images flowed from one to another, contradicting themselves with every new picture. David was dead one moment and alive later. Rebecca was possessed, and then Sarah was. Matthew was working with Thomas to cast an unidentified ritual. That last seemed especially improbable. No matter where he looked, he could find no trace of Julia.

This began with Jason. His crystal had distorted Thomas’s previous attempts at reading future possibilities, and now Julia had it. And if she had some link to chaos magic, that would likely wreak even more havoc for his scrying. Jason had always been rather cavalier in his approach to magic, but teaching his tricks to someone else was reckless even for him. Whatever the case, his magic seemed unable to touch her.

If Julia were central to future events, her absence from his scrying guaranteed mistakes. The fuzziness and contradictions were unavoidable without her factoring into events. This was one of the reasons temporal mages were actively, and often harshly, discouraged from viewing the timeline, especially the future. So many variables to keep track of, even in ideal conditions, only possibilities would be revealed. Trying to act on those possibilities almost always changed them in unforeseeable ways. But the attack on his master’s House had convinced him that it was necessary to plan for events. Now, though, Julia threatened all of it.

In the past, he had attempted to develop a way to nullify Jason’s chaos magic, but it was futile. Thomas thought he understood Jason, at least a little. But Julia was a different matter. He had accepted her into the house only because it was Jason’s condition for joining. There was no denying her usefulness, but she had also been a thorn in his side. He needed to find a way to counter the uncertainty she brought to his work.

Unsure of where to begin, Thomas extinguished the candles and left the room, closing its door behind him. He laid down on his couch to think. Julia wasn’t Jason. She wasn’t as skilled, but that might make her more dangerous, less capable of controlling the energies she was playing with. No one even knew where she was. But he had to find an answer to her before it was too late. Before the darkness he had seen years ago was upon them. It always came back to information, and he didn’t have enough of it.

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