Why wasn’t it working? The principles should be same as the crystal she had made to knock down spatial barriers. Yet, no matter what she tried, Julia couldn’t get this version to cohere. The reverse white crystal drained magic power, but she couldn’t make it mix with temporal magic.
The jar in front of her contained the last of the purple powder that had been exposed to temporal magic. Aisha had gotten it for her years ago, while she was still stuck in the past. There was only enough left for one, maybe two, attempts. Aisha still had had no success in tracking down another temporal mage, so she wasn’t likely to get anymore.
Looking at the clock on her wall, she realized she’d been sitting, hunched over, for almost six hours. Exhaustion hit her. Despite her desire to keep going, she needed a break. Maybe she should go back to Thomas’s rooms and look once more for anything that might provide a clue. First, she needed some food. And maybe a nap. She pushed back from her work bench, stood, and stretched.
Out in the living room, she found Aisha sitting cross-legged on the couch and reading. Aisha looked up from her book. “She emerges.”
“Yeah. I needed to step away for a bit. So what did Sarah want?”
“If I had to guess, she has some doubts about Matthew.”
“She didn’t say anything directly, but she asked me several questions about that incident we had with him a few years back.”
“Hmm.” Julia didn’t know much about the third founding member of the house, but she always had the impression that he and Sarah had been close. “I was going to go get some food. Care to join me?”
“Do we have anything in the cabin?”
Aisha shook her head. “We need to restock. How about Mediterranean?”
“Greece it is.” Julia opened a portal. “After you.”
Sitting outside a small cafe in the outskirts of Athens, they sipped their frappes.
“I don’t know how you can drink it plain. Isn’t it bitter?” Julia asked. She always ordered hers sweet.
“This is how I had it the first time. Never felt the need to add sugar.”
“Don’t you drink your tea sweet?”
“Chai and Greek frappe are not the same thing. Stop that.” Julia had been mouthing the words as Aisha spoke. After a moment, both women chuckled. “Okay. We’re here. We have good coffee. The prospect of good food is imminent. What are you stuck on?”
Julia sighed a little. “Am I that obvious?”
“Let’s just say I’ve known you for a little while.”
“It’s the crystals again. The missing one, it has to be temporal magic. That’s the most glaring omission. But no matter what I do, I can’t put it together. I prep a red crystal, tap into the temporal essence, but it won’t fit.”
“And you’re sure it’s temporal magic?”
“Thomas was a friend of Jason’s for a long time. Jason got spatial magic from me; it stands to reason he would have picked up temporal magic from Thomas.”
“And it’s a red crystal?”
“That’s the only primary color that’s missing from his set. It has to be.”
“All of that seems reasonable. So let me ask you, with how well you know him, how reasonable – no, how predictable – is Jason?”
“Are you saying . . .”
“I’m not saying anything. I don’t have any answers. You know him. What do you think?”
Julia stopped to consider Jason and what she knew of the crystals. “If I toss my assumptions, I’m back to square one.”
“If your assumptions were wrong, square one is further than you were.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
The food they had ordered arrived. Leaving magical puzzles behind for the moment, they turned their attention to eating and enjoying the pleasant afternoon.