Alice turned the aged pages with extreme care. The spellbook was the only one of its kind, and she had to call in a lot of favors just to get her hands on it. She flipped through it slowly, eyes wide at the information it held. There were a lot of ancient spells in it, forbidden long ago by the Council. She wanted to study the book more in depth, but she was only after one particular spell.
Spell To Erase Traces Of Oneself. She traced her fingers over the letters lightly, heart pounding. This was it. For such a long time she had been looking for a way to stay in the human world permanently, and her search was finally over.
At first she had thought this was just a passing fancy. For a demon who held such a high rank, she was flighty, always looking for the next big thing, but then losing interest quickly. But this idea persisted in her mind for a long time, until she realized this was probably much more than one of her short-lived hobbies. She researched for ways to make her dream into a reality, and they all led to the same answer: she would have to fake her death, or at least make sure nobody would come looking for her.
She had confided in Caleb and Natasha, two of her brightest and most loyal apprentices. She told Caleb first. He had initially blanched at hearing her plan, and Alice thought she made a mistake in trusting him.
“What are you talking about?” He had asked, eyes wide. “The Council would execute us if they hear about this!”
“But that’s the thing,” Alice explained. “They won’t. I’ve heard rumors of a spell that would allow us to vanish without a trace. No one would be able to track us. I’m so close to finding that spell, you just have to trust me.”
Caleb shook his head, backing away. “I’m sorry, but I can’t risk this.”
“Then if you’re not coming with me, at least promise you won’t tell anyone else about this. Swear to me.”
“I swear,” he sighed. “Just… just be safe, okay?” He walked out of the room, leaving Alice alone. She felt dejected. She had thought that out of all people he would understand. But the next day, he approached her.
“I’ve thought about it,” Caleb said. “I couldn’t sleep all night, knowing you’d be doing such a crazy thing all by yourself. And, well, I thought it would be better if you had some help, I guess. So, if you’re still willing to take me on, it would be an honor to continue to serve you in the human world.”
She shook her head, smiling. “You won’t be serving me any longer once we’re there. I asked you to come not as my apprentice, but as a friend. I want you to experience how wonderful human life is with me,” she said. He stood frozen, amazed. Alice laughed and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Okay, so you don’t have to serve me once we’re there, but you still have to keep working here until then.” Caleb stammered out an apology and went back to doing his tasks. Alice watched him go, her mind racing with more ideas and imaginations of how human life would be with him.
Next she told Natasha. She had originally only planned to bring Caleb with her, but honestly, they probably wouldn’t survive with just the two of them, especially since Caleb was a non-magical demon. They needed someone who could do heavier magic. Enter Natasha, his younger sister. Alice knew that Natasha had been honing her magic from a young age. Her skills in divination were particularly exceptional, the inkstains on her fingers were proof of that. Alice knew Natasha’s talents probably surpassed her own, and Natasha’s quick wit would come in handy if it turned out the legendary spell Alice found was actually a flop.
Alice had told her the plan in detail, expecting her to protest, or point out the flaws in it. Natasha always tended to be snappy, knowing full well she was a prodigy.
“Okay,” was the only word that came out of her mouth.
Alice stared at her, confused. “Really? You’re okay with this? You want to go with me?”
Natasha shrugged. “I’m bored of this place. And you seem to really want me to go, so I’ll do it.”
“Caleb will also be joining us,” Alice said slowly, aware that the siblings were not on good terms. “Do you still want to do this?”
“Of course,” Natasha smirked. “I’d love to see him fumble around and make a fool of himself. Besides, you’ll need me even more to clean up his mess.”
And so this secret plan began. And now the time to enact it had finally come. The three of them gathered together. Alice showed them the spell. “This is it. We’ll be able to stay in the human world with this,” she said excitedly. “Are you ready?”
Both apprentices nodded. Caleb gave his sister a sideye, wondering why Alice invited her. But he certainly wasn’t about to pick a fight now, not when Alice was so elated. Alice turned her attention to the book, and began to read the incantation out loud as she methodically followed the steps listed.
With a mortar and pestle, grind bracken, laurel, and hazel together until they make a fine powder. Apply this to the foreheads of the persons you wish to render invisible to those who would pursue. Light a fire, and throw in a strand of hair from each person. One by one, enter the fire. Once each person has been consumed by the fire, they will have vanished and will not be followed by those they wish to hide from.
Alice drew a line across their foreheads using the powder and beckoned for Caleb and Natasha to enter the fire. Natasha, without skipping a beat, stepped forward and allowed the fire to engulf her. Caleb watched her disappear from the room, suddenly afraid. Alice squeezed his shoulder and nodded reassuringly. Trying to steady his breathing, Caleb entered the fire. Alice watched as the fire traveled slowly upwards to his face, until he too disappeared.
Finally it was Alice’s turn. With her head full of imaginations of this new chapter in her life, she stepped towards the fireplace and allowed the flames to embrace her.
[I used valhallansim’s fantastic build for these screenshots. I wish I could have taken more pictures, but the very first Alice Veldaise I made burnt to death. Oops.]