This story is set in the magical universe in Night Watch. It is almost a fan fic, except that it is all new characters. If you like the story, I suggest checking out the book series by Sergei Lukyanenko.
night since Elana was a little baby, my wife and I would go around the
house before we went to bed, setting magical shield spells throughout
the house. We used our magic to protect our home and our family. It was
as routine as brushing your teeth before bed. When Elana first started
to feel the power, we taught her small magics. At the age of fourteen,
it became her chore to ward the house for the night.
At first, we went around the house after her, checking her work, filling in gaps in the protection and showing her how to do it properly. By the time she was sixteen, we trusted her completely and never checked her work. We crawled into bed, safe and secure, knowing our daughter had everything in hand.
Imagine my surprise when I found a burglar in our house. My first instinct when I heard the sounds of someone moving downstairs was that Elana had finally turned into the type of teenager that snuck out of the house. She had always been so well behaved and not the slightest bit rebellious it had nearly worried me. However, when I got up to check, I saw a man with his hands in our curio cabinet.
We kept many collectibles in there from mine and my wife’s long lives. I had thought it silly in the 19th Century when Ilyana had begun keeping everything. Why would a grown woman want a china doll? Now that china doll could pay for Elana’s cheerleading classes or a new moped to drive through town. Here was a simple burglar, putting his mitts on our silverware from the 1920s.
I found it almost comical. To think that a magician such as myself was being robbed. I wouldn’t want to tell the story for the shame of it. But I also wanted to tell the story to other magicians for the comedic factor. The house had always had wards and spells on it. Spells to make people not interested in the house, spells to keep any door from opening, spells to alert us when anyone was walking up to the house. And now, there was a burglar.
Before approaching the man, I decided to look at him through the twilight, that dimension that exists on top of our own that only others can reach. I didn’t really need to, I could have looked directly at his aura without dropping into the twilight. But if it was a magician and not a regular human, they would feel the prickle of their aura being read before I had a chance to finish.
I looked at my shadow, a small shadow cast by the night light on the stairway, and magically pulled it towards myself - or more accurately, myself to the shadow. This first level of the twilight was in muted grays and devoid of any bright colors. It was cold and had a carpet of blue-gray moss growing on everything. It was a moss that fed on human emotion in the twilight.
I looked at the man with his hand in my curio. Time moved slower in the twilight so I had an opportunity to look him over. He seemed perfectly human. He had the smooth aura of a human. Except for one errant spike jutting out, he was perfectly natural. It wasn’t uncommon for a human to have such a spike. These were the humans who believed in ghosts and swore they had encounters with them, while really all they were seeing is a bit of the twilight and those moving in it.
The humans with the spike in the auras were not others. They did not have the magical capacity we had. They just had a slight sensitivity to the magic we others could control and manipulate. I always considered them to be more susceptible to the influence of the light and the darkness. This man had turned to crime and burglary. He had been influenced by the darkness. Perhaps one evening, a dark wizard had been moving close to him in the twilight, invisible to the man, and had said something to the man. The man wouldn’t have heard it but it would have imprinted on his subconscious. Maybe the dark other had made him jealous of his neighbor’s wealth and thus nudged the man into thinking he needed to constantly have more money and more stuff.
In either case, this man was no other. No magician had broken into my house, just a human. I looked up and moved myself out of the twilight. I stepped out into the living room.
“I would appreciate it if you would put my silverware down,” I said.
The man turned and dropped my silverware on the floor. I had hoped he would place it in the cabinet so Ilyana would not wake to the clank of her silverware on carpet. At least he had not had his hand on one of the china dolls. He reached into his jacket, I guessed to pull a gun. Pulling a gun on an other is a very silly thing to do. It took only a second to put up a shield that would make the bullet either ricochet or drop to the floor, depending upon the type of shield.
Before he had a chance to reach for a gun, and potentially hurt himself, I waved my hand in the air and said, “Sleep.” I cast a gentle sleep spell that would give him a moment to curl up on the floor before falling asleep. We light ones preferred this version of sleep spell because we didn’t want to injure anyone. It also had the added benefit of this human not falling instantly asleep and crashing into the curio cabinet.
As the man settled himself in for a sleep on the floor, Ilyana rounded the corner into the living room. “Who is that?” she asked, sleepily pointing at the man .
“Just some random burglar,” I said.
“A burglar?” she asked, her mouth almost curling into a smile. “Wait a second,” she said and then promptly vanished into the twilight.
A few seconds later she emerged from the twilight. “Just as I thought,” she said. “Elana did not set the wards last night.”
I laughed, “A foolish teenage thing to do. Do not worry, Ilyana, I will make fun of her for this for years to come.”
“Well, before years pass,” Ilyana said, “I think Elana needs to fix her own mistakes. She will have to change this man’s memory so that he not only forgets he fell fast asleep in front of a homeowner he was trying to rob but also forgets our house.”
“Of course, Ilyana, I did not mean to imply...”
“I know you didn’t, Piotr, I know. Let’s go get her.”
My wife and I entered our daughter’s room. How had she not woken up to the commotion downstairs? She was such a light sleeper, she would wake up if we opened her bedroom door to check on her. Yet she did not stir. Ilyana went over to Elana’s bed to shake her awake. Of course, only pillows lay where Elana was supposed to be sleeping.
Ilyana pulled back the bedspread to show me the line of pillows Elana had put under her covers to make it appear that she was in bed. I laughed and Ilyana gave me a dirty look. Perhaps I was too lenient but it was funny that a child of two powerful magicians would try to trick her parents.
“Did you check the probability lines last night?” I asked Ilyana.
While we magicians cannot see directly into the future, we could see probably outcomes. The closer in time, the more accurate the future picture is. If there was going to be a car accident in the next twenty minutes on the highway you needed to take to work, this would show clearly in the probability lines. A magical parent would often check the probability lines of their child to see that they were safe. This also meant we had to sometimes ignore the mischief our children were going to get into - how would they learn from their mistakes if we never let them make them?
“No,” said Ilyana. “I just assumed you would do it.”
“And I assumed you would, shall I do it now?” I asked.
Ilyana nodded and I looked forward into our daughter’s probability lines. She was going to be fine but she was going to have a hangover tomorrow. Her first night sneaking out and her first beer with a silly boy with a bad haircut. Ilyana would not be pleased.
When I told her what I saw, she said, “I can use a locator spell and open a portal and grab her right now.”
“Don’t be silly,” I said. “She will be fine. You can bang pots in the kitchen tomorrow morning to show her how terrible a hangover is.”
“Have we even met this boy?” Ilyana asked.
“Nope,” I said. “But the lines all say she returns home safely.” I couldn’t read an aura through a probability line so I had no idea the character of the boy she was out with. I had little fear of her getting a mean boyfriend. Elana had been taught magical defense very young. She also knew a few innocuous curses, ones that were harmless enough not to hurt a light one’s sensibilities.
We moved the sleeping man onto a couch and both sat in chairs at the dining room table. Probabilities said she would be home within the next hour or two. Ilyana made us fried potatoes and we each had chilled vodka and pickled mushrooms with the potatoes. We talked jovially for the next hour, getting a little bit tipsy and a little bit happy. It felt very much like when we first dated. I guess I hadn’t realized how little time we had to just be together after Elana was born.
“Am I horrible for enjoying waiting up for her?” I asked Ilyana.
“No, you would be horrible if you weren’t enjoying my company,” she said.
I laughed and poured myself a second small measure of vodka. Best not to drink it too fast. I didn’t want to join Elana in the hangover business tomorrow. I had no doubt Ilyana would take up my suggestion and bang pots around to teach her a lesson.
We heard the front door open and heard Elana gasp when she saw the man on the couch.
“Elana, come in here,” I called.
She said ‘oh shit’ in what she thought was a quiet voice - ahh, the loudness of drunks. “And watch your language!”
“Sit,” Ilyana said and gestured to a chair.
“Who’s that on the couch?” Elana asked.
“A burglar,” I said, restraining a chuckle. The mirth must have shown on my face since I got a stern look from Ilyana. Yes, I was going to ruin the punishment by finding this amusing.
“I hope that boy was worth the amount of trouble you’re in,” Ilyana said.
“You spied on me?” asked Elana.
“Hey now,” I said. “When we found that there were no wards on our house and that our little girl was missing, we looked at your probability lines. It would have been irresponsible of us not to. Nearly as irresponsible as sneaking out of the house and leaving it unprotected.”
Ilyana gave me a nod. Apparently, I was fathering well now.
“Um, am I grounded?” asked Elana.
Ilyana fielded this one. “Well, first you will have to clean up the mess you made. You’re going to have to alter that man’s memory, clean and put away the items he attempted to steal and put the wards in place.”
“Also,” I broke in, “if you want to see that boy ever again, you will have to bring him to meet us.” Elana opened her mouth as if she was about to protest. “I said, ‘if you want to see him again’. If you want to be barred from seeing him, don’t bring him by. You have a choice.”
Ilyana handed Elana a glass of water and two advils. “Take these, you’re going to hate tomorrow if you don’t.”
Elana did a good job obeying us after she was caught. She cleaned up after herself though she did have to struggle a bit harder with the magic - casting spells drunk was not always the most pleasant thing to do. Next time she sneaks out, she’ll at least remember to ward the house. She may even be better at hiding her breakout from us. We will see. Raising a teenage sorceress has its oddities.