“Yes, ma’am,” Janie managed. A boy would try something just because he was told not to. She was not a boy, she told herself. If she was told not to do something, because it was way too dangerous, she wouldn’t give in to temptation. Well, not Brian. He was almost sensible enough to be a girl. <Can you teach me how to do…whatever it is? Or at least how to protect myself?> Only Morgana heard her question.
<Yes. But not soon. Sorry. Unless you want to give up games. Talk later,> Morgana answered.
<Ulp? Later.> Janie answered. Give up games? That was unthinkable, undenkbar, nevoobrazimy…and she realized that studying German and Russian, so she could read their games literature, had suddenly started to work.
“Good.” Morgana touched the paper. “Nin amner Morgoth.” To Janie’s eyes, a point of blue light appeared on the page. Morgana tapped the paper again. “Nin amner Calirath.” Another point of light appeared. Morgana continued her chant. When she touched the fifth point, the light from the points flowed out, forming a star etched into the paper, surrounded by circles within which burned words in a script Janie did not recognize. To Janie’s eyes, the letters seemed to move, curling into and out of the page like tiny earthworms. “Now, all of you, try to remember that you want to ask Joe about his home address. Good. Wait.” Morgana gestured above the circle, her fingers making an intricate cat’s cradle that wove in and out. Janie saw what her siblings did not, bands of light and lines of text connecting Morgana’s fingers. The lights vanished. The circle faded away, to Janie’s ears like the tuning fork that, once struck, fades and fades but never quite stops. “All done,” Morgana announced, slumping back in her chair.
“What were you doing?” Brian asked. “Are you all right?”
“That,” Morgana announced, “was a fourth order attack in use. Until I erased it. It made sure that anyone in this house would not think that Joe had a home address or interlink ID, let alone wonder what they were. Usually you would just think someone else knew the answer, so you didn’t have to ask. The geas also made sure that no one would think it was interesting that the Joe here was the same as the Joe who rescued Janie and Trisha. The attack followed Joe around, within a mile or two, so no one else would wonder.” She leaned back farther in her chair. “I’m all right, but it was very solidly embedded.”
“Who could do that?” Brian said, not quite making it sound like a question. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
Morgana threw up her hands. “At a guess, Joe’s mom. But I don’t know who she is. ‘Cartwright’ is not a persona I can name. Almost no personas can do things like this. I don’t remember that any of the ones who can have children. And thank you for asking, Brian. Mayhaps another cookie, please? That was more than a bit tiring.” Brian handed her three cookies, the first of which rapidly disappeared.
“You much look as though you need dinner,” Patrick announced, “and you three young ones need to give us a private conversation. Your grades from Morgana, remember?”
“Yes, sir,” Brian answered. “Forward to modeling.” The three children headed upstairs.