Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Personnel: Selena Kyle, A-Class-C, Danie Cortez, A-Class-C
Purpose: Standard check for anomalous objects
There was probably nothing here, but the Foundation always expected the unexpected. Moonlight Talismans had been in business for something like twenty years, and had never had anything but trash meant to attract Charleston's tourists.
The first hint that something had changed was the tingle as they crossed the threshold.
Agents Cortez and Kyle exchanged a look with each other as the door chimed - several times, in fact, there were a number of wind chimes attached to it. Agent Kyle paused in the doorway, pretending to lean over and do something with her shoe while getting a better feel for what that tingle had been. It seemed to be a protection spell of some sort - nothing that would trouble them as long as they weren't here to cause problems, but it shouldn't have been there. Normies weren't supposed to be able to do that sort of thing, after all.
That meant this needed more than the standard cursory look around, unfortunately. and Agent Cortez went to go talk to the shopkeeper while Agent Kyle walked around the store, pretending to be a tourist and checking to make sure no one had slipped any household-class anomalies - or worse - into the shelf space. The shopkeeper quickly drew Cortez into a discussion of the healing power of crystals infused with moonlight. Fortunately, it seemed to be utter crap, but it gave Kyle more time to examine things.
There was a girl stocking some of the crystals who looked far too young to be working here, middle school at most. She was wearing black jeans, a black T-shirt that was inside-out, with some logo on the other side that was smoothing the fabric - probably not black enough - and sneakers that looked like they had been colored black with sharpie. One arm was also colored black with sharpie, except for spaces that had been left in the shape of clouds. Specifically, the kinds of clouds favored by people who watched that one anime with the ninjas.
Agent Kyle was not an expert on that, and gave the kid a nod. "Do you work here?"
"No. I do this for funsies."
Definitely middle school. The shopkeeper was looking over to them with disdain, though it seemed to be directed at the girl and not the agent. "I'm so sorry, miss. My daughter is-"
There were a lot of ways that sentence could end, and she seemed to be having trouble choosing between them. Agent Cortez recaptured her attention swiftly, with a politely sympathetic: "Twelve? Thirteen?"
"Thirteen, yes. I do hope she grows out of it soon."
Cortez was politely interested in the ensuing description about essential oils as a cure for teenage moodiness, which let Agent Kyle move on, checking the perimeter. There was a stairway leading up, with a chain across it and an "Employees only" sign hanging from the chain. Someone had helpfully doodled a dick on the sign. Lovely.
Fortunately, Agent Kyle didn't need to go up there - she had other business elsewhere, certainly -
She blinked, and frowned slightly. No one would have gotten into this line of work if they didn't know how to recognize a spell or throw one off. It wasn't much of a spell, but it was definitely something. Encased in... what? The chain. And the dick. Of course. It wasn't a standard occult symbol, but it seemed to be standing in for one.
Agent Kyle pushed her will outwards, over the spell, until it receded into a mild uncomfortable feeling, then slipped past the chain and upstairs. The hallway was filled with boxes, containing much the same items as were in the shop downstairs. There were a few doors - the first led to what looked like an office, which was also half full of boxes and the other standard assortment of crap that seemed to spawn itself in offices everywhere. The second door was a bathroom, the third was a bedroom with a pair of cats curled up on the comforter, and the door at the end of the hall had a dozen or so posters taped to it, for bands that Agent Kyle didn't recognize.
She didn't recognize the bands, but she could absolutely recognize the Keep Out spell that had been woven through the posters. She loosened a little bit of one corner, peeling the paper forward to check the back. Black ink, a pattern of circles and lines, lining up with... some of the words on the front of the poster itself. Tying it together, no doubt, with other words on other posters, so that the entire thing became a casting.
"What are you doing?"
Agent Kyle wasn't surprised by the voice behind her. Teenagers weren't generally known for being quiet, and the floors were hardwood up here. She turned around, calmly, keeping one hand at her side. If she couldn't overpower and amnesticize a single teenager if she needed to, then she hardly deserved to be an Agent.
"Well. That depends on if this is your room or not." It didn't actually matter whose room it was, but it was as good of a lead-in as any. She put a little command in her voice. "Tell me about this spell."
"It's to keep people out. Of my room. Like the one downstairs."
Agent Kyle didn't need the which you walked past to be spoken out loud, they both knew it was there. "Did your mother teach you to do these?"
There was a sarcastic little "Ha." There was a lot of bitterness in that one syllable, Agent Kyle thought. Well, that was someone else's problem, wasn't it? ACF had psychologists, and she, fortunately, wasn't one of them. The kid was going into full oppositional mode, though, which was going to make it difficult if Agent Kyle couldn't bring her out of it.
"Got it. Okay. So how does this work? I can see the words are linked, but that isn't enough, is it-?" A leading question, but sometimes you could draw people out while they monologued about their evil master plan. Or, in this case, their favorite bands.
"No, of course not - it's the bands. The vibe. They've all got a certain vibe, yeah? So you have to pick up those things and pick the songs that have got the most of what you want to put in and make sure that you're getting that all in there."
It made no sense. That was actually ideal. "And that works for you?"
"I... sure? I thought so." A frown, and a definite look that lead back to that which you walked past part that hadn't been said out loud.
"Oh, the spell works fine. I was just wondering about your methodology. How did you learn?"
"I just... figured it out. I tried things until they worked. You still walked past it."
Self-taught. Well, at least that meant they didn't have to chase down another caster today. And the silent part had gotten said, which meant it could be addressed. "Well. I'm trained to do that. And if I'm not mistaken, you haven't been at this very long." And if she was mistaken, boy was there going to be a lot of paperwork for whoever had checked this place two years ago.
"No. I guess. Trained by who? A coven?"
Oh, there was someone back at the Foundation who was going to love that. "Hardly. But an organization, yes." She knew the question that was coming before it came, but it was good to be right sometimes. There was a pause, long enough for the kid to think about it, and then:
"Can you... teach me?"
"Me personally? No. But someone could. If that's what you want to do. But you need to know that it's a one-way ticket."
"And... what happens if I say no?"
"You don't remember this conversation." Not likely to be a deterrent. The Foundation had plenty of people these days, but... Agent Kyle shrugged a little, deceptively nonchalant. "And you don't remember how to do any of that, either."
Probably a bit of a dick move to tell the kid that part, but a self-taught caster... well, there was no guarantee that she wouldn't self teach again, which meant that the ACF would have to keep an eye on her, and even if they had plenty of people, they had better things to be doing.
"And... if I say yes?"
"Then you come back with us. And you learn how far you can take all of this."