Le Fay 16: Shadow Magick

This is part of the ongoing saga of Edwyn Le Fay.

The stories should be read in this order:

The Dark House

The House On The Cliff

Mr Naith and Mr Naith

Searching For Gideon De Ville

The Evil Plans of Gideon De Ville

Edwyn Le Fay At The Trismegistus Club

Lochindorb Castle

Dark Rumours

An Enforced Vacation

Edwyn Le Fay In Oxford

Back To London

The House Of Edward Lang

The Captive Edwyn Le Fay

Betrayed

The Other Lair Of Gideon De Ville

The Human Infernal Device

Shadow Magick

Shadow Magick

Edwyn Le Fay was free, but he had nowhere to go to. He could not go back to his house, as it was too well known to the criminal element, including those villains who had twice captured him. He did not intend to be captured a third time. He suspected that if he got to see De Ville again then the wizard would not try using a geas on him. He would simply have the gorilla called Julius tear him apart.

He could not go to the police, either. It was perfectly clear that Detective Inspector Steel was not a man to be trusted. Steel had set him up, hoping that he would be captured by De Ville and lead him to De Ville’s hiding place. But that had not happened, had it? The police had not come to rescue him, and the marble in his pocket had been discovered. Steel must have slipped it into his pocket when he and the police were outside that house in Blackchapel where he had been held prisoner. He must have done that after Le Fay had refused to the plan to let himself be captured. Steel had decided to go ahead with his plan, anyway, even though Edwyn had turned him down.

Le Fay thought about going back to stay with his father in Wythenstow. Yet despite the fact that Edwyn Le Fay did not particularly like his father, he was not going to go and hide there, just in case Gideon De Ville or one of his thugs happened to catch up with him. George Le Fay was his father, after all, and Edwyn was not going to be responsible for anything happening to him.

Suddenly a crazy thought entered the mind of the wizard, and that was to return to the supposed house of Edward Lang. he had already been back once, in search of his ever-burning taper (gone). But what if he hid out there, before somebody else decided to doss in the empty house? His enemies would not suspect him to stay somewhere like that. And he had never checked to see if there was an attic in the place or not.

It did not occur to him that there might be something about the house which was drawing him there. After all, it had disappointingly just looked like a normal house when he had gone to search it.

He had nowhere else to go, anyway. Edwyn Le Fay hurried along to hide in one of the most dangerous parts of London. Where angels feared to tread Edwyn Le Fay rushed in.

By the time that Edwyn Le Fay got to the house it was night. He kept looking over his shoulder, thinking that somebody was following him. But he could be excused being paranoid, after all that had happened to him in the past few days.

He could not see anybody watching him, anyway. The house was in darkness, so he hoped that nobody was inside. Edwyn went around the back of the house, and through the door at the back, into the house. Then he paused, and listened, standing in the dark. He could not hear anything. There did not sound like there was anybody in the house.

He breathed out, and tried to relax. Then he took the coat off, and untied the twenty sticks of dynamite from around his waist. He was glad to no longer have the explosives around him. But he still did not know what to do with the dynamite. Oh, he knew what he would like to do with the sticks of dynamite, and that was to light it and stick it under De Ville, and do to him what he had intended to do to George Le Fay’s only son.

Edwyn Le Fay wanted the dynamite as far away from him as possible. He decided to put it down in the cellar. But there he found that he had a problem. While it was dark inside the house, there was, at least, a little light filtering in through the dirty windows. But on opening the door to the cellar Edwyn Le Fay saw true darkness. Utter darkness was not something which he had liked ever since going to the Dark House in Lancashire. He did not have his ever-burning taper, either.

Then Le Fay recalled the spell which he had learned from the spellbooks which had belonged to the Naith twins. It had been the only good thing to come out of that whole misadventure. The spell worked in partial darkness. But would it work in the total darkness of the cellar? He supposed that there was only one way in which to find out.

He had only successfully cast the spell once. But he recalled just what the gestures had been, and the precise intonation of the words of Magick. A spell once learned was never forgotten. He put the dynamite down by the door to the cellar, raised his arms, and cast the spell.

Once the final word was said his eyesight changed. Colour was bleached away, and everything became chiaroscuro. But he could see much more clearly than before, even though it was only in black and white. Everything looked lighter. He could see details which the gloom in the house had obscured. He could see as clearly in the hall of the house as though he was in daylight, and sunshine was slanting through those unwashed window panes.

He could see the landing at the top of the cellar, but not down more than a few steps. He needed at least some light in order to be able to see. The spell somehow magnified what light was there. But it did not function where the darkness was complete. It would not allow him to go down into the cellar.

Le Fay was not going to carry the dynamite around with him. He put it on the little landing at the top of the cellar steps, and closed the cellar door. He would have preferred to have a lot more in between him and the dynamite than just a door or a wall. But it made him feel better, now that he no longer had the explosives on his person.

Le Fay went upstairs and sat in the room at the back of the house, leaning against the wall. It was either that or lie on the bare floor. It was not the most comfortable position in which to go to sleep. But it was preferable than being captured again. He only got a little sleep, no more than a few hours before dawn. He was still tired – and his back ached – when he woke.

First thing this new day Le Fay went to buy some matches and candles. He could afford to do that, with what few funds he had on him. He would rather have another ever-burning taper. But he could not afford one at the moment. Besides, if he went to the Magick shop he would probably spend all day browsing through what books on Magick they possessed.

Going out of the house he kept looking over his shoulder, just in case. He did not see anybody following him. He did not sense anybody watching him. But that did not mean that he was not being observed, only that he had not noticed any act of observation.

Le Fay reckoned that he had a few hours grace before Gideon De Ville realised that he had not blown up the Trismegistus Club. De Ville had said that he looked forward to reading about the destruction of the Trismegistus Club in the newspapers. By the time that Le Fay had got to the club it had already been early evening, which De Ville must have guessed that it would be. He would not expect to read about the destruction of the club in the first editions, only in later ones. (Edwyn Le Fay did not realise that De Ville was in Paris, and that the older wizard would get the news later yet.)

Le Fay wanted to get what supplies he could and get back to the ‘Lang place’ (as he thought of that house in Blackchapel) before De Ville knew that the Trismegistus Club was still standing, and that something had gone wrong with the old man’s plan for revenge. Then Le Fay’s plan was to hide in the house, at least until he could think of something else to do. No other ideas had come to him at the moment.

He bought matches from a newsagents, and candles from a general store. The rest of the money he had on him went on food – bread, cheese, and things which he could eat without the need to cook them.

Then Edwyn Le Fay returned to the house. He thought that he managed to get in without drawing any attention to himself.

He went upstairs, into the room at the back of the house. He presumed that if anybody came for him, then they would come in through the door which led to the back yard. So he kept looking out of the window. But nobody came into the back yard.

His great fear, though, was that Gideon De Ville would somehow be able to find him by his Magick. Le Fay feared that De Ville, and Julius the gorilla, would suddenly appear out of thin air. If that happened it would be an end of things.

He sat and waited, trying to work out some plan. But nothing came to mind. He wished that he had something to read, as it was boring just sitting there (but if he read, of course, then he would not be able to keep watch).

By midday he had to do something to pass the time, something which would not draw attention to him. So he decided to see if there was an attic.

There was no trapdoor up to an attic in the room at the back. But Edwyn Le Fay could see one in the ceiling in the upstairs room at the front of the house. Getting up there, though, posed a problem, as the ceiling of the room was just out of reach of his fingers.

Edwyn Le Fay jumped upwards, and managed to knock the trapdoor open, the piece of wood knocked upwards into the attic. It was only a square of wood painted the same colour as the ceiling.

Edwyn Le Fay looked at the edge of the open hole. It was not all that fat above him, he supposed. One good jump and he might be able to catch hold of the edge.

It took him two attempts, though, at leaping upwards to catch the edge of the opening. Then he hung there for a minute. Le Fay was not the most physical of people – few wizards were.

He gazed out of the window at the front of the house, and he could see people passing on the other side of the street. If they should look up then they would see him hanging there. It was that fear of discovery which gave him enough strength to pull himself up into the attic.

He could not really see much in the attic, though, as there was very little light. But there was some light – and, rather than using up some candle, Le Fay decided to use the spell which he had learned, the one which altered his ability to see in low light.

The attic became perfectly clear – and it was perfectly clear that there was nothing in it. It was yet one more disappointment in the life of Edwyn Le Fay.

Le Fay let himself down from the attic. He winced at how bright the light was, as his spell was still functioning.

He went downstairs, and lit one of the candles which he had bought, intending to put the dynamite in the bottom of the cellar. He picked up the twenty sticks, still tied together by the string, and walked down the stone steps. The dynamite was in one hand, the candle in the other one. With the combination of the candle and the spell, he could see perfectly, just as though there was daylight in the cellar.

At the bottom of the cellar steps he stopped, though. He saw a shadow where there shouldn’t be one. It was coming out of one of the stone walls, and was coming towards the light of the candle.

Le Fay concentrated, to end the spell enhancing his vision. He held the candle up. But everything now looked normal, with the shadows in the cellar – of himself – going away from the candle. There was no shadow going towards it.

There was something odd going on here. Suddenly Le Fay was very excited, just as he had been at Lochindorb Castle when he had discovered that secret door. He felt as though he was on the verge of solving a great mystery.

He put the candle down on the far side of the cellar, away from the shadow which shouldn’t have been there. He used a blob of wax on the floor to stick the candle in place, and to make sure that it didn’t fall over.

The light was now a little dimmer – or it would have been, if he had not had that spell functioning, the one which modified his vision. But now, in the darkness of the cellar, things became clearer.

He could see a dark shape, like an upright oblong, falling on one wall. It looked like a shadow, but one being projected onto the wall from the far side of the bricks. But that was impossible, as the only thing which should have been on the far side should have been earth or bricks. Le Fay got the feeling that he was dealing with the most powerful Magick that he had ever encountered – something, possibly, even more powerful than the spells of Gideon de Ville.

The shadow moved, like a door opening, changing shape; and Edwyn though that there was now some portal there, although he could not imagine where it was leading.

Then Le Fay appeared to hear a voice. It seemed to be inside his head – he certainly could not see a speaker.

“Enter, wizard, who would uncover the secrets of Shadow Magick. Enter and learn the spells of Edward Lang. May they serve you as well in life as they have served me.”

“Who are you? Are you Edward Lang?” Le Fay called out. But there was no reply, not immediately. But, after around a minute or so, Edwyn Le Fay heard the voice inside his mind again.

“Enter, wizard, who would uncover the secrets of Shadow Magick. Enter and learn the spells of Edward Lang. May they serve you as well in life as they have served me.”

It was exactly the same as before – the same words, uttered in the same tone. Le Fay realised that he was not listening to a living voice, but to some sort of Magickal recording.

He stared at the brick wall, and the shadow of an open door. Surely he could not go through there? It was impossible, wasn’t it? He was not a shadow, but a thing of flesh and blood. He stood and stared, not knowing what to do. Another minute passed.

“Enter, wizard, who would uncover the secrets of Shadow Magick. Enter and learn the spells of Edward Lang. May they serve you as well in life as they have served me.”

Le Fay realised that the message would keep repeating for as long as he was able to perceive these shadows. As soon as the spell wore off – the one which had modified his eyesight – he reckoned that this strange scene would be gone.

Feeling no small amount of terror (and wondering if he would only end up bumping his nose) Edwyn Le Fay walked forwards, towards the image of the shadow door on the cellar wall.

He walked through the wall. Or, rather, he walked through the shadow door, into a whole other world – into another dimension, one composed of light and darkness, a dimension of deep, dark shadows. Edwyn Le Fay became the only substantial thing in that world. Everything else was composed of shadow; or was the shadow of something in the real world, extending also into this dimension.

Le Fay could see his own shadow, cast by the candle behind him, stretching forwards. He saw shadows of the houses around him but not the houses themselves. He saw shadows of walls; of people walking on the streets of Blackchapel. The way that shadows over lapped, and the fact that he could see through one set of shadows into the distance, made this an extremely strange place in which to be.

There was a figure before him, in this weird world of Shadow. It looked like a man. But Le Fay could see just how insubstantial and flat it was. It was a being created entirely out of shadows.

No, Le Fay told himself, it was not a being, because it was not alive. This was some sort of construct, made entirely out of the substance of shadows. It had the outline of a man, but not a man wearing the sort of dress expected of a Victorian gentleman. It was dressed as you might expect somebody to be almost two hundred years ago, judging from the edges of this silhouette

All shadows are connected the shadow construct said. But the words were not audible. There was no sound in this world. This was a place only of light and darkness, and the shadows which light through.

Le Fay listened, as the construct told him about Shadow Magick. It seemed that the construct had somehow been given words to say to anybody who stepped through the door. Le Fay thought that there would only be a few words. But it spoke for a long time, telling him how to begin to learn how to use the Magick of shadows.

Then, when it had explained how to do the simplest cantrip to produce a new shadow, independent of light, Le Fay was ordered to produce shadow, casting the spell. The construct waited. Le Fay tried asking it questions, thinking them at it. But it seemed that the only thing which would have an effect on it was for Le Fay to cast the spell which it had asked for.

With some difficulty, Le Fay managed to cast the spell on the sixth attempt. Strangely he did not feel the least bit tired – perhaps it was easier to cast Shadow Magick spells in this world.

As soon as he cast the spell the shadow began with the second lesson, explaining a deeper understanding of this otherwise unknown school of Magick. As Le Fay listened, he realised that it must have taken Edward Lang many months to cast the necessary spells to bring this construct about. Lang must really have wanted his Magick to outlast him, to go to so much trouble.

So it went, lesson after lesson, as Le Fay began to understand Shadow Magick. Le Fay was in a world without substance, and he did not hunger, and he did not thirst, while he was in this land of shadow. For weeks he studied under this ‘golem’ made out only of shadow, as he fumbled towards understanding of such spells. Edwyn Le Fay, many times, thought about trying to go back through the doorway, into the real world. But the wizard sensed that he would only have this opportunity to learn Magick known by no one else alive. His desire to learn Magick – his greed for spells – kept him there, when many other wizards would have left.

He was told how to alter shadows, and move them against the light; how to see into shadows – a spell quite different to the one learned from the Naiths – and how to deepen darkness, so that he was not observed. On and on the lessons went, and still Le Fay did not become thirsty, or hungry, or physically tired, in this place where there was no day, no weather, and where the passage of time seemed to be impossible to gauge. But all things must come to an end, and that was the case here, as well. His final lesson was how to create shadow doors, with a reminder that all shadows were linked.

“You have learned the beginnings of Shadow Magick.” the voice finally said, after what seemed like months to Le Fay. “You must discover other secrets for yourself. You have become a true student of Edward Lang.”

The silhouette then disappeared, melding into other shadows. The construct, having served its purpose, was gone.

“Wait!” Le Fay shouted with his mind. “What about you? How do I create something like you?”

But it was gone. His lessons were over.

Le Fay looked down. When he had come through the shadow door his shadow, cast by the candle behind him, had stretched out in front of him. But his shadow was gone.

Suddenly Le Fay was very scared. Had he spent too long in this strange world which he had not even known about? Could he get back? He knew how to supposedly create a shadow door. But he would not like to have his life depend on it. he had only cast the spell once, right at the end, and he had seen nothing but darkness, anyway.

I have not moved from this spot since coming through the shadow portal Le Fay thought. If I walk backwards then I should be back in the cellar.

He did not look behind himself, in case he could not see the door. He walked backwards, or thought himself backwards… out of the shadow door, tripping over his own feet, and ending up in a heap on the hard, cold floor of the cellar.

Edwyn Le Fay gasped. He was back, in the real world.

The candle had gone out. Le Fay got up, struck a match, and held it, as he got his watch out. It was around ten o’clock, but on what day Le Fay did not know. Had he been away for weeks learning Shadow Magick? If that was the case, then why was he not hungry or thirsty? Or dead? Perhaps you simply did not suffer physical needs while you were in the world of shadows. The young wizard did not realise that time hardly passed in that shadow world, and that it was still the same evening as when he had gone through the shadow door into the cellar.

He did not feel tired, despite all of the training which he had had. In fact, somehow, he had been completely restored, as though he had spent a long night in a comfortable bed. He felt almost as though he could do anything, not knowing that his arch-enemy, Gideon De Ville, was on the verge of putting his master plan into action…

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