by Edison T. Crux
Season 3, Episode 1: The Vault
“Here, have some of this, friend.”
Will examined the bowl in front of him. The aroma was rich with an exotic blend of meats and spices. Will recognized macaroni noodles, but the rest of the meaty stew was a mystery to him. “What is it?” he asked.
“Why, this is my famous goulash!” Hector boasted. “I picked up the recipe in Hungary. This right here—this is soul food. Guaranteed to lift even your spirits, friend.”
Great, Will thought. Even Hector knows I’m bummed.
It had been a lonely week at Enoc. Since Travis was now a full member, he spent much of his time training with Xavier. Will, on the other hand, was not technically part of Enoc, so he spent his days wandering around Garlock Manor. The first day wasn’t so bad; Enoc’s headquarters was beautifully constructed and interesting to explore. But after roaming the same empty halls and finding the same locked doors, the novelty wore off. To make matters worse, electricity was strictly prohibited—meaning no TV, internet, or phone calls to help pass the time. Even Will’s current book of Sudoku puzzles was nearly full, and that was brand new when he came here. He made a few trips into town, but Newcomb had less than 500 people and not much in the way of entertainment.
Not that Will never saw Travis. He would bounce into the kitchen at dinner time and scarf down his weight in food. Travis was positively beaming every time Will saw him. There was more spunk in Travis’ step than Will ever saw, and he wished—really, he did—that he could be happy for his best friend. But the happier Travis looked, the worse Will felt.
He had asked Travis once about what he learned. Maybe Will could live vicariously through him, and sate some of his curiosity about the inner workings of Enoc.
Travis had clammed up. “Well, baldy sorta made me promise not to tell you anything,” he admitted. “Said he didn’t want to ‘dilute your own experience’ or whatever. Probably just thinks I’d teach you all my bad habits.”
He laughed it off like a joke. Will forced a smile, but didn’t find it funny. More locked doors. More hidden secrets. Now he couldn’t even freely talk with his best friend.
So Will sat in the kitchen, staring at a bowl of goulash and wondering how it could make him feel better. True, Hector was Enoc’s live-in chef and a wizard in the kitchen, but it would take more than a Hungarian dish to lift Will from this slump.
All the same, he took a tentative bite.
“Eh? Eh?” Hector grinned at the boy. He was a big jovial man who looked remarkably ordinary for someone who lived in a magical secret society. “Whaddya think, friend?”
It was deliciously meaty, heavy with spices and a touch of sweetness. “It’s good, Hector. Thanks,” Will muttered.
Hector deflated a little. “That usually does the trick. You’ve got yourself a bad case of the blues, friend.”
“I’m fine,” Will lied. He poked at his food with a fork. “Really, it’s great. Thanks again.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know the blues when I see them,” said Hector. He turned and rummaged through an overflowing box of recipes. “We just gotta up the dosage, that’s all. Tonight, little friend, I’m gonna make you the best fudge you ever tasted. Then you just try and tell me all isn’t right in the world.”
“Deal,” Will said. He tried to smile, but couldn’t quite manage.
He ate his lunch, and did feel a little better. Will didn’t know how he did it, but Hector’s cooking really was magical. He wouldn’t be surprised if pixie dust was a secret ingredient in half his dishes.
From the main hall came the unmistakable sound of the front doors opening. They were big, heavy double doors that didn’t so much creak as boom when opened.
Will rushed to his feet. “Thanks for lunch, Hector!” he said in a hurry, then rushed towards the main hall.
The open doors blew a chilly breeze into the hall. Will made it there just in time to see the doors shut with a dramatic sound, and Xavier Orrick place his coat on the rack.
“Mr. Orrick, sir!” said Will. He paused in front of the grandmaster, catching his breath after the sprint.
Xavier smiled at him. “Good afternoon, Will,” he said. “You seem to be in quite a hurry.”
Will straightened up. “Sorry sir, it’s just… you aren’t easy to find.”
“Yes, I am afraid new initiates keep my schedule rather booked,” said Xavier. “My apologies. But, you have me now—was there something you needed?”
Now that he had the chance, Will felt foolish to ask. He stared at his feet and nervously shifted his weight.
He looked up. Xavier examined him from behind his mirror sunglasses. It was probably stupid to hesitate; Xavier would know within moments anyway. Will didn’t know how Xavier did it—could be mind reading, or an exceptional eye for body language—but the grandmaster was always a step ahead. Always knew what others would say before they said it. To be honest, it was a little eerie.
“I want to see the vault,” Will said, his eyes still facing the floor.
Xavier didn’t react. He was a statue, unreadable as ever. After a pause he said, “Do you now?”
“I’ve thought about it a lot,” said Will. “Ever since we got back from that last mission.” He didn’t want to sound as afraid as he was, but Xavier probably already knew. “I would just… sleep better seeing how secure it is.”
“I understand,” said Xavier. He smiled again and put a hand on Will’s shoulder. “Very well. If it puts you at ease, you may see the vault.”
“R—really?” Will was shocked. He had to ask, but he didn’t expect Xavier to agree.
He nodded. “Yes, really. Come, I have a few minutes now, if you are ready.”
Will took a deep breath. Was he ready? That vault allegedly housed the most dangerous entities Enoc has encountered—including Moyset. He exhaled, and despite his rising heart rate Will said, “Yeah, I’m ready.”
Xavier led him to an interior room. As they passed through the doorway, Will’s spine tingled; he remembered this room. It took him a moment to connect the memory, but when it hit the tingle turned into a full-blown shiver.
This was the room he stumbled upon his first morning. The dark room, where he was convinced something watched him from the shadows.
Now the torches were lit and the room unveiled. It was a sitting room, with inviting couches, a coffee table, and a massive fireplace. At the moment the fireplace was unlit, but Will also remembered warming up in here after his failed initiation.
“This way,” said Xavier.
He approached the tall fireplace and reached a hand inside. Then—to Will’s amazement—the back of the fireplace swung open!
“Y—you have a hidden door?” Will stuttered.
Xavier chuckled. “My dear boy, there are far greater surprises here than hidden doors! Now come, I’m afraid we have a bit of a walk ahead of us.”
Will cautiously followed Xavier through the fireplace. This dual purpose would explain why the mantle was so tall—Will only had to duck slightly to walk through. On the other side was a small landing that led into a long, dark stairway.
Xavier lit a mounted torch, picked it up, and descended the stairs. Will stayed close behind.
It got colder and darker the further they went. At first the walls were made of the same polished stone as the rest of the manor, but as they got lowered they were replaced by smooth metal. Will could only guess how far the stairs took them, but it was certainly lower than a basement. Halfway between the top and bottom of the stairway, the only light came from Xavier’s torch—but as they got lower, Will spotted a soft blue light waiting at the bottom.
Enoc’s basement was not what Will expected. He had pictured a dank dungeon, the walls covered in moss and the air ripe with the smell of dirt. Instead the walls were made of sheet metal, and the air tasted less like a grave and more like it did just before a thunderstorm. It was illuminated by bluish orbs mounted like torches. Will suspected these lights must be magical in nature; they certainly weren’t fire, and electricity was disallowed.
Xavier led him down one of several hallways, to a large vault door. It had an old-fashioned combination lock—the kind with dials you turn to change numbers—but this was the longest lock Will ever saw. Xavier didn’t skip a beat turning one dial after the other, until Will heard a metallic clank inside the door.
“There are more archaic locks in place as well,” Xavier explained. “Opening this door without first lowering the wards would be a mistake you make only once.”
So the old man waved his arms in precise motions, while muttering something in a language Will didn’t recognize. Finally, Xavier, turned the handle on the vault door and pulled it open. It was at least ten inches of solid silvery metal.
“After you,” Xavier gestured for him to enter.
This was it. The Vault of Enoc. Will took a deep breath, and stepped through the threshold.
It was smaller than Will expected. Just a rectangular room, no larger than an average living room. The walls glistened, as if the metal reflected bright sunlight instead of the dim illumination provided by the ghostly orbs. Two rows of reinforced metal cabinets ran along the center of the room, as well as some additional storage built into the walls. Everything was stark and metallic, giving it a futuristic look.
“What do you think?” asked Xavier.
“It’s… like a bank vault,” Will said. “Or at least, how they look in movies.”
“Very perceptive.” Xavier stepped inside. “Banks and this vault have something vital in common—security is top priority. I daresay you would struggle to find a bank as secure as this, however.”
Will swallowed. “I believe it.”
“Well, this is it,” Xavier waved his hands. “Enoc’s vault.”
Of course, this wasn’t all Will needed to see. Xavier knew it, too—of course he did. The expectant pause said it all. He was just waiting for Will to say it.
“Moyset… is in here?” Will asked, fighting to keep the whimper out of his voice. “Right? It’s locked up, right where you left it? It can’t, you know… get out?”
He grinned. Xavier seemed to find amusement in Will’s fear. “Since we are here, shall we take inventory?”
Biting back the urge to vomit, Will nodded. He didn’t want to, but he knew he couldn’t rest until he saw it with his own eyes.
Xavier closed the vaulted door behind them, and walked down one of the aisles. Unlocked a cabinet.
And withdrew the jar.
It was just as Will remembered. A small, ornamental jar made of a silvery-white metal, inscribed with runes and symbols he didn’t understand. It radiated an aura of wrongness—looking at it churned Will’s stomach, reacting subconsciously to the vile entity locked within.
“It’s in there?” he whispered.
“Yes,” Xavier confirmed. “Moyset is in there.”
Will eyed the lid of the jar. Although locked in place, it seemed like such a weak barrier to contain such a powerful thing. “And you’re sure it can’t escape?”
“Only a fool is sure of anything,” said Xavier. “But I can assure you, I have gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent such a thing. As you know, this jar is made of solid platinum—an extremely dense metal that is as solid to invisible entities as it is to material ones. I personally embedded a myriad of redundant warding spells into the metal, insurance in case the demon behaved in an unforeseen manner. Beyond that, the walls of this room are made of four inches of solid platinum, all enchanted with even more potent magic. Likewise, I took particular cautions with the door, as that can be a weak point in any security system.
“This vault was top priority when constructing Garlock Manor,” Xavier went on to explain. “This was not Enoc’s first base of operations. Our previous mansion—although beautiful and highly attuned to magical energies—lacked a vault of this caliber.” He glanced lovingly around. “This room cost a fortune, but in this line of work I believe it is a necessary expense.”
“Wow…” Hearing that comforted Will. “Sounds like it would be impossible to get out.
“Impossible? No, I wouldn’t go that far,” said Xavier. “Here, you learn that word—impossible—invites the universe to prove you wrong. I can say that, in all my years, I have never seen a demon or similar entity escape this level of protection. However, we do not know much about demons. There have been cases—rare ones, mind you—of demons breaking free from its binding if cultists summon it. But in this case, I do not believe we have to worry. The only known record of how to call Moyset has been destroyed.”
Livre de la Bête.
Oh yes, Will remembered that book. He read from those cursed pages once. Performed a ritual to speak with Moyset. Offered himself up in exchange for his great-uncle. They burned it behind B.R. Amon. Will watched the pages blacken until they were nothing but dust. No one would ever read from that book again.
“Thank you, Mr. Orrick,” said Will. “I… I do feel a little better now.”
Xavier put the jar away, and locked the cabinet. “Good,” he said. He looked Will up and down for a moment. “However, I do believe more than concern for security has troubled you in recent days. Am I correct?”
Will looked at his feet. Nothing got past the grandmaster. “I guess so…”
He placed his hands on Will’s shoulders. “Why don’t you take some time to yourself? Visit your great-uncle in Elkhorn. It might do you good.”
“Go… back to Elkhorn?” Will froze. “Am I—am I being kicked out?”
“Goodness, no!” Xavier chuckled. “You may return whenever you please. But for the time being, I do not have work for you, and my time is short while training our new initiate. A vacation might help lift your spirits, and refresh your mind.”
“I guess so…” Will slumped.
No matter what Xavier said, this felt like being sent away. Will didn’t belong here—not now, while Travis was busy training. So they were sending him away, where he couldn’t bother them anymore.
Will hated it, but—as always—Xavier was right.
There was nothing for him at Enoc right now.
He might as well go home.