I found it at a garage sale. Someone was getting rid of their family heirlooms. Not jewels or ancient scrolls or photo albums from bygone eras. Just cookware and cutlery, end tables, mismatched dining sets, and the like. I was supposed to be looking for something specific and practical. A desk. But something else caught my eye. It looked exactly as I would imagine a witch’s pot would look like. Coal-black cast iron. Bulging, maybe three or four quarts big, with three stubby feet and a handle. I paid five dollars for it.
Her name was Carlotta Alice Hood, but the wolf king did not know this. And his name was known only to him. It had been a nervous jest for them not to give each other their names when they first met. The wolf had claimed that giving his name would give her power over him. She was the granddaughter of an alchemist. And was to be an alchemist herself. She, for her part, refused to give her name because she had been afraid of him. He could have and probably had learned it long ago, for even as he watched over her, his kin and kind watched over her family. Out of that jest grew a superstition. The girl and the wolf would not give each other their true names until they fulfilled their common quest.
Far into the embrace of Night go I, to plunder Dark’s riches from a starless sky.
Ursa Knight leaned back in her chair, sipping only water and glancing over at the man who sat beside her. The base’s commissary was only half full at that time of day, so it was possible for Ursa and the minor diplomat she was babysitting to hear the news report playing on one of the screens hanging from the raftered ceiling.
As if there was anyone left in the solar system who didn’t already know it, the reporter announced that the Nye Anomaly Mission would be launching in a few days from Titan’s Prima Doma Space Base, right where Ursa now sat. The reporter failed to mention the mission’s unofficial nickname, the Mission Beyond The Veil, so called for the more than significant odds of the mission crew not surviving the first part of the journey.
“Ours is a family of seers,” Gran would say, before she began one of her tales. “But like everyone we can choose whether to look or not to look.”
Then she would tell us, a varied collection of her grandchildren, of what she had seen when she chose to look. We’d listen raptly as she told us stories about all the odd items in her collection of treasures from her life. She had the usual things that people had: birth certificate, diplomas, love letters from Grandpa, pictures of her children and grandchildren, books, trophies, vacation souvenirs, and so on.
But she also had things that people typically did not have: a petrified dragon scale, pearlescent flecks from a unicorn horn, a shard from the sword of a giant, a seed from a long-extinct and legendary talking tree, and so on. Every odd treasure of hers had a story to it. And every story was an adventure from her own life.
“According to the lore we’ve been able to dig up, a person only has to wear the necklace once, and for only a few hours, before the effects take hold. The science supports this.”
“So it’s like being exposed to radiation? Or an infectious agent. Done is done.”
Agent Mars Dietrich nodded to his boss, the division director. He had been on the case for a few days now. Dietrich investigated the supernatural and the paranormal. But he was far too interested in everything to become an expert in any one thing. Because of that, he was known for making connections between cases in various divisions from the supernatural to the scientific to the cosmic. The object of his current investigation had just gone from being a curiosity to a confirmed danger.
A necklace. Rare and beautiful. Priceless. And cursed.