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“But she's just a game,” Amanda said.
“What are you talking about?” Teodor asked.
“When you are kids you scare each other with stories of Bloody Mary. You stand in front of a mirror and say her name three times. She supposed to appear in the mirror.”
“She is also a Hag,” Albrecht said, “If you were to say her name in the right location she will appear.”
“So she would reach through the mirror and kill you?” Amanda asked.
“If you were at the right place,” Albrecht said.
“How do you know this?” Teodor asked.
Albrecht crossed his arms. “Because I am a Mage,” He said, waving his fingers, “But anyone that was curious could figure this out.”
Teodor sighed. “A real Mage?”
“I see,” Albrecht said, “Have you met a real Mage before?”
Teodor nodded, “One was with the villagers that went after my pack. But there are people that claim they know magic-” He stopped talking. He knew one more mage, but Albrecht did not need to know.
Albrecht held his hand out, palm up. His hand filled with fire. He shook his hand and the fire turned to snow that fell to the floor. Teodor sat down at the chair. The danger came from Albrecht. Amanda stared at the melting snow on the floor.
“What just happened?” Amanda asked.
Teodor leaned forward, “Mages harness power. A good Mage can call up any power they want at any time.”
Amanda glanced at Teodor and then Albrecht. She shook her head, then ran her fingers through her hair. “So what you are saying is that this Hag is around here?”
“A little more than that,” Albrecht said, “At one time she lived around here.”
“Steopa asked her, her name,” Teodor said, “But she would not say what it was.”
“That is important, if she doesn't want us to know her name, that is a big clue to who she is.”
“And we could figure out how to destroy her?” Teodor asked.
Albrecht nodded, “What else did she say?”
“She said Baba Yaga was her sister,” Amanda said.
Albrecht looked at his feet for a moment. “In a way, In a way, but Baba Yaga has moved beyond being just a Hag.”
“It has been suggested that she wants an audience,” Teodor said.
Albrecht looked up, staring at Teodor underneath his eyebrows, “That is a very astute assessment. Because her power comes from belief.”
Teodor glanced at Amanda, she shrugged.
Albrecht went behind his desk. “When you did Blood Mary, did you really believe that she would appear?”
Amanda tilted her head, “Once or twice. My friend swore one time she saw Bloody Mary. I saw something in the mirror, but it could have been just a reflection.”
“It was her,” Albrecht said. “But either you did not have enough belief, or the pull to bring her to you was not strong enough.”
“So if no one believes in her, she will go away?” Teodor asked.
“It is not that simple.” Albrecht opened a thick leather volume. “A Hag only exists if people believe in her, but she is aware enough to make sure people remember her.”
“So stories of Bloody Mary, Black Annis, and La Llorona, help keep those Hags around,” Amanda said.
Albrecht nodded. “But usually that is enough, the stories, the little parlor games, but this Hag is manifesting. She is desperate to be remembered.” He flipped through the book, “Or she was awakened?”
“What?” Teodor asked.
“Sometimes things like Hags sleep,” Albrecht said, “If they are forgotten, they fade away. But she is fighting it. She might have been awakened.”
“So she's pissed,” Amanda said.
Albrecht nodded. He smoothed out the page in the book. “Here. A localized revenger spirit will haunt an area where the locals still remember them. They will only be active as long as the belief is still strong. Some rely on objects to focus their powers.”
He closed the book, “She might have some object or place she is really attracted too.”
“She has been terrorizing the kids at the old workhouse,” Amanda said.
“That is a good place to start. It had been owned by Thorson's years ago,” Albrecht said.
“Thorson?” Teodor asked.
“He was one of the founding fathers of this town,” Amanda said. “He owned half of it at one time.”
“And the workhouse?”
“It was his public good work project,” Albrecht said, “Basically he would put take homeless and destitute and give them a place to live. Force the fear of God into them. And work them like slaves.”
“The kids were homeless,” Teodor said. “Could this be related to Thorson?”
Albrecht shrugged, “Possibly, There are a lot of tales about Thorson. The gentle public image and the nastier side too. The tales would be a good place to start.”
“I wouldn't mind going to the library,” Amanda said.
“Historical society would be a better source,” Albrecht said. He put down the book. “Has anything worked against the Hag?”
“Rock salt,” Teodor said.
“That works against any spirits. Anything else?”
“No,” Amanda said. “Look, how could she kept us out last night?“
“How did she do what?” Albrecht asked.
“We couldn't get into the workhouse. Like Steopa-”
Teodor kicked Amanda under the table.
“What! You already mentioned him?” Amanda said.
“Steopa?” Albrecht asked. “That is an odd name.”
“He is a friend of mine,” Teodor said. Steopa will kill him if he shows up with a stake, but... “He is a vampire.”
Albrecht did not look surprised, “There are a few in this town.”
“You're not going to hunt them down are you?” Teodor asked.
Albrecht shook his head. “Everything deserves a place to live. Vampires are just predators for humans.”
Teodor stared at Albrecht. Was this guy for real? He thought. Most Mages in Europe would jump at a chance to kill a vampire. “Alright, it was like what keeps a vampire out of private places. Steopa threw a stump through the window and we were able to get in.”
Albrecht lowered his head again, “That one I will have to do some research on. I have a few theories, but nothing that I want to say at this point.”
“Are the kids from the workhouse safe, now?” Amanda asked. “Most of them ended up at foster homes.”
Albrecht shrugged. “If they find a good home, yes. But some might go back on the street.”
“I have been wondering,” Teodor said. “Why are there so many children on the street now. I didn't see this many kids on the street in Stalingrad.”
Albrecht looked up. “I have noticed that too. Two years ago, there were a few, but lately there are more kids than adults on the streets.”
The noise of someone knocking on the front door made Albrecht turn around. “Oh,” he said, “I forgot my delivery was coming. Excuse me.”
Albrecht left them in the office. Teodor turned to Amanda, “What do you think?”
“How's does Bilge know this guy?”
“I don't know,” Teodor said. “But he could have hurt or killed us by now.”
“He doesn't seem that dangerous,” Amanda said, blowing a strand of hair out of her face.
“Depends how powerful he is,” Teodor said, “A real Mage can do amazing things.”
Amanda shook her head. “I don't believe any of that, age of Aquarius type shit.”
Teodor shook his head. “Amanda, you are a werewolf, we have been fighting a Hag, and you are having trouble accepting that Albrecht is a Mage?”
Amanda shrugged. “Magic always seemed to be full of charlatans.”
Albrecht came back into the room with a cardboard box under his arm. “So what do you want to do now?”
“I want to find that Hag,” Teodor said.
“Then you have to find out who she was. When you do, come back here.”
“Aren't you going to do anything?” Amanda asked.
Albrecht placed the box on the desk. “I have my own issues to deal with. But I will assist when I can.”
Teodor stood up. “Well, thanks for your time."
“Say hello to Bilge for me,” Albrecht said.
Amanda stood up, “Is there anything we can do to protect the kids that we know?”
“Be there for them. The Hag wants the kids alone. Don't let them be.”
Amanda nodded. Teodor put his arm around her and the left the shop. Outside Teodor and her walked down the street. The plows had been out, leaving the street and sidewalk separated by tall snow banks. Teodor glanced across the street. The young man that had been hanging outside of the Pit stood at a street corner. The collar of his coat pulled up around his face. His knitted hat pulled down past his ears. All Teodor could see was the youth's eyes. A soft growl escaped his throat. Amanda glanced at him.
“What is it?” she asked.
“That kid,” Teodor said.
“What about him?”
“He's been hanging around the Pit.”
Teodor dropped his arm, “I think I am going to talk to him.”