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Family Matters: The Society Book 4 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 28611

Updated: 2019-06-11 14:59


Chapter 19

Ivy thought about her brother's assessment as she settled herself at the long table. She didn't doubt him. Even as a child, Alex never voiced an opinion until he was positive about it. While it meant other often described him as quiet and brooding, Ivy thought of him more as deliberate. While it was occasionally annoying to have him sit their quietly and listen, once he spoke the annoyance faded.

'Like when we created the sunroom for Gran, ' Ivy thought.

All of them pitched in with their separate talents. Even then Alex acted as their personal contractor. He gathered all of their ideas, did the math, drew the diagrams and told them what he thought would work and what wouldn't. He had little input in the decorative elements, but the practical mechanics he squared away with precision.

'But if he's right now, what does that mean for me, ' Ivy wondered. She was certain Hamilton would want her to stay in town until this business was settled. Realistically, Ivy knew she had a week, possibly two if she stretched it, before she needed to be back at Wildwood. A long stretch in town was not going to be possible at the moment.

'Maybe I could agree to come back in the winter when the snows are piled up, ' Ivy thought.

She had to admit the thought did have some appeal. Even though they moved into Wildwood at the tail end of winter, or at least she did, the weeks surrounded by fields of snow and ice stretching off in every direction did not make it her favorite season. Too much wet, too much cold. Ivy much preferred the city in the winter where large city owned vehicles scraped the streets and people cleared their sidewalks. Walking a cleared path between mounds of snow instead of tromping through it in her boots was Ivy's preferred method of walking through a winter wonderland.

She shook thoughts of winter away, letting the crackling fire settle her, as she looked over the items on the table. Her fingers practically itched to unroll the schematics. 'Report first, ' Ivy decided. 'There shouldn't be much and then I can get it out of the way. Then I can play with the schematics all I want.'

Happy with her plan, Ivy pulled the report close. As she flipped through the pages and scanned the notes she left for Hamilton or Albert, whoever got there first, she realized little changed. There were still eight names of mages who made accusations against others, leading to their condemnation. These eight had no noticeable reason for making the accusations but made them repeatedly. The accusations were all made against strong mages. Ivy didn't know any of the accused well enough to know what they were working on at the time of their demise and aside from the possibly false accusations in their files, had no idea why they were targeted.

'Which makes that something for someone else to go into, ' Ivy thought. 'If information on their projects is in the files somewhere, then I don't have access to it. Or didn't, ' she amended. Ivy wondered if she would come up with new information if she asked Fig to search the files again. While she suspected she might, she could also see Hamilton's anger at her doing so. 'Best to let him decide where to take the research for now.' Ivy decided.

Realizing that section was as complete as she could make it, she moved on to the next section. When continued her research at her apartment after the attack in the archives, Ivy found that three of the files she requested had pages missing. She made a note of the missing pages and listed the information that was gone from the files. She read through them quickly.

'Why was Denis Watts under surveillance?' she read. In that file the entire standard sheet presented to the Council listing the standard concerns of whoever made the complaint was missing. 'Who besides Victor Yancy made accusations against Thelma Craddick?' Ivy continued on. She nodded. That file was doctored as well, but it wasn't just a missing page.

'It was like the visitor's log, ' Ivy realized. 'The space for the names was removed as though with a knife.' Ivy knew there were ways to recover a removed name, both magical and mundane, but all of the ones she was familiar with involved the paper where the name once was to be present. 'So someone wasn't taking chances.' There was nothing she could add to that so she moved on to her third question.

'What happened to Travis Sinclair's file?' Ivy smiled a little at that one and shook her head.

After long hours studying various files, Ivy was familiar with the way each file looked and what it should contain. In Travis Sinclair's file every other page was missing. Pieces were added so it looked as though it contained the right number of pages, but they were filler. The official pages were missing. At the moment, there was nothing she could do about that either.

'Not much I can do in general, ' Ivy thought. From the information she had, she couldn't tell if the accused were justifiably accused or if they were viewed as a threat by someone else and the council was used to remove the threat they posed. She also couldn't tell if those making the accusations, at least those names remaining in the files, were making accurate claims, paid to level claims or simply generally irritable.

'The only new thing I've got to add would be about Colin Morgan, the Fae who visited down here, just before things went bonkers.' The problem was that she found his name in the log and was hesitant to mention it. 'But Jane mentioned the name.'

Ivy leaned back in her chair and thought about it. She asked Fig to look for information about Colin Morgan and suspected that if anything was found, it would be in the Fae archives. Officially she didn't have access to those. To gain access, she would have to have it granted by the Clan head of the Fae, who had not been seen since the Council disbanded.

'He also hates humans on principle.' Ivy added. 'So the odds of him granting access would be slim to none even if he was here. So any info I got on him would be gained through sources I'm not supposed to have access to.'

Ivy decided to leave Colin Morgan out of her official report for the moment. Hamilton heard Jane say that he was in the building at a time when no Fae were expected and he would no doubt look into the matter.

'No use making myself a target, ' Ivy justified. 'Besides I can talk to Albert later.' Ivy closed the report and shook her head at her own thoughts as she slipped the report into her laptop bag. While Albert may be the mage boogie man, at the moment, Ivy had more faith in him not hurting her than she did her clan head.

'Life is sometimes stranger than you expect, ' she decided as she stood and began unbuckling the belts holding the schematics together. With the straps removed, the cylinder of paper loosened, flattening out slightly under its own weight. It reminded Ivy of the first time she made a jelly roll style cake. Her filling was a chocolate hazelnut mousse. She tried to rush the process and filled the cake before it was cool enough. The filling melted in the heat and the round cake became a slumpy oval oozing melted mousse.

'It still tasted fine, ' she recalled. 'And every crumb was eaten, even if the cake had to be dipped into the filling as though it was a sauce.' Ivy began forcing the roll apart, attempting to make it lay flat on the table. While the weight of the papers was helpful, the roll was tied for too long to feel comfortable laying flat and the sides seemed to want to curl up. To help it with its horizontal endeavors, Ivy used the thick index book on one side and pulled out her laptop, using it to weigh down the other side. While the edges still curled and she suspected she would have to shift her weights around as she worked, at the moment she was pleased with her efforts.

Even though this set of documents was listed as an overview, Ivy could see lots of information she would find useful in the future. She slipped out her notebook and pen and began to take notes. As she worked, she felt the rest of the world fall away as each page in the overview document provided fascinating information. All of her fears and worries receded to the back of her mind and were, for the moment at least, completely forgotten. Once she found the emergency stairwell, and copied down the note regarding getting it open, Ivy began to scan the document as a whole.

Like every building, the archival level had its immovable support structure. It held up the ceiling and the ma

ead. "Charles believed that the magics binding the golem together were mutable, changing and allowing the golem to adapt over time to changing situations. He pointed out that while not altering protocol, older golems tended to develop a preferred method of executing the protocol."

"Like they were developing habits?" Russell asked.

"Pretty much, " Alex said. He nodded. "Some of the habits were linked to routine requests. The person who created them liked things done a certain way, so that is the way it was done. Standard stuff. He studied other, broader themes though, where the golems had several different ways a task could be done and no preference given by their creator. He found that each golem systematically tried the different ways each time the request was made, as though testing them and then each chose one method and used it almost exclusively from that point on."

"So the golems developed a preference, " Ivy said. "How is that change, exactly?"

"In and of itself it doesn't really indicate a change, it could be establishing protocol, but he noted down patterns of behavior, especially in older golems. He actually linked it to psychology, or some version of psychology at least. He used some sort of personality test on them. I've only started getting into the actual testing, I'll know more this afternoon, but he was using it to predict patterns of behavior in golems. He administered personality tests to them and found that their behavior followed personality types just as much as it did protocol."

"Such as a Type A person will always choose option X from XY and Z if given the opportunity, " Ivy asked.

"Very similar, " Alex said. "Like I said I've only gotten through the early chapters, but it seems that the longer the golems stick around the more they develop their own individual personalities, separate of their creator. The really old ones, at least old as far as his study group went, started developing little quirks, habits unrelated to protocol, but that didn't violate it, that were never intended by the creator. He theorized that if they lived long enough they might be capable of developing fully realized individual personalities and possible other humanistic qualities."

"Humanistic qualities, " Ivy repeated.

"Like emotions?" Russell asked.

"I'm guessing, " Alex said. "But it was all theory. He was writing before Theodore was born let alone got to work"

Russell chuckled and shook his head. "You have the strangest family Ivy."

The elevator dinged to a halt and the doors opened into the lobby. Bert was sitting behind the security desk. He smiled when he saw Ivy and she wondered exactly how old he was. At some point she knew she'd need to sit down with the family tree and do the math but at the moment, she wasn't sure she wanted to think about it.

"Ain't that the truth." She said, her voice low enough not to carry.

The three of them stepped off of the elevator and walked over to the smiling Bert. "Good afternoon Bert, " she told him.

"Good afternoon Dr. Chambers. Are you done for the day?"

"No, we are going out for a late lunch and then will be going back to the archives."

It was virtually the same thing she told both Fig and Emma and as she signed the clipboard, Ivy tried to remember a time when she had this many people concerned about where she was going and when she would return. The nearest memory and involved a bike with newly removed training wheels trailing glittery pink streamers from the handles.

Both Russell and Alex signed out as well, Bert paying them little attention. After signing out the three of them moved towards the exit doors. Russell pushed open the large glass door and held it for her and Alex. They stepped onto the sidewalk and the door swung shut behind them.

At this time of day, the sidewalk was relatively empty. People were busily employed elsewhere instead of moving between places. Ivy wondered if it was her destiny to inhabit the world in times when everyone else was occupied elsewhere.

'Maybe if I decided to eat lunch before two I would see more of humanity, ' she thought. Her empty belly felt as though it might agree that this would be a good course of action.

"Which way?" Russell asked. Ivy gestured to the left.

"I just hope they are still open this late in the afternoon." Ivy said.

Russell and Alex started moving down the sidewalk, Ivy turned slightly to look back into the lobby. Bert was still watching them. Ivy started to lift a hand to wave, but stumbled forward a half step as something slammed into her shoulder. Whatever it was hurt, biting into her skin and burning into her shoulder like a lava spill. She looked over her shoulder and saw some sort of dart sticking out. It looked like something used to hunt big game on safari when the goal wasn't to kill the animal.

'There is even a little yellow flag, ' she thought, her mind feeling hazy, her thoughts heavy and slow.

Her vision blurred, her eyes trailing rainbow ribbons of light with each slight movement. She saw Alex and Russell each had a dart sticking out of them as well and wondered if they stumbled into a wildlife refuge as Alex started to pitch forward onto the sidewalk. A van screeched to a halt beside them and Ivy heard the door slide open with a resounding clang. Her vision was starting to go dark around the edges and her legs weren't responding to her brain's order to run. She felt hands on her arms more than saw people and the three of them were bundled into the van.

The door clanged shut again and Ivy felt movement. 'This can't be good, ' she thought as blackness descended and she fell into unconsciousness.

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