Plum and the rest of the coven were exhausted, after they magicked the bodies into the ground. I didn’t want to bother her, but the events of the night had really disturbed me. Knowing Plum, her mood would affect the quality of her answers. So, I couldn’t just go up to her on the spur of the moment and start questioning her. It was all about asking at just the right moment.
So, I knew better than to ask about anything important, when she was tired. Instead, I retreated to my old room, feeling so drained that flashbacks of Conroy’s decapitation didn’t even keep me from sleeping. It felt so good to lie in a familiar bed again. I fell into a deep dreamless sleep and didn’t awake until sunlight streamed into my room the next afternoon.
Delilah and the others were doing some deep cleaning. That made it the perfect time to have a private chat with Plum. She was inside her walk-in closet, holding a red leather mini skirt up to her waist. She looked at me mournfully.
“Will you look at this? I had a collection of beautiful, tasteful designer clothes. Flame got rid of everything and replaced it with tight leather skirts, cropped tops, thigh high boots and waist chains. I feel like a streetwalker in this trash! Look at this, a whole rack of furry jackets and vests. It looks like feeding time at the zoo over here!”
“It’s not that bad. At least you can pull it off with that body.”
“Just because I can wear it, doesn’t mean I should. A trash bag with holes in it would be more tasteful!”
“Dramatic much? If it makes you feel any better, I think some of your stuff is in my closet. Flame may have given your stuff to the other coven members. You might try checking the closets in the other rooms.”
“Really? Wonderful! You are a lifesaver Patricia! I’ve got a little business to attend to today, would you mind seeing what all you can find and put it back in my closet?”
“No problem, what do you want me to do with this stuff?”
“Burn it! Better yet, give it to the others. These look like the kind of rags they would wear.”
“Okay…hey Plum, everything that happened last night got me thinking.”
“Huh? Wait a minute, here’s one of my dresses. Let’s see if it fits this body. Sorry, what were you saying?”
“Oh nothing, I was just…after watching you switch places with Flame I wondered if you’ve done that before…before we met.”
“Yes of course, what about it?”
“So, the body you had when we met originally belonged to someone else?”
“Yes, she was the girlfriend of a Yakuza gangster. The silly little bitch had the nerve to try to go toe-to-toe with me. Needless to say, she lost everything.”
“Want to hear something funny? I met someone who looked like she was related to that girl. Now, I’m wondering if that’s how Hiromi knew her. She hates you.”
“Did you say Hiromi? Please tell me you haven’t been associating with that sigil witch.”
“What’s her beef with you anyway?”
“You’re asking me to make assumptions about what she feels? How the hell do I know? It doesn’t take much to get on a woman’s nerves. Most likely she’s just a sore loser. Stay away from Hiromi, she’s bad news.”
“That’s funny, she warned me to stay away from you for the same reason.”
“I’m sure she did. Hiromi has always enjoyed stirring the pot. She’s always talking shit about somebody. Why are you wasting time on her baseless accusations? You don’t even know her. You know me and you know I’m trustworthy.”
“Do I know you Plum? I don’t even know what you looked like, before you started snatching bodies.”
“What difference does it make what I looked like? Don’t be so superficial. If being around me has taught you nothing else, it should be that what really matters is who a person is inside.”
“I just want to get to know the real you.”
“Darling, I could talk about myself until I’m blue in the face and all you would know is whatever I chose to share. It wouldn’t necessarily be meaningful or true.”
“Is it so wrong to want to get to know you better?”
“Thanks to Delilah, I was literally inside your head Patricia. How much closer could we get?”
“Yeah, but you blocked me from really learning anything new. I still don’t even know your birthname.”
Plum stopped brushing her hair in the mirror and turned to level a hostile glare at Patricia. Patricia’s bland expression remained unchanged and she realized the statement had been innocent. Plum relaxed, but her gaze was unwavering.
“Listen up Patricia, I’m about to give you a piece of advice that may save your life. Don’t ever ask a practitioner of magic what their birth name is and don’t try to ferret it out from others.”
“What’s the big deal? You know my birthname.”
“Words are powerful. How do you think spellcasting works? It’s the innate power in the verbalization of an incantation and intent behind it. Consider how much power you could wield over someone, if you cast a spell using the true name bestowed upon them at birth? In some places, just asking someone their birthname or attempting to find out via other means is enough to get you killed. Now, shoo Patricia. I’m running late for my meeting and you’ve got a treasure hunt to conduct in eight closets.”