Finnley still wasn't entirely sure what to think about Sylvie, but he needed to focus right now. He was going to work, which really just meant he was going to face Mr. Vaughn. There was too much he wasn't being told, and he needed answers. He also needed a job, so he was going to have to be somewhat careful. Mr. Vaughn didn't seem like the type to get angry, but he could never quite tell.
Even though it was a beautiful fall day, and people were out in the town, they never seemed to be down this street. And despite the colorful sign declaring that Mr. Vaughn's antique shop was open, no one was inside. Finnley stared around at the chaotic collection of objects, getting ready to confront Mr. Vaughn.
The old man came down the stairs momentarily, a bright smile on his face which fell when he saw Finnley's expression. He stopped half way down the stairs and beckoned for Finnley to come up.
"We need to talk," Finnley started, ready to hold his ground. Mr. Vaughn held up a hand.
"I'm well aware of that, Finnley Bale," he replied. "That's why I want you to come up with me."
Reluctant to leave the familiar lower shop behind, Finnley ascended the stairs. On the upper floor of the shop were Mr. Vaughn's living quarters. There was a bathroom off to one side, and a bedroom to another. In the middle, there was a sofa and a few chairs and a table. Mr. Vaughn seated himself on the sofa with a sigh while Finnley took a wooden chair.
"Finnley Bale," the man said again as he settled deeper into the flower print sofa, folding his hands in his lap. "I took you on, not as an assistant for the antique business, but to be my apprentice in other matters. Every once in a while, the store opens in an... unexpected town, a place I did not tell it to open to. That is because there is someone there who I might train in my art- in this case, it was you."
"But sir-" Finnley began, then broke off when Mr. Vaughn again raised a hand. He was frustrated of this.
"There are strange happenings here, so you know that there must be magic- something unexplainable going on. And you know that my shop can be in several different places at once, yes? So the impossible is, in fact, possible. I'm the reason for, shall we say, my peculiar shop. You see, I'm a magician."
That stopped Finnley in his tracks. He passed a hand over his brow. "A... a magician?" he breathed, not sure how to feel about this.
Mr. Vaughn just shrugged. "A magician, a wizard, an enchanter, whatever name you prefer to give me, it is still the same." He leaned forward, eyes laced with concern, bushy white eyebrows drawn together, making wrinkles of his forehead. "I don't mean to alarm you, Finnley," he said cautiously, "but it's the truth. I know many things magical and mystical, and I practice my art with care. Henry, that young man you met the other day, he was my apprentice. I would like for you to become one too, if you agree."
"I don't know what to say," Finnley gasped, clutching at the arms of his chair. Mr. Vaughn being a magician was one thing- he certainly looked the part, ancient and white-haired and wise- but learning magic himself? Wasn't there some sort of consequence? What did that even entail? "What do you even do?"
"I help to keep the world in balance," Mr. Vaughn replied. "Magic is not about cheap tricks, but rather about order and nature. My sister- you saw her that day- came to tell me that something had happened. The balance has been shifting of late, and not for the better. There was another event... the danger is becoming greater." Mr. Vaughn frowned to himself as if in deep thought as Finnley mulled over his words. It made sense, a little. His life had been normal before now. He'd thought it was just the move, but perhaps it was more than that? Thinking about it too much only made it worse.
Mr. Vaughn started once more as if he realized that Finnley was still there. "Ah, yes. I keep an eye on things as well, try to help out. I know all that happened on your weekend escapade."
"Like looking in a crystal ball?" Finnley asked, amazed.
"Indeed," Mr. Vaughn replied with a knowing smile. "Crystal, glass, anything reflective, really." He walked to a corner of the room, picked up a large silver plate, and set it on the table. There were markings all around the edges that piqued Finnley's interest. "See the writing? That's the spell. But it doesn't constantly work; you must activate it with an incantation and use your own power."
Mr. Vaughn chanted a few short words and a light flared up in the plate, sending Finnley scrambling back. When he looked again, the plate was showing Mia in the hospital with her mother, father, and uncle.
"Ah, Fred," Mr. Vaughn said to the plate. "He would've made a good magician. But his path lies with that of his family, and I am glad of it."
"Can it show me Monica?" Finnley asked.
Mr. Vaughn answered, "I know of no such person, but it could show you anything you wanted."
"She helped us defeat the demon," Finnley said, worried that Mr. Vaughn didn't know her. If he had been watching them on their adventure, wouldn't he have seen her? But the man was muttering again, and suddenly the image turned black before disappearing completely. The room filled with silence, and nobody breathed. Mr. Vaughn looked up at Finnley and they locked eyes.
"What does that mean?" he asked in a low voice.
"It means," Mr. Vaughn returned slowly in a voice just as low, "that I'd very much like to meet your friend Monica."