The interior of the Rain or Shine Magic Shop is so dark that Grace cast her light spell to see what’s going on in there so she doesn’t run into the wall. The sudden flare of light startles the dozing man behind the counter awake. A Sonic bag flies off his stomach as he bolts up and brandishes a spanking paddle defensively and confusedly. He looks uncannily like a young Steve Martin in the face – if you ever wanted to know what the Steve Martin of 30 years ago would have looked like with dreadlocks and several of those years involving drug abuse, head on into the Rain or Shine Magic Shop and take a gander at Izzy. His head jerks around wildly until settling on Sanaa.
“Oh, hey, you came.”
Grace points at the paddle in his hand “What were you planning on doing with that?”
He looks at it like he forgot what he was holding “You know, protecting my store . . . looters . . . and the city is fucked right now, you know what I mean.”
“So if someone broke in to loot your trick magic cards and collapsible rabbit hats, you were planning on discouraging them with an erotic spanking?”
He shrugs “It’s all I have, I’m a man of peace.”
Grace raises and eyebrow “A man of peace who likes wailing on people’s butts in their personal time?”
Sanna waves as she heads further into the store “Come on, it’s back here.”
Grace gestures “Hold up a second, can I talk to the serpent man for a moment?”
Izzy frowns in stoned confusion “How do you know about the serpent?”
“Sanaa told me about it, I know that’s normally not okay but it’s okay in this instance because serpent is a sun sign.”
His look becomes even more perplexed “What?”
“Serpent is a sign sun, that’s hard to say, it’s like a tongue twister.”
Grace looks closely at his eyes “Are you high right now?”
He smiles slightly “Well . . . maybe just a little.”
Sanaa gestures impatiently from the back of the store “Come on, let’s do this, you two can talk later!”
They probably won’t though, not about that anyway, because that’s when the store explodes. If you look into the cause of the explosion, the official reason given is that a backhoe operator demolishing a building nearby snagged a natural gas riser, causing gas to seep into the magic shop where it was ignited. Anyone investigating this who knows anything about such things would know this story is bullshit. You might think that this is a cover-up by some mysterious outside entity that works to keep people from finding out about magic but you’d be wrong.
It is a conspiracy of a sort, the conspiracy of convenience. During the power outage in Fresno thousands of buildings were damaged, hundreds were burned to varying degrees, and a couple others even blew up too. This means a lot of work for the people who have to investigate such things, with the understanding that no one actually cares too much. Everyone knows there was a major situation in Fresno. So after the first dozen or so buildings you look at, human nature is to just start writing stuff about gas risers without even going to the location you’re writing a report about while you wolf down a Whopper and some fries because you’re working a double shift and writing reports on your lunch break and the fucking wi-fi hotspot isn’t working and your boss is climbing up your ass about being behind schedule and your wife wants to go on a cruise and your daughter is dating a Middle eastern dude and you’re not racist but . . .
The real reason for the explosion is of course that Eterno was in the area waiting for Grace to show up. You didn’t think he was just hanging on a hook while all his evil plans were unravelling, did you? You are probably are thinking “whoa, Eterno used magic to blow up a building, that’s hardcore, that seems like way more power than Grace throws around.” You got that right muchacha.
The good news for Grace is that casting a “blow up that building” spell is a little bit different than setting off a bomb to blow up a building. I don’t know if you know this, but when a bomb goes off it’s very fast. Faster than the speed of sound in fact. The speed of sound varies but it’s generally over 760 miles an hour. Which is fast. Very fast.
Magic blows thing up at a much slower pace. It’s more like a punch, which still seems pretty fast when it’s coming at you, but it’s not 760 miles per hour fast. The point being if you’re the kind of person who has quick reflexes, you can see it coming. Grace is such a person. You get hit enough and you start to get a sense of when shit is coming at you. She didn’t exactly see the walls of the Rain or Shine Magic Shop bulge in towards her like a sweet bullet-time special effect in a movie, but she felt something coming. Something bad.
She grabbed Izzy and no-clipped them the hell out of there. What about Sanaa? Well, no body was ever found in the debris of the building so maybe she somehow managed to witch herself out of that jam as well. Or maybe there was nothing left to find. Magic may be slower than an exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy, but what it has going for it is that it doesn’t leave much evidence behind. Not evidence that can be found by non-magic people anyway.