Chapter 1

"You gotta be kidding me." Ellie shook her head disapprovingly, an index finger and thumb coming up to her face to rub the temples lightly. She had thought spending this Saturday night out with her best friend would have resulted in the usual college activities: Shopping for the latest fashions, clubbing and making the boys jealous, or hell even just a night in with a movie. She never thought it would instead result in some shop of horrors.

"Oh shush it Ellie. Step outside your box a little, and look around." Lexi looked up from the leather bound book in her hand, those blue eyes looking about the place as if to accentuate her suggestion. The shop was cluttered full of unusual artifacts and weird trinkets, the place could pass off as an antique store if it wasn't for the more modern items being sold alongside the older stuff. "This place is full of interesting stuff, if you'd just pull your head out of your ass and look around."

"Like?" Ellie responded with a smirk upon her face. Though it was clear Ellie wasn't happy to be here, the smirk remained at least somewhat jovial. Yes, her friend was a college girl with her heads stuck in the clouds most of the time, but she was still a friend. Besides, for every time she was dragged out to some freakshow like this, there were three others in which Ellie found herself surrounded by hot men in some top notch nightclub. Yea, Ellie could afford nights out like these.

"" The leather bound book was tucked under her left arm for the moment as Lexi gazed about at all the items upon the nearby counter. A smile as she went over to pick up a small wallet on display, a faded note card found near the article, explaining what it was. "Like this!" displaying the wallet to Ellie, then turning those blue eyes to read the card. "Property of the late Lenard Guile, 1976. A gambling man with an extraordinary amount of bad luck. Despite his numerous losses however, the man always had money to spend, and always ended up losing it to the casino. This wallet is said to always contain twenty dollars. Should the money be removed, a new bill will be replaced in the morning."

"Give me that." Ellie took the wallet from Lexi's hand and immediately peered inside, finding nothing within. "See? Proof that this place is a load of bullshit. Besides, why the fuck would someone gamble away free money? Just sit on the wallet, pull the bill out, and get rich."

"Some people can't wait, duh." Sticking her tongue out at her friend, going back to the book she was holding. The thick leather bound tome stretched and groaned much like leather would when being worn, the pages inside thick, and written in some unintelligible language. Even still, the history behind the tome captured her attention more than anything else here. "Give a gambling man twenty dollars, and that's twenty to spend at the tables; and the owner of the store probably found some way to suppress its charms, right?" Now, she was grabbing straws, but the girl's overactive imagination was always ready to fill in the blanks. "I mean, he has to, right? If most of this stuff really has some sort of enchantment or curse on it, he has to protect himself. That, and it wouldn't make sense to let someone come in, take the twenty dollars, and then come back tomorrow for more."

"Wow, Lexi." Ellie simply starred at her friend, dumbfounded, unable to believe that those words just came out of Lexi's mind. " Have you ever actually sat down and listened to yourself? Cause the words that spew forth would make most fiction writers envy."

"And you have such a closed mind, the jaws of life couldn't pull it out." The remake made without even an afterthought, offering only a small smile in return.

"Some people's minds can not comprehend anything more than what they see. Others simply refuse to believe it at all. If the former, then it is not your friends fault. If the later, then all we can do is accept her choice and move on." The shaking words of the shopkeeper interrupting the little banter, standing at the end of the hallway comprised in a three piece tuxedo. Wire rim glasses were set upon his hooked nose, and his hair - a mass of thin white strands - combed straight back, showing a deep receding hairline. The smile upon the shopkeeper's face was welcoming, but the downward slant of his gaze suggested something more sinister. "Is there something I can help you with?"

"Uh..." Even Lexi was at a loss for words at the sudden appearance, the demeanor and words of the man enough to still even the most creative of the teenage duo in to silence for a moment, trying to make sense of what was said, and how to approach. Eventually, that book was held up once again, showing it to the old man at the end of the aisle. "Yes, in fact. This book. Know anything about it?"

After a few moments of silence, the old man started down the aisle towards Lexi, a wrinkled hand reaching up to adjust those glasses a bit before gazing upon the front of the book. It contained no words, but upon its center was a insect like creature inside a circle. The creature had six long arms, three on each side, and housed a rather large eye upon its back. Lexi couldn't help but notice now, how the eye always seemed to follow her, no matter where she was in relation to the cover, like one of those paintings with linear perspective. "Ahh. Let me ask you something, child. Do you believe in magic?"

"No." Ellie blurted out with a half hearted giggle to accompany it. Lexi looked back to her friend, knowing that is the answer Ellie was hoping she would say, but nodded her head a few times regardless. "Yes, I do as a matter of fact." Those icy blues still staring at her friend as she said it, as if finding it amusing how the cold minded brunet would react to the reply. Ellie only sighed softly and shook her head in response.

"Then you should know all about spellbooks and the like. Closely guarded tomes of mages that contain powerful spells within." A tap upon the cover of the book in her hand. "This is such a book." The old man turned around to watch Ellie once again before continuing. "Though I'm afraid I know little of its background or potency to offer much more help."

"How much is it?"

"It isn't for sale. What kind of business man would I be, if I sold something to the public without researching it first? Magic is not something to take lightly, my dear. Even the slightest mispronouncia-"

"One hundred? One Fifty." Lexi cut the man off. Money wasn't much of an object with the teen. With parents well enough to provide, and the blonde's uncanny ability to bat her blue eyes here, or offer a pout there, they were often more than willing to hand out spending money, when her job didn't give enough.

"I told you, it is not for - "

"Three hundred." She interrupted again, "Probably more than you would get from anyone else, real or not. How many people come in here believing what you have to offer anyway?" Lexi said as a matter of fact tone, using her free hand to dig out her wallet out of her purse.

"Jesus Christ, Lexi. It's a damn book. Fuck, with that money, you can make one that looks like that if you want to."

"Hmmm" The old man eyed Lexi for a moment longer, then looked back to the book in question. Eventually a chuckle was heard as he held out an aged hand for the money. "I hope for your sake that it is either not real, or you know what you are doing, child."

A genuine smile was offered in return as a pile of twenties, and one one hundred dollar bill was pulled out in exchange for the book. Once the old man took hold of the money, Lexi hugged the tome close to her chest, that smile widening even more as a result. "It's in the best possible hands. I'll even let you know if anything turns up." A soft nod was offered to the shopkeep once again, before the blond turned to Ellie and motioned for her to follow her out of the store.

The walk to the car was one of utter silence. Ellie because she couldn't believe what had just taken place, and Lexi because she was lost in thought about her new purchase. Neither could bring themselves to start up a conversation as they walked out in to the busy downtown street, and worked their way down the block and a half to Lexi's car.

"Ok, Lexi." Ellie was the first to speak, strapping in her seat belt then turning those brown eyes to look over to her friend, her face a look of complete seriousness in an attempt to portray her concern before even asking the question. "Either you pulled one hell of a show back there, or there is something more to you than I don't know. I mean, fuck, you don't actually believe in this shit, do you?"

"Not really." The thought of her act convincing even her best friend issued for a giggle as Lexi started up the engine, strapping on her seat belt before beginning the task of pulling out of her parallel parking. "Why?"

"'I'll even let you know if something turns up?' Gee, I don't know, Lexi. That sounds to me like you are expecting something impossible to happen."

"Well, who knows, right?" A grin once again forming upon the blonde's face as she spoke, as if knowing that would rile Elle up once again. "Sure, in all probably this is a load of shit. But what is the worst that can happen out of trying, right? Besides, the book at least looks really cool, a Halloween prop, if nothing else."

"A very fucking expensive prop, if you ask me." Muttering softly, looking away from Lexi and out the front window.

"Wanna come find out?"

"Find out what?"

"If this thing is real or not?"

A genuine laugh, as Ellie shook her head. "Uh, no thanks. Just take me home. I think I've had enough excitement for one night, hmm? Besides, we got that Biology test to study for. Probably best we didn't get piss ass drunk tonight."

"Alright then, suit yourself." A flick of the blinker heard, as Lexi made the adjustments to head back to Ellie's dorm room on campus.