“HE DID WHAT?”
Dell Curry winced at the sudden outburst from Steve Kerr. “I saw it with my own eyes, Steve. Through some unfathomable sorcery, my own son has crafted for himself a new, greater relic – the three-point shooting amulet is remade.”
“But the original three-point amulet was destroyed a year ago,” Steve protested, unwilling to believe these words coming from the father of the Warriors’ star player. “And with its destruction, so too were destroyed the secrets of its creation.”
“Apparently it is not so,” Dell replied. “Yesterday, I saw him studying some some ancient text, a tome of great age and obscurity judging by its appearance, and I suspected his plans. But I was too late, Steve! I arrived too late to stop the amulet’s forging!”
Steve was disturbed, not only by Dell’s raw anguish, but by the very idea that a new three-point shooting amulet resided with the one person who had succumbed fully to its intoxicating effects. The prospect that the new amulet was more powerful than the first, perhaps pervaded with the powers of unknown gods or demons…the implications were too dire to even consider. “Where? Where was the deed done?” he asked quietly.
“Underneath this very arena,” Dell whispered, his eyes wide with fear. “It is possible that Stephen is still there right at this very moment, but he has doubtlessly donned the amulet, and I dare not challenge him while an item of such power touches his flesh.”
Steve, knowing what had to be done in the face of this terrible new knowledge, had already retrieved his overcoat and was pulling it over his shoulders. There was no time to lose, and he had somebody to visit. As he walked to the door of his office, he stopped and put a hand on Dell’s shoulder. “I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you as his father. But you did the right thing by coming here to tell me; if we move fast, there’s a chance — a small chance — that we can avert this looming catastrophe.”
Dell nodded, unable to speak another word. Steve gripped the man’s shoulder once, tightly, then left.
Knowing that an announcement of his intended visit would be met with a rebuttal or even an attempt to flee by the man in question, Steve arrived in Indianapolis with nobody knowing his whereabouts. However, his clout around the league was such that he got all the way to the Pacers’ headquarters, and all the way to the secretary of Larry Bird, before he was stopped and questioned.
“You say you have a trade proposal for Mr. Bird?” asked the secretary, peering sternly over her glasses.
“That’s right, ma’am. Let’s just say, Klay Thompson can be had for the right price,” Steve answered. This tactic worked as expected; at the sound of a name that she actually recognized, the secretary granted him entry to Larry’s office at once.
Steve walked in and closed the door behind him, coughing to announce his presence. When Larry looked up from his computer screen and saw who his guest was, the color drained from his face. “No,” Larry immediately said, shaking his head. “I don’t want to hear it. Whatever it is you have to say to me, I don’t want to hear it.”
“Stephen has created a new amulet,” Steve said softly, ignoring Larry’s instructions.
Somehow, Larry grew even paler at this grave pronouncement. “I thought that knowledge to be lost,” he stammered in disbelief.
“It was,” Steve sighed. “But the allure of the original was rooted deep in his heart, and Stephen went to great lengths to recreate that knowledge, to learn the occult alchemical processes necessary for its forging himself. Even so, I suspect that he had aid from…outside forces.”
Steve glanced around the office to reassure himself that they weren’t being overheard. “No, not that,” he replied to Larry’s unasked question. “Just standard-order demon summoning. That’s the only consolation here – if Stephen had trifled with forces beyond mere demons…it is difficult to comprehend the terror that would follow.”
“So what do you want me to do?” Larry asked testily, regaining some of his usual vigor as the initial shock wore off. “I’m an old man, Steve. I can’t do this anymore. If I put on that amulet I would likely have a stroke.”
“But you would put it on anyway,” Steve murmured. “Because somewhere in that mind of yours, the allure of a new, more powerful three-point shooting amulet is irresistible.” Larry seemed ready to protest, then slumped in his seat. “I know because I, too, feel its draw upon me,” Steve continued, feeling pity for the scared-looking man in front of him. “That’s why we have to work together to stop Stephen. Not just to protect the integrity of three-point shooting in the NBA, but for ourselves, for our own sanity.”
Larry sighed heavily, shakily. His eyes were closed, and it was a long time before he spoke again. “I will help you. But I’m getting way too old for his.”