problem with attempting to describe Reggie's room to anyone who
hadn't been to Reggie's room was the lack of words to explain
what actually happens inside. The feeling of euphoria within
Reggie's room was so overwhelming that Troy couldn't remember
how it had arisen.
tried to help: “Let's put it this way- better than sex, almost
as good as sex, or is sex?”
unsettled, Troy replied, “K-Kathryn, you know I've never...” He
didn't feel comfortable saying it in front of Renee, but you get
did you do in there?” asked Renee.
it doesn't do it justice. You have to experience it for
yourself. He's got an opening tomorrow night.”
opening?” Kathryn said, raising an eyebrow.
it's pretty popular. He said he'll let us in tomorrow because
we're friends with Kurt and he heard about our thing with the
thanks,” Renee said, sitting back down on the couch. “Doesn't
seem like my kind of place.” She noticed that Donovan had not
moved. “Right, Donovan?”
narrowed his eyes. “Hmm... the important question is did this
Reggie dispose of the young one?”
gasped. “Oh yeah, where's Yuki?”
entered later, still catching her breath. “Something tells me I
don't think I should be going in there,” she announced. She
headed into her room, then stopped to look at Troy.
“Probably not,” replied Troy.
smiled. She giggled. “Maybe once a term's okay,” she added.
Yuki could get into her room, Molly burst through the door,
fresh off of killing Kurt. She glared at Yuki. “Did he at least
fix your potion process?”
yeah, he fixed me up good!” Yuki replied. Molly shuddered.
Molly, but if Troy and Yuki are endorsing it, then I have to see
it for myself,” Kathryn said.
sigh, Molly replied, “Unfortunately, I am powerless to stop
Reggie's power. Do as you must.”
marched towards her room. Only Renee tried to stop her, asking,
“Do you know what goes on in there?”
course.” Molly stopped. She extended a hand towards Troy, then
muttered, “Nothing but bread and circuses,” then entered her
room and shut the door behind her.
next day, the curiosity had gotten to Renee and she too wanted
to be part of the envoy to Reggie's room. Since Troy was in on
it, and Kathryn was going to be, she had no desire to be the odd
one out. The three of them were surprised when Donovan also
decided to tag along. He had seen Molly's reaction, and had to
know what sinister magic was keeping the commoners so
three hours inside, three of the four left in smiles and
was... incredible!” Renee exclaimed. “Can we do that again next
should hope so,” Kathryn replied, snickering. “I think I left
quite an impression on them!”
say!” Troy shouted. “So Kathryn... better than or almost as
grinned slyly. “Depends on who you're doing it with. This is a
good alternative, I'll tell you that much.”
definitely more fun with friends.”
Kathryn looked at Renee. “But damn... I wasn't expecting that
out of you. Totally blew me away. Nicely done.”
giggled. “Thanks... surprised me too. Didn't think I had that in
Troy began, then threw a hand up. “I'm not going to discuss it.”
All three laughed.
threw an arm around each of their shoulders. “Night to remember,
Renee cried. The word 'remember' triggered something Renee had
forgotten. “My purse!”
leave it back there?”
have. I'll catch up with you!” Troy and Kathryn nodded and Renee
ran back to the room.
passed Donovan on the way. He stumbled out into the hallway,
trying to keep his balance. The time he had spent in Reggie's
room was easily the most frightening three hours he had
experienced in his life. His pace, his breath and his heartbeat
staggered as he tried to compose himself.
scarier than Reggie's room itself was the ramifications of it.
If Molly had no way of competing with the force of Reggie's
room, what chance did Donovan have? It was a conundrum so great
that he had only one observation:
grow stronger,” he said to himself. Unlike Troy and Kathryn,
Donovan was not returning to room 202. He was exiting the
her purse, Renee saw Donovan leave. His steps were methodical
and his shoulders were slumped in resignation. Like most things
Donovan did, she found this curious.
thought about it, Donovan was the only one who didn't seem to
enjoy himself in Reggie's room. Renee was too busy having fun to
ask him why, but it did strike her as odd. This was only a
culmination of all the strange things Donovan did. More than
anyone else in the unit, she felt compelled to find out more.
starters, where the hell was he going? Full of energy after the
visit to Reggie's, Renee was determined to find out. She had
been disappointed thus far by the lack of little adventures at
this academy; now was a good time to start one of her own!
At first, she maintained
her distance from Donovan, eager to see where he was going at
ten at night without actually interrupting him. All the campus
facilities were closed and even if Donovan could be suspected of
attending some late party, all of the good ones were back home
in Hall D. The fact that Donovan was leaving the building at all
was interesting, and Renee was determined to get to the bottom
Once the first gust of
January wind blew, however, Renee realized that she had not
quite thought this out. It was still cold, there was still snow
on the ground and the clothing and the footwear to help Renee
deal with either was back in her room. She couldn't go back for
fear of losing the trail. Donovan didn't have a coat either and
he was still moving. Renee forced herself to continue along,
rubbing her arms for warmth.
She was not satisfied
with her sneaking process. As much as she wanted to hide behind
dumpsters and trees and stay low to the ground, she was already
uncomfortable with the snow on her Mary Janes. Instead, she
walked along the plowed path twenty feet behind Donovan. He
never turned around, so she didn't need cover anyway.
figured out where he was going- the Forest of Unspeakable Peril.
This made her even more intrigued. As the only public campus
locale that had any sort of fantastical quality, the FUP was
legendary. Now the possibilities were endless: perhaps Donovan
had some evil pet that he bred in the woods. Perhaps a secret
society that put a bit more flair into their magic practice.
Even the outside chance that he was meeting a girl (or guy!) for
a quickie. These were all exciting theories and she wanted to
Donovan stood at the
entrance. And continued to stand at the entrance, hands on his
hips. Renee kept her distance, waiting for him to do anything.
She sort of got something- he shivered. This was a relief; at
least he was susceptible to the elements and could either take
time out to dress warmer (allowing her to do the same) or reveal
an alternative that she could take advantage of.
“Sir!” Blaine and Bryce
arrived, dressed for the elements. Bryce gave Donovan a spare
Renee grumbled. “I so
“The hour of judgment is
near and the situation is dire,” said Donovan. “I must grow
stronger, and quickly, or succumb to this evil.”
“That still doesn't
explain why we're out here,” said Bryce, echoing Renee's
Donovan pointed to a
spot on the ground and said, “There.” Renee squinted, but all
she could see was a rabbit. It was an adorable little thing, but
she didn't see how it was relevant to Donovan's ranting, and he
sure didn't seem the type to interrupt his spiel for a cute
Blaine and Bryce watched
it silently. It shook snow off its ears, finding a grassy patch
on the ground to nibble at. Renee cautiously stepped closer. She
may have prioritized stalking Donovan, but she was the
type to interrupt her mission for a cute widdle bunny. That
thing warmed her heart: if it could survive these elements,
maybe Renee could get by a little longer.
Then Donovan summoned
one of his energy balls and launched it at the poor creature.
The attack collided with the rabbit, knocking it to the ground.
Terribly shaken but unharmed, it jumped to its feet and hopped
“What did you do that
for?!” Renee was livid and marched up to him. She couldn't
tolerate such an act, even if she was trying to lay low.
He turned around and
glared at her. “And why are you here?”
She returned the glare.
“To see what you were up to! Is this what you do for fun?!”
“Fun?” he spat, offended
by the word. “This is not fun. These are desperate circumstances
that must be overcome in order to succeed.”
Renee tilted her head,
completely lost. Shame on her for expecting a coherent answer,
and asking a follow-up question. “Huh? Succeed at what?”
Donovan turned away,
hands on his hips. “I fear I had underestimated my rivals. They
grow stronger every day, while I had too much faith in my
abilities. Now I am left with the task of catching up, and only
through many hours of training will this be possible.” He turned
back to Renee. “I do not expect you to understand my plight.”
Renee did. After sorting through his melodramatic rambling, she
realized that she was in a similar position. Renee had come into
this thinking she had an advantage over Troy and Kathryn. Her
passion for the concept of magic and her sister's seemingly
innate ability were supposed to push her to the top of the
class. This never happened. While Renee never struggled, she had
yet to find anything that could set her apart from the rest of
Meanwhile, as evidenced
by the Zukoni battle, Troy was on fire learning the ins and outs
of water magic, while Kathryn's physical abilities held a
sorcery all their own. Renee, on the other hand, was pretty much
useless. She regretted not studying harder during the fall
semester and now found herself trying to find a way to keep up.
Her goal was to become as proficient as Molly. Somewhere in
Donovan's rhetoric, Renee realized that she probably needed to
start working towards that.
“Actually... I kinda
do,” she replied, looking away. “I don't like lagging behind
anybody, but you see what Molly can do and what Troy's
learning... I want to be up there with them.”
Donovan snickered. “The
path to improvement...” He gestured into the woods. “...is
“What's in there?”
“Dark creatures, evil
beasts to test my abilities. They will draw out my primal
instincts, where I shall learn the true nature of my powers.
Only from battle after battle will I gain the insight to
challenge my enemies.”
Again, stupid rhetoric
but again- Renee understood. “Oh... you're leveling up!”
He narrowed an eyebrow
at her, but she went on: “I, uh, know this sounds kind of weird,
but... would you mind if I tagged along? I know you've got Bryce
and Blaine with you, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to have one
more in your party.”
“Hmm... very well. We do
seem to have the mutual quest of destroying Troy Monroe.”
“Um... right.” Renee
quickly dismissed that thought and said, “Just, uh, one thing-
mind if I head back to the dorm to get, uh... fully equipped.
Donovan scoffed, but
assented. Renee teleported back to the dorm to get her coat,
sneakers and maybe a snack.
“Wait... is that
what we're doing out here?” Blaine said.
A quest would imply some
exalted objective assigned from on high. A hunt would imply
targeting one specific animal with appropriate weapons and
(hopefully) motive. An expedition implies preparation
beforehand. So we're at a bit of a loss to describe what Renee,
Donovan and his minions were trying to do in the FUP. A safari,
Whatever they called it,
they weren't having much luck scaring up an adversary. Both held
light balls and waved them about, hoping to find something they
would match up favorably against. In Renee's case, preferably
something evil that nobody would miss.
Ten minutes in, the
woods had been silent, save for branches swaying in the wind and
the occasional hooting owl. Despite the lack of action, Renee
was enjoying herself. She was dressed comfortably, the branches
above provided some canopy from the snow, and the whole concept
of trekking through the woods at night just seemed fun. This
ominous atmosphere suggested that something interesting was
going to happen, and it would likely involve some weird creature
straight out of her fantasy stories.
Truthfully, the reason
for the silence was that almost none of the 'weird creatures
straight out of Renee's fantasy stories' were nocturnal, at
least among those living in Central Academy's Forest of
Unspeakable Peril. According to Mr. Smittle, the academy's game
specialist, there was no sense importing animals that were only
active at night if classes to show students how to identify,
train or hunt them were during the daytime. Besides, stocking
weird fantasy animals was expensive. There's a reason manticores
aren't native to Indiana.
Even so, something was
awake and made its presence felt. Renee felt a sharp, painful
slapping sensation on her left calf. She jumped, shrieked, and
held her light ball down to see what had hit her. It was a
snapped-off tree branch, now lying a foot away. Given where it
had hit, she wondered what had happened. She couldn't have
tripped over it; it was too far away and not tethered to the
ground. And if it hit her in the leg, it couldn't have struck
her from above. The only other possibility...
“Guys, I think something
threw this at me,” she said in a hushed voice, drawing a snicker
“Nonsense. Who would
dare-” Donovan's rebuttal was cut short when a branch struck him
in the knee. Then assorted sticks and scraps of bark hit both of
As the onslaught
continued, Renee and Donovan summoned shields (that is to say,
stood behind Blaine and Bryce). “What is doing that?!” Renee
shouted. She and Donovan were now safely beyond speculating
whether or not something was attacking them.
“It's probably an
argopelter,” said Blaine, magically raising the ground in front
of him to intercept most of the wooden paraphernalia.
“A what?” Renee had a
good working knowledge of weird fantasy animals. But this was a
“They live in tree
holes. If they sense something encroaching their territory,
they'll throw sticks and stuff to scare it away.”
Renee blinked. “Really?”
“Yeah. Otherwise they're
pretty quiet and keep to themselves.”
“That's pretty weak for
a fantastic monster.”
Blaine shrugged. “Well,
they can't all be unicorns.”
A stray stick evaded
Blaine and Bryce and struck Renee's sternum. “But that's all
they can do?” Blaine nodded. Renee cracked her knuckles. “Then
it's going down.”
Keeping the minions in
front of them, Renee and Donovan pushed forward toward the
argopelter's tree. Sure enough, the base of the tree was hollow
and spitting forth artillery. The four flanked the tree, which
in theory should have prevented them from getting attacked. But
instead, a furry arm reached around and threw a twig at
Donovan's ankle. Sensing the four intruders so close, it
desperately slashed with both arms, as if armed with knives
instead of two pieces of bark.
“Allow me,” said
Donovan. Braving the fury of loose impediments, he brought his
hands down to the tree trunk and cast his light ball. The sudden
illumination blinded the argopelter, giving Renee an opening to
reach in and snatch it by the ears.
When she pulled it out,
she saw a frantic little animal, about the size of a woodchuck.
It flailed around, tittering and flinging ammo it didn't have
with its arms.
“That is one angry
argopelter,” Bryce mused. “So how do you plan on finishing it
For starters, Renee had
learned a basic binding spell, which she applied to stick the
argopelter's arms and feet to the ground. Then she turned to
Donovan and shrugged. “That's all I can do.”
But Donovan was already
prepared. He summoned up an energy ball and fired point-blank at
the creature. Thankfully, he threw it hard enough to knock the
argopelter out (that or it fainted), because there was still no
destructive force in that thing.
Renee undid the binding
spell, verified that the argopelter was down and raised her
hands in triumph. “Victory is ours!”
jovially, but ignored Renee's request for a high-five.
“Excellent. Now- on to the next adversary!”
But Bryce had a second
thought. “So, just to clarify- we're out in the woods to fight
monsters to make you two stronger... but neither of you know any
“A mere trifle,” scoffed
Donovan. “If my energy blast fails to dispose of the enemy, we
shall merely incapacitate it, allowing Blaine to deliver the
“Oh... goody,” muttered
“That works for me,”
said Renee. With one battle over, her enthusiasm was stronger
than ever. They could continue to probe deeper into the forest,
battling what they can find, defeating what they can defeat and
teleporting away when they can't.
Donovan, she pointed down the path. “Like Donovan said- on to
the next adversary!”
next hour, Blaine cast a fair bit of finishing blows. Renee and
Donovan rustled up a pack of those shadeling creatures they had
faced in exams. Even without smiters, they had little trouble
gaining the upper hand. They fought, they won, they moved on.
animals they came across were hardly challenging. They
encountered a squonk, a sad little creature so ugly and
miserable that students knew it better as an emo pig. Its only
defense mechanism was melting in a pool of its own tears. This
didn't work so well when the temperature was below freezing.
hodag, on the other hand, had plenty of claws, quills and sharp
teeth. Renee and Donovan got a workout evading it, but once they
figured out how to keep their distance, they felled it
nevertheless. Unconventional as their journey was, it was a good
opportunity to practice routine weaving spells like warding,
binding and shields. Furthermore, this hodag actually resembled
a moderately dangerous monster. Being able to defeat it, even
with Blaine's help, boosted Renee's confidence and sustained
Donovan's over-confidence. Keep this in mind so you don't find
their actions in the next encounter quite as jaw-droppingly
they were deep into the woods. This far in, the magical
properties of the forest had altered the ecosystem to its fancy.
Sort of an automatic climate control to make sure the more
legendary fauna didn't die out in the extremes of summer and
winter. Renee noticed the increased temperature and unzipped her
coat. Donovan didn't seem to notice.
taking a step and submersing a foot in stagnant water, he did
notice that they had just entered a marsh. This gave them enough
pause to stop and survey the surroundings before proceeding.
Good thing they did, because thirty yards ahead, disguised in
the tall grass and under a thicket of trees, was a giant nest.
Cautiously, Renee and Donovan cast flight spells to get an
aerial view of what inhabited it.
gasped once she saw the creature inside. A large reptile with
brown scales slept in the nest, its head buried under one of its
mammoth wings. Its body snaked around the perimeter, culminating
in a long, barbed tail. She added it all up and could barely
God... a dragon!” she exclaimed within a hushed voice.
furrowed his eyebrows, unimpressed. “Foolish girl. That is no
dragon... clearly, that is a wyvern.”
Renee said, but then she took a second look. “Oh... you're
right... I see...” She focused her light ball on the reptile's
lower quarters. It had only one pair of legs, while its wings
represented the other set of limbs. “Yep, that's a wyvern.
landed, Renee still disappointed. Donovan glared at the nest.
“So... how do we defeat a wyvern?”
effectively destroyed Renee's sense of disappointment. Instead,
she did a double take. “Wait, are you serious? We can't attack
not? After our victory over the hodag, why should a wyvern stand
in our way?”
“Donovan, it's a freaking wyvern! I don't know what books you're
reading, but those things have, like, poisonous tails! And
talons and wings and nasty pointy teeth and all that! I don't
care how many experience points we've earned today: we're not
ready to slay a wyvern.”
Despite that, Donovan turned to his minions. “Your assessment?”
wyverns are dangerous. Plus I don't think the academy would like
it if we killed one. They're on the threatened species list,”
nodded. “Blaine and I might be able to take him, but I wouldn't
recommend you and Renee trying it.”
grumbled, but with all that dissension, he had to concede
something. “Very well... we shall wait here and observe you and
Blaine fighting it.”
his life had Blaine more wanted to be capable of the glare.
Instead, he heaved a sigh as he and Bryce inched towards the
monster. “Way to go, Bryce,” he muttered.
sweat it. It's sleeping. I'll just get a binding circle around
it and you can knock it out with... well, whatever you do to
knock out wyverns.”
stopped in his tracks. “Okay then... I'll let you get up next to
it to get that circle down. I'll come in after that.”
Bryce had gotten them in the mess and had no room to argue, he
slogged forward, alone, and climbed the nest. The wyvern looked
even more unfriendly up close; in spite of its claws, wings and
size, it was more snake than dragon. Worse yet, its tail guarded
two eggs. This was a mama wyvern and Bryce was standing ten feet
away from her kids.
nervously raised his crystal and began to spin it. A circle of
this size would require a bit of energy. All he could do was
shut up, do his part and get the hell out before she saw him.
Suddenly, he heard a wing rustle and the wyvern stirred. That
was enough to freak Bryce out. He lost his grip on the string
and the crystal's momentum carried it far, far forward...
smacking the serpent in the eye. Wyverns, of course, were
susceptible to the same involuntary sleep motions as the rest of
us; a little wing movement or a head shake didn't mean it was
waking up. Smacking it in the eyelid with a crystal, on the
other hand, was as good as playing Reveille. The eye opened,
spotted Bryce, and the wyvern lifted its head and hissed
it could make any progress destroying Bryce, Blaine hit it with
a gust of cold air. Being cold-blooded and all, the wyvern did
not react well to sudden cold bouts. Slowed but undeterred, it
flapped its wings, rising into the air with its attention now on
Blaine. It flew towards him, knocking Bryce out with a talon
along the way.
backpedaled, but he really had no chance. Going to the left or
right would have done little good, ducking would have made him
an easy target for the wyvern's tail, while flying was even
worse with the serpent already in the air. Renee saw this,
jumped out of the hiding spot she and Donovan were in, and cast
a protective shield for Blaine.
move on paper, but there were two problems. One was that the
basic shield she had learned only covered magic attacks, which
the wyvern was definitely not using. The second was that Blaine,
out of options, had elected to teleport away. The wyvern lashed
out at where Blaine had been and got a mouth full of bog. It
shook its head, spat out the grass, and saw Renee right out
there in the open. No, she hadn't done anything to it, but by
this point the wyvern was so pissed that it may as well just
attack anybody in the general area. Charging in, the wyvern let
out a shrill shriek.
so did Renee.
instincts took over and she dove out of the way, narrowly
avoiding the wyvern's talons. Of course, agile as she was, she
ended up face down in the marsh and only a couple yards away
from the monster. This was why Blaine had decided against
dodging. Unfortunately, Renee wasn't at the point where
teleportation seemed like an apparent and viable option.
Especially since her trigger was hard to pull off when face down
in a marsh.
wyvern, who learned from its experience with Blaine to use its
talons instead of its mouth, flew higher to see where its prey
had gone. Not very far, it realized. Unable to easily get to her
feet and barely able to turn around to see the thing, Renee had
to settle for shielding her head, bracing for impact, and hoping
the clinic was open this late. The wyvern reared back, ready to
strike once more.
it, Renee saw Donovan charging up a spell. Until then, she
didn't think she could be more afraid than she already was. But
now Donovan was trying something, and that was as bad a remedy
as the problem. She tried shaking her head at him, but her body
was no longer responding. Donovan fired his energy blast at the
wyvern just as it dove after Renee.
heard an explosion, but dismissed it as illusion- a
representation of the pain she felt as the wyvern's claw tore
through her coat and lacerated her right arm. Its second talon
clutched at her shoulders, but released with only a scrap of
coat and no skin. Damage enough for Renee; she clutched her arm
and tried to defy her lack of breath and cry out. She forced her
eyes open to see if the wyvern was finished with her.
still in the air, higher now, jerking around and hissing wildly.
Renee could only draw one conclusion: Donovan's attack had
inflicted pain. Unlikely as it was, two things confirmed this:
one was that Donovan stood out, hands on his hips and smirking
boastfully. The second was that the wyvern resolved to overcome
its agony and charge after Donovan next.
appeared ready and charged up another attack, but the wyvern was
too fast. This time, Donovan could have only wished for a bite
or a scratch: the monster's tail whipped around and drove into
Poison? Absolutely, but Donovan seemed to ignore both, firing
off another shot. The wyvern tried to fly higher to dodge it,
but the ball collided with its tail. If Donovan had any success
with his attack before, he could not repeat the feat a second
time. The black orb fell to the ground. Donovan gestured to try
again, but by then the poison had spread and his leg went numb.
This obviously hindered his spellcasting, especially as he
toppled over into the marsh.
Clutching her wounded arm, Renee tried to crawl towards Donovan
and avoid the wyvern. This was, of course, impossible in the wet
muck, but with Donovan down and likely poisoned she had to do
something. She didn't get far before the wyvern flew down behind
her. She heard and felt every flap from its wings and could
sense it yards away, ready for that last, decisive strike. Renee
closed her eyes and thought that maybe she didn't have to do
anything to help Donovan, that teleporting away and leaving him
for dead was an acceptable option. Not that she could teleport
with a busted arm. Her only two options, really, had been to
stand still and wait for the wyvern to kill her or move towards
Donovan and meet certain death halfway.
explosion rattled through the woods, and again Renee thought it
was just a noise to accentuate the wyvern tearing through her.
This time, however, she felt no additional pain. Behind her, the
wyvern laid dead, although she couldn't see what had done it in.
But off to her side, standing a hundred feet away, stood the
answer of whom had done it in.
academy's game specialist, Mr. Smittle, wore a black coat, black
boonie hat, and the scars of all the creatures that dared show
attitude with him. It was his classic look, which would have
been less frightening were it not for the 16-gauge shotgun that
was also part of his ensemble. He approached Renee, not wading
through the marsh- more like ignoring it.
would normally be the time for Renee to heave a sigh, burst into
tears or hail her conquering hero. But Smittle would have none
of that. “Which one of you bastards attacked that hodag?”
Surprised by the question, but eager to get the pleasantries
over with and turn to the matter of first aid, Renee answered,
“Well... Blaine had the final shot. But he took off.”
He came to get me- said you two were in a fix.”
what about the hodag? We're not in trouble, are we?” Renee
extended an arm towards Smittle, assuming he'd help her up. He
you attacked the hodag...” Smittle lifted his right leg. A
second, larger hodag was gnawing on it, tearing through his
pants with both claws and teeth. The instructor looked at it
with disdain, but was otherwise unflustered. “You forgot the
clutched the hodag with his right hand and tore it (and a chunk
of his pant leg) off his person. He flung the beast into the
distance, pumping his shotgun before it landed. Once it did,
Smittle aimed, fired and earned his second clean kill of the
just you or did you bring friends?” Smittle asked, turning back
Donovan!” Renee brought herself to her feet and slogged towards
Donovan. This was a difficult task, as her clothes were
completely soaked and probably weighed twice as much as when she
had come in. She struggled to stay balanced, since one arm
clutched the other, effectively keeping both out of commission.
Smittle pumped his shotgun and followed her.
the way, Renee said, “Look, you might be wondering why we're in
here to begin with.”
scoffed. “Don't explain. You kids don't respect the FUP. There's
plenty of good shagging spots that aren't near wyvern nests.”
Renee could do was let out a moan of exasperated surprise and
keep walking. She couldn't even correct him. Frankly, given what
they were actually up to, she probably shouldn't have anyway.
was turning purple, was already unconscious, and had fallen face
down into the marsh. Smittle correctly declared that all of
these were bad things.
he's poisoned. Should be dead soon,” he deadpanned. Smittle
stood there, apparently waiting out his prediction.
we have to help him!” Renee was a little more active. She knew
Molly wouldn't like it much if Donovan didn't survive. Besides,
she had her own injury to settle. “Is the clinic open?”
better hope so. You know how to teleport, right?”
but I can't cast anything with my arm like this.”
grumbled. “Jeez, so now I'm a taxi too.”
One teleportation spell
later, they arrived at the clinic's waiting room. A nice,
brightly-lit, carpeted waiting room. Between the marsh muck that
joined them for the ride, Renee's water-logged clothes, the
blood from her and Donovan's open wounds and the fact that
Smittle was filthy by nature, the room didn't stay nice for
Smittle didn't care. He
walked up to the front desk and pressed a call bell to get some
service. Renee gingerly took off her coat and threw it in the
“I hope somebody's back
there,” she said.
Somebody was. Somebody
wearing white pajamas and fuzzy pink slippers. She teleported
behind the front desk and smiled brightly.
“Sorry I'm late!” she
“Woke you up, eh?”
“Nope, just watching a
movie!” It took this long for the woman (or girl- she was either
in her late teens or extremely early twenties) to actually scan
the room. What she saw shocked her.
“Oh my... Mr. Smittle,
is that your gun?! Who makes that model? I want one!”
Smittle cleared his
throat loudly and pointed to Renee and Donovan.
She looked at Renee,
somehow retaining that smile and hideously chirpy voice. “Oh.
Right. Trouble in the FUP, I take it?”
“You could say that,”
Renee said. The exhaustion of the night and her wound was
finally setting in. Plus, unlikely as she was to admit it, she
was genuinely worried about Donovan.
“Say no more! I know
what you two were up to!” said the doctor (or nurse, or premed,
or intern... whatever she was), in such playful manner that
Renee felt sick to her stomach. The added wink didn't help.
She took Renee by the
arm, the healthy one, and led her inside. “I suppose, come on
and we'll get you fixed up.”
“Actually, uh... it
didn't get me too bad,” Renee protested. Compared to Donovan,
she was fine. Painful as the attack was, her coat had taken most
of the blow and the bleeding was fairly subdued.
“Nonsense, I'll take
care of you. What's your name?”
“I love that name!
Mine's Kiki! Now have a seat while I get my tools.”
Kiki led Renee to a row
of four cots. Renee sat down as Kiki ran to a nearby cabinet.
Presumably to get her tools. 'Tools? Did she just say tools?'
Renee thought, suddenly worried as Kiki dug through the
Yes, Renee- tools. Kiki
retrieved a mallet. Not some little thing to test reflexes
either: if not for the head's obsidian color and the handle
sticking out of it, Renee would have mistaken it for a snare
drum. She thought such a large mallet only existed in cartoons
or old prop comedy bits, but then again she hadn't been sold on
the existence of wyverns until tonight.
Kiki carried it across
the room easily enough, but Renee didn't assume that meant it
was lightweight. Hell, Kathryn could probably carry a
sledgehammer like that. The sadistic smile on Kiki's face didn't
“Now hold out your arm,”
Kiki instructed. Renee didn't budge, so Kiki did it herself.
Renee's arm shook. Kiki
restrained it with straps that just happened to be on the cot.
“Does this hurt? Because it's just a scratch,” Renee said,
granted that the 'scratch' was six inches long and still
“Don't know... I've
never done it on myself, silly. Now hold still.” Not that Renee
had a choice. She closed her eyes and hoped she wouldn't feel
anything as Kiki lifted the mallet overhead and slammed it down
on the arm.
Legend has it that
Renee's scream woke up residents of three surrounding dorms and
Smittle later made a personal apology to a group of banshees
that he had once accused of having the most hideous cries on
Earth. When she was finished, and it took a while, Renee fell
back onto the cot.
When she dared open her
eyes she saw that her arm was fully healed and pain-free. Kiki
undid the straps and smiled brightly.
“Now that wasn't so bad,
was it?” Renee was too busy catching her breath to answer.
In the meantime, Smittle
dragged in Donovan by the collar, leaving a trail of blood on
the linoleum floor. “You forgot one.”
“Oh!” Kiki exclaimed,
happy to have another patient. “What's wrong with him?”
“Stung by a wyvern it
She looked over him, his
leg, and his apparent lack of blood circulation. “So it would.
Wonder how long it takes for the poison to kill somebody.”
“Depending on how he's
stung, could be ten minutes.”
“Wow! That's strong
stuff!” Still, she didn't seem too worried. She turned to Renee.
“When did he get stung?”
Renee had calmed down
now, although she didn't feel like moving her healed arm.
Thankfully her watch was on the other wrist. “Uh... ten
minutes... give or take,” she said, trying to be grim. Actually,
she was still reeling from the mallet shot, and relieved that
Kiki had noticed Donovan at all.
Smittle propped Donovan
up on a second cot as Kiki opened a metal cabinet in the corner.
Inside were bottles and syringes of all sorts. She scanned the
labels below each, mumbling to herself. “Let's see...
antidotes... we got Asps, Basilisks, Bees... hey!!”
“What?!” Renee shouted.
Kiki turned to Renee and
proclaimed, “These are in alphabetical order!” Using this
revelation, Kiki proudly moved to the bottom row and found the
wyvern antidote. “Got it!”
“You know how to use
that, right?” Smittle asked.
“Of course!” Kiki
replied, pulling out a crossbow.
Renee wanted to ask, but
when she saw Kiki load the syringe into the crossbow's chamber,
decided that she didn't want the answer. She would get one
anyway, as Kiki aimed the loaded weapon at Donovan's leg, just
below the sting.
“Down the hatch!” Kiki
shouted, firing the needle point-blank into his leg. The syringe
unloaded all of its antidote into Donovan's bloodstream in
milliseconds. Yes, Donovan felt this. His upper body shot
upright and his eyes flew open.
Before he could react to
the enormous pain, Kiki doubled it by yanking the needle out...
then tripled it by slamming his leg with the mallet. Donovan
fell backwards and passed out again.
customer!!” She set the crossbow on the counter, grabbed a
clipboard and approached Renee again.
“So he's okay?” Renee
“Yep, now sign these
Rather than risk finding
out what other little devices Kiki was hiding, Renee obeyed.
Kiki looked over Renee's shoulder (literally, as in her chin was
almost resting on it) until Renee filled out her room number. As
soon as “D-202” was on paper, Kiki walked up to a telephone.
She dialed two numbers,
then turned to Renee again. “Oh shoot... that was 202, right?”
Renee nodded; Kiki resumed dialing.
Renee dropped the pen
when she heard Kiki say, “Is this D-202's Guardian? Hi, I'm Kiki
Riviera from the clinic and-”
Before Kiki finished the
sentence, Molly was standing next to her. “What did Donovan do
this time?” she said.
One look at Renee,
Donovan, Smittle and the assorted bloodstains and medical
weaponry scattered about told Molly everything. Okay, perhaps
not everything. But enough for her to fold her arms and glare at
“Got time for a story?”
Renee said, forcing a bashful smile.
“No. Get some rest; you
and Donovan have class tomorrow,” Molly said, almost mockingly.
“Class? Oh God!” After
an ordeal like that, Renee had completely forgotten that it was
a school night.
“And this is why I
didn't want you all going to Reggie's room.” With that final
word to startle Renee one last time, Molly teleported away,
making a mental note to tell Claude to start trailing Donovan
instead of Troy.