knew Donovan was up to something.
was over in two days and Donovan had been eerily subdued the
whole time, at least when she was around. Undoubtedly, he had
been practicing some things out of the grimoire for the last two
weeks, but she hadn't witnessed anything and Molly hadn't
received any disciplinary reports or lawsuits. But here, as she
watched TV after her peers invoked the fifteen minute rule to
cancel her morning class, every time she looked over her
shoulder, Donovan was positioned outside Troy's bedroom door,
grimoire in one hand and a canister of salt in the other.
are you doing?” Renee asked, trying not to get involved but
overwhelmed with curiosity. Donovan just chuckled evilly and
went about his business.
case, his business involved two salt circles right in front of
Troy's door. After consulting his 'tome' several times, making
slight adjustments to the circles each time, he set the book
down, cast a spell, and stepped back. Renee found this much more
engaging than the trite talk show she was watching.
now... we wait for him to emerge...” Donovan hissed.
you mean Troy? He has an early morning class. He left three
hours ago,” Renee said.
furrowed his eyebrows. “Hmm... and I am late to mine. Bryce!”
the circle and alert me the moment Troy steps into my trap.”
minion nodded in understanding as Donovan teleported away.
Blaine appeared a few moments later to retrieve Donovan's
bookbag, but he too vanished. Bryce watched the circle for
exactly two seconds before joining Renee on the couch.
was more interested in the circle. “Can I see what he did over
I'd have to kill you,” Bryce replied cheerfully.
out Renee didn't have to wait long to find out. Ten minutes
later, Troy returned.
hey. Got out early?” he said to Renee as he entered his room.
Renee and Bryce turned around eagerly to see what would happen,
but Troy was gone.
Suddenly, Renee was nervous. This was a little too clean a
disappearance for one of Donovan's tricks. Bryce teleported away
without another word.
follow Troy for a moment. Donovan had created a teleportation
circle- a nice little spell in Grimoire 17 that sends the
unwitting victim to a specified location. In this case, the
Forest of Unspeakable Peril. Not for long, however, as he found
himself standing in an identical circle. This circle activated
and sent him off again, this time to the middle of the field...
currently being used as a shooting range for fire magi.
screamed as a fireball came his way, but he was whisked away
again to the clinic... then the parking lot... then outside a
classroom... and then back to room 202.
he shouted, but the cycle repeated itself before he saw her
realized that the slightest movement activated each circle. He
attempted to hold still around the end of the third pass. Frozen
outside the lecture hall, he could at least look at one static
image for a moment without getting dizzy. Unfortunately, that
image included Donovan, grinning on a bench across from him.
Troy opened his mouth to shout back, which began the whirlwind
all over again.
Renee's vantage point, she saw Troy pop in briefly for a second,
disappear, then show up seconds later. She wanted to help, she
really did, but countering a spell from Donovan's grimoire was
above her abilities. Reaching in and grabbing him probably
wasn't such a great idea either, out of fear she'd get caught up
in it too. This moral dilemma was tabled when Molly burst into
Fox Business Network,” she ordered.
Molly, Troy's in a bit of a situation.”
Molly would have cared anyway, but she seemed particularly
committed to ignoring Troy today. She walked up to the
television, barely even reacting to Troy's sporadic screams.
helplessly followed her sister. “I don't think we get that
cast a spell. They did now. Renee made a mental note to make a
list of stations to request.
screen, between the news crawler, stock tickers, network
watermark and gratuitous American flag, a news anchor
interviewed Darren Silars. A caption identified him as Golden
Sun's Head of Acquisitions.
screamed again. Molly cast a silencing spell the next time he
with that slick smile, was especially good at hamming it up with
the receptive interviewer: “With our growing commitment to
customer service, what better way to demonstrate it than by
opening a new call center in America's heartland?”
interviewer nodded, smugly adding, “I know I always end up with
someone from India, can't help me, may not be able to speak
shrugged off the aside. “Yes, it's that kind of frustration that
is leading us in this direction.”
cycling through a few statistics on Golden Sun, the headline
appeared to make sense of it all: “Golden Sun, Inc. Opening Call
Center in L. B. Gould, Ohio.”
sweet, we made the news!” Renee exclaimed.
shook her head as Darren went over the virtues of his company
and how they're creating jobs locally instead of outsourcing
like they had always done before.
you find out about this?” Renee asked, noting Molly's dour
contacted me. Golden Sun is run by the Chioni demon faction.”
didn't need to hear any more. She too sat silently as Darren
expounded on his company's move as a big business doing good.
Head down, Molly stewed for a while, turned off the TV with a
spell, then bent over, burying her face in her hands.
must have found out about the book. There's no other reason the
Chioni would muscle in like this.”
at the blank TV, Renee frowned. “You mean they'd go through all
that trouble for Donovan's book?”
stared at Renee, then turned back to Donovan's circle. Troy was
still trapped inside, although much quieter now. Whenever he
passed through, he stared back at Molly with contempt. She
did that?” After Renee affirmed, Molly said, direly, “With that
book, Donovan was able to do something this demented. Imagine
what Darren Silars and Golden Sun could do with it.”
For all of Molly's
griping about the Chioni barging into town, Kurt actually had to
investigate the bastards. Uriel had the same suspicion as Molly:
the demons had discovered where Grimoire 17 was and considered
it attainable. Kurt's job was to confirm this and deter any
efforts to steal it. Obviously, he wasn't being eased into his
Still, he had an
opening. Or, to be precise, Golden Sun did. Insidious as they
were, all that fluff about creating jobs in America had legs.
'Help Wanted' signs went up immediately seeking new blood in the
call center. This was doubly great for Kurt. Not only could he
get in with the company he was investigating, he could get some
money on top of the pittance Uriel paid him.
If, that is, he could
land the job. He adjusted his tie, hoping he had followed the
internet tutorials closely enough to fake a decent half-Windsor.
Summoning a false sense of confidence, he entered the building.
In a hurry, the place
had gone from a calm, stately operation to a dizzying cacophony
of office noise. All of the desks were in use, and everyone
seemed to be talking at the same time, at least two engaged in
shouting matches with customers. Furthermore, corporate planners
were roaming the walkways, running full diagnostics on
everything to plan future changes. Plans for expansion were
literally written on the walls. A secretary rushed Kurt through
the madness to Silars' office.
“Mr. Sempman?” Silars
asked, grinning and extending a hand.
“Yes!” Kurt blurted,
trying not to cringe. Although he hadn't been entered into the
MST's public employee record yet, an oversight that proved
extremely beneficial here, he was part of a magic family. It
wasn't a particularly renowned family, but he couldn't afford to
give away anything.
Problem was, taking off
anything MST-related left his resume pretty bare. Uriel's office
doctored up a brief employment history and provided a few
references in on the scheme, but even that could only be
stretched so far. Kurt was, after all, fresh out of high school.
So, having never punched a clock in his life, despite what was
on his application, Kurt sat down in front of the demon
“So tell me a little
about yourself,” Silars said. Kurt was thrown immediately.
Himself? He knew magic, cars, and the taste of Kathryn's lips.
None of those seemed like appropriate responses. Settling for
the second as background filler, he kept it general- looking for
work out of high school.
Already, he was not
doing well, and Silars didn't make it easy on him, exposing Kurt
as ill-prepared within five minutes. He asked where Kurt was
going to college. Kurt wasn't going to college, but should have
lied and said Indiana. Darren asked about the main
responsibilities of his prior jobs. Kurt recited what he could
remember from the jobs Uriel had made up for him... and nothing
Darren got the same
information from his copy of the application. “Hmm... and these
jobs were here in town?” Kurt nodded nervously. “This number for
your old boss has a 513 area code. That's a Cincinnati number.”
Kurt hesitated. It was
just for a moment, but he froze up, thinking he was busted. A
moment later, he came up with a response: “He got promoted last
year and had to move.” Darren seemed to buy it, but that delay
couldn't have looked good for such a simple explanation.
The rest of the
interview went the same way. For someone who had been so anxious
about his job status for so long, he was seriously unprepared
for an actual job interview. Even essentials like his typing
abilities eluded him. When Kurt shrugged and said he never timed
himself, Darren grimaced.
“We prefer at least 30
words per minute here.” Kurt tried not to look surprised at the
number. He'd probably need more than two fingers to hit that.
At the conclusion,
Darren's final question was the worst of all: “Any questions for
Again, Kurt froze. He
had a million- why were they here? What was their purpose? Any
interest in mystical books owned by local schoolkids? But after
going through the gauntlet of textbook interview questions that
a normal applicant would likely breeze through, Kurt had none of
his own to volley back.
“Okay then. We'll keep
in touch,” Darren said, standing up and extending a hand. Kurt
shook it and wordlessly left the office. He could have asked how
long before a phone call, but that would have implied that he
In all, not a good first
assignment. The concept was prime agent stuff- getting into a
crooked company to investigate demonic dealings. Juicier than
most missions, yet it was conceivable for Kurt to succeed, even
as a rookie. Instead, he was so worried about making the forged
statements work that he couldn't even handle the material that
should have been natural. He wasn't exposed as a fraud or a spy:
he just bombed the interview.
As he took his walk
through the ranks of the employed who had long since passed what
he had just failed, he heard someone call his name. Kurt almost
didn't recognize Ellen hiding in the rows of identical
workstations, but she spotted him and unleashed herself from her
headphones to stand up and prevent his escape.
“Mrs. Monroe?” Kurt was
surprised, but not alarmingly so- she was a person in town he
knew, this was a job in town, people have jobs in town. He was
more bothered by the fact that Troy's mother had secured a job
here while he couldn't.
“Kurt, are you trying to
get a job here?” She seemed surprised too.
“Uh, yeah,” he said,
apparently found that hard to believe. Kurt could understand
that. After all, depending on how much she had heard from Troy,
she knew he had moved two months prior, had secured some work
with the MST, and that by virtue he was far too qualified to be
a phone monkey.
“You got a minute?” she
He shrugged. “Sure.” She
caught Silars before his door closed and announced her intention
to take a coffee break. With his approval, she led him away,
saying only, “Let's talk.”
For all of Golden Sun's
evils, the breakroom was huge. Ellen explained that it was
slated to become yet another office for even more operators. At
the moment, though, the collapsed walls made for a spacious
place to unwind, with a table, a counter with coffee and
assorted snacks, and a little dust from the renovations.
“I need a break anyway,”
Ellen said, pouring coffee into a giant mug.
Kurt nodded. Ellen was
but a passing acquaintance, and he didn't care one way or
another about chatting with her or doing something more
pragmatic like checking in with Uriel. “Can you pour me a cup?”
“Sorry. Employees only.”
She sat down and spontaneously launched into a tirade. “One of
the many fun policies here. Sure hasn't been the same since
these guys took over. I mean before, all the companies I took
calls for were at least decent about making things right and not
screwing over the customers. Suddenly we're swamped with calls
from angry people and we can't help them. So guess who they yell
“Not fun?” Kurt had
already figured that out, but just wanted to make sure.
“If there was anything
else in this town, I'd quit. But you? Eighteen and you're
already driven to this place?”
Kurt shrugged. “If it
makes you feel any better, I crashed and burned in there. Say,
how fast can you type?”
“Forty words a minute.”
She held up her coffee mug. “Forty-five once I finish this.”
After a swig to get herself closer to that mark, Ellen said,
“But there's nothing else available for you? I thought Troy said
you were moving.”
“Yeah, turns out that
was just to a new apartment. With a two-month detour to an
“Okay, so you are still
in the MST.”
In a moment of paranoia,
Kurt looked around the room for any suspicious mirrors or
microphones. He didn't detect any magic in use.
Ellen chuckled. “Room's
not bugged, Kurt. They're not that bad.”
Kurt looked her in the
eyes and her face reflected his cold expression. “Don't be so
sure.” After glancing over his shoulder one more time, he said,
“This company has ties to one of the demon factions. The plan
was to get a job here so I could investigate them. We think they
might be here to steal a... uh...” He paused to phrase it right;
he didn't want to scare her even more. “A local artifact.”
She stared back, gravely
concerned but not particularly surprised. After suffering such a
jolt in her work routine so much, Ellen had no trouble
connecting Golden Sun to evil. “I'm not in any danger, am I?”
“No, no,” he reassured.
At least he was confident in this. “We don't get civilians
involved and Golden Sun won't want to either. Their reputation's
bad enough already.”
Suddenly, she chuckled.
“They probably pay better than the MST.”
“Yeah, I'm just a rookie
field agent. I could have used the extra money.”
“I remember what Frank
took home when he was doing that. Guess we both have to stick it
out for now.”
Kurt nodded, but there
was nothing similar about their situations. Ellen was in a bad
job serving what could be evil incorporated. But she faced no
danger other than stress accumulation. Salary gripes aside,
there was nothing wrong with his job, and loved being back in
town. He was just uncomfortable with being thrown in the
position despite doubts about his ability to defend himself,
Molly or her students should demons strike. As a field agent,
Kurt was no longer shielded by the taboo of attacking MST
students, and he had to admit that it made him a little nervous.
His performance on his first assignment, which could be ranked
anywhere from 'disappointing' to 'epic failure,' wasn't
As Ellen chugged her
coffee as part of some one-sided toast to workplace misery,
Kurt's phone rang. He pulled it out: Ellen was surprised that it
was not just any cellular phone, it was a full fancy PDA device.
“You have a Blackberry?”
“It's for magi. Gathers
data on nearby magic use. We call it a Bloodberry.”
“They have such neat
Kurt nodded and put the
Bloodberry to his ear.
“How'd it go?” Uriel
“I think I need to take
a keyboarding class,” Kurt replied. “I'm not expecting a call
back, let's put it that way.”
“Hmm... for someone
whose job status was in limbo for so long, I would have thought
your interview skills would be better.” Kurt shook his head
unhappily. He wasn't sure if Uriel was joking, but it wasn't
funny either way. “Did you learn anything about their plans?”
Kurt scoffed. As if
Silars exposed his company's evil plans to any idiot who applied
for a job there. “You know, he didn't say anything about that.
He's not a Bond villain.”
Uriel chuckled. “Never
know. Don't most interviews end with the applicant getting to
This time, Kurt knew he
was joking, and it still wasn't funny. “Thanks for the warning,”
he said, bitter.
“Looks like we'll have
reassess our strategy. Where are you right now?”
“Still at the office
actually. Talking with Ellen Monroe.” Kurt looked at her and
mouthed 'the boss,' in case she hadn't figured it out.
“Who?” Though she was
enlightened, Uriel was not.
“Troy Monroe's mom. She
“Molly's recruit? Half
the reason I came over here to begin with?”
“Oh yes, the good one. I
hope you're not having this conversation in front of the
Kurt shuddered at the
accusation. He was innocent, but it still hurt that Uriel would
even suggest something so clumsy. “No, no, she's up on this.
Troy's dad was in the force.”
“Really?” Uriel said,
intrigued by the coincidence.
Before Kurt could
respond, Ellen refilled her mug and said, “I need to get back to
work before Mr. Silars sends a search party after me. You know
your way out?”
“Uh, yeah,” Kurt
mumbled, now holding two conversations at once.
“Maybe I'll see you
around. Whatever you're doing, good luck,” she said, with just
the bare minimum of sincerity. Then Ellen was out the door and
back at her post.
Now technically a
trespasser, Kurt stood up and walked out, returning to the
Bloodberry. “Sorry, uh, yeah, I didn't expect to see her either.
She wanted to ream me out for going for such a crummy job.”
“Interesting. Well, if
you didn't get it, we'll just have to look at other plans. But
that's good to know. I will contact you when we figure something
“Yep,” Kurt replied,
hanging up. He was out the door, across the street, and about
half a block away before he picked up on it, and the moment he
did he stopped in his tracks. Turning back to the building, he
realized that he may never have the right to enter the Golden
Sun's offices again. And his supervisor just learned that
somebody inside not only had access, but was sympathetic to the
All he could do was
shake his head. “I shouldn't have said that,” he muttered.
Chioni really were after Grimoire 17, even Donovan grasped the
apparent danger. He wasn't all that concerned with the evils
they could unleash; he just didn't want to be without his book.
Keeping that in mind, Molly got through to him and he took the
Donovan's first task upon returning from Central was finding a
good hiding place for his tome. One remote enough that only he
or his minions would have access to, but close enough so that it
could be retrieved in a moment's notice. Surely there was a
niche for the book that no Chioni would consider searching, and
the answer came easily.
infinite genius and delusion, the dark room at school seemed
like the perfect spot.
inside during summer break required a certain degree of stealth,
at least in Donovan's opinion. After having Blaine and Bryce
shut down the alarms, Donovan teleported his way through various
closets until ending up near enough to the dark room to make a
break for it. His minions were waiting for him.
alarms were already off,” Blaine explained.
doors weren't even locked. Guess some faculty are still
working,” Bryce added.
“Excellent. What better enigma to fool our enemies than an
unguarded fortress?” Donovan waxed.
opened the door to hide his treasure. Somebody was inside
waiting for him.
Donovan,” Kendrick said, pleasantly, as one would when greeting
someone he hadn't tried to kill.
wasn't buying the friendly attitude. He glowered back. “You...”
I have met before.”
thankfully, had a better recollection. “Uh, Donovan, he tried to
kill us last year.”
up a finger, Kendrick corrected him. “Actually, minion,
according to the official account, Donovan tried to kill me.”
Scoffing, Bryce replied, “Whatever. And don't call me minion.”
stand guard outside,” Donovan ordered. “Clearly he and I have
didn't protest, walking out and shutting the door. Blaine stood
in the corner in case of any hostilities. With the room now lit
only by a light ball in the center of the table and that funky
wall marking, Donovan deemed the environment moody enough for
why have you returned?”
checking up on you. Seeing if you've learned anything useful in
three terms.” Kendrick's smile broadened. “I was hoping you
would recognize me. I would have loved to see your attack
frowned. “Attack magic? Surely you are joking.”
I am. Still unsatisfied with their teachings?”
path to world conquest is long and painstaking. But fate has
intervened with a shortcut.” He held up the briefcase holding
so?” Kendrick replied, leaning in and raising an eyebrow.
But it is to remain secret.”
Snickering, Kendrick said, “Donovan, have you ever heard of the
Freedom of Information Act?” He opened a folder on the table,
filled with forms.
whatever it is, it is no match for my Tome of Vincent Wagner!”
Donovan responded by pulling the book from the case and slamming
it on the table.
was in awe. Not only at the majesty of such a fine grimoire, but
also at Donovan's bravado for putting it on full display in
front of a known enemy.
likely, because Kendrick was all prepared, eager even, to detail
the excruciating process he had gone through to find out about
the book and its new owner. As an organization with such vital
duties, the MST was subject to the same open records laws as any
government agencies. So Kendrick put a few requests in to get
information on significant magic artifacts and their owners,
cross-referencing them with the name Vincent. That's how he
stumbled upon Grimoire 17. Further research led him to discover
that the grimoire was slated for transfer soon. As the heirloom
clause was in effect, the transfer would logically be made to
Vincent's heir. More digging told him that Troy, Yuki and Kurt
were the only locals with a parent in the system, with Donovan
listed as unknown. Kendrick found names for the fathers of the
former three, none of which were Vincent. So the process of
elimination led him to Donovan, and a simple plan to wait in the
dark room until his inevitable return, where Kendrick would
triumphantly explain how he came about this information in one
long, messy paragraph.
that part of the plot foiled, Kendrick was a little upset.
real question- have they taught you how to use it?” Donovan
didn't answer- answer enough for Kendrick. “Because I may have a
few suggestions, if you're receptive.”
wouldn't get an answer, and this time he needed one. Instead, a
knock on the door interrupted any proceedings. For a moment,
Kendrick panicked. Anyone else from the MST, and they'd likely
be more hostile.
in here?” Thankfully for Kendrick, it was Claude.
minion has failed me,” Donovan observed.
threw the door open, clearly in no mood for any improprieties,
but also with the embittered look of a student in good academic
standing in school during summer vacation. Needless to say, he
was in no mood for anything resembling funny business.
visitors allowed. Did you check in with the front office?”
Claude asked Kendrick.
didn't,” Kendrick replied, smirking at Molly's twerpy assistant.
you'll have to come with me. Don't make me call Molly.”
Kendrick's smirk vanished. No possibility of turning Donovan
over, nor sacred book was worth a confrontation with Molly. He
stood up and began walking.
just about to leave anyway. Donovan, I shall see you soon.
Please consider my proposal.”
rolled his eyes, then noticed the book Donovan was paging
through idly. The intricate diagrams within drew Claude's
interest. “What in the world is that?”
snapped back to Claude, eyes wild. “The Tome of Vincent Wagner!”
slapped his forehead and pulled Claude away. “Just some relic he
got from the family attic. None of your concern. Since when has
any of this club's actions been threatening?”
cleared his throat and led Kendrick to the nearest exit. “I'm
just doing my job. Can't be too careful after some punk burned
the garage down last year. Be happy Madame President isn't here
I've met Miss Pearson. Your threat is valid. This is my exit?”
nod, Claude opened the door for Kendrick. Kendrick nodded back
and walked out. “Toodles,” he said, mockingly.
Technically, taking an interest in Grimoire 17 was not part of
Kendrick's overall mission. But on full display in front of him,
the thing just oozed magical energy and only a fool would have
ignored it. He was sure he could justify the expenses of
pursuing the book, so long as he successfully obtained it.
he had confirmed that Donovan held it, Kendrick considered the
task of actually taking it the easy part. He had kept tabs on
him for almost two years and was well aware of Donovan's
penchant for idiocy. The first step was cornering Donovan in a
place where Claude wouldn't interfere. This meant taking a page
from Claude's playbook and stalking his subject outside his
bright summer morning, Donovan was nowhere to be found, but
Bryce was mowing the lawn and Blaine vacuumed the living room
inside. Unsettled by two minion magi reduced to domestic work,
Kendrick sighed and approached Bryce.
roar of the riding mower, Bryce spat back, “Didn't I tell you
not to call me that? Would you like it if I called you demon?”
recall your name. Where's Donovan?”
can see, Donovan's mom has him doing chores today. And my name's
you and...” Kendrick turned to the window, unable to remember
Blaine's name either. “The other one-”
Blaine whatever you want. I don't care.”
seem to have a handle on things.”
nodded. “Perhaps, but he's not leaving the house anyway.
Probably upstairs meditating or whatever the hell he does when
we're not around.”
wouldn't mind if I-”
Bryce declared, suddenly adamant. He turned the mower off and
stepped in front of Kendrick. “Don't even try. He already turned
you down once, so there's no point in persisting with someone as
stubborn as Donovan. You're lucky we haven't reported you to the
frowned. How did he end up with the one minion in the world that
showed traces of a backbone?
luckier than I, min...” He caught himself as Bryce glared back.
“Bryce. If I were reported, I'd have no reason to cloak myself
and withhold my magic. I'd kill you and teleport away.”
thought about that for a second. That was a better reason than
his official excuse: last time Kendrick showed up, Bryce got
stuck with all the documentation paperwork.
“Besides, I'm no longer after Donovan,” Kendrick said, only
half-lying. “I'm after his book.”
dismissive chuckle, Bryce laughed. “Then why are you here? He
put that away for safe keeping. You'll never get your hands on
“Really?” Kendrick smiled. “Thank you, that saves me a lot of
Kendrick went to the dark room. Walking, as he still couldn't
really worried about Claude, but watching for him nonetheless,
Kendrick slinked through the hallways. Then he realized he'd be
less suspicious walking normally as if he was supposed to be
to the dark room was unlocked, thus sparing Kendrick the fun of
smooth-talking a janitor into letting him in. Holding the door
open long enough for the ugly remnants of the prior year's
vandalism to reflect the light, Kendrick looked around. There,
on top of the bookshelf, was Vincent's briefcase.
unfair,” Kendrick muttered in amusement. He expected better from
Donovan than to leave the book in an obvious spot in an unlocked
room in a public school. Plus, as a Hokoni, he was all about
fair fights, be they battles of sword or of wit. But he couldn't
turn down such charity and took the briefcase.
prepared to discover that this was too good to be true, Kendrick
looked down to snap the case open, and instead saw the floor
glow. With such brilliant contrast against the dim light of the
wall markings, he was momentarily blinded. By the time his eyes
adjusted, he saw a circle surrounding him. He took a deep breath
and knocked on its boundary. Yep- a binding circle.
looked inside the case but by now he already knew it would be
empty. Naturally, he was a little irritated that he fell for
such an obvious trap, but also relieved that Donovan was at
least smart enough to create it.
chessmaster himself teleported in soon afterwards, armed with
the true grimoire and a royal smirk. “So... the hunter has been
caught in the spider's web,” Donovan intoned.
a smile, Kendrick nodded his head. “Hello, Donovan. Well played,
indeed. I am at your mercy. Surely your genius is nothing short
“Naturally. You were a fool to challenge Donovan Dunmar, keeper
of the tome.”
Donovan did not use the 'tome' here. He set it on the table and
charged up his own spell. Although Kendrick's fulsome smile
didn't waver, he was suddenly a little nervous. He had seen the
Zukoni battle, and knew Donovan's circles were very strong. But
Kendrick also assumed it was a two-way barrier he was stuck in.
Could Donovan have laid a trap he could fire into with no chance
of his prey escaping?
poured his energy into his dark ball, then hurled it at
Kendrick, who braced himself in case the threat was genuine. But
no- this was a two-way barrier and the ball ricocheted hard off
of it. So hard, in fact, that it bounced straight back and into
Donovan's face, where the ensuing explosion dropped him.
Kendrick's mouth fell open as not only was the attack serious,
it was bad enough to knock Donovan out... thus removing the
circle. He was absolutely agog as he stepped into freedom.
Normally, this would call for some sort of smarmy remark, even
with no conscious soul within earshot. But he was absolutely at
a loss for words.
Thankfully for him, there were plenty of words in the now
abandoned and now unguarded Grimoire 17. Kendrick flipped
through it, casually taking a glance at some of them. He'd have
plenty of time to get more intimate with it. He picked it up,
shrugged, and walked to the door.
he left the room, he stopped and chuckled. Not because his
mission was successful, and not because Donovan had truly
demonstrated his infinitesimal genius. Kendrick had forgotten
something so key that it would have undermined his stroke of
over Donovan's body, Kendrick returned to the shelf and grabbed
the briefcase. No way he'd be able to make his escape with such
a powerful book naked in public.
After five rounds of
knocking, Kurt finally opened his apartment door. Only a crack
though, and even that begrudgingly.
“Molly, this isn't a
good time,” he said, half-wincing.
Molly didn't care.
“Kendrick stole the grimoire,” she replied bitterly, holding
Donovan by his hair and clutching tighter.
Kurt blinked, looked at
Donovan as he tried to appear as poised as someone being dragged
by the hair could, then turned back to Molly.
“Goddamn it,” he huffed,
then shut the door. From the outside, Molly heard him yell,
“Kathryn! Get dressed, we have a problem!”
Other than her eyes
flying open in shock, she had little outward reaction to hearing
that. Although she did yank down on Donovan's hair.
“Unhand me, woman,” he
Kurt and Kathryn were
out, dressed and ready for action a few moments later. Not that
they were at all pleased with the interruption. Still, Kurt
adopted some professionalism. “Where's Troy and Renee?”
“I'd like to keep them
out of this if possible.” Molly sneered at Kathryn. “But since
Kathryn's already here... where's your staff?”
“Yuki's got it,” Kathryn
replied, between slow, cleansing breaths to rid herself of the
dual feelings of ecstasy and the need to ring someone's throat.
Molly pinched her ear.
And with minion-like
response, there was Yuki. “Ma'am!”
“Staff her.” Molly
pointed to Kathryn.
While Yuki unleashed
Kathryn's staff from its container, Molly explained the
situation, which hardly made Kurt feel better. “Well, I did have
them put an ATB up,” he said, later explaining to Kathryn that
meant 'anti-teleportation barrier' and prevented anyone from
crossing it. “That way there wouldn't be an easy escape if the
Chioni made a move or Donovan f-ed up.”
Something on his
Bloodberry raised his eyebrows. “And it looks like someone tried
to teleport out of here recently. Once at the school a half hour
“Enough with the
technology,” Donovan blurted. Nose to the air, he pointed
randomly. “The tome is calling to its master. It is this way!”
Kurt pressed a couple
buttons on the Bloodberry. “Actually... Kendrick just tried to
teleport again five minutes ago.” He pointed in the opposed
direction. “He's downtown. Given how long it took him to get
there from school, he's not driving. But we are!”
He, Molly and Donovan
rushed to his car. Kathryn was a little slower, and Yuki
noticed. “You don't seem to be in a very good mood.”
Kathryn shook her head.
“Funny, I was in a fantastic mood five minutes ago.”
Despite the fortuitous
situation that put the book into Kendrick's hands, he cursed his
luck as he rode a magenta girls' bike as far away as he could
get. It was the only unchained bike on the rack outside the
school that had a basket and his initial escape plan had been
derailed. Amusing as he found Donovan's idea of a trap, the
anti-teleportation barrier was an unforeseen complication and a
teleportation again, in case the ATB only surrounded the school,
Kendrick gave up, pulled over, and cracked the book open. The
failed attempt at magic would have given away his location
anyway, so unleashing the book became less risky. Plus the
rewards were substantial, especially if something in there could
spirit him out of town.
He whistled at some of
the circle spells within. A truly skilled mage could rearrange
the entire cosmos with this thing. If Kendrick could get this to
his superiors, he could only imagine the hell the Hokoni could
unleash upon the worlds. Certainly promising enough to get
himself a promotion.
A twitch of
disorientation snapped him out of his daydream. He knew what
that meant, and it was a potential nightmare: someone had put up
“Oh, shoot,” he
From there, it happened
so fast that he should have used the past tense. Out of nowhere,
a bolt of energy struck him in the side, knocking over both him
and the bike. Kendrick lost his grip on the book, but it only
fell a few feet away, and his first move was to dive on top of
it. His second was to find his assailant.
Yards away, a car pulled
over and Kendrick got a glimpse of a pointed finger from the
front passenger side. All four doors opened in unison and out
stepped his attacker, Molly, along with Kurt, Donovan, Kathryn
Kendrick was taken
aback. “A drive-by shooting?! And you're supposed to be the good
Kurt and Molly took the
lead, with Kathryn to their side and Donovan and Yuki behind
them. Molly instructed Donovan to cast a spell countering any
teleportation attempt. Surprisingly, he could and did.
“Okay, Kendrick, drop
the book and we'll go easy on you,” Kurt said.
smirked. “You know I could destroy it. Don't suppose I could get
you to cooperate with that threat?”
“Go ahead and try. Those
are made pretty tough. And even if you could, we'd just book you
for destruction of an artifact. Plus we won't have to guard the
damn thing anymore.”
To emphasize that this
would not become a hostage crisis, Molly fired off a shot at
Kendrick while he was occupied with Kurt. The blast struck the
demon in the leg and toppled him.
At Kurt's orchestration,
he and Kathryn charged in next. But before they could get too
close, Kendrick drove his hand into the ground, sending
shockwaves out to knock over the pair. Molly fended it off
before it reached her, Donovan or Yuki, but it allowed Kendrick
enough time to take flight.
“You may have the
numbers, but your abilities are still elementary,” Kendrick
bragged, dodging a pot shot from Molly. “Perhaps I should
dispatch you with something from my cookbook.”
Before he could open up
the grimoire, out of the corner of his eye he spotted a small
object heading his way. Kendrick dismissed it as a rock and let
it bounce off his shoulder. That's when it exploded, sending
both him and the book into a free fall.
From her knees, Kathryn
dove after the book. But with a quick, swooping motion, faster
than any bird of prey, something above her intercepted it. A
second swoop in the opposite direction led Kathryn's eyes to the
culprit- and his two associates. One had a handful of the small
explosive stones that had brought down Kendrick.
All three wore navy blue
business suits emblazoned with the Golden Sun logo.