Molly fretted over her sister, Kurt was left to fret over
fretting wasn't quite the right word. Kurt had no patience for
anyone who dabbled with demons so he didn't care what happened
to Donovan. But as Uriel was responsible for playing district
attorney, Kurt was more or less stuck as his eyewitness,
paralegal and clerk of courts. There was plenty in all that for
him to fret over.
he had to get a detailed deposition from Troy. Then he had to
attempt to secure evidence of a demon contract. A little bit of
coaxing led Blaine to hunt it down and fax it over. Then he had
to scour the contract for anything useful for prosecution. The
small print, transferred over a fax machine, was next to
impossible to read. Kurt read for fifteen minutes, developed
severe eyestrain, then spent the next two hours talking the
potions department into giving him a shot of Lucidrol. It was
worth it as the drug also translated the complex legalese into
something mortals could understand.
helped reveal one point critical to prosecuting Donovan. Or to
be precise, the absence of it: nothing at any point in the
contract specified any criteria or agreement to actually join a
demon faction. It was solely an arrangement to bind with the
vrockrompir and not to do something cheap like pass the curse
back to whomever facilitated all this.
presented with this, Uriel frowned. “Unless he aligns himself
with another faction, he can't be considered a traitor to the
eyes widened. “Wait, you mean we can't punish him?”
of course we can punish him. He tried to kill a classmate. That
just rules out crucifixion.”
was an option?”
shrugged. “I doubt it, but I was planning to ask the panel for
it and we'd go from there. What can I say? I'm old school.”
Kurt nodded. He knew Uriel wasn't joking. The MST took its role
as arbiter of magic justice seriously, and didn't mess around
when it came to punishment. That was fine when it came to
clearly evil masterminds like Kaz Pormoglio and Darren Silars,
but Donovan was bizarre enough to be a gray area. In all
likelihood, Kurt figured Donovan was just messing around with
his pseudo-dark dealings, got carried away and ended up
summoning a real demon that talked him into something he didn't
comprehend. There were consequences to that of course,
especially after what Donovan did to Renee, but Kurt found it a
shame that everything about the incident was so drastic.
say I'm disappointed,” Kurt said. “But what is going to happen
“Probably just a memory recalibration,” Uriel replied. Clearly,
he would have liked more. “He'll go back to town as a normal...”
He paused. Whether Donovan knew about magic or not, 'normal'
wasn't the right word. “...okay, he'll be a messed up, deluded
civilian, but he won't bother us anymore. Between you, Molly and
his minions, he'll be well-supervised as well.”
sure Molly would love the extra work.”
explained it, she's babysitting him enough already. I suppose we
should call her in to get her up to speed.” True to form, Uriel
pinched his ear and went with telepathy. Molly transported in
and looked around; given the discussion, she expected a better
meeting place than an empty lobby area in the main office
building. Somewhere that wasn't next to a vending machine, at
away, Uriel snickered when he noticed that Molly was carrying
the case with Grimoire 17. “I know the rules say you should
always have the grimoire nearby, but this is a bit zealous.”
couldn't care less about Donovan. My concerns, in order, are
Renee, unloading this thing and not leaving the unit back home
vulnerable,” Molly said.
nodded. “Dibs on number three. I'm back on patrol once the
“Tribunal?” Molly sat down.
unfortunately the MST insists on a fair hearing in cases of
misconduct,” Uriel said, sounding like he preferred the old
system of mob rule that fell out of favor in the 19th century.
“The facts are presented in front of a three-man panel. There's
prosecution, defense and all that. Shame it's so tedious. As
commander of his district, I have to prosecute him.”
smirked. “Who gets the honor of representing Donovan?”
smirked right back. “His guardian.”
she rolled her eyes and shook her head, she didn't protest.
“Well, this will be quick then. Burn him at the stake for all I
Smiling, Uriel replied, “This will work out nicely. Kurt here
scoffed when I suggested crucifixion. Shame the evidence has
already eliminated the option.”
that?” Molly thought she was being sarcastic, but let that part
of the conversation slide.
handed her a copy of the contract. “He didn't actually align
with one of the factions so it's not technically treason.”
“Irrelevant to the case,” Uriel clarified. “Code says demons
will be demons and we expect them to try to draw people over. We
only care about magi who agree. Kurt will worry about finding an
instigator when he gets back into town.”
relevant to the case or not, Molly still found it important.
Given the certain result of the tribunal, she considered it the
most important part. She turned to Kurt, unwilling to let it
stop there. “Any suspects?”
really looked into it,” Kurt replied. “I sent a copy to the
investigators, but it'll take them a week to draw any
conclusions. Why? Thinking it was the Hageshoni?”
nodded. “Could be something they'd pull. Although we lost track
of Kendrick again too, didn't we?”
yeah, haven't heard from him since he escaped the Chioni. But
Donovan's blown him off so many times and we've marked him so
hard I can't see him coming back for another try.”
he has proven to be very stubborn in avoiding detection,” Uriel
said. “Utterly invisible. Quite frustrating.”
moment, an epiphany struck Molly. It was intense, rippling
through her brainwaves and shaking the foundation that started
this whole mess. In a word (or three), it changed everything.
Uriel and Kurt went on to more procedural chit-chat and refused
to let Molly air it out. She'd have to let it linger in the back
of her mind, letting it gestate until it revealed the true
had any hope of pondering her sudden realization about Kendrick,
it was gone when Mr. Smittle and Mr. Marlowe 'just happened' to
walk by. Don't mistake the literary equivalent of air quotes
there for something sinister or a gross manipulation of the
human course of events. But after his stunts with Yuki and Kurt,
we're not putting anything past Marlowe.
looks important,” he said, cheerily.
really,” Uriel replied, “We're in agreement that Donovan should
be dismissed and recalibrated. Sort of an involuntary plea
“Excellent. So it's all settled.”
coughed and held up the briefcase. “Nothing is settled. I'd
still like to know what you're doing with the grimoire. You
don't expect me to keep it, do you?”
be arbitrated at the tribunal,” Marlowe replied, helpfully.
glanced at him, a little annoyed. “And now that you bring it up,
there's a bit of a problem with that too. Donovan still
technically owns the grimoire. You're just guarding it for him.
Normally, the only way for him to lose it would be treason.”
stared blankly. “So because he didn't actually sign with a
nodded unhappily. “No crucifixion, no burning at the stake, and
God only knows what happens to the book.”
“Unbelievable,” she muttered.
out for anybody with the balls to trick a demon into fusion, but
still plays for our team,” Smittle said, snickering. “I know
some fellows who've tried it, though demons usually run off when
I approach them with an offer.”
narrowed his eyebrows. “Yeah, but do they usually try to kill
somebody in the process?”
shrugged. “How else are you going to fuse with a vrockrompir? If
I was his guardian, that's how I'd defend him.”
his guardian isn't that sympathetic,” Molly muttered. “Now can
we all agree that Donovan should not possess this book?”
Marlowe nodded. Uriel did as well, but added, “Of course, but
it's not up to us.”
lifted her chin. “Of course it is.” With a slight smirk, she
explained, “You're the prosecution. I'm the defense. Kurt's the
field agent responsible for the discovery process. The panel
can't arbitrate something it doesn't know about, right?”
and Kurt furrowed their eyebrows and turned to each other.
Before they could respond, Marlowe's face lit up. “That's
you'd approve,” Molly mumbled.
problem is Donovan would still possess the book,” Uriel said,
shaking his head.
legally, but he doesn't actually have to have it,” Marlowe
can't have it either as she would no longer be his guardian.”
sneak it into storage then! Nobody will miss it for a few years.
And if someone does, it would be Kurt's responsibility to get it
ruins the plan,” Kurt stated plainly.
held up a finger. “In this case, 'Donovan' would refer to me
sneaking it back out of storage and FedEx-ing it to you.”
shook his head. “You realize if you are caught, you'll be in
almost as much trouble as Donovan. Conspiracy to control a Class
A artifact is quite serious.”
would prosecute these two?” Marlowe asked, pointing at Kurt and
“Perfect!” he cheered. Uriel rolled his eyes.
wasn't nearly as excited. It was a bit seedy, after all. But to
keep the grimoire away from Donovan and herself for good? She'd
gladly risk any number of demerits for that. She handed Marlowe
the grimoire with no lack of resolve.
you! I'll take good care of it for him.” Marlowe smiled at Uriel.
“And I know U's going to be a good sport about this, even if we
stared at the ceiling. “Unfortunately, I can't argue that it
isn't a utilitarian approach. A mockery of all artifact
protocol, but it does simplify things.”
much are you going to pay me not to blab to the high council
about it?” Smittle asked. All three stared at him.
patted his shoulder. “We'll talk later. I'll make it worth your
student affairs dean rubbed the dirt off his palm, Molly turned
to Smittle. “As for you, what's the update on Renee?”
huffed. “Depends. Remember all that stuff about embedding the
soul of a dead monster inside her to take the blow?”
“Unfortunately, yes. I was hoping they had come up with
it's a pansy's approach, but the doctors think they can enchant
a rune or something and get that to absorb the curse.”
moment, Molly was silenced. She wasn't expecting an answer that
actually sounded decent. Not entirely though- “But then she'd
have a cursed rune embedded to her... wherever you put it.”
“Forehead.” Molly blinked. Knowing Renee, she'd actually find
that fashionable. Smittle went on, “But once it's clear, they
can remove it. They've never tried it before, but they sound
it doesn't work?”
grinned. “I'll have a shadeling ready to go. Sooner we do it,
the more time they've got to try again if they eff up.”
sighed. It still seemed unpleasant. “I suppose there are no
unless you want to go straight to the shadeling.” Smittle paused
and glanced at Molly, just in case she changed her mind about
having a dead demon inside her sister. She did not. “Only thing
is, since it's their first try with it, they'd like to keep her
here for a while to examine her.”
long's a while?”
academy session if possible.”
tricky. That meant all of December. That meant the holidays.
That meant a lot of logistical problems. “Any chance of at least
getting home for Christmas?”
they can try to arrange something.”
conditions then.” Molly said, pointing at him. “One- I stay too.
I'm not sticking her here for a whole month.”
you have school?” Smittle said. Marlowe, Kurt and Uriel all
broke out laughing.
two- somebody else has to explain it to our parents.”
frowned. That wasn't his forte. He wasn't sure who could
possibly explain a month-long absence on top of the scheduled
three-week furlough in January.
Thankfully, he did know someone who was suddenly in his debt.
long conversation, Marlowe came through: “I absolutely
understand, Mrs. Pearson. But we have more business than usual
this time around for your daughters and need to put it
somewhere. Based on your suggestions we will definitely review
our policy to avoid the Chinese new year when spilling over.
Yes, you'd rather avoid Christmas, but our director Mr.
Wang feels differently. Molly and Renee thank you for your
as magic healing techniques went, Renee's operation was along
the lines of a kidney transplant. Smittle wasn't joking about
doing it quickly: once Molly agreed to it, it was arranged the
very next morning. Renee was conscious during the preparations,
which wasn't necessarily a good thing. It took place in the
demonic studies facility, which had all the wicked-looking
gadgetry of a modern operating room, without as strong a focus
on sterilization. The room was gray, with the surrounding
shelves littered with assorted sundry jars filled with various
humors, miscellaneous body parts, and the occasional dark
creature soaking in formaldehyde.
above Renee was a glowing red ring, which she assumed was part
of some laser technology that would help embed whatever needed
embedding with no surgical incisions. Then she happened to cast
her eyes downward and realized it merely projected a perfect
circle on the floor. In fact, a practitioner was using it to
trace one. Worse, Renee knew who the practitioner was.
you're helping with this?”
Kiki chirped. “I knew if I stayed here long enough I'd get to do
something awesome! Oh God, Renee, this is going to be so much
Suddenly, Renee feared for her life. “You're not in charge, I
Kiki pouted. “What do you mean? Don't you trust me?”
just hoping this whole embedding process was done through magic
and not... like, a hammer or something.”
course it's magic! And you'll be fine. But you have to hold very
still. And that's where I come in!”
raised an eyebrow at Kiki. If her job was to be reassuring and
keep the patient calm, mission failed. Somehow Renee got the
sense that wasn't Kiki's method.
you're going to harness me down?”
We're going with anesthesia today.”
handle that...” Renee said, sighing. With magic, that was easy
to swallow. What's a sleeping potion between friends?
down, open your mouth and say 'aah,' and you won't feel a
the command was, Renee did so. She could handle being put under
if it made the process that much easier.
Kiki stuck a pistol in Renee's mouth, smiled manically and
shouted, “Nighty night!” Kiki pulled the trigger and the patient
was prepped for surgery.
home, all Troy, Yuki and Kathryn could do was worry. For the
next couple days, Troy and Yuki had trouble thinking of anything
but Renee's situation. They'd all been scraped up before in
battle, so they knew how dangerous the job could be at times.
But the sight of Renee after the attack was something else
entirely. More troubling was the way Molly and Kurt had looked
at her and were just as helpless.
never called home to keep them up to speed. In fact, besides an
e-mail to Claude giving him temporary command of the school, she
hadn't contacted anybody. Kurt did his best to keep Troy
informed, but as there was an ongoing investigation involved,
even he could only give out so much. Other than saying that
Renee had a deadly curse that required a major operation and
that Donovan was in moderately-serious trouble, Kurt could only
answer everything else with “that's classified.”
going to school pretty rough. Troy's worrying rubbed off on
Marie and Kamila. Soon they were asking questions about where
Renee was and without Molly to establish what the 'facts' were,
Troy was going to have to do it.
“Surgery?” Marie repeated, squeezing Troy's hand. “On what?”
know. I heard it from Kurt. He heard it from Molly. Molly
doesn't spill much,” Troy said.
think Renee would have mentioned that last week,” Kamila said.
“She goes on about everything else. How come Kurt's the first
one to know?”
narrowed an eye. “And of all people, Pearson only told Kurt?”
Kathryn said. She was seething enough as it was. Yes, she was
worried about Renee too. But like it or not, her mind kept
straying to Molly and Kurt alone at the academy. She knew it was
petty. She knew she was reading too much into it. At times, she
even recognized it as jealousy and chided herself for it. After
all, she had Kurt every moment he wasn't working, and he was off
the clock far more often than he was on it. None of that changed
the fact that this bothered her as much as Renee's situation.
okay, Kathryn?” Marie asked. Kathryn didn't answer. “Don't read
too much into it, okay? I mean, do you really think Kurt would
leave you for someone like President Pearson?”
the problem. Marie intoned it perfectly: of course Kurt wouldn't
do that. Kathryn knew she was a better catch, better lover and
better person than Molly. Yet her answer to the question would
have been yes all the same. Worse yet, now Marie and Kamila were
asking about it, and they didn't even know why Molly and Kurt
associated with each other. With Renee as the story's headline,
the rumor mill would churn, with 'Molly told Kurt' as the
primary source. Kathryn knew she'd be fielding questions about
that in the locker room.
a direct answer to the question, Marie continued, “Really, if
you get worried about stuff like that, it'll eat you alive. You
just have to believe he loves you enough, no matter what else is
thrown his way. Right Troy?”
turned to face him, but he was still deep in thought about the
whole situation and not paying much attention. “Troy?” she
Troy said, startled. “Sorry, I kinda spaced out there.”
mind,” Marie huffed. Troy shook it off and shot right back into
hey, do you guys want to sign Renee's card?” Yuki asked, pulling
a greeting card from her satchel. “Kathryn and Troy already
uh... sure,” Marie replied, suddenly quieter than before. She
took the card and a pen and saw that it was indeed a generic get
well card and indeed already bore Kathryn and Troy's signatures.
Along with two more...
looked at Yuki, puzzled. “Who are Blaine and Bryce?”
chuckled nervously and answered, “Donovan's minions. Don't ask.”
their normal policy with anything concerning Donovan, Marie and
Academy did not have a fancy courtroom in its halls. Tribunals
were often subdued, one-sided affairs that required little
flourish or luxury. On the surface, Donovan's case was no
different. So it was heard in a small chamber of the main hall,
with little more than two rows of chairs, one behind a long
table, and a raised platform on the other side for the panel to
show some display of superiority. Even so, the room served board
meetings and small classes just as effectively.
to admit he hoped for better. The final injustice in this messy
incident was that Donovan's fate was to be deliberated in such a
stuffy multipurpose room. The aesthetics weren't just for his
own viewing pleasure: he knew Donovan responded to flair. A big,
dramatic courtroom showdown in a big, dramatic courtroom might
have clued Donovan in to the severity of his crimes. Instead,
the MST treated the proceeding as a formality, with none of the
litigants planning to make it into a show. There would be no
echoes of Perry Mason, Atticus Finch or Phoenix Wright here.
was in spite of the fact that it finally dragged the academy's
head honcho out of the woodwork. As Central Academy served as
the primary headquarters for all magic activity between the
Appalachians and the Great Plains, any acts worthy of a court
marshal went through its upper administration. Not that
Chancellor Thomas Whalen was thrilled to be there. He sat at the
center of the platform, his elbow on the table and his chin on
generally ran a pretty smooth ship; his calm demeanor and
reputation for rationality put him somewhere between 'above
average' and 'non-entity' among critics. In the rare moments
when he did raise a hand, it was decisive and sure to get
attention. Sort of the Dwight Eisenhower of magic school
chancellors. Normally, this Laissez-faire approach would be
subject to criticisms of laziness, but as Chancellor Whalen was
a heavy-set African-American, such criticisms remained unvoiced
for fear they would be taken the wrong way. That gave him just
enough extra freedom to keep the facility moving forward.
he didn't have better things to do than preside over Donovan's
tribunal. Clearing his throat and sighing, Whalen began the
proceedings with all the fervor of a man who just wanted to get
this over with. “Okay, let's get going. This is MST vs. Donovan
Dunmar. Chancellor Thomas Whalen presiding. Let's get everyone
on the record.”
giving the names of the other two panelists to the enchanted PC
transcribing everything, he pointed to Uriel, who promptly stood
from behind the table and declared. “I am Uriel. Fourth District
raised an eyebrow. “Do you have a last name?”
Uriel looked around. All eyes were on him, looking impatient. He
sighed and, a little ashamed, admitted, “Jones.”
his head, Whalen moved on to the next entry: “Kurt Sempman,
Field Agent for L. B. Gould, Ohio.”
paused for a moment, his mouth hanging open. “Do you know where
can't explain it.” Whalen nodded, letting it die there and
getting Molly and Donovan on the record.
didn't cooperate at first. Two glowing bracelets around his arms
prevented any magic energy from reaching his hands. Plus Molly
subversively kept a silencing spell on him whenever he wasn't
addressed. So he was feeling a tad repressed. At the advice of
his council (more accurately, Molly stepping on his foot), he
muttered his name.
that, the fun began. Kurt presented the details of the incident,
mostly using Troy's testimony. Besides the most severe attack on
Renee, Kurt made sure to emphasize that Donovan attacked him as
well, along with Troy and Molly.
Kurt was finished, Whalen nodded and turned to Molly. “Any
discrepancy with the testimony?”
sir,” Molly replied.
“Awesome. Makes this easier,” Whalen muttered, turning to Uriel.
“Okay, Jonesy, any idea why Dunmar did this?”
glared at Whalen for a moment, deathly afraid that he had just
gotten a horrible new nickname. Shaking his head, he stated,
“Insubordination over a recent sanctification procedure. An
unknown Hageshoni operative planted an enchanted mark in what
Donovan deemed his personal space. The procedure to remove it
tried to shout something back, but the silencing spell held.
Whalen also wasn't looking at him, instead narrowing his
eyebrows at Uriel. “Really? He would fuse himself with a demon
I'm afraid Donovan has a history of irrational behavior, some of
which directed at me personally.”
moment, Uriel panicked. Mentioning Donovan's attack at the end
of the Chioni battle (and his subsequent exoneration) would mean
mentioning the grimoire. He turned to Kurt for a moment, calmed
down and found an answer, “Oh trust me, he's been a head case
since he signed on. To detail his incidents would take forever.
We don't want to be here that long.”
don't,” Whalen concurred, nodding. “Yet you're only asking for
he did not actually commit the treason of aligning with a
faction. A demon apparently gave him this power just for the
hell of it... literally. In light of that, I'd settle for
expulsion, memory recalibration and washing our hands of him.”
didn't bother to stand up. “Fine by me.”
narrowed an eye. “I recognize that this is a special
circumstance given your relation to the victim, Miss Pearson,
but remember that losing a member of your unit does put it at a
disadvantage when fighting for future projects and job
“Actually, we took in Yuki Shizuka, so we have a surplus right
oh yeah.” Whalen couldn't argue that. He was well aware of that
circumstance. Still, he wasn't satisfied. “Look, I know it goes
against protocol, but I'd like to hear from the accused
pleading the fifth,” said Molly, firm.
you're silencing him, Molly. I'd feel better hearing him at
least attempt to defend himself. Judging by the testimony, it
will be even more incriminating.”
short standoff, Molly relented and Donovan finally got to speak.
Loudly, he cried out, “This trial is a mockery! Why are you not
prosecuting the crime of denying me my dark room, restraining my
powers, and forcibly separating me from the Tome of Vincent
moment, everyone at the table who wasn't on trial felt their
stomachs turn as the grimoire forced its way onto the record.
Normally, Donovan's raised voice would be grounds for Whalen to
bang his gavel, but the chancellor was so stupefied he forgot
that he had one. Thankfully, it wasn't about Grimoire 17. He
turned to Molly and shrugged. “I was wrong. That doesn't make me
feel better. Good call with the silencing spell.”
Kurt and Uriel all breathed again. Donovan mentioning the book
was the only reason they were shutting him up. Thankfully,
Whalen didn't seem to notice.
“Vincent Wagner? Let me guess- you're related to him?”
my father and the tome belongs to me,” Donovan muttered.
rolled his eyes, but the other panelists leaned in and started
whispering to him. Molly and Kurt heard a few words repeated
often, namely 'grimoire,' 'hearloom' and 'artifact.' Their
they broke huddle and Whalen asked Kurt, “Mr. Sempman, am I to
understand that Donovan is entitled to a major artifact?”
yessir,” Kurt peeped.
huffed. “Jonesy, were you planning on telling us this?”
exhaled and calmly replied, “As there was no treason involved, I
didn't think the status of the artifact could be deliberated at
this tribunal. If Donovan is found guilty and recalibrated, it
would be a dusty attic case.”
shuddered. She knew what 'dusty attic' meant. In fact, everybody
does. Powerful artifacts often reside among those who do not
know, or no longer know, about magic. 'Dusty attic' is often
invoked as an effort to protect the artifact, punish the mage or
get some pesky object out of sight. So any time you or one of
your friends stumble across a magic book, wand or wardrobe while
rooting through someone's house, now you know how it got there.
Whalen nodded. “Perhaps, but we still need to know about it.
Even if it does end up in the attic, there's filings involved to
put it there and keep tabs on it.”
moment, it all added up for Molly. Everything- Kendrick, a
grimoire in 'dusty attic' state, Donovan and his impending
punishment all fused together to create a situation she couldn't
allow. “Time out!” she cried.
isn't a basketball game, Miss Pearson,” Whalen said sternly.
Then he shrugged. “Although since you called for it, in light of
this new wrinkle I'd like to convene with the panel for a few
moments. This isn't so routine anymore. Fifteen minute recess.”
moment he banged his gavel, Molly bound Donovan to his chair and
joined Kurt and Uriel outside.
that was just great,” Kurt muttered. “What should we do now,
glared back. “Call me that again and I'm docking your pay.”
wasn't expecting Whalen to actually care about this,” Molly
said. “You didn't tell me he was competent.”
Shrugging, Uriel complained, “Unfortunately, he does have a
stubborn insistence to actually do his job. Puts you two in
quite a fix.”
just us? You're in this too,” Kurt said. “Besides, why is dusty
attic a problem? That's what would have happened anyway.”
but now they'll actually check on it, make sure Molly actually
signs the book back over to Donovan and require you to make it
one of your routine security checks.”
can't let that happen,” Molly reiterated.
shook his head. “Molly, your plan was meritable. I'd prefer it
in storage over Donovan's attic as well. But that's against our
protocol and you'd do well to stop fighting it before you end up
in serious trouble. We'll just have to get the book back from
Marlowe and follow orders.”
walked away, telepathically contacting Marlowe and finding a
do you have any clue who signed Donovan yet?” Molly asked.
you, it didn't matter,” Kurt replied.
if it's Kendrick.” After trying in vain to get anything out of
Kurt, Molly gave up and re-entered the chamber. “Donovan, did
that idiot Kendrick sign you up for this?”
shot Molly a nasty look. “Of course. I was a fool to trust him,”
Molly recognized the moment of apparent remorse, he added, “His
creature was far too weak for my goals.”
shook it off and abandoned him in the room. “Now why didn't I
think of that?” Kurt asked.
“Kendrick might be more dangerous than the Hageshoni,” Molly
scratched his head. “Why do you say that? We've beaten him how
many times now?”
but we haven't caught him yet.”
yeah, I know.” Kurt downplayed that, seeing as catching him was
mainly his job. “But like Uriel said, he cloaks himself too
why didn't he do it the first time?” Molly asked, shooting him a
look. “He made an offer to Donovan hours before he sent that
hell hound that got them all roped into this. And he did it
we weren't looking for him at the time.”
untargeted demon would keep himself cloaked when we're nearby.”
still wasn't catching on. Or if he was, he was derisive about
it. “What, you're saying he wanted us to know he was there?”
nodded. That was consistent for a Hokoni, after all. “He wanted
to announce his presence. He wanted us to overreact. He wanted
Donovan exposed and enlisted.”
deeply, Kurt shook his head. One question still remained: “Why?”
Molly couldn't answer it. “I don't know,” she replied. “But he's
certainly been pesky enough. He turned the Zukoni on us. He
found out Donovan had the book...”
public record, Molly. Enough digging on Moogle could turn that
enough to dig for it. And he knew where to look. Whatever he has
in mind, he knows our protocol inside and out.” She paused and
took a deep breath before delivering the punchline: “That has to
be why he let Donovan bond with a demon with no allegiance to
it. Kurt's eyes shot open and he pointed to the chamber. “You
Donovan aligns with the Hokoni, he'd lose the book and wouldn't
touch a spell for the rest of his life. The way it's shaped up
now, he'll be a clean slate with Grimoire 17 sitting in his
attic.” Molly narrowed her eyebrows. “It's very possible
Kendrick's anticipating this.”
fell back against the wall, letting his head collide almost
intentionally. “So in other words, we need to stop that from
gave a grim nod. Nice that he understood, but they still needed
to think of a way to do it.
the chamber, Molly still didn't have an answer for the puzzle of
how to avoid this dirty attic ruling. Good thing Chancellor
Whalen misinterpreted her completely. His first words upon
reconvening were, “Now, Miss Pearson, should we take that
outburst to mean you weren't aware that the artifact would get
dirty attic status upon Donovan's recalibration?”
sir,” Molly replied. When in doubt, perjury was always an
turned to Uriel. “See, Jonesy, this is why you need to mention
this stuff. According to the record, Molly is currently holding
the book for security reasons. As she would no longer be
Donovan's guardian, she could no longer do that. It's not really
fair for the defense to not be fully informed of-”
“Objection!” Uriel barked. Whalen raised his eyebrows, either
amused or offended by the outburst. Still, withholding evidence
was a pretty serious allegation and now that the collusion plans
were off, Uriel wasn't standing for it.
is fully aware of...” As Uriel tried to explain, he turned to
Molly. Molly returned the glare. “...what she's doing,
sir. Carry on.”
looked away, annoyed for a moment before asking, “Then why'd you
uh... always wanted to say that,” Uriel replied, suddenly
his eyes back to Molly, Whalen continued, “I take it you have a
problem with giving it dirty attic status?”
Molly answered, firmly. By now, she had come up with something
to work with. “As you may or may not know, we have received an
abnormally high level of demonic activity within the last two
years. Factions have made plays to convert Donovan, kill
Donovan, steal the grimoire... everything. Fact is, neither of
the two are safe in L. B. Gould, especially with Donovan
recalibrated and the book in a dusty attic.”
relocation an option? Get them out of town?” Whalen asked.
Donovan has proven himself very dangerous. Doubly so with the
grimoire. No matter what the situation, Donovan and Grimoire 17
together are a grave threat. If they cannot be separated by this
court, then I will have to suggest imprisonment or exile.”
sneered. “You will not rest until I am defeated, will you?”
right I won't,” Molly spat, not looking at him.
Whalen a moment to process such suggestions. Even with his
crime, imprisonment or exile were very severe punishments for
Donovan. Especially since his defender proposed them. “Uriel?
Got anything for that?”
was at a loss too. “Look, you know I'm all for throwing the book
at him. But the book's not that thick. Even if there are
previsions that allow for something that extreme-”
attacked my sister!” Molly shouted. Whalen banged his gavel.
standing, Uriel continued, remaining deliberate. “He was likely
under demonic influence, particularly as it was a vrockrompir
and it was his only means of survival. Furthermore, my office
already had to put in extra hours to explain to Donovan's family
where he's been all this time. If you're suggesting that he put
Donovan away until he loses the book, that's six years. Out of
the question.” Uriel huffed once and sat down angrily.
clutched his forehead. “So... the defense wants something harsh
and the prosecution is sticking up for him.”
not sticking him for him,” Uriel asserted. “If the death penalty
were an option, I'd be all for that. We can explain that to his
statement gave Whalen pause, but not enough. “Okay, uh, do you
agree with the assessment that Donovan and Grimoire 17 in the
same place is a threat no matter what he knows or where he is?”
moment of thought, Uriel nodded. “Yeah, sounds about right.”
We're, uh... gonna talk this over,” Whalen said, nervously
glancing at both Molly and Uriel. He and his two colleagues left
the room to find a nice quiet spot to deliberate.
for keeping it simple,” Uriel muttered. “Any reason for the
sudden histrionics, Molly?”
think Kendrick is finished with Donovan,” Molly replied. After
all the yelling, she was surprisingly solemn.
chuckled. “At this point, I'd just assume let the Hokoni have
him. At least then we can reclaim the grimoire.”
never align myself such a weak faction,” Donovan insisted.
there we go. Donovan will be a non-entity now.” Laughing, Uriel
added, “That's almost a reward. Once we get the mark out of
there, Donovan can hole up in his dark room with his minions and
we won't have to deal with him. And he won't have to deal with
shook her head, unconvinced. Was there really no escaping this?
deliberation process was uncomfortably long. Little was said
between the four; even Donovan remained hushed as he waited for
the inevitable. Twenty minutes passed until the panel emerged.
Whalen looked at all four of them- Uriel, Kurt, Molly and
Donovan all stared back in anticipation. He took a deep breath
and trudged forward.
“Clearly, the persistent demon activity as of late in your area
makes it difficult to put an artifact in dusty attic status
there. Odds are the grimoire may be contributing to the problem.
On the other hand, any other solution would lead to a punishment
too severe for the crime. Sad to say, there are too many factors
in this assault and too many ways to offer justification that we
simply cannot advocate imprisonment or exile.”
noticed Molly hesitantly raising a hand, paused and looked at
her. “Are you saying you're considering hypothetical defenses,
even if we didn't raise them?” she asked.
All the things that weren't raised could all be grounds for an
appeal or a mistrial. Lord knows we don't want to do all this
over again. Now... Donovan, please rise.” Donovan glared back
until Molly stood and pulled him up with her.
official ruling began: “Therefore, Grimoire 17 will remain in
the custody of Molly Pearson. We grant Pearson the authority to
take any measure necessary to ensure its safety, including
storage or embedding, so long as it is retrievable within three
days for emergency purposes.”
narrowed her eyes: she found that interesting for two reasons.
The first was that the normal leeway for retrieving an artifact
was one day, so Whalen was giving her a longer leash to secure
it. Given that, she could just let Marlowe keep it in storage.
second reason was for Donovan to air: “But how can she hold it
if she is no longer my so-called guardian?”
shrugged. “Who said she wasn't?” He cleared his throat and
resumed: “With everyone in agreement that Donovan and the
grimoire each have a significant magic presence, the panel
chooses to err on the side of keeping them both as allies.
Donovan will undergo immediate training with Mr. Smittle to keep
that demon under control, and the grimoire will only be returned
to him upon successful completion of this academy.”
You're just letting him off?!” Molly cried.
can't cut him loose like Uriel wants and we can't lock him up
like you want. I'm sure you and Smittle can whip him into
shape.” Whalen cracked a smile. “Besides, look at it this way,
Molly- you won the case.” He banged his gavel. “Now let's get
the hell out of here.”