lost the ability to scream, struggling to breathe as the brick
surrounded her and closed in against her body. Not that it
mattered: Kurt was out of earshot and Kamila had been Sho's
accomplice all along. She didn't seem happy watching Yuki die,
but she was quietly tolerating it and that was frightening
hope was that Kurt was actively monitoring Sho's activities. He
didn't divulge exactly how he would be keeping tabs on them,
only that he would. Yuki resisted giving in to the increasing
pain, hoping that his method involved actively checking his
Bloodberry rather than simply staying close and reading a
magazine in his car. Her life depended on it.
Sho, when you're done, don't forget that football. Those aren't
cheap,” Kamila said, still facing away from the action. “And
hurry it up. I want to get out of here before Kurt or Pearson
the bricks seemed to close in faster. Yuki tried to moan, but
she couldn't breathe. Silent as he was, Sho was obeying Kamila's
suddenly, the bricks separated and fell to the ground. Yuki fell
with them. Down on all fours, the bricks scraped her hands. She
gasped for air before looking up to see what had happened. Yuki
doubted a sudden bout of remorse on Sho's part, so there was
only one possibility.
swooped in and clutched Yuki's shoulders, using one hand to
raise the fallen bricks into a shield. “Are you all right?” She
was still too winded to talk, but she nodded.
happened? Did you do anything to him? Attack him or something?”
shook her head. Finding her voice, she gasped, “Kamila...”
just looking away right now. We must be in displacement. God, I
can't believe I missed it.”
she's-” The brick shield collapsed on top of them. Kurt dove
over Yuki, exposing his back in the process.
there was silence. Keeping his arms up at the ready, Sho
cautiously stepped forward. There was no way such a blow would
kill anybody, but before he could deliver a finishing attack, he
had to know if they were conscious.
later, a hand rose out of the bricks. The bricks themselves,
every one of them, followed it and flew after Sho. A dozen or so
struck him in the face, torso and arms before he could get his
trigger up and block the rest.
bloodied head, torn shirt and all, rose from the pile, arm
raised at Sho. He too fished for air, but nothing was turning
him away from his target.
don't have to wait for the testing to come back,” he spat.
brushed the counter-attack away and swiped his arms. Rather than
wait, Kurt strafed away in time to avoid the giant spike that
erupted from the ground. It rose fast enough to drill through
anything, and it took Kurt a moment to recover from what ended
up being a close call. In that time, Sho let it go and tried
again. Caught off guard and feeling the tremor below him, Kurt
could only throw a hand up to slow it down.
impeded the attack enough to make it harmless, then jumped away
from the spike as soon as he could, casting a spell to harden
the ground below him to make it more resistant against Sho's
magic. For his efforts, a stream of flame struck him in the
chest. It knocked him over, singed him a little, and startled
him enough to draw his attention from Sho... and onto Kamila.
raised her left arm to her right shoulder. Eyebrows narrowed,
she glared back. “Much as I hate you barging in on us, I gotta
say it's nice to be able to do that again.” She shook her head,
but maintained her poise. “You have no idea how much I wanted
those Zukoni bastards to burn.”
to keep tabs on both Sho and Kamila, Kurt tried not to get too
worked up about her. Although he was able to stay on guard, he
couldn't help but dig through the months and his experiences
with Kamila, trying to find all the hidden clues that he should
have picked up on. There weren't any. Yes, she was brash and
yes, she reacted very strongly to the Zukoni. But so did
Kathryn. For all the notions that the Hageshoni weren't very
subtle, she pulled it off perfectly. Especially compared to Sho.
stereotype was unfounded, maybe another was too: “What do you
guys want?” Kurt asked either of them, hoping they would perhaps
be open to discussion.
frowned. “Sorry, Kurt, you're not dealing with that Hokoni
prick. Sho had his plans, but you got too close. We're just
taking out who we can before we go.”
marched forward and shot a fireball at him. He shielded. “And
frankly,” she shouted, launching another fireball. “I'm pissed
off...” And another. “...that I have to...” And again, her voice
getting louder. “...expose myself...” She kept firing. “...and
try to kill...” One more, a larger one this time that finally
broke Kurt's stone shield and struck him in the neck. “...the
same people I've been hanging out with for the last year!”
and taking a deep breath, she calmed down and added, “I just
want to get this over with and kill you guys quickly. So shut
the hell up.”
Thankfully, the reason Kurt had taken so long to rescue Yuki
wasn't to build suspense. He was sending out an APB to Molly,
her unit and the district office. Although he wasn't allowed to
demand Molly's assistance, the level of urgency can be spelled
out very clearly, even through Twitter.
arrived first, another victim of boredom with Kathryn and Marie
out of town. By the time he arrived, Kurt was on the ropes,
singed by Kamila but more worried about what Sho could do with
any attempted earth spells. When Kamila tried another fireball,
Troy doused it, and looked up in shock at its summoner.
didn't get much farther than a stunned “K...” before she smirked
yeah, shut up,” Kamila said. “I know, all that stuff about us
being friends. I'm not really enjoying this either.” She quickly
fired off a round of flame. After he frantically dodged it, she
snickered. “Well, maybe a little.”
still stunned. The friend part was only half of it. What was
more shocking was how she had passed herself off as reasonably
normal. All the demons he had encountered seemed somehow more
grandiose than normal. Kendrick was upright and arrogant, the
Zukoni were large and boisterous, the Chioni were scumbags in
suits. Kamila may have been a temperamental loudmouth, but there
had been nothing sinister about her. Seeing her as a demon alone
was less shocking as the shattering of his notion of demonkind,
borne through limited experience and the academy's grooming.
didn't see it that way though. After another missed fireball,
she mockingly asked, “What? Can't attack your friend?”
sighed and realized his duty. He slowly stepped into position,
readied his trigger... and watched as Kamila took a nasty blast
in the side.
“Luckily, you and I aren't friends,” Molly said, walking up to
the Hageshoni with Renee at her side.
wasn't as cold. “Kamila's...” she whispered.
“...mine,” Molly answered. “You and Troy help Kurt.”
still on his back. Although his foresight protected him from
below, he had to stay on guard and block Sho's frontal assaults.
Sho wasn't fast with his trigger, so Kurt could at least ready
himself, but when the attacks involved hoisting chunks of
bedrock out of the ground and slamming them at him, defense was
difficult. His shielding absorbed most of the blow, but after a
few of these, he was hurting.
no reason to stop. He lifted another mass of stone from below
and flung it at Kurt once again. This time, it took a combined
effort from Troy and Renee to break it up.
stood, resolved to defeat the enemy. Sho didn't like that: he
cast another spell, this time making the ground under Renee
quake. She cast a flight spell before the incoming spike could
gotta watch for those,” Kurt said, as Yuki arrived with a
remained down, but Molly had her doubts. Her surprise attack was
knock-down strong, but not knock-out strong. She slowly hovered
over the demonic girl, watching for any eye or arm movements
that would suggest a trap. Although she didn't see any, she
shrugged and fired off another bolt of hard energy directly at
Kamila's sternum. Kamila winced and screamed, then laid silent
on the ground. Now Molly was more convinced.
a knee, she whipped up a binding spell. Before she could
execute, Kamila sat up suddenly and struck Molly with a massive
fireball. Kamila jumped to her feet, arm raised at Molly, who
grunted loudly and rolled on the ground to subdue her burning
clothing. But before Kamila could give Molly more to put out,
she heard a loud explosion and was propelled into the air,
crashing several yards away.
Donovan grinned. He hated Kamila all along. “Finally, you and I
minions were present, but rather than flank him they snuck over
to help out Molly. Once back on her feet, she didn't acknowledge
their help, but instead watched Kamila. After a blow like that,
she must have been out.
Kamila hopped back up and readied her trigger. Despite her deep
breathing and scratched face, she merely smiled back at them and
fired her spell. Pillars of fire rose up in front of Donovan,
Blaine, Bryce and Molly. Before they could respond, she
approached them to deliver some more.
he was sufficiently healed, Kurt anti-spiked the ground below
Troy and Renee. Problem was that Sho was just fine shooting his
giant stone creations instead. Troy and Renee did their best to
break those up, but with them on defense Kurt was the only one
available to attack Sho. And he didn't dare use his only strong
suit against somebody who wielded earth magic even better.
it was a temporary stalemate, which was more than Kurt could
assume about the battle against Kamila. Donovan and Molly were
hammering her all over the place, but she kept getting back up
and launching even greater attacks against them. Already, Molly
was starting to weaken. As scary as Sho was, Kamila looked
she was. There were probably Hageshoni demons capable of such
feats. But Kurt realized that Kamila couldn't be one of them.
The strongest Hageshoni demons couldn't pass as normal high
school students. Those guys would make Sho look normal. If
Kamila was here for that long doing simple recon work, she
couldn't have been as strong as she looked. Something was
artificially enhancing her ability to withstand Molly's might
and strike back with equal force.
Something like a symbol in the dark room.
he cried. Yuki hustled over, cowering in case Troy or Renee
missed blocking one of Sho's attacks.
another potion ready!” She handed it over.
the vial. “We need to disable that mark in the dark room!”
glanced at Sho and turned back. “I don't know. But you saw how
he did it the first time. And you were always spraying it.
There's got to be a way.”
shook her head, violently. “But... Miguel had-”
his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. “Yuki,
with that thing active, I don't think we can beat these two.
I'll give your potion to whoever needs it, but you need to try
to disable that mark!”
looked at him for a long time, trying to find reason to protest.
She didn't have a clue how she was going to do it. She just knew
it was up to her to figure it out.
she could figure out how to negate the symbol in the dark room,
Yuki had to get to the dark room. On a weekend with no activity
inside the school, this was a problem. Every door was locked.
She tried knocking, but nobody appeared to be inside. Yuki
pounded on the door again, this time out of frustration. Her
daring mission to save the day had been defeated in three
minutes, all because she lacked the ability to teleport.
paused and tried to collect herself. If she wasn't going to be
able to do this, she had to run back to the battlefield and
start whipping out potions. Sho and Kamila weren't leaving any
room for error or angst. Before she gave up, however, she took
stock of what she could do and what she had with her. She dug
through her satchel, hoping to find anything that would at least
get her inside.
many other useless trinkets that had been neglected at the
bottom of the bag, she found that glass cutter that she had used
against Winston in the Chioni battle. Besides a reminder that
she really needed to clean out the clutter down there, it was at
least something. She scored a quick circle in the window, which
at least prepped it for a stronger treatment.
ended up being a bigass rock Yuki hurled at the glass in
desperation. The circle broke cleanly, although it did shatter
against the floor and started an alarm. Yuki knew Molly would
take care of that later, and stuck her arm through the window
and pushed the door open. Stepping carefully over the glass,
Yuki hustled to the dark room. Graceful or not, she was in.
Troy and Renee were getting nowhere against Sho. One was
ineffective on offense and the other two were stuck blocking
Sho's relentless assault, leaving nobody to try to slow down or
stop Sho himself. As he reinforced the barrier preventing an
attack from below, Kurt weighed his options. He didn't like the
idea of waiting for Yuki. Troy and Renee were doing a fair job
striking down Sho's attacks, but they would wear out eventually
and it would only take one miss for Sho to do serious damage.
Clearly, Sho was counting on this as he fired the same thing
over and over again.
fire spell at Sho confirmed the other problem: Kurt had always
been weak offensively. The flame struck Sho in the shoulder. He
paused, patted it away carelessly, and resumed his attack before
Troy could seize the opportunity. Troy getting an opportunity
seemed to be the key; he might be able to do something. Kurt
looked down and saw it- the stone barrier below. Sho seemed fond
of those spike attacks, but since Kurt's barrier was in place
nothing had emerged. So that, at least, seemed to be working.
deep breath, Kurt raised an arm and the ground in front of Troy
and Renee turned into that same protective stone. Then it
elevated in front of them, creating a makeshift bunker. He
stepped forward and ducked behind it, encouraging Troy and Renee
to do the same. They did, Sho fired, and his attack bounced off
but how are we supposed to see him?” Troy asked.
already on that. He extended his hand into the dirt mound. A
block of it flew out towards Sho. It did no damage, but Troy now
had his own little firing window. Renee needed no such amenity
and hid behind the bunker to catch her breath.
needing to keep an eye on Sho, Kurt peered over the wall as Troy
fired an ice bolt through it. The attack struck Sho in the
stomach and knocked him back a little, but Sho merely shrugged
it off and fired another stone ball at Kurt, who ducked as it
passed over the bunker.
so much for that,” Kurt muttered. Now he wasn't sure if anything
could get to the demon.
Kurt...” Renee said, nervously. She was shaking. Or rather, her
back support was. And starting to unsettle. Kurt raised a hand
to try to get it back into shape, but Sho's magic had already
taken effect. The dirt behind the stone collapsed on itself,
falling on top of Troy and Renee. And one blast later, the
unstable wall exploded over it.
wasn't finished. With Troy and Renee still buried, the earth
around them started to close in and tighten. They screamed while
they could. Kurt was unable to undo the spell with one of his
own, then he tried an ice bolt on Sho. Again, it barely fazed
him, but it disrupted his trigger and gave Kurt an opening to
dig in and pull Troy out.
Renee, I'll keep him busy,” Kurt barked. Troy barely had time to
catch his breath before diving into the heap to pull Renee to
those three struggled to defend themselves against Sho, Molly
and Donovan were throwing everything they could at Kamila. She
avoided many of the attacks, but even the ones that did connect
did little but scratch her. Those only riled her up further,
giving her a little bounce in her step and making her harder to
attacks, in return, did do damage and almost all of them were
directed at Molly. She was starting to slow; the burns on her
arms and chest grew harder to ignore. The smoke from all the
fire spells made the air hazy and harder to breathe. Finally,
Molly gave up and switched to a shield. Kamila continued on,
intent on breaking Molly further.
as they were, with only two enemies in play, it did mean one
thing- nobody was blocking teleportation spells. While Kamila
hammered away on Molly, Donovan vanished. Kamila noticed, but
before she could react, Blaine jumped in with an air gust. It
fazed her just enough that when Donovan appeared next to her, he
was able to charge a strong blast and nail her point blank.
time, she stayed down, at least for a few moments. Bryce seized
the opportunity and ran in swinging his crystal. Before he could
execute his spell however, Kamila jumped to her feet and kicked
him in the stomach. While he recoiled, she drove her left fist
into his face with an uppercut that transitioned nicely into her
trigger. The ensuing fireball knocked Bryce out.
fired off a prolonged, steady flame when she turned around, just
in case somebody was thinking of attacking her from behind
again. Somebody like Blaine, who tried and failed to use his air
magic to repel it. His wind spell ended up fanning the fire,
totally engulfing the poor minion and preventing Molly from
getting close. Kamila grinned, fueling it more and more until
the wind went away and it was clear Blaine was no longer a
threat. She cut the fire, let it pass and immediately frowned.
spell had certainly ceased. But not for the reason Kamila was
expecting. Blaine didn't want to hit Donovan, suddenly standing
in front of him with a shield. If the fire had hit either of
them, they didn't show it. Keeping his shield up, Donovan
stepped aside. Blaine was ready with a vicious cyclone. Kamila
hit the ground to avoid it, but Blaine kept targeting her until
it pushed her up and away. She hopped to her feet immediately,
disoriented as all hell.
minion's aim was specific; Kamila had landed right in Molly's
wheelhouse. And Molly was charging something fierce. She started
into her trigger.
got her spell off first. Dizzy or not, seeing Molly made her
react. And she reacted first. Her weak fireball connected and
disrupted Molly, whose energy blast fell to the ground and
exploded at her feet. The resulting boom knocked over both of
them and even got the attention of the trio busy with Sho.
Kamila crawled away angrily, Molly didn't move.
Renee shrieked. Despite being covered in dirt and gasping for
air, she was still ready to fly over to her sister.
Actually, so was Kurt. He held a hand up at Renee. “I'll help
her, Renee. You and Troy take care of Sho.” Renee looked at him,
nodded, then stood up.
Donovan and Blaine had engaged Kamila again, Kurt used a flight
spell to cut between the two battles. Indeed, Molly was barely
conscious. He bent down, lifted her head and carefully poured
Yuki's potion into her mouth. As soon as the vial was empty, her
eyes snapped open and she coughed.
okay?” he asked. She grunted and sat up slowly. He'd have to
take that as a yes.
“Thanks,” she replied, forcing herself to her feet. Much as he
wanted to ensure her safe recovery, he knew he had to get back
to Troy and Renee. He cast another flight spell and took off.
time, Kamila spotted him- defenseless in mid-air. Evading
Donovan, she launched a firestorm at him. It exploded in his
face and dropped him to the ground.
ground, completely unprotected from Sho's giant spike.
thing was certain: the symbol was active. Normally defined by a
simple steady glow when exposed to light, the mark was now
pulsating irregularly, likely defined by how much power it was
lending Sho and Kamila at a given moment. Every so often, an
intense flash would momentarily blind Yuki. She set her bag on
Donovan's table and took another inventory. She knew she didn't
have the magic expertise to disable the mark through a potion,
but perhaps her assortment of items would come through again.
one that seemed relevant this time was that spray bottle from
Miguel. She had never sprayed it directly on the mark, only the
room, but perhaps its purification properties would at least
diminish the symbol's impact. Yuki sprayed the wall vigorously,
covering the entire area of the mark, but she couldn't tell if
it had done anything. It flickered a little, but that might have
been a natural occurrence.
stood back and waited, but she saw no real impact. Just as she
considered going through Donovan's rack of goodies for anything
useful, she realized there was a difference: the blinding
flashes had stopped. They were irregular before, but given how
long since she had sprayed, at least one should have appeared.
The more she looked at it, the fainter it seemed. This was
a larger dose of the liquid would help. She tried to pull off
the spraying device, but it wouldn't budge. With time so
important and with few other options, she hurled the whole thing
at the wall. The crystal shattered and its contents spilled over
the marking, filling the room with the intense medicinal smell.
Yuki covered her nose and mouth and her eyes began to water, but
she stayed there to see how the mark would react. It flickered
more rapidly, then dimmed, then darkened completely.
sighed in relief, then almost passed out from the contents of
that vial. She grabbed her satchel and ran out of the room to
get a place where she could breathe again.
instant the spike struck Kurt, the battle paused. Everybody who
had fought Sho knew how dangerous the attack was when launched
with such force. The way it seemed to rip into Kurt's chest
froze time. For all the injuries and knockout blows they had
seen before, one with so much power, not to mention the blood
spilling down the spike, made them all squeamish. Even Kamila
took a step back.
ran up to him, ignoring either of the two threats. She nudged
his shoulder, but there was no response. She called his name
out, and lifted his head- nothing. For all her expertise, all
she knew was that it was bad, he needed immediate help and that
she had no way to provide it. She couldn't even remove the spike
without seriously jeopardizing Kurt's life.
saw was another target, this time with her back to him. He
raised an arm, but he felt an ice ball that even he couldn't
ignore. It interrupted his spell and knocked him over. He
immediately found his assailant: Troy stood upright, trigger arm
at his side. He was completely unprotected. From the look of his
eyes, he didn't give a damn.
stood up and glared at Troy. At least his attention was off
Molly. Both fired spells at each other simultaneously. Troy's
ice blast and Sho's stone projectile collided in midair and
shattered. They tried again: this time Sho lobbed his attack
into the air. He took the ice spell in the chest, but he didn't
care if it would destroy his opponent.
Renee shouted. Troy had not noticed the giant rock falling on
him from above until it was too late. She threw a spell up just
in time to catch most of it. It still struck Troy and knocked
him down, but did no more damage than the ice had done to Sho.
Troy jumped to his feet and approached Sho again.
screamed his name again, but Troy was determined to keep Sho at
bay, a futile effort given Sho's apparent invulnerability. She
shielded him when she could, but that only contributed to the
stalemate. He was going to need more help for any chance of
Molly, still frantically trying to revive Kurt. Her efforts were
going nowhere; they were clearly helpless until Yuki returned.
Yet Molly persisted, nudging his shoulders repeatedly until she
was clutching them. With Sho and now Kamila occupied, Renee
charged over to her sister.
Troy needs your help!” Up close, Renee could see just how badly
Molly was panicking. Her hands trembled, her breathing was
labored, and her eyes were red and wide. Renee pulled Molly
away, trying not to look at Kurt and freak out herself.
resisted, pushing back against Renee, shouting, “He needs help!
Look at him! If we don't heal him soon, he'll...”
relented as Molly returned to him. She didn't realize it was
that bad. Still, she said, “Yuki will take care of that!”
Grabbing Molly's shoulder and looking into her eyes, she said,
“But we can't fight him without you. Troy's not going to last.”
looked at Sho, hammering Troy with a spell. Troy had been lucky
to avoid major damage, but he had been hit several times and was
slowing down, making him an easier target.
watch Kurt. Just please help Troy!” Renee pleaded.
continued to fight on, mechanically casting spell after spell on
Sho. They kept hitting and Sho kept feeling them, but he
wouldn't go down. Despite this, Troy persisted and Molly
couldn't help but focus on him. His face was blank, somewhere
between scared and witless. Like he was fighting simply because
he didn't know what else to do. Which is never a good sign:
Molly stepped forward and started forming a whopper of an energy
blast, one that did knock Sho over when it connected.
time, Sho did stay down for a moment, reeling at the pain. Molly
stood in place and watched him suffer, almost enjoying it. He
responded by slamming his hand into the ground, the force of
which knocked both her and Troy over. It also destroyed the
spike below Kurt. As he fell, Renee was right there to cushion
his impact with the dirt.
and Blaine had also gone back to work on Kamila. She too froze
for a moment at Kurt's condition, giving Donovan an easy sneak
attack. She never fully recovered from this. The combined
efforts of master and minion were beginning to overwhelm her and
she started to feel the pain that he was capable of inflicting.
Clutching her left side with her right hand, she realized what
this meant. Her next spell was teleportation.
appeared next to her companion, shot a fireball to distract Troy
and grabbed Sho's shirt. “Yuki broke the mark. Let's get out of
glared at her- not such a good idea as Molly's next shot leveled
him. He jumped up angrily, but Kamila held him back. “Come on!”
she shouted. As Molly charged up another spell, Sho finally
relented and allowed Kamila to teleport both of them away. Molly
fired her blast into the tree behind them anyway.
letting them go?” Troy asked unhappily. Molly didn't answer. She
was already back at Kurt's side. Troy approached her...
approached Kurt, suddenly humbled at just how lifeless he
looked. “Oh jeez, is he...” He couldn't fathom what Kurt could
hand shook as she took his pulse. “No,” she mumbled, her fear
choking her voice. “Not yet anyway.”
lunged forward, grabbing Molly's shoulder and jerking her back.
“What do you mean? We can save him right?”
glared back. Angry at his gesture, angrier at the situation. “We
can't. It's going to be up to-”
back!” Yuki shouted, triumphant. “I did it! I disabled the...”
Troy and Renee stared back at her. For all her work with the
mark, she hadn't done anything yet.
through her satchel this time, Yuki knew she had everything
necessary inside. But after working so hard to remove the mark,
she was twice as stressed. She was so relieved to have come
through already that she expected that to be the end. In fact,
after her success in the dark room, she took a few moments to
collect herself and decompress. Her return trip to the field
wasn't as fast as she could have run. Now with Kurt in such bad
shape, all she could think about was how precious those lost
knees in front of Kurt, she tried not to gag at the sight of the
blood. Turning away, she started her mixing process. Molly, Troy
and Renee hovered over her.
going to take long?” Troy asked, now almost as harried as Molly.
Molly barked, startling both him and Yuki. “You and Donovan
stand guard in case they come back.”
frowned at her, but her glare won out. With little more than a
grumble, he walked over to Donovan and Blaine. Donovan stood
silent, arms folded and staring into the distance. Blaine looked
around to guard against a sneak attack from any other direction.
gone, Molly turned to Yuki. “This better not take long.”
“I put a
stasis spell on him, so that should buy us some time,” Renee
Molly narrowed her eyes at Renee. “When did you learn a stasis
tried to remember, Yuki shouted, “Please let me work!”
hands trembled, her breathing strained as she tried to portion
and pour her assorted powders. She glanced at Kurt reflexively,
turning back when she saw how high the stakes were. Was this
potion even going to be enough? Should she attempt something
stronger, even if she wasn't entirely confident in her skill to
and Renee hovered over her shoulder, watching her every motion.
She couldn't ask them. They weren't up on proper crafting
technique and none of the three girls were calm enough to make a
rational choice. “What's wrong?” Molly said, urgently.
gasped and returned to her work. “Nothing!” she blurted. This
part was the same anyway. At least she thought it was the same.
There may have been another step in the more advanced potion
earlier that she skipped. She was tired and forgot to take notes
during that lecture at the academy. But she got it right during
lab... that one time... in a controlled environment. She forced
herself to look at Kurt again. No, the basic healing potion
wasn't going to cure all that. Technically, she was taught how
to do what was necessary and that's what the situation called
increased her proportions according to what she remembered. For
one moment, she began to feel more comfortable. An intuition
told her that what she was doing felt right. This did not reach
Molly, bothered with how long this was taking. “My usual potion
probably won't be strong enough,” Yuki explained.
sure you know how to do the next one?” Molly asked. Yuki didn't
answer. She continued working, trying not to focus on her
set two fingers on Kurt's neck. As Yuki toiled on, Renee's worry
grew. “Yuki...” she murmured.
Yuki shouted, practically defiant. She held up the potion, took
a deep breath, pursed her lips to the cusp of the vial and
concoction blew up in her face.
tried not to breathe in the acrid smoke, some of which had
already collected on her cheeks, Yuki froze. The explosion did
little to boost her confidence in this potion. While she
stalled, Molly rushed in, grabbed the vial from Yuki and crawled
over to Kurt. Renee had carefully raised Kurt's head and opened
Yuki did recover, batting her eyes to get the smoke out, she
turned to them. “Molly, you just have to-”
how to do this!” Molly spat, pouring the potion down Kurt's
were always a few seconds of delay before a potion would kick
in. This one was no longer than any of the others, but the wait
was excruciating. This was the moment of truth; any other
treatment, magical or otherwise, would be too late to treat a
wound like this. Molly and Yuki stared intently as Renee bowed
winced, stirring a little. His eyes opened slowly, gritting his
teeth as he raised his head a little. He faced the girls,
reeling as he forced himself to speak.
painful breath, he whispered, “You tried.” He fell back to the
ground, eyes closing.
Molly cried, crawling up to him. She cradled his head, shook his
shoulders, anything to get him to wake again. Kurt's eyes
remained closed. She lifted his arm; it fell limp. She tried
again; when it fell again, she shook him harder.
rushed forward, setting her hands on Molly's shoulders. Her
voice rushed, she said, “Molly, calm down. There's got to be...”
She stopped and felt Kurt's neck for a pulse. There was none.
Hand shaking, she tried elsewhere on the neck... she wasn't
trained or anything; maybe her fingers were on the wrong spot.
matter where she felt, she felt nothing. Her hand jerked away
and dove under his body and found his heart. Renee felt his mass
pressed heavily on her fingers and the wet, warm flow of blood.
She did not feel a heartbeat. Pulling away, she stared at horror
at her crimson-stained hand. It trembled; she trembled as she
lost the power to deny that Kurt was dead.
lunged forward, her head finding Renee's shoulder and her arms
clinging to her sister's back. Ignoring the blood on her hand,
Renee clutched Molly as the elder sister cried. Renee was too
mortified to weep: she struggled to grasp that this was really
happening and that her inexorable guardian had been reduced to
remained paralyzed. She kept looking around, expecting someone
else to rush in with the magic spell that would fix everything.
None came. Her savior had already acted, and now he was lying
lifeless in front of her. Already on her knees, her legs gave
way. Her arm braced her, but that too collapsed and she fell
forward. Buried in her hands, her forehead reached the ground.
There she would hide until all this ended.
over his shoulder, Troy remained quiet, assuming Molly and Yuki
would handle everything the way they always seemed to. Now he
didn't know what to do. One glance at Donovan told him staying
on guard was wrong. He rushed in and nudged Kurt's arm and head.
Everything Renee had already tried. Troy backed up, staring at
Kurt's body as Molly Pearson cried in Renee's arms. Like Renee,
he barely had time to register that they had been in a battle
for their lives, much less that one of them had lost it.
looked over his shoulder too. “Um... sir...” he said, quiet.
“I... I, uh... I don't think he made it.” He stared forward,
did not look at the scene. He held his poise, narrowed his eyes
and continued to keep watch.
fiends will pay for this,” he muttered.
to the unseasonably warm weather, the skiing conditions were
terrible. Kathryn and Marie gave the slopes a fair shot, testing
a few bunny runs before writing them off as if they lived on the
hills and didn't have time for any conditions less than ideal.
They decided they'd have much more fun in the lodge while
Kathryn's parents stuck it out. After all, they paid for the
you shaking your hips like that?” Marie asked as her companion
strutted through the lodge. Both were still wearing their ski
outfits and Kathryn filled hers out quite nicely.
chuckled. “I'm wondering why you're not. C'mon, girls' night
two in the afternoon.” Marie looked over her shoulder and
shuddered. “That guy back there's been checking you out all
day.” Kathryn simply laughed.
found a sofa to share and plopped down. Immediately, said guy
made his move. “Hey, how's your day been?”
not to laugh, Kathryn smiled back. “Been great. Slopes are awful
and I didn't feel like skiing anyway. And you?”
better every second. So just you two today?”
We're totally unsupervised.” Kathryn's smile grew. So did
Marie's look of horror.
guy's eyes widened. “Really? Can I get you a pop or something?”
Kathryn's smile didn't waver.
not to flinch. “No?”
desperately to cling to something, he asked, “But you're not
wrapped an arm around Marie's shoulder. “I'm with Marie.”
know what I mean.”
“Yeah...” She raised her eyebrows suggestively. “I do.”
froze him. Heck, that froze Marie too. He stumbled away without
another word and Kathryn burst into laughter. “Now this is fun!”
tried to remember how to breathe. “What was that about?”
was about as fun as turning down a perv gets.”
that's how you wanted to spend the day, wouldn't you rather
it was Kamila, we'd probably end up with somebody. You're smart
enough to keep things from getting too crazy. With her, all bets
serious, Marie faced Kathryn. “You wouldn't seriously do
anything like that, would you?”
in a very frank question, Kathryn cooled down. “Well... no, I
don't think so, but... I don't know.”
don't know? Is it really that bad with Kurt?”
chuckled defensively. “Oh, no, it's just...” She leaned forward
and looked down. Now that Marie had called her out, she really
didn't have an answer. It wasn't that bad, and yet...
“No, I really don't know. Guess I'm just like that.”
just like the attention?”
Kathryn nodded. “I guess so. Reminds me that he'd be an idiot to
leave.” She shrugged. “And really, once I get out here I realize
how silly I'm being. So Molly's okay letting her guard down
around him. So what? Maybe I can get some dirt on her.”
smiled. Kathryn pointed to herself. “Really, is he leaving
this... for Pearson?”
shallow logic, perhaps, but it kept her going. And if flirting
with random ski lodge trolls was the path to enlightenment, she
had no problem leading the way. Lack of actual skiing aside, the
trip did make Kathryn feel much better.
we know what we've got. We're fine,” Kathryn concluded. Marie
nodded back, with reverence. “And I think Troy knows what he's
got in you,” Kathryn added.
frowned. “You think so?”
really wanted to be with Renee, he'd have made his move already.
And I'd have kicked his ass already. But he cares about you. No
matter what she tries, he still sticks with you because he knows
what he's got and doesn't want you to get hurt.”
brought out a smile. “That's true. I'm still worried though. I
mean, Renee's a lot more...” Marie gestured at Kathryn's figure.
“...than me or Molly.”
I've seen her. Renee's a B-cup at best.”
Marie blushed. “That's not what I meant. Well, maybe part of it,
but... oh, you know what I mean.”
shook her head. “And you know Troy's not like that. Give him
credit for keeping his hormones in check. You two don't really
go for all the naughty stuff anyway.”
face reddened. “Well... no, not really. I'm not sure about it
and he hasn't brought it up much.”
Kathryn smiled. “You and Troy go well together. I really think
you've got a shot.”
you mean?” The blush disappeared, but now Marie was confused. “I
mean, it's a little early to be thinking we'll get married or
Kathryn rephrased it. “Who said anything about that? I just like
your chances of making it through school with him. Survive high
school and who the hell knows?”
Calming down, Marie asked, “Is it wrong to not think about
forever? Because we don't really do that. We just focus on
enjoying what we've got now, and that's enough.”
yeah. That's the best way to do it. That's all Kurt and I do.”
not surprising,” Marie said, chuckling.
grinned back. “Yeah, there's no way Kurt and I would get
married. I mean even if we were thinking about it, he's got his
work here. I'm working on a basketball scholarship. I want to go
into coaching. There's no way it works out. So why stress out
you've been doing?” noted Marie, raising her eyebrows.
Kathryn acknowledged. “But yeah, we're together because it makes
life better for us. Who cares about a year from now? Right now,
I just love having the guy around.” She stretched her arms back,
returning to her contentment. “Yep, all you gotta do is try your
damnedest to hang on to a good thing. And enjoy it while you've
got it.” Shaking her head at the serenity within it, she turned
back to Marie. “Because you never know when it's going to be