night, the three units gathered in Reggie's room. The aim was to
collect their heads, plan an attack, gather resources and not
think twice about any of it. They entered the room determined to
maximize their chances of success.
Unfortunately, it was still Reggie's room and they found it
awfully hard to concentrate on their objective. After a fifteen
minute fit of giggles, Meg convinced them to adjourn elsewhere.
Up at room 202, things cooled down in a hurry.
let's get the obvious question out of the way first... how do we
get in?” Kathryn asked.
cleared his throat. “From what I found out online, your district
commander has been in frequent contact with someone from an
Urayoni realm. That's where we'll start looking.”
scratched her head. “Well that answers the where... sort of...
but how do we get there?”
there's a dimensional transporter on campus. It's on the second
floor of the admin building. It's um... guarded though.”
grinned. “I'm sure the girls and I can take care of any guards.”
His girls giggled. Kathryn was satisfied with this answer.
narrowed an eye at them, but didn't question them. “And once
fielded this one: “Well, it's a small world with a central
fortress about two miles away from the access point. To put it
bluntly, we storm the castle.”
do we do that?”
answered Meg, Giles and Reggie.
rolled her eyes. “And you really think we can do this alone?”
when has reality interfered with our conquest?” Donovan blurted.
“The time for thinking is over. Now we fight!”
did it effectively kill the discussion, everyone was so
stupefied they didn't notice Meg (or another) whispering
something to Bryce. He nodded, turned to Blaine, and both
minions disappeared. Mindy giggled, ruining the secrecy.
annoyed, Giles said, “What were you doing, Mindy?”
Defensive, yet ecstatic, Mindy blurted, “It's not me- it's
defensive, Morgan said, “I just... uh... you'll see.”
to reclaim everyone's attention, Kathryn said, “I guess what I'm
asking is do we really have a chance with just us ten?” She
turned to Reggie and his girls. “I mean, can any of you actually
do anything to help us?”
shrugged. “Like I said, we're mostly in it because we're bored.
But we've been here long enough to have learned something by
now. I'm sure we'll be fine.”
scoffed. “We've got you covered. Reggie and I are Crafters,
Cammy's a Weaver and Candace and Carmen use fire and air
she could get much applause for the show of confidence, Blaine
and Bryce reappeared. They carried a long, narrow box.
turned to Morgan. “You were right: that lock wasn't hard to
crack at all.”
stood up, staring at the box. “What did you tell them to get?”
cracked a grin. “You were afraid we couldn't do alone with just
our spells so I had them 'borrow' some smiters.”
cracked the box open. Sure enough, inside were five smiter
picked one up, impressed. “Now this is more like it. These are
the ones that only work on demons right?” For a moment, she
considered poking herself with one, but thought better of it and
experimented with a slight prick on Donovan arm.
Immediately, the pinpoint jab started smoking. Donovan's eyes
widened and his whole body shook. Troy, Giles and Meg all jumped
up, terribly concerned.
“Kathryn, he's part demon, remember?!” Troy shouted.
bulged as the wound opened further. “Oh crap, that counts?!”
you're a Crafter; do something!”
sat there. After watching Donovan pretend he wasn't in
excruciating pain for a few seconds, he scratched his head. “I
don't have any gear for healing potions. That's kid's stuff.”
fidgeted with his crystal. “Uh, smiters use light-based magic. I
can't heal that.”
looked around the room. “Does anybody here have any healing
rush me!” shouted a nervous Maple. Smug as Morgan was while
suggesting the swords, it was strange to see the same body
huddled over a potion. Everybody fell quiet as she finished up,
held a vial to her forehead and blinked. She passed it to Giles,
who gave it to Donovan, who downed it quickly. In seconds, the
wound disappeared and nothing seemed wrong with him.
he gritted his teeth. “That... didn't... hurt.”
sighed in relief. “Glad we're getting all the screwing up out of
the way now. Nice save, uh... whichever one you are.”
said Maple, head lowered. “Happy I could help.”
job, Maple,” said Meg.
nodded. “Yeah, didn't have you pegged as a Crafter.”
a Crafter. That was Maple.”
wait...” Kathryn held a hand up. “So you guys all do different
shrugged. “Of course. It would be pretty boring having a whole
unit with the same class. Morgan and I are Thrusters and Giles
and Mindy are Weavers.”
you guys might have your hands full when we get down there,
maybe Maple should make some potions now,” Giles suggested.
grinned and nodded. “Good call. Don't want to have to stop to
heal one of you while I'm up there kicking ass.”
nothing but a change of expression, it was back to Meg, who
seemed to put more thought into it. “Do you mind if we take a
break and let Maple get to work?”
like a plan,” said Reggie.
nodded. “Okay, you're up, Maple.”
her head, Maple seemed to blush. “All right. I'll do my best.”
She took her equipment and headed off into the corner.
her leave, Candace mumbled, “I like that one the best.”
dared echo that statement when she was still in the room, but
everybody silently nodded.
turned out to be a good thing Troy, Kathryn and Donovan had
visited Uriel earlier in the day. When midnight arrived, they
were able to subvert the locked entrance doors and teleport into
the lobby. Troy unlocked a door for everybody else.
they bother locking it in the first place if everybody can just
teleport in?” Giles mused.
that matter, why don't we just teleport all the way to the
transport thingy?” asked Cammy.
been there,” Troy said.
have! Let's do it!” Mindy shouted. She closed her eyes and
raised her hand high in the air, standing on her tiptoes for
over and lowered her hand. “Answers both questions: they only
bother to put ATBs around the rooms that are actually important.
They don't care if we sneak in and use the vending machines.”
looked around. All of that made sense, but they were still in a
dark hallway after hours and they definitely weren't supposed to
be. As Donovan and Blaine summoned light balls, Troy said, “Hey,
our friend Kurt had a thing that told him whenever anybody
nearby used magic.”
a Bloodberry?! Awesome!” Mindy gushed. Morgan shushed her.
Nervously scratching his calf with his smiter, Troy replied,
“Yeah, but uh... do you think any security guys around here have
the same stuff and might be watching us?”
nodded. “You bet.”
clutched her staff. “Think maybe we should, uh, get to this
thing, like, now before they send people after us?”
nodded again. “Totally.”
sprinted for it. In fact, once upstairs they almost ran right
past it. Giles managed to steer everybody down a separate wing
of the building. Cautious, but walking briskly, Troy and Kathryn
were surprised to see the hallway open and a large circular
platform directly in front of them.
Honestly, given the dark room and the lack of security points,
Troy was underwhelmed. “Is this it?”
wrong?” said Giles.
right out in the open like this? Where's the armed guards
forget that it's also an arrival point,” said Meg. “If you're
coming in from another world, this is the first thing you see on
campus. They're not putting it in a closet.”
wasn't complaining. He and his minions stepped onto the
platform. Hands on his hips, he laughed. “A fitting departure
point to conquer our enemies. Blaine! Bryce! We set sail!”
and Bryce looked at each other and shrugged. “Um... how?” Bryce
how do we work this thing?” Kathryn added.
where the security comes in,” Giles said.
what the?” said the security guard, entering the hallway from a
door in the corridor. Granted, this was no Hageshoni-like heavy
ready to throw them all out of the building. In fact, he didn't
look threatening at all. Not only was he barely bigger than
Giles, his attention was torn between the band of intruders and
the Nintendo DS he had in his hands.
booming voice, Donovan shouted, “Now see here-”
sec, let me save my game,” the guard said. As he stepped out of
the room, the door started to swing shut on its own. Cammy
quickly stuck her foot in the doorway to keep it open.
waited patiently for the guard to reach a save point and turn
his game off. “Wish I had your job,” Giles muttered.
that pressing concern out of the way, the guard pocketed the DS
and addressed the group. “Nobody told me anyone was leaving
smiled. “We're kinda doing this on the sly. What's it going to
take for you to let us go?” He put an arm on Carmen's shoulder
as she winked at the guard.
Reggie. Didn't see you there.” Still, the guard wasn't taking
the bait. “Can't let you go though. You know the rules.”
Shrugging, Reggie approached the guard and pulled out his
wallet. “I know... but this is kinda important. I think we can
come to some kind of... agreement about this.” He flashed a
large wad of bills fastened with a money clip.
guard stared at the money, suddenly short of breath. Slowly
taking the cash, he turned around. “One moment please.” He
walked inside, brushing by Cammy and not noticing her foot
acting as a doorstop.
continued to serve its purpose after he went inside, allowing
Kathryn to poke her head in. The guard was on the phone.
hey, sorry to wake you up. I got a bunch of folks here wanting
to use the gate.” He paused, twirling the money in his fingers.
“Yeah, one of them even offered a bribe.”
Kathryn's eyes widened and she turned to Reggie. Clearly his
plan wasn't going so well.
it? Reggie smiled back, held his arms out and did a pelvic
thrust. The money clip exploded, knocking the guard out. Carmen
calmly walked into the room, cleared the smoke away and hung up
of Crafters bearing gifts,” Reggie quipped.
like, how do we set all this up to take us there?” Candace
you, Giles!” shouted Mindy.
replied Giles, handing his smiter to Cammy and entering the
room. Suddenly he had a binder in his hands. He sat down in
front of a computer terminal and started typing.
long is this going to take?” asked Kathryn.
'cause he still made that phone call. We're gonna have company,”
remained calm. “Just have to enter the access codes, override
the authority settings and figure out how to turn the bugger
glanced outside at a waiting Troy and Reggie. “That sounds
I've already got the codes in and...” Giles frowned for a
moment, then opened random desk drawers. He pulled out a
notebook, flipped through it and tossed it aside. He did the
same to a second book he found, although this time he returned
to the keyboard and resumed typing. “Somebody here can't
remember his password. Tell Donovan to get off that platform.”
Kathryn went outside to pull him off, Maple asked, “Why?”
it's going to be live in about five seconds.” Giles pushed a
button. The platform glowed. Giles jumped out of his chair, took
the smiter from Cammy and walked out.
now?” Troy asked.
didn't turn back. “Now you better hurry because it's only live
for ten seconds.” He stepped on the platform and vanished.
they sprinted for it. Cammy and Candace stepped on just as the
platform vanished... and just before a cadre of security
personnel reached the hallway.
everybody arrived on the other side, the platform dulled and
they found themselves in what amounted to be a glorified shed.
There were several benches lining the room, as well as two
service doors on each side in front of a larger security door in
front of them. If anybody was guarding the transporter, they
would have been out by now. To the rear, a window gave them a
view of a sandstone cliff. They had made it.
not going to follow us here, are they?” Candace asked.
looked confused. “How? I covered up our tracks before we left so
they have no way of knowing which world we entered.”
“Seriously?” asked Cammy.
don't think I'm that stupid, do you?” Everybody looked
around, struggling to find someone on the platform who
considered Giles stupid.
nobody's following us?” said Kathryn.
shook her head. “Not now. But don't forget that someone's coming
to pick up Molly in the morning. That's our deadline.”
looked at the sign above the security door. It read, “Authorized
Personnel Only. Violators Will Be Arrested.”
welcome,” Troy mumbled. “So how do we get the door open?”
late. Donovan was already approaching it, charging up his
energy. He fired it at the door. It blew open, giving them a
full view of the cavernous underworld terrain. It also triggered
strolled up to the now-open doorway, glanced at it for a couple
seconds and chuckled. “Hey, we coulda just fiddled with it for a
while and pulled it open. It wasn't locked... much.”
else thinking that we should be nowhere near that alarm right
now?” said Kathryn.
“Agreed,” Meg replied.
out of the building and quickly found their options limited: the
cliffs surrounded them on both sides and from behind. For a
moment, however, they had to marvel at the world. Particularly
since an overhead rock canopy covered the cavern. And they could
wonder where the light's coming from,” said Giles. “We seem to
be underground and there aren't any lamps anywhere.”
didn't bite. Breathing in the stagnant cave air, he said,
“Admire the scenery later. Let's get moving.”
followed the one trail they had, knowing there would be neither
surprise attacks nor hiding places if the enemy arrived now.
Most of them managed to keep pace nicely. There was one
why do you lag behind?” Donovan asked.
Mule was lugging a backpack close to his body weight. “Sir, I
realize the need to haul equipment... but why only me?”
smiled and held out his smiter. “Because I get a sword,” he
trigger's one-handed. You can actually use it. But how come I
get everything? I've even got Maple's potions.”
looked to the ground, ashamed. “I'd take them but... Morgan
wanted a sword too.”
flash, she turned around and whipped out the smiter strapped
behind her. Morgan grinned. “Gotta admit it feels good.”
back to the ground, Maple frowned. “Yeah, I guess.”
turned to Carmen and nodded. Carmen spun around and smiled at
Blaine. “Come on, Blaine, we're going to need all those supplies
that point forward, Blaine kept pace with the front of the group
until they reached a fork in the road.
is...” Giles looked up at the cavern walls as they somehow
branched into two directions. “...some very unusual geography
which way do we go?” asked Kathryn.
apparently,” said Troy, pointing to a hand-painted wooden sign.
Somehow its paint was a reflective orange. Along with an arrow
to the left, it read, “Lumine Keep, 3 km.”
made the turn and continued their march. By this time, all
conversation died down. Everybody was too focused on the journey
and wary of any surprises to say anything. As a result, the
silence was unbearable. Wherever they were, there was no audible
sign of either flora or fauna. Everything was either asleep or
dead, save for their own footsteps and Blaine's labored
everybody jumped when Giles said, “Hey, what's that?”
took a moment to calm herself, then asked, “What's what?”
“Something's down the road heading for us.”
Everybody squinted and those with better vision could barely
make out a few brown specks moving toward them. “What are they?”
it was, the sound of them caught up with the sight of them. The
party heard the distinct sound of all-terrain vehicles tearing
through the landscape. There were several.
grinned wildly. “Sounds like our first opponents.”
they were, it would be another half a mile before the group
would find out. As they came into full view, the number hardened
Kathryn gripped their weapons anxiously, but Giles scratched his
head. “Why don't they just teleport?”
laughed. “Come on, Giles, you're working with professionals.
Cammy's had an anti-teleportation spell up since we landed. But
since we've got company anyway, we better say hi.” He clapped
his hands. “Girls?”
did have a spell up the whole time (and if she did, nobody could
tell), she dropped it now to draw a large circle around Reggie.
He shooed everybody outside of it, including his other three
roommates. While he made random scuffs in the dirt with his
shoes, Crystal reached into Blaine's bag and pulled out two
small mirrors. She jammed them into the ground on each side of
the circle. With an eyedropper she pulled from inside her shirt,
she poured two droplets of some reddish liquid on each mirror
and stood back.
that do?” Meg asked her. Crystal just chuckled and stood back.
After aimlessly kicking around the dirt for a couple minutes,
Reggie joined Carmen and Candace behind the circle.
while, the engines grew louder. The enemy grew closer and
closer- seven four-wheelers and a small jeep in one neat row.
Troy, Kathryn, Donovan and Bryce stood behind Reggie's unit and
off to the sides, ready to charge in if whatever they were doing
guys can get up closer. Next to the circle if you want. Get
right behind the mirrors,” said Crystal.
did so eagerly, forcing Bryce to do the same. Troy was more
hesitant, but did as instructed. Kathryn wasn't budging. “You
want us to get run over?” she protested.
four-wheelers braked suddenly, well in front of the mirrors.
They veered over, and continued going single-file behind the
jeep. The jeep, incidentally, headed straight for the circle.
one, Crystal!” shouted Candace.
nice, illusion mirrors,” said a now-calmed Bryce. “Got them to
think the safe road was up the middle. I want some of those.”
“Silence!” commanded Donovan. “Now that they have changed
course, we'll have to maneuver to stop them.”
entered the circle first. With a flick of his hip, Reggie made
the circle go boom, sending the vehicle ten feet into the air.
The four-wheelers, unable to stop in time, each drove into the
circle in turn. In unison, Candace and Carmen set one hand on
their hips and the other in the air. Their stylish poses created
a gigantic whirlwind of fire that engulfed Cammy's entire circle
and everything in it. A few more explosions from Reggie provided
some climactic fireworks.
everything subsided, all that remained were a few tons of scrap
metal and a couple demons with just enough strength to teleport
themselves to a burn ward.
Everybody else stood there in shock. Donovan recovered in time
to fire a meaningless energy ball into the pile and shout,
“Victory is mine!”
to attack the Urayoni fortress in the middle of the night
sounded like a great plan. There was one major caveat they had
failed to consider- time zones. This particular realm operated
on Greenwich Mean Time. It was still morning... just not
same, Claude was still asleep. It took a knock on his door to
jar him awake.
he called, annoyed but not surprised. He had long grown
accustomed to odd hour intrusions from Molly.
me,” said Marie. Claude fidgeted in bed until his magic
convinced the door to open. The room was dark. Marie paused,
stood up straight, concentrated and summoned a light ball on the
picked it up, Claude noticed the concerned look on her face.
“What time is it?”
They told me to wake you up.”
from the MST came through the gate already.”
up, Claude stared back. He grumbled, but wasn't that upset.
“That stupid old man. He must have thought we were doing the
exchange at 8 a.m. here instead of 8 a.m. there. I'm still jet
lagged. Did we send a party to greet them?”
why I came to wake you up,” Marie said, now more nervous. “They
blew up the welcoming party.”
blinked a couple times. “Blew... up?”
the explosion. I don't think the MST is playing diplomat here.”
a moment to get out of bed, struck by the sudden development.
Today was supposed to be simple. Claude already had a signed
agreement. The MST wasn't known for going back on contracts like
let's call the old man and straighten this out,” Claude rushed
out of the room and down the hallway.
followed, short of breath. “But it's the middle of the night
sent a convoy in, he's bound to be awake.”
you're in pajamas.”
stopped, gestured with his leg and was suddenly wearing a
business suit. Marie looked him over and raised her eyebrows.
“Could you teach me that sometime?”
to smooth his hair a bit, but he was presentable enough for the
conference room, where he quickly dialed the MST while turning
on a laptop.
guard that Reggie had blown up answered. He held a compress to
his forehead. “Is that you, Reggie?”
would you please patch me through to Uriel?”
know. Look it up. I'm sure he's awake.”
fine.” The guard muttered. He was still in the gateway control
room. Random security personnel paced by him, some looking at
the screen curiously.
blue screen appeared with the MST insignia and a hold message.
Classical music played in the background. “Wish he would have
told me his extension number,” Claude grumbled.
several minutes, the hold message disappeared and the music
stopped, but the screen remained. “Yes, what is it?” Uriel said.
is your camera?”
know how to turn it on. Not exactly sure I want to be seen
considering you woke me up at 1 am!”
I woke you up. Your diplomatic convoy is about seven hours early
and decidedly hostile. What's going on?”
are you talking about? Why would I send a party at this time of
narrowed his eyes at Marie. Marie jumped in front of the screen
and cried, “They blew up our welcoming party!”
blew up what now?”
Uriel paused. Marie jumped and she turned to Claude. “Can he see
can,” Uriel replied. “You look familiar. Have we met?”
think so.” Sheepish, she said, “But... but somebody's trying to
attack us right now and I smell a backstabbing.”
remember you. You were at Kurt's funeral. Aren't you Troy's
friend?” Marie gasped. “And you're lecturing me about
Marie's face flushed, Claude tried to pat her on the shoulder.
She shirked it off and stood to the side, away from the camera.
“This is why I hate dealing with them.”
Returning to Uriel, Claude said, “Regardless, you understand
that if someone from the MST is attacking us, all deals are off
and we will have to destroy them.”
assure you we have nothing to do with it,” Uriel asserted.
Molly and Yuki's sake, let's hope so,” Claude added, ending the
now?” Marie asked, head down.
everybody up. Have Renee prepped for the extraction.”
Already?!” she exclaimed. Marie had heard about the agreement
and found it disgusting. This made things worse. “Don't they
need to give us instructions on how to get that book out of her
sighed. “Obviously they're not handing it over willingly. So
we'll just have to rip it out of her by force.”
widened, Marie cried, “But then she might be-”
they're going to be difficult, so must we. Go on.”
did so slowly, staggering a little on her way out. She opened
the door and paused. “What are you going to do?”
Claude actually smiled. “I'm fetching the Hageshoni.”
was making a follow-up call as well, via telepathy. That poor
guard answered again. “What? I have a headache.”
there any unauthorized departures tonight?” Uriel asked.
you know Reggie?” The guard caught himself and mumbled, “Of
course you know Reggie. Everyone knows Reggie.” Louder, he
continued, “He and about ten other kids went somewhere, but they
encrypted their destination.”
glowered. “Reggie? As in Hall D Reggie?”
there any other?”
“That's... wonderful,” he muttered, ending the conversation. His
first order of business was to find an aspirin and a coffee
maker. This was going to be a long night.
again, Giles was the first to see the next landmark. He also saw
the cavern walls seem to convene at that central point and fork
out from there. “Whoever designed this world didn't make it look
very organic. It's like a parking garage with cliffs. Fortress
isn't very creative either.”
hearing the word 'fortress,' everyone started listening. “You
see it?” asked Troy.
It's the ugly brown thing right straight ahead. They could have
at least painted it green or something.”
staring long enough, he eventually spotted it. Once he did, Troy
was surprised he hadn't noticed it. Tall walls encircled a
modest encampment. It was slightly downhill, so he saw a
courtyard fully enclosed by the walls.
doesn't look too far away.” Kathryn said.
taking pictures storming it?” Donovan muttered.
storming's good!” Mindy shouted excitedly. She pulled out
Morgan's smiter and charged down.
people shouted “Wait!” but she was gone. They chased after her,
most expecting this hasty attack to result in some sort of trap.
Troy and Kathryn were mostly surprised that it was someone
besides Donovan acting reckless.
caught up to Mindy a few hundred yards later. She was out of
breath. Meg had taken over and sheathed the smiter. “Sorry, once
Mindy gets excited...”
know,” Giles mumbled.
catching her breath, Meg looked at the castle again. “Is it me
or does it seem farther away now?”
they didn't seem to be any closer to the fortress. It also
seemed to have gotten a little bigger.
it does. Let's keep going and see what happens,” said Reggie.
happened was their march to the castle took forever. A mile
later, they realized that the castle was goddamn huge and that
the sign Troy had seen earlier was accurate. When they reached
the bottom of the slope, they found the fortress walls
stretching nearly sixty feet high.
also saw the only way in: two large doors sealed shut. Giles
derisively said something about the lack of a moat or
make it any easier to get in,” Meg said.
could go over,” Troy suggested.
there, we're helpless against anyone shooting at us on the other
blast through the walls,” Donovan said.
Kathryn rolled their eyes. Reggie shook his head, but otherwise
took the suggestion seriously. “Nah, they coated the walls with
an anti-magic finish. You have to in places like this.”
pondered this out loud. “That means we can't blow them up or
manipulate them with earth magic... but if we leave them intact
can we see through them?”
raised her eyebrows. “You know a spyhole spell?”
Mindy does. Cover us while she tries it out.” Meg, or maybe it
was Mindy now, approached the wall cautiously. Actually, that
meant it probably wasn't Mindy. Whoever it was, she reached the
edge of the wall. What was certainly Mindy raised her arm high
into the air, brought it down and planted it firmly in the wall.
works it works!” she shouted. “I can see!”
what's on the other side?!” Morgan shouted, confusing everybody.
of guards charging through the doors to kill us!” Mindy replied,
far too happy about this.
then, a bunch of guards charged through the doors to kill them.
Reflexively, Meg spun and hit them all with a deluge of water.
It was nothing more than an annoying distraction, but it bought
her time to send Morgan after them with a smiter. Troy, Kathryn,
Reggie, Giles and Bryce rushed in to attack.
shield!” Reggie shouted. A few steps behind the fray, Cammy
stood in place and didn't seem to do anything. One of the demons
fired a bolt of energy at Troy, but her shield covered
didn't block sword slashes though and each of the ten guards
were packing. The MST had trained its students to use their
non-dominant hands to allow spellcasting during swordplay. The
guards seemed to be split fifty-fifty: half were less clumsy
with their weapons while the other half were capable of using
magic as well. After the first few parries, Morgan and Giles
were already back to using their right hands.
virtue of their unique triggers, Reggie and Kathryn didn't have
to worry about any of that and it showed. They each engaged a
demon head on, dominating their fronts. When a pair tried to
double-team Kathryn, she blocked both and shoved them back
she shouted. Troy evaded a swipe from the guard on him, jumped
out of the barrier and crushed one of Kathryn's opponents with
an ice blast. Just as he did, he received a ball of dark matter
directly into his left shoulder. He fell back through the shield
and onto the ground.
behind everything, Candice and Carmen had no openings and didn't
dare jump into the front line unarmed. This was a problem as the
battle was a stalemate at best. There was no way six students
could take on ten skilled guards evenly and Cammy's shield
worked both ways. Worse yet, the fortress doors closed behind
could, however, comment. “Someone got hit!” Carmen shouted.
“Blaine, help him!”
checked with Donovan, but he was staring up at the walls for
some reason. With a shrug, Blaine stepped forward and used an
air spell to propel one of Maple's potions over to Troy.
are you doing anyway?” Crystal asked Donovan. “The battle's over
it...” Donovan said mysteriously. Crystal shrugged it off, but
Donovan added, “Blaine, come with me” and walked off.
it, sir?” Blaine asked. Donovan cast a flight spell. Looking
back at the equipment sack he had left with Reggie's girls,
said nothing as they flew to the top of the ridiculously high
walls. Blaine looked down again, seeing Bryce and Giles take
hits and everybody else struggling just to keep it even. When he
looked back up, he almost ran into Donovan, who had stopped just
shy of the top of the wall.
men?” ordered a guard directly on the other side of the parapet.
He and several others charged up spells, aiming at the melee
below. Donovan rose above them and charged up something of his
shouted Donovan, launching a hell of an energy blast at the
guards. It hit and incapacitated several of them... and put a
large hole in the top of the wall, which apparently wasn't
magically reinforced. Donovan descended upon the few that
remained and smirked.
him, Blaine landed and helped clear out the survivors. In spite
of its height, the top of the wall served as an accessible guard
tower. The giant hole was actually hollowed-out for storage.
that's-” Blaine screamed as he felt something clutch his jacket
and rise into the air. The planks below him caved in and Candace
landed on the parapet. She fired in the other direction.
him, Carmen chuckled as she started to descend, “Careful now.
They got guys on both sides, you know.” Blaine looked back as
Candace and Donovan finished all the guards attempting to sneak
up from behind.
touching the floor again, Blaine sighed. “Thanks, girls.”
now, we have the high ground to rain down hell,” Donovan
necessary,” replied Crystal, rising over the parapet. She towed
Cammy, keeping her shield up to protect the entire group as they
weren't getting a lot done down there so we thought we'd bug you
guys,” Reggie said.
can get in that way!” Candace pointed to the door behind the
giant hole Donovan created.
probably follow us,” Troy said. “I'd like to have a way out.”
worry!” Morgan said, grinning and casting a spell to replace
most of the giant hole.
does that help?”
jumped into the section of hole that remained. “We'll stay
behind and Mindy will keep watch. Once Morgan patches this up,
they won't know we're here. I'll keep you posted.”
Confused, Meg replied, “Magic. How else? I can contact Giles
with telepathy. Now get going before they catch up.”
going to be okay on your own?”
lonely, two's company, three's a crowd... four's a goddamn
party. We'll be fine,” Morgan said, replacing the floor that
everybody used to finally access the fortress properly.
burst into Renee's cell unannounced, waking her from her sleep
by slamming the door open, shining hallway light into her eyes
and attaching a leash to her anti-magic bracelets before she
knew what was going on. Disoriented, Renee was dragged
practically the entire way to the examination room. She didn't
know what time it was, she didn't know what was going on, but
she did not like being tied down to that table again. Renee
fought it this time, but was helpless against the straps and
time she had been brought here, a doctor was in immediately to
perform whatever insidious examination he cared to. This time,
once the guards left, the room was silent and pitch black. Renee
couldn't move, see or hear. After ten minutes of this, she
couldn't feel either. Her arms, legs and back were going numb.
If not for her chest heaving and staggered breathing, she would
have wondered if she were still alive. Even with them, she
wondered if she would be for much longer.
heard footsteps outside. Renee's breathing grew heavier, moaning
a little as the door opened. When the figure turned the lights
back on, Renee was blinded again.
hell did they turn the lights off?” Marie said angrily.
eyes focused again, and she was surprised how relieved she was
to see Marie. It may have been her fear of the alternative.
“Marie... what's going on?” she mumbled.
what I was afraid of. All hell's breaking loose.” Marie grabbed
a chair from the corner and sat next to the table. “Your people
have really done it this time.”
made a deal with Claude to trade Grimoire 17 for Yuki and Molly.
I thought that was bad enough-”
Interrupting, Renee asked, “What about me?”
shrugged. “I don't know. Recalibrated and sent home probably.
They wouldn't need you for anything else, unless they really
felt like being dicks and wanted to bait your sister. But
now...” She sighed.
just sent some troops through the gate. Took out our welcome
wagon and they're trying to get in as we speak.”
Obviously, Renee didn't find this news nearly as bad. “They're
trying to rescue us?”
“Trying's the key word. It makes no sense. Why would they agree
to take Yuki and Molly back and leave you for dead? And then
screw those two over and mount an offensive after telling
us you have the grimoire?”
was totally with Marie up to that last part. “What? I don't have
chuckle escaped out of Marie. “No use playing dumb; the force
sent Claude documentation that it's inside you. Guess that
explains your surgery last December.”
that was to embed a magical item that would absorb-” Renee
gasped as she caught herself. No wonder she didn't get that
fancy rune she had anticipated.
shuddered. “They didn't even tell you what they were putting
into your own body?” She gritted her teeth, trying not to become
too angry. “Should have figured.”
was more frantic than angry. She sat up and craned as much as
the restraints allowed. It wasn't much. “So how do they get it
of Hageshoni are coming to take out the attackers. They're
escorting one of our doctors that will perform the operation.
But without proper instructions on how to get to it...” Marie
couldn't say the rest. It wasn't pretty.
Renee, it was even uglier. “What about the curse?”
Marie narrowed an eyebrow.
yeah, that's why they did the operation. To put something in to
absorb the curse Donovan gave me. If they take the book out,
does the curse stay in the book, find someone else... or go back
stood up, livid. “Nobody said anything about any curse to us!
How bad is it?”
looked down. “Molly said it was fatal if it stays somewhere long
God...” Marie paced around, searching the counters. “Do you
remember what it was called?”
a pen and paper, Marie gave her best approximation at spelling
it. “Never heard of it, but it sounds pretty nasty. I have to
practically jogged to the door, opened it a crack, then stopped,
breathed and turned back to Renee. “Renee, I don't know what
exactly's going to happen, but if that book has some curse that
could kill you or the doctor, maybe I can stop all this. Much as
I want to get that grimoire away from the MST, it's not worth
anyone else getting hurt.” With a faint smile, she added, “I'm
kinda okay with you having it.”
Marie faced the exit again, Renee called for her to stop. She
did. “Marie, does telling anybody about it matter right this
Marie replied, “Well, I guess there's nothing we can do until
the doctor shows up. Why?”
um...” Renee glanced aside. “I know it's kind of weird to ask,
but this is a pretty freaky room to be stuck alone in. And I'm
really scared right now.”
blame you.” Marie stepped forward, letting the door close.
feel a lot better if I had someone here with me.”
Marie sat back down in the table-side chair. “Me too,” she
admitted. “There's a bunch of angry guys outside trying to bust
in and kill us all. I'm scared to death.”