was a small security team on campus, but none of them seemed all
that eager to help catch Donovan. After all, the only crime he
had actually committed was using magic in the library, which was
hardly a capital offense (and if it was, Molly and company were
guilty of the far greater crime of talking in the library). So
Molly, Meg and Kathryn were on their own chasing after him. As
they left, Meg mentioned that Giles probably needed healing
upstairs, but ran by before she could confirm that the librarian
had actually heard it.
campus mall wasn't that crowded, so Meg fired water spells at
him as they pursued on foot. But she realized that Donovan was
flying at quite an impressive speed, meaning that he not only
dodged them, but also distanced himself from her as she slowed
down to cast her spells. Molly had tired from sprinting and took
flight while Kathryn just tried to catch up to him and bop him
on the head. She was by far the fastest of the three, but
couldn't gain any ground.
them into the Forest of Unspeakable Peril. Kathryn rushed in,
but lost sight of him immediately. Suddenly, she was alone in
there. The place was darker under the canopy, quieter and far
more ominous. She had never really felt it before, but the FUP
could actually be quite scary when alone without the prospect of
getting laid. Especially when someone was liable to attack.
her staff up, ready to block anything that came her way.
Rustling branches from every direction made her bounce back
around, unsure where the attack would come from. Donovan was
here somewhere. She could feel it.
“Kathryn!” shouted Morgan. Kathryn jumped at the sound.
it's just us,” added Meg. “You shouldn't get so far ahead.”
followed, breathless. “When did I get out of shape?”
track in high school! Nobody can keep up with her!” Mindy
exclaimed, ignoring how Kathryn just had.
Kathryn snickered, and would have said something to further
belittle Molly, but she was the only one who saw the energy ball
flying in towards Mindy. Diving in with her staff, she only
barely swatted it down.
returned fire and her blast connected with something. Due to the
thick brush, she couldn't tell what until she heard the demon
respond, “You fool! How dare you strike one of your own!
wasn't Donovan,” Kathryn said. It was that nasty high-pitched
voice that left her both scared and confused. “Was it?”
been possessed,” said Molly, trigger at the ready.
thought he already was possessed.”
either he was possessed again or he lost control of the demon
that feeling,” Meg muttered. “So what's the plan?”
shrugged. “Beat the hell out of him. What else?”
we do that?”
Molly's surprise, that was a difficult question to answer. They
knew which direction Donovan fired from, and Molly's attack
certainly hit him, but they couldn't see him. Charging in
blindly was dangerous, yet he wasn't coming to them... another
starters, we need to find him,” she said. “Draw him out of
Morgan shouted, throwing his fist into the ground. A jolt
rippled through the earth, cutting up a path in front of them
and splitting the obstructing brush.
was in front of them.
didn't hear him move,” said Meg. “Any volunteers to check?”
shrugged and clutched her staff. “I'll go. I've got a stick.”
it out in front of her, hoping it would automatically block
anything headed her way. She wasn't confident in her own ability
to defend what she couldn't see. Yet nothing suggested that
Donovan was around. Behind the brush, there was a nice friendly
clearing that would have provided the perfect outpost, but
nobody was camped there.
she figured she'd better be thorough and approached it.
no!” shouted Mindy as Kathryn placed her foot down. “It's a-”
circle exploded and Kathryn went down in a heap.
the hell did he learn a mine circle?” Molly muttered. Meg rushed
up to check on Kathryn, letting Maple start a healing potion.
clutched her head. “Oh... well, he was here.”
they worked, Molly looked around. Donovan was setting traps,
using cover and being patient. Something was definitely wrong
with all this. Of all things, attacking Mindy and Kathryn was
the only thing remotely normal about him.
it wasn't like Molly couldn't play this too. She cast a spell to
momentarily part a small bit of brush, and panned around, hoping
to catch a glimpse of him. She did... on the opposite side of
the clearing. Strengthening her spell, she split a little more
brush and got a better view: he was preparing a spell.
Molly shouted to his target, just as he fired.
Maple,” she said, looking at Molly. Instead, she saw the ball of
dark matter strike her in the face.
“Donovan!” Molly charged into the woods after him, casting a
flight spell to guide her through the thick grass.
disappeared from his spot, but Molly heard his trampling in
front of her. Whatever was going on, she couldn't lose him. She
needed answers. After all, he had just been cleared of any
wrongdoing. So what was all this about?
she reached another clearing and Donovan was standing there,
smirking back at her. He also had a spell at the ready and fired
it straight at her. With her flight spell up, she had no way to
Suddenly, she was flat on the ground. No explosion, no circles,
no barriers. He merely dispelled her flight. Molly looked up at
him. He didn't seem to be going anywhere.
the hell are you doing?” she asked.
horrible, demonic voice replied, “Why should I answer that? I
answer to nobody! If you really wish to challenge me, then
prepare to meet your end, silly girl.”
me,” Molly said, sneering. She may have been on the ground, but
she could still move her fingers.
as fast as Donovan could move his hands. Realizing this, Molly
chose a shield and braced herself.
teleported away. Right when he appeared to finally attack head
on, he vanished. Molly picked herself up and looked around, not
taking down the shield.
bugger.” Molly almost dropped the shield to attack the voice
directly behind her, but stopped when she saw Smittle. He
lowered his shotgun. “Told him to keep better control of that
sighed, for once happy to see some faculty presence. “We need to
go back and find Kathryn and Maple.”
Saw them. He flattened 'em good. Come on.” Smittle turned around
and marched through the brush. Molly had no choice but to
looking around the woods, but Donovan was gone.
Troy and Yuki were playing Yahtzee in the dorm. They had no idea
anything was going on. It was just a light weekday afternoon for
know about you guys, but my session was pretty calm and easy. It
was nice,” Yuki said.
shrugged and smiled at Renee. “I got no complaints.”
chuckle, Renee said, “Is Kathryn feeling any better?”
idea. She'll probably be fine again when we get back to school
shook her head. “I don't know. She wouldn't tell me what was
wrong. Usually I can figure it out pretty quickly, but she
wasn't talking this time.”
too worried,” Troy insisted.
light rapping on the door was casual enough that they almost
dismissed it as someone else's- more peaceful dorm room ambiance
to coincide with Troy's dice rolling.
knocking continued, Renee turned to the door. It seemed so far
away. “Bryce!” she called.
came. She turned to Troy and Yuki and shrugged. “Worth a try.”
door,” Troy said.
hopped out of her chair, mumbling, “I so need minions.” Even
that sounded pleasant.
wasn't until she saw Marlowe on the other end that things became
dour. Except for his grin. “Is Molly back?”
Renee replied, frowning. “I don't know when she'll-”
just wait, then.” He walked in, brushing past Renee and joining
Troy and Yuki at the table.
kept on playing. “She's doing guardian stuff, so she might be a
while. Can we leave a note for her?”
shrugged. “I suppose.” Troy nodded, flipped over his scoresheet
and looked up. “Tell her that we're holding this unit
responsible for finding and capturing Donovan before his demon
takes full control and possesses him to do something serious.”
demon's taking over?!” Renee cried.
“...finding and capturing Donovan before...” Troy mumbled,
trying to transcribe properly amidst the interjections.
shrugged and smiled. “Yes, apparently he went a little crazy at
the library. Molly and Kathryn were trying to chase him down.
They should be getting back from the clinic soon.” He waved his
hand over the dice, causing them all to show a five.
“Yahtzee,” he added with a chuckle.
they all right?” Renee asked.
sure, Smittle got to them in the FUP and scared off Donovan
before he could do anything else, but fact remains that he's
still on the loose.”
burst through the front door and marched past them, stopping
only when she saw Marlowe. “Already?” she muttered.
travels fast,” Marlowe said.
Kathryn?” Yuki asked Molly.
was caught in the middle of a violent explosion.” Molly
shuddered. “I'm not insane enough to wake her up after that.
Thankfully that Kiki girl is attending the clinic right now. She
seemed insane enough.”
Troy handed Marlowe the message. “You read it.”
took it and played along: “The MST is holding this unit
responsible for finding and capturing Donovan before his demon
takes full control and possesses him to do something serious.”
He set it down and smiled at Troy. “Wow, word for word. Nice
clutched her head. “You're not going to help us find him?”
I consider the matter an internal affair within your unit.”
wouldn't have to do with the fact that you don't want anyone
higher up finding out you let Donovan keep that demon?”
waved off the accusation. “Not at all! Chancellor Whalen knows
about it. But if we devote too much personnel into hunting him
down, other people tend to get wind of it. It gets into the
papers, parents find out we've got a student with a demon and
then the owls start to come in.”
reference,” Renee said.
you,” he replied, turning back to Molly. “So I'd be much obliged
if you'd take care of this one yourself. You know him the best
anyway, so unless the demon took full control of his body you
guys are best prepared to deal with this.”
team us with Meg and make it our field assignment?” Molly asked.
And like I said, the less property damage, the better.”
should we?” Troy asked suddenly. “I mean he went and did
something stupid. Why can't you guys take care of it? We're not
is!” Marlowe said cheerfully, raising a finger. “And having a
member lose control and turning on us doesn't earn the unit very
high marks. You're going to be looking for field jobs in the
future and the MST likes to keep units intact. This is a
promising group and I'm sure they'd rather stick you with a job
that isn't godawful.”
you at least get rid of the demon once we catch him?” Molly
shrugged. “I suppose. It was a noble effort, but there seems to
be a downside to letting our students retain evil powers.”
we'll find him right away. I'll let you know if we need help.”
“Excellent! I'll leave you to finish your game.”
moment Marlowe shut the door behind him, Renee said, “You're
really just giving in like that? If Donovan's possessed
sighed and sat down. “Yes, I know it's dangerous, but I'm not
about to wait for Marlowe to suck it up and ask for
the rush?” Troy said. “If Donovan does something really bad,
they'll have to act.”
not Donovan, though. It's his demon. And the longer we wait, the
more control the demon will get. We might lose him completely.”
remained indifferent. “So?”
stared forward. “Say what you will about Donovan, but he is not
weak. The MST can work all they want with him, but it takes
great strength to keep control of that demon for as long as he
still lost it.”
Which tells me that something's wrong with him. And we need to
get him back and fix it before it's too late.”
the rest of the unit starting the hunt for Donovan, Molly
grabbed Kathryn and Giles from the clinic and returned to the
we back here?” Kathryn asked. “I'd be better off hunting the
answered, “If he's truly being possessed, it would help to know
what he was trying to look up here. Maybe it'll help us figure
out what he's planning. It might even tie in with the Yovoni and
could help out Vincent.” This time he pronounced the name
correctly. Molly preferred it wrong.
shrugged. “That and I left my work here.”
collected it, slung her bag over her shoulder and led them to
of you remember where he flew?”
“Absolutely,” Giles said, pointing to the second floor.
groaned. “You mean we have to fly up there again? I thought we
weren't supposed to use magic in here.”
Giles cast a spell emitting a beam of light from his fingertip
to the site of the crime. “It's still magic, but they won't mind
so where are the stairs?”
“They're...” Molly paused. She wasn't entirely sure. She had
only used the online catalog before. “Somewhere around here.”
problem was that there were still shelves on the main floor. And
they were cramped and anything but user-friendly. Whatever
cataloging system the librarians used was archaic, so nobody
really browsed the stacks. Thus, there was no incentive to
making it navigable. Still, there had to be stairs somewhere.
After minutes of hunting, Molly and Kathryn found a door marked
'employees only.' along the back wall.
either it's stairs or the break room,” Kathryn said.
it'll set off every alarm in the building,” Molly replied.
Shrugging, she pushed it open.
found a marvel inside: it was the library's inner storeroom,
mechanized through magic. Books flew overhead in every
direction, somehow not colliding with each other due to some
profound routing system. It wasn't automated: a half-dozen
overworked magi were maneuvering everything. They saw Molly and
Kathryn and probably recognized them as trespassers, but were
too busy perpetuating the system to tell them to stop.
staircase was on the far end of the room, past the floating wall
How do we get through?” Molly asked.
books. They knock down pretty easily,” Kathryn replied, holding
up her staff.
they'd appreciate that.” Molly drew a wide circle on her magic
marker and kneeled inside it. “I'll send this back for you.”
fired off her spell and the circle flew her under the books.
Molly ducked as best she could, but some of the lowest books
still scraped her scalp. She rubbed the top of her head for a
bit before sending the circle back.
waiting for a signal, she heard a commotion on the floor. Were
the librarians more apt to use force than she expected? Molly
was tempted to abandon the circle and ready something defensive.
Neither were necessary as Kathryn swatted the last book down.
I don't trust those things,” she said.
Apparently, the books took offense as one flew into the back of
her head. Then another. The whole lot of them, including several
Kathryn had batted down, rose and seemed to be targeting her.
never piss off librarians,” Kathryn mumbled. She and Molly
bolted for the stairs, dodging books the whole way.
before the thousand-page folio reached them, they reached the
second floor and slammed the door. They heard the collision from
it and several other books that sounded like they fit Molly's
strict definition of a tome. The second floor stacks were
deceivingly deep. From the main floor of library, it looked like
a small terrace, but the wall was farther back than Molly had
Giles is still pointing,” Molly said as they hiked back to the
Thankfully, Giles was patiently casting his light beam on the
same spot. He saw them and waved back.
followed the beam to the spot where Donovan had landed before.
“Remember where he was looking?” Molly asked.
Up here.” Kathryn led her the rest of the way and pointed at the
shelf on the left.
had a few ideas, mostly involving old logs of Mynoni secrets.
She wasn't expecting this. “Hageshoni military history?” She
looked around. The whole aisle, possibly more, was dedicated to
it. As resident warmongers, they had a lot of military history.
would Donovan be looking at this?” Kathryn asked.
no idea. These aren't even forbidden. Nobody would bat an eye if
he had searched for this material through normal means.”
does that mean?”
he was trying to lead us on,” said Giles, suddenly standing next
to them. Molly jumped.
it off, Molly asked. “How did you get up here?”
anyone see you?”
librarian asked why I was using that beam spell and I explained
the basics to her. Turns out Marlowe told them we might be
showing up to investigate. She said I could go ahead and fly up
Molly and Kathryn's head injuries seemed to sting even more.
he wanted to make us think he was looking for something improper
so he could lead us into a trap,” Giles said.
way, we're done here.” Molly declared.
continued to clutch her head. “What? But we just got up here.”
nodded. “Even if Donovan was looking for something, we didn't
give him a chance to find it.”
there's so much material here that there's no way we could find
something suspicious,” Molly added.
we should stick around in case he tries to come back.”
idea. Thanks for volunteering.” Molly grabbed Kathryn's shirt
sleeve and prepared to fire off a spell.
are you going?”
some aspirin.” With that, Molly and Kathryn vanished. Giles
shrugged, picked most interesting book he could find off the
shelves, and sat by the balcony to keep watch.
wasn't entirely sure how he was saddled with the task of
searching the Forest of Unspeakable Peril for Donovan, but at
least he was doing it with Renee.
Smittle. “Now don't you two get any naughty ideas while you're
in here.” Troy wasn't so pleased with having a psychotic game
warden crashing the party.
grumbled, Renee put a hand on his shoulder and whispered, “Did
you really think Molly would let us in here ourselves?”
“Precisely,” said Smittle. Renee blushed; she hadn't meant for
him to hear that. “Seems that demon has some punch behind him.
No guardian worth her salt would throw you two against him on
record, we've faced Donovan as a demon before,” Troy stated.
Troy, he kicked our butts,” Renee said.
forged ahead through the narrow path. “Plus he has the defensive
advantage in here. So keep your ears open.”
hard to keep their ears open for Donovan when other, lesser
creatures were eager to defend their territory. Smittle made
quick work of them with his shotgun.
blasting away hodag number four, Renee said, “You know, if we're
trying to sneak up on Donovan, maybe shooting every monster you
come across isn't a great idea.”
matter. If he's still in here, he knows we are too.”
doesn't have to know where,” Troy said.
he come to us than spend all day wandering.”
folded his arms. “I'm fine spending all day wandering.”
ain't no fun. Now shut up.” Smittle aimed his shotgun carefully.
Troy and Renee hushed up and let him. Usually he didn't aim, so
this must have been important. Something hunting them, destined
to swoop in while they weren't suspecting anything.
a shot, looked at his target for a moment and swore to himself.
miss it?” Troy asked.
got it all right,” the warden said. “It's a roc.”
the bird or the... rock?” Renee said. God help them if it was
They usually prefer high altitudes. Buggers aren't supposed to
be around here. They eat all the basilisks; messes up the food
shrugged. “So you shot it. What's the problem?”
was just the baby. 'Scuse me for a moment.”
mother burst through the canopy- a giant, angry bird of prey
with her sights set on the three humans. Troy and Renee dove for
cover and cowered. The roc dove after them first, but Troy
doused it with water to deter her. She shook the water out of
her feathers, giving Smittle enough time to fire into the air.
Spooked, the roc flew away.
jumped on her leg as she flew off, yelling, “Gotta find her nest
and torch it. Back in a few!”
Renee crawled from under their hiding place and watched him fly
us,” Troy said.
hoping he'd stock a dragon in here one of these days, but if he
can't even stand a roc or two, forget it,” Renee mumbled in
dismay. “So what do we do now?”
think Donovan's in here,” Troy declared, sitting on a stump. “I
mean, when was the last time he ever used a strategy?”
snuck up on us the first time he was possessed.”
but he still attacked us then. We've been out here for an hour
he didn't want to attack us with Mr. Smittle around.”
shook his head. “If he was close enough to know that we were
with Smittle, Smittle would have heard him. Besides, there's no
reason for him to be in here.”
he could be randomly plugging monsters again, but I guess we
would have heard that.”
nodded. “It doesn't feel right. Donovan is not in here.”
paused for a moment. Despite his words, he was ready for Donovan
to charge out of the bushes and strike. Donovan could never
resist such irony. It's half the reason Troy made such a
should we wait for Smittle or just get out of here?” Renee
asked, looking around. The sun was starting to set and the light
was starting to reflect in different directions and colors.
we-” A noise in the bushes startled Renee. She shrieked and
threw her arms around Troy. Out popped a squirrel. An ordinary
gray squirrel. Good thing Smittle wasn't there or he probably
would have shot that as well.
get Renee into Troy's arms. He smiled. “Well... while we're in
chuckled and cooed, “That's one idea. Hope he's busy for a
lunged up and kissed him. He kept it going, keeping his arms
wrapped around her and caressing her back. They fell to the
ground, not that it stopped them at all.
didn't roll around for very long, however. Just as Troy started
to contemplate the first stages of clothing removal, the trees
rattled once again. Troy and Renee separated and sat up in time
to see Smittle fly in, landing on his feet and clutching a huge
egg. His forehead was bleeding heavily.
right, that's taken care of,” he said. “Anyone want an
and Kathryn returned to the dorm first. Molly sat at the table,
trying to figure out what Donovan could have been up to. It was
a puzzle as much as it was a hunt, as this overt effort at
stealth wasn't like either Donovan or a possessing demon. She
would have to continue contemplating this.
took a nap on the couch.
when demons took control of somebody, they committed all sorts
of acts of terror. Property was destroyed, people were hurt and
lives were disrupted, even ended. It was the best way to unleash
direct havoc on the masses as the puppet human usually ended up
taking the rap. Most demons that successfully gain control of an
MST student wouldn't hesitate to lay waste to the academy. Molly
doubted Donovan would have objected to this much.
was with all the sneaking around? Donovan had attacked Giles and
Meg, so he was clearly hostile. But he wasn't doing anything
else but wandering the woods and trying to look up information
that was neither sensitive nor a secret. All this in the most
suspicious way possible. He usually did that sort of thing
anyway. What was the demon trying to accomplish?
Troy and Renee returned, Molly asked, “Find anything?”
found out that Smittle knows how to fry a roc egg without a
pan,” Troy replied.
too!” Renee added.
Donovan though. Didn't find anything else that looked suspicious
or demonic either.”
shook her head and turned away. If he was anywhere else on
campus, Marlowe would have dropped her a hint. Odds were that
Donovan was no longer at Central Academy. Whatever he was up to,
that was really bad.
sat across from Molly and patted her hand. “Maybe Donovan's not
really possessed. He might just be in one of his stupid moods.”
there was something about him. He looked different. He sounded
different. And why would he attack Giles and Meg?”
yeah. He actually likes them. Why didn't he attack you and
another point. Kathryn stepped into his trap. Donovan said a lot
to Molly, but never attempted to strike her. But with Smittle
standing behind her, she couldn't tell if he was trying to avoid
hitting his unit or if it was just coincidence.
know. Even if he had some control, he was never all that loyal
to begin with.”
considered that and said, “But that demon was pretty nasty when
he was in full control. If nothing's stopping him, why isn't he
terrorizing the place?”
knocked on the door, preventing Molly from speculating. Yuki
opened it. She had been working on an experiment in the kitchen
and paid no attention to the conversation. She hadn't blown the
dorm up either, so nobody paid attention to her.
thanked Yuki and announced to the group, “Hey, I just had the
craziest thing happen.”
find him?” Renee asked eagerly.
I was camping up at the library watching for him. I got kind of
bored, so I picked one of the books off the shelves to browse.
It was interesting, it went into the motives for all of the wars
the Hageshoni get into. Anyway, I'm reading this for a couple
hours and suddenly it pops right out of my hands and floats down
into the lobby. Their retrieval system is just amazing!”
time he finished, everybody had been ignoring him. When he
stopped, Molly said, “But no Donovan?”
didn't see him. If he's not on campus, maybe he's in a demon
considered that, but his demon isn't technically aligned with a
faction. Kendrick gave it to him, so he might try to side with
the Hokoni. Trouble is I don't see them accepting an outsider
like Donovan without anyone to speak for him.”
does that leave him?” Troy asked.
sat down across from Molly and said, “Well, it depends. Let's
assume he's not on campus. If the demon has full control, he'd
be destroying Indianapolis right about now. Anyone watching the
waved a finger and turned on the television. The top story on
the local news was a flower garden opening downtown. Definitely
not the destruction of Indianapolis.
liked the pretty flowers. “Ooh... I kinda want to see that.”
off the TV, Molly said, “Then let's assume Donovan has some
control still. What then?”
Pondering the question for a moment, Giles answered, “As I
understand it, people trying to regain control over a demon tend
to naturally go to places of personal strength. Sort of like
finding a sanctuary. Does Donovan go to church or anything?”
didn't seem to take offense to the three blank stares he got
from Molly, Troy and Renee, although he accepted them as the
answer. Behind them, Yuki was laughing.
something like his bedroom could work if he spent a lot of time
alone in there. A place where he does hobbies may count to.”
he's not in his room,” Molly said, gesturing to the open door
nodded. “And the only place I can think of like that would be
his dark room back home.”
Frowning, Giles furrowed his eyebrows. “I doubt that would work.
He couldn't get from here to Ohio that quickly.”
nowhere, Yuki was standing behind them. “Should we check, just
and Renee were startled. Troy was just annoyed: “We're not
driving all the way home just in case Donovan felt sentimental
and decided to break the laws of physics.”
don't have to go home.” Yuki smiled brightly. “Renee, can I
borrow your laptop?”
was confused, but retrieved it anyway. It took a few moments
before it warmed up and linked up with the academy's spotty
check the school's security cameras to see if he's there!”
grimaced. “The cameras are closed-circuit. They aren't connected
to the internet. You can't access them outside the school.”
couldn't.” Yuki grinned, almost maniacally. “So I made a few
there on the screen, Yuki could see all of the school's security
cameras. Being spring break, most of them were devoid of
her tongue, Molly said, “Shame we don't have one in the dark
do! Figured it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on Donovan,” Yuki
clicked one camera and it loaded up. “I always wondered why you
never hooked one up.”
I didn't want to know,” Molly replied. “And it's usually dark in
there, so you can't see anything.” When the image pulled up,
Molly was right: it was pitch black.
what night-vision is for!” Yuki pressed a key and parts of the
screen glowed green, revealing the outline of the dark room.
Donovan inside it, sulking.
hell?” Troy asked.
cares? We're leaving,” Molly said. “Immediately.”
about all your stuff?” Giles asked.
for volunteering to pack for us.” Molly nudged Kathryn awake.
“We need to get to him soon. If he went all the way back home,
he must be trying to get control over that demon again. Let's
make sure he does.”