party lasted long into the night. Given the time difference
between Earth and Enriel, it would be four in the morning before
hitting what anybody would call their bedtime. Reggie and his
girls did their best to wear everybody out so they could have
something resembling sleep that night. They were all expected to
be awake at 8:00.
was no booze in Reggie's room, but Molly still woke up with an
awful hangover. She had never gotten the full Reggie's room
experience before and it was more intense than she could have
imagined. She didn't quite remember the details (no one ever
really does), but she knew she had gone well out of her comfort
zone. In spite of that, she didn't hate it.
time Molly went downstairs, Reggie was already there, totally
alert, healthy and nursing a mug of coffee. Molly wasn't sure if
coffee was native to Enriel, but let it go.
grinned as she sat down. “Coffee in the kitchen if you want
some.” Molly stood reflexively as she realized that she
desperately did. In the kitchen, there was indeed a pot of
coffee sitting under what looked like a chemistry experiment
involving a flat coffee filter suspended over a funnel draining
into the pot. She didn't ask questions and poured herself a cup.
the living room, Reggie was still smirking. “Have fun last
rolled her eyes in disgust, which grew when she realized she
didn't know the answer. She sipped her coffee quietly and
pretended to ignore him.
downstairs next. She descended carefully, using the railing and
taking a long breath after she sat down next to Molly.
Unfortunately, the first thing she said to her was, “So... you
actually went to Reggie's room last night?”
back, Molly grumbled, “I didn't realize this was newsworthy.”
shrugged. “Dunno. You don't seem like the Reggie's room type.
Giles seemed proud that he got you in there.”
eyes widened. Almost as a reflex, she asked, “W... what else did
he tell you?”
“Nothing.” Meg looked confused.
on the other hand, leaned forward with a huge smile and
interjected, “Ooh, why?!” Molly looked away. Mindy hunted for a
“Coffee?” Reggie asked, interrupting any potential discussion of
what had happened in his room.
back to him, suddenly calm, Meg replied, “No thanks. I just took
another Lucidrol and I'm just barely keeping it down.”
change the subject, Molly asked, “Feeling any better?”
unconscious on the floor, so it's technically an improvement.”
good follow-up, Molly and Reggie sipped their coffee in silence.
Frank walked through the front door a few minutes later, saw the
three of them and said, “Good. Let's get started. Follow me.”
stood up promptly. Reggie took his time and even made a detour
towards the kitchen. “Hey Mol', want a refill?”
stunned by the sudden nickname, but she gave her mug to Reggie
anyway. “How did he make coffee?” asked Frank. Molly didn't
full mugs, they followed Frank out to the business end of the
compound. He opened the door marked 'Command Center' and said,
“This is where we monitor the world and its magic output. It's a
good way to keep tabs on any conflicts going on.”
was stunned at the room. It had no pretense of being in a rustic
cabin in a world simulating a bygone age. The only indication
that they were even in another world was the live satellite
image of the entirety of Enriel dominating the wall-to-wall
display on the far end. Four workstations each had a touchscreen
monitor allowing deeper views, a second display for random data
and a printer. Curiously, nobody was inside.
Dumbfounded, Molly asked, “What happened to medieval fantasy
world? What's powering all this?”
said Frank, Reggie and Meg. None of them seemed fazed by any of
motioned for each of the three to have a seat and walked up to
the monitor. “Since it's clear that at least one of you are new
to the concept of realms, I will start by saying that calling
this a world is a bit misleading. Like most realms created by
MST terraformers, Enriel is a single landmass surrounded by
big?” asked Meg.
about the size of Montana.” They looked at the map again. Not
that Montana was small, but Enriel looked like a vast continent
with several distinct regions from the snow-capped mountains in
the northeast to the desert in the southwest. Between the two
were plains, forests and grasslands, some spots in better
condition than others. With that kind of variety, it could have
been the size of North America.
are we on there?” Molly asked. Frank typed something into a
nearby console and an indicator light flashed on the monitor.
They were towards the center of the continent, but closer to the
desert than anything else. This made no sense given the hills
and lush forest they had walked through.
the dubious geography, nobody raised any questions and Frank
continued, staring at the map. “Enriel is home to four different
races, three of which have each historically ruled over a
some more and an overlay of what appeared to be political
boundaries appeared on the map. The smallest of the three
kingdoms, covering the northeast, was shaded blue. “Dwarves
occupy Tulas in the north. We probably won't be dealing with
them much.” Frank hit another key and the second kingdom,
covering the western and central region, filled green. “Endrell
had once been the territory for elves, but has fallen under
Hageshoni control. It's been developed and industrialized and
will be our primary focus.”
final territory covered the entire southern half of the
continent. Now it was yellow. “Ursu is mostly desert and
badlands, although the area we are in is one of a few livable
regions. The assorted Puurxan tribes are technically in control,
although the orcs migrate here from the north every winter.
While they aren't officially demons, the orcs act as sort of the
muscle for the Hageshoni. They've found that they have a lot in
do the Puurxan side with?” Meg asked.
finally turned around. “That's going to be the big question.
They and the dwarves tend to stay out of local politics. The
dwarves do forge materials and weapons for the Hageshoni, but
that is a strictly financial arrangement. They won't take arms.
The Hokoni have already begun spreading their message around and
creating anger within the elves. With the Hageshoni controlling
Endrell, the effort will likely succeed.”
we're going to need somebody for our team,” Molly said.
of,” Frank said. “The first objective is for the Hokoni to thin
out the Hageshoni ranks. Once the Hageshoni take care of them,
we march in. We already have a good relationship with the
Puurxan, and having them fighting alongside us improves our
chances, but it isn't essential.”
and Meg looked at each other, confused. Molly raised a hand.
“So... what are we supposed to be doing?”
afternoon, the Hokoni are sending a delegation to Lania's tribe
in an effort to sway them over. Since they are unfamiliar with
the Hokoni, the tribe has asked me to advise them. That's our
smiled. “Ah, I get you. Prevent any funny business and get them
off our turf?”
shook his head. “Not at all. We want the Puurxan to go to war
for the Hokoni... then be ready to double-cross them the moment
we tell them to.”
wasn't a long trip to the Puurxan village, but only because
Enriel had at least advanced far enough to domesticate the
horse... or at least the local equivalents, which looked and
smelled different but had a similar physical structure and
filled the same purpose. Nobody asked what it was actually
called for fear it was the source of the unidentifiable pink
two of them were able to haul a wagon long enough for the whole
group, including Lania. She had already explained that
additional domestic assistance had arrived to feed everybody,
and they were nice enough to watch over Toma. Conversation had
turned to the details of the mission.
me get this straight... we want to work with the Hokoni?” Troy
nodded. “We want them to do as much damage to the Hageshoni as
they can before we expend our resources. We're not so much
working with the Hokoni as we are encouraging the Puurxan to.”
are we armed to the teeth?” Kathryn asked. Smiters lined the
sides of the wagon, which also had berths and portholes,
apparently for sniping. Other than Frank and Lania, they were
also dressed in the same dark brown shirt and matching pants.
While their linen composition matched the period better, it felt
more like a uniform to Kathryn.
still demons... they may not appreciate our help.”
sat back. It was a bumpy, unpleasant ride and she couldn't see
outside from her vantage point. Renee's face was plastered
against the nearest porthole; she seemed to be ignoring the
conversation inside. Kathryn couldn't pinpoint what exactly it
was, but she didn't like this. The whole thing seemed dubious.
heard Molly's voice say, “You're probably right to be
suspicious.” Kathryn darted her head towards Molly. She was
staring back, pinching her earlobe. “I don't like where this is
going, but play along for now.”
wanted to say something back, but the exact phrasing wasn't
coming to her. Not that had any clue how to reply to telepathy.
Puurxan village was a forty-minute ride away. They had left the
woods and were in a stretch of flat plains. It was a windy day
that blew warm desert air into the faces of everyone that poked
their heads out of the wagon as it pulled into town.
sandstone walls surrounded the town, providing some break from
the wind as the wagon passed through. They weren't tall enough
to pose a challenge to any mage, but not even a Puurxan could
jump over them. It wasn't a huge town, but it was a serviceable
population center judging from the size of the marketplace they
were passing through.
bazaar was lined with shops for grocers and artisans, all
eagerly selling to the Puurxan pedestrians. At least they had
been. Everybody seemed to stop to stare at the passing wagon.
Occasionally, one of the shopkeepers with more touristy trinkets
would make a sales pitch, but most remained silent. They just
watched, leery of the foreigners.
troop could only draw so much from the village, but the place
seemed to make enough sense. There were sturdy, decorated houses
in one area and rows of ramshackle teepees gathered in another.
They didn't stop to speculate on the town's income disparity,
however, as they approached the village hall. It was only one
story tall, but it was an impressive story that lent some height
to an otherwise stark, rectangular exterior at the center of
Puurxan male, evidently older judging by his slower stride than
all the spry youngsters previously encountered, greeted them.
His multi-layered green robes gave him away as a tribe elder
jumped out of the wagon and nodded at him. “Sorry we're late.
Had to reschedule some things from last night.”
you for coming,” said the elder. “They should be arriving
shortly and we want to know much about them.”
Everybody disembarked, with a valet (or some stable boy) taking
the reins and getting the wagon away from the town square. Lania
joined Frank quickly and bowed to the elder, carefully touching
her forehead to his shoulder.
elder smiled. “Ah, Lania, I hope you've been well.” The
pleasantries abruptly ended there as he said, “Please, come
the boring sandy walls outside, the interior was furnished well,
mostly with ceremonial dressings and banners. The main room had
a nice hardwood floor and looked appropriate for a conference
between assorted tribes. Or factions, in this case.
elder, Frank and Lania conferred privately for a long time,
leaving the troop outside to wait. Everybody stood around,
except for Donovan, who kept trying to pull stuff off the walls,
and Molly, who kept yelling at him to stop.
three minutes, Renee got impatient and asked, “So what do you
think they're talking about in there?”
knows? Don't sweat it,” Reggie replied.
probably making the argument that the Hokoni must be watched
carefully, but they're their best hope for stopping the
oppressive Hageshoni regime,” Giles said, smiling in pride at
his expert analysis.
“Wait...” Kathryn looked around. “What oppressive Hageshoni
regime? Seems peaceful enough around here.”
didn't say that argument would hold water.”
chamber door opened, but only Lania emerged. The group (except
Donovan) surrounded her as she said, “They should be arriving
soon. Frank has asked Reggie's unit to stand outside, greet the
arriving party and escort them inside.”
nodded. “Give 'em the old Reggie welcome, got it.”
raised an eyebrow. “I'm not sure what you meant by that, but I
am sure it's not what they want. Just stand outside and try not
to look stupid.”
grin and a dual finger point, Reggie and his girls strolled
blow the town up, either!” shouted Kathryn.
more minutes passed. Lania returned to the chamber at some
point, but she was so quiet about it that nobody knew when. She
later emerged with both Frank and the elder.
looked at his team idling about aimlessly. He frowned. “Come on,
let's look a little more professional. Meg, Giles, you're on
door duty. Molly, put your group on each side of Arnek.”
was no indication or introduction suggesting that the elder's
name was Arnek, but he sat at the end of the hallway on a tall,
elaborate chair that everybody was afraid to sit in for fear it
was decoration. Molly and Troy stood on opposite sides. Kathryn
and Renee joined Molly.
when the Hokoni arrive, don't let on that we're from the MST,”
Frank said. “If they find out, they might get suspicious.”
was still ambling around, unaffected by the sudden activity
until Frank shouted, “Donovan! Go outside and tell that to
the ancient, possibly petrified, blowgun hanging on the wall,
Donovan glared back at Frank. Giles leaned in and whispered,
“Tell Reggie not to spill that we're with the MST.” Donovan
continued to glare at Frank, but walked outside anyway.
the demon delegation was already there. With his girls in
formation behind him, Reggie stood nobly as four Hokoni exited
their carriage, each wearing formal robes with purple lining and
white gloves. As their driver pulled away. Reggie bowed to each
them didn't notice. He was staring at Donovan as he approached
the group. Donovan was staring right back. No matter how little
he had been controlling his actions at the time, he still
recognized Grandon Crostell. Judging by the scowl on Grandon's
face, Donovan was no stranger either.
leaned in to Reggie. Sneering, he said, “Bit far from Indiana to
be working random security detail, isn't it young man?”
missing a beat, Reggie responded, “Boring state to kill a summer
slowed his pace and kept staring at Grandon, but reached Reggie.
With Grandon staring back, he turned to Reggie and said, “We are
not to unmask our identities to the demons just yet. The time is
grunted in disgust. “I'm standing right here, you know.”
Frank's hope of not giving away their affiliation dashed within
two minutes of the demons' arrival, the conference got off to an
awkward start. Inside the hall, surrounded by MST agents, the
Hokoni stood in the center of the room, keeping their distance
from the elder and Frank (or more accurately, their line of
guards). Grandon's three associates surrounded him and cast
wasn't a good way to make the elder comfortable. “Now now, we
are peaceful. And my advisor here has spoken of your virtues.
There is no need for hostility in this hall,” Arnek said.
narrowed an eyebrow at Frank, who nodded. “Indeed. I've already
told them of your valiant crusade to rid the world of those
of course,” Grandon said. He still stared at Frank, unconvinced.
But he went along with it for the time being. “This is a time
for different tribes to work together, after all.”
continued, “That is what I need to be convinced of. Noble as
your intentions seem, we have little concern for the happenings
outside our boundaries. Endrell may see it fit to fend off their
oppressors, but we are not as inclined to do so. The Hageshoni
have little interest in the Puurxan.”
now. We know them well, and they are never content with one
kingdom. I assure you that they are plotting your conquest as we
intelligence is telling me the same thing,” Frank said, drawing
surprised looks from not only Lania, but Grandon as well. Molly
looked disgusted, but nobody was watching her. “Your forces are
no match for theirs. Your only hope may be joining this
coalition and striking them first. Even if their revolution
isn't successful, it will at least prevent the Hageshoni from
invading here any time soon.”
Grandon's words seemed to have little effect on Arnek, but
Frank's confirmation supplied the necessary fear. The elder
turned back to Grandon; his staunch, regal appearance made him
an easy man to trust in diplomatic matters. Arnek knew what was
being asked of him, but the stakes seemed to dire to do anything
looked down and took a deep breath. “How many of my soldiers do
Everything after that was mere paperwork.
formalities took another hour, and as they dragged on, Frank
allowed units to go outside for some fresh air... at least as
fresh as the town allowed. Not only was the unusual scent of a
foreign world permeating the air, the dander was pretty awful. A
few minutes in, Troy made the exciting discovery that he had pet
allergies and retreated back inside.
was this good then?” Kathryn asked.
hesitated before answering, “In the sense that this puts the
Hokoni in a better position to challenge the Hageshoni, it gives
us a better chance of succeeding at our mission.”
wasn't fooled. “I'll take that as a no.”
Molly replied, “This is shaping up to be ground troops smashing
into ground troops. It's going to be long and messy. These cat
people don't know what they just got roped into.”
nodded, but said, “Yeah, but didn't Frank and the Hokoni guy say
the demons were planning to attack here?”
were lying,” Molly said. “The Hokoni official was surprised when
Frank backed his story up. Neither of them were being honest.
The Hageshoni have had control of Endrell for a hundred years
and never bothered to invade here. Why would they start now?”
and Renee looked around the village. Strange as the Puurxan
appeared, they walking around, buying, selling, talking and
working like any other civilized beings. None of them had any
idea what had gone on inside. Kathryn and Renee knew what had
happened, and what it meant for them, and how they watched it
merely as spectators. They felt a little bit sick inside.
minutes later, Frank emerged with his wife, Troy and the other
two units. As if on cue, the wagon pulled up for them.
go!” Troy said, a hand covering both his smile and his reddened
let's get out of here. I've never been a big cat person,” Morgan
climbed into the wagon and it pulled out, back through the
marketplace and out of town.
that we have given the demons an army, when do we strike?”
Donovan asked. It wasn't how anyone would have phrased it, but
several wanted to know the same thing.
much later,” Frank said. “If the Hageshoni pick up on what the
Hokoni are doing, things could get pretty massive. Plenty of
attrition on both ends. That isn't our battle. We're going to be
far more surgical in our approach.”
we're basically letting the natives go in first and take all the
casualties?” Giles asked. Again, not the best phrasing, but he
wasn't the only one thinking it.
never had the chance to answer. Something rammed against the
side of the wagon with a deafening boom. It didn't break
through, but almost tipped it over. Everybody sitting on that
side ended up on the other side's laps.
the hell?” Molly asked, separating herself from Donovan as
quickly as she could.
pulled her head out of Kathryn's chest and looked through the
porthole. “Jeez, you'd think they'd appreciate us helping them
stood up, stepped over Yuki and Carmen and peered outside. The
Hokoni carriage was parked fifteen feet away. Grandon and his
three associates were standing on the roof.
Grandon proclaimed, “I don't know what the Force is planning on
doing here, but I assure you that we will not play along.”
three Hokoni waited for a response. Frank was determined to give
them a good one. “Everybody wait here, but grab whatever weapons
and armor you can handle. Something tells me they're done
playing diplomat. If they attack again, fire back.”
all we have for a plan?” Meg asked.
is hit them with all we've got until they go away.”
grabbed one of the smiters, scanned it, and immediately handed
it off to Reggie. “So what's Plan A?” she asked.
is I convince them not to attack again.” Frank kicked open a
side door and floated outside. “Molly, come with me and give me
followed him up, casting a shield once she landed on the roof of
the wagon. They were in the middle of an open plain, with no
surrounding cover. The carriage the demons stood on was smaller
than the wagon and higher off the ground, but was reinforced
better, with a metallic sheen that told Molly it likely resisted
stood firm, hands clutched on the sheath and handle of the sword
clinging to his belt. He wore it at the council as well, but as
it seemed to be merely decorative, nobody noticed. Now it was
all Molly could stare at.
this all about?” Frank shouted at him. “We are just as eager to
overthrow the Hageshoni as you are. Why shouldn't we be allies
just assisted us in luring hundreds of those...” Now that he was
away from the village, Grandon no longer hid his disgust.
“...cat monsters to their deaths for our cause.” He added a keen
smile. “Forgive me if I suspect an ulterior motive.”
didn't flinch. Molly did at the confirmation that they had, in
fact, doomed the Puurxan villagers, but Frank held firm. “What
are we supposed to do? Let you conquer and control this world
nodded. “It would be appreciated. Don't think your assistance
ingratiates you to us in any way. This is a personal matter
between the Hokoni and Hageshoni and we have no interest in
having the MST meddling in our affairs.”
can't beat them without our help.”
would never accept help from the Force. Especially if you insist
on underestimating us.” Grandon held his left hand to his chest.
The sword flew out of its sheath and into his right hand. He
held it up. “For that crime, it would be best if you were
eliminated from the equation.”
Frank and Grandon's cohorts were ready to throw down right
there, but a guttural laugh interrupted the both of them.
Suddenly, Donovan floated between them, hovering in midair. With
his hands in his trigger position and a grin on his face, he
would have appeared intimidating to anyone who didn't know
better. Everybody on the scene knew better, but listened anyway.
very perceptive of you to suspect a hidden motive in supporting
your slaughter of those beasts. It is true, but forgive them for
not revealing their true goal.”
chuckled, amused by the interruption. “Ah, yes... I remember
you. I was wondering if you'd be gracing the stage. So what is
their true goal?”
Downright maniacal, Donovan said, “Mine. You and I seek revenge
for the same crime. Don't you see that I have manipulated them
into doing my bidding?”
Dumbfounded, Frank pinched his earlobe. Through telepathy, he
asked, “Is he being serious?”
shook her head. “He thinks he is.” She replied aloud so
as not to break her shield. He had always drilled her never to
break her shield, and she knew he'd give her hell if she did.
I have Kathryn smack him?” she added.
flared his eyebrows. “Actually... let's see where this goes. It
can't make things worse. If it doesn't work... then she can
was busy pondering Donovan's statement. Suffice to say he was
skeptical. “Are you trying to tell me that you were able to
discover our plans and, despite being a lowly student with a
documented connection to our faction, were able to convince the
MST brass that you should be sent here in order to aid us in our
crusade... all simply to avenge the death of one of our
stared back at him, then smiled. “Impressive, is it not? I see
you regret not enlisting my help when you had the chance.”
turned to Frank in search of some confirmation. Once Frank
picked up on this, he hesitated for just a moment before
throwing his hands up and turning to Donovan. “Well, I'm
shocked. You really pulled the wool over our eyes, didn't you?”
then...” Grandon shook his head in amusement. “That does change
things. If you tricked the Force into supporting this mission
when your intentions match ours, perhaps we can work out a truce
after all. And yes... perhaps I did underestimate you.”
Donovan's grin grew. He put his hands on his hips, which would
have been a boastful gesture if it didn't cancel his flight
spell and send him plummeting to the ground.
the mishap professionally, Grandon added a chuckle and said,
“Indeed, the way I see it, there's but one complication to us
working together...” He waited for Donovan to return to midair,
then swiftly put his hand on his chest and fired a bolt of dark
matter, sending Donovan crashing hard into the side of the
Donovan fell face-down to the earth, Grandon stared at him. “You
see, the only issue is that I didn't ascend to my position by
response from the wagon was swift. Even before Frank gave any
orders, streams of both fire and water flew out of the portholes
at Grandon. A shield intercepted them; undoubtedly one of his
comrades had been maintaining one the whole time.
Candace turned to Meg. “You know, maybe we should coordinate
this instead of doing fire and water at the same time. I don't
think that works.”
continued to peer out the window while Carmen unsuccessfully
tried to knock the carriage over with a wind gust. “It's the
shield that's the problem. We need to disrupt them long enough
to get some shots in and scare them off.”
Donovan a healing potion,” Giles added.
too, I guess.” A blast from the demons hit the wagon again,
startling everybody. Giles replaced Carmen and added some
guys can do that, I can get over there and hit them with
some...” Reggie paused, solely for emphasis. “...surprises.”
nodded. “I have an idea.”
Upstairs, the blast knocked Frank and Molly off their feet, but
Molly managed to keep her shield up. They stayed low while Meg
ran her idea by Frank.
like a plan. Make sure they take the smiters but do not use them
on him. We still need him.”
concluded, Frank held his left hand down and started charging up
a fireball. As it grew warmer, Molly leaned back to get out of
the heat. After inflating it, he launched it at the carriage.
wasn't a direct shot, instead looping in a slow arc. Molly
didn't see the point of charging it up, as it seemed easy enough
to block. She was surprised when Frank threw a hand on her back
and forced her down. Her shield fell for a second, but she put
it back up before anyone could notice.
anyone would have as the earth shook violently. Both the wagon
and carriage rattled around; Molly quickly understood why Frank
was bracing her as she would have fallen off. One of the three
demons did fall to the ground and another was swept off his
feet. Grandon fell to his knees. He looked up in time to see
Frank's fireball finally arrive and connect with his now
unprotected torso. It didn't knock him anywhere, but seeing as
he was now on fire, he leaped off the carriage to smother the
flames on the ground.
cavalry charged in. Reggie, Troy and Kathryn rushed out of the
wagon, the first two with smiters. Renee and Cammy followed them
for support and Yuki rushed to Donovan's aid. The first demon
they met threw a shield up to block Troy's ice attacks,
backpedaling as he dodged a few token swipes with the smiter.
remember what your dad said,” Renee shouted, keeping him
shielded as he chased the demon behind the carriage.
Unfortunately, he reacted too well and stopped swiping. The
Hokoni flew forward suddenly and laid out Troy with a punch to
the face. Renee dropped her shield, hit him with a small energy
ball and flew away.
had something else in mind. While Kathryn kept watch for that
second demon, Reggie tossed several discs under the carriage.
exactly are those? And keep in mind we're not supposed to be
killing them,” Kathryn asked.
said...” Reggie chuckled. “...surprises.”
shook her head, still not sure about what he was doing. It
distracted her just long enough for the second demon to get too
close. She put up her staff just as his attack arrived. More
followed, however, all while the Hokoni stepped closer and
closer, making it harder for her to block his shots.
jumped in and blocked a shot with his sword... which was blasted
out of his hands since smiters aren't built for that sort of
thing. The demon was able to fire enough shots to occupy both
Reggie and Kathryn, but was no longer advancing on them. He
never saw Frank flying in from above, clutching Molly. Frank
kicked the demon in the head. Kathryn added a blow with her
staff to make sure he stayed down.
continued along, landing at the top of the carriage. He set
Molly down to look for Grandon on the other side. Grandon's
clothes were scorched, but he was standing. He was also guiding
his sword directly at Frank. Frank had time to keep it away from
his vital regions, but a last-second redirection from Grandon
led it straight into Frank's left hand. He tumbled off the
carriage, and onto the ground at Grandon's feet.
sword was left dangling from the top of the carriage, and
Grandon saw fit to fly up there to grab it before disposing of
Frank. Up top, Molly started into a spell to engage him, but he
was quicker to his trigger and sent her flying backwards, off
the other side of the carriage. Now alone on top, Grandon
sheathed the sword and looked over Frank, who clutched his hand.
The wound cut off his access to magic.
attacks and quick rushes only get you so far,” Grandon
announced. “In the end, proper might will always rein.” He found
one of his guards, the one that had punched out Troy, nearby.
“Please dispose of our commander here.”
demon nodded and approached Frank, charging up a spell. Given
the time and energy he was putting into it, he meant business.
All Frank could do was clutch his hand and run. He didn't,
though. Instead, he stared back, wagering that some underling
wouldn't have enough firepower for a fatal shot.
found out. An airborne smiter caught the demon in the arm and he
went down reeling. Before he dissipated, he turned around to get
one look at his killer. Troy held his swollen cheek with one arm
and dropped the other. Using an air spell to maneuver a thrown
smiter was far harder than the telekinesis Grandon used.
up to his dad. Frank's hand was punctured severely, blood
trickling down his wrist. Before Troy could do anything, Grandon
called down, “You will regret that, boy!” His sword pointed
straight at Troy. “My sword may not have any twisted magic
behind it, but I'd wager that it could still-”
stopped as the carriage jostled for a moment, then flew straight
up into the air. Grandon clutched the top of the carriage,
helpless as it gained elevation, then flew forward into the
thick woods and out of sight.
other side of where it had stood, Reggie winked at Kathryn and
helped him up, Frank said, “Troy, I gave the order not to use
nodded, expecting this. “Sorry, I just...”
his head, Frank added, “You did a good job reading the situation
and adjusting on the fly. I like to see that. That and most
students get gun shy about using smiters for real. No
hesitations. Good work.”
tried to hide his smile as they reached Kathryn, cradling a
woozy Molly. Frank sent Renee to fetch Maple.
she doing?” Frank asked Kathryn.
seen her in worse shape,” Kathryn replied. “That whole thing
nodded. Molly mumbled, “How's Donovan?”
took a quick glance. “Looks like Yuki got him back online.”
Molly looked up at Kathryn. “Go smack him.”