Chapter 145 – A City of White Stone

Sebastien

Month 3, Day 25, Thursday 9:00 a.m.

As the clear bell signifying the start of the test rang, Sebastien removed her blindfold, blinking as she adjusted to the sudden brightness. Beside her, Damien and Rhett did the same. They stood in a featureless room made of the same white stone that composed the white cliffs and the Flats. All three wore grey one-piece protective suits provided by the proctors, though their equipment beyond that varied.

The white stone formed the vague shape of a desk at the corner of the room, possibly useful as a shield against enemy spells, and an empty window hole let in light from the outside. Behind the three, the stone formed an open doorway into the rest of the building. The proctor who had led them up from the tunnels below was long gone.

In the far corner of the room, a small, dome-shaped silver mirror clung to the ceiling, watching. Sebastien met her own gaze for a moment, lifting her chin defiantly. “Let’s get to work,” she said, her voice tight. She crouched down, slinging off the backpack she’d traded some of her defense points for as she moved to the window hole.

Behind her, Damien moved toward the doorway, placing his back against the wall to peek safely around the corner as he pulled off his own backpack and retrieved the simple scanning artifact within. He had chosen to focus on reconnaissance.

Sebastien peeked out through the empty window. They were on the third floor, it seemed. The street below, along with the buildings directly across from her and in every direction she could see, were made of the same white stone. “Just like we thought, Damien. Urban warfare.” She scanned for color or movement, either of which could indicate they were not alone. “Looks clear.” The faculty had drawn the arena for their test—and the exhibition—up from the stone of the Flats over the course of the last week, with the huge circular wall that mimicked Gilbratha’s own being the first feature.

Several upper-term students had tried to scale the wall using various methods to get an early glimpse of what lay on the other side, only to be caught and receive demerits for the attempted cheating.

Crouching down away from the window, she poured out the contents of her backpack. She had three metal disks to draw spell arrays on, two pieces of paper detailing the simplest spells that would interact with the sensors on their suits, and a handful of components, including a beast core. Each student had been allotted a certain number of points based on their performance in Fekten’s Defense class thus far. Not unlike the University’s contribution point scheme, these defense points could be used to buy supplies for the exam. This was quite necessary, as they were required to leave all of their personal belongings except for their Conduits in a secure locker.

As Damien worked with the scanning artifact, Rhett moved to the window, his white teeth standing out against the darkness of his skin as he searched the streets below. His faux battle wand tracked along with his eyes, its tip held steady in his skillful grip. “How long is this going to take you two?” A bandolier across his chest was filled with false-explosive clay shells, marking him clearly as the offensive-focused member of their team.

“A few minutes for me,” Sebastien said, using a quick-drying paint stick to draw out the spell array for the faux battle spell that would trigger their protective suit’s damage sensors without actually harming the person within. When it was ready, she could hold it up with the handles on either side and actively cast one of the same spells that were stored in Rhett’s wand. Except she wouldn’t run out of charges.

Damien glanced up from the scanning artifact, which looked like a round dinner platter with a handle on either side. “No enemy signals within range.”

“Good,” Sebastien said without looking away from her work. “I want you two to scope out the building and the surrounding area and report back to me.”

Damien nodded immediately, but Rhett frowned. “Why are we following you?” he complained. “I have the highest grade in the class. Shouldn’t I be the one in charge?”

Damien’s smile held a hint of smugness. “Because Sebastien is the best strategist. Let’s go together.”

Sebastien nodded. “Watch each other’s backs. The scanning artifact is useful, but you can’t depend on it. Meet back here in five minutes.”

Damien left the room with a serious glare, his head swiveling back and forth as he searched for anything relevant.

This gave Rhett no choice but to follow Damien, though Rhett’s murmured complaints were audible. “How do you even know Sebastien’s a good strategist? I’m a good strategist! I’m great at chess, and you know dueling takes a lot of tactics.”

“Just trust me. Sebastien works well under pressure,” Damien replied faintly. “Now hush! We’re supposed to be stealthy.”

As the paint of her spell array dried, the symbols and glyphs within the bounding Circle working together to define the Word that would help guide her magic, Sebastien placed the components. They, along with the power from her beast core, would form the Sacrifice. Each spell array disk had little domes that snapped into place to hold components safely in their spot on the spell array, but she made doubly sure the few components necessary would stick with a bit of quick-drying glue. All that was left was her Will, to be channeled on a moment’s notice through the Conduit Professor Lacer had given her.

Each disk had only been meant for a single spell array, but when the front was finished, she turned them around and began to draw careful lines across the back with the thick white paint. There were no component capsules for the back sides, but where necessary, she carefully dabbed a bit of that same quick-drying glue and simply pressed the components into it to hold them safely in place. This was a little dangerous, as a sloppy thaumaturge could slip and accidentally spread their Will into the wrong spell array, but she had already proved through experience that she could manage something like this. To some, like the shield array, she added the instructions for output displacement along a single plane—an option she had asked for Professor Lacer’s permission to use beforehand.

Sebastien finished barely in time for her two teammates to return, already slipping two of the metal disks into her backpack. Though she had a worse grade than either Rhett or Damien, with this she had managed to give herself as many options as both of them combined. She was their wildcard, their all-rounder utility member. “Report,” she said, not missing Rhett’s small eye-roll.

Damien immediately began to speak, standing tall with his chest puffed out. “We’re in what seems to be a warehouse, but there’s nothing strategic down below. Just some basic stone shapes of large equipment and some piles of wooden planks. There’s roof access, though. From what we could see up there, we seem to be near the center of the city, and I’d estimate the outer wall is about eight hundred meters away. There are two towers flying the black nearby. None flying the red, which is good.”

“That doesn’t mean anything,” Rhett said, shaking his head. “It’s too early for the enemy to have made much progress, yet. One of our towers is about ten blocks away to the west, and the other eight blocks away, closer to the center. Some signs of fighting in the distance, but nothing closer than three blocks. I say we head out now, see if we can take out an enemy team or two and get some extra points before making it to the tower.”

As first-term students, their main objective was simply to remain “alive,” which meant ensuring that their suits didn’t register enough damage to make the fabric turn stiff and lock them in place. That would net them the lowest grade. It would be higher if they could get to one of the towers flying the black ally banner. For extra points, they could complete various bonus objectives, such as assisting ally “troops” or working against the enemy in various ways.

“Planks, you say? Made of actual wood, not stone?” she asked.

“Yes,” Damien confirmed. “I suspect they’re meant to be supplies for us to set up makeshift barricades, but I didn’t find any nails or other supplies.”

She stood and swung her backpack over her shoulder, leading the way downstairs. She eyeballed the planks, then moved to the nearest window and measured the width of the street with her eyes. It was narrower than a real city, only about three meters across. She looked up speculatively at the edges of the rooftops.

The sounds of fighting came faintly from the east, toward the center of the urban arena.

“Enemy signals!” Damien whispered.

Instinctively, all three of them crouched down, out of sight.

They waited a few minutes for the signals to pass, and when Damien motioned they were clear, she peeked up just enough to see the red suits of the enemy forces turning the corner away from them a few buildings down the street.

“We should have attacked. We have the element of surprise and there were only two of them,” Rhett muttered.

“Any extra points are a secondary objective. Our first priority is to get to one of the black towers safely.” She moved over to the planks, choosing two that looked suitable for her budding idea. “Is the roof flat?”

“Yeah,” Damien confirmed, watching her curiously but without doubt.

“Okay, I’ve got an idea. Damien, I need your help bringing two of the planks up to the roof. Rhett, you cover us. Don’t draw unnecessary attention, but you have the okay to attack.”

“Wait, what?” Rhett said, shooting her an incredulous look. “You want to fortify this place? This isn’t a good strategic location. We’re too far away from any tower.”

“That’s not what I’m thinking,” Sebastien said, moving carefully up the stairs.

“Then what?” Rhett asked, trailing behind.

“We don’t need to put ourselves in danger moving through the streets rife with fighting and scattered with enemies. If there’s a suitable path, we can travel by rooftop instead.”

Rhett eyed the planks dubiously. “That seems…dangerous.”

This time, it was Damien who rolled his eyes. “What, you’re fine to attack two enemies, but you’re afraid of heights?”

Rhett glared back but didn’t answer.

Yet another open doorway led them to the rooftop, from which the view of the miniature city was even more impressive. ‘Is this how they raised the white cliffs in the first place? Did they just draw the stone up from the ground and mold it?’ she wondered.

A tall building blocked the path to the nearest tower, the one to the east, but in the opposite direction, there was a straight line of sight toward the one farther away. “Ten blocks,” she murmured. She knew it would still be a dangerous journey, but it would likely be safer than scurrying through the streets. People often forget to look up.

With the planks side by side on the ground, she took out her remaining paint and drew out a wood-focused mending spell on the white stone beneath her feet. With the quick-drying glue as a component, she melded the two planks together, section by section, to create a wider surface. When she finished, she stepped back to admire her work. The bridge was crude, but it would get them across the gap between the rooftops. “It should hold,” she said, looking at Rhett and Damien. “Let’s get going.”

Damien went first, his arms spread wide for balance as he moved with surprising speed. The combined planks didn’t even wobble too badly. Once on the other side, he moved along the edge of the roof to scout out the surrounding streets, then waved for them to follow.

Sebastien went next, and Rhett followed behind her. Suspended above the unforgiving white stone of the street, the planks bending and bouncing back slightly with every step, the ground seemed twice as far away as it had before. She had to resist the urge to fall to her hands and knees and wrap her arms around the planks to keep from falling. Instead, she went to that cold, focused place in her mind, consciously directing every twitch of muscle and movement of her limbs. ‘This is nothing,’ she reassured herself, though she was pretty sure her face was pale and her expression stiff enough to give her real feelings away.

They made it three blocks like that, traversing two flat roofs and inching along the circular edge of a domed roof. They passed several more small mirror domes, and in the distance, the dull roar of a cheering audience sounded, peaking at random moments when someone in the exam arena did something particularly impressive. When they found themselves above a fight in the street below, they paused. Three grey-suited allies—other first-term students—fought against three red-suited enemies. Each group seemed to have just the basic attacking and shielding spells, and both groups already had one member “dead,” lying on the ground under the restriction of their body-suits.

The wind at this altitude wasn’t to be stopped even by the walls of the miniature city, carrying the faint chalky smell of the white stone and the sounds of screaming and fighting from all around the arena.

Rhett beamed with excitement, pushing past Sebastien to get closer to the fighting. “Extra points!” he exclaimed to Damien. Without waiting for confirmation from either of them, he pointed his battle wand and loosed one of the offensive spells. A pale purple sphere containing the slightest crackle of electricity shot out, moving at a sedate three meters per second until it impacted the back of one of the attackers.

Damien dropped his scanning artifact to the roof as he hurriedly fumbled at the camouflaging bands strapped around his suit. As the spell shimmered to life, his suit and the area around him all turned an off-white that almost blended into the stone as he moved pointedly away from the enemy’s return fire.

Sebastien cursed under her breath. She was on her own, struggling to control the plank and keep it out of sight as she pulled it back from the rooftop’s edge. She knew if she lost her balance, she would plummet to the unforgiving stone below.

Luckily, Rhett fought with unexpected ferocity, taking down the second enemy in a matter of seconds without even coming close to being hit himself. He whooped, yelling, “Come on!” at his downed opponents.

The two remaining grey-suited students below stared up at them with wide eyes. “Thank you!” one of them yelled.

Rhett grinned back, bowing with a flourish.

Damien turned off the camouflage to save his second artifact’s limited power, then moved to help Sebastien lay the planks over the next gap between buildings. “Come on!” Sebastien snapped at Rhett, who was communicating through charades with the students below. The extra points were, of course, useful, but she would have appreciated it if Rhett could have waited to coordinate with the rest of his team before attacking.

As the duo below watched Sebastien’s trio traverse the roofway, the two survivors spoke quietly. With a quick farewell to the third member of their party, stuck unmoving on the ground, they hurried to follow along the street below. Just as Damien reached the next roof, one called, “We’re coming up!” just loud enough to be heard without drawing undue attention.

Rhett moved quickly to the opposite side of the roof, and his excitement grew palpable.

Sebastien’s eyes narrowed. “Do you see some—”

Out of nowhere, he stopped and tossed one of the clay faux-grenades—explosive potions—over the side of an intervening roof. The clay sphere landed and went off with a flash of light and a loud bang.

Sebastien flinched down automatically. “What are you doing!?”

He grinned at her, unrepentant. “I noticed an enemy-flagged supply stash about a block away. It was behind an old, rickety wooden barricade. More points!”

Sebastien gasped in shock at his recklessness, quickly ushering them forward and hurrying to place the planks down again. They needed to get away before anyone could spot them. “What were you thinking?” she demanded. “If we’re spotted—”

Sebastien’s scolding was cut off by the arrival of the two first-term students, one young man and one woman. The woman’s eyes widened as she got a closer look at the three of them.

“You’re that Sebastien guy,” she said, her face breaking into a wide grin. “The one who saved those civilians by fighting an Aberrant!”

Her partner was less enamored but gave them all an excited grin. “Thanks again for the help. Would you like to team up? Safety in numbers, and all that. Not like you need it, but—”

Damien eyed them both warily before turning to Sebastien for confirmation. “What do you think?”

“Extra points for heroic actions,” Rhett said. “That would be two allies rescued and escorted to safety. I say they join.”

Sebastien hesitated, looking them over. The extra points could be useful, but she wasn’t keen on taking responsibility for two more students. They didn’t have any special equipment, and from the little she’d seen they weren’t especially skilled.

The two of them smiled hopefully at her. “We won’t be any trouble, I promise,” the woman said.

“Alright,” Sebastien agreed with a sigh. “You can join us, but you have to listen to my orders. Failure to do so, or reckless actions that endanger the rest of the group, will see you kicked out immediately.” She gave Rhett a pointed look, which he ignored while grinning at her response.

The two were quick to agree, and with that the team of five started making their way across the rooftops again. Sebastien gave orders and kept them all organized as they scurried from building to building. Damien continued to scout the way, and several times they paused to hide from an enemy patrol passing below, despite Rhett’s protests.

“Sure, we can take a few of them out, but what happens when one of them gets word back to the rest or alerts a more powerful enemy that we’re a threat?” she argued back. “If we fail to make it safely to the tower, we don’t just lose those additional points, Rhett. We fail the test entirely. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take.”

“Maybe you’re less willing to take the necessary risks because you have less riding on this test. No matter how well you perform today, there’s no chance you’ll end up the best student of the term. But I could, with the right assessment today. I need these bonus objectives, Siverling,” Rhett urged. “It’s ridiculous to ignore enemies that we could defeat.”

Luckily, both of her new charges were quiet and quick to obey her orders. When Rhett looked around for agreement with his argument, neither of them met his gaze. “We’re already down one original teammate, and that will affect our grade,” the young man explained. “I’d just rather get there safely. I can’t afford to fail.”

“I wouldn’t mind taking on some extra enemies,” Damien said, “but not while we’re still so far from the tower. Maybe we can spend a few minutes patrolling around that area once we’ve dropped these guys off.”

Rhett huffed but seemed to realize he was outnumbered. “There’s a time limit too, you know.”

A large group of enemies below forced them to take a detour, and a couple more precarious roofs with precipitous drops slowed them.

Crouching in the middle of a thankfully flat roof as she listened to sounds of the enemies below, Sebastien estimated that they were halfway to their destination. She didn’t have her watch, but thought thirty minutes or so had passed. They were making good time.

“They’re gathering on this location,” Damien said.

“Do you think they know we’re here?” the woman, whose name Sebastien had immediately forgotten after she introduced herself, asked.

Damien shook his head. “No. I think they’re doing something else. Fighting, or setting up some strategic location. This building had no direct roof access, so they have no way to get to us even if they do realize.”

“But how do we get across without them noticing us?”

“We wait till they’re all inside,” Damien answered, staring down at the scanning artifact. “Any moment now, we’ll make a break for it.”

Everyone froze as a loud banging echoed over the bare stone, followed by shouts and screams coming from the floor below.

Damien crept forward, his camouflage active, and Sebastien followed behind him.

A few meters below, a girl rushed out to the balcony. “It’s too far! We can’t jump,” the girl called back to her companions inside the building. Her suit was slightly darker than Sebastien’s own, indicating that she was a second or maybe third-term student.

“The barricade won’t last long!” a man’s throaty voice called back to her, his voice breaking with strain. “I don’t think we can fight them all.”

Damien and Sebastien shared a look, and when she did a quick sweep of her periphery for danger, she found the other two first-term students staring at her expectantly.

“How are we going to save them?” the young man asked.

“You could drop down there and surprise the enemy when they break down the barrier,” the woman suggested.

“There are at least eight enemy signals,” Damien said darkly. An explosion rumbled through the stone, much weakened from real battle magic but still powerful enough to cause several shouts of fear and dismay from the students below. “And…yep, those are more on the way,” Damien added.

The five of them ducked down even further to make sure they weren’t seen. The woman bit her thumbnail. “I don’t think even Sebastien can take on that many.”

“I can take them,” Rhett offered, smiling at the woman reassuringly. “I’ll jump down to the balcony, the rest of you can find a way down to the street, and then we’ll do a pincer attack on the whole group of them. They’re in the stairwell; there’s nowhere to run.”

Sebastien opened her mouth to say that they had neither the time nor the ability to save this group from so many enemies, but she stopped herself. “I…actually have an idea,” she realized.

Reaching into her backpack, she pulled out a different spell array disk. “I can create handholds in the stone—a ladder of a sort—for them to climb up.” She had loaded up the stone disintegration and gust spells on it, thinking that she might use it to blow a fine dust at the enemy that would irritate their lungs and eyes, or even, with enough dust, create cloud cover for her team.

With the addition of a couple glyphs to allow her to distance the output in the vertical direction, Sebastien began to cast. Sand trickled away from a section of the wall, leaving behind a divot a couple inches deep and a single hand’s width across.

“I’ll get them on board with the plan,” Damien said. Turning his camouflage on once again, he swung himself over the edge of the roof and dropped down to the balcony as softly as possible.

“Take this!” Rhett said, pulling an artifact off of his bandolier and tossing it down to Damien. “One-time-use shield. If they break down the barricade, just shout and I’ll be right behind you.” Sebastien was thankful that at least he hadn’t insisted on being the one to go down.

Gripping her Conduit tighter, she drew more power from the small, dull beast core, causing the sand to flow faster. With quick adjustments of her Will, she drew the distanced output up the side of the wall, step by step.

Whatever Damien said below, he managed to get the other students on board more quickly than she had expected. “Hurry,” he urged, looking back over his shoulder, where another soft explosion rumbled out, shaking the stone beneath their feet.

The students wasted no time climbing up, squinting their eyes against the crumbled white stone that continued to fall from above as Sebastien created the last of the handholds.

As the first of them reached the top, she dropped the spell and reached out to help haul them up. She counted five new students, three men and two women. Flecks of white stone stuck to the sweat along their temples, which was already drying under the caress of the wind.

Below, Damien knelt to set up the shield artifact, then brought up the rear, scowling as some of the lingering dust kicked up by the students climbing above him got in his hair.

“Titan’s balls,” one of the young men murmured, staring at Sebastien. “Is he a free-caster already?”

“He’s Thaddeus Lacer’s apprentice,” the first woman responded in a murmur.

“Quiet!” Sebastien bit out, scowling at the group as she gestured for one of the men to help her move the plank bridge to the far edge of the building.

Damien went first again, since he was the scout, but a couple of the new upper-term students paled at the sight of the precarious pathway. “No, I can’t do that,” one of the women whimpered. “Mr. Siverling, I can’t. I’m afraid of heights.” She looked down at the street below, then stepped back and squeezed her eyes shut, crouching as if she thought she might fall off the edge of the roof.

“I’m afraid of heights, too,” one of the men said sheepishly.

Rhett reached out to take the woman’s hands. “Don’t worry, we’ll definitely keep you safe.” He turned to Sebastien. “Your plan isn’t going to work anymore. I vote we stay and use our superior numbers to overwhelm the enemy. I’ll stay on the roof with those who can’t use the bridge, and the rest of you can find a way down, then circle around to meet up with us.”

“Are you sure?” the woman asked, looking up at him with watery eyes.

“Just watch,” he said, smirking. “If the others don’t hurry, I’ll have taken down all the enemies and snatched all the extra points for myself.”

Sebastien’s chest flared hot with outrage, but she tamped it down, keeping her face expressionless. “If you would like to stay behind and act as a sacrifice for the remainder of the group to get away, you may. But I will not be staying in this location for even more reinforcements to arrive. As soon as they catch wind of what we’re doing, we’re trapped up here. You realize that they don’t actually have to stick around and fight us? They can retreat back down that stairwell at any time. They could pick us off easily as we try to cross the bridge, and climbing down the side of the building would be even stupider. We need to move quickly—” She cut herself off as explosions resounded through the streets from the direction of a red tower in the distance. Dust clouds rose, and screams of fear and anger cut through the wind.

It was a good reminder: arguing with Rhett was just wasting time.

She let her eyes rove over the others. “If you want to come with us, you had better move quickly. Otherwise, remain here,” she said, her words clipped and her tone cold. “If you falter or make a mistake, you could very well fall to your deaths. I have no way to save you before you break yourselves across the ground like an egg. Don’t slow the rest of us down.” Turning, she hurried across the plank.

Those left behind hesitated, and Rhett gave her a long, dark glare as she reached the other side, but no one decided to remain behind, even the woman so afraid of heights.

Getting all ten students across still took an excruciating amount of time, and by the time they had done so, the enemy on the floor below had spotted them. A couple tried to follow using the handholds Sebastien had created. Her group quickly took out the first, sending him falling back to the balcony below, but the next red-suited enemy crawled up holding a shield above his head. He grinned triumphantly at them, then ducked down again, calling out to his comrades.

A couple moved to the nearest windows facing their direction and began to shoot up at them.

“Damien, find a roof with stairwell access,” Sebastien ordered. “Move fast, and take the others. We’ll hold up the rear.” They had no choice but to stay and fight in the hopes of stopping, or at least delaying, the enemy from calling reinforcements. As such a large group, they could no longer move fast enough to effectively escape.

The largest advantage of her rooftop travel plan had been negated. Luckily, the spell-fire was enough incentive for several of the students to hurry along to escape with Damien, hesitation erased.

Rhett actually managed to hit one of the enemy’s spells in mid-air. This feat detonated both spells close enough to the enemy to send the woman reeling back, her suit constricting around her and toppling her stiffly to the floor. Rhett tried to toss an explosive shell through the window as a follow-up, but his aim was off, and the clay sphere hit the wall and exploded harmlessly.

With her spell array disk, Sebastien managed to down another enemy, and one of the rescued men who had decided to stay behind with them got a lucky shot off at a red-suited woman hurrying out of the building at the ground floor. Soon after, the attacks stopped.

Rhett and the other man grinned with exhilaration, but Sebastien knew this was far from a victory. Her mouth was dry, and though the wind still carried a chill, the sun beat down on her back with enough strength to leave her armpits dripping with sweat.

Damien had led most of the students to an adjacent roof, though it was in the opposite direction of the nearest tower flying the black. As if he could feel her gaze, he pointed to the next roof and mouthed “stairs.”

They hurried to follow, crouching low and staying silent. Even Rhett seemed a little disgruntled at the reduced speed of their crossing. After all, the longer it took them to reach the tower, the fewer points they would receive for that objective.

However, Sebastien was no longer worried about points. As long as they could make it without their suits recording any serious “injuries,” they would easily pass the test. To the contrary, she was questioning her decision to save the extra students at all. Just because she had an idea of how to do it didn’t necessarily mean she should have.

After all, their safety wasn’t her priority. If she and Damien had partnered with anyone else but Rhett, maybe it wouldn’t even have been an issue in the first place.

They had just made it to the stairwell when Damien reported an enemy presence below.

Silently, Sebastien signaled for the rest of the group to wait while she and Rhett moved closer to Damien so they could discuss the situation.

Without waiting for her to question him, Damien explained. “I caught a glimpse of red below, but no enemy signals are showing up on the scanner. They must have a cloaking device.”

Rhett gazed out at the tower flying the black flag, only a couple hundred meters away. “Either we go down and fight or we try to make a break for it across the rooftops. Or maybe we could split up, with the more combat oriented of us going down and the rest moving as quickly as they can to safety.”

Sebastien was surprised he suggested leaving those they had rescued to their own devices, but it wasn’t a bad idea. Only, she didn’t really like either option. She couldn’t continue to inch across the gap between rooftops with the others, but going down the stairs and having to fight her way out also did not sound appealing. As her mind spun in search of a third route to safety, the flapping of wings drew her gaze to the side.

Cresting the edge of the roof was a young drake, flapping its wings frantically. Cousin to the dragon and as large as a house cat, the creature wore a bright red collar. ‘An enemy familiar,’ Sebastien realized with horror.

The creature let out a loud screech half a second before Rhett’s spell hit it in the mouth and sent it fleeing back toward the ground.

Around the corner only a couple blocks from them, a group of twelve red-suited enemies turned in their direction. The leader’s arm rose, pointing right at them.

 

1/19: I’m back, babies! Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. (I’ve always wanted to use that line.)

Anyway, I’m feeling well enough to work again, and I’ve got a lot of stuff coming your way over the next couple weeks. All the illustrations, deleted scenes, and bonus content I’ve been promising.

Where is the Honeymoon Suite short story? Well, I know I said I would post it on Tuesday the 17th, but like everything else, that plan was crushed by my illness. I’ll have it posted by this coming Tuesday instead.

 

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