was a potential loophole to Room 202's capacity to receiving
field assignments. Molly had never intended to pounce on it, but
the MST was determined to close it while her unit was in
Indiana. The wrinkle was a proficiency exam disguised as an
obstacle course designed for third-year students. As successful
completion was required for field assignment eligibility, the
solution was to run them through it, even though they were
intimidation factor should have been higher, but a twenty-foot
wall was nothing compared to the Urayoni fortress perimeter they
had all just tackled. Even the floating platform of fire didn't
scare them much. Most guardians reported that watching their
unit run the course was the most harrowing part of the job.
Molly was already engrossed in a book while Professor Melrose
explained the finer points.
she said, “First, you crawl under the fiery platform of death-”
put out the fire?” Troy asked.
nodded, barely looking at him. “If you can, that would be
advisable. Then you have to get past the wall of terror...”
“Terror?” asked Renee. It looked like a standard wall until
Melrose pulled out a remote control and pushed a button. The top
of the wall started shooting waves of black matter like a
fountain, streaming all the way into the fiery platform of
death. Renee nodded, satisfied with the answer.
the other side is certain doom. End the threat and you pass.”
gulped. Donovan tried craning his neck around the wall and see
the certain doom, but couldn't.
how long do we get to do this?” Kathryn asked.
shrugged. “Until you give up or you're all unconscious. In fact,
you can start whenever you want.”
students stared at the crawl space between the ground and the
fiery platform of death. They hadn't realized how small it was
until they saw it up close.
I could try a shrinking potion,” Yuki said, uncertain.
long does it last?” Renee asked.
a good question. About five seconds when I did it in class.”
It was a
long fiery platform of death, however, and five seconds wasn't
going to cover it. “I don't want that potion wearing off while
I'm crawling through that,” Troy said, trying to douse the fire
with a water spell. “Besides, it's not that small. You can fit.”
about the fire?”
kept working on the fire, but nothing was happening. He realized
that the black matter coming from the fountain fed into it,
keeping the blaze strong. He also saw that none of the flames
were leaping down from the platform, so as long as nobody lifted
their back to it, they'd survive.
be fine. Go on.”
moaned, but took a deep breath and managed to fit under the
platform. She practically slithered under it, the grass staining
her shirt as she stayed as low to the ground as possible. Still,
she reached the other end, stood up and started making a potion.
are you doing?” Kathryn asked.
potion. You're gonna need it,” Yuki said, turning around. The
scorch marks on the back of her shirt weren't bad, but were
stared at the crawl space. If Yuki barely fit in there, the rest
of them didn't have a chance under the current conditions. Thus,
the current conditions had to change. He fired off his trigger
and the ground under the platform solidified into ice.
it,” Troy said.
better work,” Kathryn mumbled. With a running start, she dove
in. Troy and Renee looked at each other anxiously and waited for
Kathryn to appear on the other end.
it, Troy!” Renee exclaimed.
had an exclamation of her own. “Ow, sonuva!!” The back of her
shirt was completely seared off.
what I mean,” Yuki said, handing her a completed potion.
Donovan muttered. “Any fool can handle a little heat. Stand
aside.” He dove as well. His back was on fire when he reached
the other end.
Donovan rolled on the ground and Kathryn tried to help him stamp
out the flame, Troy looked at Renee nervously. “Guess we don't
have a choice,” he muttered. They too got a running start and
dove into the inferno.
Renee only got a third of the way in before the ice had melted
and they were stuck. The ground was damp, but the friction was
too much for them to pull themselves along the ground. And there
was definitely no way to push up and crawl.
was already panting. “Troy, come on! It's a little hot down
Troy barely had room to get his trigger off under the blazes,
but he did the only thing he knew he had the strength for-
coating even more of the ground with water, effectively putting
them into a mud pit.
herself sinking into the ground, Renee muttered, “Ew... nice.”
disgusting, but Troy was able to get a better grip into the
ground and had no trouble pulling himself along the slick
surface. It was a long, messy and scorching trip, but he made
it, standing up and turning around in time to pull a muddy,
sweating Renee out from behind him. She immediately fell into
his arms and started panting.
turned to Kathryn, a slight blush on his face. She grinned back
and said, “Any heroics for part two?”
of terror loomed large over them, particularly the impenetrable
fountain of black energy shooting through it. “Oh, that's no
trouble,” said Renee, still clinging to Troy. “Troy can carry me
and I'll put up a shield for both of us. And you can carry
Donovan while he shields you.”
bloody likely,” Kathryn said, turning to Donovan. He wasn't in
on the plan either, but for a different reason: he walked
through the wall just after Renee made the suggestion.
Yuki handed her a vial. “Plan B! Drink this!” Kathryn did so,
only asking what it did after downing it completely. She got her
answer when she shrunk down to only three inches tall.
smiled and pointed to the wall. “There's a small hole under
there. Better hurry!” Kathryn nodded and raced towards it,
reaching the other side just before growing back. Yuki made
another vial, made sure to stand closer to the wall, and did the
carried out Renee's plan, clutching her tightly as the two muddy
messes scaled the wall, her shield countering the fountain of
death. She smiled the whole way.
kind of exhilirating,” she whispered. It almost made him break
his flight spell.
arrived safely in the open field on the other end, where Kathryn
and Yuki were screaming.
that come from?” said Yuki. Donovan had a shield up and
something promptly hit it. Followed by several more somethings.
This must have been the certain doom Melrose was talking about.
how are we supposed to 'end the threat?' We don't even know what
it is,” Troy cried.
stepped forward, dragging Donovan and his shield with her. “Just
a second...” She concentrated for a moment and fired off her
trigger spell. Instantly, five turrets appeared out of nowhere,
randomly firing assorted elemental attacks. Keeping her spell
up, she shouted, “There they are!”
she kept her reveal spell up and Donovan unwittingly kept her
protected, Troy and Kathryn ran around and bashed each of them
out of submission. Once the fifth and final turret ate staff,
Melrose appeared on the other end.
“Congratulations, mission completed,” she said, with no more
energy than she did when she explained the rules.
Troy and Yuki slumped over, dirty, burned and exhausted. Renee
was too, but she clapped her hands excitedly. “That was fun! Can
we do that again this summer?!”
the successful run, most of the unit teleported straight back to
the dorm to change their clothes and put ice on their backs.
Even Donovan was awfully flammable during the exercise and
needed to chill. The one exception to the rule was Renee, who
chose to linger behind for a few minutes and walked back.
arrived, only Kathryn was in the common room. Somebody was in
the shower, but everyone else must have been in their rooms.
kept you?” Kathryn asked, laying face-down on the couch, holding
an ice pack. Given how muddy Renee had gotten, Kathryn was
surprised she took the scenic route back.
messing up the dorm, Renee took off her shoes. Then her socks.
Then she had to force herself not to disrobe further. “Oh, just
asking Professor Melrose some things. Namely what the heck I did
at the end there to make all those turrets appear.”
as she wanted to sit down, Renee didn't. “Well, I never learned
that spell in class. In fact, I've noticed I've been doing a few
things lately that I don't remember learning. I mean, remember
when Kurt died?”
to forget,” Kathryn muttered. “Wasn't there anyway.”
Right. But after he was hit, I put a spell on him that kept him
stable until Yuki could try her potion. Molly asked me where I
learned it... I didn't know. And there were a couple things
during the Hageshoni attack that I just knew.”
rolled her eyes. Discussing that stuff wasn't her idea of
unwinding. Mockingly, she said, “Well, aren't you special?”
that book,” Renee said. “Melrose says I shouldn't worry about
it, since I'll graduate before they take it out. But I don't
want to be better at magic just because of that thing.
Especially if demons are going to chase after it all the time.”
Shrugging, Kathryn replied, “Eh, use it in school. After what
Donovan did to you, you deserve a break. And you know Troy'll
chase after you if any demons try to nab you again.”
blushed a little. “Where is he anyway?”
“Shower.” Kathryn perked up her ears and didn't hear rushing
water. “At least he was. Should be getting out soon.” Renee
faced to the bathroom door as Kathryn continued, “I was going to
go in next, but it looks like you need it more. He gunked you up
escaped Renee and she turned to Kathryn again. “That was pretty
wild.” She entered her bedroom and opened her closet door.
Without touching anything inside, she used telekinesis to move a
watched it, amused. “Can't even touch your new clothes, huh?”
smiled. “Stay tuned for the march of flying underwear.” She hung
the dress up on a coat rack and returned to Kathryn. Checking
the bathroom door again, she asked, “Anyway, do you know if
Troy's said anything about me lately?”
really. He's been kinda quiet lately. Can't say I blame him.”
in shock over Marie?” Renee looked disappointed.
dunno. He doesn't really talk about it at all. You and Molly
kinda let Marie off the hook, and I'm cool with that. But it's
like Troy doesn't care. It's weird.”
You'd think knowing she wasn't that bad would help him get over
nodded. “Whatever. I'm sure he'll make his move when he feels
underwear parade began, Renee sighed. “Well, maybe I could give
him a little push.” Once her undergarments were safely tucked
under the dress, she turned to Kathryn, suddenly serious. “Would
that be all right?”
grumble and glancing away for a second, Kathryn replied, “Why
are you asking me?”
really close to Troy. And I can't tell if you're all that fond
of the idea of him and me.”
resentful, Kathryn said, “I'm not sure what you're getting at,
but any idiot can tell you two are crazy about each other. So do
what you gotta do. Just know that if you do anything to hurt
him, I'll kick your ass.”
Renee could say anything to that, the bathroom door opened and
Troy stepped out, drying his hair. He didn't see her waving her
unmentionables around, but she blushed anyway. Mud still caked
her clothes and most of her face, so he found it adorable.
liked the smile that curled on his face and smiled back,
playfully brushing her dress past him as it, and she, entered
the bathroom. With another wave of her hand, the door shut
behind her. Renee added a wink before it closed.
stood there, stunned and short of breath. He turned to Kathryn.
She had watched the whole thing with little reaction.
are you thinking?” she asked.
regained his capacity to think, all he could say was, “Reggie's.
nodded slowly, stood up and joined him, still holding her ice to
her back. “Yep. Let's go.”
first couple nights, they had tried to get into Reggie's, but
the door was closed. Apparently, even with so few students
present this week, he was still taking reservations as they
couldn't get in. Troy and Kathryn hoped a mid-afternoon romp
would bear more fruit.
the door was closed again. “Damn,” Troy said, heaving a sigh.
“Hormones are a bitch,” Kathryn mumbled, patting his back. He
shuddered in pain.
be $18.67,” Giles informed from down the hallway. They
recognized his shrill voice immediately as he made a delivery.
He received exactly $18.67, and frowned as soon as the door
slammed in his face. “Thanks for the tip,” he mumbled.
Giles, why's Reggie been so busy lately?” Kathryn asked.
answered without missing a step... or a hello of some sort.
we're in session,” Troy said.
it's Spring Break. He always does Spring Break.”
shook her head. “So wait a minute... you mean he stays here
eleven months of the year, but one of the few times school's
actually in session and he's down in Florida?”
that's not it at all!” Giles shook his head and shot Kathryn an
incredulous look. He scoffed and added, “They did Lake Havasu
first time in a month, Troy had trouble sleeping that night.
Much of that lost hour was spent turning over and chiding
himself for letting his mind wander like this. For everything
that they had been through, weaker men would have been
constantly haunted. Troy was proud that he had gotten through it
all without going crazy. Somehow he had emerged from it at
peace. Losing Kurt, Kamila and Marie was tragic, as was the
reprimand from the MST, but he was never one to stay angry at
the world for long. In time, everything seemed to resolve itself
and he emerged from it a stronger person.
couldn't say the same about all of his friends. Kathryn was
still broken after losing Kurt and killing Kamila. The first was
understandable. Troy would give her all the time in the world to
recover from that. Her grief over Kamila, however, was
frustrating. Kamila had been dead to him since her betrayal, so
Kathryn finishing her off was a formality. Yet Kathryn still
found it hard to grasp, and brought it up often enough to make
Troy uncomfortable. Her difficulty with such a defensible kill
made it impossible to discuss Marie.
he wanted to discuss Marie. Unlike Kathryn, Troy was not
tormented by his act. In the end, Marie was a demon, she was
obstructing him and he did his job. For all the things the MST
had chewed him out for, Marie's death was not one of them. They
didn't care, so Troy figured he didn't have to either. It wasn't
important that he liked her so much, which Kathryn interpreted
as a great tragedy when Marie left. It didn't matter that Marie
loved him back, which Molly insisted was genuine. And never mind
that Marie pleaded to find a way to save everybody that
mattered, something Renee ended up echoing. Troy had done a
masterful job ignoring all that.
she wasn't the reason for his insomnia, perhaps it was Marie's
ghost that kept him up. Between their dirty romp through the
obstacle course and the flirting outside the shower, Troy
couldn't get Renee out of his head. This was once a common
occurrence, and shouldn't have bothered him so much. With Molly
out of power, he could claim Renee whenever he wanted. Yet he
hesitated, and he knew the sudden loss of Marie was part of the
reason. Their relationship crashed so swiftly and so loudly that
he couldn't bear to think of trying again so soon. Not after
what he had gone through, and not after what he finally did to
course, all the reasons Troy had kept Marie over Renee were
still valid. He still resented the way Renee refused to stand up
to Molly while she was oppressing him. He still found it
unsettling that she needed to see his magic heroics to find him
attractive. And her tactics in trying to come between him and
Marie were disgusting. He couldn't ignore all that now that he
was available again, no matter how much he thought of her.
his head in his pillow, Troy stopped fighting it and hoped
dreaming of Renee would at least put him to sleep. Nobody needed
to know about it and he could go back to rejecting these
feelings in the morning. For now, he could be at peace hearing
Renee gently call his name.
she said. He smiled as his little fantasy started to take shape.
She was still all muddy, but he had a water spell that could
take care of that...
he heard, even though that wasn't part of the scene. Although
Renee's voice was still faint, it was a little more urgent. When
he opened his eyes and faced forward, she was leaning over him.
He muffled his own scream.
I just...” she trailed off. She looked helpless in her
Fantasies were one thing, but she was the last thing he wanted
to see for real. He turned on his side. “What are doing? How did
you get in here?”
Even without seeing her, he could picture her mischievous smile
from the tone in her voice. “I saw that Donovan learned a spell
to walk through walls, so I asked Professor Melrose to teach it
turned on his side. “What are you doing here?”
it wait until morning?” Troy muttered. “This isn't a good time.”
fell forward, sliding onto the bed. Clutching Troy from behind,
she put her head on his shoulder. “It's a great time. I couldn't
sighed. As exhilarating as her touch was, it made him miserable.
“We talked about this. It's just not a good idea. And I'm still
love you,” she blurted. Closing her eyes, she waited for a
response. His body seemed to freeze up, which was close enough
wait. I just needed to say that. Other than Molly, I've never
known anybody that cares about me the way you do. You've thrown
yourself into danger so many times, just to keep us safe. How
can I not fall for you, Troy?”
as her confession made him want to drop everything and take her,
her reasons were also part of the problem. It shouldn't have
been about his rescues or any of that. Not when he had somebody
that appeared to love him dearly despite of it. Whether or not
Marie's feelings were genuine, it felt good to have someone that
didn't need to be saved.
just wrong, though,” he said, stern. “I told you all the reasons
I chose Marie over you. That doesn't change just because Marie
was a demon.” He rolled over, not escaping her arms, but now
staring her in the face. “I mean, what does it say about me that
I'd forget all that now?”
lowered. “It would almost be like you're betraying her.” They
flashed up. “But you're not! She's not here anymore and you had
nothing to do with that. It's not your fault that she left. In
fact, I think she'd be perfectly okay with us together.”
shook her head and continued, as Troy trembled. “She was a good
person, Troy. I'm sorry she's gone, but you have to move on.
Don't blame her, and definitely don't blame yourself.”
blame himself... Troy wanted to hear that. He didn't blame
himself for losing Marie. Perhaps he should have, but hearing
someone else absolve him, even if Renee didn't know what had
happened, felt good. In his moment of calm, she leaned forward
and kissed him softly. Renee leaned back, closed her eyes and
exhaled, a faint smile appearing on her face.
the combination of emotions that came over him, whether it be
guilt, gratitude, disinterest or relief, he lost any guidance on
over what was a good idea or a good time. He lunged forward and
kissed her fully, wrapping his arms around her waist and not
stopping until he rolled on top of her. Renee was stunned, but
elated at every step, even when he proceeded to kiss her neck
she said, already breathless. He stopped and faced her. One look
into his eyes and she forgot what she wanted to say. Instead,
she attacked his own neck with kisses.
point, he may have still recognized that this was a bad idea.
But as the night continued, he cared less and less.
Renee were officially together again, and there was nothing
Molly could do about it. Even so, Renee dutifully returned to
her room the next morning to avoid any perception of
impropriety. Going a step further, Troy was casual in the
commons, getting his breakfast and his materials together the
way he always did before his early classes. It wasn't until
Renee emerged from her room and kissed him on the cheek that the
crowd was floored.
Naturally, Troy cheated a glance at Molly first, but was
surprised to see more of an unhappy sneer than her usual
murderous glare. Sitting next to Troy, Renee looked up at her
sister far more often, either in an effort to tweak her or to
prove that the two could function as a couple without bringing
forth a great cataclysm.
and Yuki left their rooms just before Troy was about to leave.
Renee stood up as well.
I walk with you to class?” she asked. He nodded silently to say
'no,' took her hand, and left with her.
a moment for that to register. Then Yuki said, “Well, it's about
damn time.” Then she went into the kitchen area. “Anyone else
like Renee, was more interested in Molly's reaction. The elder
sister stoically drank from her coffee mug, set it down, and
leaned forward, elbows on the table. With Yuki occupied in the
kitchen, Kathryn sat down in front of her guardian and smirked.
finally hooked up, huh?” Facing the door, Kathryn added, “I'm
surprised he didn't tell me.”
into her coffee, Molly was somber. “I noticed that someone used
a spell to walk through walls last night. I had assumed it was
Donovan, since I thought only he and I knew how to do that. I
didn't react, since if he had entered your room, you would just
kick his ass. Turns out it wasn't him.”
furrowed her eyebrows. “Are you suggesting that Troy would-”
“Thrusters can't do that spell. Only Weavers.” Molly paused.
“Renee went into his room.”
taking a second to appreciate the magnitude of that, Kathryn
snickered. “Well, how about that? Bet you feel great right now.
And there's not a damn thing you can do to stop it, huh?”
Kathryn's bombastic charge, Molly's tone didn't change. “No,”
she replied, taking another drink. “So stop harassing me over it
just to hide the fact that you don't like it either.”
Stunned as Kathryn was by that comment, she let it slide. She
knew Molly was far too good at reading people to deny it. “Look,
the only reason I'd have a problem with it is because I'm not
convinced Renee's good for him. I mean, what's she doing
sneaking into his room when he's still getting over Marie? But
if they're going to run off and have a quick fling, I'm all for
it. Troy needs to get some.”
Molly replied, “Then please volunteer yourself before my sister
looked away, suddenly saddened. Staring down, she answered,
“I've thought about it. I mean, I do love him.”
would be easier for all of us if-”
not like that.” Kathryn turned back to Molly. “We're too close
as friends to try to be a couple. It just doesn't work that way.
Not that it hasn't stopped me from wanting to hook up with him
sometimes. I guess I've just been that lonely lately. I just
don't want to screw everything up.”
stared back, shocked not by the nature of the conversation, but
how Kathryn had opened up to her. Not that Molly had any words
of encouragement for her. She felt just as alone after Kurt's
death, only she had no temptation hanging in front of her. Molly
was surprised at how much she sympathized, so she stood up and
rinsed out her empty mug. If she stayed there any longer, she
may have accidentally said something nice.
Kathryn went on. “I mean, I just don't want to lose him. Not
after Kurt and Kamila died and Marie... well, whatever happened
simply irritated by the whole thing, Molly headed back to her
room. She didn't make it. “Hey, do you have any idea what did
happen to Marie?”
froze. Noting the reaction, Kathryn added, “Oh don't give me
that. If they have a problem with me caring about a friend, then
really don't know?” Molly asked.
no. She was with Renee, then she ran off. That's the last any of
us heard of her.”
her shoulders, Molly sighed. This morning was going to get far
worse. “Into my office, please.”
Confused, Kathryn walked in. Molly magically shut the door
behind her. She picked up a bound document on her desk, flipped
instantly to a page and handed it to Kathryn. Then she sat down
and looked away. “This is the final report of your rescue. I got
it last week. I haven't shown anybody else, but I think you need
didn't have to. She stared back, hushed. “She's dead, isn't
closed her eyes. “Just read it.”
looked down and quickly found the relevant section:
Monroe reached the door to the medical room without incident,
but was entrapped in a barrier circle prepared by an Urayoni
demon (ref: O'Donnell, Marie). The demon attempted to negotiate
with Monroe, and entered the circle during the process. Monroe
eliminated the demon, and therefore the barrier circle, with his
equipped 'smiter' weapon. He proceeded inside and released...
used such cold language that Kathryn almost missed it. As she
read it again, it jumped at her: 'Monroe eliminated the demon.'
Her knees weakened and she had to clutch Molly's desk to sustain
her balance. The report fell to the floor.
believe it,” she said, sickened.
head was down. “I wish I didn't.”
shook her head. “No... it's gotta be a mistake. Troy never said
anything about this.”
leads me to believe Marie was sincere in her pleading for a
truce, just as Renee said. Otherwise he'd be more open about it.
Apparently the only person he told was the debriefing officer.”
Kathryn shouted. “He would never do that to her!”
remained calm. “How do you know? What makes you so sure that he
would never do that?”
why is he with Renee already? I doubt he ever truly lost
interest in her.”
was silent. She couldn't deny that. “But he was still loyal to
Marie before she turned on us. At least most of the time.”
once she did, she was just another demon in his way.” Molly
pointed to the report on the floor. “That report doesn't mention
how little ability Marie actually possessed, or how she and
Renee were cowering in fear down there. It didn't matter to the
MST. It didn't matter to Troy either.”
onto Molly's bed, Kathryn stared forward blankly. “How could it
not? I told him how sick I felt about what I did to Kamila.” She
turned to Molly. “And that was self-defense! I know I didn't do
anything wrong but...!”
nodded. “Understandable. That sounded awful.” She sighed. “But
just because he knows how you feel doesn't mean he cares.”
her head, Kathryn was ready to cry. “But he always tries to do
the right thing. More often than me. How could he do something
technically, he did do the right thing. He eliminated the
know what I mean... he's still gotta have a heart.”
“Perhaps, perhaps not,” Molly said coldly. “His father didn't.”
does he have to do with this?”
“Everything.” Molly looked up at the ceiling. “Frank was
despicable... blindly focused on doing the right thing. It's why
I've done everything in my power over the last two years to turn
Troy into a decent human being.”
turned and gestured towards the report. “Apparently, I failed.”
was so shocked by the news that Troy had killed Marie that she
almost missed hearing Molly's assertion. When she did, all she
could do was scoff. “What the hell have you done to help Troy?
You made his life miserable.”
hoped that in the process, he would gain some compassion. Maybe
value his friends a little. Learn to question authority.” Molly
shrugged and added, “And yes, keep him the hell away from my
sister. Given what he did to Marie, can you blame me?”
Sickened, Kathryn replied, “Oh, get over yourself. What do you
want me to say? You were right all along and we should go back
to torturing the kid?”
merely trying to explain myself. I doubt it will ease the blow,
but Troy's behavior is not entirely surprising.”
just sat there and shook her head. Much as she wanted to argue
and defend Troy's nature and actions, she knew it wouldn't help.
The more she thought about it, the less she really knew about
him. She had always told him everything- thoughts, dreams,
meaningless bitching. He'd listen, usually give some sort of
feedback and maybe crack a joke. It was all she needed. But it
was hard for her to get into his head in return. Troy would
share his mood, and sometimes celebrate or complain with her. He
was rarely as open with her as she was with him. He never let on
about what exactly made him tick, unless it was broken. Even
then, he usually mended things himself.
least he went in and saved Renee. If he's such a dick, would he
have done that?”
didn't bite. “I'll admit your attack on the Urayoni was
encouraging. It was certainly contrary to the MST's interests.
But only because they value myself and Yuki over Renee. By
fighting to save Renee, all of us were put in far more danger.
While I still approve, when it comes to a choice solely between
his friends and the MST, I doubt Troy would make the correct
her arms, Kathryn asked, “Why? Because his father was like
slightest reference to Frank made Molly seethe. “How well did
you know Frank Monroe? Do you have any idea what he was like?”
to recall the man, Kathryn shrugged. It had been several years.
“I dunno. He seemed like a normal dad to me. Maybe a little
harsh at times, but so's mine.”
only begins to describe him.”
describe him already!” Kathryn was a little harsh herself.
“You've never told us the deal between you and Frank. I think
we'd all like to know.”
and Kathryn stared at each other. After a long pause, Molly gave
in: “When I was eight years old, an Urayoni demon found me. He
worked with my mother at her realty and tried to draw me over.
Frank and Kurt's father stepped in.”
sigh, Molly added, “I didn't know what was going on, but during
their fight, I used magic for the first time. Came out of
nowhere in order to help them. Frank said he'd never heard of
anybody that age using magic with any sort of control. From then
on, I was his.”
Normally, private training of an eight-year-old born to
civilians was out of the question. Frank had to call in several
favors and use both the evidence that the Urayoni had targeted
her and the strength of her magic potency. He insisted and
received reluctant approval from the academy. Molly obliged him
thanks to the same 'stop the bad men' pitch he used when he
first met her. It was easy for a child to understand that
message, but her training was brutal. Even the elementary light
ball is a chore when the caster is in elementary school.
times, nothing came out.
try it again,” Frank said, dissatisfied.
is tired,” Molly replied, rubbing her wrist.
you do more advanced magic if you don't perfect the basics?
Succeed ten times in a row and we're done for the day.”
that was seven!” she protested.
times, Molly. Go.”
got worse as they progressed up the ladder.
up?” Frank asked, hovering a rock over the ground.
held her hand steady. “I... I think so.” But when Frank launched
it at her, it hit her square in the chest and she fell to her
walked up to her slowly, ignoring her crying. “What kind of
shield is that?”
thought it was up,” she sobbed.
lost your concentration. You have to be confident that the
shield will stop it. Otherwise you-”
do it!” she cried. “It's too hard.”
like he always did when he beat her down too far, he softened
his voice. “Molly, I know I'm hard on you, but only because I
know you can do this. And because you need to do this. There is
too much evil out there and we need your help to stop it.” He
fell to a knee and put his hands on her shoulders. “One day,
something bad will happen. And you'll be the only one who can
make it better.”
me?” she asked, sniffling.
that's how strong you are. But you'll only be able to stop it if
you are as strong as you can possibly be. It doesn't matter what
we have to go through to make it happen, as long as you're at
your best at the end of it.”
really need me that much?”
nodded. “The world may depend on you some day.”
Molly stood up. “All right. Try it again.”
ensuing three years of rigorous training, Molly learned
everything a professional Weaver is expected to know. She became
a devoted disciple, confident that no matter how agonizing the
process was, she was destined to need it. And while Frank was
hard on her, he also nurtured her development skillfully. Molly
saw him as not only a teacher, but a parent as well. When she
lamented moving to L. B. Gould, she admired Frank's dedication
when he packed up his family and moved them there as well.
calls,” he said, adding that someday she'd understand.
what about me?” Molly asked him. “What about your family?” She
had met Ellen on several occasions. She knew of his son's
existence but had never met him. According to Frank, Troy wasn't
allowed to know about magic, implying some cosmic law forbidding
it. She didn't find out until later that it had been Ellen's
never bothered answering the question about his family, and she
was stunned when he abandoned not only her, but them as well.
For all the times he encouraged her with talk of protecting her
loved ones, he left his own in the cold for some mission in
another world to save people he had never met.
care of her, he threw her into Central Academy whether or not
she could handle it. He practically used extortion to enroll
her, as officials refused to let an underage mage roam
unsupervised without proper supervision. The academy proved to
be the only available supervision, and she had come far enough
that nobody wanted to waste her unique education. Molly was
enrolled in the guardian program, as it was generally reserved
for high schoolers. Never mind that she was in middle school,
and the high schoolers here came from families with at least one
mage. She later found out that the other reason she became a
guardian was because Central had reserved a seat in the program
for Frank's kin. Her spot was originally supposed to go to Troy.
whole experience left her lost. By the time her first session
was over, her fellow students could do most of the same things
she could. She was better, but as both the youngest student
present and the only guardian-to-be without magic lineage, she
became an outcast. A resentful one at that.
then the Urayoni came calling again,” Molly told Kathryn, head
in her trembling hands. “And I was so angry at this school, and
Frank for leaving, that I wanted to join them. I really did. I
wanted to turn around and destroy all of it.” She shook her
head. “But all I could think about how there was evil out there
and the MST needed my help to stop it.”
Kathryn's eyes were wide, and just a little misty from hearing
all that. Still, she didn't lose sight of the main point: “And
stared at her. “That man raised Troy too. And abandoned him too.
When Frank left, it destroyed me. Troy pretty much shrugs it
off. Even now, he's more curious than resentful.” She stared up
at the ceiling. “For everything I've done since then, I can't
tell if it was right or wrong to keep him away from my sister.”