Sorry for being gone for so long. Once again, circumstances kept me from focusing on this story for quite a while. The warehouse I work at had a grueling holiday rush, and it was especially bad because two of our people transferred, with no replacements for them. Adding on top of that, some relatives I hadn't seen for a while came for the holidays, and I wanted to spend time with them.
But even when I did get back to work, it still took me a while. Why? Because this was the longest chapter I've ever written for any story. It took me longer than I projected to finish. The last two chapters barely made ten thousand words, this one hit sixteen thousand. Be prepared for the longest chapter yet.
You may have noticed I have a different name now- no longer am I Doctorwhodat, I am ShootToMiss! I felt it was high past time to match this profile with my AO3 account.
AND THE BIGGEST NEWS- I commissioned art for the story! The title work is drawn by MyNameJers, you can find him on his tumblr, reddit (u/Jers_TreeMan) and twitter ( chrisTheJers)! Go give him some love, he did an amazing job mimicking Mike Mignola's style while still making it his own! (it looks much better and bigger on the ao3 version- it's at the end of chapter 1)
As always, a big thanks to TakanaMakana for beta reading, editing and suggestions!
With all that out of the way… the event many of you have surely been waiting for… it's Covention Time!
Chapter 6: Covention
You know what I like about living out on the edge of the Boiling Isles? Plenty of things. The main draw though, is how quiet it is. No neighbors to bother you, especially not for a cup of pixie sugar. Not that I have any- I take my apple blood straight, thank you. No racket from the other residents either. Just the ambience of the surrounding outskirts. Which is another draw… how close to nature you are. Titan knows that everyone else is too afraid of wild magic to go venturing deep into the forests of the island. But me, I like it out here, where there's less rules and more freedom. Sure, you have to take a trek just to get to town for daily shopping and take-out deliveries don't go out this far. But it's a small price to pay to live out here. Oh, and to avoid getting arrested by the cops. That's probably a better tradeoff.
Lately however, things have gotten less quiet. The agents dawdling around my house and the homunculus and blonde gal talking outside are proof enough of that.
Because suddenly, a big oaf in a trenchcoat shows up with his human buddies and start poking around all over the place, using human machines to measure this, calculate that. Usually, this would be the part where I'd chase them off with a multitude of painful spells, but unfortunately, I have to let them do this. Not only because I can't get rid of Trenchcoat himself, but also because Luz won't be able to learn magic if I do. Cause wouldn't you know it, these guys brought Luz's mom with them. And boy, was she not happy.
She yelled up a storm at Luz, before turning on me. Admittedly, I said something I probably shouldn't have, and she got in my face about it. Boy, did that leave me stunned. No one has ever talked to me like that before, not even my own sister. Now, could she have really throttled me like she threatened? Nah. I was caught off guard, and even intimidated for a moment. But I'm the Owl Lady. I've got more than enough ways to deal with any kind of threat, let alone a human.
But when the shock wore off, I did realize just how serious the woman was about her daughter. To have family like that who'll even stick it to a powerful witch like me… it must be real nice. I've got King and Hooty, but my own family? I care about them, but… they haven't really stuck up for me in a long time. Lilith thinks she does, but she never listens to me about that boss of hers.
In any case, when Luz and her mom came down with that little plan of theirs, I thought it'd be best if I played nice for the time being. Luz wants to learn magic more than anything, so I definitely couldn't bring myself to foul it up. The Kid's puppy dog eyes are unbearable to look at. Her mom also said she would let me around her if I proved I was trustworthy. However the hell I'm supposed to that in her eyes…
Still, I didn't get why they wouldn't let Luz do magic at first. Sure, humans can't learn magic the standard way, but it shouldn't be a danger to her. The conversation that followed had quite a few revelations for me.
Luz's mom had gone to bed, staying up in the room her daughter was in. Most of Flathorn's friends went back to the other side, leaving me to watch while he sets up a makeshift bed in my living room. "Hey, I know the nurse doesn't trust me. But I can guarantee that Luz's soul isn't in danger or anything like that. I know from experience, and even witches in training can tell you that much."
Trenchcoat sets down his belongings on various tables around my couch. There aren't really any more rooms he can sleep in, so this will have to do. "Well, Ms. Noceda doesn't trust you, and I'm not sure how I feel about you either. Besides, if you saw what it did to humans on the earth side of things, you would probably understand why we're not so keen on letting her practice the art."
I wasn't so convinced. "Considering how it doesn't come to humans naturally, I can't say I believe you all that much."
He raises an eyebrow at me as he throws a blanket down. "You're still on about that? Haven't you ever met a witch on the other side? You go there plenty."
"Of course I have. All hunched over and withered, right? Or at least most of them." I close the blinds to the house. I can hear Hooty settling into his door. I swear, if he screeches in the morning again…
"So you've met some, but you still don't think humans can do magic?"
"Look, just because some of the Isles residents look like humans, doesn't mean they are."
He pauses while removing his trenchcoat. "What are you talking about?"
I better put this one to rest. "Humans think all their little myths and tales go back to some other humans turning into monsters, one way or another. But the truth is, every one of your myths comes from the Boiling Isles. Werewolves, mermaids… and especially witches. One way or another, they left the Isles to romp around in your world. Magical they might be, but human they aren't." I call my staff. Owlbert, who had been stretching his wings, hops back onto it. "The only way Luz is going to learn magic, is her little glyphs- an indirect method that doesn't involve magic coursing through her veins. She's not going to turn into a demon, or a monster, or a wrinkly old witch, because all those things don't come from humans to begin with. You can doubt me on that one all you want, but any Isles resident can tell you that one. So, trust me when I say this: Luz isn't in danger learning magic here." With Owlbert comfortable, I warp my staff back to its resting place so he can sleep.
His only response is to stare at me, not a word escaping from his mouth. Guess the revelation was too much for him… "Effie Kolb." He says, before removing his trenchcoat.
"Hmm?" What kind of weird response is that?
He picks up a bottle of alcohol of some kind and pops it open. He's got this somber look on his face. "Just a little over sixty years ago. I'd just finished up some work in Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains. I come across this house where a poor girl's been bewitched- left in a death-like state. This wanderer comes in. Tom… good guy, he was. He knows what's wrong with her and who's responsible. Some girl who got tangled in the wrong crowd, named Cora Fisher. So he takes me to confront her. He tells me the girl's involved with the same woman who tried to get him to become a witch. Her name was Effie Kolb." He takes a big swig from his drink, then lets out a low grumble of anger. "Nasty woman. She had this terrible habit of tempting young kids to become witches… to give up their souls to her boss. Some came to like it. Others had no choice. But all of them belonged to that creep afterward. I got a good look at him. Damn, was he ugly… he lived up to his namesake." He finally stares right into my eyes, completely. "The Crooked Man, they called him."
And just like that, my instincts flare for a brief moment. Similar to what happened when I first met Flathorn, my body seems to have gone completely alert. And I can understand why this time… that was a powerful demon's name. I could feel it down to my bones. But not your average Isles demon… this one felt… deeper. "That's… not right. No demon from the Isles could do that."
"That's because he wasn't from the Isles. He was from Hell." That sent my heart into a pit. "I take it you've heard of the place?"
"Yeah… I've heard." He looks at me expectedly, wanting me to elaborate. "The reason why Belos closed off most ways in and out of the Isles was because of them. He gave a lot of speeches about how they used Earth as a playground. How they convinced various individuals from the islands to stay on earth- to terrorize humans since they couldn't use magic to fight back. Like I told you, he hates wild magic. And the demons from Hell… he always said they wanted nothing more than to send us back into the age of wild magic and tear our society apart. So, Belos closed off the realm because he didn't want "the demons and traitors corrupting the good people of the Isles." I never believed wild magic was bad, but… even when I started living out here and rejected Belos' society, something in my gut told me he wasn't wrong about Hell and its inhabitants. There's always this sudden flight or fight response in me when Hell is discussed, and I get this deep pit in my stomach."
He points his bottle at me. "You ever get that feeling when talking to earth witches?"
I think about that. I'd never made it a habit, mostly because they don't seem to like me… some of them even tried to fight me. But when I remember all the times I came across earth witches, those same feelings of dread come back.
"Hmm." Flathorn mumbles, seemingly content with the look on my face. He doesn't look smug about it, surprisingly. More like he's got the confirmation he needed. He takes another swig, continuing his story. "The Crooked Man was a particularly cruel one. And Effie Kolb, his right hand, wasn't much better. Killed poor Tom's father… turned him into a horse and rode him to death. We convinced Cora to come with us to a nearby church, so we could bless her. Try to save her, you know?" He looks away. "…She didn't make it to the church. But the two of us did. And with the help of the priest, we gave Tom's father his burial… and did what we could for Cora's soul." His sadness is palpable. His grip loosens on his bottle, nearly dropping it. Only for him to clench tightly out of anger. Almost shattered the thing in his hands.
"Even when the Crooked Man and Effie came with an army of old, ugly witches… we fought them off, and we even managed to send the Crooked Man back to hell. And Effie Kolb? Well, it wasn't good for her. Changed from the young teen she looked like into the old hag she actually was." He finished off his drink, before throwing it into a nearby trash. He almost went to grab another one but stayed his hand instead. "Dammit, Hellboy… don't get drunk… not on this job…"
The silence could be cut by a knife at that point. He puts the cooler away and hangs that… "gun" of his on a rack. "So… I think I can guess where this is going."
He nods, and his gaze turns to the stairs. Where one little girl is resting. "Effie was human. The old priest knew her when she was truly a young girl, and him a young man. She was always off… but it got worse when she met the Crooked Man." He grimaces.
"And she's not the only one. Humans can use magic. Believe you me. But a lot of them want the power for their own gain. And they want it right away. So, kids and adults alike all over the planet end up meeting demons, one way or another. They make deals with them- their souls for knowledge- and it's not pretty what they turn into. Sometimes they find out how to tap into magic on their own… but they decide to dip into the dark kind. It changes people. Not only into witches, but other monstrosities… vampires, werewolves, and a plethora of other horrid things."
He finally sits down on the couch, still gazing at those stairs. "I'm telling you… we have good reason to be wary of this magic of yours. Too many people get tempted to toss their souls away for magic. They don't know any better. I'm not taking any chances when it comes to Luz." He finally turns away, lying down. "Still… considering what you told me about this emperor guy… I'm not surprised that you thought these things. He's all about control… ain't he?" He closes his eyes.
Later that evening I was left with my own thoughts, wandering up to my own room. I started to get why they were so cautious. But it doesn't make me any less determined to prove them wrong. The kid's counting on me.
But that other stuff Trenchcoat told me about… it started to make too much sense. If demons from Hell were as powerful as we were always taught, it would make sense they could give you powers you never dreamed of… even if it was a stupid way to get them. But even more than that… 'Humans can't do magic'. 'All human myths come from the Isles.' I'd heard these "truths" over and over as a kid. I'd never thought of them twice. They just seemed like the norm to me. But the more I think on it, the more it doesn't add up, especially after what I've seen and heard.
Luz can use magic, even if it's not the normal way… and obviously there's those witches Hellboy talked about that used to be human. But Belos wants the people of the Boiling Isles to believe that humans aren't and never were capable of magic. He claims the creatures on Earth came from the Isles before he closed off the realm and denounces them as traitors. And I've been hearing rumors that Belos has been seeking to claim my door to the human realm. At first, I thought he wanted to go to Earth… now I'm thinking he just wants to destroy the last gateway between the realms.
For whatever reason, Belos wants the Isles and Earth to stay as far apart as they possibly can… almost as if he's trying to keep something away. But what, I can't say for sure. I didn't get much farther thinking on it that night. But it's been popping up in my mind every now and then.
The calm morning is broken by the sound of my front door opening. Luz and Trenchcoat must be back from deliveries. They probably would've been back sooner if someone hadn't argued with me about whether Luz should be doing my delivieries.
"Hey, Eda! We're finally back!" Luz bursts through the doorway.
"Took you long enough. Did Ol' Flathorn do a safety check every time you got to a house?"
"My job is to keep her safe." The red wonder interjects, bringing in a smell of human "coffee" and cigarette smoke into my house. And oddly… roasted peanuts. "It's certainly not made easier when your little errand run alone risks her being eaten."
"Pfft. Luz was doing just fine before you made a fuss about the deliveries." I make quotes in the air, and he narrows his eyes at me. "But sure, it's so bad that she's learning on the job. I guess next you'll want me to cover her in soft pillows and have her go everywhere in a giant bubble."
"Sorry I didn't want the kid to lose her arm to a doorbell." Of all the things, he refuses to let go of that one in particular. "But sure, keep complaining. I'm sure Ms. Noceda will love how difficult you're being on matters as trivial as this."
"Firstly, I keep telling you the mouthbells just get a taste of your arm to know your intentions. Secondly, I'm completely willing to play nice, but it doesn't mean I can't criticize." I draw a spell circle, creating several portals that start juggling several things of mine. "I saw since the first day that she had this idealized version of what the Isles were like. I send her on these runs to remind her that the Isles are very different from her flowery fantasy books, while at the same time giving her a closer experience with the Isles' magic. Each and every customer I deal with, I make sure isn't some scammer or nutjob. She's never in any real danger."
"Fair enough. But it's not up to us. Luz is Ms. Noceda's daughter, and what she says goes. You can't just expect her to just causally throw her daughter into the thick of it." He sets the empty errand crate down nearby and throws my earnings to me. "You want to convince Luz's mom to try things your way? Ease her into it. Otherwise, you'll just scare her further into her shell."
The sound of Luz clearing her throat reminds us that she's still in the room… and we're obviously leaving her out of the conversation. "Oops, sorry kid." Probably shouldn't get into the habit of going at it about Luz as if she isn't there.
She gives an understanding smile in response. "It's… okay. Everyone's just kind of concerned about me. I get it." She focuses on Trenchcoat. "But… I kinda agree with Eda. I learned the routes and how the houses work pretty fine on my own. And Eda does send King with me to pull me out of trouble. Well, there was the wizard… but that was really more my fault."
"See?" I gestured to her while looking at Flathorn, feeling vindicated. "You gotta take risks sometimes if you wanna learn. Sure, sometimes you land in the mud… or fall off a cliff… or walk into a fake wizard's trap. But more often than not, you're rewarded with experience to use for the rest of your life. You won't always be able to take the easy way out."
He shakes his head, "Maybe not. But you shouldn't always do things the hard way just cause you can. I should know. I've gotten my clock cleaned just because I thought I had to do things the hard way. There are times when it's better to take the simpler option."
"Hmph. And yet the nurse is taking a risk letting her kid learn magic, isn't she?"
"Ooh! That reminds me! We actually met Willow and Gus while on the delivery run!" She interrupts, hopping up and down excitedly. I kinda wonder if she did that to keep us from arguing any further. "They told us they'd come by to meet us. They didn't get the chance to show me around the Magic Fair, so they want to make it up to me with the Covention. They'll probably be here any minute."
"You don't need a tour to know it's all a sham. There's a reason why I never joined any coven, not even the main nine. It's all a scam."
Luz snorts. "Oh, come on, Eda. It can't all be a scam."
I fetch one of my disguise cowls, while King enters the room. Good. I always need help getting my hair into these damn things. "It is, and I'll show you why once we get there. The only thing this Covention is good for is that it'll put your mom's fears to rest. Once Trenchcoat gets the information he needs, I'm out." I suddenly notice King is holding one of Luz's books. "King, what in the Titan's name are you doing?"
"What? They might be flowery, but once you get past that, they're actually pretty good reads!"
I sigh in exasperation. "Just help me get my cowl on."
Willow and Gus arrived while the witch stuffed her head into a hood. They talked with Luz about all the covens she might be interested in while we made final preparations. Kate and Roger decided to stay behind, but I gave 'em a walkie just in case.
The streets have been pretty empty since this morning. Even more so now. Not sure why, though. From what I can gather, this whole event is mostly like a college or job fair for the school kids. A way for the covens to advertise and convince kids to pick their career paths.
Snaggletooth's been grumpy since we left. I imagine she has more to say about this convention… and that it probably involves a certain emperor. With Luz talking with her friends up ahead, I figure now's a good time to talk to her about it.
"So, what's your beef with the system this time?"
She keeps tucking tufts of hair into her hood, even though it can't contain it. "Why? Gonna start a revolt?"
"Anything this emperor does that could possibly affect our stay here is a concern to me. I'd rather know now rather than later."
"Hmph. Alright, then. You know why I think it's a sham?" She taps her staff on a poster of a heroic looking Belos as we pass it. "Cause it's just another way ol' Bellyache tries to force the Isles into his neat little image."
"Somehow, I had a feeling it was along those lines. But how, exactly?"
"The coven system isn't just a career path. It's your only path. Whatever coven you join, you're locked into it. They seal off the rest of your magic, leaving you unable to cast any spells but the ones that coven was approved to use. Baking coven? Only spells that can be used for baking. Seamstress coven? Get ready to only ever do clothing magic. Plumbing coven? That's a sad life. The nine main covens have a larger variety, but it's not much better."
That is kind of bunk. If someone made an error in deciding their career, they were basically screwed. "Why the lockdown? What's so bad about variety to Belos?"
"More freedom in magic means less control for him. The less control, the more things start to shift back to the days of wild magic… at least in his eyes. And to him, that means losing his rule." She raises two fingers. "There's only two groups on this island that use spells from all areas. Wild witches like myself, whom Belos wants to arrest for "risking the spread of wild magic". And the Emperor's Coven. The only group he approves… because they act as his hand."
"I get it. Weed out the best and have them work for you, enforcing your rule. Meanwhile, the rest are crippled, but are taught to think they're being kept safe. If they ever catch on, they won't have the power to do anything about it."
She snaps her fingers and points at me. "Bingo! Now you're catching on."
"So, that's why you're so upset about Luz coming to this event."
"Yep. I ain't gonna let Belos get inside her head, subtle or not. I'm planning to show her when we get there. I'm hoping she learns to be her own witch rather than follow some set path already planned out for her by some random coven."
"Not a bad lesson. Except her mother's probably going to decide what she can and can't learn."
She gives a discontented grunt. "Which will completely undermine my cool lesson. Don't remind me. Whatever. I'll wear her down eventually."
"I don't know. I think you might scare her with all this Belos talk."
"I'm leaving that part out for now." She's quick to say.
Right. Leave it out even though we need to tell Camila everything. "Any particular reason?"
"Belos might not want humans, but he's not too concerned just because one is around. Especially if they're hanging with a irreputable criminal like myself. I don't want the nurse and Luz getting uppity for no reason. Luz could even learn a little magic and he won't mind. He'll only have an issue if more humans start running around, causing incident after incident."
"You think he'd come down from on high just for that?"
"Only if he feels he needs to reinforce his lies. And take it from me, if he feels the need to do that…" She gives me a stern look. "…at that point, we might be in trouble."
The convention… er, covention center is quite packed. Stalls as far as the eye can see.
Luz tends to inquire from her friend Willow about the covens, since Eda isn't keen on them. She lists them out as we walk along. Man, some of these are just… superfluous. The hell is even the point of making a hot-hell-dog vendor coven?
What interests me the most though, is when she talks about "the main nine". We come across a display by the Construction coven. They seem to focus mostly on building and repair. Kind of seems like they'd be a lesser coven.
"They use power glyphs to increase their strength." She explains when one of the coven members takes one out for a tiny nose… thing. Unfortunately, she seems to go crazy with power and starts trashing the whole place.
"I AM THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS!"
I watch as a table lands nearby. "Uh… should we do something about that?"
Willow shrugs, brushing it off. "Eh, this kind of stuff just happens. You should have seen what happened last year with the Bard coven."
Gus suddenly shudders. "So many flutes in all the wrong places…"
"Yowza wowza!" Luz says in amazement. A sudden ghostly version of her appears, saying the same thing, catching me off guard a little. "Yowza-whaaa?"
The vision walks over to two older teens standing in front of a symbol. "Ah, you've been taken in by the allure of the illusionist coven! We like to magic with a hint…" He disappears in a puff of smoke, reappearing a few feet away. "…of showmanship." His fellow students appear right next to him.
Luz jumps up and down giddily at the performance. But I've got to get an answer on this before we move on. "What exactly sets the main nine apart from the rest?" Willow and Gus seem surprised I don't know, giving me strange looks. "Hey, I don't live here, remember?"
"Oh, right." Willow strokes her chin. "Well, the best way to put it is that the main nine contain the those who are adept at a larger field of spells. The Construction coven isn't just good at building walls, they're good at all kinds of building spells. From interior decorating to even cooking, if it's buildable, they can do it."
Gus thumbs toward himself. "Yeah. I'm not just able to use smoke spells. I'm learning teleportation, mirror copies, a huge variety of light spells… and some of the masters of my coven can even use intangibility spells."
"I see. They're the cream of the crop."
Luz, who was listening intently, sounds even more amazed. "Wow! Then these covens are sort of like… your career and calling in life! What could possibly be so bad about them, Eda?"
Snaggletooth follows up what she told me earlier, showing Luz a kid who's having his magic sealed away. No mention of Belos, like she said… and topped off with some humble bragging about her being the most powerful witch on the isles. No surprise there.
The group starts to move on after she's done explaining, but before I can move with them, someone grabs my shoulder. Some lady with a look giving me a weird stare. "The tea leaves foretell that this…" She flips a pen in her hand before giving it to me. "…will lead you to your destiny."
Ugh… destiny. For Luz it's what she wants most, but I can't seem to get away from that damn word. Luckily, this lady just seems to be spouting bullshit to get me interested in her coven. "Uh, yeah lady. Thanks." I take the pen, if only because I need something to write notes with to give to Camila. She backs away "ominously".
"Well, that was… ah, crap!" As I look away from her, I realize I've completely lost the group. Damn it, Hellboy. You can't just lose the kid you're supposed to be looking after… I dart my head around, watching for any sign of them… until something catches my eye.
One man, standing in an aisle, staring at me as if I was the strangest thing he'd ever seen. Usually, I'd brush that off. But when I look a little closer, he seems stranger than his surroundings. He's got a full body cloak. It looks like something's rustling under it. But the weirdest thing is… his face. It's not a face at all… it's a gas mask. It's torn in vital places, so I thankfully don't have to worry about a chemical weapon out of nowhere. But there's a weird green glow coming from his eyes. It makes me feel nervous.
"Hmm?!" I jump and reflexively rear my fist back. Nothing there.
"Take it easy, ya weirdo, It's just me!" I look down to find King giving me a judgmental look. "Are you coming or what? Willow and Gus are about to show us the Emperor's coven panel."
I glance back to find that the masked person is gone. Vanished completely. My eyes narrow. "…Yeah… lead the way."
Snaggletooth looks even more "thrilled" as we watch the Emperor's coven panel. She keeps trying to crack jokes to random audience members around her, prompting them to scoot away.
Luz watches the performance, her eyes glued to it. Snaggletooth groans.
"Something the matter?" I ask her, careful not to be too loud.
"I already told Luz why these covens are bunk, but she's still bent on watching this garbage." She states as we look at her watching the show.
"Hey, you said it yourself. You want to teach her to be her own witch, let her be her own witch. She's just trying to make an informed decision."
"You say "informed decision", I say straight up brainwashing."
"You know her, you love her," The principal of Hexside shouts, drawing our attention. "Lilith!"
"Huh?!" Snaggletooth seems… surprised, as the same witch I met from yesterday appears on stage.
Luz also takes notice of her expression. "You know her?"
"You could say that."
The kid makes a small gasp. "Mysterious past!"
I'm not so content to leave it there. "That's the one I got my information from yesterday. While I was out on the town." I whisper to her. She glances at me for only a moment, before going bacl to staring at her, saying nothing. "So I'd really like to hear how you know her myself."
She stays quiet, glaring at the woman on stage as she makes a speech about climbing to the top. "I'll tell you back at the house." As she finishes and disappears from stage, Snaggletooth gets up and quickly walks out.
"Hey, Eda! Hold on!" Luz chases after her. Well, that was odder than usual for her. Better go and make sure the kid stays out of trouble…
"Oh, are you okay?!" My attention is grabbed by someone further up the stands, who is looking over a fallen person on the stares. "You should be careful and watch your step." Another person says to… a guy in a black cloak. Is that…?
I get all the confirmation I need when he quickly glances at me, and I see the same gas mask before. He rushes out the nearby exit. Now, that's just suspicious. "Hey, wait!" I shout as I run after him. "Let's have a talk!" I follow the exit he took… and find no sign of him when I get outside. "Damn…" The hell is up with that guy? And why does his mask seem… familiar?
I snap out of my thoughts when I realize… I went out the wrong exit. Luz and the others are gone again. "Damn it."
Eda had decided to leave after seeing the Emperor's coven. Something about that lady really set her off. I hope I can find out- I love mysterious pasts!
But, for now, King and I are going to explore the rest of the Covention. I really want to see everything this place has to offer! "So, King, where to first?"
"I say the cooking covens. We should snatch all the snacks they make while they aren't looking!"
"King, those are free." I snicker. "And besides, if they weren't, Hellboy would never let me do that."
"Eh, what he doesn't know won't hurt him."
"What are you talking about, he's right…" My eyes widen as I look behind us, noticing a lack of a certain agent. "King, where's- oof!" Distracted by what's not behind me, I don't notice whoever I just bumped into.
"Watch where you're- Oh, it's you. Willow's "abomination". Or are you a goblin this time?" Hoo boy, it's Amity.
"Hey, you're that kid from the magic fair!" King notes.
I better clear this up. "Uh, hey Amity. So, funny story… not an abomination or a goblin. Sorry for the confusion those times. I'm Luz, the human. Hi!" I extend my hand to shake.
"Put that away!" She swats my hand, and points at me. "I don't know how you survived that encounter with that monster at the fair, but you'd better stay away from me. You're the one who got me in trouble with Principal Bump, and I never get in trouble." She walks away.
She's getting on my case for that? Didn't she direct Bump to cut me open? "Well, to be fair, you were okay with him dissecting me."
"You can't be here!" She turns on a heel and cuts me off, as if she didn't have an answer for that. "This covention is for witches only."
"Well, I'm training to be a witch! I'm getting lessons from a powerful witch and a ferocious demon… two ferocious demosn, in fact! We came here today to learn about the coven system."
"Did someone call me ferocious? Good to see you're finally seeing what I truly am, Luz." King speaks as he climbs on my shoulder. Amity looks unimpressed.
"That lame little mutt is your "ferocious" demon?"
"And let me guess, this witch mentor of your wouldn't happen to be the wild nutjob criminal you were shouting to at the fair, right? The one who fell to pieces from one hobo demon?" She gives a smug smile. "Yeah, real winner there." My fists clench on instinct. "Though I guess she's a good pick for you."
"Why are you being so mean, Amity?"
"Because you, your little demon and your mentor give witches-in-training a bad name. Oh, and as we discussed… the school incident?"
"I only intended to help Willow pass. Everything else was an accident!" She crosses her arms, unconvinced. "I'll tell you what, Amity. It's one thing to say I can't be a witch, but it's another to insult and bully my friends. Just like the good witch Azura when facing down her rival Hecate at the bog of immediate regret… I challenge you to a witches du-WUGH!"
"No," Hellboy says as he brings me face to face with him. "You don't." Amity stumbles backward in terror. "Kid, what are you doing? Are you forgetting what your mother wanted?"
"Well, I just.. I wanted to…"
"Where the heck were you, Flathorn?" King asks him.
"That's… on me. Got distracted by something. Not important. What is important is what you were about to do, kid." I rub the back of my head in embarrassment.
"W-wait, hold on!" Amity shouts from the ground. "Didn't he attack you and your mentor? What… what's happening here?!"
"Misunderstanding. Don't worry about it. Just think of me as her bodyguard."
"He's your bodyguard?!" She shouts, even angrier than she was before. "You destroyed my magic fair project I'd been working over a week on!"
"My bad, kid. We had a disagreement that got… a little out of hand."
She glares at me, ignoring Hellboy. "So you're to blame for that too!"
"Amity, it's not like that, it wasn't on purpose-"
"So what, cheating's not enough for you, you have to sabotage another person's work? I was going to show that to a representative from the Emperor's Coven! You… you… fake witch!'"
"Hold on a second…" Hellboy gets between us. "Amity? As in, Amity Blight? As in…" He leans over her, making her scared again. "The girl who nearly got my kid sliced open?"
"Um… well…" Suddenly, she's lost the words.
"Why don't you go on ahead and leave, before I have something to be real angry about?" She backs away, before scurrying off.
I'm just a bit concerned. "You weren't… actually gonna hurt her, were you?"
"I don't hurt kids. But she doesn't know that." He guides me into the other direction. "Besides, she ain't worth it. Don't let her bother you, kid."
"I… guess so."
"Now, maybe let's have a talk about jumping into a problem you can't get back out of?" He gives me a stern look, and I chuckle nervously. "Luz, I'm serious. You could've gotten yourself in serious trouble back there."
"But Amity was being such a jerk! She was saying I could never be a witch, and insulting King and Eda!"
"I'm with her! She was defending my honor!" King protests.
"You stay out of this." Hellboy plucks him off and sets him back on the floor. "Now Luz, how exactly were you gonna stick it to her? By using the one non-combative spell you have that you aren't even allowed to use?"
"I… um… well…" Huh. I guess I forgot I only had the one spell… and that Mom said no magic. "I guess I thought I was taking a risk, like Eda said."
"There's a difference between that and jumping in without a plan. Even if I don't agree with her methods, Snaggletooth did say she thought ahead before she did anything else. The consequences, the rewards, your limits… then she decided to take that chance. Picking a fight with a bully who's had plenty more years of training than you is just reckless."
I sigh, disappointed at the outcome of all this. "And now my Mami's going to know I jumped into something without thinking… again."
Hellboy nudges my shoulder. "Look, Luz, she's probably not going to be happy, but it ain't going to be the nail in the coffin. Let's just keep looking at all the covens, alright? Heard they have a squirrel handling coven, which is… honestly, I got to see it for myself."
"…Okay." Hellboy's right. I mean, now that Amity's avoiding us, the rest of the day should be fine. Right?
Ugh. I can't believe this. I could just scream right now! She just shows up in Bonesborough out of nowhere, and in just a few short meetings she makes my life a nightmare! I was actually having fun today! Then she comes in, acting like she can become a witch so easily? Just like that? On top of that, it turns out that she's the one who caused the fair incident! It's like she's doing everything she can to aggravate me! And just for the cherry on top, she can never watch where she's goi-"Unnh!"
I stumble backward. "Watch where you're going, niiiiiiii-ice witch lady who has every reason to stand there!" It's Lilith. I bumped into Lilith of the Emperor's Coven. And then I yelled at her. Oh, this day can't get any worse. "I'm so sorry, Miss Lilith, I-I-I didn't see that it was you, which is- I mean- It's my fault, I wasn't watching where I was going, it was an accident, honest!"
"Young Miss Blight, please recompose yourself." Lilith… Lilith said my last name.
"Y-…You know me?"
"Of course, Amity. I know all of our most promising students. Especially the most talented at Hexside." I struggle to contain the urge to squeal. Miss Lilith said I was the most talented! "Now, take a deep breath, and tell me what had you so upset you couldn't see two feet in front of you!"
"O-oh, that? It's nothing really, I just had a run in with a troublemaker, I can handle it."
"Amity, a witch must be focused at all time, especially those in the Emperor's coven. Whatever you're upset about, it's clearly bothering you. Distracting you, even."
I wring my hands together nervously. "U-uh, well… there's this human girl I've been… encountering these last two weeks."
Her eyes widen. "Human girl?"
"Yeah! She showed up out of nowhere and started messing with my life. She made a complete mess at Hexside, and got me in trouble! And it turns out, she has a bodyguard. And it's the same guy who tore up the magic fair field the other day!"
"Really?" Her interest in my plight has piqued, as she kneels down to listen further. "I'm imagining then, that you had another run in with her today?"
"Yeah! She comes in, talking about how she's going to be a witch! Like it's that easy! And when I point out that her demon is a tiny runt and that her mentor is a wanted criminal, she arrogantly challenged me to a witch's duel!"
She raises an eyebrow. "And how did this make you upset? I don't believe you are weaker than her… are you?"
"N-no! I just… her bodyguard came by, stopped her from challenging me and scared me. I would've trounced her otherwise."
Lilith gives me a smile. It… doesn't look like a comforting smile. But it must mean she's about to help me, doesn't it? "Did this human girl say if her mentor was here?"
"Yeah. She said she came with her today to learn about covens. Why?"
Lilith stands and turns her back to me. "I understand your anger completely, Amity. You wanted to show this girl how hard it was to be a witch." She peers back at me. "Don't you worry. You'll have your witch's duel."
My face lights up at the sound of that. "Really?"
"Of course. I know this human's mentor quite well. I must confide in you… she is my sister." …Whoa. The Owl Lady is Captain Lilith's sister? She must be so disappointed in her… "Though we may be enemies, I'm sure we can both pull strings to set something up. You can show the coven members and I just what you're made of."
I can't help but give a wide smile. "Yes!" I shout. "Uh, I mean, thank you, Miss Lilith."
"Of course, Miss Blight. Just wait near the entrance of the arena. We'll give the Covention a performance they won't forget."
After leaving young Miss Blight, I quickly put a call on my scroll, having all guards and coven members watch the exits. Hopefully, she hasn't made it out of the center yet.
The stars couldn't have aligned sooner. My sister, making the mistake of coming to an event filled with guards, alongside the only one besides me and Belos capable of taking her on. Never has a better opportunity come to pass. Of course, there's no way she won't try to fight her way out. I have to reel her in. I'll also have to find a way to keep the human girl safe, else Hellboy not be happy.
I get a message that she's been stopped at the cooking covens, and quickly teleport there. I find her in a rather lame disguise, a hood containing her massive hair. Did she really think she could make it past the guards in such a lame disguise? Does she really believe them to be that idiotic? …I'll… not answer myself on that one and just be glad a coven member stopped her.
"Will you guys just step out of the way before I set you on fire?"
"Not a chance, Owl Lady."
"Then I guess we're going to find out if you remember to stop, drop and roll."
Perhaps it's time for me to step in. "Now, sister, surely you aren't planning to leave so soon?" Eda turns to glare at me. "I'll take it from here. Why don't the rest of you watch for any other undesirables?" As they leave, I feel I must humor a possibility. "I don't suppose you're here to join the emperor's coven, are you?"
She snorts. "In your dreams."
I scoff. "Still so arrogant about being covenless, sister. You think you're better than us, but while you ransack garbage and run from the law, I train the next generation of witch students for the Isles."
She waves me off, "Big deal. I've got a student of my own now. Soon, she'll wipe the floor with any of yours."
"So I've heard. The human, right? She's been causing quite the ruckus all over. She sounds like nothing more than a troublemaker."
As always, my sister gets riled up when people challenge her. She can't say no to a fight. "Wouldn't you like to think so?"
"Perhaps then, you would like to prove your statement? A witch's duel between your student and mine."
"I'd take that bet." I've got her now. "…But I'm not. I 'm having a disagreement with her "guardian". But rest assured, she'll be running circles around your students soon enough." She says, slinking away.
"…What?! But you never turn down a challenge to your pride!"
"Yeah, well there's a first time for everything. See ya, sis."
She continues walking away. I need to think of something fast! How do I get her little delinquent to fight my prodigy?
"Oh Eda, I was going to offer you a pardon just for today, but it looks like you're forcing my hand." She looks at me in curiosity. "Let me put it this way- either you accept this witch's duel or I have you arrested…" She snorts again. "As well as your human protégé." That wipes the smile off her face.
"Well, she did initiate a prison break and caused chaos at Hexside, I think I have a pretty good reason to do so." I giv her a sly grin. "However, if you accept the duel, then our conditions will be such- should you lose, you will come with us to be imprisoned willfully. Should you win, I will let all of you walk out of here today without even a scratch."
Eda scowls at me as I give my ultimatum. "And what's stopping me from blasting my way out?"
"From what I can tell, you're new roommate wouldn't like you putting the girl in danger." She widens her eyes in surprise. "Oh yes, I know about your new friend. I imagine he wouldn't be happy with you."
She stomps her foot in the ground. "Fine, Lilith. You want to play with fire? I'll make sure you get burned." She stomps away.
Everything's coming together. I must say… clever of Hellboy to convince her to come to this event. Once he hears the terms, he'll realize what I have planned. Lure her into the arena, have the girl forfeit to "fulfill" the conditions, then help me take down my sister together. The girl is unhurt, and I can finally cure my stubborn sister.
I can't imagine how happy he must be that I noticed his opportunity.
"Ah, crap." Nice to know Trenchcoat is taking the news well.
"Yep. And I actually tried to back off this time."
Luz is pacing around in a panic. "She's gonna kill me! She's gonna kill me all the way dead!"
Trenchcoat pinches the bridge of his nose. "Didn't think she'd pull something like this…"
Now that's an interesting statement to make. "What do you mean you didn't think she'd pull something like this?"
He sighs. "When I met your sister yesterday, I pulled this little charade to get info out of her. Told her I was planning to fight you again and capture you for the guards."
Luz's head snaps in his direction, eyes filled with worry. "You… you weren't actually planning on doing it, were you?"
He shakes his arms. "I may not like her, but you do. I couldn't do that to you, kid. In any case, I guess she thought I planned this, or something." He rubs his head. "But man, that woman being your sister... it explains a few things."
"We could fight our way out…" I suggest. "But there's a hell of a lot more guards here than usual. Belos must've amped up security after the fair got trashed."
He sees where I'm going with this. "And Luz could get hurt in the struggle. But we can't let her fight. She could get hurt then too."
He's right. There's only one way to do this without putting her in danger. "Then I guess we forfeit."
"What?!" Luz exclaims. Hellboy looks at me in surprise. "But, Eda-"
"We'll have still accepted the duel. It just means the Luz will technically have lost. You can take her to safety, and then I can fight the guards myself. I should be fine."
"No." Hellboy states immediately.
"It's not like you can jump in to help me, Flathorn. You'll render the bet null and she'll arrest Luz anyway. Besides, I imagine you'll be overjoyed to have me gone."
"No." He reiterates with force. "I may not agree with your choices, but you took care of the kid and taught her some important things. And it's not like you aggravate me enough to just leave you to the dogs. We're finding a way that gets all of us out of here."
I stare at him in shock, before giving a faint chuckle. "Heh. Want to keep Luz happy that badly, eh?"
"That's just a perk." He ruffles Luz's hair, who smiles back up at him. "There's got to be something we can take advantage of."
"Not much. Luz only has the one spell, and her opponent, well…" I look over to her as she shows off her skills, summoning a small abomination. "She won't even need to lift a finger. Her creation will do all the work."
"It looks smaller than before…" Luz notes.
"Her nerves might be messing up her focus. We can't expect it to be that small in the arena." I explain.
"Her creation…" Trenchcoat mutters. "What if Luz didn't have to lift a finger either?"
I give him a strange look. Does he mean… "I get ya. Magic mines!"
"What? No!" He pulls his "walker talker" thing out. "I mean, Luz may not know a lot of spells… but she's got a pretty good creation of her own at home." Luz looks at him in confusion.
At home? …Ahhh. Pretty clever, Hellboy. "I like the way you think, Trenchcoat."
While Eda went to her sister to "discuss" a different type of witch's duel, Hellboy called Roger on his walkie. He was here within a half hour. The plan is that we pretend I created him, and he'll fight Amity's abomination. However, to avert Lilith's suspicions… I have to be the one to give Roger orders. He can't do literally anything unless I tell him to.
You know, I 've been the center of attention before. And just like all the other times, it's a nightmare. But at least those times all that was at stake was a scolding and maybe a detention. Now? Either Roger wins while pretending to be a Homunculus I didn't actually make, or Eda gets arrested. I may not be the one getting my hands dirty, but that doesn't make me feel any better.
"Eda, I don't know about this…"
"We don't have much of a choice, Luz. They aren't gonna let us go unless we win. So, we need to do whatever it takes to win." She pats Roger on the shoulder, as if I didn't make the connection.
"I don't like it any more than you kid, but Snaggletooth's right." Hellboy says as he eyes around the stadium. "We're not exactly in a position to bargain. Well… we probably could let our fists do the talking, but that puts you in danger. So, if they're gonna offer us a way out that keeps you from getting hurt, I'm all for it."
"But… isn't this cheating? Pretending Roger is something I made?" The homunculus himself is just standing there with a smile on his face. He's being covered by a cloak, so people don't see what he really is.
"If the situation were different, I would agree that it's underhanded. But Lilith forced you into a duel she thought you couldn't win. If she wants to play like that, we will too." He places a hand on my shoulder. "Trust me, kid. It happens a lot on the job. Doesn't mean you have to like it, though."
"Yeah, but… what about Amity? This isn't really going to be fair to her." Sure, she's a jerk. But it doesn't feel right to win like this against her.
Eda snorted in amusement. "Oh, come on, Luz. The kid loses one lousy match, so what? Unlike certain people here, it's not the end of the world for her."
"I mean, I guess… but we're just transferring the danger to Roger! Is he really okay with this?"
Roger gave an "ok" sign. "I'll be fine, Luz. I've already been in plenty of scraps before, so this one shouldn't be too bad." I rub the back of my head. I just can't shake this bad feeling in my gut.
"Hey, it was either this, or I could've planted magic mines everywhere, but Trenchcoat made a stink about that." Eda noted with a tinge of annoyance.
Hellboy groaned. "Yeah, take her out of danger and put her in more danger. Real smart backup plan."
"Well, I thought it was a pretty good idea." The conversation is put on hold as Lilith and Amity enter the arena. The people begin cheering as they take the stage, both looking very high and mighty.
"Beloved citizens! The Emperor's Coven proudly presents an impromptu demonstration of the sort of witch we seek every year! Introducing, Amity Blight!" The crowd cheer even harder as Amity steps forward, a big smug grin on her face. Lilith then gestures toward me. "Versus… some human girl." I can hear the people in the stands murmuring to themselves and each other, either deriding me or reinforcing their praise for Amity. "However," Lilith began again, the crowd silencing itself. "this match will not be your standard witch's duel. Today, we pit Miss Blight's skills as an abomination wielder to the test against that of an alchemist!" She gives a quick confused glance to Hellboy- probably because she still believes his charade. More murmurs from the crowd, questioning what she meant. "This random human girl will bring to the table… a Homunculus." She gestures to us again.
It takes me a second to realize she's signaling me to bring forth "my creation". "Oh! Uh, r-right." I clear my throat. "Um… Homunculus. R-rise? No, uh… stand by for battle… yeah!"
Despite the awkward command, Roger steps forward, then throws off his cloak. The crowd suddenly gasp in astonishment. Amity actually loses composure a little, staring at Roger with worry. "Th… that's her Homunculus?" Was it really that impressive? Then again, Eda did say he was bigger than the average Homunculus…
Lilith places a firm hand on her apprentice's shoulder, but it looks firmer and stricter. Amity takes a deep breath before drawing a spell circle. "Abomination, rise!" The purple circle flashes on the floor, and from it comes forth her creature… and it's looking particularly larger than before… like, over twice the size Roger.
"Waagh!" I can't help but yell in surprise. The thing towers over Roger, who looks at it with a rather undeterred expression. Man, guess he wasn't kidding about being in worse situations.
Amity looks at it in surprise, before smiling a rather sinister smile. "Oh ho ho, yeah… let's see if your homunculus can take this, human." Lilith barely reacts, as if she expected this.
"That's… a lot bigger than what she was pulling off outside…" Hellboy says, rather incredulously, He almost sounds suspicious.
"Yeah…" Eda says in the same tone. "Guess that's Lilith's prodigy for ya." She doesn't sound convinced on that.
I don't really have time to dwell on what their problem is with it, considering now her Abomination can eat Roger in a single bite. "Oh gosh… now I'm really not sure I can let him do this!" I whisper yell, my knees shaking.
Hellboy kneels down next to me. "Easy, kid. Easy. Roger can handle that thing no problem. You just need to guide him."
"But that thing is huge! And what do I even tell him? "Punch It"? "Punch it harder"?"
He shakes his head. "Listen, Luz. I've been in plenty of fights where brute force alone didn't win. Lots of guys hit harder than I can. At those points, you gotta pay attention to what you can do… and what your opponent can do. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are yours? What's around you? What's the terrain? The more you find out, the better chance you have of winning."
"But even if find that out … what if I can't use it to my advantage? If I lose, Eda's going to be taken away, and…"
Eda kneels down on my other side, her smile as confident as ever. "Listen, Luz, just remember what I said this morning. Sometimes, you've just got to jump in and take those risks."
"…O-okay. Here goes nothing I guess." I step forward with Roger, as Amity does the same with her abomination. I wave nervously at her. She cracks her knuckles to… to… actually, I don't know why she's doing that, her abomination is doing everything… Oh wait, I get it! Intimidation! …Yeah, it's working.
The bell rings (or rather, screams), signaling the start of the match. "Abomination, attack the homunculus!" Amity shouts, and it begins lumbering over. "Show me what you got, human!"
As the abomination closes in, I realize Roger hasn't moved… because I haven't given him an order. "Uh, Homuculus! Attack as well!" Yeah. That works.
Roger charges towards the abomination and delivers a swift powerful punch to its gut. He pierces its stomach… which ends up doing nothing, his fist sinking into the mass of goo. The monster barely takes notice, preparing to slam down on Roger with his arms.
"Gah! Get out of there!" I shout, prompting Roger to tear his hand free. He jumps back just as the monster brings its arms down, dust flying from the impact. Roger pauses, waiting for another order. But what do I tell him? He can't even punch the thing. I clasp my head in fear. "Run!"
Roger quickly moves away from the creature, forcing it to stumble after him. However, as he runs, I notice the thing grasping the sides of its face. With effort, it unscrewed its own head and threw it at Roger. I barely had time to shout something to him.
"DODGE!" As Roger looked at me in surprise before being hit by the mass of slime, it occurred to me that saying 'dodge' distracted him more than anything.
It didn't seem to hurt him. He simply got up and started shaking off the mess. "Tastes like… grape jelly and mustard." He muttered at a volume only I could hear.
A booming step redirects my attention back at the abomination, reeling from its throw. Well… at least it didn't have its head now.
As if I jinxed it, the thing's head began to grow back, making a mindless groan in the process. "Brulurgghhhh…" Soon, its three eyes are staring at Roger again, and it begins to lumber over once more. I get caught again in my own thoughts, wondering how I can beat this thing. It can't be punched, it probably doesn't feel pain anyway and worst of all, it can regenerate!
All that time in my thoughts gives it a chance to close the distance, cornering my homunculus friend on one side of the stadium. As the abomination raises one of its arms to attack, I figure all I can really do is keep having Roger run. "Watch out for its arms!"
Roger prepares himself, keeping his eyes on its arm. Once the monster brings it down, Roger easily sidesteps it. It winds up its other arm, attempting to swipe at him from the side. But again, Roger quickly backsteps from it, barely needing to move. It catches nothing but air.
"Geez, that thing is slow…" I realize what I just said right after it comes out of my mouth. It's bigger than Roger… but it's also slower. "Rog- Homunculus, dive between its legs!"
Roger shoots underneath the abomination. Unable to comprehend quickly enough, it catches nothing but air again. The abomination bends in an unnatural way to look between its legs, leaving itself wide open. "That's it! Take out its head!"
Roger punches at it again. However, instead of punching through it, he delivers rapid swipes in a way that creates a big gash in the side of its head. Before the creature can grow it back, Roger delivers a strong punch that blows its head away, splattering it against the wall.
Its head starts regrowing back as it untwists its body. I knew that was coming… better back off for now. "Get some space between you and it!" Roger runs off again. Ok, so it's slow, and… rather stupid, if that last blunder was any indication. But it can still regenerate, and it can't be fought directly. It has to be weathered down.
Amity chuckles. "You're wasting your time, human. I'm the best abomination user in school. And you're about to see why. Abomination, grab the homunculus and don't let go!"
I ignore her jeers and focus on her creature. It stumbles a bit, before trudging towards Roger again, its arms outstretched. Huh… seems to be rather clumsy. Then again, it's pretty much a pile of living wet clay. Stable enough to stand, sure, but it still doesn't have bones. That's why it's having such a hard time grabbing Roger… "Homunculus, dig up a stone from the arena and throw it at the abomination's leg. But don't get grabbed!"
Roger punched the ground, causing a sufficient crack, breaking out a decent sized rock… just as the monster is on top of him. He dives away as it reaches for him, throwing the rock once he emerges from the roll. He hits the leg with enough strength to take it out. Without the stability, the creature falls over, splatting into a big pile of grime.
"Yes!" I shout in joy.
"Don't get ahead of yourself!" Amity yells from across the way. She still has a confident stance, but she seems to be getting irritated. "I already told you you're just inconveniencing me. This duel's far from over." She snaps her fingers, causing the abomination to reassemble. "I'll show you just how outclassed you are."
"We'll see about that." I look to Roger, determined. He gives a subtle nod to me before looking back at Amity's monster. War of attrition, here we go…
As Luz commanded Roger against Lilith's prodigy, Trenchcoat and I were having a conversation of our own. "Yeah. There's definitely some funny business going on here."
"I mean, that was obvious the moment that thing came out a giant. Wouldn't mind hearing the other telltale signs, though." Trenchcoat so graciously requests of me.
"Well, the large size could be possible for a witch in training, but she definitely wouldn't be able to keep regenerating it like that." I bump my chest with my fist, something he notices. "Abominations and their "life forces" are connected to a user's bile gland. It can only grow and stay stable as long as there's magic in the tank. You get me?" Flathorn nods in response, taking in the explanation.
King interrupts me and takes over. "Oh, I know this one! Like any non-magical organ, a bile gland starts out weak, getting stronger with age. At her age, she could probably summon a big abomination like that, but she wouldn't be able to keep it going for long. Especially not after the big hits it's been taking. Honestly, your buddy could probably take it down easily on his own…"
"So, someone's giving her more power?" Trenchcoat questions.
I clamp King's mouth shut. "More power… but not more control. Minus the size, that one's pretty good for a kid her age, pretty stable. But it's also typical for a rookie." I subtly gesture at the abomination as it moves. Lilith seems to be entirely focused on the Homunculus. "Slow, inept, and unable to morph its way out of a paper bag. Professional abomination users would certainly have a stronger creation that moves faster and nimbler than that. It would also be far more amorphous. And while they don't get too much smarter, they can think quicker… that one probably can't follow complicated commands."
King finally pries his mouth from my hand. "Ugh. Have you been eating Hex Mix again?"
"I get it. Her magic's been given a huge boost, but that can't compensate for her skill." He's already lit a cigarette for himself. "So… I'll take it even a newbie like me could guess it's one of those power glyphs."
"You'd be right, newbie." King replied.
"Hmph." Trenchcoat grunts, not biting back at him. Guess he thought now wasn't a good time. "So, the girl snatches a glyph because she thinks she can't win?" He seems to be wanting to confirm.
I review the answer quickly in my head. "Eh… no. She seemed pretty surprised at her own potential. And I can't imagine the Construction users wanted to keep the glyphs out after that "incident"."
"So, the only one who could get to them at that point, would be the same one who didn't react when her protégé pulled out a massive mud monster." He looks at me directly. "Thought you said she would play by the rules."
"I thought she would. And you thought she wouldn't put Luz in danger. Clearly, my sister's grown a bit more underhanded in recent years."
The both of us watch as Roger continues to fight, being led by Luz's increasingly smarter plays. The Blight girl has stepped up her game, as her abomination manages to grab or hit him every now and then. But he's not down for long before he deals the blows right back.
Trenchcoat hums in thought. "So, should we call 'em out about now? The Kid's starting to do pretty good."
King agreed, watching the fight with great intensity. "Yeah, I want to see her humiliate the green haired girl. She called me lame!"
"Oh, you can take it one little insult. But yeah, she's learning to adapt rather well, and she's even getting pretty confident in her decisions. Let's wait just a tad longer. Still, we'll have to out them in a way that Lilith can't turn around back on us." I give a quick nudge to Owlbert, who unscrews himself from my staff. He hops into the stands while Lilith isn't looking, slowly darting into position behind them. "I don't see the glyph on any of her visible parts… so there's only one open space of skin it could be on. I'll have Owlbert move to a vantage point and look through his eyes. Once we're ready, I'll bust them."
Man, Lilith was such an amateur.
"Yeah, go Luz!"
"You can beat her!"
"Take her down, Luz!"
I smile as I hear King, Willow and Gus' voices cheering me on. I might not be as popular as Amity, but I've got all the support I need.
"Yeah, go human!" I jolt in surprise as I hear an unfamiliar voice. One of the kids from the school is also cheering me on, and a few others join in.
"She's more awesome than I thought!"
"Never thought I'd see a human beat Amity!"
I didn't expect the praise from the other audience members. It actually feels… really good.
"Ugh!" I turn back around, met with a fuming Amity. "I am NOT being embarrassed by you again! Get ready, human! I'm ending this now!" She points her finger at her abomination, which I unfortunately let get close to Roger, and it slams its fist into him. He skids across the ground, not too damaged by the punch. Things have been going alright so far, but that thing doesn't seem to letting up anytime soon. But neither is Roger.
It's strange. I thought that thing might be able to knock out Roger in a few hits, but he's barely fazed. It must not be as strong as it appears. Or maybe Roger's tougher than he looks.
The subtler thing I notice is what's happening to Amity's abomination. It almost looks… smaller? Yeah, it is! Before, it was taller than the arena walls. Now it was a few inches lower than them. Every time Roger smashes it, it gets smaller! And the smaller it gets, the more manageable it becomes. We just need to keep going! "Homunculus! Grab the rock from earlier and move to the center of the arena!" He darts to grab it, careful not to be caught by the monster.
"What are you up to?" Amity pried at me. I kept my mouth shut, not wanting her to catch on.
As her abomination followed, Roger got ready with the rock. "Now, behead him my creation!" I only somewhat notice I'm starting to get dramatic. Roger launches the rock into the abomination's face, scattering it into tiny bits. "Yes! Now sweep him off his feet!"
Roger smiled for a split second before getting back into character, running like a freight train into the abomination's leg. Taking out its balance again, it falls into a heap. Amity was clenching her fists, becoming increasingly angry. "Would you cut it out?! This isn't a joke!"
"Oh, I am very serious Amity Blight! My homunculus shan't fall here to your mud monster! Bring on your best! My creation can keep going till yours is but mush!" More of the crowd cheered at the showmanship.
"Yeah, but I can't." Eda stated, stepping into the battle zone, King jumping off her shoulder.
"Ah, man, I was starting to enjoy that!" He protests.
"Yeah, well I can't take that flowery crap. So, I think I'll bring things to an end." She's… ending things? "It's funny you think you can slip rookie tricks past me. I am the master, after all."
"W-what are you insinuating, Eda?" Lilith suddenly got nervous.
Eda snorted. "Oh please, sis. The evidence was practically breathing down my neck. Or rather… hers." She points to Amity, who looks at her in confusion. "Why don't you lift the back of your hair and show the crowd?"
"My hair?" Amity does so, seemingly more out of reflex.
Almost immediately, someone from the audience shouts out angrily. "Hey, that's one of our power glyphs!"
"What?!" Amity shouts in surprise. She peels off one of the glyphs I saw from earlier, looking at it in shock. Her abomination shrank almost immediately. Now Roger towered over it. "W-w-wait- I didn't- this isn't-"
"She's a dirty cheater!"
"She was scared of the human!"
"How could Amity delve to such a thing?!"
"No! I didn't know! I… I didn't…" She begins to shrink herself, taking poorly to the jeers.
"Yep, that's right." Eda shouts over the crowd. "My goody two shoes sister rigged the witch's duel. I mean, come on! Even if this girl is a prodigy, she's still a rookie! There's no way she could summon such an efficient abomination! But man, can you believe it? The emperor's right hand so unsure she'd win, she cheated. Amazing, isn't it?"
Lilith huffs out loudly. "I only did it because I knew you would cheat!"
"Oh really? You got proof?" King challenged her, only to slightly cower when she leered at him.
I can imagine she only wants to embarrass her sister… but it's having a worse effect on Amity. Her thoughts are coming out of her mouth, unheard by the crowd… but I can hear her. "No, no, no, I didn't want to win like this… not in front of my dream coven…" She sounds so scared. So… distraught. She… she didn't mean to cheat. But… I did. "If she doesn't trust in me… how can I…" Tears start forming in her eyes.
…I'm sorry, Hellboy, Eda. I can't do this.
The stadium goes silent, all focused on me. I take a deep breath… and admit the truth. "This isn't my homunculus." The entire audience gasps, even more astonished than before. "He's a free homunculus who wanted to help me. His name is Roger." The crowd begin to murmur louder. "Lilith probably used that glyph because she knew we were already planning something ourselves."
"I knew it! You did cheat!" Lilith began to speak in a mocking tone. "I mean, come on! A human girl who knows how to create a stable homunculus that's larger than the average? I knew she couldn't have made it!"
Eda's face is still smug. "Eh. You still cheated."
"Are you kidding me?!" She shouts in pure ire. "I caught you cheating! That means you lose by default! You'll have to come with me!"
"Prissy, perfect Lilith cheated!" Eda kept going, making her sister angrier.
"Ugh! You are such a child!"
"Uh oh." King tugs at my arm. "I think we should make a break for it, Luz. When those two get going, things get messy."
I ignore the sister's spat for now to look back at Amity, knowing full well she'll rub it in my face. To my shock, she just looks at me in full disgust, before running off. I thought for sure she'd…
"Hey, kid." Hellboy comes up from behind me, Roger joining us. "I respect your integrity. But it looks like we're going to have to think of an escape route."
I look back at the door Amity ran through. "Right. Uh… Hey, Hellboy? I'm sorry."
"Hey, like I said, Luz. Don't worry about it."
"Not for that."
He raises an eyebrow at me. "Then what are you…?"
"There's still one more risk I need to take."
Luz suddenly rushes off, before any of us can react. "Whoa, kid, wai-OOF!" Hellboy yells for her, running after her… only to trip over poor King.
"Ow! Watch it, Flathead!"
"Now's not the time dog bone! Come on, we've got to get her before she goes too far!" He picks the small demon up and runs off. "Roger, keep an eye on the witch! We're leaving soon!"
"Can do." I wave as he runs off. Still, it just seems like they're having a spat. What trouble could that cause?
"OHH, THAT'S IT!"
A sudden shockwave washes over me, as the air suddenly gets warmer.
"There she is."
I turn to see the sisters shooting blasts of fire at each other, effectively making me eat my words.
"Witch's Duel!" Someone shouts from the audience.
Well… I guess each family is different.
I sit there in the darkness, letting my tears run freely. I've already been humiliated enough today, so I'd rather anyone not see this. Not that hiding really matters at this point, I guess. There doesn't seem to be many people left. The Covention hall is rather empty, everyone either watching whatever's causing the explosions in the arena or leaving after scouting out their preferred covens.
"Amity!" …Can she not even leave me alone even now? "I'm sorry."
"Seriously? After everything that's happened, you expect me to forgive you? Just leave me alone!" But she remains there, not even taking a step from that spot.
"I never meant to embarrass you."
"That's all you ever do! First at school, then the fair, and now this!" I get up and look her in the eyes. "Even if you were telling the truth about the other two events, you still humiliated me. And today, you made me look like a fool in front of the Emperor's Coven. My future!" I stress as I gesture to her, hoping it gets through her head just how much this meant to me. "You think it's so easy to be a witch! Treating it like a game and acting like it's just some hobby you can pick up. I've been working my whole life to get to the top! Joining the Emperor's Coven is all I ha-" I correct myself quickly. "It's all I ever wanted." I furiously point at her. "If you're actually sorry, then I want to hear you admit it. You cheated. You lost! Say you're not a witch. Say it!"
"I'm not a witch." She says without hesitation. But what she does next catches me off guard. She proceeds to kneel down, taking out a notepad. As I kneel down to see what she's trying to show me, I watch as she draws a symbol on it, before tapping it. The paper crinkles and becomes a small light… and she stares at it, a look of pride and accomplishment… and then shows it to me. Her face reads as if she's wanted nothing more than to show me what she's achieved. "But I'm training hard to be one."
It's… a look I know all too well.
I keep my distance as Eda and her sister fight. Though I'd like to help, I feel I might just get in the way. Besides, it's a good chance to see what full-fledged witches can do.
Lilith attempts to launch her fire blasts, only for them to be blocked by stone owls that Eda summons from the ground which proceeds to attack Lilith.
"If you would just turn yourself in, I could help you!" Lilith shouts from one side. "All you had to do was forfeit the match!" She dodges several smaller owls, before throwing her enflamed staff at Eda.
Eda blocks it easily with a shield. "I keep telling you Lilith, I don't want anything that antler head has to offer. Not even his help!" Just as it seems Lilith will break through, the owl on Eda's staff flies off and attacks her, distracting her long enough for Eda to summon one last owl. It swallows her whole. "You can work for him all you want, but I'm staying free and wild, thank you."
Before Eda and I can react, both of us notice a hole burned through the stone. I'm too late to intercept her as Lilith teleports behind Eda, hitting her with a hard blast. "We'll see about that, sister."
This isn't good. I could attack her, but I don't know if she'll sick the guards and coven members on us if I do. I need to distract her somehow.
"This is for your own good, Eda. The curse is catching up with you."
Eda sighs in resignation. "I guess it is. But I'm still not accepting Belos as my leader."
Lilith looks at her in concern. "Eda, there's no telling how much time might be left. This could be the last time we see each other. I just want to help you."
"You know…" I speak up, catching her attention. "You really don't listen to your sister."
"This doesn't concern you, homunculus. I suggest you leave while you can."
"You think your way is best, that Eda only needs to do what you say to be happy. You don't even bother to see her side of things."
She scoffs at me. "Are you lecturing me? You know nothing about our lives!"
"I've seen enough to know you're a bad sister."
"How dare you!" She slams her staff down, another shockwave filling the arena. "You're just a pile of living human fat! What would you know about family?!"
"More than you might think. But that's a story you don't have time for." I pause, and smile at her. "You have a flight to catch."
"What are you babbli-eeeeEEEEEEEEN!" Lilith screams as one more owl head shots out rapidly from beneath her, launching her into the stands.
"Nice going there, big guy." Eda says as she runs past me.
I catch up to her quickly. "I tried to make a funny comment like Hellboy does. Do you think I pulled it off?"
"Eh, it was alright. If you want real funny, you should learn from a comedy master like me."
I stare at the ball of light, mesmerized by it. It takes me moment to remember it's a rather low level spell. "T-that's nothing… a child could do a light spell." I turn away, and she puts the light out, slightly dejected. "But… I've never seen it cast like that before."
She brightens slightly at that. "It doesn't come naturally to me, like it does for you. So, I've had to improvise."
I guess that makes sense. But there's still one thing I don't get. "Then… why cheat today?"
"Lilith forced us into that. Either she arrests Eda and I, or I fight in a witches duel. One she knew I wouldn't win, so she could have Eda arrested anyway." She puts her notepad back in her pocket. "My mom wants me as far from danger as possible, so Hellboy and Eda had Roger fight for me instead. We just wanted to get out of this place without causing trouble."
"But then why out yourself?"
"…Because I couldn't stand to see you nearly break down like that." She admits, stunning me silent. "You were right. You worked hard to impress Lilith and the Emperor's Coven. I didn't want you thinking it was for nothing."
I look at her, scrutinizing her for any sign of a bluff. But she seems to be telling the truth.
I can't process all this at the moment. With everything that's happened today… I need some time to think this over. I get up to leave. "Weird glyphs aside, I don't know if you can learn magic. But I guess that won't stop you from trying." She doesn't speak or try to follow me again. I guess she's content with that.
As I leave the covention… I can't seem to stop thinking about her and that little light. Luz Noceda… such a weird girl.
I watch as the Blight kid walks off, and soon after the dog bone darts up to Luz, commenting about her leaving him. We had actually found them pretty quickly. This time though, I felt like the kid had the situation covered, so I didn't step in. I smile to myself. Good to know something came out of this day gone badly. Kid probably did the hardest thing anyone could ever do- make peace with an enemy. Even I have trouble doing that. My temper often gets the better of me.
I don't quite notice green hair walking past me until she's right next to me. Better follow up on this real quick… "Hey. Kid." She tenses for a moment before turning to face me. "Take it easy. Just wanna know… this mean you'll leave her alone?"
She pauses. I think she's just a bit scared of me, is all. "I… won't antagonize her, if that's what you mean. As long as she doesn't bother me."
"…Fair enough." I only say. She continues to walk out the center, relaxing a bit.
However, even though I'm done with her, something else catches my eye as she goes out the door. That damn mask. The gas masked figure from before is peering out from a gap in the stalls. He's gazing down our way, giving off creepy vibes. It's kinda pissing me off. There's that saying that once is happenstance, and two is coincidence, but three times is enemy action. I think it's time I found out what this guy's problem is.
"Hey, Hellboy!" I look away as Luz comes up to me with King on her shoulder. "I'm ready to go when you are!" My eyes dart back. But he's gone. No trace of him anywhere. And I don't have the time to go hunting him down. "Uh… something wrong?"
"…No." I narrow my eyes at the empty space. "It's nothing."
"H'okay, Flathead. If you're done being all eerie, can we go fetch Eda and your big gray friend?"
"Ain't no need for that." The witch appears behind the three of us, Roger in tow. "We gave Lilly the slip. Now, we should probably get out here before she can organize the guards."
"You guys go on ahead." I tear a nearby metal support pole from its place, causing the stand to fall down. "I need to have one last little talk with your sister."
Snaggletooth gives a small shrug. "Knock yourself out. Come on, Luz."
"Wait, Eda, I wanted to ask you something…" Luz begins. I walk out of earshot at that point, but she says something about being a "true witch". Admittedly, Snaggletooth has more knowledge in that, so I'll leave it to her and find out what she tells Luz later.
With some backtracking, it doesn't take me long to find the gothic captain, standing at the entrance to the arena. She's yelling at one of the other coven members to mobilize. I think I'll get her attention.
As the pole embeds itself into the wall right in front of her face, she stands there a bit stunned for a moment. Slowly, she turns to scowl at me.
"Damn. Guess my aim isn't just bad with guns." I say nonchalantly as I pull my gun out, staring her down right back. "I was aiming for your head. Thought it might come off like your sister's."
"Really? You're mad at me? I should be the one throwing fireballs at you! I had her and all you needed to do was forfeit and help me detain her!"
"Maybe. But you're first mistake was assuming I was bringing her here to get captured."
"Is that not why you came to an event crawling with guards while the human was in arm's reach of you?"
"She and I both came here because the kid wanted to come. Not my fault you saw signals that weren't there." I point accusingly at her. "Not to mention, you had no idea if she wasn't going to fight her way out. The kid could've gotten hurt in that kind of blowout."
"So then both you and I could've detained her. "
"Except that still puts the girl in danger." I raise my clenched stone fist. "When I said I wanted her unharmed, I felt you had the brain power to know that meant "out of harm's way". On top of that, you pull underhanded crap like forcing us into a no-win duel and cheat using that power glyph. Nice going there, by the way. Real confidence booster for your student."
"I had a perfectly good reason, and her impressions on our coven have not changed, if that's what she is afraid of." Feels like she's missing the point. She slowly summons her staff. "Am I to assume you see me as an enemy, then?"
I point my Good Samaritan at her, and she readies her staff. I get a bit of déjà vu in the staredown…
I put my gun back in cloak. "Nah. That'll just cause trouble for me. But you're on your own trying to catch your sister. I won't get in your way. Seems like she can handle herself. But if you put Luz in danger again… we're gonna have problems." Even if I wasn't actually going to do it, I feel it's time to break off that "deal".
She lowers her staff. She doesn't look too happy to hear that, but she's not angry. "…Very well. But know, the moment you do truly side with her, you will all be on the chopping block."
"Miss Lilith." Another coven member walks up to her. "A call from Kikimora."
She curses under her breath. "Take your leave, Hellboy. I have important matters to attend to."
Sounds like she's in a bit of a bind. Can't imagine this incident going down well with her boss. Unfortunately, my situation isn't much better. Camilia's probably not going to like how today went.
"You told me she would be safe."
"You told me the local guard would not target my daughter.
"I know. I'm sorry."
Luz's mom sighs as she chews out Trenchcoat, rubbing her face. "I forgive you, Hellboy. But being coerced into a competition she should not have been in, and a bully on top of all that? From what you've told me, this second day almost ended in disaster." She stirs her tea out of habit.
I scoff. Lilith isn't the only amateur I've seen today, it seems. "Ah, you're not gonna let one little run in with the law scare you away, are ya?"
"Says the most wanted criminal on the Isles." She quickly snips.
"You know it." I say with full smarm, giving her a wink.
She rolls her eyes and continues conversing with Hellboy and Kate. "I'm glad that it was not all bad. She seems to have taken care of her bully problem… for now, at least. And it's good to know her sense of honesty is in one piece, despite the circumstances."
Really? The circumstances? "Look, I get you don't like me, but it was necessary to cheat the way we did to keep her from fighting directly."
She rolls her eyes. "I understand that objectively, it needed to be done. I'm not so huffy that I can't see the practicality of it in this case. I'm simply happy that Luz remembers her morals. Can a mother not be proud of her daughter for the simple things?"
"I just feel like you're not giving the other positives enough credit. The kid gets pushed into a situation she couldn't plan for, took some leaps, and landed on her feet for the most part. She even came out with some life lessons. The whole honesty junk, adapting to situations as they happen, becoming your own witch, and learning to bury the hatchet in the ground instead of someone's face!" Though that certainly would've been interesting, I think for a moment.
She stirs her drink faster, a slight bit of irritation in her voice. "My problem is more with the fact that your notoriety is what got her into trouble in the first place. If even Hellboy and his fellow agents can't guarantee her safety because of your record, how can I feel confident in her staying here?"
"Look, you're upset that we got in trouble because of me, I get it. But we took every chance to keep her as far from danger as possible. We accepted the duel straight away because that meant she would be okay. Not to mention, Flathorn here reiterated his point with my sister. The guard won't lay a finger on her from this point!" She doesn't seem very convinced. I don't like the idea of what I'm going to suggest, but if it'll calm her down… "Okay… if I talk with my sister myself, will that be enough? She might not want to do me any favors anytime soon, but I have more than my share of good arguments to use against her."
She stops stirring and looks at me intently. The ticking of my clock nearby is loud and clear as she reads my face. "Fine. One more chance. But if I find out she has a bounty on her, that's the end of it. Am I clear to everyone?" She looks back at Trenchcoat.
He gives a quick nod of confirmation. "Other than that, on the learning side of things today," He took out a notepad and slides it to Camila. "This magic is capable of a lot, from baking to summoning mud monsters. But that just means we can pick and choose what she learns. She's not going to be blowing herself up any time soon."
"Si. That's good." She finally takes a sip of her tea. Thought she was gonna stir it till it became a whirlpool. "So that just leaves… the test."
Kate's quick to jump on that. "We're going to take readings of her while she performs a spell. We've got standard purifying materials if it shows any negative effect."
"Then we just have to have Luz use her light spell?"
Kate's face scrunches a bit. "I could take readings of that, but that one seems like it could be a puff of smoke. I'd need something more… constant. I want to get the best readings as possible."
The three of them sit there in silence, lost in thought. Ignoring the one person who could give them some good options. "Well, this is a little insulting. I'm right here, you know."
"You got a suggestion, Snaggletooth?"
"Nothing that won't get under the nurse's feathers, but I can find something that'll work for ya." Luz's mom give me an unamused glare. "Alright, fine. Miss Noceda." She gives a curt nod and goes back to her tea.
Okay, maybe she intimidates me just a little.
"Standartenführer Sauer. I've returned from my scavenging." I state, words muffled by this verflucht mask. I stand the straightest I possibly can, for I am standing before the one who is most dedicated to our cause. The darkness of his mask's visors loom over me like I was a miserable insect.
"I am certainly aware of that, Sturmmann Müller. And yet, I've also noticed you have absolutely no take to speak of." He speaks with a dangerously low voice. Had this been any other day, I would've been fully deserving of his anger.
"I have my reasons, Captain. I bring you good news… as well as bad news." I preface myself. "I was just about to contain the Blight girl for study, when I noticed something in the Covention hall. A young girl. A human girl. Central American, from the looks."
He comes dangerously close to my face, his interest piqued. "Another… human?"
"Yes, sir. That's not all, Captain… she could use magic."
"She can?! Phenomenal…" He places a hand on my shoulder. "Are you sure of this, Müller?"
"Indeed. I saw with my own eyes. It was only a simple light spell, but it was magic nonetheless."
The pressure in the atmosphere recedes and I can breathe easier. Sauer walks over to his latest experiment. "This could perhaps be our only chance… no more failures. And yet…" He begins inquisitively. "There must be a reason you did not grab her on the spot."
"That is the bad news, I'm afraid." I begin, knowing full well what will happen once I tell him. "You see, not only is the girl the ward of that annoying wild witch…" I take a deep breath in. "…but she is also being guarded by the ape."
"The ape?" He says in slight confusion, as if he did not immediately know. I cannot blame him. After going so long without seeing or hearing about him, I would have too, had I not seen him with my own eyes.
"The ape from that wretched bureau, sir. He's here. And he is watching over the girl."
Slowly, Sauer's hands clench, and he begins to shake. The pressure returns to the atmosphere, weighing down on me, making it hard to breath. Before it crushes me, the captain erupts in furious anger. "RRAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHH!" He slams his arms down on his research table, crushing his latest experiment. A splatter of blood hits my mask. I wish I could wipe it off, but I dare not move. Sauer continues to pound his fists into the table, the pathetic creature wailing in pain from the assault. His lab equipment is smashed to pieces. Finally, he relents, breathing heavily over the mess of blood and glass. He turns back to me as he finally calms down. "Eherm… my apologizes, Sturmmann. That was rather… infuriating news."
"I understand, sir." I peer at the now dead creature, smashed into mush. "I am sorry. I did not mean to cause you to ruin your operation."
He looks at one of bloodied gloves and scoffs. "Mourn for my lab equipment. It was far more valuable in the end. That whelp offered nothing but the same dead ends we've hit before." He waved off the damage, before questioning me again. "Did the blasted ape see you?"
"Yes, but he did not seem to be aware of my affiliation. I had my swastika concealed."
"Did he follow you at any point?" He seemed tense asking that.
"No. He was distracted by other things before he could get a chance to. And I made sure to check multiple times."
"Thank god…" He heaved a sigh of relief, then recomposed himself. "The last thing we need is that creature knocking at our door."
"Shall I mobilize our squad so we may procure the child?"
"No. Not yet. That blasted hag was one thing, but with the ape here, going in guns blazing will only result in failures. We must approach this intelligently." He flicks some of the blood off his hands. "We must prepare. That girl could hold the key, and we cannot miss such an opportunity." He picks up his experiment by the legs. "No longer will I waste my time on these imp children. Now, get some rest, Müller. I must clean up."
"Yes, sir." I salute him, which he returns. I am all too willing to further our cause. And I am sure that Sauer is all too eager to dissect the girl and see what she hides.
"Mark my words, Müller. I will not allow him to foil us as he did before. He will know just what mistake he made… when we show him what he gave us."
You know, the one thing Hellboy loves about travelling is that there's always a nazi just waiting to be killed by him. That's not a canon statement, but I get the feeling it's true.
Joking aside… things are about to start getting darker, folks. Hellboy's world is slowly, but surely, seeping it's way into the story of Owl House. I won't get edgelord on ya, but be prepared.
Coldblue: You've always got some lengthy reviews, don't ya? Don't stop, I like em.
1. Yes, he knows. The events of this take place long after he finds out. We're coming right off of The Almost Colossus and Abe Sapien vs Science.
2. No, he has no knowledge of that at this point.
3. No, but we will have special guest star Tom Holland! (I get jokey when I come across something that gets too spoilerly)
4. He would mail him about it, but he doesn't have any stamps.
5. That's Mister Doctor Lobster Johnson to you.
Mister Enigma: I'm not sure if this is the best compromise, but I hope you like it. I found a way to reference it, even though I didn't feel I could use the character physically, if that makes sense.
Mellra: I meant to just have Eda express that she had encountered magic users came in, but you and that guest's review did make me realize I should elaborate on that. I got a good beginning scene out of it, so thanks.
Keep Those reviews coming! I'd love to hear how you feel about the latest chapter!