So this is overdue. I'm sorry. It's really long, though, to make up for it.

"Don't think she can?" Chelsea says.

"When she was talking to me up on the roof, she mentioned that whoever it is is getting more confident, and working alone. The only types of people who need to gain confidence are either new, or need to test rumors. If she just moved here, there's no rumor to test. If she needed a rumor to build she would've started right away, and that includes lessons. She's done nothing of the sort."

Zoe snorts.

Cadel brushes past them, Nitro hooked over her shoulder. Heading straight down the stairs to her dorm bed, she digs through her steamer trunk, pulling out one of her uniforms and a pair of jeans.

Finally, she's in clothes. She plops Nitro back on her shoulder, waiting until their at least out of the building to re-open her scab and transform him back. For the third time. "You better be glad I love you." She says to him.

She smoothes a hand down her skirt, sitting on her bed to lace up her shit-kickers. First things first: head back to that field. The sage still needs finding, after all, and she has plenty of time before the game.

She hikes out there, following Nitro's hoofprints out and away. Hopefully by the end of term there'll be a deerpath of a sort.

Cadel weaves a path to were she had been, before Nitro got turned back. It had to be somewhere around here.

She kneels in the long grass, peering this way and that at it and trying to spot the familiar long and narrowish leaves of common sage.

Ah-hah! There! Cadel makes a grab for it, before the wind shifts and blocks it from view again.

"Got you, motherfucker." She hisses, delighted. She needs to get it out at the roots, so she can repot it and have some on hand.

She gets onto her knees briefly to get a bearing on where she is, but once that's done she just kinda flops back into the grass. God, this whole thing is a mess, and depending on how it goes, it'll only get messier.

She doesn't know how long she lays in the long grass, half dozing- long enough that when shifting at the other end of the clearing wakes her the rest of the way, she can hear the distant screams from the hockey pitch.

Cadel sits up and peers through the waving plants to look at whatever's causing the shifting. If it was an animal (not likely) she wouldn't worry, and her classmates would be calling her name.

A girl scurries past the tree line, book clasped to her chest. Cadel hums, and stands.

"Hey, you." The girl startles- she's not a Trinian's girl, obviously. She looks strung out, like a junkie going too long between hits, blonde hair hanging in limp strands around her face. "Quit your shit."

"What shit?" The girl asks, voice hoarse. Her grip tightens on the book clutched to her chest. It's so obviously a book of spells- even if the scent and shadow of black magic didn't cling to her like inky tentacles.

"The black magic shit. Drop the book and go."

The girl snarls, and Cadel shrugs, like it doesn't matter to her what the other girl does. And really, it doesn't. She would've needed to do this anyway.

She stands, swaying. Nitro's down for the count, and it's throwing Cadel off center. It's hard, doing magic without having him to focus it down, but her teachers made sure she could do it, with or without him. All students had to. It was easier for some, and downright impossible for others. No matter how difficult it was for her, she was still better than a self taught witch holding her book like a teddy bear.

She starts forward, gathering energy. The forest breathes with her, and when she waves her hands, incantations come to her lips from memory. All her combat spells are smooth, roll-off-the-tongue types of words. She tucks them into the side of her cheek. She wants to cut this short, not drag it out.

"Einfrieren!" Cadel barks out, throwing a hand up to point at the other girl.

She freezes in her tracks, book propped open on her arms. Cadel picks her way through the field, stopping in front of the girl and grabbing the book from her.

"Jeeze, kid, what'd you get yourself into?" Cadel snaps. "Aufzutauen: Kopf." The girl snarls at her, only able to twist her head around.

"Give that back!" She yells. "It's mine!"

"It's old," Cadel says, pacing around her in a circle. "Where'd you get it? What's your name?"

"My name's Eliza- I stole it from the school's library. What's it matter?"

"It matters, Eliza, because this stuff is dangerous." Cadel snaps from in front of her. The book is all dark spells and conjuring of the worst kind- no wonder the girl didn't have a familiar yet, good God.

"Dangerous how?" Eliza sneers. "Ever since I've gotten that book, things have only gone up! I'm popular! Boys want to date me! Everyone is jealous of how good I look!"

"And you've dropped 20 pounds, yes, yes, tell me more." Cadel drones. "Tell me about how when you go too long without giving yourself over to the book you go on withdrawals. Tell me how many small animals you've given to this thing. Every single familiar that's tried to ally itself with you, huh? How long does it take for your souls to start twining together? Two days? Three? A week?"

Eliza looks smug. "The shortest took a day. The longest, a week. The first was a squirrel I fed nuts to before I picked my book up. The latter was a raven that liked to hang around campus. Took the longest, I figure, because of how smart ravens are supposed to be."

"How long did it take for you?" Eliza asks, nodding at where Nitro is still perched on Cadel's shoulder. His plush form makes it impossible for Nitro to do anything but smile, but she can feel him angrily snap at Eliza in her mind.

"Instantaneous." Cadel says, distractedly. "True familiars bond the second you make contact. Einfrieren."

She rips the scab off her thumb, smearing blood onto Nitro's head and shrugging him off her shoulder. He's fully formed before he can actually hit the ground, bleating at her. "You hush." Cadel demands, wrapping her hands around his ears. "We need to loosen whatever hold this has on her, do you understand me? It's not just her own greed that's making her this way, though it gave the black magic a great handhold."

Nitro nudges his nose against hers. "Yeah, I know. There's sage over where we were sitting- go grab it. Make sure you don't rip up the entire plant, please."

Nitro trots off, and Cadel thinks of the ways her teachers said to purify the evil out of someone. Sage, check. Familiar, check. Pure and wholesome wishes, plenty. What is she missing?

It's name. She flips the book back open. "Glory, lust, and jealousy. Where would I find the unholy trifecta?"

Usually it's easy enough to find them- most dark witches ally themselves with the night but don't use it nefariously, only to protect themselves from that which they cannot see- but when a witch goes grimdark, starts using her magic on herself, and selfishly- that's when things come.

Nitro trots up while she's still digging. He drops the leaves into her waiting palm. "Dörren," Cadel says, not paying attention, and hisses and almost drops the leaves when all the moisture leaves them, dampening her hand. "Aufzutauen: kopf."

"Quit doing that!" Eliza snaps.

"Nope." Cadel says, still not paying attention. She flips through the book. "Did you use more than one spell for your spectacular new life, or multiple?"

"People will come looking for me, you know. I'll start screaming."

Cadel snorts. "Go ahead. Us Trinian's girls are huge on field hockey. No one's going to hear you. How many spells?"

Eliza seems determined to try, however, and takes a deep breath. "Stumm." Cadel snaps, and even though the blonde flops her jaw around like a fish, no noise comes out.

"I'll unmute you if you tell me which spells in which order." Cadel says, trying to compromise.

Eliza shakes her head. Cadel shrugs. "Alright, fine. I don't give a fuck either way. Einfieren."

"Glory, glory, glory, come on." Cadel snarls in frustration. "Why couldn't've this book come with a table of contents?"

She leans against Nitro, balancing the leaves on his back. "Alright, lets take it from the top, instead." Cadel sighs, flipping to the front of the book. "Wish there was a spell that worked kinda like control f, but whatever."

The pages are so fragile, but Cadel can feel the power thrumming within it. So much power, waiting for someone with potential. It was a shame Eliza fell for it; a little while longer and the school would've picked her up anyway.

"Aha! It all was one spell!" Cadel shouts triumphantly. "Combo spells are difficult, how on Earth did you manage it?" She asks Eliza, not expecting an answer. "Go see how far along the game is, Nitro. I'll need to know how long I have to do this."

Nitro shakes like a wet dog, sending the sage leaves flying all over Cadel, but obediently trots off, bounding away like llama's do. It's weird.

"Jerk!" She yells after him, but she's smiling. "Alright, circle time." She jogs over to the treeline, grabbing a decently sized branch.

She doesn't do anything too fancy; just a simple anti-possession sigil to draw it out and keep it out. She's a little rusty on the runes, but Nitro's great, he'll tell her if it needs fixing.

Speaking of the fluffy asshole- here he comes now. "How long do I have here? Take a look at the runes."

Nitro figures she's got about twenty minutes, tops, before anyone realizes the girl's gone. Also, the runes will do, he guesses.

Cadel puffs out her cheeks. "Given the time restraint, I'll take it. C'mon, it'll take both of us to do this." It takes her a minute to remember the words completely, as exorcisms were more of a 'just in case' and less of a 'necessary learning' type thing.

Cadel takes a breath, winding her fingers into Nitro's fur. "Ready?" He bleats. "Me neither. Aufzutauen."

Eliza darts forward so fast she falls. "Finally!" The girl shouts, heading for the school. "I'm going to have you arrested, you goddamn-" She reaches the edge of the circle and realizes she isn't moving. "What the fuck?" She shrieks. "Let me out!"

"Not yet, you utter whackjob." Cadel says. "We have a bit of business to uptake with the thing living in your soul."

"The only thing in my soul is me." Eliza says, "And I'm telling you to Let-" She bangs on the invisible shield around her. "Me-" bang- "Out!" She shrieks the last word, making Cadel clap her hands over her ears.

"Jesus, you got a set of lungs on you, huh?" Cadel asks, awe-struck. "Those actually yours, or did you magic them up like you did the rest of your personality?" Eliza just snarls at her, too mad for words.

Cadel clears her throat. "Wir beschwören euch, jeden unreinen Geist-" Eliza backs up, disbelieving. "Jede satanische Macht , jeder Einfall der höllischen Gegner, jeder Legion jede Gemeinde und teuflische Sekte. So verfluchten Dämonen und jede teuflische Legion Wir beschwören euch. Aufhören, menschliche Wesen zu täuschen und um ihnen zu geben, das Gift der ewigen Verdammnis. Geh weg, Satan, der Erfinder und Meister-"

Eliza's eyes roll back, but she's not down for the count yet, weaving around like she might fall at any moment.

"Aller List , der Feind der Menschheit das Heil. Seien Sie unter dem mächtigen Hand Gottes demütigen zittern und fliehen - rufe ich durch uns die heilige und schreckliche Namen in denen diese unten zittern. Von den Nachstellungen des Teufels , befreie uns, Herr. Damit du deine Kirche sicher , Ihnen zu dienen, frei zu machen, bitten wir Sie, erhöre uns."

Cadel closes her eyes as black ooze ejects itself from the other girl's pores- with it gone, all the color seems to seep out of her, like it took the life with it, but Cadel can see her chest rising and falling. The black mist whirls around the circle, trapped within it.

"Damit ihr die Feinde deiner heiligen Kirche zu zerstören, bitten wir Sie, erhöre uns! Gott ist erschreckend zu seiner eigenen heiligen Ort. Der Gott Israels selbst wird excellence gestoßen haben und die Kraft, sein eigenes Volk. Gepriesen sei Gott . Ehre sei dem Vater zu sein."

Whatever it is shrieks as the final line of the exorcism sends it whirling through space and into the book- which Cadel promptly drops, letting out a tiny shriek of her own. "Sage, sage, so much sage oh my god," she mutters, shaking her hands out.

She grabs a leaf, holding it out tip first. "Zünden," She whispers. She gets a spurt of fire, but it's enough to set the leaf to smoldering, and Cadel waves it over herself, and then Nitro. She lights another leaf using the first one, getting Eliza as well.

She's so tired. So, so tired. She aches in a hundred different places, and all of them indicate she's way overdone herself today.

She picks up Eliza on her way out of the clearing, throwing the other girl over her shoulder and hoisting her up and over onto Nitro's back.