The detonating arrowheads JC had made for Nadine were helping a lot against these stone daemons—blowing clear through them in one shot most of the time. Audrey seemed to have quite a range of magic to use against them now, so between her new cape and the destructive light-show she was putting on, Audrey really made Nadine think of the old wizards from the stories she could almost remember her mom telling her. Her dad had always preferred more realistic stories, which seemed funny now that Nadine was fighting next to a real wizard.

Contengo.” Audrey closed her eyes and opened her hand as two daemons dove for her and Nadine.

A dome of amethyst energy instantly surrounded the girls, which the daemons crashed into. Nadine took the opening to execute both daemons with exploding arrows. Horera had basically been using herself as a projectile, with an effectiveness that Nadine wouldn’t have expected. There were moments when Horera seemed just a little klutzy, even clueless, and then moments like these when Nadine wasn’t sure she could move or fight any more effectively than the dogling. Finally tiring, Horera executed a graceful dismount from her tenth daemon and landed back where she’d dropped her guisarme at the beginning of the fight.

“Guisarme-san!” Horera protested, noticing her weapon, “No be lazy! Is fight!”

“A few more of them than I expected.” Nadine stepped closer to Audrey as Horera and Guisarme-san began fighting daemons on the deck. “How’re you holding up?”

Audrey held her open spell-book in front of her and it seemed to flip ahead several pages on its own. “About ready to finish this. Fulgur Maximus!

Raising two fingers high above her head, Audrey called down a brilliant bolt of lightning that illuminated the entire canopy before arcing out and through all of the daemons at once! As all the daemons fell into ash, Audrey snapped her book shut and pushed her glasses back up her face.

“That was amazing!” Nadine stowed her bow to take Audrey’s hands excitedly. “You’re so powerful!”

Audrey blushed and looked away, “Ah, well, I—um… I was just, using magic. You and Horera were at least as impressive.”

“What these?” Horera cocked her head and sat down in the middle of four glowing archways arranged in a semi-circle.

Nadine grinned, “The way between the worlds!”

“There are hundreds of them!” Audrey gasped as she stepped forward to look at the rows and rows of darkened arches behind the four glowing ones.

Nadine noticed each stone arch featured a head like one of the stone daemons they’d defeated at the very top. Had they really fought that many daemons? Maybe. It was a little hard to say how many Audrey fried there at the end. Still, there seemed to be a lot more arches than there had been daemons.

“Cat!” Horera’s ears perked up and she charged one of the glowing arches. “Yip! Yip! Yip! Cat! Cat! Cat!”

Horera hit the light within the arch like it was a big pillow or something, and began scrabbling at it with her hands.

“Horera! Be careful!” Audrey rushed forward at the same time as Nadine. “We don’t know how these work, or even what they are for certain!”

“Browf!” Horera fell over backwards away from the arch. “Horera hands numb!” Rolling onto all fours, Horera faced the arch resolutely then before anyone could stop her pressed her face into the light and appeared to be trying to push though.

“Hey! Careful!” Nadine pulled Horera back away from the arch.

Horera lay limply in Nadine’s arms with a dizzy expression and her head lolling around, “Weee!”

Nadine looked into the light of the arch, and could see Audrey curled up in her new cape, sleeping next to a black cat. There was a little guy dressed in leather with a whip sleeping close by, with the most beautiful falcon Nadine had ever seen perched above him. Then just at the edge of the light she could make out a shaggy old wolf and a really tall woman with blue skin…

“Don’t share a room with JC? Makes sense, but I sort of would have liked to see him.” Audrey smiled from where she was standing next to a different arch.

Nadine looked down at where Horera seemed to have fallen asleep in her lap. “Actually… We were separated.”








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