Was this chapter late because I was too busy watching It’s Okay to Not Be Okay and gushing over an antisocial female lead who gets to stab dudes in the chest? I mean, maybe. All I can say is once you fall down the K-drama rabbit hole, you’ll never come back out.
Also, shout out to Dolly Llama for marking one of today’s reveals as suspect wayyyyyyy back in like chapter three.
Ancient Ruins, Formerly Straud Castle
The weight of Rory’s hold threatened to crush her. Here was the guardian who taught her time-weaving, raised her, took the form of a lion to scare off her nightmares. But this knowledge, this deep abiding love, did not stop Miko from struggling. For here too was a creature who would pluck out your eyes and stop your heart and not think twice about it.
“P-Please,” she finally gasped, “I can do it this time!”
Rory waved his hand, and she dropped to the ground. With great heaving breaths, she struggled to her feet. Her family had always laughed at her antics, but maybe a thousand times was a bridge too far.
“I know this is a lot, but I’m gonna tell you right now, I have excellent reasons for looping this timeline,” she argued. It seemed better to take a preemptive stand and project confidence.
“Not timeline,” Rory said, his silver suit gleaming in the darkness, “Timelines.”
Miko felt a chill climb up her spine.
Windenburg Island, Bjersten Residence
“I’d explain it to him if I didn’t think he’d stab me again,” Vlad called out over his shoulder as they approached the house.
Alice shook her head, “Don’t be so dramatic, you’re not worried about getting stabbed.”
She stopped, self-consciously tucking back a stray piece of hair, “For what it’s worth, I think you did the right thing. Caleb needs to figure out who and what he is without you.”
“Like you’ve done with Ben?” he replied, turning to face her with a knowing smile.
Alice sprinted up the steps and grabbed his wrist, pressing him back against the window. “I…I didn’t think you were paying attention. You were being weird as fuck during the contest.”
She started to step back, but Vlad stopped her. “I quite enjoy being caged in by you. And technically, it was the golem that was being weird,” he made a funny face as his mouth formed around that word. “I was in my right mind and watching you from the window. You were glorious.”
“You watched me?” Alice gasped, her hold on him tightening.
She was just raising up on her tippy-toes for a kiss when the first part of his sentence finally sunk in. “Wait. Golem? What do you mean by golem?”
“You needn’t worry,” he retorted, waving a dismissive hand, “It was an amateur effort, so it’s quite dissolved now. Gwendolyn and I had a long discussion about hiring other baby witches to do dark workings.”
“Dark workings? Oh, so she hired a kid to make a clay copy of you, and you had a talk about it, so it’s fine? That’s like level ten grounding! You can’t keep shit like that a secret! You and I are on a team…together…” she trailed off as something in the window caught her attention.
Later, Alice would be hard-pressed to explain exactly how she knew.
Or exactly what she saw.
Death called to her. Stretching out her arm, she let the whispers of it curl around her fingers, trying to determine its point of origin.
“Stay there,” Vlad called out, “There’s a dead body in the back bedroom; I can smell it.”
Alice didn’t answer. Everything in her body felt wrong. Her plasma was too slow, her heartbeat too fast, her skin felt stretched out and inflated, like she had suddenly become a balloon.
“But I’m not a balloon,” she muttered absently, walking further into the house.
Vlad growled, misting into her path, “Aren’t you listening? Stay here! I won’t lose both of you to the—”
He broke off abruptly. “Alice…can you…hear me?”
Her skin didn’t just feel inflated; it was on fire.
“Nod if you can hear me,” Vlad repeated, his voice a command.
Alice bristled, clenching her fists. She was the god here! He didn’t rule her. She would tell him to…
All she could think about was Gwendolyn and how she felt too full of power. She couldn’t keep it all in her body; she had to find a way to get it out!
“No,” Vlad said firmly, “We need you to stay inside this body. Gwendolyn and I require it, so you have to try.”
“Help me,” Alice cried, but it came out as incoherent shrieking. She didn’t even know she was falling forward until he caught her.
“It’s alright,” he murmured, “I’ve got you. Take a deep breath. Just breathe.”
Ancient Ruins, Formerly Straud Castle
“Timelines?” Miko took a step back, heat rising behind her eyelids. She would know something like that; she was a Thread of Fate, not some paranormal creature. She knew from time!
“Over a thousand finally whittled down to four,” Rory replied, wearing a pinched expression.
“Three,” Summer interjected, materializing next to him. She wore a green dress and fur stole, splatters of plasma and something that looked alarmingly slimy dripping off it.
Summer was here too? Were they hiding Grandma Ojo in their pockets?
“Of course not. Mortal forms are too tiny for that,” Liberty sighed, answering Miko’s unspoken question. She waved away a flurry of blue and gold sparks, eyeing her sister with disdain. “Really, Summer? You couldn’t change your clothes? You’re making us look ridiculous!” Glancing over at Rory, a frown formed at the corners of her mouth, “Well, more ridiculous.”
“Sorry,” Summer mumbled, her shoulders slumping forward.
Next to her, Rory gave a dejected sigh and ran a hand over his suit, “Well, auditions aren’t over yet; I guess I could still change. I’ve got that orange jacket. Are you sure it looks—”
“Yes!” Liberty snapped. “Don’t you read the reviews? All your outfits look terrible in that lighting. Sims say they’re the worst part of the show.”
Rory made a disgusted sound. “You know it’s too late and too early to be givin’ out advice like that, Liberty Ann.” It was clear from the look on his face that he relished using her middle name. “You just enjoy being nasty. If you were really tryin’, you would’ve said it two millennia ago when we planned this contest!”
“He does have a point,” Summer added, “‘Ensure the invention of TV’ was on the list for at least three centuries so, you know, you could’ve said somethin’.”
Miko pinched the bridge of her nose. Had they forgotten she was standing here? “I am a Thread of Fate. You’re the ones who taught me to weave time. I think I would know if—”
“You wouldn’t know a llama if it bit you in the ass,” Liberty hissed. “You haven’t been looping time. You’ve been creating parallel timelines. It’s like we never taught you a damn thing at all!”
“Don’t yell at our Rabbit like that!” Rory bellowed, “She knows she messed up.”
“She doesn’t,” Summer sighed, “Its her character flaw. Mark my words, she’s fittin’ to get all worked up about it.”
“I am not getting worked up!” Miko swore. She had made some mistakes, sure, but now they were all being tossed in her face. Anyone would be upset! “Will someone please just tell me what the hell is going on? I am trying to fix—”
“Time is a flat circle! Why are you trying to fix it?” Rory exploded.
Miko’s head flinched back as if he hit her.
He took a deep breath, running a hand through his hair. “Do you remember your first embroidery hoop lesson? We had you use your thread to make a stitch and loop it over and over again.”
“You said that thread was me,” Miko recalled, the memory both fresh and distant at the same.
“Yes, but you wanted to make a rabbit and so we taught you a pattern. The pattern required individual stitches and different pieces of thread. You couldn’t loop when you were making a pattern or you’d never make any progress and that made you upset.”
Miko bit the inside of her cheek, flushing with embarrassment. “I was eight. I don’t see what that has to do with any of this,” she insisted stubbornly.
“I know, Rabbit. You never were good with that lesson. It’s why your timing is always off,” he contended with a sad smile, “The worlds are like the pattern. You can’t loop them. You can start a new hoop and try to make the same pattern again, but it’s still a new hoop. And it won’t be exactly the same as the first one.”
Miko opened her mouth to disagree. That was not how it worked for her at all. Things weren’t different every time! Except—
Except, they were. And she knew it.
“Well, even if I did create multiple timelines and y’all closed them up, it’s not like that’s the main problem,” she tried, “Somnus is the real issue. He’s the one trying to take over the Underworld and become King of the Gods. He’s power hungry, a warmonger, and—”
“Not the main problem! Are you drunk?” Liberty snarled. “You’ve taken magic and spread it across a thousand timelines. What do you think that did to it?”
“Made it weaker,” Miko whispered, pressing her elbows to the side, hoping to make herself as small as possible, even as her thoughts remained defiant.
Too late she remembered that her aunt could read her mind. Liberty stalked forward, advancing on Miko with feline grace—fitting, since she preferred being a cat to anything else.
“And you’re telling me that it never once occurred to you that maybe the outcome of the God War was a result of your interference?”
“I…” Miko hesitated, not willing to give her doubts voice. “But if you collapsed the timelines and made everyone stronger, then you also made Somnus stronger. That’s all the more reason for me to stop this war before it even starts!”
Liberty shook her head, suddenly appearing as if her long existence had finally caught up with her. Old was not quite the right descriptor for The Fates. They had existed for ages. “Fool of a child. You still don’t know, do you? Some things just are. And the more you try to ‘fix’ them, the more unintended side effects you create. That’s why a war must happen, and that’s why we need every god at optimal strength for it.”
Windenburg Island, Bjersten Residence
Vlad’s voice came to her as if from down a long tunnel. “The furniture, Alice. You have to release the furniture.”
Alice—that’s who she was. She knew that, but she didn’t feel it. How could she when her cells felt divided amongst the wind, grass, and trees? She was the spark of joy in the air; she was birth and death and all the gray area in between.
“We have to think,” he said gently, prying her hands off his arm. “For Gwendolyn, we have to calm down and think.”
The furniture dropped out of the air with a series of thumps, landing askew. Alice squeezed her eyes shut, drawing all her wayward thoughts back in. When she opened them, she stared down at her fingers, trying to understand why they were coated in a warm, slick substance. “Why is…?”
The arms of Vlad’s shirt were wet and she could see the little tears in the fabric. With a startled sound, she shrank back. Did she do that? How did she do that? Was she really that fucking strong?
“It will heal,” he explained, voice pitched deliberately low. “I cannot be killed by something so small as a puncture wound. In fact, I cannot be killed at all.”
Still staring at her fingers, Alice felt relief that she hadn’t killed him but everything else still felt wrong. Her thoughts were swinging wildly and no matter how much she tried to tell herself that her power was like a dimmer switch, she could not tamp it down.
Someone took Gwendolyn; someone took what belonged to her.
Alice shot into the air, the kitchen ablaze behind her. The fury started in the pit of her stomach, clawed its way up her ribcage and then back down again to her finger tips. There was no room in her head for any thought other than bathing the ones who crossed her punishing flames. The combination of words and righteous anger swirled in her head until they became a great jumble, knocking against her skull and begging for release.
“The fire,” Vlad’s voice came from down the long tunnel again. “You have to call back the flames.”
She stared down at him, lip curling. She did not. Not now. Not while someone still had what was hers.
Landing in a crouch, an honest-to-llamas growl emanating from her throat, she beckoned him. “Make me.”
“Temptress,” he replied, his voice light and somewhat teasing. Alice didn’t know why, but it calmed her. “It pains me to say no, my love, but you and I do not fight each other on this plane. We have a truce, remember?”
My love. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she recalled this truce. He wasn’t a threat to her. She loved him. So how did she get here? How did it come to this? How did—
“I’m afraid,” she bit out.
Vlad took a cautious step towards her, then another, and another, until he was close enough to hug her tightly. “I am Phobos,” he soothed, “You need only tell me your fears, and I will devour them.”
Alice blew out a breath and the flames subsided. She was a god five times over—Death, Resurrection, Fertility, Agriculture, Nectar. She didn’t need to be afraid. She didn’t need—
A sharp electrical noise cut through the air, like a dial finally tuning into the right radio station.
…Can this garden grow a little faster, please?
….A toast! To the bride and her lovely bride! May they be granted happiness and…
… It’s a girl. We’re having a girl, I can feel it! Bob, get the…
“STOP!” Alice screamed, crouching down.
How long until they ferry my soul? I’m so tired…
Death? Is that you? I’ve asked for you. I’ve been asking for days now and…
She ducked her head and covered her ears, but it didn’t stop the thousands of voices from circling around her, demanding attention.
“Can’t you stop them?” she cried, leaping to her feet and grabbing at Vlad’s shirt.
He tried to calm her. “Stop who? You have to tell me—”
“I can’t hear, I can’t think, I can’t—”
Behind them, a door creaked open. All the voices went silent.
Threat, Alice thought. Her power rushed to her fingertips, and she turned around.
Ancient Ruins, Formerly Straud Castle
“There has to be a war?” Miko gasped, “Against who?” She wrapped her arms around herself. How could she have gotten it so wrong? Side effects. Of course there would be side effects. She couldn’t control every being and every action in the universe.
But she thought she could. That was why she was nudging everyone in the right direction, a lie here, a half-truth there, a little bit of emotional manipulation. Admitting it felt horrible, like a heavy coat she couldn’t wait to fling off of her onto someone else.
“Which time?” Summer asked. Rory elbowed her. “I mean which war…er I mean, let’s back up. The first time we killed Alice—”
“You killed Alice?” Miko roared. She had wasted so many timelines trying to fix exactly that problem! Her gaze danced over each member of her family, trying to decide who would wear the guilt better than her.
“Not us per se,” Summer corrected. Rory and Liberty gaped at her. “What?” she returned their incredulous look, “We’re swamped! It won’t hurt her to know we contracted out the work. We put a list together with—”
“Shut up!” they both snapped.
“You three are unbelievable!” Miko growled, crossing her arms, “Killing Alice at random! You call yourselves the Sisters of Time? You’re a bunch of murderers!”
“Well, I think that’s an unfair accusation,” Rory huffed.
“And not really true,” Summer piped up, “We didn’t kill all the Alices. Just the ones we don’t need.”
“Are y’all insane?” Miko cried. All this time she was made to feel like a failure but The Fates had been working against her at every turn. That’s what went wrong. “Here I am, trying to secure The Owl for—”
“Oh, The Owl,” Rory rolled his eyes, “That’s really more of a honeypot situation. The Gods are children. I mean, children with enough power to wipe out a realm, but children all the same. They were always going fight over The Owl. What better way to bring them all together?”
Miko opened her mouth and then closed it again. She narrowed her eyes. There was something that they weren’t saying. “Pardon my Champs Les Sims, but I’m still going to call bullshit. You’ve made it very clear that you want the God of Death to get The Owl. How else is Alice supposed to ascend? That body won’t last.”
Miko didn’t mention that part of her plan was to get Alice to hand The Owl over so Miko could use it to undo everything that necessitated her needing it in the first place.
“Please!” Rory snorted, “There’s more than one way to make a god.” At Miko’s glare, he lifted his nose into the air. “It’s just that some ways are riskier than others. She’s got plenty of time. And with more strength, she can easily protect The Owl.”
“I thought this was a honeypot situation. Why does The Owl need protecting?”
Rory coughed and then covered it with a smile. “Of course! It’s just like I said.”
“Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit! I was born yesterday, but that was over 150 years ago. You’re worried about The Owl and you’re not telling me something. If you wanted the Gods in one place, you’d just call a meeting.”
“Oh Miko,” Summer shook her head, “You know they don’t respond to meeting requests. At least not since the incident in Veronaville.”
“X-nay on the Time of Slaughter-ay,” Rory chided, “The Owl is fine. She’s having the time of her life. You can see that! There’s a very good chance this is going to work out well.”
Miko’s eyes bulged. “You’re leaving Alice to win The Owl by chance? What the hell are you not telling—”
“Enough!” Liberty shouted. “You would be surprised to learn all the things that come down to chance. Whole realms are preserved on the prospect of someone stumbling in the right direction. We have a path for Alice. By chance, she’ll follow it and for all our sakes, you better hope she does.”
She grabbed Miko’s chin and searched her eyes, “You’ve got plenty to say to about our methods, but tell me, Rabbit, did it take a thousand times because you were truly focused on trying to save the world?”
Miko turned her head, ashamed because she could not keep her thoughts blank. They strayed to all the do-overs she’d orchestrated for petty reasons, for selfishness…for Akira.
“But this world ends,” she said instead, “Who’s coming to fight the Gods? How am I supposed to stop it?”
“You don’t,” Rory replied with a shrug. He signaled to the darkness and grabbed Miko by the arm. “Remember,” he whispered, “There are no do-overs.”
Somnus stepped forward, draped in white. His angular face was not helped by his smug expression or scar across his eye. “Good evening, Rory of the Fates. She is the one?”
“She’s a wayward child, but still a Thread of fate. Perfect for your time-looping needs.”
Well, fuck that. Miko wasn’t going to be a part of their insane plan. When Rory shoved her forward, she immediately called for her time magic. Grabbing hold of the mainspring, she pulled and…
A light dusting of sparks filled the air.
Miko cried out and dropped to her knees. There, in Somnus’s hand, was a tangle of magic. Her magic.
“Looking for something?” he asked, letting it play over his fingers before he gathered it back into himself.
Miko allowed herself a few seconds of pity and terror before she was back on her feet. She got in two solid jabs before Somnus let loose a blast of power and sent her flying.
She hit the ground, the air leaving her lungs. Wheezing, she managed to just lift her head, “Y-you can’t do this. The Owl is—”
“Oh, gosh! Thank you for reminding me,” Summer giggled. She flashed a smile at Somnus. “Good luck on your hunt for The Owl. We’ll tell you the same thing as all the other competitors. The baking contest is the most direct route, but feel free to get creative. Lie, cheat, scheme to see it through. It must be earned or freely given, that’s the only rule.”
“And her powers are bound to me?” Somnus asked, his gaze passing over Miko.
“Of course,” Summer nodded solemnly, “All her time powers are bound to you. Keep her with you and you can travel as you please.”
“No!” Miko coughed, “I will never help him do anything! You can’t bind me! They’re lying to you! There’s no such thing as time loops!”
“Foolish child,” Liberty tsked. She smiled at Somnus—smiled! Liberty Ann did not smile!—”You know how it is. You can raise them, but you can’t give them sense.”
Somnus stared back at her, disapproval etched on his face. “I’ve never had the desire to procreate with mere supernaturals like the other Gods. I find it in bad taste. The shameful practices of your family are to my advantage, however. When I am King of all Gods, I will remember this faithfulness. You three will be rewarded.”
“We look forward to it,” Rory simpered, “With Miko by your side, there is no way you can fail. In fact, I’d say that this time is for all the marbles.”
“I am a god,” Somnus frowned, “I don’t play games.”
He opened a portal and began pulling Miko through it. Liberty gave a jaunty wave, and Summer kept gesturing for her to smile.
“I hear Selvadorada is lovely this time of year,” Rory remarked, winking at Miko before the portal closed, “Y’all up for a trip?”
Windenburg Island, Bjersten Residence
He let Alice fire her first volley because she was startled, and Vlad instinctively understood that to deprive her of this would only rile her more. The witch and her companion dodged Alice’s blast even as it took out part of the wall.
“Alice! What the fuck?” the woman shouted; she scrambled to her feet, a blue orb levitating in her hand. She eyed Vlad angrily, “What the fuck happened to her and where the hell is the kid?”
The witch looked familiar, but Vlad could not quite place her. She clearly knew Alice and was connected to Gwendolyn. That knowledge was keeping her alive for now.
Her partner raised a pistol that gave off a series of beeps and electrical pulses. “Alice, are you okay? Why don’t you just come stand over here with us?”
“Yeah, back the fuck up, Vladislaus. I don’t know what you did to her, but we’re taking Alice and the kid. Where is she?”
Vlad bit back a snarl, but it was Alice that lunged forward. He grabbed her by the shoulders, “No! They are not enemies.”
Her eyes clouded over, and she began to shake. Vlad slowly lowered her to the ground. “They will not take anything that belongs to you,” he whispered against her temple, shoving the worry he felt back behind his ribcage, along with Phobos, “You are a god; what are they to you? Nothing. Don’t use any more power, just rest.”
Alice crossed her arms over her chest and rocked but didn’t answer. Vlad stood, narrowing his eyes at the witch. Now he recalled her name: Penny Pizzazz. She kept company with the pixie who ran the Inn Alice stayed at when she first came to Windenburg. And the alien masquerading as a sim beside her was Mikel. Caleb would never let him live it down that he was right about aliens.
“Put down that orb,” he commanded, “I am not a threat to you right now.” He inclined his head at Alice, “She, however, will shatter your bones like glass with just a thought in her head.”
Penny swallowed nervously and dispelled the orb. Mikel lowered his weapon, but he kept looking towards the side of the house. “Why is there a dead body around back?” he asked.
“What happened to her?” Penny added.
“It’s complicated,” Vlad answered, glancing down at Alice. If he let himself think about anything beyond the fact that Gwendolyn had managed to kill one of her captors on the way out the door, he would, as Alice was fond of saying, “completely lose his shit.”
“Complicated? She wasn’t like this at the Inn. She’s the God of Death’s conduit; can’t we just ask him what’s going on? She shouldn’t be giving off so much power! She’ll—”
“Lower your voice!” Vlad hissed. He took an unnecessary breath to steady himself. It was fitting that he was getting a taste of what William and Caleb had gone through for centuries. Something was wrong with Alice, and as William pointed out back at Britechester, someone in their merry band of lunatics had to hold it together.
Tonight, that someone was him.
Bending down, he reached into Alice’s pocket and pulled out her cell phone. “You and I are aligned, witch. The God of Death does not wish to be parted from Gwendolyn, and neither do I. She is ours.”
Penny’s eyes widened; she and Mikel shared a worried look. “G-Gwendolyn…you…you actually know her? And what about the Good Order—”
“As for what happened to our child,” he continued, cutting Penny off, “Someone wise once told me that a war cannot be won without information. And it certainly can’t be fought on multiple fronts. We have to take care of Alice first.”
Penny’s nostrils flared, “And what about Gwendolyn? What about the Good Order Monks?” she stepped forward, “They made something called Phobos, and something else called the Lady of the Lake. But those were failed experiments. They’re going to try again with Gwendolyn. Even you can’t let that ride.”
There was a file? His vision whited out for a second. Phobos clawed at his ribcage and Vlad allowed himself to imagine what it would be like to release his claws and wings, to give into that rage, to—
But not now.
He boxed up that emotion and set it aside for later. He was well aware of how much time they had. And if they had any hope of stopping the Monks, they would need more than some young adult witch and an alien dancing around in a mortal skin. They would need more than him.
“Phobos means Fear,” he explained, in a voice calmer than he felt, “And I am not a failed experiment, just an uncontrolled one.”
He looked at Mikel, “The body in the back room is likely one of the Good Order Monks. Alice told me you’re an alien. I am not an expert in what that entails, but we need any piece of information that will tell us where they are taking Gwendolyn.”
Before Penny could interject, Vlad tossed the phone to her, “You and I will discuss and make a plan right after you look up the name Grim and dial it.”
“Grim?” Penny gave him a disbelieving look, “…as in reaper?”
This time, Vlad did not even bother to hide his emotions. “Yes,” he sighed. “We need him, and due to a small disagreement, he’s not taking my calls.”
There was something in the air. It was new, and the Sage of Untamed Magic could not tell if it bode well or ill for the journey ahead. A few feet away, William worked at getting a small fire going. Selvadorada was almost oppressively hot, but the night could turn cool in an instant.
“You are quite familiar with Selvadorada,” the Sage flattered, crossing over to him and taking a seat. “I didn’t take you for an outdoorsman, and yet here you are, gathering supplies and navigating Puerta Llamante with ease.”
The vampire grunted. It was a sound that might have filled Morgyn with pleasant memories if it wasn’t so annoyed-sounding.
“I already told you one true thing,” he grumbled.
Patience. This all required patience. Navigating Aurelius was a delicate act in the early days. Morgyn smiled and tried to ignore the sharp jolt that hit them square in the chest. Something was wrong…but what?
“Down to business. I like it. Well, we’ll need to—”
“No,” William replied curtly.
“No? I believe it was you who said you’d follow my instructions, vampire, or are you going back on your word?”
William gave them a feral smile, and Morgyn’s stomach did a series of flip-flops.
“The Library’s defenses will not allow us to portal in, remember?” his voice was a purr, and Morgyn could see the fire reflected in his eyes. “For all that you are the Sage of Untamed Magic, I don’t believe navigating the Selvadoradan jungle is counted among one of your skills. Until we are near the entrance to the Library, you’ll be taking my orders. Not the other way around.”
It was the kind of speech that would have had Morgyn’s hair standing on end. Grumpy Aurelius giving orders was downright arousing. But the Sage couldn’t focus on that. Power suffused them, the tendrils of it white-hot and painful. If Morgyn had not been born of magic, had not been so used to it, it might have knocked them off their feet.
How is this happening? They gazed down at the magic pulsing around their fingertips.
They had planned for a lot of possibilities: L. Faba realizing she was under a dampening spell, Aurelius dying before the 21st century, even a power grid failure, which sounded ridiculous but, according to the notebook, had been a real problem for loop #473. For weeks, Morgyn had been puzzling over the last note they wrote to themselves. It seemed needlessly cryptic until today.
The loops are branches.
Time was tricky when you spent a good part of it as a swirl of energy without form. Time loops or parallel timelines? It all felt the same. Morgyn disliked being wrong, but being this wrong scared them. It meant they had been operating with only a fraction of their true essence and now, all their magic was filling their body at once. It was a delicate balancing act. Use too much power? Poof! Let too much power build up in the body? Also poof!
“Are you even listening to me?” William demanded, “What are you even looking at?” he leaned towards the Sage, and for the first time in a tete-a-tete with the man he loved, Morgyn was the one pulling away.
“Nothing,” the Sage lied, shoving their hand behind their back and forcing a smile. “I agree with your outrageous demands, Aurelius. No need to get so up in arms about it.”
“William,” he corrected, crossing his arms.
In response, Morgyn smiled even harder. “Indeed. You didn’t pack some baked goods, by any chance? I’m absolutely starving.”
It was not until William growled and stomped angrily back towards the tent that Morgyn let out the breath they were holding. They did some quick calculations. With no interventions, they would burn through this body in a matter of days, not weeks.
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