Multifold Manus Chapter 18

	Despite the snow that covered the grounds of Fairgarland, it was a clear and sunny day, the sun beaming down over the campus. It was so bright that the light reflecting off the snow  forced students to keep from looking at it lest they blind themselves. Reccoa was no different, her four eyes struggled to see through all the light. 
	She stood on the edge of campus breathing deeply, her familiar sitting on her shoulder whispering in her ear, and with her crystal shards at the ready. As she breathed heavily, her emotions calmed down for a time before she riled herself up again. By usual sorcerer metrics, there was a one to five scale for your emotions corresponding to how strong the magic associated with that emotion can be. One is usually a very impotent spell, for Reccoa it manifested as an easily controllable handheld fire. She threw the flame into the snow, quickly melting a patch of it. With the snap of her fingers, she extinguished it and manifested another ball of flame in her hand.
	With firm control of herself, Reccoa’s anger increased by a stage. At two, she was able to shoot a burst of flames from her hands. She rubbed her hands together as the flames died down, the lingering warmth keeping her exposed hands from getting numb. The rage was pushed again, letting her throw a larger fireball, exploding in the snow and instantly vaporizing it. 
	Reccoa panted as she tried to regain her energy, not daring to push herself further for fear of causing real damage, “A fine showing,” A man called as he trudged down the path, “Not often do we see such powerful displays from sorcerers. Most are too worried about collateral or some such nonsense,” It was the old professor in reds and yellows, Reccoa noted, “By my estimate, you would give the students in my house a run for their money,” He joked as he stopped near her, not daring to stray from the cleared path, “Have I met you before? No, I think I have seen you with young Galahad at his club.”
	“You are professor teaching him, yessums?” Reccoa asked.
	“Headmaster, but yes, I am. Headmaster Xavos of Fritz’Eleo,” He introduced himself, “Interested in dueling, are you?”
	Xavos easily picked up on the foriegn beetle woman’s caginess, “I am sorry for coming off so strong. I merely wanted to say this: I have brought it up to Galahad before but if you and your peers asked him, he might be willing to do a second round of dueling for his club. Otherwise, the only dueling you will see is the official tournament at the beginning of the year and sorcerers scarcely join that.”
	All four of her eyes lit up, “Truly…? Dream of fighting Lox comes true?”
	“Yes, easily. I cannot see him not participating if he was to put it together!” Xavos smiled, “Sorry, but I must move along. ‘Lox’ is waiting for me. Good day,” He gave a nod and continued down the path, using his staff as a cane. Reccoa hesitated for a moment, part of her wanting to continue practicing her spellcraft, while the rest of her wanted to follow the headmaster and catch a glimpse of the kind of training the two of them might get up to. Eventually her curiosity won and the sectare sorceress chose to follow after Headmaster Xavos.
She watched as the wizard in red entered the arena. She thought to wait for a time so as not to bump into him. After a few minutes, Reccoa quickly made her way to the door, heading inside and towards the arena’s court. She could already hear spells being flung by the two, hiding herself around the corner of the hallway. Poking her head into the main area and watching two wizards who stood on the sandy floor, “Galahad,” Xavos started as he used his staff like a walking stick, “You seem to have a penchant for lightning magic, why not practice that?”
	“I could do that,” Galahad stretched his arm and rotated it in a circle as he warmed up. It had been two weeks of being trained by the Headmaster. Classes, clubs, and council duties ate up much of the duelist’s time, but he was now feeling almost completely booked up. Xavos slung a firebolt his way, the duelist reacting instinctually, knocking it away. It hadn't taken him long to get used to the headmaster's magical signature, but every now and then Xavos would pull a new trick from his sleeve. Another firebolt fired off, followed by another. One was harder to deflect than the other, but still Galahad managed to stop the attack short. This was another of Xavos' tricks, by some means the headmaster knew how to alter his signature, making it harder to defend against so easily.
	Loxley waited for his opening, seeing it as the headmaster slung a fireball with his aim being off to the side as he slightly miscast it. The duelist grabbed the top of his staff and channeled the power into his hand. With a cry, he thrust his arm forward and shot a powerful arc of lightning from his hand. Xavos raised a hand, feeling the brunt of the attack on his palm. He raised his eyebrows as the attack continued, even increasing in strength as Glahad put even more mana into it. Xavos wove a spell and slashed through the arc with his staff, breaking Galahad’s concentration by putting him in a short feedback loop.
	“Enough,” Xavos pointed to the wall and fired out the excess mana as a stream of flames, “You are going to give me too much mana at this point. I do not enjoy mana burn.”
	“Sorry,” Galahad grumbled as he stretched again.
	Xavos waved his wand, “Here, practice your casting on these,” He conjured a trio of armored wooden mannequins. The animated wooden humanoids moved to stand in a triangle formation, the one in the front wielding a shield. The headmaster folded his arms and watched Galahad work. A powerful blast in a cone shape was slung at the mannequins. He was amazed how much mana the first year wizard had to throw around. It was akin to that which a sorcerer might have. While uncommon, it is possible for a wizard to have inherited those deep mana pools from a parent with sorcery magic. He claimed to learn from his father, Xavos recalled, a sorcerer and a wizard for parents. Though the sorcerer could be his grandparent or even great grandparent. The elder wizard stroked his beard as the younger wizard casted a few powerful magics. The thoughts of Galahad’s past would not leave Xavos’s head. 
. . . . .

	“Right this way, sir,” Sean gestured to the elder magi to follow him down the path. He still couldn’t believe it, Arthur Maxamillion in the flesh! The archmagi was much more… plain than he had anticipated. The old wizard had a trimmed white beard which tapered into a short point on his chin. His hair of similar color fell onto his shoulders from underneath his wide-brimmed, dark blue hat. His cloak matched his hat, with long, drooping sleeves that ran down either arm, “May I just say that it is an honor to have such an esteemed guest here. Not many can say they have had a visitor for whom their house is named for.”
	Arthur nodded, “The honor is all mine, Mister Reagal. Few have asked me to speak due to my wizarding knowledge and not because of my status as a hero of legend. It is quite the nice change of pace.”
	“I am told our contacts barely needed to talk you into it,” Harold chuckled as he followed along with one of Sean’s council members, “A grandmaster needs to be recognized for all the work put into his craft!”
	The grandmaster wizard smirked behind his beard, “My heart was set aflutter when the dying flames of my ego were stoked by your headmaster. Nambra’s playful teasing and praising only goes so far these days.”
	“And you didn’t even ask to be paid?” Sean wondered.
	He nodded again, “I don’t think I could spend the money I already have in three lifetimes, even with my children.”
	“How many do you have?” Harold pressed, “It seems like the amount changes from report to report.”
	“Let’s see here… those three have flown the nest, three in schools, two at home, I believe,” The wizard thought for a moment, “Seven.”
	“You listed eight, sir,” Sean hastily pointed out. He glanced over to see Harold’s mind racing.
	The elder wizard scratched his temple, “I did? I meant seven. Hard to keep track of them all. Ah! That must have been my mistake. My eldest, she has a husband you see. He has been part of the family for almost a decade now. Love him like the son I never got to have.”
	“Ah, that makes sense,” Harold sounded very disappointed, “You never had a son?”
	The wizard nodded, “Yes. In my many years with my lovely wife, we were never blessed with one,“ He sighed, “No wizarding magic aligned children either. I would have liked my own apprentice– from my bloodline, I mean. I’ve trained a few wizards in my time.”
“Uh… huh,” Sean furrowed his brow at the grandmaster’s rambling. 
	“I hear an abjurationist won your duels, is this true, Sean? Someone from your house?” Arthur asked.
	“Well," Sean chuckled, "While he did not win the duels, he did defeat Harold, the reigning champ. Broke his arm doing so and I hear some consider him the true winner, so I am not surprised you heard that. Though he is quite proficient in abjuration, Galahad is not in my house,” Sean explained, “He’s working on a metallurgy mastery of all things.”
	“Galahad… Galahad…” Arthur repeated as if tasting the name on his tongue.
Harold watched him closely, looking for changes on the wizard's face, “His last name is Loxley. Have you heard of such a house before?”
	The elder abjurationist stroked his long beard, “I cannot say I have. Someone else’s parents had a penchant for Arthurian names, it seems.”
	“Well, perhaps the sight of him may clue you in, I think I see him in that crowd over there,” Harold pointed to a group around a small tree next to the path. 
	A gnomish woman was pointing up the tree and speaking frantically to Galahad. The wizard looked up and frowned. He cast a spell to summon his fat rat familiar who, with surprising speed, climbed the smooth tree as the wizard looked through his eyes. There was a spectral looking squirrel hanging out on a leafless branch, “Yeah it looks like your familiar is up there. Why a squirrel, Suzie?”
	“I-I dunno, they’re like cuter rats! Fluffy and spry!” The gnome explained with a very sad look on her face, “Steve is already running away from me…”
	“You need a firmer grasp on it,” Rald explained with Manus and Fredrik nodding in agreement. Blud stared at the tree as Reccoa futilely attempted to climb the smooth bark. There were no low branches for the tall beetle woman to grasp.
	“A wandering mind cannot control a familiar,” Manus explained, “I unfortunately have too much on my mind to maintain one.”
	“Manus, can you transmute my hands into something grippy?” Galahad asked, “I should be able to climb up and grab it.”
	“Can’t she just de-summon it?” Blud asked.
	The duelist shook his head, “It’s outside of her control range, and even if it was it isn’t listening to her so it would still try to escape. Best thing to do is to try to trap it so she has an easier time focusing on it.”
	The group hadn’t noticed the small group of wizards standing back and observing, or so they thought. Harold felt goosebumps on his skin and a shiver down his spine as the fey-witch gave him a sideways glance before transmuting the skin of the first year. Galahad grimaced as he rubbed his now rubbery and sticky fingers against his palm, “It will pass in ten or so minutes.”
He nodded in reply, shed his robe, and slapped each onto the bark. With very little grace, Galahad managed to drag himself up the tree. His boots scraped off the bark on his way up, leaving him to pull himself up one hand after the other. It was about ten feet up to the first thick branch where the first year was able to take a break, “I never realized he was that shredded,” Blud wondered with a chuckle.
	“A good wizard needs to be strong in both body and mind,” Fredrik replied as Galahad began to climb again. Harold motioned for Sean, Arthur, him, and the few other abjuration council to move closer.
	“Why not just use a levitation spell?” Sean asked with a chuckle as the group approached the small crowd.
	“He asked for a transmutation spell. Not a levitation spell,” Manus replied, “Hello, Sean… Harold. I see your most illustrious guest has arrived.”
	Reccoa and Blud gave confused looks, “Whom’st?” The beetle woman asked.
	Rald punched her brother on the arm, “You knucklehead! That’s the most famous abjurationist to ever live!”
	“A good day to you, Grandmaster Abjurationist Arthur Maxamillion,” Fredrik gave him a grandiose bow.
	Arthur chuckled, “No need for such formalities. Though I know how futile it is to ask you to treat me as any other elder grandmaster wizard.”
	“It is not every day we are graced with the presence of a hero,” Miss Manus gave a brief curtsey, “A good day to you.”
	“Good day,” He replied, “I believe I have heard of you, the transmutation president Manus, I assume.”
	“You are correct.”
	Blud, Rald, Reccoa, and Suzie all stood around nervously, feeling quite star struck, “Is Galahad nearly done up there?” Harold wondered, feeling quite impatient.
	“Why do you care? He is retrieving a pet,” Sean shook his head and folded his arms, “Are you up to something?”
	“No, no…” Harold chuckled, “Why would you think such a thing?” Sean gave him a scowl. 
	Galahad spotted Randy the fat rat staring at the squirrel above him. He drew his holdout wand, a tiny stick with a ruby inlaid on the handle, from his pant leg. He whispered a spell to the wand, letting it shoot off an abjuration spell, catching the squirrel in a little translucent orb. It squeaked and whined as the wizard directed the orb into his hand before casting a slow fall spell on himself and leaping from the tree with Randy in his other hand, tucked under his arm. He reached the ground with a soft landing and handed the trapped squirrel over, “I’d recommend banishing it for now. Work with it again in a small, or at least confined, space.”
	“Got it,” Suzie sighed as she touched her fingertips together before swiftly parting them, causing her new familiar to be shunted into its pocket dimension.
	“Don’t look so glum, I’ll help you get it under control. Although maybe we should pick a slower form.”
	“A wonderful showing,” Arthur praised with a chuckle, “You must be Galahad, the one these two told me about.”
	“I am, sir…” Galahad trailed off, waiting for the man to introduce himself.
	“You don’t know either?” Rald balked at the first year student.
	“No need to snap at him. I am a relic of years past. I am Arthur Maxamillion, the single grandmaster of Abjuration and hero of the new world.”
	Harold was intently staring into their faces, trying to discern anything telling in their expressions. To his disappointment, nothing telling ever showed, “I am sorry, sir,” Galahad smiled, “You’re a lot… younger when depicted in the history books.”
	“As I said, a relic of a bygone era. Tell me, why did you go into transmutation when you are obviously so skilled at abjuration?” Arthur asked.
	Galahad paused for a moment, “What’s the point of getting an easy degree? Have I really toiled and struggled where my peers would if I arrive with a plethora of knowledge to ace all my classes? I want to be challenged and forced to think. It would be quite boring to take the easy path.”
	“Quite well put,” Sean nodded.
	“Yes, if only more had your mindset,” Arthur nodded before checking a pocket watch, “Goodness, I am going to be late for my talk. I know it's mostly for House Maxamillion students, but you and your friends are welcome to attend. I am sure there will be more than enough room.”
	“I would be delighted to,” Galahad gave the old man a smile, “Is anyone else interested?”
	“Aye,” Fredrik and Suzie nodded quickly.
	Miss Manus eyed her duelist, “I will attend. I must say, your application of abjuration has made me curious.”
	“I wouldn’t mind tagging along,” Rald nodded.
	Blud shook his head, “I would, but we already got plans. We’ve got some cookin’ to practice. C’mon San.”
“Yessums,” The beetle woman nodded and the two waved to silently bid farewell. 
The group of transmutationists and the elder abjurationist all began to head to the speaking hall. Harold turned to step away, “Harold?” Sean folded his arms, “Where are you going?”
	“Well,” The disappointed evocationist folded his arms, “I have something to take care of as well. Enjoy the talk, Sean.”
	“Ah… I see. Goodbye, friend,” Sean nodded and caught up with the group.
	Harold scowled, feeling like he had hit another dead end. It was time for another approach.

. . . . .

	The auditorium for Arthur's talk was filled with abjurationists and those of the Seeker's House aspiring to become such wizards themselves. Many had come wanting to learn from the grandmaster, while others wanted to hear stories from his time as a hero. The wizened grandmaster cleared his throat before he began.
	“Sometimes I wonder if things would have been different had I gone to a college of the arcane arts,” Grandmaster Arthur Maxamillion said as he stood on the stage before a wooden podium. On the stage with him was Dean Zuccarius and Kal Spellbreaker, the abjuration house headmaster, “While I am grateful to have been taught as an apprentice, part of me thinks I would have learned better from a professor. My mentor, Master Delliorise, may he rest in peace, was a strange one…”
	Sean Reagal sat in the front row, slowly adjusting his blue tie as he began to think. Harold seemed to be acting quite strange, then again he had been since his loss in the arena. The president of House Maxamillion couldn’t help but let the brain worm creep in that his friend, if he really was his friend, had only set up this talk to somehow get to Galahad. It sounded insane in his head, what could he possibly gain from doing such a thing? But even so, Harold’s strange, intense look had been obvious to Sean, but what was he getting at? It didn’t add up to the president.
	“Of course,” Arthur coughed and straightened his old body up, “Abjuration is a wonderful school. You focus on the defense of those around you, and yourself should you need it. You protect those in need, defeat opponents in a non-lethal manner, and so on. It is about the preservation of everything…”
	Sean glanced to his right. Galahad and friends sat to his right in a row. The first year watched the talk with great interest along with President Manus and Fredrik. The gnome– Suzie, he recalled, and the goblin he had not yet been introduced to, were passing papers back and forth. Notes? Sean wondered. Maybe they were attempting to delve into the greater meaning of the grand master’s words? Sean was too distracted to attempt to discern the notes. The distraction was… the goblin, of all things, her lips were curled in an unusual way. It reminded Sean of his mother’s familiar, a marvelous short haired cat. The happy look it always gave him was most akin to the goblin’s face. Sean put a hand on his head. Nostalgia? No, that’s not what made his heart flutter. Perchance he needed to be introduced to her after the speech. But… would that be weird? Sean slumped in his chair.
	“I admire each and every one of you,” Arthur smiled behind his silvery beard, “Honestly. You have the opportunity of a lifetime!”
	Sean glanced over at the goblin again. The only person between him and her was the gnome, Suzie. 
	“Although I love my expertise and encourage you to delve into it, please do not limit yourself. Simply knowing one school does not make a great wizard. Conjuration…” As the wizard summoned a snow white ferret, the room “oohed” and “aahed.” 
	The young president glanced over again. They were none the wiser about his peering. He folded his arms and jumped at the thunderous applause that broke out as Arthur’s speech ended. Sean glanced over at the two and leaned close, “What did he say at the end? Unfortunately I was… distracted.”
	The goblin woman smirked, “He went through a few schools of magic: conjuration, evocation, and enchantment.”
“Then he said ‘thanks for listening to me ramble,’ and said he’d stick around for a meet and greet,” Suzie continued with a shrug.
	Sean nodded, “That is just like him,” He sighed, “Thank you, Suzie and… I’m afraid I haven’t met you, miss.”
	The goblin smiled, her cat-like mouth’s corners rising, “Rald Raxpadalia. You’re Sean, right? The president of abjuration?”
	“Yes, I am,” He chuckled as the two rose to follow the rest of the transmutation house, “Well… uh, nice to meet you. If you need anything, feel free to let me know.”
	“Uh, sure. Thanks,” Rald gave him a confused look but thought nothing more of it as the group left.
	Sean stayed in his seat with a smile on his face, watching the younger members of his house crowd around Arthur for the chance to ask him a question or get him to sign something. He nodded, proud of himself for how smoothly he had gotten introduced to the goblin.

. . . . .

	The lonely trudge through the snow felt cold to Miss Manus. Not because of the chilly wind blowing snow into her face, no, it was because she made the trek by herself. For once, all of her colleagues said they needed to attend to something. Even Galahad was occupied with his own personal matters, whatever they may be. The witch gripped her hat and stepped across campus. The snow did little to slow her down as she stepped on top of it. As a fey, she willed herself to not sink down into the powdery, cold white as she hurried to her house where their week three meeting was taking place. With a sigh, she pushed the door to her dorm open. She was glad to be ahead with her classes now, but a little disappointed with her council mates’ sudden strangeness. Her eyes scanned the room to see her council members sitting in the corner with numerous stacks of pizza boxes near them. A few Karak-Albrac students grabbed slices before heading back to their dorms or upstairs. 
	“Are you sure you’re fine staying here?” Suzie asked, turning to Todd.
	The mono-eye nodded slowly, “Someone has to watch the place. And I hate the train…”
	“Aye, the young ones might need it,” Holmit grumbled and folded his arms.
	Fredrik tapped the keyboard on his silvery shelled laptop before nodding his golden, mask-obstructed head, “Done. We are set. Tickets and lodging. Is Miss President–” He turned to the door to see Manus brushing the snow from her fluffy robes, “Ah, Miss President is… here,” He closed the laptop slowly and rested his finger-interlocked hands on the table. The rest of the council all turned to their president.
	“Good evening, Miss Manus,” Galahad called as the witch slowly made her way to the table, “We picked up some pizzas for the house if you want… any…” He trailed off as he saw her eyebrows were furrowed in a glare under her hat. 
	“You five have been going under my nose for a week or more now. Do not assume I do not see nor hear you plotting,” The uncharacteristic anger in Miss Manus’s voice made her council paralyzed with fear, “As your president I will not demand to know what you are up to,” The anger was wiped from her face almost as quickly as it came, replaced by an immeasurable sadness, “But as your friend, know that I am hurt you would all act so underhandedly. I believe I will cancel today’s meeting and retire for the night.”
	“Manus, wait!” Suzie gripped the edge of the table as she looked to her other council members, “I don’t think we can wait any longer, guys. We’ll all wake up as toads and cats if we keep this up,” Her voice was full of regret.
	Fredrik nodded and cleared his throat, “Miss President, from me and the rest of your council, we would like to present you a gift.”
	“A… a gift? Is that what this has been about?” Manus gave her a look.
	Galahad nodded as he grabbed Fredrik’s laptop and opened it up, “I’m truly very sorry, Miss Manus. This was all my idea. I just wanted us to do something nice for you in your last year at Fairgarland,” He turned the screen around for her.
	Manus approached the table. As she gazed at the glowing screen, pictures of a serene landscape appeared. Rolling hills, tall pine trees created a secluded area, and a mountain range made for a gorgeous backdrop. And like icing on the cake, snow covered the land. The next screen she was shown was of a cozy looking cabin with a fireplace inside. Three rooms, a fireplace, a dining table, full kitchen, and even a sauna and hot tub, “We hope it is to your liking,” Fredrik sat back in his chair. Even if she couldn’t see them, Manus knew his nervous eyes were on her. 
	Miss Manus looked at all of them, “You all went out of your way to plan a getaway for me? For us? And you kept it a secret?” She chuckled to herself as she took her hat off and rubbed her forehead.
	“Yeah… do you hate it?” Suzie frowned, “Do you hate us?”
	“Of course I do not,” Manus assured her as she took her seat, “I was beginning to worry you were having thoughts of supplanting me.”
	“Never would we dare!” Holmit cried out, “In another circumstance, I would have been offended. Worse than if you had lopped my beard off!”
	“I didn’t think that was possible,” Suzie jested, “So, what’aya say, Manus?” 
	The fey witch sighed, “Yes. I must admit had you pulled this last year I might not have accepted, but I am open to new experiences.”
	“Wonderful!” Fredrik sighed with relief and clasped his hands together, “To clue you in, we will take a train out west to the mountains. From there we will load into a rental truck or two and drive to the cabin. A wonderful Christmas Vacation awaits us!”
	“Oh! We should set up a secret Santa!” Suzie proposed, “What’s Christmas without a gift or two?”
	“Good idea,” Galahad nodded, “Maybe we should figure that out later. Manus, what was on the agenda for tonight?”
	“First off… I could use a slice of pepperoni. Next, we have the opportunity to have a guest speaker. Do we know who we would like to invite?”

. . . . .

	Catherine Blanchet, the campus night security had finished her third circuit of her patrol route that night already. The gargoyle looked at her badge for a moment before sticking it back onto her puffy vest right side up. The freezing air of night threatened to put icicles on her exposed wings, forcing her to wear the wings like a cloak to keep herself and her wings warm under another, much thicker cloak. There were a few thoughts in her head of knitting some kind of wing-sweater to keep them warm, but then how would she fly with it on? It would be much too thick and heavy. Her wary eyes glanced back and forth, the lights lining the path only offering so much vision in the snowy fog. 
	A noise behind her made her jump and draw her spear. She waited for a moment, trying to discern the threat. Once more, it was just snow being knocked out of a tree and landing in the grass. The gargoyle huffed and straightened her back. She scanned the foggy area around the dorm towers and nodded. There was a group of three next to the necromancy dorm, each smoking from a pipe but Catherine decided to leave them be. Although it was late, there really wasn't a rule against being out. 
	From the labs came a small contingent from Frtiz'Eleo, each one grumbling about the cold and being out so late as they held their alchemy projects close to keep it or themselves warm. The gargoyle nodded as she passed them, turning back to make sure there wasn't some kind of altercation with the necromancy students. 
	She continued south to the southern part of campus, past the labs and boarding school to where the snow had been fashioned into snowmen by the younger students. Balls of snow gained more mass as the snow kept coming down on them. The gargoyle's eyes scanned the woods beyond. Off limits to the younger wizards, but some of the college aged men and women would go out there to practice. Catherine would be lying to herself if she denied that some of the younger students went out too, for whatever reasons they had. Love or a test of courage or some such nonsense.
	Catherine's ears twitched again. Her hands went for her polearm as her eyes began to dart back and forth. The lights lining the path went out and the gargoyle took a defensive stance. A light crackling gave away the position of her first attacker. A bolt of lightning shot toward her, easily blocked as her wing turned to stone. There was another attack, the hurtling of a few stones at her which were easily batted aside with the other wing. Third was a blinding light, illuminating the gargoyle and stunning her for a moment.
	"Wait! Wait!" A voice cried.
	"I-is that the night watch?" Another gasped.
	"We have a night watch?"
	Catherine squinted her eyes, "Kill that damn light!" She barked. In a moment it was off and the overhead lights came back on. Four figures timidly stepped into the light. A cat person, a human, and two goblins, “What are the four of you doing?” She scrutinized the human woman a little more closely, “You, you’re that journalist! Don’t tell me you dragged these three into some crazy scheme.”
	The four looked nervously at one another for a moment, "Well," Sophia cleared her throat, "It's not really a scheme this time."
	"Yeah!" Carly nodded furiously, "We're the ABUG!"
	"The… a boog?" The gargoyle gave her a blank look.
	"The Anti Butcher Union Group!" The journalist declared, "We're hot on that killer's trail, oh he's gonna get his and I'll get my killer story!"
	Blud put his head in his hands, "Did you have to let EVERY cat out of the bag!? How do we know she ISN'T the killer!?"
	"What the blazes are you talking about?" Catherine barked, "Butcher? Killer? Are you– oh, hell, you all bought into those rumors of the cloaked figure at night."
	"They're not rumors!" Rald protested, "We've seen him! All four of us! He's real and soaked in blood!"
	Catherine shook her head, "I've heard students report it, but I'm out here almost every night and I have never seen it. It's just a prank, an illusion maybe. You know how that imp loves her tricks."
	"Yes, but–"
	"Enough. To bed. All of you. For all I know, you're the ones being reported by the students. Skulkin' around at night… butcher… pssh.”
	Carly glared at the gargoyle but Sophia gripped her forearm, "Drop it. It's time to turn in."
	"... Fine…"
	"Let's get you two home," The cat witch snapped her fingers, dispelling the black coloring illusion from everyone's cloaks.
	"I don't care if you four are out at night," Cathedice added as she put her polearm away, "I just don't want y'all causin' trouble. Understood?"
	"Crystal clear," Rald nodded.
	Cathedice nodded, watching until a bright green spell enveloped the four, making them disappear. The gargoyle sighed and continued with her patrol.
	A few moments passed after she walked away, the four members of the Anti Butcher Union Group reappeared where they had seemingly teleported from. Blud crossed his arms and looked to the others, "Gotta be more careful about who we ambush."
	“And who we cross at night,” Rald added.
	"Carly, you should be our identifier," Sophia proposed, “You’ve got a good eye.”
	“Aye-aye,” The journalist nodded, feeling quite good after the compliment, “Shall we return to our positions?”
	“Yeah, try not to fall asleep this time, Rald,” Blud teased as he went to his position.
	“Shut up…”

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