Multifold Manus Chapter 20

	“Die, monster! You won’t get me this time!” Blud shouted as he prepared a spell. Sean, Sophia, and Rald all did the same. 
Carly peered into the darkness, “Blud!” She shouted, making his bolt go wide, “Look closer!”
	“Huh?” The goblin carefully stepped forward, the ‘butcher’ was unmoving. The scent of burning stung his nose. With his ability to see in the dark, he could see smoke coming from the butcher. 
	“Monster?” A voice choked out as the form fell to their knees, bright orange flames wreathed around them. 
	“San!” Blud shouted as he rushed toward her, “San? What are you doing out here!?” He was careful not to touch her.
	“Blaad think I’m monster?” She sobbed, tears rolling down all four eyes.
	“No! No!” He insisted, “I thought you were someone else!” With a deep breath, the goblin reached through the fire and wrapped his arms around her neck. He grunted in pain but the shock of the hug stopped her weeping. 
Almost instantly, the flames died down and she hugged him back. The sectare woman was positively beaming from the hug, “Blaad telling truth?”
	“Yeah, I am,” He groaned, “You just spooked me.”
	“San,” Rald stepped forward, “What are you doing out here?”
	Reccoa stood, picking up Blud in her arms, her excitement still plain to see, “Hunting. Bear problem in woods. I eat.”
	Sean nodded, “So there is someone keeping the bears in check. Is this woman our killer?”
	Carly was quick to shake her head as she went through the photos she took, “This ‘San’ woman looks taller than the Butcher. She’s wider too.”
	“Not killer,” She nodded, “Just slayer of bears. Meat is good. Heard boom and ran over.”
	“Well, welcome to the ABUG,” Carly smiled, “Come on, we’re running out of time.”
	“Hold on, San, give me my brother. He’s got a few burns,” Rald said.

	The need to sneak had been tossed aside. Reccoa led the group after everyone was quickly introduced. The sectare woman was quick on her feet, briskly walking as she spoke Japanese to her now visible familiar. Blud and Rald were right behind her, they all could smell the blood in the air. The goblins had to jog to keep up with the beetle woman. Close behind was Sean, Carly, and Sophia, “She is like a bloodhound,” The president of abjuration noted, “It is extraordinary.”
	Sophia nodded, “I thought I could smell well, but her abilities are much above mine. This cold is making my nose runny and sore. Even the goblins are better off than I.”
	Sean turned to Carly and Sophia, “Do we have a plan?”
	“Smash and grab. Take the butcher dead or alive,” Carly was preparing a video camera, “And get the scoop of the century. Maybe we’ll get medals. Or better yet, I’ll get a Jerald Anderson Journalistic Award for Investigative Journalism! I’ll hit it big time! I won’t need this wizarding stuff anymore!”
	“You… have no desire to be a wizard?” Sophia was shocked, taken aback even.
	“Puh-lease, Sophia. You know I don’t stack up to people like you, or hell, even Blud and Rald. I’ve been struggling to get my general magic degree for six years,” Carly sighed dejectedly, “I never really wanted this.”
	“I… see…” Sophia pulled her hat down, “I can’t imagine living without magic.”
	“That’s because your mom is a famous wizard. You’ve probably been around it all your life. Newsflash: not all of us have magically inclined parents. I just won the lotto and got a bit of wizarding mana. Not enough to be a master, ever, but too much to not hone it. I have to supplement a lot of my downsides with tech, hence all the cameras and junk.”
	Sean frowned, “We do not see many like you at this academy. I am sorry we have been lacking on our accommodations,” He retrieved a pen and pad from his pocket, “Do you believe there is aught we can do to alleviate this issue for the future?”
	Carly sighed and chuckled, “It’s not the school, Sean. It’s me,” Sean looked dejected, clearly upset that he was unable to do anything. Regardless, he nodded and put his writing utensils away. Even if she had said it was her fault, Sean was already thinking of tutoring programs. Manus had said how good her tutoring with Galahad was going. 
	“Would you all pipe down and take this seriously? We’re after the Butcher, remember?” Rald snapped.
	“Guys!” Blud’s hushed call roused the group as the goblin waved them forward, “Look!” 
	In the distance the group of six spied a shack. The paint, once vibrant red, was peeling horribly. The windows were broken, the front door was slightly ajar, and a few drops of blood were leading into the building. Carly used her thermal camera, “I see some traces of illusion heat. This must be the place. Ready?”
	Everyone in the ABUG had different looks on their faces. Sophia and Rald were quite nervous. Blud and Sean were apprehensive, but Reccoa and Carly were much more excited than the rest thought they should be. With a few looks at one another, the group approached the shack.

	CREEEEEAK
	The door to the dilapidated shack groaned as it was gently pushed open by Carly. The frigid wind blew in behind the group, letting flakes of snow in to cover the torn apart entry mat. The scent of blood and death made the goblins’ and sectare’s stomachs rumble. Rald grimmaced, sometimes she wished she could find regular food as delectable as blood and gore, goblin instincts be damned. The group followed Carly in who was already waving a video camera around, “I am now inside the Butcher’s murder shack. If someone finds this video, show the world that I, Carly Halestorm, have found where the Butcher drags his victims.”
	Sean raised his staff, lighting up the tip with a single word of power. A light blue glow was cast over the room. There was a rocking chair in the corner, a grandfather clock that had long since stopped ticking and was covered in cobwebs, a table, and a few chairs were on the other side of the room. There was a rug on the floor that was just as deteriorated as everything else. Sophia’s ears twitched, “There’s rats all over,” She whispered as a shiver ran down her spine.
	“Rats schmats. We’ve got a killer to catch!” Blud punched the palm of his other hand, “Three doors. Let’s split up,” He decided.
	“Blud, shut up,” Rald hissed.
	“Horrible idea,” Sean scoffed.
	“We should really, really stick together,” Sophia pleaded as she closed the door behind them.
	“Sheesh, alright,” Blud sighed, “Just trying to get some levity in this musty-ass house.”
	“I stick with Blaad,” Reccoa announced.
	Rald nodded as she scooted closer to Sean, “Keep him out of trouble, please.”
	“All of you, shush,” Carly hissed, “He’ll hear us. Beetle lady, do you smell anything?”
	“Her name is San– Reccoa, Carly,” Blud grunted.
	“Does it matter!?” She gave him an exasperated look, “Just tell me where the killer is, lady!” 
	“Uhm… killing… yessums,” Reccoa blinked all four of her eyes and smelled the air, “All around us. I smell it.”
	Carly rolled her eyes, “Can it with your mysticism, sorcerer,” The journalist glanced at all three doors. Each was identical, two on the left wall and one on the right, “Here!” She grabbed the one on the right and flung it open. A horrible stench hit her nose, making her gag and retch as she struggled to get away. 
	Sophia raised her staff, quickly casting a cleansing spell to clear the stench from the air, “Delish-table!” Reccoa’s eyes grew wide as she hurried into the room, still smelling the scent over Sophia’s flowery spell.
	“San! Don’t run off!” Blud groaned as he followed her into the room. Sean and Carly plugged their nose, the scent spell doing very little to cover up the stench.
	“What is that smell?” Carly gagged as she struggled to follow the goblin and sectare.
	Rald smelled the air, “Orcish cooking. That’s why it smells like death and gore,  because that’s what it is!”
	Sean blinked slowly, “Orcs have their own cooking style?”
	Sophia’s fear was replaced with shock and confusion– at least for a moment, “Really? You don’t know about–” She shook her head, “Never mind.”
	“What do you see?” Carly asked, waving her camera around the room. 
	Reccoa and Blud were at the far corner of the dark room. It was a tiny kitchen. The oven had been ripped out, the fridge was covered in a red substance, and a cauldron sat in the middle of it, “Weird…” Carly pointed the camera right at the cauldron with a frown, “Did the Butcher boil his victims? What do you see, Blud?”
	“Orcish cooking,” He pulled the remains of a bloody, gory dish from the freezer. Somehow, it still had power, “Not really fresh.”
	“Heavy use,” Reccoa pointed to the cauldron after smelling it.
	“Ugh, just put it back,” Carly gagged, “Let’s try another door.”
	“Agreed,” Sean scowled as Sophia tried another sweet smelling spell spray that she shot all over the kitchen door after it was closed. The scent of gore was finally over powered by the smell of flowers. The group looked around, struggling to decide on which of the two to open.
“That one!” Carly grabbed the handle for the closest one and threw it open. She shrieked almost instantly as white bones tumbled, crashing at her feet. 
	“Bones?” Reccoa picked up a few and whacked them against the couch, sending dust up into the air.
	Rald picked up an arm bone. running her fingers over its dry surface, she felt something oddly bumpy, “A carving?” She grabbed the butt of Sean’s staff and turned it, lowering the bright blue bulb down to her, “A lot of carvings,” She murmured and scratched her head.
	“Not carvings,” Sean gazed at the curving, deep gouges, “Runes. Magic…” A thought flashed in his mind, “Skeletons!” He shouted.
	Just as he predicted, a full human skeleton popped out of the sea of bones. It rattled as it stepped towards Carly, wielding a rusty dagger. The journalist fell on her butt, dropping her camera from the shock. Blud was quick, shooting a small firebolt from his hand into the skeleton’s rib cage, the magic erupting from its chest and sending the bones in all directions, “You alright?” Reccoa asked as she picked Carly off the floor.
Carly snatched up her camera and held it at the ready, “I’m fine,” She got a few good shots of the bones.
The bones of the skeleton that Blud had blasted began to rattle along with every other bone. There was rattling in the walls, rattling in the floor, and rattling in the couch. The group slowly backed into the middle of the room, “Is this how we die?” Sophia mewled as she gripped her staff. She shook in her boots, struggling to squeak out a spell.
	“Like hell we will!” Blud shouted, casting a spell into his hand, ready to be unleashed.
	Rald tore her hat off, pressing her finger to the side of her head, readying her circlet as her other hand reached into her bag, fishing about and looking for something. Reccoa stood by Blud’s side, wreathing her arms in flames as she bared her fangs. Sean was calm as he prepared a few defensive spells of his own. 
	The bone pile rattled before forming into humanoids of various kinds as well as two dogs. A total of six, mostly whole skeletons with small, rusted weapons. From the couch came a tide of rodent skeletons. The floorboards came apart as the skeleton of a bear burst through. From the walls came two more skeletons, “Outnumbered,” Blud swallowed nervously, “But I won’t die so easy!” He shouted as he let off his spell, striking the chest of another skeleton with a bolt of lightning. 
	The bear skeleton reared up to strike out but its claws were deflected by a thick, semi translucent barrier. Sean reached out, through his barrier and touched the bear. Its bones glowed bright for a moment before falling apart, “Sophia!” He conjured another barrier to protect the frightened cat.
	“Th-thanks!” The cat witch furiously flipped through her spellbook, “There!” She cleared her throat and began to chant the magic incantation as two skeletons slashed at the barrier protecting her.
	Reccoa howled, her fury sprang forth before she sprayed flames at the rodents that drew near. The floorboards groaned as they ignited. Rald used her circlet to throw snow onto the flames and put them out, “Careful!”
	With a nod, the sectare woman called back, “Yessums! Very careful flames!”
	“Come forth!” Rald shouted as she tossed the summoning stone towards a skeleton. The stone burst into flames, revealing a fiery humanoid, wreathed in blinding flames. It turned to Rald, its eyes barely visible beneath the fire as it knelt before her, “Uh. Kill!” She pointed at a skeleton. The flame elemental grabbed it, charring the bones instantly and spraying some flames at another one.
	“Oh yeah, real good!” Carly encouraged the ABUG as she swung her camera at the elemental, “Keep it up, guys! Reccoa, more mice!”
	“My kill!” She cried out, spraying even more flames across the room.
	The cabin was on fire. Smoke was filling the room. The elemental continued to scatter fire about the room as well as Reccoa’s reckless abandon. Blud missed with a lightning bolt and the grandfather clock went up in flames as the cobwebs and dust ignited. Sean banished another skeleton, “We need to get out!”
	“What about the Butcher!?” Carly hollered back.
	Blud grunted, “Let ‘im burn! We’ll pull him outta the ashes of this cabin if we have to!”
	The third door flew open. A black cloaked figure gazed upon the carnage through a spooky white mask, “What are you doing!?” She screamed, pulling the earbuds from beneath her cloak. 
	“The Butcher’s a girl!?” Rald gasped. 
	“I don’t care! Stop her!” Carly shouted as Reccoa and the elemental killed the last of the skeletons, turning their bones to ash.
	A piece of the roof fell, then another, and another still, “Sophia! We need a way out!” Sean ordered as he blocked a black blast from the figure with a shield. The Butcher ran out the front door as more and more ceiling fell down. The house creaked, threatening to fall at any moment.
	“Group around me!” The cat witch hollered as her staff was raised in the air. A light encircled everyone nearby her. The group felt the air yanked from their lungs as their bodies stretched and squashed before all of them were dumped into the snow, each easily gaining their footing. The frigid air was a nice change from the heat and smoke. With a crash, the cabin fell into a pile of burning wreckage. 
	“There!” Carly pointed to a figure who was trying to catch their breath, “The Butcher!” 
	The Butcher stood and stared back at the fire, falling to his knees as if in despair. Sean hesitated, “He’s not looking like the dark killer you made him out to be, Carly.”
	“Uh,” The journalist zoomed in with her camera, “It looks like them… but…”
	Blud glared at everyone, “So? It's still the guy we’re after!”
	“Yessums!” Reccoa agreed.
	Rald tried to grab her brother, “Blud, wait!” 
	The goblin and sectare charged the Butcher, tackling him as he struggled to put up a fight against the tall beetle woman. Reccoa easily held him in a headlock, while the goblin nicked his spellcasting components, “Let me go!” The Butcher cried in a feminine voice, “You mad men! What are you doing!?”
	Sean rubbed his chin, “I know that voice. But from where?”
	Carly ran to Blud and Reccoa with the others slowly following, “Fantastic! Alright Blud, I’ve got you set up for a close up! Time for the unmasking!”
	Blud nodded and adjusted his cloak and hat, “Alright, let’s see who this monster really is,” The goblin stood on his tippy toes to reach up and slide the mask and hood off of the butcher.
	The Butcher was indeed female, making Carly gasp for dramatic effect. Her skin was ashen and her hair was black and long. Her face was gaunt, though pretty despite how bony she looked. She grit her teeth, showing some sharp fangs. Carly struggled to recognize her as she got a recording of her face, “Uh…”
	“Eldegarde Hiersing, president of House Hemlock. You look a little different without your usual magical get up. I had a difficult time identifying you,” Sean introduced the woman who was nearly in tears, “Let her go, Reccoa,” The sectare woman visibly hesitated.
	“Sean,” Eldegarde scowled, “I should have known you were the ringleader here. Come to spoil my relaxation, have you?”
	“He, uh, wasn’t,” Rald frowned, quickly speaking up, “Uh, we were. He followed along because of me. Maybe we should let her go.”
	“Why are we letting the murderer go!?” Blud shouted, “San, hold her.”
	“Murders?” Eldegarde scoffed, the offense completely obvious in her voice, “What on earth are you talking about?”
	“You know! Your victims, like uh…” Blud paused, “Carly, you were gathering info on those murders and disappearances, right?”
	“Uh,” Carly lowered the camera for bit, “I didn’t see a lot of disappearances. And no unsolved murders.”
	“We never even confirmed this?” Sophia rubbed her face.
	“So this entire chase was over nothing but a title you put on this woman?” Sean sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, “Carly…”
	She quickly got indignant, “Well, what am I supposed to think about a freaky cloaked figure covered in blood! Where did that blood come from, huh!?”
	“The orcish cooking!” Sophia snapped her fingers, “It has to be!”
	“Oh, hell, you found it,” Eldegarde groaned, “Go ahead and mock me like the rest.”
	“Mock you?” Reccoa let the president go before spinning her around and gripping her shoulders, “It smell SO GOOD!”
	“Admittedly, yeah, it did,” Blud nodded, “You’re good at it. Just let her go, San.”
	“Okay, the blood is from the cooking, but where did she get the bodies from and why?” Carly challenged.
	“The wildlife,” Eldegarde replied, “Who will miss the bears, elk, moose, or odd wolf?”
	“I… right,” Carly scratched her head, “But why are you in a shack here? And what about those skeletons?” 
	The president adjusted her cloak and glared at the journalist, “I come here to indulge in my hobbies. My house is so dull they tend to do nothing but practice their magic. So I come here to paint and cook. When it is warmer, I would garden as well. I did not hear you obliterating my sanctum because I was listening to a talk show while painting. My mistake for using earbuds in a place that is supposed to be private. The skeletons were to scare off people like you, but you destroyed all of them. I unfortunately could not even hear it while you destroyed my haven. And for what? A speculation from a sensationalist journalist?” Eldegarde wiped her eyes, “The one place where I did not have to be the scary, intimidating, president of House Hemlock. I was just… me.”
Carly was desperate to save her story, “Why did you attack us?” 
	“Attack you?” 
	“There were two times we got into altercations with you. The first time we spooked you with cameras and stuff,” Blud explained, “Then when I hit you with the bolt when we were chasing you.”
	There was a long pause, “I do recall the flashes of light, I thought it was some kind of attack. But I was not struck by you earlier.”
	“Bull! Let me see your hand,” The goblin demanded.
	Eldegarde slid up her sleeves before showing the front and back of both, “You claim to have struck my hand?”
	Blud examined both closely. The digits and palms all lacked the signs of damage. Even if she had healed herself, there would be scars, “I know we drew blood. We followed it here. Can’t ya still smell it, San?”
	San’s nostrils flared, “Nopers. Not on snow now too.”
	“Then… who was it?” Rald swallowed nervously and clung to Sean’s cloak. No one piped up as the chills started to run down their spines. 
	“Who cares. It wasn’t Eldegarde here. Probably some copy-cat,” Carly didn’t feel it. All she felt was disappointment. She frowned and made her way over to a disused fire pit. A few logs were downed near it, making for half decent seating. She brushed some snow off of a log and sat down before going through her cameras. Blud sat next to her with Reccoa next to him. Sean and Rald sat on another with Edelgarde taking the last. The house still burnt behind them. The necromancer’s fuming had turned to melancholy. 
Sean cleared his throat as he saw his fellow student’s anger, sadness, and fear, “In an effort to create some kind of peace and understanding–”
	“Sean, cut the presidential tone,” Eldegarde groaned as she dragged her hand down her staff, “I hear it enough already in our meetings,” Her skin tone turned faintly more flush and slightly less gaunt.
	“I am merely trying to placate–” Sean coughed, catching himself, “Trying to calm all our nerves through strong speech. Listen. I am deeply apologetic for what has transpired. I will not speak for these ones, but I am sure the looks on their faces say the same. If you wanted somewhere to practice your moonlighting as a chef, I could help you set something up.”
	“Oh?” The necromancer folded her arms and put her black hood up. Her eyes scanned the rest of the group, quietly deeming if they were in fact sorry or not.
	“I am proficient at creating pocket dimensions. I usually use these for storage or to create places for students to study,” He explained, “I would be more than willing to help you set one up. If I recall correctly, you know a bit of abjuration.”
	“Truly?” The president gave Sean a look before becoming more reserved, “And what would you gain from this?”
	Sean rolled his eyes, “Were you not the one who wanted to keep house politics out of this? I want nothing. I am willing to do anything to make up for this wrong doing.”
	“I shall consider it,” Eldegarde replied, her tone even now was cold and standoffish.
	“Um, I’d be willing to help too,” Rald quietly added, “I’m sure I could help make it or even furnish it. I’m envisioning it now,” The goblin used her wand to draw in the snow, “A full kitchen on the left side, a messy area for painting, and a little greenhouse on the right. Maybe a little coffee table here, one of those fold out ones so you can study there too.”
	Eldegarde’s thoughts on the matter were interrupted as Carly held up the necromancer’s mask after examining her camera, “This isn’t the same thing,” She mumbled.  
	“Pardon?” Sean folded his arms. 
	“Look, none of these shapes or colors are the same,” She held up the mask in hand, something similar to an old plague doctor’s mask, a favorite amongst necromancers. It was white and long. The mask that appeared in the photos she took after Blud struck the figure they were chasing was more off white and yellowed like a skull, a deer skull specifically, “This other mask is a lot creepier, honestly…” 
	Rald felt a chill run down her spine as she looked at the skull-mask, “T-then who is it?”
	“Hear that?” Reccoa perked up and looked east of the camp. Her voice went very low, “See that?”
	“See what?” Blud whispered back, goosebumps forming across his green skin. Everyone turned east, standing from their seats as they began to slowly back away. Everyone, even Carly could now feel it. 
	“A– a person?” Sophia mewled, hardly able to make out a figure in the trees that slowly trudged toward them.
	Eldegarde drew her staff, “That evil scent in the air, we must leave this place.”
	“Agreed,” Sean swallowed nervously, his hand that gripped his staff shook, and sweat formed on his brow.
Rald tugged his cloak, “Do something, Sean.” 
The president felt most of this worry leave his body, “Right. I-I abjure thee, beast!” He bellowed as he slammed his glowing staff into the snow. Glowing chains lashed out at the beast from illuminating runes on the snow. From the soft blue glow, it was obvious it was the deer-skull-faced creature from earlier, its limbs now chained.
	“Alright, Sean!” Blud praised as Carly snapped a photo. That praise quickly died as the beast pulled on the chain, snapping through the magical spell. Everyones’ hearts fell into their stomachs in an instant.
	“Run!” Sean ordered as everyone turned heel and sprinted into the woods. 

	The near blind dash through the woods ended as the group made it back to the lights of Fairgarland’s bright lamps. The overhead and bright yellow glow finally made them feel somewhat safe. Blud panted as he stumbled into a pile of snow. Reccoa rolled him onto his back before sitting down and leaning against the pile. Hildegarde wheezed pitifully, clearly not used to running of any kind. Sophia blubbered to herself, the tears running down her cheeks starting to freeze. Carly was immediately on her camera, staring in disbelief at the monster she had actually captured on film. Sean leaned on his staff as he caught his breath. Rald nudged the president, “Good work back there. I wish I could think of some way to thank you for all your help today,” She gave him a tired smile before coughing hard.
	“I am not sure what I did, honestly,” Sean sighed.
	“Oh, come on,” Rald punched him playfully in the hip, “Called some shots, kept us from killing Eldegarde, and, ya know, slowed down that thing in the woods.”
	The nervous president smiled back, “Thank you, Rald. If you give me such praise, I did more than I give myself credit for.”
“Oooooh,” Carly snapped a photo of the two, “Could we be looking at Fairgarland’s next pair of lovebirds?”
“And what if you are?” Sean gave her a cross look, “Hookups happen all the time. What makes mine any different? Because she is a goblin?”
Carly paused for a moment, “Because you’re a president?”
	Sophia chuckled, “Quite defensive, no? He is an abjurationist, I suppose. Maybe this would be the first story in your paper with some merit.”
	“Defensive?” Sean was taken aback as his face turned red, “I– I am merely–”
	“Sean, let it go,” Rald giggled, her face totally red, “Let’s go out to dinner sometime. Maybe I’ll find some way to repay you.”
	“Ah, well,” Sean clenched his fists, trying to withhold his excitement. The man merely nodded, “I would like that. Is everyone alright?” He asked as his chest stopped heaving from the physical exertion.
 Everyone slowly nodded as they got up, a few sets of eyes looking back into the woods, “What was it?” Sophia asked as she shuddered at the thought of it.
“Nothing good,” Eldegarde replied as she put her hood up.
“Smelled fey. Like the one Lox is in cahoots with,” Reccoa noted, “Why?” She asked no one in particular.
	Blud sat up, “I heard they eat emotions or some crap like that.”
	“They can, some do feed on emotions,” Sean nodded, “It could either be the slaughter of forest creatures, dangerous and not dangerous, or if it ventures onto the academy, it could be the dread that schooling brings as well.”
	“I only feel dread when I think of it,” Carly sighed as she looked at the photos, “I really don’t know how to present this story. The Butcher, the fey creature, everything else we did. It's… not really a story I can put in a paper.”
	“Why not?” Sophia frowned.
	“Can we go inside? It’s chilly out here,” Rald softly requested.
	"Sure, but after all we just did, you're just gonna let it all go?" Blud grumbled as the group stepped into the nearby library and sat in the cafe side. The night shift looked at them for a moment before going back to polishing glasses. The others paid them no mind.
Rald frowned, "Whatever that thing is, fey or not, it looked pretty dangerous to me. Someone could get seriously hurt!”
	Sean folded his arms, “True. That creature is much more dangerous than a bear or wolf. I will need to consult the security staff and the dean.”
	Sophia nodded, “Good idea.”
	“Even then, do you plan on publishing this, Carly?” Eldegarde hissed, “I do not want my name attached to any of these events.”
	“Right…” Carly sighed, “What am I to do with you?” She asked her notepad, completely filled with the events of her adventure. She felt a twinge of pain deep down as she considered scrapping it all. How could she? It may not have turned out how she had thought, but the experience and that fey out there were real.
	“Write a book,” Rald suddenly said with a smile, “Fully embrace the fiction you put in your articles - with bits of truth sprinkled in.”
	“Stage play? Drama group needs story,” Reccoa piped up.
	“You’re in drama?” Rald shook her head, “Look, just fully embrace your flourishing of stories.”
	“Change everyones’ names,” Sean’s stern voice made the journalist nod instinctively. 
	Slowly, Carly blinked as she considered the idea, “I see. I could change some events, move them around, keep Reccoa in the story for most of it…”
	“Maybe some romance?” Sophia suggested as her eyes glanced at Rald and Sean before going back to Carly.
	“Maybe,” The journalist rolled her eyes, “But maybe this is the best idea. Drop the story as a journalist and release it as a writer…”
"Does that mean you're giving up journalism?" Asked Rald, horrified at the idea.
"No, don't be silly, of course not. But some famous reporters have books. They may moslty be autobiographies, but still, I guess the last thing I can do is publish about the fey."
	“That isn’t necessary,” Another voice said as a tall figure strode up to the table.
	“Security guard Catherine,” Sean greeted in his usual formal way, “To what do we owe the honor?”
	“I know you were all running around in the woods, causing a ruckus,” The gargoyle explained, “You actually tried to confront it?”
	“We didn’t mean to,” Rald explained.
	“We thought it was Eldegarde here,” Blud added, “I, uh, may have injured it.”
	An old man chuckled, “You may want to leave an offering for it. Berries and meat are a good option,” The form of Dean Zuccarius had appeared, seemingly materializing behind them. The old wizard wore a pale yellow nightgown. The semi-translucence of his form made it obvious he was merely projecting a mirror image of himself.
	“Good evening, sir,” Eldegarde stood from her seat along with Sean, “What are you doing up so late?”
	Zuccarius chuckled again, “No need to worry about my sleep schedule. I will let Catherine explain.”
	The gargoyle nodded, “I overheard the goblin– I think it was Rald– telling Sean here about the situation. The description of the so-called butcher closely matched our fey friend,so I paged the one man with knowledge on it, at least the most knowledge.”
	“That figure turned out to be Eldegarde,” Sean added, “But we did have an encounter with the fey and it tried to defend itself.”
	“What is?” Reccoa demanded.
	Zuccarius cleared his throat, “A fey creature. One that is surprisingly beneficial to us. As you may have already guessed, it does indeed feed off emotions. As an emotion eater, it plays no tricks, does not get up to mischief, and scarcely is seen by the student body. Due to the dread, anger, stress, and other negative motions it is mostly exposed to, its form looks so formidable and sparks those emotions if it is encountered.”
	“So it's harmless?” Carly was scribbling in her notes.
	“Perhaps not, but it isn't malevolent. It is quite Beneficial even. Without it, the mood and ‘vibes’ around the campus would be much worse.”
	“I find that hard to imagine…” Carly grumbled.
	Blud nodded slowly, “So it's like those birds that eat bugs off of bigger creatures.”
	“Or food in croc-igator teeth!” Reccoa clenched her fists and nodded quickly. 
	“I will never understand the fey,” Sophia sighed. Eldegarde and Catherine both nodded in agreement.
	“Carly,” Zuccarius cleared his throat, “Please do not publish anything about it in your paper. The last thing we need is more students provoking the fey by invading its territory, or worse…”
	“Yes, yes, I already decided not to,” Carly sighed, “I hope this book thing works out. I can’t shake the feeling like I wasted everyones’ time.”
Sean gave her an assuring smile, “Then make sure you did not. Put the story you have gained from this to use with your book.”
	Rald nodded, “You’ve woven interesting tall tales before, just make it a very tall tale this time.”
	“And be sure to change every name,” Eldegarde sharply reminded her, “I suppose it is now time to retire.”
	“Just a moment, please, miss Hiersing,” Zuccarius gave her a look, “Just what were you doing out in the woods? What are you up to that you need to conceal yourself like that?”
	“Ah…” The necromancer paused, her face becoming slightly flushed. The ever watchful eyes of the Fairgarland Dean peered down his nose at her, his glasses reflecting her embarrassment back at her.
	Sean cleared his throat, “Merely working on her hobbies. Not very befitting of the necromancy president, I am sure you know how stoic and unfeeling they are expected to be.”
“Ah, I see,” The dean nodded with a little smile, “You are a person after all. It is only natural to pick up interests,” Eldegarde gave the dean the smallest of smiles before he cleared his throat, “I will take your word on it. Good night, all.”
	Carly cleared her throat as well, “Well, I guess I can call the final meeting of the Anti Butcher Union Group adjourned,” She stood and collected her materials, “Good night.”
	“Anti Butcher… indeed,” Zuccarius sighed wearily as his illusion vanished slowly. 
Catherine raised a hand in a goodbye wave before stepping out of the library, “Just keep out of trouble next time,” She warned them before disappearing into the cold night, leaving the group amongst thenselves
	“Hey, Carly,” Rald called, “Don’t be afraid to reach out about your book. Or just to grab a bite to eat.”
	The journalist-turned-author smiled, “Yeah. I’d like that.”
	One by one, the ex-members of the ABUG left for bed. Sophia gracefully left after yawning and stretching, having said her goodbyes. Reccoa and Blud left together with the goblin being offered a spot in her dorm room for the night. Rald and Sean were left alone, the only noise being the buzzing of the fluorescents overhead and the cafe night shift doing their cleaning duties.
Sean took a deep breath, “You should sleep as well, Rald. It’s quite late.”
The goblin gave him a cheeky little smile, “Did ya really wanna go get food some time? Or were you being nice in front of everyone?”
	The abjurationist turned red, “Well, of course I would not mind treating you to dinner. It was nice to get out tonight.”
	“Treat me? I’m supposed to be treating you for helping me!”
	Sean shook his head sternly, “What kind of man would I be if I let a woman pay for my meal? Especially after such a harrowing experience! No, Rald, I simply cannot accept. I will pay for your dinner.”
	“Damn traditionalist,” The goblin rolled her eyes, huffing as she stood up, “Fine, I’ll see you tomorrow. Unless you’re planning on going home already.” 
“Oh, of course not. I shall be going home in another day or two,” He smiled, “Have a good night.”
“G’night.”
Sean sighed happily as Rald left. He clenched his fist in victory. In the next instant he was trying to figure out what restaurant to take her to. A moment later, he realized he had no idea what she wanted to get tomorrow. After that the dread of not having her phone number set in. Sean jumped up and headed for the door, “Rald! I forgot to ask you something!” He hollered in the desolate library as he sprinted out the door into the cold moonlit night.

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