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Parvenu 3:


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Chapter 10

Paul was anxious as he hurried down the hallway.

He had the feeling that he might be approached by someone from his Augury class or worse, be summoned to the office.

As he entered the 'Health and Healing' classroom, he was surprised to find only eight desks.

"Paul Darroch?" A young man asked as Paul entered.

"Yes sir." Paul said nervously.

The man smiled at the response, then said, "You don't have to call me sir. I'm just a teacher's assistant. You can call me Mike. I'm here to watch over the class since Dr. Williams was called away on an emergency."

"Oh. Okay." Paul stammered, then cautiously asked, "Should I just take a seat?"

"Dr. Williams asked me to give you a textbook and tell you to study the first two chapters. You may use the study area at the back of the room. I'll stop by and check on you once I've given the rest of the class their assignments." Mike said as he handed Paul a textbook.

"Thanks." Paul said quietly, then went to the back of the room.

* * * * *

Although Paul could clearly hear Mike giving instructions to the rest of the class, he wasn't too distracted by it. The textbook that he had been given was fascinating. The first chapter contained pictures and descriptions of a variety of different beings, some common, some bizarre. The descriptions focused on the general anatomy and physiology as well as warnings about vulnerabilities.

"Mr. Darroch, welcome to my class." Dr. Williams said from right behind Paul, causing him to jump.

"Would you come with me to my office for a moment? I have something that I'd like to discuss with you and I wouldn't want to disturb the rest of the class."

"Yes sir." Paul said as he closed his book and gathered up his backpack.

Dr. Williams led their way out of the classroom.

* * * * *

Paul was silent as they left the 'witch' part of the school.

He did his best to hold on to Mrs Adkins' words of assurance, but they didn't seem to be helping him very much.

After walking into his office, Dr. Williams stood aside and gestured for Paul to continue on into the room.

Paul walked to Dr. Williams' desk, then waited for Dr. Williams to be seated before taking his own seat.

"It seems that you had a bit of unpleasantness in class today."

"Yes sir."

"I understand that Katherine's condition has something to do with a protection spell that you cast." Dr. Williams said slowly.

"Yes sir." Paul reluctantly agreed.

"Paul, can you tell me why you cast that spell? Have you been having some sort of a problem?"

"I'm not going to name any names, but a certain person approached me and tried to 'recruit' me to be a follower of them and their cause. When I refused their kind offer, I was told in so many words that I would regret my decision. After that, I decided that I needed to take reasonable precautions to protect myself." Paul said carefully.

"The question as to whether or not your precautions are reasonable has yet to be determined." Dr. Williams said simply.

"It may seem harsh the way it turned out, but I'm new here. Without knowing what they might try to do to attack me all I could really do is try to be as prepared as possible."

"But having such a spell in place could create a hazard all its own."

"It's not like someone accidentally bumped into me or their hand slipped and the drink they were holding just happened to slosh in my direction. There is no gray area here. That girl, Katie or Katherine or whatever her name is, made a choice. She chose to cast a spell and she chose to direct it at me. If I didn't have a protection spell, something would have happened to me, everyone would have laughed, no one would admit to knowing who did it, and it would officially mark open season on the new guy."

"I know you have no reason to believe me, but I assure you that we're usually better than this. We try to pay special attention to new students to see that they aren't having any problems acclimating." Dr. Williams said quietly.

"Everyone I've talked to has told me what a great school this is and how I don't have to worry about gangs or bullies here. I guess that my being here seems to have stirred something up. I believe you when you say it's not typical."

"Are you sure that you wouldn't like to officially identify the person who is behind all of this? It may only be a matter of them needing some individual attention or counselling to make things better for you, as well as for them." Dr. Williams suggested.

"Do you know what class was going on when all this happened?"

"It was Augury, wasn't it?"

"That's right. And even though it's my first day in the class, I still got one tiny peek at the future. I won't be naming any names because I've seen how their story ends. I don't know what leads them to that point in their life, but I want no part of it. You don't have to worry. I'm not going to seek revenge. I happen to know that if things are left as they are, justice will take care of itself."

"I don't happen to have a gift for divining future events. But from what I understand of that discipline, with every choice that is made in the here and now, the future changes. If what you saw was some distant event, that future may already not be possible." Dr. Williams carefully explained.

"That really doesn't change anything as far as I'm concerned. To me, it happened, or... it will happen. Either way, I've already experienced the emotional impact of it. All I need to know right now is if I'm going to be expelled or suspended for using magic against another student." Paul said seriously.

"That isn't for me to decide. I actually just brought you in here to see if you were having trouble so I could offer to help you. I think that since Mrs. Bright hasn't summoned you to her office that maybe you aren't in as much trouble as you think you are." Dr. Williams finished with a weak smile.

"Thank you for wanting to help." Paul said sincerely, then continued, "And to tell you the truth, up to now everything's been great. I've made some really good friends and for the first time in my life I feel like I'm actually good at something... well, lots of things, really."

"I'm glad to hear that."

"I hope what just happened doesn't change everything. I really like it here. I want to keep liking it."

"If I'm reading the situation right, I would guess that things might be tense with certain people for a day or two, but over time those tensions will ease. If nothing new comes along to stir things up, I imagine that it will all be mostly forgotten by the middle of next week." Dr. Williams said consideringly.

A knock on the door interrupted any further conversation.

"Yes?" Dr. Williams called in response.

Janice poked her head in the door and quietly said, "Excuse me Dr. Williams, but Mike told me that you had taken Paul out of class. Marsha would like to talk to him for a few minutes, if he's available."

"Yes. I think we're finished here." Dr. Williams said calmly.

"Paul? Would you mind coming with me?" Janice asked hopefully.

"Sure." Paul said reluctantly.

"Please try not to worry. Marsha just wants to ask you a few questions about what happened in Augury class earlier, to get your side of the story." Janice tried to assure him.

"Okay." Paul said as he joined her at the door.

"Paul." Dr. Williams said to gain his attention.


"When you get the chance, be sure to review the first two chapters of your textbook. In future lessons we will be studying the physiology and characteristics of the various beings described there. That overview should be all that you'll need to prepare you for upcoming classes."

"Yes sir. Thank you." Paul said before following Janice out the door.

* * * * *

Janice led Paul to Marsha's office, then left them alone.

"Please sit down. Don't worry. You aren't in any trouble." Marsha assured him.

Paul wasn't sure that he believed her, but did as he was told.

"According to what Mrs. Adkins said, you cast a spell on yourself to protect you from magical attacks, is that right?" Marsha asked seriously.

"Yes Ma'am." Paul said uncomfortably.

"Can you tell me why you felt the need to do that?"

"Because when I wouldn't submit to the demands of one of my classmates, I thought that they might try to use magic against me to get revenge."

"Is that what you believe happened to cause the incident today?"

"I guess so. I've never even met that girl who tried to use magic on me, so the only reason I can think of that she'd try to do something to me would be because she was trying to make me sorry for refusing to join their clique."

"I notice that you're being very careful not to name names."

"Yeah. Me attacking them, even if it's through you, will only come back on me that much worse. If I don't point any fingers, maybe this will all eventually go away."

"You don't have to bother with hiding their identities. I know about Carla and those who choose to follow her. Certain weak willed people like Katie are drawn to Carla's supposed strength and will do whatever they're told in hopes of being elevated in their group hierarchy."

Paul nodded, easily accepting her assessment.

"From what Mrs. Adkins told me, you rather... flamboyantly told the class that any further attacks against you would be repelled in an equally brutal fashion." Marsha said slowly.

"If they don't attack me, they don't have anything to worry about." Paul said simply.

"I suppose that's true, but what concerns me is that the spell you're using appears to be quite powerful and should, by all rights, be well beyond your ability. Not only are you new to magic, but even an experienced witch your age would be unlikely to be able to cast a spell of this level."

"What about a demon my age?" Paul asked simply.

"Since demons typically aren't born... and don't die... the concept of age has little meaning to them." Marsha said uncomfortably.

"You know what I mean." Paul said with a reluctant smile.

"Yes. I do." Marsha confirmed, then waited expectantly.

"When I realized that there were people who might try to attack me with magic, I got worried that I didn't know how to defend myself. All of a sudden, I just knew the protection spell. I've heard that demons don't use spell books, so I've just been figuring that I knew the spell that I needed to know when I needed to know it. The reason the spell is so strong is because I called upon the forces of hell to power it. I can channel that type of magic easier than natural magic, so it's the best way for me to use a powerful spell."

"Exactly which hell do you derive power from?" Marsha asked cautiously.

"All of them... well, that's not exactly true. It's something like a collection of all the hell dimensions that are within my reach. It's not like I tap into The Meayithan Realm or Vrezixus and drain their magic for my spells. I just pull a little magic from the dark realm in general."

"You certainly seem to have learned quite a bit about the hell dimension." Marsha said warily.

"It comes with my specialty." Paul said with a shrug.

Marsha smiled despite herself and finally said, "I suppose it does."

"Anyway, I didn't attack anyone. I didn't mean to hurt anyone. If it was up to me, we'd all get along and no one would get hurt... ever. But since reality won't bow down to me and give in to my demands, I guess the next best thing for me to do is let people know that I won't let them beat up on me. Hopefully, that'll be enough to stop them from trying."

"Hopefully." Marsha parroted.

"Is that Katie girl going to be okay?" Paul hesitantly asked.

"I've been assured that she will be."

"Do you have any idea of what she was trying to do to me?"

"The most common name for the spell is 'Push'. It's akin to walking up to someone and bumping into them unexpectedly from behind, throwing them off balance."

"So it's not that different from public school after all." Paul said wearily.

"Perhaps it isn't, but we strive for it to be." Marsha told him honestly.

Paul nodded, then asked, "So what do you want for me to do now? If I remove my protection spell, every witch in the place is going to do their best to take me down."

"I'm not going to ask you to be defenseless. I'm only asking that you do what you can to minimize the violence." Marsha said carefully.

"Do you think that there's something more that I could have done?" Paul asked curiously.

"Considering that it was an unprovoked attack against you, I can't see any fault in your actions or decisions. I'm just saying that as things move forward, try to consider what impact your future actions might have on you and the people around you."

"I'll do my best, but so far I've just been reacting to what's been done to me. I'm not planning on going after 'revenge' or anything like that. But that won't stop anyone else from coming after me if they think I somehow caused all this and hurt their friend."

"I know. I'll keep that in mind as we move forward. Since Carla and her other followers haven't taken any action against you, I can't see that me getting directly involved will serve any purpose. Don't be surprised if in the next few days your teachers make a point of reiterating the school's policies on harassment and bullying, but beyond that, it's just going to be a matter of waiting for what's going to happen next." Marsha said frankly.

"If they can't attack me, they might decide to go after my friends." Paul said simply.

"Can I assume that your friends are students who have been attending this school for some time?"

"Mostly, yeah. But I've also got one non witch friend who sits with us at lunch. If they decide to go after him, he'd be completely defenseless." Paul said anxiously.

"If that were to happen, the consequences would be severe, to say the least. While squabbles amongst the magical students are somewhat tolerated, in hopes that the parties involved will resolve the matters and grow from the experience, attacks against non magical people are another matter entirely."

"Is there anything we can do to protect Curtis? I don't want to have to wait for him to be hurt before we do anything to help him."

"Curtis Bryan?"

"I don't know his last name, but he just started here this school year."

"Yes. That's him. A very nice young man, as I recall." Marsha said as she wrote a note to herself, then continued, "I will alert the staff to be on the lookout for any signs of harassment toward him."

"Thank you. He's a really good guy and I wouldn't want for him to get hurt."

"It's good to know that you have non magical friends. People who choose to isolate themselves from the non magical world inevitably end up missing out on the variety which is the spice of life."

"Is that why we have witches and non magical people going to the same school?" Paul asked curiously.

"That's one reason. It's also to allow young witches to become accustomed to sharing space with non magical people. Remaining completely isolated from them can lead to a variety of problems, not the least of which is not knowing how to control oneself in their company."

"I guess it's easier for me since I grew up as a non witch..." Paul was saying as the bell rang.

Paul looked at Marsha curiously, waiting to be told what to do next.

"Go to your next class. Just remember that you can come to me if you're having a problem or would just like to talk to someone."

"Thank you. I will." Paul said before hurrying out of the office.

* * * * *

As Paul rushed into his Basic Magic class, he noticed a few of the other students looking at him warily.

               'I never wanted to be thought of as a badass.'

               'But regardless of what I wanted, it looks like that's what some people are going to think of me.'

               'I wonder if other badasses are the same way.'

               'How many of them are really nice people who've just gotten a reputation?'

               'I wonder if they're happy being seen as badasses...'

               '...or just lonely, doing what they have to do to keep the reputation that defines them?'

"Paul! What the hell happened in Augury?" A boy asked as he rushed to Paul's side.

"I was attacked and my self defense spell deflected it." Paul said warily.

"Yeah. I know that. But what caused it? I can't see Carla attacking someone unless she gets something out of it."

"She wanted me to join her... group. I guess that when I said no, she must have decided to prove to me that I needed her and her minions for protection."

"Yeah. That sounds about right. And with as powerful as you are, I can see why she'd want you on her side... or under her control." The boy said thoughtfully.

"I don't think that she knew anything about my power. I'm pretty sure that it's my adopted dad's money and influence that got her interested. Me being his new son makes me an easy target." Paul said frankly, then cautiously asked, "Have we met? Because if we did, I don't remember your name."

"Oh, sorry. I guess because I knew your name I kinda figured that you'd know mine. I'm Kinney."

"I'm Paul... But you knew that. Um, I hate to be rude, but I've got a project to work on with Filipe and we don't have a lot of time."

"Yeah. I've got stuff to do too. I was just curious about why Carla was after you."

"I guess she takes it personally when she can't bag her intended prey." Paul said as he started walking away.

"Yep. Sounds right." Kinney chuckled as he started to move off in another direction.

* * * * *

"I'm glad you're here! They were talking about you in my last class. They said that you took on Carla and then you got into trouble because of it." Filipe said quickly as Paul approached.

"Yeah. Well, don't believe everything you hear." Paul said wearily, then asked, "Are you ready to work on our spell?"

"Yeah. I brought four batteries. I hope that's enough." Filipe said as he indicated a box on their work table.

Paul stepped closer and was surprised to see four enormous lantern batteries.

"If we can't make it work, it won't be because of the batteries. These are great." Paul assured him.

"What else do we still need?" Filipe asked anxiously.

"You said that you understand thaumaturgy, didn't you?"

"Yeah. Well, I'm learning it. But I know the basics."

"That should be enough. I think that I've figured out how to make everything else work, but I don't know how to convert natural energy into magical energy. If you can manage that part, I think that between us that we'll be able to do the rest."

"I've got the spells, but I haven't used them before. I'm not sure how they'll work."

"Don't worry. It's the same with me. All of this is just my best guess."

"Where do we start?"

Before Paul could answer, Mrs. Cualla called the class to order and asked everyone to take their seats.

* * * * *

Mrs. Cualla spoke for a few minutes about general magical theory, then gave an example with a very simple spell that could be used to remove spots or stains on clothing.

Paul was amazed by the simplicity and elegance of the spell and was certain that he would have many opportunities to make use of it.

Once Mrs. Cualla was done with her lecture, she directed the students to go to their work areas and continue with their ongoing projects.

"Can I see your spell diagram? I didn't get a good look at it before." Paul asked hopefully.

"Yeah. You can have this one. I have about a dozen copies."

"Thanks." Paul said gratefully, then continued, "Let me tell you what I came up with so you can let me know if it's not going to work for some reason."

"Yeah. Okay."

"I think that first, we'll need to change the properties of the charm to make it capable of holding a charge."

"That sounds right, but how will we do that?"

"With Alchemy. I have a spell in mind for it, but we're also going to need a quartz crystal for that part and I don't have one."

"That's no problem. Mrs. Cualla has a ton of quartz in the supply room."

"Good. The next thing will be to charge it. For that we're going to need your Thaumaturgy spell and the batteries that you brought. Do you have everything else that you'll need for that?"

"I'll need the words, the charm, the batteries, the diagram and... either some candles at the key points or a brazier of flame to power it. I have the spell diagram in my book, but I don't have a copy of it. It might take a while to draw it out. It's kinda complicated." Filipe said as he scooted the book to where Paul could see it.

After a moment of looking over the thaumaturgy diagram, Paul slowly said, "Don't worry about it now. I think we can manage it."

"Good. What's next?"

"All that's left will be to cast the prosperity spell. You've already got the words, the diagram and the charm. All we'll have to do is cast the spell and with any luck it'll hold."

"So after all of that, we're just missing the quartz, right?"


"Okay. I'll go get it."

* * * * *

"So, have you come across a spell to enchant Filipe's charm?" Mrs. Cualla asked as she approached.

"If there's one spell that can do it, we haven't been able to find it. But we've come up with three spells that might be able to make it happen." Paul said honestly.

"Is this okay? I found one that's a cluster of crystals." Filipe asked hopefully.

"That should be just what we need." Paul assured him.

"Are you ready to try your spells right now?" Mrs. Cualla asked curiously.

"Yeah. I think we have everything." Paul said, then looked at Filipe to see if he might have thought of anything that they might be missing.

"I guess we can try. But I'm not sure where to start." Filipe said honestly.

"We'll start with the Alchemy." Paul announced as a circle of golden light appeared on the table in front of him. Within the circle was the outline of a blue square made up of four smaller squares.

"That's a very efficient and elegant method for drawing a spell diagram." Mrs. Cualla said appreciatively.

"Yeah. It's just Wizard's lights." Paul said simply.

Filipe looked carefully at the diagram for a moment before quietly saying, "All I've learned in Alchemy so far is theory so I don't even know where to begin with this."

"Yeah. Well I don't know a lot about it either, but so far I've been able to make it do what I need it to." Paul said in concentration.

"So, what do we have to do next?" Filipe asked curiously.

"Hold on. Something's not right. I'm not really good with natural magic to begin with and for the spell I'm trying to use, it's not only natural, but it's a pure element. I think I'm going to need some kind of a conduit to be able to channel the power." Paul said with difficulty.

"What element are you attempting to use?" Mrs. Cualla asked curiously.

"Water, for its conductivity." Paul said simply.

"Give me a moment, I may be able to help." Mrs. Cualla said as she walked back to her desk.

She returned a moment later with a stick, or more accurately, a wand.

"See if this doesn't give you better access to the power you're seeking to use." Mrs. Cualla said as she presented the wand to Paul.

As he took the wand in his hand, he made a conscious effort to channel the elemental essence of water. He was surprised to find how comfortably the power came to him.

"Thank you Mrs. Cualla. I think this should work." Paul said with a smile.

"One of the things that you will learn in this class is that some basic tools have an inherent nature within them, the nature of the rowan wand is to channel elemental magic." Mrs. Cualla explained.

"Okay. Filipe, go ahead and put the quartz in one quadrant of the diagram and the charm in the diagonal quadrant. The quartz is going to become like earth while the charm becomes like water. When they're in those base elemental states, I should be able to transfer properties from one to the other." Paul explained as he waited for Filipe to put everything into place.

"So rather than using quartz for a charm, you're going to transfer the most desirable properties of quartz into the charm by way of Alchemy?" Mrs. Cualla asked to confirm.

"Yeah. That's okay, isn't it?" Paul asked cautiously.

"Yes. I think that's lovely. You've encountered a problem and found a way to overcome it. What more could a teacher ask? Proceed."

"Um, okay. I'm going to have to do this the fast way or we won't have time to do all three spells. So all I'm doing is adding the spells into the diagram for what I need each of the elements to do. Earth and water are going to act as conduits while fire and air are going to act as boundaries." Paul explained as four balls of fire appeared, one at each corner of the square.

"Wait. That's not right." Paul said slowly.

"I can get you some candles if that will be easier. I know right where they are." Filipe quickly offered.

"No. It's not the candles, it's the flame. This spell is based in water, the flame works against it." Paul said thoughtfully.

"Do you need for me to get four glasses of water to put around the diagram?" Filipe asked cautiously.

"Let me try this first." Paul said, then internally melded the natural version of his fire spell with the primary essence of his alchemy spell.

The result was four small fountains of water hovering over the four corners of the diagram, looking almost like flames.

"That's an interesting effect." Mrs. Cualla said slowly.

"It's kind of a power suck, so I'm going to need to hurry and get this done." Paul said as he gripped the rowan wand tightly in his hand. "I call upon the essence of nature, Cernunnos lend power to this my spell. Water into Earth, Earth into Water, two become one. That which Water has alone, now so does Earth. That which Earth possesses, now so does Water. Let it be that when the one becomes two, that both retain the memory of what it was to be more. Let them retain the capacity and the will. So shall it be by my command."

As Mrs. Cualla and Filipe watched, the quartz crystal and small plastic charm dissolved and merged into each other for a moment before returning to their former states.

Paul waved the wand over the spell diagram and it vanished, along with his flames of water.

"That took a lot more magic than I was expecting. Thank you Mrs. Cualla, I couldn't have done it without your wand." Paul said gratefully.

"It was a pleasure to see such an inspired use of it." Mrs. Cualla said frankly.

"Okay, we don't have a lot of time. Filipe, you're going to have to do this next part. I don't know anything about your thaumaturgy stuff, but at least I can help you out a little." Paul said as a new spell diagram appeared. This time it was a golden circle surrounding the outline of a red triangle. Every character and detail from Filipe's book was included.

"Go ahead and get your spell together and I'll get the batteries." Paul said as he moved the cluster of quartz crystals out of the way.

"Oh, yeah." Filipe said distractedly, then got another book from his backpack.

After placing the batteries and the charm where they needed to be, Paul hesitantly asked, "Is this right?"

"Yes. But the spell that I'm using is to convert the power from the batteries into magical energy which will be stored in the charm. To do that, we're going to need an outside source of energy to fuel the conversion." Filipe warned him.

"Don't worry. I may not be good with water but I've got fire to spare." Paul said as three larger than average fireballs lit simultaneously at the corners of the triangle.

"Can you add the symbols to the diagram, like you did for yours?" Filipe asked hopefully.

"Yeah. If you can show me what I'm adding." Paul easily agreed.

Filipe scooted the book where he could better see it.

"So all I have to change is the source to be the batteries and the vessel to be the charm, right?"

"Yes. Everything else should be exactly the same."

"Okay. I can do that."

Within a few seconds, areas of text began to fill the spell diagram.

"Is that everything? Are you ready?" Paul asked curiously.

"Yes. Thank you Paul. You've made this a lot easier for me."

"No problem." Paul said with a smile.

Filipe began to slowly and clearly cast the spell. Although Paul had a passing familiarity with the language, he didn't have the same familiarity with the style of magic. He imagined that what he was experiencing might be what it's like for non wizards to watch someone performing wizardry.

When Filipe was done with his spellcasting, he went silent for a moment before cautiously asking, "Do you think it worked?"

"Let's turn it loose and see."

"How do you mean?"

"If what we both did worked, then this thing is like a fully charged magical battery now, right?"

"Yeah. I guess so."

"So why not hook a wizard's light into it and see if it'll power it?"

"I have no idea how you'd do that... or if it's even possible."

"I've deconstructed the Wizard's Light spell, so I know it inside and out. Watch this." Paul said, then focused his attention on the charm.

The momentary flash of light that followed not only proved that the charm was indeed storing a charge, but it also managed to temporarily blind everyone in the classroom.

"I think it worked." Paul said as he slowly blinked his eyes, trying to get some measure of his vision to return.

"If I hook the prosperity spell into that, we'll all be buried in money." Filipe said as he, too, tried to clear his vision.

"We'll have to be sure that there's a limit built into the spell, otherwise it will use all the magical energy at once and burn itself out."

"Do you know how to do that?"

"Yeah. I'm pretty good at tweaking basic properties. As long as I can get some sense of what the spell is trying to do, I can probably make an adjustment... that is, when I can see to read again. That was BRIGHT!"

"I'm starting to be able to see again, but I still can't read."

"Yeah. I'm almost there too." Paul said, then thought to ask, "How are you, Mrs. Cualla?"

"Nearly back to normal." She responded, sounding to be cheerful. "You certainly have proven that your spells thus far have worked."

"Yes Ma'am. But that doesn't really count for much unless we can get the spell to stick to the charm." Paul said honestly.

"I'm quite interested to see what you're able to come up with. Whether you succeed or not, I will call this exercise a success for what the two of you have been able to accomplish by combining your efforts. It's really quite inspiring."

"I think I can see enough to cast the spell. Do you want to look this over to see if we have a control already in place?" Filipe asked hopefully as he handed a book to Paul.

After a moment of reading, Paul cautiously asked, "What's this?"

"The binding spell."

"We can't control the power usage through the binding. We have to do it from inside the prosperity spell."

"But there aren't any magic limitations in the prosperity spell. The binding spell has everything to do with the flow of magical powers."

"Exactly. The binding just connects the prosperity spell to the magic. Even though there might be a way to regulate it from there, it would be a weak link that would be likely to fail over time. If you build the power limitation into the base prosperity spell, then it's always there, for as long as the spell exists."

"Paul is correct in his reasoning." Mrs. Cualla added simply.

"Okay. Here's the prosperity spell. I don't have a clue where you'll want to add in the limitation, so you'll probably have to do it on your own." Filipe said apologetically as he handed Paul another book.

"This isn't bad. I can make sense of it." Paul said as he read through the magical text.

Filipe waited anxiously for Paul to confirm that he could do it.

A movement out of the corner of his eye caused Filipe to look at where the triangular diagram had been. In its place was a glowing recreation of the charm pentagram. As Paul read, glowing text appeared within one of the segments of the star.

"That's got it." Paul said happily as he looked up from the book.

"You've already put the limitation in?" Filipe asked cautiously.

"Yeah. The way the binding spell is written sounds kind of like your Thaumaturgy thing. I really don't know anything about that, so it'll be better if you do it. If you'll do that, I'll do the prosperity spell. I understand it well enough and I know where the limitation is incorporated."

Filipe glanced at the clock, then quickly said, "Time is running out, so if we're going to do it, it has to be right now."

"Give me your book. I need to transfer the text into the spell diagram."

Filipe did so, then verified that the charm was located in the middle of the pentagram.

Before his eyes, the text of the binding spell filled another of the sections of the diagram.

"I'll start, but you can jump in after I'm done with the first paragraph." Paul said, then before Filipe could respond, five balls of fire appeared as Paul started speaking the text of the prosperity spell.

Filipe was flustered for a moment by the abrupt action, but was prepared to proceed when it was time.

Mrs. Cualla watched and listened as the two boys simultaneously worked to cast their individual spells.

At a certain point during the spellcasting, Paul reached out and touched each of the five points of the pentagram, invoking their functions.

Paul's casting finished first, but Filipe was only a moment behind him.

"Did it work?" Filipe asked cautiously.

"I can think of one way to find out..." Paul began to say, but was interrupted.

"Don't blind me again. I'm going to need to be able to see to find my way to the lunchroom." Filipe said in a slightly begging tone.

Paul smiled, then said, "We can both see the spells within actively charmed items. Let's see if we've got one here."

"What? Oh, right. Yeah!" Filipe said as he turned his attention toward the small plastic 'corn on the cob'.

Paul looked at the charm that they had created and his eyes nearly burned at the sight. "Next time, we might want to try a double A battery."

"May I assume that means that you're able to confirm that the item has been enchanted?" Mrs. Cualla asked curiously.

'Yes Ma'am. But I don't think I'd want to touch it. That thing is kind of... scary." Paul said slowly.

"Yeah. I think we used too much power... like, way too much." Filipe confirmed.

"So you believe the charm that you've created is something dangerous?" Mrs. Cualla asked to confirm.

Paul looked to Filipe and they came to silent agreement between them before answering in unison, "Yes Ma'am."

"Then I believe that we should put this away someplace safe." Mrs. Cualla said before walking away.

"Do you think that thing would really hurt us if we touched it?" Filipe asked quietly.

"I think it would consume us." Paul said honestly.

Mrs. Cualla walked back to them with a small ornate chest.

Filipe and Paul watched as Mrs. Cualla spoke a brief incantation and the charm levitated itself into the beautifully crafted box.

As she closed the lid, she quietly said, "You've both done exceptionally well on this exercise. Now, take what you've learned and see if you can't use that to make another charm, one that isn't quite so dangerous."

"Yes Ma'am." Paul and Filipe responded in unison just as the bell rang.

* * * * *

As Paul and Filipe left the classroom, Paul quickly said, "My family is having a cookout this weekend and it'd be great if you could come over."

"You're inviting me to your house?"

"Yeah. My parents wanted to do something this weekend and asked me if I wanted to invite someone from school. If you want to go, we're going to be leaving from our house at noon on Saturday." Paul hurried to explain.

"My host parents are really... um, careful about me. They feel responsible for keeping me safe. They might not want me going over to someone's house who they don't know." Filipe said uncomfortably.

"Oh, yeah. My parents said that you and your whole family are invited. My mom and I just moved here a few weeks ago, I'm at school all day and I get to meet new people all the time but she doesn't get out of the house much, so it would be really great if your family went with us."

"I don't know if they'd want to or if they have other plans." Filipe said uncertainly.

"That's fine. If they decide that they'd like to go, you can be at my house on Saturday... do you know where it is?"

"Everyone knows where it is." Filipe said frankly.

Paul nodded slowly, he had kind of suspected that.

As they approached the entrance to the non magical part of the school, Paul quickly added, "I forgot to tell you that we'll also be inviting some non magical people to the cookout. I don't know how your host family feels about that, but I figured that you'd need to know about it going in."

"I don't think they'll have a problem but it's good to know that before we get there." Filipe said thoughtfully.

"Paul! Over here!" A voice called.

After a glance, Paul turned to Filipe and quietly asked, "Would you like to sit with us at lunch?"

"Stevie's going to expect me to sit with her." Filipe said regretfully.

Paul nodded as he and Filipe walked over to where G was waiting for them.

"G, this is Filipe. He's my teammate in Basic Magic."

"It's nice to meet you Filipe. Did Paul already invite you over to the house this weekend?"

"Yeah. I don't know if my host family will want to." Filipe immediately answered.

"Well, I hope you can make it. My dad's great at cookouts. We'll have a lot of fun."

When G said that, Paul quickly added, "And if any of you play a musical instrument, bring them along."

"That really does sound like it's going to be a lot of fun." Filipe said honestly.

"Thanks for waiting." Vinda called out as she and Nazzy approached.

"Nazzy and Vinda, this is Paul's teammate, Filipe. We were just trying to convince him to come to the cookout this weekend." G announced.

"You really should go. D's cookouts are epic!" Vinda said happily.

"And you'll never taste better bar-b-que in your life." Nazzy added.

"You're all going to be there?" Filipe asked curiously.

"Yeah. It's just us and our parents, so far. We're still going to invite a few more people." Paul confirmed.

"I'll see if my host family is interested. It sounds like it's going to be fun." Filipe said sincerely.

"There he is!" Nazzy announced, drawing everyone's attention.

"Well, now that Curtis is here, we can go have our lunch." Nazzy said, then started walking, not waiting to see if the others were going to follow.

"Curtis is a non witch." Paul whispered to Filipe as discretely as possible.

As Curtis approached, Paul continued, "Curtis, this is Filipe, he's from one of my other classes."

"It's nice to meet you." Curtis said automatically.

"Let's talk on the way." G said as he started walking.

Paul noticed that Nazzy had slowed down and was looking back at them urgently.

"I was just telling Filipe that we're going to be having a cookout at my house this weekend and my parents wanted for me to invite some friends over." Paul said to Curtis as they walked.

"It sounds like it's going to be fun." Filipe interjected.

"So if you and your family aren't doing anything, we'll be leaving from my house at noon on Saturday. We're going to be having a cookout and if you or your family play any kind of musical instruments, bring them along." Paul said pleasantly.

"I don't know... we never go anywhere." Curtis stammered.

"Just ask them. If you show up, I know that we'll all have a good time. If you don't, no one will be upset about it or anything." Paul said easily.

"And all of us are going to be there." Filipe added, then quickly amended, "At least, I'll be there if I can talk my host family into it."

"If they have other plans that don't have to include you, they could drop you off." G said from nearby.

"And all of you are going to be there?" Curtis asked slowly.

"Yeah. Barring unforeseen circumstances." Paul confirmed.

"Do you smell that? I think they're having roast beef!" Nazzy said happily.

"I'm guessing that's a good thing." Paul said slowly.

"Nazzy loves the roast beef that they serve here." G said with a grin at his friend.

Paul saw a flash of red out of the corner of his eye and quickly said, "Go on. I'll catch up to you. I've got someone else to invite."

The others watched as Paul dashed away.

* * * * *

"Dex! Do you have a minute?"

"What do you want?"

"To invite you over to our house on Saturday. We're going to be having a cookout and our parents asked us to invite a few friends."


"Yeah. I know that you probably won't want to, but I just wanted to make sure that you know that you and your family are invited. If you decide to go, we'll be leaving from our house on Saturday at noon."

"No. But thank you for the invitation."

"That's okay. But if you change your mind, just show up on Saturday before noon. If you're there, you'll be welcome, if you're not, no big deal."

"Thank you."

"Oh, yeah. If you do decide to come with us, make sure that you bring any musical instruments that you play. We're all going to be doing that. And the other thing is, we'll be inviting some non magical people to the cookout too, so be sure to let your parents know about that."

"You're inviting non magical people? Why?"

"Because they're our friends. Well, Curtis is our friend, so him and his family are invited."

"You're having a gathering and you're inviting non witches... and you're going to play music?"

"Yeah. And we'll probably eat too much and talk and maybe even do silly stupid things, just because we can. I don't know for sure. This will be my first real cookout." Paul said honestly.

"I'll think about it, okay?" Dex said quietly.

"That's great! I hope you'll come." Paul said happily, then thought to add, "You can sit with us if you want. We still have room at our table."

"No, I..." Dex began to say, then seemed to change his mind. "Do you think anyone will mind?"

"I can't see why they would. Come on. I've heard that the roast beef is really good. I can't wait to try it." Paul said as he indicated the serving line ahead of them.

Dex silently followed and appeared to be on the verge of a panic attack.

* * * * *

As Paul and Dex were leaving the serving line, Paul quickly whispered, "Curtis is a non witch, so no magic talk at the table. Okay?"

"That won't be a problem." Dex said anxiously, but seemed to be a little calmer than before.

Paul led the way to the table and said, "Hi Karras. How are you doing today?"

"Everything's fine so far."

"Stevie knows where I am, so I can eat with you." Filipe said as he hurried to take a place at the table.

Paul smiled, then said to the group, "For anyone who hasn't met him, this is Dex. He rides the school van home with me and G."

"It's nice to meet you Dex. I've seen you around, but I don't think that we've met before." Filipe said pleasantly.

"Dex, this is Filipe, Nazzy, Vinda, Curtis, Karras and of course, you already know G." Paul said as he indicated each in turn.

"Hi." Dex whispered.

"So, did Paul already invite you to the cookout?" G asked curiously.

"Yes. I said that I'd think about it." Dex quietly mumbled.

"You should go. D's bar-b-que ribs are legendary." Nazzy said enthusiastically.

"And if you don't like meat, he has a lot of other foods that you'll enjoy." Vinda helpfully added.

Dex nodded that he had heard, either due to his shyness or his mouthful of food.

"So are you new here too?" Curtis asked Dex curiously.

"No. I've been here forever." Dex quietly admitted.

"Yeah. Dex has been going to school with me and Nazzy and Vinda since we were all little kids, but we've never really talked before. I'm not sure why." G confirmed.

"I think it just works out that way sometimes. We have different interests and stuff and there's never been a reason for us to get to know each other." Vinda said thoughtfully.

"I guess so." G easily agreed, then said to Dex, "Well, I'm glad that you're here with us now. Hopefully you'll decide to go with us this weekend and you'll have a good time."

"Do you play a musical instrument?" Nazzy asked curiously.

"Yes. The violin." Dex said quietly.

"Really? That'll be great! I hope you can make it!" G said enthusiastically.

Paul smiled lovingly at G, appreciating his unbridled emotionalism.

There was a long moment of silence as everyone concentrated on their meals until it was broken by Nazzy saying, "If no one else is going to say it, I'll just ask. Paul, did you really hit a girl and get sent to the office today?"

Paul looked up with surprise and had to swallow before responding, "How did you know about that?"

"Everyone knows about it. So, is it true?"

"A girl named Katie or something like that tried to 'accidentally' push me and knock me off balance. But when she did, she went off balance instead and hit her head. The teacher was there and saw everything. I didn't get into trouble, but I had to go to the office to tell my side of the story."

"You weren't hurt, were you?" G asked with concern.

"No. If she hadn't fallen down, I probably wouldn't have noticed anything. I was talking to Arjun at the time and I didn't even know that she was there."

"So you're not in trouble?" G asked to confirm.

"No. Everyone I talked to just wanted to be sure that I wasn't having too many problems fitting in here." Paul told his concerned friends honestly.

"If they have any doubts, they should just look at who you have lunch with. That should prove that you're doing alright." Karras said frankly.

"Unless they see us as bad influences or something." Nazzy added helpfully.

Paul looked from Dex to Filipe, then to Karras before saying, "I seriously doubt that they'll worry about you corrupting me."

"How did your trip to the bank go, Curtis?" Nazzy asked curiously.

"I did like you said and paid attention and even asked a question. I don't know if I really learned that much, but the teacher seemed really impressed that I was interested at all."

"If that's all you got out of it, then I'd still call it a success. When the teachers get the idea that you're paying attention, they'll usually go out of their way to see that you get the most out of their classes."

"What about you, Paul? Did you volunteer for any more big projects?" Vinda asked teasingly.

"I didn't exactly volunteer. But because of the project that Filipe and I presented today, we're going to get to work on a bigger and better one, using what we learned on this one." Paul said carefully.

"What kind of a project is it?" Curtis asked curiously.

"It's kind of like a smartphone app. It was a good idea and the teacher thought we accomplished a lot with it, but if anyone ever actually installed the thing, it would probably blow up their phone." Paul finished with a shrug.

"You've got a class where you develop smartphone apps? How can I get into that?" Curtis asked hopefully.

"I don't know if you can. You probably have to have good grades in a lot of other classes before they'll let you in. But if you're really interested, either talk to your teachers or someone in the admin office. If they know that you're interested, they'll bend over backward to make sure that you can take the classes that you need, to learn 'real world' skills." G said frankly.

"This is so new to me. The schools I went to before just taught us a bunch of useless stuff because it was required. Here, not only do they teach us stuff that we'll actually use, but they also try to teach us stuff that we have a talent for and that we're interested in." Curtis said thoughtfully.

"I guess that's why they can charge the big bucks." G said frankly, then quickly added, "It's about that time."

Paul looked down at his plate and was surprised to realize that during their conversation, he had finished his meal. He had a vague notion that the roast beef had been good, but he couldn't remember anything about the food beyond that.

"Everyone, remember that we'll be leaving from our house at noon on Saturday. If anyone doesn't know where that is, just ask and I'll be happy to give you directions. Remember to bring your musical instruments and maybe a jacket, in case it decides to turn cold or windy before we're finished." G said to the entire group.

"Everyone here is invited?" Curtis asked as he looked around.

"Yes. You, your parents and any other family that's in town." G confirmed, looking at Vinda as he said the last bit.

"You've gotta figure that with so many people, you won't have to worry about your parents being able to find someone to talk to. It's not like they'll be sitting on a park bench watching you 'play'. It will be something for them to do as much as for us." Paul added.

"Yeah. I think I'll be able to talk them into it." Curtis said thoughtfully.

"We'd better go. The bell's going to ring soon." G said as he stood.

"Just so there's no doubt in anyone's mind, all of you are invited to keep having lunch with us if you want to. If you don't want to, that's fine. We won't hate you or anything. But if you want to, you'll be welcome." Paul said as he looked around the group and made a point of focusing on Dex.

* * * * *

When they walked out of the lunchroom, Curtis was the first to break away from the group. Once they were in the magical hallway, Dex and Filipe were next to depart, going off in the same general direction. G was the last to go. He made a point of giving Paul a firm kiss and a whispered, "I love you." before he also went on his way.

"Are you really okay?" Nazzy asked Paul with concern.

"Yeah. I'm just not used to having people hating me and wanting to hurt me. I'm more used to being ignored." Paul said frankly.

"Do you want to go back to the way things were?" Karras asked curiously.

"No." Paul answered immediately, then thought that he should explain, "Even if there were a way that I could go back, I'm not the same person that I was before. Being here and doing all of this has changed me. The person that I am today couldn't go back and live the life of the person that I used to be."

"I'm guessing that you're not talking about the magic." Vinda said quietly.

"No. Think about how I was at lunch just now, when there wasn't any magic being used or even discussed. I'm a lot different than I was when I first met you two." Paul said seriously.

"I guess you are." Vinda said slowly.

"Do you like who you've become?" Nazzy asked curiously.

"So far, I think I like who I'm becoming." Paul answered thoughtfully.

"Me too." Nazzy said simply, then thought to add, "And don't get hung up on missing who you used to be. He's still here too. I see him sometimes, in the in-between moments."

Although Paul wasn't entirely sure what that meant, he was willing to accept the truth of it.

* * * * *

Once they were inside the Wizardry classroom, Nazzy and Vinda continued on to the other side of the room while Karras lagged behind a little.

"You're the only you that I've ever known. Just in case you're wondering or worried about it, I think you're okay."

"Thanks. I needed to hear that. With everyone telling me how great I'm doing at combining all the little beginner spells, on top of me being adopted by a rich and powerful guy, it'd be really easy for me to become an arrogant asshole. I'd really appreciate it if you'd warn me if you see that I'm starting to buy into all of that."

"I'm surprised that you'd ask me when you already have such good friends who care so much about you." Karras said frankly.

"Yeah. Well, I care about them too. But since they've seen how I was, it seems to me that they might get caught up in the 'amazing transformation' of Paul. The reality is that I'm just adapting to a bunch of new circumstances. I haven't done anything more amazing than learn how to use the new tools that I've been given. And those are the same tools that just about everyone else could also use if they ever really thought about it."

"Good afternoon." Professor Ortega said as he walked into the classroom, leading a procession of teachers.

"Given the fine job that everyone's been doing, it was my thought that we might take some time to focus on precision and fine tuning. Although a spell may execute properly and produce the desired result, that doesn't necessarily mean that it was performed as well as it could have been.

"Today I would like it if all of you, in your individual projects, would pay extra attention to the details of your spells and diagrams. Do your best to elevate them from a 'competent casting' to an 'art'. If you have a favorite spell, take the time to give it polish and finesse.

"Be prepared to demonstrate your spells not only before your classmates, but also before a group of wizards who understand the nuances of what you are doing and give them something to appreciate.

"Now go and work on your individual projects and I will circulate amongst you. Try to remember that you are not only learning how to harness incredible powers, but also that you are becoming masters of a craft. You have a right to be proud. Carry yourselves with dignity and self-confidence. From what all of you have demonstrated thus far, you've earned that right. Good afternoon." Professor Ortega said to the assembled wizardry students.

               'Regardless of how smart or powerful Professor Ortega is, he's also incredibly inspiring.'

               'Just listening to him makes me want to do my best work.'

               'Even if he didn't have any magical ability at all, I'd want to listen to him and make him proud.'

               'After all the years and all the schools that I've been through, I've finally met a teacher.'

* * * * *

As Paul walked into their study room, he noticed that Nicholas and Amelia were at their cabinets, gathering their supplies.

Rather than doing the entire spell to summon his familiars internally, Paul decided that he would follow Professor Ortega's advice and do the long version.

Paul sat cross-legged and took in a deep cleansing breath.

After slowly releasing it, he calmly looked over the expanse of empty floor before him, raised his arms and spread them wide as he internally called upon the proper summoning diagram with his Wizard's light.

The pentagram appeared in sharp glowing detail.

Paul took a moment to look it over, making an extra effort to see that nothing was being wasted. Every line and symbol was in its proper place and each performed a specific function.

Satisfied that his spell diagram was as near to perfection as he could make it, Paul then called upon the fireballs to serve as candles. He used Ginh Zah's hellish version of the fire spell, since the conduit he was trying to establish created a gateway to hell.

Although the fireballs appeared to be virtually the same as the 'natural' fireballs that Mr. Gilbert had taught him, the magic that created them and the magical energy they in turn provided had a distinctly 'hellish' flavor.

Paul noticed another demonic influence nearby and realized that it was coming from his backpack.

He moved away from his summoning diagram for a moment to discover the source of demonic magical energy.

As soon as he touched the skaalix, he knew that he had found what he was looking for.

Paul set his backpack aside and took the skaalix back to his diagram.

He once again sat cross-legged as he held the skaalix in his cupped hands.

Although the skaalix was created from natural materials, it's design was of infernal origin and Paul's alterations had made it even closer to its demonic counterpart.

Paul could feel the demonic power coursing through him as he channeled demonic energy from the skaalix, through himself, and into the spell.

The flow of demonic energy once again reminded Paul of what Dr. Williams had told him on his first day. Different magic responded to different emotional states.

In a voice that might easily be misconstrued as anger, Paul began to speak aloud the words of his spell.

"The time has come.

"Follow my voice.

"Your master summons you.

"Come to me now."

Rather than a grayish blur in the center of the summoning diagram, this time an actual visible opening appeared. The manifestation of the vortex was an interruption in their dimension.

Mah Zah and Ginh Zah both came walking through and looked around curiously.

Paul smiled at their appearance, then noticed that Nicholas, Amelia and Mr. Gilbert were all watching him carefully.

"What I have opened, I now close." Paul said as he concentrated his power and watched the intrusion of a foreign reality collapse in upon itself.

"What I have closed, I now seal." Paul continued, mostly for form's sake.

"Expertly done." Mr. Gilbert said appreciatively.

"Thank you." Paul said as the balls of fire and spell diagram disappeared.

"The refinements that you've made look very professional. May I assume that you're doing so in preparation for giving a demonstration to the greater class tomorrow?" Mr. Gilbert asked hopefully.

"No. Not exactly. I'm planning to do a presentation, but I'll be doing something else. I guess I was just inspired by Professor Ortega's speech and decided that I wanted to do Mah Zah and Ginh Zah's summoning spell a little bit more formally." Paul said as he set the skaalix aside and proceeded to cuddle his demons.

"What's that you've got there?" Mr. Gilbert asked as he looked at the skaalix on the floor.

"It's a skaalix. I needed a divination tool in Augury class and ended up with this." Paul said simply.

"Is it real?" Mr. Gilbert asked slowly.

"Are you asking if it exists?" Paul asked slowly, honestly not understanding Mr. Gilbert's intended meaning.

"No. I mean, is it authentic?" Mr. Gilbert asked as he knelt beside Paul to look at the skaalix more closely.

"It's a replica. It didn't work when I found it, but Mrs. Cualla let me make a few changes to it so that it would work." Paul said cautiously, mostly due to Mr. Gilbert's strange fascination.

"May I touch it?" Mr. Gilbert asked slowly.

"Sure. Go ahead." Paul said as he perched Ginh Zah on his right shoulder.

"Do you realize what this represents?" Mr. Gilbert asked slowly as he stared at the motionless device.

"As far as I know, it's just a toy." Paul said honestly.

"The movements of this device are intended to represent the interactions of the known realms." Mr. Gilbert said quietly, then carefully brushed one of the inner spheres through the cutouts to set the device into motion.

"So, it's like a hellish model of the solar system?" Paul guessed.

"Not precisely. I'd liken it more to the models that were created to predict the movements of the planets and constellations in relation to the Earth." Mr. Gilbert said quietly as he studied the device.

"So... what? Does it have some kind of a use besides being a toy?" Paul asked cautiously.

"In the realm where it was created, it might be used to predict the ebb and flow of powers... much like what you're learning in Astrology, except that this model probably establishes a particular hell dimension as being 'the center'."

"Right. So everything that it predicts is from the point of view of that one focal dimension and if you tried to use it anywhere else it wouldn't work?" Paul asked to confirm his understanding.

"I believe you could still use the item if you were aware of which dimension the device is configured to emulate." Mr. Gilbert said speculatively.

"Is there any way to know that?" Paul asked curiously.

"Perhaps Amelia might be able to recognize a pattern of movement and extrapolate the point of origin."

"But if I'm understanding you right, this thing will predict where different realms are and will be in relation to each other."

"Yes. That way, if you're wanting to access power from one realm or wanting to negate the effect of another, you'll be able to make such preparations in advance."

"But couldn't you also use it to pinpoint when and where another dimension will brush up against ours? I mean, it sounds to me like with this little gizmo, even a non magical person might be able to cross dimensions because they'd be able to predict where and when two dimensions would brush up against each other and temporarily intersect."

"Well that's a bit of a leap in reasoning, but I can't definitively say that it's impossible." Mr. Gilbert said slowly.

"But if I'm right, this could be a roadmap to dozens of different natural, demonic and angelic dimensions. Someone from hell, an actual demon, could travel to the natural world without a summoning spell. The most they might need would be a naturally occurring portal like a mirror or an archway."

Ginh Zah gave a chattering growl which caught Paul's attention.

"Yeah. That makes sense." Paul said slowly.

"What did she say?" Mr. Gilbert asked curiously.

"She said that because of the configuration of the skaalix, that it might be possible to focus your magic through it to use it to create a portal."

"Please try to keep in mind that this is a replica. That, in itself, might indicate that this device may not yield accurate projections."

"Yeah. But if Amelia can pinpoint which dimension this thing belongs to, then we should be able to test if it's working or not. Either the dimensions are lined up where it says they should be or they aren't." Paul said reasonably, then thought to add, "I really need to find out where Mrs. Cualla got this. I'd like to know who made it and what they pretended that it was supposed to be for."

"Did you say that you modified it from its original form?"

"Yeah. All the parts were there, but they were made of the wrong materials. I used some basic elemental manipulation to change the materials to make it so that it would work."

"If the parts were made correctly, but of the wrong materials, that might indicate that the person... or being... who crafted it might have found themselves stranded here, in our dimension, without a way to return to their own."

"And they might have thrown this thing together, using the materials that they had available, hoping that it would work well enough to get them home."

"If they were a native of a hell dimension, then they probably wouldn't have been able to construct such a thing. They would be very limited in the amount of time that they could spend incarnate on this plane of existence."

Mah Zah yipped once, then made a quiet whimper.

"Right. Mah Zah says that if they had the ability to shapeshift, that they might have been able to stay here long enough to make a skaalix."

"If they have the magical ability to shapeshift, why don't they simply perform a reverse summoning and return to their realm of origin?" Mr. Gilbert asked curiously.

Ginh Zah mewed and chattered to Paul for a moment, then scrambled down off his shoulder, digging her little claws in every step of the way.

"I'd put you down if you asked." Paul said as he clutched at the minuscule injuries.

Ginh Zah looked back at him and meowed once rather indignantly.

Mr. Gilbert waited for a moment, then hesitantly asked, "What did she say?"

"She said, 'What do you expect? I'm a demon.'"

"What's she going to do?"

"She's going to show you why demons trapped in the natural world can't reverse summon their way back home."

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes (1):

Wow, it looks as if Paul and Filipe did a very good job of combining their talents. As it often happens in the mundane world, they seem to have bitten off more than they want to try to chew.

I wonder if Carla is is going to continue her vendetta against Paul.

Paul hasn't seen much of her outside of that one class, so maybe she won't pose much of a threat the rest of the time. Let's hope nothing bad will happen to any of our friends.

Standing by for the next chapter.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

Editor's Notes (2):

Interesting, We do keep finding out new details, don't we?

I think this picnic thing on Saturday could be really special.

Paul is really able to bring people of completely different aspects together. I love the fact that his origins can let him discern that people should be able to work or play together, and not have to blow each other to bits.

I could picture him as he grows up being able to improve life in general and people's lives in specific, and to maybe help calm down some of the hatred people have for others.

I can always hope, can't I?

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher