Hey, everyone! Just wanted to update you on this part of Magic Binds.

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Previously:

Wrenching the door open, Simus laid down Delrany on the floor, yanking the blood-stained glass out of her and tossing it out of the open door before pulling it shut.

I looked around as Simus gently eased Delrany’s limp form onto a nearby cot and began to treat the wound with a healing spell. They were in a dilapidated shack, with dust and cobwebs in the corners, dirt and grime caking everything except the two living things. Spiders crawled on the walls, making homes in the many cracks in the ruined stone. Moss grew in large patches along the bare face of the wall, and a box sat in the farthest corner from the door, a wooden one falling into disrepair.

I watched as Simus finished with Delrany and walked over to the box. He, too, took in his surroundings before lifting off the rotting top with a levitating spell. He glanced inside, I with him, and he reared back in shock and disgust as a rat scampered out of the box and scurried off into a large hole in the floor a short distance away.

A horrible odor rose from the box. Holding his nose, Simus used another levitating spell to bring whatever it was out of the box, which turned out to be food so rotten I couldn’t even make out what it was. He quickly dropped it back in and turned away, disgusted.

Instead, he knelt down at the edge of the cot. “Delrany,” he whispered. “Wake up.”

He spent the night in silence.

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Now…

“What–” Delrany’s eyelids flickered in the early hours of morning. What looked like the night felt like an eternity but was actually an hour, like I was watching a film on fast-forward.

Simus pushed her back down. “Calm yourself,” he murmured. “That was quite a cut you got just to save me.”

She smiled weakly. “Anytime. I hope it wasn’t for nothing?”

“No, it wasn’t wasted,” he assured her. “I found out that the glass was cold, but the metal scaffolding underneath was melting from the heat. I’d say a fire if not for the clean glass cut halfway up.”

“A butcher’s bomb, maybe?” Delrany suggested.

“A what?”

“A butcher’s bomb,” Delrany explained. “We used it in the army. Place it beneath an object and it will slice the thing in half, at the same time blowing it up from the inside, melting anything within a 50-foot vicinity, and disintegrating anything within 5.”

“Powerful,” Simus muttered. “That just might be it.” He suddenly glanced at Delrany, surprised. “You used something that dangerous and destructive in the army?! What if someone stepped on it?!”

Delrany shrugged. “They were used as traps in our exercises. We got used to them over time.”

Simus shook his head. “With that many death traps, it’s a wonder even a few survived.”

“Oh, no,” Delrany said brightly. “They never did. Misveri and I were the only ones to survive the forest training Friday nights.”

“How can you be so positive about that?!”

She shrugged again. “It was happier dying than staying alive in those hard times. They’re having fun now away from pain, sorrow, and horror.” She sighed. “It’d be a nice place to go.”

Simus crossed to the door they had come through and opened it, peering out cautiously. “The building has stopped exploding,” he said quietly, as if afraid it would go off again at his words. “Want to go investigate? We could check out the ‘butcher’s bomb’ thing.”

“It’s just a theory, but sure. I’m all for it,” Delrany replied. She looked down at the tear in her shirt, where the glass had hurt her. Simus had healed the flesh, but he couldn’t do anything about the shirt. “Can I get a different shirt before we go, though?”

Simus turned his back while Delrany changed and instead watched the building carefully. Suddenly, he saw a swift figure dart up to the base of the ruined glass building, stooping over to pick up something and leaving just as quickly.

Delrany joined Simus at the door. “Ready?” She spoke breathlessly, as if anxious and winded about the journey ahead.  Misveri knew that they knew as well as she did that once they left the building, they’d never return to it. That run-down, dirty building was their last refuge, and was in fact their best.

Slowly, they made their way over to the building, Delrany holding up a makeshift wooden shield she had made from the box in the shack. “What do they look like?” Simus asked.

“Well, I don’t really know because I can’t see them, but I assume they look like regular bombs.”

“Thanks, that helps a lot,” Simus muttered sarcastically.

“Well, I’m sorry, but the only people who could tell you what they look like are dead or evil,” Delrany retorted.

Simus sighed. “Look, I know we’re both cranky right now, me with lack of sleep and energy-drain from magic-use, while you from your wound. Why don’t we just…stay silent?”

Instead of replying, however, Delrany straightened up and stared at the building. “Look over there,” she said slowly, pointing, “and tell me if that’s a flying chariot with golden wings pulled by two silver pegasi, or if I’m just going crazy.”

Simus glanced at her, confused. “You must be hallucinat–” he broke off as he looked at where Delrany was pointing.

For there it was, gleaming majestically. The chariot was white with a golden design and gleaming gold edges. The beautiful feathered wings were large yet elegant, shining brilliantly in the sun. The pegasi seemed to cross with unicorns, for while they were as dazzlingly silver as the moon, they also had sparkly unicorn horns atop their heads.

One of the–how would I describe it–pegaunisisicorns whinnied uneasily as Delrany stretched out a hand, abandoning the shield. “They’re so beautiful and majestic,” she whispered in awe, eyes shining.

“Delrany, maybe we shouldn’t–” Simus began, bending over to pick up the shield, but he was cut off by a slow, deep voice that he apparently knew all too well.

“There’s no need to worry.”

Simus stiffened, straightening up. I couldn’t see who had spoken, for he was seated inside the chariot, but Simus didn’t like it. He took a deep breath, an annoyed expression on his face, and called out, “NOT FUNNY.”

“Oh, sure it’s not. As if your face isn’t funny with that look on it.” The person speaking chuckled merrily.

“Simus?” Delrany asked, still petting one of the pegaunisisicorns. “Who’s speaking?”

“Oh, just an old friend,” Simus replied airily, but I could tell he was hiding something.

“An old friend?!” the voice boomed. “Oh, no, it’s been awhile since we were old friends. I haven’t forgotten what you’ve done, Simus.”

“Look, that was an accident–” Simus began.

The voice interrupted him once again. “Accident or no, I don’t forget. I came here originally to give you a message.”

“What?”

The voice attained a nasty tone. “We’ve got your cat, and you’ve got until sundown to complete my challenges, or you’ll never see that nuisance of an animal again.”

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