Your blog is fast becoming one of my favorite x Reader TWST romance blogs. I really like your fluffy stuff!
I see you are taking requests, so I thought I'd give you one! Imagine you've gone to the carnival with a group of your friends. You are on a ride for 2 with your crush when the ride breaks down. He can see you are getting anxious about the situation and wants to comfort you but in doing so he accidentally ends up confessing. Now what fluffy things might happen while you two are trapped together in the ride? Choose whoever you feel inspired to write about.
Thanks for your work!
Rattling the bars of my cage
This is so cute! I am dying! Okay, I decided I want to write about:
Tags: Tooth-rotting fluff, love confessions, reader's body not described and no pronouns are used for them, ask to tag for more but this is pretty tame all things considered.
Want more TWST? Here’s my masterlist!
It was a muggy summer day. Storm clouds hung in the distance of the currently sunny sky, and of course on one of the sweatiest days of the year, your friends decided that they needed to drag you along with them to the annual carnival.
You didn’t really mind, the rides were far more intense than you were used to (after all, haunted houses with real ghosts add a little extra je ne sais quoi, no?), and the food was familiar in a way that a lot of other things weren’t in Twisted Wonderland. It felt strangely homey. There were food stalls, craftsmen with all sorts of wares, and tents with different displays of collections and curiosities. Just like home.
Grim was sitting on your shoulders, stuffing cotton candy into his mouth. He had already demolished his hotdog, which was a similarly sticky mess of sauce and crumpled brioche bun. You had decided that if that little troublemaker got any treat that you gave him on your hair or clothes, you were going to put him on a diet. It made your heart warm to see how happy he was at the moment, though. His ears were perky, his pupils were blown wide, and his was surprisingly well behaved when he wasn't begging for food.
Having your first-year Heartslabyul friends with you was also a treat. The best part might just be getting to see everyone in casual clothes. Tee-shirts, jean shorts, it was funny how normal and everyday it all felt. It made you feel a little better about missing home. You all looked like people that you knew in your world for once.
When Ace had asked you to go to the carnival with him… you thought it might have been a date.
Sadly, those hopes were dashed when he immediately turned around and invited Grim and Deuce along with you both. In a moment of surprising perception, Deuce tried to get Ace to go with you alone, but Ace wasn’t having it.
The result of that conversation was that Ace had got it in his head that Deuce was afraid of thrill rides. As a result, he had been putting you all through the wringer by making you all ride everything that even had the possibility of making you scream. Except Grim. He was too short for most of the rides, that lucky cat. Even so, Grim had joined you on the most recent roller-coaster, so it was amazing that he still had an appetite at this point. Especially considering how queasy you felt from the whole ordeal.
“Okay guys, how about going on the Zipper?” Ace said with a smug grin.
You had refused to go on any rides that dropped you over and over, but that was the one thing you had been able to get Ace to agree to. Looking at the chainsaw-like row of freely swinging cages makes you feel lightheaded, but it was hard to say no to Ace when his eyes were practically sparkling at the prospect.
“Fine.” You say, pressing two fingers to your temple to ease the slight inversion headache that had been building behind your eyelids. “It’s two seats, who’s going with who?”
You could feel the motion of Grim shaking his head behind you.
“I’m gonna take my sweet time finishing this treat!” He said, taking a large mouthful of a bite of his cotton candy to demonstrate his commitment.
That big of a munch seemed a little counterproductive to his statement, but you just laughed and lowered him from your shoulders to the ground.
Deuce shook his head as well.
“I am going to see the Magical Wheel’s they have on display in the presentation tents. You guys can go ahead, I don’t want to ride by myself.” He said, starting to walk away before either you or Ace could object.
“Well… just you ‘an me then, huh?” Ace asked, eyebrow raised and hands playfully tucked behind his head. “I can’t wait to hear you scream.” He giggled.
“You’ve been hearing me scream all day today, you know?” You said with a huff, joining Ace at the end of the line for the Zipper.
You weren’t thrilled to go on another ride, but being alone with Ace for the first time today was a nice perk, even if he was using the opportunity to rag on you relentlessly.
Thankfully the line was short, so while Ace had convinced you to play red hands with him (he called it ‘turning red’ hands, for some reason?) you got to the front of the queue without getting slapped too many times.
Listening to the worker giving you brief safety instructions as you both climbed into the cage, you realized that there was nothing actually separating the seats, and that the lap bar was going to be the only thing keeping you from falling head-first any time the cage spun.
You swallowed down your nervousness again. It was going to be worth it.
Even just accidentally bumping elbows with Ace while getting in your seat had already caused your heart to race, so what’s a little more adrenaline on top of that?
“You ready, baby?” Asked Ace, ruffling your hair with his hand.
Your heart almost stopped when you heard him call you by the pet name… that is until you realized that he was calling you a baby, as-in comparing you to an actual toddler. Rude.
You took the opportunity of your close proximity to tickle Ace’s ribs in revenge, and his squeaky laughter and ‘stop stop stop’s made it worth it.
“Fine! You’re big and tough, okay? You’re not a baby, sheesh.” He said, face visibly red from the giggle fit you had just subjected him to.
You nodded at his statement in satisfaction and pretended to flex your bicep at him, causing him to start laughing again.
“Okay, very scary, very buff, thank you.” Ace said, slapping his hand on your arm and acting mockingly impressed.
Goofing off with him always made you smile. It was part of why you liked him so much. It was also part of why you were so terrified to try and tell him about your feelings. What if he didn’t reciprocate? Could you even keep having silly banters like this? The thought gave your heart an uncomfortable squeeze.
There was a creaky moan of metal, and the ride finally started moving.
Ace’s grin turned into one of twisted glee as he began rocking back and forth to make the cage start rotating forward as fast as he could make it go.
All of the cute feelings you had about brushing against him while getting into the ride were immediately overshadowed by the g-force of repeatedly being slammed against Ace's side. He was doing everything in his power to make you scream louder than you had the whole damn day.
Hazarding a look at Ace’s face, your gaze met his for a moment. His eyes were crinkled in a smile, yet there was some other sort of sickly-sweet emotion oozing just below the surface. Despite the unflattering view from both your hair and clothes wildly flailing up and down, you couldn’t help but be taken by his boyish enthusiasm.
Getting more comfortable, you started helping Ace rock the cage back and forth, getting both of you to go faster and faster as your distraught screams turned into yelps and giggles of delight. It was exhilarating, and while you had your doubts before boarding the vehicle, you really were enjoying yourself now.
That is, until that metallic creak from earlier repeated, and the wind was knocked out of your lungs by the safety bar.
Both you and Ace looked at each other in surprise and then started looking at the ground below for an answer to what just happened. You could hear the chatter of a crowd below you and the worker operating the ride said something about ‘technical difficulties’.
Oh great. You and Ace were stuck at the very top of the zipper, rocking back and forth uneasily as the rest of the ride stood eerily still. Just great.
You swallowed audibly. The ride had been fun while you were in motion, but being stuck at the top and not knowing why meant you couldn't feel anything but horribly anxious.
Ace saw that you were shaking and bit his lip. He wanted to use this ride as an excuse to tease you and keep you to himself for a bit, and now you just looked miserable and sad. Just his luck.
Ace reached out his hand and gently put in on top of yours, causing you to loosen your white knuckle grip on the safety bar in surprise. You looked over at him questioningly, and were a bit taken aback by the return of that mysterious emotion behind his eyes.
“...Sorry.” Ace muttered, squeezing your hand protectively. “I was hoping to make you scared in a fun way.” He said, lightly tracing his thumb across the skin of your knuckles.
You laughed just a little. You felt much more at ease already.
“Well maybe we can figure out another way to make me scream.” You say… before it hits you just what you had implied.
“Ah! Not like! Not-!”
Ace’s shoulders were violently shaking from laughter, and he buried his face in the hand that wasn’t covering yours. The laughs started silently, but they built into bubbling hiccups of giggles. You could feel the cage shake from Ace’s laughter, but before you could get too anxious about it again, he had stilled himself.
Ace wiped a tear from the corner of his eyes, stifling more giggles.
“That’s what I love about you, you know? You always make me laugh.”
Now it was time for Ace to take his turn in immediately regretting what he said.
“Ah! No, I um-!” Ace slapped both of his hands to hide his face, shaking his head violently from side to side.
You sat completely still in shock. Did he really mean that?
“Ahhh…” Ace was trying to will himself to make an excuse, any excuse, but he was drawing a blank. His Adam's Apple bobbed with a thick swallow, and he audibly inhaled to try and start again.
“I really wanted to confess to you at the fireworks show… actually.” He said.
Ace looked so sweet in this moment, all the facade of a smug troublemaker gone, just a boy being so hopelessly lost in his feelings that he slipped up and just laid them all out on the floor.
Your heart was drumming wildly, your mouth felt dry and (for not the first time today) you felt like fainting. Was this real?
You reached over to your arm and pinched yourself. Ace didn’t look amused.
“Are ya really gonna pinch yourself and not respond! I just-!” He was shushed by you putting a finger to his lips. Words dying on his tongue, Ace fixated on how close you were and how soft the pads of your finger felt.
“I like you. So much that it hurts.” You say, revelling in the way that Ace goes almost slack-jawed at your response.
“You like me…” He repeats, seemingly in a trance from your words. Ace leans towards you with a serious look on his face.
“Say it again.”
You smile and oblige him. “I like you.”
“I like you, Ace.”
“Who do you like?’
“Ace, I’m gonna take it back if you don’t stop.” You say with a huff, crossing your arms over your chest.
“Yeah… okay yeah, I just… I can’t believe it.” He said, running his fingers through his hair in a self-soothing motion. “Since when?”
You were getting annoyed.
“Since forever, okay? I’ve liked you a long time.” You reply, the tips of your ears burning at the admission. Why did he always make you feel like this?
“Okay. Me too.” Ace said after a long silence. His gaze flicked to your lips and back again. “Can I…?”
You nodded, leaning forward. You could feel his breath fan over your cheek, his thumb smoothing over the edge of your chin and…
A metallic groan jolted you forward yet again, and the ride lowered your car to the ground with an ancient moan. Flustered and surprised, both you and Ace jumped away from each other.
The attendant came over to let you out, and upon seeing your faces, gave an amused grin.
“Sorry about the wait! Took a while to get everyone down safely. You both go and get going, you hear?” The man said with a boisterous laugh.
Just as you were both exiting the car, the man says something you can’t quite hear to Ace, and his face splits into a grin.
“Thank you!” Ace says to the worker, grabbing your hand dragging you off in an unfamiliar direction.
You look at him questioningly, but Ace doesn’t look back.
“What did he say?” You asked, tilting your head to the side curiously.
“He told me that if we hiked to the top of that hill in the next fifteen minutes, we would get the best view of the fireworks in the whole town.” Ace replied, picking up his pace.
“Come on, let me do this whole confessing-thing right this time!”
So for context for anyone that has never seen one, I decided that Y/N and Ace went on a zipper ride! Here is a link to a video of one in action.
It’s not even that I was particularly like ‘I wanna talk about Ace’ but I just felt that this whole scenario was just too on brand for him to pass up, haha.
What did you think? I promise I will do more sexy things soon I just love the fluff too lmao
Love you, thanks for reading!
Requested tags: @readinganas, @yandere-kou, @daeda21, @buckketboy, @hxlcyon, @kxhyuns, @aikochan4859 @kumiko-desu, @ninjas-are-the-shit, @star-gods, @fragmentedstarlight, @sarahyumiko2, @rosalie-in-twisted-wonderland, @rebel-faes-writing, @witch-waycult, @naniky, @the-mermaid-of-the-stars
Epics of Ink & Light Chapter 4: Troublesome Four
Summary: In which the Golden Trio— I mean the Braincell Group is born.
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Here is a guide Minako's curse marks
Also, for the sake of this story, I'm going to say that the summoning spell, Accio, has different limits for different people. Minako's limit is that accio won't work for her unless if she sees the object she wants to summon.
◐ ━━━━━ ºoº Minako ºoº ━━━━━ ◑
Minako and Grim went back to the cafeteria after a long day to carry out their punishment. As she was spraying the tenth window in a row with cleaner, Grim, of course, chose this time to complain.
“Ugh, nothing but misery since yesterday. I can’t clean a hundred windows!”
“Excuse me, but you’ve barely cleaned a single window so far.”
Grim threw his soapy squeegee to the floor in frustration. “How long is that Ace guy going to keep us waiting?”
Minako was wondering that too. It’s been awhile and Ace hasn’t shown his face yet. Maybe he was held up by a teacher after class.
“Do you think he skipped out on us?” asked Minako. Their interaction with Ace was small, but she would sooner believe that he wouldn’t commit to the punishment.
Grim scowled. “I think he did! That’s not fair, I want to skip out too!”
“If you did that, I’m telling Crowley.”
“Hmph! Let’s go look for him. That bastard's going to pay!” Grim sped off, leaving Minako behind.
Minako dropped her cleaning supplies and ran off to catch him. “Grim, wait!” Why did he have to be so fast?
She kept an eye on Grim’s tail so as not to lose him, but it didn’t help that he was making several sharp turns down the halls. He finally stopped by a door and burst inside the classroom.
“You can’t hide from us, Ace! Where are you?” Grim yelled. His anger died down to confusion. “It’s empty?”
“That’s because classes are done for the day,” said Minako.
“I’m still here,” said a voice from above.
“God?” Minako said.
“No, I am a painting,” the voice spoke again. Looking further, there was indeed a talking painting of a pompously-dressed man in spectacles.
Grim jumped. “What the— Paintings talk?”
Minako giggled a little. “We have lots of talking paintings at Hogwarts. It’s not that weird.”
“That’s right. All portraits can talk because we have mouths,” said the gentleman in the painting.
Not necessarily in her world. Magical pictures in general can move provided that it was enchanted to. Hogwarts was filled with painted portraits to talk to. What was growing in popularity were photographs and sketches, like her own illustrations, that were incapable of communicating with onlookers.
Grim got over his initial shock. “Hey, we’re looking for someone named Ace. Do you know where he is?”
“He has messy, red hair and a heart painted on his face,” Minako described.
“Hm… a heart on his face?” The painting pondered. “Ah, I know him. I believe he’s a first year student. He’s probably on his way back to his dormitory.”
“Ugh, I knew it.” Minako’s mouth twitched in irritation.
“We better catch him! Say, which way did he go?” asked Grim.
“You can enter the dorms behind the East building. It’s the Hall of Mirrors,” the painting replied.
Minako thanked him for the help then bolted out the door with Grim. They made it to the location of the East building and, lo and behold, there was a hall of mirrors. She counted seven of them. It was largely different from the other chamber last night. The hall was full of light, there were no floating coffins, and each mirror had its own unique design to match the dorms.
If Ace was back in his dorm, they would have to find out which one he was sorted in. Easy enough, he had a heart mark on his face, so it had to be the one based off of the Queen of Hearts.
Someone was coming nearby, talking to himself. “They can’t make me clean a hundred windows. I’m going back to my room before anyone catches me.”
“HEY, JERK! YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!” Grim took a defensive stance, fully intending to attack him.
“Crap!” Ace rushed over to a mirror marked with playing cards.
Minako stepped in front of the mirror and blocked his way, her wand whipped out. “Oh no you don’t! We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
“I choose my way.” Ace said before he tried to make a run for it down the hall.
Son of a bitch. Minako performed the familiar wand movement of her favourite curse and aimed it at Ace.
◐ ━━━━━ ºoº Deuce ºoº ━━━━━ ◑
So far, so good. Deuce didn’t pick a fight with a single person today, even when NRC’s students were surprisingly hostile. A bit weird for a prestigious school to house boys like that, but that counted as an achievement, right?
He swore to his mother that he would do better, become an honour student, and make her proud most of all. All he had to do was keep this up for the next four years. It was a difficult plan, but it was doable.
The classes ended for the first day, and it was time for Deuce to go back to his dorm. As he was making his way to the entrance, he heard screaming. From the sounds of it, it was likely that a fight was going on.
Deuce took a peek at the Hall of Mirrors just to confirm his suspicions, only to see one of his classmates, Ace, running towards him. He heard someone yell out what sounded like words of a different language, and suddenly, there was a white flash that hit Ace. His classmate went stiff as a board, his mischievous smile wiped off of his face.
And he fell right on top of Deuce.
Deuce grunted as he landed on the cold, hard floor with Ace lying perpendicular on his body.
“Hey, do you mind? Get off!” No response. “Are you listening to me?”
“Oh Merlin, I’m so sorry!” cried the same voice who probably cast the spell on Ace.
The stranger rolled Ace over then helped Deuce up to his feet. Deuce opened his mouth to thank whoever it was, but when he locked eyes with the stranger, he froze.
It was that girl from ceremony last night.
Never mind that, he was talking to a girl in general! He knows he should say thank you, but how can he?
“I— uh… uhm…” His face felt hot. He was kicking himself to just spit it out already.
“Are you alright? Should I take you to the infirmary?” The girl asked.
“I’m… fine.” Whew, he finally got it out. “Sorry, I just… don’t usually talk to women,” he admitted. Well, the only women he can talk to were his mother and grandmother.
“I see. I’m sorry Ace landed on top of you. That was my fault,” Minako said sheepishly. “I’m Minako.”
“I know. I was at the entrance ceremony.”
Minako’s face flushed and she groaned. Deuce panicked knowing that he embarrassed her.
A burst of laughter interrupted them. The cat monster from the ceremony was here too, standing by Ace’s body and cackling. “Serves you right! You’re no match for my henchwoman’s spells!”
“What’s his name again?” Deuce whispered to Minako.
“He,” Minako took a brief pause, “is a nuisance, but he calls himself Grim.”
“He called you his henchwoman.”
“Well, I’m not.”
Deuce glanced at Ace lying unnervingly still on the floor. “Is he—”
“I promise he isn’t dead. He’s fully conscious.”
Minako walked over to Ace and crouched down. “I need to have a talk with Ace, but he might start running again if I counter the spell. Hm, levicorpus should do the trick.”
“Levi— what?” Was that a spell? Deuce has never heard anything like that before. They didn’t even sound like real words.
“It’s a jinx used to dangle someone upside down by their ankle,” Minako explained.
Now, he remembered why could never talk to girls: they were terrifying.
“That sounds uncomfortable. Maybe, I could try summoning something heavy to put on top of him,” Deuce said.
Deuce pulled out his pen from his breast pocket and pointed it at Ace. “Alright, something heavy!”
A large cauldron dropped down from above with a loud clang and landed on Ace. That made Deuce flinch and Minako’s hands flew up to her cover mouth in shock. Ace’s expression hardly changed in his paralyzed state except for the pain in his eyes.
“Aha ha ha ha! He’s flat as a pancake!” Grim tipped his head back as he howled louder than before.
“Finite incantatem.” Minako waved her wand at Ace, breaking him out of his stupor.
Great, another spell I can’t understand. Deuce dreaded having to memorize words he didn’t know just to pass his exams. Minako looked to be his age, and yet her magical control and knowledge was beyond his own skills.
Ace coughed in pain. “What the hell? You paralyzed me then dropped a pot on me?”
“Sorry, I think I overdid that,” Deuce apologized. He’s been saying sorry more often than he used to.
“Guh, this hurts!” Ace made an attempt to move the cauldron off of his torso. “I didn’t think you’d be the petty type. You can clean those windows in a flash, you know?”
“A hundred windows cannot be cleaned in a flash, especially when I’m not allowed to use magic!” Minako shouted.
Washing a hundred windows sounded a bit harsh. “What in the world did you guys do to warrant a punishment like that?” asked Deuce.
“Well…” Ace’s expression was sheepish. “I fought that cackling furball over there and we ended up charring the Queen of Hearts’ statue.”
“You damaged one of the statues of the Great Seven?! Now, that’s something worth washing a hundred windows.” Deuce shook his head. “Honestly, this isn’t how you act on the first day attending a prestigious school.”
“Shut it! Just who the hell are you?”
“I’m Deuce. Deuce Spade. We’re in the same class.” Deuce crossed his arms. “Anyways, if you’ve been given a punishment by the Headmaster, you should just do it so you don’t get into more trouble. Our dorm leader is a lot scarier than the Headmaster too, you know?”
Ace pouted. “Fine. Just get this thing off me first so we can get it over with.”
On three, Deuce and Minako heaved the heavy cauldron off of Ace, just enough to let him slip his legs away so that he can pull himself to his feet.
“Alright, Grim, let’s all get back to work.” Minako was turning her head to look around the room. Nobody was responding to her.
The first to process the situation was Ace. “That little shit left us! Hey, Juice, you’re coming with us.”
What the… Juice?
“It’s Deuce, not Juice!” Deuce yelled. “And why do I have to go?”
“Because you’re now an accessory to the crime!” said Ace.
He yanked Deuce by arm, giving him no time to protest anymore and trailed after Minako who was already five steps ahead of them.
◐ ━━━━━ ºoº Minako ºoº ━━━━━ ◑
As much as Minako would like to ask why Ace brought that navy-haired boy, Deuce, with them, she had much more pressing matters to handle. She should have expected this from Grim. That hypocrite. She thought by now that he would have learned his lesson in stressing her out can be dangerous for her health.
She had no clue how much time they spent tailing after Grim, but they did end up finding him back at the cafeteria. Her time spent with Grim let her know that his biggest advantages was his speed and agility, so of course he was darting around the area like a madman.
Somehow, he managed to climb all the way up to the chandelier. It swayed as Grim made himself comfortable there.“Catch me if you can!”
“We need to get up there!” Minako braced herself to perform the swish and flick movement with her wand.
“How? We don’t know how to do flight magic yet,” said Ace.
Is that so? Making objects fly was what eleven-year-olds learned during Charms. Granted, Minako did poorly in Charms for her first two years at Hogwarts. (Maybe this is why she’s not a Ravenclaw.)
Wait, that's it!
“Well, I—” Minako was cut off by Deuce.
“Then I can just throw something at him.” Deuce’s pen was pointed at Ace.
“Hey, don’t point your pen at me!” Ace panicked and was backed into a wall.
Minako began to freak herself. “NO! DON’T DO—”
With a flick of his wrist, Deuce had catapulted Ace across the cafeteria as the redhead was screeching at him to stop. Minako could only watch with horror while Ace soared towards the chandelier.
He caught Grim, then there was a sharp snap.
The chandelier had plummeted from the ceiling with Ace and Grim in tow, shattering it into a million pieces.
“Deuce…” Minako’s voice got dangerously low. “I was going to tell you that I can levitate one of us there.”
“What? Y-you can do that?” Deuce was still in a state of shock and guilt from the result of his rash decision.
Minako gazed at the mess before them, feeling the dark energy beginning to take over her system again. “Well, it’s too late now.” She was quaking in her boots, knowing what kind of consequences were about to come.
It’s okay, you can still fix this. She pointed her wand at the ruins. “Reparo. Reparo!” Her hand was trembling. Nothing was working. Why wasn’t it working?
Ten more attempts. Nothing.
How Ace and Grim managed to survive that fall with only a few scratches was beyond Minako. Coughing up the dust, Ace had pulled himself away from the rubble and stomped over to Deuce.
“You IDIOT!” The boys were nose to nose when Ace had jerked him over by his blazer.
Minako found Grim half-dazed from the fall. With a sigh, she scooped him up from the broken glass and fibre. She should put him on a tighter leash with all the trouble he was causing.
“I’m sorry! I messed up!”
Ace wasn’t done yelling. “Messed up?! When the Headmaster finds out we—”
“Find out what?” The last person they wanted to see was here. Headmaster Crowley stood at the doorway, his arms crossed.
Minako went up to him in an attempt to diffuse the situation quickly. “I can explain!”
But the Headmaster already saw the broken chandelier. “And just what do you four THINK YOU’RE DOING?!”
Minako shrank back at Crowley’s explosion. This was the angriest he had seen him so far that it was nothing compared to the statue incident. There was nothing that she could do or say now to get his forgiveness.
Grim fidgeted in her arms and groaned. “Ugh… my head. Don’t shout, please.”
Crowley walked past her to examine the wreckage. With his back turned to them he said, “That’s it. You’re all expelled.”
And the bomb just dropped. Neither Ace nor Deuce took the news too well.
Deuce was the first to respond, “No! Anything but that, please! I can’t get expelled!”
“Then perhaps you should have thought of that before you decided to break a priceless school artefact.”
“I promise that I’ll pay for the damages!”
“I’ll help pay for it too!” Minako offered. It was her fault for taking her eyes off of Grim given his reputation for being a terror.
“With what money? I don’t suppose you have a billion madol in your pockets?”
“A b-billion madol.” Deuce looked ready to have a heart attack.
“Well, of course! This is a special chandelier that was crafted by a famous maester of magical tools, and it has been with us since this school’s foundation. It’s historical value is quite high!”
As if he wasn’t sweating bullets earlier from getting caught, Ace had decided to put on a casual smile while offering a solution. “Can’t you just use magic to fix it?”
“I tried that. Didn’t work,” Minako said. Of all the times her magic decided not to cooperate with her.
“Magic has a tendency to be flawed.” In dismay, Crowley picked up a fallen, cracked globe. “Furthermore, its magic crystal is now in pieces. It was a special magic crystal that would have kept the chandelier’s lights burning for eternity. And now, it will never be lit again.”
There was a collective feeling of regret in the atmosphere. Minako was already thinking about where she would go now once she was evicted.
“Well, it’s over.” Ace looked deflated.
“Isn’t there anything else we can do to fix this?” Deuce asked with desperation in his voice.
Crowley pondered for a minute. “Well… there might be a chance to fix it.”
They all looked up with hope.
“Wait, really?” Minako exclaimed.
The Headmaster began to explain. “The magic crystal came from the Dwarf’s Mine. If you can retrieve the same kind of crystal from there, then we can do repairs on the chandelier.”
Deuce was eager to jump on the opportunity. “I’ll do it!”
“I’m coming too,” said Minako.
“However,” Crowley started, “there is no guarantee that there are any crystals left in the mine. It’s likely been sucked dry of its resources after it closed down a long time ago.”
“It’s still worth a shot, right?” said Deuce.
“Do what you must then. I’ll give you until sunrise to get a crystal, otherwise you’ll be facing expulsion.” Crowley pinned them all with an icy glare. “You can use the Gate in the Mirror Chamber to take you to the Dwarf’s Mine.”
“Yes, sir,” both Minako and Deuce said.
Ace grumbled. “Fine. I guess I’ll go.”
◐ ━━━━━ ºoº ━━━━━ ◑
On their way to the Mirror Chamber, Minako pinched Grim’s cheek to jolt him awake.
“Ow! That hurts!” Grim rubbed his face. “What happened?”
“We broke a priceless chandelier and now, were going to get a crystal from the Dwarf’s Mine,” Minako replied.
“So we don’t get expelled, dummy,” said Ace. “This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t tried to run away.”
Grim snarled and made an attempt to pounce on him, but Minako kept a tight grip on him this time. “Let me at him!” he cried.
“Hey, you both tried to shirk your responsibilities earlier,” Deuce argued.
“Actually, you know what? This was all Juice’s fault,” Ace retaliated. “The chandelier broke because you hurled me at it!”
“My name’s not Juice! It’s Deuce!”
“SHUT UP!” Minako finally snapped.
Everyone stopped shouting. A window nearby had cracked.
“Minako, are you okay?” There was a slight tremble in the way Deuce spoke.
Minako felt the fatigue taking over as soon as it was mentioned. Yet again, she had become careless and let herself get upset. She paused to cough into her sleeve, staining the white fabric with ink and blood. Her breaths were sharp, feeling like needles lodged in her throat. “J-just ignore it. We need…” She took a short breath. “…to keep going since I have nowhere else to go if we get kicked out.”
“Nowhere to go? What about your parents?” asked Ace.
Minako struggled to get her answer out. “I have none.” She didn’t miss how Ace tensed at her reply.
“You’re getting sick again, aren’t you?! Stay behind. I can’t have a weak henchwoman,” said Grim.
“For once, I agree with the furball.” Ace showed his first sign of humanity. “If you’re sick, you’ll get worse if you keep pushing yourself.”
“And I don't think that's any normal sickness. It looks pretty serious,” said Deuce
“No, I have to do this,” Minako reassured him. “Besides, I don’t trust you three to not fight again. I just need to calm down and get some magical light.” She casted lumos to light the tip of her wand once they made it to the dim Mirror Chamber. Her coughs began to die down.
Ace and Deuce exchanged identical looks of concern and confusion, then they all turned their gazes to the Dark Mirror.
“Mirror, mirror,” Deuce said, his voice loud and clear, “take us to Dwarf’s Mine.”
Minako raised a brow. That doesn’t sound right when it doesn’t rhyme.
There was a flash of blinding white light, then a strong force sucked them all into the looking glass. Barely a second later, Minako opened her eyes to a different environment; the Mirror had sent them somewhere in the dark woods. Mirror travelling was less dizzying than apparition.
The towering trees of the woods blocked out most of the natural light making Minako tighten her grip on her lit wand. It was eerie that not one creature was making a sound, not even the chirp of a cricket could be heard. Her light caught the rotting, wooden sign nailed to a tree. Shining it more on the sign, it read, Silent Woods. Well, it certainly lived up to its name.
“So, this place used to be a prosperous mine, but now…” Deuce trailed off.
Grim buried his face into Minako’s shoulder. “Why do I feel like something's going to jump out?” he whimpered.
“Is that a house? Minako, I need a light over here.” Ace beckoned her over, pointing somewhere in the darkness.
Minako positioned her wand as Ace instructed and like he said, there was a house. A quaint little cottage covered in moss and mildew was sitting by a creek. Given its current state, it was either abandoned or owned by an untidy resident. She would have to go with the former rather than the latter.
“Do you think someone still lives there?” asked Deuce.
Ace was already getting a head start by crossing the tiny bridge over the creek. “You’ll never know unless you check it out. Let’s see if we can ask them about mine.”
They followed him towards the house, the wooden bridge was groaning as they crossed it. Upon closer inspection, cobwebs can be seen lining the doorframe.
Deuce gave the old door a couple of knocks that shook the house. “Hello?” he called out. His knocking caused the door to creak open instead. “Oh, I guess it’s abandoned then.”
It looked like a tornado went through the house, and Minako thought Grimmauld Place and the ramshackle dorm were bad. Cobwebs hung on every high corner, dust covered the floor, and the furniture was strewn all over the tiny space. On the dining table, a pickaxe was lodged into the filthy surface.
“Check out that table.” Ace intrusively pushed his way inside the house and crouched down to check the child-sized dining set. “These chairs are pretty tiny. Are these for kids?”
“This is the Dwarf’s Mine, so this house definitely belonged to dwarves,” said Minako.
Ace silently counted the number of chairs. “Seven? That’s a lot!”
The seven dwarves, thought Minako, remembering the statue of the Beautiful Queen. She figured out a long while ago that the Queen came from the German fairytale, Snow White. The poison apple and the mirrors were dead giveaways.
“Must have been a lively home when the Dwarf’s Mine was thriving,” said Deuce.
“If there’s nobody home, then we’re wasting our time,” Ace said as he dislodged the pickaxe from the table. “There’s still got to be crystals inside that mine. Let’s go.”
As they left the house, Minako was left to wonder about the lives of the dwarves that once lived in these woods. The depressed state of the house gave her a sense of dread that the closing of the mines might have been tragic for the former residents.
Deuce had found the end of a railway track not too far from across the creek. No doubt that the railway was a part of the mine, so they followed it.
“Speaking of crystals,” Deuce said, turning to her, “why doesn’t your wand doesn’t have a crystal, Minako?”
Minako anticipated that a conversation about her wand would happen eventually. Her dilemma right now was how much should she tell them about herself. She simply said, “I don’t need one.”
“Don’t need one? Every magician needs a magic crystal. They’re the heart of magic,” Ace said.
“Not where I come from. Wands themselves are magic, what matters is that the wand suits you,” Minako explained. “Come to think of it, your pens look the same.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ace looked a little offended.
“I mean that it’s like your pens don’t have any unique properties at all. Every aspect of a wand matters to the witch or wizard using it, like the kind of wood it's made of or its length.”
Deuce shrugged. “I guess pens are just more convenient these days. You can replace them if you lose one. I didn’t know those kinds of things mattered to a wand.”
“Who cares what she uses? I have a powerful underling and that’s what matters.” said Grim.
“I’m not your underling.”
“Were you born in a different century or something?” asked Ace.
“No. Did my wand give you that idea? Do people really not use wands anymore?”
“Some people still put a crystal on a custom staff.,” Ace responded. “Where did you say you were from?”
Far away. She thought of replying with that, but that would bring more pestering and distrust than she needed right now. There was no bell to save her this time. Screw it, she’ll just say it. “I’m from a different world.”
They stopped walking, doubt hanging in the air.
Ace clicked his tongue. “Quit lying. No one likes tall tales, especially from some novice-magician calling herself a witch. That title is for high-ranking magicians, you know?”
“I’m not lying. What do you even want me to say?”
“Uh, the name of your country, maybe?”
“Never heard of it!”
“You still don’t believe me? Why don’t you ask the Headmaster about me later? Think about earlier when you bullied us because we didn’t know about the Great Seven.”
Deuce did a double take. “Wait, you don’t know the Great Seven?”
“Well,” Minako corrected herself, “I know some of them as fictional characters, not as the Great Seven. They didn’t even exist in the same story.” She left out the fact that, aside from the Lord of the Underworld, they were practically the villains of their stories.
“So, you do know about them?!” Ace exclaimed.
Minako clapped a hand over his mouth. “Don’t holler at me. I said that I know some of them, just not in the way that you do.”
“Can you guys just stop arguing?” scolded Deuce.
At that moment, Minako remembered her part in the group. She should be resolving conflicts, not engaging in them.
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” Minako pulled her hand away and wiped it on her trousers.
“Fine, I’ll leave it for now,” said Ace.
There was an awkward silence for the rest of the walk. Minako had grown used to that kind of tension with her family, not that she liked being in the middle of those silences. It finally broke when the railway began curving into a pitch black hole under a gigantic tree.
Grim yelped. “Is that it? That dark tunnel?”
“Is the Great Grim scared?” Ace cooed at him mockingly.
“Stop that,” Minako snapped at the redhead. She was frightened enough as it is even with a light in her hand. The curse marks were taking their sweet time to disappear.
“The Great Grim is not scared!” Grim leapt out of her arms. “I’m the captain, so follow me!” He sprinted inside the tunnel with reckless abandon.
Ace smiled smugly at her. “Ladies first.”
Rolling her eyes, she waved her wand. “Lumos maxima.” Minako’s wand produced a brighter flash of light, so bright that it was blinding and it had the boys shielding their eyes. Stepping inside the tunnel, she threw the light as far as she could into the darkness. “Grim, don’t go too far!” she called out, trying to catch up with that pesky cat.
“Hey, wait! Grab some tools first!” shouted Deuce.
◐ ━━━━━ ºoº ━━━━━ ◑
The four of them must have spent an hour in the tunnel driving their pickaxes into the walls. Minako’s migraine was getting worse by the minute the more she heard the clanging of metal against stone. It didn’t stop her from getting excited every time she saw something shiny though, only to be disappointed to find that it was just a regular rock.
“Another bust.” Ace carelessly threw away another pebble and it clattered against the ground. “Look, I’m pretty sure that this mine’s been sucked dry.”
“Keep searching! There’s got to be a crystal somewhere!” Deuce was desperately grabbing and inspecting the rocks he found. The navy blue spade mark on his face was smudged from perspiration.
“Don’t boss me around. It was your fault that the chandelier broke,” Ace remarked.
“My fault?” Deuce turned around to argue. “You should have just pulled your weight for the punishment in the first place!”
“This all started because that furball set a statue on fire!”
“That’s because you were picking on us!” Grim jumped in to quarrel.
This again? Minako massaged her temples. “Alright, that’s enou—Aah!” Her pickaxe fell from her hands to clutch her chest, then her knees hit the dirt.
It was like someone had struck her chest with a piping hot poker. The pain from earlier made her sluggish and sore, but right now, it was burning! She coughed and spat out ink-stained blood, the red-and-black colour shining on a stone due to the fading light she created. Her vision blurred from both tears and sweat.
“Minako!” The voices of Ace, Deuce, and Grim were almost a clamour.
“Ah! Henchwoman, your neck!” Grim pointed a paw at her.
“Never mind her neck! She’s practically covered in those black things!” Ace exclaimed.
He was right, at least Minako could tell judging by her hands. Her palms were the only thing not shrouded in the curse.
“We need to get her up,” said Deuce.
When he grabbed her arm to put over his shoulder, she cried out. The sharp sting of pain made her retract her arm and almost hit Deuce in the process. Poor Deuce. He was only trying to help her, so she mumbled out incoherent words of what was supposed to be apologies to him. She probably looked pathetic.
They tried getting her up again, this time with both Ace and Deuce flanking her as Minako did her best to not weep. She reduced her complaints to small hisses and deep breaths.
“What was that?” Minako couldn’t tell if she was hallucinating from the agony.
“What was what?” asked Ace.
“Won’t… give…my…” The voice was louder this time. It was deep, raspy, and nearly unintelligible.
Now, it was the boys’ turn to flinch.
“You heard that too, right?” Grim squeaked as he inched closer to them.
Ace and Deuce quickly shushed him.
Minako pointed with her lips over to an entrance where the railway diverged. “Hide… over there,” she whispered.
She fought the urge to scream from the shocks of pain shooting through her body as Ace and Deuce picked up the pace to the hiding spot. Once they made it, they shuffled up against the wall and had her sit down. While she needed her light, Minako did not want to be seen by whatever was lurking in the shadows, so she dimmed her wand and put it away.
There were footsteps that shook the mine and were getting closer to where they hid. Growls and the drag of something made of metal against the dirt accompanied it.
Minako’s body was becoming numb. Even worse was that she was beginning to splutter ink into her hands. With her hand over her mouth, she refused to let out even the smallest peep and not let whatever was lurking in the mine catch them.
A large, dark hand holding a lantern made its way in the entrance of their hiding spot, and the four crept away from wherever the light hit. While the monster did not see them, Minako can definitely see it. A massive beast in dwarf’s clothes poked its sphere-shaped glass head in the entrance. There was a crack on its head making it drip with black ooze.
No… that wasn’t just ooze. The smell of it was nauseatingly familiar. It was cursed ink.
That was it. That’s what’s causing her pain. The inky black substance was unmistakable. Question is: How? This was another world and not hers.
“My… stone… MINE!” the monster spoke as it walked away.
Ace paled. “What the hell is that? It’s freaking nasty!”
“Wait, stone? So, there really are magic crystals left,” Deuce whispered hopefully.
“Forget the crystal! I’m a genius, but I didn’t sign for this,” Grim whimpered.
Deuce, however, was stubborn. “I’m not leaving without a crystal.”
“Are you saying that we should put Minako in danger?” Ace hissed.
“No, I’m going to take it on and get that crystal by myself.” Deuce stepped out of the hiding spot and into the line of fire. “There’s no way I’m getting expelled!”
“Deuce, no!” Minako grasped the stone wall, trying to stand on her shaky legs. She shuddered as she wiped the ink off of her chin.
Deuce’s fist collided with the stone wall, making a crater. “Hey, monster! Fight me!” he boomed.
“Stone… belongs… to me!” the monster groaned, whipping its head around. It wasted no time swinging its pickaxe at Deuce. “LEAVE!”
Deuce jumped back, narrowly dodging the pickaxe as it dug into the ground. The force was so powerful that it knocked him to the ground. He steadied himself on one knee then began charging at the monster with the intention to kick it.
However, his foot pushed through the monster’s slimy lower body. It made a repulsive squelch as it did nothing to hinder the monster’s rage. He pulled his foot out and fell on his bum with a grunt.
The monster swung his pickaxe again and slammed it into the wall. Debris descended from above. Now, Ace jumped into the fray by summoning a gust of wind strong enough to blast the falling rocks away from Deuce and propelled them towards the monster. The flurry of rocks had the monster shielding itself from harm. Minako and Grim stepped out of hiding now that it was distracted.
Minako was hunched over against the wall like an old woman, shakily pulling her wand out from her holster. “Petrificus totalus!” she shouted.
When the spell had hit, the monster stopped in its tracks. However, the moment of relief had gone too quickly when it started growling and making its way towards her.
It didn’t work? That spell should have lasted for a couple of hours!
She tried again. “Immobulus!”
The monster froze then broke out of the spell.
And again. “Stupefy! Arresto momentum! Impedimenta!”
Why is nothing working?
“What are you doing?!” Ace hissed through his teeth.
“Helping you!” She wasn’t looking for an argument right now. They needed to get out while they still could.
Ace picked up a rock and hurled it at the monster’s glass head. “Hey, over here!”
“How dare… you!” The monster whirled around and switched its target to Ace.
Minako’s palms were sweating and her skin was on fire. She needed to take it down quickly before it hurt Ace. Another spell was in her mind, but the question was: will it work?
“Lumos solem!” Rays of light that were as bright as the sun burst from the tip of her wand. With the light seeping into her system, she was already able to stand a bit straighter.
If her theory was correct, the monster should be repelled by light and she needed a powerful one. Regain her strength a little while fighting back, like killing two birds with one stone.
“Eat this!” Although Grim was frightened, he had enough courage to breathe fire at the target.
The monster groaned and it fell to its knees with a crash. Minako and Grim ceased their attacks.
Deuce was out of breath, staring at the creature in shock. “It's down.”
Something shined into Minako’s eyes. “What was that sparkle?” Up ahead, there was a glint of light at the end of the tunnel. It certainly wasn’t her magic doing that.
Deuce got up and squinted his eyes to where she was looking. “Is that a magic crystal?”
A shiny gem was lodged in the stone wall. It really was a magic crystal!
Minako raised her wand to summon it over. “Acci—”
“Won’t… won’t… give…” The timing couldn’t have been more terrible when the monster had started to rise from the ground, pickaxe in hand and blocking her view of the crystal.
“L-let’s get out of here! I don’t want to die!” Grim was the first to book for the exit.
Deuce stood in his place with reluctance, staring back at the monster.
Minako tucked her wand away, finding no use to summon the stone to her now. “Deuce we need to go,” she said. She was beginning to feel weak again too.
“But the crystal—”
Ace snapped at him, “We’ve got a sick person here, and I need help getting her out!”
Deuce turned to Minako. Unexpectedly, he picked her up and darted towards the exit. Minako yelped and held on tight to his blazer, watching Ace tailing after them.
“Wait up!” Ace shouted.
The good thing was that the monster was far too slow to catch up to them and that all it wanted was the stone. Odds were that it was not interested in chasing them down the woods.
They followed the railway track back to the abandoned cottage. Minako was gently set down on the grass as everyone else was panting and collapsing to their knees. She casted lumos once again, not caring that she would probably be blind by the time she recovers.
“Are we… are we far enough?” Deuce panted.
“What… in the world was that?” asked Ace as he flopped down on a tree stumped. “Hey, Minako.”
“What?” Minako didn’t look up from checking the black veins on her arms.
“Will you stop playing with your light magic and talk to me?” Ace yelled.
“Lower your voice, you’re putting a lot of stress on me. Do you want me to die?”
“Just tell me what happened to you. I’ve never seen a sickness do something like that.”
Minako scoffed. “You wouldn’t understand. Most people run after they find out about me.”
“Do I look like most people?” Ace said, then he realized his mistake. “Don’t answer that. Anyways, whatever your problem is, I think it’d be worse if we don’t know anything about it.”
There was a pregnant pause.
With a sigh, Minako finally explained, “It’s a blood curse. It causes me to debilitate and my magic to become dangerous to others whenever I feel intense negative emotions. However, I think I discovered another trigger when that monster got near me. Whatever it was, it oozed the same kind of ink that my blood contains, and I believe that’s why my curse acted up.”
“Wait, I thought you said you were from another world,” said Deuce.
“I am. I don’t know what's the relation between my curse and that thing. All I know is that my curse has never been this excruciatingly painful since… well, when I was twelve.”
Ace sighed. “If that thing’s in our way and you can’t get near it without getting hurt, we might as well just throw in the towel.”
“No!” Deuce exclaimed. “Our ticket out of expulsion was right there. You can’t tell me that you want to go home,”
“You want to go and fight that thing? Be my guest, it’s your funeral. I’m done here.” Ace walked away from them and headed towards the Mirror.
Deuce yanked Ace by arm and his fist clenched. “You— you’re a spineless coward, you know?!” he yelled, taking on an uncharacteristically aggressive tone.
Even Grim was surprised. “Deuce, did you change your personality?”
Deuce blinked. He let go of Ace and coughed. “Ahem! Sorry, I lost my composure for a minute.”
“I can’t give up either. We can still win against it,” said Minako.
“With your nasty curse? How?” Ace asked.
“A proper strategy will do. It’s four against one.”
Ace snorted. “You want me to work with this idiot? I don’t trust him after the chandelier incident.”
“Care to run that by me again? I’m not too keen on working with you either,” Deuce spat.
Minako clicked her tongue. “Then I guess we’re all getting expelled.” Her emphasis on “expelled” made Deuce flinch.
“Kind of uncool to get kicked out on the first day,” Grim deadpanned.
Ace and Deuce’s expressions twisted into identical grimaces. It was clear that they were getting to them.
“I’d rather die than get expelled,” Deuce stated.
Ace gave in too. “Fine, let’s just get this done. What’s the plan?”
Minako plucked a stray twig from the ground. On a patch of dirt, she began to illustrate what she had in mind. “First things first, we need a distraction.”
◐ ━━━━━ ºoº ━━━━━ ◑
The burning sensation and her wobbly legs told Minako that the monster was near. The four were hidden behind the boulders where they found the monster standing guard at the mine’s entrance.
“At least we don’t need to lure it out now,” said Deuce. “Minako, are you sure you’re okay?”
Minako swallowed back her tears. The light on her wand was bright enough to help her stand, but low enough to not alert the monster. “I’m fine. I can make this easier by using a summoning charm, but I need to see the crystal in order for it to work.” Slowly, she shifted away from the rocks with Grim following behind her.
“You really think this will work?” Grim asked her, sounding reluctant.
“I don’t know, but we have to try.”
“Try not to die, you two,” Ace called out to them.
“Thanks.” Minako decided to take that as Ace’s way of making light of the situation. She wiped the smidge of ink dripping from the corners of her lips, took a deep breath, and yelled at the top of her lungs. “HEY, BEASTIE! I’M HERE FOR YOUR STONE!”
“Thief! My… stone!” The monster dragged its pickaxe to take her out.
As it got closer and closer, Minako could feel her curse beginning to take its toll on her. She spent no more time waiting to cast her spell. “Lumos solem!”
A guttural shout of pain came from the monster as the spell burned brightly. From the corner of her eye, Minako saw Grim dashed farther away from the tunnel to carry out the next phase.
“Hey, beastie! O-over here!” Grim called out to it with a hint of nervousness left in his tone.
Minako shuffled away as quickly as possible from the monster’s line of sight as the enemy turned its attention to Grim. Deuce had popped out from the hiding spot just in time to hoist her up when her knees were buckling.
Ace had come out of hiding too shouting, “Extra Large Tempest!” A tunnel of wind sliced through the trees.
“And the Great Grim’s Fire Special!” Grim spat out a ball of fire into the wind.
The mix of air and fire made the flames grow rapidly, then it collided with the monster. It let out an ear-piercing screech as it burst into flames.
Minako patted Deuce on the shoulder. “Just one more push. Deuce, get ready.”
Deuce pointed his pen at the target, talking to himself, “Take a deep breath… I need the heaviest thing I can find. Come forth cauldron!”
A cauldron, ten times the size of a regular one, dropped down from the sky and squashed the monster flat on the grass. It lay still underneath the pot making it hard to tell if it was still alive.
Now for that crystal. “Ace, Grim, make sure it stays down! We’ll come back with the crystal soon!” Minako shouted.
With Deuce supporting her weight, they quickly slipped inside the tunnel. Minako shined her wand up ahead as their footsteps echoing against the walls, watching carefully for a glint of light coming from the crystal.
“There! Do you see it?” Deuce pointed to a sparkle on the wall.
“I see it. Catch it for me, alright?” With a bit of soreness left on her body, Minako did her best to perform the wand movement. “Accio crystal!”
The crystal broke away from the stone wall with ease and nearly hit Minako in the face had Deuce not caught it on time. Upon closer inspection, the crystal was quite beautiful; bright blues, reds, and greens were melded together in harmony.
“W-we got it!” Deuce’s expression was a mix of disbelief and joy now that the crystal was in his hands.
A raspy groan interrupted their moment of excitement. “Wait…”
“Sounds like someone’s awake. Deuce, we need to leave now.”
When they made it to the mouth of the tunnel, the monster was stirring from underneath the cauldron. The fire that it was engulfed in earlier was quickly going out. It cried, “Thief! Thief!” as its hand stretched out to grab the pickaxe.
Deuce was the first to jump into action. “Come forth cauldron!”
Another cauldron landed on top of the first. Deuce summoned another, crushing the monster’s hand. And another. And another.
“How many cauldrons are you going to drop before you cast a real spell?” Ace poked his head from behind the beast.
“Shut up! I’m at my wit’s end!” Deuce argued.
Grim blew one last fireball at the monster. “No more fighting! Let’s leave!”
“Come back!” the monster cried.
Once again, they were running through the woods. Minako fell a bit behind than the rest of the group. If it weren’t for curse choosing act up, she would probably be running ahead of them. Instead, she was sweaty, wheezing, and her legs were ready to give up on her.
Stomp! Stomp! Giant steps shook the trees.
“It’s here!” Minako screamed.
“Give it… BACK!” Its glass head was faceless, and yet the monster appeared angrier than ever, taking longer strides to catch up to them. Its clothes were scorched and its shoulders were heaving with fury.
“What?! Doesn’t it know when to give up?” said Ace.
“We’re almost there! He can’t catch us now.”
Deuce spoke too soon when the monster had done something a little unforeseen. Just as they were about to reach the Mirror, the monster’s gigantic pickaxe landed in front of the four with a crash, barricading them from escaping.
Minako spun around then weakly pointed her wand at the monster. “Lumo—”
It happened so quickly that Minako hadn’t realized that the monster had flung her away until she fell into the creek by the abandoned house. She thought she heard shouts of her name, but it was lost to her when her landing made a loud splash.
Minako pulled her head above the surface, spitting out the filthy water. Right now, she wished could pass out after the monster had laid a hand on her. The contact shook her entire being. Her body was on fire yet it was freezing in the creek’s temperature. Not only that, the curse was beginning to numb her mind.
It hurt so much. She couldn’t take it anymore!
“Henchwoman! Are you alive?”
“Stay right there. I’ll come get you.”
“Don’t worry about me, just kill it!” she cried.
Deuce stopped in his tracks before he could get to her. “What?”
“KILL IT! FINISH THE JOB, NOW!” Minako was aware that the creek water was now boiling under her power, but she didn’t care.
“You heard her, let’s end this!” said Ace.
“You’re going to pay for doing that to my henchwoman!”
As the skirmish went on, Minako was left to wade around the creek to look for her wand. She ignored the anguish and wrath coming from the monster’s aura for it made her rage harder to ignore.
You want to control your anger when it was you who ordered them to kill it?
Minako froze at the thought intruding her mind. She looked down at the creek now half dried from the intensity of her anger.
I don’t blame you. It’s caused you a lot of pain.
Her hand scraped the wood of her wand then her fingers curled around it tightly.
Give it what it deserves.
Reaching out to the dewey grass, her nails dug into the dirt to pull herself up from the pit. Her clothes, thoroughly soaked, clung to her skin and weighed her down. She stumbled over to a tree to keep herself from collapsing.
When Grim’s jet of fire had cleared, she had a view of the monster that was barely keeping itself up. Shallow fissures decorated its head. The trees nearby were either charred or bent. Ace, Deuce, and Grim were all equally winded and suffering a couple of scrapes.
Kill it now.
She yelled, “Bombarda maxima!”
A deafening explosion hit the glass head and it ruptured, ink came gushing out. The beast howled in pain and toppled over, but the way it twitched told her that it was still alive.
“The head! Destroy its head!” Ace pointed out.
Grim sent a hulking fireball towards the head, the heat fracturing the glass further to the point of almost shattering it.
“One more cauldron!” Deuce called.
The cauldron came down and smashed the head into a hundred pieces, delivering the final blow. Glass shards were scattered, black ooze was dripping, and the monster was no longer kicking.
“We… we won?” Ace was short of breath and in disbelief.
“It’s gone. It’s actually gone!” Grim cheered.
Minako came down from her own rush of adrenaline. As she was leaning against the tree and shivering, her thoughts wandered elsewhere to that rickety bed in her rickety dorm. It sounded like heaven to her right now.
“Didn’t you just get out of a creek? You’ll catch a cold.” She felt Ace placed his blazer on her shoulders.
Minako hadn’t noticed Ace come over to her, and she certainly wasn’t expecting that kind of gesture from him either. For a second, she had almost forgotten that he was the insufferable boy that she had to deal with for the entire day.
“Thanks…” She gratefully put her arms through the sleeves.
“Need some help?” Deuce asked her politely.
“Yes, thank you.” She carefully wrapped an arm around Deuce’s shoulders so as not to strain herself any further. “You three did well. Now, let’s get back to school before the pain gets worse.”
Ace huffed as he took up her other arm. “I’m beat. We went through all that for a magic crystal? The Headmaster could have told us about that thing?”
“He probably didn’t know about the monster,” said Deuce.
“I’m hungry too,” Grim whined. He stopped in his tracks before sniffing the air. “What’s that delicious smell?”
“Delicious?” Minako muttered. She watched Grim follow the smell over the fallen monster that was producing a trail of black smoke after the fire had died down. “Grim, what do you think you’re doing?”
“Oi! The monster’s disintegrating!” Ace pointed out.
Squinting at the smoke, Minako could see the ink ascending with it and slowly disappearing into thin air. The glass and even the clothes were dissolving into nothing but ink. And the smell. God, it was awful!
“Grim, stay away from that thing!” Deuce called to him.
Grim didn’t listen then he buried himself among the remains of the beast while they were all hollering at him to stop. Thankfully, Grim had come back out of the heap unscathed with a souvenir in his hands.
“Jackpot! Lucky me!” Grim was cheerfully waving around an obsidian-coloured stone.
“Is that supposed to be a crystal? Did that come from the monster?” asked Deuce.
“Grim, you should drop that. It could be dangerous,” Minako warned.
Grim was happily sniffing at the stone. “But it smells so good! I guess it’s time to eat.” He shoved the whole thing into his mouth.
“Grim, no!” Ignoring the aching in her limbs, Minako dashed over to Grim and grabbed his face. She could still feel the stone poking the insides of cheeks. “Spit it out! Spit it out!”
Minako went silent with horror.
“He actually ate it?” Ace choked.
To Minako’s surprise, Grim's face brightened. “So tasty!”
“What?!” the three of them chorused.
“The flavour’s so rich that it feels like it’s blooming on my tongue! Like a field of flowers in my mouth!”
“Grim, I don’t care if it tastes good. If it wasn’t good for me, it’s probably not good for you!”
Ace grimaced. “Ugh, that’s disgusting. Monsters really can eat just about anything.”
“Still, I hope he doesn’t make a habit of doing that again.” Ah, her head hurts. It didn’t occur to her that her magical control was slipping until a tree splintered in half with a deafening crack.
The boys yelped when it crashed right behind the fallen monster.
“Minako, we should get you to the infirmary.” Deuce gently grabbed her by the arm to pull her up from the ground.
“And you should calm down a little before… you know?” Ace added.
Fatigue was catching up to her. She reached out to both of them “Right, right. Let’s go.”
“By the way, have you noticed that your eyes changed?” asked Deuce.
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Hope you enjoyed this chapter. Fair warning, my reading week for this semester just ended and it's going to get busy from then on with college. There might be delays in updates.
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