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.Whether any of this was possible in the real world or not didn't matter.Adrenaline and excitement collided in an overwhelming surge.Hiding within my own manipulation, I tried to silence my quick breathing.After a moment, a small chewing noise registered.Paper tore above me, and the black-and-white head of a papered dragon poked through.Using a projection of my own creation to track me.Oh, it was truly on.Black fire blew from its mouth and I barely twisted and wrung myself from the paper in time.I landed flat on the floor.A booted foot pressed down on my back.Okay, not so much on as over.A dangerous smile smirked down at me.“Again.”~*~After an hour of getting flattened by Dare in increasingly crazy manipulations, I had come to the distinct realization that even while he laughed, Dare was deadlier than I'd seen before or been led to believe.If I thought on it too long, the question of how he had not killed the Bone Beast immediately last term became quite a frightening memory.My subconscious magic and black magic experiments had created something that formidable? Kind of terrifying.Dare watched everything I did, then used it against me in the next second.So quickly did he convert strategy and moves into counter attack, that I was left wondering how.Ugh.He would have been thick as thieves with Christian in the non-magic world—or in this one, if we'd grown up here.He requisitioned my hour directly afterward—which had been my free time—and dragged me, limping, around campus with him on his patrol before healing me with a smirk and taking off to God knew where.I shook off the weirdness of the possible revelation that we might be forming a friendship and dragged myself back to the dorm.A stupid grin painted my face and I couldn't get it off.Before I could throw myself on my bed, close my eyes, and think up something witty with which to amuse Olivia, I noticed movement on her desk.A paper caterpillar was inching its way along.A caterpillar, not an egg.I stared at it for a long moment, stricken, then touched the wards.There was a slight tingle of sickly brown attached to Olivia's health thread, but far lighter than what it had been after the previous attack.“It ate the magic,” Olivia said, without looking up, but obviously aware of the direction of my thoughts.“I opened my mother's note and the egg flew right out of my bag, swallowed the note's magic, then burst into that.” She pointed at the inching insect.“Did it? How strange,” I said innocently, trying to hide my concern.“Ren.”“Yes?”Olivia was still looking at her desk, her gaze blank and unseeing.“Thank you.”“Absolutely my pleasure.” I walked to my bed and changed out items from my bag, giving her some privacy.“You ready to do some serious justice-mongering tonight?”She cleared her throat.“Yes.” Her voice was strong.Good.“Awesome.Dinner first?” I needed the calories and the renewal energy of the cafeteria.She nodded.“And I, uh, was thinking we might make a stop after service?” I shifted on my feet, hoping she wouldn't change moods and kill me.“To see Leandred?” She looked darkly resigned.“Uh, no.I wouldn't do that to you.”“Well, where to, then?” she said, motioning for me to hurry up.“My sense of disapproval is awaiting activation.”I grinned at her dry tone and hurried to the door.Maybe I'd survive after all.She slipped the caterpillar carefully into her bag and I adjusted my wavering tally.Protection of friends: Restarting from 0~*~We were both exhausted at the end of our two hours of service, but it had been an invigorating and productive service session.New clients for Olivia and several new contacts for me—a communications mage who could hack any frequency, an alchemist who could exchange one metal for another, and a music conductor who could change the fabric of the air using sound!There had been a few dull calls, of course.A girl casting a restricted love spell, a few people imbibing things they weren't supposed to be imbibing, two benign room explosions, and the relocation of an entire school of wild grouper to one of the science labs.Cleaning up enormous, flopping fish had turned tedious after the first few fun zaps with Justice Toad.Lab accidents were normally under the dominion of the class professor, and not in our jurisdiction.But sneaking in after hours to use equipment in order to enchant the entire female population of Excelsine? That fell to us.That they had produced a school of groupers instead of a school of groupies.well, such subpar spellcasting deserved special punishment.a firesnake-skin-collecting sort of punishment.Testing Olivia's patience near the end, we made a Level Three call to Constantine, who had invoked savage retribution on the girl who had cast the restricted love spell earlier [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]