"The Reave… is a highly sophisticated and power-intensive reality-shaping spell. It is akin to very invasive surgery… a rearranging of reality's sinew and bone to change the shape of it. Shifting some key events, removing others and such," Mr. Roi explained, leaning back against the stone wall, drained.
Madam Chen, who was sitting between him and Daemon, removed her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Thank dark it was fairly minor. Any more and I am not sure we…"
"Yes, rather unsafe for all involved," Mr. Roi agreed. "Especially when a certain Hunter insists on shaping more lives than is absolutely necessary."
"Bite me," the Hunter in question grumbled, his legs pulled up to his chest, his face buried in his arms, which were crossed on his knees.
The teacher looked away from him, annoyed. "Yes. That was the incredibly dangerous and selfless feat we had to perform… to clean up your mess."
Eron looked up from where he was bound against the wall, surprised at his brother's notice of him.
"So," Mr. Roi continued. "What is the undoubtedly excellent reason you did this?"
The shifter didn't answer, glaring off to the side instead.
The paler Nereshai raised a hand to his face, trying not to sigh. "Not going to ask twice, little brother."
Eron froze, alarmed. He looked down, letting his hair fall in front of his face. "I… They said, once they had their sigils back… they'd make me a Nereshai."
The three on the other side of the room looked at him, surprised, almost shocked.
And burst out laughing.
Eron stiffened. "Why is that so funny? You think I can't be one?"
Madam Chen wiped tears from the corners of her eyes, still chuckling. "Oh honey, they lied. No one can make you a night lord."
Eron blinked. "What?"
Madam Chen shook her head gently. "It's… complicated. I'll have to explain another time."
The shifter stared a moment, before looking to the side. "So, uh… I'm obviously the victim of misinformation here, then. You should let me g–"
"You will be paying for what you did," his brother interrupted, annoyed, one finger stabbing at the air in the shifter's direction, "and you will regret every minute of it."
Eron frowned. "What are you going to–"
"Shhh," Madam Chen interrupted softly, sliding her glasses back on. "You'll know soon enough."
"It's almost time," Daemon said, straightening his legs and brushing his hand over his forehead, his eyes still closed.
Eron flinched. "T-time for what?"
Madam Chen squeezed her eyes shut, mildly annoyed. "Shhh." She shifted to her feet. "We've been waiting for the Reave's effect to ripple though the rest of the realm. For the stitches to dissolve, so to speak." She brushed off her shoulders. "Feels like it's about time, gentlemen?"
Mr. Roi nodded slightly. "Yes. It should be setting in about 4… 3… 2…
"Excuse me, pardon me!" Sarah yelled, running through the halls, a cluster of hissing baby dragons in her hands. "Has anyone seen Madam Chen?" She paused next to Sion and Remy.
Sion looked up from her locker, a book in her hand, her bag slung over her shoulder. "I don't think she's in today, Miss T."
Sarah whined softly, still panting.
Remy smiled at the keeper, looking up from his locker, his books clutched to his chest. "Do you need help with those?"
The keeper shook her head. "No, I got it. You guys have a class…"
Ronee and Alex froze in the middle of the hallway, staring at the woman, oblivious to the small symbol engraved in the hollows of their throats.
Sarah noticed them. "Alex! Don't you have Mr. Roi's class in five minutes?"
Alex just stared, emotion filling her eyes. Her arm slowly reached out toward her sister.
"You can't be late," the older woman continued. "He hates…"
She trailed off as the younger girl's arms wrapped around her.
"… that," she finished her sentence, surprised. She set her hand on the white-haired Weirn's head. "Oh Alex, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," the younger girl said firmly, squeezing the keeper, tears leaking out of her eyes. "Nothing's wrong."
"Rochelle," Ronee whispered, still frozen in the same spot. She quickly turned to look behind her. "Where's Rochelle?"
Sion turned her attention to her, surprised. "Huh? You guys were just talking."
"Where…" Ronee trailed off.
The girl in question turned from her place in the middle of the hall and noticed her. "Eh?"
The older girl squeezed her eyes shut, tears leaking out of them, and flung herself at the younger, her arms wrapping around her.
"Eh? Eh?" the younger girl asked, confused, but smiling.
"I'm sorry," Ronee sobbed, "I'm so sorry…"
Rochelle hugged her back, still smiling, still confused. "For what?"
"Nadia!" Marina cried, throwing herself at the older girl, her arms wrapping around her neck.
Noh blinked, confused.
"Ooookay, school was trashed just now," Ten said, eyebrows knitted together, staring up at the building. "What happened?"
Jay, standing next to her, shook his head. "Forget that. How didwe get here? Weren't we sweeping the cemetery just no…" He trailed off, seeing the boy in his peripheral vision. "Oh hey, Jaq. What's–"
The blond cut him off by socking him in the face.
The brunet clutched his nose, staring a hole into the other boy. "What the flying f–"
He dodged a kick that wound up going right over his shoulder.
He clenched a fist. "Oh, it's on now!"
Teresa and Ten watched the ensuing fight, sighing at the screaming, kicks, and punches.
"Now that's a touching reunion," the taller girl said. "Remind me to never get a brother."
"Sister," the shorter corrected.
"Whatever," Teresa muttered. "A Jaq. I'm never getting a Jaq."
"Uh, what ha–" Noh started, confused. She gently hugged back Marina, who was still clinging to her. Terrance stood next to her, looking around with narrowed eyes.
"Welcome back," Teresa said, smiling. "We'll explain everything on the way. Cass, we get instructions?"
"Yes," the redhead said, looking at the note in his hands.
It read, "Checking on some things. New safe house address on the back, will meet you there~"
The Hunter sanctuary.
"Daaaad, come on! Seriously, I'm fine!"
Theo hit the shoulder of the boy sitting on the table. "You almost died! You're getting checked, end of discussion."
"He appears to be perfectly healthy, Theo," the cloaked figure standing on the other side of the room pointed out.
Theo looked up, tears brimming in his eyes. "Check him again, just in ca…" He trailed off, seeing something at the edge of his sight.
His eyes widened a moment, seeing a corner of black fabric breezing by the opening of the tent.
"Daemon!" he said, stepping halfway out. "Need to talk to you! There's a place that needs–"
"Need evidence before making a raid," the Nereshai interrupted, not turning to look at him.
The other Hunter was silent for a moment. "Well, fine! Should be easy enough. That place is crawling with–"
"Dad, come on, can we leave yet?"
Theo poked his head back into the tent. "Oh, fer…"
"This is disgraceful," Madam Chen said, clutching the foam coffee cup between her hands.
"Hmm?" Mr. Roi asked, eyes closed, slouching against the back of the park bench they were sitting on.
"In my school!" the principal exclaimed. "Right under my nose! How was I so susceptible to the effect of the bogs?"
"We all have our blind spots," the teacher pointed out, one hand on his forehead. "That place is from before your time, so you were not immune."
"Well, I am now," she said, frowning deeply. "Grr."
"Do look on the bright side–the realm is now longer the Sohrem's oyster, so that's a job well done, yes?"
"I supposed," she said after a moment. For a while, she didn't say anything, thinking instead. "Except that it's not over, is it? Just postponed. We still don't know precisely what the Sohrem is. Those seals won't hold for long… we'll need to locate the other four hosts soon."
Mr. Roi didn't answer for a moment, staring at the ground. "That's certainly a bridge to cross, yes. However, my immediate concern is…
"Why does my head hurt?" he grumbled, pressing his temples. "I do not approve of this."
Madam Chen took a sip of her coffee. "Mm. The mortal body will take what it needs. Even from us." She was silent for a moment. "You still have to teach your class today."
"Make me," he deadpanned.
She narrowed her eyes, still looking straight ahead.
"Don't sulk," the teacher said. "Don't you now have a brand-new permanent substitute teacher?"
The surprised realization on her face slowly spread into an evil smile. "Oh, yes. I do, don't I."
"Hello, Mr. Roi's class!" Sarah said, waving nervously at the group of students. "We seem to be missing you teacher today. Again. But! Please give a warm welcome to our new substitute teacher… Mr. Eron!"
She gestured to the (once again) sweater-vested shifter behind her. He was silent, his eyes wide in something akin to shock.
"Mr. Eron is a graduate student at NYWU," Sarah continued, "so if you have any question about their programs… I'm sure he could…"
Eron glanced over at the front row of students.
Ronee and Alex were (understandably) silently glaring at him, their faces the image of barely-contained rage, their Astrals hissing at him from behind the desk.
"So, Mr. Eron," Sarah continued cheerfully, "would you like to say anything?"
The shifter was silent for a moment, before defeat came over his features. He was practically crying. "This sucks."
Madam Chen and Mr. Roi shared a self-satisfied smile, both leaning against the back of the bench.
"Yes," the principal said, her hair blowing in the faint breeze. "Yes, this should be very interesting."