Hey, guys! I am so, so, SO sorry about how late this update is! I got a major case of writer's block :/

Anyway, if any of you readers have input onto where this story could go next, I am more than willing to hear it! Thanks for reading!

"Balthazar!" Veronica lunged for her beloved, wrenching him away in hopes to rouse him. But the man remained limp in her arms.

Several minutes later, when Veronica had returned to Balthazar's side with cool water, Dave's eyes opened. They were brown again, and Veronica's met them with a mixture of relief and concern. "You can see him now?" she asked urgently. Dave nodded and moved to kneel beside him once more.

"He, he entered my mind, and I began to shut down... He did something and I felt better instantly. We could...Almost talk or something. I don't know, but he told me that he had quarantined the spell and dispersed it into him. I... I thought about that it might hurt him, but he said it would be okay...Then I opened my eyes... Veronica, I think it's killing him... I think that Horvath... that Horvath wanted that," Dave said.

Veronica nodded and then thrust herself into his mind, intent on taking the spell herself. She found his body shutting down as the spell rampaged and destroyed his DNA signature. Dave watched Veronica faint and knew what she had done. Quickly he did the only thing he could think of: he ran towards his Incantus. As fast as he could and flipped through it until he opened to a page that sounded useful. The magical handbook called it a Purging spell.

"Woah," Dave said under his breath as he read. It was dangerous, but he had to try. Balthazar's eyes began to flutter open in time to see Dave bent over Veronica's still form casting the complex spell.

Any other apprentice would have been unable to supply the direction and will needed to find only the spell or poison that needed to be removed and quarantine it, but Dave persevered and after a few tense moments, he sagged back. Veronica's eyes opened and a single orb of energy hovered where Dave had left it. Balthazar grabbed onto Veronica, who merely looked at him.

"I am fine, Balthazar," she said softly. Balthazar's eyes narrowed for a second before he sighed in relief and turned to his apprentice. "That purging spell was risky, Dave. I'm glad it worked at all, let alone correctly!"

Dave nodded. "I know it was a risk, but Balthazar, I couldn't just let her die!"

Balthazar nodded and then got to his feet. "Okay, fun's over. It's time to figure out what happened to Horvath."

Dave let out a breath and said, "When I saw him, he was at the lab door. He saw me, and ran off towards his car. I cast a stray plasma bolt at him, but I was worried enough about you two that I came running in here... All I could see was Veronica looking at me and a plate on the table... I couldn't see you and I was suddenly sure that Horvath had somehow stolen the grimhold with you in it."

Balthazar frowned. "Were you worried or panicked before you came inside?"

Dave thought for an instant and then said, "Worried... But as soon as I came in, I knew something had gone wrong, even though there was no evidence of a fight or anything."

Balthazar nodded to himself and then said, "Then the spell was on the door- Horvath must have known you would be the first person to cross the entrance."

Dave sighed. "So I'm yet again the weak link. Isn't that just wonderful?"

Veronica placed one hand on his shoulder. "No, not the weak link. Not even the most were merely going to be in the right place at the right time for his needs."

Dave gave her an unconvinced smile and turned to Balthazar. "So now what do we do?"

Balthazar's brow furrowed in thought for a second before he said, "Track him, I suppose. He has your ring- something I would dearly love to get back into Merlinian hands- as well as other power that he has stolen."

It was Dave's turn to frown. "No, he doesn't. Just the cane and my ring... At least, that's all that was glowing this morning."

Balthazar glanced at his apprentice, but didn't question him. "Maybe the other two focuses shorted out when you electrocuted him. At any rate, he is still too powerful to be taken head on until Veronica and I are fully recovered... So I guess just wear wards and stay near Becky."

Dave's eyes widened as he remembered how his girlfriend had been used against him once by Horvath. "Wards?"

Veronica stepped forward. "Magical shields. Here, hold still. I will set some for you." Dave tensed as he waited for something to happen, but he didn't feel anything- not even when Veronica smiled and looked at him. "You are done. Try not to confront Horvath, but they should protect you mostly."

Dave nodded and ran out the door with the cell phone already at his ear, shouting a "Thanks, Veronica!" over his shoulder.