Episode Twenty Seven
Sometimes glass glitters more then diamonds because it has more to prove.
Sometimes glass glitters more then diamonds because it has more to prove.
The trail thickened. Tobie rounded the art building and paused. The great tree in the center of the sculptures rustled in the cold wind, bringing with it a foul smell and subtle color. Forcing himself not to shiver he continued towards the back of the school.
The trees thinned out. The hedges lost their prune. Grass turned wild as the gardener's boundaries came under foot. A bush and tree lined footpath lead to the dirt clearing, overlooking the city; a popular place for couples to sneak away from the school's many watchful eyes. The view now was distorted, magnified through a huge undulating mirror. An oily miasma lifted up from the ground, curling in the air. The Glimmer's enlargement created an oily spot in it center. Oily with a slight iridescence, it pulsed and revolved slowly with each liquid movement.
Tobie glared at the sized up Glimmer; Layah cradled gently in the tentacle like protrusions jutting out from the jelly body. "This little obsession has gone far enough. Set her down. Now."
More glassy tentacles snaked from the body, coiling around the girl. It was oddly...protective.
Tobie laughed derisively. "You like her," he heckled. "What a joke! Pathetic little baby demon, not even fully realized yet, only a Glimmer of potential in love with a human. Tch." He crossed his arms. "Figures. How completely lame. Oh well." He smirked. "This'll be quick."
Amber crackled over his knuckles. He envisioned a tight net around it, thick amber strands tightening against its core, conveniently leaving Layah free of its confines. His hand rose. Fingers flexed. The Glimmer swayed, flattening to the ground and scraping Layah's side across the dirt. The bright net collapsed and spurted out just where it had been. The image solid in his mind; Tobie materialized it faster. The Glimmer spun, swirling. It lifted Layah into the air, her body limp, feet dangling below her Dora the Explorer skirt. A tentacle wrapped around her ankle and her foot slipped into the gelatinous mass. The dark mass in the center crackled.
Sweat beaded Tobie's forehead and he grit his teeth."Hold still." A net, twisting escape; net, dodge. The Glimmer twisted and whirled faster and faster, lifting the girl higher each time, a little more sliding into the Glimmer, the clear jelly contorting her small body. "Ugh!" A shot of concentrated amber cut through the air.
A tentacle of translucent light lifted from the body, batting the amber away as easily as a buzzing fly.
Shock stroked through Tobie's veins, momentarily freezing him in place. His legs, on autopilot, jerked him down just as his own attack flew past him, singing the hair by his earring. The metal heated, glowed. Tobie rolled, then balanced up on his knee, hand slapping at the side of his head. "I'm fine. Assurance. All's well, Luc." Tobie rolled to dodge an attack. "Not that your listening..."
"Are you listening? Luc!" Marie slammed the report down, clipboard banging on the table. She leaned forward with a glare. Lucas squinted up at her then went back to staring blankly at the opposite wall. His breath hitched.
Lucas tensed, his eyes closing.
Rocketing forward, Lucas sneezed. Marie flipped the report up to shield her face just in time.
"Ugh." Lucas sniffed, running a finger under his nose.
"Use a tissue," Marie admonished, shoving the box on the table at him.
Lucas took a few and blew his nose noisily. "Sorry. What'd ya say?"
Marie sighed. She set the report on the table and slid it towards him. "More info on the Iota prefecture."
"The perfecter with the disappearing act." Lucas tossed the used tissue into the waste paper basket below the table and picked up the clipboard. He grimaced and wiped the first piece of paper with his cuff. "So what--"
Marie shook her head and cupped her ear, raising a finger. She glanced at the ceiling, teeth sliding over her lip.
Lucas held impatient silence, eyes fixed on Marie.
Finally she took a breath.
"What's up with upper management?"
Marie turned to the door. "Going to find out now. I'm headed by notations. Come on."
"Oh? The lowly Alt is invited?" Lucas stood with mock surprise.
Marie opened the door and turned back with a sigh. "Just behave. And don't sneeze on anyone."
Tobie ran up the clearing, tentacles crashing into the ground just behind his steps. Running out of dirt, he whirled, knee striking the earth, arms crossing above his face. Three glassy tentacles raced his way, braiding together ready to spear him through. Just as they reached him a field of light blossomed over Tobie's arms. A shield, threads weaving themselves in a round shield of light wrapped two strong bands sent a shock through the tentacles. Twisting to lower the shield Tobie took another shot, rolling on his side inches from the drop off. The amber connected to the shifting air, blowing a foot wide hole in the Glimmer. It howled. Layah dropped, was caught by a tentacle and jerked right, loosing a shoe. Tentacles wrapped around her neck and torso, pulling her closer; engulfing her far enough to make her limbs protrude like a drooping doll. Her face flushed a bright pink, a small coo emitted from her parted lips.
"Don't you dare." Tobie was on his feet. "She belongs here! Not like you." The shield unraveled, filling his hand filled with light. "I'll send you back in pieces!" An amber short sword hit the glimmer's protective wall of poisons. A jet of foul air hissed from the shield. The Glimmer shifted backwards, closer to the cliff. Tobie's hand went to the pommel, forcing all his strength down into the spirit. The sword sunk, Tobie let out a yell and the hilt slammed into the edge of the shield. The air erupted with a scream of steam and shattering glass. Tobie lifted a hand, palm filling with light. He shoved it into the hole created by his last attack, now approachable with out the shield, and detonated the amber. The Glimmer filled with refracting light. Tobie twisted the blade and urged it further into the spirit. The tip edged towards the oily molten center, hitting it just as Layah let out a gurgle and went limp. Amber and oil clashed, rebounded then set against each other. With a determined cry the amber won. An explosion of kimetic energy ripped through the clearing, blinding, and deafening; painting the clearing a warm but dirty yellow.
In the shocked silence that followed a shadow dropped from a twisted tree near the edge of the clearing. Brushing leaves from the leaves of a military coat, he strode towards Tobie's body.
The soft tinkle of bells.
"He did well," Holon said, kneeling next to Tobie. "Help him now."
Defiant whoosh of agitated wind. A ball of light streamed out towards the ground, and the spite Anemone materialized; wagging her finger and glaring at Tobie.
Holon smiled. "Aye. But for the child's sake, revive him."
Anemone crossed her arms, but her sparkling gaze wandered towards Layah; motionless in the grass. Her mouth twisted with deliberation.
"That's my girl," Holon whispered as she knelt beside Tobie. "Let him wake on his own." Holon turned back towards the school at the sound of foot steps and a distant, "Layah!"
Light filled the space between Anemone's palms, just above Tobie's chest. It sank into his coat, shining against his zipper a moment before vanishing. Tobie groaned, taking a deep breath.
Anemone stood, the edges of her body fading as she reverted back to the small orb that darted back to Holon. Just as they vanished into the treeline, Tobie's eyes opened.
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