HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 290

Carmen came around the desk and leaned in close, tracing the mark with her slender fingers.

“This looks like that old wizard Galdrar’s handiwork,” she said. “A summoning rune.” She chuckled. “Trying to stop him from taking you back home, are you? Naughty boy. What would your father say?”

“Probably some bullshit about duty and honor,” Eric said. “But I don’t care. Verden’s stuck in the past. My future is here.”

“Hey, you don’t have to convince me,” Carmen said, returning to the whiteboard. “You think you had it rough as a prince in that world, try being a woman. And a witch, for that matter. So, yeah, I wouldn’t want to go back, either. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do to unravel a spell like this. At least, not without my—”

Eric slammed his book down on Carmen’s desk so hard Angela felt the floor shudder. Carmen reached out and touched the cover as if to make sure it was really there.

“I haven’t seen this since the day I came to this world,” she said. “How did you find it?”

“By accident,” Eric replied. “I was looking for any books or artifacts that might have crossed over from the homeland. This one spent the past fifty years bouncing from one antiquities dealer to another. None of them quite knew what they had on their hands. But I did. That’s how I knew you were here.”

“Crafty,” Carmen said. “You’d actually fare quite well in the royal court if you did become king.”

“That’s not going to happen,” he said. “Look, here’s the deal: you get this thing off of me, and you can keep your grimoire when you’re done.”

Carmen arched an eyebrow and crossed her arms.

“Do you have any idea how much damage I can do with this?” she asked. “How much I’ve already done?”

“I’ve heard the stories,” he replied.

“Stories don’t do me justice,” she said. “I’ve rained death and destruction on entire nations, and you would hand me back that power just so you can stay in this world for a few measly decades? Just what is your freedom worth?”