Carmen drew arcane symbols on the table in chalk while Marcus filled her in on everything he’d learned about the Beast of Morangias. When he finished, she set down the chalk. The lines glowed white for a moment and then faded from sight.
“Okay,” she said, and turned to Frederica. “I’m going to be concentrating on the spellwork so I’ll need you to remove the binding charm for me. When I say ‘Beast,’ that’ll be your cue.”
“Got it,” Frederica replied.
“Is there anything else you need from us?” Marcus asked.
“Just don’t interrupt me once I get started,” Carmen replied. “Once the demon realizes what he’s up against, he won’t hold back.”
On the other side of the room, the door opened. Norman and Cyrus stepped through. Norman froze, started to turn back, but Cyrus placed his hand gently on his husband’s shoulder.
“Cy, what’s going on?” Norman asked.
“Just hear them out,” Cyrus replied. “I’ll be beside you the whole time.”
Norman bit his lip for a moment, then sighed. He followed Cyrus to the booth, and they slid into the empty seat together. Norman shifted nervously, his eyes darting between Carmen and the two students.
“I’d like to speak with the entity currently inhabiting this body,” Carmen said.
Norman hesitated, glancing from Carmen to Cyrus and back. He shook his head.
“I… I don’t…” he stammered, then something changed.
He sat up straight. His fidgeting stilled in an instant. The corner of his mouth curled, halfway between amusement and annoyance. And, finally, he turned his cold gaze on Frederica.
“Persistent, aren’t you?” he said. “I told you already that I don’t need your help.”
“I’m not here to help you,” Frederica replied. “I’m here for Norman. Obviously.”
The demon scoffed.
“Mr. Hobbes is fine,” he said. “I just need a bit more of his time and then you’ll have him back, good as new.”