HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 318

“Just for the record,” the demon said. “If this goes wrong, I’ll find a way to haunt all of you.”

“Noted,” Carmen said, and started chanting again.

Just like before, the lines on the table glowed and the demon contorted in pain. It was no easier to watch now that he was doing it willingly. The ritual continued for an uncomfortably long time until, finally, the demon let out a gasp and an arc of light passed from his eyes to the pendant in front of him.

Norman blinked, glancing around in confusion.

“Wh-what happened?” he stammered.

“It’s okay, babe,” Cyrus said, squeezing Norman’s shoulder. “You’re free.”

“Oh no,” Norman muttered. “No no no. I was trying to help him and you just… you killed him. He—”

“Don’t be so melodramatic, Norman,” Carmen said, plucking the pendant from the table. “Your friend is right here. Safe and sound.”

“I don’t understand,” Norman said.

“I’ll explain later,” Cyrus said. “Or try to, anyway.”

Carmen stood from the booth and gestured for Frederica to follow. They moved to an empty space in the room. Carmen clutched the pendant in one hand and made a complicated series of gestures with the other. A swirling black portal appeared at their feet.

“Did you have to put it on the floor?” Frederica asked. “Or was that just for dramatic effect?”

“A lady never tells,” Carmen replied, and offered Frederica the pendant. “Would you care to do the honors?”

Frederica took the pendant and weighed it in her hand. It didn’t feel any different than it had before. Hard to believe there was something living in there. Then a cold sensation crept up Frederica’s arm and spread through her body. A voice like cracking ice spoke in her head:

I suppose I owe you an apology.

“Nah, we’re good,” Frederica replied. “I was being annoying. I’m just glad it worked out.”

So am I. Thank you.