"You insolent brats," Vignette hissed. "I should have suspected you'd be willing to try and kill a Master to protect the drow. She truly has corrupted you." The teacher waved her wand, and all three students were ripped from the wall again. They floated in the air in a row, choking and thrashing futilely.
"You...can't...kill her," Belthor managed in a hoarse voice.
"She is a kidnapper and likely preparing to murder Hastel, if she has not already," Vignette said. "She may have more foul purposes for him than that. Forgive me for putting the life of one of my students above the life of his attacker."
"She's...not...evil!" Tori gasped.
"I will start with Belthor," Vignette said, and he choked as he was hauled closer by his neck, right into her face. "Where has she gone, son of Morse? Tell me, and you will merely be expelled and not charged as an accomplice."
What would Estelle do?
Belthor spat in her face. He cried out as she flicked her wand and his arm twisted behind his back brutally, lighting everything from his wrist to his shoulder on fire.
"Wrong answer." The Master crossed her arms, her wand seeming to glow in the light. "You have two more failures, Belthor. Then there will be no chance for redemption."
Belthor tried to kick her. He screamed as his leg was next to twist, and bones cracked.
"Stop it!" Tori cried. Sam thrashed viciously, but any time he tried to level his hands at Vignette, her wand flicked and they twisted up over his head. He hissed in pain each time.
"That was two. One more chance, son of Morse." Vignette put her wand to his throat. "I hope you appreciate the gravity of your predicament. Another wrong answer will land you in a prison facing the death sentence. Maybe you and Theron will be roommates again."
That was when Belthor saw victory in the doorway. Vignette's eyes narrowed as he looked away from her, though, so-
"Go...to...hell," he snarled. "Your school...is a sham."
"A pity. You were a very promising student." Vignette shook her head. "Normally, I would give you to a court, but since you did assault me...perhaps if Victoria and Samuel see what is awaiting them, they will be a bit more compliant."
"Leave him alone!" Sam cried. "Don't you-" He howled as Vignette slammed him into the wall.
"Don't touch him!" Tori's hair caught on fire, but her struggles meant nothing. The flames went out a second later when her arms twisted like Belthor's, and she shrieked.
"Horas," Vignette said, and a Rune on her wand glowed yellow. "I invoke the God of D-"
A finger tapped her shoulder. Her pause was almost comical.
"What is it?" she asked the man behind her, turning with a very cross look. "I am in the middle of-"
Walker's fist was three-quarters the size of her head to start with, and his cross was blindingly fast. She spun in a circle three full times before hitting the mystic pantry and collapsing on her back. As Belthor, Tori, and Sam fell to the floor, gasping in air, the pantry collapsed too: right on top of the woman with a crash!
"Get up!" The big man grabbed Sam first. "You kids all right?"
"A moment!" Belthor grabbed his leg. "Nerien!" He waited through the flash of white and the burst of pain...and then he was up. "Tori!" He repeated the process on her arms.
"Thanks." She let him help her to her feet. "Is she-"
"She's out," Walker said. "I dealt with the chumps in the halls outside, too. Your staffs are by the door."
"Thank you!" Belthor hurried out and took his in hand, sighing in relief as he was reunited with the tool. Sam and Tori claimed theirs too.
"Hastel's missing. I hear Agnete did it." Walker followed them into the hall.
"I think that's right," Belthor said. "I don't know what happened, but something must have. Protec and Vignette wanted to know if we knew where she was. They want to kill her."
"Do you know?" Walker asked. Belthor shook his head.
"But I can find out!" He pulled out the Ardwal glass. "Spellweaver. Show me Agnete."
The glass rippled. Tori and Sam crowded around his shoulders, while Walker just loomed, but all eyes were on the little window through space.
"That's up in the mountains," Walker observed as the glass showed rock crevices and a sheer drop. "That's quite a ways up."
"She must have hiked all night to get there," Sam agreed.
"She might have, but you're lucky I showed up. I know those mountains like the back of my hand." The big man cracked his neck. "There's a much faster way there, if you know where you're going. I figure she wandered until she found something that suited her purposes. Probably got turned around a lot in the dark, and she had to sleep sometime."
"What purposes?" Belthor asked. "What's she going to do to him?" He gestured to Hastel, lying in the snow. "Kill him? Why is this spot better than any other?"
"Kill him? Why would she kill him?" Walker frowned. "Ain't you studied portals and magic, son?"
"Yes!" Belthor blinked. "What does that have to-"
"Your friend's a drow and a Vod-witch," Walker pointed out. "I ain't got no more against drow than I got against humans, which ain't sayin' much but it's something, but what occurs to me here, Spellweaver, is that we have a drow sorceress and witch pushed to her limit, with a human captive in a remote location with nothing to lose."
"And?" Tori asked.
"You ever heard the expression summoning Char?" Walker asked. Belthor stiffened.
"She wouldn't. She...she can't, she's not one of the Four-"
"All it takes is a living sacrifice and enough time to set up the ritual and perform it," Walker said. "He ain't even need the person to be dead first! Just blood spilt and incantations done, and he comes tearing out of a portal to Hell."
"Agnete would never-"
"Then why's she settin' up that street art, eh?" Walker asked. He gestured to the lines carved into the plateau. "She's gonna cut his wrists and give him to the Forgotten Lord of Hell to start the Scour."
"She's not one of the Four-"
"Who taught you that nonsense? Protec?" Walker's eyes flashed. "You seriously still believe a word he's got to spout on drow claptrap?"
"I don't believe it." Belthor swallowed.
"Bel, maybe she is and maybe she isn't, but there's a chance she is," Sam said. "We have to assume she is and get to her before she can get all the way through the process."
"He's right," Tori said. "We need to go. Now." She glanced at Walker. "I assume you're-"
"I'm coming." The big man smirked. "I'm your guide, ain't I?"
"Move." Belthor clutched his staff and hurried down the hall. He took the stairs two at a time, his friends behind him all the way. They hit the ground floor at a run, and in less than a minute they were out in the snow. Belthor shivered, wishing he'd remembered to grab his scarf and coat.
"Here." Tori lit her hands, and the warmth was just enough to make life bearable. Belthor gave her a little smile.
"This way." Walker waved, and the quartet hurried eastward for the hills. Belthor worriedly glanced back at the glass, looking on as Agnete stared from her perch, waving her hand every few minutes to carve more and more intricate lines in the snow and rock around her.
"She's going to do it," he whispered. "She's actually going to...Agnete, why?"
The four ground to a halt. Tori and Sam turned, and their faces glowed blue in the fading light. Belthor turned too.
"Well, shit," Walker grunted, as they all looked up at the pillar of blue light racing into the sky from the center of the campus. "That'll be the shield."
"We have...five minutes. Maybe." Tori turned away. "We've got to-"
In a flash of light, their path to the forest was intercepted. Belthor clutched his staff.
"I knew you knew where she was," Protec said, wand in hand as he stood between the four and escape. His breath came out in one great cloud of steam. "Give me that glass."