Whatever sorcery had created the Graffiti Knight’s staff, it worked against The Thing That Eats. He hit it, and with every hit, the Thing That Eats deflated a little more and the embodied ghosts faded.
With the last hit, any remains of The Thing disappeared, leaving Necromancer bruised, bloodied and unconscious. In that same blow, all the ghosts disappeared.
Maybe there was something to the idea that Graffiti Knight’s powers came from an old god.
Amy examined Necromancer without touching her or putting down her spear. “She’s still infected.”
I glanced over at Amy, “What do we do with her then?”
Amy shook her head. “I don’t know yet. I’ve got a bad feeling that we’ll have more like her to store before this is over.”
Graffiti Knight made a symbol in the air with his hand and a silver glow surrounded Necromancer. She lifted up from the ground and floated at about waist high.
As if answering my unspoken question, Graffiti Knight said, “It’s a lot like a magical circle, but as you can see, it’s slow, so I can’t use it in a fight.”
Letters and symbols from unknown alphabets formed and disappeared in the glow. Whatever it was, I couldn’t do it. From the way she stared at it, neither could Amy.
“How did you do that?” She asked.
Hard to see as it was through his helmet, Graffiti Knight smiled. “I wish I knew. I’m not really a wizard. It’s all a kind of cosmic accident. I was stocking shelves—”
Amothel stepped up, her wings gone, sword at her side. “Please, I doubt that the Bloodmaiden will have any wish to revisit your days as a clerk.”
Graffiti Knight stepped back and told Amy. “Too true. I’m sure you have better things to do than listen to me ramble. And I’ve barely started at this. Imagine what I’ll be like when I’ve got some real stories to tell.”
As Amothel led him away, I took a quick check of the situation.
We ourselves stood in the grass next to the small parking lot that guests used when visiting the Dykstra building. Philo, now controlled by the The Thing That Eats, stood next to the edge of Dykstra’s nearest plaza, watched by Vengeance and the Hangmen.
Each of the Hangmen had stretched out their ropes and were twirling them like lassos—ready to capture The Thing and anything else that needed it. Damaged, burnt grass all around the spot where Philo stood showed that he’d tried to escape more than once.
Jillian and Latoya remained stuck together, but not unconscious.
Alden was nowhere to be seen. Combining that with The Thing That Eats statement that we’d already lost but didn’t know it yet, worried me.
It might only have been an attempt to demoralize us. If so, it deserved congratulations because I was worried. I decided to describe the situation to Haley and everyone else back at HQ.
I finished it off with, “So, that’s it. I don’t know where Alden went. I mean, the obvious place is the dorms, but he could be in any of them. I’ve been checking dePuit from here, but I haven’t seen anything…”
Haley made a noise with her tongue. “Maybe you should go into dePuit. If he’s got Jillian’s key card, he could get inside before you know it.”
In the background, Kid Biohack said, “I should go over there. They don’t have anybody fast enough to handle Alden.”
“Sorry. Just a second,” Haley’s voice became less clear. Maybe she’d turned away from the microphone. I didn’t hear the first part, but as she continued, she said, “… But if you get bitten, then they’ll have two superfast Things to deal with.”
The next thing I heard sounded like feet scraping across the floor followed by a door shutting.
“He’s gone,” Haley said. “If you’re lucky, you’ll be seeing him soon and he’ll be himself.”
How lucky that is depends, I thought to myself, on whether there were more options than Kid Biohack and The Thing That Eats. A third option might be an improvement.
What I said was, “Got it.”
Even as I said it, Kid Biohack was coming to a stop on the sidewalk next to the van.
Philo instantly noticed him—The Thing That Eats’ head turning to watch.
At about the same time I noticed movement in dePuit Hall. People were walking down the stairway into the main lobby of the building—lots of people.
It didn’t take any great insight to guess what had happened. I shouted, “Look,” and pointed at about the same time Rod did.
Samita shouted at Kid Biohack, “You! Wear a circle in the grass around that building!”
“It’s a rectangle. Can’t do a circle,” he shouted back.
“Oval!” Samita waved him toward dePuit. “Make a protective oval!”
“He’s unprotected,” I told Samita.
“Do you have a better idea?” Samita shouted, “Bloodmaiden! Circle!”
“Oval!” Amy said, imitating Samita’s tone.