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A book will set you free. You and the troll.

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It was a terrible accident.

Leo and Adam can swear on their lives that what happened had not been part whatsoever of any plan they might have had – which they hadn't because they never have plans – and at any moment they were aware of the consequences of their actions. This part is going to be way more easy to believe for Blaine if they ever tell him, something they are still discussing about, because they are usually never aware of any consequence of any actions.

Point is, this time they weren't even aware of the action. They were just there, doing nothing and it happened. Actually, it didn't exactly go like that – and they agreed on not telling it to Blaine like this, if it ever comes to that – bu it's not like they were doing something in order to get some kind of reaction, so to speak. Like, for example, that time that he and Adam went and stole some apples from the garden of that ugly dude of the village, even though they had been explicitly told by the dude not to do that. They were aware of the action they were doing. They just wanted to make him mad. It looked like a funny thing to do. They didn't know the guy would rally all the villagers and convince them Blaine was a male witch raising three demon-kids. Consequences? Unexpected. Action? They were aware of it. Luckily for them, Blaine can be very persuasive. He charmed all the screaming ladies and some of the men into swooning over him and chatted up the rest while Annie cleared everybody's memory... What a night!

But this right here is madness and they cannot be held accountable for it, right?

In fact, they came in the kitchen to kind of introduce the problem to Blaine – they usually try to ease their mentor into the idea that something might possibly have gone slightly bad somewhere – and found out the kitchen was no more. What this morning was a small but comfy kitchen is now a war zone. The long, heavy wooden table is upside down against a wall, judging by the debris on the floor they don't have a dining set anymore and there's a goblin or a troll, something green, gruesome and greasy, that's trapping Blaine in a corner. The man is 6'2” with strong arms and a lifelong training, and yet he can't do anything because that thing stands between him and his longsword and it growls every time he moves a muscle. Maybe that's not the right moment to tell him that they might have something to do with it. It would only make his situation worse and Blaine always says that doing nothing is better than doing something wrong.

“Do something, sweetheart,” Blaine is saying to Annie. “It doesn't seem a very patient creature.”

Annie is standing a few feet away and she's flipping frantically through the pages of a big black book Leo and Adam know very well. “I don't know what to do!” She says in a panic. “It wasn't supposed to work!”

“And yet it did!” Blaine says, maybe the slightest tinge of hysterics in his voice, as he tries to fend off the monster with a pan. “And I'm very, very proud of you. But it's time to send it back.”

“I don't know how!”

That's a very bad sign. Now, the three of them screw up all the time. They're supposed to, they are in training. Problem is, when Leo messes up he usually misses a target. When Adam messes up, it's probably because he was holding his sword wrong. Those are things Blaine can handle because he's a warrior too. But Annie is a witch, she uses magic and when she messes up, things burst into flames, explode or vanish. And nobody but her can fix them. So when she doesn't know what to do they are all screwed.

“What's going on here?” Adam asks. He's got this flair for the dramatic, the hero-arrives-to-save-the-day kind of thing. He's been making entrances since he was old enough to climb on rocks and give speeches.

“Boys, stay away!” Blaine orders. “This is too dangerous!”

That's when the troll – or whatever it is – stops growling at Blaine and turns around. At first, everybody thinks that Blaine just drew its attention to them, but then they all realize that the troll is sniffing the air. Suddenly, its eyes zero in on Leo and it takes a step forward.

“What is it doing?”

“Coming after you,” Adam comments.

“I don't like that. Blaine?” Leo calls, taking a step back.

“Stay calm,” he says. He feels a little more confident now that he can slowly move behind the creature's back and towards his sword. “It's not gonna attack you if you don't move.”

“Not very reassuring,” Leo hisses between his teeth as he keeps looking in the monster's eyes. A lot less romantic than it sounds.

“What the heck is it? How did it enter the house?” Adam asks. The creature growls on Leo's face almost in response.

Annie is still flipping through the pages. “It's a troll and it's not supposed to be here,” she says. “It came out of the book and it can't—“

Something crashes, then clangs, then clatters to the floor. The result is a very puzzled troll and Blaine massaging his wrist after losing the sword.

“—be killed with weapons,” Annie concludes with a sigh. “We need magic.”

“Then magic him away!” Leo screeches as the troll recovers from Blaine's pointless attack and takes a step forward. It seems very attracted to Leo, which would be flattering if it wasn't a stinky flesh-eating monster. “You're the witch!”

“I can't! It's not supposed to return in the book!”

“Whatever it is, that book is dangerous!” Leo screams again. “And it's weird as hell!”

“What do you know about the book?”

Blaine rolls his eyes and he wonders why he brought upon himself the tragedy of three teenagers. “Kids, there's a time and place to argue and guess what? It's not now or here!”

Confused by the screaming and unnerved by the proximity of an hungry troll with very bad oral hygiene, Leo just cracks. “Alright! Fine! We know the book,” he confesses. “We also touched the book, but we didn't read it!”

That's important, because she told them at least a trillion times not to read from her books because books of magic are not just books, words have power and so on. They didn't read it, and yet here they are with an overgrown frog in the kitchen. Maybe, if they had read it, they would have known the book was a troll hazard.

“You weren't supposed to touch it!” Annie screams.

“You never said anything about touching!”

“Why did you touch it?” Annie screams again.

“Because it was there!”

“Do you touch everything just because it's there?” She asks in shock.

That gives Leo pause. He looks at Adam and Adam looks back, nodding. “Well, yes.”

“It was a trap, you idiot!” She bursts out, struggling very hard not to throw him the book.

A collective “What?” raises from the three men in the house, and then Leo adds, “Why did you put a trap in our room?”

“I didn't put a trap. I just made a trap out of a book and then I put the book back among my things, which you weren't supposed to touch!” Annie clarifies. “Besides, I didn't think it was working!”

“Well, congratulation, it does! Now undo whatever it is!”

“I can't!” She hisses at him. “That's how the trap works! You write a spell, put it in the book, the victim touches the book and one random word is erased from the spell. The spell gets unstable, the troll comes out and eats the victim.”

“What?!” Leo screeches again as the troll, maybe recognizing the word eat, licks his arm. Once again, not sexy at all.

“Yeah. And I can't stop the spell without knowing what word it is.”

“Here! I've got it!” Leo shows her his open hand. The book was big and black, with round studs everywhere. It looked great. He and Adam were fascinated. Leo just had to hold it, even if just for a second. He didn't even open it. There was a green flash and he found himself with gibberish tattooed on his hand. But the hand is clean now. “What? Where did it go?”

“Did you really think it would stay on your hand?” Annie asks, halfway between shocked and frustrated. “It's literally the only thing that would save the victim, why would I want to give it to them?”

“I don't know! To save them?” Leo answers from behind the upturned table, where he hid to get away from a now bolder and hungrier troll. The creature scratches and scratches at the wood with its long claws and it seems completely unfazed by Blaine and Adam who keep hitting it with their blades, just in case. Now that it knows it cannot be killed by them, it seems like it decided to let them do whatever they want. “Annie, come on! Do something!”

“Is there anything you can do, sweetheart?” Blaine encourages her.

“Well, I could re-read the entire spell. I should be able to understand what word is missing,” she offers, uncertainly. “But it's a thirty pages long spell. It might take a while.”

“We can distract him!” Adam says, confidently. “Hey, monster!”

But the monster doesn't even bother to turn around. It keeps scratching and growling in Leo's direction. Leo grabs the first thing he finds, which happens to be a vase, and bonks the troll on his head with it several times before it breaks. Vase zero, troll's head one.

“Look over here!” Blaine roars. This time the monster does turn around and for a moment it seems confused. He keeps looking from Blaine to Leo and back. “Yeah, creature of the abyss, look me in the eyes!”

“Why does he listen to him?” Adam asks, a little bit hurt, honestly.

“Because they look alike,” Annie explains, without looking up from the pages of the book that she seems to be drinking up more than reading. She gives to fast-reading a whole new meaning. “That's why he was attacking Blaine earlier. It thought he was Leo. The spell is still unrefined. The troll has just a vague idea of what it's supposed to attack. My bad.”

“Oh, my bad” Leo mocks her as he takes advantage of the distraction to get away from the troll. Putting some distance between them, he can now aim at it with his crossbow. “I just left a deadly trap in our common room!”

“Jeez, Leo!” She hisses. “If you didn't go snooping around—“

“I wasn't snooping!”

“Shut up! Both of you!” Blaine roars, and the room falls silent, except for the troll that keeps snarling. “Annie, find that word while we keep it at bay. And you two less words, more fighting.”

They can be a handful, but they've been trained well, and so the moment they have their orders, they can work as a team. Annie focuses on reading and leaves the troll to the boys. Leo takes advantage of the resemblance between him and Blaine to confuse the troll, and every time the creature moves from Blaine to Leo and vice versa, Adam hits him with the sword. He can't kill him, but he can very well give him head trauma.

At some point, Annie smiles, even if none of the others can see her. She realizes what is the word that is missing and that allows the troll to be free of the book. She screams it out louder than she should be able to. Her voice fills the room, rumbling like the thunder, deafening Blaine and the boys for a moment. There's another green lightening and the troll is gone. The boys collapse to the floor as she goes on reading.

They can feel her magic now, swiping the room, grabbing what's left of the troll and putting it back in the book. Then, with her last spoken word, the book closes by itself in her hands and the fight is over. She lets herself go on her friends, tiredly, her head cradled in Adam's lap. “That was close,” she whispers.

“Too close,” Blaine nods, sitting right next to them. “You're very good, princess, but we need to find you a proper teacher for those powers of yours. As for you two, we need new ground rules.”

Leo looks around to the very meager remnants of their poor kitchen. “We need a lot of new things.”

Blaine glares at him for a moment, then he just bursts out laughing. There was a time when he was a normal teacher, giving lessons, being paid, living a quiet and normal life. Now everything is bickering, teens fighting and, apparently, trolls.

New things, indeed.