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That unsubstantial death is amorous

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By using NotEnrique's connection to his familiar, Douxie and Archie had been able to find Enrique; they had texted everyone using the groupchat. It was a good thing that they had set up a separate groupchat for memes, or else Jim would have ignored it.

He stood in front of a relatively nondescript warehouse, like some bad horror movie or action film. First to arrive, he knew he should probably wait for backup. After all, last time he tried to rescue Enrique on his own he had fucked up badly enough that he had released a genocidal warlord.

Then again, last time he tried to rescue Enrique, he had been in the care of someone who needed him safe. The goblins and changelings had needed him safe. They didn't know enough about the spellslinging kidnapper to know if he would try to keep Enrique relatively unharmed, or how long Enrique had to live.

Well, at least the warehouse was near the hospital, should anything go wrong.

Jim cut the lock with his glaives, and then switched to wielding Daylight.

“I know you're in here,” he growled, turning about. "”Where's Enrique?”

A bolt of red magic struck his side. Jim snarled in pain, summoning his shield and turning to where the attack had come from. The sorcerer stepped out of the surely magical shadows, holding Enrique in one arm.

“Oh, the baby?” he drawled. “You'll have to take him from me.”

The sorcerer set down Enrique, a cage forming around Claire's little brother. He then took a few shots at Jim. They left embers on the floor between them; it must have been some sort of fire-type magic. It was a good thing that he had his armor, then.

Jim charged him, and the embers formed chains that forced him into a kneeling position. His hands were bound behind his back.

Jim's breath shook; he tried to remind himself that Merlin was dead, Gunmar was dead, Usurna was dead, all of them were dead. It was hard to do so when the sorcerer approached him with a smile like a cat who found a mouse in the mousetrap. He raised his arm to the ceiling and used it to form a narrow circle of holes. Sunlight streamed through them. Good thing Jim had placed the Daywalking stone into his amulet; as long as it didn't get stolen he'd be okay.

“Not so brave now, eh?” The sorcerer pressed his long, thin fingers into the space between the amulet and the rest of Jim's armor, before tearing it out and placing it in his pocket. Shit. “Try not to burn yourself, okay? I want you to watch this.”

The sorcerer pulled out a glass tube, like one of the ones in the science lab. It was filled with dark purple dust. Could it be Grave Sand? Except no, Grave Sand was more glittery.

The sorcerer popped the cork and began to spread it in a circle. He placed the amulet in the center. He then grabbed Enrique and opened a pocket knife.

Jim tried to break through the bars of sunlight. If he was as small as he had been when he was human, maybe he could have done it. All that happened instead was that Jim cried out in pain.

The runes began to glow with a dark purple light, and Jim looked away from the ritual to see if he could sense any sign of, oh, a group of high school juniors looking for the right warehouse.

“Baba Yaga, Pale Lady, Eldritch Queen,” the sorcerer said. “I bring you the brother of the one who dared to seal you in the Shadow Realm, to do with as you will.”

Maybe Jim could convince the sorcerer that as the trollhunter, he was a better sacrifice than Enrique?

“In return,” the sorcerer continued, “I ask that you impart a fraction of your great power into me.”

If it weren’t for the underlying panic, Jim would’ve joked that the sorcerer needed to talk to Angor Rot about how trying to get magic from Morgana was a bad idea. Maybe it would cure this guy’s ego, or something.

Then again, there was the telltale sound of the clinking of five clawed fingers forcing themselves through the portal and resting on the concrete.

Shit. Jim (and the others, wherever they were) was not ready to face Morgana; not again.

Jim looked back at the portal just in time to see five more clawed fingers forced themselves through the portal. No, it had to be a trick of the light.

It wasn’t. Those two hands clad in purple clawed armor pushed a purple-helmeted head out of the portal, and then shoulders, and then Claire swung herself out of the Shadow Realm.

She was alive. She was alive, and they had left her there. They should have tried harder to find a way to save her.

“Give me back my brother!” Claire said, lunging for the sorcerer. As she did so, she scuffed the runes and kicked the amulet out of the center of the portal, effectively closing it. She grabbed her brother and held him to her chest with one arm. With the arm not holding her brother, she swiped with her claws. When she narrowly missed the sorcerer, thin whips formed from the end of the claws. They raked across the sorcerer’s face.

Jim wanted to warn Claire about the embers, to tell her that he was sorry they hadn’t rescued her, to tell her that he loved he like he should have all those months ago.

All he could say was her name. Her name, and the incantation to join the fight.