An awkward air hung about the usual group. No one talked, no one laughed. Everyone sat around picking at their food.
Everyone except for Max. He had his usual double helping of refried beans and a side of string beans.
Eva wasn’t sure what was up with everyone. Juliana, she could understand. The girl had barely spoken two words since Eva refused to talk about blood magics or demonology.
She didn’t think she had done anything to the others. None of them asked about Shalise. Either they already knew she was back at home or they didn’t care.
Could they be worried over what happened on Halloween?
Even if they were, Eva didn’t know what to say. Juliana did not seem to like her opinions on the matter. The twins would probably like it less.
Eva picked through her own salad.
It wasn’t just her table in a mood. The rest of the lunchroom kept to themselves as well. A table holding a lot of normally loud fourth years was completely subdued.
The round table that normally held the student council was completely empty.
Eva regretted not finding out at least the years of the deceased students. The student council had more than six members, but if some of them died then the rest might be absent.
Or their parents had pulled students. There were at least two students in the first year whose parents wouldn’t allow them to remain at school. More might have followed suit had the Elysium Sisters not showed up.
One of the nuns stood guard in front of the large windows looking out into the Infinite Courtyard.
She barely avoided a glare from Eva as her thoughts drifted in the Sister’s direction.
Her hands were clasped behind her back as she slowly sent her gaze across the cafeteria. The nun should really be watching out the windows. It was almost as if she was expecting a horde of zombies to teleport inside the room at any moment.
Which, Eva supposed, they could. She’d seen several flesh golems materialize out of thin air in the street. Even with that, Eva wasn’t about to give the nun the benefit of the doubt.
Despite there being swarms of the nuns dotted around town and campus, Eva hadn’t been accosted by any of them since her first encounter outside the dorms. That didn’t stop Eva from being annoyed with their presence. That they seemed to spend most of their efforts watching the students rather than hunting necromancers only compounded Eva’s annoyance.
Eva let her fork drop into her dish with a loud clatter. Irene, surprisingly, was the one to jump at the noise. Eva didn’t pay the brunette any mind.
“I’m going to head to next class, I don’t think I’m very hungry.”
“Twillie won’t let you in until class starts,” Jordan said. “You’ll be stuck outside in the cold and snow.”
Eva gave the boy a shrug as she picked up her plate. “I’m loaded up with enough heat runes that I could confuse Antarctica with the Sahara.”
Eva gave the group a light smile before she walked through the courtyard doors, earning a glare from the Sister. She might have been the same one that originally tried to attack Eva. It was hard to tell for sure.
Most of the nuns looked so similar with their nun habits on that Eva had a difficult time telling them apart from each other. The few who wore the black robes were much easier to tell apart, but only because there were less to keep track of.
Trudging through the snow to Bradley Twillie’s zoo wasn’t a fun affair. No one bothered to shovel the snow on the paths in the courtyard. There were a few footprints from the classes earlier in the day, but that was as close as the road got to being clear.
Eva decided she didn’t like snow. It rarely snowed in the middle of Florida and when it did, it was less snow and more of cold rain. Snow had a nasty habit of getting all over the ground. It was deep enough that stepping in it would get it inside her shoes. Even with heat runes melting and warming the snow, Eva’s socks stayed soaking wet.
More than once she thought about increasing the temperature.
That was one of the reasons she went back to wearing her skirt with her gray top. It was high enough up that it didn’t get caught in the snow, unlike her pant legs. With heat runes, she could barely tell the difference between the temperature.
The boots the nuns wore were appealing. Hopefully the shops in town sold something similar. Simple shoes were just not good enough for Montana’s winter. Though, if it snowed more–something she figured it would–even the knee-high boots might not be high enough to keep the snow out.
Sadly, no boots would stop that horrid crunching sound.
Bradley Twillie’s zoo had a small area that had been cleared of snow in front of the main door. The door itself was locked, as Jordan predicted, so Eva took a seat on a bench near a snow-covered flowerbed. She leaned back and rested her eyes.
It wasn’t long before sounds of crunching snow approached her. Eva snapped her eyes open, making sure that the person wasn’t a threat.
The skinny form of Professor Twillie stumbled up to his own lecture room. He either wasn’t paying attention or simply ignored Eva; he walked straight to the door and stepped inside. The soft click of the door locking behind him may as well have been thunder in the silent outdoors.
Eva didn’t mind. She enjoyed the peace and quiet. Her feet were slowly yet surely drying.
Since arriving at Brakket, Eva had scarcely two minutes without someone else around. Usually that someone was Arachne, though Arachne wouldn’t have bothered her at the moment. She’d have been silent in spider form, clinging to Eva’s chest as another heat source.
The white forest was a serene place in any case, even if Eva would have preferred almost anyplace in Florida.
The serenity broke again with more crunching snow. That the sounds were coming from the wrong direction immediately put Eva on guard. She jumped to her feet with her hand already on the dagger attached to her back.
She relaxed as the approaching figure held up a hand in a peace gesture.
“You miss all the fun times, don’t you?”
“So I hear. Although, sneaking past all the Elysium Sisters is a bit of sporting fun.”
“I’m surprised you managed.”
“I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”
Eva snorted and a smile spread across her face. “I should hope so. You’ve got nothing else up it.”
“A problem I am still working on resolving,” her master said.
“So,” Eva said, crossing her arms, “you were just watching me and waiting until I was alone? What a creeper.”
“I said I have my tricks, girl. Don’t push your luck.” He took a step forward, waggling his finger in Eva’s direction.
Eva just laughed the gesture off. “I take it this isn’t a social call?”
“It has been three months and I would rather not be dragged here by a haunter again. Assuming you are still willing to go through with it?”
“Of course I do,” Eva answered without a moment’s hesitation. “Not that you’ve given me a choice before.”
“The only choice you’re being given now is between being knocked out or coming willingly.”
Eva glared at her master. He’d never acted like this in the past. “Why would you think I wouldn’t want to continue the experiment?”
“You have friends now, human friends. Human friends that might disagree with your ‘condition.’ I was concerned they might poison your mind.”
Eva scoffed. “The only poisoning done to my mind is your doing.”
Devon’s neutral expression turned to a glower at that.
Eva quickly amended, “though they say one man’s meat is another’s poison. I should think I’m in the former category with regards to the experiment.”
“Let’s get on with it then.”
He turned and started walking off into the forest.
“Right now?” Eva called after him. “I haven’t seen Arachne in a few days. She said she’d come back after she finished hiding some books, but she hasn’t returned yet.”
“Don’t worry about the demon. I stopped by the prison yesterday. Arachne will be waiting there.”
“Shouldn’t we wait until dark?”
“I’ve been watching the Elysium Sisters’ movements. They mostly hang around during the day. Night is when they become far more watchful. Now is the best time.”
Eva sighed. “At least let me leave a note. If a student goes missing with the way things are now, a ruckus is sure to be raised.”
“Fine,” he said after a minute, “but hurry up. We’ve wasted enough time.”
Eva quickly scrawled out a short note explaining she was feeling ill. She signed it and left it stuck in the crack of the door.
Her master was already walking by the time she finished. Eva hurried to catch up with him. Once she did, he began stepping. Soon enough, they reached an edge of the school building and moved to the roof. Devon led her across a series of rooftops and out-of-town.
The prison was just as she remembered it, thankfully. No obvious traces of Elysium Sisters raiding the place.
As they walked past cell house two, Devon paused. “I’ll ask about that later.”
Eva winced at Devon’s tone. Her wince was quickly replaced by a burst of anger. She knew she messed up. She already knew where she messed up. If he hadn’t gone missing, he could have dealt with Ylva.
All things considered, it could be worse; cell house two could belong to an obviously malicious demon rather than Ylva. That only left the glaring issue that Ylva was subtly malicious.
The demon hadn’t done anything that others might consider morally reprehensible in either of Eva’s interactions with her. She supposed Ylva might be more of a good demon. Not that her master would ever admit to good demons existing.
One of those demons Eva considered good paced back and forth in front of the small building she now called home. Upon seeing her, Arachne lunged. She crossed the ten feet between the doorway and Eva. Eva waited as four legs sprouted from her back midair.
All four of her legs along with her arms wrapped around Eva as she landed.
Eva patted the spider-woman’s back. “It’s only been four days Arachne. I’m fine.”
“Enough lollygaggin. Let’s get this done with. I still need to get back to looking for a replacement to my arm.”
Eva sighed and walked into her home. Arachne didn’t let go in the slightest and half dragged herself along.
The ritual circle was already set up, the regular furniture and rug pushed off to the back.
Eva stripped down, tossing her clothes into a corner. The cold Montana air quickly moved in to bite Eva in the backside. She shivered but shrugged it off. There were heating runes around her home, she hadn’t noticed that they didn’t keep up well with the dropping temperatures. She made a mental note to drastically increase the intensity after they were done.
Until then, she’d bear with it.
She took her seat in the seat on her half of the circle and waited while Devon hooked her up. Arachne sat in her own chair, looking very much like she wanted to say something. Eva gave her a quirked eyebrow but the spider-woman just gave a small smile in return.
Her master stepped back to his section of the ritual circle. The moment he did, Eva felt the familiar drowsiness take hold of her. The room swirled away into a black void.
Eva’s eyes snapped open at a loud bang. She immediately wished she hadn’t heard anything. She snapped her eyes shut again to keep the blinding light from penetrating her brain.
The regular post-treatment nausea had settled in full force while she was asleep. It didn’t compare to the early days of her treatments. After the first one, she had been so sick she couldn’t move for half of a month.
She wanted nothing more than to slip back into sleep. Sadly, loud noises usually meant something was wrong.
With a groan, Eva sat up. Or tried to. Firm and elongated fingers pressed themselves against her chest, gently pushing her back into her seat.
“Shh,” Arachne said, “it was nothing you need to worry about. Devon decided to make himself a snack in our kitchen.”
Eva thought back. The bang might have been a pot being dropped. The hammering inside her head wouldn’t let her remember clearly.
Sharp fingers gently moved through Eva’s hair, caressing her scalp as they went. It had a nice, calming effect on Eva. She took slow breaths; in through the mouth and out through the nose.
She relaxed until the shuffling feet of her master moved across the floor.
“Awake already?” he asked.
Even with her eyes closed, Eva could tell he had just shoved something into his mouth. A small box dropped into her bare lap before she could respond.
“A little gift,” her master said.
“Aww, it isn’t even my birthday for another two months,” Eva said. She risked a small peek through one eye and winced back as light poured in. Still, she struggled through long enough to open the lid on the box. Two hazel eyeballs stared back at her.
“Contacts. You might be fine not wearing them for now,” he said, “that will change sooner rather than later.”
She took another peek. “Do they need to be so big?” The two lenses in front of her were almost a full half of an eyeball. She’d never worn contacts before, but she was sure normal ones were less than half the size.
“Your sclera has darkened, your pupils are elongating, and your irises are turning red.”
“I knew about my irises and my pupils. I didn’t think they were that bad yet. What is a sclera?”
“The white part of your eyes. You’re less likely to notice changes in yourself because they are gradual changes. Others often around you, friends and teachers, won’t notice quickly either. One day though, they’ll look at you and think ‘huh, has she always had red eyes?'”
Her master’s voice hammered into her head with every syllable. She didn’t want to think about what he said. Too many words this soon after a session.
“Seems excessive,” she said after a few minutes.
“Not if you want to keep attending school. Especially with nuns running around the place.”
That seemed a valid point. She had no arguments for that.
“Now,” Devon’s tone turned harsh, “mind telling me what happened to that other cell house?”
Eva winced back again. This was definitely not a conversation she wanted right after her treatment.
“Well,” Eva started, “good news is that the black book has been destroyed.”
Devon frowned harder.
“I asked Ylva, the hel I summoned to destroy the phylactery. She asked for compensation for the book’s destruction.”
“Compensation,” he repeated.
“She asked for a week of time to stay on the surface along with a place to stay.”
“Exact words, please.” His ‘please’ didn’t sound very sincere.
Eva thought for a minute, trying to organize her memories against her pounding headache. “I think,” she said, “it was something like, ‘Allow me to stay for one week. While I am here, allow me to choose a place where I may reside.'”
“It returned after the week?”
“That’s something at least,” he grumbled. “I can’t do anything about the domain that it set up. Not now at least. I was unable to even step inside.”
“That’s,” Eva sighed, “bad, right?”
“You’ve given a demon a foothold in our world. Right next to your school no less. At least, being a hel, it shouldn’t act rashly. It is a servant of Death and, as such, shouldn’t go on mad sprees to kill everyone.”
Eva sighed again, glad she couldn’t see Devon’s face through her shut eyes. “So, what do we do?”
“Your mess, you clean it up. I still have an arm to replace.”
Sensing the opportunity to change the topic, Eva latched on to his words. “How are you going to get a new arm anyway?”
She could almost feel her master’s shrug. “I tried bargaining with a few demons able to grant such a thing. I didn’t like their offers.” He paused. Eva felt his gaze bore into her. “I’m not so foolish as to agree to anything a demon asks without thinking.”
It took all her effort to avoid complaining. For not being around when she needed, he was sure in a stickle about Ylva. By the sound of it, he was about to disappear again. Disappear without even giving her advice.
Besides, it wasn’t like Ylva did anything bad. She’d destroyed the book and taken one of the buildings as a home for herself. That was more good than Devon had done since the whole necromancer thing started.
The real question was about Ylva’s motivations. Why did the demon want a foothold, as Devon put it.
She’d never been interested in the intricacies of demonology. Even with regular interactions and summoning a few on her own, she’d never bothered to ask any of them why they did what they did.
Eva risked a peek at Arachne. She was pleasantly surprised to find the light caused only a mild throb rather than the hammering pain.
Arachne stood just to the side of Eva’s chair. Her hands still ran through Eva’s hair. The sharp teeth in her mouth poked through a slight open-mouthed frown. Devon held most of her ire if her glare was any indication.
Her master leaned against the wall of the building with a bowl in his hand. He shoveled macaroni and cheese into his mouth, ignoring or unaware of Arachne’s stare.
Maybe she’d ask Arachne about ‘footholds’ later. After her master left. Eva didn’t think Arachne had one. It was hard to say; even over the past few months, Eva hardly asked Arachne any personal questions. It just felt like an awkward thing.
What the spider-demon wanted was a mystery as well. The only thing Eva knew for sure was that Arachne wanted the experiment to continue and wanted to keep Eva safe. After the experiment was complete, what would Arachne do.
Another thing to ask. Someday. That one could wait a year or two.
Eva wasn’t sure what she would do if she didn’t like the answer.
— — —
Rickenbacker three-thirteen was devoid of life.
“Eva?” Juliana called out.
There was no response.
Juliana didn’t expect one. She checked the bathroom and even the small closet, just in case. Empty.
After a student brought Professor Twillie a note stating that Eva was ill, Juliana quickly confirmed that she hadn’t looked good during lunch. For all she knew, it was true. The black-haired girl barely touched her food. Juliana didn’t expect it to be true, but it was a possibility.
That Eva was gone now meant it was a lie.
Juliana couldn’t be more pleased.
She moved over to the windows and shut the blinds. That would at least keep Eva from blinking into the room. It wouldn’t stop her from walking through the front door, but hopefully Juliana wouldn’t have to worry about that.
Papers covered the top of Eva’s desk; most were covered in uncharged runes. Juliana ignored them and pulled open the top drawer. Pens, fountain pens, vials of the expensive ink Eva used on her high quality runes, sticky notes, other regular desk things.
The high quality runes had been Juliana’s idea. Eva used them in three-thirteen, but she hadn’t used them anywhere else. When she got completely swamped between school and replacing the last set of envelopes for other dorms, Juliana suggested she offer the longer lasting runes at a price just under what it would cost to renew the regular runes over the same amount of time.
They accepted both a one time fee and a monthly recurring payment. Most people decided to switch over.
Of course, they had to spend money on expensive ink now. Eva felt the lowered workload was worth it.
That didn’t bother Juliana at all, it was no money off her back. Eva procured the ink on her own.
Rummaging through Eva’s things felt a tad bad and a lot dangerous. Not just because she had no idea what Eva would do if the girl found out, but also because of her trip to Eva’s prison. If she put any protections on her things similar to the wards at her other home, Juliana might just wind up with a missing limb in the morning.
She was counting on the hope that Eva wouldn’t want to accidentally cause harm to her roommates or to Zoe during room inspections if she happened to look in a drawer.
That thought made Juliana pause. She carefully replaced the papers and books in the drawer. Once back exactly how she found them, she slid the drawer shut.
Eva wouldn’t just leave things lying around that she didn’t want other people to see.
Juliana glanced around the room. There were really no good hiding spots for anything. Her drawers under the bed contained the skirts Eva liked so much and some tee-shirts. Maybe a pair of pants or two. The roof was smooth, no ceiling tiles to hide things in.
Everywhere else was a public place. The fridge, cupboards, drawers and closets in the bathroom. Not where Juliana would want to hide things that could get her tossed into prison, or worse.
Juliana slumped down on her own bed. None of the dangerous books would be in the dorm. If Eva had any at all, they would be in the book bag she carried almost everywhere. Everything else would be at the prison.
Even if Juliana could run as fast as Arachne without tiring over the course of an hour, the prison was too far off for a quick visit. Not to mention that, at least tonight, it was where Eva most likely was.
The sudden realization that she wouldn’t find anything interesting sapped her motivation. She was ready for sleep without even changing, showering, or even eating dinner. Everyone else would be at dinner, she offered to go check on Eva to get to snooping.
Juliana curled up beneath her covers. Her eyes shut as she started to drift into a drowsy state.
A tap at the window stopped her descent into sleep.
She tried to ignore it and go back to sleep.
It tapped again, louder than before.
Juliana groaned as she sat up. Eva wouldn’t tap, would she? Arachne maybe?
The windows rattled with the force of the next tap.
Something made her stomach turn. A subtle smell, or tingle in the air. Juliana jumped out of her bed, gripping her wand. She backed away from her window. If it was Arachne, she’d be tapping the window on Eva’s side of the room. Or just open it herself.
Shards of broken glass flew into the room, tearing through the bed and area Juliana had just been standing in.
Juliana ducked low. She shielded her head with the metal bracers on her arms.
The slap of raw steak hitting a cutting board brought her attention back to the window. She peeked out between the small gap in her arms.
Something crawled into her room. A bag of red meat the size of a small person with a few white bones protruding from it slipped into the room, flopping onto the floor as it crested the windowsill. A second then a third followed it.
They just lay there, squirming in a pile between her and Shalise’s bed.
Juliana kept her breath very slow. Her pounding heart told her to run, to throw up, to scream, to attack. She ignored it.
With the slightest flick of her wand hand, the metal covering half of her body came to life. It swam over her skin, building thick around her stomach, chest, and neck. She took a slow, careful step towards the door.
Her foot touched the ground. All three stopped moving and pointed towards Juliana.
Slowly, almost uncertainly, one squirmed in her direction. It clambered over the top of one of its companions.
Juliana internally cursed as it left a trail of blood on its way towards her. She needed more metal or earth, neither of which were available. The large sphere she had from the crypt was still in Eva’s prison. All the furniture was wood. The fridge might work, but it was halfway across the room.
Metal shifted beneath her black shirt. Some coalesced in her hand. It formed into a single sharp blade about a foot long. The rest she spread as thin as she could over the rest of her body, leaving only tiny slits for her eyes.
The things didn’t look like zombies–thank goodness–but Juliana wasn’t willing to risk infection by getting blood splattered on her.
The thing crawled to her feet.
Juliana gripped her makeshift sword in both hands. She waited until the last moment. With the creature at her feet, Juliana slammed it straight through what she hoped passed as the creature’s head.
The thing squealed. Rapid, high-pitched noises pierced the air.
She pulled back her hand and jammed it in again. The sword slid, chopping off a large chunk of meat.
The screams continued. The sword was left behind as Juliana stumbled backwards, pressing her hands over her ears.
It didn’t help. The shrieks rattled around her metal helmet.
She almost missed the two other things crawling towards her. There was no peripheral vision in her helmet.
They moved much faster than the first one did.
Juliana made a dash into the kitchen. Jumping onto the counter, she put one foot through the microwave and both hands into the fridge. She reinforced her armor as much as she could before the two things arrived.
She shoved the remains of the microwave off the edge of the counter, landing on one of the creatures trying to climb up.
It screeched louder than the first one.
Juliana shut out the noise the best she could and turned to the last pile of meat.
Its fleshy fingers slid over the smooth surface of her legs.
She took an instant to admire her metalwork. It was a good thing she reinforced her armor if the way it tore her pants was any indication.
More metal flowed from the fridge onto her free leg. It formed long spikes out of her foot.
With all her effort, she kicked.
The thing squealed like the rest as she kicked again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
A cry of her name startled her. She looked up, ready with her sword.
The sight of Zoe Baxter alongside one of the dark robed nuns stayed her hand.
Juliana looked down at the slaughterhouse that had once been her kitchen. All three corpses lay in pieces around her. The one she initially stabbed must not have been dead, it lay to one side of the kitchen. No less than forty of her small swords stuck out from various places.
The legs and arms of the one beneath the microwave were spread across the room.
The final one was little more than chunky salsa covering the floor.
Juliana looked back to the two adults standing at the precipice of the gore.
“It’s okay, Juliana,” Zoe said softly, “they’re dead.”
Juliana avoided looking down. She kept her gaze up and tried to swallow the rising bile. Her helmet was the only thing keeping Zoe from seeing whatever her face looked like. Not something she wanted to parade around.
“It took you,” Juliana started. Her voice echoed in her helmet She had to stop and take a deep breath. “Took you long enough.”
“Someone has tampered with the wards,” Zoe said. At least she sounded apologetic about it.
Zoe shook her head. “I tested them, they only interfere with magical means of visual observation. There are several wards to detect trouble. At the very least, one should have detected the broken glass. Another should have detected blood, a third should have detected excessive use of magic. There are more but needless to say, none worked.”
At least my roommate isn’t trying to get me killed, Juliana thought. She glared at the nun who gazed around the room with glowing eyes.
It was probably them. Neither her mother nor Eva seemed to like the sisters. They probably took down the wards to draw out an attack like this.
Not that she’d voice her suspicions right in front of one.
Just as Juliana was about to speak, the nun interrupted with a cold voice. “Flesh golems. Verata style. Poorly constructed. Materials too old. Spells weaved improperly. Amateur work.”
The glow from her eyes faded. She slumped back slightly before regaining her composure.
“I doubt these were made by the same people you saw on Halloween,” the nun said after a moment. “Not if your claims of a hundred or more fully functioning flesh golems are true.”
Zoe didn’t look convinced. “Indeed,” was all she said.
Juliana shifted where she stood. A slight wobble almost sent her tumbling as she moved. Sitting would be nice, but showing weakness in front of these two wasn’t something she wanted right now. Her mother was going to have a fit enough as it was; she didn’t need collapsing or breaking down added to the list. Instead, she hardened the metal in her legs and back.
“Where’s Miss Eva?”
“Probably at her place.”
“Her place?” the nun asked with a quirked eyebrow.
The smell started to get to her. She held it in, not wanting to throw up in front of Zoe again.
“We do not require students to live in the dorms. If they have suitable living places, they’re free to use them so long as they make it to class.”
“And Eva has one of these places?”
Zoe nodded. “I will fetch her immediately. Would you please stay with Miss Rivas until I return?”
Zoe stepped out into the hallway.
Juliana stared at the nun. She didn’t have much choice. Her legs were still untrustworthy. No topics came to mind to talk about either.
The nun had no such reservations. “I trust it is you I have to thank for saving a friend of mine?”
Juliana raised an eyebrow at that. An immediate wave of foolishness washed over her as she realized the nun couldn’t see her face. “I don’t remember saving any nuns lately.”
“Not a nun,” the Sister said, “Shalise. I visit the group home she lives in every now and again.”
Shalise never mentioned a group home, Juliana thought. She softly shook her head. “That would have been Eva.”
Juliana failed that night. She had been the reason Shalise was injured. The zombies shambled right up to Shalise and all Juliana could do was watch. She’d frozen, locked up, couldn’t even cry a warning. Even as Arachne tore the zombies to pieces, Juliana just looked on.
The nun didn’t notice Juliana’s turmoil. She gave a soft smile and said, “I’m sure you helped out in your own way. You seem quite capable.”
Juliana regretted turning her gaze over the room the moment she did. “I need a shower,” she choked out.
“Of course,” the nun said. “I’ll stand watch and let you know when they return.”
Juliana marched to the shower and stood under it, turning on Eva’s absurdly hot runes rather than using the plumbing.
Blood circled the drain as she stood there, still fully armored and clothed. Her school uniform was ruined. Even if it cleaned itself, it had tears and holes in it she didn’t know where from.
With a quick thought, a small metal blade extended from her chest and dragged down, cutting away her shirt. She did the same with her pants and kicked them off to a corner of the bathroom.
She stood under the water for another minute or two, just letting her armor clean off. Eventually she shed the armor, turning it into a ball of metal the size of a small beach ball.
Without her armor, the water definitely was too hot to handle. She tried to endure but had to shut it off and switch to the plumbing.
She stayed like that until a knock on her door woke her. The nun said Zoe was back.
How long it had taken, Juliana didn’t know. She didn’t care. It wasn’t long enough.
With a sigh, she stepped out of the shower. Her clothes were still a torn, bloody mess in the corner. She hadn’t gotten new clothes. They would have wound up bloody from touching her anyway.
Instead she touched her metal ball, her ferrokinesis spell still running from before. The metal molded around her up to her neck. She left her hair and face free.
Skin-tight metal armor in place, Juliana moved back to her bloody room.