"Thrust! Harder! Harder!"


"Shut up Bob." I muttered, lunging with the wooden sword and having my blows parried repeatedly.

Eversio was just as frustrating as his father.

"Commander, you have to try a little harder than that."

If I had another arrogant demon tell me I wasn't trying, so help me-

"Z! Let's go!"

Eversio turned and I took the opportunity to jab him in the ribs with my sword.

"That wasn't very nice." he muttered, batting me away, "What's this about?"

Manni grabbed my hand and pulled me away.

"We're going shopping!"

"But...I just started!" Eversio complained, waving his sword around.

"Eversio, we've been at this for four hours." I said flatly, throwing my own on the floor.

He sighed. Manni gave him a pleading look and he shrugged.

"Fine. Go. But you better be ready to go first thing in the morning tomorrow."

"Yep, totally." Manni dismissed, yanking me out of the courtyard and into the castle.

I followed her without asking any questions, but I had to admit my curiosity was getting the best of me. 

We eventually reached a huge pair of doors and she pulled them open with a flourish.


I walked in, astounded. 

We were in what looked like an old dancing hall, with an incredibly high ceiling covered in mosaic. There was a stage at the far right, where a band would probably be stationed. I looked up at a huge chandelier dangling at least three stories above my head and wondered how it was lit.

Oh, wait...wings, right.

Manni pulled some mats from where they were stacked by the wall and rolled them out, gesturing for me to join her.

"So," she started, "You have Lucifer teaching you hand-to-hand and Eversio giving you weapons training. I'm going to be your favorite teacher from now on - I'm going to teach you how to take advantage of your new demon abilities."

"Demon abilities?" I asked incredulously.

This was starting to sound like a bad teen novel.

"Like this." she said from behind me, and then from the other side of the room.

I looked at the various Manni-apparitions and wondered if I was going nuts.


"Mirror images. Voice-throwing. You'd be amazed what it can do for you in a fight."

I turned to the real Manni and her head was missing.

"Shadow-walking." I said, remembering Eversio's wicked plan to have me jump from the tower.

"Right." she said, "I'm going to make sure you can use all of this. Or, at the least, understand it."

"So..." I started, "Is this...magic?"

She laughed.

"Magic? Demons can only create illusions. It's the cloud-losers with the parlor tricks."


"Now, I want you to focus."

"I'm not an ellipse, you know." I replied, trying not to laugh.

Manni stared at me, disgusted, and pointed to the stage.

"I want you there."

I started walking but she pulled me back, aggravated.

"Using mirror images!"

"You could have mentioned that."

I looked at the stage, and, putting on my most serious magician face, pointed my finger at it.


Manni put my hand down.

"What are you expecting to do with all of that melodrama? Turn yourself into a ten year-old boy? Just imagine yourself appearing there."

I shut my eyes and imagined. When I opened them, I was shocked.


"I was focused!" 

Manni rolled her eyes.

"This is going to be a long day."

The End

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