Clare K. R. Miller

Chatoyant College Book 13: Prologue: Failure

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All of his attempts so far had ended in failure.

He knew that there must be a way. He was sure he could find it. When everything was so broken, when life had changed so much from one simple decision, how could he not be able to return things to the way they were?

He had the power. He knew it.

He just needed to try something different.

He carefully closed the door to his room and made his way down the dark hall. It would be less safe outside, but where was it safe? He could not call it safe here, in his room.

He walked down the middle of the deserted staircase, careful to avoid the railings. Moonlight, low and thin, entered through the windows, making wide stripes on the floor. He walked around the patches of light.

The door opened to his touch. He shut it quietly behind him. No one could notice anything out of place.

If all went well, no one would notice anything out of place ever again.

He walked to the center of campus, carefully measured out from his map and his knowledge of where the borders of the magic lay. In the grass between three academic buildings, he stood and looked up at the sky.

It was clear. Thousands of stars sparkled down at him. The moon, over the trees to the east, had light that did not quite reach him; he was shadowed by the building.

He took a deep breath and lifted his arms, closing his eyes to the stars, feeling the magic. Threads of it were still in place; he had not ruined all of it, after all, only broken the web. If he could strengthen the web, bring the fibers back to their original state, then he would be able to fix everything again.

He knew that this was the right place to be. He had a much better sense of the shape of the magic from here, outside his iron-laced dorm building. He could reach it all. So what if it was less safe? This time, he was sure, it would work.

He anchored himself down into the grass, reaching below for the magic of his strength. Then he stretched up, grounding and reaching at the same time, sending energy toward the web of magic.

It shook before him, the strands nearest him strengthening, then fading out again. He could not tell, but he believed the magic had run out toward the ends of the strands, where the strength was most needed.

It shook again, though he had not done anything else. He could feel something toward the north edge of the web.

Something was fighting back against his magic. He had to stop it.

He poured more magic into the strands, but this time, though the magic ran toward the ends on three sides, the north did not take it. The north shook again, something growing bigger, something devouring.

He could not help it. Against his better knowledge, he opened his eyes.

Something was rushing toward him, something with no shape—

Only teeth—

He flung out his hands toward it, threw magic, all his strength, to stop it. But it did not stop. It came through his magic, came through his hands, as though it were made of nothing but smoke.

But when those teeth, long and sharp as needles, closed on him, they were solid and substantive as iron.

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