Rika smoothed her skirt out, frowning as she found yet another tear in her uniform. She was glad she had two extras at home, because this one, was going in the garbage. Again, she checked her satchel, making sure her notebooks, pens, and the damned book that had started it all were safely tucked inside. She'd even kept her wand, unable to throw away the one thing he'd given to her. Only then did she look up at her friends.

Elthia was the first to come over, hugging her tightly. "I wish you didn't have to leave."

She smiled at the healer. "You know I can't stay. Not only is my family not here, but…I can't stay in the same world as him. It's too painful."

Her friend nodded. It hadn't taken long for word of exactly what had happened to spread out, and both her friends had heard the full story. Elthia had by far been the more understanding of the two. Damek still seemed to think she'd hit her head or something, but then again, he hadn't much cared for the mage even in the beginning. "Then it's good he left as soon as he recovered. I can't imagine what it would have been like to have him around, especially with no debt to keep him in line."

Damek had come close enough to hear that. He growled. "In freeing himself from his debt he nearly killed us all. Damn fool is lucky he's not around. I'd break his face."

Rika shook her head. Two weeks was obviously not long enough for Damek's temper to cool. Though she thought some of that anger might have been misdirected from Ishbak, since he'd sent her blue-haired friend flying with only one arm. "It doesn't matter. He's free to do what he likes, and I'm going home. The spell is ready, right?" she said, turning to the last person present.

Onuris, the mage they'd been chasing since Saimore, nodded. "I have only to invoke the words and you should be sent back to where you came from. You have the book that the original spell was cast upon?"

She nodded, patting her satchel.

"Then there is nothing to worry about. I have completed the appropriate designs in the appropriate materials. I must say, this is the most complicated spell I've ever been asked to perform. It quite has my blood pumping."

Rika smiled while Damek frowned. "You're sure it's going to work though? We don't want you sending her somewhere else."

Onuris raised one fuzzy grey eyebrow. "I was about my business before you were born, boy. I know my craft far better than you know yours. If I say it'll work, it'll work."

Elthia and Rika smothered chuckles as Damek muttered an apology, eyes on the ground. Rika knew she was going miss her friends, and even Onuris, who'd kept the laughing for this past week while they waited for the spell to be ready. He'd also done well in keeping Damek in his place. He'd gotten a bit of a big head after the soldiers fawned on him for standing up to Ishbak and surviving.

Of course, that was nothing compared to what had happened to Rika before they'd escaped to find Onuris. Rika was pretty sure talking about love to a demon hardly qualified her to be a hero, but no one had listened to her when she protested. It was one of the other reasons she wanted to go home. She hated the way people treated her now, like some kind of celebrity.

"If you'll step up here, my dear," Onuris said, gesturing to the little raised platform in the corner of his workroom. She nodded, giving both Elthia and Damek one last hug.

Unlike another mage Rika could name, Onuris lived in a relatively normal looking house, one made of mostly stone. He'd converted the whole basement into his workroom, filled mostly with books and scrolls of different kinds of transport spells. The platform lay in the corner between one of his bookshelves and a table. It was really just a square of elevated stone, currently covered in an insane looking mass of lines in various colours and materials.

Rika stepped up gingerly, worried about smudging the design, even thought Onuris had reassured her repeatedly that not only was it dry, it wouldn't disappear unless the spell was performed. Still, it was hard to imagine when she looked at it.

Positioning herself in the middle, she smiled a touch nervously at the other three. "I'm ready when you are."

"Excellent," Onuris said, rubbing his hands together a grinning. Holding a worn bit of parchment in front of him, he began to chant in a language Rika hadn't ever heard before. In fact, it didn't even sound like words, more like pure music, moving up and down in a rhythm.

Looking down, she saw the designs beneath her begin to glow, a soft, intense blue. She looked back up at Damek and Elthia as the light around her got slowly brighter. In moments, she couldn't even see her friends past the light.

As the chant came faster and faster, nearing its crescendo, Rika thought she heard other voices raised and could have sworn there was movement beyond her circle of light. But Onuris was crying out the last of the words, and suddenly the design flashed, blinding her. Ah, Rika thought, smiling to herself. I'm finally going home.

The End