• Published 10th Nov 2019
  • 2,571 Views, 438 Comments

Equestria Girls: Love Is Magic - onekface



A new enemy threatens Sunset's new home. It craves magic and it craves all who has it. She and her friends must rise to face it. But they can't do it alone. Flash x Mane 7

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A Peak at the Mask

Chapter 11: A Peak at the Mask

(Thursday) (Evening) (Natural History Museum)

The Natural History Museum looked a lot less gaudy when Sunset returned to it. After the fundraising party last week it almost looked… kind of normal. Gone were the large tapestries and fancy decors. Gone were the huge banners and white sheet tables. No more tribal outfits or wall carvings. Just the simplistic design of rocks and skeletal remains of prehistoric creatures that were most likely extinct by now. The museum was back to the way it was and strangely enough Sunset was happy to see it that way.

“Thanks again for helping me with the investigation Maud.” She spoke to the stoic girl who led her through the museum. “I never would’ve been able to get through this place without you.”

“It’s the least I can do after you and Flash helped me during the fundraiser.” Maud nodded happily… or at least she believed she was happy. “I’m not all that interested in these Yaztec stuff but I can point you in the right direction.”

“Hey, no investigation is ever easy. We all have to start somewhere.” They sat down by the information booth where it was practically empty at this point. Most of the staff seemed busy re-renovating the place to pay them any attention. “Now I know that this is a long-shot in the dark but you wouldn’t happen to know who had access to the artifacts that we looked through.”

“You mean the statue, dagger, bowl and the Chalice of Wishes?”

“Yeah… those.”

“Only the staff in the archive department and the curator are allowed to handle all items on display.”

“Uh huh… and how many would that be?”

“If you include the curator, it’ll be about 12 to 15 people.” Just about a dozen!? Wow that was a lot better than what she’d hope. For a moment there she thought she’d had to go through hundreds of staff members. I must be better with this investigation stuff than I thought.

“That’s great! I don’t suppose you have their names?”

“No.” She said deadpanned. Sunset was hoping for too much. “But if you must know that the archivists that dealt with the Yaztec exhibition are not part of the museum’s staff.”

“They’re not?”

“No. The museum has its own team of handlers. But this group was specifically hired by the donor to handle the items. It was part of the deal with the collector.”

“So they work for…?”

“Professor Sombra.”

Ok that was definitely unsettling. Even Sunset could feel her hair tingling at the mere mention of that name. It was like someone speaking a taboo word. She really didn’t want to judge a man just because of his counterpart on her world but she can’t shake this feeling that he was somehow involved. When she first saw him that night she could tell there was something dangerously suspicious about him. There was just something about that man that rubbed her the wrong way and it definitely wasn’t because of his flowing hair.

“They’re actually still here.” Maud continued which somehow surprised Sunset.

“They are?”

“They’re supervising the design of the new wing of the museum. I can take you to them if you want.”

Sunset blinked. “That would… actually be very helpful. Yes! Thanks.” Getting to see her suspects up close might actually give her a better vantage.

She hastily followed Maud deeper into the museum pass the yellow restricted line at the far end where much of the construction was taking place. A rough guess would say that this was where the new wing of the museum would be.

xxxxxxxxxx

Sunset expected it to be like the rest of the museum. A simple design with much of the same etched to save on money. But much to her surprise she was wrong… in all the weirdest reasons.

The moment she walked into that place Sunset knew that something sinister was going on.

For one thing, this whole new wing looked like a complete extension of the museum itself. The whole architectural culture turned a complete 180. While the rest of the museum displayed everything in perfect synch and order, this place looked like some kind of ritual ground. Several hallways that lead to dead-ends, each connected to a massive central hall where a platform was being constructed, possibly where the Chalice of Wishes was to be put on for all to see.

Strangely enough there were no windows bar the one directly above the platform and another pointing at the west side of the building. At the right time of day you might even see the sun and moon floating on each of them, casting their rays down in all their glory.

Any visitor would find this place intriguing if not frightening. Heck, even though it was still incomplete you can tell that something unsettling was happening behind these walls.

The hair on her back stood up at attention. It was like every cell in her body was telling her to just turn around and get out of there while she still could.

“Intriguing. Isn’t it?”

She forced a dry laugh. “That’s… certainly one way of describing it.”

Though frightening, terrifying and haunting would be more appropriate.

“Over there.” Maud pointed to a small crowd of people who were handling a large cave wall carving at the wall of the halls. “Those are the archivists.”

Excellent. Her suspects were all there lined up neatly together. This was going to be easy. If she could just read their minds, she’ll be able to find the perpetrator and find out their plans.

“No no no!” An overbearing voice shouted from within the crowd startling the big men. “I told you a hundred times. The 10th century artifacts goes to the rear. Only 12th to 14th century relics are allowed to be put on display at the central area. And that one goes a little to the right.”

“What the…?” Sunset tilted her head feeling a strange sense of familiarity in that voice. She turned over the voice finding an old lady who barked out orders to the rest of the crew like some matriarch. “Who is that?”

“That’s the Head Archivist.” Maud answered plain as day. “She was personally hired by the donor to oversee the whole project. Why?”

“I don’t know. Something about her just feels… familiar. I feel like I’ve seen her somewhere before.” But then the darkness cleared as the light shone itself upon the woman in question revealing her identity for all. Sunset’s eyes widened like saucers as she immediately recognized the old hag in the business suit. “Wait a minute. Is that…… is that…”

Principal Cinch!?

(School library)

Ah… the school library. The fountain of knowledge itself, the center of the universe where logic and reason gather together to dispel the might of ignorance and mysticism. A place where history and culture diverge in all its pages, where wisdom was the product.

There was no place in all of CHS that Twilight didn’t enjoy more than this sanctuary of books and knowledge. If she had her way, she probably would’ve lived here forever. And it’s not like she’ll ever be bored. With new versions of books coming each year she could probably spend eternity cross-referencing everything. If only her frail mortal shell wasn’t in the way. She would spend every hour of every day shifting through pages. But alas, this human body required nourishment and it needed rest for at least 7 hours. 7 hours of idleness was simply time that could be used to gather even more knowledge!

Ugh… why in the world did Ms. Cheerilee only give them two assignments today? How can she hope to test the intellectual capabilities of her students if she doesn’t push them hard enough?

A 20 page essay? Pfft, she can do that in her sleep.

Reading one chapter ahead in a book? HA! Please. Have you met me? She already read through that book three times over and probably advance versions of that book before it was even published!

Equations and questions relating to the topic they studied on? Woman! That wasn’t homework, that’s Thursday!

Seriously, she needed some extra credit on her extra credit.

Her train of thoughts was interrupted when her phone buzzed on the table. She kept it silent of course, knowing the basic rule of the library. Her face perked up when she saw the name on screen. She tried to answer but quickly fumbled on her wounded hand. She completely forgot about that.

“Hey Timber.”

“Hey, how’s my favorite nerd doing?” The boy spoke chirpily as ever. “Haven’t heard from you all week. Not since our date.”

“Yeah. Sorry about that. It’s just that I’ve been so busy lately with uh… school stuff. Not to mention that I’m also in a new club.”

“You got into another club? Again?” He sounded irritated. “Aren’t you in like three of them already?”

“Four actually, now including this one.” It’s not like it was a competition. Just the book club, science club and robotics club. Nothing to fret over. “I’m now Vice-President of the Canterlot Magic Investigations Club. Secret name still patent pending.”

“That sounds like a kind of club that comes from the Bone Chiller trilogy.” He chuckled softly. “Don’t tell me you guys go around the city looking for trouble.”

“Magical trouble to be precise.” She stated out too proudly. “It might sound like a cliché thing to do but the pros totally outweighs the namesake. But enough about me. What are you doing?”

“Well if you’re interested, I am happy to announce that Camp Everfree has completed its renovations. We will be officially open next week.”

“Really!? That’s great!” Twilight huddled when she realized her voice went a few decimals too high. “I mean… that’s wonderful.”

“Yeah. The last construction team is putting on the final touches right now. It is awesome. You should definitely come and see it. With our new and improved obstacle course, boat rides and cabins, this place is looking mighty Spruce. Heh… get it?” She did and she gave him an obligatory laugh in response. “Anyway, we got a lot of applications too.”

“Wait…” Twilight realized something. “It’s the Winter Holidays. Do people go camping in the snow?”

“Absolutely! You’d be surprised how many folks like to experience the cold wilderness.” He answered back, giving an example. “Cooking marshmallow over the fireplace with a hot cup of chocolate on your side, watching the snow outside the window as it covers the whole camp, skating at the river, cozying up together keeping each other warm. Folks dig that kind of thing.” She had to admit that it did sound appealing especially with those with an eye for a romantic setting. “Besides, the Winter Solstice will be coming soon and we’re holding a big event here at the camp for that special day.”

“The Winter Solstice? I read about that!” Twilight’s eyes gleamed. “It’s called the hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice. It happens twice a year when the planet tilts its maximum distance away from the sun.”

“A+ for my girl.” Timber laughed. “So… I was wondering if you’d like to spend some time here with me at the camp. It’s been a while since we did something together. We can watch the sunset on that day. I can reserve one cabin just for us. It’ll be super romantic, I promise.”

Wow… that was kind of bold even for Timber. Perhaps after a year of dating finally got him to branch out of his comfort zone. He was never so aggressive in their relationship.

“That does sound romantic. I’ll have to check in with my parents first but I don’t think they’ll say no to an educational trip.”

“I can throw in a free skating lessons if you want.”

“Deal!” She gleefully agreed. “I can’t wait. It’ll be a great opportunity to study the midwinter climate. It’ll just be me and… Flash?”

“Flash?”

The boy in question appeared in front of her waving awkwardly. “Hi. Are you busy?” Kinda. Though she wouldn’t say that out loud.

“I’ll call you back Timber.” She hung up not even waiting for a response as she turned to meet the boy. “Ah… hey Flash. Hi?”

“Hi?” He questioned back. “So…”

“If this is about the bowl thing, I swear I’m almost done with it.” She answered quickly. Her words leaving her mouth faster than she could form them. “I know that I promised to fix it as fast as I can but I just need a little more time.”

“Oh. No. That’s not what I wanted to talk about.” The blue haired rocker raised his hand up in decline smiling back softly. “I actually came here to ask for your help.”

“Oh…” Her head bobbed. “About what?”

“Well it’s kind of complicated and…” He looked around the room. “I also came to tell you that the library is closing.”

Twilight shot up and quickly scanned the room finding out that they were the only occupants there.

“Oh…”

(Natural History Museum)

Principal Cinch…

… or as folks used to call: Abacus.

Sunset recognized her the moment she came into view. There was no way she could forget such a face. After what she tried to do at the Friendship Games, she was practically labeled as a villain to much of the student-body. Her abusive nature made Crystal Prep Academy a power horse in the city and would’ve hurt many people had she not been stopped dead on her tracks at CHS.

Ever since her resignation from the academy there had been little word of her activity if any at all. How she found her way to this place of all places was a mystery. And Sunset was gonna solve it.

But how could she approach her? The last time the two of them met, it didn’t end on a happy note. And Cinch looked like the kind of person who would hold a grudge.

Maybe she’ll just casually walk in? No. Too suspicious. Stroll by pretending to be a journalist? That could work. She is the editor of the school year book after all and a member of the photography club. That’ll be a perfect excuse to be here.

“Ms. Cinch. Can I have a moment of your time?”

Eh?

Wait a second…

Maud!?

Cinch flicked her glasses up as she turned to them with a look that would’ve frightened grown men in their beds. She approached the two. Her every step she took was calculated, precise and downright bone chilling. Her very presence made workers and staffs alike part away like Moses splitting the Red Sea.

And when they finally came face to face, her eyes showed signs of recognition. There was no doubt that she remembered the redhead. Sunset even saw something akin to a snarl at the top of her lip but she held it back when she noted her companion.

“Ms. Pie.” She greeted casually, hand tilting her glasses like a wolf trying to see her better just so she could lure her in with a sense of security.

“Hello.” The elder Pie waved back so casually that you wouldn’t think she was greeting the wicked witch of the north. “Long time no see ma’am.”

“Yes. Quite.” The woman replied sternly like she was just making a fact. “What is it do you want?”

Ok let’s not be too hasty here. Let’s circle around. A direct approach is never the way to…

“My friend and I were wondering if you we could ask you some questions regarding the Yaztec artifacts that are to be donated to this museum.” What the heck Maud!?

“Oh?” Principal Ci… no… she guessed it’s Ms. Cinch from here on. She raised a brow in a curious fold. “And what exactly do you wish to know about them? Their history, their lore? If you wish to know about the Yaztec in general, I can point you to the public library for reference.”

Twilight already did that and she found next to nothing other than they were a bunch of warmongering folk who fought to their doom.

“We were actually wondering who had access to the relics when they were here at the museum.”

You know what? Forget it. Maud was firing in all cylinders right now. May as well stick with it.

Again Ms. Cinch raised her brow up, curious. “And why in the world would you like to know that?”

“Just curious.” That was a poor excuse Maud and you know it. “Sunset here believes that some of the artifacts contains some kind of magic and suspects that someone used it for some nefarious purpose.”

Did she… did Maud throw her under the bus just now?

She did!

“Magic, you say?” Cinch’s eyes sparkled dangerously at them. Something akin to a predator suddenly finding its prey in its most vulnerable time and would pounce at a moment’s notice. “Well I’m no expert on that subject. Your friend on the other hand will probably know more about that than I, I’m afraid.” Her gaze fell to Sunset who felt malice coiling on her very skin. “As to answer your previous question, the only ones who are allowed to handle those objects are myself, my team you see here and Professor Sombra himself. These relics have been exposed to the elements for some time making them fragile to the touch.” Yeah, she knows. Adagio smashed one of them with a single stomp. “They must all be handled delicately.”

“So no one else touched them?”

The former principal’s gaze sharpened like daggers on their throats. But Maud didn’t seem all that intimidated. “None. They are kept within their display cases at all times when we put them out during the fundraising event and returned to the vault at a room temperature before they were shipped back to Professor Sombra’s estate in Uptown. I handled the transfer myself.”

Well that narrows the list of suspects down to… well… you, you, you, you… and you. Mostly you.

“Anything else, Ms. Pie?”

Maud turned her head over to Sunset who shook back in reply. “No. That’ll be all. Thank you.”

Cinch was about to turn away when Sunset decided to speak up. “Uh… it’s um… good to see you again, Ms. Cinch.” She offered her hand up to which the old woman simply stared blankly at it.

“I wish I could say the same, Sunset Shimmer.” And with those last words she returned to her team and her duties, barking out orders like nothing happened.

xxxxxxxxxx

Maud slowly led her back out of the creepy wing of the museum, which Sunset was more than happy to be.

“Why didn’t you tell me Principal Cinch was working here?”

Maud shrugged. “Because it wouldn’t really matter. But mostly because I wanted to see your reaction.” If she had a sense of humor, she’d be laughing right now. “Hope that helps.”

And surprisingly enough, she actually did help. While her direct method was a bit off-putting at first, she couldn’t deny that it brought in great results.

“Well at least I know where to look now. There’s no doubt Cinch is involved somehow.”

“Really?” Maud shot her a surprising look – or at least something close to that expression. “That’s fast. You sure you’re not just jumping to a conclusion?”

“No. I’m very sure.” Sunset nodded confidently. “Because she was brimming with it.” She turned over to the entrance. “Brimming with the same magic as those artifacts. And she also didn’t shake my hand.”

“Maybe it’s because she bears a deep rooted loathing for you and your friends for humiliating her in front of hundreds of people during the Friendship Games which subsequently led to her resignation from Crystal Prep Academy and has forced her to find an occupation in a field beneath her which also pays 3 times less than what she originally had.”

Sunset blinked. Ok that was also a good reason…

“Or maybe she didn’t want me to read her mind.” It was a possible explanation, one that she was so sure of.

“You can read minds?” Maud asked, somewhat surprised.

“Huh? Uh… yeah. I can read people’s minds when I touch them.”

“Can you read my mind?” She quickly offered her hand up. “What am I thinking right now? Spare no details.”

“Uh… maybe later.” Sunset brushed her off. “I need to let my friends know. Thanks again for your help.”

And with that, Sunset dashed off to the exit leaving with brand new information…

… completely unaware of the monster that somehow managed to sneak onto her shadow.

(Canterlot High)

“Wow Flash. That’s… actually pretty cool of you.” Twilight stated, her eyes broadened in amazement as they wrapped up their latest conversation. “I’m sure Rarity will be very happy.”

“I hope so.” He nodded. “So you think you can help out as well?”

“Of course I’ll help! I’ll give Rainbow Dash a call and set everything up by Saturday.” She penned the topic on her notepad smiling. “She’ll be thrilled, I just know it.”

“Great. She worked really hard for this show and I’d hate to see her disappointed.”

“Same here. By the way. How’d you know where to find me?”

Flash gave a knowing smirk. “What? The smartest girl in school with no plans for a Thursday night? Where could she possibly hang out? Hmm?” He dodged a nudge from her as he cackled. “Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time you passed out studying in the library. Ms. Cheerilee said that she found you sleeping under a mountain of books one time after school. Ha! She was so scared that almost called the ambulance.”

“Ugh… don’t remind me.” That happened once and only once. “Shining Armor scolded me for hours and banned me from the public library for a whole week! He called Dusty Pages, the head librarian, of all people! I mean who does that!?”

“Heh… I guess even the smartest girl doesn’t know her own limits.” Another nudge and another miss.

“It’s this frail human body!” She complained. “Why are we given such weak and fragile shell? If I didn’t constantly need sustenance and sleep I would study all day long. What I wouldn’t give to plant my human brain in a robot host – or better yet, a computer! I could surf the internet forever! Can you imagine having all that knowledge at the palm of your… whoa!” Her face froze up when they got to the school courtyard noticing the moon in the sky. “It’s night!? How long was I in there?”

“Guess you need to get a watch to keep time for you before you go putting your brain in a computer.” A third nudge came and this time she made contact.

“Don’t be sassy. I already get enough of that out of my friends.”

“Heh. Fine. But uh… are you gonna be ok going home all by yourself? I mean… with the… you know.”

“The giant shadow monster?” She retorted. “I’ll be fine. So long as I don’t use magic.” Twilight added hesitantly as her eyes darted to the long stretch of shadow that stood between her and the bus stop. “I don’t suppose the bus will be here anytime soon?”

“Don’t you ride your bike to school?”

“Sometimes. But… not today. Aheh…”

“Well if you don’t mind. I can give you a lift.” The boy offered gesturing to the parking lot where a stylish motorcycle was parked in placed of his fancy car.

But Twilight brushed him off casually. “That won’t be necessary. I am fully capable of getting home on my own. It’s not that far a walk and I’m not afraid of some monster in the dark. What do you take me for? A six-year old?” But those words proved a lie when the wind blew over ruffling the bushes nearby. She jolted forward unconsciously grabbing the boy by the jacket wrapping her arms around him like a protective pillow. “Ah… ahehe. For the record, I was startled, not scared.”

“Sure.” His eyes rolled not believing that for a minute. “At least let me stay with you until the bus gets here. The last thing you want is to be left alone out here in the middle of the night.”

Twilight opened her mouth to protest but hesitated when she noted the scenery around her. She never imagined that the school would be this frightening at night. The flickering street lights, the cold breeze and the rustling of nature? And with the security cameras only watching the inside of the school, it was the perfect setting for a crime waiting to happen.

“I guess it couldn’t hurt.”

xxxxxxxxxx

Flash gladly followed her, dragging his bike to the bus stop sign where a few lights illuminated the place. The two of them waited. Listening to the bugs and crickets go by while standing together in absolute silence.

Until one idiot decided to open his mouth. “So how are you and Timber?”

She shot him a surprised look but didn’t seem offended by it. “Oh… uh… we’re umm… good.” She nodded back shyly feeling like she was boasting. “We’ve been hanging out a lot more now these days. We were just talking before you came along.”

“Yeah, I realized that. Sorry.”

“Don’t be. We just made plans for the Winter Holidays. I just hope that we can settle this whole magic adventure problem by then. I wouldn’t really mind one semester without having to deal with a magical enchantment from here or Equestria.”

“Hey, with you and Sunset at the lead, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” Flash cheered her on. “You always have in my book.”

Twilight smiled back though her expression felt lacking. “Thanks for the vote of confidence. I just wish that was the case in all our adventures.” She noted his questioning look. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to go on these adventures from time to time, and getting to understand magic in this world is a great extracurricular activity. I just wished it didn’t involve us in all these dangerous situations.”

“Well if it gets too much for you, you can always count on me to listen to your problems.” The boy mentioned, shrugging.

“Thanks but I think only my friends can understand what I’m going through.”

Flash shot her a look. “Aren’t we friends?”

“We are. We Are!” She corrected quickly enough. “Just… not…”

“No magic. I understand.” He chuckled breaking the tension.

“Let’s uh… change the subject.” The bespectacled girl suggested to which he naturally agreed. “Can I ask a question?” She blinked. “Other than the one I just asked?”

“Fire away. I got nothing to hide.”

That was an offer he would later regret. “How come you never talk much about yourself?” His eyes shot up for a moment, noting her odd expression.

“Wha… what do you mean?”

“I mean we’ve known each other for a while now and… it’s just now that we’re getting to know the other you.” She pointed out plainly, eyes not leaving him. “All this time I thought you were just this…”

“Cool guy from across the street?”

Her smile sharpened. “I was going to say the run of the mill rocker guy but sure.” Ouch… that actually hurt. “It’s just that, it’s only now that we all noticed this other side of you. Even Sunset didn’t even known about all this stuff. About your folks, your life. Your incredibly wealthy and influential background. I mean… did you know that your dad is actually a candidate to run for mayor of Canterlot City and has the highest statistics to win!?”

“Yeah. He mentioned something about that.”

“My point exactly!”

Flash sighed as he put the stand on his bike. “Well to be honest I didn’t want people looking at me like the spoiled runt in school. I’d prefer to be known as the lead guitarist. I mean… can you imagine me having that rich boy look?” No… no she could not. “And besides, I don’t really like talking about my folks.”

“Oh… I see.” Twilight tipped her lip, suddenly feeling rather guilty for bringing it up. “Sorry. I thought for a moment you and your dad were close.”

“We are.” He nodded again. “Or… we were. Back then he’s always been off on his exploration trips. I figured we’d reconnect now that he decided to stay and take that job at CPA.”

“Are things not working out between you two?”

“It is. It’s just that…” He grumbled, lowering his gaze to the pavement. “We don’t really have a lot to talk about. I mean what do I say to someone whose been gone for years?”

“What about your mom? Doesn’t she stay with you?”

“Not that I can remember.” The boy sighed. “She passed away when I was really small.”

Twilight mentally smacked herself for that question. “Oh… sorry.”

“Don’t be. I’m fine with it. But I think that’s one of the reason why my dad buried himself in his work and why he keeps his distance from me.” He played with a bang of his hair as he continued. “Apparently I look very much like her and it reminds him of the good old times.”

“You… look like your mom?”

“That’s what they say. Apparently it’s the hair. It’s very distinctive.”

“Huh. Now you colored me curious. A female version of you.” She eyed him suspiciously which he stepped back.

“Uh… Twilight? What are you doing?”

“Shhh. Hold still. I’m trying to visualize it.” She squinted, hands forming a triangle. “Yes. I can see it now. A ponytail and a long skirt. I’m thinking Fluttershy mixed in with a little bit of Rainbow Dash.”

His eyes narrowed. “You’re… playing with me right now, aren’t you?”

“Just a little bit.” Twilight laughed, not really denying it. “What would you prefer? Dress or slacks?”

“I think I’ll refrain from answering that question.”

(Alleyway)

Professor Abacus Cinch strode through the empty alley of Canterlot City that night. One would know that a woman like her would never stoop to walking in such a decrepit place. Even less so in such a dirty environment. But tonight she made an exception. Because her purpose required full secrecy and such a place cannot be found within the open streets of the city.

Her footsteps echoed through the old filthy pavement frightening alleyway cats and dogs alike from their holes. Bugs and other critters also scrambled away, terrified of her presence.

When she finally reached the deep end of the alley, the woman cast a glance to her surrounding making sure there were no prying eyes or curious ears poking around. Secrecy and privacy was key.

Once she was sure that that there were no interference the old woman breathed a sigh and pulled off the cuff of her sleeves revealing a bracelet hidden within. A dark gemstone that acted as the centerpiece hummed with a mystical vibe pulsing with energy. Within seconds a portal tore itself at that alley like a small window to another realm.

Cinch waited for the portal to stabilize before retracting her arm. She adjusted her blazer, patting the dust away like she was meeting a very important guest.

There was a short pause before a hazy figure appeared on the other side, its feminine voice muffled by the portal. “This transmission is not scheduled, Cinch. This had better be important.”

The former Principal bowed shallowly to the figure. “My apologies Master. I know I promised much but there have been… complications.”

The woman snorted back, not even trying to hide her irritation. “Explain.”

“My position in the museum may have been compromised.” Her tone sharpened thinking at the girl who came to her earlier. “One of the girls from CHS, the one who possess magic, seemed to understand that the relics have powers. They somehow managed to track me down. While they don’t have concrete evidence yet, it won’t be long before they pin me as the prime suspect.”

“And the Chalice?”

“The Chalice of Wishes and the other artifacts are safe within the confines of Professor Sombra’s estate. I made sure of their transfer. There should be no problems there.”

The ethereal woman huffed. A hand over her chin, thinking. “This is unacceptable, Abacus. Your constant lack of discretion of your new found powers risks exposing us and our plans to these… children and the public.”

“I only did so to find more magic like you wished.”

“Finding more source is ‘His’ task. Not yours. I gave you the Uta to protect the relics, not hunt down wayward magic. At the rate he’s been acquiring, we will have more than enough to accomplish our goals. Leave that task to him rather than interfering.”

“As… you wish.”

“And make sure that our plan remains secret. You must leave no trace of our involvement unless you want everyone to know the existence of magic.”

“Yes. Of course Master.”

“Good. How goes the construction?”

Cinch nodded back pleasingly. “We are ahead of schedule on that regard. The new wing of the museum will serve as the perfect staging ground for our master plan. We should be done very soon as long as there are no delays. But like I said before… those children from CHS can very well be a problem.”

“Their powers are a tempting source of magic but they can be too much to handle should they come together. Their activities these last few months alone have proven that they are… capable at the very least.” There was a hint of admiration in her tone when she mentioned them. “Best keep a distance away until the time is right. They are not part of the plan so there’s no reason for bringing them in.”

“And if they do become a problem?”

“Should they become a hindrance then I will have ‘Him’ deal with it personally.” The owner of the voice groaned. “The Winter Solstice is just a few months away. We are so close now. Do not let your personal vendetta get in the way of our goal. Is that understood?”

“I do… Master.”

She bowed lowly as the portal vanished into thin air leaving an eerie silence in its place. Once Cinch was sure that her unnamed master was gone she turned over to her shadow, snorting, waving a finger beckoning the beast inside the approach. It did so whimpering softly like a pup that knew it did something wrong.

“Aww… don’t be sad. You’ll have your chance soon, my dear.” She scratch the beast by its dark fur letting it rub cutely around her fingers. “Just because we can’t hurt them directly doesn’t mean we can’t still hurt them.”

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