The Witch, the Mage and the Dimension Traveler, Part 3
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As Annemarie flew, her wheels retreated inside the car, making way for rudders and turbines.

As a tributary of the Oder, the Bober was a rather small river, but it was carrying enough water at the moment to allow the car enough draft.

Since Annemarie had built up enough speed, Mirabilis hoped that the black car, which could not brake properly because of the subsoil, would be pulled into the river and sink in it.

What she did not count on, however, was that its wheels suddenly turned ninety degrees to the side. As a result, the wagon began to float on the water while being pulled behind Annemarie by its tether. But at least he could no longer outbrake her.

Then the big bird suddenly pushed Annemarie deeper into the water.

"Ough, that birdie is annoying…" growled Mirabilis.

She began to weave a spell, it was a long spell that took time. Meanwhile, the bird was pecking at the windshield and Ellis' car was doing its best to slow Annemarie down anyway.

But then she got the spell done.

The water around her suddenly formed two enormous hands that slapped together with the black bird in the center as if they had swatted a mosquito.

Unfortunately, this did not kill the bird, but it gave a bloodcurdling scream and plopped into the river. Apparently he had gotten so soaked that he was too heavy to fly. He tried to stay on the surface, bobbing along the river as the two cars sped past him.

"Good," Mirabilis nodded. "Now, about the problem behind us…"

"Miss, we 'ave a problem a'ead of us," Markus noted.

Mirabilis frowned and looked ahead again. The corners of her mouth sagged sharply.

A short distance ahead, the waters of the Bober suddenly disappeared into a black portal that apparently occupied a large hollow at the bottom of the river. The hole was large enough for Annemarie to fall through.

"Annemarie, the YEET maneuver!" she commanded.

The Trabant suddenly became lighter than air, causing it to rise out of the water like a balloon.

Mirabilis had not considered, however, that the black car, whose grappling hook was still stuck in her trunk, maintained its course and continued to head for the portal. Annemarie was pulled along like a balloon on a string.

But then, all of a sudden, the rope snapped.

Mirabilis caught a glimpse of the carpet witch, who had formed some sort of magical gesture with her fingers before Annemarie was catapulted upward by the lost weight.

"Annemarie, down, down!" shouted Markus.

Their vehicle regained control of itself and slowly floated toward the ground, carried by its kinetic moment.

They sailed over a small town, whose inhabitants surely wondered about the Trabant, and landed in a pasture.

A few cows eyed the car with moderate interest, as if it was common for cars to land here after their flight.

Annemarie accelerated again, used a hill as a ramp and landed on the road behind, which was blocked-off by a fence. There the Trabant came to an instant stop to avoid landing in the ditch by the acting forces and accelerated again with squealing tires.

The carpet witch was already reappearing.

Mirabilis did not see what she was doing, but suddenly uncharacteristic life seeped into the surrounding vegetation, trees and vines bent down to the road in an attempt to stop Annemarie.

"Mademoiselle?" Markus announced from the back seat. "If I may point out, we still have the booster pack that was installed the other day."

"Ah, good idea," praised the shopkeeper. "Annemarie, full throttle, but for real this time."

Annemarie's engine sped up to unhealthy-looking revs as the little car accelerated so fast it pushed its occupants into their seats. A massive flame hissed from the exhaust and tire wear spontaneously ignited from the frictional heat, causing the Trabant to trail two fiery trails behind it.

On the way Annemarie overtook a tractor, two cars and a truck, triggered a radar trap, which however could only photograph an indistinct shadow and ignored all speed limits, even within built-up areas.

One might think it was a miracle that no one was hurt, but Annemarie had quick reflexes. In addition, her braking distance was always 0 regardless of speed, and the booster pack made her run from 0 to a hundred in a second. The witch soon disappeared behind them.

They reached a wooded area when Annemarie had to throttle back to normal speeds to avoid running hot.

"Did we finally lose them?" wondered Mirabilis.

The answer was right in front of her. Ellis' car was hurtling toward her at breakneck speed. No idea what he was up to, but conveniently, he was in the line of fire.

"Fire one…"

Annemarie's left front blinker flipped open and fired a small missile, targeting the approaching car.
If it attempted an evasive maneuver, it was too slow.

The projectile drilled into the chassis with a dull "Donk!", then the strange vehicle exploded.

Apparently the thing had still triggered something like an ejector seat, because the giant that had accompanied Elli came shooting out.

Was she mistaken or was he yelling "CYNTHIAAAAA!"?

Mirabilis realized too late that he had turned himself into a projectile.

Annemarie tried an evasive maneuver, but the giant crashed through the bulletproof windshield, and the forces at work sent the car so off course that it thundered through the guardrail and rolled over several times down a slope before finally coming to rest on its roof.

Annemarie's magic had ensured that the occupants were unharmed, but Mirabilis still swayed quite a bit as she crawled out of the car with the Rabbit honey mushrooms and tried to stand up.

Markus groaned on the other side of Annemarie. The giant, meanwhile, pushed himself backward through the windshield and straightened up. The only thing that had taken damage on him seemed to be his clothes.

"Stain me with dirt again and I'll be back…" he threatened the car.

It honked apologetically.

The area behind the now destroyed windshield turned black and Elli climbed out of the resulting hole. Following her was that horrifically skinny girl Chloe.

"You bombed my car!" the blonde rebuked.

"You tried to pull ours into your hole," countered the magician.

Elli twirled her pinky in her ear.

"Yeah, that's because you stole something from a thief who stole from us before. Give back the mushrooms, Mirabilis."

"They don't have your name on it anywhere, plus we swiped them fair and square."

She began to weave a spell.

Elli rolled her eyes and rolled up her sleeves.

Only she suddenly got Dean's backhand in her face.

Elli looked less annoyed and more surprised at Dean.

"Did you just pimp slap me?"

Now the saleswoman also noticed that the big guy was moving in a strangely choppy way. She thought she heard the sound of electric motors working against each other. Mirabilis turned to her colleague, who was still standing behind Annemarie. His left hand was moving like a puppeteer's.

Markus had him by his strings…

"I have no idea what's going on, Elli," his victim defended himself. "My body is moving without any input."

Elli had to duck out from under his fist.

"That's one for the next update, Dean," she commented.

Mirabilis took the opportunity to finish weaving her spell.

Rocks and boulders rolled in from all directions, assembling into a vaguely humanoid shape. The word "אמת" was emblazoned across its forehead.

"Say hello to my big friend!" she introduced the newly created golem. "Golem, spank her!"

Elli just raised an eyebrow.

".ציית רק לפקודתי. הבס את כל אויבי"

The golem turned and struck Mirabilis with its long arms.

"Yes, what the-" she said, startled.

The stone creature was supposed to obey only the orders its creator gave it.

"I know that spell, even if I can't use it," Elli explained as she backed away from Dean, who was fighting against swatting at her. "It can indeed receive commands from its creator in any language-" she dodged a left hook, "-but you can only hard-code it in Hebrew."

The golem stopped suddenly as Mark used his other hand to control it. Mirabilis took the opportunity to reach up to his forehead and wipe away the letter "א." The golem immediately disintegrated into its component parts.

Dean suddenly came free of Markus' control. When Mirabilis turned around, she saw Chloe had grabbed his fingers with both hands.

When she turned back, Dean was already on a collision course with Markus.

She couldn't get her mouth open fast enough before Elli came at her with a pan.

Before she could strike, however, a deep, angry screech sounded above them.

Through the canopy of trees, the hell bird swooped down.

The two women dove to the side as the huge creature touched down on the ground more badly than good. He was still wet from the river water and therefore probably too heavy for real flight. He probably also no longer produced burning ash.

Next to him the witch lowered herself on the carpet.

And began to nag in Thai.

Mirabilis and Elli scrambled to their feet again.

"What is she saying?" the saleswoman asked.

"She's mad because she had to summon her familiar," Elli translated. "And she wants your mushrooms or she'll tell the bird to peck you. Besides, she supposedly discovered the mushrooms first."

Mirabilis thought about it for a moment. She probably had her hands on the only Rabbit honey mushrooms in all of Poland, and wouldn't be finding any new ones anytime soon.

Then again, that was a pretty big bird there…

"Uh… Can you tell her that I'll give her the bag if she promises to call back the fowl?"

Elli did as told with a rather short sentence. It included the word combination "fuck off."

The witch shouted something and the hell bird let its beak descend on Mirabilis. It was so slow, however, that she was able to dodge it. Was the bird holding back? No matter, cursing was more important now.

"DAMN IT, ELLI!" roared Mirabilis angrily.

"That was for the thing with the djinn in Baghdad," Elli countered spitefully. "If you drop the bag now, I can-"

She had to break off because the bird was taking aim at her, too.

Mirabilis looked around hurriedly for Mark, but he was stuck in Dean's headlock. He had grabbed his fingers so he couldn't move them.

And then suddenly a much smaller raven pecked at the hand in which she held the bag. She swatted it away with her other hand. The witch on her carpet flexed her thaumaturgic muscles and prepared some unpretty spell.

Only, whatever she wanted to perform did not happen. Instead of the desired effect, her carpet suddenly lost its flight characteristics and fell to the ground.

The bird was distracted by this, allowing Mirabilis to formulate a spell that would banish lower demons from this metaphysical plane.

Elli realized what she was about to do. Her face fell asleep.

"MIRABILIS, DON'T! Hell ravens of this size are-"

But it was too late. Mirabilis let her magic run wild. The bird was flung away, but did not disappear, even as it crashed into an oak tree.

Mirabilis tilted her head.

"Really great," Elli commented dryly. "The spell doesn't work on middle-ranking demons. All you did was cancel that witch's contract…"

"Shouldn't he disappear then?" the saleswoman asked.

"No," Elli clarified to her, grinning without any humor. "You just exempted him from the rules of heaven and hell until he gets banished again. If I were you, I'd have a sacred fire extinguisher ready…"

The witch tried in vain to give instructions to the bird as it sat back up with difficulty.

Then he roared and pecked at his former partner. Its beak penetrated deep into the ground several times while the carpet witch tried to run away.

Mirabilis tried to fix the problem with another spell, but the hell raven took aim at her when he heard her formulas.

He took a deep breath…

The shopkeeper tried to speed up her spell, but only bit her tongue and had to stop.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something white run past her.

Similar to a dragon, the bird began to breathe fire. The tongue of flame was headed straight for her.
But Ellis's white-haired companion stepped into her path.

"ARE YOU INSA-", Mirabilis still brought out, then the girl, Elli and herself were enveloped by the flames.

Only her left hand was burning, so the shopkeeper reflexively pulled it to her body and waved it around to cool it.

But nothing more happened.

She was between two tongues of fire, in front of her the onrushing flames parted before Chloe without hurting her. She strode toward the bird unmoved, even as the burst of fire died down.

The bird eyed her with confusion and cried out in agony when she kicked its leg.

Mirabilis didn't quite know what she had expected, at least not that the bird suddenly threw itself to the side while its leg burst into blue-white flames that set about turning its entire body to ash.

The bird passed away with a final, strangled caw.

"Uh, what was that?" asked Mirabilis.

"That's what happens to demons who are made a relic by a living saint. Plus and minus make neutral," Elli explained.

She sounded similarly perplexed.

The mage had so many questions…
"How the hell is this gal-"

"Don't ask," the white-haired girl growled, lurking.

Mirabilis raised her hands defensively.

And noticed that the bag with the mushrooms was no longer in it.

She had held it in her left hand when the hellfire had reached her.

And had let go out of reflex…

Around her, the forest floor was burning, but the girl already started to extinguish it by simply walking through the flames.

But the bag and its contents had burned to a pile of ash.

The witch stepped up to them and began to clamor.

"Now look what you've done!" translated Elli simultaneously. "Now none of us can use the honey mushrooms.

The blonde drew her eyebrows together and probably pointed out to the woman in her native language that it had been her bird that had burned the mushrooms. She got a harnessed reply.

"She says if you hadn't released the hell raven, this wouldn't have happened in the first place," Elli relayed to Mirabilis. "She called you a bitch."

"Well, if a certain someone had translated my surrender properly, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place!" the saleswoman snarkily returned.

"Who didn't want to hand over the bag?" countered Elli.

"Hey, the witch stole it first."

The Thai woman said something.

"She's asking what we're discussing," the blonde translated.

"The mess she got us into."

Elli dryly relayed that to the carpet witch.

She then slapped Elli in the face. Of course, she didn't want to take it and went for a slap, but she ducked, which caused Elli's fist to be carried by her own momentum and hit Mirabillis, who gasped and struggled for balance. Reflexively, she held onto the witch's hair, who cried out painfully.

The three women then silently exchanged a glance.

And a beautiful brawl ensued.

A little distance away, behind a Trabant, whose individual parts, animated by a strange life of their own, slowly but steadily crawled back towards the wreckage, Markus and Dean had in the meantime stopped their fight and silently watched as the three opponents beat, scratched and kicked each other.

A disheveled raven landed on Dean's shoulder.

"Anyone want to place any bets?" he asked, croaking.

"Five euros on Elli!" shouted Chloe, who was still busy putting out the demon fire.

"A tenner on my mademoiselle!" said Markus.

"Ten on my boss," said the raven.

Dean sighed. He had gotten his revenge on the car and the puppet who had tried to operate him like a robot, by now the rest didn't interest him.

"Twenty-five on the black-haired girl passing out first and Mirabilis and Elli knocking each other out afterwards…"

Unperturbed by the chaos that security had to deal with, members of the Polish Anomalous Mushroom Picking Association combed the Giant Mountains National Park for rarities and unusual finds. An elderly woman with hiking gear and a walking stick climbed a tree-covered hill with a similarly aged colleague.

"Anja, give it a rest," the man said. "We're not going to find anything today. Let's leave the field to the youngsters."

"Find nothing? Hell no, Radek!" the woman refused. "I'm not giving up that easily and- OOOOH!"

She reached the top of the hill, which turned out to be quite wide. And on that top, a thick witch ring at least ten feet in diameter presented itself to them. One of a very special kind…

"Rabbit honey mushrooms!" cheered Anja. "Come on, Radek, take a picture! Oh, we can brag about that for at least ten years!"

Chloe felt drained as she staggered out of the closet that evening. And she hadn't even done much of anything…

She still wondered why her instincts had told her the flames were harmless…. Perhaps the intuition of a saintess…

Chloe shook herself at the thought. She still didn't like the church.

Wait, she wasn't shaking herself, she was shaking involuntarily!

She tried to hold on to her table, but an attack of weakness brought her to her knees and she began to cough terribly. Long and painful.

She put her hand over her mouth and wasn't even surprised when, after it was over, she looked down at a puddle of spit and blood that had collected in her palm…

Next time on Nexus:
The Favor, Part 1

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