Rory read through the online forum posts with a mix of amusement and confusion, nodding in agreement with some of the advice, but mostly feeling bewildered. The topic was How to Spot a Powerful Mage and while some of it was good advice-- maybe not for him, but for other people-- some of it made no sense, or was strangely dramatic and clearly written by people who hadn't ever actually met a powerful mage before.

You could advertise free snacks and beer, he typed. But he didn't post; he enjoyed the forum and didn't want people thinking he was being snarky.

While he debated, his roommate Jasper wandered into the room, munching out of a family-size bag of cheese puffs. "We still on for Kel's BBQ later?"


"What's that look for?" said Jasper.

"Just thinking." Rory turned the laptop so Jasper could read the page.

"Ha," Jasper said. "Tell them to go to Emmerson's Books on Tuesdays. Emmer's started this book club thing that's got free pastries and a bunch of us have been hitting it up."

"Have you actually been reading the books?"

"I'll get to it. I just--"

Before he could finish, the world ripped open. The air in the room cracked, and reality itself tore apart in front of them, opening wide enough to reveal a number of grotesque, demonic figures fighting their way in.

"Oh fuck off," Jasper said. With a small gesture, the portal snapped shut, severing off one demon's hand. It hit the floor with a splat and oozed dark blood onto the hardwood.

"Not it," said Rory, barely sparing the hand a glance.

"But I just stopped a demon invasion."

"And now you get to clean it up."

Jasper scowled and went to get the dustpan.