And here's chapter 14! You know, going by how little happens each chapter, we'll probably reach a hundred chapters before we're halfway done.
Wouldn't that be awesome?!
But anyway, let's answer some reviews:
* I believe she either hints or outright says it this chapter. But we'll find out eventually.
* I like to think the events of that episode didn't happen in this universe. Things are awkward enough as it is.
2) Tod Graymoon: Thanks!
And now, to the chapter!
"So... you're a Decrypted?"
That was the question asked by Lincoln to Molly while they sat at his home, Mera and Indus sitting by his side. This was a pretty big discovery, so it wasn't something they could talk about in public.
Of course, talking about it in front of Mera wasn't much better, but hey, desperate situations require desperate measures.
"Yeah, I'm an Encrypted. One day, I suddenly woke up with an additional Epithet within me," Molly opened her hands, and her fingers transformed into claws. "I think my second Epithet is supposed to be Bear, but I haven't had an Epitome or Epiphany, so that's just speculation."
"This is unlike everything we've seen before. A shocking discovery to be sure!" Indus exclaimed dramatically, before leaning to Mera. "Lady Mera, what's an Encrypted?"
"It's an Inscribed with multiple Epithets," Mera scratched her chin. "And due to the way Epithets work, Decrypted can only be made artificially..."
"Which can only mean one thing!" Indus exclaimed, before leaning to his adoptive son. "Lincoln, what does that mean?"
"That someone, somehow, inserted a second Epithet into Molly without her knowledge," Lincoln folded his arms and hummed. "But there's only one object in the entire world, that we know of anyway, that could achieve that..."
"The Arsene Amulet."
The family of three faced Molly, who was quick to explain:
"M-My school went to a museum tour sometime ago, and we came across the amulet at an exhibition! I honestly thought it was fake, though."
"We weren't really going to ask you how you know about the amulet." Mera said.
"We weren't?" Indus inquired.
"No, but what we should ask, is how's the amulet going to help?"
"With the Arsene Amulet, I can get rid of the auxilliary Epithet I've been forced to bear. Eh, no pun intended," Molly shrugged. "Besides, I'm pretty sure the amulet was used anyway, since it's the only object in the entire world that can add and take Epithets."
Add and take... wait...
"Molly, would it also work if your other Epithet was sealed or something?" Lincoln asked.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, if you were put into a spell that forces you to stick to one Epithet, would that also work?"
Molly hummed, scratching her chin. "I never thought about that, actually. I mean, spells are temporary, but I think it would work as an alternative until the amulet appears."
"Do you have an idea, Lincoln?" Mera asked.
"One of my sisters just so happens to have "Witch" as her Epithet. Meaning that she can use spells and other supernatural powers-"
Mera snapped her fingers. "Meaning that she could cast a spell that only limits Molly to one Epithet. Preferrably, the one she was born with."
"Granted, it's not a permanent solution; like Molly said, it's only temporary, and she'd need to come visit her frequently so the spell keeps working," Lincoln shrugged. "But until the amulet or another option appears, it's the best thing we got."
The family hummed about it... until they saw Molly looking particularly nervous.
"What's wrong, kid?"
"I-I just had a thought," Molly looked at Lincoln, sweating slightly. "Lincoln... is your sister w... who I think she is?"
Lincoln frowned, knowing that Molly would most likely not enjoy the answer...
"No, no, nonono, NO! There's no way you're getting me to go in there!"
The "there" in question happened to be a forest at the Royal Woods Public Park, with a sign reading "Witch's Den" right above.
"Well, I never said you'd like the answer, Molly," Lincoln sighed. "But it's the only place I know she'd be at-"
"Yeah, I get that, but... I-I just didn't think the Loud family was that extensive!" Molly squeaked. "I mean, it's already hard to believe all of you have Epithets! What are the chances that one of your sisters turns out to be The Wicked Witch of Royal Woods?!"
"That name sounds more like propaganda for a movie than an actual thing," Mera sighed. "I mean, I agree that "Witch" as an Epithet can be pretty dangerous. I once faced someone with the same Epithet years ago, so I know what they're capable of. But at the same time, it's our only option of dealing with your... condition, until a better option appears."
"B-But I've heard the stories of the witch! How she's crazy, cruel, and all that sort of stuff!" Molly twiddled her fingers. "W-What if she decides to twist something about the spell to put me under her control or something?!"
"I thought about that, but don't worry: I just need to ask her not to pull any strings and she should be fine," Lincoln scratched his head. "She always listens to me, so if I tell her to leave you alone, she will."
"Besides, you're forgetting one important detail, Tiny Molly!" Indus said with a smile. "As the self-proclaimed father of Lincoln and husband of Lady Mera-"
"Co-worker!" Mera corrected with a notable blush.
"It is my sole duty to protect both of you! And I shall do it with my..."
Indus spread his arms, and an Orange barrier formed around the trio.
"Whoa!" Molly chirped.
"You keep surprising me, Indus," Mera said with a smile. "Not only because you keep learning new ways to use your Epithet, but because despite that, you still forgot an important thing."
"And that is?"
Mera lowered her eyelids, pointing at Lincoln, who waved while outside the barrier with a sheepish smile.
"Lincoln's still outside."
Once things had been sorted and all four members had been placed inside the BARRIER! they walked into the witch's den, scanning their surroundings as they walked past a group of frogs with oddly-human faces staring at them.
"Oh my, do I have visitors?"
The group stopped, and saw a shadowy figure resembling a woman appear behind a curtain made of leaves.
"Hi there," Lincoln greeted. "Lucy."
The figure's eyes widened. "Lincoln?"
She grabbed the curtain and pulled it to the side... to reveal a girl smaller than Lincoln, wearing a black dress with sleeves long enough to cover her hands, and Black hair that covered her eyes.
"Is that really you?!"
"Yeah, Lucy," Lincoln smiled. "It's me."
"Huh, how strange," Molly remarked. "Why does this girl have the same name as the Wicked Witch of Royal Woods?"
Lincoln rolled his eyes, and pointed at the girl.
"Because, Molly, she's in fact the so-called Wicked Witch of Royal Woods."