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HTHT is about a trio of magical girls defending the world from interdimensional invaders.
It has concluded.
If you like HTHT, you might like Elcenia, my fantasy series.

"Yes, I realize talking to myself is a bad sign," muttered Rowan, "but turning invisible is very hard, and I need to complain to someone."

The little crescents of magic normally behaved themselves very agreeably. Rowan could heal, conjure pen and paper, translate miscellaneous Datékali languages into English and vice-versa. She could levitate her own beads, slowly; she could cut paget collars off at a distance and stuff magicians with no beads left to free them into boxes of silver light.

She could not become invisible.

She could also not alter her staff. She could not fly without borrowing Myaldin's wings. She couldn't do what Kworil had done to carve a window in the air and peer at Earth, let alone step into it, without a bead doing it for her.

The frustrating thing was that there was no pattern to these gaps. She couldn't turn invisible, but she could make her footsteps and breath silent, if she liked. She couldn't change the staff but the rest of her costume could be freely modified, for all that she liked what it was. She couldn't make her own windows to peek into Earth, but she could change her eyes so they were bright with opal glitter and see for miles.

Unfortunately, Dahar's actual castle was short on windows, and mere eagle-eyes weren't going to let Rowan see much even from her vantage point up on a neighboring cliff. Mere silence wouldn't hide her from a guard or another paget or Dahar herself.

Rowan wondered if there was a bead that would let her turn invisible.

"Invisible," she said aloud, peering at her staff. Nothing happened.

Maybe someone else had a bead that would let her turn invisible.

"I realize talking to myself is a bad sign," she said, "but I'm going to go pick fights with more magicians, and it's lonely work."

"Hey," said Janice, letting herself into Susie's room. "Sue. D'you want to be a bridesmaid?"

"At your and Claude's wedding, you mean?" Susie asked, looking up. "Yeah, sure. I guess."

"Neat. Get a dress in peridot green - I don't care about the style, I just want the colors to match. And shoes to go with it," Janice said. "I'll text you with the dates on the rehearsal and the ceremony. Okay, I've gotta go. Bye!" She turned with a little wave of her hand and let herself out again. It occurred to Susie to wonder if Dad had actually given Janice keys to the apartment or if she'd gotten them some other way.

Susie didn't really care if her mother could come and go as she pleased. She was more or less indifferent to her. When Susie had been little, she'd alternately raged and mourned and pretended not to care, but lately... she really didn't care. Janice was pretty and this had proven enough advantage for her that she didn't need to be anything else. She was a small, pointless person who posed for photographs. Susie's dad had done a good enough job without her and Susie was fine.

Claude, on the other hand... Susie supposed he was all right. He had a weird, almost predatory demeanor, especially when he smiled, but he never actually did anything objectionable. Susie supposed he could be swiping more than his fair share from the various sources of income he managed for her, but that wasn't such a big deal. He made scrupulously certain that she had enough to do whatever she needed to do, and in return she didn't need to deal with the headache personally. Switching managers was exactly the sort of headache she was willing to pay to avoid, as long as she had enough.

She opened up her computer (new, courtesy of Claude) and checked her bank balance. He'd send her a few hundred dollars, and an e-mail: "$$ is for your dress & shoes. Get something nice, media will be crawling all over the place."

(Susie would have just turned her costume into a peridot dress, but if she did it that way she couldn't make her staff go away, or change the star clips in her hair to look green, even if everything else would have cooperated.)

"I'm going shopping, Dad," she called, and at his reply of assent from the kitchen, she walked out onto the balcony, and sprouted wings.

She found a bridal shop down the street from the mall, picked a style she liked and made sure she didn't look ridiculous when she adjusted herself to fit, and ordered it and heels in "peridot". She'd be a bridesmaid in her mother's second wedding because she'd been asked nicely and it seemed like the thing to do.

She hoped no one was going to make a big deal out of it. It wasn't one. Kristi seemed like she might have something unwelcome to say about Susie doing anything for her mom, but Kristi was easily set off by anything, lately.

Rowan was very, very glad that healing herself was not one of the functions her magic was obstinate about performing.

Her costume was invulnerable, but it was still flexible, and it didn't cover her head or her hands. Most magicians weren't accustomed to making physical attacks against opponents. If they did it anyway, and they came in person, Rowan could usually outclass even the taller, heavier magicians, naturally armed with horns and giant hooves. They made the attempts on the grounds that she was slight and had only her staff as a weapon, not because they had any significant fighting skill in their own right.

She was no match whatsoever for a bead. And usually, Rowan's own beads kept others off of her. She was careful not to pick fights with magicians who came in pairs or groups, because she was alone.

Sometimes her care didn't pay off.

Rowan was alive, because she could fly and neither enemy bead could do the same, but she wouldn't have liked to have to do much with a shattered leg.

"I will be more careful in the future about flying in range of beads," she muttered, watching the silver light extend from her hand to repair the limb. "I will be more careful about scoping out potential targets to make sure they're alone first."

She'd won, but narrowly, and gained three beads - one of which she could use, two she'd need to send back to Kristi and Susie by paget courier - and two boxed magicians.

Her leg felt fine after a few seconds. "Maybe I'll be a doctor," she muttered, before hauling herself to her feet and turning to the captives. "So. Either of you have pagets?"

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