“Whoops…” Jessica murmured to herself as soon as she read the message.
The message read ‘Jessica we can’t unfreeze Iris! Get over here!’
It seemed that she had gotten carried away a little. She hadn’t expected a throwaway spell to be this effective.
Either way, she still had to go through some paperwork after the attack, so she couldn’t go free Iris immediately. Luckily, there was another perfectly capable person around.
“Max?” she called out with telepathy, making sure only Max could hear.
“I kind of sealed Pretty Frost and they don’t know how to free her.”
“Huh?! Isn’t that bad?”
“Yeah… Could you please go help them? I still need to handle bureaucracy.” Jessica made sure to include the feeling of rolling her eyes into that message.
“Right… Okay. I’m going.”
She then looked back to her phone and typed out a reply message. ‘I’m sending Max.’
And then, it was off to deal with the damn paperwork.
Why did there have to be so much of it? No wonder Baugh had made so little progress on figuring out a cure for Trish over the years. There was barely any time to do the actual research! And whenever one began to make a bit of progress, there was a nosy Hecate reminding you to go attack humans like some kind of alarm clock, dammit.
It was a miracle that Jessica had been able to make any progress at all, really.
Anyway, back to the after-action report. Naturally, she didn’t mention anything about the magical girls struggling to free Frost in her reports. Not like it mattered since Max would free her again soon…
Her phone pinged again.
‘What the hell did you do?! Max can’t free her either!’
Jessica blinked. Not even Max could? But she hadn’t even tried particularly hard with that spell… Ugh, dammit.
She glanced at her half-finished report and grimaced.
Whatever. I will have to be late then.
She stood up and stretched before exiting her office and heading straight for the teleporter. Luckily nobody stopped her or called her out for skipping paperwork. Being the resident demon of demons everyone respectfully feared – or fearfully respected? – definitely paid off.
Once on Earth, she changed back into the mundane student Jessica and contacted Max via telepathy to figure out where they took Iris.
“It was the closest,” Max replied, whilst sending the impression of a shrug.
“Alright, I’ll be there in a minute.”
At normal human walking speed, it might have taken her close to half an hour, but if she used magic to fly while concealing herself – no, her tiny wings were still useless even after becoming a general, she had to expend magic to fly – she made it there in a little over five minutes.
She scanned her surroundings to make sure nobody was looking, dispelled the concealment, and walked to the front door while sending another telepathic message to Max, telling him she was here.
Before she even reached the door, it burst open, revealing a panicking Erika and an angry Sarah.
“You’re here! Quickly!” “Jessica! What have you done?!” the two shouted over each other.
“Yeah, yeah! I get it! Let me inside so I can fix it!”
A blur of motion followed by the sounds of the front door slamming and Jessica found herself in the living room. In the center, there was a big chunk of grayish black ice with Pretty Frost encased inside of it. She still wore a shocked expression. Max, his two moms, and the rest of the magical girls in their civvies stood around it.
“Lead– Jessica! I can’t free her! The magic is built all weird!” Max yelled out in panic as soon as Jessica entered.
“Weird? What do you mean?” she asked, even as she walked up to the chunk of ice to start analyzing it.
“It’s like… two different types of magic woven together. The structure is too tough to break or even budge!”
“Two different… Oh…” Jessica blinked as she came to a realization. Poking around the ice confirmed her suspicions. “Right, uh… I did use Frost’s magic and combined it with my own. I wasn’t really thinking about it too hard, but I guess that’s what made it so sturdy…?”
“You used her own magic against her?!” Nicole shouted in surprise. “You can do that?!”
“Yeah, it was on a whim… Max can do it too, you know?” she mumbled without looking away from the ice.
She frowned as she looked at the seal in place.
It was sturdy. So much sturdier than she thought was possible. It felt like a paradox, but somehow, combining demonic magic and magical girl’s powers gave rise to some incredibly stable magical structure.
She poked it with her magic, tried untying the two magical threads from each other, tried severing the whole thing… Nothing worked.
“What is it? Don’t tell me you can’t undo it either!” Sarah shouted at her.
“Well…” Jessica drawled as she turned around. “There’s a slight problem…”
Everyone tensed for a moment.
“Apparently, combining my demonic magic with hers made it nearly impenetrable to either one of them alone.” She frowned. “Meaning that no, I can’t free her –” Before everyone had the chance to shout and scream at her, she continued, “-- alone. But it should be possible when combining the two types of magic again.”
“So you need our help?” Erika asked.
Jessica nodded and the three immediately transformed before walking closer.
“Alright, let’s first try the opposite element,” Jessica grabbed Flame’s hand – she definitely didn’t start with her because she wanted an excuse to hold her hand, nope – and put both of them on the ice.
She spent a few minutes instructing her on what to do and where to direct her magic. Once she made sure Flame understood, they tried to break the seal, but…
“And, now…” The seal resisted. “Damn…”
“It didn’t work…” Flame muttered in horror.
Undeterred, Jessica tried the same thing with Spark and Bloom, and then various combinations of their magic. Combining Spring and Autumn came close, but in the end… nothing worked. The seal refused to budge.
“Fuck…” Jessica cursed. “I think we need Frost’s magic to break through this…” She looked back at Frost’s shocked expression inside the ice with a grimace.
“Jessica…” Spark growled, white hot anger emanating from her.
“Okay, there is one more thing we can try!” Jessica interrupted her, before circling the ice and looking at the Ice Aegis in Frost’s hand. “We can try to utilize the shield itself somehow.” She bit her lip. “It’s gonna be hard, though… Ideally, we would have its wielder with us.”
As she said that, the three magical girls looked toward Max.
“That… can be arranged,” Spark said carefully. “Iris had been already losing her attunement, so…”
“Huh…?” Jessica finally turned around and saw everyone focusing their attention on Max. She looked back and forth between him and the girls in confusion. “Am I missing something?”
“But I’m not… the wielder,” Max said.
“Not yet,” Spark confirmed. “But you can be.”
Jessica blinked. “Say what? Max is gonna be the next Pretty Frost?” She hummed. “Sounds pretty fitting, actually.”
“Huh?! You too?!” Max gaped at her. “But I’m not even a girl!”
Jessica just shrugged. “Eh… Debatable.” She ignored Max’s sputtering. “You’re plenty feminine and even went out of your way to make a magical tool to alter your voice back then, remember?”
“Oooh, really?” Spark fought down a grin.
“And, well, other than that? You’re very much a genius when it comes to magic. Especially sealing and defense-type magic. Those are supposed to be Pretty Frost’s specialties, right?” Jessica glanced at the two adults in the room, who wore a warm smile as they looked at Max. “Not to mention… It’s literally your legacy.” Jessica shrugged.
All eyes were on Max now and Max knew it.
Max looked at the ground in thought and swallowed.
Jessica could see the conflict warring inside the boy – or a girl? – but she already knew what their answer would be.
As did everyone else in the room.