thin a film as I could make of myself. The river had found some broken bricks in the farther wall, and settled to flow through the room at a stable depth. If only that flow would be fast enough. The blood and salt overlaying the chalk circle had been swept away in the first onslaught, but the chalk itself was more resistant, wearing away little by little as the dome sank lower, forcing my flaming nemesis ever closer to where I lay, helplessly plastered across the floor. What a way to go; plastered thinly rather than just plain plastered. As I was about to give myself over to the higher powers, a tiny fraction of the chalk circle washed clean away and the spell bubble collapsed. My fellow prisoner streaked upward towards the ceiling, throwing flickering golden light across the higgledy-piggledy stuff on the benches. A cacophony of animal whines and shrieks battered my senses, so long used to the silence of the bottle followed by the deep hum of the spelled circle. As the river swept across the stone flags where I lay, I drew myself up and coalesced into human form. A tad premature, I decided, as the water tugged at my knees. I thinned out a bit and drifted upward until my feet rested on the bubbling surface. Taking a deep breath, I wrinkled my nose at the stench of shorted electrics and soiled straw. A flicker of light caught my attention and I realised that the scorching smell was not all due to the submerged cabling. On his way up, my erstwhile companion had set a dozen tiny sparks amongst the clutter on the work surfaces which were even now expanding into small fires. The shrieks from the cages redoubled. I couldn’t let those poor animals be burnt alive. With water flowing past my feet in abundance it was an easy task to lift some into the air and split it into smaller droplets, to fall as soft rain onto the workbenches, quenching the flames. What I failed to take into account was the effect this might have on the salamander, still lurking up there near the high ceiling. The animal noises were drowned out by the sudden eruption of an incandescent firestorm that threatened to engulf the roof. Damn, but I was going to have to do this the hard way.