The Nu-Mantia which is Liberté
By: Dark Knight Gafgar
Disclaimer: I own nothing that is not mine, and everything that IS mine. Capiche?
Chapter 1 - Like a Kynaz Out of Hell
Professor Jean-Baptiste Colbert tensed as the demonic figure towered over the youngest Valliere, quickly abandoning his partially-incanted ward spell and beginning to recite the spellwords for his fire magic.
'A demon.' he thought incredulously, quietly edging sideways to put Louise out of his line attack. ''Zero' Louise summoned some kind a demon. There goes the myth of her being incapable of magic.'
Behind his glasses, Colbert's eyes twinkled briefly with grim humor.
'I suppose I really should've expected something... special from one of Karin's daughters...'
Azatot sighed as he swept his gaze around the courtyard once more, idly noting the adult human to his flank trying to quietly circle around in front of him. 'The fuck is he doing, anyway?' Azatot wondered, shifting his head in the opposite direction while keeping his peripheral vision firmly locked on what appeared to be another mage, his daedric eyes watching closely as the mortal began to quietly incant. 'Is... is he starting to channel magicka for a fire spell? What is he, an idiot? Bah!' he snorted, dismissing the foolish mortal as a threat immediately. 'Where am I, anyway?' he wondered, taking in the surrounding area in more detail.
He appeared to be in a large, grassy courtyard within some sort of walled fortress, with a large central tower surrounded by four - that he could see - smaller towers, each of which was connected to their neighboring towers and the large central tower by high walls. His mind built an image of the area as it would have appeared from a great height, and quickly made sense of the shape once he concluded the likely existence of a sixth tower out of his line of sight. Straight walls, the placements of the towers he could see, and assuming the builders enjoyed symmetry as much as most mortals did...
It took little more than a second. 'A pentagon, then.' Azatot decided. 'Possibly a hexagon, but I'd put my bet on pentagon.' He glanced back at the mortals, who now appeared to have begun to get over their initial shock from his appearance and were speaking with one another in hushed tones. Now that he examined them in detail, he realized they were all fairly young, and not a single mer or beastfolk was in sight. All of them were human, wearing black mage's capes over what appeared to be some sort of uniform - white shirt and black pants for the men, a similar shirt and those wonderful, amazing short skirts for the women. Azatot chuckled darkly as he caught sight of a tall, buxom redhead with dusky brown skin off to one side, resolving to have some fun with her later if he had the time.
'Bunch of apprentices I suppose.' he thought, nodding to himself in satisfaction. 'This doesn't look like the Arcane University, and I don't see White Gold Tower anywhere, so this can't be the College of Whispers. The Synod, then. So this must be High Rock. Shit, I haven't been here since the Second Era!' Azatot grinned, licking his lips again in anticipation. 'They probably won't keep me here long, but maybe I can find a way to br-'
Azatot blinked as the voice intruded on his thoughts, looking down at his summoner again, who "eep"ed and scuttled backwards a bit at the attention. 'Small one. Must be younger than the rest.' He then blinked once, looking down, and realized he was standing at the edge of a fixed summoning circle. He then remembered the creatures mixed in with the rest of the apprentices and laughed in realization, not noticing as the crowd of onlookers flinched at the sound. 'Ah! I get it now. Must be a beginner's lesson on Conjuration. About bloody time the Synod got over the taboo.' He glanced briefly at the other summons, snorting in contempt as he realized most of them were little more than vermin. 'No Mazken. Damn. Not even a scamp either. I guess it makes sense that they haven't been summoning daedra, though. The Vigilants are probably pissed that the Bretons are conjuring again as it is.' He looked at his summoner. 'I suppose this one's got guts, then. And good taste.' He then noticed her hair again and winced. '...In some things, anyway. That color can't be natural. ...Though I suppose I could always check...'
"Who..." the mortal started, then paused, swallowing and wetting her lips. "Who are you?"
Azatot grinned, not that she would be able to see it through his helmet. "I am a servant of Lord Dagon, a Caitiff of the Kyn. Dracon of the Balic Cabals. Dawnbringer. Who can I kill for you today, mortal?"
The girl blinked, paling, as did most of the assembled crowd. "I-I didn't..."
"Oh?" he stepped forward, his summoner flinching at his approach. "I don't suppose you didn't summon me for... other reasons then, did you?" he moved his foot forward between her spread legs, catching the end of her skirt with his boot and lifting to reveal a glimpse of white-
The girl shot backwards with a sudden and surprising burst of speed, red-faced and sputtering as she held her skirt down with both hands. "N-n-n-n-n-n-no! NO! W-W-WHAT?! NO! H-how DARE...! NO!"
'Pity.' Azatot shrugged. "Then what? Just showing off?" he frowned, then glared down at her. "You'd better not be planning on using me for target practice, mortal. If so, I will fucking end you."
The summoner stared at him, wide-eyed, jaw working up and down but no words emerging.
"L-Louise?!" a voice called, and the girl turned to regard the speaker, who Azatot realized with a grin was the delicious-looking redhead. 'Probably a Redguard, given the skin. Louise must be Pinky's name. Sounds Bretonian, no surprise there. Especially if she's skilled enough to summon daedra at her age.'
"Louise, what in the name of the Founder is THAT?!"
"I-I don't know!"
'What.' Azatot's eyes narrowed, his opinion of his summoner dropping dramatically. 'So the brat summoned a Kynaz without even knowing what we look li-' His eyes widened in realization as he quietly glanced at the rest of the crowd. '...Except those other brats don't recognize me either. The old fuck seems to have an idea, though.' he thought, turning his gaze back towards the older human - probably their teacher - who was glaring at him over the top of his glasses. Azatot grinned back in response, though the action was hidden behind the mask of his helmet.
Azatot twitched and turned toward the assembled crowd, noticing the blond female with the strange hairstyle - though he supposed compared to some Dunmer standards it was fairly tame - who was now cowering behind an equally blond male with his shirt half undone. 'And here I thought only tavern wenches did that.'
"It's-it's a demon!" the girl repeated, seemingly emboldened a little as the crowd around her began to murmur its agreement. "Louise the Zero summoned a demon for a familiar!"
"Witchcraft!" came an anonymous cry from amongst the crowd. "Heresy!"
Azatot stared blankly at the crowd, which had rapidly gone from frozen in terror to a roiling mass of indignant and outraged shouting, most of it oriented towards the summoner at his feet. ''Demon'?' he wondered, incredulous. 'Fucking seriously? Oh wow, I haven't been called that since those Alessian dicksquirts were still around!' He wondered if he should get some souvenirs to commemorate the occasion. The blond cunt's eyes, maybe? He could think of so many wondrous things to do with her afterwards, especially with a good pair of empty eye sockets-
His pleasant train of thought was suddenly derailed, then, in a moment of dawning realization.
'Wait, wait, wait.
Louise felt a cold tightness gripping her chest as she watched the crowd of her fellow students work itself up into a frenzy. Kirche and, strangely enough, Guiche both appeared to be trying to smooth things over for her, Kirche actually doing a fairly fine job at trying to shout down everyone else at once, but Montmorency's outburst had apparently galvanized the mob enough that mere words wouldn't be enough to sway them. Louise watched as three classmates broke away from the crowd, rushing towards the dorms with their familiars while shouting about writing "letters to the Pope himself!", and noticed in the corner of her eye how Professor Colbert, normally a fairly cheerful man, had suddenly donned a cold, tense expression, glaring towards her as he edged closer.
Louise turned back towards her summon - her familiar - who stood seemingly gazing at the crowd, though the helmet made it impossible to tell for certain. Familiars took after those that summoned them. If she'd summoned a... a demon for a familiar...
Then suddenly, without warning, the creature turned back toward her and lashed out. Louise couldn't help but shriek in surprise and sudden terror as an arm slashed downward, a clawed, jet-black and, Louise realized, unarmored hand grabbing her by the scruff of her shirt and lifting her up, face-to-face. The crowd behind her hushed and froze, but Louise hardly noticed, mind focused instead on the hand so near her throat, claws pressing into the bottom of her chin, hot, dry and foul-smelling air blowing into her face with the creature's every breath. Her eyes watered, and a moist warmth spread between her legs.
"Familiar." The demon spat.
Louise squeaked, then squealed like a stuck pig as the hand suddenly shifted its grip from her shirt to her throat and began to squeeze.
"You summoned me... as a familiar." It was not a question.
Louise tried to speak, but found her tongue either unable or unwilling to obey. After a moment, she simply nodded.
"As in a permanent, long-term summoning. A life contract. A thrall. A... pet."
Louise cried out as she was flung to the ground as suddenly as she'd been picked up from it, staring up in shock and horror as her familiar - who she hadn't bound yet, she suddenly realized! - loomed over her, grasping a spiky protrusion at its hip and pulling it free - to reveal a wicked and sharp-looking hand axe, crafted from the same flesh-colored material as the creature's armor. Louise realized with a start that what she had initially taken for asymmetrical decorations on the demon's armor were, in fact, an entire arsenal of weapons strapped to every point of its body, including another axe, what appeared to be a pair of swords, some sort of mace or club and at least four daggers that she could see off hand.
"Nnnnnnnnnooope." the demon growled, raising the axe in its hands high above its head, ready to split her in two-
And then a fireball hit it straight in the face.
'Yeah, not happening.' Azatot grumbled as he raised his war axe, 'Nope. Nnnnnnnnnooope. I don't care if it's the fucking Telvanni Archmagister, if some fucking piece of scamp shit mortal thinks I'm going to sign on with some shitty fucking life contract and stick around the however many fucking centuries it takes the motherfucker to die, they've got another fucking thing coming!'
He had just been about the bring the axe down and head this whole problem off at the proverbial pass when the older human shot forward, hurling a ball of raging flame from his hand that engulfed Azatot's head in an inferno. While the flames - even magical ones - did little but slightly warm the soul-infused ebony of his helmet, the attack had hit with sufficient physical force that Azatot had actually been forced backwards a few steps, axe-arm falling to a guard position while his free hand swiped at the fires covering his field of vision, smothering the already-fading flames with his palm.
'Note to self: mortals attempting to use fire on a Kynaz might not be stupid, just powerful.' Though now that his memory had been refreshed, he could distinctly remember this happening to him before. Twice. 'Fuck. Third time's the charm, I suppose.'
He turned to glare at the older mage, who had now begun to back away, dragging his stunned and shivering pink-haired summoner with one hand while readying a second fireball at the tip of his staff in the other. 'Oh. Staves. Guess he's not all that powerful after all. Smart, though.' Their gazes met, one pair of eyes hidden behind the light glinting off a pair of simple reading glasses, the other behind the faceguard of an intimidating daedric helmet forged of volcanic rock and tortured souls. The mage did not flinch.
Azatot smirked. 'Not bad, mortal.'
A second, weaker fireball washed over his chestplate, and Azatot turned to regard the Redguard girl who'd thrown it, ducking beneath a third attack made by the older mage. 'Pitiful. Ah well, it's not like I really need her intact...' he thought, shifting his grip on the axe in his hand - and then sending it spinning through the air towards the girl's head. The redhead's eyes widened as the axe drew near, and she abandoned her incantation, throwing herself to the side in a clumsy dodge. The axe continued on, embedding itself in the skull of a slack-jawed male that had been standing behind her, and the human slumped to the ground bonelessly.
Now panic spread through the audience in full, and the crowd of youths began screaming and fleeing in all directions, many taking to the air with spells of levitation. Azatot charged towards the closest group that had remained on the ground, growling as several of his targets also began to take to the air at his approach. Three remained on the ground, however, a pair of females and a bulky male who pressed themselves back against the wall in terror.
Azatot grinned behind his helmet, rolling beneath the adult mage's flaming whip strike - 'Huh. That's new.' - and coming up drawing a sword in each hand as he dashed forward. One of the two girls regained her wits enough to attempt an escape skyward, but only managed to fly up a few feet when Azatot hurled the shortsword in his left hand, pinning her to the wall through the heart. A pair of weak fire spells washed harmlessly over his back, followed by a more effective ice attack, and Azatot grabbed the male by the neck and hauled him around, using the boy as a human shield and forcing the teacher and several apprentices to abort their attacks, a few errant badly-aimed blasts striking the wall around them. Keeping the sword in his right hand close to his shield's neck, Azatot reached with his left to grab the still-frozen girl next to him, only to be forced to draw his hand back with a curse as a powerful and accurate pair of ice spears smashed into the wall beside him. The girl, startled back to her senses, scrambled away and took to the air.
On the opposite side of the clearing, the teacher and several students - including the red-haired Redguard and the two blondes - had formed a ragged line facing him, spells held at the ready. Azatot edged forward, trying to keep his living shield between him and the firing line, but the flamboyant male with the open shirt merely began circling around to his right, the girl with the fucking stupid-looking drillhair following after him, and two more students quickly began following his example, flanking to the left, as the adult, the Redguard, and a short blue-haired girl with a staff kept to the center of the formation.
'Well fucking shit.' Azatot snarled, eyes tracking back and forth. 'They're smarter than I gave them credit for. Seems my luck's run out.'
He sighed. 'Guess I'll just have to go down fighting.'
"What's your name, mortal?" Azatot growled, edging to the right. The pudgy boy whimpered for a moment, then squeaked as Azatot edged his sword close enough to his neck to draw blood.
"Well, 'Malicorne'. Sucks to be you." Azatot pulled his blade away, shoved the boy forward, and then hacked off his head, grinning as he felt the mortal's shrieking soul flow through his sword and into one of the black soul gems embedded within his armor.
The teacher reacted instantly, eyes narrowing in rage as a massive fire spell surged towards him. Azatot heaved the corpse into the fireball's path and began running right, though not quite fast enough to completely avoid the explosion, which picked him up and hurled him forwards - directly towards his target. Azatot hit the ground running, another pair of weak fire spells brushing harmlessly across his armor, followed shortly by a heavy impact right behind his shoulders that felt vaguely like an Orc clubbing him over the head with a warhammer. Azatot forced himself onwards, and the open-shirted fop in his path waved the-
'You're fucking shitting me. Is that a fucking rose?'
-fucking rose in his hand, and in a flash of light a pair of magical summons appeared in his path. The two creatures vaguely resembled Golden Saints, but seemed somehow... different. Artificial.
'Armor material is different.' Azatot's eyes narrowed as he charged forwards, 'Bronze, not gold. Aura's all wrong too - not an Aureal. Some kind of Atronach? Never seen one like that before. Bronze... If it was brass, I'd have thought maybe some sort of animunculi... Hmph. Who gives a shit.'
The two bronze constructs met his charge, one rushing towards him bare-handed while a second stood back, sword in hand. Azatot reversed momentum, bouncing back on his heel as the first construct neared him - then ducked as a flurry of magical attacks rushed over his head, several striking the summon and blowing it backwards. Azatot grinned and hurled himself forward once more, grabbing the mace strapped to his back in one hand and meeting the second construct head on. The summon moved quickly, its bronze sword flying towards him with great speed. Azatot blocked the strike on his right pauldron, pulled his mace-arm back, and swung, smashing the construct's head flat. The bronze summon fell, disintegrating, and Azatot hacked its off-balanced counterpart in half with his sword as hurled himself past and towards their summoner even as a powerful fire spell struck his left arm, the mace falling from his hand as it briefly lost all feeling.
The open-shirted blond stepped back, eyes wide, as Azatot bore down on him, sword raised to split him in half. Throwing his arms up, the boy summoned an ornate bronze sword of his own, raising it up to meet Azatot's attack and bracing it with both hands-
The enchanted daedric ebony smashed through it with ease, Azatot's blade biting deeply into the boy's face. The youth fell backwards screaming, and Azatot stepped forwards to impale him through the chest, only to suddenly find himself flung up and backwards by some great, unseen force.
Azatot's eyes followed the magic surrounding him back to its source, the blond female. 'Targeted levitation and telekinesis? Clever, bitch.'
And then something smashed into him like he'd just been hit with a house.
Azatot was flung down like a discarded toy, impacting the ground solidly and leaving a deep furrow in the soil as he slid onwards, his sword flying from his hand and landing well beyond him nearly on the opposite side of the courtyard. He stood, awkwardly, a powerful fire attack rocking him back on his heels and cooking him even through his armor, but remained upright, staring in shock at what had hit him.
'Oh shit. A fucking dragon.'
The massive - if young - frost dragon before him roared in his face, snapping her jaws forward. Azatot leaped backwards, then cursed as the dragon grinned at him and opened her maw wide. "FO KRAH..."
Azatot's eyes shot around the clearing for an instant, then fixed on a suitable shield. Rolling to the side to avoid a flurry of frost and fire spells, he threw himself atop the Redguard, grabbing her by the shirt and between her legs and ignoring the enticing but ultimately distracting flush this brought to her dusky face as he turned and hurled her toward the dragon, which immediately snapped her mouth shut, abandoning the breath attack to rise on her legs and sweep one wing forward, gently catching the girl and letting her slide carefully to the ground.
Something roared to his left, and Azatot whirled on it to see a furious salamander leaping at him, fire surging from its open mouth and washing across his face. Azatot dodged back, then to the side, drawing a pair of daggers from his armor. The salamander leaped again, only this time Azatot ducked low beneath its fire breath and stabbed forwards, catching it in the chest and left forward leg. The creature shrieked and whipped its tail around, catching him in the arm and stomach just as another frost bolt thudded into his temple. Azatot raked the dagger in his right hand down the creature's side, severing its two left legs and biting deep into its tail, then hurled it away just as the dragon crashed into the ground in front of him, roaring again in his face. Azatot stumbled backwards with a grimace, hurling the dagger in his left hand into the dragon's neck. The dragon howled as the blade pierced her scales, then again as Azatot pressed the attack, drawing another dagger - this one glistening with a wet, green sheen - and stabbing into her chest. The dragon spun and whipped at him with her tail, slapping him backwards, and Azatot landed unsteadily on his feet just as a massive wall of ice smashed into him, flinging him across the courtyard and into the outer wall. The stone shuddered, but held, and Azatot slid to the ground, slowly staggered forward two steps, then fell flat on his face, unconsciousness overtaking him.
'That wasn't supposed to happen.'
Colbert bent over, bracing his arms on his knees, and breathed deeply. It'd been a long, long time since he'd had a serious fight. As he looked up and surveyed the three dead and one severely injured students scattered around the clearing - not counting the two wounded familiars that were now being tended by their masters - he concluded that it'd been too long. He was out of shape, dangerously so.
And he'd failed his students because of that.
'That wasn't supposed to happen.'
A pair of academy guards in bright red robes flew down, taking in the scene. One retched at the sight of Malicorne's headless body and Ellie's corpse hanging suspended from the side of the main tower, the other running over to him, rambling an almost incoherent stream of rapid-fire questions. Colbert wordlessly pointed him over to the demon laying motionless at edge of the courtyard, watching as the man turned and cautiously approached the armored figure.
'That wasn't supposed to happen.' he thought again, breathing heavily. 'The Familiar Summoning Ritual never summons something that would be hostile towards its summoner. That wasn't supposed to happen.'
"By the Founder, what IS that thing?!" a voice called out, and Colbert turned to see the second mage run up to his partner, still pale.
The first edged closer, aiming his staff at the demon's prone form. "I'm not sure."
The second walked up straight beside it and nudged it with his foot. "Is it dead?"
"Don't get so close to it!" Colbert snapped, "It's-"
The demon's arm snapped out, grabbing the second mage by the leg. "Ei nath."
The man exploded.
Colbert fell backwards as something smashed into his face. As he rolled back to his feet, he realized it had been a severed arm, now twitching on the lawn beside him. Magical fire crackled off to his right, and Colbert spun to see the staff-armed guard releasing a torrent of fire directly into the demon's face. It merely growled in response, grabbing the man's staff and yanking it out of his hands. The mage leaped backwards, pulling a back-up wand out of his sleeve, then dropped it, screaming, as the demon snapped the staff in half, lunged forward holding the two halves in both hands, and pinned the mage's feet to the ground with the broken ends. The demon then rose, pointing two clawed fingers at the man's head. Red light streamed down the demon's arm, flickering as it drew across the tattoos on its hand, then released from the fingertips as a torrent of flame. The mage howled in agony as his clothes, hair, and flesh all ignited, falling backwards, knees bent, his feet still pinned to the ground.
'Oh, Founder...' Colbert's eyes widened in realization. 'It's a demon - of course it can also use magic.'
The demon rose to its feet, breathing hard but otherwise seemingly unharmed. Sickly yellow light swirled around its hands, then flashed, and suddenly the demon was holding a battleaxe.
Colbert rose to his feet, grim-faced, and began to gather his willpower for another spell.
Across from him, the demon charged.
Louise had been too stunned by her near-death to do more than watch as the demon - the demon she had summoned - wrecked havoc. The moment the first student fell dead upon the grass, she realized that her time at the Tristain Magic Academy, her reputation as a mage, and possibly her very life were all over.
Something had gone horribly wrong, and she and she alone was responsible.
The realization left her numb, inside and out, and she remained still and helpless on the ground, watching entranced as the battle ensued around her. The demon was quick and agile despite being clad in bulky and heavy armor of plate over mail, very skilled in the use of the arsenal of weapons strapped to its body, seemingly immune to magical attack, and utterly ruthless. It was only after the demon had used its own magic to kill the two academy guards that the danger of the situation finally sunk in.
'It's going to kill everyone.' she realized with a sharp intake of breath, watching as Montmorency and a few other students dragged Guiche and Kirche away from the battle. 'Mister Colbert, me, everyone...' Louise stumbled to her feet, clutching her wand tight in her hand.
'I caused this. I'm responsible for this.' she took a deep breath to steady herself, then began to incant. 'I've got to help stop it.'
Azatot howled as a blast of fire scorched his armor, the heat burning straight through the daedric ebony to scorch his flesh beneath. 'Bloody fuck is this bastard good.' he grunted in grudging respect, hacking at the master fire mage's head with his battleaxe, only for the human to duck beneath it and fly backwards, baking his leg with yet another rush of flame. 'Graagh! I'm gonna enjoy ripping him to pieces when I catch him!' Azatot released a quick shock spell at the retreating mage, then was suddenly bowled over backwards by a torrent of icy wind. 'And who the fuck keeps hitting me with frost?!' Roaring in anger, he spun towards his other opponent - most of the other mortals who had been assisting in the battle earlier had all fled - only to find the tiny blue-haired girl glaring at him with a cold fury, magicka swirling around her as she channeled another spell.
Azatot fumbled for another dagger, then was forced to leap away as the fire mage narrowly missed him with yet another bolt of fire. This gave the girl time to complete her incantation, and Azatot gagged down blood as a large, multifaceted sharp-edged crystal flew from the end of her staff, catching him flatfooted and slicing deeply into his stomach. Azatot fell to one knee, bracing himself with his axe as he pressed his free hand into the wound.
'Fuckdammit.' he channeled magicka for a fire touch spell, wreathing his hand in flames and cauterizing the open wound. He then lurched backwards as synchronized blasts of flame and ice crisscrossed where his head had been moments prior. 'At the very least I want to get one of these fucks! Can't I get a fucking break here?'
A massive surge of magicka erupted to his left. Azatot whirled, surprised, and saw magic whirling around the pink-haired girl that had summoned him, building up into an attack that promised a whole new spectrum of pain for him in a few moments.
'I guess not.'
And then everything exploded.
Louise felt like screaming out in frustration as her attempted fireball failed and exploded, then stopped, blinking in surprise as Tabitha blew away the resulting smoke with a gust of wind and froze. The demon lay smoking and motionless in the middle of a circle of blasted dirt, its armor cracked and oozing black blood. The battleaxe it had been holding was nowhere to be seen. Louise approached the fallen demon slowly, Professor Colbert and Tabitha coming up alongside her, Kirche jogging up as well a second later.
The demon lay still. Then twitched. Then again, weakly reaching towards one of the daggers strapped to its armor.
'It's still alive.' Louise thought, incredulous. Professor Colbert raised a hand, preparing another fire spell - then fell to his knees, gasping. Louise turned towards him, surprised.
"Tabitha?!" Kirche suddenly blurted.
Louise whirled to her right, seeing Kirche knelt down next to her blue-haired classmate, who was bent over, breathing heavily. 'They're both out of willpower.' she realized, turning back towards the demon, which was now starting to slowly rise once more. 'I have to...!' She raised her wand and began incanting the spellwords for another fireball, but groaned, her arm dropping as she, too, found herself lacking the strength for a second attack. She looked at Kirche, who seemed equally at a loss. The Germanian turned, casting a fireball point-blank into the demon - which even as wounded as it was seemed to hardly notice - then aimed a kick at the side of its head, only to hop backwards on one foot, cursing and clutching the other in obvious pain afterwards. It would've almost been funny if they weren't all in serious mortal danger, really.
'I have to...' she turned back to the demon, mind working furiously. 'I... maybe if I...'
The demon's clawed fingers brushed against the hilt of one of its daggers.
Instantly Louise knelt over it, grabbing the dagger away from its grasping hands and hurling it away, wincing as one of the dagger's spikes caught on the side of her hand and drew blood. Straddling the demon's chest and doing her best to pin its arms with her knees, Louise raised her wand and channeled the last of her willpower into the first spell she could think of.
"Pentagon of the Five Elemental Powers..." she incanted.
"Grant your blessings upon this creature..." her eyes closed, blocking out everything around her.
"Miss Valliere! What are you-"
"And bind it as my familiar..." she leaned forward.
Grasping the demon's helmet in both hands, she yanked it sharply off and away, ignoring the burning pain from the helm's spikes and heat as she tossed it aside, then grabbed the demon's face in both hands and pressed her lips against its brow.
Azatot growled low through the haze of pain as he felt the binding magic take effect.
'Fuck. That's it, then. I guess it's just gonna be one of those centuries.'
The girl - his new master - released him and backed away, eyes still closed, then lurched to the side, vomiting and crying as she clutched her scorched palms to her chest. Azatot almost felt insulted. It couldn't have been all THAT bad, could it-
Then she clutched her hand and started screaming.
'Huh?' Azatot focused on her through the haze obscuring his vision, then nearly choked in surprise as he saw the daedric Oht sigil burning into the back of her left hand. 'Uh oh.'
Professor Colbert stumbled forward next to the young Valliere, only mildly surprised to find Miss Zerbst beating him there by a good margin, grabbing the thrashing girl by the shoulders and trying to calm her. "Louise? Louise!"
Colbert grasped the girl's hand, minding the raw, reddened skin of her palm, his eyes widening as he saw the smoking, unfamiliar symbol burned into it. 'Familiar runes? No.' his eyes narrowed. 'This is something different...'
Something laughed beside them, harsh and echoing. He, Louise and Kirche all stilled, then turned slowly as the demon struggled up to a sitting position beside them, grinning wickedly. Its - his - face with sharp and angular, with sleek black skin like polished obsidian shot with blood-red tattoos and sigils. Colbert started as he recognized the symbol that had been marked on Louise's hand emblazoned on the demon's right cheek, below the eye. A pair of short, sharp black horns jutted up from his head - Colbert idly wondered how they'd managed to fit beneath his helmet - and the demon even had hair, though it had been shorn down into stubble... revealing a pair of slender, pointed ears that unsettled him, even though he knew that there was no way this... this creature could be an elf.
In fact, it was almost more terrifying than one.
The demon laughed once more, the solid black voids of his eyes glinting in an eerily human expression of amusement. "Hah! It seems 'Father' Dagon likes you." Louise twitched beside him in Kirche's arms, then started trembling. "I suppose that makes this official, then." he said, grinning once more. "'Master'."
Azatot fell backwards onto the grass, roaring with laughter. 'Not sure what the branding was all about, but I get the feeling it means something important. Heh. Maybe this won't be such a boring gig after all. I'm actually almost starting to look forward to it...'
Something heavy suddenly stomped down beside him. Azatot blinked his eyes open, looking up into the faces of four of the blond fop's bronze summons and one very, very angry-looking adolescent frost dragon. The constructs raised their arms, clutching their hands together for a double-handed blow, and the dragon turned, raising her tail.
The blows rained down upon him.
Osmond frowned and leaned back in his chair as Professor Colbert finished his report.
Colbert shifted uneasily. "What should we do, sir?"
"Hmm. Well, clearly our first order of business is to alert the families of the slain. Mmm-hmm. Yes. I'll ask Miss Longueville to get right on that. Hmm."
Colbert shifted again. "And what about Miss Valliere? While I'm sure it wasn't her intention, it was her familiar that did this."
"Yes, yes. Clearly we should've taken more precautions."
"S-sir?" Colbert blurted, blinking in surprise.
Osmond stood, pacing behind his desk. "Yes. The Springtime Familiar Summoning has never summoned a hostile creature before, as far as we know, but there's always been a certain level of danger involved. Like that incident at Henfreckle." There, thirty years prior, the teaching staff at Albion's largest and most prestigious magical academy had made the rather ill-advised decision to prepare multiple summoning circles in the hopes of speeding up the process of more than four hundred students all summoning their familiars on the same day. Less than an hour into the ritual three students had simultaneously managed to summon three dragons, who while not hostile towards their summoners had turned hostile towards each other, and the whole academy had been demolished in the ensuing scuffle, never to be rebuilt.
Not that Osmond particularly minded, death toll be damned. At least now there was no one to strong-arm the magical academies of Halkeginia into playing that damned broom-ball nonsense anymore.
"I, um, see, sir." Colbert sighed, then straightened. "But still, there's been a lot of calls from both the faculty and the student body for Miss Valliere to face an Inquisitorial trial."
"Hmph! Nonsense. Only a sanctioned Bishop has that authority."
"Yes, yes." Osmond paused, then sighed. "Hmm. For her own safety, have her confined to her room and placed under guard. For now."
"And her wand?"
Osmond turned towards him, eyes flinty as he drew himself up to his full height... and shrugged. "Do what you feel is best."
"Of course, Headmaster."
"Good." Osmond returned to his seat, folding his hands over one another in front of his mouth. The pose was, for some odd reason, highly ominous. "What about the... demon?"
Colbert straightened his glasses. "Despite our best efforts, it's still alive. Mr. Gramont had already dismissed his golems when we realized the creature was still moving, though unconscious, and I felt it a waste of energy to continue trying to kill it. H... it has been bound and placed under guard in the basement. I had Mrs. Chevreuse seal its hands and feet into the stone, and posted three of the strongest mages currently present at the academy as guards. We also collected its weapons, though the pieces of the armor that were destroyed seemed to have, um, disintegrated."
"Hmm. I see. I'll have the weapons put in the vault - they should be safe there."
"And the demon?"
Osmond closed his eyes and was silent for a long moment.
And then he began snoring.
"Headmaster Osmond!" Colbert barked sharply.
"Hhhnn?!" the old mage jerked awake, startled. "Hmm! Ah, ahem. Yes. Keep it alive for now. I'll contact the church - I'm sure they'll want to take a look at it."
"Yes sir. I'll take care of it right away."
Osmond sat back in his chair as the younger mage left the room, closing the door behind him. He waited a minute after the man had left, then sent Chuchu, his mouse familiar, to check the hallway outside. Once certain that the coast was clear, and after giving Chuchu a small treat as a reward, he drew his wand and flicked it at the door, sealing it shut, then reached down into a desk drawer and withdrew an old, dusty tome, which he sat on the desk before him, opened, and read.
A few minutes later he sighed and placed the book back into his desk, reaching over to a crystal ball at the edge of the desk and setting it down before him, then tapped it twice with the tip of his wand and waited.
It was nearly a half hour and a close call with Miss Longueville later that the orb finally glowed in response. Osmond tapped it once more.
"Osmond, old friend!" came a voice from within the orb, "Contacting me like this, it must be a special occasion. What seems to be the trouble?"
"There's a daedra in the basement." he replied without preamble.
There was a long, shocked pause.
"...Are you certain?"
"Fairly. It's description and abilities most certainly match the old records, at any rate. It introduced itself as a Caitiff and servant of the Prince of Destruction."
"A Dremora." the voice breathed, then muttered low and indistinctly for a moment before returning. "Is it still alive?"
"For the moment. It slew several students and two teachers before it was apprehended, however."
"Founder guide their souls to Heaven for their sacrifice. But keep it alive! I'll be there as soon as I can. This is an immense opportunity for us."
"Yes." Osmond closed his eyes, hoping he wasn't making yet another entry in the long list of mistakes he'd made throughout his long lifetime. "I know."
Louise silently handed her wand over to Professor Colbert, who pocketed it, face expressionless. "Just... stay in your room for a little while, Miss Valliere. Just until we can sort things out."
Louise made no response.
Colbert patted her on the shoulder reassuringly. "I'll have some dinner sent up later. Try to get some rest."
Louise nodded silently, turning and walking over to her bed, sitting at the edge and staring out the window, her back to the door.
Colbert sighed, turning and leaving the room. Closing the door, he stepped back, nodding to the earth mage beside him.
The man looked dubious. "Should we really have sealed up the window as well?" he asked, "It's not like she knows how to fl-" he stopped, eyes widening as the older fire mage turned a baleful glare in his direction. "Er, I'll just get to work and go away then." he nodded, turning towards the wall and incanting as he raised his wand.
Louise reached over and grabbed a pillow as the stone wall around her doorway shifted, sliding over the door and door frame and sealing her into her room. Clutching the pillow to her chest, she fell over onto the bed, pressed her face into the mattress, and finally allowed herself to cry.