Familiar From the Stars
I hope you all enjoy this chapter. I'm sorry for making all of you wait, for this chapter. I hope this one lives up to your expectations.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
As Z and Louise waited for the judges to finish evaluating the performances for the Familiar Exhibition, Z thought about how his student's progress was steadily growing. She had only been practicing the arts for about a month, but was already nearing the point where most Padawans would take the tests to see if they could become Knights. However, Z was a stern teacher (though he'd never actually had a student before) and he wasn't about to let Louise know about the test and have that knowledge influence the outcome. Thus he would subtly guide his student into situations that would test her in those ways and evaluate the outcome. One such test had already been passed with flying colors. But for now, they should focus on the outcome of the contest.
"How do you think we did?" Z asked Louise.
"I'm not sure," said Louise, "we did well, but Tabitha's performance was hard to beat."
"She had a dragon," protested Z, "you had me!"
"Her routine was pretty impressive," said Louise, "it might be a toss up."
Z just chuckled at that, but suddenly stopped and looked around.
"What is it?" asked Louise.
"I feel a disturbance in the Force," said Z.
"Wait," said Louise as she closed her eyes, "I think I feel it too. It's like a light vibration coursing through the earth."
"No," said Z wryly as he glanced behind them, "that would be due to the giant stone creature behind us."
Louise jumped and spun around to see that, yes, there was a giant stone golem marching toward the castle. As it neared, it raised a massive fist and began to pound at the walls, but the enchanted stone and mortar held firm.
"What is that thing doing?" exclaimed Z.
"It's attacking the walls of the great vault," said Louise, "we need to stop it!"
"How's your aim?" asked Z as he jumped to his feet and faced the giant.
"Let's find out," said Louise as she drew her wand and pointed it at the golem.
"I can see someone riding on it," said Z, "aim for the rider!"
"Got it," said Louise as she tried to focus on the small figure, "Fireball!"
Unfortunately, Louise's accuracy wasn't quite adequate enough to hit such a small target from that great a distance, so her spell didn't hit her target. Fortunately though, there was a much larger target to hit instead. The intended fire spell wasn't the ball of flames that she intended, but it did clip the shoulder of the giant golem, erupting in a large explosion that tore a chunk of stone out of the golem's arm, while also blowing a hole in the reinforced stone that the golem had been unable to breach. The figure on the golem leapt through the hole and emerged with a locked box, before commanding the golem to attack Z and Louise.
Louise was shocked and couldn't move as the golem swung its massive stone fist toward her. She had never faced death before and as it moved closer, she felt her mind freeze as it approached. Suddenly though, the fist was stopped cold and the giant seemed to be struggling to get it to move again.
"Wh-what?" exclaimed Louise in shock.
Turning she saw Z standing by her side with an arm extended and signs of strain evident on his face.
"How?" she asked.
"One important lesson in using the Force, is that size matters not," said Z as he held back the giant golem, "with a strong enough mind, one can literally move mountains. Stopping a boulder is nothing."
Z grimaced as the golem tried to punch with its other fist and he had to raise another hand to stop the fist with another Force Grip, pushing his willpower into holding the behemoth back.
"That being said," he ground out, "I'm not really on that level yet so holding back this thing isn't that easy. Louise, a large explosion to the thing's torso would be helpful."
Louise nodded and quickly chanted a spell, but due to her haste and panic, she missed her target, blowing a chip off the golem's shoulder.
"Calm yourself!" grunted Z as he continued to hold back the golem, "Breathe and relax. Focus on your target."
Louise closed her eyes and took a deep breath before aiming her wand a second time and chanting the spell, "Fireball!"
This time Louise's attack was spot on target and an explosion ripped through the golem's torso, allowing Z to finish the job using the force grip he had on the arms, reducing the stone behemoth to rubble as he ripped it apart.
"Kriff, that was hard," sighed Z, "did you see what the rider was after?"
"No I didn't," said Louise, "but he came from the location of the Vaults. We have to tell Headmaster Osmond."
"No need, Miss Vallière," said Colbert as he and the staff ran up, "we saw what happened and will need you to come with us."
"Is something wrong?" asked Louise, "Is this about the golem?"
Colbert nodded, "The headmaster wishes to speak to you and your Familiar about that."
Louise glanced at Z and got a nod in response, so the pair followed the staff to Osmond's office, both wondering what exactly was going on.
"Miss Vallière," said Osmond as the Master/Familiar and his Padawan/Master walked into the room, "Mister Z. There are some things that I would like to discus with you two."
"And what would that be, sir?" asked Louise.
"During the attack," said Osmond, "your Familiar displayed a strange power when he held back the golem, and your spell was powerful enough to smash through stone protected by square class enchantments."
"Why was such enchantments necessary?" asked Z, "What was it you were keeping hidden?"
Osmond closed his eyes in remembrance as he steepled his fingers on his desk before regarding Z with a strange look, "Many years ago, when I was still a young man, I was venturing out in the wilds when I was attacked by a fearsome dragon. My staff was knocked from my hand and I thought I was finished when the beast was blasted back by an invisible force. Turning around, I saw a cloaked figure running up with a crossbow that fired bolts of light that pierced the dragon. The figure ran up and checked on me, but was unable to dodge the beast's tail, which struck him fatally. As he died he gave me a strange cube, telling me to pass it on to the one who could open it. I had our best minds study both items, but they could only make progress on the crossbow, crafting our weapons in its image."
"Wait," said Louise, "then that bow was the mythical Bow of Light? And it was hidden here?"
"Bow of Light?" asked Z.
"It's a magical artifact that all of the crossbows and guns that the soldiers use were designed after," said Louise.
"And it seems the thief has stolen both that and the cube," said Osmond.
"Do you know who the thief is?" asked Z.
"Indeed," said Colbert as he stepped forward, "the work was done by the notorious thief known as Fouquet the Crumbling Dirt. This theft matches his style, right down to his calling card."
"So how do we find the thief," asked Z.
Osmond was about to answer but was interrupted buy a woman with dark green hair wearing the staff cloak as she ran into the room.
"Headmaster," she said, "I apologize for my tardiness, but I was able to track Fouquet back to his current hideout and gain a rough sketch of his likeness."
"Excellent," said Osmond, "do show us, Ms. Longville."
The teacher nodded and pulled out a parchment that had the likeness of the hooded figure Z and Louise had faced drawn upon it.
"That's him," said Louise, "that's Fouquet."
As Louise and the staff talked about the thief and his location, Z glanced at Longville with a curious gaze. Where exactly had she been, and how did she get such a detailed and accurate picture of the thief without being discovered? There was something not right about this woman, but the Shi'ido knew he would need more evidence before he made any accusations. As Z noted that Louise volunteered the two of them to hunt down the thief, he noticed that Longville volunteered to take them to Fouquet, as if she knew he would still be where she traced him to. Following Louise as they left to get ready to depart, Z noted to keep a close eye on their guide.