Chapter 3:

The Start of Something Beautiful

The Elder Scrolls Series is property of Bethesda. Familiar of Zero is (currently) property of Media Factory (I believe)



"Powerful (Dragon/Daedra/etc.) speech"


Line Break

Louise held her pillow tight against her chest, sniffing repeatedly, but refusing to shed a tear—she'd already broken her mother's 'Rule of Steel' just 10 minutes ago, she would not shame her family anymore.

Suddenly, there was a quick series of knocks on her door.

Louise grit her teeth, probably that damn Germanian tramp again; couldn't she take a hint!

The knocking returned, increasing in tempo.

Louise grit her teeth, "Go away!" she croaked, cursing the fact that she sounded so weak.

"Ah, you're awake then," a muffled voice that most decidedly not belong to Kirche Zerbst replied.

Louise rose from her bed, "W-Who are you?"

"My name is Johan Stormcrown. We met on the field earlier today."

Ah, Louise remembered him. She felt tears well up in her eyes at the reminder of her monumental failure, but a quick wipe from her sleeve erased those from existence. "What do you want?" she said in the most Noble voice she could muster.

"I wish to talk," Johan said, "Could you open the door?"

Louise scowled, not wishing to talk. But she knew it would be rude to just dismiss the older man when he came all this way—besides, it's not like she was going to sleep anytime soon. She quickly checked herself in her vanity mirror, scowling lightly at her red eyes—but she could just say that she'd been up late studying; no sense in letting this man know her shame.

Taking a calming breath, she opened the door, immediately finding herself face-to-face with a dull metal buckle. She tilted her head up, mildly awed at how tall this man was compared to her.

Immediately, the man frowned, "You've been crying," he bluntly stated.

Louise scowled.

"But, I suppose that is fair, given what's happened," he continued in a much softer tone.

Louise stilled, shame welling up in her soul; even some strange foreigner knew of her plight!

"In truth, I can't help but feel that I am somewhat at fault."

She blinked.

"I mean, had I not been there…well, things may have turned out differently."

"Yes, my life would not be over," she thought bitterly.

"So, in an effort to make amends, I offer myself as a teacher to you."

Louise, about to tell the man exactly where he could shove his pity, froze. "…What?"

She stayed rooted in place for about a minute. Slowly, she lifted her head, scrutinizing the man before her. He was old, she observed, perhaps as old as the Headmaster, and his wrinkly face set into a wide smile, eyes full of some…positive emotion.

Eventually, she scoffed, "It's…you don't need to take responsibility for anything, Monsieur. It is," she gulped, "my own fault."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I," she choked up a bit, "I am failure of a mage." She hated this, hated the truth, but she could deny it no longer, "I am a…Zero."

"Nonsense!" he emphasized the shout by pounding his staff—which Louise hadn't even noticed—onto the floor, "Would a 'Zero', as you call it, be able to summon a dragon—and man—through a magic portal?"

She scowled, looking down at her feet.

"Furthermore," Johan grabbed her chin, forcibly tilting her head up. She sucked in a breath, startled by the different, harsher gleam in his eyes, "I have been alive for many a year, experienced many things. And I can confidently say that I recognize talent when I see it."

Louise stepped back, "You, Monsieur, are delusional."

Johan merely smirked, resting his staff on his shoulder, "Delusional, huh? Tell me," he leaned forward, "If someone with no magical power were to attempt a spell, what would happen?"

Louise thought back on the history lessons of mad Commoners trying to cast spells they'd observed their master's perform. She pursed her lips, "Nothing…nothing would happen. The spell would fail."

Johan hummed, "And tell me, mah lahzey," her eyes twitched at the foreign words, "What happens when you," he pointed his staff at her chest, "cast a spell?"

"I-It fails."

Johan scowled, roughly poking her shoulder with the tip of his staff, "Specifically."

Louise cried out, rubbing her shoulder, "How dare—"

"Answer the question," he said, glaring down at her.

There was something in his eyes that sent a shiver down her spine; it reminded her of her mother, to be honest.

Louise gulped, "I-I-I I cause explosions", she eventually stammered out.

Johan's dark mood immediately dispelled, a wide smile and twinkling eyes replacing it, "Now tell me, does that sound like something someone with no potential could do?"

"No," Louise admitted.

"Therefore…" he trailed off, gesturing for her to finish the thought.

"Therefore," Louise froze, "I have…the capacity to perform magic."

Johan leaned back, resting both hands on his staff, "There we are," he said under his breath.

Louise bit back a laugh; it seemed so simple in hindsight. "S-So what? Every spell I perform still fails! No one can help me with that."

"Correction, no one has."

Louise didn't understand the distinction.

Johan frowned, "Frankly speaking, mah lahzey," that same phrase, she hoped it wasn't an insult, "the fact that you have floundered about as long as you have paints this academy's faculty in a very negative light."

Louise's nostrils flared, "The professors of the Tristain Academy of Magic are among the most talented mages in their fields!"

"And yet, none of them have offered you any assistance."

Louise's cheeks heated up, "They all gave up after getting caught in my explosions."

"Well, that's even worse," Johan's voice took on an even darker tone than before. "For a teacher to give up on a student," he growled lowly, and suddenly Louise was reminded of the dragon that crushed her dreams.

He then shook his head, staring down at her, "Regardless," his voice returned to its previous timbre "Louise, you have my word that, should you accept my offer, I will not rest until you can call yourself a mage."

Louise wanted to scoff, to call this man a loon and slam the door in his face. But, there was something in his eyes, in his voice, that made her believe that he was speaking the truth. That he truly would devote all his time and energy into turning her into a mage.

She licked her lips, "Why? Why offer to help me? It cannot simply be because you feel some strange sense of responsibility for an action you, truthfully speaking, had no control over?"

Johan hummed, rubbing his beard, "Well, in truth, I am very far from home, and am in the middle of drafting a safe passage there. Honestly, helping you is just something to pass the time."

Louise didn't know if she should be insulted by his blunt answer, or thankful that he wanted to spend the time helping her.

"Also, I used to be a teacher myself, for a time, at least."

Louise stared at this foreign hermit before her, "Truly?"

Johan chuckled, "Yes, before I sequestered myself in the mountains I taught a number of people a wide variety of skills, magic chief among them. And, honestly," he pointed his staff at her, "you are not even among the top five of my 'Most Hopeless Students' list."

The idea that there were people out there worse than her lifted Louise's spirits more than she'd like to admit.

"I suppose you could also call it a matter of pride. The chance to prove these fools wrong by teaching the unteachable?" His smile shifted, becoming a tad darker, "Why, that's too grand an opportunity to pass up."

Louise suppressed a sigh; she knew no one could be that altruistic. But, to be fair, who didn't like the opportunity to show another person up? She'd certainly dreamed of it long enough.

He sighed, catching Louise's attention once more, "However, there is one thing you should know before you accept—if you will, that is."

Louise frowned, "What?"

"The dragon that you summoned, the one that ran away." Louise's brow furrowed slightly, "His name is Odahviing, and I'm going to take you to him."

Louise briefly wondered why a wild beast had a name, before focusing on the last part of the sentence.

She stepped back, eyes widening in shock, "W-What! Why?"

Johan hummed, "You are being expelled because you…allowed,"
Louise could have sworn he smirked at her, "Odahviing to flee. Therefore, I can see no final lesson plan more fitting than beating him down and subjugating him to your will."

Louise stared wide-eyed at the foreigner before her. "Insane," she muttered, "You're actually insane."

Johan smirked, "Just, think about. I'm not leaving until ten."

Louise nodded absent-mindedly.

Johan grunted, "Then, I await your answer. And know, even if you decline, I wish you the best in life."

He left after that, leaving Louise to ponder her choices.

Line Break

Beatrice frowned at the sign tied to the Library doors. 'Closed,' it read. Very curious.


She turned at the sound, frowning at the sight of an elderly Commoner, carrying a mop and bucket, hobbling her way.

"You!" she called out, pointing at the man, "Come here!"

The man nodded, continuing at the same pace.

Beatrice grit her teeth, "Now!" she commanded.

The man shambled faster, stopping just a few feet in front of her, water sloshing dangerously close to her shoes.

Beatrice stepped back, hissing, "Watch it, you oaf!"

The man's eyes widened, and he bowed his head, "Apologies, Mademoiselle."

Beatrice scoffed, "Whatever." She jerked her head at the sign, "What it the meaning of this?"

The Commoner frowned, slowly turning his head towards the sign. Then, a moment of clarity—which Beatrice didn't think possible for a man like him. "Ah, yes," he coughed into his hands, "Just this morning a professor found evidence of students…having relations, within the library."

At that, Beatrice rolled her eyes—either Guiche or Kirche. She turned on her heel with a huff, "Very well. Just get it clean, oaf. I've items things I must get done by the day's end."

She pinched the bridge of her nose; now what was she supposed to do? A cruel smirk wormed its way onto her face—Tiffania should still be in her room at this time.

Johan sniffed as the young brat walked away, "Rude little thing," he muttered.

He reached into the uneven pocket of the clothes he'd appropriated, pulling out a ring of keys that he'd also appropriated.

He quickly entered the library, dropping the mop and bucket haphazardly, locking the door behind him.

He heaved a great sigh as he took in the sight of the dozens of bookshelves, each one filled to the brim with books.

"LAAS YAH NIR," he harshly whispered, grunting when nothing came into view.

Gathering up magicka, he aimed a few feet in front of him, a portal to Oblivion opening up after a moment.

A Dremora stepped through the portal; but unlike its brethren, this was not a beast of death and destruction. No, this Dremora wore mortal clothes, and had a much softer voice than most of its kin.

It sniffed the air, scrunching its face, "Where have you summoned me?"

Johan sighed heavily, "You don't know either, huh?"

"Well, I can certainly say this isn't a realm of Oblivion," it idly muttered.

He clicked his tongue, "I already knew that," he shook his head, "Regardless, I'm putting these books into storage."

The Dremora turned, eyeing the bookcases, "…Let me guess, all of them?"

Johan chuckled, walking past it, "You know me so well."

"I've only been bound to you for the better part of a century," it replied, bringing its hands together and forming a purple orb between them.

"While you're at it," Johan said, turning away from the rune he was drawing on the wall, "Set up the Quill of Gemination; I want two copies of every book."

"I live to serve," it sighed, quickly drawing its hands back, the orb expanding until it was triple the Dremora's size. Soon enough, the bookcases were surrounded by a purple glow, and slowly rose up and entered the portal, one-by-one.

Line Break

Johan hummed as he drew in the last bit of script for the rune on a wall directly outside the library. He nodded when he finished, waving his hand and making it disappear.

With that done, he walked towards the Academy gate, eyeing the various students milling about with their familiars.

There was such a wide variety to them. Some were ordinary; cats, dogs, birds. Other were far more fantastical; floating eyeballs, giant moles, giant lizards.


Johan jerked his head up, narrowing his eyes at the four-legged, light-blue dragon flying in the sky, a student riding on its back.

He suppressed the urge to growl; a dragon freely allowing a child to ride it, what utter nonsense! To make things worse, the dragon—according to servants' gossip—was only just summoned yesterday by the student, meaning that not even a day later it was following orders of some prepubescent brat. Cleary, this mockery of Dovah lacked self-respect!

He then blinked and shook his head, "When I get back, I'm going to spend some time away from dovah," he muttered.

He'd made it to the gate just a bit before ten. There was a large carriage—which, like the rest of the Academy, was looked fairly ornate—with but no one other than the horses in sight.

He gazed up towards the sun, the symbol of Auri-El, his father's elven aspect. He closed his eyes, letting out a long breath, "Akatosh, Shor, Talos, Kyne," he murmured reverently, "Grant me an easy journey through this strange land. If not, "he licked his lips, "Then I ask that Nocturnal keep the shadows strong, and that Sithis guide my blade."

He stayed there, silently praying to the Divines and Daedra who's favor he had, that were willing to give it, and (most importantly) that he wanted.

"Right this way, Mademoiselle," someone—a man—said after a time.

Johan cracked his eyes open, grunting as Louise came into view, along with a couple servant's carrying multiple suitcases and placing them on the carriage.

The young girl, however, ignored the carriage, stopping just in front of Johan.

She stared up at him, fire in her eyes, "…You swear that you can teach me how to use magic?"

Johan smiled, softly, "My dear, I stake my very soul on it."

Louise nodded resolutely, "Very well. I accept your offer."

Johan hummed, smile widening slightly, "All right then. First, is there a town nearby?"

Louise frowned, "Yes, an hour or two south of here."

"Excellent, that's our first stop."


Johan chuckled lightly, "Mah fahzey, the only thing I had on me when your portal sucked me through are the clothes on my back, staff, and what little odds and ends I have in-between. I need supplies." A small lie; he didn't needsupplies—he had an entire dimension full of various items he'd collected over the years. But he doubted that the young girl before him would be able to use any of it comfortably.

Louise blushed lightly, "O-Oh. Of course. I'll inform the driver."

Johan nodded, walking for the carriage, holding the door open for Louise to get in after she'd informed the driver of their destination.

Once more, a smile wormed its way onto his face; things were going to go well, he could tell.

Line Break

Osmond sighed as he leaned back, basking in the breeze that carried through his window. Rare were the moments that he could just relax; it was why he always looked forward to the customary day-off the academy took in honor of the newly formed student-familiar bonds.

Just then, Chuchu squeaked rapidly.

He looked down, cocking a brow at his familiar's rapid gestures. He looked down, and a toothy smile erupted on his face.

Just below him, a pair of maids were unfortunate enough to fall into a fountain; ah, how he loved this place!


An explosion rocked the Academy.

Osmond flailed his arms and legs, steadying himself. After a moment, he chuckled, one could always count on Mademoiselle Vallière to liven up the day.

It took another moment for him to realize that the young woman had just been expelled from the Academy, and had in fact, left a couple of hours ago.

Immediately, he grabbed his wand, all but shouting the incantation for flight, and leapt out his window. He followed a large pillar of smoke, noting that it came from the library.

He landed, pleased to see Professor Colbert and Mademoiselle Longueville already at the scene. "What happened?" he asked sternly.

Colbert turned quickly, his past military training easily showing, "Headmaster, it's…it's gone."

"What, Jean?"

He faltered, "The library. The books, they're all gone."

The color drained from Osmond's face, "I…I'm sorry?" he stammered, daring to believe that he'd heard wrong.

"It's true headmaster," Longueville gulped audibly, "E-Every book—all the bookcases, even—are gone!"

Osmond shook his head incredulously, "Who could have done this?"

"It had to have been Fouquet," Colbert immediately stated.

But Longueville shook her head, "Respectfully, Monsieur, I doubt it. Fouquet…steals high profile items, like," an odd look passed over her face, "like the items stored in the vault. This is most likely some idiotic prank pulled by some students. After all," she shrugged, "what's worth stealing from the library?"

Colbert nodded along with her reasoning, but Osmond could do naught but shake his head, "I'm afraid you are wrong, Mademoiselle, so, so very wrong."

"Headmaster?" the two asked hesitantly.

But Osmond run forward, waving his wand to dispel the smoke. When he entered the empty room, he flourished his wand, chanting a spell to dispel any illusion within.

But nothing changed.

"Headmaster Osmond," Colbert said, slowly walking forward, "What's wrong?"

"I…I…I need to contact the palace," Osmond finally said, despair heavy in his voice.

A/N: So, our heroes officially start their journey with a (delayed) bang. As always, be sure to leave a review. Later.


-MAH LAHZEY: Little Mage