Friday, November 20, 2015

Fine Print


Sept. 27, 2015

(NOTE: This wasn't technically a writing prompt, but a discussion on the /r/rpg forum. But it did prompt me to write, so here you go).

It stood there, twenty feet tall - slaver and dark ichor dripping from its serrated teeth. Leathery wings brushed the vaulted ceiling and every time it exhaled, noxious lavender fumes plumed through the air. It fixed its strange gaze on the mage, who was still clutching the thick tome of summoning and then sighed.

"Do you have your permit?" asked the beast, its voice grating like bending metal.

The mage, a young elf who had just counted his first century, didn't reply. Instead he dropped the book and jumped clapping his hands together.

"I did it! I bound a fifth level apparition! Youngest in my class!"

The gargantuan creature placed its razor sharp talons gently on its face and stifled a groan. Then with its free claw, traced a glyph in the air.

"Dispatch," said a disembodied female voice, sounding annoyed. She was audibly chewing gum.

"Hi Shirley," said the creature. "Could you send Les to my twenty?"

The mage stopped reveling.

"Who are you talking to? I didn't give you leave to speak, animal!" he said. He bent to pick up the book flipping through the pages, with a sullen frown.

"Is that you, Bix?" said the voice. "Isn't this the third time this week? You should talk to the Magus. Les is en route."

"Who is that?" muttered the mage. "Who's Les? I demand you tell me, fiend!"

The demon sat down in the summoning circle, smudging some of the runes and causing minor conflagrations. Where it sat, bricks cracked and shuddered and it finally fixed its red-black gaze on the tiny mage-boy.

"I'm going to take a nap, child. You'll meet Les soon enough," it said. "Wake me at your peril."

Then it wrapped it's wrings over its head, and with a move that would have been cute had the demon been a puppy, it snuggled into the floor and went sleep. And its snores sounded only a little like a broken sawmill clogged with dead bodies.

The mage stared at the slumbering demon and opened his mouth, but a rare thread of common sense wiggled into his brain stifled his outburst and he turned his attention back to his book. Under the page with the demon's name, (a name that stretched the length of both pages), was the description for the summoning. He had missed the asterisk.Close reading hadn't ever been his forte, and he had good spell components riding on the successful completion of a level five binding. He read the footnote:

These sage beings are under the austere protection of the Council of Bund. Anyone attempting to summon from this plane any of these noble beasts must have obtained, in advance, permissions in full by the Three Shadowed Chair-beings of Bund, sealed and witnessed at the Dust Grove by no fewer than two (2) ranking clerks. Any who fail to do this will be subject to full prosecution and binding with punishments up to three (3) years of magickless living.

There was a knock on the door. And without waiting for an answer the door opened. A woman, hardly more than four feet tall stood in the yawning portal, wearing the plain gray uniform of the Iron Ring. Her mouse-brown hair was pulled back into a tight bun, and she was wearing standard-issue glamour-resistant eye-wear.

She looked around, taking in the snoozing demon and the mage reading the book.

"Are you Maester Twill?" she asked.

"Look, there's been a mistake," he said.

"I need you to drop the book and step away from the summon," she said.

"Hey, I know my rights! I want my inter-dimensional advocate!" he cried, his voice becoming shrill.
Les stepped into the room, reaching behind her to unhook the manacles from her belt.

"Come over here, sir. No need for this to get stressful. You'll be coming with me one way or the other," she said. Her voice was cold, and rather bored.

"You have no idea who I am!" he said, and he drew on her - his wizard rod was already glowing and a beam of white-hot energy shot through the air, followed by a nearly deafening sonic clap. The smell of ozone filled the air, and the smoke cleared to reveal the mage prone on the floor. The stones were blackened with soot, and his robes smoldered. A ring of undamaged cobbles surrounded Les, and she shook her head.

The demon lowered one of his wings, taking in the scene with one red-black eye. A horrible noise, like squelching mud and forks on chalkboards indicated Bix was laughing softly.

"What are they teaching them these days?" rumbled the creature.

"Beats me, Bix," said Les as she stepped over to the smoking mage. She quickly clapped the cold iron shackles on his wrists and was sure to beat out and of the still glowing embers. She picked up the wizard rod, looking at the blackened twisted mess it had become. "We don't keep the Repulsion Vests a secret, but you'd think they come from the Whisper Order based on how these college kids act. You able to disapparate now?"

"Oh, he bungled the runes so badly I could have eaten him and left before he finished the incantation," said the demon. "But I wanted to stay Material-side and watch you work. I also thought maybe you'd want to grab a coffee?"

Something that might have been a blush crept up Les's neck.

"Sure, Bix. That sounds nice."

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