I sat there, wondering where my familiar-to-be went. Was she crying to the Magus Woltman? Huddled in a corner? Part of me wanted to go looking for her, to let her know that it won't be as bad. I've heard stories, we've all seen the familiars on campus with their Magus. And some without, the ones granted agency and the ability to act almost independently. Even one adorable catgirl named Rayne, who, if the rumors were correct, used to be the First of his Class thanks to some underhanded tricks, before he went and challenged the wrong person. Apparently their battle was studied for almost three months.
I sat there, enjoying the sun, and then looked over as I see her walking towards me. I sat up, smiling. That didn't take long, and everyone was still gathered around, staring at the Centaur leaving sight.
Rolling my shoulders, I got ready for the most important duel of my life. "Time to make some magic", I told myself.
I made it to the outer edge of the circle before I looked up. Lara’lia Ciretha standing opposite.
I felt my adrenalin spike, reaching up to grasp the pendant beneath my blouse. My knuckles. They’re bleeding? Not much more than a light scratch. Must have hit Dewal’s jaw harder than I thought. Flexing my hand, a few drops formed.
Snapping my eyes up, I dropped my pack and faceed Lara’lia across the empty circle. Pausing to see if she’ll step in.
I can see her, and she looks pissed. Scared. But also pissed. This...I stamped down on any shred of feeling that I may have. It's this, or failure and familiar-hood for myself. There's no other option. Settling myself, I gave a duelers bow, hands wide, and then walked into the Circle, letting my part activate with my consent to this battle with Solona. Another preventative measure after Theron the Despicable won her match by having an accomplice knock her opponent unconscious and dump her body into the Circle.
"To the best magus go the spoils. May we battle well", I said softly as the students around me quieted down, all seeing another Duel about to take place. Money changed hands, and loud whispers as well, since this hadn't been a scheduled duel. No, this was an impromptu duel, which always made things interesting. But alot scarier, now that I was the one in the Circle.
I gave a sickly grin as she stepped in. No pausing, no planning, I marched into the circle.
The echo of the chime hasn’t settled as I burst into a mad dash directly toward Lara’lia.
Left arm held defensively. Step, cast <boost>. Picking up speed, I felt vitality spread. This feeling more a bonfire than the match from the earlier adrenaline. Sounds sharper, reflexes faster, but a drain on my mana. Slow, but there
Right arm raised in a fist. Step, cast <bleed>. Blood began streaming back along my arm, gathering.
I blinked as she walks in, not giving the bow or anything. Well, to be fair, I HAD sprung this one on her rather suddenly. The Ritual began with a chime, and I crouched down, ready to dodge. Unsure what a Healer could do, other then dodge and wear me down. Perhaps the mage-drain that Magus Anastasia had taught Precious, her familiar. Watching as she began to run towards me, moving faster, I snarled, and bent low. I didn't recognize any flickers of spells on her, or any energy being directed outwards. Stamping, I hurled a blast of concentrated wind at her torso while weaving my arm in a circle, flames expanding outwards towards her.
Still staying light on my feet, ready to dodge.
Diving into a forward roll to avoid the wind, that’d throw me off my stride. I’ve committed fully to this desperate half-baked idea. No choice.
Back on my feet I saw Lara’lia casting, gathering a ring of fire. I’ve dealt with burns before, but this is going to hurt.
Tucking my head low I raise my left arm in front of my face and continue racing froward. Step, cast <neuro-block> not on me or even directed to Lara’lia; no, I cast it along the ribbon of blood to the large globular blob at the back of my arm. The magical anesthetic I normally used to deaden pain in my patients would now be used differently.
Solona dove, avoiding the wind which i'd expected. That was why I'd made the fire, to keep her at bay while I followed up with another spell. But she didn't stop. She didn't stop, racing into the flames. What....oh hells. OH HELLS.
Scrambling, dropping the spell, I tried to weave to the side, avoiding whatever she was about to cast on me while raising a shield of air around me. Shit Shit Shit!!!!
She's never done any of these things in the past!!!
The flames dropped. I’m through, burnt, but through. But then slam into the wind barrier. Pushing. I don’t need to be completely through, just my right arm,
Stretching to get as close to Lara’lia as possible, I snapped my arm forward, launching the globule of blood forward on its tether. Going low she weaved out of its path. That’s when my secondary magic kicked in. Barely noted, written off as an unneeded sub-category of healing. An unnecessary thing to study. I cast <blood control>.
The globule changed trajectory mid-flight. Not a perfect hit, but I did manage to cover half her face and most of an eye.
I manage to duck out of the way of her punch, and then I saw something whizzing at me from the corner of my eye. Trusting in my shield to keep it away, I aimed another spell, this time a ground wave to push her away and give me some space.
And then something hit my face with a wet splat and immediately my face went numb. Panicking, I cast the spell and then frantically used my sleeve to wipe it away, trying not to inhale. I lost some time as I wiped my face, clearing it from my nostrils with a small exhale. Is that....is that BLOOD?!?! But my right eye was still acting funky, the lid not opening well. Fuck!! What did she do to me!?!?!?!
Circling, trying to make sure that my left side was turned towards her, I threw a ball of wind that exploded near her, hoping to knock her off balance. Still unable to see, and now it was affecting my aim. SHITY SHITY SHIT SHIT!!!!!!
Skipping forward when the wind barrier dropped, I still manage to keep my feet as the ground undulated. I love boosted reflexes.
I dove beneath the oncoming ball of wind toward Lara’lia. Swinging my right arm, I release the blood tether and snap it around her upper calf.
Rolling to my left, away from her, I regained my feet. The ground is red and my back is wet, must have been the explosion. I haven’t even noticed the pain.
Pulling my arm back, I gathered everything I can to my fist. There’s a lot! I can’t tell if my knees are shaking from boosted adrenaline or if I’m just bleeding that much.
I formed the blood into a blade at the end of my hand, and charge.
I blinked as Solona dove forward. Fuck!! she's never been this aggressive before. NEVER!!!! FUCK!!!! Or had skills like this!! That strangle cord wrapped around my right leg and suddenly everything from the calf down went numb. Suddenly hobbled I almost fell, but I managed to cast a small spell to keep me upright, a small push of air. Turning to face her, I can see she's already on her feet and charging towards me.
Is that....holy fuck that's a sword!!!!! What the hell kind of mage uses a sword!!!!!! Hopping back frantically and falling on my ass, using a small earth spell to cushion the blow, I threw both hands out, throwing another half-circle blast of wind and fire, hoping to give myself a moment to get a new game plan. This is it. I'm battling for my life here, and i knew it. Is she trying to kill me?!?!
More fire! Jumping through the flames, I stumbled to a landing as large clumps of burning hair rained down on Lara’lia. Staggering forward, I stabbed down through the upper thigh of her already partially numbed leg.
“No more running.”
I’m breathing heavily as I pulled the blade out. I start trying to stand and almost lose my balance. Not much longer on the boost. Need to finish this now!
Scrambling back as suddenly she jumped THROUGH the fire again. WHAT THE FUCK!!?!?!!?! DID SHE TAKE SOME DRUG!?!?!?!?!?! I manage another half step and then the sword went through my leg. I'm an Apprentice, pain is something that I was trained to ignore. But NOT pain like this, and I screamed, throwing a small firebolt that did nothing but sear an arm.
Moaning, I tried to push myself back, feeling weaker by the moment. "St...stop."
More damnable fire.
Aiming the blade downward, I put my weight behind it and fall on Lara’lia, pinning her to the ground. I release the blade, leaving her impaled, and crawled forward. I crammed my bloody fist in her mouth and cast <neuro-block>.
Gasping, I kneel up and look over Lara’lia.
Suddenly searing fire erupted in my stomach, and I scream as I look down. The SWORD!!! It's in ME!!!!! Screaming again, I realized that I can't move, or feel anything below the blade. Trying to cast one more spell, suddenly there's something in my mouth. It tasted like copper, like when i had a bloody nose. But is it mine? I cough it out, and realized that its mine. My blood.
I coughed again and then suddenly her hand is in my mouth, and I can't fucking talk. I CAN'T TALK OR SCREAM!!!! WHAT KIND OF MAGIC IS THIS!?!?!? Screaming soundlessly, I look up, panicked eyes looking at her. I've lost, and i knew it. My death is staring at me in the face, and I begged. Soundlessly, I begged.
I knew there's no way to survive. "Please...please don't kill me...please, let me stay me", i begged without sound, tears streaming from my eyes as the realization that I'm doomed hit me. "Please", I whispered, trying to gather the energy for one last spell.
I’ve got enough for one more. I think. I exerted control and tried to pull my blood back inside. Is it working? Swaying, I clamped down on Lara’lia with my left hand to keep the world from tilting.
Raising my bloody fist to my chest, I cast <general heal>. The bleeding stopped and the nerves healed. Pain! I felt numerous gashes scab over on my back. Part of my upper left arm is missing. Ash drifted down, formerly my clothes and hair. My entire body was charred.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her hand raise. The one with the bracelet. I stopped her the only way I can. I headbutt her nose. Her head fell back and I followed and hit her again, and again.
One arm grasping her bloody blouse, I reached out and grabbed her wrist. Its gone limp. She’s out.
I won? I Won! Laughing, trying to shout, barely managing a whisper, “She’s out.”
Collapsing the blood blade to liquid, I directed it to cover my wounds. I feel the magic of the Circle activate. Power surged into me, doubling, then tripling my mana pool, dramatically increasing what I was able to do.
I screamed without sound as she stopped me, grabbing my hand. She looked like something out of a nightmare, flaking skin falling off to reveal hale skin underneath, hair growing back. Not that I care, since she's stopped the one thing that I had left. She stopped my last spell, a message spell to my siblings to say goodbye. A brilliant explosion of pain in my face drove all thought from my head, and then again, and I'm falling. Then there's a snapp and suddenly I'm wide awake, aware of every single thing. The gaping hole in my guts, the lack of feeling in my legs.
And then suddenly there's pain beyond ANY of that, and the ultimate horror. I felt it, the spell, the Ritual. Crawling over me, working its way into my mind. Beginning to twist everything that I am, tainting me. Turning me into something that I'm not. A Familiar. I screamed again, sound returned, the magic letting me do that as my hands flew up to hold my head, pain overwhelming me.
I can speak again!! I looked up at Her, panic and fear on my face. "Please...please....don't...." as pain stole my vision, eyes turning into pools of purple fire as the spell began to rewrite who I am. Searching Solona's mind for what She wanted, and making me into that. The perfect familiar. And She could do it over and over, for as long as She lived. I could feel it, magical claws scrabbling over my mind, ripping and tearing and changing things. "Please...I'm scared...please....So...solona...please...mercy", I begged as a wave of nausea made me fall over, an impressive feat since I was already on the floor. "Please."
Then I jerked as another wave of pain stole my voice and I shrieked in agony, suddenly feeling very very different.