Ritual of the Familiar

by TsukiNoNeko

Tags: #cw:noncon #brainwashing #D/s #dubious_consent #f/f #fantasy #hurt/comfort #dom:female #humiliation #magic #objectification #ownership_dynamics #ritual_of_the_familiar #sadomasochism #sub:female
See spoiler tags : #pov:bottom #transformation

Students at the Sinslar Graduate Academy of Magic need to win a single duel to be eligible for graduation, but they stand to lose far more than an education.

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CW: This story takes its hurt/comfort very seriously.

Zarah shot off another fire bolt and managed to barely sidestep the blast of ice that came in return, but at this point it was undeniable. She was losing. She let out a grunt of frustration as Candace, her rival and the top of their class at the Sinslar Graduate Academy of Magic, caught the fire bolt and used the elemental energy to turn the animus spell she was retaliating with into a fire spitting phoenix. Just like all of Candace’s magic it was dazzling, or would have been were that phoenix not about to torch her.

Zarah swore and darted to her right, casting as she ran and creating a wall of mist behind her that would neutralize the chasing phoenix. She threw a lightning bolt and let herself feel just a moment of relief when the phoenix evaporated. A few steps further and Zarah would have hit the edge of the giant ritual circle that marked the arena of her and Candace’s duel. Stepping too far off would be counted as a forfeit, and the circle would automatically activate the Ritual of the Familiar inscribed within it. Losing her mind and her magic and becoming Candace’s familiar because she set her foot wrong would be the only thing more horrifying than losing the regular way.

Zarah briefly managed to stabilize, and summoned a lightning storm that actually seemed to temporarily catch Candace off guard.  She tried following her success with a magma geyser, but watched helplessly as Candace shifted her left foot, pivoted on her right, and threw down an angular energy shield just barely strong enough to redirect the flow out of the circle so she could continue to use most of her strength holding back the lightning. It was infuriating; graceful; elegant. Just like Candace.

There was a loud screech as one of the wards put up by the spectators failed to the redirected geyser, and some of the molten rock splashed into the audience.

Zarah internally cursed the gawkers. Students past their second year were required to accept challenge requests from classmates within two days, and because the Ritual of the Familiar took up a lot of space, the resulting duels were difficult to keep private. Some were hardly even duels, either because both sides recognized that one mage had no chance of winning, or in rarer cases because the participants had agreed to go this route ahead of time and the duel was merely a formality. 

In those cases, the soon-Familiar would generally put down their wand and kneel in the middle of the circle. Their owner-to-be would cast some kind of energy drain to draw out their soon-Familiar’s magical energy, and once it was taken the ritual would take hold. Even then, the large audience that inevitably gathered wouldn’t be disappointed. It was a life changing moment for two people, and more importantly an adjustment to both the class rankings and the social ladder.

Zarah pivoted past a set of light beams that would have locked up her muscles, and retaliated with a shower of icicles lobbed over Candace’s forward energy shield.

An actual duel like this one was a much more common and much more difficult affair. The stronger the Apprentice, the stronger the eventual Familiar, which incentivized students to challenge people close to, but not quite equal to their own strength. It encouraged a certain level of risk taking, and while the underdog winning wasn’t exactly common–the stakes strongly encouraged not-too-much risk taking–it was a possibility, and a chance no sane Apprentice would not fight for with every last bit of their will.

But that wasn’t always enough, something absolutely apparent to Zarah as she took a deliberate hit to the shoulder to buy the time needed to counter charm the minor curse that Candace had somehow managed to cast with her off hand. She was falling further behind.

The sudden slow wall in front of Zarah almost cost her the duel, but she managed to fire spray through it at the last second, then pivot to her left to dodge the follow up gravity well Candace often sent after it when she was sparring in combat class. Even with Zarah’s instinctive wielding of magic, the situation was starting to feel overwhelming. She was still running at a clear energy deficit to Candace, whose seemingly endless flexibility with charms and energy manipulation had managed to keep up with Zarah’s advantage in brute elemental strength while still being more efficient. 

The one two punch would leave a momentary opening, though, and Zarah decided to try and push through with overwhelming might. If she knocked Candace out, the energy deficit wouldn’t matter. She had one big trick left in her bag, and she pulled it out now, rotating the incantation in her mind, moving her off hand in tandem with her casting wand, and summoning a small volcano right underneath Candace– 

–who managed to cast a weight reduction charm, place individual shields beneath her feet, then dance across the top of the rocks of the initial explosion to land gracefully on the other side of the ring, like some kind of dark angel. The audience’s shield held this time. The walls of the courtyard they were dueling in had their own protection.

With the possibility of defeat closing in on her, Zarah considered if she could have–should have–avoided having this duel in the first place. Once an Apprentice won a duel and obtained a Familiar they earned the title of Magus, and could no longer be challenged. After all, becoming a Familiar was a one-way process, costing the former Apprentice their free will, their ability to use magic, and their existence as an independent being. If a Familiar’s bonded Magus could become a Familiar themselves it would lead to all sorts of complications.

Zarah wasn’t sure if those issues lead to limitations in the ritual, or if the ritual had been designed with limitations to avoid those issues. Either way it didn’t help her now since, despite Candace hinting weeks ago that she had her eye on her, Zarah was still an Apprentice. It had seemed almost flirty at the time, an acknowledgement that Zarah had managed to separate from the pack and become a clear second in their year. And Zarah hadn’t thought about anything besides studying and training to become first. At least that’s what she told herself–there was a far less comforting explanation for why Zarah hadn’t taken on a Familiar herself. 

Another pivot, a quick duck, and another fireball. Still a deficit, and they were both getting closer to the end of their mana reserves. Not a lot of time to change course. 

On dark nights, alone in her bunk, there was something… fascinating… about the possibility of being her talented rival’s pet. Something… gripping… about falling so so far, all to someone she had spent the last two years of her life trying to match. All that effort, all that struggle, wiped away and made meaningless in a single glorious instant. Would Candace change her appearance? Would she open her mind and read all her thoughts, letting Zarah only keep the ones that pleased her? Would she let her think at all? Magus/Familiar relations often became sexual: would Candace take those perfectly manicured fingers and apply them to Zarah’s then-permanently-wet slit? Or would she remove Zarah’s ability to cum at all, and leave her a needy, servile mess? She’d touched herself to the forbidden fantasy more than once.

But no, now that the possibility was so close Zarah just felt fear. Even in her darkest fantasies, she chose how things turned out, she chose what submission would mean, what Candace would let her keep and what she would take away, she remained in control, and that was not at all how the reality of being a Familiar worked. It was singular, it was absolute. And it wasn’t for Zarah. She had dreams, things she wanted to accomplish, an impact she wanted to make on the world. She’d fought too hard to get here, to overcome upbringing and privilege and make it all the way to the number two spot.

So she kept fighting. 

Another lightning bolt, an ice wall to block an animus, then a blind shot with a magma geyser to where she thought Candace would be. But it was getting harder to cast. A trip charm came at her, and Zarah had to catch herself in a stumble because she didn’t have the spare strength to block it. Another ice wall, but this time too thin, so an echo of the hawk animus made it through and slammed into her chest. Suddenly Candace was on her left, wand tracing the incantation for a gravity well. Zarah made the hand sign for the wind blast that would set it off course–

–and came up empty.

“NO!!!” It couldn’t be happening. It just– it just– it was happening.

Zarah fell to her knees as she ran out of magical strength, the rapidly dissipating gravity well helping her along. The Ritual of the Familiar sensed her loss immediately, and a pressure unlike anything she’d ever known began pushing on the barriers of her mind. It would have been difficult to fend off on a good day, but it was impossible after losing a magical duel. Still, the part of her that was a fighter, that hadn’t yet come to terms with what was now inevitable, tried one last push of resistance. She threw up a mental barrier, not the expansive, magical kind that would surround her mind like a forcefield, but a last, desperate shell of a talented mage about to be stripped of their magic forever. It came from the core of her being, powered entirely by the force of her will. It was all she had left. 

The ritual responded as it was designed–with twice as much force.

Zarah fell forward and leaned on jittering hands as the pressure became overwhelming. She was a powerful mage, and even her last gasps of resistance were more than many others could muster on their best day, but the ritual was ancient.

Zarah fell onto her elbows and screamed as her mental barrier collapsed.

She could– she could feel the ritual pushing into her head, like roots pushing through cracks in the concrete. It was probing, finding her weaknesses and surrounding her strengths, wrapping itself into her mind. It hurt oh god it hurt. Zarah began to shiver.

Suddenly there was a hand on her back. She managed to briefly focus and regained enough awareness of her surroundings to realize it was Candace, coming to collect her prize.

Despite that, the hands now on each side of her rib cage were gentle. If Zarah hadn’t been in the process of being enslaved she might have blushed, especially when those hands lifted her up and dragged her sideways into Candace’s lap.

Instead she jerked inwards as another burst of pain radiated from her skull, this time going all the way down her spine. She hugged herself, tried to make herself small, tried to hide from what was happening. She pulled away, but gentle hands slowly unwound Zarah’s clenched up form. Once they had her leaning more openly against her former classmate's body, one of them curled around the back of her head and ever-so-carefully pulled it into Candace’s chest.

“Shhhh,” she murmured into her ear. “It’s ok, I’ve got you now.”

Zarah whimpered. The physical pain was starting to become normal. It hadn’t exactly lessened, but becoming a mage was no cake walk and everyone who made it past the first year of the academy had a high pain tolerance. But she knew this ritual, and if the physical shocks were ending, it meant the mental changes were about to begin.

Zarah clutched at Candace’s chest, one of her hands grabbing onto Candace’s blazer.

“Please.” Zarah’s voice was a ragged whisper. “I’m so scared.”

“It’s ok.” Candace repeated, her hand stroking Zarah’s hair. “I’m going to take such good care of you.”

Zarah whimpered. The words already seemed… brighter somehow. Like they resonated within her, the same way an incantation resonated in the fabric of the universe.

“It’s ok,” she repeated again, “it’s going to be over soon. You don’t have to fight anymore.”

There was a lurch, and Zarah briefly felt a wave of nausea. The ritual was fully in her head, then. It would key in on Candace’s desires now, and start changing Zarah to better suit her new owner. She let out a pained gasp as something zapped down her spine and instinctively clutched Candace tighter. Things were getting woozy, bits of her vision going blurry as the magic wormed its way through her brain.

“There we go.” Candace’s whispers were an anchor, guiding her through the chaos of her melting mind. “You know, I’ve always admired your determination. How hard you’ve worked. All that brilliance and focus and aptitude for magic. I’m so proud to call you mine.”

The approval in Candace’s words was like rain to the newfound fertile neediness in Zarah’s soul. Zarah realized she was crying. Something inside her mind shifted, and whatever pride had kept her from futilely begging was gone, while another part of her recognized she might soon not be able to. This was her last chance to implore Candace for mercy, to influence the wishes the ritual was conforming her to this very moment, and tethering her to for the rest of her life.

“Pleasepleaseplease,” Zarah plead, raising her head from Candace’s chest, trying and failing to make eye contact, ”do whatever you like. Hurt me, humiliate me, loan me out to every guy in the school. Just please, pleaseplease don’t erase me.” 

Candace’s right hand tightened its grip on Zarah’s side, the only thing betraying the other girl’s tension, then it relaxed and her left hand pushed Zarah’s head back into her chest. She placed a gentle kiss on Zarah’s forehead.

“Shhhh, you're precious to me, little kitten,” she whispered, “I’m not going to erase you, ok? At least not completely. And either way, it’s not really up to you anymore, is it?”

Zarah shuddered at that, but there was nothing she could do except nod as tears continued to flow. Her vision continued to blur, and her sense of balance started to sway rapidly, and Zarah found that all she could do was adjust herself so her arms went around Candace’s back. That caused Candace to lose her balance for a moment and take one arm off of Zarah to prop herself up.

“Here, let's move to the side of the yard.” Zarah tried to get up, or at least crawl, but her limbs weren’t working properly, and she let out a mirthless laugh through her tears as Candace pulled them both to the wall. She left Zarah there for a moment to gather their wands and the bags they’d left on the other side of the circle, near the far wall. Zarah felt suddenly cold and bereft, and felt her soul screaming to get back near Ca-her Master, as fast as she possibly could.

Her Master came back over, a self satisfied smile flashing across her face at the expression of pure need that Zarah must have been sending her way.

She might have been annoyed by that smile an hour ago but now it filled her with a blissful kind of warmth. Her Master was happy about something and that meant that Zarah was happy. Her master slid down against the wall and pulled Zarah fully into her lap this time.

Zarah suddenly realized she'd become physically smaller. It seemed her owner liked a height difference. At least it made it easier to find comfort in her lap.

“Don’t get the wrong idea, little kitten.” Her Owner had the most beautiful voice. “I will change you. Cut away the broken bits, the callouses from years of fighting the universe, the little insecurities and the big resistances. And it’s not just going to be me, you’re going to help me. Today is just the start.”

She rubbed small circles down her back, and Zarah realized the feeling of her Owner’s touch was more intense than it used to be. Zarah briefly wondered what that touch would feel like in other places and was shocked to realize that whatever transformation her Owner had imposed on her it was making her horny. There was a heat growing between her legs, and Zarah knew in her bones that only her Master would be able to give her relief. kitten went beet red at the realization and tried to bury her face deeper in her Owner’s chest.

Her Owner seemed to recognize her feelings, her own end of the Magus-Familiar connection coming into focus in a decidedly less painful way. 

“It’s ok, I’m here.” Every time her Owner said it, it seemed to gain more power and meaning.  “You’re going to burn for me a bit. I want to see one of Sinslar’s finest driven near senseless with need.” 

A gentle tap on her nose made everything better and worse. “And you’re going to use all of that determination, when I let you have it, to try and control that need. Whether it’s going to be just barely enough or just barely too little I haven’t decided yet.” That comment only made the heat between her legs worse.

Suddenly, the dumb bliss washed away again, as a renewed wave of pain and nausea wiped through her skull. She instinctively curled into Candace to weather the storm. As it coursed through her, it passed over the place where she usually felt her magic, and a moment later Zarah was horrified to find that it was gone. No– not quite gone, just inaccessible to her, like a deep well she could only watch through a fence. Zarah let out a renewed sob, and started bawling again.

“Shhhh,” Master shushed her again, and this time Zarah realized she wouldn’t be able to open her mouth without permission again. “I know, I know, it's so hard. It's ok, let out all your tears. Your job isn’t to be strong anymore, it’s to support me so I can be strong for the both of us.”

Her Master put on a thoughtful expression. “Hmmmm, maybe I’ll let you be smart sometimes, and help me with my research. You’d like that, my little black cat, wouldn’t you?”

Zarah perked up at that, a glimmer of hope in the midst of so much despair. The eroticism definitely matched her darkest fantasies, but the idea of never interacting with magic again cut her to the bone.

“Please!” She tried to convey her longing to her Owner, to offer it up with everything else. “So much. Please.” 

Her Owner chuckled.

“Alright little pet.” Her tone was placating, belittling, and Zarah found herself comforted by it. 

The hint of mercy, together with the obvious care that her new Owner had shown, made it a little bit easier for her to accept that this was happening, that despite being the second best in the class she was going to spend the rest of her life in service to the best. That some deep part of her, possibly not even placed there by her Owner, liked this. That there was peace in submission. Something clicked in her brain, and she felt herself surrender. Her body relaxed into her Master’s arms, and the physical pain that began when she lost the duel finally faded.

“Thankyouthankyouthankyou.” She still felt unable to meet her Master’s eyes, but tried to demonstrate her gratitude with every syllable spoken into her Owner’s chest. They spent a moment like that, her Owner just stroking her hair while she breathed through the lingering bursts of nausea and confused sensation.

“You’ll have a cute little collar, I think,” her Owner purred, “and I’ll keep your hands cuffed behind your back, maybe in a box tie. You’re so adorable when you blush, and I want you dependent on me.” 

She pretended to think for a moment. “Maybe I’ll give you some cat ears and a tail. That would be cute, wouldn’t it?”

kitten shuddered at that, feeling herself sink further into her Master’s wonderful voice and blissful touch. They stayed there for a while, kitten still jerking intermittently as the ritual finished the long complex work of permanently tieing her soul to her Master’s. Gradually the effects began to fade and it seemed like her Owner hadn’t completely erased her brain because she came to with a start.

“Master, how long have I been–? How– Ma– You took our names!” It was laced with as much accusation as kitten was still capable of towards her Master, which is to say not very much. It made her sad, she couldn’t remember it but she knew how she’d liked the way her Owner’s name sounded, and liked the way her own name sounded on her Owner’s lips.

“I did, little cat, but if you’re especially good then on some days I might let you have it back, as a treat.” Her Owner’s voice dropped in pitch and to a menacing half whisper. “That’s how everything is going to work now, you understand? Whatever you are, whatever you become, it’s at my will and at my mercy.”

kitten shook in a way that was entirely unrelated to the fading pain of the ritual and felt a renewed awareness of the intense need that had been steadily gathering in her core. She’d learned intense self control as part of her studies of magic, and it seemed like her Owner had left her with at least some of that, but it wouldn’t be long before it became overwhelming.

Her Owner spoke up again, more raw and vulnerable than she’d been at any point since challenging kitten to the fateful duel. “It’s you that I’m interested in, _____. If I’d  just wanted power I could have landed a much safer bet on rank three. But the thought of spending the rest of my life with you? Controlling you, molding you, watching you both struggle and thrive? It was too much to resist. I’m so much more interested in caging your soul than I am in destroying it.”

Her Owner had leaned against the top of her head while she spoke, and emphasized the last point with a stroke down her kitten’s cheak.

“But hey, I’ve left you with awareness of what I’ve taken. Isn’t that kind of me?”

The ritual was starting to wear off, and kitten started to feel more like herself again, minus a few crucial details anyway. Her Owner must have noticed, because she got up and then helped kitten to her feet.

“I’m not sure that’s a kindness, Master,” the kitten said, with a smile.

Her Master laughed.

“It’s really not, is it?” her Master conceded. “But you’ll face it like you’ve faced so many other challenges, and you’ll bring me joy with your struggling and your overcoming and your suffering.”

She gave kitten a standing hug, pulling her one more time into her shoulder. “And when it becomes too much, I’ll hold you while you cry, then give you the strength to go on. Because you’re mine now, kitten, and I love you.”

A pleasure like nothing she’d ever felt before raced through kitten at that. She nuzzled into her Owner’s neck.

“I love you too, Master.” 

Let me know what you think in the comments! This one's a one shot but there may be more of the setting.

Also I've made a Twitter! Follow for more culty D/s!

x61

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