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My sleep started off restless, with a fair bit of tears and tossing and turning. Though as I started to wake up, I felt very rested, despite it not starting off the best. I had had a deep sleep where I could not remember any of the dreams that transpired. I could have sworn I would have woken up in a cold sweat from the nightmares that were to transpire throughout the night. I felt really refreshed as I blinked and rubbed away the sleep and bleariness from my eyes.

 

My eyes trace the smokey wood grain of the ceiling of my room as I mentally prepare to get out of bed. Our ceilings are much higher than regular buildings in case of a backdraft of smoke from the forge. I was still wearing what I had the afternoon before. I felt rested and in a good mood as I sat up in my bed.

 

I could smell an odor that was off from the usual soot and metalwork scent that was our home. Looking around at my very basic room, beside my bed there was a metalwork table my father had made me and a large plain wooden wardrobe. Besides the normal writing utensils and some of my basic jewel crafter tools for carving patterns in river rocks; there was some incense burning on my desk that was not there last night.

 

I guess that my father must have put it there. I got up and changed the clothes that I was wearing from my wardrobe. I decided to put on a simple pair of black pants and a short blue shirt, not that what I wear for today’s spectacle really mattered very much to me at this point.

 

I went downstairs and my father was there again in the kitchen.

 

“Morning there Cara, did you sleep alright?” He asked as I sat at the table and cut myself a slice of bread and buttered it with some crushed fruit for breakfast.

 

“Morning dad. Ya, I guess... was the incense your doing?” I responded as I munched on the bread and jam.

 

“That’s good. I went over to the Perdu’s to get some dreamvine incense to help ya sleep for last night. They thought I was there again for some burn ointment. They were nice enough to give me some incense to help you sleep instead of tea.” He answered. It was nice of him to do and I felt much better for it.

 

“Thanks, Dad, could you maybe tell me about what happened when you went for your ritual? I know I’ve never asked before, but I think I would like to know before I go there today.” I knew I was mumbling a bit as I was looking down towards the floor. I really wanted to know, though I was scared to find out.

 

“Well... Uh…” *sigh* “Let me see... It’s been a very long time... Where would you like me to start?” My dad stumbled over himself as he asked me at what point in the legacy of a couple of hundred winter curse of our bloodline that I wanted him to begin with.

 

While I figured my dad went through pretty much the same issues through school, I only really wanted to know about what to expect from today.

 

“Um... I don’t know, what about if you started in the morning of the actual ritual? Like, today...” I asked squeamishly, unable to look up at him in the eyes. He paused for a bit before letting out a small sigh before he began.

 

“Well. For me, as I recall. It was much the same as any day. I got up, got in a fight with your grandfather, some hurtful things were said as I was angry and wanted to be able to blame it on someone. So, after the fight, I kind of stormed out and went by the small lake to the south of town. It was calm and I more or less just thought of what I should do. I kept thinking that I’d be the one to be different, the one the curse would not affect. I was going to use a single characteristic of what I wanted. I put a lot of thought into it at the lake. Before I knew it, it was noon and the summoning rituals were about to begin.”

 

“Um... After I got to the mages guild, we went to the back courtyard. There were a bunch of mages from the guild present, some parents that were high ranking bronze or silver magi, as well as the guild master at that time.” He took another deep breath as he scratched his chin and neck while trying to recall what happened that day.

 

I glanced up at him, and he was standing there on the opposite side of the kitchen, his eyes closed with a bit of a frown. Obviously, it was something he did not wish to recall.

 

“People started to enter into a circle of stones one by one for the ritual. Most of the mages managed to summon some jewelry or… err... trinkets. I think one or two managed to summon a familiar. When they managed to summon things, the air would grow heavy, and it was similar to when the heat of the forge distorts the air around it. In front of the mage, the air would distort in the shape of the summoned thing and it would distort, and… ugh… it would appear. Their artifact or familiar.” He was gesturing like a mad man, of a stave and a boom.

 

“When it got to be my turn near the end, I was confident that I would be different, that I would be successful. So I entered into the ring of stones like all the other folk and said the same things as everyone else, but in my heroic voice.” He looked down, sad and defeated, the mirth from his heroic voice joke now gone.

 

“I said the exact same ritual words as everyone else; ‘I, William Grant Foregess, do summon and bind thee, the embodiment of trust’.” He let out a big sigh at that point before continuing on a little more.

 

“I had hoped and wished with all my being that something as simple as a plain old ring or anything that I could trust and rely on would come into being. Though... as time stretched on and nothing happened. I felt the embers of my wishful thinking snuff, and people…” he hesitated, looking me in the eyes…

 

“... Were like they always were... And I just marched out of there before any of the finishing ceremonies were completed. It was when I got here my dad, your grandfather, did not say a word to me, he just offered me a hammer and the forge to myself. For the rest of the day, I banged out all of my anger onto a couple of shoddy pieces of work. It helped me get over the fact that I was no different from my father, or his father or anyone else in our family line. I was angry for a long time, though as the days passed, I came to accept it and not care as much. In time, things got better, as they always do, and while you may not feel like it will. The hurt goes away and the feelings and disappointment slowly go away too.”

 

“You’ll always have me here for you Cara, and I hope you will always remember that.” He finished while giving me a sad smile, blinking his watery eyes.

 

I think I feel better and calmer now. Knowing a bit more about what to expect and what my father did to help him cope afterwards. I was happy that I finally got to ask my father about this and I found out that he wanted to summon something he could just trust.

 

It made sense to me that he would have chosen that characteristic in his summon. I smiled up at my dad, a genuine smile as I felt happy that I had him and that I have Jessica.

 

“Okay dad, thanks for telling me about your ritual, and thanks for the incense. It makes a nice change from the forge.” I teased him. He smirked and gave a small chuckle at my stab at his profession for probably the millionth time.

 

“I’m going to go see Jessica now I think, as the morning is slipping away.” I smiled at him as I got up and went to give him a big hug. He returned the hug with one arm and put a hand on top of my head.

 

“Alright Cara, I’ll be here, and you know Jessica will always be by your side.” He said as we broke apart. With that, we said a small goodbye as I left to go see Jessica next door.

 

I entered into the apothecary with the small bell chiming as it has always done. Mrs. Perdu was at the counter and she smiled and greeted me as I came in. She has always been so nice to me and I thought of her as my mother, since my real mother, Tess, died giving birth to me.

 

Jessica came racing down the stairs and was at my side almost instantly. While she was quick to come to see me, I could definitely see the dark circles under her eyes. She had not slept all that well. At least nothing like how I did. Mrs. Perdu frowned at Jessica as she scolded her.

 

“Honestly Jess, no need for you to try and fall down the stairs. Cara, I hope you slept well after your father came by to get something to help you sleep. We should have probably done the same with Jess as she had been fretting the details the entire night.” Mrs. Perdu said, confirming why Jessica had the dark circles under her eyes. Jessica stuck her tongue out at her mother before getting into it with her.

 

“Ya, ya, though again, I don’t want you or father there at the ceremony mom. You have to run the business and I’ll be nervous enough as it is without you there.”

 

“You sure Jess? We can always close the shop for a little bit and come to watch your first and only summoning... We won’t ever get a chance to see it again.” Her mom pleaded for what seemed like a well-rehearsed and fought over the topic, probably one of the reasons Jessica had not slept well…

 

“YES! I’m sure mom! I’ll be back right after it's finished to tell you all about it. Okay? So... PLEASE!!.. Don’t show up!” With that we said a quick goodbye, leaving Mrs. Perdu with teary eyes and a small pout still on her face as we headed outside.

 

“Hey, Jess. I was thinking about the ritual and all...” I started as we started to walk. I was wanting to wander a bit aimlessly before everything started. Hopefully, I could get some inspiration on what I would use for my attempt at a summon.

 

“Yes... It was a big hassle last night for me, though what did you want to talk about?” Jessica responded to my open-ended statement that I had let trail off.

 

“Well, I was just thinking. That I wanted to kind of go last and so we’d need to get there a bit later than the others. Also, I wanted to go by the small lake to the south of town. That sound okay to you?” Well, I got that out of the way, while I was feeling fairly good with the certainty of what my destiny had before me, I still did not want to go first and have everyone watching me.

 

“Ya sure, I think that would be nice. Also if we go by the lake, we can take the back roads up to the guild and we shouldn’t see anyone.” Jessica’s response allowed me to give a silent internal sigh of relief as the back roads would make things easier. It would probably be best to take them on my way back as well. We got off the cobbled road and cut through an alleyway between two homes to start heading towards one of the southerly roads that would snake around and join a couple of the other roads to take us down to the lake.

 

“You know your dad almost had a fit last night trying to explain why he wanted so much drowsy and calming incense. It was kinda funny at first before my parents caught on that he was going to use it all at once and they had to convince him of the proper dosage to burn in order to make sure you did not end up in a coma.” Jessica mentioned as we continued down a few roads passing several houses and fewer and fewer people as we headed south.

 

“Wow, so you’re saying I could have simply just skipped today in a coma? Why’d your parents have to interfere!?” I jested, though Jessica had taken it the wrong way and was closing up, clearly embarrassed by what I said or maybe my joking came out a bit too harsh. I had to quickly correct myself or we’d end up with more awkward silences than was usual for the two of us.

 

“I was just kidding Jessica, I think it is kinda funny that my dad went that far for me, though I’m grateful for him doing it. I slept very well. Um... so why did you have a rough night?” I tried switching topics, hopefully, Jessica would vent a bit and we’d get over the possibility of some awkward silences.

 

We continued down the roads, continuously heading south. We bypassed the downtown section with all the shops and stalls where most people would have been gathered so close to midday.

 

As we walked, we were passing smaller and smaller houses, which were also getting a bit shabbier as we approached the lake. Where the doors to the rough stone houses showed that the wood was very well worn and smooth from age and use. The windows were a bit more tattered and the exteriors and the roads were dirtier. A few fishing nets were hung to dry or being mended outside a few of the homes. A couple of small children could be heard playing indoors or running behind the houses.

 

We continued on our trek down to the lake, where I listened to Jessica rant about the grief her parents were giving her by thinking of attending. She was happy that they would do it, though she was going to be extremely embarrassed to have a cheering squad for following the family tradition and summoning an artifact that would relate to the plant magic affinity.

 

We chatted until we got down to the lake, and we decided to go down the small shabby dock that was there to just sit at the end and dip our feet in the water.

 

The water was cold and crisp on our feet. For the moment, it was just a nice place to sit and talk. The lake was large enough that you would not try to swim all the way across, though was very pretty with it being cleared on the northern side with the dock, towards the city and everywhere else it was surrounded by a tight grouping of green pine trees standing silently as sentinels around the lake. Jessica and I decided to start heading towards the mage’s guild on the back roads once the sun was directly overhead.

 

The walk to the guild was a bit depressing as we both said very little except for the odd jest about bandits that may lurk close to the back roads. It was a relaxing and uneventful walk with the songs of birds and insects chirping during the midday. This continued until we reached the main eastern road that led north right to the mages guild where we reached the entrance gate just when we were hoping to.

 

The same boy that was there yesterday was at the front gate again. He watched us from the distance as we slowly approached him and the main gate. Once we had gotten close enough and before we could pass him by, he chimed in;

 

“Hello again, here I thought you guys would be amongst the first to arrive as you were yesterday,” he said beaming at us.

 

“Things came up, can we head on to the back of the guild?” I asked, giving him a weak smile.

 

“Oh yes, it may have just started, you are probably the last to arrive. Just head on back towards the main entrance and take a left towards the side of the guild. You should be able to easily make your way around and slip in at the back of the line. We have close to a hundred mages for the entrance ritual. So the line should be pretty long and should be very close to the side of the guild and thus, the end of the line ought to not be too far once you get back there.” He said, smiling at us.

 

We thanked him as we half jogged to the left side of the guild. The front grounds were virtually motionless, though we could hear the clamor of many people as we went up the north side of the guild. I was at ease as if walking on a cloud, perhaps the sense of ease and calmness was some lingering effects of the incense, or perhaps I had just come to terms finally with what was going to happen.

 

The boy at the front gates was correct; in that, after rounding the back left corner of the guild we did not need to take more than a dozen steps to join the back of a long single-file line.

 

I made sure to position myself so that Jessica was in front of me, so that I could be the very last and that I would not embarrass her in any way from having to follow whatever my performance would be.

 

It was a long single-file line that headed into the manicured courtyard in the back. The stone gardens and hedges at the side did not extend too far past the guild where the line passed between a break in the low hedges towards the huge open field in the back. There was a lot of room with a few rolling hills and a tree here and there. Similar to the lake before, stood a silent square coniferous forest surrounding the courtyard.

 

It was interesting that there was so much open space behind the guild, though I guess it made sense with the guild being the furthest thing to the east of town that the property could be seen as going on for quite some distance.

 

As I looked up and down the line of future mages; I began to recall what my father had told me about his ritual. It was much the same as I imagined it from what he said. I could see an odd oval protrusion from the ground near the front of the line which had to be the stone circle. It was only maybe half a foot in height and clearly all the stones were slanted and pointed towards whoever would stand in the middle of them. Behind that, I could see an even larger number of adults gathered to watch the ritual. A dozen or so in the front seemed to be dressed more adventurous, similar to mage Dercotte from the day before.

 

There were still a few in the front-most group who wore some simple and some extravagant robes. It seemed kind of odd, it looked like there was a divide between those that looked more scholarly, while the others who wore items that were more practical for an adventure or coming back from a long hike through the forest and mountains.

 

In the group, I could see mage Dercotte off to the right, wearing much the same outfit, though a black shirt. I could also see that other mage from the hall that had done the small explosion to get the attention of everyone. He was there, and even more sour and cranky then he did before from this distance. There were also a couple of others that seemed familiar that I may have seen in the town or in our shop.

 

From the number of adults, I presume that many parents had come to see their child and I could hear an audible sigh of relief come from Jessica in front of me. As I continued to observe the courtyard as I had lost interest in the group of adults. My attention did move to one of the men at the forefront of the group of adults that stepped forward. He looked to be lean and fit from where I was, though his hair was all white, which made him look older, though he was not bent over with age. He wore what looked to be a fitted black robe, and as he took a few steps towards the lineup, I could see that as he walked forward, he was wearing white pants that were visible along the sides. I guess his robe had slits down the sides from the waist down to allow for him to walk more easily. While I could not make out the details of the designs, his black robe had some gold and silver patterns on the fabric that made it look very elegant, where it would probably be much more noticeable when you were closer and not a hundred some odd people away.

 

As he came to a stop raising both his hands a bit beckoning for the people’s attention, silence engulfed the adults who were contributing to the clamor and the boys and girls in the line before him caught on quickly and it was abnormally quiet over the group before and behind him.

 

“Good afternoon to you all. For those who do not know me, I am the guild master of our fair hall here in our city of Denvetti. It is my pleasure to welcome you to your entrance ritual and on behalf of the guild, we look forward to taking you under our wings and helping you learn and grow to become fine young mages. Some of you have friends and family present, please do not allow that to discourage or have you force yourself to take on too much in your summoning. It has been nine winters since our last death during the ritual and this is not a record that we would like to see reset today.”

 

“As a reminder to you here, even though your friends and family are here, do not attempt to show off as it will cost you your life. During your ritual, you will be presented with an opportunity to show what characteristics you wish your summoned entity to exhibit. If during the ritual, you attempt to use an extra characteristic and you feel pain that tries to prevent you from uttering it, DO NOT! force it, as that will most assuredly lead to a painful and messy death for you in front of everyone present.”

 

“Again! Do not force it, or you and your family will regret it terribly.” He spoke commanding the attention of everyone. I noticed that he used his hands a great deal when talking, which I thought peculiar, though the warning he said was left hanging in the air.

 

It was at that moment that I realized that while I was prepared for the consequences of what was going to happen, I had not actually decided on what characteristic I wanted to say before finishing and leaving. Thinking quickly, I thought that I could just use whatever someone in front of me might use, though my train of thought went back to my father and I thought that ‘trust’ would probably be sufficient as it sounded well thought out at the very least.

 

Being jolted out of my thoughts as the guild master continued with his dialogue, I turned and listened to what was going to start to happen.

 

“Before we begin, as a note, we do have the guild’s best healer present, mage Larse.” He said motioning towards a young female mage in an off white robe who had her blond hair pulled back into a tight bun. She acknowledged the introduction with a quick nod to the line of boys and girls in front of her.

 

“As a quick reminder, that if something does go wrong, despite family being present. I would ask that family and friends keep their distance and allow our trained professionals to give your friend or loved one the care they may require to live. And with that, we shall begin.” He said in closing while stepping back to the main group and holding his hands behind his back while waiting.

 

So this was it, I saw that the boy from the front gate had managed to move up to the front beside the boy that would go first.

 

I did not recall seeing him ever pass me and Jessica or how he got up there. He finished whispering something into the boy’s ear and then the boy took the several steps required to enter into the middle of the ring of stones. He stood there and I saw him take a few deep breaths before I could make out some broken sentence he was saying over top of the wind.

 

“I... ..James... Gr... … … … STRENGTH!” He practically shouted out the desired characteristic he wanted his summon to embody and I could hear a small chuckle here and there in the group of adults watching.

 

Everyone in the line was fixated on the boy and was holding their breath. I could not see anything except for the boy extending his hand and grabbing something in the air with his right hand and just looking down into the palm of his hand. He was waved towards the group of adults amongst a torrent of cheers and clapping. He quickly jogged over and went towards the left side of the group of adults. There were people who were still clapping and congratulating him. He received a couple of claps on the shoulder and back and was motioned by one of the adults to put what was in his hand on one of his fingers.

 

I suppose that he had managed to summon a ring of some sort. He was beaming there facing the group that he had just left while fidgeting with his hands and continuously looking down at them. Perhaps not the most smooth of starts, however, he was happy and standing there with the adults as the clapping came to an end and the attention moved back towards the line up of mages to be, to see what was to come next.

 

There was the girl from the classroom who was sitting in front of me that was moving into the stone circle. She still had her long curly blond hair down and was wearing a short light blue dress for the ritual. Everyone was silent as she performed her ritual in a confident and audible tone from this distance.

 

“I, Emily Vix, do summon and bind thee, the embodiment of warmth and purity.” She gave a bit of a squeak of excitement as she too seemed to grab something in front of her and put it over her head. Applause and whistling broke out as she went to go join the first boy on the left side of the main group.

 

I thought it funny that the first boy used a single word summon and then she followed it with two. It would be interesting if the next person attempted using three characteristics. Though the next person, a boy used two characteristics as well and the applause and cheering did not seem to fade with each new candidate. It seemed that each new candidate was not allowed to commence until all the cheering and applause for the previous person had subsided. We were taking a fair bit of time per person and it did seem that with about a hundred candidates that it would take us probably close to sundown before we were completed.

 

A couple more people had gone through with their summoning rituals and their respective applause, cheering and congratulations that were extended did not die off really at first and intensified in ferocity for those individuals who were clearly more popular and well known or had more family possibly present. It was on the seventh person who went to go perform their summon that I was shocked by what I saw. It was a very small girl with waist-length jet black hair that had entered the circle and started the summoning ritual. She stood there for a bit longer as if gathering her courage for what she was about to undertake. After what seemed like a bit too long of a pause she finally began.

 

“I, Vivian Pen Flow, do summon and bind thee, the embodiment of agility, wisdom, and beauty.” I was curious if she was in some way connected to mage Flow from the day before that used that ridiculous explosion to get the attention of everyone.

 

Unlike all the previous people who had summoned small trinkets that could not be seen. This girl Vivian’s summoned something was taking shape and I could see it as how my dad had described it. There was something skinny and tall that was slowly taking shape in an odd haze or distortion. It was as if trying to look at flowing water that was being poured from an invisible cup that was falling down to the ground. Though the shimmer was moving a fair bit more quickly than what I thought it would have.

 

I can hear gasps of shock and awe from both groups at what she summoned starts to turn vibrant red near the top and as its color extends lower to the ground, it changes color to a blue and then purple. After the summoned entity fully came into being I could see a beautiful small vibrant red bird. Its wings were beating so fast that they could not be seen, so its body appeared to simply be suspended in the air.

 

What was most shocking was that the tail was almost as long as the girl was tall. It moved with the bird in a very fluid motion, following in its wake before slowly fluttering downwards.

 

Both crowds broke out into applause and I was forced to join it. It was most certainly a beautiful little thing. I had never seen or heard of anything like it. The girl Vivian stretched out her hand in the air and the little bird came to rest on the tips of her fingers. The crowd roared and cheered louder and the little familiar was a bit startled and went back up in the air. After the crowd started to settle down a bit more, the little bird circled Vivian two times, its tail streaming around the girl before it came to rest on her shoulder. While resting on the girl’s shoulder, it’s tail, while long, was just short of touching the ground from the girl’s shoulder.

 

With a little chirp sounding like “Pip-Pip”, the girl cautiously walked over to join the second group, now with a bit more subdued congratulations being extended to her. As she walked, the tail of her familiar fluttered behind her. It was quite mesmerizing, this small familiar with shiny red feathers and the whimsical tail.

 

After everyone got settled, the ritual resumed once again. The now full-fledged mages managed to summon several more artifacts. I could now make out lockets, necklaces, rings, a stave or two, and an arm bracer that were summoned. We had finished close to the first third of the group when a slightly large boy went into the summoning circle. He had short brown hair and was wearing a black robe, very much like those of the more scholarly looking adults. He began his summoning ritual just as everyone before him had.

 

“I, Samuel Lee Pit, do summon and bind thee, the embodiment of speed... power... an...”

 

‘KRR-BOOM!’

 

He was stopped mid-sentence with a flash of light. I reflexively close my eyes and turn away from the flash. With my eyes closed, I can still see everything go white and the extremely loud crack that followed at the exact same time was terrifying.

 

It was louder than anything I’d heard before and I was used to hearing my dad shape metal with a hammer. I opened my eyes and was looking down at the grass below me. I was on my knees and the ringing in my ears was terrible.

 

I can smell burnt hair, it is overpowering. I look around and see to my left that Jessica is there on the ground as well. She was looking past me and blinking furiously. I noticed the afterimage of a bright white line running down my vision as I blinked.

 

As we get up, we can see that the line that we are in is somewhat scattered. The guild master and the female mage in a white robe are inside the summoning circle right next to the boy.

 

The group of mages with mostly adults were a bit more composed, though were watching intently what was going on in the summoning circle. As people slowly started to creep closer, the female mage, mage Larse I think it was, stood up with the guild master and motioned two other male adult mages over to them.

 

After yelling a set of instructions into their ears a second time, they bent over the boy who was now lying on a long cloth with poles on either side. They pick him up using this stretcher and slowly start to walk him away towards the back of the guild. After the first mage wearing a long black robe passes by me. I could see the boy missing a fair bit of hair on the side of his head that was closest to me. He has large red blisters forming on the side of his face and neck in branching arcs of lightning branded into his skin. His clothing is burnt and a bit shredded down his left side. It’s pretty terrible to see, though I can not take my eyes off him. After they disappear into one of the back entrances to the guild and are followed by another older gentleman who’s following them at a full sprint. I notice that I am not the only one who is intently watching the four people disappear into the guild.

 

There was a fair bit of yelling going on as people tried to yell over the loud ringing noise that was most definitely affecting everyone. After a few attempts, the guild master managed to get the attention of almost everyone. He was shouting as he commanded for silence and to be heard.

 

“SILENCE, SILENCE EVERYONE!” He gave a quick loud whistle before continuing.

 

“WE ARE TERRIBLY SORRY FOR MISTER PIT. MAGE LARSE WOULD LIKE TO ASSURE EVERYONE THAT THE BOY WILL BE FINE AND THAT HE WAS SUCCESSFUL SUMMONING A STAVE. I WOULD LIKE TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT REMAINS THAT IF HE HAD FORCED THE RITUAL, WE WOULD BE PICKING PIECES OF HIM OFF OF EVERYONE.” After, having the attention of everyone he continued further.

 

“Again, for those of you who have still yet to go. Do not let this scare you out of your original intentions. However, you must discontinue the summoning if you start to feel intense pain and not force the matter or what we just witnessed will happen again or worse. Mage Pit will make a recovery in time. Please return to the lineup, as we must continue and be finished before sundown.” He said, while a dark and depressing mood still remained over the group.

 

The summoning ritual continued much as it did before, however it was a bit more business-like and subdued after that incident. There were a lot more artifacts that were summoned, though there were other successful familiars that were summoned.

 

I was amazed at seeing the familiars that were summoned. There was a small-scaled salamand that was summoned by a boy who would be clearly a fire affinity mage. There was a pair of floating blue lights that fade in and out. Wisps as they were referred to by others in the line ahead of me and Jessica. There were several other small flying creatures, though none as beautiful as the first familiar that was summoned by that girl, Vivian. There was a very ominous and scary creature that was summoned by a tall boy with jet black hair that he had pulled back into a long ponytail. The boy, Psyden Lerou, had managed to summon a deadly looking familiar. It came up to the boy’s chin and it looked similar to an extremely skinny bug with a mean-looking triangular head. It was just as black as the boy’s hair and the skin of the familiar has a slight shine to it. While it appeared very lanky, it has long blades coming out of its wrists, elbows, and knees. The blades that seemed to be everywhere looked deadly and they would catch and be outlined by the fading rays of sunlight.

 

The familiar moved in very quick movements across the ground as it followed the boy into the ever-increasing group of adults and mages of the guild. The boy was surrounded and swallowed by a huge huddle of adults and disappeared from sight, though I could not help but shudder at the memory of that creature.

 

The line is shortening and as the sunset is starting to change the sky to a light pink, it is finally Jessica’s turn. I can not believe that our entire afternoon had just gone and disappeared just now. Though despite it being my best friend’s turn and mine next, I still feel so calm knowing that it is going to be over shortly. I know what to expect and I would be able to simply go home and go to bed as I can forget today ever exists with a dreamvine coma.

 

I give Jessica a quick squeeze of the hand as she approaches and enters the summoning ring. I am only ten or so steps away from her, though I feel so happy and excited for her. I watch Jessica as I smile and will my strength to her. Hoping that she would be strong. I know she does not do well in front of crowds, however, I am sure she’ll be successful.

 

After taking a few steadying breaths, she starts and I feel so proud of her for being able to do this in front of such a large group.

 

“I... Jessica Perdu... do summon and bind thee... … the embodiment of growth and potential...”

 

She was breathing pretty hard in saying the incantation, taking a breath at every pause. Though once finished, I can see that near her feet, something starts to form. It comes up to about halfway up her shin and it looks like a pyramid at first. Though while obscuring and distorting the view of the ground at her feet, I can see it swaying slightly and my heart almost jumps out of my chest in joy for Jessica. It starts to blend in with the green grass at her feet and I can see an odd little creature at her feet.

 

I’m happy for Jessica. It looks like a flower as it is just starting to bloom. I can see what looks like a mouth or the opening of a flower, it was a soft blue on the inside of what looked like five or six petals. It had a thick stem of a neck that moved down into a sturdy base of many thick vines that it appears to be standing on. Jessica had managed to summon a familiar and it is also a plant, which was a bit ironic though a definite confirmation of her and her family’s affinity. Jessica slowly knelt down onto her knees in front of her familiar amidst the applause, slowly reaching out to touch and run her fingers down along the side of her familiar’s neck… spine?... stem I guess it would be. I can overhear a snippet of the guild master’s conversation with mage Lars as the applause started to subside.

 

“...zing, how many familiars have been successfully summoned? That little flayer makes a total of nine now I guess. That’s several times more than what should have expected from a group this size.” He said.

 

I guess there were quite a few interesting familiars that were summoned, though I think it a bit more intriguing to find out that Jessica’s familiar is called a flayer. I continued my own applause as I saw Jessica gently pick up her familiar as if worried that it may have been rooted into the ground, though it went up into her arms and away from the ground without any issues.

 

Jessica walks out of the circle and goes to the side of the group of adults, clearly keeping a bit of distance between herself and everyone else. She’s holding onto her familiar and turns to look towards me, giving me probably her best ‘be strong’ smiles. With that and a quick smile back to her, I start to walk towards the stone circle.

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Dragonkinn02

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