The chancellor’s wrath was terrible; his retribution was swift.
He spoke a single word—not an incantation—but one syllable that held so much power, that Alex’s mana senses shuddered. A grey mist exploded from around Baelin—shooting through the air like a shoggoth’s tentacles—and separating into wisps of grey clouds that struck the hounds and imps, coating them like they’d been sprayed with stone-coloured flour.
The demons began to writhe and scream. Where the grey mist clung to them, their flesh began to harden and turn the colour of old slate. All around, dozens of demons were becoming stone statuettes. With a final crack, the frost hounds—which were now statues—froze in mid pose while the petrified imps plummeted to the earth.
They hit the ground, crumbling into pebbles and stone dust.
The giant demon froze.
Baelin spoke another word of power: an orb of utter darkness swelled in his hand. With a shudder, it broke into hundreds of marble-sized orbs which shot through the air like shrapnel from an explosion.
They seemed to have a sentience and sought out any demons that hadn’t already been turned to stone. Howling with fear, the remaining monsters tried to escape the seeking orbs, but the magic followed their every movement. The demons who’d been attacking Alex tried to scramble away: the imps scattered and the frost hound’s paws scrabbled on the frozen grass, trying to escape.
But the dots of darkness followed, honing in on them and striking.
Alex gasped when a sucking sound appeared and the demons began to collapse into the orbs like crumpling paper.
Bone crumbled and flesh crushed inward as they imploded into the small orbs of darkness, then disappeared with a hideous sucking noise.
“Holy shit.” Alex gaped.
They were gone. Not a drop of blood, scrap of flesh or bone remained of the hounds and imps when all was done.
The giant demon roared, shook itself and began to struggle against the rings with its full might. Where its flesh met the rings, its skin began to hiss as though acid from Jules’ lab had been sprayed on it. The thing seemed unconcerned because it kept smashing away at the rings, throwing its steaming body against them again and again until finally, they shattered.
Now freed, Alex prepared to run, expecting it to launch into the air at Baelin, but instead, it whirled on its clawed feet and vaulted toward the fiery pit it had emerged from. It looked like it was preparing to escape.
Baelin glared down with undisguised disdain and spoke a word of power.
A titanic, glowing hand of force blazed into life above the demon—at least forty feet wide and shining with a silvery light—and swept down.
It slammed the creature into the earth like it was swatting a fly. The monstrosity growled, straining to force itself upright against the spell, then turned like a cornered animal.
This time it pressed harder against the titanic force of the Hand, bracing against it with its wings and all four arms. It tensed with all its strength and inhaled. The cone of icy breath blasted from both mouths, spraying upward toward the flying chancellor.
Baelin raised his hand and made a grasping gesture.
With another massive surge of mana, the cone of frost abruptly stopped in front of the ancient wizard, and then began to swirl like water flowing down a drain pipe.
The entire cone was sucked into a single point of space floating before his hand—which shone like pure winter ice— then flared with blinding light.
Baelin made a flicking gesture.
The glowing point of ice broke into eight smaller ones and blasted toward the demon. It struck the otherworldly creature in its four arms, both legs and wings.
Its scream ripped through the air.
Ice rapidly burst from the points Baelin’s magic had impacted, spreading over its limbs until they resembled ice sculptures, not flesh.
Against the pressure of the chancellor’s giant force hand, the demon’s frozen arms and wing’s shattered, followed by its brittle legs.
Baelin’s spell smashed the demon into the earth then rose up.
It smashed it into the earth again, pressing down so hard that it left an imprint in the grass in the shape of its body. The creature twitched from the assault as the hand opened, reaching down and scooping it up like it was one of Selina and Alex’s small clay dolls.
Alex retrieved the spyglass.
The glowing hand hoisted the feebly struggling giant into the air and floated it up until its face was eye-level with the ancient wizard.
“I do not care for your circumstance, pitiful creature,” Baelin’s voice rang across the campus, so loud that even from so far a distance, Alex felt his ears ring. “I do not care if you came by your own will—through some pact—or if you were dragged here by some spell’s power. In either case, you shall suffer.” He paused, turning so that one of his goat-like eyes was squarely fixed on the demon’s face.
Despite the creature’s features being completely inhuman, Alex could see terror growing in its widening eyes.
“If you tell me with all haste who brought you to this place to harm mystudents, then you shall be sent back to your realm to lick your wounds. Perhaps, in fifty of our years, you may find yourself whole again. If you do not know who brought you here, or refuse to answer, then—whatever demon lord you call master help you—I will break you so utterly, that it will be a millenniumbefore you can piece enough of your essence back together to even think.”
With another word and wave of his hand, both the whimpering demon and the hand of force that held it, vanished into the air.
As soon as it disappeared, students either stayed moaning on the ground, or gaping in shock at the awesome display of magic they’d just witnessed.
Alex was squarely in the latter group, staring up at the chancellor with his jaw hanging open.
Baelin merely turned toward the few priests that stood, panting, at the front gates. “You aided us in our time of need,” he said, and though his words were thankful, his tone was almost cold. “For that, I shall see that some reward is sent to your temples. For now, I am sure that you will wish to return to your holy places where you can receive healing of both a physical and…spiritual nature.”
“W-wait!” the priest of Uldar cried. “We can aid the wounded!”
“We are more than capable.” Baelin waved his hand.
There was a familiar rush of mana in the form of teleportation magic and the air began to shimmer around the priests. One by one, they vanished. Only the priest of Uldar remained for a heartbeat longer—obviously straining to resist the spell.
Then, he too disappeared.
Baelin turned back to the wounded. He sighed deeply. “Let’s get you all patched up.”
Things moved quickly and efficiently after that.
The Watchers of Roal arrived in droves shortly after the demon’s defeat, and set up a perimeter to begin tending to the wounded.
Baelin, through the use of a spell, informed the university infirmary to expect a mass of casualties, and then personally began teleporting the most gravely wounded there. Others arrived on floating stone disks shortly after bringing aid: healers that tended the wounded with healing potions, spells from the study of blood magic, and direct transfers of life-force through life enforcement.
A number of students who were close by volunteered to help however they could, and Alex was one of the volunteers. He used his experience with the emergency kit in Jules’ class to help apply bandages, transfer healing potions, and bring water to those that needed it.
Soon, others from across campus arrived to offer a helping hand, but only some were permitted past the perimeter The Watchers had set up.
While some of The Watchers of Roal were providing aid, others had already begun to investigate the cause of the incident. They gathered around the hole the demon had emerged from, casting spells over it that detected mana, or using devices that analyzed the magical residue of a summoning. Some were dispatched to patrol and search the surrounding area—both on campus—and the closest city buildings just beyond the gates.
The Watchers also began seeking out and questioning witnesses, Alex included.
“So, you weren’t part of the rally, Mr. Roth?” one of The Watchers asked—a squat, tough looking woman with a long scar that ran from her cheek to chin. Her hands were clapped behind her back and a roll of paper floated beside her, with a pen that was scratching down notes independently.
“No ma’am,” Alex said, sitting on the grass beside the temporary recovery station set up for victims who hadn’t been moved from the area yet. “I was over there-” He pointed to the general area of the tree he’d been sitting in. “-when it all happened.”
“Mhm,” she said. The pen scratched a little faster. “And what did you see from there?”
“Um,” he said. “I felt a surge of mana…it felt like teleportation magic, but kind of different. I uh, work, with Professor Jules on special projects and I saw a summoning once. The magic I felt today felt pretty similar to how it felt then.”
“Right, right, so you sensed the mana and it felt similar to some summoning magic you saw?” she asked. “What else happened then?”
“Yeah…uh, the ground swelled up and then-boom!” he spread his hands. “And that horrible thing came out, and it roared-”
“And what happened when it roared?” she asked.
“Well, it felt like-” He paused, trying to figure out how to describe it. “It felt like magic trying to get into me and make me afraid.”
“It was,” The Watcher said. “Many demons have abilities that get into the mind and cause fear and other unnatural emotions. What did you do then?”
“Uh, I shook it off-”
“Wait, you shook it off?”
He paused. “Uh yeah, it was a struggle, but I did. I once had a mana vampire try and put me to sleep, but I managed to resist it,” he said. “I just did the same thing here.”
“Strong will,” she said. The pen scratched faster. “And then?”
He described the battle and Baelin’s fight with the creature as best he could, though he didn’t go into too much detail about how he’d held off the demons that had come after him and the other students he’d been near to.
All that was summed up with: “I used what I learned in chancellor Baelin’s combat class to survive.”
She nodded, and the pen scratched down his answer. “And did you see anything else? A summoning circle? Anyone that looked suspicious, maybe? Someone hiding that quickly ran away, or someone who teleported away, or maybe went invisible?”
Alex strained his mind, searching for any memories that surrounded the event, but couldn’t remember anyone suspicious around the time of the rally.
If he was truly honest then he—the guy hiding in a tree watching the event through a spyglass—was probably the most suspicious person around. He was glad he’d been tucked away safely deep within the leaf-covered branches when it happened.
Hopefully, there was no sharp-eyed, suspicious person around who saw him and could accuse him of anything nefarious.
“Right,” The Watcher said. “Then that’s all for now. Keep in mind that we might call you if we have further questions…and they might call you too.”
She glanced over to the front gate where a number of Watchers were in a deep, intense conversation with some city guards and a stranger in official looking purple robes.
“The Generasi investigators work with The Watchers with events that happen on campus, but they might have their own questions for any witnesses. Alright, you’re free to go, then.” She looked at him sympathetically. “Good work today with helping the wounded: go home and rest up, I’m sure you’ll need it.”
“Alright, thanks.” Alex got up, grabbed his bags and started to make his way toward the perimeter.
As he reached it, he heard a familiar voice calling him.
“Alex! Alex, wait!” He turned to see Carey London rushing toward him from the recovery tent. “Are you alright?” she asked, stopping in front of him. “That was so dreadfully frightening!”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m okay,” he said, looking her over carefully. “Are you?”
“Just dandy, aside from the nerves,” she said. “So many were hurt, though…but I suppose it could have been much worse.”
“Yeah,” Alex agreed. “If it weren’t for The Watchers, Baelin and the priests, I think we would all be dead. Or at least, really badly hurt. Or maybe worse-”
His mouth started to go renegade.
“-I mean, who knows what that thing was capable of? It could have drunk our souls, or torn us into itty bitty pieces and kept us alive with magic, or frozen us and kept us as ornaments for the rest of time-Oh.”
He noticed Carey turning paler and paler with each passing word.
“Well, uh,” he finally said. “It would have been really bad, let’s just say.”
“I know,” she said, her voice falling into a whisper. She leaned closer. “And I can’t help but feel it was targeting the rally.”
Alex paused. “Maybe…yeah that would make a lot of sense.”
Except for that explosion in The Cells and the occasional smaller incident like when his classmate drank quicksilver, there hadn’t any major incidents, or violence, or disasters on campus.
Then—on the day of a well publicized rally to bring priests onto campus—someone summoned a monstrous demon right in front of the rally. It made a lot of sense, and he doubted that the chancellor was the only one that didn’t want the priests on campus.
“Be careful,” she said conspiratorially. “As a follower of Uldar, you don’t know if you’ll be targeted or who might have wanted our rally not to happen. Hopefully, The Watchers will catch the culprit soon.”
“Yeah,” Alex said, looking toward the smouldering hole in the ground, while hoping she wasn’t including him in her ‘our’. “I hope so too."