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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Hello everybody and thank you for your support!

So I watched episode 1 of Arcane last night. FANTASTIC episode. And this is coming from a guy who's never played a single second of Leage of Legends. But seriously, if it keeps with this quality—and my friends say it does—then I will definitely be recommending this for those who haven't seen it yet.

I'll keep y'all posted.

Alright, onto Fool!

Alex stepped closer to Claygon.

A creeping feeling slithered along his skin; the kind of feeling he got when something was watching him. Though he couldn’t see anything in the circle, a presence filled it, making the hair on the back of his neck creep up and cold sweat bead on his brow.

He didn’t see another soul around but he thought he heard screams from somewhere in the distance. Screaming, and the clanking of chains. His eyes bore into the circle like a frightened child’s trying desperately to see through the darkness of their room at night. Stone continued to ripple within the circle of glyphs. Slowly. Rhythmically.

Then something shifted-

“Oh hello there.”

The cry that Alex let out was decidedly unmanly. He spun around and saw a woman standing in the corner of the room. She looked like she was unpacking supplies. A small cloud of thumb-sized creatures—humanoid but with hummingbird wings—were buzzing around her and working in groups to remove things from her bags.

“Uh, hey,” he said, walking toward her. “Professor Mangal?”

“I am, I am, welcome…?” she said.

“Alex,” he said. “And this is Claygon, my golem.”

He made sure to introduce his golem very nicely and like he was a person. Alex had already begun to think of Claygon as a person for the most part, but—if there was even a chance that the golem was developing awareness—then he wanted him to remember how nice Alex was to him, and not even the tiniest hint of mistreatment that could lead to rampaging and fiery vengeance.

“Ah, well welcome to Summoning I, Alex.” Her voice had a musical quality to it and her eyes were sharp. They looked at him for a moment as though memorizing his features, then glanced up at Claygon, then finally at the summoning circle. “Did you notice our friend?”

Her eyes twinkled as she gazed at the circle. “He’ll be my ‘show-and-tell’ for class today. Come, come, have a seat, though your friend uhm…Claygon might have to stand outside, depending on how full we get.”

“Oh,” Alex said, glancing at the circle again. If there was some giant ice-spewing demon in there, he wanted his golem to be as close as possible and not outside having to stoop through a door to save him. “Well, can he fold up in a corner? He takes up a lot less space when he’s crouching.”

“That would be fine, but are you nervous?” the tiny woman asked; she was even shorter than Professor Jules.

“No, not really nervous, just cautious. It’s just…I’ve seen something similar to what I think is in there. I was at that rally a while back.”

Something flashed across her face. Was that a look of distaste? “Ah. Well, I hope you do not think that all summoning results in those. We do not condone that sort of thing anymore than an alchemy professor would condone one of their students throwing vials of poisonous substances about.”

“No, no, I didn’t think that.” He held up his hands and waved them. “I know, I know: there’s no department that’s going to condone mad wizardry that causes random destruction. ...while you’re a student here.”

From the way Baelin told it, it sounded like students did whatever they wanted to once they graduated.

“Good, if you know that, then we will likely get along well. Please, choose a seat and we shall await the arrival of the others.”

Alex mentally directed Claygon to a corner of the room, then glanced down at the summoning circle.

Excitement and nerves filled him.

He was dying to know what was lurking in there.


“Hello everyone and welcome to the condensed summer offering of SUMM-1020: Summoning I,” Professor Mangal said from her place seated on a cushion.

Alex looked around at the curious set up.

Rather than the class sitting at desks and facing a board, they were seated on cushions around the summoning circle. It was a small class—not as small as Magical Botany—but it was clear that there were less students here in the summer. Alex wondered at the set up—which was unlike any for his other courses—though he’d heard from Amir that many grad school seminars were set up in a circle rather than with students facing the board and professor.

“Before we begin, let us go over some ground rules for the class. First of all, some of you might be confused about the seating arrangement. Well, one of the reasons for it is because I prefer a less formal set-up. I also do not find that the one typically used sends the right message to all of you: you are not small children for me to stand in authority over, and I am not much older than many of you. I think some of you might even be my elder.”

It was true, Alex had seen students that looked older than Professor Mangal.

“And so, in this relationship we are entering into, I do not wish to convey that you are passive little children. You are my colleagues, and we are only separated by my experience with the art of summoning. With respect to this, I will generate certain rules, and then we shall generate others together in the seminar.”

She glanced beside her and several of her little summoned friends flew up into the air—each holding opposite sides of a large piece of parchment—then fluttered down beside her. One of the little creatures waved a hand, and a written rule appeared in golden ink:

  1. We will say what we prefer to be called, and you are to respect everyone’s wishes when it comes to their preferred form of address.

“This is our first rule,” professor Mangal said. “It is a simple one, but it is to teach you something very important: the power of the name.”

Alex immediately whipped open his notebook and started jotting her words down.

“In summoning, you see, the name contains a certain measure of power. To name a thing is to place a label upon it: to diminish it enough so that you can sum it up with a single word. Imagine if we did not have names?”

A smile broke out on her face, and she gestured to the class. “Do me a favour, someone sum me up without using my name.”

She looked around the class hopefully.

Eventually an elven student raised his hand. “You are the professor for SUMM-1020.”

“Am I now?” Professor Mangal said, her eyes twinkling with mischief. The summoned creatures beside her broke out into little giggles. “Is this the sum total of who I am? Just the professor of SUMM-1020? If so, then what happens when I am no longer teaching this class? Do I cease to be?”

“Er,” the elven student continued, awkwardly moving his long, dark hair over his shoulder. “No. Um, you’re a woman.”

“Oho, now we are getting somewhere. But, am I only a woman, like you are only a man? And what if you are incorrect on that account? You look at me and see a woman, but we wizards can learn the art of shapeshifting. If I spend each day in a different body, then the label of ‘human, man, woman’ becomes meaningless to the average passerby who sees me on a particular day. I have dark hair like you and darker skin and eyes, but again, these can change.”

“Um,” the student mused. “You’re a wizard.”

“That I am indeed, so we are narrowing it down. I am the wizard who is professor of SUMM-1020. But many people match this description. How can we narrow it further, without the name?”

“Um, I’m sorry professor,” the student said. “I don’t think I can without knowing more about you.”

Exactly,” she said. “And might I have your name?”

“Ragnar.”

“Is that how you prefer to be called?”

“Yes.”

“Excellent, and so I shall call you ‘Ragnar,’” delight danced in her eyes as she looked at the class. “And do you see the wonderful magic spell we just performed? Instead of having to sit here and tell you all a host of physical descriptions, and histories, and relationships, I can instead call to ‘Ragnar’ with a single word. With one word, I can now identify Ragnar to all of you in a way that he will acknowledge. And if Ragnar were to say “Professor Mangal” or “Garima” or even ‘Garima Mangal,’ then I would answer to all of these names and acknowledge them. And that is a keystone to summoning.”

She gestured to the summoning circle. “If I made this fancy circle and then just said ‘come forth anything’, I would not go very far when it comes to conjuring an otherworldly spirit. But if I name the type of creature I wish to bring forth, then magic will know what kind of creature I wish to call. If I name a single creature and have the image of who I am naming in my mind and heart, then the right spell will pluck that exact spirit to my side. Hence, why names are important. And to be respected.”

She gestured to the parchment. “And that means any name, as long as it is acknowledged by the bearer of that name. Common misinformation persists that a thing such as a ‘true name’ exists. One singular name by which the universe knows us. That is impossible. Through life we are called many different things—nick-names, first names, last names, changed names—and if we acknowledge them, they are valid. Even labels and insults. If you are walking along and someone calls you an ‘asshole’, is that who you are? Who here has been called this at some point in their lives?”

Alex was the first to raise his hand, and most of the other students raised theirs. Awkward laughter spread through the circle.

Professor Mangal chuckled. “A peculiar insult: I see no large, naked behinds in this room and yet some people insist that is the best label for us. But, let me say this. Perhaps you are called an asshole in response to you doing something that you felt embarrassed about. And then you have this moment of: ‘maybe I am an asshole’. And for that moment, you feel like you are, despite this being a complete physiological impossibility. Why? Because you acknowledged it and entertained that word as being able to sum you up.”

Alex blinked, as he took in Professor Mangal’s words.

A disturbing thought struck him.

He had gone through hard times in his life, particularly where his parents’ death was concerned: he’d grown used to not dwelling on difficult situations, negative feelings, and terrible events in order to stay sane. It was the best way for him to keep a balanced state of mind.

When Theresa had introduced him to meditation, he’d expanded on not dwelling on things by expending less energy and focus on The Mark parading his own failures at him. He’d learned to acknowledge them, but then let them go.

What if he hadn’t had those coping abilities? He thought of what he was like before the fire that had ended his parents' lives: just a regular kid with regular insecurities and emotions who’d never really thought about mastering them.

The Fool would’ve been slamming his every failure into his head over and over whenever he tried to do something it didn’t want him to. The Alex that he was now could move on from thoughts like that as just memories.

But younger Alex? One less sure of himself who had less experience dealing and coping with harsh emotions so that they wouldn’t consume him?

He probably would’ve ended up seeing himself through a lens of failure. He might even see himself as nothing more than that: an endless stream of failures. His jaw tightened. How exactly did that fit with Uldar’s great plan?

“And so, in summoning, we respect the names that we acknowledge: said correctly and pronounced correctly. …but, here I am, going off onto a tangent, ah, yes, you have a question…?”

“Leilani,” said a petite woman. “I was thinking…can you not force something to acknowledge a name or title? If a ruler elevates you to noble status, then you have a title you are called by. If you are found to be a criminal, then you bear that label of ‘criminal’.”

“Ah yes, that is very true,” Professor Mangal sighed. “In life, we encounter many words that we are forced to acknowledge. ‘Widow’ and ‘orphan’ being some of them. But in summoning, the magic simply does not work that way. Think of it like this, if I call someone ‘widow!’ on the street, then most people—even widows—are not likely to turn around and assume that I am speaking to them in particular. It is the same in summoning: a name or label is useless if it is called and no one answers. But, we shall go into this in further detail later. Let us finish our rules, and then I have something to show you, and after we have completed our rules, then they will be our contract in the class. Contracts in summoning are nearly as important as names.”

Alex suddenly thought of Hobb and how he’d mentioned that he had a contract with Generasi; and how the shoggoth professor Jules had summoned had entered into a deal with her.

He was getting excited about learning more about that aspect…he thought back to names. Professor Mangal said that pronunciation was important.

It looked like he had even more reasons to focus on learning other languages using The Mark now.

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A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Summoning is my favourite school of magic.

It has been ever since the video game Summoner came out, and I played it...back...in...the year...2000.
...
...
If you'll excuse me, I'm off to go die from old age now, lol.

Seeya tomorrow from the old folks' home! 


Big thanks to all my readers—I appreciate each and every one of you—and a very special thanks to my patrons on my Patreon

If you want, I'd love it if you boosted me on Top Web Fiction through the following link.

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