Sep 18, 2018 1:16 PM
bury me 'til i confess
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He doesn't see it coming.

One moment, like the millions of moments before it, he's bound in an empty tin a good three feet underground in the backyard of what must be his least favorite magician so far, cramped and bored out of his wits and planning his incredibly drawn-out and uncomfortable revenge on the woman who decided that this was such a great punishment.

The next, he feels – he would compare it to being slurped through a straw, but it's at least twice as weird as that and infinitely more freeing. His essence unfolds into the Other Place, and he luxuriates in the sensation. He's never been so glad to be home.

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But then there's the familiar, irresistible tug of a summoning dragging him back to Earth. 

He appears in a summoning circle, in front of a familiar magician. 

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Already? Seriously?

He strains against the call as long as he can, as it starts to sear his essence and strain his being, and then, defeated (and kind of pissed), he materializes as a spout of flame and a very unfriendly-looking pair of grasping hands, seeming to claw their way up from under the earth—

Wait. Fuck.

The hands abruptly and slightly sheepishly stop their clawing.

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"Are you ready to be obedient? Or do you need another five years?"

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That was only five years? It felt like ten or twenty, at least, but the magician doesn’t look that much older as far as he can tell...

With a great whoosh of hot wind and a flurry of (mostly illusory) sparks, the thing in the fiery pit twists and shapes itself into...

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...a carrion crow. The pit closes up beneath it.

(If you’re trying to look chastened but not defeated, it doesn’t hurt to appear as something smart, resourceful and less than a foot tall.)

“I beg your forgiveness,” it says, not very sincerely.

It takes the opportunity to surreptitiously scan the room.

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It's familiar. He's been here many times before.

The summoning circle is engraved in metal on the floor, making it impossible to accidentally scuff or break. The summoner's half encompasses her entire desk, which she sits at comfortably, meaning she will never accidentally stick a toe or finger over the barrier. 

The door to the rest of the house is closed and the curtains on the windows are drawn. Large bookshelves line the walls of the room and are filled with ancient and rare tomes.

 

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"As I'm sure you recall, Aflen was suitably punished despite your disobedience and has not been so unwise as to disobey again. However, a new djinn, Lelyth, has chosen to test my patience. You will torture her."

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The crow stares at her reproachfully.

djinni this time. She made it worse on purpose.

He wants nothing more than to tell her to shove it, but if how things went last time is any indication, that’s going to end up with him back in the tin and Lelyth — have they met before? he hopes not — just as tortured.

“...fine. How do you want it done.”

He just hopes he’ll be lucky enough that she pauses at the wrong time, or leaves a loophole somewhere.

He knows he won’t be.

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She recites the standard protections, without a single pause or misspoken word, and releases him from the circle.

"Follow me."

She leads him down to the basement. It's just as familiar as her office and just as full of sour memories. A mournful orb rests in the center of the room. It is the size of a small child and a djinn in the form of a bat huddles within, trying not to touch the sides. 

The pulls open a drawer and removes a tray. The silver implements on it are familiar. They've been used on him many times. The ends have all been wrapped in cloth, making it possible, though not comfortable, for a demon to hold them. 

"Use these."

She opens the orb. The demon inside does not run. There's no point.

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He changes form to that of a human girl, about 10 years old, with long stringy hair and dark eyes. He refuses to use a form he likes for this.

“I’m sorry.”

 

When he picks up one of the blades, it chills his hand deeply through the fabric. The fragile bones of the girl’s hand creak. He can’t even enjoy it.

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"Don't, please," Lelyth says in a small voice.

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“I’m sorry,” he says again, helplessly, as he kneels down next to her. He knows it doesn’t fix anything.

It’s the kind of thing you’d expect in a horror movie, a little demon girl with a silver knife cutting a bat to pieces.

He avoids her eyes, her ears, her mouth, her wings. It’s all he can really do for her.

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All the while his summoner watches with cold, distant eyes. 

Eventually she says, "enough."

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He drops the knife to the ground immediately and buries his face in his hands.

“Can I go?”

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"Temporarily. You will be summoned again tomorrow by my apprentice."

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The little girl flashes her an obscene gesture and vanishes.

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The next day he again feels the tug of a summoning and is dragged backed to Earth once again. He arrives in a different room this time, one without decorations or windows. The summoning circle is hand-drawn this time. 

His summoner stands across from him. He looks exhausted.

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The magician stands nearby, observing.

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A column of flickering orange-red mist, like embers suspended in midair, fills the circle. It appears to float out past the perimeter, catching the floor slowly alight, filling the air with the choking scent of smoke.

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His summoner doesn't flinch.

"Enough," he says softly. 

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“Aw, you’re no fun...”

The mist seems to withdraw into the pentacle, and a pair of milky eyes blink slowly open in midair—

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—at which point it all transfigures with a POP into a young, lean man with an abundance of piercings and no shirt to speak of.

“Not hard on the eyes, though, huh?” (It suddenly speaks with a distinct American accent.)

It lounges back in midair and stretches, its hands folding behind its head.

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When Kezizet transforms, his summoner looks him up and down. It's not obvious, only a brief flicker of the eyes, but definitely there. 

"I am going on expedition to the tombs of Atuan to search for ancient relics. You will accompany me and protect me from harm. You will notice that this summoning circle is unusual. It is a time-delayed sealing. If I fail to return to disable it, you will be sealed in a jar that is currently at the bottom of the English canal."

He says this calmly, without inflection, but there is a slight twist in his expression as he finishes the threat.

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He notes the look, and the corresponding change in aura. That should be useful. And fun.

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"Return within a month if you do not wish to be replaced," the magician says and departs. 

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