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Lightning Letter

The Student News Site of Legacy High School

Lightning Letter

The Student News Site of Legacy High School

Lightning Letter

Unfound Knowledge [Pt 1]

Lavender Axolotl, found via Medium
Lavender Axolotl, found via Medium

Everyone has a familiar nowadays. As soon as the summoning ritual was discovered, refined, and then released to the public, everyone used it. And I mean everyone. Your son? Sure. Your best friend of 5 years? Definitely. That random drunk off of 5th Avenue who harasses the city guards? Almost certainly. And oh boy, the things they’ve summoned.

There aren’t exactly.. categories to the summons. Sure, some familiars are rarer than others, but at most, they’re just classified by their type. On their first use of the summon, most people will summon something simple. Something common. Like a house cat, or maybe a bird, possibly a dog, which are 3 of the most prevalent familiars you might find amongst the populace. Of course, though, there are people who get lucky. Such as Lars Dumein. 

Now, y’see, funny thing about Lars. His family is powerful. So powerful in fact, that they’re often regarded as one of the most magically blessed families in the surrounding 5 provinces, including ours. He of course managed to summon one of the most well-respected creatures commonly known. A dragon. A fang dragon at that, which are widely considered to be some of the best familiars for combat. His whole family expects him to be a great warrior someday. And you’d expect that with that great power comes great responsibility, right? Hell no, he’s an asshat. And, pardon my fowl language, featherless biped.

And then there’s me. Your average person. Average height, average voice, average job… The most remarkable thing about me is that I have gray eyes. While everyone at the Stonewall Magic Academy was summoning wolves, bears, hydras, and other powerful or well-known creatures, I summoned a fish. Well, not a fish I guess, but a salamander. An axolotl. Y’know, pink, small-eyed, frills, a species that only lives in a hyper-specific environment? Yeah, that one.

The summoning ritual was.. strange for me, to say the least. First of all, I did it with limited materials. Rather than having an excess of the needed ingredients for the ritual which is recommended, I had to make due with just under the required amount. Honestly, I’m surprised it even worked! I had the copper shavings, the ironwood, the magestone, etc. It was just all in slightly lower amounts. 

And then there’s the problem that the ritual was performed after I’d just taken two all-nighters in a row, so of course I messed up the order. It goes copper first, magestone second, ironwood third, and then you put in whatever curse words and hexes that you want! (P.S. The more confusing words you put in, the better the results strangely enough. Seems to increase the bond you’ll have with your familiar. Ask Grandmage Lorain if you want more info.)

I put the ingredients in the wrong order, like some sort of 7-year-old, except even a 7-year-old could do it better! Oh, and I can’t forget, I did the ritual at the wrong time too. Rather than start at noon like you’re supposed to, I instead started at midnight! Midnight of all times, which is known to cause the familiars to go on a rampage if summoned at the hour!

I was lucky all I summoned was an axolotl, or else much more than my favorite soup bowl would have been destroyed.. Although now I’m almost certainly going to get a bad assessment on the assignment. The teachers at Stonewall are very particular about the rituals, because last time someone messed up—and this is just word of mouth, keep in mind—the

local park got burned to the ground. I’m not sure how it happened, but some of the other students have theorized that they summoned an archfiend.

As soon as the ritual was completed, my newfound familiar landed on my kitchen table with a wet slap. And it screamed. I don’t know how, or more importantly why, but it screamed. Not in pain, no, but in.. rage? Don’t ask. As with all familiars, I’m the only one that can understand it without the use of specialized magic, so I was immediately subjected to a wide variety of obscenities; some not even your mother could come up with. From what little I was able to make out, it goes by the name of “Aldas’hara, Destroyer of the 7 Cosmic Seas.” I’m not even sure what gender it is, so.. It just exists, screaming into my ears every time I so much as look at it wrong.

At the time, I was very much confused. After all, I was expecting to get something like a cat, maybe a hawk if I was a bit lucky. Certainly not a dragon like Lars, but not this either. Aldas, as I’ve resorted to calling it, was very confusing to me at first. After all, I’ve lived in Arythin my whole life. Never left the city, with the largest body of water I’ve seen being the lake to the south. I’d never seen an axolotl, so much as heard about them. So when Aldas landed in my decorative bowl, I was both confused and then very pissed.

The bowl shattered as soon as it made contact, the surprisingly large axolotl breaking said bowl under its weight. And then came the sounds. Glass shattering, psychic screaming, my own confused exclamations.. It was overwhelming. So, I passed out. Right then and there. No fanfare, no special effects, just bam, on the floor. I woke up a few hours later, to a rather painful headache, and a seemingly peeved axolotl sitting on my table.

It stared at me, watching me, my every move. I stood up, staring at it for a moment, before speaking.

“..So. You’re.. my familiar? Whatever you are?” I said, staring at the strange creature. This, much to my dismay, was immediately met with a psychic blast straight to the mind, causing me to grimace in pain.

No, I am Aldas’hara, Destroyer of the 7 Cosmic seas, your overlord,” came the response, “Now bow to me mortal, lest you face death.

I, of course, being a mortal human being with the intelligence of a rock, grabbed the salamander in my hand and tossed it into my nearby fish tank with extreme prejudice. It let out an angered screech, cursing me out with language that not even the most foul of the gods would want to comprehend. I was lucky I hadn’t made a deal yet. I slammed the lid shut, muttering under my breath.

“Shut up, you,” I grumbled, with as much malice as a confused 17-year-old could muster.

This, much to my bewilderment, actually worked. Aldas immediately went silent, seemingly trying to speak but unable. Now, this wasn’t known to me at the time, but when you summon a familiar, you gain a special bond with them. Depending on the nature of the creature and the summoning, the more you are able to do. I, in my sleep-deprived state, had slurred the words of the ritual to the point it barely sounded comprehensible. This increased my control over my familiar immensely, hence the current situation. 

I sighed, collapsing down into a nearby dining room chair, and stared at the tank. Aldas kept repeatedly bumping against the glass, opening and closing its mouth repeatedly. I could only presume it was psychically shouting more obscenities at me. We sat like that for a while, me watching the tank in bewildered silence, Aldas hitting the glass in a futile attempt to rage against me… It was nice. You could even say it was a bonding experience, eldritch axolotl familiar or not.

Eventually, the moment came to an end. I decided to open up my mind to Aldas again, just to see what it had to say, if anything. I regretted this action immediately. Incomprehensible knowledge and screaming immediately forced its way into my mind, seemingly emanating from this strange, damp creature. Secrets that most mages wouldn’t even dream of knowing. The most depraved thoughts known to the land. The eldritch horrors beyond comprehension that exist at the universe’s edges. The all-consuming greed or want for a peanut butter sandwich.

At that moment in time, throughout all of the confusion, screaming, and inevitable damnation of my soul, the bond was sealed. A pact was made, of sorts. A mutual relationship even, if you could call it that. Cosmic axolotl and human. Neither of us agreed to this pact, but here we were, knowing it was made. All because I messed up a summoning ritual for a normal familiar.

“..Damn it.”

“..Damn it indeed.

I could feel myself slowly losing my grip on reality because of my newly gained knowledge and yet gaining the ability to use and process said knowledge at the same time. My mind was changing, shifting, breaking into one thousand pieces, and reforming over and over again. It was weird and kind of painful. Sort of like millions of pins and needles, except located entirely within your brain and around 3x worse. To say the least, it felt very uncomfortable. Yeah, strange right? Familiar pacts don’t usually cause that sort of thing, but as you can already tell, this is no ordinary familiar pact.

Eventually, the changes stopped, my vision clearing from its blurred state and I could see the world anew. Or at least, what I think, is the world. Everything was more… vibrant. Brighter. Filled with stars. Strange spirits floating about, many of which I wouldn’t even dare describe. For a moment, I was amazed. Confused sure, but amazed. After all, this wasn’t the sort of thing you expect to see every day, is it? And due to misfortune or fate, I, in all of my glory.. passed out. Yep, right to the floor. No fanfare, just THUNK– on the floor.

I woke up a few hours later, still on the kitchen floor, sunlight now streaming through the windows. Aldas was still in the fish tank, so I didn’t have to worry about that. I did however have an absolutely horrid headache. Still do, in all honesty. Itś been with me for a while now. I picked myself up from the floor with a groan, dusting myself off as I did so.
“..Hhhrrnng.. Oww..” I groaned, rubbing my forehead as I stood.

Welcome to the morning, mortal. How was your spirit-sight induced resting period?”, came the response from Aldas.

“..Screw off..”

Looking around, nothing had changed, except for.. Well.. Everything I’d seen last night was still there. And watching me. The easiest way to describe my expression at the time is as such: the face you make when the afterlife reveals its existence to you. But strangely enough, I felt calm in their presence. They were comforting. Of course, this was besides the new knowledge I suddenly had due to the events of last night, but for the most part I felt fine. And so, after cleaning myself up with a new change of clothes and a bout of personal hygiene care, I thought about what to do with Aldas. It’s my familiar, and it’s customary to keep your familiar with you while you’re out and about in the city.

After some deliberation, I decided to get the smaller fish bowl I have, put some water in it, put the axolotl in that, and then cap the bowl off with a screw-on lid. And before you say something along the lines of “Shouldn’t you be more concerned about passing out?” My answer to you is the following: I need to go to the academy, it’s a school day after all, and I have work to do. Summoning a familiar was an assignment, a graded one at that.

I sigh, picking up my backpack and moving out the door of my house. I live alone, so there wasn’t anyone to bother me about whether I’m healthy or if I’ve had breakfast. Even better, the area of town I live in is… interesting, to say the least. I know the Northwood block is known for being cursed, with all sorts of magical experiments going wrong… But hey, the rent is cheap! Anyways, I went on my daily journey to the academy, taking two left turns, a right, spinning around in a circle three times.. oh, and don’t forget to wave at the North Northeast corner sign on Adelaid Street. I don’t want to repeat that mistake again. (And trust me, you don’t either. That statue is downright creepy.) 

As I walked, I got a few looks due to my rather… unusual situation. I’m carrying an axolotl, in a fishbowl, down a busy city street. Said axolotl is glaring at everyone else who so much as looked at it wrong. There was even a small circle of space around me as I walked down the street, with people near constantly moving out of my way. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I even saw some people cringe in pain as they walked by… Maybe they just had a bad headache, who knows? I can certainly relate, that’s for sure. Anyway, I continued down the winding streets of Evarlowe, crisscrossing on the sidewalks as I went.

It was a 20-minute walk or so until I arrived at the academy, upon which it sort of.. came out of nowhere. Literally. That’s how the building functions. You turn a corner and it’s just there. Like it just came out of the ground, fully formed of stone and brick. Stonewall is quite the architectural feat. Mystical arches and walls, sturdy brick towers, everything. The gardens surrounding the building are majestic as well, with all sorts of magical plants or alchemical ingredients being grown by the students.

I was stuck admiring the building as always, walking along the pathways when I bumped into someone. They were taller than me and rather well-built; it felt like running into a brick wall.

“Sorry, sorry, I was spacing out-,” I tried to say, backing up slightly and looking up at whomever I’d managed to hit in my somewhat delirious state. As I looked up, however, I was both annoyed and somewhat afraid to find him. Lars Dumein. Y’know, the one I mentioned earlier? Blonde, tall, super powerful family, the whole 10 miles? Summoned a dragon? Yeah, him.

I immediately paled, taking a deep breath and steadying myself. He’s well known for being quite the pantless loudmouth to anyone who so much as looks at him wrong.

“Well if it isn’t Immori, the local homunculus,” he said as he turned around. Of course, he was calling me that… It’s not my fault I’m shorter than the average person in Aethavell!  God I wanted to punch him so bad, but I knew I’d be absolutely destroyed if I so much as scuffed his shirt. So, I resorted to verbal insults.

“Well if it isn’t Stonewall’s Barathus,” I reply flatly, staring up at his infuriating face. For reference, a Barathus is a particularly ugly species of fish, which is known for being an invasive species in literally every part of the world.

Upon hearing this, his face immediately soured, and I felt a baleful glare directed at me as I attempted to walk away. Unluckily for me, however, I immediately felt something yanking me back by the collar of my shirt. I barely managed to hold onto the fish tank Aldas was in, the water sloshing around violently within. I was turned around to face Lars once again.

Listen here you little-” he growled, holding me up to his eye level, which was at least a foot off of the ground. The obscenities are implied of course. His draconic familiar also made itself known, appearing behind him in a swirling burst of flame, its towering form and steel-plate-like scales glinting in the sunlight. Hellfire red eyes blazed holes into me, piercing pupils staring me down.

“Say that to my face, one more time.”

“Fine,” I said dismissively, trying to hide my anxiety and fear over my current situation. I am absolutely not able to fight him. “You’re the Stonewall Magic Academy equivalent of a Barathus, the invasive species of abomination that dares to grace the land.”

Lars stood for a moment, processing this. It took him a moment, my words worming their way through the muddled sewer muck and grease that made up his disgrace of a mind. But as soon as the impact landed, it landed hard. Blood rushed to his face, and I swear you could hear the steam screaming its way out of his ears. His familiar, Braxus, stepped forward as well, growling as it circled me and Aldas. I could feel the heat of its internal flames licking at my skin as if it was just waiting for the chance to burn me to a crisp.

I watched as Lars reared his fist back, preparing to slam it into my face—no doubt intending to kill me—but throughout this entire experience, I was somehow.. calm. Perfectly calm. No fear, no anger, no terror, nothing. It was as if any fear response had been drained from my body; or perhaps I had already come to terms with my inevitable death. But then I heard a familiar voice, tickling the back of my mind. It was Aldas.

..Tell him,” it said. “..Curse him, let the dead have their fun.

[To Be Continued..]

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Rowan Eagar
Rowan Eagar, Writer
Hello there! My name is Rowan Eagar, and I am a writer for the Legacy Lightning Letter as of the 2023-2024 school year. I primarily focus on fiction of various genres, though I enjoy writing science fiction and fantasy the most. I have a deep interest in all things microbiology, fiction, and games. I play & DM D&D in particular, though I am looking into other TTRPGs such as LANCER and City of Mist. If you'd like to contact me, email is best. You'll also be able to find me in the local Tabletop Gaming Club, and the local FBLA chapter.
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