Free Write Friday #9: Familiar Day

Most young mages use incredibly complex spells and extremely rare ingredients to summon their familiar. You just drew a circle and threw a bag of chips in it.

The main lecture hall of Merlin College was starting to fill up as Preston Cameron Morgan IV made his way up the narrow stairs to the back of the hall. Preston was a large young wizard who loved partying more than the serious study of magic. He was the third member of his family to be accepted to Merlin College and had become a fixture of the fraternity that both his grandfather and father had been members of: Alpha Beta Rho. He had eschewed the usual robes today and instead wore a large, ill-fitting t-shirt with the fraternity's symbol on it and it's motto in large friendly letter below it: "Abras Forever!"

With a huff and a puff he flung himself into his usual seat and began to settle himself into his chair when he noticed that his friend, Teddy was shifting in his seat and looked somewhat green. "Why you look so nervous, Teddy?" More and more witches and wizards were pouring into the hall chatting to each other and finding their seats as they waited for the Professor to arrive.

"It's Familiar Day."

"Actually," Preston let out a large, wet, juicy belch. "It's Thursday, my man. You know what that means?"

"What?"

Preston leaned over and whispered as loudly as he could to Teddy. "DRINK SPECIALS AFTER CLASS. Who's ready to get LIT?"

"Um, Preston," Teddy said. "It's Wednesday."

"No, it's not," Preston replied.

Teddy rotated the laptop he had perched on a thick, leather bound book labelled 'Practical Spells and Methusaleh's Guide to Familiars' and clicked on the calendar icon. After a moment, it loaded. "See? Wednesday?"

Preston looked a little ill. "Is it really the 23rd?"

"Yes."

"So, it's-"

"Familiar Day, yes,"

"And I have-" Preston reached into his bag and pulled out- "Fritos Flavor Twists, honey barbeque flavored."
"You didn't bring of your potions or spell books?"

"Dude," Preston said. "How long have you known me?"

"Three years now," Teddy replied.

"And have you ever known me to bring potions or spell books to class on a Thursday afternoon?"

"No."

"Because?"

Teddy sighed. "Drink specials after class," he said. "You gotta get... lit."

"Damn skippy!" Preston said.

"Well, your dedication to partying is impressive," Teddy said.

"Thanks, bro," Preston replied.

"So what are you gonna do?"

Preston shrugged. "Too late to run and get my stuff," he said. "I'll just have to wing it."

Teddy looked as though he was about to say something, but before he could, the Professor entered the room and expectant hush fell. Professor Archibald was a cantankerous old man who had a stare that could stop even the bravest of first year students in their tracks. He was a battle ax of a teacher, drowning them in homework and make all their lives a living hell. Despite that, every student who came out of his classes intact (more of a problem than one might think when it comes to incantations) all came to the realization that despite Archibald being a total and utter bastard of a professor, they had actually learned quite a lot and learned it well.

"All right," Archibald said into the silence. "It's Familiar Day. You should all know the drill and, more importantly, what to expect. Depending on the level of spell you perform, you could end up with anything from an animal to an imp or a sprite or a full grown demon as your familiar." He started pacing at the front of the lecture hall. "In all my years of teaching, I've yet to see any student get a fully grown demon as their familiar. I've seen a sprite or an imp now and again. But the majority of you are going to end up with animal familiars. It'll be your job to take care of them, bond with them and use them to enhance your powers."

He clapped his hands together and rubbed the palms vigorously, looking for a moment to be positively excited at the prospect. "Right. Any questions? No? Let's get started." He strode over to the lectern and looked down at his class list. "Ingrid Albertson."

Teddy and Preston watched as their classmates went up to the front of the stage, drew their spell circles and cast their incantations to summon their familiars. Ingrid got a barn owl. Trevor got a frog. Alistair got a cat. There were lizards, snakes, eagles, falcons, a wolf- something that everyone thought was going to be an imp, but turned out to be armadillo. Lisa Miller, a young witch whom Preston insisted on referring to as 'that blonde hottie' manage to summon a small blue imp who immediately leaped into her arms, much to the delight of Professor Archibald and then, finally, it was Preston's turn:

"Preston Morgan."

Preston made to get up, but Teddy reached out a grabbed him by the arm. "Wait a second," he said. He leaned over and dug in his bag for a moment before handing a piece of casting chalk to Preston. "Take this. It's my spare."

"Hey, thanks man," Preston said. He slipped the chalk into his pocket, grabbed his wand and the bag of Fritos and headed down the stairs and made his way to the stage. Professor Archibald fixed him with a disapproving glance. "Where are your potions, young man?"

"Don't need 'em, Prof," Preston said with more confidence than he felt. "Got some chips and my wand, right here."

"You realize," Professor Archibald said, "That failure to summon anything will result in you getting a F on this assignment which is worth 50% of your final grade."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Prof," Preston said. He knelt down and then set about drawing his incantation circle, slowly and deliberately and then, when he was done he stood up and made a careful examination of it, circling it once, checking for any breaks in the line. Then, satisfied with the circle, Preston planted his feet and drew his wand, holding the bag of chips in the other hand. He said the incantation in a loud clear voice and as he reached the climax of the incantation he pronounced the final words and then threw the bag of Fritos over the line and into the circle.

There was a blinding flash of green and then the room filled with a lurid yellow smoke. It cleared, revealing- gasps echoed throughout the room and even the expression of disgruntled disapproval that had marked Professor Archibald's face was gone. Now, he looked impressed. There, in the center of the circle, holding the bag of chips in his hands was a fully grown demon. It was pale blue with the usual horns, hoofed feet and a long, sinuous tale. It was also, as some of the students noticed immediately stark naked.

"Thanks," it rumbled and opened the chips. It reached in and delicately pulled out a Fritos Flavor Twist. "I was getting awfully hungry."

"You're welcome," said Preston. "Um, you're my familiar. Did you know that?"

The demon nodded. "Yep," he said. "Been a few centuries since I've had a human, so I'm probably due." He stood up and, still holding the back of chips in one hand extended his hand. "I'm Larkothemialanagalopoulous. But most humans just call me Lark for short."

Preston reached over the circle and shook the demon's hand. "Pleased to meet you, Lark. I'm Preston."

"Nice to meet you, Preston," the demon said. "Tell me, do humans still like...  oh what was it called. Beer?"

Preston grinned at the demon and brushed away the chalk incantation circle so that Lark could step over the line. "You know what, Lark? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

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