The sun shines upon the land as it rises from the eastern horizon, heralding the dawn of a new day. Warm golden light greets the farmers, had just woken up to begin working on the fields, and guards, who stayed vigilant since the night. In the middle of an open field, the citadel that is the Tristain Academy of Magic gleamed under the morning sun as sunlight reflected off the smooth stones that made up the towers and walls.
Outside the academy walls is the small town of Amiens located near the academy. Amiens was founded after the expansion of the academy to accommodate new facilities, and served primarily to provide accommodations for various academy staff and personnel. The town has grown over the years and is now a thriving hub that benefited the academy greatly. As the sun continues to rise, the denizens of the academy and the town starts to arise from their slumber.
Louise starts stirring under the blanket as she felt the warm sunlight radiating on to her. She groans lightly while pulling the blanket off her face. She then blinks her eyes before rubbing the sand off her eyes. She then sits up from her bed revealing her long strawberry blond hair before yawning. She pulls the blanket off her and sets it aside before getting off the bed.
She wore a long white nightgown reaching down to her knees. She has slim figure which fits perfectly with her small breasts and posterior. Her wavy strawberry blonde hair is long enough to reach down to her waists and covered her entire back. While she isn't what most would see as alluring but she does have a nice figure which she gained after adolescence.
She stretches out her arms upward to remove some tension off her body before walking towards the washstand, beside the nightstand, where a basin bowl and a pitcher made of white porcelain. She removes the lid off the pitcher and then poured clean water into the bowl before setting it aside. She then washes her face for less than a minute before wiping her face off with a towel hanging by the washstand. She places the towel down after she's done and heads towards her dresser before sitting down by the chair.
She took a few moments of checking herself on the mirror before grabbing for the hairbrush and start combing her hair. She looked to her left to check the calendar and then frowned as she saw what the date it is, or rather the date next to it. The dreaded time of the year that has the power to seal one's fate and their future.
The Day of Spring Summoning Ceremony.
Uuughh! Louise mentally groaned. She completely forgot about this particular day but through it would be have been better if she didn't. She sighed as she had decided it's not worth to brood over it now. It's been a few years since that dreadful day, and things had gone better after becoming a fully pledged Rune Arcanist.
She slumped into the chair as she contemplated her life. She looked around the condominium unit which she had acquired with the salary she earned from her work at the academy and from her commissions. It's a bit smaller than her own room back home but it's all hers an added benefit that the building has its own housekeeping services. She made a good living and got herself some few luxuries she wanted. She sighed as she can't do anything about it anymore. She checked the pendulum clock hanging on the wall to her right and saw that she got less than two hours before work. She got off her chair and began preparing for the day, starting with taking a bath.
Louise finished buttoning up her top while standing front of the dresser mirror. She wore a lavender dress shirt and black knee-long skirt which matches her slim figure. She checked her reflection for a few moments and then nodded, satisfied with her looks. She then checked her room, having fixed it up earlier, to see if she missed anything. Seeing none, she took her violet robe off the coat rack and wore it over her before leaving through the door.
She entered the hallway upon exiting her unit and then locked the door behind her. The hallway has light cream walls lined with doors, such as hers, and sunstone lamps, providing light, and smooth stone flooring. It has some elegance to it, despite its utilitarian design, but it's pleasing enough to the eye. She greeted the some of the other owners along the way as she headed towards the staircase. It took her few short minutes to go down to the ground floor and into the main lobby. She quickly exited the building through the double door that is the main entrance and into the main street.
The street is already busy even this early. The horses-drawn carriages, carrying cargo and passengers, are already moving on both lanes of the street, and pedestrians moving along the sidewalks on both sides. Louise turned to her left and saw the tall towers of the Academy rising above the roofs. She straightened her coat and then started walking towards the Academy.
Tristain Academy of Magic
It's about to be that time of the year again. Professor Colbert thought as he looked around his personal laboratory.
The lab is around the size of an ordinary house, made of smooth stones, and wide open inside. His personal office built into one corner while the rest of the space is occupied by various tools and machines. It's not as big and expansive as the main laboratories built outside the Academy walls along with other short block buildings. They were relatively new addition to the Academy proper and very young when compared to the Academy's main towers and walls, less than a generation ago.
The new expansion was designed to accommodate the development of magic and industry, and regulate them for safe and sustainable development which would then benefit the kingdom as a whole. But so far the new office of the Academy made very few advancements in magic, and mostly enforced regulations on industrial development. This saddened him as he saw the new office wasting away opportunities, and he tried to change that, with little success.
Colbert heard a knock on the main doorway, he turned to see Louise opening the door into the lab and greeted her.
"Good morning, Miss Valliere."
"Good morning, Professor." Louise greeted bit solemnly, quickly alerting Colbert.
"Is everything alright?" Colbert asked a bit concerned for her. Louise quickly shook her head and replied.
"No. No… I'm alright, Professor." Louse sighed a bit before composing herself. "What project would we be working on today, Professor?" She asked as she looked around the laboratory.
There are a number of worktables with trinkets over them around the lab floor where the professor's various projects are set. She then spotted one worktable where a box with cylinders that burns oil which. She assisted the professor on that one primarily in making the proper enchantments to support the flames inside. She didn't see much value on that machine since the Thaumic Motor works better and less dangerous, not to mention less loud.
"None for today, Miss Valliere." The professor told her. "And I will be working with Mr. Konstantin tonight on another project."
"Oh." Louise simply uttered, her mood plummeted. "I suppose I can work back on my research and get some work done back in my own office." Louise decided.
"Oh! Before I forgot." Colbert suddenly said. "The Headmaster told me to tell you for you to meet him in his office."
Louise perked at that and speculated what the Headmaster wanted with her. "Did he say what it is for?"
"No, he didn't." Colbert shook his head. "He said that he will only tell it to you directly and it's important."
"I see." Louise replied with a nod. "Should I help with your research again later, Professor?"
Colbert shook his head. "No need for that, Miss Valliere. I'll be mostly doing calculations and theorizing later."
"Thank you, Professor. I'll see you tomorrow then." Louise thanked him to which Colbert nodded back. She then exited laboratory through the door she entered earlier. As soon as she left, Colbert headed for the furnace engine that Louise took notice earlier and started tinkering with it.
Louise passed through the Vestry Gate and nodded to the two Academy guards in their posts. The Vestry Courtyard is already filled with a class of students who are enjoying their time interacting with their familiars. She felt her heart grow heavy as her memory of that day threatened to rear its head, and quickly shook her head to remove it out of her thoughts. She looked away and quickly walked into the main tower before someone else sees her.
But a certain pair derailed Louise's attempt of invisibility.
"Hellooo..!" Louise flinched as heard someone greeting her in a singsong, and it comes from the most irritating person she had ever met. She looked behind her and saw Kirche and Tabitha walking up to her.
"What are you two doing here?" Louise nearly shouted in alarm. She hasn't seen the pair in years, nor any of her former classmates after they all graduated from the Academy. Now, of all time, SHE suddenly made her presence. I don't have time for this! She mentally shouted.
Kirche wore tight-fitting fiery red single-piece dress with her cleavage showing and side slits extending up to her thighs, and a velvet coat all over. She
"Why? Can't we visit our alma matter from time to time?" Kirche replied as she placed one hand on her hips and smiled a little. Beside her, Tabitha continued reading a book as usual and ignoring her red headed friend.
"If it's Tabitha, I can understand." Louise gestured at Tabitha who continued reading. "But you?" She bemoaned as she pointed at Kirche. "You're likely here to play your little games here!"
"Oh?" Kirche raised an eyebrow at Louise's comment. "Why Louise… You wound me for thinking such of my noble intentions." She replied with mock pain.
"Louise's right." Tabitha flatly told her as she flipped a page. Kirche irked at Tabitha's jab at her.
"Oh well. You got me… My alluring plans are foiled…" Kirche said while acting sorrowfully as she placed the back of her hand over her head and posed sensually with her one of her legs exposed and her breasts prominent poised. The boys, attracted to Kirche's theatrics, at a short distance from the trio ooooh -ed and drooling at Kirche's figure.
"Uuugghh!" Louise groaned loudly as she threw her hands up in the air in surrender. She hurriedly entered the main tower while grumbling something about intolerable succubus.
Kirche, now standing normally, watched Louise entered the main door, wondering what to do with her. She looked at Tabitha and asked. "Should we follow her?"
Tabitha lightly shrugged at Kirche's question without looking up from her book and then flipped a page.
"Ok! Let's go see what little Louise is up to!" Kirche happily said as she ran into the main tower, much to the despair of boys. Tabitha calmly followed the red head into the tower.
Headmaster Osmond is enjoying the peace and quiet in his office while watching the view through the expansive window behind his office table with his favorite pipe clutched in his right hand. He sucks in from the pipe before slowly blowing the tobacco smoke out into the air. He let the smooth sensation flow through him and helps him relax. He suddenly feels his pipe tugging in his hand for a few moments before breaking free and floats away from him. He strokes his long white beard as he calmly addresses the person responsible.
"You know, Miss Longueville. It's cruel to deny an old man his few pleasures in life especially someone my age."
The pipe floats towards the other table in the room and lands on one side. Sitting behind it, Miss Longueville, the Headmaster's secretary, puts her wand back in its holster on her waist. She picks up her quill and return to writing on the paper as she replies.
"It's also my job to look after your health, Headmaster. Especially for someone your age."
"Oh so cruel." Osmond mumbled in defeat as he turned his seat around to face his large finely carved office desk. There are no papers that needed his attention. Thank Brimir for that. There are only a few trinkets on it like a short sunstone lamp on the right side, a journal, his ink and quill, and a small elegant clock.
So much has changed. He thought as he recalled when the expansion to the academy is still being planned out and its purpose. He remembered when the Amiens was merely a collection of small buildings and dormitories surrounded by its own wall. He remembered many things before this industrial dawn happened. No one even noticed it until it's already there. I'm getting too old for this. A man living in the past. He thought solemnly.
He then felt something clutching his long gray robe. He looked down and smiled as saw his white mouse familiar climbing up his robe before it finally settles on his shoulder.
"Ah! Motsognir!" Osmond happily greeted his familiar. He then quietly asked the mouse. "How's your quest?"
The mouse started speaking in a series of squeaks and chirps as it relayed its findings to its master. Osmond gleefully remembered every detail.
"Ooohh… Miss Longueville wears white today." Osmond commented not as quietly as he fished out a small piece of cheese. He then gave it to Motsognir who then eagerly accepted and started munching its sweet reward.
Miss Longueville on the other hand was both startled and embarrassed as the mouse got a peek under her skirt, and quickly closed her legs very tightly. She angrily glared at the old man who acted that he didn't see the burning look she is directly at him.
"But black definitely looks better on her. Am I right, Motsognir?" Osmond happily stated with the white mouse nodding its little head. This comment promptly made Longueville to erupt in fury which made the older man flinch in fear. The green-headed secretary was about to enact her fury when they heard someone knocking. The two, three if counting Motsognir, composed themselves before Osmond called out.
The door opened and Louise poked her head through the opening. "You asked for my presence, Headmaster?" Louise then asked.
Osmond quickly recalled why he called Louise to his office for and immediately motioned for her to enter. "Yes I did, Miss Valliere. I have an important news for you."
Louise perked at that statement and nodded. She entered the office and then closed the door behind her. Osmond gestured to the one of the two seats set before his table. Louise quickly sat on the offered table and waited for his news.
"A colleague of mine heard about your… dilemma. For that, he had sent a gift for you." Osmond told her as he retrieved a scroll, enclosed in a wooden tube, from one of the drawers of his desk. He then smiled as he placed the tome on the table. "This here is a special ritual and its instructions that allows a person to summon a familiar."
"What? But I failed to summon anything from any of my attempts." Louise said, doubtful that the tome would be of any help. She had performed the summoning ritual, albeit outside of the Academy and Amiens, but all resulted in explosions.
"True, but this ritual is much more elaborate and required specific runes to perform the summoning." Osmond replied as he pushed the scroll closer to Louise. "He said that this ritual will allow a mage to summon beings from further reaches. You did heard news of other houses summoning interesting trinkets?"
Louise nodded at that as she did heard a few instances about those strange things some mages summoned in their attempts.
"This is a similar thing but re-designed and specialized for familiar summoning, and best of all, the design can be adjusted to the user's specifics as long as the core remains the same." Osmond continued. "I want you to study the ritual and see what you can add to this. After that, you can perform it at the familiar summoning tomorrow once the students finished their turn."
Louise looks at the scroll and contemplates about the offer. She had already given up on summoning a familiar since her last attempt, while working to be a Rune Arcanist. But this is a gift from someone who wanted to help her, and she has nothing to lose at this point. She picks up the scroll, finding it a bit heavy, and places it on her lap.
"Thank you, Headmaster. I'll study this as soon as I can. And please give my thanks to this colleague of yours." Louise gratefully said.
Osmond nodded and replied. "I will, Miss Louise. Now go, and work on this. I have great hope that this will go in your favor."
Louise nodded and thanked him again. She stood up and proceeded to leave the office, leaving the headmaster and the secretary alone again.
"Do you think she will succeed?" Miss Longueville asked Osmond, concerned about Louise.
"I do hope so. I've studied the contents of the scroll before giving it to Miss Valliere." Osmond replied as he recalled the rather expansive content of the scroll. It contained wholly different way of summoning which baffled even him, as expected of his friend. "Miss Valliere is a protégé and I have no doubt she will be adding a few adjustments to the ritual. She's the best in her field, and can potentially be a powerful mage in addition to her mastery of runes."
"Well… Hope for the best I guess." Miss Longueville commented and then returned to the documents she is working on.
Louise stands in the corridor outside the Headmaster's office, clutching the scroll in her arms, and trembles as conflicting emotions rages within her. She should be happy that she is given an opportunity to finally be free of the weight she had been carrying, but she is afraid of the consequences if it too, like the others, failed.
She forced herself to calm down and steeled herself as she cleared her thoughts.
I will not waste this opportunity. And I will not wallow in fear for something that has long passed. Louise mentally said to herself. She then walked towards the staircase with the library being her first destination for the day, unaware of the two figures watching her descending fire while hiding by the wall behind her.
As you can see, this chapter is mostly to build up this alternate universe I've made and not much happening here. I've set Halkeginia in what can be described as during the dawn of the Industrial Age. When the tools and machines are still being made that will pave way to our own IRL Industrial Revolution. I do hope you all like what I have here.
I'm open to suggestions for the story and what changes to the canon events, or others, you have in mind.