A/N: This story's origin comes from a type of tale whose examples include 'The Black School,' from Iceland, and 'Black Airt,' from Scotland.


Zaemund and the Dark School

There was once in a far-off cavern a mighty school of wizardry, whose name was whispered in many drow cities. Many were those who learned at other schools of magic, but this Dark School took rarer pupils. Those drow with great gifts went there, and learned arts of magic and ancient lore known by few others.

The students studied together, and were held within the walls of their Dark School for all the years of their learning, never straying outside or sending word home to their kin. They ate together, and mage-crafted hands brought them their food and took away empty trays, for no servants lived within this silent school.

Most wizards require some candle or other to read their tomes, but the students lived ever in darkness; the books from which they learned were written in fiery letters that needed no other light to be seen.

It was a place of great knowledge, but there was danger also, for one rule there was that the last student to leave in every graduating year would be seized and kept by the master of the school, as the price of the knowledge bestowed upon all of the students. It was whispered, too, that the students taken were given to a demon with whom the school's master had made a pact. There was, consequently, much plotting and rushing at the end of each year, each student doing their best not to be the last.

One student there, Zaemund, a clever and studious young drow, thought long and hard about the matter. He knew it was likely enough that the others would seek to make him the last, for they were jealous of how much he had learned, and how easily new spells came to him.

At last he resolved that it was better to choose the inevitable course, and in choosing turn it to his liking, rather than to be forced to that fate and lose all choice. He made merry in their last days there, and told the other students that he did not believe there was any demon at all. Surely, he claimed, the last student was kept only so that the Dark School might always have new teachers. He professed himself eager for the advanced lore he might be given in such a case.

The other students, certain of the demon's existence, thought him foolish, but said nothing. If he was so willing to remain, it was all the better for them, after all; they would leave safely.

Finally, the time came to leave, and all of the other students hurried forth, glad to be out. Close behind them came Zaemund – and close behind him came something else.

Zaemund glanced back over his shoulder, and saw a patch of deeper darkness, lit only faintly by a pair of glowing eyes. He knew, then, for certain, that the demon was real and had come for him.

"You are mine," it growled, reaching for him.

Swiftly, Zaemund cast a spell of light before him. "I am not the last," he cried, pointing to the wall. "See, there is the last!"

The demon reached to grab at the figure upon the wall, and Zaemund fled, leaving the thing to grasp his shadow if it could.

Zaemund became known far and wide for his cleverness and his mighty spells, becoming a powerful and skilled wizard. In the dark, he seemed as any other drow. But whenever any light fell upon him, the truth became known; he had no shadow ever after, for what the fiendish powers take, they keep.