Author's Note: This one is a crossover with a very-little known universe, if anyone other than my beta recognizes it, I'll be shocked.
The spell-ritual completed, and with an ear-shattering explosion, the familiar of Louise Francoise de lad Blanc de la Valliere arrived, wreathed in fire and smoke.
"And stay dead this time, you bastard!"
The voice was that of a young man, though the smoke obscured him. With a gesture, Professor Colbert, the teacher overseeing the summoning rites, summoned a gust of wind, rapidly clearing the smoke. As the smoke cleared, an armored man became visible, rising from a crouch, and turning to examine the world around him. At his feet, was the corpse of another armored man, the first man's sword still stuck through his chest, blood rapidly pooling on the flagstones. The standing man was helmetless, with lightly tanned skin, dark, shaggy hair, and light eyes; his armor took the form of light plate-mail, of obviously masterful craftsmanship, and designed to provide as much coverage as possible without impeding mobility in any way.
The corpse, on the other hand, was covered in heavy plate, designed to maximize protection with reasonable allowance for mobility, and not exposing a single inch of flesh. As the first man's sword had been driven through the second's heart, it apparently had not been a wise exchange to make.
"Who summoned me?" The living man demanded, jerking his sword free of the corpse's chest with a squelch while he surveyed the crowd of surrounding students.
The vast majority of the students were trapped in stupefied shock, except for a buxom redhead, who looked a little green, and a slip of a girl with, of all things, blue hair, who was backed by a Dragon and appeared completely unaffected by his appearance. Eventually, his eyes came to rest on Colbert, who he examined in more detail.
"You then," He said, stepping up to the professor, bloody blade held in one hand, point-down, present but not immediately threatening, "You're the only one here with the look of a warrior about you."
Colbert realized rather abruptly that he was holding his staff as a weapon, rather than a walking aid, his stance having shifted instinctively on the sight of a corpse and a bloody blade.
"Actually," Colbert said wryly, "I am simply overseeing the summoning rites. Miss Valliere," He gestured towards the small pink-haired girl, "Is the one who summoned you."
The swordsman turned and faced Louise, intense gaze examining her in more detail this time. As the sole recipient of his attention, the girl suddenly found herself quite able to shrug off her shock, and returned the man's gaze, scowling up at him. He moved closer to her, for a more detailed inspection, and she scowled even more, as she realized he was a full foot taller than her, and she had to crane her neck to meet her gaze.
"Late adolescent," He suddenly said, "Estimated age sixteen to nineteen, no combat awareness, no warrior's scars, rigid posture indicative of both internal and external discipline, aggressive temperament. You are neither a warrior nor a soldier, judging by the locale and others, you are a student of magic. Why do you summon a Knight Errant?"
A small murmur ran through the crowd of students as the man identified himself as a Knight. Most of them had enough of history to recognize the title as a precursor to the title of Chevalier, a title that could only be earned, not inherited. And the handful of people who had ever earned such a title and not already been nobility, had been ferociously skilled warriors.
"Don't be ridiculous!" Louise said sharply, "I did not specifically choose to summon you as a familiar, the summoning rite simply collects the most suited creature!"
The man stepped back from her immediate personal space, and surveyed the surrounding crowd again, this time paying more attention to the creatures each child held with them. He noted that every single student present was accompanied by some sort of creature or another, most small enough to be carried, but a few, such as the Dragon, giant mole, and flame-tailed lizard, were too large to be held easily. In the case of the Dragon, it was easily large enough to carry a few people itself.
"A familiar, eh?" The Knight said, turning to face Louise again, "Sorry, but I'm in the middle of a small war, and don't have the time." He turned to Colbert before continuing, "Now, if you'd just send me back?"
"Ah," The older mage said, slightly sheepishly, "Unfortunately, there is no known reversal of the familiar summoning spell."
"Really," The Knight said, eyes narrowing as his gaze turned to a glare.
"Really," Colbert said, "You see, there's never been any need to return a familiar before, prior to your appearance, all summoned familiars have been common or magical beasts."
"Really," The Knight said again, turning to survey the students and their familiars again, specifically making eye contact with the Dragon, before turning to face Colbert again, "I'm less than amused."
For several long moments, there was silence in the summoning court, as no one was quite sure what to say, and the tension between the professor and the Knight unnerved most of the students.
"I'm sorry, Mister…?" Colbert said.
"Joshua N'bara," He said sharply, "Of the Imminent Rebuke. Rank, Captain, service number IR-272-867-2491. Dragon-Blooded Knight Errant of House Gorge. And you are?"
"Jean Colbert, The Flame Snake," The professor said, "Lieutenant of the Royal Griffon Knights, retired, currently Professor at the Tristain Academy of Magic."
Most of the students eyes widened; they had not known that their seemingly-harmless professor had served in the Griffon Knights, much less as an officer.
"So tell me, Professor Colbert," Joshua said, "What exactly does being a familiar entail in this culture?"
"Er," Colbert said, mentally switching gears, "Usually, a familiar is mostly a favored pet, depending on what type of creature it is. A mage can see through their familiar's eyes, hear through their ears, sometimes more senses if they develop their connection to a greater degree. Some familiars have more practical uses, such as Griffons or Manticores serving as flying mounts, or a cat keeping the mouse population down. I'm not entirely sure what the role of a human familiar would be, there are no recorded cases in history."
"And the cultural significance?" N'bara pressed.
"A familiar is the mark of a true mage, and shows their affinity," Colbert said, "Such as a frog for a water mage, a bird for a wind mage, a cat representing stealth and flexibility, for one who is well-attuned to both, etcetera."
A sharp, barking laugh escaped briefly from Joshua's throat, and he turned to face the Pinkette.
"And you summoned me, a Dragon-blooded warrior?" Joshua said looking at the much, much smaller girl, "They do say powerful things come in small packages."
"Hah!" A blonde in the crowd of students bit out, "Louise the Zero, powerful? She hasn't successfully cast a single spell in her life!"
She opened her mouth to continue, but the harsh gaze of Joshua cut her off rather abruptly.
"Silence, child," He said, eyes blazing and tone suffering no argument, "Adults are talking, and your disruption is not welcome."
He turned back to Louise, reaching into a slot in his armor with his free hand, and withdrawing a strip of leather, with which he began to clean the blood from the naked blade still in his hand. Colbert took the opportunity to quietly send a student to fetch the headmaster.
"I am a sentient being," Joshua said to Louise, fierce eyes meeting her own, "Neither a simple beast, nor a pet, and my people are at war, a war which I must return to as swiftly as possible. I would not wish, however, to deprive you of something so culturally significant, and am willing to allow myself to be known as your familiar in the meantime, and perform a few reasonable tasks on your behalf. What is involved in being formally recognized as one's 'familiar'?"
Inspecting his sword briefly to see that it was cleansed of his foe's blood, he sheathed it, before turning back to Louise to await an answer.
Louise Francoise de la Blanc de la Valliere, youngest scion of the Valliere family, considered the man's offer very, very carefully. Summon Familiar was now, officially, both the first, and only spell she had ever successfully cast. If she had to choose one spell during her entire life to cast successfully, this would have been it, as it would be incontrovertible proof for the rest of her life that she was, in fact, a mage, if a very inept one. The manner of both his arrival, and his vanquished foe, made it abundantly clear, that at the least, her summoned familiar was a formidable swordsman, and if he spoke the truth, both an officer and a Knight. There would be no shame in having such a familiar, and one could hardly expect the same degree of control over an armed warrior, that one would possess over a simple animal, right?
"A small ritual," Louise answered, "Like this:"
She raised her wand, and Joshua tensed. Sensing his wariness, she slowly, and very carefully, tapped him on the forehead with her wand, then began the incantation.
"Pentagon of the five elements, bless this creature, and make it my familiar."
Then she kissed him.
He gaped in shock, completely flabbergasted by the sudden turn of events.
Louise smiled, her feminine pride satisfied that if she had to spend her first kiss on someone other than her fiancé, at least it had the appropriate effect on him.
Then his stance shifted from 'stunned' to 'outraged and on the edge of violence' in an instant, and he stared down at his left hand.
"You just formed a magical bond with a Dragon-blood," He shouted harshly, "Are you insane?"
"Wha?" Louise said, lurching back a step from the suddenly infuriated Knight.
This was not the response to her first kiss that she desired. Then his anger fled as abruptly as it had appeared, as the Knight closed his eyes for a moment, and visibly composed himself.
"You have no idea what you've just done," He said, opening his eyes to stare down at her, no longer angry, but somehow terrifying nonetheless, "Do you?"
Louise shook her head silently.
"My people are not called 'Dragon-blooded' merely because of our prowess," He said, tension rising in his voice, "The blood of dragons runs in my veins, and by the bond you have forged, its magic will now begin to run in yours."
He stopped speaking, his teeth beginning to grind as his jaw clenched.
"I must go," He said, "Before I lose my temper, and do something I regret."
So saying, he turned and stalked off to the western gate, leaving a mass of slightly stunned, and intensely curious, students, and one teacher, behind him.
For Louise, the rest of the day was a bit of a haze. The Headmaster came out and spoke with Professor Colbert, but Louise found it increasingly difficult to pay attention to what was essentially a recounting of events she had been present for. It didn't matter much in the end, because after a few minutes, the professor remembered that the students were still there, and dismissed them from the courtyard. Louise was glad of the opportunity to seek solitude, and time to think.
Once she returned to her quarters, she quickly locked her door, then flopped down on her bed to stare at the ceiling. Judging by the way the man had referred to a magical bond, the familiar bond had successfully formed, unfortunately, aside from his own words, she had no hard evidence. The Familiar Runes had probably formed on his left hand, but it was impossible to tell through his gauntlet.
Eventually, Louise fell into sleep, worrying about her lack of proof that her familiar was, in fact, her familiar.
When Louise woke the next morning, she felt strange. Not bad, necessarily, but strange; like her skin was itching. It wasn't a good feeling either, but she didn't feel justified in visiting the Infirmary simply for feeling odd, so she readied herself for the day, and then went to breakfast as normal.
It was a decision she would quickly come to regret.
"Look," Joshua said, glaring in turn at each of the guards in front of the school's outer gate, "I don't care if I'm the one to tell her, or you send a runner to do it. She needs to be told."
"And as I have told you," The bored guard on his left said, "The rules say no less than two guards to a gate at any time. We don't have anyone to send as a messenger."
Joshua's teeth ground. Audibly.
"She could die," Joshua said harshly, visibly restraining anger, "I think that's worth a little more than protocol."
"Even if we believed you," The second guard said, "It's above our pay grade to make decisions like that. And neither of us are stupid enough to leave the gate guarded by a single man when a foreign soldier is present."
"Two of you would slow me down for maybe a second and a half more than one," Joshua said, "How the hell are you supposed to warn against a real attack if neither of you are allowed to leave?"
"Sarge'll be back from his break in half an hour or so," The first guard said.
Joshua stared at the man, disbelief and disgust written all over his face.
When Louise was asked by Chevreuse the Red Clay, her new Earth Magic instructor, to demonstrate transmutation for the class. While the entire rest of the class taking cover behind their desks and each other unnerved the teacher, the expected explosion did not appear.
Instead, there was a scream.
The pained scream trailed off out of hearing range, and Joshua's patience came to an end. The guards, displaying what he decided was the ultimate sign of their complete incompetence, turned to look away from him, towards the source of the scream, and a pair of blows with armored fists later, they were taking a forced look at the insides of their eyelids.
Smashing through the gate, Joshua sprinted towards the source of the screaming.
"You!" Chevreuse shouted, pointing to a random student, "Go fetch the healers, at once!"
The indicated blond boy scurried out of the classroom.
"Now," Chevreuse said as she moved to stand over the pink-haired Valliere, who had gone deathly silent, curled in a tight ball around her wand arm, "Is anyone here experienced with healing?"
"Montmorency is," Kirche the Ardent said promptly, surprising Chevreuse, both with her promptness, and that she appeared eager to aid the girl she was well-known to have a strongly adversarial relationship with.
"Miss Montmorency," Chevreuse said after a moment to regain her bearings, "Would you please come inspect Miss Valliere?"
The blond obediently moved towards the downed student, though she objected verbally.
"I'm really more learned with potions than healing magic," Montmorency said nervously, eying the painfully still pinkette on the floor.
"Well," Chevreuse said, kneeling down beside Louise to carefully roll her onto her back, "Unless there is someone else in the class with healer training, you are the nearest we have available."
Montmorency reluctantly nodded, and watched as Chevreuse gently, but firmly, pulled Louise partway out of her defensive curl, then went green at what she saw. Louise's arm had swollen, grown, and twisted. Her uniform blouse had torn up to the elbow, and bulging, overly-muscled flesh was revealed beneath, running at least from her elbow to the tips of her fingers. Swallowing back her nausea at what had happened to the girl's arm, Montmorency reached down, and carefully began a tactile inspection of the altered arm with both hands.
"Your bones have shifted," She said after a few moments, then looked at the girl's face.
Louise's face was taut with pain, and though fear was visible in her eyes, she did an admirable job of keeping it off the rest of her face.
"I have no idea what's caused this," Montmorency said, "Hopefully, the healers-"
"Will know nothing either," A harsh male voice cut in, and the gawking students, and single teacher, turned to see Joshua, rather intimidating in his full combat gear, striding into the room.
"Her change has begun," He said, stopping to kneel down beside the girl and inspect her arm, "Nothing can be done to stop it, only endure it."
"I think I'll be the judge of that," Another male voice said from the entrance to the classroom, and a middle-aged man in healer's robes entered, indicating for Chevreuse to move aside as he crossed the room and sat down beside Louise.
A third inspection of the girl's altered arm ensued, this one involving diagnostic magics and far more experienced hands.
"Have you been experimenting with self-transmutation, girl?" The healer asked.
Louise shook her head mutely.
"I had, however, just asked her to demonstrate a transmutation spell," Chevreuse said helpfully, "Could that be related?"
"You're Louise of the Vallieres?" The healer said gruffly, looking up at the girl's face long enough to see her nod before redirecting his gaze back to her mutated arm, "It makes sense," He continued, "I've not seen anything like this before, but it falls within the parameters of magical misfires."
"Hello?" Joshua said, sarcasm and slight confusion in his voice, "Man experienced with this effect present right here."
"I hardly think," The healer said harshly, glaring across Louise at Joshua, "That a commoner, even an experienced soldier, would know more about treating magical backfires than a trained healer."
"Is this entire nation composed of assholes?" Joshua said, shocking every person present, "No, that's not fair, I'm just pissed off. Time to act though."
Reaching down, he scooped up Louise, then stood, showing no visible strain at lifting her, and strode towards the door.
"I'm taking her to the infirmary," He said over his shoulder as he left the room, "To find a Healer whose competence outstrips his ego, instead of the other way around."
Louise was only really half-aware of the world around her through the haze of screaming pain that comprised her swollen wand-arm. Still, she was aware enough to notice when she was lifted off of the floor and carried out of the classroom, and focused on the outward world again.
"Joshua?" She said, frowning up at the man in confusion, "Where are you taking me?"
"The Infirmary," He said firmly, "As soon as I find out where it is."
Louise giggled weakly at that, and shifted a little in his grip. Neither she, nor any healer or physician in all of Tristain, understood human physiology on a deep enough level to realize that even that small amount of mirth signaled her body to release endorphins into her system, which acted as a natural blunt to the pain she was feeling. To Louise's mostly pain-hazed mind, it felt more like being held by him brought her good humor, and dulled her pain directly.
Joshua N'bara, on the other hand, came from a much more technologically advanced society, and was fairly familiar with the human body's response to various emotional stimuli, and had dealt with trying to calm down injured civilians before. Thus, he considered it entirely appropriate to encourage more good humor on the part of the distressed girl. As soon as he could figure out how.
Fortunately for Joshua, random chance intervened on his behalf. As he rounded a corner, he encountered the classic comedic collision; two parties approaching a corner, and arriving with appropriate timing to not see each other until it was too late to stop moving. Joshua was carrying Louise, and had substantially larger mass than the young maid he collided with, not even counting his armor. The maid had been carrying a small tray with a bottle of wine and two wooden cups on it.
The laws of physics regarding inertia and their relative masses took effect; the girl was knocked down, the wine was knocked up, Louise and Joshua were simply knocked back a single step, his sharply-honed reflexes easily balancing them out. The wine bottle, which for reasons beyond Joshua, was already open, proceeded to dump a good quarter of its contents onto Joshua's head and face, and Louise's giggles picked up again. Joshua looked down at the giggling girl, raising his eyebrows (he'd rather have raised a single one, but he'd never mastered that trick), and allowing a slight bemused smile on his face.
When he looked down to check on the fallen maid, however, his smile died an unpleasant death. The young woman, barely more than a girl to his eyes, was looking up at him, desperately trying to hide the terror that her body language practically screamed to him.
"M-my lord," She stuttered, "I'm so sorry-"
The source of her fear became immediately apparent to Joshua, and he cut her off, smiling slightly.
"There are no nobility in the land I come from," Joshua said, "I'm a Knight, not a Noble."
With a thought, he used a pressure front of air to help the maid to her feet, then gathered the spilled wine off of his face and hair, suspending it in the air, then the bottle, glasses, and tray, which he levitated to the maid, who instinctively took hold of them.
"If you could be so kind as to direct me to the infirmary," Joshua said, his voice containing a very deliberate gentleness, which was matched in his eyes and smile, "I need to get Louise here to see a healer whose ego doesn't interfere with his competence."
"Oh!" The maid said, looking over the Valliere girl with concern, and he could visibly see her switching gears from 'terrified peasant' to 'concerned older sister,' (something he had an embarrassing amount of familiarity with), and she immediately became much more self-possessed, "I will take you there at once, I know of a healer who isn't too big-headed to help us common folk here and there, I'm sure that he'll be willing to help Lady Valliere."
"Thank you," Joshua said, falling in behind the young woman as she began making her way through the castle corridors, "Miss…?"
"Siesta," She said, turning her head to smile at him over her shoulder, "And you are Sir?"
"I am Joshua N'bara," He said, smiling again, "Knight Errant of House Gorge, Captain with the Marines aboard the Imminent Rebuke, though I doubt those names mean anything on this world."
The next few minutes of transit passed with small talk between Siesta and Joshua, with the half-giggly, half delirious with pain Louise occasionally throwing in the odd comment.
Joshua found the new healer to be much more amenable to his tastes, having learned what he could of the change to Louise's swollen arm, used some sort of spell to dull the pain, and started interrogating Joshua on her condition as though he were a visiting specialist within five minutes of their arrival to the infirmary. Unfortunately, Joshua was forced to spend the next ten minutes preventing the healer he had encountered in the classroom from interfering with Louise's treatment upon his return to the infirmary.
Having Louise in the care of someone competent while he dealt with the, in his opinion, egotistical blowhard, Joshua found it was a lot easier to not lose his temper with the man. Being so uptight about the safety of someone he had only just met the day before seemed off to Joshua, but he put off thinking about it until further down the road, and dealt with the issue, or idiot, at hand.
Louise, to her considerable distress, found herself nursing a crush on her new familiar. Now that the pain was dulled to a moderate ache, she was able to think much more clearly, and had been reviewing her memories of what had happened in the last hour, and processing it sans pain. She was a woman betrothed, but she hadn't seen her (much older) fiancé in some years, and in all of her time at Tristain Academy, no-one had acted so directly in her defense as this man. It was very, very hard for her not to be attracted to that, especially considering the manner in which he had done so.
Unlike the often-effete, and never particularly impressive boys at the academy, he had been both fierce, and gentle in turn, something that Louise found intensely endearing, considering both had been demonstrated on her behalf. That he had gone out of his way to assuage the servant's fears also said a great deal about the man; he had been under no obligation whatsoever to the girl, and in fact, could probably have gotten away with just about anything short of killing her for slopping wine onto his face. One of the lessons her father, rather than her mother, had taught her, was that you could tell more about a man by how he treats those below him in society, than how he treats his peers or those above him.
While Louise watched her new Familiar fend off the rather unpleasant familiar, she thought on these things. He was clearly not pleased with the pompous healer, but was holding himself well under control, and after the first ten minutes of arguing, it became apparent to Louise that he wasn't arguing to win the argument, but simply to keep the loathsome man from interfering with the healer who was currently working her over.
On the whole, she found that having someone to fight on her behalf made her feel safe in ways that she hadn't in a very, very long time. She fell asleep basking in the sensation, an unfamiliar, but not unwelcome experience.
That night, Headmaster Osmond visited the infirmary to check on its newest long-term patient, and speak with her familiar. Joshua N'bara, senses sharp from his last few months in a war zone, was aware of Osmond's approach before he even opened the door of the infirmary. He moved to one of the healer's aides on night watch in the infirmary, and quietly asked the young woman to identify the Headmaster as he entered.
Osmond noticed this small bit of paranoia, and decided that it added up with the description of the man Colbert had given him.
"Knight N'bara," Osmond said gravely, crossing the infirmary to stand within ready conversational range of the younger man.
"Headmaster Osmond," N'bara said courteously, "I thought I'd see you here sooner or later."
"Why don't we sit down and have a chat?" Osmond said, smiling.
"I prefer to remain standing when amongst those of both enough power to be a substantial threat, and of uncertain disposition towards myself," N'bara said, not rude, but not exactly friendly either.
Osmond raised an eyebrow at the much younger man, who managed to completely conceal his brief stab at jealousy at the man's superior eye-brow locomotion skills. Besides, Joshua was certain that by the time he was one hundred and however many years old, he would have it mastered as well.
"Fair enough," Osmond said, summoning a chair from across the room with a gesture and seating himself, "But I'm hardly as young as you, and these old bones do better seated."
"Fair enough indeed, old man," N'bara said, "Now what do you want with me?"
Osmond was silent for a short while, rather surprised with N'bara's directness. It took him only a brief moment of reflection to realize it was entirely appropriate behavior to someone who was freshly out of a war, as Colbert had reported N'bara was. Colbert had not simply said that N'bara claimed he was a warrior fresh from the fields of war, but said directly that the man was. Now, able to size the man up himself, Osmond was inclined to agree with Colbert's assessment.
"I wish to know if you are a threat to my school or students," Osmond eventually said, "You strike me as a very capable warrior, and after what you did to the gate guards, I know you are ready to violence if you deem it appropriate."
"Louise could have died," Joshua said, restrained anger in his voice, "If those men were under my command, they would be court-martialed for dereliction of duty."
Again, Osmond was silent for some time before responding.
"It's been a long time since I've seen war," He said eventually, "But when I send my thoughts down memory lane, I do recall what it can be like. I will, for now, overlook your assault on two of the Academy guards. I must ask, however, what you intend to do while you are here."
"Two things," Joshua said, "I will be seeking a means to return to my nation, and attempting to help Louise survive the consequences of her magical bond to me. She's probably the first person in history to accidentally take the power of the Dragon-blooded, but many, many have attempted to steal it before."
The Knight paused for a moment, staring Osmond in the eye, his voice becoming very grave before he continued.
"More than ninety-nine out of a hundred died in agony as their bodies warped to the point where they could no longer function, and then were destroyed as the transformation failed. Even amongst those of us naturally born as descendents of the Dragon, something like nine in ten die during adolescence if they lack the guidance. With guidance, we still lose one in ten. I can probably give her a fifty-fifty chance of pulling through, but as I'm not a parent, or even married, I wasn't specifically trained for this."
Silence passed between them again, and Osmond noted that unlike many younger men he had dealt with, N'bara did not seem uncomfortable with the lack of words.
"In the end," Osmond said, "I really have no way of knowing whether or not you are telling the truth, but no particular reason to think you are lying. If there is as serious a chance of death as you say though, I must contact Miss Valliere's family, and inform them of this. I also need to know why men would attempt to steal the power in your bloodline."
"Unmatched physical ability," Joshua said after a moment, "There are records of battle-mages slaying those of my race with their magic, but only with great difficulty, and there are no recorded stories of a normal man, or woman, defeating a Dragon-blooded in physical combat. Caught off guard, some have been assassinated, but we've never lost in a straight up fight."
"And this unfortunate malady besetting Miss Valliere has something to do with these physical abilities?" Osmond asked curiously.
"If she survives the change," Joshua said, "She'll have to be careful, or she might rip someone's arm off while trying to shake their hand."
"It's just as while then," Osmond said wryly, "That ladies extend their hands to be kissed, rather than shake hands, amongst nobility anyways."
"Not my concern," He said, "Since she's already most of the way through puberty, the changes will finish within a couple months if she survives, sooner if she doesn't. Either way, once she's finished, I'll be leaving."
"That seems awfully callous," Osmond observed mildly.
"I've seen a lot of death in the last few months," Joshua said harshly, glaring at the Headmaster, before turning away to look at the unconscious Valliere girl, "I hope she lives, but I know there's no guarantee of it."
Osmond frowned, but nodded.
"If you are not concerned for her in particular, why stay at all?" Osmond asked.
"Because everyone deserves a shot at life," Joshua said, turning back to face Osmond, his eyes suddenly burning with purpose, "And hers has barely begun. I'm the only one in this land who can give her a decent chance of survival, and any kind of honor at all demands I do everything I can to give her that chance. I'd do the same for any man, woman or child in need, save perhaps those already under an earned death sentence."
Osmond was rather taken aback by the young man's passion, but Joshua was not finished.
"I've only been here a day," He said, intense gaze still locked on Osmond's eyes, "But I'm already beginning to suspect that your culture has a strong prejudice amongst nobles against 'commoners.' I'll warn you now, as a Knight Errant, putting down Tyrants is part of my sworn duty. From what I've seen of the students and faculty here, you've got bullies at the worst, but consider yourself warned."
If Osmond was at all taken aback by Joshua's words, he gave no outward sign of it. He simply nodded, stood, and then left the infirmary.
AN: This one you can expect to see more of. Probably next week, unless something else strikes my fancy.