Chapter 1: One Rabbit, But No Hat 1

Louise nearly collapsed in despair as, like always, an explosion echoed across the field. This… even this she failed at. The Springtime Familiar Summoning ritual was very nearly the last chance she had to rid herself of the hated nickname of 'Zero,' and she still managed to botch it somehow. It didn't matter that she knew the incantation and preparation perfectly forwards and backwards. It didn't matter that she had prepared several days before, checking, double-checking, and triple-checking everything until the day itself. It didn't matter what she did, she was still-

She was broken out of her self-recriminations by the sound of coughing and light choking from within the gradually-dispersing cloud of dust and smoke. Not all that unusual with her normal results from casting spells, except for the fact that everyone else had backed well away from the spot beforehand out of expectations of an explosion…

That meant… she had summoned something? Maybe?

She leaned forward, trying to make out whatever may have been in the cloud. On seeing a form being revealed her heart nearly lept in joy… only to sink as low as it could as it revealed a person. Just great… someone must have gotten too close or something, and would probably blame her for nearly blowing them up, and… and…

And that was not one of the other students. Or Professor Colbert. Much too tall, tanned skin (though not as dark as that Kirche, thankfully) and dressed strangely as well. Rather plain materials too, and no markings of station, so it was likely…

"A commoner!" someone called out, laughing. "Zero has summoned a commoner!" Soon others joined the first in mocking her.

"Founder, just kill me now," Louise mumbled, though no such respite came.

"Erm… This is highly peculiar, but… it seems Miss Valliere has succeeded in the summoning," said Colbert. "I think."

The man she had apparently summoned looked around, and soon noticed all the people around him. He jumped back slightly in surprise, but recovered swiftly enough. He approached a few steps towards Colbert and asked something, though Louise couldn't understand a word of it.

Neither could Colbert, which prompted a sigh of annoyance from both men. The commoner tried another language, which was again met with no comprehension, causing him to shrug, having apparently used up all the ones he could speak and understand.

"This is something of a problem, but… We can only continue with the ritual. Miss Valliere."

"Can't I try again, Professor?" she begged. "There must be some mistake. There's no way a mere commoner could be my familiar!"

"I'm afraid that there is no possibility of a retry, Miss Valliere," Colbert said sympathetically. "Once a familiar has been summoned, it must be contracted, and one cannot attempt again just because they don't like what they have."

"Go on, Zero!" a student called out. "Make the contract!"

Louise glared in the direction of whoever had said that, but it was only out of habit than any real anger. Just as well… she succeeded in summoning, but it was some commoner who couldn't even speak right. Calling up what dignity she had left, she strode up to the stranger. "You'd better appreciate this," she told him. "There's no way a commoner would ever get a chance like this otherwise."

He just looked at her curiously, unable to understand her words, but at least he wasn't doing anything to embarrass her other than exist.

"Pentagon of the Five Elemental Powers, bless this humble being, and make him my familiar." Nearly complete, Louise looked up at him. "Bend down!" she hissed, pulling at his shirt to try and make him understand. It took several tugs before he realized what she wanted and leaned over. She could feel everyone staring as she looked up at his face, and prepared to… His face…

"What's wrong with your eyes?" she exclaimed, hopping back.

He blinked in confusion, looking back at her with eyes filled with only the patterns of leaves and sunlight…

Author's Notes:

Yes, futilely trailing in the wake of The Hill of Swords, Unfamiliar, Zero Shock, and A Green Sun Illuminates the Void, I have started on a ZnT crossover.

Well, to be more precise I'm about 20 parts in on it, but that's neither here or there. Originally posted on the spacebattles Creative Writing forum, I wrote Parlor Tricks as a little speculative side-project while I worked on Exciting Investigation of Eastern Mysteries, I wrote a scenario where a character I had created for a small Exalted campaign ended up the summoned familiar (I will be comment more on the who/why in the notes of further chapters). It got decently positive response, and as I continued it I liked the idea more and more that it became my secondary writing project. I decided that due to my current slow rate of progress on EIoEM (see my profile for general details on that) I may as well upload it to . As such, I hope you all enjoy it.

Just to note; Yes, chapters will be/are relatively short. As Parlor Tricks was originally posted on a 'as I come up with it' basis I posted only a scene or two at a time, and rather than try to mash them together here, I decided to keep that setup. This may cause things to progress slowly in the beginning, but I hope that readers find it enjoyable enough to stay with it (or at least revisit once it's progressed to a larger size).

R&R, C&C, and so forth. Thank you.