Author’s note: In preparation for NaNoWriMo 2009, someone put up daily prompts on one of the forums. I did them in the spirit of warm-ups, but some of them turned into stories. Here is one such.
Prompt: I’m not asking for your advice, I’m asking for your support.
Demon-summoning is a dicey art at the best of times, and Tatiana’s kibitzing was making it downright nerve-wracking. First she was fussing over whether my pentagram was really closed, because (as any novice can tell you) you’d best make sure it’s closed or anything you summon can get in there and eat you up.
Which I knew, dammit, because I did not in fact sleep through Necromancy 101, unlike some people I could mention.
Then she was looking at the reference works I had out on the workbench, and telling me that I should probably do this particular incantation using the classical pronunciation of Latin rather than the ecclesiastical, because the best sources had it that this one actually went back to Roman times, and the demons named therein are known to be punctilious on points of culture.
She said that Eugene had told her a rather hair-raising story about a cousin who’d done an incantation in the same family and barely missed getting fried by demon-fire, because the Entity he summoned had expected the Pompeiian pronunciation rather than the true Roman. And that was with the pentagram closed.
“Look,” I said at length. “I’m not asking for your advice, I’m asking for your support.” She looked up from the book, long black hair falling over her face.
“I am supporting you,” she said. “I just thought you’d want to know what mistakes to avoid.”
“You know, this really isn’t helping,” I said. “The thaumaturgical safety stuff is fine when you’re just reading, but frankly I’m not going to remember half of what you’re telling me.”
She pursed her lips, plainly offended. “Well, if you don’t want me here…”
“I didn’t say that. I want backup, that’s all. If you’re remembering all this stuff so well, maybe you could hang out here…”
She closed the book, set it on the workbench, and walked over to face me across the pit. Chalked her own pentagram on the floor, set the oil lamps to burning at the five corners.
Stepped inside, turned to face me. Jerked her head a little, and I pulled my left foot inside my pentagram.
“All right,” she said. “You have backup.”
I took a deep breath and opened the grimoire.
“Now remember,” she said, “classical, not ecclesiastical. And whatever you do, make sure you’ve got the case endings right.”
(Process information: 10/20/2009 6:17 PM to 6:30 PM, 392 words, 13 minutes)