Chapter 18:

Madder Red Hall


Tommy made a show of his lack of concern.

Tucking one hand behind his body and the other in front, the boy casually trudged across the carpet, watching as his minion bodied one enemy to the next.

He was a summoner, after all. The necessity for him to participate with demonstrations of fireballs, lightning, or earth was non-existent. All he needed to do was watch, and watch he did.

Bearing witness to his power, relegated to the sideline or not, gave him more than ample enjoyment.

Tommy had some concerns at first. Part of him had doubted Larasel's effectiveness in dealing with these creatures. The monster was most renowned for its poison, and Tommy understood skeletons weren't exactly vulnerable to it.

However, when the monster lashed out, any vestiges of what was once careful consideration were crushed.

Through overwhelming strength alone, the creature more than compensated for its supposed weakness.

He saw for himself just how easily the mighty centipede swung its body, crumbling the skeletons into mere heaps of bones.

"If you have any trace of honour left in your wretched excuse for a body, you would do well to reveal yourself."

Tommy flashed a disdainful grin, swaying his still bleeding arm to the side.

Among venomous bites and physical dexterity, Larasel also possessed the ability to detect and follow any hints of magic. Using the two antennae on its head, it was inevitable that it slithered to and discovered its enemy's whereabouts.

Tommy's mind, which burned with a firm resolution of a mage, prompted him towards said destination.

The lull of mana still beckoned, and he was insistent on following it while the possibility presented itself.

The other students were most probably dealing with their own issues.

Unless it was a coordinated attack on him alone, which he doubted, Tommy surmised that everyone all over was facing their own share of problems.

Understanding as much, the boy proceeded with a stalwart gait.

Before too long, though, a stray word had crept into his mind.


Haphazardly, he offered the idea some thought. It did seem somewhat probable, if anything. Such an effort need only be secured by him heading upstairs and regrouping with the others.

No, that would be foolish.

He grimaced.

In less than a second, the room 'cooperation' occupied in his mind posed no more than an iota of space.

He had gone back to his initial modus operandi.

The cost of collaboration outweighed its potential benefits.

Honour, prestige, and power were all best reaped from an encounter done alone. Should he head down the path of collaboration, there was little to say of what would become of it.

Whether it be of betrayal or matters of lesser consequence, the distrust was there all the same. If the others so wished, they could even steal and seize his glory for themselves.

Tommy mentally pouted at that thought.

He wanted to declare his worthiness as a mage, and this opportunity proved more than favourable.

Therefore the solution came to him naturally.

Singlehandedly neutralise whoever had infiltrated the building. And, if possible, humiliate them to the utmost of his desire.

"There's little difference to me whether you appear now or later. Postpone your inevitable defeat, however, and it may be very well that I am predisposed to torture."

Tommy Sessogun chose to scan the hallway’s contents. His eyes lit up with guile, sweeping over the chandeliers, windows, and carpet. The mages’ mind was bemused with annoyance as a result. How he hated that Azama so. How he hated that he weighed a burden on his mind, and yet was nowhere to be seen.

That alone was motive for distaste.

"Now, now Tommy, there's no need for tortur-"

Tommy swung the knife with a spin of his body, a speechless twisting rage flaring from the depths of his soul.

"Honestly, Tommy, you aren't even going to give me time to monologue?"

The man caught his knife between two fingers. Tommy attempted to push the weapon to his neck with all the force he could muster. The result was only that his hand ached in turn.

"You'll rue this, knave."

Threatened by his proximity, Tommy assessed his situation.

The disadvantage of nearness curtailed him, but he still had a sound plan in mind. With an attack, he would disable The Fiend temporarily, disengage, and set Larasel upon him.

The young man's body was still full of fighting spirit, intending to win in spite of the apparent pitfall he had fallen into.

Just as he prepared to kick, however, a series of actions had taken place.

Faster than Tommy could process, his enemy disarmed him. The mage felt only pain as a reaction, a tinge beneath his hand, arm, and neck.

Without him even understanding or so much as seeing what happened, Tommy found himself in a chokehold.

"You insolent..."

Seething with a grit of his teeth, Tommy silently raged as the pressure on his neck amplified.

"Don't try it, Tommy, the moment you so much as lift your knife, I'll break your neck, you know."

It was a wounding statement. Proud, haughty, and confident he might be, Tommy still understood. There was little use in attempting to stab him. He had underestimated that man’s power. So much so that it invited the question of what he was actually capable of.

"Damn you, rat. If you had me in checkmate from the beginning, why didn't you just finish the job?"

Tommy let out a blurred snarl.

Mages tended to be pertinent interpreters of an enemy's abilities. Such a skill was necessary, provided one lived long. Though, even moreso in Tommy's case, given his evident lack of defensive feats. He knew therefore, that if Azama had managed to evade him thus far, sneak up behind, and incapacitate him of all things with relative ease, that he was more than capable.

The question therefore, was not of how, but rather why.

Shortly afterwards, the man answered with an affirmation of his cunning nature.

"Want me to be honest?"

Refusing to grant him the satisfaction of a concise 'Yes', Tommy winced.

"Because it was fun to watch you. Floundering down the stairs, staring wistfully out the window, and summoning your demon. All of it was just, wow. What can I say? It makes for some engrossing entertainment!"

Even while confronted by his words, Tommy still took a moment to process them. When he heard the so-called “teacher” imply that he had treated him as a joke, the mage abruptly formed a new plan in mind. His mind thrived with the possibility of a thousand scenarios, each one sharing the same distinction of torturing the man choking him.

Before he could enact upon said idea, however, an anomaly presented itself.

"Remember that demon of yours? Make sure to say hi!"

A distinct metallic click came from Azama’s jacket.

Tommy's expression, the same displeased sneer as ever, peered upwards.

There came a jostle of activity from the opposing direction, one brought forth by the sudden turning of a mighty demon.

Larasel, in its great figure, loomed to the ceiling, inspecting what laid before it with the same yearning one would for a tasty morsel.

Tommy braced himself formidably, calculating how long it would take for it to approach.

At best, he estimated a dozen seconds, and at worse, just half that.

"It's a dog-eat-dog world, you know,” Azama joked, his voice on the outbreak of laughter. "Or should I say, centipede eat man?"

Steward McOy
Kya Hon
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