Due Process

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Chapter 5

5

Weapons of Personal Destruction

It's not a light saber, but… wait, you could make a light saber?

Albert poked his head around the corner after hearing me speak. "Hello," he said, in what sounded like a Russian accent. He turned to the principal. "You wanted to see me, sir? You said bring 'the dangerous one' but both my swords are pretty dangerous, so I wasn't sure which one you meant."

"Quite all right. There's someone I'd like you to meet. Albert, this is Dean. Dean, Albert."

"Nice to meet you," I said. "I thought I got a glimpse of that sword earlier, it's cool to see it close up. Isn't it too big for you though?"

"Not when I'm in my fighting form it isn't. Wait, if this is about the sword, that means-"

"That's right, this is who I'd like you to work with, or at the very least give access to, the sword, for this school year or until he figures out how Charna made it."

"Isn't he a bit young for the job? Meaning no disrespect to him or your choice. I mean, I'm pretty good at Alchemy for how old I am, but that was because of the technique Rosalee used on me, a very special case. Unless he went through something similar, which I doubt and wouldn't recommend, can he be that good?"

"I admit, he's a first year student, but I believe he has the drive and the special talents needed to properly do the job. Also he has his own reasons for becoming the best Artificer he possibly can, so this will be an excellent test of his abilities. Unravel this sword," he said, taking it from Albert and tapping it, "and you're on your way to becoming one of the best Artificers of all time."

"I'll definitely do my best!"

"I know you will. Good luck."

"Does he understand what it can do?"

"You'll have to fill him in on the details later, Albert. I think he can be trusted with it, so you don't have to watch his every move or anything. And so few people know about it anyway, I don't think it'll be a problem. I'll add your name to the list of people permitted weapons on campus so the prefects don't give you a hard time about it, but don't go waving it about, okay? It's the supernatural equivalent of a small bomb I'm giving you here- sorry, Albert is loaning you here- so don't screw it up."

"Yes, sir."

"Excellent. Now, I have some work to do finalizing someone's schedule, so get out of here, the both of you. See you around!"

I accepted the sword from DeLefeu and hooked it to my belt loop, feeling the unfamiliar weight on my hip and thinking I was going to have to learn to walk with this thing without it crashing into stuff. I grabbed up the smaller book and the tome on talismans, and nodded to Albert that I was ready. We both started out of the office but DeLefeu called out "Oh, and Dean- I don't want your grades to suffer because of this, do we understand each other? Only good reports from your teachers now."

"I won't let you down."

He nodded and we closed the door behind us. I was almost walking on air (who needed special boots?) with how well that had all gone. I still couldn't believe it. I said as much to Albert.

"Strange," he replied. "Usually it's the opposite reaction coming out of that office."

"I can believe that. You don't mind loaning me this, do you? I mean, he sort of took it away from you without your saying yes or no."

"No, well, yes, but I guess not. I don't know. Hopefully with all that Charna business behind us, and the Foundation getting new members, things will become 'abnormal' around here. That is to say, quiet, for a change. And I admit the sword is useful, but I lived without it this long. I only got it at the end of last year, so I can live without it a while longer." He shrugged.

"What does it actually do? Mr. DeLefeu said it was the equivalent of a small bomb, so it can't be just a sword, right? It's that dangerous?"

"In the right hands, yes. It's not much more then a sharp stick for you, until I show you how to use it."

"So it's a talisman then?"

"I'd rather be away from people when we discuss it."

"Oh, right. Listen to me going on about it. There was no one in the library before the assembly, and that's where I said I would meet my… well, friends, I guess. One friend and two roommates, anyway."

"You have two roommates?"

"No, I mean my friend's roommate and mine."

"Oh, I see. We can go there, that's fine."

So we made our way back to the library. "By the way, who's this Charna he was talking about?"

"Oh, just a baddy we faced in the past. One of the original humans, so she could learn all powers, just like you. She could master them though, and master them she did. Alchemy, Talisman making, magic, energy blasts, she could do the works. She was thousands of years old and wanted to destroy earth. We stopped her."

"Oh, is that all?"

"Yeah, it didn't take long."

Somehow I believed there was more to the story then that. Still, we entered the library and again, no one was there but the kid behind the desk.

"Back so soon? I thought I told you not to leave the girl- whoa. You didn't have all that stuff when you came last time!" He whistled as he looked at the sword and book I was carrying.

"Special mission from the president," I said, bumping one finger against the side of my nose. "Very hush, hush."

He looked at me very funny. "Sure, whatever you say. Albert," he said, nodding to Albert following me in.

"Hello," Albert replied, nodding back.

"Got that gold thing worked out yet?"

"You know that's a theoretical exercise only."

"Yeah, that and my love life. Just don't forget your friends when you crack it, okay?"

"No, I won't forget my friends," Albert replied a little sadly. "Come on, let's go in back."

I followed him into the stacks of books to a table in the back of the library, where we both sat down.

"Mr. DeLefeu said something about you and gold, what's that all about?"

"Oh, it's a big no-no to make gold. I did once though, but found out later that the one reason it's so highly sought after is because crossing real gold into the Demon World leaves you with real gold. Taking gold made with Transmogrification between dimensions leaves you with a weird looking rock. I still feel bad about that, I never got around to telling the dragon I gave it to. Something about the purity of the substance, I guess."

"Really?"

"Yup. I've got some if you want to look at it. I made the gold in the demon world so the Foundation Seers wouldn't know about it, because we needed some money in a hurry. But when I brought back the extra: rock city. Hard to test different theories without easy access to the Demon World, so I have a bunch of things I want to try the next time I go there. Only making gold is actually punishable, reading about making gold- is not. Especially as a theoretical exercise for a paper I hope to write one day entitled: 'The Observed Elastic Properties of Transmutated Substances When Crossing Dimensional Barriers.'"

"That's a fine point."

"Yes it is."

We laughed. "So," I said, lowering my voice, "do you think you'll do it?"

"Hard to say. Like I said, the people I hung out with last year all graduated, and they had various ways to get to the Demon World. With them gone, my hands-on research is totally stopped. I may already know how to do it, but I don't know I know, if you get my meaning."

"I think I do. I'll have to see what I can do. Maybe I can make you something to cross over, just to aid in purely scientific research, of course."

"Of course. Oddly enough the ability to go to the demon world came in a lot more useful then you might think these past few years. More then I ever thought, anyway."

"I'll have to look into it sometime then. Now, to the business at hand. This sword- what's it all about?"

"It's a copy of Tyrfing, the sword shoved in Fenrir's mouth for quite some time. A summoner I knew managed to get ahold of it, if you can believe it, then spent half his time afterwords trying to get rid of, and then get back again. Long story short, the blade was very powerful, and Charna, who wanted to wipe out all of the All-Father's creations, kind of stole it from him in order to help with that goal. We didn't realize it because she gave us this fake, which she said she had 'dampened down' so it wouldn't be so easy to notice. We believed her, but later learned it was a separate sword entirely."

"You mean blow up Heaven? Earth? Why?"

"Long story. Very long. Maybe I'll write a book about it someday. Anyway, the sword has a couple of things it can do." He looked around. "Okay, go ahead and draw it. I would say you should probably study it down in the room that's warded, but you can't go down there every time you want to pull it out, so I guess it's okay. Maybe you can make yourself something that will be a portable anti-scrying device? Anyway, no one will be looking for it so it should be fine. Just don't pull it out to show everyone, okay? You'll understand why when I'm done explaining it."

"Got it. What happened to the original, anyway?"

Albert looked uncomfortable. "It's been sealed away, out of reach from those who would use it to help them summon Fenrir. I can't say more."

"Oh, okay, I don't mean to pry."

I gently slid the blade out the sheath and took a look. It seemed like a normal broadsword, though much lighter than I would have expected, given the size. I hefted it.

"Is it made of aluminum? It actually seemed heavier a minute ago. Oh, it just has a really heavy scabbard, right?"

"No, that's its first property, actually, bestowing a greater strength on the wielder for lifting the sword or attacking with it. Now, stand right here and I'll show you the second property."

I did, and Albert stood in front of me. I held the sword off to the side, not wanting to stick him by accident, and he put his palm up in an "are you ready?" sort of gesture. I was, so I indicated he should get on with it and that's when he kicked me, hard as he could, between the legs.

"What did you do that for?!" I half shouted, and stopped. It hadn't actually hurt at all. In fact, he was hopping a little bit. What the-?

"The second ability the sword gives you is to be invulnerable." He saw my face begin to light up and hurried on. "It's not as great as you think. Sure, you can take an entire army of human soldiers and bombs and tanks and nukes right now, but one demon can still mess you up pretty bad. Heck, me getting in a solid hit with my sword would still kill you pretty much dead. So don't depend on it. Anything supernatural, like energy blasts, demon's claws, wards, they'll still badly hurt you, okay? You'll learn all this in your classes, of course, but you need to know your powers and limitations if you're going to carry this around."

I nodded. This was impressive so far, even with the caveats.

"Now the third thing."

"There's more?"

"A little more," he said, amused. "Why do you think he always wanted it back so bad after he spent all kinda time hiding it away?"

"I guess so."

"Close your eyes. You don't have any training in this yet, but it radiates enough power that maybe you can get a sense of it. Just, I don't know how to explain it, just clear your mind and focus on what you feel from the sword."

"I'll give it a try."

I closed my eyes and tried to do what he said. I thought I may have felt a little something, but it was impossible to say if I really felt something or if I just wanted to think I felt something. I opened my eyes again. "I'm not sure."

"There's a whole class dedicated to this, so don't worry about it. I haven't taken it myself, it's an elective, so maybe I'm explaining it wrong. But it's what my friends do when they want to feel something out."

"It's what my foster father did when I showed him the egg!"

"Okay. Anyway, the sword makes this next job easier, so accept for the moment that it is radiating power. That's the biggest drawback with it, by the way, and why we have to be so careful with it. Anyone who does know how to use Spirit Sense gets an immediate feeling of power any time the sword is around. The original was even worse, I guess: demons were especially attracted to it. For the moment, just imagine lines of force are coming out of it, and draw those lines into yourself. It might take some effort, they don't bend easily."

"Uh, okay," I said, unsure. I looked at the sword and clenched my fist around it, willing the power of the blade into myself. Suddenly, it did just that! I felt power wash over me and I almost dropped the sword in my surprise, but managed to hold onto it, though I lost the power from the blade. "That actually worked, just for a second! I really felt it!"

"That's pretty good for a guy with no training. Try it again."

I did, but nothing happened.

"Ah, beginner's luck. Well, the last thing is the sheath. It actually cancels out the power somehow, so it can't be sensed anymore, so you don't have to worry about it drawing attention when it's put away."

"That's good. This is some talisman he wants me to study."

"I hope you're up to it."

"I have a feeling I'm going to have to be. Thanks Albert, you've been great about this."

"Eh, I learned from the best. And like I say, my friends all graduated, so I hope to make some new ones this year."

"Well I think you have," I said, sticking out my hand after sheathing the sword again. "I hope I can call on you when I start learning some Alchemy, maybe you can give me some pointers."

"I thought you were an Artificer, are you an Alchemist too? This one girl Quaira that sometimes hung around, and almost killed me one time by accident, was a Half-Demon and a Songstrel."

"Well, that's kind of a-"

"Long story," someone shouted from behind a bookshelf, and Yasui stepped into sight around the books.

"Getting to be my catchphrase, isn't it?"

"With good reason." She shrugged.

"Albert, this is Yasui of the Heavy Boots, which I see she is still wearing. Yasui, this is the Golden Alchemist, Albert."

They both did the normal "nice to meet you" bit. "Now," said Yasui, "that's quite the sword you have there Dean, or are you just happy to see me?"

"I am happy to see you, but the sword is a project I've been given to work on by the principal."

"Wow, hasn't been here twenty-four hours and already the poor guy has homework? What kind of school is this?"

"I think he asked for it," remarked Albert.

"I did, that I did," I agreed. "It's my punishment for thinking wards are a bit useless, and wanting to study how to make talismans as soon as possible. Of course my mother's gift had something to do with my eagerness, but that isn't the only reason."

"So you got a really powerful sword to play with?"

"I'll have to swear you to secrecy."

She made a cross over her chest with her finger. "Cross my heart."

"How much did you hear, exactly?"

"Just the end part about the energy. I know a little about that. When I force spirit energy into the boots the effect is doubled, so it took me awhile to get the hang of jumping and running in them, because any extra effort I put in gets magnified. But it does tire me out, so having a sword I could pull energy from would be really, really nice."

"Yes," I said slowly, "I can see some possibilities there." I looked around. "Hey, where are Osman and Christina? They aren't with you?"

"Christina went to practice archery someplace because she's a total snob that doesn't know the value of friendship, and Osman went to the bathroom. He'll be here shortly."

In fact, another voice came ghosting through the books, "Is someone taking my name in the vain?"

I introduced Albert to my roommate, and swore him (and his sister) to secrecy as well.

"Anyone else you're going to tell about this?" Albert asked with mock resignation.

"The only people I know are the ones you see right here!" I protested.

"Oh, right. Well, I guess your roommate will see you working on it all the time anyway, so he would have to know."

"And I trust Yasui, she's not a blabber mouth." I fake whispered to her, "You're not a blabber mouth, are you?" She shook her head with a smile. I turned back to Albert. "See, told you."

"Well, on your head be it."

"Wait a second, is that a chainsaw sword?" said Osman.

"Oh, yeah, I made it late last year. It's powered by an ability of mine to make objects move on their own. Before I had just used it for moving rocks around to check for traps, but then I got the bright idea that it could make something spin, as well. I was thinking of making a machine to generate electricity, remind me to show you the basement sometime, but then I thought about circular saws, and then this chainsaw idea popped into my head. I formed the blade with Transmogrification, then put some Quintessential Unguent in the track to make it frictionless. I then just give it a little spin and tell it to move, and it spins very fast for a couple of minutes. I usually Transmogrify myself into a large, stronger, dragon-man sort of creature to use it, as it tends to get away from me when I'm like this."

"Still, that's pretty incredible, how you put something like that together. There are some talismans that can only be used by Artificers; well, here's one that can only be used by Alchemists. Pretty sweet."

They all nodded appreciatively and looked the blade over.

"Could I make one of these? I mean, I doubt I could make the whole blade part just by wishing it like you did, it seems pretty large and heavy. But if you made me a copy of this one, could I animate the chain part? That's pretty light."

"Well, the amount of time and the weight you can effect depend on your skill with the power, so you might be able to keep it going for a minute or so."

"Wait a second, I think I saw something…" I opened the smaller book, the one I had taken out, to the index. "Yeah, yeah, here. There's a way I can make a talisman that stores a power from someone else. So actually I could turn the chain into a talisman that held your power of animation, and just activate it when I needed it. I couldn't transform like you can, so mine would have to be smaller, but that could totally work."

"Wow, my boots are seeming less impressive all the time." Yausi seemed a bit down, with all this talk, and who could blame her? Still, it wasn't like an ancient talisman, any ancient talisman, wasn't impressive in it's own right.

"Hey, your boots are cool," I protested. "It's just, this is an actual chainsaw sword."

"I know… I know."

"What's the chainsaw part made of? You said it could still hurt me even holding the fake Tyrfing?"

"You mean Tyrfake?" asked Yasui.

"What?"

"It needs a better name then 'the fake Tyrfing' doesn't it?"

Albert and I looked at each other.

"Tyrfake it is," I agreed. "You were saying?"

"I was saying Bloodiron. It's mined in the Demon World, and it's an invulnerable metal, so good luck working with it without invulnerable fire and invulnerable hammers, or, not to brag, Transmogrification. Oh, and it doesn't rust, it bleeds. And it's pretty heavy, just like regular iron. I made a breastplate and a helmet out of some I got, and I have to keep it clean or it'll make a huge mess. But it's worth it."

"I should say. Wow, Alchemy is fantastic. I really want to learn the basics right away, I'm glad I put it at the top of my list. I had no idea it could be so cool."

"We did get interrupted when I asked about that."

"Oh right, the thing is…" I explained my situation of being able to learn the basics of any power to Albert, who listened attentively.

"I see. In that case I'd be happy to help in any way I can, just let me know."

"Thanks. That means a lot to me. If you can spare a little chip of that Bloodiron I really want to study that right away too. There's so much I want to learn, it's crazy!"

"I've got a couple of pounds of it. You can have a little, it's fine. And I know where to get more, though getting back there now is a real problem. Hummm, have to see what I can do about that. Anyway, not your problem."

"Thanks!"

"You know," said Yasui, "I bet you're going to meet a lot of people here. Think about it. If you can really learn the basics of everybody's skills, you'll attend their classes for at least a little while, and more then that, you'll always have something to talk about with people- 'can you give me some tips for doing X.' Am I right? You did it just now with Albert, got him talking about his sword and got some ideas for cool things to do, right? And with you being able to combine powers all on your own, why, there's no limit to the things you could accomplish!"

"No pressure," I said.

"She has a point," Osman said. The others nodded.

"Today has just been so amazing, you know? I was worried I wouldn't fit in at all, but then I met all of you, and the principal, and got this sword. If anything else good happens I'm going to think it's a dream and get really worried."

"It was the same for me," Yasui admitted. "I thought clunking around in these boots would get me a lot of funny looks, but I've seen people carrying way weirder stuff than that, like chainsaw swords, so no-one even looks at me twice."

"Same with me," echoed Osman. "I thought when people heard about my sister or saw my eyes they would hate me, but you've been really nice about it."

"So Albert, are we all just lucky or is this par for the course here at the magical land of Demongate High?"

"A lot of good things have happened here to me. A lot of bad things too, though. You'll find it balances out, in the end."

"I hope not," I said, appalled. "If something bad has to happen to me to offset all the good stuff that happened in the last twenty-four hours, I'll wind up dead."

"Don't worry, I'll protect you," said Yasui. "Now, are we going to sit in this stuffy old library the rest of the afternoon, or are we going out to do something?"

"I really wanted to get started on studying this…" I trailed off, as Yasui gave me a dirty look. "But then there's time enough tonight to do that work stuff, right?"

She smiled. "That's the spirit."

"Did you have something in mind?"

"I'm glad you asked. We have a unique opportunity here. With Albert along, you can change us into other things temporarily, right?"

"Yes," he said slowly.

"So let's go swimming!"

"Uh, what?"

"I don't know, will not everyone wanting to be swimming today?" asked Osman.

"And where do I fit in there?" asked Albert. "I've started taking swimming lessons after an unfortunate loss-of-power incident that caused me some grief in the water, but I'm still not great at it."

"That's the beauty of it! Can't you turn us into mer-people?"

"Oh, I see. Well, I can turn you into a creature with a tail, but I can't give you the ability to breathe water. The best I can do is give you actual gills. And technically we're not supposed to use our powers without supervision."

"Has that stopped you before?"

"I was just pointing it out."

So that's how my first full day here went, I wrote in the email to my father late that night.

We went swimming, and Albert was kind enough to help me hide the sword by making a hole in the wall and then closing it up again until we were ready to go. Watching the wall just peel back because he willed it was so cool. He turned Yasui and me into mer-people and we had fun having underwater races and just swimming around, doing tricks for the "air breathers." Osman and Albert just sort of splashed around in the shallow end, the cowards. We met up with Christina for dinner, and ribbed her a little for missing out in the fun. She didn't say anything about the sword. Then I said goodnight to the others, went back to my room, drew the sword, and opened the book to see what I could learn from it. There's just so much I want to learn, I can't want to get started. Too bad I still have to take math classes and English and all that other stuff. Oh, well. I've made some friends, something I wasn't even sure was possible, but unlike my last school, I actually feel like I fit in here. There's way freakier people here then me, so I guess it's a matter of degree. Tomorrow is Sunday so I'll probably spend at least some of it reading, there's a lot of material to get through. Then we start classes on Monday, which I can't wait for, unlike starting at my last school. Anyway, don't worry about me, I'm doing fine, and going to bed, it's been a long day! Write you later!

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