The office’s keeper was in his throne behind his prized desk. He had aged so much in the last two years Mel had known him, his once-uniform black hair specked with white, even more than he remembered not even a few days ago. His eyes, also, had been weathered, but they had not softened. Instead, they only seemed to have gotten sharper, piercing him ever more with each visit into his domain, and today seemed extra special: Melvin stood beside him.
Mel simply sat there, stewing in an assortment of states, bedazzlement, befuddlement, even a touch of arousal all popping and bubbling around him as his mind steamed away. No small feat given it was only on fumes. He didn’t necessarily get to rest yet, but at least it wasn’t alone; he could hear Brin’s and Saliim’s doing the same, all crackling so merrily in their lovely broiler they found themselves in.
Benjamin cleared his throat, clenching his hands tighter on the mahogany desk, and leaned a touch forward.
“Do. You. Have. Any idea... the trouble you’ve caused me?” He said, the vein above his brow twitching with every enunciation, with every forced pause into inflection. “Well, Mel!”
“What! I didn’t do anything,” he grumbled.
Melvin beside thought it was funny at least, snickering in his ghoulish way, but Benjamin didn’t even blink, his glare boring straight and true into Mel.
“Where should we begin, then? We could start with the fact you tore open a wormhole into the normalverse and left it open for any and all to potentially slip in. Exposure is already a grave offense, but potential discovery? Or what about the giant ejaculating phallus you made at modern day circus? Some women scrubbed that down this morning; are you going to pay child support?”
“Nuh! I didn’t get them knocked up; the wall did.”
“Flying over the majority of the US, in broad daylight-”
“It was technically dusk-”
“With giant neon lights on the bottom of the carpet!”
“How else would aeroplanes know not to fly into us?”
“I think the word is airplanes-” Brin tried to whisper.
“I know what I said.”
“Then there’s the events in Sin City,” Benjamin continued.
“What? It’s not like we threw a huge orgy and summoned a bunch of exotic beasts; S and R did that for us. We were gone before then, anyways.”
“Because you used magic for personal gain!”
“Uh, duh? Isn’t that what magic is for?”
“Then you vandalized and terrorized the mass majority of the west coast, though you did show ‘great respect’ to one of our elder members.”
“Wh- wait... no! You mean to tell me... N-no! He can’t be THAT awesome- who am I kidding? He is probably even more awesome.”
Benjamin huffed. “He did say you and that Dominus woman were huge fans... and that was only the beginning. How about we touch on what you did with Japan; Fuji is red now.”
“We put on suntan lotion. Looked awfully ashy; just wanted it to look its best.”
“Shinjuku is still in an uproar for your... addition to its hub.”
“Hey! When I go to Japan, I expect more giant robots... so we gave more giant robots.”
“And then let us discuss your gross display of racism in India... What made you think it was a good idea to pack every other street with forty-thousand restrooms, end-to-end and three stories high? W...where does it all run to?”
“Malaysia, Mumbai; those locations. I started to grow crops out there, too, but, until then, at least they can smell the rich, full bouquet of curry.”
“Spain. The people there are still combating the fires and chaos you roused... Why you were running around in red robes, screaming- what was it?” He unclasped his hands, and Mel could see that he was pressing them so firm together to keep from shaking, rifling the paper under them something fierce as he fished. “Here it is. ‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Not even the Spanish’.”
“Well? Did they?”
He put the paper back down, and still their rattling again as he clenched his hands.
“These are but a handful of what you did last night. A portion of the... shame you brought upon this house, upon the name and all that bear it.”
“Well, sorry for giving poor Indians a place to shit. Should I have just left them to their streets?”
“Yes! Especially when rape has jumped four-thousand percent within the last hour!”
“Wow. They really waste no time, do they? Well, you can’t blame me for trying to do good. Blame people for being dumb.”
“That is exactly what I am doing.” Benjamin heaved an exasperated sigh, and leaned his head on his hands. He did not break his gaze, did not show even an ounce of weakness, still glaring so disapprovingly at him. The next time he spoke, though, his voice was lower, bitter. “Do you ever even stop to think about what you are doing? Do you ever simply stop and think, ‘this is probably not wise; I probably shouldn’t do this’? You didn’t only put your life at risk last night, Mel. You put millions, billions of others, as well as another colleague and two servants.”
“But sir!” Brin chided in, leaning up by Mel. She clawed at his shoulder, and he could feel that she was shivering. “He wasn’t maliciously trying to harm anybody.”
“Sure, running through the streets of Spain with bright red robes and a large golden bull codpiece on is not necessarily malicious, but it does frighten the common mass. It confuses them, makes them flock then stampede as mindless cattle. Thus, though the intent wasn’t there, the outcome is what mattered.”
“That’s stupid,” Saliim said. “That is beyond fucking stupid. I may have wished I was anywhere else at points last night, but even I know you can’t hold public accountability and interpretation on what one does to express themselves. That is how art dies, how culture stagnates. It is unfortunate what idiots did last night, but you really can’t blame what master Mel did for that. If he had gone out of his way to purposely make those people harm others, that’s different, but he was just being a buffoon. Nobody should ever take a buffoon seriously.”
“Exactly! See? Saliim gets it,” Mel said. “Even if she is just trying to cover her ass from being blasted into Oblivion.”
“The point still stands,” Benjamin cut in, allowing a little venom into his words, and the room seemed to rumble with it. “Your actions last night lead to bedlam. Chaos. Exposure... My hands are tied on this, Mel. I cannot protect nor save you from the Committee this time-”
“He’s innocent,” Melvin chided in, his eyes flashing as he did.
“They will no doubt want to make an example of you, of us, and- what did you say?”
Melvin chortled, his entire form threatening to turn to dust from the soft belly bumbles.
“It is as the young Dominus lass put it to Leovold. They were out on a date, simply having fun. Even if they were to blame, she would be held most accountable because most of the ideas were hers. He was ‘rather shy’.”
“Yeah. Yeah,” Mel mulled. “She’s not, is she?”
“Not from the Committee. Leovold? He is grounding her until he has a chance to talk with you.”
“Oh! So I’m going to die.” Melvin yawned, and rose his arms, lacing together his haggard, wrinkled, gray hands over his head. Mel waited for the fingers to simply fall apart as he gave them the smallest cracking, but only a bit of dust did before he let them drop. “Anyways, I’m simply glad to see my great-to-the-ninth grandson socializing and trying to fit in at long last.”
“It’s only been two years.”
“Really? Is that all... Well, goodbye, Benjamin. Goodbye, Mel.”
Mel gave a three-finger salute while Benjamin simply lifted his index and middle as darkness swallowed Melvin down into the carpet, leaving an inky, purple stain beside the dean. Benjamin would have most likely been displeased with that, would have grumbled about it if he was paying any lick of attention at any other location but at Mel. The vein in his head was throbbing worse than ever before, his fingers audibly creasing and creaking, sliding a bit on the papers, making smoke.
Mel cleared his throat, starting to rise from his chair lest he, too, started to smoke under the smoldering gaze.
“I think it’s about time I hit the ole dusty trail,” he began.
“Sit. Down.” Mel contemplated simply dashing to the door, but knew that his gaze was far faster than his feet and the full-length claymores housed in them would no doubt skewer him through the stone. So, he did. He sat once more. Benjamin waited a moment, still simply staring at him, unblinking, making him wonder if he could really see him at all at this point. “You must truly think you’re blessed, don’t you?”
Mel scoffed, his jaw dropping. “Me? Blessed?”
“After all, you’ve gotten away with so much in your time here-”
“I didn’t want to be here to begin with! I didn’t want to be a mage. I never wanted any of this, especially the last two years where I have been hounded by a yandere.”
“Penelope! That’s not all, either. I didn’t want to be back in school. I didn’t want to learn any of this shit. I wanted to live a normal, hard life back home with my family –a family that doesn’t even remember who I am. No friends to speak of -aside the ones I summoned, of course, but they don’t exactly have an option-, no one to truly bullshit with; me, blessed? That’s a fucking joke.” He picked up his jaw, shaking his head. “Hell, the one bit of family I see at all hates my fucking guts, which means it’s finally mutual.”
Benjamin finally blinked.
“You think I hate you? Quite the opposite; I love you, Mel.”
“Well, happy fucking hunky-dory for you!”
“If you think I didn’t, do you really think I’d stick my neck out so much? Do you really think I would risk my job, my family name, to defend you at every possible chance? I didn’t even offer the same to my brother... I loved my son, Mel. When he left for the common world, I thought that was it for my bloodline. Instead, he sired one of the strongest mages to ever walk the planet. From common blood, no less. Common blood mixed with my blood, with royal blood; Mirrodin almost had a fit when she heard, but now I’m the one laughing while her retarded granddaughter can barely wrap together two strands.”
“That’s not very nice. It’s really hard to do that. Sometimes have to suck on the tips a little, and it’s always an unpleasant flavor-”
“The point is... I love you... It’s just a shame you are trying to strain this relationship so much. It’s as if you enjoy causing me pain... I digress. The main issue at hand has been taken care of. From now on, though, I suggest keeping your dates to the campus. No more planar hopping.”
“I make no promises.”
“Then onto the next matter.”
Mel groaned, leaning on the desk.
“We’re still not done? I’m usually leaving your office by now. Nobody wants to stay here and listen to you drone on.”
Brin tittered, patting his back. “Poor master. He must have his reason.”
“Surely you must have noticed by now that the student-body has been shrinking,” Benjamin stated.
“Eh?” Mel looked down at himself. “No? Seems about the same size.”
“... The number of students in the school.”
“Oh yeah! That student-body. Didn’t think much of it, really; just thought everybody was sick of my shit.”
“Though that may be, I’m afraid it is something far more... sinister.”
“I knew it! I knew it. Penelope has been killing people, hasn’t she?”
“What? No... W... No.”
“Don’t you lie to me... this has ‘yandere’ written all over it. If we go to her room now, there’s no doubt a shrine built into the closet surrounded by thousands of cut fingers and toes while her larder is filled w-”
“I regret ever wondering what a yandere was,” Benjamin cut him off... and shook his head. “No. All evidence points to the actions of a carpet constrictor. From how quickly the populace has shrunk, it must be easily a ninety-footer, too.”
“Carpet snake, huh? Who summoned it?”
“Probably the same person who summoned the gorgon, or the Loch Ness monster. Meaning its next target is most likely you.”
Mel got to his feet again, nodding.
“Right! So keep an eye out for a ninety-foot-long roaming carpet. If that will be all, I’d like to go eat some beh now. It has been a long night.”
“Just one final note-” Mel cut him off by plopping back in the chair with a weary groan. “... pertaining to Leovold.”
“Don’t bear my neck in any way? Don’t look him in the eyes for too long?”
“He likes classic rock, and fighting games... You may go now. Have a pleasant rest, lad.”
“Don’t tell me to do stuff,” he grumbled, and kept himself bent as he rose and lumbered to the steps. Brin continued to titter behind, still rubbing his back, while Saliim was silent. Torches flickered in the stairwell, washing the marble in soft, yellow and orange light... quickly fading as they continued down it... Mel didn’t remember it getting this dark this fast. Or the stone turning to carpet... carpet... wasn’t he told something about carpet recentl- “Oh hell.”
His head snapped up, looking back in time to see the turn in the steps slowly shut behind rows of teeth, taking with it the final rays of lights as the soft “lips” curled down over them, trapping him in the belly of the carpet constrictor.