Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of Summons
Meanwhile at an island paradise in another dimension.
“You ever do all the hard work and get like none of the credit?” Dr. Callyco was laying in a hammock tied between two palm trees. The gray wolf was in a second hammock not far from his.
“I mean all the time.” Dr. Cutie Pup sighed. “Remember the whole mirror incident and Super-“
“Ah! Ah! Ah! Cutie Pup! Ixnay on the irrormay!” Dr. Callyco waved his arms wildly. “Anyway, before we dwell on that any longer! Let’s get started with tonight’s tale!
Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of Summons
“Bill… Bill… Bill. Letter for someone named Bill.” Calvin grumble as he went through the mail. He wasn’t expecting anything unusual. Really, it was aggravating that he got mail at all. Most of these bills Calvin had set up on automatic payment. And yet they still insisted on sending him a paper copy every month. Nothing good ever game in the mail. Discounting video games and other things he ordered online.
Calvin wrote return to sender on one of the letters and started tossing each of the others into the trash one by one. He would open the letter, verify it was a bill that was already paid, then toss it. In addition to bills there were three credit card offers, which he also tossed. Then one last one which he almost tossed before realizing it was something important.
Not that it was anything good.
“Jury duty.” Calvin groaned. As if life wasn’t busy enough, now he’d have to spend an entire day at the courthouse and probably not even get picked. He’d most likely miss work, and the compensation provided for jury duty wouldn’t be enough to cover the gas getting to the courthouse. Well, might as well see what date he had to be there. Maybe it’d be on his day off. He wasn’t sure if that would be better or worse.
Upon opening the envelope Calvin found there was only a single piece of paper. It had no writing on it. But there was an intricate drawing on it. It was a circle, with several smaller circles inside of it. Between each circle were a series of symbols and shapes. Calvin wasn’t sure if they were supposed to be some foreign language, or just someone’s design choice. He did recognize one symbol. In the smallest circle in the very center was a five-pointed star. A pentagram.
“What the heck is this?” Calvin stared at the letter in confusion. “Some kind of magic circle?”
Yes. Yes, it was. And it was at that point said magic circle began glowing brightly on the paper. The glow from it lit up the entire room until it was too bright to see. And then just as suddenly the glow faded. And Calvin was gone. The sheet of paper fell to the ground by itself and burst into flames. Then because physics still exists even when the world is trying to be fantastical the carpet caught fire.
As for Calvin. He was in heaven. Well, it probably wasn’t actually heaven. But there were lots of marble pillars, statues of various creatures, including a few angels, and a lot more beasts, buildings that all looked like temples of sorts and roads made from silver-colored stones that felt like normal pavement.
Also, it would seem that this city, or whatever it was he had magically been transported to was floating in the sky. Calvin walked near the edge of a road and looked over it. There was nothing but sky as far as he could see. He had a sudden sense of vertigo and quickly backed away from the edge falling onto his bottom. He had no idea what was going on, but falling a possibly infinite distance wasn’t going to make things better.
“Ah you must be the new recruit.” A rather deep, yet not intelligent sounding voice spoke up. “Ah, so you’re one of those ones who has a human form. Take it you like to do the whole secret test of character thing before your contract?”
“What are you talking about?” Calvin demanded as he was trying to process the fact that the universe had ceased making sense. He slowly stood up and turned around. And then he saw the source of the voice and fell back again.
A massive dragon, one which Calvin was no taller than its shins. The dragon had silver glistening scales, stood on four legs, had a pair of ram-like horns and six pairs of angelic like wings.
“What?” The dragon asked confused by Calvin’s response. “There… Oh no I didn’t get a smaller beast stuck in my wings again, did I?” He looked over his back as he began to flap his wings but quickly realized there was nothing there. “Okay… Was there something on my face then?”
“Who… What… Where…” Calvin stammered trying to ask questions but the massive mythical creature standing next to him that could probably end his entire existence with a mere thought was making it difficult to think.
“You seem… A little disoriented…” The dragon tilted its head. “Summoning sickness? First time traveling by summoning spell huh?” The dragon laughed. “Oh, I remember my first time. It took them three weeks to repair the damage from when I walked through a wall.”
“Who are you?” Calvin managed. The fact that the dragon was talking as if this was just a normal watercooler conversation between two coworkers was making him less anxious. The dragon didn’t seem to be interested in killing or eating him.”
“Oh where are my manners?” The dragon asked. “I’m Kronzukalatianeai.”
“What?” Calvin simply blinked.
“Most people just call me Krozu for short. The name doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue easily.” He shrugged. “I didn’t pick it. But funny story. Apparently, they had trouble spelling my name the way my mother wanted and for the first twenty years of my life I was actually named Cranzu Macaroni. Ohhhhh, it took them years to get it fixed legally.”
“I… Just… What?” Calvin stared blankly. “Where am I?”
“Oh right! Sorry, got sidetracked thinking about the past! Welcome to the Celestial Realm, home to the heavenly magical beasts.” Krozu grinned. “Basically, you’re in processing right now, which is why I’m here it’s basically my job to do that.”
“Processing of what?” Calvin asked.
“Magical Beasts like you of course.” The dragon laughed. “Now then, what do you say you jump out of that human form so I can analyze your strengths, weaknesses and elemental affinities?”
“I am human.” Calvin insisted.
“Ha! That’s a good one!” Krozu barked with laughter. “Would you believe you’re not the first one to make that joke though? Someone always makes that joke at least once every five or ten years.”
“I’m telling you I’m really human!” Calvin insisted. “I got a weird letter and then was here!”
“Oh yes the summons.” Krozu nodded. “So yeeaaaaah gonna stop you right there. As the person in charge of processing I’m responsible for sending those out. I’d think I know if I had accidentally sent a letter to a human. I mean that’d mean I sent it to the wrong universe.”
“But… How would you know if you made a mistake?” Calvin asked. “I really am human.”
“Riiiiiiiiiight.” Krozu gave the smile of someone who was playing along but clearly though the other one was crazy. “You must be one of those mysterious types that likes to keep your true power under wraps… So… That means you’re either super high tier… Or the lowest tier possible but advance to god tier once your new summoner has taken the time to build you up.” The dragon looked thoughtful for a moment. “Well… If you don’t want to show me your true form. Fine.” He held up one of his four paws and snapped his claws. A floating red and white target appeared in the air about 100 feet away floating over the sea of clouds.
“What is that?” Calvin looked out at it not sure what he was expected to do.
“A target.” Krozu replied as if it was obvious. “Go ahead and use your eye lasers, breath weapon, ki beam, or projectile spines to hit the target. I’ll use that to get a gist of what tier you are.”
“I can’t do any of those things.” Calvin stated bluntly.
“How about energy balls?” Krozu just saw Calvin shake his head. “Acid spit? Sonic screech? Teleporting knives?”
“No, I don’t have anything like that! I told you! I’m a normal human!” Calvin insisted.
“Uh huh. Well, I know that’s not true since I sent out the summons myself, but I’ll give you credit for sticking to the bit.” Krozu nodded and a clipboard and pen appeared floating in the air before him. “I’m going to go ahead and mark you down as bottom tier, but room for evolution. I guess you can reveal your true form or whatever when you finally get out of here.”
“How do I get out of here?” Calvin demanded. It was clear the dragon was going to refuse to believe he had made a mistake. So, it was best to just focus on trying to get home than trying to continue the current conversation.”
“Same as anyone else.” Krozu shrugged. “Take a contract then come when you’re called.”
“Okay, but what if I wanted to just go back home instead of being summoned by someone?” Calvin asked.
“You are home silly!” Krozu raised one paw and gave Calvin a condescending pat on the head. “This is where all heavenly magical beast live.”
“But I want to go back.” Calvin insisted.
“Oh no! We can’t have that! Have you seen what some of us can do?” Krozu asked. “Move continents, fload countries, turn into a spaceship in a society that has just discovered steam technology. Could you imagine the chaos our powers would wreck if we could just go anywhere?”
“It’s like you’re trying to be unhelpful.” Calvin held a hand to his forehead. It appeared, there was only one way forward. “Alright, how do I get a contract?”
“Take the road straight out, take the second right, you should see a silver staircase. If you see a gold one you went too far. The contract department is up there.” Krozu asked.
“Uh huh.” Calvin was already walking. Talking to the dragon was hurting his brain.
“Hey! Aren’t you forgetting to say thanks?” Krozu called after him.
“Thanks for what?” Calvin asked.
“You’re welcome!” Krozu seemed to only hear the first part of the sentence.
Calvin’s thoughts had cleared a bit. But he felt very out of place in this strange world of beasts. As he walked along the road he saw several of them, most bigger than him. He pulled the hood of his hoodie up over his face feeling slightly unsteady around everyone. Who knew what people were going to make of him? Eventually, he found the silver staircase. It was made for someone several times his size. Each step was about as tall as Calvin’s shoulders.
“You have to be kidding me.” He started to climb. This was going to take forever.
The good news about spending several hours climbing giant stairs was that it gave your brain a lot of time to process information. As a result Calvin was much calmer. The bad news was that when Calvin finally got to the top he collapsed. Every single muscle in his body ached. He slowly rolled over and saw one of the temple-like buildings before him. If a contract really got him out of here, at least he could talk to other humans and try to get help getting home. Summoning all of his willpower, he forced himself to stand and head inside.
Where there was a massive silver dragon with six feathered wings sitting behind an enormous desk.
“Krozu!?” Calvin asked in confusion.
“Yeup.” Krozu replied. “Welcome to contracts. We have all kinds of applicants to be summons looking for their first summon… Or if you’re looking for more advanced work…”
“If you’re in charge of contracts too, why did you make me climb that giant staircase? Why not just set me up there?” Calvin demanded.
“What are you talking about?” Krozu asked.
“You just sent me from processing where I was already talking to you, all the way to here just to talk to you again.” Calvin explained.
“I don’t have any recollection of that…” Krozu shrugged.
“It was just a few hours ago!” Calvin shouted.
“Ah, you must be new. Hours don’t exist here. Neither does the idea of time. At least the idea of linear time.” Krozu explained.
“Huh?” Calvin stared at Krozu dumbfounded.
“From your point of view you went through processing first. From my point of view we’re just meeting for the first time.” Krozu explained.
“But you had no idea who I was when I showed up.” Calvin stated bluntly.
“Well obviously I would feign surprise.” Krozu replied. “I mean if you had just arrived in the celestial realm and I had already met a later you who didn’t know about the time thing yet then you would have just been confused if I knew who you were. So, I pretended, or will pretend I had never seen you before and treated you like all new magical beasts.”
“But… Then why did I still have to come here? Why not just set me up with a contract back when I first met you?” Calvin demanded.
“Well obviously it was because I had already set you up with a contract earlier for me.” Krozu replied in a matter-of-fact voice. “If I were to give you a contract right then and there, then this meeting would never have happened. Because this meeting happened I can’t give you a contract there because that’s my future. I’ll remember this and have to play out events as they happened. I mean… Do you want me to break time?”
“But there is no time.” Calvin stated dryly.
“I mean you’re right. But you’re also wrong.” Krozu gave a shrug. “It’s weird quantum stuff. Over my head.”
“I officially hate this place.” Calvin muttered under his breath. “Well, since this is your first time seeing me, I don’t suppose you’d believe I’m human?”
“Yeah, I was wondering about the whole human form thing. Gonna guess you tried to play a little joke on future me?” Krozu gave a chuckle. “Well, nice try. But I wouldn’t have sent you to Contracts if I wasn’t 100% certain you were a magical beast.”
“Just… How do we do this contract thing so I can leave?” Calvin asked.
“Alright let’s see what I have in the system on you.” The dragon stared into space as his eyes glowed bright blue. “Hmmm, so you’re one of those low power high potential types. Best to set you up with someone starting their journey.”
“Yeah, sure, whatever.” Calvin muttered.
“Alright… Got the perfect one for you!” Krozu grinned. “A boy whose father was a great hero and perished in the war taking the evil overlord with him. Leaving his kid to mostly be raised by the village his father saved. Well, turns out the evil overlord said father killed isn’t dead. Well, he is. He’s kind of undead, and is going to burn down that village and send an army of zombie monsters to pillage it. The boy will be corned, and then his powers as a summoner will awaken. You show up, save him and the two of you set off on a journey to defeat the now undead overlord.” Krozu paused. “After a few other adventures first of course. You’d get destroyed if you went straight to the overlord.”
“How… Do you already know that’s going to turn out like that?” Calvin asked.
“Well obviously because I’ve spoken to you after the assignment was completed.” Krozu replied.
“Come again?” Calvin stared at him.
“Oh yes, I had to pretend this was our first meeting just like I’ll have to pretend later was our first meeting. I’ve actually seen you line eight or nine times now.” Guess it’ll be number ten when I put you through processing.” Krozu sounded proud.
“How many of those times do you tell me is your first time?” Calvin asked.
“All of them I suppose…” Krozu replied.
“But… Why? At this point I already know!” Calvin insisted.
“Yes, but you see I didn’t know that you knew yet and this is how I remember things going so they’re how they’re going to go. Just as I’ll pretend to not know you in Processing later.”
“My… head hurts.” Calvin muttered. “I just want to leave…”
“So, you’re excepting the contract? Wonderful. You’ll be summoned to your new partner’s side right away!” Krozu exclaimed.
“Now wait just a sec-“ Calvin tried to interrupt. But suddenly, he was somewhere else. The area was lit up with golden light and he was in free fall. “Now what!?” He fell, seeing no sign of the ground beneath him. Just golden light in every direction.
And then something came into view. A glowing blue circle. It was just like the one that had been in the letter. But this time instead of being printed on paper the magic circle just floated in the air, existing on its own. Calvin fell through the circle.
And suddenly, his hoodie was torn as two bat-like wings sprung from his back. Then two small straight horns jutted out tearing the hood. The hoodie fell away as the rest of his body changed. Some of his clothing ripped, other pieces simply fell off. He sprouted a tail, felt his spine changing shape. He briefly saw that he had paws. And… He had wings! He could try to fly and get out of this freefall!
Right as he got the idea though another magic circle approached. This one green. Calvin passed through that, and suddenly he had all four feet, and it was four feet now, planted firmly on the ground. Smoke hung around in the air as Calvin picked up the scent of burning wood.
He barely had time to process that, for there was a giant lizard almost as big as he was standing in front of him. Parts of its skin had rotted away revealing a skeleton and no actual internal organs. This must have been one of the undead monsters Krozu had mentioned. It didn’t look so tough.
And then it spat acid at him.
“Seriously!?” Calvin demanded. He flapped his new wings by instinct lifting into the air to avoid the spit. “Will everyone just give me a minute to try to understand any of this!?” Calvin demanded. As he did his tail moved beneath him. He didn’t even realize he was doing it as the tip of his tail traced out an invisible circle. Suddenly, a beam of golden light erupted from where the circle had been drawn, striking the undead lizard. The monster gave one hiss before it burnt up in blue flame.
Calvin had won. He didn’t even know how he had used that spell or whatever it was but he had done it! He landed on the ground, happy to have a moment. He clearly wasn’t human anymore. Somehow, this was less surprising than it should have been. Probably because of having to deal with Krozu.
He sat down on his haunches, and looked over himself. Paws with little beans and hidden sharp claws. Orange and black fur all over his body. His tail was mostly orange except for the black tuft on the end. Then he had the horns which were small nubs really, and the wings. He was some kind of winged lion! But why didn’t he have a mane? Maybe a winged mountain lion? He supposed this could have been much worse.
Come to think of it Krozu mentioned there should be a boy. Calvin turned around looking for him, and found a giant kid sitting with his back against the building. It wasn’t just the kid that was big. The entire world was. Or… Wait…
“Are you kidding me!?” Calvin shouted. Despite being a winged lion, he was no bigger than a normal housecat! The lizard he fought hadn’t even been giant! “Not only am I not human anymore but I’m also small!? I look like someone’s pet not some kind of magical guardian.”
“Um… Are you okay?” The boy asked.
“It’s… It’s been a day.” Calvin sighed. At least he could still speak English. Was he speaking English? This clearly wasn’t Earth. It was probably best not to try and think about it too much. “I don’t suppose you know anything about opening portals to other universes?”
“No…” The boy shook his head. “I didn’t even know I had inherited my father’s summoning powers till now!” The boy slowly stood up. “You saved my life. Um… You need a name… How about-“
“It’s Calvin.” Calvin interrupted.
“Huh? Aren’t I supposed to get to name you when we start off a journey?” The boy asked.
“How would you feel if I tried to change your name at the start of this journey?” Calvin asked.
“Point… Taken…” The boy rubbed the back of his head. “Just in the stories dad always named his…” The kid trailed off. “I’m Luther by the way.”
“Okay… Great… So, I’ve gone from time traveling bureaucrats to having to save some kid. Oh, this is a wonderful day.”
“Um… Excuse me… What are you talking about?” Luther asked.
“Don’t worry about it.” Calvin gave a heavy sigh and counted to ten in his head. Truth be told, this form was not without its appeals. He was more frustrated with the confusion and being thrown into all this without a proper explanation than the actual transformation. The kid had nothing to do with that… And he was supposed to be the kid’s summon so he should probably try to do the best to keep him alive. “Where are the rest?”
“There isn’t anyone else here.” Luther shook his head. “The monsters who set fire were led by a woman clad in black armor that even concealed her face. Had a lot of spikes on said armor too. Anyway, she ordered the lizard to kill me and left with the rest of them.”
“Considering the lizard is well… Me sized, it feels like you could have handled it on your own.” Calvin pointed out.
“Look what do you want from me?” Luther asked. “I’m ten years old. I just now learned I have magic. And that thing couldn’t be hurt through any conventional means. Drove a pitchfork through its head, and it didn’t even seem to notice at one point. Also, it could spit acid. This is a lost to thrust on a kid at once!”
“You’re telling me…” Calvin muttered. Though, he supposed he was still an adult. Studying his body, proportion he was definitely an adult lion. Just no mane, and he was house cat sized. He felt less like a magical guardian beast and more like some kind of mascot. “But if there’s no one else around, can we take a moment to find out exactly what’s going on. Trust me, I’m just as confused about the situation as you are right now and have about a million questions.”
I see…” Luther looked around. Say… Can we go somewhere that is less on fire to have this conversation?” He gestured around. “I don’t want to be a downer, but seeing my hometown burning to the ground is putting me into something of a somber mood.” He paused. “But the villagers are still alive. The lady in black armor took them as slaves. If we can find her, we can save them.”
“Great, but as you said let’s find somewhere less on fire to discuss this.” Calvin decided he was just going to have to roll with this. Besides, he recognized an obvious adventure hook when he saw one. And who knew? With magic being real in this world he might be able to find a way to turn back into a human and go home.
If he wanted to become human again. He flapped his wings and flew up and landed on Luther’s shoulders. This form was growing on him. Even if it was a little small.