Lemma the Librarian: The Choosing One, Part 3

Not much, it turned out. Iason’s
sword could hurt anything that drew its life from magic, and Brea certainly
qualified, but with the amount of magic she had to play with, it would take a long
time for the sword to seriously affect her. Other than that, well, vampires are
creatures of darkness and death, so light, fire, and life are the weapons of
choice. But she pretty much ignored my fireball; I could pull bigger, but it
didn’t seem likely to do more than a flesh wound. And sunlight barely slowed
her down. Poking her with a stake seemed like a longshot, too–her skin was
probably stronger than Iason’s armor. 

What we needed was a powerful,
concentrated form of one of her weaknesses. A sun god could probably destroy
her, maybe a powerful fire demon or dragon breath. But none of us had any idea
where to find a god or a dragon, and even if we were willing to ask Rhoda’s
help, by the time we went all the way to Alba and back Brea could disappear

As night fell and the burning castle
died down to dull red embers and ash, we still hadn’t come up with anything.
Except: “What about that spell?” Iason asked. “That
super-powerful spell, the one from the book Brea handled?" 

"It could kill her,” I
said. “No question." 

"Well then what’s the
problem?” Iola demanded. “Do you not know how to do it?" 

"I started to read the book a
while back,” I admitted. “But I didn’t get very far.” Because
it scared the fuck out of me
, I didn’t say. 

“Well, how long would it take
you to learn to cast it?” Iason asked. 

“I already know how to cast
it,” I answered. The others stared at me, and I sighed. There was no way
of getting out without explaining it. “The Rite of Uncreation is one of
the simplest, easiest spells I’ve ever seen,” I said. “It takes
hardly any power, and a novice could learn it in an afternoon. The first page
of the book told me everything I needed to know in order to cast it.”

“Then what’s the problem?”
Iola looked confused and a little pissed. I guess I couldn’t really blame

“The rest of the book is the
problem,” I said. “It’s everything that can go wrong if you fuck up
casting it, in order from least bad to worst, and how to adjust the spell if
that starts happening. It starts with the caster being instantly killed.
I got as far as the spell draining all life force around it, turning every
living thing for a hundred miles to ash, and then I gave up. That was disaster
scenario twelve. There are a hundred and eight." 

"That’s…  bad,”
Iason agreed. “It can go that wrong?" 

"I barely scratched the surface
of how badly it can go wrong. Why do you think nobody casts it, if it’s that
easy and that powerful? Practically everyone who’s ever tried just killed
themselves, or themselves and their friends, or themselves and their friends
and their enemies and everyone else for a hundred miles… Nowadays they just
teach us that it exists and to stay the hell away from it, and now that I’ve
read some of it, I can see why!" 

"So… are you saying you can’t
use it? Or you won’t?” Iola asked. I hesitated. 

I… I don’t know. It could be worse
than she is.“ 

"I highly doubt that,”
said Brea.

We all whirled to face her. She’d
done it again, snuck up on me like it was nothing. Iason and Iola had just
enough time to drop their hands to their swords, and I was able to start
calling up power. Then Brea lifted her hand, and all three of us floated into
the air. My entire body went limp from the neck down. 

“I’ve come to offer
terms,” Brea said. “Terms!?” Iola practically screamed in fury.
“We’re not going to rest until your head is mounted on a stake, vampire!
You’ll pay for what you’ve done!”

 Brea looked sharply at Iola.
“Hush. I wasn’t talking to you.”

 She turned back to me.
“Lemma. I will make this offer once: serve me and live. Defy me and

Serve you? What the
fuck does that mean?”

Brea smiled. “Exactly what it
sounds like. As distasteful as your kind of magic is, we have a use for

We? “I don’t work for murderers!”

Brea  waved a hand
dismissively. “You work for Lemuria, don’t you? Even a  small empire
has killed far more people than the most prolific of my  kind. Which, I
must admit, could plausibly be me.”

Well…  okay, that wasn’t
completely wrong, but war and executions aren’t the  same as–okay, no,
not getting into philosophy with a vampire!
 were my friends you killed!”

Brea examined her nails.
“Really? I’m sure Mira wasn’t. Can you name even one of the others?”

“…Those were Iola’s friends
you killed!”

Iola made a strangling noise, like
she was trying to speak but couldn’t. 

“True. But I spared her and her
brother. Haven’t you wondered why? After all, I have no need of them.”

…Oh. “Bargaining chips,”
I snarled. 

“Precisely.  I need you to
understand that I am serious. So: at nightfall tomorrow I  shall return
for your answer. If you refuse, your friends will suffer. I  shall return
again the next night, and if you refuse, your friends will  suffer more,
until they beg to die. The third night, if you refuse, you  will join

“You bi–” I started, but
was interrupted by my sudden plummet to the ground. By the time I was back on
my feet, she was gone. 

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