Markus Erasmus sat in headmistress Nisha Friedrick's office in silence for what felt like an eternity. He crossed, uncrossed and tapped his legs over and over again in discomfort over the silence. The room was in a turmoil that matched the rest of the campus. The two large windows that overlooked the main quad were completely shattered and broken leaving jagged pieces of glass jutting out of the wall. All told, Markus imagined a pair of giant open mouths, one on either side of mistress Friedrick. A pair of mouths ready to eat her?
The secret wall had been slid back to reveal her armory. A strange collection of weapons and artifacts that she held in private in case the school had been attacked. There was an empty spot on one of the shelves where a large and frightening looking gun of some kind had been. The school had certainly been attacked. Though most of the glass, broken plaster and other assorted debris had been cleaned up throughout the campus and even in here, it was clear that a battle had taken place.
The way that it had been explained to Markus, someone had sabotaged the Lily White Faire. That group had created a machine that infused targets with so much mana that their bodies burned out from the inside. Luckily, a different group had managed to uncover the culprit and stop them but, not before they made an attempt on mistress Friedrick's life. She was almost killed but some technological intervention allowed the energy to be siphoned out. Things were going well until, somehow the infusion weapon had a violent collision with a different experiment. This one created a pocket dimension that had been carved out of the aether. The two collided and triggered each other into a massively destructive whirlwind of interdimensional energy.
In a way, Markus wished that he had been there or could have studied the phenomena. To him, it was all incredibly fascinating. Eventually, a implosive weapon had been used to close the rift. This left some people on the opposite side of the rift. Apparently, they were stuck in the void. The members of the group on this side used a complicated and rather risky summoning spell to call their companions back. This led to yet another battle as beings on the other side didn't want to let them go without a fight.
Either way, it ended up with a lot of minor damage to the campus.
Now, Markus was sitting and waiting for mistress Friedrick to actually speak. She had been pouring over his reports with an intense eye. Occasionally frowning. Finally, she looked up. She took a deep breath and seemed to stare deep into him. Most of the time, mistress Friedrick struck Markus as the kind of person who is so busy thinking that they forget to feel. Once in a while, Markus finds himself wondering if she can feel or if it's all a jumble of clockwork in her head.
Today, she had a look of wonder.
"They chose to stay behind?"
"Yes, The Necromancer-Graves wanted to avoid punishment for his actions. The others seemed to have their own reasons to stay as well. Cain particularly seemed to be concerned about being unmade."
"Did you give them reason to believe that Graves would meet punishment or that Cain would be unmade?"
This made Markus confused, "Well, Necromancy is a forbidden magic…"
"Why is it forbidden?"
Markus and mistress Friedrick had held conversations about this in the past. It was difficult to discuss this topic with her. Everything was a debate with her. The appeal to authority was never enough for her. His belief was that necromancy was a dangerous magic because it dealt with things that simply were poorly understood and should be restricted. Her mind was set on the idea that just because something is poorly understood isn't enough reason to deny it's study. It was a long running discussion.
"The judgment came down. It doesn't matter how you or I feel about it, it's just something that we have to deal with," Markus said.
"…right," she said after an uncomfortable silence.
"Still, Cain had no reason to believe that he would be unmade. He is as innocent of wrongdoing as anyone else."
"Well, he asked and I did say that it was a possibility."
She sighed lightly and pressed a finger to her temples.
"Why would you say such a thing?" She asked.
"Because it's the truth."
"The truth is often inconvenient. Either way, that isn't true in this circumstance. We would have protected him. We could have protected all of them."
"But the necromancer-"
"Is a student," she interrupted. "Like any other student, he came here and was studied. Like any other student he was carefully investigated. We were aware that he was likely a necromancer. I told you so myself."
"No. No, Markus. You've allowed your own fear to lead you down a path that may have condemned these people to death. That is on your head. That is the reality of what happened there."
"Mistress Friedrick, I-"
"We won't talk about this further. Tell me about the artifacts."
Markus opened and closed his mouth a few times like a fish who suddenly found itself out of the water. "I… We came across the prototype, the gate and the sword."
She stood and walked toward where one of the windows were and looked out at the quad gesturing him to continue.
"The prototype was exactly what we thought that it would be. When given enough power, it should act as a smaller scale Aegis, an impenetrable shield. It would be perfect for our needs."
"I'm going to need it mobile and ready in three days."
"I don't know if that is enough time… We don't know how much power or even what kind of power to give it."
"Well then," she said "take it to the high energy building and allow Professor Hassoud to… bang on it."
"With respect to Professor Hassoud, this is an ancient relic that should be treated respectfully."
"Well then, ask Professor Hassoud to bang on it… respectfully."
Markus stood still for a moment. Was she joking?
"The gate and the sword need to be studied thoroughly and prepared for use."
"Mistress Friedrick… Nisha, you are really going to go through with this?"
"I've sat in this office and made my plans since before I was headmistress. I am enacting the first phase of the plan this evening."
"So you're going to publicly denounce and challenge every government on the face of our planet? You're going to spit in their eye and dare them not to blink?"
"Don't worry Markus." She said, "I will do so… respectfully."