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Who would have thought performing unknown rituals has consequences?

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The candles were burning low, her latest essay had been carefully blotted dry, and everything else was finally in order for the night. Lachesis was cleaning her teeth, getting ready to sleep, when Lorelei burst into her room, not even bothering to knock. "Lachesis! You'll never guess what I found!"

Lachesis jumped at the sudden disturbance, spitting out a mouthful of water. "Gods, Lorelei! It's almost midnight. What is it?" In the corner, her dusk cinersi Calida chattered sleepily, annoyed at being woken from her doze, and at anything that would make Lachesis not get enough sleep. Various other birds roosting in the room opened one beady eye to glare at Lorelei without lifting their heads.

"Oh, hush," Lorelei shushed the birds. "I think this is worth losing some sleep over. I was helping out at the Artificer's Association today, and look what they just found!" She shoved a lightly singed parchment at Lachesis.

Lachesis took the parchment and read it, lifting an eyebrow at the contents. "This is a frankly irresponsible amount of saltpeter," she noted. "I'd accuse you of trying to make a bomb, but none of the other components needed for that are included. What am I looking at, exactly?"

Lorelei grinned. Lachesis got the distinct impression that she was trying very hard not to jump up and down with excitement. "It's the ritual for making their newest creature! Don't you want to try it and see how it turns out?"

Lachesis didn't answer immediately, instead calling upon a small bit of magic as she traced her finger over some of the words on the parchment, making them glow, before handing it pointedly back to Lorelei.

"Aw, come on, Lach," Lorelei pouted as she glanced over the highlighted words. The creation of Odan Galopin's Flaming Comet is restricted to high ranking members of the Association. "We're both no longer students. Well, okay, we're no longer fresh students," she amended, when Lachesis snorted. "We've each already graduated once. Besides, you've dabbled in golemancy before and I heard Kieran say you were considering transferring your studies to spell and ritual creation--"

"That was an offhand comment!" Lachesis exclaimed, cutting Lorelei off. "I wasn't serious!" She glanced reproachfully at her friend. "Besides, none of those things make me qualified to attempt a high level artificer ritual. How did you even get your hands on this, anyway?"

Lorelei glanced around the room. "Well," she said. "You know how the artificers tend to have a lot of...mishaps in their line of work."

"Yeah?" Lachesis asked.

"So, being a healer who specifically is a fire magi, I recently got assigned to the rotation of healers on-call for the Artificer's Association, meaning I got called in earlier to help when someone managed to spray a bunch of fireballs everywhere or something." Lorelei paused. "Well, I assume that's what happened - the room was full of scorch marks. Anyway, no one was too badly hurt, fortunately - there were some nasty burns, but nothing we couldn't fix - so we helped clean up a bit once everyone was attended to."

"Let me guess," Lachesis sighed. "You found this ritual in the burnt room you were helping to clean." She tilted her head as a thought occurred to her. "Don't the artificers usually do their experiments in special labs? One where they specifically scorch-proof the walls and it's designed to release every anti-fire spell in existence if any fire touches the walls or someone yells - or signs - or even just thinks hard enough about the activation word?"

"Yup!" Lorelei replied. "So presumably they just messed up a ritual that's not supposed to actually cause that much damage."

"And what makes you think we won't mess it up?" Lachesis asked. "When the professionals apparently did?"

"Well, they didn't think there was enough of a chance to, or they would have used their special lab." Lorelei grinned, in a distinctly bear-like manner. "So, are you going to help me with this or not? If you won't, I'm sure Donovan would be all over this."

Lachesis shuddered. Lorelei was right, this sort of thing was right up Donovan's alley, except he'd been rejected from the Artificer's Association twice already for setting everything on fire during his exam. The exam materials were specifically spelled to not do that. At least if she helped Lorelei and something went wrong, they were a bit less likely to burn down a whole wing of the Keep.

She was curious, too, just what creature the artificers had cooked up. It would be neat to be one of the very first magi to have a new type of companion, just this once. And the ritual really couldn't be too bad, if the artificers hadn't used their explosion containment lab, could it? "Dang it, Lorelei," Lachesis said, mind made up against her better judgement. "Fine, I'll help you with the ritual."

Lorelei's grin grew wider. She'd clearly known exactly what sort of reaction she'd get from Lachesis. "Excellent! In that case, I convinced Tirian to give me access to the storeroom with meteor iron - I told him I wanted to do some experiments with starmetals' abilities to store healing spells--"

"Not now," Lachesis interrupted. "It's well past midnight and I've got class in the morning. Come to the potions labs after lunch and we'll talk."

"Fine, fine," Lorelei grumbled, and left, presumably to also get some sleep. Lachesis shook her head as she finally crawled into bed.

"Wonder where Lorelei gets all that energy from," she muttered to Calida. The cinersi chirped sleepily, not bothering to lift her head from under her wing.

"I'm trying to sleep, calm your feathers," Lachesis grumbled, closing her eyes, wondering what exactly she'd gotten herself into.