My stomach rumbles.
I knew I should’ve eaten before the ritual, but too late now. Besides, better for my sensitivity to be hungry, the more aware of my surroundings, if the more likely to mess up as well. Oh well, no one said magic was going to be easy.
I can’t let the thoughts of what to eat afterwords distract me from what I’m doing. I can already feel some of the energy slipping away, leaking back into the unformed void. I refocus, pulling it all back into shape. It’s like gathering putty or clay together, unyielding and… goopy. Then trying to harden it into the shape I needed…
My stomach rubles again.
Deep breath, ignore it. I didn’t waste $75 on chalk from the cliffs of Dover, overnighted, or crystals from the four corners of world. I need this portal…
There’s a sudden, not-audible, whoosh as the pressure in the room drops, and with it the temperature. My breath comes out fogged as the crystals begin glowing and the chalk lights up from the glow. The spirit within rumbles, throws itself against the bindings and then turns to me. The thing is no bigger than your average toddler, except hunched over, a snout with long whiskers coming off the end the only thing to poke out from the depths of a hooded garment. Rat-like hands test the binding once more, and the thing turns to look at me.
“Who are you? What gives you the right to call me from the depths?”
My stomach groans. “Lawkeeper of the Depths. You will answer my questions to the best of your knowledge, without complaint and with complete honesty.”
“You do not command me.”
“I do not bargain, either.” A shaft of brilliant white energy arcs from the crystal towards the spirit. It screeches, mostly in the ultrasonic range, as far as I can tell.
“The day will come, mortal, when you shall be under my care.”
“Yes well. In the meantime I’ll just have to make offerings in apology. Father always said better to ask forgiveness than permission.”
The Lawkeeper looks at me. “Ask your questions.”
“Accept my terms.”
It sighs, throws itself against the bindings for a brief moment. Another arc-flash, another screech. Finally it looks back up at me.
“I accept. I will answer to the best of my knowledge without further complaint and with complete honesty.”
A picture comes out of my jacket, I turn it towards the creature. “This man has had trafficking with the dead. He calls them forth from the Depths in order to accomplish his foul deeds. No mortal can bring him to heel for his crimes. The living demand justice.”
It looks like its about to turn around and walk away, then stops, slumps forward. “I’ve not heard of deals broken or sundered, nor have I seen that man.”
“What tenant of your domain has made such deals, has wandered back to the physical world. Give me their name, that I might question them.”
“They are not lawbreakers, I have no command over their names.”
“One of them is. One of them has broken the balance and killed a guardian. Find that ghost and deliver me their name.”
“This is not our bargain.”
“I do not bargain, Lawkeeper.” Another arc-flash. This time I don’t stop until the thing screeches out an agreement. It is panting on the floor of the circle. The chalk undisturbed.
“I will bring your their name, guardian.”
“Without vengeance or malice. They are Lawbreakers. Do your duty.”
A growl, this time not from my stomach. With a deep breath I pull the energy closed, sealing the portal, the chalk bursts into embers briefly. Another expense I can’t afford.