The irrepressible mage was, momentarily, repressed.
"You...you know my name? How is that possible?"
"Aaahh...that's too complicated to answer. Tell me, Parman the not-quite-so-great-as-he-thinks, what is the correct word for 'demon' in the summoning language?"
Parman huffed and looked quite offended. I managed to stifle my laughter.
"Every child prodigy knows that. Roldor."
"Good! Now look carefully at your notes and tell me what you actually said."
"Look at your notes..."
He frowned and glanced down at the book that sat on a rock by his hip.
"What's written there?"
Again with the offense, as he puffed up. "It says roldor! Right..." He stopped and peered at the page, then leaned closer.
"What's it really say?"
"Well..." he looked properly discomfited. "It does say roldor but the word was...smudged a bit and now it looks like roldoe."
"Very good! And what does the word roldoe mean?"
"Um..." He scrunched up his face in thought. "Teacher? No, it ends in so heh, so it's peritave. That makes it learner!" He finished on a triumphant note and I gave him my best parental tired smile.
"Good! You're so smart!" He began to puff up again. So adorably stupid. "Now, what do you suppose that means?"
He scrunched up his face again. "Well, I suppose it would mean that the ritual..." He paused.
"Um..."He began to flush and fidget. "The ritual..."
"Didn't work," he finished in a whisper.
"Oh, it worked all right!" I gestured at myself, only then noticing that I was back in my party dress and Cole Haan pumps. So that's what that demigod asshole was doing when he touched me! I didn't need to check to know my swords were gone as well - their familiar feel had become an empty space on my back. I cursed under my breath. Start over, indeed!
Parman blinked and then blanched. "You...so you're..."
"A regular old college student, not a demon, that's right."
Parman sagged. "So close. I was so close."
"You were! Although I've met some of the daedra and I'll tell you, if that's what you were trying to summon, be glad you got me instead."
Parman blinked and waved a hand. "No, not a daedra. I do not think any ritual in the world could summon something so powerful. No, I just wanted a minor demon, like an imp or a succubus."
I snorted. "Yes, I bet you would have loved a succubus."
His eyes gave a brief flash of anger. "Don't be ridiculous. I didn't want that."
"Right." I cut off his continued protests with an irritated grunt. "Well, now that that's all settled, how about sending me back?" I knew what he was going to say before I spoke, but I figured it couldn't hurt. He blanched and began humming and hawing again, muttering about space/time and fractals and components. I waved him silent. "I figured that's what you would say, and I don't think I could live with myself knowing that the dragons are going to destroy the world in twenty years anyway. So..." I looked around, ignoring his incredulous stare and the beginnings of his protests, "...what kind of weapons and armor do you have stashed around here?"
"...been dead for...what? Armor? I don't have any armor. What are you..."
I interrupted again. "I suppose that should come as no surprise. What about weapons?" I moved around the tiny cave as I spoke, trying to find things that would be of use. I found a bag that contained a few tattered scrolls and dumped them out (ignoring his, "Hey!") and grabbed some wine bottles and stuffed them in the bag (ignoring another, "Hey!"). I definitely needed a drink. I grabbed a couple loaves of crusty bread and some cheese. A chest in the corner (complete with a poorly made trap that I purposely tripped just to watch Parman jump out of the way of the gout of fire) yielded a robe similar to Parman's, a dagger, and a pair of worn boots. I grabbed them and began stripping off the dress, which momentarily quelled his protests. Used as I had been forced to become to being naked, I barely noticed his gaping stare as I slipped on the robe and replaced the pumps with the boots. I added my Earth clothes to the bag and turned back to the mage.
"Well? Any weapons beyond this dagger?" I grabbed a length of twine and used it as a makeshift belt to both cinch the too-large robe tighter around my body and to tuck the dagger behind my back.
"I...no, I don't..."
"Oh, wait, Is that a bow?" I pushed past him and found a pile of bones against the far wall. Sure enough, a draugr bow and a quiver of arrows lay among the bones. "Ah, there were skeletons here when you got here, eh? Nice." I grabbed the arrows and attached the flimsy quiver to my flimsier belt and tested the draw of the weapon. Not for the first time, I marveled at the endurance of these ancient objects.
"Now look," Parman began as I shouldered the bow and hoisted the bag, "you can't just barge in here and take..."
"I didn't 'barge,' you yanked me here because of a fucking typo. You can't send me back, so you owe me big. This is about the smallest payment you could reasonably expect."
"Plus, you need me. The dragons are going to be waking up any time now - some of them might already be around - and when they do, this world will need my abilities."
"Your...what are you talking about?!"
I waved a hand as I strolled by him. "You will see in time. Probably. Now that I think about it, I never found out what happened to you. Maybe, if you stayed here, you were safe from the purge. Anyway, I need to go talk to Lysha. Bye! Thanks for dragging me into this mess, you incompetent ass!"
His sputtering half-words followed me up the path to the exit of the cave and were cut off by the slamming of the door (again, who puts doors on caves?) Silence and golden sunlight made me pause for a deep breath before I turned to the task at hand. If I remembered correctly, there were bandits roaming nearby. It would be just my luck (and probably Sanguine's wet dream) if I began my second chance by becoming enslaved right off the bat. I tied the bag around my hips, eased the bow to my hands, and set an arrow to its string. Best to be ready for anything.
Don't feed the bastards. Feed yourself instead.