Esme felt her heart sink as she walked into the room, it was clean but that was about all that could be said for the place. Not that it really mattered, she wouldn’t be staying long anyway. Just that morning it had all been so different. She’d had a dorm full of minions who’d obeyed her every whim, access to a huge store of knowledge and was getting close to full mastery of her powers and now this. Where had it all gone wrong?
Five years previously Esme had arrived at Brazeneck University knowing exactly what she wanted and what she would do to get it. This was her chance to make a mark, to really explore her powers and to have some fun while she was at it. She spared no thought for the family she’d so abruptly left – what did they matter to her, she was more than them now.
Accommodation in the dorm was pretty basic, students were expected to spend most of their time in the shared areas. Esme was unimpressed.
But that was quickly fixed (so what if there were rules against painting the walls and destroying the furniture) and she had a room perfectly suited to her needs. There wasn’t room for her cauldron but she would sort that out later. Now it was time to take a look at her new dorm mates.
She made sure her room was locked tightly, both physically and magically. Just because she wanted minions didn’t mean she wanted them invading her private space, unless invited of course.
At first Esme tried to act like a normal student, going to class and doing her term paper and assignments but she soon grew bored. She either knew everything being taught already or she wasn’t interested.
She hadn’t come to the university for the course, she wanted the degree yes but the subject held no interest for her (it was just the easiest one for her to pass). No she’d come to Brazeneck College because they held the largest collection of mystical writings on the Disc.
Technically undergraduates weren’t permitted to access the archives but Esme had never let rules hold her back.
The more Esme learnt, the more knowledge she desired. The books in the archive were an amazing resource but they lacked something – the personal touch. Perhaps she could find the warlock who’d changed her and convince him to teach her.
Her life wasn’t just about study, a number of male dormies had caught her eye and with a heap of charm and a hint of magic they were putty in her hands.
She quickly decided the single bed in her room was simply not adequate and she wasn’t terribly happy with inviting other people into her private space.
Luckily one of the rooms on top of the dorm contained a double bed which some enterprising student had placed up there years before.
It had been fun but she felt no special connection with the guy, it didn’t mean she wouldn’t woohoo with him again but she wasn’t going to be monogamous either.
From the second semester onwards she utilised her growing powers to persuade the dormies to handle her coursework. What did she care if it left them no time to complete their own work, let them fail, there were plenty more to use.
This left her with plenty of time for her magical studies.
It also gave her a chance to seek out the warlock whom she’d met as a teenager, it was easier than she expected, in fact she felt drawn to him. After a brief talk he readily accepted her as his apprentice and they set to work. “ Excellent, I can tell you’ve made quite some progress on your own.”
“ You have already surpassed all my previous pupils. There is something very special about you my dear.” “ You are an excellent teacher, I’m sure I wouldn’t be this advanced without you guidance.” “ You flatter me.”
“ Relax.” “ This isn’t my first time you know.” “ It’s your first time with another witch. Woohoo between witches is more than just physical, it’s a quite magical experience.” “ I bet you say that to all your students.” “ Just you, I said you were special my dear.”
After finishing her undergraduate degree Esme enrolled on a postgraduate program. Where else would she find such a ready supply of potential minions/playthings. By this point almost everyone in the dorm was either in love with her.
There were a few that seemed resistant to her thrall. They never lasted very long – driven out by the oppressive atmosphere in the dorm or by her minions.
Dorian was one of these. He was never comfortable in the dorm and Esme’s presence worried him for a reason he was never quite sure of.
He did his best to avoid the shared areas, shutting himself away in his room to read or study.
When even that got too much he began spending all day at the library or community centre, only returning home to sleep.
He even took to grabbing a snack from a vending machine or the campus café to avoid the dorm cafeteria.
It wasn’t all bad, he did get to meet students from other dorms who only confirmed his feeling that there was something wrong with his.
Just because Dorian was doing his best to avoid Esme didn’t mean she left him alone. He rebuffed every approach she made, politely but persistantly.
The more he rejected her the more Esme’s determination to have him rose. It wasn’t that she was particularly attracted to him, she didn’t like being told no, it was now a matter of pride.
“ You look annoyed my dear” “ It’s one of the new guys, he keeps saying no to me. That’s not meant to happen! Nothing I’ve tried works on him and he seems determined not to drop out.”
Aaron considered for a moment, it was a risk, but it had been long enough, he was sure she was ready. “ There is a way you could bend his will to yours. Come, let me show you how it’s done.”
“ That’s it, concentrate and focus your will. “ I know this seems strange, you would think making your target into a witch would give him more power, but that doesn’t have to be true. You can use the transfer of power to take control of his will, make him your puppet. Remember that if your target wants to be changed this is the easiest spell you have, if he doesn’t you’ll have to break his defences first, but I’m sure that won’t be a problem for you.”
“ With this power you can be as subtle as you wish, if you choose even the victim need not be aware that he is no longer in control of his life. Or you may choose to break his mind and make yourself a mindless slave. I shall leave it to you what you choose.”
Esme decided to give Dorian one last chance before unleashing her new power. It would be more satisfying to conquer him without needing to destroy his will.
Dorian, however, was not budging. “Look, I’ve said it before, I’m not interested. I’m sorry but I’d rather you left me alone.”
That was it! How dare he reject her yet again?
She summoned her magic, recalling the motions and incantation Aaron had taught her, and began the spell that would change Dorian into a witch and unable to disobey her.
“ Dorian!” The shout broke Esme’s concentration and her spell began to fail. Dorian started to fall.
Edward’s focus was on Dorian as he rushed towards the pair, he hadn’t even realised who the green-skinned assailant was. Esme was quicker to recognise her sibling and the shock of realisation terminated the spell. Dorian hit the floor chin first.
Reaching Dorian Edward reached out his hand, desperately hoping but fearing the worst.
He had never felt so relieved as when Dorian lifted his head, looking dazed and pale but mostly unharmed.
As he helped Dorian to his feet his mind finally made the connection. “ Esme.”
Edward turned to face his sister but she was already disappearing into her room.
He rushed to catch her but wasn’t fast enough. The door shut in his face and when he tried the handle it was locked.
“ Edward can we go please? I don’t think I can stay here right now.” Dorian’s voice sounded faint as he gently reached out to Edward. Edward turned feeling a little ashamed he’d rushed off so quickly. “ Of course.”
Having shut herself away Esme was hurriedly gathering her most valued belongings. Now Edward had found her the rest of the family couldn’t be too far behind. At the very least he’d tell Dorfl and then he’d come looking, Roxy too probably. The thought of seeing her parents filled her with dread, she wasn’t ready. She had to leave now!
By the time they’d reached Edward’s dorm Dorian’s colour was returning to normal but he was feeling drained. “ I still think you should see a doctor, I’m worried about you.” “ There’s no point, what doctor would believe me or know what to look for?”
“ I’m sure I’ll feel better after a rest, do you mind if I use your bed for a bit?” “ Of course.” Despite his reassurance Edward was still worried, who knows what Esme had been doing to him.
Edward tried to distract himself with work but try as he might he couldn’t stop worrying about Dorian. He’d feel a lot better if someone with more knowledge would tell him Dorian would be ok. Then something occurred to him.
“ Hi dad. I could really use your help, Dorian’s been attacked…” “ No, he’s ok, well he says he’s ok, but that’s why I need you.” “ Can you just come over, I’ll explain properly when you’re here.” “ Thanks dad.”
“ Dorian?” “ Hmm?” “ I know you said there wasn’t any point seeing a doctor, they would never believe what had happened. But dad will and he’s on his way over.”
“ Before he gets here though I need to tell you something, it’s about Esme.” Edward grabbed his desk chair an took a seat facing Dorian.
“ Who?” “ The one who attacked you, that’s her name.” “ Oh she was calling herself Endemonidia.” “ Well her full name is Esmerelda Discworld and she’s my sister.”
Not seeing a reaction from Dorian Edward continued. “She left the night I became a teen, before I ever knew you. She was my best friend in the world when we were children but she changed. Something happened when she became a teenager, she changed so much Dorian. The last time she spoke to me her words were so full of anger and hate. “ I’m so sorry,, I should have told you about her, warned you, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”
Edward couldn’t even bare to look at Dorian anymore so he didn’t see Dorian stand and walk softly over.
Silently Dorian took Edward’s head in his hands and lightly stroked his hair.
Then gently lifted Edward’s chin coaxing him to meet his eyes. “ You couldn’t have known what would happen Ed. Maybe it would have been different, maybe not, it doesn’t matter. This isn’t your fault, none of this is you fault!”
“ Thank you.” Edward managed a weak smile. Dorian said nothing, just leant forward and gently kissed Edward's lips.
Just then they heard the sound of a car pull up outside the dorm. “ That’ll be your dad.” “ You sure you’re ok he’s here? I can ask him to leave if you want me to.” “ It’s fine, you’re probably right, I should get a doctor to check me over.”
“ Thanks for coming dad.” “ So what happened?” “ Can you just check him out first please dad. It’ll be easier to explain if I’m not so worried about him being alright.” “ Show me to my patient then.”
“ Aside from the scrape on your chin you seem fine Dorian. I do want you to keep an eye on him just in case Edward, probably best if he stays here tonight. I think you’ll be ok, but if anything seems off see a doctor as soon as possible, you can always call me if you need to.” “ Thank you Mr Discworld.” “ Call me Dorfl. Edward can we have a word.”
“ Talk to me Edward. All I know right now is that Esme attacked him with some kind of spell. I need you to tell me everything now?” So Edward recounted what he’d seen and what Dorian had told him.
“ Hmm, she’s probably long gone by now, she’s not stupid. I’ll call the university anyway just in case, and I’ll see if I can get Dorian different accommodation for if he’s not comfortable staying in that dorm.”
“ Just one more thing son. I want you to promise me that you’d won’t abandon your studies to go looking for your sister.” “ But, dad we need to find her.”
“ No. Your degree is important, Esme will be looked for but not by you, not now. If, by the time you’ve graduated, she hasn’t been found then you can join the search, but not before. Promise me Edward.” “ I promise.”
Dorfl drove home thinking over recent events. By the time he’d parked the car he’d come to a decision. It was time to do something he’d been putting off for a while.
The house seemed normal enough. Not that he even knew exactly what the person inside was, and what the house of that kind of person (whatever that was) should look like.
He wasn’t sure whether to take the cowplant as a good sign or not.
“ Hello Dorfl, um, Mr Discworld. I wasn’t expecting to see you again.” “ I thought it was about time we sorted things out between us. Plus I need your help with something.”
“ There’s a project I’ve been working on for a long time, unofficially. I seem to have hit a brick wall though.” “ You mean using the principles of alien impregnation to allow same-sex pregnancy for males as well as females?”
“ How do you know what I’ve been working on?” “ I read your papers, they’re quite fascinating work. Putting them all together makes it perfectly clear what you’ve been working on.” “ Of course, sorry. I know you’re in a similar field, that’s why I came to you. I’m just being over-sensitive.” “ No problem, why don’t you tell me about it over a cup of tea.”
“ It’s all because of the legacy really. I’ve been fairly certain about naming Edward as my heir for a while now, haven’t told anyone yet, I need to sort out a couple of things first.” “ The issue of children.” “ Exactly.” “ Edward would need to have biological children to continue the family, and I’m sure he’d chose Dorian over being heir if that was the choice.”
“ And you’re trying to make male/male pregnancy a possibility to enable Edward to have children with Dorian.” “ That’s it. Plus it would help a great number of other couples, it might also be used for female/female if it’s easier than the current methods.” “ There’s certainly great potential there.” “ I’ve got the results of my latest tests with me if you want to have a look.”
“ Interesting, you’ve made some major advances but you’re right. The technique just isn’t ready yet, there’s still something missing.” “ Any idea what?” “ Just from this? Not a clue. I’ll need to have a proper look at your data and try a few things myself but I don’t think it’s an impossible goal.”
“ Come by the lab tomorrow and we can start work. I’ll let security know to expect you.”
In her tatty room Esme stared forlornly at the photos spread on the floor. It seemed so long ago, almost a different lifetime, a different Esme.