Kait

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"...We agreed that it would be temporary," Chloe answered. "And given what I mean to her... I don't think she'll pull that out from under me. She's probably the best choice I could ask for, too. It's just... you know, this is a big step."

She moved into position at the center of the circle. The whole thing only took a couple of minutes. She began to mumble, and at one point, she cut into her own hand, letting her blood drip onto a particular symbol in the circle. Chloe raised her voice just a little bit, and Arach would be able to hear: "I, Nikuzamach, give to you all that I am, body, mind, and spirit." And then she bowed down, almost kowtowing, as the candles around her seemed to snuff themselves out one at a time.

Sitting upright again, her breath shook. Nona came to heal the cut on her hand, then helped her stand up on wobbling legs, shivering. She felt an overwhelming sense of shame and humiliation, and a sense of loss, like something important had been sucked right out of her. Her eyes started to water. "That was supposed to be the easy part," she said, starting to chuckle. "Demon lords with a vested interest in me pledging my fealty to them lied about how painless it would be. Who would have fucking thought?"

She went over to sit down at a desk next to Arach. "I'll... probably need a minute, before we do the next thing." She closed her eyes. Ozerchabal was watching Arach very closely. "Plan A is to sneak in some of your blood, and get your freedom that way. But if that fails, I'm thinking I'll just have to openly negotiate for you."
 

Hyper

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Arach said no more after that, giving nothing but a hum in response, letting Chloe know that she'd heard her answer. She stood to the side, letting Chloe take the first step in her plan. Arach watched with apathy in her expression, but never tearing her gaze away from the scene before her. The bigger part of her felt nothing, the other half rung a feeling not too far from sympathy.

She didn't utter a sound until Chloe spoke after she finally sat upright, sharing the chuckle Chloe had. Only, there was bitterness lingering behind the spider demon's. "Some demons tend to make everything sound so simple. You wouldn't expect one to tell you what would and wouldn't hurt," she said. No one had to tell her it was painless or not; it was an idea she had an inkling of long before she could grasp the concept of existing. But she wanted the benefits that could come with it if she were to become indispensable. Apparently, there was never such a thing with as indispenable when it came to him. That was her mistake.

"Gather your strength; you'll be need it." She was well aware about Ozerchabal's watchful eyes so she made no move to step away when Chloe has sat next to her. "I can try to help but if, and I want to say if, it fails, it might be better for you to kill me then and there." She didn't want to imagine what could happen if that would be the case. If it wasn't for herself, it would be for Chloe's best interests -- Mikhainon still had power over her until it was over and they succeeded. "I doubt it would even be possible for him to answer to any negotiations so there shouldn't be any alternative plans. Do not hesitate, the moment you do, we let him win. And that's the last thing either of us could want."

 

Kait

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Chloe sighed.

"Alright! Plan A or bust, then, I guess!" She picked up her dagger again. "I'm gonna need to draw some blood. So hold your hand out."

She would cut into Arach's palm. The idea was, she would refer to herself indirectly in the ritual, talking about the blood on the dagger. Mikhainon would be banned from interfering in the lives and families of the people whose blood was on that knife, and the only way Mikh could come back into their lives is if he agreed to their terms for doing so - and even then, they would have to set those terms first. Assuming any of this was going to work.

Chloe also had a letter with her. She would be burning it in the ritual - it detailed her reasons for doing this, and Mikhainon would get to see all of it. She didn't expect that it would change him going forward, but it wouldn't hurt.

"Arach just told you the new plan B," Chloe said to Ozerchabal. He nodded. Chloe was not looking forward to explaining that to their firefighting friend if it came up. "And whatever happens, Arach, Thanks for... everything you've done for me. It was a lot."
 

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The familiar said nothing more; nor did she show much of a reaction to Chloe's sigh. It was a matter of technicalities; if they don't get to free her from Mikhainon, he could have easily ordered her to become a threat while she remained here. At the very least, killing this form would have saved her some trouble in the future. It was a mere trade-off, she wanted to say, for having at least attempted in her stead. It was a feat she couldn't have done herself, after all.

Arach smiled at Chloe as she stood off to the side after her blood had been drawn. "It had been a pleasure working with you, Chloe," she replied, a ghost of a smile appearing on her face. She wanted to say her own thanks as well, but she instead reserved it, wanting to show nothing more than what had already been said until eveything was done. The next move was now all on Chloe.

 

Kait

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Before the ritual had even started, Chloe cut Arach's hand open and made sure plenty of her blood was smeared on it. Nona healed the cut shortly after. Then, Chloe placed the knife at the edge of the circle.

All in all, it was a long and complicated ritual. Each candle around the circle had its own significance and its own chant, and that was just the opening act. At one point, Chloe actually stabbed the knife into her hand, almost all the way through it. It twitched painfully while she plunged her knife into the center of the circle. There would be a hole in the tile floor when they would be cleaning up. At no point did her incantations cease - she stabbed herself without missing a beat, muttering something about "on the behalf of the blood of this knife" over and over again.

Her final incantation saw the center of the room near the circle become notably darker than the rest of the room. The air would become hot, then cold, then hot again. The room reeked of sulfur. Chloe stopped chanting - her eyes were closed, eyebrows furrowed.

A pillar of smoke rose from the center of the circle, swirling around the knife. Then, it vanished, the candles went out, and Chloe collapsed, convulsing. Nona ran to Chloe's side to make sure she was okay, while Ozerchabal held his golden horn up, backing away from Arach and pointing it at her, waiting for any sudden movements from her.

Soon, Chloe was able to choke out a few words. "It worked." She needed help standing up.

Ozzy muttered something about how he guessed she was good now and got those leather cuffs off of her.
 

Hyper

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Arach stood to the side with a neutral expression as the ritual began, not showing so much as a reaction, a wince or whatsoever as Chloe went down from each and every candle in the circle. At least that was on her face; her hands seemed to give away a little more than nothing. Her arms were where the cuffs would allow it, just in front of her as she watched, but every so often, her hand where the blood was drawn twitched slightly, though only Ozerchabal would be the only possible witness to it due to proximity.

Events happened and didn't, none of which seemed to faze her and Arach's eyes would go from Chloe to Ozerchabal and back. Even when Chloe fell, it almost seemed like Arach wasn't seeing anything and stood there despite the fact there was a weapon aimed at her. Perhaps, she could already feel it at that point, a feeling of relief even though no one in the room knew if it was over, but she stood there, making no move until Chloe gave a signal for the Ozerchabal to lower his horn.

Only then did she let a small smile break out from the frozen expression, and only then after the cuffs were removed from did she make any move from her spot. She might have looked like she ran as soon as they were off her wrists but no one could probably tell. Maybe Ozerchabal would have noticed it but she would pay him no mind when she rushed to Chloe.

Her pace slowed as she approached the two. "You've done well, Chlo," she said, as she went to Chloe's side. "Knowing that makes having been your familiar more worthwhile." Her voice gave away a lot of things in her mind, her thoughts and feelings. Arach knew she couldn't stay working for her; she would have to leave. She needed to find her place again and leave her side. Perhaps she could leave this realm, though it would be such a waste to throw away this form.

 

Kait

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Nona helped Chloe stand up. She seemed to be... very disoriented. Chloe's eyes couldn't focus on Arach even though she was clearly trying to look at her.

"Thanks." She closed her eyes. "So, uh, what now, Arach? Want me to dismiss your contract to me? Or do I not even need to do that?. I'm kinda... blanking on the exact terms between us." She had Nona lead her over to a desk to sit down. "I could also... you know, actually pay you for babysitting sometimes either way. The girls seem to like you."

The guy with the fire extinguisher was still wearing his sound-blocking charms, looking at his phone ever since the candles went out, not yet realizing that it was over. Nobody cared enough to tell him he could leave.
 

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Arach was quiet, for the moment she had no response. She looked at Chloe with an unreadable expression as the girl tried to focus -- she couldn't quite blame her for it. Having to do that ritual would be taxing, and she knew it well enough. She took that moment to think; Arach hadn't really quite planned anything past Mikhainon, all things before her now were quite honestly a blur. She needed time to recollect and make a new course for herself.

After a moment of consideration, and Chloe was already sat down, did she give her reply. She leaned over to a desk next to Chloe. "Perhaps... it might be best we could part ways," she began, turning her gaze to the other student sitting unaware at a table from across the room."There are things... that I must do and I don't quite see staying here as a benefit. The offer sounds lovely, Chlo, but I have to decline.

"The contract still stands at the moment, it is yet to be dismissed."

 

Kait

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Chloe took a deep breath in and sighed it out. She had hoped that Arach would be willing to stay around or at least be a sort of ally or friend. But letting her go was the right thing to do by any metric. "Fine. That's reasonable. Consider our contract nullified. You are no longer in my service, and you're free to go where you want and do as you wish at your own risk."

She blinked a few more times. Hard blinks, scrunchign up most of her face and lasting seconds at a time. Her father had really messed her up in there, and she was still getting her bearings back.

"So, uh, now that you don't have to do anything I say. Would you be willing to help us clean up? I can't just leave these symbols lying around."
 

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Arach's eyes seemed to laugh when Chloe asked her to help; in a normal situation she would have left as soon as she was dismissed, but she decided to let Chloe have one last favor. "Sure thing, doll. One last," she chuckled.

She helped clearing the last remains of the ritual, choosing not to speak much for the time being and avoiding conversation until it was over for sure. With the last traces of it gone, Arach raised her voice, not even turning to the group when she did. "I'd wish I could stay longer, but I should be on my way," she told them, mostly Chloe in particular.

She looked back to Chloe, a small smile on her face, "It had been a blast, Chloe." Without waiting for any other confirmation, her form crumbled, a clump of spiders forming in its ruin, most of it skittering away, back into the dark shadows of the room, a few evidently heading out the possible exits until they were out of everyone's line of sight, leaving nothing but a red card where she once stood, a heart written into it and the words "until next time."

 

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