Thousands of questions flashed through my mind, the foremost being where this boy learned such a dark art. But I must delay that, and learn exactly what was his pact.

"Lance, this is important. What was promised to the beast in return for his false loyalty?"
He turned to the other two in the room, looking to them as if he sought a way to escape through them.
"I said, this is important. Please, answer the question."

The boy sighs, head drops in shame.
"I never wanted these horrible events to happen. I thought I could fix this and get him out before anything happened..."

"Lance, I need to know, what was your pact?"

"...I promised him my innocence."

This must be a joke.
"Lance, how do you expect to give such a non-substantial thing?"

"I didn't think I would. But I've noticed over the course of this horrendous event, I've experienced such things that I cannot imagine I'd have gone through otherwise." He walks a little bit away. I keep watch, ensuring he doesn't try to edge closer to the door. "Innocence isn't something so non-substantial. To demons, it provides untapped power. I was a fool. By enacting the ritual, I started down the path of guilt. My wonder was replaced with a dark reality. And it culminated in the death of my brother, Mars..."

I am finding myself more and more perplexed.
"How do we keep him from taking it then? I can't save us if we have a fully powered demonic entity destroying everything."

"Then why don't we get to the part of this where we stop that from happening? Who brought the other big bad beastie here?" Con offered his two cents. And he had a valid point.

"Yes, Lance why would you think to summon a second demon? Where did you learn of such a technique?"

"An old book. I had found it a long while back buried among the dusty shelves of the library."
As Lance recounted his story, I looked around. Something is off-putting.
"I didn't think much of it, until I tried one of the spells is listed. Turned a yellow flower bright blue. But it wasn't until much later, I thought of its true use. I learned that someone was summoning a demon. And... it... was.."

Something is still off. Why can I not see it? What is interrupting my thought process?

"...Who was it?"
What was Lance doing?
"I-I can't remember..."

Lance was struggling. This should be an important fact. Something he could easily remember. He brought forth a deadly monster because of this fact, and yet he doesn't remember who did this?

"Con, break the circle."


"Con, Break. The. Circle."

My cohort looked over at the spirit of Marcellus. The chalk circle encompassing it.

"But Branner, you said the circle holds him together. Won't he dissipate?"

"He's being held together by the spell, yes, but there's something else with him. The delay in the initial curse breaking shows there's something worse in play here. It was a trap. Break the circle!"

Con finally responds and runs to the circle. He hesitates for a moment, but succeeds in wiping part of my chalk away. The light is blinding. The breaking of the spell shines to every corner of the room. The lack of sound was unnerving.

As it dies down, I'm greeted by an astounding sight. Marcellus is still in his humanoid form. Con and Lance are staring at the scene open mouthed. And I can't really blame them.