Over Thanksgiving break, Dr. Mortimer of the dept. of Life and Death admits he has no family to go home to as his parents “for some reason insisted on being cremated”

The fire was absolutely nothing to do with me.

Nor the hellgate.

A note from Dr. Mortimer West.

That was not a zombie incursion, that was a sporting accident.

"We just get our ethics from the Ethics Committee, who extract it from willing subjects."

Diary of Professor Solomon: Week 6

Began the week teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts about defences against possession. A simple exercise, with the students pairing up to summon and defend against the imp of the perverse, a minor demon which causes careless behaviour. But things had barely begun before Gregoria Pickering, the extraplanar exchange student, began arguing with Charles Grabbe, the wealthy moron, over whose dimension was worse. Then they both went full demon and attacked one another in the middle of class. I thought Grabbe was acting with unusual discipline after returning from the dungeon dimensions last week; he must have been carrying someone else with him. Fortunately I was able to restrain both with the Binding of Ash'galak before the Proctors (or worse, those damn Pyromancers) arrived, but the class was totally disrupted. Even better, I made it clear in my report that Pickering must have arranged Grabbe's possession, then attacked him, thus ensuring her expulsion. She will not trouble me any more.

Met with my new grad student, Karl Schreck. Schreck did his undergraduate work at Schweinwald, and was interested in working on the sociology and politics of extraplanar societies. I endeavoured to persuade him to assist in my work on contracts by explaining that summoning and binding demons would allow him to question them on their home dimensions and gather information for future fieldwork, but he seemed to have some sort of ethical objection to basic demonological techniques. I explained the basic facts of life to him: that demonology is a battle of wills between summoner and demon, that each will try to gain maximum advantage from a contract, and that there is no such thing as a fair deal with a demon, but he seemed not to understand. What sort of rubbish do they teach people in Germany? Its no wonder that those crumbling European "universities" are being surpassed by more modern institutions like Pigsmoke!

Unfortunately my dressing down of Schreck drew the attention of Turcuezon the Imbiber, a demon lord of great power with whom I made a pact while working as a postdoc. Turcuezon has so far granted minor favours, but had not yet demanded payment. Now he did, and I was filled with thirst. But for what? Turcuezon was unclear. I visited Trotters then ransacked my fridge to try and find something that might satisfy his need, then resorted to research. It turns out that Turcuezon was a Roman demon, and what he desired was Garum, a Roman concoction of rotten fish guts. And he wanted quite a lot of it: his usual demand was a "congius", over 3 litres. Fortunately fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce seemed like acceptable substitutes. To ensure the success of the ritual I persuaded the hospital department to part with an anti-nausea potion, planning to feed the Imbiber over the weekend.

While in Trotters trying to find what Turcuezon wanted I ran into some other CABSA staff, who were discussing Dean Smith's latest edict. Apparently all demon summonings will now require ethics approval. Outrageous! Its not as if demons are people, and some of them like being tortured (in fact, they demand it as payment). More importantly, this will make it absolutely impossible to do either teaching or research. They might as well shut down the entire department at this rate. Something must be done! Fortunately, I have just the idea to "encourage" Dean Smith to reverse his ruling...

Diary of Professor Solomon: Weeks 4-5

Week 4

After spending an unpleasant weekend in an 18-year old body, I arranged to work from home then contacted Dr West about reversing the unfortunate side-effect of his healing spell. He was happy to help, and was able to drain enough of my life force to age me back to my normal appearance. As for what he'll do with it, apparently there's a market for it in China.

When I returned to my office there was a pile of Demonology 101 marking. The students were the usual useless bunch, with Charles Grabbe the worst of them all. Unfortunately Grabbe is officially untouchable - his father paid for the new wing of the library - and I can't fail him, no matter how badly he does. So I sent him a threatening email demanding his presence in my office before the next lecture.

Grabbe did not appear. I confronted him about it after the lecture, and he said the PA had told him I wasn't in. Damn that useless minion, doing her job for once - she never tells people that when I don't want to see them. When I told Grabbe that failure was not an option, and that he would either pass the course or die, he tried to bribe me (and with only a few hundred dollars as well. Really, does he think I'm a TA?) So, I set him a special exam: summon a demon, negotiate with it for his life, and he'd pass the whole paper. He managed the first part, but the demon snatched him away to some Dungeon Dimension. Turns out he'd mispronounced the name and got something more powerful than expected. Typical first years. Utterly useless.

After considering matters for a few hours (and giving the departmental PA a piece of my mind), I decided that I should really retrieve the wretched little shit before he came to any real harm, summoned up his captor, and Commanded it to Return That Which It Had Stolen From Me. Everything went perfectly, and I sent Grabbe on his way with instructions to write me 500 words on his experience. Problem solved.

Week 5

Summoned to Dr Whateley's office. Apparently there's been a litany of complaints against me, including from that wretched PA (who belongs to a union. Relaly, where do they get these people from?). Whateley noted that I was only contract staff and threatened non-renewal unless I improved my performance. He also praised Dr Strange, who had been mentoring a grad student and helping her to get a paper published. Fortunately, I was able to argue that the additional teaching responsibilities heaped on me by Dean Smith meant that I didn't have enough time for proper postgraduate mentoring, but that things would be much easier if I didn't have to teach Demonology 101 to the first-years anymore. And it actually worked! Which is fortunate, as Grabbe had turned in the first 500 words from Webster's Dictionary as their "assignment". But now they're no longer my problem, and someone else can deal with them.

On the way to teach "advanced contract negotiations" I noticed a flyer on the department noticeboard indicating that Elenora Heck, one of my students, would be giving a seminar later in the week on the flaws that she had found in my paper. This will not stand! Fortunately I was able to pull a few strings, so that the seminar was disrupted by a long-overdue demon-invasion drill. That'll teach her.

Except it didn't. When I got my copy of Demonology Letters she had a short note in it - co-authored with Dr Strange, of course - on the matter. So now a mere grad-student has shown everyone a flaw in my best work. I shall plot my revenge...

So, while we're all waiting for the full book: any chance of a quickstart aimed at a 3-hour con introductory session?

Diary of Professor Solomon: Weeks 2 - 3

Week 2 (Continued)

This semester I am teaching a final year course on "advanced contract negotiations", based on my paper on "Gaming the System: New Strategies for Demonic Persuasion". Unlike "Fundamentals of Summoning", the students here are actually interested in the material. Perhaps too interested. After the Monday lecture, Miss ("Ms") Heck informed me that after going over the course notes and my paper, she believed she had found a flaw in my proposed contract which would enable the demon to escape its binding. Naturally I attempted to show her the error of her ways with a demonstration before the entire class. Which showed that she was in fact correct. But after stuffing the demon back into its box, I had some ideas on how to fix this problem, so at least I'll get a paper out of it. As for Miss ("Ms") Heck, she will feel my wrath.

Disaster! Dr West's practical at the end of the week was supposed to involve the students practising what they'd learned by escaping from a (literally disarmed, and dis-teethed) zombie horde. Unfortunately those damn pyromaniacs in the Department of the Elements thought it was another zombie attack, and started lobbing fireballs around in the middle of things. The lecture room was badly damaged. Worse, "Defence Against the Dark Arts" has no maintenance budget, so we can't fix it. I've submitted the paperwork to try and get them to pay for it, and hopefully it will have the desired result.

Week 3

Department of the Elements haven't responded to my demand for payment yet. They can't just ignore it... can they?

Had to lecture DADA this week, using my "best defence is a good offence" strategy. Things seemed to go well, and the students were suitably cowed into submission. But after the practical (in which they summoned demons, then seized control of them from each other), Gregoria Pickering, the extraplanar exchange student, found her way to my office (the damn PA told her where to find me! The nerve!). Pickering wanted to know if she could take the exam early so she could get on with having fun. I tried to fob her off by pointing out that it didn't matter if she actually turned up for class or not, provided she passed the exam at the end, but she was having none of it - something about her contract, I assume. Then she wanted to know if she had to kill all three masters teaching the course to graduate - or just me. Unfortunately my attempts to dissuade her simple encouraged her, and I was forced to invoke the Binding of Ash'galak to immobilise her. But not before she had taken a good chunk of my arm and left some unpleasant sucker marks on my face. As they carted her off, I saw that damn PA lurking, and gave her a piece of my mind for telling students how to find my office. She fled in tears - that'll teach her. Plenty of witnesses as well, which is good: there needs to be some proper discipline of the mundane staff.

The hospital wing was closed - something about a communicable disease due to students doing unhygienic things with zombies - so I was forced to ask Dr West for help in healing my injuries. He channelled some energy to get my body to regenerate itself, and my wounds started closing. I feel better already.

The HOD, Dr Whateley, takes a close personal interest in extraplanar exchange students - it's his name in blood on the contracts, after all - so will probably by upset about the incident with Pickering. But given her attack she will have to be expelled. Hopefully he won't stand in the way of that.

Utter catastrophe! I woke up this morning to find that Dr West's spell has not just regenerated my tissues, but rejuvenated me, so that now I look fifteen years younger! Lecturing depends on fear and respect - but how am I supposed to command the fear of the student body when I look like a squeeky freshman again? Something Will Have To Be Done!

It's been 7 days since the last zombie incident at Pigsmoke. Clearly unrelated to the reduction of my associate staff to two ambulatory cadavers. Fortunately I was able to get the remaining inventory off my hands by issuing them to students as a training exercise.

The previous "incident" in week two clearly didn't count as this was a teaching exercise as part of the planned course work. Students all handled it well and applied the teaching notes highlighted through the weeks video tutorials. It goes to show that the techniques from Romero and Rami movies, aren't a complete fabrication.

If those idiots from the Department of Elements hadn't turned up we'd not had the fire service called out either.

Diary of Professor Solomon: Week 1

(Being the diary of Professor Adam Solomon, Junior Lecturer in the Department of Calling, Binding, and Sealing Away, Pigsmoke University)

Week 1

Summoned to the Dean's office at the beginning of term. Disappointed to learn this was a joint interview with some badly-dressed vet and a bumbling necromancer, so probably not about being granted tenure.

The Dean has insisted that Pigsmoke teach a first-year "Defence Against the Dark Arts" course as Glorystaff has one. It appears that due to course coordinator Professor van Helsing's failure to return from a sabbatical in Eastern Europe, the three of us will be teaching the course. As if I don't have enough to do already...

Van Helsing is officially part of CABSA, and I was able to acquire the key to his office by making a few promises to the departmental PA about disarming all his traps. I have no intention of keeping them, but fortunately Barry the vet triggered half the traps anyway, which ought to be good enough. And if the cleaners aren't nimble enough to dodge what remains, we can always use them as meat-suits for extra-planar exchange students.

Van Helsing's office was the usual mess, so I summoned Phylothax the consumer, a basic library daemon, to find the course notes. It returned with a copy of Glorystaff's - which should teach me to be more careful with my search criteria. Still, they'll do. Dr West from Life and Death has taken responsibility for duplicating them, and Barry the vet will be teaching the first lesson tomorrow. Meanwhile, I shall study the course guide to see what else we need to do.

The course looks simple enough, with a basic defences against beasts, undead, and mind spells (hmmm... we'll need someone to do that). The demon section is all basic wards and banishings, which the students should be learning in the introductory CABSA course anyway, and it doesn't seem appropriate. The best defence is a good offence, so instead I'll be teaching them some summonings and advanced compulsions to turn attacking demons back on their masters. That ought to be useful.

Met the students at the first lecture. Made sure they knew that I don't do contact hours. Should have pointed them at van Helsing's office to disarm a few more of his traps. Fortunately Barry seems eager to deal with them (which is odd. Maybe he's looking for monster food?) Barry turned the first class into a glorified "show and tell", with a fetid toad, a fire lizard and a fear badger to instruct the students about breath weapons.

Tried to go for lunch, but the staff club was closed - something about the health department shutting them down for using non-food-grade zombies as kitchen staff. I don't know why they didn't just use possessed students instead - no health issues, and the work-study assistance contract allows it. Demons are also quite eager for flesh-time, even in menial tasks, so it would be self-funding as well.

End of week course coordination meeting. Barry has volunteered to teach the Mindbending section of the course, which saves me from having to do favours for anyone. He's also stepped up to handle the project section - a team exercise on ancient curses. Which means I can focus on my real work.

Week 2

Turned up on Monday morning to find the campus had had a zombie outbreak over the weekend, apparently as part of some failed inventory attempt by the Department of Life and Death. CABSA was mostly unscathed, but the zombies had taken everything from Professor van Helsing's office. Sadly there appear to have been no student fatalities.

Dr West from Life and Death is teaching Dark Arts this week. He seems to be using the "watch a video" method, with modern material, as a way of explaining what not to do. He's also talking about a practical at the end of the week, which may be an opportunity to winnow the herd.

Crisis! My former office-mate Dr Serjeant has noticed that Professor van Helsing's office is now empty and is trying to stake a claim! which would mean that she has a larger office than me, despite teaching fewer courses. Over my dead body! Fortunately with van Helsing still on sabbatical and not reported dead, this should be easy to put a stop to...

(...to be continued...)
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