Chapter 28: The Might and Horror of Grand Loop Magic

For but a moment, there was nothing else in the world of the sisters other than themselves, they hugged and cried. Reunited.

For but a moment, they forgot that they were faced up against some chlan power, possibly of their own making.

For but a moment, they were not in a dark and cold realm, filled with the aura of the lost.

They were together and glad.

There was a gasp.

“Koolah, your hands, oh my your face, your fur, your body!” Jadah exclaimed.

Like a fussy mother hen, Jadah checked over the magic backlash wounds that Koolah had taken.

“You always push yourself like this sister. Qusheab dear, will you go get some balms, set some herbal tea boiling too”

“Yes~” Qusheab sang as she pounced off the bed and skipped into the brewhall.

As soon as Qusheab left, Jadah slowly spoke.

“We’ve come too close to destruction this time. If it wasn’t for those charms…”

Slowly Koolah shook her head.

“This time, we’ll talk about it with Qushqush present. She’s the heir and… I don’t think we can reach the root of this matter unless we restore our memories somewhat.”

“That will be difficult. Time and serendipity is needed for that normally, healing them with magic, that is hard”

“Creation and destruction those are two paths of healing magic”

“It should be possible in this realm, we can make use of the resonance between us too”

Silence moved in as Jadah tended to Koolah’s strained patterns and fitful heartflame, giving them the spiritual equivalent of a massage. Silently Qusheab came in furious concentration on her face as she balanced a tray piled with cakes, biscuits, cups and kettles.

“I thought we could raid the last of the stores”

A warm fond smile passed over Jadah’s face, and even Koolah’s sour face twitched a bit.

“What a good idea dear” Jadah said.

Koolah did not say anything, but she, without a word she poured herself a cup of tea, took a plate with a slice of cake and began to elegantly sip and eat.

There was still time.

So, once more, the three sisters forgot about the world outside, forgot about the weight of the legacy of their pride and most certainly forgot about their current matters. They simply had tea and chattered about pointless inconsequential things. Just three sisters enjoying an unexpected tea party.

Whatever else would happen, whatever power they desired, whatever knowledge they looked for…

The lust for ways of magic had not extinguished this. The mystical had not slain the mundane, the mundane had not slain the mystical.

It is in matters of these, that magicians maintain their sanity and personhood. Else, would they be naught more than vessels of power, tossed about by the flows of magic?

In each thing, its time, and in time, the teaparty ended with the clink of a cup upon a saucer. To rest forever would be a life as empty as that of those vessels gone astray, drowned in power, in magic.

“We’ve dallied about quite enough sisters. I have some idea as to what we should do, but first, we should each speak of what we’ve seen and done”

There was not even a hint of disagreement. Each told their tale, Jadah didn’t avoid speaking of her shameful actions towards Wauldigg. Koolah did not beat around the bush concerning what she lost and gained from the dragonsmaiden Yovra, she finished by explaining the idea of a plan that had formed between her and Zamelnah. They all went quiet as they pondered the information.

“Perhaps we should lay it all out, in sequence?” Qusheab nodded.

Jadah nodded, and Koolah spoke.

“It began… with us coming to this place. We had some objective in mind, to brew something particular…”

Jadah continued.

“…our plans and preparations were in order, everything was moving as we wished it to…”

Qusheab followed.

“…something went wrong. A mandragora, probably an ingredient from the brew, became twisted and calamity overcame us”

Koolah finished.

“We went through several cycles, being murdered in a number of them, before we broke out of the lure of the loop”

“The most important question…” Qusheab mumbled.

All three sisters said it at the same time.

“What was the brew we were working on?”

There was only one thing left to do. The answer had been with them all along. They had not needed to go searching, yet they would not have realised that searching was pointless unless they had gone.

They had to repair their memories.

More words were pointless.

They joined hands, and closed their eyes, and their memories flashed past them, from joyful youth to grim tragedy to persistent survival. The flow of magic was disturbed by this, and the wards of the cottage opened but a little, like pores of skin and the power of the loop came through.

The memories went around and around, growing faster each time they passed through the minds of the sisters. Finally they shattered into pieces, all before their minds at once. Every moment at the same time.

The sisters opened their eyes, which were flickering with these shards of memories. Qusheab spoke first.

“This is the third time we have reached an event like this, the charm is the key”

“We succeed this time, or we fail forever, till someone saves us or we are distorted to destruction” Koolah groaned.

“What arrogance did we have… thinking that our wards could escape the loop. The most we can have is this moment of awareness. The loop came around everything.” Jadah said.

“It will fade, hurry we must brand our purpose back into our minds” Koolah urged.

“Will we finally be free this time?” Qusheab worried.

“Just remember why we came here dear. We will forget everything else” Jadah soothed.

That is the horror of the grand loop magic. One can only escape it by being outside of it. What people believe, again and again, is that they will be different. That they can resist the pull of the loop. Once one steps inside, one becomes part of the loop.

Not long after the sisters finished branding the memory anew, there was a knock on the door of the cottage, Wauldigg around for his kit.

Not long after that, Koolah sent out the sign she promised Zamelnah.

The bait was set.

The brew only had one last ingredient it required. Then, all mysteries would be boiled away.

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Chapter 27: One Becomes Threes with the Cycle Anew

Lines of them marched yet again.

Koolah waited.

Once-dead, those whose physical bodies had failed them, experiencing the first death that many beings of Kigan encounter in their existence.

Koolah yet waited.

They were dead long before they were trapped here.

No flesh remained between their bones and their mail hauberks, nothing to stop the metal plates of their armour from clattering. No hair escaped between the angular plates of their helmets which jutted out past their unending grins, no lips remaining but thanks to the helmets, they still had rusted jaws of metal.

Koolah, still living, unbound by the magic that bound the defenders and the besiegers, waited.

The foot soldiers were armed with spear and shield, the heraldry of the shield worn away, leaving a ghostly indistinct beast on each shield. Their side arms were maces once shaped in the form of a beast’s head, long eroded into something that looked like a clenched fist.

For a brew witch, time is very important. Each brew cannot be boiled over its time, lest it be ruined. The time for Koolah to act had not yet come.

To the sides of these soldiers were more of their fellows but these once-dead were mounted on great skeletal lizards, though for all the rotted cloth and armour, you would have not known that only bones remained.

The flow of magic began to stir, and Koolah gently urged it, but she still waited.

Thrashing behind them were crevice kraken. These were fall smaller than their nightmarishly huge water dwelling cousins, but the octopus-like monsters were still massive. These however, were but spirits, their heads caged in crumbling metal towers, their eight limbs bound in rings that skeletal mages and archers were affixed into. The physical and the ethereal, one binding the other in place.

Normally the magic of the loop would claim the spirits of those who die within its boundaries, and with the start of a new cycle it would destroy the old physical and create anew, binding the ethereal once more! Koolah and her sisters had defied that through the charms they bore.

The towers once had proudly displayed the craftsmanship of their owners. Long had been the day when those owners had lived to feel pride, to create wonders and see their wonders crush nations around them.

This army of the dead marched again to siege again the sparkling city that lay crushed before them.

The charms held both spirit and flesh! Pattern and form! With them, Koolah would direct the remaking of the loop magic!

This city was what they opposed, what they fought against over and over and over. A bastion that looked as if some deity had hammered the night sky into castles, manors and spiralling maze-like walls, all arranged as the petals of a flower of people.

The charm, one that became three that became one floated above Koolah, and the flows of magic seethed.

The city had not been taken, not once.

“One remains, three there where, three there shall be again, by the law of this realm, by the hold of the magic, let that which was sundered be knit whole again, spirits unblemished, in reflection of that which remains unwounded, untainted, unbroken” Koolah chanted, her hat shimmering with emerald light.

The city had long since fallen.

For a moment, there was the flickering image of a green cauldron around the charm, and the flows of magic crashed within! The cauldron swelled and Koolah nearly fainted from the forces at play, but she stirred the flows onwards, her hands developing blisters as if she was stirring boiling water.

The lowing dirge of horns called out, announcing morning and the continuation of the once-dead’s siege.

As sudden as it started, the push of the flows stopped, and the green cauldron was covered in cracks. White and red light beamed through these cracks along with the thunderous sounds of the cauldron crumbling.

Yet the light of morning, in all the frozen cycles, did not once reach this place, far beneath ice, deep in shattered stone.

The cauldron shattered! Not into pieces, but into two smaller cauldrons.

Lines of them marched again, and would march again, for this is not our story, not their story.

Not the end, not the freedom from the loop that these soldiers were trapped in.

Our story is in this place, that so long ago fell.

Hovering between these cauldrons was the part of the charm that Koolah had held, one had become three once more!

It was a morning like any other.

The magic inside the cauldrons boiled, and steam emitted from Koolah as she fought to maintain them.

Distant from the battle, amid trees long changed by the warping of the loop, the ice and darkness.

The charms within the cauldrons began to shine brightly!

In this gnarled grove, where the leaves of the trees were frozen crows, there was a house.

Inside the cauldrons the dim silhouette of a cat’s skeleton could be seen in each.

A cottage in fact.

Then came flesh, organ, all the forms that are part of that form.

This cottage was made from the shattered soil, from the ominous trees.

It was however quite a homely little home, and smoke of varied unnaturally shifting colours flapped its way from it’s chimney, splitting apart and roosting in the trees, in time finding bodies in the frozen crow leaves.

Then there was clothes, artefacts of power, the hats of course were first to be returned to full form.

This cottage had not been around when the land fell.

Though it was many years old, in this place, that counted as new.

Finally, the spirits of Qusheab and Jadah returned to their bodies, as if they had never experienced death.

Quite naturally living within this cottage were witches.

The cauldrons crumbled away into scales that were washed away by the flow of magic.

Three witches, sisters all.

Jadah and Qusheab floated down to the bed, gently landing.

With the sad call of the horns they began their day.

They opened their eyes, and Koolah’s relieved face was what they first saw.


[I’m working through some stuff, but I refuse to give up. There is only one existence that I’ll submit to. The true failure would be if I gave up and walked away, never to put finger to key on this website again. It will not happen.]

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Chapter 26: The Most Important Question Waits

An uneasy feeling settled into Koolah’s heart as she saw the cottage. The sight of it nestled amid the trees should have made her glad, relieved. The door was open. The wards, which had been repaired, breached. As Koolah dismounted from her broom she quickened her pace and stirred the magics of her hat.

Qusheab was dead.

She was behind the door, and thankfully her charm had protected her spirit, as Jadah’s had been protected. Koolah was about to do the same ritual that she had done for Jadah, when she noticed that Qusheab was clutching something tightly. A little bit of magic to give more motion to her stiff hand, and the object was revealed.

It was a small sculpture, made from paper and magic. It was some kind of plant.

“A mandragora… Oh Qushqush, you didn’t need to try so hard. You’ll be fine with the call of new day’s horn.”

Carefully putting the sculpture away, Koolah stirred the flow of magic and she chanted what she had before.

“The three were once one, the three came from one, to one they shall return, to return to wholeness”

Qusheab vanished as Jadah did, and the charm was made one piece again, as it had be before. Next Koolah turned her attention to the wards and the state of the cottage. She was only partly surprised to find the state of ruin it was in. The wards were in much better condition. The attacker only broke them to flee after it had slain Qusheab. Still, that had to be fixed.

Koolah gently touched one of the patches of her hat. It shone brightly and then Koolah made a sound not unlike a cat coughing up a hairball. A sparkling green goo exited from her mouth and with a wave of her hands, it floated as a glob in the air. She directed this to broken patterns of the ward and applied it, and directly after the wards were made whole. They were of course weaker after having been broken and repaired so many times.

-We can’t stay here much longer- Koolah thought.

Heart heavy, she closed the door and retreated to the bedroom, taking note of the destruction as she went. She allowed herself a moment of weakness, and collapsed on the bed. She even cried a bit.

The weight of protecting her family. How close they were to failure. Stress. Strain. Koolah put up such a strong and cold front. Yet, before the fall of the Dauftima pride… she had not been the most responsible of those in the pride.

-Why did we come here? The brew?-

The most important question.

-What is the brew in the centre of the cottage?-

Koolah pulled out the sculpture Qusheab had made. A mandragora.

-Was this the nature of the attacker? A mandragora? Something we were going to use became corrupted? Did it soak in our fears and worries? Our desperation?-

Koolah looked about through the books in the bedroom, but she knew. The mandragora if it was the mandragora would have already destroyed the recipe.

-What kind of mandragora was it?-

A mandragora in Kigan is a kind of mystic herb. A root in the shape of a being that is not a plant. The most common is the ones in the shape of humans, but ones in the shape of chickens, cats and even goblins exist. Many have quite different effects and most have particular difficulties in harvesting them. Most are able to move around of their own accord. If there was ever a plant that could become a monster, it would be a mandragora. There are even whispers of mandragora as powerful as lesser dragons.

-If it was an ingredient of the brew… then we have to purify it, instead of simply destroying it-

She could not answer the most important question on her own. Once her sisters were restored then they could work together. To delve into their broken memories to restore what they knew. To find out what the recipe of the brew in the cottage was. To then know what mandragora it was that became twisted.

Then they could bait it. Capture it. Purify it.

There was however another question.

-Who will it be possessing?-

Koolah put the questions from her mind and took out the charm she and her sisters had made against the grand loop magic. It floated above her and she waited.

The sound of the horn would be the sign of another cycle in the loop and with that call, her sisters would be restored, and without their memories and spirits damaged this time.

Koolah waited.

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