Things can wrong, and things going wrong often have consequences. In a magical world like Kigan, who’s sky is covered by branches from a mystical tree, sometimes those consequences can be dire.
So, in Kigan, in the frozen lands of Nortrieln, where monsters and hunters claw for survival, there was at that moment, a grand city floating above a small part of it. This city, was technically the grand university of magic, where people with influence sent their magically inclined children to be taught by the mages that had made the city, or the ones that came later.
It was a place of learning and magecraft of many kinds, so it should come as no surprise that it was a place where things went wrong, and those things had consequences.
In one of the many floating towers that orbited it, a powerful mage was having a spot of bother.
By a spot of bother, what is meant is that she was currently wrestling with some manner of chaotic spirit.
The powerful mage in question was called Ira Kiopla, though, most knew her only as the Witch of Dimensions. Anyone who wanted to annoy her would refer to her as Wod. Anyone really wanting to annoy her would call her a cat. The reason for that was that Ira was one of the Raskhiir. Catfolk descended from forbidden mage experiments on cats.
She looked just like a red and white cat, if a cat had a tail that split in two and front paws more like hands, stood on its hindlegs, spoke, wore a snazzy silver sequinned robe and had curly hair red hair that poked out from a floppy witch hat which seemed to flicker now and then. Apart from that, just like a cat.
The spirit that she had been reduced to wrestling with wasn’t particularly evil or anything like that, more horribly confused and frightened. It was a thing on the level of an animal, so talking with it was out of the question. Ira was the Witch of Dimensions, not the Witch of Talking to Lesser Beings.
The spirit was a strange thing, all strange ethereal twisting threads of many colours, in the shape of some odd bird with hands for wings and a twin white flames for eyes. Ira could have just sent it elsewhere or killed it, but there was a few problems with that. She didn’t really want to kill it, she wanted to study it, and it was at this point at time, frantically trying to possess her. She would have been more impressed with its power if it wasn’t for the fact that she was in a battle of wills with the spirit.
Ira had been messing about with dimensions, opening a hole there, twisting a bit of space here, that sort of thing. Even experts make mistakes, and next thing she knew this spirit fell right out of a untimely tear in stuff and right onto her. It was quite a shock. The spirit would never had gotten the drop on her otherwise.
Ira had an idea of what to do, but she didn’t like it much. She didn’t want to exert herself over one randomly powerful random spirit.
There was a the pattering of little feet and in burst a little girl who could not have been much older than eight. This was the recent apprentice to the witch of dimensions. A little girl who for all the world looked like a normal human girl. If normal human girls had silvery hair and red eyes, wore dresses made of night, rubylike slippers and had a ribbon of spun moonlight in their hair.
She was one of the hulven, a kind of human descended from noble first wolves. Though in the case of the Ouirh (for that was the kind of hulf she was) they had lost most of the marks of their ancestry.
No, the Ouirh had instead their red eyes and silvery hair.
It is said that the first Ouirh made a pact with a powerful Damyne (a powerful red eyed magic being) Lord, thus their descendants were marked forever more. Though whether this was true or not was a matter of some debate. In any case the Ouirh had great resistance to cold and superb healing ability, supposedly they could regrow limbs given time.
“Oh my!” exclaimed Olice, apprentice to the Witch of Dimensions.
“Are you quite all right mistress?” Olice followed up.
Ira gave her a look, a sort of, ‘how could this look all right to you look’. She sighed.
“I’m fine girl, but get me that phantasm trapping gem, you know what one right?” Ira explained while holding back the spirit.
“Ah, yes mistress” Olice curtsied. “The purple sparkly one with the deep darkness in it wasn’t it?”
Ira sighed. “The Tezeradecahod, it is called the Tezeradecahod”
“Sorry mistress.” Olice apologised.
“Right, now, what are you still doing here? Go, fetch.”
Olice pattered off as the chaotic spirit wailed. She wandered amid her mistress’ many strange arcane brik-a-brac. The tower was filled with all manner of doors, mirrors and containers. All of which Olice was forbidden to touch. She didn’t see why, but then there was a reason the young child was the apprentice.
Finally Olice had made her way to where the Tezeradecahod, the sparkly purple one, was. A pile of cushions inside an open huge lead chest. All the cushions were of different colours and shapes and designs. Some with tassels, some with embroidery, some that glowed, some that didn’t. Olice had come across the chest before, and had marvelled at how in the centre of each lovely cushion was a gem or crystal.
So too this time, she was still enchanted by the glittering gems, though there was a gem in the centre of each except for the cushion that formerly held the Tezer… the purple one. At first, Olice was dismayed, but then a frown came across her little brow. She had figured out where the gem had gone, and who had taken it, for only one could have heard her and Ira.
“Ooooh, Gander! Come out this instant!” Olice proclaimed.
As soon as she did, a dark shape slithered out from behind the lead chest. Gander was her familiar, given to her by her Royal Father (for she was a princess) via his court mage. Gander was most certainly a strong familiar and a very clever spirit, but you see, Olice didn’t like Gander one bit.
For one, Gander was a mischievous sort, always getting Olice in trouble (though no harm). He played such tricks on poor Olice. The other reason was that Gander was, in no way conceivably cute.
Gander was what one would get if you combined a shark, a snake, shadows and a furry mammal. A long thin body and tail and a sharklike head with far too many fangs in it. All wrapped in a hairy shadowy form. Gander was some manner of shadesnake spirit, a being of some potency in the area of shadowy things. Gander grinned with his horrid smile at Olice.
“Ahhh, what doess my Misstresss require of thisss humble ssservant?”
“You know very well Gander!” Olice pointed to Gander’s tail, which had, amid its coils the Te… the gem she had been sent to fetch.
“Oh! How ever did that get there? Well, you couldn’t possssibly have a ussse for thisss mere trinket could you Missstresss?”
“You know very well Gander!” Olice objected again.
Gander, however pretended that he did not.
“My mistress needs that gem Gander, or she’ll be in trouble!”
“Pisssh Posssh, Sssshe’ll be fine, she jusssst wantsss the gem asss sssso asss ssshe can sssstudy that ssssspirt” Gander hissed.
Olice glared at Gander.
“As you are my familiar I demand you present me the gem!”
“Well sssssince you put it that way, you can have the gem…” Gander loosened his coils.
Olice was shocked, she had never been able to exert this level of control over Gander, and had never commanded his respect, but this time it seemed she had pulled through.
Then Gander spoke again.
“…If you ansssswer me thissss riddle firssst” Gander then tightened his coils again, and the gem disappeared beneath his shadowy fur.
Olice sighed, resigning herself to defeat again.
“Well, what is the riddle Gander?”
Gander smiled, fangs glinting.
“My roof is tiled with silver,
My two windows made from Ruby,
My door is continually open, allowing anything to walk out,
Inside of me is filled with all kinds of silly things and nonsense.
What am I?”
Olice sat down. Trying to think while Gander sniggered to himself.
At length it hit her all at once and rising up, redfaced she wailed;
“My head is not full of nonsense! I don’t just say anything!”
Gander rolled on the ground laughing.
“You anssswered my riddle!”
Then he folded up like paper and vanished, leaving behind the gem.
Olice brought it to Ira, and in the blink of an eye, the chaotic spirit was sucked up by the gem.
Ira set Olice to arrange and clean up the mess that had been made by her wrestling with the spirit. Ira for her part, carrying the gem she climbed into a chest (one of the ways that Ira liked to move through dimensions and space generally).
So Olice was left, broom and mess behind, pride wounded by Gander and she decided that the first thing she was going to do when she learned proper magic was zap gander with a bolt.
[Next week we return to Elcon, for a slightly longer tale]