Chapter 19: Towering Promises.
The deep night departed, leaving behind the lesser night. Aira and her companions rose in high spirits, but with little chatter, they had no idea of what awaited them. Each was curious as to who and what Aira’s makers would be.
It was not long before they came out of the tunnels they were in, and came back to the surface of Awarth. In the distance, in the dark amid the black snow swirling upwards a tower could be seen. It wasn’t remotely on the scale of Talvharn’s unfinished clock-tower. It was absurdly high for how thin it was. It clearly had not been made by a mundane builder, only magic could keep such a construction up.
It was a magician’s tower, made to reach upwards, to get closer to the source of magical pollen that suffused Kigan’s air. Closer to the Anchor Tree, Yaibggael. The strange thing about it was the way it softly glowed, it was if the darkness slipped off of its rounded body. This was how it looked like in Awarth however. In Awarth, there was no pollen and strangely the leaves of the Anchor tree cast no shadow.
It was in many ways like someone made a tower from tubes of mirror. Drawing closer, it was revealed that the tower didn’t simply glow. Awarth’s dark was devoured into small folds in the tower’s rounded body. This was no simple reflection of the tower’s state in Kigan.
Bab-Lin called for them to stop.
“This is the place then?” He asked Zalark.
Zalark nodded “Within dwells the dark magician and enchantress Aira seeks”
“Well, what are we waitings for?” Phule objected.
There was a number of worries, for all Bab-Lin knew, these makers could be the foulest sort. Dark magi may be common in Awarth, but in Kigan, they have a… darker reputation. There was nothing innately evil about being a dark magician, you simply dealt in dark, in shadows, in depths, the night and so on.
It was more that chlan didn’t have a friendly relation with light than it had a good relation with darkness.
Before worrying about the character of Aira’s makers, Bab-Lin had spotted more practical concerns.
“Well, we kind of have two problems, Aira, look closer at the tower, analyse it”
Aira didn’t know what Bab-Lin was looking for. At first she noticed nothing, but a dull humming caught her magical sight, and entered her aural input systems. There was an enchantment sung around the tower, not just sung, but reinforced by other means as well. Arcane runes and symbols that Aira didn’t understand lifted out from the tower.
There was a potent barrier around the tower. It wasn’t just a barrier, the workings of it were hard for Aira to grasp, but she got the impression that the barrier maintained itself on Awarth potent darkness, and also channelled the darkness into the tower.
She suspected that if something were to try forcefully intruding the hum would swell into a deadly spellsong.
“Oh, there’s very strong protections around the tower” Aira said.
“How strong?” Phule questioned.
“Well, I think we’d all die if we walked into it” Aira said ominously.
“I’ll just stay over here then, if you don’t mind” Zalark commented nervously.
Bab-Lin nodded, and then smugly spoke.
“I guessed that there would be something like that, not that I could see it. Magicians don’t like uninvited guests and usually have a lot to protect, often things that attract nasty things, that barrier isn’t the only problem though, any of you noticed something odd about the tower yet?”
Everyone that wasn’t the currently insufferably smug Bab-Lin examined the tower.
“Ah, it havings no windows!” Phule noticed.
“More than that it has no doors” Aira finished.
“It uh… doesn’t have a chimney!” Zalark said, doing his best not to be left out.
“Correct!, all of you, even Zalark, now class, what can we conclude from this?” Bab-Lin was enjoying himself, with all that had happened it was nice to be in control and know what was going on.
“The peoples inside not livings in Awarth” Phule shot down Bab-Lin.
Bab-Lin deflated a bit.
“C-correct. This means to enter we have a bit of a problem. Well, two problems again”
“We need a way into Kigan” Aira brightly noticed “…but what is the other problem?”
“The Shatters” Bab-Lin said simply.
Aira had knowledge of what that was. The shatters was what most beings experienced when shifting from Awarth to Kigan or vis versa. Basically it was a problem of existence. For most natives of Awarth, they have trouble keeping their existence whole in Kigan. For natives of Kigan, they have trouble existing in such an ephemeral world as Awarth.
The form the shatters takes is this; You visibly crack as the shock of the transition hits your body, and then if you can’t manage it, you end up completely shattering, thus dying. The shatters are considered a particularly unpleasant way to go, and even if you adjust, it can take weeks for the cracks in your existence caused by the shatters to heal.
Interestingly this is a problem that only beings with a physical body have. Spirits never have issues slipping into Awarth but many lack the power to enter Kigan or survive re-entry.
“I have no chance of surviving the shatters” Bab-Lin said “and I’m guessing the rest of us apart from you Aira wouldn’t fair well either”
Phule nodded. She was born in Awarth, Kigan would not so easily accept her, though her chances of living were far better than Bab-Lin’s, who was little more than a shadow in a shell.
“I’m afraid I’m not the kind of spirit Kigan treats nicely” Zalark answered.
Aira looked at the humming glowing tower. It was beautiful really, though odd. A shining stem without a flower.
“So, we have to find a way to get me across to Kigan, and when we do… I have to go alone”
Aira was silent, she had begun alone, she enjoyed the time she had spent with Bab-Lin, Phule and Zalark, the time at Talvharn with the gnomes and Fram. She was silent.
Phule came in and gave Aira a comforting hug, though it was perhaps more to comfort herself.
“Sorry” Bab-Lin said, tapping the back of his head, making a hollow noise.
“I should of guessed something like this would happen, You did come from Kigan, didn’t you? But, don’t worry, we can wait for you here”
“Yes, indeed” Zalark nodded.
“Wese not leavings Aira behind!” Phule said.
Aira thought about it. Then she made her choice.
“Thank you, all of you. Thank you Bab-Lin for protecting my back, for looking out for me, Thanky you Phule, for keeping watch and joining us when you didn’t need to, and thank you Zalark, for guiding us…”
Everyone was silent, not knowing where Aira was going with this.
“…but I cannot keep you waiting. Phule, didn’t you want to learn magic from the hex witch Bab-Lin talked about? Zalark should be able to guide you to her, I might be here a while, afterwards, I intend to return to Talvharn and help with the work there” Aira concluded solemnly.
Bab-Lin began laughing.
Aira was confused, she didn’t see that she had said anything particularly funny.
Zalark and Phule were likewise confused.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Yes, quite rude when Aira outpoured her heart like that” Zalark complained.
“Rude! Rude!” Phule chanted.
Bab-Lin however kept laughing, almost doubled over. Finally he managed to get two words out.
“What?” Aira was still confused.
“It doesn’t hurt anymore!” Bab-Lin tried to pick Aira up a swing her around, but failed at the picking up part, and instead settled for Phule, managing to pick her up, swing her around and put her down again before she had realised what happened.
“Doesn’t hurt anymore!” Bab-Lin cackled gleefully, prancing around Aira, Phule and Zalark.
“Has he gone mad with grief?”
“I’m not mad! I’ve never felt better!” Bab-Lin abruptly stopped prancing, he swung his pack down and rummaged around, pulling out a piece of dried fruit, he threw it into his mouth and then moaned with pleasure.
“I CAN TASTE THINGS AGAIN!”
Aira pointed a finger at Bab-Lin.
“Your bespellment is broken!”
“It is!, I am a big fat purple goblin with wings! I can even lie again!” Bab-Lin chuckled gleefully.
“But… you are still smoking”
Bab-Lin was still smoking, though the smoke coming out of his mouth, eye sockets, nose and earholes was somehow lighter and cleaner looking.
“I can even still breath fire!” Bab-Lin demonstrated, firing a great fireball into the sky. It seemed he could breath fire with far greater control.
“But no hurtings?” Phule asked in disbelief.
“No Hurtings!” Bab-Lin returned blithely. “I can lie, I can taste too!”
“This is wonderful” Aira rejoiced.
“Thank you, Thank you Aira, I’m definitely waiting for you now” Bab-Lin said.
Aira was about to say something, but Zalark spoke instead.
“No, you aren’t” He reached over to his tailfeathers and pulled one out with his beak. He gave it to Aira.
“This feather will always point towards me, Use it to find us if we don’t come to Talvharn, but I’m sure Bab-Lin can find some excuse to visit the city.”
The feather rested on Aira’s metal palm, and spun round to point, tip first at Zalark.
Bab-Lin hadn’t really thought about what he was going to do after his bespellment was over, but now an idea slipped into his head, it could be quite profitable and charitable to get some trade routes going to Talvharn and other places, and with Zalark’s aid, making the routes could be quite easy.
He could help. It was an odd thought to Bab-Lin, using his old skills as a merchant to help a growing city. He had the valuables he had won from the gnomes with him too, it seemed fitting to use them in aid of their home.
“Hmm… perhaps it would be best if we split up, I think I’ve some ways I could help Talvharn myself”
“I’d like that” Aira said.
She still had warm feelings for Talvharn.
Phule practically had tears welling up in her eyes.
“Phule not wantings, but Phule goings along with Aira’s wishings. Just waitings! Phule will become a great and beautiful witch and helpings and livings in Aira’s city”
“I’m sure you will Phule, I hope your dream comes true” Aira said.
“Well, this is all very touching and heartmelting, but how are we getting Aira to her destination?”
Everyone went silent, Aira couldn’t simply set through a shadow, as the tower was absorbing the few shadows there was. Bab-Lin had an idea however.
“A fireportal, I read about them once. I think we can make one. Not sure it’ll work.”
“Worth the tryings!” Phule pronounced.
“I agree” Aira answered.
So they got to it.
They placed twelve crystals made from Aira’s transmutor around her. Bab-Lin set these on fire, his mysterious club allowing the fire to stick. Next, Phule, Bab-Lin and Zalark walked clockwise around Aira, while she turned anti-clockwise inside the circle.
It was not a complicated ritual, and perhaps because of that, it took a good amount of power, but thankfully they had a good amount from Aira’s crystals. Bab-Lin was worried it wasn’t working, or that he had forgotten some step when parts of the fire began to swirl this way and that.
In short order, the flames obscured Aira.
When they came down, she was gone.
* * * * *
The tower looked quite a bit different in Kigan, Aira looked up at it. It was a craggy crooked spire, its architecture filled with deep captive shadows. It was perhaps a bit ominous, but Aira went up to the great metal doors of the Tower, embossed with all manner of arcane symbols.
She considered what to do, and decided to knock. In short order, it opened, and a deeply hooded figure stood before Aira. On his shoulder was a small person with lovely butterfly-wings, and chitinous limbs. She was a pixie.
“Good day, golem, what brings you to my Tower?”
“Hey, hey wait a moment Leshac, Doesn’t this golem seem a bit familiar to you?”
The hooded man, Leshac peered at Aira.
“It does, Quil, do you remember it? I’m drawing a blank”
“No, it seems really familiar though, say who made you?” Quil asked.
Aira wondered what to say, here before her were her makers.
“You both made me, and I can tell you why you forgot me”
Epilogue: The Golem Whole
Quil and Leshac were disbelieving at first, but they quickly found the evidence of their workings in Aira. They didn’t quite know how to feel about having a child in a sense.
In short order though, they came to care for Aira, and she them. When Aira left Kigan for Awarth again, it was in the tower with her ‘parents’.
They had quite a bit of trouble making the tower suited to moving and living inside while in Awarth, but Fram was delighted to have them move into his city.
Fram himself had not been able to save the shadow of Faihn, he granted the broken spirit peace, before it became a complete chlan.
After her own journey with various events, Phule managed to reach the Hex Witch and Oracle Eurax-Fa. The real challenge came in getting her to accept an apprentice.
Bab-Lin made quite a bit of wealth setting up trade routes and portals to Talvharn, nothing like the riches he had before, but he was content.
Udalwut fell into a rare dimensional pot hole, after a series of bizzare events he became an interdimensional musician, known as Master Tube. He was missed until Fram and Leshac discovered how well Udalwut was doing.
Zalark aided Bab-Lin for a time, but he soon left to lead lost out from mazes and labyrinths and anywhere really. Many he brought to Talvharn if it was not too far. In the end, he had managed to live up to the hero his name was made from. He saved far more than he had led to doom in the past, though he never kept score.
As for the mystery and tragedy of Tavarn?
Fram worked away at the ruins, but only time can tell if that story will ever be fully revealed.