Chapter Ten: The Song of the Ice Wheel
All spirits are born of magic. When the flows of magic produce certain patterns on interactions with other things, these patterns can become spirits, this is called natural casting by magicians. In truth all spirits are patterns in the flow of magic. Though a number of natural spirits are in actually the result of mages introducing patterns to the flows of magic in the creation of their own servants.
Ice spirits are of course, spirits made of magic and ice. Wheel spirits in particular refer to a family of spirits that come in the shape of a wheel or wheels, and often share a number of behavioural traits. Wheel spirits have a tendency to roam roads, routes or the trail of travellers, most of them are extremely violent to anything that could be construed as opposing their existence. The combination of a minor element with a wheel spirit is particularly unfortunate, as an elemental wheel spirit is the most violent kind, seeking to change all it encounters to match itself.
Normally speaking wheel spirits are completely mindless, though more powerful ones have a more animal like mind. In spite of their violent reputation and mindlessness there is stories among travellers of wheel spirits that aid and protect travellers.
The ice wheel spirit pounding Ivak and company’s shelter was certainly not interested in aiding or
“Do you have some kind of plan Mr.Gubbluk?” Ivak asked.
“Well, I was hoping you’d be able to paint the thing milord” Fatho said.
“Well, it is mindless… but I need to see the thing to paint it, how can we do that without getting impaled. I’d rather not get impaled” Ivak mused.
“I agree with milord, I’ve been impaled before and I cannot recommend it at all, very painful” Claroosa added.
Fatho in response to these concerns of fatal impalement, simply stuck his right hand into the soft flame surrounding the hearthstone at the centre of the shelter. Ivak and Claroosa gasped as a stream of heat shot out from Fatho’s left hand, roasting the air. Fatho quickly pulled his right hand away.
“I’ve been trying to figure out how to go about stealing heat. So far I can take it, but I can’t keep it without cooking myself so I have to let it go, but this should be good enough for shooting down those icicles” he said.
“This would all be so much simpler if we had a mage with us. Well, no use grumping, I believe we should give your plan a try Mr. Gubbluk”
Ivak was already moving his easel into position.
Claroosa smiled feeling proud of him, and went to the doors of the shelter.
“Right boys, on my count of three”
There was a thud of an icicle.
The final thud.
Claroosa yanked the doors open and rolled out of the way as Fatho directed a beam of pure heat out into the cold and through the wailing winds and melting an approaching icicle. Ivak began painting feverishly. The outline of the jawed wheel formed rapidly on the canvas.
Claroosa made her way to behind Fatho.
“It’s a massive one!” Claroosa cried over the ripple of the heatbeam and the raging gales.
Fatho simply grunted while Ivak paid no attention, focused on the painting.
Fatho melted down all the icicles, making sure to harass the spirit itself. The spirit for its part tried torrents of small ice shards and icicles shot from various angles, forming the frozen spears before their very eyes.
“I thought it was supposed to be mindless” Fatho growled out.
“It is, that’s all instinct!” Claroosa said.
Fatho let out a soft moan, he was beginning to smell a bit baked, he was starting to foam at the mouthparts too. The wheel spirit was beginning to make larger and larger icicles. The larger they got, the further they got before being melted. The spirit was also doing better in avoiding Fatho’s beam, flying further back, which annoyed Ivak, it was harder to paint the thing when it was so far away.
“Mjorn!” Fatho yelled “Grab onto me right wrist, I’m going at my limit, I’m going to pass the heat through you, aim at it with your other hand!”
Claroosa quickly obliged, and promptly hissed at the level of heat that coursed its way out to her right hand, she was amazed that Fatho had borne it as long as he had. Still she had better aim than him. She continued for a few painful moments.
“I HAVE YOU NOW!” Ivak yelled triumphantly.
The turquoise sigil in his eye shone brightly. His crest unfolded from his back an ethereal line with frayed ends , a mess of interlocking half circles between the ends. The crest glowed as did the painting.
Fatho keeled over, Claroosa catching the spent thief.
The Spirit froze in the air, then it struggled as it was pulled into the painting. Then it howled.
Ivak fell to one knee and almost lost hold of the spirit, but as it howled it was no longer being pulled into the painting, merely stuck in place.
The ice laden winds swirled up around it, a storm of frigid dagger expanding outwards, growing closer to the shelter.
“It wasn’t just a spirit of ice” Ivak screamed, trying to make himself heard over the howl. “Ice and VOICE, I CAN’T HOLD IT”
Claroosa roared in defiance, cutting through the howl with her cry. Then she torn one of the doors of the shelter off at tossed it right at the spirit.
“HAVE A TASTE OF YOUR OWN ICE!”
The door smashed into the spirit, the howl stopped and with a plop, it was sucked into the painting.
A coldness exuded from the painting.
Ivak put a hand over his eye.
Claroosa panted heavily. The winds calmed a bit, this of course meant that they were still pretty horrible. She helped Ivak up.
“You should keep your eye closed for a while milord”
Then she helped Fatho up. Slapping him lightly in the face to rouse him. Fatho was steaming slightly. Ivak approached Fatho nervously.
Fatho opened his mouth and some smoke roiled out.
*cough* *cough* “Ugh, that wasn’t healthy at all” Fatho mumbled.
Ivak opened his mouth to speak. He stopped. He opened his mouth to speak again. On the third try he managed it.
“Thank you Mr. Gubbluk, I’m sure we would have fared worse without you”
Fatho bared his mouthparts.
“Well, thankee, but your lordship’s crest was what made it possible”
“Yes, well… uh yes”
Ivak turned to Claroosa, who was speedily packing things away. Ivak seemed a bit dazed.
“Thank you for the door at the end there Claroosa, I should have guessed that a wheel with no features other than a huge mouth was also a spirit of voice.”
“Nonsense, you are an artist, not a mage, it is only thanks to how widely you read milord that you knew anything at all”
“Aha, yes, quite. Well, we had a bit of a time of it didn’t we?”
With that Ivak’s legs buckled beneath him. Claroosa as usual caught him.
“Woah there, you going to be fine?” Fatho asked.
“Haha of course my fine fishy friend, I just need a bit of a rest and some spheres, lots of spheres!” Ivak said with half-clarity, he was shaking a bit.
“Milord, I’m going to carry you for a bit while we move”
“Move? Didn’t this happen before? We were chased by apples or something, furry apples hee, why don’t we stay?” he babbled.
“Something I learned from my past travels milord is that it pays not to linger after such events”
“Aye, I’ve learnt that with thievery too, bad idea to stick around the scene of the crime so to speak” Fatho said.
Ivak smiled. “Well then lead on!”
So they did.
“I do have to say this is a little embarrassing.”
“Oh hush, I’ve carried you many times when you were smaller”
“But I was a child then” Ivak complained, tugging on his beard.
Claroosa simply smiled at the memory of Ivak as a child, and Ivak himself slipped into sleep and dreams of days gone by. Fatho and Claroosa however, battled onward through the cold wind, staff mounted hearthstone in hand.
“Will he be ok?” Fatho asked.
Claroosa nodded. “Yes, he just never had to seal something so opposed to being trapped before”
* * * * *
Ivak recovered, and they made their way across Galshea, stopping only for short amounts of time, so as to have less of a chance of attracting the attention of some being wandering the ice.
In a couple of days, they reached a dark cave carved into a hill of ice amid other hills. Fatho stopped them before the cave mouth.
“Someone has been here before… and recently”