Chapter 32: Truth Revealed: Ablution of Spirit Coadunation
The boar leapt to the side after it crashed into the octopus. The wanderer directed it to gore the spirit with its tusks, but instead the statue had to back away as a wooden tentacle slammed down right next to it.
The siege octopus was utterly changed. It was now more like an oversized root, one with a horrid face on it. A jagged maw of darkness, and a pair of dark eye holes that had, in their depths a tiny sickly yellow glow. Then, issuing forth from the mouth of the mandragora were what had become of the frozen crow-leaves.
Sickly green skeletal birds.
A wave of them exploded out like killing gas, but the boar snorted, and with that snort, came Qusheab’s storm. The birds vanished into the storm, and the storm rolled back into the boar, and the golden light grew brighter still. Not only that, but the statue became clearer again, and growing out from the statue was a golden mane of bulls, each breathing out that same red storm.
The mandragora recoiled and the boar advanced, but though the boar mightly crashed this way and that, tusked splintering wooden root-like tentacles, it could not break through to the mandragora’s true body. Not only that, but the boar was growing slower, and its light was flickering.
Seeing this, a ghastly cry issued from within the root-octopus, while it was a cowardly being, if it felt itself stronger, it did not fear to act! The boar then, was on the defence, tearing apart tentacle after tentacle.
“Oh bother. I’ve about reached the limit with this thing, patterns can’t take much more”
The wanderer threw itself off the boar, and with a mad cackle spoke a single word.
Before the mandragora could realise what was happening, the boar did one final charge, disregarding the attacks of the root-octopus, then body swelling, red light shining through all openings, it exploded.
A swirling twister was what that portion of the storm had become, and in the twister, there could be seen crow-like forms, and these spirits were filled in indignation at having been eaten by the mandragora. The root-octopus was torn and left in pieces as the mandragora shrieked.
Like a cannon ball, the wanderer had gone flying from the storm-twister, body cleaving through many of the thralls of the mandragora. It quickly got up and limped away as fast as it could, but not fast enough. The storm blew away into the other statues, the crow-spirits having vented their anger.
Nothing more than a useless pile was what the root-octopus was, the spirit was but mere shreds, the mandragora, finding itself exposed, had need of something else to possess, and what better than the wanderer.
The wanderer itself, knowing that it could not flee, turned, gazing at the mandragora with its obscure vision.
“Ohh oh oh, we can’t be having that kind of thing going on” A voice issued, seemly from the empty air.
The mandragora screamed as it was plucked from the air mere meters from the faceless wanderer. A feathered tentacle seemed to… wash into existence. It was the chameleonic Orapele.
“I came just in the nick of time I should say? Shouldn’t I? Ah, but I did say?”
He looked rather the worse for wear. One of his forked horns was broken clean off, he was missing a few tentacles and a lot more feathers, and his hot pink skull-like head was a disquieting shade of pale blue. The damyne was shivering all over.
The mandragora at first struggled wildly, but when it tried to attack Orapele, one grim look from him and it just grew still and played dead. Something about Orapele’s touch must have had a kind of magic to it, as the thralls that the mandragora had, slowly slipped out of its control.
“How very timely of you Orapele, I was afraid for a moment there that I’d end up with one of the worst kind of faces. How did your hunt go?”
Thinking of the nakrukh, Orapele looked decidedly glum.
“Dratted bird got away. I had everything planned out nice as you have it, and the ruffian had the nerve not to end up in my belly… well, I did get a juicy leg, but that’s not the same as eating the whole thing you know.”
Yovra and Zam landed nearby.
Zam looked a bit nervous and stood as far away as he felt reasonable. Orapele noticed this.
“Oh, little bird-elf. I am so dreadfully sorry about our last meeting. Just a misunderstanding, I trust you won’t hold a grudge?”
If there was one thing Zam was going to be glad of, it would be that when he left, he would be leaving Orapele behind too.
“No, of course not” Zam said “No grudge at all.”
“Wonderful, fabulous. I do hear that grudges are bad for the gut, and I’d not want you to come to further harm” Orapele said.
Yorva amid all this just glared at the mandragora.
“So, this is what caused all the trouble. Ugly little thing isn’t it?”
She waved her blade at the mandragora, which made it extremely nervous.
“If you are quite finished with your little neighbourhood’s teaparty over there, can you bring the mandragora over already?” Koolah shouted.
Before they went over, Yovra took out a number of paper charms to bind the mandragora with, a process which went fine due to how terrified it was of Orapele.
All of them stood before the bubbling pot and the three sisters. Qusheab had finished recalling her storm back into her hat as they came.
Wauldigg who looked most doubtfully at the mandragora.
“Yer surely not just going to dump it in like that are ye? I mean, it’s corrupted”
It was of course Koolah that looked at Wauldigg as if he was a drooling idiot.
“Of course we aren’t lunkhead!” She snapped.
Jadah shushed Koolah.
“We are going to purify it of course” Jadah said
Grumbling all the while, Koolah pulled out what was left of her balm of innocence and also took out the mirror of tears that Yovra had given her. She gave these to Jadah, who scooped out the balm and as if dropping it into water placed it inside the mirror. The mirror began to shine with a pureness that hurt in the manner that a conscience can to someone not utterly depraved in their ways.
“Look upon this mirror corrupted one, and know of when you were not so wounded, shatter and return, be purged of thy foul essence, be a peace and return to thy purpose”
As she said this, her eyes glowed and stared into the mandragora’s.
With a loud crack, the mandragora shattered as a piece of glass does, but at the same time as this, foul laughter came forth from the mandragora, but this laughter was clearly not the mandragora’s own.
“What a pity”
A cruel and arrogant voice, a woman’s voice. One devoid of beauty or melody.
“Y-you!” Qusheab screamed.
“Who?” Zam questioned.
“The nemesis of our Dauftima pride!” Jadah said, terror in her voice.
“YES! IT IS I, BLOODSIREN MYO! You thought yourselves so clever in your preparations, you thought that I would not know that you were gathering the ingredients for an ablution of spirit coadunation? It was a simple thing to place a bit of my intent within this feeble mandragora, you even thought that it became corrupted by the magic of this place, but it was by my hand, my will!
Alas… this time, I have failed to end your disgusting bloodline. Do not think that the power of the ablution will keep you safe. This endeavour may have failed, but I have more than enough in store for you once you’ve returned to the rest of the world. I shall however be taking the sinister will in this mandragora. You can purify all you want then”
With that, a wicked presence shot out from the mandragora, the only one who reacted quick enough was Yovra, who managed to slash across the presence with a mirror-blade. The presence shrieked, but did not stop.
-Dragon’s harlot! You’ll pay for that blow, sevenfold. I swear it, not even your master will stop me, you wretched slave-
It vanished into icy abyss.
The wanderer hissed.
“Forget about her, quickly, purify the mandragora and put it into the brew! She wants to disrupt your resolve!”
Jadah was broken from her shocked state by the wanderer and collected the shattered pieces of the mandragora into the mirror then she crushed the mirror. When she opened her paws, the mandragora was there, whole and unsullied. A quick cleaning and she tossed it into the catshead cauldron.
The cauldron-fires took on a strange hue, shifting from red, to green to white, and the forest stirred.
“We should probably get away from here” Zam suggested.
The suggestion was welcomed and they left the sisters to their brew, retreating to a safe distance to watch.
“Three, divided” Qusheab began
The mandragora broke down into three pieces.
“Three united” Jadah continued.
The pieces were boiled to liquid, and stirred through.
“Three spirits, divided in three bodies, for this, an ablution.” Koolah said.
“As of old, we prepare this ablution, so that divided though our bodies be, our spirits will forever more be united” The sisters said together.
The main brew was complete, it however in turn was only one part of the ablution of spirit coadunation. The other cauldrons, pots and so on began to fly up of their own accord, pouring their contents into the catshead cauldron. Yet not once did it over flow and not once did the sisters stop stirring.
Since ancient times in Kigan, those who work magic and even those who do not have been tortured with many desires and passions. One that is particularly strong is… how do I avoid harm?
How do I avoid being killed?
Of the many methods that were made, one that brew-witches created was the ablution of spirit coadunation. A bath. One that would connect the spirits of those taking it, allowing each person to use the bodies of the others and in turn no matter what befell one of the bodies unless all were destroyed, the bodies would be remade anew. Typically a whole coven would do this ritual bath, and in many histories and stories, many such covens were undone from within.
Unity of spirit, but not of mind.
Truly a mystical ritual, with one, crucial flaw that prevents many from exploiting it.
It must be brewed, from start to finish, within the confines of loop magic, the greater the loop the more powerful the result. Naturally there are few brew-witches foolish enough to attempt this ritual.
The Dauftima sisters, were of course, more desperate than foolish.
After the last part went in and was stirred in, the sisters waited a bit, hesitated and jumped together into the cauldron.
The wanderer of course, explained this to the others and so kept them from interfering with the sisters, but then only Wauldigg was in danger of doing something like that.
Time moved by and the sisters were fully submerged in the cauldron, and while the flow of magic was thick around it, it was one of the less flashy of rituals. Even the cauldron-fires had died out. The loop came to its origin, and all that was left was the cauldron and the Dauftima sisters’ various property.
All of the remants of the battle vanished and so did Yovra, Wauldigg, Zamelnah and Orapele.
The wanderer did indeed remain, watching. But it nodded its head and left.
“I had some hope I would find my face from this affair…”
…but it was not willing to murder the three sister in exchange for a face. It did not want to wear that kind of face. So, the wanderer wandered away.
The loop went through many cycles, many of which had Wauldigg arrive at where the cottage once was, only to get confused remembrance, but he ended up moving on, drawing deeper into the mysteries of Galshea.
Finally, in the midst of one loop, the sisters had completed the ablution. They arose from the cauldron and the forest cried out in joy. It knew what moment was coming next. The cauldron-fires burst back into life, but the cauldrons, pots and so on flew above them and both formed patterns the fires and the various creatures maintaining those fires arose and dwelled within containers. The storage-jars of the Dauftima rose up with them, and swirling they joined the patterns that the flying cauldrons were forming. The sisters sat back within the grand catshead cauldron, preparing for the witch-flight they would depart on. Lights shot out from the crockery into the icy abyss above.
There was a monumental rumbling, and a ear-splitting crack and a beam of sun-light shone into the fallen realm onto the sisters and their possessions. All of a sudden the frozen crow-leaves thawed and flew off the trees, circling the sisters, who surprised as they were, accepted that the crowleaf spirits would be following them.
An unexpected gain from brewing in the forest.
They all ascended out of the fallen realm, out of the loop and back into Kigan.
The beam of sunlight slowly vanished as the crack in the loop was sealed. The trees left behind, leafless, withered up and crumbled into ashes.
The forest, like the sisters, had also escaped the loop.
* * * * *
EPILOGUE: Of the Others of the Loop
So then, did the Sisters who suffered much, who could have probably left well enough alone and found some other route to preserve themselves from their nemesis, escape the fate of tragedy. As to how their efforts at building up the Dauftima line again and their other confrontations with the Bloodsiren Myo… other stories, other times.
Yovra did not remain long after, and her master personally retrieved her. She had other duties to attend to and she was never to be a large part of the story of the fallen realm.
Likewise, Zamelnah was taken out of the loop by his people. He was much relieved to be back in safety and resolved never to enter another loop again. As for what he did within the loop? That is quite another story, but not one that cleaves deep to the mysteries of that forlorn place.
Orapele eventually ate all he wished to eat in the loop, but he perhaps grew a bit more discerning, and a little more virtuous and less wanton than may gourmands like him throughout all the dimensions. Zamelnah was perhaps the last person to be unjustly attacked by him.
Of the wanderer’s quest for a face? The results of that are tightly bound with the actions of one of the other interlopers of the fallen realm.
It would be Wauldigg who would unravel the mysteries and sorrows of Galshea, but that is a tale of many twists and turns and snarls. Doubtless, you will in time come to hear of it, but for now…
This tale, unlike a loop has come to its final end.