"Micjimble!" The entire class looked up at the source of he angry bellow. "Your rooms are a MESS! How could they have gotten to such a degree of filth in a mere week?
"Damn," Micjible muttered under his breath. "I knew I forgot to do something this morning." His clean-room illusion wasn' re-activated.
"Get to your rooms! You there, Kria, accompany this fellow to his room and help him. A few flamballs in the butt should get him working!"
Kria Jumped at the summons and walked with Micjimble to his rooms. Just for the angry mage, she conjured up a small flameball and sent it towards Micjimble's butt. It was consumed by a shimmering blue sheild well before it even reached him.
"Good to see you can do something right, Micjimble!" Shouted the room inspector.
When they arrived at the rooms assigned to Micjimble, the headmage was heading down the hall towards them. Micjimble quickly opened the door while activating his clean-room illusion. It finished appearing as the headmage walked through the door.
"I thought this room was an unbeleivable mess when I was summoned earlier! What happened. What spell were you casting while you opened the door? Never mind! I can feel an illusion. I'll dissipate it myself."
"Headmage, you may want me to --" but Micjimble was cut short by the headmage's scream as he was levitated and dropped in a huge cask of wine that hadn't been there a moment before. "--do that."
The headmage started laughing. "Don't worry, I'll deal with your other instructors for you. Do try to clean up, though. If this had happened to some of the others, you'd be expelled or fighting for your life by now."
Kria still had no idea what was really going on. So she said so.
"Micjimble here has avoided cleaning his room by creating an illusion he activates when someone able to punish him for having a dirty room comes near. A practise that has one downside. He forgot to activate it today while the room inspection was under-way. True, it was a surprise."
"And the Headmage here seems to think that for my ability with this illusion, I should be skipped out of my punishment. I also had a trap set to catch people dispelling my illusion. As you can see. Most of the Mages here wouldn't like being caught in it. The headmage has a different sense of humor."
"So the boy isn't stupid, now is he? Well I'll be off now. You two get to work doing what you're supposed to be doing. And Micjimble? You're needed in the library whenever possible for the rest of the season. It's rather a mess, and as I understand it, you're the best we can get in there right now. I know you were hoping for patroling the mountains, but I'm afraid you'll have to settle for this duty." The head master was smiling.
"Winter's just begun! Oh well, it beats walking through all that snow for the reast of the season." He started chuckling.
"Well, just so you know, I'm stuck in the library for the winter for being a little to liberal with my flameballs. And I'm NOT helping clean this room, unless you need fire or water. Or a good breeze to move the stench out."
Kria was overtaken by giggling at the moment and could not reply. "What stench?" Oh well. I'll just get some little folk who are owing me favors to come in and help."
Micjimble muttered some words to the spells he wanted, and a swarm of little winged but otherwise human-looking female creatures small enough to fit in a hand flew through a glowing hole in the air.
"Is it time? Have you a task for us?"
"Yess, Mickity Jumbly, does yous have something for us to do?"
"What can we do for you? That boy with the big jar was mean. You freed us. Is she being mean? Do you want us to pull her hair and steal her things?"
Micjimble was assaulted by several similar statements and questions as the little fairy-folk swarmed around him.
"No, I need help getting this room clean. I'll give you instructions, but I want your help."
"Is this room not clean already?"
"Oops. Just a sec." After muttering a few words, the room seemed to shudder and collapse. "There. Now I need your help. You help?"
"Yes. Very messy. But good tricker are you! We help good tricker!"
And the next two hours were spent chasing around the little fairys making sure that they weren't doing something they shouldn't, like hiding in a boot, or moving a whole shelf of stuff to another shelf in another room, hiding his clothes in the tub, and so on. Then it was lunch and back to classes.
"That Micjimble, he had an illusion in his room that would have fooled the Headmage if he hadn't been in the room already today and seen the mess." Kria whispered to one of her friends, Bequie.
"So? He's your friend. If you know him as well as I think you do. What do you want us to do? Let some GUY we don't know much about in on some of the big secrets? Come on, you're smarter than that, Kria!"
"No, I'm saying we should get him to create an illusion for our secret safe! We've got too much going in now to risk one of the more experienced mages walking by and sensing or seeing it! Come on, use your head! We can find something to interest him. He had a swarm of pretty little fairies owing him a favor, too. What else does he have? I was too busy reading a scroll on speculation about planar travel to see anything else in his room!"
"You're thinking he could have things more useful to us?"
"yes! Guessing from the surprised sounds he was making the whole time, he had even forgotten some of the stuff he had."
"So? Maybe you heard him realizing that he had three extra coppers floating in his washstand or an extra copy of a light-candles scroll."
"Unlikely. I get the feeling he wouldn't need the scroll."
"I've seen him in class. He can barely cast spells in front of him!"
"I know, but how does that explain what I witnessed today? Look, I have been becoming friends with him while we've been here, and I had no idea he was even capable of this kind of thing. I wonder how many people he's charmed to get himself out of trouble?"
"Who knows? Maybe he's charmed you? Since when was speculation about planer travel so interesting? Come on Kria! Snap out of it!"
"If he's charmed me, it's the normal guy-girl stuff. See this necklace? Well it was made by a cleric-mage far more advanced than anyone here, years ago when such things were possible. No one can possibly charm me."
"I wouldn't be so sure, Kria." And the bell wrang, signaling the end of their lunch break.
Jungraphy ambushed him as he exited the dining hall. "Come on! It's alchemy next! maybe you can find a way to improve soap!"
Micjimble looked at his muscular friend and decided his sheer size was a good enough reason to not smack him in the back of the head. Instead he wove a minor confusion spell around jungraphy's head. And, as usuall, it backfired. So Micjimble ended up entering the Alchemy lab with a rather complicated long-lasting confusion on him, causing him to walk around the room in a daze, nearly upsetting a shelf of potions and causing the biggest explosion the Academy had ever seen.
"Micjimble! Damn! He's been attempting a confusion again, hasn't he? Quick! Sombody hold him!" And so, with a dozen students casting spells of holding, slowing, freezing and clear-mindedness, he was prevented from disaster causing yet again. Of course, he was stuck in that position for two hours, much to the distress of Master Mages who couldn't remove the confusion and had to wait it out.
"Micjimble, wht do you keep doing wrong? A spell of confusion that strong is rarely usefull, and usually not needed. Then there's the fact that it backfires all the time!"
"My spells of understanding do even better at confusing people!"
"Yes, I'd have to agree with you there. But that's two types of spells you can't get right! You missed you entire time int he Alchemy Lab today! Do not attempt another confusion spell without several of the more experienced mages around to help. Understood?"
"Good. Now. I want you to go to the library and start sorting and cleaning. If you come accross a Find Familiar spell, wait until the full moon, but cast it."
"Can I cast any other spells I find? Or at least read whatever I pick up and haven't already?"
"Please don't go casting any spells in there. But you know you can read everything. But you've only got until spring, then you are out patroling."
"Yes. I'll be going now."
So Micjimble spent the rest of the day in the library, forgot dinner, and it wasn't until after midnight that thought of going to his room and sleeping before class in the morning occurred to him.
"That Mickity Jimbly nice. Like his tricks too do I! We stay here, help!"
"But he can't know! Such things are unheard of by our kind! We'll have to do tricks too."
"Of course. he's much better than giant-jar-boy! We hide."
"What if he finds us?"
"We hide better than that!"
"Shh! He's coming!" With that, a swarm of little fairy-folk flew into a false stone in the wall.
"Hey, Micjimble! Watch it, or you'll get a flameball in the butt!"
"Kria, you know that won't actually happen."
"Well stop bumping the table!"
"Hand me that jar over there. No, that one." Micjimble handed her the jar she had indicated, and she scooped some of its contents into a bowl. "Put some flames under here!" With a flick of his finger Micjimble sent a flame shooting up under the bowl. "Not so hot, please. And back up."
Micjimble wasn't liking this potion making. But if he was told to do it, he was going to do it. There were worse partners than Kria. Far worse.
"Hey, you know your guard friend, the one that catches those poor rabits?"
"Whatever. Well, do you think he could gather some herbs for me?"
"The only herbs he knows are the ones he puts in his pipe or eats as he's walking."
"Really? This Boltajen fellow seemed smarter than that."
"Ask him to identify an animal or weapon and he'll do good enough. Can even tell you about them, too, usually."
"What about plant life?"
"I guess he wasn't interested."
"Fine. Well, let's just get back to the potion. That bottle over there, with that flask."
"How about this vial, too?"
"I guess, it's not like we're actually following a recipe. Just don't forget to write it down!"
"Okay, now, I'm going to fetch some water, you feel free to play around. I'll get some empites too."
"Hurry back, Kria." Micjimble poured a little of the mixture off onto a cooler flame. Then he started adding bits of anything he could reach. Kria yelled at hm when she got back, and tried to cast a flameball at him. It went poof in her face, and the potions reacted odd to it.
The potions bubbled, then oozed up into a hand-like shape, then subsided into a potion again. One of the mages saw.
"Micjimble! Carry that potion out to the Wastepool. Wait! WE have a lot more to go out there. Get your cloak and staff and come back to get the waste."
Micjimble did as he was told, then, using a few minor levitation spells once a distance-fold spell didn't work, started the long walk to the Wastepool.
"Is it really a good idea to send Micjimble all the way to the Wastepool alone?"
The mage considered the question for a minute, then he replied: "Point taken. Go follow him, you and Kria. Bequie, be careful."
"Of course. Though I still think that its Micjimble you should be worried about." Bequie went back into the lab to get Kria. Kria wasn't exactly happy to be going, but she didn't midn it. They grabbed their stuff and left.
Micjimble reached the Wastepool nearly an hour later. He stared in a kind of mix of awe and horror. The Wastepool was really a lake set in a crater on the top of a small mountain. It glowed.
The lake shimmered different colours. There were spots where it tried to climb the cliffs around it. Failed experiments were tossed out of geyser-like eruptions of color-changing ooze.
Micjimble walked up to the edge of a cliff, though afraid of hights, and sat down, dangling his legs over the Wastepool. Then, one by one, he tossed the objects he was given into it.
Each one made a small explosion or other reaction. Then the last one, the potion that had gotten him sent on this miserable errand, hit the water. The Wastepool erupted. Heat and cold, energy, just plain, raw magical energy, buffeted himf rom all sides. Light and flames shot up and swirled around him. The sound of it was making his head hurt. He was spattered by strange liquids. Rocks and bits of magical items gone wrong pelted him. He was slipping, falling. The stone wasn't under him anymore. He was unconcious.
"Wha? Kria, what is that?"
"I don't know, but Micjimble is that way. Let's --"
The wave of energy overtook them before Kria finished her sentence. They were blasted back the way they came and knocked unconsious. Then the energy wall receded back to the Wastepool and Micjimble, leaving nothing but destruction behind.
"Someone get the Headmage!" cried the lookout. His cry was echoed all through the Acadamy, and soon the headmage found himself on the tallest tower leaning in the direction of the Wastepool.
Everyone at the Acadmy went tense while watching the Magical cloud blow toward them, stop a mere five feet fromt he Acadamy's walls, and receed back the way it came. Several mages feignted. The cloud could be heard and felt by everyone present. The destruction could be seen as it receeded.
"What was that?" Jungraphy asked of the headmage.
"It looks like the Wastepool finally did what I've always predicted would happen. It blew. That much failed magical experimets and just plain failed magic isn't good to be mixed. But the practice was in place centuries before I was even born, so there was little I could do about it."
"Headmage! I sent Micjimble to the Wastepool. Do you think he may have survived?"
The headmage frowned at the Alchemy lab keeper for interupting his thoughts. "Doubtfull."
"What about Bequie and Kria?"
"What about them?"
"They went after himt o make sure he didn't do something stupid."
"Not that I know of."
"Some of their other friends seem to be missing," offered Jungraphy grimly.
"Damn. We can't risk anyone leaving the Acadamy yet, we should also calm down the students and mages."
He was alive. He couldn't remember why he shouldn't be, but he was still surprised that he was. But he couldn't see. Or move. He was on his back. It felt like the entire Acadamy had collapsed on him.
But he wasn't at the Acadamy, was he? He had gone to the Wastepool and....
He tried harder to move but still couldn't. He lay still, and calmed his mind. He had never tried dthis, but had read much about it in his days in the library.
He let his mind drift out of his body, up through the rubble on top of him. He couldn't move it with his mind. He sent his mind toward the Acadamy, horrified by the destruction.
Bequie woke. She couldn't find Kria. She ran back to the Acadamy. The doors were closed. Of course they were. The sun hadn't risen yet. She knocked as loud as she could.
Her hands had already been sore, but she kept knocking. Eventually a tired Boltagen opened the gate. "Whadda ya want?" came the inquiry after a rude yawn.
"Hurry up and let me in, will you? I've got to talk to the mages."
"Who are you that I should be letting you in?"
"Bequie, you dolt!"
"Bequie who, and why should I let you in?"
"Because I'm a student here!"
"Of course you are. Or maybe I think you aren't what you say you are? Maybe you're --"
"Boltagen, what's all that noise?"
"There's a girl here, claiming to be a student here!"
"What's her name?"
"She says it's Bequie."
"And why haven't you let her in?"
"Cause you said not to let any one in!"
"I knew I should have breifed you while you were paying attention. I said to not let anyone OUT!"
"Oh." Boltagen turned to Bequie, embarrassed. "Sorry."
The matter of the gate behind her, she went to look for one of the mages. They sent her to bed, and cast sleep on her to make sure that she followed their instructions.
Micjimble's mind encountered a frightened but barely harmed Kria waking up, hidden under a tree. He freed her and calmed her, then picked her up and floated her to the Acadamy and over the walls to the Headmage's room just as the sun rose.
With the last of his energy, he picked up a quill pen, dipped it in an ink pot, and wrote a message to the Headmage, who was waking up now.
Headmage, please help me! I am trapped at the bottom of the Wastepool.
Please HELP me!
The pend ropped to the table before he finished writing his name. Darkness surrounded him once again.
When the pen dropped from the invisible force writing with it, Kria suddenly realized how she came tob e where she was. She had felt so calm as the tree lifted off her, as she lifted off the ground, herself, as she flew back tot he Acadamy, and as she sat in the Headmage's room watching a pen move seemingly of its own accord. Now the calm was fast retreating.
"Kria, what are you doing here?"
"I ... I don't know. Th-there was all that en-energy. I was thrown to the ground. Th-then I woke up trapped under a tree, it lifted itself off of me, I flew back here and I sat here and watched that pen write a message on your desk."
"It's from Micjimble. I'm assuming he charmed you into not being afraid, then helped you instead of conserving his energy to write a complete and neater message."
"I can't be charmed. Not while I wear this necklace."
"There was a lot of energy in the Wastepool that got released. You were caught in it. That necklace may be useless now."
"It better not be!"
"Go, Kria. Rest. The school will march to the Wastepool and dig out Micjimble, but you and Bequie can remain behind to rest after your ordeal...."
"Thank you Headmage."
Someone got out a drum. Which led to pipes and hornes, and whistles and lutes; basically, the entire procession turned into a marcing orchestra before it left the Acadamy.
Of course, to the Headmage's annoyance, very few people were playing the same tune. So he called everyone up into ranks, and began conducting as the left the Acadamy at a slow but determined pace. he had been floating backwards in order to manage this, and before he got ten feet from the walls, his spell ended. He fell. Everyone laughed. Including him, until he reallized that no majic worked here.
They continued on, playing what they wanted at their own pace, no longer a whole, and by the time they reached what had been the Wastepool, everyone understood that magic was useless in this destroyed land.
Which, of course, made the task of digging out Micjimble rather difficult, long, and exhausting. But they managed it.
The Headmage himself uncovered Micjimble. Or, Micjimble's face.
The rest of his body was an absence of rock. And, while lifting Micjimble out of the hole, his face dissapeared, too.
Luckily, the instructors had a lot of experience with invisible spells gone wrong, as did some of the students.
They soon had the strange armour off of Micjimble, though his cloak and robes still blurred his form into indistinguishibility.
They all rested there that night, and went back to the Acadamy in the morning.
Micjimble awoke in his bathtub. At first he was startled, but he quickly relaxed. A few minutes later he got up out of the tub and dried himself off, then, when he noticed he had no clothes in the room, turned to leave, the warm room not needing the towel around him he let it drop.
Luckily, he avoided embarrassment when he grabbed another one -- he heard voices in the next room, female voices. One he recognized as Kria, and the others were similar to the fairy girls he had recruted to clean his room.
"All a' ye, get out!" He shouted. There were definitly feminine giggles as he heard them run for the door, which slammed behind them. Alone now, he walked out into his room and got dressed.
There was a note on his desk.
Micjimble, tonight is the full moon. Meet me on the scrying tower tonight.--Headmage
"I've slept for two days?" Micjimble wondered out loud. Looking out the window, he noticed that the sky was beggining to darken. "I'd better hurry," he muttered.
The Headmage was waiting for him on the tower. Micjimble found him easy enough, it was the reason for the summons that eluded him for some reason. He felt like he should know, but it just wouldn't stay still, so he couldn't catch the reasoning for the summons.
"Ah. You woke up after all. I was beginning to worry. You did remember the scroll?"
"Scroll? ... Oh yeah! I'm getting a familiar, ain't I? Umm ... just a sec, I know I can find the scroll quickly." His excitement increased rapildy, now that he remembered the reason for the summons.
"Don't worry. I brought a few. Here. Let's begin."
Micjimble read over the scroll a few times. Then he went through the relatively simple ritual, and was excited by the light and energy working in an area near him.
When Kria finally got over her giggling fit, she went back to her rooms. She and the fairies had had fun, but she had no desire to upset Micjimble, let alone see him come out of his bath and without clothes.
After some tidying in her own room -- a task simplified by the pressense of the helpful fairy girls -- she decided she could use a quick bath herself. So she warmed the water, added the oils and soaps, dropped her clothes, and stepped into her own tub. About a half hour later, she felt magic stirring around her, so she stood and grabbed a towel.
As the light coalesced into a humanoid form, that of a female clutching at some form fo covering, Micjimble grew more and more excited. That is, until it was clear and detailed enough for him to recognize the girl.
"Whoever's summoned me in this fashion could have at elast had the decency to spy on me first so I could be wearing SOMETHING!" Shouted the familiar voice, the one he expected. "Micjimble? What's going on?"
"I ... I must have made a mis-mistake. Or are you my familiar?"
"My familiar. I was attempting to aquire one, and you came. Are you my familiar?"
"I beter not be!"
The Headmage was laughing. As he usually did at a magical screw-up. Though, of course, he had never encountered one quite like this.
"Could you kindly tell me what you're laughing at? I don't find the idea of serving him amusing, personally."
"Yes, what are you laughing at? She would make a most troublesome familiar, if that's what she is."
"I always said I had a problem with using forgotten tongues for spellcastiing. Of course, spells just don't want to work in the vernacular, for some reason."
"What are you talking about?"
"It seems you pronounced the word for 'familiar' wrong. You said a word more closely resembling 'friend' than 'familiar'."
"Oh. I'll try again. I see my mistake, I misread the word."
"And how shall I get home?"
"Oh. Yes. Umm ... Kria, I've never been in your room. I can get you in the right wing, on the right floor, and most possibly in the right hall, but that's as close as I can get, I'm afraid."
"And I can't do even that well. Sorry."
"Oh. So, since I can't cast my own kind of transportation spell right now, I have to walk down the hall in a towel?"
"Fine, steal my cloak. But you're gone in a few minutes."
After several minutes of concentration, made more difficult by Kria's constant complaining, Micjimble managed to open a sort of gate from the room to somewhere else in the Acadamy. Kria surprised him by saying that it was her door she was looking at.
Micjimble went through the ritual involved in finding and summoning a familiar again, and was excited by the energy he could feel gathering around him. In the spot he had indicated, a bright light had appeared, and intense heat was radiating about the room. Then with a "pop", his familiar was sitting on the floor in front of him. After letting his eyes adjust to the now normal light, he felt dissapointment approaching.
An egg. His familiar was an egg. It was a little larger than his head, and gold webbing surrounded its dark, almost glowing, kaleidescopic rainbow-coloured surface, but still, it was an egg!.
"Did I do something wrong again? No, I don't think so. I followed the instructions to the letter. What manner of egg is this, and how can it be my familiar?"
"Calm down Micjimble. It's an egg. So what. Eggs hatch, don't they? The creature is just a little young, is all. As to what it is, I don't rightly know."
"Well, how big is it going to be? I don't have room in my rooms for a creature as big as this egg, let alone what will grow from whatever hatches. Where shall I keep it?"
"Another question I cannot answer, as I don't have it. But we will find somewhere, don't worry."
"Do you have anything else for me to do tonight? I don't feel like sleeping."
"No, Micjimble. Go back to your rooms and try meditating. Calm yourself and clear your mind. Your studies resume on the morrow, you won't be spared for nearly destroying the Acadamy twice in one day."
"Twice? I nearly blew up the Alchemy lab, then on the Labmaster's orders blew up the Wastepool!"
"You could have done more damage than just blowing up the lab, and the Wastepool's explosion came within five feet of the Acadamy's walls."
"Oh alright. I nearly destroyed the Acadamy twice in one day. Now can I go sleep now?"
"Not really, but I want sleep, so good night, Headmage." Micjimble left and went to bed, falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
'Well, at least Micjimble managed to send me to my door', throught Kria as she returned to her interupted bath. She had finally relaxed when the fairy girls burst from some secret entrance they had and swarmed her.
"How is ya?"
"Kria doin good?"
Where's Mickity Jimbly?"
"You gonna try make us wear fake-skin again?"
"Slow down, one at a time! You mean clothes? I'm taking a bath, I'm fine, Hello, Micjimble is probably still in the tower with the Headmage getting a familiar. Was there anything else?"
"No. you mean!"
"Because I'd like it if you didn't fly around naked?"
"We aren't always naked! We wears leaves when we see Mickity-Jimbly, but we haven't talked to good-tricker in a while."
"Okay, wear leaves when you come to talk to me."
"But you girl too ... what matter does it?"
"Why hide from other girls?"
"Oh. Umm ... It's what my kind does, and we don't 'hide', we just don't let men or other people see parts of us."
"We wear the leaves when we go get the wingless-ones, our mates. Phlcuk-Uck!"
"Wingless ones?" Kria giggled, even though she didn't know exactly what was said.
"Mates. The boys. We're young for that thing, but in the spring some of us will be allowed to go catch one."
"Like an owl and a mouse."
"You eat them?"
"No! We mate, then we have little boys and little girls, and we raise them up, and they run away and the boys make their little cities, and the girls catch them and so on."
"I don't want to hear anymore of this!"
"You gonna catch one?"
"No! I mean, I don't know ... I dont' think so."
"Doubt it. Bed time for you? It is for me."
Kria got out of the bath and dried herself off, slipped into a nightgown, and jumped in bed. She thought all the fairies had left. But just before she fell asleep something tickled her cheek and whispered in her ear:
"You be-a-utiful. No need catch, they come right to you if you want. You got pick of them all."
Oddly enough, the next three weeks were pretty much uneventfull for Micjimble. As far as his familiar went, he was dissapointed continuously. But the Winter-Solstice was coming up.
It also snowed every day for the entire three weeks. Many doors in the Acadamy wouldn't open, burried under the surface of a sea of snow as they were. But for the mages, there were other, faster methods of transportation.
Which meant jobs for greedy elder students who could take younger students places. Which meant Micjimble could have raked up lots of trinkets. But he didn't. He got a few coins, but he didn't go around doing extra work he didn't have to do.
When the snow stopped falling, at the end of the three weeks, Micjimble sat at a window and melted snow and ice, being carefull not to start any fires or build up water inside the Acadamy walls. it was an activity derived mostly out of boredom. After all, three weeks with him in the library pretty much made the place organized for the next decade or so -- excepting, of course, the chance aquisistion of a large amount of books or scrolls -- and left him with nothing to do except classwork, which he was finding rather easy.
While melting snow and evapourating water, Micjimble was thinking of family and the Winter Solstice, which led to thoughts of the non-existent gifts for the Midwinter Celebration.
He wasn't sure who got the task of shoveling snow and chpping ice off their family estate, but he decided to make earrings and rings for all the younger ones he could remember back there, magically make them so that with the proper command, they could melt snow and ice.
Still without a gift for any of the older members of his family, he trudged off to class, half the Acadamy unburied. Jungraphy was there, ready to ask him questions on the topic they were studying, whatever that was. For someone who couldn't remember such an important thing, Micjimble was doing remarkably well in his studies -- better than the rest of the class who remembered what they were learning, or at least the name of the topic.
Class didn't really releive Micjimble of his boredom, and he went to the supper hall half asleep. After finally eating and waking up a little more, Micjimble also decided he would make a mug of warming, so his parents and other elder family members could keep various liquids warm.
He spent the next few days actually making these items that would warm things for his family. Most of them actually worked the way he wanted them to. Jungraphy activated a speaking gem, asking Micjimble to come up to a certain stone on the outer wall. Having finished his gifts for all his family, Micjimble went.
Micjimble found Jungraphy where he had expected to. A seemingly ordinary stone in the wall could be opened, and things could be hidden in it. Micjimble and Jungraphy had created one and had been using it in a sort of game with other students. The object of the game was to find trinkets and things outside the walls of the Acadamy, and hide them. After each expedition, Micjimble and Jungraphy hid their stuff in this stone, and if they found other items with the tag of the game, (a magic signature only seen with a certain type of enchanted stone), they put them in their stone. So far, no one had taken something from this particular stone, and they had never completely raided another player's cache. Most players were in teams.
Jungraphy had found a token to be added to their cache, so he wanted Micjimble to undo his wards and traps so it could be put in the stone. But Micjimble could sense another tag on the item.
"Jungraphy, do you remember where someone else's cache is?"
"Yes, I happen to know where a few are."
"Well, let's go to the one you think should be raided and add that little beacon you're holding to it."
"Ah. Let someone else raid?"
"We'll take a few items. We aren't stupid."
The raid went as Micjimble and Jungraphy had planned. Some student was soon going to find that his cache was gone. Micjimble didn't know where the things had been taken, but the ones who did the raiding weren't hard to pick out -- they were gloating.
Midwinter was fast approaching, and Micjimble was hoping that his door home would work properly. Once it had sent him halfway around the world. Luckily he had managed to keep it open long enough to figure out where he was, or he would have been stuck there.
Three days before the winter solstice, most of the students went home. Of course, some had already left, some didn't have the means, and some just didn't have anywhere better than the Acadamy to go.
On this day, Micjimble stepped through his door to find his family's estate deserted. After an hour of frantic searching, he found the note in the most obvious spot. Right in front of his door. It said:
Gone to Uncle Frederick's new estate in the south. Much warmer, and none of us could get your magical contraptions to work, sorry if we alarmed you.
--Mother & Father
Micjimble piled his gifts on top of the note and went back to the Acadamy. It had started snowing again. He sat down in his room and stared at his shelves.
"Yay! Good-tricker back!"
"Why come back, Good-tricker?"
"Yeah, why come back? Kweea and Big-guy not back."
"Kria-ia gonna come back, though, right? She left lots of things in her room."
"I came back early because my family went to my mother's uncle's new land in the south somewhere and couldn't tell me before they left. Kria will be back in another week, and so will Jungraphy."
"What we do now? Not gonnna go to boring paper place, are you?"
"Too cold to go outside."
"Yup yup yup."
"So what we gonna do?"
"I don't know what we can do. I was going to go to the library, but I don't know what I would do there. Look for somewhere to go."
"We know lots fun places to be!"
"We take Mickity-Jimbly nice place!"
"Yes! Yes! Yes!"
The fairy creatures swarmed around Micjimble, singing, then it seemd he was surrouded by fog. When it had cleared, he was sitting in a huge pile of jewels.
As he started to look around, Micjimble saw weapons and armour, and much treasure.
"Mickity-Jimbly, be carefull!" Whispered a fairy. Whsipered!
"Yes, big scaly mean thing eat what comes in here." Still whispering.
Micjimble now noticed skeletons. Very few of which were complete. Then he saw the dragon. A dragon. These silly little fairy things said they were going to take him somewhere fun, and they made him appear in the middle of a dragon's hoard!
The dragon shimmered and suddenly was a unnatural-looking human woman. She walked through a doorway that Micjimble hadn't noticed earlier. The fairies followed her. Micjimble was unsure of what to do.
"Good-tricker, come with us. Do the no-one-can-see-me thing."
Well, it might just work. He was sure the fairy wouldn't tell him to do something too disasterous. So he cast an invisibility spell on himself, then followed the fairy-creatures.
The polymorphed dragon had entered a library. A huge library, one to rival the Acadamy's. Micjimble sat in a corner watching, hoping his invisibility spell didn't expire before the dragon went for another nap. Luckily, it failed jsut after she left.
Micjimble quickly pushed all the tomes, scrolls, books, scraps of parchment, and anything else he could see in the room into as small a space as he could, then asked the fairies to take it all back to the Acadamy. They did as he asked, and actually remembered to come back for him!
The look on the Headmage's face when all that stuff came into the library as amusing. But not as amusing as the look on the mage in charge of the library, or on Micjimble's. Micjimble's look turned to horror when he saw that none of the old books were there.
"You didn't waste time getting our books back," the Headmage managed to say.
"These are new aquisitions, thanks to a sleepy dragon. Where did ours go?"
"A rival school stole them. We had hoped...."
"What school? I'll have them returned, and I'll take their library with me."
"Get your friends, I'll get you some things I think you'll want to take. I will put you within the school's walls."
"I'll try to tear Kria and Jungraphy away from their families."
"And Bequie. Dong forget Boltajen too."
Micjimble left to contact his friends, and actually managed to get a hold of Jungraphy, and Jungraphy got Bequie, who in turn got Kria. Boltajen was quickly contacted, adn by midnight they were all standing in the room in the scrying tower.
"Micjimble, when we dug you out of the crater that had been the Wastepool, you were wearing this armour. Take it and wear it on our library raid. Also take this staff and hope it wont be needed. It was also with you int he bottom of the Wastepool."
"I will give you each a recall token. If you need to come back, I will activate it." The Headmage handed them each a token, thenhe cast a spell, causing a doorway to apear. "go now, and good luck." Micjimble and friends stepped through into some rival school of magic.
"Which way do we go?"
"I'm not sure."
"Your guess is as good as mine."
Boltajen simply staggered over to a doorway, caught some young student's attention, and asked where the library was. He was given directions. "Little fool thought I was just a bit drunk and late for a meeting. This place is huge. Probably twice the students of the Acadamy."
Boltajen then led them on a exhilerating run through the school, managing to avoid all the mages. The library proved a problem, with four spellcasters studying. But not much of one when Kria and Bequie simply walked in and used their good looks as a distraction. Micjimble cast a spell, and all four slumped over, asleep.
Jungraphy, Kria, and Bequie began moving the books while Micjimble prepared an illusion. They were about to call the Headmage when a thought struck Micjimble, inspired by a stowaway fairy.
"Can you show us how to get to the dragon's library?"
"Yes. You gonna steal from him again?"
"No. We'll take these there, then to the Acadamy. Then anyone attempting to follow will end up in a ddragon's lair instead of our library."
As the books vanished from sight, Micjimble activated the illusion. Then he hand his friends went to take the books home. Luckily, they didn't encounter the dragon. And upon arriving back at the Acadamy, Micjimble realized a bigger library would be needed. Micjimble said good-bye to his friends as they went back to their families. Then he gave the armour and staff back to the Headmage and went for a bath, then bed.
The next day was spent labouring through the books to see what they had, then Micjimble and the librarian mage came up with a spell that sped them up and allowed them to organize the books and scrolls better than they had been. The spell took all night to cast, but it was worth it. Two years worth of sorting were done in the next half day. The librarian insisted on titling the spell 'Micjimble's Quick Library Organizer', even though Micjimble did little in the creation of the spell.
After a much needed rest, Micjimble was rudely woken by some fairies, who insisted they go have some fun. Micjimble was reluctant, as the last time he agreed to do something "fun" with them it was sitting in a dragon's hoard. But he had nothing left ot do but watch his egg glow.
"Where aer we going this time?"
"Yes! Pretty cave!"
"Hold on a second, let me get some things." "Some things" were a staff, a spell-book, and some things that would allow him to get back here on his own. "Now, let's go." That's what they were waiting for.
He materialized in the dark. Luckily, he had a glowgem, and a white saphire at that, so everything near was bathed in soft white light. Some of the fairy-things were fascinated by his gem. They tried to take it.
The cave was pretty. Amazing. And for some reason inspired thoughts of Kria. A minor problem, but still, she was just going to be a friend, as she was now, and he wanted her to be. He shoved those thoughts away and explored the cave.
Crystal stalagmites and stalactites dotted the cavern, and at the base of three stalagmites, water bubbled up. Fresh water. Micjimble then noticed veins of silver running along one wall. Or what looked like silver.
He tried getting a fairy's attentino to ask it about the place, but couldn't. So he sat down at the pool formed by the spring and concentrated, casting divination and scrying spells. He was glad that the fairy-things were kept amused long enough for long enough for him to find out what he wanted to know.
The cave had no entrance, and wasn't even near any other tunnels or caves. As far as he could tell, there weren't creatures of any race he had ever heard of in the area, nto even within several hundred miles. Which, of course, led him to wondering how the fairy-things came to know it was here. They were back and speaking to quickly for him to understand, and he asked.
"Don't know. Sister showed us, sister showed her, on and on, no one knows how here was found."
"We come here for hundreds of years."
"How many in a hundred?
"Ten groups of ten would be one hundred. So you don't know how your people came to know of this 'pretty cave'?"
"Nopity nope nope."
"Allright then. I'm going to leave this crystal here so I don't need you to come back here." Micjimble then placed a stone with his mark carved in it and a special enchantment allowing him to find wherever "here" was again.
"How many is ten?"
"Count your fingers."
"One, two, three, four, five, six ... eight?"
"No! One two three four five six SEVEN eight nine ten!"
"Oh. Why do I have to know how to count?"
Micjimble didn't wait for the fairies, he enacted his spell and stepped into his room back at the Acadamy. The Winter Solstice was the next night, and Micjimble planned on spending it in that cavern.
Kria stepped through her portal back to the Acadamy. She wished Bequie or Jungraphy had agreed to spend the night with her so she wouldn't be left alone with Micjimble, but they hadn't, and he was a friend. Just a friend. No one could possibly disagree with that statement.
One of those crazy little winged females found her putting on a dress instead of her customary attire. It was just because it was the Winter Solstice. She always wore a dress on this night. Except last year, and the year before that....
"You look pretty, Kria-ia!"
"Thank-you, but I don't know if that's what I want for tonight."
"Why? What tonight? Winter Solstice?"
"Yes. I didn't like the thoguht of Micjimble spending the night alone."
"I think he should go to the pretty cave, and take you. It good idea."
"The pretty cave? I dont' know. We're just friends."
"You not tryint to catch?"
"You mean!" With that, the fairy left.
"They are so strange." Kria muttered to herself as she made sure her anti-charm necklace was in place. Then she grabbed the bronze statue of herself she had made for Micjimble's Midwinter present and put in a bag with her book and some other stuff, and went to find Micjimble.
"Micjimble! Mean Kria-ia back! She want to keep company you."
"I was planning on going to the nice cavern for the night. She can come along, I guess. First take me to that dragon's hoard."
"Oh, why take her?"
"Because she's a friend and if she doesn't want to leave me here alone, she can come with me."
"Fine. But I wish big-mean-thing-with-scales would bite her."
"Just get me to it's cave."
Micjimble was glad when the fog surrounded him and he was standing on top of a pile of gold. "Go take kria to pretty cave, I'll be there soon."
Micjimble noticed that the dragon wasn't in the main cavern. He noticed a rather nice ring had somehow moved up onto his foot, so he picked it up. He was wondering about the dragon's library, and if she had managed to get a few more books so he wandered in one picked up a half buried book with a charred hand clutching it as he neared the entrance.
"Who are you, and what are you doing with my things?"
"Uh-oh. I'm Micjimble, and some annoying fairies took me to your library one day while I was bored. I came back on my own and found it was empty. I just happen to have copies of some books at my school that I'll give you for a trinket for a gift for a friend."
"The book in your hand isn't yours, and either is that ring worth giving to your friend."
"No, I thought the book should be in here, not under a mountain of gold. I was lost in thought when I picked up the ring."
"You are wiser than others who have wandered in here, and I believe I know the little ones you speak of. Consider yourself lucky you are still alive."
"Well? Can you give me something for this friend? She gave up time with her family to visit me, and I'd like to thank her."
"A lady friend? Then perhaps you won't be willing to sire a clutch of half-breed. Oh-well. Can't miss servants you never had. One of my eggs has gone missing. Have you ever seen a dragon egg?"
"I don't think. I was instructed to cast a spell for finding a familiar, and I got the strangest looking egg." Micjimble followed the dragon in human form, and stopped and stared at the dragon's clutch of eggs. A dozen just like his familiar.
"What does this egg look like?"
"Th-that! My familiar is a dragon?"
"Yes. A full dragon. You got the runt, so it was doubtfull it would have survived the initial feeding frenzy. Don't look so surprised. I may be a first time mother, but I know such things."
"How much longer untill it hatches?"
"Should hatch any week now. Do you have a suitable place for it?"
"No. Well, what a coincidence I'm trying to bargain with my familiar's mother. What language would you like your books in? I'll have my charges copy and even translate. They need the practice."
"No, no. Don't bother. Just give me any books you aquire that aren't needed. I'll build my library again. I'm still young. For a dragon, that's a century. Actually tonight is my one hudredth Winter Solstice, the day I was born. That's why I thought you were here to sire a clutch of servants. I would have given you at least one...."
"Well, Kria isn't exactly a 'lady friend', she is just a fellow student I discuss magic with."
"Ah. In that case, my name is Sa Roh. Well, that's what you can call me, you don't have the time or the tongue for my real name. But you might have the tongue for other things, eh?" Sa Roh wrapped her arms around Micjimble and held him tight.
"Um, that gift? You can come with us tonight if you wish. I don't think her parents would think us being alone appropriate."
"Funny humans. I'll never understand you. Now let's see. How about the dagger 'icicle'? It protecs the weilder from fire and allows them to control ice and snow."
"Nothing so powerfull or obviously valuable. She is just a friend, at least at the moment."
"How about these gloves? Their sole purpose is to make fingers move fast."
"I guess, now let's go to the cavern I'm going to meet her in.
Micjimble and Sa Roh arrived to find Kria sitting by the pool and the fairies litteraly showering her with gifts of bits of crystal they managed to pick up. She looked up as they approached.
"Sa Roh, I met her today and thought I'd let her come along."
"He has almost agreed to sire a clutch of servants for me."
"I still don't think I'm going to, Sa Roh."
"What do you mean sire a clutch of servants' for you?"
"Why wouldn't you? You find this form attractive do you not?"
"I mean that I believe him to be a good sire for my servants."
"And who do you propose be the mother? Me?"
"You'd enslave your own children?"
"The ones who survive."
"The ones who survive?"
"Calm down you two. Fidn something else to talk about. And Kria, no flameballs, no matter how small. She's more powerfull than she looks. I'm going to explore this cave some, you two talk and hopefully get along." Micjimble walked away hiding among the many stalagmites, and was glad when he heard giggling and saw them looking in the direction he had left in.
The fairy-nuts wouldn't let him wander around alone. They found him and started trying to teach him to "see heat". Of course, his eyes were that of a human, so he wasn't even able to accomplish such a feat without magical aid. But the fairies didn't know that. Or at least wouldn't beleive him.
He stumbled back to the pool quite accidentally, fell off one of the stalagmites, and nearly into the pool. And was giggled at so hard Kria nearly passed out from lack of oxygen. When the two girls finally caught their breath, Sa Roh got up to leave.
"I'm just a little tired and don't want to spoil your evening trying not to wake me," she said as she simply faded out of their sight.
"You look even prettier than usual today. Or is it tonight? I don't know. Wait a second, is that a dress? I've been told you despise them. I can't beleive I didn't notice earlier!"
Kria blushed and stuttered, plushed some more, and shouted "It's Midwinter!" And managed to turn even redder. And, because of hte curiously low neck, Micjimble noticed that she was red everywhere. "Here's yoru Midwinter present, Micjimble the rat!" She hadned him a statue.
"It looks remarkably like you. Is there something you wish to discuss? Nevermind. Here. Your gift."
"Gloves? You got me gloves?"
"Try them on."
"Now could you get us a little more light?"
"Okay, but couldn't you have ... Eeek!" Kria jumped back adn Micjimble was blinded by a flash of bright light. When he opened his eyes, he couldn't see anything. Nothing at all.
"I can't see anything! You made me blind!"
"No, the lights went out. I got scared by my fingers moving so fast. So these aren't jsut gloves, are they?"
"Bring back the light. You know the answer to that question."
Oh fine." Micjimble could see again. He was glad of that. Until he really noticed how good Kria looked.
"This light is boring. Let's make it fun." Kria stopped the light again. Micjimble bent and picked up a crystal, chanted, and then it began to glow a very faint pink. He put it back on the ground picked up another, and chanted. Kria started doing the same, and soon nearly all the fragments of the crystal pillers the fairies had brought to the pool were glowing.
"This is more interesting. But it's usually brighter than this on the surface, sometimes even on a cloudy night." Micjimble continued picking up smaller crystals, now from the pool, and when he replaced them, the pool looked even prettier. Then he moved on, touching crystals as large as him or in some cases several times his size.
Once again Kria helped, and the fairy-thigns quickly figured out how to do it, so they flew off, randomly touching crystals to light them. It would take them days to completely light the cavern this way, if they wanted to. But Micjimble had an idea.
He went back to the pool and sat down, closed his eyes and started concentrating. He sent his mind out to all the crystals in the cavern and chanted once, then opened his eyes. The effec was marvelous. Soft, very soft, light was everywhere, throwing weird shadows. The light was nearly all the colours of the rainbow, but mostlly red and white. The lights started twinkling, and it was as if he was outside under the stars, if the stars were multi-coloured and there were many, many full moons int he sky, and then there was teh fact that the ground was glowing brighter than the ceiling ... oh well. It was nicer on the eyes.
Kria came over and sat next to him. She hadn't sat next to him in a while, and definitely not so close. The fairies were back adn bugging them, and they ended up playing riddle games for hours, until Micjimble and Kria slumped over, asleep, leaning against eachother and a pillar behind them.
Kria woke up the next day to find her dress twisted this way and that, her chest exposed through the low neckline and the skirt of the dress pulled up to her hips. Micjimble lay with his arm around her, and his clothes rumpled, too. She was just a little suspicious, so she reached down his trousers and felt around a little, and decided she was lucky he didn't wake up at her touch.
She stood and straightened out her dress, put parts of her back in the dress, and looked at Micjimble and saw that he had woken up and looked at her when she moved his arm off of her. He was still staring.
"What are you looking at?"
"Nothing. I mean something obviously, being you. But I didn't mean to. My eyes just wouldn't move for me...."
"Just forget what you saw and try getting me back to the Acadamy."
He was just as surprised as her to wake up somewhere he wasn't used to waking up with her in his arms and half-naked. It took him nearly half an hour to get his mind together and get them to the Acadamy. The fairy-things were nowhere to be found, either.
Back at the Acadamy, Kria said good-bye and went to get ready to return to her family. Micjimble went to his rooms and put the statue of Kria on a cluttered shelf where his veiw of it would be obstructed by jars of various sands and powders. Then he went over to his bed, and saw his egg sitting on the table. It had become larger.
He changed and went to see Sa Roh. He found her napping on a bed of gold coins, in her natural form, of course. He sat on a nearby pile and began estimating the worth of it all. A dragon's hoard, obviously, but he hadn't really heard of one this big before. Sa Roh woke up an hour later, and by then Micjimble was counging gold coins, a nearly impossible activity.
"What are you doing with my gold? Planning on taking it?"
"No, I was just wondering how much you had, and I think you have more than I've ever heard of one dragon owning."
"Probably. I've had a few dragon-slayers fall in love with me in my human form. They threw all their treasure at me hoping to win me over. Didn't work. Then there was a breif cult made up mostly of theives. They thought I was the avatar of their deity or something.... I don't aquire treasure the way other dragons do. Then, of course, there are people who pay to use my library or ask advice and stuff."
"Okay.... So how much is here?"
"I have no idea. Maybe you should count it. Get those annoying fairies to leave me alone now they know I won't really eat them."
"Oh, I don't know.... But I really came here to tell you the egg grew. And I'd like you to talk to the Headmage about my familiar. And I think we raided a school who came into ownership of your library. I doubt the Headmage would let me give you back all the books, or at least not the originals, but...."
"I'll get more books. And I will talk to your Headmage, adn the egg growing doesn't mean much except it will be an egg for only one more week."
"What will it want to eat?"
"It will be an omnivore when it hatches. Sometimes it will be herbivore, go to omnivore, then carnivore, but I think this one will be omnivorous all it's life. Just cook a large supper for it on the night the shell goes dull and starts to crack."
"Okay. Now, when will you see the Headmage?"
"I don't have anything better to do right now, so how about now?"
"Okay, let's go. You'll have to change...."
"I guess you're right. I'll be inside, won't I?"
"Okay, get me to your Acadamy."
Micjimble opened the door-thing and they stepped through into his rooms. He checked the egg again, and Sa Roh was smiling when he looked up. "What?"
"the egg is doing good. And you've collected much for a mere human...."
"I'm a packrat. I keep what I can. I'm going to have to find a bigger place to store it in soon."
"Especially with one of my babies for a familiar. Did you know your friend wears a powerful protections against charm?"
"Yes. She tendsd to brag about it."
"I will never understand humans."
"Either will I." Sa Roh laughed at that. Micjimble led her to the Headmage then.
The Headmage had just spent an hour debating where to put a new library, and was glad when Micjimble interupted. He brought a girl he had never seen before with him, which got the Headmage curious.
"A new student?"
"I am not in my natural form. Micjimble here has somehow managed to get one of my eggs as a familiar. I understand is rather unusual, but so is teh area of dead magic outside your walls."
"What area of dead magic?"
"What manner of creature are you? Oh, magic doesn't work where the energy you released from the Wastepool touched."
"I've worked magic there...."
"You have? Nevermind, that is a matter to discuss later. What is your name, then girl. and would you care to offer up what you are?"
"My name is Sa Roh. I am a century old dragon who lives not too far from here. For those with magical means of travel, that is. Micjimble here says you found my missing library in one you raided recently. Could I have free access to it? No one need know what I am but you two."
"fine, fine. I'm happy to share our knowledge, though a rival school missinterpreted that statement...."
"Many mages would."
"yes, yes. Now what's this about Micjimble's familiar -- an egg --- being your child?"
"The runt of the clutch. You have a week before a dragon breaks out of that egg."
"A dragon? Micjimble, I think we should find you a better residence. Away from the Acadamy. I know of a place if you could wait until spring...."
"I can keep the familiar in a cave, called 'pretty cave' by some fairies who continuously grace me with their presense."
"The cave we were in last night?"
"That would be quite appropriate. Before I went home for a nap, I had a look around. That is an island, large, and no even remotely intelligent species residing on or for thousands of miles under it."
"Maybe I should start a school of my own...."
"Wait for another decade or so, that's a rather large task to undertake so young."
"I still don't know how the fairies found the place."
"They like pretty things. A relative of theirs I knew when I was much younger tried to teach me to 'find pretties', but it's beyond the abilities of one not of their peculiar magic."
"Umm, Micjimble? I just remembered something. Dragons are considered intelligent, more so than humans, so you can't have a dragon for a familiar."
"I said that it was the runt of my clutch. It will most likely be weak and not grow fast. And it's intelligence is probably debatable. If it isn't a familiar, it is a loyal servant. For keeping it alive it will serve Micjimble, act as a familiar, maybe, I don't know. But the 'pretty caves' are just as good ahatching ground as any. I'm going home now, I need another nap.
Once again Micjimble watched Sa Roh fade from sight. "Well, Micjimble, it looks like we have some planning to do."
"Oh, and if this dragon isn't your familiar, then we may just have to have you try again."
"Of course, Headmage."
"The planning can wait for until the egg hatches, or even later. I'll be sure to have the kitchen prepared to cook up a huge meal on short notice."
"Thank you, Headmage. I'll go to the city now if you don't mind, I'm rather bored here at the Acadamy."
"Go on then, Micjimble."
"Bye Headmage." Micjimble left the Headmage chuckling and shaking his head. Micjimble went to his room to get some things he thought he might need, then walked out of the Acadamy.
Of course, Micjimble didn't walk the entire way to the city. He simply translocated himself to the furthest point he could see repeatedly. One such translocation dropped him atop a rock outcropping with bandits climbing up and around him to get at a caravan that had busted an axle on the road. They were not prepared for an attack.
Micjimble only had good intentions. He concentrated, wiggled his finger above his head, and started chanting. The chanting started at a whisper, but soon grew to great shouts. Flames shot from his fingers, and he waved his hands around. And caught the trees on fire.
So he tried to put out the fire. He decided to try blowing it out, but only succeeded in fanning the flames even higher and hotter. Now people were screaming, and horses bolting. Micjimble tried rain ow, but in his hurry he called down lightning as well. Fire, rain, lightning, and wind swirled round and round, a storm like no other witnessed by these bandits or the people of the caravan. Then the mud moved, and rocks were lifted into the air, along with branches and anythign loose enough.
One of the crossbowmen had a bolt aimed at him. Micjimlbe wasn't sure which side the man was on, but at the moment he didn't care. He yelled "Freeze!"
And that's exactly what everything did. There was a cleric in the caravan, who freed himself. He then warmed Micjimble and questioned him. "What do you think you're doing?"
"I was trying to warn you of the bandits that were behind the rocks."
"As our scout did when the forest caught fire. You unleashed a rather large demonstration of magical ability. Where did you learn this?"
"At the Acadamy."
"Are you able to help me tend to the people you wounded or do you need to rest?"
"I can help, I think, though we aren't taught any temple magic at the Acadamy. I can move things, and now that I've relaxed I think I can warm the people here without roasting them alive."
"Good. Let's get started then, shall we?"
So Micjimble spent two hours cleaning up yet another of his messes. And began to wonder how the Headmage could put up with him.
Micjimble was rewarded for his good intentions with everything found on the bandits, and because of the lack of anything better to do with them, he locked them in a magical cage in Sa Roh's cave, a cage that she should be able to easily unlock and lock as she pleases when she wakes up. And a not explaining why they were there. He now had a dozen horses and lots of weapons and armour. So he continued on into town. On foot. Luckily for him, it wasn't far.
Once in the city, he found an inn, and put his new horses in the stable with the help of the stableboy. There wasn't a whole lot of loot worthy of keeping from the stuff taken fromt he bandits, but there were several gems and some jewelry, and some coins. He sold off most of their equipment at different places throughout the city, then walked right into the main market to find something to eat.
He got a piece of jerked beef and wandered around, examining wares on tables in outdoor booths while eating. He was just finishing when he saw a huge man walk up to a poor boy who had been sitting peacefully, begging for a coin or two from certain people. He had given the boy a few coppers a few seconds ago, then turned his back. The man wanted him to give Micjimble his coins back, and began slapping the boy around.
Micjimble pulled out three balls and started juggling. He seemed to not quite have the hang of it and ended up close to the man and boy. He coudl see now that it was a guard. He dropped a ball on the boys head and he dissapeared in a puff of smoke. The big guard laughed.
"I don't know where you sent him, mage, but he probably deserved worse. Check your purse. You'll find that you're missing some coins. Theives, most of the younger ones are." With that, the man walked away.
Finding nothing else of interest in the market, Micjimble headed back to the inn. It grew cold and he saw a few snowflakes fall as the sun set, reminding him that though the snow had melted, it was still winter.
In his room at the inn, Micjimble counted coins and gems. It was a small fortune, and he tagged teh gems and jewelry of little value for the game back at the Acadamy. He then hid them in an extradimensional pocket and left the inn.
He wandered the now empty and dark streets, looking for a nice place to watch the snow fall. Then he saw it. A tower in poor condition, probably deserted. Micjimble's next step brought himt o the top of the spire, where he found a comfortable spot and watched the night time activity in the city.
More went on at night than he would have guessed. Lights were flashing at the temples, of course, as preists did various ceremonies and taught the would be priests -- and priestesses of course. City guards patrolled. Tavern owners had their bouncers throw the riff-raff out, street girls became more obvious about their wares and then, of course, were the theives.
Unlike the boy in the market that afternoon, these people were actual theives. They actually stole things. Not that he was going to stop them. He would probably catch the whole city on fire, or flood it, or blow the walls down. Or he could rearrange the whole layout, or possibly move entire buildings to other planes of existance. Or he could confuse or charm the entire city. No, he wasn't about to try to stop some theives from stealing from other people. Besides, he already stopped bandits.
He was surprised when a young man hauled himself over the edge of the sloping roof to join him. "You're the Juggler, aren't you?"
"One of teh balls you were juggling in the market today made the head of my guild's nephew dissapear in a puff of smoke."
"What guild might that be?"
"The theives guild."
"Did I do soemthing terribly wrong?"
"No, but even if you had the Guildmasster would be nothing but diplomatic towards you. He saw what you did to his rival's bandits."
"So he doesn't mind that I made his nephew vanish?"
"His nephew wasn't going to do well inour business. Too many morals, too much of a concience. I'm assuming the boy is safe?"
"Yes, he's safe. I take it it would be preffered if I find him a better place to live?"
"You've got it. How long will you be in town?"
"I was going to leave tomorrow."
"Remember to collect your payment."
"What more payment do I need?"
"A young girl, a little younger than yourself. She's recently decided to try selling a certain service ... without guild approval. We would like you to take her out of town, to wherever you are going."
Micjimble sighed. "Fine then. But I don't know what I'm going to do with these people."
"She'll be in your room at the tinn when you get back."
"In my room?"
Micjimble concentrated, and attemptedto do his dissapear-from-here reappear-in-room thing, but instead the tower started sinking. It was going into the ground. The whole tower. "Uh-oh."
"What's going on?"
"I messed up another spell!"
"Does this happen often?"
"It happens often sometimes?"
"Well can you stop it?"
"I don't think so."
"Why not? You started it!"
"I don't know what's going on. I could make this worse."
"Worse? The Guildmaster will be furious if his tower is swallowed up by the ground! How can you make it worse?"
"Then I'll just have to raise it up again when it finishes going down."
"That's it? You make it sound so easy!"
"I think I know how to do it. Although I'll never live this one down if the Headmage hears of it."
"What if you can't get it up?"
"I dont' know. We wait."
"I'm not sticking around here!"
"Fine. I'll clean up my mess and then go sleep myself back to strength. I'm losing power to exhaustion."
"Well you better get this tower standing again. It could be disasterous."
"I'll manage." They reached the ground, and Micjimble and the theif jumped off. Once the magical energies settled down, he probed around for the remains of the tower, and asked it to come out of the ground. It actually worked. The tower flew out of the ground like a bolt released from a crossbow. And kept going. At least it grew some more floors, too.
When the magical energy subsided once again, Micjimble looked closer at the tower. It was several times the size it had been, and now it was gleaming white under the mass of hideous statues fashioned from pitch black stone. It was hard to make out the white.
"How did you do that?"
"I thought you weren't going to stick around. I don't know how I did it. I'm --" Micjimble yawned --" Soo tired. Maybe I wont leave tomorrow after all. Can you have someone make sure my horses are all right? I think I'll just lay down here and have a nap." Micjimble was asleep before his knees bent and he fell to the cobblestone street.
Jack looked at the mage. "Must have exhausted himself," he muttered to himself. To think he had raised that tower up, looking brand new, after sending it to who knows where. Jack had never heard of such power, nor uncontrollable use of it. Well, the Guildmaster would be happy. He had abandoned that tower years ago to rats and insects. Now he was legally the owner of the most impressive building in all the city.
Jack decided to get the odd mage back to his room. He somehow managed it. And that little would-be whore started babbling to him. He forgot her name, and didn't care.
"Nothing's to be stolen from him. I'll be back soon. You'd better still be here." He put the mage on the bed and walked otu the door.
Thankfully, the Guildmaster was awake. Jack approached as he had been taught, and, as usual, the Guildmaster spoke before he revealed his presence.
"How'd it go?"
"Odd. I have something to show you. We should get to his room as soon as possible so that we can make sure that that brat stays with the mage. Oh yeah. He has some horses he wants to make sure are being taken care of."
"We'd better get moving then. My nephew is the only one better than you and me at taking care of horses, so you can check on them when we get there. Now, what do ou have to show me?"
Jack explained his encounter with the mage as he and the Guildmaster walked to the tower. It wasn't enough to prepare him.
"Now, Guildmaster, I really mean that the tower has grown. It's changed, too." They rounded the corner, and the Guildmaster stopped and stared.
"Th-the Juggler did this?"
"Jack, this must have been the working that woke me." He couldn't beleive it. Jack had warned him, but still ... this? He approached the large double doors at the top of a set of large, stone steps.
"You may not enter yet." The doors spoke?
"Possesion of me will come when you complete your task."
"What task?" Now he could see the carved knockers had heads and were speaking to him. A magical trick, obviously.
"Bring the mages. Of all the schools on the continent." All the mages on the continent? In this city? Quarreycliff wasn't that large....
"How will they all fit in this town?"
"How did the armies of old, when open war raged across the known world?"
"They didn't. They camped outside."
"Farewell. Bring the mages."
The Guildmaster felt dizzy. He stumbled backwards and Jack caught him.
"Guildmaster? Are you all right? You've been staring off at nothing for the last few moments."
"Huh? Oh, yes, I'm alright. Let's go secure the Juggler's travelling companion. I'm going on a trip, a grand adventure, starting tomorrow, or the day after. You'll come too, perhaps?"
"I was planning on escorting that brat back to the Acadamy with the Juggler."
"Fine, you do that. I'll check on his horses then go prepare for my journey. Let's move."
"Oh, yeah. Guildmaster, I think a cleric should check on our mage friend. He passed out and it would be best if he was in proper travelling condition when we leave."
"Okay, Jack. A cleric will check on the Juggler."
Micjimble woke up when Jack entered once again. "Who are you?"
"I'm known by my associates as teh Silent High Shadow, to friends as Jack. I could ask the same of you."
"I'm Micjimble. And who is she? She looks familiar...."
"I'm someone who has to travel with you. I've never seen you before in my life."
"If you'll be travelling with you, I'll know your name. I've already gained the strength to pry into your mid again, so just be honest."
"I'm known as Oral the Con, but my real name is Laurel Deck."
"Micjimble is it? We've been calling you the Juggler. Keep the name, it could be usefull. I summoned a cleric to make sure that you were all right, he should be here soon."
A few moments later the door opened and a familiar face walked in. "Ah, it's you. You didn't destroy anything in the city did you? I didn't catch your name earlier."
"Micjimble. Or apparently I'm now 'the Juggler'. And I didn't destroy anything. I accidently sent it away, and when it came back it was different."
"It must have been some working, the strain is still apparent. I was told to inform you that your horses are fine."
"Good, good. It's getting a little crowded in here, and I need to rest. Oral can stay if she wants, but the rest of you should stay outside. I would like to be able to leave tomorrow."
"Then good night. Rest well." Jack and the cleric left. He still didn't know the cleric's name. Oh well, that's for later.
"Now, do you want to tell me why I'm being stuck with you?"
"No, Juggler, I don't. Because I don't really know. Something about telling a drunk that he couldn't afford my company for an hour, let alone an entire night. A memer of the more prominent theives guild heard the remark, realized I wasn't a member of any theives guild, and ratted me out as an unauthorized whore."
"Is it true?"
"A drunk man raped me, years ago. I wouldn't go near a man from this city. Not rich enough."
"Okay. That's enough, I guess. Just sit somewhere and be quiet while I sleep."
Micjimble woke the next morning, broke his fast with Laurel and Jack, and it appeared both of them would go back to the Acadamy with him. Unfortunately, the horses refused to go anywhere near a magic door or portal, and he couldn't jsut send them where he wanted like he did that boy in the market. So the three mounted up, each leading three horses. And Micjimble had his first riding lesson.
Just at the edge of teh city, that cleric found them. "Going back to the Acadamy?"
"You said there wasn't any temple stuff taught there, and I'd like to see what I can do about that."
"Would you like to join us?"
"Sure! Mind if I borrow a horse to keep up?"
"Go ahead. I don't remember how far it is by horse, I usually jump about. Faster and easier on the feet."
The four of them ended up campin in the woods that night, and made it to the Acadamy by noon. The students were beggining to return from their breif holiday, and there were more to stare at the horses. Horses weren't common around the Acadamy with all the hills and rock, and it being a school of magic and all.
"I beleive we have enough room in our stables for these for a while, but might I suggest finding a more suitable habitat for them? They courtyard of the Acadamy is no place for a horse to live. No room to stretch his legs, you know?"
"I'll think on it. Make sure they're taken care of." Micjimble couldn't remember the man's name. He had never had an interest in that part of the Acadamy he looked after before, and still didn't.
The cleric went off to see the Headmage, and Jack and Oral Laurel ConDeck followed Micjimble to his room. "Micjimble, where is the Guildmaster's nephew?"
"I'll send you to the cave where he should be. I just reallized he's probably hungry. I'll catch up later. Here, just walk through the hole." Jack went where he was pointed, and Laurel stayed. And started poking around. "Hey! Come with me. It wouldn't be appropriate for you to stay here."
Micjimble led her to the mage in charge of sleeping quarters, and she was assigned a small room for her stay, upon the Headmage's approval. On the way to her room they ran into Kria. Or, more accurately, she ran into them.
"Shouldn't you run outdoors?"
"Shut up, Micjimble. What is she doing here?"
"This is --"
"I know who she is, and Mom's been worried sick! I gave up trying to help find her!"
"You know her?"
"Of coruse I know my sister!"
"Yes, we're sisters. You didn't know?"
"No. All I know is that I was paid to get an unautherized ... umm ... whore ... off the streets of Quarreycliff."
"You ran away and tried to be a whore without the Guildmaster's approval?"
"I told a drunk man he couldn't afford me. That's it. Okay? I didn't mean to be gone so long, and then this guy came back to his room unconcious and we waitand and waited, and now we're here. We gotta talk to the Headmage to make sure I can have a room while I'm here."
"I guess I could let you stay. Micjimble, I'll take care of this for you, those fairies are back adn saying they have something important to talk to you about."
"Where are they?"
"They said something about the 'pretty cave'. You could try there."
"Okay, Jack's there all ready. I guess I could go see him and make sure he found that boy."
"Yes, you do that. I'll take care of my sister."
Micjimble went back to his room. And noticed that the egg was starting to dull it's colour. He ran to the Headmage. "It's going to hatch soon!"
The Headmage sent an order down to the kitchen to start cooking, took the egg from Micjimble and told him to go get Sa Roh. Micjimble jumped straight into Sa Roh's cave, where he found her watching over the bandits as they rearranged all her treasure. Not sorting or counting, but constantly moving it. And there was a swarm of fairies teasing a boy. The boy from the market.
"The egg is dull!" He shouted, and she understood. The bandits were caged and she and the boy went to the Academy while Micjimble and the fairies went to the cave to get Jack.
"He's not here, Micjimble. Did the spell go wrong?"
"No, I found him in a dragon's cave. I either missed or some annoying fairies moved him. Probably the fairies. Anyway, would you like to come watch a dragon hatch?"
"No, not really, but it would be rather interesting. So this was a friendly dragon? The boy is safe?"
"Yes, let's go."
Micjimble, Jack, and the fairies were back at the Acadamy and quickly found the room containing the Headmage, the cook, the cleric, Kria, Laurel, and the boy. Sa Roh came in behind them.
"The egg will hatch in a few seconds." She knew this from a single glance at the egg. A first time mother. Micjimble didn't have time to ponder that. He was more interested in whether or not this was really his familiar.
Sure enough the egg started to crack open. What startled Micjimble was the size of the head that poked out of the shell a few moments later.
"I told you it would be weak." Then, to the surprise of everyone there, it blew its egg apart with a blast of magical energy. "I have never seen a dragon use so much magic so young. It must be your summoning spell."
"Is it hungry?"
Of course it's hungry! Give it the food."
The tiny dragon lifted tiself up and crawled over to the food, picking at the meats first, then just grabbing anything. Soon all the food was gone and it had grown to about the size of a house cat. It's wings were stronger now and it flew over to Micjimble and landed on his shoulder. It looked at Sa Roh, and it seemed they communicated.
"His name is Noot Kanoot. He will be your friend but you must look elsewhere for your familiar. He wants to go to a cave with access to food so he can grow and be strong. I suggest making one on the island of the pretty cave so he can hunt as he will. There is plenty of food there and he can't do any harm. In a month he won't need to eat near as much, and can move into the pretty cave. I must go home now." Sa Roh faded out of sight.
"So I still don't have a familiar?" Everyone laughed.
Micjimble and his companions -- the rest of whom arrived back the next morning -- spent the next few days on an uncharted island they had no idea how to get to by ship at all, making sure the newborn dragon was going to do well on the island. They found a cave, there was plenty of food. They just wanted to make sure everything was just right. Noot Kanoot got annoyed and revealed he could speak to them, telepathically.
"You don't have to stay. I'll be fine. I won't leave the island, really, I won't. You can come back and check every day or so if you want. Oh. Bring those horses of yours over here. They could live here, right?"
"The horses should have humans to watch over them and would most likely be frightened by your presense. This would be a great place for them, if there was ahuman settlement here, you're right."
"Just go back to your Acadamy and leave me be. I'm a dragon, I can take care of myself already. Bye." So they left, some of them with the help of the fairies.
Back at the Acadamy, Micjimble and his friends resumed their studies. Much to the annoyment of the fairies.
"Come do something fun."
"We found a new pretty place, wanna see?"
Micjimble was getting tired of it. The fairies were fun to have around, but he only had a few weeks before he was supposed to go out into the mountains patrolling. He wanted to make sure he knew what he was facing and how to face it when the time came.
"Worry about that then. New pretty place fun! You like, come see!"
"You little bugs! I know, here's what I want you to do. There is anoble over in some big city on the next continent, the butterfly shaped continent, the city with the pretty glowing towers. Now, this noble has a huge zoo. He keeps animals and things there. He has a creature there that he shouldn't have. It's skin is like gold, eyes glowing emeralds. It has silver hair, and is the most beautiful thing ever heard of. It needs to be taken out of it's magic cage and brought back here, so we can teach it of it's powers. Would you like to do this for me? I'll come play when you get back...."
"Okay, Mickity-Jimbly! We go get this creature for you." One by one, the fairies winked out and dissapeared, off on their quest to rescue a creature who shouldn't need rescuing. At least they were gone. Peace and quiet, great for studying. And reading up on a few more time-consuming errands that the fairies would find fun.
"Okay, Little Brother. It's nice to see you, but aren't you supposed to be in that city with your theives guild? Or have you given up on the unlawful fools and returned to your temple?"
"Well, ah ... umm.... You see, it's a little more difficult than that now. I'm both the High Priest and the Master of my Theive's Guild. But anyway, that's Micjimble? THE Micjimble."
"Yes, Id id say I would see he is well educated the day he was born. Remember? You were there, afterall."
"He needs to learn more control. Maybe in the service of a god would be a better environment for him, one you seem to leave out here."
"The students may choose their own religious life here."
"Well, Micjimble nearly destroyed my caravan while saving it from bandits."
"That soudns about right."
"Then ... then he sent our nephew to that island where we put the dragon, and left him there."
"He's not usually one to forget something like that...."
He exhausted himself in a magical mishap on the top of a certain abandoned tower I own for a reason we both know."
"Mishaps are usual, especially magical. But exhaustion?"
"That's not important. The tower changed."
"So it's begun?"
"Maybe. I came here on the pretense of spreading religion, but what I really am doing is searcing out all the mages on this continent to tell them to gather at the tower. Or, rather, gather outside Quarreycliff."
"Then that prophecy must be coming to pass."
"I'll stay three weeks then I must move on to the next school. While I'm here, I'll teach the willing about Crysis."
"This was never meant to be a place of worship."
"Not worship. Learning."
"Fine. Go ahead."
"Now that that's settled, tell me of our young friend, Micjimble."
Micjimble had found a few quests to send the fairies on when he remembered his game tokens in the extra-dimensional pocket. He went to his cache and deposited them. Jungraphy popped up behind him seconds later.
"Now, what have you been up to? What's the point of collecting more of those when no one has even managed to penetrate our cache yet?"
"I came into ownership of them. They aren't worth the time it would have taken to sell."
"Whatever. Bequie gave me something to give to you. She didn't explain at all."
"What is it?"
"A hunk of some crystal, as far as I can tell."
"That's all you can say with all your experience and studies?"
"I didn't really look at it."
"A bit distracted?"
"No, tired from pushing rocks all day."
"Why have you been pushing rocks?"
"Because some old mage wanted them pushed."
"I guess that's all the reason students here need. 'Our superiors wanted it done'." They both laughed.
"Well, I'll leave you to examine your crystal, I'm to help unload some merchant wagons."
The encounter was not the weirdest. By far. The crystal, however, was. It appeared to be no more than a large chunk of quartz. Except for a slight, subtle hint of magical energy emenating from it. Not much, but to Micjimble it felt like the thing should be glowing.
Micjimble lost himself in that hardly noticable pulse of magic, trying to figure out what it was meant to do.
"Can you teach me some magic?"
"I don't think the Headmage would approve."
"Ah, Bequie! Why do you have to start following the rules now?"
"I've always followed these rules."
"Why do you think I'm in such a nice position in the heirchy here already?"
"I'm soon to be a teacher. Next winter."
"Will you be able to teach me then?"
"If the Headmage lets one as old as you into the Acadamy."
"Can we ask him if you can teach me now?"
"He has more improtant things to do right now."
"Lots of stuff, okay?"
"Oh, fine! Be that way."
"Let's go find your sister."
"Like she'll be more fun."
"I didn't say she would be."
"Why do we have to go find her?"
"Because that's what I think we should do right now."
Laurel started whining. As usual. Bequie ignored her. As usual. They found Kria int he library, reading about the monsters in the mountains nearby. She didn't seem to be in a good mood.
"I'm going out in a patrol at the first sign of spring! And the only person in my patrol group that the Headmage has decided on is Micjimble. Hopefully there are others...."
"I'll go to the Headmage and see if I can be put in that patrol. And Jungraphy."
"Can you ask him if you can teach me magic?"
"It'll be a while if I'm out in the mountains for a few weeks."
"Ask if I can come along."
"I doubt he'll agree...."
"Bequie, we need non-mages in our patrol. And, of course, I'd like to keep this brat where I can watch her."
"I'm telling mom!"
"And I'll tell her how you were found."
"Oh ... I forgot that. C'mon, Bequie. Let's go talk to the Headmage."
"It's not that simple...."
"It is for Micjimble."
"Micjimble messes up so often that the Headmage lets him burst in so that the problem can be fixed even quicker. And they know each other better."
"Then let's go schedule an apointment...."
"Okay. That we can do. you can read and write, right?"
"Kria taught me a little."
"Good. you can do the work."
"I don't know what to do!"
"I'll tell you."
The Headmage was bored. He had nothing to do at the moment. So he sat in his office and sent his mind soaring around the Acadamy.
He soon tired of that, and came back to his body. To find Bequie and that Oral Laurel ConDeck girl outside his office, writing a note requesting an audience. So, back in his body, he opened the door and let them in.
"What can I do for you?"
"We came about the spring patrol groups."
"You want to be in one with Kria and Micjimble? And Jungraphy, perhaps?"
"And she won't let me come! Kria wants me to, though. She won't teach me magic, either!"
"Do you have any skills you could offer the patrol?"
"Well, I can hide, and move around unnoticed.... And find traps. I can set them, too."
"Is that all?"
"I can outfight all the street boys in Quarreycliff."
The Headmage laughed. "More than enoguh, more than enough. I expect you all to be ready by the first sign of spring."
"Thank you." They left. Oh well, he had just rememberd about a spell he had been meaning to write.
Laurel was determined to prove her worth. She learned about all manner of common creatures in the mountains nearby. She also grew bored of that within an hour and went off exploring the Acadamy.
She soon came accross an ancient-feeling section. It felt old enough to have hidden doors and passages. She concentrated on her ring, a gift from the elders of her family, when they were dying. Soon enough, she felt drawn to a particular section of the wall.
Laurel concentrated some more, and the long-unused secret door groaned and grated open. She was glad nobody else was in the hallway at the time.
After the dust settled, she stepped through the doorway.
Laurel found herself at the top of a long set of stairs. She called into her ring for some light, and was thankful when it worked. It didn't always work. Laurel slowly made her way down the dusty stairs. They seemed to go on forever. It could have been hours or minutes, or maybe days before she reached the bottom. She didn't know. It felt like a long time, but she realized she was impatient. It was probably only about a quarter of an hour.
What she beheld at the bottom was hardly an encouraging sight. Long, dark, dusty, gray, plain, and cold corridors, as far as she could see. No rooms, doorways, tapestries, statues, nothing. She shrugged and started walking, randomly choosing which way to go when faced with a choice. There was no logic or plan to he deciisions. She wanderd for hours, going in elaborate circles she was sure. Unless there were several other people with feet the same size as hers wandering around down here.
When she reached the stairs again, she decided to turn around and go straight. That proved somewhat more productive when she eventually came to a wall with elaborate relief carvings on it. But she was again faced with a choice. Left or Right?
The Headmage saw it -- a carocus was coming up in his garden. Spring was here. So he sent for the members of Micjimble's patrol party. Unfortunately Micjimble was on the wall entranced by a stone, and Oral Laurel Condeck was missing. So they would be late leaving for patrol duty. Why wasn't he surprised?
Bequie wondered if Micjimble had figuered otu what that chunk of quartz was. Jungraphy said he had given it to him the afternoon before. Sometimes he was good enough to do it that fast. But then again, it was Micjimble.
Kria walked in just then. "The Headmage wants us to leave soon, and that little 'sister' of mine is somewhere unknown to everyone I've asked. Usually with an area as small as the Acadamy, I'd search for her ring, but there is too much magic here...."
"Let's go see Micjimble."
"On the wall, completely entranced with a certain piece of quartz."
"Uh-oh. I was just worrying about that...."
"Do you think the Headmage can find her?"
"Maybe. Think he can help Micjimble?"
"I don't know. Where did that bit of quartz come from again?"
"One of the higher ups took it from a cult. They called it 'the key'. They sent it to me to give to Micjimble for him to figure out what it is."
"Not all guys are useless, Kria."
"Of course not. But they usually at least meet guys before giving them important tasks."
"Micjimble has made a reputation among the various hidden groups under the name 'The Juggler'."
"Oh. So this was based on brief reputation?"
"Do you have a problem with our leadership?"
"No. I just don't like their tendency to sacrifice males. Well, not when it's Micjimble. I kinda like him."
"The quartz isn't dangerous to someone like Micjimlbe."
"I suppose not...."
"So, shall we go check up on Micjimble?"
"Might as well."
"Okay, let's go."
After carefully studying the carvings on the wall and going carefully through everything she knew, she decided to go right. Because her magic ring was on her right hand.
She came to a room with only one other door soon after. In the center of the room stood a fountain with a dragon for a spout. She walked towards it. The eyes lit up, coloured light reflecting and refracting in the ripples of the water. A voice spoke in her head.
"Laurel Deck. If you believe yourself worth, bathe int he fountain."
Oral the Con was worthy of anything, at least in her own eyes. So she stripped and stepped into the bowl of the fountain, submersing herself in obviously magic water.
"You are worthy>" As she stepped out, she felt a strange tingling where the water evapourated. Left behind was skin-tight invisible leather armour. She felt more secure with her abilities to fight and hide. She put her other clothes back on and left through the other door.
She soon found herself back at the engraved wall. She shrugged and went back the way she had come, back up into the used part of the Acadamy. Where she couldn't find anyone she knew.
More and more people gathered on the wall, watching Micjimble. He was standing almost perfectly still, turning the hunk of quartz he was mesmorised by over and over in his hands.
Kria, Bequie, Jungraphy, the Headmage, the cleric, and the thieve's guild's guildmasters' nephew, and Jack, were eventually joined by Oral Laurel ConDeck.
Micjimble had been in this state for more than a day. No one knew what was going on. Then Noot Kanoot arrived for an unexpected visit. And Micjimble tossed the rock in the air, then fainted.
Bequie and Kria looked at each other, both letting out frightened gasps as the 'key' started it's downward decent. And was caught by Noot Kanoot. Relief they tried not to show flooded through.
The cleric stepped forward to check on Micjimble. Apparently he was fine and woke moments later. He looked right at the crystal and said "I don't understand."
Most people didn't wait for an explaination, they had just wished to see that Micjimble was all right. Micjimble wouldn't explain, either. So the attention was shifted to the return of Laurel Deck. Who would only say she had been exploring.
The Headmage announced that they needed familiars. And the boy from the market finally introduced himself as Simon the Stable Boy. Who wished a career change to adventurer. Or explorer. Noot Kanoot expressed his desire to meet his mother. The cleric admitted nobody at the Acadamy really wanted to learn about his god. So two more were added to the patrol group, making their number seven. Micjimble agreed to take the dragon to meet it's mother. As long as the hunk of quartz was returned.
The cleric and Simon left, Micjimble and Noot Kanoot went through Micjimble's hole in the air to see Sa Roh, Jack ran off after Simon, and Laurel decided to follow him.
Then the Headmage started going over how one goes about aquiring a familiar. First there was the determining of what manner of mage one is. What kind of spells they cast, where they live, their lifestyle. And then ther's the fact that you have to be able to put up with it. But none of that does any good if you can't bring the familiar to you and bind it as a familiar.
Well, they all encountered problems. Kria got nothing but frogs. Bequie wanted an imp but couldn't quite summon one -- she got turtles and snakes on every try. Jungraphy got a mouse and was afraid he'd crush it, then there were hampsters and guinea pigs, rabbits, weasels, ferrets, and rats. He had no clue what he really wanted in a familiar. They weren't using the same type of spell as Micjimble had been.
Eventually got a mouse that thought it could take on a cat and was content with that -- it wasn't a frog. Bequie liked the idea of a snake more than a turtle and picked a small one out of the many she had aquired. Jungraphy picked the weasel for no real reason. They went to one of the gardens on a tower top and released all the animals they didn't want and confined them with some spells. Then they returned to the Headmage to await Micjimble's return and attempts at summoning a familiar.
Micjimble was not prepared for what waited in Sa Roh's cave. A dozen young dragons three times the size of Noot Kanoot were feasting on several cattle. Which the bandits were now bringing in more of. All the treasure had been sorted through and neatly arranged in the back of the cavern. Except the huge pile of gold coins Sa Roh used as a bed. She was happily watching her hatchlings devour an entire herd of cattle.
"Micjimble! Things have changed here. As you can see I'm a responsible parent and don't merely turn my babies loose on the world to eat and steal everything they see like most other dragons. The bandits were very useful. They sorted all my treasure so I now how much is here. There are a million gold coins in my bed alone."
"Good! I'm glad they're helping someone. Noot Kanoot here says he wants to meet his mother."
"Is that my little runt? Hmm.... Very powerfull in the magic, now aren't you? Micjimble, you can take what you want, but try not to take too much. And keep your hands off my library!"
He spent a lot of time digging through the massive weapons cabinet and chests of magical items, and took a few thigns out to figure out what they were. Sa Roh shouted across teh cavern everything she knew about a particular item if he spent too much time looking at. He chose two daggers, Flame and Ice, which together protected their weilder from fire, cold, and water, and also allowed one to control these things. He also found a few other sorts of useful stuff, things that sped up his casting time, improved his concentration, improved focus and aim, enhanced his eyesight, and enhanced his hearing. Each was a pendant, which he put on a chain that allowed him to throw his voice.
Sa Roh also helped him understand the hunk of quartz. It was a talisman with which one could move rock, or summon earth elementals. Rather useful. He accompanied Noot Kanoot back to his cave and started experimenting.
The compination of all the magical items he had on his person allowed him to make the whole mountin in which the cave was located into an impenetrable fortress. He also re-routed some springs so they all came otu at the top and ran down in a waterfall over the only entrance. The main cavern was then lined with metals, crystals, and precious stones that had been hidden in the rock of the mountain.
Then he left. Back at the Acadamy, the Headmage gave him the spells the others had used and asked him to try casting them. So Micjimble thought about it. For a mintue. Then he used his new necklace to quickly cast the spells and confuse his friends by throwing his voice all around the room.
The magical energies came and a creature apeared in front of him. A raven. With redish black feathers. A blood raven. It suited him, and agreed to be his familiar. So it was bound. They were amazed. He laughed.
"I've already tried twice, I've had time to think about it."
They went to ready themselves for the journey, though it would not take place until the morning. Micjimble was up on the walls soon after, using his new items to determine the exact area of the dead magic zone.
Eventually he summoned an army of earth elementals to go around it, then raised a fifty foot tall and twenty foot thick wall of solid rock under their feet. He then dismissed them. Nobody could use that for a sneak attack. But now he was extremely tired and went to his rooms, then passed out fully clothed, half on the bed.
Everyone but Micjimble was ready before bed. So, come dawn, they were in the courtyard by the gate, waiting to leave. They had been since first light. But Micjimble wasn't. In fact, Micjimble hadn't even woke yet. They went up to the wall to see what so many people were staring at.
They understood Micjimble's tardiness upon seeing the new wall. Automatically each one of them decided it was Micjimble's doing. And such thoughts were confirmed when he finally showed up around noon.
"Where have you been?"
Mcijimble wasn't sure which person yelled at him. "Asleep. I figured out what that quartz does. It summons earth elementals and moves rock."
"Did you make this wall?"
"Yup. Goes all the way around the no-magic area."
"And nearly touches our walls!"
"It's only half as high."
"Why did you do it?"
"Things could hide from us in there. While I'm out on patrol you can't see what's going on in there magically."
"Good point. I'll get someone on building a ramp and gates. Speaking of gates, you people were supposed to go through one hours ago!"
"Sorry. Ready now. Let's get walking."