“Jack.” Siphokazi said.
“Yes?” Jack said, slowing his ascent of the stairs to the Seers Department in order to walk alongside Siphokazi.
“Where did you get those clothes?” she asked.
“What, these?” Jack said. “These are my sneaking clothes.”
The shy wizard-lady tripped clumsily up the steps. Now that they thought about it she was quite unusual for a wizard. They weren’t even sure if she was one. Dojima had heard about the effects of studying at PSAM. The bitingly cold conditions mixed with the over-exposure to magix lead to what was known as getting ‘Wizzed’. One’s skin becomes a pale blue, every last hair vanishes, one’s face changes shape and all other bits shrivel off. However, this one before them still had the pink tinged skin of a southern Head Islander, not to mention, eyebrows! And, instead of being adorned in the usual wizard attire, her robes were tricolour-ed. Siphokazi realised she didn’t know the woman’s name. Without Felix here they hadn’t been introduced. Felix was consistent with his politeness and its absence was quite telling. However, Jack beat her to it.
“Hey!” he said.
The shy and strange not-quite-a-wizard lady almost fell off the stairway railing.
“What’s your name?” Jack asked simply.
“Oblbiblibl.” She mumbled.
“Ah, Oblibli.” Dojima said. “I knew an Oblibla once.”
“Nnananan.” She fumbled.
“Oblibli Nananana?” Siphokazi deduced.
“Ahhhwah.” She stammered.
“Wizards have weird names.” Jack said.
“Erderrpaderr.” she bumbled.
“Jack likes weird.” Jack grinned toothily. Her pink skin went a few shades redder.
Oblibli Nananana led them to the top of the tower. It was a long way up. Fortunately, the masters, unlike the author, had achieved their cardio goals. The stairway was adorned with paintings of previous headwizards framed with magnificent…frames. Honestly, they all looked the same: blue. This institution evidently took a toll on one’s individuality.
The top of the tower was a large circular room without a roof. In the centre was a sort of decrepit tree.
“P…p…pardon the intrusion!” Oblibli squeaked.
The tree didn’t seem to mind.
Oblibli looked skyward. High up above them was a black sphere. It floated there unattached to the tower. Even in the Gnome Archipelago, with its many weird and wonderful things, stuff that floated was pretty cool and sought after.
Brief Note: F.O.T. Chang sent dozens of messengers to the headwizard of PSAM asking for a wizard that could make things float. He figured it would be hatefully exquisite to float tauntingly above the gutter trash whom he hated so dearly. The headwizard encouraged the first year under-wizards to use the influx of ‘volunteers’ as test subjects for their Alteration magix practicals. Chang persisted, even after his most faithfully hated messenger was turned into a shoelace. So, the headwizard finally sent him Harold as a joke.
In the time it took to explicate that brief note our party had somehow made their way inside the black sphere. There was a
palantír spherical orb in the centre, an ancient looking-wizard with the countenance of one most ready to converse, some markings on the wall, a convex roo…
“Ah! Where are you looking! I’m evidently the focal point of this scene! Oh!” The ancient wizard rebuked the observer angrily. His speech was idiosyncratically punctuated with ‘Oh’s and ‘Ah’s that seemed to correlate with involuntary left and right eyebrow twitches respectively.
“This… this… ” Oblibli King’s Speech-ed.
“Jack is Jack. Who are you?” Jack asked.
“Who am I! Who am I!?” the ancient said. He then looked a bit confused. “Who am I?” he asked. He turned quickly to the sphere in the middle.
“Oh! Ah! Yes! I’m the Seer and this is my sphere.”
A bolt of lightning struck the sphere (the one they were floating in) dramatically.
“I’m rather unused to introspection. Ah. I’m so used to watching everyone else.”
“I b… b… brought…” Oblibli began.
“Yes! Yes! No need to explain I foresaw their arrival. Oh!” The Seer blinked his pale eyes. “Don’t take this the wrong way but I’ve been watching all of you, even from the very beginning of your journey.”
“No problem.” Jack said. “Jack has no shame.”
“I can also see through everything. Oh! Ah!” the Seer grinned at Siphokazi creepily.
A moment later the Seer lay steaming on the floor. Oblibli stood above him with a grimace on her face and a smoking fist. She turned back to them. Dojima glimpsed a flash of red in her eye but when he looked again they were as blue as they had always been. Oh, by the way her eyes were blue.
“I… I’m sorry about him. He doesn’t… see other people very often.”
“That’s a lie! I see people all the time.” the Seer pointed out.
“Meet. He doesn’t meet people very often. S… so, he’s a bit of a creeper”
“I figured that might be the case. But, it’s no good if we give the Seer a black eye.” Siphokazi said.
“No! No! That’s the point exactly.” the Seer said getting shakily to his feet. He spun around and pointed dramatically at Responsibility.
“Ah, but first, please get someone to look at that arm.” the Seer said with a tone of disgust.
“Wat bedoel hy? Wat makeer jou arm?” Reza asked.
Responsibility took a step back but Dojima was too fast. By the time Responsibilty had raised his/her arm in protest Dojima had already stripped it of its armour.
It was badly broken.
“Hoekom het jy niks gesê nie?” Reza asked with a mixture of concern and indignation.
“Trying not to worry us, I suspect.” Dojima said. “You’ll be a worry if this gets worse.”
“Uhm… I… I know some healing magix!” Oblibli stuttered.
“What are you waiting for!” Jack said leaning over her shoulder. Oblibli shrieked in surprise and then regained her composure.
She blinked and her, until recently, blue eyes went green. Her trembling lips went still and began to speak the incantation.
“Broken wing and opened vein
Rescind, I pray, your pain
Hasten your process
Return regular again”
Responsibility grunted in pain as his/her arm snapped and flailed around wildly, went still and then steamed.
“Wow, you’re really ripped.” Jack noted as Responsibility’s rippling muscles glistened impressively in the cloud of steam.
Responsibility took a deep breath. He/she nodded appreciatively at Oblibli who nodded back meaningfully. Dojima returned his/her armour which he/she reattached immediately.
“That one was free!” The Seer said. “And, only because I can’t stand the sight of a fractured humerus. I’ve had to look at that since the Jul shot you down.”
“Jul!” Reza gasped.
“Yes. Something to see, I tell you. It made my top 50 list. The poor moon didn’t see it coming. Ah! But, anyway. What do you have to offer this old man for his services? Oh!”
“You do understand that this is the Queen?” Siphokazi said. “As I understand it, she supports you considerably. I would have thought you would be most willing to oblige us.”
“Ha!” the Seer laughed. “Let me guess, the Nose told you that didn’t he?”
“Yes.” Siphokazi said.
“Ah! That scoundrel is a blot on the name of the Sensual Six. He probably said something like ‘they shall divine the location for you’. He always referred to my eyes in the plural because he knows I’m lonely! Oh, if only I had a friend.” the Seer lamented. The party looked at one another. They didn’t have anything to barter with. They’d already given Chuckles the Adamant that potion. Upon reminiscing about Chuckles the Adamant Jack reached into his pocket and found his autograph feather wasn’t there. The calmer, quieter, green-eyed Oblibli had to use a forgetful spell on him, although she might have missed the first time. I can’t remember. The Seer loudly lamented his loneliness. Just then Jack, freed from pesky memories, scratched his chin thoughtably.
“It could be fun.” Jack reasoned.
“Bakawk!” the bakawk protested.
“You’ll be able to see everything!” Jack persisted.
“Bakawk.” she replied.
“We’ll still visit you!”
The Bakawk gave him a severe look. Then she walked over to the Seer and hopped onto his head. She didn’t do it out of kindness. If they would be so willing to give her up she didn’t want to continue the journey with them. Harumph!
“I shall name you: Jagged Desire!” the Seer said. The bakawk blinked belligerently.
The Seer beckoned them and everyone gathered around the sphere.
“Does this aid in the ritual?” Heart asked.
“Gix’s Bark! Who are you?” the Seer exclaimed in surprise.
“I’m Heart, Sir!” Heart enunciated.
“They give minor characters names these days? Ah, but what are you to do in this liberal climate, ey? No, Fart. This does not aid in the ritual it just makes me feel less lonely to be surrounded by people.”
Jack and Dojima shared a look that expressed a range of shared doubts.
The Seer gazed into the sphere. It appeared to have its own depth, a deep black, a serious black (Siphokazi grinned) that drew you in. There was a flash of something. It couldn’t be called light it was more like an anti-light, oh right, there’s a word for that. A flash of shadow.
Siphokazi, who was standing in front of the Seer, noticed that the whites of his eyes had gone the same bottomless black colour of the sphere while his irises had transformed into weird horizontal white strips. The bakawk teetered on his head.
“Yes, I can see everything. So, who is it you seek?”
“We seek Valiant the Aforementioned!” They all said in unison, except for blue-eyed Oblibli who wasn’t sure if she should still be there.
“Dost thou really?” the Seer bellowed.
“We do!” they cried.
“He’s in Perpetuum’s Forest. Very near the middle. He looks to be hanging out with some birds.”
“The forest!” Jack said. “But, that’s insane!”
Anisha the Sickle-Wielder was relaxing at GrNash’s place after a hard day’s work. She sat in front of the cozy hearth with a hearty mug of Fenn Tea in her hand. As the lures of sleep tickled at her eyelids she felt a sudden feeling of triumph. She took a large gulp of her tea and exhaled a breath of pure satisfaction. Although, she didn’t quite know why.
Back in a sphere, around a sphere
“The middle of Perpetuum’s forest?” Dojima whispered in awe. “By Immolon’s contrails! How will we get there?”
“Worry about that later!” Jack said. “Where’s Felix?”
“Felix?” the Seer said.
“Felix the Master.” Jack said.
“Hmm.” the Seer appeared to be in the dark.
“He was once known as Felix the Furry.” Dojima said.
“Not ringing any bells I’m afraid.”
“He’s a black cat with ginger hind paws that make him look like he’s wearing shoes.” Siphokazi said.
“Oh! If I’m not mistaken you mean Trubbleclutsh. Ah ah ah. Oh, I remember him, oh. Ah. What a mischievous little charmer he was. He was offered a record deal with Skitty Kitty and her group if I’m not mistaken. I assume he had a fantastic singing voice, but you’d have to ask the Ear about that. But, from what I saw he was really something special. Oh! Yes. Dead. He’s very dead. For quite some time now.”