The story so far: In order to train Tollon, Court Magician Sarton has set him the task of performing a major evocation . . . to clean Sarton’s workshop! Now read on . . .
A major evocation involves ceremony. You need to invite the spirit to join you, offer it a gift, and then tell it what to do. In the process, you must not tire, make stupid mistakes, let the spirit intimidate you, or drive a poor bargain.
Major evocations can change the fortunes of entire kingdoms. I’m using this one to scrub the workshop floors. Sarton explains, “If you fail, the worst that can happen is that the spirit forces you to cleanse the floors with your tongue. I think that’s an acceptable risk.” He says this with a straight face. I can’t tell if he’s joking or not.
So I’m standing in the center of the ceremonial room, clad in a robe, inside a circle sanctified by blessed waters that has been drawn on the floor. I have my offering, a hare, in my left hand, the knife to kill it in my right, and the text of the invocation in my head. Sarton and Mia stand behind me in their own circles. They are just watching. So if I end up licking the floor, I’ll have an audience. Great.
“I, Tollon of Velgard, apprentice magician, do hereby call, summon, and evoke the spirit GRUDNOSTUE.” I visualize Grudnostue in my head as a short, fat lady with olive skin and brown eyes, wearing an apron, and nothing else. She carries a broom. She is reportedly ill-humored and is rarely called upon by magicians. Just my luck.
“I, Tollon of Velgard, apprentice magician, do hereby call, summon, and evoke the spirit GRUDNOSTUE.” Some spirits, like Tavartet, will respond the first time you call them. Others are less cooperative.
Grudnostue appears, but not in her usual form. Oh, she’s still short and wears an apron. But she’s also wearing high heels, and looks exactly like Paviara.
Spirits will do this to you sometimes. They want to cause you to have an emotional reaction, so you lose control and they can compel you, instead of the other way around.
I know this is not Paviara. It doesn’t matter. I’m in love with her, and she’s standing right before me, ready and willing. I look at what I have to give her. A hare. And a knife. These aren’t good enough for Paviara.
It’s the knife that brings me back to reality. Why would I give Paviara a knife? I wouldn’t. And then I remember Grudnostue. I give her a false smile. “Nice try,” I tell her. And then go on with the ritual. “Grudnostue, I will offer you sacrifice of this hare if you will do my bidding. Do you accept?”
Grusnostue takes my recovery in stride, and changes into her more usual appearance. I almost wish she hadn’t. Grudnostue-as-Paviara was sexy. Grusnostue-as-Grudnostue is not. She nods. “I accept the sacrifice.” And when I make no move to actually carry it out, she adds, “And will perform as I was requested.”
I hold the hare by its ears directly in front of me and cut its throat in one stroke. The blood sprays onto Grudnostue. I announce, “In taking this sacrifice, Grudnostue, you bind yourself to wash and clean the floors throughout Sarton’s workshop, not to depart until this had been completed to my satisfaction.”
One great thing about magic: it can be quick. Grudnostue drains the hare of its blood in just a few seconds, disappears, and then reappears moments later. She announces, “Saving for the circles in which you and your fellow celebrants stand, all the floors in the workshop have been cleansed. This I pledge.”
I look at the floor outside my circle. It does indeed look clean. In fact, it shines. I nod at Grudnostue. “Having completed the task, as stated by you as your bond, I dismiss you, Grudnostue.”
Grudnostue vanishes. I let go of the dead hare and the knife, which clatter to the floor. And I follow them, dropping down onto my hands and knees, shaking violently. I’ve been petrified with fear this whole time, but only now can I show any sign of it. My body’s reaction almost overwhelms me.
Mia is beside me, rubbing my back, saying soothing words to me I can’t quite make out. And I hear Sarton talking to her from behind me. “He did well. Most magicians pee themselves the first time they do a major evocation.”
(To be continued . . .)