Chapter One: Beol Meets Bad Eye
There were many things which Beol considered his master and often thought about for a long while, but honest and keeping to his word was not one of them. It was not that Mori meant to go back on his word, or so Beol thought, but the magician simply forgot easily and otherwise lacked interest in things, including Beol. The next day came and passed, the same as the next week. It was not until almost a month after Mori had spoken to Beol about teaching him more advanced magic that the magician came to the Grulf with a large dusty tome. He slammed the tome down on the table where Beol had been sat studying the ancient Daesir who used runic shards like his.
“Beol!” Mori cried almost as though he had not seen the Grulf. Beol stared up lazily, the lack of excitement from expecting to learn something came from years of disappointment when such opportunities and expectations occurred. This time, however, it seemed morel likely. “I’m going out for a while. This is a tome of more advanced spells. Have a read through and familiarise yourself with some of them, find one which you think you would like to learn. We’ll start off with one, try and get you in the frame of mind for this type of magic. I won’t start off teaching you how to burn a city, but find something more advanced than tinderbox lighting.”
“Will you be gone long, master?” Ginv appeared from no where, holding Mori’s travelling cloak ready.
Mori either pretended or failed to hear the Brult, despite such a deep voice which drew the attention of spiders on the other side of the room.
“Beol, don’t go wandering. Focus on your studies.” Mori ordered.
And with that the magician left his apprentice, heading down the steps towards the door. Beol heard the magician slam the door of the tower shut, all the walls shaking for a brief second.
“I have food cooking.” Ginv told Beol.
Behind the Brult was another of Mori’s servants and one which Beol had grown quite fond of as well as familiar with, a Mohgani called Qo. He was short, grey-white furred and wore a black morning star on his side as well as a rather fitting cloth tunic and trousers. One thing Beol liked about the Mohgani was his surprisingly endless amount of unique capes. Today he wore a crimson cloak which fitted well with his outfit, but yesterday he had worn one which was grey in colour and tattered at the base. The Mohgani was less of a servant than a soldier for Mori, he was supposed to guard the tower, but his services had not yet been required so instead he assisted the servants, particularly Ginv who he had taken a liking to.
“Thank you, Ginv.” Beol said at last, forgetting himself. “I suppose it’s not much past dusk, ey?”
“Sunset just been.” Qo said. He struggled with the language of humans, but was learning well. His tutor was a being Beol rarely spoke with, a friend or creation of Mori’s who occupied the hall full of mirrors. Qo called him ‘White Face’, Ginv called him ‘Bad Eye’ but Beol had only seen the figure once in the night and had never spoken with him.
“I’d better get this done a bit quick.” Beol stared at the tome. It was almost as tall as he was and as wide too. He wondered how Mori had managed to pick it up. “Don’t think it’s going to be a quick skim, actually. Maybe I’d better eat first.”
“I’ll bring your food up.” Ginv said quickly, keen to be of some use.
“No, I’ll come eat downstairs with you.” Beol insisted. “Qo, you’re joining us, aren’t you?”
“Yes, let me bring White Face food.” Qo said.
“Bad Eye doesn’t eat.” Ginv said. “I sort him. Go, you have food below!”
The servants’ quarters were less pleasant than most of the rooms of the tower, but were not as worn as the entertaining room nor as cluttered as the library. Mori kept no servants devoted to cleaning, he liked his disorder and dispised people who moved things too much. There was one rule for the servants and Beol; ‘clean your own area or don’t, but don’t touch anything besides’ was Mori’s only rule. So far, Beol had only broken the rule three times, once when he restacked the books of the bookshelves in the library, once when he tried to repair one of the chairs in the room below, then once when he dusted cobwebs away in the cellar while looking for wine. Mori was very keen all the mess, even the wild creatures like spiders and flies seemed to please him. The two pets he kept were treated better than Beol; the black cat had the entire bookshelves to itself to sleep on, all warm and pleasantly placed in the view of the window where the sunlight often shone through, then the other creature, Tokan, was kept close by to Mori most all the time, save when he went on trips. Even now the strange creature was no where to be seen, Beol assumed the magician had taken it with him.
Ginv lay a set of plates down on a pine table, the top of the table marked with scratches, chips, and strange little holes as though someone had burnt into it. The entire chamber seemed like that, in fact there were no beds but more tables which Ginv and the other servants lay blankets on top of. He was the only servant who was constantly present in the tower, Qo only assumed his duties for four or three days a week, the others came and went almost as they pleased. Mori hardly seemed to notice the shifting servant patterns. Still, everyone seemed grateful that Ginv was always in the tower, everyone liked him for different reasons. Beol liked him because he was friendly and a good cook, plus he always welcomed strangers and seemed opening minded about everything. Qo liked the big lumbering beast, a two-foot tall Mohgani compared to the twelve foot Brult was quite a sight and the Mohgani liked climbing up his hairy back to see the world from his view. Mori, Beol supposed, liked having a servant who was loyal, although he also thought it was because Mori liked having someone less intelligent than himself, or even of very little intelligence, who could be ordered around and told things they did not know, even if they would forget it only a few moments later.
“Potato skins again, Ginv?” Qo asked.
The Brult lay his own plate thick with crispy potato skins doused in herbs. Qo was given a lamb stew, the lamb reared, slaughtered, butchered, and cooked by the same hands. It was among Qo’s favourite meals and he wasted no time in handing out the forks. Beol fetched some goblets and water for the companions, his own plate laid with a variety of vegetables and a large hunk of beef. The cattle were also farmed by Ginv out in the fields which bounded the tower, all part of Mori’s land.
Beol watched the companions who sat down for their meal. Ginv took a forkfull of potato skins and crunched into them so loudly Beol thought he ate the fork as well! Qo’s lamb fell apart on his fork, it truly looked delicious, so much so he had to leave the table to find a spoon. He looked at them all and wondered how any living humanoid could vary in size so much, even from different species. The Mohgani, who were often so shy, seemed nothing like either of the other two. His nostrils sat flat against his face like a serpent, but ears were hidden well below the thin layer of fur, and two wide yellow-green eyes stared out offering no warmth. The morning star at his side suited his size perfectly, but Beol had also seen him with a sickle which he used like a scythe, and a wooden shield at one point. The Brult dominated the table, his stocky build like an ox on legs. He greedily had the most on his plate, but finished it quickest and still complained of being hungry, going after the meal to cook some eggs. As for Qo, he failed to finish his meal, made for a human-sized portion.
Then there was Beol, the Grulf, three foot tall with a two foot long ponytail of reddish-brown hair and a beard tied decoratively with two fine plaited beads running down the length from beneath his mouth and many little metallic rings and bells hanging in it. It was a thick and heavy beard which suited him, hiding the face which for years he had cursed for being deformed. It was normal for a Grulf face, but he felt it ugly compared with the faces of Mori and his many friends and relations.
“How long Master Mori be gone?” Qo asked after their meal.
“Several days, no doubt.” Beol said. “I think he’s afraid something’s going to happen.”
“Like what?” Ginv asked.
“Nothing bad happen, my arm protect you!” Qo called clanging his mace against a metal stud on his trousers.
“He said something about a sorcerer around here.” Beol said. “I don’t know, he doesn’t seem himself to me.”
“Bad Eye will know.” Qo said.
“I don’t talk with Bad Eye, I dunno what he’s like.” Beol said.
“Imaging talking to yourself.” Ginv said. “Its a little like that. He’s not entirely there, if you know what I mean.”
Beol thought he did. The stories he had heard from the servants about Bad Eye the Mad and Bad Eye the Incomplete lead Beol to believe this creature was not entirely of sound mind, if at all. The more he considered it he decided the creature must have some sanity, being able to teach Qo to speak the human language.
“Suppose I’d better go see him then.” Beol said, staring down at his plate of meat grimly. He hesitated, the idea of visiting a madman was unpleasant for Beol. “Still, how would he know any more than us? He doesn’t even leave the castle!”
“He doesn’t need to.” Ginv said. “Go see him, he’ll tell you.”
Beol ate the meal quickly, Ginv seemed rushed for him to go and see Mad Eye. The servant did not wait to finish his own meal before washing Beol’s plate and cutlery. The Grulf sat back for a minute, smoking a pipe as he did after a meal while Qo and Ginv spoke about the gossip from Port Yealfalt. The most exciting piece of gossip was the upcoming Red Day, which boasted to be the most exciting in years. The Red Day was the celebration of the greatest battle which took place in the waters just beyond Port Yealfalt. It was a war concerning the Grulf and sea-faring Utrelm men, whose ancestors had betrayed Har and they themselves lived in hostility with the kingdom. The war was began by the Utrelm men, who waged war against all of Zhar in an attempt to gain some advantage over Har and as the greatest kingdom for soldiers, Zhar seemed an obvious choice. The Red Day was the day of the greatest battle, which took place beyond the port where over fifty thousand Utrelm ships came to attack a measly five thousand Grulf ships. The battle would have been long and bloody, slaughtering the entire population of the port if not taking Zhar itself, until a magician, called Torris, invented a ward which was cast by all the greatest of Zhar’s magicians around the port.
On the day of the battle, all the Utrelm ships set sail for the port, but no Grulf ships came out to meet them. The Utrelms thought they were offering a surrender, so set forward as close as they could. But when the ships hit the ward, all the front was caught in an unstoppable blaze, then it spread from ship to ship, even those which did not touch the ward were burnt away by jumping flames. Not all the ships burnt, the soldiers still had to fight, but when the ward had ended only three thousand Utrelm ships remained to the five thousand Grulf, and the soldiers on land. It was still a long battle, but one which was best remembered as their greatest victory. The day was given a name Red Day and was celebrated annually as a holiday and a festival in Port Yealfalt. There were two offered concepts as to why the day was called the Red Day, most of the peoples said it was to commemorate the flames which burnt a deeper, more burgundy red than usual, though some people say that the day was named for all the blood in the water when the sharks claimed those who tried to swim away. Either one Beol disliked.
That evening as the moon was just beginning to rise over the horizon, an icy stare spreading across the land, Beol came to the room full of mirrors and stood hesitant outside the door. Ginv was busy downstairs clearing away the servants’ quarters; whenever Mori left the castle Ginv liked to clean as much as he could so the wizard may only scold him once rather than every time he was caught. Qo had retired for the night, and another of Mori’s servants, a Grulf who brewed ale in his spare time, was busy with something in the cellars. Standing before the wooden door Beol felt stuck; the pull of his curiosity was far too great not to look inside at least, and to hear what Bad Eye knew about the sorcerer, but the fear of what he may find was greater still.
At last he plucked up his courage, straightened himself and gave a quick huff of determination. ‘Its a room full of mirrors and Qo’s teacher, how bad can it be?’ he asked himself, lifting the lantern he held in his left hand.
The room was pitch black and the door creaked unpleasantly as he pushed it to. There was no need nor way to knock, the latch on the door had been broken long ago. Beol came forwards, the room was cold and unwelcoming, but he found a few dusty braziers at the sides of it and lit them with the only spell he knew for fire. The first few braziers lit easily enough, revealing dark reddish-brown walls as though they had been revealed to an abnormally large amount of smoke, which Beol could understand from the braziers so close to the walls. Then the forth brazier refused to light! Beol held out the runic shard and as per usual a small shot of flame struck the oily brazier, but there was a light fizz and hiss then the flame died.
“Come on! Light damn you!” he hissed at the hissing wood.
It flickered for another moment, then died. Beol could feel a slight breeze nearby to the brazier, but nothing strong enough to extinguish the flame. He cursed it, trying again and again but the wood refused to catch.
“Bloody thing! Be that way, I’ll find another.” Beol said, giving it a slight kick.
The next brazier along the wall ignited almost instantly, then the next. Soon he had most of them ignited, a few which he left as the room seemed bright enough, some were placed directly under stained and blackened windows, ash and soot seemed to have piled up for several years against the glass! Beol took a rag from his side, he always kept a piece hanging from his belt for ready use, and wiped the windows until the moonlight shone in.
At last there was enough light in the room to see. In total Beol counted almost eighteen mirrors in the room, excluding the broken ones which were even more. Some of those which he thought of as broken were simply cracked across their length, others were shattered into thousands of pieces and some were scattered across the floor.
There was no person inside of the room, however, not even any traces or signs that anyone had been in here, besides of Qo and Ginv’s footprints which were trodden through thick layers of ash and dust on the floor, as well as Beol’s own. There was nothing to indicate that Bad Eye was here.
“Huh, I suppose he must’ve left while we were eating.” Beol thought.
He walked up to the nearest mirror. They were all different in many ways, some were round and others were square, but most of them were stood upright in the middle of the room, some on their own suited stands, others made on rough stands built by Mori or Ginv. They were all dusty too, save one on the farthest wall, where all the footprints of Qo and Ginv lead. That one was dusted, and frequently it seemed. It lay in a golden frame, around the edges the glass was decorated into some form of pattern, but the centre was plain.
“Why do they stop here?” Beol asked.
“Why do you ask so many questions?” a voice replied. Beol stared up, the voice came from the mirror! In the image he could see himself, then behind him appeared a figure. “Its very irritating, you know, and I’m already in a bad mood so please just go away or be quiet!”
Beol spun around expecting to see the figure behind him, but there was nothing there save the mirrors and the door which stood ajar. In the reflection of the golden mirror Beol could see the figure, and his reflection spread to all the mirrors in the room too.
“Who are you?” Beol asked.
“Took you long enough to come here! Four years you’ve been that cruel wizard’s apprentice yet you’ve only been in here once, and thought I wasn’t even worth talking to!” the reflection of the figure sounded very insulted and horrified. He half-screamed and half-whispered in his voice, as though he were trying to sound angry when his voice was lost.
The figure was unlike anything Beol had seen on Illé Nirl; it looked more like to a floating wisp of spirit, but it had a white face which Beol could not begin to describe, for it seemed formless. There was a greyish-black mass which moved as its mouth and two which seemed to make eyes.
“The little fellow calls me White Face, he’s kind but strong. I don’t like him much. The big one calls me Bad Eye, so do his friends, but he is an easy opponent to manipulate and loyal, he may be of use to me. I like him. Mori calls me by my name, but he is my captor! A pox on Mori and all of his kind! You are a magician too, you are like to him!” Bad Eye said.
“What is your name then?” Beol asked.
“You shall learn it in time. For now you will call me spirit.” Bad Eye said.
“How about if I smash that mirror, you tell me your name then?” Beol asked.
“I have all these other mirrors to dominate, you destroy one and I shall go to another. Watch.” Bad Eye said. He vanished from Beol’s sight, then something called behind him. The Grulf spun around to see Bad Eye hidden behind a layer of dust on one of the round mirrors. He stayed there for a moment, then disappeared and returned to the golden mirror.
“What happens if they all break?” Beol asked.
“Then I’d be free, I guess, or die.” Bad Eye said. “I haven’t tried it to find out, not that I can anyway. Tell you what, why don’t you ask Mori? He seems pretty good with that sort of thing.”
“Qo and Ginv seemed to think you know a lot.” Beol said.
“Sure I do, but a lot ain’t everything!” Bad Eye said. “I know you’ve waited four years to come and see me, even to wonder who I am! You always knew I was here, that’s what irks me. At least the lumbering beast has some manners, he visits once in a while. You know how lonely it gets up here, and how boring it is not being able to move out of a mirror?”
“I’m sorry.” Beol said. “I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“You’re not sorry! You’re sorry that I mentioned it, but you’re not sorry you haven’t been. I terrify you, don’t I?” Bad Eye asked.
“Well, yes really.” Beol said.
A sort of smile appeared on the mouth of Bad Eye. “Hehe, I love it when I scare them. Mori was afraid too, to tell the truth. He had no idea what he’d caught, just thought I was another sprite.”
“Caught?” Beol asked.
“Cmon kid, add two and two! What, did you think I was born here?” Bad Eye asked.
“No, I just…” Beol began.
“Didn’t think, basically? Trouble with you and your kind, you don’t think, or at least don’t think about anything besides yourself! I hate Grulf, I hate greedy selfish Grulf who don’t think about me for a change!” Bad Eye hissed.
“And you’re not selfish? All you’ve gone on about while I’ve been here is yourself, how everyone should be bending backwards for you!” Beol hissed back.
“I’m allowed to be! I’m an evil spirit, it’s my job to be selfish and rude.” Bad Eye said. “Well, not really evil, just untrustworthy. You never know whose secrets I’ll share.”
“You say your a spirit? What kind of spirit?” Beol asked.
“Err, there are many kinds of spirit, O ugly one. I happen to be a shadow spirit, which makes me sound more evil than I am.” Bad Eye said. “Them calling me Bad Eye doesn’t help, but I like it, it’s quite a cool name I think.”
“A shadow spirit? What can they do?” Beol asked.
“Mori’s right, you are full of questions!” Bad Eye said irritibly.
“I’m allowed to be, I’m an apprentice.” Beol tried to sound clever.
The spirit laughed, his voice something terrible which shook the room.
“Yeah, don’t do that kid.” Bad Eye said. “Well shadow spirits can haunt peoples minds really in different ways. I like to make myself look like other things beside myself. Before Mori imprisoned me I could move forward and back in time too, it’s why I’ve learnt to speak like this. They speak like this in the future, y’know?”
“Speak like what?” Beol asked.
“I dunno, words like that and yeah. You heard anyone say yeah before?” Bad Eye asked.
Beol certainly had thought the spirits language was strange. Yeah, kid, cool, these were all words which were either foreign or else incorrectly placed in sentences for him. He could understand that this ‘yeah’ sounded remarkably close to ‘yes’ and supposed it was some shortened version. Kid was an entirely foreign word to him, he supposed it meant something alone the lines of person. Then cool was a means of saying between hot and cold, the use of that word in that sentence seemed completely improper.
“And of course spirits have much more powerful magic than humans. Why I hate Mori, he stole loads of my power from me!” Bad Eye hissed.
“Stole power?” Beol asked.
“Yeah, that’s what I said, cotton ears! He took some of my time power and shapeshifting! I can still assume some forms, but nothing like before. Curse him, that bloody wizard.” Bad Eye said.
“Can you tell me why he captured you?” Beol asked.
The spirit looked faintly annoyed, but also a touch happier to have some company and someone to talk to. He pointed a chair out to Beol who pulled over a rather uncomfortable wooden armchair from the corner.
“It began ten years ago…” Bad Eye began.