Day 27: Ancient Spells Are Tricky

Jockren understood that a twelve hundred year old spell can have unexpected results, but something should happen. Testing and studying magical formulas was not his forte, he liked building things, but Elder Flott insisted he figure it out because the master elder of Shantiran, Elder Kromp, wanted them all documented for the upcoming conference.

The spell seemed easy enough. It evoked the power of the Office of the Vine’s Manifestations—Flott’s office—to diffuse a number of materials within its space. Jockren had checked the translation from Old Elamite several times, and verified it with the residence’s foremost expert, Elder Sloat.

Through the sacred bond in Shantiran
To the Seat of Manifestations
Let the Vine yield the substance
Of essential emanations

At that point the spell book gave several options, including the classic materials that resembled metal or stone. There were gaseous fumes, both foul and sweet, water and the Vine’s treacle, as they called it.

The form of the spell clearly intended Shantiran and the Seat of Manifestations as immutable references, so he’d made sure to situate himself in the sacred Office, parking himself in Elder Flott’s chair, and then concentrated intensely on the place, reaching for the Vine’s power through the bond the spell denoted.

Everything else was mutable, including different ways the substances materialized.

He’d tried to evoke the spell for small things, like a sliver of vinegold or moonfoil, and he’d tried a few fumes, but smelled nothing. None of them worked.

He varied his emphasis and expectations, altering every meaning in his mind with each attempt. For ‘shining’ he visualized a uniform sheen at one time and coruscating light at another. For ‘odorous’ fumes he imagined different levels of intensity, sometimes pleasant, sometimes horrific. Still nothing.

Elder Gesard, another of Flott’s subordinates, passed by in the hall. Jockren called him in and explained his difficulties.

“Well,” said Gesard. “It’s an ancient spell. Perhaps the bond to the Vine has weakened over time making the effects so slight that you can’t see them. Try something huge and perhaps it will make enough of an effect to be observable.”

“That’s good thinking,” said Jockren. They decided to go with water in case the effect was large, so at least it would wash away. They visualized the water swirling around the the entire room, carrying Flott’s boots that were tucked in the corner. When nothing happened they tried again with treacle, imagining it oozing down the walls and dripping from the ceiling.

“It was still a good idea,” said Jockren.

“Perhaps these substances are intended to be code for something else,” said Gesard. “Have you checked—” He stopped and called out the door. “Hey, Tapper!” Elder Tapper came in with his usual wary expression, as if he was in constant fear of getting in trouble. Gesard explained what they were doing and showed him the text.

“Are you sure you have the right place?” Tapper asked.

“Of course,” said Jockren. “It’s immutable.”

Tapper reread the old text and the translation. “Okay, we can be sure it’s in Shantiran, and the authority of the office it references is immutable, but the names of these offices have changed many times throughout history.”

“But this is the only Office of the Vine’s Manifestations I’ve ever heard of,” said Gesard.

“Let’s check the library,” said Tapper.

They spent a few hours looking up the enclosure’s histories. Jockren found a chronicle of his Office and scanned over the entries. “Rot my eyes,” he said. “You were right. Our office was renamed the Office of the Vine’s Manifestations a hundred and fifty years ago. Before that it was called….” He scanned up the page. “The Office of the Congregational Witness to Known Tendrils.”

“There you go,” said Tapper.

“Oh, hell,” said Gesard. “That means we’ve been conjuring up a terrible mess of things in some other office.”

“But which one?” asked Jockren.

“I’ve got it,” said Tapper. He plopped a record of posts on top of the chronicle. “There was a Seat of Manifestations held by an Elder Musiant at the time the spell was created.” He scanned the record and turned a few pages. “Today that office is called… here it is—the Office of Phenomena Verification.”

Jockren’s face turned white. “Oh, no.”

“Oh, hell,” said Gisard. “That’s Kromp’s office.”

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