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The Water Witch

By Ron Foster All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy


An orphaned sea witch named Lorelei and her seagull familiar have grown up living far inland at a magic reclaimer mage's castle never having seen the beach or ocean. Gavin the apprentice sorcery recycler and supernatural estate liquidator takes over their master's trading wagon caravan after his mysterious death and sets out on a journey of discovery. A Hydromancer may work with any liquid and a chance encounter with a Squonk and its tears creates unusual magical possibilities for a water witch.! The Magic is in how you make it!

Chapter 1: Who Lives At Number 7 Ipswich Way?

Lorelei had been taken on by the caravan as part servant/part apprentice by the old hedge wizard when she was very young. A displaced orphan of the great coastal wars and the magical plagues that followed had left her alone in the world. Her mother Anneen had once been a respected and powerful Sea Witch who had died on Admiral Clausis’s flagship while fighting a futile last ditch final battle to try to hold back the invading hordes so that both humans and fey could try to escape what had become known as the “Withering”.

A malevolent invading force on the march and a people who were so evil that even nature magic couldn’t reclaim the wasted lands where their King Voxnar’s ships landed to plunder and steal even the soul of the lands they occupied.

The invaders were Goblin like in appearance and demeanor with many the size of Barrow Orcs. King Voxnar marched his armies relentlessly towards the mountains with dark Warlocks and wizards in the frontlines wielding the black arts of necromancer sorcery blighting and poisoning the land.

The Withering had come as a relentless blood thirsty conqueror from the far south it was said and with them came new plaques and pestilences that the citizens of the five kingdoms were not prepared for. Humans and magical beings alike were sorely ill equipped both in sickened spirit and body to physically ward off the new illnesses they encountered and the thinned ranks of the various kingdoms armies and navies were too weak to defend what once they called home and civilization.

Those refugees that could somehow find a way to avoid disease or violent death eventually managed to flee in a mass of panicked humanity and magical fey creature alike carrying only a few hastily gathered possessions.

They migrated in mindless miserable disorder it seemed, unaware and unprepared towards the distant safety of the . The allied native aquatic supernatural beings of all sorts fled to northerly windswept tundra beaches above the snowline as the Orcas and Narwhales fought a rearguard action with the pursuing Withering Navy.

Too late for most, the peoples of the once mighty lands had found out that the only thing that could defeat the Withering and keep them from advancing further were the seasonal onsets of the bone biting winter cold and the blanketing fall of a blizzards cleansing snow.

The ice capped mountains became the destitute traveler’s magical refuge as well as a great impassable physical barrier to the Withering and its malignant death spells but new wars broke out with local hostile warlords, trolls and other night lurking creatures who had previously claimed the high mountains and valleys for their ancestral homes. Even more chaos and discord erupted as new swarms of refugees fought on to survive and carve out new homes.

had never been much into the arcane arts of wizardry you might say, he was more of an Alchemist in mind and practices would be closer to the fact, although that wasn’t quite right either. He was a self described Flectomancer or what folks called a “Tinker Mage.” This particular magical discipline involves the manipulation of artifacts and machines created by both human hands and conjured in magical forges.

’s kind was also known as “Steel Mages” because of their usefulness at the hearth in reforming metals from damaged or cast off amulets. They also applied their knowledge and magical capabilities to beating the cursed swords of enemies into more useful magical apparatus that retained some of their enchanted selves or properties.

Flectomancers are indeed good tinkers in the sense that they will fiddle with something mechanical by adding bits of this and that to it and then puzzle over it until they create artifacts that do just about anything.

Mostly, this art involves a lot of scrounging, digging around in forgotten places and trading on the road all the while trying to build a rather complex machine artifact and using mage magic to make it function.

Some Flectomancers have wealthy benefactors like Kings and nobility that will sponsor and pay for their research, while others have side jobs to raise money by providing some other form of magic services to finance their day to day existence and incessant need for animal, vegetable, mineral and steel parts of oftentimes very odd and rare properties for their experiments.

They can create a wide variety of things with their unique skills, anything from sun reflectors for ship defense to small mechanical animals for entertainment or specific tasks.

If given enough of their artifacts and proper materials, Flectomancers can indeed be a force to be reckoned with as the sky and their imagination is the limit to invent new magical machines or access forgotten sorcery. Mages like who have a specialized knack in enchanting mechanical/clockwork constructions to make them function can create clockwork/mechanical items that literally function against the human world’s concept of physics!

This fact is because the fuel or power source is usually the magic of the mage himself. There is a problem with this however, clockwork/mechanical items require a kind of passive “power” from the Flectomancer to function: this means that any Clockwork items created by this form of wizardry will not work unless in the presence of the Flectomancer or if he leaves a “piece” of himself behind. This will drain a portion of his magical capabilities permanently and it is a feat that is rarely undertaken

A Flectomancer career study can follow many paths and he or she can pursue building a vast variety of different devices based on his or her interests or wealth. However, most mages do it just to find out if they can make something new and useful that they can somehow show a profit from.

Clockwork pets are a unique example of Flectomancy feats of unusual inspired magic. These require enchanting the item with a kind of primal based autonomy much like Necromancers must impart to manipulate the undead. However, there is a problem with such a fanciful device. The clockwork pet still requires some “power” from the Flectomancer to function, as with all clockwork items they create.

This means the Flectomancer can’t make these pet-like items for other people as gifts or a guard dog to leave at home. They won’t work without the mages presence or by draining irreplaceable bits of his power stored in a battery like device.

That’s partially why wasn’t considered a particularly powerful wizard in any way. The truth be told, it was his own fault he had squandered a lot of his powers in his youth powering things he shouldn’t have with bits of himself sealed in self-made batteries for human or witch amusement running his devices. See, when you’re young and a Flectomancer, the desire to test your limits of using technology causes lots of foolish financial decisions with the pocketbook or in his case his magical soul.

wasn’t entirely to blame for his less than brilliant wizard astral light or fuel for magical Thaumaturgy. He had a couple rather unscrupulous past sponsors misuse his young enthusiasm for invention and empty pockets for their own selfishness to profit from. His own bad judgments and their devious manipulations coaxing him to do ever more had drained his powers substantially but wasn’t bitter about this. He had learned a lot about creating autonomous devices and the harnessing of powers, more so than any other wizard of his ilk.

He mostly made his living these days as a “Reclaimer”. This was someone recycled magical implements. Once a year he gathered his caravan wagons and set off on an arduous and dangerous tour of the boulder filled snaky mountain roads seeking out relics and materials to work on in his shop during the long winter to sell for a few pittances here and there on his next spring trading trip.

Occasionally, his traveling band of ne’er do wells would luck up on a wizards or witches estate sale, salvage job or a town reclamation project and then for a bit the money flowed well. When a magical entity died, they left both the objects they handled in life as well as their premises charged with magical traces of power. That didn’t even take into account the items they made while living and practicing the arts that were permanently infused with power like magical daggers, scrying bowls and mirrors, inscribed chalices and talismans, etc.

When it became known that a magical being had died an alarm of sorts went out across the ley lines of the land by announcing its absence. A loss of power you might say. The nearest magical caste system related to that form of magic or entity would then assemble and see about the disposition of the deceased’s arcane tools of the art, lands creatures, servants, pets, etc.

When the world was whole, as the survivors called the pastimes before the Withering drove them from their homes, there was always plenty of supernatural family or magical experts to handle the dead’s belongings and final absolutions. There were also great Wizard and Sorceress governing schools and political offices to sort out the legal and practical matters of great mages and wizard’s books of banned or unbanned lore. The passing of a great witch or any powerful Fey (those of the magical cryptids or supernatural kind) was just a passage in life and a Reclaimer in the role of an Estate handler insured that a great curse or conundrum was not left behind to haunt the living.

Many a desolate witches’ cottage deep in the woods or single wizard’s tower precariously clinging to a rocky crag dotted the landscape of Stromboli’s yearly travels. He and his crew of assistants usually started out the trail in early March living hand to mouth due to their poverty until a trade was made or an estate liquidation contract came around and supplies could be paid for and replaced.

That Stromboli’s traveling reclamation and repair service had gone through what supplies they had brought home with them from the last trading season to last them the whole winter was well known by the first homes they visited. These witches and wizards who had decided to live away from others of any kind, had their own agendas and personalities for doing so, but they were also particularly apt to being stingy with what little bit of funds they had. Some places Stromboli wouldn’t even stop at or go by anymore from fear of magical retribution for trespassing on their property or old arguments over bad trades they had forced on him colored the atmosphere of congenial relations even if they popped up at a crossroad with a request to trade.

These were the type of people who also regretfully became the majority of his clients in death when a town’s Burgermeister would send a runner to inform Stromboli they needed his services to close out an estate. Those landed nobles with money that still retained hearth witches in the kitchens would be the first to hear a bit of magic had died up the road and would want to help dispose of the problem for profit or to acquire some other healthy benefit.

Not having a standing magical counsel for villagers to go to handle such problems in most Burgs, they were stuck with whatever magical entity they had around to deal with what was referred to as the “Presence” that was now dead but not gone in the real sense of the word.

Everyone knows that when an animal or plants cells die they start to emit an odor and stink. When something magical dies, it does the same thing but it also releases magic…

Most non magically minded folks don’t think about this and if they do a lot of times they get it wrong and blame all bad luck they have in their lives to a mystical presence that probably didn’t have anything to do with the mishap in the first place but such is how people come to regard living and dead witches and wizards.

When any kind of wizard or witch dies you can bet there more than a few unfinished experiments going on that can get out of control if not contained or controlled possibly. If say, a wizard dies in a stone castle somewhere that has been magically sealed for his protection to the best of his abilities then you must first find out what protection wards were disabled and died with him and which did not in order to gain entrance.

You also would kind of like to know what he or she most likely would be magically playing or experimenting with, but this was often unknown unless the wizard has a particular notoriety or public reputation. Thaumaturgy, like Stromboli practiced, kind of takes into account all magic and attempts to bend it to a general will, but like all things generalized, a specific higher form of magic can overtake and control it.

Enter Stromboli’s Reclamation Service because nobody wanted to try breaking in a curse protected door only to find that the tower contained essence of dead rotting wizard which had some kind of bizarre and dangerous effect on whatever it was they were growing in their experimental labs.

Some of the little towns and a few of the bigger Bergs had made the mistake of trying to help themselves and physically destroy the home of dead wizards or witches to their great dismay by fire or dismantling. Huge mistake, particularly when a young prince had burned a pyromancer (fire) witch’s house that only made even more fuel for the fire that broke out of control and consumed the countryside. Or take for instance when a Lady Magistrate had once decreed an earth wizards home condemned and had it torn down only to find it reproduced itself threefold in depth and dimension by self repairing overnight by magically drawing building materials off of the houses and buildings of the town!

Those with magical wisdom knew to leave things well enough alone that they didn’t understand and they would charge townships yearly fees to put up so called magical barriers they could barely understand between themselves and the unknown powers threatening the general population, but this was costly as well as not necessarily effective.

For a magical artifact scrounger, the idea of being a Reclaimer was exciting but usually short lived work. Hedge wizards like Stromboli who toyed with such a dangerous profession usually tended to hire what might be considered expendable humans and employed lesser magical creatures for the dangerous sometimes suicidal work of breaking wards and recovering bodies and magical implements from an estate.

Humans were said to be grounded and immune these days against many booby trapped spells left for the Fey to be caught by. A human without recognition of magic could handle charged objects without harm where as a person or creature of magical lineage would be drawn into feeding or focusing unknown powers or energies generally for the worse and their undoing.

Gavin was Stromboli’s boy for that particular burglars or recyclers function after he had first carefully sent one of his robotic like devices to knock on a door or try a lock. Since Stromboli himself had mastered the art of both mechanical as well as physical shop made steel or brass locks, his “Door Knockers” as he liked to call his various mechanical magic powered crawlers were widely acclaimed as state of the art for the jobs he undertook no matter how many times they got killed on first try and were reduced to smoking and melting metal that might take more than a year for him to reproduce.

Since Gavin had no magical blood of his own to produce power or cast spells with, his training was different from any other sorcerers or wizards apprentice in that he could not create magic himself in the practical sense, only reproduce it by using other peoples magically charged objects. He learned like a child learned in infancy to use wooden blocks to form words. Just forming the words with all their ancient symbols or spelling of words was magic enough for him and something that took great difficulty on his part to study and attempt to understand, but finally one day it hit him. Once you understood the symbols for something in different configurations, it could be put inside those little wooden blocks! A symbol for iron or water could be matched to its proper order and contained with others of like. Once he got used to “like = like” he learned what doesn’t ever go together with “like” and so on. A smattering of Alchemy was thrown in his education to deal with what chemicals in the physical world can transmute in the magical world and he was ready for what Stromboli said was his great beginning.

Although mastering such symbolism and combinations was indeed itself a great art, a magical one of sorts at that, he wasn’t expected to be a mindless drone just repeating a well-learned repetition of actions. He was human and therefore he was allowed to use his imagination to stretch the realms of possibility and create his own boxes of “mixtures without personal magic” inventions that were only dependant on their association and latent powers to create an effect.

A final lightning bolt left in a wand could be repackaged by Gavin and made into a sailors lifeboat flare, etc. A water component combined with a knot of wind could be combined to make a fire extinguisher. A werewolf charm could be converted to keep dogs out of the garden, etc. That was the wisdom Stromboli had tried to instill in his recalcitrant brain and Gavin tried to come up with new original uses for discarded magic to sell to human villagers and fey alike.

When his boss and grumpy old teacher wasn’t taking a half hearted swipe at him in anger or caution to stay away from something dangerous with his hickory walking stick before he found himself really screwing something up, he was busy telling him what he expected him to master other than just identifying magical properties in found and salvaged goods.

“Pay attention now!” The old conjuror would coax from what he considered a safe distance away from any danger as he instructed Gavin to begin disarming a magical implement.

“Let me teach you something, BOY!” still echoed in his ears from many a scolding or complicated teaching of a lesson for the past eight years that all boiled down to one notion or another Gavin seemed to have a hard time learning a new version of everyday.

“With a bit of visionary insight,” Stromboli told him, “I think you will find that the world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. Do you understand me, boy? Your wits are your magic! Not how you combine the magic of others but the whole thing of finding it and making it work to your will, oh witless one! Try to sharpen your wits for me and remember things, ok?” Stromboli would fuss while soothing his magically burned fingers from a demonstrator booby trap or restoring his hearing after an unexpected explosion caused by his lack of attention to detail on a real job.

Stromboli fussed at him and insulted him a lot, but it was the century’s old wizard way expressing things and his impatience with what he said was health and beauty being wasted on the young or some such gripe like that for the day. He seemed to enjoy his company and their conversations though almost as much as he seemed to like ragging on the boy to learn his lessons well.

“Now look here my young friend. Ask yourself this question: are your insights providing fresh, original ideas--or are they just passing along established information? Not all insights are created equal, you know! You got to learn how to break down those Four Insight sights that I have been trying so hard to stuff into that noggin of yours and come up with something that is useful and personally unique to you.” Stromboli would say dusting him off and looking him over for any damage before he trusted him to actually perform the jobs that he was practicing to do without Stromboli’s undying supervision to keep him safe.

Of course, a minute of supervising anything more than once was too much for Stromboli and his way of handling Gavin’s magical mistakes was generally to hang another charm off the growing necklace the boy wore to stave off the ill effects of dark magic and otherwise that he wore. Bits of bone, feathers, animal teeth, crystals, plaques of various shaped metal lozenges inscribed with twisted letters and stoppered bottles filled with Lord knows what, hung on multiple necklaces Gavin considered his “Bomb Suit” for approaching suspicious and possibly dangerous things before he dove in to disarming or repurposing a magical implement.

He still wasn’t over the ill effects of having his feet grow tree roots and growing a tail of thorns from not waiting long enough to try to get into a forest witches house!

Generally speaking, when villagers were allowed the honor or insisted in a contract to watch him and Stromboli trying to make entry into a building, he appeared quite fearless when creeping up to try a door knob or window for access to some deceased person or Fey creatures home.

They generally had no idea the automatons’ had already basically mine swept the area and disarmed the door wards before Stromboli had declared to him that it should now be safe for him to approach. Of course, there was that one time when all his various charms had started going off like popcorn popping when he checked one old warlock’s door and he had run for cover not long ago along with the spectators but that risk went with the job. The news of that day also helped to deter any would-be future observers trying to include in the contract watching what they might not know could be accidentally released in a magical accident.

He and Stromboli had extra help, of course, but it was more rear echelon assistance than actual tangible stand in front of it help when it came to ward breaking. They had the two irascible and irreplaceable gnomes who were like salt and pepper in their differences that assisted them and called advice to them from the safety of their wagon.

The gnomes are a quirky race, generally obsessed with gadgets and technology when they are not busy with earth magic and making gnome warrens.

Now one thing, that lots of folks don’t know about, is that gnomes come in various flavors and specialties according to local race, interests, skills, etc. Most people think of common garden gnomes when referring to this quasi-fey society and that’s not correct. Now all gnomes do have some common traits and attributes one might say, but actually they all have a long and dignified class system that to the uninitiated is quite confusing.

What folks call garden gnomes generally hang out on the fringes of mans agricultural works and they do so for many reasons none of which include any obligation to help humans who they consider a primitive backwards species of sorts to study.

Now gnome academic observations of humans include making sure the animals on the farm are not mistreated in any way or the unwary farmer will pay for his indiscretions but some gnomes actually study how humans use a thing called science against weather magic. Though rarely seen by human eyes, the gnome researcher’s benefit from milk, honey and butter being left out on the back porch by the superstitious humans in hopes the mythical gnomes will do something for them in return.

Poor humans, they never realize it’s the essence of the act and the good feelings that create the magic needed to assist and not a reward system like they think.

The Gnomes regard the statuary made of clay, ceramic and poured stone that allegedly depicts them to be akin to for rent advertising signs to a gnome needing a home. Evidently, no matter how crude or whimsical these false little garden creatures statues are to genuine gnomes, all it means to them is the owners have extended an open invitation and permission to gnomify the lands and foliage in the area, in their opinion!

Not all gardens with statuary get chosen, though, and most gnome homes have none of it in sight. However, if a vacancy sign is put up in a crude depiction of them, you can be assured eventually it will be discovered and a meeting will be held to decide if a society of gnomes should move in.

While many gnomes tend to be solitary forgotten woodland and meadow creatures in their pursuits they remain communal in nature wishing to share and gain knowledge from others mostly.

Ganzberg the gnome was a special old man whose talents are called a Magical Linguist. Gnomes study languages in both their mundane and supernatural manifestations. When artifacts are found, they often have runes that need to be deciphered, old texts or notes that need to be looked at, etc., so Ganzberg was a highly valued caravan member for his wisdom. His was generally a gnome who was content to study his ancient texts, hang out in libraries and lead a solitary life that didn’t like interruptions.

Fijit, on the other hand, was a young clockwork gnome. He was a Mechanognome to be exact and acted as Stromboli’s Master Tinker and Shop Steward. Gnomes experiment with all manner of mechanical devices and Fijit was a rarity that didn’t mind doing a bit of plumbing in a town if need be to make extra money for the caravan’s expenses.

To gnomes, and regarding Fijit in particular, action is always considered better than inaction and he like many gnomes of his caste are known to often carry several highly involved projects with them at all times to keep themselves entertained during rest periods.

His not being able to stay still for very long at all or be quiet in the wagon caused Ganzberg no end to his aggravation of being interrupted or distracted. The older gnome could be repeatedly heard during most days and nights angrily telling the younger one to be still and quiet down when they were forced to have to be close to one another for travel or sharing lodging.

Despite having varying forms and talents, all gnomes have the common attribute of being able to move through the earth as easily as humans can move on top of it. This was a very good talent and resource to have around for a Reclaimer who needed them for cave and basement explorations.

Fijit was not a recluse like Ganzberg and he came from a family of what were called geared gnomes. Sometimes, rather than a single gnome becoming obsessed with a project, whole families of gnomes would decide to undertake to take on a project that could be so massive and so complex that it might sometimes require the work of a few generations of craftsmen and tinkers to complete. Such projects often involve creating extremely intricate clockwork devices (or entire elaborate clockwork artisan inspired buildings), and those born into families who dedicate their lifetimes of work on these projects are known as gear gnomes. His family was sort of like that but they all traveled working on individual components of the home project in their spare time to be assembled at a later date when they decided they had enough wandering in pursuit of other esoteric knowledge.

Two armed grey Gremlin guards, whose specialty was demolition when not protecting the caravan from robbers and goblins, rode on the ox cart in the rear of the column. Mischievous and mechanically oriented themselves they often caused as much trouble as they prevented. Although short in stature, they were so muscular that they looked like walking tree stumps in girth with their Hornbeam bark armor. The gremlins carried long two handed steel war hammers that could crush steel plate helmets and break oaken shields.

Thankfully, they used up much of their rambunctious excess energy tearing down blocked secret passages and chasing and sparring with each other in mock fights. For the most part, they were patient and purposeful in a fight seeking avoidance over wanton destruction but they didn’t mind giving someone a nip with their sharp teeth if they decided it was warranted and they wanted them to move on to somewhere else.

Many Gremlins see adventuring as the only worthwhile purpose in life and often seek out adventures for no other motive than to experience them. These two were no exception to that rule but they had been specially paroled to Stromboli, sort of as prison labor for busting up some of his robots that had tried to force entry into their former master’s house. They were just doing their job as guards they said in their defense, but they also hadn’t reported their master’s death for 2 years and therefore were guilty of conversion of goods and technically not employed when they had taken umbrage at Stromboli’s attempts to get into a locked wizard tower.

Stromboli paid them a working wage for the risks they took defending the caravan and castle from robbers but it was a very small one. He believed that he couldn’t ever recoup the expense of the robot-like creatures they had destroyed and besides they were also constantly racking up another bill for breaking something or another.

Their boisterous play fights and mischievous hijinks always seemed to cause some sort of accidental or otherwise damage to the caravan’s goods or to the towns they visited. At the rate they were going, they would be permanently indebted servants to the Stromboli Caravan and didn’t seem to care so long as they could get a measure of grog and a meal while enjoying an adventure. The only defense to bad things happening with them two around, Stromboli had learned the hard way, was to keep them busy.

A bored gremlin is not something that you want to have around camp, particularly if there are lots of mechanical parts and locomotion spells laying around. If Gremlins get idle, they get powerfully curious and have an overwhelming innate desire to see how things work and will disassemble but not reassemble machinery that catches their fancy. They are particularly attracted to anything that flies and need close supervision around it.

Then there was Lorelei, the pretty young woman who strived to become a better water magic practitioner under Stromboli’s tutelage. A Water Witch is simply one that works witchcraft with water. A Water Witch’s practice can be defined by magic that is focused around water, interacting with any water creatures living or dead, conjuring spirits that are associated with water, and if a water witch wishes they might make appeals to Goddess and Gods associated with water but they themselves really don’t prescribe to any religions in general.

Lorelei was meant to be raised to become a true Sea Witch. However, she was out of her element now, far from the ocean with no hopes of getting home. Her tragic escape from the Withering had stranded her far from the sandy beaches that she barely even remembered seeing and playing on as a child.

There were no friendly sea spirits here on the mountain to help her with her spells or teach her about controlling the dangerous rip tides. No furry or feathered beach animals to form bonds with and share the news of their world with while walking the beach in search of divination shells and pebbles. One thing that she constantly found herself wishing for the most from the coast was a piece of foraged fishing net to work her knot spells with. Oh, regular bits of cord and string worked OK for minor cantrips but you needed the power of the sea and the spent physical actions of men catching fishes to make a truly powerful spell and bind the magic.

Items like sea glass and fishing net floats called for as spell components in the few pages of the grimoire her mother had left her were just plain unattainable this far inland.

Stromboli knew nothing of Sea Witchery, it wasn’t anything he had ever studied and instead he tried to teach her what little bit he knew of Hydromancy. Hydromancing involves magic specifically influencing water or liquid. Hydromancers can cast magic on anything liquid so this type of knowledge was perfect to pass on to Lorelei.

Practitioners of this art can draw power from the rain, wells, rivers, lakes and even the vast oceans; they can be a most formidable foe when they are with their element. If a Hydromancer is powerful and practiced enough, he or she could even start for themselves a small rain storm by collecting all the water vapor in the air to form clouds. Hydromancers tend to be drifters that help farmers find water for pay and often times also become great seafarers. Some are found owning or working for water wheeled grist mills applying their powers to grinding corn and wheat into flour. They can be reasonably powerful witches but are not always so and not near as powerful as true Sea Witches. Water Witches are sometimes called Sea Witches, but that is usually inaccurate and many of them find a different calling with inland creeks, rivers, and lakes. It is rare for them to limit themselves to any one type of body of water. They generally align with all forms, including everything from rain to ditch water.

The truly adept Water Witch can control the fluids in a person’s body; they are capable of controlling and manipulating the person against his or her will for puppet like mannequin purposes. They make good gardeners because they can control and manipulate plants also by controlling and manipulating the liquid water inside.

But Lorelei was not an adept; her powers were weak and she could hardly materialize a cup of water without a day or two of studiously incanting. Her magic was quite limited unless practicing witchcraft on or very near any source of water: lakes, rivers, bathtubs, or even simply a bowl of salt water. She was unable to create water from thin air by herself, her powers being limited to manipulating only elemental components from already existing sources. Sea Witches, like her mother on the other hand, use witchcraft related to the moon, tides and the weather and are believed to have to a degree complete control over the seas. They could beckon water and it would come from whatever source they chose on rivers of air to do their bidding.

Sea witches tend to often improvise on what they have around them in their environment to cast spells with. They, unlike other practitioners of ceremonial magic, create and craft for themselves rather than making purchases from a store or from another person. Common tools they use to practice their form of sorcery with include conch, clam, scallop, or oyster shells in place of bowls or cauldrons to hold water or burn incense in. They are free roving beachcombers and this kind of witch has a bit of magpie in them and likes nothing better than to collect items like seaweed, fishing nets, frayed anchor ropes, shells, sea grass, driftwood, pieces of sea glass, sand dollars, etc., on their daily beach walks. Driftwood is carved and used as walking sticks and charged as wands. The Sea Witch works with what is termed a form of ‘grey magic’ to maintain a balance of light and dark like a tempest storm and creating rainbows from ocean mist.

Lorelei had in her possession but a few such beach sea treasures that she could call her own to try her skills out enchanting with. Stromboli had somehow managed to acquire for her a few seaside knick knacks but Lorelei found herself improvising most of the time and had found garden snail shells were no replacement for boat barnacles or cockle shells.

Her witch’s familiar wasn’t much help to her in her quest for sea magic, either. Her familiar was a sea bird that had never seen the sea! Her mother had left her a seagull egg along with a few salvaged fire charred parchment pages from her book of magic that she had rescued from their cliff house before she sent her daughter away to avoid the Withering.

The bird, which was named aptly Marca the seagull, had been born inland and didn’t know his ocean dwelling brethrens survival tricks or ways to enhance Lorelei’s sea magic at all. He, however, served a few helpful ordinary purposes though outside of friendship for performing mundane things and chores like keeping the crows out of the garden and sending messages to distant towns through.

His antics at times could be pretty comical. A shouting match between a quasi magical seagull and an obstinate flock of common black crows was indeed a sight to see and hear! Lots of tail feathers were lost on the crows’ side until they learned to keep their distance and not try to rob the gardens he diligently watched over with beak and a few minor disruptive magic spells!

Marca could talk intelligently in a human voice of sorts and he had an odd affinity for always appearing in Gavin’s room unannounced when he was using his mistress’s magic to experiment with it to run one of his human inspired mechanical creations.

The squawking bird could be a pretty pesky pest at times with his many questions and seemingly constant misunderstandings of applying water magic to mechanical devices prone to rust; the main reason being was he insisted he knew something of sea magic even though he had never been exposed to either. As the only seagull they knew to be in existence this side of the mountains, his instincts he said he was born with gave him special insights but that was up for speculation. Marca also was fascinated by fire, not a good thing for someone wearing a suit of feathers!

Gavin had mastered all the survival skills needed by humans to manually make fire and was called upon often to assist Lorelei with spells needing an outside heat source. When it came to fire starting, Lorelei’s nature generally worked against her to make one her self. Tinder became damp, matches got wet, etc. and it was just easier to summon Gavin to help her and get it done quickly.

It has been mentioned before that Mechanical/clockwork items do not work without Mage magic being present due to the unique physics of Stromboli’s creations. However, with Gavin’s insights and inventive mind, new mechanical magic was being brought to bear on the problem with something from the human world called hydraulics. Lorelei as a witch could make water do many things at will. She just needed to be coaxed a bit into trying applications outside of the magical world to blend with her talents. Gavin used his Visionary Insights to leverage in-house expertise and look to the future of their unique cottage industry to define what it was next they needed to try to create with their combined talents and make a buck or solve a problem.

Most of what he had created so far didn’t have very many practical uses like his egg timer that used a renewing drop of water provided by Lorelei in an hour glass like affair to mark the passage of time. But it didn’t work like he wanted it to unless you were looking right at it when it finally quit dripping to know the time was up. He tried to overcome that with a drop of glowing lunar water Lorelei had managed to create, but the luminescence only lasted 30 days like the waxing and waning cycles of the moon.

Fijit had gotten wind of Gavin’s attempts to combine time and water magic together in his continuous water drop hourglass affair and became fascinated. He had been pondering on the notion since then and had been tinkering on creating a mechanical water clock of his own, that worked off the laws of gravity instead of magic, for six months now. Stromboli frowned on such a waste of time when a cheap sundial would do but gave him encouragement in case it turned into something that they could sell at the bazaar.

He complimented Gavin on using current insights to come up with the idea and for assisting Fijit with the much bigger evolution of it. Current Insights are content that is centered on original, company-generated research, surveys and investigations.

The caravan group got together once a month and compared ideas on projects they were working on to gain what was called Anecdotal Insights. Typically these types of insights are created in-house and focus on the more tactical or practical, day-to-day issues like best practices or lessons learned.

On a rare occasion, they could all get together like a bunch of Gear Gnomes and come up with something truly unique and useful that combined all their talents. Like making water shock absorbers for the wagons but these proved to be costly to make and weren’t as reliable as just spring steel ones in common use so the idea to sell the invention to the public was discarded. They gave all the caravans wagons a great ride though!

Gavin had known Lorelei could identify gemstones based on their refractive light qualities but he didn’t know how she did it until he observed her one day placing a drop of water on a jewel Stromboli had passed her for authentication. She explained to him she could judge what the stone was based on the height of the water droplet and explained to him everything has a different surface tension so a drop of water on something like diamond would stand taller than on one of its more common substitutes or look-alike stones.

Armed with this bit of physics or physical property observations confirmed by some specific gravity experiments, he had gone to Stromboli with what he thought was his first bit of what was called Authoritative Insights. Content based on this type of insight category incorporates the work of credible third-party sources like industry analysts. Gavin figured they could create a device to sell to Jewelers to really conclusively identify gemstones based on their surface tensions by measuring the height or degree a drop appeared on a gemstones table.

Stromboli said although this sounded like a good idea it had a flaw in it because as soon as the unique knowledge principles of how the device worked was passed on in an explanation of how it functioned, they would just bypass them and use it for their own. No, it was better to charge a small fee if a jeweler wanted confirmation or a gemstones identity and let Lorelei handle it like she had in the past.

One thing Stromboli was very curious about was Gavin’s work with just regular hydraulics. See, all the machines he built never got much bigger than a giant tortoise. The larger the item he tried to create the more magic that was required to power it; things larger than you can easily carry require a great deal of conscious magical effort. Humanoid sized objects he had found out, or larger, will not work regardless of the Mage’s prowess. Perhaps if he could augment his magic someway with hoses filled with Lorelei’s magical waters to pressurize them he could make something truly magnificent! Perhaps even a life size horse to pull his wagon! Wouldn’t that have been exciting but alas Stromboli had died before his dreams were realized or any substantial progress was made in that direction.


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Further Recommendations

Lydia Walters: I really enjoyed this novel. It gives us a view of what could be if we really tried.Also that there's nothing wrong with loving our LORD and our fellow humans. couldn't wait to get to each new chapter (mission). Thanks, Joe!

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