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Grimoire and the Apprentice

By Trahelion All Rights Reserved ©


A Familiar's Duty

Grim watched from his perch in the aged and splintering rafters. The wizard’s apprentice was not allowed to bring others into the tower without the master’s permission, but the hooded man made himself quite at home. Something about him caused Grim’s hair to stand on end, he did not know if he wanted to flee from him, or claw at his flesh.

You promise that everything else will be mine, if I remove him from your competition?” Elisyn the Apprentice asked the mysterious man.

The hooded one let out a croaking laugh and shook his head. “There is nothing that the tottering old fool has that I desire for myself,” he said, “Take what you will - his very tower - but learning his ways will still be your own responsibility.

It was all that Grim could do, not to hiss and leap down. As the wizard’s familiar, his duties to protect him were just as paramount as his role in a number of his spells and arcane rituals.

Consider it done,” spoke Elisyn as he gave a gracious bow to his wicked guest. Oh, how truly Grim wished the Master would enter and strike them down, but he knew that he was away in the markets, seeking reagents and herbs. He watched the apprentice make his way up the stairs into the tower proper, and Grim stalked behind along the wooden beams and whatever stones jutted enough to provide a place for his agile feet.

His master’s quarters were easily accessed through a narrow gap in the masonry, and Grim wasted no time in leaping up at the door and sliding the lock into place. It was crafted from fairy-tin and none but those whose blood was placed upon it could open it once closed.

Footsteps and rattling of the handle were soon heard, followed Elisyn’s angry tirade of profanity. Grim turned away and leaped up to the windowsill and stretched himself out to enjoy the warmth of the sun. It pleased him to watch the birds and insect in the gardens below, and as much as he desired to hunt among them, he knew he had to guard his master’s belongings. But that did not mean that he could not dream about the wilds.

My lazy old friend,” spoke the wizard Caphilan as he entered his study, “wake from your slumber and join me as I prepare my ingredients.”

Grim stretched and flexed his claws against the sill before yawning, and leapt onto the floor to search out his master’s legs to rub against - His robes were covered in dust from the roads, which smelled decidedly different than the dust of the tower which usually coated him.

Caphilan’s bushy beard concealed much of his face, but his eyes which were magnified by round glasses lit up as they always did when he saw Grimoire. “Do not worry your whiskers that I did not think of you,” He rasped, “There is a fine trout in the larders waiting for you tonight!”

Grim jumped upon the workbench and began purring loudly, and even louder still as Caphilan ran gnarled fingers through his pitch-black fur.

I have the most delightful experiments planned,” he said, “with essence of Aldermere, we may yet bring about the cure for many ailments… and as always I value your company.”

Grim let out a chirping meow and curled himself upon the desk and watched him toil away with cutting herbs and grinding roots. If only he could properly explain to Caphilan that his apprentice was up to no good. As it is, he would make sure that nothing would harm his kind master.

He lurked in the dust and shadows, his slitted eyes were the only thing that betrayed his presence as they caught the candlelight. Grim kept his prey in close watch while Caphilan slumbered, watching Elisyn lurking about the store room.

Elisyn let out a small shout of joy as he raised a small phial, no doubt it was the object of which some nefarious plan encircled. In his blind elation, he left the room and the door open behind himself and grim lurked in his trailing shadow. He began climbing the stairs to the laboratory, but Grim knew a quicker path.

Grim darted along the dusty passages that were hidden behind the walls and leapt up the ancient beams. Cobwebs clung to his glossy midnight furs, but it was the least of his concerns. A rat took notice of his swift ascent and let out a loud squeak. Grim took the rat’s body into his mouth and leapt onwards until he found the gap in the stones that lead into the laboratory. The rat squealed and struggled against Grim’s gentle hold until he place his paw over it’s head.

The door rattled for a moment before swinging open and revealing Elisyn with fine metal tools which he quickly thrust into his pockets. He smiled and raised the dark vial as he approached the vat that held Caphilan’s elixer that he hoped would cure the fever. With a swift motion, Elisyn uncorked the vial and began tapping drops into the swirling cauldron which began to bubble and froth.

Grim held back his desire to growl and rushed forward, rat swinging in his mouth - which he dropped from the rafters.

Elisyn screamed and thrashed as the large rat dropped onto his head and slipped into his robes. The vial fell into the cauldron - and the essences turned from soothing blues to a nefarious red which pulsed brighter and brighter. Grim turned and quickly pounced through the gap in the stone.

The resulting explosion caused a cascade of dust, turning Grim’s coat to ashen grey. He returned to the rafters and spied Elisyn lying prostrate on the ground. His chest still moved, and his flesh was blackened with soot. A sudden squeak caught Grim’s attention, and the rat burst from Elisyn’s robes and darted out the door. It was fortunate for that rodent that Grim’s master saw that his hunger was sated. Besides, something so lowly as vermin did not suit his refined palate. Although, it did give him an idea.

The wizard Caphilan entered the room with the presence of a thunder storm, despite the fact that he was clothed in a nightcap and sleeping gown. “What has happened here, Elisyn?” he cried.

I heard a sound and came to investigate,” said Elisyn the liar, "I know not what has happened, save I saw flame and then darkness."

Caphilan took Elisyn’s head into his hands and wove his healing magics through him. “Go you to bed and rest, child,” he said, “and as I have told you since your first day - you must never enter my laboratory.” Even Grim could sense the subtle nuances of his disappointment - human speech as enigmatic as it is.  Elisyn nodded vigorously and stood up, catching sight of Grim who lurked in the high beams. He frowned and staggered his way out the door.

Grim leaped from beam to beam and plodded silently before Caphilan.

You are as a frightful ghost, my dear friend!” Caliphan wheezed as he knelt and wiped away the grime from Grim, “I am glad you survived, though my heart is broken. My cure most treasured will be further delayed.

Grim wove between the wizard’s legs, giving him a brief nuzzle before leading the way out of the laboratory and towards the bed chambers.

While his kind master returned to his slumber, Grim watched in the shadows, alert and ready.

It was not common for Grim to hold a grudge. Plenty of ignorant human kittens have tugged at his whiskers and stepped on his tail, and he forgave them in their ignorance. But this human had no excuse. He knew the weight of his wicked deeds, and he would pay for it, and become his prey.

And Grim took no small measure of amusement from his prey.

He leaped upon the same bookshelf that Elisyn the betrayer pilfered from, and scanned through the many ingredients.

Essence of Murinae, ground Conmatatus root, and dried flowers of the Verto plant.

Grim remembered a great many recipes - it was his duty to be an assistant after all, and he delighted in fetching the various components.

These ingredients, however, he knew in his heart the kind wizard would not approve of. But grim knew that he would similarly not approve of his apprentice's attempts at poisoning him.

Grim stashed his fetched ingredients in the rooftop above the kitchens, where he sat in waiting for his moment of retribution.

Elisyn left his bowl of stew upon the splintered wooden table, and turned away to tend to the boiling pot.

Grim began knocking the powders and herbs into the stew, finally holding the bottle of Murinae Essence between his paws and removing the stopper with his teeth. He knocked it aside and let it drip from his lofty perch.

His tail flicked in monumental anticipation and he watched the apprentice lift his spoon and begin shoveling his tampered food into his mouth. Despite his beloved Caphilan being one, he found the way that humans ate to be decidedly unsettling.

Elisyn coughed, and a nimbus of smoke and vapor appeared around him until he could be seen no more. His cough continued, higher in pitch.

At once, the mist vanished, to reveal Elisyn's robes sitting empty in the chair in which he sat. A frantic squeaking preceded the appearance of a small mouse sliding from the abandoned clothing.

Grim gave in to his baser instincts and descended upon his prey, with his claws withdrawn. He was forbidden by his master from drawing the blood of a human, and to his disappointment he found that it extended to those who had been transfigured.

Still, Grim chased Elisyn the mouse around the kitchen, batting at him merrily with his paws. No amount of scampering could save him from Grim's gentle assault.

After what felt to be the passing of much time, Caphilan the kind entered the kitchen - a look of confusion etched into the wrinkles of his visible face as he looked from the empty clothes to the frantically squeaking mouse that ran circles between his feet.

The wizard pointed his fingers at the rodent and spoke his incantation, causing another cloud of vapors that faded to reveal Elisyn who lay sprawled upon the floor, unclothed.

"Goodness me," he rasped, looking down upon his apprentice, "what troubles have you gotten yourself into now?"

"I don't know!" cried Elisyn the fool, "I sat to eat my supper, and fell victim to a transfiguration!"

Grim approached the apprentice and began to nuzzle his bare leg, purring loudly.

Caphilan removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose with a disappointed sigh. "Come, Grim, I must begin my elixir anew," he said, turning away.

Grim trotted after his master, only pausing to give a backwards glimpse to the apprentice, who scowled at them with his cheeks red.

The delicate silver knife rocked against the wooden board, finely slicing the unusual bulb. It was nearly hypnotic to Grim, but he did not let himself truly rest. He knew he couldn't so long as the plotting apprentice held residence in his master's tower.

"You do not suppose this is all the work of my old rival, Vanerach, do you?" Caliphan asked, "I know that you would know if there were any unwelcome guests."

Grim flicked his tail and stretched out cross the table while his master began working the mortar and pestle with his arthritic hands.

"I would take that as a simple no," Caphilan said with a gentle chuckle, "if there were anyone with ill intent, you'd have taken care of them. I'm sure of it."

Grim purred loudly, and the wizard stopped to peer at him through the corner of his eye. He sat in a moment of quiet contemplation before continuing his alchemical works.

Elisyn the sneak muttered to himself as he fiddled with the key ring, unaware of Grim lurking just outside the window, cloaked in the darkness of night.

The dastardly apprentice place a key into the locked cabinet, and it swung open to reveal a number of wands and staves crafted from wood and crystals. His eager hands sought them out as weapons, for a number of them were crafted with the intent of destruction. They were not favored by his master, but he held them safe from ignorant hands. He tucked the arcane tools in his robe, and began to stalk towards the door and up the stairs.

Grim knew that the corridor led only to his master's bed chambers. Swiftly he followed suite, unseen and unheard, as his soft paws granted him the favor of the shadows.

Elisyn the would-be-betrayer knocked frantically at Caliphan's door, his other hand tucked into his robe.

Grim struck from the darkness, quickly weaving around Elisyn's feet. The apprentice staggered, swearing angrily as he tried to kick the clever familiar.

It was quite the mistake.

He jumped upon the unbalanced apprentice, just as his kind master opened the door.

Elisyn tumbled and fell down the stairs, stopping only at a landing with a frightening snap. As he tried to regain his footing, a fire burst from his robes, and he cried in fear trying to stop it.

Caliphan rushed forward with an agility that impressed even Grim, and extinguished the flames with word of command. "Alas!" he cried, reaching forth and pulling out the broken wand, "I vowed never to teach you the ways of spell fire. What is your true purpose, tell me!"

Elisyn lowered his head in shame and spoke softly, "I was promised your legacy by the wizard Lotheris."

Caphilan let out a choking gasp. "I know not to be more stunned by your betrayal, or the return of the dark magician Lotheris," he said in pained tones, "but I fear there is one task I must take care of first."

Grim had served his master for other thirty years - and it was the first time he had truly seen his wrath. He gestured his hands, and the fallen apprentice was lifted into the air, and he led him forward up the stairs and onward to the balcony. No amount of Elisyn's pleading and sobbing stopped his march to the edge.

"It pains me," Caphilan said, "truly it does. But I forbid you from seeking my tower, and your deeds shall be known to every great sorcerer in the land. Farewell, my apprentice."

With a small flick of his hands, Elisyn's figure was launched through the air, soaring towards the horizon. Grim leaped onto the railing and let out a chirping meow.

Caphilan reached forward and scratched him behind the ears. "Fear not, my friend," he wheezed as they sat together watching the would-be assassin fade further into the distance, "it is but a simple enchantment, he will float back down to earth like a feather."
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