Come on, Jessie! Jinx panted in thought-speak as he sprinted along the slowly narrowing stone corridor; his paws silently slapping at the stones laid along the floor as he ran. We’re almost there!
Jessie appeared around the corner Jinx had sprinted around moments earlier, his blonde hair plastered against his forehead by sweat from his exertion as he dashed madly up the corridor. His eyes darted to the left and right at the walls, slowly inching forwards.
“I’m coming, Jinx! I’m coming,” he panted, tearing after his familiar who by now had made it to the open corridor and paused to catch his breath. As Jessie neared the end of the corridor, the wall to the right suddenly shuddered to a halt and holes opened up in random places. Jessie’s eyes widened, and as a poison-tipped spike shot out of the wall near his head he ducked, rolled and nearly collided with Jinx as he tumbled out of the corridor; the feline just managing to jump out of the way with a slight hiss.
Jessie sat on his knees for a moment, hands resting on the ground, breathing hard and attempting to collect his thoughts. Jinx padded over, and placing his front paws on Jessie’s left knee, looked up at him and said, Jess? You okay? Concern clouded his brilliant green eyes. His ears standing alert.
Jessie looked up smiling and reached up to scratch Jinx around the ears causing the black feline to purr and rub against his hand. You know I hate when you do that, Jinx pouted, sitting back on his hind legs, his forepaws falling back in front of him proudly.
Jessie laughed, “But it’s so predictable of you, Jinx.” He sat back up and stared down at the jet-black feline who had become his familiar not so long ago. Jinx twitched his tail in annoyance, and after rolling his eyes said, So are you ready to get going or not?
Jessie smiled and placing a hand on the ground for leverage, pushed himself back to a standing position. “I’m ready, old friend, but are you?” He replied with a wink and cocky smile. Jinx rolled his eyes yet again and stood up, tail in the air. I was born ready; I was simply waiting for you, he thought back, a hint of a smirk playing on his feline face as he trotted down the new corridor, eyes flicking left and right, searching. Jessie followed after him at a light jog also eyeing the walls, nooks and crannies that they passed for any new threat or obstacle.
A good ten minutes later and with no sign of any danger, Jinx slowed down to a walk and finally halted in the middle of the corridor. The tip of his tail twitched nervously from side to side as he scanned the area.
“Jinx? What’s wrong?” Jessie asked, coming to a halt behind the feline and squatting down to his level. “Did you see something?” he asked when Jinx did not reply.
Jinx shook his head, turning to look at Jessie, It’s more what I don’t see - or hear, or even smell. His eyes full of worry, he continued, There should have been something. Some sort of test or danger to pass by now - but nothing. Jessie’s eyes narrowed in thought as he too surveyed the seemingly empty corridor, looking up and down it suspiciously. Jinx eyed the young witch carefully, You see or sense anything?
Jessie shook his own head and shivered, “You’re right, Jinx; this just feels wrong,” he replied, finally holding out his arms for Jinx to hop into them. When Jinx obliged, Jessie stood up so they could both survey their surroundings from the same level. “Maybe… maybe this is part of the trial as well?” Jessie pondered aloud. When Jinx again didn’t reply he concluded, “Maybe it’s some sort of test of our nerves and stamina to continue on?”
Jinx tilted his head up at Jessie at these words and nodded, Maybe. It would be just like the council to do such a thing given how easily we’ve made it past the first few obstacles. With that he leapt from Jessie’s arms and started padding softly away continuing down the corridor. Looking back over his shoulder tail in the air with a slight curl to the tip, he asked, Coming? Jessie nodded and followed the feline, hands twitching at his sides ready for an attack by someone or something unknown. Jessie had become quite proficient with his telekinetic powers in the time that he and Jinx had been paired together, but he desperately wanted his first magickal staff. It was what all their work together as witch and familiar had been building toward after all. Both Jinx and Jessie knew deep down that neither of them were the other’s true match., That as a familiar and witch they were still searching for the one with whom they had a destiny to fulfill. However the witches’ and familiars’ councils had felt that in the interim a partial match, or simple affinity for one another, would suffice to help Jessie obtain his staff. It was quite a dangerous decision for them to make, as it left the two without the natural oneness that came with a true match pairing. Without the power that came with such a close bond.
As such Jessie and Jinx, friendly and similar as they were, had been warned upon their assignment to one another to be extra cautious. It had been difficult for the two rambunctious youths, and there had been a few close scrapes which they had laughed about later, but by and by they had survived, and had finally made it to Jessie’s trial. To complete the trial would be to award Jessie with his first magickal staff. A right of passage for the young witch. Jessie exhaled loudly, causing Jinx to look around in alarm for a moment, his fur standing on end. Jessie chuckled, “Sorry, Jinx, Just thinking.”
Thinking about what? You almost gave me a heart attack. I thought you were being attacked! Jinx scolded him after he had calmed down, sitting back on his haunches looking up at the boy.
Jessie smiled, “Just thinking about how far we’ve come as a mismatched pair - how close we are to our goal,” he replied.
Jinx tilted his head to the side, Of course we have. Did you doubt my ability to lead you? He blinked up at Jessie confused, almost hurt.
Jessie shook his head, “No, of course not. I knew we could do it. But it still is amazing how far we’ve come given all the warnings the councils gave us,” he reassured the confused, hurt looking feline.
Jinx nodded with a smirk, Yes, we sure showed them! Mismatched, my whiskers! We are the perfect team! With that he stood back up, tail held proudly in the air, and continued down the hallway, Jessie following after him shaking his head in amusement. The pair met nothing and no one for ten more minutes before a corridor crossed their path and they halted before it, peering left down one side, then right down the other and finally straight ahead. They craned their necks as far as they could and squinted to try and see anything in the distance.
“Which way you reckon?” Jessie voiced aloud still peering down the passageway to the left.
Jinx shrugged his shoulders, taking a few tentative steps down the passage to the right, then straight ahead. This must be another stage of the test. We’ve met nothing else until now, he replied, moving to sit dead center between the corridors watching Jessie tentatively place a foot down one corridor.
“Must be,” Jessie agreed, turning to face the waiting feline, “But which way do we go?”
Jinx twitched his nose in thought swiveling his head around again before stopping and focusing on a gleam at the end of the corridor they had been following. Did you see that? he asked excitedly, standing up, tail waving back and forth, tip curled in a question mark.
Jessie, suddenly alert and excited, took a few steps towards the corridor, “I did! It was the gleam of something shiny! Something like a magickal, jewelled staff perhaps?” He turned to wink at Jinx, grinning like a fool.
Jinx rolled his eyes, Perhaps. I mean it is most likely, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
Jessie waved his hand in a ‘come on’ motion, “Well let’s find out then! This has to be the way.”
Jinx tilted his head for a moment before nodding decisively and standing back up, tail in the air. Let’s go! With that, the feline sprinted off up the corridor chasing the gleam at the end like he was chasing the sun’s reflection off a piece of glass. Jessie laughed at his retreating, furry behind, sprinting to catch up.
As the two jogged, or in Jinx’s case trotted, along the corridor, the gleam turned slowly into a brilliant blue light. The further they moved along, the brighter that light started to get. They exchanged frequent, excited looks, grinning before looking ahead again. Before too long, Jessie had to actually hold up his arm to shield his eyes from the light, and Jinx was squinting into it trying to see the path ahead. It was because of this that both familiar and witch failed to see the trick flagstone until Jessie’s foot sank onto it and they felt a rumbling sound. Both stopped in their tracks and paused to look at one another and then back down the way they had come. When the corridor looked normal, no boulders hurtling towards them, no passageway collapsing sideways or otherwise, they slowly turned their heads to their direction of travel.
What they saw made both of their jaws drop; something that looked quite comical on Jinx’s feline face. The floor around a central pillar in the room they had come to was falling away. They watched as flagstone after flagstone fell into a deep, dark abyss below, before finally the rumbling stopped and they were left staring at the five foot circle bearing the magnificent, blue jeweled staff fifty feet across a vast empty expanse. Staring open-mouthed, disbelievingly at the expanse, eyes roaming across it. In their heads they thought, Oops? simultaneously.
To which Jinx replied, turning to look at the young witch, You can say that again. When Jessie opened his mouth to actually say it aloud, Jinx interrupted him, raising a paw into the air. Don’t say it again. Jessie looked at the cat and chuckled.
Jinx rolled his eyes and gazed back across the expanse, sitting on his haunches with his tail curled around him, the tip of it twitching back and forth madly. What are we supposed to do now? He mused aloud. The council knows what your power is, and what my capabilities are… so what does failing to see the trigger stone test exactly? He looked up at Jessie as he finished speaking. Any ideas?
Jessie’s eyebrows furrowed as he concentrated and scanned the expanse trying to think of what to do. Raising his hand towards the staff he attempted to call it to him with his mind. Jinx watched hopefully though not really expecting something so simple to work. When the staff neither moved nor twitched, he screwed up his nose.
Didn’t really expect that to work, but valiant effort, he consoled Jessie, standing up to rub against his shins. Jessie, disappointed, dropped his hands to his side and then sat down in a huff, accidentally sweeping a small pebble off the ledge into the expanse in the process.
As Jessie sat there with his arms hugging his knees and staring at the staff in the distance, Jinx noticed the pebble. His eyes grew wide and he approached the edge of the chasm, staring in wonder at the pebble which was apparently floating in mid-air. Not wanting to get Jessie’s hopes up, he cautiously lifted a paw and tentatively set it skittering through what seemed to be the ether over the chasm next to the pebble. Surprisingly, his paw hit solid ground.
It couldn’t be that easy could it? Jinx thought to himself this time. Without alerting Jessie, Jinx slowly picked his way along the edge of the chasm tentatively placing his paw down every couple inches in what appeared to be midair. Each time his paw landed on a solid surface. Approximately seven inches from where he started, his paw went further than before as if there was indeed a great wide space in which to fall. At this, Jinx leapt backwards to avoid falling and proceeded to check the opposite side to gauge the width of what he was calling a walkway. After counting the six inches back to his starting point, the pebble, Jinx counted a further six inches in the other direction before his paw hit air on the seventh. Satisfied he had figured the trick out he smirked to himself and trotted over to Jessie tail in the air.
I found something, he said to the young blonde witch who had been resting his forehead on his knees and looking down at the ground. At Jinx’s voice in his mind Jessie looked up confused, “What?”
Jinx smirked again, I found our way across the chasm, silly. He tilted his head back towards it as he said so. Noting that Jessie still looked confused, Jinx rolled his eyes, When you moved that pebble over the edge it landed on an invisible walkway. I’ve measured it and it appears that it is approximately one-foot wide.
This got Jessie’s attention, and he immediately sprang to his feet searching for the pebble in question. Once he located it, he moved closer to and stared at it as Jinx moved to sit in front of him, stretching and yawning. Yup, that’s it. It will be slow going, but I think if we are cautious we can inch our way across the gap to the platform and your staff.
Jessie looked more determined than Jinx had ever seen him; his jaw was set, and his eyes narrowed at the path he could not see. “Let’s do this,” was all he said.
So Jinx, nodding to him, straightened himself out in front of him and began to tentatively reach his paw out to feel for solid ground. When he was sure it was solid, he would move forward slightly, that was when Jessie inched out behind him staying so close that Jinx’s tail brushed against his shins. Jinx was slightly startled by this, and the first time it happened his head lurched forwards slightly and he turned his head around for a moment. After realizing it was just Jessie, who was distracted concentrating on his balance, he relaxed and slowly began inching forward again. At one point, Jinx’s paw met nothing but air directly in front of him, and he spent the next five minutes carefully feeling around in front and beside him to realize the path has turned a few degrees to the left.
Pausing for a moment, he turned his head to look at Jessie, Careful the path curves here, he told him, staring at Jessie until he gave a tiny jerk of his head in response.
Jinx exhaled through his nose as he turned back to face the front and slowly, inch by inch, moved the two inches around the corner of the narrow path. Glancing up occasionally, Jinx couldn’t help but smile which made his whiskers twitch. Slowly, but steadily, they were crossing the chasm. Jinx didn’t say anything to Jessie for fear of breaking his concentration to remain on the narrow path, but the fact that they were slowly approaching their goal spurred him onward. Soon, Jinx found that no matter where he placed his paw it met air. As he stood contemplating the conundrum, his head tilted to the side as he thought.
“Jinx?” Jessie asked. “What’s wrong?”
Jinx could feel the young witch crouch down behind him as he asked the question.
Jinx wrinkled his nose up before answering. Path ended, he replied simply, staring directly ahead. Jessie looked up from where he squatted, surveying the area and trying to gauge the distance between them and the central platform.
“It’s not that far, is it?” Jessie asked, looking back down at the back of his feline companion’s head.
Jinx sat back on his haunches and swivelled his head around to look at him. Five feet or so I’d say. Why? The intrepid feline asked, eyeing his human companion curiously.
Jessie smirked. “Surely we could jump to it?”
The young witch looked down at him and Jinx stared back for a moment before answering, Well... I can, he trailed off looking at Jessie’s legs, sizing them up. I suppose you likely could make it as well, he concluded looking back up at Jessie’s face.
Jessie looked self-assured and scoffed, “Of course I can!” He stood up carefully as he said so until he was standing straight.
Jinx chuckled mentally, I am sure you can as well. I’ll jump first, you follow; okay?
Jessie nodded, shifting one leg behind him to push off of the ledge. Jinx stood up, then crouched low to the ground before launching himself through the air, stretching his legs out and landing gracefully on the central platform. Okay, your turn. Remember to really push off and forward, Jinx cautioned, looking serious.
Jessie rolled his eyes, “I know, I know” squatting down, readying himself to jump.
Jinx eyed Jessie warily watching how he moved in preparation for his jump. Maybe this was not such a good idea, he began to think before shaking his head. No, no, Jessie can make it. It is not that far, he reasoned, watching carefully. Jessie was swinging his arms preparing for his jump. Just as he started to leap off the platform, a bolt of energy erupted from the chasm startling Jinx and causing him to leap backward a couple feet. Jessie screamed in agony from somewhere within the expanding ball of light. Once he had recovered and the light had faded, Jinx realized what had happened. By leaving Jessie alone, he had left him vulnerable to attack. Cursing himself for failing to remember such a simple rule, Jinx peered over the edge terrified of what he was about to see with the tip of his tail twitching. When Jinx peered over the edge of the ledge and down into the chasm, he realized that the distance had been an illusion. It was still a fair drop, approximately twenty feet down, but nowhere near as endless as they had been lead to believe. What he saw, however, broke his heart; Jessie laying down at the bottom of the chasm, not moving.
Tears began to leak from Jinx’s eyes, and as they did he slowly shapeshifted into his human form. Black fur grew out to become an untidy mop of jet black hair, and pale, almost white skin emerged where the fur no longer covered. Jinx gripped the edge of the ledge with medium length fingers, his knuckles obviously strained from gripping the hard rock. “Jessie!” he shouted aloud down to the blonde witch below, with a raspy voice. “Jess…” he started to shout again, the sound of his own voice had always felt weird to him, as Jessie began to stir, rolling his head feebly to the side.
Jessie stared straight up, eyes straining to focus, seeing not the black cat that he knew to be Jinx, but a boy with an untidy mop of jet black hair, wearing a simple faded-blue t-shirt.
“J-Jinx?” he mumbled, unable to focus and wincing with every movement he made.
Jinx, eyebrows knitted in concern saw his lips moving with his sharp eyes, shouted back, “Yes, it’s me!” Jinx begun scanning for a way to climb down to the broken boy, wiping his eyes of tears with the back of his hand as he did so, Get a hold of yourself, Jinx! he told himself.
Soon, he had found the way to climb down, a series of small platform like juts in the rock at varying intervals, but there was no way he would manage it in human form and so he closed his eyes concentrating and shapeshifted back into his usual feline self.
Padding his feet on the spot for a couple seconds in preparation Jinx began leaping down the rocky face of the central pedestal. In very little time he had reached the bottom and slowly approached Jessie, nudging his hand with his nose. Jessie rolled his head over, wincing as he did so.
Don’t move, Jess, I’m sure the council will be here soon. Jinx said in response with a wince himself that made his whole feline face twitch.
Jessie closed his eyes for a moment, swallowing a lump in his throat, before speaking. “You... you shapeshifted,” he said looking as best he could at Jinx with his blue-grey eyes as the familiar sat on his haunches beside him, his tail flicking nervously.
Jinx swallowed before answering, Yeah… I know... I know I wasn’t supposed to show you my human form. Given we are not a true match and all, but... I... he closed his eyes for a moment, obviously strained. I couldn’t control myself for a moment, he finished opening his own brilliantly green eyes.
Jessie smiled weakly. “Well, it was nice to see it at least once, my friend” he winced, quite noticeably, as he spoke aloud.
Jinx winced along with him, Don’t.... Don’t speak, young one, he rested a fuzzy black paw on Jessie’s shoulder lightly as he said it.
The two sat for several long minutes before a swarm of medi-witches arrived on the scene. Jinx hurriedly backed away from Jessie to allow them to tend to him, to heal him. He sat back on his haunches some ten feet away and stared up at the barely discernible glow from the staff on the platform, thinking.
Jinx? a stern, familiar, voice resounded in his head.
Jinx winced inside. He knew they would come, and he knew what was coming. Jinx reluctantly tore his eyes away from the glow of the staff on the platform. As he lowered his gaze he came face to face with Elias, Chazrin, leader of the familiar’s council. The regal looking silver-grey tabby cat scrutinized him carefully, eyeing him with a mixture of disappointment and relief. Jinx sat back on his haunches, head bowed both in respect and shame.
Finally, Elias spoke, Jinx, this has got to stop happening - until you have found your true match, you are still obligated to fulfill the role of familiar to any witch requiring an interim one. You need to be more vigilant in your cautiousness and adherence to the rules.
It is incredibly difficult to tell many facial expressions on a familiar in animal form, for obvious reasons, but when Jinx looked up briefly and from the intonation of the voice in his head, he could sense the disappointment in the Chazrin. Swallowing nervously, he simply replied, Yes, Chazrin, out of respect and hung his head still lower, tail curled around himself in shame.
Elias sighed deeply before continuing, Your hearing will be first thing Monday morning. Do not be late, and with that he turned around and left Jinx to sit and stew in his own thoughts.
Glumly, Jinx watched Jessie being loaded onto a stretcher by the medi-witches. With a slight sigh, and because he had noticed the Demiatraz, the members of the witch’s council arrive, Jinx stood, stretched and yawned involuntarily. He scampered off in the direction the Chazrin had gone, eager to put distance between himself and the Demiatraz.