Rites of Passage
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The sound of the chimes at the front of Hrefna's tent rang out. But it was not Tuesday, so she grumbled and turned over in bed, choosing to ignore them. It was likely the wind again, playing up at the flaps of the tent.

The chimes tingled once more. Hrefna continued to grumble, and clamped a pillow over her head. If those chimes keep up ringing, she decided, I'm going to get up and take them off the front of the tent. Don't know why I even bother leaving them up when it ain't Tuesday.

"Hellooo?" called a masculine voice into the tent. "Grandma? Are you in there?"

Hrefna sat bolt upright, recognizing the voice immediately.

"Er— yes! Sorry for the wait, Stenzin, I didn't think you'd be coming so soon!"

"I told you, grandmother, school's given me the week off on the hundredth crest of Perennium. That's today."

"You think I have any idea what day it is at any given time, boy?" asked Hrefna. "'Specially when you put it like that. You know, you could just say Monday. I'd know it then."

"But when I told you was like…" There was a pause. Hrefna could audibly hear the counting of fingers. "Three months ago! It'd have made no sense for me to tell you 'Monday' all the way back then."

"Oh, whatever." said Hrefna, as she sat up and rubbed her bleary eyes. "Now get out for a minute, I ain't ready."

"Oh, sorry." said Stenzin. The chimes tingled as he left the tent.

A few minutes passed, and Hrefna called out "Alright, I'm ready now, you can come in!"


"There you are! Who's my sweet little boy?" asked Hrefna, as she bustled up to Stenzin and pinched his cheek. She wasn't really sure why she felt so inclined to pinch his cheek. It was simply common grandmotherly etiquette.

Stenzin rubbed at his cheek as his grandmother embraced him in a hug. His body tensed for just a moment, and then relaxed again, remembering the feeling of physical comfort. He hadn't had much of it over in Erminya.

"Hi, grandma." he said.

"Hello, dear. Have you been eating well in Erminya?" she asked.

Stenzin thought of his dietary habits for the past six months. Wizards by tradition had a diet consisting of meat, bread, cheese, and wine. Every meal was very hearty and filling, but had an egregious lack of greens. He cringed, and lied to his grandmother.

"Yes, grandma. I've been eatin' my broccoli. And carrots, too. Good for the eyesight, like you said."

Hrefna laughed, and released Stenzin from her embrace. "Yes, well, I'd imagine carrots'd have a real time of it trying to cure an eyesight like yours, dear. How long have you had them spectacles for?"

"Soon as I turned six. Mum noticed that I was unusually clumsy and couldn't read worth shit—"


"Sorry— worth anything, and she went out and got me some glasses. These aren't the same pair I had back then, though. I broke them a lot."

"Yes, that I remember. I had to clean glass shards out of your eyes on more than one occasion."

"Mhm… er, thank you for that, Grandma. It's good that you're a witch or my eyes might have been messed up for good."

"Indeed. Anyways, you fancying some tea?"

"Sure. What kind?"

"Earl Grey. I've still got the powder your grandfather gave me before The Spell."

"What, really?! That must be nearly a hundred years old by now!"

"Had some just last Tuesday. Catorsia said it was fine."

"Wait— Catorsia? Who's that?"

"Oh, right. Tell you what— I'll tell you about them over tea, and you can see them tomorrow." said Hrefna, as she left the tent and made her way over to the kettle outside.

"You just sit tight and get yourself comfortable!" she called.

Stenzin sighed, and sat down.

If ever it were possible to say that looks could be deceiving, the exact opposite could be said about Stenzin Ghetrun. He was not a man who bothered with facades, and instead chose to lay everything about himself as bare as he could without taking off all of his clothes.

This was the first impression of Catorsia Cauxten upon meeting him.

Their second impression was that he looked like an enormous nerd.

He wore a pair of small round spectacles and had short, well-manicured ginger hair. His jaw was rounded at the bottom, and his large, reddish nose constantly looked as though it was about to start drooling snot. His eyebrows were thick and his cheeks were rosy, but despite the cheerfulness the rest of his appearance may have afforded him, his eyes were always drooping, contorted into an expression of vague sadness and frustration.

Beyond his face, however, there was stunningly absolutely nothing to note. He wore the largest, most flowing set of red star-spangled robes Catorsia had ever seen on a wizard, and cleverly hid his feet underneath a pair of large black boots. His arms completely recessed into his robes until they were needed, and he always wore his hood up, even indoors.

"What? What are you looking at?" he asked, as Catorsia ran their eyes up and down his body.

Catorsia stifled a giggle, and said "Oh, nothing. Nothing. Stenzin, was it? My name's Catorsia. Nice to meet you."

"Yes, er, nice to meet you too. Grandma said you're a new pupil of her's, correct?"

"That's right. I've been trying to study magic for a while, so I came down and found the last witch."

"Magic is a very interesting topic to study. Have you learned about the sixth law of thaumaturgy yet?" he asked.

"Witches don't really teach in laws and rulesets, but I did purchase a couple of thaumaturgy books for myself. I don't think I've made it to the sixth law yet."

"Oh. Well, it's very simple, if you'd like me to tell you about—"

The chimes tingled as Hrefna entered the tent, carrying a tray of tea cups in with her.

"It's mighty windy out there— more so than usual, at least— so we'll be havin' our tea in here today." she said.

She set the tray down on a small coffee table inside of her tent, and Stenzin and Catorsia sat around it. Hrefna sat next to Stenzin.

"Sorry for the wait, you two. You get yourselves acquainted already?"

"Er, somewhat." said Stenzin.

"Yeah, a little bit." agreed Catorsia.

"Oh, well that just won't do. The two of you's are acting like a cat and dog. Well, I guess in one of your cases—"

"Not a cat." said Catorsia.

"Right. Not a cat. Anyways, I suppose you've both got some questions 'bout why the other's here?"

"Not really," said Stenzin. "Just a bit surprised that you're teaching again. Guess it'd be interesting to hear the whole story."

"I don't really have any questions, either. This dude called you 'grandma.' That's about all I needed to know." said Catorsia.

"Catorsia, don't be rude. This is my grandson, Stenzin. He's been off at wizarding college these past six months. Up in Erminya." said Hrefna.

"You mean that place you're always defaming? The one where they're trying to study The Spell, but won't listen to you about it?" asked Catorsia.

"Yes, that's the one. Listen, Stenzin is the only good thing to ever go in and out of Erminya, in my opinion."

"There's the sandwiches, too," muttered Stenzin.

"Oh, the sandwiches there are alright," said Hrefna. "Better than eating rations, I suppose."

"I thought you hated wizards?" asked Catorsia.

"I do. But I make an exception for me own grandson. I ain't some kind of alienator." she said.

"Is that a kind of weapon from the Old Society?" asked Catorsia.

"No, it means— forget it. Means I'm not gonna just abandon my kid for having a differing worldview."


"I've been trying to spread some of Grandma's ideals at the Royal Wizarding College," said Stenzin, "But they won't have any of it."

"Figures," said Hrefna. "A wizard wouldn't know a good idea if it struck him upside the head."

The three of them sipped their tea.

"Hmm. A bit bitter… I'll need some sugar in this." said Hrefna, as she got up and went to a small compartment in the floor of her tent. From there, she pulled out a bag of sugar, and shook it into her tea. When nothing came out, she merely frowned and went to sit back down.

"No sugar. Anyways, Catorsia. You know Stenzin's story now— he's a wizard, my grandson, and he came down to visit me cause it's his vacation right now. Only gets a week off, the poor sod. But what about your story?"

"Oh, well…" said Catorsia, "I'm an osker, and we're quite inclined to magic, so I went off to go and study it. I tried studying at the wizarding college—"

"Royal Wizarding College," interrupted Stenzin.

"Right. Royal Wizarding College. But I didn't like the attitude there and couldn't learn anything. I appreciate the categorization of magic into laws and rulesets, but do wizards have to be so stuck up about it? So, I looked for alternative means, and I found out that there was one last witch on Orium. And that's how I found Hrefna, and started studying with her every Tuesday."

"Oh!" shouted Hrefna, almost spilling her tea. "I almost forgot that was today."

"But I'm here, aren't I?" asked Catorsia.

"Look, you can't blame an old woman for her poor memory." said Hrefna. "Anyways. Finish your tea and chat, and then today I've got another lesson. You can come along too if you like, Stenzin."

"Guess it'd be better than doing nothing." said Stenzin.


As they walked through the windy plains, a lone length of robe smacked Catorsia in the face.

"Stenzin, would you mind holding your robe down?" they asked.


"YOUR ROBE. It's smacking me in the face."

"Oh. Sorry."

"YOU TWO ALRIGHT BACK THERE?!" called Hrefna, as she trekked onward.

"Yes, don't mind us." said Catorsia, now used to Hrefna's ability to hear them over the roaring wind. "By the way, where are we going?"


"An important artifact? I haven't ever heard anything about this. Stenzin, did you know that witches had any important artifacts?" remarked Catorsia, turning to Stenzin.

"What?!" said Stenzin, putting his hand to his ear in an attempt to hear them better.

"Oh, never mind." said Catorsia, as another length of robe slapped their cheek.

"How far is this old friend's house?" they asked, turning towards Hrefna.


"Oh, joy."


"Yes, please!" called Stenzin, struggling to make his voice heard over the howling wind. Unfortunately, he had not been blessed with the same set of lungs as his grandmother. Thankfully, this was not a problem, as Hrefna was able to hear him regardless.

The party of three soon found themselves stepping into the mouth of a cave. Hrefna laid out a roll of blankets that she had carried with her from the tent, and everyone sat down on the blanket.

"It ain't much, but it'll last us the night." she said.

Catorsia stretched out on a pile of blankets, and curled up.

"Much better than being outside in the howling wind." they said.

"Yes, very." said Stenzin, sitting cross-legged next to them.

"So, now that we can hear you properly, you mind telling us more about why we're going to an old friend's house and what the artifact we're retieving is, Hrefna?" asked Catorsia, propping their chin up on their palms.

"Oh, alright," said Hrefna. "You two sit tight now, cause it's story-tellin' time."

Catorsia and Stenzin shuffled as they ensured they were in the most optimal position for comfort and listening.

"Have you ever heard," continued Hrefna, "of the myth of Chalcum and Perennium?"

"I read a little bit about that." muttered Catorsia.

"Perennium's covered pretty heavily in the Royal Wizarding College." said Stenzin.

"Yes, yes, so you're both knowledgeable, ain't gonna ruin my storytelling jive. Anyways," said Hrefna, continuing with the authoritative tone often taken by a narrator.

"Once upon a time, there was two gods known as Chalcum and Perennium. Some say that they're still around today, represented by the star hanging in our sky and the moon that shines at night."

"Did you know that Perennium is very similar to the name for your taint?" asked Stenzin. "I learned that from the anatomists in Erminya. Real interesting fellows, them."

"What's a taint?" asked Catorsia.

"Oh, uh, it's the little bit between—"

"Shut it, you two!" snapped Hrefna. "Anyways,"

"Perennium, the husband, represents our sun. He has a poor temper, that oft manifests as heat that scorches the surface of Orium. However, despite his rage, it cannot be said that he is not very knowledgeable and wise. He's simply bad at expressin' his feelings, is all."

"Chalcum, the wife, represents our moon. She is very patient and understanding, and very willing to help Perennium in expressin' himself. At night, when she shines, she distills the rage of the previous day into the calming light of the moon and conveys wisdom."

"Orium is the child of Chalcum and Perennium, and receives all of their emotion and all of their wisdom during the day and the night. Two sides of a coin come together to make one whole world. What's important 'bout this whole process, is how Chalcum distills Perennium's wisdom."

"The artifact we be lookin' for is known as The Chalice of Chalcum. Said to be used by Chalcum herself to catch Perennium's tears and distill them into the wisdom that she shines upon the world at night. This artifact is very important to witchery, as it'll grant a witch wisdom and insight into the nature of things and help them learn how to do magic without actively calling upon it. Somethin' that even wizards haven't yet figured out."

"Historically, the Chalice has been passed along generations of witches for centuries, and we're a lookin' now for the home of it's last holder. An old friend of mine who was known as Idwal Carnicelli. No clue what's happened to her, but her house's the last known location of the Chalice, and we'll need it to continue Catorsia's studies."

"Story time over." said Hrefna, laying back on the blankets. "Hope that was insightful."

"So," said Catorsia. "We're looking to find a find a chalice full of some cranky old man's tears? And I need to drink that to get better at witching?"

"More or less." said Hrefna. "Most of them words I said were only symbolisms but, you get the gist of it."

"There's a Chalice of Perennium too," remarked Stenzin. "Did you know about that?"

"Right. The wizards also got a Chalice of Perennium. That's for drinking his raw arrogance. They call it pride and ingenuity, but I call it arrogance. Wizards have got the wrong idea about magic." said Hrefna.

"That's not exactly true," said Stenzin. "I don't quite like the competitive attitude, but I think the wizard's approach to magic is very interesting. Quantifying magic and trapping it in rules makes it more understandable."

"More usable, maybe. But not more understandable. Witches understand magic. Wizards use it."

"Can't we all just come together and work to both understand and use magic?" asked Catorsia.

"Would be nice if we could, wouldn't it?" asked Hrefna. "Unfortunately, this is how things have decided to set themselves up. It'd take nothin' short of a miracle to get the witches and wizards to agree to work together. 'Specially cause I'm the last witch left, and they ain't gonna listen to an old crone like me."

"Damn," said Catorsia. "So is that why you're training me to be a witch?"

"I'm training you to be a witch," said Hrefna, picking at her fingernails. "Cause that's what you asked of me. The destiny thing is only a byproduct."

"I see." said Catorsia.

"So wait," said Stenzin. "Are you suggesting that perhaps the two Chalices could be brought together?"

"I ain't sure where anyone suggested anything like that, boy," said Hrefna. "But I like how your mind works. Bring the two together and make some kind of a… Chalice of Orium. That'd be quite nice, I think. It'll take a few generations of cooperation to get anywhere near the Chalice of Perennium, though."

"Yeah," sighed Stenzin. "Not even the upperclassmen have any idea where the Chalice is kept. It's a closely guarded secret. Only the Chancellor really knows."

"Maybe years down the line, our Catorsia here will be havin' a talk with him, then." said Hrefna.

"Ain't that right, Catorsia? Catorsia?"

Hrefna turned her head to see Catorsia sound asleep, curled up in a mass of blankets.

"Ah. Guess all that walkin' in the wind tired 'em out." she said.

"Tired me out quite a bit, too." said Stenzin.

"Get some better legs." said Hrefna.

"Sorry, I don't really know how."

"Just get 'em. You don't have to know nothing, but just say to yourself 'I'm gonna keep walking.' and really train your feet to listens to you."

"Whatever you say, grandma," said Stenzin, yawning. "I think I oughta be falling asleep now, too. Good night, grandma."

"Good night, Stenzin." sighed Hrefna, as the two of them curled up in blankets and fell asleep as well.

Catorsia found themselves floating in a blank white space. Rather, it was not themselves who was floating, but a being from who's perspective they were seeing inside of their dream. In the middle of nothingness, something existed, and swam carelessly through the void. Catorsia was helpless to do anything but watch, and share in the thoughts and feelings of this entity.

Throughout their mind poured a deluge of thoughts, mismatched words and phrases, little bits and pieces of information, useless trivia, important mathematical formulas, and so much more. All of it completely useless now, but stored away inside of this head for safekeeping. It wanted more.

Somewhere in the whiteness, a flash of red light erupted. Now that looked interesting.

The beast slowly swam through nothing, approaching the source of the interesting burst of light. Soon enough, Catorsia could see through it's eyes… their very own world, highlighted by the light of The Spell.

The next morning, the party set off once more.

They now found themselves in front of a rundown shack, barraged by the roaring winds just as they had been for the past few hours. As they approached the house, the familiar cry of The Spell rang out once more, as it coursed through an obelisk not far from the shack.

"Looks like we've made good time," said Hrefna. "This is the place."

"This is Idwal's house?" asked Stenzin. "But it looks so… old. Even older than it should be."

"That's the thing with witch's houses," said Hrefna. "They're oft much older than their owner. Houses were inherited, back then. Nowadays, the wind makes it hard for any permanent structures to be erected. That's be why I only live in a sturdy tent in a bowl of rock. Catorsia'll inherit that too, one day."

"Huh?" asked Catorsia. "Sorry, what?"

"You doin' alright?" asked Hrefna. "You've been rather spacey today."

"Oh. Yeah, I'm fine. Just thinking."

"Thinking about what?" asked Stenzin.

"A dream I had last night."

"Must've been a very interesting dream to be keepin' your mind busy so long after you's had it." remarked Hrefna. "Mind tellin' us?"

"Maybe when I've got my thoughts together." said Catorsia.

"Fair 'nough. Anyways, we're at Idwal's house. She's not around to answer, so we'll have to let ourselves in."

"How exactly are we going to do that?" asked Stenzin. "Is there a secret key around back?"

"Nope," said Hrefna, stepping confidently up to the door. "Just gonna give it a good ol' kick!" she cried, as she did just that.

The whole shack rattled at the force of Hrefna's boot striking the door, but the door itself did not budge.

"Damn. That's sturdier than I remember." she remarked. "Or maybe I've just gotten too old."

"Should I give it a try?" asked Stenzin. "I don't really go to the gym, but my textbooks are quite heavy and I often have to run to class. I'm bound to have some good strength in my legs."

"Sure, go ahead."

Stenzin ran up and kicked the door. It flew off its hinges, and barreled into the room inside as the entire shack shook.

"There," he said. "All done."

"I loosened it up for ya." muttered Hrefna, as she stepped inside. Catorsia followed.

"It's quite dingy in here," said Catorsia. "Looks like it hasn't been dusted in nearly a century."

"It hasn't," said Hrefna. "As far as I know, Idwal didn't survive The Spell."

"Oh. That's sad."

"Yeah, but live and let live. No use cryin' over dead milk, or spilled friends." said Hrefna.

"Is that how it goes?" asked Stenzin.

"Probably not." said Hrefna. "But I ain't got time for correctin' metaphors."

"Where will we find this Chalice?" asked Catorsia.

"Oh, just somewhere. She didn't tell me where she kept it. We'll search the upper floor first. Stenzin, you get the kitchen and bedroom, Catorsia, the bathrooms and the garden, and I'll get the living room."

"Okay." said Catorsia, as they entered the rundown shack's bathroom.

"Upper floor?" asked Stenzin, looking around. "Is there more than one?"

"There's a basement," said Hrefna. "Only I knows how to get in it."

"Oh. Alright." said Stenzin. "The kitchen and bedroom, right?"


And so, the party of three began their search.

Stenzin searched in every cupboard, in every drawer, in every pot and pan, and even inside of the oven. Finding nothing, he moved on to the bedroom, and again searched every drawer (except for the one full of panties. The woman may have been dead for nearly a century, but he wasn't about to peek on a lady's underwear.) and even under the bed.

Catorsia searched the bathtub, the medicine drawers, the sink, and even stuck their hand down the toilet. Finding nothing, they moved outside, and picked through all the decaying herbs and the thriving weeds abundant in the garden.

Hrefna searched under every piece of furniture in the living room and on every shelf. Finding nothing but a mouthful of dust, she decided to discontinue her search and had a coughing fit on the couch. A few minutes later, Stenzin and Catorsia returned empty-handed.

"You—" Hrefna coughed. "Find anything, yet?" she asked, attempting to stifle another cough.

"Nope." said Catorsia.

"Nothing." agreed Stenzin.

"Alright then," said Hrefna. "Guess she must have hid it in her basement. Follow me."

Hrefna led the pair out of the front of the shack, and around to the side, where lay a wooden hatch embedded in the ground. She lifted it up, and covered her eyes in anticipation of the billowing cloud of dust that its movement released. When the dust had settled, she began to climb down a ladder, and disappeared into the darkness.

"Oh boy," sighed Stenzin. "I can't see a damn thing down there."

"I can see just fine." said Catorsia. "Oskers have good eyes."

"Well? What are you two waiting for? Come on down!" called Hrefna.

"Your grandson doesn't wanna come down cause he can't see anything." said Catorsia.

"Hey! I didn't say I didn't wanna come down!" cried Stenzin.

"Whatever," said Catorsia. "Hrefna, can you do anything for him?"

"Yes, just help him get down first."

"Alright, you heard the woman. Down we go." said Catorsia, dragging Stenzin along with them down the ladder.

The climb was a lot shorter than either of them had anticipated, and Catorsia planted their feet a tad too heavily on the ground.


"Are we d-d-down yet?" stammered Stenzin.

"Yes, you blithering fool, you're both down." said Hrefna. "Catorsia, lead him over here."

Stenzin felt himself pushed into the darkness. For a brief moment, every cell in his body screamed in terror. Then, he felt the waiting arms of his grandmother take hold of him. And soon thereafter, he found that he could see. He knew that it was still pitch black, but he could see through the darkness as though it were not there at all.

"What did you do?" he asked "How did you do?"

"Just a little night vision spell." said Hrefna. "It's quite easy. Surprised they din't teach you it."

"They might have," said Stenzin. "I didn't really pay attention during the early lessons."

"Naughty boy," said Hrefna. "You should be paying attention all the time! Never know what you might miss. You got that?"

"Yes, grandma."

"The basics of it," said Hrefna, as she started to walk down the hallway, motioning for the others to follow, "is that 'darkness' is just kinda the absence of light. So, you's simply tell your eyes to just not see the darkness, and see what's really there. That make any sense?"

"Not really." said Stenzin, as he followed along.

"I don't know why you need a magic spell to do all that," said Catorsia. "Oskers can just do that."

"Feline eyes." said Hrefna, as they rounded a corner. "Anyways, here we are."

Standing before them was a tall metal wall with an archaic mechanism set into it. A square composed of 12 smaller squares, with a horizontal box and one grey square sitting above all of the others. On each square was inscribed a numeral, and a couple of symbols that neither Stenzin nor Catorsia recognized.

"What is that thing?" asked Catorsia.

"Looks like some kind of door," said Stenzin. "But I'm not sure how you're supposed to open it."

"Stand aside." said Hrefna, as she stepped up to the plate set into the wall. "Watch carefully. Or not, don't really matter."

Catorsia peered at the plate as Hrefna pointed her index finger towards it, and used it to press the squares in a certain sequence.

Five… seven… two… three…

As Catorsia watched, each number that Hrefna pressed appeared in a horizontal box above each of the squares. Then, suddenly, the grey square set above the plate changed color, lighting up a bright green. The text in the horizontal box now read "ACCESS GRANTED."

The tall metal wall split in half at the middle, and the two parts of the door receded into the wall, save for a little pedestal on which the plate was inlaid.

"Woah," said Catorsia. "How did you do that?"

"Magic." said Hrefna, as she stepped inside. Catorsia and Stenzin followed, each stopping to marvel at the walls, where the metal door had seemingly disappeared. Then, as they entered, the door closed back up behind them.

"Wait—" said Catorsia, almost dashing back out of the door. "The door!"

"Calm down," called Hrefna, waving a hand dismissively. "There's another keypad on this side too."

Sure enough, a copy of the same strange mechanism consisting of squares and numbers sat on the interior side of the door. Catorsia put a hand over their heart, took a couple of deep breaths, and then turned around to catch up with Hrefna and Stenzin.

As the party walked down the hallway, overhead lights popped on seemingly automatically, catching both Catorsia and Stenzin by surprise. Hrefna, however, was not surprised, and again dismissed the lights as "Magic."

Catorsia looked around nervously, examining the metal walls of this hallway they had found themselves in, and keeping an ear out for suspicious sounds. They hoped to Perennium — no, to Chalcum, that they would not hear anything.

But Chalcum must have been too busy listening to Perennium's woes to listen to prayers.


Skitter, skitter.

Strange, organic sounds quietly filled the hallway. No one but Catorsia seemed to notice them.

"How much longer do we have to walk for?" groaned Stenzin, as he trudged along after Hrefna.

"Not too much longer," she said, diligently marching onward. "Idwal's basement is large, but it ain't massive. Must hand it to her though, she went to a hell of a length to keep this cup secure."

"Did she build all of this just to h-hide the cup?" asked Catorsia, looking around nervously.

"Well, she did many other things down here too, but I reckon the Chalice was a pretty big factor."

"How long did it even take her to build all this?" asked Stenzin.

"Couldn't tell you. She wouldn't even tell me if she actually built it at all, if she somehow founds it under her house." said Hrefna.

"F-found it?" asked Catorsia, their eyes darting to a corner of the room as they heard another skitter.

"Orium has a long and shaky history," said Hrefna. "This could well've been an ancient ruin of some sort."

"How would you know how to get around here, then?" asked Stenzin.

"Easy," said Hrefna, as the party stepped out into a large chamber. "She showed me how."

Stenzin looked around the room in awe. Catorsia, however, spun their head wildly, as they quickly tried to take in the entirety of the room. The squelching and skittering was loudest here.

"Here we are," said Hrefna. "This is where she must've kept the Chalice."

In the center of the vast room there stood a large glass display case. Sitting on a cushion in the center, was a large and ornate silver cup, inlaid with pink sapphires. There was no other ornamentation in this room, and it was immaculate, as compared to the somewhat ruinous appearance of the hall and the rest of the rooms the party had stumbled across on the way there.

"Wow," said Stenzin. "You'd think she would have hidden it better than that."

"The prize at the end of the labyrinth," remarked Hrefna. "Took us forever to find our ways here. Glad to see it out in the open, honestly."

"W-well," said Catorsia, stumbling towards the glass case. "Let's just g-grab the cup, and get out of here."

"Agreed." said Stenzin, as he and Hrefna stepped forwards.

"Another keypad on this one," said Hrefna. She stepped up to a mechanism identical to the one on the door, and punched in another set of numbers.

Six… two… three.. four…

The glass display began to lift off of the ground, receding into the ceiling. Stenzin and Catorsia watched with awe—

— and then abject terror, as the glass shattered into a million pieces, and a large, squelching, something crashed to the ground.

As it landed, there was an awful crunch and a splatter of red liquid.

Stenzin and Catorsia both screamed in utter horror.

"What in the name of—!" cried Hrefna, jumping back from the case holding the Chalice of Chalcum.

The mass of flesh that fell before them all grew a pair of chitinous legs, and stumbled up to its full height. A hundred faces set into the mass turned and stared, accosting the intruders in their domain. One face at the center of them all began to speak, the beast's words ringing out in a hundred voices.


"Oh, no," said Hrefna, stepping up and accosting the beast right back. "No, no, no. You ain't havin' our souls."

"Grandmother, what are you doing?" Stenzin whispered, harshly.

"If you don't mind—" continued Hrefna, staring the beast in all two hundred of its eyes, "I'll just be taking this Chalice and leavin'. How's about that?"

The beast roiled around her.


"Well, who's is it, then?" asked Hrefna. "Is it yours?"


"I see," said Hrefna, turning to look at Catorsia. "Don't you think you're a bit overdue to pass it on, though?"

Catorsia tilted their head, unsure of what the elder witch was trying to convey to them.


"Really now?" said Hrefna. "Why don't we see who you really are, then? We can't exactly be goin' around sayin' we own things, if we can't be providing identification, can we?"


"That's all fine and dandy, but not in the eyes of the law, it's not." said Hrefna. In the middle of her pause, she mouthed a phrase to Catorsia.

Suddenly, Catorsia understood. Through their horror, they called upon the magic.

It came slowly, and then all at once, just as it always had, reacting to the vivid imagination locked away inside of their skull. As they called out, they began to imagine another scene…

In a rundown shack in the middle of nowhere, there lived a little witch. She was not nearly as old as many other witches, but not nearly young enough that she couldn't be recognized as a woman. It was a confusing period of her life, where people judged her age at their whimsy. She was often called young for a witch, but everyone had to start somewhere, right?

She was well into her forties by now, but the most well-known and respected witches were eighty or above, and treated her as little more than a mere child. She hardly considered herself learned in the art of witchcraft, and would never have dared to call herself accomplished — not for another thirty years, at least.

And yet, despite all this, she had already trained a younger witch. She had come to her, rather than any of the other witches, for the others would not give her the time of day. She was a young lass, with curly ginger hair and a slightly bedraggled appearance, but she could tell she had a heart of gold and was truly willing to understand the way the world worked.

The worldview of a witch was too complex to fully explain, and differed from witch to witch, but at its very core was the idea of understanding. Idwal had been more than happy to train the younger girl, showing her the ins and outs of magic. When her training was over, she left to forge her own path in life, but made sure to keep in contact.

Now, Idwal sat alone in the comfort of her decaying home. Her few accomplishments in life had amounted to the training of another witch — another headstrong young girl determined to understand the world and bend it to her very will — and the acquisition of an ancient coven artifact. Its last holder had been her teacher — a woman by the name of Agrona Grimhilt, who had often cited Idwal as her greatest student.

The Spell was coming. She could feel it in her bones.

Idwal had no idea what exactly was coming. Her sight of the future was limited, coming often in premonitions and prophetic dreams that took longer to parse than she deemed worth it— but something for sure was coming. Her mind had dubbed it "The Spell," knowing that once it had been cast it would become a legend and be known by nothing other than that name.

The magic would soon go wild. Idwal sighed, and exited her shack, climbing down the ladder to her extensive basement. If she was going to do it, it might as well have been today…

But all would not go well.

The red light of The Spell soon thereafter washed over the world, drowning everything else out.

It could not have been avoided, said a voice in Catorsia's mind.

Suddenly, Catorsia could see the beast for what it really was. The spell they had cast this time around was not merely the Second Sight — no, it was something entirely different, something that Hrefna would later call "the True Sight."

Their eyes peered through the mass of flesh and past all one hundred of the faces set within it, stabbing through the beast with vision alone and dissecting it, until they had found its very core. There, sitting at the center of the beast, was a form that Catorsia knew must have been one Idwal Carnicelli.

"Hrefna!" they cried, "It's Idwal! She's in there!"

"Good, good," said Hrefna, "she still alive?"

Catorsia peered again. "I can't tell," they said. "If she is, she won't be for much longer."

SILENCE, WORMS. said the beast before them, OUR HUNGER CONTINUES TO GROW.

"Yeah, yeah," said Hrefna. "You won't be hungry for much longer."


"Maybe some other day," said Hrefna, yawning as she tapped the beast with a finger. With their True Sight, Catorsia saw a beam of bright white light shoot from Hrefna's core and suffuse the beast's flesh.


The sound of a hundred voices cut off as the mass of flesh violently exploded, coating a majority of the room in decaying flesh and rotted blood.

Sitting at the center of the gore and giblets was the witch Idwal Carnicelli, coughing violently.

Hrefna rushed towards her and held her, wiping off her face and patting her back

"Sh, sh sh sh…" she said. "It's alright. You're alright."

Stenzin quietly backed up and wiped off the fresh coating of guts from his face, before turning around and throwing up.

"I think I'm going to be sick," said Catorsia, turning around to follow suit.

"Wh-where am I?" asked Idwal, pausing to cough. "What's happened?"

"You're in your basement, Idwal." said Hrefna. "In the Chalice's room."

"Hrefna…?" asked Idwal.

"Yes, it's me." said Hrefna. "In the flesh."

Stenzin threw up again.

"Sorry, poor timing." muttered Hrefna.

"Hrefna… but you look… you look so old." said Idwal.

"Ouch," said Hrefna. "Din't need you to tell me that."

"How long was I out?"

"About eighty years."

"Oh, Chalcum. What's happened to the world?"

"Dead, mostly." sighed Hrefna.

"Gods," said Idwal. "I guess I was right, then."

"Suppose so." said Hrefna. "You might've messed up a bit there on the execution, though."

Idwal looked around the room and surveyed the rotten flesh coating the room, and blanched.

"Oh," she said. "Guess I did."

Hrefna held up the Chalice of Chalcum. "Anyways," she said. "As you can see, I'm here for this cup."

"The Chalice?" asked Idwal.

"Yup. Trainin' a new witch, I am."

"Oh. Well, in that case, take it."

"Sweet." said Hrefna. "Take care, Ms. Carnicelli."

"Wait—" said Idwal, standing up quickly. "Could you take me with you, too?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Thank you. I'll explain everything later."

"Alright everyone," said Hrefna, turning around to address Catorsia and Stenzin. "We've got our cup, and we've got a friend as a bonus. Who's ready to go?"

"Me, oh Perennium, me!" cried Stenzin, holding his hand up high.

"Sure." muttered Catorsia.

And so, the party of four turned around and set on their way back home, retracing their steps through the labyrinth of Idwal's basement. As they left the room that held the Chalice, Catorsia's True Sight began to fade. Taking one last chance to survey the room before it was gone, Catorsia saw a hundred ghosts slowly rising from various patches of flesh. As they ascended, the ghosts noticed their onlooker, and began to wave.

Catorsia waved them goodbye, and left.

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