I needed to get away from Ela – Dog was right, she really did a number on me with her influnce spell. And I needed some time on my own anyway, so I headed out into the woods. I took a few things with me I had gathered over the last weeks to build a lodge, kind of my home away from home. A place to retreat to and to do the more complicated magic, a seat of power if you so will.
I had to ask permission from the Tree Spirit at first, it’s his home after all, but he didn’t mind. I taught him a few more songs in return. If anyone ever really listens to nature in this valley, they’re in for a surprise. But since no-one ever comes here, me and Ruby are stil the only one who have heard Irish folk songs played on rustling leaves and rushing water. He was curious about Ruby and wondered if I was going to bring her here to give birth to our cubs. When I’m told him that she’s only due in October, he said to tell her that she was welcome to hibernate in the cave with the cubs. We really are weird creatures from his point of view. Not that he’s less weird to me. I say him,but that’s just me thinking of him as male – I didn’t ask and I wonder if he understands the concept applied to himself. Something for next time, maybe.
Building the lodge took a few days and it was hard work, but I found it very relaxing. It takes a bit of climbing to get there, so it will be safe from flooding when the snow melts higher up in the Cascades. Dog had told me to try and make a Watcher from clay, but hadn’t told me how. It took me a while to figure it out – Watchers are made purely from mana and for a clay-Watcher I need to implant some of my mana into the clay, give it a piece of myself. It’s a bit like picking a lock or like doing an endoscopy – it all needs to fit just so. Those homunculi, I guess I can call them that, are not really intelligent, but do everything in their power they are told without complaints, you just need to make the instructions very clear. And you have to keep them busy, otherwise they start to complain. I can’t help but think of the golem of Prague. Who did a bit more than complain. The ones I created were more than happy to count all the needles in a pine, though, so it’s not hard to entertain them.
They are endearing little things and I stopped short of giving them names. They last for a couple of days and them turn into clay again or into whatever material they are made of. And they have no instinct of self-preservation at all. The first one I made, I told to bring back a stone I had thrown. The stone rolled into the creek and it went after it – not such a good idea when you’re only a hand tall and made of raw clay. The second one I took home with me to show Ruby who was a bit freaked out at first, she had never seen one before. It seems that not all that many people know how to make them, but I guess it’ll spread. It’s a neat little trick and useful.
I also asked Ruby if she’d tattoo me. I’ve been thinking about getting one on and off for a long time, but it never seemed like the right time. But getting a tattoo from Ruby is a very different matter, a lot more than just body art. It’s not like we can do a formal marriage and I’m not all that keen on that anyway, but the tattoo is a vow. She was the one to suggest to turn it into a focus for my magic, my masking spell. I chose a mockingbird, I like them because they are clever and fight for their family and for their ability to imitate sounds perfectly. And of course there’s To Kill a Mockingbird. If anyone ever puts all those dots together connected with that book and me, I’m fucked.
The procedure was about as painful as I had imagined it would be, but it’s not like I don’t enjoy that kind of thing. And Ruby had fun making me squirm. I can see how this can turn into something of an addiction. But I don’t think I’ll get another one in a hurry, unless there is a good reason. This tattoo has so many different meanings and if I ever add to it, it should stay that way.