The Spirits of the Air
By Jeff Baker
I was seventeen years old, and in my third year of my apprenticeship to the Sorcerer Thabbas. Known in some places as “Thabbas, The Ravager,” a name given by his adversaries, which he lived up to some of the time.
I was cleaning the room with its western view which Thabbas used on occasion; an ancient desk in the center, scrolls and books on the shelves, bottles tightly corked in various places, and spread over the desk a large paper full of hand-drawn images of the stars, the three moons and random planets. Thabbas’ star charts, which he had been laboring on for decades. There was a bottle of ink, tightly sealed and a set of quill pens next to the ink bottle. I picked up one of the quills, trying to see what kind of bird it had come from when my jacket caught an edge of the star chart and as I stepped away, several of the items were pulled over, including a small, clear, stoppered bottle, smaller than my thumb. I lunged for it and knocked it off the opposite side of the desk. Using what little art I knew I caused the bottle to rise upward, keeping it from falling to the floor, but causing it to hurtle towards the ceiling, where it shattered.
With the shower of glass came a shower of silvery mist which formed into a silvery, transparent man who stared at me a moment, then took flight.
“You have provided me a service, and I thank you,” he said as he swirled around the roof. “I am one of the Spirits of the Air, whose powers are at the beck and call of your Master, as you are. But now, I am free to return to my brethren and I bid you adieu!”
The Spirit headed for the window but burst against the thick glass like a breath does when puffed against a wall on a frosty morning. In another instant, it re-formed and looked around the room.
“Another way, another way,” it said, almost to itself. It was looking to escape.
He was right, Thabbas was my Master and losing this tool would make him most displeased. I remembered and invoked a spell I had learned for spilled wine and used it upon the Spirit. In another instant, the Spirit was drawn to the ink bottle and sucked in as the cap popped off. Yet another instant and the Spirit spewed out of the bottle, mixed with a quantity of the ink. It floated there and stared down at itself; it was still misty and transparent, but splotches of black ink were swirling about inside it, like ink dripped into a large clear glass of water.
The Spirit looked up at me and smiled. “Do not be amazed, the air I am made of is the air of early morning, with mist and dew. Liquid blends well with me. But this is not me, so!”
The Spirit hurtled itself at the wall, poofed again into a burst of misty air, leaving the wall splotched with ink. In another instant, the Spirit was standing in front of me, staring at the closed, wooden door. Could it breeze under the door or go through the keyhole? No, there were wards of protection on every door in the house. The Spirit’s face became grim and determined and it suddenly began to swirl and spin hurling itself at the door. As papers blew off the shelves I saw the large, flat door handle twist as the swirling wind moved it and brushed the door open just enough. Then the wind was gone and I heard laughter from the hallway outside, the hallway with the open window.
My Master was not pleased. I was made to scrub the walls and floor and re-arrange everything that had fallen from the shelves. In his main office chamber, Thabbas gave me a lecture on caution and carelessness and said I would have time to think. He placed a finger under my chin and I rose in the air.
“The smallest of the Moons will be new to-morrow. In six weeks it will be full. On that night, you will be restored to the form you have now. Until then…”
A shiver ran through my body. I saw shafts of light surround me, firming into the bars of a cage. I was flat on my belly as the room and Thabbas swelled to immense size. Thabbas lifted my small cage and hooked it to a chain hanging from the ceiling lamp.
I was a cricket.
“Worry not, you will be fed.” Thabbas grinned broadly. “For the next few weeks, you will amuse me. Come cricket, chirp for your master.”