THE TOMCAT OF MINICH

A SANTHARIAN FAIRY-TALE

 
Master Tribell's Miraculous Narrations   
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Introduction. "The Tomcat of Minich" is a very common story in Santharia, which every little child throughout the lands knows by heart. It is one of many fairy-tales and children stories of Master Tribell's "Miraculous Narrations" and recounts the tale of a sorcerer, who tries a rather unusual experiment with his tomcat. But well, read yourself...

 

y the Nine-Tailed Cat of Minich!” is what the uncles cry,
When a hammer bangs their thumbnail, or things else go awry,
And the aunties in their corner will tell you not to fret,
And be a quiet child now, lest Minich might you get!


So - who was Minich, dear boys and girls? Would you like to know of his great and powerful magic, his mighty tower, his terrible tomcat? Then come closer, and listen, and all shall come clear in my story.

Sorcerer Minich of Mickelby was a puissant conjurer. That means a great magician. And he had all that such great magicians are supposed to have. He had a great tumbly tower in the woods outside of Mickelby, hard by the river, full of books and spells and wind-whistling turrets. He had an invisible servant who cooked his meals, and a big red Ximaxian tomcat that was the terror of the town’s rats. He had a long clowen staff with a nobbet of rockcrystal on the end which shone most beautifully in the dark. He was tall, and lean, and his beard was a full fore long, silver as mithril - oh, he looked every nailsbreadth the part of a sorcerer!

The Ximax Cat
View picture in full size Image description, The tomcat of Minich, part of an unusual experiment of its master. Picture drawn by Quellion.

But there was one problem. For though Minich’s spells were strong, and long-lasting, they never worked as he intended. And so his tower was made not of black marble, as sorcerous towers should be, but of marble-hard gingerbread! His invisible servant was faithful and a marvellous cook - but alas, it could only prepare one grand and marvellous meal, the same meal every day. I think that you might get very weary of even roasted pheasant and cheese-fluffed tuberroots and Kies-jellies and kao-kao confections... every day for years and years and years...

So - Minich was a sullen, angry man, and no one from Mickelby ever came near his tumbly tower to ask him for help, or seek his advice, or purchase his spells. He only spoke to his invisible servant, and his red tomcat, neither of whom could answer him back, so I think he must have been lonely as well. And so it was that Minich had a marvellous idea. He decided to create himself a companion. In fact, he thought, he would make himself a wife.

Out into the woods he went, and sought out a sahnrix pine, with its honey-tasting sap, for, as he said to his cat, who only purred in reply, he wanted a sweet-natured woman. He felled the pine with a sharp blue-steel axe, rather than by his magick. He collected armfuls of wild roses, and the silvery-soft moonmoss, and somewhere he found two deep blue gemflowers. Then he used a golden mirror and a golden sickle, and he cut long swathes of the sleep-soothing, fascinating nightshimmer vine, watching his actions in the mirror so that he did not fall into a trance. All these things he brought home to his tumbly tower, and laid them on the great stone table in the very centre of the largest room.

Then Minich set to carving, again with his hands and not his spells, and he shaped the sweet pine wood into a sweetly rounded maiden shape. He carved smooth arms, and parted lips, and long legs, and he joined them with the strong and lovely sinews of the nightshimmer vine. But he left the eyesockets empty, and in their hollows he set the two blue gemflowers, sparkling bright. Around the delicate shape of the head he wove the moonmoss into a silver crown of hair, and scattered rosepetals all about the sahnrixian form, that they might become the maid’s skin.

“Now,” said he, “now to give my lady life?” He knew that he could not create it as Avá might have, out of sheer dreaming, nor could he implore the dark Queprur to lend him one of her harvested souls, and as he was no necromancer, he shrank from sacrificing a human to obtain her spirit. So he sat by his wooden maiden’s head, and thought, and pondered what he might do. And his eye fell upon his red tomcat, washing his tail by the fire in contented serenity, and Minich had a black and terrible inspiration.

He reasoned such: A cat’s life is shorter than a man’s, and worth less - yet as all know, a cat has a first magical life, and eight others to spare! Thus, might he not take those nine lives, and blend them, and fuse them into his sweet maiden, to give her the lifespan of a human girl, that she might wake to consciousness, life, and love? And without further thought or preparation, Minich took three long steps to the hearth, seized his tomcat, and began a draining incantation.

The beast struggled as it felt the energy seep from its sinews, mewling plaintively, and the fire threw sparks as if in sympathy. Magic winds swirled about Minich’s head, catching up cat hairs in a furry swirl and making him blink, but never a syllable did he miss. With sheer will and concentration he threw his deepest desires into the focus of the spell. He thought he saw the deep blue of the gemflowers waver and blink, as if with moist life - the long limbs tremble into motion - the pine bosom rise once, then again - and Minich the Sorcerer shouted with triumph as the cat sank limp under his fingers.

There was a clap of sound, like the thunder that Urtengor’s hammer makes when he hurls it through the skies in stormtime. A crackle of light flamed up, not around the maiden on her stone table, but around the red tomcat in the mage’s hands. And one - two - three - fourfivesixseveneightnine! - NINE red tails sprang out where one had waved before! The cat raked Minich’s hand with angry claws and leapt hissing away, while the stunned sorcerer stared at the table.

There lay his carefully carved love, a perfect maiden, but alas, still as the sahnrix pine which she remained. Blue gems sparkled in cold pine sockets, perfect lips parted in wooden stiffness, the moonmoss growing smoothly from a delicate pine skull. And though Minich wept, and Minich raged, and Minich sought an undoing and a redoing of the spell, yet all were to fail in the end.

The cat remained nine-tailed, and the maiden wood,
and Minich sorrowing, to the end of their days together.
How do I know? Well, I was a mouse on the pantry shelf!
And if you don’t believe me, you can tell the rest yourself.

 


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