Once Master Eli placed the Magic Hat on my head, I immediately felt something probing deeply into my brain. It wasn’t some passive little look-see either. It was a painfully grinding drilling sensation that caused a massive pain between my eyes.
“Ah, you have been abused, child,” said a voice from within the hat. “You must forgive me, but I will have to remove the life-draining sex spells and take away your memories of Kronomarke’s insidious abuse.”
“Help yourself,” I silently told the voice in my head with my own voice in my head.
The memories of the naked necromancer hitting me and harming me began to dry up, shrivel, and disappear from my conscious memory. I was not unhappy to see them float away into darkness.
But I was no longer seeing the room in the Sorcerer’s Tower where I knew I physically still was. Instead, around me there was little beyond darkness.
Then the darkness parted and a glowing white stag, a white male deer with an eighteen-point rack of horns and an extremely regal bearing walked up to me. Towered over me, in fact.
“Child, speak your name.” He spoke directly into my head without any lips moving or obvious speech forming in his deer mouth.
“But that will give you power over me.”
“I already have that. I am here to help you, not do you further harm.”
“I am Derfentwinkle the lowly necromancer’s fifth apprentice. But who are you?”
“I am what you might call a demigod. I was the master and teacher of the wizard Dezmodotto. And I am the friend of Eli Tragedy. If you must name me, I am called Father of Many Erlkings.”
“I have no need to impress you. I am only here to help you.”
“How will you do that?”
“I have already cleansed your memory of most of the badness that Kronomarke has taught you. He is an evil man. You must not return to him. I will make certain that you continue to belong to Master Eli.”
“Like a slave?”
“Like a daughter. And I will give him to you as a father.”
I was stunned. No one had ever been so kind before. And his voice filled me with warmth and confidence. It would be right because Father… of Many Erlkings, made it so.
“Is Eli Tragedy really magical?”
“You ask because your magic intuitions tell you most of his magical effects are really Slow-One science and technology disguised as sorcery. You are a true wizard, and Eli is a very clever manipulator of many things.”
“Um, yes, I… guess so…”
“You must listen to him well and learn his ways. They will make you stronger.”
“And I sent the crows Homer and Bert to be your familiar… one of the two, at any rate.”
“Why full-sized crows?”
“You will need to ride them as steeds in the air. And they can be quite entertaining, those two.”
“And what is it that I feel you have put into my head?”
“Spells, beloved. Spells to keep you and yours safe. And help along the quest I must give you.”
“What are these spells you speak of?”
“You will need to discuss them with the apprentice Bob. He is known to me as a very wise and capable young man. He will transcribe them on parchment for you so that you may learn them in the way of non-necromantic wizards.”
“Can you tell me now what the spells are? By name?”
“The ones I am allowing you to keep from your necromantic training are the Ghost-Light Spell, The Turning Spell of the Undead, and the reverse of the Harming Spell, which in your hands will instead be a Healing Spell.”
“And the ones I don’t already know?”
“The Spell of Gingerbread Summoning, The Fairy-Resizing Spell, the Spell of Water-Breathing, the Alter Shape Spell, The Spell of Slow-One Summoning, The Witch-Armor Spell of Zam the Leaf-Witch, and the Spell of Storybook Summoning. These will go into your spell-book as Bob helps you translate and write it.”
“Why am I worthy to be treated in this way by a demigod? I came here to kill the fairies of Cair Tellos.”
“That is why you were sent here, but it is not why you came here and fell into the care of Eli Tragedy.”
“Thank you, Father…”
I felt faint. Everything changed around me.
“Um, I am not feeling well,” I said. “Can I lie down and sleep a little?”
I fell into someone’s arms and I was lost in the softness of deep sleep.