[So, you’re an enchanter, then?]
“Yes, I’ve trained for it my whole life.”
[Did you pick it up from your family? I know it's not an easy profession to come by.]
“I wasn’t really a family man because I didn’t have much of one.”
[Are you married?]
“No. Artificing pays the bills. And I’m left enough time to care over what truly matters. But you don’t want to know about that. You want to know about my craft.”
[Formally, yes. I have a questionnaire.]
“That’s alright. ‘Questionnaire’ away.”
[Right, well. How many enchantments have you managed to artifice throughout your lifetime? Approximately, of course.]
“Oh, that’s… wow. I suppose something like 3,000? Maybe more than that.”
[Goodness. That’s quite a few. Right, next question. What is your academic background?]
“None. Officially, anyway.”
“No. I learned it all from books and practice. Trial and error.”
[Is it to be assumed that your apprentices have followed in your footsteps?]
“That’s right. No formal education to speak of. But I assure you, I’ve worked hard. As has my Lily.”
[Ah. So merely apprenticeship, then.]
“Apprenticeship. No ‘merely’ required.”
[Okay… so… what is the most interesting thing you’ve ever enchanted?]
“The several people that I’ve dated! That… that was a little joke. Erm, probably the mechanical cat. It was basically unkillable and replaced a child’s dead cat named Cinder.”
[Fascinating. I see you’ve made another one; I passed a mechanical cat on the way in.]
“Oh no, same one. That’s Cinder. The cat outlived the kid, so now it's mine.”
[Ah… What is the most disturbing thing you've ever enchanted?]
“Well, that's a little hard to pin down. In fact, I'm not sure I even want to. I've enchanted a whole manner of things, not that I need to advertise.
The most disturbing thing I've ever enchanted-- that I will tell you about-- was a crib. Yeah, like in a nursery. Yes, for babies.
“It was a man who asked for the crib. I thought he was a father or a loving uncle or something, at first. But he really wanted the dimensions to be just right, if you know what I'm saying.”
[What was so special about the crib?]
“Simple, it needed to be able to hold a living 'object' approximately three-hundred pounds in weight, two-foot four in height. I asked what kind of baby he was raising and he paid me extra to ask no questions.“
[That didn't strike you as some sort of... red flag?]
“Look, I do what I do and whatever the customer uses my devices for... that's their business. I simply followed instructions and let things go as they would.”
[And what was the enchantment, then? Why enchant a crib?]
“...I constructed a crib that could communicate with other worlds.”
[How do you figure?]
“I was asked to allow the crib to amplify thoughts or voices, at first. Then, I was instructed to reverse the process, so that the inhabitant could hear what other folks in the house were thinking. I really didn't think much of it at the time, assuming it was for parents to communicate with their kid.“
[Their... 300 pound... child.]
“Anyhow, I managed to make the thing extra strong in the supports and found the most durable elixir of cotton-puff. Those pillows could make elephants sleep like boulders.
“For the enchantment though, I needed love letters from the parents. When the man said he couldn't supply any, as none such letters existed, I said I would need meaningful artifacts from the child's origin.
“At that point, he corrected me and simply requested that I refer to the customer's creature of interest as the 'inhabitant.'
“Well, I said, I'm still gonna need those articles. Preferably the kind with written communication or something of the like. After all, in order for the enchantment to work, there would have to be communication, right?”
[Like a radio?]
“Yes... Very astute, yes. Say, if you ever decide to drop the whole journalism career by any chance, I could always use a new apprentice. The last one... Anyhoodles, where was I?
“Ah, the articles. Yes, the man brought back the most bizarre and terrifying things I've ever held in my life.
“You must understand, as an enchanter I can feel objects. I can not only feel the presence of an object-- its place in space and time-- but I can feel its potential and its afterglow. If someone were to bring a gun in and ask me to enchant it, I could feel whether or not that gun is going to go off in the course of the near future.
“Many times, people have brought not just weapons, but other things with dark pasts or futures into my store. I can't tell whether or not the bad things HAVE happened or WILL happen, I just know that in some way or another, these objects are connected with those things.
“This crib was... cloudy. I don't know how else to describe it, but the object itself was like a dead lighthouse at the tip of a stormy ocean. There was something there, but I couldn't make out what it was.
“The objects the man brought in weren't so subtle. One was a tablet, one was a skull, and the other was the shell of an egg.
“All three of which were made from metal.
“All three of which had markings all along their surface.”
[And to you that was odd?]
“Is it not to you? I thought it was bonkers. I didn't recognize any of the symbols or markings. In fact, I'm no anthropologist, but I recognize the effects of age on metal.
“These were thousands of years old.”
[How can you be sure?]
“Well, for one, enchanting requires energy. Like I said before about my little craft, there is the potential energy and the afterglow energy. Both can be detected through an enchanter's touch if they have been at it long enough. And yet, some artificers from other cultures don't have this ability.
“The Chixtenzas for example. They were born without the ability to touch magically, so instead, their scholars adopted a process of studying transmutation. The longer a material, if it is energized, exists, the more falloff it emits from its surface.
“Ask any alchemist, the more lead there is on an object, the older it is. And I can tell you there were heavy amounts of lead on these three artifacts.”
[Fascinating... what happened to them?]
“Well, I went to work. Yes, the enchantment was possible. There would be no way for me to understand the language these runes were written in, myself, but I took etchings and brought them to your college.
“Dr. Diggory, an arcanologist, was able to provide feedback. According to her, there is no existing lore about this language. It could have been made up, I think she said, at first. She thought I was playing a rude joke until she studied the makeup of the materials.”
[Let me guess, the college wanted to take them off of your hands, then?]
“Oh, most definitely. But I needed them for my enchantment process and thus, one would not survive.”
[A tablet, a skull, and a shell of an egg.]
“Yes. I used the tablet. An enchantment of that kind revolves around communication.”
[And you were not able to discern what the text translated to?]
“No. But I performed the ritual altogether. The tablet was lost to the cosmos as the enchantment came into fruition.”
[Did… something happen?]
“At first, nothing seemed to happen. The ritual was a success and the tablet vanished. But as it did so, the aura on the cradle changed.
“The markings I had made began to glow a sickly green color.”
[Isn’t that normal?]
“Not for my enchantments. I suppose, if I delved into some darker shades of sorcery like the ones practiced in your college, I might have more colors. Erm, no offense intended. See, I pride myself in my pure, fiery orange glow. It makes everything feel alive.”
[Looking around your shop, I can see what you mean.]
“Yes, yes. Anyway, the cradle showed me what was to happen. I could gleam things through the magic of the tablet that told the future as it could be.
“I said before that an item can show you its past and future but the future can always be rewritten. That is what enchantment is, in a way. But now I could see new things.”
[What did you see?]
“I saw a child, poisoned by neglect and torture, its essence drained every day for some… cult. I saw the customer there, alongside the extraction process. The child would never grow up because its life was being robbed of it. And there was the cradle. Perpetually keeping the child in place, forced to endure nightmares, powering this sect of unholiness.”
[So… what did you do?]
“I gave them the cradle, of course.”
[You did… You gave it to them?]
“Yes. Of course, I added a few more enchantments, free of charge.
“See, I knew they would put the child in the cradle, that was its intended purpose. So I also could expect to favorably transfer not just the child’s thoughts from one place to another, but its very essence.”
[Teleportation… That isn’t unheard of at the college. But it is dangerous. Oftentimes, it is forbidden.]
“Right, right. Yup…
So anyways, I teleported the child to a separate, safe location.”
“That crib over there.”
[You brought that thing… here?!]
“That thing has a name. This was seventeen years ago, mind you.
Yes, I teleported her here.”
[What of the cult? Didn’t they come searching for the child?]
“Well, that’s kind of the neat part. Look, I know you’re just an administrator and all, but do you know why teleportation enchantments are rarely used? –why it is that they are often forbidden?”
[The use of a soul.]
“A corrupted soul. A soul that belongs to a demon.
And you know any organization chalk-full of corrupted souls?”
[No… you didn’t]
“Ohh but I did!
The child transferred to me, safely and we haven’t heard from the cult since.”
[You are correct, Mr. Elrich, that… is disturbing.]
“Listen. Let me level with you. That ‘creature’ isn’t what those cultists want it to be. Yes, she could have been, but now she is something else: my daughter. I’ve raised her all seventeen years of her life and they’ve been the best seventeen years of my life.
“But the thing about Lily–”
[You mean to say… the creature from the cradle and your apprentice are the same creature? And you want her to come to my college?!]
““Seventeen years, and about three months ago, I named her Lily. Lilypad, if we’re cuddling. Lily is her name, not ‘creature.’
[Is she in the other room?]
“Yes, as a matter of fact, she is. Right now, she is studying auramancy, the method through which Enchanters can read an object.”
[Do you intend to take her on as your apprentice?]
“She’s my daughter. She can choose whatever path she wants.
“But, truth be told, I think your college would be best for her.”
[And you can assure me that there will be no… demonic activity from her?]
“No more than the average teenager.”
[But she won’t, I don’t know, blow up the college or anything of the sort?]
“Look, I know she isn’t human, strictly speaking. But she’s a fireball of a student. I know she won’t be normal, and that was never the goal. No use in pretending she is something she’s not.
“She’s extraordinary. And in a month’s time, you’ll see, she’ll be the finest addition to the Wilemont’s College you’ve ever seen.”
[Right… Well, I can tell artificing runs in the family. Her scores are off the charts. I needed to know a bit about her background, and her mentor. You’ve more than covered that, it seems.
Now that the college is sure of her origins and your intentions… we do think she would make a wonderful addition to the university.]
[The scholarship is hers.]
“Thank you. Thank you. I know you’ll come to be as proud as I am. Thank you.”