An old story, reposted here as I’m shaking the mothballs off Ankona and needed an easy way to show people a little bit about the (batshit) things she gets up to. Enjoy, and don’t be too creeped out!
It really was a pretty thing, now that she got a good look at it. The polished blonde wood and glinting enamel was cleverly made, and shone with a soft reflectiveness that suggested – once it was properly installed – that it might even have the look of being wet, like a real eye. It fitted together without a seam – she’d been sure of that, nothing to catch on soft tissue or eyelashes.
Ankona had spent the better part of three days preparing to turn it from some wooden bits and various herbal components into as close as she could come to a functioning eye. Verdus was recovering well after his treatment at the lake, and his subsequent cleansing by Ambika, and she hoped to have his eye done in short order.
She looked at her pipe. She’d need to be smoking soon – this kind of work didn’t respond the same without the sacrifice of pipe leaf. The Elf would gripe at her, but eventually she was going to have to smoke around Verdus too. She’d open the windows, but there was no getting around it. For now, though, she was away from the recovering Tauren, and probably better for it too. The fewer questions he asked, the fewer interruptions she would have. This was going to be a tricky bit of work.
Lighting several large taper candles, she settled down to work at the table in the little inn she was staying in. She had paid good money to not be interrupted tonight. Set out in front of her was the now much smaller, leathery looking, salt-and-heat cured eye, which thankfully was only unpleasant looking and not unpleasant smelling any longer. Next to it sat a small candle, barely wider than her little finger, several vials of oil, pouches of herbs, a mortar and pestle, pen, ink, and parchment, a tiny stone with a hole drilled through it, strands of red and green thread, a needle, and an awl. Her bone and shell rattle sat nearby, as did her raven wing fan.
She lit a little disc of charcoal and piled it with resin, stocked her pipe and lit that too, and settled in to work her magic.
Thick smoke filled the room, filled her lungs, and she found her trance. Taking up pen and ink, she slowly, painstakingly, created a sigil on one side of a tiny piece of parchment. Within the sigil, no bigger than an egg, was a bear, a lion, a stag, a sleek orca, a large bird, an owlbear, and a tree. The figures danced within and about each other in a dizzying pattern that seemed to shift around the edges of the parchment. On the other side, she wrote Verdus’s name in Shu’halo characters, so many times as it took to fill the paper.
With the needle, she wrote his name into the waxy flesh of the little candle, spiraling around and around, until the whole surface was covered. She counted out herbs and woods into her mortar and pestle, pounding them into a fine dust. Kingsblood, Terocone, Icethorn, Peacebloom, Lotus all went into the mix. Then the dust went onto a piece of black silk cloth, spread on the table. She uncorked the vials of oil, dressing the candle with each one in turn, and then rolled the candle in the herb dust until it was fully coated with oil and herbs.
With a flick, she lit the dressed candle and dripped some of the wax on the parchment, before standing the candle in it to burn down while she did the rest of her work. This was the easy part.
She relit her pipe, and began a soft chant under her breath, making it up as she went along, about Verdus seeing the truth of things, and seeing through things, and seeing colorful things, and seeing everything. Taking up the needle and red thread, she carefully stitched the little stone over the pupil of the leathery, preserved eye, so it appeared to be looking through the hole. As she worked, leaves began to appear in her hair, blue to match the mohawk at first, and then turning to green and gold. The chant turned into a soft song.
With green thread, she stitched the sigil onto the back of the eye, tiny painstaking stitch after tiny painstaking stitch, careful never to prick her fingers with the little curved needle. Once the symbol was clear, she rolled the entire eye in the herbs on the cloth, careful now not to touch it with her fingers, only with the cloth.
The candles burned lower in the room – the small one she had so carefully dressed was little more than a smudge of wax now, completely covering the parchment sigil.
In the cavity of the newly constructed wooden eye, she lay the wax-soaked parchment, sigil side down. On top of that she lay the decorated eye, as though its pupil was looking through the pupil of the wooden eye. She relit her pipe, the room now thick with choking pipe smoke and resinous incense.
Taking up the rattle, she began to sing in earnest, her skin taking on the appearance of bark, twigs sprouting from her shoulders and hair, full leaved and vibrant. With each pass of the rattle, Ankona grew less, and the Tree grew more.
After some time, with hands stiffened into bark and wood, she set down the rattle. Using the herb covered cloth, she snapped the two sides of the eye together. With a soft click, they joined as one piece – and with a wave of her raven fan, the seam melted into nothing.
The eye glinted in the candlelight. After getting rid of the remaining herb dust, She wrapped the eye, carefully, in the black silk cloth, passed it three times through the incense smoke, and then blew a lungful of pipe smoke into it, as though to give it life of its own.
Ankona set down her pipe, song fading, and her skin slowly regained its supple blue hue. The wrapped, enchanted eye now only needed to be bound to its new owner – and that would mean going back to Verdus.
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