Fill: Captive Apparition Divination

This was inspired by a prompt from Elzibelle on FB and fills the “captive”  and “apparition” squares in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. This fill is 590 words, and is technically an off-shoot from a story snippet I wrote in February 2015 introducing the Witch Queen Shaela, and while I don’t think the story is going to go in that direction anymore, I’m still intrigued by the character, and excited her world made a reappearance.

Captive Apparition Divination

The Witch Queens have each possessed their own skills and talents, preferring certain styles and embellishments for their particular magicks. All are tasked with watching fortune and future closely to lead her people forward in prosperity, but the manners in which each accomplishes these royal duties are widely varied. Our current Witch Queen, Shaela, uses a classic tarot & is gifted with intermittent visions through her dreams, both practices of common occurrence amongst the Queens. In general, tarot cards, scrying of all kinds, readings of tea leaves or match sticks, runes and pendulums are all in the most highly favored classes, although some can be quite unique in the manner of embellishments used; Queen Amalyda’s Finger Bone pendulum was known as a gruesome but effective augur. Some scholars find the history of Royal Divination quite fascinating, and prefer to delve into the more bizarre and esoteric styles that have been used and recorded in the Royal Book of Divination.

Used only three times in our written and oral history has been the keeping of captive apparitions. The oldest is Witch Queen Estere who kept the ghost of her mother locked in a bottle of honey spirits, where it was said she had poured herself on purpose after killing her liver with the drink. Gaining the insight of realms beyond our own, while still easily communicating with talented humans, souls trapped between the worlds require a great deal of power to maintain, and raise a number of terrifying ethical questions if they haven’t volunteered for the duty.

The second instance of a similar divinatory tactic used by the Queens was the Crystal Oracle of Witch Queen Fevre. Fevre captured part of her own spirit within a scrying crystal by sacrificing the phallus she had been born with, but couldn’t incorporate into her magick or spirit, and placing it into molten glass. The polished orb was wrapped in layers of magick that protected the phallus from decay, and it was reputed to be both a nearly infallible whisperer of hard times to come, and also to have saved Favre’s life by saving her sanity. Once unburdened by its physical presence on her body Favre was one of the realms most content and happy rulers. The Queen and the Crystal Oracle were buried separately, against common custom, so she wouldn’t need to carry the burden further into the realm beyond.

Finally, the only other recorded instance of captive divination comes from Witch Queen Tuth, who summoned a minor demon and made a fairly simple deal. For agreeing to spend the duration of Tuth’s human lifespan trapped in a locked room of the castle, all reasonable needs and desires provided for but nothing tawdry would be tolerated, the demon would inherit all of Tuth’s powers upon her death. Perhaps a risky strategy had Tuth not been so mightily powerful herself, and had the deal not been so particularly good for the demon. In a lifespan that stretches millennia, where absorbing other’s power is the only way a demon can increase their own, spending the 33 years Tuth reigned as Witch Queen as a pampered house pet was very little for the demon to pay in exchange for what would likely have amounted to centuries worth of risky battles on its own plane of existence. Really, it could easily have counted the whole endeavor a vacation with profit! The deal worked out well for Tuth, the demon, and our Queendom, with the demon parting rapidly the day after Tuth’s death with no fanfare or desolation.

~~~Notes~~~
“Demifiction” seems to fit the genre of this piece best. It’s not really a story, but rather a bit of fictitious history for an imaginary world. Possibly excerpted from a text book, or the equivalent of a hobbyist’s magazine.

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