In the highest days of Elder Magick, each village or hamlet — even perhaps, a fork in the road — enjoyed the protection of a Conjurer or Mage. Perhaps the smaller villages might share a Conjurer with their neighbors, though disputes often arose. Although such spells are possible, it was never wise for a Conjurer to split himself in halves or quarters and divide his attention between villages. That particular practice was what led to the unfortunate case of the moaning stones of Foutaise. Few remember these days, but Jean-Luc the Sagacious, Conjurer of Western Arbres, frequently copied himself, in order to meet the demands of three lady friends, five villages, and the port of Foutaise. After a nasty encounter with the local Sphinx, Jean-Luc ended up divided into six confused, and utterly disembodied parts. The hapless Conjurer’s only alternative was to embody his half-dozen divided selves in a group of barnacle-encrusted rocks at low tide — which to this day, moan and groan at the coldness of the water whenever the tide comes in. Of course, at high tide, no one can hear a thing the rocks are saying, and should you wish to question Jean-Luc, it is best to go early in the morning on days where the tide is at its absolute ebb.
A far better choice for the well-prepared Mage is an Avatar. An Avatar is merely a shadow-copy of the Mage’s observational powers, and it will serve to warn the populace of impending Magickal danger, as well as allow the Mage, properly-prepared, to see just what trouble may be brewing while he or she is away.
And as all good Conjurers know (few enough though they are these days!), the very best sort of Avatar is small, portable, of pleasant demeanor and responsible nature. For this purpose, I have always found that the small sea Tartal is quite the most reliable vessel.
One must get them when they are quite small. Indeed, that is how I learned of the plight of poor Jean-Luc, the no-longer-Sagacious. Sitting at low tide among the oyster beds of Foutaise, I was observing a clutch of sea Tartal eggs about to hatch, with the intent of selecting four or five of the most vigorous infant Tartals as they emerged from their shells and made their way to the water. The moaning rocks quite clearly called out my name, and I recognized Jean-Luc’s tone of voice. As he owed me a fair amount of money as a result of his utter inability to hurl a quoit with any accuracy, I did not answer. Instead, I scooped up the little Tartals, threw them in my sack and left rather quickly, as some boys were approaching with stones in their hands.
I’m proud to say that at least one of these little fellows survives today, although he has taken a hardened shape, like unto a silver pin or ornament. In my present position, it provides me with no little pleasure to see his adventures from time to time. He is currently in the possession of a lovely young woman with long wheaten hair. I rather think she may learn a few tricks from my Avatar, though of the group, I imbued him with the least of my powers. But for Lalume, even the lesser powers — are powers indeed.