Zema was the servant of Archmage Munin, an old mage of the Free City.
The Archmage was a forgettable man now, the once admirable and respected man now over one hundred years old. How old he was exactly was yet another thing lost in the tomes of his memory, alongside his false teeth, or when it is appropriate to wear breeches. He spent most of his nights locked up in his room on the second floor of the manor; if one was to wait outside, it was not uncommon to often hear him hold a conversation, presumably with himself, through the closed door. This caused Zema some concern, and great curiosity… it was only the Archmage and herself who lived within the house, after all. But she became used to ignoring her master’s quirks.
The Archmage, if he were to ever remember the outside long enough to pay attention, would have been greatly surprised as to how his servant spent her free hours before the rosy dawn of the new day. Surrounded by tomes and a dozen lit candles, Zema would sink into the realms of learning. She devoured one book after another, teaching herself the secrets of magic, and only stopping when it was time to begin the daily chores.
It was on the rare occasion that the Archmage Munin left the city that Zema decided to visit his private quarters. It was not something she was allowed to do – when she had first been hired, he had been clear that her cleaning duties were for the first and third floor, and only parts of the second. He, he had claimed, would take care of his own living space. Until now, Zema had respected his word.
Curiosity finally overcame her when she was finally given the freedom to explore it. What had he been doing for all this time? And what other tomes was he keeping secret, and close to him? What could she learn?
ll of this and more drew her to the door. It was not even locked – she felt a pang of guilt in her chest at the trust the old mage clearly had for her, but she pushed it aside and carried on. Zema had not come this far only to stop at the threshold of knowledge.
The room was filled with old, dusty books, glass flasks, and piles of hand-written records. Zema glanced over them but despite her extensive learning, she could barely understand a thing. This was indeed advanced magic.
It was after a while of attempting to read the first things she came across that the woman realised she was not alone.
A strange being… well, floated is the only word to describe it. It was floating in a dark corner, baleful eyes watching her every move. Zema recognised it straightaway from descriptions in the books she had read through her service to the mage – it was a spirit! And it seemed a shy one, at that. When she finally locked eyes with it, it hovered forward as if unsure.
“I am Flik” It said, its ghostly head nodding forward. “And you are Zema, I suppose? The master has mentioned you…”
This was the beginning of Zema’s acquaintanceship with her spirit – when Munin was away, Zema would continue to come to his quarters to speak with Flik, who spoke to her of many things. He was able to explain her master’s research and experiments, and build upon the foundation of learning she had so cobbled together by herself.
Flik was one of the Jans, a lesser magical spirit, but his abilities were still much more potent than of any human. The Archmage had been seeking further knowledge in the deserts of the west and had saved Flik’s life by accident during his travels. After that, he had brought the Jan with him, and the spirit had vowed to serve him in any possible way. It had been Flik who taught Archmage Munin the higher magics which had led to his powerful rank.
But, despite his success, one human life is not enough to master all secrets of magic.
Flik had become bored of sitting in the same room for over two decades. When the Archmage passed away, he quickly agreed to follow Zema and became her loyal companion. Jans are intelligent creatures, but their loyalty can be compared to that of a hunting beast to their chosen masters – they take to people fast, and do not waver in their service. This is unlike their elder brothers, the cruel and mighty desert Genies.