Apr 18, 2019 2:46 PM
Margaret in Neuroi World
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Every day, dozens of girls the world over discover to their wonder that they're not just any little girl - they have magic. It happens when playing pretend-witch, sometimes, or when you need a light to see by and suddenly have one, or occasionally just the sudden insight that they could do something magic.

In a fishing village in a clearing in the hilly, forested hinterlands of northwestern Iberia, a ten year old girl named Margaretta makes a little light above her palm during her occasional test to see if she can do magic.

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She has magic she has magic! She knew checking every week was a good idea, she knew it! Because now she has magic and she knows about it and she has to tell her mama and papa right now! She goes running for home immediately.

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One of the neighbors' kids asks why she's in such a hurry when she passes.

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"Because I got magic! Lookit!" She skids to a halt and makes the light again.

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"A witch! Magic powers! You gotta tell everyone!"

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Nod nod nod. "I'm going home to tell Mama and Papa right now." She starts off running again, though the other kid can probably keep up with ease if they try--she isn't particularly good at running.

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Carlos runs off in another direction, shouting "Margaretta did magic!"

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Excellent. She runs the rest of the way home and calls for her parents, who come running out of kitchen and workshop respectively and sweep her up in a delighted hug.

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Margaretta spends the next couple hours showing her mana light to congratulatory neighbors, running around the house in circles, and speculating to anyone who will listen about what flying is going to be like and what her special power is going to be. Her father goes back to his carpentry for part of it, and her mother finishes sweeping the house and starts in on "something special for dinner tonight", but one or the other of them is usually available to accept congratulations and smile fondly. 

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One of the friars from the monastery in the hill shows up after a few hours, holding a book and smiling wide. "Blessings be upon us all this day!"

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"Hello Brother! I'm very glad I have magic! What's that book?"

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"We are lucky to have a short tome on the history of magic in our abbey. Father Sandros thought you might appreciate the chance to read it. Books are precious, of course, so I am to watch over it as you do so."

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"I promise I'll be careful with it!"

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"Of course. I don't doubt that. Still, it is better to be careful. Diligence is one of the prime virtues. Would you like to read it here - If I am welcome in your home, Mr. Perez - or at the abbey?"

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"Come in, by all means," says Juan Perez.

Margaretta darts over to open the door. "I'd like to read it here please." (She means, I'd like to read it now, please.)

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The friar laughs. "Of course, here we are..."

He sets it on the family's table. The title is An History of Witchcraft.

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She carefully turns over the cover, then the pages one at a time, reading the book without actually picking it up.

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It talks about the role of Witches in Castille, Aragon, and Navarra. They frequently act as messengers and neutral mediators between various lords, kings, merchants, and the like. Long ago, witches would fight with lords' armies, supporting them with flying scouting and powerful magic. Any witch who emerged would be recruited by some lord who already had the loyalty of a few other witches, and not have much choice about it. Witches cannot hold nobles' positions, so they couldn't marry the lords or knights as some wished to. They frequently were forced to fight other witches in petty wars. Then one day a great many of the witches serving evil lords against their will revolted, all at once. Most of the evil lords were killed, and the rest kicked out of power. Things were unstable for a while after that, but then two great kings formed the holdings of Castille and Aragon, and made a pact never to use magic in their wars.

Things are better for witches here now, which is good, because magic is a blessing from God. Here are some of the things Witches can do: Make pretty lights, make those lights stronger and explode-y, fly on brooms, make magical shields, and one "special talent" for each witch, such as healing wounds or bending wood like dough under their hands.

(In Navarra, witches mostly keep to themselves, though they band together into mighty magical armies if the region is threatened.)

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Margaretta is silent until she has finished the book. "I'm glad witches don't have to fight each other anymore. Being a messenger sounds fun; you get to fly around and see lots of places and be useful."

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"Many witches do that, yes. Especially young ones, who are still growing up but know how to fly."

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"I don't know how to fly yet but I can't wait to learn! And I want to find out what my special is."

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"I believe the Father sent a horse to the estate of our lord Marcus. As I understand it, the Witch who carries missives from the king to him shall inform others, and one of them will come here to instruct you soon."

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"That's so great! Is there anything I can do before she gets here to make my magic stronger?"

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"I am sorry, but I do not know. I haven't heard of witches making themselves stronger."

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"Okay . . . Are there more books about magic, at the abbey?"

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"There are a few, but we don't have a great collection of books about magic, alas. You would be welcome to come visit and read with us."

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