Yeti with bouquet. Pat Dahn, 2018.
It was a bit of a misnomer to call it “the monastery.” While it conveyed the sense of a monastic lifestyle of the Yeti Service Wizards and the isolated location, It wasn’t always purely populated by male wizards subject to a rigid set of rules. It had been over a century, but there was a time that the monastery was a testing ground of collaboration between free thinking wizards. The members of the Yeti Service would use their free time for reading, discussion and writing about the greatest wizarding issues of the day. Aside from being just a conduit for administering patrols, the monastery had several departments to maximize the magical expertise of those wizards looking to focus their talents in productive ways.
Miriam Zorlax pioneered the Department of Divination with her expert team of soothsayers located in the large attic covering the east wing of the monastery. It would be a dozen decades before Tom walked through this space but was unable to find the rudimentary control panel for the astrological retractable roof through the junk that was stored there, filling the massive space. It wasn’t of much consequence even if he was unable to channel the magic to keep the cold from rushing in. It was there that Ms. Zorlax and her colleagues would look into the hazy future to assist with locations and events for protecting the Yeti.
These divinations were meticulously logged into the Book of Cards, the source for two hundred years of future history… more or less. The divination process, especially by the undesirable wizards of the monastery was not an exact science. None of this magic was science, if it were, it would be science and not magic at all. It was in the Book of Cards that Ms. Zorlax wrote of her own divination of staring into a bowl of water in the starlight and seeing the very first exploration party to attempt the Himalayas only to be torn apart by the Yeti. That wasn’t supposed to be for another thirty years. It’s not a science, but it wasn’t meant by Ms. Zorlax to be treated as a religious text either, more of a scientific guidepost to be challenged.
Slee and Chervil would command the men of the divinations in painfully long sermons mixed with rants and insults for hours on end. The sermons were so frequent and so lengthy that many of the men bought into the changes that Slee and Chervil would make to the text. Almost none of the men ever had a chance to read the book themselves, but they all knew most of the prophecies of the next few decades. Some of them were aware of the poor record of precise accuracy of the prophecies in the book, but the majority of the men there had come to believe what they had been told.
It was these kinds of inaccuracies that lead to near disasters resulted in the Department of Divination’s abandonment over a hundred years ago and the expulsion of Ms. Zorlax from the monastery. Her name would be scrubbed from the official records and the readings of the book but it was still engraved on the entrance to the attic and whispered in the underground oral history among the men.
These Explorers were expected to come and expected to bring a world of attention to the Yeti and the Monastery, but the timing of that event was off by decades. The rest of the prophecy was pretty accurate. A team of nine Canadian explorers who declined the assistance of local guides were to hike through the northern pass to set up a base camp on the northern side of the range. It was told that they were not going to make it to the base camp location they had planned upon as they were to cross paths with the Yeti who would not be pleased at all to see them. The Yeti would not leave any survivors and the result would be that a second team of explorers would come across the bodies and the beast would be exposed to the world, resulting in an influx of fame-seeking explorers that tended to be adrenaline fueled big game hunters. This future was avoidable, but Phineas and Tom would need to act fast and they would need a lot more wizards to keep the Yeti hidden from the world and to protect the Canadians.
While the prophecies in the Book of Cards tended to have inaccuracies, they were never entirely wrong. They tended to capture the essence of the future rather than be an exact road map. It wasn’t as though the divinations were inevitable, with intervention they would be avoided, misdirected or even encouraged, depending on their nature. The society would change outcomes of events that were foretold without affecting future prophecies and without resulting in some unforeseeably terrible alternate future. Their actions did not seem to irk fate into retribution of bad luck and those in the Yeti Service tended to be there because of their over-abundances of bad luck in the first place.
Phineas and Tom trudged up the last few snow dusted, cobblestone steps to the grainy textured dark wood doors of the monastery. Both men heaved on one of the massive doors before it would yawn open. The hall was nearly pitch black to their eyes that had been out in the glare of the snow for the past five and half hours.
“No, you put it down!” A voice cracked in the darkness. Phineas was rubbing his eyes trying to make out the figures in front of him as Tom yanked him by the back of his jacket down to the hard, tiled floor.
“Who!?? Wha—“ Phineas gasped with the wind knocked out of his lungs.
“Shhhh,” Tom slapped a hand over Phineas’s mouth, “Don’t get hit with an errant spell. I think we walked into a very ugly situation. This sounds like it is Nilm finally confronting Slee and Chervil.”
“Remember your place Daniel or it won’t be the patrols you whine about, it’ll be the tower for you,” Slee sneared.
“You aren’t allowed to do this, Slee,” Phineas could just barely see Nilm waving his wand back and forth between Slee and Chervil as he spoke, “The magistrate’s bylaws—“
“There are no ‘magistrate’s bylaws’ here. There is only Administrator Chervil and Commander Slee, and you underneath our boots,” Chervil stepped toward Nilm with his wand raised.
“To hell with your boots! Expelliarmus!” Nilm dashed his wand toward Slee in a disarming spell, who flicked his wrist to deflect the spell with his own wand causing it to crack a stone pillar off to the side. With the same motion as the first spell, Nilm spun to dash his wand in Chervil’s direction “Expelliarmus!” who was able to flick his own wand to deflect the spell to shatter a stain glass window. A screech of frozen wind blasted into the hall.
Nilm stopped to survey the damage with shocked eyes as neither of his spells hit their intended targets. He clenched in anticipation of the counter attack. Slee and Chervil raised their wands in unison and at the same time they called out their spells. Slee called for a non-lethal spell to stretch out Nilm’s body in all directions as an elastic man and Chervil’s was a non-lethal spell to shrink him down to the size of mouse. The combination of these two encantations hitting Mr. Nilm’s body instantaneously was a recipe that turned the two non-lethal spells indisputably deadly.
Floating in the air, Nilm’s eyes bulged, arms and legs outstretched as the pulsates between elasticizing and shrinking at greater and greater speed until he was vibrating. He let out an otherworldly gasp before the vibrating and pulsating ended and his lifeless body fell in a heap on the floor.
The sound of a flop on the tile resonated through the quiet hall. Slee and Chervil dropped their wands, their jaws slack in disbelief. For everything they had done, neither wizard had ever made the final moral leap to kill.
“Is it over?” Phineas whispered.
“Shhh--” Tom waved a hand in the dark at him.
“Keep quiet… look.” Tom pointed into the darkness to their side. At that moment seven or eight dim points of light came into view not far from the door that Tom and Phineas had come through just moments before.
“Administrator Chervil, Commander Slee, we compel you to report to the tower to await charges of murder for the death of Daniel Nilm!” It was the fellow that Nilm had stood up for when Slee and Chervil had forced him to a fifth straight patrol, Richard Greywell, still in his large coat from that fifth straight patrol, the snow was still melting on his shoulders and dripping from his hat down his exposed ear lobe.
“Now hold on right there,” another voice cracked from the other end of the great hall, it was Vinesall, one of the most dogmatic enforcers for Slee and Chervil, “we all know those were non-lethal incantations. Nilm’s death was a accident of circumstance, and the circumstance was completely of his own doing…”
“We don’t have time for this now! There’s a dead team of explorers out there right now and we need make sure their corpses aren’t found and plastered across the front pages of every newspaper in the world,” Greywell pleaded.
“The Two were right! You were supposed to go out on your patrol as the prophecies of The Two foretold! You were just trying to get out of your duties as you always do!” Vinesall said.
“It could have been anyone to observe this, and I did not need to be out there on so many patrols in succession in the weeks before. If they really were The Two that are meant to be the ultimate protectors of the monastery, they would have only needed to send me on the one patrol!” Greywell said.
“This is blasphemy! It’s clear they are The Two and you will be missing out on the golden age that they are to bring about!” Vinesall said.
“Blasphemy!?! My god, you have been poisoned to the core by their false words and strong arming,” Greywell said.
“You will pay for your insubordination!” Vinesall raised his wand with an illuminating tip, and a half of a dozen other illuminated wands flickered on behind him dimly lighting the faces of the other members of his bully squad.
Out of terror Phineas reached into one of his inner coat pockets to pull out a smoke bomb. Tossing it on the ground in a crack, he panicked as he turned to run and a rush of fear and embarrassment coursed through his body as he tripped over a stone tile that was sticking out and he flopped to the ground and banged his knee.
“Move!” Tom grunted in a hush as he pulled Phineas back out the front door and into the cold. Shattered stained glass fell onto their shoulders like freshly fallen snow as the Monastery popped and shrieked behind them in a battle flurry of spells. Hurriedly, Tom and Phineas slid down the icy stone steps in a panic.
“Are we going to the explorers?” Phineas said.
“It’s no use, there’s just two of us and we don’t nearly have enough magic between us to make a difference,” Tom said.
“We’re leaving and we aren’t coming back.”
“But no one ever leaves—“
“There’s no going back, it’s only going to get worse here, and I’ve had enough of the madness,” Tom said.
The two refugees where knocked on their behinds and sent into a bumpy slide down the steps as the doors burst open in a fiery explosion. Slee and Chervil had regained their wands and were taking vengeance on the rebellion. The last Tom and Phineas saw of the Monastery was a single owl escaping down the mountain.