Nine-Tailed Cat of Minich!” is what the uncles cry,
When a hammer bangs their thumbnail, or things else go awry,
And the aunties in their corner will tell you not to fret,
And be a quiet child now, lest Minich might you get!
So - who was Minich, dear boys and girls? Would you like to know of his great
and powerful magic, his mighty tower, his terrible tomcat? Then come closer, and
listen, and all shall come clear in my story.
Sorcerer Minich of Mickelby was a puissant conjurer. That means a great
magician. And he had all that such great magicians are supposed to have. He had
a great tumbly tower in the woods outside of Mickelby, hard by the river, full
of books and spells and wind-whistling turrets. He had an invisible servant who
cooked his meals, and a big red Ximaxian tomcat that was the terror of the town’s rats.
He had a long clowen staff with a nobbet of rockcrystal on the end which shone
most beautifully in the dark. He was tall, and lean, and his beard was a full
fore long, silver as mithril - oh, he looked every nailsbreadth the part of a sorcerer!
Image description, The
tomcat of Minich, part of an unusual experiment of its master. Picture
But there was one problem. For though Minich’s spells were strong, and
long-lasting, they never worked as he intended. And so his tower was made not of
black marble, as sorcerous towers should be, but of marble-hard gingerbread! His
invisible servant was faithful and a marvellous cook - but alas, it could only
prepare one grand and marvellous meal, the same meal every day. I think that you
might get very weary of even roasted pheasant and cheese-fluffed tuberroots and
Kies-jellies and kao-kao confections... every day for
years and years and years...
So - Minich was a sullen, angry man, and no one from Mickelby ever came near his
tumbly tower to ask him for help, or seek his advice, or purchase his spells. He
only spoke to his invisible servant, and his red tomcat, neither of whom could
answer him back, so I think he must have been lonely as well. And so it was that
Minich had a marvellous idea. He decided to create
himself a companion. In fact, he thought, he would make himself a wife.
Out into the woods he went, and sought out a sahnrix
pine, with its honey-tasting sap, for, as he said to his
cat, who only purred in reply, he wanted a sweet-natured woman. He felled the
pine with a sharp blue-steel axe, rather than by his magick. He collected
armfuls of wild roses, and the silvery-soft moonmoss, and
somewhere he found two deep blue gemflowers. Then he used a golden mirror and a
golden sickle, and he cut long swathes of the sleep-soothing, fascinating
nightshimmer vine, watching his actions in the mirror so
that he did not fall into a trance. All these things he brought home to his
tumbly tower, and laid them on the great stone table in the very centre of the
Then Minich set to carving, again with his hands and not his spells, and he
shaped the sweet pine wood into a sweetly rounded maiden shape. He carved smooth
arms, and parted lips, and long legs, and he joined them with the strong and
lovely sinews of the nightshimmer vine. But he left the
eyesockets empty, and in their hollows he set the two blue gemflowers, sparkling
bright. Around the delicate shape of the head he wove the moonmoss into a silver
crown of hair, and scattered rosepetals all about the sahnrixian form, that they
might become the maid’s skin.
“Now,” said he, “now to give my lady life?” He knew that
he could not create it as Avá might have, out of sheer
dreaming, nor could he implore the dark Queprur to lend him one of her harvested
souls, and as he was no necromancer, he shrank from sacrificing a human to
obtain her spirit. So he sat by his wooden maiden’s head, and thought, and
pondered what he might do. And his eye fell upon his red tomcat, washing his
tail by the fire in contented serenity, and Minich had a black and terrible
He reasoned such: A cat’s life is shorter than a man’s, and worth less - yet as
all know, a cat has a first magical life, and eight others to spare! Thus, might
he not take those nine lives, and blend them, and fuse them into his sweet
maiden, to give her the lifespan of a human girl, that she might wake to
consciousness, life, and love? And without further thought or preparation,
Minich took three long steps to the hearth, seized his tomcat, and began a
The beast struggled as it felt the energy seep from its sinews, mewling
plaintively, and the fire threw sparks as if in sympathy. Magic winds swirled
about Minich’s head, catching up cat hairs in a furry swirl and making him
blink, but never a syllable did he miss. With sheer will and concentration he
threw his deepest desires into the focus of the spell. He thought he saw the
deep blue of the gemflowers waver and blink, as if with moist life - the long
limbs tremble into motion - the pine bosom rise once, then again - and Minich
the Sorcerer shouted with triumph as the cat sank limp under his fingers.
There was a clap of sound, like the thunder that Urtengor’s hammer makes when he
hurls it through the skies in stormtime. A crackle of light flamed up, not
around the maiden on her stone table, but around the red tomcat in the mage’s
hands. And one - two - three - fourfivesixseveneightnine! - NINE
red tails sprang out where one had waved before! The cat raked Minich’s hand
with angry claws and leapt hissing away, while the stunned sorcerer stared at
There lay his carefully carved love, a perfect maiden, but alas, still as the
sahnrix pine which she remained. Blue gems sparkled in
cold pine sockets, perfect lips parted in wooden stiffness, the moonmoss growing
smoothly from a delicate pine skull. And though Minich wept, and Minich raged,
and Minich sought an undoing and a redoing of the spell, yet all were to fail in
The cat remained nine-tailed,
and the maiden wood,
and Minich sorrowing, to the end of their days together.
How do I know? Well,
I was a mouse on the pantry shelf!
And if you don’t believe me,
you can tell the rest yourself.