Releasing dangerous magic into the world began innocently enough.
Screech, eager to try his wing at things, wanted to show his master Lilith he could cast spells. And, in doing so, was about to try something no apprentice should ever attempt. You could argue he was too eager, stealing away a book from Lilith’s collection he wasn’t supposed to have. A book with no apparent title, but that seemed to call out to him. Temptation overcame Screech, and once opened, the words inside came to life.
It was on this particular and fateful night that he finally summoned the courage to cast a spell, one that had beckoned him since he had first spied it inside the nameless book. Screech squatted there in Lilith’s small library, hunched over the pages of the black tome, moonlight streaming through a small window, and illuminating words he didn’t know were forbidden to any save for the most adept wizard.
The script danced on the leathery parchment like liquid, drawing him in. Screech held his breath for a moment, the letters casting their own spell on the young owl. He was drowning in their enchantment. They beckoned, and he was powerless to resist.
The air hung still. He opened his beak and spoke. Screech didn’t understand what he read, but the words came anyway. His chanting started low, rising louder and louder with each line. Lilith wasn’t here tonight — he didn’t need to worry about waking her.
He could feel the magic building, slowly at first, but the energy quickly began to fill the room. It prickled his feathers and he felt it on his skin. Without knowing why, Screech lifted his wings to the sky and danced. His legs weren’t his own. They carried him this way and that, circling the book, spinning him around. His throat ached, raw from the power of the words. And then a sliver of worry crept into his mind. Screech didn’t have the power to stop.
Suddenly, it was over. The last word passed from Screech’s mouth, and the force that had taken over his legs left his body, leaving him panting and heaving and empty. He collapsed on the floor, the pages of the book once again still. No words moved. No magic stirred.
Screech lay there for a moment, dazed and alone. He knew he needed to put the book back. Screech was already on thin ice. Many in the Order of Owls didn’t want him to be an apprentice anymore.
He summoned the strength to get up. Screech rose to his feet and grabbed the book, holding it close to his chest to keep his balance. It was heavy, so he took slow, halting steps towards Lilith’s bookcase and placed it carefully back on the shelf. Right as he did so, Screech thought he heard something behind him. Almost like a whisper.
He turned, but no one was there. Just his imagination. That’s what Screech told himself, anyway. He took a moment to adjust his cloak and gather his wits, then made his way to the entrance, slipped out of the library, and shut the door behind him. What Screech didn’t know, and wouldn’t until much later, was that the spell he cast wasn’t simple magic. And without a necessary second spell, a portal had been left open to something very, very evil.