Recently, several students at Great Lakes University were waiting for a show to start at a local club. While they were waiting for the musician to come out onto the stage, a bird that appeared to be the familiar of a witch came into the room and quite deliberately perched on the students’ table. As the students engaged this bird in conversation, one of them thought to record the conversation. The following is a transcript of what the bird said to the college students.
You kids are actually the second group of Orthos I’ve heard talking about familiars tonight. Apparently a lot of you are interested in what familiars are and do. It’s a good question, and one you should all take a more active interest in learning about.
If it weren’t for familiars, human witches would have almost no use of their witchery, and what little use they did have would be unstable and potentially dangerous. Only familiars allow witches to…
What was that? Oh, me? Yes, my name is Georgietta. Of course I’m a witch’s familiar. How often do you see a metallic gold canary? I don’t think you’ll find one like me at the pet store.
But I guess this guy’s question is as good a place as any to start. Yes, familiars are all somehow different than ortho animals of their type. My friend Jesse has gills, which is not normal for most dogs. My friend Samantha has two tails, and that’s uncommon even for an Irish Setter.
I just realized: I have way too many dog friends.
Anyway, familiars all have some physical trait that marks them as separate from the rest of their species. This is how when you see a young animal you can tell if he or she is going to end up becoming a familiar. Think about that the next time you’re looking at a litter of kittens and you notice one that’s bright green.
What? You’ve never seen a young animal that was so different from its littermates? Really? Are you sure you’re paying attention?
Also, familiars have what many of our witches refer to as a “power” although this isn’t really a good word for it. Like the two examples I gave earlier, my friends Jesse and Samantha. Jesse can breathe under water and can stay submerged for longer than anyone has timed. And that makes sense to me, since he’s bonded to a Water witch. Samantha is bonded to an Air witch, and she can walk on air.
Excuse me? Did you actually just ask me what my power is? Seriously? I take it you see a lot of talking canaries. I’m just the first one you’ve seen today, is that it?
At this point, the bird somehow managed to give the impression of looking down her nose at the man who had asked what her power was. This was rather startling, since she didn’t even have a nose!
Sometimes the familiar’s “power” is a direct reflection of the witch’s Talent, like my friends I mentioned. Sometimes, the familiar has a power that allows her to directly aid the witch. I have a friend who’s bonded to a Psi, and she can help him control his workings and keep him from being overwhelmed. She’s a wolf, so we’re back to that whole I-have-too-many-dog-friends problem.
Even I could be seen as a reflection of my witch’s Talent. I can talk, communicate. My witch is a Bard. He’s actually the one you’re here to see tonight. By the way, you need to tip the bartender and the waitresses really, really well; my guy gets a portion of the tips.
Anyway, you wanted to know more about familiars. Let’s just say that we’re the reason human witches are able to do as much as they are. We stabilize their witchery. A portion of their power goes through us. We’re like lenses that focus the power the witches use for their workings.
Of course, we’re also like batteries, because our witches are stronger when we’re around, even if we aren’t actively doing anything to help them.
Several of the students began asking questions then, drowning one another out as they began almost yelling. Finally, the canary managed to isolate a few of the questions so she could answer them.
No, there’s no way to actually describe just what it is that we do for our witches. It just sort of happens passively, as part of the witch-familiar bond.
What are we? What do we look like? We’re animals.
What? Yes, some scholars of witchery do think we’re the animal equivalent of witches. And some think we’re ancient powerful spirits who have taken mortal form to help and guide witches. Some think we’re just aberrations, strange creatures that have decided to pair-bond with human witches to make ourselves stronger as well as them, sort of like benign parasites.
Do I know which one is true? What makes you think any of those ideas are? But, yes, I know what we are. We all know.
No, I’m not going to tell you. We don’t even tell our witches, what makes you think we’re going to tell you.
At that point, the lights began to dim. The bird, Georgietta, took flight.
Enjoy the show.
Sid says: I love this on so many levels, not the least of which is that we’ve been discussing the place of familiars in PCEarth. Who better to give us some insight than Ette? The more we know, the more our world grows. Familiars are vital to our witches, as partners, companions, teachers, and more. They’ve turned out to be characters in and of themselves, separate from their witches, and are simply a delight to write, especially the snarky ones (Ette).
Mickie says: What a fun little story/vignette! It does so much: gives us a nice view into Ette’s mind (and ego), and gives a nice basic lesson about familiars. Ette is such a brat! I love it.
**This story is also available on the Perfect Coven Wattpad (here).