Chapter 10: Imbued Items
Jess had great contacts in the live-action role-playing fantasy world, so we spent the next several weeks interlacing classes with visits from these friends, trading massages for the advice and goods we’d need to realize our fully natural costuming ideas.
We had an ulterior motive as well: we did every one of those massages outside in that first month if the recipient would let us, as bare as they would permit, and we led every one of them in a meditation sequence afterward, selling it as part of the relaxation, hoping in actuality to find another mage. We struck out completely on that. It was looking like my guess was right: magical talent was some kind of rare mutation in humans, not something widely found in the population.
As we rolled further into October, doing such massages under cover of night was no longer practical with the turning of the seasons, and we didn’t find anyone willing to come over early to do it in the daytime under the warm mid-day fall sun. Jess’ back yard has only a few small spots that are screened from overlook from the second floor windows of one neighbor or another, so to do it in daylight was to risk being seen by someone. Such is suburbia; sigh.
We got a lot of benefit out of those sessions anyway. We got better at our therapeutic crafts, we assembled a tall stack of fabric bolts to use in our costuming, and we were fed several good dinners by grateful ‘clients.’ Meanwhile, we kept plugging away at those classes as fast as the school would let us.
October brought us a further distraction anyway.
“Davie, you wanted to go as fantasy wizards this year for Halloween,” pointed out Kaitlyn in an opening conversational gambit.
“Yeah. I’d had in mind that we’d still be in Moab where it’s a bit warmer, but this could work, too,” I replied.
“Let’s take some of this fabric we’ve worked for and make up those costumes,” she proposed. “You remember that guy Donny L-something from the other night? I got a neat pattern from him for a wizard robe. It looks nice and flowy, so it should stand out from our skin pretty well.”
“You know,” I said musingly, “one of those bolts is labeled ‘Gandalf grey.’ Would that work for this?” None of the colors were especially bright, since we’d specified that they all be naturally pigmented, and being homespun from natural fibers, it was pretty coarse, too. We wouldn’t be making any fantasy princess dresses from this fabric.
“Yeah! But I want to be Gandalf!” insisted Kaitlyn. The idea amused me, so I proposed for myself, “I could go as Radagast the Brown. We’ve got some good brown cloth in our collection, too.”
“It’ll compliment your skin beautifully,” she cooed.
I in turn thought of her fiery short-cropped auburn hair above that grey robe. “You’re going to look great in yours, too,” I said aloud.
Jess overheard this conversation and put in, “Can I be a wizard?”
“You know, that’s a great idea! We want to practice this pattern on less expensive cloth anyway. Let’s go shopping.”
As we drove to the fabric store, I wracked my brain for LoTR trivia. “You don’t want to be Saruman, right?” I queried Jess.
“Definitely not,” she replied firmly.
“Well, the other two were blue. You like blue?”
“I don’t remember much about them, not even their names. We’ll have to look that up online when we get back. The nice thing is that it’ll let us invent your character’s back-story without angering too many of the fantasy geeks. Woe betide he who breaks canon!” I intoned, earning laughter from the women.
We found a showy blue fabric on sale at one store, probably being remaindered for being too gaudy for normal purposes. It was perfect for ours.
Kaitlyn and I practiced on that bolt, almost running out before we fixed all of the problems in the original design, from our specialized perspective. The pattern was clearly not made with the needs of an actual mage in mind. Our first attempt hung right down next to the skin unless you were moving pretty fast. With a lot of experimental R&D, we found several ideas for making it flow without adding stays and such inside.
The result looked great on Jess. “I am Alatar the Blue!” she announced at the final fitting, pointing a staff that she’d fashioned from deadfall between us at the masses she imagined beyond us. “Obey me!”
“Settle down there, Alatar Blue-Boob,” Kaitlyn said, squeezing one of her blue-clad breasts teasingly.
“I shall strike thee down for thine impertinence, seamstress!” Jess continued in her boomy wizard voice.
“And I shall spank you if you try,” Kaitlyn replied, grinning. “Besides, it’s two to one.”
“I’ll happily spank you, too,” I put in, supporting my wife’s bid for power.
“Thou wouldst not dare!” Jess boomed.
We didn’t even look at each other, just picked her up over one shoulder each and carried her into her bedroom where we stripped her, tickling her into submission when she began to playfully fight back, flipped her face-down, and began a bongo duet on her squishy sedentary buns, one of us on each side.
“Stop that!” she laughed.
“C’mon, we’re just getting the rhythm down!” wheedled Kaitlyn plaintively.
“If you’re going to have your hands all over me, you could employ them more productively,” Jess tried, shifting into a more seductive tone.
So, we shifted to a vigorous Swedish style, more kneading and pounding than rubbing, causing her to groan in happy relaxation. “Thank you,” she spoke, muffled by her pillow. “Both for the massage and the robe,” she clarified.
Kaitlyn just kissed her cheek by way of acknowledgement.
After pacifying the stroppy wizard, we began working on the first of the real wizard robes, the ones we’d hoped would let us work magic while wearing them. That’s why we wanted it to flow out away from the skin: with bare feet, standing on natural ground, we hoped to pull power in from Gaia at least as fast as the robe drained it away from us, so that we could maintain a working while clothed. My hypothesis is that wizards in stories wore robes for this very reason, and I wanted to test it.
We decided to make Kaitlyn the Grey’s robe first, but when she slid the finished product down over her bare body, it hung much straighter down than the same design made from the modern store-bought fabric, touching it almost all the way down to the ground. The thick rough fabric was simply heavier.
She was frowning. “This won’t work, Davie. There’s too much fabric in contact with my body.” I saw her concentrate for a second, then she shook her head in frustration. “Nope. I just tried to stir that fabric scrap over there with a breath of air; I’m cut off from magic in this thing!” She pulled it off and tossed it onto the bed in disgust.
Staring unhappily at our first attempt lying in a crumpled heap, I said, “I wonder if we can ‘imbue’ it somehow? Take it outside and work something into its fabric pattern that will stiffen the fabric, so it flows down more like a cone?”
“What’ve you got in mind?” Kaitlyn asked hopefully.
“I dunno. I think I just want to kind of stare at the fabric, magically speaking. Something may occur to me then.”
“You mean like you did when breaking down those socks and shoes a few months ago,” Kaitlyn acknowledged, recalling a case where some guys had left their footwear behind out in a canyon near Moab, socks and shoes alike, with no intention of ever returning for them. To get rid of the litter and let the discarded material rejoin the natural cycle of elements, I’d magically unwound the long hydrocarbon chains that made up the fabrics, foams, and shoe treads, producing an all-natural pile of damp carbon emitting a wisp of chemical vapor.
This working would be constructive rather than destructive, but I’d use the same basic skill set to study the fabric, so I said, “Precisely. Put the robe back on, and let’s go.”
Since I’d be doing magic out there, I had to strip off, but I wasn’t jealous of Kaitlyn in her role as live dressing dummy. Her robe wouldn’t be all that warm: the slightest wind would send a breeze right up the skirt, and heavy as it was for a dress, it wasn’t a thing like a winter coat.
We turned the outside lights off, snuck out into Jess’ darkened back yard, and we both immediately began to shiver.
“It’s flippin’ cold tonight, Davie!” Kaitlyn complained quietly.
“Imagine how it’ll be next week on Halloween!” I replied through a developing chatter. “Remember that trick I taught you, skinny-dipping in the river, warming the water around you?”
“Yeah?” she asked uncertainly.
“If we can solve the skin contact problem, that spell should work great under one of these robes, with it trapping the warmed air,” I pointed out.
“Well, work it out quickly, because we won’t be staying out too long otherwise,” she grumped, her knees wiggling to generate heat.
“People are more adaptable than you think, Kaitlyn. Remember, clothing is something humanity invented only in about the last tenth of our time as a species.”
“Yeah, well, this isn’t Africa,” she pointed out with a sweep of her hand over the snowy back lawn.
“Sure, but there are also modern people who go naked for brief times in much colder temperatures than this. Some Finns dive into frozen winter ponds for a few minutes at a time, then go run back into the sauna, cycling between the two a few times.”
“Madness,” she muttered, but she also started looking less cold to me. Human psychology is an amazing thing.
I had Kaitlyn stand there on the lawn before me in her robe while I slipped into a Gaia trance and began studying the threads making up the fabric. As her breathing moved the fabric subtly up and down, I saw the threads buckling and flexing past each other. Experimentally, I strengthened some of the fiber bonds that got broken by the carding and weaving processes, and I saw it bend less now. I then set that working into a pattern, feeding in energy, spreading the new molecular arrangement through the cloth. As I stiffened the fabric, Kaitlyn became engulfed in a full shiver, the fabric increasingly pulling away from her body.
“I can see you, Kaitlyn!” I said excitedly.
“Y-y-yeah, ssssso?” she whispered in a baffled shiver. She jumped around a bit, perhaps to generate more heat, perhaps to demonstrate her clear visibility. “I’m right here in front of you, and the moon’s out. Of course you can see me!”
“No, Kaitlyn, I mean I can see your life presence! The cloth isn’t blocking it any more!”
A few months back, we’d done some experiments that showed that regular clothing blocked our life senses. A man in a business suit was visible only by his head, neck, and hands to that magical sense. As a follow-on experiment, I later had Kaitlyn dress up in her full skiing outfit including a balaclava and goggles, the result confirming that she became nearly invisible to my life sense.
And yet this robe was magically transparent!
“Astonishing,” I whispered.
The implications began to dawn on Kaitlyn, too. “It’s natural!” she breathed, a smile of wonder spreading over her lovely face.
If it was natural to my life sense, it might be magically transparent in other ways, so I proposed, “All right, so try that heating spell on the air inside the robe.”
She took several seconds, concentrating hard, and slowly her earlier smile began to return. “It’s warming! It’s warming!” Then she lifted me from the ground and hugged me, and indeed, she was right: I felt the toasty air whoosh out over my frigid feet, and I felt her shiver with the intrusion of cold air through the displacement. She hung onto me and reheated the air inside her robe, warming my front through it.
I kissed her cheek. “Congratulations, Kaitlyn! You’re the first non-nude mage in recorded history. Outside of fiction, I mean.”
She pulled back from the hug enough that I could see her beaming at that notion, but that look faded as she said in a concerned tone, “You feel cold, Davie! Aren’t you running your insulating bubble?”
I had in fact realized that without a thing on that I had no impediment to magic, but I had a good reason to refrain, and now that she’d demanded to know what I was thinking… I shrugged and gave a one-word explanation: “Solidarity.”
She pulled back further and looked at me incredulously. “You’re literally freezing your nuts off on my behalf?”
“In service of your comfort, yes. Such is the nature of love,” I offered with pasted-on superciliousness.
“Silly man!” she huffed. “Get yourself warm!” she barked.
My wife didn’t fool me: I saw that quirk of a pleased smile, but I did as she bade me anyway.
Once she began to feel the radiant heat added to our shared insulating bubble, she lay her head on my shoulder and swayed with me for a few moments. Eventually, she said, “Davie? This thing’s scratchy. I’m really starting to itch, and I don’t want to take it off now that I’ve got it warmed up.”
“Let me work the problem for a bit,” I temporized, then sat at her feet.
I delved back into the fabric of the robe, sending my senses along the inside surface, which showed me the problem: all those rough homespun fibers broke occasionally, and sometimes those sharp ends pointed down at the skin. Up where it touched her shoulders and upper chest most heavily would be the worst parts. Magically, I abraded and fuzzed the ends of these, fleecing the inner side of the fabric.
“Oh, that’s so nice, Davie! What are you doing?”
“Watch me work,” I said quietly, indicating that she should slip into trance with me so she could observe my efforts directly. Momentarily, I felt her presence join me, so I slowed my work back down to my initial exploratory pace, then pushed her off to work on one side of the robe while I finished up on the other. In short order, we made the entire inside of the robe nice and soft.
That task complete, we went back inside and celebrated, Kaitlyn removing the robe shortly into our revels.