01 Soul Glass

By EM Malachi

The artisan shielded her eyes as she removed the molten glass from the kiln. The ethereal sand in the mix gave off a violet flare. Found only on distant Britannian islands, the arcane mineral was necessary to make glass vessels that could hold a soul. Necromancers and cultists had used this fact to control swarms of ghosts, but Yukio saw another purpose. This would be her masterpiece.

As the dangerous flare lessened, Yukio carefully inflated the glass into a perfect orb, adding her life breath to the magic glass. Her hands traced the same symbols her family had etched onto soul stones for generations, and mana danced across the inside of the orb.

The artisan carefully heated the orb again and twisted off the attached blowpipe. The glass sphere held itself in midair over a pool of water, its magic linking to the soulstones in the water below.

As she stood back to examine her work, Yukio noticed a man in a dark robe standing at the edge of her open-air studio. He gave a small clap. “We were impressed with the silver and gold soulstones you made that Minister Ihara Soko gifted to the Empress for the New Year. This though is truly exquisite work.”

Yukio gave a small bow and turned back to her workbench. There was something about the rude stranger she didn’t like, so she quietly picked up a chisel.

“We wish to hire you.”

“I am currently without time for new projects.”

“I worried you would say that. I must insist.” The stranger whistled, and a band of hired Yomotsu appeared at the treeline.

Yukio ran, but a pair of kappas caught up to her. She stabbed at the head of one of the creatures, but the chisel melted in the foul acid held there. The kappas dragged her back. The stranger was directing the other mercenaries to steal various tools from her studio. “What do you want from me?”

“You will bind a great soul back to this world.”