In the light of a setting sun, Toby tosses small bones about the graveyard, eager to test a new theory regarding her talents. When the bones were sufficiently scattered, she tucks her black gown beneath her and sits on the mossy ground. She then hears what sounds like a series of clicks to her right. She turns her head and sees Cider, Corey's cat, staring at the belfry of Toby's church. Toby looks up to follow the cat's gaze and smiles. She speaks as if the cat understands. "Flittermice," She explains, watching as the bats fly in circles around the bell tower. "You leave them be." The cat looks almost disappointed before her attention is drawn to movement. Quickly jolting along the bottom of the outside wall was a white rat. Cider darts forward to grab it. "Cider," Toby says in a stern tone as a mother would a child. Cider leaps and barely latches onto the rat's tail with her paws. She claws at it, faint specks of blood already staining the snow white fur. "Cider stop." Toby stands to intervene but then shakes her head as Cider hurls the rat against the wall of the church. "That's not very nice." The rat twists on the ground as Cider bites into its neck. Several gashes bleed along the rats side as Toby lightly pushes the cat away. "Poor thing." Toby picks the rat up, its body now lifeless. Despite having died, she could feel its presence. Its essence wasn't gone. Not yet…
The concept of familiars and its connection to those who practice spellcraft has been embedded in folklore for ages. These entities were considered companions, spirits that offer aid. Time passed and this image shifted, often referring to familiars as ambitious fae, or outright evil demons. As all things are in spellcraft, belief and perception have a major role in how magic behaves. When the end of the world came, so did a new concept of familiars. While the influence is there, none of the above assumptions are true… not entirely. The term "familiar" is not referring to the entity itself. This isn't high fantasy here. Anything can be a familiar. Animals are always a good bet but a rock can be a familiar just as easily. It's not about what the familiar is, It's about how it is.
Ties that bind
A Familiar is anything that has a unique bond to the spellworker. It's this connection that makes the familiar what it is. I'm not just talking about being close to it, or it having sentimental value. While always present, these things are incidental, a natural reaction to what familiars are. This bond is instinctive. Almost every spellworker has a familiar, and some forms of spellcraft actually require it. A doomsday therapist has their instrument, for example. These bonds act as an extension of the self, like tethers. Once made, it can't be broken, not even in death. A spell worker can cast spells through a familiar, they can understand it as no one else can, and a single spellworker can have dozens of familiars. It's likely that there isn't much of a limit on how many one can have.
Animals are common among familiars for a myriad of reasons. While we have no choice in what our familiars are, how and when they appear, or the extent of the connection, sometimes it's predictable. Many owned pets when the world ended. It makes sense that these animals would travel with them as they explored the world. Others found their familiars in their travels, the animals following along well before their significance was known. More than anything, the presence of an animal can be incredibly therapeutic, especially if well trained. Given how complex the trauma of the touched can be, of course their familiars would often be animals.
Familiars exhibit unique traits just by virtue of being familiars. Animals will often be more intelligent than their mundane variations, quicker and stronger too. Objects can have an aura, a semblance of sentience as if possessed. These characteristics vary and it depends heavily on what the familiar is. A doll may spring to life and keep watch while their bonded partner sleeps. Musical instruments exhibit a "voice," a unique tone or pitch that it normally wouldn't have. A book may open on its own, revealing an answer to an asked question. These traits are, again, outside of one's control but they can be strengthened and enhanced through spells or good old-fashioned training.
Toby enters the church and lays the corpse of the rat on the altar. "A new friend is always welcome." Her words bounce off the walls, beckoning her other creations. A skull attached to two human hands, leaps on top of the altar. The empty eyes study the corpse for some time. "Thumble? Do you not approve?" She receives no answer. "I happen to think he would be a great addition to the family." Thumble leaps from the altar as Toby focuses on the ritual, donning her apron and lightly gripping the scalpel. Before she can cut, however, her new friend needs a name. "I'll call you Leche." She says. "I hope you like it."
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