Veka was originally Vaka, a would-be goblin wizard who worked for Arnor, a human wizard/blacksmith living in a small village in the surface world. For more reasons than I can count, this simply didn’t work. But from day one, Veka’s obsession with magic was a key part of her character.

Vaka sat cross-legged, a book balanced on each knee. The spellbook on her left cost enough to feed the entire village for three months. The gold script on the maroon leather cover proclaimed it to be Theorems and Laws of Magic: A Real-World Analysis of Magical Restrictions and Requirements, by Merist Stollack, Sorcerer and Master of the Magical Arts.

The chapter titles were worse. For chapter one, Precepts and Assumptions of Magic, and the Four Founding Theorems, the calligraphy swirled like a dwarf’s beard, and tiny devils cavorted around and within the letters. What blue and red devils had to do with magical theorems, Vaka had no idea. Above the title, several well-endowed female devils held aloft an old human in billowing black robes. That would be the sorcerous master Stollack, Vaka guessed.

The effect could have been impressive, were it not for the crude clouds some apprentice had scrawled beneath the wizard some time in the past. Vaka was no expert on human humor, but even she understood the addition. While the devils still supported the mighty Stollack from both sides, he now appeared to float by the power of his own flatulence.

She wondered who had risked Arnor’s temper by defacing his precious spellbook. Or could it have been Arnor himself, at a time when the old blacksmith-wizard was young and rebellious?

Vaka instantly dismissed that thought. Arnor would sooner swallow white-hot iron than damage one of his books.

Across the room, Arnor’s hammer rang out a slow double-beat as he flattened the end of a copper bar. Vaka had a brief vision of Arnor’s left hand holding his artistic apprentice over the anvil while his right hand brought the hammer back to teach a lesson about respect. That was what she liked about Arnor. He had a goblin’s straightforward approach to discipline. If someone got out of line, he hit them with a hammer.