It's a well known fact that wizards love cats. Even evil wizards. And all wizards require spellbooks. So when a sorceress named Rigalene found a way to combine the two, she didn't hesitate.
Rigalene, the Lady of Cats
She was a homebody. Rarely did she venture from the quiet stone of her isolated tower. Her only companions were her cats, of which she had many. They were her joy and her succor. They were what made her smile. They had names and personalities, and they could talk to her. Well, they couldn't really talk to her. But she she knew what they meant when they meowed. They told her that they loved their mommy. And she told the cats that she loved them, too.
Rigalene hated spellcasting. It was her chosen profession, but what had seemed so limitless in her youth had turned into chores of memorizing, rememorizing, and concentrating. She would never be one of the great wizards. All she wanted to do was play with her cats, and tend to her small garden.
And yet, magic was needed to maintain her tower and feed her cats. Magic became a loathsome chore. Washing dishes, doing laundry, and memorizing spells. Where other humans had laundry rooms, she had a library. And what a library it was!
You may have guessed by now that the Rigalene of which we speak is none other than Rigalene Taslurdoe, the last daughter of the once-great Taslurdoe wizard clan. And while she had none of her great-great-grandfather's imperial ambitions (or power), she did have one thing of his: the Athenaeum of the Annihilatior. This huge library occupied a subterranean level beneath her tower, where the hundreds of books were protected by sentient spells, golemlords, and oath-sworn djinni.
And perhaps most importantly, the entire thing was heavily warded against any sort of divination. Rigalene's great inheritance was presumed lost. And Rigalene herself was thought of as just an eccentric wizard of middling talent. Which she was, of course, but that's not just what she was.
Rigalene was not discovered until four weeks after her death. Since she had no friends or relatives, her belongings were seized by the city of Clansbrad, who auctioned off her items for some small sums of gold. Of her hundreds of cats, some were left to wander, where many of them ended up as strays in the port town of Shorterport. At least one of them wandered southwest, into the Dembraava Wilds. And about a dozen of them were taken by the wagoneer, a man named Simeon Duchess, that he might give to the children in the towns on the way back to Clansbrad. He can remembers few details of the children, even after repeated questioning.
The Catbook Spell
If Rigalene ever gave this spell a name, it is lost to us (or perhaps we just haven't found the right cat). Regardless, despite all attempts to coin a more orthodox name for the spell, it is known by all as the Catbook Spell.
We don't know how a mediocre sorceress such as Rigalene was ever able to invent such a clever spell. The mana-pflenging side weaves in the second part of the invocation alone would have taken a genius years to perfect. But then, Rigalene had decades of idle time, where she presumably spent much of time meditating on the subject of cats.
The spell is cast thus:
In one hand, a cat. In the other, a tome (or scroll). The spell, although it contains some little-used labiodental frictives, is not unduly difficult to cast. The book is shoved into the cat. Gloves thick enough to protect from claws are a necessity, as the cats are greatly surprised by the process, although it does not hurt them.
Forever more, if that cat is ever petted with a specific pattern of fingers and strokes, the cat goes catatonic, falls limp, and it's spine rolls open to reveal the appropriate spellbook. The cat is usually folded across the knee, in order for its book to be perused more easily. The cat is in stasis, and its blood and tissues are frozen in paper-thin sheets with the words printed on the inside. When the catbook is open, it doesn't look like anything except ordinary white paper and ink--the same as from the original book. When the catbook is closed, the cat immediately recovers completely (although it takes them several minutes to synchronize their blinks).
The cats are sometimes cold (as no metabolic processes take place while in book form) and may require some cuddling to restore its vigor. Five minutes is the recommended minimum, but up to fifteen is ideal.
Larger books require larger cats, while novellas will easily fit in a kitten. Attempting to 'overload' a cat, or overwrite an existing book in a cat, will result in a jumbled mix of pages. Ripping out a page has a high chance of resulting in paralysis, and ripping out several will almost always result in the cat's death. Additionally, the stasis effect is not immutable: the pages can be written on, and the ink will persist.
The School of Rigalencian Expedition and Recovery
We of the Rigalencian School (Part of the Pillar of Academy) have made it our duties to recover all the missing catbooks. The Athenaeum of the Annihilatior contains many, many dangerous and forbidden spells. Since the diaspora, most of these have still not been recovered.
For obvious reasons, we have received extensive support in order to fund such an exhaustive project for the recovery of the Rigalene's felines. But there are a finite numbers of cats in the forty-eight small towns south of Clansbrad. And there are finite number of petting 'passwords' that may be instilled in a cat. All of our agent-retrievers can perform all of these stroke-passwords in merely twenty minutes of petting a cat, in order to determine if it is indeed a normal cat or a powerful tome of destruction.
We have even recovered kittens up to the third generation, which contain faded and fragmented versions of their parent's books.
Although some have suggested otherwise, we will not terminate the cats we recover. Sharland has long upheld the universal right to life. The recovered animals are kept in the Tower of Forbidden Cats, and I assure you they are well cared for.
While cats are ideally suited for the spell, it technically can be applied to other animals. Perhaps the most unfortunate example of this took place in Basharna, with the smuggler who came to be known as Mendereen the Treasure Map. Let his unfortunate and bizarre demise be a lesson to us all.
Steal a cat. Recover a cat. Pet some cats. Chase a cat. Find all the kittens to assemble the spellbook. Destroy a cat with the spell of Armageddon written in it. Figure out why this wizard died trying to save this cat.
Learn the hard way that some of the cats are still protected by djinni.
Get the plans from a spy who has 200 pages of military secrets fused with his back. (I guess you'd have to pet him. . .)
Be that spy.
Figure out who or what is leaving you cryptic messages in your catbook.
Track down a newly developed version of the Rigalencian Tome spell and the associated feline. This particular animal records everything it hears on the blank pages inside it, although it is only a normal cat in appeance and mind. (The Catbook Pro?)