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Never Deal With a Wizard

by Wayne Keisler

Tremane was a powerful and well-known wizard if he had to say so himself. Well, few others recognized him as such yet, but they would. He had finished his training under a kindly old man who was quite knowledgeable. The problem was that the old man was not very powerful and all of the magic that he knew was good magic. This was magic that was mostly used for good. This was all right as far as Tremane was concerned, but he wanted to know more. He needed the offensive magic also.

So now, the old man had declared him a journeyman wizard and told him to seek his fortune in the world. The first thing that Tremane did was to go to the main city and go to the library. The thing he was after were the magical books that were kept archived there. As a journeyman wizard, he was now entitled to read from the texts that were kept there. Just anyone wasn't allowed to see them. Tremane pored over the texts, thankful that the old man had insisted that he learn to read the arcane texts.

Most of what he found was benign magic, but he did find something that he thought could help him. It was a spell to call up and contain a demon. Tremane reasoned that if he could call this demon, that he could strike a deal and learn the magics that would make him great. He went to the market and purchased all of the necessary ingredients and prepared to call his demon. He carefully planned the procedure that he needed. He was well aware of the consequences of releasing a demon into the world and wasn't about to take that chance.

That night was the perfect time to do his conjuring. He went out early and had supper, so that there would be no distractions. He carefully drew the circle upon the floor of his room, which was designed to contain the demon. He carefully began the spell. He knew also the necessity of exact pronunciation of the words and went slowly and surely. As it progressed, his confidence grew. There was something coming into the circle. He gave the final command and with a flare of fire and smell of brimstone, a shadowy, unsubstantial form materialized in the circle.

A disembodied voice said," Why have you brought me to this cursed place human?"

"I seek the help of a most powerful denizen of the underworld to become the most powerful wizard known on this world," Tremane replied.

"Why should I do this thing," it asked?

"I have heard that is a sign of power in your world, to be able to hold influence in this one," Tremane told him. "This is what I offer you."

Tremane could tell that the demon was interested now. He hoped that he could drive home a deal that would give him what he wanted, while costing him as little as possible.

"Say on," said the demon.

"The thing that I propose to you is that twice a year I will do a thing that you ask of me, as long as you teach me what I wish to know. This agreement will only effect me as long as I am alive," Tremane said. "In this way, you will have influence in this world and thereby gain great power in your own world."

The demon thought on this and said," It is acceptable, if you will agree to a certain other condition." "This condition is that you will never try to take your own life at any time in the future. If you die naturally or if your life be taken by another, then the deal will be finished."

Tremane saw only the power this agreement would afford him and not the possible consequences of this agreement, but he did think to add one other thing," I will agree to all of these conditions, if you agree that you will never compel me to take a life."

"Accepted," said the demon. "Now, we must seal the deal." "You must place your hand into the circle, where we will seal the deal." "I can not cross your line, so you must come in to seal our agreement."

Tremane was eager to be done with his dealings and went over to the circle, where he still couldn't focus on a real form and probably wouldn't have wanted to see this thing anyway. He places his hand into the circle, where the mist surrounded it and he felt a stinging pain. Startled, he jerked his hand back and saw a wound upon the palm. It was almost as if he had been bitten.

"It is done," said the thing in the circle. "Let us begin."

With this, a glow formed over the table in the corner and several tomes of magic appeared on the table.

"This is where your training begins," said the demon," remember your agreement with me or I will exact revenge most terrible upon you."

With that last statement in his mind, Tremane banished the demon and dismissed the circle of protection. He smiled as he thought of the future.

Tremane spent months reading the tomes and realized that the demon had truly given him the means to become powerful. The first step needed was to gain a familiar. This was one thing needed to manage the greater magics contained in the tomes. As he read, he realized that just any familiar wouldn't do either. An animal held a certain power, but did not have the mind needed to contain the power he needed to channel. What he really needed, was a human that had been changed into an animal.

Tremane knew that he could do this readily. He already had the knowledge to do this and even to make the victim cooperate. He also knew that if he had a volunteer, the magic would be easier and less costly and the would be greater. This was not going to be an easy thing to find though. What human would willingly give up his humanity to become an animal? He had to look around and give that idea a chance though.

Weeks went by and Tremane had approached several men that he thought might be willing, but was turned down flat. He was walking back home in the dark one night, when he heard a strange thing. There was light in a clearing ahead and someone was chanting. He slowly moved closer. Wizards had no problem seeing in the darkest night, as that was a really basic spell to learn. As he watched, he realized that this young man was trying to change into a werewolf. He recognized the ritual, even though it had never worked. Someone had invented it as a joke. Tremane realized that just maybe, he had found what he was looking for.

He made his way over to the edge of the firelight and the young man never saw him. He stood there for a moment, then said," That is never going to work you know."

"Ahhhhhh," the young man yelled. He had been caught in a compromising position. If folks here about ever found out what he was trying to do, they would kill him!

"Wh...who are you," he stammered.

"I am one that can help you get what you want," Tremane told him. "I wish you no harm. Indeed, I have need of one such as you in my work." "I am a wizard," Tremane told him. "I am in need of a familiar. That is an animal that helps me control magic. You wish to become an animal, so we may be able to come to an arrangement.

Tremane found the young man named Donni to be receptive to the idea that he had. He explained further," What I am offering you is a deal. If you will become the familiar of my choice for a period of five years, then I will gift you with the ability to shape shift. I will lay a compulsion upon you with the change spell and you will be subject to my will during this time. After your servitude, you will be free to assume your normal life." And lastly, you will cease to age while you are in servitude to me."

Donni saw the chance to gain what he had sought for so long. The thing that made him hesitate, was what he was to become. Some things were more desirable to him than others and the wizard refused to tell him what he was to be. This almost made him back out, but the sense of adventure was too great. He finally agreed and Tremane and his soon to be familiar went back to Tremane's house to complete the deal.

Donni was made to strip and Tremane handed him a jar of salve. He was instructed to coat his whole body with the evil smelling substance and to put on a skin of the blackest fur that Tremane had purchased for this purpose. Donni had no idea what the fur was. He had never seen its like before. It was apparent that the animal from which it had been taken did not live near here, but it was soft and very plush. The feel of it alone, excited him.

He stripped himself of all clothes and started smearing the strange substance over his body. It tingled and almost burned when he applied it. Then he took up the cloak and spread it over his shoulders and around his body. Then the wizard came over, laid a hand on his head and chanted a phrase.

The heat that Donni felt increased and he began to sweat. He tried to remove the pelt, but it was somehow stuck to him. It creeped around the barrel of his chest and joined together on his back. The skin continued to cover more and more of him. It creeped up his neck and started to cover his head and face. At the same time, the thing was moving to cover his arms and legs, then the pain started.

Donni screamed as things started to change internally. He looked like a human covered in fur, yet thing were progressing as a faster rate now. Pain, which had started in his stomach, expanded to consume him. His spine hurt, then his face cracked and moved outward. New fangs sprouted from longer gums with a shower of blood. His eyesight was getting sharper and he felt something twitch involuntarily behind him. Hands and feet burned in pain as huge claws sprouted from fingers, that even then shortened and became less moveable. His chest was squeezed to a new shape as the change completed.

Tremane was pleased with the completion of the change. He had just what he wanted. He looked down at the huge black cat and realized that no one would have ever seen its like. It was called a tiger, only it was completely black! This was exceedingly rare, the trader had told him. He was sure that no other wizard in the land would have anything like it.

The former young man stood there and trembled. He was trying to get used to this form and the intense sensations that even now were overloading a brain unused to it. Tremane added a thought speech skill to the already complex spell and he used it now. "How do you like it Donni," he asked?

[I need a mirror please.] came the thought from the cat.

Tremane brought a large mirror to where the cat stood and if a tiger could have looked surprised, Donni did.

[What am I?]

"You are called a tiger," Tremane told him. "I needed a form that held tremendous power and could protect me physically if necessary."

Donni started stalking around the room with a silky ease. Tremane could tell that he liked it. This was going to work out well. He told Donni," come, we are going to the village now."

Donni stalked out after his master, to begin his service. He was pleased so far. He even held thoughts of keeping this form.

Things went well for Tremane for a while, but all things change. The demon showed one day and demanded one of his favors. Tremane was to go to a young couple and separate them. The demon had determined that a child born of this union would harm his kind in the future. He told Tremane what to do.

Tremane got things together and made his way to the young couple's cottage. The man was out working the fields far from the house and this was the time to do the thing. Tremane shuddered at the command from the demon, but had no choice. He ordered Donni along to protect him. He forced his way into the cottage and knocked the young woman to the floor. As she lay there stunned, Tremane cut her on the arm and slapped a piece of enchanted deerskin over the cut. The change was excruciating and fast. She screamed and screamed until her throat changed. Then was heard a deer's bleating. A doe bounded up and out of the door and disappeared into the wood.

The husband, drawn by the screams, came puffing up, with a scythe in his hand. Donni sprang up and intercepted the man and knocked him to the ground. Unable to control himself, his claws plowed deep furrows across the man's face. Tremane called to him and they were off. Tremane hated what he had done, but knew it was necessary. Donni was sickened to his core. This was more that he had bargained for, but he couldn't leave. He was bound to the wizard.

Tremane's power grew steadily and as it did, his remorse went away. When he had to do a thing, it became fun and he found new ways to go about it. No longer did he hesitate at causing a death. The evil magic had effected him and he wasn't even aware of it. Sometimes, he felt a twinge of something, but it was only a momentary bother. Tremane became aware that Donni was balking at times. He had to directly order him to make a kill. This was getting aggravating to him. He also delighted in tormenting his familiar, by ordering him to commit all sorts of horrors. Donni fought, but the compulsion was too strong, when an order was given.

One day, the demon visited and made his pleasure at Tremane's advances known and told him of the next favor he wanted. Tremane smiled at this and Donni shuddered. After the demon was gone, they left to do the thing. Tremane went to the schoolyard where the target went to school. She stood there, by herself, eating lunch. Donni feared that Tremane would order him to kill her, but he had other ideas. He started a familiar spell and Donni realized that it was the one that flayed a person alive. Tremane was going to use it on a small girl!

Something clicked in Donni and Tremane never saw the tiger lunged from the ground towards him. The tiger leapt, mouth wide and ripped out the throat of the wizard. Tremane felt nothing in the shock of the moment. He couldn't speak and started to fall to the ground. He saw huge gouts of blood hitting the ground just before he collapsed there himself. In the last few moments he lived, Tremane realized the horror of what he had been doing and was glad Donni had ended it. He sent a last thought to Donni," Thank you." Then he died.

Donni stood there looking at the dead wizard. He wished that he could feel regret at the kill, but was glad. He knew that his chance to ever return to humanity had died with the wizard, but somethings are not worth any price. He had freed Tremane and foiled the demon. He headed off in the general direction of the far mountains. Somewhere, there had to be more like him and he needed to find them. The compulsion had died with the wizard and Donni was free now, if you could call this freedom. He had a long life ahead of him. It was best to get at it. At least he had something to live for. He wanted a mate.


Copyright 1997: Wayne Keisler <tekwolf@conterra.com> . If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask the author for permission first.       Thank you

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