Roden stood uncomfortably, holding his hands cupped around his privates as he stood nude as the day he was born in the makeshift circle painted with chalks and herbs on the floor around him. Actually, he was probably far more nude then when he was born because he had no caul or coatings of blood and ick to hide his battle scars and naked flesh.
At least his physique was in top form? He tried to take some sort of positives out of this dismal situation.
He was blushing. Both sets of his rosy cheeks were quickly turning a mottled deep pink.
“Would you mind explaining things to me, one more time?”
“Ugh, I’ve already went over it once, that should be enough.” The Dean was currently setting aside bottle and elixirs and adjusting his robes while getting the others in place. He was also trying hard not to glance over Roden too long – he didn’t want to make the rather attractive man any more uncomfortable. Although he was still a handsome specimen…
“As I stated, the horses need rest. Not to mention I am sick and tired of trodding around everywhere on this damned hunt when we are Mages! Magics is our forte! So we are going to gather our resources, make official plans, and of course rest… while you do some hunting for us.”
“Uh huh… I got that part. It’s the whole transmorphif-”
“Transmorgrify actually.” Maude corrected him, although she did so while staring intently at the ceiling. Her own cheeks seemed a little pink. “And just so it’s said… I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Hush, it’s perfectly safe! Especially since -I- will be conducting it! I’ll pop you into a quick Teak Stag, you’ll go running —”
“No!” Maude snapped quickly. “I mean, Dean? If I may? We will be sending him back up the main road… which is often used as a hunting route. Not only will he be in danger of just being picked off before he gets anywhere but a Teak Stag is a large animal. Transmorgrifying works best when mass is maintained or reduced… adding mass is more complicated and takes a longer recovery time… er… right?”
Everyone blinked at her for a moment, save for Tanis. “Well… she is right. I mean it says it right here in the Physical Magicks book you brought with you. See? It even has a diagram…”
“Enough!” Dean hushed them both and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “To make you both feel better I’ll skip the deer. How about… hmmm.” He took a moment to take an exceptionally thoughtful look over the uncomfortable ex-soldier. “How about an outland hunting dog? They would be slightly smaller in size, and common to see them track quite a distance from their handlers… they are also employed by regional bounty hunters. No one would dare attempt to cull one of those for fear of backlash.”
“They also look pretty wicked.” Tanis nodded approvingly. “I’ve seen them fight, it’s pretty gnarly…”
“That’s barbaric!” Maude chimed in.
“Only for the losing dog. I’m kidding! I’ve seen them fight wild Ox. While hunting… not against each other.” Tanis rolled his eyes.
“That is still barbaric.” she muttered.
“Will you two knock it off? I swear, it’s like babysitting children!”
There was a pause, a shrug, and then the Dean continued.
“Alright it’s settled. Now keep in your places, remember your lessons in spell co-opting!”
“For the record, I still think this is a bad idea.” Roden swallowed hard and closed his eyes tight as the Dean silenced him with a finger while he started to intone his well over-acted chanting, and over-embellished display of sigil setting.
In truth, this was the part of Magic that the Dean loved. It wasn’t all the nitty gritty “precision” work. It wasn’t even the amount of actual power over the very energy that made up the universe… it was the stage presence. It was the very show of it.
And in all honesty, his ego aide, it was that part that he was actually good at.
Past all the actual energy and the crackling of an authentic spell… he did it all for show. And he loved every second of it.
However Roden didn’t. In fact something may have gone slightly askew in the “precision” aspect of the actual Transmorgrification as he screamed. A scream wasn’t exactly expected, as it didn’t normally happen during this part of a ritual. And where in the world was the smoke coming from? This didn’t seem right at all.
Still, once magic like this was started – stopping is far more dangerous then continuing. That was a lesson that all students were taught in the first week! And luckily it seemed all three of them happened to remember it. They managed to maintain the circle and the scream turned into more of a broken howl.
When the spell was done there was quite a bit of coughing and the opening of windows as to not alert too much suspicion from the other patrons of the Inn.
“Is he dead?!” Tanis called out with a bit more eagerness then should have been there.
“No…” Maude said shakily.
As the smoke cleared it was obvious why Maude was so upset. Instead of the man shaped Roden, or the practical hunting dog, or even the majestic stag… there was an all together different animal staring at them from the middle of the circle.
A disoriented, and somewhat diabolic looking Frost Drake. The same type of frost drake that had the unfortunate luck to dismembered by the Dean himself. But how?
And then it sunk in the pit of his stomach. The last retrieval spell he did must have imbed the animals feel into his most recent memory. Magic after all involved a lot of mental work. You had to think and WILL things into existence.
It must have been far easier for the energy to recall the form of the Frost Drake because it still haunted his dreams at night. The way those piercing bugged out eyes were glaring at him, even in it’s death throws. The way it’s blood soaked into the floor… it was all far more fresh in his mind. When was the last time he’d even seen a Stag or Hunting dog up close?
That precision part of magic meant he would have had to put some actual thought and work into being more careful about the choice of animal that he wanted, rather then just expected the spell to do what it was damned well supposed to…
The Frost drake opened it’s mouth and let out a disoriented hiss as it wobbled.
“Fuck.” Marthis hissed back.