You wipe the remnant of your latest alarm homunculus from your fist. You really need to stop doing
that; such creatures aren't the easiest thing to create, and the price of puppy dogs' tails is rising steeply.
Yawning and stretching, you clamber out of bed and pull your curtains open to allow the uninspiring
grey trickle of dawn into your cluttered bedroom. Heading downstairs, you head over to your front door
to check the job requests that have been posted through your letterbox. Today looks like it will be a busy
one. Mrs. Hedgeweed is having trouble with some carnivorous cabbages and a party of orcs gatecrashed
Baron Blueblood's soirée last night and are apparently still partying like it's 3999 (Third Age of Man). Still,
you have no intention of doing any work on an empty stomach.
You are just tucking into your third slice of toast when the door is thrown open and several hulking
brutes wearing the armour of the Royal Guard burst through.
'That's him. Grab him!' barks the unshaven sergeant and before you have time to demand an
explanation, mutter a cantrip or indeed, even swallow your toast, you are seized by your arms and
hauled roughly out of your home. Unrelenting either in their harsh grip or their stony silence, your
captors march you over the hills towards the king's castle. Without ceremony you are dragged through
the great basalt gates and led into the sumptuous throne room, awash with purple silks and ornate
tapestries, and deposited on the stone floor. The richly-robed courtiers stare and snigger at your plight as
the king, sitting upon his ivory throne, assesses you with his penetrating emerald eyes, stoking his
impeccably waxed beard. Behind the throne is a statue of Salibria, Goddess of Light and the king's patron
deity, her countenance almost as severe as Melchion's own. Despite the heat of the throne room, you
notice the king is wearing a full fur robe and sweat is pouring from his forehead down his handsome
'You are the wizard Davor?' he demands in a voice squeakier than how you remember it.
'That's right, your Majesty.'
'Leave us,' he commands. The assembled courtiers bow and one by one flock from the chamber,
leaving only you, the king and the guardsmen.
'You too!' barks the king.
'But Sire -' starts the sergeant, before the king silences him with a wave of his hand.
'I am sure I am quite safe with this loyal citizen,' shouts the king, his voice verging on a shriek. 'Now
The guards bow and leave. Once all are firmly out of earshot, Melchion turns to you.
'I wish to hire your services,' says the king, his voice even softer than before. 'If you succeed you will
be made my new court sorcerer, with all the money and privilege that comes with it. If you fail I shall
have you boiled in your own blood. Do you accept?'
'Of course, oh high one,' you answer, knowing any other response would leave you with scant minutes
to live. 'What service does your Lordship require?'
In response the king seizes his beard and tears it from his face to expose a perfectly smooth chin before
pulling off his robe to reveal a silk shirt straining to contain a pair of breasts that could only be described
'Well, perhaps you can tell me why I'm turning into a woman!'