Melk-a-Spa watched the peddler trundle down the cracked marble steps, half tripping as he stepped heavily onto the weed-choked ground.
With a backwards glance the man, his grimy travelling rags slick with sweat, ran into the distance.
Letting out a low chuckle Melk hurled the silver goblet over his shoulder. It landed in the middle of the ruined temple's floor with clang.
The sorcerer's piercing green eyes took in the ruined temple with one a quick glance - pillars had crumbled and fallen, collapsing much of the roof and green weeds and flowers had sprouted out of much of the cracked floors which had once hosted divine commune with Knothakon, god of knowledge.
Now it was but a shadow of its former glory - and temporary home to Melk-a-Spa, powerful magi and wizard.
In the past month he had spent pouring over the remains of the temple's ancient library seeking the knowledge he sought but that meddling peddler had interrupted his work.
"You're right, of course. He can;t be allowed to talk," he said.
"The little cretin cannot interrupt my work."
The object of his discourse made a high pitch but unrecognisable mumble. It was hard to form real words when you were gagged.
The lithe slave girl let out a muffled scream and pulled again her shackles. She was hanging upside down, suspended above the great obsidian block that had once formed the temple's altar.
It now held a collection of the objects that were Melk's craft: a human skull, painted with swirling runes and signals, a great bronze dagger, a shallow clay bowl, a handful of bright red feathers and an ancient papyrus scroll held tight with a lock of dark hair.
The girl futily jigged the chains once more as Melk approached - her lithe, long body and ebony skin was slick with sweat and her brown eyes had enlarged to ridiculous size in fear as he stepped forward.
With a casual flick of his wrists he unhooked the heavy cloak, letting it pool on the floor. Next the heavy gold head dress and amulets were discarded and finally the animal pelt kilt.
All the while the wizard chanted, his rich, deep voice naming names not said in eons and calling on his master to help. He could feel the first trickle of power and then the slow build as dark powers surged around him.
"I'm afraid this is goodbye, my dear,"
With a quick movement, he slashed the bronze knife across her gorgeous throat - not enough to kill instantly - but deep enough to let the blood flow into the bowl.
Instantly, Melk could feel his limbs surge with power, his dark visage twisting and turning.
Huffing and puffing the peddler surged through the jungle- he had left his wares at the foot of the old ruined temple when he fled for his life. The man had only caught a glimpse of the goings-ons inside the old building but it was enough to send him packing.
The old temple had been wrecked for more than a century and was a common stopping spot for peddlers, merchants and vagabonds - but obviously something else had taken up residence there.
Cuffing strands of grey hair back out of his face the peddler drew to a stop. Surely he was safe no.
Suddenly there was a flick of movement to his left - spinning to face it, the little man drew a small blade from the depths of his robes.
"Forgive me - I saw nothing!" he screamed in terror.
"Let me go and I'll forget the whole thing!"
There was a scuffle of plants - and the merchant turned expecting to see the giant, darked skinned mad he had glimpsed at work in the temple. Instead - a giant, black jungle cat stepped lightly from the brush.
"Get! Get going! Go cat!" the peddler yelled, kicking up a surge of dust at the animal.
Instead the creature looked up at him with strange, green eyes.
The peddler screamed.
A spell of the second magnitude, changing shape is a difficult operation even for the most powerful of wizards. The caster must ensure that he or she is not carried into the soul of the best too much.
Many are the sorcerers who have changed shape for a lark or some errand and found themselves enamoured of their newfound senses and unable to change back.
As per standard BoL rules: this spell cost 10 Arcane Power. For every casting requirement after the first that the magician can comply with or chooses, you can reduce the cost by 1 point, down to a minimum of 6 Arcane Power.
When a wizard changes shape they are usually required to offer human sacrifice in order to appease nature and compensate for the sheer audacity of changing form. (Counts as a -1 casting requirement)
The spell usually wears off in 2d6 +2 hours. Casters are left extremely fatigued afterwards and cannot undertake strenuous activity.
Lord Hegil-ag Kuol, a magister of some repute advised bedding down with two slave girls following the return to human form. After several hours of sleep, in which the girls kept him warm he was reportedly ready for more strenuous activity.
Casters can usually take on the form of any animal they are reasonably familiar with
In addition to sacrifice many masters of the arcane art make use of special items as a focus: Crystals from the Shii-An desert are common as fare magical ropes tied from the hair of drowning victims. (these are especially helpful when attempting to take the form of a marine creature)