I wake up with my eyes already fully open. I try to look around, but I can’t. My whole body feels locked in place, my arms and legs stiffly pointing forward. I’m limited to what I can immediately see - a circular room with walls made of stone. Shelves filled with books and strange items. I think I’m sitting on a table…? Why? How? In my peripheral vision I see things surrounding me, papers covered in scrawlings, complex equipment and metal tools.
I can feel I still have a tail, as unmoving as the rest of me.
Am I in the warlock’s tower?
I’m scared. I’m so scared. I want to scream, but my lips remain sealed.
Somehow, I scream anyway. My mind cries out and sobs loudly as I panic again. I see a filament of blue magic escape my tightly shut mouth and seep straight up through the ceiling.
I can feel it reach into something? And grab tightly, oh so tightly. I’m so confused by everything. Why am I doing magic, how am I doing it, why am I still unmoving?
I panic even further as I hear, then see, the warlock hurtling down a flight of stairs with a scowl. He looks around as if searching for something, and his gaze stops on me. My erratic shouting gets caught in my throat as my mind is trying to tell my body to hyperventilate, but it can’t. It can’t even breathe.
“By the higher beings, is this thing… alive?” he says, raising an eyebrow and lowering his face to my level. Oh my god, he’s gigantic. No - no, I’ve shrunk. Severely.
My internal screams resume reflexively. He grimaces and holds a hand against his forehead.
His other hand recoils before banging on the table. “WILL YOU BE QUIET FOR A MINUTE!?” I stop again. His face shows me contempt and anger.
His heavy breathing is the only sound in the room, silently accompanied by the sobs I would make if I could talk.
He picks me up by my arm and straightens his back, studying me from various angles. I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror that was positioned behind where I was set.
...I’m a toy? A doll. A plushie. The cloth that is my skin is white with black stripes, my wheat-colored hair is still atop my head, only made of felt now. I think my eyes are beads, I’m not sure, I didn’t get the time to catch more details. “What happened to me…” I whimper to myself.
“Ah, so it can do more than just wail.” He grabs my other arm, making me face him, then starts to pull on them.
“Ow, ow ow ow ow!” The sensation of pain is downright bizarre now. I can feel his thumbs apply way too strong pressure on my hands, and that part causes no ache, but the pulling… It hurts so much.
He lets go of one of my arms to grab a pencil, jotting down notes on a loose paper. “What an odd thing. It can feel pain despite having no nervous system.” He drops the pen again before lifting me to his eyes. “What are you?”
“I don’t, I don’t, ...” I’m so confused and lost, I don’t know how he’s hearing my thoughts, I don’t know how to reply, but he scares me so much I’m compelled to anyway. “My name is Cherry, I, you hit me with your spell and- and I was scared, I was turning into an animal and I panicked and thought about my childhood stuffed toy, then the spell, it changed color…”
He adjusts his hand to hold me by my torso. “Magic is not something that is visible. Not naturally.”
I blurt out a reply immediately. “But I could! I could see it, I swear! I dodged the lights, until, until I couldn’t, and -”
He lifts up his hand to stop me and drops me back on the table, turning away. “What your tale would require you to have done is to hijack my spell. Not even a mage with a hundred years’ experience could do it in half a second. I will not waste my time on an ex-human with a failing memory.”
“I’m scared… I wanna go home…” I mutter, my voice tinted in dread.
“And I do not care. Now stop your little telepathy trick. I have work to do.” He pauses before turning back to grab some tools.
The fear is mercifully replaced by confusion. At this point, I appreciate it. “...What?”
“I do hope you are smart enough to have realised you are not speaking with your mouth right now.” He crosses his arms, looking down at me. “So remove yourself from my mind at once.”
“I don’t… I don’t know how I did that… I don’t know magic, I swear...” I reply with an honest, pleading tone. I’m just a woman. Just a girl, I’ve never been given any education in magic.
“Well, if you desire to lie your way out of this situation, then you would better be quiet. I will not hesitate to open you up and study your corpse if you decide to become a grating presence.” And with that ominous threat, he climbs back up the stairs, leaving me metaphorically shaking.
What’s gonna happen to me now…?