Playing with Fire, by Phil Geusz

Story name: Playing with Fire
Author: Phil Geusz
Publication date: December 4, 1997

Date: Spring 706 CR, 2 weeks before Easter
Location: Metamor Keep (The Deaf Mule)

Overview

Phil explains how the Curse spared him from a fiery death.

Summary

Phil is sitting and relaxing at the Deaf Mule, and Michael is visibly unsure about how to approach him. Phil beckons him and asks if he knows what kind of animal he will become, and if he is afraid of not becoming something fierce, but a dumb bunny. Michael blushes and shifts uncomfortably, and asks Phil what his experience was like.

Phil collects himself for a moment, and tells Michael that he was once the apprentice to the keeper of Greek fire. His navies would destroy ships and burn people alive, and he would gain massive wealth from doing so. Once he heard about Metamor Keep's strategic role, he offered less than his normal rate for a much longer contract at the Keep.

At the time of the battle, he was atop the tower beside the gate, waiting to light the Keep's enemies on fire. When Duke Thomas gives the signal, however, a pipe blows and lights Phil on fire. With parts of him already baked, the animal spell permanently changed those parts of him. He is unable to shift form at all, and many of his instincts are now rabbit-like. For a long while, he even had the mind of a rabbit, and lived in a hutch.

He's not sure how he recovered his intelligence, but he believes he was reinventing himself. He could never use Greek Fire again. He is dedicated to finding out what the Lutins want, and if peace is possible. That is, when he's not also running the Writer's Guild.

Michael nods solemnly at this account, and Phil reveals mentions one last thing. The wizards have told him that if they ever do reverse the spell, then he will return to human form on fire. Michael takes this in, and then orders the next drink for Phil.

Phil takes another look at Michael, and wonders if Michael would be fit for spy-work. Very few people know that Phil is also the head of Thomas's intelligence service.

Characters

Main Characters: Phil

Supporting: Michael

Cameo: Donnie

Mentioned: Copernicus, Thomas

Points of Interest

  • Copernicus is not just good at pool; he's also pretty good at darts.
  • Phil mentions missing the Writer's Guild meeting from The Fight That Never Happened.
  • Phil was fond enough of the Deaf Mule back then to stay, for unknown reasons.
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