From out of the stone floor, water and, of all things feathers, gently fountain-ed from the circle of Flutestuf’s pentagram. He slowly shook his head in puzzlement.
‘Well, it’s not like I’m summoning a demon, after all,’ he thought.
Those like himself, who practiced the Magik Arts, gave a rather simple banner to whatever lay beyond the veil of reality. There was this world and on the other side of the veil was the Otherworld.
Flutestuf was part of a small cabal of Mystics who suspected that the Otherworld, in truth, consisted of many sides and worlds. He’d prepared himself accordingly. Unloved even by the natural beings of his own kind, Flutestuf was determined not only to be loved by another, but to love another.
He would experience the dreams and nightmares of poets. Many Witches and Wizards shunned love and lovers, called it a lie, a myth for the weak.
Maybe Flutestuf was weak.
He looked to the large mirror he’d set against the cold stone wall so long ago. It was the best mirror he could find, framed in lavish gold adornments, it revealed every hoary detail of Flutestuf’s wicked face. If the poets told the truth, one day he would stand before that mirror with his one true love and at last, see love’s reflection not only in her face, but see what love revealed in his own face.
By the Gods he was sick of his face. It was past time for a change and he wanted, needed to believe that love would cure him of his own repulsion. He needed to be loved. He Needed to Love!
Love, only love, could save Flutestuf.
There was the slightest of splash behind him and he turned to see that the feathers spread out, blanketing the water’s surface, were parting. Fingers rose followed by… Flutestuf felt himself involuntarily gasp – just a little – the rising fingers were followed by the loveliest hand he’d ever seen.
Then the loveliest arm he’d ever seen!
Another arm! A back and shoulders rose up without a head, but where the head should be mist swirled around, creating for the creature from an Otherworld, a head and body that could live in this world.
Flutestuf was giddy. His patience was tormented. If he was sitting in a chair he’d be on the edge of it. As it was, he crouched himself down upon his hooves, gazing in wonderment as the rest of the fogbound body rose from the water, draped in feathers that refitted themselves into the slightest of clothes.
The vapor moved away from him, but no, fog formed flesh into a lovely young woman reclining nude before him. Well, not entirely nude with the feathered clothes, but such accouterments only accented her delicious nakedness.
His Satyr soul wanted to bray in delight. Flutestuf hotly admired, yet repressed his goat instinct to savage her innocence. He’d had that before, often, his entire life. He was beyond bored with the disappointed orgasm-aftermath of following his loins over his heart.
Her face formed. Her nose, lips (he felt that he’d cry if he dared kiss them), and eyes. By the Gods her eyes! They strangely, innocently gazed at him, in him, surely into the deepest part of where even he feared to look.
He felt his heart beating, punching, bullying his other parts within to get out of its way. This is what the poets said, wasn’t it? When the heart does this, it’s love?
But what was happening to his own body even while this lovely body formed before him? His Satyr nature joined in celebration with his heart. Flutestuf’s rod rapidly enlarged, emerging from its sheath, rising out of his hair. He closed his legs over it while it was still possible, before it swung up erect, hard and demanding, as if a sword ready to duel.
He fell to his knees as if in supplication to the beauty before him, but it was really to adjust his engorging member, already straining at its moors.
Resist! He had to resist his bestial nature. He knew all there was to know about mere rutting. Countless ravishing, laughing nymphs had tempted him, known him, and dispensed with him just as quickly. Like his fellow satyrs, nymphs didn’t understand the very concept he so desired. He wanted love!
His heart wanted love. His body wanted rut. They worked together to conspire against his mind, so desperate to contain them.
Flutestuf gazed at those eyes which gazed so warmly, accepting, lovingly back at him. Was even his own Mother’s love ever so complete?
Flutestuf looked to this beautiful creature’s breasts, loving eyes of their own that saw everything and nothing. Oh yes. Surely that was their poetry. He would write poems to his love’s eyes and breasts.
He gazed at her fully formed legs and between them. Her gender was still forming there. Oh please let it not be a penis again.
This was not Flutestuf’s first attempt, and with the prior summoning he brought forth a young Succubus, both nymph and satyr in one form.
He named it Scha and yes, they enjoyably dallied for a time. Yet eventually Flutestuf realized he didn’t actually love Scha. For all of Scha’s youthful femininity, it still emitted a mild yet distinct male spoor.
So he looked at himself in the mirror and saw no love, no amorous stranger cast its expression upon his features. He only saw his face: His foul, unloving face.
His time with Scha was a lie, but it wasn’t Scha’s lie. It was his own.
He’d allowed the beauty and pleasure of Scha to distract him from his heart’s true pursuit and it eventually disgusted him. He sent the broken-hearted Scha back to the Otherworld, wherever that was. Frightened and crying as it sank back into the pentagram, Scha affirmed and reaffirmed its love for Flutestuf: pleaded for mercy even during the act of transition out of this world.
None of Scha’s entreaties touched Flutestuf, whose heart slept through the chiming emotion while his mind pondered on the mechanics of what he observed.
Nobody really knew the nature of transition between the worlds of a summoning. What did these beings do on their own worlds? What daily lives were they torn from when summoned by the Magik Arts to this world? They seemed to have no memory of the other place. Surely they weren’t merely lined up like dolls sitting upon a cosmic shelf, waiting to be bought and brought to consciousness by the act of a magik summons.
When Scha left his final scream upon this world, Flutestuf only shrugged and turned away, entirely lost within his own thoughts. ‘For that matter, what place are we summoned from when we are naturally born into this world?’
When his friends heard what he’d done with Scha they were circumspect yet decidedly disapproving. No one expressed outrage, of course. No member of the Magiks ever does to a sibling of the Arts. The experts may, sure. The Sorcerers and Sorceress may direct their powers at will and for that reason alone are best left alone to their own devices. But among those who were not the actual source of magik but must coax it into being – the Practitioners, Witches, Wizards, and Mystics like himself – declaring scandal against another member of the Arts was a perilous indulgence.
“One must have a care when dealing with maledictions.”
– Cugel the Clever
Soon after, Flutestuf realized he’d lost their company. Not that practitioners were ever fraught with festive bonhomie in the best of times, but his cabal had no time for Flutestuf anymore. There were no more notifications of other gatherings. The change was clearly chilled.
Flutestuff missed the periodic sharing of new discoveries, but oh well, they too were a distraction from his goals and anyway, practice makes perfect.
No remorse existed within Flutestuf. After all, a bee, in order to be a bee, must seek out flowers, not other bees. Flutestuf craved a flower so complete that he’d never return to the hive. All the better now that the hive no longer wanted him.
The vapor between her legs parted, breaking Flutestuf from his reverie.
Yes! A lovely vaginal cleft! A mons and vulva swelled beautifully around it, sprouting soft down. He looked up to her face. The fog of summoning seemed to be having a difficult time with her hair. It must be creating quite a mane up there, but he no longer worried that the horns of a male would appear.
She smiled at him. Had any living creature ever offered him the kindness of such a smile before?
A worm of thought slithered into his mind. ‘Am I worthy of such wonder?’
Flutestuf brushed the thought aside, ‘No I’m not, and if not I will be. I will make myself worthy of love.’
Already kneeling, Flutestuff bent forward, practically on hands and knees before the awe inspiring goddess appearing before him. He wanted her to have a name and he wanted her to already know it.
‘Please, my goddess,’ he thought. ‘Only divulge this one secret from where you came. Share with me this one part of your past, of a life lived that makes you whole and real and I’ll never inquire for more.’
Instead she slightly pursed her lips, reached out with that loveliest of lovely hands, and stroked his furry cheek.
Flutestaf, disappointed in the maleness of the still forming Scha, never allowed the creature to touch him until long after the completion of summoning. Scha had to goad and seduce him into relenting to its embrace.
Not so with this female creature who wholly defined acceptance and love. At her touch, tears welled up in Flutestuf’s eyes.
A slight blemish appeared on her tummy. A small insignificant mole. Flutestuf pulled himself from scrutinizing it. No matter. He didn’t summon perfection and who was he to ask for it?
As her hand pulled away he reached for it, grasped it, and brought it to his lips. He gazed longingly, achingly into her eyes as he kissed the back of that loveliest of lovely.
Her eyelids darkened as wrinkles of flesh formed around them. The innocence faded, revealing jaded knowledge. These were an experienced harlot’s eyes, though they clearly loved him no less.
Any human man, real man, would desire such love even more. To be chosen by an experienced lover, well versed in the consequences of choice, was so much more preferable than the callow choosing of an inexperienced waif.
Satyrs were not men. His kind did not, could not, appreciate any but nymphs and human virgins.
What was happening to her?
By the Gods it was the magiks! He touched her before summoning was complete and the still working spell was changing her to suit him. But that didn’t suit Flutestuf at all.
He didn’t want a female version of himself. He wasn’t aspiring to be himself! Flutestuf knew that he was a worthless, miserable grotesque of a creature, rightly shunned by others and even his own kind. His former Cabal was made of various creatures including living and undead. Their past acceptance of him was based on a shared common passion for the Magik Arts.
He pulled back and the fog around her head evaporated, leaving coarse hair like his own. The hair between her legs also grew coarse and long, like his own, and goat hairs sprouted all over her body.
Like him she was ugly and wicked and still her love shone through.
Flutestuf fell back in horror from the change and his hand fell upon the sacrificial knife he used to cast this blood spell.
“Damn it!” he cried out. ‘Everything is going wrong! Again!’
Her knowing, experienced harlot’s eyes saw his terror, knew his thoughts, yet because she loved, she reached out to calm his fears. Flutestuf would have none of it. He threw himself forward, half into the circle, and angrily slashed her.
With his naturally inhuman strength and the madness of his bestial urges, he hacked her beautiful flesh from muscle, muscle from sinew, sinew from bone. He hacked deep into her bone, again and again through the heady spray of hot blood and her harrowing screams. Her screams of loss and betrayal cried out, until her brief, tragic life was no more.
There. Her beauty was gone. Her love was a thing of the past. Whoever she was and wherever she was from, she could remain a cypher to him.
“It was lust, not love,” he lied to himself.
Flutestuf knew he was lying and hated himself for it. No, hate wasn’t a strong enough word.
He despised himself.
Nearly exhausted from it all, Flutestuf left the bloody circle and wobbled over to the mirror.
He collapsed onto the stone before it, staring at his mocking ugly self.
“You,” he accused it. He stabbed his knife deep into his thigh. Then he pulled it back out and repeatedly stabbed his legs with every word.
“You! You! You! You! You!”
The pain was nearly overpowering but the exsanguination wouldn’t last. Healing spells are one of the first things a knowledgeable practitioner casts upon themselves.
“You’re ugly!” he cried to the mirror. “And hateful! Filthy! Cold and remorseless! You aren’t worth love!”
Flutestuf broke down sobbing at his own wretchedness.
“Nobody has ever loved you,” he murmured. His mumble became a shout, “And nobody ever will! Never until you change! Change you disgusting thing! Why won’t you change?”
Flutestuf stabbed himself through the heart and collapsed from the blood pressure drop.
When he awoke, he looked around himself, then wrenched the knife from his chest, where his heart had healed around the wound, and collapsed again, as before.
When he came to again, he dejectedly stood, tired self-loathing evident in his every move.
Tearfully, Flutestuf pressed his solemn head against the mirror, his horns clacking against the surface.
“Why was I born me?” he sobbed. “And why? Why must I stay me?”
He moved back and stared deeply at his reflection.
“You,” he said pointing at the mirror. “You are not worth tolerating or accepting.”
He tapped the mirror with the point of his claw. “You must be a better person. You must. You must be what you want to be.”
He backed away, turned his hand and tapped himself. “I must work to see in the mirror what I wish others to see in me. I must be worthy. I must become a better me, a real me, a me I can love.”
Flutestuf shambled off to his room to sleep. So much work and nothing to show for it. So much left to be done. How long before his precious mirror would reveal a real him that he could be proud of: a him that he could respect. A Flutestuf that the world would look upon and admire. How long?
Never – outside of his self-indulgence.
The evil beast that was Flutestuf was forever doomed to a long, loveless, savage life. He would never realize that a mirror, like all reflections, shows us the reverse of what everyone else sees.
Copyright 2016 by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Art by Norman Lindsay.
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