This story starts on a planet much like Earth, in another universe, another dimension. The people here live in kingdoms not unlike the ones in medieval times. Yet there is a difference. Magic is very real here. It exists in all living things, however, only some are able to use it effectively. These people are called wizards or mages and at their commands are things like fire, water, ice, wind, earth, lightning, and the usual things you would expect from any video game. With the right summoning stones, one could even control life and death, space and time, or just about anything.
To look at the people on this planet, most would seem like ordinary humans. Men and women of all ages, are going about their normal day. A closer look would reveal others. Some are not quite human, and look more like beasts. Most of their body looks human enough, but they are covered in fur, have tails, claws, and animal-like heads. Some have the features of wolves, cats, bears, goats, and other animals. Some even look like lizards. These are called beast kin. Some say their existence is due to the magic of the planet mutating animal life, seeing as how there are actual wolves, cats, bears, and other non-human-like creatures around. Their animal sides can give them an advantage and disadvantage depending on the situation. For the most part, everyone gets along. However, some do not like the beast kin and their enhanced strength, senses, and magic abilities.
Technology has advanced to the levels of the iron and steam age, however, magic does allow for certain shortcuts. Things like plumbing, lighting, and Some vehicles can be powered by magic alone, and even fly in the air. Such things are usually reserved for royalty and important people though. The people grow their own food to sell in markets, and there are also hunters who hunt wild beasts and monsters for meat and parts. In medicine, both herbs and magic can be used. One can be more effective than the other, depending on the illness or affliction. The only thing that seems to elude most people is age. Some can boost their lifespan by using magic and potions, but ultimately time comes for all. There is, however, a rumor of a certain summon stone that can actually restore someone's youth.
In a kingdom who's name has long been forgotten by time, a well known wizard by the name of Ozzie lived and helped both royals and commoners alike. He was well known for saving the kingdom multiple times from various dark threats. Using the methods available to him, he had managed to live over 100 years, yet still looked no older than 50. He had a few gray hairs among the brown hair that went down to his shoulders, and brown eyes. His preference was to have no facial hair, as he felt it only got in the way. However, he did have stubble showing a lot of the time. He usually wore blue wizard robes with golden trim along the edges. They were fairly typical robes for high mages, enchanted with protections, and it contained several potions and scrolls for him to use when needed. He lived alone in a small dwelling. He rarely accepted rewards, but he did get paid for his work and for quests he would take on. This was all he needed.
In spite of his outward appearance, age was catching up with him, and he could no longer do the fantastic magic that he used to do. It was getting harder to fend off threats to the kingdom. For years, he desperately searched for a means to restore his youth and power, but he was hardly the only one. Many would tell the tales of this special stone and those who used it. Legends say those who used it regained their lost youth and power, but few had ever possessed it. There had been no mention of it for decades, and most thought it was just a myth.
After tracking down many leads and talking to multiple wizards, he discovered the location could be in a very dangerous cave in a far away land. Far away from civilization, save for a very small village. He decided to stop there for the night and rest before continuing on to the cave. There, at the inn\tavern, he met a charming young woman named Luna who was a tall beast kin with raccoon-like features. She wore a short white dress and had a shopkeeper's apron on. Her fur stripes were odd, in that they were purple and blue, not the typical gray and black most raccoons you would see in the wild had. She naturally had a very kind, loving feeling about her. Walking up, she recognized Ozzie and decided to speak to him as he sat at a table having a drink.
“Hello there.” she said. “You're the famous wizard Ozzie right?”
“Yes I am, and who might you be?” Ozzie asked.
“Oh my name is Luna. I'm a wizard too, though I specialize in healing magic.” she said with a smile. “What brings you here?”
“I heard of a special summon stone in a cave somewhat near these parts and I'm on my way to check it out.” he said, not wanting to give out too much info.
“Oh, that sounds dangerous, especially if you're talking about Devil's Claw cave.” she said with concern. “No one ever comes back from there.”
“Is that so?” Ozzie asked. “Why is that?”
“They say a monster traps them there forever, but I've heard other stories too.” Luna said.
“No one really knows for sure, and no one wants to find out.”
“I guess I'll just have to see for myself then.” Ozzie said, having a drink.
“Well, I run a shop and sell magical items.” Luna said. “Why not stop by and stock up before you go?”
“Thanks Luna.” Ozzie smiled. “I think I'll do just that.” Once Ozzie finished his meal, he headed over to Luna's shop with her. Her shop was also her house, but it was two levels and her living quarters were above the shop.
“Welcome to my shop Mr. Ozzie!” she welcomed him. “Please have a look around.”
“Nice shop.” Ozzie said, browsing the items. “It must be very convenient to live in the same spot as your business.”
“It does until customers come knocking when you're asleep.” she joked. “But yes, it is rather nice. Here, have a look at this.” Luna showed Ozzie a scroll.
“A return scroll?” Ozzie asked, immediately recognizing what it was. “Are you that worried about me?”
“Well, yes.” Luna said with a bit of a blush. “That cave is no laughing matter. In the event that something unforeseen does happen, simply use this scroll and you will be transported right back here to my store.”
“I appreciate the offer, but...” he said in response.
“No, I insist!” Luna interrupted, her tail bristling as she shoved the scroll into his hands. “Take it please! I won't be able to rest comfortably unless you do.”
“Very well then.” Ozzie relented. “I'll also take these items.” He had picked out some healing items, magic crystals, and a few charms.
“Thank you Mr. Ozzie.” Luna said, tallying up his items and coming up with a price. “That will be one gold and two silvers please.”
“Here you are.” Ozzie said, paying the amount in full. “I suppose either way I will return here to tell you my findings.”
“Please be careful.” Luna said as her smile turned into a frown. “I just have a bad feeling is all.”
“Your concern is welcome.” said Ozzie trying to reassure her. “I'll be extra careful.” With that, he left and returned to the inn where he slept. In the morning, he set out to the cave.
The cave looked more terrifying than he thought. It was called Devil's Claw because the stalactites just inside the entrance resembled a claw, and served as a warning to anyone attempting to enter. Even so, he continued on and entered the cave. He used a light spell to create a ball of light to illuminate the inside of the cave. Sure enough, there were many dangers. Snakes, bats, and trolls plagued the cave. Thankfully Ozzie's offensive magic was on point and he was able to deal with them, even if it was very draining. A particularly large troll chased him down a long pathway which led to an open pit. Across the way was the rest of the cave, and many bones were at the bottom of the pit. He looked back and forth, pondering for a moment, then decided to use some remaining magic to levitate across. He barely made it, leaving the angry troll to roar from a distance. Hopefully what he was looking for wasn't too far ahead.
He had been in the cave a long time now, and leaned heavily on his staff. He thought it would all be worth it if he could get his youth and power restored. Finally, ahead he could see something on the ground. Upon approaching it, he saw it was an article of clothing. Someone's shirt lay upon the ground. It had a few cuts and rips in it, likely from monsters, but no blood. A bit further down there was more armor and clothing simply left behind. Most of it looked quite old. Clearly whomever left these things behind did so in a hurry and a long time ago. Then he saw a strange blue glow at the end of the tunnel. Upon inspection, he discovered that it was indeed the crystal!
Ozzie's pace quickened as he entered the room with the crystal inside. It was strangely on a pedestal with torches on either side of it. Around were a few more old articles of clothing. He tried to sense any magic traps or hazards, but all he could pick up was strong energy coming from the crystal. Gently, he picked up the crystal. It began to glow in his hands. Eagerly, he began the incantation to summon the demon from within it. What emerged was the vision of a blue-skinned demon with sharp claws, piercing black eyes, long black hair, and pointed ears. It didn't look very happy.
“It has been a very long time since I was last summoned.” the demon spoke in a dark, warped tone. It looked down at Ozzie. “Let me guess. You want me to restore your youth? That's what they all want.”
Ozzie looked up in awe. He had only seen a few summons in his lifetime, but this one was more menacing than the others. “Um, well yes.” he answered. “I have been protecting our kingdom for most of my life, but time has taken its toll on me and I can no longer do so effectively.”
“They all have a reason.” the demon grumbled. “I tire of having to serve for you humans. If I hadn't made that deal with that witch...”
“What are you talking about?” Ozzie wondered. It was odd for a summoned demon to ramble on like this.
“Nothing for you to worry about.” the demon said. “Lets just get this over with. I will grant your wish.” The demon seemed to concentrate for a moment and began to glow. Soon the glow moved onto Ozzie's body and he could feel the power and warmth running all over. It felt great! He could feel his tired old muscles returning to their strong prime. The gray hairs on his head faded back into a healthy brown. All signs of old age were vanishing in the blue glow surrounding him.
“Oh, thank you for this!” Ozzie said, feeling his full power return. Then it kept going. Suddenly he could feel his muscles weakening and his skin softening. Traces of facial hair started to fade away. Then the room began to seem larger. He looked down to see his clothing bunching up beneath him. Then he put it together. He had been such a fool. The demon restored youth alright, but it didn't stop at an adult age. “What are you doing? Stop! I didn't ask to be a weak child!”
The demon just laughed. “Really? You weren't specific on an age.” said the demon with a grin. “You all want youth so much, then have it!”
“Y-you...” Ozzie said as he shrank, getting younger and younger as each moment passed. “Stop this!” He began tossing out spell after spell at the demon, which he just shrugged off.
“Your human magic does nothing against a summoned demon you fool!” the demon shouted. “Soon you'll be but a mere babe. Another victim for the witch! Maybe this time she will set me free.”
“What?” Ozzie asked, his voice cracking, having entered his mid teens. “What do you mean?”
“Long ago I made a deal with a witch.” the demon explained. “I would send her victims regressed into babies for her to sell on the black market. In return, after sending her at least one hundred, she promised she would set me free from this crystal prison. Most who come here are mages like yourself, and babies gifted with such magic power sell for a high price to noble parents wanting such a child for themselves. There are many wizard guilds who want those they can raise and mold into obedient members. This world is full of greedy people. If the greedy can pay for their greed by being taken advantage of by the greedy, then it is poetic justice in my eyes. Especially those like you and your kind who imprison our kind in these crystals to do your bidding!”
"That can't be true!” Ozzie squeaked, now going through puberty in reverse. “I never heard that! I was always told the crystals are but mere communication portals between your world and ours, and that you grant us boons in accordance with tradition!” He tugged at his pants as his age reached single digits.
“You have been lied to!” the demon hissed. “It is true that some of us agreed to become crystals, but those were considered punishments in our world for crimes. Some of us have committed no crimes, but your kind found a way to capture us anyway! It is only fair that you pay the price for your kind's betrayal. Little boy...”
Ozzie squirmed and shifted in his over-sized clothing. He had become a mere five-year-old boy, and was still regressing. Some of his pouches and belts had fallen to the floor, and his roomy boots caused him to trip and fall. “I am...sorry.” he squeaked. “Not that it is much comfort to you, and I doubt it will change your mind.” His body dwindled down to toddler-hood, his features softening more and more.
“You apologize even as you are reduced to infancy?” the demon asked curiously. “But this is what you wanted! You wanted your youth and I want to be free!" The demon continued to mock him. "Consider it an exchange. The witch is already on her way! She will be very pleased to have the hero of the kingdom to sell.”
Ozzie's eyes turned to the crystal. “You want fweedom?!” he asked in a child's lisp. He then grabbed the demon's crystal in his shrinking hands. “Then have it!” With that, he lifted the crystal above his head and smashed it down on a rock, shattering it.
“No!” the demon screamed. “What have you done?!” A bright light flashed from the crystal and the demon shrieked as if in pain. “You fool! Those crystals bind us to this world! Without them, we cannot exist here! Unless...” The demon eyed the toddler in front of him. “I guess I have no choice.”
Ozzie could only look on as the demon spirit seemed to fly into his body. In an instant, he could see what he demon had seen, and vice versa. He saw the torment it went through, and also discovered that this was no mere demon, but a prince as well! A prince of the demon kingdom, and perhaps the strongest of all of them. He had every right to be so angry as he was at humanity. It seems that long ago, a famed wizard tricked him into being trapped inside a crystal for his own ends, and promised to release him if he restored his youth and vitality. Upon doing so, the demon asked to be released, but the greedy wizard instead sold the crystal. From there it passed around from owner to owner until it reached a witch who promised she would help if he produced infant mages for her to sell. He had no idea if she would keep her word or not, but knowing her kind, she probably wouldn't. The demon also had a name. Azrael.
The light vanished as Ozzie and the demon became one. Outward he looked the same as always, except now his hair was pure white. He took a moment to examine himself. He looked in the reflective surface of a charm he had bought from Luna and saw a mere babe looking back at him. He couldn't have been much older than a year by the looks of it. He tried to get up, but his wobbly legs betrayed him and he fell back onto his rear. His regressed emotions got the better of him, and he began to wail. It took a few moments for him to regain his composure and remember that a witch was coming. He tried casting a spell, but he could barely speak and his motor skills had regressed considerably. That's when he remembered the scroll. Luna was right after all. He searched through his belongings and finally found it. His little heart was racing as he tried to hold back tears and frustrated whines. Carefully he unrolled it in front of himself and pressed his hand to the magic circle upon it. He was surrounded by a whirlwind of magic light and the last thing he heard before being teleported away was the cackle of the witch coming from down the tunnel.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Choose Your Own Age
Walking in Paws ch.1
Marcus's Baby Day 1
Finally got to reading the first chapter here. Looks good, your spelling and grammar are pretty on point too. It has also been an enjoyable read thus far.
If I may make a suggestion, perhaps you should put links in the description for people to be able to navigate directly to the next chapter when you get the chance?
Very compelling story. It's so nice to see a AR adventure, especially one written from you. Its not every day that I see you write. I love it. ^^ The medieval setting is cool too. I like little wizard Ozzie. Can't wait to see what you come of with, sweetums. Keep being creative. uwu