~~~Dedication~~~ Leia Avenrose and tearsofglitter, and you the reader and the reviewer.

~~~Paw of the Panther~~~

~~~Prologue~~~

Broken and disfigured bodies of demonic monstrosities lay on cold stone tables. Human or animal parts replaced their own; legs and arms protruding where they shouldn't be, bloody eyes dripped and hung loosely by thin shreds of decaying flesh. Charr gaped at the many rows of the mage's experiments, her mouth went dry. She held her baby, Talex, in her arms; he squirmed as if he wanted to jump from her. She pulled him closer to her chest trying to comfort him and herself from the ghastly sights before her. With a trembling hand her fingers searched blindly for a crack behind her.

"Enough!" a voice echoed several times within Charr's ears, rattling her eardrums.

Charr flinched and hushed Talex since he had begun to cry.

"You know very well that you came through a portal, therefore there is no way out besides the workings of my magic." The booming voice scolded.

Charr lowered her head and forced herself to regain control and remember why she was here. Purple mist materialized in front of her. She looked upon it with curiosity. As the mist cleared she recognized the hooded mage that now stood before her.

"Zennlin," She breathed.

Zennlin's hands were folded into his sleeves and his head bowed, his hood covering his face. Ruby eyes burned through the darkness of his hood. A pale white hand emerged from it's sleeve beckoning for Charr to follow him. Zennlin turned and shuffled between the rows of the inanimate corpses. Charr shuddered involuntary and followed him hugging Talex close to her body. Charr followed Zennlin through a dimly lit room which was lined with bookshelves containing worn out spell books. The spell books all seemed old, their black bindings were beginning to fade. In one section the black bindings were relitavely new, silver runes were scrolled into the bindings in ancient arcan lettering. The room was circular and the roof went high up into darkness, Charr could have sworn she saw a dragon skull grinning at her through the darkness. Various magical items and spell components littered the room, they were set on wooden crates and on empty stone tables. Magical ring's glisented in the torchlight from the far corner of the room.
From this room Charr was led down a darkened staircase into the depths of the mage's laboratory. At last they came to a large room, moss hung from the ceiling giving the small dank room an unreckognizable odor. The middle of the room was decorated largely with a small stone table that a sleek black marble surface. The stone table was adorned with gold and silver runes, behind the stone table was a shrine to the evil goddess Talakeet. The shrine was in the form of a black widow, but instead of it's bug body a beautiful maiden's torso was in it's place. Four black hairy spider legs protruded from her body on each side, she still had human arms and they came out where they usually were found. The maiden's hair was a raven black and her skin a creamy white, her eyes were pools of the dark abyss changing all the time ever so slightly. Blue fire burned in torches that hung from the walls lighting the sacrifice room with an eerie blue.
Zennlin began preparing the components that were required for the sacrifice, in this case the taking of a human form. Charr couldn't recognize the components Zennlin was using the only thing that she did recognize was one of Zennlin's personal spell books and a jade encrusted ceremonial dagger. Charr watched Zennlin numbly not wanting to admit to herself what she was becoming.

"Bring Talex forward, the table is now ready for him." Zennlin spat.

Charr grimaced. Voices silently screaming within her head she made her way to the sacrifice table. Her grey eyes were shrouded, her face was pale and sunken. She knew now that she shouldn't have gone behind the Mage's Council's back. She knew then the sacrifices, she messed up and she now realized that she had to pay the consiquences. With the life of her youngest child. After many weeks in hiding she finally decided that to end all this chaos she would have to sacrifice her son, she loved her children with all her heart but the only way the Mage's Council might let her live if she sacrificed someone she loved. Someone of her own blood. Charr bit her lip and sat Talex on the cold stone table. Talex had deep crimson eyes and his hair was a dark auburn, he raised a small chubby hand in Charr's direction hoping to catch hold of her locks of dark auburn hair. Charr's grey eyes brimmed with tears, she tried to blink them away but they started to fly down her cheeks landing on Talex.

"Please Talex, understand why I need to do this. They will kill me if I do not." Charr pleaded to the small boy.

Charr held Talex in a loving hug, not ever wanting to leave the embrace. Zennlin was beginning to become impatient. He began drumming his fingernails clicked agianst the stone. Charr understood his impatience and quickly lay Talex back on the sacrifice table. She looked at Talex with regret, wanting so much to take him and run away from Zennlin and the Mage's Council.

"Now go to the far corner." Zennlin ordered.

Charr nodded her head and did as he bade her. A pair of clawed hands rested on her shoulders, Charr bit her lip in order to prevent herself from crying out. Her teeth dug into the flesh on her lip, she bit down harder warm salty blood quickly filled her mouth.

"And if you move from that spot be sure that Braermoth will end your miserable life."

Charr nodded not doubting Zennlin's word, she twisted her head around to get a full view of the creature that was holding her in her place. A behemoth, a most deadly creature. It had the head of an enraged bull, a torso of a minotaur and the claws were like no other. They seemed to be a mix of a lion's and a bear's. It also had a flaming mane and a long whip-like tail, powerful muscles rippled underneath it's purple leathery skin. Braermoth's black eyes stared down into Charr's grey orbes, it snorted blasting hot air onto her face. Charr quickly turned her head back to Talex and Zennlin.

Zennlin pulled out a small velvet pouch from the depths of his robes and began to sprinkle a fine layer of white dust over Talex. He then took a fairly new black spell book and rested it on his left palm; with his free hand he began spelling arcane symbols into the air, swaying back and forth he began his chant. Charr was puzzled by the workings of the spell, a visage of Talakeet came before the shrine. Once the spectral image of Talakeet appeared, Zennlin layed the book down on the stone table and picked up a ceremonial daggar that had a jade encrusted hilt. The specter of Talakeet was pleased, she watched the evil mage advance towards the babe in the center of the stone table. Zennlin still never stopped his chanting once he raised the ceremonial daggar over Talex. Talex looked up at the daggar with fear, but he did not cry. Tears began rolling down Charr's cheeks, she fought with herself to stay where she was. The clawed hands on her shoulders tightened it's grip as if it knew her intentions, claws were digging into her flesh. Zennlin lowered the daggar to Talex's exposed chest. The blade bit in to the babe's tender flesh, Talex wailed, blood swelled around the wound on Talex's chest. Zennlin withdrew the daggar and replaced it with his left hand. Now he was chanting louder a pale blue light was emerging from his hands into the boy's chest. Zennlin moved his hand to the boy's head, pale blue light drifted into Talex's eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears.

"NO! Stop Zennlin!" sobbed Charr no longer able to hide her voice.

She lurched forward, but just as Zennlin had promised the behemoth behind her struck down it's animal like claws ripping apart Charr's body. As Charr's dicced body parts hit the floor the spell was over, and the specter gone.
Zennlin looked up from Talex, dark brown eyes burned into Braermoth's beast eyes. "Foolish woman, she was to die no matter the cause. She was doomed from the start. She should know better than to decieve the Mage's Council, they are to powerful of an organization."

Braermoth grunted as if it understood, Zennlin narrowed his eyes and turned his attention back to Talex. The babe's cheeks were streaked with tears, the wound on his chest begun to close up. Talex looked around the room with no emotion, his actions much resembled a zombie. This brought a grin to Zennlin's mouth, minutes after he then realized that the boy was not dying, he frowned. What's going on here? he thought,Did I cast the right spell? Zennlin grasped desperatly for the spell book he had used during the sacrifice. His eyes bulged and his mouth gaped open when he saw the page he was at.

"NOOOO!" He screamed. "How could this be? How could I cast the wrong spell!"

Zennlin dropped the spell book on the decorated stone table, horror mixed with rage. The snapped open to the page he used for the sacrifice, it was titled Switching a human body into a panther's. It was then that Zennlin realized the transformation of Talex's eyes, they were shaped like a feline's.

/A.N heh heh, so how do you like that? More descriptive! hee hee! It's a little confusing but it will soon be explained once the course of the story begins to play itself out...\\