The Mage-Smith Makes a Collar: Collar

by Rachel Friedman
read the suite from the beginning


The woman came back to his forge on the first day of the following month, clutching a brown leather purse and wearing an even more elaborate cloak as a disguise. Paul was not surprised.

“Is the collar ready?” she asked. She sounded nervous and happy about the prospect.

“Yes,” Paul said, with an odd note to his voice.

“What is it?” the woman demanded.

“People are always told that magic will always give you what you’ve requested, if it is worked correctly,” Paul said, in the same strange tone. “I am a very good mage-smith, and what you asked for was what I have made. You should have listened to the tales.”

“What do you mean?” the woman said. There was an edge to her voice.

“There are many types of things that can be called foul, that can be twisted against their nature.” Paul smiled grimly. “There are such things as human beasts, you know. I understand that you are angry that your cousin inherited the family seat and title instead of you, Lady Glyde, but that still does not mean that you are permitted to kill him. Not even if he had a magical accident as a child.”

Lady Glyde’ s purse fell from her nerveless fingers. Her cloak flew off in her flight, revealing a handsome fair-haired lady, whose rather stern face was distorted by sudden terror. That was all that Paul had time to see before she had vanished through the smithy door. There was a strange ringing sound, and the collar that he had just finished forging rose up into the air and followed her. There was a brief, horrified scream and then silence.

Paul sat down on his bench and tried not to shake. He had been a mage-smith long enough to know what he would find when he finally walked outside, but that didn’t mean that he would like it. The tales warned you to be careful of what you asked for. Why did so few people listen?

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