The "Magician's" apprentice part 1
How and why you had found yourself doing this after popping into this reality was nothing short of a miracle and a bizarre restoration of your general faith in 'humanity', or whatever the equivalent with Mamono should be called. The nice Shoggoth lady, Miss Laura, at the orphanage who had let you stay there temporarily till you were able to get on your feet. Then there was the nice married couple, the Hendersons, who had took you on for awhile just outside the medieval town and you had started renting a room in exchange for farm work; it wasn’t great to be entirely honest, but it was at least honest and they had grown on you like relatives you had accidentally rediscovered. And then finally, you had met Iris who ran the restaurant that you now found yourself working part time as a chef, and full time as a table magician. Apparently your otherworldly recipes had made you incredibly ideal to help breathe new life into the restaurant to really set it apart from the others in the town but once Iris realized you had an entire repertoire of nonsense tricks and gags you could do…
The sweet smile of the large bear woman had sealed the deal. And now, between bouts of cooking mac and cheese or burgers, you would be called upon to entertain guests often even by the guests themselves. Kestrel, the town, wasn’t too far from a mages guild and seemed to be the primary draw of customers who came primarily just to see you, aside from passersby whose curiosities would get the better of them. Apparently the novelty and oddity of a mundus-mage tickling at the want for entertainment and a bit of a mystery was too good to pass up on.
“Alright,” you stated matter-of-factly, pointing to the custom nail in your nose as you grinned mischievously at the small baphomet girl, and even moreso at rest of her band: a party of rather mature looking women in robes, some of which who seemed to have their sons with them. You did think it was odd that all of them had sons, which seemed atypical given the usual gender split in Mamono territory and even the fertility-compatibility issues. “Who wants to pull it out?” Some of the women and their sons grimaced, the small baphomet girl gagging again while a dark scaled Lamia in an oversized witch’s hat rolled her eyes.
Purples, blacks, and hot neon greens colored and decorated her as her purple eyes regarded you with a certain touch of boredom.You had to admit, like most Mamono she was gorgeous and admittedly there was a certain large chested gothic appeal to her, but you didn’t like the bored and dismissive look about her. Had you hooked one? You lived for the moment you found some mage or mundane who thought you were using magic, in fact you absolutely loved it. Especially when their mind melted at the big reveal, though this would one would bring horror and disgust.
“How about you?” you ventured motioning to the Lamia, doing your best to put on a heavily practiced smooth and well enunciated announcer’s voice.
“It’s not really in your nose, there’s n-”
“It is so! I saw!” Squeaked out the small girl as she interrupted her elder, looking green as her goatlike ears flapped and more than just a little disturbed at the prospect of what was going on.
“Astrid, calm down.” The Lamia spouted, frowning before casting an incredulous look your way. “It’s the hammer, it has to be enchanted. Each time he tapped the hammer against the nail it shrank and only appears to be in his head, if anything it’s just barely sitting in his nose.” She explained and the goat-girl calmed a touch, though still looked quite disgusted with your predicament.
“Well miss, if you’re so sure,” you paused dramatically, unable to prevent yourself from grinning stupidly as you motioned to your face. “Please come over here and remove the nail so you can show everyone.”
“Alright,” she muttered as a hush fell over the set of guests. Slowly she moved away from her chair, her long lower half making an indescribable whispering sound on the stone floor as she drew closer.
“Now,” you began as she started to get within arms reach. “Because this is not actually an illusion or trick as you suspect, unless you plan on horrifically maiming me please follow my instructions exactly.” You spouted out, making sure to have a flat and serious tone; it was all fun and games until you had a tear in the sinus cavity. Sure magic could fix it, but it’s not as if you could undo the pain associated with the injury when it occurred. “I will not touch the nail myself, so you will need to gently grasp the head and slowly, smoothly, and with the steadiest hand you can, pull it straight out with no bending or anything. Okay?”
“Yeah,” purple slit eyes regarded yours for a moment, seeming to search for something as she brought her hands up to your face.
“I’m serious now,” you warned as you fought the instinct to reach out and grasp at her wrists, “Please don’t hurt me.” you mumbled out as a half plea, half demand. Memories of various old school magicians who died as a result of bad volunteers came rushing to your mind, the undisputed king of stage magic himself having been done in by a punch to the gut from an overzealous idiot.
"I'll be gentle," she mumbled before tentatively pinching at the head of the nail with just her forefinger and thumb, only to quickly let go as a grimace formed on her face. It was starting, she had to have felt that it wasn't what she had suspected. She made a pained noise before attempting it again, grasping more tightly and giving it a nice slow pull before making a strangled sound as her pale skin began to turn green. "No, no no no…," she half whispered out, shrinking back from you as disgust and fear filled her eyes.
"Are you gonna get all squeamish on me?" You asked loud enough for the others to hear clearly. "C'mon, take it out."
"N-no," she spat out quickly, though she began to shrink back from you.
"Fine, how about you Astrid?" You ask suddenly, turning to the Baphomet. "You think you could be my heroine and save me?"
The small girl bit at her lower lip as her face set into one of determination as she stood up on her chair, large paw outstretched and ready. You moved close, crouching a little to help her get a good grip. Slowly, her furry thumb and forefinger grasped tightly at it as she gently began to tug.
At the first inclination of movement, she gagged loudly before coughing and covering her face with her freepaw. Bit by bit it slid free, nearby some of the women and even their sons began to lose it; Some beginning to gag, others looking shocked while beginning to holler and point.
There was no magic. There was no trick to the 'trick'. You literally had a nail that you had inserted into your nose and very carefully and gently, while using a custom baby-hammer, pushed it into your sinus cavity. And slowly, with each bit of it that Astrid was revealing, the idea that you had hammered a nail into your skull became more real to your small audience.
"And there," you grasped at Astrid's wrist as you felt the end of the nail leave your sinus and gently helped pull it the rest of the way through. "We go." The small girl gasped loudly before making an almost primeval sound for absolute disgust. As she dropped it you deftly snatched it from the air with a flourish, holding out the large nail for the others to inspect.
"And that is the blockhead performed for your viewing… well, pleasure," you couldn't help but grin, knowing that if anything they likely hadn't really enjoyed it at all outside of the shock of it all, "by your local blockhead.". This earned you quick round of applause from the group and what you hoped would be a good tip later.
The rest of your routine for the night went off without a hitch, even after finding out that none of the small 'boys' were any of those women's sons but in fact their husbands. Something that had thrown you for a loop for a good few minutes before you recovered. Apparently 'black sabbath' was more than just a British band and what you had assumed was a mage's group with a great name; they were effectively the inverse of the usual Sabbath. Big, buxom women and small, smooth faced 'boys'. Astrid had been allowed to join despite failing several aptitude tests only because the others were curious as to what a mature and busty Baphomet looked like. You kind of felt for the kid, but if her drive of curiosity was proof of anything she'd likely be just fine.
It wasn't until you stepped out into the brisk night air to begin to head home to your little apartment nearby, that you saw her. Purple slit eyes regarded you coldly for a moment before lighting up with something and the odd whispering sound as she moved towards you rather quickly. Were you that impressive? You had to admit it was surprising, Mamono didn't really seem to have a celebrity culture outside of the hero-worshipping the crazier girls who did insane things to bag a man.
"Anon!" She yelled as she rapidly approached, hands clenching and unclenching at her sides. “Anon I need you.”
“So let me start by saying that that pick up line is definitely not going to work on me, and while you are cu-”
“Not that you idiot! Astrid is missing!” She spat at you, brow furrowing as her face broke into a mix of anger and embarrassment. “She said something about coming to find you and being you're apprentice and now she’s just gone!”
You blinked dumbly, not sure how to respond. If the tiny mage was looking for you it meant that she likely hadn’t let the city, and since these were Mamono lands that mostly meant that she should be safe even if she found ‘trouble’. It’s not like she was an unmarried man. The worst that could happen is her group moving on without her or ending up signing on to work for a Tanuki. You sighed, shoving your hands into your pockets. You knew how Mamono were, you likely weren’t going to be able to get rid of the snake and part of you already was starting to feel guilty about the tiny goat-girl.
“Okay.” you answered back flatly, “I haven’t seen her. What do you want to do?”
“I- I don’t know.” she let out in a defeated tone before seeming to deflate some. All of the earlier anger and panic seeming to drop out of her in favor of cold, final worry. “M-maybe she’s trying to get nails? Or that-” She went silent suddenly, turning round and staring off at some other part of the city. “Those stupid squids!” she yelled out before hurrying off and all you could do was sigh. Having gained nothing out of the interaction at all.
There was a treatment center in town, run by some of the best medieval-psuedopsychologists that the Maou could have inadvertently created. Had the tiny Baph decided to pick out one of your tricks from the routine and was trying to recreate them on her own? It was likely, and seemed to be what the Lamia was thinking. You had done a mind-reading trick as well.
You groaned, standing there on the street by yourself in the dark cool air. You weren’t actually going to do this were you? It wasn’t as if she was in danger. But then again, this was vaguely your fault and maintaining your reputation at this point was a rather big deal.