Shazam

Shazam sat in his rooftop garden, peering into the crystal ball he had placed on the pedestal there... Ever since the Juka had withdrawn from the Britannian cities, Shazam had been following the movements of Lord Blackthorn closely, trying to figure out what his plans were and also to find out who or what this mysterious Exodus character, who seemed to be behind him, was.

Tonight it had been more difficult than usual to get the crystal to show the halls of Blackthorns castle and when it finally showed them, the images in the crystal were much blurrier than usual, almost as if someone was trying to keep him from seeing what was going on.

Although the images were blurry, it was not hard to find Blackthorn between all the Jukas. He was in his chambers, pacing back and forth, as if he was waiting for someone. Before long, a door opened and a dark cloaked figure stepped into the room. The newcomer was definitely not a Juka and it didn't look like one of the golem controllers either, perhaps Exodus had finally revealed himself or maybe it was someone entirely different...

No matter how hard he tried, Shazam couldn't get a clear view of the cloaked figure, who seemed to be even blurrier than the rest the castle. He had to be the reason for the trouble getting through tonight. Well if he couldn't see him then at least he should be able to hear what they were talking about, so Shazam mumbled the incantation that would allow the crystal to transmit sound as well as images. As soon as the spell had been finished, the first words came from the crystal. "Welcome Shazam, you have been expected..."

Fluffy returned home from her carrot-picking trip empty handed, not because she didn't find any carrots, but because she ate them all when she found them, they were just too yummy to leave in a bag.

It had gotten late and she went straight to the garden, where she usually slept on the ground, but up there she found the wizard sitting in front of his glowing crystal ball, mumbling strange words she didn't understand, completely unaware of her presense it seemed.

Fluffy knew better than to disturb the wizard while he was working, after all that was how she had come to be the way she was. She moved closer as quietly as she could, to try and hear what he was saying, but all she could understand was the words "Yes Master".

Then she noticed the staff of the serpent. Ever since the wizard brought it home she had wondered how it would be to hold it, sometimes she could almost feel it calling her to grab it, but she had always resisted, mainly because the wizard always held it in his hand. Now it was leaning against the pedestal, almost touching the crystal ball. The staff looked different tonight, it was glowing with and errie green light and the serpent part of it looked like it was moving. It was calling her, more than it had ever done before, calling her to grab it, she didn't want to do it, but she couldn't resist.

As soon as she touched the staff, she felt the change coming, this was probably not the best time to turn into someting else, but she didn't have enough control over it to stop it. She closed her eyes and hoped for the best, and when she opened them again she was lying on the ground. This was not a form she had ever been in before, she couldn't feel her arms and legs and moving around felt odd. Moving her head around she saw the thick green tail of a serpent, she also noticed that the staff was nowhere to be seen...

Suddenly she heard an unknown voice in the head, "Bite, bite himss! Venom curessss..." The voice repeated those words over and over again, but why should she bite him? He was a nice wizard and she could imagine how much a bite from the fangs she could feel in her mouth would hurt. But then she started moving towards him, she tried to move away, but she couldn't, it was as if someone else was in control.

She felt the venom flowing from her fangs as they sunk into his flesh and then everything went black...

Thorm found them both unconcious on the roof, when he got home from mining in dungeon Shame. He immediately noticed the bitemark on Shazam's leg and the staff in Fluffy's hand, he never liked that staff, it was clearly evil and would have been destroyed long ago, if it was up to him. He took the staff and threw it in the corner and then started putting a bandage on the wound.

After three days they were still unconcious, the healers had left the day before, saying that there was nothing they could do. But then they both awoke at the exact same time.

Shazam didn't remember much of what had happened, but with a little help from Fluffy he pieced it together. Some unknown evil force had cast some kind of spell on him through the crystal ball, the only thing he remembered about it was something about joining his army. The staff had felt the presence of another evil and probably didn't like giving up it's master, so when Fluffy came it used her unique powers to come alive and break the spell with it's venom. The fangs of the staff were still covered in dried blood.

He was still unsure about who the figure in the crystal ball was though, and how his white cloak had changed into a strange shimmering dark cloak. But when Thorm told him the story of the DeLaceys and the meaning of the cloak, he understood that Gorchak was the one behind it. But what were his plans and why did he need an army?

He told Thorm and Fluffy that he would be away for a while and not to tell anyone about what had happened. Then he left for the place he had been told to go to, hoping that the staff would server as a protection agains Gorchak's powers again and also that it would help him fool them into believing he had been turned...