It’s been ten days.

I notice that the shadows at the corner of my eyes grow closer, larger, darker. They also get bolder with every second that ticks. If I don’t do something, they will overpower me.

Abenfarax has proven to be a valuable ally. He has explained the deterioration of skills and the acquisition of new ones as my career in magic progresses. It’s fascinating really, how the mind slowly begins to warp itself as the shadows are let in by the magician. Wild thoughts begin to take form, intrusive at first, then as the mind deteriorates, warmly welcomed. The only way to slow this progression is to form new, highly strategic pacts, and reversing it is nearly impossible.

The mind isn’t the only thing that decays. Motor functions are lost as the magician loses his humanity and the body rots. The only way to stop the progression, again, is to form new pacts, thus aggravating the problem, each new pact bringing the magician closer and closer to an inhuman being. This process is impossible to reverse.

I find it wouldn’t really be that much of an issue if only the creatures weren’t so damn exigent. It’s really a problem. There’s only so much bloodletting I can do a month without shady visits to the hospital, and a great deal of the spirits in the higher echelons demand a body they can possess.

I closed my eyes and put my pen down. It was getting late, the clock on my wall read 2:34 and I had class tomorrow at eight. From the corner of my eye, I saw two shadows, lurking, hissing quietly, and then Abenfarax materialized in front of me, the gray cloud swirling at his feet.

“What have you got there, Master Solomon?” He asked.

“It’s a diary, Abenfarax. I’m chronicling every single day of this cursed mistake.”

Abenfarax was quiet, then said, “A wise decision, master.”

“I’ve grown up.” I closed the leatherbound book I was using and put it back in my desk drawer, then I got up and headed for the bathroom, Abenfarax trailing behind.

When I got there, the image in the mirror greeted me with its horrifying visage. Blood was stuck to my fair hair, and my eyes had been gouged out, leaving black, bloody holes. My teeth had been pulled out, and white maggots were crawling in and out of my mouth. I opened the mirror door and pulled out my toothbrush.

Abenfarax watched me, then said, “What do you plan to do with the knowledge you have acquired?”

Through the toothbrush, I answered, “I’m going to take better care, then I’m going to investigate.”

“I don’t mean to be callous, master,” Abenfarax said, “But if there is another magician in the school, as you suspect, it is quite likely that he is not playing by the same rules as you. This care you take, it could be your undoing.”

I spit. “With any luck it will be his.”

Abenfarax kept following me as I walked back to my room and stripped down to a t-shirt and underwear. He said nothing. I went to the wall and flipped the switch on the nightlight. A calm yellow glow encompassed the room.

From thin air, Abenfarax snickered. I got under the covers, and rolled in the direction of the light, shutting my eyes before the lingering shadows returned.