I looked over the dark parchments that sat on my desk, and raised my eyes to meet hers. Her eyes, clear and blue, reflected the pale light of the afternoon sun as it dipped lower, the bright rays streaming from the window behind my chair. I smiled at her, pleasantly, reassuringly. Despite the excited sheen those eyes held, I could sense she was nervous.
Not that I could blame her. Seeing a craftsmage for the first time usually tended to emplace a sense of awe in people. Not because of what we look like, heavens no, but rather, because of what we can do. The molding of flesh and bone is not the easy trick the fables make it out to be.
Glancing down at the papers again, I raised my eyebrow a little as I read her age. Twenty two summers, barely a woman. Seldom were they that young. I heard her stiffen; she must have seen my surprised expression and became worrisome.
"Well, then, my child," I said, smiling to place her back at ease, "I see everything is in order. Are you ready, then?"
There was a brief moment of hesitation, then a short, subtle nod. I smiled and pushed my chair back from the marble desk, laying the papers off to one side. I didn't expect anything less. She had been waiting in the hallway for several minutes before she was led in, and had another eternity of delay as I read and reread the flowing script on her charter of authorization. Several times, she had glanced up at my office, her eyes flitting from one object to another, quizzically, trying to divine their origins. The ornate bronze and oak bookshelves... had they once been moving, living people? What about the very carpet below her feet, with its stylized figures of coupling angels? Had that once been alive? Did they have a family? Relatives? Friends who missed them?
As I stepped from behind my desk, I heard a light gasp of astonishment from her. Following her startled gaze led me back to my own chair, backlit against the setting embers of the dusk. The delicate rosewood face that topped the large chair shifted ever so slightly, and a smile gently crept across it, so subtle you could have missed it in an instant. Seeing the young girl's sudden mystification, I walked back to the chair and lovingly drew my hand across the carved hair that flowed from the top of the sculptured face and flowed down to meld with the chair's back.
"Yes, child, she was much like you... a young woman, ripe, beautiful, full of love. She still is, of course, merely in a different element." I smiled at the young girl again, and patted the carving with my hand. "On the other hand, unlike you, she was sold to me -- I did not have the pleasure of crafting this work. But I assure you, the standards of quality are the same, regardless of the guild branch. She may have had nothing before, maybe she could have had everything. No matter. Now, she has a purpose. She is loved, and cherished, and appreciated. A work of art, eternal."
My soothing speech and gentle words seemed to ease her apprehension, and at my suggestion, the young girl stood and preceded me through a tall archway that led from my office to my studio. Her raven hair moved like ripples through silk as she walked ahead of me, and I smiled. Long, beautiful hair, such a delight to work with. It hung about her like a smooth, flowing sheath, her face outlined as if in an ebony frame. Hair, as any craftsmage will point out, is probably the hardest element of the human body to work with. This one however, promised to be different.
I proceeded to a series of pegs upon the southern wall, and removed my robe and shirt, leaving me in my linen trousers and boots -- my preferred outfit when crafting. Knowing the ordeal ahead of us both, I contemplated disrobing to only my loincloth, but decided against it. Turning, I smiled, seeing as she was still clad in her blouse and skirt.
"You'll have to remove those, you know." She smiled a little, her smooth white skin tingeing with crimson as her modesty got the better of her. I waited a few moments for her to get comfortable, and presently the blouse and skirt were shed from her form. They lay on the floor beside her, and as I leaned down to pick them up, she spoke her first words to me.
"Will... will it hurt?"
To say I was startled by her question would be an understatement, and as I straightened, I saw the fear in those eyes. Laying one warm hand on her shoulder, I comforted her.
"Of course not, child, of course not. It will feel wonderful, like being born anew."
In a very real sense, it was. I let her clothes drop into a small wooden barrel by the door. She would not have need of them, and I certainly wouldn't. Walking towards her, I stopped at the traditional two footfalls distance, and took a deep breath. I smiled at her; she smiled back, sweetly.
"Are you ready, child? For if you are, I shall begin, and there is no turning back. If you are not, however, say so now and I shall do nothing further."
There was a long uncomfortable pause, and for a moment I was sure she would decline, scoop up her clothing and run from the studio. But instead, she looked up at my face, and smiled -- not a nervous smile, not a smile of false reassurance -- but of resolve.
"Yes." she said softly. "Begin your work, craftsmage."
Her sudden determinism was reassuring, and I nodded. I walked around her several times, appraising her form, studying the contours and curves of her soft body. With each revolution, her eyes drew heavier, the lids closing. A slow, intoxicated smile drew across her lips, and her body seemed to wash itself clear of all her tension.
She was an impressive woman, of that there was no doubt, with firm, tight calves and smooth, milky thighs. My eyes drew further upwards along her frame, feasting in the soft, rounded curves of her rump, the equally inviting sweep of her mons. Her pubic region was bare, shaved smooth as was the fashion these days in Arasim. That was all the much better: as mentioned before, hair was always the most difficult part of the transformation.
Her beauty did not stop with the silken curve of her sex, however, and as my critical eyes continued their upwards gaze, I was rewarded by the sight of a firm, taut stomach, a gracefully-arched back, and two small but well-proportioned breasts. I stopped on the last circle about her, and reached out, feeling the weight and softness of one globe. Rubbing my thumb along the nipple, it stiffened and puckered. Its owner gave a small gasp, but otherwise was quiet. Her eyes did not open, nor did I expect them to. By now, the crafting had started, and there was little either of us could do to stop it -- the dangers of an aborted craft were too great to entertain.
Leaving the pale breast to join its twin, I released my tender grip and instead raised my hand to stroke at her cheek. The face was broad and somewhat angular, yet well proportioned and exotic in character. Her bright blue eyes, closed now in anticipation and sorcery, tilted upwards at the outer corners ever so slightly. Her nose was small and delicate, the lips full and soft. I slipped my fingers the hanging curtain of hair, and began the true crafting.
Crafting, unlike the boasting of many a song and minstrel's tale, is not an easy task. There is no snapping of the fingers, no singing of another shape. It is hard, intense work, pure and simple. I began by lifting my hands, palm outward, and pressed them up against the boundary of her spirit. For most, it is an inch or two from their body, yet for her, nearly a half foot. I smiled again at the ease this one was affording me, and I knew that despite any hesitation earlier, her soul wanted this far more strongly than her mind could come up with excuses against. My hands, a craftsmage's tools, smoothed along her spirit body, and as I softened the ether, so did I the flesh.
The air grew warm in the brick-and-marble studio, and after a few moments of this preparation, I did in fact strip to my loincloth after all. This type of change was guaranteed to build heat, and I wanted no distractions such as the clinging, sweaty cloth might provide. My hands glided along her body, inches from the pale skin, and the flesh began to glow like a fiery brand. The heat was intense, yet she could not feel it. Indeed, the only one inconvenienced by the temperature was myself, as I felt rolling beads of perspiration trickle down my bare skin.
She groaned, arcing her head back from the waves of pleasure caused by the crafting, and reached one flame-red hand towards her sex. The flesh there was taking on a more intense white-hot glow than the rest of her did, and I gently pushed at her spirit, guiding the curious hand away. She moaned loudly in disappointment, her head rolling from side to side as the energies of the enchantment coursed within her. Her insistent cries were more than enough reason for me to continue -- her sexual energies were mounting swiftly under the effects of the spell, and I intended to use that to my advantage.
As the glow intensified, with patterns of orange and yellow dancing on the white-hot flesh, I began the core of the ritual. Her body slid downwards under my mental urges, and she lay on her right side, propped up by her elbow. Gently, I pushed her spirit body here and there, the flesh connected to it moving in unison. Her right leg drew towards her chest, sliding along the smooth marble of the studio floor, while her left leg angled back, the tiny toes curling back with the arch of her instep. Smiling, I noticed that the angle of her hips had parted her sex, and smiling to myself, I released the hold on left arm, allowing her curious fingers to slide towards it. Gently, she parted her womanhood, and slid a single finger within; her movements became more and more primal, more and more carnal. This was the moment I was waiting for, and as she tossed her head back in the throes of orgasm and opened her tiny mouth in a scream of release... I closed the crafting.
Time stood still for a second, or perhaps it only appeared as it did; I always felt like that when a crafting was over. Smiling, I watched as the thick hot whiteness of her form subsided. The young girl was poised as she had been at the moment of orgasm, her head tossed back, mouth screaming a now silent prayer of ecstasy, one hand gingerly caught between her legs. The white softened, to be replaced by oranges, then reds, and finally, as the last of the crimson tinge shrank to her torso and disappeared, the end result became apparent. The once living flesh, now clear, crystalline glass. A wondrous glass sculpture, arced and poised at that most unique of human instances.
I reached my hand out and felt the icy coolness of the statue. Inside, she still roiled, caught in that moment of passion, and the wondrous, expressive look frozen upon the statue proved it so to even the most uneducated of men. I stood up and recovered my robe from its peg, and turned back in awe.
The glass statue had caught the rays of the setting sun through the arching windows, and tossed them about joyously. I smiled momentarily at the kaleidoscopic patterns of color that danced around my studio, then turned and walked back to the office.