By Robert Asprin

Skeeve was once a magician's apprentice--until an murderer struck and his grasp was once killed. Now, with a purple-tongued demon named Aahz as a better half, he's on a quest to get even.

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I commented. “And there, my young friend, is the difference between classroom and field. ” “Say, uh, Aahz. ” He stood up, sheathing his sword. “Self-confidence is a wonderful thing, kid, but not if it isn’t justified. Someday we’ll be staking one or both of our lives on your abilities, and it won’t do us any good if you’ve been kidding yourself along. ” “Relax, kid. ” Our strategy upon leaving the hut had been simple. Lacking a specific direction for our search, we would trace the force lines of the world until we either found Isstvan or located another magician who would be able to steer us to him.

It took me a heartbeat to realize what he meant; then I looked up desperately. The feather was tumbling floorward, a bare shoulder-height from landing. Forcing the sudden tension from my body, I reached out with my mind… gently… form a pillow… don’t knock it away… The feather halted a scant two hand-spans from the floor. I heard Garkin’s low chuckle, but didn’t allow it to break my concentration. I hadn’t let the feather touch the floor for three years, and it wasn’t going to touch now. Slowly I raised it until it floated at eye level.

Well, two reasons I can see just offhand. First off, it’s a matter of conditioning. Reflexes. You’ll react the way you’re trained. If you’ve been trained with weapons, you’ll react to crisis with a weapon. If you’re trained in magik, you’ll react with magik. The problem is, if you’re trained both ways, you’ll hesitate, trying to make up your mind which to use, and probably get clobbered in the process. So to keep things simple, Garkin only trained you in magik. ” I thought about it. “That makes sense.

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