"So what are you?" I asked. "What's your true form?"
The ferret blinked. "You might find my true form ... upsetting. I would seem somewhat alien in my natural state."
The ferret shuffled his feet uncomfortably. "Can't I just tell you later, once we've gotten to know each other a bit better? I've been a familiar for over 300 years, and during my service I've unfortunately encountered many humans who are prejudiced against --"
"Okay, fine, whatever." I held up my hands; we really didn't have time to argue. Whatever he was, I was stuck with him, at least for a while. "Do you have a name?"
"My name in your language is 'Palimpsest'. You can call me 'Pal', if you like."
Smoky roared. He'd grown positively huge; his scaled body was over twenty feet long, and I guessed he'd stand as tall as me once he got his six sets of taloned legs working under him. His tail was long and covered in the bladelike scales. His red-eyed head looked more crocodilian than canine, and his maw was filled with serpentine teeth the length of my hand.
"For lack of a better name, yes, a dragon. But he shouldn't be here." Pal's whiskers quivered as he sniffed the air. "I ... something's not right here. I can feel a shift. I think he's warping reality."
"Warping? How?" I asked, thinking of my brief chat with my dead, damned aunt.
"I don't have a good sense of exactly what's happening yet. But I worry that once torn, the fabric of your world could keep tearing. You were right to close the portal as you did; now you've got to deal with Smoky."
My stomach sank. "Deal with him how?"
"Subdue him, however you have to. He's too dangerous to let run around loose."
Was he talking about killing Smoky? Jesus. I sure wasn't looking forward to that. "Would Cooper's shotgun work, or do I need to summon up the Calad Bolg or some damn thing like that?"
"The shotgun should work as well as anything else," Pal replied.
>> Go on to Spellbent: Chapter One, Part 14