***** Tuesday *****
For Mark this Tuesday started like every other. A shower, breakfast, and checking if he got all his schoolwork in his backpack. Satisfied he left the house. No one to say goodbye. His parents already at work.
As usual, he walked to school as it was only a few blocks away. He wouldn't have minded it much if it wasn't for the small self-help center on his way. It was for magicians. Not the normal kind that practiced healing or mastered the elements. No, this one was for trickster mages. Their goal was to prank other people around them.
Coming close to the center he switched the side of the road just to put a few more feet between him and them. He also walked at a brisk pace. Not always, but often he saw a girl lean against the wall of the center. Today he saw her again. She might have been Mark's age if it wasn't for the fact that he had seen her for years there. Never aging a day. On top of it, she wore old-timey clothes. Like someone from the last century. Rumor was that she was a ghost. Mark didn't think so, but then again having her following him with her eyes always made the hairs on his neck stand up.
As always he arrived early at the school. Sitting down on a bench he waited for his best friend Brian to arrive. Of course, that would take a few minutes so he pulled out one of his study books to cram for a test.
"Nerd!" Mitch Jenkins shouted shortly before he slapped the book out of Mark's hands. Laughing with his buddies as he walked on. Sighing Mark picked it up and mentally shook his head. Why did bullies like Mitch exist?
"Have you signed the petition for…" Looking up after grabbing his book, Mark saw Victoria Evens, class president, trying to engage students who sidestepped her to get into the school. She was kinda pretty Mark reasoned. She would have been popular too he thought if she wouldn't dress down so much or be such a goody two shoes. She was worse than him in that regard and that said a lot.
"Oh please don't ask her out," Brain said as he arrived and saw Mark's gaze in her direction. "She would undo all the hard work I have done to make you less boring."
Mark blushed slightly. Yeah, he too was a bit boring. Raised by good if strict parents. Before he had become friends with Brian he had been the definition of a wallflower. Not anymore. Now he was a hand-span away from the wall. Just enough to get noticed by bullies.
"Just formulating a battleplan to get past her," Mark lied. Another thing Mark had never done before he had known Brian. Now sometimes small white lies slipped past his lips.
"So, my padawan, the training is finally paying off. Maybe soon you can pull your worth in Stormwatch," Brian teased as he mentioned the hero shooter he had tried Mark to get interested in.
"Maybe. For now, let's head in. Classes are starting soon."
"Nerd," Brain said while grinning. Contrary to when Mitch said it Mark didn't mind it a bit when Brian teased him. After all, he was also a nerd. Just of a different kind.
Again Mark was walking at a brisk pace. He didn’t want to be late. His parents were strict and no-nonsense. Of course, they had raised him accordingly. He was the poster boy. Good grades. Good character. Someone to depend on. And behind his back, he knew someone might add boring.
He was on his way home. He usually walked leisurely, but thanks to Brian he got held up. Now he tried to make up time. Right by a small stretch, he had to pause to catch his breath.
Looking to the right, there was the self-help center teaching the lokian way for people bound to trickster magic. He knew that, of the main magic types, trickster magic was the only one that bound against the will of someone and was permanent. In a way becoming a trickster mage was a prank by magic itself. Bounded magicians usually had the compulsion to use their magic for chaos.
But thanks to Loki, a magician a few centuries ago, they found a way to lessen the magic's influence. Lokian mages bound most of their magic into containment vessels and only keeping very little. That little was often used for pranks. They had to play tricks on others or the compulsions might become too strong. Mark knew this. After all, he had seen the educational videos his school had to show. He knew it wasn’t their fault, but staying too long near lokian mages was begging to be pranked.
So every time he was close he hurried to be out of reach again. Normally that worked fine. However, not today. He was halfway through the “danger zone” when he had needed to catch his breath. A bad place to rest, but the burning in his lungs took priority. After all, it was mostly paranoia. Surely nothing would happen. Just like the last few years when never ever anything had happened. Despite his fears, he never had been pranked by those trickster mages before.
When he suddenly wobbled and saw stars he knew he had been wrong. This time something was happening. However, he didn't find out what as everything faded to black as he fainted.
Moments before, a technician was frantically speaking to someone on the phone. The center of "the lokian way" had two containment vessels, but one had broken down last week. Though luck they managed to shift the stored wicked magic into the second tank. Now that tank was under pressure. The technician knew that if that tank would burst, there would be a lot of new people bound to trickster magic. The very thought lured a small grin on his face.
"No mister Mayor. There is no time. If I don't vent some of the stored magic right now it will explode. By venting there could be one or two new trickster mages being created. If it explodes ... dozens. At least."
The technician grinned now fully as he got the permission from the mayor. He didn't care if it was one or a dozen who became trickster mages. As long as he was one of them. He had gone to great lengths to sabotage the containment vessel. With his alterations carefully hidden no one would cry foul play. The technician smirked. In a way it was poetic. His biggest prank done before he became a trickster mage.
Still grinning like a madman he pushed the button for the emergency venting protocol.
Mark woke up groggy. Though the fog over his still sleepy mind he slowly recalled the events. “What did those blasted mages …” He stopped. His voice sounded strange. Way too high. *I hope that can be reversed,* he thought.
Struggling he sat up. The first thing he noticed was white walls and medical equipment. He woke up in a hospital.
Just then a nurse came in. “Good. You are awake. Uhm. Wait a moment. I’ll get your parents and the mayor.” With that, she vanished.
*Mayor? Wasn’t she supposed to get a doctor? Mayor … I don’t like the sound of that.* Mark thought.
Soon his parents came in. “Hey, sweety. Don’t worry. Everything will be alright," his mother spoke in an overly soothing tone.
He definitely felt uneasy and his body felt strange too. He moved to peek under his bed cover but was quickly stopped by his mother. “Let’s wait for the mayor sweety.”
*Something is definitely wrong,* he concluded in his mind. A moment later a thick man entered wearing a brown suit and black shoes, as well as some beige boxer shorts. *Boxer shorts? Why do I know he wears boxer shorts and what kind. Weird.*
The man took a chair and started. “Mark right? I am Mayor Fillmore. I suppose you are wondering why you are here. To cut to the chase there was an accident at "the lokian way" self-help center for trickster mages. One of the containment vessels was about to blow and I made an emergency decision to release some of the stored magic. Unfortunately, you were close by. It appears that you bounded and absorbed most of it. I am sorry to say but you are a trickster mage now. It might also come to you as a shock, but … “
The mayor's voice trailed off for a second. He cleared his throat and continued. “You see while binding itself the trickster magic often plays a prank on the new mage too. In your case, it changed you to a girl.”
Mark wasn’t surprised. Deep down he kinda had expected that. The voice and the strange feelings coming from his body were good hints before. The mayor droned on about that Mark was now legally disabled and he was insured for many of his small pranks if they caused damage. Mark only listened halfheartedly. He was a girl now. How will it be? Intellectually he knew he should be scared. But all his mind could think of was that he certainly could pull off a few pranks with a woman's body. *Oh my poor friends,* he thought.
Then he had suppressed a grin. Next was a name. He was a girl now. *So I should think of myself as a girl. Hmm, what name should I use? What is close to mark? Marcy? Hmm no. Maybe Mercy. Yeah I like that one.* Mercy listened on. Hoping she could start her new life soon.
She was soon released and arrived with her parents at home. Her suggestion that she should be called “Mercy” now, surprised her parents but was quickly accepted. Both of her parents liked order and a girl with boy's name was an invitation for chaos after all.
"Are you sure you are okay Mark? No. I mean Mercy," his mother asked when they arrived at home.
"Yeah. I mean I am not dead. Just gender bend. It will take some time to get used to it, but I'll be fine," Mercy replied. But quietly in the back of her head, a small voice whispered that this was strange. That she was too calm. Too eager to get on with her life. *Maybe it is a shock,* Mercy reasoned. *Once it wears off maybe then I'll flip out.*
"Well, it is late," her mother continued. "We will call your school tomorrow and tell them you won't attend. You will need new clothes and the self-help center called. It is best if they teach you to control your new you. So we will be going there tomorrow too."
Mercy was confused for a moment till she remembered that she was not just a girl now, but also a trickster mage. She felt strangely excited about that.
"Don't worry," her mother said as she misread Mercy staying silent. "You won't miss too much of school. Your father and I talked. We see no reason why you shouldn't be back in school by Thursday."
*Great,* Mercy thought. *I don’t get more time than one day to getting used to being a girl.* Both her parents wanted a return to normal. Even if it was a new normal.
Mercy excused herself and headed to the bathroom. There she stared at the mirror. *Oh this will surely turn some heads,* she thought.
She was pretty but not overly sexy. Her face had an undercurrent that told of innocence. *Good for shifting blame,* she thought. Her frame was slender and a bit on the athletic side. Overall she guessed about 5 feet 6 inches, b-cup, blue innocent eyes and strawberry blond hair.
Satisfied that her body wasn’t a bad one she wanted to head out but stopped. The towel rack caught her eyes. Usually, there was dark blue for her father, dark red for her mother and a light blue for him. Mark. Not today. *When did my mother find time to find some pink towel for me?* Mercy wondered.
Suddenly she was annoyed. Her mother needed to be punished. Not much, but a little. When she left the bathroom the places of her parent's towels were switched. It took some time but eventually, her mother used the bathroom. Afterwards, Mercy sneaked in. As expected the towels were at the right places again. Not for long though. This little game continued for a while till her mother came down to the living room where Mercy was watching TV while eating a late dinner. The look on her face told everything.
"Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself,” Mercy offered.
Her mother sighed. “Well, they warned me about that. Apparently, you won’t have much control over that till the Lokian Mages teach you some controlling techniques. Well better two small pranks than a big one right?”
“Two?” Mercy asked innocently.
Her mother gave her a mock annoyed look and returned all the couch pillows to their rightful place.
Of course, this only fanned Mercy's urge to top her last prank. Right up to the point of going to bed. She was oddly unsatisfied despite keeping mother on the toes all evening.
Just before she drifted off to sleep a thought drifted through her mind. Shouldn't she have concentrated on something else besides playing pranks? Yet the answer eluded her as sleep caught up to her.
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