The Sorcerer's Apprentice

We were just kids really, barely 18. My buddy, Brian and I, tended to think of our neighborhood as our turf, and everything it as fair game when on a night out looking for some sort of trouble to get into. We had been practically inseparable since childhood. It was Brian who talked me into breaking in to the store from the alley.

"I just want to look around, Mark. I'm not gonna take anything. I know this guy is never very careful about locking up. It's really cool in here" he said.

"All right, I'll stand watch, you pick the lock," I replied, anxiously.

He reached down and simply unlatched the back door.

"See what I mean?" Brian said. "He's not very careful."

We stepped cautiously into the stock room of the store. The sweet aroma of pipe tobacco was almost overwhelming. There were shelves of pipes, tobaccos, and paraphernalia everywhere. I didn't recognize where we were when we were in the alley, but now realized that we were in Erlin's pipe shop, which had been on our street for as long as I could remember.

"Brian, why on earth did you think I'd want to come in to a tobacco shop, for god's sake!"

"I've always sort of... well, been into pipes. I think they're so cool," he said, in awe of his surroundings. This was a side of him I did not know about.

"Seriously? Why?"

"I don't know. The smell, the look of a briar. There's just something so masculine about it. One of my teachers in school was a pipe smoker, and I always admired him. It just looked good on him."

"You've got a thing for pipe smokers?" I asked.

He turned red. "Not exactly. I just love pipes."

"Ever tried one?"

"Never had the nerve. A guy my age with a pipe, I mean. Someday, though, definitely," he replied.

We walked out into the front of the darkened store. There were display cases filled with every kind of pipe imaginable. It did nothing for me, but Brian seemed to be in his element. I had never seen him like this. He picked up a half bent Italian hand made pipe, and held it gently in his hand, stroking the satin smooth briar.

"Absolutely beautiful. Look at that perfect grain," he said. "Beautiful. What I would give to be.." He put the pipe up to his mouth, and gently clenched it in his teeth. I could swear the guy was falling in love with that pipe.

"You look ridiculous!" I chuckled. Poor guy, so young and scrawny, with that big pipe hanging from his mouth. I was beginning to think Brian was one weird guy. He ignored me and continued rummaging through the displays, fascinated, the pipe still in his mouth.

"Maybe. Maybe I'll just take it. Just this one. And some tobacco."

"I thought you said we weren't going to take anything. Come on, let's get out of here. You're starting to creep me out," I said.

Just then, an overpowering, sweet smell hit my nose. I looked up, and the pipe in his mouth was billowing smoke. Brian looked amazed, and terrified.

"What the hell are you doing? How did you light that thing?

"I didn't. I...I didn't I swear. There was no tobacco in it, but all of a sudden it just started by itself!" he said. He continued to puff furiously on it and seemed to be very good at it for someone who had never tried it before. I was terrified.

"Put it out. We're getting out of here now!"

He reached up to take it from his mouth. Then he stopped. He began to look dazed, and then stumbled to his knees.

The smoke was now a thick haze in the room, and there was something in the smoke that was making us both feel weak. I was beginning to black out. I reached for him and fell. That was the last thing I remembered.

When I awoke, I was in shackles, in the back room. I was in a stupor, and looked around and saw Brian chained next to me.

"What the hell happened?" I said, as Brian came to.

"You broke into my store, that's what happened," came a deep voice from my other side. I looked with a start, and saw a huge man towering over me. He had to be at least six foot four, a massive upper body with bulging arms the size of my calves. A thick, graying beard covered his face, and from his mouth hung a huge pipe, smoke curling up from it as he spoke. He was mostly bald, but his body was hairy, with fur curling up above the top open button of his flannel shirt. I noticed a tattoo of a pipe near his wrist. It was tiny and almost looked like a large freckle at first. "I don't appreciate you little boys messing with my property. I'm going to have to teach you a lesson."

"Let us go. You've got no right to chain us up like this" Brian said, now fully awake.

"Rights. Please." The man sniffed. "You trespass, you pay."

"Oh? Just how are you going to make us pay, old man?" Brian sneered.

"Shut up Brian!" I said. I didn't appreciate Brian antagonizing this guy any further.

"It looks like your friend here is lacking in manners," said the man, glaring at Brian. He walked over in front of Brian now, as if sizing him up.

"Please just let us go, we didn't mean any harm. Come on," I implored.

The man ignored me and continued to look Brian over. "I have plans for the both of you. Your fate is sealed."

"Knock it off!" Brian shouted, "You think I'm scared of you? What can you possibly do to us?"

The man turned to me now. "You see, I'm more dangerous than you can possibly imagine. I have powers beyond any mere man. You might say, I'm a sorcerer, of sorts.

"Oh great. Look at this guy, Mark. What we have here is a geek! " Brian rolled his eyes.

I was furious. Why was Brian egging him on?

"You," he said, looking at me "I like you. You have some respect for me. I will make you my apprentice. I will teach you things beyond your wildest dreams, and in return you will serve me. Your friend on the other hand, was made for only one purpose. You say you've always been into pipes, my young friend?" he said, stroking Brian's cheek. Brian flinched and pulled away. "So be it. You have always been into pipes, so now you will, forever more, be into a pipe."

With that, he muttered an incantation: "Flesh into smoke, smoke into briar, if it is pipes that you love, then a pipe you shall be." He then took a deep draw on his pipe, and exhaled in Brian's face. The smoke poured out, and began to envelop Brian. It grew into a great cloud, and swirled around Brains feet, and began rising up over the rest of his body. For the first time, Brian looked frightened. He began to twitch and writhe in his chains.

"What's happening to me? I feel..." Brian was now becoming encased in the dense cloud. The man produced another pipe from his shirt pocket and held it in Brian's face. I recognized it as the one Brian had been playing with in the store.

"Take a look at your new body. You admired it so, that I thought it would be a good home for you" the man said.

Brian's eyes grew wide with terror as he stared at the pipe. It was the last I saw of my friend's face before the smoke covered him completely. The smoke now danced around like a storm cloud, pulsing and swirling. I heard a muffled moan from Brian, which then faded away. Oddly, it didn't sound like a moan of pain, more like one of deep pleasure. The cloud suddenly began to condense into a thick mass, and Brian was gone. Only the smoke remained. Then the cloud rose, began to swirl ever faster, and poured into the pipe that the old man held in his hand. All at once, it was over.

"Your friend's essence is now in the pipe. He is very much alive, but no longer human. He is where he was always meant to be. All record of his human existence has been erased from time. As for you..."

He turned to me with a grin. I was pulling at the chains so hard my wrists were beginning to bleed. I couldn't believe what I had just seen.

He pulled out a bulging, worn leather tobacco pouch, and began gently filling the pipe that contained my old friend. When it was ready he held the pipe to my lips, and inserted it in my mouth. He fired up his lighter, and held it over the bowl and ordered me to draw in. I tried to resist, but felt a great pain in my abdomen.

"Whenever you resist me, you will feel terrible pain." he explained. "If you obey, you will feel bliss. In this way I will train you to serve me without question."

The pain was unbearable, and I quickly gave in. I drew on the pipe, and felt the thick, sweet smoke roll into my mouth. I was surprised to find the sensation delightful, and drew in and puffed out again and again, feeling new instincts fill me. I knew exactly how to keep the pipe lit now. The pain was replaced will a feeling of relaxation and peace I had never known. I smiled and felt no fear. I puffed on the pipe and, while I can't quite explain it, I sensed Brian's presence in the pipe.

The man introduced himself as Mr. Erlin, and explained, "You, too, have now been transformed. You will be a pipe man for the rest of your days. You will never go more than a few minutes without your pipe, and it will become as important to you as food and water. This pipe will be your favorite. A good pipe is a great friend. You and your friend were inseparable before, and you will continue to be."

With that, he released me from the shackles. I felt no need to fight it anymore, and I puffed on the pipe as if I had been doing so for many years. I noticed with amazement that I, too now had a tiny tattoo of a pipe near my right wrist.

"I will train you. When you do well, I will reward you with other transformations as well. If you disappoint me, you will dearly regret it" he gestured to my pipe as he said this. "Do you understand?"

I simply nodded and continued to draw on the pipe. I was surprised to find myself studying him, and admiring him. I found myself envious of my new master's massive hairy body and thick perfectly trimmed beard, and wished that I could look like him. Where were these thoughts coming from?

As the days went by, he taught me more about his pipes and had me work in the store with him. I was given quarters in a room above the store. It contained a comfortable living room, with a soft leather chair and a rack of at least 50 fine pipes. He also supplied clothes, mostly flannels and jeans, with lots of pockets for my pipes, and a leather pouch that I filled daily with tobacco. I quickly learned everything one could know about pipes and tobaccos, picking it up effortlessly. I now understood what Brian had seen in pipes. I smoked continuously and pipes were the center of my existence. I could no longer imagine living any other way. As with Brian, Mr. Erlin had wiped all memory of my former existence from the neighborhood, and I was a stranger to all but him. I felt self conscious, though. My scrawny young body looked odd with the now essential pipe that hung from my mouth. After two weeks, at closing time one day, Mr. Erlin commented on my performance.

"Congratulations. You have learned quickly, and served me well. It's time I rewarded you." He said nothing else, and left me to lock up the store. I went to my room, and caught a glimpse of my self in the mirror. To my surprise, a thick, black beard now covered my face. I also noticed that I looked a bit older, perhaps 25 or 30 and was just slightly stockier. I liked what I saw. This was my reward.

More time went by. I observed my master's methods at work, in the store. He went about his work quietly but most effectively. Each man who entered the store, for whatever reason, even if they were just delivery men, left as an avid pipe smoker. For some men, this was an easy, subtle shift, from the occasional smoker to the all day, every day kind, while for others the transformation was more dramatic.

There was a steady stream of curious young guys, some just kids, who liked to hang around the store. They were obviously interested in pipes but not able to get up the nerve to do more than look. Mr. Erlin took great pleasure in transforming them radically, into big burly pipe bears, bearded, heavy set guys who would forever more have pipes clenched in their teeth. Some were made into blue-collar workmen types, others into muscular, tattooed leather men. The more extreme the change, the more he enjoyed doing it. In all cases, though, when they left the store they were irrevocably transformed, never even realizing they had ever been any other way. Mr. Erlin wryly referred to this as "building his customer base". He did indeed have the most popular tobacco shop in town.

One day, a young guy, probably now more than 16 or 17, walked in. He nervously perused the display cases, and stopped at one and began admiring a fine English oom-paul style pipe through the glass. Mr. Erlin strolled over and opened the case, and pulled out the pipe.

"You have good taste," he said. "This is a very fine pipe, one fit for a proper gentleman. The shape makes it easy to carry it in your teeth all day without strain. Here. Try it." He handed the pipe to the kid, who hesitantly took it in his palm. "Go ahead. Put it in your mouth, see how it feels." The kid looked about, startled and embarrassed. "Seriously. Give it a try." The kid lifted the pipe to his lips. It hung awkwardly. In that instant, Mr. Erlin began his work. "For a pipe of this size and shape, I shall create a gentleman to match." Immediately, a thick, mostly gray beard sprouted from the young man's cheeks. His face grew rounder, wrinkles forming at his now heavier jowls. The hair vanished from the top of his head, which was now crowned with gleaming bald skin. The remaining hair on his head became silver. His stomach grew into a great potbelly, spilling over the top of his belt. His posture shifted and adjusted to counter his newfound girth. He was now clothed in a well-worn tweed jacket, with a bulging tobacco pouch and another pipe clearly visible in the chest pocket. The gleaming new pipe that he had placed in his young mouth seconds before was now old and well broken in, filled with his favorite blend, the smoke curling gently up through his furry face. He held the pipe loosely and comfortably in his teeth, letting it rest against his beard. As if he had no idea what had just happened, he continued to browse through the displays, puffing casually for more than a half hour before settling on another fine briar to buy. Mr. Erlin let me ring up the sale.

"Thank you, young man," the gentleman said, smiling, as I handed him his purchase. I was in awe. Where minutes before had stood an awkward teenage boy, there now was a portly, bearded, dignified middle aged pipe smoker. He turned and strolled out the door, pipe smoke trailing behind him, blissfully unaware of his amazing transformation. Mr. Elrin beamed with pride at his latest accomplishment.

As time went on, Mr. Erlin gave me lots of reading to do, to learn the basics of his craft, and I enthusiastically pored over my homework nightly. He made it clear that I was not to read ahead, and was to follow his lesson plans strictly. Soon I was able to do the more minor transformations myself, and I have to admit it gave me something of a high, not to mention the occasional hard on. However, I had an incentive to learn as quickly as I could. I hoped someday to learn how to transform my friend Brian back to his old self. For my continued good behavior, my master occasionally gave me more rewards. On one occasion, he gave me a more massive upper body, on another, more body hair, then a deep baritone voice, then a bit of gray in my thinning hair, until I could easily pass for 40. After about a year, I was a big burly bear, a powerfully built, bearded pipe man. My pipe was like an extension of my face and I was comfortable being seen with it anywhere.

As time went by, my power grew and I became more and more skilled, and I became a little bored with the often menial tasks my master demanded of me. Like any apprentice, I began to sometimes forget my place, and began to resent my role as eternal servant. I was growing frustrated that I was still unable to find out how to transform Brian, and I often snuck into my master's private office, voraciously reading every text he had. I had fooled him; I was much further along in my studies then he knew, but I was playing a dangerous game.

One day, a man entered the store. I immediately recognized him as my own older brother, but he of course did not recognize me. I looked at Mr. Erlin, who shot me a look that said, "you know what you must do." I cringed at the thought. I had always respected my brother, and I didn't want to do this. He had come in to the store to get some cigars for his friend's bachelor party. My master had no use for cigars, but during the cigar craze began selling them as a way to lure trendy yuppies into his store so he could make them into pipe men. I directed my brother to the cigar case. He knelt down to look in. I looked at my master again, and again he made it clear what he wanted. He was testing me. So, I thought, he wanted to see what I could do? I'll show him. I summoned my skills, closed my eyes, and muttered an incantation. When my brother stood up, there before me was a 300 pound, bearded monster of a man, arms like tree trunks, tattoos covering his bare biceps. He was smoking a huge briar, smoke pouring form his mouth and nose. He asked me in a deep gravelly voice for a particularly obscure brand of strong English tobacco, which I got for him. He paid me, gave me a smile, and tucked the tobacco into the pocket of his leather vest, and walked out, forever transformed. I looked over at my master, expecting a look of approval. Instead, he glared at me.

"Where did you learn to do that?" He asked. "There's no way you could be so advanced unless you have been looking ahead."

"So what if I have?" I said defiantly, my knees trembling. "I've become very proficient. Perhaps someday I'll be better than you." I regretted it the minute I said it. But it was too late. Red faced and furious, he walked over to the door and placed the "closed" sign in the door and threw the latch. He turned to me.

"Get in the back room. NOW."

I cowered and did as told. He followed close behind.

"I cannot tolerate insubordination from my apprentice. By learning too quickly without the proper guidance, you have become a danger and a liability to me. You have failed utterly to serve. You will now pay the ultimate price, as your friend did. But first, I'm going to have a little fun with you."

With a simple gesture of his hand, my clothes vanished. I stood naked before him. He bent down and blew smoke at my dick. In an instant, the smoke began to swirl around it, and I felt a searing pain and moaned. The smoke cleared, and where my dick had been, was now the shank and curved, gleaming stem of a new pipe. I looked in horror. He stroked the stem, and I quivered. It felt magnificent.

"Get used to it, boy. You couldn't serve me as an apprentice, now you will serve me as my pipe." He moved his hands down, and again there was searing pain. I looked again and saw him caressing two briar bowls where my balls had been. I could see he was going to take his time with this, and my mind raced trying to remember anything that I had learned that could stop him. He took out his tobacco pouch, and began to load my new bowls with tobacco. It felt so good that I had difficulty concentrating. My heart pounded as he flicked his lighter on, and placed the flame over one of my bowls. I felt myself drawing it in, as if this was natural for me. The smoke poured into my body.

"That's right, pipe boy. Get used to your new instincts. Go on, draw it in." He lit the other bowl, and the feel of the warmth of my bowls, the smoke coursing through me, was irresistible. The smoke began billowing from my mouth, as I rhythmically drew it in to my body from below. Then he began sucking on my pipe stem, and the sensation grew in intensity tenfold. I could feel my resistance slipping away. It was if he was seducing me into my own transformation. He smoked both bowls all the way down. I was nearly in a trance. When the pipes went out, I felt disappointed, empty, and anxious for more.

"Not enough for you, pipe boy?" he said. "Want more?"

I wanted to say no but shook my head yes. The temptation to give in and enjoy the incredible sensations I was feeling was almost overwhelming. I desperately tried to hang on to my rational self, my mind racing as I tried to remember every bit of sorcery that I had learned .

"Good boy. Let's see what else we can do. You want to be briar bad now, don't you? As a matter of fact, why turn you into just one pipe? How about a few different shapes?

I felt weak and fell backwards, sitting on the floor with my legs in front of me. Again he blew great clouds of smoke, which wrapped around my legs. I twisted in agony, and this time when the smoke cleared, both of my legs had become pipes. My feet had become massive briar bowls, my legs great briar shanks which connected to curving black stems near my waist, forming two full bent pipes. He filled these with huge amounts of tobacco, and lit them, the smoke pulsing all the way through my body. He filled and lit my other two bowls again, and I laid back, smoke pouring from my mouth, in ecstasy.

"I don't think that's enough for my pipe boy. Let's take it another step, shall we?"

Again, I wanted to say no, please, but all that came out was "please..."

Now, as my own smoke billowed out from my 4 bowls, I was losing all ability to resist. I willed the smoke to swirl around my arms. I felt the stiffness set in and was actually pleased to see the beautiful briar grain of the pipes that my arms now became. One was a free form pipe, with straight grained free form bowl where my hand had been and just a slight bend in the stem where it joined my shoulder. The other arm became a straight, with a billiard bowl. My own powers were now pushing the transformation forward, and now all 6 of my pipes were burning, filling me. I looked down and saw my abdomen beginning to show a gorgeous burled wood grain, as it became no longer part of my torso but a great shank of briar. I was already forgetting what it felt like to be human. Being a vessel for smoking, with warm smoke nourishing me and coursing through my hollow body, now felt right.

"Want to see what a magnificent creature you're becoming, pipe boy?" he asked. He held up a mirror, tilted so that I could see my entire form. I was astounded by what I saw. I was becoming a smoking machine. All that was left in human form was my head and chest. As I looked in the mirror I effortlessly formed two oom-pauls where my breasts had been, and he filled and lit those, too. With my new instincts growing in me, I actually found my remaining human form ugly, and saw my briar limbs as things of great beauty. I began to will myself to let go completely, and watched in the mirror as the grain began to overtake my neck and face. My head began to grow large and rounded, the beginnings of a great new bowl, and I tilted my head back and opened my mouth wide, the smoke pouring from it as I anticipated its transformation into the opening of a pipe bowl. I wanted to become briar forever.

"You thought you were more powerful than me. You thought you could outsmart me. But you couldn't could you, pipe boy? Now your pipes are going to be the crowning glory of my collection. You will serve me well. Let go. Let it happen. Your power is nothing compared to mine" he said, his own favorite pipe clenched in his teeth, puffing furiously.

His taunting brought me back to my senses. In a combination of fear and defiance, I was able to hold on to my last vestige of humanity. I knew now that I was making this happen now; I was the one with the power to finish the deed, or not. I suddenly realized that with this power, I had one more chance. It was so simple. Why hadn't I thought of this before? I muttered one final incantation, the very one that he has said to Brian that first day. "Flesh into smoke, smoke into briar, if it is pipes that you love, then a pipe you shall be." The smoke, pouring in huge volumes now from every part of me, grew together in a great cloud, and descended on my master. In horror he looked on, realizing too late that perhaps he had something to learn from his apprentice after all. He fell to the ground and the smoke enveloped him form head to toe in an instant.

"NO!" he cried, his voice muffled in the pulsing, violent cloud of sweet smoke that encased him like a cocoon. He fought mightily, but it had happened too quickly for him to resist and the smoke continued to pour in huge clouds from me. In a few minutes his form ceased to move, his moaning faded and he dematerialized in the cloud. The smoke then coalesced and poured into his pipe; his soul now trapped in briar. In the same instant, the unfinished spell on me was broken, and I returned to human form. I looked down at myself, relieved. I staggered to my feet, and looked in the mirror. I was startled at my appearance. Not only had I become human again, but I was also the same scrawny kid that I had been before. The bear of a man that I had become accustomed to being was no more. I found myself feeling disappointed. I turned and looked at my master's pipe, now his body, laying there. I had to get out of here. But first, well.. why not? I picked up the pipe, caressed its beautiful form, filled it with fresh tobacco, and placed it to my lips. What could be the harm, one last time?

I lit the pipe and drew in deeply. The sensation was extraordinary. I felt a surge of power through my body. All of my master's knowledge was passing in to me. It was intoxicating. I smoked the pipe all the way down, feeling the smoke re-wiring my mind, unable to resist. When I finished, I looked at myself in the mirror. Clearly, my old body simply wouldn't do. In an instant, I transformed myself once again. I was again a huge bear of a man, with a thick beard, powerful body, and a fine pipe... my old master -- that fit my face perfectly. I had made myself into the spitting image of him. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad, at least for a while, I thought. It could be fun. I realized now that I had the ability to bring Brian back, but then I thought, why rush? He had served me well and was a fine pipe. I could always do that another time.

That was two years ago. I now run the shop; I am now the master. Needless to say I never got around to returning Brian to his old form. He's still my favorite pipe and I couldn't stand to lose him. After all, he seems quite content as he is. My old master has also served me well, and has a place of honor in my pipe rack. I have transformed many casual smokers and curious browsers into serious pipe men. I was right, it really is quite fun. Unlike my old master, who always made his transformations in an instant, I let guys have some time to feel the transformation taking place; I love to see the look on their faces as they realize what is happening, powerless to resist. I've even transformed a few of them into briars for my personal collection. Lately, I've been toying with the idea of getting a new apprentice. Perhaps some unsuspecting soul who ventures into my shop...