A Bit of Advice by Ken Young

Outside This Time Round, Ember was approaching the door only to be
intercepted by a tall red head.

"Ah, there you are, Ember - or do you prefer Number One? I need a word
with you."

Ember: "What- who are you?"

"You can call me anything you like, though my name is Varne
EllEllisher. My principal thought you might like to talk to another
shape changer."

Ember: "Who? What do you mean shape changer?"

Varne " Takes one to know one, though with only two shapes you do
seem limited."

Ember: "I am not a shape changer, I am a Number."

Varne: "You are lucky, you have the chance that most humans do not.
The last one I recall was Tirresas. "

By this time Number One is completely confused - Greek myth was not
part of his curriculum. He decides to change the subject.

Ember: "You look like me, only taller."

Varne: "Sorry about that, I have been eating well; it'll take another
couple of months dieting before I can get down to your height without
looking grotesque. Then again, I need the mass to provide a decent

Ember: "Principal? Who is your principal?"

Varne: "Names... what is in a name? A rose by any other name would be
as sweet. Though, in this case, Shakespeare would have been wrong. I
know his name, but using it would in spite of what he says probably
destroy me and you. You can call him Magnus or Melmoth. "

Ember: "What the hell are you talking about?"

Varne: "Somebody my Grandfather called the bastard son of a demon,
Though from what Magnus has told me and what I have seen. I think
Grandfather was wrong. Magnus is much more dangerous than most

Ember: "What?"

Varne: "Sorry I am straying from the point. You have the chance to
try it both ways; personally, I prefer to be female which is a good
thing as Magnus cannot shift form and is definitely male. Anyway, you
have the chance to try things both ways, relax and do it. Don't worry,
your current body has the required instincts. "

The snap kick sinks harmlessly into a form dissolving into liquid.
Spitting, Ember carries on into the pub.

A form comes out of the shadows.

Magnus: "Well?"

The liquid forms into a column and sprouts a mouth.

Varne: "About what you predicted, Lord, though she kicked rather than
using weapons."

Magnus: "I can not be exactly right every time. The idea was not so
much to convince him or her but to get him or her thinking. That bit
about preferring to be female was pushing him."

Varne: "Oh, women get all the fun. Ask Tirresas."