Forever Boy by Lita Burke
Life is dirty, difficult, and all too short for the dogs digging up the deadly mandrake roots that wizards animate with minor demons. A pup named Go Fer has an odd magical talent. He does not die from the fatal screams of newly unearthed mandrakes. Go Fer’s master, a prideful minor magician, sees Go Fer’s talent as a fluke saving him the cost of replacing dogs killed by the mandrakes’ cries.
One morning, a young Wizard Kadmeion and his half-elf assistant Bright watch Go Fer at work. This mandrake extraction goes horribly wrong, and Go Fer runs away during the hubbub. After seeking out the wizard, the dog’s life is not the same. In fact, Kadmeion discovers Go Fer is not a dog after all.
An exciting life as the wizard’s familiar awaits Go Fer. Instead of using mandrakes, Bright has built clever clockwork men who pilot Kadmeion’s wonderful airship. Go Fer would have a new name, a new boy appearance, and he would fly with his new master between islands that float above the sea.
But Magic Guild law makes the mandrake harvester Go Fer’s master, and Kadmeion will not go against the guild. Go Fer must return to the dog-murderer, lose his wondrous boy form, and dig mandrake roots until he dies. Which will be the very next time, unless the clever clockwork man and the kindly wizard can get him out of this fatal mess.
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