Nifft the Lean, by Michael Shea, is one of the more enjoyable fantasy books that I’ve read in a while. I first saw it mentioned by Chris K., and then came across a copy in a used book store. I suspect I will have more to say about the book in the future, but for now have rules for a spell taken from its pages.
The spell was the great bibliophile’s only original creation in thaumaturgy–he used it to secure the loyalty of the slaves who worked in his vast archives. It puts your life in the spellcaster’s hand, and until it’s removed he can jerk the heart out of you at any time. It also lets him visualize where you are–quite vaguely, but enough to distinguish between sunlight and the subworld’s lurid sky. (Nifft the Lean, page 123.)
Undle Nine-Fingers’ Life Hook
Magic-user spell, level 2.
Properties: psychic, sustain, touch.
The caster may at any time end the life of the enchanted person. Casting the life hook requires a complicated purification ritual only possible if the target is either willing or restrained. The ritual takes one hour. The spell does come with some minor degree of risk to the magician for as long as it is maintained, because it requires the existence of a spiritual tether. Another skilled sorcerer, if aware of this tether, can make use of it (for example, as a vector for an ESP spell).
This I experienced as a little sore spot in my heart, the kind of pang a large, old scar sometimes gives you–a flesh-memory of pain. (Nifft the Lean, page 129.)