Sunday, April 23, 2017

Midas Journal 21

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This part originally posted on its own under the title "Holy cow I'm an idiot":

I'm working on a bit more stuff right now, but I just wanted to quickly call attention to something that happened over the last few...months by now, I think?

It looks like blogspot or google or whoever changed the way in which the interface I'm looking at displays comments awaiting moderation, and for this entire time I didn't notice that they were there. So  today I finally figured it out, and there were some twenty comments that I hadn't seen at all! I was seriously under the impression that everyone had completely stopped commenting anything whatsoever, and it was discouraging to think. It's good to know that was entirely my own fault.

Once I get something else up (which should be fairly soon), I'll just append this notice to the start of that so it doesn't take up an entire post, but I just wanted to let anyone interested know that all the comments have been published again and I know what was happening now so maybe I can avoid making this error in the future.

While I'm at it, I'm going through those comments and responding to anything that seems to need responding, so look out for that if you posted something as well.

In addition to that, one of those comments I realized were there recently asked if there could be an email subscription option, so I added that over on the side in case anyone is interested.

Entry: May 10

Today I went to school as a girl. It was..well, it felt pretty normal for the most part, aside from a few of what I would call knowing glances from the people who more or less know what happened. Adena and I had lunch together again, when I noticed something a little strange about her. Or, well, not strange exactly, but different for sure. I wasn't sure exactly how to bring it up, but I did anyway, in about the most awkward way possible. When we were already sitting down, starting to eat, I said, “ seem a little, uh, taller.” I didn't actually mean that she was taller. Actually, she might have been a little taller, but my own perspective had gone down a bit since the last time I'd actually seen her so it was a little harder to tell, but—you know, the point is that her bust had grown. Not a ton, but noticeably.

Of course, her first response was a sly grin along with, “Well, you're one to talk. Last week you were totally flat, but now, bwoom!” (With this she cupped her hands over her own chest and then pulled them outward to mimic growth)
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, feeling a slight heat in my cheeks and my ears drooping slightly. “But—seriously, did you use your Kitsune magic or something to..?”
“Nope, this is just what happens. Anytime a Kitsune grows a new tail, they have a small shift in appearance that makes 'em more attractive. So unless they're in some kind of disguise, nine-tailers are the prettiest people you'll ever see.”
“Um..attractive to who?” I said, thinking about just how long I'd had to deal with that kind of question about my own power.
“I dunno,” she shrugged, “just generally more alluring? You know, to look more trustworthy or just outright mesmerize the opposite sex? It's all to help along the art of deception.”
“So...bigger boobs,” I said.
“Not just that!” she said, a little annoyed. “Sometimes you get a better figure overall, or get taller, like actually taller, or a prettier face, or a more melodious voice..any number of things.”
“Okay, okay.”

I was quiet for a couple of seconds, before I caught on to something. “..So if I could back up a little, you said it's along the art of deception,” I said.
“That makes it sound like it has some kind of intent?”
“Well, of course it does,” she said, putting her hands to the sides, palm-up. “I dunno how that's surprising.”
“But how does magic have an intent? It's's power, right?”
“Not for Kitsune,” she said, shaking her head. “Everything about the way Kitsune magic works is determined by our ruler.”
“Ruler?” This was the first I'd heard of that.
“You know—patron deity, goddess I guess? I mean, technically she can look like anything she wants. The highest possible authority among Kitsune, and...well, it's hazy whether she created us or used to be one of us or what, but basically she's the one who decides the rules.” After thinking for a couple of seconds, Adena added, “I guess that is pretty unusual, though. It's not like werewolves have someone to point to when you ask them why the full moon affects them how it does.” I nodded, and at the same time some kind of spark went off in my head at the mention of the full moon.

It's this Friday. Exactly when the full moon is going to be just seems to be something werewolves learn to memorize, myself in this body included. Am I going to stay a werewolf for that long? I technically remember other full moons, but it's kind of a fake memory, and anyway I wasn't in a pack at the time or anything, so I didn't spend those times with anyone, or really doing much different from usual besides being covered in fur. Scheduling some kind of pack get-together for the night of a full moon seems exactly like the kind of thing Lue would try to do, and I don't really know whether to look forward to or dread that possibility. This train of thought led me primarily to the conclusion that I should get Brian to join the pack as soon as possible so I wouldn't have to deal with that alone.

I had some time to think during the day today, specifically about my power, and how I should or shouldn't try to use it. I feel different about it from how I did at first, or even a week ago; it's not a terrible thing, and I shouldn't treat it like that. But I'm not comfortable altering people's lives arbitrarily all the time, either. I settled on some ground rules to try and work with.

My experience so far suggests it's going to just spill out by accident every once in a while no matter what I do. If that happens, I will try and talk to that person as soon as I can afterward, explain exactly what happened and offer to change them back. I feel like I might finally have enough control over my power to make it change them back, especially if the want it. If they don't want to go back, I'll try my best not to worry about it.

On the other hand, I may sometimes get a feeling someone nearby could change. If that happens, and if I can, I will try and figure out what it is they want that my power would “grant” before touching them. My first instinct is to stay away from someone I might change to keep from doing it by accident...but if it really, really seems like I could help them with something serious, then it could be wrong not to help them. Still, I have to find some way to talk to that person before touching them, and try to explain what'll happen if I do. And then..well, if they want it to happen then I'll let it.

I had to test out these rules a lot sooner than I thought I was going to.

When school was over, I was at my locker, moving things back and forth, and I felt a sharp tug from the weird extra sense that tells me my power could affect someone nearby. It's weird—I never really noticed a sense of magnitude before, but this one at least felt a lot stronger than most of the ones before. My going theory for now is that a stronger pull means someone wants something more, but that's honestly just based on this one time that it was a lot stronger than usual so far.

I carefully turned around to see where it was coming from, and I saw a guy in a wheelchair. Specifically, one of those motorized wheelchairs, like, a person with one of those has probably been unable to walk for a while. His legs looked tiny and weak, which was more evidence for that theory, too. I couldn't help but guess at what it was he wanted so badly, and there was no way I could just ignore it.

I took a deep breath, thinking. I needed to...get him alone somehow, to talk about this. He probably wouldn't believe me if I just put it bluntly, and there was a real risk of him thinking I was pulling off some kind of horrible prank and then leaving in anger if I wasn't really careful about how I approached this. Should I find someone else who knew what I could do, or would multiple people just make it look more suspicious? Eventually I decided to just follow him, and see if I could figure out the right thing to say.

Being a werewolf now, I seem to have a set of instincts related specifically to stalking something quietly. Those kicked in almost as soon as I decided to try and follow him somewhere slightly more private, and I kept myself well out of sight, using the better hearing of the wolf ears to keep track of the electronic whirr of the chair. The whole time I was trying to plan out what I would say once I finally got a chance to, and it seemed steadily more solid with each revision. At the same time, a part of my mind was distracted by how completely bizarre and absurd the situation was. I think if someone told me a couple of months ago that I would soon be a female werewolf stalking an injured person to see if he wanted to turn into a girl I...well, I guess my exact reaction would depend on who had said it, but let's just say I wouldn't have believed them.

I was pleased to find us finally both on an open section of sidewalk with nobody else around. It reminded me a little bit of when I first met Rio, and something about the situation felt...correct. I had fully formed the way I wanted to speak by now, too. In addition to the magnitude thing, I'm also working on the theory that maybe my power has some kind of effect like this sometimes, too, where it helps make things convenient...even though other times, I've changed someone right in front of a crowd and instead it just made them not see anything happening. Anyway, I picked up the pace a little bit to catch up with him, and before I could say anything he stopped the chair, turning half-around to look at me.

“You been followin' me,” he said. “Did I run over your tail or somethin'?”
“Uh...” Of course, my planning hadn't accounted for the possibility he might say something first. I really thought I'd done a decent job following him without his notice, too, so there was also that. And he specifically mentioned my tail, which meant...what? He knew I was a werewolf? How much magic was aware of? Or was he just making a weird expression without any knowledge of magic? I struggled out a “...nooo?” while attempting to process all of that. “I have..something I want to talk to you about,” I said finally, moving around so I was more in front of him rather than behind.
There were a few seconds of awkward silence before I realized he wasn't going to say anything else, and I pushed ahead. “Do in a wheelchair?” As soon as that had come out, I winced. That wasn't how I was going to word that at all! “I mean—no, I..ugh..” I had to bury my face in my hands at this point.
“Well, to answer your question I don't,” he said, crossing his arms. “Am I to 'sume you have some alternative?”

“Um.” I tried to remember how I was supposed to put this. “Look. What if—purely hypothetically—someone could fix your legs. do it, they had to turn you into a girl.” Okay, that was a little better. I don't actually think that saying something as weird as that is 'purely hypothetical' does anything besides make the other person suspect what you're talking about is somehow not hypothetical, at least to you. But it feels like being less direct in that way gives people permission to talk about bizarre things they wouldn't feel okay bringing up otherwise.
“Hnm. A girl?” he said, tilting his head sideways. “I guess that don't matter much, if I could walk.”
I huffed another deep breath. “Okay then.”
“Okay what? You got somethin' to tell me?”

“Uh..” I could tell him that I actually had that power, but it felt like he'd already said yes. And...I could undo it if he didn't like it, right? “I'll just...” I reached forward slightly and brushed my hand against his wrist, just a little bit. He recoiled back slightly, seeming to expect me to do something more drastic, maybe even attack him or something, but I drew my hand back to my side, and he stayed tensed for a second or two before realizing that was it and settling a little bit.
“What's that s'posed ta...?” he started, but of course the touch was already starting to have an effect on him.

The first thing that happened was a little more dramatic and strange than usual. He floated up out of the chair into a standing position, but hovering a few inches in the air like he was being held up by some invisible strings. At the same time his skin was going through the usual cycle of losing a lot of body hair and turning softer and smoother. Next his legs grew, plumping out from the scrawny unused look to normal, healthy limbs, but of course they were more feminine-looking than before. He didn't seem able to change his position much in this weird floating state, but he leaned his head over as much as he could to look down at them as this happened. “Hey, it feels like..” He swung his legs slightly in midair, managing to bend them a bit and wiggle his feet slightly. “ weren't kiddin'?” he said, turning his head back up to look at me.
“Yeah, uh..I just didn't know any other way to get you to believe me,” I said. His hair was starting to grow longer and change color, moving toward red. His body began to slim and shrink down, his face rounding and his shoulders narrowing.

“O-oh, you weren't kiddin' about the other part either,” he said, his face reddening slightly at this second wave of changes. His clothes shifted around too, his shirt's sleeves detaching and spreading out and downward into a cape while the rest of the material grew thicker and paled in color. His shorts slid down off of his hips entirely, split apart at the middle and flowed down along his legs, merging with his socks into a pair of thigh-high leggings; the boxers beneath that were already getting shorter and tighter, but as he lost more height his shirt fell down before that to provide a little decency.
“Well, th-this feels...ain't any words for it...” he said, his voice starting to float upward in pitch. By now his hair was brilliant red, framing a cute feminine face and falling down a little past his shoulders, but its color shifted further, gaining a bit of blue and paling more as it continued to grow out. A big blue ribbon appeared on his head and a collar with a cute little rabbit symbol appeared around his neck while his shirt slid down enough to show some neckline.
“Y-yeah, I know,” I said, echoing the blush on his face with one of my own. I could tell he wasn't going to be male much longer, as his hips began to push out and back and the shirt (now more of a white sleeveless sweater thing) pulled tight against a new inward curve to his waist.

He closed his eyes at this point, his face reddening even more, and a soft “Oh..a-aah!” in a voice just reaching girly range came from his lips. I saw a pair of strings from a pair of panties appear just beneath where the top now reached and somehow I could just feel that the person in front of me was absolutely a girl now. As if to confirm that, she let out another “O-o-o-oh!” as her chest rapidly ballooned forward, stretching the material of the shirt as it went. Her voice hadn't risen in pitch much at all since before, leaving her with a deep alto tone, but still an unmistakeably female one.

As she continued to fill out, I thought she shrank another inch or so, until I realized that whatever had been holding her up in the air had gently let her down. At the same time, a pair of white bits of fuzz poked up from the top corners of her head and rapidly stretched out into a pair of...rabbit ears? That was a new one, I thought. Her hair flowed down well past her hips by now, and had taken on a bright purple color. Her breasts finally finished growing, winding up even a little bigger than mine, and she slowly opened her eyes, raising a small hand to her face and giving a little smile as (I'm pretty sure) a new set of memories filled her mind.

“Th-this is..I can't hardly believe it!” she said, looking down at herself (I think specifically her now-working legs), and then back up at me. “You did this? Really?”
“W-well, yeah..” I said.

She responded to this by immediately tackling me into a hug. She was just slightly shorter than me, so this had the effect of squishing her new assets against my own, and she chose a form of hug that put her cheek against mine and (probably accidentally) brushed one of the new ears against one of mine.
“Thank you thank you thank you!” She said while I awkwardly returned the hug.
“U-um, you're welcome. I guess you're okay with being a girl, then..”
She drew herself back enough to look me in the face, but kept her arms around me. Still grinning brightly she said, “Okay? This is even better than I coulda thought up. Look, I'm already a gymnast!” She finally let go and then did a quick backflip right there on the sidewalk, sticking the landing and giving a small bow at the end. (I should probably mention at this point that the wheelchair had disappeared, it would've been in the way of doing this I think) “Yeah? Yeah? I always wanted to be able to do tricks like that.”

“But—What's the deal anyhow?” she asked, walking up a little closer again. “What'd you do, 'xactly?” I explained to her as best I could how my power worked: Specifically the wish granting plus turns person into a girl thing, and the reality rewrite thing. And I mentioned the detection part, to explain why I'd been following her.
“Well, I got you all wrong. I guess you can't judge a book by its cover, huh?”
“ there something wrong with my 'cover'?” I said.
“You're a werewolf, ain't ya?” she said, looking pointedly at my ears. I nodded. “Well, only thing I ever seen a werewolf do is bully an' hurt Rabbits like me.”

“You're a...rabbit?” I repeated. “So, like actually the animal or..?”
“No, silly. Person Rabbit. Like how you're a person wolf?”
“Well, yeah, you're not a were-rabbit or some kind of like, rabbit spirit or something,” I said, attempting to clarify.
“That'd be silly. Naw, I'm just a Rabbit. I guess maybe all werewolves ain't bad. I just had an awful run in with some when I was young. Or, uh...I guess I didn't anymore?” Her ears flopped to the side slightly in some confusion. “'Cause that's how I got paralyzed in the first place, only now I ain't.”
“Yeah...dealing with multiple versions of your own history is confusing,” I said. “As far as my, like, real of memories are concerned I wasn't a werewolf, and didn't know they actually existed until a few weeks ago. But I have met a few nice ones.”
“Well, don't go spreadin' around that I'm a Rabbit all the same,” she said. “We really don't like folks to know if we can help it. Predator types have a long history of hurtin' us, you know.”

“I don't really, kinda have obvious ears,” I said.
“Aww, those only show up to folks we reveal 'em to,” she said, flapping a hand dismissively. “Although I'm not real exactly sure when I did that for you...”
“It seems like another weird running theme with my power,” I said, “where people who have animal ears hidden to me tend to show them all of a sudden or something.” But that didn't happen with Lue. Was it because she didn't have them 'out' at the time? Or, he didn't, whatever. “I...don't really know how that works,” I admitted.

“Oh, back up a minute. I didn't even introduce myself,” I said. “I'm Kaela, uh...usually I'm a guy named Kael but I sort of used my power on myself to look like this for a while...” I offered a hand to shake.
“Well, nice to meet ya either way,” she said, shaking it. “Ya'll can call me Annabel. It wasn't my name a minute ago, either. Not that I'm complainin'!”
“Yeah,” I said. “Uh, I get that response a lot for some reason. I've just recently decided not to worry about it too much but it's a hard habit to break.”
“Even if I didn't like this, it'd be more'n worth it to have the use of my legs back,” she said, nodding. “I feel like I oughta' reward ya somehow for doin' somethin' like this for me, honestly.”
“Er...don't worry about that,” I said. “It doesn't really take a lot of effort that, as far as I can tell.”
“But ya'll sought me out and even chased after me a little bit to help me!” she said, “And bearin' up to the awkward conversation took some bravery. That's worth somethin', ain't it?”
“W-well, I guess a little,” I said, feeling just embarrassed about it enough for another small blush. “But I don't really like to, you know, relate to people through transactions like that...”
“Well, ya'll can consider me a friend, then,” she said, nodding. “You need somethin' you think I can help out with, I'll be there, alright? Anyhow, I think I have practice pretty soon now, so I gotta go get clothes to change into from home.”
“Practice?” I said.
“Yeah, I said I was gymnast now, right?” she said, and then started to run off in probably the direction of home. “See ya'll later!”
“Um, you too.”

While I waved, watching her leave, I started thinking again. That's always dangeorus. So this was another kind of 'magic person type' I'd run into now, in the form of someone I'd changed who turned out to be that. I started the walk back home on automatic, wondering what kind of person was next (it's a safe bet there will be a next, after all). Demon people beyond Kitsune seems pretty likely. Some kind of dragon person or something? Driders? I have no idea how far down the rabbit hole goes (I didn't really want that pun but I couldn't think of a better expression).

Something occurred to me: Did it really go down that far at all, or was I the one digging it? Did werewolves used to not be real until I touched Lue? or Neko until Rhia? What about witches? From my perspective there's functionally no difference between a world where none of those things existed until the time I “discovered” them. But then, all of the actual people had told me that they'd always been that kind of magic race, and it seems inconsistent somehow for them to have an “honest” double memory about everything else but for my power to weirdly alter things so they were always magic or whatever. I don't feel like that's really how it works. It can't be, right?

I think have an idea of what I can do about it. Assuming I do “discover” some new kinds of magical person in the near future, I'm going to have a way to check if I'm actually adding those things on or not, or at least to see how likely it is that that's happening. The only way for this to give me a wrong answer of “yes I'm discovering existing things” is if my own memories are being changed this way too, and if that's happening then it might as well have always been this way anyway.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The "Best" RPG Ever-30

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This particular part has been an endless source of writer's block to me, for some reason, so I'm very glad to finally be putting it out there. I even have the entire next part written already, and know pretty well what happens afterward, but I just couldn't seem to get past this one part!

Mika's conversation with the dragon-girl was interrupted by something like a low grunt. She looked in the direction it came from to find Zack's wolf looking up at her. "Oh, uh..when'd you get here?" He made another short grunting noise in his throat, which wasn't particularly helpful at answering the question. "Did you see him come in?" She asked, looking back up at Rose.
"Nope. Sorry, like..I was looking at you, and the door's behind me," she said.
"Yeah, that's fair."
"Is this your pet wolf? His fur is so pretty!"
"Well, not mine exactly. And he doesn't like being called a pet." She looked back at the animal: "Well, where's Zack? What do you want with me, huh?" Rather than making another sound, he stood up.
"I think he wants you to follow him," said Rose. She could...remember having friendly animals around her forest now and then, and it seemed like the kind of thing a wolf did to get someone to follow.
"Oh. Well, I guess I'd better do that, then. Anyway, you'd bite me or something if I kept ignoring you, right?" The wolf made a small whine that sounded suspiciously like a 'no' to her, but she stood up anyway. "I'll catch up with you later, okay Rose?"
"Sure!" she said enthusiastically.

"Have fun with your new friends~!" Mika waved and went out the door, following the big canine out onto the streets. It started running off and she was able to run after it for a minute or so before having to stop to catch her breath. The wolf ran back and sat down in front of her while she puffed. "Well excuse me for not having four legs," she said. "If you wanna race, I'm gonna cheat." The witch produced her broom and sat down on it. "Okay, go wherever it is you're going, I'll follow you from up there," she said, pointing up. "Get it?"
He grunted again, which she took to mean yes since he then turned around and started running again. Mika counted herself lucky that the team pet had shiny white fur that was easy to see from above, and followed along with her broom for a few minutes before finally seeing the animal stop at a particular building and coming down to land next to him.

", this is a library," she said, reading the sign over the door. "You want me to read you a bedtime story?"
The wolf growled at her with what seemed like annoyance. "Okay, I guess not. this where Zack is, then? Alpha, or whatever?" The wolf whined again, its tail wagging a bit. "I'll take that as a yes. So why don't you go bug him if you're bored or whatever?" It gave her a deep-throated bark in response, which didn't make any sense. "Okay, I'll go bug him then."

The poor man behind the counter looked like he was going to have a heart attack when he saw Mika's wings and tail, and when she looked just about ready to ask him something he said, "Y-you'll have to ask someone else about the restricted section, ma'am!" before ducking behind the counter.
"Err..." The witch stepped a little closer and leaned over the counter to look at the attendant, who seemed absolutely convinced he had disappeared from sight. "I was just gonna ask if you saw a, uh, wolf person come in here a while ago. A kinda tall girl, white hair, white fur?"
"Oh!," he said finally. "I-it looked like she didn't really know where she was going, but I last saw her on the way to the reading lounge."
"Okay, thank you." Mika started in that direction, and briefly turned around about halfway there to see the man in the middle of the process of slightly raising himself back up, only for him to see that she saw him and instantly squat back down.

The witch found her mark on a couch in the lounge, slumped back and eyes closed, with an open book lying across the top of his chest. Nora was sitting next to him on the same couch, her hand hovering in the air partway to Zack's head. The elf noticed her after a second and withdrew the hand with a soft "Oh!" before crumpling herself emphatically against the opposite side of the couch, her face conspicuously red.
Mika waited until she was closer to them, and spoke very quietly. "What have you two been up to without me, huh?"
"E-err, uh.." Nora's blush brightened considerably. "We were b-both reading to t-t-try and get a better idea of the world, but um..I l-looked up a minute ago and he was asleep," she whispered.
"You were thinking about touching her fur, weren't you?" said Mika with a smirk.
"M-maybe a little..b-but I thought maybe I should w-wake him up since it's p-pretty close to suppertime, too.."
"Well, I don't blame you. It does look temptingly soft, especially after the wash today," said Mika, leaning over Zack's side of the couch. Not having nearly as many reservations as the weaver, she reached out a hand and ran it across one of Zack's ears right away. The ear twitched and he shuddered slightly but didn't wake, and made a soft, high "Mrf" noise in the back of his throat. After grinning at Nora, who now looked nearly as terrified as the attendant had earlier, she made a small show of brushing her palm against the very tip of the wolf-girl's tail before bringing her hand back up to Zack's head and poking him slightly hard in the forehead.

"Gah!" This was enough to wake him up, and he jolted forward enough for the book he was wearing to clatter onto the floor. He looked around in a panicked fashion for a couple of seconds before catching up to his surroundings. He looked slower, first at Nora and then in the exact opposite direction at the witch standing over him. "Oh...was I asleep?"
"Yep! Your pet was getting worried about you, so he went and got me," said the witch.
"Huh. How long have we been here, anyway?"
"P-pretty long," said Nora, most of her blush from earlier gone by now. "We should uh, p-probably head back to the tavern to meet Katherine for supper by now."
"Yeah," Zack shook his head slightly as if to clear it. "Um, sorry I dozed off. I guess I'm more tired than I thought I was..."
"I-it's fine," said Nora, standing up.
"Go apologize to the wolf!" said Mika.

On their way into the inn, the party of three saw a girl in the doorway waving at Rose. "Have fun with your new friends~!" she said, and then ran off, following a white wolf. Aria watched them go more intently than the others.
"What?" said Rayna.
"You'd just get the same answers twice," she said with a shrug. "Let's not keep that dragon waiting." And immediately started into the inn. After sharing a brief look of mutual confusion, the other two followed.

Rose stood up and turned around to wave bye to the witch, only to see Clera and Rayna coming in behind someone she didn't know. "Oh, hiii!" she said excitedly, skipping over. "Who's this? Another friend?"
"Another member of our party," answered the winged girl.
"Yo, I'm Aria." She offered a hand to shake.
"Ohh. I'm Rose, nice to meet you!" she said, grabbing the stranger's hands between her palms and waving both arms up and down a couple of times.
"Um, you too," answered Aria, initially confused by the unusual handshake. When she withdrew the hands the reason became more obvious.
"You're so taall," said the dragon-girl breathily, looking up at her.
"Well, I don't have to be. I'm a shapeshifter," said Aria, demonstrating by pulling her height down some inches to match Rose's.
"Wow, that's so cool!" she said excitedly, her grin widening.

The swordwoman looked to Rayna at this. "Well, I like her. Can we keep her?"
"She isn't a pet," snapped Clera from the opposite direction, annoyed.
"I was joking?" Aria turned around to give a sideways grin and palms-up expression.
"Anyway, the fourth member of our party is out on a date," said Rayna. "So I thought it'd be nice to go out to one of the other restaurants for a change instead of eating here yet again. Maybe we'll just happen to run across wherever they're eating and see how it's going."
"Seems acceptable," said Clera.
"Uh-huh, as long as they have meat!" added the dragon girl.
"Lead the way!" said the shifter enthusastically. So they all started back out of the tavern.

"You really just want to spy on Lynn, right?" said Aria.
"We've been friends longer than my memory actually goes," said Rayna. "I have every right to be curious. Besides, it's not nearly serious enough if me stopping by to embarrass her ruins it."

"What were you saying about getting the same answers twice?" said Clera.
"Hm? Oh, right." Aria turned to the dragon-girl. "Rose, who was that we saw saying bye to you on her way out of the inn?"
"Oh, that was Mika," she chirped, "one of the ad-venturers I came to town with. She's a, uhhmm, a witch but she's really nice! Not evil or anything."
"You realize saying that has the opposite effect," said the winged girl, to which Rose responded with a perplexed look. "If you sound like you are emphatically denying something it sounds like you believe the opposite of your own words and want to fool others," she explained patiently.
"Oh..b-but that, I didn't..."
"We understand," said Rayna. "Anyway, what about her?"

"Well, I met a different member of the same party today," said Aria, "Katherine. She's a mind-reader, and got curious when she couldn't hear anything but the demon talking in my head. Apparently it just says the word 'blood' a lot."
"You have a demon in your head?" said the dragon-girl.
"In my sword. Same thing, I guess. Anyway, I think Mika is also our witch."
"We don't have a witch, last I checked," said the fox-girl.
"I'm talking about what the captain said. You know, about the portal I came out of at first? The work of a witch or a warlock? I think it's this one."
"Would you mind explaining this from the start?" said Clera.
"As I recall, we're supposed to keep that quiet," said Rayna, frowning with her ears down a bit.
"I can keep a secret!" said Rose. And then, with no prompting other than a brief pause, she amended: "Um...maybe. Well, I mean I'll be back in my forest soon anyway..."
Rayna sighed. "Fine, fine."

Katherine walked up next to the rest of her party. "There you are. Tracking you down was much harder than it should've been."
"We were just on the way back to the inn," said Zack. "You know, where we agreed to meet."
"Yes, but I wanted to see if I could track someone by checking the recent sense memory of a bunch of others who might've seen them go by without specifically noticing 'em. I couldn't find much of anything until I picked up Mika's trail, and even then I got led the wrong way five or six times."
"You d-didn't account for the fact that th-the witnesses move around," said Nora.
"Well, I know that now. Anyway, I think it's best to just keep relying on Zack's nose for now."
Zack grunted, "Hmph."
"What? You did a good job of tracking Nora down."

A good sign: The food had come, and they were still talking. Well, Rast was talking right this second. "So then I—oh, uh.." He pointed vaguely behind her. "Someone's tryin' to get your attention there."
Lynn turned around so her knees were on top of the seat. There was a window in that direction, and Rayna was standing there waving, the rest of their party behind her and behind that a girl with horns and scales she didn't recognize. Once Lynn was looking, she mouthed 'how's it going?'
Lynn glared and waved her hands off to one side, 'Fine, go away!'
Instead of going away, Rayna tugged at her own skirt and mouthed 'when did you pick that number up? It's really cute!'
Feeling a heat in her cheeks, Lynn half-whispered 'Later! Go away!' and made a more violent wave away.
'Fiiiine. Have fun!' Punctuating that with a wink, the fox-girl turned aside and moved on along the street, the rest of the little entourage following.

She turned back around to a normal sitting position, glad she hadn't managed to kick her food off the table in the excitement. "What was that all about?" said Rast.
"Just Ray being Ray," she said, deliberately shortening the name out of spite even though she wasn't there to hear it. She sighed. "I guess dating me means dealing with her."
"Well, that's alright," he said, "she seems nice enough. Not nearly as cute as you, though."
Lynn felt another blush come on along with a small giggle. This was all so strange...but hearing him call her cute felt fuzzy and nice in a way she hadn't quite experienced before.

The rest of the date seemed to float by quickly, neither of them ever running out of things to say. He kept complimenting her, and she started openly flirting back. But eventually, they were standing at the door to the inn. "Um well..." Lynn half-turned toward the door, and then back to Rast. "Look, we need to do this again sometime. Pretty soon," she said.
"Yeah, we do," he said. "We c'n figure out a time now, if you like."
"No, yeah, I—I don't know. I need to—to check with, um.." She felt very flustered all of a sudden, and it was hard to make normal sentences. "Just check with me, we—I'll be around the guard station pretty often, after I can—I don't really want to, you know.." She was trying to explain that she needed to check with the rest of her party to figure out exactly when they could have another date, but it kept coming out wrong because she was terrified he was going to misconstrue it as her putting it off indefinitely.
"I know what you mean," he said. "You're awful jumpy all of a sudden, you know?"
"Y-yeah, be honest it's because I was thinking of—maybe, uh...oh, forget it I'll just show you."

Lynn leapt at him, wrapping her arms around him when she landed, and in the same motion pressed her lips against him as hard as she could. There was still a big part of her worried he was going to be disgusted and push her off or something, but those worries died as she felt his arms wrapping around her, him returning the kiss just as eagerly as she was giving it. It lasted for what felt like hours before they finally both seemed to tacily agree they needed to come up for air, and then their faces parted by a few inches, both panting slightly.
"Uh—um," Lynn's face was practically on fire. She slid herself down to the ground while he was still stunned and hopped back a step or two. "S-so, definitely sometime soon. Like this week!"
Too embarrassed to wait for his response, she ran for the door to go inside, but he did yell back "S-sure!" before it closed behind her.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The "Best" RPG Ever-29

Even though it had seemed like such a long time before, Lynn was barely through showering and actually picking out an outfit after holding one after another in front of herself in the mirror when the sun started to set outside. She had eventually settled on a pair of ruffled shorts the same weird blue color as her hair and a sleeveless white shirt with lacy trim at its collar and hem, and made quick work of the stairs down to the first floor before heading out the door.

Rast wasn't there just yet, and there was plenty of time to catch her breath from the dash downstairs. There were still a lot of stray thoughts in the tenor of why am I doing this? but she pushed them back with the argument that she had agreed to it after all, if not proposed the whole idea in the first place, and certainly wasn't the kind of person who'd stand someone up after asking them on a date.

She took a deep breath to calm down her own excited thoughts. Why was she so interested in him in the first place? It had to mostly be physical. Something about the way he'd looked when he'd first taken off his helmet..and ever since then, really. It would be nice to maybe talk a little, and actually find out who he was. Then, well, they could stop dating if it really was just physical. Right.

Lynn turned a certain direction at this point and saw Rast coming and her heart started racing again. She went to him. "Hey!"
"Oh, h-hello miss Lynn," he said, a little surprised at her running up. He looked her up and down briefly. "That's a—er, you look real pretty in that."
"Yeah? You look nice too." He was wearing some clean but plain clothes, but she still meant that. "So where are we going?"

Overall, the meditation session went reasonably well. Aria was jumped out of it several times by the demon, but it gave her a lot of practice with resuming the meditation. Meanwhile her new catgirl acquaintance seemed absolutely perfect at it. In fact, about halfway through she'd started floating a couple of inches off the ground as if to show off, but Tsaron informed her psions just tend to do that subconsciously while in an 'elevated state'.

Probably a couple of hours after they'd come in, Katherine stood up and stretched, which was enough to wake the shifter again, and Tsaron, who'd left the room at some point, returned. "Well, I think that's probably enough," said the psion.
"Yeah. Um.." Aria was about to say something along the lines of 'what do we owe you?', but their host seemed distracted.

Tsaron was staring at the wall. "Say, what sort of weapons do you use? Have any room for more?"
"Uh, well, I use knives. Just light enough to throw around with telekenesis," said Katherine. "But aren't we supposed to pay you at this point?"
The old elf shrugged again. "I hardly have much use for more money, and you two are doing good for the town, right?" He glanced around, and walked up to an display of four daggers each with a differently-colored jewel in the pommel fanned out around a central point, pulling them off and offering them to Katherine. "These have some minor elemental enchantments, you can tell which is which by the gem color."
"Oh..thanks," she said, picking them up with her mind and glancing over them.

"Do you want anything?" he asked Aria, who looked like she'd been thinking.
"Um, I think the demon sword wouldn't like sharing space with any other weapons..Oh! But I do know someone who could use something easy to use for self-defense."
"Hmm." The elf went and pulled off an ordinary-looking short sword, offering it to her hilt-first. "This is probably a good choice, then. It's lightweight to begin with and has some magic to make it even lighter to hold, but still swing just as hard."
"Thanks!" She took to the sword and felt its balance for a moment before dropping it into her nebulous inventory space. "You uh, sure this is alright?"
He shrugged. "Like I said, taking up space." With that, he lead the way back toward the front door.

"You two are welcome to join me for tea any time you're not too busy. It does get a little lonely here," said the old elf before shutting the door.

The two girls looked at each other for a second. "Well, uh, I'm supposed to eat supper with my party sometime soon," said the catgirl.
"Mhm, I should probably go see where mine went so they don't worry about me being unattended long enough to give in to the urge to kill someone for their blood," said Aria.
"Do you need help with directions?"
"No no, I know where to look," she said, shaking her head, and then started off. "See ya later!"

Katherine waved back, turned to leave, and then paused. It had suddenly occurred to her that she hadn't heard a single one of Tsaron's surface thoughts. Even after doing the work of filtering out her new friend's constant chanting of blood everyone else's thoughts still seemed easy to pick up on, so at least a few of his should have come through. Unless...she couldn't help but wonder, was he...?

The part of Lynn's mind that tried to pick apart fictional settings and make sense of them (or point out ways in which they made no sense) found something new about this world to ask about. Namely: The restaurants. She hadn't been anywhere to eat in this world besides the tavern at the inn they were staying at, which had perfectly fine food at a decent enough price, but as Rast lead her through a part of the city populated largely by eateries she couldn't help but pick out places that instantly registered as fast food, fancy expensive places that expected formal wear, and everything in between. There seemed to be a variety of price levels, food types, and stylings to the restaurants that rivalled if not outmatched that of Earth, and somehow or other that...bugged her. It seemed like a fantasy setting, specifically one aimed to look midieval the way this one seemed to be, should just have people eating their own food at home, maybe some kind of bars or taverns or things, and then rich people food—not really any "casual restaurant" scene.

Did it make sense? Well, this world seemed unusually advanced in general for one without proper electricity, and it was all because of magic. This was a city after all, and it seemed to have a lot more in common with modern-day, post-industrial cities than with anything that could have been called a city in the 1400's. There was a vast variety of jobs people did instead of just being serf farmers or rich landlords, and a lot of conveniences and maybe even something resembling automation in places, the workings behind such things seemed more often than not to be magic. Magic—maybe that was the key. Maybe a fantasy setting where nearly anyone can do magic really should look like this, or at least a lot more like this than like some stereotypical low-to-no-tech wasteland of tiny villages. Maybe sufficiently advanced magic just takes the place of technology.

She shook her head for a second, realizing Rast had been talking for the past few seconds, and the pause they were in the middle of seemed suspiciously like the sort that should come after a question. "U-uh..." Since he was in front of her, she couldn't actually see his face to tell if he could tell she hadn't entirely been listening. Her perception caught up to her mind and informed her it had been something about some kind of food. It was...a question like..."Are you okay with Chinese food" but replace 'Chinese' with an unrecognized set of syllables. "Um, sure, I guess. I don't think I've tried it before."

"Ah, well, you're in for a treat then, I reckon," said her date. "The cooks here're are all natural born Zivans, or 't least their parents are, I think." They stopped in front of one of the restaurants. "None a' the watered-down stuff other countries call Zivan."
Zivan. Sure.

He led the way inside and asked a wolf-woman at the counter for a place for two. She nodded and picked up a pair of menus before leading them over to a booth up against one of the walls of a mid-sized room with large tables for bigger parties in the middle. There were plenty of people here, and it smelled good...actually, looking around, the food already present on some of the tables looked suspiciously like Mexican food.

They sat down and the human opened up her menu to take a look. The names of some of the menu items were unfamiliar, but their descriptions sounded exactly like what she expected. Rice, beans, cheese, on, so forth. There was even a basket of chips on the table! It was slightly unsettling to find a supposedly different world have a culinary subset that matched so perfectly with one from Earth. Still...she hadn't exactly questioned the existence of steak or burgers, either, right? And this was a was supposed to be a game, right? Of course something similar to the "players'" experiences would show up.

"Um..I think I actually have had this before. Maybe they called it something else," she said a bit weakly, hoping to prevent what she'd said before from seeming too much like a lie when she knew pretty much exactly what she wanted to order.
"Oh, that's good," he said, sounding relieved. "I been tryin' to think of what I'd recommend, but I got no idea what your tastes in food are..." So he bought it, great.

Before long they had ordered their food and had drinks brought to the table. After several seconds of both of them awkwardly looking half away from each other in silence Rast decided to attempt to start a conversation. "So, miss Lynn..uh..t-tell me about yourself," he said. "How'd you decide to come out to the frontier?"

"Uh.." Lynn's mind caught for a few seconds as she tried to construct something as honest as possible without going into the whole "teleported into this world by a video game" part of the truth. Then something just seemed to click together and she began talking, her mind catching up to her speech rather than the opposite: "Well, it was mostly Rayna's idea. We've been working together for a long time, friends forever you know? So we used to wander around town and put on performances, you know, illusions and hitting an apple on someone's head, that kind of thing?" Why was she phrasing her statements like questions and punctuating with 'you know'? Stop that and slow down, she told herself. "Um..s-so, at some point it felt like we'd been all over just about everywhere else and she suggested we go out to the frontier to see what it's like, maybe make better money fighting monsters than we were getting for the performances, which really wasn't much I can tell you. The first thing we had to do was figure out how to use what we knew in a real serious fight, and then we sorta just made our way out here. I'd just learned a little magic recently, enough to enchant my arrows, which is a big help with that." Weird...that was a much better-constructed lie than she'd thought herself capable of. "Um, how about you?" Wait, if she was supposed to be a traveling performer shouldn't she be familiar with all kinds of places, especially Zivan or whatever the country's name was? How many other names could their food possibly go by?

While she panicked inwardly about that Rast started talking: "Well, I was actually born out here. I been back to the mainland a few times, but it just don't feel much like home to me. T'be honest my parents were both guardsfolk, and I just up and took up the job when they retired after goin' through a few dead-end jobs. The captain decided to take care of me, more like, not that I ain't gotten more competent since then." He paused for a second, as if realizing something. "You know she's been the captain of the guard for as long 's I can remember? I asked my pa and some of the older guards once, an' they said they didn't remember a time she wasn't captain either. We guards even have a sayin' about it: Governors and nobles come and go, but the captain'll always be the captain."
"Hm..." Lynn thought about when she'd seen the captain last; she hadn't really looked all that old to her. "Isn't she, human, though?" She hoped the assumption of Earth-like lifespans for humans wasn't too far off base.
"No obvious signs to the contrary. Must be some kinda' magic. Nobody's really ever had the guts to ask her 'bout it. I tried a few times, but just chicken out right away. She's got a way of lookin' at ya."
"Well, maybe I'll ask her," she leaned forward a bit. "My job's not on the line if it makes her mad."
"Err, I dunno 'bout that. The requests all go through the guardhouse, you know."
Lynn put up her arms. "What's she gonna do, not let us kill monsters? Not let people show their gratitude by paying for it? I bet not. The monster problem seems like a pretty big deal around here—I mean, a giant bird kidnapping people right out of town at night? That ogre that smashed me in with a club? The giant cats? No way they can afford to kick people out over something petty like asking the captain's age."
He shrugged. "You got a good point there, I guess.

"Now that ya mention it, though, It's a pretty dangerous job, goin' from just performin' for folks."
"Aww, it's not like we didn't know how to at least defend ourselves before deciding to come out here," said Lynn. "There might not be a lot of monsters but there are always outlaws and lowlifes. Couple of girls like us look like easy targets, so we had to make sure we weren't and everyone knew it." It felt like her story was vascillating now. Hadn't she said something about learning to fight just before coming here?
"Well, we'll have none of that 'round here," said Rast. How was he not noticing the holes? "The guard gets more leeway to deal with criminals our own way since everyone's already just tryin' to survive out here, and a bunch of chaos is an open invitation for monsters to come in and destroy the town." Maybe something strange was going on... "Not that we don't try to be fair about it." Or he just wasn't paying so much attention to the details. Occam's razor, she reminded herself. "We just try to make sure folks understand that everyone works together out here as much as possible."

Lynn's mind caught up to what Rast was saying at this point and she briefly wondered if this was the sort of conversation one would get out of a policeman. Well, he was basically a policeman after all. "Um..what do you like to do for fun? Outside work, like?" she said, trying to shift the subject off of crime and punishment a bit.
"Hmm? Well, I might not sound like the type, but I picked up chess a few years back, an' I ain't too bad at it."
"Oh, really?" She unconsciously leaned forward onto the table a bit. There had been a portion of her life—well, the former life as Lyle at least—dedicated to the goal of becoming a grandmaster. He'd quit after realizing how unhealthy of an obsession it was, but still enjoyed an occasional game. The point is that this was something she understood well enough to talk about.
"Yeah, someone suggested I try it to get a sense of patience an' maybe think harder about tactics an' such. I dunno if my tactics got any better, but runnin' out games in my head's a good way to pass the time out on a long patrol, at least."

Before finding her way to the inn, Aria ran into the other two members of her party who weren't out on a date. "Heeyy!" She waved at them and ran over, catching up with their pace. "What've you guys been up to?"
"We met a dragon, and bought some clothes," said Rayna. "Have you been wandering around all afternoon?"
"No no, I met a new friend who helped me find someone to teach me to meditate."
"How'd that go, then?"
"It's really haaarrd," she whined slightly. "I guess I've got the gist of it, thoughhhwait, did you just say you met a dragon?"
"Well, Draconian in the lore. Apparently sime kind of dragon-human hybrid or something?"
Clera finally spoke up. "Her name is Rose. She is waiting back at the tavern if you'd like to meet her."
"Oh, cool." Aria tried to hide her disappointment that part dragon hadn't wound up being her own character's race. Or...her own race? Whatever. "Anyway, I also got a gift for you."

The winged woman stared at the sword that the shifter produced and frowned. "I do not need a weapon."
"You don't? Are you just gonna stay in town from now on?" Aria slowly waved the sword back and forth.
"No, but as I understand it I am acting as a healer in this party."
"That doesn't mean you shouldn't have some way to defend yourself. If anything, it means you need this even more. The laws of fiction dictate that if you're the healer linchpin to the whole party you are definitely gonna wind up getting kidnapped or stuck behind enemy lines or something. If I were you I'd already be learning how to get out of ropes and handcuffs and metal cages."

The illusionist interjected, "Why is it you don't want to have a weapon?"
Clear sighed. "..I swore an oath to do no harm. I won't lift my hand against another person."
"Well, monsters are definitely not people, and our job is fighting monsters," said Rayna. "You sure helped us harm that giant bird, right?"
"..I suppose so."
"Well, then think of it as insurance. The three of us are probably gonna wind up doing all the fighting anyway, but if you had a chance to save one of our lives by whacking a monster with a sword I bet you'd take it."
Clera paused a good several seconds before nodding. "Your reasoning is sound. But I have no experience using a sword."

"Ah, I've gotcha covered there," said Aria, offering Clera the hilt. "I specifically asked for something that should be easy for a beginner to figure out. Just try holding it for a sec." She did as asked and held onto it for a moment. "Anyway, there's really not that much to using a sword in the first place. You move it fast and aim the cutty part at the bad guys. Or..ropes, for example."
"Hm." After giving the weapon a slow experimental swing before letting it go into her own inventory. "Thank you for being concerned about me."
"Oh—well uh, y'know...we're pretty much in this together, anyway," Aria half-muttered, not having expected a response quite that earnest.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Midas Journal 20

I'd like to make a small note that I've added "liked it" and "didn't like it" reaction buttons to the posts on this website type place as yet another of my continual efforts to feed my desire to see feedback both positive and negative from anyone reading my stuff.

Entry: May 9

I didn't really mention last night how my own set of new memories dealt with everyone who was changed. It's not a big deal, really, they boil down to meeting each of them as a girl in the first place. But I didn't really know how or how much their memories had changed, so I was going to call someone to ask them about it. Just when I was getting my phone out to call, though, someone else knocked on the door.

It was Lue. “Hey, wanna go out shopping?” she said, chipper as ever.
“Um..maybe? Could we talk inside for a minute?”
“Mmm...yeah, okay,” she said with a nod. I led her into the living room. “Soo, what about?”
“I'm not exactly sure which question to ask,” I said. “Uhhh, do you...are you aware of anything, different, happening yesterday?”
“Hmn.” She put a finger to her lip like she was thinking. “I didn't eat breakfast yesterday, I think it was maybe a little cloudier than usual...also Brian turned you into a girl, right?” she added the last part with a wide grin.

“You knew that was what I was asking about,” I said, slightly annoyed. “What exactly do you remember or know about that?”
“Well, I know what all actually happened: I have my whole old life, you changing me and having the new life with a bunch of new memories stuck in, and yesterday morning I had another big injection right about when I was thinking about having breakfast, and then sort of forgot about it until lunchtime. And then on top of all of that, as soon as I got through remembering the new version with you as 'Kaela' I got a very firm impression that Brian did that by using a power like yours that only works on you.” She took a small step closer and reached a hand up on top of my head to ruffle my hair a bit. “He did a really good job, too, you're even cuter than ever before!”
“Oh, u-uh, thanks?” I said, not entirely sure how to respond to the physical contact. My tail started wagging on its own. “It's, I feel a lot more comfortable being called cute now I guess.”
“That's good, 'cause I'm not gonna stop any time soon. In fact...” She gave a toothy smile, showing off some long, sharp canines, and her ears stretched out into wolf ears, along with a tail pushing its way out of her back, all of the fur the same light brown as her hair. “Can we sit down for a minute? I have a proposal for you.”

“Sure, I guess,” I said, and allowed her to lead me onto my couch. I was a little wary of nearly any new idea Lue had, but it probably wouldn't hurt to at least hear her out.
“Well, I'm sure you know that I'm the alpha sort,” she said. “I was an alpha in my old life and I'm pretty much primed to be the same in this one. That hardly means much of anything if I don't have a pack, though. And, since you're officially a werewolf now...”
“You want me to join your pack,” I said, my ears drooping a bit. To my new set of memories, the notion of joining someone's pack means having to fight them. The would-be pack joiner fights the would-be alpha so each can decide whether the other is strong enough to be worthy of the new relationship, and the alpha uses the results to decide what position to give them.

It's a traditional kind of notion and a lot of modern werewolves don't really join packs at all because they aren't the fighting type; I was getting ready to say that I was in that category but Lue interrupted me. “Yep! But I don't wanna do it the old-fashioned way. We don't live in a world where strength in battle is the most important thing, and we haven't for years.” She leaned back on her own arms, crossed behind her. “Frankly I gave up the idea of challenging joiners to my pack decades ago, and just invited people I already liked. But now that I'm young again I have to be a little more careful than that, so I got a much better idea.”
“Uh-huh...” I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like this idea.
She leaned forward again, coming closer to me than before. “I don't want anyone in my pack who doesn't trust me or at least like me a little bit...and it's good if I like them, too. But you can hardly trust what someone says or even does to not be deceptive.”
“Um...yeah...” By now she was leaning almost uncomfortably close to me. I pushed myself back against the armrest instinctively.
“But werewolves are animals deep down, you know. Our instincts are strong, and our minds tell them an awful lot about our own opinions.” Her face was less than an inch from mine. “So if you can access someone's instincts, they can be so much more honest about who we really trust.”

Just when I was ready to slide out to the side onto the floor, she grabbed me into a hug and moved her head over my shoulder, giggling slightly. I cautiously returned the hug, which felt a lot less awkward than our position a few seconds earlier. “See?” She said from next to me. “You'd never let me get this close without trying to push me off or get away if we weren't friends, right?”
“Y-yeah, I guess so,” I said, feeling relieved. The whole lead-in to that hug had seemed like she was going to do something more extreme somehow.
“So,” she said, pulling herself back enough to put her face in front of mine but not releasing the hug, “my test for joining my pack is simple. We pet each other.”
“Um..we what?” Whatever relief I'd felt slunk back.
“You know, a little scratching behind the ears, fur tickling? No big deal, just long enough to see what kind of a reaction you have.”

Lue put her hands on the armrest and pushed herself back a little more, smiling down at me. “So, what do you say, Kaela? You want to try and join my pack?”
I blinked a couple of times, surprised. Here I'd been expecting her to start the 'petting' with or without my permission or say or do something to bully me into it. Well, sure, she'd probably pout or cry or something if I told her no, but it awful lot like she was really asking me if I wanted to. And she wasn't being impatient about getting an answer, allowing me time to process that surprise without saying anything or getting any closer. I thought, well, she's my friend after all, and this isn't exactly going to hurt. If she was able to show restraint in asking she'd probably keep this 'test' as short as possible, too. And...I wouldn't really mind being in Lue's pack. It probably doesn't mean a whole lot more than just staying friends as usual and she could feel good about 'having a pack' or whatever.

Eventually I brought myself around to the idea. I slowly nodded and said, “Okay. Just...keep it short.”
“Sure, sure,” she said, nodding back. “Hold still.”
First she leaned forward into the hug, and then she pulled me back a bit so we were both more upright on the couch. Next she reached her hands up above my head and behind where I could see. I had to bite back a reflex to duck back when she did that, but soon after I felt her hands on my ears, gently scratching behind them and rubbing their fur.

It felt..good, in a very similar way to how Brian's hands had felt. But it was different somehow, maybe just because her hands were smaller and had a different texture. I felt calmer after a few seconds and relaxed even though I didn't know I'd been tensed up before. “U-um..” I tried to say something, but it was harder than usual to form words; instead I just leaned forward a little bit.
“Mm.” Lue smiled back at me and used one of her arms to gently pull me closer.
I could feel my tail swishing back and forth across the seat of the couch behind me, and I slowly wrapped my arms around her in a light hug and then pulled them tighter. Then something touched me near the base of my tail and I jumped a bit, half-letting go of her. When Lue pulled me close again with her arms and the thing that had touched my tail slid across it toward the back, I realized that it was actually her tail. “Mn—mrf?” I tried to ask something but found my attempt to talk coming out as something of a soft bark. Lue just started scratching my ears again, and continued wrapping her tail around mine.

I think it's hard to overstate how sensitive my tail actually is; I think it's because it comes right out of the spine, so having something rub across that is like being tickled right near the middle of the back, but it's even more since the whole thing is covered in fur. The point is that once Lue's tail was doing that and her hands were still rubbing my ears I had a very hard time concentrating on anything except for those two feelings for a good several seconds, and the thing that finally brought me partially back to awareness was the feeling of her cheek rubbing against my nose...or, well, actually my nose rubbing against her cheek.

I made a soft “eep” sound and instantly tried to push myself off of her with both hands on her shoulders. Lue let me fall backwards and land on the armrest, and giggled softly while I sat back up. My face was burning. “W-what the heck was that?!” I said, snapped entirely back to reality by now.
“It's like I said, Kaela,” she gave an open-mouthed grin which showed off some very sharp teeth. “We're animals deep down. Anyway, that's enough to put you through I think,” she said with a small nod.
“ did I pass?” I said.

“Heehee, of course,” she said. “You've always been so hopelessly honest about everything, even before being a werewolf, there really wasn't any doubt in the first place.”
“Wh—you mean that whole—that—was pointless?!”
“Of course not,” she said. “It's embarrassing, right? So it's not fair if I only do it to people I'm not totally sure about already, I have to do it for anyone joining the pack. Anyway, you get a turn too.”
My head turned slightly sideways. “A turn at what?”
“Petting me, of course!” she said. “I did say we pet each other, right?” I remembered now with a slight shock that she had said that.

“Err—I—you, don't really have to,” I stuttered.
“Shh, no complaining. If you wanna be in my pack I've gotta know you know you can trust me, too.” She leaned closer to me again. “Anyway, you'll set a really bad example as the first person to join the pack if you don't do the first thing the alpha asks of afterward, right?”
“Ugh, fine...” I couldn't believe I was doing this, which probably showed on my face.
“Just 'till you get a meaningful reaction out of my animal side, yeah?”

I carefully reached around her head to where her ears were and went to rub behind them a bit. Her fur was a different texture from my own or even Brie's. It wasn't scratchy or unpleasant to touch but it was decidedly rough. Once I started to feel it I couldn't help running my hands along the rest of her ears to feel more of the interesting texture. I picked up the sound of Lue's tail whapping against the side of the couch just before she suddenly grabbed me in a tight hug, her ridiculously strong arms nearly choking me for a second before she loosened them a bit. Then I kept going.
“Mn-mrf! Y-you're, getting there,” she muttered into my ear. “Need..little more...rf! T-tail, maybe?” It was strange hearing her have trouble talking, but I remembered what had just happened to me a moment ago. I then understood what she was trying to say and reluctantly brought my tail around toward her back. I gently touched the base of her tail with the tip of mine, drawing a sharp bark from her that made me jump again. She was still holding on to me, so I couldn't jump back, but I jerked around a bit.
Lue's arms loosened; I'd stopped petting her ears for a second. “—again,” she said. I started rubbing my hands along her ears again and her grip tightened. Then I gently lay my tail across hers. She shivered slightly but only made a soft “Mmm” this time. So I let it run gently up and down hers for a bit. It was a similar feeling to her tail running across mine, and strangely addictive. I could feel my tail starting to wrap around hers instinctively to touch more of it as they both moved, and when Lue barked again even that didn't shake me out of it.

She made a sound like “Mm—ma—aah—aaaah” and though I couldn't see her face I got the strange sense that her mouth was slowly being opened against her will. And then that was confirmed as I felt a cold tongue running itself up my cheek.
“Ack!” I pushed off of her as hard as I could but she licked me another two or three times before loosening her grip enough for me to get away. It felt like a big, long dog tongue rather than a human one, which was especially jarring. This time I fell over backwards and upside-down beside the couch, and had to let my legs down to the floor before I could work on getting up. “Ugh—gross—are you just messing with me with all this?!” I said, starting to go toward the kitchen to get a paper towel or wash my face or something.
“Eheh, no, sorry..” I paused, seeing her face was bright red and actually looked worried. “I, uh, I was trying really hard not to have that extreme a reaction,” she said. “I guess since it happened anyway you know how I really feel about you, huh?” Her expression turned to a nervous grin.
“You think I taste good?” I said, going the rest of the way and starting the sink.

“No, silly!” She got up and followed me. “You know what it means when a dog licks someone, right? Don't you have werewolf memories now or something?”
“Y-yeah, but none of anyone ever licking anyone else,” I said.
“W-well, that's because obviously it's not socially acceptable for humans! S-so, for a werewolf's animal side to override that, y'know...”
“I get it, I get it.” Once my face was clean, I looked at her. “Just don't do it again, okay?”
“Well, of course not. We're done with the pack test now,” she nodded. “Of course, there's no reason we couldn't ever pet each other again...”

“Nope, nope.” I shook my head violently. “I'm pretty sure I'm in love with someone else at this point.”
“Aww, it's not anything like that,” she said. “I just like the way it feels. Anyway, I'm thinking of making you my beta.”
“R-really? That high?” I think it should be clear to anyone I'm not a very dominant person.
“Sure. You're one of my best friends, I wouldn't even have a new gig like this if it weren't for you...aaand, more importantly, you've got a nice, sane perspective on things. I have all kinds of crazy ideas and it'd be nice to have someone around to say which ones are too crazy. I think you're the only person I can trust to handle recruiting on your own, too.”

“You want me to get people to join your pack?” I said, leaning against the counter.
Our pack. If you're serious about joining you gotta own it. Anyway, I'm not saying to go out of your way to find people, buuuut if there's a werewolf you know and think would make a good addition then you have the right to test them yourself instead of having to bring them to me.” She bared her teeth in a grin again. “All last week I was tempted to pitch this idea to Brie, you know, but I thought something like this might happen and then maybe you'd like the opportunity to invite her—or him, whichever.”
“Well, that's...considerate of you, I guess.” I had to push off a mental image of her petting Brie. “Um..I guess if that's taken care of we can go somewhere like you wanted?”

“Hmm.” Lue leaned back a bit and stared through the doorway to the living room. “Actually, this is a pretty nice place you have here. Maybe we could just hang out here for a while instead?” I hesitated to answer for a second and she added, “No unsolicited petting, I promise.”
“Oh. Okay, sure then.”

I found out today that Lue has never played a video game before. Apparently she'd never touched one in her old life (as a person who grew up before they existed, I guess), and growing up her new life had hardly seen them, either. So probably she spotted what I had and decided she wanted to try it today for whatever reason. It turns out that never touching one before made her very bad at it, but we still had a lot of fun together anyway.

I guess this means I have a pack now, which feels nice somehow even though it's a little weird; I mean it's not the kind of thing I would've seen myself saying two weeks ago—or, like, the day before yesterday for that matter. At least I have some idea of how people's memories were shifted by my becoming Kaela now, which is probably good going into next week. I feel like I should at least go through a couple of normal school days like this, and anyway it's basically up to Brian when I change back as far as I can tell.