Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The "Best" RPG Ever-29

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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

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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.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Dancer

It feels like I've had writer's block for forever, but I had a sudden flash of inspiration yesterday and wrote this whole thing in one shot. Very simple, but I think that may be to its credit.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Midas Journal 19

Entry: May 8

This morning I went to answer a knock on the door and found Brie standing there. “Uh, hi,” she said, with a small wave. “I'm here ' know...”
“Oh, uh, right.” I had actually forgotten about turning her back until just then. “Come on in.” I got out of the way and we went to the living room.

“Before I do this, are you..aware of anything being different this past week? I mean besides the obvious stuff, and uh, anything from us dating.”
“Umm..” Brie thought for a minute. “I feel a little more hyper and impulsive, I, some stuff I think I'd usually hesitate or think more about I just do. Like jumping to kiss you right after I changed. But I mean, it's kind of a small attitude change more than anything else. I feel like I always could've been that way as a guy...”
I wasn't sure whether her expression was uncertain or just worried I wouldn't believe her. I wasn't sure what to say so I just nodded. “Well..are you ready?”
“Yeah, sure.”

I thought it would be hard to make my power do what I wanted it to. It always fights so hard against stopping or reversing a change, and the only time I can think of that I got it to turn someone back was with Carla right after, when I didn't even believe it had happened in the first place. But as soon as I gently touched Brie's shoulder, asking it to turn her entirely back into Brian, she started growing and shifting around rapidly, and within seconds she'd turned back into him.
He was frowning, and I felt a strange kind of sadness myself. “Uh, do you feel?” I said after a few seconds.
“Pretty normal, I guess,” he said, crossing his arms. “Thinkin' about this last week...I can't remember anything I did or thought that doesn't seem pretty normal for me, I mean, if I try to think of what I'd do as a girl. Definitely no huge brainwashing or anything.”

“O-okay, that's good...” I said.
“You don't sound too convinced.”
“Well, I mean...I guess I should be. I'm a little worried I took too much control and made it work different from how the accidents did. But I can't exactly...make an accident happen. That's—this feels like the best we could do with it.”
He tilted his head slightly. “I have another idea, actually. Now that I know what it's like..I wonder if you'd understand better if you could have it happen to you.”
“But I've tried turning myself into a girl before,” I said. “It just—”

“It's different, right?” he said, coming a step closer. “It doesn't feel the same way as I did when you changed me. But, you said you could give people powers if you wanted to, right?”
“I mean, I have, not really on purpose..”
“So what if you gave me a power like yours, but it only works on you?”
“Uh..well, you think that would work?”
“Well, I don't see why we couldn't try.'d have to really trust me if you want to do that. I mean, we're worried about brainwashing in the first place here, and if you give that kind of power to someone you're practically giving them control over you.”

I thought about it for what felt like a long time, at first looking at the floor and then turning my head up to look at Brian, specifically his face. I was looking in his eyes, and I found myself seeing Brie again...I don't really know how to describe what went on in my head. I thought about what had happened the past week, everything we'd said to each other...Eventually I said, “I'm..I'm willing to risk it. Let's see if this works...”

I tried to make my power turn him back into Brie, with the power to turn back into himself and with the power to do the same thing as my power did to others, to me. It was a lot to concentrate on as I carefully reached out a hand and put it on his shoulder, and as soon as it started I could feel a kind of push back against what I was trying to do. I had to keep my hand there as he shrank back down, a little slower than the first time, to keep it doing what I wanted. But eventually I was able to pull my arm back and Brie was standing there again, and as far as I could tell it had worked.

“Um..did it work?” I said.
She giggled slightly. “I think so, I feel like I know how to do some stuff I couldn't before. Before I do, though, c'mere..” She grabbed me and shoved me over onto the couch, landing on top of me with a kiss. I was confused at first but started returning it after a second; it felt like it lasted as long as some of the first few.
“W-what was that about?” I said when it was over and we were both panting a little bit.
“I dunno how to explain it. I felt...weird not being able to kiss you...I didn't like it,” she said.
“Yeah..I think I felt the same way,” I said after a second.

We separated to different sides of the couch and she sighed a little. “Well, apparently I have to be a guy for it to work, so here goes.” She closed her eyes and shifted back into Brian again, just as quickly as before. “Phew. Are you ready to try this?”
“As much as I'll ever be, I guess.”
“Okay.” He reached over and poked me on the forehead, then leaned back over to his side of the couch.

As soon as his skin touched mine, I felt something. It was...I want to say it was warm, but a comfortable kind of warmth, not like being outside in the summer. It spread out from the spot on my forehead along my face and scalp and down through the rest of me. As soon as that had happened I started actually transforming.

Before today, I knew of two ways that having my body change can feel. When I turned myself into Kayla, it was that sense of my body tightening and loosening itself into the right shape, which didn't hurt but at least felt uncomfortable and awkward at best. When Threa used a spell to do it it felt like something outside of me pushing and pulling at my body, which was even worse. This was...different.

I first felt a little bit of pressure on my shoulders, and then across the side of my body. I started to shrink, shorter and slimmer, but it felt...nice. It felt like my body was just responding to some sort of gentle massage. My hair grew out all at once, making a few locks fall across my face, covering the sides and falling so far down in the back that it pooled on the couch. I felt the bits of pressure against my face, arms, legs and hands and when I looked I could see my limbs reshaping, and guessed my face was doing the same.

My shirt and pants combined and spread out into a gray-and-white dress, and I felt my underwear shift into panties and a bra just appear around my chest. The feeling of a gentle pressure across my body started pushing a little harder, but instead of starting to hurt it felt even better than before. I realized I was making small “Aah—aah—aah” sounds one after another, in a steadily rising voice, just as a gentle tugging between my legs signaled an imminent change of sex.

The pressure eased off as my body settled into a feminine shape again: Slim arms and legs, small fingers, the curves of wide hips and a slender stomach. I felt somehow more aware of it all than usual, and instead of feeling unnatural and wrong it felt more like my body was returning to the way it should be from a different shape.

The next thing I felt was the push out from the base of my spine of something growing there, and the upward stretch of my ears along with the sensation of growing fur brushing against my hair. I made another small, confused “Aah—mf?” in a completely female voice and turned around to see a thick black-furred wolf tail growing out. Somehow the first thought I had about it was Oh, it's my tail. Mine? I felt even more confused for a second and then felt as if I remembered something.

Heat filled up my cheeks at the sudden interjection of a pleasant feeling between my legs, and the realization I was a girl now. the same time I found a contradictory thought coming to me, something like 'why shouldn't I be a girl?' I could remember sitting here on the couch with Brian as a girl...right?

I finally caught on to the fact that I was gaining memories of a life in the new body, the same way everyone I'd changed before normally would. I felt something like fingers gently tracing along my chest and made another soft “Mmf!”, my face getting hotter at how sensitive it was. I could feel it starting to push itself outward, as if enjoying the gentle touches along the skin and wanting more skin to feel them with. At the same time I remembered answering the door this morning as a girl...a werewolf girl. I felt like I'd woken up this way, and put on the feminine underwear and pretty dress over it. I could remember being a girl yesterday, and the day before that too.

I felt my chest filling the bra I had and then continuing to grow, forcing it to stretch out into a larger size. I was..I had been a girl the past week, no, the past month? New memories filled in faster the farther back they went, and pretty soon I was aware of having been in this body for the past year. They stretched even farther back and my body felt even more natural as I remembered growing up as a girl, as a werewolf and a girl, with werewolf parents of course. Before I knew it there was an entire life's worth of memories of being...Kaela.

I felt my chest finally stop straining against the bra, and realized I was panting heavily, my face still hot and the aftershocks of the pleasant feeling in my private parts still going off. I looked over at Brian, one of my ears drooping slightly in confusion but my tail starting to wag vigorously; I felt even more attracted to him than I ever remembered feeling as Kayla. It's weird, my name now is pronounced the same but I feel like a completely different person for just one letter's difference.

I started to giggle a little bit, and he chuckled back, which set me off into uncontrollable laughter. I stood up and danced around, playing with my dress's skirt and laughing a high, girly laugh for a good, long minute before falling back over onto the couch.

The fit finally died down, and I managed to take a deep breath and calm myself, looking back over at him again. “,” I said. “This is uh...I don't even know how to.”
“I know, right?” he said, grinning. “It feels amazing.”
Before I thought about anything else I half-dove over the couch and tackled Brian into a deep kiss. It was my first kiss as a girl, and he made it feel as good as I think is possible. When it was over we gave each other an inch or two of space and caught our breath. He said, “I uh, I hope you don't mind the werewolf thing. That happened because, well...”
“You know if a werewolf marries a human and they're, together, the human turns into a werewolf,” I finished for him. The knowledge was as natural to remember as anything I'd learned as Kael. “And that hurts. So you thought it'd be easier if I was one to begin with.”
“I don't mind. This is kinda cool. I—ever since getting this weird power I've felt like an outsider to all this magic stuff and everyone had to keep explaining things to me. Now it's just..I know. It's nice.”

“U-um, also I might have had a stray thought that it'd be nice to pet you a little bit,” he said, blushing a little.
“Oh? Well, try it, I don't know what that's like either,” I said.
“Okay.” Since we were still hugging, he reached one of his arms up from the middle of my back to where my ears were and gently rubbed on the base of them.
It felt..nice. I don't really know how to explain how it felt; it felt physically good but not in a sexual way. I don't think humans who aren't werewolves or kitsune or whatever have a part in their brain that can process the exact kind of way it feels. I made a kind of closed-mouth, muffled-bark “Mrf” noise and pulled myself closer against him again, which he accurately took as a sign to keep going, gently running his fingers up and down my ears.
“Man, you're really soft,” he said. “Was I this soft?”
“Mmf...I think so,” I said. “Girly shampoo pro'lly does it to fur if it's always out...”
“No way, shampoo can't make fur feel this nice. It has to be natural.”

We didn't talk for a few minutes, until he finally said. “Hey, what do you think of what your power does now?”
“Well, really does seem to make people I change attracted to me...” I said slowly. “I mean, it had that effect for me to you. But I think, we were already...I mean, it's not really strong enough to mess someone up. Everything else that isn't the 'wish granting' just seems like...helpful adjusting, making it easier to be the new person somehow.”
“So you finally believe you're not a monster?” he said.
I paused for a second at that, pulling away slightly with wide eyes. I'd never said anything about being a monster: not to him, not really to anyone, not even in these journals. But...he was right. That was how I'd felt this whole time, what I'd been so worried about. I didn't want to be a monster by accident, or let myself turn into one. But...I really haven't. All I've been doing this whole time is, by accident or on purpose, helping people out.

I pulled myself closer to him again and just said “Yes.” I knew it was more complex than that, and I had a lot more to sort out, but that was enough for now. Just being in his arms made things feel pretty good.

I haven't actually turned back or anything yet. While Brian was here—basically all day, really—the subject didn't even come up. I think I kinda want to enjoy this whole new perspective for a while. I can tell—I can feel somehow that my powers still work the exact same way as before, but I'm a girl now, the same as anyone new I changed would be. I'm bound to run into someone else who wants something badly enough for my power to want to change them, pretty soon I'd bet. But maybe I could do things a little differently this time? At least get a chance to let them know what'll happen before it does, maybe even a chance to decide against it.

Although, it has just occurred to me..I don't know what the memory shifting did with everyone else I've changed or gotten to know over the past few weeks. Do they just remember me as I am now, or have a bunch of dual memories floating around and no idea why? I'll have to call someone and check on that first thing in the morning; if it's messed up we can probably fix it. I'm determined not to worry too much about it tonight. After all, I just got over worrying about one thing, so it's way too soon to start on another.

A/N: This story isn't over, but this part is a pretty landmark point in the plot that's been running for a while. I'm happy to be mostly leaving what's been the major conflict of the story for a while behind and taking a bit of a different trajectory with things.

As always, hoping to see some comments. Been very quiet lately and I never know how to tell whether that's a mark of disapproval or not.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Midas Journal 18

This marks the 200th POST ON THIS BLOG! Wow! I mean, sure, some of the earlier posts are just notifications of things, stuff I'm not especially proud of, or whatever, but it's still a pretty neat milestone to reach.

If you're curious, the number of actual captions is 135, and the number of stories and story parts together is 70 if you count each "trio" of Changing Island pieces as a single "part", so I guess technically 200 total things was already broken before this? And that's not even counting what's on the adventure site.

Entry: May 5

It's good to know you're still there, Kayla.

I was busy Monday night, and even though I started writing this last night I was too tired to finish it and now I have even more to talk about so I might as well just lump it all together here. All I did with the old part was add this and I think I fixed the tenses and all the parts that said 'last night' to say 'Monday night' instead.

So the date went really well. I took Brie out to a steakhouse because she said something about wanting meat and their steaks are supposed to be some of the best in the state, especially for a more or less normal price. We hugged as soon as we saw each other and almost as soon as we were on the way there we just started talking.

It had occurred to me that morning that I didn't really know that much about her. It made me worried that I was maybe just physically attracted to her, and the same thing going the other way, and that made me want to get to know her better, so it started with me just asking questions and her answering. Eventually she asked my why I was asking so many questions and I said what I just wrote above, she laughed and asked me some questions of her own. From there it just felt like we were talking the entire time, even between mouthfuls of food, and even though my throat at least was getting sore we weren't really ready to stop when I got her to her house.

I gently picked her up and we kissed again, I think this one was longer than any of the ones on Saturday. When we finally pulled back we didn't let go of each other, and I could see her tail swishing back and forth out of the corner of my eyes as we both caught our breath for a moment of silence. Eventually she said, “Hey...come inside?”
I wanted to say yes right away, but my mind woke up in time to remind me we were supposed to be taking things slow. The resulting panic and confusion just came out as a useless“Uh..”
“We don't have to do anything naughty,” she said with a grin, “I just..wanna stay with you a little longer.”
I started arguing with myself over whether that meant it would be okay to come in with her or actually just made the risk of doing something we didn't really want to even worse. While my mind was busy doing that my body just nodded and said, “Okay.”

Well, we didn't do anything bad anyway. We went to the couch and she snuggled up next to me and we kept talking, quietly staying close to each other like that and occasionally surprising each other with more kisses. These were less..intense than the first few, though, I think we both knew we needed to hold back a little bit. Besides, both of us were tired and increasingly at risk of just falling asleep there on the couch with her halfway curled around me.

Eventually Brie yawned very loudly and stretched her arms, which woke me out of about a half-sleep. “I think we should probably get to bed, you in the morning and stuff.”
“Oh..yeah,” I said, “See you tomorrow?”
“Too late,” she said, and after seeing my confusion she pointed at the TV clock. “It's already tomorrow.” It was blinking something like 2 or 3 AM.
“Oh. Well, see you this afternoon then?”
“Sure, heehee.” I helped her up and ran a hand across her ears in a way she'd taught me to at some point since sitting on the couch and after sharing another small kiss I went home.

I can't remember what we talked about, I mean, I can remember some general subjects but the exact words are just...way too many to even recall half of them. What I remember better is the emotion of that night. I felt like I was making a new best friend, like this was someone I've wished I could meet my whole life. I never really made a wish like that, I've always been pretty happy with the friends I already had, so even that's maybe not the best way to put it. I felt happy being around her, even not counting the physical attraction of her being simultaneously the most gorgeous and cutest girl I've ever seen. Maybe this is what people are talking about when they talk about people in new relationships being infatuated with each other, I dunno. I just know that for now, I really like it.

We did a little less talking and more just being together yesterday afternoon, which was nice too. I admit I don't like the idea of constantly fighting against the pressure to, well, be with her, which I think just the kissing and staying close Monday night might have satiated for now at least. We were at my house watching TV and playing games for a while, and since we'd stayed up so late the night before we did accidentally nap for a half hour or so before deciding to go our separate ways a little earlier to take care of important stuff like homework and in my case writing this, I guess.

I more or less wrote all that last night in hopes of getting my thoughts together for when Adena asked me about how the date went, since she was too busy getting ready for her own weird date to ask me about it yesterday. I knew once she got around to asking she'd want to know a lot of details and ask a bunch of specific questions, and the problem was that I didn't really know what I would answer to some of them. I mean, what I wrote up there is basically what happened, and I tried, but I don't know if I can even put all of how feel about her into words. It's like trying to make a fire hydrant go through a straw.

So today of course she didn't even bring it up. She walked up at lunch with a bright smile on her face and she opened with “I did it! I totally did it!” before I could even say anything.
“So what did you do exactly?”
“I—” she paused, look around for a fraction of a second before leaning forward and saying more quietly, “I managed to get through the whole date, man. I drove her home, we kissed. It was so hard to stay male at first, but by the time we were sitting at the restaurant I only had to excuse myself to go back and forth like three times, and...oh man. Rhia's awesome, too. She has all kinds of hilarious stories of terrible dates with other guys and crazy stuff they did to try and impress her and stuff.”
“ you actually, really like her?” I said.
“...Yeah, I guess I do. I mean, like, I don't feel attracted to her right now but when I'm a guy it feels like I'm in love,” she said.
“So—” I started, but she interrupted me.

“You didn't even hear the best part yet! When we got to her place, we got out of the car and I put my arms around her and we kissed!”
“I think you mentioned that already.”
“Yeah, but you know what happened when that happened?” she said excitedly
“Another tail grew! Just, right there, all at once. I was almost to where I couldn't stay a guy for another second and suddenly it felt like I could hold that form as long as I wanted to. I even managed to keep her from noticing a new tail growing even though hers was kinda curled around my first one at the time,” she said with a slight blush.

“Okay, actually like her.”
“I said I did already!”
“And..” I wasn't entirely sure how this hadn't occurred to her. “You might call what you have the start of a relationship.”
“I dunno, we didn't say anything about a second date last night but maybe?”
“A relationship based on you pretending to be a guy and lying to her about that,” I said finally.
“Oh, you're worried about a little thing like that?” she said, cocking her head to the side slightly.
“Why are you not worried about it?”
“You know how this kinda thing goes,” she said, “there's a whole comedy of errors thing where I have to put in more and more work to keep up the charade, and eventually everything collapses on top of itself and it's really entertaining to watch.”
“I don't think that's a very...entertaining thing to be in the middle of,” I pointed out. “I mean, I think she's gonna be pretty mad about that...I probably would be.”

“Ehh, she'll probably forgive me. I mean, she will if our relationship isn't really based on a lie at that point. I'm showing off my real personality even if I have to fudge my background a bit, and if that's not good enough to keep us together after the whole thing collapses then I don't think it was gonna work out anyway. Either way, we both wind up with a funny story to tell our grandchildren.”
“I have no idea how you can be so casual about this,” I said. “It doesn't feel like a disaster just waiting to fall on your head?”
“Of course it does. That's the best kind of disaster,” she said with a grin.
I crossed my arms. “You realize I have to lie about this too. I mean, if she asks me about it or if someone else sees you with her and wants to know if I know you..”
“Well, it's not like you're best friends or anything, all you have to do is say you don't know anything in the very rare event someone even asks. You need some practice deceiving people anyway, you're way too honest for your own good. Anyway, we can always just say I used some kitsune curse to keep you from talking if anyone's mad at you afterward.”

I put a hand on my forehead, starting to feel like I was going to get a headache. “So you're just planning to tell a bunch of lies and then maybe lie some more when you have to tell the truth.”
“Pretty much. When a bunch of lies have been exposed is the best time to get away with a new lie anyway, you know, because everyone figures you've got nothing left to lose.”
“I have to ask if this know, stuff you would've done before turning into a kitsune girl or not,” I said. “If you somehow had the power without a bunch of memories of being raised as one, I mean.”
She shrugged. “I dunno, maybe? I don't think I'd be as aware of it, which I do have the new memories to thank for, but it totally sounds like something I'd stumble into if you'd just handed me this powerset and no new knowledge.”

This was around when we ran out of time for lunch and had to go back out to classes. I didn't see her for the rest of the day but I guess this is just one more secret I have to keep in this weird journal thing for now.