Sunday, September 11, 2016

The "Best" RPG Ever-23

There had been a few minutes of general silence since the party of three headed out to kill a giant bird, with Rayna taking the lead thanks to being a living compass. Eventually, Lynn (who was in back, as a ranged fighter) said, "Hey. Sooo...Aria."
"Look, me and Rayna, we've been friends a long time. Each of us can usually tell if the other is stressed or is just normal, or like whether they're angry or just messing around..that kind of thing."
"Uh-huh?" Aria nodded, not seeing the point yet.
"Well, it's just—and this is totally not your fault, it's just how things are at the moment—we don't know you that well. Neither of us. So..."
"It seems like you're a little more stressed today than you were yesterday," finished the fox-girl in front. "And we don't know whether you're actually acting like your usual self now, maybe because you get some kind of actual contact high from your sword drinking enough blood, or were just kind of going off the excitement from everything that's happened...or if something bad has happened since then."
"Also, whether or not one of us did the bad thing," added Lynn. "Or if it's just the blood hunger getting at you more or sooner than you thought it would."
"Oh." The shifter thought about it for a moment.

"Well...I guess I probably should tell you anyway. The blood hunger is, well it's there, but I can manage it. What's eating at me is, last night when I went to sleep I found out another wonderful side effect of having the cursed sword on me. My dream was...well, I was standing on a tiny cliff. I couldn't go back to whatever land the cliff was supposed to be attached to, and I couldn't exactly see it, either. The cliff dropped to a huge black void, and way off in the distance was a huge demon which I think is actually the one that's sealed in the sword.
"But...the thing is, like, you know how normally you have a dream and it feels like you were there for five, ten minutes when you were asleep all night?"
"Yeah," Rayna nodded.
"I didn't get that.

"I was stuck in that spot, maybe a square yard or so total, for the entire however-many-hours I was asleep. I couldn't will myself awake, either, and I felt terrified at the idea of jumping off the cliff. The entire place smelled like blood, and I could hear what I think was my own blood going through my veins the entire time. And—and I was having trouble differentiating my own thoughts from other ones, which I think were the demon's. If this—" she cut herself off and took a deep breath, calming herself down from the brink of a panic. "If this is what's gonna happen every night I'm scared to death I'm gonna go to bed one night and wake up already totally insane."
"Oh. That's, uh..that's pretty bad," said Lynn.
"Yeah. I feel like I might understand just a little better what it's like to be stuck in solitary confinement. It's like...there was interesting stuff there to look at, like the huge demon in the distance, sure, but after a while it was all just things I'd seen before. I'd memorized everything there was to see before I think even an hour had passed, and I got bored. It' don't think of boredom as really being all that bad, but when you're bored and you literally can't do anything for hours, it's awful. Knowing—feeling like I was trapped, and might be there just forever was probably the worst part. I...tried to sort of meditate for a while. I've never done that before, and the demon's thoughts kept interrupting me, but it helped a little."

"Hmm." Rayna thought for a moment. "Do you think it would help more if you actually knew how to meditate right?"
"Maybe? I dunno."
"Well, it seems like it's worth a shot. Since probably there are some some magic classes that can use meditation to their advantage, there's gotta be a few teachers in town. We could look for some once we get back from this hunt."
"Yeah, I kinda like that idea," said Aria. "Anyway, even if it doesn't help I'll get to make one more person's life a little more surreal when I explain why exactly I want to learn."

The guard captain's room was not made to house six people, but managed it anyway. The captain herself regarded Rose for a long moment, long enough to make her a bit nervous despite being on the winning side of a severe difference in size. " have a forest to the east," she said.
"Uh, yeah, uh-huh. Like I told them, I didn't even know there was a town here."
"I'm guessing you're a nature draconian, then? You collect plants rather than gold or jewels?"
"Well, I guess that's right," she said, blinking a couple of times. "I brought some gifts to show I'm friendly!" Having retrieved the leaf basket from Nora, she held it out at the captain.
"That's very kind of you, besides helping these four out. But I wouldn't really know what to do with them myself. Perhaps you should sell or trade them in town, if there's anything you'd like to have here. Your existence also explains why we get fewer monsters coming from that direction, doesn't it?"
"I guess so? They learned to keep out of my land a long time ago."

"So we've already benefited from your presence anyway," she said with a nod. "We'd be more than happy to have you as a more official ally. I'll make sure my guards don't steal from or set fire to your forest. But since nobody much has bothered you yet, I think telling everyone where your forest is, even in the middle of a law saying to keep out of it and not bother you, would be counterproductive. It would be best if only those of us in this room, and a small number of trusted people, know where it is in case of emergency. If word gets out another way, I'll have a no-trespass law waiting."
"Aww, that's really kind of you," said the dragon-girl. For being a scary lady, she also seemed awfully friendly.
"I need to speak to these four alone for a while. Please, take a look around our town."
"Okay! See you girls, uh, and guy, later!" she waved.
"Bye," said Mika, waving; Zack and Katherine nodded.
"F-farewell," said Nora.

Once the door was shut again, the captain leaned forward a bit, looking at Mika. There was a long enough moment of silence to make the witch a bit nervous. "Um..."
"I need to know whether or not I should worry about something," she said immediately. "Some of my guards reported something unusual outside of town, so I sent another party out to investigate. Based on their report, I concluded that the place in question must be a singular demon summoning ritual site. The kind of place that only a witch or warlock would be likely to set up. Is it yours?"
"Er—well, yes. I—w-we tried to go far enough out of town not to bother people," said Mika, starting to fear for her life a bit.
"Our patrols go pretty far out so we'll have enough advance warning of major monster attacks. As I understand it, it's much easier to use the same site multiple times than to go somewhere different, which I imagine is why you didn't do much cleanup."
She was right, but Mika hadn't actually thought about that. "Um...yeah, probably that."
"Actually, we didn't even think about cleaning it up," said Zack. "I thought that ash would just blow away in a couple hours anyway."
"Well, it doesn't do that because of the magic involved," said the captain. "The problem is that it looks an awful lot like a place to summon demons, and people—even my guards—don't like the idea of that. Anyone who doesn't know a fair amount about this sort of thing is going to assume someone is setting up to attack the town with a demon army. And we can't not protect that side of town, you understand?"
"So, you want us to go out there and clean it up," said the psion.

"Actually, I had something else in mind. You've been staying at the tavern since your arrival, right?"
"Yes," said Zack.
"Well, in light of the work you've done—especially today's work, not only the report on that castle but catching those thieves and discovering a powerful new ally for our town—I think I could arrange to give you a plot of land around the ritual site, and have a fence around the area and a house built there for you."
Since all four of them just stared either at her or each other for the next several seconds, she continued: "You'd be responsible for protecting your own property from monsters and alerting town if anything really serious is coming; guards would go around the fence so they wouldn't see the ritual site at all. We have this kind of arrangement with a few other people who were interested in having a larger plot of land rather than a cramped space in town somewhere, in exchange for the somewhat higher risk. The legal side isn't much trouble since all of that land officially belongs to the crown, and our local government represents the crown; I'd just need to sort through a bit of red tape that I've already seen several times before."

"Um..." Zack looked at the others for a moment and then back to the guard captain. "Could we, uh, take some time to discuss this?"
"Sure," she said, "it's a fairly big decision. Get back to me by midafternoon tomorrow. If your answer is no I will expect you to clean up the summoning site."
"Right, of course."

The alchemists were just as impressed with Rose's offerings as she had thought they would be, and offered to pay her even more if she could give him seeds for some of the rarer plants next time. The dragon-girl left that place quite a bit richer, and very happy that she valued plants rather than normal treasures. After all, a dragon who sat on a giant pile of gold would have to permanently lose some of that gold to get other stuff, while her hoard of treasure was self-renewing, requiring only a little patience to have just as much as before after spending some of it up.

Since she was still very hungry at that point, she went to a restaurant that smelled good and ordered their biggest portion of meat, a big steak. But when it came, she paused for a long moment, staring at the silverware next to it. How did these things work again? She sneaked a few looks around at the other patrons, seeing them cut and pick up their food so easily, but it still seemed...difficult to understand somehow.

Rose shook her head. This didn't make any sense; Rob certainly knew how to use knives and forks and things! She could remember using them as him, but This was more than a little worrying. Had her mind been messed with in taking on a "character" and a "class", and just how much? She'd been acting weird ever since starting this..."game", hadn't she? Blurting things aloud that never should have come out of her mouth around real people, moving a bit more like an animal than a person at times, and just acting strangely in general...

Could she...overcome that? Rose was sure she ought to be able to keep herself quiet, and learn to use silverware, and all sorts of things like that. But it felt..unnatural somehow, like it was going to take a lot of effort to keep up. Besides, people seemed...relatively okay with how she was acting now, right? Or at least...the girls she'd met in the forest had willingly enough put up with her. Maybe they were just being nice, though; obviously the way she was acting was weird.

Speaking of things that were hard and took effort...this thinking was one of them. Rose was getting an increasingly strong urge to tear into the steak and forget all about this for a while. But...for the sake of making a good impression, she awkwardly picked up a random fork and the sharpest-looking knife and started trying to re-teach herself how to eat a steak properly. Eventually she managed to get a large chunk of it cut up and more or less skewered on the fork, still much too big for her mouth, but she quietly tore that off with her teeth, hoping that was less conspicuous than just picking up the whole thing with her hands. Nobody really seemed to notice or stare, that was good, but she couldn't shake the feeling she was holding the fork wrong..backwards or sideways or upside-down or something. Still, this much was enough to get to eating, and before too long the meat was gone and she didn't need to worry about it anymore.

After remembering to pay and tip the waiter, and doing that, the dragon-girl left the restaurant feeling reasonably satisfied, for now at least. The next thing she thought she might do is buy a few new sets of clothes. If she wasn't mistaken, the ones she was wearing right now were the only ones she had that could be reasonably called 'intact'...

Outside the guardhouse, Mika reached into her inventory (wherever that was) and pulled out a map of town, looking at it only briefly before pointing at a spot on it with a grin and nodding, turning to the others. "Alright you two, we have a wager to settle."
Nora gave her a confused look.
"We made a bet on the way to the dragon-girl's forest," she explained. "They didn't think you'd get free on your own."
"W-well, I mean technically I d-didn't though?"
The witch shook her head. "No, the way Rose told you were definitely out of the ropes before she even did anything. That's good enough for me!"

"I thought you were just trying to consciously use your high luck stat." said Katherine.
"Technically?" Mika shrugged, "but that doesn't work unless it's an actual bet with consequences. Anyway, I figured out the perfect thing on the way here. Sooo, follow me!" She started off down the street, the others following after.

"S-so, uh, what exactly did you win?" said the elf.
"We have to do 'something embarassing'," said the psion. "Not so much her win as our loss," she added with a shrug.
"You also promised it wouldn't be too embarassing," added Zack. "And we need to talk about this house thing."
"Uh-huh, we can do that at the same time," said Mika. "Here we are!" She raised her hands emphatically at the front of a bathhouse before turning around to the rest of the group.

Katherine said, "Um.."
Zack finished, "No." His ears were folded flat against his head and his arms were crossed.
"Oh come on, this is perfect!" said the witch, hopping up and down a bit. "It's kinda embarassing, yeah, but it's also private. We can rent a room just for us for an hour and talk about the house thing while we relax and get clean. Anyway, you lost a bet," she said, glaring up at him. "The only person who gets a choice in this is Nora."
"You'll just have to find something else for me," he said.
"Not that I'm complaining," said the cat-girl, "but why did you think of this in the first place?"

"Well, just, first of all have any of you actually bathed since we got here, like, how many days ago?" she said. While they were busy looking at each other in response to that she added, "I have no idea how you haven't noticed but there's burrs and dirt and junk all over your fur. I'm actually grateful all the hairs on my extra parts are short enough to just shake stuff off of, seeing all that. I mean, come on, Zack, you can just hide under a towle, or—or I'll buy you the most conservative swimsuit we can find if it helps. We've been trusting each other with our lives for sheesh's sake, what's—" Mika paused, realizing that she'd been getting louder and louder during this rant and also waving her hands almost nonstop. She took a deep breath and said much more quietly, "What's being naked around each other for half an hour, huh?"
The knight sighed, his expression softening a bit. "..Fine. I guess something like this was gonna happen eventually."
"Okaay, great. What d'you wanna do, Nora?"

The weaver shrugged. "T-to be honest, I've gotten used to f-feeling exposed. I'm b-barely even wearing anything to begin with."
"Cool! Then we can all be together to talk about the house thing." Mika's usual grin returned and she turned around, gesturing for the others to follow her inside.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Heart's Desire

Basically an expanded caption. Just something light I wrote in an effort to get myself back into the habit of writing after a very long creative slump.

Heart's Desire

The summer of their sophomore year of college, Morgan invited his two roommates along for a vacation down near the sunny coast. Allen was all for it, but Ethan they had to more or less drag along. Yet...Morgan was sure they'd done the right thing when he sneaked a look in his reluctant friend's direction as they got out of the car at the hotel and saw him smiling up at the setting sun.

The first thing they did, of course, was unpack at the hotel. Ethan pretended to sulk in a corner, so Morgan turned his attention to his other roommate..who was busy unpacking a pair of dumbbells. “Dude, what are those doing in your suitcase? This is a vacation, y'know.”
“Well, there's no vacation from bein' buff,” said Al, pumping one of them up and down.
“You coulda at least asked me if it was okay! All that weight's killin' my gas mileage.”
“You tell me how much it costs and I'll pay you back.”
“Okay, fine. Hey, hey egghead!” Morgan stomped over in his general direction. “How much more gas do a hundred pounds of weights waste?”
Ethan glared at him for what felt like a long time. Morgan even started to think he might have crossed the line and made him mad. But then he said, “...What? I thought we were on vacation.” And the whole hotel room burst into laughter.

It was almost noon by the time Morgan woke up the next morning. Ethan, of course, had been up for hours and was on his computer already, while Al was sleeping on top of the covers, still in his clothes from the day before. “Hey!” he yelled, sitting up, and getting both of them to look in his general direction. “What are we doin' still here? Let's go look around town or go to the beach or somethin'!”
Allen yawned loudly, “Yeah, lemme just take a shower real quick..” and lay back in bed.
“I'll give you a shower in bed if that's what you want,” said Morgan, picking up a glass of water menacingly.
“I'm up, I'm up!” While he stumbled his way to the bathroom, Ethan took off his headphones and started looking for interesting places to go.

They wound up mostly driving around town and finding about half of the places the Internet had said existed closed. But they did manage to find a really good place for supper, and on the drive back, Morgan stopped the car in front of something they hadn't seen on the map. “Hey, look, a fair!” he said. “You wanna go to the fair?”
“Sure, whatever,” said Ethan, shrugging. He'd given up on pretending to hate being here by now, and was mostly just along for the ride.
“Yeah, maybe they've got a strength test,” Allen added, flexing.

On their way in, Morgan said, “Hey, you guys wanna go to the beach tomorrow?”
“I guess we might as well,” said Ethan. “Sun'll do me some good, probably.”
“Heck yeah,” said Al, “I've been training my whole life for showin' off on the beach.”
He raised his arms to flex, but Morgan elbowed him in the side. “Hey, leave
some of the beach babes for me, alright?”

Near closing time at the fair, they ran into one of those “fortune-teller” games, but not one any of them had exactly seen before. It was called “Heart's Desire”, and rather than claiming to tell a person's future it said it could “read and grant your deepest desires...for a price!” Well, the 'price' was apparently only 25¢, so they decided to give it a go.

Allen went first, inserting his quarter and putting his hand on the little crystal orb thing when it lit up. It glowed and pulsed like a blue lava lamp for a moment, and finally the machine spat out a small ticket and shut down. He pulled out the ticket and looked at it. “..Huh.”
“What?” said Morgan, trying to see it over his shoulder.
“Seems kinda weirdly specific,” said Allen, pulling it out of Morgan's sight in the process of handing it to Ethan.
“It says..'You shall lose your most valued asset, but gain that which it never gave you'. That sounds pretty generic to me.”
“Well, you try it then,” he said, half-shoving Morgan at it.
“Okay, okay, sheesh!”

He put his hand on the orb, and could swear he felt a bit of static or something going through his palms when it glowed. Soon another ticket came out, and he read it aloud immediately: “'You shall find yourself surrounded by immaculate beauty but unable to fully appreciate it.' What does that even mean? Am I gonna go into a coma in an art museum?”

“Well, at least it has some kind of edge to it,” said Ethan. “Most things like this will just give good news or generic advice, these sound more like, I dunno, curses? I'm gonna try.” After handing Allen's ticket back to him, Ethan did the same thing and got his own ticket. He read it to them: “'You shall find it harder to gather your thoughts, but easier to keep going.' I wonder what this means...”

“Well, it's just a carnival game,” said Morgan. “It probably doesn't mean anything.”
“Yeah..” Ethan nodded, but pocketed his ticket and frowned.
Al looked around. “Well, looks like they're closin' down anyway. You wanna head back?”
“Yeah, sure.”

They went to bed a little earlier that night, so Morgan was awake only a couple of hours after sunrise. He sat up and yelled “Beach day!” loud enough to possibly wake up their next-door neighbors, and looked around to see Ethan fully dressed and covering his ears, and Allen putting his pillow over his head. “Aww c'mon, we gotta get out there before all the babes leave.”
“I'm pretty sure the women will still be there this afternoon,” said Ethan dryly.
“Yeah, lemme sleep.”
“There's plenty of time for sleep when we get back home!” Morgan pulled at Al's pillow and wound up in a tug-of-war which he of course lost, but in the process Al pulled himself right off the bed and onto the floor with a loud clunk.
After several seconds, he sat up and shrugged. “Well, guess I'm awake now. Dibs on first shower!”
“Hey!” He got the bathroom door shut and locked before Morgan could reach it.
“Glad I take them at night,” said Ethan.
“Like you'd have a problem anyway, as early as you're always up.”

Allen came out already wearing his trunks, and Morgan decided to follow suit after his own shower. Then he stared at Ethan from just inside their hotel room's door, blocking him from leaving, until he shrugged and went to change himself. So they were all in swim trunks and t-shirts on their way down to breakfast, and went out to the car as soon as they were fed.

They walked out onto a beach devoid of people. “Huh...seems pretty empty,” said Morgan, looking around.
“Uuugh, I
told you it was too early,” said Allen.
“No you didn't, you told me 'dibs on first shower'!”
“You know what I—huh?”

Al paused at a lock of hair appearing in front of his eyes, just as his two friends both noticed his hair visibly growing longer. Not just that: Its dark color was lightening, and gaining a bluish tint! “What th..” he started, but then gasped, crossing his arms and shuddering. Suddenly he was starting to shrink, becoming shorter and slimmer all at once. His hair grew out to frame a face that was quickly becoming smaller and rounder; his trunks began to tighten while his shirt split down the middle from the bottom up. Morgan couldn't help but stare in shock as he saw Allen's hard-earned six-pack beginning to fade away, his stomach becoming thinner and flatter by the second, his beefy arms and legs slimming down and steadily losing their tone.

As he changed, Allen made noises: Surprised “Aah”s and “Mmh!”s that were a bit higher in pitch every time one came out. His trunks lost their leggings and became increasingly tight between his legs, showing off a bulge there that was definitely smaller than it should have been, and now became smaller still. He finally stopped getting shorter and thinner once his muscles had completely vanished, along with most of his body and facial hair, and suddenly it occurred to Morgan that his friend was looking...awfully girly now. His head-hair had turned a bright blue color by now, and grown out all the way to his hips..hips that were starting to widen slightly, complementing the inward curve his stomach now had.

Al's shirt had lost its sleeves and most of its collar while Morgan wasn't looking, and now just had a couple of frilly bits of cloth going out from what looked an awful lot like a bra. In fact..he looked down again, and saw that his friend had become completely flat between the legs, the trunks having turned fully into a tight little bikini top that showed off her decidedly female body very well.

The newly-made girl's eyes slowly opened as a flower ornament appeared in her hair, followed by it pulling itself together into a pair of long twintails held together with little ribbons. “I-I..wha..?” she started, her face reddening as she looked up at the two men, and then suddenly burst out into a fit of giggles. Suddenly her chest started to expand forward, pushing and stretching the bikini top as a pair of rapidly-growing bumps. She doubled over in laughter, her slender arms wrapping around herself just under the increasingly large breasts, and then gasped for air as they finally stopped growing, catching her breath as she stood back up, grinning brightly.

Ethan started, “A-Allen..what just—?”
I get it! Ohmygosh, this feels great!” she said, twirling happily in place and then suddenly tackling Morgan into a hug. He awkwardly returned it, unsure of how to feel about his friend's new breasts pressed up against him. “It's a blessing and a curse!” she said, disengaging.
What is? What are you talking about?” said Ethan.
“Dude, you just turned into a
chick!” added Morgan, helpfully.
“I know I know! But like, see, I stopped being buff and all that stuff, 'cause that's what I valued, but I feel...happy! Like, really great!”

You didn't like being strong?” said Ethan, who seemed to have caught on to something Morgan hadn't yet.
Well, I mean I did, but it was always such hard work, and sometimes I didn't feel like it was getting me anything, or like it was any fun. But now..I feel..” she giggled again. “Oh, wait! So, if my ticket thing came true, does that mean you guys' will too?”
Ticket at the fair?” said Morgan. “You think that had something to do with this?”
“I...suppose it makes sense,” said Ethan, putting a hand to his chin. “I mean, it' of what his ticket said.” He suddenly looked around at the beach. “Man, it's really pretty here. I kinda wanna around on the sand, or in the water or something...”

Morgan gave Ethan a very confused look; what had just come out of his mouth sounded nothing like himself. “Uh, are you okay?” he said.
“Yeah, I think so, why?” Ethan tilted his head slightly (also a bit uncharacteristic).
“You were sort of talking weird..”
“It's your ticket!” said Allen, suddenly hopping in front of him. “'Cause you're having trouble concentrating, right?”

“I, uh..yeah, like..I mean...” fumbled Ethan, shaking his head uncertainly. “Hey, I feel kinda strange..” He put his hand up to his face and Morgan noticed that he was beginning to get smaller.
“Dude, y-you're shrinking!” he said.
He looked around. “Hey, yeah, l-look at that,” he said nervously, in a slightly higher voice than before. “I feel really strange down in my, uh..” he said a little more quietly, his voice's pitch changed even more. “Um...”

Ethan's trunks shifted almost instantly into a flowery, frilly bikini bottom, showing that what made him male was rapidly disappearing. Then his shirt started pulling tighter against his body as he continued to get smaller, showing his slight gut slowly sucking itself in and his shoulders narrowing. “Am I gonna, like..” he started, sounding like a young boy, “ a girl...too?” He bent over, looking down at the bikini bottom and the positively tiny bulge within. “Whoa...aaaah...aaaah!” His voice started at the same pitch, then pulled up to about the same range as Allen's, then suddenly went much higher as the bikini visibly flattened between Ethan's legs.

“Ohmygosh, oooh-mygosh!” she said, as her body rapidly changed further to reflect her new sex. Her body hair disappeared, her chest immediately springing forward into a bikini top under her shirt that probably hadn't been there before while her stomach curved inward and her hips and butt pushed their way out. Her hair grew out to her shoulders, not nearly as long as Allen's but enough to frame her suddenly very cute face and make her look very girly; a few little flower hairpins appeared in it as well, which also helped along the impression.

As her breasts pushed out again, growing even bigger than Allen's, Ethan suddenly burst out into her own fit of laughter, but she recovered from it much quicker. “Woo-hoo!” she shouted suddenly, jumping up into the air (which made her new assets bounce around a bit) and waving excitedly. “I feel like I could do anything, like, run a marathon or swim across the whooole ocean! Well, like, maybe not the whole ocean 'cuz that's pretty far, but like, maybe the English channel or something!”

“You're, uh, not upset about suddenly being a chick?” said Morgan, too confused by this whole situation to even be in shock.
“Like, why would I care about that? Besides, I'm kinda good-looking, right?” she said, leaning up at him a bit.
“Um, y-yeah..”

“Soo,” said Allen, “If what that carnival game said about us came true, I guess something might happen to you too?”
“I, hope not?” Morgan realized that the first part already had. Both of his roommates...? Former roommates..? Well, nearby friends at any rate, had suddenly turned into absolutely gorgeous girls. But what did it mean about not being able to fully appreciate it? He looked around apprehensively, worried something terrible was going to happen to him soon. Meanwhile the girls looked at him expectantly, both of them looking less concerned and more just eagerly curious about what would happen next.

And then Morgan started to feel a strange tingling coming across his face. He slowly reached a hand up and felt it, and discovered that his skin there was suddenly soft, silky smooth to the touch, and totally hairless. The tingling started to spread downward. across his neck and shoulders to his arms and torso, and he looked at his arm to see most of its hairs starting to retreat back into his skin, like watching a time-lapse of grass growing in reverse. “Oh..oh no...” he muttered, beginning to suspect that the major theme of his friends' changes was on its way to him.

Indeed, as the tingling spread down through his midsection to his groin and legs, Morgan began to see his friends, and the ground, slowly rising up toward him as he began to lose height. “!” he said, but heard the slightest change in his voice. His trunks began to pull closer against his body, while his shirt split open down the middle, suddenly turning into a short-sleeved cloth jacket. “I..I wanna stay a guy!” he said, his voice noticeably higher now.

Morgan felt a slight squeezing feeling across his body, especially his arms and legs, as he begin to get thinner; he felt hair tickling the sides of his face as it grew out. “M-make it stop..!” he said, as he felt his trunks pull closer between his legs, and the beginning of a gentle tugging down there. The shorts crawled up his legs a bit, not losing their leggings entirely but becoming considerably shorter, while the jacket pulled closer against his arms and shoulders, shrinking along with him.

“Aww, come on, like, it's not that bad,” said Ethan.
“Yeah, it's kinda nice actually,” added Allen, and Morgan looked at her to find to his shock that the top of her head was now his eye level.
“B-but I, I..!” he protested incoherently, his voice sounding like a little boy trying to imitate his father. He felt the tugging between his legs shift into a kind of inward slipping sensation as the tiny shorts his trunks had turned into became steadily more comfortable between his legs; the squeezing sensation had largely stopped, leaving him very slender and feminine in shape, which only got worse as a slight push from his hips signaled their growth outward, along with the rounding out of his bottom.

He looked at the girls again to find he was now the same height as Allen, but everything was still slowly crawling up around him. “N-no...” a low but decidedly girlish voice came from his lips as he felt the sensation between his legs change again, the thing he'd had there all his life starting to get strangely numb. “No..!” Now he was at Ethan's eye level, and still going down...and the shorts pulled snug against Morgan's now-flat groin...!

“Nooooo!” An unmistakably girly voice yelled from Morgan's mouth as she felt something new in place down there, something that signaled the end of her life as a man. She now saw that she was the shortest of the three girls by at least an inch or so, and suddenly felt very small and impotent. But she was distracted from that by the feeling of something pulling itself close around her neck and back, and cloth lightly touching her nipples. She looked down to find that a bikini top had somehow appeared around her still quite flat chest, just in time to start to feel a resurgence of the earlier tingling across her chest.

Two little bumps formed there under the top as the tingling subsided, and then there was another pushing sensation, much stronger than her hips earlier, as the bumps began to expand outward.

“Nn..aah..” Her chest was suddenly very sensitive, and feeling the new skin rub and press against the bikini top gave her strange, unfamiliar sensations down in her new equipment. “..Mnhh..!” She felt her entire face heat up as she realized just how nice those sensations were. And even though the new top from nowhere was growing itself to fit her each time, her new breasts kept straining against it. She kept making those sounds for a good several seconds as they slowly grew into place, until finally there was one especially hard push, along with a surprised “AAAaah!” from her lips as they settled into their final size.

She looked down at her new body with a scowl, still blushing brightly, and glared at the other two girls, angry at...well, at something, anyway! “Wh-why did we have to go to that fair anyway!” she yelled, “I..I didn't wanna, turn into a girl..!” Seemingly out of nowhere, Morgan was on the verge of tears.
“Aww, I'm sorry..” Allen wrapped her arms around Morgan again, and she automatically returned the hug, leaning her head on the slightly taller girl's shoulder and sobbing slightly. She became even more upset as she realized that she was hugging a very pretty girl now, and didn't feel...anything! Well, sure, she could feel Al's new breasts pressing against her, but it was just...yeah, they were there. This blessing or curse or whatever had taken away Morgan's attraction to girls entirely.

But slowly, she pulled herself out of it, sniffing. “Uh, th-thanks, Ally,” she said, and then paused. “I, I mean..” For some reason she felt like Ally really was her friend's name, even though she knew it was Allen. She turned to the other girl, “E-Ella?” she said, and then realized she'd said the wrong name there too. “What's going on?!”
“Like, I think the magic or whatever is changing more than just our bodies, and minds and stuff,” said Ella.

Morgan wasn't sure what she meant at first, but then she started to remember walking onto this beach as a girl...with Ally and Ella, both also girls, of course. And driving here in the same state, and waking up this morning, and all of yesterday, except for seeing that strange machine at the carnival. She wasn't forgetting what had really happened, but somehow her rapidly-forming memories of the past week...month...year, felt rather real.
There was a dazed look on Ally's face, and Ella was tilting her head nearly to a right angle, suggesting they were experiencing much the same thing. She remembered starting college as a girl, and going through high school...puberty...growing up in general. Before she knew it, Morgan felt as if she'd been female her whole life.

Somehow she felt completely sure that if she went back to the hotel, or called home, or drove back to college, everyone else would remember that new version of events. It was hard to put her finger on the source of that confidence, besides just guessing that it was more weird magic stuff. “Ugh..this is even worse, now I can't even prove I used to be a guy,” she moaned.
“But, like, you don't have to explain what's happened to anyone, either,” said Ella.
“It's okay, we've been through the same thing,” added Ally.
“No you haven't! You two got all, giddy and happy when you turned into girls! I just feel like, like I'm suddenly tiny, and w-weak, and an emotional wreck,” said Morgan, her voice cracking near the end as a new crying fit loomed.

“Hey, hey..” Ally put a hand to her face and wiped a few of her tears off, and somehow this did make her feel a little better. “It'll be okay. We're here for ya anyway. Besides, we're at the beach...maybe we can just have some fun?”
“Yeah, yeah!” said Ella, hopping around again.
Morgan sniffed and managed to calm down. “Yeah, I..I guess,” she said, still upset but at least not feeling like she was about to break out sobbing again. “Uh..”

She paused, looking around and discovering the beach suddenly fully populated, just as much as she'd expected when first walking here. “..Where'd all these people come from?”
“My best guess is, like, more magic stuff,” said Ella quietly. And then, “Hey, let's get a photo!” She pointed to a guy sitting at a booth with a camera, and Morgan realized slightly to her own horror that he was kind of..cute? Which meant she was not only not attracted to girls, but was actually feeling very attracted to boys just now.

No sooner had that revelation hit than the excited girl was grabbing her hand and leading her over, Ally following gracefully after them. Before she knew it, Morgan was stuck in the middle of a girl-sandwich pose, simultaneously blushing at the pleasant feeling she'd gotten between her legs when the photographer had called her and her friends gorgeous and frowning at this overall turn of events.

She thought maybe she could find the fair and the game there again, or some other kind of magic stuff, and turn herself back to normal. Her friends were having fun, but she just wanted to go back to being a guy! But then Ella spotted an ice cream stand and she was being pulled along again. “C'mon, like, I'll buy!” she said, and Morgan slid her hand out of the other girl's grip to just walk there herself.

As the day wore on, Morgan kept thinking about turning back to normal...but less and less frequently as her friends kept finding fun things to do to distract her. She really was having fun before long, and soon she found herself enjoying even the compliments from boys on her newfound figure. By the time they drove back to the hotel (and passed the place where the fair had been, at which there was an office building and no evidence of any fairgrounds whatsoever), she was talking and laughing with her friends as if nothing had even happened that day.

The next morning, a few hours after sunrise, Morgan woke up and stretched, and looked around to find Ella hugging her pillow and Ally face-down under the covers. “Hey, wake up!” she said, and Ally pulled the pillow over her head. So she went and pulled at it to get it off, getting into a tug-of-war. “C'mon, we're only gonna be here the rest of the weeeek!” Soon it ended, with both her and her opponent falling back, her landing on her bed while Ally fell over onto the floor.
Ally tossed the pillow but overshot and hit Ella, who popped up and tossed it so it hit Morgan's back. She slowly glared at both of them while picking up her own pillow. “Oh, it's
on!” And then they were suddenly engaged in a pillow fight.

As a boy she'd never really believed this kind of thing happened, but apparently it was a fairly regular part of the three roommates' friendship in this...universe? Version of events? Whatever. At any rate, before long they were all sideways on Morgan's bed in the middle of the room, giggling like crazy.

It was hard to believe she'd ever been mad about turning into a girl; somehow Morgan's “curse” had in the span of a day or so turned into one of the most fun things that had ever happened to her. By the time their vacation was over, the three of them were even better friends than ever, which, to be honest, was Morgan's purpose in taking them along in the first place.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Adventure: The Witch's Friend (update 10)

Introducing The Witch's Friend!

This adventure will be a bit of a different CYOA, focusing on probably one particular transformation rather than a bunch of branches and endings. It will also be run differently; rather than me coming up with a bunch of directions a particular page can go to, every page's comment section is a forum for suggestions on what should happen next.

I will basically pick my favorite suggestion(s) from those given, and branch off events from each. More than one mutually compatible suggestion may make it into the same page after the one in which they are suggested.

What's New? 
Update 10-4 new pieces; two have images. Re-ordered update list (the thing you're reading now) to have most recent first so it's easier to see what the newest stuff is instead of having to read down the whole list every time.
Update 9-9(!!) new pieces, 3 of which have images.
Update 8-5 new pieces, including two with an image.
Update 7-3 new pieces, all three of which have an image! (Used to be 2 but I decided to add a 3rd the next day)
Update 6-1 new piece; small update.
Update 5-3 new pieces, one of which has an image!
Update 4-4 new pieces (don't expect this pattern to continue though, honestly)!
Update 3-3 new bits, one of which has an image! I've amended the section above to reflect the reality that suggestions don't really just decide what the main character does next, but may dictate what other characters do and even events not connected to any character at all.
Update 2-One step forward added to each of U1's branches.
Update 1-Two branches begun! Fair warning, even events and facts prior to the story's beginning may differ from one branch to another until established somewhere along the branch.
Update 0-It exists! Now seeking suggestions for moving forward from the beginning.

Need Suggestions:
Just the new 4 desperately need them (due to having none). If you see a page with just one comment I encourage adding an alternative to that, though.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Changing Island: Entries 4-6

Just as a bit of trivia, not that I think anyone cares too much, but Entries 4 and 6 here are entirely new, while Entry 5 is a full reworking of a partially-written caption from way back when I was trying to do this as a series of captions. Also, wow, it took me days to figure out that I had managed to misspell the word "Entries" on the first post of this series. That kind of error is usually unlike me, and feel free to point out any other similarly glaring errors elsewhere.

Entry 4

As of this morning, I have started to change. But I'm going to save the details for a full entry after it's over. Anyway, today I got an interview with someone whose presence and appearance may very well corroborate the theory that this island keeps people young. Her name is Doctor Lauren Haden, formerly Larry; she is a botanist.

Dr. Haden was just over seventy years old when he washed ashore. He was still in active study, however, and had been on a research expedition to some South American islands, on a smaller ship going between two of the islands, when some kind of explosion rocked the ship. Lauren told me that she still speculates occasionally on what caused that explosion, but in the moment Dr. Haden focused his efforts on getting everyone safely off of the rapidly sinking ship. There was a second explosion, very close to him, just as he was about to get into one of the lifeboats, and something from that explosion hit the back of his head, knocking him out.

Around this time last year, he woke up, uninjured like everybody else, on the beach. His clothes were still intact, but soaked from the water. There was nobody there when he first stood up and looked around, noting the weather and the plant life and initially concluding that he must have washed ashore on either the island his boat had started out on or its destination. He went what seemed like farther inland, but began to notice strands of hair falling before his eyes.

On closer inspection, his hair had grown enough to frame his face, and more surprisingly, its grayish-white was starting to take on a reddish tint. Dr. Haden had been a redhead before the color began draining out with age, she tells me, so this was intensely curious. He called out at that point and a few girls showed up, welcoming him to the island and explaining what sort of place this was (and, is). As they lead him toward town to try and find some dry clothes and a towel, his hair continued to grow out, the pale red slowly becoming more vibrant.

By the time someone thought to take Dr. Haden's first photo, his hair had spilled halfway down his back and fully regained its original color, and his complexion looked generally more youthful than it had started. His height and build hadn't begun to change yet, however. Even though he was a botanist and not particularly well-studied in human anatomy, he decided to try and get a more full record of the ongoing transformation in case anybody else wanted to study the effect, so he borrowed a camera and asked to be left alone in his room until it was over.

At this point in the interview, Lauren pulled up on her computer a series of pictures taken in her bathroom mirror, arranged in chronological order, and began pointing them out to me. I'm referring to a copy of those files while writing this section. The first two depict the man I described before: Someone old, but with vibrant red hair. The next few show his skin becoming visibly smoother and more youthful, his height slowly decreasing by just a few centimeters at a time by some markings he had made on the mirror at that point. Lauren told me that about at this point he started to become excited as he realized that he seemed to be losing some of his age, and he actually felt younger as well, more energetic and limber.

Dr. Haden's entire transformation took place over that afternoon, and was over in time for supper. The photos show his height loss accellerating briefly before abruptly halting again, his body becoming a little slimmer along the way. By the time his height stabilized, Dr. Haden had the look of a healthy young man, albeit with unusually smooth, hairless skin. Then he starts to look steadily more feminine, with a bit more curve to his face, an increasingly slender frame and narrower shoulders.

His arms and legs slim down more, his hands (which at this point start having indivual pictures devoted to them) become smaller. His stomach visibly gains a slight inward curve, and his nipples grow slightly. I should note that Dr. Haden took these pictures after stripping completely, but took care to cover his private area in all of them. Lauren doesn't regret this decision, even though an important part of the transformation did take place there, the slow shrinking of what had made Dr. Haden male.

Before he even became female, Dr. Haden's chest visibly rises up near the nipples into a pair of small bumps. Lauren noted that the new skin formed by this growth was strangely sensitive to the touch, but refused to elaborate further. The pictures show Dr. Haden's hips widening at this point, his stomach continuing to curve inward more. A few profile pictures show his backside becoming larger and rounder as well.

He hummed to himself periodically, trying to trace the change of his voice. Lauren does tell me she wish she'd bothered to get something to record that with, as it was an interesting experience. Each time he aimed for the same set of pitches; at first, predictably, the lower ones were easy and the higher ones impossible. But his range audibly changed over time, the lowest pitches coming out as squeaky croaks and ever higher pitches becoming possible.

It seems that Dr. Haden's chest stopped growing just at the same time as he became fully female. There are a few pictures after that point that simply depict the exact same body, the same pretty face and hourglass figure as before. Right after the last one, there was a knock on the door.

Dr. Haden had given his soaked clothes to one of the girls who welcomed him; she had hung them on a clothesline. But when she came back for them, she found a different outfit entirely. About this time, she knocked on Lauren's door and nervously reported the state of her clothes. She yelped in a little bit of surprise when a woman's voice came from inside the door asking her to just leave them and turn around for a minute.

She put on the striped bikini and little white jacket, finding that they fit her new appearance perfectly. Besides that, she opened a few of the formerly-empty drawers in her bedroom to find several more bikinis and other feminine clothes, just the same way everyone had said there would be.

Sometime the next morning, she gave back the camera (having dumped its contents into what was now her own laptop) and let the owner take the usual "after" picture.

Given that Dr. Haden is both visibly youthful and feels as young as she looks, and given that the island's doctor (which, of course, there is one) found her to be in perfect health, without even a trace of the issues she had developed in the process of becoming a seventy-year-old man, I suppose it's reasonable to guess this island has a positive effect on its inhabitants' health, which amounts to or at the very least includes keeping us young. That's at least one good thing, I suppose.

Although Dr. Haden had been rather fond of the idea of remaining male, she told me near the end of the interview that she feels getting to be young again, and possibly even being able to stay that way, is a more than even trade for that. She's been studying this island's plants since the day she washed ashore, and apparently has discovered some new species, as well as a few that were thought to be several years to decades extinct. Apparently she takes the occasional day off (such as today) to just sunbathe, but between her prior life, her extensive knowledge and the work she has done even here in only one short year, I firmly believe she's earned the right to relax as much as she wants.

Entry 5

After learning that the island had decreased a person's age, I became curious whether it had ever done the opposite. And it has. Two years ago, an eleven-year-old boy named Cier went too far out into the water in his inner tube and the tides caught him, pulling him out toward sea. He tried to get back, but he couldn't actually swim so he had to stick with the tube, which was at the mercy of the tides. The beach went farther away rather than closer, and eventually it seems he passed out from exhaustion.

Of course, I wouldn't know about this if I hadn't interviewed him, or rather a woman named Ceira he became. This interview was a little difficult to conduct: Ciera still acts like a child in some ways, but like an adult in others. The point is that she wouldn't sit still and had trouble staying on topic, and at one point took my notebook and drew a picture of a penguin over some of my notes. But I'm doing my best to compile only the relevant information here.

Cier was the first (and I think only so far?) person under the age of eighteen to wash ashore; nobody was entirely sure what to do with him. He was sobbing, and unwilling to talk to any of them at first, as they were strangers, but after a little while they managed to calm him down. Efforts were made to find some way to contact his parents, but even though he was sure he'd known his last name before it didn't come to him, and his parents, of course, he mainly knew by the names "mom" and "dad". The messages that were put up online in an effort to contact Ceir's parents are still there, but there's never been a response to any of them.

On the first day or so, nothing seemed to happen—Najira told me some of the girls even suspected the island wouldn't change him because he was so young. But the next morning, he woke up with purple hair. He would go out and wade in the shallow end of the water, and ate some ice cream. (I think he probably ate normal food as well, but Ceira only seems to remember the ice cream.) Throughout that day, his hair grew a little longer, and his body subtly changed. His hips widened slightly, his body taking on gradually more feminine proportions.

Najira was largely the one who took care of Ceir those first few days; on the third she offered to try and teach him how to actually swim. He took some work to convince, but she promised to stick right next to him the whole time. Ceir hadn't changed much overnight that night, but began to slowly mature that day, growing a little taller, with longer arms and legs. His body gained small curves, and his trunks shifted into something more closely resembling a bikini bottom; Ceira told me that she doesn't know when the switch happened because she had been busy swimming and playing in the water all day, but by sunset she was definitely a girl.

The next day Ciera's change seemed complete. Somehow a bikini top had appeared to match the bottom, and small breasts had grown to fill it. She went out to play in the water with some of the older girls, but found herself slowly growing even taller, her chest filling out more. She matured throughout that fourth day, her upward growth soon stopping but her body growing generous curves, and by the end of the day she was a full-grown adult. In Ciera's words, the little chest she'd started with had become "huuuuge" (accompanied by her picking them up with her hands and grinning up at me).

I'm a little conflicted on whether Ciera should be considered an adult; technically she's only thirteen years old. But even though she acts childish, she seems to have some degree of mental maturity and apparently "knows all about sex and stuff," and everyone else here seems to treat her about the same as any other adult. I suppose it makes it easier when the adults here don't really have to work, and can splash around in the water, play with water balloons or water guns, or basically just do whatever they want anyway. Thinking on light of that, it's a little strange how so many of us seem to have taken on roles that are more or less work, often even the same kind of work as we did before coming here. We don't really have to; no one's making us. We'd have food either way, for example.

Well, I feel like it would be a shame to end these logs before covering myself. Perhaps everyone else feels something similar.

Entry 6

I intended to get four entries done today, but just after I'd finished writing Ciera's entry, my computer started acting up. I was on my fifth try to fix the problem myself when Lauren (who I hadn't even heard walk up) leaned her head over my shoulder and told me I should probably just let Nikki have look at it. This lead to the obvious question of who Nikki was, which leads to this entry. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me while repairing whatever had gone wrong with this thing, and I felt gratified that my habit of taking notes down on paper rather than typing them was paying off.

Nikki told me that before coming here, she was Niko. He lived decently well on money from doing freelance tech support work—repairing computers, phones, game systems, anything with a circuit board in it really. She told me that people came to Niko when the big businesses that sold the computers in the first place overcharged them or told them the problem was unfixable, and ninety percent of the time it was something so simple he barely even needed to open the case. Since the work tended to be so easy, he didn't need to charge much to make good money on it. When he wasn't doing that, Niko was a gamer. Given that I found Nikki sitting on the couch in her house playing on a Gamecube that I honestly have no idea the origin of, I suppose that's one thing that hasn't changed.

What's especially strange about Niko's story is that unlike nearly every one of us here, he never went out to sea: In fact, the last thing he remembered before arriving on Changing Island's shore was going to bed in is own house, which is in an entirely landlocked state, in an area that hasn't even had a major flood in decades.

Nikki told me that she wasn't overly happy with her body, as Niko. He was (in her words) "fat, overweight, weak, and too lazy to do anythin' about it." Being suddenly surrounded by a bunch of beautiful women (again, her words) only made him feel more self-conscious, and he wasn't sure they were being serious about the island's changing people, either. It all seemed like some kind of elaborate prank. But either way, Niko did need a place to sleep, and he was grateful to be given one of the bedrooms in a house.

One of the other residents of that house had been having computer trouble for an entire month; in fact she had switched computers twice only to have each new one give her the exact same errors. The afternoon of his arrival, Niko noticed her repeatedly punching the keyboard in frustration and offered to take a look at it, and within five minutes told her exactly what she had done to all three computers to make them act that way. She was embarrassed at having been the cause of her own troubles, but extremely grateful for the help anyway.

Niko didn't obviously change in any way that day or that night, but woke up the next morning to find that his hair was nearly down to his shoulders and, even more noticeably, his gut had shrunk in an inch or so. He confirmed that the hair wasn't a wig, and thought at this point that even if it was a trick, or even if he was being turned into a woman, this might make it worth it. He was just going to sit at home and play some games that day, but the girl he'd helped the day before saw someone else having trouble with their computer and brought him to it. He shrugged to himself and got to work.

This sort of thing continued throughout the day: One person after another would refer the newcomer to this or that problem they were having. Niko didn't really mind: It just felt like a normal day at work, but with friendly, pretty girls instead of the occasional angry old man who didn't understand the function of a power button (her words, again). He found himself brushing his hair back occasionally as it slowly trailed its way down his shoulders and beyond, and it seemed like every time he stood up his shirt was a little looser in the stomach area. But when he sat down, his butt would occasionally take up even more room than before.

Niko caught a break after supper, and went to his room to try and figure out just how much his body had changed throughout the day. Taking off his shirt, he discovered that what had once been (in Nikki's words) a big, round, fat belly was now just a little bit of pudge. In fact, his arms looked slimmer too, maybe even a little bit stronger. Taking off his pants, he found that his legs had become trim like his arms, but his hips were indeed fairly wide now. he ran a hand down his side, feeling the slight inward curve of his stomach and the outward curve of the hips, and he realized that his body hair had actually mostly disappeared as well. He ran his hands down his arms and legs to find the skin soft and smooth, as if he'd used some kind of lotion on them, which of course he hadn't.
His underwear had shrunk a little bit, but not enough to really worry him too much. Having heard several stories of people whose clothes disappeared or abruptly changed when out of sight, Niko decided to try keeping his clothes on all the way through and into bed. He'd taken them off and laid them aside the night before, but he was sure they'd probably change now that his body had started to do so, and was curious how much they could change while he was still wearing them.

It turned out they didn't change at all over that night. Niko's hair seemed to have stopped growing as well. But with the new day came a new torrent of requests to fix computer troubles, and soon he was busy with that. It was a little less than the day before, and no repeat customers at least. When he spoke, he sounded progressively less like himself, and more like a girl. He got a few looks at his face in black computer screens and could see it becoming more rounded and feminine, as well.
A little after lunch, Niko took a moment to examine himself again and found that his stomach had completely flattened and had become narrower as well, the slight inward curve from before becoming more pronounced. His underwear was now a check-patterned bikini bottom with a very awkward fit. Throughout all of this, it seemed like he'd never gotten any shorter, which Nikki told me she kind of liked, and likes, as it's convenient to not have to adjust to a new height.

Sensing that the end of his change was near, Niko announced he was taking a break for the rest of the day after supper. He took off his shirt and pants again to find the bikini bottom fitting a lot better than before, but also, with some surprise, a matching top hanging awkwardly from his narrow, girlish shoulders. It was very loose on his flat chest, its material soft and elastic.

Niko sat on his bed and watched the bikini bottom slowly pull close as the change completed down there, and then she experimentally crossed her legs and leaned back a little, finding the position comfortable and relaxing. She leaned forward again as she felt the top moving a little strangely, and looked to see what was happening. As you may be able to predict by this entry, Niko's chest was what was moving, rapidly expanding outward, already a pair of average-sized breasts by the time she had the chance to look.

Nikki told me that she didn't feel anything too extreme from the growth like some of the others had. She felt a little neutral about it, but kind of liked the idea of that extra mass making her attractive instead of ugly. They continued to grow, soon filling the sizable bikini top, but even then they apparently weren't satisfied. Nikki stared as the top stretched and strained against the big globes of flesh, before finally they gave up and stopped growing.

Some people congratulated Nikki on the end of the change the next day, or asked how she felt, or other things. She gave them the same response she gave me near the end of the interview, a vague shrug. It seems like she is fond of her new look, but never really put that much stock in outward appearance anyway. It seems her old clothes are still around, in addition to all of the new clothes actually designed to fit her body. She actually was still wearing the old shirt while fixing my computer; despite the size of her bust, it's still baggy and oversized on her.

As an epilogue to all of this, it turned out that what was wrong with my computer was a bit of sand that had gotten into the keyboard, between the keys. I suppose that's bound to happen on an island with so much of it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The "Best" RPG Ever-22

Rose slowly opened her eyes to find that it was still dark out. For a few seconds or so she had a mental disconnect with the collection of odd feelings, namely: Being curled up on grass, having a tail, having wings, having horns (one of which had gotten buried in the soil slightly thanks to her sleeping position), being a woman and all the things that came with that. But it didn't take her long to adjust, calmly reminding herself what had happened yesterday.

She blinked a couple of times, seeing that, as promised, the cute witch girl...Mika, right?...was up keeping watch. Mika gave a cheerful wave when she sat up, and she waved back. Well, at least one person in their party didn't seem too suspicious of her. Would the entire town feel this way about a poor dragon-girl, or was it unique to these adventurers, she wondered. Maybe there was some way to get the town to like her right away, make a really good first impression or something? She thought about it for a moment, putting her index finger in her mouth near-unconsciously and then distracting herself by running her tongue along the weird scaly texture it had before pulling it back out to concentrate.

People...liked plants, right? Things like pretty flowers were nice, but there were other reasons to like plants. A town would have potion-maker-people, and they had uses for a lot of fairly rare, hard-to-find plants. She had entire groves full of such plants, Rose realized. All she needed to do was take some along and offer it as a gift! Easy. She skittered off eagerly, practically on all fours, to take care of that before the others could wake up and think she'd abandoned them, not considering just telling Mika what she was doing until she'd already gone what felt like too far off to bother coming back.

When Rose returned a little after sunrise, but before she came into view, she heard the, guy, berating Mika. "Why didn't you wake me up, then? This is kind of important!"
"Well, I disagree," said the witch. "She'd just woken up. I dunno about you, but there's some things I don't feel like I need to announce to every stranger that I do when I wake up in the morning."
The dragon-girl got in view of them in time to see Zack attempting to come up with an angry response, mouth entirely open, for a good several seconds before finally deciding he had been out-argued and closing it up again. Rose decided this was a pretty good time to show back up.

"Hello!" she said cheerfully, waving at the four girls (err, three and one guy...) with her free hand. In the other one was a closed, basket-like container she'd grown out of leaves that was now full of a collection of nice-looking flowers, herbs, and a few other plants she knew to be rare, useful, or both. "I just wanted to bring some of my forest's plants to your town," she said, "like, as a gift? Could one of you hold onto this while I carry those guys?" It was an idea she'd had only now, about simultaneously with realizing she'd need both hands to carry four vine-wrapped people, but the more she thought about it the it seemed like a good idea. If she trusted them with this precious cargo it meant she trusted them in general, so they should trust her. Right?
They looked at each other and Nora stepped forward, offering a hand. Rose passed over the handle and then walked up to the bandit-kidnapper guys, pleased that her vines had held all night. She pulled on a couple of them, her magic repairing any minor damage while checking to find that they were still just as strong as when they'd grown into place.

"I h-had to knock them out again last n-night," said the elf girl. "T-to be honest, I d-don't care that much if one of them gets a c-c-concussion."
"Hmm. I never knew you had such a vengeful streak," said Katherine with what seemed to be an approving tone.
"I-I'm were...they," stammered Nora, but she failed to come up with any decent rebuttal and at this point just gave up.

"So, you're ready to leave?" the knight asked, and Rose nodded.
"Mhm." She extended the vines and combined them in pairs, so she had two "ropes" to drag a pair along in each. "Lead the way!" she pointed dramatically, and then after an awkward pause added, "Or, uh, I guess I could lead the way out of my forest."
As they headed through the relatively thorn-free path, Mika looked around. "This place is really pretty," she said. "Do you ever get monsters trying to trample on it?"
"Nope!" said the dragon-girl, nearly glowing with pride from the compliment. "Nasty monsters know better than to tread on my territory. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind if folks from your town used it as a safe haven now and then. As long as they don't mess it up. You girls are always welcome, though." After a brief pause: "Uh...and you too, Zack."
"Thank you," he said flatly. It was hard to tell whether or not she'd offended him again.

Once they finally left the forest, everyone seemed a little more tense and alert. Rose didn't feel terribly worried, though; she felt confident that she could beat up any monster in the region and protect everyone! Or at least..she certainly felt like she wanted to do that, maybe get a chance to be their hero? Not quite enough to intentionally attract monsters, if she had a way to do that. No, she decided, that would be mean and dumb. And she really didn't have any way to do it anyhow.

The board out in town square seemed like the best place to look for an easy kill-something job. "Hmm..killing a bunch of dire wolves seems easy enough," said Aria, picking out one piece of paper.
Lynn took a closer look. "...Nope, see that stamp? Someone already took care of it."
"Oh. Then what's it still doing here?" Aria crumpled up the paper and then uncrumpled it again and started tearing it up nervously. She'd been unusually antsy all morning, and the others thought it was because the sword was hungry. That wasn't false, but...
"Uh...hmm. What's this, an old missing person request?" said the illusionist, pulling a paper mostly buried in other ones. It had a sketch of a female elf's face on it, along with some further description, noting that a priestess of some sort had gone missing. "I know I know," she said when the others looked at her, "we can't do this one now. But I'm gonna memorize this in case I just happen to run into her somewhere."

Lynn pulled on another request, looking over it. It was for a small band of men who'd started raiding supply caravans recently. Aria glanced over her shoulder. "Grrr, they want those guys alive if possible. I don't think taking human blood is a good precedent anyway." The archer nodded and put that one back on the board.
"Say, does this world have vampires?" asked Rayna. "If there are non-evil vampires, there might be some kind of black market for animal blood or something."
"I don't think a few blood bags will make much of a dent," said the shifter, shaking her head. "Besides, it's so much better fresh..."
"What if we just bought farm animals periodically? could take up a job slaughtering them! Just let your sword drink all the blood, and the meat would still be usable."
"That is disgusting," said Lynn. "Please stop."
"Hey, I'm just tryin' to be helpful here."
"Then look for a request we can take," said Aria, her teeth visibly sharpening.

"Okay, okay...hey, this looks good." The fox-girl pulled off another piece of paper from behind the others, showing it to her party-mates. "Some kind of giant bird swooped on town at night and killed some people, took the bodies with it. They've tracked down its nest but it'll notice a big raiding party coming and just fly away. I can make it not notice us at all, until it's too late," she said with a vicious grin.
"You're a little scary, you know that," said Lynn.
"Hey. It killed people. I'm allowed to be hateful toward things that kill people."

"Yeah, this looks great," said Aria with a nod. "I wonder if its blood tastes like chicken."
"..I'm going to go insane between the two of you," said the archer after a long stare. "Let's just go take this request so we can get it over with."
As they started toward the guardhouse, Aria looked over at the fox-girl and asked, "Hey, how come you kept noticing jobs that were behind a bunch of other ones?"
"Uh...more of the meta-data vision stuff. I was actually looking at a big list of job titles instead of the physical board itself. Once I decided I was interested in one by its title, I knew exactly where to find the paper it was on."

Somewhere in the middle of the trip, Zack and Katherine both stopped in their tracks, looking around and listening. "What?" said Mika, looking back and forth between them.
"..Buzzing," said the knight, turning in the direction it was coming from, and then tilting his head upward. He drew his weapon, and the others who had weapons followed suit. Seeing their behavior, Rose let go of the prisoners for now and produced from her own inventory a thorny rose, which had apparently been in there for a while now. It seemed like a natural choice to grow it out into a thick, spiky vine and use that as a longer-range weapon than her claws.

The others could hear the buzzing by now, as well as see what it was in the distance. Four of what looked to be gigantic wasps were coming straight down toward them. "I don't understand," said Katherine, "why giant bugs have to exist. Of all the things that could be around, why giant bugs?"
"Aww, don't worry," said Rose, "I can squish 'em." Once they came a little closer, she drew back her whip and struck forward with it, making it grow even more mid-strike, long enough to wrap its way around the main body of the bug it hit. She retracted the vine between herself and the captive wasp quickly before tossing it to one side, smashing it into the ground.

By now the other three had arrived, all three of them rushing at the dragon-girl. Zack moved in front of one, shifting back to dark form and drawing his shield in one motion and blocking a strike from its stinger. Mika tossed a regular pumpkin at another in a successful gambit to get its attention, while Katherine focused on what small bit of a mind the third one had, drawing its aggression toward herself.

Rose's bug slipped out of her whip's grasp, though not without cutting itself across its thorns along the way. It buzzed straight toward her; she leapt aside, her wings flapping and allowing her just enough air to land back on her feet and smack it with the whip again before it could change direction, knocking it farther away from her.

The witch waited for her opponent to get a little closer, and then summoned up some demonic fire right in its path, too close for it to correct around. It went straight through the flame, and Mika remembered why she didn't usually draw aggro. She hopped on her broom and flew in both senses of the word, the giant bug following her closely but unable to surpass her in speed.

Zack took a number of unsuccessful swipes with his sword, the giant bug agilely dodging each one. Nora moved a little closer and raised up a wall of earth in the way of its next dodge, allowing him a clean swipe through its side as it rammed into the wall. The bug flew up out of Zack's reach and down toward the elf, but the knight moved between them and bashed its stinger with his shield again, knocking it backwards. As it spun around in the air, trying to regain its equilibrium, Nora raised up a tall dome of rock and earth around it, pulled the entire thing closer in, compacting the dirt so it would be harder, and then collapsed the whole thing down on it. Zack followed this up with a quick stab to the mound of dirt, which he felt go straight through the bug's outer shell into softer flesh.

Katherine hopped and ducked around the wasp as it continuously tried to sting her, swiping at its wings from behind with her knives every opportunity she got. It seemed like her strikes were connecting, but the thing kept on flying anyway. Eventually she gave up on that and tried swinging around to the front and stabbing its eyes. This proved to be a little harder to do, as the bug saw the knives coming and flew to one side to dodge them. At least this gave her a reprieve from her own acrobatics.

Rose made short work of her opponent, wrapping it up more thoroughly when it came for her again and then squeezing her whip tight enough to crush its exoskeleton in on the rest of its body. Then she turned her attention to the one chasing Mika, watching the two of them fly around and looking for a good opportunity to attack. Soon she had one, as Mika came in for a dive directly to the right of the dragon-girl. Rose drew her weapon back and timed her strike carefully, swinging left against the wasp's momentum and catching it right where the fire from before had left its shell weakened; her whip crashed straight through its body and it went down. Mika flew back up into the air, still panicking and not looking back.

Katherine finally managed to get a small cut across one of the wasp's eyes before Zack showed up, chopping straight down and forcing the wasp to one side. The psion looked at him for a second, transmitting an idea much more quickly than the words required to describe it, and he nodded, beginning a few methodical strikes at it while Katherine moved her knives into place. He got the bug looking straight at him, and drove it from one side to another, and finally backwards, straight at a steady wall of four knives. The bug impaled itself, but the wounds were fairly shallow and it seemed about to free itself. However, this held it still just long enough for the knight to run it through with his own weapon, and finally the loud buzzing stopped.

Katherine looked up at Mika, who had been yelling into the air for the past minute or so. Hey, fight's over, you can shut up and land now.
Mika's flight slowed down; she turned her head around and finally noticed that her persuer was gone. Breathing a small sigh of relief, she floated carefully back to earth and got off of her broom. "Eheh...sorry about that," she said.
"It's fine, you lead him straight to me," said Rose, grinning.

"Hey, did I see you make fire earlier?"
"Uh..." The witch only just now remembered the bit about not mentioning fire to this woman.
"Can you control it or just summon it?" she asked eagerly.
"W-well, I mean it's not really a natural fire, it's like a demonic thing. So I can control it because of that, but like, not normal fire."
"Ohh, okay," she said, nodding, and went back over to check on the wrapped-up criminals. They were, predictably, still unconscious and still wrapped up.
Mika looked at Nora with some surprise; the weaver gave a simple 'I don't know' shrug. So instead she decided to get it from the source. "I uh...I thought you didn't like fire?" she said, moving closer to the dragon-girl, who was putting the vines together to drag the prisoners along a little more.
"Well, I don't like fire because it burns me, or my plants...but I'd love having a friend who can control it!" said Rose. "Because a person who can control fire can take it away from me and my plants, even better than a bunch of water."
"Ah, alright."

They started on their way again, Katherine leading the way with the map. After a short while, the psion looked back at Rose. "Hey, uh, I don't want to offend you or anything, are part dragon, right?"
"Mhm!" she nodded cheerfully.
" you have, a breath weapon?" She looked confused. "Like...something you can breathe out instead of normal air that does something magical? I guess not fire, since that wouldn't make any sense."
"Oh, yes! Well, I wouldn't call it a weapon exactly. I can breathe minty breath!" She huffed out a bit of aquamarine-colored smoky stuff as a demonstration. "It smells minty fresh, and it can heal people, animals and plants. It even makes bigger cuts and things not hurt as bad! But's really easy to set on fire, so I have to be careful with it."
"Huh." The catgirl thought for a moment. "If it's that flammable you could use it as a weapon. Breathe it over something you don't like and then just light a match under it."
"I guess so? I don't like being close to fire, or things that can make fire, uh, other than friendly people who have control over it and won't accidentally catch. I guess I could do it if I had a friend who'd light it after I got away from it."

"Hey, how...close are we to your town by now?" she asked a moment later. "I am really strong, but carrying these guys for much longer is gonna really tire me out."
"We're fairly close, should be there before noon," said Katherine.
"Oh, good! So lunch could be there! They're...not vegetarians there, are they?" she asked, looking at Zack. "I mean, I like fruit, but my sharp teeth aren't just for show."
"Yes, they have meat," he said flatly, briefly wondering why she'd asked him about this before remembering he was visibly part wolf.