Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sweet Chocolate

Something simple for the winter months.

Believe what you want on whether it had a similar effect on everyone, and whether the effect was temporary or not.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Apprenticeship (Ancient History!)

Well, this one requires some explanation.

This is a very old story of mine, I think the very second or third one I wrote? It predates Midas Journal for sure; based on the timestamp of the document I copied it from, it is eight years old. It follows on from the events of Explanations, and I could've sworn I had posted it way back when. But it turns out I didn't. I'm presenting it here for completeness' sake, even though it's nowhere near up to the standard of writing I have these days.

I'm also using posting this as an excuse to announce in a non-comment location the fact that ongoing stories now have navigational links up at the top for convenience of reading, and also that I've added a Tables of Contents page with links to and brief descriptions of every piece of each ongoing story as well as all of the one-off stories, and also for navigational convenience. There is also a link to said page on the lower right area of the sidebar.

Hope to write something new soon!

Another day, another…what? Someone had messed around with what she’d tried to do for those two boys earlier, not that it was that bad; after all, they seemed a lot happier now after seeing them at school today. Apparently she was no matchmaker. Just a strange orphan girl with pink hair.
Speaking of which…

Lyra let go of the spell she’d been maintaining all day that made her hair look brown. It wasn’t like she could afford any actual dye, so instead she had to split concentration between her studies and keeping her hair brown. Naturally, both suffered occasionally, but thus far the slips hadn’t been too noticeable and she was able to keep it high enough for nobody to ask for her parents.

…Wait a minute. If there was someone else able to mess with her magic, didn’t that mean she wasn’t the only witch around? Well sure, it seemed impossible that in the whole world she would be the only one with strange powers, but this meant there was or had been someone actually nearby with at least as much power as she had, something necessary to reverse changes.
It was on this train of thought, walking down the sidewalk and staring at empty space, that she nearly ran into someone. She immediately jumped back, trying to apologize and hide from the man at the same time. He was at least three feet taller than she was, and wearing a top hat that probably increased that estimate.
“Sorry, sorry, wasn’t looking where I was going, really, I—”
“Hold up a minute, will you?”
“Hmm?” She looked up at him, taking another step backwards in an attempt to make that easier. He seemed to be examining her similarly, his hat twitching like it was a part of his body.
“…You seem to have been trying to help,” he said, apparently concluding something. “But you should really learn to control your magic properly. Changing magicless people improperly can cause them to develop resistances, which aren’t always good.”

“Eep…” She stepped back, and attempted to stutter a question. Did he say magic?
He nodded. “Perhaps we should speak in a more private location.”
“Er, well I…I mean I don’t…” He interrupted her, pushing her chin up toward him, a gesture which at the same time effectively closed her mouth.
“Just follow me, alright?” She nodded, still trying to work out what was going on.

He led her down the sidewalk, through a few turns, never across the street, and into an alley, and then continued walking toward a wall that was a dead end. She followed him, and then he walked through the wall. She jumped a bit at this, and then timidly pushed a hand at the wall, and finding it wasn’t solid, followed into a small living-room type area. The tall man was sitting on a chair, and indicated an opposite one.
“Er…” She sat down.
“Hmm, well, you obviously are aware of your magic, and magic in general doesn’t escape you as a concept,” he said, taking off his hat to show a pair of wolf ears and laying it on a table, and, without pausing, continuing, “What you obviously need is some kind of training. Do your guardians know you have this kind of power?”
“Er, well, no, I kind of, don’t have any…” She said, looking down and then instantly back up again at him. “…Sir.”

He chuckled slightly. “You may call me Wolf,” he said. “Have you been able to find any books of any kind on the subject?”
“Well, no…I’ve just had to experiment with what I can and can’t do…I mean…”
“Is that why you have pink hair?”
“Um, well…that’s different, y’see…I was, kind of born male, but, in elementary school one day I think I was mad at someone or something, and well, that was how I discovered my magic. I was kind of…my hair was pink, and I don’t know how to make it stay normal or how to change back…”
“Hm. Do you [i]want[/i] to be male again?” he asked.
“Er, well, no. I’m kind of very used to being a girl now,” she said, “a-and besides…um…”
“Boys scare me to death.”

“Ah,” he said, “that would be the reason why you didn’t ask permission before changing Tran, even indirectly.”
“Uh, yeah…sorry about that, I think…I really messed up, didn’t I?” She put her head down again.
“Cheer up, it’s just a lack of experience. But from now on you should really avoid that kind of mental changes. It’s a terrible infringement of ethics.”
“Um, I-I understand,” she said. “But uh…How do you…I mean…?”
“I’m just old, and know a lot of things,” he said. “Now, for improving your abilities, perhaps you could find someone to take you as an apprentice?”

“Um…well, I guess I could, but I mean…I don’t know anyone with, er…”
“…Not counting me,” he said. He paused, getting a pensive look for a moment. “Come to think of it, I don’t have an apprentice. Then again, I’m not sure if you’d want someone inexperienced with being a master. Considering I haven’t had an apprentice since…hm…ever.”
“I-I don’t mind too much, sir, I mean..um…but…don’t’ you…aren’t you kind of busy?”
“Nothing you couldn’t help with, I think. You already know how to change people’s forms, I could just teach you how to do it correctly. Among other things you have potential for.”
“Uh…why do you…I mean, not to sound disrespectful but why do you…change people?”

He shrugged, and then began an explanation. “I generally tend to come upon people who want to be the other gender, and will usually help them out as a kind of hobby or charity, whatever you want to call it. I can't change my own, and neither can anyone else, and would very much like to try it, honestly. I also will try to reverse disastrous effects of the misuse of that kind of magic, and chastise the persons responsible for such misuse.”
“Huh? Why can’t you change your own gender?” she asked, curious.
“My body absorbs such attempts of any sort externally, taking the energy and adding it to my own. It’s a magical trait of my race, you see.”
“But, if that’s a part of your magic..isn’t it possible to lend other people your magic? What if you lent the immunity to someone else and then tried to change?”
“Hmm, you’re very bright,” he said, standing, “I’ve never thought of that in over four thousand years. Only, because that immunity is buried under all of my other magic someone would have to bear that too, and it would have to be that person who changed me and not myself for the same reason.”

He paused, looking at her. She stood up also. “You don’t mean…I’d..?” she said. “How would I handle all of that?”
“Well, being already a magic-user, your body should be able to handle the weight for at least a couple of minutes. And if it is unable to handle it, it’ll just throw the magic back at me and I’ll have to find someone else or wait until you are strong enough to try it,” he said. “And besides, it’d be a good first lesson as my apprentice to see what you can handle and show you what kind of fatigue real power can take if you’re not practiced enough.”
“As your…really?” She said, smiling slightly as he nodded.

“Now then. Are you ready?”
“Um, I guess so.”
He moved his hands in a slight gesture, and spoke, “Nonkalos lebram!” before grabbing her right hand with his and pushing the energy through it. The sheer amount of it was enough to make her dizzy, and it was enough that a relatively small amount of it siphoned off as light while it transferred. She stood there for a moment after he had let go, dazed, and finally shook it off. “Er…ready?” she said weakly, bending slightly under the magic’s weight. He nodded.

Lyra concentrated the part of the magic that reversed gender on Wolf, understanding somehow that he only wanted that to occur and traits could be specified later. He changed at about a medium speed. His hair grew longer, but only slightly, and his face shifted a bit. His body shrank about a foot in height, which was still very tall for a woman, and his clothing only shrank to fit. Anatomically only small changes occurred, until his chest rose just enough to be seen through the shirt, and the magic quit, indicating it was done. Lyra immediately let go of her hold on the borrowed magic, causing it to fall out of her and immediately go back into Wolf.

After a moment of looking down at herself the woman looked back at Lyra. “Well, looks like it worked,” she said, smiling, in an alto tone.
“Ugh…um…yeah…” said Lyra, exhausted. “Is that going to be necessary every time you..?”
“Nah, don’t be silly,” she said, “Now that my body has been made to a feminine form, it should be capable of switching between the two just like any other change I can make to myself. The form simply had to be broken.”
“Say, shouldn’t you have some different name as a girl?” said Lyra, straightening a bit though she was still very tired. “Like adding an e to the end of your usual name?”
“Hmm, you’re right. Although that seems unnecessary and undistinguished from male…eh, it’ll work,” she said. “Wolfe it is. Hmm, I’ll show you to the guest bedroom, you need some sleep. The real training starts tomorrow, Lyra!”

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fox's Panties

A genuine caption at last. The long-awaited(?) intersection of captions titled "Fox's {noun}" and those titled "{adjective} Panties".

Friday, November 4, 2016

The "Best" RPG Ever-27

 First / Previous / Next / Latest

I hope I'm not annoying everyone with repeatedly posting parts of this story. There don't seem to have been a lot of comments lately so I can't tell if people are generally happy with seeing updates or unhappy with this story being what's coming up so often or just plain don't care? I'd almost rather see a bunch of complaints like "I'm sick of this story" than nothing at all, although that would be a bit disheartening.

Either way, I at least made a little progress on a different story lately so maybe there'll be one of those up soon.

Zack went looking for the store with the armor he'd seen before, a proper full-body suit with a breastplate, greaves, gauntlets—no helmet, oddly enough—which looked designed to fit a female body like his own. The wolf either followed or stuck next to him. After a moment he looked at it and said, "So...did your hunt go well?" The wolf made a sort of satisfied grunt that sounded like a yes.
"Well, that's good. We found what we were looking for, too. I don't think you would've liked it." It was a little odd to him to talk to an animal like a person, but it had become increasingly clear this wolf was much more intelligent than your average dog. Did it have to do with whatever magic cleaned its fur for it?
The wolf made a quizzical sound. "Well, we ran into some kind of ghost thing and then a living suit of armor. I don't think you'd enjoy trying to bite into solid metal."

Speaking of armor, there was the shop, and the suit he'd seen before was still in the window. The knight went inside and looked around; there were various styles of armor on sale here, including strangely revealing pieces like those he'd started with, and likewise armor seemingly intended for men that had the look of casual clothes. He eventually came to the woman at the counter, an elf wearing a patch over her left eye. "Howdy. Can I help ya, miss?" She seemed to be chewing...gum or something, and punctuated her speech with a smacking sound.
Zack bit back a complaint about being called 'miss'; it really wasn't worth it in situations like this. "Yeah, is the, uh, full armor in the window for sale? Or something like it?"
"You mean the traditional style?" He nodded. "Yeah, we got some in stock. You a knight, miss?"
"Uh..yeah." Even though he wasn't entirely sure what the question meant in an 'in-setting' sort of way.

"A'right." The elf ducked under the counter to dig for something. "If you wanna buy one I c'n just tune it to your gem and we don't have to worry about fitting an' all that."
It took Zack a few seconds to realize she was referring to the gem of brightness. "Uh, kind of a dumb question, but how much does that...change an armor's look?" He remembered now that shifting forms actually changed his 'default' armor quite a lot, and panicked a bit at the idea that it might turn this new armor, and any future armor, into something equally terrible.
"Well," (smack), "it usually just makes it fit your size an' all, maybe a little shift in the color. Probably fix the tail situation too if it isn't...oh, there it is." She came back up with something resembling a large pearl, but gray and glowing slightly. "You want to try one on for looks first, miss?"
"Uh, sure."

The elf lead him through the store to a section of mostly 'normal'-looking armors, and just grabbed one of those without even looking it, dragging it piece-by-piece to a nearby table. "C'n I see the gem for a second, miss?"
He offered it to her, but instead of actually taking it she just held the glowing pearl over it for a few seconds and then put it up against the middle of the armor's chest. The metal shifted itself around slightly, the chest area pushing out slightly and the whole ensemble shrinking slightly to fit a smaller body; the gray metal took on a slightly lighter tone. Once the metal stopped moving she picked the pearl back up and pointed to a nearby door. "Changing rooms that way, miss."

So altered, the armor fit Zack's body perfectly. It was heavy, but not any more than the armor he'd first started out in, and somehow putting it on felt natural. It didn't expose any skin past his neck, but he had to frown a bit on realizing that it was form-fitting enough to still basically show off the girl in the mirror's figure. Well, it was still better than a skirt.
Out of curiosity, Zack tried shifting to dark form. The armor's more rounded edges became slightly pointier and its metal changed to a shiny dark shade, nearly pitch-black. It was just as non-revealing as before, which was good. The headband from the skirt-armor still appeared on his head, which probably meant it was actually a separate piece of equipment or something.
He'd asked the wolf to stay outside, and found it sitting next to the changing room door when he left, back in his lighter street clothes. Back in the store proper, the elf said, "Find it to your liking, miss?"
"Yeah," he nodded, "I'll take it."

Lynn arrived back at her party's room at the inn before realizing she wasn't actually sure what to do with all the time there was between now and the date. She felt giddy and excited at the idea of it, but she didn't actually know what girls did to prepare for dates? Not that this one was supposed to be a big deal or anything, but it would be good to at least look a little nice...

She went to the bathroom and had a look at herself in the mirror. Her clothes were a little scuffed, and there were some bits of grass and dust in her hair. Rayna hadn't seemed too bothered by taking a bath, had she? Maybe it wouldn't be too bad to just clean up a bit, and maybe wear one of the outfits she hadn't just been out fighting a giant bird monster in afterward. It just meant...well, taking off her clothes.

She tilted her head slightly at the girl in the mirror. Even though she'd basically accepted being a woman by now, it was somehow an intimidating thought to face it so head-on now. But, well, it wasn't as if she could put it off forever, and doing it now would also let her get cleaned up. She kind of...wanted to look nice and pretty.

The archer nodded to herself in the mirror and started removing her clothes, halfway distracting herself with thoughts of what to put on after the bath. There were some slightly girlier, less strictly utilitarian outfits she'd bought at the store while Rayna wasn't looking; one of those would do nicely...

Rose was more intelligent than she'd seemed at first. On the way to the inn, she noticed a flower shop and pointed out one she particularly liked in the window, and launched excitedly into a description of it. Although it was framed like a description of another person, the dragon-girl put the important properties of the plant in terms a child could understand, and packed into those an explanation that would have put a botanist to shame.
"You, sure know a lot about plants," said Rayna afterward, still a little dazed from the flood of information.
"Well, I've been around them my whole life, you know? And I'm a nature dragon, so I'm supposed to know about stuff like that. Did I mention that?"
"One might have guessed from your lair being a forest," said Clera. "I suppose that means you don't breathe fire?"
"Nope! My breath is minty and healy. It can be set on fire, but I really don't want people to do that."

"How long..have you lived out in that forest, anyway?" asked the illusionist.
"Um..." Rose reached up a hand and ran it along one of her horns, scrunching up her face in thought. "I don't..know. I can't really remember living anywhere else!" It occurred to her that her memories of being a dragon girl didn't include any keeping track of days, months, seasons, years...well, she always knew what season it was, and what order they came in, and that was enough.
"And you didn't know there was a town here..did you ever have visitors?"
"Hmm...sometimes? I think there wasn't a town the last time I did though."

Clera made a small mental note to try and find out when this city had been founded. How long had this poor girl been alone with her plants? It was obvious she liked the company of other people, even if she wasn't used to it; being totally alone for such a long time should have driven anyone insane. At least, it sounded like a miserable experience.
"So what's it like being an ad-ven-turing party, huh?" said Rose, pronouncing the word like a child learning it for the first time.
"It's..not too bad," said Rayna. "I mean, it's pretty hard work, but it's worthwhile. Pay's really good and we're actually helping the folks around here survive. Today we took out a big bird that was snatching people up."
"Just picking people up and taking them away? That's so mean," said Rose. "If I knew a nasty bird was doing that I'd pull it down with some vines and tear its dumb throat out!"

Both of her companions had to pause briefly at hearing something so violent coming from her in the exact same chirpy tone as calling a flower pretty. "W-well, that's uh...don't worry, we got it," said Rayna, recovering first. No wonder monsters gave her forest a wide berth. "Actually we met Clera during that fight."
"It was trying to attack me, but I have more maneuverability than something that large," said Dr. Kellen with a nod.
"Ooh, you can fly?" said Rose eagerly. "That must be so cool! I can only sorta glide and hover 'cause I'm too heavy."
"It..is nice," admitted the winged girl. "There is a tradeoff of durability, however."

"Here's the inn," said Rayna, pointing up at the Broken Dragon's sign. "It's..." She paused, something about the place's name occurring to her.
"Aww, why'd they break the dragon?" said Rose, noticing the same.
"It's just the name of the inn," said Clera, exasperated. "They probably intend to refer to a hostile dragon being broken."
"Yeah," said Rayna, "I'm sure whoever named this place wouldn't have a problem with someone as cute and nice as you."
"Aww," Rose blushed slightly from the compliment. She wanted to give the foxgirl a hug but restrained herself from going that far.

"Anyway, this place is pretty nice. Our room's kinda full at this point but I'm sure they have a single they can rent you."
"Okay!" said Rose. "Umm, where are you gonna go next?"
"Well..hm." The foxgirl turned to Clera. "How many sets of clothes do you have?" She knew the answer was probably 'just the one', but it would be very hard to explain to the dragon-girl why.
"..Only these," said Clera, tugging at one side of her dress. "Flying somewhere requires one to pack exceptionally light."
"Then we should buy you some new ones! I mean, you know, to welcome you to the party and town and stuff."
"Ohh, I already bought a bunch of clothes," said Rose, "so I kinda know that part of town already. And I probably shouldn't tempt myself to spend the last of my money on window shopping..maybe I can get a room rented and meet up after you're done?"
"Sure," said Rayna, nodding. "We'll just meet here, maybe you'd like to join us for supper?"
"That'd be great!" she said with a big grin and bounded off into the inn.

Rayna waved at her and turned to go before pausing at seeing that Clera's arms were crossed and she was glaring up at her again. "Uh..what?"
"I do not like the idea of befriending that poor girl only to use her as some kind of heavy weaponry," she said, her eyes sharp and fierce. "She has had no human contact for possibly decades and it disgusts me to think of taking advantage of that kind of loneliness."
"Wh..I wouldn't do that! I just..." Rayna paused, her ears drooping slightly. "I didn't mean it like that, okay? I'm really not that kind of person. But, this world is really dangerous, and, and making powerful allies is good, okay?" She felt like she'd been caught stealing something and was trying to explain it to her own mother. "We—what we do is important, it saves people's lives. That big bird had a request to take it down because it killed people!"
"That's all well and good, but if we want her help we will ask for it. No talking around her and making her think it was her idea."
"No, of course not," said Rayna, shaking her head. "Fighting a monster around here is risking your own life. I'd never try to make someone do that if they didn't want to."
"..Good." Dr. Kellen's arms lowered and her expressioned softened a bit.

"I don't..do you really think I'm that kind of person?" said the foxgirl, still agitated.
"...No, I do not." Clera's expression turned kind and a touch sorrowful. "I'm sorry, I tend to be very abrasive when I think someone is doing something wrong. It comes from a lot of seeing doctors who care more about their own finances than their patients' lives."
"That's..it's okay, that's a pretty understandable reason," said Rayna. Suddenly the smaller girl came closer and wrapped her arms around her. "W-whoa!"
"Is something wrong?" asked the winged girl, whose head was halfway buried in taller one's shoulder.
"No, I just uh, didn't peg you for the hugging type," said the foxgirl, returning the hug briefly before both of them disengaged.

"Hm.." Clera tilted her head slightly. "I suppose I usually am not. But it felt like the right thing to do in this situation somehow."
"Well, just more of this change stuff I guess," said Rayna. "Let's go get you some new duds."

In the same manner as the board of quests, there were some boards around town where ads were posted for various shops and other businesses; one of them wasn't too far from the front of the library. Aria's reaction to seeing one was, "Oh wow..I didn't even know they had these."
"They're only..huge boards covered in a bunch of gaudy pictures."
"I can miss the obvious sometimes, okay?" This reminded her of the disastrous search for another member of her own race earlier. Actually, she'd never been this..what? Absent-minded? Unobservant? before. It was frightening to think about losing her grip that badly, but she didn't show that fear around a relative stranger.
"Yeah, yeah. Anyway, let's see..." Katherine poked around at the board, pulling papers partway up to reveal older papers. There were all kinds of events being advertised that seemed to be from months or years ago; it reminded her of an average college bulletin board in that respect. Evidently nobody ever cleaned these things up.

"Oh, here we go." The catgirl pointed at a small scrap of paper in the bottom left corner which had been completely buried in the several layers of other papers now draped over her head. "Tsaron...Ieado's...mental training house. Meditation and a bunch of other lessons offered." After making a firm mental note of the address, she pulled herself out from under all the paper. "It looked kind of old, hope it's even still there."
"So this is more where my sense of direction would come into play," said Aria, "if I'd even gotten this far."
"It's fine, nobody's good at everything," Katherine shrugged.

On the way, she said, "So, how do you..uh, deal with the blood hunger thing?" It was little hard not to be thinking of the topic with the demon's chanting in the back of her extra senses, albeit muted now that she knew where it was coming from. Her senses were busy picking up on other people's navigational sense of the town anyway, so she knew which direction to go in to reach the unfamiliar address.
"I met up with an adventuring party when I appeared here," said the shifter, "we go out and kill monsters and the sword eats that blood. Today we took down a giant bird thing. It was delicious and had a lot of blood, so I'm good for now!"
"Well, that's a relief," the psion sighed. "I mean, not that you don't seem to have the self-control to not kill people, but..."
"I know I know, I'd be a little scared of me too."

"You said you appeared?"
"Yeah, part of the amnesia stuff. The first like, events I can actually remember are pulling out the sword and cutting through..space or reality or something...and then hopping out and, appearing."
"Hm. If I could get around the demon to your actual mind I could, theoretically at least, do something about that."
"Err, no offense but I'd rather you didn't. Just to be careful. I think the demon itself is technically asleep right now and I don't want to risk waking it up."Also, you would find out I was just lying and probably not understand the truth, she thought to herself.

"What's the rest of your party like?"
"Umm, well there's Rayna and Lynn, who seem like they've been friends forever. Lynn's like a magic archer, she can shoot arrows with fire on them and stuff. Rayna makes illusions and stuff. And...we had another person join us recently, but I was unconscious most of the time she was introducing herself so I don't know that much about her yet. We're just getting to know each other, but they're all pretty nice. Why, are you looking for a party join or something?" Aria wasn't sure why she implied an offer, knowing there was no way they would want someone who wasn't another 'player' in the party.
"Nah, just making conversation. I'm already working with some folks myself."

"Maybe I should ask you who you work with, then?"
The catgirl shrugged. "If you wanna know. We're a pretty strange bunch, honestly. First there's Zack, who think she's a guy...or, I dunno, used to be a guy? Something about a form-changing curse." She needed to keep her own character's knowledge of his backstory vague in case he ever decided to elaborate on it; pretending not to have listened seemed like the best option. "And, uh, well, we have a witch on our party too, Mika." She had no idea whether or not this girl would have a problem with witches, having a connection with a demon herself. "She's really nice, maybe a little hyper."
"Uh-huh..." Aria gave a neutral answer, thinking. She'd only heard one other person talk about witches. But it seemed like too much of a coincidence for her to be that witch, right? "Anyone else?"
"Yeah, Nora. Nora's a spirit weaver, she can kind of...pull at nature or something?" Again, in-character; psions are supposed to shun magic, right? "I don't really get it, but it lets her throw rocks or fire around and heal people. Oh, and we have a wolf."

"Like a pet wolf?"
"I..wouldn't call him a pet exactly, no. We went to stop some wolves blocking the road and their alpha challenged Zack to a fight. When she won, it declared itself a member of her pack...so I guess, more like a companion?"
"That's really cool, though," said Aria. "What's his name?"
"Oh, we...haven't really given him a name. I guess that's technically Zack's prerogative," she said, scratching her head. "But I'm not really even sure he'd respond to it if we did. Oh, there it is!"

The so-called mental training house had a very plain sign hanging up above what appeared to be the entrance to a random home. Aria looked from it back to her guide and then shrugged, walking up and knocking on the door.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The "Best" RPG Ever-26

Just a quick note that I forgot to update the writing status for a while but now it should be up-to-date again.

Zack's tail-fur was so long and thick that by the time he was finished cleaning only it, everyone else was finished, riduculous hair and/or fur of their own included. He just listened to the others talking about all the things they wanted to have in the new house and quietly suppressed a full smile. It felt like...no matter who they all had been before, the four of them were friends now. He certainly felt that way, at least, and liked seeing them happy, especially for whatever part in that he'd managed to have. He was less successful at preventing his tail from wagging a bit behind him, but nobody was watching him carefully enough to notice that.

Eventually Mika stretched her arms out and said, "Well, I think we'd better get out soon or we'll just prune up. Also I only rented this place for an hour and have no idea how long we've actually been here."
"No way it's been a whole hour yet," said Katherine, "even including changing clothes. Fair point on the first part though." She stood up first and headed back to her own changing room, and the others got up in turn, each carefully wrapping their towel back around on the other way up even though none of them was going to stare anyway.

Zack got out last, and resisted a mild urge to shake himself dry once he was out of the water. The dry towels in the changing room took care of most of him, but the hair and fur predictably refused to get dry. He wondered idly whether there was some magical equivalent of a hairdryer, especially since people having fur was common in this world, while putting his streetclothes back on. There wasn't anything like that here, though, so he'd just have to rely on the sun today.

He walked out of the bathhouse to find the wolf standing next to the door. "Oh...hi," he said, looking at it. It wagged its tail, walked up and sniffed at him.
"He wants to know if you fell in a lake," translated Katherine.
"No, I just cleaned up," said the knight, kneeling over slightly to be at eye-level with the animal. He put out a hand, palm-up, and it sniffed that briefly. "What, you don't ever clean yourself? How does your fur stay white?"
The wolf stared back with what he thought was a slightly confused look. "...He doesn't know," said Katherine, "It just always has. Magic?"
"I guess so." Zack stood back up and looked around at the others. "Well, far as I'm concerned we can just relax for the rest of today, maybe split up and plan on meeting up at the inn for supper later. I'm gonna look into buying that armor I saw the other day."

"Okay, see you guys later!" said Mika, getting out her broom and immediately flying off and up into the sky.
The remaining three shared a brief look and collective shrug. "You gonna be okay without a translator?" asked the catgirl.
"I think we understand each other pretty well." The wolf made a small growling noise in what seemed to be agreement, and followed him off down the street.

Katherine finally noticed that Zack's tail was wagging as she watched him leave, and allowed herself a slight inner chuckle. "So, what're you gonna do?" she turned to the elf to ask, "just out of curiosity."
Nora shrugged. "I'm..uh, consdering looking for a library. Maybe, um, finding a history book or something. It s-seems like at least one of us should know the lore of this, uh, world."
"Cool, cool. Mind if I tag along?"
"N-not at all."

Aria woke up fairly close to town, and flailed briefly before being accidentally dropped onto the ground. "Gah!" She popped back up and looked around, excitedly dusting herself off. "Uh.."
"You fainted after we killed the giant bird," said Rayna.
"Did you dream again?" asked Lynn.
"Um...no, I don't think so. Last thing I remember is..." She thought for a moment. "Yeah, running after the bird. Hey, you're new!" She had just now noticed Dr. Kellen.
"Yeah, this is Dr. Kellen. She's another player," said Lynn, "healed you right in the middle of the fight."
"Oh, so we got a healer then. That's good," she nodded.
"If you intend on being reckless and stupid your entire life I may not be willing to heal you," said the winged woman with crossed arms and a stern glare, even though she would never actually not give someone medical attention.
The entire posture she was faced with reminded her of a mother, not something she'd expected from this small newcomer. "W-well, I can't help it," said Aria, her head tilted slightly, "sword makes me crazy." She made a little twirling motion next to her head with her finger to emphasize.
"Insane and idiotic are two different things," she countered, to which the shapeshifter could only shrug.

"Aand, it looks like we're pretty close to town, too?" said Aria, turning around to face the walls.
"Yeah, we had to carry you here or we'd have been back for an hour by now," said Lynn.
"Hey, don't worry, there's still a couple of hours left," said her friend, grinning, before leading the way forward.
"Left for what?" said Dr. Kellen, who had somehow wound up at the back of the group.
"Lynn has a date with a nice town-guardsmen," said Aria.

"Oh. Hm."
"What?" said the archer, turning her head to look backwards. "I-it's not a big deal or anything, we're just having supper together."
"Apologies, I didn't mean to give the impression that I don't approve," said Dr. Kellen. "It's just occurred to me that I seem to be attracted to males also, now."
"Eheh, welcome to the club," said Aria. "I have no idea why whoever's put us here thought that was needed."
"Do you think a single being with intent responsible?" asked the half-avian curiously.
"Well, there's now four people here that basically the same stuff happened to. It looks less and less like a coincidence the more it happens."

While they walked into the town, Rayna looked to Dr. Kellen and said, "Hey, how good are you with directions?"
She appeared to consider the question carefully for several seconds before responding, "...Adequate."
"Well, maybe you should just stick with me for now. I'll show you where the inn we're staying at is, maybe show you around town a little 'till you get familiar with it?"
"That's very kind of you, thanks."
"These two've got other things to go to anyhow," she said, indicating the other half of the party. "Have fun on your date and/or meditation!"

"I don't think that's really the point—" started Aria.
At the same time, Lynn said "And/or?"
Rayna just shrugged and grinned at both of them. "Hey, you never know!"

Katherine stopped abruptly about halfway to the library. Nora stopped a couple of steps afterward and turned around to see what was going on. "Uhm.."
"I think I'm gonna have to take a rain check on the library for now. Something just came up."
"O-okay? S-see you later."
"Yep!" She ran off in a seemingly random direction, and the elf could only shrug to herself and continue onward.

Shortly thereafter, Aria paused at someone yelling "'Scuse me!" and turned to see the owner of the voice waving and running in her general direction: A catgirl in a t-shirt and shorts, with mildly damp hair.
"Uh, hi?"
"Yeah sorry, this is kind of a strange question but I have the power to read minds and right now yours just seems to be repeatedly chanting the word 'blood' in a very deep-throated voice?"
"...Oh. That's, just the demon sword," said Aria, putting a hand behind her head. "Long story, I pulled something out I probably should've left in."
She frowned, and the cat-ears sank to a horizontal position. "I think you could elaborate slightly on that."
"Okay, so someone sealed a big scary demon in a sword and then sealed the sword with a bunch of wards and curses and things. And here it is," she said, producing said sword, still sheathed. "It's tied to my mind and obsessed with eating blood, so that's the voice you're hearing. Why are you trying to read my mind, by the way?"

"I..I'm not reading your mind specifically, I just have a general sense of what people around me are thinking. I have to leave that on in case someone's about to jump me in the street or something."
"So you heard the demon talking and wanted to know what that was about," said Aria, putting her sword away again. "I guess curiosity killed the cat?" she added with her best imitation of a troll grin.
The catgirl's ears had steadily been going up until this point, and now flattened against her head. "Please don't."
"Aww, I didn't mean to actually offend you," she said. "Look, I can have cat ears too!" She shifted her ears to an imitation of Katherine's and flapped them up and down a couple of times.

"..How did you do that?"
"I'm a shapeshifter! I mean, a...you know, I actually forgot how to pronounce the word for it. My name's Aria by the way!" She jutted her arm out to offer a handshake.
"Oh, uh.." The catgirl took her hand and shook. "Katherine. Nice to meet you." They both had a firm grip but an overall delicate shake. Once their hands disengaged she added, "So does having an insane demon connected to your mind cause..problems..?"
"Yeah, all kinds, like you wouldn't believe. I got massive retrograde amnesia—but to be fair I think that was one of the wards—my dreams suck, and unsheathing the sword turns me into an insane murderous berserker, and even if I don't unsheathe it I can feel its hunger for blood like a massive craving for chocolate that never goes away. I was looking for a place to learn to meditate to help me deal with that second one."
Katherine headtilted slightly. "Your dreams, you say. I can actually visit the dreams of others while I'm asleep, you know."
"Are you suggesting we sleep together?" said Aria with another troll-grin.

"N-not like that!" The shifter giggled and Katherine realized a bit too late that she'd been aiming for this reaction. She forced her tail to unpuff itself and said, "Just, y'know, if we happen to sleep in the same building or something I might be able to take a look. You know where the Broken Dragon Inn is?"
She nodded, "Of course, I was there last night. Me and some of my friends got a sweet gig from the guard after we did them some favors."
"Well, good. I'm planning to sleep there tonight anyway if you're interested."
"Yeah, that could be cool. For now I still need to find someone to teach me meditation."
"Mind if I help you look?" offered Katherine, who had recently bought a skill that buffed her abilities for a while after meditating.
"Not at all. My sense of direction is teeeeerrible."

"Mmh, thanks for reminding me to go get our pay. Pretty sure Lynn just forgot as much as I did." Rayna lead the way out of the guardhouse.
"Of all the things one might forget to do, getting paid is hardly one I would expect."
"Yeah, but. I guess I'm still thinking of this like a game a little bit. There's typically a lot of instant gratification in games where you kill things...not always, but.."
"You're just overthinking it," said the winged girl, looking around. "I did not mean to provoke that. People overlook things they normally would consider essential all the time."
The foxgirl glanced around and then started toward the inn, deciding that was the best place to start with. "Oh, yeah...I guess it's really important you don't though, as a doctor?"
"I...try. It can be very difficult, but the stakes are too high to allow errors to creep in."

Rayna nodded. "Yeah, I...don't have any idea what that's like. Feels like we're from totally different worlds."
Suddenly an unusual woman with short blond hair and a lot of scales bounced in front of them. "Heey!"
Rayna took a quiet half-step back. "Um..hi. Can I help you?"
"Uh—um." Rose paused, realizing she'd just done something socially strange again. "I just uhhh, I thought your outfit was really cute!" she said, hesitating only briefly before bursting back into her usual overenergetic mode of speech.
"Well...thank you," said the illusionist, "you look pretty cute yourself." She felt the awkwardness of the situation at first but it seemed to just roll off of her.
"Eheh, thanks. I'm Rose, I'm a dragon!" She offered a handshake. "I mean, part dragon, orr, something like that." Rayna (who could see that the actual word was 'Draconian') took her hand gently and they both navigated carefully to avoid any injuries by her claws. "I'm sorry, I'm not really used to being around people..."

"Rayna. That's okay...you did just sorta jump at us out of the blue there though."
"I just, wanted to meet a few people in town before I head back home. I didn't even know there was a town here yesterday!"
"Where do you normally live?" asked Dr. Kellen.
"Oh, I live in my forest out to the east, but I'm not supposed to..tell anyone about it," Rose said, and immediately winced at herself.

"I hardly think the general direction is sufficient information to find it," said the winged girl, crossing her arms.
Not wanting to see this poor girl blurt out more specific directions, Rayna asked, "Why is it even a secret in the first place?"
"Oh, uh, the guard lady said she would keep people from going there who might trample or steal my plants and burn it and stuff." She tapped a clawed finger on her chin a couple of times. "I guess..it's really up to me if I wanna tell someone about it though, and you seem nice enough!"
"You met us two seconds ago," said Dr. Kellen, "and technically only her."
Rose jumped slightly. "Oh yeah! Sorry! What's your name?"

"..Clera." The winged girl wasn't entirely sure where the name had come from, but she hadn't wanted to use a male first name for fairly obvious reasons. "You do not have to apologize; I was just making the point that you probably don't know whether someone is trustworthy based on a single meeting."
"I guess that's true. You're really smart!" she said excitedly.
Dr. Kellen raised an eyebrow in Rayna's general direction, hoping she would take back control of this conversation.

"So, do you want to know where I got my outfit from?" offered the foxgirl. "I'm sure they make one that can fit your, uh, wings."
"Yeah, they make clothes to fit all kinds of stuff! I was surprised. But um, I'm kinda mostly out of money right now so I couldn't buy it anyway, I just really wanted to talk with you and thought starting with a compliment would be good, which doesn't mean I don't think it but you know I probably could have come up with a better way to introduce myself than getting in your personal space and saying something that might be kinda awkward from a random stranger I guess? I'm really sorry about that."
Clera was holding her forehead as if a headache was coming on. "You could stand to take a breath every now and then," she half-muttered.
The foxgirl was a little more diplomatic: "You said you were going back to your forest?"

"Uh-huh!" she nodded.
"Well, it's.." Rayna half-looked up toward the sky to read off the time, "it's a little into the afternoon, depending on how far off it is you might want to head out soon to get there by nightfall, right?"
"Oh, uh, yeah. I mean, I don't really have to worry about it getting dark because I can beat up any monsters that try to mess with me anyway but...I guess you're saying that because you have somewhere you want to be." She scuffed a clawed foot against the ground briefly and said, "Err, I'll get out of your way," before turning to leave.

Clera regretted stopping the dragon-girl before she had even done it, but couldn't restrain herself. "...How long of a journey is it, exactly?"
"Oh, uh, it's not too far. We left after sunrise and got here a little after lunchtime I think." It seemed like whatever sadness had been in her voice a moment ago was entirely forgotten.
"We?" asked Rayna curiously.
"I had some guests in my forest last night, and they showed me the way here," said Rose. "Well, um, actually I had some uninvited guests and one of those guys kidnapped one of them and the others came to rescue her but she already rescued herself by blowing up the bad guys with fire, and I came along here because they needed help carrying the bad guys here to get arrested and stuff."
"So, another adventuring party," the illusionist nodded. It finally dawned on her just how high Rose's combat-important stats were...coupled with the fact she'd casually talked about beating up monsters like the ones their little party had run into, alone, like it was nothing.

"Look, we're not really doing anything important. I was just gonna show Clera here around town." She made a small gesture in the winged girl's direction while producing a small illusion of her own voice in Dr. Kellen's ear. "If you want to stay in town tonight to make sure you're not too sleepy tomorrow, maybe you have enough to stay at an inn? They're very reasonable."
"Oh, sure, probably I think," she nodded.
The illusion said: "Rose is a crazy powerful fighter and if we're friends with her she might help us fight a monster every once in a while." Clera glared at Rayna briefly, but not for the reason the foxgirl might have thought, before turning a much kinder-looking face on Rose.
"You might as well join the tour, then. We were going to start with an inn anyway."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Adventure: The Witch's Friend (update 11.5)

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 11.5-1 new piece with an image. Also I forgot to say what needed suggestions down below and fixed that for this update.
Update 11-5 new pieces; admittedly mostly things I wrote a while ago and held back on publishing for one reason or another.
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:
-New pages that have 0 suggestions:  Trio,  Resistant, Help Out, Practice.
-Other pages I'd really like to see more/different suggestions for: Dark, Energy, Fish Stew, Actually Fit
As always, pretty much any new suggestions are welcome, but I am very interested in adding more "depth" to the graph representing the branching storylines if possible (that is, moving them farther forward as opposed to adding more splits).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The "Best" RPG Ever-25

Zack made himself pause in front of the mirror before going out to the bath. After all, the others were going to see the girl there with nothing but a towel awkwardly hung around her, so he had to get used to the idea, too.

The towel was large enough to cover from the shoulders down to the knees, but he still felt very exposed. The girl's expression reflected this: A visible blush; a kind of shy, not quite fearful look..ears about halfway between being up and folded flat against her head. He hadn't even noticed before looking that his tail was mostly between his legs, curled partway up but not enough to push at the towel. He took a deep breath, watching the breasts underneath the bit of white cloth go up and down slightly, and then turned around and left for the bath.

This bathhouse was run a little strangely, at least to someone like Zack from Earth where bathhouses usually just had one huge pool for each sex, and the only other option were normal bathrooms that usually fit exactly one person. Instead there were a lot of smaller areas, each of which had a number of changing rooms attached to a single room with a small, heated pool. Maybe it was more like a spa or something.

Somehow, despite how long taking off his armor and clothes had felt, Mika was the only person already here. She had a neon pink towel on and waved at him from an underwater bench. "Hey! C'mon, the water's fine!"
"Yeah, sure." He shuffled over as quickly as he dared in an effort to be sitting down before anyone else could see him from the back in this, and eventually took a couple of careful steps down into the pool, sitting across from the witch.

The water was...actually very nice. It was warm enough to be comfortable without being too hot, and just getting up to his neck in it seemed to cause his body to relax. He rolled his shoulders slowly, having a hard time believing how physically tense he'd been a moment ago.
Mika nodded at him. "Yeah, see? Isn't this better?" He blinked a couple of times before realizing he'd actually let out a small sigh.
"I-I guess so." There was some heat in his cheeks and he looked off to one side, hoping the others would just come in already.

Nora showed up next, her hair out of the gigantic ponytail it was usually in and falling all the way to her knees. "Um..I h-had some trouble with my hair," she muttered, walking up to one of the empty seats and lowering herself into it. "I've n-never really had long hair before, s-so I didn't really know how to undo the uh..thing."
"Well, welcome to the club," said the witch. "I'll help you put it back up after if you want. How d'you like the water?"
"It's nice," said the elf girl, smiling a bit. "I d-don't feel like I've relaxed at all s-since...coming here."
"I know, right? Hey, do you know how much bank we've made from just a few quests? We could take a whole week off and prolly be fine." When she noticed the wolf-girl glaring at her she said, "I mean, not that I'm suggesting we do that, y'know."

Finally, the psion showed up. She was using her powers to hold up the towel rather than her hands, and seemed slightly nervous walking up to the bath. "What took you so long?" said Zack.
"W-well, uh, to be honest I feel like I won't actually like being in water," she said. "I mean, l-like, I'm a little nervous about it.."
"Well, are ya gonna lick yourself clean?" said Mika.
Katherine made a face. "Ew, no, that's disgusting."
"Then get in here already. Just remember you lost a bet."
"Okay, s-sure." The catgirl slowly put one foot into the water and then the other, shook slightly while sitting down, and then finally gave a slight sigh of relief once she was stable.

"Phew...Okay, this isn't bad at all. I don't know why I was so worried."
"Cat thing?" suggested Zack. "You have been eating a lot of fish lately."
"It's not a cat thing," she said, her ears down in annoyance, "It's just...I-I don't know, okay?"
He shrugged, and a moment of silence followed as the four of them just soaked in the warm waters.

"Welllll.." said Mika, "I got some shampoo and brushes!" She pulled out two of each from the floor behind her and offered them to the animal-girls first. "C'mon, your fur's not gonna clean itself!"
They looked at each other and shrugged before taking the offered implements. Mika then offered just some shampoo to Nora before turning attention to her own ridiculous locks.

They were quiet for a moment. The ones with fur had to decide where to actually start the process of cleaning. Zack chose his tail, since it seemed to have the most hair out of all of him even including the head-hair, and besides that required the effort of pulling and holding it in front of himself, which seemed best to get out of the way first. Katherine just started at the top as a person without fur would and included the ears in that. Her tail wouldn't be that big a deal anyway; its fur was relatively short albeit thick.

Before long, Mika started to find the silence boring and decided to provoke some more conversation. "Does being part cat bother you?"
Katherine paused, thinking. "Well, I just...don't like the idea of being seen as a cat person first. What people should see when they see me is a powerful esper who can explode their heads in if they mess with me. Metaphorically and physically." She paused another moment, running the brush over her ears. "Actually I think I like being—well, like this—a lot. I'm fast, flexible, I have a terrific sense of balance. I'm used to being physically awkward, like, I couldn't even keep myself from falling over if I had to stand up on a bus, so this is a pretty nice change to experience. I look great, too, y'know, even if it is as a girl."
"Mm-hm." Mika nodded. "I play a lot of MMO's, and I always go with a girl character first, or main a female-only class, that kinda thing? I'll admit I just like being able to look at the cute girl character models a lot of the time, but it's also kinda interesting seeing people treat me differently just 'cause they think I'm a girl, which I don't tell 'em any different. I guess, uh, actually being one is more than a few steps past that. But I don't really care that much how I look, so it doesn't really bother me either?"
"Is that why you picked the witch class?" said the psion.
"Well, that and it promised ultimate power if I work for it a bit, so that's pretty cool."

The witch glanced over at the weaver. "Hey Nora, what about you?"
"Uh, w-what about me?"
She shrugged. "You don't talk much. Do you like, uuh, what's happened to you here?"
Nora stared into space for several seconds, giving the question some serious thought. "Honestly...I-I think I do."
Zack looked up to frown at her. "Why? You can't even wear normal clothes."
"W-well, yes..but..." She cocked her head slightly to the side. "I mean, th-that bothered me at first, but I hardly even th-think about it now. Besides..."
She paused and sighed slightly. "I..I've always had a c-c-condition, that made my bones more b-brittle and eas-easier to break than most people. I a-actually had a broken leg when I first appeared in th-the weird white room place. It seems like whatever it is that ch-changed us, healed that and even f-fixed the larger problem. Even if I'm n-not that resilient, I'm st-still nowhere near as fragile as I was."

Zack still looked bothered by something, but not specifically the elf. "What?" said Mika, "You don't have anything you like about your body now?"
"Well, I do, I mean I like being strong and having magic powers and sword skills, but it's not worth the price. But that's not what...
"Don't any of you find it weird just how, comfortable, you are looking like that? I mean—even if you say you don't care that much about whether you're male or female, you spent most of your life getting used to a different body. Even if there are things you like about it, it shouldn't feel this...natural...walking around in skin that's not your own. Sometimes..." He took a deep breath, and pointed emphatically to what he was still busy cleaning. "Sometimes I feel like I was born with a tail coming out of my back. It shouldn't..how much of us was actually changed?"
"Hmm," Katherine said. "Well, it's probably not the answer you're looking for, but a grown man isn't born a grown man either. You grow up from being a small child and eventually you feel like you've been grown up your whole life, even though you haven't. Growing up is at least as drastic as the changes that've happened to us, even if it is less sudden."

While he was still processing that, the elf chimed in. "Y-you remember...how you r-responded when I asked you whether your m-mind had been rewritten to match your class?"
"I th-think, it's something like that. A-at least for me, I don't..well, a-actually I know of one th-thing that has changed, what might be m-mentally? I've, a-actually never had a sp-speech, stutter before picking a cl-class.
"...But I know, I f-feel like that's the only thing that got really changed. I-I mean, I d-don't feel like the way I act or th-think now is in-inconsistent with who I r-remember being before. S-so, you mentioned you're good with a s-sword now and weren't before. Y-you know that that's a difference. S-sword skills are at least pa-partially in the mind, so you know that your mind w-was changed in that way. So you'd kn-know if it was changed in any other way, t-too, unless..."
Zack shook his head. "I can't consider that a possibility. So I guess you're right."

There was another pause with just the sounds of moving water and brushing. Mika again was the one to break it, this time with a "Hey, if we're done with that, do you wanna talk about the house?"
"I guess we'd better," said Zack. "What do you all think?"
"I think it means we'd have to make our own meals, which isn't too bad. I know how to cook," said Katherine.
"A-and, there was that part about defending it," added Nora. "B-but if I recall correctly, we actually s-set up the demon summoning site to the e-east, which is the direction R-Rose's forest is in. S-so we're not that likely to even b-be attacked."
"Well, are you against it?" the witch asked the knight.
He sighed. "I...I really want to be. Staying in an inn feels like we're just here temporarily, until the game is over or whatever, and we can all go home. Owning a house is like giving up, saying we're okay with being stuck here forever. But...to be honest, I like the idea of having my own bedroom again. And that's all just, psychological baggage anyway, I need to get past it. Where we sleep won't affect whether or not we're stuck here."

"So in that case I guess we have a unanimous yes?" Mika looked around the bath. "So the other thing is, if they're actually building it for us I wonder if we can ask for some specific stuff to be there! Like, where the bathrooms are or for them to put in a comfy chair somewhere. Did guard lady even say if it was gonna be furnished or not?"
"She didn't mention that," said Zack. "I don't think we should ask for too much since this whole thing is kind of a favor anyway."
"Still, it'd be helpful to have something to answer back with if she does ask us what we'd like to have in the house," said the catgirl, who by now had started on her tail. "I'd love to have a little library room with some bookshelves and a couple of reading chairs. Maybe a practice dummy so I can keep working on my aim with the knives..."

"—and correct me if I am wrong—you're saying all three of you had essentially the same experience as I did."
Rayna shrugged. "More or less."
The winged woman thought for a moment. "But there were some specific differences. You could say that I appear to have been changed by the...ghost, let us call it, while you were changed by...some kind of smoke?"
"...And the one we're carrying by drawing that sword form the ground."
"Fun fact," cut in the archer, "this is the third time in a row our little group has collectively had to carry someone into town. The second time it was me, because an ogre cracked my ribs."

The Doctor thought about Lynn running around and shooting a bow a couple of minutes ago. "...How long ago was that?"
"Just yesterday. The healer set it and gave me a potion and I think it's pretty much gone."
"Nnrrgh...that is not how healing works, accelerated or not. Damaging the ribcage should—you ought at least to still be too sore to move unless you are so high on painkillers that your head is scraping the moon!"
"Look, I don't know what to tell you other than 'magic'. Didn't you just fly ten minutes ago?"
Dr. Kellen's wings semi-unconsciously stretched themselves, unfurling slightly and folding back up, while she considered the physical plausibility of a humanoid, even a relatively short one like herself, actually flying through the air. "...Fair point.

"...I think I lost the subject for a moment. What do you think the different specific modes of change mean? It could very well be some clue to why or how we're here in the first place."
"Well, they definitely have to do with our classes, I think," said the foxgirl. "I mean, definitely Aria, her class is all about the demonic sword. And my class is all about perception; the smoke went directly into my eyes. I'm not sure about Lynn or you, though. You said the ghost thing had wings?"
"Well, you also wound up with wings, but that's more...race, than class, I think."
"What do you mean, 'race'? My complexion changed somewhat, but I didn't.."
"Like, fantasy race?" said Lynn. "You know, orc, elf, hobbit?" Seeing a lack of recognition, she explained: "In a typical fantasy setting—like the one we're currently walking through—'races' of people are defined not by the color of their skin but by significant physiological differences, stuff like having pointy ears and immortality, or fuzzy parts, or wings."

"If you're interested," added Rayna, "illusionist-sight tells me your race right now is 'half-Avian'."
"Why half?" said Lynn, "What's the other half?"
"I don't know." After a pause, she said, "Hey, actually, I've seen some people with like harpy wing-arms in town, so maybe those are full avians?"
"Why would the offspring of two different kinds of people, each of which has only four appendages, have six?" asked the doctor.
"You know, and correct me if I'm wrong," said Lynn, "but I'm pretty sure just the genetics stuff of mixing someone who has feathers with someone who doesn't probably needs magic to work in the first place, so it just goes ahead and tacks on something else that doesn't make sense."
"Well, not medical sense at least," said her friend. "It makes a kind of sideways logical sense, though. You put together someone with wings and someone with arms and you get someone with wings and arms."
"It's quite disturbing to think of a force actively making things work the way a naive person thinks they should," said Dr. Kellen.

"Oh, uh...we should probably come up with some reason why you're with us," said Lynn. "Because we don't really want everyone in town to think you're crazy, and that's what'll happen if you talk about waking up in a white room and having your body changed by a menu box and a ghost."
Dr. Kellen shrugged. "Simple enough. I was flying toward the town when I was interrupted by the bird. You distracted it so that it did not hurt me, and out of a mixture of gratitude and self-defense I helped you destroy it."
"Yeah, but this whole 'frontier' land we're in is apparently really well-known to be dangerous and full of monsters," said Rayna. "Why would you just be going alone?"
"Obviously I thought I would be safer in the skies than on the ground, enough to not require a companion."

Lynn and Rayna exchanged a look while shifting Aria off of Dr. Kellen's shoulders and onto theirs. "Do you, uh, want to stick with us once we get there?" said the archer. "I mean, we kind of assumed you'd want to join our party but there's no reason you really have to."
"I would rather remain with someone sharing the same plight," said the Empath. "Besides, at least for the moment I cannot imagine trying to comprehend this world on my own."
"It's surprising how fast it makes sense, though," said Rayna. "But...I guess you don't play a lot of video games?"
"None at all."
"Aah, that might make it more of an uphill battle. Can't speak for sleeping beauty here, but Lynn and I have been playin' games together for years, and a lot of stuff here is just kind of borrowed from those one way or another. I should probably start with explaining the skill tree and status menu stuff, then..."