by Hawl Enroygall a.k.a. Jessica Kylie Nichols-Vernon
Malisa Hassan looked in the mirror of her bedroom and saw the same face she had seen for nine of the worst years of her life, the only nine where it was HER life. It was a face that she truly despised, the face of the woman who murdered a handsome and diligent young prince named Matthew Hassan. “Everyone’s gotten over what Nasoj did to us, embraced it and made it a part of themselves, but not you.” she said to herself with a sigh. It was true, everyone embraced the curse and became a person that they embraced with a loving passion. Misha Brightleaf accepted his silly vulpine nature, her own adopted father Thomas Hassan used symbolism of the stallion in royal affairs and even enjoyed grazing, his advisor did the same with the symbol of the alligator, several of the knights who had become women had even started wearing iron plated skirts instead of leggings. It seemed like everyone had just completely embraced their new selves, but Malisa did not, would not, and most depressing for her could not. Malisa in too many ways still felt like Matthew, but he did not look like him anymore, have his respect, or even his power. No, day in, day out, Malisa barely grasped at Matthew, losing herself in her work trying to avoid anything related to her gender in the slightest. To make matters worse, the bright strapping young lad Matthew was applauded for his actions, Malisa did not get the same respect, all because she was doing the same actions as a princess instead of a prince. She did not even want the name Malisa, there was just too much political pressure to behave as a woman should, to be named as a woman should, she complied, but only so much. Sometimes she wished she was still a commoner, had she been a female commoner and not the prime minister, maybe she could get away with being a little more male than she looked.
Malisa was in her undergarments, male ones covering her sex and a bra covering her breasts. Only for support, she always wore male clothes whenever it could be done. It wasn’t enough that Nasoj took Matthew away from her, but he also had to make her absolutely stunning. Malisa unhooked her bra, as if she still did not believe what was under there, two big soft round breasts that she cupped, as if making sure for the umpteenth time that she was not stuck in a nightmare. There was nothing to say really, they were large, well rounded, perfectly shaped breasts bigger than those of her now deceased biological mother. Absolutely stunning, especially with her curvaceous figure and widened hips, and that was just the body. Her long raven hair that seemed to grow back too quickly and her adorable face with its perfect kissable lips. Any woman would kill to have a body like this, but it is no way for a man to look. “Beautiful, like a princess in a fairy tale....” she sighed to herself. “Why did I expect anything different?” as she remembered the day when most people, even herself just flat out accepted that they couldn’t undo the curse. It was even worse than the day she was cursed. Back then it was just a queer spell that gave her a questionable body that at first was like a novelty, something she laughed at. Metamor had the finest mages and the richest magical nexus, she’d be back to her manly self in no time, or so she thought as laughter turned into despair, especially when she found that people just did not see her the same way as they did that strapping young lad.
Malisa looked down at her male undergarments, the last article of clothing she was wearing. “You know what’s under there, you know what it is for, and you know how it feels to your touch.” The hapless princess slid them off, revealing to herself where babies come from. “...Okay.. this is your body, it has been for a long time, and it will likely be till death. This is what you are now.” Malisa chanted to herself as she breathed deeply, looking over her body. It was her morning ritual, to strip in front of a mirror and fully accept what she saw as herself, surprisingly there was some comfort in it. It took out any delusions that Malisa would be something other than a crossdressing princess. She was not a prince, she was not a man, and nothing could make her that way again, she had stopped this practice for awhile, but after the lunatic Hawl promised her manhood and could not deliver, she needed to continue and re-accept that this was truly herself.
The boy turned tomboy could not do this very long, she was built to be a perfect wife, a giant slap to the face to her old dream of starting a family one day as a father, a strong man of the household. “You’ve seen enough...” she said and redressed, still having Sargosa’s insistence for her to dress female on the brain. Briefly, by being a little girl’s fantasy for a troubled child, she saw at least one enjoyable thing about her curse, but the only. It was however quite the nice step in the right direction as Malisa, an expert at trying to bottle her own emotions, was overdue to speaking with the only person in her father’s staff that could give her some advice to finally try and put these bad feelings behind her. Someone who also used to be a man, would keep anything she said between herself and this person, and someone in the royal staff to minimize any rumors or signs of weakness.
Walking through the halls of the castle, Malisa thought about Pascal’s Lab as hard as she could to get there in the smallest amount of time as Kyia would bring her to that location with the power of her variable geometry. Finding the door in record time she knocked, this was probably a conversation to have much earlier, but it was better late than never. “Pascal, are you busy?” Malisa asked through the door.
Shortly after it flung open and the smiling multi-breasted rainbow zebra striped porcupine in her alchemist’s uniform curtseyed before her Duke’s only daughter. “Malisa! I haven’t seen you in my lab in a long time. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Pascal.... is your assistant here?” Malisa asked, a lump forming in her throat.
“No, I sent Xhyz out to the forest to pick up some fresh reagents. Why, did you need him for something?” Pascal asked, as she gestured for Malisa to come in. “I’ve made a fresh batch of tea if you want to come in to wait for him.”
Malisa walked in, looking at the floor, wanting to keep this bottled in. Many knew, but it wasn’t something she talked about often so much as tried her best to ignore by burying her face in chores. “I’d like to talk to alone, just you and me, something I want you to keep secret.”
“Aww Malisy, you’ve finally come around for some girl talk? Well that’s always fun!” Pascal cheered as she poured both her and her princess some tea. “Don’t worry, it’s not spiked with anything or gonna explode or anything like that.” The porcupine giggled as she sat down at a chair, Malisa doing the same.
“...I don’t like to talk about my curse a lot, quite frankly not a day goes by where the last portions of who I used to be, sealed within my heart...” Malisa put her hand to her chest and closed her eyes and she gathered her words. “...Cry out in agony, for a cure, for the chance to be Matthew again, and of course for Nasoj’s head on a platter!”
Pascal frowned, being filled with the rare emotion of disappointment, misunderstanding where her guest was going. “Your highness, you know that I can’t cure you. I couldn’t even cure myself if I wanted too. I’m very sorry. I can offer you some nice hair dye, or a morph ring, but nothing I have or can do is going to bring Matthew back.”
“I know, that’s not why I’m here. If I thought you could do that Pascal I’d pull every string I had to make you a princess yourself even for just one more day.” Malisa said. “You used to be a man too, I still remember what you were before you were the Mistress Of The Brew. You made your new sex something positive, it seems everyone does that with their curse, but all I can have is a curse. I can’t do anything to give a light to.... being Malisa.” The hapless princess gestured to her eye-catching, head turning body, though it was well hidden by her usual boyish garb. Malisa was very lucky to know spells for the refitting of clothing.
“Hmm, I remember him too, that Pascal was just the court alchemist.” Pascal remembered, thinking back to her previous body. “But that’s not who I am anymore, and I don’t want to be because it was fun to become something new, and this something new is rather fun.”
“That’s just it, there’s nothing fun about being a man’s heart trapped in the insultingly pretty guise of a woman. I don’t bond with anyone how I used too, I don’t have friends anymore, people can’t even respect that I’m a prime minister. Because I’m a “princess first” peh. I know my dad and I are still close, but not as much as when we were father and son.” Malisa was usually more calm than this, but here, with just Pascal she had a lot to let off her chest. “How is it that you don’t miss being a man yourself, you don’t regret that you’re not just a porcupine-man? I never got that about you, you have literally lost all of your manhood and with it a good degree of honor and you are in a sex that betrays all your natural drives, and you can just be okay with that?”
“But Malisa, that’s so easy. I’m not a man anymore, so I can enjoy the whole other side of life, I can see the good things about being a woman and I can’t go back. So I made the best of it and I found that there are so many things about being a she, that make me not even begin missing being a he.” Pascal cheered, smiling at her princess, hoping she could get her to understand. “Have you ever tried being a Princess? You might like it, I mean I guess I was a little upset that this was forever, but I wouldn’t get rid of any of the spells on me, so maybe if you give it a chance...” Pascal’s face perked up, as she thought of Malisa getting in touch with her feminine side.
“But how can I give it a shot, if my insides ache so painfully for Matthew?” Malisa asked, closing her eyes she felt the full force of this, all of that sorrow at once. Knowing how she should be aligned, in the darkness of her eyelids she saw him. The magnificent Prince Hassan of Metamor, standing tall and handsome, his eyes tempered by battle, his muscles expansive and sword holstered on his back as he stood triumphant, smiling at his father. “Yes father, our relations with Marigund are improving greatly, and even some cities in the Giantsdowns, I guess they don’t want any of this.” Dream Matthew reported as he flexed his well-toned buffage, for Jenn.
“Because you’re still holding onto him! You can’t pull him back to you, he’s too heavy!” Pascal objected, raising her voice at Malisa. It was rare for Pascal to be mad at another person, normally when she was upset it was because she was flustered with her own mistakes. People generally went out of their way to avoid upsetting the alchemist, the porcupine wasn’t sure if this was because of the curse making her look so flattering or if people just know better than to screw with an alchemist who can change their fur to have pretty pink bow patterns in it by spiking their ale.
“Matthew’s arms were bigger...” Malisa complained, her mind frozen on the fantasy of her old self. “I’m sorry Pascal... I’m wasting your time, there’s nothing you can do for me....” The Prime Minister said as she rose heading for the door.
Pascal ran up the princess, patting her on the shoulder. “No no, you’ve just had to restrain all this for so long, just lay on my couch..” the porcupine-woman comforted, understanding the need to work out difficult emotions. Pascal wasn’t sure why, but the essence of woman seemed to exaggerate the natural spice of life whether the flavor was enjoyed or not. Men do not partake in such spices, the broth is just too much. Thus the essence of man did not have this quality it just wouldn’t work. It was wonderful for the constantly playful Pascal, but Malisa needed to relax and let her spices cool off.
Malisa did come out to Pascal for her advice and she was going to take it. “Alright then...” Malisa agreed, as she marched her way towards a small red couch built comfortably for three and built of the finest quality. “There’s nothing about this couch I should know about is there? I don’t mean to sound rude, but you are known for...” The princess inquired, patting the couch on the part that looked cleanest.
“Oh no, that couch is for guests and customers, no booby traps and no personal fun. That’s in a more private part of my lab.” Pascal bit her finger for a second. “Hehehe, but that’s not what you’re here for.” the porcupine got one of her brews from a nearby cabinet and poured the right amount in the royal’s mouth who drank up trusting her judgment.
“What’s this?” Malisa asked, looking at the liquid Pascal had which although was a warm refreshing liquid, seemed to have the texture and appearance of ice. “Mmmm...” Malisa gave out a slightly delighted near-purr. “I feel like we can actually talk now..about anything...”
“It’s Warm Frost, it cools your worries to warm your focus. Why did you open up about this all of a sudden?” Pascal asked, taking a glug herself. “Try to work with the formula, not against it. Let your worries be frozen for now, even if they can’t be cured, we’re just freezing them for now.”
Malisa smiled, letting it just happen as Pascal said, her concerns put on hold as she gathered her thoughts on a more clear talk about the events. “Well, I’ve always tried to hold onto the rest of my masculinity. I look up to my father and take pride in my role as a defender and provider for the people of Metamor Keep. It’s very often I wish I could have been a stallion like him.” the princess burst into laughter focusing on pleasant thought. “I often have this dream where we’re both wild stallions, and we graze together and race together. It’s my favorite! What happened recently just threw me for a loop.”
Pascal spun around and grinned, almost forgetting how energetic the formula made her. No longer could the spiky rodent sit still, yet despite her beginning to dance around in her room to an invisible band she was still completely focused on Malisa. “What did happen recently?”
Malisa gave out a small cry of pleasure. “My head hasn’t felt this good in so long. It’s like my head is completely empty and I love it! Oh Pascal how long have you had such a wonderful formula... oh right, your question. Sorry, but... woah, my head. It’s like my thoughts are going at a much higher speed than I thought was possible and yet I can keep up better than the normal speed.”
“Yes your highness, that’s the magic of the potion! But, what happened?” Pascal asked again, not getting frustrated with Malisa. She could feel what her highness was feeling, she understood perfectly.
“Oh, right. Well, a raccoon child requested to spend some time in my company, a humble request in addition to an interesting one. And once we did she started berating me for not acting like a real princess. From an adult I would have just been given the ultimate insult, but how can I deny the wish of a child, and this one had just seen her auntie die.” Malisa said, Pascal nodding with a deep interest. “So I got out that girly dress sent from Wales, put it on and somehow. Just by pretending to be a true princess for a little girl’s fantasies made me feel something click about being Malisa, yet I have no idea if I liked it or not. Yet I know that I won’t be happy again unless I became Matthew once more, so how could I be happy about anything? I won’t be anything of the real me if I accept being a princess. Then all the things about being a woman making me weaker come true.”
“You had a moment of guilty pleasure, it doesn’t have to mean anything. There’s nothing wrong with a little guilty pleasure every now and then.” Pascal explained with a release of relief. “You’ve just been working too hard, when was the last time you took a second off from your constant workload?”
“When Jenn and I were together.” Malisa answered, focusing on less stressful days, the days when she was able to date a wonderful maiden. The curse had been a perfect excuse for two women to be able to share themselves with one another without anyone taking too much of an issue. It wasn’t that it was completely acceptable, but people didn’t shudder as much at the sight as the curse was forcing others into similar situations. “The time we spent together was glorious. We couldn't be legally, though many denizens of the Keep who saw us together believed we were actually going to be wed. That's how close we were. Jenn didn’t miss the old her, like I miss the old me so I was her man and she was my woman. I haven’t even gone to visit her since we were broken up by Lightbringer Raven amd Father Hough’s insistence that we were performing a grand misdeed. I don’t even understand how, can the gods not see the masculinity of my soul?”
“Well here’s your problem Malisa, you need to lighten up and just let yourself cut loose a little.” Pascal began petting Malisa’s hair like she was some kind of dog. “You’re burning yourself out and it’s making you go bonkers.”
“That’s the ultimate irony of it isn’t it Pascal?” Malisa spoke sadly, latching onto her reluctance source. “If I do that I give up all the hardwork I’ve been putting forth to be taken seriously again. To be treated like I was when I was a Prince, but no one’s going to be honored by one such as myself save for perhaps my appearance at a few royal events and holiday ceremonies.”
Almost immediately, Xhyz came into the room with a couple of satchels of ingredients, some bought and some picked from Metamor Valley. “I’m back mistress, with everything you asked... oh my...” Xhyz gasped, putting Pascal’s reagents on a nearby title and inspite of this never took his eyes off of Princess Malisa, eyes that were wide and aglow with amazement.
“Xhyz, me and Malisa are having a girl-time, maybe you could give us a few seconds.” Pascal insisted as she opened the bags to look through Xhyz’ finds. “Nice work, I’ll send for you when we’re done.”
“Alright, but first...” Xhyz’s grin could not be any wider as he fell upon one knee. “Prince Matthew, it is an honor to meet such a great man who has given so much for our Kingdom of Metamor. If there is anything that I can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask.”
Malisa stared at Xhyz for a second with a look on her face as though she had been given a grievous insult, in actuality she was more confused. “Are you making fun of me?” Malisa demanded to know, wondering if someone actually had the gall to insult her to her face.
“Not at all Brother Two-Spirit, I’ve heard about you in my month here and I find it incredibly honorable that you would offer yourself so fully to the well-being of your allies.” Xhyz assured, still kneeling. “There have been several chiefs of various tribes who take leadership roles under a great plight at great personal sacrifice and pain to themselves and for no other reward other than helping their people when they needed them. They have been considered the greatest leaders of my land, their spirits are highly revered for this.”
“Fan Shoar sounds like a place of high values.” Malisa stated, not knowing much about Fan Shoar herself to comment much on it. “And you have some of the best manners I’ve seen in years. Rise Xhyz, you do me more honor than I am worth.” Malisa said, being humble and sincere, this was something she had needed to hear for quite some time and with it being told to her she found some strength which when added with the remaining effects of Pascal’s formula she could continue for one more day. “Pascal, I think we’re out of time anyway. Today’s going to be far busier than yesterday, especially with news of Hawl’s escape.” Malisa said as she went to continue with her daily work, satisfied that at least one person understood.
Pascal curtseyed and Xhyz bowed one more time. “Come back whenever you like, we’re both friendly to our Prince.” Pascal cheered, deciding to use the word prince from Malisa’s positive reaction to it.
Xhyz received a big hug from his mistress, his face smooshed into the open part of her lab outfit, the red panda having gotten used to this from his time with Pascal Q. Porcupine. “Well, he seemed nice. So, what are we working on today?”
“Hehehe.. that’s why your grocery list was so big, today I want you to make a potion based only on what your instincts tell you. A good alchemist always thinks on his or her hindpaws.” Pascal tasked Xhyz as she presented an empty cauldron to her assistant, taking him out of the hug. “No books, no outside help and you’ll be tasting it yourself.”
Xhyz seemed a little worried about this, tugging on the collar of his shirt. “Mistress, you have taught me well, but what if I make a poison?”
Pascal grinned “You’ve been my apprentice for a few weeks now, if you accidentally poison yourself in this little exam you aren’t a worthy student, besides we have an infirmary... In Metamor Keep, some distance away from my tower.” Xhyz looked a little scared of this test, but she did say this wouldn’t be easy. Pascal patted Xhyz on the back with a laugh. “Don’t worry, like I said, I have faith in you.”
Malisa was asleep in her room as she was every night. Dressed in masculine undergarments and a shirt fitted for males as she dreamed her wonderful little recurring dream of two stallions grazing and running together. No words could be shared between the two, and no words needed to be. Father and son were galloping together in enjoyment of their company. This continued until it was suddenly abruptly ended by Matthew The Stallion, Grey, similar to his dad’s black fur, ended up turning into his, no, her human self. Malisa looked around confused, the dream suddenly becoming almost entirely lucid as the air turned cold and walls built up around her sealing her in what looked like some kind of church. “What sorcery is this? How am I awake in my dream. I am trapped by the hand of another. Whoever is controlling this show yourself!” Malisa demanded, unsheathing a sword she summoned from air taking the whole lucid dream thing to its advantage.
“Don’t worry my liege.” calmly spoke the voice of Xhyz, that red panda apprentice of Pascal’s who spoke such kind words to her this morning. He stepped forward, wearing a thick green cloak that concealed all except for his muzzle. “I only want to help you, among my people I was a shaman. It was my job to heal the problems of the people in my tribe who suffer, and Metamor is my tribe now. So I have shown in your dream to comfort you.”
“This old temple you have sealed us in is of no comfort, but if you seek to heal me better mages have tried.” Malisa promised Xhyz, not wanting him to act in vain. “I am curious of this power you have demonstrated, you have walked into my dream with no effort. How are you doing this?
Xhyz answered Malisa with no hint of menace or horror in his voice, instead he was trying to be as comforting as he could be. “There are many magics that are known to Fan Shoar that Galendor has no record of, and vice versa, that is part of why I traveled to learn from Metamor. I don’t have any spell to undo what Nasoj has done, but I can grant you the knowledge that I know what you are going through. I know how it feels to be in the female sex, it’s not an experience that everyone is able to handle.”
Malisa doubted Xhyz “How could you know what it feels like to be....” she was about to say before a mural of Xhyz as a female of his species appeared on the wall. In this mural she was standing over a broken bottle of pink liquids with Pascal pointing at the female Xhyz in laughter.
“Pascal is a bit of a prankster, this was just two days ago. It wore off an hour later, but what an hour.” Xhyz reminded as he removed his cloak revealing himself to be a female under her garb. “I would take all of your curse from you, and have it myself to see you not suffer. If only I could.” Xhyz promised, her voice watching what her gender was shown to be.
Malisa looked down at herself, amazed and nearly tearing up. What the dreamer saw in place of her cursed woman’s body, was the male body he had before the Battle of Three Gates where he had been forever altered. “You... I.....” Matthew had no words, this is what he had always wanted, the return of his glorious masculinity, and in this dream where he felt awake it was like having his old body back. “...This won’t last will it? It’s too good for me to keep...” Matthew said biting his lip, wishing he would never wake. Not ever, he couldn’t face losing himself again.
“It’s only a dream my Prince.” Xhyz curtseyed, she had been wearing a small blue dress under her robe. Though her fur covered her naughty bits, it made it far easier to curtsey if she was wearing a dress. “A temporary gift to you, to show you that there is someone who cares, very temporary I’m afraid. I came too late into this dream, the sun will rise soon. But, please, feel better for me my prince.”
Matthew shook his head as he screamed out in pure terror. “Please, no, keep me comatose for a month. I can’t lose myself again!”
“Your kingdom needs you another day and the one you call Nocturna does not approve of the meddling I’ve done as it is. I just want you to know that I care...” Xhyz said with a smile. “Good morning Matthew.”
Malisa woke up, returned to the waking world where an unbreakable curse kept her in a maiden’s body and she still had no idea how to deal with it. Xhyz’s comments providing only a temporary relief and Pascal’s potion worn off. “...At least I’m not alone..” Malisa said to herself, trying to think of her visitor. The Princess got up to do her morning routine and dress herself, before she went through with this routine she turned back to her bed. Her soft, warm, comfortable bed, which now seemed even more tantalizing than the allure of five more minutes usually is. She could study the spells needed, she could go into an irreversible coma and dream her impossible desire for all eternity, never knowing her burden again. “....My people need me....” Malisa said, dismissing the thought immediately. “There are no excuses that will fly, a prime minister’s work is never done.. Not while blood runs in my veins and I draw breath... Not while my father’s Kingdom has anything that needs accomplishing.” Malisa gave a pep talk to psych herself up as she dressed herself, skipping her morning routine. There was no time to dwell on the past, the present was more important.