The morning light woke him once more. He got out of bed with a loud yawn and a long, comfortable stretch before he smacked his lips a few times and scratched an itch on his side. Such was the life here in Trenador-- boring. Except for today, of course. Today was his initiation.
The small village was his home, beautiful in itself being in the mountains… though the people here were really creepy at times with how fanatical they were about their God, Itmen. Itmen was the god of light; the keeper of truth and solace. His master was the most fanatical, eager for him to become a priest to take his place.
He wanted to be a priest. So far he had learned many priestly skills; healing, turning the undead, protection… but he also knew some wizardly spells, such as charming, illumination, and casting illusions. Most of his skills were useless in combat, but they could get him out if he needed.
He was a member of a cult… they were the Itmenites, named after their god. Itmen appeared to them in visions after ingesting powder from their homegrown plants. He never saw them growing in the wild, so he thought his master must have purchased them from the villages further south, planting them in his own garden and recycling their seeds each season.
The members of their cult were tattooed at birth, given red marks on their faces. His were like fangs, one on each cheek. Other members had different marks. They were a prediction of years to come… how the tattooed would behave… his future choices and exploits… they were tattooed on by the church orderlies after consorting with Itmen. (These predictions didn’t usually come true, but they practiced this tradition out of, well, tradition.)
His given name was Kiba and His level was ‘unenlightened’, awaiting initiation. Because of the magical skills he currently had, Kiba he felt he was a shoo-in for the church. Those who weren’t initiated were sent to meditate until they were enlightened enough to be so. Usually they never became enlightened enough to be a high level, but it wasn’t uncommon enough that there were no church members. The church had his master, who was the priest, the priest’s subordinates, who helped run the church, and of course all of the attendees, who were everyone in the village.
The village itself was relatively small. Not many people knew about it. It was barely big enough to call a settlement… There was the church, fifteen houses, one small farm, a well, and one square where there were occasional festivals to celebrate the light. The church looked like it had been there a long time, abandoned years ago. They had built it back up from ruins, whoever ‘they’ were. Master claimed it was Itmen’s people, and they were descended from them. Kiba didn’t argue. He didn’t know a lot about his own village. All he knew was that it was in the middle of the mountains on the fringe of the Giantdowns.
Kiba had long brown hair, but he planned to shave it off when he became a priest. It would be worth it for such a high stature. His eyes were a brilliant green that his parents were proud of. The Priest said they were from Itmen himself, the way they glow when he smiles. (They don’t really glow, mind you. It’s a figure of speech.) He was five feet and ten inches tall with slender build; not very athletic, but competent.
Kiba was currently in his teen years, on his way to becoming an adult. Or at least that’s how he thought of himself. By the village’s stature, he was already an adult at 18 years old. Kiba still felt like he had a bit of growing to do before he was actually a grownup. Not that he was childish or anything… He just didn’t feel like a full adult yet. Everyone else was always telling him that those years were behind him. Already? Nah… they didn’t have to know that, though. He pretended to be a man for them when they were around… for their sake.
“Today’s the day.” He smiles, standing up and shuffling across the room to his wardrobe. He pulls from it his robes. They were solid blue with a cloth belt; also blue. Kiba put on his pendant, meant for keeping away evil, over the top of them. It was a simple crystal disk with black ink in a complex design beneath the crystal. The ribbon for holding it around his neck was blue as well.
Kiba exited his small hut without eating breakfast. He didn’t know how rough the initiation ritual would be… it might be a better idea not to eat. He trudged up the hill to where the church stood, its tall gray bricks illuminated from the golden sunrise, and rang the doorbell.
“Dingalingalingalingaliiiiiiing!” He cried out as he rang it, laughing. “Hahaha, Master, are you awake!?” He called out. “I, Kiba, wait to be let in!”
The door opened abruptly. “Who goes--!? Oh, it’s you! As early as Itmen’s glory, as usual!” Itmen’s glory, as Master liked to call it, was the sun.
Master was a tall, frail man, nearing the end of his years. He expected Kiba to be the next priest after him because of his advanced abilities. He had a circle tattooed onto his forehead with six lines radiating outward from it at even intervals, symbolic of the sun.
“Yes! I’m ready for my initiation, Master. I want to be the next priest!”
“Patience, patience, Kiba. You can’t rush these things, you know. Come in. Have a seat. There are some things I’d like to discuss with you.”
Kiba stepped over the threshold to the church, entering the smoke-filled cathedral. The scent of incense was thick in the air almost to the point you could pierce it with an arrow. Master lead Kiba to the back room where there was a long table filled with food. Lucky, since Kiba had just been second guessing his choice to skip out on breakfast.
“My boy…” Master began as they begin to have breakfast together. “Times are tough for us at Trenador. Your initiation will not be easy.”
Kiba nodded, taking a bite of bread and downing it with grape juice. “I’m aware of that, Master. I did not expect you to simply hand out initiation to me like a charity.”
“It may be a little more than you have bargained for regardless.”
“What do you mean, Master?”
“You see, Kiba… there comes a time in every man’s life to start a new path… be the first to do something new.”
“What are you getting at?” Kiba asked, feeling completely out of some loop he must have missed.
Master sighed and stood up, folding his hands behind his back. His white robes sweep the ground as he began to pace.
“Your initiation will be the first of its kind, Unenlightened one. You will be the first to attempt the feat I am about to assign you. There will be many more after you, and you will remain a hero for your efforts. But please, don’t take this the wrong way, my pupil. I would never burden you with more than I was sure you were capable of.”
Kiba felt his heart sink slightly. So he was being given an even tougher challenge than he had originally thought. Oh well. That wouldn’t stop him from becoming a priest!
“I’m sure you’re up to what I have in store for you, Kiba.” He sat back down on the other side of the table with a groan, as his old bones were weak.
“You’ll be going southeast. I’ve been there myself a few times before you were born. You’ll know the way by a trail I have set out for you. A series of signposts are waiting to lead you to a campsite I have constructed under the guidance of Itmen. You are to stay there for a fortnight, eating only what I have provided you, which is one of the reasons I have set this meal out today, because it won’t be much.”
“I… see. I understand. The isolation… it’s a test of mind, isn’t it?”
Master gave a curt nod. “Very much so. Youwill be alone, and there will be danger. One particular danger. Metamor Valley’s curse. The curse that resides around the Keep of the same name. The effects of which are too abominable to utter aloud in this holy building. Know that you will be safe from it. Itmen’s light will shield you from succumbing to its horrors.”
“Then… why must I expose myself if I know my god will protect me?”
“That is the very reason why, Kiba! To put your life into the hands of Itmen. Let him know that you trust him to keep you safe from even the most powerful curse!”
Kiba thinks hard for a moment. “So… it really won’t be all that hard, will it? I’ll be able to try the plants that summon Itmen, won’t I?” Every initiation ritual involved those plants. It was the first time any new priest or subordinate was allowed to try them. Non-members of the church were forbidden from even touching them.
“Indeed. You’ll find some at the camp. But now I must outfit you for your journey.”
“I thought my robes were what you wanted me to wear, Master.” Said Kiba, confused.
“Oh, I wasn’t talking about your wardrobe, Kiba. Come.” With a small grunt, he sat up again and led Kiba to a bookshelf.
“This is my workshop, Kiba. Where I consort with Itmen and use his Glory’s light to accomplish many otherwise impossible tasks.” He stepped on a loose cobblestone next to the bookshelf and it slid to the side with a loud screeching noise that grated on Kiba’s ears. Behind it was a portal to a long hallway leading into the ground. So he had secrets…
“Come! I’ll lead the way.” Master took a torch from a sconce just inside the door and put it next to one of the candles that were on the table. A few moments later it ignited, casting an orange glow on the leftovers of the table.
“Now let’s go.” He proceeded down the tunnel, holding the torch high above his head. The torch lit several feet ahead of him to let him see his way.
Kiba cautiously followed his master down the tunnel, making sure to watch his step. He wondered what kind of dark secrets Master must have to have to hide it behind such a guarded disguise.
When the two finally reached the end of the tunnel, Master placed the torch in an empty sconce on the inside wall of the room, illuminating a small workshop. There was a table in the middle with several contraptions. There was a pile of small lead balls, sawdust, and some very strange glass disks that were thicker in the middle than they were on the edges. Everything looked bigger when Kiba looked through them.
Against the wall under a window was another table. Light poured through the window generously. Apparently the ground had sloped downward with them, because the roof was only a foot above the earth. Support beams held it up at even intervals along the walls. Kiba figured they must be somewhere just outside the village.
On the table that Kiba had just been looking at were what appeared to be steel clamps that looked like they belonged in a smithy. There were more of those strange magnifying disks on this table, too. Master was currently rummaging through a tall closet on the other side of the room.
“Aha!” He exclaimed as he pulled out a short staff with an ornate ball on the end made of crystal. It was protected by a wooden cage swirling around and meeting at the top, where there was a golden sun embedded, holding it all together. The staff itself was slightly knobbed in some places, but the effect made it look graceful rather than old.
“This, my boy, is for you. It’s meant for channeling your powers. The crystal at the top, here, will slightly intensify any Lyte you ever wish to use. Not by much, but it still makes a difference after time.”
Lyte was the power that Itmenites used. It was the natural energy flowing through the air. It had a different flavor than that of magic because instead of coming from spirits and one’s own soul, it came from the environment… more particularly from Itmen’s Glory and the Glory’s children. It was a difficult thing to learn to use, and it was their secret. Kiba was a Lytemage, a user of Lyte. When the Glory wasn’t in the sky and there was no fire, they could use magic, but they preferred to use their god’s gift.
Kiba took the staff and stared at it with wide eyes. His own staff! It was beautiful… he ran his hand down the side, feeling the wood. It was lightweight but very strong. It was too short for him to use as a proper staff, being three feet long, but that wasn’t a problem. It made it easier to wield and aim it at opposing enemies… though he hoped he wouldn’t have to fight anyone any time soon. As mentioned earlier… he wasn’t a fighter.
“I love it, Master!” Kiba exclaimed as he held it up to the light for a better look at its beauty.
“I need it back, Kiba. Itmen still must bless it.”
Kiba handed the staff back to Master, disappointed to have it out of his hands. Master put it in the smithy clamps and gently tightened them on it, setting up the magnifying disks above it. As the light passed through the disks it refracted and hit the staff at a point, concentrating directly on its wood.
“Itmen is gazing upon your instrument, my student. Let him take his time.” He gestures to a chair in the corner of the room. “Wait there and I shall call you when it is ready.”
Kiba went to the chair, the wood creaking in protest as he sat down on it. He put his hands on his knees, bouncing them a little and drumming his fingertips. It was hard to wait when his initiation journey was so close. Eventually his mind began to wander to what it would be like being a priest. He saw himself standing in front of all the people of Trenador, preaching of Itmen’s power and grace. He would heal and bless all of his neighbors… everyone would look up to him. Even Itmen himself wou-
“It’s ready!” Master’s voice cut into his thoughts of grandeur. He shook his head to clear them away and looked to where Master was standing, the staff in his hands. He saw a thin wisp of smoke come off the staff and dissipate in the air.
“Come closer, Kiba.” He waved him over with his free hand.
Kiba got off the chair, making it groan loudly again as his weight shifted, and approached his master. He was handed the staff, which had been polished while he was daydreaming. How long had it been? It seemed like just a few hours. What caught his eye was what was written on… no, burned into… the staff itself.
His name… the staff really WAS his…
“Master... I cannot thank you enough!” Kiba exclaimed, smiling.
“Complete your initiation, that’s all I ask of you.”
“I will, Master! I will!” Kiba hugged the old man lightly, who chuckled and pat his back.
“There, there, my boy. You have to go now. May the power of Itmen guide you to enlightenment! But before you go, take this.” Master reached into his tunic and withdrew a small red velvet bag with a string tied around the top.
“This sacred powder will reverse any curses that befall you. If you fall victim to Metamor’s curse, ingest the contents of this bag. It will undo its evils and purify your spirit. But I give you this warning.” He pointed at the bag. “Do not, under ANY circumstances, use this if you do not need it! Promise me this!”
“I promise, Master.” Said Kiba, tucking the bag into his robes. He gives his teacher one last hug before departing,his mind full of questions. What could be in that bag that was so dangerous to use if he wasn’t afflicted with Metamor’s curse? What was Metamor Valley? Or Metamor Keep, for that matter? Kiba had never heard of any of it… he’d find out in time, he supposed.
The trail was long and difficult. Kiba panted and huffed in exhaustion as he climbed over a few fallen trees and through thick shrubs that snagged and pulled at his robes.
Ugh! Why couldn’t there have just been a road here!? He guessed it wouldn’t be as much of a challenge then, but still! The challenge wasn’t supposed to be getting there; it was supposed to be the desti- oh, wait. Kiba just realized he’d mentally violated an old saying his master had always taught him.
“It’s not about the destination, but the journey.” Kiba heard the words clearly as if they’d been spoken aloud. He pushed his way through a tangle of vines with his staff. If only he could cast a spell to make plants move out of his way. He knew there had to be some kind of spell that did that… he’d have to look into it when he got back to Trenador.
He rubbed the amulet around his neck, making sure it was still there. It would keep the curse away if Itmen couldn’t. It had kept him safe from all sorts of evils over the years. Kiba’s master had given it to him when he turned fifteen… when they said he had become a man. He still didn’t think that about himself.
Kiba wondered why Master had always called him Boy or Child even after then. He probably did it for sentimental reasons. It wasn’t easy to see children grow up sometimes. Children have been known to lose their charm. But not Kiba. His eyes helped with that. Maybe his eyes were what made Master call him Child? Possibly. They did ‘glow’ when he smiled. And he was smiling now, thinking about his family; his parents, who were always so kind to him, for which he was grateful. Kiba couldn’t wait to see them when he got back; to brag about how he survived Metamor’s curse because of his faithfulness.
Then there was that issue… he was to be the first one to do this. He would be a hero! But was it really so hard? It must be because they had to be out there alone for a fortnight. Kiba’s people were social… they liked to be with each other.
As he was thinking, he didn’t realize that he’d lost track of the time again. When Kiba looked up he found that he was nearing a tall gray wall, just bordering the forest; it towered over him at thirty feet tall and went on for what seemed like forever in both directions. Beyond the wall Kiba could just barely make out tall spires on the other side. At the base of this wall a camp was set up. There was a tent and a pile of wood in the middle. There was a crate of food there as well. This was the place.
Kiba sat down on a log that served as a bench, sighing. Well… this was it. Now it was time to- uh oh. What’s this? He felt his amulet growing warm against his chest. Seems there was indeed a curse here, and it was trying to infect him. Hahaha! Tough luck, evil curse! He was invulnerable to evil. Itmen was with him, and So was the Lyte. Speaking of which, it was getting dark. Kiba had been hiking all day and the Glory was beginning to rest. He decided to test his new staff out for the first time.
Kiba got off the log he was sitting on and went to the pile of wood in the middle of camp, rearranging the sticks and twigs into a small teepee shaped pile. After he was satisfied that the structure was sound, he picked up his staff and pointed it at the small pile. Kiba channeled what dwindling Lyte he had left into the crystal on the end and concentrated it. He saw it glowing with the Lyte … it was working! This was going to be tricky though, He wasn’t very good at manipulating fire… r the ‘children of Glory’, as Master liked to call it. Kiba just referred to it as fire. After all, he wasn’t as fanatical as the rest of them.
A small flare shot from the end of the staff, landing on the twigs. Soon it was ablaze and burning away on its own. Kiba sighed yet again, this time from weariness, resting his staff against the log on which he was sitting. He turned to a small bronze pot that was sitting at the base of the log, the contents he knew were the strange plant that summoned Itmen after it was burned, crushed, and consumed. He picked it up and lifted the lid… sure enough there it was. This was definitely his camp.
Kiba was suddenly distracted when his amulet began to grow even warmer. Not uncomfortably so, but just enough to remind him that he had to get out of the valley to escape the curse. Feh… as if. Kiba ignored it. Instead he set his attentions to the crate of food by the tent. He set the pot of plants down, replacing the cover, and lifted the lid from the box. There were jarred goods… slightly stale bread… fruits… some cheese… and a large, bloated waterskin. He noticed there were no meats. Good. Another sign that this was indeed his camp. Master knew he was vegetarian.
Kiba set to making a small meal for the night. He was famished after that long trek down here. He took some of his favorite foods and puts them on an earthenware plate he found in the crate, eating his supper alone.
“The stars are nice tonight.” He said to no one in particular, gazing at the sky. Kiba ate his meal in about thirty minutes, taking his time. He set his cleaned-off plate on the ground and turned to the lidded pot. He held it in his lap, running his fingers over the surface.
“Tomorrow morning, Itmen… tomorrow morning…”
He crawled into his tent after dousing the fire with sand from the ground and sat on the straw mat. The amulet had refused to cool, constantly warning him to get out. It was beginning to annoy him. The thing was supposed to keep him from being cursed. So why did it insist on warning him about curses? Self-conflicting design, that’s why. Kiba scoffed, wrapping it in a towel so he doesn’t have to feel it. He lies down on the mat and drifts off…
Kiba woke up the next morning early as usual, stretching and yawning per his routine. Wait… this wasn’t his house! This wa- oh, right, the initiation! He was camping out in a cursed area to prove to Itmen he trusted him. That didn’t stop him, however, from using his medallionand the active charm on it meant to deflect spells of dark intent. It was another day and he was hungry. He exited his tent, still wearing his robes from the previous night. They’d gotten dirty from the hike down, so he put a hand on them and channeled Lyte into them, banishing all the filth into a pile on the ground at his feet.
Kiba picked up his staff and gazes at the polished wood, his name burned into the shaft. His eye followed the twisty wood that flowed over the crystal at the top, holding it in place, and ending at a single golden Sun embedded into the wood. He ran his hand down the wood, admiring its beauty. A shame it was too short for Kiba to use properly… not that it mattered any. His master had given it to him just before he left, and he held it dear to him already.
After breakfast, he picked up the pot from beside the log, removing the lid. Inside were the plants… not that he expected otherwise.
He withdrew one of the plants.it looked like any other plant Kiba would find in the wild, save for its unusual sheen. It almost glowed in the light. He was going to try it. He put the bowl over the fire, waiting. As it heated up the plants began to crumble into a fine black powder. It smelled sweet, rather than smoky.
Using a long stick, Kiba took the pot off the fire and set it on the log. He waited for the ashes to cool, and then poured them into his hand.
“Well… this is it. Hello, Itmen!” He tilted his head back and downed the contents of his palm.
Two things happened at once. First, everything changed colors. Then he felt dizzy. It was indescribable, to say the least. He couldn’t tell which way was up! With a loud yelp he fell off the log backwards, dropping the pot.
“Guuuhh…. Whaaaazsh…” His mouth felt numb, like it was full of cotton. He laid on his back and staring at the swirling lights. He felt a surge of emotions. He felt joy for the most part, intermingled with sadness and an overall feeling of love. Love for what he didn’t know. The world…? Why did that emotion stick out from the others? Why did he care? Where were all these questions coming from!?
His mind was wandering again… he couldn’t stop it. As he lay there, not bothering to get back up, he felt the emotions grip him tightly. Kiba laughed, cried, laughed some more, sighed and sometimes even got frustrated over nothing. Was this Itmen? This conglomeration of feelings and thoughts? The light was so bright… he felt it caressing his skin as it touched. Was THIS Itmen? Ooohhh it was so pretty…
Kiba passed out right there, losing consciousness with his legs on the log and his back on the ground, head pressed into the dirt. He dreamt of a glowing man made of light touching his forehead and telling him he was special… that Metamor Keep couldn’t curse him. He’d be protected. Kiba loved the shiny man. He tried to hug him but passed right through him… then he woke with a start.
He couldn’t see! Everything was so dark after that light show! And… he felt itchy. There were pinpricks all over his skin, like being hit with a thousand needles all over! It was on his front as he lay on his back. His robes felt like they were growing heavier, too! He forced himself to sit up. Slowly his vision returned to him.
He realized it was nighttime… and that it was raining… how long had he been out!? It wasn’t supposed to rain for another three days! Kiba felt like he was starving. Ignoring the rain, which he recognized to be the source of the pricking sensation, he went over to the food crate and carefully lifted the lid so the water didn’t get in. He took out a whole loaf of bread and started eating it , not caring if his food got wet.
His head hurt. What did that plant do to him? But he simultaneously felt good inside. Kiba had contacted Itmen in his dreams. Itmen had told him that he was to be protected, just like he promised! Kiba felt elated, despite the bad weather and the apparent loss of time. But that was all of the plant. Maybe he shouldn’t have used it all at the same time. Oh well, it was too late now. He put a hand on his robes and banished all the water from them, leaving them as dry as when they were made, and crawled into his tent. It wasn’t over yet. He still had a bit of a wait…
The rest of the week flies by as Kiba tends to his camp. He realized that this secluded area right outside the wall was avoided by patrols. He walked down the wall in one direction and found a large pile of rubble and debris; probably from a fight long ago. The wall had been built back up but the debris remained, cutting off access from the other side. From this side he could climb up and over easily, but it dropped off steeply on the other. That’s why he’d not been found so far.
Each day he worshipped Itmen, ate his food (which he found he was running low on), cleaned his robes, and stayed around the camp, just thinking about becoming a priest. He practiced his Lyte skills as well during the day, repeatedly casting an anti-curse spell on himself. The spell was designed by Master and had never failed. He thought it might help make Itmen’s job easier. His goal was to become a priest in order to help Itmen, right? Why not start now?
It had been ten days. Kiba had only a wedge of cheese and a few slices of bread left. He decided he’d stayed long enough. He felt triumphant at his victory. He’d survived the curse! He felt invincible, Untouchable, Un-curse-able! His god really came through for him.
He was giddy as he began gathering his few belongings, humming a tune to himself and eating some of his leftover cheese and bread. As he picked up his staff he heard a loud CRASH behind him. Startled, he spun in place and faced the source of the noise. It was just the lid of the crate. He’d put it back on partway and it had fallen off. Odd that it was so loud that it scared him. It was probably the isolation making him over-aware.
As he picked up his amulet he noticed that it had a long crack right down the middle. He didn’t remember sitting on it.
“How did this happen??” Kiba cried out, a bit upset at his loss. He really liked this amulet. It was from Master! He scratched his head, thinki- Ow! His head stung! Did he scratch too hard? He looked down at his nails to see if there was blood on them. What he saw shocked him. His nails had grown at least an inch! They were curled slightly and black… claws?! But… the curse! He was supposed to be free from it!
“Oh no, no, no, no! This isn’t supposed to happen!” He felt crushed… he was supposed to be protected by Itmen! Was he not holy enough? His eyes widened as he watched his hands grow smaller, then begin sprouting fluffy black fur from the middle of the palms, spreading outward at an alarming rate!
“Stop! Itmen, please help me!” He shouted at the skies. His horror increased further as he saw his nose pushing out from his face, jutting out several inches. He let out a horrified yell and reached for the bag of anti-curse that his master had given him before he left. Where was it!?
The changes continued to claim him as he searched for his bag. It wasn’t in his pocket! It wasn’t in the pot! It wasn’t in the crate! The fur had spread up his arms! His ears were migrating to the top of his head, triangulating and extending outward, growing fur there too!
FOUND IT! It was there under his pillow! Kiba practically ripped the drawstring off in his desperation, pouring the powder into his now-furry palm. He was about to stuff it into his mouth… err… muzzle… when he stopped abruptly. Something was wrong. He forced his panic down enough to assess the situation. He smelled… something. It was… cyanide. Where? It was coming from the powder. But… why?
His entire world came crashing down around him in that one instant. His master had betrayed him! he didn’t want to cure Kiba if he became cursed; he wanted to KILL him if he became cursed! No! NO! It COULD’T be true!! But it was… his master was very adamant in his opposition of the darkness. Darkness included curses. Darkness included the cursed. Kiba was cursed.
“NOOOOO!!” He yelled as loud as he was able. “Itmen, don’t let this happen to me! PLEASE SPARE ME!” He felt tears welling up in his eyes as he watched the changes claim him. He grabbed his staff and performed the anti-curse spell. Nothing happened. Again! Nothing happened!
“Why?! Why isn’t it working!?” He cried now, tears streaming down his face. He felt them soak into a new layer of fur that had grown while he had been looking for the pouch. Kiba looked down and saw that his toenails had gone the way as his fingernails, his feet elongating and sprouting the same gray fur as on his hands.
He ran. Not thinking… just running. Running and crying. He cried harder than he ever had before as he stumbled up the pile of debris and fell off the other side, landing with a solid thump. He got up, unfazed and kept running. He ran from everything he knew; from his camp… from Itmen… from his family… from Trenador. He had to run… he had to find help before it was too late!
most of all Kiba ran from his master. The one who couldn’t see through a curse to the person inside… who’d rather kill than help his cursed student. CURSED! That’s what he was! He cried with renewed sorrow, wailing his misery to the heavens. He had to run… he had to find help before it was too late!
“Master! Master, why!? Why have you betrayed me!?” Kiba felt the fur spreading down his neck and back, spreading across his belly and chest to cover his entire torso. He felt a strong pulling sensation at the base of his spine, the bones extending and growing in number as they pushed out into a postanal tail that sprouted a lot of thick, soft fur, bushing outward.
“No! No…!” He cried as he felt this new development. But It wasn’t over yet. Kiba felt his robes grow heavier and… longer? What was happening now!? He was shrinking! No, not more changes! His clawed paws snagged at his robes as he tried to move. Kiba heard a loud rrrrriiiiiiiip and tripped, falling flat on his face. His robes were too big for him. He’d stepped on the inside and ripped right through with his sharp claws, and he was still getting smaller! His legs slipped through the hole in his robes and he kept running… he had to find someone… anyone to help him! He didn’t want to be cursed!
It seemed like hours… days… before he finally stopped, unable to go any further… He didn’t know where he was…couldn’t see... blinded by his tears. Kiba began to feel weak from all the running. He fell against the wall he’d been running alongside, sliding to the ground. He fell to the side and found another wall projecting out at ninety degrees. Kiba was right by the front entrance of the keep, but didn’t know it. He curled into a miserable little ball of fur, shrinking even further. Eventually his head, tail, paws and ears stopped shrinking with the rest of him; then he stopped altogether.
“Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” He repeated as he sniffled and sobbed, each ‘Why’ getting higher pitched as his vocal cords shrank, repeatedly thumping his head onto the stone below him. He was invisible under the shredded robes, clutching his staff to his chest, shivering in terror and sorrow.
He wasn’t invincible.