Kiba lay there, defeated… cursed… he’d become something furry and very small, though he was too busy crying to look, hidden under his shredded robes just in front of Metamor’s gates, though he didn’t know it.
Before he could even calm down, he found himself seized by two giant hands, giant even by his new small standards. Wait, hands? No… they were paws, not hands! And they were rough! Ow! They squeezed him into a thick leather bag, along with his robes! He couldn’t move!
“Ugh, why isn’t deh squad leader here dis tuh-mornin’…? I gottah deal wiff all dese mis-kreents muhself…” Someone poked at the bag with the flailing Kiba inside. “Now, uhh… y-you stay in there! Imma take you tuh mah squad leader’s temp-placement… she’ll know whudda do withya…”
“Let me out! Please let me out!!” Kiba cried, tears streaming as he kicked and flailed. The bag was too thick to claw his way out and his robes were taking more damage than the leather! Where was his staff!? He needed his staff! It wasn’t in the bag with him!
The bear dragged Kiba a short ways further into the Keep, just inside the gates, where his squad leader’s temporary replacement sat. She sat on a supply crate, cross legged, looking quite bored when she heard the commotion coming from the bear and his bag.
“Ugh, what’s that big lunk up to now? He’d better not have- oh great, he did.” She slapped her forehead in frustration at Modeo, her temporary charge. Her long, pointed ears folded backwards and her long tail with a brown tuft at the end swished around. She adjusted her giant goggles on her forehead to look more dignified, waiting for him to approach.
The squad leader stood on the crate, drawing herself up to her full height of four feet and seven inches. She had shrunk during her transformation, which annoyed her because as a human she had been short already. She tugged on her clothes, getting the wrinkles out so she didn’t appear to have been slacking off… which she had been. Modeo was so dumb that he wouldn’t have noticed her slacking off if she brought a beach umbrella and a coconut drink with her. But she didn’t want to count on his intelligence, or lack thereof, to keep herself out of trouble.
That’s why she was here… she was in trouble. She’d accidentally broken a statue of some old fart while showing off her arsenal and been placed on guard duty with this stupid bear who irritated her to no end! Gah, she just wanted to get away from this numbskull.
She wore a long gray overcoat that went down to her knees, the sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Underneath the coat was a pinkish purplish shirt and pants. Her left arm was adorned with a strange contraption of her own build, a gauntlet that was full of spring-loaded weapons. A perfect build for assassinating someone without being caught… Modeo was afraid of her for it. She loved ‘showing’ it to him every chance she got so she could scare him with it.
“Modeo!” She glowered at him, trying to look unintimidated by the large bear that stood twice her height. She wasn’t as afraid of him as he was of her. To prove this she raised her left arm, the one with the gauntlet, in his direction, making him cringe and put up his arms defensively, standing on one leg and leaning away from her. She wondered if she’d held it closer if he would fall over backwards. That would be hilarious.
“Modeo, how many times have I told you?” She pointed accusingly at him.
“Uhh… dat wouldah be… twice now, Miss Yasha?”
“No. And my name is Iasha!” She narrowed her eyes. “That’s –thrice-. And THIS is the FOURTH time! Stop bagging people!” Her arm lowered toward the bag, pointing at it instead of him. “Who’s in there? Hmm? Who!? Go on, open it and apologize!”
She watched as Modeo put the bag on the ground and began fumbling with the ties. She waited while he accidentally tied it tighter by pulling the wrong string, make that stupid ‘duhhh’ sound, and start all over again… Grr! She couldn’t take this! Iasha yanked on a wire in her gauntlet, a long blade springing outward and sliced the top of the bag off.
“Aaaiieeee!” Modeo jumped backward, landing on the opposing wall behind him. “Duhh, you coulda cut mah hands off, Miss Yasha!” He sniffed, “You killed baggy.”
“Oh shut up, you big baby. It’s what you get for being an idiot.” Her ears perked when she heard more crying below, coming from the bag. “What the… Modeo, you bagged some kina rac?” She sighed, agitated. “Great… now we gotta go report him. Good job.”
Kiba sat up, breathing in the fresh air. He still had tears staining his fur. He immediately tried to make a run for it, but fell over as soon as he tried to take a step. What now?! Oh no, he was tangled up in his robes! He fought against them, pulling and struggling. He needed to find his staff! No matter if it was from the treacherous Master, he didn’t associate it with him anymore!
Iasha sighed again. “Great, looks like I have to be nice.” She squatted in front of the panicking Kiba and forced a smile. “Umm, hey little guy. It’s gonna be okay. Come here…” She said in a soothing tone, holding her arms out to Kiba.
“No… no, stay away!” He said, horrified at her vulpine visage. Itwas a monster! Some kind of demon fox! He had to get away!
Iasha’s arms drop to her sides and she squinted at him, annoyed, tail twitching behind her. “Alright you little punk, I tried being nice!” She seized him by the scruff of the back of his neck, wrenching him and his tangled robes off the ground and held the blade to his throat.
“Now we can do this the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is you cooperate and we take you in for a report, or the hard way which involves painting my shiny blade red. Capiche?”
It was all happening too fast… first he changed… twice! Then he was bagged and tossed around, then a monster fox had scared him and now he was being held in the air by his neck with a sword to his throat! It was too much… Kiba cried like a small child. He –felt- like a small child.
Iasha slapped her forehead in frustration again. Ugh! Today sucked! She stuffed the crying rac back into the bag and retied it. “Modeo, you take this.” She sheathed her blade again. “It’s too much for me to handle today!”
“Uhh, d’okay… err, hey, what’s this shiny thingy?” He asked, picking up the staff that Kiba had left on the ground. “Dis was where dah lil’ coon thingy was…”
“That, Modeo, is a mage’s staff. It’s probably his, then. Take it with us.” She saw the word burned into the side. “Kiba, eh? What an odd name.” She said to herself.
“Uhh, okay den.” He slipped it into one of his giant pockets. It could have been a toothpick to him. The most expensive toothpick he’d ever use.
Kiba didn’t know where he was any more. He curled up into as tight a ball as he could in the bag, sniffling and sobbing. He felt himself being carried through what seemed to him like endless miles of hallways. There were occasional voices outside. He could smell food at one point and there was a clattering of glasses before that faded away and he could hear someone laughing loudly elsewhere. That too left him and he heard a heavy oak door squeaking open on its hinges, then it was quiet but for a quill scratching on parchment.
He heard someone clear their throat and the writing stopped. Kiba heard a small ‘plunk’ as the quill was placed back in an inkwell… he couldn’t believe he was hearing all this. Sounds that should have been too quiet for Kiba to ever hear were as audible as if someone were speaking clearly right next to him!
“Sir.” It was Iasha’s voice. “Modeo and I found a stranger outside the front gate.” Kiba felt himself being hoisted upward as Modeo waved the bag in the air. He stifled a scared yelp, not being a fan of jostled around much.
“Modeo, stop that! Anyway, he must have been here a while because he’s not human.” Kiba whimpered when she said this, not wanting to be reminded of his current plight.
“I’m not sure that he’s familiar with the Keep, because he freaked at seeing me and Modeo. Not the ‘Oh shit, it’s the police, run!’ kind of fear, but ‘Oh my god it’s a monster!’ kind. Err… if you get what I mean, sir. As much as I’d like to attribute it to my aura of menace, I’m not sure that’s the case.”
Kiba felt a jab to his side, making him yelp and startle. It came again and he whimpered as he tried to shift around to escape whatever it was hitting him.
“Modeo, will you knock it off!?” Iasha’s voice rang out. Modeo had been poking the bag, bored from standing and waiting for Iasha to rattle off every little detail about finding their new friend.
The next sound that befell Kiba’s ears shocked him…
“Yes, Mister Modeo, I agree with Miss Iasha. Would you be so kind as to leave the… convict here in our care? Return to guarding the front gates if you’d be so kind.”
The reason it shocked him was because it was a child speaking! The voice couldn’t have been any older than ten!
“D’aww, but I wanted tuh see dah lil’ ‘coon thing…”
“Modeo…”the voice got stern. “I said go. Don’t make me have to tell you again.”
“Aw, okay. Uhh, here. Dis is his, uhh… shiny staff thing…” Kiba felt himself lowered down before being held more closely by someone else. The door opened and he could hear more voices, then it closed again and they were gone.
“Anyway,” The young voice continued, “It’s rude to bag and tie people like Modeo did. He’ll be punished for it, Iasha, rest assured. Your assignment will only last for one more week and you can be rid of him. That bear annoys me as well, believe me. Anyway, you may leave now. I’ll ask our guest the rest of the questions myself. Thank you for reporting him.”
Kiba felt the bag be put down on something soft, and then the door was opened, letting the sounds outside spill inbefore being closed again with a thud and a click. Then silence. Kiba waited, not daring to speak. He could feel a pair of young eyes on him even through the bag.
He felt a slight tug on the bag, heard cloth sliding against leather, and then the bag fell away, leaving him curled up in a soft chair in a tangled mess of fur and robes. He sat up as best he could, eyes darting about the room.
Kiba saw a sophisticated office, a large polished oak desk sat before him, stacks of books on each side. There was an inkwell with a quill in it sitting atop a page of parchment with fresh writing. The floor was wooden with a large rug in the middle in front of the door, tall bookshelves lining each wall filled with more books.
The desk was what held his attention the most, for sitting on it was his staff. Behind the desk was a young child. He did indeed look ten years old. He wore clothing far too mature for him. Half moon spectacles sat on his short nose, threatening to fall off if he didn’t have a sudden growth spurt. Indeed, he had to push them back up his nose every few seconds.
He leans forward in his chair, looking at Kiba over his glasses. He glances down to the staff with Kiba’s name on it.
“So, Kyebah?” He says, pronouncing it wrong. “What brings you into our Keep?”
Kiba couldn’t think. He just sat there, staring in wide eyed fear, shivering visibly as he clutched his ruined robes to his chest. He was cursed! It kept passing through his mind. His human form had been ripped from him by the one he thought he could trust, leaving him as some small, furry abomination!
He was a cursed person, sitting in a cursed Keep in front of another of the cursed… cursed, cursed, cursed, cursed! He had to find a wizard to change him back before it was too late! He had to get help!
“Err… it is Kyebah, is it not? Please correct me if I’m saying it wrong. I understand you must be, umm... Confused? Uhh… Mister Kyebah? Are you feeling ill?”
Kiba didn’t respond, his eyes not focusing on anything at all and yet everything at the same time, darting around the room in nervousness.
Okay, obviously he’s in shock. The child thought to himself. He’s definitely new here. This is odd. I wonder what kind of magic he’d been trifling with to get himself hit with two curses at once. I won’t be able to say a word to him until he calms down, but I can’t wait for that.
“Mister Kyebah, I’m going to perform a simple procedure on you.” said the youth, dismounting from his chair and walking around the desk so he was next to Kiba. “A little magical massage to calm you down so you can answer my questions. You don’t have any need to worry.”
Kiba still didn’t make any response. He glanced at the kid once and then retreated back inside his own head, which was currently violated with fear. He startled slightly when the child placed his hand on his head and began rubbing. Kiba could feel tendrils of magic flowing through his skull to his brain, probing at certain areas.
The technique soon began to work as it always did. The pinpointed pressure on certain parts of one’s brain would encourage the release of calming endorphins, a science well beyond the youth’s own time. But that was why he was here. SOMEONE had to be smart in this world.
Kiba shuddered and relaxed noticeably, sighing and closing his eyes. He leaned into the boy’s rubbing and an odd sound began to come from his throat. he was… churring? Kiba didn’t care if he was making weird sounds. This boy was making him feel good; he never thought he’d feel good again! He was grateful for it.
“I assume you feel better now. Are you ready to answer my questions now, Kyebah?” Asked the youth, adding a few scritches to Kiba’s ears for encouragement.
“I…” Kiba finally regained his composure, if slightly. “M-my name is Kiba… s-sir?” Why were they calling him ‘sir’? Maybe he’d better play along. There could have been a reason for the way Iasha and Modeo acted towards the youth.
“Ah, Kiba’s how it’s pronounced, is it? Very well, Kiba.” The child sat back into his chair, seeming taller than he should be when he does so. “Oh, would you like a tome? Or… two?”
“A… a t-tome…?” Kiba stuttered, trying to hold his nervousness at bay.
“A big book, child.” Says the child. “To sit on? So I don’t have to lean over my desk to see you?” He sighs.
“Very good.” The child grabs two of the largest books from his desk and hauls them around to Kiba. “Uff! These… are not my most… favorite volumes… anyway!” He huffs between words. “Up please?”
“Uhh… what…? O-oh…” Kiba stands in the chair, to the side, and the child places the books where he’d been sitting previously with a loud thud.
“Guh! Whew… those are heavy. There you go. Sit on those if you don’t mind.”
Kiba sits on the large books, still clutching his robes like a security blanket. “I… I was told to stay there… sir… by my master.” He sniffs. “He tried to poison me…”
“Poison? If he tried to poison you, then why did you not flee?”
“I did! I ran as fast as I could… I was ch-changing… i-into th-this…” He sniffs, looking at his newly acquired paws. Tears begin streaming from his eyes again, soaking his fur.
“I mean when he tried to poison you, lad.”
“I do too…” He whines.
“He was outside the walls with you, then?”
“No! He… I...”
“Okay, okay, let’s slow down and take this one step at a time, Mister Kiba.”
Kiba stares at the floor, hiding his body under his robes so he didn’t have to stare at himself. His tail hung out, though, he had no idea how to hide it, so he closed his eyes.
“Let me explain your situation to you, Kiba, since you obviously don’t seem to understand it. You’ve been afflicted by two of the three transformation curses on Metamor Keep, the very curses that the residents here live with every day of our lives. It appears you’ve been transfigured into a raccoon morph, AND you’ve been age regressed as well. I’m not sure if you were hit by the third curse, unless of course you used to be female?”
“N-no…” Kiba shakes his head.
“Very well. Anyway, what surprises me is not that you were cursed, but that you were cursed twice. Usually residents only pick up one of them. Were you tampering with any magic? Any force that could influence the curse, or any other curses?”
“I… my amulet… those charms…” Kiba says, feeling more tears coming. “M-my anti-curse amulet broke r-right before I started ch-changing…” Kiba stutters.
“Ah, so you –did- know of the curse? That’s why you brought an anti-curse amulet with you, right?” He asks, having never heard of an ‘anti-curse amulet’.
“Y-yes… but I thought I could escape it… I thought Itmen would protect me.”
“….Itmen’s not real.” Kiba admits for the first time in his life.
“I’m sorry; I’m not sure what you mean.” Says the boy.
“M-my god… Itmen… lord of the light… keeper of truth and solace… My whole village worshipped him… he was supposed to protect me from being cursed. I used his anti curse charm… I was wrong.” Kiba sighed sadly, hanging his head. A few tears fell into his lap.
“So let me get this straight. You were promised that this god… Itmen, was it? You were promised that this ‘Itmen’ would protect you from Metamor’s curse? My child, nothing can protect you from it. Not unless you stay well away.”
“Stop calling me child! I’m eighteen years old, kid!” Kiba yelled, suddenly losing his temper, pointing an accusing claw at the boy.
The boy just stared at him, a smirk on his face. “And I’m fifty three.”
He nods. “I’m Professor Harlan, Metamor Keep’s top scholar. Well I’m beyond a scholar now. I’m the know-all guy to come to if you have any questions. I’m just as cursed as you are.”
“S-so that’s why… those other two were answering to you like that.” Kiba’s eyes found their way back to his staff lying on the table.
“Yes. That’s why. Kiba, would you like to see a mirror?”
“A mirror, boy! A reflective surface made of polished silver with a layer of glass over it!”
“Silver is too expensive where I come from.” Kiba replied quietly, fidgeting in place. He was uncomfortable in this body. He wanted out!
“Oh, I see. Lonely village, then?”
“Never heard of it.”
“Anyway, my question stands. Would you like to see a mirror? Most new arrivals do. Some, however, cringe away from them, denying their fate.”
“F-fate? No. No, I have to change back. S-see I have to get b-back home! M-my whole family is waiting for me! My mom and dad!”
Harlan shakes his head. “I’m sorry, but this is who you are now. There’s no escaping the curse once you’re caught. For seven years now our best wizards have tried to lift it; all attempts have failed.”
“B-but…” Kiba once more broke down into tears, sobbing into his robes and getting them wet.
“You really are a child, aren’t you, crying like that? Suck it up, man, you’ll get over it! We all do!” Harlan chastised. “No really, stop crying… please? Kiba?” He sounded concerned, for Kiba hadn’t stopped sobbing in the slightest.
He was stuck this way forever!? He felt horrible… crushed! Master had tried to poison him, he couldn’t ever change back, and he was a furry abomination! Twice cursed!
“Kiba, Kiba, please!” Harlan once more approaches the side of his chair and places a hand on his furry head, once more working his magic. It wasn’t as effective this time against Kiba’s sorrow. The spell didn’t work on this level of pain! He proceeded to rub the racoon’s head anyway, scritching his ears too.
Kiba sniffs loudly, attempting to talk between sobs. “My… my parents… they’ll still love me…” He whimpers. “I can move back in with them…”
“I’m sorry, no. Transformations such as yourself… well they can’t leave the Keep. Kiba, you have to understand; your life is no longer what it once was. Your parents won’t accept you… it’s the sad truth. We’ve had cases where transformations insisted on leaving, only to return with near mortal injuries from the loved ones they were so in a hurry to get back to. Most of the injuries I speak of were done to the person’s soul. Crushed. You’ll find acceptance only here, Kiba.”
Kiba whimpered and clutched his robe to himself again, once more shivering. His sobbing subsided as he began to think about his life.
“I… I really can’t go back?” his voice was a high pitched whine.
“Not unless you’re willing to risk being burned at the stake. Didn’t you say your master tried to poison you?”
“I… I don’t… know…”
“What don’t you know, Kiba?”
“I just don’t!” He hid his head under his robes, his ears still sticking out. “I can’t go back home… I don’t have anyone to turn to. I’m all alone!” He whined mournfully.
“You’ll make friends here, Kiba. Everyone does. We’re all in the same boat here; we sympathize with you. Now, about that mirror…”
Kiba’s life had definitely changed. So much for being a priest.
It had been about three hours since Kiba was taken into Metamor Keep. He and Professor Harlan had a long, detailed discussion about all the things that had happened to him since the day he left home. He learned, though was hesitant to accept, that Lyte was just like any other magic, nothing special to his cult; he shouldn’t ever mention Itmen to anyone lest he be prosecuted as a heathen, and above all he couldn’t go back to Trenador. It was for his own safety.
Kiba was now in a large tub, being scrubbed down by a few attendants. One of them was a fox morph, the other was a transgendered man turned into a woman. Harlan had assigned them to this task, and they had hesitantly accepted.
“So, little guy, what’s your story?” Asked the woman, kneeling by the tub and trimming and cleaning Kiba’s claws.
“I… I was betrayed by my master… I don’t wanna talk about it.” Kiba said, his eyes closed tight. He didn’t want to see anyone, cursed as they were… as he was…
“Aww, there, there, little guy. I got over my curse… somewhat. It stinks not having the right parts where they’re supposed to be, but at least I’m still able to take care of myself. Speaking of which, you are too. You’ll be bathing yourself in the future. This is just a pity b- err… we’re just helping you out this one time because, uhh… w-well you’re obviously in no state to…”
“Watch your mouth, Martha. You’re just making it worse. Kiba… that’s your name? Kiba, don’t worry. Things will turn around. We were all in your position at one point or another.” The fox comforted him as he scrubbed his back. “You haven’t had a proper bath in a while… there’s all this dirt and grime in your fur. Then again you were camping out right outside the walls for two weeks.”
“My name is Martin! And… fine. I’m sorry.” The woman lowered her eyes, ashamed. Suddenly getting an idea, she stood up and retrieved a square mirror from the wall over the water basin. She knelt by the bath again and held it up, the reflective side pointed away from Kiba.
“I’m going to turn this around now, and I want you to look at it. You have to get used to your reflection if you want to live here comfortably, okay sweetie? Err… Kiba? I’m sorry. It’s an automatic reaction… I call all the age regressed ‘sweetie’ or ‘darling’. It comes with being a woman… kinda… you get used to it after acting like one for seven years…” She laughs weakly.
Kiba closed his eyes and looks away. “Please… don’t. I don’t want to see.”
“Aww, but you’re so cute! You might like the new you.”
“Don’t call me that! I’m still the old me! I…” He sniffed, looking down at his paws. “I… I’m not the old me…” Kiba whimpered. There was no way the old him would have anything against his master like he did now. He was still upset about the cyanide.
“You’ll have to see eventually, deary. It won’t help to put it off.” Martin says.
“Yeah, man, just look. You may like what you see.” Says the fox, James by name.
Kiba slowly turned his head towards the wooden back of the mirror. “I… o-okay… show me.” He cringed slightly.
“Alright.” Said Martin softly, turning the mirror around.What Kiba saw surprised him, even though he’d been expecting it. There was a very young raccoon cub in the reflection.. The first thing Kiba noticed was his eyes. Their green sheen was as brilliant as he’d always been told they were. He searched his furry visage for any other signs of his old self, but found none.
There was a very dark gray mask around his eyes, going from side to side. It reminded Kiba of a bandit. His ears were larger than they needed to be, proof of his forced prepubescense. They were a mix between being triangular and round, halfway between a fox’s and a bear’s. He had a short muzzle with a small shiny black nose on the end.
Kiba hesitantly looked down at his body for the first time, seeing his belly was colored lighter than the rest of his body. He had two short legs that each ended in a long, padded raccoon paw with darker fur than anywhere else on his body. Kiba wiggled his toes experimentally, feeling the warm water flow between them. They were more sensitive than his normal feet had been, making him gasp slightly in surprise.
Behind him, trailing out between Kiba’s legs like a cushion was a large fluffy tail. It had three dark rings and two lighter rings in between. This tail seemed far too big for his little body, though it was actually the perfect size, its largeness attributed to the fact that he was now a child and that he was a bipedal raccoon rather than a feral one. Kiba tried moving it, but found it quite difficult since it was so new to him… and because he was sitting on it.
On top of all this was a layer of soap that James had scrubbed into his fur to get him clean.
“I… I’m… uhh…”
“Cute?” Asks James.
“Huggable?” Asks Martin.
Kiba slowly nodded, and then touched his nose with a tentative paw, feeling his muzzle. He looked back at the mirror, watching his movements. His paw traveled up to his forehead to his ears, then down the side to his cheek…
“What? What is it?” Asked James.
“I… I still have my fang tattoos from Trenador!” There were two triangular patches of red fur on his cheeks right where his tattoos had been. Kiba hadn’t noticed them until he had actually taken a good look at himself.
“I was wondering what that was… I couldn’t get them out with the brush.”
“I thought you’d been attacked by something.” Martin chimes in. “Thought it was blood or something.”
“Nah, if he’d been attacked by something he probably would still be in shock or something… or he would have a lot more ‘red fur’.”
“Oh, yeah, you’re right.”
James put the brush to the side and picked up a bucket of water that had been sitting next to him.
“Hold your breath, Kiba. I gotta get this soap off of you or it’ll make your fur all hard and chunky as it dries.”
“…my fur? Oh… oh yeah… That’ll… that’ll take some getting used to…” Kiba sniffed.
“Oh, it does, believe me.” Said Martin as she went back to the sink and returned the mirror.
“How would you know? You didn’t turn into an animal. You stayed human, you have no fur.” Retorted James.
“It still takes some getting used to changing, okay?”
“Umm… you were going to rinse me?” Kiba said, breaking into their argument.
“Oh yeah. Hold your breath, little guy.”
Kiba did as he was told, taking a deep breath and holding it while shutting his eyes. He felt a warm splash of water cascade down his form, taking the soap with it. He shook his head, a reflex he didn’t have before, splattering the water all over Martin and James.
“Aah! Hey, watch it!”
“Eek! I’m all wet!”
“I-I’m sorry! I don’t know why I did that!” Kiba apologized quickly.
“Hey, it’s okay.” Says Martin. “It’s okay.”
“Yeah, I couldn’t stop doing that either when I got wet when I first changed.”
Kiba lowered his eyes and sniffed, feeling odd… he’d never shaken like an animal before. He usually just used Ly- err… magic… to make it all slide off.
“Alrighty, Kiba, up! We gotta dry you off and get you clothed.” Said Martha.
“Can’t have you walking about Metamor Keep all wet and dripping all over the place.” James added.
Kiba gripped the edge of the tub and pulled himself up. He felt a lot heavier underneath his soaking fur.
“Unnf!” He grunted as he stood up, the water falling off of his body in rivulets. Kiba’s fur had soaked up a lot of water and it was weighing him down. On top of that he had been age regressed and was now weaker than he had been before.
James quickly wrapped a towel around him and began rubbing him dry with it, Martin grabbed another one and toweled the top of his head dry as well. The sensation of the cloth rubbing Kiba’s ears caused him to murr; the sensation was quite pleasant.
“Hehe, you like that, little guy?” Asked James, his ears perking and picking up the sound before Martin.
“Mmm, mhmm…” Kiba responded, enjoying it indeed.
“I’ll take that as a yes!” James laughed.
Martin put a towel on the floor for Kiba to stand on after getting out. “Alright, just step out here, sweetie, and we can dry you the rest of the way off.”
“I’ve never had to take so many measures to get dry…”
“It all changes when you get fur.” James agrees.
With a small effort, Kiba lifted one leg over the side of the porcelain tub… only to realize the way down on the other side was too far. the bathtub was being held off the ground by at least a foot by its four legs. He faltered for a moment, and then stepped back into the water.
“Uhh… I can’t do it…” Kiba whined, peering over the edge. “It’s too far.”
“Oh, I forgot!” Martin rummages through the closet, pulling out a small set of portable wooden stairs; a stepladder. She puts it at the base of the bathtub and stands back.
“Now try, dear.”
Kiba tried again, this time finding the step under his feet gave him something to stand on. He pulled his other leg up, the water running off in small torrents from his tail as he stood on the ladder. He felt very off-balance and James had to help him stay standing.
“My back end is so heavy… I can’t stand up right.” Kiba said solemnly. Every word he’d uttered since he’d been changed was either a scream of terror or something quiet and introverted “Yeah, that’s the hardest thing to get used to.” James gently wrang out Kiba’s tail, making it lighter and slightly fluffier.
“Oh!” Kiba yelped as James did this. The new extension to his body felt very weird, like his spine had been lengthened. Oh, that’s right; it had.
James brought Kiba’s tail around to his front and handed it to him. “You may wanna try carrying it your first day or two. You’ll eventually learn that it’s easier to use a tail for balance once you get the hang of manipulating it. Try not to get it caught in any doors or anything. You’ll regret that.”
Kiba held his tail to his chest, shivering at the sensation. “It feels so odd… like a part of me that was always there and I just never felt it before… not noticing it ‘till now.”
“Myep, that’s pretty much the case. It’s not new, exactly. Just… a lot longer than it was when you were human. Oh, and covered in fur.”
“While we were bathing you your robes were being tailored into a new, smaller set of clothes. They’re big enough to make two outfits for you. You may want to consider getting more. At least one for every day of the week so you can wash them between days.” Martin chimed in.
“They’re in the closet, here. They came while you were getting clean.” She rummaged through the closet and pulled out a pair of robes that perfectly matched Kiba’s old ones… save for the fact that they were half as big. And they were still too big for him by at least a foot!
“My robes…” Kiba stared, wide-eyed. “You still have them!”
“Err, yes, but it looks like they still need a bit of tailoring yet. Hold still.” Martin said as she grabbed a pair of scissors from a basket in the closet. She had Kiba don the robe after toweling him down so he doesn’t get it wet.
“Now wear this. James, will you be a dear and hold down the hem for me? Thank you.” She smiled as James cooperates. “Now Kiba, hold still. I don’t want to accidentally cut you, okay?”
Kiba nodded and shuffles around a bit on the stool, repositioning himself so he could have a better balance. Martin began to cut the hem off of the bottom of Kiba’s new robes so they wouldn’t drag on the ground as he walked, making sure not to cut the end of his tail off as well.
“Great!” Says Martin, discarding the excess cloth to be reused later. “Now we have to make a hole for your tail. We haven’t already done that yet because we don’t really have your measurements. Hold still. This may get a little uncomfortable.”
“Ptch, tell me about it.” Scoffed James.
Kiba whined a bit as he felt James grip the base of his tail “Just try to relax. It feels weird, but you’ll get used to it.” The fox said.
Martin diligently began to cut a hole around where James instructed her to, and then stitched the hole outward against itself so the loose edges wouldn’t fray. James then gently pulled Kiba’s tail through the newly tailored hole, letting Kiba grab it and hold his tail to his chest once through. He was comforted by it somehow… like a security blanket. Kiba stroked his tail, shivering at the odd sensations of the new extremity.
“It’s okay.” James patted Kiba’s head, knowing he’d enjoy it. He did himself… most of the transformees did. “You’ll get used to it. Now come on, we’ve gotta get you registered!”
“R-registered? What do you mean?” Kiba did indeed enjoy the pats James gave him.
“Well you can’t very well go gadding about the Keep without an official residency, can you?”
“Yeah, you have to get your name in the books before we do anything else. Lunin will help you with that today. He’s the best spider monkey librarian in the business.”
“Spider monkey?” Kiba had never seen one of those before. He’d heard of regular monkeys before, but not spider monkeys. “Does he have, like… eight legs or… something?”
“Nah, he builds webs with spinneret’s in his butt.”
Kiba tilted his head, utterly confused. “What??”
“James, stop toying with him!” Martin gave James a bap to the snout, making him wince.
“Ouch! S-sorry. No, a spider monkey is just another kind of monkey, one with long, lithe arms and an extremely dexterous tail.” James confessed. “He helps run the library. He’ll help you get registered; maybe you can look up your species there.” He winked. “It’s kind of a tradition for the animal. Come on, we’ll take you.” James took Kiba by the paw and led him down the steps, heading towards the door.
“James, I have to get back to my regular duties.” Martin protested. “I can’t be a tour guide for the rest of the day!”
“Alright, fine, you go and do whatever it is you do. I’ll take him myself. Come on, Kiba, let’s go. Cross your fingers and pray we get there before dinner. I’m getting hungry.”
The hallways were long. Long? That was an understatement. No, the hallways weren’t long; the hallways were ENDLESS! They twisted, turned, doubled back, had dead ends, and worst of all… they changed. Oh, how they changed! It was so irritating! At one point, James and Kiba took a wrong turn and had to go back, only to find there was a different hallway than the one they just went down! We join them now after about the third time they’ve done this, with Kiba clinging to his own tail and James guiding him by his paw.
“Okay, I KNOW it’s this way this time. I recognize that suit of armor! See the scratch on its shoulder? We’re headed in the right direction!”
Kiba didn’t say anything. He was getting tired and hungry… oh boy, hungry. That thought made him nervous. How was he going to eat like this!? He rubbed his muzzle and gave a small whimper.
“So, um… don’t worry. We’ll get there soon.” Said James for the hundredth time. The fur on his tail was getting frizzy in agitation at the hallways. What was meant to be a three minute trip had stretched to over half an hour. It seemed like there was no end in sight for the poor duo.
“Finally!” Kiba heard James exclaim. He looked up from the floor to see a polished, dark brown set of double doors.
James pushed the doors open with one paw to reveal a room the size of a house. The walls were circular and lined with bookshelves. There was a semicircular desk directly across from the two, on which was a small bell to call for service and several stacks of books, not to mention a myriad of quills, rolls of parchment and inkwells.
James led Kiba up to the desk. There was a small ladder there similar to the one that Kiba had used to get in and out of the bathtub earlier that day. he climbed up to and peers over the edge of the desk. There was no one in the room save for Kiba and James.
“Hey, Lunin!” James yelled, grabbing the bell and ringing it sharply. “We got a new guy who needs to register!”
Without warning a big, hairy face popped up from behind the desk and let out an ape-like shriek.
“Aah! I’m right here! Hee hee hee! A new person you say!? Ah, yes, I see him!” He grinned at Kiba. “Here to register! So you must be new… did I not say that? OH yes, I DID say that!”
“Don’t mind him.” James whispered in Kiba’s ear. “He’s just a little insane. No, the curse didn’t do this to his head.” He chuckled. “He was like this before he changed. I think maybe he was already a monkey and cursed to be human… then he came here and the curse was broken.” He sniggered.
Kiba leaned away from Lunin and stared wide-eyed. “Aww, did I scare you? I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!” Exclaimed Lunin, a bit louder than necessary.
“I-it’s okay…” Kiba stuttered, clutching his tail to his chest again. He just wanted to get a warm meal and find a warm bed for the night… and possibly wake up back home, human, and eighteen again with all of this as just a wild dream.
“So anyway, Lunin, we need to get this guy registered.” James said again, rubbing Kiba’s head. “Can you get the registration forms and stuff?”
“Ah yes, registration forms! Of course!” Lunin’s eyes lit up and he literally leaped off the desk and landed on the bookshelf on the wall behind him, hanging from the edges of the shelves. He swung back and forth, leaping from shelf to shelf gathering the right documents and scrolls, holding them all in his tail. He chittered noisily the whole while, acting very animal like indeed.
“A-am I going to end up like him?” Kiba worried. He didn’t want to spend his days digging out of the sluice pit for food like a raccoon!
“…like I said, Kiba, Lunin is insane.” James assured him. “You won’t change any more than you already have. Unless you get hit by a nasty transformation spell and degrade even more, but the chances of that are slim unless you plan to go into battle.”
“I’d rather not battle anyone, th-thanks…” Kiba muttered.
Meanwhile Lunin had finally stopped swinging to and fro among the massive collection of documents and papers and had settled down again behind the desk. He rolled out a piece of parchment with blocky printing on it and laid it flat before Kiba.
“Here you are, Kiba. This document states that you are now and forevermore a permanent resident of Metamor Keep; that you abide by our rules and generally just keep yourself out of trouble. I’m sure we won’t be getting any trouble from you, will we?” Lunin rambled, laying an inked quill in front of the document for Kiba to sign with.
“Just sign right there, that’s all you need to do.” Lunin pointed to an X at the bottom of the page, written just to the left of a name-length line.
Kiba carefully dipped the pen into the inkwell and brought it slowly to the parchment. He realized that he was about to sign his whole life away, just like that… he might never see his home again, have dinner with his parents, train with his mast- oh. Kiba remembered that he didn’t want to have anything to do with his master ever again. He couldn’t return to Trenador because he would be killed! He wished he knew his master’s true name so he could use that instead. He wasn’t Kiba’s master any more.
Without another thought he jotted down his name and replaced the pen in its well, though he was panting slightly. That had taken a lot of courage, writing his name like that. Though he found the act of writing in itself a lot easier than he remembered… his new raccoon fingers were extremely dexterous now, almost startlingly so.
“Is… is that it?” Kiba asked nervously, knowing he had just confirmed his new existence here, effectively sealing the deal.
“That’s it! Welcome to Metamor Keep, Master Kiba.”
“M-master? No! I’m jus-“
“Heh, chill Kiba.” James pipes up. “That just means you’re a male resident. Count yourself lucky on that… the transgender spell isn’t any fun.” He shuddered. “I’ve seen Martin throw so many fits and I can hear her screaming at nights in frustration when she wants to mas-“
“James! I think that’s -quite- enough! There are little ears in the room, if you haven’t been paying attention.”
“But he’s age regressed, Lunin.” Retorted James. “He’s not really that young.”
“Hmm… his eyes say different. They have a youthful sparkle in them that the other age regressed around here don’t possess.” Lunin said, squinting at Kiba. “Though it’s hard to tell through all the fur.”
“Lunin, I know you’re interested in our new guest, but… uhh… well we got lost on the way here. I don’t know how to get to the Deaf Mule from here.”
“Isn’t Kiba a little young for a bar?”
“…age regressed, Lunin.”
“Hmm… still… that glint in his eye… oh, very well. It’s just down the hall and to the left.”
“What?? But we would have passed it on the way here if that was the case!”
“James, are you questioning my intelligence?”
“No, but we didn-“
“Just go. It’s down the hall and to the left. EVERYTHING is down the hall and to the left.” He looked to Kiba seriously. “You might want to remember that rule, little one. It’ll be the most important thing you’ll remember around here. Trust me.”
And so Kiba left the library, freshly registered at Metamor Keep, on his way to experience a brand new life… reborn, you could say, as a Keeper. At least it beat being a priest.