“Curse indeed!” He exclaimed, tuning his instrument. Rourke Danyals, the great bard had been all about the western kingdoms of Galendore, through wars and unrest yet he’d always been able to play, where ever and however long.
Silly mages threatened to turn him into silly monkeys and mice and melons but they never did. He’d heard it all... albeit the inn keep where he was now staying was a 500 pound bovine.
‘Leave now’ they said, ‘you’ve been here all but two weeks’ they said.
But it still didn’t faze the bard. He had other instruments. Gags, party tricks, whatever the situation called for. And here he had the perfect thing.
In his hand was a scroll of parchment. He opened the spell, and found it to be the wrong one. Rourke set the ‘big-titty-man’ spell aside and found the right one. Yes! This is the party trick, this one will do nicely.
He didn’t chant or draw things on the ground, light candles or meditate for 8 hours; the bard merely threw the parchment in the air. As it sailed down to the ground it expanded, it grew bigger and bigger like a big pastry and then it sailed around him, continuing to stretch but wrapping itself around him like a blanket. First around his head, then it spun around his chest, legs and feet before it came to a halt on the floor, looking like an ordinary, small parchment once more.
Once the spell was complete, Rourke went to the mirror to see the results. A house cat of snow white fur greeted him. He still had his apple-green human eyes and short brown hair on his head but the rest of his body was that of a humanoid feline.
“Perfect! Try to curse me now!” The cat purred. “If the silly curse affects humans then I am human no more.”
His first task was to remove the thick, fluffy tail from his pantaloons and fashion himself a makeshift tail hole and was quite happy to find that his claws sufficed. Rourke took his cittern in hand, also the brass fingers, lest he get a claw stuck in the strings and whisked out the door, to the inn’s commons down below. He’d promised the inn keep music and song in exchange for food and bed.
The bard felt excited and intended to give his audience a show they’d neer’ forget!
The mule was packed with keepers and travellers from near and far. Despite his feline senses, Rourke tuned out to the audience, to the drunks and the hecklers and the odd trouble makers who got themselves into brawls as he played his cittern. A wolf was in at one time or another to provide a duet but he’d long since gone by the early hours, perhaps away to a lady wolf.
For most of the night the ‘musicat’ played and sung as people drank and ate and waiters ran all about. He continued to play till only a handful of drunks remained, and the inn keep nudged him to stop.
It was three or more hours past midnight and Donny finished counting up the coins and the tabs. The doors were barred and the seats were up, save at one table where the bull sat down to dinner.
“How long did you say you’ve been a bard?” Donny asked between sips of mead.
“Just these past seven years or so.” Rourke shrugged.
“Then ye’d been more then a minstrel.” The bull mused. “If you’ve only been doing it the recent years of your life.”
“And what makes you say that?” The feline asked, giving his cittern a cursory tuning.
“I thought you young when I first saw you, perhaps it’s just the light but your fur is a shade of gray.”
“By the gods!” The cat spluttered and noticed the fur on his arms had gone from their pristine white to something more silver. Was the spell failing or was it something else? Rourke took a sip of his chocolate to calm his nerves.
“Granted I didn’t see any hair on you this morning when you came in! And it’s not the work of the curse you claim.” Donny mused.
“A cheap spell, I’ll admit... must be losing it’s sheen.” The feline answered and took a long sip of hot chocolate. Be damned if he’s going to down a mead at this hour and wake with a belfry in his head.
The sweet beverage seemed to have done the trick as he began to feel himself relax. “Tell me, inn keep,” He said slowly, “how did you come to run a place like this?”
The bull shrugged, “I’m not much for words or any good at stories, my father ran the tavern before me.” He answered, eating his soup, “He hid us in the cellar the first time Nasoj attacked, though the wizard never entered the keep back then, the second time I was of age and there was a hoard bearing down on the walls, I fought and became a beast of burden.”
“Master Donny, you are no beast anymore then I but that sounds more like a story of your curse.” The feline countered tiredly.
“Please forgive, these stories of years past always entwine themselves with the curse,” Donny shrugged, “My father passed on long before that happened though, taken by illness, I’ve been running the place ever since.”
“I’m feeling peckish...” The bard whispered, his eyes sagged and in a moment he collapsed.
The bovine blinked and sniffed the chocolate drink, “And here I am drinking weak mead like a child.”
A waitress prodded and examined the passed out cat and went pale, “He hardly has a beat!”
The bar staff promptly rushed the bard to the infirmary...
“Where am I?” Rourke asked himself.
“Chocolate is NOT for canids.” A harsh voice answered, “You near stopped your heart.”
“Canid?” The bard grumbled as he stirred, “I’m a man with the disguise of a cat!” He said and shot up out of the bed, “And the spell’s long since worn off by now! See?” He said and waved a furry hand at his... furry body, “Oh... bullocks.”
Coe rolled his eyes, “I do detect a whiff of feline but also canine, or more accurately wolf.”
“I’m a cat-wolf?!” He spluttered, “But I should be neither! I beat the curse! I beat it and danced on it’s grave!”
“Mr Danyals, I’ve no idea what you’re saying but you most certainly did not ‘beat’ the curse, you are a cat and a wolf and will be so till the day you die, you are not to go near chocolate, is that understood?”
Rourke said the only thing that came to mind, “Where’s my instrument?”
“It’s next to the bed,” he pointed, “A more pressing question would be what will you do now? Should you need help adapting or finding accommodation, we can...”
“What will I do now?” The bard interrupted confused and picked up his cittern, “Healer Coe, my body has changed but not my spirit, you of all people should know that,” he quipped, “or maybe you’d know this, where can I find a tavern in need of music and song?” The musicat-wolf spun on his foot paws and departed the infirmary.
He always did want to try new instruments and write new songs, and right that moment, he fancied a howl.