The Study of women

by Hawl Enroygall

Featuring a character created by Jon Buck and used with permission

Jean returned to her quarters. Though it wasn’t exactly what she believed it would be, her first week without a break in the fairer sex had already gifted her vast knowledge. Jean realized how precious little she actually understood about females. Such a mystery they were, Jean had spent company in the time of a few of those who had been transfigured from the masculine to the feminine and showed his notes to them asking for their opinions.

Most of them agreed that he had been over-thinking the subject, a few were quite creeped out, and a few gave smug comments that were actually helpful. Jean’s favorite was “I sit down to piss, and every month blood pours out of me as though there were a wound. Smarts like a rather grievous one at that. What beyond this is there to know, Sleeper?” Not only because it was rather amusing but because of the simplicity of the answer. It was entirely non-poetic and straight to the point, the precise opposite of what he understood women to be.

In every fairy tale, bit of gossip, manly exploit mentioned over a pint, and even in the way he had seen womenfolk, especially the younger members of it carry themselves. Perhaps femininity was somehow, dare she say it, a quality not of the body, but of the mind or spirit? Could this be the explanation for effeminate men and the parent’s worst fear, the dreaded tomboy? Maybe it provided an explanation for the highly controversial phenomenon known as homosexuality. In which men and women actually found romantic and sexual partners within their own sex. Though the romantic aspect of it had often been called into question. The Lothanasi were skeptical that it could be anything more than a lewd sexual perversion, the church had heard arguments to the contrary, but they were few, far between, and fell on deaf ears. It is possible they could be convinced, but it would take a large and well organized social movement the likes of which were unlikely to come across for a very long time. Definitely not in Jean’s lifetime as homosexuality carried a death sentence in many parts of Galendor. There had been a rumor that the Royal Family was to allow Princess Malisa to marry a former knight named Jenn, but it was nothing but a rumor.

If either of the churches were ever to allow it, the Followers would not be the first, as far they were concerned. Sex for any reason outside of reproduction was committing the deadly sin of lust and all must refrain from doing so, and repent vowing never to do it again if they do so or risk falling out of Eli’s good graces. Something that had a punishment as strict as being denied a chance to enter the kingdom of Heaven when their time for them to be called comes. Two men may never reproduce, nor may two women, and to offer them marriage gave them the temptation to sin and thus for the good of their souls homosexuality must never be enabled.

Jean was neither a Follower nor a Lothanasi, she was no atheist. That would be a silly stance to take considering the arcane forces and manifestations of the Gods’ will all around her. The deer merely had not seen proper reason for her to devote her life to the worship of any one entity as opposed to furthering the fields of knowledge and understanding. It just seemed more pertinent than stroking the egos of the divine, though she would word it a little nicer than that herself. Though it is not her intention to anger the gods, if there was knowledge to be learned in disobeying them he had no obligation to follow their lead or hold back. Thus she would write in on his planner to find and study a woman who took another woman as her mate. This would be rather difficult to do as mentioned before it is a most taboo subject and any maiden attempting such risque behavior would take the most complex and careful methods to hide herself if she had a single ounce of brain in her skull. There was of course the married couples where the husband was in the second gate while the wife was in the first or third, but somehow that felt inaccurate for her notes. Likely because that is not love sprung purely of womanhood but merely a fulfilling of the vow of marriage that reads till death do us part.

Jean finished compiling the last of her notes from Raleigh Chamberlain’s birthday celebration, something she considered not too fruitful as it was rather childish for a coming of age ceremony.  Still a few hypotheses were supported about the fragility of human aging and how it goes doubly for the fairer sex. Perhaps now would be a good time for a break at the Deaf Mule. Some alcohol and meat would fare well with her masculine side, especially to the raptor version of himself, herself, it was difficult to say as it was subject to change at a moment’s notice ever since he separated the feminine and masculine aspects of her, his, their psyche in attempt to upgrade his precious amulet. It allowed him many new abilities, though had given him new thirsts for knowledge thirsts that scared more than a few people.

As Jean was putting away her notes an unexpected visitor showed up at her chambers, a young man who perhaps used to be a woman. This man was dressed oddly in many layers of clothing, sporting an awful haircut and possessing black hair poorly hidden under a hat. No, Jean took one sniff at this person and pieced together everything. “Your highness? Why do you dress this way?”

“I know not what you mean archeologist!” The poorly disguised Princess Malisa said in a poor imitation of a man’s voice. “I am a former maiden of the keep. It seems Kyia is playing a jest upon me for I have found your room by mistake. I wish you well as I depart now.”

“You are wearing far too much clothing in summer, your voice could not pass for even the worst throat cold, you smell of a woman, but not of perfume. Yet at the same time, you smell and look far too clean to be of working class or lower. The Gender Reversed Knights smell similar, but they also reek of sweat due to having to wear armor all day, you have no such scent. Finally, your hands are dainty. If you are attempting to fool someone with a costume, I really hope for your sake that they are blind and stupid.” Jean said emotionlessly listing all faults in her grace’s disguise.

“...Damn you…” Malisa threw off some of her excess garments and sat down. The prime minister’s fist clenched in a quiet rage. “That was directed at Nasoj for cursing us with these bodies, I meant no disrespect towards you Jon.”

“I figured.” Jean got up, pouring Malisa some refreshment from a pitcher of sweet tea. He didn’t say anything as he did so until the prime minister looked at him strangely. Prompting him to speak once more. “...I have nothing alcoholic but I find a good cup of tea is calming to the nerves.”

“Thank you, it was hot in all those clothes.” Malisa said downing a goblet in one swig which Jean instantly refilled before she sat back down. “I just couldn’t think of a way to hide my bosom, these are as much as I can get them to shrink and I’m more well built than my birth mother and Duchess Alberta put together. I’ve been studying the spells used to partially cure the curse back at Three Gates to get them smaller, but no success.”

“I know, it was another thing that gave you away. Your walk is clearly that of a woman with wide hips attempting to imitate a regal man. Perhaps you would be more convincing if you imitated the march of some the lady knights.” Jean advised, pouring herself a goblet of tea. “Though I must ask, why the attempt to deceive others of your appearance?”

Malisa’s cheeks turned bright red with embarrassment as she looked at the scrolls of notes upon Jean’s desk. “Kyia did lead me here, perhaps for good cause. You do have a penchant for being far more open-minded than some would consider healthy, except perhaps by Pascal.” The princess stood still in case Jean wanted to laugh at her jest, when she didn’t she continued speaking. “What I’m about to tell you I will tell you, but it is to be kept secret under threat of treason. Do you still wish to know?”

“Yes, your highness.” Jean nodded, she had always been good at minding her own business, as such it was almost perfectly assured without her even saying anything that she wouldn’t tell a soul.

“I went to see Pascal and she suggested that I get back in touch with some of my masculine roots in order to better accept myself for what I have become. One thing she recommended was that I start dating Jenn again. So I arranged for us to spend the afternoon together, but if two women were caught holding hands in the marketplace and one of them happened to be the Prime Minister it would lead to a massive scandal. And a scandal is not what we need right now with our hands full of other matters like they are.” Malisa said, pausing for Jean to react. The silence went on for quite awhile and was beginning to become quite awkward. Fearing that Jean wasn’t going to change her facial expression from Listening to anything else, she continued her story. “So Jenn suggested that I disguise myself as a man in order to avoid any unwanted unexplainable complications.”

Jean grinned. This was too perfect, no sooner than she had decided that she needed to study the phenomenon known as lesbianism did the perfect test subject fall right into her lap. Perhaps she could convince Malisa to provide some funding for this research. Not so much as to draw attention, but a little to pay for supplies and meals. Maybe even hire some help. If the research proved fruitful, then she could talk about having a Gender Studies League formed. “Malisa, I believe Kyia did, in fact, lead you to my room intentionally.” she said, before digging a few items from his wardrobe. “I’ve been holding to these old clothes of mine. They still stink of a man out in the field which should help throw off any prying noses.” Jean said throwing them on the table. “They might be a little loose on you, but don’t worry about, that is actually preferable as it throws off your feminine curves.”

“It is why I still wear Matthew’s old robes…” Malisa nodded in agreement, though holding her nose at the clothes. They reeked of buck musk and she hoped not to have to wear them longer than she had to. “Thank you… Jon…”

“This alone won’t be enough. Your hands please?” Malisa held out her hands. They were just as Jean had put them, dainty, feminine, small, and cute. These would never pass for a man’s hands, not even the most spoiled of male monarchs have hands this clean and free of scars, blisters, or even so much as a papercut. They did smell of ink from Malisa’s heavy research into magic, but that alone wasn’t going to cut it unless she disguised as an enchanter. However the clothes for that disguise would be a lot smaller on her than most others. They could damage Malisa’s hands slightly, but it wasn’t that that her hands never got hurt just that the curse seemed to have hit her three times as hard as it did anyone else and it just refused to let Malisa be anything other than beauty incarnate. It didn’t matter how grimy, smelly, sickly, bruised, cut, or sweaty she got, for Princess Malisa Hassan re-beautifying herself was painfully effortless.

Jean fit onto Malisa’s hands old metallic chainmail gloves that seemed like they had not been used in some time. They smelt of blood and rust, likely having not been used in some time. “When Three Gates started I was in a rush to arm myself and grabbed whatever I could. These gauntlets and a bow and arrow where all I could find on such short notice. Though my hooves could never fit in them beyond that day they do make a good souvenir of the battle itself along with my being a cervine. If anyone asks, tell them you’re wearing these because your hands were badly damaged in an accident.”

“Wow, thanks again Jon. I guess your studies into womanhood are really paying off.” Malisa said in awe, looking over the gloves. They did a good job of hiding her hands, just as the doe named Jean promised that they would.

“Not really. All I’ve learned is how truly ignorant I am.” Jean said sounding defeated, yet hopeful. Her emotions were always difficult to read even when she was male. Sleeper was a lot of things, a social butterfly was not one of them. “I had expected when I became female that I would be a thing of beauty, that males would clamor for my attention. That all I did no matter how mundane would have a flair of mystique. That I myself would begin inducing that feeling that only a man is capable of when a woman has that…. something special.”

“I know what you mean Jon, the right girl can really make a man go wild. I can feel a stirring just thinking of such a woman.” Malisa smiled, leaning back in the chair she had been sitting in. “That moment her visage has ensnared your soul. It makes being alive worth it for some.”

Jean had no choice but to perform a double take at this, she knew what Malisa was doing. However to actually hear someone who was clearly female voice these opinions was a little new to her. It was as if one saw a blue apple. It’s still an apple, it tastes the same, but the color is off. Eventually you’d get used to the idea that the apple is blue, but for a time you just don’t know what to do with a blue apple. “I… I never thought about you… like that before…”

“I’m not a woman Jon, I only look like one. I have the same drives as any man would. When I see a beautiful woman I get the same urges to, well. It doesn’t lend itself to polite conversation.” Malisa sipped her tea calmly as she gathered her thoughts hoping to speak further upon the subject.

“Heh…” Jean said, already writing down more notes on her scrolls as she mentally prepared for more questions. “So you feel no affection towards men?”

Malisa grimaced, thinking back on her life. It was true that she had a few suitors willing to marry her for title alone. It was true that they would be ineligible for Dukehood should Thomas fall as Malisa was not a Hassan by blood, but still, being a Prince was nothing to sneeze at.. Almost none of them were found attractive in appearance or deed. Malisa did not appreciate being talked down to as though she were an idiot or having her skills called into question for being a woman. Especially when they often proved that they were mentally incapable of keeping up with her knowledge of history, literature, mathematics, and of course, advanced magical theory. Even the ones that treated her like a human being she found no fault with they just did nothing for her romantically or sexually and thus she wanted very little to do with them beyond the realm of friendship. Eventually she tried her hand at dating a woman. The idea came to her as at her heart she still felt like a man. As though the curse had altered her flesh, yet on the inside she was still Prince Matthew and a prince does not make for a very good bride.

There were objections to the idea, from family, from vassals, and from her church. Malisa was a worshipper of Samekkh and thus a practicing Lothanasi, Raven Blackmane was a runner-up for the most loud protestor in all this. Fearing that taking a woman as a partner was not an act of rebellion against the curse, but rather giving into the part of it that sought to turn its victims into ravenous sex fiends. Offering instead to guide Malisa down a path of abstinence and chastity which did have its own rewards. Some controversy was raised when Malisa responded that Samekkh showed her otherwise. A particularly blasphemous thing to say to a high priestess Lightbringer at the very least, to even begin to suggest that she is not the most accurate speaker in the house of the Gods.

Malisa had been spending so much time recounting the past, all the good times with Jenn and the bitter moments with Raven where Malisa almost had herself banned from visiting the Temple! The silence had been so long that even Jean, a woman of few words, began to worry that the princess may have turned catatonic as she had gone long without saying a word or answering her question. “Your Grace?”

“Oh sorry, what was the question again? I forgot what you said, though for some reason it surfaced very painful memories.” Malisa said rubbing her head as the visions from the past cleared.

“I asked if you had any feelings for members of the male sex.” Jean recounted the conversation before Malisa’s long silence of plundering her own thoughts for bitter repressed memories.

“No, no I don’t. Men do nothing for me. I just don’t have any attraction to them. Some of the others to fall to the Curse of the Second Gate do, and I am glad for them. Different strokes for different folks is the way of the world after all, but no. There is nothing about the male visage or attitude that I find pleasing.”  Malisa explained calmly.

“Male Attitude?” Jean’s ears perked in curiosity of the meaning.

“Yes. When I’ve had male suitors in the past they’ve.. treated me more like their pet, than their lover… I just, cannot stand being talked down to. I’m a scholar for crying out loud. I do not need to be talked down too.” Malisa folded her arms, but put them at rest to more calmly continue. “But I find when I talk to a woman, it’s…” she paused to find the correct wording. “Different. And well, I am an admirer of plump breasts so long as they are not mine.”

“How different?” Jean pondered, her quill hoof having almost literally caught fire in the excess of knowledge now provided to her.

“I’d love to explain Jon, but we really must not keep Jenn waiting and I still don’t know what to do about my voice or a worse give away, my breasts.” Malisa said, smooshing them together to exemplify what she meant. This action of self-groping proved needless as the wording was quite clear.

“I have just the thing, it would help both my notes and you. I refer to my amulet.” Jean said cusping the gem she wore around her neck at all times. “I have managed to upgrade its abilities through studies and experiments done with the aid of the mage’s guild. Upgrades that have not been without a price. Now I have to shift between my male, female, raptor, and deer forms to regularly to retain my sanity….” The deer rubbed her head as if it hurted. “I’ll have to take my male form soon… but, it can wait till after your date.”

“That would explain your newfound femininity, I had been wondering about that. The rumor had been circulating that you had created a form of armor that could serve as a mount, and this had turned you into a woman. A Radically Improved Durable Equine is what the grapevine has been calling it.” Malisa had expressed her own curiosities about this doe named Jean, a Jean Doe if you will.

“Ah yes the RIDEs.” Jean grimaced. “I had been doing some research, as there was some speculation of there once existing a kind of automaton that was animal shaped, much like Madog. Only unlike Madog they could double as an armor at the cost of taking on attributes similar to said Automaton.”

“I see… and they turned out false?”  Malisa nodded, finding this fascinating being a mage herself.

“Very. From what evidence I can find there are almost no accounts of such a thing from a credible source. I found a list of instructions on building one which I took to the Mage’s Guild only to find that they weren’t viable. I didn’t understand most of the terminology they used, but the biggest problem was that it seemed to require a stone that did not even exist on this plane of existence nor on any other that we know of.” Jean shrugged getting up and heading for the door, beckoning Malisa to follow. “All for the better I suppose, the accounts I’ve read are quite outlandish and would make for a tale that our Writer’s Guild would laugh right out of the province. I still get people heckling me to show mine off, but there’s nothing to show.”

“I understand having to put up with false rumors. Once upon a time people thought I and Jenn were scheduled to be wed. Blackmane must have either fainted or pulled her fur out from all the questions, comments, and complaints from people dumb enough to believe my father would be sacrilegious enough to allow such a thing .” Malisa got up to follow the deer outside of her office.

“I believe I’ve heard that one.” Jean nodded while looking around to make sure the two were alone. “Alright, just go where Jenn is waiting for you, I’ll take care of the rest.”

Malisa found this strange, but saw no harm in continuing. She trusted Jean and had no reason to doubt her intentions. Still, this was enough of a disguise? Her breasts were still evident, if not breasts then surely someone would believe this man was smuggling roasted hams under his smelly tunic and find her strange for this reason. Eventually they found their way to the gardens where Jenn was already waiting for them in a beautiful blue dress, one with a skirt that draped over her legs like a proper woman while showing enough cleavage to be tasteful and ladylike while still enticing male lookers-upon.

Jenn had a very different reaction to the curse, while Malisa found this to be the worst thing to ever happen to her. Jenn felt relieved, as if a massive weight had been taken off her shoulders. Suddenly Jenn found that she could live a life she didn’t realize she wanted except in the back of her mind. Buried there for years under manly exploits with wenches, booze, and prowess in battle. The chance to be something other than a man. It wasn’t the life she chose or even the one she wanted, she was birthed a man and a man’s life was that she followed without question for she was supposed to and nothing could change that, nothing but the curse. Once she became a woman, she was able to lay down her sword and enjoy a simpler lifestyle. One that didn’t put her at risk for premature death or crippling injury.

This was not to say that Jenn didn’t enjoy being a man when it was her time, but now that the time was up she found being a woman to be even more agreeable than the hypothetical idea of returning to the body of a man. Still she accepted that Malisa did not have the same opinions, it was part of why the princess loved her so dearly. Jenn was able to see the parts of Malisa that were still Matthew far more strongly than anyone, even Malisa herself was capable of.

“MATT!” Jenn called out, running towards Malisa when she saw her. Hugging her, wrapped her arms around her in an embrace of passion. “I got your letter and uhh… who is she? The deer I mean.” she asked noticing the doe following behind her.

“Jean Sleeper” Jean answered, giving a polite even if awkward curtsey.

“Right, the archeologist. I didn’t recognize you. Uhh… Prime Minister! It is good to see you taking an interest in…. uhh…” Jenn began stuttering thinking of how to excuse her actions.

“Jean knows and has been sworn to secrecy. Let’s not worry.” Malisa smiled, putting her hand on Jenn’s cheek and looking her over. “That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing my sweet.”

“I picked it out just for you Matt. It’s been too long since we’ve seen each other without it being just an awkward passing in the hallway. Are you sure this is okay?" Jenn asked a tone of fearfulness in her voice.

“It’ll be fine, don’t mind me, but I’ll need to stay close by for my amulet to work. Just pretend I’m not here.” Jean informed in a calm emotionless voice as if she didn’t realize the idea of her being the third wheel was somewhat socially awkward.

“Okay then…” Jenn said in a soft voice, she wasn’t sure what was happening right now but Malisa seemed fine with this and the two continued on their date. The lovers of former knight and former prince were just happy to be able to actually be in one another’s company. The two sometimes worried people would be a little disgruntled about them being just friends due to the old rumors from a long time ago, when the beaver known as Michael came to the keep, long before there was a Rat of Might.

Malisa insisted upon staying in the garden just long enough to know if Jean’s amulet could work as promised, it would be a real shame if they found out it didn’t during the middle of a kiss. So they wound up ,aking small talk until they found a passerby, after all if they were just in the garden together at the same time it could be written off as a coincidence. It was boring sure, but they needed to play it safe.

After a few minutes passed as no one came by Jenn breathed in and out and began drumming on the bench she was sitting on as Jean scribbled some notes down in her notebook. “Uhh… Matt honey… if this is our first date in years, just staying in the garden doing nothing. Well how should I put this, I.. I think I’m gonna go…wash my hair...” Jenn finally said her boredom outweighing her desire to be lovey dovey with her handsome prince.

Malisa began getting frantic wondering how she could salvage this situation. Not only would Jean’s experiment and kindness be blown, but more importantly the first chance she had in a long time to let her heart do what it wanted. The Prime Minister considered falling to her knees to beg Malisa to stay, but such did not fit a royal attitude. Another thing that was considered was forming a magical barrier to prevent Jenn from leaving, but that would be raising arms against the woman she loved and could ruin everything even worse than a bad date. Exiting the barrier of Jean’s protection Malisa ran after Jenn, Jean rushing forward upon noticing this as he noticed Pascal Q. Porcupine entering the garden to find a few fresh ingredients. This would be a really good test as someone who pitched this idea would be unable to recognize it in action, and if that happened then they knew for sure it worked.

Pascal looked up at Malisa and Jenn, Malisa’s hand upon Jenn holding her tight. The porcupine was looking them right in the eye during this embrace and said the following words that would make or break this romantic evening. “Hey Jenn, and you too… uhh… sorry have we met? There’s something familiar about you, I know I’ve seen you somewhere, but I can’t place where. I keep thinking of a girl’s name, but you’re not a woman. Did you used to be a woman I know? No no, I haven’t seen anyone uncursed since before I left to gather supplies and that was before the plague started.”

Malisa looked towards Jean who nodded in approval. “I’m Jenn’s boyfriend, Matthew.”

“Huh, her ex was once called Matthew. Crazy world eh? Whelp, Jenn if you see Malisa… Tell her hi or something. I think she could really use it.” Pascal waved at the two as she left.

“Perfect, now we have fun!” Malisa smiled, something she hardly ever does as she grabbed Jenn’s hand and escorted her to the market place, making sure Jean followed close behind for his amulet to distort reality as others saw it.

Their first stop was a good place for a date to begin, the marketplace, luckily the amulet seemed to hold up as no saw anything out of the ordinary or even gave Malisa any kind of royal greeting. People just said hi to Jenn and ignored Malisa entirely. It was perfect as now they had a relatively stress free day together doing all the things they could have done had they been opposite genders. Malisa bought flowers for Jenn, the two played pool at the Deaf Mule, and best of all they enjoyed public displays of affection. Holding hands, hugging, kissing, a few times with their tongues, it was marvelous. It all seemed perfect except for Jean who was baffled by his notes. The doe couldn’t find any differences between Malisa and Jenn’s love outside of the genders of the persons involved. This didn’t make sense to the cervine, there had to be something she was missing about this. Why would it be controversial if it didn’t truly have a difference outside of the bodies of the parties involved? That would be as silly as saying that Jean could only love another person who happened to be an archeologist or got turned into a deer. No no, there had to be something the deer was missing to this.

Jean decided to ease up for a bit, giving up on taking notes to just enjoy herself. It seemed much easier this way as she licked a few sugarcubes while Malisa and Jenn enjoyed turkey legs. The deer sat there rather bored with her sugar cubes until she noticed something peculiar, a red skinned man who looked like Pascal’s apprentice Xhyz did before he changed, she decided to point it out to Malisa and all three stared at him. Jean seemed to be correct in her observations. There was indeed a red skinned man. This sight was highly unusual as most humans or at least most of them seen around Metamor Keep were white, but one that looked exactly like Xhyz when he was human?  There was no way this was any kind of concidence.

“Did Xhyz find a cure for the curse?” Jenn asked trying to rationalize what the doe pointed out to her and her lover.

“Do you think I’d have invited Jean if he did?” Malisa answered that question with another question. “No offense Jean”

“None taken.” Jean responded, before thinking for a second of a way to shed light on this mystery. The deer reached the only conclusion imaginable and would with the most obvious solution. “HEY Xhyz!” she screamed in the red man’s general direction.

The red skinned man became nervous and threw a rock at Jean, damaging his amulet and revealing Malisa to the public sitting next to Jenn, more than a few stares were given. “Are they? Are they really doing this again?” Asked a very shocked bluejay who put her wing over her beak in surprise.

“What’s the Duke going to say about this? Do you think he’s approving of this? That man is a practicing Lothanasi!” Spoke another voice.

“Damn it, damn it, damn it!” Jean sweared fiddling with the amulet until whatever about that rock disrupted the amulet stopped which it didn’t seem to until Jean found the rock and threw it away. He didn’t have time to examine the rock very well, but she was sure she hadn’t seen one that glowed in the presence of magical artifacts and stopped when not in it. “I’m sorry Prime Minister…”

“It’s, not your fault, it happened as soon as Not Xhyz threw that weird rock at us. I’ll have our mages study it.” Malisa said going into business mode as she usually did in most circumstances, but at no other point was she as in the zone as when she was truly upset as she was at this very moment.

“Matt, they saw us.. I mean they started looking away like they forgot when the amulet started working again, but… what do we do?” Jenn asked.

“...That was too close of a call Jenn… I shouldn’t have attempted this… I’m sorry” Malisa ran off with tears in her eyes making sure to grab the rock to give to Pascal. Malisa hated crying, it made her feel like even more of a woman than she already was.

Jenn looked at Jean. “Is… is Matt going to be okay?”

“I’ve wanted to know that for a long time…” Jean responded decided to go back to his male deer form, Jon. Course first he had to cycle through velociraptor both male and female before getting back to deer as the method was far from perfected.

Malisa was so upset from what had happened she almost forgot to drop off the rock at the mage’s guild. While in her room they eventually sent a courier to inform her that from what they had been able to tell her it was a rare Cancellation Stone, so rare that Jon hadn’t even heard of it and he’s an archeologist, many of them had recently been found in the town of Mugal, where Hawl came from. What did it mean? The Princess/Prime Minister didn’t want to think about it. All Malisa wanted to do was stay in her room and think about  the mess that her desire to employ trickery almost caused,  people were growing suspicious of the Duke which was by far no sign of anything good. The courier, an age regressed little boy, had seen himself out after realizing Malisa wasn’t willing to acknowledge another person.

“Why is there a such a heavy divide between what is right and what is proper? Nasoj you bastard you stole my manhood, why did you steal my ability to follow my heart as well?!?” Malisa screamed as she conjured a fireball and burned one of her dresses. “I’m a man damn it, I deserve to love my girlfriend like any other man. But men… men don’t cry… maybe I really am a…”

That’s when Jon came in. “I overheard everything..” He said. “I just wanted to show you some of the notes I took. I couldn’t find any difference between you dating Jenn and a man dating Jenn. That’s why I turned back into Jon. I don’t know that there’s really anything to study in gender, I think we’re all just crazy humans...:” Jon paused for a second. “You know what I mean. Who don’t really know what’s going on.. and we’re all just taking wild guesses. about what we don’t understand. That’s all…” Jon said, putting down a few parchments on Malisa’s table and started to leave .

“Jon!” Malisa called after the deer, hoping that he would stop to hear one final word. Just one word, though it would be enough to properly convey the emotions as finally Malisa found an answer. To follow her heart and do the only right thing in this circumstance.

“Yes?” Jon looked towards the gender-reversed human.

“Thanks.” The Prime Minister responded, throwing her arms around him in a hug.

Malisa looked out her window and saw Jenn alone at an outdoor table and smiled at her, deciding to go back down one more time to speak with her.

Jenn sat there with her pretty blue dress that really drove Malisa wild with how good it looked on her, no, that thought had to be banished. “Jenn…” Malisa said, reaching a hand out and putting it on her lover’s.

“Matt… You can’t be here! You don’t have Jon’s amulet!” Jenn panicked, looking around highly concerned for her and the kingdom’s safety. “They can tell you’re a… woman...”

Malisa just looked at Jenn. “I don’t understand why there’s a difference between what is right, and what is proper, but there is. Thus for the good of Metamor I can’t date you. Maybe if I was a commoner it could work.”

Jenn started to cry, until Malisa brushed her hair lightly. “But this distance we’ve put between each other is crazy, I care about you, and I want to be there for you. Even if I can’t be romantically, because I love you as crazy as that sounds.”

Jenn’s tears dried and she hugged Malisa, nothing fancy, just a friendly hug. The kind you give a distant relative at a family gathering or a perhaps just a good friend.

A passerby looked at this sight and was about to say something, but Malisa just smiled and said. “Hey, I care about her. That doesn’t mean I want to kiss her.” this seemed to work for him.

Malisa stood on the table and did the only thing she could in order to have Jenn back in her life again. “Here ye, here ye. I am Prime Minister Princess Malisa Hassan, and I have taken a vow of abstinence! Not in the name of what’s proper, but what’s right!”

Jenn looked up Malisa, praying that her eyes decieved her and that the woman she loved wasn’t about to make a terrible mistake. “Do you think people will believe that? You’re setting yourself up for more gossip”

Malisa was worried that Jenn was right and this gesture was wasted as there was a terrible silence., that was when she heard the clapping. Her father and Thallberg had been out for a walk, and started clapping, then by mother of coincidences so had Pascal, Xhyz, and Jon, once they started clapping. Everyone started clapping.

“This is cause for celebration, my daughter has vowed to keep her purity as a sign of her choosing to be stronger than the curse, that our hearts are not our… Well let’s just say, our hearts are not our parts. Truly she is as wise as a Prime Minister should be! I’ll have the Deaf Mule put drinks on my tab for everyone!” Duke Thomas cheered, raising an arm in triumph to help sell what he just said.

Malisa couldn’t believe it, after this, no one would be suspicious of her being merely friends with Jenn now. Now Malisa could have Jenn not as a lover, but someone she cares about because the truth was that she did more than any other person in the world. The Prime Minister did the only thing she could think to do. Hug her father. “Thank you, but how did you know to be here just at the right time?”

The Black Maned Brown Stallion Duke of Metamor smiled. “A deer told me after seeing you and Jenn through the window. There aren’t many things outside of the safety of Metamor that matter to me more than your happiness and if there’s a way to give someone as serious and scowling as you happiness. I need to jump on it!”

“I see..” Malisa looked over to Jon while still holding on to her father. “Whelp, Sleeper what’s it going to be? The guillotine or the noose? I don’t think we’ve had a public execution in a very long time.”

“Excuse me!?!” Jon jumped, his mouth agape at the incredibly dark question addressed at him.

“Well… That is how we deal with traitors.” Malisa sneered, the sincerety to her facial expression made the poor deer’s heart come to a stop. He even considered switching over to his raptor form in means of an escape, considered it, but didn’t follow through, at least not until he saw where this is going.

“TRAITOR!?!?!” Thomas looked to the cervine with his eyes in pure horror. Jon Sleeper the archeologist, a traitor to Metamor? He’d sooner have expected Rickkter or maybe even the strict but fair Prince Phil of Whales than the timid keep to himself explorer. “What did you do Jon!?!”

“Remember, I had you sworn to secrecy under threat of treason that you wouldn’t tell anyone about me and Jenn and you broke it.”

“Mmmm.. That he did. I don’t know Jon, rules are rules I may have to place you under arrest.” Duke Thomas unsheathed a sword he carried on his person, ordinarily it was used only for ceremonial purposes rarely if ever did the Duke arrest anyone. “I Duke Thomas Hassan place you under arrest for High Treason to be given life imprisonment until the day you die or until such a time as you are deemed worthy of a pardon!” he spoke with conviction in his voice.

Thallberg actually had to insist nothing was wrong to avoid people from taking too much interest.

Jon’s ears lowered thinking of the words to say. The deer hadn’t known the Duke to be this much of an iron fisted tyrant of a man-horse hybrid. Should he go raptor and strike the stallion or beg for mercy. Wisely he decided only to kneel and hope for the best.

The Duke laughed to himself before re-sheathing his sword. “And you’re pardoned! Jon did you really think I was about to have you arrested over nothing?”

Jon rose to his hooves and let out a small laugh. “Good one your highness…”

Thallberg and Malisa both turned to the Duke with concern in their eyes. “Your highness, was that joke really worth the small scene you just caused.”

“I appreciate the humor on my behalf, but I agree with Thallberg on this one father.” Malisa responded.

“Lighten up Malisa.” Duke Thomas addressed those who watched him. “It was just a small inside joke between me and Jon everybody, let’s get those drinks out here like I said!” No one wanted there to be anything wrong and there were free drinks as such no one cared, not even a small note from a vassal would come from this.

-that night-

Jenn made her way to Malisa’s room and found her in a rather good mood. “I knew you’d be coming. I still can’t believe Dad did that for me, people find his joke with Jon stranger than the two of us interacting in public… I wonder if that’s why he made a spectacle of himself. So he’d be remembered more than us.”

“So we can see each other, just not be affectionate in public..”

“That’s right..” Malisa said standing up and began brushing Jenn’s hair. “We can be a little affectionate in private, but, I don’t make vows lightly. So nothing TOO affectionate.”

Jenn hugged Malisa and rested her head against her love as she was pet on her head as though she were some kind of cat. “I… I’d like that.”

For the rest of that night, Malisa found herself genuinely at peace.

"The Study of women", copyright Hawl Enroygall