Lord of Change – Part 7

Ouran gazed at the sand beneath his feet, feeling the grains between his toes. He had assumed the form of a young human for this outing, with dark black hair and deeply tanned skin. He knew that if he looked in the water he would see a black mask around his eyes – it was the only thing he couldn’t change anymore, which he supposed was okay. He liked the mask. Simple, but striking.

Besides, he’d learned since then what he’d gotten in exchange: Not only were his transformations more stable, simpler to pull off and less tiring, but all of reality was his to shift and change.

“So what happens now?”

He looked down and to his left to see Sihlk, in the form of a wolf with hooves for some reason, trotting alongside him with light purple fur. Her ears flopped around a bit while she stared up at him, awaiting an answer from the newborn god.

Ouran shrugged. “I really don’t know.” He admitted. “I mean, I guess I’m supposed to… go out and use this power, right?”

She cocked an eyebrow, making it glow luminescent for dramatic effect. “Shouldn’t you do what you wanna?”

“Yes, Sihlk, that’s the problem. It’s not like I want to sit around and do nothing, but I honestly have no idea what to do. I’m free of my past, but I have no idea what to do for the future.” They turned and moved off of the beach, further inland towards the forest

“Make Althra a grave?”

“I hated her.”

“With her name changed to ‘Moron McWitchenstein?”

“Too much work for too crude a joke.”

She shifted into a horse. “Declare war on Creator-Father-Mother?”

“… WHY WOULD I DO THAT?!”

“I dunno. Seems like fun.”

“……”

“For you, I mean. I’d still be on its side.”

“Gee Sihlk, suggesting I go get myself killed for fun and adding you’ll be trying to kill me too. You’re a great friend.”

Sihlk shrugged. “Turn into a school?”

“I’ve lived maybe a year, I shouldn’t be teaching anyone.”

“I meant the building.”

“I don’t wanna sit down in one place for a year with a bunch of bratty messy children inside me.”

“Well, we could go look after the human tribe we left behind? With Althra gone, they might be willing to worship you.

“Ehhhh… Even if I liked the idea of worship, I’d be kind of a bad leader.”

“True.” Sihlk admitted, raising a hand to her chin as she stood up onto two legs. “How about we just go someplace?”

Ouran sighed and looked down. “Go where? I know nothing of the world…” He cocked an eyebrow. “And for whatever reason you won’t tell me?”

“What fun would that be?” Sihlk frowned, sprouting a tentacle to rub at her chin. “Ya know, I’ve heard that in the north, when a person has lost their whole past and has no future worth mentioning, they go out onto what’s called Bjor’Pered…” She bounced, suddenly grinning broadly. “Yeah!!! ‘Wander like our goal’! We’ll go a-wanderin’, righting wrongs and telling stories of what we see! We’ll have our ups and downs, and get to be utter hams with cheesy lines like ‘At the end of the day, we’ve all seen the sun set’! It’ll be great!”

“…Why?”

“If you have to ask ‘why’ you’ve missed the point already.” Sihlk grinned.

“I mean, why are you coming with me?”

Sihlk blinked. “Cuz you’re my friend.”

“So you’ll go off on a journey of who-knows-how-long… because I’m your friend?”

“Of course not. That’s why I’m going with you.” She stuck out her tongue.

Ouran blinked twice, then smirked. “You’re strange.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

Ouran’s smirk turned into a warm smile. “No.”

And so Sihlk, the first Bard, and Ouran, the Lord of Change, began their journeys… Their adventures were many and their exploits legendary. From the calming of the Revenant Storm to dethroning of the Witch-Queen, these two friends would conquer problems mundane and fantastic across the world… but such are tales for another day.

For now, such is the origin of the Wandering God and Sihlk the Bard. 

It may even be true.

Lord of Change – Part 6

Sihlk awoke, groggily looking around. As she stood, she gripped her forehead with the remaining paw of her massive bear form. The forest was burned and frozen (she filed that under ‘weird – figure out later’) all around her. She knew that Althra would’ve just finished her off and she hoped knew Ouran wouldn’t have just left her there, so they couldn’t have gone far.

Maybe the massive crater in the forest might be near one of them? Just a thought.

She looked for either of them as she slowly but surely regrew her missing limb. Cauterizing a missing limb so you don’t bleed out? That was easy for her. Growing the limb back? That took a while. Ouran could do it faster than she could…

Speaking of Ouran HOLY S***!

She gasped aloud at the sight of Ouran’s broken and mangled body, impacted into the tree. She didn’t need to know much about raccoons – this thing was either dead or soon to die.

No, She thought frantically, shaking as she approached the raccoon. Nononononononono, you’re my friend, taking her down was my idea, you can’t die here, not now!

She shifted in a bird, grabbed up the broken raccoon, and flew to the sea. Her Creator-Father-Mother could fix this. She knew it. It was chaos incarnate – it could change Ouran’s fate.

And so Sihlk flew across the sea, her dead friend gripped in her talons. It would all be okay, she knew. The Creator of Chaos itself could do anything. The fact that a god couldn’t create life was irrelevant. The fact that resurrection wasn’t possible was irrelevant. The fact that Creator-Father-Mother was a god/goddess and probably wouldn’t care about some mortal wizard’s experiment gone wrong didn’t matter. The fact that Sihlk was just trying to convince herself was completely irrelevant and in no way mattered at all.

Describing the entrance to the domain of the Chaos god is an exercise in futility. In all the years she’d lived, the shapeshifter had never seen it in the same form twice. She would blink, and it would be someplace completely different. Today, it was an upside-down castle made of stone, belching fire into the air. It- wait, no, she blinked. Now it was a flying boat that looked like it was made of bismuth crystal… with doors made of coal and shaped like muffins.

Uh… okay.

She went through the doors by wrapping herself around them first (She dunno, you try and make sense of this stupid boat), and found herself in the realm of chaos.

And if you even want her to try to describe the realm of chaos itself, you’re doing it wrong.

As Sihlk finished her tale, the Creator of Chaos said nothing.

“Please… he’s my friend, he can’t die…”

The Creator hung its head. “I’m sorry.” It said quietly. “I am not happy he died, especially not after saving you, but…”

“…But…” She gestured. “The Realm of Chaos… it… Titans can make life, right?!” Desperation. “You said there was a Titan here…”

“A dead Titan, Sihlk.” The Creator reminded her. “Its death was how I learned I cannot control the Realm.” It knelt to Ouran’s body and brushed fingers over the raccoon’s eyes, closing them. “Death is a change that cannot be undone.” The Creator stood.

The Realm suddenly shuddered, and the Creator looked up. The Realm began to beat like a heart. The Creator’s eyes shot wide. He grabbed Sihlk and hauled her aside.

“Creator-Father-Mother?!

It said nothing. The energy in the realm suddenly converged on the raccoon

The Creator blinked. “Uh… what are you doing?”

“Nothing, I just-”

“Not you, Sihlk, the Realm.”

And the Creator felt something.

Change.

Possibility.

Life.

Suddenly the raccoon coughed.

Sihlk was back next to him in an instant. “Y-you’re alive?!”

The Creator blinked. “… that’s uh… different.”

Ouran turned his head at the sound of the voice, and realized two things. First, while Althra had needed to claim her position on the throne of godhood, the thing before him needed no such claim: it simply was on that throne.

Secondly, Ouran could feel change and possibility in every fiber of his being. He needed no claim either – he was a god.

The newly-ascended Lord of Change blinked twice. “…This isn’t going to end well, is it?”

 

Lord of Change – Part 5

Ouran changed his fur into fireproof scales before the wall even came close. That wasn’t to say the flames didn’t burn, they just didn’t burn as much, or set him alight as they should have. Ouran charged forward before he saw Althra blowing into the air. Ice flowed from her mouth and coated the ground before him. He quickly jumped and sprouted wings, charging for his old creator. He slammed into her shield, bounding back off of it. Althra’s hand suddenly flared with lightning and she lashed out at the raccoon.

“Funny.” She growled. “If it hadn’t been for me, you’d still be a raccoon. What an ungrateful creature you turned out to be.”

“You tried to kill me and were incompetent enough to not only create me in the first place, but FAIL to check for a body.”

“You fell off a cliff!” She yelled, turning herself invisible. “It was a reasonable assumption.”

“Ah right. I forget you could never be wrong. Must be my fault for not dieing properly, then.”

She roared. “DON’T YOU MOCK ME!!” A bolt of lightning flew from behind Ouran and zapped him, right in the back. He yelped out as all that power flowed into him, ravaging his body. He fell down on his belly.

Sihlk’s flesh turned from bright purple to white in an instant. “Oh Creator… OURAN!!”

“Your turn.”

Sihlk dodged Althra’s fireball and shot at the wizard, wrapping around her like a giant snake. Suddenly Althra’s body became wreathed in flame, and Sihlk shrieked as she released the wizard.

“Do you understand now?” Althra sneered at the white snake, trying to pull itself up. “I. Am. A. Goddess.”

“You are tiny.” Sihlk sneered. “You know nothing of godhood, little human.”

Althra’s sneer faded. She faced her open palm straight towards Sihlk. “Perish in flames for your hubris, mortal.”

“Ouran was right, you DON’T check for bodies, do you?”

Althra blinked at the purple snake. “What are you talking about?”

“Where’s Ouran’s body?” Sihlk suddenly was a badger, and that badger was digging into the ground as quickly as it could.

Althra was arrogant, but she was not a complete idiot. A quick glance confirmed that Ouran’s body was gone. As she fired flames down at the badger (ignoring its howls of agony) She looked around, trying to find where Ouran would have gone. There was nothing she could see, but she wasn’t humble enough to believe Ouran had anything better to do than get himself killed fighting her.

There was a rustling of tree limbs behind her. She turned, eyes wild with fire… and those quickly changed to complete shock and horror.

A massive reptilian creature nearly four times her size thundered towards her on a pair of massive, muscular legs. It had teeth as tall as she was, and as it roared, she felt it reverberate throughout every fiber of her being. She immediately focused her energy on the barrier around her. The reptile slammed into her, enclosing its teeth around the barrier but unable to envelop her utterly. It instead pushed her along the ground to smash into a cliff.

The reptile suddenly shrunk back down into a raccoon. Althra was embedded in the wall, eyes shut and blood leaking from her lips. Ouran smirked as Sihlk came up from the ground a little to the side, assuming the form of a horse and grinning wide.

“There! Feel better now?” She grinned, turning her head to the side to look at Ouran.

“… A little.” He admitted, chuckling. “But… I dunno, I guess I expected more. Like a final badass transformation or something… Ah well, I guess reality isn’t always-”

A bolt of energy shot straight into Sihlk’s shoulder.

Time seemed to slow down as Ouran and Sihlk both slowly turned their heads to see the small hole left by the bolt. It stayed slow as Althra muttered a word Ouran didn’t hear.

Sihlk’s leg suddenly exploded from the hole in her leg downward. She screamed and fell over, blood pooling beneath her. She twitched, her color shifted once more, and she laid still.

Ouran was quiet for a moment that seemed to stretch into eternity.

“A slow death from blood loss – fitting for such a beast. You’re next, abomination.”

Ouran didn’t speak for another moment. “Sihlk was fun. Happy. Bright.” He slowly turned to look at the wizard. “And you just blew her leg off.”

Althra sneered. “After working with a creature like you she deserves far worse than that. Ready to die, raccoon?”

“This was her idea.” He said quietly, as if ignoring her. “She wanted me to put all of this behind me. And she was right – this whole mess with you DID weigh on my soul. It’d been months and I still wouldn’t stop talking to her about it. And you shot off her leg.”

Althra’s sneer faded, eyebrow cocked. “… So are you just going to LET me put another shield up?”

“… She was kind. Too kind to deserve that. Sure, she’ll be able to cauterize herself if she regains consciousness, but I don’t know if she can regrow that limb.”

“… Hello? Archenemy here?”

“…We’re miles from her home. And even if I bring her there, she can’t swim back with one limb missing.”

“Hellooooo? Goddess regaining focus?!… I did say my defenses were down, right?”

“… You hurt my friend. My only friend.”

“You gonna shut up and actually DO something any time soon?”

“……..You’ll pay for this.” He snarled, feeling rage begin to boil in his blood. “I will make s-”

Althra was pointing at him before he could strike, and with a blast of lightning, Ouran slumped to the ground. “-uch a nice trophy? Yes, indeed you will.” She sneered. “Well, I suppose that should about wrap things up here-”

Sihlk coughed, and Althra glanced. The creature had closed its wound, and while still not entirely awake, the purple horse-thing was no longer bleeding. It was even shifting in its sleep – imagine that. It was only a matter of time before it regained consciousness. She sighed and walked over to the creature.

Ouran raised his head from the ground. He couldn’t move, and he watched Althra raise her hand above her head.

“I don’t know what you are, little monster…” Althra said coldly, flames leaping into her hand. “But when you get to the afterlife, tell your creator to try harder next time.”

Something in Ouran suddenly surged with energy and rage. This woman had taken everything from him – his old identity, his life (well, tried to, and failed miserably), and even his form… and now she wanted to take away his only friend.

Energy surged through the raccoon, and Ouran was on his feet and running before he realized he could move again. “NO!”

A massive monkey with melon-sized muscles made to grab Althra and throw her into the rock face. She suddenly ducked, however, whirled on Ouran, and shot the fireball at his face. He didn’t care. Burns on him meant none on Sihlk. His eyes were gone but she didn’t move fast enough for that to matter – He slammed his fist into the wizard’s face, pushing forward through the pain and forming new eyes on the monkey’s belly. All of them burned with anger as he charged towards her new position next to a broken tree.

Althra disappeared and reappeared twenty feet above. She faced both of her palms downward and shot a plethora of fireballs. Ouran didn’t even notice his arms blow off. He shifted into a massive bird and screeched upwards for the wizard.

The Wizard screeched back, and hers had the wail of a banshee within it. Ouran’s ears began to bleed, but he ignored it. Another spell he’d take for Sihlk.

He raked his talons forward and caught her in the stomach. He then shifted into a massive grey blob, bringing Althra down to earth. As he did so, Althra placed her palms against his body and lightning suddenly coursed through both of them. As she howled in pain, Ouran was glad.

They crashed into the ground, and Ouran released her, changing the talons into stumpy legs to match his grey form. The wizard stood, and flames danced in her hands.

“Abomination…” Her eyes widened with insane rage. “How dare you…”

The creature pawed at the ground, ready to charge.

Althra screamed, and this time brought up enough lightning that every tree around them fried as well as Ouran. He roared and charged through the pain, slamming her into a tree. Althra coughed up blood and started slamming her electrified fists into his body. She was ignoring the pain too, now.

“I’LL KILL YOU!!” She screamed. “I’LL KILL YOU AND THIS TIME YOU’LL DIE!!”

Ouran changed into a bull, goring the wizard, and tossed her farther away from the cliff Sihlk was unconscious at. Althra stood and coughed up more blood, eyes wild and crazy now.

“YOU… I… I’LL KILL YOU!! I’LL KILL YOU TO DEATH!!” She slammed her lightning-charged palms together, and a massive lightning bolt flew from her hands, slamming into Ouran and punching him through half a dozen trees. Ouran gasped, and as he slumped to the ground checked the damage… she’d blown apart his guts. That was more than fatal.

…No! If he died, Sihlk would…

He stood, and in the back of his mind, it occurred to him that he wasn’t feeling any pain that he should have. He filed it under ‘don’t care’ and shifted into a large cat. He charged forward as fast as he could, trying to find Althra. He burst into the clearing and found Althra laying against a tree, holding her own gut. He saw that the recoil of the spell had blown her guts apart as well.

…It would be so easy to just walk forward and slit her throat. Watch the life drain from her eyes. End it for sure, once and for all.

… But he was dieing, Sihlk might need help and he didn’t particularly care what Althra did.

“… If you survive,” He said coldly, “Don’t come after me or Sihlk. Because next time, I won’t let you live.”

He said nothing more to her, shifting back into his raccoon form.

It wasn’t until Althra’s final curse took effect that he realized the wizard was already dead.

Her body exploded, lightning, ice and fire all exploding outward. The shockwave carried him far and in the direction of the cliff, though he slammed into a tree before he made it all the way.

…Sihlk… my friend… Thank you. For everything…

His eyes fell shut… he wondered if-

Lord of Change – Part 4

Four months later…

Sihlk just stared at what was before her. “… You told me she was arrogant, but… this is just…”

“I know, right?” Ouran said dryly, flicking his ringed tail.

The two were disguised as an Owl and a raccoon, respectively, gazing down on the village Althra had taken over as chief and goddess.

…Seriously.

“I mean, I can see why the villagers would see a wizard as a god-”

“I can’t.” Sihlk muttered, turning her head and changing her eye color from yellow to bright purple. “Comparing a wizard to a goddess is like comparing a minnow to a giant squid.”

“Well, they haven’t seen anything more powerful than her before.” Ouran growled, twitching his ears irritably. “Or as self-assured. It’s probably overwhelming to them, and without a real god to latch onto…”

Sihlk shrugged and flipped upside down on the branch, twisting her beak into an impossible grin. “Sooner or later some prophet or actual god will arrive to put her in her place.”

Ouran cocked an eyebrow at her, shifting the patterns on his tail into an arrow, which he pointed at her. “This was YOUR idea. I honestly don’t care what she does.”

“Well you better change your mind and START caring, because we’re gonna kill her. That’s the favor you owe me for Shifting lessons.”

“…Why do you care?”

“Huh?”

“I’m the one who was tortured, subjected to numerous magical potions and rituals to make me into a shapeshifting monster, and tossed into an ocean to drown after nearly being set on fire and I honestly do not care about this arrogant waste of flesh. Why do YOU care?”

She just stared at him, blinking massive owl eyes. “Because YOU don’t. So I’m going to.”

Ouran stared right back. “You’re weird.”

Althra slapped aside the well-cooked salmon. “I hate fish!” She spat. “Bring me your beef!” She sat down on her throne carved from stone and covered in sheepskin as the young supplicant left the tent, shoulders sagging. She scratched her neck, grumbling about an itch.

Silence had fallen around the village as her subjects settled in for the night. It was calm and quiet, and the world was at peace. She knew it to be so – everything had gone exactly as it should be. She had made herself leader of these people with an impressive display of magic, and she was on her way to becoming a goddess in her own right.* Everything in the world was perfect, and she deserved everything it had to offer for slaying that little abomination Ouran and tossing him into the sea.

“Oh gods this hurts!”

Sihlk swore. “No no no, lift with your knees, not your back!”

“You have any idea how hard it is to lift a tree?! You could’ve at least helped me pull it out of the ground!! Why are these roots thicker than the actual trunk anyway?!”

“They’re not. Those are part of the trunk.”

“Ugh, this is pointless…”

“Hey, it’s YOUR archnemesis! She tortured you, made your life a miserable living hell!”

“This was still YOUR idea!”

The pink-purplish snake thing turned her head away in a huff. “Well maybe I felt the need to give you some closure on the matter. Coming here may have been my idea but throwing a tree was your stupid idea.”

The raccoon scowled as the tree above his head sank further down, giving the false impression it was squishing his head. “I didn’t think you’d take it seriously! How am I even supposed to throw it that far?!”

“You can shapeshift, boy! Physical limits mean nothing to you! Change your muscles so they’re stronger and throw the thing!”

Ouran’s knees immediately buckled and the tree crashed down on top of him.

“…Er, try doing the opposite of whatever you just did.”

“My leeeeg…”

“Oh just stitch it back into one piece, you big baby!”

Althra was as egotistical as they come (or more accurately as they DON’T come) but she wasn’t a complete idiot. As a habit she kept spells on her to protect herself from enemy attack.

So when a tree suddenly shattered the tranquility of her perfect night by crashing into her tent, it shattered her shield and didn’t do much more than piss her off.

Fire leaped into her hands and danced around her arms. Her glare was absolutely livid as she searched for her assailant. “Who dares challenge me?! I am Althra, goddess of-” “-Being a total ****?”

A bolt of fire flashed in the direction the words had come from, exploding in the forest behind the camp and setting it alight. As her servants gathered around her, she pointed into the burning woods. “Find the little bitch.”

The villagers dispersed into the woods to find the ‘little bitch’ that had spoken. Althra stayed at the camp, fire burning along her arms and in her hands. She had nothing to fear, she reminded herself.

A hawk suddenly dropped from the sky and slammed right into her face, schreeching in rage as it tore at her eyes. Althra grabbed the hawk with one flaming hand and threw into into a nearby tree, which she then set aflame. The scream of pain from the poor creature’s mouth was music to her ears… for the six seconds or so it continued before turning into giggly laughter.

She whirled to face the tree to find the hawk gone. In it’s place was a bright purple jackal. She brought up both of her hands and streamed flames at the creature, but it just laughed. She stopped and found that the land around the jackal burned, but the creature itself did not.

“You act too rashly, wizard.” Sihlk said cheerfully. “Do you think I am alone?”

Althra suddenly fell over as something rammed into her head at a speed too great to measure. Her shield stopped the damage but she could not remain standing. As the wizard pulled herself to her feet, she saw a raccoon standing next to the pink serpent.

Althra snarled. “You dare strike me?!”

“‘Dare’ implies your superiority.” The raccoon said coldly. “But every action you have taken suggests otherwise.”

Althra pulled herself to her feet. “You think yourself ABOVE me, you little rodent?”

The ‘raccoon’ cocked an eyebrow. “You still think I’m a raccoon. Yet you also think I’m a rodent. Brilliant, little pink weasel.”

“Don’t you mock me!!” She roared, fire in her hands flaring up. “What are you here for, little rat?!”

“To kill you, of course.”

Althra sneered. “Really.”

“Well, technically, SHE is the reason I’m here.” He pointed to Sihlk. “She taught me how to maintain my form, and in exchange I had to come back here and kill ya for what you did to me.”

“I have no idea who the little snake is or-… wait. What I did to YOU?” Her eyes narrowed. “So who’re YOU then?”

“Aw, you don’t recognize me? I’m almost hurt, Althra. You don’t recognize your old mistake? The old mistake you pumped with potions until he could barely move? The one you tried to drown but didn’t bother to find a body for? Your old mistake that you never learned from?”

“…YOU!!” Althra shoved her open palm forward at Ouran and a wall of flame rushed towards him.

Lord of Change – Part 3

Sihlk leapt out of the sea and came crashing back down again, laughing in the pale moonlight. She had taken the form of a dolphin tonight, loving the cold of seawater against her gray flesh. She swiftly swam through the water, looping around and just enjoying herself. She loved Creator-Father-Mother and his Realm of Chaos, but it was nice to get away from her every now and again and just… enjoy life.

Her happy thoughts of swimming, dancing and the occasional darting silver fish was interrupted by a strange sight indeed. Another Shapeshifter, it seemed.

Now, this was alone time for her, but that wasn’t what gave her pause – Sihlk didn’t mind someone else in her waters while she played, so long as distance was kept. What piqued her curiosity was the fact that the Shapeshifter in question was Shifting. It was always fun to watch another Shift – no two of her kind ever changed the same way. Some would force the changes through and heal the damage, others would go throw a smooth (albeit fake) metamorphosis. Sihlk personally opted for molding her flesh like clay and worrying about what went where later. The occasional brain damage or failed organ was easy enough to fix.

After watching the shape before her mold and crack for ten minutes, however, it became obvious that whoever this was wasn’t going to stop changing. Sihlk moved closer to the amorphous blob, and looked into red eyes as they opened along its sides. Fanged maws opened as well, and tentacles turned towards her.

Sihlk waved with a new tentacle, smiling broadly. It-he-she looked friendly!

It took almost a week for Sihlk to get the creature to a point where it could talk again. The two had gone to a nearby beach, sitting in the surf, and Sihlk had changed into a purple serpent. The creature called himself Ouran, and had only just now opened about his past.

“So you’re NOT a Shapeshifter then.” She tilted her head. “So what are you?”

“Dunno. Whatever Althra made me.”

She frowned at her name. “Ambition’s all well and good, but creating life?! She should’ve turned the task down.” Ouran grew a maw set in a permanent frown (angler fish, maybe?). “No offense to you, of course.” Sihlk held up a pair of draconic claws in a placating gesture.

“Of course.” Ouran said dryly. “So why should she have turned it down?”

Sihlk laughed. “Ouran, creating life from nothing is not possible, even for the gods, let alone a mortal wizard. Onore can’t make life. Volk destroys life wherever he walks. Gioco and Legion? Forget it. Creator-Father-Mother has a dead titan imprisoned in the Realm, so maybe, but even then I wouldn’t bet on it. The Titans made life, and then left it to its own devices. Only they can make life” Sihlk grew six thoroughly muscular arms and flexed them. “Gods can shape life as easy as we shape our forms – Creator-Father-Mother made the Shapeshifters from dolphins and sharks, for instance – but they can’t make it from scratch.”

Ouran heaved a little, and suddenly mucus shot from his mouth. Sihlk ducked down. “Yeah, I find it hard to believe, too.”

“That wasn’t on purpose, sorry. Althra’s stupid potions and all…”

Sihlk stared at the obsidian – make that viridian with a hint of orange – blob of tentacles, and stood up, now a draconic creature with mauve flesh. “Alright!” She proclaimed. “First thing on the agenda: You need to learn how to shift!” She pointed a claw at him. “Shift into a turtle!”

Nothing whatsoever happened.

“A duck!”

Nothing.

“Platypus!”

“A what?”

“Pidgeon!”

Nada.

“Wow, you’re doing great!” Sihlk grinned.

Ouran’s eyes all twitched.

“Now change into… a six legged pony with eye stalks and, oh I dunno, let’s say a glowing neon eye in its forehead!!”

“Are you high?!”

“I’m surprised you know what that means.” Sihlk smiled. “But you’ve already made excellent progress Ouran.”

“How’s that?! I didn’t change into ANYTHING you said!”

“Your initial problem was that you changed too often. But you haven’t changed once since I started naming random creatures.”

Ouran fell silent at that.

“Ouran. The first step in learning to shift form is learning how not to.” Sihlk said, snaking her head closer to look right into one of his bulbous eyes. “Memorize how it feels. Because that feeling in your head, the one that keeps you stuck in whatever form you’re in? That’s how we’re going to start…”

Lord of Change – Part 2

Four months later

Ouran plopped himself down on the floor of a cave, folding black leathery wings together over the blood-sucking leeches he could now (apparently) spawn. He closed his mouth with the glowing pink tongue and then shut the eye on his tail. As he did so, a new nose sprouted from his back, and he could smell sea salt flowing from down the cliff outside.

Inside, he was broiling with rage. The changes had not stopped. That, perhaps, was the most frustrating thing.

He had no idea why, but even without the potions and rituals, his changes were now coming in at complete random. One moment he’d be swinging through a tree with his seven limbs and ultra-long, prehensile tongue. The next he’d crash into the ground with no limbs at all. He was forced to adapt to the new changes immediately, however, because more often than not, someone or someTHING was trying to kill him.

Villages saw him as a monster that needed to die, animals saw him as easy prey, and the occasional sorceror or wizard saw him as something interesting worth capturing. He’d bled too many people and creatures just to survive, and had eaten too few of them… he wasn’t going to be able to keep this up forever…

He smelled a human approaching. A human with a scent he recognized.

He opened his wings, and the leeches jumped off of him. They were burned in flames before they could even reach his target, but that was fine – he wasn’t budding any more anyway. A spark leaped from his eye as more fire flew from the woman’s hand to consume him… except his hide had chosen that exact moment to grow leathery and tough. He snarled as two new eyes popped on his slowly extending neck, and glared darkly at the figure at the mouth of the cave.

“Hello Althra.” Ouran groaned out past his eyeba- tongue.

“Ouran. It’s taken far too long to find you.” She hissed angrily. “You should never have been brought into existence.”

“It’s too late for regret, little apprentice.” The abomination sneered with it’s second mouth. “I exist. And it’s your fault.”

Flames danced in her hands, rage and passion flickering in the dark of the cave. “My master is dead. I am alone. My life is ruined because of you.”

“You tortured me. Brought me into a high enough intellect to understand the concept of ‘torture’. Unbound my form, and made it ever changing. You created me, Althra.” Ouran spat as he formed into his next being. “Everything I am is YOUR doing.”

“I did nothing wrong! I never could! You-”

“Do not deny it, wizard. You made your own failure.”

The flames flared bright and hot now. “Then I will unmake it, monster.” She slammed her palms together, and flames roared from her hands.

Ouran’s small form darted to the side. Finding the walls remarkably easy to grasp onto, he ran up and dove behind the wizard as she broadened her stream. It was a testament to the apprentice’s arrogance that she believed him trapped in the conflagaration. He jumped down, opening his reptilian maw wide-

-and crunched down using a mouth with no teeth.

Althra grasped him by the neck and threw him towards the entrance of the cave. As she began to chant a new incantation, a tentacle sprouted from Ouran’s back, grabbed one of the leeches and tossed it at her. She shouted as it hit her face, but since it was already burned to death it did nothing. She smacked it aside and pointed at Ouran. White lightning flew from her finger and struck the ground behind her little abomination. He rolled away to the edge of the cliff, and looked up, his head resolving into a human face.

Hers.

“I’m not the monster here, Althra.”

For a moment, the wizard stood stunned. Then she said quietly, “Am I really that pretty?”

“…I hate you.” Ouran scowled as tentacles began to pour from his mouth.

This time the lightning collapsed the cliff and sent him falling into the sea.

Ouran’s story, perhaps, should have ended when he hit the water. The form he had at that moment could neither float on the water nor breathe under it.

It seemed, however, that chance or fate or perhaps even the gods themselves had other plans. Ouran sank like a stone into the sea and gasped in a lungful of seawater for a few brief moments before his form changed again – he found with his next gasp that he could breathe the water around him. He felt his flesh changing, as it always did, but now it became sleek and slimy. His bones crunched and shifted within him, his organs squished and writhed. In a few moments, he was a many tentacled, black and gray mess with one large purple eye in the center.

Ouran turned and swam deeper into the sea.

Lord of Change – Part 1

I don’t remember what I was when she began.

The first memory I have is of a single moment, something I feel was only one of many. The woman had released from her mouth what I now knew was a scream of frustration, throwing flames from her arms to strike the wall of my cell. She turned to me, livid, and just glared angrily at me for a few long minutes. She then grabbed a vial full of a pulsing green potion and poured it on me. I felt the elixir’s power surge into me, and I thrashed my tentacles about. I had one slimy eye that didn’t stop burning all throughout the process, and as it settled, I felt my limbs fall limp.

She glared at me, still disapprovingly, and duly said, “Speak, abomination.”

My eye widened and I tried to speak, but only managed a wet gurgle. Her eyes suddenly lost their dark glare and began to sparkle with interest.

I later learned that the ability to speak wasn’t important – what was important was that I’d reacted at all. It showed I was now aware, and she was thrilled to finally be getting results.

Her name was Althra, she told me as she petted my wretched form. She was a wizard – or more accurately, apprenticed to a wizard. She had spoken against him in her hubris, and so he had given her a task they both knew was impossible: to create life from nothing. Such a task, it was said, was beyond even the goddess of life, now.

But she took the assignment seriously, she told me, despite it’s utter impossibility. For reasons I still do not understand, she decided that the first step would be to create a new form of life from one that already existed. That was me – I was to be her template, what she began her plans with…

—–

It had been many months since that first night.

Ouran knew his name now – Althra whispered it to him as she stroked whichever form her elixirs had given him. Right now, he was some strange, chitinous creature with six legs and a head mounted on a stalk. Ouran opened the mouth on his back, breathing in deeply, as he opened the mouth on his stalk so he could see out of his one massive eye in the back of his throat.

As the various concoctions (and occasionally full-blown rituals) Althra subjected him to became more complex, he found his intelligence and strength slowly growing. As they had, however, he also felt a desire to escape build within him. Before him lay the wooden door that had barred him all his life. Ouran knew that the door would repel him magically if he tried to attack it, he’d tried before, and his current form had nothing else to offer. No limbs to open the door, no magical abilities to bring to bear, nothing.

He wondered how long it had been since Althra had last come. Some days it felt like she’d never left. Sometimes she stayed gone for so long, he began to wonder if she might just let him starve. He ‘blinked’ his eye and then sat down again.

It would be many hours still before Althra brought her next concoction. She poured it down Ouran’s mouth without ceremony and simply stared at him. For a time, nothing happened. Then he convulsed as his form began to shift, to change once more.

Althra eyed what he was now with distaste. Ouran had shifted into a four-legged, slightly brown potato… THING with ears twice the size of it’s body. It had an ugly, half-smashed face and it’s legs were hooved and stumpy.

Still no limbs. Still no magic.

Thu-thump. Thu-thump.

…But he could hear Althra’s heartbeat. And his own… and… oh, all the sounds… he could hear mice scratching in the walls, breathing from above, the whisper of the wind… There was a small scritch and he realized he could hear Althra’s hair rub against her clothes.

… That’s not right… He’s supposed to be blue… Speak.” She commanded.

“urrrrrrrrrrrrrgh…” Ouran moaned.

She sighed. “Well, at least you’re making sounds again, that’s something.” She turned to leave. “Perhaps something simpler is required here… If I could just…” She walked up to the door and whispered something.

“Raitres.”

The door shut behind the arrogant apprentice.

Ouran smirked.

—–
Two weeks later

Ouran’s form had not stopped shifting for a week now. He smirked with a fanged mouth he wouldn’t have for much longer as he pulled back from the older wizard’s tore up neck. He ran for the door…