[Vfw-times] MK Choices part 4 - end

COkane8116 at aol.com COkane8116 at aol.com
Tue Oct 15 23:55:59 CDT 2002

   Long house was full of sound even if it wasn't full of people. The grand 
area called Long hall played host only to a group of twenty children who were 
playing there. Some were the children of Long scouts or of people who worked 
for the Longs. Others were the children of other Keepers. All played together 
quite happily, running and shrieking around the great open space. They paid 
little attention to anything else.

   Two figures emerged from a side door and moved nonchalantly into the 
center of the hall. Both moved with an air of certainty that spoke of 
seasoned veterans who could easily handle themselves in any situation. The 
man was tall, with hard eyes that stared at the world from beneath a tangled 
mane of hair. His body was tough and well muscled and bore the scars of 
countless battles.

   Gold rings decorated his ears and hands. He was dressed scantily, merely a 
cloth of soft leather edged with silver thread and gold covered his loins and 
a brace of leather straps on his hips. Both were covered with gold buckles 
and hooks. In combat weapons would hang from those hooks but now they were 

   The woman was shorter but only just. Thinner then him her skin was darker 
then his and her black hair was cut short, close to her head. She was dressed 
solely in a loin cloth and several pieces of strategically placed strips of 
black leather and gold buckles and rings. Long gloves of the same leather 
covered her arms to above the elbow. The outfit covered just enough to keep 
from being arrested for public nudity but just barely. It showed off every 
smooth and supple curve of her slim form. Her body bore not a single scar or 
blemish in spite of many years spent as a mercenary. Her flowing black hair 
had been meticulously braided and gold, silver and platinum ribbons and 

  With the cold winds of winter blowing outside and with the snow still piled 
hip deep outside the two mercenaries should have been cold. But Long Hall was 
as warm as a spring day. Only the faintest hint of a cold breeze reminded 
them that winter was still about and that bothered neither of them.

   In the man's hands was a staff, longer then he was tall and made a light 
colored wood. Ferwig would have preferred to use Gruffydd but the spear was 
safely locked away in the Long House armory. Considering that less then 2 
weeks ago he had been snuck into the Keep to kill many of the Keepers Ferwig 
was lucky to just be alive. He and Teria at the moment seemed to be in 
suspension. Officially they weren't prisoners and were allowed free reign of 
Long House and the Keep but all their weapons and magic items were kept out 
of reach. Also he had noticed that they were never alone.  There always 
seemed to be someone nearby watching them.

   Teria showed no outward sign of being bothered by being watched but Ferwig 
knew it did bother the woman. They had been together far too long for him not 
to notice. She was covering it well enough for the moment. But being watched 
was a minor annoyance. What really bothered her was boredom. They were fed 
well and they were allowed to go pretty much where ever they wanted to but 
there was nothing to do. Even sparing matches in the Great Hall had lost 
their attraction.

   "I can do it myself," a male voice suddenly said loudly.

   "Of course," a soft female voice answered with a hint of disbelief in it.

   Turning to the source of the noise they say two animal morph keepers 
fumbling with a pair of pokers in front of a small fire place. One was a 
lithe brown ferret, the other was obviously female and wasn't a ferret but of 
some closely related breed. The ferret had his left arm in a large bandage 
that stretched from wrist to shoulder. A sling kept the injured limb still. 
The two were trying to stoke a fire to life with little luck.

   Teria muttered the words of an incantation softly and wiggled her fingers 
in the air. There was a soft whoosh and a ball of light raced from her 
fingers in the direction of the fireplace and the two keepers. It struck a 
log which burst instantly into flames.

   The ferret whipped around, a dagger in each hand.

   "Oh come now Finbar. You can't be afraid of a simple, fire cantrip." Teria 
said mockingly and with a flick of her fingers sent a send ball of light 
towards the ferret.

   Ferwig didn't interfere, he knew that she was simply having fun and the 
spell she had cast would only create a flash and some sparks, harmless.

   The ball of light was less then a foot from the ferret when the female 
with him acted. Danielle waved her hands and the ball of light shot straight 
up into the air before it winked out.

   A broad grin crossed Terias face. "A MAGE!" she crowed in delight. She 
flicked both hands several times sending half a dozen balls racing towards 
the two mustelids.

   Danielle easily fended off all of them with easy.

   Teria narrowed her eyes and shot off three more balls. These were larger 
and danced and looped around each other as the streaked towards the pine 

   The pine marten managed to easily deflect two of them with waves of her 
hand in spite of their erratic movement. But the third missile struck her 
hand in a shower of sparks. She yelped in pain and shook her it to make the 
sting go away.

   "What happened?" Teria asked in genuine surprise. "You should have easily 
stopped that one." She walked towards Danielle, Ferwig following close behind 
in case the ferret objected too strongly.

   "I am still recovering," came the simple answer.

   In a moment the two mercenaries had closed the distance between them. At 
this close range he could see that Danielle's right arm was bandaged. Teria 
took hold of the pine martens left hand and held it up to inspect. Ferwig saw 
that all the fur had been burned off up to the elbow and the hand itself was 
covered with burnt and blistered skin.

   "No wonder you couldn't stop that last one. What did this?" the leather 
clad mage asked.

   "A fire sphere," was the answer.

   "She saved all of our lives," Finbar interjected forcefully.

   "Just barely," Teria commented.

   "But enough," Ferwig added. "I didn't know any of you Longs knew magic."

   "What level of skill do you have? I have attained the eighth plateau 
according to the Cuerth college of Magic."

   "My skill is limited," Danielle explained.

   "Who have you trained under?"

   "No one. I have learned a learned most myself."

   "No one?" Teria said shocked. "What spells can you cast besides shield?"

   "Little. A spell of silence, and one to help detect traps, plus one to 
make better vision in darkness. But I have little reason to use that last 
one. My present body sees very well in darkness."

   The woman mercenaries face brightened and she cheered up instantly. "Well 
I can help you there."

   "And what do want in return?" Finbar asked in a hostile tone.

   "Tell me what this is?" she said calmly and slowly removed the glove from 
her right arm. The skin beneath was covered with short fur that was covered 
with large, irregular black, brown and white spots.

   "That's the curse or course," the ferret replied in a delighted tone. 
"You're changing into some sort of animal."

   "I know that," Teria commented sarcastically, "but what kind?"

   Danielle gingerly touched the changed portion of the woman's arm with one 
finger. "A cat of some sort."

   Finbar shook his head. "Not with those spots."

   "An antelope perhaps," Misha said walking up to the group. Ferwig hadn't 
heard the fox approach. A fact that made him nervous. "What do you think 

   A tall, brown otter walked up and peered at the arm. Ferwig hadn't been 
aware of the her approach either. All Longs it seemed moved with an 
un-nerving silence.

   "Definitely a predator of some sort," Caroline commented. "A bird 

   "Not with that fur."

   "I've heard of birds with fur, like a griffon."

   George pushed through the group, shoving Ferwig aside. He grabbed her arm 
and licked the spotted fur on Teria's arm. "A dog or wolf."

   She pulled it back in disgust and tried to punch the jackal morph dead 
square in the muzzle. 

   Almost casually fending off the attack he reached into a pouch and pulled 
out a dozen coins. "I'll bet all this that it's a dog or wolf."

   "I'll see that bet," Misha countered. "It has to be an antelope."

   "I'll bet twenty gold that it's a cat," Finbar added.

   "Since we're all betting," Ferwig commented. "And I'll add this." The 
fighter turned around revealing a mane of hair running down his neck. It was 
short, thick, black, bristle like hairs totally unlike a horses."

   "I'll bet twenty gold that he's one of those stripped zebras," Finbar 
shouted out.

   "Ten that it's a boar or some sort of pig."

   "Twelve that he's a hedgehog or porcupine."

   "I'll take all those against me becoming a hyena," Ferwig said boldly.

   Teria scowled at him but he just smiled and patted her on the shoulder. 
They were no longer bored.


   Sir Terrant Gattaway stood outside the door to Sir Edmund's apartment. It 
was a modest thing, made of a dark wood with hinges and lock of brass, now 
green with age. Only a simple wooden plague with the words "Sir Edmund 
Delacot" told all who was within.

   Terrant had known Edmund for almost a decade. In that time they had 
traveled the entire breadth of the Midlands. From skirmishing with 
Lightbringer fanatics on the border of the Sathmore empire to fighting 
eldritch horrors in Elderwood. They had even guarded caravans traveling 
across the Desert of Dreaming and fought pirates on the sea of stars.

   Nothing they had done before matched what they were doing now. Fighting 
bandits, raiders and fanatics didn't scare him. If it was time for the Black 
Dog to come for him, so be it but deliberately letting a curse take hold of 
you that was something else. Still Edmund was right, they were desperately 
needed here. Here at Metamor they could make a big difference. Just burying 
the dead would be a difficult task.

   He opened the door slowly and found the paladin seated at a small table 
reading his private copy of the canticles. Edmund looked up at Terrant with a 
somber expression. "You've decided?"

   "How many have decided to stay?" Terrant answered, changing the subject.

   "Two of my knights and fifteen of the foot soldiers have decided to go 
with Sir Mursry," came the answer. "But we have over a score of people have 
volunteered to stay with me."

    Terrant shook his head in surprise. "It seems you are not the only one 
who thinks this place is where they are needed."

   "It is a new place," the paladin explained. "Here a person can make a new 
life for themselves and not be bound by old social prejudices."

   "Do you wonder what you'll change into?" Terrant asked.

   "Does it matter?" Sir Edmund answered enigmatically. "The canticles say 
that from dust we were created and to dust we shall return. Our form matters 
not, only the soul within."

   "True," Terrant answered. "I hadn't considered that."

   "Have you decided?" the paladin asked.

   "I have followed you for ten years. I see no reason to stop now."


   "Are you coming out?" Finbar asked to the closed door.

   "Teria" Danielle said to the closed door in front of them. "You are making 
me worry."

   "I'm fine," came a muffled voice.

   "Why don't you just admit you changed and come out," George added in an 
irritated tone of voice. "You can't be THAT ugly. Besides we want to know who 
won the bet."

   "NO!" came the voice from beyond the door.

   "Terry," Ferwig said softly. "You promised Danielle a lesson today. Now 
come out."

   "What part of no don't you understand," Teria said through the door.

   "A battle hardened mercenary that's fought and killed men twice her size 
and she's afraid how she looks," George commented to no one in particular.

   "She knows more beauty spells then fighting spells," Ferwig said laughing.

    From beyond the door came a low hissing noise like the sound of air 
escaping from a pipe.

   "Uh oh!" Ferwig said and suddenly ducked.


   A hole the size of a fist appeared in the door and something heavy and 
solid flew over Ferwig's head to shatter against the wall behind him.

   "She's trying to kill you!" Finbar said looking at the sizable pockmark in 
the stonework.

   "No, she deliberately aimed high," Ferwig commented. "Come out Teria. 
Aren't you curious to know what I changed into?" he ordered, sounding 

   A long silence followed and then there was the sound of a bolt being drawn 
back. The door creaked loudly as it swung inward on its hinges revealing 
slight figure standing behind it. The person seemed to hesitate for a moment 
before stepping through.

      The figure that came through the now open door was the same height and 
slim build. Her whole body was covered with the same sort fur they had seen 
before. It was colored with large patches which were light brown, black and 
white in color. Her canine head had a black muzzle and large ears that 
swiveled about. A black stripe ran from her muzzle all the way up her head, 
between those large ears and down her back to a long tail. The curse had 
changed her body but it had left her the same, supple erotic curves as 
before. Indeed it seemed to enhance it. Ferwig noticed how the shape of her 
breasts, now covered with white fur had been boosted by cleavage now colored 
black. He liked the effect.

   "What am I?" Teria asked. "I know it's a dog but of a type I've never seen 

   "A Wild Cape dog. They live in the far south, on the savannah of the 
Flatlands," George answered.

   She didn't seem to notice the people staring at her. Instead her eyes fell 
upon Ferwig, the fighter she had spent the last ten years with. He was a 
muscled and powerful as ever, but he was covered with a gray-greenish fur 
that had black spots randomly scattered across it. His canine head had the 
same pattern except for the mane of thick bristly fur that was colored black 
as was his muzzle. He was a hyena.

   "I won the bet," Ferwig commented.

   Teria laughed for the first time all day. "How much did you win?"


  End of Choices
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