Entries tagged with “transformation”.

Clawing back towards the waking world, Ali became aware of two things. One was pain – mostly a throbbing headache, but also some all-over aching and stiffness; the other was the scent of lilacs.

That was a bit curious – it was well past the early spring when lilacs were in bloom – and that in turn provided something to focus on other than the pain, which was quite welcome. Oh, to be sure, some floral scents were frequently distilled and used in perfumes and incense, but lilac was – regrettably, from Ali’s point of view – not a common choice for that.

It also served as a reminder that Ali wasn’t at home, because the Arcine manor didn’t have lilacs on the grounds these days, blooming out-of-season or otherwise, nor was the scent favoured among the staff. As fragments of the evening before sorted themselves in Ali’s memory, this wasn’t terribly surprising – but one thing Ali couldn’t remember was actually getting into bed.


The sight of the orchard almost made Jami weep. The branches were heavy with fruit, and even in the moonlight he thought he could see a ripe red gleam. It was more food in one place than he’d seen in days – far more than he’d been able to gather in his mad flight across the grasslands. He was just a city boy, a silversmith’s apprentice. He’d never needed to gather food from farther than the market until now; he knew just enough about it to know he’d been very lucky indeed to not have eaten something dreadful while he was scrounging.

And now he came face to face with this bounty – on the other side of a fence, the sort of thing he’d been well-taught never to cross without permission.


Ali gazed up at the Vhendal home with no small amount of trepidation.

As homes went, it was large and imposing; the Vhendal family had been one of means for quite some time. But that wasn’t the issue here; the Arcine family had had its power for just as long, and their family home was more extravagant. A large home was what Ali was used to.

No, the problem was the errand that brought Ali here – and the other matters of recent history between the two families. None of it Ali’s choosing, but convincing anyone else of that was proving to be quite difficult. The tigress had, after all, loomed quite large in her father’s vile plans – never mind that she actually hadn’t been given much of a choice in the matter, nor even advance notice; when Markas Arcine had first suggested a marriage – no, a liaison, a mixing of blood – between his line and the Vhendal, been rebuffed, and then resorted to sorcery in an effort to take the boy’s seed by force…

Well, reasonable people would conclude that he’d gained the cooperation of his only daughter in that plot.


Coming back to consciousness was a struggle – like swimming through tar.

Before he was quite able to make sense of anything around him, Varon remembered the fire – racing through the village, surrounding it. He remembered digging his way into the quarry pit, hoping against hope that there’d be nothing the fire could burn to follow him. He remembered the dizziness, the screams fading…

But now, all was silent and still. Even the weight of his own limbs felt barely-there.


The sound of Luke’s own footsteps sounded foreign to him, now – claws clicking on the linoleum despite his efforts to the contrary. It was a constant reminder of what he was now – and thus of what he’d lost. At least he could walk, now; it had been weeks before he could do so at all, and weeks more before his balance was steady. Reaching for the refrigerator, and seeing a hand clad in soft grey fur, was still jarring.

“Oh, hey.”

It was a familiar voice, and it wasn’t like there were more than a half-dozen people with access to this house, but there were elements to it now that he’d never heard before. Yet another reminder that he didn’t need… “Hey, Monica,” he sighed, grabbing the jug of filtered water.


Derek emerged from the diner into the late-afternoon sun and blew out his breath.

What a day. At times like this, all he wanted to do was sleep for a week.

Oh, well. Someone needed to step up to the plate.


He was rowing home with his catch, as he always did, when he heard the song drifting over the waves. It was sad and lonely, played with amazing skill on what had to be one of the finest flutes in all of creation, and it beckoned to him. He changed his course, and he found the source of that song: a woman sat upon the rocks, her fair hair tossing unbound in the wind, her gown shimmering like fish scales while she played a flute carved from a narwhal’s horn. Everything about her was wondrous, and yet the sorrow in her song wrenched his heart.

He waited there, his boat bobbing in the waves, until her song was done; and only then did he call out to her, asking why such a lovely woman would be here all alone, playing such a mournful song.

“I am cursed,” she told him, “and any man who shares my life will be taken by the embrace of the sea.”


If anyone had asked, Allan would have said his life was comfortable enough. He had a little cabin in the woods, where he kept all the things he needed to do his work. Those same woods were home to a great variety of life, and that life was his wealth. He took pelts and meat, bone and horn, and other, more esoteric things as he found them; in exchange, he gave his thanks and respect. Each time he found a beast in his traps or snares, or brought it down with an arrow, he whispered a prayer to that animal’s spirit, thanking it for its sacrifice and wishing it life anew. He checked his traps often, leaving nothing to suffer long in them, and his kills were as quick and merciful as he could make them. Anything he could use, he did, wasting little, and returning the remains to the forest.


Saeed looked over to his robe, draped some time ago over the back of a chair in his workroom. In moments like this, a little dignity could be a precious thing.

But he abandoned the notion after only a moment’s thought. Dignity was all very well, but he was sodden with his lover’s seed. Even if the robe managed to obscure all of it, which was unlikely given how much of the stuff had landed on his neck and chin, the smell of sex permeated each breath he took and couldn’t fail to fill the whole room.

Besides, if he put the robe on without first taking a bath, it would need such a thorough laundering that there might not be much fabric left, afterwards.

So be it; the sabrecat would trust to the dignity of his own person and demeanour, and dare anyone else to comment on his state.


It was a lonely stretch of road, and Tamarra never expected to encounter anyone there. Usually that was fine; she wasn’t the sort who needed company at all times, and she was never too far from a city, so it wasn’t a great burden when she did have such a craving.

At any rate, she was caught off guard when Saldarin came to a halt, the worg lifting his head and looking to the left, upwind. By the set of his ears – and the very fact that he’d stopped at all instead of just sniffing and listening as he trotted along – it was either a person, or an animal that didn’t belong around here – which would probably mean people again.


The autumn winds were rushing in from the north, and bringing with them a heavy tumble of clouds. Rain was coming, a heavy, chill rain that would sweep this scrubland without mercy.

It was as Brennan was considering his all-too-scanty options for cover that he felt a familiar prickle between his shoulders.

That was the only way he knew the change was coming. It had no rhythm that he’d been able to glean; it could strike at any time of day or night, hungry or fed, alert or drowsy. Sometimes weeks or even a full turn of the moon would go by without one; other times one would come less than a day after the prior had waned. But when his skin started to itch and feel ill-fitting upon him, he knew the change would come, welcome or not, within the day; in a matter of hours it would be too uncomfortable to conceal entirely.


It was the vernal equinox – the Planting Festival; another winter was fading, and crops were in the ground in preparation for a rich harvest in later months. Irishal Mastrieth, though not directly concerned with the planting, found himself with much more to celebrate than usual: he, the youngest of Master Farion’s students in the arcane arts, was also the only one deemed fit to graduate – not only was he no longer an apprentice, he was leaving that state before people who’d been studying for twice as long! Master Farion had said this and that about talent, but inwardly, Irishal wasn’t sure that a good portion of that wasn’t merely focus; he’d spent more time concentrating on his studies than had some of his fellow pupils, and this was his reward for it. Now, instead of a bunk in the cramped apprentice quarters, he had a house of his own, with a yet-largely-vacant workshop to call his.

And he was going there with a beautiful woman and dear friend, one who hadn’t minded his indulgence in the no-longer-forbidden pleasure of wine. One who’d seemed eager for a bit of privacy with him.

Who could yet say? Perhaps the farmers wouldn’t be the only ones sowing seed today. (more…)