Morning after last session
Goldie stretched and felt something dig into her hips as she moved against the hard ground. That was strange. Her pelt should protect her from silly things like rocks. After all, bears were hardy creatures. She yawned widely and turned over, and once again gravel dug sharply into her side. Frustrated, she growled and opened her eyes to see what kind of rocks could possibly penetrate her amazing brown fur. With a scream of sheer horror, she jumped to her feet, her hands clutching at her human clothing, breasts, hair, and axe.
“No!” she yelled, roaring and stamping her feet. “No, I’m a bear now! I am a bear! Why aren’t I a bear?!” Looking wildly around, Goldie spied Fritz on the other side of the campfire, looking as though he’d been rudely awakened by something in the early morning light. She couldn’t think what that would be, but since he was awake she stomped over to him. “Fritz, why aren’t I a bear?” she asked desperately. Fritz always had the answers to her questions.
Fritz sighed as the angry form of Goldie, now human, stormed up to him. He could tell this was already going to be a long day. As she asked him why she wasn’t a bear anymore, Fritz sat up and propped himself up against a nearby tree. Though the tree would doubtlessly try and kill him sooner or later, Fritz was too tired to care. Furthermore, how the hell was Fritz suppose to know why she wasn’t a bear? With the events of the previous day, it was barely a surprise when Goldie was replaced by a bear. But, Fritz couldn’t just leave Goldie without an answer, that’d be rude.
“These things just sorta happen at random,” Fritz lied, “Why don’t you think I’ve been able to turn into a dog on command, or Sgt. Stumpy can turn into an elf yet?”
Her blue eyes bored into Fritz’s face as she tried to discern the truth in his statement. Goldie knew that Fritz wasn’t always honest with her, but when it was really important he could usually be counted on to keep everything straight. Plus, he had already established that elves could turn into dogs, and that some dwarves could, too (although she didn’t believe that Albin could do that; he was a liar through and through), so she was inclined to believe him right now. Goldie looked down at her puny human hands and sighed from what felt like the bottom of her soul. “So I… I can’t be a bear all the time?” she asked in a small, hurt sort of voice. “That isn’t fair. I wanted to be a bear, I HAVE wanted it I mean, for my whole life and now I get to do it and then I wake up and it’s gone? That isn’t fair!” With a kick at a stray tin cup, the stocky blonde woman began a short rampage around the campsite. She kept it quieter, though, since Sgt. Stumpy and the kittens needed their sleep. They were just babies.
“Wait,” she said suddenly, and wheeled on Fritz, “didn’t you say that it’s only young elves that can’t control the change? I’m not young, and I’m not an elf, so I should be able to control it, right? How do you MAKE it happen. Now, don’t play around, and tell me what I should do to FORCE it out. I NEED to be a bear, Fritz!” She pushed her bangs out of her face so that she could tie her hair back, but it just got tangled in her stupid human fingers. If they were claws, and she were a bear, it wouldn’t be an issue!
While amused at Goldie’s little temper tantrum, he couldn’t help but be annoyed when she kicked his mug across the camp. Thankfully, for Arkh, the empty cup stopped just short of his face. Arkh sneezed and rolled over as the dust kicked up from the cup settled. Fritz brought his attention back to Goldie as she started questioning his elf-dog transformation logic. While she was getting better about doubting any information Fritz provided her, it was fairly easy to either maintain the ruse or simply redirect her curiosity. Fritz maintained eye contact as he thought carefully about his answer.
“I’m no expert on human transfiguration, especially since it’s sooo rare, but my guess is that even though you’re old by human standards, your alter-animal hasn’t matured to its full extent,” Fritz said, not believing how much effort he would go through to trick this poor deadly Norscan. “For example, I rarely change into a dog, even though I’m eighty-four. Maybe alter-animals are just tuned for longer-living species.”
The swiping hand in her hair turned into a head scratch. “But I… I’m not old. I’m only in my early twenties, and I…” she paused as he finished his statement. “Oh. So I’m too young? But then why did I change at all? I just felt so funny, like my skin was too tight, and I had that horrible buzzing in my head, and then I was a bear.” The normally stoic Goldie sniffed a little bit and dashed a frustrated tear from the corner of her eye as she walked back to Fritz’s bedroll. She looked at the elf and knew that he would never understand her pain, but she could try to enlighten him. “Fritz, for just a minute, I was a bear. It was perfect. I was perfect as a bear. I killed everything that I wanted to before the Blood Mage took that away from me, and then-” Stricken by a new thought, she stopped. Wrath grew in her expression and she leveled a deadly glare at the sleeping form of Arkh.
“Fritz.” Her voice was cold and edged in the steel of her axe. “Did that Blood Mage change me back into a human?”
“Doubt it,” Fritz replied quickly, knowing that Goldie would be more than willing to end Arkh for less. “Plus, Arkh was sleeping all night. We didn’t bother to wake him for his turn on watch since the little nerd needs his beauty sleep.”
Fritz sat silently, hoping the emotionally fragile bear-axe-lady wouldn’t decide to end the blood mage and medic’s life while he slept. Fritz looked around; the released beastmen were starting to wake. He sighed again and brought his attention back to Goldie, “Anyone in your home village develop human-bear transformation?”
Narrowing her eyes, Goldie looked hard at Arkh’s back before turning her attention back to Fritz. She crossed her arms and hugged herself forlornly as she let the anger go. “Ma always said that anger isn’t productive,” she remarked offhandedly. She gathered her thoughts for a moment before responding to his question, and made sure to think really hard about it before answering. It was sort of a silly question, anyway, since everybody had already heard the story of her village, but probably Fritz wasn’t listening. He tended to think that she wasn’t very smart, which was wrong of him, but everyone had faults and his was clearly underestimating people. She tried not to get too upset at him about it, because Albin was much worse. It just wasn’t worth engaging with them most of the time.
“Do you remember what I said about my village?” she began, hoping that a brief recap would suffice. “About forty years ago, the Jottun stole my whole village away and did experiments on them. They turned them all into bears and then let them go, and none of them remember what happened. About half of them turned back into people after a while, and then I was born after my parents got married. Then we moved our village down near Lovis, and lots of beast people come there and my uncle and lots of other people are still bears. I have a cousin who is a bear, but no one else has ever started out as a person and turned into a bear… at least not that I know of.” Feeling uncertain and needing some comfort, even the dubious comfort that Fritz was likely to provide, Goldie scooped up a kitten from the pile of sleeping furry bodies and sat cross-legged next to the elf. She buried her face in the kitten’s downy hair and leaned against Fritz’s shoulder. “I just want to be a bear again, Fritz,” she said softly.
Fritz sat quietly for several seconds, before awkwardly shifting his position and patting Goldie on the back in an attempt to reassure her. Fritz stared into the dying embers of the fire of the night before, his mind racing for something to say. Fritz sighed, it would do no one any good to continue trying to explain why the Norscan had randomly assumed the form of a bear. Fritz reached for a nearby by piece of wood that was cut the night before and tossing it into the fire.
After what felt like too long for comfort, Fritz finally spoke up, trying to sound encouraging, “At least you got to make the Jottun pay. Not many people can say that, let alone as a bear.”
A tiny glimmer of joy penetrated Goldie’s fugue and she looked at Fritz out of the corner of her eye. He’d patted her back! He DID care! She’d known that he did all along, but it was really nice to have the confirmation. She nestled into his armpit while he had his arm up and kissed the kitten’s tiny head. It was good to have another friend, especially since she’d never thought that Fritz would be one. As the kitten purred, sounding like a sack of marbles rolling together, she replied more brightly, “You’re right! I DID make those filthy Jottun pay. Not as much as they’re going to, but it was a good start. I killed them pretty good with my axe AND with my claws.” Satisfied with that, she sighed and slumped into Fritz’s warm side. He sure was comfy.
“You sure are comfy,” she remarked. “Do you think that Albin’s hair can be used to make rugs?”