Welcome to the last post in the Shape Changer Adventure.
If you’re just stopping in and have missed this adventure, here’s a quick summary to catch you up. You’ve been hired to rescue the Westbrook boy, who’s been kidnapped by the Eastbrooks. To get to their castle, you shifted into a hawk and then you shifted into a mouse to fit through the window. A cat heard you sneeze and is about to enter the tower where you’re at. Just before the cat finds you, you shifted into a cat as well. However, Longtail, the Eastbrook cat, knows you’re not from his castle and gives chase. You race through the tower (the Westbrook boy isn’t there) and now you’ve decided to shift into a human in front of the cats, then back into a cat to enlist their aid. Let’s see if they attack you or help you.
Shape Changer Option Aa2: Human
You can’t shake the cats and they could be of help to you. You’ll chance them attacking but be prepared to fight if they decide you’re an assassin to eliminate.
Just as the cats come dashing into the room, you focus inward and fire washes through you. When your vision focuses again, all three felines are staring at you like you grew a new head. You kind of did.
Now that you’re sure you have their attention, you shift back into the silver furred cat they were just chasing.
Longtail gives a, “well I’ll be,” and flops to the ground with his mouth hanging open, out of breath from the chase. “Don’t see that every day.”
“What do we do now?” one of the smaller cats, a tortoise shell female, asks.
“Assassin or Spy?” Longtail asks.
“Neither,” you answer as you relax into a sitting position, “I’m looking for the Westbrook boy. From what I know, he’s here somewhere, kidnapped by the Eastbrooks.”
“They always keep the boys in the tower,” the tortoise shell says.
“I checked there first,” you chuckle ruefully and give Longtail a look.
He yawns with a satisfied sound. “They haven’t kidnapped one of the others in awhile. He’s not here.”
There’s a pause before one of the other cats says in a murmur, “Maybe he is.” This cat is a gray puff of fur so fluffy you wonder where his eyes are. He gets three curious looks from you and the others.
“Explain, Furball,” Longtail demands. You get the feeling Furball isn’t the cat’s actual name but more of a teasing nickname.
Furball scrunches in on himself in a nervous fashion. “They opened the North Wing last week. Sylvia’s been taking food up there.”
“Will you show me?” you ask.
Longtail eyes you, perhaps trying to decide if he trusts your story.
“If it’s just the boy you want, we’ll help,” he finally says. “We don’t like the human’s game of stealing each other’s kits. It’s barbaric.”
You thank them and they lead you out of the window. The room you shifted in boasts a large balcony. From there the three felines climb a drainpipe to gain access to the roof, which gives you fair entrance to most of the castle without being seen. You’ll have to remember this tactic.
On the far wing of the castle, Furball leads everyone down to another balcony. “That next balcony is the one leading to the room Sylvia’s been going into, but the doors there will probably be locked,” he mumbles.
“Inside hallway then.” Longtail leads the way.
Your timing is perfect as a young girl is walking down the hall with a tray held on her shoulder. Furball rubs her leg and she smiles.
“Not now, kitten, I don’t have a free hand.”
Furball shadows her down the hall to the next door. She unlocks it by turning the bolt above the handle and slips inside, Furball keeping to her heels.
As the door starts to swing shut, he bats it with a playful paw before scampering after his mistress.
Longtail leads the way into the room before the door fully swings closed again. You follow him under one of the beds, but it’s immediately clear that there’s more than just one occupant to the room.
Three boys, probably about thirteen or fourteen in age, sit at a rough wooden table. Although they’re dressed in plain cotton clothing, you recognize the Westbrook boy from his tousle of dark hair.
Sylvia sets the tray on the table where the boys are sitting.
“That’s it?” one of the boys protests.
Sylvia raises her hands in the air. “I only carry the food. Cook decides what gets brought up.”
“Sheesh,” Arion Westbrook scoffs.
Sylvia backs away from them a step before turning for the door. As she does so, her hand absently goes to the pocket of her dress.
Just before she opens the door, you dart out and launch yourself onto her skirts, being careful to hang on with just your claws in the fabric and not digging them into her skin beneath.
She cries out in surprise. “Bad kitty!” Her hand connects with your head and you’re flung back into the room. The door closes with a thud and the lock gives a clear click as she closes you inside with the boys.
One of the boys laughs. “Feisty cat.”
Furball comes out with his hackles up. You still can’t see his eyes but his next words make his sentiments clear. “You attacked my human!”
Instead of responding, you cough and spit out the key you pilfered from Sylvia’s pocket.
He gives an “ugh” like you hocked up a hairball on his toes.
Longtail sighs. It’s a long-suffering and disapproving sound. “Not the best way to get the key but I guess it worked.”
Arion Westbrook stands up from the table. “Did that cat just spit up a key?”
You wink at Longtail, stand up on your hindquarters and hug your front paws tight to your sides.
Fire washes through you.
Once your vision clears, you find the three boys backed up against the wall, staring at you in fright and the cats sitting on your feet.
“Don’t kill us,” one boy, probably the Southbrook boy judging from his almost white hair, whispers from dry lips.
“Sheesh.” It’s your turn to scoff. “If I was going to kill you, you wouldn’t have seen me coming.” You retrieve the key from the floor. “Time to make an escape. I was hired for Arion here but all three will do. Let’s go.”
They glance at each other but you don’t give them time to debate their choice. Unlocking the door, you step out into the hallway and motion for them to follow.
“You think they’d kidnap all three boys and leave them unguarded?” hollers a voice from behind you.
You spin to see a tall man coming down the hall. It’s not his size that makes you freeze, however, it’s his face. You know this man.
“Run,” you tell the boys, “follow the cats until they get you off the grounds and then head home. I’ll find you later.”
Longtail gives you a single nod. Just enough to let you know he’ll see them safely out.
The boys glance at you and the man and then take off running after the cats.
You meet the man’s dark look for a moment as you turn to race toward him and then you’re hugging your sides at the same moment he folds his arms across his chest. So far you’ve chosen domestic animals but you’re no longer worried about drawing attention.
You shift into a lion just as he changes into a large dog. You’re moving too fast for him to fix his mistake in time. As you clash, you swipe your massive claws across his shoulders. He rolls and tosses you away from him. When you try to spin to bite at his neck, he manages to sink his teeth into the delicate tendons of your hind leg. Pain flashes through you but you pull your paws inward and turn the pain into the fire of another shift.
Your legs expand into the thick limbs of an elephant and the other shape changer whimpers as his canine jaws can’t keep their hold.
The hallway is too narrow for an elephant to move much, but you can sit. You sit down on top of the dog. He wriggles around for a moment and attempts to shift a few times but his inability to pull a full breath of air keeps him from focusing enough to change.
Finally, he passes out.
Because of your injured rear leg, it takes you a while to catch up with the boys. When you do find them, you find they’ve negotiated safe passage home with a caravan transporting potatoes.
You don’t show yourself, but you keep watch as a hawk just to make sure they make it home. When you return to the tavern to retrieve payment from Vincent, he hands you several notes along with the money. They’re messages of thanks from each of the Brook boys. Although the Eastbrooks will never hire you, you’re quite trusted now by the North, South and West.
Well done and thanks for joining in the adventure! I hope to see you next time.