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Art Gallery / Birthdaytail!
« on: December 11, 2013, 07:52:42 AM »
Happy Birthday to my friend, Thronezwei! And thanks to Virmir for drawing it :3

He made you a cake! Sorta! He's doing his best!

Writer's Guild / Strangers of Bellwin
« on: November 26, 2012, 08:23:58 AM »
New York City's south wharf had been closed since the recession hit. Rusting boats sat tethered to moldy docks, left behind as owners lost the means to pay for them. The wrought-iron chain holding the gates shut were the only sign that someone still cared about what went on at the docks. Of course, if someone were to get around or through the lock, there were no security guards to catch them. It was a fact that three approaching teens were acutely aware of.

"You're sure we won't get caught, right?" Asked the copper-haired youth on the right. He looked anxiously over at his friends while playing nervously with a loose thread of his denim vest. Luke's family had only recently moved to New York. Growing up in southern Alberta had left him a little naieve to how things operated in the big cities. His idea of a night out was staying up till midnight hiking or watching movies-not breaking and entering.

"Even if we do, they'll probably just tell us to go home - 'sides, I don't think anyone cares about this place. Just rust and cobwebs." A brown-haired youth, only barely qualifying for being called a teenager anymore nodded. Almost 20, Ethan had lived downtown all his life and made a habit of exploring the area for inspiration to write stories and the like. A few scars told of times he'd fallen or tripped on his expeditions, but he bore them with pride.

"The worst thing you need to watch for out here is rusted screws or bolts point-up on the ground," the third added, brushing a few styled strands of his black hair from in front of his eyes and straightening out his black coat-more for looks than keeping him warm. The adventurer of the group, Dominic, had been the one to suggest this excursion. He'd cited the old wharf as a great place to 'hang out'. Whether this was merely a casual expression or a nod to his love of high-octane parkour was anyone's guess, but he'd convinced the others to come out with him either way. "You're worrying too much, Luke. Relax a bit, will ya?"

"R-right." Luke nodded as they approached the locked gate. Perhaps to show his support for the idea, he approached and tried pulling the lock off. When that unsurprisingly didn't work, he examined the chain for a weak spot. "It's on tight." He said to the others while eyeing the gate itself, which was a good three feet taller than they were. "Any plans for getting over?"

"There's probably a hole somewhere down the fence...or we could climb it. Either or."

"We'll need to climb it," Dom said, pulling a pair of gloves from his pocket and putting them on. He took off running towards a nearby cement block, leapt on top of it, leapt again to grab a beam overhead, swung off of it and landed firmly atop the fence. He hopped down onto a nearby shipping crate and tossed a hand-made rope ladder over for his friends to scale. "Or rather, you'll need to climb. I usually find my own way in."

"Oh wow." Luke blinked as he scaled the ladder. "It always gets me when you do that."

"Never gets old to watch." Ethan chuckled as he waited for Luke to finish climbing the ladder
"Never gets old doing it, either," Dom chuckled. "Drives my folks nuts, though. It's always 'You're gonna kill yourself one of these days', y'know?"

Ethan climbed over after Luke. There wasn't too much light, but they could see what they were doing well enough. "Yep. Remember that lecture your dad gave you last month? Thought your ear was going to fall off!"

The black-clad young man laughed. "I figured his mouth'd fall off first!"

Luke just nodded along. He was sympathetic to Dom's parents' point of view, but didn't think it was fair to openly side with them. "Well, hopefully the dangerous part is behind us. What do we do now?"

 "That's the easy part. We just explore, take photos, let our imaginations run wild or-"
Dominic was about to add something when a figure walking through the shadows farther down the wharf caught his eye. He looked over, eyes registering only a long overcoat and black Fedora before the shape slipped around a corner the young man had never noticed before. "Hey... did you see that?"

Ethan blinked.  He'd been looking in the same direction, but had caught only the barest hint of movement. "Saw something, yeah...looked human."

"Human, but not from around here-that coat was way too big for this weather." Luke added. He looked nervously at his friends. "We're going to follow him, aren't we?"

"Yeah. But only for a short while - if they want to be left alone, it's probably a good idea to leave them be." Ethan nodded and took off after Dom, pulling the hood of his jacket up to ward off the breeze that had kicked up.

"There's never been anyone down here before, and I wanna know why someone's around now," Dom said, eyes not leaving the corner the figure had vanished around. "Come to think of it, I've never seen that corner there before..." He started walking in the direction of the mysterious man's equally-mysterious exit.

"It's a corner of a building, how couldn't you notice it before?" Luke asked as he followed.

There was always a wall right there," Dom mused. He was keeping to the shadows as though trying to act like a spy. "Trust me, I've been down here a million times, and that corner wasn't there before."

"Well either your night vision isn't as good as you think or a wall just magically mo-bah!" Luke was startled by a strong gust of wind that blasted his face. "The frig was that?" he asked in bewilderment.

The blast of wind forced Ethan's hood down. The gust confused him, as the building should've been protecting the trio. "Wind,"

"You're asking the wrong guy," Dom muttered. He looked up at the sudden presence of car noises. "...Funny... Where's that coming from? The roads usually aren't that busy at this time of day."

Ethan quirked an eyebrow as he looked around - something somehow."There weren't any cars going by a second it sounds like we're in Times Square or something."

"The road is in the other direction. These cars would be driving over the lake." Luke turned. "And last I checked there was open water to our left, not another wall. We're in an alleyway, guys." His voice was a mix of anxiety and confusion.

Ethan blinked in confusion - Luke was right. But how on Earth did they get into an alleyway near a busy street? It didn't make any sense.

" it through? Not followed?"

"'Course I did! Not a mook ain't I?"

"Someone's up ahead!" Luke whispered. He shifted into a slight crouch.

Crouching down, Ethan dropped his voice to a whisper. "I heard 'mook'. Did we just walk onto the set of a gangster flick?"

"Small production, maybe..." Dom whispered. "This is cool...!"

The alleyway led to the back door of a run-down bar. Two men-one of whom looked to be the figure the three had followed-were speaking with a large gentleman with fierce eyes. All three were either wearing pinstripe suits or trench coats and fedoras. Their object of discussion was a crate on the bar counter.

Against what little good judgment he had, Dom stood up a bit further, getting a better look at the contents of the crate. He expected bottles of bootlegged liquor or maybe a cache of weapons and ammo, but found himself way off mark. Inside the worn, reinforced wood of the crate, row upon row of clear glass syringes rested in carefully-padded racks stacked one on top of the other. This would've been strange enough, but the syringes themselves looked better suited to a sci-fi film than medicine and were filled with a clear blue-green fluid that glinted in the bar's lighting.

Unfortunately for Dom, by standing up he exposed himself to the light filtering out from the bar.
"Bulls!" Shouted the man on the left. He had turned to get something from his coat and seen the youth standing near the doorway. Three clicks sounded as each man inside pulled a gun. "Hands up. Come inside. Slowly."

"That...could've gone better..." Ethan's voice was laced with fear as he stood up, hands raised in the air. He wasn't sure if being given a chance to surrender was a good sign or not.

Luke was frozen in place. It took the sound of the guns cocking again to make him move. Visibly trembling, he stood and raised his hands.

Dom silently cursed, putting his hands in the air where the guns and their owners could see them and stepping into the room. "Sorry about this, guys," he muttered to his friends. "Don't panic, we'll be all right." In truth, he didn't quite believe that himself, but he felt it necessary to put on a brave face for now.

The gentleman in the middle frowned. "Bruno you mook! These are kids, not cops!"

The one on the left winced. "S-sorry boss."

The one in the middle jerked his head to the one on the right. "Eddie, check them."

As Luke, Dom, and Ethan were patted down, the gentleman asked, "So if you three ain't bulls, what brings you to my humble establishment?"

"Curiosity," Dom answered honestly. "We didn't mean to interrupt anything, honest."

"We're not even that familiar with the area." Ethan nodded, hoping that being honest wouldn't get them killed.

"W-we were just playing at the d-docks!" Luke blurted. His eyes were fixated on the gun.

All three of the armed men exchanged looks. "Docks? There aren't any-oh!" A sudden realization. "You three from New York?"

"Yeah...that's where we are, right?"

A sinister grin spread across the face of the gentleman. "From New York and clueless to boot. This just became a golden opportunity." He turned to the thugs. "I said I wanted to see a test run, and it looks like we got the perfect volunteers. Even if it botches, no one'll know who they are."

He gestured and Eddie withdrew three syringes from the crate.

The confident grin that had been on Dom's face promptly fled. "...Wait, what?"

Eddie grinned as he grabbed Dom's arm and injected the syringe. Without pause he dropped the empty needle and injected Ethan and Luke in turn. "Just a friendly welcome to Bellwin. Hope you enjoy your stay."

Dominic would've asked what the man had meant, but before he could even form another word his body was hit with a wave of pain that put his worst parkour injuries to shame. He crumpled to the floor, gritting his teeth in agony and struggling not to cry out.

Ethan grunted as his whole body was wracked with a pain worse than a stopped up stomach. Unlike Dom, the youth managed to get a brief, inarticulate cry of pain out before crumbling as his body began to mutate.  As his chest began to expand and barrel out, he could see brown fur growing on his rapidly-muscling chest in two shades-lighter fur down the center his chest and darker fur across his limbs.

"Nononono!" Luke stammered. He tripped and fell backwards at the sight of his friends warping and twisting. "This is not happening-it's not happen-OW!"

His voice broke into a yowl of pain and a very audible *CRACK* as his face stretched and ears pulled out and flopped downwards. Luke grasped his new muzzle as if it could be pushed back in. His hands twisted and locked into a vice as muscles, tendons and bone broke apart and reformed. Fingers pulled down and nails grew out into claws while his palms thickened into leathery pads.

Through the endorphin-fueled haze, Dom could see and feel things that he knew were impossible. His chest barreled out as muscle and sinew formed from nothing under rapidly paling skin and strained the fabric of his shirt. He looked down at his rapidly-darkening hands and noted the appearance of an odd, smooth sheen. With a loud *SHRRIP* the back of his shirt ripped open to expose a growing, triangular mass of shiny black flesh to the cool air. With a similarly loud rip a thick, densely-muscled tail burst from the seat of his pants. Its ebon-skinned flukes slapped the floor as Dom clutched his head.

Ethan managed to bring a hand-much larger than his formerly lanky frame-up to his face. His nails seemed to...flow, enveloping the upper part of his fingers and looking increasingly hoof-like. His shirt and jacket-formerly comfortable-were growing tighter as a short tail poked its way out of his pants.
A short, pained gasp escaped Ethan's mouth as his legs grew more muscular. An almost sickening snapping sound marked his legs turning digitigrade. Feet and toes withered away and merged into a pair of two-toed hooves. Ethan clamped his eyes shut as his ears pulled out and twitched unconsciously at the sounds outside of the room.  His face cracked and popped out into a cervine muzzle. One last jolt of pain ripped through him as a decent rack of antlers sprouted out of his skull. Mercifully, unconsciousness fell at long last.

Dominic's warping skin had become a monochromatic blend of inky black and striking white arranged in prominent, easily-recognized splotches, but still wasn't done. Dom's skin began to thicken and take on a rubbery sheen. The entire process had been mentally dizzying and physically taxing. Dom was too drained to register his new shape, but everyone else present had gotten a front-row seat for his transformation from a wiry young human to a tall, muscle-bound orca-man. His blue eyes fluttered for a moment before his energy dwindled completely, and Dom collapsed on the floor with a terrific *THUD*.

Increasingly canine yelps pierced the air when Luke's legs pulled and bent. Fire struck his back as his spine lengthened out into a tail. His legs bent and molded. Joints and bone snapped and reformed to support a digitigrade stance. His feet thinned and toes merged into canine paws. Luke lay on the floor, huddled in the fetal position, whimpering between pained breathes. Fear and sweat and blood pounded against his new nose. His body was drained and cried out for rest. The last thing Luke saw before falling unconcious was a coat of fur erupting over his body-mostly black but turning tan on his limbs. Then the darkness overwhelmed him.


Dom sat up with a gasp, looking about in a panicked frenzy. Instead of a small room with armed mobsters, his eyes beheld the dull grunge and dirt of what looked like an old drainage ditch. His head throbbed, his body ached, and as he looked down absently, he realized that he was still big, muscular and monochromatic. Dom massaged his smooth forehead-devoid of his mop of hair-and groaned, looking about for his friends.

"Etha--!" His hands flew to his thick throat. Instead of the usual smooth tenor, Dom's voice had deepened to a rumbling, resonant low baritone. "Damn it, I don't even sound like me... Ethan! Luke!"

"'s too early to get up....holy shit!" The deer shot up, his own voice deeper, almost smoother now. Somehow, he'd managed to retain his hair, though it seemed to have gotten longer. The smell of the ditch assaulted his new nose as he looked at his cetacean friend with shock. "I was hoping that had been a dream...or hallucination."

In a daze Luke opened his eyes. He pressed them shut when he saw the paw-like hands splayed in front of him. A canine whimper escaped his throat. He didn't want to be here. He wanted to be home and human in his bed.

"What was that stuff they gave us? How is this...even possible?" Ethan asked. Wobbling to his feet, he made his way over to his canine compatriot and patted him gently on the shoulder. "Luke...I'm sorry I got you mixed up in this. It's my fault for suggesting we go exploring on the pier..."

"And it's my fault we got caught," Dom rumbled, staggering to his feet and shedding his strained and torn jacket. His black t-shirt was stretched taut against the brilliant white flesh of his chest, but aside from the hole his dorsal fin had punched in its back it was still in one piece. His pants weren't so lucky, but he left them in place, readjusting his belt over his new tail.

The touch of Ethan's hoof-hands was impossible to ignore. Reluctantly, Luke opened his eyes again and sat up. He shifted slightly to allow his tail to hang out the back of his pants.

"Our parents," he said, not looking up at his friends, "Our parents won't know what happened to us."

"As much as it pains me to say this, but...that's the least of our worries. We have no idea where we are, or how to get home..."

"Or how to get back to normal," Dominic added.

"Police." Luke said softly. "We need to find a policeman. Or a doctor. Someone who knows something."

Ethan would nod, then examine his arm - he'd always been on the lanky side, but now he looked rather fit. "Normal...yeah. And I hope the cops don't just shoot us or something."

"They won't if we don't act aggressive." Luke pressed. He was clinging to his faith in authority.

"We're also part animal."

Another whimper.

"'s just....I don't know what to do." The deer sighed heavily and looked out of the ditch

"There's worse things to be," Dom said, looking around. "An orca is many things, but 'bulletproof' isn't one of 'em. I'd rather be a live whale than a dead human..." He looked down at his new body with a scowl. "...Still, I'm not crazy about staying like this."

Luke stood up and took a deep breath. While the intent was to calm himself, the young bloodhound was instead met with a slick, burning scent. Alcohol and smoke and gunpowder hovered in the air like a miasma. He doubled over into a coughing fit at the assault.

"Ugh...the air's almost toxic. Where did those goons say we were again?" Ethan's face showed a look of disgust before he moved to see if Luke was going to be all right.

"Bellwin." Luke said between coughs. "I-I'm fine," he added hastily as he straightened up. "It's the scent. I can't believe how strong it is."

Between thoughts of how he was suddenly grateful to not have a nose, an idea flashed into Dominic's head. "Hey, Luke, aren't bloodhounds great trackers?"

Luke blinked. "I-I guess, but what does that--oh!"

"Son of can probably lead us back into town or something!"

Luke focused, following the haze of the thug's scent. "That way." he pointed eastwards along a stretch of road above the ditch. "They brought us from that direction and went back the same way."

In the distance, one could make out the image of a city.

Letting out a low whistle, Ethan climbed out of the ditch and bent down to help Luke get out. "Let's hope we can find some help...and a place to sleep."

A nod as Luke took Ethan's hand-the hoof-like fingers felt strange against his paw pads-and hoisted himself onto the road.

Dom tried once, twice to haul his titanic body out of the ditch, which seemed about a half-ton heavier than he was used to. After falling back in, he gave up and continued along until a shallower incline presented itself. "Damn all this weight..."

 "I don't think any of us are in any shape to do're too heavy, I'd catch my antlers on something..."

Luke snickered at the mental image. "Err, sorry," he said quickly after catching himself.

Dom growled in irritation. "...Let's just get to Bellwin."

Luke stumbled more than walked for the first leg of the journey. He kept trying to set his paws back on now-nonexistent ankles and almost falling over as a result. After being helped back up for the third time, he kept a more active focus on how he walked until the reflex was under control. The scent of the thugs was fixed in his mind now that he recognized it, and was easy to find despite the myriad of other smells coming from the cars zooming past on the road. It was jarring to suddenly experience the world through such a different lens. He rubbed his muzzle absently as he pondered.

"Is it just me, or does nobody seem to be giving us so much as a second look? You'd think a trio of morphic animals would create one hell of a stir..." Ethan watched as another car, looking like it was straight out of a gangster movie, rush right by as if nothing was wrong. The driver hadn't even turned his head.

Luke looked up. "Now that you mention it... yea. Even in New York, if a humanoid orca, stag, and bloodhound were walking down a highway someone would be reacting."

Dominic had been about to agree, but the roar of a low-flying jet engine drowned out the start of his comment. He looked up and gasped in surprise when something large, metal, and definitely not a jet plane rushed over the group's heads. It might've passed for an oddly-designed cargo barge if not for the fact that it was being driven by a block of blasting combustion engines affixed to its stern. "I'm gonna go out on a limb here," he said in stunned awe, "but I don't think we're anywhere near the Big Apple..."

"I...think you're right. It's like we stepped...I dunno, backwards and to the side in time almost. This is just...wierd."

Luke nodded slowly. Animal drugs aside, there was a lot about this place they didn't understand.
"Let's just keep going. We need to find a hospital or a police station or something. Somewhere to get help. And food..."

Ethan nodded in agreement, running his tongue over his teeth. Like the rest of him, they seemed to be a mix of human and animal, causing the deer to wonder if he could still eat meat. "Food sounds like a good deal..."

Dom ran a hand over his growling stomach and a tongue over his new set of pointed, curved spears that passed for teeth. 'This is crazy,' he thought. 'Luke's a dog, Ethan's a deer... I've got a crazy amount of muscle, and nowhere near enough stamina to use them. And now it looks like we're not even on Earth anymore." In spite of their predicament, he smirked. "Well, I always did want a bit more excitement in my life, and this is pretty damn exciting."

A mental sigh permeated Ethan's mind. "What a night...get sucked into another world, experimented on by Godfather movie rejects...I'm apparently a deer, Dom's gotta have at least a couple hundred pounds of muscle or something and Luke's shnoz can track guys...still...we're alive, and that's got to count for something."

Luke couldn't stop thinking about what would happen after they got to the city. Finding the police seemed like the right thing to do, but what about after? What if whatever the thugs injected them with didn't have a cure? How could he possibly explain this back home? Luke's throat tightened as he imagined trying to tell his parents that their son was now the family dog.

From the air, the City of Bellwin looked like a large web of concrete and steel built around a large circular lake. Cars, trucks, and all manner of pedestrian zipped to and fro along the roads running through the city in a polygonal circuit, or across the bridges spanning the octet of canals stretching from the reservoir at the city's core to its edges. The large cargo ships that were built for water landings often sought harbor in the man-made lake, while the owners of the fleet of smaller barges often milling about along the canals or across the lake made a bit of extra money ferrying supplies from the ships to the shore.

Luke gazed in awe at the city. Strictly speaking, it wasn't very impressive--the architecture looked like it was from the Prohibition era--but there was something about its sheer size that took his breath away.
"This had to have taken ages to It's like they built a city on top of some kind of canal between continents or something."

A musty scent drew Luke's attention to a sight closer to the ground. On the street corner ahead of them was a lanky mix of woman and housecat. "Look," he said, indicating the figure.

Ethan would look to where Luke was indicating and nearly gasped. The woman they were looking at was half-animal like they were - and going by how people weren't reacting to her... "I there some kind of mix here? Humans and...anthromorphic animals."

"It'd explain why we're not getting any weird looks," Dom admitted, rubbing his bald head in bewilderment.

"We're starting to get looks now..." Luke whimpered. He was right. Bystanders human and non alike were tossing the three quick glances. Most of the faces were riddled with disgust, though some were tinged with a wafting fear. Someone hurled a can from a passing car. The hound yelped in fright as it collided with the wall just above his head.

"Off the street, lush!" the person in the car shouted as it sped away.

"I'm not some drunk...what the hell?" Ethan grumbled as he shot the speeding car a hard look.

Luke poked the tattered shirt hanging off of Dom and looked to Ethan's disfigured clothing. His own outfit was mostly intact, but baggy and still coated in mud from the ditch. "Oh, son of a...we look like beggars or something."

"I'd do something about it if I could," Dom grumbled, sorely tempted to lob the can straight back. "Trust me, I hate walking around in rags as much as the next guy."

"So, what now? I doubt any of these people'll give us the time of day." The deer snorted in disgust, not really enjoying being looked down on like this.

A screeching siren pierced the thrum of the streets. A white ambulance whizzed through the intersection and around the corner. "Follow it!" Luke exclaimed. Ambulances led to hospitals, and hospitals meant doctors and policemen and answers!

The hospital was two blocks away. Luke gagged as they entered the emergency room. The mix of blood, medicine, fur, and various bodily fluids was overpowering. Without thinking he tore a loose piece of cloth from Dominic's tattered shirt and buried his muzzle in it.

"That bad, huh?"

A whimper.

Ethan looked like he was holding himself back from throwing up for a moment. "Let's...just find the admissions desk."

A plump, angry looking woman sat behind the triage desk. She gave a cursory glance at the three as they approached. "What brings you three fine Therians to our establishment today?"

"We got mugged earlier," Dominic explained, stepping forward. "They must've drugged us, too, 'cuz when we woke up in a ditch outside of town, those two had fur and I had a dorsal fin..."

The woman didn't blink. She just wrote something down on the chartbook open on the desk. "Leave your name and you'll be called when a doctor is available."

"Thanks, m''s been a rough night for us. I'm Ethan Ross."

"Luke Wright."

"And I'm Dominic Black."

Luke spent the wait with his legs pressed against his chest in the seat. He'd always thought of hospitals as clean places, but his nose was screaming otherwise. The only reason he wasn't trying to pull the others out of there was because this was the only course of action currently available. His heart leapt with joy, therefore, when an hour later a voice called out over the waiting room, "Ross, Wright, and Black."

"Thank's been hours." Ethan and the others would be led into an examination room where a thin man with a moustache awaited them with a clipboard.

He looked the three over. "So, you claim you were mugged and woke up with fur? How long have you been using tetramorphite?"

Blank looks all around.

"You might know it as 'morph'. Overdoses tend to result in humans gaining Therian bodies for a short period of time."

"B-but those thugs injected us ages ago! It was the middle of the night!" Luke protested. It pained him to have to discard the idea that their condition was temporary.

The doctor frowned as he examined Dominic first, presumably because finding track marks would be slightly easier on bare skin. From the way he acted, it was fairly obvious he'd treated Therians before, as well as addicts. He made more than a few 'hmm'ing noises before looking at the bichromatic cetacean.

"I don't see any other marks aside from the one...and you say you were dosed in the middle of the night? Even with overdoses, tetramorphite usually wears off after 4 hours or so."

"Isn't there a treatment!?" Luke asked. The desperation in his yipping bordered on hysterical.

"Calm down, Luke," the orca said. "Panicking's not going to help..."

"Please, calm yourself...there is one, but something about your case concerns me. Your forms aside, you're lucid, don't appear to be shaking, and don't show any signs of withdrawl. Tetramorphite is extremely addictive, and even first time users crash hard. If you would like, I could call someone in, see if he can help."

The bloodhound looked like an excited puppy. "Yes! Please! Thank you so much!"

"You're welcome. You're fortunate you pulled me as your doctor...many of my collogues are more prone to snap judgements. And if you return, ask for Doctor Gerard." With a nod, the man excused himself from the room to make a phone call.

Ethan let out a relieved sigh. "Thank god he believed us...who do you think he's calling, though?"

"No idea," Dom said, rubbing his temples. "If we're lucky, it's someone who can help us get our bodies back... or maybe a tailor," he added, gesturing to his torn threads. "But if we're as lucky as we have been since yesterday..." He trailed off, not wanting to finish the pessimistic statement in front of Luke.

Doctor Gerard entered the room a moment later, bearing some garments in his arms and tossing them to the transformed trio. "My friend has agreed to meet you - said your situation was worth looking into. He'll be meeting you at Angelo's on the corner of Gristol and Tyvia. I've also taken the liberty of finding some garments from the lost and found that seemed like they would fit you."

Luke's tail wagged exuberantly at the prospect of clean clothes.

"Whew...was getting tired of people looking at me like I was something they scraped off their shoe."

"Thanks, Doc," Dom said, unfolding the shirt he'd been tossed; it wasn't his style, but it'd do until he managed to get a hold of something better.


Writer's Guild / Longtail Species Guide
« on: November 14, 2012, 05:24:38 PM »
Been fiddling with this species. Inspired by a compination of Slightly Dammed's Jakkai and that larepin Donnie drew. Let me know what you all think!


Longtails Primer

Environment: Though native to arid and desert regions, longtails can be found in almost any area, though urban and arctic numbers are in the minority.

Diet: Longtails are omnivores and typically subsist on a mix of insects, nuts, fruits/berries, and meat. Meat usually comes from small game such as rabbits or snakes, though they are known to take down larger prey due to how they hunt (see below).

Appearance: Longtails stand at 3” tall, not counting their ears which are large, peaked, and several inches in length. Their bodies are covered in a coat of short fur ranging in colour from a light tan to dusty red to dirt brown. The colour is uniform across the body with two exceptions: bands of darker fur are not uncommon along the muzzle and approximately a third of all longtails have a different fur colour on their hands and/or feet. The nose of a longtail is whiskered. Longtails do not have hair in the conventional sense, though some have thick tufts of fur between or around their ears which resembles a head of hair.

A longtail’s hands have three fingers plus a thumb. Each digit is shorter than would be found on an equivalently scaled human hand, and feature leathery pads along the underside. The ‘handpaws’ are tipped in thick claws which are more suitable for digging than tearing flesh—though the latter is also possible. A longtail’s feet share the same paw-like traits as their hands, though the claws are more pronounced and there is of course no thumb. Longtails use a bipedal digitigrade stance while walking but will often bound forwards on all fours instead of running. This stance enables the use of their tail to help propel them towards (or away from) a destination quickly.

The Tail: The longtail’s namesake limb is a thickly-furred tail which extends to a length roughly equivalent to twice the longtail’s height, with an average of six feet. The tail is prehensile and has multiple uses. The first and most direct is in hunting. A longtail typically hunts by first hiding either through digging a shallow hole or by concealing itself in brush whilst allowing the tail to extend across a given area like a snare. When prey comes within range, the longtail will lash out with its tail and wrap the prey in a vice. Depending on the size of the prey in question and where the longtail has grabbed them, death is accomplished by bashing or squeezing tightly. The muscles in the tail are the strongest in the longtail’s body by a far margin and are capable of easily supporting the longtail’s weight. A longtail will often stand up on its tail as a means of making itself appear bigger or as a form of punctuation when speaking.

Day-to-Day: Longtails live in small communities of anywhere from five to twenty others of their kind. There are no typical den arrangements, but are always within earshot of each other. Longtails are largely independent during the day and will wander as far as several miles from the community. It isn’t until twilight that they return home, at which point the community engages in a communal meal while swapping stories of the day’s events. This period is known as 'homecall'. Although an individual longtail can remain away from the group for any length of time, they will always wait until homecall before returning to the community.

Culture: Longtails are a very ‘busy’ species. They think quickly, act quickly, and speak quickly, which has resulted in some unique elements of their culture. Sculptures and artwork are very important to longtails. Figurines composed of items encountered during one’s day are often exchanged during homecall the way humans would swap anecdotes. Making sculptures also serves to instill longtail young with the patience they will need to properly socialize and hunt.

Government: Longtails have no true hierarchy but instead use a system of situational leadership. In any situation where a longtail must work with another person, leadership is quickly assigned to whoever has the most relevant experience. In communal matters, this usually means that one of the eldest lontails in the community is in charge. When dealing with outsiders, it is whoever has interacted with the most members of other species. This system can be frustrating and confusing to those unaware of the practice.

Clothing: With the exception of pants, clothes are largely optional in longtail culture. More worldly longtails wear a sash onto which they will fashion self-made pins and buttons to represent important experiences. Longtails become dismissive of those who criticise their figurines or buttons, since their purpose is expression of a personal experience—not to get approval. They are, however, very accepting of constructive critique regarding stylistic elements or construction. Just don’t question why one event is worth commemorating more or less than another. Tails are usually unadorned but it is not unheard of for longtails to tie ribbons or belts near the base or tip. Patterns may sometimes be dyed into the fur.

Language: Longtail use whichever language they are exposed most to, typically that of the region’s dominant species. Despite this, there are common elements in how all longtails speak. Objects and creatures are rarely identified by a proper name. Instead, the longtails use a shorthand reference composed of two words. With creatures, the first word is usually something descriptive and the second is some form of physical reference. For instance, a bee would be a ‘buzzball’ and a dwarf might be ‘stoutbeard’. Objects are referred to in a similar manner, though the first word is often an action or sound it produces. An airship would be ‘flysail’, for instance.

The reason for this type of naming has to do with the busy nature of longtails. They do not give much time to proper analysis, labeling, or identification and instead rely on quick judgements. Even though multiple longtails could each use a different term for the same creature or object, the naming convention is constant enough that in a conversation they would be able to tell they are referring to the same thing.  In addition to how the words used in a shorthand name, longtails also deliver information through subtle inflection of syllables that emphasize or indicate other features. This quality makes longtails unusually skilled at condensing and transferring information among themselves. Several messenger services use longtails in deliveries.

Names: A longtail’s first name is usually something descriptive—typically related to a physical feature or circumstances surrounding the birth. This is the ‘hatchname’. On reaching adulthood at age 15, a second name is chosen based on a skill or event the individual is known for or considers important—called the ‘lifename’. The lifename takes the place of a first name and is how the longtail presents themself to the world. Using a hatchname when referring to an adult longtail is not considered offensive, but it makes the speaker appear to have only a superficial knowledge of the individual named. This is because the speaker is using a name based on surface-level traits.

Sample Names: Jumper Bushfur, Teller Shortfoot, Dash Skyglow, Snowstep Whitewater, Sentinel Two-Moons

Writer's Guild / Mini Story Sign-Ups!
« on: September 27, 2012, 01:18:23 PM »
Just pointing people towards a little project I have running on FA. I'd prefer to keep things consolidated when possible so if you want to sign up, please do so through FA and not here.

Writer's Guild / A Creative Problem [New Story!]
« on: September 05, 2012, 04:41:19 PM »
This was written together with Nitrinoxus and Thronezwei. It uses the Dreaming setting

Part 1

The mid-October air was crisp and bracing, which was a polite way of saying it was frigging cold. The streets of Bridgeport, Ontario, were largely empty as people hid in cars and coffee shops to avoid the temperature. For a pair of friends, this sudden drop in temperature had caught them unawares as they shared a walk home from their respective jobs. Seeking shelter, the two took cover in the closest store that wasn't jam packed with fellow refugees. The end result was the two wandering through an antique store under the watchful eye of its wizened owner. The first man calmly inspected each piece with forethought and appreciation for history. The second had to restrain himself from fiddling with the displays.
The former of the two stopped near one of the walls, stooping down to get a closer look at the shop's collection of clockwork gizmos and doodads. Among these was what had caught his eye as he passed: a small, crystal-walled box with brass and bronze inlay. He lifted the lid, admiring the mechanisms it held as the gears and wheels plucked out a soothing melody on a shining steel comb. "You are one beautiful piece of craftsmanship," he murmured, a few strands of his dark hair drifting out of place and casting shadows over his pale face.
His friend peeked over his shoulder, rust-red hair bouncing at his movements as he hummed along to the tune, waving a hand like a conductor's baton. An overly eager swoop nearly knocked over a vase. He smiled sheepishly at the stern look of the shopkeeper.

"It sounds nice, Zane." He said awkwardly.
Zane nodded, crystal-blue eyes looking across the rest of the collection. "Sure does, Sparky," he said, the melody fading away as he shut the lid of the box.
Sam 'Sparky' grinned. He loved the nickname Zane had picked for him. It was always odd to others that someone like Sam could be friends with one as dour as Zane, but he knew better. He could tell that there was something fun nestled under his friend's shell, and he was determined to stick around until he saw it out. "All this stuff is nice to look at, but not something I'd want to buy - too fragile, you know? Anything piquing your interest or should we see if we can survive the run to Tim Horton's?"
"This music box has, actually," the Zane said, lifting the elegant device off its resting place. "It doesn't seem right that such artistry should be collecting dust in a shop."
"Awesome!" Chimed Sam. "Oi! How much is the music box?" he hollered to the storekeeper.
"$75 for you. And would you mind not shouting in my store? This isn't a mall."
"$75! That's overkill!" Sam marched up to the counter. "Your box is nice but not that nice. $40 even, definitely."
"You've gotten on my bad side. 75 dollars is my offer - take it or leave it." The shopkeeper didn't look like he was going to budge off of that price.
"You can't do that! Jacking up the price for my friend just 'cause you got a problem with me!"
He turned to Zane, "Tell him!"
"Well, I'll agree it doesn't seem fair, but..."
Sam rubbed his forehead. "Seriously, man. You need to get some conviction in your bones. Show some anger for once!"
The little bell above the door range as a third young man entered. He removed a wool cap, revealing a hat head of dark blonde hair and some glasses. He'd seen the argument from outside, and his friends seemed to be at the root of it. "Something wrong, guys?"
Sam beamed at the newcomer. "Ian! Awesome timing! Come straighten this guy out! He's trying to gouge Zane!"
The shopkeeper frowned. "It's my store and I can charge what I like for why I like. You're lucky I haven't thrown you out yet."
"Seems to me that it's not Zane you're mad at, though." Ian looked over his friends. "I know Sam and Zane, and I'm willing to bet it's the former you're upset with."
The old man inclined his head. Ian continued, "I mean sure, he came in here with Sam, but it's not quite fair to punish one person for someone else annoying you." Ian sighed heavily as he stuffed his cap into his coat pocket and took his gloves off. His eyes glanced to the nameplate on the back of the register. "It's Mr. Reyn, right? Is there a price in the middle that you two can agree on?"
Sam grumbled. He looked at Zane. "$50 good for you?
"50 is fine."
"Will 50 be acceptable, sir? It's reasonable enough to be fair to you and him."
A sigh. "Yes, $50 is all right. Thank you."
A nod as the sandy-haired youth smiled. "Awesome. Thank you for this."
Zane pulled his wallet from his coat pocket and setting two twenties and a ten on the counter. "Sorry for the trouble, sir."
The three stepped outside, huddling under their coats as they waited for the bus. Sam slapped his friend on the back."That was awesome, thanks a bunch!" Sam beamed. "No idea how you're always able to do that, Ian. People just... listen to you."
Ian smiled a little at Sam's words - he really didn't like seeing people he knew fighting, and ever since he'd been a kid, had developed a habit of trying to step. It didn't always work, but more often than not, it seemed to. "I've had a lot of practice - probably helps that the owner's more bark than bite."
Zane nodded, the padded box protecting his purchase secure in the inner pockets of his heavy coat. "So... you guys wanna hang out at my place, or something?"
"I'm game!" Sam chimed
"I could go for that, man. Got plenty of time on my hands."
The bus took ten frigid minutes to arrive, but soon the three were en route to Zane's house. The ride was a little bumpy, but worth it once they arrived at their friend's centrally-heated abode.
"Ok. Zane. I am raiding your pantry." Sam said after taking his coat off. "Hot chocolates all around sound good?"
"No marshmallows for me, but sure." Ian nodded, eager to see the music box his friend had bought. He was no stranger to cold winters, but Ian hated cold weather with a passion regardless.
"No 'mallows and a splash of milk in mine, Spark." Zane said, removing the music box from his jacket and setting it on the kitchen table before hanging his coat and fetching his friends'.
Sam stuck his head out from the kitchen, giving Zane a strange look. "You don't even have marshmallows, man." he chided with a grin before returning. Soon the three were sitting in the living room clutching mugs of hot chocolate and looking at the music box. Sam had added a dollop of whipped cream to his.
Ian admired the item. He opened the lid and let its tune chime through the room. "This is one fancy music box you got, Zane...damn. I'm surprised that Reyn let it go for that little. Looks like it'd be worth triple that much."
Sam, who was in the process of drinking, snorted. "Ack!" he spluttered, "Gah, damn you're right." he said after recovering. "I bet he knew it was defective!"
Without warning he grabbed the box and began turning it over."Yea! See here!" He gestured to a spot next to the dial. "The wood's faded differently. Something's been covered up!"
He began picking at the spot. It was only a small square that had been replaced, so Sam was able to force it out with a bit of finagling. The section slipped out onto the coffee table, where he picked it up curiously.
"Well that's weird." Sam commented. "There's a design on the bottom. Here, take a look."
"Huh...looks like...I dunno..." Ian squinted his eyes at the symbols - they almost looked symmetrical when he did, but it was hard to take everything in. "Try squinting...looks like something."
"Why would you bother carving something like that if you weren't going to show it off?" Sam asked perplexed.
"Maybe they wanted to hide it...perhaps whoever carved it made a mistake."
Even though he was the one who asked, Sam was only half-paying attention. He had picked up the box again and was peering into the hole the panel had been covering.
"I doubt it, Ian," Zane said, examining the carving more closely. "This piece is newer than the rest of the box. Whoever added this must've done so intentionally... question is, why?"
"Hey," Sam interjected. "I think there's a second dial in here. I can't... reach it since the hole's so small. Zane, do you have a flashlight and some tweezers?"
Zane nodded, setting his hot chocolate down. "I think I do. Hang on."

Zane held the flashlight steady while Sam maneuvered the tweezers into grabbing the second dial.
 "This reminds me of when I used to pretend I was Indiana Jones as a kid," he giggled as he started turning the dial. "I'd go around prodding all the appliances and pretending hidden doors and switches would open up."
Ian chuckled as he began humming the movie theme. "Ever wind up breaking anything?"
"Nothing I couldn't blame on the cat." Sam said, eyes shifting.
After a few more moments of fiddling, the second dial clicked and began playing its song. This tune was very different from the one the box had played at the shop. While the first had been smooth and soothing, this song's deep chords and serpentine melody could easily be described as demonic. Looking at the small, crystalline box, Zane wondered how its clockwork innards could be producing such a menacing harmonic.
As the three watched, stunned silent by the box's encore performance, a fine black mist began to pour from within the transparent walls of the machine. Higher and higher it swirled, growing thicker and denser, the music box continuing to play oblivious to the ominous cloud above it. As the petrified audience looked on, the cloud began to solidify, forming a black clad body clutching a fine top hat in one hand and a black shoulder bag in the other. With a flourish, the shape placed the hat atop a raven-haired head. The figure turned, looking over its shadowy shoulder at the trio gaping at the gaunt, ebon-garbed man standing on the coffee table. He spun round and tipped his hat to the three as the music box finished its nightmarish symphony.
The man stretched and beamed at the three. "Wonderful! Marvelous! And you weren't bad yourselves, either! Like butterflies in the breeze - or salmon in a hot tub!"
He paused, then bowed. "But I digress. You have freed me, and so bask in the presence of... the Artist!"
"The wha? How'd you end up in that music box?" Ian looked incredibly confused, his mouth slightly agape.
"Very uncomfortably! Ugh, such a nasty thing, getting all scrunched up like that for so long. I've had an itch on my nose for what felt like AEONS but now that I'm out it's poof - gone! Like so much stray crumbs."
The Artist clapped his hands together. "But that is in the past - the horrible, horrible past. Now it's the present, and soon, the future!" His eyes swept the room, taking in every detail. "Oh dear," he tutted, "none of this will do. All so drab and unimaginative. No flair! No fun! Please tell me this is a freak and unrepresentative home which will soon be demolished by rampaging hordes of proper taste?"
Zane blinked, unsure what to make of this unusual man who'd popped out of a music box and started insulting his decor. "...Umm... I don't know if there is any rampaging proper taste around here," he said, still trying to wrap his mind around this.
"Well that's tragic! Clearly I've been away for far too long!" the Artist's eyes gleamed. "Taste! This world needs taste! And smell, but taste is what I can provide so we'll leave the smells to someone else."
"We've taste...but how long were the box?" Ian wasn't entirely sure on the man's sanity, given what he was going on about. He also sounded more than a little Scottish at moments.
"Too long. Far too long. Also, no idea. Could be a week, could be a century. I could've been shut in next month and ended up out beforehand - no real way of telling." He cracked his knuckles. "Alrighty! Here's what I'm thinking. The world needs more me, and you three need a reward for getting me out of that box, so I'll be making you part of my portfolio! It'll be fun! There'll be benefits! Health breaks! Coffee insurance!"

Sam leaned back towards the others. "Hey..." he whispered quickly, "I'm all for fun and adventure... but we might be in over our heads with this."
"No kidding," Zane muttered, warily watching the Artist at work.
Ian, now completely convinced this man was insane, leaned towards Sam and nodded. Still, perhaps there was a way to him to just leave? Insane didn't always mean unreasonable. "We're uh...flattered, but we're all gainfully employed. Perhaps we can exchange e-mails on the weekend or something along those lines?"
The Artist nodded understandingly. "Ah, I see. Thank you very much for informing me. It makes things so much easier, really." He floated over to the door and took something out of his bag. The man began rubbing whatever it was over the door, much to the trio's confusion. This didn't last, as they soon saw that the door had begun to vanish. The wood began to fade from existence and reveal a solid wall as the Artist literally erased the only exit.
"Thank you so much, again, for alerting. It would be terrible if you ran off first."'
Ian crossed his arms. "We don't get a say in this? That hardly seems fair to us - we did do you a favor by letting you out. It's only fair that you return the favor by letting us go."
The Artist moved next to Ian in a single fluid motion and peered into the youth's eyes. "Hmm, you do that sort of thing a lot, don't you? The whole mediator bit? I can see it, yes, definitely a bit of a judgey-udgey in you. Not a lot to work with but I think I can manage."
Without warning he grabbed at Ian's head and pulled away carrying a single wisp of hair. From his bag he drew a large lump of clay and began winding the strand around it. The gray mound rippled and flowed until it had reshaped itself into the likeness of a human.

The Artist cracked his fingers again. "Now then, watch a master at work! If I know my mythology right...."
"If you...what?"
The Artist began molding the doll. Ian felt something pressing into his hands. He looked down to see his skin rippling and churning, kneading like dough. Or like clay. Ian looked up sharply, eyes locking on to the clay doll. The Artist was in the process of reshaping it. As he worked, a wracking sensation struck Ian's body. It wasn't painful, but by all rights it should have been as he felt his bones and muscles squirm.
As the doll's hands started to look like more canine paws, Ian's followed suit. Claws lengthened out from his fingernails, pads puffed out on his fingers and palms, all the while black fur began to spread. His frame rippled as the Artist continued to mold the doll, and Ian felt himself bulk up slightly.
As his body grew more toned and covered in fur, his pants altered themselves. The fabric turned black and manifested a gun holster and a hole in the back through which a bushy tail poked through.
"The hell are you doin' to me?" Ian asked. He was startled by how his voice had changed. It was deeper with a slight drawl.

"Well I can't use the full Anubis theme, can I? Egypt was cliché when Alexandria was new. If you're going to be the decider, at least do it in style!"

The Artist went to work on the doll's lower body. Ian almost fell over as his legs and feet were wrenched into a digitigrade position. His shoes reformed as a pair of wrappings around the unpadded portions of his long, clawed paws. The transforming youth stumbled as he adjusted to the new stance.

His upper garments changed shape from a simple shirt to a dark body armor with a bandolier slung over a shoulder. Moving upwards, Ian grunted as the Artist started tugging at the doll's ears. Sam and Zane got a good view as Ian's ears grew long and triangular. His face artfully extended out into a canine muzzle, nose black and wet, teeth sharp. Ian had to squint when his eyes changed to piercing amber.

To top off the changes, a long tan duster settled onto Ian and a gold star-shaped badge manifested over the jacket's breast.
The Artist nodded as the jackal-man looked himself over. He looked at the badge. "What am I, some kinda sheriff? Who the hell are you?" he demanded.
"The Artist, of course! I've tried being other people, it never worked out. And you, my fine friend, are a perfect picture of professionalism!" The man made a frame with his fingers and eyed Ian through it. "I think I'll call it, 'the Arbitrator'!"
"It? I've gotta name, y'know. It's Ian...and you've had your fun with me. Mind lettin' the others go?" His ears were laying back in annoyance for a moment, but he forced himself to be calm. There had to be a way out of this.
Zane slowly lowered himself onto the couch, torn between terror and amazement. He'd just watched this odd, impossible man turn one of his friends into what Anubis would've looked like if he lived in the Old West, using nothing but a strand of hair and a mound of what he could only describe as voodoo clay. Though a part of him knew a similar fate likely awaited himself and Sam, he couldn't help but feel strangely impressed by the Artist's skill. "Incredible..." he muttered.

"Damnit, Zane! Now isn't the time to be calm!" Sam exclaimed.

"Yea, Zane!" The Artist chided in a mimicry of Sam's voice. He chuckled before flowing over to Sam. "You're an excitable one, aren't you? All twitchy and titchy, eh? Oooh, but you're fun I can tell! I bet you're just bouncy on the good days."
Sam stepped back. "I-I'm really not..."
The Artist grabbed his arm. "No point protesting, lad - it's written all over your insides, I'll say! And you're the one who spun me free, aren't you? Well surprise! That means you get to be next!"
He produced a sketchbook and an oversized pen, which he twirled effortlessly across his fingers before stabbing Sam in the shoulder.
"OW!" Sam yelped. "What was that....f..f..." he stumbled on the spot, suddenly muddled. It had just become incredibly hard to think. He tried speaking but his tongue sloshed around in his mouth. It took a moment for Sam to realize that this had been done literally. His whole body started to run like a water-damaged painting, flowing into the pen still embedded in his shoulder. Ian and Zane were able to catch a terrified look before Sam's body completely lost integrity. It was sucked up into the pen just as soon as it liquefied.
Zane was dumbstruck and at a total loss for words. Ian's eyes went wide with fear as his friend was sucked up like water through a straw. He wasn't normally stricken for words, but all he could manage at the sight was an inarticulate noise of shock and anger. Quickly recovering, Ian's ears drew back and lips curled into a snarl. "What th' HELL did you DO?"
He bared his claws and advanced on the imp. The fur on his cheek rippled as something hurtled past his head and into the wall with a sharp *tunk*. Ian turned to see a pencil embedded several inches into the wall behind him. The Artist had hurled it like a throwing knife.

"Do not interrupt a master at work!" the creature bellowed. He crossed his legs, floating in mid-air, and propped the sketchbook open on his lap. The next several minutes were filled with a painful silence as the Artist used Sam as the ink for whatever it was he'd decided to draw.

"Aaaaand.... done!" He finally exclaimed proudly. He turned the book over and whacked the back of it. Out of the book and onto the floor fell what could only be described as a cartoon fox. Its small body - only half Ian's height -  was surrounded by a black outline. A large white-tipped, bushy tail hung behind it. The fox wore nothing save for a pair of white three-fingered gloves and blue shorts. Its colours, from the white its paws to the orange of its fur, were unnaturally bright and uniform.

"Y-yip?" Sam squeaked slowly. His eyes were currently a pair of dizzy swirls but soon settled into large blues. He looked around. "I-Ian! Zane! I was just-yip!"
Sam's eyes went literally wide as he looked at himself and felt along his muzzle, ears, and ink-furred chest. "What's this supposed to be!?"
"Terrifically toonish, of course!" The Artist boomed with pride. He made another frame with his fingers. "Title: 'The Inner Child'. A nice ring, wouldn't you say?"
"No! I wouldn't!" Sam yipped in protest as he bounced up onto his paws. It might've been the height difference, but his expression really did seem like that of a pouting child.
Ian grimaced. The Artist didn't seem very interested in their protests, much less that they were alive and not material for whatever he was doing. "Now see here...ya've had your fun. You got t' change me and Sam - how 'bout we call it even and you mosey on home? After ya change us back, 'course."
The Artist tilted his head. "Why would I stop if I'm not even done? You don't stop chewing food halfway through! You'd choke! Get a big ol' slice of melon in your throat and die. Nasty business, that. So I'd prefer to finish. Avoids melon death. And there's just one to go, too!" he chimed while gliding over to Zane. "Now, what to make of you..."
"My family doesn't even know what to make of me," Zane said coldly, looking up at the Artist. "I rather doubt someone I've just met could fare any better."
The Artist looked disappointed. "Oh. You're one of those, aren't you? All bland and uninteresting. I could be dancing naked or kicking baby walruses or making baby walruses kick puppies and your look wouldn't even change, I bet!  But let's see... there's definitely something under there..." He closed one eye and squinted. "Yes... definitely... but it's so... mixed. You'll be quite interesting to work on."
He cast about the room and settled his gaze on the music box. With an inspired grin he began to fiddle with the box's mechanism. The three couldn't help but notice that the dial was turning as he worked.
As the Artist fiddled, the box began to play and a white mist seeped through the man's fingers to weave its way around Zane's feet. The young man attempted to kick the mist off, noticing with a sense of dread that the musical fog was making his body feel heavier and heavier. Alongside the heaviness came a numb, tingling sensation, all feeling fleeing his body. Zane felt his limbs go limp at his sides, his eyes drifting down the length of his torso as the changes began.
As the now immobile youth looked on, his clothes began to harden, fusing to his body as their hue and color changed from black to a metallic golden brown. The changes climbed, crystalline blues and gleaming golds appearing in the cracks in what appeared to be a forming suit of armor. Zane watched the ornately decorated metal plates ratcheting themselves down on his chest, vaguely aware of a stretching on his head. He closed his eyes, noticing the almost hypnotic tick-tick-ticking of the music box as the changes overtook him.
Although Zane couldn't tell, his friends could clearly see that the metal plating was not armor, and the ticking wasn't coming from the box. As the music had woven its charms, Zane's body had been changed from flesh, blood, and bone to bronze, crystal, and clockwork. His face now bore a metallic muzzle jutting forward beneath a pair of oversized ears and a mess of waving, lightly glowing tendrils of energy that could pass for hair. A dyad of meticulously patterned, artistic wings stretched behind the former human's back, a wire-lined tail flicking almost casually at his side. His feet, since changed into three-toed, digitigrade paws, rested heavily on the floor, the steely claws at the tips of his bronze-plated fingers partially retracted. Where Zane had been, a chimeric clockwork construct now rested, glowing blue eyes flickering open as the song came to an end once again.
Sam inched towards the machine, ears and tail low. "Z-zane?" he said tentatively. "Y-you in there?"
"My...god...what th'..." Ian's mouth hung open in a mixture of awe and fear. Zane looked incredibly intimidating in his new form. A constant ticking sound emanated from his body. "Zane... "
Zane blinked. "Yeah, I feel fine," he tried to say, but the only sound that came out of his mechanized mouth was a metallic vibration not unlike the notes of a harmonica; his hands flew to his throat, eyes going wide.
The Artist chuckled. "Ta-da! A golem! Perfect for someone so bland like yourself, wouldn't you say? Of course, I had to spruce it up a bit. You're dull as an egg on the inside, but FABULOUS on the outside!" He made another frame with his fingers. "How about... 'Metallized Music'?"
The golem glared up at the Artist, eyes burning furiously. "As if changing me wasn't bad enough, you went and made me mute, too?!" he raged, a melodic stream of notes and trills replacing every word like a musical censor.
"Oh, so NOW you want to express yourself! Well, I hope you've learned your lesson." The man chided. He gazed around at the musical golem, the cartoon fox, and the jackal sheriff. "Ah, such a wonderful collection and I've only been free for an hour!" He took a deep breath and smiled. "And there's a whole world of bad taste just waiting for me! Such a fine time to be alive. Well, actually it's a terrible time with so much horrible, horrible taste running rampant, but I shall persevere!"
The Artist tipped his hat and snapped his fingers. The door reappeared. "Ta-ta for now, my beauties! Try not to get damaged while I'm gone - you're the first originals in my new portfolio after all!" In a blink, he had flowed out through the door and away.
Stunned silence filled the room for several moments until Sam couldn't take it any longer. "What the fox just happened?"

Writer's Guild / Stuck in Bed [For Trask!]
« on: August 15, 2012, 07:56:15 PM »
Get well soon!
   Tyler was sick. Not ‘sniffles’ sick or ‘flu’ sick,. He was ‘half-dead in bed while germs do the tango across your organs’ sick. A steadily melting icepack on his forehead fought a losing battle against his raging fever. Three layers of quilts were lumped over his chest to keep back the chills. A bucket next to the bed awaited his next, futile attempt at keeping medicine or food down.

   A door opened and closed from somewhere downstairs. Tyler barely noticed the sound. That it was likely Mark returning from a run for more tissues was only a hazy acknowledgement. Still, Tyler was grateful that his friend and co-worker had taken the day off to keep him on this side of the Styx.

   The standard treatment for Tyler’s condition was bed rest and lots of fluid. An army of water bottles was providing the latter, but the former simply wasn’t happening. Between his fever, the chills, burning throat, and squirming insides, saying Tyler couldn’t get comfortable was like saying crossing the Himalayas while juggling on a unicycle takes a fair amount of finesse. The clock hadn’t even struck noon and already Tyler felt like he’d been sick for days.

   A groan rumbled out from beneath the blankets as Tyler made another attempt at movement. A hand that felt like it had weights hanging off reached out and fumbled blearily for a water bottle. It found one and vanished under the covers with its prey. Tyler winced as light pierced his quilts and moved a pillow to block the hole. Even with the blinds drawn there were still bits of sun getting into the room. To his migraine, each sliver was a blinding shaft.

   Tyler began draining the water bottle. He cringed with each swallow as a swollen throat pulsed in pain. His drink was interrupted when his head hit the mattress. With a spluttering cough, Tyler felt around for his pillow. He grabbed something fluffy and squishy.

   “Bluh?” he mumbled blearily as he pulled the object next to him. Gray-furred and bushy-tailed, even Tyler’s fevered mind could identify it as a plush fox. Had Mark dropped it off without him noticing? He rubbed the funny-looking robe the toy was wearing. It was soft; very... very soft.

   Tyler yawned. It would have to do. He brought the toy close and rested against it. The plush squished in as if cradling his head. It was nice, he thought dreamily, almost like he was being hugged. Tyler’s eyes grew heavy as he enjoyed the cuddly, soothing embrace of the toy.

   A warm breeze stirred Tyler. He shrugged it off, wanting to continue lying against the comforting blankets. He wrapped his hands around the cloth and squeezed to hold it tighter. The blankets squeaked.

   “Eh?” Tyler puzzled. He opened his eyes and looked up. Two shining black spheres stared back.

   “Gah!” He yelped, leaping up. He’d been lying on top of that fox plush, only now it was huge – easily his size.

   “Aww, and we were having such a nice snuggle.” The toy said as it stood. “But at least now we can play!”

   Tyler stumbled back and fell over. The ground was patterned like a patchwork quilt. Actually, from how soft it was, it could easily be a real quilt. Tyler looked around in confusion. He wasn’t in his bedroom anymore. Trees that looked like they were made of felt dotted the quilted landscape. A sky of watercolours and crayons hung overhead. Jungle gyms and giant forts made of LEGOS dotted the scene.

   “Like it?” The fox said. It offered a plush paw to help Tyler up. He accepted it, still staring around.


   “The dreamland!  One of them anyway. You know how kids think their toys are alive?”

   Tyler nodded mutely.

   “Well, this is where those emotions go. Neat, huh?” Even though its stitched mouth never changed, Tyler had the impression the plush was beaming at him. “I’m Trask by the way!”

   “Uh, Tyler. So I’m... dreaming?”

   “No, silly!” Trask giggled, “It’s a dreamland. Easy mistake, I know. You were all blurgy and sick and miserable and couldn’t rest and I had to do something to help! So I brought you here—well, part of you, technically. Only a person’s inner child can enter this place.”

   “A person’s inner child?” Tyler repeated quizzically. As the words left his mouth, he became aware of how higher his voice was. He looked down at his hands. They were definitely smaller. Way smaller. He also wasn’t wearing his pyjamas anymore. Tyler had on a pair of shorts with a watermelon pattern and a T-shirt covered in Hawaiian fruits. It was a silly outfit but had been his favourite when he was ten.

   “I’m ten?”

   “Well, ten-ish,” Trask admitted, “I figured this way your body could get some rest while we play together here.”

   “Play...?” Tyler looked from the toy fox to the bizarre world around him. “N-no, I can’t. It’s just too weird.” he started to back away.

   “Aww, c’mon, Ty!” Trask pleaded.

   Tyler broke into a run.

   “W-wait!” Trask called after as he tried to follow. “Please come back! There’s nothing sinister going on, I swear!”

   Unsurprisingly, a ten-ish year-old brimming with energy was perfectly capable of outrunning a plush fox. Trask eventually lost sight of Tyler and stumbled back to where they had entered the world. He leaned against a felt tree, unsure of what to do next. Even if they weren’t together Tyler’s body would still get a good rest, but it didn’t feel right to let him go wandering the dreamland alone. There wasn’t anything really dangerous but all the same...

   The fabric leaves rustled above Trask’s head. He looked up curiously.

   “SIKE!” Tyler yelled as he plummeted from above.

   “Yip!” Trask squeaked in surprise. He was knocked off his feet and fell over with Tyler on top of him.
   “Hah! Got you!” Tyler exclaimed happily as he hugged the toy fox. “You totally fell for that!”

   Trask snugged the boy back, very relieved. “That you did!”

   “So c’mon already!” Tyler urged. “Last one to the swings is a rotten egg!”

   He ran off towards the jungle gym before Trask had even gotten back up.

   “Hey, no fair! You have a head start!”

   The plushie raced after as best he could. The sounds of their laughter rose up into the bright, dreamland sky.

Writer's Guild / The Dreaming [RP Log]
« on: August 13, 2012, 07:42:57 AM »
Zwei: The summer heat, for once, had seemed to fade, if only due to the rainstorm currently dumping countless gallons of water on the city. Not that it mattered much to Alex as he was in the local Barnes and Nobles, enjoying a muffin and soda. More than a few novels and other books were stacked on the table in front of him. Some, he had already bought - others were just there for him to read without jumping the gun on the others. As he watched a bolt of lightning flash by through a window, he checked his watch.
Wendel was a little late, though Alex wasn't overly surprised. The guy always seemed to run on his own time. Sometimes, people would wonder why the two were friends - Alex was curious, fond of learning, but somewhat straightlaced, whereas Wendel seemed eccentric, especially fond of odd combinations whether it be clothing or food. But still, the two had known each other for about a year, and regularly met to chat and the like.

JonasB: The door swung open as Wendel sloshed into the bookstore. Instead of rain boots, Wendel was wearing a pair of large red ski boots. They contrasted oddly with his jeans and loud hawaiian jacket. Breathless, but eager, he scanned the sitting area and quickly narrowed in on Alex.
 "Heya!" he exclaimed as he sat down across from his friend. "Sorry I'm late!"

Zwei:  While Wend’s outfit got more than a few odd looks from the crowd, Alex just grinned and waved his friend over, clearing away a few books from the table. One seemed to be on warships, the other a Steampunk novel of sorts.

"No worries, Wendel. Just glad you didn't get swept away by the rain. If I'd known it was going to, I would've picked a place closer than this."

JonasB:  "Nah, it's cool. I was able to get here pretty quick from work." Wend eyed the books. "What's in today's haul?"

Zwei:  "Eh, the usual. Got some information books on 20th century warships, and my usual diet of fantasy, steampunk and urban fantasy. Really liking the one with the hospital for supernatural beings."

JonasB:  Wend looked at the cover. "’E.E.R:  Enchanted Emergency Room'. Interesting. Wonder how that would work. Like, do you think there'd be weretigers coming in with catnip overdoses?"

Zwei:  Alex chuckled a little - Wend's mind went to strange places at times, but given the context, it wasn't exactly out of the ordinary this time. "Hah. Maybe so - the blurb does mention this isn't just your usual supernaturals. Still kind of surprised you don't write - I'd bet there'd be a publisher for you out there."

JonasB:  "Nah, I'm not up for that. I just like the ideas. Real stories need plots and characters. I just enjoy musing "You're more likely to catch me annoying an author than being one."

Zwei:  "Fair enough, I suppose. You're just one of the most creative guys I know. But hey - your work's lucky to have you...even if I don't quite understand what you do." He'd smile a little, wincing briefly as a rather loud boom of thunder echoed overhead before looking back to his friend. "Want something to eat? My treat."

JonasB:  Wend nodded. "Sure. One of those ginger cookies if you don't mind."

He followed Alex to the counter. As the purchase was made he added, "It's good that you mentioned my job, actually. I was wondering how to bring this up."

Zwei: As the young man finished the transaction and the pair sat back down, Alex cocked his head to one side. "Bring what up? Is everything okay work?"

JonasB:  "Yes, mostly," Wend explained between bites of cookie, "my boss is starting to feel shorthanded. I pull a lot of extra duties as his assistant but he's starting on bigger projects now. I can't keep up so he wants to hire someone else to take some of the slack."

Zwei: "I'm happy to hear he's starting on bigger things, man! But, hmm...would you mind putting in a word with him about me? I've had no real luck looking for a better job than what I've got now. Assuming he'd be willing to take on someone who doesn't really know what you do."

JonasB:  Wend looked both excited and relieved. "I was actually going to ask you if you were interested! My boss cares more about a person's curiosity than any real skills, to be honest, so I thought you'd be a good candidate." He inclined his head towards some of the books. "I mean, you love talking about steampunk and sci-fi and stuff. We have great chats about all kinds of 'what if's."

Zwei:  "That is true, man. you were already thinking of asking me. But if your boss would be willing to have me on, I'd love to have the job." Alex looked relived and surprised at the statement his friend had made. But given that he'd been trying to get a new job for the past few months without success, this seemed like a golden opportunity.

JonasB:  "I'm glad you like it! It'll be great to work with you!" Wend's expression was like an excited kid just dying to share a secret "There's so much to see and do! Did you already buy your stuff? Can we go now?"

Zwei:  Alex blinked in confusion at how excited his friend was. On the one hand, it was good to see Wend so happy, but on the other hand, it was just a job. Still, he'd paid for the books he'd intended to get, the receipt buried under the cover of one of them. After getting the canvas bag he took with him to the bookstore, he nodded. "Uh...sure. Is your boss even open for business today?"

JonasB:  "Sure! I already told him! He's dying to meet you!" Wend gushed. He was guiding Alex down the street to a GAP store. "C'mon! Just through the door!"

Zwei:  The fact that he was being guided so quickly was a surprise for Alex, but he'd wondered how Wend's boss had known he'd shown interest. Wendel hadn't left his sight, and he hadn't seen a cellphone either. But he didn't really have much time to think of it right now - if it meant getting a job, he'd ask later. He'd place his hands on the door handle and open it up- stepping through, bag clutched in his other free hand. "You're pretty excited about me working with y-"

JonasB:  Alex wasn't in a clothing store. He was standing in a large, cluttered area. Strange devices of metal, wood, and plastic were scattered about in various states of completion. Jars filled with small animals, plants, and strange glowing jellies lined bookshelves. Alex looked behind him but the door he had come through was gone.

Wendel was standing a few feet in front of Alex. He was still beaming, unfazed by this sudden shift in location. "Like it?"

Zwei:  "I...Wend, where the hell are we? This doesn't look anything like a clothing store! I mean, it's interesting, but...where ARE we?" The young man seemed flabbergasted, looking around in confusion, before giving his friend an odd glance. Why didn't Wend seem even slightly wierded out?

JonasB: There was a hiccupping from behind what looked like a diamond-shaped globe. A man shuffled out. Wend moved aside to let him pass. “Alex, meet the Tinker. My boss.”
The 'Tinker' was an extremely small man with giant eyebrows. He shuffled up to Alex and peered at him through a pair of square goggles. The eyebrows raised and furrowed as he 'hmm'ed over Alex.

Zwei:  "Who...are you? Sir?" For the moment, the man seemed to be ignoring Alex's questions, seemingly intent on examining him.

JonasB:  The Tinker wasn't paying attention. "You're the friend, yes? He didn't bring the wrong person? I can smell that curiosity in you, yes. Definitely good material either way. You'll be wonderful to have aboard! A magnificent guard!"

He turned to Wend. "Oh will you please take that ragged thing off? I need you now."

Wend glanced at Alex with a nervous smile. "Roger, boss." He shifted oddly, like he was trying to worm his way out of a straightjacket. Suddenly, Wend's skin lifted off like he was taking off a shirt. What was beneath... 

It took Alex a moment to register what he was looking at. The creature that had been wearing Wend’s skin and clothes was nearly seven feet tall. It was a machine—completely inorganic—and looked to be made of several different animals. Its entire body glinted metallically in the light, even through its tiger-¬like colouring that was complete with stripes. Powerful, paw-like hands with steel claws and rubber pads flexed in pleasure at being free from the skin-suits confines. A segmented, serpentine tail flowed downwards instead of legs. Its head was shaped like that of an Asian dragon. Two long, cord-like whiskers extended from the muzzle-like snout

The chimera's eyes were screens that glowed green as they flickered to life. "Hi." it said. Wendel's voice came from the robot's maw. It held the same emotion his greetings always did, but a mechanical undertone resonated through the syllable.

Zwei:  "I...I...Wend? What that really you? Who are you? Guard? Material?"
To say that Alex was confused would have been calling the sun slightly warm. It looked like he was on the verge of passing out from sheer overload. The fact that his friend was some kind of mechanical chimera, combined with the vague mutterings of the ‘Tinker’ were a lot to take in all at once. "Where...where the hell am I?"

JonasB:  The Tinker scoffed. "My workshop! Where else? You wanted to work for me, yes? You're quite good, I think. Yes you'll do well. But I can see problems, definitely problems. You won't do at all like this."
He began prodding at Alex; pulling at his hands, peering at his palms, and generally violating every possible unwritten rule of personal space. "No, no, no! None of this will do! Fortunately, I can help, yes!"

Zwei: "Help with what? Aside from my eyesight being lousy without glasses, I'm in perfect health!'re his boss? Is this why I never understood a word of what he said he did for a living?" He'd look resentful from having his personal space violated before the madman's mutterings clicked.

JonasB: "Well I can't say for how Wendel explained my work. I find it all perfectly understandable! Fortunately your comprehension doesn't matter, only your interest! Imagination! Curiosity!"

Zwei:  In the confusion, Alex had dropped his bag, the book on warships having skidded across the floor and gently tapping against the man's boots. He still wasn't making much sense, though, and the confused and dismayed look never really seemed to leave Alex's face. "I...don't really get're going a mile a minute."

JonasB: The Tinker looked down and picked up the book. He mused over the cover before holding it up. "This. You look into. You look up. You indulge your 'whys' and 'hows' and 'what ifs'. I like that! I need that! Because all I do is the 'what ifs' and 'whys' of life!”

He made a gleeful chuckle. “And now you can help! And I can help you! I need a new man. You need a job according to Wendel. You have what I want. I certainly have what /you/ want. After all, nowhere else can you pierce the great questions!"

Zwei:  "That explains...why you want me, I suppose...but what are you? This looks like nowhere I've seen before. And I do need a job...last one just got too underpaying."

JonasB:  The man's eyebrows raised. "You're here! The Dreaming! The Workshop! And I'm the Tinker! The question is what /you/ will be, yes!"

He shuffled behind Alex and began pushing him through the clutter of devices. The Tinker continued chattering the whole way. "Dreaming didn't change you yet--always better that way, so easier to work with. I was thinking stone myself. So very sturdy and ready and you could fill in when I lose my mortar and pestle! But Wend's been assuring me that your own affinity is much better! Such noble guards they make—no idea why I hadn’t learned about it before!"

The Tinker continued to chatter on. Wendel slithered along behind him, still not saying anything.

Zwei:  "S-stone? I don't want to be a statue, if that's what you're getting at! And the Dreaming...oh're fae, aren't you? Something like that was in a book..." Now he looked more alarmed than anything else - for two reasons. The primary being the man's talk of stone, though if his guess was right, and the man was fae...he was in deep, deep trouble.

JonasB:  "Oh I agree! I don't want you to be a statue either! Wendel's been so helpful in this! Such vigilance! Such speed! Such strength and loyalty! You'll be perfect!"

The Tinker pushed Alex along until he was in front of a pedestal holding a blue orb the size of a pool ball. Wend slithered around and raised a paw over the device. A string of colours flashed between his palm and the orb, which groaned and rose up on a hinged bar until it was pointing straight at Alex. The resemblance to a ray gun was not lost on him.

Zwei: "Uh...what's this thing going to do? Wend? You've been kinda quiet...who are you, really? Is this why you were so excited I accepted?"

JonasB:  For the first time since changing, Wend spoke. "It will be easier to explain everything at once."

The orb began to glow brightly. Alex could feel its glow across his body.

Zwei:  As the glow intensified, Alex became acutely aware of an itching sensation all over his body. As he brought a hand up to his eyes he was treated to the sight of a veritable forest of black fur sprouting up around his fingers and on his hand. It seemed to grow larger, as if proportioned for a man a foot taller and more solidly built. As the fur crept up his arms, Alex grew a little more toned, stronger. The process didn't hurt per se, but his entire body felt numb.

He also grew taller by about a foot as the fur spread all over his torso, which seemed to meet the same fate as his arms. Apparently whatever they were doing to him meant making Alex stronger - a guard, if the madman was to be trusted. On his hands, pawpads puffed out while his fingernails became blunt canine claws. Alex stumbled a bit as the changes swept down his lower body. A black-furred tail poking through his pants while his feet went digigrade, toenails becoming claws as well.

The process seemed to stop for a moment, leaving the soon to be jackalman looking stunned - then it resumed. Alex gritted his teeth as his face pulled out into a muzzle, nose turning black and wet, and his ears become triangular and extremely long and moving to the top of his head.

JonasB: The Tinker hiccuped loudly. His eyebrows were bouncing up and down. "Ah! Now I see! Always better to see, of course. You'll do fine, I'm sure. Wendel, explain his duties please. Today shall be a planning day, so we can begin tomorrow”

He shuffled out of the room. Wend slithered up to Alex. "You handled that very well. I hope it works for you. How do you feel?”

Zwei:  Alex was silent. He spent was looking over himself. His eyesight seemed to have corrected itself to the point where his glasses were no longer needed. Still, the jackal looked confused. His ears were tilted back.

"Well...this is better than being a statue, it doesn't explain anything at the same time.” He said eventually. “Why do I look like an Egyptian god in the flesh? If I’m a guard...what am I supposed to keep that guy safe from? I don't even know how to fight!" His voice also seemed deeper.

JonasB:  Wend nodded. "He really did fixate on the statue thing for a bit. I had to lie about a lot of Egyptian mythology for him to think jackals would be better. I knew you liked them, so I thought it would be a good peace offering if you were mad at me."

His voice whirred a little and had a hiss of static when he added, "You… aren't mad, are you?"

Zwei:  Alex looked to Wend, then at his new body for a moment. Annoyance crossed his epxresison. "I'm....I won't lie. I am upset, yes. I've been taken from everything I've ever known, changed, all because I accepted a job offer. I know you meant well, Wend, which is why I'm probably not steamed...this form does help...I mean, it's something I can get used to. But...I dunno...I can't really say I'm happy right now, you know what I mean?"

JonasB:  Another whirr. "I do. It's a hard change. I can explain everything if you want. Let's go somewhere more comfortable."

He led Alex to a door. They did not so much go through the door as approach it. After a sense of 'whooshing' and forced movement, they were inside a comfortable sitting room, although all the furniture was sized for someone the Tinker's height.

Zwei: Alex looked at the furniture with some amusement - as he was now, he had to be around 6'3, so this seemed like trying to cram his old self into a kiddy seat. With a shrug, he sat down on the floor, folding his legs underneath him. The transition through the portal had given him a slight headache - he wasn't sure why. He looked at Wend, letting out a heavy sigh.

"An explanation...will do me a lot of good. This is just...overwhelming."

JonasB:  Wendel nodded. He curled down on a large pillow left next to one of the couches. He leaned back as if his coiled tail were a seat.

"I think it's best to explain where you are first. This place—it's... not Earth. It's called the Dreaming. It's sort of... erratic. Things here work more on symbolism and belief than real physics. It's only stable in areas under fae control.”

Zwei: "Kind of...sheer force of will, or am I completely off base there?"

JonasB:  "I'm not sure, actually. The realms of the nobles seem to tailor themselves towards their rulers’ tastes but I don't think it's a conscious thing."

Zwei:  Alex looked pensive for a moment, before his ears went completely back out of fear. "So...if one of them has a bad day, or dies...what happens? Does the realm...vanish?"

JonasB:  "They're not so variable as to react to mood swings. As for if one dies... I've never seen it happen. I've been with the Tinker for a very long time and I don't know of any of the nobles dying."’

Zwei:  "Load off my mind at what's his deal? Guy seemed like a mad scientist made real...certainly seemed to look at me more like a raw piece of material than a sentient being."

JonasB:  "The Tinker is curious,” Wend said apologetically, “Extremely curious. He loves finding out what happens. When anything happens. Compared to the stuff he's fiddled with, my oreo-and-macaroni sandwiches are mundane."

Zwei: The worried look on the jackal's face crossed into one that suggested he might vomit at the mention of those sandwiches. "Ugh...don't remind me...I think my stomach took out a temporary restraining order after I tried one.'re saying he just see what happens? Good, bad, or indifferent?"

JonasB:  Wendel's eyes lit up like neon. "Anything! Everything! There's just no way to describe it properly. He's amazing, Alex. I've seen stars put in microwaves, dragons with butterfly wings, plants grow in melted chocolate. Anything you can think of--anything you could possibly ask, he's tried it."
Wendel suddenly leaned forwards. "He gives everyone that look. Everything can be changed, added to, subtracted from. It's all a giant 'what if'."

Zwei:: Alex looked down at his body, then at his friend's as something seemed to click. "Were you, uh, always like that? Were you something else originally?"

JonasB:  "Human. I was kinda like you, but way more erratic. I’d get wild ideas and couldn’t rest until I tried them. I got expelled from my first school for mixing cornstarch into the school toilets. One day at my second school I was entering the principal's office and found myself here instead."

"The Tinker didn't change me, the Dreaming did. Humans who come here become things that represent themselves. Some change almost instantly, some take time. Within an hour I was a ferret."

Zwei:  "That kinda explains a lot, but a ferret, huh? So, how did you go from that to...something that wouldn't look out of place as a boss in a RPG?"

JonasB:  Wendel gave a whirring laugh. "Hah, nice one. The Tinker hadn't paid much attention to humans before me. Apparently Earth is like a weird fad with the fae—it goes in and out of their attention span. He'd decided to start seeing what humans were like, so he grabbed one. I won't lie. I was freaked at the time. More so than you were since the Tinker is hard to get explanations out of."

He leaned back on the cushion and shifted his tail to be more comfortable. "Most of it was questions at first. The Tinker wanted to know everything I could tell him about people. Well, I was basically a kid at the time, what did I know about human nature and world history and all that stuff? So I started going on about mythology. The Tinker sort of fixated on dragons and wanted to know what one looked like. I drew him a picture of an eastern dragon since they were the only kind I'd sketched before. He said it wasn't good enough and stormed off. I didn't see him for the next week.Then all of a sudden he's back and I'm in front of that orb. He wanted to see one 'properly', as it were."

Wendel's whisker-cables curled up as in a strange smile. "If you think becoming a ferret or jackal is surprising, try turning into a 5 meter long dragon!"

He laughed again, but it died off quickly. "The tiger didn't come until later. The Tinker was in another mixing phase. It... didn't happen as smoothly as the dragon had,” Wendel rubbed a shoulder and turned away from Alex, looking at his striped metal arm. "The Tinker has an impressive medical knowledge," was all he would say.

He made a soft clicking noise before continuing. "The tail didn't come until after I’d started helping him as an assistant. We had a big project but not enough hands. So he asked me if I wondered what it'd be like to have a third limb. I remembered that moment later on when the Tinker was having trouble keeping track of his tools. I asked what if someone didn't need tools. He was thrilled at the concept."

Zwei:  Alex had sat there listening, and he looked pretty interested, though a look of concern and worry now crossed his face. Wend had been human at one point? Not a trace really remained, unless he counted the opposable thumbs and intellect. But what worried Alex more was how accepting - even encouraging - Wend seemed to be at the end as far as these changes. " that why you're mechanical?"

JonasB:  The enthusiasm in Wend’s voice mirrored how he’d been in the bookstore. "Yea, definitely! You won’t believe the stuff the Tinker’s given me—I’m practically a living toolbox!”

Zwei:  "Suppose that is kinda neat, in a way. Never lose a screwdriver and whatnot...but what I'm also taking away from this is...if he gets bored or has an idea, I can count on being changed?"

JonasB:  "I've never seen him bored, but I don't think you have anything to fear either way. You're security. I'm the assistant. He won't be changing you on a whim—your role is too important to him. If you want to move up later then that's your choice, but for now I wouldn't worry. Besides, it's not like everything I described happened overnight. It took decades for me to be finished."

Zwei:  "Gotcha...don't think I'm in the mood to be changed again just yet, but...hell. I'm still getting used to having a fur coat I can't take off. Also, who am I guarding him -from-, exactly?"

JonasB:  "I'm not actually sure. The nobles are all engaged in some massive social war but I've never heard of any of them attacking another. I'm wondering if you're just being used to make the Tinker look more important."

Zwei:  "So...either I might need to put myself in harm's way...or I'm here to make him look good. I'm not really sure what possibility I'd like more, Wend."

JonasB:  "If it helps, try to think of the perks. Being here gives you a front row seat to the Tinker's work. If there's ever anything you ever been curious about or wanted to see, chances are he'll be doing it."

Zwei:  "Always was partial to Gundam...he could probably make one if I told him what one was. But I suppose that is a perk...also, am -I- fae now, or just a human-animal hybrid?"

JonasB:  Wend began clicking again. After a moment he said, "Sort of both and neither. The fae use the word 'changeling' to describe us. From what I know of the Dreaming, I think that means we're sort of... attuned to this place, but we're not fae; at least not compared to the nobles, which are the only fae I've seen."

Zwei:  The jackal would shift around a little, getting comfortable. His mind was still running a mile a minute, but the conversation was helping calm him down. It also helped that Wend knew what he was going through. "So, more than human, but less than a true fae? That's...something, at least. Should I be aware of anything as a...changeling, was it?"

JonasB:  "Not much, oddly enough. Some nobles don't see any difference between changelings and regular humans--though what this means can vary. Some find us cute in an annoyingly patronizing way. Others are very... intense and are offended that we're being affected by the Dreaming."

Zwei:  "In other words, as varied as the fae themselves are? Reactions-wise, I mean...I'm glad the Tinker seems to be in the camp that likes us."

JonasB:  Wendel nodded. "He likes humans in general. They're adaptive but constant at the same time. He's always wondering something about them."

Zwei:  "Too bad I didn't have any medical texts on me. I'd bet anything he'd love to have one on hand. But from what you're saying, I can't do magic or anything of the sort?"

JonasB:  "Not that I know of, no."

Zwei: The jackal, for the first time in what seemed like hours, actually looked saddened as opposed to afraid or nervous. "Damn. That's kinda dissapointing."

JonasB:  Wendel chuckled. "Don't worry, bud. If my horns can get cable TV, then I'm sure you'll get something cool from this."

Zwei:  "Damn...must be some strong tech if you can get CBS in another realm. Also, how does time work here? Do I need to sleep? Or..."

JonasB:  "Time is... odd. Here things progress normally as far as we can percieve. We won't age but still need to eat and sleep and stuff--well, I don't need to eat but I still have to use a sleep mode to recharge. But compared to Earth..." Wendel began whirring again. "I think that, compared to when we were in the bookstore, it had been roughly two years since I came here. For me, personally, it's been 83 years. There's no set ratio, though. If it were possible, you could leave right now and find yourself back at the clothing store only a few minutes after you entered. Or a few before. It just... depends."

Zwei:  "It's been 2 years since I showed up here on Earth, or since you got back? And when I'd get back depends on pure chance among other things? This is...going to take some getting used to." A stunned look crossed his face before he looked at his watch, wondering if there was still a point to keeping it with him.  "Does being here affect the human mind at all?"

JonasB:  "Not that I can tell. The thing with the doors is kinda weird but you get used to it. There isn't anything too strange going on with the environments as long as you stay within a nobles' realm. I've been to the homes of some of the other fae though over the years. The tastes in architecture can be... erratic. Still, though, you aren't about to find any Cthulu-esque mindbreaking stuff if that's what you're worried about." Wend laughed.

Zwei:  "Thank goodness for that! What other nobles have you visitied, anyhow? I likely won't know any of them, but it couldn't hurt to ask." With a shrug, Alex got to his feet, wobbling a little before he got used to his new stance again.  He still wasn't sure what to make of the situation he'd found himself in, but at least the two people he knew were friendly.

JonasB:  Wend counted off his fingers. "Hrm, there was the Radiance, the Maker, the Librarian, the Rose Scholar, the Cloudgroom..." he trailed off and looked up, "This could actually take a while. Are you sure I should go through the whole list?"

Zwei:  "If there's a lot more. not right now...but what is there to do here? Like...aside from reading. I've got my old DS on me, but...kinda hungry too."

JonasB:  "I'm pretty sure there's a kitchen burried somewhere in the east wing--the Tinker doesn't need to eat and around here any space gets turned into an impromptu storeroom if no one uses it after a while. As for what to do, honestly just take around and poke through the clutter. This place is filled with the Tinker's finished experiments and designs. He may love keeping it all but he doesn't seem to care if anyone else touches it. All the really dangerous stuff is locked away to keep guests from poking them accidentally."

Zwei:  "May as well take a look in there to see what's there, eh? If I'm going to be guarding stuff, may as well see what there is."

JonasB:  Wendel nodded and rose. He followed Alex out into the device-filled workshop.

Writer's Guild / Kadoof! (Interactive Story!)
« on: August 08, 2012, 11:27:50 AM »
   Virmir sat at his desk, enjoying one of the rare moments of quiet in the Crimson Flag tower. The toon mage was surrounded by rune diagrams, magic wands, and bubbling potions of every imaginable colour. With these tools he could work great spells of power and wonder, bending the laws of the world to his will. Buuuuut he wasn’t in the mood for that. He was drawing foxes instead.

   Virmir turned to get more paper only to find himself muzzle-to-muzzle with a little red fox clinging to his cape.

   “GAH~!” he yelped and flailed wildly. The other fox was flung upwards and squished against the ceiling. He peeled off slowly and fluttered back down before popping back into regular dimensions with a light *poip*.

   “Yip!” Jonas, well, yipped, “What was that about?”

   Virmir blinked at the feral member of Crimson Flag. “You startled me! Why were you on my cape?”

   “I was watching you draw,” Jonas answered plainly, “How else would I see up that high? You didn’t say anything after the first twenty minutes so I thought you didn’t mind.”

   Virmir shifted his eyes. “Right. Umm, my pen rolled away,” he said in a quick attempt to change the subject, “Could you go get it?”

   Jonas yipped an affirmative before scampering away. Confident that this would keep him busy, Virmir went back to doodling. He was right... if only for a few minutes.

   “If ‘is i’h?” Asked a muffled voice. Jonas had returned and was clutching a wand between his teeth.

   Virmir’s eyes went wide. “Gah~! No, that’s the—“

   The jewel on the wand began to glow.

   “—Oh blast.”


What kind of wand was it? Cast your vote!

Writer's Guild / Gears Interlude: A Helping Hand
« on: July 29, 2012, 04:09:03 PM »
Ok, first off, this is so blatantly non-canon. It /might/ get official at a later date, but for now assume otherwise.

TF drink courtesy of William's Soda Shoppe (i.e.: Kenku)

Rem looked concerned when Flynn walked into Torchlight.

"Coby isn't with you."

"I know, he's asleep at home."

"But what about--"

Flynn waved the unfinished question aside. "Don't worry. I have--" he took out a pocket watch, "--fourty minutes before stretch sickness kicks in. I just want to get a drink. Stiff and cold, please."

Rem heeded the familiar order and a root beer was quickly produced. "What's got you agitated this time?"

Flynn downed the drink in seconds. "Job from the engineer's guild. I have a bugged street cleaner in my living room."

That raised an eyebrow. "A street cleaner? Those things are twice as tall as a person and nearly as wide. How could one fit--"

"It's the smaller version. For sidestreets and buildings. Only comes up to your waist."

"Ah. So what's the problem?"

Flynn took out his multitool and set it on the counter. "This has ever tool I need, normally. Screwdriver, wrench, pliers, even a welder and hammer." he explained, extending each tool as it was mentioned. "But these are too small to work on the cleaner. Screws are too big, pipes are too wide, that sort of thing."

"You must have other tools. The astrolab, for instance, was massive."

There was a flinch at the memory. "Well, yes, I do, but I don't like using them. Ever time I get into the flow and start finding my wind, I have to turn away and get a new tool. Completely breaks my concentration. If I'm building something, then it's no big deal, but if I'm doing a repair or maitenance, I need that momentum to see how everything fits together."

He paused. "Is this making sense? I'm not sure I'm explaining it right."

Rem gave a reassuring smile. "Yes, I follow. Can't get into your groove if you have to keep turning away. I suppose just keeping the toolbox next to you is out of the question?"

"Not unless I want to trip over it."

An understanding nod, then a pause.

"I may have something to help."


Rem disappeared beneath the counter for a few moments. He reemerged holding a light red bottle. "New soda," he explained, handing the bottle over, "some guy's opening a store and was in yesterday handing out samples to me and the restaurant owners."

Flynn looked at the label. "Bamboo Berry, huh? Wait, why would he hand out samples to his would-be competitors?"

"No clue. Something about 'wanting to ensure cross-planar consistency' before opening. He was Unified, so my guess is it has to do with a magi thing."

"He was a mage?"

"Not sure, actually. Was dressed closer to an air pirate now that I think about it."


Rem shrugged nonchalantly. "Eh, I've had weirder in here. Anyway, drink's on the house. Might help keep you relaxed while you work."

Flynn's watch chimed. He thanked Rem and grabbed the bottle before leaving. COby was, unsurprisingly, still asleep when he returned home. Flynn set the Bamboo Berry down next to his toolbox and turned his attention back to the steam cleaner occupying the space normally reserved for his coffee table. The smooth, shined metalic surface of the rhomboid machine was broken by sections where the panneling had been removed to expose its tangled inner workings.

Progress was slow. As he described to Rem at the bar, each time Flynn found himself getting momentum he'd need to unscrew a gear, move a strut, or something else that required a new tool. He tried keeping the toolbox next to him, but could never manage to grab the right tool blind. Magic wasn't helpful either. An early attempt to call over a wrench had almost brained him. After an hour of rummaging, rotating, and turning, all Flynn had figured out was that the cleaner was definitely bugged.

More to distract himself from his annoyance than out of thirst, Flynn popped open the Bamboo Berry and took a swig. The flavor was strong but unidentifiably foreign. He couldn't recognize any of the berries--if that's really what they were==that were flavouring the drink. It had a strange aftertaste too that reminded him of fresh rain. The fizz was nice though; a light bubbling that tickled his insides. Flynn would have to tell Rem to thank the strange pirate-mage next time he saw him.

Before Flynn knew it, the bottle was drained and his irritation had been slaked. The break had also given him an idea. He crouched down and moved some wires to expose the steam funnels which functioned as the cleaners 'arteries'. A screwdriver presented itself and he unscrewed the casings. As he prodded, Flynn followed the connections of each pipe, gear, and wire. The mental schematic began tracing itself, forming connections until...


One of the steam funnels had been routed into itself instead of the adjoining socket. A junior mistake that had caused the power to back up. No wonder this thing was busted! He'd have to check who last did maitenance on this model--someone was going to get an earful.

A wrench was offered, which Flynn used to extract the misrouted outlet tube. The procedure took longer than normal as it was difficult to twist the wrench with one hand while keeping the input pump squeezed in his other. Flynn relaxed his grip when the tube was removed and pointed out towards the kitchen. With a loud *FWSSSH* a satisfying rush of pent-up steam erupted into the air. The noise was so intensely high pitched that it covered up the *FOOF* made as fur poofed out from Flynn's body. The rusty red colouring covered him entierly, save where it deepened to brown along his arms and legs.

Following the schematic in his mind's eye, Flynn began hooking the outlet tube into its proper position. He held his tongue at the corner of his mouth as he worked, even as it reshaped into a short, whiskered, white-marked muzzle. He chittered happily when the routing was finished.

Flynn smiled as he replaced the steam funnel casing and ran an operations test. He was about to call the job completed when something made him pause. Peaked ears swiveled from atop Flynn's head until they found the source of his hesitation. There was something clicking. It was a very slight sound but distinct once Flynn had identified it. He followed the noise to the front of the cleaner. A screwdriver was offered again and he removed the front panneling.

There was, of all things, a hairpin lodged between two of the gears. Flynn's best guess was that it had falled from one of the workers into the machine. The hairpin was rather thin, and only the tip was in the way, which explained why the gears were merely stuttering intead of stalling outright. It also looked to be unhelpfully secure in its position.

With his focus stumbled by the unexpected development, Flynn turned around when the pliers were offered. "Thanks, Coby. How long have you been awa--"

He trailed off. Coby was still asleep in his basket. Instead, Flynn was face-to-fur with his own long, striped, and incredibly bushy tail wrapped around a pair of pliers.

Flynn's first thought was "AAAAH!"

Then it was, "What the?"

Which was quickly followed by, "Oooh, fluffy."

Discovery and exploration of the rest of his changes quickly followed.


Coby stirred an hour later. He shifted, enjoying the softness of his pillow. Something was off, though. He felt... lighter? No... suspended?

The fox's sleepy eyes flickered open to see a white muzzle mere milimetres from his own.


"AHAH! Finally!" The muzzled creature exclaimed in a chittering laugh. "See how you like it for once!"

Coby looked around and got his bearings. He was wrapped--held, really--in this Flynn's large, long, striped tail. It was actually quite snug.

"Umm, you didn't have another familiar stored away somewhere, did you?"

Flynn blinked. "What? No, of course not." He pulled Coby in close and rubbed his head. "You're the only one for me. Nah, this is just some magic soda."


A shrug. "Well that's the best reason I've come up with. It's the only thing I've done differently today. Either that or there was something really bugged with that steam cleaner."

Coby paused. "It's not, uh, permanent, is it?"

"Probably not. Potions never last more than a few hours to a day in my experience. Besides, Rem gave it to me. He'd never just hand off something like this without warning someone if it was permanent."

The fox sighed with relief. Flynn eyed him suspiciously.

"You weren't perhaps... worried, were you? Didn't want any competition in the fuzziness department?"

"What?" Coby yipped, "No! That's not even--you're not even in the same class as me!"

Flynn grinned and his ears flexed mischeviously. "Oh? I think I'm pretty fuzzy right now. I might be able to give you a run for your money. My tail's definitely fluffier than yours."

"That's just because you're bigger! If you were my size--"

"Pretty handy too," he continued, smirking as he ignored Coby's protests, "I'm not gonna lie: it's pretty awesome to have something so versatile. It can even hold my own weight--I tested. What can your tail do?"

"My tail can do plenty!"

"Oh, like what?"


Another chittering laugh.

"I am so going to eat your shoe!"

"No need for 'em!" Flynn explained with a wiggle of his paws. Coby struggled for a retort but could only yip in desperation. Despite how fun it was to irk him, Flynncould tell this was starting to get to him.

"I'm just kidding, by the way." He said consolingly as he lowered the fox to the ground and released him. "You'll always be be my number one fuzzball, Coby."

Coby looked up into his eyes. "Really?"

Flynn gave a reassuring smile. "Of course, bud. Always."

"Ok!" Coby yipped happily. Without warning he leapt back onto Flynn's tail. Within moments he had wrapped it around himself and curled up.


"As Chief Fuzzy, I claim my right of using you as my pillow."

"You are making that up."

"Hush, it's ok. You're new to this."

"Get out of my tail, Coby."

"But it's so snuuuuugy!"


"It's my turn though!"

"You can't--there's no turns with someone else's tail!"

"How do you know? This is your first one."

Writer's Guild / Gears: Coby and Flynn's Debut!
« on: July 18, 2012, 09:46:37 AM »
Finally finished! I hope you all enjoy the final (and hopefulyl best) incarnation of Coby and Flynn, two characters that have taken far too long to get from my head to the page. The .doc file is included for Virmir's beneft, but I'd prefer if anyone else used the pdf version.

Note: The second Debut file (the 99.5 KB one) is an edited version that has a reduced number of footnotes.

Writer's Guild / Interview with the Dark Lord
« on: July 04, 2012, 10:43:15 AM »
Ok, here's my little writing diversion: you've got a sit-down interview with the former Dark Lord, master of Demons, Conjurer of Shadows, etc. etc. He's retired now and getting on in years, so now he's hung up his Mace of Anquished Souls and is running a small inn at a crossroads.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Post your interview questions here, and I'll write the ex-Lord's response.

Writer's Guild / Debating the Character Debut
« on: June 30, 2012, 09:04:33 AM »
Here's a story I've been tinkering with for a bit. The problem I currently have is a new one for me, in which I know exactly how the plot will go and yet I have no desire to actually write it. I think the problem is that I love the characters but have no real interest in any other part of the story. I'm posting it here just to let people see it and hopefully get some opinions on what to do.

Writer's Guild / Ink Spots
« on: June 25, 2012, 10:25:09 AM »
Note: This started as a collab between Traxer/Geo and myself, but I recently got permission to continue it solo. The first few parts I'll be posting were co-written.

Trent’s pen jammed. He lifted his hand from the sign-in sheet and shook it three times before finishing his signature.

“Thank you.” The secretary smiled. She took the clipboard and tucked it into a drawer. “I’ll let the editor know you’re here. Please take a seat.”

Trent sat down in an ergonomically rigid chair against the wall of the reception area. His throat was dry. At least this time he was the only person with an interview. Trent hated when he had to wait alongside other job applicants. The awkward silence and stares of intimidation mixed with desperation were never helpful. He slipped his pen back into the breast pocket of his dress shirt. It rested alongside two others that were covering up a stubborn spaghetti stain. Trent’s fingers drummed nervously against the manila folder containing his resume and writing samples.

Five minutes ticked by like five hours until the secretary cleared her throat. “You can go in now.”

Trent nodded weakly. He stumbled getting out of the chair and almost tripped over a coffee table. The editor’s office was spacious and had a very utilitarian feel. Filing cabinets lined three of the walls, each marked with an alphabetical label and a numerical code. Behind a long, mahogany desk hung numerous framed newspaper clippings, degrees, and photos. The thick-bodied editor sat in a large leather armchair, watching Trent expectantly.
“Hi.” Trent said weakly.

The editor indicated a small seat across from him. Trent sat down. The editor cleared his throat but said nothing. Instead he opened a drawer and withdrew Trent’s job application packet and resume. More silence. Trent did his best not to fidget.
“So,” the editor finally began, “you graduated three months ago?”

“Yes.” Trent breathed eagerly. “My majors are in journalism and professional writing.”

“I can see that here. I can also see the sample article you submitted with your application.” The editor flipped to the final two pages in the packet and read the title, “Crème Lobby Throws Pies”. It’s a good article, engaging, but the material is somewhat...” he made an odd waving gesture. “Do you have any other samples that are more... hard-hitting?”

“Oh! Yes! Yes I do!” Trent began fishing through his portfolio. “Last year I wrote “Garbage-Workers Smell of Success” and a month ago I did Apples vs. Oranges: Family Feuds of Fruit Vendors for practice.” He handed the pages over and waited hopefully while the editor read them over.

The editor scratched his forehead. “Well, the writing is still good, but these aren’t what I had in mind. We’re looking for someone with a more solid, realist angle to their articles. This human interest stuff,” he indicated the portfolio pieces, “only goes so far. Have you written anything political? Covered a police blotter? Any financial scandals at your school?”

Trent’s hopeful look fell. “No, sir,” he admitted, “I tended to avoid writing about that stuff. It was really depressing.”

“I can understand that sentiment,” The editor sighed, “but journalism is about reality, and the world isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. We already have three human interest columnists. They’ve been with us for over ten, thirteen, and seven years respectively, but if something comes up I’ll keep you in mind.”

It was the politest rejection Trent had received so far. “Thank you.” He said as graciously as he could while retrieving his portfolio.

The bus ride back to his apartment was mercifully short. The cosmos gave a further kindness by keeping the landlord in the boiler room—if the shouts and metallic clatters echoing through the main floor were an indication. Trent didn’t need a reminder that his rent was due in a week. The date was circled in red on his calendar along with the crosses that marked off a series of job interviews; the latest and last of which he had just returned from. With his emergency fund dry and no prospect of a roommate or employment, Trent was looking at having to decide between rent and food.

He kicked off his shoes and sat down at the creaky kitchen table, tossing his portfolio next to the crumb-laden plate that held his earlier breakfast. The morning’s newspaper was still sprawled open from where he had left it. Trent took out his pen and began the routine of crossing potential job openings in the classifieds. He was going to miss food.

The pen jammed.

Trent growled and shook the pen. He heard a crack. He opened his hand. Black ink dripped across his fingers. 

A few drops spilled onto the newspaper. He dropped the pen, scattering more ink drops across the paper and onto the front of his shirt. He cursed. Trent stood and walked to the sink. He started the water and pumped at the soap dispenser. Empty. Typical. And the ink was still dripping from his fingers. Trent placed it under the water and tried to wipe off the ink to no avail. He turned off the faucet. In fact, there appeared to be more ink on his fingers. That was...

This thought was interrupted by the sound of rustling newspaper.

He turned to see a raccoon sitting on his table.

No, not a raccoon.

Well, yes, a raccoon in some sense of the word, but "raccoon" did not seem to encompass what Trent was seeing. For one, it was not a flesh and fur raccoon, but a drawn proxy of what an artist with cartoonist talent would consider a raccoon, still wet on the page. Or wet off the page. The ringed tail, the mask, the paws, all had the gleam of being fresh inked. In fact, the raccoon seemed to be blowing on one of his paws to dry himself.

Random Topics / Birthday Fox!
« on: June 12, 2012, 08:51:02 AM »
It's my birthday today, wheee!

I got a surprise cinnamon roll breakfast and my Mom got me a kindle  {:)


Writer's Guild / As it Was Said (New Story! Woo!)
« on: May 13, 2012, 07:05:09 PM »
Remember back when I posted that story preview?

Yea... this is what that turned into. Good to finally get it off my chest. Enjoy!

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