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Honey Bunny: An Easter Tale
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Displaced
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Transfigured: Ascension of a Spellbinder

Honey Bunny: An Easter Tale

Author's Note

This tale is set in the same story universe as both of my Santa Babe stories, but can be read as a standalone. Like those stories it is a bit more graphic and fetishy than my usual stuff. This time around, the story features Anthropomorphic rabbits, basically Easter Bunnies who transform (more or less) into humans. It also contains very light female domination.

“Jack.” Peter rolled his eyes, speaking with a forced almost condescending tone, a fat hand motioning with a broad sweeping gesture. “I get where you’re coming from, I really do, but children these days don’t care about this stuff.” The other rabbit lifted the egg from the display stand, fingering it idly, a frown, or a close approximation of one, creasing his short snout and tossed it into the waste bin beside his desk.

I leaned back in my seat and rocked my head back and forth, fighting hard to keep my anger from showing on my face. Egg-painting had become something of a lost art among the bunnies of the Spring Valley Warren. It was a tragedy we’d been so quick to discard our traditions to appease the humans.

My father would be hanging his head in shame if he were alive to see Peter, his chosen successor, disregard our people’s ancient customs with such callous indifference. It was too bad I’d been so uninterested in succeeding my father in my youth. Perhaps things would be different if I had followed in his footsteps like he wanted me to.

“I realize your dad was into this stuff and I understand you want to honor him, but we’re in the business of bringing happiness and joy to all the children of this region. That is particularly important with this pandemic that is spreading all over the world.”

I folded my arms across my chest and sighed.

We were just one conclave of Easter bunnies. Though we possessed a modicum of magic, it wasn’t quite on the scale of our Christmas counterpart, the Santa Claus. We couldn’t freeze time, or travel at rocket speeds. Instead, we traversed The Burrows, a system of magical tunnels capable of transporting us substantial distances in a fraction of time. It was one thing to send a bunny from Germany to Bavaria, it was another matter to send one clear across the Atlantic Ocean.

When the Easter traditions spread to the Americas, our brothers and sisters in Europe became overwhelmed by the demands for their services. So our ancestors founded new warrens, each with their own ‘Easter Bunny’ calling the shots and overseeing the operations of the entire warren. Though humans couldn’t distinguish the difference between a helper bunny and our exalted leader, in our case Peter, no rabbit of the warren would dare refer to themselves as The Easter Bunny, we were mere helpers.

“Look, would you just drop this shit and get back to work? Easter is less than a week away and we have a deadline to meet.” Peter adjusted his reading glasses and returned his attention to the stack of papers on his desk. In his mind, he’d already dismissed me. I supposed I should be thankful. Most times he yelled at me. Compared to our previous encounters, this one was downright friendly.

I rose to my feet, collecting the display stand and my basket of eggs, then retreated from the office, head hanging between my shoulders. This was not my first attempt at trying to revive our people’s egg-painting traditions, and it had been no less successful than the previous ones. This time, I had taken months learning and honing my skills, hoping that a demonstration might sway Peter better than words had, but as usual he’d been more interested in deadlines and paperwork.

I cursed myself and retreated home. My work shift would begin in less than an hour and if I wasn’t on the factory floor, there would be hell to pay. The other rabbit was a stickler for tardiness and I still needed to complete a few tasks at home.

Work was sure to be hell, I doubt I’d heard the last from Peter. Even on the best days, he bullied and demeaned me. I was, after all, his favorite target.

“Hey Jack,” a sweet feminine voice spoke out of the fog of my funk and my head jerked up, eyes focusing to find a familiar face staring back at me.

“Hey Esther,” I glanced up at her, a long plaintive sigh escaping my mouth.

Esther worked for the Inter-warren Postal Service, and my place was the last on her route, so I frequently ran into her on the way home from work.

“Bad day on the production line?” Esther asked, hand grappling inside of her mail bag.

That was an understatement, Peter had been on my ass from the moment I stepped out on the floor. He’d gotten me so self-conscious I’d gotten the mixture wrong on one of the machines and ruined an entire batch of chocolates. Peter had erupted in a fit of rage, humiliating me in front of the entire factory floor. I was lucky he hadn’t fired me on the spot, but then he would have lost his favorite little punching bag. Instead, he docked my pay and put me at the top of the overtime list for the next three weeks.

I peered around, realizing that I was just a few doors down from my place. I’d been pretty much on autopilot since the fiasco at work, and my walk home through the tunnels had been no exception. My eyes settled on each of the brightly decorated holes, festooned with the bright pastel colors of Easter, and sighed when my eyes fell on my home. Caught up with my egg painting I’d neglected decorating my place which, I doubt, would win me friends with any of my neighbors.

“Uh,” I scratched my neck, doing my best to avoid making eye contact with Esther.

“Oh, God,” she groaned. “Don’t tell me you went to Peter about the eggs, again.”

“Guilty,” I grimaced, dropping both my hands and cupping my face.

She sighed and reached out to pull my hands away from my face. “Okay, tell you what. Why don’t I come over tonight? I can cook you a nice homemade meal and we can have a long chat and I’ll help you forget all about it.” A coy smile spread over her muzzle and she raised a single eyebrow as her fingers traced over my chest.

I froze, mouth agape, and stood there like a jack ass. Esther was a friend, a good one, but I’d never considered her to be anything else. I never thought of her that way, even if I had, I doubt I would have worked up the nerve to ask her out.

She raised an open palm, tilted my chin up, forced my mouth closed and smiled. “Well?”

“Uh, yeah sure,” I replied letting loose a nervous little chuckle.

“Great!” She beamed. “I’ll be over say, eight?”

I nodded, still trying to process what had just happened. She turned to leave, then turned back, reaching inside of her bag. “Hey, you don’t mind saving me a few steps and taking your mail now do you?

I nodded, smacking my lips. My mouth seemed just a little dry. She slipped my mail into my hands and leaned in to peck me on the cheeks. She didn’t say another word, but winked at me and started walking away. I watched her depart, her nice hips swaying as she walked. I swallowed, and started back toward my place, numb to everything but the memory of her lips on my cheek.

Not until I got back home did I realize I was holding a christmas-red package about eight-inches long, about half as wide and deep and pretty damned hefty. I set the envelopes down on the counter and eyed the package, examining the flowing script on the tag.

Samson, I mused, eying the box. A few years back, the Santa Claus and Samson, one of his helper elves, paid a visit to our little burrow on a diplomatic visit, and the old man had spent most of the trip in an out of the way drinking hole on the other side of the warren, blind stinking drunk. I’d had the unfortunate privilege of spending his entire trip babysitting the miserable old bastard.

The only plus side was I’d gotten to know Samson and he seemed like a pretty stand-up guy. We’d corresponded when possible and gotten to be friends. It had been a while since I’d heard from the wry little elf, but it appeared he’d at last gotten around to answering my last letter.

The return label was written in a flourishing script I recognized as the elf’s, but oddly he’d signed it Sammie Twinklebottom instead of Samson, and it looked a little more bubbly and feminine then I remembered. Still, I didn’t think much of it at the time, my thoughts still on Esther.

I plopped the box atop the counter, pulled the ribbon and tape off and popped it open to reveal two liquid-filled bottles nestled within. The fluid inside the first of the odd rectangular containers was baby blue and the other, a soft powder-pink. Though I didn’t take time to read the letter in the sealed envelope wedged between the pair of bottles, I had a good idea what they contained.

Knowing Samson, I guessed it to be some kind of liqueur, the elves loved their spirits and they liked them sweet. During Santa’s first day at the bar, Samson spent twenty minutes complaining about the old man’s alcoholism while sneaking sips of something sweet smelling from his flask. He was an odd fellow to be sure, but I’d enjoyed his company.

The trouble was his taste in beverages, were just a tad sweet for my tastes and considering I devoted most of my days to filling chocolates into molds that said something. I pulled the bottles from the box, and slipped them inside the cupboard, retrieved the envelope with Samson’s letter and tossed the box into the garbage pail which was heaped so high, the package just tumbled to the ground.

I winced, peering around at my pig sty of a kitchen. A mixed assortment of cooking and egg-painting implements covered most of the counter space and about half of the tabletop and the sink was so full of dirty dishes I’d pretty much given up on using the faucet for the foreseeable future. I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d swept or done the dishes, but it had been at least a month. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me.

I sighed, shaking my head. Already forming a plan. My mental checklist of chores supplanted thoughts of the package and it slipped from my mind.

I didn’t read the note until much later and by then it was too late. As much as I enjoyed the cranky elf’s letters, Samson tended to be a bit of a windbag. If I knew then what I know now, things would have turned out a fair bit different.

I retreated to my room, dropping the letter on my night stand, and retrieved a spare set of clothes, tossed them into the bathroom and got to work cleaning. I’d need to hurry if I were to get everything cleaned and still have time for a shower.

“Hey.” Esther stood in the doorway, paper sack clutched in both hands. I stared, jaw going slack. She wore a rather simple skirt and blouse combination. The entire time I’d known her, which had been most of my life, I hadn’t once seen her wear anything so feminine. Though it was simple, it looked good on her, and hugged her curves in interesting ways.

“Jack? You gonna ask me in?” She leaned forward, glancing through the doorway.

“Uh, yeah, yeah,” I mumbled stepping back and motioned forward with an exaggerated sweeping gesture. “Come in.”

I forced a smile and she pressed her lips together, slipping past me and dropped the bag onto the counter. She turned back to me, pulling a strand of snowy-white hair from her eyes and collecting it behind her ears. “Listen, Jack, I know I sort of threw you through a loop today. I wanted you to know that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. You’re the only guy who’s ever treated me right, and this whole time you’ve been right there. I-I just thought maybe…”

She trailed off, all wide-eyed uncertainty. I nodded, and moved up beside her, slipping both hands over either of her shoulders. “I-I was a little flustered, I admit, but ever since you invited yourself over, all I’ve been able to think about is you. It’s funny how something can stare you right in the eyes, and it takes a proverbial slap in the face before you finally notice.”

She smiled and nodded, leaning in for a kiss. This time, it was more than a simple peck and lasted seconds, but boy did it leave me wanting more. She cleared her throat and pulled away. “Uh, well, I guess I should get started.”

I nodded, biting my lip so hard I tasted blood and watched her get to work. Esther was pretty, in a girl-next-door kind of way, but a far cry from what most bunnies would consider beautiful. Her figure was too round, her snow-white fur a bit too dull, and her ears always seemed to tilt at an odd angle. That being said, I’d never found a female more attractive in my life. She had such energy, a girlish vitality that had never faded as she aged, though she was now a few months shy of thirty. She was kind, generous and open-minded, and I added, she had great legs and not to mention a nice set of cans. It felt odd thinking about her that way, but once I started looking, I couldn’t unsee it nor did I want to.

“So, um I don’t know what you had planned for drinks, but that package that came today had something I thought maybe you’d enjoy.” I moved to the cupboard where I’d left the bottles sent by Samson and slipped a hand inside blindly grabbing one from within the cupboard. Esther turned away, now rifling through her bag, and I glanced down at the bottle of pink fluid clutched in my hands. I felt a pang of disappointment, but I suppose it was for the best. Despite being a notorious tomboy, she always went for the girliest drinks.

She swung back toward me, a bundle of carrots and greens clenched in either hand, gave me an appraising look, then stuck her chin out toward the bottle.

“All I had time to grab was some Carrot Schnapps. So, yeah, we can try it. Might be interesting, why don’t you pop it open. It might help us loosen up a bit.”

The words seem innocuous enough, but she spoke them with a sensuous, husky quality to her voice that gave the statement a whole different meaning. I swallowed, fixing a hand over the stopper and pulled, almost hitting myself in the face with the back of my hand when it came loose.

She slipped her hand around the bottle, and I released my hold, allowing her to take it. She brought it up to her nose, taking a good long whiff before locking her lips around it, threw her head back and took a good long gulp.

When she at last dropped the bottle from her lips, wiping them clean with the back of her arm, she held it out to me. I swallowed, harder this time, and took it from her hands. I mimed her earlier motions, sniffing the concoction, and stopped pursing my lips.

Aside from the strong scent of alcohol which burned my nostrils, it was if someone had taken everything soft and feminine and bottled it as a liquid, it was flowery and fruity and sugary, but there was something more to it which I couldn’t identify. When I smelled it, I thought of a beautiful sex-goddess of a woman, breasts heaving as she drew in breath and hips swaying with each step. My heart pounded in my rib cage and I hesitated. Something was weird about the whole situation. I don’t think Samson would send me anything poisonous, but it raised the hackles on my neck. I started to set the bottle back down, but then I locked gazes with Esther. She arched an eyebrow and cocked a smile as if to say, ‘Oh, come on, stop being so silly.’

I exhaled, then brought the bottle to my mouth,chugged it until my throat burned and slapped it on the countertop. It was everything I expected, sweet, fruity and every bit as strong as whiskey.

Esther hunched over, and I lurched toward her. A wave of dizziness washed over me and braced I myself against the counter before I could reach her.

She fell forward, hands thrown up at the last moment, fur now falling from her skin in patches.

Oh god. What was going on?

I scrambled forward, still spinning, but leveraged myself and dropped to my knees beside her. She peered up, and my breath caught in my throat. Not a single shred of hair remained on her face. She groaned as the skin around her muzzle rippled and contorted. I reached out, but a loud crack reverberated through my wrist and I cradled it against my chest, raw hot pain pulsating up and down my arm.

I threw my right arm out, tearing the sleeve of my shirt up my arm, in time to see chunks of brown fur fall away in clumps. It was no coincidence that it was happening to me too. That strange concoction must be to blame. I shuddered, a pit forming in my stomach, thinking back to the feminine aromas that had emanated from the drink.

Flesh bubbled and stretched, reshaping wherever the fur fell away. The bones in my hand popped, my palm becoming a little less rounded, my fingers thinned out and lengthened. Claws crunched, spreading out, flattening to become fingernails. My shoulder popped and I dropped my hand. I hunched over, howling in pain, my insides roiling. I wanted to scream, but the best I manage between stabs of pain was a soft miserable moan.

My chest tingled and I brought my hands up, the transformed one looking quite dainty and very human, the other was unchanged, but a quick look at Esther told me all I needed to know. She peered back at me with a human face, panting between a set of pouty lips, breasts heaving with each breath.

A sickening crack sounded inside my ribs and I tore the front of my blouse open. I watched with wide-eyes as two mounds rose from my now hairless flesh. I shuddered, panting and heaving, groaning with each pop that sounded through my insides.

I clenched my eyes shut, too terrified to watch the remaining changes, but while I didn’t see them, I felt the bones snap and reforming inside of me. My other shoulder crunched, and my eyelids flew back open as I gasped for breath. When my hips changed, they each snapped with such force it vibrated through my whole body.

The tissue of my left arm continued to mold and reshape, but I managed to fling my right hand between my legs, feeling for familiar contours through the crotch and legs of my jeans. My manhood remained intact, but I doubted that it would stick around for much longer. I traced my fingers along my hips and waistline. The former seemed so huge! It seemed so out of place. The latter felt so narrow, so dainty, I could have easily wrapped one arm around it before my transformation.

Then it came, a sharp jab of pain and a pulling sensation in my nether region. My hand slipped inside my pants and shot into my crotch like a bullet. My fingers wrapped around my dick in time for it to slither away inside my fingers. My balls contorted and reformed, molding like putty in some invisible hand. I clawed at the flesh, a futile and irrational attempt at preventing the change. Within a few seconds my testicles squeezed into my skin, reshaping into a smooth hairless vagina.

I fell back, panting for air and stared up at the ceiling, tears rolling down my cheeks. It wasn’t only from the pain I wept, but for the loss of my masculinity and my bunnanity. My transformation continued unabated, hair falling away on my legs and feet, flesh twisting, knees popping and inverting and my spine creaking and reshaping.

Then it started, a trickle in my throat, followed by a burning. I took a breath, but could not exhale. The flesh of my neck oozed around, merging and reforming, and I flailed about, my lungs burning from the lack of oxygen intake. Darkness crept into the edges of my vision and a strange calm came over me. Then air flooded back into my lungs and I jerked upright, both hands clasped over my throat.

A high feminine wail escaped my lips, and I sat there panting, sharp pain shooting up and down my face. Esther knelt beside me, her human face peering at me, her quivering bunny ears her only recognizable features save that they were now pink. A shock of short white hair was all that remained of her once luxurious coat.

There was a pressure in my face, as cracks and pops reverberated through my skull, and my muzzle slurped away retracting until it was flat. There was a strange plumping sensation and my lips took on more human proportions. A creak sounded from my face, when a human nose wiggled its way into place. The last few changes settled in, a strange burning in my eyes, followed by tufts of hair cascading from my scalp with an explosion of itches and tingles, and the pain faded into a dull throb, before, at last, disappearing.

I sat there and leaned back against the kitchen island, gasping and panting for breath. Esther studied me, her new countenance an expressionless mask. Her eyes were another story. They were wide with mixed confusion, shock, concern and something I couldn’t quite identify. She pursed her plump lips together, a hand reaching out to cup one of my naked breasts.

“God,” she moaned and leaned in, her lips brushing mine.

Then I understood. Something stirred inside me, a wild unyielding need, a sexual desire so strong and so pervasive all I could do was give in to it. I leaned forward, pressing my lips into hers, locking them into an open-mouthed kiss. When two bunnies kissed, they just pressed the ends of their muzzles together. Their mouths weren’t pliable enough for anything else, but our new human lips were capable of so much more.

Esther moaned, both hands now kneading my breasts, her body throbbing against mine. My lips worked their way down her neck, and my hands unclasped the buttons of her blouse. A flurry of hair, trapped inside during her transformation, fluttered away, and I got my first look at her chest, human or otherwise. God, they looked glorious.

I kissed her nipples, and she moaned in pleasure. Her hands reached for my waistband and the button came away. She peeled the fabric away, which was stretched tight across my widened hips, and after repeating the process with my boxers, my new pussy lay exposed to the air. She grinned from ear to ear and slid her index and middle fingers inside the crevice. I gasped, a low stifled groan emanating from my mouth and I shuddered from pure orgasmic pleasure.

Our love making continued, unabated, for what seemed like hours. I experienced more orgasms in that one night then I’d had at any point prior. I didn’t care that Samson’s drink had transformed me or that I’d, more or less, become a member of a different species. All that mattered was the sex, and it was spectacular.

When at last we separated, I laid on the ground, eyes closed, a smile touching my lips. Not once in my almost thirty years had I experienced pleasure so all-encompassing, so overpowering I couldn’t stop myself.

It didn’t matter, I had become a walking wet dream for the hordes of human males who lived on the surface. I yearned for more, yearned to make love to Esther again, and… to have a big fat cock hammer into my tight pussy. Even so, I was curious about the strange beverage that had prompted our transformation and that is what won out.

I opened my eyes and sat up, a soft moan escaping from my lips. I stretched my arms, my large pert breasts jiggling on my chest. It was an unusual, but not unwelcome sensation. I stood, locking eyes with Esther for the first time since we’d finished fucking each other.

She did not speak, but watched me, keen interest reflected in her eyes. I padded across the floor, my bare human feet slapping against the hard ceramic tiles. Over the course of our lovemaking, we’d disrobed one another and scattered bits of our clothing about the kitchen.

I sauntered over to the cabinet, a slight shiver working its way down my spine as I let my hips sway. I retrieved the bottle of blue fluid and set it next to the pink one.

“So,” I said, my voice light and airy, and so very feminine. “If the pink one does this,” I motioned down at my wondrous knew hourglass figure. “I betcha the blue one does all sorts of interesting things.”

I shivered at the prospect. Though I had no intention of trying it out myself, there were plenty of other bunnies who might be persuaded to give it a go. I imagined Peter transformed, his big hard cock pulsating inside of me, his muscled frame throbbing against my soft feminine body and I moaned, licking my lips.

That was assuming the blue drink wasn’t intended for something else. I thought back to Samson’s letter, the almost feminine quality of his writing and the fact that he’d scrawled Sammie on the package. What she must look like, so dainty and small.

I stopped long enough to tell Esther I’d be back with something I hoped would explain everything and slipped out of the kitchen. Making my way up the stairway and into my bedroom, I retrieved the letter from my end stand. When I turned to leave, I caught my reflection from the corner of my eye and stopped to study my new features. My new face was oval-shaped and framed by a shock of messy dark, almost black hair, a nice petite little nose and a smile that would have most men and a few women eating out of my hands. Good god, I was gorgeous. As I had only ever seen a handful of humans face to face, I had difficulty pegging my physical age, but the firmness of my breasts and the softness of my skin suggested I was on the younger side, perhaps in my early twenties.

I slid a hand over my locks to straiten them, but gave it up. The mirror was a small decorative piece my mother had hung years before her death. It was now level with my face, meaning I’d lost a good three or four inches in height. I brushed my hands through my hair along the side of my head, where human ears would be, but I found nothing save for soft velvety skin and hair. I tilted my head down trying to get a better look up top and furrowed my eyebrows, my ears were pink like Esther’s.

Absently fingering my ears, I studied my reflection a few moments longer and withdrew from the room. Sliding a hand down my back as I walked, I was oddly comforted to discover I still had my fluffy little bunny tail.

I found Esther waiting in the front room, sprawled naked upon the couch, flipping through an old book as if it were the most normal thing in the world. When she turned to meet my gaze, I stopped, studying her pink ears, a near match to mine, perched atop her snow-white crown.

It was difficult to tell, since she was sitting down, but she looked about the same height as before. Her form however, had changed in almost every way, her breasts were larger even than mine, but not so large they seemed disproportionate, her hips were only a little narrower than my own, and I thought, perhaps, her and I were about the same age.

I smiled, shivering at the memory of fucking her, and took a seat beside her. She leaned in close, her breasts pressed against my side and I released a contented sigh. I experienced none of the nervous anticipation from before. All of that had disappeared the moment I’d changed. I felt a confidence I’d never possessed before.

I caressed my lips with my tongue and clasped the envelope in my lap, tracing the wax seal with my finger-tip. Only an elf would be so old fashioned. So adorable… It was almost a shame to open it, but curiosity won out. I tore it open, slicing through it with the tip of my fingernail.

I removed the papers, back folded them, and flipped through them. There were more than a dozen individual papers, each filled back and front. Like I said, Samson tended to be a motor-mouth. About half way through the stack, a photograph fluttered out, landing on the coffee table. I reached out, flipped it face up and found myself looking at a rather provocative image of two beautiful ladies posing naked. A tall gorgeous brunette with bright blue eyes, hips that made me want to salivate and round large breasts, clutched at the form of a smaller woman with strawberry-blonde locks, elvish ears and a killer figure. I dropped the photo, bit my lips and mustered all my willpower in order to return my attention to Samson’s letter instead of fingering myself.

The first three and a half pages was a letter detailing Saint Nicholas’s accidental ingestion of something called the Aphrodite Potion, Samson’s resulting exposure and their subsequent efforts to spread as much of the strange brew through the North Pole, including an interesting situation with the Elvish Council of Elders. Towards the end of the letter Sammie mentioned the Adonis Formula, the blue beverage in the box, was a prototype potion designed to invoke a more masculine transformation.

She ended the letter, with well wishes and was hopeful that I would find the enclosed photo a titillating example of what the Aphrodite formula was capable of doing. She then remarked that I should give it a try for myself, it had sparked a “renewed passion “for life and that perhaps it could do the same for me.

I shivered again at the prospects now laid out before me, and turned to Esther detailing everything to my lover, grinning from ear to end, imagining Nikki and Sammie fucking my brains out. I might have found Sammie’s letter alarming had I not experienced the transformative effect for myself, but knowing what I did it was all I could do to contain my excitement.

Sammie gave me everything I’d need in the letter, the formula for both potions, tips for brewing, dosages, everything for which a sexy bunny girl could ask. I learned another interesting tidbit that produced a giggle of excitement. When the Adonis formula was combined with its counterpart, it made for some very… interesting results.

I pressed my lips together, a plan beginning to formulate in my mind.

“So, is it permanent?” Esther asked, and I stopped staring back at the other woman, surprised by the question, my mind already a thousand miles away.

“Uh, yeah,” I said offering her a reassuring smile and rifled through the pages until I, again, found the section detailing dosages. “Apparently, the bottle we drank out of contains a concentrated formula. It varies by body weight and metabolism, but if these numbers are correct. I’d say we drank several times over the recommended dose, so I don’t think there’s any chance of reverting.”

She released a long breath of air, and I grinned at her, licked my lips and shared with her my plan. With any luck, I could have my cake and eat it too.

It was late, into the early hours of the morning, most of the populace was asleep or at least making a stab at it. It was dark in the warren, but it was always dark. We lived underground. During daytime hours, smokeless torches, kept alight by magic unfathomable to humans, rimmed the corridors, but they only provided a modicum of illumination. At this late hour, only a handful remained lit.

It was fortunate, then, that Esther and I had retained such excellent night vision. I doubted human eyes would have provided us with clear enough sight to find our way. Our town was small in human terms, spanning just under a square mile, and Peter’s home wasn’t all that far from mine, anyway.

Peter had dedicated himself to his work, spending long hours away from home, and had never gotten married. He lived alone, which suited our purposes just fine.

I paused just out of range of the porch light and again pondered what we were about to do. Esther would never have gone along with my plan before her transformation and I wouldn’t have come up with such a harebrained solution were I not being influenced by my new libido. The disconcerting part was I didn’t find it the least bit disturbing, knowing that I planned to change someone else’s life just for my own gain. I should have, and that scared me, but not enough to keep me from going through with the plan.

I licked my lips, just the thought of what we were about to do producing a shiver of excitement. My lady parts quivered in anticipation.

I glanced back at Esther, who watched me with nervous anticipation. She wore a pair of my sweats and a dark long-sleeve shirt, and a similar ensemble adorned my frame. Neither one of us had clothes that fit us particularly well, and after discussing my plans we’d decided that we needed to act before word of our transformations spread through the warren. We’d grabbed what we could find in my rather sparse wardrobe which would fit over our new frames.

I motioned her forward and crept toward Peter’s home. We weren’t worried about getting in, no door within the warren had locks. Our prime concern was being seen. There weren’t many bunnies up this late, but you could never be too cautious.

We were inside in moments, and without delay made our way through the house, creeping on bare feet. Esther found his room, waving me inside with hurried motions. I stepped inside and barely managed to stifle a giggle. Peter, though fast asleep, had a massive erection.

It must be a sign, I told myself, reaching into my pocket and produced a small tube of violet fluid, a diluted mixture of the two potions. I knelt beside his bed, unstoppered the potion and popped the open end into his mouth. I tilted his head back, forced his mouth closed, and massaged his throat.

Peter came awake with a start, sitting bolt upright, coughing and wheezing, but I’d done my job. Other than a few droplets, none of the potion came back up.

“What the hell? Who are you? What’s going on here?” Peter glanced between the two of us, eyes wide as saucers, speaking between coughs.

“Oh, Peter,” I said a soft gentle tone to my voice, much like a mother soothing a child. “You’ll understand very soon.”

“Look human, I don’t know what you think you’re doing in my ho–” He never finished the sentence. A gurgle sounded from his throat, and he hunched over, clutching at it.

He took a nose dive, and I barely caught him before he face-planted, but I managed. My arms and back burned from the effort. Somehow I pulled him back on to the bed and collapsed atop it beside him, gasping and heaving. I hadn’t realized how much strength I’d lost from my transformation, and I lay there, experiencing the slightest pang of regret.

I shook my head, craning my neck down at my melons and smiled. The odd brief moment of loss evaporated away. My loss of strength was a small price to pay in exchange for the carnal delights my new body offered.

A soft feminine moan sounded from Peter’s lips and I pulled myself back up, determined not to miss any more. A slender and quite lovely furless neck, far too small to support his large head, had taken up residency upon his shoulders.

Fur dropped from his face in swathes, and the skin beneath bubbled and contorted, reshaping and smoothing out. Bones cracked in his face, his snout retracting in on itself. A blood-curdling scream escaped his mouth as his new face snapped into place. Smooth almost milky-white skin now covered a soft delicate almost doll-like face which was framed by silken honey-blonde hair. Instead of turning pink like mine, his ears shifted to a lovely violet shade. Pouty lips and a tiny button nose complemented his wide doe-eyes and generous eyelashes quite well.

I didn’t yet know just how much height Peter would lose, but if the size of his dainty little head were any sign, he would be quite the petite little thing. I shivered in anticipation.

Peter lay there, panting like a dog and I unbuttoned the front of his pajama shirt as his shoulders snapped and cracked, matte grey fur fluttered away as if carried off on a wind, soft milky human skin took its place. His shoulders narrowed, and the transformation trickled down his arms and chest. A loud crack and a crunch sounded from within his limbs and chest, fat collected beneath his nipples and soon a pair of beautiful round breasts swelled out from his flesh.

He cried out, howling in misery, and arched his back, the contours of his spine snapping into a new alignment. Each crack and pop produced a fresh change. His waistline shrank down, and his hips did too. Legs and feet shortened to match, and soon a tiny little slip of a woman sat bolt upright, frantically pulling at her pajama bottoms.

My hands shot out to help, but she swatted them away with a frantic sweep of her arm. When the last of her clothes came free, she gasped and stared down between her legs. Though she had the usual female parts, she still had a cock.

On a male Peter’s former size, it would have been above average. On her new tiny frame, it appeared massive. She grasped hold of it, her second hand slipping up her chest to knead a breast. The fear and panic that had marked her features before, faded away and a slow dreamy smile stretched across her face. She fell onto her back, and I crawled over to her, kissing Peter’s soft feminine lips. Her raging hard-on pressed into my hip, and I pulled away, hands reaching for the waist of my sweats.

Though Peter’s transformation was temporary, I full intended to give her a fully test-drive. Once I’d disrobed, I wasted no time, working my lips up and down her soft, feminine form. Esther joined in, pressing her breasts into my back, hands pushed into my breasts. Though we’d fucked each other silly a few hours before, we were ready for more.

Peter had always been the leader of the pack, always the dominate male, even when we were children. It was my turn to dominate her, and she yielded like wax to the flame. When I permitted her to penetrate my cunt, there was no doubt who was in charge. I rode on top.

Things turned out pretty much how I planned them. After our first night together Peter was like clay, so easy to mold and shape. Though she reverted to her old form a few hours after her transformation, she hadn’t been the same old Peter. When we made love, she’d let me take the reins. There was a clear shift in power and we both knew it.

The first time she reverted, the dear thing begged me on her hands and knees to change her again, and I relented the very next night. I needed her to be Peter during the day, but at night, so long as she behaved, she was my little toy. Though the transformation was agonizing, she seemed more than happy to undergo it if there was even the slightest chance Esther and I would provide her with the sweet pleasures of the flesh. When she asked me for a new name, I knew she was firmly in my web, and so she became my little Honey Bunny, and I her mistress.

Esther, of course, was mainly along for the ride and was happy to do anything I asked her in bed. In her I found the partner I’d so long desired. Honey was just my plaything, but with Esther our connection wasn’t just physical, I cared for her even loved her.

‘Peter’ covered for my disappearance, saying that she’d sent me on a special errand. No one questioned it. She was, after all, the Easter Bunny. Esther was another story, she was not employed in the factory and thus Peter could not speak for her. No one knew of our burgeoning romance, but we’d long been close and all it had taken was a few whispers here or there. According to the stories, Esther left with me, having at last admitted her true feelings. There were other rumors too, ones of a darker nature, but no one stepped forward with concrete proof and they left the matter hanging.

A few days after Easter, the first transformations took place. We’d been pretty random about who we picked and were careful not to drug any children. At first there was panic and finger-pointing, but as the changes continued night after night, and little by little attitudes shifted. Though many tried, none determined a cause. A few fled the warren in fear, but even interference from the other warrens did little to slow the onslaught of transformations. Soon, with the help of a select few unwitting dupes, we disseminated the potions to the other warrens.

We even began making our own formula from scratch. Roughly half of those we transformed were given the Aphrodite formula, an eighth the Adonis, and the rest what we dubbed the Hermaphroditus formula, the same mix that I’d given Honey.

I enjoyed riding the cock of a big hunk of a man as much as the next girl, but males had a lot of silly ideas. I should know I used to be one. It was best to keep them in the minority so us ladies might have a turn at the wheel. Those transformed by the Hermaphroditus formula weren’t a problem. Something about their transformations made them so pliable, they did pretty much anything we told them.

Before long, those who’d been changed outnumbered those who had not and as I hoped, the females were the ones who filled the power vacuum. By then everyone knew the truth, but those that were transformed didn’t care and the rest had given up hope of things ever returning to normal.

Jack was all but a bad memory, I’d become a vibrant, confident, and sexy woman, I took a name that fit the new me. Briana, it made me feel sexy as hell and I think it fit pretty well. Esther also adopted a new moniker. She confessed to me, she’d never really liked Esther much to begin with and since we’d already changed so much why keep such a ghastly name? Etta seemed to fit her just fine.

That was when I made my return to public life, with Esther in tow, revealing that I had been behind the entire thing. There had been so very many thankful bunnies that there was a campaign to name me the new Easter Bunny. I hadn’t asked for it, but who was I to argue with the will of the people? I at last permitted Peter to become Honey full time and other than the rampant sex, and the tide of transformed bunnies, everything returned to normal, save for one little thing.

My first act as Easter Bunny was to put a new emphasis on hand-painted eggs. There was still a place for the mass-produced candy-filled ones that had supplanted their more traditional counterparts, but by next Easter I intended that every human household receive at least one hand-painted egg, more if we could manage.

I never yelled at my workers, and I gave them encouragement wherever possible. I couldn’t say if that had anything to do with it, or if it was the increased stamina from the potions, but productivity went up more than twenty-five percent.

Etta, Honey, and I moved in together. Instead of working with me Honey pursued a new career as a seamstress, she displayed an aptitude for it that surprised us all. It was just as well. There was a real clothing shortage with the wave of transformations and no one wanted to wear their drab old outfits, anyway.

Etta helped manage the factory, and during lunch breaks we made time for each other, which is to say we fucked like the bunny rabbits we’d once been, and Honey, always eager to join in the fun often showed up to participate in our escapades. At first, she was just our little play thing, but over time she showed a great deal of remorse for the way she’d treated me, and I, in turn, for manipulating her. Without quite knowing how, we found a place for her in our hearts. The three of us married the next spring.

I don’t know if my father would approve, but I tried to honor him in whatever way I could. It was a shame he hadn’t lived to see me at last embrace the responsibility he’d wanted for me all along.

Displaced

Author's Note

I’ve been sitting on this one for over a year and a half. I figured it was about time I dusted this puppy off and get it fine-tuned so I could share it with all of you. Thanks again Xtrim for providing grammar edits.

This story is part of an open universe, please visit the open universes page for details.

At the sound of footsteps, I dove into a copse of bushes near the base of the exterior staircase. My heart hammered in my chest as I positioned myself to surveil the path leading into the building. It was dark and illumination from a streetlight beamed down on the sidewalk giving me a clear view of the newcomer.

His perfect teeth were gritted, and he was yelling into his phone. “The wry little bastard has been giving me the slip all day.”

When Jared Travis stepped in front of the bushes where I’d concealed myself, he stopped and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know, Mom, but last month it took him almost a week to pay up and I’m getting real tired of trying to hunt him down.”

Linda, Jared’s mother, owned Shady Acres Apartments. She’d retired a few years back and left the management of the building up to her son. That she’d taken a personal interest didn’t bode well for me at all.

“Okay, okay,” he said turning his back to me and shaking his head. “Calm down, no one said anything about evicting him.”

Okay, did I hear that right? I shook my head and discounted the notion. Linda was a far sight more pleasant to get along with than her son. She’d been the most easy going landlady from whom I’d ever rented. That being said she’d evicted more than a few people over the years, it seemed unlikely she’d spare me a second thought.

Jared growled under his breath, tapped the screen of his phone and slid it back into his pocket. He glanced back toward the bushes one final time and for a second I was sure he’d seen me, but then he turned away and disappeared back into the building slamming the door shut behind him.

I waited a few tense minutes, certain that he would return, but when he didn’t show his face, I pulled myself out of the bushes. After brushing myself off, I made my way back into the building keeping my eyes and ears open. It was late, and the hallways were devoid of anyone or anything which made it a lot easier for me to get back into my apartment unnoticed.

Still, where Jared was concerned, I’d learned to be cautious. When I got to the elevators, instead of hopping in, I walked past, taking the opposite doorway and made my way up the staircase.

I lived on the third floor and the effort shouldn’t have winded me, but I’d spent all day booking my ass around town and hopping from bus to bus. I submitted my resume to more than half a dozen places and I still didn’t like my chances. Needless to say, I was tired.

When I got up to my floor, I paused at the door, glanced out the little window and cursed under my breath. “Dammit all to hell.”

Jared, my super, waited just outside my apartment door, arms folded across his chest and, as cliché as it sounded, tapping his foot on the floor. The slick bastard must have figured out I wasn’t inside and was waiting for me to get back. Which meant I would either have to confront him or wait him out.

I chose the latter cursing the pretty boy under my breath as I slumped down to the ground and let out a long sigh. Must be nice to have a rich mother to hand you a damn job. Meanwhile people like me had to do things the hard way. Given that I froze up during interviews, I didn’t have much success.

I sighed and pulled my phone out of my pocket confirming what I already knew, the thing was dead. So, I put it back and looked around.

That’s when I saw something which caught my eye.

I grunted and reached over retrieving what looked like a rolled-up magazine which someone had jammed into a slat in the railing. Once unrolled, I peered into the thing and snorted. It wasn’t a magazine at all, but a catalog titled ‘Aethermysts: Your number one source for all your magic needs.’

I flipped through the pages and snorted again.

“Give me a fucking break. Mach-O-Blaster, Gend-O-Matic? What the fuck is this?” I asked no one in particular then crumpled the catalog into a ball and threw the damn thing as hard and as far as I could.

With a long plaintive sigh, I folded my arms across my chest and gritted my teeth. Something told me I would have one long ass wait on my hands.

#

The wry little bastard lingered for another three hours before finally giving up and traipsing out of the hallway. I had to hand it to him he stuck around much longer than I expected. I guess it just goes to show how big of an annoyance I’d been. I just needed to keep away from him until tomorrow morning. After that, there was a good chance I’d have the money.

I waited ten minutes after he left, then opened the stairwell door and glanced about the hallway before slinking my way toward my apartment door and slipped inside. I dropped my coat at the door, so tired I didn’t even give a fuck about expending the extra effort to put it on the coat rack.

My apartment wasn’t much to look at, and, to be honest, I was no interior decorator. By almost any standard my living space was damned spartan, but that suited me just fine. I didn’t need to clutter up my place with useless crap. I had everything I would ever need.

Moving through my modest little living space, I cut a beeline to the bedroom. Once inside, I fell face first into bed. I rolled onto my side, and just before I slipped into a semi-vegetative state, I noticed a wadded up piece of paper resting on my nightstand. Within seconds, I was out and lost in the blissful world of dreams.

#

It was late by the time my tired ass woke up. Had it not been for the sound of several loud thuds, I would have slept longer. At first, I convinced myself the sound resulted from muted gunfire, but as I came fully awake, I realized something much more mundane was at work. Someone was at the door.

I stumbled out of bed, knocking the crumpled up wad of paper off of my nightstand, and staggered toward the door. I had just enough presence of mind to glance through the peephole before swinging the door wide open.

“Waddya want?!” I demanded barely capable of even grunting it out and squinted at the little fellow as I scratched the back of my head.

“Hi, I’m Steve we talked yesterday on the phone about your Gregslist ad? You’re Harry, right?” He looked at me eyes wide and darting away from the door.

“Oh? Right, right,” I said throwing a hand over my shoulder and let out a loud yawn. Shit, I’d forgotten all about him. “Sorry had a late night. Why don’t you come in and we can do this thing?”

I moved away from the opening and Steve stepped inside. Once I closed the door behind him, I glanced around and held my hand up as I emitted another loud yawn. “Uh, wait a minute I’ll be right back.”

I slipped into my room and stopped dead in my tracks. I walked over to my nightstand and furrowed my brows.

What the fuck? The clumped up wad of paper was again sitting on my nightstand. I could have sworn I’d knocked it to the ground when I stumbled out of bed. It looked an awful lot like that weird catalog I’d found in the staircase. I shook my head, convinced I must have been mistaken, tossed the wad into the garbage and retrieved the item for which Steve had come.

I found him waiting where I’d left him and motioned toward the couch with an open hand. “Uh, I guess you’re gonna want a look at the merchandise.”

Steve nodded, took a seat, and I set the laptop down in front of him. He flipped the thing open and booted it up. I sat opposite him. “I put in new hinges, upgraded the ram, replaced the original hard drive with a solid state drive and did a clean install of the OS.”

Steve nodded, but didn’t say a word, eyes glued to the screen as he logged into the computer. I waited with bated breath, ever since I lost my job I’d been eking out a meager existence by refurbishing damaged laptops and other electronics. Some folks made good money that way, but I’d only been at it for less than half a year. While I was pretty good at repairing things, I wasn’t much of a people person.

Steve continued with his inspection, and I leaned back into my seat waiting for him to finish up. He continued for a good ten minutes before he flipped the notebook shut and looked back up at me. “I’ll take it.”

Next came the haggling, and as I expected, I ended up selling it for less than my original asking price, but it would be enough. The laptop hadn’t exactly been high end, and I’d come out of the deal with more than I’d put in. With some money I’d already collected from another repair job, I would have enough to pay rent for the month and not much else. I guessed I’d be living off ramen for the foreseeable future. I was getting real tired of scrimping by like this month after month. Shit, I needed to find a job and fast.

After letting Steven out I returned to my bedroom, just a little disconcerted to find that the paper wad had again found its way back onto my nightstand. Either someone was playing a prank on me or something strange was going on. As much as I strained my mind I couldn’t think of anyone beyond Jared or the super who might have access to my apartment and there would be no reason why either would punk me in such a manner.

I picked the ball of paper up, collapsed into bed and retrieved my phone from inside my pocket. I dialed Jared and put my cell against my ear while un-crumpling the wad with my free hand. Sure enough, it was the same catalog from the stairwell. I turned the thing back to front and began to flip through the pages as I waited for Jared to pick up, but he never did. So I left a message and hung up.

I set the phone down and eyed the catalog with all my attention. Again, I flipped through, this time looking for a website or a phone number and found neither. Instead, all I found was a P.O. Box. Thinking, perhaps, that it might be outdated, I looked for a copyright date and found one the very bottom of the back cover. It was less than a month old.

I wasn’t sure what convinced me the thing was authentic. The whole teleportation act it pulled seemed impressive, but, face it, with enough time I would have rationalized it. Maybe, I wanted it to be real. A part of me was still wary of the catalog, even if the items listed within were real, there was no telling how well they worked or if they worked the way they advertised.

I have to admit, the Mach-O-Blaster piqued my interest, for that matter, so did the Power Potion, but the item that really caught my eye was the cheapest in the entire book. It seemed a little ironic given the item’s intended purpose, but that didn’t raise the red flags it should have.

The catalog listing called it a Prosperity Spell and from what I could tell it was meant to help the user be successful in their future endeavors. Was it so surprising given my current predicament?

I was getting desperate, and tired of trying to eke out a meager existence on almost nothing. Something needed to change, or I’d be out on my ass in no time. Most people would scoff at ordering a spell out of a catalog, myself included, but the thought didn’t give me much pause.

I ended up sending in the five dollars with the order form. My budget was already slim, but that small amount of cash would not make a lot of difference. I just wish I’d read the small print before completing the order form, it would have saved me a lot of trouble.

#

Her hips swayed and her breasts jiggled with each step. She leveled her gaze on me and I stopped, ramen-packed grocery bags clenched in my hands and stared at her with wide eyes. She wore a skimpy little black formal dress, and she was easily the most attractive woman I’d ever laid eyes on shy of the television or big screen.

Something was wrong. I saw it in seconds. For one there was a strange vacant expression in her eyes, and for another she was moving straight toward me. Don’t get me wrong, I was far from ugly, but we didn’t even exist in the same league. Hell, I doubted she’d even give Jared a second glance, and women loved the guy.

The elevator doors started to close on me and I lurched forward letting the doors hit my shoulders and open back up. I eyed the woman, bit my lip and smiled. “Hey, how’s it going?”

She didn’t pause, or even acknowledge that she’d heard me, but just kept coming. I took a few awkward steps to the side and as I did so she turned to adjust course. Now, I don’t mean she turned upon seeing me step away, but did it in perfect sync with me. It was freaky as hell and it raised the old shackles on the back of my neck.

She held a little envelope in her hands and when she got close, she raised her hand holding it out to me. I froze and stared at her with wide eyes. She didn’t budge a muscle, keeping so still that she may well have been a statue.

I looked into her eyes and waved my hand in front of her face. She didn’t respond, but stayed in place hand still extended. When I took a step back, and she moved forward, again in sync with me.

I glanced toward my apartment door, contemplating making a run for it, but sheer morbid curiosity got the better of me. It was obvious she wanted me to take the thing, and I was dying to know what could be in it.

I gritted my teeth, shifted both bags of ramen into one hand and snatched the paper out of her outstretched palm. The moment I had it, she shook her head and looked around. It was almost as if someone had switched on a light inside her mind.

“Where the hell am I?!” She demanded her eyes settling on me.

“Uh, Shady Acres Apartments,” I replied.

She stood there eyeing me with a pair of striking blue eyes that seemed to look right through me. She lifted a wrist glancing at a jewel-encrusted watch that probably cost more than I’d made in the last year and started cursing under her breath.

“Dammit, I’m late!” She took off down the corridor, her high-heels clicking and clacking against the hardwood floors of the hallway. The tight little dress limited the movements of her leg and coupled with the height of her heels I thought for certain she’d lose her balance and take a tumble. Somehow she made it all the way to the elevator, and she soon disappeared through its shiny metal doors.

Like a jackass I stood there and watched the elevator doors, still, just a little freaked out by what had happened. It took me well over a minute before I had the bright idea to examine the envelope. It seemed ordinary enough, save that someone had sealed it with wax. There were no addresses or post office box numbers, but it had my name on the middle of the front. In the top left instead of a return address it listed Aethermysts Order Fulfillment Services.

If I’d had any doubts about the legitimacy of the catalog, their delivery method damn well put them to rest. I slipped the envelope into one of the grocery bags and walked straight for my apartment.

Once inside, I dropped both my grocery sacks onto the counter, retrieved the envelope from inside and plopped down on the couch tearing it open. Inside I found pretty much what I expected, directions for completing the prosperity spell that I’d ordered. It was all hand-written in a simple, impeccable script that resembled calligraphy, but which appeared to be written with a ballpoint pen.

I read it front and back and leaned back on the couch letting out a long sigh. The whole thing just seemed a little too good to be true, a prosperity spell that promised to bring wealth and well-being to whoever cast it and it had only set me back five dollars? I bit my lip and eyed a particular line at the very top of the paper that was just a little disconcerting.

‘Warning, be sure to follow the directions exactly as instructed and pronounce each portion of the spell as written. Failure to do so may result in transfiguration, and/or chronological displacement.’

I didn’t know what the fuck the warning meant, but, I think, it would give anyone pause. I almost crumbled the spell up and tossed it in the wastebasket, but stopped eyeing a second envelope sitting on the coffee table before me. It contained another bill.

I didn’t have more than a few dollars to my name and unless I sold half of the crap in my apartment, managed to sell another device or landed a repair job, I wouldn’t be able to pay it. I was getting damned tired of scrimping by just to make ends meet. The spell might be the answer to that.

So, against my better judgement I moved into the bedroom to retrieve what I needed. When I had a candle and a little lump of sidewalk chalk, I returned to the living room. The candle from a small supply I kept around in case of power outages, which were frequent in the area, and the chalk had been left by one of the previous tenants and I’d never bothered tossing it.

I pushed the couch out the way and upturned the ragged old rug that protected the hardwood floor. Had I any money, I would have replaced it months ago.

I plopped down, and put the paper down in front of me, as the instructions mentioned and drew a circle around myself. According to the spell, it would contain the thaumaturgic energies and prevent them from hemorrhaging into the worlds beyond. I didn’t know what the hell that meant, but it didn’t sound like something I wanted to happen. Needless to say, I was really careful while forming the ring.

Next, I put the unlit candle in front of me, clenched my eyes shut and started to chant the words on the paper as instructed. “Subponatis… Adolebitque illud… advocabit potestate.”

I opened my eyes and almost jumped out of the circle in sheer shock. The candle was lit! Fortunately, I kept still. I didn’t want to screw this up. I continued with the incantation, careful to read each line as specified. When I got to the final few bits of text, I paused sweat dripping down my whole body. I opened my mouth to speak the final few words, and the damned doorbell rang.

Startled, I jerked sideways and knocked the candle over. I didn’t dare leave the circle, I had no idea what kind of effect that might have in the middle of the spell. I righted the candle and glanced down at the spell reciting the final few words and then broke the circle. An odd tingling sensation coursed down my body as I stood and moved towards the door.

Before I got there, a sharp stabbing pain shot through my gut and I hunched over collapsing to my knees. The oddest sensation wove its way through my chest, and as I slipped my hands over one of my nipples, it swelled outward. I collapsed to the ground as my bones cracked and popped. My throat burned and I let out a single scream which sounded far too high-pitched to my ears, just before everything went dark.

#

A hand touched my shoulder, and I gasped my eyes snapping open. My vision was muddied at first, and my mind couldn’t quite grasp where I was. So I lay there squinting into a blurry blob of dull grays and browns, no doubt looking very perplexed. As my vision resolved itself, my mind snapped back into focus and I found myself looking into the face of a stranger. His lips moved, but I couldn’t quite make out what he said.

Like my sight, my hearing returned, and I grunted as the stranger’s words became clear to me. “—kay?”

I nodded and met his gaze. Memories of casting the spell returned to me and I sat bolt upright, my chest jiggling in a very disconcerting way. I swallowed hard and glanced down, confirming what I already suspected. A set of large breasts now protruded from my chest. I slid a hand down, touching them before swallowing again and dropped it between my legs. Though I couldn’t feel much through the fabric of my jeans, it was more what I didn’t feel that drove things home.

A strong breeze hit my face and for the first time I took in my surroundings. I was outside in an empty field. An old dirt road stretched into a treeline in the distance, a classic Ford pickup was parked just off to the side where they met and storm clouds darkened the sky. I didn’t recognize my surroundings, or the man who stood so close to me.

The warning on the spell sprang to mind and wondered if this might not be what it meant. My heart hammering in my chest, I raised both of my arms and touched my face. It seemed, different, wrong. All my stubble had gone, instead my skin was smooth and silky, and my nose was too small, but that was not all. Further, explorations revealed a set of soft lips, a missing Adam’s apple and

I glanced at the stranger and pursed my lips. “W-where am I?” My eyes bulged out of my head at the sound of my voice. It was soft and feminine, dare I say, sexy?

“Just off the Old Fork Road, Miss.” He said gazed at me his eyebrows shooting way up.

“Um,” I palmed my face with both hands. “What town is that in?”

“New Haven,” he said, and when I didn’t respond, he added. “That’s in Utah.”

I met his gaze and bit my lip and looked around again. “New Haven?”

I was more than a little familiar with New Haven, I knew it well. My apartment building was located there, and I’d been living in the general area for pretty much my entire life. I’d never heard of an ‘Old Fork Road’, but I didn’t know the name of every street in town. That being said, the place I’d landed myself in, didn’t look familiar at all. I wondered, could he be wrong?

New Haven was a tiny little landlocked town. There hadn’t been an empty field for as long as I could remember. Maybe before I’d been born, but…

Realization hit me like a ton of bricks and I held my breath. Without even thinking about it, I began to recount the warning message from the spell over and over in my head.

‘Warning, be sure to follow the directions exactly as instructed and pronounce each portion of the spell as written. Failure to complete any step correctly may result in transfiguration, and/or chronological displacement.’

Though I didn’t understand at the time, I now had an inkling of what those words must have meant.

I gritted my teeth, met my rescuer’s gaze and released the air out of my lungs. A wet trickle kissed my cheek and peered up just in time to catch another in the eye. I blinked wiping the drops from my face, but it was a futile effort as more followed. In moments, what started as a slight drizzle became a steady downpour.

“Can you stand?” My new friend asked.

I bit my lip, nodded and lurched from the ground. My feet slipped out of my shoes as I took my first few steps and I stumbled forward damn near falling face first, but my rescuer’s firm arms grabbed me by the shoulders and held me steady. The warmth of his body pressed into my new breasts and I stood there mesmerized by the strange new feelings that this awakened with me.

He cleared his throat and pulled away, and a cold shiver traveled down my spine. My heart hammered in my chest and it was all I could do just to look away. My new body responded to his touch in ways I didn’t want to admit.

“We should get out of the rain.” He smiled and held out his hand.

I nodded and accepted his hand. I don’t know why I felt I could trust him. Somehow I knew it would be all right and, if I was going to be honest, a part of me wanted to do more than just go with him.

I didn’t bother retrieving my shoes before we took off running again. They wouldn’t have fit me anyway, my rescuer glanced back at them, but shook his head and sighed, no doubt thinking better of it. My pants sagged from my waist, but caught around my wider hips. My pants slipped down past my ankle and over my feet, and even though they flopped about as I ran, I kept at it. I tripped over them once, but again Trey caught me. It wasn’t long before we reached the pickup I’d spotted earlier. I got there first and stopped panting for breath outside the passenger side door.

My body seemed so alien, but one area was particularly troublesome while running. My breasts jiggled and shook with every movement and the faster I went the worse it got. It actually hurt a little. No wonder women wore sports bras.

A hand touched my shoulder, and I jerked out of the way allowing my rescuer to open the door for me. I jumped inside and whipped my hand out to close the door behind me, but my rescuer beat me to it. I hugged my knees against my chest and rolled my pant legs up as I waited for him to climb on the other side.

I glanced down at my breasts again staring at them with wide eyes, still trying to wrap my head around my transformation. My clothes were soaked through and my nipples showed through the shirt. I’d never liked the way a wet t-shirt had clung against my skin, but now that I had breasts it was worse. Particularly since the shirt stretched tighter across the chest than it ever had been before my transformation.

“You got a name?” My rescuer asked, and I turned in time to see him swing the driver’s side door shut behind him.

“I, uh,” I stopped mind racing trying to come up with a name to throw out, but I couldn’t quite form the words.

He turned to eye me and began to panic.

“Linda,” I spoke the first name that came to me and it left a sour taste in my mouth just to speak the lie, but I saw no other option.

If I’d guessed right, I had not been born yet. Even if I was wrong, and I’d landed myself in some area of New Haven, I’d never been before, which seemed unlikely, there was no way to prove my identity. So, I could either tell everyone what had happened or play it safe and put on a bit of a show. Since, the former of my two options stood a good chance of landing me in a mental institution the latter seemed the wiser choice.

“Linda?” he said eyeing me for a moment before starting the pick up. “I’m John Benedict Travis the third, but all my friends call me Trey.”

I froze, and folded my arms across my chest, very aware of Trey’s eyes on my breasts.

“Pleasure,” I mumbled and cold chills trickling down my spine. I shuddered and looked out at the rain drenched expanse. Even though I’d been chilled to the bone, the shiver had nothing to do with my clothes being soaked through or the temperature outside. John “Trey” Travis had been the name of Linda’s husband.

I knew of the implications, but I wouldn’t allow myself to accept what they must mean. It was a coincidence, nothing more.

Trey, watched for a moment, then slipped his jacket off and handed it to me. “Sorry, it’s not much, but once the heater kicks in, I’m sure you’ll be warm enough.” He smiled at me, shifted the vehicle into gear, and started down the road.

“Is there somewhere I can take you Linda?” He asked glancing at me before returning his gaze to the road ahead.

I bit my lip and shook my head. “No, I’m not from around here and the truth is I’m not sure how I got here.”

In a way, it was true, but it still seemed like a lie to my ears. I leaned forward and slipped his jacket on. Though huge on me, it did help warm me.

“It’s funny we don’t usually get rain like this. Doesn’t look like it’ll get better any time soon. I’ll take you back to my place and get you some dry clothes. You look about the same size as my wife. We should be able to find you something.”

“You’re married?” I asked, thinking perhaps I’d encountered a different Trey Travis, but his answer shot that theory to hell.

“I used to be, she passed away last spring.”

“S-sorry.” I eyed him, another shudder rippling down my spine.

“You had no way of knowing. When we get there, I’ll put in a call to Sheriff Riley. He’s a friend of mine, if anyone out there is looking for you he should be able to find out.”

It made sense, from his perspective, if ‘Linda’ had gone missing someone might have filed a missing persons report. Linda hadn’t existed until I’d woken up in that field, so any effort on their part would be a big old waste of time. If I felt guilty before it was nothing compared to the pit that formed in the bottom of my stomach.

“Do—,” I glanced over at him my lips quivering. I never finished the sentence. I gritted my teeth suppressing the urge to break down in tears. Some people might think all the girly hormones now coursing through my new female body were responsible, but under the circumstances almost anyone would be bawling their eyes out.

The spell had transformed me into a woman and more than likely transported me back in time. On top of that, I had no legal identity. Which meant, no social security, no credit score and no citizenship. I was a man, make that woman, who had been cut off from everything and everyone I’d ever known. The chances of going back to my old life were slim to none and as miserable as it was, it had been familiar. Now that my whole life had been thrown out the window, I didn’t have any idea what to do with myself. I’d seen grown men cry over less.

Hot tears stung my cheeks, and I hunched over just letting them come. Trey glanced over at me and smiled. “Hey now, it’ll be all right. You hear me? We’ll get this thing figured out.”

His words actually helped provide some small comfort, but still I cried. Save for the occasional sob escaping my lips, we spent the rest of the car ride in silence. I leaned into Trey’s side and he wrapped an arm around my waist. I wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone, least of all myself, but it made my heart flutter. What the hell was wrong with me?

#

I stood staring at myself in the mirror and found myself looking at my reflection with wide eyes. The girl who looked back at me bore more than a passing resemblance to the Linda I’d known. The more time I spent in my new body the more I became convinced that I had, in fact, become her or, at least, a past version of her. I hadn’t realized how much of a looker she’d been in her youth until I’d become her.

It had been more than a week, since Trey found me in that field and in that time I was no closer to wrapping my head around what happened.

In the short time since then, I played my cards well. The police, and the folks at the hospital had all bought my act. All I had to do was bat my eyelashes, and they fell for it it all hook, line and sinker. It was frightening how easy it had been. There had been a few local officers who expressed suspicion, but with no proof they dropped the matter.

Trey hauled me off to the hospital, and they did the obligatory physical examinations and the police took my fingerprints and ran a background check. They turned up nothing. Since I showed no signs of physical injury, the doctor’s thought I might be suffering from dissociative amnesia, basically memory loss brought on by serious mental trauma I let them think that given that the alternative was a one-way trip to the loony bin.

I came up with some bullshit backstory about moving across the country to start a new life. Though ‘Linda’ remembered bits and pieces of her old life she didn’t recall enough to be of any help. She possessed very little money and just enough cash to get where she needed to go, but even her destination she did not remember. When I woke up in the field, I had nothing and so neither did my new persona. Her car and what little money she had disappeared along with most of her memories or would have if they’d existed in the first place. The details didn’t matter, it was just another damn lie anyway, but it ate me up inside. I kept hearing my mother’s voice in my head telling me she had raised me better than that.

Trey offered to give me a place to stay until I got my feet off the ground and I accepted. Grateful for a place to stay, I took him up on his offer, but it made me uncomfortable as hell staying in the home of a strange man that wanted to fuck me. That wasn’t even the worst part, though. I wanted to fuck him too.

When I peered back into the mirror, I shook my head, and cast such thoughts out of my head.

I bit my lip and began to unbutton the blouse I wore. It had been difficult, but I’d spent the time since my rescue avoiding even glancing in the direction of a mirror. I tried my damnedest to pretend that I was still regular old Harry, but Trey made that difficult, if not impossible. I ignored the fact that his eyes always seemed to focus on my chest, or at least I pretended to. I didn’t blame him. If I were occupying the same space as the living personification of a goddess I would have a hard time keeping my eyes to myself too.

When I’d woken up that morning, I’d concluded that I wouldn’t bury my head in the sand any longer and that was how I’d found myself looking in the mirror.

The clothes I wore, a button up blouse and a pair of sweats belonged to Tray’s wife Mary, and they fit me rather well. I couldn’t bring myself to wear any of her nightgowns, they’d all been so very feminine and it seemed wrong wearing something she’d worn in the bedroom. Every time I looked at them I imagined Trey making love to her… and more often than not, me in her clothing.

I often fantasized about him, which disturbed me more than anything. Since, my transformation, I didn’t have eyes for the fairer sex. Before my change, it had been easy to conjure images of myself making love to beautiful women, but try as I might I couldn’t bring such fantasies to life inside of my mind. I even tried to arouse myself by thinking of some of my former girlfriends and what I’d done to them in bed, but it just didn’t do it for me anymore.

Soon, the shirt was off and I found myself looking at a nice set of breasts in the mirror. I hadn’t gotten around to getting fitted for a bra, and I’d been walking around with them hanging there on my chest unrestricted beneath my clothes. In times past, if I saw such a pair of glorious tits I would have found it difficult to keep my eyes off them, but while they held my rapt attention it was for very different reasons. I experienced no arousal whatsoever.

I looked young, perhaps in my early twenties, my breasts had not begun to sag. I’d regressed in age almost a decade, given a form that was vivacious in every sense of the word and while I think a lot of women would have been envious, all I experienced was disgust. Sometimes I didn’t even feel like myself. Every movement, every sensation, seeming wrong.

I cupped my boobs, not for the first time, but with more attention to detail than before. They were firm, firmer than any set I’d ever laid hands on. Even ones half their size.

Next, I slid my hands down my side and unclasped the button on my jeans. I leaned over to slide them down my legs and glanced up at my reflection. It still unnerved me to see that girl in the mirror. I stood full upright and eyed her.

The only piece of clothing I wore were my panties. They would come off later once I’d gotten a better look at the rest of my body. My vulva would be too great of a distraction if it too were exposed.

If the spell had been designed to create my ideal woman, it couldn’t have done any better. Before my transformation I liked my women soft, and Linda was exactly that. She wasn’t fat, but nor was she skinny, merely what I would consider an ideal weight. Her hips were wide, and she possessed an ass that just didn’t quit. She had slim shoulders, and hair done up in a masculine style exactly as it had been when I was male, save that it was now a fiery red where before it had been a dull brown. It seemed odd to me, that my haircut alone would be the only thing that had not changed, but it was the least of my worries.

There wasn’t a single blemish on my entire body as far as I could tell. No cellulite, moles or a single freckle. I had the body the likes of which I had only believed existed in magazines until that day. Perhaps through surgery someone might achieve such a figure, but, it would take dozens of procedures to receive results that even came close to what I saw before me.

I stood holding my breath taking in every detail, every little curve for what seemed like several minutes, but was probably closer to a few seconds. Then, I let all the air out of my lungs and slipped my panties free from my waist and over my hips before letting them fall to the ground.

Like the rest of my physique, my vagina was, perhaps, too perfect, but as I stood there eying the god-forsaken thing in the mirror, I only hesitated for the briefest of seconds before plunging my finger inside. The sensations that arose were pleasurable.

My eyes widened, and I found thoughts of Trey coming to me unbidden. I pursed my lips, emitting a soft moan as I slid my finger in and out of my clit. Though I’d heard it said that arousal worked differently for women than it did in men, never until that moment did I realize how wide the gap was. I slid a hand up my chest and messaged my left nipple even as the other one worked its magic on my nether regions.

Things might have been taken a step further, had it not been for one thing. I sensed rather than saw, the doorknob moving and I turned just in time to witness the door swing open.

“Linda, I thou—” He stopped mid sentence, and just stood there wide-eyed like a deer caught in headlights.

My heart hammered in my chest and I too stood there frozen looking back at him with my jaw hanging open. In that moment, something changed in me.

It was sparked by the realization that I would never go back to being the person who I was before. It had only been a fluke that I’d discovered the catalog and it was unlikely I’d ever be able to track down another copy if it even existed yet. I could spend all my time living in denial or I could accept what the spell had done to me and move forward in my life.

“Oh, god, I’m so sorry. I thought you’d be in bed,” Trey said still frozen in place.

What I did next surprised even me. I didn’t attempt to cover myself, but instead sauntered toward him, my hips and ass swaying to some unheard tune. Though I’d seen women move like that before, never in my life would I have suspected I would be able to pull it off myself. I don’t know if it was something that was natural to every woman, or if perhaps it was something that came with my hyper-sexualized body. The truth was I was beginning to care less and less.

I suspected that this change in attitudes may have been a side effect from the spell, and it scared me more than a little. That being said, there would be no stopping myself. I wanted Trey, no, I needed him to do things that would have been unthinkable just moments ago.

When I got close, I grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him toward me. He didn’t resist and our lips locked, sharing a kiss that took my breath away. He put his arms around me, and soon I found myself spread full eagle atop the bed. I wasn’t sure if I had pulled him toward it or if he had pushed me atop it, but either way the result was the same.

It didn’t matter. All I knew was that he was on his knees atop the bed ready to fuck. My hands slid up his waistband, and I pulled his belt free and I tossed it sideways. I heard the buckle clink against the wall, but I neither saw nor cared where it landed.

Soon, I was looking at his cock, and a nervous grin spread across my face as he lowered his body and plunged it into me. If my eyes had been wide before, I’m sure, it was nothing compared to how they looked then. There was a pressure inside of me, a tightness that left me gasping for air. God it was amazing, and yet, it hurt a little too. His lips touched my neck, and his hands kneaded my breasts. I screamed out, in exquisite agony as he pulled out and plunged his member deep inside of me again.

I didn’t have any idea how long we went at it. It might well have been hours or minutes. We did things to one another for which I didn’t have words. I’d never made love so passionately. Which made me realize just how selfish I had been before my change. I released my load and been done with it.

It was clear Trey knew how to pleasure a woman and for that education I was very grateful. Never had I imagined what it must feel like for a woman nor had I imagined I would ever be so vocal. I couldn’t help myself every time he kissed me in just the right place, my heart fluttered and my loins burned with desire. Sweat ran from every pour, as our passions evoked a heat the likes I had yet to experience. Bodily fluids dripped from every orifice, and every time his hands touched my breasts or slid down the nape of my back, I shivered.

When he released his load, and I found myself panting for air. He rolled off me and lay there looking up at the ceiling, my heart still hammering inside of my chest. I should have been in a frenzy, but all I felt was the warm afterglow of our lovemaking. Panic would come later.

#

The change that had come upon me when Trey and I had been making love was not something that I knew how to articulate, but it marked the beginning of the end for Harry and sparked my journey to becoming Linda. It didn’t take place all at once, nor did I let it happen without a fight.

Three months came and went and in that time I’d almost gotten used to seeing Linda looking back at me in the mirror. I barely even thought of myself as Harry anymore, which was what terrified me. I’d had several periods and in an odd way I felt as if it was an initiation, but even so I was only just beginning to understand what it meant to be a woman.

Trey and I made love, frequently, and it was one of the few things that I didn’t regret. He made me think that it might somehow all be worth it. When we fucked, it didn’t matter if I was Harry or Linda. Everything just made sense. It was one of those times that helped put the final nail in Harry’s coffin.

Trey spent his day off in the field tending to his animals and when he got back, I saw hunger in his eyes. I might have wondered what had ignited his interest, but I knew from the moment his eyes met mine that it was all me. I answered with the same hunger, damn near flying across the room to get to him.

Our lips locked and the next thing I knew I was down on my back atop the counter. That was another thing about our liaisons they weren’t ever bound by the restrictions of a single room. Although, I must admit that this was the first time we’d fucked in the kitchen.

I shivered and shook my head, clearing my mind of distracting thoughts. It had been weeks since that event and the memory of it still burned bright in my mind. Our lovemaking had been passionate and wild. I’d been little better than an animal, but neither had Trey.

I looked down at the home pregnancy test clenched in my hands. In my time, they had come a long way from their earliest days. The one I was holding in my hands was among the first that had been commercially available in the United States. They’d only been out a few years and as yet hadn’t evolved into the much simpler little sticks that my partners would use.

The whole process was easy, you put some pee, water, and the provided chemicals into the tube, shake the hell out of the thing and stand it up inside of the little case that came with it. Then you waited, two fucking hours. The waiting was the worst part.

This was only the second time I’d used one. The first being after the morning Trey had walked in on me naked and we’d made love for the first time. After that incident Trey used a condom, but when we fucked that day in the kitchen our passion got the better of us and we hadn’t been thinking with our heads on straight.

I’d already waited the prerequisite two hours. So I looked into the little box, peering into the little mirror, and my breath caught in my throat.

I dropped it and it clinked and clattered on the hard linoleum floor. The vial fell out and rolled across the floor and I bent over to retrieve both. By some miracle neither broke, but, truth be told, I kind of wish they had. At least then it would have given me something to do with my hands.

I leaned my back against the wall and sank down to my knees my heart hammering inside my chest. The results were correct, I knew it in my heart, but I damn well intended to get it confirmed by a doctor. I sat there for quite a while, before I stood up and tossed everything in the trash bin. If I waited too long Trey would come looking for me so I moved out of the bathroom heading down the hallway toward the kitchen where he was waiting.

I had a little casserole baking in the oven and Trey was seated at the kitchen table reading the paper, waiting for dinner to finish. He was often up before the local periodical arrived so it had become something of a habit for him to read it after he’d gotten home.

I sat across from him and just stared off into space. Trey didn’t stop to greet me, we’d already shared our hellos at the door. He paused after a moment, lowered the paper down and eyed me. “Looks like they’re renaming Old Fork Road, to Wilson Avenue.”

Wilson Avenue was the name of the road they would eventually build my old apartment building on. Again, I held my breath, but I didn’t say a word. The field I’d woken up on was Trey’s property and I knew that it would become home to Shady Acres. Trey had inherited a pretty penny from his parents, a lot more than his neighbors new, far more than you’d expect from a simple farmer.

He eyed me, put down the paper and cleared his throat. “Linda, what wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I stared at him and shook my head hot tears stream drowning my cheeks. I opened my mouth, attempting to form the words, but I couldn’t find the words.

“Linda what is it?” He asked again.

I let out a long sigh and forced myself to speak. “I-I’m pregnant.”

Somehow, I hadn’t seen it coming. Linda and Trey were Jared’s parents. A part of me must have realized that if I stayed with Trey I’d get myself knocked up, but I hadn’t expected it so soon.

Trey, didn’t react as I expected. He was out of his seat, in a flash and pulled me up off my feet. He enfolded me in his arms and kissed me full on the lips. I melted in his arms and when we broke for air, I put my head on his shoulder.

“You gonna be okay?”

I nodded, my tears dripping down his chest. “The neighbors will talk.”

The truth was the neighbors were already talking. Trey and I hadn’t made our relationship a secret, and the town was mainly populated by Mormons and a handful Catholics so it went without being said our pre-marital activities would get the town gossip mill all in a flurry.

“Let them,” he whispered, and I just stood there lost in his embrace. Whatever part of me that was still holding on to my masculinity faded away in that moment. For all intents and purposes, it was the final death knell for Harry. He would always be a part of me, but I would never think of myself as him again. I was Linda, and that was just fine.

“Trey, I love you.” I spoke the words, without a moment’s hesitation. I pulled away to gauge his reaction, both of my hands on his shoulders.

He stared at me for a moment, before a smile stretched across his face. “I love you too.”

Crying anew, I collapsed into his arms. I wasn’t crying out of fear or shock, but joy. For the first time, I thanked my lucky stars that I had found that catalog. I’d never been happier in all my life.

One thing was for certain, if I ever got a hold of that catalog, I knew a certain stairway where I could stash it.

#

The End

Transfigured: Ascension of a Spellbinder

As I seek to find a means to halt Ragnarok I find allies in the unlikeliest of places. New enemies present themselves and I learn of the cruel experiments performed by the mad Doctor Mengele. He claims he can grant men the ability to use magic, but at what cost?

 

 

Author's Note

This is a revised version of the story, neither version is perfect since some readers complained about the narrative styles, but this one is still my preferred version. I’m only posting the revised version here, but the original is still available on Bigcloset Topshelf. Thanks go out to Beyogi, Maggie Finson, The Rev. Anam Chara, and the late Holly H Hart for all the help editing and beta reading the story.

 

+ - + - + - +

Before we met, Derek Hines lived a more or less quiet life as a desk jockey in a small office building in his hometown of Epegard. He had no aspirations for power or greed, all he ever wished was to stand on an equal footing with women. He would soon get his wish, but not in the way he had ever intended.

As days went, this one was altogether average for Derek. He had almost finished up his work, when Linnea, his boss, stepped into his small basement office. He had come to loathe the sight of the woman, and from his descriptions of her I don’t blame him. Linnea was an extremely attractive woman who greeted Derek with an all too familiar malevolent smile. “Derek,” she said with pouting lips and traced a well-manicured finger across Derek’s desk.

Linnea seemed to enjoy dumping outrageous piles of work on Derek’s desk and he knew with a sinking feeling that she was about to do it again. In spite of his hatred of the woman, he was no less affected by her feminine wiles. Though she was quick to utilize her looks to get her way, she had proven just as formidable wherever her looks were not suited to the task. She had destroyed the careers of countless rivals by backstabbing her way to her current position. “It looks like the Nanette is going to need that analysis report by Manadag. I have far too much work on my plate. Do you think you get that done for me?”

Derek flashed her a nervous smiled, “S-sure thing, Linn. I’ll get right on it.”

“Thanks, Derek,” she said. “You’re the best.”

“No weekend for you,” a voice familiar to Derek said a few moments later.

“Ayele,” Derek replied irritably. “I really don’t have time right now.”

As his attention returned back to his work, a small paper flyer appeared atop the paper he had been working on. “Check this out, man.”

Derek briefly glanced at the flyer, tossed it casually aside then turned back to his work. Ayele let out a grunt of protest, “Come on man. You’re the one always going on about men’s rights. I thought maybe you’d be interested.”

Ayele, like Derek, was of African descent and cut an imposing figure, standing nearly six and a half feet tall. Derek asked, “What on Midgard are you talking about?”

Ayele rolled his eyes, “The flyer man, the Sons of Odin are having a rally tonight.”

Derek scowled up at Ayele, “Another men’s rights group? No thanks. They’re all alike. Full of nothing but angry rhetoric and empty promises.”

“You’re hopeless, man. You say you want equal rights, but you ain’t never gonna do anything about it.” He shook his head, turned his back and left Derek alone with his thoughts.

Absently, Derek picked up the flyer and read through it. Eventually he went back to work, but as the day wore on he kept hearing Ayele’s words echo in his head.

+ - + - + - +

“Power, it’s what it all amounts too,” the speaker bellowed. “The Spellbinders have it and we don’t. To gain an equal footing we must use any means to accomplish our goals. We must turn the people against the ruling class and ignite the fires of violence against all who would stand in our way.”

Naturally, Derek wasn’t fooled. Like me, he believed that violence is not the path to equality, but to hatred and, sadly, more violence. He had come to the rally against his better judgment and now found himself wishing he had stayed away. This group seemed more interested in spewing out hate-filled venom than they did in making a difference. There had to be a better way. If men reduced themselves to that level, how were they any better than the Spellbinders believed them to be? How could they gain equality by proving their oppressors right?

Having heard enough, Derek turned his back and started working his way away from the crowd. Just as he had nearly gained the exit to the pavilion, the man on stage called out. “Brother! Why are you leaving? Don’t you wish to cast off the shackles of oppression?”

Filled with righteous indignation, Derek swirled around and found the crowd facing him. “Hatred and violence won’t solve our problem, brother,” he said between clenched teeth, putting particular emphasis on the last word and stepped out of the pavilion and into the night.

Wary after listening to the hate-filled ramblings of the man on stage, Derek was ready to return to his home in Epegard. He made his way through the parking lot, then stopped just a few steamcars short of his battered old NMC Vision. Two men were waiting at the car and they didn’t look particularly friendly.

He recognized immediately that they were there for him, and he quickly ducked behind a nearby Ford Pygmy, but his efforts were in vain, as they had spotted him. He soon found himself surrounded on either side. The shorter of the two, a burly man with a goatee, drew close and grabbed the collar of Derek’s shirt, “Well, well, look what we have here, Vili.” There was a malicious glint in his eyes. “Someone has decided to leave the party early.”

The other man, obviously Vili, came up beside Derek and palmed the top of Derek’s head with his hand, “You think the boss’ll like this one, Jakob?”

Jakob, the shorter man, grinned, “Why yes, Vili. I think he will.”

When Jakob’s hands loosened from around Derek’s collar, he chose then to make a break for it. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain in the back of his head and then there was only darkness.

+ - + - + - +

Death and destruction rained all around him as he watched those under his command die at the hands of the enemy. Firing his assault rifle wildly into the air around him, he hoped that he could at least take another one those bitch fire mages down with him. When a huge fire erupted in front of him, he had just enough time to leap out of the way as it consumed the area he had just vacated.

He fired more rounds and used up the remainder of his ammunition as the fiery onslaught continued. Throwing his rifle to the ground, he drew the combat knife from its sheath at his waist and tossed it deftly at the nearest target. There was a cold sense of satisfaction as the blade struck his target in the throat. She fell to the ground with dull lifeless eyes.

Cold chills ran down his spine as an inhuman howl rang through the clearing. He whirled around just as a huge fireball came careening toward him…

+ - + - + - +

With a start, Nicholas Flint came awake. Like Derek, his day was getting off to a very average start. You see, Flint had the same dream every night. Each night he relived the battle at Tyr’s Dike. The battle was in his past, and he had no desire to relive it. Nevertheless, every night he did just that. The images just as vivid and horrifying as ever.

He alone had survived of his entire platoon. All his men had died at the hands of three fire mages. He once confided in me that a single Spellbinder would have been sufficient to suppress the mages and he had requested the use of one. Command had felt that it was an unnecessary use of resources and had denied his request. The results had been catastrophic for both his men and himself, the only survivor. After the fireball hit him, he was severely wounded and left for dead.

Over a week after the confrontation he woke in an army hospital, nearly healed of all injury. His left knee had been so badly damaged, the army healers had not been able to completely repair the tissue., so he would walk with a severe limp for years to come. Despite the death-toll on his platoon, the mission had proved successful, and the battle had succeeded in taking down the leader of the resistance in their surprise attack.

After Flint was healed he had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, a largely honorary rank, and awarded all sorts of medals and paraded around as a hero in front of the entire nation.

Later, he learned from other soldiers of the horrors they had witnessed in battle. The enemy had not been fighting for power or greed. They had been fighting because their people were starving, and the Spellbinders ruling over them had sat idly by and done nothing.

After everything he had done, the Army turned its back on him. Because of the damage to Flint’s leg he was no longer able to serve and was discharged from the service. He had given up years of life to his country in a cause that he no longer believe in. Bitter, angry and penniless, he wandered from place to place and from job to job, never staying very long and never making friends.

It wasn’t until he met Jonas Talman that he began to believe in something again. In him he had found a new sense of purpose. Talman was a revolutionary who believed that the only way for men to have freedom was to take it by force. After what he had seen, he was quick to agree, and eagerly joined the Sons of Odin.

When he first joined the resistance they had still been a very small group, and Flint quickly became one of Talman’s top lieutenants. As the Sons of Odin grew in number, Talman made alliances with powerful figures in the government and even managed to persuade some of them to join the cause.

It wasn’t until the De Clissons entered the picture that Flint began to have doubts. Jeanne had seemed receptive to helping them, but she had been in a position of power for centuries and he suspected she had ulterior motives for helping the resistance.

It took years to find any evidence of her duplicity, and it very nearly cost Flint his life. He had been working as a low level manager for a business firm owned by a powerful Spellbinder family as a means to gain information for the resistance when he discovered a discrepancy in the firm’s accounting. They had been funneling funds to an offshore bank, to an account that belonged to, you guessed it, Jeanne de Clisson.

When Flint confronted her she would have killed him if it hadn’t been for the interference of a security guard. Yes, that was me. I had blundered into the little meeting and it was then that my magic awakened, and by sheer dumb luck I was able to defeat Jeanne de Clisson.

Flint managed to escape police imprisonment and made his way back to Talman. He confronted his him with the information he had found and was shocked when Talman chose to continue the alliance with House de Clisson.

Before her death, Jeanne had concocted a scheme to place assassins within all the major Spellbinder houses in order to cripple the Seidskati. Olivia, obsessed with revenge, kidnapped me in order to enact her mother’s plans. Again, against all odds, I managed to overcome Olivia.

Controversy arose, House de Clisson fell out of favor among the Seidskati, and the alliance with the Spellbinder’s house fell to pieces.

Sighing warily, and wincing against the pain in his bad knee, Flint walked across the room to his small wardrobe and quickly dressed himself. He threw open the door to his room, pause briefly in the doorway and left in search of Talman with a determined stride in his steps.

+ - + - + - +

“Dammit, Jonas,” Flint spat angrily. “We don’t need Mengele. What good will come from an alliance with that creature?”

Talman smiled reassuringly, “Nick, Mengele promises to grant men the ability to use magic. Isn’t that a worthy cause? Can you image the momentum the resistance would gain if word got out that we had magic users in our midst? How long do you think the Seidskati could continue to deny us an equal footing after that?”

Flint shook his head, “Mengele has been trying to perfect that formula of his for over fifty years. You can’t honestly believe that he’ll succeed.”

Talman smiled again. “Trust me, Nick. Mengele will prove to be a boon to our cause. After he’s succeeded in perfecting the formula, men will flock to us in droves and victory will be assured.”

“I guess I’ll just have to trust in you,” Flint said, restraining himself from voicing any more concerns. He didn’t trust Mengele, but clearly Talman knew more than he did. Maybe Mengele could deliver.

Talman nodded, “I need you to watch over things here for a few days. I have some business to take care of in Fairfield. We’ll talk more when I get back. I’ll be leaving after speaking with Mengele.”

“Very well,” Flint said to his fellow revolutionary letting the matter drop.

+ - + - + - +

“Finally,” a voice said out of the fog as Derek sat up with a loud groan. He found himself within a holding cell, an older man standing over him.

“Easy there,” said the man in a voice that I do not doubt Derek felt reassuring. He had a mane of wild white hair and a long unkempt beard which granted him the appearance of a beggar. “You’re not in any immediate danger.” He smiled down at the younger man and something about the old man made Derek think he could be trusted.

His head was throbbing painfully. As Derek ran his hand through his short-cropped black hair he felt a sharp twinge of pain as his hand passed over the back of his head, “Where am I?” he mumbled warily.

The oldster grinned, “Well, I ain’t too sure about that. I reckon we’re somewhere outside of Epegard.”

“What is this place?” Derek asked.

The oldster frowned and stroked the end of his beard, “Norns if I know! You’d need to ask one of them sumbitch Sons of Odin who locked us up.”

“The Sons of Odin,” Derek breathed warily. “Those two thugs who attacked me after the rally.” Scrambling to his feet he turned to face the oldster. “What do they want with us?”

The old man shrugged, “Who knows? They ain’t said anything. Say, what’s your name?”

“Derek Hines. Yours?”

The old codger gave Derek a toothy grin. “The name is Cletus Montgomery. Most folk just call me Monty. I would say it’s nice to meet you, but these ain’t the most ideal of circumstances are they?”

“No,” Derek agreed.

Derek didn’t particularly feel up to talking. Perhaps Monty sensed this as he soon fell silent. Suddenly feeling very restless, Derek looked about the room, examining his surroundings more closely. The cell had a single barred door and was set within a slightly larger room with a solid steel door leading outside. The only source of light was a single electritorch which didn’t shed nearly as much light as he would have liked. Doubting he would find any means of escape, a deep and pervading hopelessness settled over him. Nevertheless, he tested the cell bars and door, but neither showed any sign of weakness.

Finally giving up, he sank dejectedly to the floor and waited for something, anything, to happen. Hours dragged by and the two prisoners passed time by sharing tales of their pasts. As Derek later related to me, Monty proved to be a far more adept story teller and regaled Derek with tales of his youth spent in North Bannock, and his many travels across the country. He knew how to weave a good story, but Derek doubted that much, if any of his story, was the truth.

After a few hours, a man appeared and gave them each a tray of food. He didn’t say anything and Derek couldn’t get a response out of him, even after issuing a number of insults. He did note the guard waiting outside the door as the man left. Hours crawled by, and as they turned into days, Derek and Monty were joined by three more men, none of whom knew any more than they did.

Finally, something did happen. A man with an odd-looking handgun tucked into his belt appeared from beyond the steel door. He gave them all a slimy smile as he looked them over, “Traitors to the cause, each and every one of you.” His smile shifted into a look of distaste. “That’s why you’ve all been brought here.”

He pulled the handgun from his belt, took aim and pulled the trigger. Something hit Derek right in the shoulder and he had just enough time to recognize the object as a tranquilizer dart before collapsing into a heap and losing consciousness.

+ - + - + - +

“This one shows promise,” said a raspy voice out of the darkness.

Derek resisted the urge to open his eyes and look about. Instead, he kept himself complete immobile, not wishing for his captors to know he was awake. “What about the others, doctor?” asked a booming male voice.

The raspy-voice chortled, “We doubt they will survive the procedure, but even in death they should provide us with useful data.”

“Very well, doctor. Rolph will be outside should you need anything,” the booming voice said. Derek heard footsteps and the sound of a door opening and closing.

A few moments passed then the doctor spoke, “He is gone. You can stop pretending to be asleep.”

He snapped his eyes open and was momentarily blinded by bright light. Once his eyes adjusted to the brightness he was assaulted with the strangest sight he had ever laid his eyes upon. A bizarre amalgamation of man and woman stood before Derek. He looked as if someone had split a man and a woman in half from the head down then joined a half from each into a single person. The male side looked scarred, contorted and twisted out of shape, while the female side was the model of feminine beauty.

The man-woman laughed a wheezing pathetic sort of laugh, and Derek couldn’t escape the feeling that this person wasn’t entirely sane. “You see the results of our experimentation. We are called Doctor Josef Mengele.”

The creature stepped closer to where Derek lay and he noticed than that his female side was shorter than the male side which caused him to walk with a sort of strange hobbling motion. “Good,” Dr. Mengele spoke, smiling blissfully. “Rolph remembered the restraints this time.”

Tilting his head, Derek noted the straps about his wrists. He tried to move his legs, but it seemed they too were strapped to the table atop which he lay. “Exactly what do you intend to do with me?”

The doctor grinned down at Derek with a mad glee, “Fifty years ago we thought we had perfected a formula to grant men the ability to use magic. So anxious were we to see the results of our formula, we tested it on ourselves. We did gain some small use of the magic, but the formula had unforeseen results.” the doctors growled angrily. “We were transformed into this creature you see before you. Neither female nor male, but somehow both.”

Derek gulped nervously and watched as the doctor continued on his mad tirade, “For fifty years we have tried to perfect our formula. Sometime we think we are so close that we can taste it upon the tip of our tongue.”

Derek struggled in his bindings, but to no avail, they were too tight. Chortling madly the doctor picked a syringe up from a nearby table, “Try as you might, you won’t get free.”

He plunged the syringe into Derek’s arm, and once more he drifted into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

A familiar cold hard anger flooded through Flint as he looked over the scene before him. Mengele had gone too far. Flint would not let that creature experiment on innocent civilians. Pulling his P426 from its holster Flint grabbed the doctor by the cuff of his collar. “What do you think you’re doing, Mengele?” Flint growled between clenched teeth.

Mengele threw his head back and started laughing like the madman that Flint new him to be, “We need to test our new formula.”

Trembling with rage, Flint barely managed to keep himself from pulling the trigger, “You’ve got lots of nerve. Talman would never approve of this.”

Mengele smiled, “Talman provided us with the test subjects.”

Throwing Mengele to the floor, Flint aimed his pistol at the Doctor’s head, “Release the captives, now!”

“They have already been injected with the formula,” the doctor shrieked. “We must observe them.”

“Sir,” Rolph interjected. “He’s telling the truth. This has all been done with Talman’s approval.”

Flint re-holstered his gun and turned to Rolph, who had been guarding the room under Talman’s orders, and scowled. “I hope for your sake you’re telling the truth,” he said, then turned his back and swept out of the room without another word to either Mengele or Rolph.

+ - + - + - +

I could feel the earth magic trickle down my arm and into my fist as she stared down at me angrily. Claramae and I didn’t care for one another. She didn’t particularly like taking orders from someone more than one-hundred years her junior. Since Athilda had fallen ill I had gradually taken on more responsibility as her heir. Whatever I tried to do as acting head of House le Fey was met with stark resistance by my cousins. They saw me as a young interloper who had somehow managed to charm Athilda into naming me heir. I really didn’t want any of it, but I didn’t have much choice. I needed every resource I could use if I were to prevent Ragnarok from becoming a reality.

She swung her fist at me, but I was too fast. I quickly brought my hands up and sent a huge gust of wind magic at the older woman, who soared nearly fifteen feet before landing gracelessly on her ass. Few Spellbinders were as powerful or as skilled with wind magic as I was, and I found it an effective means of defending myself.

Calmly I walked over to where my underling now lay in a rather awkward heap and stared down at her. “When I tell you to do something, Clara, you do it. You got it?” I said coldly.

Her lip twitched angrily, “Yes, Revered Lady.”

“Good,” I said calmly. “Get back in place. You will follow Agent Jensen’s orders explicitly. You got that?”

She scowled up at me as she scrambled to her feet, “Yes,” she said between clenched teeth, then ran off to do as I had ordered.

Claramae’s issue in this particular instance had to do with taking order’s from a man. I found him to be a competent professional, but Claramae saw him as just another worthless man. Agent Alf Jensen had been given command of the Task Force Against Domestic Terrorism for purely political reasons. Most domestic terrorists were affiliates with extremist men’s rights groups, and the Central Investigation Bureau felt that to avoid any backlash or accusations of sexual discrimination, it would be best to put a man in charge.

Of course, I had been named a ‘consultant’ for similar reasons. Obviously I was no man, but as the only known Spellbinder to have been born a man it made sense for me to be involved, or at least the bureaucrats of the CIB thought so. My actual involvement was considerably more than a mere consultant, but it looked better on paper to call me one.

Sighing wearily, I walked over to the edge of the overhang and looked down.. About twenty feet below was a well concealed compound which, if my source was correct, was a major base of operations for the Sons of Odin. Hopefully, we’d even find Jonas Talman, their mysterious leader within it.

I stood silently over the cliff, then, once the signal for attack was given I called upon my wind magic and drifted down the face of the cliff toward the compound.

+ - + - + - +

“Wake up,” came the raspy voice of Doctor Mengele. Derek’s eyes fluttered open and found the Doctor standing over him, an anxious look on his ghastly face. “They’re attacking the compound,” he said with barely contained rage. “We are so close, and they attack now!”

The doctor loosened the straps on his wrists and Derek looked at him uncertainly, “What’s going on?”

“Did you not hear us!?” he growled at Derek angrily. “The Seidskati have found us. You’ve been injected with the revised formula. We must escape, or all our work will be for naught.”

Extricating his hands and legs from the straps, Derek hopped off the table and advanced on the doctor, “They’ve coming for you, not me.”

The doctor chortled and spoke with an insane gleam in his eyes, “You think they will take kindly to a man who can use magic? Better if you come with us. We can monitor your progress and assure there aren’t any unforeseen side effects.”

Nodding as if what the doctor said was perfectly reasonable Derek moved as if to follow Mengele. “You’re right,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.”

As the doctor turned to leave, Derek quickly grabbed a tray from a nearby table, swept the instruments off it and slammed it into the back of Mengele’s head, or at least tried too. The doctor ducked just in time to dodge Derek’s attack. Then, with incredible strength Derek did not know the doctor possessed, he forced the tray from his grip. Before Derek could even think to defend himself the doctor raised the tray and once again Derek fell into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

Flint nearly fell to the floor as his bad knee buckled under the pressure. For several moments the building shook and trembled as if it were being torn apart. Instinctively, Nick knew magic was at work, and that could mean only one thing, the Sons of Odin were under attack. Soon the sound of gunfire erupted from outside the compound and his fears were confirmed. Barely able to stand, let alone run, he took off down the hall, passing several men in the hallways and ordered all of them to follow.

Quickly he guided the men to the nearest weapons cache, located in the main meeting hall, where they quickly armed ourselves. Another explosive jolt rocked the compound, and Flint nearly fell to the floor as his knee groaned in protest. Gritting his teeth he waited out the blast. Before he could open his mouth to issue orders, a figure stepped into the hall to face the revolutionary and his men.

+ - + - + - +

“Hold your fire!” Flint bellowed as his men raised their weapons.

Gritting his teeth against the pain Flint limped toward where I stood and came to stand across from me.

“You,” I muttered as my eyes widening in recognition. “You’re Talman?”

Flint smiled, “No. The name’s Nick Flint. I would say it’s a pleasure to see you again, but I hardly think these are pleasurable circumstances.”

I grimaced and shook my head, “I always wondered what became of you.”

“You saved my life. That’s not something I’m likely to forget. If you surrender, I promise no harm will come to you,” he said, likely knowing full well that his men didn’t stand a chance against a powerful Spellbinder like myself.

Smiling ruefully I shook my head, “You know I can’t do that.”

“Had to ask. May your journey to Valhalla be swift and assured.” He turned his back to me and walked back to where his men waited. “Men! Open Fire!” Flint called out.

Bright flashes of light appeared as a barrage of bullets flew my way. I raised my arms and called forth a shield of spirit magic, watching calmly as the bullets bounced harmlessly off the soft blue barrier. Having no desire to kill Nicholas nor his men, I reached deep within myself and wove a web of wind, water and spirit magic and sent it hurtling throughout the room. A swirling green mass appeared above them and quickly consumed Flint and his men. When all was said and done a full dozen men lay on the ground unconscious, with only minor injuries.

At the moment I had bigger fish fry so I left the sleeping forms of the combatants and continued my search for Jonas Talman.

+ - + - + - +

When the last of the opposing forces had been squelched I moved through the ranks of the CIB towards Agent Jensen.

“Any sign of Talman?” I asked as I approached.

He shook his head, “We’re still sorting through this mess, but I have a feeling Talman has managed to slip away again,” he said warily. “We did find something we haven’t run across before. We’ve found evidence to suggest Talman was conducting experiments.”

“What sort of experiments?” I asked.

Jensen hesitated for a second. “It’s better if you see for yourself,” he said. Then led me through the scene and to an area where an ambulance had been parked. He excused the agent guarding it, then swung the door open. Inside was the inert figure of an old man. I hopped into the ambulance and knelt next to the unconscious figure. Placing my hand on his cheek I sent a trickle of spirit magic into his body and watched as he came awake.

“Where am I?” he said in a raspy voice.

“You’re safe now,” I said reassuringly. “What’s your name?”

The old man looked very much the worse for the wear as he struggled to speak, “Cletus Montgomery. The doctor… ”

I moved closer to the old man and began to weave a spell of healing as I reached into the deepest recesses of his body. My magic came up against a barrier. I was so taken aback that I jumped back from the old man, falling down on my ass. Magic! The old man’s body had instinctively summoned a magic barrier against my perceived intrusion.

“Dammit,” I muttered angrily, preparing myself for another attempt. The old man lightly touched my hand. “Doctor Mengele,” he said with a gasp. I tried to silence him but he shook his head stubbornly, “You must…” He gave one final gasp and a moment later he was gone.

+ - + - + - +

“Good, you are awake,” the doctor cackled as Derek’s eyes fluttered open.

Derek tried to move, but found his movements hindered by the shackles that were now around his wrists and ankles. “We are most disappointed in you,” the doctor said frowning down at Derek. “We trusted you, and you attacked us.”

Derek remained silent, staring defiantly up at the doctor as he continued to speak, “You have started to awaken.”

“Awaken how?” Derek demanded.

The doctor cackled. “You will see,” he said then turned away and left Derek alone in the darkness.

Feelings of despair and hopelessness overtook him. Although the circumstances were much different I’ve been in a situation similar to Derek’s, and it’s not a pleasant experience, let me tell you. As Derek sat there alone he had plenty of time to think and memories of his past came flooding into his mind unbidden…

+ - + - + - +

Red fluid seeped through young Derek’s clenched fingers as he tried in vain to keep the blood from pouring out of his father’s chest. He had watched helplessly as the three armed men had walked into the small meat market and demanded all of the store’s cash from his father.

“Derek, run!” his father called out as the bullets had started to fly. Derek dove to the floor.

The robbers ignored him completely as they tore the money-cabinet open with a crowbar and quickly made their escape with all of his father’s hard-earned money.

Fearful that the thieves might return and decide to kill him, Derek crawled across the blood soaked floor and came to rest beside his father. Zeik Hines’ chest rose and fell, and for a few fleeting moments Derek felt hope rise that his father would survive. Unfortunately, as his father’s breathing grew steadily weaker and blood continued to flow from his body, Derek’s worst fears were realized as his father took one final breath and passed into the next life.

+ - + - + - +

“I need you,” I said, sitting down and slapping Nicholas’ folder onto the table in front of me.

Nicholas smirked, “I don’t really think this is right place for that, darlin’.”

I grimaced, I had walked right into that one. I flipped open the folder and began to read from it, “Colonel Nicholas Flint of the One Hundred and Second Infantry, twice decorated. I need someone with your unique skill set. Are you interested?”

Nicholas glanced at the concealment shroud on the other side of the room and gave me an appraising look, “In case you haven’t worked it for yourself, I’m likely to go to prison for a long time.”

I smiled, “There are ways around that.”

Nicholas glanced back at the shroud. “You can speak freely,” I told him. “They can’t hear us.”

Nicholas looked me over suspiciously, “You’re the one responsible for getting me locked up. Why would I want to help you?”

I sighed, “I saved your life, remember? This is much bigger than either of us. If you knew what I know, you’d realize that there is much more at stake than men’s rights.”

He gave me an amused look, “Oh yeah? Like what?”

I wasn’t getting through to him. Clearly he was not going to buy what I had to sell. I’d just have to change that. Reaching across the table I gripped either side of his face, “Hey wha-” he started to say, but suddenly stopped mid-sentence as his eyes clouded over and he fell into a trance.

A few moments later his hands came up and broke my grip on my face, “Odin’s bones!” he said his eyes wide. “It can’t be true.”

I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “What I have shown you is the truth. It’s up to you whether you chose to accept my offer. Freedom, in exchange for your assistance.”

I stood up and was about to leave when Nicholas called after me. “Wait! Assistance with what?” he asked.

I grinned wickedly, “I think you already know the answer to that. Should you choose to accept, tell your interrogator that you will only speak with me,” I reached for the door and left Nicholas sitting in stunned disbelief.

+ - + - + - +

Derek stared down at his finger tips, aghast at the change that had been wrought upon them. A few moments ago his right hand had burst into sudden and excruciating pain. His finger tips felt as if they had been run through a meat grinder. In the dim light he brought his hand up to his face so that he could get a better look at it and watched in morbid horror as the tips of his fingers shrank, changing from their usual chocolate brown to a much lighter tan color. Slowly the changes crept up his fingers, stopping just short of his knuckles.

He was changing, that much was obvious, but into what? His fingers were now longer, resembling fingers that might belong to a woman. Chilled by the thought, Derek worried that he might end up resembling the doctor. Perhaps he would not be stuck between forms as the doctor had. Perhaps he would change into a complete woman, but that held little more appeal to him than being stuck like the doctor.

Derek’s thoughts were interrupted as a loud clang sounded in the near distance. He heard the distinct sound of the doctor’s characteristic shuffling walk. “How is our specimen?” Mengele asked with what seemed to be genuine interest as he drew closer.

“I’d be much better if you set me free,” Derek replied testily.

The doctor chortled, “We cannot do that! We are granting you a great gift. Think of it! You shall have the power to use magic.”

Derek grimaced, “Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want to end up like you. Just look at what your formula has done to me!” He raised his hand so that the doctor could see his transformed fingers.

The doctor took one look and started to shriek, “The formula shouldn’t be doing this! Our revisions should have seen to that! We’ve failed!”

“Perhaps not all is lost,” a new voice said out of the darkness. “If the subject completes the transformation you could use the revised formula to complete your own transformation, my love.”

A weird sort of wistfulness seemed to pass across the doctor’s face, “Of course,” the doctor grinned. “Then we can be together again.”

The doctor’s reply was met only with silence, “Our lady is very wise,” he said happily. He pulled a needle from his coat and jabbed it into his prisoner’s arm and once more Derek drifted into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

Flint was back in his cell and drifting off to sleep when a voice spoke out of nowhere, “Well,” a woman’s voice purred. “What have we here?”

Flint’s eyes shot open and he looked over to find a leggy brunette standing on the opposite side of the cell. As she did with me, the Goddess seemed to have a calming effect on the revolutionary. “Do you truly believe calling yourself a son of Odin sets you apart from other men?” she continued, her arms crossed over her chest. “And here I thought that all men were sons of my dear departed husband.”

Flint couldn’t believe his ears. Had she just claimed that she was the wife of Odin? But that would mean … “By Odin’s Bones!” Flint fell to his knees.

Rolling her eyes, Frigg’s voice seemed to grow very cold, “You’re almost as bad as Aryanna. Get up and stop invoking the name of my dead husband.”

Slowly, Flint stood and regarded the Asynja warily. “What would you have of me?”

The goddess threw her head back with a laugh. “Now that’s more like it! You were approached by my dear servant, Aryanna. It would please me to no end if you were to join her in our cause.”

Flint stared at Frigg suspiciously, “To stop Ragnarok?” He folded his arms across his chest and glared at her stubbornly. “Isn’t the world supposed to be transformed into a paradise after everything is said and done? Why would I want to stop that? What’s in it for me?”

The Goddess Frigg’s eyes glinted with amusement, “My, you are a bold one! Very well, mortal, I’ll make a bargain with you. Should you agree to help, and you are successful in halting Ragnarok, I will see to it that the playing field between the sexes is leveled.”

“You’ll give us the ability to use magic?” he asked growing more suspicious of the Goddess Frigg.

Frigg shook her head and smiled with a hint of mischievousness in her eyes, “Impossible, unless you would like a nice set of breasts on your chest and a pair of lips between those legs. No, there are other means by which men can gain power.”

Flint wanted desperately to believe the goddess, but the deal sounded too good to be true. Frigg could have granted men whatever power she was offering centuries ago. Why was she offering now? Why hadn’t she done something sooner?

Frigg glanced at Flint and threw her head back and started laughing again. “You need more time to decide.” She came over and placed her hand on his cheek. Her hand slithered down his body and stopped at his bad knee. “A gift, as a sign of good faith.”

A pleasantly warm sensation passed through his knee, then shot throughout the rest of his body. The pain that had been a constant part of his life for over six years was gone. “My knee!” he muttered in disbelief. “You’ve healed it!”

She nodded, “Until the coming of the great battle with the Jotun, you will not age.” Without any warning whatsoever, Frigg vanished as if she had never even been there. As soon as she disappeared Flint called to the guard and asked that he be allowed to speak with me.

+ - + - + - +

Nicholas Flint looked up as I stepped through the door. “I knew you’d come around,” I said with a smile as I sat down across from him.

He shook his head, “Are you free to speak?”

I nodded, “Of course.”

Nicholas hesitated for a moment then spoke, “Ragnarok. I can hardly believe it might actually be coming. What exactly can we do about it?”

I sighed and looked him in the eyes, “We can fight. I have reason to believe that Ragnarok can be halted.”

“It appears we have a mutual acquaintance,” he said. A look of determination passed across his face then faded almost as quickly.

A smiled touched the corner of my lips, “Oh yeah? Who would that be?”

Nicholas hesitated again. “Frigg,” he muttered in a whispered tone.

I was a bit surprised that the Frigg would have bothered talking to the revolutionist. She hadn’t contacted me since our first encounter, and I was beginning to wonder if the steps I was taking to halt Ragnarok were enough. Since becoming a full Spellbinder I had done everything I could think of, but I had been assailed with doubts from the very first day. Perhaps this was a sign that I was headed in the right direction.

“I’m assuming she managed to convince you of the importance of the cause?” I said, concealing my surprise as best I could.

Nicholas shook his head. “I’m not sold, but I’m willing to listen.”

That wasn’t completely unexpected “First, I need some information. Tell me about Mengele.”

Nicholas scowled. “I never liked having that freak around. I tried to convince Talman that we didn’t need the doctor, but Talman insisted.”

“You call Mengele a freak. Is that because of the experiments?” I asked.

Nicholas shook his head and sighed, “Fifty years ago, Mengele developed a formula that he thought would give men the ability to use magic. He tested it on himself. The results aren’t pretty. He’s half-male and half-female.”

“Like some sort of hermaphrodite?” I asked.

He shook his head, “No, one side of his body is male, though it’s twisted and deformed, while the other side looks like a beautiful woman.

I bit my lip, “That explains a few things. Do know where I can find him?”

Flint shook his head and I sighed warily, “What about Talman, where can I find him?”

Nicholas sighed, “I wouldn’t tell you even if I knew.”

“There will be someone in to interrogate you shortly,” I said standing to leave. “I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you what will happen should you refuse to answer them.”

“Wait!” He called after me, “Where are you going?”

I gave him a knowing look, “To find Mengele, of course.”

+ - + - + - +

“Lady,” the white-clad Elf said with a slight tilt of his head, “I am called Heime.”

Good goddesses! Heime was gorgeous. I couldn’t keep my eyes of him. I tried to not let it show as I spoke, “We have met before, haven’t we?”

Heime smiled, “Indeed, ’twas I who did vanquish the Dokklfur that had come upon thee six years ago. It was most unfortunate that our first meeting was so fleeting. Thou art truly beautiful, and I find myself unable to take mine eyes away from thy countenance.”

I found myself blushing at the Lejolfar’s words. It seemed odd that I would suddenly find myself attracted to a man when I had never had such feelings before. Then I thought back to my meeting with the Elf Queen and remembered I壇 had to restrain myself from tearing her clothes off. Maybe it wasn’t me, maybe it was him. I shrugged off my strange attraction and attempted to excuse myself. “It really was a pleasure to see you again, but I really must be going.”

“I am afraid, my Lady, that it is most urgent we speak,” the Elf said apologetically. “My mother, the Queen, has sent me in regards to thy debt.”

I sighed, “It really isn’t a very good time. Can we speak later?”

The Elf shook his head and smiled sadly, “It is most urgent that the debt be fulfilled now.”

I sighed, remembering the importance Frigg had placed on fulfilling the debt, “Very well, exactly what do I need to do?”

The Elf smiled apologetically as he detailed just exactly what his mother wished me to do. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was not at all what I would have ever expected.

“Very well.” with a nervous lump in my throat I took the Elf’s hand and summoned forth a travel spell.

+ - + - + - +

Derek gasped in pure agony as the pain crept up his arm and produced further changes. This time the pain lasted for well over an hour, and by the time it had ceased his entire right arm and part of his shoulder had undergone changes. His new arm was extremely stiff and sore and it was damn well impossible to get it to move.

As I mentioned earlier, the room was poorly lit, and Derek had a difficult time seeing the full details of his changes, but he saw enough to dread any future changes. His arm was far shorter and had lost all the muscle mass he had worked so hard to build. The skin color, as he had noted earlier, was a creamy chocolate-tan color, much more reminiscent of his mother’s skin tone than his own. His mother was half-Japanese, and had always favored her Japanese ancestry over the African side of her family. He had always favored his African ancestry, showing almost no sign of having any Asian heritage, but apparently the formula was changing that.

Due to the shackles on his wrists, he couldn’t take his shirt off, but from what he could tell, his shoulder looked oddly disproportionate under his shirt.

Derek half-expect the doctor to reappear to examine this new set of changes, but the doctor did not show. At one point a shadowy figure that might have been the doctor appeared to slide a tray of food in front of Derek, but he never knew for sure. Derek’s right arm was next to useless, so he was forced to eat using his left arm.

Derek wasn’t entirely sure how long he sat there in the darkness, but he soon drifted off to sleep, once again finding himself reliving his past.

+ - + - + - +

Derek was nineteen now, and the memory of his father’s death still hung over him like a storm cloud. At first he had wanted revenge for his loss, but as time drew on he had come to see that the men that had killed his father as being a small part of a much bigger problem. The Spellbinders controlled everything. Men had little chance of succeeding in a world ruled under their tyrannical fists. Desperate men performed desperate acts.

For these reason, Derek had come to join in the protests at the nation’s Capitol. He had spent nearly all of his savings just to get there and he soon found himself surrounded by like-minded men. He shivered in the cold and held up his sign in protest with the rest. The protesters and the police had remained at a peaceful standoff. That all changed with the arrival of the Men’s Liberation Front, a masculinist group that had been gaining nationwide attention for it’s radical views on men’s rights.

Members of the men’s group began taunting the police, but for a short while it didn’t look as if anything would come of it. Then one of the revolutionists pulled out a gun and all Jotun broke loose. The man was quickly gunned down by the police and the once peaceful protests turned suddenly violent. Derek made a break for it and managed to evade being arrested.

The rioting that broke out lasted for days afterward, and only ended after martial law was declared and the military became directly involved. As a result of the riots, the Men’s Liberation Front suffered intense scrutiny from the government and was eventually disbanded after several government raids that put a stop to the majority of their activity.

+ - + - + - +

The Dvergir stumbled about drunkenly down the street and I had no problem following him. It was several blocks before he came to a halt and I chose then to make my presence known. “Brokk,” I said out of the shadows.

Brokk stumbled to his knees. “Who there?” he asked with a pronounced slur.

I stepped into sight and smiled down at the diminutive creature, who resembled a very short human. His nose gave him away. It was much too large for his face and resembled a turnip. “You!” he grunted and drew a small battleaxe from his belt.

I summoned a bit of wind magic and sent the blade tumbling out of his hands. “Now, now, Brokk,” I said with a cheerful smile, “Let’s play nice.”

Brokk let out a loud belch and scowled up at me. “Lass,” he growled. “Leave me be. I’m in no mood fer yer questions, now.”

I sent earth magic down my arm and used the extra strength my magic granted me to force the Dwarf off his feet and up against the wall of the nearby building. “I have no time for this, Brokk. I need answers now. I need to know where I can find someone by the name of Doctor Mengele.”

The dwarf laughed, “You gonna have to make it worth me while I thinks.”

Sighing wearily I released the dwarf and let his feet sink back down to the ground. “What exactly will it cost me this time?” I asked.

The dwarf smiled, “Word ‘mong my cousins is Ragnarok’s a-comin’,” he grunted, “and that Frigg’s gone and chosen you to keep it from happenin’.”

I didn’t know how the dwarf had learned this, but it didn’t particularly surprise me. The dwarves were renowned for their information gathering skills. “I figure you be needin’ to raise yerself an army.”

This could actually work to my advantage. “You want to make me weapons, Brokk? Assuming I needed those weapons, exactly how much would that cost me?”

The dwarf stroked his chin, “Aye, I wants to make you weapons. As fer the price, yer ancestor owns a piece of property that the Conclave would be mighty interested in having. If we were to receive said property we might be inclined to make you them weapons.”

I had no idea what property of the Dvergar Conclave would be interested in, but the only reason the dwarves would want any property would be to mine it. “Uh-huh…” I folded my arms across my chest. “Where exactly is this property?”

The dwarf belched again, “Alfheim.”

“Alfheim?” I asked. “Athilda owns land in the home of the Light Elves? That’s crazy. How in Hel could she own property there of all places?”

The dwarf shrugged, “Give us the land and I will tell you what you want ter know.”

“You know I will have to speak with Athilda about this, don’t you?”

The dwarf laughed again, “I figer’d that’d be the case.”

Sighing warily I shook my head. “I’ll be back,” I said, then called forth a travel spell and vanished with a great torrent of wind.

+ - + - + - +

Derek snorted loudly and came awake as his shoulder suddenly erupted with pain. The pain spread across his chest and up his neck, and he started screaming as the pain became too much to bear. He couldn’t see the changes, but could track their progress as he felt the pain move across his body.

That’s when the doctor chose to reappear and Derek screamed in agony as a particularly sharp stab of pain shot through his nipple. Mengele came over to Derek as he lay on the ground convulsing in agony. “Painful, isn’t it?” He sounded almost sympathetic.

The pain was so overwhelming that Derek couldn’t have answered had he wanted too. “Let us see.” Mengele said and tore open Derek’s shirt.

Much to his horror Derek saw the changes that had started to come over his right nipple. It had become severely swollen and a small mound was slowly growing into something that was quickly coming to resemble a breast. That wasn’t the only change taking place, a trail of mismatched skin was crawling up his chest toward his neck, and another down toward his waist.

The doctor smiled down at the younger man, produced a syringe from his jacket and chortled, “We need blood.” Once he had gotten it he disappeared, while Derek continued to writhe in agony and watch in horror at the changes which were coming over his body.

+ - + - + - +

“How is she today?” I asked my mother as I approached. After Penelope’s death, Athilda had hired my mother as her assistant. Now that I was acting head of House le Fey, Mom was technically now my assistant, but the majority of her time was spent nursing our ailing ancestor.

Mom smiled sadly, “It’s been one of Athilda’s better days, but it’s been a tough week for her. “What about you?” she asked in a worried tone. “You’ve been working too hard. You need to get some rest. I’m sure the Goddess will understand if you take a day off.”

I shook my head, “I can’t afford to take a day off.”

“Marion’s been asking about you. She wants to see you,” Mom said with a bit of smile.

My mother knew just what to say. She knew I wouldn’t say no to spending time with Marion. “Okay, I’ll try to find some time for her, but I need to speak with Athilda,” I said, changing the subject. “Where can I find her?”

Mom smiled, “Where else? The gardens.”

I kissed my mother on the forehead. “Of course, I should have guessed. Even at this hour she can’t keep away. We’ll talk later.”

I left my mother and walked through the house and out a door that led to the gardens. I found my ancestor almost immediately, knelt down on her knees trimming away at a small shrub.

“Aryanna,” she said without even looking my way. “Has your mother sent you in her place to chastise me?”

“No,” I said folding my arms across my chest. “But you really should be in bed. It’s nearly one in the morning. The rest would do you good.”

Athilda threw her head back and laughed, “I am dying, child. Rest will do me little good.”

Athilda and I had had this argument before and I chose not to press the matter further. “I need your permission to sell a piece of land.”

Athilda turned to look me in the eyes, “You are the Head of our house, child. You have no need to ask anything of me.”

“Acting Head,” I reminded her. “And this isn’t any piece of land. Brokk says it’s in Alfheim.”

Athilda scowled up at me, “I should have known. You’ve been consorting with that Dwarf again.”

I shook my head, “Brokk has information I need, and he’s agreed to make me weapons should I give him the land.”

“That land was a gift from the Lejoá¡lfar Queen. She would not be happy if you gave it to the Conclave.” Athilda said.

I shook my head, “I don’t really care if the Queen is happy or not,” I said with far more anger than I intended.

Athilda gave me an appraising look, “Your debt to the Elf Queen,” she whispered. “When did she-”

I cut her off, “Yesterday, and I’d rather not talk about it.”

Athilda gave me a sympathetic look. “Give the dwarf what he wants.”

I smiled, “Thank you, Athilda. Please get some rest,” I said as I turned to leave, then turned back.

“Lilith would have been proud of you,” Athilda said suddenly, and I stopped in my tracks.

I turned back to look at my ancestor. “You never talk about Lilith,” I whispered quietly.

Athilda nodded, “I’ve been a fool. She thought the Seidskati were too old and set in their ways. She felt the Council should have been disbanded. It’s taken me almost five centuries, but I’ve come to believe she was right.”

I opened my mouth to speak, but Athilda continued. “She was such a contentious child. She and I, we were always arguing. One day, I’d had enough, I told her to leave and never come back. We never spoke again.”

I stared at my ancestor, aghast. She had never told me what had happened between her and my great-grandmother. “Athilda,” I whispered quietly. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because you deserve to know.”

I nodded, “Thanks.”

Athilda sighed, “Trust no one. There remains at least one traitor within the Seidskati.”

I nodded, “Elizabeth.”

Athilda shook her head, “I know your dislike for Elizabeth is strong, child, but that is little reason to believe she is a traitor.”

I shook my head, “Who else could it be?”

Athilda turned to look me in the eyes, “Many within the council might have had the opportunity.”

I shook my head, “Whatever the case, I have some ideas on how I might get the traitor to reveal herself.”

“Very well. Go then, child,” she said with a bit of her usual irritation showing through. I nodded, summoned some magic, and disappeared with a great gust of wind.

+ - + - + - +

Flint hated confined spaces and all this time spent cooped up in the cell was starting to get to him. He had stubbornly refused to tell his interrogators anything. It didn’t feel right betraying Talman after everything he had done for him. Still, he couldn’t escape the feeling of unease that had come over him since learning of Aryanna’s belief that Ragnarok was coming. If what she had shown him was true, maybe the revolution wasn’t as important as he had believed.

But could he betray Talman? Despite his doubts, the man had been like a brother to him. He didn’t feel right just casting that friendship aside like an old rag, nor could he ignore Aryanna’s convictions concerning Ragnarok. Shaking his head in frustration, Derek began to pace back in forth across his cell, trying to figure out what he would do.

Hours later he still hadn’t come to a decision, but was distracted when for a brief moment he thought he heard a clinking sound. He immediately dismissed it, thinking perhaps he had imagined the sound. Soon enough, he heard it again and he knew immediately that the sound was not a figment of his tired mind. It seemed to be coming from below. What could it possibly be? Flint was in the basement of the CIB facility which had a solid concrete floor. It seemed unlikely that there would be any sound coming from below. He briefly considered calling out to the guard, but immediately dismissed the idea. His instincts told him that that would be a bad idea.

The clinking continued for over an hour and gradually grew louder until a small hole appeared in the floor. Flint caught a glimpse of something metallic working itself around the hole. The cavity widened considerably, the clinking ceased and a small head poked out from the hole.

Flint recognized the creature almost immediately. His grandfather had told him all about them in his youth, but they were so rare in Nyrland that he had never thought he’d ever lay eyes on one. The creature stared at the revolutionary for a moment, then opened its mouth, “You Flint?”

He nodded, “You’re a Kobold.”

The Kobold grunted, scowling up at Flint. “You think?” it asked sarcastically. “I never would have guessed. You want outta here or not?”

He nodded. The Kobold threw a pickaxe at Nick from inside its hole. “If you want out you’re gonna help me make a hole big enough to fit your huge ass.”

The Kobold was obviously irritated, and Flint didn’t want to aggravate it further, as they were said to be incredibly dangerous when angry, despite their short stature. “Won’t the guards be able to hear us?” he asked picking up the pickaxe.

The Kobold shook its head irritably, “Humans! The guards hear what I want them to hear. Shut up and start digging, or I might just decide to leave you here.”

Nick quickly did as the Kobold suggested and began working his way to freedom.

+ - + - + - +

It took me a while to find Brokk again, but when I finally did, it was not surprisingly, in a bar that catered exclusively to Dvergar. The pair of burly Dwarves at the door didn’t seem to want to let me in, but after I unleashed a torrent of water on the duo they gracefully allowed me inside. I strode into the establishment, ignoring the angry glances cast my way and sat down at a table across from Brokk.

“You again,” the Dwarf chugged down a large glass of amber lager. “You come to a decision?”

I nodded, “The property is yours, assuming you provide me with my weapons and the information I’m seeking.”

Brokk laughed. “Who you think you talkin’ to? The good doctor can be found in Epegard not far from the compound you and them CIB raided. Rumor has it he’s skulking ’bout an old apple distillery.”

I nodded, “You know, if this information proves false the deal is off.”

The dwarf grunted. “Course. I ain’t stupid.”

“It was a pleasure doing business,” I said then walked out of the bar and disappeared into the night.

+ - + - + - +

“This is the last time I ever do a goddess a favor,” the Kobold grumbled as Flint slipped into the hole. He found himself in a tunnel that ran as ran as the eye see in either direction. Flint had to crane his neck a bit as the tunnel wasn’t quite tall enough for him to stand at full-height.

The revolutionary looked down at the tiny Vattir in surprise, “Frigg sent you?”

“Yeah, and it’s been a huge pain in the ass so far.” the Kobold responded. “You humans are always getting yourselves into trouble. Why I should get you out of your own mess is beyond me.”

“Thanks for the help,” Flint said. “You have a name?”

The Kobold glanced at the man then grimaced, “Crystal.”

“You’re female?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes? Is that a problem?” she asked.

Nick shook his head, “No, of course not.”

“Come on then,” she said motioning the revolutionary forward. “I haven’t got all day.”

+ - + - + - +

Two swirling whirlwinds appeared suddenly out from the darkness, fading away just as quickly. From within the swirling masses, Agnes Bernauer and Elizabeth Bathory emerged. “Lizzy” was the first to approach, and as usual she wore a look of contempt and loathing on her face. Agnes on the other hand, seemed genuinely pleased to see me.

“What is so important that it couldn’t wait until morning?” Elizabeth growled angrily.

“I’ve tracked a scientist by the name of Dr. Mengele to these premises. The doctor has created a formula that purportedly will grant men the ability to use magic.” I said grimacing up at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth looked me over suspiciously, “I would think you all of people would find that idea appealing.”

I shook my head, “Mengele’s experimentation has lead to the death of at least four men. I will not let anymore innocents die at the hands of that madman.”

Agnes smiled. “I agree. Well done, Aryanna. I knew you showed potential.”

“Thanks.” I said smiling back at her. “What do you think? Should we try the direct approach or something a bit more subtle?”

Elizabeth scowled, “Direct. The sooner we get this over with the better.”

Agnes nodded, “Direct.”

As one, we stood and marched on the abandoned apple distillery. I calmed my senses and let my magic flood through my entire body. When I got close enough to the doors, I sent a huge gust of wind at them. They buckled inward and collapsed to the ground with a loud clang.

We met no resistance as we made our way through the old distillery in search of Mengele. We went from room to room and had nearly searched the entire building when we came upon a big steel door. Before I could summon my magic, Elizabeth blasted the door open with a fiery torrent and the three of us walked through the now open doorway.

Inside was an inert figure the like of which I had never seen. One half of the person’s body was the figure of a man of African descent and the other was that of a beautiful woman who appeared to be of mixed African and Asian descent. I moved across the room and knelt next to the unconscious figure who was chained against the wall. I placed my hand on his female cheek and sent a trickle of spirit magic into the poor soul’s body and watched as he came awake.

Derek would later claim that he thought he was looking on the face of a Valkyrie as he woke to find me staring down at him. “Am I dead?” he asked softly.

In spite of his appearance I couldn’t help but smile. “No,” I said sympathetically, “you’re in an abandoned apple distillery in Epegard.”

“Are you a Valkyrie?” he asked with something akin to adoration in his voice.

Again I smiled. “No, my name is Aryanna le Fey.” I didn’t know why, but I felt a small bit of pleasure at being compared to such a heavenly being. “The woman on my right is Elizabeth Bathory,” I continued, motioning toward a stern-faced Elizabeth. “And this is Agnes Bernauer on my left,” I added motioning toward my other companion.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Derek,” He croaked out.

“Nice to meet you Derek. I’m looking for someone named Dr. Mengele. Do you know where I can find him?”

Derek shook his head, “I don’t know where he is. He’ll probably be back soon. He hasn’t taken any blood in a while.”

I restrained a grimace as I reached over to the shackle on his right wrist. There was a brief flash of light as I summoned some earth and fire magic, then the shackle dissolved into amorphous goo. I did the same for the shackle on his left wrist, then the ones about his ankles. I offered Derek my hand and helped him stand.

Derek stumbled and nearly collapsed again, but I summoned a bit of magic to grant me strength and helped him to remain erect. I caught a glimpse of something sliding out of Derek’s pant leg and he bent down to pick it up, nearly falling as he struggled to pick up the object. I caught site of it and felt bile rise in my throat as I realized what Derek was holding in his hands.

“Frigg and Hel,” he muttered, then dropped his testicles from his hands and bent over to loose the contents of his stomach at my feet. I almost did the same, but managed to keep myself from vomiting, if only just barely.

There was a sudden and familiar chill in the room as a swirling whirlwind appeared and dissipated. “My Lady,” spoke a raspy voice. “Who have you brought to see us?”

Agnes Bernauer reacted almost instantly, sending a huge blast of white fire at Elizabeth Bathory. The older Spellbinder crumbled to the floor. Agnes rounded on me, sending a great blast of lightning at me. Fortunately, I managed to raise a Spirit Shield in time, as lightning crackled harmlessly around my soft blue barrier.

I was shocked by Agnes sudden attack. I never would have suspected that Agnes had been the traitor. Elizabeth had seemed the most likely candidate, and I had fully expected her to attack me when Mengele appeared.

Agnes grimaced and her face changed. I watched in amazement as the Agnes’ hair shifted and contorted, becoming longer, and changing color from gray to pure white. As her skin became completely black and her nose flattened against her face, her head became rounder and her teeth began to protrude from her mouth, becoming razor sharp. “How did you know?” The Dark Elf Sorceress that had been Agnes Bernauer shrieked at me.

I grunted against her continued onslaught, “I didn’t, but I’ve suspected for a long time that the de Clissons were working with someone else within the Seidskati. I always thought it was Elizabeth who was the traitor. I never would have guessed that a Dark Elf had been masquerading as Agnes.”

The creature shrieked and unleashed more lightning against me. It was almost too much for me to bear, and I fell to my knees against the strain of this new onslaught. The Dark Elf laughed and it took all the power I could muster just to keep my shield up.

+ - + - + - +

“Where exactly are we going?” Flint asked Crystal.

The Kobold grunted in annoyance, but otherwise ignored the revolutionary’s question. He was just about to demand an answer from the diminutive Vattir when she stopped suddenly, pronouncing, “We’re here.”

“We’re where?” Flint asked in obvious befuddlement.

The Kobold looked up and he followed her gaze. Directly above him was a small hole just barely large enough for him to fit through. “Well, don’t just stand there,” Crystal said irritably. “Start climbing.”

Because the ceiling of the tunnel was so low Flint was able to reach up into the hole and pull himself up the other side. Once through he gazed uncertainly back down through the cavity. “Coming?” he asked the Kobold.

She shook her head, “I did what the Goddess wanted. The rest is up to you. You might find this helpful,” she said, tossing up a small bundle wrapped in a cloth to him.

Flint unwrapped the cloth from the bundle and found a small .22 caliber pistol wrapped inside. “Thanks, but what would I possibly need this for?” the revolutionary called down the hole, but received no answer from the Kobold. He examined his surroundings and recognized them almost immediately. He wasn’t sure why the Goddess would bring him here of all places, but he had a feeling that something important was about to go down. Taking one last look around, Flint raised the small pistol and made his way to the nearest doorway.

+ - + - + - +

“Norns preserve!” I yelled against the Dokká¡lfur’s onslaught. Goddesses, she was powerful! All my power was being used to hold my shield, and soon even that wouldn’t be enough.

Just when I thought the Dark Elf would finally break through my defenses, the onslaught of lightning suddenly stopped. Ready to take advantage of the sudden reprieve I drew on my magic and sent a blast of wind and fire at the now defenseless Dokká¡lfur. I quickly realized, however, that my attack had been completely unnecessary. The Dark Elf had slumped to the floor with a bullet in her head.

I whirled around and found Nick Flint standing behind me holding a smoking gun in his hand. “How in the world did you get here?” I asked as I stood on shaky knees.

Nicholas flashed me a cocky grin, “A little Kobold showed me the way.”

I wasn’t entire sure what he meant by that remark, but I shook my head and walked over to where Elizabeth lay and knelt down beside her. I summoned my magic and felt for signs of life. When I found she was alive, I touched her cheek and let a small trickle of magic escape my fingers. With a start, the elderly Spellbinder came awake. “Agnes,” she muttered.

“That wasn’t Agnes,” I muttered. “It was a Dokká¡lfur Sorceress.”

Elizabeth sat up suddenly and gave me a bewildered look, “Why on earth would a Dark Elf want to take Agnes’ place?”

I looked about the room at Derek, who lay in an exhausted heap on the floor. “Perhaps we should discuss this at a later time.”

Elizabeth nodded, “I owe you my life.”

I shook my head, “Actually, I had very little to do with it. Nicholas arrived just in time to save both our lives.”

Elizabeth glanced back at Nicholas and nodded, “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Nicholas said, looking a bit uncomfortable under the ancient Spellbinder’s gaze.

Elizabeth turned back to look at me, “I’ll clean things up here. I think it best if the CIB were not made aware of your involvement.”

I nodded in agreement then cast my gaze around, remembering Mengele. He was nowhere to be seen. “Dammit,” I muttered. “The doctor has escaped.”

+ - + - + - +

Flint and I locked eyes, and I suppressed a shudder as I briefly caught a glimpse of the horrors he had witnessed. “What have you decided?” I asked, showing no sign that what I had seen disturbed me.

We were standing inside what had formerly been Athilda’s office, but now served as what I had come to call the ‘Ragnarok Room.’ Maps, books and various diagrams, all pertaining to Ragnarok, were strewn all about the place. Flint’s cold eyes seemed to soften a bit and he looked suddenly very tired. “I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I believe you. I truly do.”

I walked across the room and produced a bottle of Akvavit from within a cupboard. “Care for a drink?”

Nick nodded, “Please.”

I poured us each a glass and handed one to Flint. The revolutionary downed it almost immediately. “Haven’t had a good drink in days,” he muttered, giving me an appreciative look.

I smiled and downed my own glass. “I know how you feel,” I said, frowning into the empty glass. “As much as I hate being acting head of House le Fey, the position does have it’s advantages.”

Flint pursed his lips, “Like the occasional glass of a fine spirit?”

I nodded, “Yes. Of course. But we aren’t here to talk about Spirits, are we?”

“No,” Flint said putting his glass down on my desk. “I suppose not. You’re probably wondering why I haven’t given you an answer. I’ve been muddling it over in my head and no matter how I look at it, I keep coming to the same conclusion.”

I smiled, “What would that be?”

Nick sighed, “As hard as it is for me to admit, I think I was taken in by Talman. I believe he knows that Ragnarok is coming, and has chosen what he believes to be the winning side.”

I shook my head, “You think he is knowingly serving the Jotun?”

Flint nodded. “From what you’ve told me, the de Clissons were willfully serving the Jotun, as was that Dark Elf I killed. I think it unlikely that Talman would unknowingly ally himself with two different servants of the Jotun without becoming suspicious. He’s too smart for that.”

“Knowingly or unknowingly he is aiding the enemy,” I said with a sad smile.

Flint grimaced miserably, “The Jotun will see the world destroyed should the Goddesses lose the final battle. Jonas must have some reason to believe the Jotun will spare him if he has allied himself with the giants, and I’ve helped him, blithely unaware of his duplicity.” He picked up the empty glass and staring longingly into it. “That’s why you’ll need me. I know Talman, I know how he thinks and I know what his next move will be.”

“So I take you’ve made your decision,” I said a triumphant smile creeping onto my face.

Flint nodded, “I guess I have.”

“I think that’s reason enough for another drink,” I said pouring us each another shot of Akvavit.

+ - + - + - +

Derek woke in what was to him a foreign place. He was laying atop a bed in a guest room within Athilda’s estates. “Where am I?” he muttered under his breath as he looked about the lavish room. The last thing he could remember was the battle with the Dark Elf.

“You’re awake!” said a high-pitched voice excitedly. The voice belonged to a girl who looked to be in her early teen years.

“Who are you?” Derek asked taken aback, surprised by the girl’s sudden appearance.

The girl smiled and held out her hand, “I’m Marion Valemont. I guess you could say I’m Aryanna’s adopted sister.”

Derek took the girl’s hand and smiled, “Derek Hines. I guess that means I’m in the Le Fey estates.”

The girl nodded enthusiastically. “Aryanna and Mom had some really important stuff to talk about with that ornery Bathory lady, so they asked me to watch you. They should be back soon.”

“Do you have any idea how I got here?” Derek asked the girl.

She shook her head, “Nope.”

Sighing bitterly, Derek reached across the bed to remove the blanket that had been lying atop him. As he did so, he noted that his transformation had not progressed any further since his last bout of changes. He ran quickly across the room and looked himself over in the mirror. Like the doctor, one half of his body was male and the other was female. Unlike Mengele, his male side didn’t look the least bit deformed.

“Sif preserve!” Derek muttered. “Am I going to be stuck like this forever?”

Marion came over to stand next to him. She glanced up at him with a curious expression on her face. Derek didn’t respond, not sure of what to say. He opened his mouth to speak, but no words escaped his lips as looked down at the girl. How could he explain his predicament to this child? He held no obligation toward her, and there was no need to tell what had been done to him, but for some reason he felt a strong desire to tell Marion all about his changes.

He stared at the girl awkwardly, and was saved from speaking as the door opened and I appeared from the other side of it. Derek seemed nervous as our eyes met and, strangely enough, I felt a bit of a nervous twinge myself.

“Derek,” I said smiling at him. “How are you doing?”

He shook his head, “As good as can be expected.”

I gave him a sympathetic smile then I looked about remembering that the girl was still present. “Marion would you please leave us?”

She groaned and pouted, but quickly complied, storming angrily out of the room. As soon as she had vacated it, my attention returned to Derek and I spoke, “I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I think I might be able to reverse your changes.”

Derek smiled enthusiastically, “That’s great news!” he exclaimed practically jumping with glee, “How soon can you do it?

I hesitated for a moment, “I don’t know if it will even work. I’ve never done anything like it before. There’s something else I want you to consider. I might be able to reverse the changes, but there’s at least as good a chance that I might complete them.”

Derek looked back at me with a look of utter confusion on his face. “Why would I want to be a woman?”

Again, I hesitated, “While you were unconscious, I probed your mind. Please, don’t be angry,” I added quickly noting the shocked look that had appeared on his face. “Let me explain.” I raised my hand as Derek opened his mouth to speak. He looked uncomfortable and I could understand why. A person’s thoughts were private. To have someone else look upon them was deeply unsettling.

“When I was first made Athilda’s apprentice, I was kidnapped and my mind was invaded,” I continued smiling apologetically as I did so. “My kidnapper intended to make me into an assassin by altering my mind. I had to be sure they hadn’t tried to do the same with you. When I looked into your mind I found a strong sense of right and wrong, and an even stronger desire to be accepted as an equal to women in our society. I could use someone like you.”

Derek looked as if he were at a loss for words and he stared at me awkwardly as if trying to think of something to say. “Use me for what?” he finally managed to mutter.

Once again I hesitated, “Ragnarok is coming. I intend to keep it from becoming a reality.”

He gave me an incredulous look and glared at me as if wondering whether I were sane. “That’s …” he muttered trailing off.

“Crazy?” I said with a smile. “I know how it sounds.”

Once more he stared at me in awkward silence. “I don’t know what to think. I need some time to think,” he finally managed to say.

I nodded in understanding, “Take all the time you need,” I said, turning away leaving him alone with his thoughts.

+ - + - + - +

Derek was, once again alone in the same guest room he had awakened in when a woman suddenly appeared before him. “Norns,” he muttered in astonishment. “Where the Frigg did you come from?”

“Mortals!” she said with a scowl on her face. “I don’t know why you insist on using my name as if it were a foul curse word.”

“You’re Goddess Frigg?” he muttered in amazement. “That’s it! I’ve lost it completely. I’m seeing things.”

Frigg rolled her eyes, “You’re not hallucinating,” she replied testily.

Derek hesitated, then looked her over from head to foot. He wanted to say something, but only managed a slight nod.

This small gesture appeared to be enough for the goddess as she smiled at him from across the room, “Much better. What have you decided regarding Aryanna’s offer?”

He couldn’t quite explain why, but for whatever reason he became convinced he really was speaking with Frigg and not some figment of his imagination. “I don’t know,” he said shaking his head in frustration. “If what she says is true then I would want to help stop Ragnarok. Can she really do it? Can she really finish the changes?”

Frigg smiled sadly, “Yes, but she could kill you if she’s not careful.”

Derek shook his head, “And Ragnarok? Can it be stopped.”

The goddess pursed her lips, “There is a chance. The future is not set.”

“You think I should accept her offer?” he asked, looking at the goddess with a sense of dread.

She smiled sadly, “What I think doesn’t matter, mortal. The choice must be yours.”

“That’s it?” he asked her incredulously. “Surely, you can give me something that will help me decide!”

Frigg seemed momentarily taken aback, then suddenly threw her head back and started to laugh, a deep and hearty laugh. She smiled down at him, “She needs you. Even now she feels drawn to you, but does not yet understand why.”

Derek’s heart skipped a beat and he hesitated for a moment as his heart and mind waged war with one another. He had been drawn to me since our meeting, but neither could he stand the thought of being stuck as a woman for the rest of his life. He stared up at the goddess as if pleading for her to make the decision for her. A sigh escaped his lips as came to acceptance passed through him. “Then I suppose I’ll ask her to complete the changes,” he muttered, feeling dread mingled with relief as he locked his eyes with those of the goddess.

Frigg gifted Derek with an approving smile, “There is no need for her to invoke the changes when I can do so without risk to your life,” She walked across the room to stand before Derek and gently stroked his cheek.

Suddenly, a very familiar yet considerably less severe pain coursed throughout Derek’s body. This time the changes came on much more quickly, and he gasped as a very strange sensation passed over his crotch. It burned where his penis had remained stubbornly attached above a partial formed vagina. He quickly tore open his pants and watched as his penis suddenly shot inward and formed a complete vulva.

“Be patient with her,” the goddess whispered. He looked over where she had been standing and found she was gone. He quickly tore off his remaining clothes and watched as the changes rippled across his body. He struggled against the pain as he walked across the room where a mirror was mounted on the wall. He watched as the changes shifted across his face, neck, torso, and lower body.

The breast on the right side of his chest seemed to grow just a bit larger, then the area around the left nipple almost seemed to inflate and there were two breasts on his chest. The changes to his face completed first, and he found himself captivated by the sight of the woman in the mirror. His eyes were now slightly slanted, though his facial features were still predominantly African. There was an ever so slight resemblance to his mother, but he was much more attractive than his mother had ever been. Strangely enough, his hair had grown nearly a foot in length with the new set of changes. Gradually, the changes were completed across the rest of his body and the pain faded away.

The woman in the mirror had a captivating figure to match her face and Derek could hardly believe that he was looking upon his own reflection. There were a few features in his face that stuck out as familiar, but for the most part there was very little resemblance to his previous self. He looked at his reflection and felt his stomach lurch at that the thought that he would have to live as a woman for the rest of his life. Had he really made the right choice?

+ - + - + - +

After dressing himself in the set of ill-fitting clothes that he found within the closet, Derek left the privacy of the guest room and left in search of me. He found me in the hallway as I was conversing with my mother. I caught sight of him almost immediately felt my jaw drop as I noted his now fully female form. “Derek? How did you?…”

“I, uh, had a little help,” he muttered awkwardly, and I found myself mesmerized by the sight of the beautiful woman that stood before me. “Frigg,” I muttered finding myself at a loss for words.

I don’t know what made him do it, but suddenly I found his lips locked with my own. Shocked by the sudden contact, I quickly broke away and stared at the new woman in shock.

“I … I’m sorry,” he muttered apologetically. “I don’t know …”

I stepped back from Derek with a sinking feeling in my heart. “Please don’t. I… just can’t.”

“Lady Aryanna!” A voice called from behind.

“Yes what is it, Meredith?” I quickly replied, eager to seize upon the interruption.

The young woman bowed her head, “It is Lady Athilda. She seeks your presence.”

“We will speak later,” I said, casting Derek an awkward glance before turning to follow Meredith down the hallway.

“Don’t take it personally. She just hasn’t been the same since the death of Marion’s sister,” I heard my mother mutter, and felt my cheeks burn at the thought of the kiss Derek and I had shared.

+ - + - + - +

“About time, cousin!” Claramae said with a scowl as I stepped into the room. I looked about the room and noted several more of my ‘cousins’ gathered around Athilda’s bed within the room.

“Hold your tongue, child,” Athilda said, scowling up at my cousin.

I came over and knelt by Athilda’s bedside. My ancestor looked dreadful, the dark circles under her eyes were much more prevalent than usual, and she looked thinner than ever. “Leave us,” Athilda said. “I need to speak with Aryanna alone.”

Claramae grimaced, but left the room without a word and the others soon followed suit. Mother, who had appeared in the doorway, turned away and closed the door so that Athilda and I could have some privacy. “Athilda, what’s going on?” I asked.

Athilda smiled sadly, “Twilight is nearly upon me, child. It is almost time.”

I sighed feeling the sting of tears beginning to form in my eyes, “Athilda, don’t talk like that.”

Athilda grimaced up at me, “Just listen, child. When I pass there will be no one to guide you. You must persevere. The fate of the world depends upon you.”

Tears streamed unbidden down my face as I muttered, “I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”

Athilda smiled sagely, “I have faith in you. Of all my descendants you and your mother are the only ones I would trust with my legacy.”

A small sob escaped my lips as I spoke, “Athilda, I cannot hope to fill your shoes.”

Athilda shook her head and smiled up at me with tears in her eyes. “Then do not fill them. Choose your own path. Make me proud.”

I couldn’t bring myself to speak. I merely nodded and gripped Athilda’s hand.

“Invite the others back in. It is time to start the death watch,” Athilda said quietly. More tears fell from my eyes as I went to do as she had bid me.

+ - + - + - +

It was nearly two in the morning the next day when Derek got up from bed. So many thoughts were coursing through his mind that he found he could not sleep. So he wandered the halls of Athilda’s estates trying to make sense of everything that had happened. He found that whenever he needed to work out a problem, walking seemed to help. A change of scenery often led to his greatest moments of inspiration.

As he walked, his thoughts turned to me. He felt a strong attraction toward me and he couldn’t understand why he felt such strong feelings toward someone he had only just barely met. My rejection of him had stung much more deeply than he cared to admit. He felt grateful to me for rescuing him, but found himself inexplicably drawn to me for reasons that seemed to go beyond the physical. Even without my presence, the urge to embrace me was undiminished, and he could not understand why. He knew I held no obligation toward him. We had only just met, but it didn’t stop him from feeling the way he did.

As he wandered through the hallways he stopped just short of a dimly lit room whose door was open. Who could be up at this hour? Curiosity got the better of him and he poked his head inside the doorway. A sickly looking elderly woman lay atop a bed. He knew instantly who this woman must be, even though he had never seen her before. It was Athilda, the ailing head of House le Fey. Adjacent to the bed sprawled atop an armchair. I was asleep, or at least I wanted him to think I was.

“Child,” a voice said suddenly, and Derek nearly jumped out of his skin. He looked in the direction of the voice and found Athilda le Fey staring right at him.

“You are the one Aryanna rescued, are you not?” The old woman spoke with a weak voice that still managed to convey great strength.

Derek merely nodded and stared at the Spellbinder, his mouth agape.

Athilda smiled sadly, “Come here, child. I would speak with you.”

Derek nodded dumbly and stepped quietly into the room, being careful to not wake me. Hesitatingly, he stepped towards the ancient woman’s bed then he knelt down beside her.

“You’ve chosen a difficult path,” Athilda said quietly.

“Because of Ragnarok?” Derek asked.

Athilda nodded, “Aryanna will need all the help she can get. Most importantly, she will need you.”

He cast his eyes down to the floor, “I don’t know about that,” he said quietly. “Goddesses, I can’t get her out of my head, and she wants nothing to do with me.”

Athilda laughed weakly, “Patience, child.” There was a one final gasp from the Spellbinder, then as suddenly as if someone had flicked a switch she was gone. Almost immediately, I jumped from my position on the armchair, all pretense of being sleep forgotten as I clutching at my ancestor’s lifeless body. As I wept, Derek wept along with me.

+ - + - + - +

It had been nearly a week since I had rescued Derek and he had remained within the estates at a loss for what to do or where to go. He had no way of proving his identity, and no sense of purpose beyond his strange attraction to me. I had been of no help whatsoever. I held the only means by which Derek might have any sort future within my hands, but had shown no inclination to do anything about it. Derek had not attended Athilda’s funeral, but it had been a beautiful service nonetheless.

Just a day after Athilda’s death Derek had discovered the gardens, and had since secluded himself within them. He would later confide in me that he found himself at peace there. The gardens only served to remind me of Athilda, and what her loss meant to me.

“Mind if I join you?” I said to Derek as I drew close. His head snapped up with a startled look on his face. Clearly, he had not expected to see me.

“Go ahead, I was beginning to think you had forgotten about me,” he muttered bitterly.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been a very welcoming host. I’ve all but ignored you since Athilda’s death and I feel terrible about it,” I said, sitting down on the bench beside him.

Derek shook his head, “I can understand that Athilda’s death was hard for you, but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore me. ”

“You’re right. I have no excuse. I can’t let my personal life get in the way of my duties now that I’m the head of House le Fey,” I grimaced at the thought that I had become something I had once hated.

Derek nodded but didn’t otherwise respond. “You’re likely wondering about your future,” I said quietly. “I’d like to take you on as my apprentice if you’re willing.”

Derek look me in the eyes and I felt my heart melt at the sight of his beautiful female face. “I …I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” he muttered. “Ever since I first laid eyes on you I’ve wanted nothing so much as to be with you, but …”

I cut him short as I drew so close that I could feel his lips brush against my own. “I have something to confess,” I said. “I overheard you speaking with Athilda the night she died. I’ve been torn with guilt ever since. Ever since I laid eyes on you, I’ve felt a connection, but until you kissed me I didn’t understand it. I think I must have been in denial.”

“Goddesses,” he muttered. “No wonder you’ve been so withdrawn.”

“So…” I muttered, “Will you accept my offer.”

Derek bit his lip doubtfully. “What about you and me?”

“I’m willing to give it a try, but my last relationship ended badly. I want to take things slow,” I said, looking him in the eyes apprehensively.

Derek smiled back at me, and I found that I could no longer keep myself from kissing him.

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