Chapter 3: Aiding and Abetting
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“Curious,” Augustus mused as he flipped through the pages of his massive tome. The wizened aarakocra stroked his feathery beard as he looked me over for the umpteenth time. “I have tried every form of arcane appraisal I know, yet still the nature of your curse evades me. Had I not known your appearance previously, I would chance to say there was no curse upon you. Remind me whom you said it was that cast this spell upon you?”


Augustus had me up on his office table to get a better look at me, since I could hardly see over it while sitting in a chair. I’m sure it was meant to feel more casual, but in my position it felt like an operating table.


“Well, I didn’t catch her name, but she was a catgirl who called herself the goddess of cuteness,” I explained. “She had pink hair, pink eyes, pink everything basically. I’d never heard of her before, but I’m not all that familiar with gods outside the elvish pantheon. Do you know anything about her?”


Augustus tried to probe one of my ear-holes and I let out an embarrassing squeak, much to Desra’s amusement. I shot her a glare but she only laughed harder.


“Goddess of cuteness, you say?” the owl-man pondered aloud. “I believe I have heard of one such goddess. She is a local deity, known for being dainty in appearance but ruthlessly vindictive of those who slight her. I am, however, fairly certain she keeps to herself, residing in a quaint monastery just north of here.”


“Tartarus,” I cursed. “I was on a job at that very temple tonight when that little sadist caught me in the act and did this to me.” I emphasized the last point by gesturing to my tiny, scaled form.


“Oh, goodness me,” Augustus hooed. “Quite unfortunate that your, erm, ‘mark’ happened to be so dangerous. Though we should all be grateful that you are otherwise unharmed. You are unharmed, yes? There were no side effects beyond this sudden change in species?”


“I mean. There’s the whole gender thing,” I added bashfully. “That almost feels like a bigger change than the height. And, uh, the rest of the changes.” My squishy tail swung side to side as if to remind me it was there.


Desra and Augustus exchanged a knowing glance, then looked back at me. They both clearly had something to say, but Augustus decided to speak up first.


“Fortunately for you, Kaelen, there are treatments available to… counteract that aspect of the curse, should you desire that. Even in the unfortunate scenario that your new reptilian form is permanent, you are under no obligation to live out the rest of your life as a gender with which you are uncomfortable. Erm, Miss Desra, am I explaining this delicately, do you think?”


“You’re doing great, Oggy,” the drow confirmed. “Like, what he means, Kae, is that you don’t have to be a girl if you don’t want to. You can still, like, go by Kaelen and we can call you he and stuff. Augustus probably has a potion, like, right here that he could give you to make the boobs go away. But it’s totally up to you.”


“Wait, you can just give me a potion and turn me into a guy again?” I asked. “How often do people even need that?”


Desra giggled. “Well, you’re kind of a special case. Like, most of the time when someone needs a tee-gee potion it’s just cause they’re trans. I think that’s a little more common than getting cursed by a magic catgirl.”


I didn’t exactly know what being "trans" meant, but by this point I was getting embarrassed about asking too many questions, so I just nodded along. “Thanks, but I don’t think it would make much of a difference. I don’t really care about being a guy if I’m still stuck as a kobold.”


Desra furrowed her brows and opened her mouth a little, but decided against voicing whatever concern she had.


“Regardless,” Augustus interjected, “I will have it right here for you if you ever change your mind. There is no shame to be had in taking it, I can assure you I have plenty. Now, if you do not need anything else from me, I will continue to research this bizarre ailment of yours.”


I thanked Desra and Augustus for their time and began heading back to my dorm to work out for myself how to fix this. I could still hear them discussing things on my way out of the office, but couldn’t quite make out what. It probably didn’t concern me anyway, so I ignored it.


Thankfully, it seemed that most of the guildmates were asleep already, so I managed to make it back to my dorm without encountering anyone else. Maybe I would even get a good night’s sleep in before I needed to explain things to my roommates.


“INTRUDER DETECTED. INTRUDER DETECTED.” As soon as I opened the door, the monotone voice of Tank, our resident fighter automaton, began blaring its preprogrammed alarm, scaring the living shit out of everyone in the room, myself included. Someone fell out of their bed with a yelp, scrambling to get their bearings.


Meanwhile, I had already dropped to the floor in a panic. “Tank, stop! It’s me! Tank! I’m Kaelen!” I squealed in desperation.


Tank was, well, a tank. It stood at over two and a half standard meters of solid bronze, always holding a massive tower shield in one hand and a heavy gladius in the other. From under its “helmet” shone two bright red artificial eyes. Truth be told, it always kind of creeped me out even when it wasn’t yelling at me and threatening me at swordpoint.


“Vocal Pattern Match Detected. My Apologies, Master Kaelen,” Tank said, its motors whirring down as it went back into resting position. “You Appear To Have Become A Kobold. My Sensors Were Confused.”


“What the heck is going on?” whined Xavien, picking himself up off the floor. The tiefling sorcerer was slightly more grumpy than he usually was, considering his particularly rude awakening.


Xavien had deep red skin, pitch black hair and an impressive pair of demonic horns spiralling off the sides of his head, yet still couldn’t manage to be intimidating no matter how hard he tried. He was especially not-intimidating at the moment, given the comfy-looking linen pajamas he was wearing. He brushed a lock of hair out of his eyes and gave me a quizzical look. “What’s this kobold doing in here?”


“This is my room, you dumb twink,” I squeaked at him. “It’s me, Kaelen. Yeah, I know. Don’t ask.”


“What?” Xavien asked.


“Xavien, what did I just tell you not to do?”


“Kaelen, you’re a three foot tall lizard, I’m not just going to pretend that isn’t weird.”


“Well, unless you’re offering to help me fight a goddess to change me back,” I yelled, “I’m gonna stay like this! So shut up and let me sleep!”


“Icndbmgghusllsmmhcrffnwgghyrp,” mumbled another voice from the bunk above mine, causing both of us to stop and look up at its source. “I can make us all some coffee, then we can help,” Brie repeated a little more coherently.


Brie was our group’s halfling bard and designated Responsible Person. Well, responsible by the extremely low standards that Xavien and I set. She was responsible enough to keep everyone healthy and motivated with her music, but not enough to get anywhere close to enough rest on any given night. She was chaotic enough to encourage us all to rob a goddess, but at least wise enough to make us come up with a plan first.


“Tank, pick me up and put me on the ground,” she said. The automaton complied, lifting her off the top bunk and placing her face-down on the floor. She rolled over, still wrapped up in her cocoon of blankets, and looked me over. “Wow. You’re even shorter than me now, Kaelen. So what goddess are we gonna go fight?”


I looked down at the half-awake halfling, up at the moody demonspawn, and finally way up at the clockwork gargantuan standing before me and sighed. No time like the present, I supposed. "Well, it all happened like this..." I began, sitting down to get comfy for the coming story.