After Izzy’s parents had wrapped their minds around the revelation we had dropped on them, we talked about how it was actually going to happen. I think the idea that magic really existed blew their minds more than their son wanting to become their daughter. They were also surprised to learn that she would end up being some crazy dryad plant girl when I mentioned it, although Izzy cut in and told me that she had asked to change it up a bit. Seemed Feslia could do a lot with her body bending magic, and I guess she had mentioned that to me a while back. She didn’t say much about the arrangement’s she’d made with Feslia, other than she’d be a priestess and she’d be a girl.
The plan was that on friday night we’d be getting together in Pellan and having the ritual or whatever you wanted to call it, while outside of Pellan her parents would be on hand to deal with any problems. Unlike me, Izzy’s parents had already filed to have her gender markers and name changed. She was going to do things the hard way, bringing her old identity with her. She’d pretend she was medically transitioning through a private source and hope that would pull the wool over most people’s eyes.
So when friday came around, and school was finished for the day, I waved a giddy goodbye to Zach the depressed boy and rushed home. I’d been allowed out of doing chores and homework tonight because I’d told my parents what was going to happen tonight. I think I was almost as excited as Izzy was for this. There was something amazing about helping someone in such a huge and meaningful way. I couldn’t wait.
In an amazing turn of events, Karen managed to get into the game quickly as well. Her parents must not be home tonight. I saw her chilling by the firepit and rushed over to her, throwing myself into her arms with a giggle of delight.
“It’s going to happen! We’re going to help Izzy!” I squealed.
Karen chuckled into my hair and squeezed me tight, “We are!”
Our embrace turned into a kiss in moments as we both let the tension of separation while in the real world ease. It absolutely sucked seeing her around school but not being able to throw myself into her arms like I had just done. We were limited to longing looks and fleeting smiles out there, but in here we could be as intimate as we liked. Probably more intimate than my parents would have liked, but they didn’t need to know that.
Alexia and her party wandered up soon after that, and our friends began to log in one by one. We still needed to build a lot of furniture for the two new buildings, so that was what most of the others were going to be doing while Isabelle, Karen and myself were up at the shrine. While everyone got to work, Karen and I walked up to the shrine to wait.
“What was your transformation like?” she asked as we sat down on the grass.
“It was like being on fire and frozen at the same time, I passed out pretty quickly so I don’t even know how long it took. What about you? You never told me what yours was like,” I asked her, while thinking back to that incredible moment.
She shrugged and thought for a moment, “Similar I think. Except I had this… really odd voice in my head as well. He said he was a god, and that I’d broken something when I picked that rock up. He was kinda… he reminded me of that rogue stereotype where they are all goofy, arrogant and funny. I haven’t heard from him since I changed though. Sounded pretty amused by the whole thing and said I could keep it. Said he’d forgotten where he left it anyway.”
“Oh so yours was through a god also? That’s interesting,” I said thoughtfully.
We spoke for almost an hour before Isabelle finally turned up. She inched her way into the shrine clearing like she wasn’t supposed to be there. She looked so super nervous. I got up off the ground when I saw her and grinned.
“You ready?” I asked cheerfully.
“Yes! Yes I am so ready, but like holy shit I am shaking. Is this really going to happen?” she said, holding up her hands and showing me.
“Yes it is!” Let’s go talk to Feslia!” I said, taking her hand and leading her towards the statue.
“I’ll keep a lookout!” Karen called from behind us.
“Thanks babe!” I grinned back at her, getting a wink in return.
The aura around the statue seemed more potent that it had when I first created it, like Feslia’s statue was a battery indicator for how much energy Feslia was holding. When we grew nearer, it felt like the statue moved and smiled at us, even if it didn’t actually move.
“Hello little ones, time for the big change is it?” Feslia asked with a sparkle in her voice.
“Y-yes!” Izzy squeaked, staring wide eyed up at our goddess.
“I have more than enough power for it right now. The prayers of your… friends, have been most helpful. I may have to look into expanding my buff repertoire further if for no other reason than that it seems to be popular with you adventuring types,” she laughed.
“Awesome! Once more people come here there will be lots of followers and power for you,” I said happily.
“Good to know, I look forward to smashing the minions of the Nosos with it later,” she said.
“What’s the Nosos?” I said, a little confused now.
“It is what we have discovered the reality defying being has called itself. We have translated it vaguely… by googling it of all things. Your internet is a wonderful creation. The full name that it seems to have given itself is Disease of the Godmaker. It says it is searching for the… pieces, or cure to its existence. The two words seem to be interchangeable to it. We have fought countless avatars of this thing, but it has only recently become… chatty. Of course we will see to it that it never finds whatever this cure is. We do not know why it killed our makers, but myself and the other gods will see it come to an end!” Feslia said, getting a little angry for the first time I had heard.
What scared me was the way she had said it was looking for pieces. That almost certainly meant Nia, Vulptrix and I… how could we possibly be a cure for it? I hoped I never found out.
“So um anyway, how does this work?” I asked after a few moments of silence, deciding to change the subject back to izzy’s transformation. The poor girl was almost crying with excitement over this whole thing.
“Isabelle dear, would you lay down on the ground before my altar? It will be more comfortable for you. I will do the rest,” Feslia instructed calmly.
“Oh! Yes! Sure!” Izzy said, her voice almost cracking under her excitement.
She did as Feslia asked, laying down with her head facing towards the shrine while I backed off a bit. She looked over at me for reassurance, and I smiled encouragingly, giving a thumbs up for good measure. She wriggled in place a bit, trying to find somewhere to put her hands, before she settled on leaving them on her stomach like she was taking a nap, then she closed her eyes.
Then opened them again to ask, “Wait are we still doing the slow thing?”
“If you are referring to slowly changing your Earthbound body into the one you desire, then yes. It takes significantly more effort on my part, but only a minor increase in power. I am weaving the spell into your other body through the link between the two. I have constructed a set of timers that will activate different functions as they are required. You will see a gradual change in bone structure throughout the process, but other changes will happen more rapidly and at different stages. Your breasts for example will begin to be grown in a few weeks, while your hair and eye colour will change towards the end,” Feslia explained.
“Oh okay cool,” Izzy grinned, then closed her eyes again, “Thank you so much Feslia. I can’t wait to be your priestess too.”
“I am excited for that prospect also my dear. It will be nice to have more friends like you little ones,” Feslia said, her voice smiling even if her statue could not, “And now I will begin.”
The clearing was silent for almost thirty seconds before a thin line of my goddesses power snaked out from the statue. It touched down in the center of Izzy’s chest, then began to zigzag all over her like a robotic arm etching something into a sheet of metal. There seemed to be no effect on Izzy, but I saw her wince in discomfort. She didn’t complain however, gritting her teeth and letting Feslia work.
This seemed far different to how it had worked when I had been transformed, but I guess that’s what you’d expect when the process had since been refined. I still preferred having a fresh social start like I had gotten, but I do wonder what school would be like if everyone knew I was the frumpy guy they had known as Sam. I guess I’d find out when people started to notice Izzy’s changes. I was willing to bet I’d have to square up against some asshole cis girls trying to get bitchy at her.
There was still bullshit on the news from other less progressive countries like England or Scotland about trans people being attacked for using the “wrong” bathroom. I wish I could go over there with my powers and become some sort of vigilante who protected trans people. I would heal them and introduce them to Feslia. Maybe one day I should actually do that?
Izzy’s transformation seemed to be going fine when in the distance we heard an explosion at the same time that Feslia cried out in surprise.
“What’s wrong?” I asked urgently.
“There’s a breach! That thing, Nosos! It’s attacking the planetary core through one of the old ducts! How did it gain access? I must go, the fight waits. This is beyond a critical problem! If Nosos reaches the core of the planet all is lost! Our creators will have died for nothing!” she wailed, her power already waning from the statue.
“Wait! Right here? Was that the explosion? What about Isabelle!” I cried, looking down at my friend in fear.
“I am afraid her plan will no longer work… she will have to do things as you did before her,” Feslia replied distantly, “And the explosion is not linked to this attack. You will have to deal with it.”
A surge of power erupted from the statue as she finished speaking, hitting Izzy and causing her to arch her back and cry out in pain. Her legs kicked feebly at the dirt for a moment while her eyes spun wildly in their sockets, and then she was unconscious. The energy slowly faded from view and I turned to Karen for help. She was staring back at me with shock on her face. I had to agree with her. This was not how I had pictured today going.
“What do we do?” I asked, my voice betraying my anxiety. We couldn’t leave Izzy here, and something was happening outside the shrine clearing.
“I’ll carry Izzy back to her room in the cabin and then we’ll go and see what’s happening,” Karen said, confidence returning to her expression.
“Okay! Okay that works. I’ll go check first,” I said, rushing towards the path through the trees.
I rushed down the path and up onto a little rise, trying to see the buildings from here, but the surface of our little hill was far too uneven to get any sort of idea what was going on. I was only just able to see the tops of the cabins, and nothing below the lip of the hill.
“I don’t see anything!” I called down to Karen, who had retrieved Izzy’s unconscious form.
“Alright, let’s get moving,” she replied, moving forward.
I followed her lead, pieces of my dress and armour combo slamming into existence over my body with muffled thumps and clangs. This new armour was so damn cool. I looked like a cross between a magical girl, a greek hoplite and a high medieval princess. All of it was done up in Feslia’s gold and blue. I felt powerful.
Karen grinned at me as I rushed past so that I was protecting the two of them, “You look hot!”
“Shut up!” I blushed, still very much not used to being complimented like that.
“Defend me, my tiny princess in shining armour!” she giggled from behind me.
“That’s what I’m going to do silly!” I called back, then focused my eyes towards where I could now hear shouting.
There was definitely something happening over at the Alexia party buildings. They were closer to the edge of the hill and so that was where someone would arrive. Had some of her friends found us? Were they celebrating excitedly? I certainly hoped so. We tried to make as little noise as possible as we tiptoed back to the cabin, but apparently that wasn’t enough.
The whistling let me know something was wrong first, and I was up in the air on my roller blades of light before I could think twice about it. The arrow whipped through where I had been walking like an angry hornet, and I looked out to meet the eyes of its master. Malcolm Blackfeather stared haughty right back, already reaching for another arrow and surrounded by three of his friends.
“It’s the Blackfeathers!” I called urgently to Karen, “Get her to safety while I stall, then come help!”
“Okay, but don’t you get hurt!” she growled as she ran under me, pulling Izzy into a protective princess carry.
“I’ll try!” I replied, deflecting another arrow with my buckler made of light.
I twisted in the air, trying to keep their attention on me instead of my girlfriend. I looked at the four enemies and felt a spike of fear. Four dudes with pointy weapons versus this one tiny healer. I was so screwed. I shook my head at that thought. No I was not! I was not going to give in to my terrified crippling brain this time. I was going to beat Blackfeather’s face into his brain matter like I had done last time. I hope he remembered how it felt, because I sure did.
Since I knew this wasn’t really a game, I also knew that damage for something wasn’t fixed. Which meant my momentum would affect the speed of my abilities. I did a little circle like a figure skater gearing up for a spin, then launched two shards of light in quick succession towards my foes. I let the shard shatter mid-flight, and the deadly sharp little pieces tore up everything in their path. Grass and shrubs shredded as the shrapnel ripped through the plant life, and I saw the Blackfeather’s duck for cover.
One wasn’t fast or lucky enough, and I watched him cry out in pain as blood blossomed across his cheek where a piece of my barrage tore open his cheek. I was so chuffed with myself for actually dealing damage with that combo that I failed to take Blackfeather and his admittedly impressive skill into account. I was knocked out of the air by an arrow shattering against my breastplate with the crack of a falling branch under a full load of snow. I hit the ground hard, the impact driving the air out of my lungs.
His goons rushed me while I was down, the wounded one drinking some sort of potion to repair the damage to his face with a grimace. Damn, that was kind of annoying. I flipped onto my front to avoid another arrow, then lunged forward towards the guy with the potion, my fist crackling with energy. His eyes went almost comically wide before my fist hit him, and suddenly he was spasming on the ground while his face sparked with the residual electrical discharge.
Meanwhile, another goon swung a sword at me, and I had to duck under it or risk him hitting something through my armour. There were a lot of gaps after all. Thinking fast, I threw a bunch of dirt and shredded foliage into the guys face, then threw myself backwards to avoid the other two as they attacked in unison. Blackfeather being one of the last two, he clipped me with his shortsword, turning my backwards lunge into a spin.
His other goon lunged at me, trying to impale me with the weight of his whole body behind the sword, but the spin caught him by surprise and the blade sank into the ground. It just so happened that my hand was inches from his face. He never saw his death, because my energy blade materialised inside his skull. I slashed up and rolled to the side again in the same motion, springing to my feet and glaring at my three remaining foes.
My glare turned to surprise as I realised Karen was barrelling silently down on them from behind, and I think they realised that when one of them started to turn. Karen’s claymore sunk halfway into his waist before it got stuck. She didn’t bother removing it, instead drawing a dagger from her hip and plunging it into the back of the other goon. They both went down screaming and gurgling, while Blackfeather looked around himself in sudden fear.
He tried to scramble away, but Karen checked him with her armoured shoulder, sending him sprawling at my feet. He stared up at us with fear fully apparent in his wild gaze. He seemed on the verge of panic.
“Please no!” he begged, his speech pattern seeming almost feminine.
“Don’t be a wuss,” I replied with a sigh, “You’ll respawn after all. A lot of those people you kill aren’t so lucky,” and then I shot him in the chest with a shard of light.
His body jerked under the impact and the light in his eyes faded. As if sensing that the fight was over, all the bodies disintegrated into wisps of magical energy that faded, leaving behind little bags of the randomly selected loot they had dropped from their corpses. Gosh, the spell this planet was under was kind of scary in its power.
Karen and I stood there breathing heavily for a second, just staring at each other. The ground around us was a mess. Shredded plants and churned up earth everywhere. How had our fight done so much damage in so little time? Karen looked winded from running back in a hurry, but that didn’t stop a huge grin blossoming across her face.
“Holy shit you are so fucking cool!” she almost giggled.
“Says the one who almost cut a dude in half!” I grinned back.
“It is so fucked up that this is actually real, but it feels like a game. Not that I’m going to question it! Let’s see what loot there is!” she laughed, reaching down to grab the nearest bag.
“What about the others?” I asked, pointing towards where another group of Blackfeather’s minions were probably fighting our friends.
“Nah it’s fine, I think they were cleaning up by the time I saw what was happening,” she said, waving a hand dismissively.
“If you say so! I want to see what Blackfeather dropped,” I shrugged, picking up the bag he had dropped.
“Does he count as a common or an epic creature do you think?” she joked back.
“Seemed to die like a common.”
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