Luca flopped down onto the giant wolf pelt rug for his morning meditation, his emotions somewhere between irritation and delight. After that incident yesterday it had all finally begun to click.
With successful change back into his human form he'd convinced his parents to let him try one more time. In his cloud palace he'd found his anima easily then, instead of trying to catch it this time he'd enticed it to him. He'd sat down and really tried to connect with his emotions. He'd waved off the buzzing thought about how meditating, while already meditating was silly. As he let some of his negative emotions to the forefront his anima erratically drifted over like a dandelion seed on the wind. The thing would stop and drift away if he got excited with his success, so there were several occasions where it floated further away and he had to wrangle control of his emotions and only concentrate on things that would lure it over.
After the anima eventually surrounded him, he opened his eyes to find himself smothered by his own clothes for the second time that day. This time when he transformed back he barely even cared about his nakedness as he bragged in detail to his parents about everything. Donovan and Galen tenderly listened to his bubbling descriptions of his inner cloud maze and his anima.
"Sounds lovely Luca," Galen stroked his head as he proffered a plate of jerky to his cub that was half dressed and bouncing with enthusiasm. The day had ended on a high note as they'd all gone to bed in a good mood.
After breakfast this morning, expecting a positive response, he'd ask if he could finally go see the guild only to be instantly rejected by Galen.
"Why not?" anger and petulance reverberated together in Luca's young voice.
Galen lovingly looked at his frustrated cub, "Don't be disappointed you're definitely improving. We just need to be certain you can manage your anima out of meditation. For now you need to practice your self control and we'll see in a couple of days."
Donovan clearly agreed with Galen's proclamation and Luca was put under house arrest for a few more days.
Hence why his emotions were currently such a strange concoction. Donovan's voice started it's soothing low hum and Luca shook off his recollections and relaxed into the meditation.
Morning meditation became a daily thing. Although Luca wasn't always successful he was starting to get the hang of it. The rest of the day would be filled with reading and some writing practice. The walls were literally covered in notes and doodles now that Luca was over his initial hesitation. His parents didn't even mind, Donovan would even join his cub in scribbling on the walls, with Galen correcting the occasional mistake. Luca had observed a curious phenomenon with the walls. A couple weeks after he first started writing on them a spot that had been covered in his scribbles had become empty again.
Curious Luca had asked Galen about it.
"It's just the house renewing itself, We'll probably have to take off a layer of bark in a month or so," Galen offhandedly replied as he focused on his gardening.
"The house is getting smaller!" Luca suddenly had horrifying visions of waking to find himself trapped. The walls having grown inwards, surrounding him and sealing the exits.
Galen glanced up at the distress he heard in Luca's voice laughing "No, the house just renews it's skins and the excess and debris is sloughs off the outside as bark. Creates a lot of mess that we have to clean up, only happens every few months though."
Once again mind blown by this strange world's strange plants Luca decided not to let it worry him and went back to focusing on his transformations.
Luca was determined to gain control so he could get started on his money making plan, even if it wasn't a brilliant idea that would make loads of money at least he'd feel like he was pulling his weight. No matter what his parents said about it he just didn't like the idea of being a financial burden.
Donovan had been staying in town since the last hunting trip only occasionally leaving to buy things. Luca had begged him on a few occasions to take him out too. Sometimes even clinging to his legs and throwing pitiful eyes at him.
However Donovan staunchly kept his gaze averted so he wouldn't be undone by his cub's adorableness. Luca was pouting on the ground drawing meaningless scribbles on the floor after being left behind again. Galen, not even trying to hide his amusement, would give him extra food as consolation. It was on this evening that Donovan suddenly brought home the bag of horrors. His mind reeling in shock Luca froze like a deer in headlights as Donovan held out the offending object for his inspection.
Luca was holding the bag Donovan had handed him, staring at the all to frilly contents. Too stunned to even complain Luca soon found himself playing dress up for his parents. It wasn't until the third outfit that Luca finally regathered his wits. He was standing in the living room wearing a blue blouse with a lacy cloud design collar and flowing sleeves gathered at the wrists with bows. Puffy shorts shaped like bell flowers that were so white they glowed. His eyes had been darting away from any shiny surfaces as a form of self protection. So he wasn't to clear on what he actually looked like right now. Luca finally pulled the shivering pieces of his frayed mind together in a comfort hug and asked, "What are the clothes for?"
"Test," Donovan grunted happily, appraising his cub's appearance. Luca turned his head to Galen mutely pleading for a translation.
Galen was sitting enjoying the unexpected dress up show. "Have you forgotten Luca? The attribute and gender tests will be held by the church next week. Donovan obviously decided you needed new clothes for the occasion."
Luca's frayed mind cried and scattered. Luca's barely gathered mental stability slipped out of his control at the thought he'd subconsciously ignored up till now. Oddly enough he wasn't really all that bothered when he learned he was in a world populated by beings that all looked like males. He just hadn't wanted to closely observe the possibility that he might be this world's equivalent of a female.
Luca decided not to worry over something that hadn't happened yet and crumpled up his anxiety and threw it into the bin. He couldn't escape the clothes though and he was subjected to trying on every outfit that Donovan had bought for him. Each more mortifying than the last. He endured with dead eyes trying not to think about it instead using it as practice to keep his anima calm.
Luca couldn't really complain though, not when just dressing up in some silly clothes made his parents happy. I really hope this didn't all cost too much. It's not like I'm going to be wearing these things often.
Galen happily informed Luca that he'd have to choose an outfit as it was traditional to dress up for the occasion.
Despite having made the decision not to think about it, Luca was getting nervous about the test day and so tried to wheedle some more information out of Galen and Donovan after a quick, firm rebuff from Galen Luca figured his chances were better with Donovan.
Using his most pitiful appearance and still dressed up in the ridiculous get up. He made full use of his cute kitten eyes, looking up dolefully at his father who was sitting in one of the chairs by the table. Having flung away his shame over the clothes Luca decided to use them as a weapon. If you're going to make me wear this outfit you'll have to suffer the consequences.
Donovan was clearly more susceptible to Luca's manipulations and he could only desperately close his eyes tight and turn his head away. Galen enjoyed the show of Luca circling his father and trying to wheedle information out of him and Donovan's desperate defence against his son's cuteness attack. After enjoying the show for a while Galen decided he should rescue Donovan before he caved in. Galen came and collected Luca who by this point had climbed onto his father's lap and was patting his head in an attempt to get a response. Poor Donovan was torn between resisting his adorable son and enjoying the attention as Luca often ignored him in favour of his books. When he asked questions he almost always aimed them at Galen, even when Donovan was right next to him.
Galen grabbed his cub under his arms and hoisted him off Donovan. His attempt to mine information from his father foiled Luca pouted and crossed his arms while still being held up by Galen.
"Why won't you just tell me," Luca sulked as he dangled above the floor. Though the strain was clearly a bit much for the bird man so he quickly set him down. His aim of freeing Donovan had been achieved anyway.
Galen ruffled Luca's hair and smiled "If you know the contents of the test beforehand it can affect your results, Now go and get ready for bed." Luca shoulders slumped and he dragged his feet towards the bedroom as he resigned himself to not knowing until the test arrived.
Halfway to the bedroom it suddenly struck Luca like a freight train, he only had a few days left. He hadn't got full control of his anima yet! Luca spun around and flung himself back towards his parents with a desperate pleading look. With the smell of their cubs' distress thick in the air, both parents suddenly lost the playful air from before. Galen went straight up to Luca and hugged him so Luca didn't notice when Donovan's pupils contracted and he started suspiciously scanning the empty air.
"W-what if I c-can't get control of my anima in time," Relieved that he wasn't actually being attacked by a spirit they didn't really give the response Luca had been expecting. Galen laughed in relief and Donovan relaxed re-sheathing the claws that had silently been unleashed. Hesitantly petting Luca on the head like he'd jealously watched Galen do several times.
Luca was a little aggrieved by the unexpected responses glaring tearfully at his unconcerned parents, "Relax baby you're doing incredibly well. You'll definitely have enough control by then to sit through the test and we can leave soon after if you want," Luca was barely mollified as they didn't really seem to be taking his concerns seriously. After all he'd only recently managed to transform at will and that first time was practically an accident.
Breathing deeply Luca subconsciously used the meditation methods he'd learnt recently to calm himself. It's OK, I have a few days left and I have managed to transform a few times, even if I got stuck in cat form occasionally. Luca stomped on the stray thought that tried to argue he'd only managed that first time by accident and his parents just assumed he'd done it consciously. He ground the thought under the heel of his mental foot as he continued breathing. Luca didn't even notice as the almost agitated fluff ball settled back down in his subconscious.
Determined that tomorrow he'd get it right for real Luca set off to bed with a determination that would usually make sleep difficult but fortunately due to the influence of his parents scents he drifted of in no time like usual, tucked in-between as two pairs of eye's one green one grey watched him lovingly.
Luca spent the days leading up to the test so focused on getting the hang of the transformations that he didn't even notice as the test day crept slowly closer.