User:Fox/Of Fallen Paths
Of Fallen Paths
The darkness hid everything like a cold thick blanket, the man stumbled, tripping over a rogue root or branch, he didn't know and couldn't tell, nor did he care. He cursed his luck and the circumstances of his rushing through the lonely forest on this pitch black night, a night not even the moon wished to echo it's light upon the world. It was his own mistake that set him running, having ransacked the lowly shrine of the nearby sect and being caught in the very act of pilfering the offerings to the guardian of the sect. The followers of course did not take kindly to his actions, caring not that he stole to keep himself alive and fed, that he was a man without a place to call home. To them, he was a common thief, a vagabond preying on the weak and unsuspecting.
Siv need not understand the language he heard when he ran, any man can understand the tone of curses and vengeance, the primal feeling of anger easily recognized without a need for words. He rose to one foot, kneeling with his other now aching leg, breathing labored heavy, his straining breath the only sound in the night. Perhaps he was alone now having run so far, the sect likely given up their hunt in the pitch of the night, not as foolish as he was he thinks to himself. Moving into a sitting position he pulled out a pack of matches, lighting one to inspect his plunder.
The small source of light danced it's marks across the gold and silver idol, shaped like a wolf adorned in wreathes and studded with various jewels, even the most unskilled of appraisers would note it's value. Smirking as he thought about the sack of coin he would procure from his loot, he moved his gaze down to his leg, a streak of crimson flowing from a small gash midway up his leg glistening in the match light. Cursing to himself he stood up once again, such an injury would certainly slow him down, there would be no more running tonight.
Siv wandered a short distance away, taking shelter under the expanse of an ancient oak tree, deciding it would be better to wait for sunrise than further risk his health and life in the pitch blackness of the forest. He tosses the match onto a small pile of leaves that nature generously had placed for him nearby, moving larger sticks onto it to create a small fire for himself. He sighed once again, setting the idol down in front of the makeshift fire and sitting against the tree's massive trunk. What a life I have come to live, he thinks, what a waste, what a tragedy. Wandering from town to town, leaving once his reputation preceded him and he could no longer remain lest lose his freedom. He longed for a place to call home, a family, a simpler life without so much danger, but it was much too late, he shrugged the idea off, re-assuring himself he had to make due with what he could manage.
The jade eyes of the idol seemed to stare back at him, and he stared right back. Sorry little fried, he thought, this is my life, my way of living, I have no other choice, sounding more like a self re-assurance with only a hint of true guilt mixed in. Stretching his arms soon followed with a sharp pain and a wince, his shoulders seemed stiff, perhaps from all the running and fighting he had done to escape. He rubbed his left shoulder with his right hand, trying to ease the pain and stiffness, so stiff even moving his arms to rub his shoulders seemed a bit troublesome. Resting his arms and giving up on easing the stiffness of his shoulders, he gazed at the idol again
A guardian of the forest, of the sect, of good harvest, this strange wolf was a god of sorts to those people. He had to chuckle, a wolf deity? In this day and age? It seemed such an antiquated idea. It was natural, he supposed, for a small group of weak individuals to revere a creature known for it's wisdom, strength, strength of family, and steadfast will. A crackle of the fire startled him for a second, much louder than he was expecting and used to, certainly not needed when his nerves were already on edge. Each crackle seemed just as loud, if not louder and he cursed his luck, the leaves and wood must be wet, he though.
Rubbing his head as best he could with stiffened shoulders and arms, he moved his gaze to the fire itself, chuckling as even the flames seemed to take the shape of a wolf at times, he really had to get his mind away from the idol. Moving his gaze to his injury, he stared, wide eyed. It was as if the crimson streak had taken on a softer appearance, looking almost like a velvet covering. That couldn't be right, he must just be tired he assumed. That was until he noticed it spreading, seeping outwards like slow flowing water over and down his leg. He touched it and shook his head, trying to shrug off the illusion his tired mind must be creating, but to his shock and surprise what met his fingertips was not blood or flesh, but the feel of something soft and hairlike..."Is that...fur?" He thought out loud, shivering a little at the thought, "that can't be possible"
One tug at the spreading, fur like area told him it wasn't an illusion cooked up by his tired mind, it brought pain and feeling with it, and with the pain a feeling of panic and nervousness. The crimson fur was still spreading, ever faster now over his leg, his arms suddenly seeming unable to reach downwards easily. He felt a ting of warmth upon his hands, looking down in horror to discover a patch of black fur growing on the back of each hand, spreading like the crimson fur on his leg. He jumped to his feet, shaking his body, trying to shake the fur off as if it were ashes from the fire, or water that had settled onto him, but still it remained, and still it spread.
He could feel warmth now on his chest, back, and groin, and in a state of panic he quickly began to undress, discovering a patch of snowy white fur upon his chest and groin, crimson at his sides, but unable to see the streak of black like a saddle on his back. He looked at the idol, eyes wide and full of fear, the idol seemed to glare at him, staring as if it could see his soul, the fire flaring up a bit as if to accentuate the idol. The naked man started to scratch and tear at himself, doing whatever he could to try and remove the fur, to no avail. It continued ever spreading, his feet growing a layer of black fur, the white spreading up his neck and under his chin, even staining his long hair as white as the rest. He held the strands in view, long stands of fine hair that seemed to slip out of his grasp, pulling upwards towards their root, till they were the same texture as the fur around them, remaining a bit longer then the rest, going down the back of his neck like a short mane.
He was fully panicked now, running on pure adrenaline and fear. He could feel the fur everywhere, only his manhood and palms of his hands, and soles of his feet still barren. He turned his hands over to stare at his palms, they seemed to be swollen and his pink skin staining a deep pitch black. Fur was growing around them now, forming a strange yet familiar shape from the swollen, barren skin...the shape of a pawpad. He shook his hands about in the air madly, fighting with what was happening to himself, every shake his fingers felt stiffer, shorter. He couldn't see them from the violent shaking, but indeed his fingers were shrinking, leaving the middle two the same length yet longer than the outer two, shorter yet the same size as each other. His nails growing white, curved, long, and thick, growing into claws for gripping and running. His thumbs bore a much worse fate, pulling up his wrists and leaving behind a small pad and dewclaw. He stopped the shaking as it became to hard to continue, gazing at was once his hands. Each fingertip now dotted by a pawpad, both hands now over sized paws of some sort, canine by the looks of it.
Siv gave a short whimper, suddenly stumbling as he felt off balance and something wrong with his feet. He slowly looked down, somehow knowing what was the cause. His little toe had disappeared, his feet growing thinner, ankles cracking and growing upwards, forcing him to stumble about once again. The soles of his feet had taken on the shape of a pawpad much like his hands had, four toes shaping a telltale footpaw from what was once a human shape. His arms seemed to grow thinner, pulling inwards a bit, a crack of his knees sending him crashing to the ground on his chest. He looked back at them, his thighs pulling close to his body and making walking on two legs almost impossible. He propped himself up on what was his hands and arms, now a set of forelegs and forepaws, closing his eyes and whimpered again, his limbs, hands, and feet were those of a quadruped now, he knew this but tried to deny it in his mind.
He gasped loudly, a very sharp pain jutting from his rear end snapping him from his delusional thoughts. Something was growing, forcing his skin to stretch outwards in ways it was not originally meant to be. He looked back in pain, seeing the snakelike visage of a tail bone covered in bare, black skin. It was long, he could feel it and with each tinge of pain he jerked it out of reflex. The fur from his body quickly spread down the snakelike appendage, growing longer then the rest of his body and forming an almost bottle brush appearance out of it. White on the tip, black across the top, and crimson the rest of the shape, it was most definitely a tail, his tail now.
Straining his neck to look himself over, his view suddenly snapped forwards with a crack of his neck, his head and neck forced into a new position more suited to his shifting form. He cried to the night, it was so painful, he hadn't meant for this to happen, he hadn't wished this, it was his only choice! His cries and curses to the night startled to become garbled and mixed with odd growls and grunts, he could feel his ears, pulling atop his head and upwards, the sound of the fire almost deafening now, sounds of the forest once silent to him flooding his hearing. He cried agian, trying to clear them away, a guttural growl escaping his blackening lips as he tried.
Pain shot through his entire skull, especially around his nose and mouth, bone crunching and stretching outwards as his skull compressed into a shorter, streamlined shape. It felt as if a giant had stepped on his head and was crushing it into a smaller shape, his cries growing less and less human by the passing second, tears falling from his eyes as he turned to look at the idol again. Still it glared, never moving but somehow seeming to follow his every move, was it to blame for this? He grunted, noticing the protrusion of his nose and mouth in his vision now, the compressing skull seemed to be pushing the bone of his mouth outwards into a broad shape, his nose turning black and moist, resting on the outer edge of the new muzzle, already covered in short fur.
Gagging suddenly at the feel of his tongue being pulled longer, he opened his mouth in a wide gape and tried to spit at the ground. His tongue lolling outwards, long yet suited for the new muzzle that dotted his face, something was falling from his mouth, hitting his new tongue. Teeth, they were his human teeth, falling out of his black gums as new, predatory teeth grew in their place, filling his muzzle with the metallic taste of blood as they took root. He panted hard, his nose finally reaching his mind, flooding it was an overwhelming amount of scents and information no human had ever known, the flood almost knocking him off his feet, but a quick shake of his head cleared it enough to remain standing.
He cried, the once human cries echoing outwards and canine whines and whimpers, short whining barks instead of words, growls instead of curses. He glared at the wolf idol, the jade of it's eyes reflecting in his own, seeming to flood them. The jade color overtaking his old hazel orbs and staining them in it's image. The firelight starting to gleam off his eyes, colors had become distorted, the night more clear then the pitch black it had been. In the reflection of the idol's eyes, Siv watched his human eyes fade away into the eyes of a canine, a wolf, and he collapsed to the ground, forelegs in front of himself and hind legs splayed outwards...there was no sign of humanity in the wolf he saw.
He Looked himself over, every bit of his body was now that of a wolf, from the crimson, white, and black fur, to the paws on the ends of all four legs, he was now an animal, nothing more, and nothing less. He shivered in fear, crying upwards to the night sky, a cry echoing through the forest as a long, mournful howl of a lost wolf. The howl itself met with others, some threatening, some curious, and some worried and concerned. Hearing others was somehow reassuring to him, a feeling he tried to fight, it shouldn't be his to seek the company of wolves, but no matter how he fought it still remained, tugging at him to follow the voices of concern. The wolf idol seemed to give a hard stare, but not threatening as it was before, it almost seemed to be pressing him to find the other voices.
Siv looked back at his belongings, then the idol one last time before his new instincts dragged him towards the concerned voices. He cried again, letting his feelings flow through the howl, it felt good, natural to him, and the responding voices seemed to be calling him over. He followed, moving through the forest awkwardly on four paws till he came to a small clearing. His tail tucked instantly as he noticed the small pack of wolves, somehow feeling safer, but inside he was terrified. The largest wolf came forwards, head and tail held high, and inspected the odd crimson furred, jade eyed wolf. Siv found himself rolling onto the ground and onto his back as if his body were out of his control, the larger wolf, obviously the alpha, standing over him and inspecting him, before trotting back to his hill and giving a gruff chuff to his pack.
The pack moved over by him, snuffling and investigating, friendly, concerned about his health, somehow he knew the alpha had allowed him to stay, and it felt right to him. He couldn't fight it, his body and mind seeming to move on it's own when he did, there was nothing he could do. As he rubbed and snuffled with his new pack, Siv's last bit of resistance gave out on him, and he slipped into his new mind and life.
A few days later, the leader of the sect walked over to the spent campfire and picked up the abandoned idol, smiling. He spoke to it, unaware of the crimson wolf that lay nearby, watching and listening. The curse of the wolf god, the crimson fur to note one who committed sacrilege against him. Those cursed would forever remain as wolves, never aging, never dying, completely changed in most every way, body and even soul. Forced to remain wolves for eternity for their crimes, and ensure that the god's children would never fade from the world. The leader chuckled, he had seen the crimson wolf the previous day and had known what had happened, that their idol was safe. He walked back to the village with a smirk.
The crimson wolf shuddered a bit upon hearing this, realizing his fate now, what the color of his fur meant. He could never be human again, and would remain a wolf for all time, and he had only himself to blame. The idol hadn't removed his memories or fully his mind, perhaps as a way to remind him of his crimes. He watched the idol as the sect leader walked off, and it seemed to almost smile and wink at him, a play of the light perhaps? He sat on his haunches and pondered to himself. He was once a human with no home, a dark path, and nobody to turn to. Now he was an animal, a wolf, a creature with a natural, more peaceful path, he had found a home, and perhaps most importantly, a family to rely on. It was true he was not the alpha, but that did not matter to him.
Perhaps the curse was not really a curse, he thought. Only those on dark and desperate paths would dare to steal such an object, ones like he himself once was. Perhaps in his own way the wolf guardian, god, or whatever it was, was providing a helping paw to those with no other options. A lesson, but a kind lesson. He shook his head and sighed a gruff wolf sigh, turning back towards his new home, how was he to know what that wolf god was thinking, he was just a simple wolf after all.