Chapter Eighteen – Form of the Enemy
I awoke. The experience was brand new for me. I didn’t ever recall a true state of unconsciousness before.
I could rest. It tended to pass time faster hiding inside my glove and closing off my senses. I could tune out the world and follow the instinct. That was something I’d always been able to do. There was also the hazy before time where I believed I was… well. I was like the others. Like the bugbears and Skeleton and Skeledog.
I didn’t have a clear memory of when it first happened, but I imagine one day, I saw something shiny or pretty and decided, why not go over to it? The instinct probably disagreed but I assume I did it anyway, and things spiraled from there. This wasn’t like that though.
Nor was it like when I came back from dying. Then, I was just suddenly there. Fully awake and alert, my last memory being of my horrible death.
Now though, I awoke. I’d never done that before. There was nothing, and then the world bloomed around my eyes as I op.. Opened them?
I lifted a tentacle–!
I stared, horrified.
I was holding my tentacle up but it was no longer a tentacle. Instead, where my flowing appendage should have been, there was now a greenish blue hand. Like the humans, elves, and orcs. Like the invaders.
I had hands.
I… oh my god. I’d struck Momma Bossbear! I hadn’t meant to do it. I was just so angry! Had… had she died? Had I killed her? Just like the invaders?
Oh god. I felt sick inside. This was how it happened. How the invaders became invaders! They killed one of their family and were cursed with the body of their own invaders.
I curled in on myself and found that I had so much more body to curl.
I looked down, not wanting to see, but unwilling to hide from the cold truth.
My skin was still the same blue-green hue my membrane had been, but I had little spots on my arms and legs that glowed softly. My body was like a human’s as far as I could tell. I was thin, and wore none of the clothing that the invaders had, which paradoxically embarrassed me. I’d never had clothes before.
I tried to float up, but found I couldn’t. Instead, I laboriously lifted myself, pushing off the ground and wobbed precariously. I caught a stalactite as I stepped on my legs for the first time.
‘I killed Momma. I killed Momma Bossbear and now I’m one of them!’ I thought. A wetness came to my… my eyes. Suddenly I finally understood what it was to cry.
To curl up. To frown. To wipe my eyes. To wheeze. All these words that only had context to an invader. A monster. So many things that had made no sense to me did now.
Now that I was a…
I shuddered involuntarily, huddling back down and hugging my knees. I stayed like that for a long time. Crying. Feeling my hair that clumped in a manner reminiscent of my old tendrils. It floated a little, hovering like I once had.
I couldn’t stay there forever though, much as I might’ve wanted to. Sooner or later, I began to feel things. Things I couldn’t ignore.
I was… cold. I knew the word, the feeling, but it wasn’t something I’d ever experienced before. I stood and I was huge. My head reached halfway to the ceiling. This room had seemed so much larger before but now it was positively small.
I tried to take a step but overbalanced and wobbled precariously. I found an odd weight resting on my back that wasn’t part of my body. I pulled it off and found a small brown bag, like the invaders wore.
I opened it, using the hands – my hands – to fumble at the sack’s cinch. It took much longer than it should’ve. Fingers didn’t work like tendrils. They were stiff and needed to be poised against one another to get leverage. You couldn’t just wrap one around something enough times that it would hold tight; I tried and it was painful.
I finally got the bag open and gasped at the contents.
My treasures! All of them were here. There was my tiara. My pebble. The precious horn that held a captive brother or sister I had never met. Oh! Maybe… maybe my new mouth could bring it out now?
That’s right. I had to… look on the bright side. Keep my chin up… now that I had one to keep up! I continued sifting through the bag. My glove was there, but it was so much smaller than it had been before.
I pulled it out but quickly pushed it away. The closer I held it, the more a strange, ugly sensation filled the small protrusion in the center of my face. Smell, I realized. I could smell! And the glove smelled horrible!
Had I been lying in that stink all this time? A different kind of revulsion filled me and I quickly placed the glove back into the bag, continuing to sift through it.
A new item was there too! Two seashells. But they weren’t seashells. They were shaped, formed to be worn somehow. I was about to pull them out when I spotted the next item in the bag and froze.
Leather Bugbear Tunic? Wait… this was just like Bugbear’s…? Wetness came to my eyes again. The little scrap I’d torn off and kept had somehow grown into a full set of clothes, like the Bugbears wore.
Was this the instinct’s way of telling me to leave? Or maybe it was giving me its blessing? Come to think of it, I no longer felt the instinct. It was no longer guiding me. I couldn’t just… turn off and follow it. Instead, if I stopped thinking my body simply didn’t move.
I pulled the tunic out and pulled it over my head. I’d never put clothes on before but everyone I knew except skelledog wore some of some sort. Getting it on was difficult but once it was over my head, I found it fit me perfectly. I pulled it on, and revelled in the warm sensation it provided, both to my body and my… my heart.
“Oh my god I have a heartbeat…” I whispered, shocked and delighted and disgusted all at once. Was this what I was supposed to look like? I felt so… wrong in my own body.
I stopped focusing on that, instead returning my attention to the tunic where I found a little banner following the tunic around like a reflection on the surface of a pool. I pressed it and it exploded into view.
Armor Class: Light Armor
“Go away!” I told it, and the strange reflective box immediately did as asked, vanishing into thin air. How dare it try to… categorize Bugbear’s memento!
Upon seeing it though, I couldn’t help but notice other reflective surfaces that were visible wherever I looked. A red cylinder along the right sight of my perspective that was filled with a red liquid that looked similar to the contents of my potion. Beneath it, a marker read “HP: 150/150.”
A blue bar on my left side held a similar liquid with a notice about MP. The left bar looked the same as the right one, but the numbers were much bigger: 380/380.
If I focused on the bars they became more visible, but if I ignored them, they would fade to near invisibility, just like me.
Wait… invisibility? My eyes widened, and I immediately tried to change my color. To my horror, the only things that changed were the glowing freckles that spotted my body. I could no longer turn invisible or fly!
The invaders were going to kill me. They were going to kill me so easily. I couldn’t hide! I couldn’t fly! What was I going to…?
Suddenly, I heard a growl behind me. The torches. The torches were red.
“Oh no… not now…” I murmured. Could invaders be here now!?
I turned and found Overbear standing at the entrance to the second floor cavern, my usual rebirth spot where I woke up after dying. He was growling his usual angry growl, but this time it wasn’t directed at the invaders.
He was growling at me.
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I'm Materia-Blade. I've been a long time fanfiction writer, and have recently decided to toss my hat into the original fiction arena. I love fantasy, sci-fi, and Lit-RPG's and have read hundreds of books from each genre.
My new story Artificial Jelly has released and is currently being pretty well received! Excited for it to hit trending! Thanks to those who support it, and me, and I hope it continues to impress!
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