The lone tower sat amidst an eerily silent clearing. The thief knelt, hidden behind blackened trees as she watched for movement.
Moonlight streamed down, the lines of silver highlighting lazily floating wisps. Reaching down, the thief placed two fingers against the charred earth at the edge of the clearing. The ground was brittle, as if the earth itself was a giant scab surrounding the tilted tower.
The thief rocked back, carefully pulling her dappled gray and green hood back to expose shoulder-length brown hair. She wrinkled her nose at the harsh smell surrounding her. It was alien to her and the closest she could place it was rotten oil mixed with a sharp, electric taste. The thief swallowed so she wouldn’t gag.
Before her, the tower itself pierced the ground, centered within the devastation that leveled the forest surrounding it. Its disappearance had been an amazing sight to behold. She’d been outside the keep, slipping out of a minor lord’s mansion when a bright flash of light from the castle had nearly blinded her. Anchoring herself to the ledge, she’d rubbed her eyes until the sparks cleared from her vision. When she could see again, a gate tower was missing. Even from a distance, she could see where the stone was sheared cleanly. A few seconds later, she heard a thunderclap and a blast of hot air followed behind it.
She’d planned to leave shortly after robbing the mansion but, instead found her curiosity piqued. The village buzzed with rumors and theories. Common folk believed it was a sign from the Lord of Silence. That the king had angered the Lord in some way and His hand was moved to show a sign of His displeasure.
Priests wallowed in the talk, setting themselves up at nearly every corner to preach about the fury of the Three and the laws with which they governed the world. Offering bowls were, of course, beside each priest and their speeches were peppered with wails of frustration over the state of their churches and how displeased the Three were with their paltry altars. Something that, no doubt, could be fixed with coin.
It’d taken her own money in the right hands to find out the truth it of. The king’s pet wizard had found his leash being tightened too far and appearing too similar to a noose. Rather than see if the leash would be hung on a high rafter, he’d left, taking his entire tower with him.
Tracking it down had been difficult but farmers and shepherds tended to notice when fields and forests are burned. Especially if a young shepherd and his flock don’t return to his parents due to being obliterated by the sudden appearance of a massive stone structure.
No sentries roamed the grounds but lights filled the various openings along the rounded walls. She scanned them carefully, waiting for shadows to pass while her ears strained to catch hints of the wizard’s presence. When she found no signs of a disturbance, she pulled her cloak tight against her body and then reached into a small pouch at her waist.
A single ring lay within the pouch. She pulled it free, turning it in her fingers as she contemplated what it had cost. Over half the profit she’d made from raiding the lord’s mansion had gone to purchase it . During her entire career, she’d sworn off of using magic items. She’d traveled with others who used artifacts freely but their very existence made her skin crawl.
Yet, here she was. The ring was crystalline with sharp edges that twisted along its length. It caught the moonlight and seemed to bend the light while slicing it into fragments of subdued green hues on the ground before her.
She hadn’t tried it on yet but she’d trusted her seller. Mostly. An earlier scouting trip showed no good stealthy approach to the tower and she had no idea what she would be up against once inside. The job was built on speed – on being the first into plunder what she could find. She couldn’t wait for others to explore and provide intelligence.
Her hand shook but she took a deep breath, forcing her eyes open as she slid the ring over her gloved finger.
As soon as the ring encircled her finger, she vanished. Her eyes widened as light seemed to pass through her and she stumbled backwards in surprise. She’d been told what to expect but to watch it happen still startled her.
While falling, she caught sight of her outline. Colors swirled, showing the scenery around her in a delayed fashion until she sat still to blend into the trees and underbrush surrounding her. She moved her arm experimentally, steadying her hand. Moving too fast caused the ghosting effect but when she slowed, she found herself to be almost invisible.
The thief pulled the ring free and she reappeared as soon the inner edge wasn’t touching her finger. Exhaling in relief, she slipped the ring back on and then crept forward in a crouch, constantly watching her outline. The effect of it was both mesmerising and stomach wrenching at once – her proprioception felt wrong despite how much she relied on her instincts and reflexes.
When she finally made it to the large, iron-banded oak door at the base of the tower, she pulled herself up and flattened herself against the stones surrounding it. She reached to lift her hood up and back over her hair despite the magic of the ring.
With the tower canted, the door was cracked open, unable to completely close. She turned to peek through the door, leaning to see as much as possible. The room was lit but empty aside from a bookshelves covered with tomes. Steps set against the inside wall spiraled up to the floor above.
She slid sideways to press her right foot and hand against the inside of the heavy door. With her back to the wall, she grunted quietly and pushed until the door opened enough for her to slip inside.
Once inside, she slowly glanced down her body to ensure she still blended into her surroundings. Despite the warm light provided by red stones dangling from rope netting, she could see the wall behind her and the flooring beneath her feet.
Ancient floorboards creaked as she crept through the large room. She quickly moved to step on the ends of the boards, trusting the beams below to silence her steps until she reached the stairs. At the base of the first step, she knelt and began her ascent until she stopped to peer into the room above.
A shadow detached from the wall beside a large bookshelf in the room below her. Indistinct arms and legs formed before vanishing to oily black smoke. It seemed surprised to be awake and it turned slowly, questing for the source of its disturbance. Finding none, it expected to be pulled back into slumber but was frustrated when it remained awake.
The shadow floated through the room, carefully searching before it approached the stairs
Yes! the thief silently shouted with glee.
The second floor was as barren as the first and she’d had to continue to the third before finding anything of interest. A fortune in gems were strewn haphazardly around the room. She found herself disgusted by the apparent disregard of the displayed wealth but her excitement pushed everything aside.
As carefully as possible, she stepped into the room, eyeing the interior for guards. The emptiness of the tower was beginning to bother her and she felt the urge to leave rising. The only thing that kept her moving was the thought that the teleportation of the tower had perhaps left nothing for him to summon magical guardians. Or, better yet, that the wizard was dead and the removal of the tower was an emergency procedure.
Regardless, she stood, raising herself slowly while grabbing the empty satchel at her side.
A low growl formed in the back of the shadow’s insubstantial throat as it finished surveying the second floor. It was weary – always weary – but the oath binding it to this realm continued to hold it in place. Faint lines of magic floated in the room but, as it concentrated on them, the residual magic of the tower interfered. It turned towards the stairs and began to climb, feeling for the foreign threads of magic.
The lead was lost as it rose to the third floor. Powerful energies churned in the room, drowning out everything else. It turned, searching for any hints of-
An emerald rose from a wooden cup in the middle of a small table. It flew in a slow, purposeful arc until it vanished in mid-air. The creature focused its energies on the table, the coal mist within its core agitated by its frustrations.
Another gem lifted away from the cup – a translucent gem with a faint violent tint. It hovered and turned. As the gem turned, the room’s light filtered through it to show light gray coloring.
The shadow focused further, sharpening its vision as the gem followed the path of the first. It painted a moving picture in the air, showing clothing as if a finger dragged along a steam-covered mirror to reveal the person standing before it.
A thief! the shadow creature snarled.
As she moved to a new table, the thief felt the hairs raise on the nape of her neck. Years of honed instincts took hold and she dove to the side when a fist whistled through the air above her. Gems spilled from her bag, scattering along the ground.
The thief came up in a crouch to spy the indistinct shape of a brute, it’s form hidden in swirling black mists. Two red sparks near the top of the creature’s body followed her movements. She secured the satchel, feeling the weight of it against her hips. Even with what she’d lost, she retained far more than she’d thought she’d find.
With a glance toward the stairs, she tensed, readying to leap past the creature. Somehow, it expected her movement and it flowed toward her, it’s heavy foot crashing against her chest as she tried to turn to the side. She gasped as she slammed back against the floor and the breath came with a sharp pain.
Move! Move! she yelled at herself, pushing herself to hands and knees.
A pillar of smoke billowed in the air next to her face. Time slowed as she watched it descend. She could feel the weight of it, as if it pulled at the very fabric of reality next to her. Wisps of coal-black tendrils broke away from the appendage as it screamed through the air with unnatural speed.
Her eyes widened in horror as she tried to snatch her hand out of its path but it proved too fast for her and she flinched away from the expected crunch of bones and flesh.
Instead, her hand flattened and the ring she wore bore the weight of the creature. She hissed from between clenched teeth as the clear ring bent. And then she screamed when it shattered, piercing her glove to embed crystal fragments within her skin.
A painful ‘womp’ filled the air as pressure knocked her to her side and she slid across the rough wooden floor. The thief looked up in time to see the tiny red sparks of the shadow creature brighten in surprise. The magical outburst from her ring forced the mist away from its form, revealing a tiny black pebble within.
She swore she heard a sigh as the small stone clattered to the ground.
Loud ringing filled the thief’s ears as she lay on her side, gasping for air. Finally, she pulled herself up and yanked away her tattered glove to reveal bruised and bloodied fingers. She could feel the shards buried deep in her fingers but knew she had no time to worry about the damage it caused.
Indeed, as she looked her finger over, her left eye turned independently to see smoke lazily gathering around the dark pebble. Her head throbbed as it tried to reconcile the two separate images into one until something new formed within her brain and could concentrate on the images separately.
The thief’s left eye swiveled back to her hand and they both widened in shock. The flesh over her wounds was reknitting, healing as she watched. Rather than the light pink she expected, the new flesh was fish-belly white. But, as she turned her hand to marvel at it, she noted that the skin was pearlescent. It reflected a multitude of colors as she twisted her hand back and forth.
Pressure built behind the thief’s eyes as they began to bulge from her skull. Her eyelids hardened and the flesh cracked as they were dragged outward. The striated flesh formed lumps in circular patterns around her pupils. They lightened to a white coloring that matched her scarred hand as her sclera darkened beneath them. The bulging eyelids grew over her distended eyes, growing thicker as a faint green coloring filled them. They shrunk to a pinhole over her eyes and orange lines appeared in thick lines from the outside of her eyelids to the inner rings.
Her left eye swiveled once again towards the pebble. Smoke curled beneath it, lifting it into the air to wobble with uncertainty.
Fresh pain brought her eyes forward and she gasped, falling to her ass. She gripped her right wrist as spasms wracked her hand. She could feel muscles writhing within. Her mouth dropped open as her thumb began to lengthen. The thief pushed at it, desperately trying to stop it moving until her left hand flared in matching agony.
As her thumbs grew to match the length of her index finger, the bones and muscles holding it in place moved, pressing it against her pointer finger. At the same time her pinky and ring fingers rotated, the skin splitting between her index and ring finger as her hand separated.
“Gods!” the woman screamed, kicking back. Her skin split and stretched, pink fading to the strange white of the healed skin on her right hand. Dead white flesh grew up between her fingers, binding them into two large but indistinct groupings.
The thief tried to scream again but, instead, gagged as her tongue thickened in her mouth to press against her uvula. She could feel it against the roof of her mouth, slick and sticky and oppressively large.
When she tried screaming again, her tongue lashed out, unfurling into a glossy length that speared a loose sapphire. The gem stuck to her strange new tongue as it pulled back into her mouth and she coughed, spitting the red stone out. Two of her teeth followed behind it.
“Goodsh, nooo!” the woman slurred, pressing her strange hands against her temples. She leaned forward with a moan. Her head pounded with pain and pressure built in her skull. Her nostrils burned as her brow expanded, dragging at the skin – stretching it until it was as white as her hands. To the side of her head, her ears pulled back, flattening against her skull as strands of brown hair fell to the ground around her.
Oddly, her expanding skull relieved the throbbing pressure of her swollen eyes but the relief was small as her expanded brows began to grow into a large crests above her elongated face. Her tongue continued to grow as it filled the new space provided. More teeth clattered to the ground, pushed free from her widening maw and tiny, sharp fangs pierced her gums to replace them.
The thief fell forward, her split, clamp-like hands opening to lay flat beneath her. She groaned, pressing her back into the air above her. Her jerkin and the gray shirt beneath pulled tight against her chest, forming themselves to her large breasts.
She twisted her head back and forth as the skin beneath her chin began to sag.
A single stitch popped against her side. She felt as if someone had dug their fingers into her body, dragging her flesh up and back with harsh movements. Another stitch popped when her back expanded, the bones of her spine lengthening above her as the spine itself was pushed outward into a wide ridge.
The young woman kneeled back, pulling at the clothes digging into her flesh. She spread her thighs to sit with her ass against the floor and the bones of her hips throbbed. As she tugged and pulled with her awkward fingers, her nails dragged against her skin. They came free bloodlessly to reveal the tips of claws at the ends of her fingers.
She strained and pulled and her biceps swelled, muscles forming beneath her skin. Readying her for bearing the weight of her body for climbing.
Her clothing tore and she cried out, flinging them to the side as her breasts shook. There was pressure all over her body, pushing against her. Her own body felt like it was straining against itself. The girl’s skin grew white as it stretched and then took on the strange shimmering color she’d first noticed on her right hand.
Sweat dripped down her torso as she reached behind herself to feel the rough skin of her back. Her back curved and then grew to a long, wide ridge. She felt the length of it and then groaned as it continued to grow down, bones shifting against her ass. Pulling and tugging and twisting.
The girl hugged her sides as she shook from the change. Her waist was on fire. She clawed at her hips, holding them as if to halt the process but, instead, she felt the flesh beneath moving as her bones widened her waist. Muscle and fat grew beneath her ass and her tailbone snapped with a loud crack. Her trousers bit into her side at the sudden growth.
Exhausted, the young thief let her thick, fleshy tongue dangle while she gasped for breath. Her breasts, always larger than she’d wanted, seemed to pull against her body. She could feel the soft, sensitive sweat-slick skin of her tits sliding against each other as they expanded and she brought her tongue back into her mouth, humming in repressed pleasure as she felt them grow.
Movement grabbed her attention and her left eye again swiveled to see the pebble consumed with dark shadows. It twisted in the air, small yet but still growing.
Something touched the thief’s ass and she screamed, twisting to see who was there. Seeing nobody but still feeling the pressure against her body, she reached back, her hands grabbing at the lump of skin straining against her trousers.
The tip of her tail flexed and curled into itself as it grew forth. It lengthened but her trousers contained it, forcing it down. Between her thighs. She gasped and shivered as the narrowed tip slipped between her pussy lips.
Unable to contain herself, the thief moaned. The tail grew quickly, its thickness forcing her thighs apart as it continued to rub and slide against her clit and steadily swelling labia. She reached for the strings of her pants, pulling and slicing with claws until they were loose. Her heart pounded and her mouth hung open as she tried to free herself, to stop the tail from accidentally pleasuring her.
Bumps began to form on her tail as the new skin dried and grew. She screamed once more, in furious pleasure, as those bumps relentlessly slid against her sex. Frantic now, she kicked and pulled at her trousers until she sat naked, save for her boots.
The thief’s enormous tailed unfurled behind her, finally granting her some relief. Her thighs, thick now with her still-changing body, were coated with her arousal.
The girl looked down her body. The dead-white skin covering her was darkening into a mossy green color. She shivered, her whole body shaking as a chill ran over her extended spine. In response, gooseflesh stood out against her skin. It grew in patches and waves, small and medium sized nodules that gave her body a distinct textured appearance.
The sensation of her skin changing felt like a million kisses covering her body at once. She moaned and then gasped, curling into a ball as it consumed her. Her tail, still growing, slipped between her thighs and she grabbed it as if it were a raft in a raging storm. The bumps formed a pattern of emerald and chartreuse that covered her entire body.
Bones clicked and screeched and scraped in her feet. Knowing what approached the thief reached down to pull her boots from her feet.
Cramps struck the thief’s feet, curling her toes and she nipped at the end of her tail to distract herself from the pain. Her toes dragged against the ground as they all lengthened. While they moved, the three outside toes of each foot pulled to the side. The feeling of her bones rearranging was maddening but she endured, squeezing her bulbous eyes shut as her hands clamped against her tail. Her biceps bulged as she strained against the pain.
She reached out, stretching her legs as the aches slowly began to fade. Her thighs bulged with dense muscle but an odd sensation distracted her. Instead of curling her toes at the end of the stretch, she felt new, complex muscles where the arch of her foot should be. She pushed and pulled at the new muscles and the stretched toes of her feet opened and closed.
The girl lay on the floor, her head pounding. Her entire body itched. She released her tail and rubbed herself against the rough floor, hissing in satisfaction as the wood scratched against her tough skin. Her tail lashed out, twisting and turning on its own until she turned to her stomach to rub the length of her body against the ground.
Instead, she froze in a panic.
The shadow creature was nearly completely formed. Light flared at the top of its head. Two reddened sparks blazed to life and it began to turn as if orienting itself.
The thief’s right eye kept watch on the shadow creature as her left frantically searched the room for the closest exit. An opening lay high above a table to her left, to the side of the stairs leading to the fourth floor. She wasn’t sure of her new body but knew that if she stayed a moment longer, it would attack.
She readied herself to leap but the shadow creature moved away from her. It floated around the room, pausing at her torn clothes before moving to the stairs. She watched, incredulously, as it began to move up the stairs.
Looking down, she saw why – she couldn’t see herself. One of her eyes glanced up to ensure the creature was gone. Seeing that it was, she moved. And still couldn’t see herself.
The thief carefully and awkwardly pulled herself to a standing position, her two groups of thick toes splayed out in an angle. She waved her heavily muscled arm in front of her crested, ridged head but the invisibility still held.
And then she felt it. Within her core, along her back, she could feel a light pulling sensation as if she were holding a weight. And was growing tired from the heft of it. With curious, careful prodding, she found she could release it and, once done, she immediately appeared.
Her massive tail pulled at her lower back but her leg muscles shifted to compensate as she moved. Glancing up at the ceiling, she made a decision. As quietly as possible, she retrieved her satchel and gathered the loose gemstones before slinging the bag over her neck. She walked to the wall beneath the opening and then grabbed at the rough bricks lining the wall.
Although she half-expected to fail, her grip was powerful and she instinctively grabbed at a lower brick on the wall with her foot. With a final backwards glance at the stairs, she climbed the wall and struggled through the opening.
The cool night air thrilled her naked body until she made the mistake of looking down. Squeezing her eyes shut, she began to climb down, lowering herself with surprising speed as her hands and feet found exposed stones with accuracy.
As soon as she touched the ground, she ran with an awkward loping gait. She only allowed herself time to relax when she reached the trees and, even then, one eye turned to watch the tower.
This. This is what I get for using magic, she chided herself. Never again. Never. Again.
She patted the full satchel at her side as she began to pick her way through the forest. A village was nearby and she was fairly certain her skillset and new abilities would allow her to steal some poor woman’s clothing. And then she had a certain magical artifact seller to track down and have a word with.
While she walked, her tail curled and uncurled as she imagined herself strangling him with it until he turned her back.
Although, she thought to herself. Enhanced climbing and true invisibility would be awfully useful. Maybe…