A Shoving Match, by Chris O'Kane

Story name: A Shoving Match
Author: Chris O'Kane

Date: June 706 CR
Location: Metamor Keep

Overview

Varnal tries to take revenge against Misha, but ends up unlocking an unusual form for Misha.

Summary

In retaliation for Misha Brightleaf's murder of Furlin, Varnal decides to use a fetish stone against Misha. While Misha and Caroline are distracted by a band of Lutins, Varnal waits for an opening, and presses the stone against Misha's paw and activates it. He is startled when he feels the spell meet resistance; someone has fundamentally altered the curse. 500 miles away, Lord High Mage Brian Brightleaf screams as he feels somebody altering his spell on Misha. After a brief mental wizard's duel, he sends a blast of magic towards his opponent. He cuts off the connection immediately as he senses the original curse flaring up.

News of a magical attack on Misha passes back to Metamor Keep, where Wessex is begging Andre to tell him about what happened six years ago, when Misha sought a cure for the curse from his brother. Andre shares what he knows, that Misha came back a month later, bruised and violent, to grab weapons and supplies before running off to the north a few minutes later. After almost a year, he returned and acted like nothing had happened. Ever since, Misha has never been able to shift. Andre has never asked Misha about what happened, figuring he will tell him when he's ready.

Wessex and Andre then enter the courtyard to find out what happened to Misha. A huge crowd has gathered; Andre orders them to let him through, where they see Caroline talking to Raven, with a tied-up fox draped over a horse. Andre mistakes the fox for Misha, who waves from the other side of the horse. Wessex then notices the four fox feet behind the horse. Misha steps from the horse, revealing his new form: his regular morph from the waist up, with the body of a large red fox from the waist down. The other fox, Caroline explains, is the mage who attacked Misha. Wessex leads them all to his workshop to study it, passing Rickkter in the hallway.

After securing Varnal to a table, Wessex tries to get Misha to talk about the spell Brian cast, and Misha refuses. Caroline stays with Misha, while Raven, Andre, and Wessex sit outside and discuss their conclusions about the magic. Caroline lets them back in, and Wessex asks Misha to try shifting again; but instead of his anthro self, he changes to a normal four-legged fox. Misha yowls and leaps for joy, glad to be able to shift again, while Caroline fears that his mind is gone. Misha mischievously pushes her to the ground and continuously licks her, turning into a kiss as he shifts back to his morph body.

Some time later, Misha, Caroline, and Raven meet Sheleen in the courtyard, with Varnal in a cage. Raven has removed the stone, allowing Varnal to speak again, to Misha's surprise. Varnal demands to be freed, and Misha and Caroline share a laugh, for Varnal has been sentenced for three years of imprisonment.

Characters

Main characters:

  • Varnal: One of Nasoj's mages. He uses one of the Lutin's fetish stones on Misha, but it backfires and sticks to him instead, turning him into a fox. Duke Thomas sentences him to be imprisoned for three years, though he is sometimes taken out for fresh air.
  • Misha: A fox morph and Long Scout. He is turned into a fox-taur, but he shifts back to his morph form afterwards.
    • 6 months after the Battle, Misha heard that his brother had a cure for the curse, and visited him. 1 month later, he briefly returned to the Keep, battered and worn and with a bloody wound on his wrist, only to grab his weapons and armor and head north. Almost one year later, around Christmas, Misha saved one of the Keep patrols from a Lutin attack. He refuses to talk about what happened to other people; only Caroline knows in the end.
    • After his brother altered the curse, Misha was unable to shift forms, until the curse was altered again by Varnal's spell.
    • Misha's taur form is pony sized. In this form, he wears a chain mail shirt.

Supporting:

  • Brian Brightleaf: Misha's brother, Lord High Mage of a kingdom in the Midlands, and one of the most powerful mages in the world. He prevents Varnal's magic from working, instead forcing it back onto Varnal himself.
    • His full name is Sir Brian Archer Hamilton Brightleaf. His titles include count of Fairbourgh, Marquis of Dalany, and hero of Tarnum. He has black hair. He wears a long blue and gold silk robe fringed with lace, a belt carrying a sword in a gold scabbard, and numerous gold rings. He also wears a gold and silver torc around his neck to mark him as a magic user.
    • In 700 CR, 6 months after the Battle, he altered Misha's curse in some way, leaving him unable to shift forms. Wessex speculates that Brian tried to add the ability to shift human to the curse.
  • Caroline: Misha's lover. She learns about Misha's experiences with Brian and in the north, though she does not share them.
  • Andre: A wolverine morph, a captain of the guard, and Misha's closest friend. He was present at the Battle of the Three Gates, and when Misha returned from Brian.
  • Wessex: A child morph, and a wizard specializing in foreign magic. He has been interested in a long time about a cure for the curse, specifically the rumor that Misha's brother had a cure.
    • Misha threw Wessex against a wall at one point for asking about his visit to Brian.
  • Raven: The Lightbringer of the Keep. She identifies the fetish stone and removes it from Varnal.

Minor characters:

  • Sheleen: A child morph. She becomes one of Varnal's caretakers.

Cameo:

  • Baron Alexander Mallory: He gives weekly speeches to the king on his barony's economic status, which are always long and boring speeches.
  • King Williams: The king whom Brian works for.
  • Rickkter: He is briefly passed in the hallway, bewildered by Misha's new form.

Important mention:

  • Furlin: Another of Nasoj's mages, recently killed by Misha. He was Varnal's chief rival, being more talented than he.

Referenced:

  • Christopher: A bear morph and a tutor of the Keep. He had been transformed by a similar fetish stone in Fetish.
  • Nasoj: The enemy wizard of the north.

Locations

  • King Williams's kingdom, where Brian Brightleaf lives, is about 500 miles from Metamor Keep.

Story Connections

Points of interest

  • This is the first appearance of the taur form.
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