Oren, by Oren the Otter

Story name: Oren
Author: Oren the Otter

Date: Late spring 706
Location: Metamor Keep

Overview

Oren from Hipocc turns into an otter-man after drinking from a magic pool, and moves to Metamor Keep with a new friend.

Summary

One day, in the land of Hipocc, Oren decides to quench his thirst by drinking from a lake, despite his friend Ana's warnings that the elders forbid drinking from it, as it is tainted by magic. The next morning, Oren finds himself making animal noises as he speaks. He is reluctant to visit the healer, as she is on the council of elders, but finally he reveals his crime. The elders are angry with him, but before they can pass judgment, he packs and sets out for a new home.

The next day, he finds his body starting to change, taking on more and more aspects of a humanoid otter. He uses his new instincts to catch fish. One night, he catches a tiny blue dragon stealing some of his fish. Oren takes pity and lets him eat. The dragon communicates with mental pictures; he introduces himself as a storehouse filled with corn, and so Oren names him Cornhall, or Gornul for short.

Meanwhile, at Metamor Keep, an unusual apartment starts constructing itself for a new occupant, catching the attention of several Keepers. By its special features and low ambient magic, they wonder what special sort of person could be coming to the Keep.

Oren is harrassed by villagers, who tell him to go back north to Metamor Keep. Intrigued, Oren gets directions and heads north. When the weather turns to rain, Gornul flies off, and Oren thinks that he has been abandoned. But Gornul soon returns with a kangaroo boy named Jesse. After a bit of sleep and warm stew, Jesse tells him that they are in a village not far from Metamor Keep. After another day of travel, he arrives in the evening at the Keep. The other Keepers are eager to meet their new arrival. By the end of the night, Oren no longer feels alone.

Characters

Main characters:

  • Oren: A former resident of Hippoc. He is a warrior and storyteller, although the Hipoccian elders disapprove of his storytelling. After drinking from a magic-infested pool, he randomly makes animal noises as he speaks, and slowly develops otter features. Because drinking from this lake is forbidden, he leaves Hipocc and eventually arrives in Metamor Keep.
    • As an otter morph, he keeps his long black hair and his body proportions.
    • He stops wearing his leggings, boots, and shirt as he transforms; when he arrives, he wears a vest, cuffs, a red cape, and blue underwear tastefully designed to look like swimwear. He carries a staff for fighting, a book of scriptures in his vest, and a new pair of baggy trousers that Jesse gave him, in a sack with his food.
    • As an otter, eggs make him drunk.
  • Gornul: A dragonette that speaks in pictures. He meets Oren on the road, and introduces himself as a storehouse filled with corn. "Corn Hall" is shortened to "Gornul".
    • He comes from a chain of tropical islands, and was blown off course by a violent storm.

Supporting characters:

  • Ana: Oren's friend.
  • Jesse: A farmer in Metamor Valley, a kangaroo boy.

Minor characters:

  • Nana: The healer of Hippoc and a village elder.
  • Timothy: The leader of Hippoc and an apostle of the Way.
  • Dove: Timothy's wife.
  • Bradfox: A gender-ambiguous resident of Metamor Keep.
  • Brian Coe: The healer of Metamor Keep.
  • Charles Matthias: A member of the Keep, and the first person to greet Oren.
  • Phil: A resident of the Keep and a friend of Matt.
  • Jesse's mother: A gendermorph.
  • The skunk guard at the gate.

Cameo:

Important mention:

  • Dana, Eric, Jon, Misha: Four other residents of Metamor Keep.

Referenced:

  • Nerr: Oren's father.
  • Bera: Ana's uncle.

Points of Interest

  • Oren's apartment contains an algae pond made from a Keep-built aqueduct, an oven with a perch for Gornul, and several empty bookshelves to be filled. There is little ambient magic inside.
  • Although the elders consider the magic pool to be dangerous, and the healer of Hippoc gives antimagic to try and cure it, it is later established in Heart-Is-True that Hipoccians are naturally resistant to magic.
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