“Monster!” The owner of the store screamed pointing at you and soon the screams are being replicated through the village. Torches were lit and an alarm bell wailed.
You raised your hands in a signal of peace, but the sight of your large claws only made the peasant run away screaming for his life. You looked around desperate for help, knowing that with some luck the blessing of a priest could undo these curses, but all you can see is the angry and scared faces of the villagers hiding inside their houses, desperately clutching their farming tools.
The first arrow landed just near your feet, shot by a shaking soldier wearing only a shoddy uniform and a couple pieces of old, dinged metal armor. Behind him stood at least a dozen militia carrying their shabby weapons with rusted blades and dented shields. There were even a couple of enthusiastic old veterans carrying their swords after way too many years only holding the hoe.
You wanted to try and explain, and maybe that would have worked if your voice didn’t come out like a low roar and clicks that had little resemblance to any human tongue. You wanted some time to think and find a way to just make sense of everything that was happening. But the villagers kept coming closer, their weapons looking suddenly way too sharp and their eyes way too murderous.
You took a deep breath and smelled their cold fear, then exhaled some of your humanity.
You jump to your feet and hit the ground running, bare feet slapping against the wet soil as you raced out of the village chased off by the angry mob.
Your body carried with amazing speed. Too light, too strong. Effortlessly you closed the distance to the village gate and forced it open. The log holding it closed shattered.
With you outside of the village the peasants broke their pursuit, no one felt brave enough to venture into the forest in the middle of night. They were sure that either you would end up as prey to some of the strange creatures that lived in the forest or as a trophy to the monster hunters. Either way, you weren’t their problem anymore.
The dark forest, once a place of so much fear and darkness, was now welcoming. The smells were known to you, their identities revealed to you in a haze of half-remembered memories that weren’t yours, at least not yet.
These were simple desires, your instincts. So much easier now, not? Just let them guide you, awaken your more deep, feral needs.
So much easier now to let go of all humanity, in the forest you can truly connect with your instincts, feeling them flow through your blood. They grow in power, they become a part of you.
Eyes again struggling to focus, you blink hard, trying to find something to focus on. Your feet give up under you, spasming as muscles and tendons weaved themselves anew.
Your body unfurls with a series of creaks and pops, you breath in the cold air and let out a roar. From the base of your spine bone grew, quickly tied by tendons and muscles into two long and thick tails that ended in bony spikes.
Your head turned in a neck that was now too long, more flexible too. Your tails lashed wildly, hit the trees with impressive strength, dark scales now covering them until they seemed to disappear in the night.
Ideas and concepts unfolded into your mind, pushing back against your humanity. Images pulsed and formed into coherence, the knowledge you needed to move your tails, to move your new muscles.
And it grows inside of you, this understanding of your body, the understanding of your very soul. Accepting it all just makes it easier, your legs grow stronger, your scales become thicker, your muscles grow with power.
When there was no conflict, you felt the euphoria.
There’s a beastly beauty in your body, a fascinating and terrible strength in every move. Your dark scales shine even under the dim moonlight, your slitted green eyes can pierce the darkness, and your snout picked up the reverie of smells of the forest.
You are a Hydra, the word becomes you, a creature of destructive power and incredible regeneration.
Your eyes snapped open with newfound understanding, you change your posture letting your body walk on all fours as it should from the beginning. Covered in dark scales, you are a part of the night, your eyes make even the dim light of the moon enough to hunter prey. Your reptilian body wiry with corded muscles under your scales, deceitfully agile and dreadfully strong.
Your forepaws had four fingers ending in long claws, one of them in opposition to the other three; your hind paws had three fingers that came to blunt claws, with a backward-facing, razor-sharp dewclaw. Your neck was long, serpentine, it gave you a better view of the forest and agile enough to track a hummingbird in flight.
Something large stood in front of you, attracted by all the noise and the strange smells. It smelled acrid, acidic, corrupted. It was once a wolf, large and imponent, but now corrupted by the arcane filthy coming out of the human’s settlements. Already half-dead, a parody of life with bony spines growing out of pestilent wounds on its back and his mouth is full of large fangs that drip with unclean blood. You felt its pain even as you felt its rage.
Written by Ashley Natter on 04 April 2021