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Changeling (Worm/Eberron)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Bailey Matutine, May 13, 2019.

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  1. Threadmarks: 0
    Bailey Matutine

    Bailey Matutine (Verified Pooka)

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    In my dreaming state, I was barely aware of the clatter of dice. A voice I can’t describe read the results out loud. The responses back were rich melted chocolate in a language I do not know, with creamy vanilla syntax and just a hint of almond punctuation. Fourteen, eighteen, sixteen, the indescribable voice intoned, one after another. Twelve, ten, sixteen. There was a fluttering of paper and the scratch of a pencil. The responding voice seemed to ask for an acknowledgement, but I didn’t know what was wanted of me. A cayenne question ripped its way through my skull and I passed out. I don’t know what the question was, or the answer, but I can’t help worrying that I was wrong.

    That was a week before my story truly starts. Oh, you could focus on the week in between, a starving amnesiac wretch hiding a disfigured grey face to beg on the street corner without accruing over much attention from the gangs. That wasn’t really story though. It was just things happening, one after another. A story has a beginning, and this one begins in an alley, when I coughed up a dull grey rock, and the world changed. Not the whole world perhaps, but mine at least. I felt myself fill with an energy, and I felt a certainty that I was more than any one myself. Other mes danced at the back of my mind, ready to come forth and let me be myself in them, if only I could imagine them.

    More things happened, things that weren’t the story but should be mentioned. I experimented with my energy, and I found that my abilities could be classified in a few ways. There were things my body could do, like take on any face, grow and shrink, mimic clothing, form weapons, knit wounds, and rearrange itself. There were things my energy could do if focused and expended in the right place, like knit the wounds of others, improve my voice, replace contaminants in water with more desirable ones, or pin a shadow in place. There were things that a whisper of energy could accomplish in the right place, like allow me to see the energy I used and that was in that dull grey stone, create any card straight out of my imagination, set small objects to floating around my head if I focused the energy through the stone first, mend small objects, or a host of smaller effects.

    Finally, there was what my tattoo could do. On my shoulder there sat a tattoo in purple and blue watercolor. Surrounded by angry red flesh, it whispered secrets of anatomy to me if I listened, and held enough energy to double my size once a day, even beyond the expansion my body could manage on its own. It took me time to get a mirror set up where I could see the tattoo clearly, and when I did, I was filled with foreboding. Ω, the end.

    I ignored my tattoo as best I could, wearing clothes and faces that covered it up, and drinking to drown out the whispers. I shoplifted for meal bars under a variety of guises, and when my twelve pints a day proved inadequate to silence my tattoo, I stole a set of paints from a charity toy drive and began painting tourists on the backs of cardboard soda boxes that I liberated from the recycling behind a grocer. At my tattoo’s urging, I painted their bones and their muscles, ignoring the distraction of their skins. My morbid art drew clients, and soon I was buying hard liquor. Time passed in a haze until I was kicked awake.

    “Hey freak, this is our territory now. No capes.”

    I blinked owlishly, as a bell was rung and a memory tried to connect through my hangover. “Edna?”

    “I ain’t your granny. Move it, freak, or we’ll kill you. We’ve been watching awhile. We know what you can do and we can take you down with just a couple bullets.”

    “I what?” The morning was not a kind one. Pounding competed with whispers for control of my head, while the two men who kicked me awake tried to take control of my attention. Something had to give.

    “You change your face and you have some kinda X-Ray vision. Neither is good in a fight, and we don’t want scum like you around, taking money from real artists who practiced to be able to draw.”

    The thing that gave was my patience. “You made a few mistakes,” I said with a veneer of calm, my muscles beginning to swell, and my fingers twisting into claws. “My face isn’t the only thing I can change, and I don’t have X-Ray vision. Oh, and you can’t take me down with two bullets.”

    Then there was blood, and only some of it was mine. By the time I looted the bodies, I wasn’t bleeding at all.
     
  2. easlyamused

    easlyamused Getting sticky.

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    Interesting and well written. I like D&D so I'll watch, I'm guessing 3.5 rules because of the Eberron tag.
     
  3. Threadmarks: 1.1
    Bailey Matutine

    Bailey Matutine (Verified Pooka)

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    I walked down to the beach to wash off. My clothes changed with me, but they reverted when I did and I needed a new set with fewer holes. I wore the face of the second man, as his was more intact when I finished and thus more easily studied. This early, this early, the crowd was small. The light too dim and the air too cold to be the draw it would be in later weeks and hours. I had a fair amount of privacy as I removed the dried on blood from my face.

    A whisper of energy cleaned my clothes but my memory made them feel grimy. I found a coffee cart and I paid in nickels so the woman running it would remember the dead man’s face. I found a security camera near a park bench and I sat to enjoy the breeze. My tattoo informed me that if my claws had struck two centimeters higher then the first tough would have died four seconds faster. I added whiskey to my coffee.

    The surf shop opened and I wandered in. The cashier who opened beheld me fearfully. I ignored him. This was not my fear. I meandered down the aisle, glancing at the cameras. The racks were full of clothes that would have been adequate for the dead man’s body, but I was looking for something that would fit my base form, to better change with me. It took a bit of looking, but I was able to put together an outfit that I judged would likely fit. They didn’t have any underwear. A bikini to go underneath, a rash guard and long skirt for warmth, and a nice pair of sandals for my feet. I got a backpack, a towel, a wide hat, and sunglasses, the better to be ignored when my face was grey. I ignored the sign that said no 50s or 100s. When I told him to keep the change, the cashier did too.

    A brief stop at the public restroom had me coming out looking much the same, but with an emptier backpack. A walk through an alley was the last anyone would see my attacker. I walked out the other end as just another tourist. I passed a young woman jogging and my tattoo whispered to me about the four chambers of a heart. My whiskey was empty, and the liquor store wasn’t open yet. I went to the convenience store to buy a six-pack, and got a box of chalk while I was there. I also got a big reusable water bottle, and I filled it up so I could drink in the park. I let the whispers out through my chalk and into the sidewalk, a fully functional cardiovascular system taking life in two dimensions.

    A young couple dropped a few bills in my open backpack. One of them had a limp in his right leg from where he blew out his knee once and it never healed right. My tattoo whispered to me about how he should have treated it to keep his full mobility. I breathed with relief. A group in scrubs walked by and admired the accuracy of my work. I escaped their questions without further incident.

    I dreamed that night. It was honestly more of a nightmare than a dream but to nightmare is not a verb according to the OED. Someone was calling my name. He was my father. I don’t know either of our names or what he looks like but I knew in the dream. In the dream I was dying. I was seated upside down, strapped to a soft chair. I was crying and my mother was dead. My father was on the other end of a phone. I’d been holding it but it was on the ceiling above me, my long hair pooling around it as blood dripped up my face. “—lor!” I was awake.

    As the dream faded I clung to the one syllable I had. My tattoo soothed me by cataloging my mother’s injuries. She likely died without pain. I was grateful and envious. I checked my surroundings. The alley was as I left it; clean, neat, bodies disposed of. In the night my dull grey stone had worked its way loose of my purse and begun circling my head again. I recaptured it and tucked the sphere away again. I thought I could see a gleam of color in the center but it was my imagination or a memory no longer true. I thought about my mother again but I couldn’t remember her and I cried.

    I have a name now, or at least part of a name. It might not be much but it’s mine. “Call me Lauren,” I try out. I don’t know if that sounds right. Maybe I’ll just stick to the one syllable I know is true. Maybe I’ll try all the variations I can. Maybe I am all the variations. I wonder if my father thinks I’m dead. Would I know him if I saw him? Maybe I am dead. I don’t have time to be dead. I have to… do something. It’s hard to think. Maybe I’ll think better after I buy some more rum. I age my face again. They never card me when I’m wrinkled.
     
    darthdavid, BomeranG, Lydia and 9 others like this.
  4. gammoregan

    gammoregan I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I don't know D&D well enough to know what this person is or their abilities and I find it slightly frustrating. Still, the story is enjoyable even though it's still in the introduction.
     
    Nilphreleous likes this.
  5. torac

    torac Making the rounds.

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    Would have preferred an OC, but this is nice. Having a non-canon background and goal (finding out about herself) will already be interesting.
     
    BomeranG likes this.
  6. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    An addicted alco Case 53?

    Interesting.
     
  7. corndogman

    corndogman Journeyman Munchkin

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    Taylor as a sort-of Case 53? And as a changeling, as well.

    I can work with this.
     
  8. Threadmarks: 1.2
    Bailey Matutine

    Bailey Matutine (Verified Pooka)

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    The person in front of me won’t stop talking to the cashier. Who cares about making alcohol taste good? Just buy your gallon of everclear, let me buy mine, and we’ll each go home and drown everything out. Don’t blather about your coffee grounds and cocoa nibs. Stop talking about the tincture method of making bitters. He won’t do it though. He just has to keep talking. He’s a he right now, I’m pretty sure. He changed three times during this conversation, as near as I can tell. Not a full change the way I can. His voice and manner gave way to hers, though. I’m tempted to talk to-- her again-- about it, but I have a lot of important drinking to do, and I don’t want her to tell me about how I’m doing it wrong.

    “Listen, young woman, can you flirt with him later? I’d like to buy this but you’re hoarding his attention.”

    The woman with the pretty goatee and the cashier look at me in stunned shock. I realize I said this out loud. They take in my face and I see them decide that I’m old and impatient. I hand him three twenties. He cheats me on my change but I don’t start a fight. If I aimed for his previously dislocated shoulder I would win. I take a swig. It doesn’t help as much as it did. I know exactly what this poison is doing to me. It’s better than knowing how to kill.

    The walk back to my hiding place is quick. Another drink and I put it away. It tastes terrible. Maybe making a tisane out of it would help, as the other flexible person said. I go to the grocery store. Ginger root and a bag of oranges don’t cost much. I buy them and I buy a pound of salami. I tell them to slice it thin. The slices are like paper and I eat twelve on my way back. I take an orange out. My claws make quick work of the peel and the pieces are pushed into the bottle while I eat the wedges.

    Oranges taste good. I eat all of them. I sip a little off the top to make all of their peels fit. I stare at it and sip some more. I rend the ginger with my claws and I shove the pulp down the bottle’s neck. A human’s neck is softer and more malleable. More finesse and less force would be required to match the feat on a person. I take another sip. The orange is already cutting the harshness.

    Once my loot is in hiding again, I go out to the park. I can’t draw people like this. My tattoo is quiet. I draw a sunset on the handball wall. I use up my pink and orange chalk but I can get more. I put a purse on the ground when I start. By the time I finish I have another two-hundred dollars. Three more bills are pressed into my hand as I leave. Today is a good day. There are strange men standing around watching me as I draw. Without word, they follow me for three blocks when I leave. Today is a bad day.

    They follow me into my alley. I do not want them here. There is a fourth man waiting in the alley. He is wearing a mask. “Can I help you gentlemen?” A fifth person detaches from the shadows by my dumpster, a mask on her face as well. “And lady,” I amend.

    “We’re here to collect taxes,” she says. “We’d consider it a kindness if you didn’t make us kill you for it. For staying in our territory, we need five hundred dollars from you. On top of that, however, some men in my employ disappeared right in this very alley. I’d been having some problems with them going off and doing things they weren’t supposed to, but they were mine, you understand,” she continues. “For that, we’re going to need something extra.”

    I blink at her. I don’t understand. “I have two hundred and,” I check. “Thirty-one dollars.”

    “That’s a shame,” she says, “it really is. A fine young,” she stops for a second, looking me up and down before she continues on. “Person such as yourself, so hard down on your luck. Johnny, isn’t that just a shame?”

    One of the men behind me speaks up. “Uh, yeah Shock, it’s a shame is what it is.”

    “See? It’s a shame to see someone in a position such as yourself,” she continues. “Now, Awe here and I, we have a couple of options. We could let this go, we could, but that just wouldn’t be fair to everyone else who pays their taxes, would it? We could take the difference out of your hide, maybe, make everybody feel better, but that’s a little shortsighted, isn’t it? Or there’s the third option, and you find another way to pay us back and make everybody happy. I think that’s the best option, I do. What’ll it be?”

    My tattoo is whispering to me again. “Shut up shut up shut up shut up. Stop telling me about her jugular.”

    “Kid, you doing alright,” THE BOSS asks me. “You need a minute? Nobody here is talking about jugulars. We’re just talking about maybe a favor or two. Just to repay your debt, you know,” he says reasonably.

    “My tattoo is talking to me,” I tell THE BOSS. “It’s always telling me about bodies. Drinking helps but it doesn’t go all the way away.” He exchanges a glance with the woman who was talking to me earlier. She waves the three men behind me back.

    “You got a name, kid?” He carefully walks towards where I’m clutching my head on the ground.

    “I don’t know. I think it’s Lore but I can’t remember.” I want to tell THE BOSS but I don’t know. Who am I?

    “Alright Lore. You mentioned a tattoo. Can I see it?” His request is very reasonable. I take off my rashguard and show him. The three men at the mouth of the alley gape at my chest and I remember I’m not wearing anything under it. I think one of them says something but I can’t hear him for some reason. I hold up my rashguard in front of my chest and glare at them. They turn away.

    “You can put that back on,” THE BOSS says. “I think that answers a lot of questions. Do you mind showing me and Shock what you really look like?” Showing him is easy. He nods and looks at the woman.

    I feel confused. Why did I change into my melted wax face? Just because some guy asked? I feel annoyed. I told him too much about my tattoo. I shouldn’t have shown him. Shock speaks up again. “In light of your situation, I think we can justify a little charity. If you come with us, we can explain a little about what’s going on, and talk about ways you can pay us back.”

    I don’t want to hurt anyone. I go with them.
     
  9. corndogman

    corndogman Journeyman Munchkin

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    Hooh boy. A shapeshifter, working for people named Shock and Awe, of all things?

    One can only wonder what the future holds.
     
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