Tales of the Multiverse
Background & Old Woman
: Creative CommonsDark Naga Woman
: SaledinYellow Naga Woman
: Gracie's StockTree Woman
: SaledinDrider Woman
: LockstockDrider Spider
: Death StockCrow Woman
: Inki StockPledge Week
That time of torment for the wanna-be popular new students trying desperately to gain a sorority or fraternity. Five of them now stood before the council at the Gamma Omega Delta sorority. The head of the sorority had told them of the strange stories surrounding the somewhat reclusive woman living about half a kilometre from the Sorority House. She then looked them over.
"If you've what it takes, you'll pay her a visit. This evening."
The five pledges, Killian Underwood, Yasmine Neeth, Kari Lock, Orlanda White and Milli Trent, stood from their kneeling position and pledged they'd sneak into the year and take one blossom each from the blue rose bush.
The five, who'd never think to do something like this, found themselves in the dark near midnight just outside the huge weathered fence. It was a full moon so there was enough light to avoid obstacles that would give them away should they trip over them.
"She's not really a witch, you know," stated Killian quietly, trying to buck yup her own courage.
"Of course not," replied Yasmine in a whisper.
"Sure hope we don't get caught," Kari sounded scared. "I'd never be able to explain it to my parents."
"Hmm," was all Orlanda managed.
They searched the perimeter for a way in. No one even suggested one of the many gates that loomed like cathedral doors in the gloom. Finally, they came to a pile of stones. They were of the kind used to create decorative planters and the pile was high enough to let them crawl quietly over the fence. They dropped as silent as a church mouse inside behind a strangely shaped tree.
"Topiary?" asked Milli.
"Sssh," was the response from one of the others.
The yard seemed huge in the moon light, far larger than it had seemed from the outside. They made their way in single file from one small copse of oddly trimmed trees to another, spending as little time as they could in the moonlight that now seemed a spotlight revealing their every move. No one said anything and no one dared use their flashlights. They were just too scared. Killian led the way with Milli bringing up the rear. After ten minutes searching for this blue rose bush, carefully using the smallest of the flashlights to illuminate every flowering bush they came to, there was a muffled sound. Oddly the leading four paid it no attention.
Mill found herself stretched out on a cold slab of what felt like stone or concrete. She tried to move but found herself pinned by the cold blue glow that surrounded her from head to toe.
"Ach and again," an old woman's voice sounded from the dark. "They be at it again. Always after the source of the magic. Stupid, stupid girls. And ye be worse yet for wanting to join their like."
"Popularity ye be wanting? Stupid girl. They'd not take the likes of you in. You've none of the Old Energy about you in the least."
"Always and forever and the hopefuls end up here. Well ye'll be of nae further use to them. But ye will serve me now."
"Serve? But ..."
"Aye serve. Here or in another of my holdings."
"I don't ..."
"Understanding is slow I see. Vanish ye will. Other holdings, other universe, other magics."
The old woman waved in the darkness and the inside of the room lit up. It was ancient looking and had a ceiling easily four stories high. The house couldn't possibly contain such a room. Milli twisted her head (that being all she could move). It had to be underground but the ground floor windows belied that.
"Ye be not on Earth any longer," the old woman cackled. "Noritathak be this universe. Now to begin."
Milli felt a force grab her body stretching her in strange ways. She found herself lifted from the slab to float above a large pot of oddly grey soil. It was contained in what looked like a decorative rock. A green glow surrounded her and the pulling and twisting became unbearable. Her legs first went numb and then stretched like taffy. They split in several times and, when the green glow subsided, Milli found herself changed. Still normal, though strangely naked, to the crest of her hips, she blended smoothly into greyish bark of a tree. Milli had seen Bansai trees in the past. Somehow, she was now one with of these miniature trees. She found she had control of her arms and began to try to push herself out of what she was sure was a bizarre costume of some sort. She shrieked when she discovered the bark had feeling. She was half tree now. The old woman looked her over and, taking each arm positioned it carefully. Milli felt the stretching again and watched as each arm divided into a branch supporting part of the canopy of a tree. The bare twigs soon budded and unfurled into leaves. The old woman grunted, turning Milli in her strange stone pot. She reached out and touched Milli's bottom and Milli felt the pulling again.
The old woman lifted the stone pot, soil and Milli as if they weighed nothing. She waved a hand and a glowing bubble appeared which she entered. The darkness of the night was replaced by brilliant, though strangely coloured sunlight. Millli found herself in the centre of a huge table the likes royalty might use. Looking to the left and right she discovered others, similarly transformed, in a line of pots down the centre of the gargantuan table. The woman turned Milli a bit and pivoted on a heel to enter another of the glowing bubbles.
Orlanda bumped into Yasmine and Kari. There was a brief round of shushing before the four (none even looked back to see if Milli was still with them) continued on their search. Bush after bush but none had blue flowers and most definitely none had blue roses. Orlanda stumbled on a rock and fell forward only to find herself face down on a stone slab unable to move. She wriggled this way and that but only succeeded in getting herself flat on her stomach with her arms and legs splayed on the stone.
"Another of their victims," and old voice stated coldly. "Try they have for centuries and for as many years have failed."
"Huh?" was all Orlanda managed.
The old woman touched Orlanda's blouse.
"So silk ye be wanting?"
"I like silk," managed Orlanda.
"So be it."
Orlanda felt suddenly cold and discovered she was now pinned, face down. Her arms and legs moved of their own accord until Orlanda felt as if she was being pulled apart. The stretching was most intense in her hips and legs. A strange sound, like heavy paper being torn asunder. Orlanda felt a sharp pain start at the tips of each of feet that quickly passed up the length of her legs. There was a pause. Then it started again in each of her four new appendages (Orlanda oddly could feel each one separately and something told her she could even move them if she wasn't held down by the strange force). Each soon split again leaving Orlanda spread like some kind of skin coloured spider face down on the stone.
"Ye'll be cold that way," the old woman chortled.
Orlanda felt a tickling that started at her hips and spread tot he tips of her new legs. Once her new fur had grown in, she felt the focus of the strange energy settle on her hips and begin a painful pulling. She felt herself blossom out until she had a huge spider's abdomen. She didn't know this yet, of course, as she was still pinned by the magics that were holding her and changing her. After several minutes, this faded and Orlanda tried to get to her feet only to discover she had no feet. She pushed herself upright on eight huge spider legs attached to the bulbous body of a great wolf spider.
"Will ye walk or must ye be carried?" asked the old woman.
"Walk?" asked Orlanda puzzled.
"Aye. Ye have legs and know now how they be used."
"Talkative. Too much so."
Orlanda found herself floating towards a glowing orb that had appeared in midair. As she passed through, the light in the room was replaced by the cool green of the understory of a forest. Orlanda found herself placed gently on the ground and the glowing orb faded.
"Milli?" asked Yasmine.
"Ssh," responded Killian.
"Milli?" asked Yasmine again, stopping to look back.
"Ssh," came the reply from ahead.
"Likely chickened out now be quiet. You wanna get caught?"
"Orlanda's gone too," noted Kari.
"So they decided the dark was too much and let their nerves get to them."
"They'd have said ..."
"Afraid. They bugged out. Now be quiet," Killian whispered urgently.
They trio continued forward but Yasmine and Kari were becoming spooked and were holding hands. Contact made the fear a little more bearable. They carefully made their way, just barely able to make out Killian who was now far ahead of them at the next copse of bushes. Yasmine felt a cold touch and began to scream. She found herself on her back, still holding Kari's hand. Both were pinned by a strange blue glow.
"Harder it is to take two," an ancient voice cackled.
"Two?" asked Yasmine with a tremor in her voice.
"Aye, you two. Silent as snakes, ye be."
"Snakes?" shrieked Kari. "Where!!!??"
"None yet there be."
"Yet?" Kari began to thrash her head about looking for the dreaded reptiles.
"Enough!" the old woman stated coldly.
Kari felt herself calm and was soon lying staring upward at the intricately carved ceiling dozen's of meters overhead. Both girls suddenly felt cold as their clothing disappeared in a cloud of dust. The tingle of the magic faded momentarily before returning to their hips. Yasmine twisted her head and neck to see what was happening but soon wished she hadn't. A slithering tail was sliding out from her spine. It started small but was soon 15 meters long. The tail's diameter grew as well as it increased in length and the dark scales grew to cover Yasmine to her waist. She watched as her legs shrank and twisted like deflating balloons before vanishing entirely. Kari, too, was being changed. Exactly in parallel to Yasmine's changes, she too was growing a snake's tail but it was a pale yellow instead of the dark patterns on Yasmine's tail.
"Fine pest controllers ye'll make," the old woman startled Yasmine's observation of her changes.
"Aye. The Yleeth of Klandra be a major pest for my holdings there. Catch and eat."
"What's a Yleeth?"
"Fairy but not intelligent."
"But I ..."
"Eat ye will for sure or starve. Come."
A glowing orb appeared on the floor and Yasmine slithered off the stone slab. She discovered she knew how to move her new body as well as she had her original one; the feel and memory of which were fading with each passing second. Kari joined her on the floor, her terror at her snake body fading as the magic rewrote her memories. The pair slipped into the orb and it faded.
"And now to the last one. Cunning be this one. Farther has she gotten than any on a millennium. And smart."
Killian snuck carefully from bush to bush. Occasionally, when she though she heard the others make a noise, she'd shush them. The damned blue rose had to be here somewhere. They'd been searching for hours, Killian frowned. The garden wasn't that big, couldn't be that big. Finally, she discovered an oddly ornate greenhouse glowing with an oddly violet light ahead. That had to be place. A rare plant had to need a greenhouse. She slunk up to the door and waited for the other two to appear. When they failed to show after several minutes, she shrugged it off as another pair of quitters. Well, she was no quitter.
The greenhouse had some kind of strange puzzle lock. Instead of the expected open door (which Killian was expecting), the door was encased in strangely glowing lines that shifted in length and colour. She frowned. Nothing she knew of could make anything even remotely like this. She tentatively touched a red line and it shifted it's orientation and colour along with several others it was touching. She looked at the frame of the door and discovered a dozen coloured symbols. She poked a line near one of the symbols several times, watching the pattern and colour change. When the brightest line matched the colour of the symbol, the line locked to the symbol and wouldn't change again. A glowing and very ornate Celtic knot appeared at the door's centre. Killian, an avid gamer, recognized this as a relatively complex logic puzzle of the type she was sure she'd seen in video games before. Poke after poke, change after change, Killian kept at it. She soon had top half the door's symbols connected to the central knot. So intent was she on her task, that she didn't notice her clothes fall away in dust nor the growth of black feathers on her arms and legs.
Trapped by the need to solve the puzzle and by the magic of the lock, she continued her efforts. When her arms had become too wing-like to continue the task, she switched to her now bird-like feet without a second thought. The puzzle was fiendishly difficult and it became more so as her arms grew into black wings and she could use them for nothing save hovering against the door while she twisted lines with her feet. A final twist linked the final symbol and Killian fluttered exhausted to the ground only to have a huge golden cage drop around her.
"Clever girl!" and ancient voice crackled. "That has defied me for millennia."
"Blue rose?" cawed Killian, her body now mostly that of a crow.
"Nay. As powerful as the blue rose be, this be vastly beyond it. Captured it I did from a wizard in Wales near on a baker's dozen centuries past."
The lock spell that had bound Killian faded and she twisted her head to look at her new body. She shrieked at her discovery.
"Aye. Raven ye be now. Fitting for such a conundrum breaker as yourself."
Killian threw herself against the cage but found it slowed her progress before she could hit it with enough force to damage herself. Again and again she tried. Bars, door floor and ceiling all the same. Killian let herself fall to the floor and remained, huddled in a corner.
"Much too useful ye are to me for that. We have many such puzzles to solve."
Back in Gamma Omega Delta, the sorority president frowned as she lost her mental link will Killian.
"Damn!! Another failure."
"She caught them all again?"
"Like every year."
"Klandue will be most displeased. 'Tis fortunate she hasn't the wit to open the prize she captured."
"It's useless to her as it is."
"But if she should open it?"
"Disaster for us and Klandue as well."
"I'm glad she's not bright enough to solve the puzzle lock then."