Bile rises in my throat as I look at the water around
me. A hand gently holds me steady as I dry-heave.
Tears run silently down my cheeks as I try to forget
my own brother, forgetting me. Why? Why did he
have to say that? How could he forget me so fast?
The questions run through my head in a constant
stream of pain and agony. I wish, I just wish�that
I could find out _how_.
Wait. "Where are we?" I ask, looking around.
Water all around me, water everywhere�yet
contained�in small pools or "The springs," my
voice comes out in a whisper.
Ryouga mutters, �Yeah. And we�re in the center of
the springs�I could make it to one of the sides, I
think. But if I carry you as well, yeah. That will be a
I shake my head, �No, you get out of here, but stop
at the edge please�I�ll make my way towards you.
Okay?� Ryouga nods slowly, then starts jumping
towards the poles. I watch, my hands clutched at
my sides, until he finally makes it to the other side
of the area.
Gazing at the clustered springs in front of me, I
grimace in distaste, �You know,� I say
conversationally, �Even though you are pools of
water with things that drowned in you,� stepping
quickly and carefully along the pool edges, trying
to pick my way through the largest gaps between
pools, �I�m pretty sure you like causing torment
whenever you get a chance to. I mean, really,
turning my friend into a pig? I know, he�s not
perfect, but still. Couldn�t you have chosen
something better for him? Like a tiger or
something?� As I get closer to the edge of the
spring area, the tufts of dirt holding the springs
separate from each other seem to get closer and
closer together. I�m about twenty meters from the
edge, and I�m sure it�s going to take forever to get
out of here...the pools are probably only six
centimetres apart now, and it looks like they�re
clustering closer as I move.
As the pools seem to loom in my vision, I mutter,
�Yeah, you probably want to change me now too,
right?� I shake my head, �I wish you could make
up your mind...I�m fine as a girl, really. I don�t even
mind the boy side much, as long as I have a girl
side to return _to_,�
The wind must be picking up, because I can hear
the water lapping against the sides of the springs.
Little wavelets splashing...almost...whispering?
�You aren�t going to let me past without dunking
me, are you?� I ask the springs, as they seem to
cluster around me. One in front, two behind and to
the sides...and, to my eyes, the area I can walk
along is now razor thin between the pools. I can�t
move in any direction, and the ground seems to be
eroding under me.
A gust of wind ripples all the springs around me,
almost seeming to whisper �no...� My hair doesn�t
move in this wind, and then I realize. The springs
I stop a second to gather my wits (fair), my
courage (very little), my considerable strength
(none), and what�s left of my balance (less than
none). Then, with as much speed as I can muster,
I try to run along the razor thin ground towards the
edge of the spring�s area...maybe two pools
I�m pretty sure I�ll make it at least halfway to the
next clump of ground.
The dirt crumbles under my feet and I fall...no, I�m
_pulled_ to one side. I try to shift my balance, to
lean the other way. If the springs want me to land
here, then better for me to land there instead. Still
my legs try to move me along, but to no avail.
Using the last of my energy I try to jump away from
that pool. Sure I know I'll land in another pool, but
at least it won't be THAT one, whatever it is.
It feels almost as if there are ghostly hands pulling
at me, drawing me towards that one pool to my
left, when my faltering jump pulls me, barely, away
from their grasp. I close my eyes and take in as
deep a breath as I can, knowing that to pull away
from the grasp of the pools, I'm pushing myself
into another pool that is possibly nasty for me, but
at least it isn't the one that THEY want.
Water envelopes my body. I can feel...something
happening. I don't know what, yet. I move my
arms...yes, they are still arms, they haven't been
changed to some kind of leg...rapidly, clawing my
way to the surface of the water. Oh, claws. Those
are different. Mud and rocks fall slowly away as I
pull myself to the surface, drawing a deep breath. I
can hear Ryouga yelling my name, not far away. I
turn, trying to see him, there he is. I crawl along
the ground towards him. Oh, good, there is room
for me to move again.
I cough, spitting up water and...something else. I
don't want to know. I'm afraid to find out. Hands
reach down and pick me up. I look up, into
Ryouga's face. "Liath?" he whispers, hands pulling
me towards him. I wrap my arms around him and
"I think I swallowed some of it," I mutter. Then I
blink in surprise as that came out almost
intelligently. Of course, the burr in my voice might
be because I've got water in me still, but then
again, it might not.
I'm still smaller than Ryouga. But at least I'm not
smaller than I was before, as near as I can tell. I
set about examining my body to see what has
changed, and what remains the same. Everything
_feels_ normal, but that could just be my
imagination. I first examine my hands, and aside
from my nails now being claws, and I think rather
sharp ones at that, they don't look all that different.
I don't even notice as Ryouga sets me down, I'm
so focussed on finding out what's happened. My
arms still look like my arms, small, graceful,
feminine. Oh. Hang on a second here. I peek in
my pants. Yup, I'm still female.
I'm just about to jump for joy when I feel Ryouga's
hand at my back. His hand isn't anywhere near my
back, but I can still feel it. I crane my neck, trying
to look back and see...oh. oh dear. oh deary deary
This sensation is familiar. Shock. Lots and lots of
shock. Hands keep me from landing in the dirt as
darkness claims me.
Swimming out of the darkness, I open my eyes, to
see a vaguely familiar face in front of me.
"Oh miss, you wake! I go get sir!"
I close my eyes and sigh. Then I open them again,
looking down at myself. There isn�t much different
that I can see at this point, but then, I _did_ see
those wings on my back earlier. I don�t know how
much earlier, but it was still earlier. I sit up, slowly,
and reach behind my back. Oh good, at least I�m
not less flexible than I�m used to. I gently trace my
fingers along the soft leather (?!) of my wings. I�m
sure that they were a little bat-like when I saw them
last, but they could be something different. I trace
my hands up more to find the bone and muscle of
the wings, and then stretch them out to full
extension. Well, at least they aren�t too big, I�m
sure I can hide them under shirts and stuff. Yup,
they definitely look batty. Oh joy.
Then another sensation permeates my thoughts,
something that I felt before I started on this
journey, but it�s something that I�ve not been
expecting to feel until several years from now. I
hurriedly glance around, breathing a quiet sigh as
no one is here, yet. My fingers slip down under the
covers, and I start to whimper softly. I�m sure this
shouldn�t be happening so early, but it feels almost
like relief. Relief knowing that I can do this without
The door crashes open and my eyes fly wide.
"Eep!" I squeak as I try to hide what I've been
doing as Ryouga walks in the door.
"Liath!" he looks at me...then notices where my
hand is. Blood spurts from his nose as he crashes
to the ground.
"Mou!" I mutter, frustrated. "Couldn't you wait like
five minutes? You just ruined the mood!" I then
blink, realizing what I was thinking. "Err, oh. Sorry."
I know I'm blushing, my face feels like a furnace, "I
guess that was kinda my fault, wasn't it?" I pout,
and then sigh.
Then I look around for my clothes, and spy them
just to the side of my bed. I first pull my shirt on,
fluffing it nicely to fit. Hang on a second here. I look
back, yup there are my wings. I look down, yes my
shirt IS on. I then reach back tracing the fabric of
my shirt up to where my wings pass through it. As
if it's not even there. Oh crud. "So much for hiding
THESE," I grumble, then draw my pants on,
securing them tightly.
My pants are on none too soon, as the guide steps
in the door, "Oh sir! What happen to you?" he then
looks over at me, "Did you do something to sir
here?" I roll my eyes, then shake my head, "I see.
Maybe he just surprised you come out so cute,
"Why is that?" I ask quietly. Funny, my words
sound different right now.
"Well, miss fall in spring of drowned demon.
Terrible tragic story of demon too arrogant for
words fall in spring three days ago."
I raise my eyebrow, "And why would that be a
tragic story?" A demon dying in ironic ways is a
GOOD thing, in my books.
The guide shrugs, "Is tragic story because now
anyone who falls in spring become arrogant sex
crazed demon." The guide peers at me for a
second, "Miss? How you not become full demon?
The demon that fell in spring was adult, and had
red skin. You look almost human?"
I roll my eyes at the guide, "I was here before,
remember? I was split off from a teenage boy who
fell in spring of drowned girl. I then changed to a
younger form for...some reason." I try to taste the
words as they come from my mouth, then I notice
that the syllables are all wrong. Doesn't 'I' only
have one syllable, not three?
The guide stares at me for a second, then asks,
"You came here as boy, before, with father? Fall in
spring of drowned girl, then jump in spring of
twins? Father fall in spring of panda?" at my nod
he grins, "Well then, I wrong in calling you miss!"
he meanders over to the stove and picks up a
steaming kettle, "We change you back to boy then,
I eye the kettle suspiciously, "how hot is that,
exactly?" I ask, stepping away as he approaches.
"Is for making tea, so is nice and hot." He grins
and then splashes it on me.
Have I mentioned yet that I really hate pain? A
scream tears from my throat as I jump away from
the falling water, "That's too HOT!" it's a tossup
between getting really angry at him for burning me
like this, or just curling up and crying.
Crying wins, this round. "Don't do that again,
The guide stares at me with a shocked expression,
"Why sir not turn back into sir? Have you been
locked in this form?"
A shuddering laugh creeps out through the tears,
"If I was locked in this form I'd be ecstatic.
Just...don't throw hot water on me again. Please."
The guide stares at me for a second, then he asks,
"You were the sir that turned into girl with hot
water, yes?" I nod slowly, and he continues, "So
hot water not change you to sir. Cold water change
you to sir...so you is miss." Again I nod, "So sorry
miss, didn't mean to hurt you, just wanted you to
be in...umm...normal form."
I snort, "Yeah, this apparently is my normal form
now. I can wait to see if it did anything to my guy
side too, though. So no more water, hot OR cold."
A groan from the doorway catches my attention.
Ryouga sits up, with his hand over his eyes, "Is it
safe to look again?" he asks, his voice not quite
whining, but it's a close thing.
I snort for a second at Ryouga's question then
reply, "Yes it's safe to look. But we should be going
to Joketsuzoku before this place does get
dangerous for us." I turn to the guide and bow as
well as one can from a kneeling position on the
floor, "Thank you for your hospitality, but we have
to be leaving now."
The guide nods slowly, as I take Ryouga by the
hand and lead him out of the hut.
We are within sight of the village when it decides to
rain again. Luckily for Ryouga, he had his umbrella
ready. Unluckily for me, I wasn't close enough to
take advantage of it at the time.
I look down as I feel the change, and nod, "Yeah,
still cursed to turn into a boy," I grumble. Ryouga
coughs from behind me, and I turn, "What is it? Is
there something else that's changed too?"
Ryouga smiles sheepishly, "Well, yeah...your
wings are different now. If you could see yourself
now you'd laugh." I raise my eyebrow in sarcastic
query, "Well, your girl side is part demon, right?" I
nod, and he continues, "Well your wings are very
different...and your horns are gone now."
I blink, and then raise my hands to my forehead, "I
had horns?" I ask incredulously, at Ryouga's nod, I
just shake my head, and then crane around to see
my wings...my...oh THIS is pretty.
I tentatively reach around to touch my wing with a
gentle hand, and silk-soft feathers rustle quietly to
my touch. An almost electric shiver runs down my
spine as I caress the faintly pink feathers. It's
almost torture to stop touching them, but I do.
"Umm, yeah," I whisper softly, trying to get my
focus back. I don't know how long it takes, but I do
know that the feelings I got from my wings stop
long before I do get my attention back to the task
I breathe in deeply, then announce, "Well, I won't
laugh, Ryouga, but it is rather funny that my boy
side is part angel. I just wish that I didn't have that
boy side anymore, you know?" at his nod I grab his
hand and lead him the rest of the way to the
A staff and a spear cause us to stop rather
suddenly, barely within sight of the village walls,
"Who are you?" I hear a pair of feminine growls
from in front of me, as two girls who look to be
barely in their teens appear suddenly out of the
I stare at the twins for a second, and then smile,
"I'm Liath, this is my friend Ryouga. We left
Juketsuzoku a few days ago to be with my brother,
but I was turned away. I'm coming back to ask
Matriarch Cologne for advice and maybe
assistance in getting my family to recognize me."
My smile falters slightly as the twins glare even
"Is no true!" snarls the one on the left.
"Li-ya is girl, not winged boy!" continued the girl on
"You lie to us! We fight!" they both chorus
I stare at the two for a second, then groan, "Lin-lin,
Ran-ran, I'm not lying. I fought against you two
before, and I don't feel like eating dirt again, thank
you very much." they glare still harder. I am SO
glad that their eyes aren't weapons, else I'd be
dead right about now. Again. "Yes, I fought you
before, on the challenge log if I remember
correctly. And you succeeded in knocking me off
the log in about two seconds."
"How you know about our fight with Li-ya? She
defeated too quick to be called fighter."
I feel the anger running out, and depression sinks
into my bones yet again, "Fine, forget it. You don't
believe me, you possibly never will. Kill me if it will
make you feel better, but I don't want to fight." I
slip to the muddy ground, tears mixing in with the
"No!" Ryouga yells, stepping in front of me, "I won't
let you hurt her!"
"Forget it Ryouga," I whisper, "They are possibly
looking for husbands. If you fight them and win,
you'll have to marry them."
Ryouga glances back at me, "Yeah, well that
doesn't mean they can hurt you like that. They
should know better!"
"You should no tell laws to outsiders. You not of
village, you not know laws!" the twins shout at me,
then they look at Ryouga, "You strong man, make
good husband, yes?" I can almost feel their grins
as they stare at Ryouga's physique.
I can also feel the razor sharp tip of the spear just
bare inches from my throat. It would just be so
easy to lean forward...
"No!" I hear, faintly, Ryouga's shout, and I feel a
soft impact, pushing me away from the tip of the
spear. I find myself looking at the sky with four light
things pressing into my chest, and a "bwee!" of an
It takes a lot of effort to move my head, but I do,
just to look at the thing on my chest, "Ryouga?" I
hear myself whisper in query, before darkness
takes over my vision.
after a long wait, chapter 5 is finally here. Chapter
6 is currently being written, maybe half way done.
if you're interested in seeing the previous chapters,
please email me privately to ask.
I await the flames!
Wings of Hope:
God gave you wings,
And a voice to sing,
Although you don't know why;
Powers so fair,
Suddenly not there,
Find your own reason to fly...
(c) October 22, 1998, Liath Hidson
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