Subject: [FFML] [Dark][SI][Multiple] The end of pain (Chapter 5)
From: "Shadow Dancer" <>
Date: 11/20/2005, 11:37 PM

Ch. 5

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 
ARE whispering.


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, 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 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 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 
at hand.

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 
the right.

"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 
falling rain.

"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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