|The Transformation Story Archive||Mythical Beings|
Merrick stared at the tiny glass bottle that had hung undisturbed around his neck for so many years. He had never thought to open it. Not once. But now it and a family legend were his only chance of surviving the night. In his other hand was the tiny dart which had pierced his skin. The rest of his squad had died in the ambush - twelve good men and women, dead at the hands of the Dark Mage's nightmarish creatures! He had survived, somehow, with only the dart in his shoulder. He might as well have died with the others. The tiny projectile was coated with a most deadly poison. Even now he could feel it spreading slowly through his system. There was no antidote; any other man would have had only the choice of slow death by the poison or quick death by his own knife. But Merrick was not just any soldier.
From his earliest years he had been told the story of his clan's formation: how a shape-changed dragon had fallen in love with a human woman, forsaking his birth form to live a mortal life with her. How they had had many descendants, all of which were apparently human. But should one of these descendants - his family - partake of draconic blood, they would revert to their ancestor's form...become a dragon.
The bottle and its contents (supposedly pure dragon blood) had been passed down through generations of family to come at last to him. If the legend was true and he drank it, he would become a dragon, immune to all poisons...including the one that was killing him. The catch? If it was true - and he kept that 'if' firmly in mind - this was a one-way transformation. There would be, could be, no turning back. He would remain a dragon until the end of his days.
Merrick pulled out the stopper. What did he have to lose? He was a dead man anyway. It was probably just an old story, but why not give it a try? And so thinking, he placed the bottle to his lips and drank it off. The liquid therein was like nothing he'd ever tasted, peculiar and not very pleasant in flavor.
Nothing happened. Of course. As he had thought, it was just a story. The soldier drew his knife and grimly set its point over his heart.
All his muscles spasmed at once, causing him to drop the blade.
"What the...?" He trailed off, surprised. His stomach gave an audible rumble and a sudden dizziness swept over him. "What's going on?" He began to sweat heavily and shake with cold, all at the same time. Another muscle spasm shook him. Then, as quickly as they had begun, the strange sensations stopped. Merrick scowled in confusion.
He became aware of an ache at the base of his spine. Reaching back to rub it, he gave a shocked gasp. Right above his buttocks was a rapidly growing bump. It was actually this that hurt and not his back at all. In seconds it had expanded to the point where it burst through the worn seat of his pants. Craning his neck, he was amazed to see that the 'bump' was actually a fast developing tail. It ached steadily as it continued to lengthen...a quarter, then a half, and then finally a full meter long before it stopped. It was covered in small, neat gray scales that broadened and flattened along the underside. The aching was soon replaced by a pins-and-needles sensation as new bone, muscle and nerve made itself known.
"Gods," whispered Merrick, awed. "The story was true..." Cautiously he tried to move the tail. It responded easily to his effort, curling around him so he could get a hand on it. The scales were warm, smooth - and alive! His tail felt his hand every bit as much as his hand felt the tail. "The story was true," he repeated even more softly.
His feet were pressing against the insides of his boots. Alarmed, he bent to remove them. Too late. His changing feet burst through the old leather, completely separating the uppers from the soles. At the same time his insteps cramped badly, forcing him to roll his weight onto the balls of his feet. The outer toes were merging, the inner ones thickening, and deep gray scales were appearing on his flesh. Forward of the insteps his feet had widened, allowing him to balance better with his heels raised so very high. A great deal of skin showed beyond the hems of his pant-legs, for his feet had almost doubled their length. Scales already covered his legs from toes to knees, and his old toe-nails had vanished beneath them.
Merrick staggered a few steps, trying to adjust to this new posture. His tail automatically helped him balance, but still he nearly fell. It was tough to stand with only the lower halves of his legs changed.
There was an odd surging sensation from the underside of his tail, between his legs and continuing up his torso to the base of his jaw. His tunic tightened sharply across his body as his chest seemed to deepen. Strange ridges stood out against the cloth, running from his collarbone down to his groin. Putting his hands to his throat, he found that the 'ridges' emerging from the collar of his tunic were actually wide, flat scales identical to those on the underside of his tail. These 'scutes' covered on him what would be the equivalent of a dragon's underbelly. His chest deepened just a little bit more, and it was too much for his tunic. It split open down the middle, revealing the ashy gray scales running up his torso. As the rest of his skin was still human, it looked really peculiar.
Before he could examine himself further a burst of awful burning pain in his gut doubled him over. His innards were twisting into new shapes, a terrible, nauseating sensation worsened by the fiery pain which accompanied it. Merrick crashed to his knees, retching miserably. The burning rose higher and higher, into his chest and then slowly up his throat. Just when he thought he could bear it no longer, he coughed up an enormous burst of flame that withered the grass before him. Immediately the pain and nausea began to subside - much to his relief! His eyes had teared up involuntarily from this most recent bout of change. When he went to wipe them clear, he was startled to feel smooth little stones come away from the corners of his eyes. In his hands were several tiny, tear-shaped gems. He swallowed hard. Like a dragon, he now wept diamonds.
Shakily getting back to his feet, he shrugged off his ruined tunic.
"Okay," he murmured, noting that the scales had climbed from his knees to mid-torso, "Okay." He would absolutely not panic. No matter that the change was much more unnerving when in the middle of it as opposed to when contemplating it!
His hands began to ache, and there were very sharp pains in his elbows, heels and toes. His fingers began to merge rather like his toes had. In this case it was the inner two that joined, leaving him only three fingers and a thumb per hand. Concerned, the soldier drew his sword, noting the new awkwardness of the grip. With one less finger, the whole balance of the weapon was thrown off. Grimacing, he drove the blade point down in the soft earth. It was worse than useless to him now.
The piercing pains were worsening, and had appeared in the tips of his fingers as well. Frowning, he examined his hands closely - and came very near to losing an eye as sharp black claws burst from his fingertips. He gasped as similar ones emerged from his toes, heels and elbows. Well, if his sword was no longer an option, then maybe these would serve as decent weapons? Experimentally he scraped his claws on a nearby tree. Barely any pressure applied, and still he cut centimeter deep furrows. A faint smile touched his face.
"Yes, these should do nicely," he murmured, pleased.
The change picked up speed again. The scales began to spread, climbing up his chest and back and then down over his arms. He gritted his teeth as something pushed out of either side of his skull, just above and behind his ears. Reaching up gingerly, he found himself to be in possession of two thick, back-curving horns. There came an abrupt and awful wrenching in his shoulders, and he arched his back against the force of this new change. It was like his shoulders were splitting in two! He threw back his head and screamed aloud...only it emerged not a scream but a full-blooded draconic roar. His skin rippled and new muscles moved as his back seemed to just...unfold. Merrick fell into a crouch, gasping, and it was several moments before he could gather his wits enough to realize what had happened. His shoulders had, in fact, split; there was now a second pair just behind and below the originals. From these double-shoulders sprang two paper thin, fragile looking wings. Like his too-short tail, they were not yet fully developed.
He was so amazed by these new appendages that he hardly noticed his teeth grow sharp, or his tongue narrow and fork. Only when he tried to speak, and it emerged as, "Sssplendid!" did he take note.
"What'sss thisss?" While he could still speak, there was definitely an involuntary accentuation of the sibilants.
His jaws began to crack and shift - and that he did notice, immediately. His nose and upper jaw sort of fused, and his face began to push outwards. His muzzle was beginning to form. His nostrils were carried further and further away, and new teeth quickly appeared in the extra space in his enlarging mouth. The scales were now climbing up his face, and he was very careful not to scratch. Gods knew what his claws would do to whatever human skin he had left!
Merrick also realized that his pants had grown very tight. His waist was thickening...as were his arms and neck. New muscles were weaving over his body, changing the human proportions. His thighs shortened and his suddenly bulging leg muscles split the seams of his much-abused pants from waist to ankle. Much as he desired to watch these last stages, he was unable to keep his eyes open as his neck and torso lengthened, as his ears shrank away and his hair vanished beneath the scales. He could feel, though, as his tail and wings lengthened and broadened, powerful flight muscles criss-crossing his chest and back. His breath came faster as his brow ridges became very pronounced and his eyes moved further apart. This heated up his internal furnaces and he spat another burst of flame before he could get himself under control. Already crouching, he leaned over further to grip the cool earth in his claws, trembling as hips and pelvis altered and his spine became infinitely more flexible. Sharp spurs developed along its length, from the base of his neck right down to the tip of his tail. His wings opened to their full span, then dropped back into smooth folds against his body.
And then everything stopped.
Merrick stayed where he was for several minutes, afraid to move. Finally, cautiously, he opened his eyes. Right away he noticed that his field of vision had widened. Oh, well, at least his eyes were still pretty much on the front of his head. Next he came to the surprising realization that he was standing comfortably on all fours. Startled, he reared up on his - hind? - legs, only to find that either stance was perfectly natural. He settled for crouching on his haunches so he could feel his head and muzzle. It was extremely disconcerting how...well, how good he felt. All the pain of change was gone, but so too was the dull ache of the spreading poison. His body was compact and healthy...and had an amazing amount of power inherent in every tiny movement. He had become a sturdy young gray-and-black dragon perhaps six or seven meters in length. His fully grown wings were double that when fully spread. Almost hesitantly he opened them, gaining confidence as he moved them up and down.
"It worked," he said, half stunned. Even his voice was different, coming from a much larger and deeper chest. "It really worked!"
A tremendous feeling of relief and exultation coursed through him. With a wild cry he launched himself skyward, pumping his wings furiously. Steadily he climbed higher and higher, leaving behind only a battered sword and shredded remnants of clothing as traces of his human existence. With a youngster's awkwardness he caught a warm updraft and soared eastward, toward the rising sun. That part of his life was over. Now and forever, he was a dragon!
Merrick deliberately spat a two-meter jet of flame into the air and flew towards the mountains. He had new kinfolks who would be eager to meet him.
Dragon Born copyright 2001 by Wolfwing.
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