Many years ago, back when I was a young strapping human male, I stumbled across some some information that a powerful leader of a thieves’ guild in Port Enoth didn’t want getting out. Unfortunately I was discovered, I knew I was in trouble and ran for my life.
I found myself upon a thatched roof one night after a long day of traveling. I pulled out my quill, inkpot and some paper to begin writing of my adventures – for I knew that the world was full of adventures to be found – I fell asleep before I wrote a single word.
I awoke panicked and rather confused, ink all over my fur. Wait, fur?? I discovered that I had been transformed into a monkey while I slept! I’d never really experienced magic before that, and never truly believed it even existed in our world, but it is hard to deny a thing that slaps your tail. I decided I would do whatever it took to be turned back into a human so I could get my revenge on the leaders of the guild.
To enact my revenge I knew I would have to learn as much as I could about the “Lord of Enoth” as the theives guild master called himself. I was certain that he or someone he employed must have done this to me. I began sneaking into the homes of wealthy people to read the books in their collections. I was nearly caught a time or two.
As I was traveling northwest, getting away from the city of Port Enoth, I came across a strangely dressed man who called himself ‘The Wizard’. He was a bit sketchy, but I decided to take the chance and follow him. Once we were inside his cave home, he dug out a conch from a chest. It looked so ordinary, like any old shell from the beach, I was disappointed. But he told me to take it, put my ear against it and listen. Then he pulled a parchment from a vase, unrolled it and told me to point anywhere on the map. All of a sudden I could hear noises coming from the shell, many voices.
Over the next couple of cycles the Wizard told me stories of how magic used to rule the world but the nonmagic folk wanted to do impressive feats as well. Over time the magic began to fade, access to it dwindling in lock-step with the rapid advances we had seen in technology over the last several decades.
In exchange for the conch and a vest with a continental map stitched gawkily upon it, he requested that I figure out where the magic had gone, as he had tried and failed – perhaps a new ear could figure it out. I agreed quickly, wanting to get away from this “wizard” and the constant barrage of questions, followed by odd looks he kept giving me. (his cave didn’t smell too pleasant either)
This adventure the wizard put me on led me to a group of ruffians who ended up getting a terrible reputation. They would kidnap, kill or burn down entire forests and continue on like nothing had happened. Amongst this group was a cat folk, whose name I never actually learned, but everyone called her Science Cat.
Now, Science Cat was an inventor, she created living mannequins and weapons, she even saved a small town from complete ruin before taking it as her own domain. Wherever she went chaos followed and I took a liking to her, particularly enjoying writing epics of her adventures.
I must say not all of it was amazing works, I was young and new to writing scrolls of such length. I did however learn many writing techniques that had a surprisingly beneficial effect in my day to day life.
While I befriended this being I continued on my two quests. To become human to enact out my revenge and to figure out how to make magic more accessible again.
Eventually I came across a kitsune who was willing to train me to be a monk and to aid me in becoming human again, if she could. Gifting me one of her magnificent tails I transformed, but not into a human. I was a fox instead. I was fuming, until my new teacher told me that I could transform into a human at will. I attempted to transform, it was suprizingly easy but when I went to check out my new human features a new surprise befell me. I was no longer a man – instead a female’s reflection looked back at me in the water.
I stayed with the kitsune long enough to learn how to defend myself and some of the ways of this magical being I had become, but she was a bit of a trickster and a thief. I was worried she would eventually give me in to the people I wanted to harm for causing my life to take such an upheaval.
I went back to Science Cat as fast as I could, she was on her own quest and it took a bit of listening to my map before I could find her. When I reached her she was in a small hut preparing to destroy a machine inside. The last time she did this with me around we ended up in some strange land. When we finally got out of the strange plane we’d been transported to we were north of the Whispering Woods. This time though, nothing seemed to happen.
We continued scouring the continent in search of these hut, we’d destroy them and continue on to the next. Science Cat wouldn’t tell me her reasoning for doing this but it seemed to me that as we destroyed them the technology around us started to dwindle. Trains would be moving on tracks and then suddenly stop, entire villages would suddenly loose power for lights, excetera. I tried to talk to Science Cat again, but she just ignored me, lost in her thoughts.
One morning the two of us were walking through a mountain pass when we saw what looked like what might be another hut in the distance. As we headed towards it Science Cat was yammering on about some experiment and all the rules I had to follow to be in the room during it. I wasn’t really paying attention.
When we arrived at the hut, Science Cat took out a jar of what looked like goop and gave it to me to hold as she began the process of destroying yet another electrical machine. As she did that I was wishing for a change in my life.
An explosion occured and the green goop grew quickly engulfing the entire hut. Keeping us from being able to move. The explosion from the machine happened almost simaltaniously. I passed out from the pressure it created.
When I awoke, the hut was half destroyed, it looked as though it had been whipped around in a tornado before landing again. Science Cat was no where to be found nor was that goop that had engulfed me. I reached into one of the pockets of my vest to pull out my conch and listen to what was around me.
Something wasn’t right. The dialects of people speaking was strange, places I’d known all my life didn’t seem to exist anymore and the more I listened the more I realized that a lot of time must have passed.
That’s when I decided to start writing down what I could hear from the conch, but the shell was giving me more than just sounds now, I could see what I was listening to as though a vivid projection was being made in front of me. There were smells of delicious bread wafting in from bakeries that were no where near me, I could almost taste them.
It was clear to me now, the world was not how I remembered it and I needed to learn about it fast so I could survive here. The following shorts you’ll be reading are some of the things I saw through my listening shell.