Foxed By A Book (Part 1)

Scene played out on 22nd April 2011 between the GM (David-Visage) and Mystic Kitsune's player.

«Scene Starts»

It all started off with a mystery. A curiosity. And with not thinking about the famous phrase about cats and curiosity.

The package had come in with the rest of the post, but had stood out from all the rest when Polk had begun sorting though the pile of mail on his day off. Sandwiched between a bill and a piece of junk mail the parchment wrapped package was roughly paperback shaped, bore only "To: Polk" as its address, and was held closed by an elaborate seal of crimson wax.

Polk raised an eyebrow as I examined the parchment. "Huh. Must be from the internet. That, or a weird joke from Kelly. Guy always was drawn to the weird and dramatic." One quick struggle with my keys, I got into my apartment on the third floor, and tossed the rest of the junk mail on the counter while I checked the seal. "Must be fragile or somethin', eh?"

I plopped down on my couch, ignoring the computer for once, while I undid the seal to my 'special' little package.

The seal, as bright as fresh blood and perhaps an inch across as well as heavily impressed, broke easily when pushed at. Something in the crimson wax pricked a digit though, drawing a tiny dot of blood, and showing that something metal was within the material. Something which gleamed like gold…

I winced, and pulled my thumb away. "OW! Tsk! Damn, who the hell does these things?" I sucked the blood off my thumb as I eyed the material in question, trying to work it open with one hand. "Better be worth it…"

The offending piece of metal, definitely gold now that you look at it, projected out of the broken wax as though proclaiming its guilt. There was no sign of blood on it now, but what else could have done it? A glance at that took Polk's eyes off of the package proper for a moment even as he pulled open the parchment.

The book within was about the size of a telephone directory and had heavy covers of dark leather bound in what looked to be gold. On the front a lock with a small keyhole held it shut. It was also heavier than it seemed and couldn't have actually fitted in the package.

The only other thing inside the package was a single sheet of almost translucently thin paper with a message on it in a flowing script.

I stared at the book for a moment, finding it all oh so very curious at first, testing it's weight momentarily, also as to how it even fir the the package, let alone his mailbox. I then glanced at the paper, and read what was being said…

"By opening this parcel, its seal clearly showing 'Agree' upon it in human script, you have accepted the terms and conditions of the deal and declined the right and privilage of full knowledge of said terms.

We pre-emptively thank you for your sacrifice and future efforts on the behalf of the Mundane and the Dream. It is suggested that the provided key from the seal be used to unlock the enclosed tome as soon as possible as you will remain vulnerable until that point.

May you have good luck, sweet dreams, and excellent tales told of you."

There was no signature, just an odd symbol was watermarked on the paper beneath the words. It somewhat hurt the eyes to look at for long, but appeared to be two parallel lines which crossed twice.

Thinking to hard about how that could exist made ones head hurt…

I blinked a few times. "Huh?" I read that again, much more carefully. "WHAT? What terms of service? What SACRIFICE? And who-ACK!" I rubbed my eyes. "Okay, stupid question anyways. First thing first." I examined the wax seal once more, seeing if it did indeed say 'I agree', and that piece of gold certainly was asking for attention.

What remains of the wax seal certainly has some sort of writing on it but what it said, even what language or alphabet it was in, was beyond Polk's experience. Without breaking the wax off though, a careful look showed that what had drawn blood was part of what looked suspiciously like part of a tiny key. One which was the right size for the lock on the book.

"What the…? It doesn't say anything about agreeing." I grumbled, but my attention was drawn elsewhere. I eyed the key curiously in my fingers, pulling the wax off carefully. "Huh. Well ain't that convenient?" Looking at the key, and the book a few times, I considered my options. The book was already here, I had the key (or at least I hoped I did), and the note had mentioned opening it…

"If this was a bomb, surely I'd already be dead by now." Carefully, I inserted the key in the lock, and twisted it open. "Time to find out what this is all about."

The lock clicked as the key was turned and the book's clasp sprang open as did the cover. Pages ruffled as though being flicked through at unnatural speed of their own accord before stopping at the first page. As Polk watched words formed as though being written an unseen hand:

"In The Beginning Was The Dream And In the Dream You Were God."

I stared in disbelief at the book for a moment, my eyes darting from left to right quickly. "… Okay, that… That was good. I'm impressed. Definitively… Now how the hell does it do that?"

Nothing else seemed out of place, nor was there any visible sign of some hidden camera to show that this was a set-up for some TV program, but after a few moments further words began appeared on the page in a somewhat less elaborate script.

"Good Day To You, Champion. Do You Wish To Realise Your Dream?"

I blinked a few times. "Champion?" I pointed to myself. "Me?" This sounded more and more liek one of those fantasy MMORPG, but nothing was THIS immersive. "Hum. Sure?" Great. Now I'm talking to a book.

"You Are A Champion of Dreams.
Realisation Will Begin Presently: Do You Wish Passive Or Active Shaping Of Your Realisation?"

The text somehow 'scrolled' as you watched, keeping all the newest words at a convenient level to read.

"…" I rubbed my eyes. Okay, I wasn't seeing things. I was talking to the book, and the book answered back. Welcome to the asylum, Polk-o, hope you enjoy your stay. "Okay, sorry, new at this. What's the difference between Passive and Active?"

"Passive Shaping Will Use Knowledge From This Tome To Comply With Vague Statements.
Active Shaping Permits Direct Manipulation And Design Of All Aspects."

The pages ruffled as though someone had run a thumb along the edge.

"Huuuuh huh. And that can be changed at a later date? And what Aspects in particular." This was feeling more and more like a computer at this point.

"Yes. Everything." There was something about how the second word was written which seemed oddly… encompassing.

"Ooookaaaayyyyyy…" The more I dug in, the more vague it was. "Well, since it's the first time, leave it to passive?" I blinked a moment. "Will you at least show me what was chosen?"

The responses didn't seem to become more helpful, "Yes.

Readying Interactive Display Mode.

I gulped. "Sure. Begin."

Blackness reigned.

There was no up, nor down, nor any hint of your own body as you drifted in a void which sparkled with hints of every possible color. The tome was before you, still showing the same page, but despite the lack of a form you could still feel it as though your hands griped the book. Words appeared in that more prominent font.

"Returned To The Dream, It Is Time To Build Your Legend."

In more 'normal' text it continued,

"There Have Been A Thousand Champions For A Million Beautiful Dreams.
Each Calls Upon Images And Elements Of Dreams.
Chose For Your Legend A Title Which Will Bring Glory To The World As Had Others Such As:

Lovely Winter Knight.
Glorious Sunshine.
Shining Purity.

Who Shall You Be?"

I had to take a minute to take it all in. This was something else entirely. I felt like there was nothing there. This was beyond some kind of cheap special effect! "What's going on?"

"Displaying Selections?" There was a faint irregularity to the writing as though the book was uncertain but that smoothed out with the next words, "No Current Selections Made. Please State Desired Legendary Title."

"I meant this place. What's happening?" I didn't feel a headache, but I knew I should have had one right now. "I… Ngh… Okay, choose a title, right?" If this thing was like a video game, and the sender knew me as Polk, I might as well connect the dots. "Mystic Kitsune?" Yeah, that sounded good. Wizard-like, and magical. After this, maybe the book would give more information.

The name appeared on the page as soon as Polk spoke it before the letters glowed with an inner light before vanishing. The void gleamed around Polk, hints of colors shining like gems, and something seemed to reach deep inside of him t—


Mystic Kitsune blinked her eyes, all too aware that she'd been Polk a moment before, and found that she was drifting naked in the void before the book. Behind her her two tails swished, hinting at her unsettled emotions.

"Greetings, Mystic Kitsune.
Inari Approves And Has Granted You A Boon."

Mystic Kitsune took in a sharp deep breath as she finally felt herself… Wait… HER self? The tails twitched and swayed violently left and right as she looked down at herself. "Oh god." She reached up, and patted those two bulges at the front. "Oh god." and one more quick test down there to confirm the horrors. "Oh… Oh my…" And the swish of those tails finally registered, before she

Mystic Kitsune reflexively let our a shriek of horror. "GYYAAAAAAAAAHHHH!"

Doing so was remarkably cathartic, but did nothing to help solve the problem of gender or lack of clothing.

Mystic Kitsune was shaking horribly in shock. Her brain was trying to work out what was going on, and the only answers came from the book. She grabbed onto it, and yelled: "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ME???"

The pages of the book refused to crumple under the abuse but calmly answered the question,

"Your Dream Transformed State Was Altered to Match The Selected Legendary Title.
Inari Approved Of Your Existence As a Kitsune And Provided A Second Tail To Help Your Survival."

Mystic Kitsune was still trembling. This didn't answer anything. "But why am I a girl?" She took in a deep breath, closed her eyes tightly, and tried to calm down. It wasn't working very well. "And who the hell is Inari?"

"Current Legends Are Whole Aspected Female While In Their Transformed State." The book replied then answered the second question with an unfriendly, "(Lookup of Akashic Encycopedia Unavailable During Set-up.)"

"You mean it's all female? What do you mean it's all female? Why?" She was breathing quickly. "And how do I change back?"

The word 'Encycopedia' shifted to read 'Encyclopedia' before the responses came, "Yes. Biological And Spiritual Configurations Have Been Set To Female. Protocols For Male Legends Have Not Been Updated for The Current Dreams. (Tutorial Unavailable During Setup.)"

Mystic Kitsune tightened her fists, and tightened her teeth in frustration. "Goddammit." Shivering, she pulled her two tails around herself, trying to cover up. "I guess the tails is part of being a champion too? And how is two a boon?"

"Chosen Attack Invalid : Re-routing Of Souls And Invocation Of Divine Judgement Unavailable Within Your Legend At This Time." That reply was a… startling reaction to the kitsune's curse, "Possessing A Fox Tail Is Inherent To Being a Kitsune. Each Kitsune's Tail Acts As An Amplifier for Inherent Mystic Efforts."

Mystic Kitsune blinked, and tilted her head at the answer. "A-huh. Really now? Mystic efforts, mn?" She shivered again, patting one of the tails. "Would it hurt to have some clothes on though?"

The tail was soft, fluffy, and vaguely nice to touch. It was also rather odd to be able to feel both sides of such contact.

Do You Wish to Define Your Uniform And Accessories Now?
Or Will You Define Your Themes And Priorities?"

Mystic Kitsune shivered sightly. She couldn't understand why it felt so nice, but it did. She sighed at the book. "What are the theme and priorities? Important?"

The void around her was neither hot nor cold, but there were perhaps other reasons to shiver.

"Themes Are Aspects of Reality Or Unreality Which Are Tied To A Legend To Restrict And Solidify The Legend.
Priorities Are Accessible Solely in Passive Shaping And Influence How The Tome Will Auto-Magically Detail Minor Aspects Of A Legend.

It might have been Mystic Kitsune's imagination, but the writing was seeming fractionally slower now than it was before.

Mystic Kitsune gulped loudly. "Yeah. Sounds important." She curled up around herself, still shuddering in the unfamiliarity, and uneasiness of the new body. "If… I guess… Let's… Do the themes and priorities then." She looked about quickly. There was no one, or so she hoped.

A small corner of her mind murmured that it'd be fine when she was back with solid ground beneath her feet and, hopefully, a nice warm bowl of rice to settle her stomach. Floating like this was not what a fox should be doing. Just as she was trying to trace where that odd thought had come from the tome's pages flipped over to a different section and offered the kitsune a list, and briefly description of 'Suggested Usable Themes'.

Mystic Kitsune looked up a moment, wondering where THOSE came from, but then shook her head rapidly to more important things. She read each one of them carefully, making sure not to miss one.

The text 'scrolled' as she read it, suggesting more obscure or odder things as it went down. At the top were obviously useful choices such as 'The Five Elements' or 'Illusions' while nearer the bottom of the list were choices like 'Rice', 'Seduction', and 'Loyal Marriage'.

Mystic Kitsune felt the fur on her tail stand up on ends at the last two, and she gripped them tightly, a whimper escaping her lips. "Illusions should be good. Elements too. And… Hum… Trickery?"

"Your Selections Are 'The Five Elements', 'Illusions', And 'Trickery'.
Please Remain Calm."

The tome glowed for the moment then, without ceremony or trouble, understanding bloomed in her mind. She'd read the descriptions of the themes but now she knew them as well as she knew her own name.

With that knowledge the void around her seemed rather less worrying than it had been. She could feel the elements which were hers there, all lurking in potentia, as though waiting some signal to become manifest.

"Calm my a-AH!" She blinked a few times, and the sudden rush of knowledge had come and gone. She reviewed in her head about the topics, and she looked about in the void, sensing those presences. "You… Just poured this.. In my… Oh my god."

Unmanifested fire offered itself immediately as her weapon to burn away that which had upset her, but lightning preceded it as it swirled around her. Lightning was used to only existing for brief times after all. Water offered crushing pressures, dissolving fluids, and earth offered a thousand blades and the remorseless service of mountains. Air lingered, still nonexistant, as all the storms there ever were reminded you of their might.

Mystic Kitsune took in a deep breath, and meditated a moment on the knowledge. She knew she shouldn't be knowing this, but she did. She uncurled slightly, and held up her hands, feeling a warmth starting to gather around a few sparks. "Oh my god… That's just… So awesome!" She giggled, but stopped as quickly as she started, embarrassed that she'd 'giggled' like that.

"Shaping Detected! Do You Wish To Switch To Active Shaping?"

Mystic Kitsune let it go quickly, squeaking in surprise, and looked back to the book. "No, no, no, sorry, I got a bit carried away." She sighed, looking bright red. "What's next after that?"

Fire and lightning wove around her hands for a moment more, offering themselves to her and her service. Asking if she'd like them to destroy something for her. Just the city or something larger perhaps? Then, no longer held into existence, they vanished.

The letters were forming more slowly now as though written by a methodical hand rather than the previous smooth manifestation of words,

"Priorities Should Be Set.
Uniform And Accessories Should Be Set.
Default Approximations Are Available For Either.
After Set-up, Tome Should Be Closed For Recharge."

"Okay, okay, okay." She rubbed her forehead a bit. "Wait, the book needs to recharge?"

Mystic Kitsune shook her head. "Anyways, priorities next. What do we have?"

Realigning Reality/Dream Sub-States Taxes Finite Structures.
Recharge State Necessary to Repair Damage And Update Text In Accordance To Specified Legend."

If text could seem irritated the tome had been when writing those words,

"State General High Priority Definition.
Examples Would Be 'Balanced Between Strong And Fast', 'All Into Magical Power Even At Cost Of Health', or 'Strength Uber Alles'."

Mystic Kitsune nodded rapidly. "Right, right. Well, since I have elements and illusions, I'll have to go with magic as my priorities. Speed as secondary."

"Confirmed." An unseen pressure pressed down on her from all sides, pushing against then through her in a way which was disturbingly not uncomfortable. Lightning purred and its lesser cousins in Mystic Kitsune's body woke up, jolting her and leaving her skin tingling, then settling into newer and better paths.

Then Earth 'spoke', telling her body and soul of how to best power flow just as it did within the Earth's own leylines, and a distinctly 'not uncomfortable' jolt sparked down both her tails. Her body almost hummed with the new flood of power, or the new awareness of it, which was inside her.

Mystic Kitsune gasped, and twitched at the sensations. Oh, that one took a while to get used to. It as like nothing else she'd ever felt. It was like her mind and body had just woken up from a long, long nap. "Ooooohhhh. Myyyyyyy."

"Do You Wish To Use Pre-Set Costume And Accessories?" It took several seconds for the words to form now and the surrounding void seemed somehow shallower now.

Mystic Kitsune looked about quickly, then nodded to the tome. "Sounds good. We can change later, right?" Looked like the tome didn't have much left.

"Within Limits." The brevity and slowness of the response really didn't appear to be good signs, but the tome did begin its assigned task.

Remaining void swirled, patches of the room which Polk had been in before showing through as the void thinned, and gathered around her. Silk slithered across her skin as it formed from the nothingness, jade adornments manifested to the approving rumble of the increasingly distant earth, and something more ethereal surrounded her as a Illusion laughed…

Mystic Kitsune fell on the sofa, giving a soft 'ooph', and she soon examined the robe that she now adorned. "Wow…" She the looked at the tome as it fell shut, and blinked. "So it's rechar… Wait…" She blinked a few times. "We're back, and…" She looked down at herself. "AND I'M STILL A GIRL?!?!?!?!"

Mystic Kitsune grabbed the tome, and her hands squeezed hard. Surely the damn thing wouldn't change her back. It was recharging. even putting the key back in wouldn't give anything.

All the panic she'd lost in the past few minutes suddenly came back to haunt her.

«Scene Fades»

Notes: Spending five hours on this was a little longer than I had planned…