As soon as Dee woke up, she could feel a burning heat rising within her body. The burning was similar to the one she’d experienced during her tenth birthday, before she had acquired her new four-legged form, except this time she was fully conscious. This was probably partly because the change was not happening immediately, or it might be the work of one of the deities she had just met. Either way, she could feel that time was short.
She realized she wouldn’t be able to make it back to the mansion, so she had to consider other alternatives. She couldn’t stay here, since she would be creating at least a small commotion and she didn’t really relish the chance to get caught sneaking into the temple. The infirmary was an option, but she would rather keep this a secret if at all possible. Where else?
Then Dee remembered once visiting Mazatl’s living quarters for a lesson. Those quarters were soundproofed magically, not so much to keep sounds inside, but to keep sounds from getting in. The saurian enjoyed her quiet reading and the training grounds were rather noisy, even though the priestesses had their own living area on the other side of the complex. In this case, those wards against noise would be enough, even if not ideal.
Dee quickly sneaked across the area, avoiding the patrols going around the area. While the guards watching the gates were professional, the patrols within the complex were less so. They were numerous but luckily they mainly consisted of students that didn’t quite appreciate their work as much as they should have. That was mostly because they had not seen the results such lack of attention. They mostly went through the motions, but were lost in their own world. This was something that would only fix itself with time and experience, or with something going horribly wrong. There was nothing quite like having people die on your watch to make you realize the error of your ways.
The dawn was already arriving, but the priestesses were understaffed. As a result there were no people wandering the hallways of the relatively sparsely furnished building. Mazatl’s door was naturally locked, but not magically as Dee had noted on the last visit, so she had no trouble picking the lock after little effort. After getting inside, she quickly slammed the door shut and collapsed on the floor.
“Gods dammit! Why does the first transformation always have to be so painful?” Dee cursed, not really expecting an answer to her question. Even Croestia settled for a simple chuckle.
As the pain in her back intensified, she realized that there would most likely be wings in her future, so she prudently shook off any clothes above her waist, tossing them on a pile of books. Books were everywhere around her. Mazatl’s décor could be summarized with “books and bookshelves” as every wall and surface was covered with them. Not that she had much time to admire the surroundings as the change was finally upon her, and she already knew not to try to resist the change.
The experience of the shift was unpleasant, but the result was surprising. As she shifted her form, a pair of large wings appeared on her back, their sudden appearance and burst of movement shattering some of Mazatl’s bookshelves. Dee could feel that the wings were actually bigger than she herself was. It seemed she had the wings of an adult angel but the body of an adolescent one. The impact on the bookshelves showed that they were also extremely durable and strong. Dee was pretty sure they would’ve cracked the wall as well if she had not pulled back on them. No pain from the impact either.
Her fur was now gone, being replaced with pale skin, only slightly less white than her fur. It was straddling the line between unhealthy and alluring, but would most likely change as this form spent some time in the sun. She felt a little odd without claws and with her new dull teeth as well. She also felt weird with her pair of ears gone from the top of her head. The new ears were at the sides as with any angel or human. A quick probe confirmed that they weren’t quite elven ears, but they did have a definite point to them.
That wasn’t to say there was nothing on the top of her head. No, she had a heap of long hair flowing everywhere, currently in an unholy mess of tangles and sweat from the transformation. There would be a haircut sooner rather than later in her future, as it seemed the current hair was long enough to reach her knees, which was completely impractical. There was also another thing on her head.
She couldn’t actually feel it with her hands, but she somehow knew it was there, as if sensing it like one would an arm or a leg that you couldn’t control. A large halo of sorts. Not one those round golden circles one could sometimes see in pictures and art, but a circle at the center surrounded what looked like a spell formation. From a distance it looked like a circle entwined with a complex tribal shape surrounded by tiny writing. Of course this last part was something she only learned later. The whole thing was a bit larger than her head, and seemed to be hovering half behind and half above her head. It was a little like having a very weird and complex crown hovering above and behind her head.
The most obvious change were of course the wings. “The right one is as expected.” Dee mumbled to herself, as she looked at her right wing. The wing was covered in pitch black feathers just like all the Fallen Angels.
The color of angel’s wings held significance. Archangels had golden wings, while normal angels had white wings. The subsect of angels that was wholly dedicated to war, known as Seraph, had fiery red wings. It should be noted that Seraph were so adept at their path in life that even archangels had trouble fighting them. The Fallen were of course signified by their dark black wings, and it was no surprise that Dee had that same color, seeing as that was part of her heritage.
“So why in the name of thirteen hells is my left wing colored like candy?” Dee asked a little miffed, no longer whispering to herself.
Calling the left wing candy colored was a little unfair, but it was not one of the normal hues for certain. It was one of those hard to define colors that would appear to change with the amount of light available. The wing’s color fell somewhere between purple, light pink and white. If one had to put a name on it, Dee would call it lavender. She wasn’t going to put a name on it though, because she was angry.
The reason she was angry was not just the wing, but the fact that her hair was the same color. If she had to get the hair color from one of the wings, she’d have preferred the black since this color would draw too much attention. “Who has a hair color like this?!” Dee demanded to know with a loud voice.
“Mermaids maybe?” Croestia ventured a suggestion. She was currently once again in the form of a pendant since Dee no longer had her fox ears. “I think it’s a rather pretty color personally, same with your wing.”
“Why would I have the hair color of a goddess damn mermaid?! How am I supposed to avoid attention in a form like this?” Dee was not amused.
“Uhm, I think your hair color isn’t the biggest problem in that regard.” Croestia pointed out. Subtlety and stealth were the furthest words from her current appearance. Striking and eye-catching were much closer to the truth.
“Arrgh!” Dee screamed in annoyance and realization. “And I can’t even change back for several days as this form stabilizes! I can’t go back to the mansion like this!”
Dee was forced to spend the next few days within Mazatl’s room, as she learned to deal with her new form. Luckily, aside from the wings the new body wasn’t structurally that different to her old one. The muscles worked largely the same, though Dee did end up walking on her toes half the time. Another stroke of luck was that the wings of an angel had very little to do with the wings of birds, even though their appearance was somewhat similar. In fact they had almost nothing in common beyond the appearance.
First obvious thing was that there was this sort of ethereal and unreal feeling to the wings. Not that they weren’t sturdy, no in fact they would be very powerful defensively. However, the wings didn’t feel like they had any weight to them for Dee. She knew this to be false, looking at the shattered bookshelves, but that was for the rest of the world. Wings this huge would require powerful muscles to move, but it seemed there were no muscles connected to the wings. It was like they were just barely connected and just moved according to her will.
Another difference was that angels used their wings to fly, but not by flapping them like idiots. That was good since even wings this large would have trouble lifting a person as heavy as Dee. She wasn’t hollow boned like birds, and her muscle density was rather notable when compared to normal people. The wings allowed lift just by existing, and Dee could feel a slight drain on her psionic energy as fuel. She tested this by hovering inside the room. The wings were however rather important for guiding flight, which she discovered by crashing into another bookshelf.
The final big difference was that she could change the size of the wings after a certain amount of experimentation. This is where the ethereal nature of the wings also showed itself, as it seemed like there was no pressure to change them back to their original size, unlike when she had changed her size in her four-legged form, which she had now unofficially titled nine-tailed fox form. She couldn’t call that the new form anymore. She thought she could probably walk back without drawing attention now that she could hide her wings.
She had spent some time fixing the appearance of Mazatl’s room, but there was little she could do since she wasn’t a carpenter, nor did she have any tools. She did stack the books on one side of the room and piled the remains of the bookshelves on the other side just for easier removal and transportation. Then she slinked out of the building during the time the light was at its dimmest.
She had managed to hide most of her hair with a dark cloth she had stored inside Croestia. Her new wings were shrunken to the size of sparrow wings on her back. She had slight trouble with how her new body moved, but not enough to be caught by the newbie guards. The biggest problem was her new halo until she learned how to hide it. Unlike the wings, that was rather uncomfortable and could be maintained for maybe a day at most. It was necessary though, as the halo was like a shining beacon.
As she returned to the mansion over the back wall, she found Sarfina pacing around the backyard in obvious worry. She was mumbling to herself, and Dee was tempted to stop to listen, but decided against it. “I’m back.” She announced upfront, walking out from behind a tree.
Sarfina’s face went from worried, to relieved finally settling on wary. “Who are you?” She asked.
“Oh right, my current form has nothing in common with my original.” Dee said to herself.
‘Your voice is also different.’ Croestia hinted silently. Dee’s throat and mouth had a different shape, hence the difference in voice.
‘Could’ve told me that before now.’ Dee shot back.
‘You didn’t ask.’ Croestia said with slight amusement.
“Would it help if I had three fluffy tails behind my back?” Dee asked out loud.
“Dee?” Sarfina confirmed, unable to really believe what she was seeing. “What happened?”
“Long story short, I got my blessing, but it triggered this transformation. I’ve been hiding inside Mazatl’s room until now. For obvious reasons.” Dee pointed behind her, as her wings grew back to her original size, cutting down a tree in the process. “Oops. I still have trouble with control.”
Sarfina’s face was twisting as she tried not to crack up in laughter, and she was also feeling relieved beyond measure. “You couldn’t send a word?”
“Well, not really without explaining why there was now an angel in the middle of the complex. Mazatl’s still away. On that note, you might want to inform her before she returns. I might have kind of trashed her room.” Dee looked a little bashful.
“Kind of trashed?” Sarfina asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Well, there are now fewer bookshelves in her room. Intact bookshelves anyway. The room isn’t completely ruined or anything though.” Dee said a little defensively.
Sarfina couldn’t help but laugh at this point. “So why the candy colored wing and hair?”
“THAT’S WHAT I WANT TO KNOW, DAMMIT!” Dee shouted back, subterfuge completely gone.
Mazatl had been miffed upon her return next morning, as was expected, but she couldn’t stay mad for long as Dee explained the reason. “I need new locks.” She still grumbled.
“If you get magical locks, then how am I supposed to secretly get in?” Dee asked, faking outrage. She had still not managed to shift back to her old form.
“You’re not, that’s the whole point. Ever heard of privacy?” Mazatl grumbled slightly louder. “Which deity blessed you anyway?”
“I’m not sure actually. There were other things going on at the time.” Dee lied her ass off. She surmised that it wasn’t a good idea to let anyone know that she had received blessings from three deities, especially since two of them were Umbra and Lumen. She still didn’t know who the old man was. It was likely she would have to reveal at least one, in which case Lumen would have to be the one. It was rather doubtful the templars would like someone blessed by Umbra, and who knew what reaction the old man would elicit. He had called Lumen and Umbra daughters after all.
“I can imagine. Nothing works normally when you’re involved. Luckily there’s a way to find out.” Mazatl closed her eyes for a moment, before a golden symbol of a book and a quill floated out from her forehead. “All of us blessed by deities can show the symbol of our deity like this. Just focus on the image of your deity and push it out of your forehead. Even the crappiest acolytes manage this with a couple of tries.”
‘Welp, I guess time for plan B already. I can’t even pretend to be unable to do it.’ Luckily this was so easy that Dee had already managed to do this while hiding within Mazatl’s room. She needed to stall for time a bit though, because she had to figure a way to show just Lumen’s symbol and not the other two. “What’s the purpose of this ability? Surely not just so pupils can show their teachers their deity.”
“Of course not. Normally there are much better ways to find things like that out. Usually the acolyte or trainee learns the name and role of the deity during the ritual or at least when the high priestess discovers the details of the blessing. An avenue not open for us if you recall. No this is used as identification at meetings and between servants of the same deity or faction to prove their allegiance and identity. It’s impossible to fake, since even those that try to use illusion magic will be struck down by the gods for obvious reasons. It’s also something of a symbol of superiority among those that serve the strongest deities. The symbol also tends to appear while using spells that require a lot of power.” Mazatl went back into her teacher mode for a moment, allowing Dee the time she required.
“Here we go.” Dee mumbled, as a golden symbol representing the sun floated in front of her forehead. It was obviously identical to the symbol held aloft by the giant statue within the temple of light.
Mazatl’s eye twitched a bit as she recognized the symbol. “I see. You knew exactly which deity blessed you. You just thought it better to hide it. Not a bad choice for the time being, although I would rather you didn’t try hiding it from me. Easier to keep a secret alone though. That explains your new appearance as well I suppose.”
Dee simply smiled in silent confirmation. She had managed to hide Umbra’s symbol that combined a pitch black moon and a half open eye, and the weird symbol of the old man where it seemed like a serpent eating its own tail twisted into the figure eight. The weirdest part was that the snake symbol seemed to also be some sort of weird hourglass that had infinite sand flowing through it. She was sure there was some symbolism in all that but the meaning escaped Dee’s current knowledge. She also found it prudent not to ask for now.
“Well, I hoped you would get blessed by a light deity, so who better that the goddess of light herself? This’ll get out after your fake ritual later on, but it would be prudent not to advertise it too much if possible. I know how much you like to avoid attention. You might want to tell at least Sarfina and Taeral. They will help with your training, so you might as well get the best out of it. Sarfina can help you with your templar training, I’ll teach you what I can about being a priestess and Taeral will teach you how to really fight a warrior.” Mazatl suggested, getting an agreeing nod from Dee in return. There was little point in hiding this from those two.
“Now, to start things off I want you to send your senses inside your own body. You should find a source of power there. It should be rather easy to find.” Mazatl instructed Dee.
Dee did as instructed. Finding that power was really easy, as it almost jumped at her when she started. “Found it.”
“Now the power is more often than not shown as a well with golden water inside of it. Can you see it?” Mazatl guided Dee in a calm voice.
“Uh, something like that yeah.” Dee’s face twitched. She knew her situation would be slightly different with three blessings, but this was a bit too much.
Mazatl detected the odd note in Dee’s voice, something she had heard from other acolytes. Most often from those that had very little power within their well. “The size and contents of that well represent the holy power available for your use. It can increase with repeated use and should the deity be satisfied with your service and improve your blessing.”
Another though occurred to Mazatl. Dee was blessed by Lumen after all. “The most powerful priests and clerics can have their fount of power in the form of a pond or a small lake as well. How much water is there in your well, or how large is your pond?”
Dee’s face twitched again. Her voice was a little hoarse. “I think I’ll manage. Don’t worry about it.” Dee’s spirit was standing on the surface of a grand ocean filled with golden power. The ocean was in three layers, with Lumen’s power on top, Umbra’s in the middle and the old man’s power at the bottom. She felt that Lumen’s power was filled with positive energy, while Umbra’s had a distinct feeling of negative energy. Apparently they could be used for different purposes. Dee surmised that the positive energy was better when attempting to aid others, while the negative energy was better at harming others.
She couldn’t sense anything about the old man’s power, but there was this unexplainable vibe about it. ‘So this is what happens when you are blessed by two of the top ten deities and whatever the old man is supposed to be. I’m guessing this isn’t the result from minor blessings either.’
“Just remember that the most important part about holy spells isn’t the amount of power you possess but the way you use it.” Mazatl said, unsure if she should be consoling or jubilant.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Dee said, trying to contain her voice better. Mazatl had always highlighted the importance of how you used power instead of the amount, but surely this had to be an advantage.