Shininy Mystery Egg for Nait Lion. This time he joins Calex and Zeelo as they adventure in anther world and grant him magical elemental powers stored in a precious stone.
Three Shining Gems in the Dark
“Okay… Let’s see if I remember right… It was somewhere around here.” Nait the lion cub was dressed in a simple pair of shorts and a t-shirt. The brown like with speckles across his limbs looked around as he worked his away through the city. He was trying to find a place he had been before, but without a guide it was surprisingly hard. He turned another card, noticing a familiar fence with a broken piece near the bottom. Was that it? He quickly ran over to stand in front of the fence, jumped and grabbed the edge of it and peered over.
And there it was, an oasis of tranquility in the middle of the city that seemed to sometimes only exist here. A small suburban house with a large back yard, a giant oak tree and a treehouse in it that was the perfect image of every kid’s treehouse when they closed their eyes and pictured it in their mind. This was Nait’s fourth or fifth time searching for it on his own. But for some strange reason over the last couple of months it wouldn’t appear. To a twelve-year-old like Nait, it was easy to accept a magical treehouse where sometimes it was there and sometimes it wasn’t. Especially when he knew the owner was full of magic.
Calex, ja small orange werekitten, and that was werekitten, who had opened Nait’s world to a wonder of magic and adventure, was the owner of the treehouse. Ever since meeting him it felt like Nait couldn’t even make it a week before the two would run into and have some kind of little misadventure. Then, suddenly, the werekitten had stopped appearing. Considering some of the dangerous stuff Calex talked about Nait couldn’t help but be concerned. But, Calex’s treehouse was back. And if it was back, it could only mean that Calex was inside. Or at least someone close to him who knew how to make it appear.
Nait scrambled with his feet and tried to climb over the fence, but found the top of it too pointy, splintered and a general pain to climb over. So, he dropped down to the ground and looked at the hole beneath the fence.
“You know, I think he might have it set up like this on purpose.” Nait glanced up and down the street. Once he was certain no one was watching, he quickly took his clothes off, folded them up neatly and stored them in a corner close to the fence where he could find them later. Then, the lion dropped down onto all fours, as he got smaller, young, and more feral like a real lion.
Nait was also a werekitten. This meant he could change to Calex’s age of six and a half at will. Which was not actually a huge change for Nait. However, apparently the werekitten curse had modified itself to fit Nait. Instead of turning into a normal domestic kitten, he could now turn into a feral lion cub, or a human, or anywhere in between. He had tried out human a couple times… And Calex was right. It did feel naked without a tail. Which was strange since the werekitten never wore clothes whatsoever, and Nait himself had gotten rather comfortable with casual nudity since learning to change forms, even walking around in a mostly human form as a catboy.
As a feral lion, Nait could squeeze through the hole and into the backyard where the treehouse was. He quicky ran up to the rope ladder, growing back up to his anthro form but saying six and a half. It was just more fun to match Calex. Speaking of matching? What form was he in right now? Nait couldn’t tell from here. Well, he didn’t get to use the form at home much because his mom and dad couldn’t understand the ‘you don’t need clothes if you have a tail’ argument so he might as well go catboy. Most of the fur receded from his body, and his muzzle shrunk down into a human face. But he kept the ears, tail and hind paws of a lion. His hands meanwhile were a mix of paws and hand, much like his normal anthro form. But the fur on his hands and legs only went up to his knees before watching. Now prepared, Nait quickly climbed up the rope hoping to find out why his friend had been missing for so long.
When he got to the top… Calex was there, and he wasn’t alone. Two boys, the same age. Neither one wearing clothes. Nait immediately assumed the other one was a werekitten too. It was a safe assumption in this treehouse. But, neither were in a form Nait had seen before. They looked completely human, except they were even shorter than Nait and had long pointed ears. Calex had his usual green eyes, orange hair tied back in a ponytail and a fang that always managed to stick partially out of his mouth. The other boy had messy brown hair and blue eyes, and him and Calex had been laughing about something.
“Nait!” Calex immediately noticed the lion boy’s entrance. “Zeelo! This is the one I told you about! He took to a werekitten like well… a kitten to yarn. Nait! This is Zeelo! He’s another werekitten like me! Maybe even a naturally born one too! We don’t remember.”
“Nice to meet you.” The boy who was apparently named Zeelo smiled. “Always happy to meet another member of the Werekitten Crew and the Catboy Club.”
“Catboy Club?” Nait tilted his head.
“For some reason among all the people turned into werekittens, not all of them can take a catboy form.” Calex crossed his arms. “Or it might be accurate to say they don’t want to. The capability is there, but werekitten magic is very generous. The form is too far outside what they perceive as their normal selves, and so they lose access to the form because of their own desires. There’s only a small handful of us that use catboy form so we’ve just taken to calling them the catboy club.”
“Speaking of which… What are you right now?” Nait tilted his head. “At first I thought maybe you were humans, and just younger than normal then I noticed the ears.”
“Ah, these are disguises, to make sure we blend in where we’re going.” Calex puffed out his chest. “We’re heading out on an adventure in another universe. So it’s important to look like we belong.” Then Calex paused. “Since you’re here, want to come? An evil fighting trio sounds way more fun than a duo.”
“Indeed!” Zeelo’s eyes sparkled. “And I can’t wait to see what kind of stone will resonate with you. You have to come, don’t make us beg you.”
“Heh.” Nait rubbed the back of his head. “Like I’m going to miss the chance for adventure. He paused. “But that still doesn’t tell me what you are… And won’t I look out of place?”
“Hmmmm that’s right…” Calex hummed to himself. “By default, werekittens should only be able to go between their pure kitten and human form and stop anywhere in between. But… If you’re clever you can learn to cheat. Since anything you’re turned into you can always change back to a natural form, you can train your body to remember the movements of the transformation to go back to other species… But either way, you don’t have this form right now… And you won’t quite fit in like that.”
“What about a pure human?” Nait asked uncertainly.
“I think he’ll fix fine if he just gets rid of the paws.” Zeelo pointed out. “Won’t match us but we can see about setting him up with a lala form later. For now, hit’s something he could do to get us going.”
“Yeah, that should work!” Calex nodded. “There are cat people where we’re going. But they just have the ears and the tail, no hand or foot paws. So, if you can focus on changing those to human hands and feet, you’ll fit right in.”
“What about clothes?” Nait knew asking this question was pointless. Wherever they were going he had his doubts that everyone ran around naked. To fit in they’d likely need to wear something. He knew it wasn’t happening, but he made the effort anyway. While waiting for an answer he slowly focused until his hands and feet were completely human.
“I’ve told you those are tripping hazards.” Calex gave the sigh of someone who had explained something several times. And… He wasn’t wrong. That was why Nait had undressed then transformed earlier. But if fitting it was a concern… “Besides!” Calex clapped his hand. “Once we find your stone it’s doubtful any clothes you were wearing will survive. And then you’d get in trouble with your parents again, hmmmmm?” Calex smiled mischievously.
“Uh huh…” Nait had returned home a couple of times without clothes now after they had bene lost. His parents had been less than amused and this had resulted in more than the occasional night of straight to bed after dinner with no dessert. It was weird how Calex could make running around naked sound like the sensible course of action. At least since Nait started storing his clothes for safekeeping the amount of nights without dessert had gone down drastically.
“Great let’s go! We’ll explain more about fighting for truth and justice and the power of cookies once we’re there!” Calex beamed. “But anyway, since we’re not kittens right now we can’t travel my box.” He paused. “Well me and Zeelo probably could, pretty sure no matter what we look like we’re always kittens. But it’ll be much easier to use the portal. Zeelo!”
“Already on it!” Zeelo ran to one side of the treehouse and pulled a blanket off what looked like a toy TV made out of plastic. The type that might be used by kids who liked to play house and had parents who could afford the little mini plastic houses for them. The thing was slightly smaller than Zeelo’s head as he sat it on a box next to the other two. “Let’s just get tuned to the dimension.”
Nait knew better than to speak up and question any of this now. Whatever kitten magic was it worked in strange and wonderful ways. All he had to do was wait. The toy TV turned on like a real one, and the image of a city full of cats of various levels of human to feral walked around and there was a giant dragon skeleton outside the city.
“Ah that’s where we just got back from. That adventure should not have taken so long but we kept getting lost.” Calex bent down and began to turn the knobs on the TV. There weren’t actual knobs, just small indents. But, he acted as if he was and several images flashed through at once. One of them, Nait would swear had been the pokemon cartoon. Another showed a sword sleeping in a temple covered in vines. Then, a large city on the coast appeared with ships as far as the eye could see. In the distance, he could see a lighthouse with strange, jagged crystals sticking out.
“Here we are… Everyone, standby for transport.” Calex stood up and bonked the TV on the head then stood in front of it. Zeelo to stand next to him before gesturing Nait over who quickly joined them. Suddenly, the TV had sound that grew louder and louder…
And then Nait could smell the salt of the ocean in the air. The noise of the town being alive was all around him. And the ocean instead of just being an image on screen was the real deal stretching out before him. There was no sign of the TV or the treehouse they had come from.
“Alright, quickly, we gotta get to the secret hideout!” Calex ran off running. “We don’t want to run into the other uses.”
“Other uses?” Nait asked as he ran after Calex.
“This universe already has a Calex and Zeelo.” Zeelo explained with a grin while they ran. “And well… It tends to get really confusing if we’re in the same place. Really messes with the locals’ heads. Also, Calex’s ability to attract the strange apparently increases exponentially rather than multiplicative when exposed to another Calex. And you don’t even have a stone yet.”
“What is this stone you keep mentioning?” Nait tried to ask but it was hard to get a word in edgewise. They were running, a few people hollered after them, often about their indecency. Nait was aware they were the only three running around naked. Yet, despite this, most people seemed resigned to just accept it for what it was. The two apparently had a reputation. No doubt any attempts to get them clothes had ended disastrously. And as far as the locals were concerned, Nait was just another friend of their group that they hadn’t seen yet. Apparently, when traveling with these two, society had made a joint decision that trying to deal with the nudity situation was far more stress than it was worth.
“Let’s see can’t use the Arcanist’s Guild, that’s the hang out of the other uses.” Calex mused. “So, we’ll need to take the long way from here to the secret hideout. Really wish that thing let us get a more accurate teleportation point than just somewhere in the right city.”
The three continued to run as Calex led them up one tower, then down several flights of steps, across a dock, and then into the walls. They stuck to the side of the city walls that extended all the way down into the water. After a few minutes of treading water and Caled feeling around the wall as if searching for something he suddenly looked satisfied and dove beneath the water. A moment later he emerged back up.
“Found it! Hole in the water is right here! Don’t worry, it’s only a few seconds to get through and back above the water on the other side.” Calex beamed.
“You really do have a secret hideout…” With his tail and ears soaked Nait couldn’t help but wonder if the lack of cat features on the two was related to the fact they were going to be swimming. “There really no way to get in but underwater?”
“That’s why no one has found it yet.” Zeelo beamed. “Though technically you can teleport in, but only if you’ve been there before. We could have jumped straight here, but you haven’t been in before so we had to take the long way.”
“I’m just glad I remembered where the entrance was!” Calex laughed before diving under the water. Zeelo dove in after him. Neither came back up. Nait could only assume they had gone through the wall.
Taking a deep breath, Nait also dove beneath the ocean water. It wasn’t hard to find the hole in the wall. It was like part of the wall had been hit by a massive cannon ball and blow away. On the other side Nait quickly swam up and found himself above the surface again.
As far as secret hideouts went, this one definitely had the treehouse beat. And the treehouse was pretty impressive to begin with. The hole in the wall led to a large open chamber where someone had taken the time to seriously clean the place up of any damage other than the hole. There were a number of couches around, a bulletin board, a massive crystal in the middle of the room, and two open doors leading to separate staircases.
“Welcome to the secret headquarters of the Shining Gems!” Calex beamed. “And since you’re here with us today, we’re ready to invite you to fight evil with us and help bring peace to the world!”
“It is a life of adventure, but also of danger, not for the faint of heart.” Zeelo grinned. “But it’s also really fun, and our stones beat those silly old job souls any day.”
“Again you mention the stones…” Nait started.
“I think a demonstration would probably work better than an explanation.” Calex winked at Zeelo.
“I mean he hasn’t joined yet, so this is technically revealing our secret identities… But I suppose if you vouch for him.” Zeelo winked back.
Nait just crawled out of the water and sat on the stone floor with his legs crossed not sure what was about to happen.
“Here we go…” Calex threw his fist into the air. “Shining Gem Beast… Gleam!” As soon as he said the last word red lights appeared all around Calex. He floated in the air with his eyes closed, and on his forehead a single orang gem appeared. A stream of fire erupted from the gym, encircling his body. It flew past his head as he grew two long orange ears. Then around his waist as he produced three fluffy tails. Finally, the flames split into four, each one going to one of his limbs. When the flame cleared, his legs and arms had orange fur going to the knees and elbows respectively. His feet were complete paws while his hands were the hand-like paws Nait considered normal. “Fire Opal! Ready to fight! My fiery kicks will reduce you to cinders!”
“Alright.” Zeelo was acting at the same time as Calex. “Shining Gem Beast… Gleam!” Like Calex, he was surrounded by light, but his brown. A shining brown gem appeared on his head as smoke flooded from it, first flying past his head to create his long brown ears, then around his waist to sprout his three tails. Then much like Calex’s fire, the smoke separated into four parts to give him the fur and pawlike features of his hands and feet. “Smoky Quartz! Ready to fight! My wind vortex will repel any attack!”
“Uhhhhh.” Nait started between the two. Aside from the fact that they now had very shiny and sparkly fur, and different tails and ears from normal (he assumed for Zeelo) they were still clearly the same people. “Not sure you actually have a secret identity running around like that.”
“Maybe… But it’s fun to think we do.” Calex grinned. “We are the Shining Gems! Synthesis Carbuncles blessed with elemental power by our gemstones so we can fight evil, and go on adventure! And it’s really cool!”
“We get to fight gods!” Zeelo squealed excitedly. “But, they are noticeably less all powerful than you would expect a god to be. In fact, pretty sure without the whole tempering thing most of them would be easier to take than a normal behemoth.”
“So… You two are like magical superheroes then?” Nait’s eyes shined. Sure, the ears and tails didn’t belong to any creature he had seen or been before, but what was one more species name in the name fighting bad guys and having adventure!”
“Yup… And if you want, you can join us.” Calex nodded. “See the crystal in the middle of the room. Place your hand on it, and wish for the powers of a carbuncle. If the crystal finds your heart pure it will reward you with your stone, and you’ll undergo your first transformation.”
“Plus, as an added bonus, once you have your stone you can summon it and transform at any time!” Zeelo added. “And the stone is linked to the crystal here allowing you to teleport back to it at will anytime you’re all carbuncled up! Oh… But obviously you can’t teleport to it unless you’re in the right universe. Their teleportation spell isn’t strong enough to jump universes.”
There might have been a time when Nait would have hesitated at this and tried to consider the pros and cons. That was before he found himself routinely turning into a six-year-old and finding himself more comfortable than he expected running around naked with Calex. This was just another grand adventure waiting to happen. He ran up to the crystal right away and put his hand on it.
“So… Do I have to say something or-” Nait asked with his hand on the crystal. He was interrupted by a bright flash golden brown energy.
A golden colored gem in a triangular shape appeared on Nait’s forehead. It shined, and leaves fell to the ground all around him. Tree roots appeared and ripped up pieces of the earth, tossing the stones around Nait. As they passed his ears, they went from cat ears to much longer golden brown ears. A giant earth spike formed directly in front of him as his single cat tail sprouted into three tails. Then all the rocks that had been launched into the air, stopped, and floated around his hands and feet. They disappeared as he found the familiar sensation of having his paws back.
“Amber! Ready to fight!” Nait acted on instinct. He slammed a foot onto the ground as a pillar of earth shot upward. “I’ll bury evil where it stands!” He paused. “Huh, I just kind of knew to say that.”
“Congratulations!” Calex leaped onto Nait’s shoulder grabbing it. “You did it, you’re an official Shining Gem now!”
“Though… Your first transformation did quite a bit of damage to the common room.” Zeelo was staring at where the earth had been ripped up. “We might want… To put like some kind of wall around the crystal or something for first time transformations.”
“It’s fine we cleaned it up once, we can clean it up again.” Calex waived a hand dismissively.
“Sooooo…” Nait grinned. “Does that mean now that I have my powers it’s time to head out on an adventure! Maybe fight one of those gods?”
“What? Are you crazy? No way!” Calex shouted. “You just gained your powers! You don’t have any experience fighting with them yet! You can’t just go charging into battle!”
“Yeah… That’s a good way to get yourself and your allies hurt.” Zeelo nodded. “We’ll have to train you up first and get you into shape. Looks like your element is earth based, but with a bit of plant flavor thrown in for flavor.”
“But… Don’t you two just rush into adventure?” Nait tilted his head.
“Lots of previous experience. You ever wrestled something to the ground that’s twenty times your size and make it beg for mercy?” Calex asked.
“No, I suppose not…” Nait muttered.
“Then we gotta take you to the training room!” Zeelo beamed.
“It’ll be a good excuse to give you a tour of the place!” Calex patted Nait on the shoulder. “And introduce you to the other help we have. Let’s go!” He slipped his paw-like hand down to grab Nait’s and lead him to one of the staircases.
Well, responsibility was not a factor Nait had expected to come from Calex or one of his friends. But if they were going to be fighting for real, maybe it was for the best. And… Nait had to let himself have a little bit of joy. After all! He was almost a superhero! Just a little work and he’s be there!