Shiny Egg reward for Kody. A nature walk gets a lot more interesting when he discovers a hidden trail.
Kody was out on a nature walk. It wasn’t something he did often. He would have rather been at home playing video games, but the brown-haired boy was trying to make an effort to be more active. Said effort had been setback numerous occasions by him managing to find an excuse each time he ‘attempted’ to go on a walk previously. So, he had gotten dressed, put some hiking boots, and grabbed his red coat to help stay warm and finally set off to get some exercise in the great outdoors.
As he walked along the trail paved through the forest Kody came to a realization. Nature walks were perhaps, overrated. Still, the forest proved to be nicer scenery than the city, so he supposed if he -WAS- going to do this outdoor exercise thing this was the better place to do it.
As he continued on through the forest it was warmer out than he had expected. He hadn’t needed the jacket after all. But it wasn’t like he could really take it off. There wasn’t anyplace to put it. He hadn’t brought a bag with him. So, he was just stuck keeping it on for now. The walk wasn’t going to be long anyway. According to the map at the start of the trail it should only take about thirty minutes. It was a simple loop that went through the center of the forest then came back to the entrance.
At least that was the plan.
When Kody was near the very back of the loop he found something peculiar. A spot where the trail split in two different directions. One of them was obviously the main trail that would take him back to the entrance. The other was barely visible. Small trees had fallen in its path, creating a barrier that blocked travel and a mess of leaves made it impossible almost not to see beyond the barrier. If Kody hadn’t been on the lookout for wildlife hoping to see something interesting he would have completely missed it.
He paused and squinted as he stared through the branches and leaves. There was definitely another path that had been made through the forest. But it hadn’t been marked on the map back at the entrance at all.
“Well, that’s interesting.” Kody considered for a moment. The last thing he wanted to do was get lost in the woods. But, there was a clearly visible trail. As long as he didn’t leave the trail it’d be easy to go back to this spot. He was curious. Why wasn’t the trail on the map? Had the map just been updated after trees had fallen over blocking the path? Except… From what he could see the trail looked pretty well maintained. So, someone had to be using it
Deciding it was the first interesting thing he had seen all day, Kody investigated the new trail. Reaching it wasn’t easy. The area was thick with vegetation. So thick, if he stepped off the trail even for a moment to try to go around the fallen trees he might get turned around. The only option was to go over. Carefully, he placed one boot on the lowest tree, grabbed at a higher branch and gave it a tug. Neither the tree below his boot or the branch he pulled on gave way. They were both held firmly in place. Confident the wall of branches wouldn’t fall apart, Kody started his climb.
It took him a few minutes, the wall was taller than it appeared. He knew it was taller than him, but not quite by how much. And not every handhold was stable. He progressed slowly, tugging on each branch before putting any real weight on it as he climbed up. He wasn’t about to get all the way to the top then fall on his back. Eventually, he finally reached the top. And while he had to free his legs from a couple of vines to get over it, he had made it to the other side. Going down was much faster. It only took a few minutes before his feet were planted on firm ground.
Without the fallen trees in the way, his view of the new trail was completely unobstructed. And… It almost seemed like a paradox. The forest canopy grew thicker, and the vegetation denser. And yet, despite that the area was more brightly lit than the trail he had been on despite there being no visible sign of the sun through the tops of the trees. There were strange colorful flowers, large mushrooms, and vines of swirling colors. The light almost seemed to be coming from the plants. It was as if the entire area sparkled with an inviting glow. It was almost… Magical.
Which only made Kody more interested. He knew a bit about magic. But as far as he had known this had just been a normal mundane forest. If there was some secret enchanted forest in the back then he absolutely wanted to know more about it. Forget his earlier thoughts, nature walks were awesome.
Kody followed the new path deeper into the forest. The vegetation continued to grow thicker as the area continued to grow brighter. Kody wanted to gather a few of the plants, see what kind of properties they had, but he was unable to identify them. And nothing to collect them with other than his bare hands. He decided for now it was best to just leave them alone and see where the trail went.
At the point Kody had reached the trail was starting to become difficult to make out. There were still traces of it, but wild plants had grown over it. This was about as far as he could go, at least with what he had on him right now. If he came back tomorrow with some gloves, and something to hack away at some of this vegetation, he could make it further. At least for now he could be satisfied that he had found something. He turned to leave.
“Leaving so soon?” He heard a girlish giggle. “But you’re so close to the village at this point. Why not stay and play for a little bit?”
“You want me to play?” Kody glanced around looking for the voice. “Who are you?”
“Now that’s rude.” The voice giggled. “Asking for a name without giving one in turn. I think the real question is who are you?”
“I’m…” Kody paused. This thing had evaded the question about his own name. Kody was aware that there was power in a name. That power varied from creature to creature, and to most humans had almost no power whatsoever. But, many supernatural creatures on the other hand… You could force them to do your bidding if you had their name. And they could do all manner of things to you if they had yours. “Someone of no importance.” Kody gave his own evasive answer.
“This one doesn’t know how to play.” The voice pouted. And then the source of it revealed itself. It appeared to be a young girl, no older than eight. However, she was only about three inches tall, had light green skin, and a pair of translucent wings coming out of her back. She wore no clothing, and her body radiated light and seemed to drop buts of glittering dust with every movement she made. A faerie! He had made the right call not to say his name.
“So, there’s a faerie village then?” Kody asked. That explained who was maintaining the trail. It also explained why no one had bothered to clear away the trees that were blocking the way. This was likely intended as a way to protect people from accidentally wondering into the territory of the faeries. And Kody had forced his way in. At least now he had his guard up for any tricks. Perhaps he wouldn’t be coming back tomorrow after all.
“Oh yes. I’d love to show it to you.” The faerie girl grinned. “Just tell me to take you.”
“I think I’ll pass.” Kody wasn’t sure if agreeing would give her any power or not. But it could easily be taken as him agreeing to any number of ways for her to show him the village. “I really should be getting home.”
“Spoil sport.” The faerie pouted. If she was acting like that Kody had made the right decision.
“Well, see you around.” Kody waved at her and immediately turned to leave. He wasn’t sticking around here any long than he needed to.
“If you say so…” The faerie sounded sad. Kody tried to avoid turning back to look at her. He didn’t want to do anything that might encourage her. However, it appeared the young faerie was too stubborn to give up just like that. Suddenly, Kody felt something small dive into him. He looked down to find the faerie clinging to his pockets.
“What are you doing?” Kody asked.
“Seeing you.” The faerie responded in a manner that implied she was amused. Then she suddenly took off flying away from Kody, but pulling his wallet out of his pocket as she went. She flew up into one of the higher branches far above Kody. Were it not for her glowing body he wouldn’t even have been able to see her.
“Hey give that back!” Kody shouted at her.
“I will in a moment. I’m only borrowing it.” The faerie giggled. “I mean, you think I have much use for most things in your wallet?” As she spoke the wallet dropped from the branch landing on Kody’s head. “I just needed to see you.”
“What does that even mean?” Kody asked as he opened the wallet up to see if anything was missing. Then he froze. Indeed, something was. His driver’s license.
“So… Kody is it?” The faerie asked. She had just been after his name. “I guess it’s a nice name, but you know, I think I’d rather call you kitty.”
“Now don’t you think for a second you can mrooooow-“ Kody was unable to finish his sentence. Gray striped fur erupted over his entire body as he himself suddenly began to drop drastically in size. He felt his clothes slip off of him, not that it mattered as his now completely fur covered body dropped onto all fours. His face pushed out into a small muzzle where whiskers sprouted and his ears became pyramid shaped, moving to the top of his head. A long thin tail grew from his spine, gray with dark gray stripes running along it. Sitting in a pile of clothing that had fit just moments ago was a gray tabby cat. “Meoooow.”
“Don’t get so angry.” The faerie replied. “Kitty sounds much better than Kody.” She flew down from the branch and dropped his license. “You can have this back now, already seen you.”
“Meooow!” Kody may have been stuck as a cat now, but he also knew cats were agile and adept at catching small things. He leaped through the air and swatted at the faerie, hoping to catch her and force her to change him back. She giggled and flew up out of his range.
“You’re a hyperactive one.” She grinned. “You know you’re much cuter like that… But, you could be cuter. I mean… Why be a big kitty when you can be a kitten?”
“Mrowl!” Kody turned his head away and tried to give what he thought was a neutral response. He wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction. But he knew what was coming. His tail grew shorter, his body even smaller, and much rounder. It wasn’t long before he was a small baby kitten. But… He was still bigger than the faerie. And a baby kitten was more capable than a baby human. He sat with his back to the faerie and swished his short tail while deliberately ignoring her.
“Ah come on don’t be like that, just trying to have some fun.” The faerie flew closer to Kody. His ears twitched. He couldn’t see her like this, but he could hear the fluttering of her wings. He waited till she was close, then suddenly turned around and sprung, pouncing on her. He successfully caught her off guard and managed to pin her to the forest floor.
“Meoooow!” Kody declared triumphantly.
“Oh, you’re a sneaky one.” The faerie however didn’t seem slightly disturbed about being captured. “You know I was going to just play with you for a little bit… But I like you a lot. I think I’ll keep you.” She paused. “But, you’re a bit big to take back to the village like that. Gotta fix that.”
Before Kody’s eyes the faerie he had pinned to the ground suddenly seemed to grow in size. The truth was that he was shrinking. Down and down he went, until he was sitting in the lap of the faerie that just moments ago had been pinned beneath his paw. If she had been the size of a normal human child he would have been the size of a normal kitten by comparison.
“M-mew?” Kody realized he didn’t have any power in this situation. But he then huffed and jumped out of her lap again turned his back to her. That didn’t mean he had to admit it.
“Oh, come on don’t be like that.” The faerie walked along to the ground to Kody, knelt next to him and began to rub his ears.
“M-eoooow!” Kody objected, or at least tried. But the sensation was so pleasant. He found himself purring against his own will. The sensation of having his ears scratched was simply to pleasant to resist! He leaned into them, and as he did the faerie picked him up off the ground and cradled him like a baby. Then with one hand she began to gently rub his belly. That felt even better. His purring intensified, despite his best efforts to appear uninterested in what was happening.
“You’re trying to play it cool, but you’re loving this.” The faerie giggled again. “You’re almost as loud as one of those engines you humans make. Acting so aloof, but loving the attention. You sure you weren’t a kitty before I found you?”
“Mrow!” Kody couldn’t really answer. So, he just made a noncommittal sound just to say something.
“Hmmmm. Yup. Definitely a cat.” The faerie nodded. “If you weren’t born as one, it was clearly a cosmic mistake. Don’t worry, we’ve fixed that. Now, let’s head back to the village. I want to show you off. Oh, and we’ve got plenty of cream for you to drink.”
“Meoooow!” Kody tried to object to being kept as a pet, but the faerie took to the sky and clutched him tighter to her chest. As she did she scratched his ears again and he got distracted by the sensation that he soon lost track of where they were in the forest as the faerie flew ahead.
“By the way, you asked my name earlier.” The faerie sounded playful. “And it’s not like you can say it now. But, you can call me Hibiscus.” She grinned. “It’s not my actual name. But it’s something you can use if you ever learn to talk again.”
“Mrowl?” Kody tried to give her a quizzical look. It was somewhat difficult while being carried over her shoulder.
“That doesn’t mean I’m changing you back.” The faerie replied. “Isn’t being a little kitten who gets to live with the faeries much better than some boring old mortal who dies after like what? Eighty years?” She gave Kody a pat on the head. “But… That’s not saying you won’t ever be able to talk again. Maybe I’ll give you the ability… Or maybe you’ll figure it out all on your own?”
“Meow?” That gave Kody pause. Did that imply he was still capable of speech somehow? And he just had to figure out how? Was there magic involved? Or was it just something of learning to practice with what sounds a cat could make. He tried to say ‘Hello’ just as a basic word to get there. “Mer-ooow.” He managed.
“Oh, trying already?” Hibiscus gave him another affectionate pat. “Everyone back at the village is going to love you.” She squeezed him affectionately. “You know, you’re lucky you’re so adorable. So many mortals waste their lives searching for immortality then perish having accomplished nothing. You had it fall into your lap. Just, a smaller fluffy version of immortality.”
“Meow.” Kody responded with a sigh. He had already started to suspect it based on other remarks she made. But it looked like he wasn’t going to be getting any older anytime soon. A tiny baby kitten kept as a pet by a faerie. That was his role in life now.
But… Immortality implied he’d be around for a very long time. That meant that he didn’t need to hurry to find a way to turn around his fortunes. He literally had all the time in the world. And… Living rent free as a kitten for a few centuries might be a nice break from some of the responsibilities and annoyance that came with adult life. He supposed he could play along with this pet thing for now. Then whenever he got bored of it… If he got bored of it, he could start working on a way to figure out how to get back to normal.
Of course, just because he had decided he was going to go along with this didn’t mean he was going to just immediately give in to the faerie. He had his pride. He was going to be difficult just for the sake of difficulty even if he gained nothing out of it and it actually delayed him from getting things he wanted and-
Oh wow. She was right. He was already a cat in some ways before the change. That was a strange revelation. One he would think on a lot over the next few years. But not right now. Because all his thoughts were pushed to his head as the faerie reached her free hand for him again and he discovered the wonder that is chin scritches.
“Let’s go home you little cutie.” The faerie giggled again as she approached an area of the forest full of small glowing sparkling lights.