Part of the pet shop collaboration I worked on with Terri the Dragon. Trickster is going back to school… But not as a student.
Magical Pet Shop: Trickster
Story By CalextheNeko
Art by Terri the Dragon
Trickster Owned by Trickster9800
Trickster was jostled from his sleep by the fact the entire world was shaking and moving. What the heck was going on? He was in some kind of dark container with just a few slits of light coming through the top. Last thing he remembered was filling out a job application at a pet shop… And now this. Whatever he was inside, it was in motion as he found himself slid into the wall of his container. A wall that felt like cardboard? Was he in a box? Why was he in a box! And… Why did everything feel so… Off. Just the way he perceived the world felt off. It was as if every sensation was suddenly more intense, as if his senses had been magnified. Though he couldn’t see beyond whatever box he was in, he could the excited noises of several people, mostly younger children. He twitched his ears trying to listen in and get a better idea of what was going on but then paused. Twitched his ears? That… wasn’t right.
Trickster moved a hand up to touch his ears. Or tried to at least but this also gave him pause. Mostly, because his hand was not a hand. He could clearly see that covered in a combination of dark and light brown covered fur and looked more like an animalistic paw… And come to think of it, it was pretty dark inside this box. How could he even see anything to begin with? It was pretty clear by now he wasn’t his normal self… But even if he could see in the dark somehow there wasn’t a good way to really examine himself while cramped into such a small space.
Luckily, it was at this exact moment that the top of his prison opened up and light flooded in. Trickster found himself temporarily blinded from the sudden change and as a result didn’t even see the giant pair of hands that had grabbed onto him until he had been lifted up high into the air.
“Brown? That’s different. Usually black is traditional.” The owner of the hands had a young voice. As Trickster’s vision clear he saw he was being held at face level with them. It was a young boy… Probably no older than eight or nine. They had curly brown hair, blue eyes hidden behind thick round glasses and were dressed in some kind of black and silver robe. It looked like they were trying to cosplay as some kind of wizard. Also, they were massive. Like… Easily ten times Trickster’s size! He began to squirm as he realized they had a firm grip on his body. After a few seconds of this, he relaxed realizing it was useless and instead began to look around. He was in a rather large room, with several couches, bookshelves, a fireplace and several other kids who were dressed in similar robes to the ones holding him.
“Mew?” Trickster tried to question the giant child. However only a tiny squeaking noise came out instead. Apparently, he couldn’t talk. That was annoying. “Mrooow meoooooow!” He gave speech a second attempt, but no words would form properly with his current mouth.
“… Eh, do you not like being held?” The giant boy slowly lowered Trickster down onto a coffee table and sat him next to what appeared to be a large cardboard box with slits cut in it. Actually, it was about the right shape for a shoebox… But of course had been big enough for Trickster to fit inside. Then again… Given how big all the children were… It seemed logical for Trickster to conclude that he was rather small right now… It might indeed have been just a shoebox.
Constrained by neither the box or the child’s hands, Trickster was finally able to look over himself. He tried to stand up, but found it impossible to maintain his balance on two legs for longer than a couple of seconds. It became fairly obvious as to why as he walked in a quick circle trying to get a look at his own body. He wasn’t human anymore… Which he had already figured out, but now he could get a proper idea of what he looked like. Brown fur covered his entire body. It was fairly light over most of his body, but in a few sections such as the tips of his paws and tail (which he had a tail now, that was a thing) the fur was a much darker brown. In a few other areas, like his stomach and chest, the fur was a much lighter shade, almost a cream color.
There wasn’t a mirror nearby so Trickster couldn’t see his face, but he could guess as to what most of his body moved like. He sat back on what he assumed were his hind legs now and began to reach his hands… or forepaws up around his face in order to feel the shape of it. He had a slight muzzle… And thin little hairs sticking out of his face… Oh! Whiskers! And then his ears… He remembered how they had twitched. They were on top of his head, triangular in shape. He brought his paws back down and stared at them for a moment instead. Small black pads formed on the bottoms of them… And he felt something on the tip… Trickster tried flexing his fingers… or toes slightly. As he did short little claws slid out of sheaths on the end of them. He had retractable claws. That pretty much confirmed it. He was a cat now. He then looked back at his tail. It wasn’t very long. He wasn’t a very old cat! Just a kitten! But… He had been an adult previously! Then again… He had been human previously. He supposed somehow magically turning into a kitten made just about as much sense as magically turning into an adult cat. Still… How had he gotten into this? He had been at that pet shop… And come to think of it… Those job postings had been listed on kennels for some reason and… Yeah, that was the last thing he remembered before waking up in the box. So… Something had happened to him there. Probably… Unless this was a dream or something. It didn’t feel like a dream… But Trickster decided it wouldn’t hurt to check. He didn’t really have fingers to pinch himself… So instead he opted for using those new claws of his to scratch at his own head and…
“MROOOOOWL!” That smarted! Definitely not a dream.
“I think your new cat is a little touched in the head…” Another voice spoke up from another boy who was sitting on the couch next to the one that had been holding Trickster previously.
“He’s fine!’ The first boy insisted. “Probably… Just a little shaken up because he was in that fox for so long!”
“So, what are you going to name him?” The other boy asked.
“Haven’t decided…” The first boy leaned back and looked thoughtful. “I feel like something like Mittens is a bit too cliched. Maybe he already has a name?”
Trickster looked back and forth between the two children trying to follow what was going on. It wasn’t too hard to put two and two together. They were talking as if the first boy owned him, as if Trickster was nothing more than some kind of pet. Then again… He was a cat… And he had just come out of box like some kind of birthday or Christmas gift. From the kids’ point of view he probably looked like nothing more that a common pet… But then why would they think he already had a name? He supposed if he was a gift from a parent or something it was kind of possible but…
“I’m gonna ask him directly what he wants to be called!” The first boy smiled and reached into his robes. Suddenly he produced a long thin wooden stick. It looked like a magic wand from a fantasy series. He was really committing to this fantasy costume stick. “Nota Viculum.” A trail of blue sparks erupted from the tip of the stick and rained down over Trickster’s body.
‘GAH THAT WAS UNPLEASANT!’ Trickster objected loudly. The sparks didn’t so much hurt when they touched him… But it was like receiving a bunch of tiny static shocks all over his body… It had really caught him off guard! He chided himself mentally for this. Of course the kid would be a real wizard and not just wearing a costume. Trickster had somehow magically transformed into an animal. That should have been more than enough evidence for him to accept magic and by extension wizards were real. But it was all just a little disorienting to be learning all this at once! He hadn’t had time to properly process it.
“It was?” The boy’s eyes widened. “I’m sorry! I didn’t know the spell would hurt!”
‘I mean it didn’t hurt exactly it just-‘ Trickster paused. He was talking to the boy… Except… When he spoke, he didn’t really speak. His own ears could pick up his voice. He was still just mewing like a normal kitten. And yet… Now those mews seemed to have meaning behind them now… And the boy had clearly responded to him. ‘Are… Are you able to understand me?’
“Of course!” The boy puffed out his chest as if proud. “That’s how the spell works! I mean… I’m only in third grade! But I’m told I cast spells on a fifth grade level!”
“Stop boasting to your cat and tell me what he’s saying.” The other boy chimed in annoyed.
‘Okay… This is different…” Trickster paced back and forth on the coffee table. ‘Why can’t he understand me?’
“Because the spell is a Familiar Bonding spell.” The first boy explained. “Connects one mage and one familiar.” He paused as if trying to remember something. “It’s like… Not that it lets us talk, but makes it so that we always understand each other. Otherwise… We couldn’t work together!” It was clear he was trying to recite details, likely from some academic text but couldn’t recall the exact verbatim.
‘I… See…’ Trickster was taking a moment to process all of this. So… He could communicate with one person at least… Now what? Did he just try to blurt out the whole story… Explain he was supposed to be human, not a cat and hope the boy could fix that? Would he? Would he even believe that? Whatever was going on… It didn’t seem like the boy was the one responsible for changing Trickster. If anything, the new kitten had just been delivered to him after it happened. For now, he should probably just try to get more information. ‘So… In this bond thing… I’d take it you’re the mage… So that makes me the familiar?’
“Yup!” The boy smiled and held out a hand. “Name’s Philo pleased to meet you!” After a brief second the boy seemed to remember that Trickster was a cat… And that the usual handshake wasn’t the greeting he wanted to go with. His hand wavered for a second… Before instead reaching behind Trickster and lightly scratching him behind the ears.
The sensation was heavenly. Trickster found himself making a loud purring noise and leaning his head into the scratches, completely forgetting that he was trying to get more information. He had just never felt anything quite like that. When Philo tried to pull his hand back Trickster playfully bit at his hand without thinking, trying to stop him.
“H-hey!” Philo objected and pulled back his hand faster. “No biting!”
‘I didn’t bite hard!’ Trickster objected. Then he remembered his situation. ‘Erm… I mean… Where was I… Right… A familiar…” He paused. ‘And… what does a familiar do in this case?’
“Shouldn’t you know that already?” Philo seemed taken aback. “Thought all familiars had to go through training or something before they could be sold on the market.”
‘Is that how it works?’ Trickster tilted his head. ‘Well… I can’t say I know anything about that… So, what am I supposed to be doing?’
“Just… You know! Normal familiar stuff!” Philo got quiet for a moment. Trickster began to think he didn’t actually know what was supposed to happen. “Familiars do things like! Um… Help their mage study for tests and… give them extra spell power?”
‘So I’m a basically a magical double A battery and a study partner?’ Trickster supposed that didn’t sound too bad. Come to think of it… The ad in the store had mentioned something about a study partner… It hadn’t really made a lot of sense with the context Trickster had at the time. If he looked at that job description to be for his current role it made a lot more sense… So, it was probably pretty safe to assume that the pet shop was the reason for his change.
“I don’t know what a double A is…” Philo shook his head sadly. “But I think you get the idea?”
“Hey! Hey!” The other boy interrupted. “Why am I being left out of this conversation! Do you have any idea how weird it is hearing only one side of this?” Then the boy flashed a wicked grin. “But it sounds like your familiar knows even less than you do Philo!”
“H-hey! Come on don’t be like that!” Philo objected then turned back to Trickster. “That’s Gawain. He’s a jerk.”
“Am not!” Gawain retorted.
“Are too!” Philo huffed. “And um… Oh right! I was supposed to ask your name! Or am I supposed to give you a name… Cause I was considering maybe something like Cosmic or Creeper or…”
‘It’s Trickster actually.” The kitten hurriedly interrupted Philo before he could list off any other terrible ideas for names.
“He says his name is Trickster.” Philo reiterated for Gawain.
“Huh.” Gawain looked thoughtful. “So is this like… One of those literal names… Where he’s named after what he does? You know, like a mentor that teaches you by tricking you.”
“I mean I don’t think so…” Philo shook his head. “I mean he didn’t even know what a familiar was and made me explain it and-“ Philo paused. “Wait a second… I see what’s going on here… It’s so obvious.”
‘It… Is?” Trickster fixed Philo with a deadpan look. Had the kid just realized Trickster wasn’t supposed to be a familiar or a cat.
“Yeah! You tricked me Trickster!” Philo stuck his tongue out. “Like an honest to goodness familiar wouldn’t even know what he was! It’s so obvious now, you were making me recite the role of a familiar as a test. So… That’s your teaching style huh?”
“If that’s what’s going on sounds like you fell for it to me.” Gawain stuck his tongue out. “I mean you didn’t sound like you were too sure when you were explaining what a familiar was.”
“Quiet Gawain! I was just… Put on the spot! That’s all!” Philo waved his hand dismissively.
‘Um…’ Trickster did his best to raise a paw. ‘It actually really wasn’t a trick. I honestly have no idea what’s going on. See the thing is I’m not even actually a-‘
“Oh I get it…” Philo shook his head. “My parents must have picked out a familiar like you on purpose.”
‘I… Don’t think I follow.’ Trickster gave a sigh.
“They think I’m lazy, so wouldn’t let me have a familiar that can just give me the answers to questions! And I’m not by the way. Not lazy I mean.” Philo explained.
“Yes he is. He hasn’t even made his bed in three years.” Gawain spoke over him.
“Shut up Gawain! That has nothing to do with laziness! Just… Practicality! Making the bed is pointless it’ll just get messed up again!” It was pretty clear to Trickster at this point that Gawain had a talent for pressing Philo’s buttons.
‘It’s not that pointless…’ Trickster objected.
“So you’re going to get onto me about that too?” Philo huffed. “I knew it. My parents really did pick someone out like you on purpose. I bet, anytime I have a question, you’re going to pretend not to know the answer just so I’ll have to figure it out myself. Because otherwise I won’t ‘learn’ anything.”
‘Or you know, it’s possible I just don’t really know the information because-‘ Trickster started.
“Nuh uh! Not falling for it!” Philo crossed his arms. “I got your number! And you’re not going to make me look like an idiot by getting me to repeat some wrong information or something!”
“I don’t think he’s the one who would make you look like an idiot…” Gawain snickered. Trickster couldn’t help but let out a small giggle himself… Well it was more of a light hearted purr.
“Et tu Trickster?” Philo wined. Apparently, whatever spell translated Trickster’s mewing to words also got the point of that laugh across. Still… Despite acting indignant, the child had a huge smile across his face. It was clear he was having a hard time. “To think, my own familiar would treat me so unfairly.”
‘Heh. You’re a little on the melodramatic side. You know that?’ Trickster let out another light hearted purr of laughter. This Philo person didn’t seem like a bad kid. He clearly had no idea what was going on, but his heart seemed to be in the right place. Perhaps Trickster would play along for now. Besides, he wasn’t sure if the kid would believe him if he said he was supposed to be human right now… And it was doubtful Philo would be capable of changing him back. And… Did he want to go back? He wasn’t sure yet… This situation was certainly interesting to say the least. He didn’t quite want to go back to his normal life yet right after learning magic was real. No, not yet. Even if it meant staying a kitten he wanted to play this out for now. Maybe being a cat wouldn’t be so bad.
Besides… He felt like this Philo kid could really use some help. He hadn’t known him long… But left to his own devices he suspected the kid wasn’t going to do very well on his own in school. He could obviously use someone to help him study.
‘Alright I think I’m game for this.’ Trickster spoke up.
“Eh, what do you mean?” Philo asked.
‘Don’t worry about it.’ Trickster purred smugly. ‘So… Tell me, when is your next class?’