William Swiftwood visits Springntide, and encounters Zeelo after his previous adventure.
Today was an odd day. Of that, Will was absolutely sure. A large part of that was the fact that the gray fox was now walking through the woods completely naked except for his green feathered hat, exposing his orange framed white belly and chest. His black furred paws took careful deliberate steps as he moved, and his orange ears twitched as he listened to the sound of the forest around him. His current attire was not exactly by choice, but a side effect of him now being four years old. Will wasn’t from this world, or normally a child. Back in his own world he had discovered a magic mirror in an estate sale of a local wizard who had disappeared. When Will looked into the mirror, it reflected himself as a young child. Curiosity got the better of him, and when he investigated the mirror he fell straight through it as he touched the surface. A moment later he landed in a flowery meadow, now a child and his formerly fitting clothing a tangled mess upon him.
In hindsight, Will probably should have guessed the mirror would somehow regress him. It was far from the only thing that could that to people in his world. Heck, he made and sold potions that could do it! Though those weren’t quite his specialty, but he made them on occasion. The alternate world on the other side of the mirror though? That was a shock. After recovering from his shock, Will discovered he could easily return to his proper world and age by simply going through a hollow in a nearby oak tree. But… Once seeing how easy it was to travel between these two worlds, curiosity got the better of him and he decided to return to this world of youth to find out more about exactly what this place was.
He did run into one problem exploring though, and that was the simple fact his clothes were now too big. Judging from the fact that the meadow was actually filled with piles of abandoned clothing, he wasn’t the only one with this problem. So, with some reluctance he had abandoned his clothing, except for the hat. It was way too big, constantly flopped down in front of his face, but he liked that hat so was going to keep it anyway!
After some exploring, Will had come across a large forest, and he realized this might be a rare opportunity. Whatever this place was, it was clearly magical in nature, so there were probably a number of rare nuts, berries and herbs growing here he could use to brew new potions. The temptation of these new reagents was just too great. And that was why he was now walking naked as a four-year-old through the woods.
After a few minutes of exploring, he paused when he came across a strange bush covered in blue and green striped berries. Will had never seen fruit like this before. He slowly picked a few off the bush and examined them in his paw. He had no idea if they were magical, or even safe to ingest, so he’d have to find a way to test that. They also turned out to be incredibly fragile. Will had only slightly closed his palm, when the berries bursts, leaking a purple juice all over his paw.
“Ugh, sticky.” Will dropped the berries and began to shake his paw trying to get the juice off. As he did, he became aware of a strange sensation. The forest seemed to be getting bigger… And his hat was starting to feel a little heavy on his head. It didn’t take long to realize what was happening. He was shrinking! And with his clothes and gear left behind, he didn’t have any concoction on him he could use to try and counter it! Well, at least he knew what kind of potion the berry could be used in.
Will shrunk swiftly, and he disappeared completely beneath his hat as it fell to the forest floor. After a few seconds, a very tiny figure, no bigger than a picnic ant crawled out from beneath the hat and stared up at the now even bigger forest.
“This is a bit inconvenient…” Will wasn’t even sure which way led him back out of the forest. He couldn’t even see the trees beyond the skyscraper sized blades of grass. He was completely disoriented having been shrunk so small and couldn’t even guess which direction he should go. He fell onto his bottom, and just sat there dumbfounded, not even sure what to do now.
But, then his ears twitched as he heard a strange sound. It was a small crackling sound. With no real other options, Will got up to go investigate the noise. After a few minutes, he found the enormous freeway sized roots of a giant tree and the source of the sound. There was a brown round shaped object sitting underneath the tree root. As Will got closer he saw that it was an egg, and cracks were forming as it started to hatch.
On a previous adventure, Zeelo had been shrunken and transformed into an egg. A friend had found his egg and secured it within his bag, but had not accounted for just how small the egg was. There was a small hole in the bag from it being well used, barely big enough to even be noticed. However, it was big enough for something as small as Zeelo’s egg to slip right out of while exploring one day, and no one knowing exactly where or when the egg vanished too. Even if they had guessed the forest, the egg had rolled beneath a tree root, placing it well out of sight and reach of anyone normal sized. Zeelo, unaware of all of this, had been asleep inside his egg for nearly a week. When he finally awoke he found himself in a dark cramped place with no idea what was going on. He tried to remember what had happened before this… He recalled him and his new friends fighting the Phantom Draco… And during the fight he had been transformed into a very tiny kobold. Wait, he had been bug sized before the fight… Then… Draco had used his fire breath to turn him into a dragon first, and then a kobold. Zeelo then remembered getting hit by the fire breath a third time, and suddenly a sense of drowsiness overtaking him. After that, he had just been in blissful slumber till now.
So…. What had happened and where was he?
Zeelo pushed against the walls surrounding him, trying to find a way out of wherever he was. Much to his surprise and delight, the walls started to crack. A slimmer of light shone through, encouraging him to push harder as more and more cracks formed. And then, half of the wall gave way completely and he tumbled back out into the outside world. He immediately tried to stand up, found his legs unwilling to work with him. He looked down at himself, seeing familiar brown scales. He was still a kobold, but… He was even pudgier than before. He turned and looked behind him to see what he had been imprisoned in. He saw the remains of a giant egg.
Oh. That was what happened. Draco had turned him into an egg! And now that he was just a very tiny kobold hatchling! And judging by the fact that the grass around here was enormous, he was still shrunken… But where was everyone else? There was one other person here… Someone almost as tiny as him… A gray fox? Didn’t look like any of his friends, but he had learned appearances could change here.
“Abwuh?” Zeelo attempted to ask who Will was. It didn’t work.
“Uhhhhh…” If Will had been confused before, now he was more so. He had just watched the world’s tiniest kobold egg hatch beneath a tree. The little guy was even more vulnerable out here than him. He slowly approached the kobold and knelt down to be eye level with him. “Uh… Hey there little guy?” He reached out a paw and patted Zeelo on the head.
“Abuwh rooaawr!” Zeelo protested. He didn’t need to be treated like a child! Okay, this clearly wasn’t anyone he knew, as he didn’t recognize Zeelo. “Bwuaawwr!” Zeelo tried to communicate this, as he settled onto his hands and knees and began to crawl. He wasn’t sure where he was crawling to, but he wasn’t going to stand here and be treated like a baby.
“Hey! It’s dangerous for you to just go off on your own.” Will temporarily forgot his own problems, concerned for the safety of the newborn. He followed after the hatchling through the grass, as something else came into view that made him freeze. Giant, slightly squished blue and green striped berries leaking purple juice. Well, he was going to make sure to give those a safe distance.
Zeelo on the other hand, was completely unaware of the berries’ nature. However, he was aware of the fact that having just hatched from an egg, he hadn’t eaten in a long while, and the world had been kind enough to leave a snack laying out in a place that even he could reach it. He happily crawled towards the berry hoping to fill his empty belly.
Seeing the kobold mover towards the berry roused Will to action. “Hey, wait stay away from that!” He shouted and ran after the infant. He had gotten Zeelo’s attention, but it had been too late. The kobold placed one paw down where the purple juice had leaked and turned to look back at why the fox was shouting.
And he saw the fox was getting bigger! As was… The forest and… Oh no, not again! He had already been shrunken twice, and now he was getting even smaller!?
“Rooooaaawr!” Zeelo protested, but despite his cries the shrinking continued as he dwindled into insignificance.
“Hang on.” Will sprinted forward hoping to save the kobold from getting so small he got lost in the juice. By the time he reached the side of the puddle, Zeelo was as small as one of his hands. He quickly grabbed the kobold by the tail and lifted him away from the juice. However, the exposure had been long enough and Zeelo continued to shrink all the way until will was holding a very tiny kobold that looked no bigger than an ant in comparison to himself. He very carefully set the tiny kobold down in his other hand, trying to be as gentle as possible with the tiny thing.
“Grooooaawr.” Zeelo was overwhelmed, the forest didn’t even look like a forest anymore, but a mixture of colors and rough surfaces. He was so small, that he would have been naked to the human eye. Will was likely the only person in existence who’d even be able to see Zeelo right now due to his own size… And the ant sized fox now looked like a kaiju. “Roooaaawr.” Nervous about facing things in this world by himself, Zeelo crawled over to one of Will’s fingers and clung to it for safety.
“There… There…” Will tried to soothe Zeelo. “It’s okay… If there’s a berry that can shrink people, there’s probably another one that can make them bigger!” Will was trying to convince himself as much as Zeelo. He also left out the fact that searching the forest from this vantage to find these berries, if they existed, was going to be a real trick. Still, looking for an antidote to this little problem was better than just sitting around doing nothing.
“Hey… I’m probably going to need my hands.” Will raised the paw containing Zeelo up to near his head. “At this size, pretty sure I’m going to have to climb to reach anything. Maybe you should hang out up there so I don’t accidentally well… Yeah, you should hang out up there.”
“Rawr!” Zeelo got the message. As quickly as he could, he crawled from Will’s outstretched palm and onto his head. Once there, he grabbed two handfuls of hair to help keep himself in place. Then, he settled down. Being inside Will’s fur like this was surprisingly comfortable. The fox was so soft and warm.
“Okay, right. Finding an antidote.” Will muttered as he looked out through the giant expansive forest. “Easy. Right?” It was going to be a long day.
It was several hours before Will found anything promising. Navigating the forest was difficult. Unable to see anything from the ground, he would often have to climb up a single grass blade to get an idea of his surroundings. From there, he could pick a direction to go that looked promising. Meanwhile, Zeelo remained on his head, every now and then falling into a nap. When he was awake, he’d look upward towards the sky, seeing a strange world of blurry shapes and figments. It felt like he was in some alien world.
At long last Will found something that looked promising. He had climbed the stalk of a flower and was now standing on one of its petals. From here he could see another berry bush in the distance. This one had berries with green and blue pinstripes. That was promising… The stripes going in a different direction could mean they were opposite the ones they had been exposed to. The bush was still a long walk away though, and then a climb.
“Hmmmm.” Will looked down at the flower he stood on. “I’ve got an idea, hang on tight.” He pulled at one of the flower petals until he tore a piece off almost as big as he was. He grabbed each end of his petal with a paw and held it above his head. Then, he leaped from the top of the flower in an attempt to use the petal as a parachute.
It worked! Will and Zeelo’s combined weight was so insignificant it did nothing to accelerate the petal’s descent. By hanging on, Will was able to glide the entire distance to the bush saving himself quite a bit of time.
“Roawr broooawr!” Zeelo clapped his hands applauding the fox’s ingenuity.
“Thanks.” Will smiled and then looked up at the berries. “And now we climb.”
The climb looked intimidating, but was actually surprisingly easy. The world was full of handholds for someone as small as Will, and the process of climbing was far less exhausting and intensive than it should have been. He realized why pretty quickly. Being this small, he weighed so little that it didn’t require much strength to lift his entire body. There was a reason that ants could lift a hundred times their body strength, and it wasn’t just them being super creatures. It was because of their size. Climbing the base of the bush, and then later leaves and branches was a trivial task, and in minutes Will and Zeelo found themselves standing on a branch containing the berries.
“Alright, we need to find a way to test these.” Will stared at the berries suspiciously. “We have no guarantee they’ll do what we want.” But as he said it, he knew there wasn’t exactly anything to test the berries on. They hadn’t actually encountered any animal life, a fact that actually somewhat relieved Will. A giant squirrel of doom could certainly have made things difficult. But… It wasn’t safe to test the berries on himself without knowing what they’d do… And he certainly wasn’t about to endanger the newborn by using him as a guinea pig.
“Roawr bwuh?” Zeelo asked unsure of why they were hesitating.
“Just figuring out how to test them.” Will responded. Then an idea hit him. “I bet if I can knock some of these to the ground some forest critter will eventually show up for lunch. Then we can watch safely from up here to see what happens.”
“Rawr!” Zeelo liked this plan. He especially liked the part where they were way up high away from where the experiment was taking place.
“Alright…” Will reached out and grabbed a nearby branch, then using that pushed himself down on the current branch. He then started to push and pull himself back so as to shake the branch in an attempt to dislodge some of the berries. Will was definitely getting results. He could see some of the berries shifting, starting to sag as their connection to the tree was damaged. Just a few more seconds and-
Several of the buries exploded all at once, sending juice flying everywhere and completely soaking Will and Zeelo, knocking them from the branch all the way back down to the forest floor. Thanks to their small size, they were unharmed from the fall.
“Oh come on!” Their dignities on the other hand. “What kind of berry is so plump it explodes when shaken! Fruit isn’t soda!” He face pawed, only to realize that he wasn’t gross and sticky. The juice that landed on him had already evaporated. Come to think of it… The sticky sensation had disappeared from his paw after he shrunk. That had to have something to do with how their magic work. Still… What was going to happen now?
He didn’t have to wait long to get an answer… As suddenly there was a loud ‘sproing’ and his ears suddenly stretched out super long. There was then a tinier ‘sproing’ as Zeelo’s did the same.
“Oh no…” Will muttered as the changes began.
Both of them had their muzzles grow shorter and wider. Zeelo’s scales soon gave way to fur. Both their tails shrunk down until they were just small little tufts on their backside. They were forced down onto all fours as their hind legs became larger, and their body shapes more round. It only took a few seconds, and then there was a very tiny gray and white bunny lost amount the grass, with an even tinier baby brown bunny lost in his head fur.
“Squeak.” Will tried to mutter in annoyance, but an adorable yet annoyed sounding squeak was the best he could get. You know what, that was it. It was far better to try to get out of this forest and find his way home. If he was still tiny and a bunny when he returned to his own world at least he’d know what potions could get him back to normal.
“Squeeeak?” Zeelo was trying to inquire what they should do now.
“Squeak.” Will nodded. He knew Zeelo couldn’t understand, but at least sounded determined in his answer. It was time to leave this world, for it was a ridiculous silly place.