Our tales continue, as I Dr. Callyco bring in our tenth tale. This time, or victim is Noel a moogle from Ivalice who knows the dangers of a magic book so tries to show caution, for what good it does him.
Meanwhile at the Lair of Dr. Callyco.
“Books are magic.” Dr. Callyco was sitting in a large faux leather chair with a book propped up his legs and the mouse known as Dr. Cutie Pup sitting in his lap. “And wow for a science guy I talk about magic a lot. Do you think that’s weird? I’m still the hard-core science kitten right?”
“Squeak.” Dr. Cutie Pup gave a non-committal answer.
“Anyway, a good book can take us to a new world. It can change our perspective. In some ways, it can trigger a transformation within us when we truly take in their words.” Dr. Callyco grinned. “And for some books that can be a lot more literal than you’d think. Enter our next guest Noel, an moogle from Ivalice. Studying magic he’s read plenty of books, is even aware of the dangers that comes with some knowledge. And yet, despite that even he can be caught unaware. I bring to you our tenth tale. The Tale of the Wrong Book.”
Thirteen Tales 2020
The Tale of the Wrong Book
The thing about studying magic in school was that once you started, the studying never stopped, not even after graduating. There were always new spells being researched and discovered, new applications of old spells, and of course it would take multiple lifetimes to learn every school of magic. That was why Noel, an Ivalice Moogle with peach fur and a blue pom and red wings was once more back in the halls of his old university. And of course, the university was all too happy to take the moogle’s gil as part of his continuing education. At least since Noel was technically a graduate, he didn’t have to wear the standard school uniform, so was instead dressed in his usual blue coat, trousers and a hat larger than his head.
The university had lessons on just about every time of magic you could think of. White, black, red, blue, green and even time magic. Noel always found it strange that time magic was named after a color, especially since spells manipulating time were only a small part of it.
As a graduate Noel didn’t attend lecture halls. Instead, what he paid for was access to the university’s library, and their collection of rare magical tomes. The library was extensive, including books for the most novice magic users to create just basic light spells to the most advanced magics such as the ability to manipulate the flow of time. Maybe that was wasn’t named after a color. It was easily the most complicated forms of magic with the most that could go wrong. And though that school of magic was of particular interest to Noel previous attempts had at best produced mixed results, but far more often left the moogle in a shape where even the simplest spells were no longer available to him.
But that didn’t mean he was going to give up. You could call it stubbornness or determination, but Noel wasn’t ready to give up on time magic yet. A large part of it was curiosity, once he was able to properly use time magic without accidents what could he potentially do with? And a little bit of it was also determination not ‘loose’ to a school of magic that refused to work for him.
The moogle walked between the library shelves with books stacked high to the ceiling. There were rolling staircases to reach the higher books, but like most things in this world the bookshelves and stairs were made for human sized individuals. As a moogle, Noel could still climb the stairs, though each step up would be a big one. But then even on the top stair he couldn’t reach the top step the top two shelves were beyond his reach. But, moogles had one advantage that many other smaller creatures did not. Wings. They might not have been suitable for long periods of flight, but they were more than capable of letting the moogle hover up and down and maintain a height. Of course, depending on how heavy the book was he pulled off the shelf he might have to land immediately.
“Hmmmm which one kupo?” Noel spoke to himself as he looked through the Time Magic section. Most of the books here were forbidden to be checked out and had to remain on university grounds. The ones that could be checked out though were often lacking in terms of information and variety of spells. Luckily, Noel’s tuition was paid on a yearly basis rather than visit, so once he found the proper book he could easily come back to read more the next day. Plus, the library was a surprisingly good place to practice magic. The entire place was enormous with rows and rows of bookshelves. Magic students almost never bumped into each other, even if studying the same subject the library was so vast. So it was always easy to find a secluded corner where you wouldn’t be bothered to practice some of the spells in the book.
Noel hovered up to the fourth shelf placed his hand on the spine of a book titled ‘Personal Time Dilation.’ That sounded promising, but something about the title set off a red flag in his head. The thing about magic books, was that they were well, magic. Some of them had spells that would only activate when read aloud and performing the proper rituals. Some books would began to work their magic the second someone opened it. Only the librarian could tell you which was which and well… She was just as hard to find in this maze of bookshelves as anyone else.
Noel hovered down to a lower shelf. This time he found a book labeled ‘Time Magic: Back to the Basics.’ Basics sounded good, but he didn’t like the way it was phrased. Based on previous experiences where time magic had gone wrong he had a few ideas on what interpretation of back to basics’ the book would have. He gave that one a hard pass too, then hovered to a shelf on the opposite side of him. Here he finally found a book that sounded promising, or at least sounded safe to open up. ‘Theoretical Time Magic.’ Nothing about that title set off any warning bells for him so he grabbed it off the shelf.
And immediately landed on the ground due to the book being so heavy. Carrying the tome in both arms it was as big as the moogle’s chest as he carried it down the halls looking for a reading area. Upon finally reaching some wooden tables he threw the book up on the table, sat on a bench and flipped the book open. Nothing immediately happened upon the book opening. That was good sign. However, sitting on the bench Noel wasn’t tall enough to easily see over the table to read the book. He could stand on the book, or hover directly above the table, but both of those would get exhausting after a while. Why was everything in this universe so human centric?
Well… There was an easy fix. Most magic books were safe as long as you didn’t open them, and there were plenty around. He’d just grab a couple books to sit atop the bench so he could actually read in peace. Two of the thicker tomes ought to be enough. Noel quickly flew back to the bookshelves and looked for the thickest book he could find. After pulling it off the shelf it turned out to be a real chore to get it back to reading area. That thing was heavy. But, at least that meant it’d be a sturdy seat. He less lifted the book up onto the bench and more pushed it up before returning to the shelves for one more book. It took a good fifteen minutes, but he finally had a stool high enough for him to sit comfortable on and read the book on the table. Noel happily sat down and turned his attention to the book as he looked over the cover and title again. ‘Theoretical Time Magic.’
“Wait…” Noel squinted and stared at the book. “Didn’t I leave this open when I walked away kupo?” He gave the book an untrusting look, as if it might lash out and bite him. After a few minutes of a staring contest with the book he blinked and relaxed. Of all the things a magic book might do, closing itself up when no one was reading was certainly one of the least odd and dangerous things. Feeling confident again Noel opened the book and prepared for what he expected a to be a complicated read.
But he never got the chance to read a single word. The second the book opened a strong gust of wind was unleashed from the book as the pages began to rapidly turn themselves. The book seemed to have infinite pages because no matter how many pages turned the amount remaining never seemed to get any smaller. The pages were moving too fast for Noel to be able to read any of them. But he could see there were symbols… Or maybe runes? He couldn’t get a good enough look to be sure. But either way there was definitely some kind of strange writing inside the book that was glowing on each page.
And then Noel felt himself float upward into the air, and not by his own volition. Noel didn’t understand. He had opened the book earlier and nothing strange had happened. What had changed now? As the moogle was levitated in the air he tried flapping his wings to move but was stuck in place. He tried reaching out for the table hoping he could pull himself to the ground, but the most he was able to reach was the corner of the book. He grabbed onto it and pulled, but all he did was succeed in pulling the dust wrapper off the book, leaving himself still stuck floating in the air and…
“Wait…” Noel examined the wrapper that just slid off the book and then stared down at the book. The book on the table was roughly 3/4ths as tall as the book wrapper. That wasn’t the book Noel had grabbed! Someone had swapped out the book on him and then replaced the dust wrapper so he wouldn’t suspect. Who though? Noel’s moogle ears would have heard their footsteps even when he was retrieving a new book. Noel looks around, the area seemed abandoned. But he thought he saw the shadow of a small winged creature moving down one of the aisles. Noel didn’t get a better look at it because it was at that point the book’s magic decided to do a lot more than just levitate him.
Suddenly, Noel’s face pushed out into a beak. And the fur from his waist up was replaced by a coat of blue feathers. He also began to shrink in in size. He felt his clothes loosening, and but stuck levitating in the air he soon found all of his clothing having slipped right off of his smaller body despite his best attempts as grasping for them. This did allow him to see that the fur beneath his waste had changed as well. It was still peach colored but was much thicker than his original fur.
Noel’s body began to slowly rotate and he found himself floating on his bac looking down at his chest and stomach. His allowed him to see a number of things. One of them was his tiny little tuft of a tail suddenly growing out extremely long and ending with a tuft of blue fur on the very tip of it. Then his feet were stretched out further, becoming animalistic paws with sharp claws on them. His hands on the other hand turned yellow in color and were completely barren of both fur and feathers up to his forearm. However, the tips of his fingers looked quite sharp except… That wasn’t really an adequate description of what was there. He had avian talons where his hands should have been.
“What’s happening?” Noel gave a shout. As he did, he became aware of the fact that he didn’t have any natural instinct to kupo after sentences. He definitely wasn’t a moogle anymore.
Nor was he an adult. As Noel had continued shrinking it became obvious that his body was getting younger. Moogles were always on the small side, so it could be hard to tell their ages sometimes, but Noel was getting a lot younger. His body a little more round and a lot stubbier and weaker. He could probably still stand on two legs, but it’d be difficult. He couldn’t be a day over two years old.
At this point Noel was flipped over again in the air so that he was now floating with his stomach and chest facing downward. And then his walking problem was resolved. As he flailed his arms and legs his arms, or talons began to have more limited movement, and his legs adjusted in length until he was at the point he could easily walk on fours.
“Squaw!?” Noel shouted as the changes continued. His red wings grew large, large enough to allow him to easily fly longer distances, even at this age. His wings also sprouted red feathers all over them, losing their bat-like structure and clearly becoming the wings of a bird. He was a griffin! And not one of the bipedal ones or even talking ones. Just a plain normal griffin cub. If you considered griffins normal in the first place.
Noel almost calmed down now that he at least knew what he had transformed into. But then he became aware of the fact that he was still levitating in the air, and still getting smaller. His body didn’t get younger, but he was still shrinking. Soon he was smaller than a housecat, a size he was fairly confident was too small for a griffin. And still the shrinking didn’t stop. Not until the world was a massive intimidating place. He was around two inches long, no bigger than a mouse.
“Sqwuaaaak!” Noel once more shouted. He wasn’t sure what he was trying to accomplish. Even if someone heard him and found him, they wouldn’t be able to understand him. However, the changes to him seemed to finally stop. The book snapped shut and for a brief moment Noel could read the words on the cover. ‘Stacking Transformative Runes.’ He only had about a second to process it when his body stopped levitating. Had he been ready for it he could have spread his wings and took to the air or at least landed more gently. Instead, he plummeted to the ground, but thankfully landed on something soft. It was also dark, meaning he had landed inside something. After feeling around for a minutes he realized it was his hat. He was stuck inside his own hat.
He started to squirm around and look for the exit when suddenly he felt his hat move. Someone was picking it up with him inside of it, and they were holding the brim of the hat closed together leaving Noel completely in the dark. He couldn’t see who had him or where they were taking him. And strangely enough still could not hear the footsteps of whoever had done this. He considered trying to tear through the hat with his talons, but realized at his size it would take more effort and energy than his body could give at this age.
And he was exhausted for some reason. He was a toddler, and they did tend to take a lot of naps. Though it had been painless, the transformation had still been physically taxing on Noel’s body, and as adrenaline slowly faded fatigue set in. He felt his eyelids start to close. He tried to force himself to stay awake. He had to find out who had just captured him and what they were going to do. But, his body just wouldn’t cooperate. Despite his best efforts Noel drifted off to sleep, and so was completely unaware of the fate about to befall him.
It was several hours before Noel woke up. He was no longer in the darkness of his own hat, but instead a bright lit area. He blinked a few times taking thing in and then realized that there were a series of glass walls surrounding him. He actually had plenty of room to move around, but it was clear he was in some kind of cage. He glanced around, taking in the view and realizing he was in his cage. There was a bottle of water, like one might use for a hamster, attached to the ceiling. Then there was a small bowl filled with seeds and nuts. Wood shavings covered the floor. Then there was a large pillow, at least in comparison to him in the corner. He was currently sitting on the pillow as he looked up.
Having taken in the inside of his cage Noel looked out through the glass. He saw that he was on a shelf that had several more of these glass cages. Looking in another direction he saw across an aisle to the opposite side. Here, there was an assortment of products for small pets. Cage bedding, cages themselves, water bottles, small toys, beds, hammocks and packages of food. Noel finally realized where he was. He was in a pet store!
He paused and looked around to see if he could identify anything else. He noticed that on the top right corner of the front of his cage there was a sticker with writing on it. Noel couldn’t quite make it out from here. He flapped his wings and took to the air to try to get a better look. The writing was on the outside of the cage, but the pen used had been dark enough to bleed through to this side allowing Noel to see the message, albeit completely backwards. It took him a little bit but he was able to figure out the message in its entirety.
‘500 Gil Eeach’
500 gil? Noel felt slightly insulted. He was worth way more than that! Then he remembered the more dire situation that he was currently a tiny griffin cub being sold inside a pet store. He couldn’t speak to cast any spells and it wasn’t like there was going to be a tiny library of magical books in his cage. He had wondered if he could unlatch his cage and exit. However, it looked like the only way to open the cage was from the roof, and the latch was on the outside with no internal mechanism Noel could reach. He wasn’t going to be escaping. Which meant… He was going to be sold as someone’s pet.
Noel considered this for a few moments. It wouldn’t be a terrible fate if is owner was kind and caring. But he wasn’t going to get a say in who bought him. Or could he? An idea occurred to Noel. The pillow was easily large enough for him to hide beneath. He’d keep an eye on shoppers that came through the store. If he felt someone was dangerous or cruel he’d hide beneath the pillow to avoid being seen. Let them think this specific cage was empty. If someone entered the shopped who seemed like a promising owner, then he would do his best to make himself visible, act cute and react to anything they did. Yes, he was pretty sure he could at least manipulate that outcome. If he was going to be a pet, he might as well make sure he wound up as a pampered pet. And it seemed someone else agreed. Suddenly, Noel felt a small weight land on his back.
“Don’t worry.” A familiar voice spoke, one he knew, but it was… different. “I’ll make sure we have a good home.”