The peasants had prayed to the heavens night after night for delivery from the tyranny of Lord Molcifax. Tonight, their prayers were about to be answered. Lotti had cast the bones, and determined that a Shifter would descend and merge with one of their children.
Tonight, the moons would reach alignment at the center of the Diamond in the sky. Seven stars, perfectly ordered. One circle already in position. The other sliding in front of it. Not a moment to lose. In haste, the peasants lined up their hundred children side by side, oldest to youngest, at the center of the prayer ground. They prayed whomever the Shifter would fill would be worthy.
When alignment was reached, the rays of the moons slid through the prayer crystal and fell upon Sariah, the twelfth-youngest child in line, the shiest child in the lot. A gasp went up from the crowd.
Then Sariah collapsed.
Three days had passed before she rose again, and there did indeed seem to be something different about her. She left her bed and walked to the prayer ground with a lithe but inexperienced grace. She seemed to sense things no one else could, and every so often a mischievous smile would appear on her face. The peasants followed her, speculating as to the result of the change.
“She must be a fox. Only a fox smiles like that.”
“Fox, heh! There’s a hunter in those eyes. I’ll bet you anything she’s a wolf.”
“Ridiculous, both of you. See how she glides? Clearly a snake.”
But Sariah, whatever her new aspect, was still a girl of nine years. And so, like any young girl, she was wounded deeply when her family, friends, and people reacted to her first transformation.
“A kitten?! That’s all? We need a lioness, a tigress, to destroy Molcifax!”
“This is how the gods choose to laugh at us. She’s not even a common housecat.”
“I suppose our fate is in our own hands.”
Sariah mewled, but everyone ignored her and left. She Shifted back into her human form, wiped away a few tears, then sat on the prayer ground and thought.
The gods gave me this form for a reason, Sariah concluded. They would not be so capricious as to handicap the person they meant to be the savior of her people. What I am is what I need. So, then…what advantages does a kitten have?
Sariah considered the question, and eventually devised a plan. Then she Shifted and walked to Molcifax’s estate. She waited in hiding until Nalle, Molcifax’s only girl, was picnicking in the rear garden, then ambled out cautiously. Nalle saw her at once.
“Oh, aren’t you adorable! Would you like something to eat?”
Sariah shied away from Nalle’s hand, but once the meat was tossed on the ground, she sniffed and then nibbled it. A few minutes later, she was taking meat from Nalle. A few minutes after that, she lay in Nalle’s lap, contentedly purring as she was stroked.
“I’ve always wanted a little kitten of my own. Would you like to be my kitten, precious?”
And so Sariah became known as Precious, and gained entrance to the house of Molcifax. Shortly thereafter, of course, she destroyed the house in a blaze of fire, saving only Nalle from the household and slashing the throat of Molcifax with her claws as she slept. But that’s the less interesting part of the story, isn’t it?
You know how kittens can be.
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