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Arkin
You don’t have hands. You’re not built for climbing. You're able to keep a grip on the ledge of the trapdoor for only a moment before your considerable weight drags you down. Your claws rip right through the carpet and leave scars in the ground before you find yourself holding onto nothing but air and begin plummeting towards your imminent demise. You lose sight of James as the trapdoor promptly shoves him back up and out of your rapidly shrinking view.

You panic as you try to right yourself like a falling cat. You would have made a much better cat. Alas, you are a big dumb dog, and your vision fades to white as you slam into the ground.

...

...Okay, so it wasn’t that much of a fall after all. The room you find yourself in is simply covered from top to bottom in pristine white tiles, a look both clinical and mysterious. The lighting is whacky, as if lit from top to bottom, though you can’t distinguish any obvious light source. The tiles simply look white, and the grid of indents between them seems to form the only shadows within the entire room. Even looking straight down only reveals the faintest of shadows beneath you, as if every tile in the room is a light source, or perhaps that you’ve stumbled into a video game with bad graphics.

You weren’t alone, naturally. There were maybe a dozen of them, all garbed in the same goon costume that you can only describe as ‘eastern disciple’. They encircled you, each assuming some sort of fighting stance, with one in particular standing out in front of you. Where every other outfit was a light gray, his was black. He steps forward, breaking the circle.

“Welcome to the white room. It’s brand-new, and tailor-made to make sure you won’t make it out alive.” He walks back towards the wall and presses his hand on one of the tiles. The tile gets pushed into the wall a bit before sliding out like an SD card. The man gestures you over with a wicked grin, and the circle of goons split up a bit to make way for you. You cautiously walk over to get a better angle on the apparatus that slid out of the compartment and find, to your horror, memories of a DS game that never worked for you because of your human handwriting.

“THAT’S RIGHT! THIS IS A PUZZLE ROOM! AND UNLESS YOU CAN SOLVE MATH PROBLEMS IN PROPER HANDWRITING YOU WILL BE TRAPPED HERE FOREVER! MUHAHAHAHAHA!”

He begins doing his best evil laugh. You just stare at him, unamused. Besides the oversized touch screen and stylus, the device is basically just an emulator for the DS game, Dr. Kawashiro’s brain training. You’ve always hated this game because it didn’t recognize your handwriting. He’s right. As a dog, you’ve got no hope, so you do the wisest thing you can think to do in this situation and jump onto the device. He abruptly stops laughing and looks up at you, meeting your mildly annoyed gaze. About a second later the compartment snaps and you fall to the ground, still on top of the device. You maintain eye contact the whole time.

“ERROR. PUZZLE ROOM CANNOT BE COMPLETED. ALLY PRESENCE DETECTED. UNLOCKING DOORS...”

A set of tiles on both sides of the room swing open, revealing two pathways out. You turn back to the man and give him a smug smile. His eyelid twitches.

“Whatever. Whatever! The puzzle room was plan B in the first place! Men, block the doors! Like I said before, this fight is mine! I’m not like the other goons, wolf. I’ve got powers of my own, and when I defeat you, Dr. Wu will give me the promotion I deserve! Behold, your undoing!”

You step back a bit in apprehension as he puts his hands together. He brings his hand behind him, mirroring several figures in popular media as a glowing blue ball of light appears next to his hands.

It can’t be...

The man doesn’t say it, but you can hear his voice in your head. ’Ka... me...’

Fuck this! You have a fight or flight reaction. It’s not the first time you’ve had one, but you’re not exactly accustomed to actually fighting people, and it’s hard not to be cognizant of it even amidst your impending vaporization. You default to flight, because for all you know that blue ball in his hands will just explode even if you rip his head off. This is not much different from choosing to fight, because you find that literally ripping a man’s head off is not that hard. You don’t actually rip a man’s head off though. You only rip his arm off. All it takes is one bite and the fountain of blood is enough to get all of them to flee in terror. You slam the door open, but you hear him call out behind you, “Too late!”

The door opens up to the full width of the hallway beyond, and the opposite end has no door handle to grab onto. You’re left with no recourse as the glowing blue ball of light erupts from his hands, flying directly towards your face. You shut your eyes, turn away, and brace yourself for the worst sunburn of your life.

Instead, you get hit by an inflatable rubber ball.

You open your eyes. The glowing blue ball has bounced off you and landed on the floor. You approach it carefully and poke it. It rolls back a bit but otherwise nothing. You press onto it a bit, finding it actually does have a consistency akin to rubber, and watch as it deforms into an oblong shape before springing back up again when you let go. You poke it with a claw, harder this time, and watch as it deflates into a glowing smudge on the ground.

You look the man in the eye, still splattered in the blood of the earlier goon. He laughs awkwardly. Before you make any moves, he abruptly turns to run through the opposite door. You leap across the room in a single go, shutting the door. He backs away, looking towards the other door, but he knows it’s pointless. The rest of his goons are already gone. He pulls out a gun - finally, the first one you’ve seen, but you bat it away before he can even point it at you, throwing it to the corner of the room. If he had it this whole time, why was he fooling around? You approach him slowly, menacingly, as he falls onto his ass and begins having to drag himself backward to get away.

Then, you show him something you haven’t shown anyone before. You transform in front of him, in a blinding flash of light, into your moth form. The big one. Not nearly as big as your wolf form; you’re still not as large as a human, even counting your wings, but he must be scared of insects or something because he starts screaming. You spread your wings and take off, giving him full view of them. You’re not sure why, honestly, but your instincts tell you this is what you want to do in this situation. As you do, he gradually stops moving, continuing to hyperventilate but holding still instead of trying to get away, blankly staring at your wings with wide eyes, like he can’t help himself.

You’re quite amused. You know moths imitate eye patterns to confuse predators but this outcome is completely unrelated and unnaturally effective. You hover closer to him and open your jaw - also an unnatural feature for moths, considering they typically have a proboscis if any mouth at all. Rows of shark-like carnivore teeth glint in the light of the room as they near his face. His breathing gets so heavy and erratic that he breaks whatever intangible hold you have on him to scream before simply passing out, slamming the back of his head on the ground. Ouch.

A golden glow envelops you once more as you achieve yet another new form. As the light subsides, a pair of dark black wings replaces your big reddish-orange-brown ones. Purple and white specks adorn the edges of your wings, with only four stark white crescent moons to break up the deep abyss of black across the rest.

You were mainly playing around with him. You’re not actually going to eat human flesh, but this result is downright impressive. Your ego balloons and abounds as you exult in your prodigious ability to spread terror. You do a mental fist pump. You’d do a physical one, but your legs don’t bend like that. You could try anyway, but it wouldn’t be the same.

You admit you switched to this form just to scare him, because a giant insect is terrifying, but you also did want to take advantage of finally splitting up in order to try unlocking new forms without spilling the beans. Maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but you’re still holding onto the possibility you’re going to need to keep a form ready to rob a bank or something. Minus James, you are homeless, after all.

You idly wonder if you can still hypnotize people in this form. There’s no point to sticking around in the defunct puzzle room, so you fly down one of the hallways, picking the one with a blood trail, staying in your moth form. You may be enormous by moth standards but your main body is still not as big as an actual human, and your outstretched wings are just barely able to maneuver through the hallways that would normally be considered decently large.

Your question is answered as you come across some more goons and they stop to gawk at you. They seem content to just stare at the moons of your wings even as you come within arm’s reach of them. Seeing no need to fight them, you simply land and squeeze by them. They all turn so as not to break eye contact like a certain animate concrete statue, but in reverse. It’s kind of creepy.

As you look back at them with the kind of disgust a celebrity might have for a bunch of stalkers, you realize you should probably stop them from causing any problems for you once you’re out of sight. You head back and affix them all to the wall with webbing. You’re pretty sure you’re past the point where ordinary opponents can give you new forms in this evolutionary line, but you can’t switch to your weird white caterpillar form without breaking your hold on them, and time is probably of the essence in terms of reuniting with James and Arthur.

You continue through the labyrinthine hallways, following the blood trail for lack of better direction until you find yourself in what seems like a medical wing. Each room within that you pass by has a clear view of the beds inside via large windows. It’s mostly empty, and none of the privacy curtains are drawn. You soon hear noise from the one and only room with any human presence, finding some of the goons sitting outside of it. You ignore them as they get caught staring at your wings and peek inside through the window, only to find the goon whose arm you ripped off laying in the bed with a swarm of doctors around him. You peer at him through the window with morbid curiosity. You were originally going to be one of those doctors before you ended up in the mess you’re in currently. You’re not nearly an expert yet, but his alarmingly high heart rate visible on the heart monitor is indicative of hypovolemic shock. You may not have given him the cleanest of amputations, but he should have been fine if he was treated properly to stem the bleeding. They could probably even reattach the arm. The distance between the puzzle room and the medical wing is only a few minutes.

...

You look at the paralyzed goons with suspicion. Even idiots should know that you’re supposed to stem the bleeding with a tourniquet, but in hindsight, the blood trail has remained pretty thick throughout. Arthur is practically a caveman and he knew to cover his wounds in cloth. You turn back to the window and see that his heart has stopped. They’re busting out the defibrillators now.

You get off the windowsill and turn back to the goons, hissing at them briefly before earnestly trying to verbally speak for the first time since you barked out your name for Arthur.

"҉w҉h҉a҉t҉ ҉d҉i҉d҉ ҉y҉o҉u҉ ҉d҉o҉?҉"҉

Your voice is scratchy, screechy, and generally unpleasant, like nails on a chalkboard crossed with an elderly chain smoker. You’re irritated, because you’re not to blame for this. Nuh-uh. You haven’t taken the hippocratic oath and you may have been under duress but the situation does not sit right with you. Your enthralled captives seem to want to respond but they don’t seem able to. In fact, they’re still staring at your wings. You sigh in exasperation before webbing them all to the wall and finally transforming back into your wolf form.

“YOU!”

“IT’S BACK!”

“WHAT THE FUCK!”

You growl at them, a futile attempt to get them to shut the fuck up and answer your question. Why are they being so loud anyway? Are they trying to distract the doctors? Do they not care about their coworker at all? They stayed behind while the others left, so wouldn’t that mean they’re closer than that?

“We didn’t do anything!”

“Yeah! It was you who bit his arm off! Why are you mad at us!?”

“It’s all your fault! You didn’t have to rip his arm off! We don’t even have guns to defend ourselves!”

These guys really love pissing you off, don’t they. You feel yourself edge closer to a precipice that you don’t want to jump off of. You grit your teeth and let your claws dig into the tiled floor. The tile eventually cracks and the three men shut right up as they finally realize how foolish it is to taunt and blame the monster with their lives in its... paws.

Then, you begin to glow again.

A new form, so soon? For what? For why?

Then, the answer hits you. Hard. Like a sack of bricks, along with a ton of other answers you didn’t even ask for. Still, nothing hits as hard as the first brick. The worst brick. It might as well have been a live grenade or a runaway train, because it’s exactly what you don’t want to hear right now.

Unlock condition: Take the life of a human.

Why is this happening? Another brick. Because you’ve achieved a humanoid form.

You’re flooded with information, information you’ve been dying to know. Woefully incomplete information. Not enough information, and not what you want to know most, but whether you like it or not, you now know.


You feel like you need to sit down.

You do so. On the bench the goons were sitting on before now, in fact.

The goons seem to have shut up at the sight of you, and the doctors haven’t come to investigate, so either they’re committed to their jobs or the operating rooms are soundproof.

You look down at yourself. You take in the sight of the bluish-black hair covering your hands completely. You should be ecstatic that you have a humanoid form now. It’s not exactly what you wanted, but it’s a step closer.

It’s also a dead end, or so your newfound knowledge tells you. You can’t evolve again from your Mothman form, and new branches basically require you to fumble around in the dark looking for them.

You intuit that you have a newfound control over the process of unlocking new forms. You’re no longer required to transform into them immediately, or do so in such a flashy and superfluous light show. Cold comfort, you suppose.

You’re not the same person you used to be. You have blood on your hands, even after transforming the literal blood off of your wolf form. The guy in the hospital bed is young, like you. You don’t deserve being thrust into this situation and neither does he. The trite saying goes that hurt people hurt people, but that doesn’t make it okay. You... aren’t okay.

You stand up and leave. Hypnotized or not, you’d rather be alone for a while.
James Harris, Arthur Pendragon, & Arkin Rey

The quiet vibrations of his cellphone woke James from his slumber as he dismissed his alarm with a small growl of frustration at himself for forgetting to disable it. It’s his first day off in ages, he was not supposed to be woken up at 6:30am. Pulling himself out of bed, he went over to his wardrobe and quickly threw on jeans and a sweater before he started to collect any clothes lying about in his room and repeating the process in the bathroom, throwing everything into his hamper before picking it up and heading towards the laundry room.

It wasn’t until he passed the couch and saw Arf and Arthur passed out on it, that the events of last night registered. ”It actually happened…” Sighing at the ever-growing list of tasks being added to his to-do list at the revelation. Quietly leaving the apartment he headed down to the laundry room and started the first load. The first errand out of the way, he moved on to the second, leaving the building and boarding his bike, reentering his apartment about 40 minutes later with two bags of groceries in hand.

Preheating the oven, he swiftly deposited everything into their rightful places, while taking out everything he’ll need for breakfast. His first action was to dump two bags of sausages into two of his largest pans before sticking two trays of bacon into the oven. When the first batch is done, he’ll load up the oven with another. He doesn’t know how much Arf needs to eat, but he’d rather make too much than too little. While he waits, he whips up a mixture for waffles. It didn’t take long for the meat to finish as he piled up two large plates with waffle towers. After that, he put a few slices of bread into the toaster and cracked open three eggs into a pan - scrambling them - and turned on the kettle. He has a decent selection of tea, and if Arthur does turn out to be a shudder coffee drinker, the small container of instant coffee he picked up at the store should suffice.

The toast popped out of the toaster and he removed the eggs from the pan. It was time to wake them. 𝒢𝓊𝓎𝓈, 𝒷𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓀𝒻𝒶𝓈𝓉 𝒾𝓈 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝒹𝓎!~♪

Arthur's dreams, pleasant as they were, were oddly fluffy, not unlike the living pillow he had buried his face into upon falling asleep. A warm, comfortable sensation he was not accustomed to. Unlike the previous nights since arriving, Arthur found himself waking to the heavenly aroma of cooked meat and a boundless sea of fluffy dog. Looking up through bleary eyes, Arthur focused on James’ visage as a yawn escaped him. “I thank thee sir James for the hospitality. I dare say, I was expecting for us to go out on a hunt. ‘Tis a great way to wake the mind and body, isn’t that right boy?”

Arthur tries to wake the wolf, petting him gently at first before moving on to shaking him a bit. Seeing it remain unresponsive, he gradually increased the intensity of his jostling until he was furiously rubbing its fur all over. It was kind of fun, given how soft it is, but still, nothing. Welp, guess the dog is dead. It’s clearly still breathing, but it appears to be in some sort of coma. ”Mayhaps our canid friend has been on the receiving end of a cursed apple?”

”I don’t know how common cursed apples are where you come from, but I think he’s just a heavy sleeper?” As if to test his theory, James brought over a plate full of bacon, taking a piece and dangling it in front of the wolf’s nose.

A little over a second passed in complete stillness before the wolf snapped the bacon out of James’ grip in an instant, causing him to recoil away as the visceral illusion of losing a few fingers set off alarm bells in his head. Thankfully, in spite of the lingering imaginary sensations, no fingers were lost, and it seemed to have worked in waking the wolf up. Or, at least, getting it to wake up.

The wolf gobbled down the strip of bacon greedily without opening its eyes, as if eating the entire thing in its sleep. Only a moment after it swallowed did it seem to stir in earnest, tiredly looking up at the two men surrounding it before stretching out like a cat and getting off the bed.

“You’d be wise to remember that when feeding an animal, it is always best done palm up.” Arthur had learned that lesson the hard way while feeding the stray dogs and cats that seemed to flock to Merlin’s hut.

Rubbing his fingers after their narrow miss, James gave a stilted laugh. ”I'll remember that.”

With Arf up, they all moved to the kitchen, where James served the large wolf a veritable feast of meats. Arthur began tearing into the tower of waffles as James set out a selection of breakfast beverages for Arthur to choose between. Oddly, before beginning the feast, Arf walked over to the opposite end of the kitchen table and gingerly grabbed the mug with coffee in it between his teeth, carefully dragging it back towards his plate of meats. It was an odd sight, but Arf seemed to be happy as he licked up the coffee, apparently undeterred by the lack of opposable thumbs.

A chill crawled up James’ spine, covering his entire body with goosebumps. Coffee…blegh…

Wait a minute… ”Isn’t coffee toxic to dogs?” A touch of humor coloured James’ voice as he gave the wolf his best dead-pan look.

This caused Arf to pause, looking back at James, before looking back down at the coffee. A second of silence passes. Arf resumes drinking the coffee.

A snort left James as Arf’s priorities revealed themselves. Arthur, on the other hand, knew better than to doubt the wisdom of a medicine man. Glancing at Arf with wide eyes, showing clear concern on his face, Arthur swallowed what food was currently in his mouth before choking out a single word of concern. ”Toxic?”

James simply shook his head before giving Arthur a reassuring smile. ”While I’m firmly of the opinion that coffee is toxic to everyone, he should be fine. I don’t think he’s an ordinary dog, after all. Besides, chocolate is also toxic for canines and my mom used to feed her pup a small bar of it every night when she was a kid, and he still lived for almost 15 years. As long as he doesn’t push it with a second cup -“ Here James directed a very stern look towards Arf, ”it should be alright.”

Arf disregarded James entirely and began moving towards the stove as the first mug was emptied. He tilted his head sidewards and awkwardly picked up the kettle of boiling hot water before James realized he didn’t want the oversized wolf pouring scalding liquid into a cup he can only barely see in his peripheral vision.

Arf rubbed his head on James’ shoulder affectionately, like a cat instead of a dog again, as James begrudgingly made another cup of coffee for him.

Arkin, having ascended to the status of real, actual person™ with the help of caffeine, began eating breakfast in earnest, digging in with a ferocious appetite that the back of his mind told him was frankly concerning. Still, the bacon and sausage was too good for him to pay it any heed, and the time he spent without coffee made it all the more satisfying to finally return to, like separated lovers finally reunited. Even if it is toxic to him, it’s absolutely worth it.

Maybe being a giant wolf man has made him more of a morning person, because he was feeling pretty good today. He couldn’t fathom why James, finally sitting down and getting to his own breakfast, didn’t seem to share in the same good vibes. Maybe he got in over his head with the huge buffet?

James, meanwhile, was doing his best to look stern. He would not be encouraging bad coffee habits by showing that he was amused. No sirree. Besides, there was a lot to think about, arrangements to be made and errands to run. ”Alright, eat up guys. We have a lot to do today. We’ll need to go into town later to pick up some essentials for you two. I’m just gonna head down to switch the laundry to the dryer, we can go once I get back. Arthur, feel free to help yourself to anything in my closet in the meantime.”

”I am humbled by thy allowance of thine wardrobe.”

As soon as James leaves, Arthur immediately turns to Arkin and begins begging for another ride. ”Would you mind giving me another ride, my friend?”

Arkin, in between bites of his extensive plate of schmeat, spared Arthur only a brief response. ”Arf.”

”Please, boy. I’m not ready for another ride on that infernal stygian chariot!”

”Arf.”

Arthur grew increasingly more desperate, knowing full well he had nothing to leverage for the request. ”I beg of thee, great and noble beast, grant me thy mercy and you shall have my eternal gratitude.”

”Arf.”

”I shall be eternally in your debt. Your whims, my command. Anything, anything, that I may be spared such a wretched and terrible fate as that of yesterday.”

”Arf.”

”Please please please please please please please please please please!”

”Arf.”

”Ah! The light of mercy shineth upon me.” Arthur gets up, walks over to Arkin, who is still largely preoccupied with eating, and hugs him. ”Truly your magnanimity knows no bounds. I am humbled by your generosity. You are an inspiration of what a King should be to his people. I will look back on this moment for all time, remembering the selflessness you saw fit to bestow upon me here today.”

”Arf”, Arkin said for the sixth time.



After returning to his breakfast and finishing it last, Arthur wandered into James’ room and, with subtle help from Arkin, managed to put together a casual outfit that wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. As James returned, the two followed him out before Arthur climbed up onto Arkin while James started his bike’s engine.

Whilst he was clearly more used to riding a equine steed with a saddle, there was something oddly soothing about mounting his oversized canid companion. The softness of his fur was unparalleled. Plus, it was clearly safer than riding in that roaring metal carriage. Had James even pondered what would happen if one of his wheels were to come free from their axles? For that matter, where were the axles? Pushing those thoughts aside, Arthur instead opted to think of ways to repay his furry friend. Surely with what little coinage he had, he would be able to find something that he would like. Upon further thinking, he realized he had yet to repay James for his kindness as well.

Pulling up at the mall was the start of an… experience, to say the least. If James thought corralling a hyper five-year-old was tough, he hadn’t seen anything yet. The first obstacle came when security threatened not to let them in, but considering the recent rise in abnormal-looking supers, they managed to get past him easily enough with some smooth-talking from James. After that, the real challenge bagan. They went from store to store, picking up essentials; bathroom supplies James had to ensure Arthur were all important,

“Yes, deodorant is necessary. No, I don’t know why it has such a weird name. Arf, please tell Arthur it’s necessary.”

“Arf.”

“See?”

Some modern clothing for Arthur to wear,

”Why must every other shirt bear a picture or a joke on it?”

“Arf.”

”I don’t understand!”

“Well, I think your selection of t-shirts and leather has you covered for the most part. How about we move on to shoes?”

“Arf.”

”’Tis warm and protective.”

“Leather jacket, leather pants, and now steel-toed boots… You sure you don’t want to ride on my motorcycle?”

”Yes, that thing is absolutely terrifying. I would rather ride a wooden pony.”

And eventually a toy store, to keep Arthur entertained, if nothing else.

Arthur had been happy in his youth with a homemade wooden sword, and the few animals the ladies of the brothel had made for him in their free time. However, upon entering the toy store, Arthur’s eyes nearly bugged out of his skull, his jaw nearly unhinging as he took in what he saw. One of the first things that caught his eye was a display upfront full of McFarlane action figures. More specifically, a Final Fantasy Action figure of Cloud Strife. “I cry thee, what is this? This man’s sword is far too large! And how pray tell does his hair do that? I mean it’s just...” His voice suddenly cut off as his eyes fell upon a scantily clad female knight. “By God’s grace this is just wrong!” His enamored shouting quickly drew the attention of a nearby kid. “I dare say, this woman is barely dressed! In fact this armor is practically useless! Prithee, tell me this. In what way would such armor protect thee?”

Arthur would have gone on about how useless the woman’s armor was, when his eyes fell upon something truly disturbing. Sitting on a lower shelf, marked as half off, sat a six inch statuette of a ruggish brunette man clad in armor and cape, with long flowing hair, emerald green eyes, and a grizzled beard. Engraved on the base it read ‘Arthur Pendragon’. Arthur didn’t know how to feel as he stared at what was supposed to be him. Was history so skewed, that is how they remembered him? Is this really what people thought he looked like? As Arthur sat dumbfounded staring at the misrepresentation of himself, he didn’t notice the employee who had come up behind him.

“Oh, are you a fan of the ‘Guinevere’ series? It’s funny, but nobody seems to want the Arthur figures. All they want are Merlin and Guinevere action figures.” Snapped from his stupor Arthur promptly grabbed the figurine and waved it in the man’s face.

“This is an outrageous lie! My hair be not this dark! Nor my eye’s green! How dare thee peddle such blatant lies! Have thee no dignity!” Thankfully James managed to pull him away from the action figures, and a very confused employee, before he could cause any more of a ruckus.

After preventing anyone from throwing down a gauntlet, James ushered Arthur back outside, highly amused, and had him wait there before grabbing a set of walkie-talkies, as well as some teddy bears for his nieces and nephew. He figured the walkie-talkies would be easier for Arthur to operate than a phone.

While Arthur wasn’t the easiest, Arf was the real challenge. James had no idea what he might need, going so far as to drag their group into a pet supply store.

“What do you think about this bowl, Arf? It’s shiny?”

Slaps bowl out of his hands with extreme prejudice.

James gave him a deadpan expression. “Nice.” He then picked up a nearby chew toy and squeaked it. “What about this? It’s bone shaped?”

Slaps chew toy out of his hands with extreme prejudice.

Sensing a pattern, a mischievous grin crossed James’ face. Picking up a nearby bag of meaty dog treats, he gave it a shake. “Not even for an Arf-snack?”

Walks away

Laughing, James ran after Arf’s retreating form. “Wait, come back! I’m sorry!”

Ultimately, they left the pet store empty-handed.

They continued shopping for hours before James declared that it was finally time for them to head home. Satisfied with his procurement of essential supplies, he brought the two to an ice cream shop, where they sat down for a frozen treat before heading back.

”Prithee tell, how do your people keep your food so cold? This must surely be magic. Also, I’m not too sure of the current going rate for currency these days, but it felt as if thou hast spent quite a lot on me today. By any chance would you know how much my money is worth?Surely gold must still be worth something.” Reaching down to his belt he undid his coin purse and slid it across the table to James before taking a bite of his vanilla ice cream. ”By the grace of god almighty that is heavenly. I must eat this with every meal!”

James grinned as Arthur devoured the frozen treat, picking up the gold absentmindedly. “I'm glad you like it, it might not be magic, but good old human ingenuity ain't anything to scoff at either, just don't eat it too fast.” James wasn't really expecting much when Arthur mentioned gold coins - a part of him was even expecting it to be those chocolate coins - he had prepared himself to humor Arthur, to gently inform him that values have changed and that he wasn’t going to be able to get much for them…he wasn't prepared for the sight of actual ancient gold coins. “...”

Taking a second to make sure that he wasn't just seeing things, James looked up at Arthur, slightly stunned. “Dang, you're just chock-full of surprises kiddo.” James is not going to ask where he got them. He doesn’t want to know. “I'm not an expert and I might be wrong, but - depending on the collector - these might be worth a fortune…” Sliding the coins back to Arthur, James looked at him with a serious expression “Promise me you won't spend them until you have an expert look them over, I don't want you getting scammed.”

”You have my solemn oath, that I shall refrain from any ill spending.”

“Great, I’ll set up a meeting with an expert for you during the week, so you’ll just have to hold off until then.”

Returning home and entering the apartment with arms full of purchases, the three men all breathed a sigh of relief. Shopping is always an ordeal. Placing the purchases down, James gave the two of them a smile. “Okay, now we can officially get you guys settled in. I’ll call my family later to see if any of them have an old chest or dresser we can move in here for you. If not, my sister-in-law’s a woodworker so I’ll get the friends and family discount if we need to commission one.” Giving Arthur’s shoulder a pat, James continued, “There should be enough room in my closet for your clothes until then. It might be a little tight, but -”

”Arf?”

“I don’t mind. You guys can live with me for as long as you need.”

”Arf?”

“You guys don’t have to worry about anything. As the epitome of a responsible adult, I’m financially stable enough to keep the expenses from affecting me. I appreciate the concern, though.”

”Arf.”

”You’re right, Arf. You have my thanks, James. If not with gold, then I’d still like to repay you in some way.”

“Pssh, don’t worry about that, I’m a paramedic after all, helping people’s in my DNA or something, and it’ll be nice to have roommates again anyway.” His voice also took on a slightly teasing tone as he flashed them a grin. ”If you really want to help out though, we can establish a chore-chart, once you’re all settled in. Hope that doesn’t give you any second thoughts?”

”Nay. I might be unsure as to what a chore-chart is, as I’m still inexperienced with the customs of this time, but I’ll defer to Arf’s judgement for now.”

”Arf.”

”Yes.”

Giving Arthur’s shoulder a final pet and Arf’s fur a quick ruffle, James took a step into the kitchen, taking out one of the tupperware containers filled with some leftover waffles (he might have gone a little overboard with breakfast) before heading to the door. “Right. I’m just going to run these over to Mrs. Kowalski and go grab the laundry from the dryer. There’s leftovers in the fridge if you get hungry while I’m out.”

As the door closed behind James, Arthur was left with his furry companion in what he still thought of as a royal chamber. Looking at Arf, something just felt off. This animal had shown him that it was far more than some wild beast. In fact it showcased a level of intelligence he had rarely seen of most normal people. It was quite perplexing to say the least. “Say, boy, this may sound odd but do you actually have a name?”

Two barks this time. ”Arf, Yip.”

”This just won’t do. I wish you knew how to write.”

Arkin stood up on all fours. This could be his chance. ”Arf!”

Arthur’s eyebrow cocks up at the sudden reaction. ”Wait, can thee write?”

In response, the wolf looks Arthur dead in the eye and nods. If there was ever any doubt about the wolf’s ability to understand speech, they’re gone now.

Arthur grins childishly for a moment before holding up a placating hand. ”Just wait right there! I shan’t tarry!” Spinning up from his spot on the couch Arthur bolted to the kitchen and began scrounging for what he needed. More than once did he find something that truly confused him, but he didn’t allow himself to get distracted. It wasn’t long before he came rushing back with a notepad and a pencil. After a few frantic moments of writing he set the pad on the floor revealing he had written out the alphabet, albeit poorly. ”Could you show me how to spell thine name?”

Looking at the letters written in runic, Arkin had to regretfully shake his head before pawing at the pencil in Arthur’s hand until he released it. ”Oh?”

Arkin began, with great difficulty, flipping over the paper and writing English characters on the back. After spending nearly a full minute trying to grip a pencil between his two front paws and drawing a crude ‘A’, Arthur realized his mistake. Kind of.

”Oh! You know the king’s speech!” At this revelation Arthur promptly started a new sheet with the archaic latin alphabet, before promptly sliding it over with a grin. ”’Tis better?”

Arkin nodded, but after staring at the paper for a few conflicted seconds, he began tearing it up, carefully separating the letters into little pieces. After tearing about half of it up and wracking his memory over which latin letters represent which english ones, he rearranged some of them to spell out his name: ‘𐌀𐌓𐌊𐌉𐌍’.

“Arkin? Is that your name, boy?”

A nod.

“Arkin! You are Arkin!” Arthur couldn’t stop himself from lunging forward and wrapping his arms around Arkin’s body, engulfing him in a tight hug as he celebrated this newfound connection he’d made with his furry friend.”Thou art a truly magnificent creature. I will begin work on larger letters post-haste so that we might begin communicating with further ease!”

Arkin simply sat back, watching with the canine equivalent of a smile. He thought he’d have more to say, but now that he’s finally getting the opportunity to do so, his mind went blank, unable to think of anything but the Latin alphabet and Arthur’s innocent smile. They got so occupied exchanging pleasantries that they didn’t even notice James return.

Mrs. Kowalski was very appreciative of the waffles, pinching James’ cheek and promising him a batch of cookies that weekend as thanks. James mentally fist-pumped. Score! Mrs. K makes the best cookies. He grabbed the laundry without problems and quickly folded the clothes before leaving the laundry room. He then made a quick stop at his mailbox in the building, balancing its contents on the hamper, before heading back. Nodding at his new roommates, he placed the mail on the kitchen counter before leaving the room to put the laundry away.

Only when he returned did he realize that two of the letters were addressed to ‘Arthur Pendragon, one true king of the holy land of Britannia, protector of the weak and downtrodden.’ and ‘Big Wolf Thing’. He also received a letter addressed to himself. Without thinking much of it, he handed the other two their letters, not paying much attention to their activities, before opening his own.

Arthur was perplexed, to say the least. Guessing from the look on James’ face, it wasn’t abnormal for people to receive mail like this, but having never received a letter before, he found it odd that not only had he just received a letter, but it was also written in English, using strange Latin characters, (is this normal here?) and addressed to him in the manner he had introduced himself the other day. Conceding to his curiosity he opened the letter.

To Arthur Pendragon, one true king of the holy land of Britannia, protector of the weak and downtrodden,
It has come to our knowledge that you have made your way to our junction in time. Our organization has prided itself in protecting many powerful artifacts that could spell trouble for the world if they fell into the wrong hands. We are descended from the organization you started, The Knights Of The Round. Long have we held onto a holy relic that was once in your possession. You may know it as the holy blade Excalibur. We wish to return it to you, and provide you with any aid we can in allowing you to protect this land and its people.
Merlin himself entrusted us with making sure you would one day receive this relic, and it would be our most humble joy to finally see it reunited with its master. If you would be so kind as to meet us at the address located below, we would love to finally meet you and, with your permission, join you in your crusade to save this society from villainy. We look forward to finally meeting the great King Arthur in person.
Yours Truly, Greg The Wise

Utterly baffled by what he had just read, Arthur was unsure of what to believe. If what the letter said was true, then the sword had been removed from the stone and could now be wielded by anyone. That, or it was a trap. Either way, Arthur knew to go prepared. Almost instinctively Arthur’s entire demeanor changed as he dropped the letter where he stood and marched off to get changed. A short while later he emerged from the back room. He had traded his borrowed civilian clothes for his combat garb. A pair of black leather pants with matching leather jacket, a plain black t-shirt, and a pair of black steel toed boots. He had also taken the time to reattach his sword and his quiver to his belt as well as grabbing his bow. His face was now completely devoid of emotion as he mentally prepared himself for another battle.



Opening his letter wasn’t easy for Arkin. He gave it an earnest attempt but it only took a few seconds for him to give up and rip the envelope to shreds, exposing the message beneath. He’ll gather up the shredded paper later.

To the wolven hero,
My employer said I had to write you this letter, even though he wasn’t sure you would be able to read it. If you’re a transformed hero, you’ll have to forgive our confusion, since you remained transformed all the way back to your address.
We would like to cordially invite you to the attached address for an interview. This invitation is open to any wolven hero, intelligent wolf, or owner/legal custodian of supernaturally large wolves, though bringing the wolf in question is a prerequisite. In addition to providing information and aid for newly established heroes, our organization aims to research all things falling particularly far out of the norm, such as the existence and intelligence of super-animals or the potential limitations of transforming in or out of alternate forms enabled by super-abilities. As remuneration for your time, our organization is prepared to offer a lifetime’s supply of high-quality dog food, as well as any of our specially designed dog toys that you may find appealing.
Best Regards, Greg

P.S. I’ve always loved dogs. If you don’t mind, I’d love to meet you just to give you some pets. I promise I won’t make it weird if you’re actually human.

Arkin grimaced at the thought of eating actual dog food. It’s called dog food because it’s unfit for human consumption. There’s probably some gourmet shit out there but he’d rather go back to hunting wild animals and eating them raw than degrade himself like that. He was still a human on the inside and wanted to be treated as such, dammit. There was something about this Greg guy that really rubbed him the wrong way.



James’ face was completely blank as he examined the envelope’s contents, not a single twitch crossed his face. Only his fingers tightening on the envelope - crumpling the paper slightly - showed his distress at what he saw.
There were three photos and a letter.
The first picture showed a woman and a little girl laughing through their kitchen window, the second of a man and woman walking in the park with two toddlers and the final one featured an older couple working in the garden. It was obvious none of the participants were aware of the camera.

To the hero Medic, also known as Mr. James Harris,
I apologize for any distress our letter might have caused and we assure you that no harm was brought to your loved ones. My employers simply felt it necessary to inform you of the potential risk they face given your recent career change. Now while we pose no threat, the same cannot be said about other, less savory, folks.
Our organization is specially designed to give up-and-coming heroes like yourself aid, as well as helpful tips and specially designed courses to aid in developing your skills. One of the many lessons you’ll learn is methods to protect your loved ones and your identity more effectively. Judging from the foiled caper at the museum last night, you seem like a prime candidate.
An interview has been scheduled for you tonight. It is recommended you attend; simply follow the directions on the back of the letter to reach the destination.
Best Regards, Greg

Taking a seat at the kitchen counter, James put the letter down and buried his face in his hands taking a deep breath. Seeing those pictures had to have been the single most terrifying moment of his life. The letter might not have been intended as a threat, though it might as well have been one. There’s nothing he wants to do more than to rip up the invitation, show them that he doesn’t want anything to do with a place that deals in emotional blackmail, but he couldn’t. Obviously, he was easier to track than he imagined, Greg’s people having found his family in less than a day after his first time getting involved with actual hero-work. If this place could teach him how to be better, keep his family untraceable, doesn’t he owe it to them to go? On the other hand, what if he doesn’t go and they decide to use more extreme ways of getting their point across? James needs to go to the interview tonight, but he won’t be going unarmed. He’ll have to dig his old bat out of his closet. Noble as their intentions might have been, he’ll make sure that they understand that his family is off limits…



“I take it ya’ll got sketchy invitations too?”

”Aye.”

”Arf.”

“Ya’ll gonna go?”

”Aye.”

”Arf.”

“Alright. What do you boys want for dinner tonight? I doubt they’ll be providing food.”

Arkin kept the contents of his letter to himself as he described to James what kind of meat dish he was in the mood for, in great detail: ”Arf.”

Eager to unveil his newly learned information Arthur let his guise slip for a moment. He could only guess based off of previously shared meals, before he hooked a thumb towards his furry friend with a wry smile. ”Arkin says he wants steak.”

“Arkin, huh?” James gave the two of them a grin. ”That suits you. I’ll see about whipping some up.”
Arthur Pendragon, Arkin Rey & James Harris

Arthur’s eyes went wide as he could hardly believe what he was hearing. In all his days, never had another man shown such compassion or worry for Arthur’s well being before. The only other person who had ever shown this level of compassion towards him was his mother. Merlin most certainly had never shown him any. It left him speechless to say the least. Sensing the man’s earnestness and hearing that commanding tone stripped him of what little fight he had left in himself. All he could do was nod in agreement. At least he had offered to bring his new friend along with him. Turning to face the oversized canid, he offered a warm smile and nodded in its direction, questioning whether or not it wished to follow. He could only hope it would, as he had few to call his friend, as it were.

For its part, the wolf gave a simple nod before following James to his motorcycle, that confounded metal horse, and began doing stretches next to it, as if getting ready for a run. Its verbal silence coupled with its clear understanding of Arthur was a bit eerie. Come to think of it, it hasn’t made a single sound since it first arrived, has it? There was that time it growled at James, but looking back, maybe that was just Arthur’s imagination?

Before Arthur could dwell too deeply on this, James waved him over, straddling the motorcycle and gesturing to the sidecar. ”Hop in.”

James seemed friendly enough, but Arthur couldn’t help but feel awkward as he gingerly stepped into the bizarre facsimile of equine life. It had three wheels, unlike any carriage Arthur has ever seen, yet if this was how James conducted his travel, surely it was safe, right?

James grinned at Arthur as he stepped into the sidecar. It was obviously his first time riding in one. First timers were always fun. Pointing inside the sidecar, he gestured towards the spare helmet lying on the ground inside. ”Put that on kiddo, safety first and all that.” Taking his phone out of his pocket, he quickly sent a text to the pizza place down the street from his apartment before glancing back at the wolf. Starting the engine, his Harley roared to life. ”I’ll try to go slow, so that you can keep up.”

Although it appeared to be paying attention, if the wolf understood James, it didn’t seem to react. On the other hand, Arthur was immediately panicked, eye’s going wide at the sound of the engine. “Holy Mother of Christ!” Exclaimed Arthur as he leapt from the side car. “That be no normal beast! Of that I am assured!”

Blinking at the sudden reaction from the kid, James calmly patted the side of his bike. ”Of course she's not a beast. Harley here is a lady. You don't have anything to be worried about, though, I've been riding her going on almost twelve years now. It's perfectly safe.”

If it were possible, Arthur’s eyes would have grown even wider at the man called Medic’s words. “You mean to say that you have bewitched a woman and turned her into this metal monstrosity!?”

”Eh? What? No! Of course not, if I could do that I wouldn't waste it on innocent women. I simply meant that she is a refined piece of machinery and has been in my family long enough to deserve more than to be called an it.”

Huffing a small laugh, James shook his head. ”Jeeze, kid, haven't you ever heard a man talk about his vehicle before?”

“Nay! In fact, this be the first time I hath ever laid eyes on such a...” Arthur paused for a moment recalling what had just been said about respecting his ‘vehicle’, before choosing his words more carefully “...That is to say, I am new to this land, and your customs are strange to me. As is your... vehicle. No offense was meant, my good sir.”

Under his breath, James couldn’t help but comment to himself, ”wow, he’s really committed to this.” Shaking his head, James said louder, his voice amused, ”no offense taken. You feel up for trying her out?”

Looking between this metal horror show horse and its rider, Arthur was truly at a loss. He was certain it was safe, after all this man had supposedly ridden it for years. But he still had that nagging feeling in the back of his head that he shouldn’t trust it. Offering up a coy smile, Arthur yet again slipped into the side car. Making sure to fasten the helmet to his head, he gripped onto the side of the car saying. “I think this will be fun. I hope.”

”You might want to buckle up, first.”

Turning to face his new compatriot, he wore a confused look on his face. “My clothes hath no buckles.” He even gestured at his clothes, or lack thereof.

”...”

Stunned into silence, James simply reached over and put the seatbelt on over Arthur for him. He opened his mouth to say something afterward, but couldn’t find the words and decided to simply start driving instead.

With the logistics of getting Arthur into a modern vehicle out of the way, the three began the trip back to James’ apartment. On the way, the large wolf seemed to have no trouble keeping up with James’ motorcycle, freely passing it at times before coming to a demure stop at red lights or upcoming turns. James got the message and began speeding up a bit, which in turn caused the wolf to speed up. It didn’t show any signs of tiring, so the cycle continued until the two groups ended up having a full-blown race. At some point a speed limit law was probably broken and Arthur let out a scream. A concerned hero even flew down to check what was going on, since a large wolf following a motorcycle through town at high speeds while emanating screams has a way of turning heads, but as soon as Arkin and James heard Arthur scream, they slowed down and came to a stop, conveniently coming to a red light, with the wolf sitting calmly next to the motorcycle and its occupants. Since evidently there were no ongoing issues demanding his attention, the hero simply had to shrug and move on.

Arthur, never having experienced such speeds before, had no recourse but to hold on for dear life. “By the grace of all that is holy, please stop! I would like to ride the wolf! Tis much safer than this!” James and the wolf both looked to him and back at each other before tacitly agreeing to slow down.

”Are you sure you don’t want to ride in the sidecar? It should be more secure, what with the seat belt.”

“Yes.” Arthur responded immediately, almost before James even finished asking.

They made the quick transfer before the light had turned green, Arkin leaning down for Arthur wordlessly. Although there was no saddle, and the rest of the ride wasn’t quite as smooth, at least he didn’t have to deal with the fiery growls of that infernal contraption.

Rather than going back to James’ apartment immediately, they first came to a stop outside of a pizza place. Despite, or perhaps because of the distractingly large wolf looming outside of the restaurant, James was in and out pretty quick, putting five large boxes of pizza in the sidecar before starting the bike up again and turning the corner. It was a mercifully short drive from there, and James soon came to a stop in front of an old red-brick apartment complex.

Dismounting his bike, he took off his helmet, running a hand through his hair. Turning to Arthur and the wolf, he gave them both a smile and gestured to the building. ”Well, here we are. Mi casa es su casa. I'm James by the way.”

Arkin thought he should give him a proper response, but still didn’t feel like playing charades, so, for the first time all night, he finally made a small sound. ”Arf.”

“Well said. You both already know my identity; Arthur Pendragon, one true king of the holy land of Britannia. Protector of the weak and downtrodden. ‘Tis a pleasure to finally be acquainted by name.”

”Yeah… Welcome, Arthur and… Arf.”

Taking the pizzas out of the sidecar, he gestured at them to follow him as he opened the - thankfully knobless - double front door, leading them up the stairs to the fifth floor. They passed his neighbor, Mrs. Kowalski on the way up, but while she raised an eyebrow at the giant wolf, she simply winked at James and went back inside her apartment where nine cats could be seen. (Screw their super's no pets rule. The guy is a jerk.) Arkin loves cats, and was tempted to barge in to pet them with his freakishly big dog paws, abusing his status as a wild animal with allegedly no self-control, but they seemed to shrink away at the sight of him. No! Don’t go, kitties! Please!

The door shut on what could have been, and may never be. The door to her apartment, that is. Infinite sorrow befell Arkin at that moment as the weight of direct social rejection pressed upon him for the first time. But, as the saying goes, when one door shuts, another door opens.

James' place - while not big - was nice and cozy with wooden floors and warm brick walls. A tiny kitchen took up the space to the left of the door while the main area contained a decently sized couch, a desk, and a chair with his laptop on it. There was a small television mounted on the wall, opposite the couch, with a coffee table in between. A couple of bookcases lined the walls, filled to the brim with several books, almost all fictional.

Arthur was amazed, to say the least. Never before had he seen a place so neat and tidy. The combination of wood and brick, somehow leaving no traces of dirt. It was almost as if he had stepped into the home of royalty. “Dare I say it, this is magical.”

James gave Arthur a warm smile and a friendly pat on the shoulder as he ushered the two inside. ”Thanks kiddo, I like it too. Feel free to make yourselves at home. Kitchen is over there, if you want a midnight snack later. That’s the couch where you’ll be sleeping, and over here is the bathroom.”

Next to the kitchen, a hallway led off towards two doors. The one on the left led to James’ bedroom, and the other opened up to a bathroom - which was where James ledArthur to after putting the pizzas down on the kitchen counter. ”This is a shower. I recommend you… take… one…”

James was about to demand Arthur to take a real shower, when Arkin casually wandered in and sat down in the tub. He stared the other two straight in the eyes as he lifted one paw and turned on the water. Struggling to keep a straight face, James simply nodded in concession. ”Alright, you first then. You two got this?”

“Well, my friend here seems to know the ins and outs of your magic fountain.”

”I'll leave you in his capable paws then. Feel free to help yourself to anything in there. I'll put some clean clothes outside the door for you.” James exits the bathroom, leaving Arkin alone with Arthur.

This wasn’t part of the plan, Arkin thought. He just wanted a hot shower, immediately, for the first time in a long while, and now Arthur was expected to strip down and get in with him. As for Arthur’s thoughts, they were muddled for other reasons. He was just staring at the canid in stunned silence. Not only had the wolf figured out how to use this magical ‘shower’ but he was also locked in a room with what he could only assume was a magical font of never ending water. Taking a step away from the tub Arthur felt a wave of panic hit him. He did not like tubs, bad memories from a time better left forgotten. But seeing how comfortable his companion was, at least outwardly, and given the lack of other people present, he could at least try to clean up.

Kicking off one of his boots he began speaking to the wolf, moreso to himself to calm his nerves. “You know, I hath told myself long ago I would never set foot in a tub again…” As his other boot slipped off he picked them up and slid them in front of the door as a safety warning. “...If you’ve ever been in a brothel, you’ll know bathing is a mainstay.” Dipping his thumbs into his waistband he nervously ran them back and forth against the hem “In fact the worst part of the brothels in my opinion is cleaning the tubs and filling them after every patron.” With a huff, he finally pulled his pants down and off, tossing them atop his boots as he stepped toward the fountain. “But worse than that was dealing with the drunk and belligerent. They could be truly violent when they wanted” Arthur stopped himself just at the cusp of the porcelain tub, feeling a pang of anxiety wash over him as he stared at the falling water. “But you’re not going to drown me, will you boy?” Knowing he could not respond, Arthur let out a nervous chuckle before stepping into the now crowded tub, tensing instantly as he felt the water crash down over him. Tis ok, you are just fine. Tis nothing to fear.

He can never know. It was one thing to be mistaken as an animal and take a shower with a hot, naked muscular dude, but it was another thing entirely for him to intrude on something so personal as a recounting of a past traumatic event. Or, perhaps events? Arkin wasn’t sure what brothel he was talking about. He didn’t even know that there were establishments in this part of the U.S. that could be called ‘brothels’, but evidently he grew up in one, was almost drowned, and was potentially abused in other ways that Arkin frankly does not want to try to imagine.

All he felt he could do, for the moment, was nuzzle into Arthur’s neck from behind, a nonverbal confirmation that he is not going to be drowned today, not by Arkin and not by anyone else for that matter.

…Okay, wow, he really does smell.

Sobered by the weight of serious childhood trauma, Arkin ignores the full view he has of Arthur’s distracting assets as he reaches for some soap. Thankfully, James stocks body wash instead of just powder soap, so he isn’t forced to bite into a bar of it as he tries to hand Arthur it before going for the shampoo. Arthur did his best to wash himself thoroughly, but between his discomfort under the water, and his confusion at how much the English language had changed, he was left completely befuddled. He was certain he could have scrubbed a few places a bit longer but he had had enough fun with water for the night.

“I dare say boy. The people of your time hath completely changed the English we speak. I’m not sure if I even understand some of these words.” Staring at the back of what was called ‘shampoo’, Arthur found himself seated on the floor as he air-dried. “For example. What doth this word mean?” He even points at the bottle while glancing back at his new friend, as if it could articulate the words to explain.

Sodium lauryl sulfate. Even if talking was on the agenda, that one’s a bit of a mouthful. ”Arf.”

“I know, right!?”

After getting over his confusion Arthur let out a deep sigh as he stood. Reaching for a towel for himself, he noted that his friend was still wet. Without thinking he began to gently wipe down the wolf, making sure to get him as dry as possible, but alas, there was only so much towel, and so much more wolf. “I’m sorry boy, but that is the best I can manage.”

Grabbing the clothes James had left outside, he quickly dressed himself before collecting his soiled clothes from in front of the door. “Come along boy, I smell something delicious awaiting us.” With that, he led the way, his thoughts wandering back to how he had just bathed with a wolf. Merlin would be proud.

While they were busy, James moved the coffee table to the side and turned the couch into a bed, piling almost all of his spare blankets on it for extra comfort. There were enough blankets there that if the two of them didn't want to cuddle, they could build a little bed on the ground for the wolf, which James was starting to think wasn’t a transformed superhero.

He had also taken the pizza out of the boxes - three meat lover’s for the wolf as well as one chicken and pineapple and one pepperoni for the two humans.

With Arthur out of the bathroom, Arkin had time to quickly transform the rest of the water off of him while in the tub. He was a civilized human and he was above shaking it off like a dog, dammit. Plus, this was way more effective. When he rejoined Arthur in the kitchen, James was already passing him a slice and biting in to one of his own. Also, a welcome surprise, apparently three whole pizzas topped with extra schmeat had been set aside just for him.

Arthur, having dug straight into the pineapple and pepperoni pizza, could not conceal his face full of childlike delight and wonder as he experienced a decadence unlike anything he has ever tasted before.

Arkin was hesitant at first. He could eat seemingly anything in his caterpillar and moth forms, but he wasn’t sure if the same applied to his wolf form. Nonetheless, he dug in, because some cooked venison earlier in the day was not enough to sate his hunger, and he’d be mad to turn down some pizza. Besides, it wasn’t worth it to squirrel the pizzas away just to eat them in another form. His insectoid forms have a rather warped and muted sense of taste, and god, he missed pizza. Although it doesn’t quite taste the same, it was a much-needed dose of normalcy for him. Something he’s missed dearly, something he worries he may never fully reclaim. Tears might have escaped his eyes if wolves were capable of crying, but instead the lack thereof just served as a reminder of how much he’s changed. He doesn’t want to reveal himself to the other two anyway, at least not right after that shower, but luckily he has another coping mechanism readily available: three whole pizzas worth of comfort food and a ravenous wolven stomach to put it in.

Somehow Arkin manages to finish them all before either human is able to finish their own. Tired after the long day and full of pizza, he stalks over to the bed-couch, flopping down onto one side of it, making sure to leave room for Arthur, then passes out relatively quickly.

James simply watched, amused, as the giant wolf made himself at home on the couch. As it appeared to drift off to sleep before his eyes, he turned back towards the blonde. ”Okay, so, once you’re done eating, I expect you to follow your friend’s example and get some rest. My room is right over there, if you need anything. Don’t worry about cleaning up, alright? I’ll get everything sorted out in the morning.” With that, James stood up and retrieved some clean clothes from his room before cleaning himself up as well. Taking the chance while in the bathroom to inspect the injuries. They were looking good. His chest still hurt - removing the duct-tape he had stuck on it previously did not help - but none of the injuries were bleeding anymore. Finishing up in the bathroom, he reentered the main area seeing both Arthur and Arkin cuddled up together. Only intruding long enough to put any leftover pizza in the fridge and to turn the light off, he retreated to his room quietly - careful not to disturb them.
I am Arthur Pendragon, one true king of the holy land of Britania. Protector of the weak and downtrodden. It is my sworn oath to protect this land and its people.
Arthur Pendragon, one true king of the holy land of Britania, protector of the weak and downtrodden

Arkin
It seems you were mistaken. Arthur, as he calls himself, is a penniless, unemployed method actor desperate to live out his fantasies, who will forego health and happiness in his attempt to make a career out of his ability to summon ye olden plate mail. Maybe show business was too tough for him? You're astounded that one man could make so many consecutive poor decisions that he would come to the point of that scene back by the pond, but as ridiculous and stupid as he may be, the dedication is impressive. Almost as impressive as the blood-soaked healer man's invitation of not only the insane homeless roleplayer, but the insanely large and ostensibly dangerous wild animal; you. He really just invited these strangers into his house based on nothing but the perceived need to help.

Maybe you should be glad he wasn't around to see you beat a man to death with another man.

It seems you are now the property of one Mr. Arthur Pendragon in the eyes of the bloody guy, and if it gets him to let you crash at his place, maybe even get a proper shower and real human food, then you're all for going along with it. You're surprised no one has made mention of your supernatural size, but maybe they just assume you're a hero in a transformation like that talking velociraptor?

You're surprised he can enunciate as well as he can, which is terribly. You've practiced to yourself before, but it always ends up sounding even more horrible than the raptor, in your humble opinion. Your speech in wolf form is like a series of barks that vaguely resemble the vowels of a syllable. Maybe you could do better if you practiced more, and maybe you could communicate verbally with them if you really tried, but sitting around and trying to get everyone to patiently interpret your speech just for a 'hello' sounds like a hassle. You don't really see any need to volunteer your linguistic abilities just yet, and it's enough that the crazy blond thinks you're at least somewhat sapient. If he didn't, he wouldn't be crazy, after all.

You follow the bloody man as he leads Arthur and you back to his home.
Arkin
You didn't think much of it at first when he said 'thine' back by the pond, but 'beseech' is the straw breaks any shadow of a doubt. This guy always talks like this. Your first thought is that he's a roleplayer desperately trying to live out his fantasy even though he's in way over his head, (is he homeless?) but then you remember that he's been talking to a dog. Alone, in the middle of the woods, while recovering from a gunshot wound, no less. Either he's an extremely committed method actor, in which case you would expect him to have enough adoring fans to buy a run-down apartment and/or medical care, or this is just the way he talks all the time. That's... kind of cute, you guess?

In any case, the man who you still haven't learned the name of has made his choice. Seems he's definitely a hero, or at least trying to be one. You're not sure why anyone in such dire straits as to have to cauterize a bullet wound with a stick would be going out of their way to play the vigilante, but you've already committed to helping him out and you're going to finish what you started. You hesitate, of course, because this man is really planning on fighting people with a sword while an arrow is sticking out of his back. You worry about his well-being until you see him plunge his sword through a man with no hesitation, whereupon he vanishes in a puff of sparkly particles. You start to see things differently then.

These men, all dressed in yellow, are evidently more than just a group of visually similar people, and some super villain bullshittery is likely afoot. You're amazed he could see through it so easily, and then your eyes wander to his chiseled body and the glowing blue handprint still emblazoned on his left pectoral.

...Does he know? About you? Is that why he's been talking to a wild animal like some kind of crazy person? He was doing it even before you followed him back and very clearly took a stand as his ally. He still seems to think of you as a wolf, but it's clear that he can see the humanity inside of you. You decide you need to follow this guy for a while more, because whatever magic spirit vision he must have, it may be your best bet of returning to human society as an individual with human rights.

...You're not reading into this too much, are you?

Well, only one way to find out, but first, the battle. The three men he set aside for you have started trying to sneak off while you were distracted, and your gaze makes them break out into a panicked sprint. Of course, being a giant wolf, you easily catch up to them and begin perpetrating some utter carnage. You start by biting into the arm of the first one, pushing down on him with as you do so and using the leverage to rip the arm off completely, leaving him screaming on the ground, then you grab another one by the leg and swing him off the ground, into the third man, knocking him down as well. You keep the second man between your teeth as you spin around, swiping at the first man to finish him off in a burst of clone particles before going back to beating the third man with the second man. The sand falls out of his pocket as he is forcefully used as a human flail before eventually dissolving into clone particles from the head trauma or something. As you loom over the third, brutally beaten man with your paw on his chest and your claws digging ever so slightly into his neck, you realize that if one of these wasn't a clone, you could have easily killed them, and you didn't even consider the possibility. You start to worry over whether it's ok to actually kill the third man, since you can't identify the real one among the clones like the shirtless man can. Your first thought is, 'yes, they're a bad guy, superheroes get away with murder in broad daylight all the time, even when they're not fighting crime.' Still, you have a nagging doubt that you're not thinking the same as you normally would. Would the human 'you' be able to kill so nonchalantly? Would the human 'you' have murdered an entire pack of wolves in the name of trial-and-error science and a petty grudge?

Luckily, you think up an excuse to avoid thinking too deeply on the matter, or even at all. The shirtless man told you to handle them, and he can definitely identify which ones the clones are, so you should be good to do as a wolf does and kill them all. With that solved, you silence the begging you weren't paying attention to with a light press, and sure enough, they burst into clone particles.

Still, doesn't that mean the first man, who should be unconscious right now, is the original? You look back to where you left him, but he's gone, leaving only a bloodstain and the unused second arrow behind. You run over and put your dog nose to good use trying to catch his scent in the direction of the woods you came from, but he's surprisingly not nearby. He can't have gotten that far if he just crawled away, but it seems as though some others dragged him away. You could probably track them down, but right now the shirtless man takes priority.

You run back to him, bow still strapped around your abdomen, but as you reach him he falls to one knee and you panic a bit. You don't exactly have the dexterity to get him on your back gently in this form, and there's certainly a lot of watchers. You could always wrap him in silk and gently hoist him up, but if they find out you're a shape-shifting dog, you won't be able to use your moth form to rob a pharmacy and then escape the legal consequences down the line. You're about to try to get Arthur onto your back when another man comes near. You turn to him with an icy glare that comes natural to you, once more trying your hand at gauging intent via mind reading. He's not wearing yellow rubber, but you don't have any context for what's going on here in the first place, and his shirt is soaked in a frankly alarming amount of blood. You hope this isn't the part where you take your first human life.
Mr. Yellow
This absolute bastard really just turned his back on you like you're some two-bit no-named goon! You're down a finger but he's just expecting you to give up and go home! You're not even in handcuffs! You've never felt so insulted in your life. You're Mr. Yellow! A member of the sinister six! The five other Yellows are readying to meet the sword-wielding lunatic, the last clones you'll ever make with full-fingered hands. You'd probably be too busy lamenting your loss, but the guy even went so far as to heal you. The disrespect of it all!

You spot the Bow he carelessly dropped and stealthily drag yourself to it, grabbing the loose arrow you were shot with. You're filled with anger as you realize you have to knock the arrow with your index and ring finger now and let loose the arrow at the shirtless jackass without any hesitation.

It manages to find its mark, and the catharsis of it is so satisfying that you grit your teeth and rip the other arrow out of your knee. You let out a bit of a scream, but it's worth the pain. You use both hands to lift yourself up to your feet, albeit putting all your weight on your good leg, and ready the second arrow, still dripping with your blood, as poetic a vengeance as could be.

Arkin
Your mouth begins to water as you are offered cooked meat for the first time in what feels like forever. You've been eating nothing but leaves and raw meat for a while now, so when you get over your hesitation and sink your teeth into that juicy venison, you feel like you could cry. Your tear ducts don't seem to work that way, but you nonetheless eat the entire thing right off the ground. You really have gone feral.

You have to hold yourself back from going straight for the rest of the deer as a blue flash of light appears from the west. This seems to be worth the strange man's attention, because he decides now is when he needs to cauterize that wound. It looks excruciating, and you once more wish you could do something to help the man. You'd march out there and do it yourself, no matter how strange it'd seem, if you at least had opposable thumbs. When he tosses the smoldering stick back into the fire and wraps his wound, he invites you to the rest of the deer before placing his hand on his chest, which you only now notice has been glowing this whole time.

You were a bit distracted by the smells, okay? Don't judge.

It sparks your curiosity deeply. You've heard of the weird powers of certain vigilantes before, but only in passing or on the news. You've never actually seen one in real life, and the materializing plate mail armor proves to you that you're not barking up the wrong tree.

The man gathers his things before taking off into the tree line, towards the blue light. In accordance with your original plan, you follow after him, staying at a distance so as to not alarm him. The way back takes a while, and it is during this transit that you suddenly begin glowing again. You have to swerve back behind a tree to keep him from noticing, but to your luck he doesn't seem to suspect anything.

You seem to be a different kind of caterpillar now. A rather fluffy one at that, since you are now covered from head to tail end in pristine white hair.

You don't have the slightest inkling how this happened, but now's not the time to mess around with it. Looking back, it seems you've lost the strange man, but it shouldn't matter if that light came from civilization. You decide now is as good a time as any to try out flight again, so you return to your moth form, take wing-assisted jumps up above the treeline, and begin practicing over the canopy where there are no trees to crash into face-first.

It's uneasy and you feel like you have to rely on gliding half the time, but the teetering, exhaustive flapping you call flying is working. It's rather exhilarating, and you finally see the buildings of human construction ahead of you for the first time since your ordeal began. Things are just starting to look up when you look down to see the strange man take an arrow to the back by some dude dressed in all yellow. The man's armor is gone for some reason, rendering him shirtless again, and you see five other yellow men laughing as they close in on him.

You could just stay out of it, and indeed, it makes sense to do so, but you can't help but feel indebted to the strange man who has now come under fire. You didn't ask for his venison, but he gave it to you anyway, so no matter how you look at it, you should repay the favor now that you finally can.

As the bow-wielding man nocks another arrow, you come falling out of the sky in wolf form, air-dropping directly on top of him, knocking him to the ground where he takes a heavy blow to the head. Immediately, you get the bright light again, and you start to think that getting new forms has been much easier than you thought.

You don't have time to get a detailed assessment of whatever you are now, but you seem to still be a wolf, just a much bigger one. You step inside the bow with one leg before grabbing it between your teeth and tossing it over your head, wearing it in as close of a way to how a human would that you can before charging at the other 5 men in yellow. You bare your teeth and snarl like the deranged beast you are as you charge into the group, hitting them like a runaway pickup truck with its breaks cut. You're practically the size of a horse now, and you end up knocking most of them onto their asses. You back off before someone whips out a gun and run back to the strange man.

You realize you're probably scaring the shit out of him, but you still ignore him and crouch down next to him, gesturing with your head that he should get on your back. You need to get this guy out of here now. He's probably a criminal, so the hospitals won't help, but maybe you can rob a pharmacy for actual supplies and go from there?

Or is he a vigilante? Both would explain the bullet wound, actually. Doesn't explain why he was cauterizing his wound with a burning stick in the middle of the woods though. Whatever, you'll have time to sort this out when you're not near... the yellow guys... who just look scared shitless.

I mean, you are a giant wolf, you guess... who fell from the sky, from their perspective, and exploded in a bright light on landing. Maybe you could help the shirtless guy arrest them? You look back at him, trying to figure out what he wants via mind reading because you can't ask directly.
Arkin
It's been a few days now.

Food hasn't been a problem. You're pretty sure Caterpillars are supposed to be herbivores, but the large fangs suggest otherwise for you. You've had some leaves as well as some birds you've managed to catch and you can't say you've felt anything wrong in your stomach, so it seems as if you can digest basically anything. You also found a river, so drinking water hasn't been an issue. You miss the convenience of modern technology, but all things considered, being lost in the woods hasn't been all that bad. Usually.

You're a Caterpillar. Not just any caterpillar, mind you, but a caterpillar nonetheless. Your legs are stubby and numerous, and you still aren't all that comfortable walking around on them, much less running for your life from a pack of hungry wolves. One wolf would have been fine. You can deal with one wolf. All you'd have to do is spit webs at it until it's completely stuck, then either bite a vital point or throw a big rock at it. You got that first part done just as another showed up, and then another, and another, and now only the head start afforded by bluffing with the spots on the side of your body is keeping you alive. It didn't take long for the wolves to catch on once you bolted, but you think it's too late to start standing your ground now.

The tree roots of the forest floor cause you to stumble over and over, but the rest of your legs keep you upright and moving. Even so, it doesn't feel like enough as the sounds of the wolves continue to draw ever closer. Your stupid caterpillar head isn't made to look behind you while running away, and your anxiety starts to mount as you realize you're not going to be able to lose them. You didn't want to get yourself stuck up on a tree all day long, but it beats getting ripped apart and eaten alive. You go to the nearest tall one and climb it, defying gravity with your weird velcro feet and come to rest on one of the lower branches, a dozen feet up, staring down at the newly formed encirclement of barking dogs. You've never owned any pet other than a goldfish, but you're pretty sure you're more of a cat person.

You take some time to catch your breath and evaluate your options. The higher branches of the tree you're on that could actually get you onto other trees don't seem thick enough to sustain your weight. You'd think the dogs would get bored and leave, eventually, but after a few minutes of waiting they still seem content to bark at you from below. As time passes, you start to get bored and annoyed. You spit some sticky webbing at the dogs to try to get them to go away, but some of the wolves always break away from the collective in order to aid the victim in tearing it up and eventually going back to barking. You already spit out quite a lot earlier, and you don't think you can immobilize all of these wolves, so you rule that out as an option that is available within any reasonable amount of time. Eventually you just shrug as much as a caterpillar is capable of shrugging and decide to climb higher. Maybe they'll give up faster if they can't see or smell you at all.

You climb up as much as you can so as to obscure your figure in the canopy. You are mostly green, after all. As you do however, you misjudge the structural integrity of one of the branches and it snaps. You figured you'd be lighter, given how you can walk on walls so easily with just feet velcro, but it's the very same feet velcro that is now dragging you down, off the tree, into a metaphoric pit of literal wolves. Your life doesn't flash before your eyes, but you do feel miffed that you're going to die because you were too fat. You've been made fun of for being a beanpole your entire life and now the operating tables have turned. Metaphorical operating tables. There certainly were literal operating tables back in that lab, but getting turned into insectoid wolf chow was less 'unethical surgery' and more 'Captain America's zappy chamber'. At least you weren't turned into a literal beanpole, but you can't say this is much better.

Time seems to slow down as you fall towards the fractal of snapping jaws, and it stays that way as one of them leaps up and bites down on your tender fleshy nape.

The next moment is a blur as you come crashing down hard on the forest floor and the back of your neck bleeds profusely. The pain is debilitating, but the offending jaw that bit you is already gone somehow. You desperately struggle to get your bearings as you scramble to your feet, which suddenly feel far less numerous. You panic a bit at the foreign sensation, but either you don't have good pain receptors there or you have some insectoid adrenaline keeping you from feeling it, so you prioritize taking stock of the wolves eyeing you from a short distance away with spooked looks on their faces. For some reason they've backed off, which doesn't make any sense to you until you finally realize that you are now covered in fur.

You look down at your little paws with a mixture of bewilderment, excitement, and exasperation. You didn't know you could be anything but a big creepy bug ever again, but discovering that whatever happened in that lab has made you even freakier than you initially thought makes you mentally groan. Next thing you know you'll shapeshift into Frankenstein, or maybe you actually will become a literal beanpole, or both at the same time. Who fucking knows? Sure as hell not you!

The wound on your neck must not be as deep as it feels if you have so much time to think about complete nonsense while the novelty of shapeshifting into a wolf wears off and the real wolves close in on you with a decidedly predatory look in their eyes. You try to communicate with them with little yips that, if you do say so yourself, are absolutely adorable, but suddenly becoming a small wolf evidently has not granted you the gift of wolven speech. You theorize animal speak is mostly contextual, but either way it seems the pack isn't looking to adopt.

You rack your brain trying to think of something to get yourself out of this mess while the wolves are still being cautious enough that you have time to think, but it all ultimately leads back to this fucked up life you're living right now. You went from a caterpillar to a bigger caterpillar to a small wolf. The pattern doesn't even slightly hold, so either you can transform into something else again, you can transform back into a caterpillar, or... you're just fucked, really.

You try as hard as you can, tensing your body as you stretch out, standing awkwardly on your hind legs as if doing so is supposed to help you turn into a bear, but nothing really happens. You figure it has something to do with how you were bitten right as you became this, but there's not a lot of options for you at the moment, you already know Mosquitoes don't count, and trees can't bite. Out of desperation you even bite the bark of the tree you fell off of, which, while distracting for the encircling wolves, accomplishes nothing but putting a bad taste in your mouth. At this point you have half a mind to attempt putting on a show for the wolves like a court jester trying not to get beheaded, but to your luck, you find that a simple focusing thought once again renders you in... your disgusting and useless caterpillar form.

The wolves seem to have stopped giving a shit about your freakish parlor tricks as they leap at you in earnest, and you only barely manage to put two and two together in time to vanish before their very eyes. Metaphorically.

Turns out you can even go back to your tiny caterpillar form. It's a simple matter from there to hide within the fallen leaves littering the forest floor as you sneak away.



The closest thing you have to a home in the woods is this cave you found behind a small waterfall. The magic of it is partially ruined by how obvious it is, but on the upside you can get into it without getting wet and other animals don't seem interested in it because of the noise of the waterfall. It's also adequately deep to stay dry, albeit its inner confines are dark and seems to lead to the center of the Earth with how deep it goes. You've only slept in it once, since you've been wandering downstream in search of civilization, but it's convenient enough that you'd like to come back here if you're unable to find anything. You're still not sure how you're gonna work around the whole 'freak of nature' thing, but maybe if you can find someone to communicate with you can win human rights in court and work at a circus freak show for a living.

...You sigh.

For now, you just lie in the shallow end of the water pooling at the foot of the waterfall, trying to get your wound clean. You can't exactly dress it considering your lack of opposable thumbs or sterile materials, but it luckily doesn't seem very deep. Your wolf form is smaller than your larger caterpillar form. Maybe suddenly shrinking minimized the damage?

You have too many blessings to count for someone in as shitty a situation as you are. When you've done all you think you can for your wound, you shake off what water you can before realizing that transforming into a smaller form and back can displace most of the water on you, drying you right quick.

You feel too hungry to be wholeheartedly continuing your journey just yet, and while you would normally look for food on your way, it might be nice to just stick around for nightfall while you have the cave. You could just eat some leaves, but you're in the mood for some meat, and what better prey than those damned wolves from before?

It takes a while, but you eventually manage to track some of them down. You can tell the others are nearby, and you silently curse their relaxed formation. Aren't packs of wolves supposed to stay really close together? It certainly would have saved you the trouble earlier, but now it should be their downfall. This time you aim for their annoyingly loud maws and seal them shut before they even notice your presence. Like that, you are able to dispatch then one by one, though you stop at just two because you're frankly just here for the food.

You wrap one up in a cocoon like a spider would and kill the other. Animals being treated below humans goes without saying for the continued function of human society, and your instincts simply tell you that it's kill or be killed. Maybe you had some hesitation when you decided to eat an entire bird, but any you might have had before is long gone now. All it takes is a bite on the neck to end the wolf's life, but what you don't expect is suddenly becoming enveloped in a golden light as soon as you do.

The first time it happened was overnight. You were asleep, suddenly waking up comparatively enormous, and you even started getting concerned you were going to end up a kaiju. The second time was a mess. You had your eyes shut in anticipation, and even if you could see, it would just be a spinning blur of gnashing teeth and feral, hungry eyes. Well, and light apparently, because gaining a new form seems to come with a light show. For a moment, your own light hurts your eyes enough to force you to shut them, but when you open them again, it's already over.

You have wings now, apparently.

You're rather shocked you didn't need to go through a chrysalid form, but it's ultimately a relief. The idea of melting yourself down was making you nervous. You hurry back to the cave and toss the wolves inside before examining your reflection on the water.

You seem mostly the same size, though your wingspan is probably three meters already. They're not the prettiest, but at least they're an amber color instead of a dull brown, and they even have some rather mesmerizing eye patterns. Seems you're a moth, not a butterfly. You're glad you got a wolf form before this one, because the existential dread of being an ugly moth forever probably would have gotten to you. It might have even been worse than your first night as a caterpillar, which you're pretty sure was the worst night of your life... Okay, maybe nothing's topping that one, but you toss the thought aside before you dwell on that night for too long.

You somewhat belatedly realize that you should be able to fly now and immediately begin trying it out. You smash your face directly into a tree and decide to put it off until after you've eaten that wolf. As you're eating, you ponder the conditions for the acquisitions of your forms and realize that maybe killing more wolves will get you more forms. Before even finishing your meal, you switch to your wolf cub form and do your best with your tiny jaw to bite the other wolf to death. It eventually succumbs beyond a shadow of a doubt, which troubles you, since you didn't get any new form in the process. You decide you need more wolves to experiment on and, after finishing your meal, take off in search of yet more of them. Flying is still a bit too difficult for you, but you keep trying anyway as you clumsily throw yourself through the trees in search of them, as well as any other prey unfortunate enough to catch your eye. THIS MOTH HAS TEETH.



For the first time since the start of med school, you stay up late into the night, trying all sorts of different things to no avail. You realize with some guilt that you probably went overboard on that wolf pack, and you end up having to dispose of the excess wolf carcasses by burying them, not wanting to attract any untoward curious wildlife. When you're finally finished burying bodies in the middle of the night like a serial killer, you decide to sleep off the issue. You still have a few restrained live wolves to try things out on for tomorrow.

The next morning, after breakfast, you decide to take a different approach. You wrangled the wolf and killed it all in your caterpillar form, giving you a moth form. While you've killed more wolves already in all of your forms and eaten them in every which way, they remained tied up and defenseless because of your moth form. Your moth form doesn't seem like it'll evolve any more, but if you released a wolf, would they then be valid for evolving your other forms?

Look, you're grasping at straws here. You clearly evolved after scoring a kill so you can't think of anything better to try, and it's something you're going to need to understand in order to properly live out the rest of your life as whatever the fuck you are now.

You go through with it, reasoning that you can just change back into your moth form and shoot webbing at it if things get dangerous. You use your weird moth teeth to rip through the bulk of the webbing on your penultimate wolf, then back up, leaving them to struggle free the rest of the way themselves as you get into position to block their exit. You then change into your wolf cub form and hope that the half day or so of leaving it without food has done more to reduce its strength than the desperation and hunger has done to render it viciously ravenous. You could always starve it longer and try to fight it when it's weaker, but you value your time, okay? You could always try again with your last wolf when they get weaker if this one bolts, or even find new opponents in the woods.

When the wolf finally frees itself, it predictably runs towards the exit, the source of the only light in this cave, seemingly trying to ignore you. You are just a small wolf cub after all; nothing like the weird insect monster that put it in this mess. You refuse to let it go without a fight and leap at it, clamping your jaw directly on its neck as it passes by. Like a dog that refuses to let go of a tug rope, you end up hanging off of it, completely suspended above the ground. Perhaps not expecting such viciousness from a pup or just scared after the ordeal it's been through, it yelps and staggers before rectifying itself, letting out a low growl and trying to crush you with its body weight. When it fails to loosen your grip it goes back to making yelping sounds as it panics, unable to get you off with its claws or teeth. Left with no clear option, it gives up and leaps directly into the waterfall.

It gets much harder from there to keep biting as the current washes you two down the river, but you at least managed to prepare yourself for holding your breath in time. It seems that you're dragging the other wolf down, because for the most part, you both remain under the water's surface as you're carried downstream. You close your eyes and focus on nothing but holding on tightly as the wolf flails about, but eventually the flailing stops, and with it, you feel the size of your jaw grow.

You ditch the other wolf and manage to doggy-paddle your way to the river bank a new wolf. Just like before, you've skipped all the intermediary steps and gone straight to adulthood. Not only that, but you seem to have made surprisingly good progress down the river in the process. You try out your new form by continuing onward in it, relishing in finally being faster than that wobbly excuse for a gait you had in your caterpillar form. Finally achieving practicality, you can also finally enjoy having a mundane number of limbs for extended periods of time. Hell, it feels so nice that you break out into a run. All-fours isn't nearly as hard to adapt to, and you pick up a nice, cathartic stride. You start to space out as you simply enjoy your newly improved running capability before being snapped out of your reverie by something that smells really good. It doesn't smell quite the same as your wolves. After that river ride, the wolf you came here with probably doesn't smell great right now, though you're not sure where exactly it's gone off to. You follow the (good) smell, which strays a bit from the path of the river. You weave your way through the trees until you come across a small pond, the source of the smell. A ways away, you spot some shirtless dude with a sword next to what remains of a freshly cooked deer, no doubt the source of the smell. It's then that you hear it.

"Come at me goat fucker! Hyaaa!"
Arthur


You're terribly confused, both at what he had to say and what he was doing, but you weren't about to let the only living human you've seen since those explorers slip through your fingers. While it seemed as if he was out camping, he had to have come from somewhere, and somewhere is exactly where you want to go. You stalk over towards him, only catching a whiff of his blood over the overpowering smell of cooked meat when you draw closer. Maybe you should have been able to earlier with your weirdo wolf nose but it's been a long time since you had cooked meat. You stop and observe from behind a tree as he swings his sword at nothing over and over again, quickly recognizing the wound in his side as a bullet wound.

This, unfortunately, raises more questions than it answers. No sane person is camping in the woods with a bullet wound unless they're a criminal, right? Still, you hesitate for only a moment. It doesn't really change anything what kind of person he is if you can get him to lead you back to human civilization. You get closer still to him. You wish you had something to offer him, like that wolf floating down the river, or a way to dress his wounds, but so far the only leverage you have is being unobtrusive, so, in spite of the appetizing remains of that deer being present, you sit stoically on the side, waiting for him to finish whatever the hell he's doing. You had wolf for breakfast anyway. Does that make you a cannibal? You didn't eat it in your wolf form, but...

Ah, forget it. You don't want to think about how fucked up it is that you're here now as you are. You'd rather ponder the connection between the guy's sword fetish and that bullet wound.

...And, he's noticed you. Okay. Don't mind the wolf staring at you like a voyeur, he just wants to stalk you all the way back to town, absolutely nothing to be concerned about.
Updated Arkin. I added some details here and there, with minor elaboration/embellishment on the mechanics, so let me know if I should change anything.
So I figured id gauge everyone's opinions on this because I don't want to improperly rp this. Considering we live in a world of hero's and villains, how would you guys react to seeing a young man in full plate mail, brandishing a sword, and speaking in old english? And more importantly how would common folk react to that?

I'm just curious because from what I've seen we have a pretty diverse cast of characters and I really want to be able get into the world and it's inhabitants. After all, his mission is to learn from the people how best rule over and protect a kingdom and its peoples.

In the city, heroes and villains are common enough where people would not pay him to much attention besides a glance and the occasional stare. He might initially draw some concern as people won't know if this is a good costumed guy or bad costumed guy until he starts to do notable things.

In the context of a city with many superheroes, yeah, he wouldn't be wildly out of place when seen by passersby, but in the context of realizing he's serious about swordplay and the ye olde english, they'd probably think he was larping, and when you consider that people's lives are on the line their first thought is probably going to be, "wow, this guy is really doing this right now."
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