10th Autumn's Apex,
I thought today was just going to be another normal day. Well, normal for Equestrian standards, not mine. After work, I had gone back to my apartment and decided to clean the rifle to kill time. It was also a good way to remind myself how it functioned, and it gave me time to think.
I was just about to reassemble it when I heard a knocking on my door. Still carrying one half of my rifle, I walked down the hall and pulled the door open to reveal a purple and green reptile standing in front of me.
"Hey Spike, what's up?"
"Hi. Twilight told me to come get you and bring you to the library. She said that the debt was ready to be repaid."
"Oh yeah. I was wondering if she had forgotten or something. Any idea what she had in mind?"
Spike's eyes widened, and he said, "I can't tell you. You'll find out when you get there. And you'd better hurry up, everypony else is there, waiting for you."
"Oh joy," I said, a hint of worry in my voice. I had a feeling that something big was going to happen if the others were going to be there, "Just let me finish this up and I'll join you."
I sat down on my bed and reassembled the rifle, pulling back the charging handle and releasing the action to make sure everything was where it should be. Satisfied, I put it back in it's box and locked it up, following Spike out of the room and outside. The first thing I noticed was a familiar unicorn waiting for me.
"Hi Lyra." I said, pulling her into a hug and kissing her on the lips, not noticing Spike sticking his finger in his mouth in mock revulsion.
She returned the kiss, "Come on, the others are waiting for us."
I raised an eyebrow, "So what is going on?"
"Spoilers~" Lyra said in a sing-song voice, "Everypony knows about it though, and what I can say is that they're looking forward to it." She looked up in the sky, "We'd better go. Cloudsdale had scheduled rain in a bit."
Spike ran on ahead towards the library, while Lyra and I were content with walking. After that night on the hill, we had spent almost every spare moment together, with Lyra sometimes coming over to the farm to see me while I worked. After a talk and an agreement, we had announced our relationship two days after that night, and much to Lyra's relief, everyone had accepted it well. Even Sarah, who I thought would find the concept of inter-species relationships peculiar, had congratulated me with a painfully hard slap on the back.
"It's about time you found someone, lad!" She had said.
We reached the library after a few minutes, and I immediately saw that Spike hadn't been joking when he said everyone. The main lobby was packed with ponies. There were the Elements of Harmony, and their individual spirits next to them, as well as Valiant, who had materialised as I entered the library. Scootaloo was sat next to Rainbow Dash, and Shadow Breeze was on the other side, next to Fluttershy. Sarah was standing, leaning against one of the walls behind the ponies.
"With this kind of crowd, I'm not sure whether I should be excited or worried." I said as I looked around at the group of ponies.
"I'm sure it's going to be more of the former." Twilight said as she gestured to a book on the central table. I picked it up, and the title read 'Transformations with Living Creatures'.
I slowly placed it back down, as if it were about to explode, "Actually, it's the latter. If you're going to do what I think you're going to do..."
"Oh for Pete's sake Twilight, would you just tell him?" Rainbow said, "He's pretty much figured it out already."
Twilight sighed, "Fine. I've been wanting to practice transformation magic for a while now, but it's been difficult to find ponies willing to be test subjects. And since you owe me, I thought I'd ask you."
"So what did you have in mind?" I asked, only becoming more worried, "You're not going to turn me into a flowerpot, are you?"
"No, I only did that to my parents when I was a filly."
"Twilight, stop. You're scaring him," said Morale, noticing the single drop of sweat running down the side of my head.
I let out a sigh of relief when Twilight became silent, "Thank you, Morale."
Lyra gave me a look of confusion, "Who's Morale?"
"One of the spirits of the Elements of Harmony," Rarity said, "All seven of us have one."
"They're sort of like imaginary friends." Rainbow said.
"Oops, sorry Oath."
"Let's move on," I said, changing the subject, "Twilight, what do you want to turn me into?"
She blushed, before taking a breath and saying, "A pony."
I was silent for several seconds, so Twilight took the opportunity to go into detail, "It'll only be a temporary change, of course. I've quadruple checked everything, and I'm certain as to what I must do to perform the spell correctly."
"And you're sure it won't be permanent?" I said, now more suspicious than worried, "Even with my 'lack of magic' thing?"
"That's what the test was the other day," Twilight said, "I scanned your body for magic, and it seems you've absorbed as much as you can carry. Simply put, you're no different than any pony here. If all goes well, the spell should only last for 24 hours."
I didn't like the term 'if all goes well', but shrugged it off. This would only be temporary, and Twilight knew about the human anatomy, so she could change me back in the event it doesn't wear off naturally. At least... I hoped she could.
After a few minutes of deep thought, I came to a decision and said, "You know what? Screw it, let's do this!"
Twilight almost bounced with glee, "Excellent! Take a seat on the couch there and I'll get the spell ready. I'm also going to need you to take off your shirt."
I cocked my head, and Twilight said, "I need a clear shot at your skin, and I'm sure you won't be ok with getting shot in the face with magic."
I raised a finger and opened my mouth, then reconsidered, "Good point."
I pulled my shirt off, and heard a whistle of admiration from the general direction of Rainbow Dash, followed by half the room glaring at her. Lyra in particular could have murdered someone with her stare. Rainbow tittered nervously, before shifting her wings and silencing herself.
I looked back at Twilight, "Let's get this over with."
She nodded, and a shine began on her horn. It slowly became brighter, until I was forced to raise a hand to prevent myself being blinded. All of a sudden, the light vanished, and something punched me in the chest, followed by a tingling sensation flowing into my limbs. I looked down at myself, only to see I was still human.
"Huh, so what... happens... nn..."
I never finished that sentence as my tongue became unresponsive, along every other part of my body. I collapsed on the sofa, and felt my chest beginning to tighten, exactly where Twilight had hit me. It felt like my organs were being compressed into a space too small for them. The sensation of needles began to sting over my torso as well, spreading across my arms and legs. I screwed my eyes shut at the uncomfortable movements.
My hands felt numb, and any attempt to move them was futile. I also lost the feeling in my feet, and my legs felt like they were retracting into my pelvis, with my knees twisting into what seemed like an impossible shape. There was another sensation on my lower back, as if my spine was being pulled out. My wings felt like they were shrinking, although being crushed would have been a better description.
My entire body ached as the process happened, but my face was the worst. Obviously I had never known what it would be like to have my skull and brain reshaped, but it certainly wasn't painless. The sting crossed my cheeks and nose, my bones elongated, and I swear I could hear cracking as they changed. My skin felt stretched to breaking point, and I would have voiced my pain if I had control of my tongue.
Finally, the twisting and stretching stopped, and I opened my eyes. Everything was a blur, and I could make out distant voices as I tried to put movement back into my body.
"...he hear us?"
"He should. ...can get through to him."
I felt a hoof on my shoulder, and I blinked furiously to try and regain my vision. I could onlyjust make out numerous sets of eyes staring at me, while my limbs still timgled.
"How do you feel?" Said a voice.
I opened my mouth, but the nerves were difficult to control, as if I was speaking for the first time in years, "...hurts."
"Yes, the spell said that there would be some discomfort during the transformation, as well as speech difficulties to begin with," said another voice, which I recognised as Twilight's, "I thought I would leave those out so you wouldn't worry as much."
I could detect the sincerity in her voice, but I shook my head and said, "Never again."
My vision was returning, and I saw a pair of purple ears fold against a head, before she spoke again, "Can you move?"
My arms and legs were heavy, and the movements were delayed. I furrowed my brow and muttered, "Try to..."
I focused on my right arm and tried to move it, looking at the edge of the sofa. I went to grab the corner, but a dark green and brown stump came into view and simply pushed against it. I was confused, and attempted to rest my hand on the cushions to push myself up. Again, the stump pushed down, before buckling, and my weight fell onto the sofa again.
"It may take some time for his motor controls to return," said Twilight, "We might have to wait for a while."
I felt heavy, and tired. I wanted to rest, but I wanted to get up. I was about to try again, when a dark green pegasus walked into my field of view, staring into my eyes. His lips didn't move, but I heard Valiant's voice in my head.
You can do this, the voice said, Just take it slow, and try to get up.
I looked into his hazel eyes, before turning back to the stump and pushing down on the sofa again. Slowly, it began to support my weight, and I noticed a second stump moving as I lifted my other arm. They both shook from strain as I lifted myself up. This was harder than any bench lift, but I had to do this. The new limbs became straight, and the joints locked as I supported myself, looking around at the rest of me. Where my chest should have been was more dark green, occasionally split with stripes of brown. Below that was the blue cloth of my jeans, looking too big for me as I tried to remove my legs from them.
I began to kick my legs in an attempt to remove the trousers, before they were covered in a golden aura and pulled off by Lyra. I finally managed take a look at the rest of my new body, and paused to take in the sight.
Overall, it seemed the spell had worked. My body was covered in dark green fur, with brown stripes going along my torso and limbs. My arms and legs... no, hooves, were still a little numb, and I tried to flex them to get the nerves moving. I raised a foreleg, but misjudged where it went, and I rolled off the sofa, landing on my back with a loud thud.
I groaned as I felt a pair of hands grab me, and looked up to see Sarah picking me up to put me on my new hooves, "Sarah... this only time... you taller," I said, my lips pulling into what I assumed was a smile.
"Yeah, and I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts," she said, and I felt relieved that they could understand my rambling. She set me down on the floor, and my back legs immediately gave out, while my front legs were shaking from supporting the weight by themselves. I looked back at my hind legs, and slowly lifted them, one by one, before setting them on the ground as if they were made of glass. I examined the floor, looking for obstacles and noticing that I was only slightly taller than the other ponies.
"Well, I'm afraid that's the easy part over," said Twilight, "See if you can walk."
I nodded, and moved one of my forelegs forward, sliding it along the ground, before pulling my back leg along behind it. The edge of the hoof caught on the wooden floor, and I tripped again.
"Are you ok Dutch?" Fluttershy asked as she and Shadow helped me up.
"It's... difficult," I said, my speech improving, "Knees higher than human's, and feet are wrong."
"You can do it Dutch," Lyra said, standing a few metres in front of me, holding her forelegs out in the same way a mother would hold her arms out to a child learning to walk.
I looked down at my hooves, making sure I would get enough clearence in each step. I moved one leg forward, then another, followed by a third and a fourth. I did this a couple of times, then looked straight at Lyra, trying to walk without looking at my feet. The distance slowly closed, and with each step, Lyra's smile became bigger. When I was a single metre away, I picked up my pace and almost trotted into Lyra's forelegs. She pulled me closer, nuzzling my new face.
"You did well," she said.
"Love y..." I paused, then corrected myself, "I love you Lyra."
I pulled away, and managed to balance myself with considerably less effort before focusing on my speech again, "Can I... get a mirror?"
Rarity floated a full-length mirror in front of me, and I looked at the pony standing before me. The brown stripes also covered my face, and there was a single, pink line under my eye where the fur wasn't growing, as well as a piece of my left ear missing. There was another line on my chest, and I stood side-on to see a pair of large, green wings. I shifted my back, and they responded by unfurling and giving a flap.
"At least they're familiar to use." I remarked, and extended them fully, noticing the symbol of a white shield on my flank. To put it simply, I was almost a spitting image of Valiant.
As if on cue, Valiant said, "Well, who's that handsome devil?"
I gave him a deadpanned expression, before looking at everyone else. Something clicked in my head, and I said, "Twilight, did the book mention any mental alterations the spell would cause?"
"They hadn't mentioned anything due to a lack of proper research, why?"
I blushed, before saying, "You all look a lot prettier than before."
The library was silent. The first pony to move was Twilight, who produced a notebook and scribbled something down without breaking eye contact with me. This only made blush further. Rainbow was next, who walked over to Lyra and whispered something in her ear. She grinned, and whispered something back. Rainbow gave her a nod, before walking over to me, giving me a stare through half-lidded eyes.
"So you think we're pretty do you?" She asked, moving closer until she was almost rubbing against my fur.
"Well... yes." I said, answering honestly, but getting nervous.
"I bet I'm prettier than everypony else," she said, "Maybe even Lyra here."
Her face was mere inches from mine, and I was becoming extremely flustered. I looked over at Lyra, but she was looking away from me, finding the scenery outside to be very interesting.
"Rainbow, cut it out!" Applejack said.
Rainbow ignored her, "We're both pegasi, so I know all the right places," she draped a hoof over my shoulder, "Even... this one." Her hoof ran down the ridge of my back, and sparked the nerves there. Instantly, my wings extended out of reaction, and she promptly fell on the floor, clutching her sides in laughter.
It took a moment for me to figure out what had just happened, before looking at the rest of the group. Shadow and Lyra were laughing too, while Fluttershy was blushing profusely. I looked back at my wings. Unlike my humans wings, these were as stiff as a plank, and no amount of flexing would make them fold back by my sides. I remembered how my wings had stiffened before, and I started blushing too. Sarah looked to be the only confused one in the room, until Applejack murmured something to her, at which point she started laughing too.
"Oh, that's too good." She managed between laughs.
"Alright, you got me," I said, "Twilight, do you have anything that'll get rid of this?"
She giggled, "Oh, maybe."
I huffed, "Fine, how about this: If you shut Rainbow up, I'll let you do another transformation spell on me."
Twilight paused, and something glinted in her eyes and an evil smile crossed her lips. Her horn glowed, and Rainbow's laughing was immediately silenced. I turned to look at her, and saw that she was still lying on the floor, her mouth open, but no sound was coming from it. When the realisation hit her, she stood up and moved her lips, but her words were unheard by everyone. I let myself enjoy a laugh of my own as she scowled at me.
"And since you've been such a good test subject, I'll even let you choose the spell."
Feeling excited, I walked over to the central table and raised a hoof to turn the pages. I was still clumsy with their movement, and after scrunching the first page, Twilight gasped and pulled the book away from me before turning to the index. I looked at the list of spells, and one of them caught my attention in an instant.
"Twilight, can you turn to page 124 please?"
"Sure," the pages turned purple and flipped over as one. Twilight gasped as she reached the right chapter, "A wolf?"
Everyone else crowded round the book, and I did my best attempt at a shrug, "Wolves are cool."
I looked over at Lyra, "Are you ok with that Lyra?"
"I don't mind," she said, smiling, "My curiosity's got the better of me."
I grinned, and sat down in the middle of the room while Twilight cast the spell. When it hit me, there was the same feeling of stinging and twisting, but as I was already a quadruped to begin with, it was less painful than the first transformation. Another 30 seconds passed, and my vision was blurred again as I opened my eyes. I shook my head to get rid of the nausea and looked around, seeing a furry paw where the green hoof had been.
It seemed Rainbow had been given her voice back, as she said, "Ok, that is cool."
I lifted myself up, taking a moment to balance. It was certainly easier to stand on paws, as they were more flexible than hooves.
"It's wierd seein' him as somethin' outta the Everfree Forest," Applejack said, "Is that really you Dutch?"
I walked in front of the mirror, and a grin covered my face. The reflection showed a light-grey wolf, a timber wolf to be exact. Luckily, I wasn't an Equestrian timber wolf. Having a body of wood wouldn't sit well with me. The eyes were still a warm hazel, and a bushy tail involuntarily waved back and forth. I opened my mouth to answer Applejack, but the only noise I made was a bark, and my eyes went wide with shock.
"Uhh, Twilight, why did Dutch just bark?" Pinkie asked, and Twilight feverishly began to read through the chapter. I walked over and started reading too.
"Oh no," she said, "Because real wolves can't talk, anypony who gets turned into one can't talk either," she looked at me, "You have the body of a wolf, so you've got a wolf's larynx too."
My brain signalled my vocal cords to say, 'You mean I can't talk?' but all that came out was a high-pitched whine. I sat down on the floor while everyone stared at me and tried to say something, anything. The only thing that reached my ears were yelps and whines. Eventually, I gave up, and as I tried to yell in frustration, my head automatically lifted up and I howled inside the library. When I had finished, I stared at the floor, and my ears instinctively folded down. I knew that I would be able to speak again tomorrow, but it still saddened me more than I thought it would.
I heard trotting, and Lyra came up beside me, lifting my chin with a hoof before hugging me, "Hey, it's alright. At least you'll be back to normal tomorrow, right?"
I nodded, and rested my chin on her shoulder. Suddenly, an idea came to me, and my ears perked back up. I looked at Shadow, and tried to use the old communication spell.
"Shadow, is this working?"
His eyes widened, and he grinned, "Yes! I can hear you." I sprang to my feet, my tail wagging ecstatically.
The others seemed to notice, and Twilight said, "Shadow, Dutch, what are you doing?"
"Dutch's communication spell is still working!" Shadow exclaimed, "It's something we got when we joined the guard. It allows us to talk telepathically."
Twilight sighed in relief, before saying, "I'm sorry about this Dutch. I can turn you back into a human if you want."
The prospect of being human again was nice, but I shook my head, "You were kind enough to do this for me. I'll stick it out until the spell wears off."
Shadow relayed the message as I looked at her, and she nodded, "Alright, if you're sure."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Shadow lean over and whisper something to Fluttershy. She giggled, and rested against him, nuzzling his cheek. It was subtle, and it didn't seem like anyone had noticed it. Funnily enough, I did.
"Woah, woah, woah, what was that? Was that what I think it was?" I asked. Shadow's face darted over to me and he blushed profusely. I only gave him a sly grin as I waited for an answer.
"Well... yeah, it was," Shadow said, and he became defensive, "As it turns out, we have a lot in common, thank you very much. We've been together for about a week now."
"Hey, in my defence, congratulations," I said, "And don't worry, your secret is safe with me."
"Dutch, what are you doing?" Lyra asked, noticing the silent stare between me and Shadow.
"Oh nothing," Shadow said, glancing me a look, "Just a private joke."
I picked up on the look, and nodded. Obviously he wasn't ready to announce the relationship. Shadow seemed to relax, and he and Fluttershy got up and headed for the door.
"I need to go and take care of the animals," Fluttershy said, "Shadow said he'd help me."
As everyone said goodbye and Shadow headed towards the door, I whined , "You can't leave me here. How will I talk to them?"
He gave me a shit-eating grin, "I'm sure you can still write. How hard could it be?"
He closed the door, and I silently growled. He was right, I could probably still use a pencil, but it would take some time to learn using my mouth. My spirits lifted when Lyra nudged my side.
"Cheer up Dutch," she said, "Let's take a walk round town, try out your new body. I just hope we don't scare too many ponies."