Part wish fulfillment and part Weird Tales, a party led by a ship's captain explores the strange island they landed on, only to find one of their number turning into a sheep-maid. General.
Today, the island took the first of our crew. I would say it is the fifteenth of September, in the year eighteen hundred and fifty-six, but I am no longer sure. Since we put in to land five days ago, not once has the fog which shrouds the shores lifted.
In that time, no two parties sent into the interior of the island could agree on what they had found or where. One claimed it was a ring of land around a wide lagoon, another an impassable jungle thick with vines. Irritated by this, Captain Clarke this morning formed a party of the 'most sensible and scientifically-minded' men among the crew, the least given to flights of fancy or tall tales. They were the captain himself, the ship's cook and navigator Sloan, myself as naturalist and unofficial doctor, and a sailor named Simon who was the oldest and most seasoned of the ships's men. We would determine at last the nature of this strange place.
We set out from our encampment in the shadow of our ship, climbing up the seaward slopes of the hills. The fog descended over us until the tents along the sand had vanished and we could hear nothing but our own footsteps and breathing. Sloan and the captain walked ahead together, leaving me to keep my company with the sailor.
Simon did not speak much. The lines dug into the corners of his eyes made it seem as though he was always peering at some far-off memory, and the flecks of white in his black beard could almost have been sea-salt. I knew little about him save that he was from Connaught and that the captain regarded him highly.
March 9, 2020
The Dragon and the Elf-Blade
What if the fey were just fantasy cartoons? A dragon and an adventurer get turned into "fey" versions of themselves. Mature.
With each great footstep beat the heart of the mountain. With each fiery breath its treasures glimmered like stars. Scarce light filtered through the slits cut into the vaulted stone roof while the vast cavern turned every sound into an echoing chorus. Aluin huddled behind a gilded longship half-sunk beneath the dragon's hoard. One hand lay over her mouth and the other across her chest, as if to still her breath and stop her heart.
The dragon's voice cracked the dry air. "Trespasser! My flame has killed noble warriors—you should be honored to join their kind. Now show yourself, and I will be merciful."
The floor shuddered. The goblets and diadems beneath her began to slip away and rob Aluin of her footing. Clinging to the hull of the boat, she fought to stay above the tide of riches. The thundering footsteps were terribly close now. A gasp died in her throat as a claw as big as her head came to rest on the boat just above her. Silver and gold spilled across her shoulders like sand.
The shower of coins woke the elf-blade bound to her belt. It began to quiver and clatter, as if sensing danger and eager to be used. Scowling, she clutched it tightly by its hilt. She knew not what magic was worked into its blade; she had not yet needed to unsheathe it.
"My treasure is mine by right," the dragon said. He lifted his claw and beat his wings, rising into the air. "None can lay claim to a single coin of it. I am the King Beneath the Mountain. I am black smoke and the coming night. I am death and the ruin of cities." With a mighty crash, he landed in front of Aluin wings outstretched, fire brewing between his fangs. "I am Glaud!"
Gilt timbers groaned. The longboat listed to the side and spilled over. Aluin scrambled out from underneath it to keep from being drowned beneath a sea of silver. Now she stood face-to-face with the dragon. His scales were the color of porphyry, or dried blood, stretched taut across the sinewy frame of some great beast or tyger. Fangs filled his narrow snout and goat-like horns curled back from his head. His eyes gleamed yellow-green like tarnished gold.
She said, "I am Aluin." Where the courage to speak came from she could not guess. The elf-blade bucked and jostled at her side like an over-eager hound. "I come in search of a stone which belonged to my family generations ago, a sign—"
"You are a thief," Glaud snarled.
Aluin wrested the sword from its sheath. Its hilt was red and its blade blue, both blazing so bright it seemed as if they shone with their own light. From the hilt toward the tip, it thickened so much that she could not say how it had fit in its sheath. A shiver ran down her back and the sword wobbled along its length.
"I will not leave this mountain without that stone," she said.
Glaud's lips peeled in a beastly grin. "Then you will never leave."
January 3, 2020
Kotep poofs two of their friends into a couple of useless stoner genies. Mature.
Above a sea of lotus columns, an impossible number of stars swirled in the purple of the night sky. Below the columns, Rush and Tama followed close at Kotep’s heels. They both guessed that getting lost in the jackal-god’s home was an invitation to get hit by some ironic curse or another.
"This is the hypostyle hall," Kotep said with a sweep of their hand, looking back over their shoulder. "It's where I do festivals, parties, strip clubs—that kind of thing."
Tama was only sort-of listening, but she nodded along. "Sick."
"So how do you fit all this into one pyramid?" asked Rush.
Kotep did their best not to sigh out loud. "This is a temple, not a pyramid. Pyramids are for dead people."
"Wait," Tama said, "You're not dead? I thought you were a mummy or something."
"I'm a god."
Rush asked, "Aren't mummies kinda gods though?"
Kotep didn't bother answering that. Instead, they led their two guests onward, past braziers filled with golden flame spilling light across the open hall, and into a smaller, cozier room, lit by oil lamps that filled the air with fragrance. Several couches surrounded a table spread with grapes and candied dates, roast vegetables and morsels of meat stuck through with ankh-shaped skewers, and sitting in the middle of it all, a tall silver hookah.
December 11, 2019
Four horror-style stories from a haunted-style mansion: "The Portrait," "The Trophy," "The Conservatory," and "The Stables." General.
1 – The Portrait
At the front of the hall hung a portrait painted in oils: a woman in a gown and corset, with dark lips and darker hair. Its eyes didn't follow the viewer so much as pierce through them. Though its mouth curled down into the slightest scowl, the light and shadow across its cheeks made it seem, if you caught it in the corner of your eyes, as though it was smiling.
Paintings lined the hall, but it was the portrait that Jason's flashlight lingered on. He stuffed a fist into the pocket of his puffy jacket and hunched his shoulders to fend off a shiver. Did it count as creepy? It was working on him, but he'd have to convince the rest of his friends if he wanted to win their contest. Setting his flashlight down on a nearby table, he dragged his phone out of his jeans pocket.
While he framed the portrait in his phone's camera, his fingers grew cold. He clenched his hand into a fist, then blew on his knuckles, then patted his cheeks, but they remained cold and oddly pale. Hurry up and get the shot, he told himself.
With a ruby-nailed finger, he tapped the screen, then lowered it to peer at the finished picture. The zipper on the front of his jacket twitched before sliding downward, slowly baring the front of his shirt.
No good. The picture had come out blurry. Jason took a few steps forward. His sleeves thinned out while he rubbed his hands together to warm them up—slender fingers, slim wrists, goose- bumps along his soft skin. He swept a lock of darkening hair behind his ear, out of the way of a red teardrop earring.
The portrait's hands, folded in its lap, now looked large and plain in comparison, and its ears were conspicuously unadorned.
Lifting his phone again, he held it as still as possible. His pursed lips were overtaken by red lipstick. The collar of his shirt stretched lower across his chest and his copper-red hair tickled his slender shoulders. He tipped his head back, held his breath, and snapped another picture. This time, the shot was clearer, but the photo itself seemed wrong. Instead of eerie scornful beauty, there was a confused, almost shocked look in the portrait's eyes.
October 31, 2019
A woman gets swallowed up by her new scaly skin and turned into a cobra. (Contains biting.) Explicit.
Emily stepped barefoot across the tiled floor. A sliver of the North African breeze rustled the hem of her nightgown as she paused in the doorway, looking back at her fiancée slumbering amidst the sheets. With a small smile she swung the door closed, leaving only a crack open.
Filling the basin of the sink from the tap, Emily scooped up two handfuls of water and stroked them across her face. It had taken weeks of negotiating for Simon to agree to bring her on one of his 'expeditions', so she wouldn't let him see a hint of regret, even if the sun singed her nose pink and the dry air left her skin feeling like parchment.
Hands on the edge of the sink, Emily lifted her face and let the water drip off her chin. The cool air brushed against the edges of her cheeks. She chased an itch on the back of her palm with her fingers, then sunk her hands into the water and rubbed them together. Leaning over the water, she splashed several more handfuls across her face, too, in an attempt to soothe the itch running down her forehead and across her nose. After a thorough scrubbing, she groped for the washcloth and dried herself off.
The water hadn't helped. She scratched above her temple, along her cheekbone, across her jaw. Her nails left red tracks across her skin. She dug her fingers underneath her gown and scratched at her neck.
With a small breath of frustration, she lifted her nightgown from her shoulders, pulled it off over her head, and laid it out beside her while she retrieved a bottle of oil from her bag. She set aside the glass stopper, then poured a splash of the oil into her hand and spread it across her bare shoulders and onto her neck and cheeks.
As she rubbed the oil into the nape of her neck, Emily felt a tug around her midsection, like the grip of a corset, or more likely the tautness of dry skin. She turned toward the mirror. What looked like a translucent, silky sash had wrapped around her stomach, from her waist up to just below her ribs.
It wasn't silk. It was patterned, textured, scaled; it was snake skin. And it wasn't staying still. It slid outward along her skin, like a sheet pulled by an invisible hand. It was swallowing her up.
June 24, 2019
Kotep Strips Down
Some kind of jackal trickster god manages to turn themself into a Gideon-sized stripper. Explicit.
Deep in the temple, in a small sanctuary off of the hypostyle hall, Kotep stood in front of a mirror flanked by flickering braziers. The golden jackal turned to one side, then the other. They hiked up the edge of their dress, exposing a little more hip, then let it drop back down with a sigh.
"This isn't going to work." Not for this trick. The plan was too complicated to get into, but the important part was that Kotep needed to sex things up for it to work. The only problem was: "What the hell are mortals horny for these days?"
One arm folded across their chest and one finger tapping at their chin, Kotep stared at the floor. They contemplated for a good minute or two before they began to get bored and impatient with waiting. It was too hard to put themself in the mindset of some idiot constantly driven around by their procreatory bits. It was much easier to just cast a spell that would take care of it all for them. Riskier, sure, but no one got to be a trickster god by playing it safe.
Kotep raised a hand and the ground began to rumble. Gusts of wind fluttered against their dress and ruffled through their hair like unseen wings. A few green-blue feathers fell to the floor and traced the outline of a circle around their feet. They cocked their hips, planted their hands on their waist, and watched the mirror, waiting for the sign of some change.
It was their breasts first. Of course it was. Ever since the Thirty-First Dynasty it'd been breasts. Swelling outward with their soft weight, they pulled the linen tighter around them. Kotep arched their chest toward the mirror and ran their hands down their dress to smooth it out. Their breasts stretched with a slow, steady motion, like the filling of a balloon. If they rested their hands on either side, they could feel the faint quivering of mass pumping into them—as well as a small jolt from their nipples, from the feeling of linen brushing against tender skin. Kotep yanked their hands away, rolled their eyes, and huffed, "Mortals."