Private - World of Flesh, World of Mind, World of...

Private - World of Flesh, World of Mind, World of...
Discussion in 'Other Planes' started by Ueno Mizuki, May 6, 2018.
  1. Just how much control does the world of TS have on someone's mind? Is there such thing as a soul, does a VR set do more than just send signals, does it actually take your soul and put it in another world? A silly thought, one that would be laughed at in any respectable circle...

    And yet here Mizuki was, standing in a place which was so surreal that she was having trouble accepting what was deemed 'common sense' as she looked at it.

    There was green. There was a lot of it. She looked around, taking in the sight of a world where nature was free to do as it pleased, a realm as alive as the deepest jungles and the oldest swamps. The air had a hazy sensation to it, not because of smoke or pollution but because it was so saturated with water, with magic, with life, that it could be seen with the naked eye. The only markings of there being something aside from plants and animals being marked stones, looking nothing like the rectangular and forcefully formed structures that you'd see in civilization. A pleasant temperature, not hot enough to drain or dehydrate but warm enough that if one wished they could just as easily walk around without clothes.

    Which was what Mizuki was doing, although not exactly in the manner one might expect. This wasn't the first time she had come here: she wasn't sure when it had exactly started, except that it hadn't been too long after the first time that she'd awoken the more primal abilities of a druid. And after she'd learned that in this place her druidic abilities were so amplified it felt like she could take on the hardest tasks with minimal effort she'd decided that in this place at least she'd completely surrender to the wilds.

    Walking around in her wolf form Mizuki explored the world of verdant dreams, a world which could only be accessed by druids while they were asleep. She'd read of it in books, searched for and found after the first time she'd ended up in this ethereal plane, and it had challenged many of her beliefs on how VR and the human mind worked. The fact that it was only accessible while asleep, that it didn't leave her any less rested even though sleep was supposed to be the time where your mind shut down to defragment and reconfigure itself, and the strangest thing of all, that even when she fell asleep on Earth without the VR set on she could swear she sometimes caught glimpses of this place, feeling as real as life itself, before she woke up with a start.

    As she walked she sniffed the air, the flowers growing around her as she headed to a landmark she'd found early on and decided to use as the anchor to help her centre herself in this world. She explored a lot, climbing trees (temporarily abandoning her wolf form for convenience) and running through the undergrowth, and in every direction there was more green, more signs of both flora and fauna, a world where the beauty and cruelty of nature were present in abundance but which still felt like a paradise to Mizuki... probably because as a druid she was powerful enough here that she'd yet to find a predator which actually posed a threat.

    Ducking underneath a low branch she stepped out onto the edge of a secluded lake, whisps floating above the cyan waters. A landmark which was easily found and which provided refreshment and relaxation once you reached it. She lowered her head to drink, lapping up the cool water with her broad tongue before walking along the edge to a spot where there was a little space between the water and the trees, laying down and looking at the reflection of the skies above in the water as she let herself fully experience the tranquility of this place.

    There were many questions about this place, questions which she wanted answered, but she couldn't deny that she greatly enjoyed this place and felt honoured that she was allowed to access it, even if she didn't know who to be grateful towards or whether there were any qualifications beyond a certain level of talent as a druid.

    Although she'd yet to encounter any other druids... She was pretty sure that even if there might not be a lot of players who were at this level of mastery of nature magic there still should have been NPCs, but it looked like this world was big enough that you'd need a lot of luck to run into another druid unless you'd found a way to help find one another...

    Pushing herself back up Mizuki left the lake behind, entering the shadow between the trees as she headed towards an area she'd found last time but hadn't finished exploring yet, a place which seemed to have an unusual amount of vines and thorns. It was a rougher terrain, one where her wolf form was challenged as she made her way deeper, trying to find the core of the area to see if there was something of interest there.

    @Madison Freebird
  2. Breath deeply.

    Find your center.

    Become one with the world around you.

    Don't choke on that green mist; you don't know if it's pollen yet and you may have allergies.

    Boy, wouldn't that suck? You spend all this time learning and growing and suffocating things to death with vines and spores, hunting down dusty old books and threatening dryads in a desperate attempt to unlock the secrets of the Emerald Garden... Only to find that breathing the very air in it might send you back to the real world with red eyes, a runny nose, and endless sneezing?

    Haaaaa, that'd be your luck, wouldn't it.


    Madison did not open her eyes as she remained seated in the middle of a small clearing. Her legs were crossed, her tunic shifting in the light breeze as she continued to breath in and out. The only company she had were thick lengths of vines that grew all around her, some waving in the wind, others slithering across her body, caressing her curves as she tested her abilities within the Garden. The thorns pulled at her clothing and hair, but never pierced her skin. Not a single mark was left behind as the witch continued to explore the kind of power she could access in this hidden realm.

    It was the sixth day since her awakening. Each night, she remained plugged into the game and explored the supernatural realm while her avatar slept. There was so much natural beauty to discover; from natural groves to the twisted trees that grew at unnatural angles; from the patches of poisonous plants she hadn't seen before to their far more beautiful and breathtaking counterparts, the wildflowers and their rainbow of hues.

    She had to wonder one thing, though. With all the players in Terrasphere, had there been so few who picked Druidism as their awakening? Bullshit like the law of averages stated that she should've come across someone else in the Emerald Garden by now. Hell, there were a lot of people she knew who dabbled in Nature Magic. It truly was one of the most useful masteries available to players. There was so much one could do with a handful of dirt and some energy!

    But the solitude was okay with her. Being alone in the Emerald Garden gave Madison a chance to think, a chance to relax, a place where she could be by herself without a care in the goddamn world. She was still so new to all of this; and already she was so incredibly addicted to it.

    The purity.

    The power.

    Madison's sapphire eyes fluttered open, and she detached herself from the threads of mana she held on to. All around her, the briars began to recede into the soft, damp earth, pulling back from the forest that surrounded her.

    Breathe deeply.


    The plagueslinger stood up, stretching her muscles and letting out a yawn. How long had she been there, one with the Garden, stretching her thorny fingers throughout the landscape, tasting the power her awakening unlocked deep within her? Had to have been hours, at the very least. It amazed her how time passed within the confines of the endless forest. The minutes ticked by so quickly, and at the same time they dragged on.

    Maddy took a quick look around at her surroundings. Each acre of the forest was so incredibly unique; there was so much for her to explore.

    And so, she set out to do just that.
  3. Pulling a particularly large vine out of the way with her jaws Mizuki was finding her way through the more hostile part of the Emerald Garden, or at least the more hostile part in this part of it. She had no idea just how big this world was, although given that it was a world accessed in your dreams it could be literally endless, limited not by geography or physics. So far the place had been pretty consistent, but Mizuki was pretty sure it still was some kind of spiritual plane, which meant that the rules didn't have to be the same as for a physical realm.

    Regardless of how big the Emerald Garden really was, for now this was the most dangerous place Mizuki had found in it, or at least the most difficult to traverse. The thorns and vines were everywhere, blocking every path even as the ground itself was rocky and uneven, so a careless step could send you tumbling downwards over sharp rocks and deep falls. The wolf growled softly as she felt thorns threatening to dig into her fur and pierce her hide, trying to keep her body small as she squirmed her way through a gap between the vines.

    She could have used her powers as a druid to just open a path, but she felt like if she did that too often she'd become reliant on it, and while in the Garden it was a viable choice she didn't want to end up trying to treat Terrasphere as being just as malleable at a time where she couldn't afford to recover from her mistake. While this meant she had to endure the displeasure of being squeezed, stabbed and stung it wasn't anything she couldn't take, and beyond that it helped her become more comfortable with her wolf form as every time she bumped into something while inside the Garden it gave her mind another piece of data to help map out the sensation of being a wolf. She hadn't had much training with other animal forms yet, but she was becoming quite confident in her ability to move and act as a canine, as befitting of a Caenis druid.

    As she made her way further into the den of thorns Mizuki noticed that the vines had strangled the life out of numerous plants and animals, halting her own advance for a moment to sniff a corpse which was decaying amidst the deadly plants, pierced by thorns as it had tried to escape only to ensnare itself further until it could only have waited for death to come either through loss of blood, starvation or poison. She made a face and twitched her ears in discomfort before moving on, letting nature take its course. The animal was already dead, she couldn't save it and this way it'd serve as food for new life.

    It wasn't that Mizuki really was a kind of happy treehugger, being more primal in her approach to nature magic and druidism, but she still felt that as long as she was using the powers of nature she had to respect it, and not interfering when interference wouldn't even do any good was an important part of that.

    Pulling yet another vine aside Mizuki stepped into what appeared to be a small clearing amidst the overgrowth of stranglers and stabber, looking around and sniffing the area to memorize it. Whether it would still look like this next time was debatable, but the smell should linger. Although in the middle of her sniffing she froze as for the first time she smelled something she'd been looking for: there had been a human here. Which meant that she had found another druid.

    Pressing her nose closer to the ground Mizuki inhaled deeply through her nose, identifying the scent as best she could. Nobody she knew, but definitely someone involved with plants and dirt. And it was fresh, an hour or so old... better to track the druid down and postpone any further exploration until after. The land wasn't going to disappear, but there was no telling where this druid would head off to if Mizuki didn't approach them now. The wolf briefly wagged her tail before heading off, moving with more haste now she had a specific target, a quarry she had to track down as quickly as possible. While she still didn't completely clear the path she was putting some effort into pushing the vines and thorns away, making it easier for her to slip through as her nose told her that the scent was becoming stronger, and she was getting closer.

    It was when she'd already left the treacherous area behind that she finally found the person, a rather darkly dressed woman who seemed to be exploring the world just as Mizuki was, albeit in her human form. Mizuki stalked her silently for a couple of minutes, watching her explore, before finally approaching and speaking, @Madison Freebird suddenly receiving the Caenis's voice as if spoken with a human throat and vocal cords.

    You're the first druid I've come across. How long have you been able to enter this world?

    Not bothering to change back into her human form Mizuki waited for the woman to react, her heterochromatic eyes studying the other druid carefully from amidst the black and white fur.
  4. It didn't take long for her to push out of the more treacherous area of the Emerald Garden, choked as it was by tangles of briars. A flicker of thought and a wave of her hand, and the path cleared before her. The witch had always been closer attuned to the more dangerous aspects of nature; it made sense that what she could do in the real world, she could do in this mystical realm on the other side of the curtain. As long as she respected the Garden's wishes, it would respect her own.

    She produced a small leather-bound notebook from her inventory and opened it up to a dog-eared page. Scribbled in pencil was an ever-evolving map of this area of the Garden. A thick line snaked across the page, with a small drawing of a waterfall hovering over one bend. It was a landmark that Madison happened across on the third night after her awakening; and with her affinity towards bodies of water, she made a note to visit it again.

    "No better time than now," she said out loud to the infinite number of trees and beasts that wouldn't understand a thing she said anyway. And since she was asleep for the evening in Terra, she had all the time to spare anyway.

    Madison took her compass out of her inventory, tapped on the glass to wake it up, and tried to get her bearings. The needle spun around inside, pausing for brief moments before trying to figure out which way was north.

    The witch grunted softly and put it away. It made sense that the Emerald Garden didn't obey the laws of the real world--virtual real world, sorry. One of the many thing she would have to learn as an awakened druid is how to properly navigate this fantastical realm with just her wits and her spells.

    Perhaps a trip the library to look up stuff on natural navigation was in order. Maybe a For Dummies, if she could find this world's equivalent.

    Maddy never heard the beast approach, but she heard its voice loud and clear. The witch nearly jumped out of her skin at the interruption. Stifling an embarrassing squeak, she whipped around on her heels and found a wolf with black and white fur and two different-colored eyes staring at her inquisitively.

    It asked her how long she had been able to come to the Garden, and remarked that she was the first other druid it had seen here.

    The witch swallowed a small knot of adrenaline before speaking. "Really? The very first?"

    She had a hard time believing it. Had many people actually tried Nature Magic? Hands down and pound for pound the most useful magical mastery the game had to offer. The mission to kill Zeus, the battle against Titanius, the encounter with the horde of Dissonance-riddled creatures in The Fade. The only reason she survived any of those encounters without racking up a single Death Affliction was because of the art.

    If only less people messed around with fancy but ultimately lesser magics, like hydromancy and spirit magic and geomancy. Maybe then the Garden would have a few extra souls tending it at night.

    "That seems pretty weird," she continued as she found a large mossy rock to sit on. "I don't know much about this place, but I can only guess at its vastness. The couple times I've managed to find some high ground to get a good look, all I could see was an endless canopy that faded into the green mist that permeates this place."

    Madison caught herself rambling on, and smiled. "Sorry, where are my manners..." She raised a hand to her chest before continuing. "Name's Madison. I just awakened as a druid about a week ago. Been exploring this place every night since. What about you? You in Beast Form, or are talking animals the norm here?"
  5. It was curious to watch this new druid, the way she dealt with being in the Emerald Garden. Mizuki herself had quickly realized this was a place where she could fully indulge herself, forgetting about society and all its worries as she just acted like herself, freely changing her shape whenever she felt like it and moving through a world strongly attuned with her. Mizuki had never really thought of civilization as stifling, she wasn't one of those people who constantly wanted to get away from it all, but the freedom this place offered was nearly addicting, so she'd quickly gone feral.

    This woman on the other hand approached the dream world in a more civilized manner, the wolf watching the little notebook and the compass, as if the druid was an explorer trying to navigate her way through foreign territory. In a way that was true, but it still made Mizuki wonder if everyone would react like this druid would and Mizuki was just more eager than most to relish the freedom, or if this was the kind of person who carried her own piece of civilization with her wherever she went.

    Yes, surprisingly. I've yet to find any sign of this world having a limit to its size, so I think that druids who know each other have a way to find each other.

    Seeing that the woman was a bit startled by Mizuki's sudden arrival the wolf sat down, trying to make it clear that she had no hostile intent as she swished her tail idly behind herself and watched @Madison Freebird with a calm expression, or at least as calm as a wolf could look. As the other druid mentioned how weird it was Mizuki nodded, using one claw to draw a circle on the ground.

    I'm not too surprised that none of the other adventurers have managed to reach this place so far, but I had been expecting to see some of the world's native druids. The adventurers arrived too recently for many to have reached so deep into the art of druidism to attune themselves with this world, but the natives have had at least decades.

    Something players sometimes forgot was that while they were quickly becoming accustomed to their strength the people of this world had access to the same skills, even if they didn't have the convenient UI that players did and had to play more carefully since they only had one life.

    When Madison apologized for her manners Mizuki grinned, showing sharp fangs for a brief moment.

    I don't think in this place manners are very important, so don't worry about it.

    She then inclined her head to return the greeting, although given her current form she couldn't really put her paw on her chest without it looking awkward.

    I'm Mizuki. I've been coming here for quite a while now, so I've gotten a decent grasp on things even if I'm probably still a newcomer compared to most of the druids who can reach this place. And yes, I'm in my Beast Form. It feels more comfortable in this place.

    She looked off to the side, into the distance towards another piece of the forest hidden behind the trees, her eyes narrowing slightly before she shook her head.

    I've yet to encounter any talking creatures other than you, but combined with the absence of other druids I've got a theory about that... I think we're still in the outermost layer of the Garden, both being relatively new. I don't think direction works the same here as in the waking world, but so far what I've explored still looked a lot like something you could find in the waking world, even if it is unusually overgrown. There's plenty of magic in the atmosphere but it's still docile. Once we advance deeper we might begin seeing things which you would have a hard time seeing in the waking world, including creatures of a powerful magic nature and if we're lucky some of the older druids.

    Looking back down at the circle she'd drawn with her claw she then drew three lines through it with a sweep of her paw.

    But if I'm right and direction is not the same here walking isn't going to be the only thing needed to get deeper. This would be a lot easier if we were trained by an older druid instead of having made our way here on our own.
  6. Madison thought for a minute about what the wolf theorized--that the newer druids spawned in the "safer" areas of the Emerald Garden, much like newbies were unceremoniously dropped in Brisshal right after they crafted their Terrasphere avatars.

    "It would make sense," the dark druid said with a soft shrug of her shoulders. "But, honestly? While I've seen a lot of people take Nature Magic as one of their Masteries, I just don't think a lot of people are opting to awaken it once they level up high enough. Most people go after the cooler shit, like becoming fire incarnate, or donning Champion Armor, or necromancy."

    The latter was what the woman wanted when she originally picked out her suite of abilities. Black, Nature, and Astral. She was going to be the best little murderhobo cultist ever. But as she developed as not just a player character but as a person inhabiting a real, living world; things changed up a bit.

    "Their loss, really," she continued, a smirk creasing her features. "They still have to sleep. We get to explore and learn from a whole secondary plane of existence. It's practically twice the game!"

    She looked around her at the towering trees and scant traces of fauna skittering through the fog, her mind beginning to wander as she took it all in. There was something about the Garden that brought her a sort of inner peace. As much as she enjoyed Lucia's company and cherished the moments she spent in the kingdom of undead, as much as she loved her little handmade hovel on the western shores of Dunnstads, Madison felt like she could truly be herself in the Garden.

    Mostly because nobody else was around to criticize her, judge her, or tell her to stop doing whatever it was she was doing.

    It's like if you worship death, decay, and rebirth people suddenly look at you like you're some supervillain in training.

    Glancing at the wolf once more, the smile disappeared from her face. "I have a theory of my own. Now, I've only been here for less than a week and all; but I don't believe that there's a strict 'outer layer, inner layer' dynamic here. From the texts I've read, this realm is supposedly endless."

    With both hands splayed wide, she then motioned all around them. "And nature grows as thick or as thin as it's allowed to in any given area. I assume you followed me through that patch of briars before you made your presence known? Don't you think that'd be considered a more dangerous area than most?"

    Surely Mizuki saw all the dead animals, tangled in vines and shredded by thorns. Couldn't really miss them, honestly.

    But she did have to admit-- "It would've been nice to have someone experienced, be it a player or otherwise, greet us upon our awakening and spell all this shit out for us."

    To be perfectly fair, though; when she first awakened herself as a druid, Madison was approached by a forest spirit. The first thing the woman did was immediately ignore it and blow it off to tap into the infinite energy that coursed through the Garden and channel it back to Astorea to keep someone alive. And then she spooked away once the ritual was complete. When she next returned... nothing. It felt like she skipped the tutorial and can't find the menu to play it again.

    Curiosity was getting the best of the witch. Motioning towards Mizuki, she said, "So, that's your Beast Form? I was kind of curious. How did you obtain it? Is that the one you prefer? Or are you sorta' locked into the first one you pick? You got time to show me how it's done?"
  7. That's certainly true. There's a lot of things people can choose to be, and even those adventurers who have advanced far enough could easily have chosen something different.

    Mizuki hadn't really been certain how she wanted to advance her own skills, other than that she had to admit that it felt very comfortable to use her own body rather than relying on weapons, and that combining her own life with that of the world around her had a certain feeling to it as well. Her becoming a druid capable of changing her shape had as much been a case of it being necessary at the time as anything else, as she'd changed into a wolf when she really needed some additional speed and some sharp fangs.

    As @Madison Freebird mentioned how she considered those who took other paths to be cheating themselves Mizuki tilted her head, then nodded in agreement.

    I wouldn't tell others what to specialize in unless they asked for my advice, but the Emerald Garden is certainly worth becoming a druid for.

    Seeing that her companion was taking in the sights of the world around them once more Mizuki did the same, with one paw wiping out the stuff she'd been drawing in the dirt before her while explaining as she sniffed the air, swivelled her ears to catch the sounds, and took in the different colours of the world. She still had all the colours in her vision as a wolf that she possessed as a humanoid, but it still seemed like the wolf form helped push the importance of vision to the background and prioritize sound and smell. She could smell the rich earth, the plants around them, the odour that was the signature of Madison's body. She could hear the wind as it moved through the branches, the breathing of the two people in the little clearing. She could even if she focused hear Madison's heartbeat, steady and calm.

    It was a surreal experience, and a small part of her wondered how it worked even as the rest of her relaxed, the wolf's posture lowering a bit as she closed her eyes and placed her head against the ground, taking this short moment to completely unwind.

    Only to get caught off guard when Madison began to talk again. Opening her eyes she looked at the woman before closing them again, her ears twitching and pointing towards the woman to show that the wolf was listening even as she rested. Once Madison had finished talking Mizuki stretched, yawning and showing a full mouth of teeth before pushing herself back up into a sitting position.

    Given that we can ward those thorns away with a mere touch I'm not sure I'd call that dangerous. Dangerous for non-druids, yes, but I think the true danger lies deeper in the Garden, where there's creatures and plants with more than just a physical form. Magic, intelligence, things that could counteract or subvert our druidic powers. A guide would have been helpful, but I doubt the other awakened masteries come with one.

    While the Awakened form of nature magic seemed to take a more mystical approach than some masteries (from what she'd heard with most awakened masteries were just the player realizing they could stretch what they already knew further) she didn't think it was quite so special as to guarantee a guide, although she couldn't disagree with Maddy that it would have been nice.

    She was lifted out of her thoughts by more questions, these about her appearance as a wolf. Mizuki shook her head and quickly answered the questions, hoping to dispel any strange notions before they became too solid.

    This is my beast form yes, but there's no such thing as a single form you have to choose. This form is what I'm comfortable with so it's what I use most of the time. As for how I obtained it and how to teach you, well...

    Given that Maddy was a druid who'd already reached the Emerald Garden there was no reason not to help her figure this out as well, although the question was how good of a teacher Mizuki would be.

    I must admit that when I figured out how to do this it was in the heat of the moment, so I don't have anything like a complete guide. But if I had to explain...

    Mizuki turned back into her humanoid form, fur receding so most of her body was no longer covered while her form lengthened and changed shape. One of the side effects of Mizuki treating this dream world as a place to be free was that she hadn't bothered with clothes, so Madison got a full view. Mizuki herself didn't really seem to care or notice, as she was thinking about how to best explain.

    So, when you use your magic on the plants you can feel that they're more than just objects, right? They're alive, they're beings that you're shaping and growing even if they can't speak or think like we do. Using your magic you connect with nature. And this is like... reaching out both further and less so. Since you're shaping your own body you need to have very good understanding of your body, so you need to use your energy on yourself first so you gain that same understanding as you gain of the plants you use. I mostly use my magic to enhance myself, boosting my strength or my speed, so for me that was fairly easy.

    She held up a furred hand, sending some of her energy into the limb and letting it completely suffuse her arm before pulling it back in again.

    And then you... need to gain the same understanding of the animal you're trying to turn into. I've yet to try turning into something I hadn't encountered before. You need to make that understanding yours, perfectly recreate the essence of that animal inside of yourself. You could call it the spirit of the animal, the core essence. So to turn into a wolf you need to both understand what you are and what a wolf is. And then when you've got both you need to make them match, shape your own body like you've shaped the plants to make your body and essence match that of the animal. But a lot more intense, a lot... more? Thoroughly?

    She scratched the back of her head, looking a bit embarrassed.

    Sorry, as I said I did it on the fly without really thinking about it, and even now it's less a complicated techique and more me knowing what shape I need to be and how to make my body change into it. So for me it's more like...

    Closing her eyes she focused, feeling the energy that filled her entire body, the shape of her body and all its workings. She didn't need to send more energy into any body part, as her life force was in every cell and this didn't require an extra surge like a buff did. She just needed to shape what was already there. Feeling the predatory instinct of the wolf in her core she let that instinct into her mind and body at the same time, body and soul both responding without hesitation.

    From the outside Madison would first see something appear around Mizuki, an ethereal shape which quickly became detailed: as if from out of Mizuki the actual spirit of a wolf appeared, large and fierce. And then she got to see the same transformation as before, only in reverse: thick fur began to grow out of every part of Mizuki's exposed skin even as she became shorter, her mouth becoming more prominent as it slowly turned into a muzzle together with her nose. Placing her hands on the ground her fingers became shorter and fatter, turning into the toes of a paw while her chest flattened even as fur covered it. In the end Mizuki was back in her wolf form, opening her eyes even as the wolf spirit became one with her new body.

    The best I can say that you need to become one with that which you're trying to become, and for that to work you need to understand both yourself and the creature you're aiming for. It won't work if you're just trying to wear the form like clothes, you need to try to actually become something different, I think... You don't stop being you, you don't lose yourself, but you do change what you are. You can't just treat it as some outer shell you put on and cast off without it affecting you.
    Last edited: May 18, 2018 at 12:41 AM
  8. When Mizuki changed into her humanoid form, Madison quickly averted her eyes. The wolf druid apparently took the whole "one with nature" bit too seriously, and decided to wear the same amount of clothing as every other animal around.

    Thankfully, the plagueslinger had no shortage of other things to look at to take her eyes off the shameful display of bare flesh.

    I sincerely hope that it's a personal choice, she thought to herself. I'd hate to leave my tunic in the middle of nowhere when I transform and switch back in the buff too.

    She listened intently as Mizuki spoke, soaking in every word her fellow druid said while focusing her gaze on a rather fetching blue orchid flower. There was a lot of hypothesizing, a lot of hesitation in the caenis's voice, and a lot of talk about understanding animals and inner spirits and stuff. It almost sounded to the woman like Mizuki didn't know the hows or whys; that she just did and let that be enough for her.

    It was okay. If Mizuki didn't want to admit that she did her transformations under Assist Mode, it was alright. Maddy wouldn't judge.

    But, she felt that doing it in Manual was the only way she was going to learn to slip into an animalistic form quick enough to be useful, rather than plodding around in her UI menus while danger bore down on her in a hurry.

    "Okay," the witch said with a curt nod. "Core essence, understand the animal. Feel its spirit inside of you. Let it become one with you."

    She rubbed her hands together and huffed. She rolled her weight around on her ankles before sitting on the cold, damp earth. Resting her hands on her knees, Madison closed her eyes.

    "Understand the animal," she repeated, her voice soft like a whisper. "Feel its spirit inside of you. Let it become one with you."

    Madison took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled. Her mind's eye opened up to see the dense green fog that choked the Emerald Garden. But--she didn't see anything else. No trees, no flowers, no rocks, no rivers, no life.

    The witch took another deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart.

    Breathe in.

    Find your center.

    Find your spirit animal.

    Harness its essence.

    Become one with it.

    Breathe out.

    Suddenly, something stirred in the mist. Before the witch, a pair of glowing eyes cracked open. Small, but piercing. Burning with the fires of desire and vengeance. Madison reached out with her mind, grabbing hold of the creature.

    As she did, she felt her body twitch and cry out in pain. It screamed at her to let go--but she refused. She held onto the animal's spirit, her grip tightening around it as she tried to pull it into herself. Her muscles ached and burned as her physical form reshaped itself into something completely foreign.

    And before she knew it, the pain was gone.

    Everything felt... weird. Wasn't the best word to describe all these new sensations, but it would have to do. Slowly she opened her eyes. Everything seemed so much... bigger. Slightly out of focus. A touch off-color. Mizuki, back in wolf form, towered over her, her face devoid of any readable emotion.

    Madison opened her mouth to speak, but as her tongue flicked out she could taste the world around her. Mizuki's unique chemical scent, as well as those of any nearby wildlife. The shock of the onslaught of distinct odors caused her to immediately draw her tongue back into her mouth.

    Her head whipped around, eyes darting all over the place, trying desperately to make sense of this new form. "What the ffffuuuuuuck--" but her voice was tinny and foreign. She immediately shut up, embarrassed at the high-pitched noise that came from her throat.

    What the hell did I turn into? What is going on here?

    The druid could've kicked herself for realizing that she should've looked at herself first. Twisting around, she laid eyes on her new form. It was long, like a rope. Green scales, with the occasional patches of brown and tan. She wanted to reach up and feel her face, but suddenly discovered that she now lacked the ability to reach for much of anything at all.

    It was then that everything fell into place.


    Spirit animal.

    Madison had transformed into what could be classified on the Internet as a Danger Noodle.

    "A bit on the nosssssse, isssn't it," the druid hissed.
  9. Once she had explained it as best as she could Mizuki watched @Madison Freebird try it for herself, the two heterochromatic eyes seizing the other druidess up carefully and patiently. She wasn't sure how it'd work out, since as she had already mentioned for her it wasn't really something she really thought about, at least not in the way of some complicated technique. If you could shape your body then you could shape your body, it wasn't like casting some spell where you had to remember which words to chants and which gestures to make.

    Since you've got the time I suggest taking it easy. There'll probably be a lot of confusion the first time you do it so it's more important to not panic.

    After all, taking on an entirely new body wasn't something that most people would take to without needing at least some time to adjust. Even if you managed to pull the transformation off without a hitch you were still dealing with a different skeleton, different nerves, different muscles... you might even have a different amount of limbs depending on what you decided to turn into.

    Her tail slowly went from side to side behind her as she waited, until she noticed a change in Madison at which point she immediately went on alert. While the transformation was slower than her own it also looked like it wasn't going very smoothly, Mizuki becoming worried as it looked like Madison was having trouble abandoning her human form and taking on another. She couldn't do much aside from maybe knock Madison out if it looked like it was getting out of hand, but she'd rather just watch and see the other druidess complete her attempt. If she had trouble shapeshifting she had to get that out of the way as quickly as possible.

    She let out a relieved sigh when it looked like her interference wasn't needed and Madison finished changing her shape, the wolf staring down at the snakelike form with raised eyebrows even in her lupine form. She had to admit that turning into snake hadn't occurred to her yet, but now that she'd seen it done she was actually curious what it would be like to have such a long body but no limbs.

    Are you all right? The first change might have been a bit disorienting. As for it being on the nose, well... It's you who thought of a snake, wasn't it?

    She lowered her head and carefully sniffed Madison, taking in the somewhat oily scent of the snake before lifting her head once more. She looked distracted insofar as a wolf could look distracted, glancing into the distance and back at Madison.

    But I must admit the snake is an interesting idea... I've tried being a bird before and figuring out how to fly was a challenge, but I wonder what it'd be like to have no limbs... Give me a moment.

    Around Mizuki the ethereal shape reappeared, but this time it was long and coiled. The spirit of a snake surrounded the wolf even as fur began to recede, flatten, combine into numerous scales. Now that Mizuki wasn't explaining while giving an example of how to transform she changed shape a lot faster and smoother, her body lengthening even as it thinned, her legs receding into her body while her ears flattened until only holes were left. Within mere seconds the wolf had turned into a black and white snake, lifting its head off of the ground and flicking its tongue out to taste the air before returning its focus to Madison.

    Thiss iss... certainly different.

    Uncurling herself from her coiled up position Mizuki inspected her own new body, hissing as she experimentally moved her tail and then her middle, finishing up by making a full circle before turning back around to Madison.

    Thisss will take ssome getting ussed to. Not having any legssss isss sstrange issn't it?
  10. "Yeah, it isss pretty ssstrange," she had to admit. In her snakeform, Madison found that her sense of smell was incredibly heightened. The glut of information almost overloaded her brain every time she flicked her tongue out into the misty air of the Garden. What interested her the most was that, in addition to the regular five senses, she now had access to a sixth--when she focused on a couple flashes in the back of her mind, she discovered that she could "see" the body heat coming off Mizuki. Granted, being cold-blooded, she couldn't distinguish her fellow druid from their surroundings very well, but the aura was definitely there.

    Madison slithered around in the grass, trying to get a feel for her chosen body. The movements were difficult at first; her immediate instinct was to travel in a straight light. But once she wrapped her head around the notion of moving from side to side, the plagueslinger found movement came pretty naturally.

    She quietly hoped that she'd be able to adapt to other animal forms as quick.

    Perching herself on top of a moss-covered rock and coiling her slender body, Madison glanced down at Mizuki. "So, I'm guessing that since you were able to turn into a snake, we have access to more than one form. That's good to know."

    Something for every situation she found herself in--could be incredibly useful. She'd just have to figure out how many she could have in her repertoire, and what constituted a beast. Because as awesome as it would be to take the form of a freakin' dragon; she'd probably have to dump her next ten thousand MP into the awakened mastery. That, and dragons might count as monsters, which would mean she couldn't do it in the first place.

    But Mizuki mentioned turning into a bird once. This was something that greatly interested the briar witch. She could save so much time and money on travel now--why shell out hard-earned gold to a caravan to cart her ass around everywhere and take days to get to Lucia's domain in Astorea when she could transform into a crow and make the trip in a single afternoon?

    The woman wanted to try it immediately. Madison closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She could see the essence of the viper she held onto. Exhaling, she released it, and suddenly found herself spinning back into her human body. The transformation didn't last long, as she quickly reached out for another spirit to latch onto.

    In a burst of black feathers, Madison soon found her body being crammed into another tiny form. When she opened her eyes again, the druidess looked around the forest once more, her head movements twitchy and jerky as she grew accustomed to the awkward movements of her new body.

    Madison opened her mouth to speak, but the only noise that came out was the distinct caw! of a raven. She immediately went to cover her beak in shame and surprise, but found that her new wings would not stretch like that.

    She looked around for Mizuki, still in her own snakeform. Spotting the druidess in the grass, Madison shook her feathers in excitement. "This is so fucking sweet!"
  11. With @Madison Freebird busy exploring her new form Mizuki also took her time, exploring her senses one by one to figure out what to focus on and what to put at a low priority. Her hearing in this form wasn't exactly amazing: while she could understand Madison without issues that was because druids in animal forms without vocal cords projected their voice to those they were talking to. All the sounds around her felt dampened... somewhat disturbing, since she'd become used to having sharp ears.

    Her eyes were somewhat predictably not that fantastic, and beyond quality the colours were also faded. That and since she was now a snake she had to look at everything from below, so her line of sight was limited. However her sense of touch was amazing: she could feel every part of the ground she was lying on as if she was touching it with her fingers, and while she'd gotten a hold of it while trying out moving her body it was still surprising just how dull her normal body felt with the sensitivity of this serpentine form.

    Then there was smell, which was both amazing and not great. Smelling through her nose gave her almost nothing of use, everything faint and combining so she couldn't make heads or tails of the information. However when she stuck out her tongue and retracted it... Suddenly a flood of information, so sharp and distinctive that even her wolf form didn't seem to quite match it. Since she had plenty of experience with a sharp sense of smell she didn't have much trouble figuring out how to adapt to it, but it was still surprising how sharp the snake's sense of smell was. Although she'd apparently have to rely on her tongue to experience it.

    Then there was the new sense, one which she had absolutely zero experience with. She'd heard of it of course, that snakes could sense heat. However closing her eyes and closing her mouth so limit her sensory input, and then seeing the world in a swirl of colours as her mind translated the input of her pit organs into something she could understand and use. She'd need some training to use this as naturally as her other senses, but she could already see how this would be useful.

    With her sensory inspection over Mizuki looked back at Madison, who in the meantime had relocated herself on top of a nearby rock (which looked a lot bigger now that she herself was so low to the ground).

    Of courssse. Unlike Beasst Tamersss our power doess not come from a sspecific bond. Even if we need to undersstand the sspirit of what we turn into, that isss becausse you can't become that what you don't undersstand, not becaussse we form a sspecial connection.

    Mizuki was aware she wasn't a good teacher, especially since she had to explain something she did by feel. When she had been talking about the spirit of the animal she hadn't meant a literal spirit animal, and only now did she realize that might have come out in the wrong way.

    Although of coursse sssome formss are eassier than otherss, both for individualss and in general. Ssomething like a wolf iss easssy becausse a wolf issn't that much different from a human, in the end.

    Seeing that Madison was busy trying something else out Mizuki decided that she'd explore her snake form a bit more. While she didn't think she'd stick with this for very long it was certainly interesting to try and move about without having any limbs other than her tail. Weaving her way through the grass she headed for the nearest tree, looking back around as Madison shot back into her human form rather suddenly. She trusted the other druid enough now that she'd managed to successfully complete her first transformation to let her experiment for herself, Mizuki instead tackling the challenge of climbing a tree as a snake.

    The most obvious answer to her was to just wrap herself around the trunk and hold herself steady with the lower half of her body while the upper half moved upwards. It'd be pretty tricky, but with practice it should be something she could do as easily as climbing rope in P.E. back in school, holding the rope with your legs while reaching further upwards with your hands.

    Reaching upwards Mizuki began the climb, wrapping herself around the tree several times and tightening her hold with her lower body while going further with her upper body, for the moment ignoring everything else as she focused on the sensations of moving her new body. She only stopped when she reached a large branch, at which point she wrapped herself around the branch once and then looked back down at Madison, only to see that the woman had turned into a black bird.

    You're catching on quickly. And yesss, being able to fly iss very usseful. Although I sshould warn you that flying itssself can take some practice, at leasst if you want to usse it well enough for traveling long dissstancesss.