Fear and Ignorance

by Stealthcat

The city of Midtown had its share of lowlifes. Most were petty but there was the occasional exception, like assassins, professional burglars and the old master who’d manage to turn a bunch of hack thugs into a proper and well organised Thieves Guild.

Koss was scouting out the streets for a lead to recent attacks in the valley. As the lutin hoards dried up in the north they seemed to be replaced by human bandits in the south. They were well organised and always managed to slip away to the south before the cavalry could arrive to apprehend them.

The gender morphed keeper wore a basic dress for cover, which she despised having to do, and searched for any clue without much hope but the investigation had only recently begun and Midtown was the first place to at least spare a cursory search.

She was no spy and not in the watch but she was in the employ of the Metamor guard. Rumours had been spreading of a snitch within the Keep’s guard. Against advice and due to the shame of a potential scandal the Metamor Guard did it’s own investigation and Koss was one of the few soldiers DeMule trusted enough to conduct it. Of course the operation wasn’t the best planed out and the recent bandit attacks were highly unlikely to be linked to any corruption within the Guard but if there was the chance of a connection they would follow it, if anything for PR.

As a Metamorian she made comparisons with the valley’s towns but the only real difference of course was the fact that no one here had any ‘accessories’. It also meant none of the structures had been modified for people significantly smaller or larger in stature. She’d already hopped several bars and inns looking for leads, each one more rancid then the last. Some inns served as brothels and others offered gambling. None had decent service or sanitation.

After searching the narrow streets and alleyways for useless clues Koss entered another and likely the last tight alleyway for the night. She soon found herself at a fork. From the path she’d taken and one of the parting alleys several large men approached. Instinctively she went down the third passage but that path too was blocked off by more men appearing from down the bend.

The woman cringed and broke a small pebble in her hand which flickered with a faint glow too small to notice in the dark alleyway.

“What are you doing in this dark alley at night, love?” One of them asked.

Without saying a word she grabbed the closest one and threw him into the one opposite. Koss kicked and punched and shoved, making a good number of the men bloodied in one way or another but there were just too many of them and they dragged her away, down a stairway into a dark cellar.

She cursed and shouted, flailed and fought but there were just too many of them and they continued gradually dragging her deeper and deeper into the cellar.

While the biggest ones held her down the others unceremoniously cut her clothes with their daggers and tore away the fabric from her lower quarters. They pulled her limbs far apart as their sordid leader began working on the belt for his pantaloons.

“But I’m from Metamor! I used to be a man!!!” She spluttered in terror.

“You’re a keeper?” The leader asked in surprise, “Make your tits real big then.”

Koss flinched at the audacity and callousness of these men. Then an idea struck her.

“Hey, don’t you know what happens when you have sex with a keeper? You get their curse!”

The man paused in removing his gritty pantaloons, “No you don’t.”

“No it’s true, think about it.” She implored, “What happens when someone beds a werewolf? They contract the curse of lycanthropy. If you do this you’ll become a woman!”

“...No! No way!” He insisted but halted working his pants.

“Do it then!” She shouted daringly, “Better have fun cause when you stick your thing in it’s not going to come back out.”

The man shivered and clutched his loins as if he’d already been neutered. “You... you god damn wretch!” He shouted and pulled his pants back up fully. “I’m still gonna have fun with you, lots of fun.” He said and picked up an iron bar, beating it in his palm menacingly.

‘Oh shit...’ she thought and pondered more mind games.

“Which arm is your strong arm?” He asked, mocking strikes, “That’s right, you don’t have any strength, slut.”

“My, what a small rod you have, and I don’t mean the one in your hands...” She said defiantly.

The thug snarled and prepared to swing the lead pipe around with the intent of knocking out the woman’s teeth when a tremor stoped him.

Some dust fell from the rafters as the wall trembled. It was brief but then it trembled again and again and cracks began to emerge between the bricks. The ancient wall eventually crumbled away in a tumbling pile of debris and a cloud of dust.

“Unsheathe your swords, it’s the pigs!” The leader called out as he choked.

“Wrong animal.” Koss grinned, “Dead wrong...”

Through the dust cloud a mammoth paw swung and felled two thugs. The hole became a little bigger as a grizzly bear forced its way into the room. The two young men holding down the keeper cut and ran but the bear was on them with surprising speed. The animal continued to swing it’s paws about, striking with intense power and ferocity. Flesh ripped from the claws, bones broke under the force.

Koss stood up and watched with a kind of satisfaction at the sight. The bear didn’t kill anyone but many of them would need months to recover, if they’re lucky. Looking at the one who’d almost raped her she knew he would carry the injuries for life... fortunately for him they’re only physical injuries...

The gender morph walked up to the ursine and gave him a kiss on the cheek, “Thank you Fabius. Do you have any clothes to spare?”

The mighty bear shrank and took on a more human appearance, “Right outside the... opening here. I’ll make do with full form.”

Koss entered the next room and found a neat pile of folded clothes. She put them on, amused at the size difference. It was like wearing a blanket.

When she returned the keeper could see her friend going over the bloodied gang members with an expression somewhere between disgust and regret.

“Are you okay?” She asked gently, “Did they cut you?”

“Nay, nay, are YOU okay? Did they do anything?” He asked worried, wondering if he arrived in time.

“I’m fine, I made him think the curse is contagious.”

The ursine laughed, “I’m not surprised. These people aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.”

“No but they are tools.” She laughed.

“Well, let’s go before the watch shows up.” Fabius suggested, “Follow me, I made a path.”

“I can see that!” Koss answered, following the bear out through the hole. Fabius soon shifted back and made good use of his night vision navigating through the cellars and later the streets until they made their way back to the safety of the outskirts.