19. No Control (part 2)

          The transformation was unbearable. If one could multiply the irritation of the a single growth pain that one feels as a child by one thousand, it would not amount to what the captain felt. Every bone in his body was enlarged, his skull refigured, and a tail sprouted from his lower back. His teeth grew longer and sharper, hair bristled from every place imaginable, and the each of the nails on his hand and feet stretched out, thickened, and came to a point. The worst part, however, was when he glanced in a mirror hanging on the wall, taking in his new physique. If he'd had control over his own body right then, his heart would have stopped. He was his worst nightmare ─ a bear, a petrifying, bloodthirsty bear.

          No. He had to remind himself, this wasn’t him. It might be his body, but it wasn’t him. He was a damsel’s hero, a crewman’s best friend. He was lord of his ship and his men. He was mighty with a sword and clever with a claw. He was fearless in battle, with the strength of ten men. He cared for the needy and was a generous giver. He could do anything he set his mind to do. He was the exuberant Captain Levi Spry, not some magical werebear!

          Rising in spirits, Levi’s thoughts cleared. He could figure this out, all he had to do was think. The last thing I remember before any of this... I was exasperated, fuming over... that prince guy that Hataru met back on the mountains. I was upset, irritated by the way he'd treated her, disturbed by the light in her eyes when she spoke about him after he had already run off, chaising after a knife. And then... the pain and the dream like trances and more pain and now this. Could it have been my rage that had triggered it all? Why hasn't this happened to me before? Did I touch something I shouldn't have up in Morawa's treasure cave, and now I'm cursed? And what was with the two women I saw?

          Recalling the visions of the two girls, an idea came to him. Though they each had a different experience, both women had something in common ─ the way the beast felt about them. He remembered the blend of intense rage and unexpected awe that the monster gave off. The one who was killed, he thought, displayed only foreboding, while the other bravely looked past the grotesque animal. It seemed to be her kiss that destroyed the beast, releasing... who? If I can assume that the relationship between the princess and... myself that caused the transformation, then could it be that the second woman and the host of the monster were lovers? This leads to the question, what do the other two hosts and I have in common? Might we all be relatives that share an inherited family curse? Or could it be that ─ wait, he stopped himself. The details of what caused this hex are irrelevant. I must focus on how to break it! Moving on, it is quite likely that the woman and the host were lovers, and the same can be assumed for the first lass as well. One was killed, the other saved by a kiss that made the beast disappear... Ah! So if it is the girl’s kiss that extricated the man locked within his own body, then that means... oh. Oh, my. Levi mentally blushed at his realization. Hataru would have to kiss him to set him free.

The End

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