Benedi, the Place of Healing
By Wolf-Prince-Leon and Kit-The-Wolfy
The paradise was beautiful. Lovely trees, a serene river and lake, majestic mountains. The sounds of the wind blowing, birds chirping, water flowing- they echoed through the miniature world. The feeling of the wind, the gentle warmth of the sun, the ground below, it all felt so good. Inhaling, perhaps one would catch the scent of flowers, of spring, of Life itself. And in the middle of it all, she stood, accompanied by her companion.
"Benedi is finally finished," she mused. "Now, it's time to get to work... you sure I should wait on these kids in the barn?"
"If you wish," her companion said. "There are a handful of children suffering on Earth now, thanks to the Black Djinn and those other horrible people. You must rescue them."
"...Is that boy... among them?" she asked, looking concerned.
Her companion nodded his pale face grim.
"...Mortimer, you and the other Concepts each rescue a child. I'll do the rest of the rescuing on my own," she said determinedly.
"As you wish, Kiara," Mortimer replied. He sighed and ran his fingers through his dark hair. "Can you round Cygnus and Tobias up?"
Kiara let out a loud whistle. Almost immediately, two others appeared- a small boy with brown hair, and a tall fellow of unclear gender with white hair.
Kiara nodded, looking at all three of them. "Tobias, Cygnus, Mortimer, let's get rescuing."
Rain, thunder, lightning. Leon's lungs felt like they were on fire as he ran through the forest, terrified out of his mind. Branches and thorns whipped at his body, leaving brilliant crimson lines of blood where they had struck. The cold, bitter rain stung as it seeped into his wounds. Leon kept on running, not caring, just wanting to escape. However, the poor boy slowed to a stop as he grew tired.
"Need... shelter..." he panted. Taking a quick look around, Leon spotted an empty hollow at the base of a tree, the perfect size to shelter him. Slowly, painstakingly, he dragged his battered, broken body over to the hollow, where he finally sat down and whined in pain, tears in his eyes.
Leon then just sat there, looking at his body. His skin was completely covered up by ragged, coarse, dark grey fur. His new tail tucked between his hind paws, his front paws shivering from the cold and in fear. His canine ears pointed down.
Just this morning, Leon had woken up as a happy ten-year-old with a great life. He had nice parents, great friends, all A's in school... and now, thanks to an evil, cruel demon who was just bored and wanted to 'have fun', he was a wolf, bleeding, bruised, soaked, and despairing of ever having a normal life ever again. How long would it be before his human mind was subsumed by the wolf in him? He had read stories of this vein: the poor, innocent victim becomes an animal, losing their humanity bit by bit, until they're nothing more than a snarling, slavering beast.
Leon shivered, scared at the thought. However, his canine instincts seemed to kick in already, urging him to rest and sleep. He was so tired, he felt like he could just sleep forever... that didn't sound like a bad idea, actually. To drown in his dreams, never to awake again... never to worry again... The young canine laid his head down, closed his eyes, and relaxed. His mind drifted into a dream. He was unaware of the girl that approached the hollow, dressed in the pure white of a picture-book bride. Gently, she knelt down, and stroked Leon's head with a dark-skinned hand.
"That's it," she murmured. "Sleep, little one, and you'll awake in a safe haven. I promise."
"Get in there, you little mutt!"
Mike was forced into a small cage, tied up tight, and gagged. He struggled against his bonds, whimpering in pain.
"Ha! Another little puppy to sell as a pet. I'll be rich!" the wicked man who had done this to Mike sniggered to himself, rubbing his fingers together as though he was fondling a coin. Poor little Mike had been kidnapped from the orphanage, and turned into a helpless wolf puppy by this madman.
The rotund owner of the pound cackled to himself, imagining the amount of money he'd be getting for doing this. Sure, he knew that what he was doing was wrong- illegal, even- but ethics be damned! He was going to be rich!
However, his gloating was interrupted by someone coming into the pound... someone holding a very large, cast-iron frying pan.
"Huh? Who are you..?" the pound owner asked. The person, a girl in a flowing white robe, advanced. The pound owner backed away, suddenly frightened, until he was cowering in a corner "W-wait, what are you doing?! G-Get that frying pan away from-"
The guy slumped to the ground, out cold, and the girl in white approached Mike's cage, taking care to set the frying pan aside.
"Are you alright?" she asked Mike, her tone gentle.
Mike was whimpering, struggling with the ropes that bound him, unable to even bark.
"...evidently not." The girl sighed and got to work dismantling the cage and Mike's bonds. The door of the cage was ripped off its hinges, and Mike was extracted, after which the girl picked him up and began removing the rope. Piece by piece, the wicked tool was unwound from Mike's body, until at long last, he was free.
Mike was so overjoyed to be untied; he jumped up and licked the girl. She chuckled and held him close to her.
"Let's get you somewhere safe." She carried Mike off, still cuddling him. Mike smiled as she held him.
Nicky watched as Mia argued with another girl over a dress.
"I saw it first! Let Go!" Mia shouted.
"Yes, I took it before you, seeing doesn't count!" the other girl replied.
"Um... there's no need to argue." The store clerk said, "Look, we have that dress in Blue too." She showed them said dress.
"I WANT IT IN RED!" both girls shouted.
Nicky cringed. Bad enough he was a wolf, kidnapped, transformed, and sold to Mia- why did Mia have to be a completely fashion obsessed scene-maker? And for that matter, why was he a wolf in the first place? Did that pound keeper know nothing about basic zoology? Wolves were wild animals, not pets!
"...Girls," a voice said softly, "If you keep pulling like that, you're going to-"
"Rip the dress and ruin it."
Mia and her rival did an about-face, as did Nicky. Standing right behind the boy-turned-wolf was a twelve-year-old boy with dark hair, wearing a strange, black and white cloak. His pale blue eyes regarded the situation as though it was a funny scene on a TV show, and his mouth was turned up in a small smile.
"You two are in a bit of a fix, no?" he chuckled. "That dress was about a hundred and forty-five dollars... which you now owe the store."
Mia and her rival looked at one another, obviously frightened.
"...I'll cover the cost on one condition, though," the dark-haired boy said cheerfully.
"And that would be?"
"I want your dog." The boy's smile grew wider.
"DEAL!" Mia said immediately, picking Nicky up and thrusting him into the dark-haired boy's hands. Nicky gave Mia a filthy glare.
"Don't worry, I'm here to help you," the boy whispered to Nicky. Nicky looked up at him with surprise.
"Just trust me," the boy said, leaving a $200 on the counter, as the two left.
Nicky sighed. He was in for it, wasn't he?
"See, Fluffy? It's not that bad," the little girl said cheerfully, tying yet another bow to Tommy's ears. Tommy groaned to himself, making another attempt to escape the ridiculously frilly dress he was trapped in.
Being the pet of a little girl was a soul-rendingly depressing experience.
"Fluffy? Really?" the girl's father asked with a sigh. "You should let her out of that dress, she seems uncomfortable."
"...Dad? That's not like you..." the girl said, noting that there was something off about her dad.
"I... had a long day at work."
"...okay..." The girl let Tommy out of the repulsive dress and bows.
"I'll go and feed the little cat," the father said, picking up Tommy and carrying him off. When they were out of the girl's sight, he smiled down at the poor boy-turned-cat.
"I'll save you, little guy, don't worry," he whispered. "First, a little... double." He tapped Tommy on the nose, and instantly, another cat, looking just like Tommy, appeared... except this one was female. "She won't suspect a thing."
Tommy looked at the "dad" curiously. As if reading his mind, the man chuckled.
"You got me; I'm not actually her dad. Her dad's just woken up from a nap, AND he's unaware of the girl bringing you home. Let's watch the fun." "Dad" and Tommy disappeared from view as the real father came into the room. For a second, he stared at the real cat, unbelieving.
"What the... a cat? Amy!" he shouted. "ANOTHER PET!? Come ON! The house is full already! I'm TRIPPING over them! THERE ARE PETS EVERYWHERE!"
The shouting continued for some time, but by then, the fake dad and Tommy were completely gone.
"C'mon, Haru, what's the holdup?" a girl shouted, tugging on a leash. Haru, her former classmate and now her pet husky, strained at the leash, trying to get away from her. The girl frowned and tapped her foot. "Come on, you little mutt! Hurry up, or my dad's gonna make you a girl!"
Haru immediately ceased his attempts to get free of the leash. Bad enough that this crazy girl's dad had made him a dog, he didn't want to get changed even MORE.
"HALT!" a voice said. Soon a young boy stood in front of the two, tapping his foot and glaring at the girl. "You, young lady, are in serious trouble!" he warned.
"And you are?
"Tobias Kaze, from the Junior Police Squad, You're under arrest for Pet abuse."
"A kiddy cop?" The girl crossed her arms, not letting go of Haru's leash, to his dismay. "Yeah, right! You can't make arrests, stupid!"
"Then How about a REAL cop, girly?" An adult voice said from behind the girl. She stood stock-still.
A REAL cop was standing right behind the girl. "You're under official arrest for pet abuse! Junior Officer Kaze provided us with the details."
The cop took the leash away, giving it to Tobias and handcuffing the girl. "Tobias, get that dog to a better home. I'll handle this criminal."
Tobias nodded. "On it, sir." He smiled down at Haru. "Don't be afraid, buddy. I'm here to help."
The words were spoken so warmly, Haru couldn't help but trust Tobias. A wise choice.
Marcus flinched as he felt the whip hit his back again.
"Get to work! Those crates aren't gonna carry themselves!" his new "master", Kenson, ordered angrily. Marcus whined quietly and walked onward, dragging the wagon full of crates behind him.
Marcus let out a bray of pain as the whip descended, and he collapsed to the ground, unable to move on.
"Kenson! Stop!" Said a young boy- Marcus's little brother Jacob.
Kenson glared down at Jacob, his ascetic face contorted into a scowl. "Go inside and play, brat. I'm working here."
"No! I won't!" Jacob unstrapped Marcus from the wagon. "You leave this poor donkey alone, you jerk!"
For a second, Kenson contemplated turning Jacob into a cow, like how he'd made Marcus a donkey. However, he soon dropped the idea- it would only make their father, the owner of the farm Kenson was currently working on, even more upset, and he'd never get his pay.
"KENSON!" an adult voice shouted. "Wait for a minute... I need that donkey!"
Kenson stopped, recognizing the voice as that of his boss, Mr. Whistler.
"The donkey's been bought, by this girl." Mr. Whistler, a balding man somewhere in his fifties, came into view, accompanied by the same girl who had freed Mike and Leon.
Kenson frowned. "But sir... what animal will pull the cargo?"
"No Animals, Kenson. You will," Mr. Whistler said sternly.
"But... sir..." Kenson argued.
"No cuts, no buts, no coconuts." Mr. Whistler gave Marcus to the girl.
"Thank you, sir," the girl said with a smile. "Follow me, little donkey. I'm gonna take you somewhere nice." She turned around, her white robe whipping in the wind. "Oh, and by the way, Mr. Whistler... keep little Jacob away from Kenson. Trust me."
"Jacob, come here!" Mr. Whistler ordered. His son obeyed, walking away from Kenson.
"...You'll pay for this, girl!" Kenson threatened.
"Shove it up your blowhole, Kenson," the girl said rudely.
Josh moaned quietly, a sound of absolute despair. How long had he been locked up here? Did his wife and his two boys even remember him? He sighed to himself and decided to listen to what was going on in the adoption center.
"Hey, welcome to the animal adoption center. May I help you?" a clerk asked a customer.
"I didn't know it was legal to adopt coyotes, sir," the customer said.
"Oh, him? Actually, he's part of a rehabilitation program we're implementing. We found him injured in the forest, and took him in for treatment."
Josh, overhearing, sighed and nodded to himself. The clerk was right- he had been found in the forest after his transformation. Thankfully, he was being treated well, save for the cage, though it was probably for safety reasons. Still, though, Josh wished he could have bitten the demon who had transformed him.
"Um... sir... May I take that coyote to a sanctuary that specializes in wild canines?" the customer asked. "No offense meant, but you guys here don't really seem qualified to open up a rehabilitation program... after all, you're putting a wild dog in a pound with domesticated dogs..."
For a second, the clerk looked hurt, but he realized that the customer was right. "...Understood. Here's his cage key."
Josh was amazed to hear this. He lifted his head off the floor; ears perked, as the customer came over to him with the key, and unlocked the door. He happily came out and nuzzled the girl... but, to his dismay, was collared. The poor man looked up at the girl who had freed him wish an expression that seemed to say "why?"
"It's temporary," the girl said. "Now, how about I take you to my own special sanctuary, little guy? I promise you'll like it."
The Coyote nodded. He let her lead him away.
"Oh, and by the way..." the girl added, as an afterthought.”My name's Kiara."
Several hours later, Kiara was back in Benedi with Mortimer, Tobias, and Cygnus.
"How'd it go, guys?" she asked.
"I rescued a cat boy," Cygnus said. "Disguised myself as his dad." He... or she, whichever... chuckled.
"I managed to help a poor boy who had become a wolf," Mortimer added. "I hope we can help him out."
"I saved a husky boy!" Tobias said cheerfully. "It was super cool!"
Kiara smiled. "Lovely," she said. "I'm going to help out the first wolf boy, alright?"
"Okay!" Tobias cheered. "Good luck, buddy!"
"Thanks, Toby." Kiara turned away from the trio and walked through the beautiful world they'd created, with a destination in mind. Soon, she arrived at that destination: a majestic, if slightly small, two-story house, designed with an English Renaissance theme. Pausing for a moment to marvel at her creation, she entered and walked down the hallway, admiring its design. Dotting the hallway were a series of doors, each with a name on a plaque. Soon she came to a door with a plaque saying "Leon". With a small smile, the strange girl walked inside.
The room was made from the boy's memories- a toy box, a small closet with clothes, a desk and computer, and of course the bed, in which a little grey wolf was sleeping, his cuts and injuries staining the blanket red.
"Hmm... bandages." Kiara snapped her fingers, and a roll of bandages appeared in her hand. Gently, she uncovered Leon and wrapped the bandage around the injured areas, covering up the wounds. She'd cleaned the wounds some time before and used magic to prevent them from being infected, so she was certain Leon would be okay.
"Now for the fun part," Kiara chuckled to herself. The mage focused her magic into the boy's body. "From feral to Anthro." She said, as she lightly tapped his nose. A soft blue light surrounded Leon, and he began to change. His proportions started the process, body growing bigger and limbs cracking into new positions. The boy whined in his sleep. His front paws started to morph and shift, returning to their proper form as hands, though still coated in wolf fur. Speaking of that fur, even it started changing- the fur turned lighter in color, and became softer, to comfort the boy more. Leon's whining was replaced by a short, soft giggle. His eyes fluttered a bit, revealing to Kiara that the yellow color they'd taken on while Leon was full wolf had been replaced by their original sapphire blue.
Soon, Leon was an anthropomorphic wolf, a cross between his original form and his wolf form. Kiara patted him on the head and ruffled his brown hair, which had returned during his change, and left, closing the door behind her.
A few minutes passed, and soon, Leon awoke.
"Uhhh.... what a night...." he moaned to himself, sitting up groggily. However, he noticed something... out of place. "Huh?" Where... am I? My old room?" The boy blinked and looked around. It looked almost exactly like his room at his house- the toy chest in the corner, his writing desk below the window, his bookshelf next to the bed. Even Luna and Lupin, his old, beloved wolf plushies, were tucked in bed, their stitched-on smiles oblivious as usual. "Did... someone help me..?"
It was then that Leon realized he was speaking English. "Wait a moment..." He looked down. "...I'm standing on two legs?! And- and I've got hands again!? But... they're still furry.... Mirror, I need a mirror!" Adrenaline pumping into his system, he jumped off the bed and began running around the room frantically, looking for a mirror.
When he did find a mirror and looked at his reflection, he gasped. He was a like a mix between his human self and his wolf form. Where previously he'd been buck naked, now, Leon was wearing a blue T-shirt and jean shorts, and he was bandaged up where the branches had hurt him. He brushed some of his brown hair out of his sapphire blue eyes and looked again, astonished. "...wow... I'm not fully human still... but... wow... I've got my hands back, and my human eyes... I feel... like myself again." He smiled a bit.
Without warning, there was a knock on Leon's door, making the wolf boy jump. "Um... Come in?"
The door opened... to reveal Kiara. "Morning, Sleeping Beauty," she said.
"Did... you do this to me?" Leon asked.
"To the point, aren't we?" Kiara said cheerfully. "To answer your question, yes. May I come in?"
Leon realized the situation, and he nodded "yes, come in, And thank you."
"You're very welcome, Leon." Kiara trotted in and sat down on the bed. "First, let's start with the basics. I'm Kiara, and you're Leon, right?"
"Yeah. I'm Leon McCloud," Leon said, bowing in greeting.
"Aw, no need to bow, silly. I'm your friend, not your queen. Anyway, I'm a Keeper, a person who acts as the administrator of places like this one," Kiara explained.
"So... what is this place?" Leon asked nicely.
"This place is called Benedi. It's a... rehabilitation center of sorts. You know how you were turned into a wolf, yeah? I find people like you and rescue them, helping them get back to their normal life." Kiara smiled mischievously. "Cool, huh?"
"It's wonderful of you to do this."
"He he, thanks! Anyway, you're part of the very first batch of people I'm rescuing. How does it feel to be a wolf boy?"
"I... don't know." Leon admitted.
Those words made Kiara frown. "Darn. I was hoping you'd like it. Eh, give it time."
Leon winced, noticing Kiara's frown. "W-well... I am happy to get my hands back, and the fur is nice, soft, and warm." he added hastily. He breathed a sigh of relief when Kiara's frown softened a bit. "So, who are the other lucky ones?"
"Most of them are dogs, oddly enough.... I believe we have six others. As a matter of fact, there are two other wolves."
"Wolves? Why do people keep turning innocent kids into wolves?"
Kiara shrugged. "People are weird that way."
"...you're right about that. So, when can I go back to my mom and dad? I miss them..." Leon fidgeted a bit.
"Mmm, I'm thinking you should have a week here to rest up and have fun getting used to your new life."
"A week?" Leon asked, surprised.
"A week. You have much to learn, grasshopper." Kiara patted Leon's head. "Like keeping your tail from getting crushed in doors."
"But... I miss my mama and papa, and I also miss my friends," Leon said. He hung his head. "I... I want Mama...." Tears began to well up in his eyes.
Kiara looked as the boy, and a twinge of guilt hit her. �"...maybe... I could arrange something."
"Y-you mean it?" Leon snuffled, looking up at her with hope.
"Of course. I'll do all I can to make those in my care happy." Kiara put a hand on Leon's shoulder. "Okay, little guy?"
"...thank you, Kiara." Leon smiled, opened his arms wide, and pulled Kiara into a tight hug, his tail wagging like crazy.
Kiara smiled. "Okay, kiddo. Now, I need to check on the others, so just relax here. I believe you have a couple game consoles to keep you entertained."
Leon's ears perked up. "Really?!" He looked to find his Wii and PS2 by the TV. "THANK YOU!" Somehow, his tail began wagging even faster as he jumped to the consoles and began setting up a game of Kingdom Hearts.
Kiara chuckled and left the room.
Mike was sleeping quite soundly in his own bed, his face devoid of anything resembling sadness. Kiara decided to visit Mike, coming into his room quietly. She stood for a moment, looking down at the cute little wolf, before getting to work with fixing him.
Soon, like Leon, Mike was a wolf boy, though smaller, since he was younger. Kiara admired her handiwork for a moment, before deciding to wake Mike up. Gently, she caressed his shoulder and gave it a light shake, whispering, "Wake up, little guy..."
"Mmm... huh?" Mike slowly awakened. "You... you're that... girl... from... the pound..."
"I am," Kiara said softly. "Are you doing okay, kid?"
"Well... huh?" Mike noticed his hands. "I... have hands again?"
"Indeed you do. Welcome to Benedi, kiddo. I've turned you into an Anthro wolf, putting you back on two legs."
"Really?" Mike looked under the blanket to see his new legs. "Wow, cool!"
"But... I looked into your memories... and saw... that you're an orphan." Kiara looked worried about that, but strangely enough, Mike didn't.
"Oh, THAT? That's nothing," he dismissed. "I know, I know, I shouldn't be happy I don't have a family, but honestly? I don't really care. The people at the orphanage are nice enough."
"...but... I was... well... I... um..." Kiara was dumbfounded.
"Something wrong?" Mike asked.
"I... was hoping to adopt you myself..." Kiara said, fidgeting. Mike stared at her for a sec.
"I was planning to give you three square meals a day, all the toys you want, and... be an older sister to you." Kiara looked away. "...I guess I don't need to, huh... s-sorry..."
"No, wait!" Mike said hurriedly. "I-I... um... I-I can be your little bro if you really want, uh.... I-I'm sorry...."
This made Kiara turn back to him. "Really?!" she asked, hopeful.
"Yeah... I do think it would be nice to have a family, to tell the truth."
"...C'MERE, LITTLE BRO!" Kiara pulled Mike into a very tight hug... so tight, in fact, that Mike was having trouble breathing.
"Owie..." he wheezed.”C-could you let go, please? I... can't breathe..." His face was rapidly going blue.
Kiara realized her error and let him go. "Oh, I'm so sorry!"
Mike took a few deep breaths, letting the color return to his cheeks. "I-it's okay, big sis... honest..."
Kiara smiled, and with a snap of her fingers, there was a fresh bag of Chex Mix on the nightstand. "Hungry?"
Zoom! Mike was on his bed, eating Chex Mix and watching TV.
"Works with kids every time..." she said, walking away, "Why did I use that so cruelly back in the day...? Mike, I'll be checking on the other kids. You be a good boy, okay?"
"Okay!" Mike chirped.
Nicky was already awake, relaxing in the bed. Looking around at the room resembling his own. "Even as a wolf... it's good to be on familiar ground."
"You!" Nicky yelped, turning to see Mortimer. "Uh... um... While I thank you for helping me... why did you play for that dress?"
"Simple: those two girls were too stupid to do it themselves. I'll bet they only had about two or three brain cells between the both of them." Mortimer snickered. "Teenagers are so dumb." The wolf gave Mortimer, who looked like he was in his preteens, a skeptical glance. "Okay... some teens are idiots."
"That's better. So... can you do anything about-?"
"Hold on a moment. Let me see how you were changed." Mortimer used a small diagnostic spell on Nicky, making the little wolf feel cold as a blue light surrounded him. When the light vanished, Mortimer clicked his tongue. "Standard transformation spell? An easy fix. Sit tight!" Mortimer concentrated his magic on Nicky. Almost immediately, the boy felt dizzy and disoriented as his body reformed into a bipedal state. And with another finger snap, Nicky was in a fresh, clean set of clothes. "Like the clothes?"
The little wolf boy looked at his new clothes: black slacks, a white sweater, and a soft, royal blue coat. "...wow... “But then the urge to drink began to build.”I'm thirsty."
"I'm Friday," Mortimer said cheerfully. "Come over Saturday and we'll have a sundae." Nicky groaned at the horrible joke. "Kidding... How about a smoothie?"
"Pineapple, please... if you don't mind..."
"May I mix in a little passion fruit? The two together make a big energy booster. Transformations can be draining."
"If you want to..."
Mortimer mixed up the two fruits with protein power, yogurt, and other healthy ingredients. "Oh, and after this you can explore the building." He said, serving Nicky his smoothie, and an Apple and Blueberry smoothie for himself.
Tommy was adorable as he slept in his bed. Dozing away without a care, he looked like he was having a much better time than when he was with Amy.
Kiara quietly came in. Seeing young Tommy made her smile. "Time for a little surprise, kiddo." Kiara using her magic on the boy, morphing him into an Anthro cat.
The shock of the change woke him up.
"Huh? Where... my hands! I got them back?" Tommy said in awe of his restored hands.
Kiara nodded. "Yep. Allow me to explain...." Gently, she explained all of it to young Tommy. When she finished, he was in awe.
"Really?" he asked.
"Yes. So, you ready to get your life back?" Kiara asked, picking up the boy and cuddling him.
"Yeah!" Tommy said happily.
"Good. Now then, for now, you still look a little tired." Kiara said.
"So?" Tommy asked.
"You should continue your nap for now, you deserve it."
"...eh, okay." Tommy flopped back down in bed and was soon dozing away as if he hadn't even woken up.
Marcus was already awake, but the pain from his collection of injuries, courtesy of Kenos, had him stuck in bed, moaning.
Kiara came inside. "You okay?"
Marcus let out an inarticulate bray of pain.
"Oh dear... hold still." Kiara placed a hand on Marcus's chest, causing him to bray louder. However, with a "shhh", Kiara applied a gentle pressure to the poor young donkey. Soon, Marcus felt most of his pain going away, his body shifting to that of an Anthro donkey, bandages wrapping around several parts of his body covering and clogging the bleeds, and a cast encasing his right arm which he accidently broke when he passed out as the farm, not to mention a fresh set of clothes appearing on his body.
"Wha... what the... how did you..." Marcus moved away from Kiara, frightened. "W-what... what are you?"
"I'm a keeper, a being of magic tasked with rescuing children like you and others, healing them and helping them recover, then helping them get back their lives." Kiara explained.
Marcus shook his head. "I don't believe you," he said skeptically.
"Would I have put you back on two legs?" Kiara asked.
"To torture me more, maybe."
"...no... Would I have treated your injuries?" Kiara asked.
Still, Marcus remained wary. "True... but how do I know you aren't trying to trick me!?"
"Your parents. I told them everything, and they asked me help you in any way I can. And I'll never break a promise. It's not in me."
Marcus relaxed. "...you mean it?"
"Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." Kiara went through the necessary motions. "Now do you believe me?"
"...Yes, thank you. Though, how did I break my arm?" Marcus asked, looking at the cast.
"Happened when you passed out."
"Oh... okay, I guess...?" Marcus tried to stand up, but being rusty with being on two hooves, so he was a little wobbly. Kiara took hold of his shoulder to help support him. "G-gah, this is weird..."
"Easy, I’ll help you out, but I need you to sit back down for a moment," Kiara carefully sat him down gain, before pulling out her cell phone and making a phone call, "Toby, can you guys check on the Coyote and Husky?"
There was a garbled response in the affirmative from the other end.
"Okay, thanks. Ciao!" She hung up, and started helping out Marcus recover his ability to walk.
Josh was whimpering in his sleep, worried sick about his wife and children. In his dreams, he saw visions of them crying over a grave... his grave. They were mourning him. Just as well, since he was practically dead to the world already. Why? Why did people have access to such horrible magic?
As he slept, though, Cygnus came in. The androgynous being looked over Josh's slumbering form, seeing into the coyote's mind, and shuddered. "Hoo, boy, nightmare alert. Time for a dream spell." He/she worked some magic on the coyote. It took effect almost immediately. Josh's body relaxed as his dream changed for the better.
in the Dream, Josh, as an Anthro coyote approached his family, who ran up to him and hugged him, happy to have him back, even as a coyote-man. As he dreamed, his body shifted into that of an Anthro coyote. Cygnus chuckled.
"Wake up, sleepyhead!" he/she said jokingly, shaking Josh's shoulder.
Josh gently awoke, immediately noticing his hands. "...what the... I... have hands again? But wait... they're all furry... what the heck happened...?"
"Look in the mirror," Cygnus said simply.
He gasped. Staring back at him through the mirror was his Anthro coyote self, his reflection's golden eyes meeting his own with shock. "How the... I-I don't understand... am I seeing things?"
"Nope, you really are an Anthro coyote," said Cygnus. "Cool, huh?"
"I... I guess?" Josh replied. "Uhhh...." Feeling something brush the backs of his legs, he looked behind himself. The brush-like thing was his tail, swaying idly. "Whoa..."
"How do you feel?"
Josh opened his mouth to say something, and then closed it to think. How did he feel? Certainly he was still feeling awkward about having paws for feet, but now that he wasn't in the middle of an existential crisis over his species changing, his fur and tail felt... rather nice. "...can I get back to you on that?"
"Sure." Cygnus rolled his/her eyes and smiled. "You have as much time as you need."
"Thanks. So... what happened, why am I on two legs, and who are you?"
Cygnus calmly explained the whole nine yards. When the explaining was done, Cygnus grinned. "Got all that?"
"Yeah... so... what about my kids? Before I was snagged, my wife told me over the phone they were trying to catch up to me."
"They were forcibly returned home before they could get to where you were going, so don't worry. They're fine."
"What, you WANT them to suffer what you went through?" Cygnus snapped. "Not only do we rescue people FROM being transformed, we also PREVENT them from being transformed in the first place, as much as possible."
"...explain your definition of forcibly."
"...we gave them ice cream and a small gift in exchange for them returning home." Cygnus specified, after seeing Josh sigh in relief. "What? We don't hurt people, especially children."
"I can believe that... but how did you know they like ice cream?"
Cygnus face palmed. "There's this thing called 'magic'. Heard of it? I used a spell that looked into their hearts and created something they liked."
"Demonstration?" asked the boy/girl.
Cygnus cast a spell for Josh, producing a hot plate with a juicy steak, the kind his wonderful wife made just the way he loved it.
"...I think I love you."
"Whoa, easy, Casanova, you're married," the boy/girl/it snickered, placing the plate on the night table. "Eat up."
Immediately, Josh fell upon the food, devouring it hungrily. When he was done, he patted his belly and smiled. "Man that was good!"
Haru was up and had managed to turn on the TV, watching the news. He snickered- girls assaulting one another over dresses? How idiotic a thing to be jailed over.
"Enjoying a little television, mister soon to be Anthro?"
Out of the corner of his eye, Haru saw Mortimer enter the room. He barked and nodded.
"Good. Now hold still." Mortimer gave Haru a magical tap on the nose. The little husky winced as Mortimer's magic, cold and bitter, rushed through his system. Soon, he was an Anthro husky, in casual teen clothes, sans shoes. He looked at himself, then at Mortimer.
"...Whoa," was all he said.
"...yup." Haru smiled. "I like it a lot. Why don't I have shoes, though?"
"Husky feet can't fit in them." Mortimer shivered a bit. "Unpleasant experience, trying to make shoes for animals."
"Oh, I see..." Haru replied. "So... when can I get my life back, like that junior cop kid promised?"
"It should take a week or so for you to fully adjust to being part-dog," Mortimer said.
"Okay... err, one more question. Is... Being able to use a phone out of the question?"
"...let me guess, you'd like to talk to your parents."
"Sister, but-" Haru was interrupted when Marty handed him an iPhone 4s.
"Unlimited numbers, free calling, and free Wi-Fi. Benedi package. You wouldn't believe how easily we managed to convince Apple to give us this thing for free. Go ahead, try it."
Haru took the phone tentatively and dialed his older sister's number. "...hello?"
Mortimer watched as Haru's face lit up. "Bingo," he chuckled to himself.
Later that day, a few of the rescue-ees were out and about, walking through the building and occasionally meeting up with one another or one of their rescuers. One of these wanderers was Nicky. Unlike the others, though, he wasn't inclined to socialize so much. He mumbled a polite "hello" here and there when he bumped into one of the others in the hallway, but for the most part, he was simply ambling around.
Soon, though, the blue-coated wolf boy came by a certain room. Something about this room seemed... special, like he could go in without worry.
Just to be safe, Nicky knocked on the door.
"Come on in," a kind-sounding voice said in response. Shivering a bit, Nicky entered. It was a boy's room, slightly messy, but warm and inviting. Lying down on the bed was, to Nicky's surprise, another wolf boy, wearing blue. Hidden beneath his brown hair was a pair of sapphire eyes intently reading some novel or other. "Oh, hi! Were you rescued, too?" the boy asked, noticing his visitor.
Nicky nodded shyly. "Y-yeah... sorry to just barge in on you like that..."
"No worries. I was just reading a book of short stories." The other wolf boy smiled. "I'm Leon. What's your name?"
"Um.... Nicky... I'm Nicky... you're a very nice wolf..." Nicky fidgeted.
"Aww, shucks, thanks!" Leon giggled and blushed. "So are you!"
"Hm... I can tell you're a little lonely here at this place," Leon mentioned.
Nicky nodded again.
"Wanna share my room? We can be like brothers! It'll be fun." The brunet gave Nicky a cheerful grin.
"U-uhm..." Nicky, surprised by Leon's suggestion, took some time to come up with his answer. "S-sure!"
The moment Nicky said that, the room began to shift a little. Leon and Nicky looked around in surprise as it warped. Soon, though, it had become something like a cross between Leon and Nicky's rooms, with doors leading to a kitchen, living room, playroom, and a bathroom. It was less like a room and more like an apartment now.
"What just happened?" Leon asked, not noticing Kiara coming in. Nicky gave Leon a confused shrug.
"Did you boys agree to share the room?" Kiara asked, surprising the two.
"K-Kiara!" Leon stammered. "U-uh... yeah, actually..."
"The rooms in this building adjust to comfort the one staying in it. Since you're both sharing this one, it changed to accommodate the both of you and a caretaker," Kiara explained. "Namely, yours truly."
"Wow..." Nicky murmured. "Um... are you a friend of Mortimer...?"
"Yes. Currently, he's caring for two others: a donkey boy, Marcus, and a husky boy, Haru. The two are getting along well."
"...And that's how I got to this paradise," Marcus finished explaining.
Haru winced. "A farm boy who got turned into a work animal? There's some kind of irony in that."
"And as you can see, I've got more recovering to do than you," Marcus added, looking as his cast and bandages. "Mortimer said I should share a room with you, since you could help me adjust since you're quite adjusted yourself."
"Guess so." Haru shrugged. "Bit odd for a farm boy and a rich kid to share rooms, don't you think?”
"I know, but, I'm struggling to adjust due to my extensive injuries." Marcus said.
"Well, I'm glad to have you here, and I'll do my best to help you out, Marcus." Haru smiled and shook Marcus's un-casted hand, which cued the reshaping of the room into an apartment.
Tommy and Mike had also met, and then met up with Josh. The two younger kids were well-recieved by Josh, who connected to them well. The adult smiled as he watched them chatting animatedly- they reminded him of his own sons.
"You know what? You two can share this room with me. You two need a caretaker while you're recovering and all," Josh said, gently hugging the puppy and kitten.
"Okay!" Mike said exuberantly.
The room began shifting into an apartment for three.
In the living room, Mortimer, Tobias, and Cygnus were chatting.
"Kiara's really made a turnaround, eh, boys?" Mortimer said lightly, sipping from a wineglass.
"Yep! Hard to believe how much she's changed in only 7 weeks," Tobias replied.
"I just hope she doesn't relapse," Cygnus said cynically, chugging down a flagon of beer.
"Nah, she won't deviate," Tobias said, turning Marty’s drink into tomato juice right before he took a drink. Mortimer shot him a glare.
"Don't waste good Amontillado," he admonished gently, changing it back and drinking the whole glass down.
Tobias sighed. "Sober up, guys. We have 7 extra mouths to feed, and it's time to start on dinner." He went to the kitchen.
Hours later, Kiara was outside the house, talking to some adults.
"What you'll see may shock you," she said seriously. "It may frighten you."
"My Leon's... changed?" a woman asked, just to clarify.
"Yes. Only physically, though. He's still your little boy, so don't worry."
The lady was relieved.
"Come. They're waiting in the foyer." Kiara turned around and strode into the building.
The adults, one by one, followed her inside.
"Think they'll be here soon, bro?" Leon asked Nicky. "I can't wait to show you to them!"
"I'm scared... will mama accept me like this?" Nicky asked, quaking in his metaphorical boots.
"Of course! Your mama loves you, right?" Leon said cheerily. "If she loves you, I'm sure she'll accept you the way you are now!"
"...Thanks, Leon." Nicky looked away, blushing.
"Kids... your families are here," Kiara announced, arriving with the families.
There was a moment of silence, in which the transformed kids (sans Mike) looked at their respective family members.
"...Which one of you is Leon?" asked one woman, hoping to get a response from her child.
Leon giggled and raised his hand.
The woman smiled. "Come here me little wolf." she said, opening her arms out to Leon. Leon rushed into his mother's arms for a big hug.
"Mama, I missed you so much! I'm sorry I wasn't able to come home." Leon said, hugging his mother with joy.
"I missed you too, Leon," his mother replied. "Are you alright?"
"I’m fine now that I’m back with you, Mama." Leon smiled. "...oh, but I want ya to meet someone!" He gestured to Nicky, who was still nervous. "Mama, meet Nicky, my new brother!"
"Oh?" Leon's mother looked confused. "Um... it's nice to meet you, Nicky."
"Hello... n-n-nice to meet you, Mrs. McCloud." Nicky stuttered.
"Nicky? Is that you?" Another lady said.
"And you are?" Leon asked.
"Nicky's mother," the woman said, surprising Leon.
"Oh, you're Mrs..." Leon groped for a name, before realizing that Nicky had never revealed his surname.
"Anderson. Just call me Charity." Charity smiled. "So, you're a new friend of Nicky's?"
"Yes. My name's Leon McCloud." Leon gave Charity his sunniest smile. "Nicky's really nice!"
"Nice to meet you, Leon, and thank you."
Meanwhile, Nicky was still shaking like a bowl of gelatin in an earthquake. "...M-M-M-Mama...?"
"Yes, I'm here, sweetie, I’m here for you." Charity enfolded her shaky son in a gentle embrace. "It's okay."
"...mama... I missed you..." Nicky hugged back, eyes watering. "I missed you so much..."
"So... you’re my brother's mother?" Leon asked Charity.
Charity gave him a confused look. "Brother?"
"We bonded close."
"That's great, Leon!" Charlotte said. "Is he a... best friend?"
"More than that!" Leon exclaimed. "Nicky's my brother!"
Nicky blushed. "A-ah... Thanks... Leon..." He smiled weakly.
Meanwhile, Josh was being confronted by his wife and kids.
His two boys were, to his surprise, in coyote themed pajamas. "Papa?" Both asked.
Josh gasped with delight. "Luke! Shawn!" he exclaimed, hugging them tight. "I missed you, boys!"
"Josh... You’re a coyote," his wife, Maria, pointed out.
"Who, me?" Josh asked, feigning a look of innocence.
"Yes... It's cute." Maria admitted.
"Papa..." Marcus was shy, seeing his father.
"...Marcus? A-am I... seeing things?" Mr. Whistler asked.
"It's me... Papa. I’m... a donkey now..." Marcus said.
To his surprise, Mr. Whistler looked relieved.
"Oh, thank Heavens it's only that!" he said. "I thought you were dead!"
Marcus smiled. He hugged his father. "I wished I was while Kenos was working me," he joked.
"What? What do you mean?"
"....Kenos turned me into a donkey and used me as his own private work animal. Exhibit A." Marcus indicated his various bruises and injuries.
"How...did he turn you into a donkey?"
"Heck if I know."
"He poisoned Marcus with a donkey poison." Kiara said.
Marcus and Mr. Whistler gave Kiara a weird look.
"I have to know the source of the transformation to help." The mage shrugged.
"...that makes more sense," Marcus decided.
"The Poison isn't deadly, but he can never be fully human again." Kiara revealed.
Marcus looked crestfallen. "Now you tell me...?"
"But you're still yourself, and you’re reunited with your dad."
"...true." The donkey boy hugged his dad. "Thanks, Kiara."
"Mommy!" Tommy said, as he approached his mother.
His mother gasped. "Tommy, is that you?"
"Mmhmm! I may be a kitten, but it's me." Tommy hugged his mom, purring all the while.
Tommy was gently picked up and cuddled by his mother, letting him purr more. "You're not mad, Mommy?"
"I'm just glad you're okay, my little kitty." She replied, "I love you, Tommy."
"...I'd have expected you'd at least scream," Tommy mumbled, before burying himself in his mom's embrace.
"...Sis," Haru said, blushing.
Seru, his big sister, only smiled. "I always knew you were a furry, bro, but not like this."
"...I..." Haru was really nervous, not liking that he's no longer human around Seru. "S-shut up, you jerk..."
"Chill, bro, you're just cuter now." Seru ruffled Haru's hair. "No worries, okay?"
"Well... okay." Haru said.
Mike watched his friends enjoy their reunions with their families. "Must be nice..." he said thoughtfully.”Eh... not like I care or anything..." He frowned.
Kiara walked over to Mike, picked him up, and cuddled him. "Hey, don't be like that. You're not alone anymore."
Mike smiled, hugging Kiara back. "Thank you, sis."
"Anytime, kiddo." Kiara looked at the others. "Okay, everyone, let's all go to the dining room for some dinner." she said.
In the dining room, the three cloaked boys groaned, hearing Kiara's words.
Kiara looked at them. Mind speaking. ever heard the term "Magic makes things easier"?
Mortimer groaned again. Right... how about you help us with the cooking instead of making me and Cygnus do all the work to stop Tobias from wrecking it?
About a few minutes later, Kiara, after helping the cloaked boys, started serving dinner via levitation spell. The kids and co watched the food float to their plates.
"Wow!" Maria said. "And here I thought magic didn't exist."
"It only exists in places like here in Benedi," Kiara said. "...or should, at least."
"So..." Charlotte started. "Why'd you create Benedi?"
"For the purpose of saving people like your son," Mortimer said, filling a glass with wine for himself. He took a sip. "Ahhhh. Anyway, there's recently been a spike in magic activity in your world, and it's not good. People are getting transformed into other species left and right, and usually, it's a very, very bad thing, good intentions or no. It's been playing merry hell with the natural order of things, and it's the job of me and my colleagues to fix the damage that's been caused, and prevent further damage."
Charlotte fell silent.
"Anyway, eat up. Your kids still need about a week to adjust to their new forms, so we're keeping them here." Kiara revealed. "Is that alright? They'll come back at the end of the week."
Charlotte immediately spoke up. "May I stay with Leon?"
"I'm afraid not," Kiara said. "Sorry, but Benedi can only house transformed people long term. You can come visit, though!"
"...oh... okay." Charlotte looked a bit crestfallen.
"Mom, don't worry. I'll be okay. Kiara's a really nice person that we can definitely trust," Leon said.
All of a sudden, Kiara was hit by a pang of mixed guilt and relief.
"If you can trust her, so can I, Leon." Charlotte said.
More guilt/relief pangs.
"...I need to use the toilet," Kiara said, getting up and leaving the table.
Mike watched his sister leave, her face showing she was troubled. "Um... I'll be right back," Mike said, excusing himself and following Kiara.
Mike later found Kiara slumped over on Leon and Nicky's bed, upset.
"I can't believe people trust me." Kiara said. "Yet... seven weeks ago... I... maybe I need to visit... maybe later..." She sighed and buried her face in the blanket.
"...Kiara?" Mike asked. "A-are... are you okay?"
"Oh... Mike..." Kiara didn't lift her head from the blanket. "...I don’t know..."
"You can te-"
"No... I can't tell anyone." Kiara stood up straight. "I'm fine. Let's go back to dinner." She strode out of the room, Mike looking worriedly on.
Soon, though, night came. After a good (if tense on Kiara's part) meal, the kids (and Josh) said goodbye to their families, and were back in their rooms. Mike, having moved in with Kiara, was in his room, thinking. "What's... Kiara hiding?" he wondered to himself.
"Well, good night, Nicky..." Leon said, hugging his new brother.
"...night... brother." Nicky smiled gently and hugged Leon. "Cuddle?" He tucked himself in and looked at Leon eagerly.
Leon cuddled with Nicky a little, and then headed to his own room.
Josh was all tucked in bed, ready to sleep, when someone knocked on his door.
"...come in..." he said warily.
The door opened, and it was Tommy, all nice and cute in his footed Pajamas. "Um... Josh... I'm a little... scared... sleeping alone..." Tommy was timid and a little afraid of the dark.
Josh said nothing. Instead he got out of bed, and walked over to Tommy. Then, to Tommy’s delight, Josh picked him up and cuddled him. "We'll talk to Kiara tomorrow about a nightlight and plushy for you to cuddle, but for tonight, you can sleep with me," he said, bringing the little cat into bed with him. Tommy was purring, thankful for Josh's kindness. They both gently slipped into gentle slumber.
Marcus was amazed, as Mortimer took off his cast, revealing that his arm was all healed. "This is amazing, was it your magic that accelerated my healing?"
"Might've been," Mortimer said with an impish smile. "It's a secret~" Mortimer removed the rest of the bandages, Marcus was then horrified to find a nasty scar on his arm.
"Kenos... I'm gonna shove my hoof trough your face so hard-" Mortimer shut the donkey's mouth.
"Ah ah ah, that's no way for a good little foal like you to talk. We'll punish Kenos, trust me. Now, it's late. You ought to get some sleep."
"...okay." Marcus got in bed, Mortimer tucked him in.
The four rescuers had one more chat before bed. "More help?" Toby asked.
"Yes. We need a few more helping hands to handle a full building, but don't worry, I have an idea..."