BeautyRagdoll's Dilemma: The Decision
BeautyRagdoll (or BRD while in male form) felt thoroughly disgusted with life. Another all-day session with Dr. Zapparius Scorchese, the Mad Scientist from the secret lab, failed again to find a cure for the strange lab-induced condition which caused BRD to change color, species, gender, or something random when excited, stressed, or in extreme pain. It was like being zapped by the Lab ray without any control or preparation beforehand. The changes also seemed to be the most inopportune kind at the most inopportune moment, like the time BRD changed from a Maraquan to Fire Elephante while swimming near the ruins. Thank Fyora he quickly found that air pocket in the ruins.
Doc Zappy, (how BRD referred to the scientist, much to the Doctor’s chagrin) had been working for months with no luck. The Doc wasn’t the only one. BRD had sought help from Kauvara (Zappy called her a “potion peddling charlatan”), Doc Gelert (the “simple” country doctor), and even the Shenkuu Herbalist (the “Ruki leaguer”). Nothing helped. In the meantime, Doc Zappy forbade use of the Lab Ray, telling BRD a single use could cause disintegration because of the unstable state of BRD’s body structure.
For the time being, BRD was a large, male Island Grarrl, and a fairly disgruntled one at that. He traveled to the Haunted Woods in order to take a walk to clear his mind. The dismal surroundings fitted his mood nicely. There was nothing like doom and gloom to bring out the doom and gloom, and as a Grarrl, most of it was edible.
During his sulk with Nature, BRD had crossed into Neovia, where he happened upon a clearing. In the center of the clearing was a wagon, covered in ornate cloth and standing next to a campfire. BRD realized that it always seemed to get late early in the Haunted Woods, and eyed the scenery intently, to assess whether to ask for a place to stay for the evening or to seek shelter elsewhere.
Around the fire were three figures. The first was a pink Aisha with long, flowing hair and elaborate dress. She wore many gold bracelets and was peering intently into the fire. The second one was a red Wocky wearing a tight blue vest over a white top and a red skirt, skipping around the camp collecting firewood and singing a little song. The third was a rather dour-looking Blue Usul dressed in dark blue and purple. She was sitting near the edge of the camp, staring intently into a clear ball that glowed with an internal orange glow, not borne of the nearby fire. The clothes of all three were clean, although they had been patched several times.
It was the Usul, without looking up from the globe, who spoke up:
“Sisters, we have a visitor!”
The Aisha looked directly at the area BRD was hiding and called. “There is nothing to fear. We shall not harm you. Please join us for dinner.”
BRD hesitantly entered the clearing, feeling a slight tinge of fear of these three, but also a thrill of excitement, as if aid might be found. He hesitantly addressed the trio:
“I bid you good evening. I accept your invitation for supper, though I fear my appetite may a bit of a burden to the fare you are preparing here.”
“’Tis no matter, Guest,” piped the Wocky, “What we have we offer freely. You are welcome.” She dropped her armload of gathered firewood on top of a similar pile that was nearby and joined the others by the fire.
Suddenly, the Usul looked up and glared intently at BRD. “I sense you are at unease, and are seeking relief.”
“Yes, I sense it also,” stated the Aisha.
BRD cleared his throat. The gazes of the three seemed to bore into his soul. He hesitantly said, “I have been... cursed.”
The Wocky cocked her head curiously and piped, “Yes, I can see you are... But we can fix that.”
“YOU CAN?!” BRD’s eyes widened and caught himself as he felt the pain of an internal shift. Something had changed. “You can?” The voice was much quieter and gentle this time. It seemed BeautyRagdoll was again a she.
After a sharp glance at her sister, the Aisha responded. “Aye, we can. But such things come at a price...” Her voice trailed off as she stared intently at the now-female Grarrl kneeling across the fire, the glow of it tracing interesting shadows across the Island-patterned skin and the flickering of the “curse” the three gypsies could see dancing there.
“Price?” BeautyRagdoll stammered, getting to her feet.
The Usul stood up and approached BRD, holding the glowing ball like a lantern to add an orange glow to the other patterns. “Aye. there is always a price. Are you willing to pay it?” she whispered in a husky, and somewhat menacing, tone.
“Umm, what kind of price? Neopoints? I have access to a few. Dubloons? Weapons? Name it, and I shall try to pay it gladly.” The odd stares of the three kept BeautyRagdoll on edge, as it felt they were reading her soul.
“No, no,” responded the Aisha slowly. “We care not for the material things you have. This is more a price you will have to pay to yourself.”
“I... I don’t understand,” BeautyRagdoll said, rather confused.
“She doesn’t understand, Sisters,” chimed the Wocky, almost singing the words. “They never do, they never do, and when they do, it’s always too late, too late, too late for you!” She pointed at BeautyRagdoll and giggled. Then she was silent, a playful glint in her eyes.
BeautyRagdoll sat back down heavily. “OK, tell me this ‘price’. I want to hear it all, leave nothing out. I want to know what I’m getting into, both good and bad.”
The Blue Usul glanced into the ball, then back into BeautyRagdoll’s eyes. “Who you are, is not who you were.” The other two Gypsies nodded. It was as if they could see BeautyRagdoll’s secrets laid bare.
The Aisha continued, “We can undo it. We can undo it all.”
The Wocky finished, “But that’s the only way we can undo it. All or nothing.”
“All or nothing?” blurted BeautyRagdoll. “What do you mean?”
“It means that if we undo it, we undo it all. We cannot choose what is undone. You will become what you originally were.” Again the three Gypsies pierced BeautyRagdoll with their eerily knowing stares.
Thought BeautyRagdoll: ‘That means I would go back to being a plain, yellow female Kyrii... Do I want to go back to that? Start all over? I hated who I was back then. However, I suppose I could start all over again, a little more carefully this time with Doc Zappy. Avoid the mistake that made me this way...’
The Usul cut into Beautyragdoll’s reverie. “If we do this, it cannot be undone.”
“What did you say?” BeautyRagdoll stammered.
The Aisha spoke. “The price you pay. We can undo what’s been done, but that is how you will remain. Nothing again will ever change it.”
The Wocky cut off Beautyragdoll’s reply and asked firmly, “So what is your choice?”
“Can I think about this a bit?”
The dour Usul fixed her with a withering stare. “Ye may take all the time you wish, but know this; if ye leave here tonight without deciding, another chance ye will not have. Even if ye find us again through some chance, it will not be the same. Kreludor be in a rare full form tonight, and the powers are at the greatest. It will not happen again in a lifetime.”
BeautyRagdoll thought about it while the three gypsies stared at her over the campfire. The only thing that broke the stillness was the soft crackling of burning wood.
Cured of the spontaneous changes, but always stuck as a plain, yellow female Kyrii... Was the cure worth the price? WAS IT? It’s not that BeautyRagdoll ever had anything in particular against Kyrii; she just didn’t like who she was, and that drove her to trying the Lab Ray in the first place.
The pressure was intense. A bead of sweat trickled from BeautyRagdoll’s temple and she felt another shift. An Island Yurble now sat where the Island Grarrl had been, but it was still BeautyRagdoll. She spat out the now inedible rock she had absently been munching on and coughed. The three gypsies continued to watch without any reaction to the change.
Suddenly, revelation came to BeautyRagdoll. She came to realize that while these spontaneous changes might be inconvenient, and sometimes a bit dangerous, they were much preferred over being eternally stuck as something that drove her to seeking a change in the first place. Besides, she was certain Doc Zappy, Kauvara, or maybe even one of the Faeries may be able to come up with something. Someday. There was always tomorrow, or the next day. She had her answer.
“... No. I appreciate the offer, but I think I shall have to pass. I thank you for your hospitality and your offer, but I think my way and my answer lies in another direction. It is getting late, and I shall bid you a good night.”
With that, BeautyRagdoll rose and left into the forest. Three pairs of eyes watched as she left.
The Blue Usul set aside the glowing orb and reached for the bag of Drillaroot, pulled one out, spitted it on a stick, and started roasting it in the fire. She broke the silence. “That one will be in for a long journey. I can’t see if she’ll ever find her goal.”
The Wocky agreed, “Yes, Sisters, but what an interesting journey that shall be...” Her giggles echoed into the darkness.