It feels cold. I feel cold.
Wait, I can feel now. I can move my hands and feel the cold beneath me. My nerves are sending proper messages to my cranium. My body wishes to function once more.
I open my eyes and find my sight filled with endless blades of jade. Somehow, they do not puncture my eyes.
I push myself up and find myself in a glade. The moon is full, and casts its otherworldly brightness upon me. Yet, I do not need its light. I can see so clearly.
I would question this, but I have more intriguing questions to ask myself. But first, I must leave this forest I find myself in. I must find civilization. I know not where I am, but surely there must be a city nearby. It's a feeble hope I cling to. I do not wish to stay in this forest for the rest of the night.
I choose the first direction that comes to mind and start to walk. Despite having been unconscious mere moments ago, I do not feel fatigued. No, I feel rather invigorated.
I had felt so weary for what felt like mere moments ago. I know that these "moments" are probably "hours" though. My loss of consciousness is to blame for my warped concept of time. My body probably received all the time it needed to recover as I remained in the glade.
I keep moving.
My body... it feels very strange. It feels renewed, but something about it is amiss. But, I cannot tell what. There are no words to describe the uncanny vibes I am receiving regarding my body.
I decide to glance down at my hands.
They are not the hands I always had. No, they are very different now.
I inspect the rest of my person. I fear more of myself has been altered.
Yes, my suspicions are correct. My entire being has completely changed. Nothing about my current body shows resemblance to my old self, other than the fact that I still have the same basic body structure. All of my senses still function, possibly even more enhanced than before. There are no ill side-effects of having this new body.
Still, this unnerves me. It forces me to stop breathing for just a moment. I hear nothing except the swaying of branches in the breeze as I freeze in place.
Why has my body changed? Why am I no longer who I was? This unfamiliar form... why am I this? Did this happen when...?
I know what I am now.
I remember now.
I've seen this creature a few times in my studies. They were described as being just like this, even if some of the details were quite far off.
Yes, I see now. I am that creature now. I do not understand why I am the creature, but I am. It is a simple, yet insidious fact I must accept.
I take a moment to recollect myself. I slowly let the knowledge seep into my mind. My mind does not want to accept this discovery as being true, but I force it to. It is a painful process, and it takes several minutes for it to finally happen.
When the shock of this news finally passes, I once again continue to find my way out of this forest. The silence of such place in the dead of night continues to put me at unease. I feel there are many eyes watching me from every direction, yet I see none. I try to ignore it and continue walking as if I were on a nightly stroll.
I do not know how I manage to remain so calm. I wish to flee from this sight, but every time the thought comes to mind, it is immediately silenced by some unknown force. I do not know what is quelling these impulses and forcing me to keep composed, but I do not resist. I wish to remain composed.
As I stroll through the endless trees, I suddenly start to hear something. Its footsteps are racing through the grass.
I stop and look around. I see a blur of movement.
It is quickly followed by several more blurs of movement. I can hear several pairs of feet kicking off the dirt all around me.
Who is running all around me? Why are they doing such?
Something sweeps past me, narrowly avoiding a collision. Though I only see it for a brief second, I am able to identify it.
It's a Houndour.
The other creatures I hear around me must also be Houndour. Though I cannot see them, it is a safe assumption. Houndour travel in packs.
The Houndour that I now see shows no interest in me. It continues to run forward, ignoring my presence. It does not seem to care for a creature like myself.
I watch it disappear into the distance and listen to the loud howls coming from deeper into the forest. From what I can understand, one of them has found something and is summoning the others to its aid. Perhaps the one Houndour has found prey.
Why am I staying here, wondering this? I needn't waste any more time. I am to find civilization. That is my primary focus.
I continue walking. I do not know how much further I have left, but surely, I will leave eventually.
Perhaps now is a time to ponder. My thoughts are organized, and moving forward does not require much concentration on my part.
Yes, I need to assess my situation.
I am in a forest. I do not know how I came here. I simply awoke to find myself in this strange location and in this strange new body. Everything in my situation lacks sense.
Well, pondering in that did little to help. No, it did nothing to help.
Pondering in my current situation is granting me no answers.
Perhaps I should ponder in what has happened before I came here. Maybe that will enlighten me and bring forth memories I might have suppressed.
I... I still have memories from before I awoke here, don't I?
Yes, I do. My memories are still intact.
I have been spared amnesia.
My name is-
The air no longer smells of pines.
There is new scent. It burns my nose and makes me enter a brief coughing fit.
I turn back and find what now plagues the air.
The forest is ablaze. There are such bright and ferocious flames consuming the jade behind me. Their light casts eerie shadows onto the trees that have yet to become ash. The world all around me suddenly seems much darker despite such brightness.
Those Houndour are no doubt the cause of this. I can even see their faint outlines amongst the fires, exhaling even more of the destructive force at an unseen target. They do not seem to care that they are burning their home down.
But I care. I do not wish to be encompassed by such flames. Being burned alive is one of the most gruesome fates to befall anyone.
I begin to run. I am quick to find that my body does not allow for as much speed as I wish. My body is sloth.
I continue to run despite this. It is certainly faster than walking. I do not fatigue as I flee from the growing fires. My energy is boundless. Whether this is due to my current form, or the adrenaline coursing through me, I know not. But right now, I do not care.
I must flee. I must escape from here. That is all that matters.
As the fire spreads, I am abruptly reminded of an incident. My brain triggers memories that I do not wish to think of now, but there is nothing I can do to stop them.
They are flowing into my sight, altering my vision between current reality and past reality.
I see those that I saw on that day. That catastrophic day.
They are burning in this fire all around me. Their charred corpses are reducing to ash and drifting away in the wind.
The empty sockets that once held their eyes gaze upon me.
They are asking me why. They are asking why they are here, slowly diminishing. They do not understand why this is now their fate.
I refuse to answer their questions. I continue to run toward what appears to be an opening.
Yes, I shall escape soon. Soon. So soon.
I have left the forest. I am free from it. I have sustained burns from the flames reaching too close to my person, but their sting does not affect me as much as I anticipated. I find I can tolerate it much more than I used to.
The fires continue to burn behind me, but there is nothing I can do to stop that. Perhaps others will come to douse the fires. Perhaps nature will simply let the fire continue.
I do not care which happens.
I leave behind the raging inferno and head for a gathering of small lights in the distance. I can only hope those lights signify an establishment of sorts. I suppose time will tell.
Now that I am free from danger, I must ponder.
Yes, that's why nothing is familiar. It makes sense now.
It actually worked. I've succeeded in what has been attempted for so long.
No. That's not true. The others were the first to succeed. Even if it was a mere day earlier than my own attempt, they were still the first.
Still, this does not matter. I have achieved my goal. I am here now.
But, I still have many questions. All of these questions demand an answer, yet I have none to offer.
I must find these answers.
I refuse to have these questions taint my mind.
My mind needs clarity before I may continue what I set out to do.
Ignorance is my enemy. I will not allow it to keep me in its grasp.
Answers must be found.