Chapter 3

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Solus stood in the center of a large, bare room devoid of windows, his nebulous form barely touching the dirt floor. Shadows closed in on every side and he could barely make out the double doors that provided the only means of escape. His master was in the room somewhere, but the shadows kept him hidden. Solus was about to undergo a transformation process called a Change, but he had no idea how he would be changed. If he still had a heart, it would be beating a hole in his chest to get out.

“Be at ease,” Andras called through the darkness, “The Change will not take long, and you will emerge stronger than ever before.”

Solus relaxed for just a moment before the familiar tightness engulfed him again and he momentarily fought the feeling of compression. But it was no use. His whisp of a body began to once more compact into a ball, the remnants of arms and legs disappearing into his body. He felt his head squish like a lemon for its juice. It didn’t matter that his form was just a smoke-like cloud, he still felt pain.

Then invisible hands took hold and began to form his clouded shape. He felt the substance of bones and muscle forming, and then reforming, as if his body were trying on a new suit. Then, rejecting it, the unseen force mashed up what it had done so it could start over. A searing light filled his mind as he endured being kneaded like clay.

After what could only be an eternity, his body solidified into a torso with a wide chest and tapered waist, long arms that ended with long fingers, and powerful legs with knees that bent the wrong way. Leathery skin wrapped itself around muscle. His fingers and toes were ripped open as razor sharp claws emerged from his still forming skin.

His face burned with an intensity of the sun. He felt his teeth burst from his gums and when he tried to close his mouth, he felt his lips being shredded by knives. He realized he could see, but his vision was different; sharp with edges that glowed with bright colors. Heavy eyelids formed, covering his sight, and he became aware that his sense of smell was different also. He could smell things like sulfur and earth, but he also smelled things that his new brain translated into hatred, anger, determination and fear.

The burning sensation moved down his body. Every inch of him was blistering in the heat and he felt thousands of needles stab him all over. His newly-formed skin along his back tore away as something exploded out from near his upper spine. 

Why?  Despair filled him. What did I do to deserve this torment?

A soundless scream burst from his throat, a vibrating sensation that started low and began to gain momentum. When his ears finally stopped burning, he realized the vibration was an unearthly howl. Unable to handle the pain any longer, he dropped to the ground, feeling the weight of his new form. 

 “You have been reborn,” Andras’s voice cut through Solus’s pain. “Stronger, faster, more cunning. These qualities will earn you your revenge.” Andras stepped from the shadows and placed his hand on his shoulder.

Solus looked at his inhuman hands and arms. The fingers were clawed and rough, with a thick fur covered in black blood from the knuckles up to his shoulders and disappearing down his back. Even his chest was covered, though not as thickly. He got up onto unsteady legs. With the new position of his knee joints, he had to relearn balance. His feet were longer and, like his hands, ended in dangerously sharp claws. He felt his face. His nose jutted out from an elongated jaw, teeth protruded from his lips. Following up towards his scalp he felt bristly folds of flesh. His ears.

A cruel smile formed on Andras’s lips as he waved his free hand in the air and conjured a large mirror, floating freely before Solus. The newly Changed soul looked upon himself with horror. He was like a wolf that escaped the very depths of the Underworld. His shaggy body was covered in a dark brown fur and large black feathered wings framed his deformity. His reflection stared at him in horror – eyes wide, nose flared, toothy mouth open in shock.

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