The afternoon light shined down upon a longsword as it struck down upon an anthro tiger. His yellow eyes were wide as his life left his body, yet not a drop of blood was dropped. The two anthro foxes, one red and the other slivery black with blue hair and silver highlights, stood before the fallen tiger with their weapons held tight.
The red fox kneeled at the tiger and the device he was holding to his death, its red lights flickering as it emitted sparks. The machine flashed and made some screeching sounds for several seconds before stopping, and the lights faded into darkness. The red fox looked up at the silver vixen, her wielding a longbow with glowing blue lines on it and her face sad.
“Another Nex Mutatio down,” the silver vixen said as the bow morphed into water and faded into her chest, where her heart is. “Yet, not without a cost. How many more of these machines exist throughout the multiverse, Daren?”
“I do not know, Zelda,” Daren replied as he stood up, with his longsword bursting into flames and fading into his chest as well. “The TF can only sense them when they activate, so I can bet that the number is far higher than what the systems show. Still, this is the only way we can find Fear.”
“Yes. Only then will this endless cycle of his corruption will stop,” Zelda said before she shook her head, her silver highlights within her hair looking as if they glowed in the sun. “Still, this is a downer way to end this day, isn’t it? And besides, you said that you came here to this universe before, and it was one of the more fun ones, right?”
“Oh, yeah,” Daren answered as he rubbed the back of his head.
It was only just a month ago since he was here for a week-long vacation, Daren noted in his head. This universe was one of the strangest ones he ever came to during his lifespan. It was one where the universe’s physics are akin to toony physics frequently seen in cartoons, like flattening someone, stretching them out, or even filling them up with breath air and watching them float away. Yet, they all turn out alright. There might be other differences between their original universe and this one, but it was only a weeklong stay, and the red fox was only there for a break, not for research.
Although he did have a flattening experience near the end of that trip.
Though he might be a denizen from another universe, with far different reality rules, Daren and Zelda’s Athrú biology allowed them to temporarily obey the rules of other worlds as long as they stay there. Of course, that also meant that they couldn’t use their own origin universe’s laws as a means to bypass any other universes’ laws even if they disagree. It also means that, if they found themselves in a magicless world, their own magical abilities will be limited to a few things. At least it kept Daren alive when he got flattened up as thin as paper right when that vacation ended.
It was during that time where Zelda had him go for weekly vacations in other universes with the help of the TF. He didn’t think he needed it, but she insisted, and the points she brought up about how the previous year went for him were hard to argue against. When the points involved a stressful year with his left arm and their first ‘vacation’ after his arm got cured morphed into a three month long stay in a war, it’s difficult to debate against a break of any kind.
The red fox turned to where the tiger lay and wasn’t surprised to see his body gone, with only the destroyed device remaining. “What do you suggest we do as long as we’re here in this world? Especially as long as the sun is up before we leave.”
Zelda’s lips curled into a foxy grin. “I suggest having as much fun as we can.”
Daren blinked as he looked back at Zelda. “Um, Zelda? Did you just-”
But the silver fox has turned and jogged away by that point, her hair bobbing with every step. He stood there, dumbfounded, for several seconds while his ears flattened back and his mouth crooked. The thought of running after her only crossed his mind after she disappeared from sight.
She must be sick, Daren thought while his eyes shook, with his head looking down at the wrecked Nex Mutatio. This isn’t like her at all. Zelda wouldn’t just run off and explore without having some form of reservation about anything. If anything, this is something HE would do while she brought up a list about everything that could go wrong, most of them being correct.
Daren then shook his head. His knees bend down as his eyes focused on the path ahead, where she went off to. His feet paws went off to a sprint-
-and he felt a sudden force crashing onto his back.
Daren stumbled forward as he crashed down onto the ground, face first. His ears twitched, and his tail fluffed up as he lifted his head off from the ground, no longer seeing dirt and grass since the fall. His eyes flinched as he shifted his limbs, feeling that the object behind him pinning them close to his sides. Daren blinked, feeling a sign of a shirt on that entity and realizing that it was an anthro.
Daren’s ears flickered as his eyes half-closed. “Aleph, is that you?”
The red fox heard a hum that sounded like a ‘yes,’ as his arms got released from that massive glomp. He sighed as he pressed his hands against the ground and pushed himself up, with the light blue wolf still half-hugging him and rubbing his back. Despite the awkward feeling and sudden meeting, Daren couldn’t help but laugh as he got back on his feet-paws and, twisting around, rubbed the wolf’s head.
Aleph soon let go of the red fox, with his arms and hands pressed together while the light blue shook with an eagerness that Daren doubted that anything could calm. This toony wolf, who Daren helped during the tail end of that vacation trip back last month and, by accident, caused his first and (so far) only flattening in this universe, stood before him, with his silver-grey tail tipped with the same light blue wagging behind him. His paws, plantigrades to contrast with Daren’s digitigrades paws, wore no shoes while his blue jeans brushed against the heels. Though Daren did notice one significant change since his last visit: the type of shirt he wore since they last met.
“I see that you’re wearing the Hawaiian shirt I gave you,” Daren said with a laugh, with the light blue wolf blushing.
“Yup! It's just so soft and amazing!” Aleph said as he rubbed the red with white tropical flowers button-up shirt with his hands. He gave out a wide grin as his tail wagged faster. “And I see that you got another version of that shirt as well!”
Daren nodded, looking at his own red aloha shirt, which hung open over his green shirt. “It’s a style that I love as well. Though I must say, I didn’t expect to see you here.”
Aleph nodded back as he grinning, pressing his hands against his hips. “Maf. I like to explore around the world, meet new people, and find new treasures. In fact, I heard that there was some sort of old device around in this area.” Aleph leaned to the side and looked behind Daren. “In fact, that object over there fits the report that I got.”
“Huh?!” Daren said as he turned around, only seeing the Nex Mutatio on the ground, slashed opened by his sword.
“Yup. I read somewhere that it was some kind of device that was once used by a line of rulers long ago, though it also said that they all went mad in various ways,” Aleph said as he walked past Daren and leaned over to the gutted machine. “Not to mention how they always led their regions to ruin by attacking a country far bigger and more powerful than them. I head that it was around here within one of these ruins, but it looked like someone destroyed it. I wonder why?”
Daren blinked as he felt a chill running through his back and the realization of what Aleph was talking about sets in. Of course, it’s natural that a megalomaniac would go insane and try to fight against someone far more powerful than themselves. Especially if they have some sort of secret tech or power that would give them an advantage. But it’s doubtful that history here ever realized that it was due to this Nex Mutatio for causing the rise and falls of rulers, with that tiger from before being the final in that line.
The fox swallowed as he shook his head, trying to think hard on what to say. He doesn’t wish to tell the wolf about his life story, which could fill several books, about his experiences with the Nex Mutatio, their creator, and the means to find them throughout the multiverse. It wasn’t just that it would be so long, but he doesn’t wish to darken his dear young friend with his bloody history filled with regrets and shame.
Aleph turned back at the red fox with a kind smile. “Though, given on how all of their owners got a bad end, I think it might be best that it did get destroyed. Must be some form of jinx, right?”
“Yeah, it was likely best that it got destroyed,” Daren said as he sighed in the inside.
“But that wasn’t the only reason why I came here,” Aleph said as his tail wagged some more. “You see, I heard that there were a couple of temples around here! I was going to explore them one at the time on my own, but now that I met you here, perhaps you can come with me!”
“Oh?” Daren said before his gaze turned to where Zelda had run off to. He felt a tug to follow her, to understand what caused her to explore this world on her own. It wasn’t like her at all to pull that kind of stunt.
And yet, he couldn’t leave Aleph here to explore those temples alone. And besides, he knew Zelda long enough to know that, whatever she encounters, she will be able to handle it herself.
“Sure. I can come,” Daren said with a strained grin.
“Yay! Thank you!” Aleph leaped up and down several times before he pounced Daren by the chest, with the red fox stumbling back while holding up the wolf.
“You’re welcome,” Daren said as he looked at Aleph’s yellow eyes and rubbed his ears. “Just one thing we’ll need to get before we go out to explore those temples.”
“Nice that you thought of getting an air tank before I did,” Aleph said, his tail wagging behind him. “Much like last time!”
Daren gave out a slight grin, patting the large air tank that he brought as a detour before coming to this temple. Even without firsthand knowledge on how Aleph got flattened so much during the last trip, so much that they ran out of air from a similar-sized tank, he would’ve thought it was a good idea. After all, hours ago, both Daren and Zelda encountered a huge Absol, at around 200 feet tall, with a green bandana and yellow eyes. This Absol didn’t seem to notice the two puny anthros as she stepped on some and knocked down other trees along the way. The trees themselves were either shattered into toothpicks or were flattened like a pancake. At least there were cabling around the area with a sign put up, indicating that a pathway was being made. Daren himself winced at the sight, the intro to what kind of universe they found themselves into, while Zelda right beside him had an odd expression on her face at the time.
“Much like last time,” Daren said as his head turned towards the temple. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
The temple right ahead of them stood at around 150 feet tall and about in a square, with ramps that evened out four times before they reached the top, though sloped in a way that made it difficult to climb up that way. The vines gripped against the pillars and walls tight, with cracks forming on them, as the doors ahead of them were some form of worn and yet sturdy stone, a different, darker shade of red to the temple’s walls. Even with the walls and the ceiling, those double doors remained as the least worn-down part of that temple.
Daren walked towards it before he pressed his hands against one of the two doors, applying force against it. The feet-paws dug deep into the ground as he pushed harder against the door, but it remained as is. His sea-blue eyes looked up at the door and ceiling above it, seeing only the top bits of what looked like symbols, or perhaps numbers, but his head turned down as the fox pressed more against the stubborn door. Half a minute pass of pushing and shoving before he stepped back, his arms sweaty along with his brow.
“Whew,” the red fox said as he shook his head, knocking away several drops of sweat off. “That there is heavy and sturdy. I wonder how those people of old could even move them.” His toes then flexed along with his feet-paws, with bone cracks emitting from them. “In any case-”
“It’s because the ceiling above it is holding down against the doors, keeping it in place,” Aleph said, his yellow eyes closed as his arms motioned ahead of him. “There’s also a device on that ceiling that makes sure that it doesn’t shatter the doors, but I’m not sure if it was due to worn down or because they set it up like that that it won’t release the doors. In any case, they saw little reason to undo it, so they must have decided to left it there.”
“Huh? How could you-” Daren asked as he turned towards Aleph, but stopped when he saw the wolf with his eyes closed and his hands holding onto some kind of blue and black fire that glowed. A memory was triggered in his head, remembering his last visit to this universe, as it helped answered his question. “Sorry. I forgot that you can use Aura.”
“It’s no big deal,” Aleph said as the ‘flames’ faded away, and his eyes opened, his eyes glowing blue for a second before returning to his normal yellow. “Still, that does leave us with the doors there that still need to be open.”
“Yeah,” Daren said as he turned towards the doors, his right leg feeling a sudden burst of energy. “As I was saying, I think it’s best to smash them down.”
“Yup. Maf,” Aleph said as he gave out a grin, pressed his right fist against his left palm, and cracked his fingers. “And I know just how to do it.”
“Huh?” Daren said as his head turned back at the smaller wolf, the energy burst within his legs fading. “Are you going to use an Aura Sphere?”
Aleph doesn’t answer as his eyes closed tight, his grin growing wider as his feet-paws dug into the ground. Daren tilted his head, one of his eyes half-closing, while an ear flattened to the side. He then opened his mouth again, only for the words to get caught in his throat as his eyes widened.
The light blue wolf before him, who was only a foot and a half shorter than Daren, grew to around Daren’s own height in a second. And yet, his growth hasn’t stopped as the red fox noticed other changes going on with the wolf’s body. His muscles, once just as thin as Daren’s own muscles, being mere skin and bones, expanded and pumped up. His pecks grew and widened up, with the aloha shirt popping open without losing a single button, as his abs became thick and defined. His arms thickened up with muscles along with his neck and back, with them looking as if a rifle meant to pierce tanks would have its bullets bounce off of him. His legs, once small and thin, expanded in size with the pants stretching out to fit the wolf’s new size.
Soon enough, Aleph stood before Daren at around nine feet tall, with the winds blowing the Hawaiian shirt as if it was a cape. The red fox took a step back, his eyes wide and his ears stood up and alert, as the massive wolf took a step towards the door, the ground forming paw-like craters with every step. The muscular wolf flexed his fingers as he gave out a mad grin, his hands smashing against one door each and gripping onto them tightly. Then, with no effort at all, the giant wolf ripped the doors off and flung them right over Daren’s head, too stunned to even move away while the air blew his hair back.
“Um, this is new,” Daren said, his sea-blue eyes straining to remain open.
“HAHA! Those doors were powerless against me!” Aleph said in a loud, booming voice, with his arms splayed out. He emitted a massive grin at the ceiling right above him-
-only for the roof to slam down onto him. Daren blinked as the vast, muscular wolf soon flattened against the ground, with the roof attached to some wooden machinery. Cracks formed around the impact area as the ceiling trap for a few seconds before it lifted itself up from Aleph, who is flat as a piece of paper.
“Even as some kind of werewolf, or whatever you just did, you are still the same trap prone wolf I know,” Daren said as he shook his head and picked up the five feet tall air tank.
The red fox took a step forward but paused as his eyes stared at the paper-like Aleph shaking on the ground. The flat wolf soon fluttered upwards from the floor before he POP himself back into shape, with his feet-paws slamming against the floor. The stone floor cracked, with paw-sized craters forming where the muscular wolf’s paws landed, as the entire temple shook, with Daren stumbling back.
“W-what the-” the red fox said as he steadied himself, dropping the air tank.
“MAF! I am UNSTOPPABLE!” Aleph declared as he turned back to Daren and flexed his muscles. Daren blinked, stunned that despite the enormous levels of physique changes done to his own body, the light blue wolf is still just as adorable as before, perhaps even more so. As Daren raised a finger, Aleph then bounced against the walls within the entrance, each of his impact forming fewer cracks than the last. Soon, Aleph leaped out of the entranceway and stood before the red fox, his body restored to normal with even the buttons on his aloha shirt buttoned up again.
“Um,” Daren said, staring at the wolf’s swirling eyes.
“Maf,” Aleph said, stumbling right and left before he shook his head. “That was fun!”
“What did you just do, and how did you do it?” Daren asked, one of his ears flattened to the side as he stared at the now smaller wolf.
“That was my toon star form, my big bad wolf!” Aleph answered with a cheeky grin. “For as long as a half-hour or so, I can pump myself into a strong wolf who can do impossible things, even getting flattened and unflattened at will. I’m just embarrassed to show it to people.” Aleph rubbed the back of his head as he stuck out a tongue, blushing. “Maf. Plus, I can get strange.”
“Uh, huh,” Daren said as he looked up at the reddening sky. “Perhaps Jung isn’t as much as a quack after all.”
“Who’s young?” Aleph asked as he half-closed one of his eyes.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Daren said with a shrug. “I was just talking to myself then. In any case, I think we should explore that temple while we still have sunlight.”
“Yup!” Aleph said as he hopped a bit and wagged his tail. He then walked forward towards the open entrances, his paws brushing aside the shattered stone, as Daren picked up the air tank and followed behind him, with the red fox struggling not to smile at all of the silliness. He almost forgot how lively this place can be, even if he doesn’t think he belonged here. He took a few steps into the entrance before pausing for a few seconds and looked up and round the ceiling traps. His sea-blue eyes saw multiple cracks and multiple shards of stone missing due to Aleph’s impact, and yet the numbers 189, carved into the ceiling, were still visible. He then shrugged before following the toony wolf, hearing an impact ahead and an echo of one world. “Maf.”
The hour flew by as the two travelers journeyed through and up the temple, with their progress slow. While this temple wasn’t even half the size of the ‘Temple of Pancakes’ that they went through previously, it was stuffed with far more traps from top to bottom. And unlike the previous temple, this one has more variety regarding how the traps played out.
“Maf?!” Aleph said as he wiggled against a pair of ropes that grabbed onto one of his legs each and stretched them out in opposite directions, his eyes wide while pressing against the ground.
Daren chuckled a bit before he drew out his katana and, with a speed that could outrun a car and a couple of slashed that sliced into the stone ground as well as through the ropes, released the trapped wolf. “Doing alright there, buddy?”
“Aleph’s eyes spun a bit before he shook the dizziness away. “Maf. Yup!” He then looked over at his legs, which are ten feet and twelve feet long each and spread wide apart from each other. “But I don’t know how I can walk like this.”
The red fox rubbed his chin for a second as he sheaved his katana at the right hip, with an idea clicking into his head. He walked up to one of the legs and grabbed onto it, lifting it up. He then turned and dragged it so that it was placed in front of Aleph and did the same with the other leg. He then gave out a grin as he picked up the shorter of the two legs. “Hold onto the ground, please.”
Aleph blinked, his yellow eyes wide while he sweated and with his expression looking concerned, yet he grabbed onto the ground behind him all the same. The light blue wolf cried out as his leg got stretched out again, stretching as long as his other leg. He blinked more when he saw Daren picked up the other leg and pulled both now, with the wolf holding onto the floor tighter. The wolf winced, with rubbery, stretchy sounds emitting from his legs while they stretched out beyond twenty feet before the red fox grinned wider.
“This might hurt a bit,” Daren said as he let go of the legs.
“MAF?!” Aleph said as the legs snapped back at him, striking him hard. His grip loosened as he flew back against the wall behind him, hitting it with his head. Aleph’s arms flailed against the light red walls, rubbing against the cracks the impact made, yet his head remained unseen. He then slid down the wall, his back against it, yet his head remained flat, his eyes spiraling.
Daren approached the flat-headed wolf, rubbing the side of his muzzle as his eyes looked over Aleph. He thought for a few seconds as to how to assist his little friend in this case without using the air tank since it was getting low on air before an idea struck him. The red fox walked up to the light blue wolf and helped him back up onto his feet-paw before grabbing onto his tail tip as the wolf winced. Daren looked at the flat head while turning the tail like some form of a crank, and the head soon expanded upwards again, refilling itself back to normal. The wolf shook his head as he held onto his forehead.
“Maf,” Aleph said before he looked up at Daren. “Thanks a lot! That’s just like my Pokémon friend did to help me long ago.”
“That’s nice to hear,” Daren said as he looked over at the hallway upwards, which should lead them to the very top of this temple. He mentally sighed within his head, annoyed that he couldn’t detect the traps as well as last time. The traps placed within this one, in comparison to the ‘Temple of Pancakes,’ were more well-crafted in how it hid its triggers. Not to mention that, due to the lack of previous explorers like last time, there weren’t any clues to indicate that there was a trap nearby. Even so, the red fox felt that he should have known better.
“Yup. A-Ninetales really helped me with making sure that I stayed out of trouble,” Aleph said as he walked ahead of the red fox, walking upwards in the hallway. “And helped me out when I do get into trouble. Wish we could’ve encountered each other yesterday when he was here. I bet you would’ve been great friends with him.”
“A-Ninetales,” Daren said, more to himself as he rubbed the golden A on his belt.
“Yup! He is a nice Ninetales who can be massive,” Aleph replied while wagging his tail. “Him along with his friend, Saria.”
Daren’s eyes flinched at the names and descriptions mentioned. “That sounds interesting. Say, he wouldn’t be able to hop between universes, would he?”
“Maf,” Aleph said as he rubbed his chin with his thumb and index finger extended, his eyes rolled upwards. “Now that you mentioned it, he can due to that badge of his developed by that green kitsune. Saria also can since she now has a badge and bandana by him. And he came here for a visit as a bit of a break from training. Wouldn’t explain much, but he mentioned that it involves a Vulpix. Why?”
Daren turned aside, his eyes averted from the wolf. “I was just curious. But that is interesting news, to say the least.”
Aleph’s eyes turned back at the red fox, but he soon realized that the red fox wasn’t interested in opening up yet as his ear flicked.
The two then reached the end of the hallway with no other trap triggered as the red fox looked around. Although Daren liked it when the path ahead was smooth, it was unusual for a temple as loaded with traps as this one suddenly became lenient with the amounts of traps by the end. The floor leveled down flat as they reached the arch doorway and looked inside the room. His arm flexed outward as a flame appeared and fused into a longsword while his eyes looked within.
The room was a small one, at least bedroom size, and with little else outside of a pedestal at the center of the room. The brick walls, light red, showed various signs of worn due to neglect as the light shimmered downwards from the hole above the pedestal. The sky through the hole revealed red with hints of blue and a couple of white stars shining through the horizon.
Daren’s eyes looked around some more but couldn’t see anything else. He felt something rumbled, and he thought he heard a crack, but it doesn’t feel like it came from this temple at all. “Aleph, could you use your Aura powers to detect any traps.”
Aleph nodded as hie closed his eyes and extended his arms, with black and blue energy flames appearing on his palms. He moved them around while his ears stood up straight. A minute passed before the ‘flames’ faded away, the arms lowered down, and his eyes opened up with a brief glow. “Sorry. I couldn’t see any traps here.”
No traps?” Daren asked, his stomach tensed as he looked around. “Are you sure about that? Have you even checked below that pedestal? And what about that rumble?”
“Maf,” Aleph replied as he nodded. “I checked even under there. But I didn’t see anything here. It’s just a clean room. That rumble must have been from outside the temple. After all,” Aleph pointed up at the hole, “we now have an opening out of here.”
“Huh,” Daren said as the Spiorad burst into flames, and it entered back into his heart. His eyes then looked ahead at the pedestal, and they noticed an unusually large red gem on it attached to a silver chain like some form of a necklace. The red fox then looked around some more, looking for any sort of clue, but there wasn’t even any writing left behind. Just a big red jewel at the top of this temple.
“Maf,” Aleph said as he shook in place, his arms pressed close to each other. “At least this means that we can take the treasure without any danger, right?”
“I guess, but I’ll take it first. OK?” Daren said as he placed down the air tank and walk forward to the pedestal. “I really don’t want a repeat like last time.”
“Awww. OK, then!” Aleph said as he saluted Daren with a broad, cheeky grin.
Daren couldn’t help but chuckled for a second as he walked over to the pedestal. His digitigrade paws tiptoed down the brick flooring, his claws tapping on it, while his eyes darted over from side to side. So far, no sign or a trigger or even a trap, and yet he felt a chill rolling down his spine like an ide cube tucked down his shirt, but less wet.
Soon enough, the red fox stood right in front of the pedestal, where sat that red gem the size of a fist. Daren’s hand slipped into the back, underneath his Hawaiian shirt and, while his eyes pointed ahead, his fingers felt leather wrapping around a wooden handle. He pulled on it, and it exited out without a sound from underneath his shirt along with a silvery blade it was attached to. The edge was then pointed at the golden chain as sweat formed on his brow, wiggling the knife underneath the chain. He then lifted it up along with the chain it was attached to before he jumped several feet back in half a second.
The fox’s eyes darted around the room, but there was nothing. No ceiling collapsing down on top of him or even all around the room, no walls crashing in, no floor opening up and consuming him whole. Heck, even the pedestal remained as is with no changes happening to it.
Daren gave out a sign before he felt a tight hug right around and underneath his chest. “Maf! You’re alright!”
“Yup. Thank goodness,” Daren said as his eyes darted down at the knife and the necklace around it. “Though I must say, after all those traps, getting to this treasure without even one final trap feels anticlimactic. Not to say that I wanted a trap added to the end where it can flatten or even kill me,” Daren added as he looked back at Aleph with an embarrassed grin. “Just that I was expecting something more. Or at least far more treasure than this gem.”
“I think that gem is fine,” Aleph responded with a kind smile while he wagged his tail. “And I think it’ll look good on you. Why don’t you put it on?”
“Er,” Daren said as he looked back at the gem, the red surfacing reflecting brilliant lights all around. The golden chain is long enough that it can go over his head and sit on his neck and yet felt light enough to not cause any issues. However, even after the anticlimax of getting this jewel, the stress within his guts remained. His sea-blue eyes looked over at the eager wolf’s own yellow eyes that begged for him to put it on, and he sighed. “Sure. Just be careful if this is the real trap.”
“Yep!” Aleph said while he took some steps away from the red fox, huffing up his skinny chest.
Daren gave out a low hum as his fingers grabbed onto the golden chain, his knife lowering and coming back into the sheave underneath his aloha shirt before fading away. His fingers rubbed over the chain, with it feeling cool despite it likely spending a couple of hours underneath the sun. Come to think of it, Daren noted as he rubbed the red stone, it doesn’t look or feel any signs of wear or damages despite it being exposed to the elements. His stomach tightened, yet he still raised his head and carried the necklace around it until it lays around the back of his neck.
The gem gave out a slight glow as the red fox winced. “Just when I realized it. This gem has some magical properties.”
“Oh?” Aleph said, stars shining in his eyes as he looked at the gem. “What sort of powers will you get?”
Daren blinked at the wolf, his mind wondering why he is so excited about it even after all of the traps they went through. Still, if nothing goes too wrong, he should be alright. He looked at the passageway to get out of here, and his eyes widened. Just a moment ago, the arch of that doorway was only a couple of feet taller than the red fox, but now his hair and ears would brush by it.
“What’s going on?” Daren asked as he looked over at his hands.
“Oh, wow!” Aleph said while wagging his tail. “You’re growing! I wonder how big you’re going to get.”
“I-I don’t know-” Daren said before he gained another surge of growth, his head slamming against the stone ceiling. He winced, bending down and rubbing his head while one of his eyes looked up at the ceiling, seeing cracks formed where his head impacted it. He looked over at the smaller wolf as he sat down, and be blinked as he surged in size, now doubled his height. “I don’t think I’ll stop soon, though!”
“Woah!” Aleph said as he rubbed the fox’s massive foot-paw. “This is amazing!”
Daren stared at the light blue wolf for a second before his next growth spurt happened, his paws slamming against the opposite wall with the doorway in between. The temple shook from the impact as he groaned, seeing paw-shaped craters where his feet-paws slammed against on the wall. He looked up at the ceiling, which looked closer to his head than before he put on that necklace, before he vibrated and grows again. His back slammed against the stone pedestal and shattered it as if it was fragile wood while his eyes darted all around the shrinking room.
Daren looked over at Aleph, between his two massive paws, and grunted as he reached over to the wolf. “Hang on!”
The growing red fox held Aleph close against his chest with one arm while pressing his other hand against the ceiling, cracks forming around his palm and fingers. His body expanded in size again, his back slamming against the wall while his head rubbed against the top. He gritted his teeth as his eyes looked up, feeling massive pressure against his head. There are plenty of cartoons that Daren saw in his life regarding macro growth that showcase the toon breaking out of the building with ease like hatching from an egg.
He hoped that it’s like those kinds instead of the ones where the room crushes him instead.
The red fox grunted as he shot up in size, the room rumbling against the growing fox as his legs winced from the pressure. His eyes darted forward and gritted his teeth as he pressed down against the wall. It soon gave away, like a popsicle stick snapped by an ax, just as he expanded in size again, with his head cracking through the ceiling.
Daren gave out a loud yelp that was heard for miles, his muzzle holding onto some debris. He looked ahead and just managed to see his black feet-paws and the air tank flying into a tree out in the distance as he grew again, soon cracking out from the top of the temple. He shook his head of any more debris the size of boulders before looking down at Aleph. The wolf hung against the red fox’s arm and chest with a happy face and a wagging tail while Daren blinked. He looked around, feeling large with his height around fifty feet with his rear sitting on what remained of the treasure room before his body vibrated again.
Daren blinked before his body gave out a massive surge in size, his body crushing the entire temple with his huge mass. He gave out a louder yelp, falling on his back and now feeling any major or even minor damages done to him. Not even his clothes, which grew with him, where harm during his growth. He gave out a massive sigh, tripling to a hundred and fifty feet tall as his muzzle pointed over at the light blue wolf, who has stars in his eyes.
“Woah~!” Aleph said, lifting half of his body up against Daren’s black forearm while grinning wide. “That was awesome, Daren! I knew it was a good idea to explore there with you!”
Daren gave out a small smile. “Sorry. I’m not used to being this big. But I’m glad that you’re alright despite all of the damages I’ve done there.”
“It’s no worries, especially since we got that gem,” the light blue wolf with an aloha shirt said, wiggling off from Daren’s arm and walking up to the red gem, now more massive than the wolf’s entire body. He rubbed it with a hand, feeling the smooth surface. “And I thought that you needed some cheering up.”
Daren tilted his head a bit before shrugging. “I was upset, but you brightened up my day. Well, evening, I supposed. But at least we haven’t got flatten together like last time.”
“If you say so,” Aleph said with a slight disappointment in his tone before he looked above. “What’s that falling down onto us right behind you?”
“What?” Daren said while looking up.
A black paw, far more massive than Daren’s entire body, crashed down onto the two, with a shockwave felt for hundreds of miles.
“Oops. Guess I overdid it there.”
The black paw lifted from Daren and Aleph’s body, both of their eyes spinning from the sudden impact. Their bodies, both paper flat, lay there within the paw crater, with Daren groaning and Aleph giving out a maf. The ground shook as Daren felt his body getting peeled off by a huge black hand. Daren’s eyes spun before looking ahead, yet his vision was still blurry from the impact. The most he could see was black, white, and blue.
“Hold still,” a lady’s voice said as Daren blinked, knowing it. He tried to open his jaw, only to feel something clamp shut around it. Soon, Daren felt a massive amount of pressure as the red fox felt air flowing into his mouth and throughout his body. A few seconds passed before his body popped back to normal, and he gave out a large gasp, pushing away from the large lips and looking up at the gigantic vixen’s head.
“ZELDA?!” Daren yelled out, his sea-blue eyes wide while his ears pointed up.
“The one and only,” Zelda replied, and she gave out a giggle. “Must say, you look unusually small for a macro such as yourself.”
Daren’s cheeks blushed. “H-hey! That’s not fair! And how did you get that huge anyway?”
“From the looks of it, the same way you did. Through exploring a temple and finding a gem, though the one I found was blue,” Zelda answered, and Daren looked down at her neck and chest, seeing a silver chain necklace with a large blue gem on it. “An Absol led me there. I admit that I always wanted to be a macro, but even if Alex did figure out some way to bypass the square-cube law, it would be massively unsafe and destructive, costing hundreds of lives with just a move of an arm. But, in this universe where physics is far more flexible, there would be little if any lives lost.”
Daren blinked some more as the far more massive vixen lifted him up and placed him on her muzzle. The red fox moved from side to side, feeling rather small despite being a macro himself. He looked out to the side and see hundreds of feet of distance between himself and the ground before he flopped back. The vixen’s deep blue eyes looked at the startled fox and giggled again.
“My, my. You’re unusually shy and scared,” Zelda said with a grin, moving her finger above the red fox’s bead and rubbing his ears with a claw. “What’s the matter?”
“Um,” Daren said before realization struck him. “Aleph! Where is he?”
“Maf,” a voice said, and the red fox looked down at his chest, seeing the flattened wolf planted against it. He gave out a grimaced before he wedged a claw between the flat wolf and his shirt until Aleph popped off and fluttered onto the nail. Daren raised up the claw to his muzzle and place the light blue wolf where he can see him.
“Are you alright, Aleph?” Daren asked, his sea-blue eyes wide as he looked at the paper wolf.
The wolf with a Hawaiian shirt wiggled before he rolled himself up back to his feet, causing the red fox’s eyes to widen even more. “I’m alright here. Is that massive roller still around?”
“Er,” Daren said as his eyes darted back at the amused vixen for a second. “You can say that. But how can you still stand like that?”
“You showed me how,” Aleph answered, rubbing his flat hand against the back of his head. “Remember? When we got flattened at that temple last month, and you carried us out of there? You showed me that it was possible, so I’ve been training in various ways to move while flat. What do you think, maf?”
“That’s actually pretty cool,” Daren replied with a small smile. “Though I rather have you back to normal. I do hope that the air tank is alright and didn’t shatter upon landing on that tree.”
“You’re not very used to this kind of universe, are you?” Zelda asked in a mocking tone, with a tongue sticking out.
“What do you mean?” Daren asked before the ‘ground’ shook, and he grabbed onto Zelda’s muzzle fur.
“If this is a toony universe,” Zelda explained as she bent forward and reached out at a tree, “then that means that every person and thing here is far more flexible to any damages that might happen.” She grinned as she plucked up a metal object between her claws and lifted it up to the small fox on her muzzle. “And that would mean-”
“The air tank!” Daren said, seeing the air tank lowered down before him. He grabbed it off from her claws, the tank tiny to him as if he was holding a toy, and placed it near the flat wolf standing on his muzzle. Daren then, with nimble fingers, stuffed the hose into Aleph’s mouth and turned the valve, with it popping off from the force. The red fox winced as he watched the light blue wolf expand with air until he popped back into shape, just as the air ran out. “Feeling better, Aleph?”
“Maf,” Aleph said, his eyes spiraling before he shook it away and restored to his regular yellow eyes. “Never better! And I see that your friend is here as well.”
“Oh, yeah,” Daren said as he looked back at the far larger vixen. “This is Zelda, Aleph. Zelda, this is Aleph.”
“Hello,” Zelda said as she gave a small wave to the two on her muzzle. “Daren told me a lot about you from his last trip to this universe. You did tell him that we’re from another universe, right, Daren?”
“Um, I don’t think I directly mentioned it to him?” Daren answered as he blushed and rubbed the back of his head.
“It’s no worries. I sort of guessed that he wasn’t from this world anyways,” Aleph said as he stuck his tongue out and rubbed the back of his head, with both foxes watching him in confusion. “I mean, it was easy to tell from how awkward he acted from any form of flattening taps even if only fell into one. Plus, a bunch of my friends travels across worlds anyways like A-Ninetales, so I knew that it was possible.”
“A-Ninetales,” Zelda said as her eyes looked at Daren, who nodded back. “That is very interesting. But anyways, do you wish to learn how to properly control your macro power, Daren?”
“What do you mean?” Daren asked as he blinked, with Aleph looking back at him. “Isn’t this the largest I can get?”
“Only because you were too shy to continue growing after a point,” Zelda replied as she pressed her finger against Daren’s nose. “You can actually grow up to this size once you put your mind to it. And besides, it’s fun.”
“If you say so,” Daren said and smiled when he saw Aleph hugging his muzzle.
A day passed by, with the three of them testing out the gems’ power, seeing how big they can grow them. Indeed, when Daren did put his mind to it, he could become as large as Zelda herself up to 1000 feet. Aleph, when he placed it on, was the largest of them all who once accidentally squished them both under his foot-paw. Still, they all had a good laugh and, when the time came for Daren and Zelda to leave, they both hugged Aleph at their standard height and they went their separate way, towards the sunset.
“Must say, I haven’t seen that side of you, Zelda,” Daren said as he rubbed the back of his neck.
Zelda giggled as she grabbed onto the red fox’s arm and hugged it. “Same with you. I guess this place really brought out the other side of us.”
“Yeah,” Daren said with a shrug. “In any case, you did leave the gems back with Aleph, right?”
“Yeah, yeah, I did,” Zelda said with her tone a bit higher than usual. Daren looked at her with an eyebrow higher than the other as the silver vixen sweated.
Aleph waved at them, his mouth opened wide in a massive smile while his tail wagged. He watched the two foxes disappear from his sight before his ears twitched, hearing movements beside him. He looked to the side and saw an Absol with yellow eyes walking out from the bushes, wearing a green bandana which held onto a custom Explorer’s badge. The Absol then stood against the wolf’s hand before the wolf laughed and rubbed her head.
“You did well, Saria,” Aleph said as he went down to his knees and petted her more.
“You’re welcome,” Saria answered with a grin. “It wasn’t easy to lead that silver vixen to that other temple, but it worked. Though, if I may ask, why do you want them to find those macro granting gems?”
“Why? To be honest, it was to cheer them up,” Aleph answered while rubbing the back of his head. “I noticed how upset they were when they put down that tiger. Not sure why they did so, though they did mention words like ‘Nex Mutatio’ and I did know that all of the previous owners of that treasure went mad, so that might be the reason. And when I saw Zelda getting excited about having fun in this world, I thought it might be a sweet treat for them.”
Saria looked forward and nodded. “That’s sweet of you. In any case, I saw you slipping in those gems to that vixen.”
“To be honest, she asked for them,” Aleph said as he raised both hands and pressed them against the back of his head. “She asked for them, and I saw how much she had fun with them. Even Daren had plenty of fun, even if he is still unsure about this world. So, I agree and gave them to her while Daren wasn’t looking.”
Aleph walked away while the Absol laughed, the wolf walking passed a tree with the numbers 189 engraved on the bark. Though the number 9 on it was crossed off and, just below it, was scratched on another 8. Saria looked at the numbers with her left eye wider than her right one before following the light blue wolf.
“You wouldn’t happen to be the one who wrote those numbers on that tree, right?”
30 July 2020 at 07:01:40 MDT
Here is another commission request I got from alephgon, this one being a sequel to Daren and the Temple of Pancakes. Of course, outside of some nods, it should still make sense even if you didn't read the first one. It was also a bit of a struggle to write it down since I write the rough draft on my laptop at work and things like to mess with me this month (getting kicked out of conference/training room because an employee came in sick and had to be 'quarantine' until her ride takes her home, having the room taken over by a manager meeting of some sort, trouble connecting to the building's internet, etc.). So, it was kind of cathartic that I completed the final draft this morning just before work.
In any case, enjoy!