If it's not an adage, it ought to be: a lord asks no favor from a peasant. Yet there he was, in your own family's modest home, waving what used to be his hand in the air and looking at you with eyes full of supplication.
"You have proven yourself to be the ablest, cleverest, and wisest youth in the province, and it is to you we must turn to save us from this affliction, " insisted Lord Midel. He gestured with his transformed hand, which had become the paw of a lion, at the similarly changed appendages of your family members. Following the arc of his paw, you ended up looking down at your father's feet, changed into oxen hooves by the cruelty the wizard Marnian had inflicted on your poor province and everyone in it.
Your mother's dove wing fluttered anxiously as she looked at you through pained eyes, and said, "I fear for you, dear one, but perhaps you can find on your quest some means of restoring prosperity to our village, which has been too long poor." You gazed for the hundredth time at the too-worn, too-old cottage, at your transformed brother and sister, and at your own left hand, now the paw of a wolf, and finally turned to your lord, saying "There seems no other path. I accept your proposal."
Lord Midel clapped you on the shoulder and said, "It's settled then -- I believe you are the one who can save our people from this wearing of the claw. Find the Pendant of Elinor, as the wizard has demanded, and bring it back to me. It is the only thing that can save our province. Now come, for I am not without magic of my own."
You gathered your things, said a solemn farewell to your family, and followed Midel into the center of town, where he sprinkled a sparkling powder over you, and recited an incantation... and you suddenly found yourself alone on a dirt path, the cold wind assailing your face.
WEARING THE CLAW
An Interactive Fantasy
Copyright (c) 1996 by Paul O'Brian.
Release 2 / Serial number 961003 / Inform v1502 Library 5/12
IF Comp 1996: 8th place of 27 entries.