chapter 32: horsing around

After shooing the two of them out of the room, I glanced around our bedroom with mild dissatisfaction. This wasn’t nearly enough room for me to practice moving as a centaur. Closing my eyes, I tried to do what I had seen Terra do several times before. She was able to rearrange the entire Admin Room with but a thought, and had told me that I possess the same power as well. So, focusing, I tried to imagine the current room as a wide open field. 

When I opened my eyes, I was surprised to find that my little experiment had worked. No more were the walls of the bedroom blocking me in. Gone was the giant, soft bed that I enjoyed lying in whenever the opportunity arose. Now, the land around me was filled with tall grass, gently swaying in the breeze. 

“Great… Now, let’s get started.” I said to myself, before trying to take a step forward with my front right leg, then back left leg. Oh god, no! My leg doesn’t bend like that! I thought as pain erupted in my hind legs, and I tumbled to the side. 

As I had been used to walking with a certain type of leg my whole life, suddenly changing that was… difficult. While a horse’s front legs may be similar enough to what I was used to that I could control them, the back legs were the exact opposite. Bending my back legs, it felt like I was trying to twist my knees in a direction they were never meant to go. 

Well… now I was on the ground, so walking was out of the question. And, since I had fallen onto my side, I had enough room to practice stretching out and bending all of my horse legs. Really, though, the front legs felt almost like arms, with how they moved. 

After a few minutes of adjusting to how my new legs worked, I felt confident enough to stand up. Using one of my arms to push up, I rolled my lower body onto my stomach. Next, I extended my front two legs out to serve as a brace, while pushing my hind legs up. 

Slowly but surely, I found my way to my feet. I still felt unsteady, but at least I knew that I could get back up if I fell down. Now, let’s try this again. Front right leg, back left leg, front left leg, back right leg… repeat. Although each movement was shaky, with both my arms spread out to try and balance myself, I managed to slowly walk forward. 

“Okay… next, let’s try to pick up the speed a bit.” I said with a sigh, once I managed to start walking at a steady pace. I gradually picked up speed, walking faster and faster until either both my back left and front right legs, or my back right and front left legs were off the ground at the same time. This should be what is known as a trot, right? 

My knees still felt uneasy bending in this way, but it was nowhere near as unpleasant as that first step had been. Finally, I did my best to speed up further, moving to a full gallop. For this, my back right leg touched down first, pushing off while both my back left and front right legs touched down to balance me, finishing with my front left leg coming down and pushing off again. 

After a minute of running like this, and feeling the wind through my hair, I almost tripped again when a message window appeared in front of me. 

You have earned a personal achievement! 

For familiarizing yourself with a body type sufficiently different from your own, you have earned the Flexible achievement. Body Familiarity unlocked.

I smiled slightly, slowing down to a walk as I read the message. According to Grimor, this achievement would make it so that I could easily become familiar with various body types in the future. While not supremely useful now, such a quality could be a great deal of help in the future. 

With that taken care of, I focused on returning the area around me to the bedroom I had previously been using, before changing my body back to normal as well. I felt unsteady on my feet for a brief moment when I returned to just two legs, but that feeling quickly passed. With a sigh of relief, I went to see how the others were doing. 

In the next room, I found Terra and Aurivy playing dress-up again. This time, the smaller goddess was wearing a cute schoolgirl uniform, with a blue skirt that went down just above her knees and a white long sleeved shirt. “Muuu… big sis!” She complained as she looked at herself in the mirror. 

“Oh, come on. Just a few more.” Terra said with a large grin. Noticing me in the mirror, she turned and gave me a playful wink. “Done horsing around now, and ready to get back to work?” 

I chuckled lightly at the pun, but shook my head. “Nothing incredibly major happening right now that needs my attention. Probably going to talk with Tryval for a moment, and then fast forward. That should give the centaurs some time to get oriented before we make more drastic changes.” I then thought to myself. Depending on Tryval’s ability as a leader, I might not even need to particularly interfere for the thousand year period. I’ll need to figure out his plans for the centaurs when I call him up. 

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Terra, listening to my words, nodded her head. “That sounds like a good idea. You still have a long way to go before the world can be brought together, and the races united. Until then, it will either be a case of waiting for the world to eventually advance on its own, or playing an active role to balance things out.” 

Well, from what all the other Keepers had told me, the latter was definitely the most beneficial. Even if I drastically raised the level limit and simply fast forwarded far enough, I could enter the games within a week. However, I would not be able to freely control the amount of power I’d have as a Keeper, and would be severely under-trained. Speaking of… “There is one more thing I was wanting to ask you about.” 

“Hmm?” Terra glanced over to me, about to move to Aurivy’s wardrobe, likely to find her another outfit. 

“How can I hide my Keeper powers a bit better? The family I met before seemed… almost like they could feel it. I certainly never expected them to behave that obediently.” 

Terra gave a small smile, pulling one outfit out of the wardrobe. This one looked like a uniform for a small witch, consisting of tiny black robes and a matching pointed hat. “That, huh? Well, it certainly would become a problem later, once people are able to piece together what it means.” 

Giving a small nod, she laid the outfit on Aurivy’s bed, before pulling the small girl up into her lap to hug while she spoke. “The matter of training yourself to hide your Keeper status is fairly simple. You just have to be able to determine what powers come from yourself, and what ones come from being a Keeper. After that, imagine a wall between the two. Now, that wall won’t do you any good if you start pulling from your Keeper powers, so you’ll need to be careful to only use your personal abilities.” 

“Put me down~!” Aurivy cried out pitifully in Terra’s lap, flailing her short arms to try to get free while the older goddess explained. 

“Of course, this doesn’t apply to your health, so that one will simply take a bit of acting. You’ll need to pretend that injuries are as bad as they appear, and maybe even play dead when your health would normally be depleted.” Terra continued, completely ignoring Aurivy’s attempt to free herself. 

“That… sounds pretty simple, actually.” Honestly, I had been expecting to go through another set of hellish training with Terra when I brought it up. But, I much prefer this answer! “Well, can you call up Tryval? I’m about to go pause the world so I can talk with him without his unicorn ladies noticing he’s missing.” 

Terra nodded in response, so I turned and went back to my room, quickly finding the option to pause that Time Zone. Almost as soon as I did, I heard hooves hitting the floor behind me. “What do you require, my liege?” Turning around, I saw Tryval in all his glory, standing in front of me with his arms crossed at his chest. 

Only allowed on

“Let’s talk for a bit. Some things I need you to understand, and other things I need to hear from you.” He gave a passive nod to what I said, so I started. 

“First, what is your plan for the centaurs? This is something I need to know, so that there won’t be conflicts, and can either aid you or correct you if needed.” Tryval wasn’t born with system knowledge like Terra was, so he only has what he has seen, or what thoughts I put in him when I made him. 

There was another brief nod before Tryval began speaking. “First, I will raise a family with the two women I have accepted as my priestesses. Once the family is large enough, I intend to showcase their power to the wandering herds as they fall to danger. At the same time, I will keep on the lookout for other variants born that I may take into the family, if their parents would not have them.” 

I nodded my head as I listened to his words. “And what are you going to do about the parents who would rather kill their variant offspring?” Although I had not witnessed such actions firsthand, the fact that not a single pegasus centaur was alive was a strong indicator that it happened. 

Tryval’s face darkened. “They will be warned beforehand. If they do not heed that warning, and a parent still dares to harm their foal, I will not be merciful. No parent should do such a thing to a child, simply for being born.” 

Well, I liked his logic, but not how far he was preparing to go. “How about this? Send the warning to every centaur of the world, and then do so again in another fifty years. At first, they will fear your wrath, especially if a herd or two disobey you. But, once a few variants begin appearing, things might get better for them. After that, you can showcase your unicorn family.” 

Tryval considered my words for a few moments. “Very well, my liege. I will follow your words. I will strive to raise my herd high enough in that period.” 

I nodded, and then a thought occurred to me. “What are you going to do about the offspring for the twins? I mean, they’ll need breeding partners, too, won’t they?” 

Tryval didn’t even hesitate before giving his answer. “Naturally, if there are no suitable stallions for the task, I shall take care of it myself. It is important to continue the lineage.” 

“Wait, wait, wait, no!” I violently shook my head, waving my arms in front of me. “Denied, not allowed. New rule, the father shall not breed the daughter. This rule must be kept!” It might sound wrong of me to want to enforce modern day morals onto an archaic society, but I can’t help it! Fathers can’t do that! 

“Pardon, my liege?” Tryval looked at me in confusion. “Then, what is it I am supposed to do? As you said, I need to raise the herd. If I am not an active breeding partner beyond the first generation, there is a chance that there might not be any males born.” 

“Well… find someone! Use a son from the other twin if you have to, at least that way they’re only half-siblings. Or, find a willing male centaur. But, fathers can’t mate with their daughters! Completely not allowed!” 

Tryval had a troubled look on his face as he listened. “Very well, my liege. I shall do my best to uphold your words. You said there were things you needed to tell me, as well?” 

Distraction sighted, and accepted! “That’s right. I need to show you some things.” Reaching down to my computer desk, I grabbed my book of spells to hand to Tryval. “Unicorn variants, and the so far unseen qilin variants, are both extremely talented in magic. Memorize these spells, and begin training the twins. When their children are born and ready to train, have their mothers teach them. Assuming, of course, that they are born as the same variant.” 

Tryval accepted the book, slowly looking through it. After a few long minutes of committing the patterns within to memory, he handed it back. “My thanks. I shall follow your words in this matter, as well. Is there anything else you require of me?” 

I thought about it, but shook my head. “That should be all. I’ll be speeding up the world after I send you back, and see how things look in a few years.” He gave me a brief nod, before again vanishing into thin air. With a shrug, I turned around and resumed the Time Zone. Let’s see how this ends up, then.

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