20-something cheetah shapeshifter with a penchant for plants, cats, and 'investigation'.
Magic: My magic is tied to Africa (and its people), the savannah, and the cheetah. If any one is eliminated, I suffer. If two are removed, I loses my magic. If all three are destroyed, I am as well, literally becoming unwoven. And whenever acts of great destruction are taken against any three, I suffers emotional and physical agony. When the Rwanda genocide happened, I literally sweat blood, becoming tainted by its impurity. When cheetahs were massacred during the Kalahari Episode, I couldn’t shift for days. When the savannah is bulldozed, I lose some of my ability to control my emotions. And it is getting worse. I can only adapt so far. The cheetah may be adaptable, but it is specialized nonetheless.
An interesting thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m around things that would be in my native environment, I find using my abilities easier- and African animals and plants, particularly ones from the savannah, find it easier to survive around me. It seems I gain energy from them and they gain energy from me. And my power skyrockets around another cheetah.
Once, some fool attacked a cat. Cats are from Egypt and descended from the noble African wildcat; no matter how many people have forgotten it, the cats never have. When I knelt down next to the cat after rending that fool with my own claws, I could feel myself growing weaker, and the cat grew stronger. Eventually we seemed to equalize, and I was able to treat the cat and myself back to full health. The cat didn’t seem really to be healed, mind you, but it certainly was made more comfortable.
My primarily ability is, of course, the ability to shapeshift into a cheetah. This magic was taught to me by my parents, and inherited as my birthright. Because I was taught it at an early age, I am a blend of cheetah and human behaviors, emotions, and intellect. Changing was my first lesson. Learning to control my emotions was the second. Thank Bast- after all, if there is a diety, she is definitely a cat- for ambient space music. It was invaluable, and I still listen to it or remember it in my head when I need to calm down.
Shifting to a cheetah form is far, far easier when in an environment like the African savannah. So shifting at home is easier, since I have a room that is a small section of Africa. In my experiments, I’ve noticed that temperature seems to matter far more than humidity, and the plant life doesn’t have to match up exactly. On the other hand, cheetahs roamed the Americas long ago. I can feel them underneath the soil.
Secondly I learned hedge magic. Mine isn’t very powerful, but highly useful. Probably my favorite ability to use is speaking with cats, any cat, and I’m abnormally good at negotiating with them- they view me as a fellow cat and tend to be friendly. I can also make African trees grow very small without wiring or pruning and thrive in subprime conditions.
Rising Conflict: I rather like Big Branch. It’s untamed wilderness, or as close as you get around here. Sometimes I shapeshift and go prowling. There’s some prairie, and it feels a bit like home. But it feels… wrong… lately. Something’s corrupting it and killing wildlife.
My suspicions were confirmed when I found a malk. But this was no ordinary malk. This was a malk attacked by something even bigger and larger than it. I killed it, but it was already dead, so to speak.
That something larger is something I’ve run into more than once since then. It’s big, (probably) evil, hairy, damn fast, and ugly, and that’s pretty much all I know about it. It is so fast that I can barely even get a good look at it before it sends me flying against a tree and runs away again. Despite my attempts, it always seems to be able to track me. Even magic won’t hide my presence.
It’s toying with me, I know that. See, it could have killed me several times, but didn’t.
First Adventure: My first adventure was to go deep into the Rocky Mountains and hunt down a pack of warped wolves that was slaughtering anything in its path- especially other wolves.
It was during vacation. I had traveled with my parents to the Rockies to see the wildlife and geological features of the area. There was a blizzard, and the cabin we were staying in was isolated. And then the wolves came. They were covered in sheets of ice like articulated plates of translucent frost-blue chitin, revealing the barest impression fur underneath. They strode on the top of the snow, not leaving even the faintest pawprints, and their breath was frost that fell as razor-sharp slivers of ice. Once, when they were near the door, those slivers pierced the door. And then my mother realized what they were doing. They were making the place colder. In under two minutes the temperature dropped ten degrees.
I have never been so terrified in my life. Even my parents were scared. Our own abilities- I was sixteen at the time- couldn’t warm the place fast enough, and we were relatively unarmed. Shifting to cheetah form didn’t help either. And then the wolves left, without any apparent reason. We found out later that they had ravaged a group of backpackers.
In the morning, my parents went out hunting for them, telling me to run if they weren’t back in a few hours. But when they didn’t come back, I went looking for them. To make matters short, I got lucky. There was a precariously balanced boulder, and I made it fall on the wolves just before my parents were about to trigger their own trap.
I come from Northeast cities- various ones. Boston, New York, Washington DC… my parents moved around a lot. Told me it was because of having to find a job. Turned out that the exact opposite was true. Local beasties didn’t like my parents much. They were cats, after all, and cats are territorial. Just because they could control themselves didn’t mean tensions didn’t flare up between them, vampires, and magic-users.
I always knew what my parents could do. Even today I can still remember my father as a cheetah wrapping himself protectively around me at night. But I didn’t learn how to do it until I was five or so. Before then, I had sometimes manifested my abilities in subtle ways- I was always faster than normal, and retained a predator’s edge. I made sure to stay quiet, not allowing the other side of my personality to spill over. My parents taught me a better way of dealing with that, too: meditation. That was the second thing they taught me, after shapeshifting. After all, if I couldn’t control myself, I was no better than the very worst of lycanthropes.
My lessons took years. I only mastered the art of shapeshifting by the time I was eight. After that I was taught hedge magic. But my parents refused to teach me the most powerful techniques and tell me the most cunning uses. I am jealous, but understand their reasoning. After all, I don’t need those spells yet- what they say is true. And if I do someday, they will teach me.
School was as it is for most of us outsiders. I was not on good terms with many of the other kids, but they couldn’t do anything to me. Or rather, they could, and face my wrath- and my parents. I had no hesitations about defending myself, but made sure not to abuse my position of superior power. If I did, I was no better than them.
The purpose of my parent’s magical art, the very reason the school of magic I use was made, is for protection and creation. I could not use it for destruction and evil, except in defense of a greater good. But the cheetah part of me wants to kill and slaughter my enemies. And sometimes, to my shame, I let it out. I have killed, but it is not the killing I regret. Vengence, after all, is suitable justice. But striking out in blind fury- that is something I have done too often.
When I turned eighteen, I struck out on my own. My parents more or less forced me to leave. They love me, they really do, but it is in the nature of cheetahs to disperse. And for our order, it is even more important. We have to spread all over the Earth’s face in order to take care of it. But I sometimes go back, both for social reasons and business.