Guan soaked up the warmth of the summer noonday sun; enjoying one more brief moment of warmth before heading into the cave. The surrounding suggested interesting mineral formations in the area. Perhaps he'd find some fossils as well. Guan enjoyed these outings. He was a geology grad student at the university in town and spent many free days outside, climbing rocks, searching caves or generally exploring any rocky undeveloped areas he could find.
That was 9 years ago before the first strange tingling that would herald the onset of his ALS. Now he lay immobile, remembering younger days when he could explore caves. He could barely breath on his own now. Passing days were spent fantasizing about being normal or, when he was more bored, of being something super human. Imagination was all he had to keep sanity and pass the days.
"It'd be nice to walk again wouldn't it?" A voice beside him asked. He couldn't see the owner of the voice. When asked later he wouldn't even clearly remember if it was a real voice or something he had imagined.
"Yes," he thought.
"Accept the exchange then?" He somehow understood the deal even thought it wasn't discussed. A chance for something more in exchange he would risk a horrible death but it was a death he could face standing. Anything was better than wasting away on his bed.
Guan never said yes... perhaps because he could not speak but he didn't imagine saying yes either. He had accepted the offer though. That much was clear, but much like other parts of the conversation he didn't quite remember how it had exactly went when he tried to recall events.
Something wasn't quite right. ZhuGuan wasn't sure what it was but it didn't seem quite right. He knew he agreed to something but he didn't remember the details. In fact, the more he tried to recall the less he seemed to remember. He grasped futilely at the fading memories and worried if something more sinister was happening. It was just suspicion though. Maybe it was part of the deal... It bothered him he couldn't remember.
Whatever the deal was he didn't expect to start out barely able to breath in some half frozen plain. He didn't know there would be others either. He certainly didn't know he would be transformed into something... else. He thought it would be different but he couldn't quite remember. He thought he would be reborn immediately capable and fighting for his life. Instead he'd ended up the same man in a different place barely able to breath and holding onto life by sheer force of will.
He did remember the more recent events with more clarity. There were the others, they had also been changed. Some more than others. He didn't mind his new body. It was certainly different but the ability to walk again overshadowed anything special his new form granted him. The store was unexpected. The clerks, Lladnar and Etnad were even more unexpected. He'd come to understand that a lot of things weren't going to be what he thought were going to come about.
ZhuGuan took the opportunity to equip himself with the knowledge of his newfound martial powers before seeing the store vanish from around him to be replaced with an empty stone room. Unexpected. It was something he was going to have to get use to.
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