Fir Chilis is the name given to the dense string of forested land that fills much of Blossom Forest. There are two different populations, depending on where in the land you are. To the north lays the deciduous forest, full of maples, oaks, birches, and beeches. To the south lay a coniferous forest full of pines and firs. No matter where you are, the trees shelter you from the sun and the rain and the snow. Take care not to get lost in the woods however - you may never find your way out. There are other dangerous here too - predators waiting for their own prey. While the land is prosperous they do not pose too much of a threat, but whenever famine or drought hits, they will attack anything... even other Putnar.

Those looking to hunt will find the forests well stocked - there are white-tailed deer, turkeys, red squirrels, chipmunks, mermots, and moose.

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Knocked unconscious, Kirastasia’s concept of time paused as cleanly as if a switch had been flipped. Her sunlit ambers had fallen upon Milo—her maw opened to call the queen’s name—and then a rainbow devoured the world, a tsunami of color flooding the heavens and crashing down with a violent cacophony of color upon the helpless woods below. She felt the initial punch of force as it shredded past trees and lifted her off her paws . . . and then nothing at all. A span of darkness she perceived only as a blink of an eye—for when Kira awoke next, groggy and disoriented, she had no clue how long she’d been out. Had the snowbird merely fallen and shook herself back to alertness in the span of a few seconds? A minute? An hour? Surely not that long, for it seemed a mere beat from the moment she spotted Milo’s pallid coat to her current state splayed on the frosted forest floor. With a pitiful groan, Kirastasia stretched her limbs and attempted to push herself upright. I must get up . . . I have to see if Miss Milo is all right . . .

“OW!”

Agony lanced down all four legs. She instantly retracted them toward her body, sucking in a harsh breath and squeezing tears out of her eyes. After a certain amount of extension the skin on her columns gave a hideous painful tug and Kira felt certain that she’d torn her own canvas. Slowly, the more the fishnet punkette shrugged off her delirium, the more aware she became of a wrongness saturating her core. An alien energy pulsed inside of her—a second heartbeat thudding behind the rhythm of her rapid pulse, resonating with the electrical communication firing between her nerves. Kira pulled in a breath, and that otherness breathed with her. Expanding. Testing its boundaries. Winding itself into her soul, until it fit over her like a gossamer film, skintight and impossible to separate. Terror overcame her. She inhaled again—again—again until her lungs felt as if they would burst, but the scream she wanted to expel never reached its intended volume. Instead, all that air sliced from her lips in another aching hiss, and the wolfess curled tighter in on herself. I hurt. I hurt a LOT. What happened? Am I broken? Another few tears leaked from firmly shut lids. The presence inside hugged closer . . . comforting? Melding? Why in the MOON’S name did her body hurt so damn much?!

A rustling halfway snagged Kirastasia’s attention, and she dropped a heartbreaking moan, fluffy frame trembling on the hard leaf-strewn earth. “Don’t touch me,” she begged the unseen stranger, still not opening her portals. Her head pounded harshly, an enormous drum trapped in her skull. “Everything feels awful. If you want to bother somebody, go away.” Kira prepared herself to burst out crying—nothing unnerved strangers more than an openly sobbing woman—when the unseen varg spoke. That familiar voice had Kira immediately untangling herself and twisting around to face the stranger with a brilliant smile. “Milo! Oh thank goodness, you’re—”

“Kira, you have scales!”

All words died on Kirastasia’s tongue. She blinked owlishly, mouth still slightly parted in a quickly fading grin. “Uh . . . beg pardon, Miss Milo? Did you hit your head very hard . . . when . . . you . . .”

Not really thinking about it, Kira had reached with one paw to scratch idly at her opposite foreleg, as if to soothe the ripping pain she’d felt earlier. She anticipated maybe touching some blood, if she had somehow torn her skin. What she did NOT expect was a sensation of glassy smoothness under her paw pads . . .

The arctic princess did not fully register what she was seeing when she finally glanced down at her lithe stems. Her mind struggled to make sense of this current image when the sight of her unique brindled stockings was so ingrained in her notion of “self.” Kirastasia unfolded into standing position as though moving underwater . . . slow and steady, pushing through the resistance of disbelief and shock, until she could fully study each individual leg. Where dark chocolate stripes once slashed, evening gloves of scales now glimmered up to her elbows and knees. They were winter-toned: fresh snow and dove grey detailed with rings of smudged ash. When Kira lifted one foreleg to better inspect this change, the scales shone with a hue of unexpected rainbow iridescence. Impossibly beautiful. Smooth as polished marble. And definitely, absolutely, not natural in the SLIGHTEST!

“M-Milo?! Is this real? AM I SEEING THINGS?!” Shuddering words exploded in a cry of desperate fear. Kirastasia launched herself at the petite alphess and buried her face in Milo’s ruff, weeping uncontrollably. “I’m a m-m-monster! LOOK at me! What are these THINGS?! Why are they on my legs?! Am I dreaming? Is this a dream? I’m going to wake up, and my fur will be back to normal—right?” Air slashed in and out of her lungs. Kira started feeling lightheaded and faint. She swayed on her feet. “Was . . . was it that light? I didn’t imagine it, did I? That enormous volcano of color that happened just now?”


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