And then, this one time, Soon gets turned into a kitten.
It's Girard's fault, naturally.
He's in a snit with Soon, as usual. Soon's telling him what to do and acting like someone died and made him king of the universe, as usual. So that night, Girard replaces Soon's stupid paladin boots with some identical Boots of Fumbling. Let's see Soon act like he's better than everybody else when he's falling on his ass all day. It'll be hilarious, right?
And sure enough, Soon fumbles. It's pretty epic, as fumbles go. Trips over the tree root, bounces off the fence, scatters a flock of chickens, somehow misses the pond, and faceplants straight into a Baleful Polymorph trap. There's a flash and a bang, and where Soon fell, there's now a kitten sprawled on the floor. A longhaired grey kitten. A longhaired grey kitten with an expression of seriously wounded dignity.
"I didn't prepare Dispel Magic today," says Lirian. They're sitting around Soon-the-Kitten, trying to figure out what to do. Kraagor has encountered kittens before, and is carefully holding his beard out of its reach.
"Me neither," says Dorukan.
"Maybe he could pray to his gods?" Serini suggests. "Hey, Soon, you've got a cat god, right?"
"Whoa, okay! No cat god! Sorry!"
"Girard, you're looking after him," says Dorukan.
"What? Why me?"
"Because this is your fault! It wouldn't be happening if you could get over your stupid feud. Maybe it'll help if Soon's adorable and can't say anything to piss you off."
The kitten arches its back, sticks its butt in Dorukan's face, stretches, and sits down decisively, its back to Dorukan.
Girard smirks. He already prefers Soon as a kitten. And how difficult can it be? "Fine."
Soon-the-Kitten is riding in Girard's backpack. And he won't shut up. And he's just behind Girard's ear.
And he's getting more insistent.
"Soon, shut the hell up!"
That one sounded sort-of resentful.
The next thing he notices is a set of claws prodding him in the back of the neck.
And prodding him.
And prodding him.
He walks faster. Stupid paladin kitten's got no more sense than the stupid paladin human. He's not letting it walk on the ground. Soon'd probably get eaten by a big dog or something and then the others would never let him hear the end of it.
Wait, what's that smell? Why are his shoulders warm?
The others turn, ready to fight.
"Soon frigging peed on me!"
Dorukan and Lirian look uncomfortable; Serini and Kraagor are crying with laughter. Soon-the-Kitten looks slightly smug. If the smell doesn't come out, he's gonna have to Fireball this cloak.
Even after that incident – especially after that incident – none of the others will take Soon-the-Kitten off Girard. It's really not fair.
He considers giving the Soon-the-Kitten to a friendly NPC - maybe a little girl who'll cuddle it and put a bow on it and name it Mister Fluffy-Wuffy - after he discovers that no, the smell will not come out, and yes, he will have to Fireball his favourite cloak.
He considers it again when the kitten gets its front claws stuck in his ponytail. When he reaches up to unhook them, the little bastard bites his hand.
He considers it again when they stop for a break, and his attention wanders off the kitten. When he looks back, Soon-the-Kitten has one leg stuck up in the air, industriously licking its own butt. "Dorukan, would you please cast Blindness on me?"
He considers it again when Soon-the-Kitten gets into his bag of scrolls and gleefully shreds them all. He's holding the damn cat by the scruff of its neck, glaring into its eyes. He takes a deep breath and counts to ten. "If you were you, and not a kitten, I would punch you in the face." Soon-the-Kitten just licks his nose in response. It's gross. Soon-the-Kitten has fish breath. And he knows where that tongue's been.
Girard knows the spellcasters can change Soon back in the morning, but he still thinks the innkeeper's daughter looks like she'd really appreciate a pet kitten. Soon'd be lucky if this kid named him Mister Fluffy-Wuffy. That frilly pink brain could come up with something much more nauseating.
He's considering random kitten-gifting because it's been a long day, which has only been longer thanks to Soon-the-Kitten's antics, and he's desperate for some sleep. But he can't sleep, because Soon-the-Kitten is alternating between plaintive meowing and jumping up on the bed. He made a cat-bed on the floor, sacrificing yet another of his cloaks to do so, but apparently that isn't good enough, since the kitten is now purring down his ear. And Girard's been getting itchier all day. Maybe he's allergic to cats.
"Look, cat. Today you have peed on me, bitten me, ripped up my scrolls and licked your own butt. Plus, you're Soon. You are not sleeping on my bed."
Girard never had pets as a kid, and has no real idea how to deal with them, which is why he's trying to negotiate with a feline. Not that he particularly expects the kitten to give up of its own accord. He picks it up and puts it on the floor for what has to be the twentieth time that night.
The noise the kitten makes is... sad. Defeated. Like it's had a long, confusing day and it can't believe Girard won't show it this little bit of kindness.
Does Girard have any idea what it's like to be turned into an animal and suddenly have to deal with all these new instincts? Does Girard have any idea how draughty and unpleasant it is, down here on the floor? Why would Girard be so cruel?
And isn't the kitten really cute? Doesn't he want to look after it and make it happy?
"FINE! You win! Get up here. And when you're human, we will never, EVER speak of this."
Soon-the-Kitten lands on his pillow, purring in his face.
Girard wants to sneeze.