Masjena loped through the winter woods and across the winter hills. For months something had been itching at her. She was the strongest of the Demon Prince's witches, but she kept feeling she should be capable of more. The ancient books on magic held in secret by the breeders of the mage-slaves said almost nothing about witches beyond the fact of their existence. The Prince had tried to strengthen the link between them -- to no avail. She had tried to push her limits, but just didn't know what she was supposed to push. She had assumed the forms of many animals. On nothing but a secondhand deion taken from an ancient letter she had assumed with ease the form of a milkfin from the far distant western ocean. But the forms that she couldn't assume she couldn't even approach. Even the shape of the common and non-magical nullcorn, a riding animal created by removing the hornbud from a unicorn foal, was prohibited to her.
Finally, the young dream mage had told her of a spell he could do. The spell would enable a quest to seek out what she desired. However, he couldn't say exactly what effect spell would have. It was completely untried, and the deion in the ancient books was too esoteric for easy understanding. Eventually, though, her magic continuing to itch at her, Masjena had accepted the spell. The very next night she had donned animal form and headed towards the high mountains; the places where few, if any, men ever went.
She hadn't even know where she was going at first, just "away" and "up." She changed form, leon to hind to lucrus to cow before finally settling on lucrus. It was the best form for covering long distances in the snow, certainly, but more than that it felt "right." As she loped along she reflected on the lucrus. Long ago there had supposedly been creatures called "dogs" (or possibly "vulfs"). Dogs had apparantly been much like lucrii, only with smaller paws, larger ears, and completely lacking the tusks that protruded down and forward from the back of a lucrus's lower jaw. They were also friendly to men, which no lucrus in the history of the world had been. Lucrii killed men who ventured into their lands, and mankind returned the favor whenever possible. Masjena now knew it was matter of scent. To the nose of a lucrus the scent of man say both "prey" and "rival."
Days passed. Masjena had to stop and hunt, but the pull to travel to the highlands became ever stronger. She began tapping into instinct and knowledge that she never realized she could. Worn between the need to travel and the need for food, her humanity became an ever thinner thread. Until -- finally -- it snapped.
It was a yearling melk calf who triggered the break. He had blundered into a hollow of soft snow and paniced, trapping himself in a living grave. Masjena the human saw the potential danger of the soft snow. Masjena the lucrus saw a source of meat that could feed her for nearly a half-moon. The fight was short and brutal, and in the end the melk was dead and eaten, and Masjena was purely a lucrus with no human thoughts to distract her.
Still, though, the lucrus traveled onward, driven by the spell it no longer remembered until it found what it never knew to seek. A wild sow lay dead at her feet when she heard the howls of a pack not far in the distance. As she joined their howls with her own the pack fell silent. She continued howling. Some part of her knew this was proper. The pack would seek her out, and if they chose she would be allowed to join, and if they chose otherwise she would be driven away, or even killed if she protested being driven.
As soon as the pack arrived the lucrus rolled onto her back, seeming as helpless as she could. The pack was a large one, five males and seven females. As they approached her in turn she fawned on them, baring her throat, licking their jaws, and whining like a puppy. At last the pack leader approached. Taking her throat in his jaws he shook her lightly, then, in response to her overtures, dropped a small portion of food from his mouth into hers. With that, the pack numbered five males and eight females.
As a newcomer she started as the lowest ranking female in the pack. That changed quickly. Seeing the size and strength of the newcomer the former low ranking female sought alliance instead of dominance, the newcomer accepted the alliance and moved up one place in pack rank.
Not all adjustments were that easy of course, and moons passed as the lucrus moved up in rank. As she did she was forced to draw, at first shallowly and then more deeply, on her nearly forgotten humanity. Lucrii are not stupid, but they number their societies in tens at most. Humans measure their relationships by the hundreds, if not thousands, and the simple politics of a lucrus pack is easily understood and manipulated. At least to someone with a human mind in the body of a lucrus. So, as more of Masjena's humanity returned to her, she played the dominance game ever better. It was a strange, wordless, humanity though. A humanity stripped of anything that didn't pertain to the needs of a lucrus pack. Had the lucrii been human they would have marveled at the speed with which she advanced. Being lucrii they just accepted it when only moons after her adoption Masjena advanced to become the first ranked female.
Now the way lucrus packs are arranged there are separate hierarchies of males and females, and those hierarchies don't impinge on each other -- except at the very top. The leader of a lucrus pack can be either male or female, but there can be only one leader. Though seemingly indifferent, the leader of Masjena's pack had noted her advancement, and, wise in the manner of a lucrus, acted to show his dominance before she was ready for the challenge.
A successful hunt had captured several large swimming fowl, and Masjena was idly licking meat from bones of the largest when a wet and cold nose was rudely thrust under her tail. A snarl and a snap, and Masjena discovered that she had set herself at odds with the pack leader. With the pack gathered around, for Masjena to simply back down would mean repeated challenges from the females she had recently displaced. As she and the pack leader postured, she realized she would have to fight.
A dominance challenge among lucrii is a quiet affair. The instruments of challenge are not a lucrus's killing teeth, but its jaw tusks, and the intent isn't to injure, but to force the opponent onto its back and hold it there. Most challenges are short, but not the one between Masjena and the pack leader. Time after time they hurled at each other; locking jaw tusks and twisting heads in attempt to throw the other off balance. Pushes intended throw the other back were met with equal force, and the two opponents rose on their hind legs until they could no longer balance and were forced to break apart and begin another round. Though the pack leader was larger, Masjena was smarter, and used that intelligence to extend the fight to the point that both opponents were panting with exhaustion.
Still, the pack leader was larger, and if his intelligence was no match for a humans, he was still very smart for a lucrus, who are much smarter than most humans realize. A technique too often repeated by Masjena allowed the pack leader to duck under her chest and lift, toppling Masjena onto her back. A pounce put the leader over Masjena's body, when, seeing she was about to lose the challenge, in desperation Masjena called on the magic she hadn't used for moons and assumed her human form.
Much as she was to think on it in the future, Masjena was never to understand exactly why she did it. Certainly the quest spell must have played a part, but there was also the thought that shifting shape might make the pack leader distracted or afraid, and the real desire to do something however ineffective it might be. And ineffective it was as the pack leader ignored the change in shape to take Masjena's throat lightly in his jaws. Luckily, when she changed form Masjena didn't change scent or those jaws would have done far more than hold her still.
With Masjena on her back and the pack leader's jaws on her thoat, the pack leader began demonstrating his dominance in another way. Lucrii are among the few animals capable of copulating belly to belly, and aroused by the dominance fight and by the scent and taste of the pack's first female under him the pack leader's prick rapidly slid from its sheath and into Masjena's vagina. Masjena surprised herself by becoming aroused at this. First because before she had left on her quest she had indulged herself in sex regularly. In human form her body recalled how long she had been without. More arousing, however, was the complete submission forced on her by the pack leader. She had lost the fight, and in so doing somehow given away the mastery of her body. Though the pack leader's sexual equipment did not match that of the average human male he had no doubt about his mastery, and Masjena responded to that confidence with increasing arousal and need.
Teeth at Masjena's throat, jaw tusk pressing high on her breast, the pack leader growled his displeasure when she started to shift back to lucrus form, or even if she moved too much. Eventually though, overcome by her arousal, she did something no lucrus in her position could have managed. Lifting her hips she moved to bring more of the pack leader's prick into her body. Momentarily, the knob at the base of the leader's prick filled her. It spurted, then the pack leader gave a yelp of surprise and jumped away.
Masjena didn't even think of taking advantage. Lucrus and human merged in her mind as she rolled onto her knees and elbows. The sexual desire that filled her was human, but the whine that came from her mouth was that of a lucrus in heat. Among lucrus belly to belly sex was used for play and to indicate dominance, but a true mating could only come when a male rode a female's back; a posture reserved for the first male and first female of a pack. Even in human form she was that first female, and now that the pack leader had asserted his dominance she deserved to properly mated.
Nothing loath, the pack leader quickly mounted his first female. With this posture his prick could reach more deeply and soon its knob passed between the lips of Masjena's cunt. Her whines turned into gasps and then into moans as she felt that knob move within her and create pressure on her seat of pleasure. A hand lifted off the ground to stroke the flesh at the top of her slit, and Masjena's pleasure peaked. Yowling and bucking she tried to milk the pack leader's prick, but his earlier cum made him last much longer than usual for a lucrus, and as he moved in Masjena's body her orgasm continued.
Dizzy and drenched in pleasure, Masjena's mind expanded. She felt as if she were having sex with the world and in that moment, for however long it lasted, she became one with magic, knowing it from the inside. It couldn't last, of course, and as the pack leader grew limp and backed away she became, again, just Masjena. A Masjena who shivered in the cold and resumed the form of a lucrus, but a Masjena who knew that never again would she lose herself. The human part of her would never again be completely submerged in the mind of the beast who's form she took.
Exhausted, Masjena resumed lucrus form to endure the congratulations of the pack for the fight and the mating that followed, but curled up to sleep as soon as she could.
The following morning she left. Her quest was complete and it was time to return home. The pack, of course, made no attempt to stop her. Lucrii, both male and female, often traveled and no pack would attempt to keep a member against her will.
Returning home at a steady pace she was surprised to be joined by one of the pack females. Since she had allied with Masjena the smallest of the pack's females had increased in status, and Masjena realized that she would rather go with Masjena than drop back to her former status. Masjena could drive her away, but that would be poor treatment of an ally, even one who was just an animal. So, with misgivings, Masjena allowed the younger female to accompany her.
As the pair traveled, Masjena tried to put into words what she had learned. She had no doubt that the short contact she'd had with the magic was the purpose of her quest, but as time passed the understanding she'd gained seemed to recede ever farther from her. The little bit she could put into words related directly to her own magic. She knew now that she could assume the body and nature of any living non-magical animal without risk to herself. The magic would take the pattern of the animal from wherever it could reach and give it to her. However, the magic wouldn't reach into the past or future for her, nor would it overlay her own magical gift with the magic of another creature, not even the potential magic of a creature like the nullcorn. Simple, profound, but only a minor part of what she had grasped when she touched the magic and that now eluded her thoughts.
Drawing near her home as the spring thaw began, Masjena finally left her companion in a pleasant valley. Switching forms assured the smaller female would be unable to follow as Masjena once again made contact with her fellow humans. Hopefully, someone would have an idea about what to do to assure that her human and lucrus allies wouldn't harm each other.