Iryien and Xeno shuffled up towards the ship, crate held at an awkward angle between them.
"You could lower your end a bit," Xeno whispered and he struggled, backwards, across the slippery cavern floor.
"And you could be taller," Iryien hissed in irritation. She was busy scanning the scene. Large humanoids, bundled in layers of fur, were busy shuttling crates up the gangplank to the bizarre, skeletal ship. Xeno glanced over his shoulder and noticed them, too. They were everywhere. He suddenly realized the three of them looked horribly out of place.
Then he heard Iryien whispering quietly to herself, and his whole world started to change...
The ground flew away from his feet as he grew, up, up, up to over six feet tall. Barely able to keep his feet going as he grew, he turned to see the last change overtake Iryien's shape, and he had to admit, it wasn't for the better.
She was now an orc.
And so too was Kobayashi, struggling down the icy steps alone with his crate as he morphed. The culmination of variables was too much for him, though, as his new feet slipped off the final step and he fell forward, landing on his crate as it burst open, spilling its contents over the icy floor...
The objects were foreign-looking, and unlike anything that Xeno had seen before. But even with their foreignness, they managed to communicate one simple fact: they were built to kill stuff. They were black. They were replete with barbs, tips, handles and triggers.
And they looked like fun.
As he reached his own, newly-orcish hand down to pick one up, a harsh voice echoed out in the cavern.
"You son of a promiscuous she-dog! Watch what you're doing! Remember what happened to Grazshnak when he dropped one of those back at White Plume Mountain?!? You'll be the death of us all!" A larger, uglier orc lumbered over to the transmogrified Kobayashi and thumped him one on the ear. "Now pick those up! Carefully! If but one of those is damaged I'll have you thrown out to sea!" The overseer turned on his heel and returned to the ship to vent his spleen on another hapless laborer.
A befuddled Kobayashi started to put the things carefully back in the box as he glanced up to Iryien and then himself.
"So this is the plan?" he whispered to the orc he assumed was Iryien.
"It all I could come up with on short notice. What has passed for your 'plans' has nearly gotten us killed. From now on you listen to me."
Iryien strengthened her grip on the crate she and Xeno had been carrying and almost knocked him over as she began pushing it towards the ship. Kobayashi hurried to catch up, but didn't encounter any more resistance as they brought the crates up the ramp and lowered them into the belly of...
It looked like a large sea creature with fins and a long neck. Its skin was a translucent red, and lights from within revealed a massive skeleton which held up the dried, rubbery flesh. As Xeno climbed down a ladder through a hole in the center of its back, he could see that it seemed to have two decks. The interior walls were also flesh and bone, but hideously re-grown into a more serviceable configuration. Smaller crawl-throughs were cut through these walls, and Xeno was directed to pass his crate through one of these walls to a waiting orc.
Iryien followed him down the ladder. She took Kobayashi's crate and looked around quickly before handing it to Xeno.
"Over there. Stack it on the others and hide behind it. We'll be over here. Don't move until you hear from me." She shoved him in the direction of a corner filled with crates. Reluctantly, he worked his way into a small corner and pulled the crate up to hide himself. He could just peer over the top and see the exit ladder and behind it, two orcs hiding themselves among the crates.
He was uncomfortable in his new skin, and with the fact that he couldn't seem locate his weapons. His backpack seemed to have disappeared in the change as well, as his fingers were gnarly, green and completely devoid of his special Glove of Fiery/Frozen/Acidic Death.
Xeno peered out at to where Iryien was hiding. He tried to fix her with his Very Peeved Look.
"Next time we split up, I'm going with Xoe," he mumbled.