Taron woke up feeling very contented indeed. Sure, there was the small matter of the forest he found himself in being utterly strange to him, but the feeling of well-being within him was so strong that it didn't bother him at all. Blinking his eyes to clear away the last few remnants of sleep, he shook the kinks out of his wings and stretched like a cat, yawning as wide as he could.

Midway through standing up, he froze, a troubling thought cutting through his positive mood. That's not right. That can't be right...Let's try that again.

He settled back down into the position he was in when he woke up.

Taron began to feel sleepy again...but no, it didn't seem like a good idea to go back to sleep. The feeling of contentment was beginning to slip away, and what came in to replace it was too much like panic for his liking. He flicked his wings – when did I get wings, all I've ever had were two legs and two arms – as if there was something unpleasant clinging to their leathery hide. Stretching like a cat – speaking of those arms, where did they go, and why are there legs in their place – and feigning a yawn, he began to give in to the panic inside as the last remnants of the warm fuzzies drifted away. Abruptly, he stood upright to run, thinking better of it just a fraction of a second too late to prevent himself from losing his balance. Startled, he instinctively unfurled his wings and drove them backwards to prevent from falling onto his back. After a few of these reflex reverse-flaps, he settled back down onto all four legs.

What was I thinking? I already noticed that – He shook his head, unwilling to finish the thought. It crept through anyway – I'm not human anymore.

He growled, baring his teeth at the air in front of him, as if some invisible trickster had planted those words in his head. Taron lashed his tail and began pacing angrily, only to misstep and fall on his face. Ugh. Looks like I can't go anywhere yet. Shifting to a more comfortable position, he curved his neck to look back at his new body. Try as he might, he just couldn't associate this blue-scaled, winged reptile with himself – and yet everything he could feel, from the wings to the tail, from the scales to the chill in his core, told him that this beast truly was him. As he came to this inescapable conclusion, the panic slowly ebbed, until all that was left was resignation.

Sighing, he turned to face forward. A taloned paw rose into view, and he watched as it opened and closed, almost like a hand. At least it looks like I can still pick things up. He let it flop to the ground in front of him. Well, I could, if I didn't need that to walk with. Resting his head next to his front leg, he went over the last things he remembered, letting his eyes unfocus.

"You know what, I'm just gonna come over and break the first thing I see if you don't answer me soon."


"C'mon, it's not like you have anything better to do tonight."

"Clean your ears, man."

"I might just come and break something anyway. Say, you don't like that lamp, do you?"

Taron bit back a chuckle. "Alright, alright, if it'll get you to shut up."

"That it will. See you in a bit, then."

The first thing that caught his eye as he got out of the car was the line – not only did it look like it would take a good ten minutes to get in, but it wasn't even moving. Making his way to the schedule, he saw that the game didn't start for an hour and a half, and that seating wouldn't begin until half an hour before that. Sighing, he turned to find Johnathan standing right behind him, looking over his shoulder.

"Oh, sorry, should have checked the seating times before I got here. Didn't mean to have you wait so long to get in."

Taron jumped, then punched John on the shoulder. "How many times have I told you not to do that?"

"About as many times as I've said I'll stop when it stops being funny."

"So, might as well get in line. Unless there's something to do here that doesn't involve standing around."

John shrugged. "Sorry, all non-waiting activities are inside the building."

"So there's no pre-game party, or anything like that?"

"It's strictly bring-your-own-confetti."

"Damn, I knew I should have grabbed the balloons."

"I'll be sure to remind you to buy party favors next time I drag you to a football game."

"Ten bucks for a goddamn Gatorade knockoff? You've got to be joking."

The old man tapped his rickety table a few times. "Take it or leave it. You ain't gonna find anyone else selling drinks around here, at least not until you get in." He glanced up at the clock. "Which is gonna be another half an hour."

Taron grumbled, pulling a ten out of his wallet and setting it down on the table. He snatched up a bottle and was already on his way back to the line by the time the old man had taken the money.

"You actually paid his price? It's thirty minutes, you'd have been fine."

"I hate soda, I don't drink alcohol, and bottled water is overpriced." He unscrewed the lid and took a swig before John could respond.

"Sometimes I wonder about you..."

Taron stumbled into his house, his splitting headache making it difficult to walk straight. As he flicked the light switch, nothing happened. "I knew I should have replaced that light bulb..." He fumbled on a shelf in the darkness until his hand closed around hard wax. Feeling the upright end for a wick, a spark leaped from his fingertip to the twine. A tiny flame flared up, letting Taron see. Carrying the candle, he made his way into his bedroom.

As he entered, he stumbled, dropping the candle onto the carpet, which quickly caught. Scrambling to his feet, he snatched a blanket off of his bed and threw it on the flame before it could spread much farther. Once he was sure the fire had been smothered, he carefully lifted the blanket and groped around for the candle. Lighting it again, he tossed the singed blanket in the general direction of his laundry pile.

Looking around the room, he decided there was nothing that he wanted to do that couldn't be done the next day, when he didn't feel like his head was about to burst. He blew out the candle, set it on his end table, and flopped down on his bed. He was unconscious almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Between falling asleep and waking up as a dragon, there was nothing, not even the shreds of a dream. Taron thought this was a bit odd, as usually when something like this happened in a book or movie, the person in question had a dream or a feeling that was indicative of the impending changes. Then again, that was just fiction, and you can't expect fiction to tell you what's going to happen in real life, even when real life gets weird.

However, there was one thing he picked up from fiction that did apply: he needed to get used to his new body as soon as he could. There would be no one to help him if he couldn't fend for himself. With this goal in mind, he picked himself up, focusing on remaining in control of each individual limb. Taking a few tentative steps, he immediately fell flat on his face. This didn't discourage him, however. What did that was running into a tree on the next try.

Quickly backpedaling a few steps, he snarled at the tree and whirled, thwacking the trunk with his tail. Though it didn't help his bruised snout, it did make him feel a bit better about himself. Putting a bit of distance between himself and the offending plant, Taron set to figuring out how to walk once again.

This was quickly cut short when he realized that he'd been going about it the wrong way. When actively trying to adjust from the perspective of a biped, he tripped over his own feet and couldn't even go five yards without having to stop and wipe the dirt off his face. But when he didn't think about it, he walked as if he'd had four legs all his life.

By this time, the sun had passed its zenith and was well on its way to the horizon. Taron's next priority was to find water. Over the past hour or so, he'd been getting thirsty, and while he didn't exactly know dragon physiology, he thought it was safe to assume that water and food were things that he would need to obtain if he were to survive. Of course, being able to walk took precedence over this, because it's not like he'd be able to go anywhere by dragging himself along the ground. Despite the near-constant noise of birds and wind, he decided to try his luck at listening for a stream. Freezing in place, he focused on his hearing until he was able to hear the faint susurration of water over rock. From the low volume of the sound, it seemed like it was a ways off, but still close enough that he'd be able to find it within a few minutes. Or at least he would, if he could tell where the sound was coming from.

Picking a random direction, he walked a short distance. After he thought he'd moved far enough, he stopped again, listening for the sound of water. To his surprise, it was a tiny bit louder than before. He hadn't expected to get it right on the first try; he was only trying to find out what direction the water actually was by process of elimination. He continued the way he was going, stopping at times to make sure he hadn't turned to the side. When the sound of water became loud enough to hear without effort, Taron began to move faster, occasionally stumbling when he found himself watching his step.

Within a few minutes, he had come to the source of the noise, almost hidden from view behind a thick cluster of trees that grew along its bank. As he forced himself through the trees, a calm stream came into view. Upon catching sight of the water, he realized that he was absolutely parched. Without a moment's hesitation, he stepped forward and dipped his head so that he could drink. Once he'd satisfied his thirst, he realized that he had no idea how dragons drink. He also noted that this lack of knowledge wasn't stopping him from doing anything, so he didn't worry about it too much.

Having nothing better to do after this, Taron sat along the riverbank and watched the reflection of the sky slowly change from a faint orange to a prominent red. As the water threatened to turn into a bloody caricature of the heavens, he backed off, leaving to find a place for him to spend the night. If need be, he would just pick a convenient clearing, but he thought that he really ought to find a cave or hollow somewhere to hole up in. It would provide shelter from whatever weather would happen through the night, and a nice point of reference to navigate the forest from. If he began establishing landmarks, he wouldn't get lost, and a shelter would make a perfect initial landmark.

A short search yielded a waterfall, and a cave in the cliffside nearby. Poking his nose into the cave, he let his vision adjust to the darkness, probing the empty space with his senses before fully entering. It was a bit of a tight squeeze, but the cave opened out a short distance from the entrance, and soon there was plenty of room for him to stretch out. There were no signs that this cave had been the home of any animal in recent times, which was a bit odd. Then again, he wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Curling up on the cold stone, which he found surprisingly comfortable, he let out a mighty yawn and closed his eyes. He shifted for a bit, trying to find the best position for his new body to sleep in, and drifted off shortly.

"Hello. I'm a manifestation of your subconscious."

"...What the fuck."