“We have many different kinds of shapeshifters to choose from. Is there any type that you are looking for or just something in a general fashion?” the salesman asked as he took a young man through a hall of cages.
The young man looked in the cages as he walked by, seeing the many different shapeshifters huddled together, looking kind of pitiful. He looked back at the salesman as he remember he had just asked him a question.
“Uh, I’m just getting one for my father. He sent me to get him one.”
“You’re Oslo’s son, aren’t you?”
“Yeah… I’m Jake.”
“Hmm… Is there a specific thing he is looking for? Housekeeping or stable hand?”
“Um… I think he was thinking about having a female shapeshifter. You know, one that looks pretty and could be his personal servant. He just said that I shouldn’t get anything that could possibly poison him…”
“Then you’re looking for more of the mammalian type of shapeshifter… Come with me. I don’t take many people down here but this is where we keep the prettiest females. Is there a certain amount of money your father has given you?”
“Come this way.”
The young man complied and followed the salesman through the doors at the end of the hall with the cages and on toward another end of the building.
The salesman brought out a key and stuck it into the lock of a very ornate door.
“These are only the finest females and they are all very docile. They understand discipline and comply very well.”
Jake nodded, coughing a little from the bleach smell that he had been walking through and the salesman turned the key. The smell of roses came from the room and Jake looked around at the beautiful white room that had columns in it. A lot of columns in fact; and at the base of every one of them, there were chained at least four to five female shapeshifters.
“The columns are arranged by species so have a look around. I won’t pressure you into what you should do so I will leave you to pick. I will tell you that those that are closest to the beds in the back are not mammals.”
“Thanks…” Jake said, taking in the beautiful women that were before him.
One thing that shapeshifter females had that human ones did not were beautiful bodies. Because of their shapeshifting abilities, their muscles were toned and they all had exotic looks that made them different from most other women. Plus, they had an animal side that made them behave in a different manner than human women.
Jake decided to look over in the more common mammalian section that included felines of all species, canines, and many birds. He kind of liked the cats a little more than the others and so decided to look at them. He had to make sure that she was beautiful and obedient because his father had given him this task as part of some training in him being a man. His father wasn’t exactly happy with him at the moment.
Actually, Oslo Nicosia wasn’t very happy about Jake ever since he was a little child. He said it had to do with the fact that Jake was a pretty useless kid. Jake tried to do all he could to please his father and sometimes he’d be surprised when his father would praise him but not very often. This was one of his last chances to prove to his father that he wasn’t a useless boy.
Jake was deep in thought when he caught the sight of a black tail swishing out of the corner of his eye. He looked up and noticed the inscription on the column read Panthera onca.
“Jaguars, huh?” he said to himself as he walked over to the column and looked at the shapeshifters there.
He looked over the exotic looking girls when he came across a young girl around his age that looked like she would rather be somewhere else. As Jake rounded the column, she flicked a silky black ear in his direction and then turned to him. He almost gasped at her metallic blue eyes.
“Wow…” he said, walking toward her.
He knelt down in front of her at a comfortable distance as she stared at him with the power that most of the carnivorous and predatory animals usually had.
“What’s your name?” he asked softly so he didn’t scare her.
She didn’t talk and he sighed, fearing that the most beautiful shapeshifter he had seen there was a mute.
“Whatever you want to name me.” He heard a soft and tiny voice say.
Jake looked at the girl as she looked at him. Her voice was so tiny, almost like a child’s…
“Ah, I see you’ve found your pick, Mr. Nicosia?” the salesman said as he came back into the room.
“How much is she?”
“She’s cheap. From what the others say, she is a runt. Her voice is small and she’s also melanistic. She’s also very tiny.”
“She’s cute… How much is she?”
“Wow, that is cheap… Why is she so cheap besides her being a runt? Shouldn’t her being a black panther make her rare and more expensive?”
“That’s what I thought as well but the bosses say that the panthers consider them outsiders and so they segregate themselves from the melanistics. If they aren’t important to their own genus, then they aren’t important to us.”
Jake turned his head at the young shapeshifter, wondering if she would get discouraged over the talk the salesman was making. Instead, he found her still staring at him and he stood up, coughing a little.
“Alright then… I’ll buy her. Is she obedient?”
“She’s a runt so she’s been pushed around all her life. She learned faster than the others on what to and not to do when she was brought here. She’s also an orphan… Remember not to take her shackles off until you get her to your mansion.”
“I’ll go get the caretaker to deliver her to you on the outside of the facility. We’ll take the payment up in the front.”
salesman led Jake away as he motioned two guards to get the caretaker.
Jake paid the cashier the $500,00 in cash, sticking the rest of the money in his back pocket and was handed the key to her shackles.
“Once the shackles are replaced by your own, please send those back to us to be used on others.”
Jake nodded, running his fingers through his strawberry blonde hair as he went outside to wait for the caretaker to bring him his purchase. He hoped he made the right choice and his father was finally happy with him.
He heard some sort of growling coming from around the corner of the building and saw a handler dragging the young jaguar-shifter by the neck. She was a fighter, for she was trying her best to get up the pole and take a swipe at the man. Jake felt a little sorry for her because she looked like she wouldn’t have caused much trouble if they had just given her a chance to walk instead of dragging her. Now that he saw her from afar, she really was tiny. She was very slim and limber but she was pretty short. He knew that jaguar’s were stocky in general but she seemed… tinier.
Another man came from behind her and said something to the man and he slowed down, allowing the jaguar-shifter to get her balance, to which she hissed at the handler and the other man gave the handler some sort of look.
“You must be Sir Jake Nicosia.” The man said, grabbing Jake’s hand and shaking it fervently.
“Yes, I am.” Jake answered.
“I’m the caretaker of the facility, Dr. Albert Schivens. It’s very nice to meet you.”
“Thanks… Um, the carriage is right over there.” Jake directed the handler.
“I came out here to personally to tell you a bit of history on jaguars.”
“Oh, it’s not necessary-“
“Yes. It is.” Dr. Scivens said, looking at Jake seriously.
Jake decided it was best just to let the man talk.
“Jaguars were depicted in a culture called the Olmecs as being symbols of power and strength. Though she is small and is a runt, she has a lot of power behind her. Please be careful as to not take her size for granted.”
“I won’t…” Jake said, wondering why he was telling him this.
“And also,” He motioned for Jake to come closer. “Jaguars were viewed as gods in a culture called the Maya. A lot of shapeshifting animals were viewed as gods in some form of ancient culture and so many of them have abilities that humans do not. They can also be of some use in that regard.”
“Are you saying that they are gods?”
“No. Of course not. I’m just saying that they were viewed that way because they already had these abilities. Not many believe in them but I’m telling you that you don’t have an ordinary animal as your pet. Take good care of her.”
Jake made a face at the man as he left and the handler came back.
“She’s in there. Take care not to startle her because she might attack you. I can’t believe you brought only one carriage. People don’t usually dare to be locked up in a carriage with a shapeshifter. You’re a brave kid. Stupid, but brave.”
Jake made another face as he went to the door of the carriage. He hesitated, thinking about what the handler had told him but breathed in and opened the door.
He was surprised to find his shapeshifter sitting properly in the seat like a lady on the opposite side of the carriage. He lifted an eyebrow at that and sat on the other end. He knocked on the top of the carriage to signal the driver and looked out the window. It was going to take them three days to get back home to Gregory.
“I might warn you that it will be about three days before we reach my home town of Gregory. I suggest you get some sleep on the journey or you will be very bored on the trip.” He told her.
The jaguar-shifter just stared at him and he sighed.
“It’s not polite to stare. If you do that to my father then he will be most unhappy with you.”
She immediately turned her gaze elsewhere and Jake turned his head at that.
“You don’t have to comply immediately, you know… And you’re supposed to be gods…”
They rode for a while and the jaguar-shifter looked back at him.
“If I was a god, I would have damned you for being disrespectful and would not be in chains.”
Jake looked at her and he smiled a little.
“I guess that’s true… You never told me your name.”
“You never told me yours.”
“I’m Jacob Nicosia, the only son of the Duke of Gregory.”
“My name is not important. It will be changed anyway.”
Jake was going to argue but decided that she was right. He leaned on the window the carriage and fell asleep.