Chapter Description: Ryan and Kuma arrive in Briar Cove and meet Linda, their new magic teacher.
Ryan, now regressed to an eight-year-old, slept snuggled up to Kuma, his talking plush companion. Both were about the same height, but one was definitely much softer than the other. Ryan dreamed of the big boy he no longer was. He was in high school hanging out with his friends again, having fun, laughing, and talking. Suddenly, Ryan found himself wearing just a diaper, and his friends pointed and laughed, calling him a baby. A strange creature appeared and began draining his age and knowledge from him as his friends continued to laugh. He yelled out for help as he shrank and knowledge left him. Soon he was just a wailing baby wearing nothing but a very wet diaper, no longer old enough for any sort of school or education.
Kuma woke up early and noticed Ryan seemed to be whimpering with a thumb in his mouth. He gently hugged him to try and ease his troubled mind. Soon Ryan stopped trembling and smiled. His Goodnites grew warm and plumped as it absorbed more wetness.
Ryan woke up to find Kuma hugging him. There was drool on his pillow and a thumb in his mouth, which he quickly yanked out. Checking his Goodnites, he saw it had swollen larger than it ever had, meaning he had wet a lot over night. He blushed and wiggled out from under the blankets, feeling small and babyish.
“Good morning Ryan.” said Kuma, letting out a yawn and stretching. His threads were taught in his plush body. Before him was his friend, now his size, and looking very embarrassed. “Oh, do you need some help?”
“Good morning Kuma.” said Ryan, sounding very small. “Um, no, I can take care of it. Do we have a place to put used Goodnites?”
“Goodnites?” asked Kuma. “Is that what you call your training pants?”
“Oh, yeah, we call the ones big kids wear at night Goodnites.” he responded, tugging at them a bit.
“Well, I have a bag to hold used ones until we can get to a proper waste disposal pail.” said Kuma. He rummaged through his things until he pulled out a medium sized white plastic bag.
“Um, thanks.” said Ryan. He took the bag and his tunic, then headed to the river. He removed his very heavy Goodnites and placed them in the bag. Even though it had absorbed the wetness, he still smelled the urine on him, so he washed himself off in the river. It was daytime now, and he got a good look at his face for the first time since regressing down to eight. A mere third grader looked back at him, with round cheeks and mussed hair. This was a face he hadn't seen in many years, but it was familiar.
Kuma got busy making some breakfast for them both. He knew Ryan would be back soon, and hungry. Sure enough, soon his friend returned wearing the large blue tunic and his favorite scarf, carrying the white bag with him. He knew it must be very hard for him experiencing all this for the first time. It was hard for the little plush to imagine a world where people never lost age or experience. “I've made some breakfast.” he said.
“Oh cool.” said Ryan, putting the bag of shame away and sitting next to Kuma. He smiled and ate happily, finding it very tasty. It looked and tasted like pancakes with syrup. It seemed like no matter how hard he tried, he still ended up with sticky syrup on his face and hands.
“Here, let me help.” said Kuma. He got a damp cloth out and wiped Ryan's face and hands clean.
“Um, thanks.” said Ryan, feeling like a little kid. Once they were done eating he helped Kuma pack up, but there was one small problem.
“The only clothes I have that fit you are these, what you call Goodnites.” said Kuma. “Do you want to wear them?”
“N-no.” said Ryan with a blush. “This tunic covers me enough.”
“Hm, okay then.” said Kuma. “Too bad we don't have any small shoes for you. We'll just have to take the softer dirt path so your feet don't get hurt by any sharp rocks or anything.
“That's fine.” said Ryan. He didn't like being treated like he was fragile, but he knew that he was. The two agreed on the arrangements and began making their way down the road again. Ryan carried some of the load, but he also had his heavy sword to carry. Whenever they would see a monster, they did their best to avoid it unless it was very low level. Ryan actually found himself feeling more afraid than ever, and carefully avoided confrontations now. Although he was happy to find that the power of his spells was still the same, he found that casting them took more out of him.
Finally they came upon Briar Cove. It was a town near the coast and had many thorny bushes, hence the name. Ryan was happy to have warm smooth rock under his dirty feet for a change. It actually felt good. The two got many strange looks from all the plush folk in town. They looked much like the ones in Kuma's town though. Kuma could feel Ryan's uncertainty and held his hand, smiling. Ryan blushed and squeezed the plush hand a little, feeling better. He even smiled and began walking at a faster pace.
They were both quite dirty and in need of a bath, so they headed right to the home Hedwig told them to go to. Kuma knocked on the door and a kindly old red panda plush woman answered the door. She wore a long white dress and pink apron, wore glasses, and she appeared to have worn spots around her plush hands, arms, and face.
“Oh hello!” she said. “I received word from Hedwig that you would be here. My name is Linda. Come on in.” She watched them shuffle in, looking a bit defeated. From the look of the little human boy, she could tell what had happened.
As they walked in, Ryan couldn't help but notice how the inside of her home reminded him of his grandparents' home. It was a bit musty, with pictures of cute children on the wall, although the children in these photos were all various plush types. There were doilies on the tables, flowers in vases, nice floral rugs, pristine couches, hardwood floors, and plain off-white painted walls. He noticed that Kuma seemed to know her, as he warmly greeted her.
“Hello Linda!” said Kuma. “Long time no see.”
“Ah, yes. Kuma. I used to babysit you on occasion.” said Linda.
“I barely remember back then.” said Kuma, blushing a bit. “But I do remember your face.”
“You were very little.” said Linda. “I'm not surprised you don't remember.” She glanced over at Ryan who was shyly staring at his feet. “Don't be shy little one. Please tell me what happened? I can tell you have met with a terrible fate.”
Ryan blushed and looked up at her. Her face was so soft and kind, yet he could tell there was also a strict stern side to her too. “H-hi Miss Linda. I'm Ryan.” he said softly, wiggling his toes together nervously. “I got attacked by a monster and it took more of my age and abilities.”
“I see that.” said Linda. “That tunic you wear was obviously meant for someone older. Let me check your stats.” She examined his papers to get a good idea of where he stood. “Hmm, good magic skills, and fighting as well. Low on reading, math, and continence.” She noticed he did smell slightly of urine and dirt.
Ryan just blushed, standing there being analyzed. Then he suddenly felt the need to go. “Oh! I need to use the toilet!” he shouted, holding his bottom.
“Uh oh, better get you to the potty quick!” said Linda. She picked him up under the armpits and carried him quickly to her bathroom, then pulled his tunic up and sat him on the potty.
Ryan blushed heavily, being rushed to a toilet like a toddler. “I don't need...” he began. He was going to say that he didn't need help but then a wet plop from within the toilet interrupted him. If she had not rushed him there, he would have surely had a very embarrassing accident on the floor. He just sighed, defeated, and continued to do his business.
Linda smiled down at the boy. She had never seen a human before, let alone a human child, and she found him adorable. She had a soft spot for little ones who needed help, and she was happy to provide that help. When she saw he was finished, she offered to wipe him.
Ryan blushed but declined. “N-no, I can do it.” he said. “I'm not a baby. I'm really seventeen. I just got little is all.” He did what he could to convince himself he was more mature than he looked. After wiping, he saw that this toilet too made waste vanish.
Linda saw the boy curiously looking into the toilet, but she also saw how dirty his feet were and how he smelled a bit. “Why not get a nice hot bath?' she said. “I can help draw you one.”
Ryan nodded. He did feel dirty and he wanted to get clean. “Um, okay. Thanks.” he said.
Linda smiled and filled her tub with warm water, then added some soap to it, making it all bubbly. She then turned to Ryan and lifted his scarf and shirt off.
“H-hey!” he shouted, covering his front with his hands. “I don't need help getting undressed!”
“Such a fuss.” said Linda. “It's okay sweety. I'm just trying to help. I'll take this and get these cleaned for you. Now go ahead and get clean.”
Ryan blushed and got into the large tub. It was a nice, round, smooth white tub with gold claw feet. It would have been about average size to him before, but now it looked massive. The warm water made him feel relaxed though, and he soon found himself playing with the bubbles. This world was so different from his, but there were a few things that were the same. The scent of the bubble bath made him remember baths he had as a child. He used a cloth and washed himself off, getting all clean in the tub.
Meanwhile, Linda spoke with Kuma about Ryan and was informed on everything that had happened. Linda shook her head in disbelief. “That poor child.” she said, using a spell to clean his clothing. “I suppose the next thing you should do is get him some more clothing. Here is some money.” She gave Kuma some money and he headed out to the clothing store.
Ryan was finished with his bath, standing up and draining it. He rinsed off and then dried himself and walked out with a towel around his waist.
“All clean?” asked Linda.
Ryan nodded. “Yeah, thanks.” he said. “Where is Kuma?”
“He's out getting you some properly fitting clothes” said Linda. “Here, I cleaned your scarf and tunic for you. You can wear these until he gets back.” She handed him the clothing which he quickly put on.
Ryan still felt very small in the large clothing. His scarf especially seemed a lot longer now. “Thanks.” he said, then his stomach rumbled.
“Oh my, hungry are we?” asked Linda. “Well, I can fix that too.” She went into her kitchen and brought back some sandwiches. They were cut into little triangles with the crust cut off.
“Um, thanks again.” said Ryan. He was hungry, so he ate the sandwich. It tasted just like a bologna and cheese sandwich, which was his favorite as a kid. He happily ate it up just as Kuma arrived with a shopping bag of clothing.
“Just in time.” said Linda. “Have some food dear.”
“Thanks!” said Kuma, putting down the clothing and getting a plate of food.
Ryan wondered over to the bag and looked in. He pulled out a blue long-sleeve tunic, long leather boots, tan pants, and even some nice new underwear. “Oh wow, thanks!” said Ryan. He excused himself to the bathroom where he changed into the new clothes, which fit just fine. He also put on his red scarf, which he was glad was still in one piece after everything.
Kuma watched as his friend returned wearing the clothes he picked out. “You look good!” he said. “I hope you like them.”
“Thanks Kuma!” said Ryan. “I do!” He felt better being completely dressed in clothes that didn't fit like a tent. He sat down and had tea with them both, enjoying the friendly company and feeling refreshed, although still small.
“Now that you're both rested and full, let's talk about learning teleportation magic.” said Linda. “Unfortunately, I must tell you that it will likely take a very long time to learn.”
“How long?” asked Ryan, still eager to get back home.
“Hard to say.” said Linda. “Some people take years to master it. Others manage to learn within a few months.”
“Months to a year?” asked Ryan, sounding down. “Is there any way to speed it up?”
“There are no shortcuts to magic.” said Linda. “However, if you get your magic skills up, it has the possibility to go faster. To do this, you will have to go out and fight more monsters and gain experience using your magic.”
“I have to...fight?” asked Ryan, sounding shaky. “I...I don't know if I can.”
“He hasn't been able to fight well since his last loss.” said Kuma. “It was a brutal attack, and he lost a lot.”
“I understand.” said Linda. “But you must if you are to learn this magic. Just know that even if you do learn this spell, it may not work. I have no idea how you came to be here, but I suspect it is magic beyond anything we know of.”
Ryan looked sad and worried. He didn't want to stay here forever, even though Kuma was such a good friend. “I...guess I gotta.” he said finally. “If there is a chance then I gotta take it.”
“Okay then, just know the risks involved.” said Linda. “I will help you with anything you need.”
“Thanks Linda.” said Ryan. “I appreciate it all.”
“You're welcome sweety.” said Linda, patting him on the head. “Now, if you want you can get some rest, or you can train some in my back yard.”
“I don't want to waste time.” said Ryan. “I need to get stronger, so I'll go train.”
“I'll help him.” said Kuma. “My stats are a bit higher than his, so I can help with training a bit.”
Linda nodded and showed them out to her back yard. It was a large, grassy back yard with a few trees, a small garden, and even a medium-sized pool. In back was an area setup with training dummies and targets all made of wood and straw, but reinforced with magic protection so they would regenerate after being damaged.
Ryan found the sword too heavy, so he instead focused on his magic, using fire, ice, earth, and wind magic. He tried getting his emotions up like Kuma did, hoping to conjure lightning, but he was just getting more frustrated. “Ugh, why can't I make lightning like you did?!” he yelled.
“I wasn't trying to make lightning when I did it.” said Kuma. “Even I'm not sure.”
“Lightning is a level up from fire.” said Linda. “The more you concentrate and channel your magic energy, the stronger it becomes, until it becomes something else. Often when someone becomes emotional while casting a spell, it will become stronger, though also harder to control. You must remember this when trying to achieve your goals.”
Ryan nodded and tried again, and again. He remembered his encounters with the monsters and how long he had been away from home, how much he missed everyone. The desperation of his situation resulted in a loud yell, and he lightning flowed from his hands and into the dummies. Feeling accomplished, he smiled and cheered. “I did it!” he shouted. Then he felt something warm running down his legs. Lightning wasn't the only thing that flowed from him.
“Oh my, you sure did!” said Linda. “Very good, now lets get you cleaned up.”
“I..I don't need-” he started.
“Honey, you just wet yourself.” said Linda. “Now come on. Good work, but standing there drenched in pee won't help.” She led the little boy inside and to the bathroom.
“This is so embarrassing.” said Ryan. When she went to help him remove his clothes he stopped her. “I can do this.”
“Then do it.” said Linda. “I know all about your potty issues and what you've lost, and I'm sorry. However, I'm used to taking care of children and know how to handle these situations.”
Ryan blushed as he removed his wet clothes. He had soaked his pants and boots. Luckily his shirt was still dry. “I'm not a child though.” he said. “I just look like one.”
“Yes, yes, yes.” said Linda, taking his wet clothes from him. “So were many I took care of after the great battle long ago, but they got used to it. I suggest you do the same. Only time can restore your former age now.”
All this confirmation got to Ryan, and tears began to roll down his face. He sniffled and began to cry.
“Awww, shhh, it's okay.” said Linda, bending down to give him a hug. She even curled her long striped tail around him. “It'll be okay.”
Ryan felt comforted by the large soft plush hug and hugged her back, drying his tears.
Linda held a tissue up to his nose, letting him blow into it. Then she smiled and helped clean him up and used some magic to clean and dry his clothes. “There, all better.” she said. “See?”
Ryan nodded and yawned. He was worn out.
“I think it's time for bed.” said Linda.
“B-but...” said Ryan, rubbing his eyes.
“No buts.” said Linda. “Here, I've got some of these, what do you call them? Goodnites?”
Ryan blushed and nodded. He knew he needed them. He stepped into them as they were held out for him and felt them being pulled up his legs and over his groin.
“There, all snug and comfy.” she said, giving his padded bottom a pat. “Now, I have something special for you.” She pulled out a two piece set of pajamas made of soft cotton. They were blue with little dragon patterns sewn in. “I got these for you. I hope you like them.”
Ryan blushed. He really didn't want to wear the childish garment, but he didn't want to make Linda sad either. “Th-thanks.” he said, and allowed himself to be dressed by her. He felt so little, but also cared for. Part of him was enjoying it.
Kuma came inside as it started to rain. “Oh, is it bed time?” he asked. “Let me just get clean and I'll join you.” He went into the bathroom and shut the door.
Ryan wondered how the plush people got clean if water made them soggy. He had a lot of questions, but was getting more and more sleepy. The events of the day, the lightning, and the breakdown he had took its toll.
Linda smiled down at him and patted his head. She led him by the hand to her guest room, which had a large bed with quilted bed sheets and soft pillows. The room was very welcoming with wicker decorations, art of a light house on the light blue walls, and a patchwork rug on the wooden floor.
Ryan shuffled in wearing his new pajamas and laid down under the covers.
“If you need anything, just let me know.” said Linda. She dimmed the lights, which were spheres of magical light within the room, then left.
Ryan felt so comfortable in his soft pajamas and bed. Soon he heard the door open, and saw Kuma standing there wearing some green pajamas with frogs stitched in. “Got you too eh?” asked Ryan.
“Yeah.” said Kuma. “Linda was insistent I wear these. I believe she didn't want you to feel bad being the only one wearing some, but I don't mind. They are quite comfortable.” The living plush crawled into bed with Ryan and snuggled up to him.
Ryan blushed, and was about to complain, but suddenly felt even more comfortable and sleepy. Once again his thumb made its way into his mouth as he slept all cuddled up to his soft plush friend. He felt like a kid at the longest sleepover ever, and was starting to enjoy it.
To be continued...