The king looked at his advisors. "You are sure that is the only way?" he asked. "And it will work?" The four men all nodded solemnly. "It is Sire," spoke one. "It is written in the runes and echoed by the stars. Do this and fertility will return to our fields, our crops will flourish and your people will rejoice." The king contemplated this for a moment. "So be it," he said. Silently the men nodded and filed out of the room, leaving the King to contemplate his choice. Alisa was working in the fields when the guards arrived. She saw them ride up to the hut she called home, speak to her mother who pointed to where she was working in the fields. Straightening, she warily eyed the patrol approach. The lead rider jumped off his horse and knelt before her. "M'lady," he said with a bowed head. Alisa almost giggled at the ridiculous sight of the seasoned warrior who almost grovelled before her. Luckily, she bit her tongue and smiled at the man. "Yes, M'lord," she said with her head held high. She had never addressed one of the King's own guard before and was not sure what to say, so politeness seemed to be the safe way to go. The man continued to grovel before her. "M'lady," he repeated. "If you are Alisa of the Forest, I have been instructed to return with you to the Castle for an audience with the Advisors to the Royal Court." Alisa almost flinched at the sound of her full name. Ever since she had been found wandering through the forest as a child, people had called her Alisa of the Forest. It was only her adopted parents who treated her as one of their own. The remainder of the town treated her like they did with anything they did not understand, with fear and suspicion. "Kind Sir," she said. "I am the Alisa you seek and will return with you, but why I do not know." Alisa inwardly groaned at the complicated structure of her sentence. To her it would have been easier to say "Yes, lets go." But the guards would not have been pleased, they did not speak in simple sentences and seemed to need the pageantry just to survive. The guard nodded, stood and gestured for another guard to dismount. "Do you ride M'lady?" he enquired. Alisa nodded, "A little, but if we are only going to the castle I should survive." The second guard handed his reigns to the first, then dropped to his knees much to the merriment of the other men in the team. Daintily holding her tattered robes around her, Alisa placed a foot in the cup of the second guard's hands and with a little assistance from the first, hoisted herself into the saddle. For a moment she contemplated sitting side saddle, but that would have been too uncomfortable, so she slung herself across the horse's back. The first guard nodded and mounted his own steed, the second guard climbing on to the back of another horse. They turned and slowly trotted out of the field and headed towards the castle. On the way there Alisa tried to strike up a conversation with the guards, but her efforts were met with polite silence. It was obvious to her that she was not in trouble as such, she had seen how the guards dealt with criminals and it was no where like this. She guessed the advisors had grown curious about her origins and long wanderings in the forest, although she was not sure why the guards were needed. She had never ridden to the castle before and by they time they arrived her muscles were beginning to ache. Sliding off her horse, she gave it a friendly pat and was lead through a small door. Walking along dim and dusty passages, she quickly lost all sense of direction and was somewhat relieved to be lead through a door into a small room. Her escort left the room and closed the door behind themselves, leaving her alone in the room with just the four advisors. For a moment they all looked at each other. The four advisors in all their finery and long white beards and Alisa, in her dirty robes with tangled black hair. Unsure what to do, Alisa did her best to curtsey. "M'lords," she said tentatively. Each of them bowed their heads in turn. Finally one spoke. "You are the one known as Alisa are you not?" he asked. She nodded, "That I am Sir, Alisa of the Forest." He continued. "And you were found wandering in the outskirts of the woods when you were a child, near on fifteen years ago?" She nodded again, "I have been told so Sir, but I do not remember it. I was just a babe at the time." "So how old are you now?" another question. "I believe I am about twenty, Sir. My parents, my adopted ones, think I was about five when they found me." "And do you remember anything of before you were found?" "No sir, well" she paused. "I seem to remember things. I can not be sure if they existed or not, they are more like disjointed images. There is lots of green, trees and forest, plus some animals and I am certain there is a stag in there" This provoked some whispering amongst the four men. "A stag you say?" one of them asked. She nodded. "Yes sir, although I can not be certain. I am sure I can remember a stag's head looking down at me, although it may have been a dream." There was more consulting behind the table. She could not hear what was being said, but she caught phrases. "But how can we be sure...? What is she isn't the one...? ...We don't know..." Finally they seemed to reach a consensus. They turned to face her again. "M'lady," one in the centre began. "As you know, our kingdom is in dire straights. There has been no rain for many moons, our crops are failing and we grew vulnerable to attack." Alisa nodded, this was definitely true, the fields where she worked were almost nothing but dust. "We believe," he continued. "That you may be able to save us." She sat upright, shocked. "Save us!" she exclaimed. "But how? I am only a peasant girl, I have no magic, I merely tend the crops." A different elder leaned forward. "We have been told that one from the forest will save us by bringing the Gods of the forest to join us. When they come, they will bring rains and a bountiful harvest." She still looked perplexed. "We have been told that one from the forest must return and summon the Gods. The one is you." She tried to stammer something. "We have a scroll," he continued. "It will aid your return." He reached out and placed his hand on hers. "It is a supreme sacrifice." "Sac...sacrifice?" she managed to stammer. He nodded, "One we are sure you will be proud to make for your King." She looked around, this did not sound good. Not good at all. "Now," said one of the men. "Will you accept your destiny willingly?" Her eyes fixed on him and she could only think of the similarities in his eyes and those of her father's when he is about to butcher a lamb. "No!" she screamed. "I won't accept it, I'll refuse it. You can take your sacrifice and ..." Alisa was getting frantic and failed to notice one of the men make a small gesture. Before she knew what was happening, a foul tasting gag was shoved into her mouth and a sack was roughly pulled over her head. A strong pair of arms wrapped themselves around her body and although she struggled, she could not escape. She heard more whispered mutterings then the unmistakable chill of magic being spoken. The strange tongues seemed to travel directly to her, entering her ears and filtering through her body. Slowly, as the chanting grew louder, her body began to vibrate with the mysterious words and she sank into unconsciousness. Alisa awoke some time later. Her head throbbed and she let out a small moan of pain. She was sitting in a vaguely upright position, her hands twisted behind her head. She tried to pull them down, but an unfamiliar clanking caused her to look up and weep. Her hands were solidly locked in a pair of iron manacles which were fastened to the wall. After a few experiential tugs at her bonds she gave up and lent her head back on the wall. An unfamiliar sensation in the back of her head caused her to start again. Her hair should have been pressed against the cold stone, but there was something else. Twisting her head, she managed to slide her hair against the inside of her arm and she froze. There was a nodule on her head. It was small, probably under an inch long, but it protruded through her hair and grated on the wall. She was not sure, but it felt very similar to a cows horn. Twisting her head she rubbed against the other arm and felt a similar bump there. Then she froze again. He arm had brushed against her ear. Only it could have been her ear, this was longer and seemed softer than her normal ear, but she definitely felt her ear being touched. Shivering she let out a moan as she realised she was naked. She cast her eyes down her body, past her pert breasts and onto her legs. What she saw did not really surprise her. There was a fine covering of brown hair lightly covering her thighs. As she watched it seemed to flow down towards her feet. Lifting one leg she looked at it. Her foot was growing, slowly extending, forming itself into a narrow, almost tube like shape. Her toes too were changing, her nails darkened in colour and seemed to extend. While she watched, two of the nails merged together to form a single mass, while the other three did the same thing. They both enlarged forming a definite cloven hoof. Trembling, she looked at her other foot in time to see a repeat of what she had just seen. Her foot continued to reform itself. Her bone structure writhing under her skin she let out a soft moan. After what seemed to be an eternity it stopped. Alisa peered down at her leg. It looked remarkably similar to that of a deer's, they both did. Experimentally she extended her leg, the unfamiliar muscles worked perfectly, stretching her leg out, then pulling it back in. The only difference seemed to be the thin coating of hair, but this was thickening up even as she looked at it. She felt an uncomfortable sensation at the base of her spine and squirmed on the hard floor, seeking a more comfortable position. Looking down between her legs, she watched as a small tail grew from the end of her spine. It was just as quickly covered with fine fuzz of white hairs which continued to grew between her legs, hiding her sex from her view. The brown fur grew up over her waist and merged with the white fur as her waist reshaped itself to accommodate her reformed legs. Letting out a sigh, Alisa lay still, waiting to see what was next. Occasionally the new muscles of her legs twitched, but aside from that they remained still. She suddenly became aware of a weight growing at the top of her head. For a few moments this caught her off guard, but then her neck muscles strengthened and she found she could easily support the new weight. Looking at her legs, she guessed they buds on head had grown into antlers. She could feel them against her arms and tap them upon the stone. They seemed to stop developing and she guessed they were about a foot long, with maybe four points on each. Her ears grew warm and she suddenly became aware of new sounds, one she never heard before. There was a mouse scampering in the corner of the cell and behind the door a group of humans were trying very hard not to make a sound. She let out a soft giggle at their efforts. Breathing in deep, she drew air through her sensitised nose. She could smell the human stench of the cell, plus perhaps something else. Something mysterious and enticing. Alisa closed her eyes and attempted to draw the scent closer, but it still eluded her. When she opened them, her eyes were the deep brown of a doe's and saw so much more than her old human eyes. Looking around the cell where she was imprisoned the satyr let out a silent cry for help. Before her a patch of air shimmered and solidified. As she watched, a male satyr with a huge rack of antlers materialised before her. Raising a finger to his lips he leaned over her and examined her bonds. Alisa closed her eyes and drew his strong musky scent through her nose, leaning her head forward to nose at his furry thigh. He made some complicated hand gestures over the manacles and silently they crumbled to dust. Smiling he stepped back and reached out a hand, helping her to her feet. She was a little unsteady at first, tottering on her new hooves, but in a few moments she found her balance and stepped towards him. Together they turned and walked towards the wall, quickly fading to nothing before they reached it. When the advisors found the courage to open the locked cell door they gazed upon the empty room in horror. When they told the King, he was not amused. Some say the sacrifice of four respected advisors is the reason why the drought broke soon after. As for Alisa? Well, those who should know say she was returned to her people, deep in the forest. Occasionally she is sighted by those souls who have strayed from parts tamed by man. They say she is doing well and has a handsome stag of a mate with whom she is content to be with as time goes by.