Part 5

by J

Shayna ran past a few large trees, coming into a clearing ringed in by dense undergrowth. Talin ran in a few seconds later, winded. "Nowhere to run to now." he said as he closed the distance.

"That's what you think." Shayna answered. Just as Talin was about get to her, she jumped up and over him, clearing his head by about ten feet. She turned back to stick out her tongue at him as she jogged away.

Just as Shayna re-entered the denser woods, Alara called out "Tag. You're it."

Shayna stopped and said "Its not fair having to avoid both of you. You can always set up traps like this."

"I know." Alara said, smiling. But if we didn't do it this way, we'd never catch you.

"Ok then. Its my turn. You've both got five minutes to get away. I've got to catch you both within another ten minutes, ok?" Shayna said. Her friends ran off while she started counting off the time.

Later, Shayna caught up with Talin. She rapidly closed the distance between them. "Its no use doing a straight run." she called as she was easily doubling his pace. She plunged her claws their full length into the tree on either side of him when she cornered him against a tree. "Hah. Caught you."

Talin replied "Not for long." He tried ducking down to get away before Shayna could pull her hands free.

Shayna anticipated Talin's actions and was able to trap him. She flexed her biceps, expanding them just to the point where Talin was firmly pinned between them. "You're not going anywhere now!" She said proudly. "Now that I've got you, what should I do with you?" Shayna thought "I'd better change how I've got him caught or I might squish him by mistake."

Talin answered "I guess you're just going to have to have your way with me." A grin played across his face.

"I guess that'll have to do." She said. Shayna relaxed her arms. This was greeted by a sigh of relief from Talin, who took the opportunity to rub his arms. They were sore from where they were pressed against his sides. He ducked down and was about to run off when he was grabbed and held aloft by Shayna's tail. "I think I've won this game of tag." Shayna said. "I've been doing some thinking. People are kinda nervous around me because I look like this. It'll be even worse in the human lands. I'm going to see a wizard that Morgan had talked about that might be able to help."

"I guess this means you're leaving tomorrow. You only bring stuff like this up just beore you go." Talin ansewered.

"I guess I alway do that, don't I." Shayna said. She started to think to herself and looked away.

"Um, Shayna, you can put me down now." Talin said, after a couple of minutes. Shayna had forgotten about him.

"Oh. Sorry. *tee-hee*" Shayna flicked Talin up into the air (which took all the strength she had in her tail) and quickly moved to catch him.

"You don't have to be that rough, you know." Talin said.

"I'm just started getting rough." Shayna answered, smiling. She flexed one bicep, fully expanding it. She then put her arms (carefully) around Talin and kissed him passionately. In short order, Shayna was leaning forwards against the tree, her claws embedded in its bark. Her legs were apart and partly flexed. Talin was making love to her from the rear, grunting with effort while she purred. Shayna's tail was wrapped around one of Talin's legs. "You don't have to go so easy on me, you know" She said. "You're not going to hurt me." She thought "He's getting better at this. He must be getting stronger."

"Believe me. -gasp- I couldn't be any rougher on you if I wanted to." Talin answered. He finally pulled out of her and they both walked away from the puddle their lovemaking had left. They were both soaked from perspiration and the juices that had splashed during their lovemaking. They kissed some more. Talin winced as Shayna's nipples dug into his chest, bruising him.

"Ooh. I'm sorry I hurt you." Shayna said, embarrassed.

"You know, its both good and bad making love to you." Talin said. "I have more orgasms with you than I've ever had with Alara. But, you're so strong that I'm sure you're going to break something if you lose control." He grabbed Shayna's bicep and squeezed as hard as he could as he said this, pressing his point home.

"I'm just glad I've got magic that keeps you safe when we do it." Shayna replied. She instinctively expanded her bicep out of his grip while she talked. "If I didn't, I would have squished you as easily as this apple." Shayna said. She closed her hand around an apple on the tree, splashing it into pulp. "Anyway, if you didn't like it, you wouldn't have worked so hard at it."

Talin blushed at that.

"The wizard I was talking about before is called Gilad. He might be able to help with the curse that the evil magician put on me. I think I look kinda neat like this, but it -does- make people look at me real funny. I think they take old stories too seriously." Shayna said.

The next morning, as Shayna was about to set out,she was met by her friends. "Did you think you were going to leave without us?" Alara asked.

Before Shayna could answerher, Talin added "Who knows, you might run into trouble along the way and need some help."

"OK. We'll all go whenever you two are ready." Shayna answered. She was glad to have her friends come along. It would be a lonely trip without their company.

They took the easiest route, following the river downstream to the city. The rainy season had started in full force. Each day was interrupted by a downpour in mid-afternoon. Shayna found that it took about an hour for her fur to dry off afterwards.

When they arrived in Samarind, the three went directly to the Azure Dragon Inn. Shayna explained to her friends that she always stayed there on her visits. When they took off their rain cloaks, Shayna noticed the she drew a lot of stares.

"Its a good thing we're not trying to be sneaky." Talin said quietly.

"Why should we?" Alara answered. "We're here to become big-time adventurers. They always start what they're doing in inns."

Shayna interrupted the conversation, smiling. She had just come back from speaking with the innkeeper. "Hi heroes." Alara blushed beet red. "I've got us a couple of rooms upstairs; numbers three and four. If either of you feels like going out, I'm going on a mysterious errand." Shayna tried to make this sound exciting. She giggled and continued "Morgan left a letter here for me. It says there's a surprise for me at the end of this map. He also wrote that he used the stuff I didn't want from our last few trips to buy it."

They put their stuff in their rooms and put on dry clothes before going. The map led them on a circuitous route around Samarind. It eventually led to a small house on the edge of the city. Inside it were two rooms. The front one had some chairs, a table, an empty chest, and a few sleeping mats. The back room was set up as an exercise room. It had a floor of fine gravel. There was a rectangular piece of metal there that was longer than Shayna was tall, but just a little bit wider than she was. On either side of it on the floor were a pair of taller metal cubes with indented tops. There was a thick metal bar with a pair of flattened lead spheres on the ends of it resting on the metal pads. The bar was raised above the metal slab. The lead discs were more than a yard across and a few feet thick. Their edges were rounded and had a rough-hewn look. Their surfaces were textured to look like wood. There were also several sizes of one-handed dumbbells with flattened lead spheres on the ends of them. The smallest of which was too heavy for either Talin or Alara to lift.

The metal slab had a note on it. It read "I had to guess as to how much these should weigh. They should keep you busy for a few years until you work up to lifting the big one sitting over this. Morgan."

"So. Are you going to try it out now?" Alara asked.

"I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow. I was going to see Gilad the wizard tonight, and I don't want to be pushed up to too much strength. It wouldn't be nice to accidently break something at his house." Shayna answered. "I'll meet you at the inn for supper, ok?"

"Sure, that'll give Alara and me time to see the city." Talin answered.

Shayna was surprised when she met Gilad. She was expecting a forboding looking man in long robes and a pointed hat. Instead, he was a slight looking elf. Shayna asked him "Um, do you know where Gilad is? He's a wizard that a friend of mine told me about."

He answered "Really. I think I know where he is. You look like you've had some magic done on you allready, and whoever it was did a really good job."

"Yeah." she continued. "He put a curse on me to turn me into a cat. It just didn't work like he wanted it to. I wanted to see if he could change me back."

"Well, I guess I could try." he answered.

"You're the wizard? I thought only humans were wizards." Shayna said.

"Nah. They're just more showy about it. They like big, drafty towers and scary looking costumes. It makes them feel better." He paused for a few seconds before continuing. "Why do you want to change back. I think you look just fine the way you are?"

"Thanks." Shayna smiled. "Its just that some people get scared. They think I'm some evil were-wolf type that's going to eat them. It'll probably be even worse when I visit in the human lands."

"I've gotta agree with you there. Before starting, though, It'd be nice to know who I'm doing this for." he said.

"Oh, sorry. I'm Shayna. My friend Morgan told me about you."

"I'll see what I can do. You know, human mages usually ask for a bunch of money or stuff to do magic. How about if you do me a favor sometime?" he asked.

"OK." Shayna answered.

"I just want you to know, curses are tricky to deal with. I need to know just how he did it before I try to get rid of it. That'll make my work a lot easier." he said.

"Well. He put himself in a really big stone statue and was fighting me. I guess he was just finishing saying it when I broke it into a bunch of pieces."

"He was riding in a stone golem when you broke it? That stopped him from finishing his spell?" Gilad asked.

"He wasn't riding in it. When he was killed, the statue started moving around to fight me." Shayna answered.

"That means he either did it just before he was killed, or he was 'posessing' the golem and was killed just before completing the spell. Dying curses are the worst kind. They usually can't be gotten rid of. Maybe I can modify it. I might be able to shunt its power to some other effect..." Gilad lost Shayna by going into a bunch of magical jargon. "How did you destroy the golem, anyway?"

"I hit it really hard." Shayna answered. She balled up a fist and pantomimed throwing a punch in a wide arc.

"And that broke it?" he asked.

"Yeah. I'm really strong." She answered. "See." Shayna flexed her bicep a little, allowing it to expand to a height midway up her forearm.

"I see." the magician answed. He put a hand on her arm and squeezed. "I guess you know a little magic yourself, then."

"No." she answered. "I don't cast any spells. I'm just kinda strong."

"Well. Just stay still and I'll see what I can do." Shayna stood still while Gilad cast his spells. She felt tingly sensations as the magic worked its way through her. Gilad looked tired when he was through. He said "I was right. I wasn't able to get rid of it. But, I was able to use its power for something else. Your strength magic is more complicated than what I'd want to tamper with. You also have some body altering and protective magic. I sent the curse's power there. You can still assume your cat-like form when you want to. I wasn't able to get rid of that. I just put the energy that was pent up behind that toward your other abilities. You should be able to heal up extremely fast, be able to minimize harmful magic effects directed against you, and other similar things. You know, enhancements of your body altering magics." He thought "That was quite a mouthful to say."

"You mean you're done?" Shayna looked down at herself. She was just as thin as she was after the curse was placed on her. She just looked like an elf instead of a felinoid. She was thin, but had some obvious muscle tone. She could see hints of her abdominals and her thighs rippled some when she moved them. She was still just as well-endowed as she was before. "Oh. Thanks!" Shayna gave the magician a hug and kissed him. When she let go, she saw a shimmering in the air where whe was holding him that faded quickly.

"Good thing I've got protective magics." He licked his lips. They tasted sweet from her. "Thank you."

"Sorry I squeezed you so hard. I forgot. What do you want me to do for you?" Shayna asked.

"I can't think of anything right now. If I do, I'll get in touch with you." He answered.

Shayna met her friends back at the Azure Dragon. They were listning to bard singing in the dining room/entryway.

"He was able to do it. What do you think?" Shayna said. Turned around for her friends to see her before taking a seat next to them.

"You look good. You've also gotten less muscly. They still ripple, but they're the same size as mine now." Alara said. She flexed her bicep.

"I didn't know you had some muscle, too." Shayna answered. She flexed her own slightly, making it about twice the size of Alara's. "I've also been working on control. I can hold it at a kinda small size like this if I concentrate."

Talin interrupted, saying "We found out that there's a carnival going on in the human side of town in a few months. We should all be here to see it then."

They all agreed to do that. After dinner, they slept at the inn. After all, they already paid for the rooms, and they were tired from their trip. At least Talin and Alara were.

The next morning, they went to Shayna's new house after eating breakfast. Shayna had on a pair of stretch shorts and a stretchy half shirt with the legs and sleeves removed. All her clothes were like this so she wouldn't rip them by mistake.

After stretching out, Sahyna held out her lightest dumbbells towards her friends. "Here, why don't you two try this also."

"Thanks, but those look way too heavy for either of us. We'll just watch." Talin said.

"OK. Suit yourself." Shayna said with a shrug. "They're really not that heavy. I can hardly even feel them." She did a series of quick punches into the air while holding them. Her hands moved back and forth in a blur. When she finished, she held them out for her friends. They got up and each reluctantly took a dumbbell in both hands. They found that lifting them took all their strength. They tried various exercises until their muscles were sore. "See. That wasn't hard." Shayna said. "You can use them whenever you want."

Shayna found that each pair of dumbbells was twice as heay as the last ones. She rapidly progressed up through the lower sizes. Her muscles got larger and more defined as she did so. Her breasts and nipples also increased in size, so they weren't dwarfed by her muscles. "I guess I really have gotten stronger since I saw Morgan last." She had worked her way up through all eight sizes. "These are the only ones that feel like they have any real weight." As Shayna held them up, her biceps expanded about three quarters of the way up the height of her forearms. She did exercises with them to work various muscle groups. She found that she was able to work each until it burned. She was able to move some gravel out from under the metal slab so she could get her feet under it. This allowed her to hold the dumbbells and do sit ups.

"Do you feel ready to give the big one a try?" Alara asked.

"I think so." Shayna said. She put down the dumbbells she was holding. The gravel crunched and pieces of it broke as the they sank in a few inches. Her friends saw that her grip had dented the hondholds in the shape of her fingers. Shayna walked over to the barbell and looked over it for a bit. It was positioned at about waist level. She gripped it tightly and slowly exerted her muscles against it.

"Come on. You can do it!" Alara said. She and Talin were standing on either side of Shayna. They each gripped one of her shoulders, being careful not to get their fingers crushed between the deep cuts that danced across her muscles.

Shayna's muscles continued to ripple and expand. She finally got the weight off the supports and slowly did two bicep curls. The thick metal bar bent under the weight. She lifted the weight in an arc until her hands bumped her biceps at the top of each repitition. "Be careful." Shayna said. "I don't want to bump either of you with this. Its really heavy." The sunlight coming in through the window reflected off Shayna's skin. It was stretched tight across her muscles, and her perspiration made it shine like a mirror. All of Shayna's muscles were fully flexed and expanded now. She strained under the weight, only able to get off three more repitions before her arms burned painfully. She let the weight drop back onto the pads with a loud thump that shook the ground and wiped the sweat off her forehead. She stepped out of the indentations her feet had made on the floor.

"Thats all you're gonna do?" Talin asked.

"Its not easy to do. I just need a minute to catch my breath." Shayna said. She then took hold of the barbell and lifted it. She did a few curls and felt her muscles burning with exhaustion. She slowed down her pace and did one at a time, catching her breath in-between.

Alara stood to Shayna's side and squeezed her bicep with both hands to massage it. Shayna felt just a slight touch from this. "Just do a few more, ok?" she said.

Shayna said "Thanks for the help." as the bar bumped her arms at the top of another curl. She clenched her teeth and closed her eyes as she strained against the weight until she felt it suddenly grow lighter.

"WOW!" exclaimed Talin as he saw what happened. Shayna's muscles all expanded. Her stomach gained definition, her chest got larger, and her biceps gained a few inches in height to their peaks.

Alara quickly pulled her hands away when she saw Sahyna's muscles grow. She didn't want her fingers to be pinched inbetween them.

"Good. Now this is at a good weight for me." Shayna said. She felt re-invigorated by what had just happened. "You know what? I don't feel tired anymore." Shayna repeated her exercises. She picked up the largest one-handed dumbbells when she finished and did a few quick curls. "I guess I'll just use these to warm up with now." Shayna found that she wasn't strong enough to dent one of her flexed muscles. "I wish you could feel how good these feel." Shayna slowly relaxed and flexed her muscles several times, letting them expand to their fullest. She then stretched out and got her things ready to go bathe.

The house was on the upstream side of Samarind, and there wasn't anyone else around when the group got to the river's edge. Shayna's muscles stayed about twice the size they were before her workout.

"I've got an idea." Shayna said. "I don't want to toss anyone until I get used to my new strength, so I'll try something new. Alara, would stand up on my arm for a minute." Shayna bent her arm at the elbow. Her relaxed muscles as large as her thigh. As Alara got on her arm and stood up on her bicep, Shayna noticed that she couln't even feel her weight. "Are you ready?" Shayna asked.

"What for." Alara answered.

Shayna winked at Talin and said "This!". She flexed her bicep, expanding it as fast as she could. Alara was tossed several yards into the air and landed in the river with a splash. Both Shayna and Talin gigled a bit. "Surprised you, didn't I?" Shayna said. Shayna easily outpaced Alara as she tried to swim up to her. She slowed down and let her friend catch her. Alara grunted with effort as she picked Shayna up and dunked her. She kept her hands on top of Shayna's head to hold her under for a few seconds.

"Why didn't you warn me?" she asked.

"It wouldn't have been as fun." Talin answered.

Shayna placed her hands at stomach level with her palms facing the water's surface. She quickly raised them up to chest level. The force of this caused a huge splash to drench Alara. She fell back, but was able to greet Shayna with a splash when she surfaced.

After spending a few days in Samarind, Talin dedided that he wanted to go back to the village. His utilitarian magics had become an important part of people's lives there, and he did't feel like waiting for some adventure to pop up. Talin had spent his mornings practicing archery, which he was better at than either of his friends. Upon his leaving, he promised to be in back for the big yearly carnival.

Alara decided to stay in Samarind with Shayna. The house had plenty of room for her, and she had made a couple of new friends. She looked at doing morning exercises as a kind of challenge. Alara found herself looking forward to them, even though she struggled to lift one of the smallest dumbbells. With Shayna's help, Alara was able to use her friend's lightest weights one-handed after only a few weeks. This was due, in equal parts, to Alara's perserverance, elves' innate ability to adapt, and Shayna's body alteration magic abilities. The small dumbbells each weighed as much as Alara did, about twenty-five kilograms. She kept her new abilities secret from her new friends. Alara was waiting for a good time to surprise them. Over the next few months, she progressed up through the next three sizes of weights. Each was twice as heave as the last ones. Alara was only able to perform a few repetitions with the fifth size, though. She liked the way her muscles felt when she used their strength. The closer Alara pushed her muscles to their limits, the better they felt.

Meanwhile, Shayna was content to use the large barbell. She really didn't want her muscles to get any bigger. Shayna's guess as to how Alara was getting stronger was that Alara was gaining some of the strength magic, Which she had in excess.

Talin arrived at the end of rainy season, just as the carnival was getting under way in the human side of Samarind. He had brought some of the village's fruit tarts with him. This made him doubly welcome.

When they went to bathe at the river in late morning, Talin kept his distance from Shayna, saying "I know its my turn for a dunking, but you're not gonna get a chance." Talin positioned himself so that Alara was between Shayna and himself. He poked his tongue out at Shayna. "As long as I keep Alara between us, you can't reach me. Ha. Ha!"

Shayna replied "I guess you've got me out-smarted this time. I'm not going to be able to get you."

Talin crossed his arms and smiled smugly. His look changed to one of surprise as Alara grasped his belt in the front of his pants and lifted him. Talin grasped Alara's arm to keep himself upright as she raised him off the ground.

"You were only halfway right. Shayna's not going to dunk you. *I* am." Alara said, giggling. "Let's see how far I can do this." she said. Alara balanced Talin on one hand, her outstretched fingers supporting him under his stomach. Talin watched Alara's bicep expand from its usual seven inch size to a full thirteen inches around as she flexed it. "Pretty big, huh. It's as hard as iron, too." Alara said. "You should try to squeeze it when you make it back to shore."

Just as Alara was about to throw Tain, Shayna said "Wait." Alara looked at her as she continued. "Remember, you should toss him, not throw him in a straight line."

"Oh. Yeah. Thanks. I almost forgot." Alara then lobbed Talin a good fifteen feet up and out into the river. When Talin surfaced, she said. "You weren't expecting that, were you!" She flexed her muscles, showing off.

Alara felt herself being lifted off the ground. Shayna said "I *don't* have to worry about hurting you, though." She took a few running steps, and threw Alara in a fast one-handed throw. She whooshed straight through the air for fifty-odd feet before impacting onto the surface of the river with a huge splash. It stung when Alara hit the water. Alara knew that she wouldn't have survived the impact just a few months ago.

Alara didn't hold back any of her strength when getting even with Shayna. The shock waves going through the water from their horseplay gave Talin a beating, though. Shayna and Alara both apologized for this. When the dried off and put on fresh clothes, Talin noticed that Alara had muscles that rippled just like Shayna's. They just weren't as big.

After having something to eat, the three went to the carnival. While there, they ran into some of Shayna and Alara's friends.

"The only bad thing about the fair is being able to see the stage acts. I always end up sitting behind a really tall human, about two feet taller than me." one of them said.

"But they do make some *really* good sweets. You three should try some." another said.

"A little later. We just ate lunch." Talin answered.

"You know, this is the first time I've seen you in tights." one said to Alara. "I thought you only wore human-style clothes."

"Really? I never noticed that." she answered. "Ooh. You brought your pet." Alara said as she picked up her friend's cat. She purred at the cat, and it mewed in response. After a few minutes of this, Alara said to the others "Some of the games are rigged. Do you want to teach them a lesson?" She smirked.

"I think I know someone who can show them." one their friends said, looking towards Shayna.

"I guess I could try on one of them." Shayna answered.

They went over to a booth where a person was selling chances to knock over a stack of metal tankards with a light ball. "Three tries for a copper coin!" the owner was shouting.

Shayna paid a coin and was handed three balsa wood balls. She couldn't help but dent the first one with her fingers. She quickly tossed it so the owner wouldn't notice it. It knocked the top mug over and rolled over to where other balls were on the floor.

"You've got to throw it harder than that, little one." The man said. "You've got some muscles there. Just put them to use."

"How am I supposed to do it if the balls are so light?" Shayna asked.

"It just takes skill. See" The man said. He picked up a ball (which Shayna could tell was heavy oak) and threw it hard. It knocked the tankards off the stand. He re-set them and said. "Your turn."

"I guess I'll have to throw it really fast then." Shayna answered. The others tried to hide their giggles. She changed into her felinoid form, taking the game owner by surprise. Shayna threw the ball as fast as she could, sending it at the mugs in a blur. The mug she hit directly was sent through the wooden back wall of the booth. On inspection, it was crumpled in half. The other tankards were left embedded in the wall.

"Thats...Thats cheating. You used some kind of magic." the owner stammered.

"Naw. I just used my muscles." Shayna answeed. "It would have been easier if I had an oak ball like you used instead of this." Shayna changed back to her elven form. She crushed the balsa wood ball to powder in her hand.

"I bet that showed him!" said Talin as they walked away. "He won't be cheating snyone else now."

"There's just one more that's bad." Alara said. "Lets pay them a visit next."

The booth they went up to had a bench with a metal arm set up on it. The huckster called out "Challenge Goliath. One copper will make you ten if you beat him."

Talin paid for a chance. He told the others "Let see how it works." He sat down and grabbed the metal hand. He was instructed to arm wrestle it on the count of three. The owner fiddled with somthing below the backdrop and gave the signal to begin. Talin struggled. The machine made clicking noises as it worked. He eventually won.

The owner paid him and announced "This young elf just won. Who knows who else will!"

They walked away to talk. "I was able to peek behind the backboard." Alara said. It's got some gears and a long lever that he stands on. He pulled a switch and the arm went backwards."

"D'you want to give it a go?" Shayna was asked.

"I think Alara should try." Shayna answered.

"Are you sure?" Alara answered. "I thought we were here to stop them from cheating." Alara paid and took her seat. "Ready." she said. Her friends gathered around her.

"They don't know about her?" Talin whispered to Shayna.

"They will soon." she answered, smiling.

Alara gave a good show of straining against the machine. When the owner asked if she had enough, Alara answered "Just let me catch my breath."

"It'll be ready when you are." the owner said. He went back to hawking his booth to the passing crowds.

Alara took a few deep breaths and grabbed the metal hand again. As Alara pressed against it, her friends watched her bicep slowly expand.

"Neat!" one of them said. They both grasped Alara's bicep and squeezed.

Alara continued pressing against the hand, but it wouldn't budge. Shayna massaged her shoulders, saying "Come on! Just push a little harder."

"Yeah, you can do it." said one of her friends.

Alara felt a tingling run through her body starting at her shoulders. She saw her friends' hands rise up as her bicep went from thirteen to eighteen inches around, splitting the sleeve of her tights. The metal arm moved backwards a little and then snapped off in Alara's hand.

They quickly walked away. Alara just wanted to beat the machine and show off for her friends. "I didn't mean to break it." she said. Later, at her friends prodding (it didn't take much), Alara said "Lets see what else I can do." She led them over to where a blacksmith was working and asked "Could we buy this?" as she pointed to a large metal vice. After paying for it she carried it a little out of the carnival grounds. "I've seen you do stuff like this. I want to give it a try" Alara said to Shayna. She had her friends tighten the vice onto her outstretched arm.

"Are you sure you want to try this? You could get yourself hurt with this." Shayna asked.

"Don't worry. OK. Here goes." Alara said. As she flexed her arm, pressure from her expanding bicep forced the vice to open up. "Hey! That's not what I wanted to happen."

"What did you want?" Talin asked.

"Shayna could you cinch it shut really tight?" Alara asked. Shayna tightened the vice against Alara's partially flexed arm and bent the mechanism so it wouldn't move. The pressure caused Alara to wince once or twice. Alara relaxed her arm and took the vice off. "I've just gotta be able to do it." she said. She put her arm back in it and flexed against it for all she was worth. Her friends giggled when nothing happened.

"You're still stronger than anyone else." one of them said, patting her arm.

Alara felt disappointed. "Here. I'll get it this time, for sure." As she struggled against the vice, Alara felt the tingling sensation come over her again. The vice groaned as its metal jaws were forced apart.

Shayna said "Wow. You did that without any contact with me."

"Uh. Yes. But I feel kinda tired now."

During their next morning's exercises. Alara found that she could now use the sixth size up of dumbbells. "Hey, I'm getting really strong." she said. She flexed her arms. They were shaped more round than Shayna's. Shayna's were more peaked, but much larger.

After exercising, they decided to try out Alara's other abilities to see if they also increased. She and Shayna went out running, passing by trees faster than a horse could gallop. "Wow. I didn't know I cold do this now, too." Alara said. After about half an hour, they came to the camping area that was supposed to take a full day's travel to reach. Neither of them was winded.

That evening, as they were leaving the carnival, they were met by a large thug as they cut between an alleyway. Alara backed against a wall as he approached.

"This is for messing with the games. You don't have time to put up your spells now." He took a hard punch at Alara's stomach. His balled fist was nearly the same size as her trim waist. Alara squealed and shut her eyes as he swung, even though his hand just bounced off of her, inneffectually. He swung again at her, using all his strength to do so. Alara watched him as he did so. His blow felt no harder than the ones she received in practicing fighting.

"Hard. Aren't they" Alara said while the thug rubbed his sore knuckles. She smiled as she tightened her abdominal muscles, revealing a very well-developed six pack. "Why don't you try hitting them now?" she asked.

"Ok. You've got some protection armor magics. They won't help your friend." He put on a set of brass knuckles and took a hard swing at Shayna's stomach.

His hand stopped suddenly as it hit her. He looked down to see his brass knuckles lodged between a pair of Shayna's abdominal muscles. He saw them gain striations as they grew, squeezing his weapon between them. He tried tugging his hand back, but wasn't able to move it and Shayna's muscular weight. When Shayna released the thug's now flattened brass knuckles, Alara grabbed his belt.

"Bullies aren't so scary if you show them up, are they." Alara said.

Shayna fully flexed her bicep to over three feet around and said "What do you think? Should I hit him back?"

"No. We don't want to kill him. Just give him a tap." Alara answered. She lifted him off the ground, letting her bicep fully expand reaching over twenty inches in circumference. She could see and smell that the thug had wet his pants with fright.

Shayna hit him in the stomach just hard enough to knock the wind out of him. They left the thug gasping for breath in the alleyway.