The Transformation Story Archive Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...

The Number Nine Inn

by Ranma Saotome

Long ago, in far off Cathay, there was only one road between east and west. Many merchants travelled that raod to sell their fabled silk in the barbarian lands across the steppes. Along that route lived a young woman called Lady Nine. She ran an inn just off the road that was famous among travellers for its wheatcakes and the fine herd of of donkeys Lady Nine bred and sold. Many travellers would buy new mounts at her inn to continue their journeys with. Not a night would pass that Lady Nine did not have a full inn.

It was in the year of the Horse, in the Spring and Autumn period of the empire, that a lone traveller trod that fateful road towards the Number Nine Inn. He was a young man, just finished with his schooling and eager to make his mark upon the world. His name was Ming, and the sight of the Number Nine Inn on the horizon filled his heart with gladness. Travelling on foot was a tiring proposition, and even in those early years the empire of China was large and not easily crossed. The thought of a hot meal and warm bed hurried him forward to the inn. "Come in! Come in!" shouted the pretty young woman serving tables. The smell of the dumplings being served made Ming's mouth water. He closed the door behind him and made his way to the large table where other travellers had already started to dine. The merryment of good food and sweet wine quickly ensnared him and he was soon feasting and laughing with the others. When the hostess bent over his shoulder with more dumplings and buns, he smelled the scent of her sweet perfume and without thinking, kissed her on the cheek.

She looked at him with surprise and her cheeks dimpled as she smiled. He couldn't take his eyes off her face, she was so beautiful. Her skin was like the softly ripe peach, and her lips were like a single full red cherry. The sound of her light laughter overpowered all the raucous jeers of the travellers like the wind over the waves of the ocean. His heart raced and it was with longing eyes that he regarded her as she went back to the kitchen. The rest of the night lost meaning for Ming as his thoughts were filled with how he could approach such a beautiful lady. Each time she appeared, his eyes never left her. The aromatic wine and deliscious food lost its appeal to Ming as he could only think of her. The other men at the table, wise and worldly as they were, quickly surmised the young man's condition and left him to his own thoughts as they continued to make merry. "Will you be joining us for breakfast tommorow?" Lady Nine asked as he got up. "We're having our famous buckwheat cakes!" Nodding his head, he caught her sweet smile and decided to go upstairs. Tiring of the loud company, he retired to his own room early and slept in fits and starts.

She entered his room quietly, holding the single candle over his sleeping form. Gazing on the young man, her face softened. She stood there for several minutes regarding him as he slept. He began to stir and when he awoke, he saw the hostess standing in his doorway. "Lady Nine! Mistress! What are you doing here?" he exclaimed. She held her finger to her lips and shushed him as she kneeled besides him. Setting the candle down, she began to disrobe and revealed her desirable figure before his astonished eyes. Without a word, she lay against him, pressing her rounded form against his body. Slowly, she kissed him and he found himself so aroused he began to climax. The wetness enveloped his trousers and with a start, Ming awoke from his dream feverish and sweaty. He was alone in his bed and only the sticky wetness in his crotch remained. He quickly and shamefully went down to the water pump outside and cleaned himself off and grabbed new clothes from his pack. As he dressed, he heard a faint singing coming from the barn. Making his way to a crack in the wall, Ming peeked inside. Inside was Lady Nine singing a strange song as she climbed up a ladder to the loft and brought down a little wooden box. Fascinated, ming squatted down and watched as she opened the box and neatly arranged little wooden men on the dirt floor. As she continued singing, he saw the little men beginning to move in time to the music. They picked up miniature tools and began to hoe and till the dirt. This continued for several hours, and all the while a little wheat field took shape on the floor of the barn. The little men grew the wheat and reaped it, then ground it all up in a minature mill that Lady Nine had brought out. Lady Nine filled a small sack with the flour and then stopped her singing. With that, the wooden men stopped moving and she quickly picked them back up and replaced them in their little box. Having seen enough, Ming whispered to himself "Some enchantment is surely afoot!" and made his way back to the inn. When he was safely back in his room, Ming fumbled in his bags for his travel rations. Finding at last what he was looking for, he quickly stuffed them down his shirt. He slept very little that night.

The next morning, all the other travellers were downstairs ready to eat breakfast when Lady Nine brought out her famous buckwheat cakes. Seeing that ming was missing, she pouted and exclaimed "Oh! Lazy master Ming hasn't roused himself up yet! I guess this first batch of cakes will have to be given to you all then!" With a cheer, the men ravenously devoured the cakes. Within seconds of eating the cakes, they all started coughing. The coughs got louder and rougher, until they burst out with a mighty bray. All the men fell down on all fours. Still braying, their faces changed. Muzzles grew out as their jaws lengthened. Long donkey ears sprouted out and their hair grew shaggy and long. Clothing burst open as their bodies rearranged into the forms of donkeys. Grey fur spread across their skin, and hands and feet became hard and black hooves. Moments later the room was filled with fine grey donkeys. Laughing in glee, Lady Nine drove the confused merchants to the stables.

It wasn't until late that morning that Ming finally stepped down the stairs and greeted Lady Nine. "Well! It seems all the others have already left. Perhaps I should be going on too." She caught him by the sleeve and said coyly "But you can't leave before trying one of my famous cakes! I made this batch just for you." Ming paused and thought about it. "Maybe just one...but I'll need some water to wash it down with." He made for the door. Blocking him, she exclaimed "I'll get it! Just sit yourself down and make yourself comfortable." Nodding his head, he quietly agreed.

As soon as she stepped out the door, ming quickly reached into his shirt and drew forth some cakes he had bought when he started his journey. Replacing the ones on his plate with his own, he stuffed the enchanted cakes in his shirt. When Lady Nine returned with a pitcher of water, he exclaimed "Come and sit with me! These cakes look deliscious! Since you've been so kind to make these for me, the least I can do is share some of my food with you!" With that he drew forth the cakes in his shirt. Placing them on her plate, he began to eat his breakfast. Laughing, she agreed and picked up a cake and bit into it. Almost immediately, her face lengthened and her her ears grew to donkey's ears. Braying, she jumped away from the table and fell to her hands and knees. her clothes split and Ming watched in fascination as her voluptous body changed and grew teats. Her hips widened and her chest expanded. Hands dissolved into hooves and her delicate feet lengthened into hindlegs. Lustrous black fur sprouted all over her skin and a long frisky tail grew from the base of her buttocks.

Tying a rope around her neck, Ming chuckled and stared at the beautiful donkey standing before him. Leading her to the stables, he bridled her and set his bags and pack upon her back. He also tied ropes to the travellers turned donkeys and said "Since I cannot bring you back, and no one else remains to take care of you, I promise will ensure you all have good homes and are not mistreated. Lady Nine here will serve out punishment as my pack animal and you are all welcome to try to add to my herd with her..." Stepping out onto the road, he led the herd of donkeys and continued on his way. Many years later, Ming became known as a rich and prosperous trader. He kept Lady Nine throughout all his travels and found her to be a strong and capable beast. She foaled many times and added many to the exquisite herd of donkeys he owned. Then one day when Ming was very old and on his final caravan, an old man stopped him in the road outside the location of the former Number Nine Inn. Recognizing him as a Taoist sage, Ming greeted him and waited to see what the sage had to say. "Good day! that must be Lady Nine! I'd recognize her anywhere! She has served you well, hasn't she?" Ming nodded and agreed. "Well then I'll tell you right off, she has been punished enough in the eyes of heaven. It's time for you to release her." The old man took ahold of the bridle, then stared right into Ming's eyes. "will you let her go?" he asked. Reluctantly Ming agreed, and with a stroke the old man dispelled the enchantment on Lady Nine. Giggling with glee, she thanked the old man and Ming, and stepped into the ruins of the old inn and with a swirl of smoke, all of it disappeared. It is said that passerbyers on that lonely stretch of road can sometimes still see a quaint little inn with a pretty young woman beckoning them inside. And if those stories are true, then a lonely traveller might just find merry company and get a chance to sup on her still famous buckwheat cakes.

The Number Nine Inn copyright 1996 by Ranma Saotome.

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