They drove in total silence for a few minutes. Julia hadn’t bothered to turn the music back up. Phoebe listened to the rhythmic crunch of gravel and stared keenly out of her window. When she caught sight of Cat in its reflection, she turned and saw him staring dead-ahead at the windshield. For a second his eyes fluttered closed, then he opened them again before glancing at her. She smiled and went back to looking at the lowland woods.

“It’s interesting to think,” he broke the torpor, “how we all have aspects, but they’re so different. Humans and fae and animals, I mean.”

Image: A side view of Cat from the neck-up, his face is slightly turned towards his window and he has a pensive expression. End description.

Save for humans, animals were their aspects in a way that had always felt plain and simple to Phoebe. Her aspect was obviously different from a deer’s. And fae could fully embody their aspects similarly to nonhuman animals, except for their black eyes. Cat completed her train of thought, talking with Yuli about how fae aspects were also- “Vast,” he described them. Yuli agreed.

Yuli would never be able to stray far from their red fox aspect. But they could stray, something only fae were able to do. In front of everyone, they shifted into a large wolfhound. It happened so fast- almost too fast for Phoebe to register. As if Yuli had never looked like a fox. Even their eyes had been replaced by deep brown, loyal, canine ones. “Dog is as far as I can go,” they explained.

Image: Yuli in-between forms, shown from the chest-up. They look mostly like a wolfhound, except the right side of their face still has some vulpine features and markings. Their fur also has streaks of different colors in it. End description.

And the closest a fae could ever get to looking human was to disguise themselves in bits and pieces—an arm or a leg—hoping to lure in a meal. A meal who was worried about a hit pedestrian, a missing hiker, a lost child. Had Yuli ever hunted that way? It was so easy to forget that Yuli had ever hunted at all, during the point in their life before they became Julia’s familiar.

“Do you think plants have aspects like animals do? Or what about, like, an amoeba?” Julia asked.

“What about the Firebird?” added Phoebe. “Or the World Tree?”


Fae aspects are something that I’ve developed over the course of the series. Originally Yuli’s shapeshifting was much less limited; before the plot and world of Katabasis received a massive overhaul I liked the idea of them shifting into an Irish elk as one of their regular forms for example. As I actually started writing the story I realized that I was having more fun playing around with different monstrous fox forms, and felt similarly about other fae characters and their aspects. Due to this I decided that “limitless” shapeshifting would be wasted on fae.

Yuli’s dog form is partly based on a very old OC of mine, a boggart who became trapped as a wolfhound. It’s also partly an homage to Ruth from The Ancient Magus’ Bride manga/anime series.

Want a cameo in Katabasis? See here.

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