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My mom continually taught me to cherish my actual shape the specific shape I was born in. It changed into presupposed to be my anchor… my authentic self… my middle identity in the course of a lifetime of impermanence.

As a shifter, I can be whatever species, any sex any size, form, or color I want. I can customize my appearance like a living sketchpad. It’s freeing, but this sort of freedom has results. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m nothing but an imposter, continuously copying the ones around me, never including something novel in the world.

My real shape is meant to combat those emotions, and I’ve forgotten it like a vintage pair of socks.

I flex my scaled wings as I waft over the mountainous landscape, scanning for the mythical Tunnel of Enlightenment. There, I desire to find a Satori the handiest creature alive who can inform me who I am. Rumor has it, the Satori can get the right of entry to one’s thoughts, retrieving what was once forgotten. He would possibly just share his information… If I skip his exams.

The longer I drift, the greater uncomfortable I emerge as in my dragon shape. I’ve never felt similar to myself as a dragon. My scales are warm and itchy, and there’s hardly ever any sensation in my thick hide. Worst of all, I have greater limbs than I take care of four legs, two wings, and an annoyingly lengthy tail. My mind struggles to maintain track of all of them.

Finally, I spot a darkish opening at the facet of the best peak. I pump my wings twice as I land on the rocky outcropping. The tunnel earlier than me is dark and slim. I step in the direction of the cave, reworking myself into an elf. Not handiest is that this is my favorite shape, I’m sufficiently small to go into the Satori’s tunnel. Before I lose my resolve, I step into the cavern, relying on the night vision of my elven form.

I stroll for quite a while, moving slowly, scanning the tunnel for traps. Fortunately, there are none. After what appears like hours, I emerge in a round cavern. Seated cross-legged inside the center of the floor is a creature I’ve never seen earlier.

The Satori.

He’s small now not a lot large than me and extraordinarily bushy. He looks as if a move of a monkey and a goblin. As I watch him, he in no way opens his eyes.

What do you are seeking? The Satori asks, his voice deep and garbled from years of inactivity.

I clear my throat. Oh, Enlightened One, I come searching for understanding. Like maximum elves, my voice is mild and ethereal.

Still, the Satori doesn’t open his eyes. I should provide you with a warning, he grumbles. The handiest information I own is of folks that stand before me.

My heart beats more quicker. That is exactly what I am searching for, I insist. You see, I’m a shapeshifter. I… well… I’ve forgotten my true shape. I want help remembering.

The Satori nods his head in the darkness. Very properly. Before I proportion my information, you ought to pass one test.

As you want, Enlightened One. I’ll do whatever. What do you require of me?

Tell me how it came about. The Satori grins mischievously. Why did you neglect, the younger shifter? Was it amnesia? A brain injury, possibly? A stroke? Dementia?

His face is angled right at me, his eyes are still sealed close.

Ummm, no. It wasn’t amnesia, I admit. It wasn’t any of those things. I… I’m ashamed to mention it, it’s proper. I simply forgot. I’ve been in my elf form for so long, I wager the recollections simply form of… diminished.

The Satori nods his head. How long has it been since you’ve taken your authentic shape?

Once again, I’m ashamed to say it. 800 years… perhaps greater.

Hmmm. The Enlightened One ponders this a moment longer. Tell me, young shifter, why do you opt for this elven skin over your unique form?

Immediately, I know the answer. I’ve constantly wanted to stay an extended lifestyle. As a shifter, I age at the rate of my modern form. Take the shape of a fly, and I ought to die in a day… But elves can stay hundreds of years. My true shape, was a while at an unknown fee. It would appear silly to danger it.

The Satori’s lip twitches in a frown. Odds are, your authentic form is a long time slower than an elf, no?

Well, I suppose it’s viable, I admit, “but I didn’t need to take that risk.

The Satori nods his head. If sturdiness is your purpose, why now not take the form of a dragon… or possibly a unicorn. You should stay almost forever?

I… I don’t realize.

The monkey-man sighs, certainly disappointed with my reaction. I’ll give you one ultimate risk, younger shifter. Why did you abandon your actual form? Why avoid it for such a lot of years?

Because… I wrestle with myself, trying to receive reality. Because…

Why, shifter? Speak your reality.

Because I didn’t adore it! I finally gasp. It had too many limbs eight or maybe ten… I can’t don’t forget. It just didn’t experience right. It didn’t feel like me.

Suddenly, the Satori’s eyes snap open. They’re solid black— all-seeing students of indiscernible intensity. They fixate on my face, seeing at once thru my soul. My mind is now on show, and the Satori sees the whole lot.

You have handed the take a look at, the Satori proclaims. His voice is distinct this time. It’s mild and ethereal, like an elf.

It’s my voice.

Unnerved, I take a step and returned. I don’t understand.

I am a mirror of your personal thoughts, the Satori mutters. In order to study your self, you have to first be honest with yourself. That was the check, and also you exceeded it.

So you’ll help me?

The Satori purses his ape-like lips. I can’t let you know something you don’t already recognize. It is you who must assist yourself. As you have so bravely commonplace, you are not at domestic in your unique form. Why go back to it?

Because… I’m confused. Because it’s supposed to be critical. It’s my real form. It’s who I am.

No, the Satori snaps. It is your authentic shape. It isn’t always who you are, but what you have as soon as had been. Your real form is the shape this is authentic to yourself. If you question me, you’ve already located it.

I appearance down at myself, seeing my shape for what it’s miles. I’m tall for an elf, my ears are terribly cliche, lengthy and pointed. My skin is a deep mahogany, and my hair is snow white. I discover the evaluation pleasing. As for my frame, it’s neither female nor masculine, delightfully ambiguous for my part. Lastly, my eyes are a piercing pink. It’s not a conventional look for an elf, it feels proper. It seems like me.

This is it, I eventually whispered. This has been my actual shape all along.

At those words, the Satori closes his eyes, his voice returning to a deep grumble. As you’ve got stated, so it’s far.

Already, a weight has been lifted from my thoughts. Oh, Enlightened One, I can’t thank you sufficiently. How can I repay you for your knowledge?

There isn’t any need to thank me, Satori smiles. You handiest need to thank yourself.

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