Zuri ran her hand along the giraffe's leg, rising on her tiptoes to reach its belly. For the first time, she reached high enough that her fingertips brushed its soft fur. Any other day, this new sensation would bring her excitement and comfort, but today it only served to remind her of what she tried so hard not to think about. The giraffe's leg alone was taller than her. By this time tomorrow, however, Zuri would have grown tall enough to embrace the creature's upper-neck.
At eighteen, Princess Zuri of the Amazons had reached the age of Ascension when her Amazonian physiology would manifest itself. In preparation, her body now had two modes: ravenous hunger and asleep. In the last week, not long after the hunger began, her mother's attendants, male and female, began delivering unsolicited offerings of food—fruit, nuts, vegetables, and plenty of meat. None of those gathered stood higher than her shoulders. Zuri felt strange looming over the same caregivers who had raised her, fed her, and taught her everything she knew.
...and this was only the beginning.
Zuri had not even consciously accepted the offering, but she found herself chomping down mouthfuls of food before she could even express her gratitude. Eating more than she ever thought possible, all watched with respectful silence as she devoured enough for several people. A male among them abruptly drops to his knees, partly out of awe, but more to provide some drapery to hide the pitching of his loincloth. Zuri did not mind but appreciated the gesture.
Finishing her feast, Zuri sat back on her haunches clutching her midsection which had bloated outwards like one of the pregnant maidens. She'd consumed nearly a fifth of her weight in meat, but instead of sick, she felt serene. Her consciousness, formerly sluggish with fatigue, sharpened. She heard the flapping of a bird's wings at the top of a nearby tree with crystal clarity, and crunching of sticks and leaves under the feet of those around her. As Zuri again drifted away from the present, she managed a nod to the assembled, dismissing them. They bowed their heads in return, rose, and left Zuri to settle into a deep slumber.
Zuri awoke to find her sister Akachi sitting in the grass next to her. Akachi had been taller than her older sister since their early teens. In the last week, however, Zuri had grown to stand a half-head taller as her body prepared for Ascension. Akachi casually popped a grape into her mouth, giving Zuri a look of casual curiosity. She had been hanging by her sister's side often as of late—not that Zuri minded.
Zuri gazed around. "How long have I been asleep?"
"Several hours. I considered waking you up, but you looked so peaceful I could not bring myself to."
Zuri could tell by the position of the sun she'd burned most of the remaining hours before the ascension ceremony. She felt a hollowness in the pit of her stomach. "It's almost time, isn't it?"
Akachi bit her lip. "Mother sent me to retrieve you. I was not going say anything. I know transfiguring into demi-goddesshood is a sore subject for you right now."
Zuri sighed. "You will experience it yourself in another year. Does it concern you?"
Akachi swallowed the remaining grapes in her hand. "Nope. I'm awesome now. I have no reason to believe I will not be awesome after."
Zuri forced a chuckle. "Perhaps that is one way to think about it." She climbed to her feet and found she'd grown another few inches during her nap, now standing a full head taller than her sister. The extra inches had mostly accumulated in her legs, and she adjusted her clothing to compensate. Her joints popped as she stretched.
"Wow, you are big!" Akachi exclaimed. "What does it feel like?"
Zuri's face reddened. "It is difficult to describe. Part of me is here, with you. Part of me is elsewhere. I want to be afraid, and I was before. The more I think about it now, the more I think of mother's words."
"It must happen," Akachi said casually picking out the dirt beneath her nails. "She has even started saying it to me. Of course, I've got another year and a half before it happens to me." Akachi talked about the subject as if she were referring to a date as arbitrary as the next equinox, rather than the defining event in the life of Amazonian royalty. Zuri was proud of her sister's maturity, yet also envious.
"So you are not afraid?"
"Why? There is nothing I can do. If anything, it reminds me how much I need to enjoy what I have now. As it is, I do not need to concern myself with village politics, changes in the weather, food rationing, or anything beyond our borders."
"I suppose. But will I still be me?"
"You will still be my sister." Akachi stood up, taking Zuri's now-larger hand in her own. "Come on, I'll walk you over."
The sisters walked, hand in hand, deep into the forest where the light grew dim. Thick foliage limited their visibility, and Zuri took the lead as her preternatural instincts took over. They were both young when their oldest sister had gone through ascension, but finding the place was still second nature. Only the Amazons knew of the ceremony site would occur, a dense area where trees grew in thick bunches around a natural warm spring.
Near the spring, their mother Tara stood patiently and proudly next to a cauldron of hot ceremonial oil. Akachi stopped at the forest edge, giving Zuri's hand a final squeeze before letting her proceed on her own into the clearing. Tara’s expression did not change at the sight of her daughter. While she knew of Zuri's apprehension, it was as natural a part of an Amazon's life as birth and death.
As Zuri approached, she gazed up at Tara. Even with Zuri having grown to just shy of seven feet tall in the last week, Tara stood nearly twice the height of her daughter. Unexpectedly, Tara's already bombastic figure had grown curvier, more matronly than it had been since Akachi's birth. Her hips spread a little wider, her body a little softer, her breasts a lot fuller. Zuri approached until only a whisper's length separated them.
"Will I still be me?"
"That and more. Shall we begin?"
Zuri felt the impulse to say no. "Yes, Mother," she said. For the first time, the word sounded strange.
Tara noticed the consternation on her daughter's face. "Queen. Or perhaps, Tara."
Tara smiled. "Kneel, Zuri."
Zuri obliged. Her older sister Adisa stepped out of the shadows and lifted the cauldron. In the light of the fire, Adisa and Tara's dark skin glowed a rich copper, in stark contrast to Zuri's still pale skin. Something deep inside Zuri put her at ease—everything was happening as it should.
Zuri felt the hot oil on her back. The scalding heat in the at the center of her spine roused every nerve in her body. The heat spread to her limbs, which grew heavy as she collapsed forward onto her elbows. When she thought she would collapse, she felt Tara and Adisa’s hands on her bare chest, holding her up as they spread the oil across her skin. The initial contact jarred her, but she now felt safe, in the arms of her Amazon family.
In a matter of minutes, Tara and Adisa had distributed the oil across the entirety of Zuri's bare skin, gently guiding her from anxiety to serenity. Adisa rolled Zuri onto her back and climbed to her feet. Her role fulfilled, Adisa took the empty iron cauldron in one hand and stepped back, vanishing among the shadows.
Zuri's mind and vision had grown cloudy, and she could barely move her limbs. The hot oil had darkened her skin to a gorgeous tan. Tara, in the meantime, had settled down on the ground next to Zuri. She leaned over her, letting her magnificently swollen breast hang above her daughter's face. The sight of her mother's breast heavy and full stirred something within Zuri. She longed to—
"Drink," Tara said.
Without a second thought, Zuri took her mother's nipple in her mouth and drank in what she could only describe as liquid life. The warm, sweet nectar entering her body satisfied every desire she could conceive of at that moment. After drinking for what seemed an eternity. Zuri removed her lips from her mother's breast, having filled her belly to capacity and then some. She ought to have been sick to her stomach. Instead, she felt wonderfully, unfathomably alive.
And then it began.
All of her nerves and synapses jumped to life, lighting up every fiber of her body. The tingling in her skin turned to a tautness, as a fire burned within her core, emanating to her furthest extremities. Her body stretched in all directions, her limbs creeping across the grass under her as they extended longer. The sensations were sublime, fantastic beyond description.
Her body, already curvy and full, plumped and swelled. Her breasts gorged with mass, straining to contain the power growing within her. Zuri gripped them with her hands, pulling them to her chest even as the soft, warm flesh flowed into her arms. She dropped her hands down to her waist, and her hands impacted her skin sooner than she expected. Where she expected the flesh to be soft, her new mass was taut and sinewy.
An energized Zuri climbed to her feet. Already, she stood chest-high to her mother, yet she continued to grow. A new sense of power and dominance overwhelmed her. She staggered forward, grasping out for something to hold her balance. One hand found a thick tree branch, her fingers reaching most of the way around its girth. A powerful sensation welled up within her, and her body continued to blossom upwards. Her fingers lengthened, constricting the branches until they splintered in her grip.
In a miraculous instant, the tiny details in the world around her sharpened as she entered into a union with all things in her midst. Her ears picked up the distinct voices of her whispering Amazon sisters, as though they were gathered close around her. She saw intricate details in the woods, even in the dim evening light. Zuri could even smell the perspiration of her fellow Amazons as they watched her transformation. The scent grew stronger as they peered through the trees, drawn to her titanic form. Used to the stoicism of their queen, the gathered Amazons stepped back in apprehension as the booming laughter of a freshly ascended Amazon rang in their ears.
The fiery passion within Zuri's body concentrated in her loins and her eyes clenched shut. She screamed in ecstasy as a final rapturous jolt of pleasure brought her to her knees. Her transformation complete, the now twelve-foot Zuri climbed to her feet, taking in the entirety her new perspective for the first time. Her still hot skin glowed a luminescent red, and she waded out into the lake to cool herself. Her powerful legs effortlessly propelled her through the deep water, which steamed upon contact with her. As Zuri reached the middle of the lake, the spring's surface barely reached the underside of her breasts. She giggled as the water lapped at her sensitive skin. The burning resided, and her formerly pale color settled into a dark copper.
The Amazons approached from all sides and began etching the markings of her new tribal rank into Zuri's thick, dark skin. In the far recesses of her mind, Zuri recalled her apprehension over this part of the ceremony. Now, however, the attendants chiseling into her skin only served as another reminder of how she'd changed and what she'd become. Ambition and strength burned within her. There was nothing she could not do.
With her transformation had come a re-evaluation of her place within her tribe. The Queen was still technically her mother, but the familial designation meant less than Tara's rank and wisdom. For the first time in years, Zuri felt a newfound kinship with her older sister Adisa, who stood by her mother's side. In the crowd, Akachi beamed up at Zuri with pride, and Zuri acknowledged her with a stoic nod. The young one had integrity and strength, and Zuri would be proud to welcome her as a peer in a year's time.
With her transformation complete and her rank etched into her skin, Zuri stood again before the assembled tribe. She had become a new creature. At the same time, her love and respect for nature, time, and life had grown. She was now a warrior, empowered to serve her tribe and her home. Her mother placed a hand on Zuri's shoulder and raised the other in the air. All gathered dropped to their knees.
"Amazons, your new Princess."
A respectful stillness settled across the gathered crowd. Zuri, unable to contain herself, let loose an exuberant howl. Heads rose, taking in the sound of her thunderous bellow. All then joined in, signaling to every living thing for miles a new demi-Goddess had joined the ranks.