The beast crouched in the cave's mouth waiting for the good shepherd's return. All but one of its seven heads continued to survey the approaching sheepfold. Its bear haunches flexed, and its leopard skin bristled with anticipation. And how that long scaly tail did wag and wiggle. One of the beast's heads, the lion one, was intent on studying some writing etched on the cave walls. “Very interr-r-resting,” it growled.
This attracted the attention of another head, the horned one. “Intrr-r-riguing,” it bleated.
Before long, the beast had turned entirely from the entrance, and all seven heads were eyeballing the curious inscriptions. Of particular interest was a large Slate Tablet set against the wall.
The beast was so engrossed with these etchings, that the shepherd's arrival caught it completely unawares. No sooner had he stepped into his cave, than the beast whirled around clawing and snarling, with all seven heads belching fire. Undaunted, the old fellow stepped right up and rapped it smartly on the closet snout.
“Ouch!” it yowled, crouching back on its haunches before vanishing in a whiff of air.
“Naughty, Flux! Shame on you for frightening my flock. You know how difficult it is to get strays back in the fold ...” The man was talking to a brightly plumed helmet which hung on a pair of spindly legs—bare legs, not bear legs.
"Geesh! There was no call for that, Fats,” whined a voice from under the helmet.
"There most certainly was!" exclaimed Kosmos, which was the rotund man's name. “You were going to pounce on me, like you did my unsuspecting flock—weren't you!”
Rather than admit to his scheme, Flux, who wasn't a beast at all, but rather a changeling capable of assuming any shape he took a fancy to, changed the subject instead. “What's all that mumbo jumbo scrawled on the walls. Looks like a game of Truth or Dare ...” Flux was studying the inscriptions. “... filled with so many 'Dos' and 'Do nots'. What is it?”
“Think of it as an … instruction manual.”
“On what?” Flux was counting each 'instruction' as he pondered them.