Imagine you tried to rob a wizard's tower
The cold stone walls close in on you. There’s fresh, clean straw under you and an empty bucket in one corner. A torch burns resolutely in the hallway. You knew this was a stupid idea. One of the boys in your village convinced you that the wizard is a fraud, that his potions are sugar water and his magical talismans are useless bits of junk. The boy dared you to sneak into the wizard’s tower, steal something, and bring it back. You agreed, but mostly to shut him up. You’re not afraid of the wizard or his alleged power. There’s no such thing as magic, after all.
The wizard’s tower was just outside of the village, at the edge of the forest. If it had any kind of guards or defenders, you’d never seen them. You snuck in through a crack in the wall and looked through shelves of bones and crystals and things you couldn’t even identify, searching for something small enough to slip into your pocket. You were startled by a noise behind you, and even more startled when you turned to look at the source. A little humanlike figure, about the size of a pigeon, sat perched on a shelf and grinned at you. It spread out its batlike wings and said something in a language you’d never heard, a few syllables that echoed strangely in the small room. Everything went black, and when you woke up, you were in a cell.
So here you are, imprisoned. There’s a man looking at you through the barred door. He’s a short and slight, with a neatly trimmed beard. You’ve seen him before, hawking the wizard’s wares in the village market, all smiles and lofty promises as he peddled healing potions and fertility charms. He is not smiling now.
“Why did you invade my tower?” he asks. “Go on, let’s hear it.”
You’ve always assumed that he was actually the wizard’s assistant, or just a hireling. He looks nothing like you’ve always pictured wizards. He’s wearing a look of extreme annoyance and the kind of tunic and trousers that wouldn’t look out of place on the village innkeeper. You don’t know what you expected. Elaborate robes and a long gray beard. For some unknowable reason, you’re unwise enough to say so.
“The robes are only for ceremonial use,” he says. “They are dreadfully uncomfortable. I can’t be bothered to wear them all the time. You break into my home, and now you expect me to walk around draped in all that nonsense just to meet your expectations?”
Lost for words, you can only shake your head.
“And what about you?” he asks, crossing his arms. “Why are you here? I warn you, I won’t take pity on you no matter how heartrending your story is. Your mother’s dying from some horrible disease the healers have never seen before? Is it your sister? Are your crops failing? I rather liked the thief who said he needed a lucky charm so he could win enough gold to pay off his gambling debts. I can imagine how he got into trouble in the first place.”
“A boy in the village dared me,” you admit, and your voice comes out as little more than a whisper. It sounds pathetic even to you. Your heart is pounding and if you weren’t still on the ground, you’d probably collapse anyway. “I only said yes so he’d shut up. I didn’t even take anything. I swear, I’ll never come here again-” You trail off as the words die in your throat.
The wizard closes his eyes and sighs deeply. “Those charms I sell in the market? Those are mere trinkets,” he says. “Little things to keep the villagers happy. You have no idea what I can really do. If you ran off with something really dangerous, you could unleash horrors you can’t even imagine. I mean hellfire raining from the skies, cattle transforming into ravenous beasts. And that would be the least of it. You could end the world.”
“I’m sorry,” you try to say, but it just comes out as a squeaking noise.
He’s still glaring at you, but something in his expression actually seems to soften a little. “Still, you’re honest,” he says. “That’s a rare trait.”
“Are you going to let me go?” you ask.
The little winged creature is sitting on his shoulder. It chitters at you and draws one slender finger across its throat.
The wizard smiles coldly. “Eventually,” he says. “I can’t let intruders just run off on their merry way. You might decide to pay me a return visit. Or tell someone that I’m soft on thievery.” He pulls a bottle out of his pocket and holds it up to the bars. It’s clear glass, with a cork trapping some clear reddish liquid inside. “Here’s the deal. Drink this, endure what’s going to happen to you, and then you can go. Don’t drink it, and you’ll stay locked in this cell forever or until I find another use for you and all those delightful organs of yours. You would not believe what you can do with a human spleen.”
You hesitate. “Endure” is a very scary word, considering your current situation. But he did promise to let you go, and whatever that potion does can’t be worse than staying locked up forever. At least, you hope not.
The potion bottle clinks against cold iron as you pull it through the bars.. It’s heavier than it looks. “What is it?” you ask, studying the contents. “What’s going to happen to me if I drink this?”
“And ruin the surprise? It will hurt,” he says. “It won’t kill you. If I wanted to kill you, I wouldn’t have bothered with the cell or dangling the thought of freedom out in front of you. I’m not that sadistic. Well, I am. But only sometimes.”
It’s still not very reassuring, but what he’s saying makes sense. He hasn’t hurt you so far, besides locking you up. And to be honest, taking his offer is the best option you have available. “Okay,” you say. “I’ll drink it. And then do you swear by the Light that you’ll let me go?”
The wizard is quiet for a moment. “The Light and I are not on particularly good terms,” he says. “But if it puts you more at ease, I swear by the Light that I’ll release you alive and unharmed.”
Somehow, it doesn’t put you at ease at all. But you believe him.
You try to open the potion bottle. The cork’s wedged in tightly and your hands are shaking too hard to pull it out. The little winged creature flutters off the wizard’s shoulder, flies right through the door, and lands beside you. Its agile fingers work the cork out easily, and the creature holds the bottle out to you expectantly. The potion smells like herbs and something you can’t quite identify.
“My familiar will have to stay here to keep you company,” says the wizard. “I can see through its eyes, and it is rather stronger than it appears. I’d advise against trying anything. Now, drink that so I can get back to work.”
Closing your eyes, you swallow the bottle’s contents. It tastes overly sweet and your throat tingles afterwards. You’re tingling all over, actually, and you can feel something shifting deep inside of you. There’s a twinge of pain deep in your belly. “What did I just drink?” you ask, trying to fight off a feeling of impending doom. “What’s happening to me?”
The wizard’s already setting off down the hallway. “You’ll see,” is all he says.
The familiar can’t seem to sit still. It paces up and down the length of your cell, occasionally flying out through the walls and back again. Whenever you try the walls they’re solid rock; the familiar must be able to pass through them magically. Once, you get up to try the door but the familiar just chitters at you menacingly. You sit back down and try to ignore the growing ache in your belly.
It started out as a mild annoyance, so slight you thought you were imagining it. Now it feels like someone’s punched you in the belly; not hard, but it hurts enough to be distracting. It feels like hours have passed but aside from the stomachache, nothing else seems to be happening to you. Maybe the potion really was sugar water after all. Or maybe it just didn’t work. You hope it didn’t work. Then the wizard’ll have to let you go just like he promised, right?
Your clothes are getting tighter around your middle. That’s odd. As you reach down to put a hand on your stomach, an icy rush of panic fills you. Your belly’s growing. It’s slow at first, but it soon starts growing faster. Eventually you have to strip out of your clothes just to make room for your new bulk. Once, a woman in the village gave birth to twins, and you’re bigger now than she ever was. You sit with your back against the cold stone wall and watch as you grow bigger and bigger, pinned beneath your own growing belly. Whatever’s inside you, it’s so heavy that you’re not sure you could stand up if you tried to. You run your hands over your belly, oddly fascinated by the feeling of it under your fingers. Your curiosity almost overcomes the fear.
Something slick is running out of you and down your legs to pool in the straw bedding. You wonder what’s inside you, and if it’s close to being born. Some kind of creature? You’ve heard that pregnant women can feel their babies moving, but you don’t feel anything besides a steadily growing weight. So maybe it’s not a creature.
That’s almost comforting. You’ve been imagining all kinds of horrible scenarios. Now you don’t need to worry that there’s some sort of demon beast about to claw its way out of you. Well, you weren’t worried about that before. You’re a little worried now.
All at once you feel a rush of fluid and some immense weight slipping into your passage. All your other thoughts vanish. There’s something inside you and you need to get it out, that’s all you know. You push, but you feel like the thing inside you is barely moving at all. You whimper in pain as you push harder, and you think you can feel it just barely inching its way down your passage.
You can feel your skin bulge outwards as the thing moves downwards one agonizing push at a time. The wizard said it would hurt, but this is so much worse than you feared. You feel tears streaming down your face as you try to force the thing out. You can feel it straining for release at your entrance. It’s barely half out and it’s already stretching you impossibly wide. By the Light, it feels like you’re going to split open. But you don’t, and you watch dumbfounded as an egg slides out of you.
An egg. You’re being held prisoner by a sadistic wizard, and he’s forcing you to lay eggs. It would be almost funny if you weren’t in so much pain right now. You let out a groan as another one enters your passage, begging you to squeeze it out. Again, you start to push, and again, you feel like the egg is barely moving at all. You scream, but it dissolves into helpless sobbing.
This is impossible. That first egg felt bigger than anything you could possibly squeeze out, and who knows how many more you have inside you? The wizard said he’d release you “eventually”. What does that even mean? How long does he expect to keep you here? Hours? Days? Weeks?
The familiar picks up your egg and flies out of the cell with it, apparently having no trouble carrying an object bigger than itself. You wonder where they’re going, what the wizard intends for these eggs. But then you need to push again and the effort drives everything else out of your mind.
The second doesn’t come much easier, but after another exhausting ordeal an egg drops out of you and onto the straw below. And, again, the familiar scoops it up and flies off with it to who knows where. You feel a third egg enter your passage. Then a fourth, a fifth. You’re losing count. All you can do is keep laying eggs and pray that there’s an end in sight.
They start coming faster and faster. After you birth each egg you barely have time to catch your breath before the next one starts working its way out. You barely noticed it through the haze of pain but now you realize that your belly hasn’t been shrinking. In fact, it’s growing. New eggs are forming inside you faster than you can push them out.
A horrible thought occurs to you.
“When I lay them all, that’s it?” you ask the familiar, between gasps. “He’ll let me go?”
The familiar nods excitedly.
“But-” You thought you were out of tears but now you can feel more welling up. You just keep growing more. You’ve been tricked. The wizard lied. He’s never going to let you go. You’ll just stay here in this cell forever, spewing out eggs until you die, wondering when the tide will finally stop. Your throat’s already hoarse, but you scream as another egg starts to slide down your passage.
You cry in relief when you notice that your belly is finally shrinking. By the end, the eggs just slide out of you with no resistance; you couldn’t stop them even if you wanted to. Your hole is stretched beyond recognition and every part of you hurts. You lie there in the straw, too spent to move. “Please, let it be over,” you whisper. You’ll never steal anything ever again. You’ll go to the Chapel of the Light every Sun’s Day and pray for forgiveness. You’ll kill the bastard who dared you to come here in the first place.
The wizard steps into view in the hallway as his familiar carries the last egg away. “Normally I give my guests a second or third dose of the ovigenesis potion,” he says, by way of greeting. “But, well, you were honest with me. If you like, you can have this instead.”
The potion in his hands now is one you recognize. It’s one of the milky-pink healing potions he sells in the marketplace. He offers it to you and you drink it down without an argument. It takes effect almost instantly. Your pain fades and you can feel your poor, abused muscles repairing themselves. In a few minutes you feel almost as good as new. Almost.
You were too exhausted to realize that you’re still naked. Naked in front of a strange man who has you locked in a cell. Reflexively, you cover yourself.
The wizard chuckles a little. “I can see through my familiar’s eyes, remember? I’ve seen all you have to offer and I have no prurient interest in your body. To me, you’re just a source of raw materials.”
You really don’t like the way he says that. Your hands stay where they are and you look over at your discarded clothing. Your discarded, wet clothing. Ugh.
“I can clean the…assorted fluids out of your clothes. You know, with magic.” He mutters something and waves his hands. The familiar neatly folds your clothes and lays them on a dry patch of straw. “There we go. Do you have any other pressing needs? A glass of water, perhaps?”
You answer no. Actually, you’d love a cold drink of water right now but besides the healing potion, you’re not sure you’d feel safe drinking anything he might offer you.
The wizard shrugs. “As I promised, you’re alive and unharmed. Mostly unharmed, at least. My healing potion will take care of that. I’m sure you can feel it working already. When you’ve recovered, you can leave.” He turns and walks off into the darkened hallways.
Strength returns to your body and your poor, abused hole even starts to close up. When you feel confident that you can stand without falling over, you dress yourself and follow the chittering familiar out through the wizard’s dungeons. You head out through the tower’s front doors and into the night. Outside, the breeze smells sweeter than the finest perfume. You stagger home and collapse into your bed, sleeping soundly until well into the afternoon.
You never go near the tower again. The village boy shows up at your house the next day and asks what happened. You’re tempted to punch him, but you don’t have the strength. Instead, you tell him to fuck off as viciously as you can manage. He doesn’t bother you again.
But it doesn’t quite end there. You try to avoid the wizard’s stall on market days but somehow he’s always right in your path, and he always greets you with a wide smile and a cheerful “Well, if it isn’t my favorite customer!” Sometimes, he tries to offer you a very familiar red potion. Your heart stops when you see it, but then he gives you a wink and slips the bottle back into some hidden pocket.
Lately he’s been selling “dragon’s egg” potions and carved amulets. Whenever you see them set out and glinting in the sunlight, you ache somewhere deep inside. You’re sure those eggs didn’t come out of any dragon, but you can never work up the nerve to ask.
You develop a profound sense of appreciation for chickens and egg-laying creatures of all kinds. You can never look at an omelette the same way again.
And it turns out that the potion never truly wore off. Once every few months, you’re awakened in the middle of the night by a sharp pain in your abdomen. The wizard’s familiar swoops in as you push a giant egg out of yourself, cackling to itself as it watches you strain. Laying the egg is always worse than you remember; every push feels useless, like the egg’s trying to cling to your insides out of sheer spite. Eventually it crowns and then slides out, leaving a void where your insides were stretched around it.
Every time, you wonder if this egg will really be the last one. Every time, you ask the familiar to tell the wizard you’re sorry, you never meant any harm, and can he fix what the potion did to you?
The familiar just grins at you and flies off into the night, holding your newborn egg in its arms.
(Hi! I’m deepoceanblue and when I sat down at my computer, this happened. Thanks for reading <3)