The Syrup - Stuck

Never buy the cheap stuff. Wasn't that what his mother had always said? And not just about meat at the grocery store or over the counter medicine - about everything. Cheap clothes? Not worth it. Cheap food? Probably unhealthy. Cheap phones? You'll have to replace them in 6 months anyway, so why bother? He should have known it would apply to magic items, too.


But the shop had been having a sale, and some of the Ever Changing Syrup had been on a super deal and how could he pass up the chance to spike his wife's drink? She would go down all furry and yowl at him a bit, it would wear off in 20 minutes, they would laugh. It was supposed to be funny.


This wasn't funny.


Elaine was stretched out in front of the fireplace, glossy brown feathers fluffed to absorb the heat from the flames, wicked beak resting on her forepaws. As far as he could tell, the syrup had turned her into a dog, then a cat, then a bird, and tried to turn her into a cat again before it ran out of juice. Or maybe it hadn't been intended for mythical creatures and had turned her into a gryphon, then the spell malfunctioned? All things considered, a 150-pound gryphon wasn't the worst thing he could have had in his house, but it certainly wasn't a very desirable housemate, especially when his wife's personality and ability to think had apparently been erased.


The door squeaked open and the cook stepped in, looking like he'd just taken a bite out of lemon as he led the doctor into the room. The doctor wasn't an especially tall woman, but she topped the cook by a couple inches, and that seemed to rub him the wrong way. Grumbling to himself, the cook left, and Jason stood, keeping one eye on his wife as he extended a hand to the silver-haired woman. She looked too young to have hair that color, but then magic did weird things to a person. He wasn't going to judge.


"Thanks for coming on such short notice, Doc. I don't know what to do." He gestured to the beast on the hearth rug, who was watching them through half-closed amber eyes.


"Not a problem," said the doctor breezily, shaking his hand before she set her bag down on the floor and she knelt beside the gryphon. "This looks like a sloppy job. Did she cast the spell on herself?"


"No. It was a syrup. I've got the package." He hurried to get it and showed her the empty bottle.


Mrs. Mahoney's Magical Ever-Changing Syrup!

Experience up to 1 form change per minute.

Serving size: 1 bottle.

Effective length: ~20 minutes

(less, if the user is over 200 lbs)


The doctor sighed and fingered the bottle. "There's you're problem." She tapped the label, showing him the light grey words stamped into the border on one side.


EXP02032017


"Oh." Jason felt himself going a little hot in the face, and tried not to think about what kind of trouble he might have caused for his wife just for the sake of a stupid joke. "Can you undo it? I mean, is it reversible?"


"You've got bigger problems than your girl being something that can eat your face," the doctor told him, and Jason thought to himself that she really needed to work on her bedside manner. There was nothing comforting about her tone just now.


"What's that supposed to mean?"


The woman placed a hand on the gryphon's flank. As the beast lifted her head to watch suspiciously, the doctor flattened the feathers along her side from shoulder to hip, briefly exposing the swell of her belly.


"She's carrying eggs."


Jason went as white as a sheet and had to sit down, feeling dizzy. "Oh, snap."


"Oh snap indeed," murmured the doctor, and reached for her bag. "Get yourself something to drink, sir. I'll do what I can for her, but she might have to stay this way until she's laid those eggs."

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©2020 by Eleanor Taylor.

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