Transmogrification: Part Two
Amid all the screaming going on in the room, Joseph figured nobody was going to hear him knocking, so he decided to let himself in. He stood near the entrance for about five full minutes, ignoring the girl's shrieks, before the Kacheek servant finally noticed him.
"Joseph! What did you give her?" The Kacheek stared at him, paws on her hips, a defiant glare in her eye. Joseph backed off a step, frightened by the sudden show of hostility.
"It's just a joke. I thought that servants had a better sense of humor than that? Seeing as you have nothing to do with such a worthless job..." She cocked an eyebrow at the remark, and he hastily took it back.
"How is turning princess Analeigh into a mutant a joke?! She's hideous!" Another shrieking wail broke out in the corner, where Analeigh had been listening to them. The Kacheek tried to soften the blow a bit with sweeter words. "I'm sorry, Analeigh, you're really not that hideous, just open your eye and you'll see..." She winced as Analeigh started bawling again. Apparently, telling her she only had one eye was not the way to cheer her up.
A smile tugged at the corner of Joseph's mouth, despite his attempts to stay stoic. "If you followed my directions exactly, it should wear off by tonight." When the servant's expression didn't change, his eyes strayed the empty bottle of transmogrification potion. Any beginnings of a smile vanished when he saw it. "Where's the potion?"
The servant replied in a timid whisper. "She gulped the whole thing down in a minute." Joseph shook his head sadly.
"Well, then. I think it'll be a permanent change." There was no inflection in his voice, no change in his facial expression. Analeigh, however, continued to wail, not even realizing that it was her own fault that she was going to be stuck like this.
The servant groaned, slapping her forehead with her hand. "You mean I'm going to be mopping up her drool and listening to her whine with three mouths forever?!" She blanched at the thought.
Joseph nodded. "We could always ask the Wizard if there's a cure..." He scratched his chin thoughtfully, then stared at Analeigh, who had finally quieted down.
"T-there's a cure?" Analeigh's normally high, bell-like voice was now deeper, hoarse and raspy from the crying. Joseph shrugged nonchalantly.
"Maybe. We can go right now, I guess. The Wizard isn't one for dancing, and nobody else will be out in the corridors." He held the door open, waiting for Analeigh to escort herself through it. It took five minutes for her to lift her heavier mouth-ears off the floor and drag herself out on four feet, instead of her normal two. Trying not to look in the many mirrors in the room. Joseph rolled his eyes and closed the door after the servant walked through.
It took about ten minutes to find the Wizard's chamber, their progress hampered by Analeigh's reluctance to move from the shadows of the corridor corners. When they finally got there, Joseph pounded his fist on the door. It creaked open slowly, and he poked his head inside.
Nobody was home. The Wizard must have been off on some errand, perhaps looking for herbs to concoct a new potion. Joseph groaned. He wanted a solution to his mutant problem now.
"He's not here," he mumbled. The servant elbowed her way past him, catching him in the gut on her way by.
"Fine, then. We'll find a solution by ourselves!" Joseph, surprised both by the strength of her blow and her boldness, stood there without a word. Analeigh sat in the corner, curled up in a little ball.
Joseph followed her to the back room-another area forbidden to him, under normal circumstances-and started flipping through books, looking for the potion he had forced on Analeigh. About ten minutes later, the servant let out a little, "A-ha!" of triumph. She pointed at a grotesque picture of an Aisha mid-transmogrification
"This looks right. It's called an Aisha Transmogrification potion? Did the bottle have a label or something?" Joseph shook his head, and the servant read the rest of the page. Her face fell. "Says here that the only way to change it is a magical paintbrush... And those are really, really rare."
"Your point? I have money. I'm sure we can find one somewhere." Analeigh's deep, hoarse voice startled the pair.
"Their point is that there aren't any to buy." All three jumped, once again startled by an unexpected but welcome voice; it was the Wizard. "And without any to buy, how are you to return to your former self? Besides, you can't let the king see you like, well, this." The Wizard's eyes shifted from Analeigh, then to Joseph. "I know what you did," he said softly. Joseph scuffed his boots, staring at a stain on the wall.
The Wizard crossed the room and sat himself on a tiny cot, so squished against the wall that none of them had even realized it was there. He continued to stare at Joseph. "I just don't understand why you did it, is all." When he received no answer-though he didn't really expect one-he closed his eyes wearily. "If you're really desperate, I've heard that Naia the Fountain Faerie has the ability to change your appearance to anything. Anything you wish." He lay full-length on the cot and slowed his breathing, dismissing them.
Confused about the abrupt end of conversation, the trio filed out, feeling they shouldn't linger in a house where the inhabitant was asleep.
They ended up back in Analeigh's chambers, and none of them were quite sure what to say. It seemed as though they had a goal, they had a chance to get her changed, and they had no way to get there while keeping their secret.
"Where does the Fountain Faerie live?" Analeigh asked, trying not look too excited. Her servant pointed up towards the sky, where Faerieland floated on a cloud. She stared at the ceiling. "We're leaving tonight."
Joseph shook his head. "Analeigh, it's too dangerous. There are all sorts of monsters out at night. It's dark, no one will know where you are, we could fall, we might get caught and your father would-"
Analeigh screamed with all three mouths at once, the shout echoing on the walls. "Shut up! I want to leave tonight!"
Joseph's anger rose with his voice. "It doesn't matter what you want, Analeigh, I'm trying to protect you!"
"But it isn't fair!"
Joseph crossed his arms and answered coolly. "Analeigh, I believe that 'fair' is one of those subjective things in which the person who benefits feels it is, and the one who didn't benefit felt it wasn't." She opened her mouths to reply, but thought better of it and shut them again. "That's what I thought. We aren't leaving tonight, and that's final." He headed for the door, tossing his remaining words over his shoulder. "I'll lock you in you're room. Goodnight." The click of the promised lock followed him out.
Her servant started uncovering her rich, dark covers and patted her plump mattress, beckoning the princess. She knew they both needed sleep if they were to set out for Faerieland in the morning.
Joseph poked his head into the royal stables, wrinkling his nose at the rancid smell. Sort of like Analeigh's new breath, he thought. Seeing that nobody was in mucking out the Unis yet, so he grabbed the reins of two--that was all he could lead--and pulled them along. They both whinnied in protest, and when he ignored them, the larger one--a light blue--attempted to bite his finger.
"I'm not just a form of transportation, you know!" she snapped, smirking as Joseph pulled his paws away.
"It's urgent, and a Uni is the fastest way to get to Faerieland. Will you please, please take me and my friends?" It was more of a statement than a question, and he tapped his foot impatiently, annoyed by the fact he had to practically beg them.
The blue Uni smiled a little, and her eyes softened. The other Uni-a green one-continued to stare icily at him. "Alright, I guess. You can just call me Skye. My partner here," she said, inclining her head towards the other Uni, "is just Irving." Joseph nodded and let go of the reigns, figuring that they would appreciate being able to follow him.
The sun was rising over the horizon when they made it to Analeigh's tower. Irving spoke for the first time in five minutes-a high, quite voice that surprised Joseph.
"Why is it so important her Highness gets to Faerieland without her normal escorts?" Joseph hesitated, unsure how to answer.
"You'll see." He scaled the tower wall, fitting his toes into the tinniest crevices in the stone slabs with practiced ease. With a sharp tap on the window, he waited for Analeigh and her servant to appear. He didn't have to wait long as the young Kacheek threw a sturdy rope out, nearly nailing him in the head.
"Trying to knock me down, are you?" he called up, and she stuck her tongue out at him. She helped Analeigh get a grip on the rope, and Joseph slid down, hoping he wouldn't have to catch her. The added weight of her transmogrification might crush him. Thankfully, she got down without hurting anything-though Irving nearly had a heart attack when he saw her-and the servant quickly followed suit. Joseph glanced between her and the two Unis, confused.
"I'm coming with you," she said, as if reading his mind. She mounted Skye with practiced ease; this left Joseph to try and help Analeigh onto the still-retching Irving. He got on behind her, gagging at the smell, to make sure she didn't fall.
"Let's go," he muttered, praying that Irving wouldn't give out when they were ten thousand feet in the air.
To be continued...