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[Important message from Recluse! Check the description when you have a moment, please.]

Melfina frowned, gazing into the pantry once more, as if it would change since the last time she'd checked it, not even a full hour ago. There was a shortage of eggs. It was a problem.

Not to say that there wasn't all sorts of food of dozens of other varieties—there certainly were. Ever since Alara had agreed to be the Tower's steadfast grocer and deliverer, the drafty home of the violet-haired sorceress and her elven apprentice had been overflowing with the stuff, comparatively speaking. But eggs were a necessity at the moment! Well, truthfully, they were highly prized at any given point... It seemed it had been a poor season for the chickens of the nearby villages for whatever reason, and Melfina was lucky to find a dozen with her bi-weekly arrangement, recently. But tomorrow was a very special day... the anniversary of her marriage.

She had it all planned out. A cake was already baking in the oven, and with Vanya all but immobilized on one of the upper floors, the elf had the kitchen to herself to finish that and the other surprises. But tomorrow's breakfast was supposed to be omelets, as they were the first meal she had ever cooked for her beloved, what seemed like decades ago.

A single white shell lay in her palm. She'd always thought the things were deceptively heavy, compared to their modest size. Its brothers and sisters from the same carton had all selflessly given themselves to the cake, leaving nothing for the nostalgic, romantic breakfast that the Tower's cute chef had in mind.

Melfina set the tiny thing down on a saucer nearby, then began to pace. Difficult as it was, she found it helped her think. “What to do...” she murmured to herself, hands thrust against the small of her own back, fingers rubbing at the smooth plates running down her spine. Her belly was slightly curved, far smaller than it had once been in the early months of her tutelage, but now far more weighted with responsibility—and power. A violet robe lay draped over the subtle swell of her middle.

She stopped her pacing when she came across her current 'homework,' a hand-sized leather tome sitting propped open on the other end of the counter. Rotunn's Replications and Recursions, a fairly esoteric treatise on the casting of spells designed to duplicate or repeat fractions of reality around the user. “Gotcha.” Melfina grinned. Old Rotunn seemed to think the upper limits of the magic's potential could allow one to 'undo' portions of time itself, allowing one to influence events anew by winding back the clock and causing a given hour or day to recur... but it was the smaller applications that the elf was interested in today.

She painted a small magical circle on the countertop, tracing her finger through a dusting of flour, then set the lone hen's egg in the middle. “Would that he'd spent a little more time describing this technique,” she complained, squinting at the cramped handwriting on the single page of the spell of Duplication. Following this was a fourteen-page lecture on the evils of using said spell on money or other objects of high value, and of the economic repercussions that would emerge from even the most noble of uses. “Heaven forbid that someone use it to make breakfast.” The junior sorceress rolled her eyes.

Splaying her hands above the arcane setup, the dust around the edges of the scribed circle begun to swirl, and Melfina closed her eyes. To think she used to have such trouble even getting a grip on the Pattern! Now she could see the workings in her minds' eye, each spell just a simple pluck of an ethereal string, weaving it around the fabric of her surroundings and into the shape she desired. On the eve of such a milestone, it was easy to look back on all that had transpired, and the things yet to come—like the life inside her. “Once, twice, thrice, and once more,” she counted off, working through the mental hoops in rapid succession. Four doublings would net her more than a dozen, true, but it was better to have too many than not enough.

She opened her eyes again to see the spell in action, but the mild thaumaturgic displays were not to be found. The dust had settled still as a stone, and no glow of magic played across the impromptu ritual space on the counter before her. “What...?” She couldn't remember the last time her magic had fizzled like this! Red-faced with embarrassment, she glanced through the tome again. “This is your fault, Rotunn...” she grumbled.

Her hasty research was interrupted by a nagging light—at first she thought it was casting through the window behind her, but it soon became obvious that the source was much nearer... and far more green. Taking a hasty step back, she could see the faint glow shining out through her dark robes. “My Rubric...!?” How had the magic redirected to the wrong circle? “N-no, I meant the egg...!”

There was a dull, wet, peeling sound, not unlike the noise caused by tearing open an orange with one's bare hands. “Aunngh~!” Melfina went to her knees, her knuckles white as she clutched the edge of the counter. Pressures that she had almost grown unfamiliar with began to make themselves known against the perimeter of her womb, and her skin began to itch as she felt it slide against the insides of her clothes. She was growing...!

There was a muffled 'pop,' and the sensation ended, leaving the raven-haired woman breathing hard and blinking in confusion. Resting her shoulder against the wooden counter before her, she pressed a hand against herself... she could feel the unborn shapes inside her had pushed apart from the configuration she'd grown used to. There was now a sort of 'crease' down the middle of her belly, a shallow dent between two firm lumps...

Then the pressure returned, worse than before. “Oh gods...!” she wailed, as a pulse of growth caused her tummy to thump against the floor between her spread thighs. Another doubling, with two left after this one. It shouldn't be possible! The contents of her womb were undoubtedly so much more complex than the spell's intended target! To manage something like this would've taken much more preparation and manipulation... and yet here she was, squeaking helplessly as her underdeveloped pact-child split and split.

She hauled herself upright as the latest spurt finished, leaving her the size of a prize-winning pumpkin. Her robe pulled itself open, a single clasp barely hanging on beneath her heaving breasts while her emerald-tinted Rubric shone with eldritch light, tracing its runes in green outlines on the walls and ceiling. Her mind spun. She knew of no countermagics for such an unpredictable spell, and so hurriedly waddled to the staircase, seeking her more knowledgeable Mistress...

She hadn't even made it to the second floor when the aching in her hips flared again, the unruly weight of her progeny began to drag her down, halting the progress of each thigh as she tried to lift her clumsy, ever more expectant body up each and every stair. She groaned in frustration, pressing a hand into her taut skin and pushing as if to settle the matter with simple force. “Stop it, you--!”

She blinked in confusion, even as her eyes watered from the stress of her escalating situation. Even now, overpopulated as her womb had become, there were no kicks, no noisome slithers of tendrils under her thinning flesh as her brood became numerous and restless. Only bulging, oddly-round lumps, like her skin was a balloon, bulging out between the ropes of a tight net. “Eggs...?” she whispered. Of course! No wonder her spell's target had been so easily pulled astray!

But there was little time to celebrate. She just managed to haul herself up to the tiny landing between the first and second floors when the final doubling hit. This one had her wailing, clawing at the floor as she felt she might finally run out of room! “N-no...!” Even if she had become as immortal as her teacher had supposed, she refused to leave this world before tomorrow. Arms tight around herself, she heaved with breath, pouring sweat from her fair skin as she felt herself grow more and more vast, the firm ovoid shapes inside her clacking against each other noisily as they slid over each other, jutting against her sensitive flesh in a foolish quest for space.

Then the whole clutch shifted worrisomely, and Melfina screamed.

----------

“What in black Hell is going on down here...?” Vanya called out, her Rubric practically thrumming with power from the sheer layers of levitational charms she'd layered on it, allowing her the momentary luxury of moving about under her own power.

There sat Melfina on the small landing, her clothes soaked and smelling vaguely of brine. Around her were a small army of glistening eggs seemingly carved from jade, and likely many more still stuffed in her overexpectant abdomen. The elf blushed. “I-I multiplied the wrong eggs...”
As part of a clear bribe for :iconriddleaugust:'s YCH for D&December, I offered to write him a short story, and he graciously chose for me to cover a piece he'd done as a gift for me some time before: riddleaugust.deviantart.com/ar… I don't know yet if this is 'canon' in the world of TBO, but it certainly follows on ideas that I've had in mind for Melfina for awhile.

This piece comes after a looong dry spell from me, I realize, and I have to wonder if I have much of any fans left, by this point... but in case you guys are still out there, I have a proposition for you. What if I wrote more stuff like this? Short stories, most likely, but with the possibility of making chapters for longer works again? More collaborations with Riddle, perhaps, or maybe other artists? Reboots or sequels of old titles gathering dust?

Here's the deal. For the past two-ish years, my career has basically been nothing but retail jobs. It's not the worst job in the world, by far, and it pays the bills, if barely. But more and more people in the community are starting to turn their talents into something special--making a living out of the art they create. If feasible, I'd like to join them on Patreon.

Now, I'm not here to demand your money, or to hide my stuff behind a paywall; everything currently here on dA will remain free, in some form or other. What I'm asking for is support. My muse has been drowning in a garbage dumpster somewhere for the past 2-4 years as I continue my search for a 'legit' job that provides me the ability to pay off student loans and such, and I had the thought recently that working at retail might not be so bad if I had a second job, one which allowed me to work from literally anywhere with an Internet connection, was something that I enjoyed doing, and which provided me with a backup source of income that would create the peace of mind that I (apparently?) need to remain focused on writing projects.

So if you want to see more works like this, let me know at the survey below. Seriously, just 1-2 clicks and you're done. If I get enough feedback to think a Patreon stint is worth pursuing, you'll hear more from me later.

www.surveymonkey.com/r/FYYV2ZK
Add a Comment:
 
:icontheagaricode:
theagaricode Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2017
"I have to wonder if I have much of any fans left, by this point...". Of course were still here, it hasn't been THAT long.
Reply
:icondresdenq:
DresdenQ Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017
Love it! I'd forgotten how much I love your writing!
Reply
:icontheblueberryking:
TheBlueberryKing Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2017
Woo! You are back! Unfortunately I do not have any extra laying around, or I would support you on Patreon. Always liked TBO, and hope to see more. Now, with this comment made... I am off to actually read the story. A bit too excited to see you back, had to say something first.
Reply
:iconfudgepops:
Fudgepops Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2017
Bravo! I'd love to see more like this from you, you've quite the following for your work and deservedly so. Not everything has to be a grand multi-part epic after all, sometimes a little bit of very well written fun is the best option, as you've done here. Love it, and I'd love to see more
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:iconreclusivestoryteller:
Thank you, good sir!
Reply
:iconttfioa:
ttfioa Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Done and done! I'd gladly support your work! You're part of reason I started writing! Thanks for sharing this story too.
Reply
:iconfalloutghoul:
falloutghoul Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2017
Great seeing stuff from you again, Recluse. :D
Reply
:icontarquiniuss:
tarquiniuss Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2017
I'm here. Loved TBO, very well done, continuingly excellent descriptions and that's HARD to do. count me in, and thanks
Reply
:iconniulong:
NiuLong Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2017
I really enjoyed Bleak Orchard and its a pleasure to see something new from you again, looking forward to what you have in store
Reply
:icontransvenom:
transvenom Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2017
Love the story! Miss your stories sir. I was a joy to read your work. I wouldn't mind a few short stories from you. :D
Reply
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