Originally posted August 6, 2011.
Contains: instant weight gain.
I originally posted this with the tag “quick”, and under the category “flash fiction”. I might be pushing the limits of what constitutes “quick” at 2,000 words, and I’m definitely pushing the limits of what constitutes flash fiction. But for me, both the “[quick]” label and the “Flash Fiction” category represent a difference not in length, but in the writing process. Most of my stories are written and edited over the course of several weeks, a necessity when they end up as long as they do. These “[quick]” stories are written and finished in one day. And I like writing them in between (or while) working on my longer works. Not only do they give me a quick burst of the satisfaction of finishing a story, but they allow me to explore a concept that I don’t think can support a longer story, but I still want to write about it. This is definitely one of those cases.
Here, the concept I wanted to explore takes place in a standard RPG fantasy universe. My mental reference was Skyrim with some Oblivion thrown in there, though without mentioning any people, places, or things unique to the Elder Scrolls universe. The idea I had was to see what happens if a low-level warrior, wanting to emulate the more experienced warriors he admires, drinks a high-level healing potion, one way more powerful than he could possibly need. Of course, it has some unforeseen consequences…
Bhaal was a warrior of some renown in the city where he lived. Following in the footsteps of his father before him, he’d trained with a sword and shield since he was a boy and had grown up to become a respected swordsman-for-hire. He was nowhere near the best, though he had aspirations of getting there some day. In the meantime, every night he spent in the hall of the warriors’ guild, where he found shelter and work, reminded him how far he had to go, as he shared the space with warriors stronger and more accomplished than himself. So he bided his time, honing his discipline and trying to emulate the champions around him. It was an admiration that pushed him to be better, but it also got him in trouble more than once.
One of those times came while he was at Lillith’s, the local apothecary. As he browsed her healing potions, Bhaal watched Sarinia, one of the guild’s most accomplished warriors, come in and buy several of Lillith’s most potent healing potions, their strength marked by their bright red hue. Of course, a warrior of her prowess needed the most powerful potions she could get to heal her wounds in battle. But it made Bhaal wonder what might happen if he went into battle with the same elixirs as one of the warriors he admired most.
Of course, the more powerful healing potions weren’t cheap. But Bhaal had just earned a hefty reward after taking a job from a local aristocrat to recover a family heirloom with heavy sentimental value, and there were certainly worse ways he could spend it.
“Could I get some of those healing potions too, Lillith?”
“Oh sure,” she answered as she pulled out some of the lesser brews Bhaal usually bought.
“No, I meant the ones that Sarinia just bought.”
“Oh, um…” Lillith’s eyes flitted side to side nervously. “Look, don’t take this the wrong way, Bhaal, but I, uh… I think those would be too… potent for you. They might have… adverse effects”
“How so?” Bhaal asked, genuinely curious. “When a mage casts a healing spell that’s more powerful than my wounds require, it doesn’t harm me.”
“Yes, but the magic can dissipate when it’s not needed. A potion can’t do that. If you drink more than you need, the extra potency can’t go anywhere, and…” Lillith had a hard time finding the words to explain herself, so she just shook her head and said, “I wouldn’t be comfortable selling you those.”
Hanging his head, Bhaal said, “Alright. Just the usual, then,” before paying for his potions and walking out. Though they were the same healing potions he always bought, he couldn’t help but feel disappointed by their muted red hue. They seemed so dull in comparison to the one’s Sarinia had walked out with.
A few days later, Bhaal had fetched some rare alchemical ingredients from a goblin-infested cave for a local mage. “Oh, thank mana for you,” the mage professed as Bhaal presented him with the strange weed. “What can I do for you in return? Perhaps I can brew some uncommon potions for you? Something you might have a hard time finding at an apothecary’s?”
Bhaal pondered his options, thinking a potion that increased his strength while also making him more nimble could be quite useful, when he got an idea. “Actually, there’s someone in our guild, a really skilled and seasoned warrior, and I owe her a favor. Could you make me some healing potions fit for a champion?”
The mage looked back at Bhaal with inquisitive eyes. “It’s a rather… mundane request… but one I can definitely fulfill.”
In short order, the mage had pulled several ingredients off of the shelf and brewed them into an elixir that shone bright red as it boiled over the flame. He made enough to fill three bottles, which he handed to Bhaal. “Thanks, friend,” Bhaal said as he walked out. He looked down at the elixirs in his hands with glee, for they looked even more vibrantly red than the ones Sarinia had bought.
Bhaal pocketed his potions and headed straight home. He wanted to try one of them away from the battlefield, to know what Lillith could have possibly been so nervous about, before he tried using one when it mattered.
As soon as he got home, Bhaal took off his armor and sat at a table with the three potions in front of him and his sword in hand. He wanted the potion to have an injury to heal when he tried it, so he took a deep breath and cut his arm. He was no stranger to these kinds of wounds on the battlefield, but inflicting one on himself somehow stung worse, even as it barely bled. But he had his test wound, so he took one of the health potions and chugged it like he would mid-battle.
Bhaal immediately felt a surge of energy pour through him, like the rush he felt when he charged into battle. It only took a few seconds until he watched the cut close as quickly as it had opened. Bhaal sat in disbelief and amazement, staring at his arm like he couldn’t believe his own eyes. The potions he used never worked that quickly, and he wondered why Lillith would hold out on him like that. His arm looked good as new, smooth, soft…
Bhaal’s arm looked bulkier than he’d remembered. But when he lifted his arm and flexed it, he found that it didn’t show as much of the muscle definition he’d worked so hard for as it did before. His arm was definitely heftier, but it was like something was hiding the muscles. Flexing his other arm revealed it had suffered the same effect.
Bhaal struggled to explain the change until he let his arms down, his eyes following them, and he saw what had become of his midsection. His once strong and bulky core had been replaced by a paunch more fit for an aristocrat than a warrior like him. He stood up in shock, finding it harder to do so now, and looked down at his now ample belly. Tentatively, he placed his hands on his stomach, not believing it was real until he sunk his hand into his soft, warm flab. It was then that he realized that his shirt was no longer tucked into his pants and had crept up to show his abdomen, as he felt his fingertips touch his skin directly. When he tried to pull his shirt down, it didn’t budge.
Bhaal went right for the mirror in his bedroom, finding he now walked with more of a gait as he moved his new heft. Once he looked at his reflection, he beheld a sight that only moderately resembled his old self. His face had softened with pudgy cheeks and a double chin hanging from his jawline. His chest still retained much of its definition, but through his now-too-tight shirt, Bhaal could see that it had softened too. But his abdomen had completely given in to the transformation. In size, it resembled the stomach of a wealthy trader or a king. But unlike those who lived in luxury, his belly was more spherical and shapely, resembling a large mixing bowl more than a loose burlap sack. Perhaps, he surmised, it had been rounded out by the muscles underneath.
Not that one could tell Bhaal ever had abdominal definition by looking at him. Since his shirt had turned tight and constructing due to his recent growth, he pulled it off, revealing the new heft underneath. He patted the underside of his stomach and watched as the vibrations traveled across his belly, dissipating before they reached the other corner. Giving it a harder pat made the wave travel all the way across, and he giggled as kept playing with his new girth. With a hop, he watched his belly and chest bounce, largely held in place by the muscle underneath. It was pretty good, Bhaal thought, but he knew he could do better.
As quickly as he could, Bhaal walked back to grab the other two potions and returned to his mirror. After pulling the corks off of both, he chugged them down at the same time, putting the bottles down on his dresser and watching the mirror expectantly.
It didn’t take long for the effects to show. It seemed like magic as Bhaal felt his body swell around him, this time able to watch it happen. The change was most noticeable in his belly, which retained its rotund shape but grew out in all directions. Bhaal found himself having to lean back to account for the extra weight, bracing himself as his gut grew heavier. He also had to spread his legs as he grew, not just to hold up his extra weight, but also because his thighs were pushing apart as they became wider.
When his expansion finally stopped, Bhaal couldn’t recognize the man looking back at him in the mirror. His cheeks and chin had joined to make a single ring of fat around his face. His arms were so bulky that they hid all evidence of any muscles underneath them when he flexed. His chest had lost most of its definition and now had a heft of its own as it pushed forward over his belly.
But it was his belly where the change was most pronounced. His midsection had grown beyond the proportions he expected from royalty and nobility and now more resembled the bulbous gut of an overfed troll he might find while escorting a client through a forested area rife with fauna for the troll to grow fat on. It was the height and width of a shield he might have used previously, when it could protect more than just his stomach.
Bhaal gave his gut a pat on the side and the wave barely traveled halfway across his stomach. Not because it wasn’t soft enough to bounce, but because it was too thick for him to move the whole thing with one nudge. He gave it a more vigorous rub, now that he was more into his new size, and grinned as his hands sunk into his flabby gut. Turning his torso to the side, he marveled at how the distance from his back to the front of his belly had doubled.
“I guess the first thing I’m buying with that reward money is a new set of clothes,” Bhaal said to himself as he massaged his gut. “Maybe I could become a berserker. I think my days as a warrior are behind me now,” he surmised as gave his gut several hearty pats. “Better start learning how to use a battle axe.”
Bhaal had been training as a berserker for a few weeks when he next walked into Lillith’s. He’d let his beard and hair grow out and had the start of a shaggy mane on the top and bottom of his head. On his back, he bore a massive axe, the length of which allowed him to take down his foes before they could even get to him, allowing him to forgo armor. Which was fortunate, because he had a different kind of weight to carry around now.
Rather than heavy metal armor, he wore the raiment of his new discipline: leggings made out of furs and a leather harness that ran diagonally across his torso, with a few pockets to hold things he needed. The harness let his massive gut hang out in all its glory, something Bhaal quite enjoyed about his new calling. As he walked through the city, arms swinging widely at his side, he could feel his bare belly bounce with every step. Sometimes people gawked, but the massive axe on his back kept most people from staring for too long.
When Bhaal walked into Lillith’s shop, she nodded at him like he was just another customer. “Hello, Lillith.”
“Good morning,” she said, still looking down at a piece of parchment she was writing on.
“It’s me, Bhaal.”
With a laugh, Lillith replied, “I only know one man with that name, and you’re definitely not him.”
“Oh, but I am. And I know what those potent health potions do now.”
Lillith paused her writing and looked up slowly at Bhaal. When her eyes grew wide with recognition, her jaw dropped.
“And I’d like to buy one, please.”