Theodore gaped. “THESE are your eggs?”
The massive, man sized speckled eggs were lodged in a shallow mire of mud. Pip the magpie swooped to land on the one in front of him.
“Definitely, yeah. The missus lays them big. Guess they fell out of the nest and down the hill!”
Theodore massaged his brow. “How am I supposed to move these…? They’re huge!”
“Roll ’em. Don’t worry, they’re tougher than you’d think.”
Theodore pulled up his sleeves. He supposed there was nothing else to it. He marched out into the marsh and got to work. It took a great deal of slipping and grunting to dislodge them one by one onto solid ground. By the end of it he was sore, covered in mud, and worried about what else the Whirlwood creatures had in store for him.
“Thanks chief,” Pip said. “I’ll get the wife to do the rest. I think you should see to that lady over there next.”
Theodore wiped the sweat from his brow with a muddy arm. “Who are you-“
He saw Oboe. It took him a moment to realize because something was different. Her short nubby horns had grown thick and long, curling up back behind her head. She was taller too. Somehow her whole body had gotten bigger. But something was wrong. She was red-eyed from crying and looked miserable.
“Oboe?” He said. “Are you okay?”
She buried her face in her hands. “Theo, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry! I did it! I promised you I wouldn’t and I did it anyway and now I don’t know what to do! I’m sorry!!”
“What’s going on? Why are you here? Where’s Perceval?”
Theodore reached out, only to have her pull away. Pip took this as a cue to leave.
“I enchanted the prince!” She said. “He kept pushing me to do it and I broke down! I’m sorry!”
“What?!” He was beside himself. “How could you do that?!”
Fresh tears welled up. Oboe sobbed into her hands and Theodore felt ashamed for snapping at her.
“It’s okay. It’s okay.” It was not, but he moved close to soothe her. “Can you reverse it? Where is he?”
“I don’t know!” Her breathing grew quick and shallow. “He turned into a bird and flew away! I don’t know where he went! He could be anywhere!”
Theodore froze. He forced himself to think it through. “He wanted to escape anyway. Maybe this is okay? It’s better that you enchanted him than someone who might have hurt him. He pressured you to do it, right? Perhaps this is how it should be.”
“No!” Oboe yelled. “Theo, this is NOT okay! I broke a promise! I’m a wicked fairy! A criminal! My magic is against the law and I used it anyway! I have to fix this!”
He pressed a finger to his lips, worried some creature might hear. She was right. She’d broken the law. Anti-transmogrification laws stopped criminals and spies from eluding capture and made sure individuals were held accountable for breaking the law. If any other creature had done this Theodore would expect them to face judgement before the court Justice. But enchanting royalty was too grave a crime. Theodore was terrified of what would happen to Oboe.
“Alright,” he said. “We’ll fix it. We’ll find the prince together. But we need to stay calm and come up with a plan. Can you show me where he flew off from?”
Oboe nodded, choking back a sob. She hurried off and he followed. Theodore prayed that work could wait long enough for him to find the prince.