"As we thought. You're another inch taller, Brice. How tall is your famous brother Ed?"
"I don't know, sir. Taller than me. Or–" (Grins.) "–he was."
"I'll get the records from Saint-Eloi and find out. Well, the growth spurt is well under way. Don't be surprised or discouraged if you have spells of fatigue or clumsiness. Your arms and legs may be getting longer faster than you can get used to them! I hear you're quite an archer."
"I really like it, doc. They've started calling me Trickshot."
"Carlin and his nicknames. Archery's more eye than hand, but if it falls off, don't be discouraged about that, either; it'll pick up again. Anything else?"
"No sir. I feel great. I wondered why you wanted me for the checkup."
"Oh, we just like to be careful. I thought you might be having a growth spurt and, when I asked, Fletcher thought the same. When a critter as big as you grows quickly, I like to put him on some extra minerals, to make sure the bones stay strong. Here."
"Thank you, sir."
"Sorry they're so big. They're horse pills, really."
(Grins again.) "That's okay, sir. Uh, that kinda reminds me..."
"I had a dream, a nightmare, the other night. I dreamt I woke up and it had worn off. I was just human again, staggering around the barracks, dodging everybody. I, uh, I heard you knew a lot about transformations. That can't happen, can it?"
"I make the sagittae, lad. Surely you knew that?"
"Well, yessir, I just– Um."
"You were trying to be delicate because you'd heard the story about my family curse, right?"
(Blushes furiously.) "Yessir."
(Shrugs.) "Well, it's true. There. Or, at least, as far as I know. I don't really know if a fay cursed my multi-great-grandfather for stealing back his bride, but that's the tale. And certainly transformation is a family preoccupation. But curse? Is it a curse if we've made seemings and shapeshifts into the family business? Anyway, about your nightmare:
"No, no one's ever heard of the transformation wearing off. In fact, it's an oddly stubborn transformation. I might even be able to give you a little extra reassurance and do a bit of research for myself at the same time.
"Lean down, please, so I can check your eyes. ... And ears. ... Let's see your hands. ... Now turn around and pull up your shirt. ... Nice pivot. Agility's going well. That's fine. ... And now take this thermometer for a bit. I love these electronic ones; they're so fast. That'll do. There's more I could look for, but maybe another time.
"Does your brother ever talk about who's chevalin or 'horsey'?"
"Not that I recall, sir."
"It's a bit of a game we play in the DC, but it has some basis. You, Mr. Brice, are très chevalin, very horsey. For most lads, the horse stops at the waist. But some of you are chevalin: there's more infiltration. Have you noticed that your pupils are now oval?"
"No sir. They are?"
"They are. Not slots like a horse's, but ovals. And you have fine fur coming in on the back of your ears. By the time you get your full growth, they'll be pelted like a horse's. Your fingernails are thick. They're not hooves, but they're still thick. And your back: you'll never have a mane, not without more magic, but there's peachfuzz down your spine, so someday you'll have hair growing there like the stuff on your scalp, only shorter. And your body temperature is that of a horse, not midway between horse and man. Ever notice those lighter coarse hairs in your beard?"
"Yessir. I thought I was starting to go grey."
"At your age? This is what greying beard looks like. No, those are horse whiskers in among your man whiskers. If you grow your beard longer, they'll stand free. You'll find they let you tell the direction smells come from, by feeling the draft near your nose.
"So, if you want to put it that way, you are more transformed than most. You and Weldon are the most chevalin members of your class. Extra horsey. You're an extra league further into horsehood. How do you like that?"
"That's great, sir! Thank you!"
"You've always loved horses, haven't you?"
"Yessir, all my life. Thanks again, sir."
"Go have a good gallop." (Writes in notebook, "Daniel Brice. Wish fulfillment. Moderately strong example. Strongly chevalin. Query brother's chevalin level.") "Blast. I should have asked him to wiggle his ears. Another time."
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2017