By Digital Circe
(man and woman to pig transformation)
Story warnings: religious themes, nudity, sex, violence, profanity
A Jewish merchant has his wall painted with a Judensau by malicious house painters, bringing harm to his reputation and his business. After the attacks on his family escalate, he turns to revenge on those that would make his family like pigs.
Yitzchak ben Hillel was a prosperous man. Despite the many restrictions of the Empire on the occupations a Hebrew could take, he had managed to avoid the reviled field of moneylending that so many of his brethren were forced into. As a young man, he had the luck to have been apprenticed to Eckardus von Dietingen, a master artisan who had seemed not to care what day of the week Yitzchak worshiped his God. He had learned a lot from the master, becoming a proficient sculptor and architect himself, but the most important thing he had gleaned were the dozens of artisan and business contacts Eckardus had introduced him to. They had proved invaluable as Yitzchak started his lucrative career as a merchant, bringing beautiful and exotic things into the city. He had been very successful, and had become wealthy far wealthier than a mere artisan. He now mostly managed his merchant's 'empire', with traveling employees across the continent.
Unfortunately, his great wealth was also a source of envy. Any Hebrew might expect some mistreatment even Yitzchak's friend Yoel ben Tamar, one of the few Jewish physicians in the city, endured the occasional abuse, and his property had been vandalized. But gentiles could do a great deal of damage to a Jew that they felt was above his station, or who had something they wanted. He was careful, in his public persona, not to stir up any unnecessary hostility.
Yitzchak had married well, to the beautiful Nechama bat Nasan. Nechama was a serene and prudent wife, and despite her weak constitution she had produced two strong children in Pinchas and Belia. Pinchas, the younger, hoped to follow his father into the merchant profession; and Belia's grace and beauty had drawn the eye of many a potential suitor.
The real trouble began when Yitzchak ben Hillel renovated his house. It was his own design, spacious and bright, with a large garden. The greatroom was to feature a mural covering an entire wall, and wood and stonework from many different countries would be used in its construction. It would be a fitting place to conduct business, and a comfortable refuge to raise his family. He was careful to acquire decorations for the public places that were neither too Jewish nor too Christian, so as to accommodate any visitor or client.
The construction took months, but as it neared completion, everything seemed worth it. He had not discriminated in hiring Jews or gentiles for the project, and that fact had rankled a bit with some in the Hebrew community. But Yitzchak couldn't afford to appear biased to potential clients, and he hoped that his people would come around.
He had hired two gentiles, Heinz Magendanz and Siegfried Thannhauser, to paint the huge mural. It seemed to take them a long time, but Yitzchak wanted everything to be perfect. After a delay that he thought sufficient to paint two murals, they announced that it was done. It was the last flourish, and he moved his family into their home. It did indeed feel like a place of peace and refuge. He admired the mural, a sprawling landscape that made the side of the house appear to open up on a garden to put Babylon to shame. The plaster work seemed a bit rough, but on the whole, he was happy.
Yitzchak immediately set about arranging a feast to hold in his new greatroom, inviting business contacts, important clients, and local officials. Everyone who mattered would be there. It would be the perfect opportunity to impress; to cement deals and build new ones.
The feast was held a month after Yitzchak and his family moved in. Nechama was radiant, and the food and music were perfect. And for the first hour, all went well. The mural, of course, drew a great deal of attention. It was the showpiece of the greatroom, and Yitzchak was glad he had put the extra time and money into it. It wasn't until the third time he saw a knot of people clustered right up next to it that he began to become curious. Were they examining the fine detail of the painting? Or were they noticing the shoddy plaster work? He went over to surreptitiously find out.
He was a little surprised that no one paid any attention to him as he walked over, so invested were they in the painting. A youth was in the center of the group, and he looked to be rubbing it, but Yitzchak couldn't tell with all the people around. "Lovely, isn't it?" he said, hoping to draw their attention. A few dignitaries looked up.
"There's something underneath!" the youth said, and as the men parted enough for Yitzchak to see, he could tell that the young man was scraping off loose plaster. He was about to yell at him to stop it that the expensive painting was being ruined! But he noticed that the youth was right. As the poor plaster flaked and sloughed off, another elaborate painted image was becoming visible behind it. It looked like a child sitting, his head turned up to look at something above him.
Yitzchak stopped short. What was this? He hadn't paid for any figures to be painted. And if one was, why would the artists cover it up? The figure was beautifully rendered. Had Heinz and Siegfried made this? The merchant almost didn't notice how his expensive landscape was being destroyed, so surprised and perplexed was he at the image.
More people were beginning to pick at the shoddy, loose plaster, causing more places to chip away and reveal the wonder underneath. On the right side of the wall, a hole was opening that appeared to depict a rabbi deeply engaged in study. The section with the child revealed another, and a third, beside him. How could this be? Why would artists paint so many astonishing portraits, just to cover them up?
By now, the whole attention of the guests were on the magic image appearing under the landscape. At this point, Yitzchak too saw no point in stopping them the original mural was ruined; he may as well expose the better painted one. The event might even translate into notoriety for him, and business opportunities down the road. He moved over to the left side, pulling at loose plaster and causing it to fall away from the bright colors underneath. It dawned on him that it must have been intentional the portrait mural had been painted first, and watery plaster had been put over it that would almost immediately crack and peel away, revealing the work underneath. The requested landscape had only then been painted over the top to disguise it. He wondered why anyone would trouble themselves with such a thing.
The area under his fingers almost appeared to be an animal, and Yitzchak redoubled his efforts. But suddenly, he stopped short. He could tell what the animal was it was the head of a gigantic pig. He backed away, shock and nausea welling up in him. A murmur ran through the room, and as he looked around, he saw that most of the image underneath had been revealed. And it filled the Jewish merchant with revulsion.
It was a Judensau. The image consisted of a huge pig nursing Jewish children on her teats, while the rabbi behind her peered attentively into her anus as if looking for the secrets of the universe. Other figures rode the sow's back, mostly naked and amorous Hebrew men clearly waiting their turn for the rabbi to get done. Such perverse pictures were well known in Europe some even appeared in the stonework of the great cathedrals but the humiliation of having such an icon, such a slur, in his own greatroom mortified Yitzchak. People were murmuring amongst themselves about magic, how the second painting had appeared behind the first as a sign of something. Nechama and Belia fled the room, in horror and humiliation. Pinchas faded back against the far wall, pale. Jewish dignitaries mumbled and whispered with each other, and quickly excused themselves from the party. The superstitious buzz amongst the gentile partygoers worried Yitzchak, and he quickly signaled the servants to move the feast to another room.
The party was a disaster. When at last it ended, Yitzchak sat alone in the greatroom, looking at the gigantic, fully exposed slur of a mural. The sow appeared to look back at him regardless of where he was sitting. Piles of flaked-off plaster lay around the floor of the wall. Emotions fought for dominance in the distressed merchant's mind. Humiliation, rage
fear. More than one person who saw it was whispering that it was a sign, a portent from God, and he knew that the gossip would soon be all over Furstenberg. How would it affect his business? His friendships? His social standing?
In the morning, Nechama refused to come down, unwilling to walk through the same room as the Judensau. She was feeling ill, sick with humiliation. Yitzchak went to the town hall to conduct business, but the apparition of the sow was the talk of the town. People tried to avoid him, speaking quietly about the image as though it had been painted by God himself. Two clients backed out of pending deals with him before the day was through.
He went home feeling a great deal of worry, and also anger. Heinz and Siegfried had clearly done this maliciously. And after all he had paid them! Suddenly the delay in creating the mural was no longer surprising. As he returned home, he expected some end to the day's troubles, but it was not to be. He drew up short, seeing Rivka bat Efrayim, a long-term servant, washing and dressing a number of ugly wounds on Pinchas's body. Yitzchak gasped, and Pinchas looked up, one eye swollen shut and numerous other cuts and bruises marring his face. "What happened, my son?" Yitzchak gasped.
But Pinchas just grimaced and looked away. Rivka took Yitzchak aside, speaking quietly so as not to humiliate the boy. "He was beaten up by some of the other young men," she said. "Because of the Judensau."
"And is he embarrassed? Too embarrassed to talk to me?"
"In part, I suppose," Rivka said. "But it's more than that. On some level, he blames you."
"Blames me? Surely my own son is smart enough to see that this is an act of malicious painters and not a sign from God!"
"Yes. But two of the thugs who beat him were Rudolfus Magendanz and Otto Thannhauser. The sons of the gentiles you hired. He says they took a particular glee in it. He thinks, if you had not tried so hard to please outsiders, that none of this would have happened."
Yitzchak closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Why? Why would those men hate me so much that they would do this, and poison their sons against me? I've done nothing but good to them."
"They started as artisans around the same time you did. But where you were successful and grew into a rich merchant, they remain artisans. And while this was because they are neither as talented nor resourceful as you, all they see is your success, and are jealous of it."
Yitzchak sighed, and then walked over to his son, laying a hand on his shoulder. "Remember what the prophet Micah said, Pinchas. 'He has told you what is good. What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God'. We will seek justice, son. But do not abandon the kindness and humility, even when they hurt you for it."
But Pinchas would not look up, so finally Yitzchak went upstairs to see how his wife was doing. Nechama was in bed, with Belia watching over her. His wife seemed to be asleep. He entered quietly and sat next to his daughter. "How is she, child?" he asked.
Belia looked up with red eyes. She had obviously been crying. "She's dying, Father," she whispered.
Yitzchak touched her forehead. "I shall call for a doctor."
"We already have. The blow to her over the sow was hard enough. But now to see her own son beaten so badly she's always had a weak constitution. It's too much for her. There was nothing that Yoel ben Tamar could do."
"How long does she have?" Yitzchak asked dully.
"Not long," Belia replied.
Yitzchak ben Hillel paced long into the night, deep in thought. Despite his best efforts, his life was crumbling around him. Was he to face the tests of Job? Would his neighbors form a pogrom? He didn't know. But neither could he let his wife die.
If there was nothing the doctors could do, perhaps faith would save her. Yitzchak hurried to the home of Moshe ben Yosef ha Rav, the rabbi, pounding on his door until the older man finally answered. He was not particularly pleased to see Yitzchak.
"What do you want, Yitzchak? Do you want me to share your curse?" he groused irritably.
"No, Rabbi. But my wife
my wife is dying, overwhelmed. The doctors cannot save her. I need you to pray to the Lord on her behalf."
At that, Moshe's impatience faded. Nechama's father had been a good friend of his, and he didn't wish ill on the poor woman. But he knew her constitution she had barely survived the birth of Belia. He cleared his throat, thinking. He invited Yitzchak in, looking around to make sure no one saw the pariah enter his house.
"Please, sir. Please help my wife," Yitzchak begged.
The rabbi shuffled his papers, murmuring to himself. "There may be a way," he said slowly. "Although there is a high cost to it."
"Anything," said Yitzchak.
"I am not speaking of money," scolded Moshe. "I am speaking of a spiritual cost."
"I will pay it," the merchant said firmly. "Whatever it entails."
The older man sighed. "Have you ever heard of a גולם?" he asked.
"A golem?" Yitzchak asked. "It's some kind of mindless monster."
"No. It is a person before the spirit enters. A vessel. It is how the Lord created Adam. He formed him from the mud of the earth, then He wrote His word of life on it, and breathed into his nostrils."
"What are you saying?"
"You are an artisan, Yitzchak. If you were to sculpt a body a strong body for your wife's soul, it could be transferred from her dying form to the new shell. You would need to place a scrap of paper with her name and the word of life in her mouth, and if the Lord hears your prayers and mine, her breath will enter the new body as it leaves her old one."
"I'll do it!" the merchant exclaimed.
"Be careful, Yitzchak!" Moshe cautioned. "Once you do this, it can never be undone. Her old body will be dead. And any flaws you make in sculpting the new body, she will be doomed to endure. She may not thank you for this."
"I must try! Please, Rabbi! Give me the word of life!"
The old man looked at Yitzchak for a long moment, but finally, he tore a scrap of paper and wrote on it. Then the rabbi handed him the piece of paper with the precious word. "I will pray for you," he said.
Yitzchak thanked him profusely, and looked at the paper. On it were two words, written in neat script. His wife's name, and the word of life.
"Remember. When you have sculpted the shell, put the paper in her mouth, and she will come to life, becoming the vessel for your wife's soul."
"I will!" Yitzchak vowed. He rushed home, failing in his haste to notice a man near the rabbi's window.
It did not take the merchant long to assemble his clay and his tools. It had been a while since he had sculpted such a piece, but the skill came back to him quickly. He had to pass the odious sow in his greatroom, but he set up in his studio directly beneath Nechama's sickbed, carefully sculpting each feature.
He sculpted her not as she was, lying in her bed dying, nor even as she had been in her youth, when she had been beautiful but frail. This was Nechama perfected, her features beautiful and serene, her skin soft and firm and free of defect. She was tall, with perfect posture, her breasts high and firm, her hips gently rounded. This was a Nechama that would never suffer from a frailty again.
He worked by candlelight at night, doing his best to contain the escalating damage to his business and family by day. It took him three nights to finish the task, racing the ebbing tide of her life. But at last, his masterwork was done. The golem was a portrait of poise and beauty, needing only his wife's soul to make her whole. Yitzchak reached for the scrap of paper, which lay on his workbench next to the sculpture. He glanced up at the ceiling, imagining his wife reborn in a fitting body. But then his nose wrinkled. He smelled smoke.
Yitzchak went to investigate, following the burning smell. It led to his garden, and he started in terror at the sight of plants burning, the fire threatening to consume the house. Quickly he grabbed a blanket and shouted for Rivka, beating at the angry flames. The servant hurried out, bringing pitchers of water to throw on the blaze. Eventually, Pinchas and Belia heard the commotion, and ran out to help. Together, they beat it back before it could do much more than scorch the wood and ruin the garden. Yitzchak panted, nervous and exhausted. This was not an accidental fire. This was arson.
He reentered the house, passing again through the greatroom to reach his studio. The Judensau stared back at him, huge and fat and abhorrent. He looked away. He hoped that these attacks on his family and property would not go on much longer.
As he reentered the studio, though, he froze in terror. There before him was the golem, still shaped like a perfect version of his wife. But parts of it had been resculpted horribly in his absence her nose and mouth had been fashioned into a broad snout, and her ears were large and pig-like. The hands and feet had been shaped to make them more like hooves. And from where he stood, it even looked like a curled tail had been added above her bottom. The shock of the insult made bile rise in his throat. He would have to spend another evening fixing the damage! How dare anyone do this to the image of his wife! He needed to complete the work before she passed away.
But then Yitzchak saw something that made his heart skip in horror. The pig-woman seemed to shift and stretch, breathing in. His eyes darted to the workbench the scrap of paper was gone! Had someone overheard what he was doing? Had someone deliberately destroyed, not a sculpture, but the body of his wife? Yitzchak thought he could hear cruel laughter. The laughter of Heinz Magendanz and Siegfried Thannhauser.
He rushed over to the golem, seeing that she was not clay but soft, beautiful flesh. Her eyes fluttered open, dark and piggy but still Nechama's, clouded with confusion. She stretched, awkwardly. "Yitzchak?" she whispered, a hint of a squeal in her voice. "How did I get down here? Have I been dreaming?"
She tipped a little, unsure on her unfamiliar feet, and Yitzchak caught her, finding himself weeping tears of both bitterness and joy. It was his wife! His beloved Nechama! It had worked, and she lived! But twisted into such a horrible, unclean form! "Yitzchak? What's wrong?" the pig woman asked.
"I thought I had lost you," Yitzchak sobbed. "I couldn't bear that the Judensau had taken your life. I tried. I tried so hard. But I couldn't stop it. I couldn't stop its curse."
She looked at him curiously, but turned at a wail of despair from above. It was Belia, by her mother's bedside, noticing that there was no spirit left in the body.
"Is that Belia? Is she crying for me?" Nechama asked.
"Yes, my love. You were dying. And I sought to create you a new body. But my enemies wouldn't even let me do that! Oh, my dear, beautiful wife! They have turned you into a Judensau!"
"What?" she gasped, and Yitzchak raised her hoof-like hands to her face. Her eyes widened in horror, and she felt her face and snout, looking down at her beautiful but distorted body. "No
no!" she yelled, a squealing lilt coloring her distressed voice. "No! Yitzchak, how has this happened to me?" Tears flowed freely down her cheeks as the enormity of her new body struck her. She shuddered with deep, wrenching sobs of revulsion. She had been cast into a body that was not merely unclean, but subhuman the most unclean of animals!
Yitzchak could do nothing but wrap his arms around her, kissing her hair, his own tears anointing her head. She shuddered against his chest, sobbing at the ruin of her life. He tried to shush and sooth her, but words of comfort would not come.
Suddenly he heard the shattering of a clay vessel, and looked around. Rivka stood there, looking in shock at the man and the pig woman, her lips moving soundlessly. She looked back and forth between her employer and his beast wife, and finally fled, turning and running away. The front door slammed behind her. Rivka's reaction brought Nechama to fresh tears, and she buried her face in her husband's chest. But the commotion brought Pinchas and Belia down, too, and they both stopped short, shocked at the terrible sight before them.
Father?" Pinchas asked, his voice wavering. "What happened?"
He grimaced. "Heinz Magendanz and Siegfried Thannhauser have struck our family in one more way," he said through his tears. "The rabbi gave me a way to give your mother a new body. But they have corrupted it in their jealousy and rage!"
"Mother?" Belia asked, and Nechama looked up, snorted, and dissolved back into tears. Both of her children were looking at her not with love or pity, but horror.
"Pinchas, go get something to help your mother," Yitzchak directed. Pale, he nodded, and hurried out of the room. Belia stayed back, unwilling to impurify herself by being in the same room as a pig.
At last Pinchas returned, with an izmel knife. "I'm sorry," he said tonelessly, pressing the knife into his father's hand, even as he tried to keep his distance from the sow. "It's all I could find." Yitzchak's eyes focused on the small ceremonial blade in his hand, and scowled in disgust. He had expected his son to bring wine, or water. He threw it to the ground, and both his children gasped.
Pinchas's voice quavered. "Surely you
you don't mean to let her live like this surely we have to put her out of her misery!" Nechama began sobbing harder.
Yitzchak turned around, anger etching lines into his face. "She is your mother! Her life is not to be so hastily discarded!"
the omen is coming true!"
"It's not an omen, it is petty vandalism!"
Pinchas scowled, glaring at his father. "I won't live with an unclean beast for a mother! You brought this calamity upon us, you and your gentile-pleasing ways. And look at what you have reaped! You disgust me!"
"Get out," Yitzchak almost whispered, boiling with anger. "And don't come back in until you can speak to your mother with respect!"
"I'm leaving," Pinchas agreed. "But I'm not coming back. I won't be tied to that
that thing. Too many of our own people hate us already! They call us cursed, and shun us! What will happen to us
to her when this is discovered? We will all long for you to have ended it here, with some small dignity!" He turned to go. "Are you coming, Belia?"
Belia looked furtively back and forth between them, her face pale with fear. Nechama glanced up at her, her snuffling sobs sounding like a pig grunting. The daughter stared at the pig woman for a long moment, and then took her brother's hand.
"Belia! Come back!" called Yitzchak, but it was too late. The youths quickly gathered a few of their possessions, and the door slammed behind them. Yitzchak felt very alone.
Pinchas's words proved prophetic. The next day, Yitzchak found his business deals crumbling faster, and even Jewish colleagues were shunning him. Rivka had obviously told others what she saw, and people whispered about him, keeping their distance but still watching him closely. He had left Nechama home alone, now that she was strong enough to care for herself. But he hurried back, worried that someone might try to harm her. Her transformation had not remained a secret for long.
Yitzchak was almost relieved to find that his home had only suffered vandalism in his absence, with windows smashed and crude drawings on the outer walls. He rushed up to his bedroom, gathering his pig wife into his arms and comforting her. She was terrified, fearful that the vandals would try to come in.
"Oh, my love!" she cried. "Why have we been abandoned to this?"
Yitzchak rubbed her shoulder, feeling how little comfort he had to offer. "Remember the Lord's promise to Jeremiah," he whispered. "Attack you they will, but overcome you they cannot. For I am with you and will rescue you."
At last, the frightened pig woman drifted off to sleep, leaving Yitzchak to think and plan. It was obvious that things would get worse before they would get better, and he could expect no Hebrew help against his rivals. Nor would Heinz and Siegfried stop until they had utterly destroyed him. He would have to fight them, and their sons. And he would have to act quickly, while his remaining wealth still afforded him some power.
Yitzchak went down to the basement, past the wine racks to his inner sanctum, where he had placed some of the most valuable curiosities that he had acquired in his travels. Some were weapons, although he passed by a sword and a bow without looking at them. Others were valuable religious artifacts, but he passed by bejeweled chalices and golden combs. He went all the way to the back, and picked up a small amulet; a faint icon inscribed on the polished red stone, held in a gold mount and chain. He looked at it for a long time, considering.
Yitzchak had acquired the amulet a decade ago, from a wealthy Moorish merchant during a trip to Arabia. It did not look unusual or powerful, but even in the dim light there seemed to be a kind of glow about it. The Moor, Najm al-Dīn, had bought it, and laughingly told Yitzchak about a curse it supposedly bore that an ancient Arabic sorcerer had enchanted it to transform a man into a pig. Yitzchak had found the tale amusing as well, but then Najm had called in his latest purchase, a beautiful girl for his harem born Aminah, that he had renamed Ḍaw' al-Ṣabāḥ. Najm ordered Aminah to dance, and she had, both gracefully and beautifully by Yitzchak's impression. But something she did had been offensive to Najm, and in rashness and fury he had pointed the amulet at her, demanding that she become a hog for her insult to him. And then
Yitzchak remembered it vividly. The beautiful dancing girl had started to squeal, her eyes going wide as she felt her body change. She grew fatter, and her delicate nose and mouth grew out into a sow's snout. Before their eyes, she fell to her knees, hands and feet crusting over into hooves and her limbs shrinking to give her a quadruped's build. She squealed frantically as she fattened enough to tear through her gauzy dancing outfit, exposing her corkscrew tail and her once-beautiful breasts as they dwindled into pig teats. Her dark hair had retracted, and finally, after only a few moments, where once had stood a beautiful woman, only a fat sow grunted nervously.
Najm had immediately been overcome with regret, but try as he might, he could not make the amulet restore her. Aminah was forever a beast, unclean by the standards of both the Arabs and the Jews. Najm eventually managed to sell the sow to a sympathetic Christian, who promised to care for her. Wanting also to be rid of the cursed talisman, Najm had tried to sell the amulet to Yitzchak, who had at first refused. But at last he relented, choosing to hide it away where he had intended it never to be used. But now, he held it in his hand. Now, it was a weapon that would allow him to stop Heinz Magendanz and Siegfried Thannhauser before they could do further harm. His fingers closed around the terrible dehumanizing amulet, as he accepted the awful responsibility for using it.
As he walked up and out of his house, he had to cross the greatroom. He looked at the wall, and the Judensau stared back at him, as hideous as always. Mocking him. Galvanizing him onward.
The Magendanzes and the Thannhausers lived close to each other, and he walked purposefully towards the Thannhauser residence. It was early evening time when the wives would be preparing for dinner, but before the men returned home. As Siegfried had only one son, Yitzchak expected to face minimal armed resistance.
The door was open, so Yitzchak simply walked in. The four occupants of the room looked up, surprised. "What are you doing here, Jew?" sneered the son, Otto. "Do you want some of what I gave Pinchas?"
"Get out of my house, yid," Aleidis Thannhauser said, grabbing a fire poker and shaking it at him. Siegfried's lovely daughters, Gerhild and Sophia, both stood, backing away from Yitzchak.
"What's wrong with you, Christ-killer?" Otto said, standing up. "Do you
" But he never got to finish his slur. Yitzchak lifted the amulet, focusing his power on the bully, and immediately he squealed. He looked up in shock for a moment, but the physical changes were already beginning, his ears beginning to stick out of his scruffy hair.
"My son! What are you doing!" screamed Aleidis, and immediately Yitzchak turned the amulet on her, as well. Instantly, she too began her transformation into a sow. Both mother and son collapsed next to each other, fattening and straining their garments. Aleidis looked up at Yitzchak with tear-filled eyes, squealing for mercy. He looked down at her coldly, indifferent to her pleas, and watched her flower into a sow. Her brunette hair had come undone, but it did nothing to hide her new ears and snout. Otto's clothing gave way first, bursting down the middle to reveal his greatly expanded bottom and flitting tail. His sisters gasped, looking at his massively enlarged genitals, as the pig man struggled out of the rags of his pants.
Both Otto and Aleidis were making a lot of noise, but it only sounded like pigs squealing, now. The sow's hair faded away as her snout continued to grow, her once-thin body bloating into a large, elongated form. The boar was even larger, his features more angular, his sparse hair darker and more noticeable on his thick hide. Both had completely shed their clothing, and their human proportions were quickly fading. "Stop it!" screeched Gerhild, but Yitzchak only looked at her coldly.
"An eye for an eye," he said, raising the amulet towards the shaking girls. "A wife for a wife. And a family for a family." Gerhild and Sophia began to thrash about, as the changes took hold of them, too. First one and then the other fell to their knees as their bodies reshaped into swine. Their agitated squeals joined with the others, but unlike Otto and Aleidis, the girls knew exactly what was happening to them.
Both of their prim, pretty noses turned upward, projecting away from their faces. They grunted, and squealed, tears running down their cheeks from dark and piggish eyes. Their legs shortened, thighs gaining mass and tearing through their dresses, hips and shoulders sinking into new, more limited sockets. Shaking fingers and toes clumped up, becoming small hooves. They rubbed against each other for comfort as they transformed, fattening and tearing entirely free of their garments, exposing their new tails. As their teats grew in and their hair disappeared, they looked at each other, realizing what they, too, must look like. Soon, the pair were nothing more than common hogs, like their mother and brother. Both were smaller than the boar, their features somewhat rounder. All four hogs grunted nervously, looking up at the impassive Jew. It was more frightening to them that he wasn't raving mad he was in control of himself. Yitzchak quickly tied rope around the pigs' necks, cutting a switch to drive them. Then, forcing the frightened hogs before him, he went to the Magendanz house.
Before entering, Yitzchak took a moment to center himself. Heinz had two sons, which would increase the risk of one fighting back. And he knew the older, Rudolfus, was a bully like Otto had been. He would have to be quick.
Yitzchak pushed in, pulling out the amulet. The Magendanz house was laid out differently, and only the sons Rudolfus and Johannes, and daughters Berta and Agnes, were in the small front room. It smelled like Cristina, the wife, was in the back cooking, in a separate kitchen.
"What the hell?" Rudolfus exclaimed, shocked by the sight of Yitzchak leading four large pigs like a herdsman. But as he rose to his feet, Yitzchak pointed the amulet at him wordlessly, and he doubled over. Sure enough, the other three youths were reacting faster, but the merchant had carefully placed four fat hogs in their way, and it bought him the time he needed. He targeted Johannes second, and then the older daughter Berta. Watching her siblings fall caused Agnes to recoil in panic, and she began to see them transform in earnest. Rudolfus was farthest along, swollen large in his clothing, but the other two were quickly catching up, putting on bulk as their limbs dwindled into stubby pig hooves. The three could only grunt and squeal miserably, pulling out of their ill-fitting garments. Like Otto, the boars showed an immense growth in the size of their genitals, and their gigantic scrotums swelled out behind them even as their flopping penises grew thick, leathery sheathes.
The sow was not spared the indignity of exposure, and her own beautiful form was bared as it shifted, gaining weight and teats as her full bust shrank, her tousled, golden hair doing a poor job of hiding her new snout. Berta squealed mournfully, her willowy body becoming a stout quadruped, and kicked a hind leg to rid herself of a cloying rag of her dress. Agnes screamed, and Yitzchak leveled the amulet at her, willing the power to mutate her like her siblings. She began to squeal, dropping to all fours, and her sister waddled over to her, licking at her face. The almost-woman wrapped her arms around the neck of the almost-pig as the last of Berta's hair regressed.
The boys had finished their metamorphosis into boars, however, and Yitzchak noticed Rudolfus nosing around Berta's shifting pig genitals, smelling his sister. Johannes was sniffing at the sows Yitzchak had brought in, curious.
A scream from the door to the kitchen brought Yitzchak to attention, and he saw Cristina looking at the scene before her in raw terror. She fell back into the kitchen, gasping, and Yitzchak moved forward, using his herd of swine to block any escape. He looked over at Agnes, who was developing nicely she had shed her clothing as well, and was growing quite similar in appearance to her sister. The biggest difference was her flaxen hair, and the fingers that still had refused to become hooves. As Yitzchak watched, though, both of those problems righted themselves, and soon the man was alone in the room with eight fat, grunting pigs.
Yitzchak entered the tiny kitchen, finding the woman pulling herself to her knees. He looked down on her impassively. Cristina Magendanz was beautiful, her soft blonde hair plaited like a golden crown. She still had a good figure, despite having borne Heinz several strong sons and lovely daughters. After her children were born, though, she had supplemented the family income as a wet nurse, and her enormous bust was a testament to her years of suckling others' babies.
"Why are you doing this?" she gasped, pathetically raising a ladle in her shaking hands. But before he could answer, Berta pushed her way in, snuffling and snorting. Cristina dropped her improvised weapon, her eyes filling with tears, and wrapped her arms around her daughter's neck. "Oh, baby, what has he done to you?" she sobbed. She kissed the pig's head and face repeatedly. "All this for a painting, Yitzchak ben Hillel? All this over a vulgar joke?"
Yitzchak found himself taken aback by the display of emotion. When he spoke, his voice was quiet; almost apologetic. "Your husbands and sons did the same to my wife, and took my children away from me entirely. I am returning in kind what they have wrought. Turning you into the pigs they condemned my wife to be. But I am not hateful. I will
I will care for you and yours well. You will always be hogs, because I cannot let anyone remain to carry on this feud. But you will all live comfortably, and no butcher's blade will ever touch you. I promise."
"You are no better than my husband," Cristina said, looking up at him with tear-filled eyes and all the dignity she could muster.
"No. I am better than him. But you are right he has
diminished me, and for that I am sorry. But it must be done."
Cristina rose shakily to her feet, putting herself protectively between Yitzchak and the sow that had been Berta. She closed her eyes and nodded. "Then do what you must," she said. "I'll love my family in any form."
He looked at her with a respect he had not expected to feel. "You deserved better than Heinz," he said, and raised the amulet again. He shook his head. "You may wish to get down on all fours," Yitzchak added, and turned its power on her.
Cristina did not, trying to stay standing, to maintain her dignity, for as long as possible. But her transformation into a sow was as relentless, as inevitable, as all the others. She snorted, her pretty nose turning up and forming ridges, becoming a snout. Her ears poked out of her hair, growing large and floppy as they repositioned themselves on her head. Cristina's hands hardened, beginning their transformation into hooves. She looked at them briefly but then turned away, repulsed.
Quickly she began to fatten, and started to wobble as her center of balance changed. She was beginning to tear through her garments, and as she stumbled drunkenly, she finally pitched over onto all fours like the beast she was becoming. As she collapsed, her immense breasts fell out of her bodice, swaying weightily under her. Behind them, her waist was expanding and new teats growing in. Her plait had come undone in her struggle, and now her long golden hair dragged the floor.
The pig woman struggled out of her ragged clothes, her thighs becoming squat as her hips realigned, and her pretty bottom swelling into a gigantic swine rump. Her new tail twitched nervously over her bulk, now more and more like a pig. As Yitzchak watched, her head swelled to fit her new body, and her gargantuan breasts reshaped into big, milk-filled pig teats that were far different from the mere nipples on the other sows. At last, her blonde hair regressed away, and it was finished.
Cristina grunted, entirely reduced to a bloated, dark-eyed sow. The pig was noticeably larger than the other sows, although her features were still more rounded and delicate than the angular qualities of the boars. She shuffled about, unsure on her new hooved legs. One of the sow's shoats waddled over to her, and experimentally latched onto a dark nipple. The mother grunted, sadly nuzzling her nursing child with her snout. Yitzchak sighed, and patted the sow gently on the back. "Just your husbands, now, and it'll all be over," he said quietly.
Yitzchak didn't have long to wait. He sat in the Magendanzes' front room, with the hogs positioned between him and the door. The animals were smelling each other and feeling out their new bodies, offering each other what little comfort their new forms would allow. But the boars were taking an even greater interest in the plump hindquarters of the sows clearly, some base instinct was entering their thoughts.
Soon, Yitzchak heard Heinz and Siegfried approaching, laughing together about the misfortune of some co-worker earlier in the day. But before Siegfried could move on, Heinz stopped him. "Hear that?" he asked.
"No," Siegfried replied. "What is it?"
"I don't know. I don't hear anything. Not my wife, or my kids. And I don't smell dinner."
"Do you think Cristina left you? I told you that you should watch the bitch. Woman with tits like that, going into other people's houses shit, there's no telling how often she's been cuckolding you." Cristina squealed softly, heartbroken at the unflattering, false accusation.
"I think you may be on to something," Heinz growled. "Come in with me. Something's not right." Yitzchak smiled. He would be able to get them both at once. This would work perfectly.
As they burst through the door, Yitzchak stood, smiling politely. "Welcome home, gentlemen," he said. I have an issue to resolve with you over your destruction of my family."
"Damn yid!" snarled Siegfried. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Seeking justice," Yitzchak exclaimed, leveling the amulet at Siegfried. "For my own wife my own family you too shall be a pig."
Siegfried managed to squeal something in retort, but then he doubled over, feeling the changes wash over him. Heinz reached for a beam of wood to use as a club, but the merchant, safe behind the swine, had all the time he needed to focus the amulet on him, as well.
"What?" Heinz managed, before he too was squealing, sinking to his knees.
Yitzchak stepped forward. "I am turning you both into pigs, like you have done to my wife. And I have taken away your lives and your families, as you have done to mine. But yours are merely turned into swine like you. They will never be stolen from you, as little as you deserve them. As for Cristina's faithfulness, do you know that her last words were that she would love you whatever your form? Even as a simple sow, she's more than you ever were as a man."
Heinz squealed in impotent rage, his face already elongating into a snout. Both of their burly bodies were gaining weight, broadening into fat barrel shapes that tore their clothing. Both tried to struggle toward him, their progress impeded by their own transformations and the fat bodies of their families. Curly tails twitched to life over their broadening behinds, even as their genitals swelled into their massive new animal forms. Gerhild sniffed at her father's huge and ever-expanding testicles, curious.
Both men felt their limbs shorten, bunching up with fat as they settled into new sockets. Siegfried already had hooves, but Heinz's fingers and toes swiftly underwent their metamorphosis too, stiffening into split clumps of keratin. Their eyes became dark and piggish as their heads grew, twisting up to align with their sunken shoulders. Siegfried was the first to shed all his clothing, as his body grew immense, his hair dwindling away and leaving him a grunting boar.
Heinz wasn't far behind, snuffling as his jaw changed, small tusks pushing out of his thickened lips. His expression was almost comical, on a half-pig face. He tried to say something to Yitzchak, but only pig noises came out. And then he too tore through the last of his rags, exposing his rapidly expanding belly and forelegs as they lost all muscle definition, a light expanse of dark, scrubby hair spreading across his shoulders and back. As his snout and ears finished growing, he squealed pathetically, realizing that his fate was sealed.
At last, it was finished, and the two artisans were nothing more than swine. Both adult boars were the biggest of the hogs, although the sow Cristina wasn't too much smaller than her husband. As Yitzchak watched, she waddled over to Heinz, licking his face and nuzzling him in small comfort. Inspired by his example, Berta and Agnes did as well, and then Aledis moved hesitantly over to her boar husband.
Sighing, Yitzchak improvised harnesses and leashes for the hogs, and using his switch, drove them back to his home. He found that Cristina and Johannes 'minded' the best, moving where he led without need for the lash. He deposited the swine in his greatroom, under the picture of the Judensau. Dumping out bowls of fruits and nuts for the pigs to feed on, he went up to his wife, still hiding fearfully in their bedroom lest vandals return. He gathered her in his arms, gently kissing her snout and whispering soothing things to her.
"Oh, my love, what will we do?" Nechama cried softly.
"We won't be pursued. What Heinz Magendanz and Siegfried Thannhauser did to us
they and their families have been turned into pigs in kind. But we must flee from this place. Gather what you want to take, and we will leave tomorrow." Nechama looked at him fearfully, but nodded. He kissed her again, and then retired to his study.
There, he knelt down, waiting to see if, like Job, the Lord would restore his fortunes. He didn't. And he waited to see if his children would be returned to him. They weren't.
At last, in the morning, he arose, and took Nechama to flee the town before worse calamity came. He looked at his beautiful wife, and despite her scarred appearance, he felt content. The Lord had restored to him the most precious thing he had lost. He had not known how high the cost would be. But still, she was alive, and healthy. She was safe.
They gathered up what wealth they had on hand, putting weapons, furniture, food, and treasure in their largest wagon. They took the eleven pigs with them, securing them to the back, and left under cover of darkness, with the pig woman's face veiled. When Cristina first saw Nechama, she nuzzled her in sympathy. Both women could now only look forward to very different lives than the ones they had hoped for. One as a pig, and one as a freak. They felt an immediate connection.
They travelled far away from Furstenberg, using as many of Yitzchak's merchant network contacts as were still loyal to help them, finally settling near Appenzell. He quietly purchased a remote house and farmland, resigned to become a yeoman farmer, well outside of the dangerous cities. He could associate freely with neither Jew nor gentile as he had been accustomed to before.
Still, he was strong enough, and now his wife was free of any frailty. The life of farmers was unfamiliar, but not beyond them. As he led the hogs into their new pen, he looked at the eleven unclean beasts that he never would have considered touching before his wife had been transformed into one. Now, he would never be ritually clean, because he would never allow himself to be separated from her. There would be no place for him among the Jews. And there had never been a place for him among the gentiles. He was an outcast in every world he had known.
After settling into the home, Yitzchak led Heinz, Siegfried, Otto, and Rudolfus out of the pen. Solemnly, he tied the four boars tightly by their necks to the fence, so they couldn't move. Walking behind Heinz, he took out the izmel knife that his son had wanted him to kill his wife with. He looked at it a long moment. And then he drew it across Heinz's huge scrotum. The boar immediately squealed and struggled, but there was nothing he could do to escape. The testicles popped out of the incision, and Yitzchak quickly cut them off, sewing up the opening. Then he moved on to Siegfried, and Otto, and Rudolfus. Each one squealed and tried to break free as they felt their scrotums opened and their balls removed, but none could do anything to save themselves. At last, Yitzchak finished gelding the animals. Only Johannes, who had never beaten his son or disfigured his wife, would have the honor of siring piglets.
He moved the gelded boars back in with the rest of the hogs, drawing all of their attention. "Swine," he said, "What I have done, I have done for justice. But I also love kindness, and seek only to walk humbly with my God. And I will treat you all kindly. As I have promised, I will sustain you all, and none of you need fear the butcher's knife. But you are pigs, and will be kept as such. The sows will be bred by Johannes here, and raise piglets for meat and market. I expect you all to be fruitful, and good mothers. And the gelded boars are to protect your family. Should any predators come near, the four of you are to face them and scare them off. Don't let anything happen to your family. Aside from this, you may play, and eat to contentment, and pass your time however seems best to you. I will feed you and shelter you well. I promise that you will want for nothing."
The three Magendanz sows squealed sadly at that, not fond of the idea of being bred with their brother or son. But they had little choice in the matter, and over the next few weeks, submitted to their new life. All of them found mating as swine to be intensely pleasurable, instinct and primitive sensation provoking ecstasy far beyond that experienced by humans. They came to enjoy it, coupling routinely for pleasure in addition to just breeding piglets. They were very fertile, producing many healthy shoats for Yitzchak to market in the nearby towns.
Nor were Yitzchak and Nechama shy in lovemaking; and her ecstasies, too, were improved as a pig. Within a year, the strange couple welcomed a son. He shared his mother's deformities, although they were less prominent, mixed with Yitzchak's human blood. In the years that followed, they added two pretty daughters and another son, all partially pigs.
Yitzchak supported his reclusive family, marketing the piglets his former enemies bore in Appenzell, and caring for their other needs directly. He missed his life as a merchant; his friends and status. He missed worship, as well. He felt close to God, but missed the formality of rabbis and synagogues. But he was ritually unclean, and would never be welcome in a Jewish community again. He grew used to the solitude his family enjoyed, raising his children with as much of their faith as he could give them. Nechama, too, grew more comfortable with her piggish body, and although she was more solemn than she had been in her youth, she was happy. She had a special knack in caring for the swine, and even seemed to bond with some of the pigs. She was worth every hardship to him, and he was grateful to the Lord for giving her back to him.
Yitzchak tried to leave the swine their trappings of Christianity, as well. Few of them had seemed to him observant, before, but some of the pigs took some comfort in their calendars and symbols, and so he let them feast on Christmas and Easter, to enjoy some of the peace he cherished for himself.
He looked around the sty at his livestock. The massive sow Cristina Magendanz had become grunted softly, nuzzling her latest litter. Yitzchak was happy with how well she had settled into her new role, and what a calming influence the sow had had on her daughters. They behaved themselves as pigs, and so he cared for them kindly. He was even more inclined to treat the boars gently, with the civilizing influence of the sows. They would live and die as pigs but for all that, they would always live comfortably as swine.
All of them had found some measure of happiness, in accepting a life which none of them had desired. But Yitzchak reflected that those who love kindness and walk humbly, do not ever walk alone.