They Did Not Speak
Some parts of this short story will make little sense unless you read And the Sky Was Alight.
rt thou casting thine Spell properly?” was all it took for me to silence Amulatt. Really, all I wanted was just a moment’s peace from the Eventide Peophin’s incessant questioning, and I got it.
Except one moment turned into a week turned into a month. It was, admittedly, a nice month. I did get a few raised eyebrows from our other housemates, and Aerlliin followed me around for the first week berating me on the proper use of magic and how what I’d done was super irresponsible. After I threatened to do the same to her, she backed off. Very few even knew what I’d done since it’s not like Amulatt does a whole lot of talking to them, anyway. So I didn’t get in trouble for it.
Well, not until an evening reading session with Flutter. Amulatt walked past us, glaring at me.
“Rayneance. What did you do.” It wasn’t a question, it was a demand to know exactly what I’d done to the small Peophin. She didn’t even demand this of me over the edges of her book- she actually put the book down to address me. I knew I was in deep trouble. With her raven colored hair shadowing her face, I couldn’t see her expression. This put my anxiety levels right up there with when someone says ‘we need to talk.’
“It’s not entirely my fault,” I began, but then realized it probably wouldn’t work. “Fine. But I assure you, you’ll see why I did it.”
“Before you begin- can you or Jariev reverse it?” She held up her hand to prevent me from going on with my story. She might be petite for a human, but she really does terrify all of us when she’s mad.
“Totally. Jariev likes the silence, too, though.” She didn’t relax, but put her hand down, permitting me to speak.
Springtime in Altador is always gorgeous. After being stuck inside for so long your eyes start to cross, it’s nice to get outside and work on the projects you needed to set aside because it just became too chilly to work on them anymore. Aerlliin always says I’m too dramatic over the temperature change, since it never snows in Altador. But it does get super wet and super rainy, so we’re still forced indoors for a few months unless you want to be outside in the haze.
In this case, I was gleefully casting the first of my springtime spells. I’d read a few gardening books and there were some garden layouts I wanted to try, but many required focused spellcasting and absolute silence. I’d warned everyone in advance that I’d be in the western gardens (the site of the alien attack last summer) and to leave me alone. I’d gotten most of the salinated and burned areas covered up with sparkling white rocks when I unexpectedly heard someone clearing their throat. I messed up the spell I was casting, sending an entire bed of Rowzez flying clear into the ocean. It was all I could do to not scream at the interrupter for making me lose several thousand Neopoints of flowers.
“Thou art not casting properly. Thine flowers would not have flown into Sloth knows where if thou were casting properly.”
“I was casting just fine until you interrupted. I asked to be left alone.” I liked her a lot better when she wasn’t talking to anyone but Kinnous and Aerlliin. “Please, go haunt some other garden and leave me to this one.” I growled and went back to my significantly diminished supply of flowers. I worked for several minutes in silence, feeling Amulatt’s gaze press on my back like a heavy, very judgmental blanket. I’ll admit that I was just making the situation worse for myself by recognizing her presence. The very fact that she sit, lurking, at the edge of the garden like an unwanted petpet grated on my nerves. So maybe, just maybe, my reaction was a little… unwarranted. But even her breathing was getting annoying to me at this point. I’m sure you can relate?
I was thirty minutes deep into a runic trance when Amulatt opened her mouth again. “Art thou casting thine Spell properly?”
“For the love of SLOTH, will you just be quiet?” I may have moved my hoof in the direction of her mouth, sending a blast of white-hot magic towards her face. It was entirely accidental, a bit of residual magic left over from literally surrounding myself with it for half an hour. I’ll also admit that I felt a little drained after casting it, which probably meant it was more powerful than I’d ever intended. Amulatt was completely silent and I was too tired to keep on with my spellcasting, so it wasn’t even like I got to enjoy the silence I’d created.
Flutter looked at me, her lips pursed and her hands forming one of those serious triangles over most of her features. Her facial expression was flat, and it was difficult to read her. This made me even more uneasy, and I shifted my weight several times in the very uncomfortable silence that followed.
“You are an adult.”
“Amulatt isn’t even half your age, and she was just trying to help you.”
“Probably.” Flutter’s head shifted imperceptibly so the light now reflected off of her glasses in a dull shine. “Yes?”
“Do you think, in hindsight, that this was probably a bad idea? I thought you had control over your magic.” She sighed, which relaxed her shoulders. It was a look of defeat that I’d seen her use on other pets, but never me. I immediately felt about three inches tall. “What’s done is done. Let’s go find her and see what Jariev can do to fix it.”
Jariev is an ancient Uni, as old as the ground she walks on and older than the Shadowed Vale she calls home. Her eyes don’t see like they used to, but she does see the world in magical leylines. It’s pretty fascinating, but it also meant that for this situation, there was no hiding what I’d done. I hung my head in shame, not meeting what passed for the old mare’s gaze. The sigh that came out of her was much the same as Flutter’s, though more long winded and far more critical. I hid behind Flutter, though it didn’t do much good.
“Rayneance, I assume this tongue-tie curse is your doing?” Jariev asked after several minutes of looking between Amulatt and myself, studying the space between us. Amulatt nodded her head accusingly and fired off a barrage of mute insults. The look on her face told me it was a good thing I couldn’t hear them. “I know you are upset, child, but that doesn’t mean you need to call Rayneance such names.”
“Can you fix it, Jari? You’re the only one-“
“No,” the old mare interrupted Flutter. “I cannot fix this. It is a link forged in anger, a spell cast in haste and frustration. Until both mares have forgiven each other for injury caused, this curse will remain.” She teleported us out of her home, and we were in the middle of the Hall of Heroes. I was just thankful she didn’t send us into the Perfectly Flat Rock Quarry again.
“You two have some making up to do. And fast, because the tension between you two is so strong I could cut it with a butter knife.” Her words were terse, like she wasn’t really happy with either of us. “It’s been over a month and seriously, you two are adults. Sort this out. I’m going to go make sure nobody set the house on fire again.” She took off in a flurry of black skirts, leaving us both (well, me) speechless. Neither of us could ever remember a time where she wasn’t the one to settle our arguments, petty or house-wide.
“I suppose this isn’t something we can just talk out, right?” I flinched when the smaller Peophin glared at me with such venom I thought I was going to faint. “No, I mean like… I can’t just apologize for this and you forgive me?” She sat down, coiling her hind end around her legs like a snake, and shook her head. She stomped her feet several times, trying to get a point across that I would never hear.
“No matter how frequently you do that, nobody can understand what you’re doing. And seriously, it was a month ago. I’ve already dropped being mad about the plants, why can’t you stop being mad about an accidental spell?” I really should have watched what I said, because the petite Peophin promptly cast a silence spell on me, as well. We were both now unable to speak and get our points across and were miles away from home, unable to hail a cab. She grinned at me as my own fury built up in my heart.
This, ladies and gentlemen, started a small-scale battle between two short Peophin mares in the Hall of Heroes that, I must admit, I am not proud of. It caused the destruction of several ancient Altadorian artefacts, seven windows, a book case in the hall proper, half of the Hall of Heroes library, and eventually poured out into the street where we demolished a large fountain and sixteen smaller ones. I’m still not even entirely certain what spells she cast on me, though I aimed several Enlargement spells at her and twenty-seven fireballs.
She narrowly avoided my last Enlargement spell and it hit a column behind her, which became comically large. We squared off in the center of the street, like an old fashioned duel. But at this point, we were both exhausted, having spent most of our mana pools and virtually all of the reserves we were instructed to keep. Panting, sweating, and at the end of our ropes, we both began casting a spell that would finish off our opponent. Jariev calls it a ‘sleeping spell’ that makes someone go to sleep for thirty hours. Our spellcasting was interrupted, however, by a high-pitched hum that quickly deafened those that were watching our duel. Their hands, paws, and claws all shot up to their ears. Amulatt and I looked upward, instead.
Just as it had happened last year, we were being invaded, and of course Amulatt and I had done the one thing Jariev told us not to do. Used every bit of mana, and for what? A petty squabble? I know I was embarrassed, and that Amulatt felt the same way. We also knew there was no way we’d be able to fight any further in our conditions, so we did the next best thing, nodding in silent agreement. I took off for home to alert Doe that her alien-exploding expertise was needed in Altador itself, and Amulatt took off towards the Hall of Heroes itself, looking for King Altador. Neither of us needed to go very far, thankfully, as Doe was already on her way and King Altador was looking for the miscreants responsible for destroying so much of his property. (Oops.)
“Ance, sugarcube, this isn’t aliens.” I gave her a puzzling look, then glanced around at the shimmering dust that fell on us. “It’s magic. You two have cast so many spells at each other, one of the leylines bust open something awful.” She squinted, then pointed to the area she suspected the magical tear. “Also Jariev called you both idiots and to stop ripping the world apart.” I felt about as bad as Amulatt did, from the looks of her stature as she was berated by our ruling King. We both started releasing the various Enlargement and Putrification spells we’d cast in the area, not moving away the spots we were being yelled at.
No, yelled at isn’t the right phrase. We were especially not ‘yelled at’ when King Altador took us both in to the Hall of Heroes and sat us down. We were not ‘yelled at’ when both he and Doe explained to us why, exactly, two fully grown and magically gifted Peophins should not sling spells at each other like we’re playing an exceptionally dangerous game of Yooyuball. Instead, we received gentle words of disappointment.
I would have preferred to have been yelled at.
“The two of you are in unique positions,” His Majesty began. “You both command great magical ability, and with that ability comes great responsibility.” He looked sadly at the spot where The Darkest Faerie’s pedestal had once stood.
“Art thou comparing us to HER?” Amulatt asked suddenly, and with great fear. I guess whatever Altador had said privately to her had allowed her to let go of her anger towards me.
“She, too, was once young and temperamental. With a great amount of ability focus at her disposal, she helped me forge the greatest empire the world has ever seen.” He paused for a moment, as though collecting his thoughts. “She did not, however, display restraint. She has never known how to display restraint.” Doe stepped forward.
“I fought that witch in battle. I know what she’s capable of. I also know what you two are capable of. I really thought…” She sighed and looked up at the tear of magic Amulatt and I had caused, which snaked through the rotunda of the Hall and out into the street. “I had really thought both of you were capable of better than this.” Both she and King Altador left on that note, leaving the two of us to stare at the consequences of our actions. While Doe was able to fix most of the things that broke before the janitor could see what we’d done, the tear was still there.
“I should have left thee alone,” Amulatt said, her eyes following the golden, wispy line. “And then we would have never battle-taken so strongly that we broke a Leyline.”
“I could have been a little more sensitive to why getting blasted with a silencing spell might upset you, though.” She didn’t argue with that, just made a non-committal mouth noise as she studied the tear. We heard King Altador return, a blank look on his face. As he began to speak, the tear seemed to quiver and I thought I saw something peering through the crack.