The Transmuted: Day 3’s Writing
[Author’s Note: I finally gave Mr. Pulsipher a first name. It’s Richard.]
“I understand and accept, Your Majesty,” said Richard.
“I also understand and accept, Your Majesty,” said Enrico. He looked at Richard questioningly one last time, but Richard looked back with an expression of hard resolve.
“Very well,” said the king. “I will now begin the spell.”
One of the manservants standing by brought the king an impressive-looking, gnarled wooden staff with a large, smooth, round, blue-green gem set into the top of it. It could have passed for a walking stick belonging to a very rich, very elderly man, but everyone in the room knew that this was much more than just a walking stick.
The king held the staff in his right hand and raised his arm until it was parallel to the floor, and the staff was perfectly vertical. He then began speaking words in an ancient, foreign tongue. Enrico thought he heard vague, distant echoes of his own native tongue here and there among the unintelligible language, and suddenly felt wistful and desperately homesick for Kelzia. As the words flowed on, he fought off the desire to tremble in terror, as many of his people had when faced with this spell. He would endure and not show his new ruler any weakness.
Light began to glow from inside the gem, blue at first, then brightening to white as the incantation reached its climax. Enrico somehow felt the light washing over him. It made his skin prickle at first. Then it seemed like every single muscle in his body tensed up all at the same time. He couldn’t help crying out in surprise and pain. He then felt a sickening wave of vertigo. Casting about desperately for an idea of what was going on, he forced himself to look straight at the face of the king, and then realized that he was actually becoming shorter. He felt strange, but couldn’t bear the thought of looking to see what was happening to his own body. He was sure that if he did, he would scream or cry. Better to wait until it was all over, then start getting used to his new state slowly, bit by bit. He didn’t look over at Richard, either. He just continued watching the king work his talents.
Finally, the light from the gem in the staff faded. Enrico began to heave a sigh of relief, but discovered shortly that he could not. For a panicked moment, he was sure he was going to die of suffocation. Then he found that he felt none of the tightness or urgency that came with being unable to breathe. He felt perfectly normal, at least in that regard.
“Do not be concerned about your apparent inability to breathe,” said the king, in the tone of someone who had had to give this exact same speech hundreds of times to hundreds of different people. “You will find that you are now perfectly capable of living and thriving without that ability. The transmuted receive all the energy they need to go on from the magic that is around them.”
Enrico nodded to the king, acknowledging this. He could not speak, because he had lost that ability in the transformation as well. He had known that was coming, though; all the transmuted had the same perfectly spherical heads with eyes that resembled the eyes of the people they had once been, except that they were made of glass, a triangular piece that stuck out for a nose, and an immobile slit for a mouth. They were incapable of speech, but they could hear and understand humans perfectly.
Richard was looking around the room. “I do not keep mirrors in this chamber,” said the king. “After several of the criminals I had sentenced tried to escape or kill themselves, I had them removed. I suggest you give yourselves time to become accustomed to these new forms.”
Enrico nodded again, then dared to move his head. It made a smooth, oiled-metal-on-metal sound as he moved it. He saw what he had known he would see: a mechanical body, completely covered in a shiny, smooth brass skin.
“Rod,” said the king to the guardsman who had brought them in. “Take them to the stables.”
“Why?” Enrico thought, sincerely wishing he could speak.
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