The High, The Haughty & The HypnotizedMature

            "When their lips begin to glow, that means they have adapted to their dose. This requires a greater refinement and greater intake of the mushrooms. However, do not increase the dose significantly. Great leaps lead to great adaptations. Increase it only so much as is necessary to stop the glowing. This means vigilant checks throughout the night. If the necessary intake of mulch becomes impractical, the wisest course of action is to euthanize the subject. This will result in an opening in what scholars like myself refer to as the 'Silver Pantheon'. Additional openings occur when landmass expands. This is trivial though, since landmass cannot expand while they cannot dream."

            -- Handbook of the Silver Wardens

            Attributed to Chancellor Wahlbieg de Wahlheiss

            Issued 1241 AA (After Assumption)


Three people were beside each other. They were in one room. Two were there, on the sixth floor of the West Tower of the Black Castle.  However, the third was with them only in body.

On the counter, a mortar and pestle lay dirtied and discarded with a dark mulch. It gave a foul stench that penetrated all thought and feelings. Beside it, was a bronze harp lined with a green patina edge.

A man in finery lay upon the bed, back leaned against pillows. He had richly bright hair, as of the coming and going of the sun. His skin was pristine and hairless, without blemish or scar. And below, a scarlet scarf wound its way around his hair, down his neck and across his mouth again and again.

It was fashionable, in favour of the Faceless Dynasty, for a person of the Eissan court to guard their face. However, unlike the woman in the black robe at his bedside, this man hid glowing silver lips.

Beside him, Lady Kagaelle held a pendulum. However, it had lost its momentum and ceased to swing. The man in bed beside her was already under hypnosis.

The third, neither man nor woman, was but a knocking at her door.

"Follow her," she whispered to the enchanted man. "I must attend to my guest." Then, she stood from her stool and drew a curtain to block the bed from view. Yelling to the door, "Coming!"

Behind the thick door, Guste d'Arean smiled, toothlessly, as he drew his ear away from the wood.

"Are you here about my request?"

He nodded, bent down on one knee, and took a pale and veiny hand from her sleeve. Gently, he kissed it.

Behind a thick black veil and shadowing hood, only the eyes of Tel-Lan could see the blushing that met her cheeks.

"I, Guste d'Arean, am honoured to be of service to a lady of the newly re-established Cebilheiss Court."

"Re-established?" she queried, slowly withdrawing her hand.

"Some of us," Guste mused, "know how to remember the older times."

"Whom do you represent?"

Pink lips leaned into a one-cheeked smile, "The Order of Seldys."

"Oh really? I was expecting a lesser guild. So, you know Williard, Minjoq, Kernew and the other famed agents of the order?"

"My lady, I am a new recruit. Williard believes I can single-handedly fulfill your request within the passing of one moon."

Lady Kagaelle laughed, as she opened a book of natural lore, fingering through the pages.

"The Black-Ringed Mushrooms are said to be but a widow's tale in these parts."

Having found her page, Lady Kagaelle presented him with a picture, "They grow in shadows, where magic and death are thickly malignant."

"So the nursery rhyme suggests, but-"

"But top hats are out of fashion, Guste. You of all should know that sometimes folklore is more than folklore."

She moved towards him, forcefully.

"My lady, I do not understand what--"

The door slammed shut in his face, and Lady Kagaelle was left alone once more.

"Five hundred tops, in secret," Guste muttered, recalling the request she had posted, as he made his descent. "I shall have to do some research, then."

Meanwhile, she resumed her post alongside the comatose bard.

"I am sorry for that interruption. You see, as your warden, I do not have time to orchestrate these experiments on my own. The harvest of the mushrooms has been dispatched. Wandering the catacombs of Cebilheiss does not suit my off-hours."

The Bard of Silver Lips nodded lethargically. His eyes fluttered about beneath his closed eyelids.

"Have you found her? Is she dreaming?"

His head nodded again, only as much as he could spare to without losing focus.

"It's a shame we cannot take you off the dark shroom mulch entirely," Lady Kagaelle commented. "I mean, we could, but it'd kill you."

Drool fell from his glowing silver lips.

"Oh, what magnificance you'd wrought upon the world as you die. Exposed all at once to suppressed power," she laughed. "But such chaos would get us nowhere, eh? Now, have you found her?"

He nodded.

"Excellent. Teach her. Give her a dream she'll remember when she wakes. Even if you do not remember this."

The End

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