She screamed at the man, “Lost. They’ve been lost, and it’s your fault!”
They stood in the dulling fog at the edge of the Grande Forest. The usual sunrise obscured by magic and dread. She pointed to the single reminder, doing double duty as a road sign, ‘Watch Children’. Two deer, just beyond the sign, continued to eat grass and glance at them from time to time.
His clothes reflected his intellect, worn out, patched, barely hanging on. His skin was leather-like, tanned from working outside and a fine crust of dirt to add to the mystery of his heritage. His receding hairline highlighted the shine of greasy forehead, that transitioned to salt and pepper greasy hair.
Her clothes were menagerie of colors and layers and when she moved it all seemed to have a mind of its own. Her grey hair was frizzed into an oddly shaped helmet, and her wide eyes pierced him as she glared.
His drooping shoulders sunk a bit lower. “Yes ma’am. I lost them.”
“The directions were so clear, and the sign. Egbert, read the damn sign.”
“I don’t know what happened,” he nodded his head in agreement with whatever she said. He long ago gave up any semblance of individual thought.
“Fine, hold out your hand so I can check.” Her resigned words made Egbert grin. He wasn’t in trouble, he knew. He stumbled forward, and offered both hands to her, palms up.
Madame Silver grabbed his left hand, always better for the Sight, and sucked in the mystical fog from the area around them. She took it into her lungs and changed it to belong to her now. As she exhaled the concentrated magic onto his palm, she reached back in time to see what happened to the kids.
Twins, played together as the fog crept over the clearing. They whispered together and kept glancing at Egbert. She focused on him, and saw him lying in the grass, asleep. She growled a low threatening sound. Egbert physically couldn’t sleep while on the job, she’d fixed that flaw ages ago – which meant he had been manipulated in some other way, aside from his natural laziness.
She gasped as the true villain appeared behind the children. Her sister, and long time nemesis, cast a vile transformative spell. The two deer in the field before her were actually the children. Her sister, Madame Gold, then cursed the children with 24 hours of life, and when the time was up, she would collect their full life force.
“Egbert, let me see your eyes.” Madame Silver studied his face, and pulled his lids up to view each eye. No one could tell her heart raced, and her blood boiled. “She put a simple dry spell on you, and let your body to the rest. Here, drink all this water, then follow me.”
She strode through the small meadow, and the trees loomed to one side, opposite the visible strip of road. All her years of fighting with her sister made her weary, and resentful. The deer watched her approach, but kept chewing.
Were the kids aware on the inside, or just trapped? If she transformed them out of the deer shapes, would that be enough to remove the curses? She went to work answering her own questions.
The fog lingered, exactly like natural fog doesn’t. The sun rose in the sky, and the fog made the area a white bubble, dampening the day’s sounds. No one traveled on this road. Madame Silver wasn’t even sure if the road was connected to other roads anymore.
She decided to break the curse first, then transformed the kids back. As she spoke the first ancient syllable she felt her sister’s presence.
“Silva dear, what are you working so diligently on?” Madame Gold said to her sister’s back.
“Goldingy, darling, what an unpleasant surprise.” Madame Silver continued the spell in her mind without the verbal components. Sparing with her sister had never been difficult, and wouldn’t take much time.
“You’ve discovered my two little nuggets of life force. Why do you wish to steal them from me?” Gold’s sweet and innocent act grated on Silver.
“I’m reclaiming that which was stolen from me, by rights and laws.”
“But they were unattended, dear sister.”
“Bring it before the council, if you must.” Madame Silver punctuated the Council with bitterness. The spell completed, and a black smoke, darker than dried blood, escaped both the transformed children. With a wave of her hand, Silver gave the kids back their original forms, an easy gift given their own bodies wanted to come back. They both ran to Madame Silver, and clung to her skirts. They hid their faces and cried away their fear.
“There, there little ones. I won’t leave you alone for a long time to come. Madame Gold was playing and didn’t mean to frighten you.” Silver’s voice was kind, and soft. She petted the heads of the kids.
“Well, now that’s straightened out, I’ll be on my way.” Madame Gold waved her arms and flicked her wrist. Nothing happened and she looked down at her hands as if they have betrayed her.
“Big sister, do you remember the last time we fought?” Madame Silver said, her tone had a hint of innocence.
Gold’s head snapped toward her sister, and she studied her casualness. Fear crept across her face, drained her to a sickly pallor.
Silver moved the kids behind her, and pointed at Gold. “Do you remember?”
Gold gulped. “I don’t pay attention to anything you say, little sister.”
“You must surrender half your life force to me, and if you don’t willingly do this, it will break our contract, which means I will own you.”
Gold turned her back on Silver. Her yellow dress, usually highlighted with golden sparkles, was dull. “I never signed a contract like that.”
“No you didn’t.” Silver spoke low, and made gooseflesh appear on Gold’s exposed arms.
“How did you come to possess such an outrageous contract?” Gold demanded, over her shoulder.
“The Council granted it to me, based on the evidence that you tortured me, and Egbert for more than a decade. Tables turn, don’t they.” It wasn’t a question.
“You were silly enough to tie your force into this Egbert. How was I supposed to know anything I did to him was done to you? Why would you make yourself vulnerable? It goes against everything we’ve trained for our whole lives.” Gold turned back toward her sister, and the glamour she usually maintained had drained away. Her golden hair, and fair complexion a facade, faded to the same face as Silver, her younger twin by 12 minutes.
“Care to demonstrate Egbert?” Silver pointed at her sister, and Egbert stumbled forward. Silver acknowledge he wasn’t graceful or smart. What he lacked, he made up for in power which he freely shared with Silver.
Egbert grabbed Gold’s wrists, and began to pull energy from her body into his own. The overflow went to Silver, who collected it for later use, squirreling it away in dark corners of her mind. Gold screamed with agony, and Silver silenced her with a spell.
“This shared power is in your future if you two want it,” Silver said down to the kids, who poked their heads around in curiosity. They both had the gift, and glowed slightly when they learned of spells and magic.
“Twins joined as Egbert and I are joined would be difficult, but a powerful combination. When you come of age, that will be an option open to you. My sister deserves this punishment, so let’s watch for a while.”
Egbert’s grip never wavered, and it took about 6 hours to drain the required power.
Gold never recovered, and was quickly swallowed by history as the mean sister to Madame Silver. The twins Silver raised became rulers of the Realms for an eon, joined in dual vulnerability and double power.