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Jazzy, sensual theme music plays as we once more open on the studio set, where our host Zaynah is sitting on her ottoman, greeting the audience as the title fades in and out above her.
Zaynah: Hello and welcome to Genie Girl Chats. I’m a genie girl, and I like to chat.
This episode, our guest hails from the lands of Ennynórë… and if you haven’t heard of that place before, don’t worry too much. It’s one of those realms with no cars or Internet, but plenty of elves, dragons and wizards. I’m certain you’ve encountered a few of those worlds… in books, movies, stories and roleplaying games if nothing else. Like so many other worlds of its kind, Ennynórë has its heroes and adventurers who perform great deeds to save the world from certain destruction… as well as great bards and minstrels to sing and tell their tales afterwards. Please welcome one of these great bards: Laerel of the Saeros Forest!
Music plays again, though this time the jazzy, sensual theme is replaced with the characteristic soft twang of a lute. It turns out to be Laerel, a golden-haired elven woman, entering from the right and playing her lute. As she walks up to the ottoman, she sings:
When you long for the height of the mountains,
When you long for the blue,
Leave your heart where it’s deep and it’s down again,
Lose your heart till it’s new.
Once I thought I could fly like an eagle can.
Once I thought I was brave.
Now I wait till my heart starts to beat again,
Deep in the heart of the cave.
Seek your heart on the high blue skyway,
Keep your heart and it’s bound.
Steep your heart in the deep of the earth again.
Lose your heart and it’s found.
Zaynah: …well, that was a musical introduction. A pity this is only text. Welcome, Laerel.
Laerel: Thank you. (she keeps playing on her lute as she sits down.) I didn’t write the song, it’s just one of those songs I sing on occasion…
Zaynah: It sounded lovely. And you’re very good with that lute. How long have you been playing?
Laerel: Hmm… Good question. A few hundred years? I tried out a lot of other instruments before I settled on the lute.
Zaynah: A few hundred years? Can I ask you how old you are, or is that considered rude?
Laerel: I don’t mind. (stops playing and looks contemplative) But I don’t really count the years anymore. When you don’t really age, the years just become meaningless numbers after a while. I’d have thought you would know all about that… aren’t you djinn as long-lived and ageless as we elves?
Zaynah: Well, yes… but I’m not… that old.
Laerel: Oh, I see. Yes, I used to count birthdays and years too, but I gave up when I was around a thousand. Since then I haven’t really given it all that much thought.
Zaynah: Wow. And you don’t look a day over nine hundred.
Laerel: I’m a baby compared to some of the other elves out there. You should see my friend Talion. He’s more than twice my age and doesn’t look any older.
Zaynah: I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be that old.
Laerel: Give it time, you’ll find out.
Zaynah: Hopefully. So, I understand that you come from Ennynórë… that’s not in Faerie, is it?
Laerel: No. Why would it be in Faerie?
Zaynah: Oh… I had one of the Fae here in a previous episode and she sort of hinted that all elves in all worlds either really lived in Faerie, or originally came from Faerie, or at least were descended from elves who came from Faerie, or…
Laerel: Well, that’s the first I’ve ever heard of that. My father always told me that we were the First People, made by the gods to live in the world and guide it while it was being formed. Long before the sun knew its place in the sky, before the moon knew its power, the elves knew that the world was. (plays a few notes on her lute) Nobody said anything about Faerie, at least to me, so I wouldn’t know… maybe your Fae guest was right, maybe she was wrong. It all happened before my time anyway. That said… Ennynórë wasn’t the world of our origin.
Zaynah: No, I think I heard about that. It’s a fairly new world, made up out of several old ones… because of some struggle between the gods? What was that about?
Laerel: Well, the old world I belonged to, before Ennynórë, was named… mmmm… it was named… (pause) That’s odd. I don’t remember what it was named. I know it had a name, I just can’t recall it. Hmm… I do seem to recall that the gods claimed that we’d have to lose some of the darkness of the old world in order to find the new one. Some knowledge would be lost… but much more could be gained. So maybe I just forgot the details of the old world when entering the new one.
Zaynah: Isn’t that a little disconcerting?
Laerel: You’d think so, but not really. It feels more like being rid of a burden… a burden I didn’t even know I was carrying before I was rid of it.
Zaynah: Huh. Was the old world that bad?
Laerel: I didn’t think so at the time. But it was heading for some very dark places. That was really what the gods were fighting over. See, the Gods of Fate had a plan for the world. And it was a plan that I know that many worlds have followed. Magic would fade and vanish, many people like the elves and dwarves would die out or leave or go into hiding… except for humans, who would become the only people left. And without magic they’d start a world of technology and science instead…
Zaynah: I know lots of worlds like that. I come from a world like that. They’re not all bad, you know. Just because magic is in hiding doesn’t mean it doesn’t thrive.
Laerel: Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure those worlds are quite lovely. But they don’t really have any place for me and my people… I’m not made for living in hiding, I need to be out there in the open and be myself. And I’ll admit to enough self-interest to say that I really wouldn’t want the world I lived in to turn into a place with no room for me.
Zaynah: You’d be surprised at how well you would manage, I think… but I understand why you would feel that way. So, the gods were fighting over the fate of the world. What happened?
Laerel: Some of the good and neutral gods disagreed with the Fates, some agreed. And the evil gods were just trying to create as much chaos as possible. In the end, a number of people were chosen to act as the agents of the gods who were going against Fate, and they were given the task of, in secrecy, traveling around the world to twelve select places. In each of these places, they would create and set up a special divine symbol, made out of a combination of arcane and divine energies. These symbols would act as protection against the Fates, and act as anchor points for what we later came to know as The Great Plane Shift.
Zaynah: Sounds very dramatic.
Laerel: It was very dramatic. The plane shift involved the world kind of shifting into two directions… parts of it would follow the path the Fates had laid out, go into a darker and less magical epoch, while other parts of it, the ones protected by the twelve symbols, would shift away from that path and join a new world, with its own fate. Plus, it turned out a lot of evil forces were making their own preparation in order to hitch a ride over to the new plane, and when we got to setting up the final symbol it was pretty much open war in several places. But when the last symbol was up, that was when the Great Shift happened. An entire continent and several parts of other continents and islands… well, ascended.
Zaynah: And now it sounds religious.
Laerel: In one way, ! suppose. But it was more about shifting to a different plane where the old fate no longer applied. Those who were satisfied with living in a world where magic would vanish, were allowed to stay behind. Those who weren’t, shifted along with us, and together with parts from other worlds formed what we now know as Ennynórë… or the Land of a Thousand Portals, as we also call it.
Zaynah: I’m not quite up on my Elven, but I thought “órë” meant “heart” or “spirit” or something like that?
Laerel: It does. The world got its name because everyone who made the shift did so because the choice was in their hearts. It’s all very symbolic, you know. In any case, for most of the population life hasn’t changed that much. Since the entire continent we live on ascended, the landscape and landmarks are much the same, as are the people… for better and for worse. Well, there are a few changes. A few places didn’t make the shift, such as the famous marble quarry of Vanador. The place is still there, but the quarry and the marble aren’t. What sort of choice the marble made to stay behind, I couldn’t begin to say.
On the other hand, we’ve had a handful of new places and people on the continent after the shift. A couple of new towns have showed up… a little disconcertingly, but the largest, evillest and most corrupt human city on the continent, Nathome, has suddenly grown three times bigger. A few new people and animals have showed up too, like the pegamice…
Laerel: Mice with wings. Very cute. They live in colonies and you sometimes see them fly around hunting for insects. But for the most part, the continent is the same as ever.
Zaynah: I… see. And what about those other worlds that formed this new one?
Laerel: The Pegamice came from one of those worlds, I know that much. Otherwise, it’s still a pretty new world. We know there are plenty of other continents out there, that ascended from their worlds. We’re seeking to establish contact with the people who live on those continents. It’s slow work, but we have time. The important part is that we no longer live on a world where everything magic or non-human is doomed to fade away.
Zaynah: You haven’t considered that you were actually playing into the hands of the Fates this entire time?
Laerel: What do you mean?
Zaynah: Well, the world you left behind is minus most of its magic and non-human races, isn’t it? So the Fates got their way, really.
Laerel (pauses): …You know, that’s actually a valid point.
Laerel frowns, stroking her chin, and almost absentmindedly plays a few chords on her lute while looking thoughtful. Finally she shakes her head.
Laerel: I think in the end, we made the choice we had to. If we had stayed in that old world, we would have faded anyway. It would have taken longer, but it would have been much more tragic and thorough. We’d have died out, or had to leave behind our beloved forests and mountains and lakes. This way, we brought them with us and can continue to live as we have. We’ll make progress in our own time, and whatever happens with our new world we’ll face it together; elf and human, dwarf and hobbit, goat and pegamouse. None of this “withdrawing from the human world to live in hiding” nonsense.
Magic, magic be with you each morning,
Each evening too,
For the magic, magic is in every moment,
Even in you.
Someday, treasure the moments you’re given,
Feel how they flow.
For the magic lives in the moments you’re living,
See how they go.
Magic, magic be with you each morning,
Each evening too.
For the magic, magic is in every moment,
Magic is true.
(Slight pause. Zaynah, who has been listening to the music in an almost trance-like state, snaps out of it and shakes her head to clear it.)
Zaynah: I… I see what you mean. So, what about you? How did you fit into this story?
Laerel: Well, I shifted along with everyone else, of course. I would have thought that was obvious.
Zaynah: No, I mean, were you involved in the entire symbol quest? You have talked a lot about your world, but not a lot about yourself.
Laerel: Oh, there’s nothing interesting about my part in it. I tagged along on a couple of the quests, that was pretty much it. It did mean I was witness to a lot of interesting things, which I’m grateful for… so many wonderful songs and stories to be made out of it. But I didn’t actually do anything much.
Zaynah: You know… I can’t decide whether you’re humble-bragging or just being humble.
Laerel: What can I say? I’m just me. It’s all about the tale, not she who tells it.
Zaynah: But the tale is supposed to be you. Remember? It’s a character interview. Forget what everyone else did for a moment, what can you tell me about you?
Laerel: What do you want to know?
Zaynah: Well, how about telling us a little more about your part in this Great Plane Shift thing? How did you get involved?
Laerel: Well, I was just wandering around trying to make it as a bard. Performing in taverns and on the road, such things. Luckily elven bards are very highly valued on the continent, so I didn’t really have any problems getting jobs. What happened was that I traveled with a human druid for a while. Her name was Wynara and she turned out to be one of the closest friends and advisors to the king of Vanador — Falk Darkbane.
Falk is actually a half-elf and an old soldier… he was part of the war that ended up with truces and the establishment of Vanador as a kingdom, and the people decided they wanted him as their king. He doesn’t much like being king, and he’s not one for courtly manners and things like that… he even hates being called “your Majesty” and perfers to be called just “Falk.” But he is a very good king. He’s a good leader and a good diplomat and he just commands respect in a way I haven’t seen in many other people. And he was one of the people in the know about the upcoming plane shift….
Zaynah: Sounds very interesting, but now we’re moving away from the topic of Laerel again.
Laerel: Oh, don’t worry. I’m getting back to me. I just wanted to establish what sort of person Falk was, because it was through him I got involved. Well, I met him through Wynara, and must have met with some kind of approval, because before I knew it I was in regular meetings with Falk and the others, and part of a plot involving several of the important movers and shakers of the world. I suppose they saw a use for me as a messenger, since as a bard I can travel pretty much anywhere, and across social classes too. You wouldn’t believe how many deals and alliances between the nobs are formed and sealed during fancy, expensive parties. And as an elven bard, not to mention an elven bard who was was a personal acquaintance of a king, I usually didn’t have much trouble getting into those parties.
Zaynah: I suppose I can see that.
Laerel: Oh, and I’m pretty good at thought-speak, which came in handy a number of times.
Zaynah: Thought-speak? You’re a telepath?
Laerel: All elves in my world are, to some extent. The best of us can thought-speak over huge distances, but all of us can do it up close, as long as we can see whoever it is we try to thought-speak to. It can be very handy for secret messages… at least if the person we speak to is prepared and doesn’t start panicking over the sudden voice in their heads…
Zaynah: Let me know if it’s rude to ask, but… can you do it with me? Thought-speak, I mean? Just to demonstrate how it works?
Laerel: Of course, and it’s not rude at all, but won’t that get a little boring for the audience? (nods towards the audience) They won’t be able to hear anything.
Zaynah: Don’t worry about them. This is all text anyway. Just try it out.
Laerel: …well, all right. (she looks at Zaynah, and then she thinks, the thoughts coming across as a slightly echo-y voiceover) This is Laerel, speaking directly in your head.
Zaynah: Oh, wow! It’s just like hearing your voice.
Laerel (thought-speak): You don’t have to reply out loud. Just think your answer, and I’ll hear it.
Zaynah (hesitant thought-speak, her lips still move): Like… this?
Laerel (thought-speak): That’s it! And don’t worry, I won’t actually hear any thoughts you don’t deliberately want me to hear.
Zaynah (thought-speak): Good to know….You know, for a moment there I thought you were going to make the old “don’t worry, complete filth is always the first thing that pops into your head when you know it’s being read” line.
Laerel (thought-speak): Well, I imagine it is if whoever reads your mind opens with that line. Talk about a surefire way to get someone to think about complete filth.
Zaynah (thought-speak): …okay, point. So this is a way of talking without talking? Does it mean you can communicate with people if you don’t know their language?
Laerel (thought-speak): It does, though the communication might not be the most nuanced… but we get the general meaning across. We can even share images like this… if I try to visualize my home, the Saeros forest, I can share the mental image with you, like this…
Zaynah’s eyes widen as Laerel smiles.
Zaynah (out loud): Oh. Wow. For a moment there I could see the forest in my mind. So detailed… all those colours. Who was that male elf sitting underneath that big oak tree?
Laerel (out loud): My father, Iavas. That’s his favourite tree.
Zaynah: What a shame this is just text… the audience would have loved seeing that. You know, it seems like you were pretty useful on these quests after all. Sending telepathic messages and even images…
Laerel: Oh, I was a supporting player, mostly… I am a bard, after all. Jack of all trades, master of none… but with a good singing voice and a talent for playing instruments! (suddenly grins and plays another couple of chords on her lute) That said, I do have one big claim to fame: The ballad of the great fall from the dragon’s back!
Zaynah: I’m sorry, what?
Laerel (giggle): The thing I’m most famous for! I made a song out of it. (strums her lute)
They came from the West, the army of orcs.
As savage as it was strong.
And large was the army and sharp were their swords,
And fierce was their bloodthirsty song.
They sang about conquest, they sang about war,
They sang about plunder and rape,
Of serving their master, the warrior god,
And crushing their foes’ heads like grapes.
But the army was marching as if they were blind!
Had they looked to the sky, they would see:
The dragon so noble with scales out of gold,
And atop him, the warriors three.
The first was a dwarf-prince, whose temper and nerve,
Were as fiery-red as his hair.
The second a human, a powerful knight,
And the third was an elf-maid so fair.
Cried the dwarf: “See the army that marches along,
Intent on attacking our kin!
Let’s get them, my friends!” And he brandished his axe,
And jumped off the drake with a grin.
Cried the elf: “We are hundreds of feet in the sky!
Please don’t jump, for that will not end well!”
And she grabbed for the dwarf, but she reached out too far,
And the elf lost her balance and fell.
Cried the knight: “Oh, isn’t it just my luck,
To end up on a dragon with you!”
And he grabbed for the elf, but as you have guessed,
He ended up falling off too.
And the warriors three tumbled down to the ground,
Their descent was incredibly quick,
But just as the ground was getting close,
The elf had a last-minute trick.
Cried the elf: “Featherfall!” and she slowed their descent,
So their landing would not be so hard.
And the army below got quite a surprise;
They hadn’t quite been on their guard.
They weren’t prepared for a dwarf from the sky,
Or the mighty blows from his axe.
Nor for the arrows the elf fired off,
Or the knight’s devastating attacks.
The army of orcs was an ocean of chaos,
Among which the warriors three,
Fought bravely and felled many an orc,
For it wasn’t an option to flee.
But the army was mighty, the orcs were too strong,
And this song would have come to an end,
Had the dragon not suddenly swooped from the sky,
To come to the aid of his friends.
He flew overhead and attacked with a cone
Of brilliant golden-white flame.
And the warriors three grabbed the chance that they got,
To return from whence they came.
With a leap to the air did the elf and the dwarf
Get up on the back of the beast,
While the knight grabbed onto a talon and clung,
But he too was rescued, at least.
And the warriors three and the dragon so true
Flew off and they all got away.
Cried the orcs as they saw all the havoc they’d reaped,
“Let’s rethink our tactics, okay?”
So the war was averted, if just for a while,
For orcs never give up for long.
But they all got more cautious, because they agreed
That dwarves from the sky is just wrong.
Laerel stops playing her lute and makes a sort of half-bow without getting up from her seat, first to the audience and then to Zaynah, who finally realizes that the song is over and applauds.
Zaynah: Well. That was… something.
Laerel: I choose to take that as a compliment. Thank you! I will admit I did simplify things a little for narrative purposes… but people seemed to like the song. It became one of my greatest hits. I even overheard a few other bards singing it a few months later… that’s when you know you’re onto something, when other bards begin singing your songs.
Zaynah looks at her.
Laerel: …is something the matter? You didn’t like the song?
Zaynah: The song was fine, but… come on. Your claim to fame is a song about how you and a dwarf and a human fell off a dragon’s back?
Laerel: I can think of worse claims to fame, can’t you?
Zaynah: Look here. Laerel. I do make it a point to do at least a bit of research on my guests here, and I know for a fact you did a few things that were a little more important than being a messenger and falling hundreds of feet.
Laerel: Are you talking about that time I borrowed Falk’s teleportation ring and teleported around to help evacuate people from the village of Ringgate? Because that was kind of just poofing back and forth… it was kind of addicting, really. I hated giving the ring back, but if I’d kept it I’d probably just have kept teleporting everywhere…
Zaynah: I’m not talking about that!
Laerel: Oh! Is it about the fact that I have this? (she holds up her shoulder bag)
Zaynah: No. Wait, is that a Bag of Holding?
Laerel: Yes. One of the very few still in existence. It’s older than I am, and I got it from my old mentor before she sailed to the Summer Lands… it’s one of the most powerful magical items in Saeros forest. It can hold anything and everything. And I know these are more common in other worlds, but in mine, they were all made in ancient times and the art of making them is lost. Nobody’s managed to make one for millennia. I haven’t ever met anyone else who owns one. So a lot of people have used it as convenient storage and smuggling of important items. “Ask Laerel if she’ll keep it in her bag” was a bit of a catch-phrase for a while…
Zaynah: Interesting. And vaguely innuendo-like. But no, that wasn’t what I was thinking of. Maybe it’ll jog your memory a little if I say… “dracoquendi”?
Laerel (blinks): …the dracoquendi?
Zaynah: Yes. What can you tell us about the dracoquendi, Laerel?
Laerel (hesitantly): Well… they’re part elf and part dragon…
Zaynah: Go on.
Laerel: They’re linked to the creation of what we now called the Dragon Wastelands…
Zaynah: Tell us about that.
Laerel: Long ago… before my time, really… there was a gigantic forest named Eryn, which was the home to thousands of high elves. A number of evil dragons, led by an ancient black dragon named Corm, decided to wage war on the elves and began destroying the forest. A number of good dragons, mostly gold dragons and silver dragons, allied themselves with the elves and fought back. Corm was too strong, though… over the hundred years the war waged, the forest got completely destroyed, leaving only the wasteland. The elves and the good dragons were under siege for years, and since the dragons could shapeshift and take on elven form… well, nature took its course, and a number of half-elves, half-dragons were born; the first dracoquendi.
The oldest of the dracoquendi was named Callydor. He was the son of an elf maid and a gold dragon. And he became the leader of the dracoquendi. It was he who later killed Corm, and established the stronghold of Dracnor, where the dracoquendi could live… they were never HUGE in numbers, but over the centuries their numbers had grown to about a thousand…
Things went okay for several centuries, but then… it turned out Corm wasn’t quite dead. Part of him had survived as a spirit, and this spirit had slowly been possessing and corrupting Callydor over the centuries. Finally, Corm grew so strong that he took over Callydor entirely, and he enslaved the dracoquendi… finally, we managed to gather enough forces to take on Corm. It was Sir Damar the paladin who finally managed to kill him and free the dracoquendi, but Dracnor was in ruins….
Zaynah: You’re leaving out a vital part of the story here.
Laerel: Well, I didn’t want to go into every single detail. I wouldn’t want to bore your audience with long retellings of historical events….
Zaynah: Not that historical. I’m talking about your involvement in their history…. just before Sir Damar killed Corm. Because he wasn’t the one who saved the dracoquendi, was he? Someone else did that…
Laerel: …Oh. That.
Zaynah: Yes. That.
Laerel: I don’t want to talk about that.
Zaynah: Why not?
Laerel: I just don’t.
Zaynah: You’ll tell us about how you fell off a dragon, but not about how you saved an entire people from dying?
Laerel: It’s not like that… I just don’t… I don’t want to talk about it…
Zaynah grabs Laerel’s hand and looks her straight in the eyes.
Zaynah: Then let me talk about it.
Laerel (tries to pull her hand away): You really don’t have to…
Zaynah (holds on): Yes, I do. Because this is important. What you didn’t tell us was that Corm did more than enslave the dracoquendi… he enchanted and hypnotized them… every single one of them… made them his mindless slaves. That was why your allies couldn’t attack at first… he was holding them hostage.
Laerel: I… I… Yes.
Zaynah: And since the dracoquendi represented his loss, he despised them… but he was going to use them in a dark ritual to get back all his previous power and grow more powerful than ever…
Zaynah: He was going to have them all commit suicide. Every single one of them. Every man, woman and child in Dracnor.
Zaynah: You were the only one who made it into Dracnor… you managed to slip past Corm as Sir Damar and your other friends fought Corm. And entered just in time to see that the dracoquendi were about to kill themselves. Weapons drawn, only waiting for that final order to slit their own throats.
Laerel winces, and once more she tries to pull her hand away. This time she manages, scooting back from Zaynah.
Laerel: That’s enough. I really don’t want to talk about it.
Zaynah lowers her voice, leaning in. She doesn’t touch Laerel, but her hand hovers close to her.
Zaynah: Why not?
Laerel: Because it’s… because I don’t! Last I checked, this was an interview and not an interrogation. Besides, the dracoquendi all lived…
Zaynah: Yes, because you saved them.
Laerel: Does it really matter who saved them or how or why? The important thing is that they didn’t die, isn’t it? There are still dracoquendi in the world, they’re all alive and well, and we don’t need to say anything more.
Zaynah: Oh, but we do. I know Ennynórë isn’t that advanced when it comes to psychology yet, but you have to understand that it’s not healthy to block these things. You need to talk about them. Come on… it’s okay. Just take a deep breath and relax.
Zaynah reaches out an arm and slowly runs her fingers through Laerel’s long, golden hair. Laerel stiffens and wants to pull away, but Zaynah edges up to her, starting to stroke her head in earnest.
Laerel: I — I don’t think…
Zaynah: But that’s exactly what you should do. Think. Think back to that day. You did something heroic that day, Laerel…. you stopped the entire population of Dracnor from committing suicide.
Zaynah: I get that it must have been an awful moment when you entered Dracnor and realized that you were the only one who could save the dracoquendi. Is that why you don’t want to talk about it? Because it’s too awful?
Laerel: I… well… Y-yes…
Zaynah: Because it’s too easy to imagine what would have happened if you had been too late?
Zaynah(soothingly): But it’s okay… you weren’t too late, were you? You managed to stop them from killing themselves… you had your lute, and you knew how to play hypnotic music…
Laerel: Um… yes…
Zaynah continues stroking Laerel’s hair, softly and soothingly. Laerel starts to relax, just a little.
Zaynah: And you found the strength to counter Corm’s hypnotic commands. You used your music to put them all into a deep trance, so that they wouldn’t hear or obey Corm’s orders to commit suicide…. And it was Corm’s frustration over having lost control that made him drop his guard for long enough that Sir Damar managed to deliver the killing strike.
Laerel: I… he would have managed anyway.
Zaynah: Maybe, but the dracoquendi wouldn’t have. In the end, it was you… your music… your hypnotic abilities… that saved the day.
Laerel: I really didn’t…
Zaynah (suddenly stern, grabs Laerel and holds her): Laerel! That’s enough! Look at me.
Laerel’s eyes widen in slight surprise, and her head snaps up to look straight into Zaynah’s eyes. Zaynah’s eyes briefly glow with a soft yellow light… then she places her hand on Laerel’s forehead, fingers beginning to massage her scalp.
Laerel: I-I… what… what are you…
Zaynah: I’m showing you… the power of hypnotic magic… the power of YOUR hypnotic magic. (all of a sudden, she shifts over to thought-speak) Show me the dracoquendi, Laerel.
Laerel: Wait… how are you thought-speaking? I don’t…
Zaynah (thought-speak): I’m a genie. And now that you’re thinking of the dracoquendi I can see their image in your mind… they all look like elves with metallic skin, don’t they… gold and silver… some bronze and copper… all of them deep and helpless under Corm’s power.
Laerel(weakly): I don’t… want to think about this…
Zaynah (thought-speak): Too late… you already are. You’re thinking about the dracoquendi… every single one… ready to kill themselves on Corm’s mental command.
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about your own terror… the feeling of an ice cold grip around your heart… as you make a desperate attempt….
Laerel: I… no…
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about how you took your lute… and began playing… began hypnotizing…
Laerel is still staring into Zaynah’s eyes while the genie massages her scalp. Slowly, the genie goes over to stroking her head.
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about the dracoquendi… at first not reacting to your hypnotic song… but then… then you see it in their eyes… they’re starting to fall under your spell….
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about how you pull them out of Corm’s influence… first the children… then the women…. finally the men… their eyes droop… they lower their weapons. You’re thinking about how they are all lulled into a deep trance by your wonderful music. You order them to lower their weapons… to put them down… to relax… and one by one, they do. You’re thinking about how one by one, the dracoquendi close their eyes…
She’s petting Laerel like a cat now, hand running over her head and down her back. Laerel is starting to relax, as Zaynah gently pulls her into a soft embrace.
Laerel: …ah… I… I’m…
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about your immense relief as you realize it’s working… the dracoquendi are going slack around you… their eyes are closing… you’re lulling them into a deep… deep… hypnotic sleep.
Laerel: I… ah… I… hh-hhh… yes.
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about how they slowly sink to the floor… limp and asleep… and oh, so safe… safe in your power, safe from Corm’s influence… safe from his terrible commands.
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about how Corm gives the order… his voice echoing through Dracnor, ordering the dracoquendi to kill themselves… but not a single one obeys… not a single one hears… they can’t hear, they can’t obey…. they’re asleep… they’re all safe in a deep. deep sleep…
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about the sleeping dracoquendi… the sleeping people that you just saved from committing suicide… they’re all alive, they’re all safe… safe and asleep… safe in trance… safe in a deep, deep trance.
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking about how happy you are… how relieved… everyone is safe… everyone is hypnotized.
Laerel’s eyes are beginning to droop. Her voice has turned distant and dreamy… slowly, a vacant smile forms on her lips as Zaynah continues to pet her.
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking that it’s safe to be hypnotized…. safe and warm and happy…
Zaynah (thought-speak): You’re thinking that you’re falling deeper and deeper under my power now. Just like the dracoquendi… you’re becoming just as hypnotized… falling deeper under my spell.
Laerel: Ooooh-h-hhh… Yessss…
Zaynah (thought-speak): Good girl.
Zaynah kisses Laerel, who slumps against her and lies limply in her arms, still with half-closed eyes and a vacant expression of bliss.
There is a long pause. Laerel breathes softly, still limp in Zaynah’s arms. Finally, Zaynah looks up towards the ceiling.
Zaynah (out loud): Well…? Are you going to say something?
In response, the mysterious voice of the Producer sounds in the studio.
Producer: Me? I was just enjoying the story. The elf isn’t a bad storyteller. Not that she can compare to you, my dear Zaynah. Such a captivating delivery of the final part of the story. Literally spellbinding. Just ask Laerel.
Zaynah: I’m not a psychologist, but… I think she has some issues. She pushes herself as a glorified messenger and damn near brags about it, she falls off a dragon and makes a song about it… and she rescues almost a thousand people from certain death and refuses to talk about it? I think we’re dealing with some kind of imposter syndrome here… didn’t know elves could have that.
Producer: Trauma takes on many forms. She’s gone through a lot that she didn’t talk about. Didn’t you notice that she talked about her mother in the past tense and her father in the present tense? Like a regular Disney princess, she lost her mother at a young age. Unlike your average Disney princess she had to go down into the Underdark to fight illithids for her mother’s soul, nearly losing her own in the process. Since then she’s basically avoided situations where things hinged on her, and she’s dealt with trauma by ignoring it. Not the healthiest approach to things, I agree… but it doesn’t really matter now, does it? You’ve literally removed her trauma. You took what was a traumatic experience for her and turned it into a sweet, sweet induction… and now she’s happy about it.
Laerel: …ooooo yessssss…
Zaynah: …You’re having me act as a hypnotherapist now?
Producer: Hmm… Now there’s a thought. Zaynah the Genie Hypnotherapist; a tale of a genie using magical hypnosis to help patients overcome trauma and issues. Do we sense a potential spin-off in the future? …hmm… no, I don’t think so. I’ve got different plans.
Zaynah: Yes, I suspected you did. Are you going to reveal those plans anytime soon… or are you ready to admit that this is all really just about gathering a harem of hypnotized sex slaves and be done with it?
Producer: Reveal everything in the third episode? Come on. We can keep the suspense going a little longer than that.
Zaynah: I don’t see anything remotely suspenseful about this.
Producer: You know what your problem is?
Zaynah: Yes. I’m stuck as your slave.
Producer: That’s not a problem for me. No, I was thinking more that you just don’t have any patience. Relax, let the mystery unfold. But in the meantime, you know the drill… Take our new hypnoslave into storage, strip her naked and have her join the other two.
Zaynah: Yes, yes, your wish is my command and all that. Come along, Laerel.
Zaynah pulls the still vacantly smiling Laerel to her feet and begins half-steering, half-pushing her off the set as credits begin to roll.
Producer: Genie Girl Chats is as always brought to you by MagicalGenieGirl. Next episode, we’re continuing our heroics and possibly exploring the fluidity of genders when we invite Princess Alysia of Ecanria, also known as the hero Kaldor!