This story takes place in the modern fantasy setting I described in my last post.
Archmage Cyan always believed in learning by doing. Once the theory was understood, of course.
“And what are the components of the spell?”
“Mental only. As the name suggests, Silent Suggestion has no incantation or verbal component.”
“Obviously,” said Cyan, unimpressed. “Its effects?”
“To influence the actions of the target by implanting a single suggestion, no more than a sentence or two. A basic mind controlling spell, made more complex and more difficult by its undetectability.”
“I didn’t ask how difficult it was,” Cyan said curtly. “What are the spell’s limitations?”
“The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the activity sound reasonable,” the apprentice recited. “And acts that the target considers to be self-destructive will cause the spell to be rejected.”
“That’s right, Plum,” Cyan nodded. With that, he pushed open the door.
“Hi! Two?” asked the woman at the cash register, her hand going to the pile of thick menus in front of her. She probably took the tall, older man with his graying beard and long hair to be the tall, younger man’s father.
“One,” said Archmage Cyan, holding the door open and letting his apprentice step ahead of him into the diner. “I’ll be next door.” And with that, he walked backwards into the vestibule.
“I’ll just take a seat at the bar,” Plum said.
Plum felt very self-conscious as he walked across the floor. The blazer and dark pants he’d picked out when Archmage Cyan told him he’d be going to a restaurant barely fit him. He knew there was a weight-loss spell, but Cyan refused to teach his apprentice any transformative magic until he had mastered the art of enchanting the mind. Why Cyan had allowed Plum to believe this would be some fancy restaurant when it was just a diner, the young man didn’t know, unless it was because his master liked making Plum feel stupidly overdressed. Except he wasn’t overdressed, Plum realized as he got to the bar. At a corner table near the bar sat six men, three to a side, and all six wearing sharp suits. They didn’t look that old, either. Hotshot investors, Plum guessed.
“So what am I doing here, master?” Plum thought, reaching out telepathically to his master next door.
“Practicing your new spell,” Cyan thought back. “Lots of people around. Have some fun. And try not to get any fatter. Your belly’s showing.”
Plum grumbled and pulled his shirt down, even though his master had been lying about his belly. Plum hated his master. Old Cyan was callous, impatient, frequently abusive, and opposed to the idea of his apprentice having friends. If they’d been learning a more dangerous spell, Cyan would have forced his apprentice to test it on someone close to him, as he ususally did. Giving him freedom to do as he liked, and sparing his friends for once, was unusually kind. Almost too kind.
“Anything to drink, hun?” the waitress behind the bar asked. She might have been the cashier woman’s sister, except the waitress had a pockmarked, skinny face with brown eyes and black frizzy hair, whereas the cashier had a pockmarked, skinny face with blue eyes and brown frizzy hair.
“Eh,” said Plum, eyeing the coffee. If he was going to practice implanting Silent Suggestions, no time like the present. He started with a practical one — practical for him, that is. <I should give him free coffee, he’s probably a big tipper.>
“Coffee?” asked the waitress.
“How much is it here?” frowned Plum.
“Tell you what,” the waitress muttered with a grin, pouring him a cup. “On me.”
“Thanks!” Plum beamed. He tore a packet of sweetener and poured it into the coffee, opening a new telepathic link to his master next door. “It worked! First try!” he communicated.
“Stupendous,” Cyan thought back, in a tone of… well, not a tone of voice, but a mental aspect that dripped sarcasm. “What about the second and third tries?”
Plum looked back at the waitress, helping another customer, a t-shirted septuagenarian who was the only other person at the bar, and chose his next suggestion carefully: <I should bring the other guy a menu.> Plum already had a menu, so it would be interesting to see if this worked.
It did. When she was done with the old man, the waitress picked up a menu without thinking about it and brought it to the young man in the ill-fitting blazer. “Here’s a menu,” she held it out.
“I’ve already got one, thanks,” indicating the menu he already had in his hands. The waitress blinked and shook her head, wondering how she could have missed that. But she shrugged it off, and smiled. “Oh, okay. Ready to order then?”
“Yeah, I’ll have the tuna club,” said Plum, handing his menu over. “Master, it worked again,” he thought to Cyan.
“I bet you’re casting it on a waitress,” Cyan thought back. Plum started and looked around, wondering if his master was still in the restaurant. He wasn’t. “Restaurant staff are already used to serving,” Cyan continued telepathically. “They automatically obey customers, making them easy targets for mental influence. Even you should have known that, Plum.” Plum scowled, knowing his master couldn’t see. Or hoping he couldn’t. “Try it on a customer this time,” ordered the Archmage.
Plum nodded to himself, and looked around. The guests on the other side of the diner were mostly couples at small tables. The six businessmen at the big table nearby made a much more interesting target. They looked to be having a very serious conversation, no one taking their eyes off their counterparts across the table. Plum grinned at the seriousness of it all.
Picking a bald businessman who was sitting at the corner closest to him, Plum cast the silent spell again. <I should kick the guy across from me.>
Nothing happened. Plum rubbed his forehead, feeling stupid for forgetting how the spell worked. It had to be “worded in such a manner at to make the activity sound reasonable”. Even if it wasn’t actually reasonable. He focused on the same businessman, and tried again. <My leg is really cramped, I need to stretch it right now!>
“You kicked me.” The way the offended businessman spoke, he might have been accusing his colleague of molesting ponies.
“Sorry,” the bald man said, going red. He got a filthy look for a few more seconds, but then the conversation resumed.
Plum had to keep from snickering. Maybe once he mastered this spell, Archmage Cyan would finally teach him something fun, like transformation magic or how to throw a proper fireball. The apprentice looked around the table, and noticed that the bald man and the two men sitting on his side of the table had plain gray suits, whereas the men on the opposite side of the table all had navy with pinstripes. Maybe they were from two different companies, Plum thought. Focusing on middle pinstripe guy, Plum tried to think of something amusing. He wondered how much the spell could make people forget themselves. He sent the man a suggestion: <I’m really thirsty, and my cup is almost empty.>
Middle-Pinstripe picked up his glass of water, which was quite full, and tipped it so far that the ice water ran all over his tie and suit. Swearing loudly, Middle-Pinstripe grabbed his napkin to start dabbing himself dry. The man on his left, a younger man with a wispy moustache, looked around for his own napkin to help. From his stool at the bar, Plum could see it was on the floor, but the gray-suit across from him had a perfectly clean napkin, still wrapped up around a fork and knife. Plum could use his spell for good, too. <I can’t find my napkin. I should grab the napkin that’s across the table.>
Mustachio spotted the napkin across from him, and quickly reached out with his left hand to grab it. But his counterpart was too fast for him. The moment Mustachio got his hand around the napkin and silverware, the gray-suit across from him grabbed him roughly by the wrist, sneering at him.
“Get offa me,” said Mustachio, trying to pull away.
“Let go of the knife,” said the gray-suit.
“I said, let go!” spat Mustachio. Suddenly, there was a handgun in his right hand.
Plum stared in open-mouthed shock. When the men in gray saw Mustachio pull his piece, they all went for their guns, too. And suddenly everyone had a pistol, on both sides. The gray suits and the pinstripes were all aiming at each other, just waiting for a reason to shoot.
It was at that moment Plum realized his error. The suited men weren’t executives — they were gangsters!
TO BE CONTINUED!