June 2, 2008
By Marie Eberlein, Richland, WA

The dark, oppressive quiet was broken only by the shallow breathing of his wife. She was, he thought, unconscious. He had not spoken in some time to find out though. The last time he had tried, it had caused a rush of agony from the binding of the spell. He was not to speak unless spoken to, not to move unless commanded. They would have told him not to think if they could, he was sure, but not even the necromancers, the Dark Ones, had the power to do that. Just as they did not, themselves, have the power to kill him or his wife. They were protected by greater, older powers. But those powers were rooted deep in the powers of music and noise. The expressions of life. There were no expressions of life now, not here.
His wife had been badly injured by the kidnappers. Likely she would not survive. Especially if she had not yet regained consciousness. If he could sing, or even speak, he might be able to restore at least some of her vitality, but he was trapped in chains of power he could not break. Not in this dark, silent place. The darkness increased the power of the silence. The only thing that was worse than darkness and silence was the wretched screams of the Unprotected being tortured. And those had ceased several hours ago. He prayed, for their sakes, that they had died, rather than just passing into an inability to create sound. Still, from his current location there was little chance his prayers reached friendly ears, and the spirits that might be willing to help could not reach this place. He was alone. And it was his fault.
They had made so many mistakes. Stupid mistakes, easily avoided ones. They should have known when the Brilliant Ones, the ones whose power came from light, began to die that something was happening. But they had brushed it off, ignored the warnings. He had ignored the warnings, and he had urged others to do the same. He dismissed their deaths as coincidences. Tragic, yes, but accidents, an odd run of misfortune. Only the most paranoid could possibly believe the Dark Ones had rallied, organized, were finally fighting back. He laughed bitterly, the sound cut short by the debilitating agony that the binding spell shot through him.
What a fool he had been!
And now the Brilliant Ones were nearly all dead, the remaining few hidden on high mountains, or sacrificing their power to hide in dark forests and caves. And the Dark Ones, they had attacked the Council that ruled those with Power. They had had the temerity to take on the most powerful group of people alive!
And they had won.
And with that thought, as despair filled his heart, he heard his wife take one last, gasping breath before falling silent.

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