"Ok, well now if we're talking about ra.pe of the mind," Alex said, a counterargument begining to take form in his brain, "I don't suppose you've ever seen autopsy videos featuring people like me? Oh, sorry, not people. Because even though I look and act human, a few strands of DNA give you permission to lock us up and physically ra.pe our brains. But I change the lives of a handful of people in ways most won't even notice, and suddenly I'm the criminal. And please don't get steamed at me hearing your thoughts--you're practically shouting in there. I'd be like me getting mad at you for breathing and turning all my nice oxygen into filthy CO2."
Grace had actually just been about to object to his reading her thoughts, but she stopped, realizing that that part actually made sense to her. "You are a criminal. You abducted me." She retorted. "Yes, some humans are evil, but does that give you permission to hurt those who aren't?"
Alex chuckled a bit. "Yes, yes, I don't deny that in your culture, i am a criminal. But really, would any human be innocent enough not to hand over an innocent mythical creature? It's just your nature. Just like it's our nature to kidnap humans, it's yours to kindap us. Only difference is you have a huge strength in numbers."
"I think most humans, upon finding a mythical creature, would assume that it was either a costume or they're going crazy." Grace pointed out. "They could be locked up if they talked about it."
"So what I'm getting it's ok to be immoral as long as you yourself don't get hurt?" Alex sneered. "But you realize this applies to you. If you ever told anyone you were kidnapped by a mythical ceature and that the boy now living your life is one, too, you'd be in an asylum in five minutes tops. Let's face it, either you conquer some powerful magic and kill the innocent changeling, or you stay here and eat some lobster. Which should be ready by now..."
"You're putting words in my mouth." Grace argued. She hated it when people did that. "And I'm allergic to seafood." She added with a hint of humour in her voice.
Alex was taken aback by her statment. "Uh...ok? Any other, uh, allergies I should know about? Steak ok? Maybe a tropical salad? I mean, it's all really just stale bread and water, but your taste buds won't know the difference. You know, magic and...stuff..." He felt a strang feeling in his face, sort of tingly and hot, which accompanied his growing embarrasment.
Grace was considered lying and telling him that she was a vegetarian, just to mess with him, when he said it was just bread and water. "My tastebuds might not, but the rest of my body will." She said, shocked that he would even think that was a good idea. "I don't know what a diet of bread and water does to you, but for humans, it used to be a form of torture. Muscle loss, scurvy, blindness, bone weakness, constipation...should I go on?"
Alex waved his hands in defense. "Oh, no no no! Don't worry about malnutrition or disease or anything! There are spells around the castle to keep everything healthy You won't get so much as the common cold. But if it makes you feel better, I could send an elf to go steal some food."
"Steal?" Grace sighed. "If you can use magic to make things, why don't you make money and buy things, instead of taking what other people have worked hard for?"
"Hey, you're the one who suggested I get real food..." Alex muttered, a little hurt. "But wouldn't counterfeiting be the same as stealing? Once the spell I use to make the fake money wears off, bam, that's their earnings down the drain. Not much of a difference, really., just a lot more trouble."
Grace blew a strand of pale hair from her eyes and, though she still scowled, conceded. "I guess. Where do you even get the bread, anyway?" She added as an afterthought.
"Oh, uh.." He rocked back an forth on the heels of his feet. "We....buy some flour, every now and then. Huge barrels, only like once a year, it keeps pretty well. I have a small stockpile of cash from when I was living with humans. I did pay for the castle and the land around it, though."
"Why did you stop living with humans?" Grace inquired. "It has to be dull here sometimes."
"You tell me," he retored sharply. "Why do you want to leave my caslte so bad? Because you were forced here, you don't belong, and you can't live a normal life. And you're absolutely correct, living with humans was exciting--constantly monitoring my illusions, keeping on my toes so as to not end up on an autopsy table. Yeah, fun times."
"You living with humans was your choice, wasn't it?" Grace snapped back. "No one was holding you captive and brainwashing your family. I have plans. I just got accepted into college. My mom is pre.gnant. I want to see my baby sister, watch her and Alice grow up."
"Well, my parents apparently didn't feel the same way about me!" Alex burst, face red, eyes beginnning to water. He tried to cast an illusion to hide his emotions, but he was too angry to focus. Alex took a deep breath, and said slowly, "I most certainly did not have a choice. I was implanted in human civilization as a baby, and my only way out was to fit in until I had enough money to buy this place. Couldn't even learn magic until I came here, where I could practice in safety, so I was a sitting duck for nearly three decades." Under his breath, he added, "I wish I could say my parents were brainwashed..."
"You had a bad childhood so you're taking it out on me, is that it?" Grace asked, feeling awful for saying it, but she wanted to go back home to her sisters too badly to stop. "You're free from all that now, you can do anything you want, and you choose to abduct me and take everything away?" Da.mmit, she was going to make him cry. Though she was angry and yelling, she was a softie, and if he cried, she would, too. She almost wished he would hit her, yell, throw her in a basement, whatever it was kidnappers usually did. This, she didn't know how to deal with.
"Sure. Yeah. I'm taking it out on you. Whatever makes you happy." Alex felt his ears begin to turn red with anger, their pointed tips beginning to show through the illusion. "And I can totally do anything I want. Except interact with anyone or ever leave this castle. Yup, the possibilities are endless."
Alex took a step toward Grace, seeing the confusion behind her anger. "But...that's not the reason I abducted you, is it?" He began staring off into space, forgetting that Grace was there. "No...it's because, since I never knew my parents and my magic could easily be simple hallucinations, the only thing keeping me from being human is that one instinct: to swap out a human for no legitimate reason. I admit, it's stupid and pointless, but," he lowered his voice and looked into Grace's eyes, seeing his own reflected in them, "it's the only thing that makes me a changeling."
"How many times have you done this?" Grace asked quietly, looking into his eyes with a sort of silent horror.