Brian W. Antoine
October 10, 1994
Recipe for punishing a Mage ... Take one hermit human, put him in an environment he can't ignore, get him used to living with people, then ignore the fact that he exists.
That was pretty much Kalindra's plan when we'd been dropped back home on Velar, and Lythandi had gone along with it. In the month since we'd gotten back I'd heard less than a half dozen sentences spoken that were directed at me. She'd made it plain that she had nothing to say to me until I applogized for my actions, then she'd started ignoring anything I said. After the first week I'd started wishing she'd just rip me open from crotch to neck and be done with it. Then I'd started getting mad myself.
I had nothing to applogize for as far as I could tell. I'd taken the hand dealt me and done my best. My best had kept Penny alive, though she wasn't talking to be either at the moment. As far as I could tell, Kal was pissed because I'd done everything without asking or consulting with her first. There are times when Matriarchal societies really get on my nerves ...
What hurt worse though was Lythandi siding with Kal, though I understood why she'd done it. She'd been trying to get close to me from the first day we'd met in the local marketplace. Having finally gotten used to the idea of group families. Her snubbing me now was grounds for including her in the revenge I'd been planning during my time back on Earth.
Kimi had thrown a fit when I'd showed up in her home with 931 in tow. I'd been afraid she was going to go into heart failure when I'd told her my plans for actively recruiting apprentices. The only thing that had stopped her from taking a shot at me had been the fact that the Book of Mages was still in my possession. The fact that it hadn't disowned me said that it was at least willing to see where my new path took our planet and its defenders.
Since then, I'd spent about half my time in my mountain home trying to straighten out the mess with my Velan adversary, and half on Earth trying to figure out where to get started. Solving both problems had been hampered by having to do everything myself. I hated to admit it, but a large part of what I'd been capable of doing had relied on the fact that Penny had been keeping things running smoothly behind the scenes. That problem was going to have to wait though until I'd done something about the more immediate situation.
The basic idea was to remind Kal that I'd lived a large portion of my life as a hermit, and could do so again if she didn't get her act together. A hermit though does have a few outside contacts, and in my case it was my son and a small dragon that loved learning new tricks.
Lan Louis had no idea what to make of the tension around the house when ever I was there. Kalindra has wisely not tried to include him in her punishment of me, so I spent quite a bit of time with him. Had she tried to isolate me from him as well, we'd have both ended up in a public brawl over the matter. Since I finally had the time to spend with him, I'd also discovered that Penny had been right, the little monster had sharp teeth! A fact that I'd had impressed in what ever part of me was closest to him when he decided to get a little too playful.
I could have cared less about the occasional nip I got from him though. It was something I'd never understood real well about Bob, his reactions towards threats to his family, and the way he talked about them. My own family had been pretty splintered and I'd grown up relying on myself for pretty much everything. Maybe the need for a family had been twisted into something that had become the need to defend a world. I'd wondered about it at times when I was alone with my thoughts, and never been able to decide what had been cause, and what was effect. Playing with the small hyper-active Velan that had learned to call me "Da", I'd started to understand what I'd gained, and what Kal was trying to punish me with.
The idea had come to me one day when I'd been giving Lan Louis a ride though the local forest. Once he'd understood that the large wolf and 'Da' were one in the same, we'd had great fun chasing each other around. Besides, I was harder to gnaw on in wolf form and it was about the only way I could keep up with him when he got moving! It had taken me awhile to get him to repeat the phrase I'd taught him on que, and even longer to get Smaug to do the same. If it all worked though, it was going to be joke that Kal would never forget.
There was no way anyone could miss that fact that someone was baking cookies. I made sure of that by creating small breezes that blew the smell of the cookie dough I was making all over the house. Sure enough, within about 10 minutes I'd caught both Kalindra and Lythandi sneaking peeks at me through the kitchen door as I whistled to myself. I was absolutely certain I had their attention when I started mixing the lemon frosting. I'd gotten into this mess because I'd been suckered by attacks on my stomach once. This was just fighting fire with fire.
It got real quiet around the house as I sat back in my chair with a good book and waited for the timer to <bing> at me. Given our link, Kal knew that I knew she was hanging around the area. We might not be speaking, but she couldn't just vanish from my life any more than I could from hers. When the timer went off, I felt more than a little smug when I felt her react to the sound like Pavlov's dog might have. I made sure to rub it in by wafting the smell of warm cookies all over the area as I pulled the tray from what served as an oven. When they had cooled enough to take the frosting, I slathered it on and then made a production out of eating what frosting was left in the bowl. Then I whistled a tune that I'd taught Lan and Smaug to listen for.
Smaug beat Lan to the kitchen by teleporting from where ever the two of them had been playing. Lan wasn't that far behind though and Kal would have been mortified to see him running on all fours as he scampered through the doorway and started screaming for a 'ookie'. Only a minute or less behind them were Kal and Lythandi, and they both stopped just outside the door where I wasn't supposed to see them.
"Smaug want a cookie?"
<cheep!> <cheep!> <cheep!> He sounded like a key-ring finder on overload as he hovered in the middle of the room.
"Is Smaug willing to talk to me?"
<CHEEP!> I chuckled and tossed a cookie over my shoulder in his direction. It didn't even reach the top of the arc before he accelerated and snagged it in mid-flight.
"ookie!" came the scream from my feet and I knelt down to Lan's level to tickle him.
"I know you're willing to talk to me!" I said with a laughe as he squealed. I handed him a cookie from the tray behind me, then another when he stuffed the first into his mouth whole.
"Is talking to you the only requirement for getting one of those?"
I spun around and found Wythdantis standing in the doorway that led outside from the rear of the house. It was a chance too good to pass up. "Yep, that and being willing to tell me to do something besides 'fuck off'." I motioned for her to come on in and held the tray out for her to pick from.
"If I understand the phrase correctly, that would be the last thing I would say to you" she answered with a twinkle in her eyes that reminded me of a certain night I'd spent with her. Then I noticed that she was looking at something behind me and I turned to find that Kal and Lythandi had decided to join us.
"Good afternoon" said my mate to Wythdantis while she eyed the platter of cookies I was holding. "Are you here for Lan's checkup?"
"Oh no, that isn't until next week. I was just out enjoying the day and decided to see how my two favorite patients are doing." She waved the remains of a cookie in Kal's direction and laughed. "You should try one, they're much better than his chili."
"They're what?" I said in a highly offended tone. "Are you saying my chili isn't any good?" and I pulled the tray out of her reach. Wyth took a look at the remains of the cookie she held, the tray in my hands and the look in my eyes.
"You're chili is the best on the planet!" she exclaimed as she tried her best to look repentant. I had to laugh as I said "Better", and let her grab another cookie from the tray. Then I yanked the tray sideways when a real familiar hand tried to snag a cookie while I wasn't supposed to be looking.
"Nope, these are for people who are willing to talk to me," I said as I looked at Wythdantis and moved the tray out of Kalindra's reach. "No talk, no cookie ..."
Wythdantis looked about to laugh herself silly as she watched Kal arguing with both herself and Lythandi, who looked ready to scream. I did my best to ignore both of them as I started transferring the remaining cookies to a bag I had prepared.
"...don't care what ..."
"...is stupid! He ..."
I only caught bits and pieces of the argument going on behind me. I hardly expected the gentle tap on my shoulder that was Lythandi standing behind me, with Kal glaring at her from across the room.
"I think this whole mess is stupid! I have thought about it," and I glanced at the stone in her ear,"and think I understand why you acted as you did." She also nodded as she noticed where I'd glanced. "Can I have a cookie too?"
She was close enough that I could see her nose twitching as she inhaled the smell of the cookies behind me. "Are you just talking to me to get a cookie, or are you willing to let things get back to normal around here?"
"I would greatly prefer normal."
I grabbed a cookie from the bag and held it above her. "Open wide please?" The look she gave me said she didn't understand. "Open your mouth wide." She was still puzzled, but did as requested. It was petty on my part, I'll admit, but she had gone along with Kal to begin with. When she'd opened her mouth, I placed the cookie in it and said "Now close", then swatted her on the butt as she'd turned to move away.
Then I looked up at Kal, who was fit to be tied. She'd read from my mind exactly what I'd been thinking as I'd fed the cookie to Lythandi. Pulling another cookie from the bag, I held it in the air and started whistling to her. "Speak?" Instead she spun around and stomped out of the room. "I'll have to work on that" I muttered towards her back as she left.
Setting the bag on the table, I sat down and motioned for Wythdantis and Lythandi to join me. "Lythandi, I have to applogize for what I just did, and I need to talk to both of you about Kalindra." They looked at each other and at me, then pulled up chairs and got ready to listen.