This Dream Made Me Mad

You can still faintly recall the event that shifted your world from one of peace and comfort to one of war, famine, and fear. It was 11 years ago – you were a mere child of 10 summers. But though it was long ago, you will never forget.

The young queen had just given birth to a baby boy. He was called Golden, a name that represented all the prosperity and good fortune the kingdom had enjoyed those past years. The king and queen were overjoyed.

Then, three weeks after his birth, the infant vanished. It was thought that he was stolen away by the fae – an assumption that prompted the grieving king to declare war on the fair folk. Furious at the king’s actions, the fae struck back with equal ferocity, decisively marking the end of a peaceful era.

Your life has been difficult and frustrating ever since. At age 15, you took up work as hired muscle. Now, at 21, you are completing the job that has taken the last three years of your life.

You discovered that disorganized, clustered attacks in the north are somehow linked to the elves, families responding to the sudden disappearances of their children. It took you far too long, but you finally traced the missing elf children back to a specific boggart in the northeastern marshes. Initially, the pixie clans seemed the obvious culprits, but there were no changeling children left behind, and elves are rarely the victims of such crimes.
You spent weeks planning your next move. Catching a boggart is tricky. But with patience, there’s nothing you can’t do.

Somehow, it all goes wrong.

Through careful observation, you learned the boggart’s daily schedule. But as you approach silently, you hear someone stumbling through the marshes. A young boy tumbles past, water splashing, grasses rustling around him. The boggart looks up and sees you. There’s a moment where you stare at each other – somehow, there’s recognition in the creature’s eyes. Then it is gone, and you are alone with the boy.

You curse softly. The boggart will be wary now. You won’t be able to try again for a long time.

Finally, you turn to look at the boy. He’s young, still a child. He watches you with wide, expectant eyes.

“What’s your name?” you ask.

He simply stares at you; the silence stretches uncomfortably.

“Alright,” you say. “Maybe you don’t speak Common.” You repeat your question in several other languages, to no avail.

You turn to walk away, but are stopped by a gentle tug on your sleeve.

“You… want to come with me?” you guess. The boy nods.

“So you do understand Common,” you mutter under your breath. But you prepare a mule for the boy and ready your own mount.

The child accompanies you on your journey back to the kingdom. He never complains, or even speaks at all. You take to calling him Silence because in your one-sided conversations with him, it feels strange to grow attached to an unnamed boy.

At last, after a few weeks of blessedly uneventful travel, you find yourself kneeling before the king.
“Your Majesty,” you begin.

But the king’s eyes are not focused on you, but on the young boy who has been shadowing you for so long. Silence stands, unkneeling, before the king. His face is upturned, his expression more peaceful than you have ever seen it.
The king rises from his throne. His face is unreadable; you cannot quite pinpoint the emotion behind his eyes. Anger at Silence’s gesture of insubordination? Or something else?

“I do not care,” the King says tremulously, “for you have brought me something much more valuable: My lost son. My Golden.” He rushes forward and embraces the boy.

“Ohhhh,” you say, standing there stupidly as the touching reunion unfolds. “Silence is Golden.” And then you facepalm into the next century.

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