Silence is a horrible for most chanters. To be silence means they are no longer connected to Dias. It means they can no long hear the chorus of the world and all the timbres and songs in the world. Many chanters I know find it unbearable to be cast into complete and utter silence. I find silence comforting. It refreshes my mind, clearing out all of what my abilities bring to my attention. The world is noisy. And it's easy to lose yourself in it all. In silence, I can remember who I am and what I am doing.
Soletus and Lyndon overslept and arrived at the chapel late. Soletus usually woke up first, followed by Doran, and then Valan as a backup. Lyndon could sleep through a whorl wind lead by a drass beast stamped. The two cousins didn't have either and arrived at breakfast late. They got to skip morning pray since they were going to the chapel, but Kiao and two other chanters were already there singing when they eased the door open.
It had been a while since there was more than one voice in the chapel and Soletus didn't realize how much he missed it. When he was a boy, his mother took him to the chapel before she when she took him to the society house. They would have go to the chapel and pray at midday, but also to hear the chanters sing. She was most likely testing to see if he was one himself. His eyes were particularly bright, and chanters ran through her side of the family. He was enchanted by their voices, but he was not a chanter.
When Soletus first started his training, he used to go to the chapel in the evenings, but he soon stopped as the rotation of chanters toppled. His cloth brothers were experiencing a bit of disheartenment and refused to perform a lot of their old duties. They mostly stayed in the monetary and prayed. The most active were only a few and Kiao, Soletus figured, was one of them.
Soletus and Lyndon came in the middle of their singing. The two of them found Mien in the front row of cushions and made their way towards him, siting on either side of him. The boy didn't notice. He was raptly listening with his eyes closed to notice them. His lips were moving to the hymn that was being sung. Soletus figured it was a chanter thing and thought it was best if he didn't disturb him and listened himself.
Kiao and the two older priests sung to the small crowd happily. Brother Hickory joined them, making the song even richer. Fenndish chapels were built to carry voices and made the experience all the better. Soletus felt relaxed and comforted. He didn't think about his father or anything else that had been bothering him for the last few weeks. Those issues seemed far away.
When they were finished, the silence that filled the chapel sounded harsh to his ears. He wouldn't have minded if they picked out another hymn. He turned to Mien to see what he thought about what they just heard. However, Mien was sitting there motionless with his eyelids crack, muttering something. Lyndon looked around him at Soletus with concern. Lyndon waved his hand in for Mien's face while Soletus snapped his fingers by Mien's ears. He didn't stir. Kiao approached them.
"About time you two came," he said bright-eyed and wearing a full grin on his face. "I thought I was going to have to drag you two lazies out of bed."
Soletus shook Mien by the shoulder as gently as he could. He continued muttering and was still just as unresponsive. "I think you’re singing did something.”
Kiao knelled down. “Well, that was the point. I picked that particular hymn because of the affect it has on chanters. Helps to open up a chanter’s mind’s ear,” he said. His exhilaration faded to concern as he studied Mien.
“What is he saying,” asked Lyndon.
“He’s repeating a phrase,” said Kiao and motioned for Brother Hickory to come towards them.
Before the older chanter priest could get there, Mien’s eyes flew open. They were glassy and golden. He took hold of Kiao, holding him tight by the arm, and barked out a phrase at him. His eyes then rolled back in his head and went limp. Everything became hushed.
Soleus saw Brother Hickory running towards him and skidded to a stop, with two other priests following him. He didn’t hear any footsteps. They were looking at the three of them with questioning faces and their mouths moving. There was no sound. Soletus watched Kiao's eyes become wide and all the color draining from his face. He moved his mouth and then became terrified.
He sprung away from Mien, leaving Lyndon there to grab him. The other two chanters he had been singing with came to his side and went about calming Kiao down. Lyndon gladly passed Mien in the arms for Brother Hickory. Lyndon then shook Soletus roughly. The young monk then took hold of his cousin and steadied him. Unlike Kiao, Lyndon steadied himself, but still looked plenty disturbed. Not that he blamed his cousin. There was something eerie and disconcerting with the ability to hear the world around him. His chest also felt constricted.
Soletus regarded Brother Hickory. “Is this a phrase,” he spoke. He felt the words but didn’t hear them.
The older priest nodded, gathering Mien up. He gestured with his head towards the back, and they all followed him to Mien’s room. Hickory placed the young chanter on the bed.
Soletus couldn’t say he liked a silent world. His head felt stuffed up and he was wobbled as he felt a little off-balanced. It was hard to figure out what Brother Hickory was saying to one of the chanters that came with Kiao. However, Soletus could tell he scared. The muscles in his neck were tight, and he kept them away from Mien.
The one chanter motioned to Soleus from his corner to him. Soletus recognized him as Brother Nimbus. He had a large round nose and was a combat chanter. He younger than his father and older than Kiao. Soletus seen him before. He tried to mouth something to Soletus. However, he wasn’t good at trained to read lips. He then pointed to Soletus’s chest and then his ears. The young monk figured he wanted to check to see if there was some sort of damage done. He nodded, and the chanter put his hand on chest. He felt the chanter moving up his neck to his head and explored his ears. It wasn’t comfortable at all.
The chanter released him and suddenly stared into the hall. Something got his attention. Someone was speaking to him because he was fixed as if he were listening. His mouth opened wide as if he were shouting and left. Soletus took his place wondering how long the phrase was going to last. The nature of phrases varied. Some the phrases had to be sustained by the chanter while others acted on their own and lingered for a short or long period. Whatever the phrase was, clearly was not sustained, but it certainly wasn’t short.
Someone touched him. He swung around and saw that it was the same chanter as before. The man held up his hands and gestured for him to follow. Soletus hesitated, glancing down at Mien for a second. He didn’t look as if he were stirring any time soon and took him to Hickory’s kitchen table. Lyndon and Kiao were sitting there.
Kiao looked completely beside himself, leaning forward in his chair hugging himself. Lyndon said something to Soletus and pointed to Kiao. His cousin was concerned about how distressed Kiao was. Soletus lowered himself in front of the young man and place a hand on his wrist. He squeezed it to get Kiao’s attention.
The young man stared at him, tilting his head and became intrigued by the gesture. Then his eyes lost their focus. He then tilted it the other way before he clamped his hands over his ears and appeared to be screaming. Soletus didn’t have to wait very long to figure out what was wrong as suddenly the silence that gripped them vanished. Sound flooded back into his ears. His ears started ringing painfully. He plugged his ears up. It didn’t help. He had to let it pass.
The older of the two chanters rushed to Kiao’s side. He was bent over, taking in quick breaths. The other one left to get Brother Hickory.
“It’ll pass soon,” said the chanter said to Kiao.
The young man straightened up, pushing his hair from his face as well as wiping tears from his eyes.
“I’m alright now, Nimbus. Just everything coming back all at once hurts,” he said.
“What did Mien do,” demanded Lyndon rubbing his ears.
“That was the phrase of silence,” answered Nimbus. “It’s not a common phrase. One might say it’s rare.”
Brother Hickory entered the room. “Alder told me that everyone can hear now.”
Soletus, Lyndon, and Kiao all nodded.
“Good, I didn’t think it would linger so long,” he said. His face was drawn down in a heavy frown.
Brother Nimbus then spoke, saying, “You know what that means, right?”
Hickory nodded and his gaze fell on Soletus. “He learned the phrase before coming here.”
“He didn’t tell me about it,” answered Soletus. “I’m not sure why he would hide it.”
“Perhaps because of what it means,” said Nimbus looking disturbed.
“What does it mean,” asked Lyndon.
“Nothing you two need to worry about,” said Hickory sharply. “I don’t want this to get around the Brotherhood, so not one of you mention it to anyone.”
Soletus didn’t know what harm would come to anyone if it did. He knew little about the phrase or the Hymn of Dias of that matter. From Kiao’s reaction to it, though, Mien must have done more than just take away the ability to hear. He rubbed his chest, it still felt funny.
“You okay,” asked Lyndon.
“Yeah, I felt that in my chest is all.”
“I didn’t. Just in my ears and that was enough.”
Kiao still appeared to be shaken as he wiped his eyes.
“Hickory, he’s not your typical chanter,” said Nimbus. “The Arch Priest—”
“Will be told,” finished Brother Hickory. “Right now, I’m more concerned about the fact he lied to me. As far as I knew, he didn’t know anymore phrases. The duration shows he used it a number of times.”
“I can talk to him, offered,” Soletus.
The older priest ran a hand through his hair, stopping at the crown of his head before clutching it in thought. “No, you should leave. He’s too dangerous right now.”
“He used the phrase of silence. That phrase is used to incapacitate chanters. In fact, it’s one of the worse things you can do to another chanter.”
Soletus glanced at Kiao. The color returning to his face.
“He’s obviously trained himself into using otherwise he wouldn’t have lost control of it, that makes him dangerous. Music or voices shouldn’t affect him.”
Soletus felt a little sick having the boy being referred to as something to be feared. Brother Hickory read his expression.
“I don’t believe he did it out of malice,” said the old priest. “But chanters need to be trained to use their abilities. When you have one that uses a phrase on impulse, they’ll do so with others. Imagine if by impulse he used his phrase of light on someone that made him angry.”
Soletus knew he would end up killing them.
“Anyway, until I can get to the bottom why he did it and teach him not to do it again. Until then, you can’t be around him.”