Monday, December 31, 2012

Chapter 28

      Chapter 28
      Why had I done that? I wondered the second the trapdoor closed after the three of them. It had seemed logical at the time, but…why?
       It didn’t matter. They were gone, and I had done what had made the most sense.
       I stayed there that day, and that evening I realized that they had tricked me somehow. It was probably that wizard girl. She had a gift of persuasion, I recognized suddenly.
       Curse her! I had to find them again. But how? Knowing them, they would probably be halfway across the kingdom. Magykans’ gifts had caused me enough trouble already.
       But I knew where they were going, and I knew where they would end up. They would have to come back to the castle eventually if they still wanted to save the king and queen, so there would be no trouble capturing two wizards, one human, and one centaur with all of the sorcerers back at the castle.
       What was I worried about? Like Maybelle had said herself, they weren’t a big threat.
       I scowled, realizing her persuasion gift could still be affecting me. Next time I got the chance, I was just going to kill them, no questions asked. It would save a lot of trouble.
       And, knowing them, there would be a next time. And they were going to die.

Chapter 27

Chapter 27
I woke up and glanced around. Kaolin was awake, sitting against the wall across from the door, and Maybelle seemed to still be asleep. It was probably about dawn, I figured.
I walked over to where Kaolin was and sat down next to him.
“Whats up?”
“Oh, nothing,” he said. “Ive just been thinking…what if Maybelles powers arent as strong as she thinks they are? Well be stuck here for a long time, probably.” He sighed. “I dont know, theres just a pessimistic voice in my head that keeps telling me the worst cast scenarios.” He looked at the ground, despairing.
     “Hey,” I said. He looked up. “Itll be okay. Even if we are stuck here, at least were together.”
     “You do realize how stereotypical that sounds, right?” he asked, smiling.
     “I dont care,” I said, and reached up to kiss him.
     “Maybelles going to wake up,” he said after a moment.
     “I dont care about that, either,” I replied.
     After a few moments had passed, Maybelle did wake up, yawning and rolling over. Kaolin and I pulled apart.
     “So you think were all good?” I asked, pretending we had been immersed in conversation.
     “I hope so,” he said. “What do you think?”
     I didnt answer for a moment, then sighed happily. “The truth spells gone,” I said. My relief was genuine, not faked for Maybelles sake. “But yeah, I hope everything will be fine. Or maybe I dont…you dont know anymore.” I grinned.
     “Im pretty sure Lymlock was convinced,” Maybelle said, joining the conversation as Kaolin laughed at what I had said. “He really seemed confused about what he wanted to do.”
     “If you can convince Lymlock to let us go, knowing him, then you could convince almost anyone to do almost anything. Thats actually a little scary,” Kaolin said.
     “Maybe…” Maybelle agreed. “I could persuade you to like me instead of Akeelay, if I wanted to.” She laughed.
     “Hey!” I protested. “Do you even like him?”
     “No, not really,” she replied. “I mean, yes, but not like that. But the point is, I could.”
     “Probably not, actually,” Kaolin said. “If emotions are impossible to affect with spells, then theyll probably be impossible to affect even with a gift.”
     “Well, what was she affecting then? If she can convince Lymlock to let us go, wouldnt that be messing with his emotions?” This was confusing me.
     “We should do an experiment,” Kaolin said. “Try to convince me to do something.”
     “What? Like what?” Maybelle asked, taken off guard.
     “I dont know, just…something,” he responded.
     I smiled mischievously. “Convince him to do a backflip or something.”
     “I cant even do a backflip,” he protested quickly, backing away. “I dont want to end up with something broken.”
     Maybelle laughed. “Kaolin, you should do a backflip.”
     “Why?” he asked. “I dont think…I should…”
     “Why not? I really think you should,” she said, trying to suppress laughter.
     “Fine,” he said. He did a really nice backflip, going halfway across the room. Maybelle and I burst out laughing.
     “Shut up,” he muttered, returning to where we were standing. “That was weird. It wasnt really my emotions. It was more like I couldnt really think straight. I couldnt get the logic to think of a single reason I shouldnt do it. I would feel sorry for Lymlock, except, you know, hes Lymlock.”
     “True,” I said, still laughing. “But that was beautiful.”
     “You should try it,” he grumbled jokingly. “Actually, you really should. You too, Maybelle. You should see what youre imposing on your victims.”
     “I hope we dont have any arguments about anything from now on,” I said. “Maybelle will win them all.”
     “What can I say?” she asked, holding her hands out in a not-my-fault way. “Im just talented.” All of us laughed again.
     At that moment, there was a knock on the door. We exchanged looks, confused. The only people who would be there were sorcerers, and they didnt normally knock.
     “Come in,” Maybelle said, making it sound almost like a question.
     The door was unlocked, and Lymlock came in.
     “I dont know if I should really let you go,” he said, looking at Maybelle. “Give me one good reason I should, and I might let you go.”
     “Us being here is costing you money,” she said calmly, acting as though it wasnt strange at all that he was there. “Youll have to feed us eventually, if you dont want us dying, and food costs money. Wouldnt it just be easier if you released us?”
     “I guess so,” he said.
I had never seen him so unsure. Normally Lymlock knew exactly what he was doing, which was typically trying to kill me or something like that.
     “I dont know, though. Maybe I shouldnt.”
     He seemed to be harder to convince than Kaolin had been. I theorized that this was because Kaolin had wanted to be persuaded to do something, and Maybelle was trying to convince Lymlock to do something that he would never have wanted to do otherwise.
     “You really should,” Maybelle said, stressing every word.
     “All right,” he sighed. “Come with me.”
Maybelle, Kaolin and I looked at each other, grinning. None of us had really, truly believed it would work.
     “You should give us our stuff back too,” Maybelle added.
      “We can get it on the way,” he said.
     “Okay,” Kaolin said. “Lets go.”
     Lymlock walked out the door and held it open for the rest of us.
     I was amazed by how different he was.
     “Thank you, Maybelle,” I whispered to her as Lymlock led us down the hallway.
     She nodded in response. “And if something goes wrong, I still have magyk. No caerthin around.”
     “Good,” Kaolin said. “Because I dont have that much right now.”
     Lymlock shoved open the door to a small closet. On the shelves was all three of our packs, and my knife. We grabbed them and walked back out to the hallway. I was so relieved to have my knife back.
     The sorcerer led us up a flight of stairs to a trapdoor. “Go,” he said, opening it and gesturing us out. “And dont come back!”
     We looked at each other and raced out into the bright sunlight before he could come to his senses.
     We were free.

Chapter 26

Chapter 26
There was the click of the door being unlocked, and Akeelay and I jumped apart automatically. Maybelle came in and the door was closed and locked again behind her.
“What was that?” Akeelay asked, beating me to it. I was going to say the exact same thing.
She smiled mysteriously. “I’m pretty sure Lymlock’s going to let us go tomorrow,” she said.
“What?” Akeelay and I demanded instantaneously.
Maybelle laughed. I had a feeling that she had said it like that just to catch us off guard. It had succeeded, and I had no idea what she was talking about.
“You saw me convince that sorcerer to take me to Lymlock before, right?” she began.
“Oh!” Akeelay gasped suddenly. I swear I could almost see the metaphorical light bulb flicking on over her head. But mine was still dim, so I asked Maybelle to explain.
“Okay, so I convinced that sorcerer to take me to him, and you both thought I was insane. But while you two were gone - and you’re going to have to tell me exactly what happened eventually - I came up with a plan. Remember when I convinced Dossik to let you come with us, Kaolin?”
I nodded.
Akeelay, apparently unable to resist, said, “Her gift is persuasion!”
Maybelle looked a little put out that she hadn’t gotten to say it all dramatically, but I nodded, suddenly understanding.
“So you got that sorcerer to take you, because you knew you could convince Lymlock to let us go? That’s brilliant!” I said. “But why is he going to let us go tomorrow, instead of today?”
“Well, he was saying something like, ‘I don’t think I should let you go,’ and I couldn’t let him change his mind, and I had to come up with something quickly. So I said, I think, ‘Why don’t you think about it overnight, and then come see us in the morning?’ And if he comes, then I can get him to let us go, because he’s already been considering it.”
“Cool! This will be perfect! And then when we get out of here, we can go find Dossik, and get on with our quest.”
“Yeah! So, what happened when you went to see Lymlock?” she asked.
Akeelay and I looked at each other.
“You want to explain that one?” I asked her, half-joking.
“I was kind of out of it for a while there, so you might want to do it,” she said, giving me the responsibility.
“Okay,” I sighed, pretending to be upset. “So, what happened was Lymlock said that he had been thinking...”
“That’s a first,” Maybelle laughed.
“Which is exactly what I said,” I agreed. “So then...”
I told her the story. Akeelay kept bursting in with her point of view, but I didn’t mind.
When we finished, Maybelle said, “Well, that’s worse than mine. At least for me, I got to keep my magyk. But that’s just awful.”
“Tell me about it,” Akeelay muttered.
“Sorcerers,” the three of us said simultaneously.
“I’m glad we’re going to get out of here, though,” Akeelay said. “I mean, obviously, but can you believe it’s been less than a day since we got here?”
“At least since we woke up,” Maybelle pointed out. “We could have been here for days. I don’t know how long we were out.”
“Whatever,” I said. “It doesn’t really matter. Let’s just sleep now.”
Akeelay’s stomach grumbled. “I’m hungry. Does anybody have anything?”
“I wish,” Maybelle said. “I would be eating it.”
I hadn’t realized how hungry I was, but as we were talking, I found that I wished we had food too.
“I’m not sure...” I said. “Maybe I can - ”
I focused on my magyk for a moment. I thought I had enough, so I tried it.
Joholqu ikel.”
Three sandwiches appeared, thanks to the “create” spell.
“Thank you so much,” Akeelay said, grabbing one.
“It might not be that great, you know how food...”
I felt lightheaded for a moment and didn’t finish Running out of magyk wouldn’t help, and I wished I hadn’t tried it. After a few moments, though, I felt a little better and picked up a sandwich as well.
It tasted pretty bad, but at that point I would have been willing to eat almost anything. Running out of magyk did tend to make you hungry.
We ate in silence, more because we were too busy shoving the food in our mouths than because we were all deep in thought.
After I finished, I was still hungry, but I would live until we got out of there.
I yawned, causing Maybelle to yawn, who caused Akeelay to yawn. We laughed.
“Let’s go to sleep,” I said. “Doesn’t seem like the light”- it was coming in through the barred window in the door -“is going to die down any time soon.”
“Probably not,” Maybelle agreed, laying down on the hard floor.
I did so too, and it was just as uncomfortable as it looked.
“At least things can’t get-” Akeelay started.
“Don’t say it,” I said. “They inevitably do.”
And with that, we all went silent and were asleep in moments.
The next morning, we woke up one by one. I awoke first, but I stayed quiet, thinking about how we were probably going to get out of there that day.
What if we didn’t, though? the pessimistic voice in my head whispered. We all were counting on being released that day, but what if we weren’t? It would be just like Lymlock to do something like that - raise all our hopes only to laugh in our faces and slam the door.
But I trusted Maybelle, and so I hoped that her powers were as strong as she thought they were. If she could convince Lymlock to let us go, what couldn’t she do?
I just hoped that it would work.

Chapter 25

Chapter 25
The door burst open. I looked up. I hadn’t expected anybody, and was annoyed to see the wizard, Maybelle, and a sorcerer there.
“What are you doing here?” I snapped.
“She asked to be brought here,” the sorcerer responded.
“And you did what she asked? Why?”
He looked a little confused. “I don’t…know…”
“Just leave,” I ordered, irritated. I would never understand how Maher chose his sorcerers, or why he would ever want to work with these people. They were incompetent. He exited, still looking confused, and I stared at Maybelle, who at least had caerthin handcuffs on.
“Why are you here?”
“To ask you to let us go.” Her response was matter-of-fact, and didn’t seem to leave any room for argument.
I laughed. “Why would I do that?” She was such a strange wizard.
“I really think you should let us go,” she said emphatically.
I blinked. For a second I wondered why I was keeping them there. I shook my head and said, “No, I shouldn’t. Don’t be ridiculous. I think you should go back to your cell and talk to your little friends.”
“Why not release us?” she said. “Keeping us here would just cost you money, and you can’t run the kingdom from here. And anyway, it’s not like we could have that much effect on anything if you release us.”
“Good point…” I said. It was hard to think about what she said logically. “But I don’t think I should.”
“Why not?”
Now it was my turn to say, “I don’t know.” I added quickly, “But I’m sure there’s a really good reason.”
“Why don’t you think about it for a while, and come visit in the morning?” she asked, sounding innocent. “It’s getting late, after all.”
“Okay,” I agreed, not quite knowing why. It was getting really hard to think.
“Call your sorcerer back in here and have him take me back, and then come to our room in the morning,” she suggested.
I did so. When she left, I tried again to think about it. For some reason, I couldn’t think of a single reason to keep them there. I remembered that they were working against me, but could they really accomplish that much if I let them go? What was I worried about? They didn’t have that much talent. They had that traitor, and one wizard, who probably wasn’t even as powerful as me, and a human. Nothing to be interested in.
I thought about it that night, and decided that in the morning I would demand more reasons to let them go. Because, after all, they were there, and they might as well stay.
That did make sense, right?
This was so confusing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Chapter 24

Chapter 24
That had seriously hurt, but I wished Kaolin had taken the option of knocking Lymlock out or something. I would have lived, I kept telling myself.
But the truth was, I wouldnt have. The wound was fatal.
What was Lymlock's problem? Im sure there were easier ways to get Kaolin to use his magyk. It was probably just that he wanted to see me hurt and Kaolin torn.
I didnt like him at all. Lymlock, that is.
When we got back to the room, Maybelle was standing near the door.
As soon as we entered, pushed in by the sorcerer who had taken us out, she spoke.
“Take me to Lymlock,” she said to the sorcerer. Kaolin and I looked at her like she was insane, which she would have to be to want to see Lymlock.
“Why?” the sorcerer asked, sounding confused. He didnt refuse though, which was strange. I had expected him to simply laugh and slam the door.
“Just take me to him,” she said in reply.
“Fine,” he said. Kaolin and I exchanged a glance in shock.
She walked over and held up her hands. The sorcerer put the handcuffs on her and led her out of the room.
As the door clanged shut after them, Kaolin and I stared at it blankly.
“What was that?” I asked, baffled.
“I dont know,” he responded, just as puzzled as I was. “Does she normally want to see evil sorcerers?”
“Not that Ive seen,” I said. “Maybe she has an idea.”
“Well, thats weird.”
“Yep,” I agreed. “So, thanks for, you know, healing me. Although I really do wish you had done something to Lymlock. He deserved it.”
He laughed. “Yeah, thats probably true. But what could I have done? You were going to die if I didnt do something. Dont even try to deny it.”
I couldnt have anyway. Truth spell, remember?
“Well, whatever shes doing, I hope she comes back soon,” I said, changing the subject.
“Me too. But in the meantime…”
He scooted closer to me. And we kissed.

Chapter 23

Chapter 23
“What?” the traitor asked, shocked. He stared at Akeelay, watching her bleeding arm.
“Heal her,” I repeated. “I know you’ve got enough magyk by now, and I’m not doing it. You’re considering trying to knock me unconscious or something. Use your magyk to heal her. If you don’t…”
I paused. He looked into my eyes and saw the threat written there. It wasn’t really even a threat. She would die if he didn’t help her, and he knew that.
“Don’t do it, Kaolin,” Akeelay said. “I’m not worth it. Just escape.”
I laughed. “Do you still have the truth spell on you?”
She scowled. “Yes. What does that have to do with anything? Just don’t do it, Kaolin.”
I didn’t have to say anything to try to convince him to ignore her. He glared at me, then turned to her.
I could tell Kaolin wanted to curse me somehow, but he only had enough for one spell.
Fejqan,” he said, and Akeelay’s wound disappeared, the blood vanishing as well.
Kaolin looked dizzy, like he was going to faint from lack of magyk, and I realized it did take more magyk for him to cast spells around caerthin.
It was still surprising whenever he could actually do it, but he was almost out of magyk again.
I called in the sorcerer that had brought them and sent them back to their cell. This would work out so much better than I had expected. A day earlier, I hadn’t even thought that the sorcerers would succeed in catching them. And now, I was in control, and they were in trouble. Running the kingdom could take a break, it would be fine. I was enjoying myself too much there.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Chapter 22

Chapter 22
So there we were. Maybelle and I had caerthin handcuffs on, I had almost no magyk, and Lymlock was an arm’s length away. I had no idea how we were going to get out of the situation. Hopefully Dossik would show up and save us all again, but I doubted that he had any idea where we were. Even I didn’t know where we were.
There was one good thing, but even that was tainted. I hadn’t thought Akeelay liked me at all. I was secretly in love with her, of course, but I didn’t know she felt the same way. That would’ve brightened my day if it wasn’t Lymlock’s truth spell that forced her to say it.
I was glad she returned my feelings (in fact I was beyond ecstatic), but I had never wanted to find out like that.
Of course, I had admitted to liking her back. Besides the fact that I wanted her to know, I had a feeling that Lymlock would know if I lied.
That wouldn’t end well.
So, again, there we were. Lymlock was laughing at us and we had no way to get him to shut up. We weren’t in control of the situation. So we waited, all three of us glaring at him.
He finally stopped laughing. “Well, that is the most entertaining thing I have heard in a long time. So thank you for that. Maher!” This last part wasn’t a spell, and wasn’t directed at us, but at the closed door. That name did sound familiar to me, and when a sorcerer entered, I remembered. Maher was Lymlock’s contact from Melzult. Which meant we were still in that kingdom. Good.
“Put them in a caerthin cell,” Lymlock ordered Maher.
“All three in the same one?” he replied, surprised.
“Why not? I think they have some things they need to discuss.” Lymlock smiled smugly at us as Maher pushed us out the door.
I noticed that Lymlock didn’t bother to remove the truth spell on Akeelay. It would wear off after about half a day, but he still could have removed it. For some reason, to me that seemed like one of the worst things he had done all day. It would have taken little effort and just been nice.
Of course, he’s never made an effort to be nice, so what else is new?
Maher stopped in front of a caerthin door and removed Maybelle’s and my handcuffs. At least he was slightly considerate. Or they just needed them for other prisoners. He shoved us into the caerthin-lined room and I heard a definite click as the door was locked.
“Well,” I said. “That was...” I trailed off, not knowing what to say.
“Interesting?” Akeelay said, sounding frustrated and angry. “Strange? That was awful - for me, anyway.”
“That was probably the worst way to find out anything,” I agreed.
Maybelle wasn’t speaking. She probably knew how awkward it was for us.
“Can you do anything about the truth spell?” Akeelay asked. “It’s so frustrating.”
“I know how you feel. And I’m really, really sorry, but I can’t do anything. It takes a lot of magyk to remove another magykan’s spell, and even more around caerthin. I wouldn’t have enough until it ended anyway.”
“So I have to wait for it to end?” She sighed.
“Like I said, I know exactly how you feel.” I glanced at Maybelle, half-smiling. “But for the record, I think not bothering to remove the spell was probably the worst thing he did all day.”
“I disagree,” she said, scowling at the words.
I spoke in a quieter tone, to at least try to convince myself it would be more private. “So, I hate to ask you anything while you have that spell on you, but I have to know. When did you start, like, liking me?”
She raised an eyebrow at me, but smiled. I could tell she didn’t mind that question too much. “It was probably that first night. I thought you were cute when I saw you back at the castle, and strange for a sorcerer, but that first night was when I really realized that I liked you. From there it just increased. What about you?”
“Well, just like you, I thought you were cute when I saw you in the castle. And you looked so frightened of me. I didn’t forget about you. And you were the one who nearly killed Renjin?”
“Yeah, I was. That was so long ago. He saw me in the woods when he was making the potion and tied me to a tree for the unicorns to kill.”
“Wow,” I said. “How did you escape?”
“Maybelle,” she responded.
Maybelle glanced up when Akeelay said her name. “What are you guys talking about?”
“The unicorn thing, in the forest that first day,” Akeelay responded. “Now can everyone please stop asking me questions? I hate that.”
“Sure,” Maybelle and I said at the same time.
“How long does a truth spell last?” Maybelle asked me.
“I don’t know,” Akeelay said, then groaned. “Apparently I answer any question asked around me. I hate sorcerers.”
“It lasts about half a day. And I hate them too,” I responded. “Probably more than you do, considering I used to be one.”
We all sighed and looked around. The room was bare, the caerthin walls gleaming silver. There was nothing in the room. No windows or anything.
“I wonder if they’re watching us,” I said quietly. “If they aren’t, and if I get enough magyk, I can blow a hole in the wall. Assuming, of course, that the wall would open to the outside.”
“Even if they aren’t watching us, you still won’t get enough magyk,” Maybelle replied.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“That’s what caerthin does. It blocks off magyk from the outside. So if there’s no magyk in this room, and we’re using it up quickly, then you can’t refill.”
Magyk, as I believe was mentioned before, is like a rechargeable battery from your world. As long as there’s magyk in the air around a magykan, he or she can absorb it. On Mithden, everywhere except places surrounded by caerthin, there’s magyk that we can pick up and use. On Earth, however, there’s no magyk in the air.
“Well, that’s depressing,” I said. “But, hey, Akeelay, you didn’t answer my question from before.”
“I think that’s because it was purposely directed at Maybelle,” she responded thoughtfully. “Like, you mentioned her while speaking. So I wasn’t required to answer.”
“Well, what -” I remembered not to ask questions and stopped. “I don’t know what we should do now. I don’t see any way to escape, unless I do somehow get enough magyk to blow this place up.”
“I hope Dossik comes,” Maybelle said. “Although he probably doesn’t know where we are. I sure don’t.”
“So what happened after I got knocked out?” Akeelay asked. She always tried to make conversation when everything seemed at its worst.
“Not much, really,” I replied, trying to remember. “Just more spells going back and forth, and then I ran out of magyk and fell unconscious.”
“I didn’t run out of magyk, but a spell finally hit me right after Kaolin got knocked out.” She sighed heavily, hopelessly. “How much magyk do you have, Kaolin?”
I considered. “Enough to do a short held spell in a normal, non-caerthin situation. About 3%.”
I had no idea how we were going to escape.
“I hate to admit it...but this might be the end. As far as I can see, we’re stuck here, doing whatever Lymlock wants until he lets us go. Which isn’t going to happen,” I said, resigned.
“Or until you get enough magyk,” Maybelle pointed out. “They can’t keep us in here forever. If Lymlock wants to threaten us at all, he’ll have to take us out of this room.”
“That’s true!” Akeelay said excitedly. “They really can’t keep us here forever...can they?”
We all traded glances. Normally, our version of police would have at least tried to rescue us from this kidnapping (which is technically what it was), but guess who the police are? The castle wizards, who weren’t exactly up to the task at that point. We were on our own. We all realized this, and lapsed into silence.
Soon, a sorcerer came along and pushed open the door. We looked up at him as he pointed at Akeelay, then me.
“You, and you. Come with me.”
Akeelay and I glanced at each other, then warily got up and walked to the door.
He held up a pair of caerthin handcuffs, shining, even in the low light, in the same silver color as the walls. “For you, traitor,” he said.
I rolled my eyes and held up my wrists. He put on the handcuffs with, as the other sorcerer had the first time, with a little too much eagerness.
Shoving me down the hallway to the left, he said, “Don’t try anything.”
As if we didn’t know. No, I wouldn’t try anything. I knew what was at stake, and I didn’t want to risk it, no matter how much I resented the sorcerers. Which was a lot.
He pushed us into the same room with Lymlock as we had been in before and left the room. This was good. My magyk was returning, quickly now from being suppressed before.
“What is it now?” Akeelay demanded, talking to Lymlock.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said.
“That’s a first,” I said, without thinking about it (ironically), then realized what I had said.
He just laughed, one short burst. “You’ll regret that, traitor,” he said, without any evidence of anger. That could be a bad sign.
Anyway,” he went on, “I’ve been thinking...” He stared at me, daring me to comment. I said nothing, and he continued. “About your convenient little gift, your immunity to caerthin. Those handcuffs might impede your magyk a little bit, but they’re pretty much just for decoration.”
I moved my hands just enough to rattle the cuffs, wondering what his solution would be.
“So, I thought, why not force you to use your magyk?”
“You can’t, it’s impossible,” I said, sounding more confident than I felt. If Lymlock wanted me to use my magyk, I would have bet he could find a way.
“Oh, it might be technically impossible, but I can be extremely... persuasive.
“What are you-”
He cut me off with a spell. “Twegga!” he shouted, pointing at Akeelay.
A deep gash appeared in her arm, thanks to the injury spell from Lymlock, and she gasped in pain, nearly falling to the ground.
“You-” I didn’t know what to say, couldn’t find the words to express how much I hated him in that moment.
“Heal her,” he said.