The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques

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      Spring was upon them.

      “Bloody too early, if you ask me” said Malové, the Head of the Coven of Mystiques, but just CEO of Quadrivium Emporium to the outside world.

      “Meow.” Only the Coven’s familiar, a clichéd black cat dared to voice what seemed to have been the common thought. How tedious, so much spring cleaning of the collective energies to do, and almost 2 months ahead of schedule. Blame the telluric energies catch-up with the cosmic downpour of the world’s mind agitation. Or global warming, as it’s labelled nowadays.

      “You know how it goes.” Malové continued. “We set the tone of the stories ahead. And it can only be done by actually writing it. Yeah, how exciting. Like conducting an orchestra in a zoo, there’s plenty of potential, but I guess we’ll have to work on our priorities.”

      “Do you mean keeping the zoo’s hyenas from eating everybody else?” Frigella was not one to beat around the bush.

      “Yeah, something like that. And you know how you control hyenas?”

      The witches assembled looked at each other sideways.

      “The Whale would tell you it’s a lovely story of shared resonance, forging bonds based on trust… But that’s a load of bollocks. Some emotions are only managed through stronger ones – so let’s do what we do best, get our Incense ready, and put some order in this bloody chaotic mess. Who wants to start?”


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    • #7417

      “Oh no, we’re too late!  Look at these photos Jezeel just sent!”

      “Well at least Jez is there with her.  Why didn’t you wake me up sooner?”

      Truella rolled her eyes. “Come ON! Imagine the mess Eris is going to make at breakfast with that trunk!”

      Eris one


      Eric 2


      eris 3


      “It’s the telephantom!  You know what this mean, don’t you.”  Truella sounded ominous. Frella shook her head.  “It’s Punic magic, and it’s almost impossible to reverse.  You need a piece of Hannibal’s tunic for the spell, and you can imagine the difficulties.”


      “I’m so glad you’re here!” Jezeel rushed over as they entered The Escarabajo Pelotero cafe they had arranged to meet in.  Leading them to a corner table, she added “It’s escalating quickly, we don’t have time for any difficult spells, we’re going to have to resort to….”

      “Resort to what?” asked Frella with a worried frown.

      “Well…. er,  resort to faster more efficient means than magic spells, I guess. Physically restraining her until we can sort something out.  If we can catch her!”

      “Whatever do you mean, catch her? Look Jez, just calm down and tell us what’s happened.  And your wig’s slipped a bit, poppet, that’s it, bit more to the right, there you go.”

      Eris has gone off in a red racing car.”

      “What, with the elephant head? Oh, was it one without a top? I was wondering how she’d have got that head inside the car!”

      “I think you’re missing the point, Truella,” Frella said. “As usual.”

      Jezeel explained how Eris had overheard a group of distinguished looking executive type men chatting in a restaurant about the race track they’d all been on that afternoon, and decided she wanted to do it, and there was no talking her out of it.   With a sense of foreboding Jezeel had followed her there and witnessed Eris drive the red racing car like a maniac, overtaking every other driver and racing past the finishing line and beyond, into the car park outside and off up the motorway in the direction of Segovia.

      “Let’s order breakfast,” suggested Frella. “We don’t even know where she’s going.”


      Sleeping like a log through a full night’s rest on the lavender spell wrapped in the rag of the punic tunic worked like a charm. By morning light, Eris had reverted to her normal self again.

      How her coven had succeeded in finding the rag was anyone’s guess, but one thing was for certain—Truella’s resourcefulness knew no bounds once she set her mind to a goal. All it took was a location spell, a silencing charm around the area in Libyssa where she wanted to dig, and of course, a trusty trowel. Hundreds of buckets of dirt later, a few sheep’s jawbones and voilà, the rag. Made of asbestos, impervious to fire, and slower to decay than a sloth on a Monday morning, it was nothing short of a miracle it had survived so long underground, and that they found it in such a short time.

      Eris rubbed her neck still pained from the weight of bearing that enormous elephantine head.

      When pressed by the others—Frigella, Jeezel, and the ever-curious Truella—she could hardly recall what led her to attempt the risky memory spell.

      Echo buzzed in with an electric hum, the sprite all too eager to clear the air.

      “The memory spell,” Echo interjected, “a dubious cocktail of spirits of remembrance and forgetfulness, was cast not out of folly but necessity. Eris, rooted in her family’s arborestry quests, understood the weight of knowledge passed down through generations. Each leaf and branch in the family tree held stories, secrets, and sacrifices that were both a treasure and a burden.”

      Echo smirked as he continued, pointing out the responsibility of the other entity’s guidance. “Elias’s advice had egged her on, resonating with Eris’ desires, and finally enticing her not lament the multitude of options but rather delights in the exploration without the burden of obligation —end of quotation.”

      “And was it worth it?” Truella asked impatiently, her curiosity piqued a little nonetheless. She’d always wished she had more memory, but not at the cost of an elephant head.

      “Imagine the vast expanse of memories like a grand library, each book brimming with the essence of a lineage. ” Eris said. “To wander these halls without purpose could lead to an overwhelming deluge of ancestral whispers.” She paused. “So, not sure it was entirely worth it. I feel more confused than ever.”

      Echo chimed in again “The memory spell was conjured to be a compass, a guide through the storied corridors of her heritage. But, as with all magic, the intentions must be precise, the heart true, and the mind clear. A miscalculation, a stray thought, a moment’s doubt — and the spell turned upon itself, leaving Eris with the visage of an elephant, noble and wise. The elephant head, while unintended, may have been a subconscious manifestation of her quest for familial knowledge.  Perhaps the memory spell, in its misfiring, sought to grant Eris the attributes necessary to continue her arborestry quests with the fortitude and insight of the elephant.”

      “But why Madrid of all places?” Jeezel asked mostly out of reflex than complete interest; she had been pulled into the rescue and had missed the quarter finals of the Witch Drag Race she was now catching up on x2 speed replay on her phone.

      Echo surmised “Madrid, that sun-drenched city of art and history, may have been a waypoint in her journey — a place where the paths of the past intersect with the pulse of the present. It is in such crossroads that one may find hidden keys to unlock the tales etched in one’s bloodline.”

      “In other words, you have no idea?” Frigella asked Eris directly, cutting through the little flickering sprite’s mystical chatter.

      “I guess it’s something as Wisp said. I must have connected to some bloodlines. But one thing is sure, all was fine when I was in Finland, Thorsten was as much a steadying presence as one would need. But then I got pulled into the vortex, and all bets were off.”

      “At least he had the presence of mind to call me.” Truella said smuggly.

      “The red cars may have started to get my elephant head mad… I can’t recall all of it, but I’m glad you found me in time.” Eris admitted.

      “Don’t mention it poppet, we all screwed up one spell or two in our time.” Frigella said, offering unusual comfort.

      “Let’s hope at least you’ll come up with brilliant ideas from that ordeal next week.” said Jeezel.

      “What do you mean?” Truella looked at her suspiciously

      “The strategic meeting that Malové has called for? In the Adare Manor resort?” Frigella reminded her, rolling her eyes softly.

      “Jeez, Jeezel…” was all Truella could come up with. “another one of these boring meetings to boost our sales channels and come up with new incense models?” Truella groaned, already wishing it were over.

      “That’s right love. Better be on your A-game for this.” Jeezel said, straightening her wig with a sly grin.


      Spring was there. At 5:57am in the morning, true to her name, Truella had been planting truelles incognito in what appeared to be random flowerbeds in the cities she was passing through. The truelles, she would usually find with the locator spell in sheds around the city and magic them out right into her hands. She loved magic for its efficiency, which really meant there was no need to break in and forage for hours in cramped little rooms.

      As she was following a border of plane trees, she chuckled. Believe it or not, she practically invented that spell. At least that’s what her mother used to tell her when she was 6yo and she often wandered alone around the city without mentioning it to anyone. At the time, she had believed her mother. She had bragged about it with her friends at school and pretended she had forgotten all about it like because of a bump on her head. But truth is she had frequent memory losses, which didn’t worry her at the time, and she found it cool to be able to do things and rediscover them later on.

      It was an uncle with a dreadfully red moustache, who took pity on her and decided to shatter her dreams of early accomplishments and fame. Was it that same year? Or the next?

      Anyway, back to the truelles, she didn’t do it for people to take photos of it and post them to social media, like gawdy Jeez seemed to think, but it was to remind people of the treasures they had buried in those dark little rooms just there in their gardens. How long would it take them to realise that those forgotten tools had disappeared?

      Pleased with herself, she noticed a man with a white shirt leaning forward in front of one of the plane trees, his right hand on the bark, two paper bags full of croissants in the other. Frowning, she walked towards him. She was about to ask if he needed help when a strong smell of alcohol made her gag. Then without a warning, the man threw up a red mash in front of him. Truella jumped back, raising the truelle as if it could protect her from any splatter.

      “Eww!” She wouldn’t dare saying anything else as opening her mouth could open the gates for her own early toasted cheese fritter. At least the man would not need embalming fluids if he didn’t survive his nocturnal drinking spree.

      She cast the truelle in front of the tree and a spell on the man so that he would bury deep the traces of his last meal. She didn’t want the neighbourhood dogs getting drunk after feasting on it.


      “…..a steampunk soirée amongst the witches of Adare Manor!  Picture it, my dear—cogs and corsets, gears and garters!

      First, we must set the scene. The manor, that grand old dame Malove will be bedecked with brass and copper, festooned with flickering gaslights that cast a warm, sepia-toned glow upon all the revelry. The air will be thick with the scent of oil and ambition (mentioning no names), and the sound of pistons and valves will accompany the rustle of taffeta skirts.

      Now, our witches, those cunning creatures, will be the belles of the ball, their attire a fusion of Victorian elegance and industrial ingenuity. Picture bustled gowns with mechanical embellishments, parasols that double as communication devices, and monocles that can see into the aether!

      The pièce de résistance? A grand invention, unveiled at the stroke of midnight—an automaton oracle that will reveal secrets and predict the future with uncanny accuracy, all while puffing steam and sparking with electric life.

      And let’s not forget the refreshments! Scones that emit plumes of colored smoke when bitten, and a punch that changes flavor as it circulates through a series of alchemical tubes.

       A spectacle of speculative fiction, a carnival of chronology, a meeting of minds both mystical and mechanical!

       A most enticing invitation—we want all the witches of Adare Manor to be abuzz with anticipation. The steampunk party of the century awaits!”


      “Are you no longer even trying?” Eris raised an eyebrow at the invitation sent by Truella on the innerwitch cobweb.

      “What do you mean?” Truella replied with a puzzled avatart jiggling her head in discombobulation.

      “Posting verbatim from your Oracl’Liz. It shows. And I’m not sure you’re going to influence Malové like that; this is low-end jinx, she would have like 10 counterspells ready for that…”.

      Truella’s avatar raised her shoulders lazily in a “if there’s a chance it does the job” fashion that said it all.

      Eris’ head had a hard time to stabilise from the elephant ordeal. Ideas were still colliding in massive cacophony in her head and minute sounds and echoes of voices had her startled for nothing. Malové’s ineffable strategy —saying less, and leaving others guess will make you the smarter one in the room, dear. That sort of thing was starting to get on her nerves.
      Eris wasn’t sure that Malové would fall for a theme ball, when she was grappling for cash for the Coven. Or to keep appearances towards the other Covens, that much was a possibility.

      They had moved offices this week… Again. It was their third time in the past three months. At least the intermediary one was an excuse for more spells-at-home time, but now with the new one, they were all suppose to clock-in at least four days a week.

      Two days for that strategy meet in Adare Manor… The organising committee, mostly sycophantic witches had sent a meagre agenda, that talked about exciting workshops, brainstorming sessions and other meaningless stuff… and a survey. “How excited are you to join?” on a scale of 10. Eris had wanted to be more covenrporate, but her fingers had slipped… on a 2. Too bad if the survey wasn’t anonymous, maybe that’d get some attention.


      ““If there’s a chance it does the job,” Truella shrugged, “On a scale of one to ten, how much do you like steampunk hats?”  Smiling at Jezeel’s reaction she said, “Exactly. Who doesn’t?”


      “I don’t,” chipped in Frella. “I don’t like hats. I don’t like parties either. I don’t like large crowds of inebriated people and I don’t like loud music, unless it is music of my choosing, which it never is at parties. I don’t like shouting to be heard and I don’t like all the stupid hullabaloo that an event such as this inevitably entails.”

      Frella’s perfume, still a closely guarded secret, was nearly completed to her satisfaction. A consequence of working out what she loved, and adding the corresponding olfactory notes to her concoction, was that she had become very definite about what she didn’t like.  It wasn’t exactly making her popular she realised as she noticed Truella’s pained expression.


      Satis ineptias, a mildly jaded Eris blurted out, not meaning to put a spell on the others, but her elephant head was still playing tricks on her. Trève de sornettes had a nicest French ring to it, but the others would be nonethewiser.

      “Are we broompooling to Adare Manor, or someone has a spare vortexmaker?”

      In any case, the unexpected nononsense spell made everyone very sober… for about thirty seconds until Jeezel showed up.

      “Are those the latest slowmedown boots?” Truella couldn’t believe her eyes. “Those are collector, near impossible to get!” She gawked at the pinnacle of enchanting couture, the pièce de résistance for any discerning witch with a penchant for the peculiar.

      Frigella was nonplussed. “These look like worn-out snails, how can that be practical?”

      Truella shrugged. “You’re missing the point love, these boots are not merely footwear.”

      Jeeze couldn’t have her thunder stolen. “Let me stop you there, darling. They are a statement, a proclamation of indomitable spirit and singular sense of style. Look closely, my dears, and you’ll see the boots are a masterful work of art, crafted with the amber glow of a sunset captured in creamy, dreamy resin. Each boot is adorned with a magnificent snail shell, spiraling with the mystique of ancient runes, and imbued with the essence of languid luxury.”

      Frigella rolled her eyes. “But what’s the true enchantment?”

      Jeezel continued, her passion catching on fire “How can you ask? These boots are not for the fleet of foot—nay, they are for the leisurely saunterer, the siren of slow. Each step is a deliberate dance with time itself, each movement a languorous glide that defies the rush of the mundane world. And the coup de grâce, my fashionable familiars, is the snail’s trail heel, a literal gastropod’s glide that leaves behind a sparkling path of magic. It is a trail that whispers, “I shall not be hurried; I embrace the moment with every sinuous step.”
      Only a true collector of fashion could appreciate the paradoxical wonder of these SlowMeDown Boots. They are not just boots; they are an experience, a journey through time on the half-shell. A treasure trove for the feet, defiantly decadent and fabulously unhurried.”

      Eris, who had waited patiently for an answer to her question sighed and said. “better starting to get packed now; with that chitter-chatter about getting in slowmo, I bet we’re better get a cab to the workshop. So much for magical prowess…”


      It was early morning, too early if you asked some. The fresh dew of Limerick’s morn clinged to the old stones of King John’s castle like a blanket woven from the very essence of dawn. The castle was not to open its doors before 3 hours, yet a most peculiar gathering was waiting at the bottom of the tower closest to the Shannon river.

      “6am! Who would wake that early to take a bus?” asked Truella, as fresh as a newly bloomed poppy. She had no time to sleep after a night spent scattering truelles all around the city. “And where are the others?” she fumed, having forgotten about the resplendent undeniable presence she had vowed to embody during that day.

      Frigella, leaning against a nearby lamppost, her arms crossed, rolled her eyes. “Jeezel? Malové? Do you even want an answer?” she asked with a wry smile. All busy in her dread of balls, she had forgotten she would have to travel with her friends to go there, and support their lamentations for an entire day before that flucksy party. Her attire was crisp and professional, yet one could glimpse the outlines of various protective talismans beneath the fabric.

      Next to them, Eris was gazing at her smartphone, trying not to get the other’s mood affect her own, already at her lowest. A few days ago, she had suggested to Malové it would be more efficient if she could portal directly to Adare manor, yet Malové insisted Eris joined them in Limerick. They had to travel together or it would ruin the shared experience. Who on earth invented team building and group trips?

      “Look who’s gracing us with her presence,” said Truella with a snort.

      Jeezel was coming. Despite her slow pace and the early hour, she embodied the unexpected grace in a world of vagueness. Clumsy yet elegant, she juggled her belongings — a hatbox, a colorful scarf, and a rather disgruntled cat that had decided her shoulder was its throne. A trail of glitters seemed to follow her every move.

      “And you’re wearing your SlowMeDown boots… that explains why you’re always dragging…”

      “Oh! Look at us,” said Jeezel, “Four witches, each a unique note in the symphony of existence. Let our hearts beat in unison with the secrets of the universe as we’re getting ready for a magical experience,” she said with a graceful smile.

      “Don’t bother, Truelle. You’re not at your best today. Jeez is dancing to a tune she only can hear,” said Frigella.

      Seeing her joy was not infectious, Jeezel asked: “Where’s Malové?”

      “Maybe she bought a pair of SlowMeDown boots after she saw yours…” snorted Truella.

      Jeezel opened her mouth to retort when a loud and nasty gurgle took all the available place in the soundscape. An octobus, with magnificently engineered tentacles, rose from the depth of the Shannon, splashing icy water on the quatuor. Each tentacle, engineered to both awe and serve, extended with a grace that belied its monstrous size, caressing the cobblestones of the bridge with a tender curiosity that was both wild and calculated. The octobus, a pulsing mass of intelligence and charm, settled with a finality that spoke of journeys beginning and ending, of stories waiting to be told. Surrounded by steam, it waited in the silence.

      Eris looked an instant at the beast before resuming her search on her phone. Frigella, her arms still crossed and leaning nonchalantly against the lamppost, raised an eyebrow. Those who knew her well could spot the slight widening of her eyes, a rare show of surprise.

      “Who put you in charge of the transport again?” asked Truella in a low voice as if she feared to attract the attention of the creature.

      “Ouch! I didn’t…”, started Jeezel, trying to unclaw the cat from her shoulders.

      “I ordered the Octobus,” said Malové’s in a crisp voice.

      Eris startled at the unexpected sound. She hadn’t heard their mentor coming.

      “If you had read the memo I sent you last night, you wouldn’t be as surprised. But what did I expect?”

      The doors opened with a sound like the release of a deep-sea diver’s breath.

      “Get on and take a seat amongst your sisters and brothers witches. We have much to do today.”

      With hesitation, the four witches embarked, not merely as travelers but as pioneers of an adventure that trenscended the mundane morning commute. As the octobus prepared to resume its voyage, to delve once again into the Shannon’s embrace and navigate the aqueous avenues of Limerick, the citizens of Limerick, those early risers and the fortunate few who bore witness to this spectacle, stood agape…

      “Oh! stop it with your narration and your socials Jeez,” said Truella. “I need to catch up with slumber before we arrive.”


      It was impossible to sleep in the octobus, despite that Truella always found it easy to drop off while a passenger on various modes of transport. Unlike the usual gentle rocking of a bus or train, the tentacular motion resembled a slow roller coaster, and the interior walls were slippery. Tactile my ass, she muttered, this is revolting.   Truella felt her stomach heave when a steward brought a round tray covered with a glass