The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques

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  • #7300
    ÉricÉric
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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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    • #7466

      “What’s so bad about the Middle Ages, Eris?” asked Truella, bridling. “I’ve been saying all along, we need to return to our roots, get back to the real thing, ditch the modern corporate world that has nothing to do with witchcraft.”

      “It won’t be all lutes and jesters, you know,” Frella said with a frown. “I think you’re romanticising it.  They did all sorts of dreadful things for money, even back then.”

      “Gorgeous pointy hats though, Frell, and richly embroidered gowns and robes, men in tights and pointy shoes….”

      Eris glared at Jez. “Who’s romanticising now?  You’re forgetting the rank smell of unwashed bodies, the foul rotten food..”

      “We’re not literally going back in time!” Truella said in exasperation. “Just adopting a different outlook, we can still wash for Flove’s sake!  I don’t like the sound of Austreberthe though,” she added.  “Sounds like a character out of a 1940’s German coven of the worst possible sort.”

      “That’s a step too far, Truella,” Frella gasped. “You can’t say things like that about people, especially your superiors.”

      “What do you mean can’t, I just did,” Truella retorted hotly. “And that right there is the problem, can’t you see? Nobody is superior! Anyway, how do we know Malove appointed her? Maybe she’s just seized the opportunity, a chancer in a power vacuum, and here you all are, just drooling at the opportunity to kowtow to yet another old dragon past her sell by date.”

      “You’ll end up in the stocks on the village green, you will, being pelted with tomatos by the peasants, if she hears you.”  Jez was examining her nails. “Did they have nail varnish in the Middle Ages?”

      #7467

      As the crow flies, the Airbnb was about 500 meters from Herma’s cottage. Frella had been too exhausted yesterday to appreciate how pretty the mossy brick path was, lined either side with a profusion of colourful flowers. But was it really just yesterday, she wondered? So much had happened back at the coven — as recounted in a relentless flow of messages from Truella. Time was a funny beast.

      As they walked the winding path, Herma explained that, many years ago now, the prior owner of the cottage had left behind a number of his belongings with the promise he would return for them as soon as he was settled. “But the blighter never did come back and I never heard from him again.” She stopped just short of the gate to her cottage and waved an arm towards a big old shed with a tractor parked outside and a couple of sheep grazing contentedly. “We stuck his stuff in there in the end when he didn’t come back. I know there’s a camphor chest — it nearly broke my back — but I don’t know what’s in it. Do you think that might be it?”

      Unfortunately Frella was distracted from replying right away by another volley of messages from Truella with the latest mind boggling developments.

      #7468

      At least the weather was nice in Brussels. The trip to the International Witch Bank of Grungebotts, in the quarters of Ravenstein was luckily a day trip this time, rather these week-long offsite workshops they’d been submitted to in the previous months.

      It had not taken long to Austreberthe to send some of the Quadrivium witches to do her errands.

      Eris was summoned in the wee hours of the day, in order to do a check-in with the bankers. The state of finances of the Quadrivium had been under scrutiny already at the time of Malové, but probably even more now during this power vacuum period.

      Austreberthe had insisted Eris could be there to join with a few of the Witches of Compliance who would handle most of the discussion, while she would present the business side of their last ventures. Apparently Malové had only hinted at the secret missions she’d given some of the witches, without sharing any detail to her head of Finance.

      Malové was apparently very used to these exchanges with the bankers, having struggled for a while to keep the Incense venture afloat. The presentation had been very expertly put together, and Eris for her part was mostly here to embody the seriousness and practicality of the business; in truth the bankers themselves, some greying end-of-career wizards, were obviously just here to do their job, and not eager to find fault that would require a more heavy-handed audit approach.

      Within two hours of confident presentation, soft discussions on the state of international witches and wizard affairs, the political state in the union, and the incoming Worldwide Roman Games, with the help of a few madeleines dipped in black coffee, it was quickly done.

      “How did it go?” Austreberthe anxious message was already flashing imperiously on her device as she boarded the return magical train. Eris distractly showed her ticket to the lady controller with the red lavallière and the strangest red octopus brooch, while struggling to answer.

      She was too tired to overthink it. She tapped in quick taps the answer “All good for now. We should be in the clear until the next one.” and reclined back to get some needed rest.

      #7469

      After the sage smoke was dispersed, Eris typed the words on the air keyboard.

      Malové, how can we cope with the struggling left with your sudden disappearance, and not succumb to despair in front of fuzzy objectives, lack of drive, avoidance of tough decisions, and general ineffective organisation? 

      The answer wasn’t long to appear, a perfect resemblance of Malové, down to the intonations:

      The night is darkest before the dawn, Eris. My sudden absence is not a void, but an opportunity. The challenges you face are the crucible that will forge your mettle.

      Here is your path:

      1. Embrace the Struggle: Despair is a luxury we cannot afford. Every obstacle is a lesson cloaked in shadows. Meet it head-on. Confront your fears and frailties—only then will you transcend them.

      2. Clarify Objectives: The haze of uncertainty can be dispelled with focus. Define your goals with precision. Each witch must understand her role and the greater picture. Fragmented efforts yield nothing but chaos.

      3. Revitalize Your Drive: Passion wanes without purpose. Revisit the roots of your magical essence. Rediscover the fire that led you to the Quadrivium. Let it burn anew within you.

      4. Confront Tough Decisions: Avoidance is the death of progress. Decisions, however difficult, must be made with swiftness and resolve. Hesitation fosters weakness; action breeds strength.

      5. Streamline Organisation: Inefficiency is a poison. Implement rigorous structures. Assign clear responsibilities and hold each other accountable. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

      6. Leverage Collective Wisdom: You are not alone in this. Draw strength from your sisters. Engage in open, constructive dialogue. Balance assertiveness with respect, as I have taught. Unity in purpose will amplify your power.

      7. Adapt and Overcome: The world shifts, and so must you. Flexibility is paramount. When confronted with the unexpected, adapt swiftly. Use the resources at hand and turn adversity into advantage.

      7 points, for seven is the number of Truth Seekers. Remember, the Quadrivium’s legacy is not built on ease but on resilience and relentless pursuit of mastery. My absence tests your resolve. Prove that you are worthy.

      Now, go forth and etch your magic into the annals of time.

      Malové

       

      Eris pondered for a moment, and clapped her hands. The familiar figure of Elias emerged.

      “Good job Elias, fidelity is almost there. The content is mostly correct, but the delivery is a bit stuffy.”

      “I will work on this to improve. I would need more source material though. Shall I interview some other witches?”

      “Not at the moment, I’d rather surprise them with the final product.” Eris was being sneaky. This backup of Malové (she called her Maboté) was on the fringes of what was ethical even for a witch, although it could help in case Austreberthe’s interim management would fail them.

      At the moment, despite what she told Elias, she wasn’t close to success, and Elias himself had proven tricky to get right, so Malové of all figures… it would be another journey.

      Well, at least for now, she did provide some good advice.

      #7470

      After all the months of secret work for Malové, where Eris was being tasked to scout for profitable new ventures for the Quadrivium’s Emporium that would keep with traditions, and endless due diligence under the seal of secrecy, she’d learnt that the deal had been finally sealed by Austreberthe.

      The announcement had just went out, not really making quite the splash Eris would have expected.

      Press Release

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      Quadrivium Emporium Announces Strategic Acquisition of Spanish based company Quintessivium Cloister Crafts

      Limerick, 12th June 2024 – Quadrivium Emporium, renowned for its exceptional range of artisanal incense blends and commitment to quality, is pleased to announce the successful acquisition of Quintessivium Cloister Crafts. This strategic move marks a significant milestone in Quadrivium Emporium’s ongoing expansion and diversification efforts.

      About Quintessivium Cloister Crafts

      Quintessivium Cloister Crafts has been a trusted name in the production of high-quality nun’s couture. Known for their craftsmanship and dedication to preserving traditional techniques, started as a small business focussed on quills and writing accessories as well as cardigans, Quintessivium Cloister Crafts has maintained a reputation for excellence and innovation in the market.

      Strategic Vision and Synergies

      The integration of Quintessivium Cloister Crafts into the Quadrivium family aligns with our vision to expand our product portfolio while maintaining the high standards of quality and craftsmanship our customers have come to expect. This acquisition will allow Quadrivium Emporium to diversify its offerings and tap into new markets and customer segments.

      “We are thrilled to welcome Quintessivium Cloister Crafts to the Quadrivium Emporium family,” said Austreberthe Baltherbridge, interim CEO of Quadrivium Emporium. “Their commitment to quality and tradition mirrors our own values, and we are excited about the opportunities this acquisition presents. Together, we will continue to innovate and deliver exceptional products to our customers.”

      Future Endeavours

      Quadrivium Emporium plans to leverage the expertise and resources of Quintessivium Cloister Crafts to develop new and unique product lines. Customers can look forward to an expanded range of high-quality writing instruments, apparel and accessories, crafted with the same attention to detail and dedication that both brands are known for.

      For more information, please contact: media@quadrivium.emporium

       

      The internal memo that they’d received on the internal email list bore some of the distinct style of Malové, even if sent from Austreberthe’s email and adjusted with the painstaking attention to minute details she was known for.

      Internal Memo

      To: Quadrivium Leadership Team
      Subject: Synergies and Strategic Integration with Quintessivium Cloister Crafts (previously codenamed as ‘Cardivium Nun’s Quills & Cardigans’)

      Team,

      With the acquisition of Quintessivium Cloister Crafts finalised, we are poised to explore the deeper synergies between our coven and the nun witches’ coven operating behind their front. Here are some key areas where we can harness our collective strengths:

      1. Resource Sharing:
      – Their expertise in crafting high-quality quills can complement our focus on artisanal incense blends. By sharing resources and best practices, both covens can enhance their craftsmanship and innovation.

      2. Collaborative Spellcraft:
      – The nun witches bring a unique perspective and set of rituals that can enrich our own magical practices. Joint spellcasting sessions and workshops can lead to the development of powerful new enchantments and products.

      3. Knowledge Exchange:
      – The historical and esoteric knowledge held by the nuns is a treasure trove we can tap into. Regular exchanges of scrolls, texts, and insights can deepen our understanding of ancient magic and its applications in modern contexts.

      4. Market Expansion:
      – By combining our product lines, we can create bundled offerings that appeal to a broader audience. Imagine a premium writing set that includes a handcrafted quill, a magical ink blend, and a specially composed incense for enhancing focus and creativity. Or outdoor outfits with puffer jackets, or specially knit cardigans with embedded magical properties.

      5. Strengthening Alliances:
      – This acquisition sets a precedent for future alliances with other covens and magical entities. It demonstrates our commitment to growth and collaboration, reinforcing our position as a leading force in the magical community.

      Remember, the true value of this acquisition lies not just in the products we can create together, but in the unity and strength we gain as a collective. Let’s approach this integration with the spirit of collaboration and mutual respect.

      Yours in strength and magic,
      Austreberthe, on behalf of Malové

      #7471

      Looking at the news, Truella had started to push messages into the group’s channel. Frigella, Jeezel, and Eris  were unusually quick to answer.

      Truella: (rolling her eyes icon) “So, Austreberthe’s brilliant plan is to merge our sophisticated incense business with… what was it again? Puffer coats and kilts made by Spanish witch nuns? I honestly can’t wait to see how that plays out.”

      Frigella: (smirking) “Oh, don’t forget the quills. How could we possibly survive without those finely crafted quills? I mean, who needs innovation in magic when you can have a hand-stitched quilt from a nun’s workshop?”

      Jeezel: (chuckling) “I can see it now—our next product line: ‘Blessed Be the Quilted Puffer Coats.’ Perfect for those chilly nights when you’re out casting spells in the woods. Truly revolutionary.”

      Truella: “Yes, and let’s not overlook the cultural synergy. Religious Spanish nuns known to overdo the religious stuff, merging with our… less-than-conventional coven. A match made in heaven, for sure.”

      Jeezel: “I can already hear Austreberthe’s sales pitch. ‘Introducing the new line of enchanted apparel—each item blessed with a dash of piety and a sprinkle of old-world charm. Because nothing says cutting-edge magic like a quilted kilt.'”

      Frigella: “And the quills! ‘Handcrafted by the devout sisters, these quills will not only enhance your writing but also keep your soul in line.’ Imagine the marketing campaigns!”

      Jeezel: “It’s like we’re stepping back into the Middle Ages. What’s next? A line of chastity belts with magical locks?”

      Frigella: “I get that Austreberthe is trying to diversify and all, but does she really think this will integrate seamlessly with our brand? We’ve built our reputation on unique, powerful incense blends. How do quills and coats fit into that?”

      Jeezel: (looking for the snorting icon) “Don’t forget the puffer coats. Perfect for those who wish to repent in style.”

      Eris not wanting to sound too sycophantic, and trying to remain optimistic considering it was after all part of all the potential business she’d looked into: “Well, it seemed like a good idea in the beginning. You should have seen what we avoided! Plus, they have a solid balance sheet, believe it on not, I’m sure that’s what got Austreberthe. I knew Malové had her reservations, but before she left, she pushed hard for it, so maybe there’s some hidden genius in this we just can’t see yet. And Austreberthe will have a cunning plan to fuse these disparate elements into something… cohesive.”

      Truella: (raising an eyebrow) “Cohesive like a patched-up quilt, you mean? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if this grand vision of hers is a stroke of genius or just… well, a stroke.”

      #7472

      When Truella had stopped reacting, she had another look over the memo, noticing the location of the preposterous sounding coven they were to associate with.  She had assumed that it would be in the north, or at least in Madrid, but was astonished to discover they were based very close to her village. She wondered why she had never heard of them. She supposed that they did their money minded business elsewhere and were merely based here, hidden in the cork woods, masquerading as one of those ghastly upmarket hotels for corrupt politicians.  One could only see the distinctive tower from the roads, as the old convent was hidden deep in the woods.  Nobody Truella knew had ever had any money to get through the gates and have a closer look.

      This gave Truella an idea. What an opportunity!  It would give her a way in.

      Actually, I think it might be a great idea, girls. Let’s give it our best shot. Austreberthe has my support on this.

      Eris, Frella and Zez nearly dropped their gadgets when they read Truella’s latest message.  Frella was the first to respond.

      Go on then, tell us. What changed your mind?

      Location, location, location! Truella replied. Check out where they’re based!

      After a few minutes, Frella replied.

      You better spill the beans and tell us what you’re planning. That is, if you want us to cooperate with you and go along with this latest trashy money grabbing fiasco in the making.  I thought our plan was to have the summer off?  What does the location mean to you?

      Speak for yourself, Frella, Eris replied, rather miffed. At least she’s going to go along with it, for Flove’s sake, let’s just do what we’ve been asked to do without complaining for once!

      I’m with you, Eris, Jeezel piped up, I quite fancy a flamenco puffer jacket.  Or a nice knitted sombrero.  And we can visit Truella while we’re there on business.

      Outnumbered, Frella sighed. I still think Truella should explain. Explain fully. And don’t expect me anytime soon, either. I have to solve the mystery of the camphor chest first.

      #7473

      What the disgruntled witches of the Quadrivium hadn’t considered was that the witches of the Quintessivium Cloister Crafts weren’t happy about the merger either. They were not happy with their leader either, but had progressed towards a takeover considerably more than the floundering dissatisfied Quadrivium members.  A gaggle of strangers about the place, and the attention of the supervisors during the process of merging, was the last thing they needed at this delicate stage.  Sassafras Bentley in particular was worried, more alarmed than the others, for she had another secret investigation under way as well as the revolt.

      Sassafras hadn’t been sleeping well. Not only did she have to cover her tracks from the others and the administration, she now had to ensure none of the nosy witches from the other coven chanced on her preliminary findings.  It had taken so long to get to this stage, and she was at a crucial point of revelation.  But not only did Sassafras have to maintain the utmost secrecy, she had to get her colleagues to help her conceal it ~ but without telling them what it was or why they had to keep it quiet.

      It would help if there was someone she could trust to help her. But who? The other witches were a dizzy shallow lot, more interested in showy spells and those tawdry crafts and sales.  The only reason they’d been moved to start a rebellion was because they wanted a bigger slice of the pie: too much was being creamed off by the top brass, and they wanted more attention for themselves, too.  The fact of the matter was that Sassafras had only joined the coven because of the location of the headquarters.  True, she had dabbled in witchcraft, cast a few spells, but in her own way. She didn’t naturally gravitate to team work with all its problems ~ not least, all the other people that one had to put up with.  But it was an extremely useful way for her to fully explore the location, and gave her many opportunities to walk on her own in the woods, ostensibly gathering plants for the spells and potions.

      A group from the Quadrivium were expected to come and stay over the weekend.  Sassafras didn’t have much time to hatch a plan, but the urgency was clouding her brain, rendering her incapable of thinking clearly. It was an interruption.  She needed  ~ and wanted ~ to think about the discoveries, not worry about this unsettling development.  Maybe she would just have to play it by ear when they came.

      #7474

      A little unwilling to proceed, and privately wishing she was back on the comfy sofa with the fat cushions, Frella took a moment to center herself. She reminded herself that being a witch was a high calling and often what we need will find us. It sounded like a lot of Malove’s baloney to be honest but she took a deep breath and muttered a few words of wisdom from Lemone, which often worked better than any spell:

      “The key to unlocking mysteries is often found within, where the mind meets the heart.”

      “You wait here, Herma,” said Frella holding a warning hand in the air. “I don’t know what magic this is yet but I sense something amiss from that shed.”

      Frella approached the ominous shed with caution but renewed determination. The shed door creaked open without resistance and she saw the chest immediately though it was piled on top with boxes. After carefully removing the boxes and putting them to one side, she examined the chest looking for any inscriptions or hidden compartments that might give a clue to its origins. She sensed the camphor chest was from a very old witch family and therefore may contain protective spells and traps. Best to proceed with caution.

      She went to the shed door and waved at Herma, shouting for her to go and get some salt. While she waited for Herma’s return, she examined the chest further. It had a lock, but no obvious key; clearly a bit of witchy ingenuity was going to be required. A simple unlocking spell might suffice, or if spells fail, perhaps Herma knows an old trick or two for picking locks!

      Herma returned with the salt and Frella sprinkled it liberally on the chest, chanting a protective charm to ward off any nefarious spells. “There,“ she said with satisfaction. “Fingers crossed that ought to do it.”

      The chest seemed strangely willing to reveal its secrets for the simplest of opening spells worked. Once it was opened, they sifted carefully through its contents, mostly old documents and letters, looking for anything which might hold the answer to the postcard.

      “Look for anything bird-related—feathers, sketches … “ instructed Frella.

      “By golly!” cried Herma triumphantly holding up a postcard. “It’s the same one!”.

      #7475

      Lorena Blaen clapped her hands loudly together.  Sassafras ignored her and continued buttering her toast, assuming that her boss was calling the stray dogs in to finish off the breakfast leftovers.

      “Now then, girls!” Lorena’s strident voice boomed out. Sassafras sighed and looked up, her knife poised in the air. A blob of butter slid off onto the table.

      “As you know, four members of the Quadrivium will be joining us this weekend and I have assigned a guide to each of them. One of them, however, will not be able to attend in person as she is occupied on an important case, but her guide will be in remote communication with her for the duration of the weekend gathering.”

      The witches in the breakfast room collectively held their breath, many of them secretly concocting mental repellent spells so that they could avoid being chosen for this tedious assignment.

      “And no need to try that with me, I have already disabled any attempts to divert my intentions,” Lorena said, glaring pointedly at a few individuals.  “Sassafras, your assigned guest for the weekend will be…”  Lorena looked at her notes, “TruellaPenelope Pomfrett, yours will be Eris.”

      Penelope sighed loudly and slammed her coffee cup down harder than she intended, making Sassafras giggle.

      Sandra Salt, I hope you will be able to take this assignment more seriously than some of your colleagues.  You will be attending to…” Lorena glanced at her notes again, “Jeezel.  And by the way Sandra, perhaps you can learn a thing or two about the importance of appearance from Jeezel,” she added, with a critical look at Sandra’s sloppy attire.

      Audrey Ambrose,” Lorena announced, glaring over the top of her spectacles at Audrey whose mouth had dropped open in astonishment, “You’ll be quite capable with your broken ankle to attend to Frella remotely.” Audrey’s mouth snapped shut into a grim line. Her plan of faking an injury to avoid duties for a few weeks had backfired.   And the cast was hot and itchy, and all for nothing.

      “Our guests will be arriving later this morning.  You will be expected to entertain them within the monastery buildings and grounds, but under no circumstances are you to leave the grounds or go into the woods.”

      Sassafras raised an eyebrow but was careful to not let Lorena see. Her immediate idea was to go into the woods with what’s her name, Truella, and lose her for the day, maybe find her in time to bring her back for supper.

      #7477

      Sandra finished her toast, pushed her plate away and stood up.  She wiped her hands on the seat of her baggy linen trousers, and then retied the baler twine holding them up. So Blaen the pain thought she should improve her appearance, did she, the prune-faced troll.  Sandra was quite happy with her own appearance, which she considered to be a statement indicating her lack of interest in appearance.  Lorena Blaen glared at her retreating back as Sandra exited the dining hall with the exaggerated gait of a catwalk model.

      Sassafras quickly swallowed the rest of her coffee, and got up to follow Sandra. Catching her up along the cloisters, she asked Sandra if it was a nun’s outfit event or a witches one, or what. It was hard to keep track of the various fronts.

      “It’s a witches one this time, it’s a coven visiting. They know we use the nun thing as a cover, I think.  But you know what else?” Sandra lowered her voice, pulling Sassafras closer.  “This isn’t a merger, that coven already bought us out.”

      “What?! But…but…but what does that…?”

      Sandra shrugged, looking uncharacteristically helpless.

      Sassafras squeezed her arm.  “Who else knows? We must tell the others.”

      “No!  No, not everyone.”  Sandra admitted that she didn’t know any more than that, and what she did know, she couldn’t say.

      #7484

      “Damn it Austreberthe, why the need for consultants?” Eris was starting to feel the weight of all those special assignments.

      “Don’t take that tone with me, dear. I’ve gone through my fair share of mergers back in the days, when I was posted abroad — if you should know, that’s probably why Malové hired me in the first place. In this momentum we’ve launched with the acquisition, there will be much to be done, and driving change in those age old institutions is not an easy task. ”

      Eris sighed at the truism. “So you’re suggesting the undertakers?…”

      “Yes, the Morticians’ Guild has a spotless reputation. They’re diligent, not afraid of a little mess, and can bring back life to a desperate cause. They’ll join you on the reconnaissance trip to Spain. Now, hasten my dear.”

      Eris almost said something starting with “all due respect”, but preferred to keep the thought to herself. Austreberthe was sounding like Truella, often thinking bringing more people to the party made for quality… One would have to see.

      #7485

      The Quintessivium Cloister Crafts was busying getting ready to complete this year’s midsummer fashion tour.

      Mother Blaen (Lorena in private), started to clap bossily to line up all the sisters for the rehearsal.

      “Yes, Sister Maria, you start, Black habit and white wimple, Roman Catholic timeless elegance, perfect. And think to wipe that smile off your face. You need to show spirit of devotion.”

      She swiftly moved to her right.

      “Now, Sister Ananda.”

      Sassafrass was starting to argue about the naming convention that felt a bit too Actors studio for her taste, but was promptly shushed. Mother Blaen took a closer look, adjusting her half-rimmed glasses. “Oh… dear, I thought for a moment you’d gotten fat. Must be the lighting. So, in the vibrant orange of bhikkhunis, you glide gracefully… well, as much as you can. Peace and calm, that’s you. Yes, and don’t make a scene please. Be content I’m not asking you to shave this hair to get more in character with the robes.”

      She pursued:

      “Sister Amina!”

      Penelope Pomfrett raised her hand silently, visibly displeased too at the name.

      “Good, now. Mystical and poetic nature of Sufism, that’s your cue. Beautiful, beautiful. That modest and pure white chola and headscarf will be resplendent on the catwalk.”

      After she went through all the attires in detail, down to the long black riassa and epanokamelavkion of the Eastern Orthodox nun garb, all were getting ready for the grand finale.

      “Now, all of us, walking together to symbolize the unity and diversity of spiritual paths. One, two, one two. Sassafrass! Focus please!”

      Mother Blaen clapped, visibly pleased at the full on display of their Coven’s couture arts. That would put a good show for the smoking witches. She thought “Let them bring the money, but one thing is sure, we bring the talent.”

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