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  • #4781

    In reply to: The Stories So Near

    EricEric
    Keymaster

      Newest developments

      POP-IN THREAD (Maeve, Lucinda, Shawn-Paul, Jerk, [Granola])

      Maeve and Shawn-Paul are travelling separately to the Australian bush, and end up together at the Flying Fish Inn where they discover they’ve been given the same coupons. Maeve is suspicious of a mysterious man following her.
      Maeve has an exchange with Arona, and sketches her and the cat for her collection of ideas for new dolls. They discover that Arona has the key from her doll.
      Little is said of what happened after Maeve’s Uncle Fergus appears in dramatic fashion.
      After the collective black-out, all bets are off as to the next steps.

      In Canada, Jerk is killing time at the mall, and Lucinda is possibly taking care of Fabio who might be distressed as he’s peeing the doormat regularly.

      Granola after hopping between threads and realities, detected a psychic blast from the Doctor and while trying to investigate, ended up trapped in a tiny red crystal at the Doctor’s lair.

      FLYING FISH INN THREAD (Mater/Finly, Idle/Coriander/Clove, Devan, Prune, [Tiku])

      After the dramatic arrival of Fergus and the guests, some flirting of Sanso and Idle, Mater’s fashion show, Prune has decided to get back to school after an indigestion of medicinal lizard.

      Some of the guests, namely Connie and Hilda have gone to explore the mines. Possibly with Devan and Bert in tow.

      Fergus has mysteriously disappeared after the black-out.

      DOLINE THREAD (Arona, Sanso/Lottie, Ugo, Albie)

      Arona, Ugo, Albie and Mandrake have left the Australian Inn, after a dramatic chase by unknown assailants, possibly the magpies sent by the Doctor. They reappear in the Doline, in Leörmn’s pool, having managed to get the magpies off their trail.

      NEWSREEL THREAD (Ms Bossy, Hilda/Connie, Sophie, Ricardo)

      The Doctor has managed a psychic event of dramatic proportions. He’s noticed a glowing red crystal that seems to have interfered with his machine. He’s starting to study it, and unravel its secrets.

      Sharon, Gloria and Mavis, the dynamic trio is planning their escape from the nursing home. The psychic blast seems to have alerted Gloria somehow as to the fate of Granola (B), as she somehow guess it’s linked to the Doctor’s experiments (beauty treatments). They plan to go there to investigate (after a fashion).

      LIZ THREAD (Finnley, Liz, Roberto, Godfrey)

      Finnley has disappeared, Liz and Godfrey are to fend for themselves.

      DRAGON 💚 WOOD THREAD (Glynnis, Eleri, Fox/Gorrash, Rukshan)

      Muriel has left the cottage, and our friends are preparing their travel to the Land of Giant, while some tales are told.
      Glynnis is teaching bits to a birds’ choir.

      #4775
      EricEric
      Keymaster

        The wind swooshed in the garden, making fallen apples roll on the ground. The air had a lively smell of earth and decaying fruit, and the grass was still moist from the morning dew.
        The statue of Gorrash was facing East, and the rising sun was bringing golden hues to his petrified face. Little snoots were curled in glowing colourful balls of liquid fur around the statue, making it pulsate with a quieting purr. Around Gorrash, the slope was peppered with some of the gargoyles rejects that Eleri had made and couldn’t sell at the market. Still, instead of discarding them, she’d arranged a little forest of painted gargoyles as a sort of silent watchful army guarding Gorrash’s sleep.
        Rukshan liked to meditate at the place, it helped with the stress he’d felt at coming back from the last ordeals. He wouldn’t have thought, but his identity had felt more shaken than he knew. He wasn’t feeling at home with the Faes any longer, and there were few people who could relate to his adventures in the villages nearby, where he was nothing more than an ominous stranger. Retreating in the Fae’s dimension, hidden from all and mostly abandoned was a tempting thought, but he’d found it was a lure with empty promises. He still had work to do.

        Tak and Nesy were already awake and were coming back for the rest of the story.
        He’d started to tell them about the Giants, the old forgotten story which he’d learnt many years ago in his previous life as a Dark Fae. Both were captivated at the prowess displayed by the Master Craftsmen, the old Rings of Stones that they built, the Cairns of the Fallen, and the Fields of Chanting Boulders where magic rituals where performed.

        “Tell us more Rukshan!” they said. “Tell us more about the Three Giant Kings.”
        “Do you remember their names?” he smiled back at the children.
        “Yes! There was Ceazar…” Tak started
        “Caesar, yes” he corrected gently
        “… and Archimedes,” Tak continued hesitantly
        “Yes, and who was the third one?”
        “He had a long and strange name! Nesy, help me!”
        The girl tried to help him “It starts with a V”
        “Vergincetorix!” the answer came from behind a bush.

        Fox!” Nesy cried reproachfully. “It’s not even right! It’s Vercingetorix!”
        “Correct Nesy! And Fox, no need to lurk in the shadows, stories are not only for children you know.”

        Fox took a place near the gargoyle army garden, and a baby snoot jumped into his lap, cooing in vibrating mruii.

        “So what about these Kings do you want to know?” Rukshan asked.
        “Everything!” they all said in unison.
        “Oh well, in this case, let me retell you the story of the Golden Age of the Three Giant Kings, and how they saved their people from a terrible catastrophe.”

        #4761
        AvatarJib
        Participant

          Barbara’s office was dead silent apart from the regular bips of the machines. The whiteness of the painted walls made it feel like a psych ward. She shivered away the memories that were trying to catch her attention.

          It’s been two hours since the Doctor had locked himself up in his rage-release room, a spacious soundproofed room with padded walls. Not even a small window to look inside and check if his anger had subsided. Barbara clearly preferred the trauma of the shouts and cries and the broken plates that were hidden here and there for him to use when he needed most. But when he started his therapy with the AI psych module, the damn bot suggested he built that room in order to release his rage in a more intimate framework.
          Now the plates collected dust and the sessions in the room tended to last longer and longer.

          Today’s burst of rage had been triggered by the unexpected gathering of the guests at the Inn. The Doctor was drinking his columbian cocoa, a blend of melted dark chocolate with cheddar cheese, when the old hag in that bloody gabardine started her speech. The camera hidden in the eye of the fish by their agent, gave them a fisheye view of the room. It was very practical and they could see everything. The AI engineer module could recreate a 3D view of the room and anticipate the moves of all the attendees.

          When that girl with the fishnet handed out the keys for all to see and the other girl got the doll out, the Doctor had his attention hyper-focused. He wanted to see it all.
          Except there had been a glitch and images of granola cookies superimposed on the items.

          “Send the magpies to retrieve the items,” he said, nervousness making his voice louder.
          “Ahem,” had answered Barbara.
          “What?” The Doctor turned towards her. His eye twitched when he expected the worst, and it had been twitching fast.
          She had been trying to hide the fact that the magpies had been distracted lately, as she had clearly been herself since she had found that goldminer game on facebush.
          No need to delay the inevitable, she had thought. “The magpies are not in the immediate vicinity of the Inn.” In fact, just as their imprinting mother was busy digging digital gold during her work time, the magpies had found a new vein of gold while going to the Inn and Barbara had thought it could be a nice addition to her meager salary… to make ends meet at the end of the month.

          It obviously wasn’t the right time to do so. And she was worried about the Doctor now.

          To trump her anxiety, she was surfing the internet. Too guilty to play the gold miner, she was looking around for solutions to her boss’s stress. The variety and abundance of advertisement was deafening her eyes, and somewhere in a gold mine she was sure the magpies were going berserk too. She had to find a solution quickly.

          Barbara hesitated to ask the AI. But there were obviously too many solutions to choose from. Her phone buzzed. It was her mother.
          “I finally found the white jade masks. Bought one for you 2. It helps chase the mental stress away. You clearly need it.” Her mother had joined a picture of her wearing the mask on top of a beauty mask which gave her the look of a mummy. Her mother was too much into the woowoo stuffs and Barbara was about to send her a polite but firm no she didn’t want the mask. But the door of the rage-room opened and the Doctor went out. He had such a blissful look on his face. It was unnatural. Barbara had been suspecting the AI to brainwash the Doctor with subliminal messages during those therapy sessions. Maybe it also happened in the rage-room. The AI was using tech to control the Doctor. Barbara would use some other means to win him back.

          OK. SEND IT TO ME QUICK. she sent to her mother.

          #4757
          AvatarJib
          Participant

            The loud throbbing of a Harley Davidson interrupted the unexpected revelation moment.
            A few seconds later, the door banged open and a man with a long moustache, thick eyebrows and a rather bushy hair entered the Inn.

            Fergus?” said Mater, frowning.
            Uncle Fergus?” said Maeve.
            “You old bastard!” said Bert.

            Devan didn’t know the name of the man, but he did manage to infuse his wide open mouth with an interrogation.

            “Who’s Fergus?” asked Dodo, who didn’t want to be left behind.

            The fact that Mater was the first person to pronounce the name of the man didn’t escape Prune’s shrewd mind.
            “How do you know him?” she asked Mater who blushed and used another puff of dust to cough and avoid the question.

            But one surprised all the others, even Fergus.
            “My long lost brother!” said Sanso. He moved forward and hugged the newly arrived man. Truth be told, there was some ressemblance between the two of them.

            Mandrake was looking at Ugo who seemed rather focused on the scene. Something was off, he could feel it. He should warn Arona, but the darn lizard never left her side, or her hair. It was pretty annoying since she would not brush his fur very often now, and he certainly needed some refreshing with all the knots caused by the dryness of the climate.

            #4747

            In reply to: The Stories So Near

            EricEric
            Keymaster

              WHERE ARE THEY ALL NOW ? 🗻

              a.k.a. the map thread, and because everything happens now anyway.

              POP-IN THREAD (Maeve, Lucinda, Shawn-Paul, Jerk, [Granola])

              🌀 [map link] – KELOWNA, B.C., CANADA

              It looks like our group of friends live in Canada, Kelowna.

              Kelowna is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. The name Kelowna derives from an Okanagan language term for “grizzly bear”. The city’s motto: “Fruitful in Unity”

              Interestingly, Leörmn the dragon from the Doline may have visited from time to time : Ogopogo / Oggie / Naitaka

              FLYING FISH INN THREAD (Mater/Finly, Idle/Coriander/Clove, Devan, Prune, [Tiku])

              Though very off the beaten track, the Flying Fish Inn may be located near a location that was a clue left as a prank by Corrie & Clove on the social media to lure conspiracy theorists to the Inn.
              🔑 ///digger.unusually.playfully

              It seems to link to a place near documented old abandoned mines.

              🌀 [map link]  – SOME PLACE IN THE MIDDLE OF AUSTRALIA, OFF ARLTUNGA ROAD

              DOLINE THREAD (Arona, Sanso/Lottie, Ugo, Albie)

              This one is a tricky geographical conundrum, since the Doline is a multi-dimensional hub. It connects multiple realities and places though bodies of water, with the cave structure (the Doline) at its center, a world on its own right, where talking animals and unusual creatures are not uncommon.

              It has shown to connect places in the Bayou in Louisiana, where Albie & Mandrake went to see the witch, as well as the coastal area of Australia, where they emerged next in their search for Arona.

              At the center of the Doline is a mysterious dragon named Leörmn, purveyor of precious traveling pearls and impossible riddles. We thus may infer possible intersection points in our dimension, such as 🔑 ///mysterious.dragon.riddle a little North of Hawaii, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

              However, the inside of the Doline would look rather like Phong Nha-Ke Bang gigantic cave in Vietnam.

              NEWSREEL THREAD (Ms Bossy, Hilda/Connie, Sophie, Ricardo)

              It is not very clear where our favourite investigative team is located. They are likely to be near an urban area with a well-connected international airport, given their propensity for impromptu traveling, such as in Iceland and Australia.

              For all we know, they could be settled in Germany: 🔑 ///newspapers.gone.crazy
              or Denmark 🔑 ///publish.odds.news

              As for the Doctor, we strongly suspect his current hideout to be also revealed when searching from his signature beautification prescription that has made him famous in connoisseur circles: 🔑 ///beauty.treatment.shot at the frontier of Sweden and Finland.

              LIZ THREAD (Finnley, Liz, Roberto, Godfrey)

              We don’t really know where the story happens; for that, one would need to dive into Liz’s turbulent past, and that would confound the most sane individual, starting with keeping count of her past husbands.

              As a self-made powerful best-selling writer, we could guess she would take herself to be the JK Rowling of the Unplotted Booker Prize, and thus would be a well-traveled British uptart, sorry upstart, with a fondness for mansions with character and gardeners with toned glutes. Of course, one would need the staff.

              DRAGON 💚 WOOD THREAD (Glynnis, Eleri, Fox/Gorrash, Rukshan)

              This story happens in another completely different dimension, but it can be interesting to explore some of its unusual geography.

              The World revolved around a central axis, and different worlds stacked one upon the other, with the central axis like an elevator.

              We know of

              • the World of Humans, where most of the story takes place
              • the world of Gods, above it, which has been sealed off, and where most Gods disappeared in the old ages
              • Under these two, the world of Giants exists, still to be explored.

              At the intersection of the central axis of the world and the human world, radiates the Heartwood, a mystical forest powered by the Gem of Creation which has been here since the Dawn of Times, and is a intricate maze, and a dimension in itself. It had grown around itself different woods and glades and forests, with various level of magical properties meant to repel intruders or lesser than Godlike beings.

              The Fae dimension is a particular dimension which exists parallel to the Human World, accessible only to Elder Faes, and where the race originated, and is now mostly deserted, as Faes’ magic waning with the encroachment of humans into the Forest, most have chosen to live in the Forests and try and protect them.

              #4744

              In reply to: The Stories So Near

              EricEric
              Keymaster

                Newer developments

                POP-IN THREAD (Maeve, Lucinda, Shawn-Paul, Jerk, [Granola])

                Granola is popping in and out of the stories, exploring interacting more physically with her friends through Tiku, a bush lady focus of hers.
                Luckily (not so coincidentally) Maeve and Shawn-Paul were given coupons to travel from their rural Canada town to the middle of Australia. Maeve is suspicious of being followed by a strange man, and tags along with Shawn-Paul to keep a cover of a young couple. Maeve is trying to find the key to the doll that she made in her secret mission for Uncle Fergus, which has suddenly reappeared at her friend Lucinda’s place. She’ll probably is going to have to check on the other dolls that she made as well.
                Jerk continues to administrate some forum where among other things, special dolls are found and exchanged, and he moderates some strange messages.
                Lucinda is enjoying Fabio’s company, Maeve’s dog, that she has in her care while Maeve is travelling.

                FLYING FISH INN THREAD (Mater/Finly, Idle/Coriander/Clove, Devan, Prune, [Tiku])

                The mysteries of the Flying Fish Inn seem to unravel slowly, like Idle’s wits.
                Long time family member are being drawn inexplicably, such as Prune and brother Devan. The local bush lady Tiku is helping Finly with the catering, although Finly would rather do everything by herself. The totemic Fish was revealed to be a talisman placed here against bad luck – “for all the good it did” (Mater).
                Bert, thought to be an old flame of Mater, who’s acted for the longest time as gardener, handyman and the likes, is revealed to be the father of Prune, Devan, Coriander and Clove’s mother. Mater knew of course and kept him around. He was trained in codes during his time with the military, and has a stash of potentially dangerous books. He may be the key to the mystery of the underground tunnels leading to the mines, and hidden chests of gold. Devan is onto a mystery that a guy on a motorbike (thought to be Uncle Fergus of Maeve’s story) told him about.

                DOLINE THREAD (Arona, Sanso/Lottie, Ugo, Albie)

                Mandrake & Albie after a trip in the bayou, and looking for the dragon Leormn’s pearls and the sabulmantium, have finally found Arona after they have emerged from the interdimentional water network from the Doline, to the coast of Australia in our reality, where cats don’t usually talk.
                Albie is expecting a quest, while the others are just following Arona’s lead, as she is in possession of a mysterious key with 3 words engraved.
                After some traveling in hot air balloon, and with a local jeep, they have arrived at a local Inn in the bush, with a rather peculiar family of owners, and quite colorful roster of guests. That’s not even counting the all-you-can-eat lizard meat buffet. What joy.

                NEWSREEL THREAD (Ms Bossy, Hilda/Connie, Sophie, Ricardo)

                Ms Bossy is looking to uncover the Doctor’s surely nefarious plans while her newspaper business isn’t doing so well. She’s got some help from Ricardo the intern. They have found out that the elderly temp worker who’s fascinated by the future, Sophie (aka Sweet Sophie) had been the first subject of the Doctor’s experiments. Sophie has been trying to uncover clues in the dreams, but it’s just likely she is still a sleeper agent of the Doctor.
                Despite all common sense and SMS threats, Hilda & Connie have gone in Australia to chase a trail (from a flimsy tip-off from Superjerk that may have gone to Lucinda to her friend journalist). They are in touch with Lucinda, and post their updates on social media, flirting with the risk of being uncovered and having trouble come at their door.
                Sha, Glo and Mavis are considering reaching out for a vacation of the nursing home to get new free beauty treatments.
                In his secret lair, the Doctor is reviving his team of brazen teafing operatives: the magpies.

                LIZ THREAD (Finnley, Liz, Roberto, Godfrey)

                Not much happened as usual, mostly an entertaining night with Inspector Melon who is quizzing Liz’ about her last novel about mysterious messages hidden in dolls with secret keys, which may be her best novel yet…

                DRAGON 💚 WOOD THREAD (Glynnis, Eleri, Fox/Gorrash, Rukshan)

                Before Rukshan goes to the underworld land of Giants, he’s going to the cottage to gather some of his team of friends, Fox, Ollie etc. Glynis is taking care of Tak during Margoritt’s winter time in the city. Margoritt’s sister, Muriel is an uninvited and unpleasant guest at the cottage.
                Tak is making friends with a young girl who may have special powers (Nesy).
                The biggest mystery now is… is the loo going to get fixed in time?

                #4742
                TracyTracy
                Participant

                  “Psst|! Glynis!” the muffled voice seemed to be coming from behind the smugwort bushes.

                  With a sigh, she plonked the unappetizing looking casserole on the table, making it look heavier than it was. Sighing again, Glynis made her way out of the open kitchen door with a slow heavy tread. There it was again: “Glynis! Shhh! Over here!”

                  For a brief moment she forgot all about feeling like a sloth in a concrete overcoat, and succumbed to a mild feeling of curiosity.

                  “Who’s there?” she whispered, peering into the moonlit bushes. “Oh, it’s you|! Eleri, what the dickens are you doing lurking around in there?”

                  “I’m, er, undercover,” Eleri replied. “Just tell me what’s going on, and be quick about it! I’m expected in another story any minute!”

                  #4733
                  DevanDevan
                  Participant

                    I have never seen so many guests at once at the Inn. Even old Bert is ferreting around, I’ve seen him many times near the shed or near the garage door. Mater knows about it of course. I’ve seen her looking at him from the corner of her eyes. I wonder if she knows about the hidden gold. I’m sure Bert knows, and that’s why he’s always been lurking around when we were kids.

                    Mater, she hadn’t said anything when I came back and took my old room as if I never left. She just grunted and gave me some work to do.

                    “It’s not good to stay idle all the time,” she had said, making me chuckle as I saw aunt Idle sneaking out to take care of her weed plot in the back yard. As if Mater didn’t know about it. I know she tried to chew some when Idle was in India and she didn’t like the taste of the raw plant, so I had showed her how to smoke it. After the coughing spell had passed, she had seemed to enjoy the experience then, but I don’t know if she had ever used some again afterward. She’s as stern as she used to be. But I like her that way. She’s the spine of the Flying Fish Inn. I’m not sure Idle could manage it all, especially I doubt Finly would stay more than a few days if Idle was the manager here.

                    Although, I’m suspecting Finly to sell weeds to the guests. She’s been acting weird and I’ve come upon her and Idle arguing in the kitchen upon a loafed bush lizard. Dido was accusing Finly of stealing her last crop and Finley… Well, I don’t really care about what they do.

                    I’ll just have to find some quiet time to go inspect the cellar. If what the man on the Harley had told me is true, I want to find the tunnels below the Inn.

                    #4725
                    EricEric
                    Keymaster

                      A wild eyed crow was cawing relentlessly since the wee hours of the dawn.
                      Nothing much had moved since everyone arrived at the Inn, and in contrast with the hot days, the cool night had sent everyone shivering under the thin woolen blankets that smelled of naphthalene.
                      Deep down, Bert was glad to see the old Inn come back to life, even if for a little while. He was weary of the witch though. She wouldn’t be here without some supernatural mischief afoot.
                      He glanced in the empty hall, putting his muddy pair of boots outside, not to incur the fury of Finly. He almost started calling to see if anybody was home, but thought better of it. Speaking of the devil, Finly was already up and busy at the small kitchen stove, and had done some outstanding croissants. In truth, despite all her flaws, he liked her; she was a capable lady, although never big on sweet talks. No wonder she and Mater did get along well.
                      Bert started to walk along the hall towards the hangar, where he knew old cases where stored, one with a particular book that he needed. It was hard to guess what would happen next. He found the book, that was hidden on the side of the case, and scratched his head while smiling a big wide grin.
                      He was feeling alive with the kind of energy that could be a poor advisor were his mind not sharp as a gator’s tooth.

                      The book had a lot of gibberish in it, like it was written in a sort of automatic writing. For some reason, after the termite honey episode, Idle had started to collect odd books, and she was starting to see spy games hidden in the strangest patterns.
                      Despite being a lazy pothead, the girl was smart, though. Some of her books were codes.

                      Bert’s had his fair run with those during his early years in the military. So he’d hidden the most dangerous ones that Idle had unwittingly found, so that she and the rest of the family wouldn’t run into trouble.
                      Most of the time, she’d simply forget about having bought or bargained for them, but in some cases, there was a silly obsession with her that rendered her crazy about some of those books. Usually the girls, especially the twins, would get the blame for what was thought a child’s prank. Luckily her anger wouldn’t last long.

                      This book though was a bit different. Bert had never found the coding pattern, nor the logic about it. And some bits of it looked like it talked about the Inn. “Encoded pattern from the future”, “remote viewing from the past”, Idle’s suggestions would have run wild with imaginative solutions. Maybe she was onto something…

                      He looked a two bits, struck by some of the parts:

                      The inn had been open for a long time before any of the tenants had come, and it had been full of people once it had been full all day long.
                      She had gone back after a while and opened up the little room for the evening and people could be seen milling about.
                      The rest of the tenants had remained out on their respective streets and were quiet and peaceful.
                      ‘So it’s the end of a cold year.’
                      The woman with golden hair and green eyes seemed to have no intention of staying in the inn as well; she was already preparing for the next year.
                      When the cold dawn had started to rise the door to the inn had been open all night long. The young man with red hair sitting on a nearby bench had watched a few times before opening his eyes to see the man that had followed him home.

                      There was a young red hair boy that had arrived. He was curious as to the man following.

                      The other random bit talked about something else. Like a stuff of nightmares. And his name was on it.

                      The small girl stood beside him, still covered with her night clothes. She felt naked by the side of the road. There was nothing else to do.
                      In the distance, Bert could faintly hear the howling of the woods, as two large, black dogs pounced, their jaws ready to tear her to pieces. The young girl stared in wonder and fear before the dog, before biting it, then she was gone. She ran off through the bushes. “Ah…” she whispered to herself. “Why am I not alive?” She thought to herself: this is all I need.
                      If I am here, they’ll kill or hurt my kids. They won’t miss me for nothing.
                      She ran the last few kilometers to her little cottage; not long after, Bert heard the sound of the forest. He was glad it was.

                      Maybe the witch was not here for nothing after all.

                      #4722
                      prUneprUne
                      Participant

                        It all started to feel insanely crowded and agitated in the Inn, it took me a while to check whether I was tripping on some illegal substance.

                        Truth was, the funny chicken was doing alright until Finly and Idle came back in a hurry, tried to make me puke and feed me charcoals, as if I’d been poisoned or something.
                        I overheard Aunt Dodo when she shouted at poor Finly “why would you put my stash with the lizard leftovers! It’s me-di-cine you old cow, not some bloody herb seasoning!”
                        Finly looked indignant, but she knew better than to argue. Besides, I’m sure her face was speaking volumes, something in the tune of “with the bloody mess of your stuff all over the place, why do you think?” Sure, there was some other profanities hidden in the wrinkles of her sweet face, but she would leave that to Mater to spell them out.

                        Anyways, I just maybe feeling juuust a little funny, but with years of bush food regimen behind me, my liver is surely strong as an ox and pumping all the stuff out of my system like a workhorse.

                        So, yeah, I was maybe tripping a little. So many new people came in at the same time, it felt like a flashmob. They were probably real and not just hallucinations, since Dido dashed out to greet some of them.

                        I went upstairs and spied on them from there. I’m making also a list, mostly for Aunt Dodo, because if her heart is in the right place, her brain probably isn’t (or it’s a tight one).

                        So there, I wrote on a yellow sticky note:

                        Dido, if you're paying attention, here are the guests at this moment:
                        - Not counting PRUNE, and DEVAN who just texted me he's coming!!
                        - A jeep-full of loonies: A GIRL with red and white track pants and a
                        hijjab, a black CAT and a GECKO (wait, you can forget about the gecko),
                        a weirdo GUY in a fancy ruffle shirt and a little redhair BOY.
                        TIKU is here too, helping FINLY in the kitchen.
                        - Your old friend HILDA, and her colleague CONNIE
                        - Two townfolks Canadian tourists who argue like an old couple, but I don't
                        think they are, MAYV(?) and SANPELL(?) (sorry, couldn't catch their names
                        with their funny accent)

                        I guess breakfast is going to be lively tomorrow…

                        #4707
                        EricEric
                        Keymaster

                          An unexpected shaman tart witch was looking and had spotted them coming from afar.

                          Head Shaman Tart Witch, if you please.” She muttered in her breath, happy to break the fourth wall and all.

                          The sun was already high and the air was sizzling ready to burst out like buttered pop corn.

                          “A rather lame metaphor. You’ve done better.”

                          The Head Shtart Witch, as we will call her later for brevity’s sake, was as tart as a sour lemon dipped in vinegar, and prone to talking to spirits, when not cackling in tittering fits of laughter, as shamans are wont to do.
                          She was surprisingly in tune with the narrator’s voice this late in the day, considering it wasn’t her first bottle of… medicine she ingested today.

                          “Voices are rather quiet, yes. I was expecting a bit more… quantity if you know what I mean.”

                          The narrator had absolutely no idea of what she meant, not discontent with the quantity per se.

                          Three in quantity, they came, looking for her. A girl, visibly in charge, although a bit hard to tell either, buried into the baggy hood and all.

                          “The star-studded stockings under the striped red and white trousers were a bit of a give-away though… she was a she, and a bossy pants to boot.” the Head Schwtich replied.

                          “And don’t take advantage to maim my full name… Jeeze, they’re so lazy these days. Can’t even spell right.”

                          Ignoring the rude comments, the narrator continued.
                          Then, a man, a bit namby-pamby with the gait of a devil-may-care goat at that.
                          And a boy, on the threshold of manhood, with lots of red hair and freckles he could have put the bush on fire.

                          “You have forgotten the gecko… and the cat.”

                          The cat wasn’t forgotten of course, but was it technically a cat, with the talking and all? Poor thing had ill-fitted boots (probably a clearance sale from the Jiborium’s), so that it wouldn’t burn its pads on the red hot trail. It seemed stubborn enough to refuse being carried, although not confident enough about the surrounding life in the bush to stop checking every minute for all that crawled and crept around.

                          “That’s why they’re here. The protective charms. That, and the jeep of course.”

                          The Twitch seemed to know everything so the narrator felt it would probably best to let her finish the comment.

                          “Oh, don’t you start. That passive aggressive attitude isn’t going to get your story done, is it. And it’s not like I’m going to follow them in their dangerous and futile quest. It’s your job, better get to it.”

                          Indeed, she was only just a sour, old, decrepit…
                          “You stop that!”

                          :fleuron:

                          “Is that her hut?” Albie pointed at the horizon.
                          “Yes, I think we’re there.” Arona looked at the compass she’d put around Albie’s neck. “Yes, that’s it.”

                          Sanso yawned and stretched lazily “I hope they have a hot shower now, I feel so dirty.”

                          Arona chose to ignore Sanso and let him gesticulate. They’d only walked for less than 15 minutes, and the perspective of few more hours of driving with him breathing down her neck started to give her murderous thoughts.

                          She turned to the team. “Listen, whatever happens, don’t make rude remarks, even if she seems a bit… unhinged.”

                          “Are you talking about the crazy lady with the chameleon on her head, who talks to herself and looks like she hadn’t got a bath in a century?”

                          “That’s what I meant Sanso.” Arona rolled her eyes in a secret signature move she owned the secret of. “Listen, it would be better for everyone if you’d stay here and stop talking until we get the keys to the jeep, alright.”

                          Luckily for all of them, a little sage smudging and a bakchich in kind sealed the deal with the HEAD Shaman Tart Witch, and less than an hour later, with the mountain at their back, they were all barreling at breakneck speed down the lone road towards the Old Mine Town.

                          That’s where the Inn was, now starting to crawl with unexpected guests and long lost family members.

                          #4704
                          FloveFlove
                          Participant

                            Mater:

                            The vegetable garden has provided a dismal crop this year. And what the heat hasn’t shrivelled, the insects have put paid to. Most weeks, I’ve had to send Bert to Willamonga to buy us veges from the Saturday markets. Or I will send him in to town to buy some of the bush food the Aboriginals sell from the store. “Yeah, yeah, Mater,” he says. “Don’t worry about food. There’s plenty.”

                            Of course I worry about food! We’ve all got to eat, don’t we? And look at my poor excuse of a garden; that won’t be feeding us!

                            There’s been some rain, not much, not enough to do more than dampen the surface of the ground. It’s down deep the soil needs water. There are secrets down deep.

                            Bert,” I say. “You remembered there’s folk coming to stay? We’ll need extra food for them. Better go to the market on Saturday, eh?”

                            “It’s okay, Mater,” he says. “Don’t you worry about food. Dodo has it under control.”


                            Dodo!” I shake my head. Dodo has it under control! That can’t be right.

                            “You make sure there’s enough food for them all, Bert. We’ve not had this many booked for a long while. And Dodo can’t organise herself to get up in the morning, let alone look after others. Is she still drinking?”

                            “Don’t fuss, Mater,” he says with a smile. “All under control.” And he speaks so loud, like I’m hard of hearing or something.

                            People are always telling me not to worry, nowadays. Telling me to sit down and rest. Do I want a nice cup of tea? they ask. Telling me I’ve earned it. Treating me like I’m halfway in the grave already.

                            Except for that Finly. She turned out to be a godsend when I hired her all those years ago. Smart as a tack, that one. Not much she doesn’t see. Makes me laugh with her little sideways remarks. Works like a horse and honest as the day is long.

                            And my god, the days feel long.

                            Anyway, I won’t be going to the grave any time soon. There’s things need doing first. Wrongs which need putting right. Things the children need to know.

                            The grounds so dry. The worms have all gone down deep to find water. Better remember to put out food and water for the birds. And does Bert know to buy food? There are secrets down deep. The earth’s held them close long enough.

                            #4696
                            EricEric
                            Keymaster

                              Ricardo!” Miss Bossy shouted from her office she was rearranging into an office cum interrogation room.

                              “Yes, M’am!”

                              “Any news from our two insubordinate scouts?”
                              “I’m afraid not M’am. Phone coverage isn’t that good in the bush I hear.”
                              “Stop that nonsense! What tells you they’re aren’t just squandering my newspaper’s money over unearned mojitos doing precious nothing like gator’s watching on a beach, hmmm?”
                              “I think they’d call that gathering clues M’am.”

                              If Ricardo hadn’t be so earnest, she would have slapped him in the face for his attempt at humour, but he was blissfully unaware of the unwanted irony and impertinence of his retort.

                              You’re going soft… she mused to herself, while snapping electrical wires together making a splash of sparkles in the air. The makeshift interrogation room was ready.

                              Ric’! Bring Sweet Sophie!”

                              #4627
                              EricEric
                              Keymaster

                                Jerk looked puzzled at the screen.
                                As his side job, he was managing the maintenance of a popular website findmystuff.com where people where posting lost&found items, which had turned into a joyful playground at times for groups of pranksters as well as good samaritans leaving stuff for people to find. Monitoring and curating the content was mostly done by an AI these days, but now and then the flagging seemed to require a human analysis, to check if it was a false positive or not.
                                Right off, there were some odd blinks on his screen, but if that hadn’t caught his attention, the details of this case certainly would have.
                                It was a particular group, not specially overactive, the quiet under the radar group catering to less than a few hundred people at the time, but picking up strongly over the past few days. The group was called “findmydolls” and there was a comment which had been flagged as “fake news”.
                                He had to decide to “moderate” (read “delete”) the comment or not, but he couldn’t decide about it.

                                Have found one of your dolls, Ms M. Brilliant hiding! During the last Aya trip, I was teleported to some place that looked like Australia’s dream time, and there was your doll. I’m sure it’s there in Australia, a remote place in the middle of the bush, there’s an inn with a flashy fish neon sign over it. Your doll was there, and there was a message. PM for details.

                                He shrugged. The rules of the board didn’t explicitly forbid “remove viewing” as a source of clues, nor an astral view was any less flimsy than a vague visual report from the streets.

                                He clicked on “approved”.

                                #4575
                                AvatarJib
                                Participant

                                  The garden was a mess. Roberto was emerging slowly out of the blissful haze of his stone elixirs where nothing really mattered into the harsh reality of the aftermath of the all out characters party.

                                  He found cocktail glasses, plastic cups and even toilet paper scattered under and on the bushes, hidden behind the marble statues that had been dressed with scarves, blond and red wigs and false moustaches.

                                  He looked clueless at a dirty muddy bubbly pond. He wondered what it could have been for a moment. Images of half naked guests throwing buckets of champagne at each others, of firemen extinguishing the barbecue appeared in front of his eyes, but it wasn’t quite right. Then he recalled the ice sculpture fountain he was so proud of. It was completely melted, like his motivation to clean everything.
                                  A noise alerted him that the cleaning team was also emerging from their slumber. They arrived before the guests left and it soon had become a foam party, hence the bubbly pond.

                                  Well, he thought, at least we had fun.

                                  #4541
                                  AvatarJib
                                  Participant

                                    The full moon was high and a cluster of fireflies were flying stubbornly around a lone corkscrew bush. The baby rainbow creatures were playing like young squirrels, running and jumping around on Gorrash’s arms and head.
                                    The dwarf was still, as if he hadn’t awoken from his curse despite the darkness of the night. He was looking at the bush illuminated by the fireflies and his the dim glows of the rainbow babies were giving his face a thoughtful look.
                                    My life is certainly as complicated as the shrub’s twisted branches, he thought, his heart uneasy.

                                    The others all had been busy doing their own things during the day, like Glynis with her invisibility potion, or Eleri with her Operation Courtesan. Rukshan went away with a goal too, finding the source of the blue light the children had seen in their dreams and he left for the mountains with Olliver and Fox.
                                    Margoritt was an old lady and with all the fuss about the upcoming eviction and destruction of her nice little cottage farm she had been tired and went to sleep early. Gorrash understood very well all of that.
                                    A ball of sadness and frustration gathered in his throat. The rainbow babies stopped and looked at him with drooping eyes.

                                    “Mruiii?” they said as if asking him what it all was about.
                                    “Don’t do that, you’re gonna make me cry,” he said. The raspiness of his voice surprised him and distracted him from the sadness.
                                    “Mruii,” said the little creatures gathering closer to him as if to sooth him. He shed a few tears. He felt so lonely and frustrated because he couldn’t be with his friends during the day. And the summer nights were so short.

                                    Gorrash didn’t like the sadness. It made the nights seem longer, and the joyous explorations of Glynis’s garden seemed so far away.

                                    I have to find a project for myself, he thought. Maybe find a cure to my own curse like Glynis.
                                    Gorrash felt a tinge of bitterness in his mouth. Why? he wondered. Why didn’t my maker come lift my curse like that man came to deliver Glynis from hers?
                                    He regretted this thought, if anything it only made him feel more miserable and lonely.

                                    An owl hooted and there was some noise coming from the house. Light was lit in the kitchen, and soon after the door opened. It was Glynis. She carried a small crate written Granola Cookies, but it was full of potions and other utensils. Her eyes looked tired but her face was shining. Since she used that potion to cure herself, she had had that inner glow, and despite himself Gorrash felt it started to warm his heart with hope.

                                    “I will need some help,” said Glynis.
                                    The rainbow babies ran around and changed colours rapidly.
                                    “Sure, I can do that,” answered Gorrash. And as he said that he realised he had felt the need to talk to someone so badly.
                                    They sat near the corkscrew shrub and Glynis began to get her stuff out of the crate. She drew the shape of a circle with a white chalk that shone under the moonlight and gave Gorrash eight candlesticks to place around the circle. Gorrash placed them a bit too conscientiously around, and he felt the need to talk become stronger, making him restless.
                                    “Can I tell you something?” he asked, unsure if she would want to listen to his doubts.
                                    “Of course. I need to reinforce the charm before the others arrival. It will take some time before I actually do the spell. We can talk during that time.”

                                    Encouraged by her kindness, he told her everything that had been troubling his heart.

                                    #4409
                                    AvatarJib
                                    Participant

                                      “Pssst.”

                                      Finnley turned to her right, swift as a ninja. She was relieved to see Roberto, full of twigs and hay in his dark bushy hair. He had panda eyes.

                                      “What happened to you?” she asked in a hush before realising she only reacted to the way he prompted her. “Is that the new…”

                                      “No,” he said, “I just woke up from that strange cave with the moving roots and birth place of new characters,” he said rolling his ‘R’s like only he could. “It took me that long to come back into this thread. I just wanted to tell you the back door is open. I need to take a shower and clean the pool. Half of it is in summer, but the other seems to be stuck in winter.”

                                      #4399
                                      FloveFlove
                                      Participant

                                        FLACY TROVE COMMENT

                                        “What on earth do you mean, Bert?” asked Mater. She sounded a tad irritated and stared at Bert intently for a few moments. “Are you losing your mind perhaps?” she said in a more conciliatory tone.

                                        Bert glared at her. “YOU know, Mater. If anyone knows it is MY inn, it is you.”

                                        “I have no idea what you are talking about!” said Mater backing away from Bert nervously. “And you will have to excuse me but my bladder calls!” And Mater sprinted inside at great speed. Faster than the speed of light, said Devan later when he recounted the story to Prune.

                                        “The inn is mine and you can’t sell it!” shouted Bert after Mater’s retreating back. He grabbed the FOR SALE sign and threw it violently into the bushes.

                                        #4338
                                        TracyTracy
                                        Participant

                                          Glad of the cover of the gloaming darkness, Eleri quickly cut a slice of cake and darted out of the kitchen door. She had heard the commotion that animated statue was still making, calling her a witch as if it were a bad thing, and thought it best to retreat for the time being while she gathered her thoughts. Either that vengeful lump of concrete needed therapy to deal with his past associations, or perhaps better ~ at least in the short term ~ an immobilizing potion until a workable programme of rehabilitation to the state of animation was concocted.

                                          The screech of a parrot in the distance seemed to herald a new arrival in the near future, although Eleri wasn’t sure who else was expected. The raucous sound attracted her and she walked in the direction of it, deftly darting behind trees and bushes so as not to be seen by the rest of the party as she slipped out of the clearing around the shack and into the woods.

                                          “Circles of Eight,” squawked the parrot, sounding closer. Eleri took another bite of cake, wondering why the cake in her hand wasn’t getting any smaller, despite that she had been munching on it steadily for some time. It actually looked as if it was growing in dimensions, but she dismissed the idea as improbable. “Circles of Eight!” screeched the parrot, louder this time. Preferring to err on the side of caution ~ not that she normally did, but in this instance ~ Eleri slipped inside a large hollow in a girthy old tree trunk. She would observe the approach of the new arrival from her hiding place.

                                          Squatting down in the dry leaves, she leaned back against the rough wood and took another bite of cake, awaiting the next parrot call.

                                          I wonder what’s in this cake? she thought, Because I am starting to feel a bit strange…

                                          #4306
                                          AvatarJib
                                          Participant

                                            The drizzle wasn’t meant to last. At least that’s what the smell in the air was telling Fox. With the night it was getting colder and the drizzle would soon turn into small ice crystals, and maybe worse.
                                            “We should get going,” Fox said, enjoying the last pieces of rabbit stew. The dwarf had been busy looking around in the leafless bushes and behind the tree trunks. He had been silent the whole time and Fox was beginning to worry.
                                            “What have you been doing anyway?” he asked. “Are you hunting? You can still have a piece of that stew before I swallow it.” He handed his bowl toward the dwarf, who grumpfed without looking at Fox.
                                            “I don’t eat. I’m a stone dwarf. I think I get recharged by daylight.”
                                            Gorash kept on looking around very intently.
                                            “We should get going,” repeated Fox. The weather is going to be worse.
                                            “Grmpf. I don’t care. I’m made to stay outside. I’m a stone statue.”
                                            “Well even stone gets cracked with the help of ice when temperature drops below zero. How am I supposed to carry you if you fall into pieces,” said Fox. He thought his idea rather cunning, but he had no idea if Gorash would be affected by the bad weather or not, since he was not really like stone during the night.

                                            “And what are you looking for? It’s winter, there’s not much of anything behind those naked bushes.”
                                            “It’s Easter. You had your rabbit. I want my eggs,” said the dwarf.
                                            “Oh.” Fox was speechless for a few moments. He too had been thinking of the colourful eggs of the dwarf’s friend they had left in the witch’s garden. He wondered what had happened to it? Gorash had been gloomier and gloomier since they had left the garden and Fox didn’t understand why. He had thought his friend happy to go on a quest and see the outside world. But something was missing, and now Fox realised what it was.

                                            He didn’t really know what to say to comfort the dwarf, so he said nothing. Instead he thought about the strange seasonal pattern shifts. If it was Easter then it should be spring time, but the temperatures were still a havoc. And the trees had no leaves in that part of the forest. Fox remembered the clock tower of the city had had some problems functioning recently, maybe it was all connected. The problems with the bad smell around the city, the nonsensical seasonal changes and that gloomy quest… maybe it was all connected.

                                            Fox gulped the last pieces of rabbit stew without enjoying it. He licked the inside of the bowl and put it in his backpack without further cleaning. He had suddenly realised that it was not much use to ask Gorash’s permission to leave as Fox was doing all the walk during the day anyway. So he could as well do it at night. He didn’t have as much difficulties to put out the fire as he had lighting it up. He cleaned the place as much as he could and then looked around him. The night was dark, the drizzle had turned into small snow flakes. Fox smelled the air. It would soon turn into bigger flakes. The dwarf could stay outside if he wanted, but Fox needed to move. Let him follow if he wants to.

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