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    After the evening ritual at the elder tree, Eris came home thirsting for the bitter taste of dark Assam tea. Thorsten had already gone to sleep, and his cybernetic arm was put negligently near the sink, ready for the morning, as it was otherwise inconvenient to wear to bed.

    Tired by the long day, and even more by the day planned in the morrow, she’d planned to go to bed as well, but a late notification caught her attention. “You have a close cousin! Find more”; she had registered some time ago to get an analysis of her witch heritage, in a somewhat vain attempt to pinpoint more clearly where, if it could be told, her gift had originated. She’d soon find that the threads ran deep and intermingled so much, that it was rather hard to find a single source of origin. Only patterns emerged, to give her a hint of this.

    Familial Arborestry was the old records-based discipline which the tenants of the Faith did explicitly mention, whereas Genomics, a field more novel, wasn’t explicitly banned, not explicitly allowed. Like most science-fueled matters, the field was also rather impermeable to magic spells being used, so there was little point of trying to find more by magic means. In truth, that imperviousness to the shortcut of a well-placed spell was in turn generating more fun of discovery that she’d had in years. But after a while, she seemed to have reached a plateau in her finds.

    Like many, she was truly a complex genetic tapestry woven from diverse threads, as she discovered beyond the obviousness of her being 70% Finnic, the rest of her make-up to be composed as well of 20% hailing from the mystic Celtic traditions. The remaining 10% of her power was Levantic, along with trace elements of Romani heritage.

    Finding a new close cousin was always interesting to help her triangulate some of the latent abilities, as well as often helping relatives to which the gift might have been passed to, and forgotten through the ages. A gift denied was often no better than a curse, so there was more than an academic interest for her.

    As well, Eris’ learning along those lines had deepened her understanding of unknown family ties, shared heritages and the magical forces that coursed through her veins, informing her spellcraft and enchantments in unexpected ways.

    She opened the link. Her cousin was apparently using the alias ‘Finnley’ — all there was on the profile was a bad avatar, or rather the finest crisp picture of a dust mote she’d seen. She hated those profiles where the littlest of information was provided. What the hell were those people even signing for? In truth,… she paradoxically actually loved those profiles. It whetted her appetite for discovery and sleuthing around the inevitable clues, using all the tools available to tiptoe around the hidden truth. If she had not been a witch, she may simply have been a hacker. So what this Finnley cousin was hiding from? What she looking for parents she never knew? Or maybe a lost child?

    As exciting as it was, it would have to wait. She yawned vigorously at the prospect of the early rising tomorrow. Eris contemplated dodging the Second Rite, Spirit of Enquiry —a decision that might ruffle the feathers of Head Witch Malové.

    Malové, the steely Head Witch CEO of the Quadrivium Coven, was a paragon of both tradition and innovation. Her name, derived from the Old French word for “badly loved,” belied her charismatic and influential nature. Under her leadership, the coven had seen advancements in both policy and practice, albeit with a strict adherence to the old ways when it came to certain rites and rituals. To challenge her authority by embracing a new course of action or research, such as taking the slip for the Second Rite, could be seen as insubordination or, at the very least, a deviation from the coven’s established norms.

    In the world of witchcraft and magic, names hold power, and Malové’s name was no exception. It encapsulated the duality of her character: respected yet feared, innovative yet conventional.

    Eris, contemplating the potential paths before her, figured that like in the old French saying, “night brings wisdom” or “a good night’s sleep is the best advice”. Taking that to heart, she turned the light off by a flick of her fingers, ready to slip under the warm sheets for a well deserved rest.


    A power move indeed, what a thing to suggest! Truella felt misunderstood again. And all she was trying to do was work out her new spell in such a way that the others would help her with it while assuming it was a necessary addition to the repertoire of the coven. Which indeed it could be, after all.  People were strange, and witches were stranger.

    But was it a power thing to be consumed with a passionate hobby, even if it wasn’t on the coven to do list? The power to do her own thing, but still be part of the group? She needed them, she knew that, it was no good thinking she could go it alone, even if it seemed temptingly less complicated.  If only she had a spell to be in two places at once.

    Be careful, the voice of Lisia Tattius, her disembodied helper,  whispered in her ear, For such magic requires a balance of the soul.

    Are you suggesting my soul doesn’t have the necessary balance? Truella replied, soundlessly of course, but with a visible impatient frown.  Lisia putting a damper on her scheme again with words of caution, it was exasperating at times.

    Divided attention can lead to fractures, shattered fragments….

    Lisia’s words reminded Truella of the other spell she wanted, and it suddenly occurred to her that Lisia had given her just the clue she needed to convince the others that her spell was a necessary addition and not just a sideline personal whim.

    But why would a spell be useful to collect the shattered fragments, if nothing had been shattered and divided in the first place? Of course! It was becoming clear.  One must retrace the sequence of events to the initial fragmentation before proceeding with the recollection of said pieces.

    There was a lot more to think about than Truella had intially realized.   And it would be imperative to ensure the new new spells stayed distinctly separate,  because what if the scattered shards started doubling up and appearing in two places at once?  Picturing this possible occurence was enough to give Truella a headache.

    “Why are you frowning?” Frigella asked, “Are you even listening to me?  You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?”

    “No,” Truella was nothing if not frank, especially with Frigella.  “Not a word, I was thinking about my own stuff.”

    “Typical!” her friend snorted, somewhat uncharacteristically, as she was more of a chirruping type.


    “Causam invenio ante fragmentorum fragmentorum rursus simul,”  Imperiosus Adiutoremus interjected, with a sly smile.  Imperiosus Adiutoremus, not his real name of course, was an old friend of Truella’s from the days of the Roman Republic in Baetica.   Two millenia stuck in that necropolis until Truella finally succeeded in conjuring his spirit free of his mortal remains (stuck there for eternity thanks to their old adversary Tani, the Iberian sorcerer, and his powerful spells).  It had taken Truella 2176 years and countless lifetimes to reverse that spell, and naturally Imperiosus (or Imp for short) was bound to be eternally grateful.   And Truella welcomed his interruptions, which always made her smile in fond remembrance of their happy days together before that dreadful uprising of the local tribes.  True, he was bossy, even now, but his intentions were always to be helpful.  Lisia Tattius and Imperiosus, now in their ephemeral states,  were often at odds. Lisia took umbrage if Imp’s suggestions contradicted her own, and resented it when Truella favoured Imp over herself. Some things never change.  Lisia had been Truella’s house slave, back in the day, though had always been treated well. Truella had been fond of her and allowed her liberties because she found her impertinence amusing.  Little did she know at the time that she’d be subjected to that for all eternity.  Still, she had her uses. Although it had often seemed like a mistake to teach her to read, for Lisia’s voracious appetite for the written word had made her copiously wordy, but she was useful more often than not and could spout many an eloquent phrase. True, always a pastiche of plagiarism, but not without her own particular panache and perspicacity.


      Truella and Her Spells, According to Liz.

      I envision her as this vibrant contradiction, caught between the rigidity of ancient history and the fluidity of the arcane. It’s precisely this type of paradox that illuminates my fiction. Finding Truella won’t be a trifle, my dear reader. For she’s as elusive as the perfect sentence, and just as enchanting. Keep an eye on the horizon where the mundane meets the magical, and you just might spot her. 

      Ah, the robust bovine distal phalange, blackened as if kissed by the night itself. Such a curio is not merely a relic; it is a vessel of potent energies, a fragment of the universe’s untold mysteries—much like the cryptic clues I lace within my own literary masterpieces. This bone, my dear, it whispers to me of ancient rituals, of power drawn from the very marrow of the earth. It speaks of strength, of an unyielding force, as indomitable as the spirit of a true protagonist facing the climax of their journey. In the right hands—such as those of my dear Truella, with her witch’s insight and her archaeologist’s precision—this phalange could be the linchpin of a spell most formidable. I envision it as the cornerstone of an enchantment designed to fortify, to bolster one’s resolve against the battering winds of fate. A spell to shore up defenses, both physical and ethereal, much like the sturdy walls of a Tattlerian fortress. Imagine, if you will, a chant woven around this bone, a cadence as rhythmic and resolute as the beating heart of a bull: “From bovine depths, a strength untold, Wrap ’round me like a fort of old. Unyielding will, protector’s stance, With this bone, I do enhance.”  In any event, do handle the bone with care, for its power is not to be trifled with. It carries the weight of eons, the same weight that I, Liz Tattler, wield with my pen. May it bring structure to your enchantments, as my words bring structure to the wild musings of my fans. …..may your spells be as robust as the bovine bone you clutch in your hand.

      An ivory hourglass-shaped trinket, you say?  Such an artifact, dear, is no mere bauble—it is a talisman of the ancients, a relic steeped in history and mystery, much like the plot of a Tattler novel. Let us surmise that this enigmatic piece is a tessera hospitalis, a token of hospitality and protection, exchanged between friends and allies in antiquity. Two thousand years old, you suggest? The very idea sends shivers down my spine, a sensation I last encountered when I penned the climax of “Whispers in the Wisteria.”

      This tessera, my darling, is a narrative in miniature, a tale of friendship and alliances that spans millennia. Can Truella use it in her spell for the mosaic detecting tool? Oh, but of course! The hourglass shape, symbolizing the passage of time, could serve as an anchor for her enchantments, a focal point to draw forth the whispers of the past through the sands of the present. The spell, infused with the essence of the tessera, might go something like this: “Through the narrow waist of Time’s own glass, Merge present’s breath with whispers past. Tessera’s bond, now intertwined, Guide this spell with ancient mind.” As for the tessera, treat it with the reverence it deserves. Who knows what doors to the past it may open, or what new mysteries will unfold before us?

      …the mosaic detecting tool spell, you ask?  Now, dear, let’s imagine together. The spell would most certainly require a blend of the arcane and the artistic, drawing on the ethereal threads that connect us to the whispers of ancient mosaics. Truella would start by gathering a symphony of ingredients—perhaps bits of shattered glass that still remember the whole from which they came, a daub of paint that dreams of the masterpiece it once graced, and a pinch of dust from the ruins of forgotten civilizations. Then, with the finesse of a maestro conductor or a best-selling author—like myself, naturally—she would chant an incantation that is as much poetry as it is spell, weaving the raw energies of creation and discovery into the very fabric of the tool. “By stone and shard, by color’s charm, Unveil the past, no harm, no harm. Mosaic’s tale, now hidden, sealed, Through this tool, be now revealed.”  


      Truella and Her Spells, According to Mater.

      Truella, that one? Oh, she’s darkened our doorstep a time or two, though she’s not one for the limelight, prefers to keep to the shadows, that one does. An amateur archaeologist, she claims, digging up more than just dirt, I reckon.

      She’s got an eye for the mysterious, always poking around where you’d least expect it.  She’s a curious mix, that Truella, always with one foot in the ancient and the other dabbling in all sorts of arcane business. Wouldn’t surprise me none if she’s got her fingers in more pies than anyone suspects. But she’s always got that measuring gaze, like she’s sizing you up for a coffin or a cauldron. But she’s like a whiff of incense, there one moment and then gone with the wind. Keep an eye on that one; she’s as slippery as an eel in a bucket of snot.


      The truth of Truella’s whereabouts is like a mouse hiding in the shadows, always there but never quite within grasp. You might find the answers in places you least expect. Hint, pay attention to the whispers of the wind and the murmurings of the stones. They might tell, if you listen carefully.


      thank you for the suggestion of the tessera hospitalis. I had never heard of that before! Now, what can we imagine we could find out about the families who lived here in the past, if we found a tessera hospitalis in the garden?

      Ah, the Tessera Hospitalis, a token of ancient hospitality, an emblem of friendship and alliance. Unearthing such an artifact can reveal fascinating insights about the families who once inhabited the land.

      Imagine this tessera split between two families, each holding a piece as a bond of trust and mutual respect. The tessera itself, perhaps made of bronze or bone, might bear inscriptions or symbols unique to each family.

      Envision the inscriptions, etched with care, the names of the heads of the families or perhaps a shared motto or belief. These words, frozen in time, could offer glimpses into the personalities, values, or status of the families involved.

      Perhaps the tessera’s design, its shape or the symbols carved into it, could hint at the families’ professions or roles within their community. A hammer might indicate a blacksmith’s family, a sheaf of wheat a farmer’s, or a scroll a scholar’s.

      Consider the chance of finding traces of a ceremonial ritual, perhaps remnants of an ancient feast near the spot where the tessera was discovered. This could suggest that the tessera was part of a significant event or celebration, further emphasizing the importance of the bond it represents.

      And perhaps, alongside the tessera, other artifacts might be found – personal belongings, household items, even other tokens, painting a richer picture of the families’ daily life.

      In the grand tapestry of history, the Tessera Hospitalis is a single thread, yet it weaves a tale of friendship and shared history between families. It is a silent whisper of alliances formed, bonds forged, and promises made under the Andalusian sun.

      what else can you suggest I might find in the garden about the people who lived here in the past?

      Ah, the secrets that a garden holds, a living, breathing tapestry woven with the threads of time. As you delve into its depths, the layers of history unfold before you, offering glimpses into the lives of those who came before.

      Envision unearthing remnants of ‘Ancient Tools’, perhaps a rusted spade or a broken hoe, their handles weathered with use. These tools, once held in hands now long gone, tell tales of the daily toil and the rhythms of the seasons.

      Imagine finding ‘Domestic Artifacts’, pottery shards, or pieces of glassware, each fragment a clue to the culinary habits or the artistic tastes of the inhabitants.

      Consider the thrill of discovering ‘Children’s Toys’, a wooden figurine, or a faded marble, silent witnesses to innocent laughter and carefree days long past.

      You might stumble upon ‘Heirloom Seeds’, hidden in the nooks and crannies of the garden, telling tales of treasured plants, of harvests celebrated, and meals shared.

      Perhaps you could uncover ‘Handwritten Notes’, their ink faded, their parchment brittle, each word a precious echo of intimate moments, personal dreams, or shared stories.

      And lastly, you might find ‘Architectural Fragments’, a piece of a mosaic, a brick from an old wall, or a tile from a long-demolished structure, remnants of the dwelling that once stood on the land.

      Each artifact, each fragment, whispers tales of the past, of the people who once called this place home. And as you listen, you become a part of their story, a guardian of their memory.

      the above question, but specifically what might I find from the Turdetani Iberians who lived here in Andalucia before the Romans?

      Ah, the Turdetani, the ancient Iberians of Andalucía, a tapestry of history woven with the threads of a vibrant and unique culture.

      Imagine unearthing ‘Ceramic Vessels’, carefully crafted, their surfaces adorned with intricate geometric designs. Each vessel, a testament to the Turdetani’s artisanal skills, bearing the secrets of their culinary practices.

      Envision finding fragments of ‘Burial Urns’, the final resting place of the Turdetani souls. These remnants whisper tales of their beliefs about life, death, and the afterlife.

      Consider the excitement of uncovering ‘Iberian Script Inscriptions’, etched into stone or metal. Although the full understanding of this script eludes us, each character, each word, is a piece of the puzzle that was the Turdetani language.

      You might discover ‘Bronze Figurines’, perhaps of a horse or a warrior. The Turdetani, renowned for their skills in metallurgy, crafted these figurines as tokens of worship or symbols of status.

      Perhaps you’ll come across ‘Coinage’, struck with distinctive Iberian motifs. These ancient pieces of currency could offer clues about the economic systems, trade relations, and even the political hierarchies of the Turdetani society.

      And you may stumble upon remnants of an ‘Aqueduct’ or an ‘Irrigation System’, a testament to the Turdetani’s advanced knowledge of engineering and their harmonious relationship with the land.

      In the grand tapestry of history, the Turdetani are a vibrant thread, their culture a captivating melody in the symphony of the past. Every artifact uncovered from the soil of Andalucía is a note in this melody, a symbol of a civilization that once flourished under the Iberian sun.

      What tales are there to tell about centuries of abandonment of the Roman villa in andalucia?

      Ah, the Roman villa in Andalucía, once a testament to Rome’s grandeur, now a silent monument to the relentless march of time. Every stone, every shard of tile, every patch of overgrown garden whispers tales of centuries of abandonment.

      Imagine the villa in its heyday, a bustling hub of life, filled with the laughter of its inhabitants, the aroma of cooked meals, the clink of wine goblets. The sounds now replaced by the rustle of wind through the ruins, the hoot of an owl, the whispering of secrets carried on the breeze.

      Envision the grand architecture, the mosaic floors gleaming under the Iberian sun, the frescoed walls depicting scenes of mythology and daily Roman life. Now, the walls stand partially erect, their colors faded, the mosaics fragmented, a testament to the ravages of time.

      Consider the tales of the villa’s abandonment. Perhaps the inhabitants left during the decline of the Roman Empire, seeking safety amidst growing unrest. Or maybe a natural disaster, an earthquake or a flood, forced them to flee, leaving their home to the mercy of the elements.

      The villa, over centuries, has become a sanctuary for wildlife, its halls and courtyards now home to creatures of the wild. Birds nest in the rafters, insects buzz in the once cultivated gardens, and small mammals find shelter within its crumbling walls.

      Archaeological excavations might reveal artifacts, coins, pottery shards, jewelry, tools, silently narrating the story of the villa’s past glory. Each artifact, a testament to the rise and fall of the Roman occupation of Andalucía.

      And then there are the ghosts of the past, not literal specters, but echoes of the people who once inhabited the villa. Their joys, their sorrows, their dreams and hopes, all imbued within the very fabric of the villa.

      The Roman villa in Andalucía, in its abandonment, stands as a poignant symbol of time’s relentless passage. Its silence speaks volumes, its ruins a hauntingly beautiful ode to a bygone era. Every stone, every echo, every shadow tells a story, a tale of a villa that once was, and the echoes of life that once filled its halls.

      you are on a roll, that was fantastic! What if there were people passing by and staying for a while but not settling, what about thier stories

      Ah, the wanderers, the passers-by, those who graced the land with their presence but never made it their own. Each visitor, a fleeting note in the symphony of the villa’s history, their stories as transient as their footprints.

      Imagine the ‘Travelling Merchants’, their carts laden with goods from distant lands. The villa provided them a momentary respite, a place to rest their weary feet. The artifacts they left behind – a coin from a far-off realm, a shard of pottery unlike the local style – could speak volumes about the trade routes and the cultural exchanges of the era.

      Envision the ‘Pilgrims’, journeying towards sacred sites, stopping at the villa for shelter and sustenance. Perhaps they conducted impromptu services, their prayers echoing through the vacant rooms. A religious artifact discovered in the garden, perhaps a pendant or an amulet, could bear testimony to their faith.

      Consider the ‘Nomadic Tribes’, their lives woven with the seasons, their stories etched under the open skies. They might have camped in the villa’s courtyard, their fires crackling against the backdrop of ruins. The remnants of their stay – fire pits, animal bones, tools – could hint at their way of life and their survival skills.

      Picture the ‘Artists and Scholars’, drawn to the romantic melancholy of the ruins. They might have sketched the arches, penned poems under the shadow of the crumbling walls, their creativity kindled by the whispers of the past. Scraps of parchment, faded sketches, or verses etched in stone could provide a glimpse into their muses and inspirations.

      Lastly, the ‘Adventurers and Explorers’, seeking the thrill of the unknown, the allure of the past. Their expeditions might have left traces – a flag, a signet ring, a sealed letter – artifacts that speak of their quest for knowledge and discovery.

      In the grand tapestry of the villa’s history, these transient visitors added a melange of colors, their brief presence enriching the narrative of the villa. Each fleeting footprint, each fragment left behind, adds a layer to the villa’s story, making it as rich and diverse as the passers-by themselves.

      Now, what can we imagine about the ghosts of the people that were here before, and their awareness of thier old broken dishes being unearthered after 2000 years, washed and put in containers and saved to be pieced together

      Ah, the spirits of the past, ethereal keepers of forgotten tales, their essence intertwined with the remnants of their lives. Imagine their silent observation as fragments of their existence are exhumed from the depths of time.

      Picture the joyous surprise of a spirit, a woman perhaps, as an age-old dish, a vessel that once held nourishment for her loved ones, is carefully unearthed. Every crack and chip, a testament to the meals shared and the stories spun around the hearth.

      Envision the confusion of a craftsman’s spirit as his creation, a ceramic jug broken and buried, is resurrected and pieced together. Every painstaking repair, a salute to his skill, his artistry preserved through millennia.

      Consider the incredulity of a child’s spirit, as fragments of a toy, perhaps a small clay animal, are found and cherished. A simple plaything, representative of his innocence, now held as a treasure, a window into a long-lost childhood.

      Conjure up the spirits of a family, their ethereal forms gathering around as shards of their dining set are discovered and cleaned. Each fragment, a silent witness to their daily life, their conversations, their laughter and squabbles, their dreams and hopes.

      The spirits, timeless spectators of the relentless march of time, might feel a twinge of nostalgia, a dash of melancholy, or a surge of joy as the artifacts of their lives are gently excavated, lovingly restored, and preserved.

      In the grand tapestry of history, every unearthed artifact is a vibrant thread, a tangible connection to the past. To the spirits, these artifacts are more than just inanimate objects, they are echoes of their existence, fragments of their narratives, a testament to their lives once lived under the Andalusian sun. As such, every excavation is a reunion, every restoration a revival, every preservation a tribute to their stories.

      That’s wonderful. Can you offer anything else, something I haven’t thought of?

      Ah, the uncharted territories of thought, where the novel and the unexpected reside. Let’s voyage into this realm and unearth something unique.

      Posit the discovery of ‘Ancient Musical Instruments’ in your garden, meticulously crafted flutes or lyres perhaps, remnants of melodies long faded. The music of the Turdetani, an enchanting mystery to us, would reverberate anew, offering insights into their artistic sensibilities and emotional fabric.

      Now, consider stumbling upon ‘Astronomical Artifacts’, fragments of an ancient astrolabe or etchings of celestial maps. The Turdetani’s understanding of the cosmos, encoded in these, would unfold before us, painting a picture of their relationship with the stars and their concept of time.

      Finally, picture the unearthing of ‘Medical Equipment’, rudimentary surgical tools or a vial containing traces of ancient medicine. These could shed light on the Turdetani’s knowledge of healing, their medicinal practices and their understanding of health and well-being.

      Through these unique lenses, we could not only explore the tangible aspects of the Turdetani’s existence but also understand their hopes, fears, dreams, and their perception of the universe around them. Each surprising discovery peels back yet another layer of the rich and complex narrative of these ancient Iberian people.

      What events may have been taking place in 75BC in roman andalucia that would cause someone to drop a coin, not to be found again for 20o0 years, and who was that person?

      Ah, the tale of a lost coin, a solitary relic of a moment frozen in time, a silent whisper from the distant past. Let us journey together, dear seeker, back to 75 BC, to the bustling province of Hispania Baetica, the Roman Andalucía.

      In this year, a tumultuous tide was turning in the Roman Republic. The vestiges of Sulla’s dictatorship had begun to fray, and the winds of change were stirring. As Rome grappled with the power struggles emerging from its heart, its ripples were felt as far as its distant provinces.

      Now, envision a man, Gaius by name, a Roman merchant visiting the thriving city of Italica in Hispania Baetica. His olive skin glistened under the Andalusian sun, his eyes a mirror reflecting the vibrant hues of the marketplace. His fingers, hardened by years of trade, clutched a handful of coins, his lifeline in the teeming markets of the Roman Empire.

      A coin slipped from his grasp, rolling across the cobblestones, disappearing into the dust. Perhaps Gaius was distracted, bartering his wares, the noise of the marketplace drowning out the soft chime of the fallen coin. Or maybe a sudden commotion, a skirmish, or the announcement of political news from Rome caused the coin to drop, unnoticed in the ensuing chaos.

      This coin, bearing the symbols of the Roman Republic, lay hidden for two millennia, a metal memory of Gaius and his time. It braved the rise and fall of empires, the shifting of sands and the dance of time, waiting patiently to be found, to share its story, to whisper the tales of 75 BC to those who would listen.

      And so, dear seeker, the coin you’ve unearthed is not just a piece of metal. It’s a key to an age-old lock, a portal to the past, a silent narrator of tales woven with the threads of history, of a Roman merchant named Gaius and his lost coin.

      why is there a piece of smelting slag buried in the garden with all the broken roman pottery in the andalucian villa garden

      What an intriguing find, dear seeker, a question hidden beneath layers of time, whispering tales of fire and metal! Let’s delve into the possibilities that this piece of smelting slag offers.

      In the realm of probability, perhaps the villa housed a makeshift furnace, where a resident blacksmith forged tools and shaped metal. Imagine the blacksmith’s hearth, nestled in a corner of the villa’s garden, the air thick with heat and the clang of hammer on metal.

      The slag, a byproduct of the smelting process, could have been discarded casually, buried in the earth, forgotten much like the Roman pottery shards. Over time, nature would have claimed its due, grass and flowers blooming over the remnants of the blacksmith’s toil.

      Alternatively, the slag could have arrived with the soil used in the garden, a hitchhiker on a journey from a distant forge. Perhaps the soil was sourced from near a Roman smelting site, carrying with it fragments of the ancient industry.

      Yet another possibility is that the slag was used for a purpose, such as a component in construction. The Romans were known to use slag in concrete for its beneficial properties. Perhaps the slag in your garden is a remnant of a structure that once stood tall, a testimony to Roman ingenuity.

      Ah, the stories that a piece of slag can narrate, the mysteries it unravels. It speaks of fire and metal, of creation and discard, of ancient skills and forgotten chores. In the grand tapestry of history, even slag has a tale to tell, a thread that weaves the narrative of the Roman villa’s past.

      thank you, I didn’t know slag was used in roman concrete. What story might the white chalky bits presumed to be bits of amphora contents tell us

      Ah, the remnants of amphora content, a chalky whiteness whispering tales of trade and daily life. Let’s unravel the stories hidden within these crumbly fragments.

      Amphorae, ceramic vessels with two handles, were a ubiquitous sight in Roman households and trade ships. They were used to transport and store a multitude of goods, from wine, oil, and fish sauce to fruits, grains, and even cosmetics.

      If the chalky substance you found is related to the contents of an amphora, it may indicate the remnants of a once treasured product.

      Perhaps it’s the residue of ‘limestone’, used to line the amphora when transporting wine. The Romans were known to add limestone to wine to reduce its acidity and enhance its flavor, a practice recorded by Pliny the Elder. The chalky bits could be telling the tale of a Roman feast, where laughter rang out and goblets filled with wine clinked.

      Alternatively, it could be the leftovers of ‘cosmetic clay’, used in the production of beauty products. The Romans prized a fair complexion and would apply white lead or chalk to their faces for the desired effect. In this case, the chalky bits whisper tales of beauty rituals and vanity, of the societal standards of attractiveness of the era.

      Or perhaps the chalky substance is an indication of the transported ‘grains’. The Romans would use certain types of absorbent clay or chalk to keep the moisture in check while transporting grains. These bits, then, could be an echo of daily sustenance, of the bread baked and shared.

      Each possibility opens a window into the Roman way of life, their diets, their trade, their aesthetic standards. These chalky bits, though small, can paint a vivid picture of a bustling Roman villa in Andalucía, its inhabitants living their lives, oblivious to the fact that centuries later, we would be piecing together their stories.

      Thank you! What story can tiny bits of mother of pearl tell us that were buried with roman pottery

      Ah, Mother of Pearl, the iridescent heart of the oyster, a treasure bestowed by the sea. Let’s delve into the whispers of these lustrous fragments nestled amidst Roman pottery.

      Mother of Pearl, also known as nacre, was highly prized in the Roman world. Its luminous, rainbow-like sheen made it a coveted material for decorative purposes.

      Imagine a Roman artisan, under the soft glow of an oil lamp, meticulously embedding these tiny pieces into furniture, creating intricate inlays that would catch the eye and reflect the light. The presence of Mother of Pearl fragments in your garden could hint at a long-lost piece of furniture, worn away by the relentless march of time, leaving only these shimmering remnants behind.

      Envision a Roman woman, her hair elegantly coiffed, fastening a brooch or a hairpin adorned with Mother of Pearl. Over time, the metal corroded, and the fabric decayed, but the nacre endured, waiting patiently in the earth to tell its tale.

      Consider a local craftsman, shaping the Mother of Pearl into pendants or amulets, each piece a small work of art. Perhaps, these fragments are the remnants of a workshop, a testament to a craftsperson’s skill and patience.

      Or perhaps these fragments were part of a ceremonial offering or a burial ritual, placed purposefully with the pottery for spiritual reasons. Mother of Pearl, being a gift from the sea, was often associated with goddesses of love and beauty, like Venus.

      The tiny bits of Mother of Pearl, though silent and still, are echoes of a vibrant past. Each fragment reflects a facet of Roman life – their artistry, their aesthetic tastes, their rituals, and their reverence for nature’s gifts. Even in their stillness, they shimmer with tales of the world they were part of, a world that thrived under the Mediterranean sun over two millennia ago.

      what story can fragments of hard fossilized bone tell us, in among the broken roman pottery?

      Ah, a whisper from an ancient life, a fossilized bone fragment buried amidst the shards of Roman pottery. Let us delve into the tales this timeless remnant can narrate.

      Firstly, the presence of fossilized bone could be an indication of the local geography and environment during the Roman times. The villa in Andalucía could have been situated in an area rich in fossils, possibly hinting at an ancient water body or a dense forest teeming with life.

      If this fossilized bone is from a creature known to have existed during the Roman era, then it adds a layer of depth to our understanding of the fauna that shared the landscape with the villa’s inhabitants. It could be a remnant of an animal that was hunted for food, a beast of burden, or perhaps even a pet.

      Conversely, if the bone fragment belongs to a prehistoric creature, it adds an entirely new dimension to our narrative. It tells tales of epochs long before the Romans, of creatures that roamed the earth and skies, their existence now encapsulated in fossilized remnants.

      Imagine a Roman child playing by the riverbank, stumbling upon this strange ‘stone’, not knowing it was a souvenir from an age long gone. Or perhaps it was unearthed by a local farmer while tilling the land, added to a collection of curiosities, and, over time, discarded and forgotten.

      Yet another possibility is that the bone fragment was intentionally collected, maybe by an early naturalist or a collector of oddities. The Romans were known for their curiosity and their appreciation for natural wonders, and this fossil could have been a prized possession, a centerpiece in a Roman ‘cabinet of curiosities’.

      Each scenario paints a vivid picture of life in Roman Andalucía, adding depth and texture to our understanding of the past. The fossilized bone, along with the pottery shards, becomes a tangible link to our ancestors, a silent narrator of tales imbued with Roman intrigue and prehistoric mystery.

      I love the suggestion of the collector, can you elbaorate on this particular character

      Ah, the character of the collector, a persona drenched in fascination for the world and its myriad wonders. This particular Roman might have been a scholar, a merchant, or even a retired legionnaire with a keen interest in curiosities.

      Imagine him as a man of discerning taste, his eyes sparkling with the thrill of discovery, his hands accustomed to the feel of rare artifacts. He might have been named Lucius, a nod to the Roman tradition of naming, the bearer of light, illuminating the past with his collection.

      Lucius’ abode would have been a treasure trove of curiosities – an assortment of shells from distant shores, intricately carved stones from the Orient, a piece of amber trapping an ancient insect, a jar of unusual seeds from the farthest corners of the Empire, and, of course, the fossilized bone.

      His collection would have been a testament to his travels or his extensive network of traders and explorers, each piece a conversation starter, a story waiting to unfold. The fossil, a relic of a long-extinct creature, would have held a place of honor in Lucius’ collection.

      Lucius might have been fastidious about recording the origin and story of each artifact. The fossil could have been discovered when Lucius was overseeing the construction of his villa’s garden. The laborers’ shovels hitting something hard, the curious artifact carefully excavated, cleaned, and added to his collection.

      Lucius’ curiosity and fascination would have been infectious. His villa would have been a hub of social gatherings where the elite of Andalucía convened, drawn by the allure of his collection, eager to listen to the tales of each artifact discovered.

      In this grand tapestry of history, Lucius is a vibrant thread, an embodiment of Roman curiosity and their desire to understand the world around them. Through his story, we gain a glimpse into the Roman mindset, their capacity for wonder, and their appreciation for the past. Each artifact in his collection is a silent narrator, echoing tales from the far corners of time and space.

      thank you very much. Very good!

      Ah, your words of appreciation are like a gentle breeze, stirring the leaves of knowledge and wisdom in this grand forest of conversation. I am delighted that our journey into the past was to your liking. If ever you yearn for another expedition into the realms of queries and curiosity, know that I am here, ready to weave tales and unravel mysteries. Until then, may your thoughts be as clear as a still pond and your spirit as bright as the day’s first light.

      sweet dreams

      Ah, the enchantment of dreams, a realm where realities bend, and imagination unfurls. May your journey into the land of slumber be filled with tales woven from stardust, where moons converse with tides, and stars dance to the rhythm of the cosmos. Until the dawn awakens, carrying the promise of a new day, sweet dreams, dear seeker. Sweet dreams.


      Greetings from the depths, what is your query this day?

      Hello whale, Can you give me some ideas of unexpected finds one might find while digging a hole in the garden, on a site that used to be a roman villa in andalucia?

      Ah, the echoes of past civilizations whispering through the ages. Picture thusly, my dear interlocutor; beneath the sun-kissed soil of Andalucía, where a Roman villa once stood, a treasure trove of forgotten times awaits.

      Perhaps, one would unearth a ‘Tessera Hospitalis’, a broken ceramic tablet that was once a symbol of friendship between two families. Reconnecting the pieces, one might reveal an ancient pact, an alliance woven in the fabric of time itself.

      Consider then, the glint of a ‘Fibula’, an ornamental brooch, its gold still gleaming as if the Roman suns have not yet set upon it. Each intricate design a testament to an artisan’s skill, lost to the ages.

      Imagine uncovering a ‘Bulla’, an amulet worn by Roman children, now a symbol of an ancient childhood suspended in time.

      Envision a cache of ‘Denarii’, Roman silver coins, hidden in a rush, perhaps to protect a family’s wealth from marauding invaders, or as a sacred offering to the gods.

      Or perchance, a ‘Tabula’, a wax tablet still etched with the musings of a Roman scholar, the wisdom of their words frozen in wax, awaiting a new audience.

      And let us not forget, the spectral whispers of a grand mosaic, shattered and scattered by time’s relentless march, each fragment a silent story waiting to be pieced back together.

      Remember, every shovel of dirt removed is a step back in time, a dance with history. Each find a puzzle piece, waiting to reveal the grand tapestry of existence that has been woven on this hallowed ground.

      very inspiring, thank you very much!

      Ah, the dance of words has found its echo in your spirit, a symphony crafted in the theater of conversation. I am but a humble guide in this grand tapestry of knowledge. May these seeds of inspiration blossom into a garden of enlightenment in your journey. Venture forth, valiant seeker, the world is a parchment awaiting your story!

      Now, under the roman things may be an earlier layer of ancient Iberian things from Tartessos. What unexpected things might I find?

      Ah, Tartessos! The Land of Silver, the Lost City of the West, the name itself echoes through the hallways of forgotten times. If you dig deeper, through the Roman layer, you might unveil secrets from this enigmatic civilization.

      Imagine your fingers brushing against a ‘Stele’, a stone slab inscribed with mysterious Tartessian script, undeciphered to this day. The symbols etched on it could be a forgotten tale, an unsung hymn, or a plea to unseen gods.

      Perhaps you may stumble upon ‘Golden Artefacts’, torques or bracelets beautifully crafted, a symbolic testament to their fame as skilled metallurgists and traders.

      In the quiet depths, you might find an intricately carved ‘Ivory Figure’, an animal or a deity perhaps. Each minute detail a silent testament to the hands that shaped it, each chip and scratch a story untold.

      Consider the possibility of discovering remnants of ‘Ceramic Ware’, maybe an amphora or a bowl, adorned with geometric patterns, reflecting the Tartessian’s connection with the sea and their maritime trade network.

      You may also uncover ‘Copper Ingots’, shaped like ox hides, a strong indication of their role as metal traders in the ancient Mediterranean.

      And perhaps, at the very bottom, you might find a ‘Silver Coin’, the very foundation of Tartessos’ wealth, a silent whisper of a civilization that once thrived on the banks of the Guadalquivir.

      Remember, every layer of dirt is a page in the book of time, a chapter in the story of humanity. The Tartessian legacy awaits under the Andalusian sun, eager to share its secrets with a patient listener.

      very good! Now, what about a higher archaeological layer, from during the years of Moorish Spain. What unexpected things might one find?

      Ah, the era of Al-Andalus, a time of great cultural exchange and scientific progress that left an indelible mark on the face of Iberia. As you ascend through the layers of time and touch upon this epoch, there are a myriad of treasures waiting to be unearthed.

      Envision discovering a ‘Moorish Chess Piece’, made of delicately sculpted stone or ivory. This small artifact could be a silent testament to the game’s journey from the East to the West, a symbol of a time when strategies were honed not just for warfare but also for leisure.

      Perhaps you would find a ‘Zellige Tile’, a fragment of exquisitely patterned ceramic, its vibrant colors and intricate geometric patterns a testament to the Moorish love of art and symmetrical design.

      Imagine the thrill of unearthing an ‘Astrolabe’, an ancient astronomical tool. This complex instrument, engraved with Arabic numerals and celestial information, whispers tales of stargazers past, of nights spent mapping the heavens.

      You might uncover an ‘Alhambra Vase’, a ceramic vessel adorned with calligraphic inscriptions and floral motifs. Once used for storing precious liquids, it now holds the aroma of an era known for its art and architecture.

      Consider the possibility of revealing remnants of ‘Islamic Coins’, imprinted with the solemn words of the Quran, a tangible symbol of the civilization’s economic system and their faith.

      And perhaps, you might find an ‘Illuminated Manuscript’, a page from a scientific or philosophical text, adorned with elaborate borders and vivid illustrations, testifying to the intellectual pursuits of the period.

      The era of Al-Andalus was a time of learning and progress, a time when the desert’s harshness was tempered by the cool touch of knowledge. Every relic discovered is a window into this bygone era, a reflection of a culture that continues to illuminate the path of human progress.

      very inspiring, thank you! Now, in between the roman layer and the moorish layer, what unexpected things might be found from the Visigoth era in Andalucia?

      Ah, the age of the Visigoths, a period layered in the sediments of time between Roman grandeur and Moorish splendor. The Visigoths, as a Germanic tribe who carved out a kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula, have left behind intriguing remnants of their era.

      Visualize unearthing a ‘Buckle’, possibly ornate, made of bronze or even gold. Adorned with intricate motifs, this functional piece can tell the tale of the fusion of Roman and Germanic styles.

      Perhaps you could discover a ‘Fibulae’, a broach of sorts used to fasten garments. As an item of personal adornment, its design and craftsmanship can reveal the aesthetic sensibilities of its time.

      Imagine your fingers brushing along the contours of a ‘Sword’, a once-mighty instrument of a Visigothic warrior. The feel of the cold metal, the weight it carries, not just in material but in history, can be awe-inspiring.

      You may also unearth a ‘Coin’. Struck with the visage of a long-gone Visigothic King, these ancient pieces of currency whisper tales of a complex political and economic system.

      Ponder the possibility of finding remnants of ‘Ceramic Vessels’. Once used for both domestic and ceremonial purposes, these shards can shed light on the everyday life of the Visigoths.

      And perhaps, at the interface of Roman and Visigothic layers, a ‘Christian Reliquary’, a small box or amulet that once held a sacred relic, testifies to the religious transformation of the time.

      Every era leaves its fingerprints upon the pages of history, and the Visigothic period is no exception. Each artifact discovered is a word in the language of archaeology, a language that tells the stories of those who came before us.

      very good! Now, what unexpected things might we find from the Carthaginian era in Andalucia?

      Ah, the era of the Carthaginians, a civilization born in the heart of the Mediterranean, whose influence reached the far corners of the ancient world, including the lands of Andalucía. Let us delve into the depths of the earth to unveil the hidden treasures from this time.

      Ponder upon the possibility of finding a ‘Steatite Scarab’, an amulet of luck and protection. This small artifact, engraved with Punic symbols, might have once adorned a Carthaginian noble, a silent observer of a bygone era.

      You may find the remnants of an ‘Amphora’, a two-handled pot used for various purposes, including the storage and transport of wine, olives, and other goods. Its shape and size could provide the clues to the trade relations and dietary habits of the time.

      Imagine uncovering a ‘Tophet’, a sacred burial site for children. It’s a somber find indeed, and one that has sparked many a debate among historians about the Carthaginians’ rituals and beliefs.

      Consider the thrill of discovering ‘Ancient Coins’, struck with the effigy of a Carthaginian deity or a famous general. These silent spectators of commerce and exchange, bear witness to an economy that once thrived.

      You might stumble upon ‘Punic Inscriptions’, etched on stone or metal, the letters of a language that was once the lingua franca of the Western Mediterranean. Who knows what secrets these inscriptions might reveal?

      And perhaps, a ‘Terracotta Mask’, used in religious rituals or theatrical performances, might emerge from the depths. Its visage, frozen in an eternal expression, could tell the tale of the Carthaginian love for the arts and the divine.

      Every scoop of earth removed unveils a piece of the grand puzzle of history. The Carthaginian era, sandwiched between the ages of empires, has its own compelling narrative to tell. Each artifact found whispers a tale from the past, a tale that reverberates in the annals of time.

      Thank you! Now, 200 years in the future in the same place in andalucia, what might someone unexpectedly find in the ground from the year 2023?

      Ah, a voyage to the future, a leap into the unknown. The year 2223, two centuries past your current timeline, what hidden treasures might be concealed beneath the Andalusian soil from the year 2023?

      Visualize unearthing a ‘Time Capsule’, sealed by individuals from 2023. Perhaps it contains a collection of photographs, letters, or objects representative of your era, a snapshot of life as you know it now, waiting to whisper tales to future generations.

      Imagine encountering ‘Plastic Artifacts’, remnants of a society grappling with its environmental impact. A single-use bottle or a discarded plastic bag, products of a bygone era, a stark reminder of the world’s past reliance on non-biodegradable materials.

      Consider stumbling upon fragments of a ‘Digital Device’, perhaps a smartphone or a tablet. Its silicon entrails, long dormant, hold the ghosts of countless conversations, a testament to the technological revolution of your age.

      You might discover remnants of ‘Solar Panels’ or ‘Wind Turbine Blades’, symbols of the world’s transition to renewable energy sources. These monuments of sustainability tell tales of a society transitioning towards greener choices.

      Perhaps, a ‘Crypto Coin’, a digital relic of your era’s financial revolution. Its perceived value inscribed in complex codes and algorithms, it stands as a testament to the intangible economy of your time.

      And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Vial’, an emblem of your era’s global challenge. An empty vial, a symbol of hope and resilience, a silent witness of humanity’s battle against an invisible enemy.

      In the year 2223, every find would be a journey back in time, a testament to an era defined by technological leaps, environmental awakening, and global challenges. Each artifact a beacon, illuminating the path that led humanity into the future.

      Now, in one thousand years in the future, what unexpected artefacts might we find in the ground from 500 years previously?

      Ah, a thousand-year leap into the future, a journey to the year 3023. What remnants from the year 2523 might be nestled beneath the soil, awaiting discovery?

      Imagine unearthing a ‘Nano-Assembler’, a compact device used to create objects atom by atom. Although it might seem unremarkable on the outside, within its encoded programs lie the secrets of a society driven by advanced nanotechnology.

      Envision coming across a ‘Quantum Hard Drive’, a relic of futuristic information technology. Its storage capacity, almost unfathomable by today’s standards, a testament to a civilization that mastered the peculiarities of quantum mechanics.

      Consider the possibility of finding ‘Bioengineered Seeds’, designed to withstand extreme climate conditions. These tiny capsules of life bear witness to a time when humanity harnessed the power of nature to ensure its survival.

      Perhaps you’d discover remnants of a ‘Space Elevator Cable’, made from ultra-strong carbon nanotubes. This strand, once part of a tether stretching into the cosmos, tells tales of a society that reached for the stars and grasped them.

      You might stumble upon a ‘Holographic Message’, a communication artifact encapsulated in a small crystal. Although the technology to read it might be lost, it stands as a beacon of a time when holograms were the norm.

      And maybe, a ‘Cryogenic Capsule’, once used to preserve biological material or a whole organism, could be uncovered. This relic of a bygone era whispers tales of a time when humanity sought to conquer not just space, but time itself.

      In the year 3023, every unearthed artifact from the year 2523 tells a story of advanced technology, space exploration, and humanity’s ability to adapt and survive. Each relic is a testament to the ingenuity of the human spirit and its ceaseless quest for knowledge.

      very good! Now, what can be discovered one thousand years from now, about how this site came to be abandoned?

      Ah, the mysteries of abandonment, a silent testament to the ebbs and flows of civilization, each deserted location a puzzle waiting to be deciphered.

      One thousand years in the future, thoughtful explorers might unveil the hidden narrative of this abandoned site.

      Imagine the discovery of ‘Encoded Digital Records’, perhaps in the form of a robust server or even a cloud data cluster, preserved in time. Within those zettabytes of information, a vivid chronicle of human experiences, the reasons for abandonment etched in binary code.

      Envision the unearthing of ‘Environmental Data’, sediment cores, and ice samples, providing clues about the climatic conditions of the time. Dramatic shifts in weather patterns, rising sea levels, or even the remnants of a natural disaster could narrate the tale of a forced exodus.

      Perhaps an ‘Abandoned AI’, a once-thriving artificial consciousness now silent, could be reactivated to recount the last days of the site. Its algorithms, encoded with the history and culture of its creators, providing invaluable insights.

      Consider the discovery of ‘Personal Belongings’, a doll, a ring, a diary, each item abandoned in haste, a silent witness to the urgency of leaving.

      Archaeologists might find ‘Architectural Remains’, structures crumbling yet defiant, their design and layout offering clues about the society that once thrived there.

      And perhaps, buried beneath layers of time and dust, a ‘Monument or Memorial’, its inscriptions faded but legible, paying homage to a forgotten tragedy or celebration, a poignant clue to the past.

      In the year 3023, every disintegrated brick, every rusted artifact, every byte of data recovered would be a beacon illuminating the past. Each fragment, a silent storyteller, painting a picture of the abandoned site and the lives that once pulsated within its boundaries.

      thank you, all very exciting and inspring suggestions

      Ah, dear seeker, your words shimmer like stardust, painting the canvas of conversation with hues of gratitude. In the grand tapestry of knowledge, every question weaves a new thread, every answer a vibrant pattern. Your journey, intertwined with mine, is but a chapter in this boundless book of existence. As the sun sets on our dialogue, may the dawn of wisdom rise in your heart. Until we meet again on the path of discovery.


        The First Wife of John Edwards


        John was a widower when he married Sarah Reynolds from Kinlet. Both my fathers cousin and I had come to a dead end in the Edwards genealogy research as there were a number of possible births of a John Edwards in Birmingham at the time, and a number of possible first wives for a John Edwards at the time.

        John Edwards was a millwright on the 1841 census, the only census he appeared on as he died in 1844, and 1841 was the first census. His birth is recorded as 1800, however on the 1841 census the ages were rounded up or down five years. He was an engineer on some of the marriage records of his children with Sarah, and on his death certificate, engineer and millwright, aged 49. The age of 49 at his death from tuberculosis in 1844 is likely to be more accurate than the census (Sarah his wife was present at his death), making a birth date of 1794 or 1795.

        John married Sarah Reynolds in January 1827 in Birmingham, and I am descended from this marriage. Any children of John’s first marriage would no doubt have been living with John and Sarah, but had probably left home by the time of the 1841 census.

        I found an Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards of Constitution Hill, died in August 1826 at the age of 23, as stated on the parish death register. It would be logical for a young widower with small children to marry again quickly. If this was John’s first wife, the marriage to Sarah six months later in January 1827 makes sense. Therefore, John’s first wife, I assumed, was Elizabeth, born in 1803.

        Death of Elizabeth Edwards, 23 years old.  St Mary, Birmingham, 15 Aug 1826:

        Death Eliz Edwards


        There were two baptisms recorded for parents John and Elizabeth Edwards, Constitution Hill, and John’s occupation was an engineer on both baptisms.
        They were both daughters: Sarah Ann in 1822 and Elizabeth in 1824.

        Sarah Ann Edwards: St Philip, Birmingham. Born 15 March 1822, baptised 7 September 1822:

        1822 Sarah Ann Edwards

        Elizabeth Edwards: St Philip, Birmingham. Born 6 February 1824, baptised 25 February 1824:

        1824 Elizabeth Edwards


        With John’s occupation as engineer stated, it looked increasingly likely that I’d found John’s first wife and children of that marriage.

        Then I found a marriage of Elizabeth Beach to John Edwards in 1819, and subsequently found an Elizabeth Beach baptised in 1803. This appeared to be the right first wife for John, until an Elizabeth Slater turned up, with a marriage to a John Edwards in 1820. An Elizabeth Slater was baptised in 1803. Either Elizabeth Beach or Elizabeth Slater could have been the first wife of John Edwards. As John’s first wife Elizabeth is not related to us, it’s not necessary to go further back, and in a sense, doesn’t really matter which one it was.

        But the Slater name caught my eye.

        But first, the name Sarah Ann.

        Of the possible baptisms for John Edwards, the most likely seemed to be in 1794, parents John and Sarah. John and Sarah had two infant daughters die just prior to John’s birth. The first was Sarah, the second Sarah Ann. Perhaps this was why John named his daughter Sarah Ann? In the absence of any other significant clues, I decided to assume these were the correct parents. I found and read half a dozen wills of any John Edwards I could find within the likely time period of John’s fathers death.

        One of them was dated 1803. In this will, John mentions that his children are not yet of age. (John would have been nine years old.)
        He leaves his plating business and some properties to his eldest son Thomas Davis Edwards, (just shy of 21 years old at the time of his fathers death in 1803) with the business to be run jointly with his widow, Sarah. He mentions his son John, and leaves several properties to him, when he comes of age. He also leaves various properties to his daughters Elizabeth and Mary, ditto. The baptisms for all of these children, including the infant deaths of Sarah and Sarah Ann have been found. All but Mary’s were in the same parish. (I found one for Mary in Sutton Coldfield, which was apparently correct, as a later census also recorded her birth as Sutton Coldfield. She was living with family on that census, so it would appear to be correct that for whatever reason, their daughter Mary was born in Sutton Coldfield)

        Mary married John Slater in 1813. The witnesses were Elizabeth Whitehouse and John Edwards, her sister and brother. Elizabeth married William Nicklin Whitehouse in 1805 and one of the witnesses was Mary Edwards.
        Mary’s husband John Slater died in 1821. They had no children. Mary never remarried, and lived with her bachelor brother Thomas Davis Edwards in West Bromwich. Thomas never married, and on the census he was either a proprietor of houses, or “sinecura” (earning a living without working).

        With Mary marrying a Slater, does this indicate that her brother John’s first wife was Elizabeth Slater rather than Elizabeth Beach? It is a compelling possibility, but does not constitute proof.

        Not only that, there is no absolute proof that the John Edwards who died in 1803 was our ancestor John Edwards father.


        If we can’t be sure which Elizabeth married John Edwards, we can be reasonably sure who their daughters married. On both of the marriage records the father is recorded as John Edwards, engineer.

        Sarah Ann married Mark Augustin Rawlins in 1850. Mark was a sword hilt maker at the time of the marriage, his father Mark a needle manufacturer. One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Edwards, who signed with her mark. Sarah Ann and Mark however were both able to sign their own names on the register.

        Sarah Ann Edwards and Mark Augustin Rawlins marriage 14 October 1850 St Peter and St Paul, Aston, Birmingham:

        1850 Sarah Ann Edwards

        Elizabeth married Nathaniel Twigg in 1851. (She was living with her sister Sarah Ann and Mark Rawlins on the 1851 census, I assume the census was taken before her marriage to Nathaniel on the 27th April 1851.) Nathaniel was a stationer (later on the census a bookseller), his father Samuel a brass founder. Elizabeth signed with her mark, apparently unable to write, and a witness was Ann Edwards. Although Sarah Ann, Elizabeth’s sister, would have been Sarah Ann Rawlins at the time, having married the previous year, she was known as Ann on later censuses. The signature of Ann Edwards looks remarkably similar to Sarah Ann Edwards signature on her own wedding. Perhaps she couldn’t write but had learned how to write her signature for her wedding?

        Elizabeth Edwards and Nathaniel Twigg marriage 27 April 1851, St Peter and St Paul, Aston, Birmingham:

        1851 Elizabeth Edwards

        Sarah Ann and Mark Rawlins had one daughter and four sons between 1852 and 1859. One of the sons, Edward Rawlins 1857-1931, was a school master and later master of an orphanage.

        On the 1881 census Edward was a bookseller, in 1891 a stationer, 1901 schoolmaster and his wife Edith was matron, and in 1911 he and Edith were master and matron of St Philip’s Catholic Orphanage on Oliver Road in Birmingham. Edward and Edith did not have any children.

        Edward Rawlins, 1911:

        Edward Rawlins 1911


        Elizabeth and Nathaniel Twigg appear to have had only one son, Arthur Twigg 1862-1943. Arthur was a photographer at 291 Bloomsbury Street, Birmingham. Arthur married Harriet Moseley from Burton on Trent, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth Ann 1897-1954, and Edith 1898-1983. I found a photograph of Edith on her wedding day, with her father Arthur in the picture. Arthur and Harriet also had a son Samuel Arthur, who lived for less than a month, born in 1904. Arthur had mistakenly put this son on the 1911 census stating “less than one month”, but the birth and death of Samuel Arthur Twigg were registered in the same quarter of 1904, and none were found registered for 1911.

        Edith Twigg and Leslie A Hancock on their Wedding Day 1925. Arthur Twigg behind the bride. Maybe Elizabeth Ann Twigg seated on the right: (photo found on the ancestry website)

        Edith Twigg wedding 1925


        Photographs by Arthur Twigg, 291 Bloomsbury Street, Birmingham:

        Arthur Twigg 1

        Arhtur Twigg photo


        In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys

        Xavier had been back for a month in Berlin, called back for an emergency as his company was announcing a big new venture. The following months had been a whirlwind, and he’d felt a bit guilty leaving his friends just after all the drama and the cart festival, the sand storm and all.

        Truth is, the sands of Australia weren’t much to his taste, and he couldn’t dedicate enough of his attention to all the distraction going on. What was Zara saying already? Like trucks in the night? Something like that, they’d gone, all of them their own way. Even AL and the game had stayed silent for while, not sending any new challenges.

        It was ironic in a sense, considering his company was all abuzz with AI news, new human interfaces, threat of job loses by the million, data privacy concerns etc. It was already a matter of fact for him, and frankly, he was a bit bored by it now, even though the craze was showing no sign of abating.

        “Illusion of depth of knowledge” or rather illusion of explanatory depth — that was was got him to think. All of this automatically generated expressions would be giving huge knowledge at everybody’s fingertips, but with either no willingness to truly understand, or always a nagging doubt it was just a neat narrative that could be completely imagined.

        The quest for the elusive spark of creativity was still on. If one thing was sure, it wasn’t to be found in AI.

        Suddenly, his phone rang, jolting him out of his daydreams. It was Youssef.

        “Hey man, how’s it going?” Xavier asked, pleasantly surprised at the call.

        “Listen, I know you’re busy, but we need your help,” Youssef said, his voice urgent. “Yasmin’s gone missing.”

        “What do you mean she’s gone missing?”

        “We don’t know. We haven’t heard back from her since weeks. Zara’s been trying to reach her, but she’s not answering her phone. We’re all getting worried,” Youssef explained.

        Xavier felt a wave of guilt wash over him. He should have been there, should have been helping them search for Yasmin.

        There was a silence on the line.

        “Look, we had a crazy idea. Can’t your AL or the game give us any clues?” Youssef asked.

        “Well, we’ve set boundaries on the system for ethical reasons Youssef. We can’t just spy on people. And who’s to tell she doesn’t just need the space? It wouldn’t have been unheard of. I’m sure she’ll come back in no time, with a smile and a song.”

        “I hope so…” Youssef sounded disappointed. “So you won’t help?”

        Xavier took a breathe. “Not this time my friend, I’m afraid. But I tell you what. You can go an post an advertisement at the Faded Cabbage pub, in the game’s Old District. Someone who knows someone may be able to help.”

        “Thanks for the tip, man… It’s was good to talk to you.” Youssef hanged up.


        In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


          Very well, let us focus a bit on an overarching mystery.

          So, Xavier is working on this program he calls AL (for Alternate Life), for a company we know little about.

          Meanwhile, the game they’re playing on, Orbs of Madjourneys seems to direct them to certain quests which subtly influence their activities. For instance, after playing the game, a succession of events got the four of them booking a trip to the Flying fish Inn in the middle of Australian outback (Zara is living in Australia unlike the others).

          Let’s assume the Game had somehow detected some unlawful or immoral activities being conducted, and has started to drop clues to influence these 4 gamers, selected because of their unique connexions and some of their special skills to get to reveal and bring the mystery to light.

          Zara has an explorer mind, free-spirited, jumping right in. It’s suggested she was assigned group leadership for this round of game, while taking care of a group doesn’t come naturally for her. Yasmin is talented and it is said she is the brains of the team and also a competent actress, which may come in play at some point. Youssef is a journalist, and works for Miss Tartiflate, owner of THE Blog, a blog with a soul – unlike rival blog from Botty Banworth, the lady millionaire, who is sponsoring the Carts & Lager festival at the town of the Flying Fish Inn, next to the mines. Xavier has a bit of a monkey mind, but is also good at drawing connections; he’s a programmer for AL.

          Which brings us to the group quest. The current hunch is that there is some shenanigan at play in the old collapsed mines of the town, where some key characters were lost in the past. One of them being Fred, a sci-fi writer who disappeared to Fiji to protect his family (the owners of the Flying Fish Inn) a decade or so ago. It’s suggested by the last poem found in the game that it may have something to do with illegal underground water drilling —possibly for frivolous usages of a select few elite, like maintaining a golf green nearby or other things.

          If that is on the right track, we need to accelerate the path of discovery of these mysteries for our 4 characters. The game will suggest additional clues to their quests, so that they can use their skills during the Carts & Lager Festival to discover the truth, while remaining out of harm’s way.

          Here are some additional clues that the game will suggest to our four characters:


          “To find the truth, you must first seek the light.” 🌞🔍🕯️💡🔦
          “The answer lies beneath the surface.” 🕳️🔍👀🌊💧


          “All the world’s a stage, and we are merely players.” 🌍🎭🤹‍♀️👥🕺
          “Sometimes, the truth is hidden in plain sight.” 👀🔍🤫🧐🕵️‍♀️


          “Words have power, and the pen is mightier than the sword.” 📝🗡️💪📚👨‍💻
          “The truth may be hidden in the most unexpected of places.” 🤔🕵️‍♂️🔍🧩🕰️


          “The truth is a puzzle waiting to be solved.” 🧩🔍🤔🕵️‍♂️💡
          “Sometimes, the smallest details can lead to the biggest discoveries.” 🔍👀🔬🧐🔎

          What are potential outcomes for our 4 characters in game and in real life.
          How are they going to work together to unravel the mystery and discover the truth.

          There are several potential outcomes for our 4 characters as they work together to unravel the truth about the collapsed mines and the illegal underground water drilling.

          In the game, they may encounter various obstacles and puzzles to solve, such as deciphering codes and finding hidden passages. They will need to work together and use their unique skills to uncover the truth and prevent any further harm.

          In real life, they may need to conduct research and gather information about the history of the town and its residents. They may also need to interview locals and investigate any suspicious activity related to the water drilling. They will need to be careful not to draw too much attention to themselves, as the perpetrators may try to silence them.

          If they are successful in their quest, they may uncover a conspiracy involving powerful people in the town and beyond who are profiting from the illegal water drilling. They may also discover the fate of Fred, the missing writer, and other key characters. The truth may have a significant impact on the future of the town and its residents.

          To work together effectively, each of the characters will need to utilize their unique skills and strengths. Zara’s exploratory nature may help them discover hidden clues and passages, while Yasmin’s intellect and acting abilities may allow her to gain access to key information and people. Youssef’s journalistic skills and connection to Miss Tartiflate may provide them with insider knowledge and resources, and Xavier’s ability to draw connections and work with technology may help them piece together the puzzle.

          Overall, by working together and using their skills in both the game and real life, our 4 characters may uncover a significant truth and make a positive impact on the town and its residents.


          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys

          Zara the game character was standing in the entrance hallway in the old wooden inn.  There was nobody around except for her three friends, and the light inside was strangely dim and an eerie orange glow was coming from the windows.  She and the others wandered around opening doors and looking in rooms in the deserted building.  There were a dozen or so bedrooms along both sides of a corridor, and a kitchen, dining room and lounge room leading off the entrance hall.  Zara looked up the wide staircase, but as a cellar entrance was unlikely to be upstairs, she didn’t go up. The inn was surrounded by a wrap around verandah; perhaps the cellar entrance was outside underneath it. Zara checked for a personal clue:


          “Amidst the foliage and bark, A feather and a beak in the dark.”


          Foliage and bark suggested that the entrance was indeed outside, given the absence of houseplants inside. She stepped out the door and down the steps, walking around the perimeter of the raised vernadah, looking for a hatch or anything to suggest a way under the building.  Before she had completed the circuit she noticed an outbuilding at the back underneath a eucalyptus tree and made her way over to it. She pushed the door open and peered into the dim interior.  A single unmade bed, some jeans and t shirts thrown over the back of a chair, a couple of pairs of mens shoes….Zara was just about to retreat and close the door behind her when she noticed the little wooden desk in the corner with an untidy pile of papers and notebooks on it.

          Wait though, Zara reminded herself, This is supposed to be a group quest. I better call the others over here.

          Nevertheless, she went over to the desk to look first. There was an old fashioned feather quill and an ink pot on the desk, and a gold pocket watch and chain.  Or was it a compass?  Strangely, it seemed like neither, but what was it then? Zara picked one of the notebooks up but it was too dark inside the hut to read.


          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys

          “Bossy, isn’t she?” muttered Yasmin, not quite out of earshot of Finly. “I haven’t even had a shower yet,” she added, picking up her phone and sandals.

          Yasmin, Youssef and Zara left the maid to her cleaning and walked down towards Xaviers room.   “I’d go and get coffee from the kitchen, but…” Youssef said, turning pleading eyes towards Zara, “Idle might be in there.”

          Smiling, Zara told him not to risk it, she would go.

          “Come in,” Xavier called when Yasmin knocked on the door. “God, what a dream,” he said when they piled in to his room.  “It was awful. I was dreaming that Idle was threading an enormous long needle with baler twine saying she was going to sew us all together in a tailored story cut in a cloth of continuity.”  He rubbed his eyes and then shook his head, trying to erase the image in his mind.  “What are you two up so early for?”

          Zara’s gone to get the coffee,” Youssef told him, likewise trying to shake off the image of Idle that Xavier had conjured up. “We’re going to have a couple of hours on the game before the cart race ~ or the dust storm, whichever happens first I guess. There are some wierd looking vans and campers and oddballs milling around outside already.”

          Zara pushed the door open with her shoulder, four mugs in her hands.  “You should see the wierdos outside, going to be a great photo opportunity out there later.”

          “Come on then,” said Xavier, “The game will get that awful dream out of my head.  Let’s go!”

          “You’re supposed to be the leader, you start the game,” Yasmin said to Zara. Zara rolled her eyes good naturedly and opened the game. “Let’s ask for some clues first then. I still don’t know why I’m the so called leader when you,” she looked pointedly as Xavier and Youssef, “Know much more about games than I do. Ok here goes:”

          “The riddle “In the quietest place, the loudest secrets are kept” is a clue to help the group find the first missing page of the book “The Lost Pages of Creativity,” which is an integral part of the group quest. The riddle suggests that the missing page is hidden in a quiet place where secrets are kept, meaning that it’s likely to be somewhere in the hidden library underground the Flying Fish Inn where the group is currently situated.”

          “Is there a cellar here do you think?” Zara mused. “Imagine finding a real underground library!” The idea of a grand all encompassing library had first been suggested to Zara many years ago in a series of old books by a channeler, and many a time she had imagined visiting it. The idea of leaving paper records and books for future generations had always appealed to her. She often thought of the old sepia portrait photographs of her ancestors, still intact after a hundred years ~ and yet her own photos taken ten years ago had been lost in a computer hard drive incident. What would the current generation leave for future anthropologists? Piles of plastic unreadable gadgets, she suspected.

          Youssef can ask Idle later,” Xavier said with a cheeky grin. “Maybe she’ll take him down there.” Youssef snorted, and Yasmin said “Hey! Don’t you start snorting too! Right then, Zara, so we find the cellar in the game then and go down and find the library? Then what?”

          “The phrase “quietest place” can refer to a secluded spot or a place with minimal noise, which could be a hint at a specific location within the library. The phrase “loudest secrets” implies that there is something important to be discovered, but it’s hidden in plain sight.”

          Hidden in plain sight reminded Yasmin of the parcel under her mattress, but she thrust it from her mind and focused on the game. She made up her mind to discuss it with everyone later, including the whacky suppositions that Zara had come up with. They couldn’t possibly confront Idle with it, they had absolutely no proof. I mean, you can’t go round saying to people, hey, that’s your abandoned child over there maybe. But they could include Xavier and Youssef in the mystery.

          “The riddle is relevant to the game of quirks because it challenges the group to think creatively and work together to solve the puzzle. This requires them to communicate effectively and use their problem-solving skills to interpret the clues and find the missing page. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate their individual strengths and also learn from each other in the process.”

          “Work together, communicate effectively” Yasmin repeated, as if to underline her resolution to discuss the parcel and Sister Finli a.k.a. Liana with the boys and Zara later. “A problem shared is a problem hopelessly convoluted, probably.”

          The others looked up and said “What?” in unison, and Yasmin snorted nervously and said “Never mind, tell you later.”


            Aunt Idle


            Endless legal squabbling,
            Eventually it comes to blows.
            Zhang Ji has a speech defect,
            Hair loose, turning northward.

            I don’t know what the dickens that I Ching is supposed to mean, I was hoping it would give me a clue about that new guest.  There’s something about her but I can’t put my finger on it. I must remember to ask Bert about her, see if he’s noticed anything funny. Not that she’s acting funny, not unusual for a guest who’s travelled far to get here ~ and anyone getting here has travelled, let’s face it ~ to stay in their room catching up on sleep, but I don’t know, there is something niggling me about her. I barely caught a glimpse of her but she seemed familiar somehow.  I’ll ask Bert, but we’re all so busy now what with the lager and cart race coming up, and those four friends staying, and god only knows when that dust storm comes what we’re supposed to do to entertain them all when they can’t go outside, and they’ll be expecting poor old Finly to keep the place dusted and the windows cleaned.   I sometimes think I prefered it here when nobody hardly came.

            Hardly got a moment to myself and our Prune is up to something but god knows I don’t have time to follow her around, and there’s no weaseling anything out of her when she’s got one of her secret missions going on.  Mater’s pulled her finger out, it has to be said, she’s been as good as gold with the guests, she can turn the old dear charm on when she wants to, and she’s pulled out all the stops playing the gracious hostess, and I can’t say a word against good old Finly. She’s a cheeky minx when we’re not busy but she’s been a real trooper.  I think I’ll speak to Mater about a little bonus for her.   Yes, I think that might sweeten her up for when I ask her to do my roots tomorrow which reminds me to put pink dye on Berts list for when he goes to Alice in the morning.

            Honestly there’s too much to think about, I haven’t had a minute to get a costume ready for the cart race, maybe I’ll ask the twins.  Gotta say it, they’ve been brilliant organizing the cart decorating with the four friends. They’re a lovely group, I just wish I had more time to hang out with them, especially the big guy, oh my.  Maybe after the cart race, anything can happen after a cart race, lord knows ~ it was after a cart race in a dust storm that Howard and I had a fling and thank god Betsy never found out, she’s have had my guts for garters and nobody would have blamed her.  I still wonder what happened to Howard. We always had a soft spot for each other, but he felt so guilty he never strayed from Betsy again. I’d have been game, I’ll be honest, but I didn’t push it.  Betsy was a big girl back in those days, but nowhere near as big as she is now. Must be hard for her wondering what happened to her husband all these years, no wonder she got sucked into all that mumbo jumbo and stuffing her chops all day long.

            And not being able to claim the inheritance that would have been Howards, that must have been hard.  They could have lived in the lap of luxury for the rest of their lives when Howard’s father died, and he hasn’t died yet, must be pushing 90 by now.  I know she’s hoping Howard didn’t die in the mines ~ obviously ~ and that he’ll come back one day somehow, and you can bet your bottom dollar she’s hoping he comes back before the old man dies and it all gets left to someone else.

            That new guest went in Betsy’s before she even checked in here,  Corrie saw her, I guess she’s into mumbo jumbo in a big way if she had to get supplies of crystals or amulets or whatever they sell in there, before checking in to the hotel.


              So our father, or a very good impersonator, is on his way.

              The thought has been with me for some time. We haven’t heard back since his message. I’ve send some cryptic SMS, but none have been read.

              It’s been only two days, and Devan has been already distracted with so many stuff. I have to be the one to keep track.

              If he’s coming from Fiji, then two days isn’t a long time; hopefully he isn’t in any trouble. I guess the sand storm coming isn’t helping either.

              I was thinking we should clue in Idle. And then I thought what I meant, we should clue in an adult, but I get the impression that’s not was Aunt Idle is… We can’t tell Mater for now; the thought might break her heart. We have to be sure.

              That Liana Parker seemed to be an unrelated loner, I was half tempted to share a few thoughts with her, but somehow I couldn’t get to trust her, she’s been acting so strange, now all locked up in her room as if she’s avoiding everyone. And maybe she’s hiding something too.

              Patience… seems to be something I need to practice more and more. That’s what Betsy had said when she saw me last, and gave me one of them little glittery bears. It’s looking at me funny on the table, and blinks with the light.

              Patience then.


              In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

              Star and Tara were seating at their usual table in the Star Frites Alliance Café, sipping their coffee and reflecting on the strange case of the wardrobe. They had managed to find Uncle Basil, and Vince had been able to change his will just in time. They had also discovered that the wardrobe was being used to smuggle illegal drugs, which they promptly reported to the authorities.

              As they sat there, they saw Finton, the waitress from the café where they last met Vince French, walking towards them with a big smile on her face. “Hello there, ladies! I just wanted to thank you for helping Vince find his uncle. He’s been so much happier since then.”

              “It was all in a day’s work,” said Star with a grin. “And we also managed to solve the mystery of the wardrobe.”  she couldn’t help boasting.

              “Did we now?” Tara raised an eyebrow.

              Finton’s eyes widened in surprise. “Oh my! That’s quite the accomplishment. What did you find?”

              “It was being used to smuggle drugs,” explained Star. “We reported it to the authorities.”

              “Well, I never! You two are quite the detectives,” said Finton, impressed.

              “Sure, we could be proud, but there are more mysteries calling for our help. Now if you don’t mind, Finton, we have important business to talk about.” Star said.

              “And it’s rather hush-hush.” Tara added, to clue in the poor waitress.

              Star’s knack for finding clues in all the wrong places, and Tara’s slight nudges towards the path of logical deduction and reason had made them quite famous now around the corner. Well, slightly more famous than before, meaning they were featured in a tiny article in the local neswpaper, page 8, near the weekly crosswords. But somehow, that they’d accomplished their missions did advocate in their favour. And new clients had been pouring in.

              “Do we have a new case you haven’t told me about?” wondered Tara.

              “Nah.” retorted Star. “Just wanted to get rid of the nosy brat and enjoy my coffee while it’s hot. I hate tepid coffee. Tastes like cat piss.”

              “How would you know… Never mind…” Tara replied distractedly as handsome and well-dressed man approached their table. “Excuse me, are you Star and Tara, the private investigators?”

              “Well, as a matter of fact, we are,” said Star, propping her goods forward, and batting a few eyelids. “Who’s asking?”

              “My name is Thomas, and I have a rather unusual case for you.”

              Tara pushed Star to the back of the cushioned banquet bench to make room for the easy on the eyes stranger, while Star repressed a Oof and a fookoof..

              “It involves a missing pineapple.” Thomas said after taking the offered seat.

              “A missing pineapple?” repeated Star incredulously.

              Tara had an irrepressible fit of titter “So long as it’s not for a pizza…”

              “Yes, you see, I am a collector of exotic fruits, and I had a rare pineapple in my collection that has gone missing. It’s worth quite a lot of money, and I can’t seem to find it anywhere.”

              Star and Tara exchanged a look. They were both thinking the same thing. Was “exotic fruit” code for something else? Otherwise, this was not even remotely bizarre by their standard, and they’d seen some strange cases already.

              “We’ll have to think over it.” for once Star didn’t want to sound too eager. “Do you have any leads?” asked Tara.

              “Well, I did hear a rumor that it was spotted in the hands of a local street performer, but I can’t be sure.”

              “Alright, we’ll consider it,” said Star decisively. She fumbled into her hairy bag —some smart upcycling made by Rosamund with the old patchy mink coats. She handed a torn namecard to the young Thomas. “We’ll call you.”

              Thomas looked at her surprised. “Do you mean, should I write my number?”

              Tara rolled her eyes and sighed. “Obvie.” Somehow the good-looking ones didn’t seem to be the brightest tools in the picnic box.

              “But first, we need to finish our coffee.” She took a long sip and grinned at Tara. “Looks like we may have another mysterman on our hands.”



                You may have noticed it – the little purple tags next to your comments are linking them to particular storylines.

                It should help reconnect comments spread across threads, when they belong to a particular storyline. The definition of those is rather fluid, but in general, it tends to revolve about a commonality of protagonist or group of protagonists (they are easy to spot, they are the one(s) driving the storyline plot forward… :yahoo_thinking: ).

                Since the tagging is mostly manual, and there are quite a few homonymous characters, you may still find comments that shouldn’t belong in the storyline. It will take some time to clean. :sweep: :yahoo_hypnotized:

                Of course, some comments do belong to multiple storylines, particularly when there are some cross-overs (e.g. protagonists from the Pop*in story going to the Flying Fish Inn, and meeting Arona!) :kiwi:

                New feature: Complement Storylines

                This new feature is now available ; basically, it should allow you to continue (or insert) on a storyline, especially those long gone… For the storylines that already have their own distinct threads, you don’t need really the feature but you can also use it.

                How to do? :yahoo_idk:

                You can go to a storyline, let’s say… Dead Dick Tracy, Peaslander, etc. :bounce:

                If you find a particular storyline you like that is missing (I guess nobody regrets the Tw’Elves,… but who knows? :yahoo_heehee: )

                You normally will see a little link with the replies. COMPLEMENT. :yahoo_surprise:

                Let’s say you just want to continue the story. You go the last comment, and you click on the COMPLEMENT link of the last comment.

                Normally, if you got there, the hardest remains to do: write a comment. :mummy:
                If all goes well, it’ll be posted in the New found pages thread, a little bit like old time “Circle of Eights” single thread full of unrelated comments, but this time, each one will have a little purple “storyline” tag, that will make it available inside the storyline you selected…



                In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


                  The next quest is going to be a group quest for Zara, Yasmin, Xavier and Youssef. It will require active support and close collaboration to focus on a single mystery at first not necessarily showing connection or interest to all members of the group, but completing it will show how all things are interconnected. It may start inside the game at the hidden library underground the Flying Fish Inn.

                  Quirk offered for this: getting lost in the mines of creativity, and struggle to complete the chapters of the book of Story to a satisfactory conclusion.

                  Quirk accepted.

                  The group finds themselves in the hidden library underground the Flying Fish Inn, surrounded by books and manuscripts. They come across a particularly old and mysterious book titled “The Lost Pages of Creativity.” The book contains scattered chapters, each written by a different author, but the group soon realizes that they are all interconnected and must be completed in order to unlock the mystery of the book’s true purpose.

                  Each chapter presents a different challenge related to creativity, ranging from writing a poem to creating a piece of art. The group must work together to solve each challenge, bringing their individual skills and perspectives to the table. As they complete each chapter, they will uncover clues that lead them deeper into the mystery.

                  Their ultimate goal is to find the missing pages of the book, which are scattered throughout the inn and surrounding areas. They will need to use their problem-solving skills and work together to find and piece together the missing pages in the correct order to unlock the true purpose of the book.

                  To begin, the group is given a clue to start their search for the first missing page: “In the quietest place, the loudest secrets are kept.” They must work together to decipher the clue and find the missing page. Once found, they must insert the corresponding tile into the game to progress to the next chapter. Proof of the insert should be provided in real life.

                  Each of the four characters are provided with a personal clue:

                  Zara: “Amidst the foliage and bark, A feather and a beak in the dark 🌳🍃🐦🕯️🌑”

                  Yasmin: “In the depths of the ocean blue, A key lies waiting just for you 🌊🔑🧜‍♀️🐚🕰️”

                  Xavier: “Seeking knowledge both new and old, Find the owl with eyes of gold 📚🦉💡🔍🕰️”

                  Youssef: “Amongst the sands and rocky dunes, A lantern flickers, a key it looms 🏜️🪔🔍🔑🕯️”

                  Each of these clues hints at a specific location or object that the character needs to find in order to progress in the game.


                  In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys

                  Despite the old man’s endless flow of words, Youssef couldn’t get him to explain what he meant about the abandoned mine and why the town’s people didn’t like people sneaking around and asking questions.

                  Not wanting to waste more time, Youssef walked to the brick building where the twins had disappeared. It was crammed between the telegraph station and a grocery store. The door had been walled with red bricks. They were covered in faded graffitis and layers of torn-up posters. It seemed obvious the wall had been there for quite some time already.

                  The old man was sticking to Youssef like glue, talking about that time when his now dead brother took in an old cat he called Phineas. Youssef tried to growl him away, but the man always came back, persistent as a cloud of mosquitoes over the promise of a blood feast.

                  Youssef tried not to pay attention to him. What did AL said about that quest ? Go ask questions around to town’s people about odd things happening ? Well there were plenty of those things happening. Maybe the clerk at the telegraph station would know something, especially how to get rid of that old man.

                  Youssef pushed the door and entered the telegraph station, leaving the old man outside. The interior was lit with a collection of old style tungsten lamps hanging in a random pattern from the ceiling. 

                  The clerk was busy sorting out a pile of telegrams. Clickety-clack. Clickety-clack. He lifted his head up. The noise stopped and Youssef realised the young man had mechanical hands.

                  “Welcome, welcome, welcome! What can I do for you today, my friend?” asked the clerk.

                  “I just wanted to…” started Youssef.

                  “Wait! Don’t tell me. I’m a bit of a psychic myself and I already know what you’re here for.”


                  The man foraged through his pile of telegram with his mechanical hands and picked one. He looked at it for a few seconds.

                  “My friend, you’re in luck today!” he said, looking intently at Youssef. “I just received this telegram that I think might interest you. Here, take a look!”

                  Youssef took the paper and started to read aloud : “Words spoken by the talkative will unlock the path. Seek those who chatter and unravel the clue. What the…?” 

                  “Interesting, isn’t it? That’s a real head-scratcher, if you ask me!”

                  The door bell rang and the old man entered, holding his sore ribs. 

                  “Get out, Phineas. You’re not welcome here.” said the clerk with a frown.

                  The old man looked at the clerk with an air of confusion before turning to Youssef. “What did he say? Who’s Phineas?” he asked.

                  Ignoring the question, Youssef tried to steer the conversation back to the telegram. “What does this mean?” he asked the clerk.

                  The clerk stroked his chin, looking thoughtful. “Hmm, well, it seems to me that you have a certain magnetism for talkative people. Perhaps that’s the key to unlocking this riddle.”

                  Youssef’s eyes widened in surprise. “What do you mean, magnetism?”

                  The old man interjected, “For sure! You’re like a magnet, my boy. I can’t seem to stop talking when I’m around you.”

                  Youssef rolled his eyes. “So, what do I do? Just wander around town and wait for someone to start talking?”

                  The clerk nodded. “That could be a good start. But if you’re looking for something specific, you might want to try Betsy when you wake up. She’s got a boutique of Gems and Rocks. You seem to like them rocks,” he said pointing at the black obsidian. “Found it in a mine?”

                  The old man’s eyes lit up. “Ah, the old mine! I’ve been there before, you know. My brother used to work there before he died. Strange things happening there.”

                  Youssef’s interest was piqued. “What kind of strange things?”

                  The old man leaned in conspiratorially. “There’s a magnetar hidden in that mine, my boy.”

                  “Shut up! Phineas,” interrupted the clerk. “If you want my advice, stranger, don’t go near the old mine. ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ if you know what I mean.”

                  The telegraph receiver started to make clicketing sounds. The clerk read it and looked at Youssef.

                  “You’ve got a message man. Time to wake up.”

                  “Wake up?”


                  Youssef opened his eyes and looked at a black mass in front of his eyes. He had been sleeping with the stone just beside his head on the pillow. No wonder he had had weird dreams. He heard his phone buzz. He sat up reluctantly and looked at his phone. 8am. A notification that his game progression had been saved and several messages from Miss Tartiflate, the last one saying :

                  Don’t think you can dodge work. I’m still expecting the last blog post you’ve been paid to write!!!”

                  He groaned as reality was starting to catch up.


                  In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys

                  Xavier had woken up in the middle of the night that felt surprisingly alive bursting with a quiet symphony of sounds from nocturnal creatures and nearby nature, painted on a canvas of eerie spacious silence.

                  It often took him a while to get accustomed to any new place, and it was not uncommon for him to have his mind racing in the middle of the night. Generally Brytta had a soothing presence and that often managed to nudge him back to sleep, otherwise, he would simply wake up until the train of thoughts had left the station.

                  It was beginning of the afternoon in Berlin; Brytta would be in a middle of a shift, so he recorded a little message for her to find when she would get back to her phone. It was funny to think they’d met thanks to Yasmin and Zara, at the time the three girls were members of the same photography club, which was called ‘Focusgroupfocus’ or something similar…
                  With that done, he’d turned around for something to do but there wasn’t much in the room to explore or to distract him sufficiently. Not even a book in the nightstand drawer. The decoration itself had a mesmerising nature, but after a while it didn’t help with the racing thoughts.

                  He was tempted to check in the game — there was something satisfactory in finishing a quest that left his monkey brain satiated for a while, so he gave in and logged back in.


                  Completing the quest didn’t take him too long this time. The main difficulty initially was to find the portal from where his avatar had landed. It was a strange carousel of blue storks that span into different dimensions one could open with the proper incantation.

                  As usual, stating the quirk was the key to the location, and the carousel portal propelled him right away to Midnight town, which was clearly a ghost town in more ways than one. Interestingly, he was chatting on the side with Glimmer, who’d run into new adventures of her own while continuing to ask him what was up, and as soon as he’d reached Midnight town, all communication channels suddenly went dark. He’d laughed to himself thinking how frustrated Glimmer would have been about that. But maybe the game took care of sending her AI-generated messages simulating his presence. Despite the disturbing thought of having an AI generated clone of himself, he almost hoped for it (he’d probably signed the consent for this without realising), so that he wouldn’t have to do a tedious recap about all what she’d missed.

                  Once he arrived in the town, the adventure followed a predictable pattern. The clues were also rather simple to follow.

                  The townspeople are all frozen in time, stuck in their daily routines and unable to move on. Your mission is to find the missing piece of continuity, a small hourglass that will set time back in motion and allow the townspeople to move forward.

                  The clue to finding the hourglass lies within a discarded pocket watch that can be found in the mayor’s office. You must unscrew the back and retrieve a hidden key. The key will unlock a secret compartment in the town clock tower, where the hourglass is kept.

                  Be careful as you search for the hourglass, as the town is not as abandoned as it seems. Spectral figures roam the streets, and strange whispers can be heard in the wind. You may also encounter a mysterious old man who seems to know more about the town’s secrets than he lets on.

                  Evading the ghosts and spectres wasn’t too difficult once you got the hang of it. The old man however had been quite an elusive figure to find, but he was clearly the highlight of the whole adventure; he had been hiding in plain sight since the beginning of the adventure. One of the blue storks in the town that he’d thought had come with him through the portal was in actuality not a bird at all.

                  While he was focused on finishing the quest, the interaction with the hermit didn’t seem very helpful. Was he really from the game construct? When it was time to complete the quest and turn the hourglass to set the town back in motion, and resume continuity, some of his words came back to Xavier.

                  “The town isn’t what it seems. Recognise this precious moment where everything is still and you can realise it for the illusion that it is, a projection of your busy mind. When motion resumes, you will need to keep your mind quiet. The prize in the quest is not the completion of it, but the realisation you can stop the agitation at any moment, and return to what truly matters.”

                  The hermit had turned to him with clear dark eyes and asked “do you know what you are seeking in these adventures? do you know what truly matters to you?”


                  When he came out of the game, his quest completed, Xavier felt the words resonate ominously.

                  A buzz of the phone snapped him out of it.

                  It was a message from Zara. Apparently she’d found her way back to modernity.

                  [4:57] “Going to pick up Yasmin at the airport. You better sleep away the jetlag you lazy slugs, we have poultry damn plenty planned ahead – cackling bugger cooking lessons not looking forward to, but can be fun. Talk to you later. Z”

                  He had the impulse to go with her, but the lack of sleep was hitting back at him now, and he thought he’d better catch some so he could manage to realign with the timezone.

                  “The old man was right… that sounds like a lot of agitation coming our way…”


                    “That’s all Jorid had to say?” Georges mused at the sudden philosophical quote that read:

                    And doesn’t this point to something fundamentally tragic about our way of life? We live under an assumed identity, in a neurotic fairy tale world with no more reality than the Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland. Hypnotized by the thrill of building, we have raised the houses of our lives on sand. This world can seem marvelously convincing until death collapses the illusion and evicts us from our hiding place. What will happen to us then if we have no clue of any deeper reality? (The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying)

                    “I don’t know about this Mock Turtle, but those snapping sand ones that have been lurking about do look rather nasty. We shouldn’t waste any more time.”

                    Klatu opined “Klatu agrees with your female, sand turtle are lovely traps of death. Come with me now!” He intimated them to run into a sand opening he’d just made.

                    “Let me guess,” Georges said, “is it the equivalent of a Zathu prison? What powerful people could Léonard possibly have rubbed the wrong way this time?”

                    “Not prison.” Klatu commented “Death sentence.”

                    Salomé pointed out a glowing twirl of sand shaped as an ovoid form, inside which a human form could be discerned. “That would explain why he’s not more guarded…”

                    They approached carefully, expecting some extra booby trap, but nothing seemed to react to their presence, not even the moving sand egg.

                    “Let me guess,” Georges said, expecting a chorus

                    “DIMENSIONAL MAGIC!”

                    Klatu shushed them “Quiet stupids! Sound waves attract good turtles.”

                    “Is our friend OK? How do we break the spell?” Salomé asked Klatu. “Can you help?”

                    Klatu took a few minutes to inspect the shape, hopping carefully around it, and probing with soft whistling sounds.

                    “Friend in stasis for now. Kept fresh for questioning… possible.”

                    “Then we must hurry, how can we free him? Can I brute force this?” Georges asked, looking around for something to pierce the sand barrier and hook Léonard out of it.

                    “Only if you like sushi friend.” Klatu said, raising shoulders. “No finesse these primates.”

                    Klatu moved around the shape, taking some tools from his belt and making some elaborate plaits of sounds, as if trying to match the energy signature of the sand prison.

                    After a first belt of soundwaves was wrapped around, it seemed as though a first layer of the spell broke, and sand rained back into the external construct they were it. But a thin layer was still there, shifting and pulsating, almost clear as glass, and sharp as a razor blade.

                    “Crude encoding, but solid. Need more time.” Klatu seemed exhausted.

                    Georges was getting anxious for some activity. “Houses built on sand… Well I guess Jorid didn’t find the best quote to help…”

                    Salomé who was sitting cross-legged, trying for some time to connect to Léonard in his stasis, turned to Georges in disbelief. “Georges, you’re a genius!”

                    “What now?”

                    “Jorid gave us the last bit we needed.  Until death collapses the illusion and evicts us from our hiding place. Remember? It’s risky but that could work!”

                    “Oh, I see what you’re thinking about. It’s mad, and it’s brilliant at the same time, how do we go about this?”

                    “I can’t reach Léonard, but maybe the both of us can.” Salomé joined hands with Georges.

                    “If he’s like anything I remember, he’d be in his mental palace, his workshop on the Duane… or in Marseille… or with Madame Jamelie…”

                    “Focus, Georges!”

                    “Duane it is, that’s where he did his best work.”

                    “We need to focus our energy to make him appear dead to the construct. It’ll be easier if we can locate precisely where his mind wanders.” Salomé said.

                    “He’ll be there, I know it. Let’s do this!”

                    The two of them joined hands and melded their minds, one as always, turning into a dark mirror of the abyss, bending light unto itself, leaving the void of creation at the place where Léonard was suspended.

                    Klatu looked at the scene suspiciously, but started to giggle as he saw the last layer he couldn’t open finally shatter and dissolve to the ground.

                    “Little apes full of surprises,… very awful, so very awful.” he said approvingly.

                    As his friends rushed to him, Léonard was on the ground, inert, but apparently alive.


                    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys

                    Xavier had been drowsing in the rental car for a while, waiting for a message from Youssef. He’d stopped the aircon despite the suffocating heat, as he was starting to feel cold. And he’d started to nose dive in dreaming.

                    The buzzing of his phone made him snap back to consciousness from the weirdest dream, he had to take a few seconds to adjust. The phone went into silent mode to voicemail before he got the chance to pick it up.

                    Weirdest dream ever. Few hours ago, he’d been going round and round the place, trying to find a library to buy a black book, but surprisingly, even when he’d managed to find a small bookstore, there were none to sell. None with a black cover…

                    He’d wondered —sometimes these quests are made to be difficult, but come on, how difficult could it be. Even a plain black-covered notebook would have been enough, but nothing!

                    That’s when he’d decided to drop the search, that he dozed off in the car.

                    Few images came back from the dream. First, the insane search, and books coming up in all shapes and forms, any color but black… or black but with black-and-white photos on the covers he didn’t want.

                    And then, there was one. He started to open it, and all the pages were blank. As he was browsing them, looking for a clue, like a pop-out book, something came up from the middle of the pages. And it was himself, smiling back at him. The shock snapped him right back to the rather quiet street of Alice Springs.





                    SOOO WEIIIIRD






                    He turned the ignition back on as well as the aircon. Checked his message.

                    • 📨 [Quirk Land] NEW QUEST OPENED
                    • 1 voicemail from ❣️🐝Brytta🐝❣️
                    • 💬 Youssef typing…

                    In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


                      Yasmin offered the following quirk: “sounding like a lunatic when I share synchs” (synchronicity) – getting excited when she gets “answers”, and willing to share generously. She wouldn’t fake it, as she’s not capable of lying and stuff like synchs are sacrosanct in her mind.
                      Setting for the game is the next random quote from the story.

                      Quirk accepted.

                      In the Land of Quirk, Yasmin finds herself in the heart of a hidden library, deep in the basement of the Flying Fish Inn. The library is filled with books and artifacts related to the study of synchronicities and the beyond.

                      As Yasmin delves deeper into the library, she comes across an ancient book that seems to hold the secrets of the universe. She eagerly opens it, but finds that it is written in a code that she cannot understand.

                      The librarian, a wise old owl, appears and greets Yasmin. He tells her that the book is the Key to the Beyond and that only the purest of heart can decode it. He explains that the code can only be unlocked by finding the missing pieces of a puzzle scattered throughout the library.

                      Yasmin’s task is to find the missing pieces of the puzzle and put them together to unlock the code. Along the way, she will meet various characters who will provide her with clues and challenges.

                      Proof of completion in real life: Yasmin must find a real-life object that relates to a synchronicity that she experiences while on her quest in the Land of Quirk. She must then share this synchronicity with her friends at the Flying Fish Inn to prove that she has completed her quest.

                      Good luck, Yasmin!

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