Everyone seems happy about the rain, and I don’t blame them. I’m not daft, I know we need rain but it’s not so easy when you don’t have a home. But I am nothing if not stalwart and stoic, resourceful and adaptable, and I found a good way to keep warm and dry during the downpours. It’s amazing how much heat an animal gives off, so I camp down in stables or kennels when it’s cold and wet. It can get a bit smelly, but it’s warm and dry and when my clothes are damp and stinking I just throw them all away and get some new ones out of the recycling bins. Just to clarify, I find the new clothes first before throwing the ones I’m wearing away. I’m not daft, I know walking around naked would catch attention and I try to stay under the radar. Nobody really notices smelly old ladies wandering around these days anyway, but naked would be another matter.
There’s a stable I really like just outside of town, lots of nice deep clean straw. There’s a white horse in there that knows me now and the gentle whicker of recognition when she sees me warms my heart. I don’t stay there any two nights running though. One thing I’ve learned is don’t do anything too regular, keep it random and varied. I don’t want anyone plotting my movements and interfering with me in any way.
There’s not much to do in a stable when it rains for days and nights on end but remember things, so I may as well write them down. I’m never quite sure if the things I remember are my memories or someone elses, a past life of my own perhaps, or another person entirely. I used to worry a bit about that, but not anymore. Nobody cares and there’s nobody to flag my memories as false, and if there was, I wouldn’t care if they did.
Anyway, the other day while I was nestled in a pile of sweet hay listening to the thunder, I recalled that day when someone offered me a fortune for that old mirror I’d bought at the flea market. I know I hadn’t paid much for it, because I never did pay much for anything. Never have done. I bought it because it was unusual (hideous is what everyone said about it, but people have got very strangely ordinary taste, I’ve found) and because it was cheap enough that I could buy it without over thinking the whole thing. At the end of the day you can’t beat the magic of spontaneity, it out performs long winded assessment every time.
So this man was a friend of a friend who happened to visit and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse so of course I sold the mirror to him. He was so delighted about it that I’d have given him the mirror for nothing if I knew he wanted it that much, but I’m not daft, I took the money. I found out later that he’d won the lottery, so I never felt guilty about it.
Well, after he’d gone I sat there looking at this pile of money in my hands and knew exactly what I was going to do. But first I had to find them. They’d moved again and we’d lost contact but I knew I’d find a way. And I did. They’d given up all hope of ever getting that money back that I’d borrowed, but they said the timing was perfect, couldn’t have been better, they said. It wouldn’t have meant all that much to them if I’d paid it back right away, they said, because they didn’t need it then as much as they did when they finally got it back.
They were strange times back then, and one thing after another was happening all over the world, what with the strange weather, and all the pandemics and refugees. Hard to keep food on the table, let alone make plans or pay debts back. But debt is a funny thing. I felt stung when I realized they didn’t think I intended to pay them back but the fact was, I couldn’t do it at the time. And I wanted it to be a magical perfect timing surprise when I did. I suppose in a way I wanted it to be like it was when they loaned me the money. I remember I wept at the kindness of it. Well I didn’t want them to weep necessarily, but I wanted it to mean something wonderful, somehow. And timing is everything and you can’t plan that kind of thing, not really.
It was a happy ending in the end though, I gave them the whole amount I got for that old mirror, which was considerably more than the loan.
The rain has stopped now and the sun is shining. My damp clothes are steaming and probably much smellier than I think. Time to find a recycling bin and a fresh new look.
“It’s Thursday today,” remarked Star.
“Special subject the bloody obvious?” Tara replied rudely. “You should be on Mastermind.”
“Well, we were wondering what we were going to do to pass the time until Thursday, and here we are. It’s Thursday!”
“Are you losing your marbles?”
“Actually it’s you losing your memory,” Star sighed. “Remember the case?”
“The case we were working on!”
“Oh, that case! Well you can hardly expect me to remember that when it’s been such a strange week!” Tara was starting to get tearful and agitated.
“Look, Tara, the tests came back negative. You can stop worrying about it now. We can go back to normal now and carry on. And just in time for the rendezvous at the cafe on Main Street.” Star patted Tara’s arm encouragingly. “And what timing! If the results hadn’t come back yet, or we’d tested positive, we wouldn’t have been able to go to the cafe.”
“Well we could have gone and just not said anything about the tests,” sniffed Tara. “Everyone else seems to be doing what they want regardless.”
“Yes, but we’re not as morally bankrupt as them,” retorted Star.
Tara giggled. “But we used to work for Madame Limonella.”
“Is it a fancy dress party? I could wear my plague doctor outfit.”
Star rolled her eyes. “No! We have to dress appropriately, something subtle and serious. A dark suit perhaps.”
“Oh like my Ace of Spades T shirt?”
This is going nowhere fast, Star thought, but then had a revelation. A moment later, she had forgotten what the revelation was when the door burst open.
“Ta Da!” shouted Rosamund, entering the office with two middle aged ladies in tow. “I nabbed them both, they were lurking in the queue for the food bank! And I single handedly brought then back. Can we talk about my bonus now?”
One of the ladies piped up, “She said you’d be taking us out for afternoon tea at a nice cafe!”
The other one added, “We haven’t eaten for days, we’re starving!”
The first middle aged lady said, “Oh no dear, it’s September. I’m quite sure of that.”
“Did someone say drinks are on the house?” asked Rosamund, pushing past the burly bouncer as she entered the pub. “What’s your name, handsome?”
“Percival,” the bouncer replied with a wry grin. “Yeah I know, doesn’t fit the image.”
Rosamund looked him up and down while simultaneously flicking a bit of food from between her teeth with a credit card. “I keep forgetting to buy dental floss,” she said.
“Is that really necessary?” hissed Tara. “Is that moving the plot forward?”
“I’ll be away for a while on an important mission,” Rosamund said to Percival, “But give me your number and I’ll call you when I get back.”
“The trip is cancelled, you’re not going anywhere,” Star told her, “Except to the shop to buy dental floss.”
“I’m glad you mentioned it!” piped up a middle aged lady sitting at the corner table. “I have run out of dental floss too.”
“See?” said Rosamund. “You never can tell how helpful you are when you just act yourself and let it flow. Now tell me why I’m not going to New Zealand? I already packed my suitcase!”
“Because it seems that New Zealand has come to us,” replied Star, “Or should I say, the signs of the cult are everywhere. It’s not so much a case of finding the cult as a case of, well finding somewhere the cult hasn’t already infected. And as for April,” she continued, “She changes her story every five minutes, I think we should ignore everything she says from now on. Nothing but a distraction.”
“That’s it!” exclaimed Tara. “Exactly! Distraction tactics! A well known ruse, tried and tested. She has been sent to us to distract us from the case. She isn’t a new client. She’s a red herring for the old clients enemies.”
“Oh, good one, Tara,” Star was impressed. Tara could be an abusive drunk, but some of the things she blurted out were pure gold. Or had a grain of gold in them, it would be more accurate to say. A certain perspicacity shone through at times when she was well lubricated. “Perhaps we should lock her back in the wardrobe for the time being until we’ve worked out what to do with her.”
“You’re right, Star, we must restrain her….oy! oy! Percival, catch that fleeing aunt at once!” April had made a dash for it out of the pub door. The burly bouncer missed his chance. April legged it up the road and disappeared round the corner.
“Oh I say, that’s going a bit far,” interjected the middle aged lady sitting at the corner table.
“What’s it got to do with you?” Tara turned on her.
“This,” the woman replied with a smugly Trumpish smile. She pulled her trouser leg up to reveal a bell bird tattoo.
“Oh my fucking god,” Tara was close to tears again.JibParticipant
“Finnley, stop pacing like that with that concerned look of yours, you make me dizzy. Is that too difficult a task to hire a secretary?”
“You mean the perfect one for me?”
“No I mean, she’s called Pearl. She’ll start tomorrow. What concerns me is something else entirely. Something strange, if you ask me. But you never ask, so I’m telling you.”
“Well, this whole conversation started because I asked you.”
“You asked me because you thought it was related to your previous request.”
“Then tell me and stop brooding. It’s killing the mood.”
Finnley snorted. “If you want to know, someone is throwing things on the balcony. Children things. The other day I found that cheap toy to make soap bubbles. And then it was a small blue children’s plastic sand shovel. And today they dropped a red bucket.”
“I’ve asked Godfrey and I’m positive it’s not him because it’s driving him nut too. We asked Roberto because he’s been attempting to teach tricks to the dogs. A waste of time if you ask me, letting the garden going to the dogs,” she smirked.
“Then, was it Roberto and the dogs?”
“Not at all! We kept an eye on him while he was training the dogs. Nothing. But the objects keep coming. I’m telling you either we have a ghost or a portal to another dimension in this mansion.”
“That sounds like a nice idea,” said Liz, pouting at the possibilities.
“You wouldn’t say that if another you came into this thread.”
Board 10, Story 1
The maids escapees of Versailles timeline venture in strange lands and go to extreme lengths to find adequate food. “Didn’t the time GPS say to turn left at your peril?”
Ascended Master Floverly goes about her duties to paint and inspire the world a better place by applying Herself entirely lovingly to the most demanding tasks. “A whole new world / A new fantastic point of view…”
“Do you think I should go back and get those dolls?” Dillie asked.
Lucinda hadn’t hesitated. “Yes. Go back and get them.” She nearly said, and look inside. “And look for more dolls.”
Then she changed the subject, not wanting to sound too pushy or eager. Or desperate, god forbid. It was important to ensure that Dilly didn’t give the dolls away on impulse or something, she was like that. Somehow Lucinda had to make sure Dillie would keep them safe and well hidden until such time as she could travel again, but without her having to spill the beans entirely. She decided to play it by ear.
Then she realized she didn’t remember what the beans were anyway.JibParticipant
Boredom rang the bell in the morning and I made the mistake of opening the door. I should have known better in this confinement time, they said the postman should leave the package at the door, or be at least at 2 to 3 meters from it when we open. Apparently boredom didn’t receive the notice, and I opened the door and let it in.
Once it was there, nothing seemed interesting enough. I tried to show my guest a movie, or a series. New ones, old ones, none seemed to satisfy its taste. Even the expensive tea I opened just for the occasion and made for my guest tasted duller than gnat’s pee. I thought gnat’s pee might have been more exciting as I would have welcomed it as a new experience, but I’m certain it wasn’t that new to boredom.
Boredom is like a crowd, it amplifies the bad mood, and paint dull all that it touches. I had received a set of twelve chromo therapy glasses, all making a beautiful rainbow in the box. I remembered being so excited when I had received that set, all those moments I would spend looking at the world in different colours. Why did I wait? Now I couldn’t even get close to the box. Boredom seemed so comfortable now that I felt tired at the idea of driving it out of my couch, not to mention driving it out of my apartment entirely.
Boredom had not been passive as one could have thought. It had diligently painted everything in a shade of dull which made it hard for anything to catch my attention. Everything looked the same, I had become fun blind. Only the window started to look like a satisfactory exit. I had to trick my mind in thinking it too would be boring.
But at the end of the afternoon the phone rang. I looked boredom into the dull of its eyes. I almost got drowned in it again almost losing any interest to answer. It made it drop its guard and I seized the moment to jump on my mobile. It was a friend from Spain.
“You won’t believe it!” she said.
I looked boredom in the eyes and I clearly could see it was afraid of what was coming. It was begging for mercy.
“Try me,” I said to my friend.
“I got a swarm of bees gathering on the top of my roof patio! I swear there are hundreds of them.”
“What?” I was so surprised that I looked away through the window and lost sight of boredom. When I looked back at the couch, boredom was not there. I looked around trying to see if it could have hidden somewhere while my friend was talking about having put the dogs in the shed, not daring go feed the cats on the rooftop with all those bees swarming around. I could hear her hubbie in the background “Oh my! I think they are building something.”
My imagination worked faster than a pandemic and it had already built a manhattan beehive project. Despite my disbelief I had to face the fact that there were no traces of dull places anymore around me. I could almost see the swarm of bees getting the last touch in cleaning the dull-art boredom had crafted around so plainly while it was there.
“Send me some pictures,” I said. “I want pictures!”
Truth be told, April was missing the US. She missed all their little coterie of maids living in the shadows of the powerful. Missed the drama most of all.
She’d been secretly texting Norma and May, while June was lazily sipping mojitos with Jacqui.
Norma was fine, but May and the other alien staff had suddenly disappeared when the Secret Services had started to investigate more deeply into the staff’s backgrounds after all the kidnapping fiasco. At least, August had been covering for Norma, such kind soul he was. Besides, the President’s wife could no longer live without her butter chicken. But May and the others couldn’t face the music apparently. Funnily, they couldn’t find “real” American maids nowadays suited to replace them. Good luck with that!
April couldn’t tell June, obviously, since her friend harboured such hatred for the system that had them put in jail. As for herself, she couldn’t argue with the fact they’d deserved it. Nothing a good lawyer couldn’t fix though. That’s why she loved the idea of America. Guilty as charged, indeed. Those charges now vanished.
She’d thought first that it would fuel her inspiration nicely, but it was the opposite. The sudden extra time had distracted her entirely, and her inspiration seemed inaccessible.
She was starting to make up her mind. She would go back, to her family in Arkansas. That could only be temporary of course, as her mother, bless her soul, would start to have her meet all the gents in the neighbourhood in the hopes to finally get her only daughter married. Talk about drama. If that doesn’t kick-start her inspiration engine, nothing would.
Problem was, with the virus around spreading mass panic, there seemed to be no sure way to fly back. She would have to devise some circuitous plan.
Looking at the exasperated voices of his captors, Barron needn’t know how to speak Spanish to be entirely certain he was in over his head.
He wondered why the negotiators hadn’t been brought in already; the plan was simple —well, initially. He was to get a cut of the ransom, and disappear with it in some nice sunny resort in the South. Like the extreme South, not Alabama South.
Someone must have interfered… He could have sworn there was a woman’s voice with a funny accent speaking to them before she hung up on them.
Well, at the moment, he had a group of angry Frenchmen and Mexicans in a smelly rillettes distillery with a useless baby on their hands. He knew too well that if he wanted to keep all his limbs, he’d have to improvise quickly. Good thing they hadn’t removed his eye-watch. By now, as inept as they’d be, the two nannies should have got his GPS coordinates.
Well… They had trouble spelling their names without typos at times so he’d better not leave that to chance.
He started to text:
SOS - baby in danger at Rillettes Distillery, Alabama
He added the GPS coordinates, just in case; now, with help possibly on the way, he’d have to prepare that distraction in order to extract himself of his predicament.
“Albie, wake up, sweetie!”
“It’ll take him a day or two to recover. This was a psychic attack the scale of which I haven’t seen before.” Arona was assessing the situation. Luckily for her, the old protective spells woven in the cloak that she’d used to make her hijab had protected her from it. Sanso seemed to have been hit more, although the effects varied and honestly, it was always a bit difficult to be a fair judge of his sanity or lack thereof.
“Strange things happen around these keys.” Mandrake said pointing at the key that Arona was wearing around her neck. “Are you sure you still want to run around places finding the others? Especially after what Fergus said about them?”
“I never knew you to pussy out like that” she said with a smile “where’s your sense of adventure?”
“The point is, I wouldn’t know where to start. It was all supposed to be a simple recon mission, wasn’t it? But that energy surge… Something else entirely; maybe we should leave it to Ed Steam and his team.”
Mandrake stretched lazily, and continued “I wouldn’t feel bad about them, seems they got the hang of living in a ghost town, they don’t need all the action to feel good. Might end up wake up the underground monsters, if you let them.”
“Oh, that’s smart. From the Doline’s vortex, it’ll be much easier to pick up the energy signature of the other keys, check if they haven’t been moved.”
“Better pray that they haven’t been moved, or found.”
The path ahead was blocked. Repeatedly.
Some filter was preventing him to access the path, and move forward.
He wished he had an oiliphant, or something equally powerful that could blast through. But more subtle measures were required. The evil that blocked his path was a different kind of monster, something built on inaction, and slow decay. One would exhaust oneself to argue with it, and moving it with force would only ensure its full and entirely focused resistance.
Patience and proper action, in a flow like water. It was more than a magical mantra, it should be a way of life.
Rukshan had looked at his options, and the map he found only confirmed what he had surmised so far. There were three barmkins, old defensive enclosures that hindered his way out of the Zaunoff Camp Fort, the Southern outpost leading to the safety of the Forest’s outer groves.
Tackling the first wall would test his resolve, but he was ready. He removed his cloak, stretched his back and cracked his knuckles.
Move like water
The creeping ivy and catsfoot flowers started to react and whisper in the wind.
A hole? There was a hole in the old wall, and with some chance, the plants would lead him through.
Godfrey laughed good naturedly…
“Of course, your story kept changing like a rainbow after a tornado. We really got to focus to grasp it entirely, us poor humans.”
As he stood by the window, looking at the piglets he seemed to be the only one capable of discerning, entered with a spring Paul Anna, the fashion journalist who had booked an appointment for a groundbreaking Liz’ interview.
Finnley shrugged loudly toward the door she closed, her throat dry from the black soot of her latest cleaning adventure.
The late arrived journalist of stylish and powerful people looked greedily at the room, not impressed in the slightest, wondering what sort of question she would ask that could be easily twisted into a scandalous piece of rumour mill fodder.
The sack got heavier with each step, as the old abandoned characters grew in anticipation, sending long tendrils through the loose weave of the hessian. The extra weight didn’t slow Roberto down, in fact he felt invigorated and inspired with something more interesting to do than pander to the others in that madhouse of Elizabeth.
One particularly persistent shoot near the top of the sack kept winding itself around Roberto’s neck, and when he unwound it repeatedly, it would jiggle as he walked and poke him in the eye, before curling itself back around his neck.
I wonder which character you will turn out to be when we get you planted, he admonished the tendril goodnaturedly, for it was a gentle twining around his neck, and playful.
As the gardener walked, appreciating the puffy white clouds scudding across the baby blue sky and the bird twittering and swooping, he felt a sense of purpose and depth that had been missing from his life in recent years. It had been entertaining at the madhouse, but only superficially. He had felt destined for more than raking leaves and pruning roses. Now he had a mission, and felt lighter at the same time as feeling very much more substantial.
The twining tendril round his neck suddenly thrust our several more pale green leaves, obscuring Roberto’s vision entirely. He was chuckling affectionately as he fell into the sink hole, and as he fell, the sack burst open, scattering the characters willy nilly into the vast underground cavern that he found himself in.
His sleep had been deep. When he emerged, he felt as if ages had passed in his dreams. The Queen had left, only the evanescent scent of her in the sheets made him certain that no longer than a night had passed.
He could barely remember the dreams, already swirling in the chilly air like wisps of incense smoke, drawing ever-changing figures that a single careless breath would destroy forever. The tip of his remembrance was still incandescent, but it was formless, irreconcilable with the volutes of images dancing in his mind.
There were many lives he had lived in that night of feverish dreams, and he had the strange feeling that these were sent by the Hermit. With the overflow of lives lived, only lingered a sense of calm and fulfillment. A sense of a change of destination.
He had not remembered who the Queen knew he was, not entirely, but glimpses remained, obscured by an old curse. She couldn’t tell him, he had to remember by himself, and all his accumulated knowledge was worthless to divine the precious hidden gem of self-knowledge.
At least, her gift was that of perspective. He had erred aimless in the forests, and meeting the Hermit was an excuse to extract him from the rites and rut of his old life. The ghosts in his wake wouldn’t lay to rest without his reclaiming his power.
It was time to drink the potion that had been offered —which had a fiery copper colour now, and see which direction it would point to.
The cave’s entrance was glowing in a golden light. The fresh snow had blanketed the entrance that the midday sun was bathing with warm rays through the fog.
The cave was hanging perilously on the precarious slopes of the mountainous ranges, where only a few woolly goats could safely reach its heights without fear of breaking their necks. It was a safe haven for the Hermit.
Below the cave, the vast expanse of the Forest was almost entirely white, except for its fringe, far from the mountains, where the cities had flowered, and except from its center, the darker Dragon Heartwood with its reds and greens that seemed almost black in contrast.
She was known as the Hermit by most of the Faes living in the forest, a honorary title if not slightly belittling when they called her that. To others, she was often known by different colorful names. Sometimes when she was seen flying in her bird skin, accompanying the giant raptor birds from the plateaus with her long white hair flowing to the wind, surveying from above the life of the land, she would gain other names as well.
Her shaman name was Kumihimo, or weaver of threads. In the cave, many threads were carefully hanged onto a long line, without particular noticeable pattern, either by colors and material. All were different. Her birds friends, big or smaller would often bring her threads from many great distances. She would hang them here, without particular care, or so it seemed to the naked eye.
It had been a long time she had weaved any of them, or had the impulse to.
But she had dreamt.
She never dreamt. To dream for her was a matter of crucial importance.
She had dreamt of seven threads.
It was time she made a new braid.
Yorath was still trying to explain the nature of forests, the rekindled understanding of the woodland habitats, the memory storing capacity of the vegetation in a vast network of twining tendrils and roots and so on, when Lobbocks burst into the room. Leroway had been finding himself unable to detach the workings of his mind from the contraptions he could assemble himself to control the natural states, and welcomed the interruption. If only Yorath would get to the point, he’d thought impatiently, then I could prepare to devise a solution ~ thereby entirely missing the point, although he didn’t realize it.
But here was Lobbocks, announcing a problem that required a solution, which was much more in line with Leroway’s thinking. As he listened to the tale of the stone statue now animated and angry, he immediately started to plan a device to capture, restrain and subdue it, to keep it from harming any of the citizenry.
Eleri, however, revealing herself from her eavesdropping position behind the door, had other ideas.
“I must speak to him!” she said. “I must know how he animated himself, without the aid of any of my ingredients.”
“Not to mention his vengeful attitude,” added Yorath. “Imagine if this happens again, to other stone statues and creatures.”
“Indeed we do, Yorath! I had considered the animation, purely from a physical capacity for movement standpoint, but I had not given much thought to the emotional condition in a reanimation process after a prolonged inanimate state. Oh hello, Leroway,” she added, noticing his look of surprise.
“Should I get a posse together to follow him then,” interjected Lobbocks, as Leroway and Eleri exchanged banal pleasantries about how long it had been since they’d met, “Because I think he’s looking for your workshop in the valley.”
Eleri ignored Leroway’s suggestion that she stay in the village while he conducted the mission to capture the statue, stating that she was leaving for home immediately, gratefully accepting Yorath’s announcement that he would accompany her. She went back up to attic to fetch her things, and stood at the window for a moment, looking up at the castle walls.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just walk in the other direction, and not look back? The temptation hovered, almost as tangible as the scent of orange blossom in the air. What was it that was keeping her here all these years? She was a wanderer by nature, or at least she had been. Were those days really gone? While everyone around her had been lightening their loads, ridding themselves of unnecessary baggage, loosening their ties, she’d done the opposite.
Sighing, she picked up her bag. She would return home.
The sky had darkened ominously as Yorath and Leroway stood chatting beside the toll booth, thunder rumbling in the distance. Yorath nodded politely as the old mayor described the contraption he was currently working on, a team of mechanical Bubot’s capable of cutting quantities of bamboo swiftly, for the construction of sunshades and pleasure rafts and the many other things that could easily be made out of the versatile plant, for the pleasure, leisure, comfort and entertainment of his townspeople.
With one eye on the approaching storm, Yorath asked where Leroway had in mind for the harvest. Surely the bold innovator wasn’t thinking of sending the Bubot’s to cut swathes of the bamboo forest down.
“What’s that you say, public approval?” Leroway beamed, missing his point. “They’re going to love it!” He went on to describe at length his plans for making use of the canes for the public good.
The first fat drops of rain plopped down. Yorath made peace with the idea of a thorough soaking as it was entirely inevitable at this juncture, and continued to listen, showing no indication of impatience. There were more important things at stake here than wetting ones jacket, even if it was a rare igglydupat silk in a shade of iridescent primrose yellow ~ that was, incidentally, a good match for the tundercluds flowering at his feet, not to mention the encroaching eerily sunlit thunderclouds rapidly approaching. For a brief moment his attention wandered from the inventors monologue, engulfed as he was in the effervescent yellow sensation.
“This is all so very interesting,” Yorath interrupted, having a brainwave, “That I am going to make a detour, and come and visit your town. Lead on, my good man!”
Leroway beamed, once again misinterpreting the travelers meaning.
The trip to the city would have to wait.
Eleri tried harder to focus on what Yorath was saying but she couldn’t keep her eyes off his red silk jacket. Eventually he realized the problem, and slipped the jacket off his shoulders, folded it neatly, and placed it in his travelling bag. Noticing Eleri’s widening eyes following the jackets movements, he zipped the bag closed and the tantalizing colour disappeared from sight.
“As I was saying,” Yorath continued. He now had Eleri’s full attention. “Don’t ask me where I procure it from, because I can’t divulge my sorcerers, er, sources. But I can promise a steady, if not unlimited, supply.”
“More tea, dear?” Eleri refilled his cup. “I’m very interested in the antigravity properties because you see, this stuff is so darned heavy. The heaviness has it’s benefits, in fact the weight of stone is one of the attractions. But during the creation process it could be extremely useful, not to mention the transportation aspect.”
Yorath smiled, nodding agreement. “Indeed, not to mention the expanded possibilities and abilities of the finished products.”
“The thing is,” asked Eleri, “Can it be programmed? There are times when heavy is entirely appropriate, and times when the anti gravity component would be welcome and beneficial.”
“The Overseer has been working on it, but he got in a bit of a muddle with it. You see, it’s a delicate combination of technology and magic. The combination has to be just right. Not too much technology without enough magic, but neither too much magic and not enough technology.”
“Oh dear,” sighed Eleri. “I’m afraid my technological know-how is nil. Well, almost nil,” she added. She knew how to mix colours, for example. Was that considered technical? She didn’t know, but felt despondent now about her ability to use the new ingredient.
“All that’s needed is a little more tinkering with the programming, and with a bit of luck,” Yorath snickered a bit at the word luck and continued, “I should be able to find just the right spell to go with it, to activate the technology.”
“Even though Elerium represents the hopes of a generation, the dream of a united world, and the struggle for human survival?” Yorath asked with a twinkle in his eye.
“Well, if you put it like that, how can I refuse? How soon can you acquire the right spell to go with it?”
“Leave it with me,” he replied.
“…..salt free inquisition born of effete privilege…”
Dispersee shook her head and cackled to herself while reading Stinks Mc Fruckler’s (a double agent posing as a descended trickster) report.
“These dupes, so arrogant in their idiocy have become an incredibly powerful voice which effects us all, this being why I rail against them, they are the new repulsive face of self righteous sanctimonious evangelism, a salt free inquisition born of effete privilege, modern day ill informed witch-burners intent on removing choice, blocking scientific advances….”
Stinks may well get lynched for that one, she thought with a fond smile. Nobody expects to get away with criticizing the salt free inquisition. It was a position only a former salt smuggler would understand, as Dispersee well knew. “Salt of the Earth” was a well known turn of phrase (though not nearly as amusing as “salt free inquisition born of effete privilege” as turns of phrase go), but few took to heart the actual meaning. It was to be a good few years yet before the Return of the Salt to the turbulent planet, and salt, for the meantime, was still public enemy number one in the collective mind.
Dispersee closed the report and turned her attention to her own.
Despite her demonstration with the pool (complete with illustrations), throwing spoons haphazardly into the murky pool with no regard for the hidden fishes and broken chairs in the depths of the dirty water, despite the resulting swarm of earthquakes, only a handful of individuals understood the point she had been trying to demonstrate with regard to what was known in new age circles as “pooling” ~ not to be confused with team flow, which was something else entirely. (The fact that she had not understood what she was illustrating at the time, merely following a strange impulse, was neither here nor there ~ the point was quite obvious in retrospect, which was all that mattered).
Pooling had become almost as popular as the Salter lynchings, and the unfortunate common denominator was “best intentions” ~ best intentions, vaguely pasted hearts, and no real understanding or questioning of the contents of the pool they were all diving into. The Pool Lemmings dived in one after another without washing off their associations, weighed down with their constructs and baggage, splashing the foul slime outside the pool where it seeped into the common water table, tainting the entire neighbourhood. The best intentions sank to the depths, perhaps to be fished out by an especially skilled fisherman of best intentions, but likely not. It was the clingy slippery algae of the associations that really thrived, and they attached themselves and flowed back out of the pool. Really it was a mess. Even her practical demonstrations of non return valves and two way valves had gone over their heads (as had the contaminated water).
The second part of her demonstrations had been to illustrate the importance, and indeed the beauty, of bubbles ~ dewdrops suspended along webs ~ connected via gossamer thin but extremely strong networks, perfect reflective bubbles that kept their shape and individual purpose, rather than forming a dank puddle of slime in the overflowing muddy ditch. Admittedly Dispersee has not been aware of what she was demonstrating at the time, she was just following another strange impulse.
She decided to finish her report tomorrow, and await todays strange impulse for further information.
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