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  • #5819
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Hello Whale,

    Coming from the computer world that makes it a pun of sort. I’m overloaded with whales nowadays. They’re everywhere. Are you involved? Or were they around all along? I must say I never paid too much attention to whales before. Now it’s a sticker on the asphalt when I get out of the metro to my daily rendez-vous with myself at the café. Or an advertisement of a winking whale on a bus side for a whale cruise near Canada. Or a friend this morning who called me to tell his dream: A Ballistic Whale shut through huge distance in space, it was angry and ever arriving.

    Let me think that something big is coming.

    I ordered a macchiato and the waiter had made a funny whale design with the foamed cream. When I asked he said he didn’t know why because he had never made it before. I could see it. And it looked angrier as the foam melted. I decided not to pay too much attention to the whale, focusing my attention instead on finding a friend in the passing crowd. Lots of students that day. A group of girl came and stopped right in front of me, chatting loudly. I started to feel irritated and looked at them angrily. One of them saw my face and turned to tell something to her friends. I saw the blue whale keyring hanging from her backpack zipper. They all looked at me and laughed.

    I think I’m whale cursed.

    #5761
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Curiouser and curiouser” said Blithe after Hilda and Ric’s call led the improvised investigation to the doors of the Beige House. “It’s like those huge bills, I tend to find myself at the places I hate the most.”

    The clue trails were solid. Track marks led to the Carpet cleaning business, and by following the plates of the van, and interrogating the suspicious yet gossipy neighbours (once she produced her P.I. badge), it was just a matter of time before they tracked the van’s whereabouts into Washingtown.

    “I wonder what business they could have had there…”

    Ricardo was doing his part too, tracking the social media feeds for anything hashtagged. Difficult to sort through, yet something came up.

    Hilda, what do you think?” he showed the distracted journalist his finding. “Two au pairs arrested for credit fraud and a French maid wanted in relation with illegal immigration & anchor baby case.”

    “I’m not sure, usually I would have jumped at the occasion…” Hilda was showing unusual restraint. Maybe the perspective of US prisons…

    Thankfully Blithe Gambol raised to the challenge. “Of course, we must check that out. Can’t be a coincidence. Just… Remind me what the case was already?”

    #5736
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Shivering, the two women stood at the bus stop, suitcases standing beside them.

    “What are we going to do now, April?” June was finding the abrupt dismissal unsettling, annoying.  It wasn’t their fault the kid disappeared.  “Why on earth are you grinning like that?  Where are we going to go?”

    “We’re going to stay with my sister in Australia,” replied April with a happy sigh.

    “What, now? Are you mad? The place is a disaster zone!”

    “Can’t be any more of a disaster than the place we just got fired from.”

    June couldn’t argue with that. “Does she know we’re coming?”

    April shook her head. “Oh no, it’s going to be a surprise. Oh my, she’ll be surprised.”

    “Whereabouts in Australia?”

    “Melbourne.  Melbourne, here we come!”

    #5659
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “You know, I wasn’t initially fond of this idea, GodfreyElizabeth said, while looking at Roberto doing the dishes. A bit unusual of her to spend time in the kitchen, probably her least favourite room in the house, but she was keen to revise her judgment as the view was never as entertaining.

    Godfrey was finishing a goblet full of cashews while leafing through the “Plot like it’s hot” new book from the publishing house that Bronkel had sent autographed and dedicated to Liz “without whom this book may have never seen the light of day”.

    Godfrey, are you listening to me? You can’t be distracted when I talk to you, I may say something important, and don’t count on me to remember it afterwards. Besides, what’s with the cashews anyway?”

    “Oh, I read they’re good natural anti-depressant… Anyway, you were saying?”

    “You see, like I just said, you made me lose my stream of thought! And no… the view is for nothing in that.” She winked at Roberto who was blissfully unaware of the attention. “Yes! I was saying. About that idea to write Finnley in the new novel. Completely rash, if you’ve had asked before. But now I see the benefit. At least some of it.”

    “Wait, what?”

    “Why are you never paying attention?”

    “No, no, I heard you. But I never… wait a minute.” The pushy ghostwriting ghostediting, and most probably ghostcleaning maid (though never actually seen a proof of that last one) had surely taken some new brazen initiative. Well, at least Liz wasn’t taking it too badly. There maybe even was a good possibility she was trying hard to stay on continuity track about it. Godfrey continued “Benefit, you said?”

    “Yes, don’t make me repeat myself, I’ll sound like a daft old person if ever a biopic is made of me, which by the way according to Bronkel is quite a probability. He’s heard it from a screenwriter friend of his, although his speciality is on more racy things, but don’t get me carried away. The benefit you see, and I’ve been reading Bronkel’s stupid book, yes. The benefit is… it moves the plot forward, with ‘but therefore’ instead of ‘and then’. It adds a bit of spice, if you get what I mean. Adds beats into the story. Might be useful for my next whydunit.”

    Godfrey was finding her indeed lingering a tad too obviously on the ‘but‘ and their beats, but abstained from saying anything, and nodded silently, his mouth full of the last of the cashews.

    Liz pursed her lips “Well, all this literature theory is a great deal of nonsense, you know my stance on it; I made my success without a shred of it…”

    “Maybe you’re a natural” Godfrey ventured.

    “Maybe… but then, they’ve got some points, although none as profound as Lemone’s. His last one got me pondering: finckleways is not a way in, delete it or it’ll get you locked out; only flove exists now. “

    #5609
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Finnley

    Finding the baby makes me believe there might be a god after all.

    The maid was playing it cool but I could tell she’d been quaking in her beaded slippers. The baby was not so happy to be found, screaming fit to bust.

    I have to shout over the racket. “Where can I find Mr August?”

    She looks down her long nose at me. “Mr August does not see you without an appointment.”

    You would think that, seeing as I had found the baby and all, she could be a little more accommodating. I resist an urge to grab the brat from her and chuck it out on the street again. I console myself with the thought that, if I get the job, I am going to be Miss Fancy-Slipper’s boss, so it’s no wonder she’s a little frosty.

    What am I saying? If?

    Acutally, I’m feeling pretty confident. I’m wearing my lucky knickers and I’ve got enough faked references to fill a suitcase. You could say I am oozing confidence. I probably need to tone it down a notch; that’s one thing I learned at my last job working for a crazy romance writer with delusions of grandeur: People don’t like competition.

    And I’m competition.

    “Thanks,” I say when she finally deigns to point me in the right direction. “Oh, and I think you’ll find his nappies need changing.”

    #5590
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    His trip had changed him, Rukshan realized. He doubted it at first, don’t all journeys change the traveller?

    This one had been peculiar, his life had never felt more on the line. Now, even the feeling of this place he now called a home was contrasting.

    He wasn’t despondent, but he wasn’t sure where to focus his energy now. The World outside didn’t lack causes to fight for; that much was a given. The Great Fires in the South had taken a toll on the Austral Dry Lands and started to menace the Great Forest borders. The Heartswood would be safe for now, but with the villagers’ rampant deforestation, what would be next? He was glad to hear that Eleri & Hasamelis were not short of ideas and clever contraptions to tackle the matter.

    Yet, his cause was not this one, though it did stir his heart with sadness and longing.

    Tak and Nesy had come back from school. He was glad to see them so full of life and well-adjusted. Nesy was coming into her powers, even if they stemmed from a dark place, she’d found ways to use them gracefully, listening to nature. For one, Eleri had seen early the appeal of using Nesingwarys’ fear-inducing power to shroud the place and repel Leroway and his thugs. Nesy didn’t like too much to use her powers that way. It would also affect the birds and it made Glynis sad that the place was so silent at times.

    For now, both were pleased to join the team and the little Snoots towards the effort at rebuilding Gorrash.
    All were focused on finding a way to get enough pink clay. They’d started to realize that there was not enough stock left around, and the main supply source was from the now scorched & sooty Austral lands.

    This was a good cause for now.

    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Pitch: June and April are two au pair middle-aged ladies with a penchant for lavish parties and copious drinking, who after being sacked from many places due to their poor manners and laisser-aller in their duties, have finally landed a dream job at the Washingtown Beige House, to take care of the often vacant whereabouts of the Lump Family, and chiefly of their baby Barron, the pride of Pres. Lump. The pay is nice, so long as they keep the Boss happy.
    Their main concerns are the Indian maid Noor Mary (Norma) Chowdhury, who has a PhD in Social Studies, but has had difficulties finding a better job, and doesn’t see too well the intrusion of the new staff. They also have to deal with August, the chief of staff, who collects golf balls and pewter memorabilia from the Civil War.
    They are unaware, but there biggest trial yet to come is a dangerous Mexican cartel on their way to kidnap baby Barron…

    June felt like excitement, while April was more modestly quiet, currently absorbed in reading with horror the news about the fires; April had a sister there, married to an Australian and very fundamental Christian in her beliefs. Over the years, they’d stopped being able to communicate… Crazy to think about all the fires down there — and by down there, she didn’t mean down there, but rather down “down there.” Actually, it was a long time since there had been any fires there, if she didn’t count the last infection…

    “Hold that thought…” June interrupted, while sipping her cognac. It was medicinal, she kept repeating to nobody in particular but herself, Back Blossom infusions to calm her nerves. They had to be kept in something, so why not cognac. “You did mention something about a party tonight? But what are we going to do about the baby?”

    April did ponder for a second but the response was actually obvious. “Don’t worry about baby Barron, we’ll instruct the dog to keep guard, and I’ll put an EyeWatch on his wrist with your number on speed dial in case anything happens.”

    “Brilliant! I wonder why I didn’t think of it myself. Let’s get ready. Really, that family is a blessing; never on our backs, always travelling everywhere, leaving us partying to all the fancy places in Washingtown. Sure, the only bother is to take care of these pesky kids.”

    “True. All the maids and au pairs in the neighbourhood make for a good network. It’s a nice life.” April pondered and added. Although the Boss is a bit lewd, if you tell me.”

    “Really? With his orange face and his five orders of periwigs?” June sounded surprised, and a bit disappointed not to have been able to notice.

    “But the one we should really worry about is the maid, if you ask me. Good thing the boss can’t understand her English, otherwise she would have ratted us out long ago.”

    June smiled mischievously. “Oh, but she better watch her six this one, you’ll leave her to me.”

    #5357
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Isn’t it a pretty loo?” Glynis was marveling at the marble work, and the exquisite boiseries. “Master Guilbert really outdid himself.” Fox opined.

    The jinx on the cottage loo was finally lifted, and not before the hiemal cold had settled in, right before the Sol Invictus festivities.

    Meanwhile, they’ve had occasional updates from Rukshan, who was exploring the Land of the Giants. He’d mentioned in his last telebat echoing that he’d found the elusive Master creator of Gorrash, and had hope for the dwarf. The magic binding the stones was strong he’s said, although some additional magic would help speed up the recovery process which otherwise would take probably centuries if not millennia.

    Glynis had looked at the requirements; it only said

    ‘strong magic, born from pain, hardened in gems
    – dissolve in pink clay, mix well and apply generously’
    .

    None of her magic had seemed to fit. Pain, she’d had plenty, but her magic was born from the water element, emotions, plants and potions. She went to the nearby Library, their restricted section of applied magic was scarce, nothing really applicable there. Honestly, if she’d known her whereabouts, it would have been a task better suited to Eleri. Her kind of area of expertise with concrete and iron work and stone paints was a bit more unpredictable though; it could end up do more damage to Gorrash’s continuity than else; she’d quickly put that impetuous idea to rest.

    Glynis was still mulling over, thinking about finding a solution when she noticed a gaunt figure was at the door. It took her a few seconds to realize it wasn’t a stranger, but a familiar friend. Rukshan had returned, although verily worn down by his travails, with a full grown beard that gave him a seriouser look. Without thinking, she went to hug him. Such unusual display of affection did surprise the Fae who was beeming.

    He smiled widely at Glynis and showed her an unusually large ampoule: “I’ve found the kind of magic our friend needs. These three Giant’s gallstones weren’t a picnic to obtain, I can tell you.”

    “I can’t wait to hear all about this exciting story.” interrupted Eleri.

    #4773
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Albie, wake up, sweetie!”

    “He doesn’t seem to have been hit as hard as the others, yet, he doesn’t look very bright…” Mandrake said to Arona, with a hint of concern behind the usual snark.

    “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.”

    Arona sighed “You still have a few of these pearls left, do you? Then let’s give Albie a day or two to recuperate, and we’ll bring him back to the Doline.”

    “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.”

    #4755
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Welcome, Everyone!” said Mater. She had entered unnoticed and was standing in the doorway regarding the assembled group and looking rather more lewd than welcoming. She had worn a pantsuit for the occasion, a relic from the 70’s made of red garbardine. Fortunately, the forgiving nature of garbardine added a little stretch, but even so the cloth clung rather too tightly to Mater’s curves.
    “Oh, lord love ya! “ said Finly. “Look at you! You’ve not dusted that pantsuit off since you got it out of the chest, have you!” She hit Mater with her duster and a cloud of dust enveloped her.
    “Way to go, Mater!” said Devan.
    “What are you doing, crazy old woman?” shrieked Dodo. Unfortunately her mouth was full of bread roll and it sounded more like, “Woowawuooingwazyolewoom?”
    “She’s aboriginal?” asked Sanso looking at Dodo with interest.
    Prune snorted. “We aren’t quite sure where she is from but she is an interesting specimen.”
    “I expect she is rip snorting drunk again,” said Mater after the dust had subsided. “Anyway, I just want to say it is a pleasure to have you all here. I hope you are finding enough to eat. If you need anything, Bert here is your man.”
    “Thanks ever so much,” said Arona, smiling charmingly and gently wiping the lizard with her paper table napkin before popping it back under her turban.
    Bert grunted and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “We aren’t used to this many folk staying at one time,” he said. “But yeah, welcome all. So, what are you all here for?”
    “It’s to do with a doll, actually,” said Maeve. Shawn Paul looked at her, impressed with her boldness.
    “A key,” said Arona, waving the key in the air.
    Mater stumbled and reached out to the door frame for support.
    “Bloody hell,” said Bert.

    #4701
    DevanDevan
    Participant

    I’d never have thought I would come back to the Inn. I had left believing I could make a fortune out of digging opals in Boulder, you know, finding the big one worth thousands. I didn’t miss my family and their odd attachment to the dead Fish. I guess except Prune, she had an ambition, of sort, meaning she wanted to get out of that black sucking shithole. And she always had crazy ideas. She knew how to think differently.

    In Boulder, instead of fortune I found dust, sweat and booze, also lots of suspicion and jealousy when anyone found something. I was sucked in the local habits. Bad habits if you ask me, the kind that suck the life out of a man. But I did it anyway, there was not much to do. It soon felt as suffocating as the Inn, and it was not because of the dust. It was just another shithole, ‘tis all.

    I was saved from dying from boredom when that strange man arrived on his Harley Davidson. He stayed for some times always telling stories. Crazy mad stories. I think he was a little paranoid, always believing he was followed or that some people were in danger. I asked him once why he was speaking so loud if he feared he was followed.
    The man laughed and said: “It is a mean of self preservation son. They won’t dare make me disappear or it will prove I’m telling the truth.”
    The kind of self explanatory stuff that you can never prove wrong or false, would have said Prune. Well with a better choice of words I’m sure.

    Anyway, the man and his stories are part of the reasons I came back because he talked about that Dead Fish Inn, and a goldmine.

    #4688
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “It is a rather peculiar mystery indeed, don’t you think.” Liz leaned suggestively towards the Inspector. He had insisted to keep his trench-coat on, which for some reason she was finding incredibly alluring. It reminded her of all the fun she had in the past, playing her favourite character, Becky in tarty nun’s outfit. She made a mental note for the next costumed party.

    “Some peanuts, Inspector?”
    “Good gracious, no. I’m terribly allergic to nuts, but I’m partial to your delicious canapés.”

    Luckily for him, he couldn’t see Finnley overlooking behind the velvet curtains and the paneled walls, glaring at Liz for taking the credit of her cooking.

    After a mouthful of tarragon cod pâté with capers, Walter leaned back and a little further from Liz and said “Mmm, delicious. Well, it is indeed quite a good mystery you’ve chosen to write about. All these keys, I love the idea. It sounds out of a spy novel, but I do wonder what are the connections, you see, in most crimes I’ve solved in the past,” he cleared his throat, taking the glass of red wine Finnley had just brought “there is always a good chance the culprit is closer than you know. The skill is always to find the hidden connection.”

    “Aaah. I’m so glad you’re saying that Walter, I was telling them the same no later than this morning!”
    She took a random ramekin from the coffee table “some peanuts?”.

    #4646
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Hi, I believe you have information about a doll. Look forward to hearing more. Thanks! Ms M.

    Maeve gave a loud breath out and pushed POST. She had first put a little message on findmydolls on May 22nd. She remembered the date because it was Fabio’s birthday and she’d been celebrating with a glass of wine which made her unaccustomably bold. She hadn’t expected to hear anything, although for a few days she did check the site regularly. And then forgot about it.

    But what with Lucinda finding one of her dolls at the market and Shawn Paul’s mysterious package … well, she just felt like taking another look.

    #4641
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Cute pyjamas”, said Maeve helping herself to butter from the refrigerator.

    Maeve didn’t need the butter any longer as she had discovered she could successfully substitute olive oil and the muffins were still deliciously fluffy. However she did need an excuse to enter Shawn Paul’s apartment. Emboldened by recent events, she was privately rather pleased with her recent brazen persona. The Maeve of a week ago would never have barged into anyone’s apartment without an invitation.

    Not finding anything suspect in the refrigerator, except maybe some oranges which looked past their use by date, she scanned the rest of Shawn Paul’s apartment. It was then she spied the package, mostly obscured by old notebooks and granola cookie boxes.

    “Find what you were looking for?” asked Shawn Paul. He had found his dressing gown under a pile of clothing on the floor.

    “Yes, thanks,” said Maeve, brandishing the butter at him and wondering how she could get hold of the package without Shawn Paul noticing. “So, how long have you been a writer? Have you had anything published?”

    A quick google search had not uncovered anything, but perhaps he wrote under a pseudonym. Best to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Shawn Paul looked awkward.

    Or was it guilty? Maeve wondered. While she was pondering this, she had her brainwave. Some would say it wasn’t much of a brainwave really, or indeed, a brainwave at all. But it was the best she could do under the circumstances. And after all, she was now an intrepid investigator.

    “Look over there!” she shouted pointing at the window and at the same time making a lunge for the dining table.

    “What are you doing?” asked Shawn Paul. There was nothing at the window and now Maeve was taking his package.

    “Um, I just adore granola cookies,” said Maeve.

    #4624
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The light in the apartment darkened and Lucida glanced up from her book and noticed the gathering clouds visible through the glass doors that opened onto her balcony. Frowning, she reached for her phone to check tomorrows weather forecast. The weekly outdoor market was one of the highlights of her week. With a sigh of relief she noted that there was no expectation of rain. Clouds perhaps, which wasn’t a bad thing. It wouldn’t be too hot, and the glare of the sun wouldn’t make it difficult to see all the the things laid out to entice a potential buyer on trestle tables and blankets.

    Lucinda had made a list ~ the usual things, like fruit and vegetables from the farms outside the city; perhaps she’d find a second hand cake tin to try out the new recipe, and some white sheets for the costumes for the Roman themed party she’d been invited to, maybe some more books. But what excited her most was the chance of finding something unexpected, or something unusual. And more often than not, she did.

    She added birthday present to the list, not having any idea what that might be. Lucinda found choosing gifts extraordinarily difficult, and had tried all manner of tactics to change her irrational angst about the whole thing. One Christmas she’d tried just picking one shop and choosing as many random things as people on her gift list. In fact that had worked as well as any other method, but still felt unsettling and unsatisfactory. The next year she informed everyone that she wouldn’t be buying presents at all, and asked friends and family to reciprocate likewise. Some had and some hadn’t, resulting in yet more confusion. Was she to be grateful for the gifts, despite the lack of her own reciprocation? Or peeved that they had ignored her wishes?

    Birthdays were different though. A personal individual celebration was not the same thing as Christmas with all it’s stifling traditions and expectations. It would be churlish to refuse to buy a birthday gift. And so birthday gift remained on the shopping list, as it had been last week, and the week before.

    A birthday gift had already been purchased the previous week. Lucinda glanced up at the top shelf of the bookcase where the doll sat, languidly looking down at her. She felt a pang of emotion, as she did each time she looked at that doll. She loved the doll and wanted to keep it for herself, that was one thing. That was one of the things that always happened when she chose a gift that she liked herself: she talked herself into keeping it; that it was her taste and not the recipients. That it would be obvious that she’d chosen it because SHE liked it, not keeping the other person in mind.

    But that wasn’t the only thing confounding her this time. The doll wanted to stay with her, she was sure of it. It wasn’t just her wanting to keep the doll. It wasn’t any old doll, either. That was the other thing. It seemed very clear that it was one of Maeve’s dolls. It had to be, she was sure of it.

    When she got home with her purchases the week before, her intention had been to go and show Maeve what she’d found. Then something stopped her: what if it made her sad that one of her creations had been discarded, put up for sale at a market along with old cake tins and second hand sheets? No, she couldn’t possibly risk it, and luckily Maeve didn’t know the birthday girl who was the doll was intended for, so she’d never know.

    But then Lucinda realized she had to keep the strange gaunt doll with the grey dreadlocks and patchwork dress. She couldn’t possibly give her away.

    I hope I don’t find another doll at the market tomorrow, and have to keep that as well! thought Lucinda, and immediately felt goosebumps rise as an errant breeze ruffled the dolls dreadlocks.

    #4599
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Hidden in a blinking pixel of the monitor of the cash register, Granola was looking at the scene and the silent tempest of incomprehension brewing inside Jerk’s head.
    “Funny,” she thought “that they’d call that a dead pixel… Haven’t felt more blinky in a long while!… But let’s not get carried away.” It tended to have her stray in parallel reality, and lose her way there while making it difficult to reinsert inside the scenes of the current show.
    “Let’s not get carried away.” She admonished herself again.
    Her position in the pixel was a great finding. She could easily spy on all what happened in the shop, and if she wanted, zoom in through the internet cables, and find herself teleported to almost anywhere, but better still, in sequential time. Not bumping and hopping around haplessly inside mixed up frames of times. Aaah sequential time, she wouldn’t have known to miss it as much while she was corporeal.

    “If I knew Morse code, I could probably send Jerk a message…” she felt quite tiny. Is a pixel better than a squishy giraffe?

    “I must get that monitor checked” the voice of Jerk said aloud. “That screen is going to die on me anytime, and I’ll be fired if I can’t cash in for a day.”

    Granola couldn’t blame him for the lack of imagination. How often she’d taken the electronic mishaps as bad luck rather as inspiring messages from the Great Beyond.

    She stopped blinking for a few bits. It felt almost like holding her breath, if she still had one.

    She’d have to upgrade her communications capacities; these four were really in need of a cosmic and comic boost.

    #4541
    AvatarJib
    Participant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #4475
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    A rivulet of sweat ran down the middle of Eleri’s back, taking her attention for a moment from the sting in her eye where a bead of perspiration had trickled from her steaming brow. Despite telling herself that there was no need to hurry, that there was plenty of time to get back to the cottage to join the expedition, that even if she was late and they had started without her, that she could easily catch them up, even so, she hurried along the path. There was no sign of cooling rain this day, and the sun beat down mercilessly.

    The visit with Jolly had been surprising, and had it not been for the expedition and the others waiting for her, Eleri would have stayed longer with her old friend. The village had become divided, with some of the inhabitants supporting Leroway’s invasive construction schemes, and the others disliking them greatly. And Jolly had sided with the ones opposing her husband. Old Leroway was too determined, and had too much support, to stop him cutting a swathe through the forest. And that wasn’t even the worst of his plans.

    But it wasn’t just Leroway. There had been other changes, subtle changes hard to define, but that increasingly fostered profound feelings of restlessness. The energy of the place was different, and for some the lack of resonance was becoming too unsettling to bear. Some of them started to talk about leaving, finding somewhere new. And much to everyone’s surprise, Jolly was one of them. She was leaving Leroway.

    Jolly’s people had not yet organized the exodus, had no clear plans. Eleri promised to send word when ~ if ~ she reached a suitable destination. There was no way to know what they would find beyond the mountains. But they knew they must look.

    #4455
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The biggest shock of all was finding the unposted draft comment under the random rewreights story, but what on earth was it all about?

    “Interestingly such bodies alone while the heads cling to — when they felt the desire for movement, that is.

    At least, that’s what the Forehead was thinking while shaving — as it did not have enough appendages to be able to meditate while defecating, which was by far, it was told, the best method of enlightenment known to Peasmen and other sensible beings.
    Anyway, how odder can it be, it thought again. It may well be time to shift all of this a bit — why would each head need such a renewal of bodies and thus incarnations (or more properly, “embodiments”) without itself changing. Funnily enough, the alien bodies had in fact no need for heads. They actually had more than one: one for each of the sensory tendrils coming out of their shoulders. And according to them, Peasland bodies could very well start their ®evolution just now.
    alone were reproducing while the heads had to constantly find out new bodies to cling to — when they felt the desire for movement, that is.

    At least, that’s what the Forehead was thinking while shaving — as it did not have enough appendages to be able to meditate while defecating, which was by far, it was told, the best method of enlightenment known to Peasmen and other sensible beings.
    Anyway, how odder can it be, it thought again. It may well be time to shift all of this a bit — why would each head need such a renewal of bodies and thus incarnations (or more properly, “embodiments”) without itself changing. Funnily enough, the alien bodies had in fact no need for heads. They actually had more than one: one for each of the sensory tendrils coming out of their shoulders. And according to them, Peasland bodies could very well start their ®evolution just now.”

    Liz was baffled, and decided to go and sit in the sun and think about it and see if any of this had helped, before continuing.

    #4433
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    What the Huntingford’s hadn’t realized was that the doline on their land wasn’t the only entrance to the labyrinth, which extended considerably further than anyone would have imagined, even the Stripling Bryson’s.

    Aubrey Stripling Bryson, whose estate was a days ride up country from the Huntingford’s, was on an expedition in the tunnels when Emerald’s dog had fallen in the doline. His family had known about the underground galleries and passages for generations; indeed, the family had made use of the ones closest to the house for centuries. Nobody knew how long, although there were stories of ancient bones being found by the more adventurous, nobody knew what happened to them, and for comforts sake and the all too familiar fear of the unknown, many of the passages had been blocked off over the years.

    Aubrey had been an adventurous lad, and had ventured further along the tunnels during his childhood than anyone, other than his sister Evelyn, would have believed. When he inherited the estate at the early age of thirty three, he prepared a proper expedition including representatives of relevant scientific authorities, intending to map the subterranean network, and write a book about his findings. Evelyn wrote most of the book for him, in fact, but he was credited with it as was the custom at the time. Aubrey had done the physical explorations and obtained various reports from experts, but Evelyn assembled it all together.

    The book was in the final stages prior to going to print, when Evelyn had disappeared. And everything relating to the book had disappeared with her. Aubrey was distraught, and never recovered, and Evelyn was never found. He ordered the final tunnel to be blocked off, leaving an usual cave house cellar, nothing more than a curiosity.

    The story of Aubrey’s book that disappeared was told to generations of Stripling Bryson children, whispered along with other family ghost stories. And there were many. Even now, there are unusual goings on at the Stripling Bryson estate, adding to the repertoire of local stranger than fiction stories.

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