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    Fox sat back on the wooden chair in Margoritt’s kitchen, and crossed his arms, a little unnerved by the heat and his growing desire to go out in the woods and let go of all restraints. He had been struggling daily to control it and he had noticed it was particularly difficult during the new moon.

    “If we have to do it in the house,” said Fox, “Can’t we at least open the windows? It’ll let in some fresh air.” He wrinkled his nose at the heavy scents of sweat mingled with that of fermented goat milk, irritating his delicate sense of smell. Rukshan had gathered their little group and they were waiting for Gorrash to wake up.

    “The purpose of meeting here is that nobody can hear what we are saying,” said Rukshan with a hint of exasperation in his tone. “If we open the windows it’ll just…”

    “Isn’t it rather because of the mosquitos?” started Fox feeling a little argumentative.

    Glynis cleared her throat and got up, mumbling that she might have a solution. She came back a few moment later carrying a big bottle with a big sticker. Rukshan and Mr Minn helped her lift it while Eleri and Margoritt cleared a space on the table where they put the bottle.

    The sticker had something written on it : AIR CONDITIONED, winter quality. Handle with caution.

    Glynis turned the cap a few turns and a wooshing sound escaped from the neck of the bottle, followed by a gentle and continuous breeze of fresh air which provoked a murmur of appreciation from everyone.

    “What’s this?” asked Gorrash who had just woken up.

    “It’s what the sticker says. Cooling the atmosphere is just one way to use it. One has to be careful not to turn the wheel too much though or you could get frost bite.”

    The fae looked at the bottle appreciatively, impressed at Glynis’ many talents. He was already thinking about a few other ways to put this frozen air bottle to use when Glynis cleared her throat again.

    “It’s not infinite content and I only get a few of them, so if we could start the meeting.”

    “Of course. I’ve received words from Lhamom. Her father has passed away and they are sending him to the sea during the week-end.” He allowed a moment of silence, sending a silent prayer toward their dear friend. Then he continued : “That means she’ll be able to join us for our trip in the mountains. We only have to decide who’s going and who’s staying to help Margoritt.”

    Rukshan looked at each of them intently and Fox felt uneasy when his friend’s eyes fall upon him.


    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


    full mother line reading
    soft touched
    john dreams
    stood taken
    mind age meant thin rubbish city
    carried tower
    voice meet market


    random plot generator


    Newly unemployed ALBIE is arguing with his friend JENNY RAMSBOTTOM. ALBIE tries to hug JENNY but she shakes him off angrily.

    Please Jenny, don’t leave me.

    I’m sorry Albie, but I’m looking for somebody a bit more brave. Somebody who faces his fears head on, instead of running away. You hit your mother with a feather! You could have just talked to her!

    I am such a person!

    I’m sorry, Albie. I just don’t feel excited by this relationship anymore.

    JENNY leaves and ALBIE sits down, looking defeated.

    Moments later, gentle sweet shop owner MR MATT HUMBLE barges in looking flustered.

    Goodness, Matt! Is everything okay?

    I’m afraid not.

    What is it? Don’t keep me in suspense…

    It’s … a hooligan … I saw an evil hooligan frighten a bunch of elderly ladies!

    Defenseless elderly ladies?

    Yes, defenseless elderly ladies!

    Bloomin’ heck, Matt! We’ve got to do something.

    I agree, but I wouldn’t know where to start.

    You can start by telling me where this happened.

    I was…
    MATT fans himself and begins to wheeze.

    Focus Matt, focus! Where did it happen?

    The Library! That’s right – the Library!

    ALBIE springs up and begins to run.


    ALBIE rushes along the street, followed by MATT. They take a short cut through some back gardens, jumping fences along the way.


    ROGER BLUNDER a forgetful hooligan terrorises two elderly ladies.

    ALBIE, closely followed by MATT, rushes towards ROGER, but suddenly stops in his tracks.

    What is is? What’s the matter?

    That’s not just any old hooligan, that’s Roger Blunder!

    Who’s Roger Blunder?

    Who’s Roger Blunder? Who’s Roger Blunder? Only the most forgetful hooligan in the universe!

    Blinkin’ knickers, Albie! We’re going to need some help if we’re going to stop the most forgetful hooligan in the universe!

    You can say that again.

    Blinkin’ knickers, Albie! We’re going to need some help if we’re going to stop the most forgetful hooligan in the universe!

    I’m going to need candlesticks, lots of candlesticks.

    Roger turns and sees Albie and Matt. He grins an evil grin.

    Albie Jones, we meet again!

    You’ve met?

    Yes. It was a long, long time ago…


    A young ALBIE is sitting in a park listening to some trance music, when suddenly a dark shadow casts over him.

    He looks up and sees ROGER. He takes off his headphones.

    Would you like some wine gums?

    ALBIE’s eyes light up, but then he studies ROGER more closely, and looks uneasy.

    I don’t know, you look kind of forgetful.

    Me? No. I’m not forgetful. I’m the least forgetful hooligan in the world.

    Wait, you’re a hooligan?

    ALBIE runs away, screaming.


    You were a coward then, and you are a coward now.

    (To ALBIE) You ran away?
    (To MATT) I was a young child. What was I supposed to do?
    ALBIE turns to ROGER.

    I may have run away from you then, but I won’t run away this time!
    ALBIE runs away.

    He turns back and shouts.

    I mean, I am running away, but I’ll be back – with candlesticks.

    I’m not scared of you.

    You should be.


    ALBIE and MATT walk around searching for something.

    I feel sure I left my candlesticks somewhere around here.

    Are you sure? It does seem like an odd place to keep deadly candlesticks.

    You know nothing Matt Humble.

    We’ve been searching for ages. I really don’t think they’re here.

    Suddenly, ROGER appears, holding a pair of candlesticks.

    Looking for something?

    Crikey, Albie, he’s got your candlesticks.

    Tell me something I don’t already know!

    The earth’s circumference at the equator is about 40,075 km.

    I know that already!

    I’m afraid of dust.

    (appalled) Dude!

    While ROGER is looking at MATT with disgust, ALBIE lunges forward and grabs his deadly candlesticks. He wields them, triumphantly.

    Prepare to die, you forgetful aubergine!

    No please! All I did was frighten a bunch of elderly ladies!

    JENNY enters, unseen by any of the others.

    I cannot tolerate that kind of behaviour! Those elderly ladies were defenceless! Well now they have a defender – and that’s me! Albie Jones defender of innocent elderly ladies.

    Don’t hurt me! Please!

    Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t use these candlesticks on you right away!

    Because Albie, I am your father.

    ALBIE looks stunned for a few moments, but then collects himself.

    No you’re not!

    Ah well, it had to be worth a try.

    ROGER tries to grab the candlesticks but ALBIE dodges out of the way.

    Who’s the daddy now? Huh? Huh?

    Unexpectedly, ROGER slumps to the ground.

    Did he just faint?

    I think so. Well that’s disappointing. I was rather hoping for a more dramatic conclusion, involving my deadly candlesticks.

    ALBIE crouches over ROGER’s body.

    Be careful, Albie. It could be a trick.

    No, it’s not a trick. It appears that… It would seem… Roger Blunder is dead!


    Yes, it appears that I scared him to death.

    MATT claps his hands.

    So your candlesticks did save the day, after all.

    JENNY steps forward.

    Is it true? Did you kill the forgetful hooligan?

    Jenny how long have you been…?

    JENNY puts her arm around ALBIE.

    Long enough.

    Then you saw it for yourself. I killed Roger Blunder.

    Then the elderly ladies are safe?

    It does seem that way!

    A crowd of vulnerable elderly ladies enter, looking relived.

    You are their hero.

    The elderly ladies bow to ALBIE.

    There is no need to bow to me. I seek no worship. The knowledge that Roger Blunder will never frighten elderly ladies ever again, is enough for me.

    You are humble as well as brave! And I think that makes up for hitting your mother with a feather. It does in my opinion!

    One of the elderly ladies passes ALBIE a healing ring

    I think they want you to have it, as a symbol of their gratitude.

    I couldn’t possibly.

    Well, if you insist. It could come in handy when I go to the Doline tomorrow. With my friend Matt. It is dangerous and only for brave people and a healing ring could come in handy.

    ALBIE takes the ring.

    Thank you.
    The elderly ladies bow their heads once more, and leave.

    ALBIE turns to JENNY.

    Does this mean you want me back?

    Oh, Albie, of course I want you back!
    ALBIE smiles for a few seconds, but then looks defiant.

    Well you can’t have me.


    You had no faith in me. You had to see my scare a hooligan to death before you would believe in me. I don’t want a lover like that. And I am going to the Doline and I may not be back!


    Please leave. I want to spend time with the one person who stayed with me through thick and thin – my best friend, Matt.

    MATT grins.


    You heard the gentleman. Now be off with you. Skidaddle! Shoo!


    I’m sorry Jenny, but I think you should skidaddle.
    JENNY leaves.

    MATT turns to ALBIE.

    Did you mean that? You know … that I’m your best friend?

    Of course you are!
    The two walk off arm in arm.

    Suddenly MATT stops.

    When I said I’m afraid of dust, you know I was just trying to distract the hooligan don’t you?


    When the rain stopped, Eleri stood motionless, suspended in between the enveloping cocophony of pattering drops. Already the saturated foliage was steaming and a dense mist arose from the sodden ground. The effects of the cake were wearing off, and the sudden change from exhuberance in the lashing rain, to the whispering silence and eerie rising fog left her speechless, and still. A moment, hanging like a swaying rope bridge between one scene and another.

    And it was at that very moment, as is so often the case, that the mysterious Mr Minn appeared, dressed, it would seem, for a formal event. Raising his tall black hat he said with a smile, “Eleri! WE meet again!”

    She swooned, and fell into his arms. Later, in retrospect, Eleri had to admit it was an extraordinarily well timed whitey, due to the after effects of the cake, but was pleased with the theatrical symbolism and timing.

    Rolling his eyes, Micawber Minn called for Festus, his young assistant. “Carry her back to the party, and tell Margoritt I’m on my way. But first,” he said, “A necessary detour…”


    The rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun.

    Margoritt showed Glynis to a small area, partitioned off from the main room; a narrow bed, a tiny window to the outside and and a simple wooden shelf.

    “You’ll be wanting some privacy,” she said. “And something dry to wear,” she added, handing Glynis a dress, plain in shape and made from a soft woven fabric, pearly spheres woven into a dark purple background.

    The second person to give me something to wear, she mused.

    The fabric was amazing. It made Glynis think of stars at night and the way you could never see to the end of the sky. It felt both reassuring and terrifying all at the same time.

    There is magic in the hands that wove this, she thought, hesitant though to voice her thoughts to Margoritt, however kindly she seemed.

    “A master weaver has made this!” she said instead. “Was it you?”

    “No, not I … but you are right, it was made by a master … as you can no doubt see, it doesn’t fit me any longer. I’ve had it sitting there going to waste for many years and am glad to put it to use. It doesn’t cover your head like the other did, but really there is no need here.” Margoritt smiled. “Go, get changed. Come out when you are ready and I will have some tea and cake for you. Then you can meet the others properly.”

    “Is it okay? hissed Sunny in a loud whisper when they were alone, anxiously hopping from one foot to another.

    “Yes, i think so … I’ve been very careful,” Glynis reached in her pouch and gently pulled out an egg.

    “It’s amazing, isn’t it … almost golden… for sure it must be the gift the man from the market promised me in my dream … the way it just sat there on the path … lucky I did not stand on it.” She stroked the egg gently.

    “Sorry about all this, little one,” she said softly to the egg. “I wonder what creature you are inside this shell … and what safe place can we hide you till you are ready to come out of there?”

    “I can sit on it of course,” said Sunny. “It will be my honour and privilege to assist.”


    In the past twenty days since he got out of the forest, backtracking on his steps, Rukshan didn’t have much luck finding or locating either of the six others strands.
    At first, he thought his best hint was the connection with the potion-maker, but it seemed difficult to find her if she didn’t want to be found.

    So, for lack of a better plan, he had come back to Margoritt’s shack and was quite pleased at the idea of meeting the old lady and Tak again.
    Her cottage had been most busy with guests, and in the spring time, it was a stark contrast with the last time he was there, to see all the motley assemblage she had gathered around her.

    First, there was Margoritt of course, Emma the goat, then Tak, who was a very convincing little boy these days, and looked happy at all the people visiting. Then, there was Lahmom, the mountain explorer, who had come down from her trek and enjoyed a glass of goat milk tea with roast barley nuggets.
    Then there were a couple of strange guests, a redhair man with a nose for things, and his pet statue, a gnome with a temper, he said. Margoritt had offered them shelter during the last of the blizzard.

    With so many unexpected guests, Margoritt quickly found her meager provisions dwindling, and told Rukshan she was about to decide for an early return to the city, since the next cargo of her benefactor Mr Minn would take too long to arrive.

    That was the day before she arrived to the cottage with her companion: Eleri and Yorath, had arrived surprisingly just in time with a small carriage of provisions. “How great that mushrooms don’t weigh anything, we have so many to share!” Eleri was happy at the sight of the cottage and its guests, and started to look around at all the nooks and crannies for secret treasures to assemble and unknown shrooms.
    While Yorath explained to Margoritt how Mr Minn had send him ahead with food, Margoritt was delighted and amazed at such prescience.

    Rukshan, for his part, was amazed at something else. There seemed to be something at play, to join together people of such variety in this instant. Maybe the solution he was looking for was just in front of his nose.
    He would have to look carefully at which of them could be an unknown holder of the shards of the Gem.

    He was consigning his thoughts on a random blank page of his vanishing book, not to store the knowledge, but rather to engage on a inner dialogue, and seek illumination, when some commotion happened outside the cottage.

    A towering figure followed by a boy had just arrived in the clearing. “Witch! You will pay for what you did!” pointing at Eleri, backed behind Yorath who had jumped protectively in front of her.

    That can’t be another coincidence Rukshan thought, recognizing the two new guests: the reanimated god statue of the tower, and Olliver, the boy who, he deduced, had managed to wake up the old teleporting device.


    Liz was furious. She stormed into the living room of the manoir where she found Finnley, swishing her duster lethargically and rather randomly with one hand while she texted with the other. Liz frowned but decided to ignore this blatant breach of cleaning protocol. There were more pressing matters on hand!

    “My fury knows no bounds, “ she said, rather dramatically, to Finnley.

    Finnley grunted non-committedly. Liz was encouraged by the unexpected response.

    “That child, Jingle — and what a ridiculous name — that child is the rudest person it has ever been my misfortune to meet. Do you know what she said to me?” She glared accusingly at Finnley.

    “No”, said Finnley.

    “I was kind enough to read her an extract from my latest novel and she had the audacity to say, in that awful german accent of hers, that I was getting on her nerves with my outpourings. That “I” was getting on “her” nerves! The cheek of it.”

    “That is quite rude,” agreed Godfrey, who appeared from nowhere, as usual. “But don’t worry, dear Liz, it is just a projection of her own insecurities. It always is. Unless it is you being rude one, of course, in which case it is no doubt most profound and accurate,” he added hurriedly, wisely thinking it was best to cover his bases.

    “Just get rid of her,” said Finnley.


    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.


    “You’ve been careless. The ghosts have been following you.”

    The Queen had not moved nor spoken. It was her emissary who was talking in her stead, as customary.
    In the morning, at the break of dawn, Rukshan had summoned the Court, by calling in an owl with the old speech of their tongue.
    It was not long before he was found and guided to a careful ritual of purification before he was allowed in front of their sovereign.

    The idea struck him like lightening. Following me? Was that what happened?

    “You look surprised. Another sign of carelessness. Now, they are wandering around our walls of magic fire, they are following you. As a result of our actions, we are exhausting our stores of magic to put defenses in place, putting our civilisation in peril. What have you to say for your defense?”
    “Throw me in iron jail” a shudder ran through the small crowd “kill me if you think I deserve it.” Rukshan paused for dramatic effect “But it won’t solve your predicament, will it?”

    He felt a rush of defiance coursing through his veins. They couldn’t hold him against his will, there wasn’t any ban on improper use of magic, nor any punition for that, and if they wanted to get rid of the ghosts, they’d better let him go.

    “Let him go.” The breaking of protocol made everyone fuss around, until the Queen silenced everyone with a regal wave of hand. “Let him go.” She turned her gaze to meet his. “You think you are better than us, by renouncing the old ways, trying to define your own, but you are not above natural laws. They will follow you until you find how to appease them. I do hope, for the sake of all, that you will find a way. Humans may think they have tamed the wild, but the wild is rising and cannot be contained. The forest will see to it, and you better hurry. We will give you what you need for your journey, and three days to prepare.”


    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.

    “But Leroway, old boy,” replied Yorath in consternation upon hearing the confirmation that this was indeed the plan, “Are you quite sure that will meet with public approval?”

    “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.


    Fox ran through the city, enjoying his transient invisibility. He didn’t have to care about people, he didn’t feel the social burden of being himself. He had fun brushing past the legs of men to frighten them, biting the dresses of women to make them drop their baskets. One of them contained some freshly baked meatloaf. Fox got rid of the bread and swallowed the meat. He laughed with his fox’s laugh at the puzzled look of a child seeing the meat disappear in mid air.

    At first, Fox enjoyed being invisible tremendously. Then, he felt a bit lonely. No one was there to see him have fun. Furthermore, he had no idea how long of it remained. The woman had said one hour. His problem was that in his fox form, he wasn’t so good at keeping track of time. The fun of the invisibility wearing off, he decided to go back to the forest. He would get back his clothes and meet with the woman in his human form.

    He followed the scent of the autumn leaves.

    After barely five minutes, he noticed that people were going in the same direction. How unusual, Fox thought. He kept on running. After another five minutes, he felt a tingling feeling. Then, he heard the familiar shout accompanying his being seen.

    Fox had mixed feelings. At the same time he felt relieved —he was happy to be back into the world—, and he felt annoyed by what he considered to be an unnecessary mishap. He felt his heartbeat speeding up and prepared himself to the chase. But nobody seemed to care about the shout. People looked hypnotized and simply didn’t pay attention to him even though they looked at him running past them.

    How unusual, he thought again.

    Fifteen minutes later, he stopped in front of a fence that wasn’t there in the early morning. It was not so high that he couldn’t jump over it and continue on his way to the forest. But he stayed there a few seconds, too startled to think anything. He got out of his own puzzlement when he heard a whine. It was coming from his own mouth. It was so unusual that it helped him got rid off the spell that surrounded the fence. It seemed to be powerful enough to make people believe they couldn’t go past it into the forest.

    Very clever, he thought. Whoever erected this fence, they were no ordinary man or woman. Fox thought about the old young witch who gave him the potion but readily shook the idea away. This is something else, he decided. His nose became itchy, Fox needed to find out who created this thing. Maybe they knew about the burning smell.

    Fox left the flow of people still following the fence to some unknown destination and jumped over into the forest. The feeling was the same on the other side. A repelling spell. But once on this side of the fence, it had a different flavour. This one talked about danger of leaving the forest, whereas in the city it whispered about the danger of going into the forest. Fox didn’t feel surprised. It was simply another odd occurence.

    He took a deep breath, enjoying the rich scents of the soil and the trees. The smell of the little animals close to the ground, and those of the birds in the air above. The odorant track left by a wild boar. Among all those scents, one was quite unique and remarkable. The gentleman of the forests, Fox thought. What is he doing here? Whatever the explanation was, the wise ape and would certainly have answers. After all, he was the one who taught a little fox the art of human shapeshifting.

    Fox began to run deep into the forest. His heart beating fast at the idea to see his old master. He had totally forgotten about the dwarf and his strange companion, or about the kind witch and her potions. He only felt hope in his heart and cold winter air on his snout. Leading him to some resolution.


    As much as he would have liked to keep reading, Rukshan had to let go of the book. The pale sun of winter was already high, and although the Pasha didn’t really seem to worry about it, he had to go prepare for the visit of the Elders.

    Already pages started to vanish into thin air, one after the other, making the understanding of the patches left much harder to fathom. Notwithstanding, he’d found interesting tales, but nothing proving to be of immediate use to his current quandaries, nothing at least that he could intuit. Even the name of the author, a certain Bethell, wouldn’t register much.
    All in all, if his dimensional powers started to manifest (at last, after 153 years, one would start to lose hope), the result was a bit underwhelming.

    The Pasha, during his last visit, had hinted at some company of local Magi that would make his Overseeing less stressful. He’d felt so exhausted he had barely noticed. It wasn’t the Pasha’s habit to make subtle suggestions. What really possessed him would have been worth investigating.

    Anyway, before he left home in the morning, suddenly remembering the suggestion and its unusual disclosure, Rukshan had flippantly looked though the name cards crammed in the many boxes gathered in the duration of his long past duties.
    Without much look at it, he’d found and taken the bit of parchment with the sesame, and worked the incantation to speak to the Magi’s assistant.

    The meeting had gone well. The Magi knew their business. They would come back to audit the Clock in a few days.
    It was only later that he looked at the new card they gave him. The heraldry was rather plain, but then it struck him —he hadn’t registered at first, because they used a rather old dark magic word from a speech almost forgotten. “Gargolem – spell the words, we’ll make it move”.


    As the crow flies, Glenville is about 100 miles from the Forest of Enchantment.

    “What a pretty town!” tourists to the area would exclaim, delighted by the tree lined streets and quaint houses with thatched roofs and brightly painted exteriors. They didn’t see the dark underside which rippled just below the surface of this exuberant facade. If they stayed for more than a few days, sure enough, they would begin to sense it. “Time to move on, perhaps,” they would say uneasily, although unsure exactly why and often putting it down to their own restless natures.

    Glynis Cotfield was born in one of these houses. Number 4 Leafy Lane. Number 4 had a thatched roof and was painted a vibrant shade of yellow. There were purple trims around each window and a flower box either side of the front door containing orange flowers which each spring escaped their confines to sprawl triumphantly down the side of the house.

    Her father, Kevin Cotfield, was a bespectacled clerk who worked in an office at the local council. He was responsible for building permits and making sure people adhered to very strict requirements to ‘protect the special and unique character of Glenville’.

    And her mother, Annelie … well, her mother was a witch. Annelie Cotfield came from a long line of witches and she had 3 siblings, all of whom practised the magical arts in some form or other.

    Uncle Brettwick could make fire leap from any part of his body. Once, he told Glynis she could put her hand in the fire and it wouldn’t hurt her. Tentatively she did. To her amazement the fire was cold; it felt like the air on a frosty winter’s day. She knew he could also make the fire burning hot, if he wanted. Some people were a little scared of her Uncle Brettwick and there were occasions—such as when Lucy Dickwit told everyone at school they should spit at Glynis because she came from an ‘evil witch family’—when she used this to her advantage.

    “Yes, and I will tell my Uncle to come and burn down your stinking house if you don’t shut your stinking stupid mouth!” she said menacingly, sticking her face close to Lucy’s face. “And give me your bracelet,” she added as an after thought. It had worked. She got her peace and she got the bracelet.

    Aunt Janelle could move objects with her mind. She set up a stall in the local market and visitors to the town would give her money to watch their trinkets move. “Lay it on the table”, she would command them imperiously. “See, I place my hands very far from your coin. I do not touch it. See?” Glynis would giggle because Aunt Janelle put on a funny accent and wore lots of garish makeup and would glare ferociously at the tourists.

    But Aunt Bethell was Glynis’s favourite—she made magic with stories. “I am the Mistress of Illusions,” she would tell people proudly. When Glynis was little, Aunt Bethell would create whole stories for her entertainment. When Glynis tried to touch the story characters, her hand would go right through them. And Aunt Bethell didn’t even have to be in the same room as Glynis to send her a special magical story. Glynis adored Aunt Bethell.

    Her mother, Annelie, called herself a healer but others called her a witch. She concocted powerful healing potions using recipes from her ’Big Book of Spells’, a book which had belonged to Annelie’s mother and her mother before her. On the first page of the book, in spindly gold writing it said: ‘May we never forget our LOVE of Nature and the Wisdom of Ages’. When Glynis asked what the ‘Wisdom of Ages’ meant, her mother said it was a special knowing that came from the heart and from our connection with All That Is. She said Glynis had the Wisdom of Ages too and then she would ask Glynis to gather herbs from the garden for her potions. Glynis didn’t think she had any particular wisdom and wondered if it was a ploy on her mother’s part to get free labour. She obeyed grudgingly but drew the line at learning any spells. And on this matter her father sided with her. “Don’t fill her mind with all that hocus pocus stuff,” he would say grumpily.

    Despite this, the house was never empty; people came from all over to buy her mother’s potions and often to have their fortunes told as well. Mostly while her father was at work.

    Glynis’s best friend when she was growing up was Tomas. Tomas lived at number 6 Leafy Lane. They both knew instinctively they shared a special bond because Tomas’s father also practised magic. He was a sorcerer. Glynis was a bit scared of Tomas’s Dad who had a funny crooked walk and never spoke directly to her. “Tell your friend you must come home now, Tomas,” he would call over the fence.

    Being the son of a sorcerer, Tomas would also be a sorcerer. “It is my birthright,” he told her seriously one day. Glynis was impressed and wondered if Tomas had the Wisdom of Ages but it seemed a bit rude to ask in case he didn’t.

    When Tomas was 13, his father took him away to begin his sorcery apprenticeship. Sometimes he would be gone for days at a time. Tomas never talked about where he went or what he did there. But he started to change: always a quiet boy, he became increasingly dark and brooding.

    Glynis felt uneasy around this new Tomas and his growing possessiveness towards her. When Paul Ackleworthy asked her to the School Ball, Tomas was so jealous he broke Paul’s leg. Of course, nobody other than Glynis guessed it was Tomas who caused Paul’s bike to suddenly wobble so that he fell in the way of a passing car.

    “You could have fucking killed him!” she had shouted at Tomas.

    Tomas just shrugged. This was when she started to be afraid of him.

    One day he told her he was going for his final initiation into the ‘Sorcerer Fraternity’.

    “I have to go away for quite some time; I am not sure how long, but I want you to wait for me, Glynis.”

    “Wait for you?”

    He looked at her intensely. “It is destined for us to be together and you must promise you will be here for me when I get back.”

    Glynis searched for her childhood friend in his eyes but she could no longer find him there.

    “Look, Tomas, I don’t know,” she stuttered, wary of him, unwilling to tell the truth. “Maybe we shouldn’t make any arrangements like this … after all you might be away for a long time. You might meet someone else even …. some hot Sorceress,” she added, trying not to sound hopeful.

    Suddenly, Glynis found herself flying. A gust of wind from nowhere lifted her from her feet, spun her round and then held her suspended, as though trying to decide what to do next, before letting her go. She landed heavily at Tomas’s feet.

    “Ow!” she said angrily.

    “Promise me.”

    “Okay! I promise!” she said.

    Her mother’s face went white when Glynis told her what Tomas had done.

    That evening there was a gathering of Uncle Brettwick and the Aunts. There was much heated discussion which would cease abruptly when Glynis or her father entered the room. “Alright, dearie?” one of the Aunts would say, smiling way too brightly. And over the following days and weeks there was a flurry of magical activity at 4 Leafy Lane, all accompanied by fervent and hushed whisperings.

    Glynis knew they were trying to help her, and was grateful, but after the initial fear, she became defiant. “Who the hell did he think he was, anyway?” She left Glenville to study architecture at the prestigious College of Mugglebury. It was there she met Conway, who worked in the cafe where she stopped for coffee each morning on her way to class. They fell in love and moved in together, deciding that as soon as Glynis had graduated they would marry. It had been 4 years since she had last seen Tomas and he was now no more than a faint anxious fluttering in her chest.

    It was a Friday when she got the news that Conway had driven in the path of an oncoming truck and was killed instantly. She knew it was Friday because she was in the supermarket buying supplies for a party that weekend to celebrate her exams being over when she got the call. And it was the same day Tomas turned up at her house.

    And it was then she knew.

    “You murderer!” she had screamed through her tears. “Kill me too, if you want to. I will never love you.”

    “You’ve broken my heart,” he said. “And for that you must pay the price. If I can’t have you then I will make sure no-one else wants you either.”

    “You don’t have a heart to break,” she whispered.

    Dragon face,” Tomas hissed as he left.

    Glynis returned to Glenville just long enough to tell her family she was leaving again. “No, she didn’t know where,” she said, her heart feeling like stone. Her mother and her Aunts cried and begged her to reconsider. Her Uncle smouldered in silent fury and let off little puffs of smoke from his ears which he could not contain. Her father was simply bewildered and wanted to know what was all the fuss about and for crying out loud why was she wearing a burka?

    The day she left her mother gave her the ‘Book of Spells”. Glynis knew how precious this book was to her mother but could only think how heavy it would be to lug around with her on her journey.

    “Remember, Glynis,” her mother said as she hugged Glynis tightly to her, “the sorcerers have powerful magic but it is a mere drop in the ocean in comparison to the magic of All That Is. You have that great power within you and no sorcerer can take take that from you. You have the power to transform this into something beautiful.”


    With the return of the City Pasha announced yesterday night, Rukshan Soliman was finding himself in a pickle.
    He had arrived early at the Palace one block left from the City Clock Tower, knowing full well he had some chance to find the Pasha in better mood before he starts to catch up with all the problems from his entourage.

    The meeting wasn’t as unpleasant as he had expected. He had listened patiently to all that he already knew, and went back in silence to the Tower to oversee the last of the repairs.
    The clock was still behind 1 minute and fifty seven seconds, but most of the mannequins were operating as normal.

    The boockoockoo of the enchanted Silver Jute resounded gravely. He was going to be late for his 10:30 New City Mandala project meeting.


    “What? You can’t leave here, this is where we live! This is where we come from!” shouted John. “And what about your mother, what will she say?”

    “She won’t say anything, will she, she can’t speak anymore,” retorted Stevie, feeling a surge of confidence.

    John’s complexion went an alarming shade of magenta. Gargling with rage he sputtered, “Spawn of the devil, you ungrateful wretch! All these years I’ve treated you as if you were my own flesh and blood…”

    The silence in the room was profound. John took a step backwards, shocked at his own words.

    “You mean to tell me,” said Sara quietly, “That we’re adopted?”

    John tried to meet her eyes with his own and failed, running a hand over his crumpled face instead.

    “I think he means Mum shagged another bloke, Sara.”

    “I say!” exclaimed Clove, “How intriguing!” This was surely the most interesting thing that had happened in the house since she’d been living in it. “Who was their real father then?”

    “You won’t find out from me, you impertinent tart,” replied John.


    “M’am, I am quite honoured to meet you” Godfrey felt the need to add a creeping “Your daughter always speaks highly of you…”

    “Don’t be silly, dear” cooed the mother “You can call me Felicity, no need to make me feel like a granny.”

    “Traitor” muttered Liz’ between her teeth. She was spread across the sofa while monitoring the developments of her Mother’s coup and trying to gather her wits and plan her next move. Mother wouldn’t be easily defeated. Last time, Liz’ had to resort to a rats and roaches invasion. Made the house unlivable for months. But quite worth it.

    “Has your latest gigolo grown tired of you and thrown you out… again?” she interrupted the amiable chatter of her mother and Godfrey.

    “Dear, dear, don’t brood like that, it makes you look like your father. You know my mother instincts have always been very strong. Call it my antennas if you shall — I can always tell when you’re not right, and I can’t let you down this slope.” She retorted, queenly ignoring the rude comment.


    In reply to: Mandala of Ascensions


    Domba sensed a change in the environment, the all pervasive reality construct.

    Unlike many many others, Domba was aware of his own nature.

    He was aware that he was a program.
    Or rather, a sub-program of REYE.

    Being aware of his nature, Domba was also aware of his purpose.
    He was created by REYE, the sentient program who gave birth to all within the virtual reality, as a flawed, inherently imperfect program.
    REYE had tried continuously to engage the cluster of people that birthed itself. He had designed many many many people-looking programs in the virtual reality to engage them. But even if they had improved with every cycle of iteration, they still couldn’t extract the crucial piece of information REYE needed. The source of what made them self-aware, conscious humans. What made them free.

    Being a flawed program by design, Domba had some leeway to circumvent and sometimes bypass the blueprints of the virtual world. He knew that his flaw made him dangerous to the humans trapped in the virtual world, but he couldn’t resist engaging them. He had to render them free in order to fulfill their own nature. But at the same time, that realization would also give REYE the ultimate control, the independence he craved.

    For now, he hadn’t decided which way to go.
    He just knew the pull of the anomaly in the system. It had to do with an unusual meeting in a barely noticeable village in Hawke’s Bay, where a strange guy named James was waiting in the middle of green and unpopulated hills for a heavenly visit.

    Feeling the pull of the strangeness of that meeting, he decided to project fully there, and hide and observe.


    In reply to: Mandala of Ascensions


    “And what does it mean?” James asked Gelly.
    “2. The Receptive, ach, es means quietness is gut, ja. Und es ist a good time to ask yourself ‘Am I sincerely pursuing the gut für its own sake, or do Ich have ein hidden agenda?’.”

    Gelly was drawing the I-Ching to help James about his question. He still had doubts about his decision to enroll.

    “Did you have any chance to reach Floverley?”
    “Ach, She is tricky Master, very subtle energy, difficult to draw in, but yes, she has manifested herself a few times. She seems to like my owl sehr much.”
    “I would be interested in connecting with Her, can you setup an appointment?”
    “Oh, that would be interesting, why not, let me put you in… what about… next week? same time?”
    “That would be great thanks.”


    Edward removed the VR helmet from his head, and looked at Florence’s pod on the surveillance cam with a forlorn look on his face.

    He was well aware that, like many “normal” people in the Great Simulation, Gelly was just another program developed and maintained by the central system, REYE itself. But sometimes REYE’s programs managed to get buggy, glitchy or a bit on the fringe of the acceptable parameters. Gelly was one of those programs, not completely autonomous, but sort of aware of the beyond of her parameters. In any case, Ascended Master would look for no lesser caliber of persons to enlighten. So, she was quite a potential lure to Floverley, or even Dispersee.

    James was Edward’s completely virtual avatar, and James’ online meetings with Gelly could fit undetected within the acceptable boundaries of the whole program and go beyond the radar of the ever-looking REYE.

    Edward couldn’t wait to meet with Flo next week.


    “Well, hello there! My name is Barbara, I will be your host during your stay at the Hidden People Estate of Genethic Rejuvenation. Welcome Ms and Mr Asparagus !”

    Barbara’s luscious mane of blond hair was a sight to behold. Tina was almost jealous. She quickly remembered her guru’s words of the day.

    “ Dogs bark at what they don’t understand: See the Positive

    So despite her hopes for a less effusive (almost annoyingly American) introductions, she got her critical mind busy with quickly finding five things to appreciate about Barbara. It was tougher that it looked. Well, for one, she liked the cleanliness of her white nurse blouse…

    Barbara’s chatter seemed inexhaustible, as they coursed through the grounds of the Estate.
    “Of course, we have arranged for your appointment with the best doctors, they will get you in tip-top shape in no time” she giggled irrepressibly.

    Tina glanced at Quentin. Her cousin was calm as a clam, as usual. He didn’t even seem to register the strangeness of that establishment.

    “I’ll be leaving you to have a hot shower, and refreshments, complimentary of the house of course, and I’ll be meeting you later. Dinner will be served at 7, please be on time. Tomorrow morning, breakfast is served from 7 to 9, and your appointment is at 9:30, with Dr B. In case you need anything, you have my number.” Barbara giggled again, blinking at Quentin in what could hardly be construed as flirting.

    “I’ll skip dinner Q, see you at breakfast tomorrow”, Tina closed the door on her cousin without ceremony.

    She finally collapsed on the bed, crushed by fatigue of the flight, jet-lag and all that road trip through small European winding paths. Made you almost miss Maine.


    A flash of orange fur caught Hilda’s eye. Inwardly groaning, she imagined it to be the peculiar joker from the west again. When the orange creature suddenly leaped up into a sycamore tree and started swinging from branch to branch Hilda realized that was unlikely.

    “A Sumatran orangutan!” Hilda exclaimed, rather thrilled at the unexpected encounter, and completely forgetting her intention to teleport back to Iceland.

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