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      Aunt Idle:

      Oddly enough, I was optimistic about the new year. First of all, it was novel to even realize it was a new year.  And what a tonic it was to have Finly back!   And not just because of the dusting, although it was a pleasure to see a bit of sparkle about the place where she’d spruced things up.  Even Mater had a new spring in her step. She said it was the chocolates, one a day she said was better than any vitamins. I’d eaten all mine the day Sanso and Finly and the others had arrived (and regretted it) but Mater had hidden her box to savour them slowly and secretly.  I remarked to her more than once that she should have the decency to wipe the chocolate off her lips before coming downstairs, gloating because all mine were gone.  But it was nice to see her happy.

      It was a funny thing with chocolate, I’d forgotten all about it. It wasn’t like I’d spent years craving it, and yet when I unwrapped (gift wrapped! oh, the memories!) the box Sanso gave me, it all came flooding back. I popped one in my mouth and closed my eyes, savouring the slow melt, ecstatic at the way it enveloped me in it’s particular sweet charm.

      I felt so sick afterwards though that I was left with the thought that there was something to be said for a simple life with few opportunities for indulgence.  I hadn’t felt that sick since the plague.

      I was glad I’d worn that old red dress when Sanso arrived, and just a little disappointed when he left before my seduction plans reached fruition.  I did try, but he had a knack of dematerializing whenever I got close enough to make a move. Disconcerting it was, but it kept me on my toes. Literally, in those high heeled red shoes.  I twisted my ankle on the damn things and been limping ever since. Oh but it was worth it.

      And the champagne! I asked Sanso where he found it and he said that was Finly’s work, she’s got it from the water larks.

      Finly! What water larks, where? Did you see…? I was almost afraid to ask. Had she seen the twins?

      Yes, she said, with a smug and enigmatic smile. But that’s a story for later, she said.  Maddening creature that she is, she still hasn’t told me about it. She will when she’s finished cleaning, she said.


      In reply to: The Stories So Near


        Some updates on the Heartwoods Weave

        So far, there were loosely 2 chapters in this story, and we’re entering the 3rd.
        Let’s call them:

        • Ch. 1 – The Curses of the Stolen Shards
        • Ch. 2 – The Flight to the Desert Mountains
        • Ch. 3 – Down the Lands of Giants

        Ch. 1 – The Curses of the Stolen Shards

        In Chapter One, we get acquainted with the main characters as their destinies intertwine (Rukshan, Glynis, Eleri, Gorrash, Fox, Olliver and Tak).
        In a long past, the Forest held a powerful artifact created and left behind as a seal by the Gods now departed in their World: a Gem of Creation. It was defiled by thieves (the 7 characters in their previous incarnations of Dark Fae (Ru), Toothless Dragon (Gl), Laughing Crone (El), Mapster Dwarf (Go), Glade Troll (Fo), Trickster Dryad (Ol), Tricked Girl (Ta)), and they all took a shard of the Gem, although the innocent girl was tricked to open the woods by a promise of resurrecting a loved one, and resented all the others for it. She unwittingly created the curse all characters were suffering from, as an eternal punishment. Removing the Gem from the center of the Forest and breaking it started a chain of events, leading to many changes in the World. The Forest continued to grow and claim land, and around the (Dragon) Heartwoods at the center, grew many other woods – the Haunted Bamboo Forest, the Enchanted Forest, the Hermit’s Forest, the Fae’s Forest etc. At the other side, Cities had developed, and at the moment of the story, started to gain control over the magical world of Old.
        From the special abilities the Seven gained, some changes were triggered too. One God left behind was turned into stone by the now young Crone (E).
        Due to the curse, their memories were lost, and they were born again in many places and other forms.
        During the course of Ch.1, they got healed with the help of Master Gibbon, and the Braider Shaman Kumihimo, who directed Rukshan how to use the Vanishing Book, which once completed by all, and burnt as an offering, lifted the curse. Tak (the Girl of the origin story), now a shapeshifting Gibbon boy, learned to let go of the pain, and to start to live as a young orphan under the gentle care of the writer Margoritt Loursenoir and her goat Emma, in a cottage in the woods.
        Glynis, a powerful healer with a knack for potions, still haven’t found a way to undo the curse of her scales, which she accepts, has found residency and new friends and a funny parrot named Sunshine. Eleri besides her exploration of anti-gravity, learnt to make peace with the reawakened God Hasamelis no longer vengeful but annoyed at being ignored for a mortal Yorath. Eleri continues to love to butt heads with the iniquities of the world, which are never in lack, often embodied by Leroway and his thugs. Gorrash, who adopted the little baby Snoots activated by Glynis’ potions seemed simply happy to have found a community. Fox, a fox which under the tutelage of Master Gibbon, learnt to shapeshift as a human for all his work and accumulation of good karma. Olliver, a young man with potential, found his power by activating the teleporting egg Rukshan gave him. As for Rukshan, who was plagued by ghosts and dark forces, he found a way to relieve the Forest and the world of their curse, but his world is torn between his duties towards his Fae family in the woods, his impossible love for his Queen, and his wants for a different life of exploration, especially now knowing his past is more than what he thought he knew.
        At the end of the chapter, the Door to the God’s realm, at the center of the Forest seems to have reopened.

        Ch. 2 – The Flight to the Desert Mountains

        In the second Chapter, strange sightings of light beams in the mountains prompt some of our friends to go investigate, while in the cottage, the others stay to repel encroachments by brutal modernity embodied by Leroway and his minions. Glynis has found a way to be rid of her scales, but almost failed due to Tak’s appetite for untested potions. Remaking the potion, and succeeding at last, she often still keeps her burka as fond token of her trials. Eleri is spreading glamour bomb concrete statues in the woods, and trying her hand with Glynis supervision at potions to camouflage the cottage through an invisibility spell. Muriel, Margoritt’s sister, comes for a visit.
        In the mountains, the venturing heroes are caught in a sand storm and discover spirits trapped in mystical objects. Pushing forward through the mountain, they are tracked and hunted by packs of hellhounds, and dark energy released from an earthquake. Rukshan works on a magical mandala with the help and protection of his friends. Olliver discovers a new teleportation trick making him appear two places at once. Kumihimo rejoins the friends in trouble, and they all try to leave through the magical portal, while Fox baits the dogs and the Shadow. Eerily, only Fox emerges from the portal, to find a desolated, burnt Forest and his friends all gone. They had been too late, and the Shadow went with them through the portal instead of being destroyed. Luckily, a last potion left by Glynis is able to rewind Fox in time, and succeed in undoing the disaster. The beaming lights were only honeypots for wandering travellers, it turned out.
        Shaken by the ordeal, Rukshan leaves the party for some R&R time in the parallel world of the Faes, which is now mostly abandoned.

        Ch. 3 – Down the Lands of Giants

        In Chapter 3, which has only just begun, some time has passed, and Margoritt has come back to the City, at the beginning of winter for some special kneedle treatments. Glynis and Margoritt are in turn taking care of Tak, who has joined a local school, where he seems to have befriended a mysterious girl Nesingwarys (Nesy). Gorrash seems to have been hurt, broken whilst in his statue form by Leroway’s thugs, but the Snoot babies are still staying with him, so there is hope. Fox is always hungry, and helps with the reconstruction work for the cottage, which was damaged in a fire (we suppose during Leroway’s men foray in the woods).
        Rukshan emerges from his retreat after an encounter with a mad Fae, babbling about a Dark Lord’s return. Piecing clues together, he finds a long lost World Map and connection with a renegade magician who may have been the Maker of Gorrash (and maybe linked to the trapped spirits in the mountain after all). He sends a pigeon to his friends before he returns to the thick of the Heartwoods.
        Now, it seems the Door to the God’s realm has reopened the ancient Realms of the Underworld too, all accessible through the central pillar of the World, intersecting their World precisely at the Heartwoods, were the Gem of Creation originally was. He’s planning to go to the long lost Underworld of the Giants, were he suspects the so-called Dark Lord is hiding.


          Ric was confused as to why he found himself flushed and vaguely excited by Bossy Mam’s sudden and attractive outburst.
          He was so glad the two harpies were off to goat knows where, or they would have tortured him with no end of gossiping.

          Still troubled by the stirring of emotions, he looked around, and almost spilled the cup of over-infused lapsang souchong tea he had prepared. Miss Bossy was the only one to fancy the strong flavour in a way only a former chain smoker could.

          Thankfully, she was still glaring at the window, and while he had no doubt he couldn’t hope to give her the slip for that sort of things, she probably had decided to just let it go.

          He took the chance to run to the archives, and started to dig up all he could on the Doctor.
          Sadly, the documents were few and sparse. Hilda and Connie were not known for their order in keeping records. Their notes looked more like herbariums from a botanist plagued with ADHD. But that probably meant there were lots of overlooked clues.

          He flipped through the dusty pages for a good hour, eyes wet with allergies, and he was about to bring Miss Bossy the sorry pile he had collected when a light bulb lit in his mind.

          How could I miss it!

          He’d never thought about it, but now, a lot of it started to make sense.

          Thinking about how Miss Bossy would probably be pleased by the news, he started to become red again, and hyperventilate.

          Calm down amigo, think about your abuela, and her awful tapas,… thaaat’s it. Crème d’anchovies with pickled strawberries… Jellyfish soufflés with poached snail eggs on rocket salad.

          His mind was rapidly quite sober again.

          Taking the pile of notes, he landed it messily on the desk, almost startling Miss Bossy.

          “Sorry for the interruption, M’am, but I may have found something…”
          “Fine, there’s no need for theatrics, spill it!” Miss Bossy was ever the no-nonsense straight-to-business personality. Some would have called her rude, but they were ignorants, and possibly all dead now.

          “There was a clue, hidden in the trail of Hilda’s collection. I’m not sure how we have missed it.”

          “Ricardooo…” Miss Bossy’s voice was showing a soupçon of annoyance.

          “Yes, pardon me, I’m digressing. Look! Right here!”

          “What? How is it possible? Is that who I think it is?”

          “I think so.”

          They turned around to look across the hall at Sweet Sophie blissfully snoring.

          “I think she was one of her first patient-slash-assistant.”

          “How quaint. But, that explains a lot. Wait a minute. I thought none of his patients were ever found… alive?”

          “Maybe she outsmarted him…”

          They both weren’t too convinced about that. But they knew now old Sweet Sophie was probably unwittingly holding the key to the elusive Doctor.


            That sunny day would be remembered as the day the doline shook and trembled.

            The geckoes fell from their rock, cutting all communication between the inhabitants of the hidden world. The vibrations coming from leperchauns know where had swiftly spread into the walls down to the deepest cracks and hidden chambers of the back cave far deeper than any of the inhabitants of the doline dared to show their noses. And Most of them weren’t aware at all of all that empty dark and cold and wet space. At some point, the vibrations gathered and rebounded into the bottom of the deepest caves and came back out in a roar that might have take the inhabitants’ hats off, if they wore hats.

            The bats flew away into the sunlight, blinded and deafened, bumping into each others as their fabulously acute sense of hearing was overwhelmed by the vibrations and the rich harmonics generated in the crystal chambers down below. Some fell, spiraling down as if they had been shot by some anti aerial defense. They fell in the cockroach arena and into the reservoir of dung gathered by the dung beetles, almost crushing Daisy in the process. Her father caught her safe and rolled her like the little dung beetle she was.

            The rats ran away spreading panic like plague, and while some tried to take advantage of the confusion to steal others food, when the vibration kept on shaking the ground around them and stalactites fell like fringe hail exploding into thousands projectiles, they began to fear.

            It took some time for the dust and noise to settle down, long after the vibration had ceased. All the inhabitants of the doline had gathered on the edge of the entrance, not knowing if it was safe to go back home.

            Hugo the Gecko wondered like many of the others.

            What just happened? What if it happened again? Somebody had to volunteer to go see what it was that made that noise.

            But no one came forth, all too shocked by the recent events. You could even hear some calling their families or friends.

            Hugo didn’t feel up to the task, he was too small and fragile. What if another of those big rocks fell on his soft and elastic body? It would explode like a water bomb. Except the puddle would be red. Yet, when he saw little Daisy desperately looking for her mother, something rose in him. Something he had never felt before. Some might call it courage, but Hugo didn’t have a name for it. All he knew was that he entered the doline and went down to the flat stone, calling his gecko friends on the way to follow him. Dragged along by that strange emotion that was moving their friend, they followed and listened to him when he gave them a few instructions. They resumed their place on the stone, except this time Hugo was at the center and began to draw something.

            The inhabitants of the doline had looked not understanding what the geckoes were doing, calling them reckless idiots to venture back into the broken world. But they looked at the strange shapes appearing on the flat stone at the center of the doline.

            Suddenly a voice came out of the crowd. “It’s me! I’m here!” she said and waved her little beetle legs. “Daisy, Mummy’s here!”

            Then everybody wanted to pass a message and the geckoes felt they were making a difference.

            Despite the agitation, Hugo kept wondering. What happened? Someone has to go and see.


              Hilda regretted her decision to fly to the British Isles, now that she was caught up in all the Fuxit brouhaha. The mysterious plague doctor in Chester had turned out to be nothing more than a common madman, looking for a party to crash. The Mexican band with a wheelbarrow full of bricks welcoming the orange toupee’d buffoon from the west had been momentarily amusing, but was nothing more than another common madman looking for a party to crash as far as Hilda could see, and not worth further investigation, but the madness that had enveloped the country over the Fuxit was another matter.

              Exit mania had swept the country ~ and not only the country, but the continent as well. Doors were falling off their hinges on buildings across Europe with the rush of people demanding to leave, or trying to keep others out. Irate women were pushing their husbands out of the front door and locking them out, while shop assistants slammed the doors shut on customers, exercising their rights to determine who should be allowed in, and who should leave. “Exit” signs on motorways were set alight and exit ramps barricaded, lighted exit signs in nightclubs were smashed. Herds of dairy cows smashed down gates and roamed the streets, and sheep huddled next to boarded doorways.

              Itinerant builders were in high demand to fix broken hinges on gates and doors, and the memes about the population becoming unhinged quickly ceased to amuse in the utter mayhem.

              Hilda decided to get a flight back to Iceland as soon as possible. As an investigative reporter, she knew she should stay, but justified leaving on the grounds that a wider picture was imperative. And frankly, she’s seen enough!

              But leaving the beleaguered nation was not going to be easy. The airline websites had been closed, and the doors on the travel agents had either been boarded up or had been removed altogether, and nobody was staffing the premises. The motorway exit ramp to the airport had been barricaded. Not to be deterred, Hilda left her hire car on the side of the road, and dragged her flight bag across the waste ground towards the airport building. The place was deserted: the doors on all the aircraft had been removed, and emergency exit signs lay smashed on the tarmac.

              “Then I have no other option,” Hilda said, “But to teleport.”


                Disappointed at the lack of interesting activity in Iceland, Hilda made a snap decision to catch the first flight to Liverpool. The news of the mysterious plague doctor roaming the streets of Chester had piqued her curiosity.

                Was it an omen or just some fool in a fancy dress costume? Maybe it was a time traveler. If so, it would be worth investigating further.


                In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


                  After a night of restless sleep, Eb’s practical ideas for the plan B were not much.

                  He’d weighted multiple options, even toyed with mad ones like playing a sort of second coming, 3 days of night and so… but none had yet the potential to elegantly solve the issue at hand. Not that it was a matter of being elegant, but Eb liked elegant and simple solutions.

                  He flipped the calendar to today’s picture. Run away, and don’t look back it said. “Great… If only…” he started to mumbled to himself.

                  He poured himself a drink, and dragged his feet towards the console, eyes still swollen by the lack of sleep. His brother, Jeb, would have told him to do some wegong energxices to keep the juices flowing, but hell, there wasn’t much room in his cubicle, and for better or worse, he preferred to stick to booze.

                  He liked to observe his ant farm, there were so many quaint and endlessly fascinating people in there. He liked the girl with the piglet for instance. She was often opinionated and sometimes oddly quiet. He had bent the rules for her, and didn’t report the piggy she’d brought to Mars with her. What harm could it bring.
                  Now she was talking to it. He waved at the console to zoom in and put the speakers on.

                  Remember, those odd stories Mater used to tell us. The Peaslanders and the blubbits was one of her favourites, she would go on and on about it, and laugh at our faces when we didn’t understand where it was going…
                  She was lost in thoughts for a moment.
                  It started like this “There was trouble in New Peasland. A plague of hungry blubbits had wiped out the pea crops.” Mater used to say it was from an old book of tales, and that the author had surpassed herself. She chuckled I guess for a long time, she was the only one to believe that. Now look at us…”

                  Eb cut the sound before the inevitable complain about missing Earth blahblah. But Peasland? That was new… He wasn’t one to dismiss an out-of-the-blue clue, and did a quick research on the network to learn more about the tale. It took a while for the Central Intelligence to run the search. It had to go deeper than usual.

                  After half an hour of waiting, he’d almost run out of scotch. Thankfully, the CI had found it. Pressed by time, and impatient by nature, Eb asked the CI to do a quick summary of the plot.
                  The central intelligence almost bugged at the request, and could only apologize for not being able to degibberize it.

                  It took him a few hours to read the book on the holographic screen, and at the end, couldn’t say if it was just a waste of time. Preposterous story, with no head nor tail, literally… But then his genius elegant solution appeared as an evidence.

                  He’d known people were more likely to comply and control if they are told a plausible lie, within the frame of their accepted reality. He just had to bridge the discontinuity of their reality, with the reality of everyone else on the planet. The tale had reminded him of this popular movie about blue aliens. Blueus ex machina, that was it!

                  He spoke at the console “Record this and run simulation parameters:”

                  The blue men are from another planet —or rather the Mars settlers are led to believe they are from another planet.
                  They bundle them all into a fake spaceship
                  and take them on a fake spaceship ride
                  and deliver them back to Earth. where they have been all along of course
                  da dah!

                  The answer came back after another painful hour of scotch-less waiting.

                  “Probability of success: 68%”
                  Well, that was the best Eb had in days. He was about to go with it when the CI chimed in

                  “We took the liberty of running a modified simulation based on your setting, which we believe can yield a ratio of 97% of success.”

                  Eb was surprised at the initiative by the machine, and was curious to hear about it.

                  “We adjusted two points:
                  1. We can simulate some event on Mars like earthquakes to increase the likelihood of a willing departure from the planet.
                  2. The blue aliens may be a future inconvenience if they are fake actors, when the Mars colony comes out of simulation and back to Earth. We would rather suggest using religious beliefs and invisible hand of God or non-corporal aliens.”

                  Eb was annoyed by the machine’s dismissal of his blue aliens. Kill his darlings?

                  “CI, any other suggestion for point 2?” he asked.

                  “Indeed. We can create artificial intelligence blue bodies based on my algorithm, which would make convincing aliens that can later interact with your governments and continue the disinformation.”

                  Eb was too drunk to realize he was about to make a devil’s pact when he agreed to launch the secret order for cybernetic blue bodies.


                  In reply to: Snowflakes of Tens


                    The leaves were dry. They’d started to change to a brownish hue at the tip, then rapidly withered. They’d hoped it wouldn’t affect the whole crop, and when the first tea bush went down, they quickly uprooted it, for fear it would spread to the whole hill.
                    But despite their best efforts, the tea bushes went down, one by one, as though engulfed by a deadly plague. He and she were worried for their next year income, as their tea field was their main source of revenue. The highlands had always been favourable to them, and it seemed such an unlikely and truly unfair event given that the beginning of the year had brought an unexpected bounty of huge tea leaves.
                    What had happened? He was quite the pragmatic about it: disease, pests, too much sun, over-watering, over-pruning… nothing extending outside the visible, the measurable. She was the mystical: core beliefs, did she worry too much about that sudden wealth and made it disappear, the evil eye, greed and covetousness, celestial punishment.

                    It never occurred to her she could reverse it as easily once she understood what it was all about.
                    Well, she almost started to get an inkling of that thinking about warts. How efficiently she got those growths when she was so troubled about them, and how they all disappeared when she forgot about them. How not to think about something that’s already in your head? In that case, distraction never worked; it was a rubber band that would be stretched then snapped back at the initial core issue.
                    Snap back at yourself.
                    >STOP< – She stopped. Time to read that telegram delivered to oneself.
                    Everything still, for a moment. Dashed.
                    She started to look around.
                    The air was still, hot and full of expectation.
                    Almost twinkling in potentials.
                    Like a providential blank page, in the middle of a heap of administrative papers full of uninteresting chatty figures.
                    The pages are put aside, only the blank page is here.
                    She can start to populate it with colours, sounds and life, anytime. Lavender maybe. Soon.
                    But not yet now.
                    She wants to breathe in the calmness, the comfort of the silence. Even the crickets seem to be far away.
                    She was alone, and impoverished…
                    She is alone, and empowered, … in power.



                      Meanwhile, Landelin was perfecting his blubbit duct-tape traps.

                      Landelin was a quite reclusive man, some Peaslanders considered him even a bit mentally challenged with a reputation for having teafing as a secondary hobby. Yes, secondary. Before teafing, came duct tape ; duct tape always came first.
                      Landelin had been fond of duct tape since he was a kid, since he’d glued his first nanny to the cellar door and then went off buying more duct tape at the local grocery store with the money he’d teafed from her. Teafing always came second.

                      Plagued as all Peaslanders with blubbits, he’d reasoned, quite reasonably for someone as mentally challenged as him, that blubbits were like worries and warts (and he knew quite a bit about the former and the latter), and none could stand a chance if administered the right amount of duct tape. By right amount, he meant, as much as needed to cover them in silver linings and eventually, maybe erradicate them —but that was a bit besides the point anyway.

                      Pity there wasn’t more than a few blue pelts’ hair to teaf from a blubbit, he thought quite reasonably again, as his last prototrap worked like a charm and had a few blubbits suffocating under a fair amount of stickiness.

                      Well, from blubbits, perhaps not so much, but from Peaslanders waiting for naught but a savior, maybe… After all the other treatments have failed, they surely would turn, as they all do, willingly or forcibly, to the raw power of taping.


                        “What?” The Majorburgmester of Peasland almost laughed of surprise at the incongruity of Fwick con Troll’s idea. “You’re telling that this…”

                        “Little spider, yes”
                        “Contains a potent venom that could wipe the blubbits off the face of Peasland?”
                        “Absolutely, dear Majorburgmester
                        “Are you out of your Fwicking mind, Fwick? What breading this nasty spider could possibly bring us any better than a plague of crop-eating blubbits in rut?”
                        “I was actually talking of breeding them, sir” Fwick objected
                        The Mayor continued unperturbed “Besides, we already have our fierce constable Stoll drill the mythic Eight Dimension for answers.”
                        “That would be placing a lot of trust in that foolish venture, I’m afraid to say, Majorburgmester. To date, very few people have managed to return safely.”
                        “Oh, who cares if they ever bloody come back Fwick! Come on! All we need to do is extort the answers from his spouse who’s kept all their heads in a safe place, I have no doubt of that.”
                        “Well… I wouldn’t place my head on this bet if I were you…”

                        “Ah, bugger off then with your stinking spider, and do your bloody experiments… As long as it doesn’t involve my name, and especially in case any misguided and sad assassination should occur, ahahaha. I’m joking of course.” The Mayor’s face (which was framed and hanged on the wall of the Majorburgmester Hall’s main office) suddenly shut any hint of humanity that could have been left on it.


                          The poor Peaslanders were utterly disoriented by the blatant lack of sense in the Eighth Dimension. It was such a blessing they had for most of them already lost their head, kept safe by a dear member of the family.

                          Once in front of them, the glowing figure uttered ominously:

                          “opened everyone eye ball,
                          Worserversity nonsense portal deep
                          sheila Elizabeth bird gone surprise
                          come speak thread
                          face cat Godfrey later create”

                          And then the figure disappeared in a fit of oink oink’s.

                          “I think it’s her shoes that make the strange sucking sounds in the mud” aptly remarked little Pickel.
                          “How come you know it was a ‘her’, it could have been a cloud as far as I know…” retorted Autie Toot who never got a chance to get a good look, with her head upside down in her arms.

                          “Silence!” ordered Pee Stoll more raucously than he had wished to “We need to concentrate! This riddle may be the clue to the plague of blubbits, can’t you see?!”
                          “Well… It’s not that easy, you know” Auntie Looh objected sheepishly, while still struggling with her garments as well as with her head.

                          “I think it’s fairly simple” ventured S’illy (whom nobody ever listened to, probably owing to her tender age as well as her melodious voice) “We got to find the Worseversity, they probably have worked on a cure; our contacts there will be a sheila called Elizabeth… and a Godfrey will provide a cat to eat the bird and put us back to our dimension…”

                          “Darn riddle!” sweared Pee furiously who hadn’t paid any attention “It’s probably just another bunch of nonsense!”
                          “I guess we’ll just go anywhere then!” merrily suggested the Aunts each going in opposite directions while the bird rolled its eyes.


                            SOON IT WILL BE REVEALED!” thundered Pickel.

                            The others, after recovering from their shock, looked at Pickel in surprise.

                            “What are you on about boy?” asked Pee.

                            Pickel was as confused as the others. “I don’t know,” he stammered. “It just came from .. no where…”

                            “Well keep it down will you, you will scare the bird we are taking to the Keeper of the Portal, whose name eludes me but he has a long beard and is old and arthritic, in order to get the bird to sing 4 notes, no more and no less, in order to open the portal and get to ED and save New Peasland from the plague of the Blubbits.”

                            Pee was feeling a need to clarify. Not for the first time he was wondering if volunteering for this dangerous mission had been wise. He fortified himself with the thought of Mungibbs.

                            “What are Mungibbs, Daddy?” asked Silly.

                            Pickel was quiet. He could feel the silver object burning a hole in his pocket.


                              There was trouble in New Peasland. A plague of hungry blubbits had wiped out the pea crops. Peas being the main staple in New Peasland, usually mixed with marmite and made into a tasty sauce, meant that the future looked grim for the increasingly hungry New Peaslanders.

                              In desperation it was decided to send a volunteer through the portal to the Eigth dimension, where it was rumoured that the inhabitants were kind hearted but rather directionless and random, and would no doubt be happy to be given some pea producing purpose.


                              In reply to: Strings of Nines


                                The Great White Botherbrood were gathered at the Great White Detention Halls in the Alter Skye. Hilarionella was leading a chorus of Ascend With Me; the congregation of misfits and miscreants, scallywags and rebrobates joined in the uplifting melody, hoping, no doubt, to ascend the Great White Stairway to The Circle of The Eighth Heaven. A little known fact was that the doors were open to anyone, although not many people knew that. A feast of watermelon awaited them at the Table of The Ascended Party Fillers, headed by that charming old scoundrel, Saint Toblerone of Germaine. That batty old coot Hoomy was Head Waiterless, which meant there was no need to wait for a table when one arrived at The Circle of The Eighth Heaven, which was just as well, all things considered.

                                Telless was waiting patiently for the Watermelon Party to start, having recently been cured of the lisp that had plagued him for centuries, an unexpected side effect of the Less Telleth More course he had eventually completed, despite being inundated throughout the semester with More, rather than Less, translations to unravel and decipher.

                                The tables, the watermelon, and other sundries had been procured with the aid of the enigmatic E. Baynoch, whose 21st century mission was to put a spanner in the works, so to speak, of the tightly held exchange mechanism currently ruling the Dense Dimension. He felt it was a key part of the Great Tilt that the inhabitants of the Dense Dimension were experiencing, and had set plans in motion for a new kind of online system in which receiving without exchange was the key factor. An interesting side effect of the new system would be that everyone could get rid of any old rubbish easily, once differences in perception were regarded in a favourable and usefully practical light.

                                Lady Paula Adoremyanus, not surprisingly, would be providing rest room facilities, providing soothing energy for those who had over-indulged in the spicy Kwan Yin Chow Mein at the Tables of the Feast of The White Parrot. Having a thousand arms was obviously a great help in her work, considering the quantity of hot spices in the Kwan Yin Chow Mein, and the popularity of her Soothing Energy Rest Rooms.


                                  Decimus! Yoo Hoo! OH MY GOD! how wonderful to see you here. What are YOU doing in Manilva? Is Antonio here too?

                                  LAVENDER! How great to see you!….. Oh Antonio, Decimus shook his head, his joy at seeing Lavender quickly replaced with sadness at the thought of his Beloved. I have not seen her for many months. Only in my dreams does she visit me, and there she is doing the strangest of things. Things no man can decipher. It is strange times indeed Lavender. Decimus sighed heavily, then rubbed his eyes and scratched his head. God, he really needed to get some help. He wondered if the great Dr Limur might be able to help him get rid of these nervous twitches. Ever since Antonio had been gone he had been rubbing, sighing, scratching! It was driving him mad. And the odour of fermented fish which constantly plagued him! Dear God, what had he done to deserve this.

                                  Lavender regarded her friend with compassion. Poor fellow, he really was behaving oddly. However, recalling her recent rather embarrassing encounter with Harvey, she decided against trying to rid Decimus of any potential lurking demons. Perhaps it was better to try and emulate the famous Tattler twins, Ann and Sally, and simply listen, rather than trying to jump in and help all the time.

                                  Anyway my dear Lavender. What brings YOU to this god forsaken place?

                                  I have an appointment to see Annabel… um, hang on I can’t remember her name .., Lavender rummaged in her purse. Oh that’s right, Annabel Ingram. She is a certified dream navigator. I found her on gloogloo when I was searching for some help with my seven new born … anyway, long story … Aspidistra has them now so that is okay … and then… the strangest thing! I found 57 of her business cards in my mail box. Isn’t that rather odd Decimus?

                                  Decidedly odd indeed, replied Decimus, with a sigh.


                                  In reply to: Synchronicity


                                    :mouse: A rat/mouse sync with Tracy’s last comment
                                    Got an email from my mum this morning calling me “the Rat” (an affectionate term coming from “library rat” as I was devouring books after books when I was a kid). Of course, it’s the Chinese rat year too :D
                                    Another thing I found this morning on a random website was the name Smintheus (Σμίνθειος) an epithet of Apollo, sun god of the Greeks, possibly derived from the Smintha, a city near Troy, or from sminthos; the mouse (- exterminator/protector). :weather-clear:

                                    ( ref ) [Footnote 7: An epithet derived from σμίνθος, the Phrygian name
                                    for a mouse: either because Apollo had put an end to a plague
                                    of mice among that people, or because a mouse was thought
                                    emblematic of augury…]


                                      Before leaving the castle, the fake Viscountess needed to check something on the skull…
                                      Was it a genuine one? She had almost trusted the so-called experts of the auction room, while she knew perfectly well that they only could see what they knew. And they didn’t know as much as her.

                                      To her knowledge, there was only a handful of genuine old crystal skulls. But counterfeits were legions and a plague for such a skillful cat burglar as she was. Well, cat-burglar,… perhaps not as acrobatically as she used to… As a matter of fact, her life-long search for these skulls had suffered the competition of a little embonpoint… — the good thing being that those few sticky superfluous pounds had been perfect to impersonate the Viscountess.
                                      In the past, she had come across a few of these fake skulls and most of them bore very similar indications leaving her to think stakes were high that they were coming from the same con-artist.

                                      She methodically drew a little dagger from a scabbard at her belt. Going to one of the window, she drew one of the curtains a few inches to reveal the pale sun of Shropshire which was already fading.
                                      Then, she turned the jeweled hilt in such a special manner that a soft clicking sound was heard, and a beam of light started to converge from the sun rays into the dagger. She directed the ray coming from the tip of the dagger’s blade into the bottom of the skull, and hold her breath in expectation.

                                      Soon the skull started to glow a bluish light, and light poured out of the skull onto the walls in dancing symbols, while a soft buzzing sound was being heard around, started to drown her in a slightly dissociated state.
                                      She cut the dagger’s beam very quickly, her heart pounding at the validation. It was a genuine skull. One of the six.

                                      She had to hurry, she needed to proceed on her investigations to find the missing ones.

                                      The trunk was there. She took another key that she had around her neck, leaving the first one on the cupboard’s lock for the Viscountess to be freed as soon as she would be out.
                                      With the key, she proceeded to open the high-tech lock of the armored trunk which opened with a blow of air.

                                      Her jumpsuit was here, along with the two turbo-reactor powered condor-wings that she strapped on her jumpsuit in very professional movements.

                                      A few moments later, with her big dark sunglasses that gave her the appearance of an obese fly, Carla was flying high over the countryside of England, enjoying the soft gliding on the slightly damp air.


                                        The buzzing of the telepooh woke up Elizabeth with a flinch, her heart pounding in fast tremolos.

                                        She grumbled restlessly, her throat dry and itchy and her limbs still limp from slumber; she was in a dream, and already, she was feeling the unusual distinct clarity of the dream scenario gently fade as her attention was focusing upon the unwelcome sound which had a distorting quality of her yet poorly focused perception of her surroundings.

                                        The buzzing ceased abruptly. She opened an eye to see the ID of the caller, but it was not displayed. Bugger the caller
                                        Still feeling groggy, she was hanging to the last images of her dreams. It was telling her a story, a legend… Something full of grandeur, like a galactic opera filled with awe, drama and excitement… A renewed fount of inspiration…

                                        The voice of the lady who had been telling her that story was still inside her head, all she had to do was to slightly let herself drift into the numb and warm state of mind in which she was some minutes ago…

                                        You are tapping into a mass event. You are translating but a minute portion of it, though it seems colossal already. It is in fact so wide that it reflects in many other worlds which all live in your imagination. Bound together, they represent more books that you could write in a lifetime, more books that you and any army of ghost-writers could write in a thousand lifetimes…

                                        The voice was delightfully soothing, and Elizabeth was seeing herself drifting again in the blissful sleep bereft of irate publishers’ diktats. Beaming at her, Elizabeth could envision a light feminine figure with flowing dark hair illuminated by green-blue shimmers. How could she ever remember all that was said… She was plagued with such bad memory…

                                        Elizabeth had her dictaphoo under her pillow, ready for such sudden strokes of genius, but her mouth dried up from nicobeck wasn’t ready to spew out words that early in the morning.

                                        What the lady with the teal eyes had shown her was an old book of prophecies, which she had named the Last Gospel, unknown yet but which would be remembered as the mass event would be enacted again.
                                        The book spoke of a triad of planets, named M’si, B’si and Earth. Just before Elizabeth woke up, she had seen that Earth was in the process of been isolated from the other parts of the cosmos, for untold reason. Suddenly, she had seen one of the planets, the one named B’si, change her quality and become a “gravitational lense” altering the perception of space from the “Earth” standpoint. The planet B’si became transparent and expanded, as though it was an exploding super-nova, but nothing radiated from the planet. Only the quality of the space was modified.

                                        Elizabeth had the idea of a novel based upon this mass event which could be her next perfect best-seller. She reached out for her typewrooter.


                                        When the World was young, the Powers were roaming in a void full of possibilities.
                                        Initially, Three Syzygies there were. By two came the Six Powers. Three Syzygies, or couples of Light Beings, each Syzygy blessed with unlimited creative powers.

                                        Elizabeth pondered for a moment… She wanted to say many things at the same time, and couldn’t write them fast enough. She started to write notes haphazardly as they came to her mind.

                                        — Two planets for themselves to play; a planet for themselves to dwell. The planets gravitate around a sun on the same orbit. Each of the Powers possess a symbolic scepter power artifact, and each couple generates a crystal or a kind of light seed which allows them to create new sentient beings… When parted, that crystal kind of light is deactivated.
                                        — One planet is home of dragons, created by one of the syzygies, another is home of giant eagles; they all are lesser Powers… The third one have giant-like Light beings…

                                        — What made the planet B’si change its quality? What became of the Powers? (I can sense them desiring to become part of their creations, willing to forget about themselves and their powers… Punishment? Mere playfulness? Perhaps there was a coup organized by the Lesser Powers?)

                                        Phew… Elizabeth yawned. All she could think of now was that she wanted to go back to sleep…


                                          — The legend of Mævel — (Part I)

                                          as told by Cpt Bone to young Tomkin

                                          In the time of the Gods, the King of the Fairies, Aldurion, fell in love with a beautiful mortal named Theÿa.
                                          He wanted to make her his Queen but only the Elder Gods could bestow the gift of immortality upon mortals.
                                          So he went to see Ghört, the God of the Airs. Ghört could certainly grant him what he requested, but for that, Theÿa would have to be transformed into an air sprite. Aldurion wouldn’t be able to hold her again. So he declined the offer, and went to see another Elder God.
                                          Then, he went to see Nærvel, the Goddess of the Waters. But Nærvel could grant him immortality if Theÿa was to be transformed into a water sprite. So Aldurion declined again.
                                          Then he went to see Agnima, the Goddess of the Flames, and then Selvaniel the God of the Woods, and Margilonia the Goddess of the Earths. But all of their conditions were the same, Theÿa would have to be transformed into an immaterial and immortal elemental fairy. But Aldurion couldn’t bear to have her changed into something else than she was.

                                          Then, only one of the Elder Gods was left, the one than few of the Immortals dared talk to, and of whom most mortals were afraid, to the point of systematically using the Old Speech respectful form of address (“Shaint”), when referring to him.
                                          So Aldurion came to see Lejüs, God of the Forgotten.
                                          Lejüs was greatly pleased to see him. When Aldurion had finished exposing his request, Lejüs took a moment to ponder. Giving immortality was none of his wonts, as he was keeper of the Forgotten. But he was not without compassion, and seeing Aldurion’s plight, he offered to grant his wish at the condition that, not his wife, but their first born child, would become Forgotten.
                                          Aldurion was so hopeful that all he saw was that the condition seemed so small, based on a future event that perhaps wouldn’t even happen… All he wanted was to have Theÿa as a Queen, and so the deal was made.

                                          So became Theÿa Queen of the Fairies.

                                          A few God’s Years later, which meant in human years much more than a few years, Theÿa became pregnant.
                                          When she announced the news to Aldurion, he was suddenly reminded of the deal he had made with Lejüs, and was quite distraught, as he had not revealed it to Theÿa. But he remained quiet, hoping that Lejüs would have forgotten about the whole story (well, that was forgetting he was Keeper of the Forgotten).
                                          So Theÿa gave birth to a little baby girl fairy, with golden wavy hair and bright eyes. She, like her mother, had no wings, but there was magic in her. They named her Araoni.

                                          But Lejüs had not forgotten of course, and came to see the Royal couple to claim the baby. Aldurion pretended that the mother and baby was still very weak, and he would have to come back in a few God’s Days. Lejüs agreed, and left complaisantly.

                                          Aldurion was at a loss for solutions, but Theÿa was a fairy with lots of ruse, so he decided to reveal it all to her, hoping that she would have a solution.
                                          Theÿa asked him time to think about this, and told him not to worry.
                                          Later, she had an idea, quite brilliant she thought. All she had to do was to find another child to give Lejüs.
                                          So she gave baby Araoni to one of her diligent nurse, the old fairy Gretchÿa, telling her to find a house were a blond new born girl could be exchanged and proceed to the exchange of the babies.

                                          So Gretchÿa went across the lands of the Worlds, but only in one home she could find a blond baby girl. The new-born baby girl was almost dying, as the parents were a careless couple of peasants, already plagued with many children, and they could not bother with children hesitating to live.
                                          Gretchÿa was heart-broken when she did the exchange, promising to baby Araoni to get her back soon. The young human baby girl was weak and yet unnamed, and the old fairy nurse knew she would probably not live long, and be claimed by Shaint Lejüs. So all was good.

                                          When Lejüs came back, he smiled as he saw the baby girl, and left with her without much more words for the Royal couple.
                                          Lejüs smiled, for when he had taken the young baby, the parents had instantly forgotten about her, and so did everyone having ever known her…

                                          The human parents, surprised to see the condition of their baby improving beyond all hope, named her Mævel, which meant marvel of Maÿ the month in which she was born.

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