Lots of things were moving around, Quintin felt. It was nothing he could have explained in words of the physical world, but he was aware of some deep movement, something like a new beginning.
Lots of others had been moving too, in their own ways, sometimes not quite comfortably, but it was calmer now, like after a tempest, clear limpid sky, and splinters of wooden ships floating gently on the oily surface of the sea.
Dory had been very sick in Madagascar she’d told him, perhaps after having eaten some food, she could not have told why. But now was better… It had seemed a good night of sleep was good enough a medicine for her.
He had dreamed of Fiona too, some shared past lives in the 1860s in a small town in the US, it had been very vivid, and he had felt a great lovingness between them… Somehow they could find each other again, anytime, he knew that.
As for Yann, after that week-end they had spent together, all was clear too between them, they could create the fun they wanted without needing to make it difficult for them, it was only a matter of being accepting of their own choices and impulses, which was at times easier said than done.
But the brave front Arona had put on for the dragon crumbled as she looked at the door.
She sat down on the ground and started to cry, and once she started she found she could not stop.
She was so afraid. The courage she felt earlier had deserted her and been replaced by a sadness she did not really even fathom herself.
I am tired of this no man’s land, this endless searching. And I am so afraid that behind the door is just yet another dark tunnel. I hate riddles, people should say what they mean, and yes, I am very tired of this heavy black cape.
And so saying Arona angrily took off the cape and threw it to the ground.
She cried and cried and cried, and the little glukenitch lying unseen in the darkest corner luxuriated in the extra dampness her tears added to the ground.
When she had done crying she found her strength again, enough to keep going with the journey
The life I lead is mere hours or less
I serve all my time by being consumed
I am quickest when thin, slowest when fat
And wind is the bane of the gift that I bring
Dragon, is that you?, Arona looked around, peering into the half light, but she could not see the crafty dragon, who had once again taken the form of a tiny weaszchilla. He had however retained his own voice, for a weaszchilla cannot be heard easily by human ears
Why should you care, do you want to see my stupid dragon face now?
I said silly, not stupid, and perhaps your face is not really so silly for a dragon, however your personality is certainly not that endearing, grumbled Arona
It doesn’t bark
It doesn’t bite
But still won’t let you in the house
Arona thought for a moment, a lock
Well I suggest you turn your attention to it then, because it is the only way out now.
Arona was alarmed, What do you mean?
The dragon laughed and as Arona turned around again in search of him, she discovered to her horror that the tunnel she had just traversed had disappeared, and was now a wall.
What’s the matter? Were you thinking of turning back? Leormn grinned to himself. He was enjoying this, but perhaps it was time to return to his other business and let the girl get on with her adventure.
Oh well, perhaps just time for one more for riddle before I go, the dragon thought, he was having so much fun.
The more that there is
The less that you see
Squint all you like
When surrounded by me
Oh that is too easy Dragon. The answer is darkness said Arona in a quiet voice.
The dragon had to hand it to her, she wasn’t stupid.
By the way, he called as he disappeared down a weaszchilla sized tunnel he had created for himself, aren’t you rather hot with that cape on?
The life I lead is mere hours or less … oh he means the candle said Arona to herself, and pulling her cloak around her, turned to face the door.
Glukenitches were slimy wet creatures fearing light, and thus kept most of their time living underground. They lived in colonies generated from a single individual, and they shared the same mind. It was thus quite easy to communicate with all of them at the same time, and that often proved quite useful, for people not at ease with teleportation, as glukenitches, despite their not very engaging looks, were most helpful creatures.
They especially liked the cave where Malvina had settled down, because there was this moisture and steam coming from the hot springs which allowed them to live a relatively peaceful life. They used to eat almost everything, not too regarding as to the nature of the things they consumed, and were quite useful recyclers of garbage. Their droppings had a bluish halo to them, which made the inside of the tunnels glow with them until they had completely dried up, and coalesced into a glassy substance.
That is, until Leörmn had it all changed again.
So Leörmn was quite fond of these creatures as they were of a great help to keep the natural balance of the cave.
Don’t worry he told the glukenitch mind, gripshawks are not as carefree as they seem; most of them are simply known for their dreadful sense of direction, and also at times for their limited attention span…
Oh yes, answered the mind now I understand, this one buggered off without any notice… Could have asked for directions, but we guess it would have been useless anyway… Perhaps this one thought I would eat it. As if we were such undiscerning creatures…
As the adage goes, “Not even the Elders could know what’s in the mind of a gripshawk”… answered Leörmn enigmatically…
You know, added the mind, without meaning to be disrespectful, it’s twice now we’ve got people falling inside this hole… Perhaps for your next transmugrification you’ll like to block it. At least, the first one, that boy, was much more polite and engaging, but you know, we cannot have all the Worlds move in here as if it were Shaint Lejüs Festival…
Sanso was used to travelling alone. He’d been exploring this cave on his own for several years now, and it suited him, on the whole. No need to confer, or compromise, or rush to keep up, or slow down to let others catch up. He could follow his own impulses without hindrance. He did meet others on his travels, but only at the cave entrances, or rather, the times and places that the cave entrances revealed. He never felt an urge to settle though at any of these places, always compelled to return to the caves mysterious and ever changing labyrinthine tunnels.
The disembodied voices and coloured wispies were always with him in the tunnels. Sometimes one would be louder than another for awhile, then another would assume prominence. The bleakest coldest times were when he wasn’t noticing them; that’s when he found himself going round and round in circles, lost in the maze.
The electric blue wispy had been around alot lately, comforting him with little explosions of pinprick blue lights, and a golden mustard yellow one. English, not French mustard, he reminded himself, although he didn’t think it mattered and wondered why he’d thought it.
Sanso had been almost crawling for some time in a particuarly cramped and difficult tunnel; bent double for most of the time, his back was aching and he longed to stretch out. The thought of going back, retracing his steps, was unbearable, so he continued, and tried not to be discouraged.
‘Find something to appreciate, Appreciation is the key’ the voice of the blue wispy sounded amused, but in a kindly and endearing sort of way. Harumph, muttered Sanso, easy to say! It would help if there was something to appreciate!
Just then Sanso heard another voice, muttering something over and over again. ‘… dragon egg dragon… egg dog egg … dragon dog egg…’ What the heck was that all about?
Illi woke up and groaned. Her back was aching and she felt like she’d fallen down a hill, or plummeted into a hole. I thought sleep was supposed to be relaxing, she grumbled as she shuffled off to make coffee. Ten pairs of eyes followered her every movement, assessing her mood. Some of the eyes winked at the other eyes, and nodded…yes, let’s remind her, she’s useless at these clues, ok guys, everyone ready…steady…GO!
Illi jolted unpleasantly and painfully as a dreadful cacophany of dog barking erupted around her, and warm squirming bodies tumbled everywhere.
How can I possibly focus on SELF, you stupid creatures, when you keep barking like that! Illi sighed, she knew she was getting it backwards, but her whole world was topsy turvey, nothing was as it seemed anymore. Which comes first, the dragon, or the egg?
dragon or the egg, hhmm, egg before the dragon? or the dragon before the egg….irritated because the dogs barked? or dogs barked because I was irritated? eggs, dragons, eggs, dragons, dogs, eggs dragons eggs…..
Illi sighed, and made another cup of coffee.
And then as if by magic an extraordinary thing happened….
Hells Bells muttered Arona to herself , this had better not be some sort of a test that dragon is putting me through
As she stepped forward into the darkness of the chosen path, she had a sudden sense she was walking off the edge of a cliff.
Arona had been practising quietness for a long time. The journey had been lonely at times and offered her many opportunities to practise her skills. There were so many parts of her wanting to have a say, discuss, analyse her every move, so that she would become paralysed and unable to move at all. In desperation almost she had learned to still the voices and find that part of herself she most believed herself to be. The part which believed in the existence of magic.
Well done, and shall you fly?
Arona hesitated. It was that voice again. She was not sure if this new voice came from her own thoughts, but she felt not.
Great, she thought, perfect time to finally lose it. Stuck in a dark cave with a troublesome dragon.
Shrugging her shoulders she went still inside and moved her body forward.
It was hard for the proud dragon to consider, but he did wonder if sometimes he went too far with his joking. After all for him the cave was a playground, clay he could mould at will, or at a whim. Perhaps one could even call it a work of art, he thought proudly.
But he did realise that for the girl, who was newer to the ways of magic (although showed the most tremendous potential he grudgingly had to admit), he realised it represented something far deeper, a dual potential, the hope of light, but also the possibility of the deepest darkness.
For a moment he even considered revealing his whereabouts.
She is fine , Malvina answered his thoughts, she loves the challenge. It is what drew her here.
Malvina enchanted harp had been playing for quite some time now, an old tune from her homeland and she was beginning to feel like she wanted to improvise some new music.
She had been combing every nook and cranny of every hole into the many tunnels spreading inside the cave this morning, and was quite exhausted now. Of all the few pearl-like eggs that she had found, only two looked like a promise of new baby dragons. Others would probably dry up and become hard glassy balls, that she could polish and sell in the market of the village.
These round balls were mostly bought by rich merchants who used them only as decorations, or as a ostentatious display of riches. Few of them knew that imbued with dragon magix, they could be used as focal points, especially for two people to communicate through them.
Malvina did not care to explain to the buyers, as long as they were only interested in the mundane. That was somewhat saddening at times, because when people started to forget about the innate magix pervading the Worlds, they started to loose their power to steer their own ships. And sometimes, for some of them, they would just create strange things out of nowhere, like sudden rains in a clear blue sky, only to remind them of this power. But for the less fortunate of them, they would just wallow in the mud and cry to the sky, forgetting that they were creating this for a purpose…
But now, the harp was calling for her, and she knew it would delight the little Buckberry and the guests she could feel were approaching, if not here already…
He had laughed a tiny squeak when he had heard her gasp “Rats”, but it had been muffled down by the flight of the schpurniatz. That was another test for the girl’s endurance, and she had brilliantly passed.
Of course, as he could change the cave’s tunnels into his mind, he would not have let Avona fall into a pit… Well now that he thought of it, that could have been interesting and quite funny, but she probably wouldn’t have appreciated that kind of humour.
But the dragon also was not really giving her clues as to how she could perceive the tunnels, because after all, she was also choosing her way, in a sense.
You are so wicked! laughed the delightful vibrant voice of Malvina in his head.
Oh yes, he answered mentally, and I see that you enjoy it too…
Illi set off at a brisk trot in search of the cave. A deafening clap of thunder made her flinch and lose her footing. She slipped, and slid down a steep slippery wet bank, tumbling and rolling out of control. Arrgghh! How embarrassing, she thought, I hope no-one is watching….OUCH! She banged her head on a strangely perfect long oblong stone, which catapulted her into the air and into a cork oak tree. Lordy! She clung onto the knobbly grey bark, trembling and gasping.
Well, I may as well have a smoke and catch my breath, she thought, at least it’s fairly dry here in this tree. She inched upwards until she found a comfortable fork in the branches and leaned her back against the trunk, fishing in the pockets of her tartan jacket for her Camels and her lighter.
Ahhhh….that’s better! Now, where are we? Illi felt more optimistic, and surveyed the terrain. AHA! In a little dip behind the tree was a dark hole in the ground. That will lead to a cave, I’m sure of it! Illi lit another smoke, musing that she might never have found the cave entrance had she not banged her head on the strange oblong stone, and hurtled into the tree.
Feeling much more enthusiastic, Illi climbed down out of the tree and went to investigate the dark hole in the ground. HHmmmm…no sign of a rope, or steps, no light, she wondered what to do next. A voice boomed in her head TRUST! Trust is the key!
Suddenly feeling very devil-may-care and adventurous, Illi dived into the hole head first… wwwwhhhheeeeeee HOOOOO…… the free-fall was exhilarating, exciting, wildly fun….and then a little voice of doubt crept in, Are you stark raving MAD?
Whallop! Illi landed on something soft, something sodden and smelling a bit of mold. Momentarily stunned, she just lay there, in a heap on the soft wet lump.
“Holy MOLY” the soft wet lump shouted “Get OFF me! How incredibly RUDE to land on me like that without so much as an introduction!”
Fiona could feel herself on the verge of doing something radical. In fact she had decided. She was not sure what exactly she had decided, but definitely a decision had been made. She had noticed how often she had been deleting her posts lately on an online blog she kept.
It was clearly a sign.
Fiona enjoyed deleting. Quintin and Dory were rather odd about her deleting. Quintin especially, who apparently never deleted anything. She wondered if this was reflected in other aspects of his life. Maybe he was a hoarder, barely able to move for all the things surrounding him. Dory tended to be a bit of hoarder, she often confessed to this trait. Nothing wrong with hoarding of course, thought Fiona. It is perfectly fine.
Fiona resisted a sudden impulse to go and delete her whole blog, for now anyway.
She was not quite sure what form her decision would take, but realised she felt distinctly peaceful.
Oh bugger it, Illi thought… She was rather an impatient spotted gripshawk.
‘When in doubt, go somewhere else’ was her motto, indeed of her tribe. That was the trouble with her tribe, she grumbled, they’d all wandered off….
She cast her eyes around wondering which way to go, and something caught her eye. It looked like a big soft blue-black rock, but on closer inspection turned out to be a heavy cape, sodden from the rain, and smelling unpleasantly of mold.
Inside her cave, Malvina was playing the harp. She was happy and in harmony with the Worlds.
She came from a long lineage of Light Sorcerers and Sorceresses, but had preferred to the fuss of a great career in one of the quarreling kingdoms, a pleasant life inside this cave. The cave had been empty when she had found it, safe from some schpurniatz, but she knew how to tame them, and she had even left a few shadowy places for them to rest , hung upside down under the holes and crevices during daylight, when she had used Magix to transform the rocky walls into a comfortable dwelling place.
She was happy, because new eggs had been laid, and they had come early this time. The eggs, she cherished not because of their gilded aspect, but because they were the sons and daughters of her mighty dragon friend Leörmn. Eggs were highly sought by greedy pirates of the Northern Seas, and though she had been as discrete as possible, she knew they had lots of informants, and her aura was spreading in the villages around, especially since she had helped that little boy who had fallen inadvertently inside the cave.
At least, this time she would be warned by Leörmn, who was keeping watch at the entrance, and whose riddles could very well befuddle the greedy uninvited fellows into forgetting their names altogether.
So now, she played, and played, and music notes were like soothing water drops, carried away by the rivulet inside the cave…
But Arona had more compelling matters to pursue. The music was calling. She pulled her cloak around tightly around herself, for she knew there was strong magic in these parts, and one could never be quite sure … yet she was learning to trust her inner knowing, and there was a lightness to be felt in the air.
The music came from a cave in the hillside and she moved gently towards the entrance.
where… the sound…
of my tears hits the ground
Just like the rain
Just like the rain…
Just like the rain (Richard Hawley)
Dory has felt like the singer lately, “walking a world of empty streets”, but this had been a fruitful time to gather much information on herself; and now, there was something new she felt was coming her way. Or perhaps it was the other way around, she was coming to it, but in fact, it couldn’t matter less.
It had been, now she thought of it, it had been like a settling down of winter, so that the magic snow could appear, and be laid upon the barren lands, to provide a renewed enjoyment and vista on the landscape.
And the drops of the rain created a playful symphony of waves on the surface of the pond she was looking at through the window, and she rejoiced with the goldfishes of what was to come now.
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