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  • #4683
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    It took him three days in total. The wall was slippery in places, and distraction was always there.
    But he was done with the second wall.

    There was a last one, the largest, encircling all, but it seemed here to confuse.
    Spores were sending whiffs of hallucinogenic compounds in the misty air.
    After a whole day, he felt like he’d gone through the same places over and over.

    Labyrinth, but in his own mind.

    He would have to think fast or risk being trapped and finish as meat for carrion crows.

    The crows
    They know the way…

    It was a leap of faith to trust the sound of the birds, but nature had no evil intent, only men had developed the skill. They only followed their nature.

    He drew a sigil on the ground, to tune in with the birds spirits.

    Moments after, he could see through their eyes. He only needed to follow their senses, and ignore his own.

    He could see there was some walk ahead of him.

    #4677
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    There were strong wind currents when they passed above land, drafts of warm air competing with each other, and it took some skill to land the Jiborium Air Express without any damage.

    Albie was impressed as he observed Arona swinging between cordages, pushing the levers for added hot air, or throwing away some ballast to adjust their elevation.

    “It’s incredible the distance we can travel without refueling,” he mused aloud. As if Australia’s coasts weren’t huge enough, their travel inland seemed to have stretched for days. Sanso had been seasick most of the time, and at first Arona thought his retching was just emotion sickness, but it was only motion after all.

    “The secret is in the lard, boy. It burns longer.” Sanso said, before reaching for a bucket.
    He resumed. “Arona could have taken a Zeppelin you know, the Emporium always used to have few spares, they’re so much more comfortable, and still quite affordable.”

    “Guess your comfort wasn’t the priority, nor were you expected, were you?” Mandrake was in a somber mood, well, somberer than usual.
    “Mmh, someone’s sprightly today! Guess it doesn’t have anything to do with Ugo the gecko, does it?”

    The bickering continued a while longer after all the landing was done, and the balloon was folded back in a neat package.

    Mandrake! are you coming, or do you prefer to argument to death under the sun?”
    “Of course I’m coming.” The cat stretched and jumped on his feet, with Albie in tow.

    “Before we venture further in Mutitjulu land, we’ll need to seek permission from the local shaman.” Arona said.
    Noticing the boy, she asked “Aren’t your parents going to be concerned, you seem a little far from home!”

    “We can still send them a postcard?” he answered tentatively. “It’ll be like a quest, a rite of passage for me. After that, I’ll be a man in my village!”

    “Well, when you have had enough, let me know. I think most bodies of water are connected to the Doline, I can just send a magical trace with the last pearls to guide you home.”

    “That is kind and generous, Milady. Thank you.”

    “So what is our quest?” Sanso seemed to creep out of the shadows where he was lurking.

    “I don’t know about you Sir,” Albie jumped, “but mine is clear now. I am at Milady’s… and Milord’s (he added for Mandrake) service.”

    “Well, that won’t surely get us run in circles now.” Mandrake sniggered. He turned to Arona who was already ready to trek in the rocks and sand. “What about you? Has your quest anything to do with that key you got?”

    #4673
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Do you remember when we ‘ad those beauty treatments with that nice doctor, Sha?”

    “Oh, I do, Glor! You looked that drop dead gorgeous! You turned ‘eads.”

    “So did you, Sha! You were a stunner!”

    “Wot was ‘is name again? That doctor?”

    Mavis will know. Why don’t you send ‘er one of those text thingammybobs everyone does nowadays and find out.”

    “Good idea, Glor! Oh, you know wot!”

    “Wot Sha? Tell me? I’m all agog. ‘Ave you ‘ad one of your bloody brainwaves?”

    “I ‘ave! I’ve ‘ad a bloody brainwave … Let’s go for another beauty treatment with him! A touch up sort of thing!”

    “Oh, Sha. Oh Sha! I’ve been rendered bloody speechless at your engineuity!”

    “Wot was that girl’s name? You know, quite bossy … wot was she called again?”

    “Oh, I know who you mean? bloody bossy tart, wasn’t she. And we tried so ‘ard to help ‘er.”

    “We did. No bloody gratitude. Virginia, was it? Started with a ‘V’ I reckon.”

    “Tip of my tongue, it is. I’m that excited about your bloody idea … I can’t remember my own name, let alone ‘er name!”

    #4669

    In reply to: The Stories So Near

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Why does Arona have a key?

    Note: I am keeping this very simple. TRACY DID YOU READ THIS HELPFUL STUFF I DID FOR ERIC?

    Background story to the dolls: already supplied in Maeve’s comment to Lucinda explaining about her Uncle Fergus giving her the instructions to send the keys, via dolls, to certain addresses. Maeve doesn’t know why.

    Lucinda bought a doll from the market. How did it get there we want to know?

    This is how:

    One of the addresses on the list provided by Uncle Fergus was Bert’s address. Bert is mysterious. We don’t know much about him. We do know he refused to remortgage the house and maybe this is why.

    Aunt Idle opened the parcel for Burt out nosiness. She is very nosy. She fell in love with the doll and decided not to mention it to Burt. Even when he said, “I don’t suppose there’s been any mail for me?”

    TSK TSK

    Finly, who is still working there, came along and found the doll and thought it was “awful rubbish and dirty” and put it in the charity pile.

    The doll was purchased by a lady for her daughter. They were tourists in Australia. They took the doll with them to (wherever it is that Lucinda lives. CANADA?). The lady noticed the key at the airport and took it out as she thought it may not get through airport security.The child eventually got tired of the doll and the doll ended up at the market where it was purchased by Lucinda.

    How did Arona get the key?

    The keys have a lot of psychic energy. Arona picks up on psychic energy and zones in on it. She found the key at the airport.

    Any questions?

    #4663
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The plants seemed even more alive since Roberto had put on his new loincloth. The gardener’s joy was communicative and spreading rapidly. It had been a revelation to him, a newly found freedom and discovery of his sculptural body. Not that the gardener himself was aware of what was happening, but he enjoyed the effects of this new uniform. Knowing that it would lead to another great party was an even greater incentive for him to show it around.

    He always fancied himself as a healer of souls through his expertise of gardening, and seeing how his newly found joy in his work seemed to have awaken the desire of his landlady to get out more was a step in this direction.
    The poor woman was always staying inside, except for the big occasional parties, wearing pink night gowns. The house was too big and dark compared to the huge garden at her disposal.

    Roberto had been watering the begonias, and he also had been thinking. He thought Mistress Liz needed a man. He remembered he had kept the name card of that inspector with a fruity name. Inspector Melon. He could invite him to the Roman party and organise a little incident to have them alone for some time.
    What a marvellous idea, he thought with his latin accent.

    He went on watering the gardenias. He might be dressed up as a slave, but he had put himself in charge of the organisation of the Roman party. He would send the invitations and order the necessary props and costumes. It would be the perfect occasion also to find someone for Godfrey and Finnley.

    Although it should remain a surprise.

    #4654
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    The door snapped open and made a hole on the wall. Sophie entered shaking plane tickets she brandished like a Viking trophy. She paused, looked at the wall and said :
    “Oops! Sorry for that. I don’t know my strength since that Doctor experimented on me. I never asked for that,” she added trying to put on a sorry face, but her shining eyes betrayed her mercilessly.

    “Well, what about those plane tickets ?” asked Miss Bossy. “I don’t recall validating the expense.” She kept her lips tight and didn’t say for you but thought it very hard.

    “You didn’t need to, someone sent them to me. Apparently they want me to investigate the China doll production and are sending me to…” she paused and looked at the destination. Her excited look faded away so fast that Ricardo and Miss Bossy looked at each other from the corner of their eyes. It was hard to maintain, but not impossible if you practiced yoga regularly.

    “What?” asked Ricardo, a tad irritated by the interruption.

    “Well, I thought they were sending me to China, but apparently they are sending me to
    Finland to investigate the Suomenlinna Toy Museum… about their china dolls… Someone can take my place if they want,” said old Sophie.

    Miss Bossy took the letter and read it quickly as only a boss can do.

    “They specifically ask for you. I’m sorry, dear old Sophie, but we can’t spare our resources at the moment, you’ll have to go alone,” she offered her best bossy smile face ever. Her aunt Marcella would have been proud of her.

    #4653
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Come on now,” said Ricardo. “Nobody has put anything out there about the dolls. Come and sit down on this nice comfy office chair and tell us what is going on. You will do yourself an injury running in those heels. Lovely shoes of course,” he added quickly.

    Miss Bossy Pants glared at him suspiciously but allowed herself to be coaxed to the nearest office chair while Hilda and Connie raised their eyebrows and Sweet Sophie snorted.

    “That’s right,” he said. “Just let me wipe that chair for you before you sit. Now, you tell us what’s going on while I make the tea. One sugar?”

    Hilda and Connie made gagging noises.

    Slimy creep, hissed Connie.

    “No hurry then,” said Hilda. “We’ve only been waiting half an hour for tea already.”

    Miss Bossy Pants wiped her forehead with a tea towel, too relieved to question what a tea towel was doing on the desk. She pulled her phone out and scrolled through her messages.

    “I received this,” she said. “Read it out will you, Ric. I can’t stand to look at it again.”

    “Put a lid on the doll story or you will be sorry. And I mean very sorry Very very sorry,” read Ric. “Hmmm rather unimaginative as threats go, don’t you think?”

    “Scroll through to the next one.”

    “By the way, it’s the DOCTOR sending this, in case you think for one moment this is an unimaginative idle threat.”

    #4649
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Maeve had left only taking with her the wrapping of the package and had been glad to leave Shawn Paul with its content, especially when she had seen what it was.

    The mysterious thing was heavy, brown and looked a tad like a dry turd. It could hold in Shawn Paul’s hand and it seemed shaped to fit in his closed fist, but the young man hesitated to keep it too long because of the way it looked.
    A note from his mother accompanied it. Who else could have sent a parcel this way? he thought, meaning not through the post office and delivered by a decrepit old man.
    So the thing had been put on top of a pile of his latest scribblings, which was on top of his not so latest scribblings. Before putting it there, he almost saw the interest of a clean desktop or table, but it got lost in the immediacy of the moment and the tiredness caused by his recent fever.

    “I’m sure you’re wondering what this marvellous object is.” the note started. Shawn Paul looked at the thing. It looked like a turd more than ever on all that white paper, so he made his yuck face. What he was wondering was rather why did she send me anything? She lives in an apartment on the upper floor. She could have brought it herself.

    “I found it in a car boot sale,” she continued, her sharp and melodious voice chirping in her son’s head while he read the rest. “I met that old man, Patrick, who will deliver it to you. He’s a dear nice fellow never frugal with his words, and he told me it had been given to him by an Inuit shaman. It’s a fossil bone of the inner ear of a whale when they escaped Lemuria. Can you imagine that? Apparently it will help you develop your psychic abilities. You know how I’ve always known you had such a great potential in that area…”

    Shawn Paul snorted and put down the paper. There was no use keeping up reading. His mother and her crazy ideas. He looked at the pile of papers.
    It’ll do for a nice paperweight, he thought.

    But Granola had not lost a crumble of what the mother had told in the rest of the note. She was lurking at the inner bone and she wondered if she could make herself heard if she merged with it.

    #4634
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Before she left, thankful to get back to her own pristine apartment, Maeve told Lucinda the story of the dolls.

    “It’s a long story,” she warned and Lucinda smiled encouragingly.

    “My father’s brother, Uncle Fergus, fell out with my father many years ago. I don’t know what it was about.”

    Maeve took a sip of her licorice and peppermint tea.

    “I just know that one day, Uncle Fergus turned up on his Harley Davidson and there was a huge fight. Father was shouting and Mother was crying. And Father shouted ‘Don’t ever darken our doors again!’

    She shuddered. “It was awful.”

    “I am all ears,” said Lucinda.

    “They aren’t that bad,” said Maeve looking at her thoughtfully. “And your hair covers them nicely.”

    Her hand flew to her mouth as she realised what Lucinda meant.

    “Oh gosh, I am sorry, I see what you mean … Well anyway, I didn’t see Uncle Fergus for many years and I was sorry about that because he would always bring me a gift from his overseas travels — he went to the most exotic places — and then one day he turned up at my apartment out of the blue. He was most peculiar, looking over his shoulder the whole time and he even made me come out on the street to talk ‘in case there were bugs’.”

    “Bugs? Oh, like the things spies use. Wow,” said Lucinda. “Did he have mental health problems or something?”

    “I wondered that at the time. I mean Uncle Fergus was always endearingly loony. But this time he was just … just scared. And there WAS someone following him. I saw her. And she was clearly a spy. She was wearing a black wig and and fishnet tights and thought we couldn’t see her hiding behind a lamp post.”

    Maeve rolled her eyes.

    “I mean, how cliche can you get. Anyway, Uncle Fergus gave me a big hug, like an Uncle would, and whispered an address in my ear where I would find a satchel and he said that inside I would find 12 keys and 12 addresses. He knew I made dolls and he said it would be a perfect way to send the keys to the addresses, inside a doll. ‘Important people are depending on you’ he said.”

    Maeve shrugged.

    “So I did it. I sent the last one a month ago to an address in Australia. An Inn somewhere in the wops.”

    #4610
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Next on her list was Shawn-Paul. Or at least, she liked to think she had a neat ordered list and a method to her travels, but truth was she would often be propelled to the oddest places by random idea associations and would then pop-in to less than savory spots.

    Not that she didn’t like to see through the eyes of an hideous little teddy-troll made of orgone. Granola had always hated orgone with its trapped garbage in clear resin, sold a million bucks for silly woowoo purposes. It didn’t prevent her projecting into it for one. She was actually wondering if it wasn’t actually working and enhancing her capacity to get irate.

    When she started to feel everything vibrate, she forced herself to slow her thoughts down, and tell the particles trapped in the resin of the orgone teddy-troll to also slow down and breathe with her.

    Now. She had a good view on Shawn-Paul who was strolling along the aisles of the oddest of minerals in the crystal & fossils market. The heat was making the asphalt sizzle at place, and the warm air was making her view blurry in waves of mirages. She tried to send some pop-in energy to get him to notice, but either he was too stoned by the heat, or lost in his thoughts as usual… Of course, there was so little chance that he was simply appalled by the orgone display on the shelves.

    “Focus” she thought, trying to channel her giant essence into the tip of the figurine, she pushed her energy towards SP’s direction.

    The orgone teddy-troll started to wobble and dance precariously above the ledge of the shelve, starting its slow motion fall to the ground.

    The excitement made Granola’s consciousness suddenly untethered and leave for another mental space. She moaned as she couldn’t see if the figurine had landed and successfully drawn the attention of SP…

    #4599
    EricEric
    Keymaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

    #4590
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Halfway through the afternoon, Lucinda wished she’d never started rearranging the furniture. It was clearly a case of too much clutter in too small a space, but Lucinda felt compelled to persevere until the perfect combination of requirements and available and suitable positions presented itself.

    Eventually a satisfactory arrangement settled into place, and Lucinda sat down on the sofa. She’d found a screwdriver underneath it when she swept under it, a Phillips. She didn’t think much of it, at the time, but later, after a few sips of wine, she wondered if there was any particular meaning to it. Not just any old screwdriver, it was a Phillips. Did that mean somebody called Phillip was trying to send her a message? Or was it the cross that was the symbolic part, like hot cross buns, and Easter. Lucinda could almost smell the warm spicy aroma of the toasted buttered hot cross buns she’d had for breakfast.

    After a few more sips of wine, this train of thought led Lucinda to another train of thought ~ or as some would say, a sort of blathering cushion affair ~ and left her wondering about a number of things.

    #4585
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Liz’” Godfrey glared reproachfully in the direction of Liz fresh line of grated coco’nut. “What did we say about those old snorting habits of yours?”
    “A whole lot of bloody nonsense, that’s for sure”

    “Except that had you listened to me… err to us,” he corrected, seeing Finnley’s glinting eyes lurking in the dark ominously with furious clicks of her knitting apparatus “we wouldn’t have had these unsavoury lobster mobster characters coming to collect our debts.”

    Silence followed by another loud snort.

    “At least,” sighed Godfrey “with all that extra inspiration, do you have anything new to send to Bronkle? And by new, I mean a completed manuscript, not a suitcase full of gargoyles.”

    #4576
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “What you all don’t realize,” Liz said, “Is that all of this so called fun is in fact highly significant. You think we’re all playing around scribbling nonsense and gadding about on the lawn acting the fool for no reason just for something to do. But this is a vital and rare artifact in the future! My dears, you have no idea!”

    “I think it might be vascular dementia,” Finnley whispered to Roberto, “I read about it in a magazine this morning.”

    “Mint tea from the Basque country?” replied Roberto, holding his glass up to the light for a closer look.

    Finnley rolled her eyes and inched closer to Godfrey, hoping for a better response when she told him her theory.

    “Imagine her in a denim basque, you say? I’d rather not! HA!” Godfrey spit out a few bits of peanut with the final HA!, which was forceful enough to send a few of them flying across the room.

    “You’ve got bits of nut in my Basque mint tea now!” Roberto exclaimed ~ somewhat rudely; he forgot for a moment he was just the gardener.

    “I think they’ve all lost their marbles,” remarked Liz, just for the written record for the historians in the future who would find this story; and for the benefit of the AI they had unwittingly been programming all along. Although what the AI was actually being programmed with perhaps didn’t bear thinking about. A further though nagged at Liz despite her efforts to ignore it. What if it did matter? What were they creating?

    #4475
    TracyTracy
    Participant

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

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

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

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

    #4472
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    With a spring in her step that she had all but forgotten she possessed, Eleri set off on her trip to speak to her old friend Jolly about her husband Leroway’s latest plan that was causing some considerable controversy among the locals. Eleri planned to make the visit a short one, and to hasten back to Margoritt’s cottage in time for the departure of the expedition ~ because she surely wanted to be a part of that. But first, she had to see Jolly, and not just about Leroway. There was a sense of a stirring, or a quickening ~ it was hard to name precisely but there was a feeling of impending movement, that was wider than the expedition plans. Was Jolly feeling it, would she be considering it too? And if not, Eleri would bid her farewell, and make arrangements with her to send a caretaker down to her cottage. And what, she wondered, would happen about care taking the cottage if Jolly’s villagers were on the move again? Eleri frowned. How much did it matter? Perhaps a stranger would find it and choose to stay there, and make of it what they wished. But what about all her statues and ingredients? Eleri felt her steps falter on the old rocky road as her mind became crowded with all manner of things relating to the cottage, and her work.

    You don’t have to plan every little thing! she reminded herself sternly. None of that has to be decided now anyway! It’s wonderful day to be out walking, hark: the rustling in the undergrowth, and the distant moo and clang of a cow bell.

    The dreadful flu she’d had after the drenching had left her weakly despondent and not her usual self at all. But she’d heard the others talking while she’d been moping about and it was as if a little light had come on inside her.

    She still had trouble remembering all their names: ever since the flu, she had a sort of memory weakness and a peculiar inability to recall timelines correctly. Mr Minn (ah, she noted that she had not forgotten his name!) said not to worry, it was a well known side effect of that particular virus, and that as all time was simultaneous anyway, and all beings were essentially one, it hardly mattered. But Mr Minn, Eleri had replied, It makes it a devil of a job to write a story, to which he enigmatically replied, Not necessarily!

    Someone had asked, Who do we want to come on the expedition, or perhaps they said Who wants to come on the expedition, but Eleri had heard it as Who wants to be a person who wants to go on an expedition, or perhaps, what kind of person do the others want as an expedition companion. But whatever it was, it made Eleri stop and realize that she wasn’t even enjoying the morose despondent helpless feeling glump that she has turned into of late, and that it was only a feeling after all and if she couldn’t change that herself, then who the devil else was going to do it for her, and so she did, bit by bit. It might feel a bit fake at first, someone had said. And it did, somewhat, but it really wasn’t long before it felt quite natural, as it used to be. It was astonishing how quickly it worked, once she had put her mind to it. Less than a week of a determined intention to appreciate the simple things of the day. Such a simple recipe. One can only wonder in amazement at such a simple thing being forgotten so easily. But perhaps that was a side effect of some virus, caught long ago.

    Enjoying the feeling of warm sun on her face, interspersed with moments of cool thanks to passing clouds, Eleri noticed the wildflowers along the way, abundant thanks to all the rain and all flowering at once it seemed, instead of the more usual sequence and succession. Briefly she wondered is this was a side effect of the virus, and another manifestation of the continuity and timeline issues. Even the wildflowers had all come at once this year. She had not noticed all those yellow ones flowering at the same time as all those pink ones in previous years, but a splendid riot they were and a feast for the eyes.

    The puffy clouds drifting past across the sun were joining invisible hands together and forming a crowd, and it began to look like rain again. Eleri felt a little frown start to form and quickly changed it to a beaming smile, remembering the handy weightless impermeability shield that someone (who? Glynnis?) had given her for the trip. She would not catch another dose of the drenching memory flu again, not with the handy shield.

    The raindrops started spattering the path in front of her, spotting the dusty ground, and Eleri activated the device, and became quite entranced with the effects of the droplets hitting the shield and dispersing.

    #4471
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    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.

    #4462
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Night had fallen when Rukshan came back to the cottage. He was thinking that they could wait a little bit for the trip. He did not like that much the idea of trusting the safety of their group to a stranger, even if it was a friend of Lhamom. They were not in such a rush after all.

    Rukshan looked at their luxuriant newly grown pergola. Thanks to the boost potion Glynis had prepared, it had only took a week to reach its full size and they have been able to enjoy it since the start of the unusual hot spell. The creatures that had hatched from the colourful eggs Gorrash had brought with him were flowing around the branches creating a nice glowing concerto of lights, inside and out.

    It was amazing how everyone were combining their resources and skills to make this little community function. In the shadow of the pergola there was an empty pedestal that Fox had built and Eleri had decorated with nice grapes carvings. Gorrash was certainly on patrol with the owls. His friends had thought that a pedestal would be more comfortable and the pergola would keep Gorrash’s stone from the scorching heat of the sun. Also, he wouldn’t get covered in mud during the sudden heavy rains accompanying the hot spell.

    Seeing the beautiful pedestal and the carved little stairs he could use to climb up, Gorrash had tried to hide the tears in his eyes. He mumbled it was due to some desert dust not to appear emotional, but they all knew his hard shell harboured the softest heart.

    The dwarf had repaid them in an unexpected way. Every day just before sunrise, he would take a big plate in his hands and jumped on the pedestal before turning to stone. It allowed them to put grapes or other fruits that they could eat under the shadow of the of the pergola.

    Rukshan came into the house and he found Margoritt sitting at the dining table on which there was a small parchment roll. Her angry look was so unusual that Rukshan’s felt his chest tighten.

    “They sent me a bloody pigeon,” she said when she arrived. She took the roll and handed it to Rukshan. “The city council… Leroway… he accuses us of unauthorised expansion of the house, of unauthorised construction on communal ground, and of unlicensed trade of manufactured goods.” Margoritt’s face was twisted with pain as the said the words.

    Rukshan winced. Too much bad news were arriving at the same time. If there was a pattern, it seemed rather chaotic and harassing.

    “They threaten us to send a bailif if we don’t stop our illegal activities and if we don’t pay the extra taxes they reclaim,” she continued. “I’m speechless at the guile of that man.”

    Rukshan smiled, he wondered if Margoritt could ever be rendered speechless by anything except for bad flu. He uncoiled the roll and quickly skimmed through the long string of accusations. Many of them were unfair and, to his own opinion unjustified. Since when the forest belonged to Leroway’s city? It had always been sacred ground, and its own master.

    “I have no money,” said Margoritt. “It’s so unfair. I can’t fight with that man. I’m too old and tired.”

    “Don’t forget we are all in the same cottage, Margoritt. It’s not just you. Eventhough, they clearly want to evict us,” said Rukshan. “Even if we had enough money, they would not let us stay.” He showed her the small roll. “The list of accusations is so ludicrous that it’s clearly a ploy to get rid of us. First, that road they want to build through the forest, now evicting us from the ground.” And those bad omens from the mountain, he thought with a shiver.

    “We are not going to give them that satisfaction, are we?” asked Margoritt, pleading like a little girl. “We have to find something Rukshan,” she said. “You have to help me fight Leroway.”

    “Ahem,” said a rockous voice. Gorrash had returned from his patrol. “I know where to find money,” he added. “At leas, I think I know. I had another dream about my maker. It’s just bits and pieces, but I’m sure he hid some treasure in the mountains. There was that big blue diamond, glowing as brightly as a blue sun. And other things.”

    A big blue diamond? It sounds familiar. Rukshan thought. There was an old fae legend that mentioned a blue diamond but he couldn’t remember. Is it connected to the blue light Olliver mentioned earlier? He wondered.

    “That’s it! You have to go find this treasure,” said Margoritt.

    Rukshan sighed as he could feel the first symptoms of a headache. There was so much to think about, so much to do. He massaged his temples. The trip had suddenly become urgent, but they also had to leave someone behind to help Margoritt with the “Leroway problem”. And he winced as he wondered who was going to take care of that road business. It was clear to him that he couldn’t be everywhere at the same time. He would have to delegate.

    He thought of the telebats. Maybe he could teach the others how to use them so that he could keep in touch and manage everything at distance. He sighed again. Who would be subtle and sensitive enough to master the telebats in time?

    #4461
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Rukshan went into the forest and looked carefully for a particular creature. It was almost nightfall and there should be some of them already out on the branches. The air was cooler in the evening, thanks also to the big trees protecting them from the scorching sun, and Rukshan couldn’t help but think that the climate was really going haywire. One day cold, one week hot and wet. And this bad omen feeling that everybody seemed to get recently. He knew it was time to go, and despite the comfort of Margoritt’s cottage, he was starting to feel restless.

    He was making a lost of noise, stepping on every dry twigs he could find. A couple of rabbits and the crowd of their offsprings jumped away, a deer looked at him as if he was some vulgar neighbour and the birds flew away, disturbed during their evening serenades. But this was the kind of noise that would attract the telebats, small nocturnal animals that you could use for long distance communication.

    He found one on an old oak tree. It seemed to be in resonance with his cracking twigs. Rukshan hurried and caught it before the spell of his steps would dissipate.

    Rukshan to Lhamom: Hope everything’s fine. Stop. Something happened. Stop. Need help organise trip to mountains. Over,” he whispered in the sensitive ears of the small animal. The telebat listened carefully and opened its little mouth, making sounds that no normal ears could hear. Maybe Fox could have, but he would have found it as annoying as the cracking twigs. Then Rukshan waited.

    The answer wasn’t long to come. He knew it because the ears of the creature vibrated at high frequency. He listened into the creature’s left ear where he could hear the answer.

    Lhamom to Rukshan: Father not well. Stop. I’m worried. Stop. Have to go home take care of him. Stop. I send Drummis to help you. Over.”

    Rukshan responded with “Thanks. Stop. Hope everything well with Father. Stop. Have safe trip home. Over.”

    He hung up the telebat on the branch where he found it, and gave it a moth that he had found on his way.
    Rukshan frowned. He have never met Drummis. He wondered if he could trust him.

    #4442

    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    sun bird
    careful started beginning mushrooms
    desire spell glass hope floor
    night taking melon send turned behind fur
    dust elderly approaching

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