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  • #5672
    EricEric
    Keymaster

      “Aren’t you worried it’s been 2 days now the boy is missing?”

      “Nonsense” replied June curtly. “Don’t you start ruining our poker night.” She slurped delicately her overflowing mojito glass. “Besides, I told you Jacqui and her friends are on the case. I sent her the coordinate. Baby is obviously fine.”

      “I still preferred my pith helmet idea and leaving it to professionals though” April pouted her lips in a sulky way. “Now, what are we going to say when Mellie Noma is coming back? That we lost her baby but worry not, the local nutcase friend is on the job.” she finished her sentence almost out of breath “and I heard from August she was coming back at the end of the week.”

      “So, are you playing or what? Fold or call?” June was growing impatient about the topic. The French maid and her baby, like the strange Finnley, were making themselves dangerously at home now, like three little annoying cuckoos in her own nest, and June felt stifled as though the FBI were closing in, breathing down on her neck.

      That Finnley looked surely suspicious enough, there was no telling she wasn’t a Russian spy in disguise, or worse, some undercover cop…

      “You’re right!” she slammed the cards violently on the table, making April almost faint. “We have to take matters in our own hands. I’ll get Mellie Noma to fire her. Blame the Finnley and her French friends for Barron’s disappearance. Mellie No’ owes me that much, especially after I saved her neck from her husband after that horrible giraffe incident.”

      April’s face turned to shock at the mention.

      #5659
      EricEric
      Keymaster

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

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

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

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

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

        “Wait, what?”

        “Why are you never paying attention?”

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

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

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

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

        “Maybe you’re a natural” Godfrey ventured.

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

        #5654
        EricEric
        Keymaster

          “What do you think about that last one?” Miss Bossy handed the scribblings to Ricardo.

          “Mmm, it might be a hit. Sophie’s remote viewing has been right on spot even if odder and odder. I guess it fits with the intent of our… I mean your newspaper, doesn’t it?”

          Miss Bossy glanced at Ricardo sideways, and adjusted her corsage with an élan of coquetterie she found very French, even for her repressed tastes. “You should get on it then, Ric’.”

          Ricardo looked surprised. Was it the recognition he was waiting for all these past months working hard behind the scenes. Not a promotion yet but… Or maybe, just because the usual writers Connie & Hilda weren’t around, off to somewhere only they had the secret.

          “Still, you must admit, investigating an alcohol made of rillettes does sound rather ludicrous, even for this newspaper, or even for Sweet Sophie.”

          “There might be more to cover, a tree hiding a forest. Besides, she was right about the reptiles falling in Miami during the cold snap! We missed that story… If only we’d jumped on it right away!”

          “What else you need? I told you to get on with it, chop chop!”

          “Maybe a promotion?…” he added tentatively.

          “You’re already staff writer by default dear…”

          “A raise then?”

          “Don’t push you luck. And you’ll book those tickets to Chickasaw, Alabama in charter. We’re not rolling in the dough, like the Yanks say.”

          #5644

          In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

          FloveFlove
          Participant

            “You are so bloody childish, Tara” said Star. She slammed her cup of coffee on the desk so that it slopped over the sides.  “Damn,” she said, wiping it up with her sleeve.

            “It was my idea and you’ve just taken over. The way you always do.”

            “Your idea? What are you? Three years old?”

            With dignity, Tara rose. She closed her laptop, straightened it on the desk so it ran parallel to the sides, and, using a cloth made for that very purpose, dusted it. “I’m going out for some fresh air. ”

            “Well you won’t find it round here. It’s worse than China they said on the news today. Oh, OKAY, Tara. DON’T GO. The business was your idea and I promise I won’t treat you like a secretary. Happy?”

            Tara smiled sweetly. “That’s all I need to hear.” She rubbed her hands together. “Right, time to find Uncle Basil. Last night I had a dream…”

            “Ooooh, do tell, Was Mr Sexy voice in it?”

            “No, but Uncle Basil was. And he said, cold snap and falling reptiles.”

            Star furrowed her brow. “Okay, well … we shouldn’t discount anything at this stage.”

            “It’s bound to be a clue. Speaking of secretaries … I have a niece, Rosamund. She a bit rough around the edges but I’m sure she could answer phones and make our coffee.”

            “Great idea, Tara! As usual. Get her to come in and do a trial.”

            #5604
            EricEric
            Keymaster

              “That trip of yours was surprisingly, or must I say, suspiciously long…” Lucinda gave them both a long glance full of innuendos, and added in case those were missed “where you on a honeymoon or something?”

              Shawn-Paul blushed to a shade of violent violet cramoisi, while Maeve just snatched her dog’s leash that Lucinda was handing her back rather nonchalantly.

              “Oh, you, will you just wipe the snark from your face, it’s making you look ten years older Luce. It wasn’t really a holiday if you must know everything.” She elbowed Shawn-Paul, who was looking vacantly at the tip of his shoes. “Why don’t you tell her?”

              “Why don’t you tell her?” he replied automatically.

              “It’s just been 6 months! Why do you make such a fuss about it?”

              “I’m not making a fuss, look who’s cranky! I can see you are venting your spleen on me after a sleepless night in the plane…”

              “Haha, yes”, Maeve admitted with a nervous chuckle. “The only thing that matters is we managed to collect the dolls and the keys, just don’t ask me how.”

              “You know I’ll ask.”

              “Yes, I know. Just… don’t.”

              “Fair enough. But it might be tough for me not to ask. I may forget… Besides, I must ask, do you have a secret benefactor that’s funding you all this time? Fabio’s kibble didn’t come free you know, you left me with barely enough for a week!”

              “Oh really? Dog’s kibble now? Let me make you a check right now.”

              “I think you need a good night of sleep.” Lucinda winked at Shawn-Paul, “him too. And we’ll talk later. I have tons of things to update you about my theater writing group. You might help me with the continuity bits… Waaa, calm down, no pressure!”

              #4785
              EricEric
              Keymaster

                Not knowing what to do with the powder, Jerk pondered for a moment, then recalled a tradition from India that he’d seen on a documentary or in a magazine; taking the blue sand, he started to pour it on the ground to draw a rangoli in the shape of a feather. He clearly wasn’t very experienced at sandpainting, and the drawing looked more like a stick in an old worn sock, but he was glad that it could illuminate somehow the bland and cold fake marble at the entrance of the mall.

                :fleuron2:

                Granola was starting to get anxious in her red crystal. It wasn’t very comfortable. She thought she could just adjust her mental size to make it more spacious, but it was automatically adjusting. She was starting to feel desperate when she noticed a blue thing with the shape of a deflated condom glowing on one of the sides of the crystal.
                The imprint of a magical act of grace she could hear vibrating. The vibration was slow and steady. She could guess she needed two, or maybe three, more of these symbols to resonate properly and break the crystal open.

                #4783
                TracyTracy
                Participant

                  Gloria stared at Sharon accusingly. “You aint, ‘ave yer? Well that’s gorn and blown it. You’re too fat for us to carry. If you fall asleep we’ll ‘afta leave you ‘ere.”

                  “We can’t leave ‘er ‘ere, you daft cow,” said Mavis. “Lucky for ‘er, I got a bit of summat wot’ll ‘elp.”

                  “I’ll ‘ave you know I lost a pound last week,” retorted Sharon, taking umbrage at the reference to her weight.

                  Gloria cast a critical eye at Sharon’s thighs spilling out of the sides of the rocking chair and replied, “Yes, but you found it again in the meantime. But never mind that, whatcha got there, our Mavis?”

                  Ooh, is that something from the doctor?” asked Sharon, eyeing the little packet of blue powder that Mavis was carefully pouring into a little heap on the glass topped coffee table. Gloria tittered and glanced at Mavis, who merely rolled her eyes.

                  “It aint all for ‘er, though is it?” Gloria faked a loud yawn. “I need waking up a bit myself.”

                  “Don’t be daft,” Mavis reminded her. “But Sha’ can have double to counteract the effects of that sleeping stuff in the water supply.”

                  #4754
                  EricEric
                  Keymaster

                    “Look” Fox said to Glynis, not a little proud of his accomplishment.

                    The frame now hanged above the missing toilet seat was already giving the privy a little more cosy look. Of course, the smell of the room with the open hole was still making his nose wrinkle inwards, but the framed dried roses were a nice touch.
                    He was particularly happy about the clever no-nail solution he’d found. Crushing together two spiky caterpillars and sticking them at both sides of the back of the frame — it kept the frame stuck nicely, and it could be re-positioned and readjusted to be perfectly level.

                    Lost in admiration of his work, he was dragged out of his thoughts by a thunderous sneeze.

                    “Good flovious! That flu looks nasty Glynis, you should get some rest, dear.”

                    Glynis almost rip-snotted her kerchief in half while blowing her nose.

                    “But who will do all the cleaning?” she asked plaintively.

                    #4732
                    EricEric
                    Keymaster

                      The day was young, and Mandrake was enjoying playing the cat in the Inn.
                      Besides the benefit of unrepentant naps, what best way to be undercover in a dimension where talking cats where unheard of. His boots had been a subject for a casual chat during the breakfast, but he managed to get away with them, thanks to Arona’s quick wits who had explained he had sensitive paws.
                      Some of the other guests at the Inn were a bit curious though, too curious.
                      He’d almost jumped to rip his face off, when the Canadian guy asked whether it wouldn’t be best to have him neutered. Luckily, years of dealing with humans and dragons had left him with a patience for these types of shenanigans, even tolerating a pat or two on the head.

                      The maid-who-wasn’t-a-maid was another story, she seemed to fear him, and chased him with a broom when he was wandering in the morning, looking for clues as to the key.
                      While he was napping in a corner of the main hall on a dusted shelf near a silly looking fish, he had spotted a suspicious old man who had sneaked in and had done some business in a locked hangar before leaving. Maybe the man knew about the three words engraved on Arona’s key.

                      doctor.experiences.funk

                      #4722
                      prUneprUne
                      Participant

                        It all started to feel insanely crowded and agitated in the Inn, it took me a while to check whether I was tripping on some illegal substance.

                        Truth was, the funny chicken was doing alright until Finly and Idle came back in a hurry, tried to make me puke and feed me charcoals, as if I’d been poisoned or something.
                        I overheard Aunt Dodo when she shouted at poor Finly “why would you put my stash with the lizard leftovers! It’s me-di-cine you old cow, not some bloody herb seasoning!”
                        Finly looked indignant, but she knew better than to argue. Besides, I’m sure her face was speaking volumes, something in the tune of “with the bloody mess of your stuff all over the place, why do you think?” Sure, there was some other profanities hidden in the wrinkles of her sweet face, but she would leave that to Mater to spell them out.

                        Anyways, I just maybe feeling juuust a little funny, but with years of bush food regimen behind me, my liver is surely strong as an ox and pumping all the stuff out of my system like a workhorse.

                        So, yeah, I was maybe tripping a little. So many new people came in at the same time, it felt like a flashmob. They were probably real and not just hallucinations, since Dido dashed out to greet some of them.

                        I went upstairs and spied on them from there. I’m making also a list, mostly for Aunt Dodo, because if her heart is in the right place, her brain probably isn’t (or it’s a tight one).

                        So there, I wrote on a yellow sticky note:

                        Dido, if you're paying attention, here are the guests at this moment:
                        - Not counting PRUNE, and DEVAN who just texted me he's coming!!
                        - A jeep-full of loonies: A GIRL with red and white track pants and a
                        hijjab, a black CAT and a GECKO (wait, you can forget about the gecko),
                        a weirdo GUY in a fancy ruffle shirt and a little redhair BOY.
                        TIKU is here too, helping FINLY in the kitchen.
                        - Your old friend HILDA, and her colleague CONNIE
                        - Two townfolks Canadian tourists who argue like an old couple, but I don't
                        think they are, MAYV(?) and SANPELL(?) (sorry, couldn't catch their names
                        with their funny accent)

                        I guess breakfast is going to be lively tomorrow…

                        #4714
                        EricEric
                        Keymaster

                          Fourty four hours and 3 stopovers later, Maeve was glad to have arrived at Alice Springs airport. It was fun to see that the further she went, the smallest the aircraft became. Until it wasn’t too funny, and got almost downright scary with the last small propeller plane, that shook so much it seemed out of an old Indiana Jones movie, sans flying chicken.
                          The airport was quaint and small, the way she liked, with a passageway shaded by large swathes of fabric reminiscent of Seville’s streets. The air was surprisingly fresh, and she wondered if she’d been too optimistic about the weather and her choice of clothes, considering it was still winter down here.
                          While she was waiting at the luggage belt, she discreetly observed the other waiting people.
                          Uncle Fergus always said she had to be observant. Besides, she had a natural eye for details.

                          Apart from the few Crocodile Dundees that screamed tourists who were waiting for their oversized luggage, she could spot a few out-of-place people. One in particular, that seemed to have followed the very same route since the first layover in Vancouver. Too strange a coincidence, and the fellow was too unassuming too.

                          Maeve! MAH-EH-VEH” She jumped at the sounds. Almost didn’t recognized her own name, if she hadn’t recognized her neighbour’s voice first, and his peculiar way to pronounce it like she was a precious wahine.

                          Shawn-Paul?! What on earth are you doing here?” She frowned at him “Have you been stalking me?”
                          “No, no! It’s not like that! I’ve received those funny-looking coupons, you see…”
                          “What? You too?”

                          Now, a second person following on her tracks even through a different combination of flights was more than a coincidence. It meant danger was afoot.

                          “Shouldn’t we carpool? I looked up the trail to the inn, it’s a long drive and by the looks of it, not at all too safe for a lone woman travelling.”

                          Maeve shrugged. That may keep the other creep off her trail. “I don’t mind, but if you insist on being so chivalrous, you’re paying for the taxi.”
                          Before he could say anything, she handed him her piece of luggage to carry.

                          #4705
                          EricEric
                          Keymaster

                            Ric knees were shaking. He fumbled with the door knob, his voice barely audible as he faced Miss Boddy —he meant Bossy.

                            “We, we, we… We’re not seriously torturing poor old sweet Sophie, are you?”

                            Miss Bossy looked at Ric quizzically. “That’s what you thought we were doing? Do you think me demented?”

                            “Surely not, no! You’re very determined, distinguished… But demanding,…”
                            “Demented, Ric, please keep track, will you.”

                            She sighed, and dropped the wires. “Of course! This is a line that can’t be uncrossed.”

                            “And surely Sweet Sophie doesn’t need torture to spill the beans.”

                            “Why do you keep talking about torture? I was just rewiring the dual light switch. The electrician did such a poor job, the wires were all crossed, and it was driving me mad, you know. Having one switch up, and the other down… One up, the other down… Aargh!”

                            Ric’s face was mixed with relief and complete puzzlement.

                            “Enough talking about my OCDs, why Sweet Sophie isn’t here yet? Of course, we don’t need torture to get her to talk. That’s all she does besides sleeping. The tricky part will be to get her to focus of course. Can’t have her babble about WWII now, can we. That and her endless talking about time travel… Speaking of time, there’s hardly any to waste, there’s a mad Doctor on the loose doing awful human experiments on unsuspecting frail women to flush out, need I remind you.”

                            #4693

                            In reply to: The Stories So Near

                            EricEric
                            Keymaster

                              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.

                              #4685
                              FloveFlove
                              Participant

                                “I used to win prizes you know,” Miss Bossy Pants sighed and rubbed her hand through her hair, leaving it in further disarray.

                                “I’m sure you did,” said Ric with a small smile which could have been interpreted as a smirk. Miss Bossy Pants decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

                                “For journalism. One year, I received the top journalism prize for my investigative piece about the sausage industry. Cutting edge they called it. And now,” she frowned and looked out the window. “We must get someone to clean those. And now, I am a mere figurehead.”

                                Ric opened his mouth but Miss Bossy Pants held her hand up.

                                “A mere figurehead. Mocked and deriled. My staff, who I pay, follow whatever goddam leads they want and pay no attention to my explicit orders. You think I don’t know that?”

                                She glared at Ric.

                                “Quiet!” she said, slapping her hand on the desk and standing up so violently that her cup of tea trembled and sloshed over the sides. She glowered down at Ric, also trembling.

                                “This ends now! Get me everything we have on the Doctor. I want names of victims and any poor sod who is still alive you are going to interview! I am going to crack this goddam doll case wide open. He’s the one who is going to be goddam very very sorry.”

                                #4666
                                EricEric
                                Keymaster

                                  Granola, with all the expounding of new information felt a bit dizzy and in need of a quiet recap.
                                  The squishy giraffe was a place as good as any for a bit of rest, but to be perfectly honest, the pets around the place didn’t make the greatest conversationists. And she didn’t want to look like she didn’t do her homework and get admonished by her bleu friend.

                                  “Think,” she said “by now, you can go about any place in their expansively creative stories.” —which was actually, like travelling inside her friends’ memories, considering the time they all spent in these universes, they were almost real, quite tangible.
                                  “Think about one of their character, one who always seems to hold answers…”

                                  Bam swoosh

                                  “It didn’t take long.”

                                  She could squint in the dark and see a faint glow. “Wait… Don’t tell me I’m in one of these… kluknish… what’s these bat things with the impossible name…”

                                  It’s glükenitch actually the voice was coming from below, but speaking directly in her head. And you don’t have to hide in one, really. Don’t you have some better character to be?

                                  She recognized the dragon. “Shit,” she muttered, “that’s not the one I was thinking about; always answering in riddles, that much I remember; don’t need to add more confusion! As if speaking through the whale last time wasn’t messy enough.”

                                  True, but you got a glimpse of one of the keys, haven’t you?

                                  She froze in her tracks. “What do you know about these keys?”

                                  Not much, I’m loath to say. Besides, what should I know about it, I’m not from this world, am I now?

                                  “Damn riddles,” she said. But the dragon had a point. She wasn’t in the right world to check on her friends.

                                  “Can you tell me something useful at least?” she asked the dragon before deciding to pop-out.

                                  Maybe, yes… See, you pop-in naturally where the action is. It’s only natural that the bigger the action, the stronger the pull…

                                  Granola hadn’t thought of that. She had been a bit too focused in getting more physical and interacting outside. But the last week (in her friends’ time continuity), there has been more targeted jumps, less chaotic, and more frequent. It’s like she could tune in.
                                  And for now, the pull was in Australia.
                                  Come to think of it, she may have had a concurrent focus there. She only had to believe she could be there, right place, right time, right person… An Aboriginal woman, what was her name?

                                  Tiku

                                  #4441
                                  AvatarJib
                                  Participant

                                    Finnley presented the plate of freshly baked round cookies to Liz who took one and watched it warily, not sure how to feel about them. Certainly the herbal chocolate made her mouth watery like the Niagara falls, but…
                                    “Why on earth did you give them those baby faces?” she asked.
                                    Finnley shrugged.
                                    “I’ve been taking pottery class recently and thought I could do extra practice at home. I have a project you know.”
                                    “Have you heard of nailed it?” Liz asked, biting in into the cheek of one chubby little cookie with melting sugary blue eyes. It distorted its laughing mouth in such a way that it looked like it was crying now. She felt a bit guilty about it, but the chocolate taste exploding in her own mouth made her forget all about it and she swallowed the other cheek.

                                    “Look! they can move!” said Roberto. He was pressing on the sides of one particularly creepy little face, making its mouth talk. “Give me milk!”

                                    “Stop playing with food, Roberto,” said Finnley. The hispanic gardener looked at her with puppy eyes and swallowed whole the baby cookie. “Showy,” he said his mouth full.
                                    “Where is Godfrey, now,” she muttered, “Everyone needs to taste one.

                                    #4275
                                    EricEric
                                    Keymaster

                                      There was no way around it. As hard as he would have tried, he couldn’t reach the peaks of the mountain without crossing the part of the Enchanted Forest which the Fae called their own. There was no way for him to avoid paying the price, or to avoid facing the Court.
                                      Rukshan wished there was an easier way, but trying to avoid it would only delay the inevitable. Besides, he would need provisions to continue his journey —that is, if they’d let him.

                                      The first signs of the enchanted signposts had appeared two days ago. He’d been walking through the silent and cold forest for close to ten days already. His progress was slow, as the days were short, and the nights were better spent recuperating.
                                      The early signs that he was approaching the Fae land wouldn’t have been noticeable by any other than those with some Fae blood in their veins. Some were as subtle as enchanted dewdrops on spiderwebs, other few were watcher crows, but most of the others were simply sapling trees, shaking at the slightest change of wind. All of them silent watchers of the Forest, spies for the Queen and her Court.

                                      From the first sign, he had three days. Three days to declare himself, or face the consequences. He would wait for the last one. There was something magical about the number three, and anything more hasty would only mean he was guilty of something.

                                      Like improper use of magic he thought, smiling at the memory of the oiliphant. The Queen was clutching at a dwindling empire, and magic sources gone scarce meant it had to be “properly” used.

                                      He never believed such nonsense, which is why he’d decided to live outside of their traditions. But for all his disagreement, he remained one of them, bound by the same natural laws, and the same particularities. Meant to reach extremely old ages while keeping an external appearance as youthful as will is strong in their mind, able to wield strong magic according to one’s dispositions, ever bound to tell the truth (and becoming thus exceptionally crafty at deception), and a visceral distaste for the Bane, iron in all its forms.
                                      Thus was his heritage, the one he shared with the family that was now waiting for his sign to be granted an audience in the Court.

                                      One more day, he thought…

                                      #4249
                                      EricEric
                                      Keymaster

                                        Margoritt Loursenoir wrapped a thick blanket around her shoulders. The window of her lodge was open to the chill outside, but she would keep the windows open as much as she could bear, for she’d missed the fresh air for a long time inside the city.
                                        The view of the forest was also a renewed pleasure, she could stay in meditation in front of the window for hours, as if looking at a moving picture, a better work than any painter from the city would ever accomplish.
                                        Besides, she liked being wrapped in a shawl like these women from the far away east she admired so much for their strength and independence.

                                        She’d come there to rekindle her inspiration. In the City of the Seven Hills, she had risen to quite a fame with her literary works, even though her works were deemed fictional, and that she was a woman.
                                        To her, they weren’t fictions. They were just the order of things revealed, the natural evolution of things, a glimpse of what was to come if the civilisation were to keep its greedy pace.

                                        That rheumatism is killing me she looked at her hands, swollen after yesterday’s rain. An old lady like me, and that lifestyle… for how long… She would need to return for a needle session in the City. Already the supplies she’d brought were becoming scarce. She would go find some mushrooms and roots later, but for now she didn’t want to worry about that.
                                        There was something irremediably irreconcilable about life here and life there. She was aware of the artificial nature of her escapades, but every time she moved out of the bustling city, into the enchanted woods, she would see it. Magic was still alive here, not as strong as before, but still very much alive.

                                        Rising from her chair, she put the last of her bread’s crumbs on the windowsill. The crumbs she’d put yesterday were still there, untouched. There were hardly any birds left during winter, merely a few suspicious crows who never came too close.

                                        It was time for her morning writing session.

                                        #4246
                                        EricEric
                                        Keymaster

                                          Rukshan woke up early. A fine drizzle was almost in suspension in the air, and already the sounds of nature were heard all around the inn.
                                          They shared breakfast with Lahmom who was packing to join a group for a trek high in the mountains. He wasn’t going in the same direction —the rain shadow and high plateaus of the mountainous ranges were not as attractive as the green slopes, and in winter, the treks were perilous.

                                          The inn-keeper fed them an honest and nourishing breakfast, and after eating it in silent contentment, they went on their separate way, happy for the moment of companionship.

                                          The entrance to the bamboo forest was easy to find, there were many stone sculptures almost all made from the same molds on either sides, many were propitiation offerings, that were clothed in red more often than not.
                                          Once inside the bamboos, it was as though all sounds from outside had disappeared. It was only the omnipresent forest breathing slowly.

                                          The path was narrow, and required some concentration to not miss the fading marks along the way. It had not been trodden for a while, it was obvious from the thick layers of brown leaves covering the ground.

                                          After an hour or so of walking, he was already deep inside the forest, slowly on his way up to the slopes of the mountain forest where the Hermit and some relatives lived.

                                          There was a soft cry that caught his attention. It wasn’t unusual to find all sorts of creatures in the woods, normally they would leave you alone if you did the same. But the sounds were like a calling for help, full of sadness.
                                          It would surely mean a detour, but again, after that fence business, he may as well have been guided here for some unfathomable purpose. He walked resolutely toward the sound, and after a short walk in the sodden earth, he found the origin of the sound.

                                          There was a small hole made of bamboo leaves, and in it he could see that there was a dying mother gibbon. Rukshan knew some stories about them, and his people had great respect for the peaceful apes. He move calmly to the side of the ape so as not to frighten her. She had an infant cradled in her arms, and she didn’t seem surprised to see him.
                                          There were no words between them, but with her touch she told him all he needed to know. She was dying, and he could do nothing about it. She wanted for her boy to be taken care of. He already knew how to change his appearance to that of a young boy, but would need to be taught in the ways of humans. That was what many gibbons were doing, trying to live among humans. There was no turning back to the old ways, it was the way for her kind to survive, and she was too old for it.

                                          Rukshan waited at her side, until she was ready to peacefully go. He closed her eyes gently, and when he was done, turned around to notice the baby ape had turned into a little silent boy with deep sad eyes and a thick mop of silvery hair. As he was standing naked in the misty forest, Rukshan’s first thought was to tear a piece of cloth from his cape to make a sort of tunic for the boy. Braiding some dry leaves of bamboos made a small rope he could use as a belt.

                                          With that done, and last silent respects paid to the mother, he took the boy’s hand into his own, and went back to find the path he’d left.

                                          #4243
                                          EricEric
                                          Keymaster

                                            There was one inn he knew about, the last one before the haunted bamboo forest. It served a solid but plain mountain meal, enough to be worth your coins, and carry you through the rigours of the cold ahead.

                                            He doubted the oiliphant would carry him further through the thickly planted bamboos, so he would have to let her go for now, let her return to one of the secret entrances to the Forest, and be one again with the wild and her own.
                                            Already the little crowd following them was getting thinner and thinner. After a while, the spell of novelty wore off, and they would realise where the enormous beast was walking toward. Very few wanted to have anything to do with the place. Rukshan wasn’t sure how such legend had spread about the bamboo forest behind haunted, as he would as a youngling find the crackling and wooshing sounds in the large plants rather soothing. Of course, as of all places, it was dangerous to venture there mindlessly, but he’d found the spirits dwelling there usually rarely ill disposed towards visitors, unlike deeper and higher in the mountains were some evils would ride the wind to great distances.

                                            Not without feeling a small pinch in his chest, he said a last goodbye to his oiliphant friend, and went in the direction of the inn as the sun was already low on the horizon. The distinct sound of the bamboos could be heard from miles away, and there was only a few people left looking at the beast. His goodbye seemed to have lifted the last of the trance, and they suddenly woke up to where they were, some with an instant recoil on their faces. After a few minutes, he was alone once more.

                                            Strangely, the fence had continued for longer than he’d thought. It wasn’t very high, more like a little nuisance really, but the complete oddity of its presence was enough to grate his nerves. He was reminded of something his master had told him For every inside, there is an outside, and every outside, there is an inside. And though they are different, they go together. The secret of all insides and outsides is this – they look a different as possible, but underneath are the same, for you cannot find one without the other. It made him realise that he couldn’t tell where the people who’d built the fence were from – the city or the forest. He’d immediately assumed something, while it could have been easily the reverse.
                                            Now he looked at the fence itself, it was quite an ingenious piece of work, trying as much as possible to reuse local and discarded materials. Maybe it was more a tentative of a connective tissue rather than a fence…

                                            It was in this more peaceful mood that he reached the inn, just an hour before nightfall, as he could tell from the sun. Lanterns were already lit outside of the inn, and although he’d expected it to be empty of customers as often was the case, it seemed to have another guest. He wouldn’t mind a little company, maybe they could enlighten him about the nature of this new boundary.

                                            “My name is Lhamom” the traveler said to him with an inviting grin and slim beaming face. She wore a deerskin hat, and a patchwork of tribal clothes from villages around the mountains in the manner of an explorer of old times. She was already drinking the local woolly goat butter milk tea, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy every mouthful.
                                            Rukshan would only bear it with enough spices to soften the strong taste. Nonetheless, he took polite sips of the offered beverage, and listened to the pleasant stories of the nearby and faraway countries she would eagerly tell about.
                                            Now, curled up near the burning woodstove, enjoying a simple meal and simple everyday stories, after a lovely day riding above troubles, he would already feel complete, and closer to the magic he sought.

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