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      Everything started to happen at once. As Sanso sat up, craning his neck looking at the door in the ceiling, a terrific flapping and squalking noise approached from behind him, starting as a distant vibration and rising in an unbearable crescendo as it rounded the last bend in the tunnel. Suddenly the noise stopped as Sanso felt a weight on his shoulder, and then a thud on the sandy floor. Bugger this, the parrot screeched in his ear. Bugger this bugger this bugger bugger bugger…

      Sanso was momentarily speechless, as his eye fell on the key. He picked it up and turned it over in his hand, feeling the rusty weight of it. He turned to look at the parrot on his shoulder, who thankfully had stopped his shrill squalking.

      This must be the key to that door, he whispered to the parrot. Let’s try it and see.

      Wait for Dory dear Wait for Dory!

      Bugger this, sighed the parrot, Here I am bringing the key, remembering everything everyone else forgets, running the show here and I don’t even have a name in this silly story.


        Fiona awoke from a terreggfying dream. In her dream her friend Quintin had published extracts from her diary, sensitive extracts where she spoke of her desire for an endearing baby dragon, and published them on his website.

        Thank God it is just a dream, thought Fiona.


          This morning, Fiona and Quintin had a small impromptu chat —or rather, prompted by the story they were all weaving, that Archie, the puppet black panther, had been telling them last week-end that it was a magic connection between all of them…

          Quintin: Your story was great!

          Fiona: Thank you :) So was yours.

          Have you written any more since I last looked at the story?

          Quintin: no, I’m not that much inspired… I even considered to wrap in up in a way, but seeing you were all drawing so much from it, I think I will leave it open ever after…

          Fiona: no, wrap it up if you feel.

          I have drawn what I wanted. I will go and blow up the cave if we don’t finish it :)

          Quintin: Ahahaha! Don’t restrict yourself ;)

          Fiona: When you started the Malvina story, did you have an idea where it would go, or did you pick that one because you had no idea?

          Quintin: This one nagged me because there were many people I felt behind it and I did not know how to get them to show up and make their presences known. And I felt that it was loose enough too, to allow people to jump into it; and there was your initial interest in the picture ;)

          Fiona: The endearing dragons…

          Quintin: Yeah…

          But I had strictly no idea about the rest. It was just a bet, on luck…

          That’s funny, because I had a strange impression of a little girl yesterday, in a futuristic city, named something like Janice , and it was like she knew now what she wanted to do, and it was something similar to that, something like creating worlds for other people, in which they could have fun, or heal, or explore things…

          Fiona: And did she have any impression of what form that could take? Like books, or games or what…

          Quintin: No, it was much more “real” in fact…

          Fiona: you know like the card-captor game which I suppose is interactive, so real

          Quintin: Yeah, perhaps a bit like that, yes; or like creating a ball of energy in which people can be drawn and experience as they will. It’s only a translation, but that’s the idea… in a way, that’s very similar to a game or a book, but only that it just feels totally “real”

          Fiona: So a little bit like I have done with the story, to resolve something

          Quintin: yeah, exactly, or with your paintings

          Fiona: It can be really useful to take on other personas to do that, even like in drama type situations, being someone else…

          Quintin: Yeah, people can unleash their imagination.

          And I think there are still lots of things that we can expand in this universe in fact, not only related to the cave…

          Fiona: such as? eggsamples?

          Quintin: You said it! The eggs and relationships with dragons, all the magical artifacts or creatures. Didn’t you want a baby dragon?

          Fiona: Yeah, I told you I did, but you just said some riddle!

          Quintin: Did I? That’s not like me ;)

          Fiona: Ahahhaha! It is you to the core

          Quintin: LOL, damn me!

          Fiona: Well, that is a bit strong, but …

          Quintin: Ahahahahah. I said you would have to earn his trust? (or hers, for that matter)

          Fiona: I can’t remember the eggsact wording, I think I had to work for it though, like you weren’t just handing out dragons on a plate

          Quintin: It could bound with you very strongly and help you unravel your unknown magical powers. It’s not just a creature, it’s a complex personality, you cannot just take it like a puppy. There is a sharing between the two…

          Fiona: So are you going to allocate baby dragons to people or what? Or shall I just go and find an egg that no one knew was there :)

          Quintin: Ahahah, no, they will not be allocated, they will choose their own partners

          Fiona: Ahahaha, one minute you say it is my story! And now you are back in control

          Quintin: Ahahaha, the story has a willing of its own too…

          Try to do what you want, it’s not a matter of control ; it’s just you’ll know what clicks and what does not…

          Quintin: And actually, I don’t think everyone will be interested in dragons…

          Fiona: How does a dragon help one learn magic powers?

          Quintin: It’s just because there is an openness between the two; let me find something for you, that Elias (you know, Michaela’s partner), has told to me and Yann, when we had them on the phone last month.

          Elias : I would express to you that, as you focus your energies with each other, and you allow yourselves to merge and feel into each others’ energies, you may in actuality each discover some obstacles that the other may not necessarily be aware of yet, and you can share that with each other, and therefore facilitate your interactions even further.

          Fiona: And how having a baby dragon could help unleash our magic powers then?

          Quintin: It helps because it reinforces your trust in your own abilities to connect. It’s not directing, it’s a sharing and exploration for both of them; that’s why they are picky. As you would be picky too, knowing you would share together all the darkest corners…

          Fiona: I am not sure if i have dark corners ;)

          Quintin: it was a metaphor :D

          Fiona: ahahahhahahahahahah

          Fiona: I know, so was mine :D

          Quintin: ahahahahah

          Fiona: I was thinking I feel really accepting of myself

          Quintin: Yeah, that’s the point in the little adventure before you meet it.

          You have shown your trust in yourself and in your abilities, and your self-centeredness, which is essential, for the dragon doesn’t want a frail personality. Because he drops his defenses too when he shares and bonds.

          Fiona: Well I think it sounds scarey now, what if no dragon picked me…

          Quintin: There will be instant recognition. And you don’t “need” a dragon actually, that’s what is important: it’s a catalyst, nothing more, nothing less…

          Fiona: True.

          Quintin: Like Arona managed to sneak into the cave without giving the answer to the riddle (egg-sitingly) because it mattered not to her, whatever the outcome, she was directing of herself.

          Fiona: I felt like I have pictures now to assist me. I link strongly to pictures as a quick reference when I start to feel something like a negative emotion, for instance I may start to worry about how I am going to have enough money, or whatever, and I could quickly link to the spider picture

          Quintin: you mean, you create an imagery, right? That is something which I like in your stories and emails; even though it is not necessary to create imagery, it’s always so entertaining, like having these funny creatures pop in the cave!

          Fiona: Ahahahaha yes

          Quintin: And also, in creating imagery, it helps you seeing it in a more neutral way

          Fiona: I suppose it is just a quick trigger for the desired belief. I can link in quickly with the child, when I start to feel left out, for example.

          Quintin: yeah, beliefs as an alphabet or a palette, neutral, but that can create words and sentences or images. And the imagery of the child was very similar for me, to that of the playfulness picture

          Fiona: Yeah, I know… That’s what I said to you with the playfulness picture

          Quintin: Of course, you know :)

          Fiona: That I related most to the figure of blue hat… and big feet

          Quintin: Ahahaha, stomping on the poor key-fish

          Fiona: Nearly…

          Quintin: Have to go now, thank you for this enjoyable conversation

          Fiona: See you! :)


            Arona eventually woke from her sleep, still tangled in the images from her dreams. Unable to remember these images she was left feeling as though she were adrift in a boat on the ocean, not caring where the wind and waves may take her.

            She had no feeling that morning. It was as though a door had closed in her mind, shutting out the part that could feel. She did not know, nor care, whether she was shutting out joy or sorrow, only that some part of her wanted to be alone.

            She remembered the words of the older woman who had sat with her and soothed her to sleep. Or was she already asleep? Was the woman a dream?

            Use your magic, she had said.

            When she was young, in the Village, magic had come easily to Arona. When did it end?. She screwed up her eyes trying to concentrate. It hadn’t ended all at once. Did it start to end with the cloak her parents had given her?

            Arona shook her head briskly and thoughts, like leaves in the wind, lifted and fell back to earth again in new formations.

            :fleuron: :fleuron: :fleuron:

            The candle still burned brightly and her attention was drawn to the heavy wooden door, knowing she could not put it off any longer. In her bag of treasures was a key. It had been given to her at the beginning of her 21 st year, as was custom in the Village. It was no surprise to her that it fitted the lock perfectly.

            Thank you for having me room, she said as she left.

            No, thank YOU, replied the sleepy glukenitch.

            :fleuron: :fleuron: :fleuron:

            The door led directly into another space, larger, brighter. She could sense someone there, but not in solid form. It was a beautiful woman who Arona felt an immediate affinity with, and then a strange sadness came unbidden.

            Why sad?

            I have no clue answered Arona briskly, quickly shutting the door back on these pesky emotions.

            You always know, just feel it

            So Arona closed her eyes tightly and allowed herself to feel the answer.

            Because you know who you are, and it made me realise I have no idea who I am.

            Mmmmmmm, said the woman, maybe you would care to look at my new paintings. Actually they are some of yours.

            Intrigued, Arona felt this would be a suitable distraction and she looked with much interest.

            The first painting was of a child, in a beautiful meadow of flowers. The child appeared to be completely absorbed, concentrating on a small blue butterfly which had lighted on her finger.
            The picture itself moved and changed shape as though it were a portal to another living, breathing world. In the corner of the picture were some other children who seemed to be playing happily together.

            Arona, who had felt immediately connected with the young child frowned.

            Doesn’t the little girl feel left out?

            Go in, said the woman, Go inside the picture and feel the answer.

            Oh, and you might want to leave your cloak behind.

            So Arona did, and she became the child, but also stayed herself, observing the scene. She felt the child’s happy fascination in her connection with the butterfly. Not just the butterfly. She could feel her connected with the earth, and the gentle breezes and the beautiful flowers … The child was deeply contented, absorbed in the moment, moving happily with the flow of her interest.
            I remember feeling like that, thought Arona, before the magic went.
            She gently drew the child’s attention to the other children and felt the flow of energy between them. The child was so sure of who she was and where she wanted to be, and Arona could feel the loving acceptance of her playmates.
            As the child’s attention went to the others, one of the children looked up and came running over. They sat together and laughed at some funny rabbits which had appeared in the meadow.

            :fleuron: :fleuron: :fleuron:

            Arona returned to the cave.

            You look troubled

            Well, Arona felt a little perplexed. It’s all very well playing with butterflies and rabbits in a meadow, but it is not terribly practical.

            On the contrary, perhaps it is very practical. Would you like to see another of your paintings?

            Suspended gracefully between two posts was a beautiful, glistening spider web. Little drops of rain hung like jewels on a chain. An enormous spider waited patiently in the shadows. As Arona watched a small insect happened at that moment to be caught, and the spider began to creep along the delicate lines.

            Arona shuddered a little. I might not jump into that one .

            The woman laughed, Use your magic Arona. Weave your magic web and let it all come to you.

            Oh you are the second person to tell me to use my magic. An old lady came to me in my dreams, I think.

            Well I gave her the same advice, years ago.

            More damn riddles, Arona thought to herself, and the woman laughed.

            One final painting of yours I would like to show you. It is beautiful is it not?

            Arona stared mesmerised for a moment, and then leapt right in.

            She sat among an audience, captivated by the dancers on the stage ahead. Beautiful music played and it reminded Arona of the music she had heard earlier. The dancers leapt and twirled and Arona was enraptured.

            Dance Arona, she heard the woman’s voice

            I can’t dance like that, I’m not good enough.

            It doesn’t matter

            And Arona could not hold back any longer and entered the body of one of the dancers. She did not know the dance so she made up her own steps, and strangely this seemed to fit perfectly with the other dancers.

            :fleuron: :fleuron: :fleuron:

            Back in the cave the woman seemed to be listening to something Arona did not think she could hear.

            Things are shifting she said

            Oh lordy, are they said Arona, What should I do now?

            Feel the answer

            Arona felt. I am very hungry, eggceptionally so.


              A middle-aged man was looking upon her when Illi woke up.

              — Where am I? Who are you?, she asked a bit uncomfortable, her body swollen from the many bumps she had had in her recent adventures.
              — Don’t move too much, answered the man, I found you near the gulch, you were exhausted and delirious. Actually, you can thank my dogs for having found you, though you were so anxious that you still found the strength to run away from them…

              Illi smiled faintly.

              — And, I’m Huÿgens.
              — Thank you for your hospitality, finally said Illi, who was not accustomed to such kindness from the people of this land, especially towards her kind.
              — Don’t mention it, that’s all natural, said Huÿgens. You know, my dogs have found you near a hole where my son had fallen some time ago. He had been lucky enough not to break his bones, because we humans are less prone to acrobatics than your kind… but well, I would have appreciated that someone take care of him, if he had been in the same predicament.
              — I don’t have children, said Illi dreamily, that’s also why I left my tribe, I wanted to live a free life… What’s his name?
              Írtak, answered the stocky man with a hint of pride in his smile. It means “arrow head” in the Old Speech…
              — That’s lovely, smiled Illi, feeling now much more comfortable on the rough bed.
              — Now, take some rest. There is some pruidgee in the bowl here, if you want some, it’s made with milk of my langoats. That’ll make you stronger. If you need anything, just howl. I won’t be far.
              — Thank you, answered Illi with gratitude.


                Arona was lost. She had been lost for quite some time now and had got over the initial surprise this realisation had given her. It was not very often now that she questioned her decision to leave the others. She had tired of their endless journeying, always in circles, always moving and yet never seeming to move beyond the confines of the small village.

                One day she told them she was leaving. She wasn’t even sure if they heard her but still she set off, wearing her heavy black cape and carrying a small bag of her most treasured possessions.

                Arona had not been sure of the cape, it was so heavy, yet she feared the cold nights and loved the security of it’s warmth. It had been a gift from her parents, a long time ago, when she was just a child. Wear this cape and one day it will bring you happiness, her mother had said.

                Her mother said many odd things and had left on a journey of her own a many years ago, so Arona had never really been able to find out what she meant. Magically the cape had grown with her body, moulding itself to her.

                The worst of the winter cold was over now and Arona found the cape almost unbearably heavy at times, yet she could not quite bring herself to leave it behind. Sometimes she would take it off, relishing in the lightness and feeling the warmth of the sun on her body. She always put it back on though, just in case she needed it one day.

                Arona pulled out a well worn map from her bag. The map had been a gift from a travelling wizard who visited the village a few years ago. Arona had given him food and shelter and he repaid her kindness with the map. He seemed to think it was quite generous of him and Arona had thanked him politely. To be honest it was not really much use to her as she had no sense of direction, not even knowing which way north was, and not knowing where she was going anyway. She preferred just to follow whichever way seemed lightest at the time. But it was handy having the map because when she met others on the journey who asked her where she was going, she would wave her map at them. It made her look good, she thought, and saved her from too many questions.

                That day as she sat on a rock pretending to ponder her map she became aware of a faint sound of music in the distance. She had not heard music for such a long time. Once on her journey she had passed a wandering minstrel and begged him to play for her so that she could dance. In exchange she had lent him her cloak for a while to keep him warm.

                She felt the music beckoning her.


                Fiona loved Quintin’s drawings. They had a feel of magic and lightness and she was entranced by them. They were like the children’s films she had been watching lately, with many layers to them and touching something inside her mind, a distant memory which felt strangely close.

                Her own drawings felt heavy to her, and she had made a decision not to paint again unless she felt inspired. She did not really understand inspiration, only knew that she was tired of trying so hard.

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