However tedious, all in all, it had allowed him to stay away from other people’s trauma, and stay focused on his own issues. Now, the feeling of the energy at hand was starting to become lighter. Like a thin ray of light poking through a thick layer of rainy clouds, announcing that the silver lining was more than just a consolation. It was announcing the sun to come.
He took the book of stories that had been unburied (like his pleasure to write) from the bottom of the sofa’s cushions when they’d received hosts last week-end, and looked with amusement at the opening note about the “random quotes”.
A strong sense of an inkling started to dawn at him.
Thanks to the random quotes —or more appropriately said, to convenient synchronicities— “stuff” was never lost or buried in the insides of that ever-growing story, which was eating with gluttony at the edges of its expansion. Things were popping up here and there, reminding of old loose threads, or pertinent inclusions or links to be made.
But there was more. He, for a long time, had thought that imagination was expanding things to make physical reality look smaller in proportion than it was. Like when they’d looked at Dory’s pictures, and everything looked so big on them. Even the mere thought of nine dogs was huge. But when they’d met her, and Dan, and the dogs, it was all so much smaller. Even seeing Dory manage her dogs made having nine dogs seem manageable.
But the reverse was true: physical reality had its way of dwarfing imagination. Not so much making it smaller, but compacting it, making it fit in an unbelievably condensed and small space.
Take that book. Thousands of words, billions of probabilities, endless threads and hundreds of characters, all packaged in a small stack of inked paper. The trick was that when you look at it that way, when you got that small stack of paper in your hands, it all seems so manageable; one starts to get accustomed to it, then fails to see the newness in it each time it’s opened to tell a story.
Imagination is the true gauge of the vastness of the universe. It’s so easy to forget…
“Oh My God” exclaimed Bea. “I had a dream about the DOOR!”
“Oh, well done! The question is, did you remember it?” asked Leonora.
“As a matter of fact, Leo, I did!” replied Bea with a happy smile. “As a matter of fact, although I’m not too sure how factual matter really is, but anyway, I did remember the dream, and I wrote it all down.”
“Gosh, up early this morning, weren’t you?” asked Leo, who was sipping coffee at the kitchen table and watching the sun come up over the mountains through the open door.
“Oh I didn’t write it down this morning, silly! I wrote it all down last week.”
Leo placed her cup on the table and rubbed her eyes, frowning. “Wait a minute, let me get this straight…..”
“So what did you learn about the door, then?”
Bea frowned. “Well I’m not really sure. But it seemed so significant because it was that scary door, you know, the dreams I’ve been having for years about that door in that bedroom that’s too scary to get near, never mind go through….would you like to read it? Maybe you can interpret it for me.”
“If I must” sighed Leonora “You better pour me another cup of coffee then and pass me those cigarettes.”
I was sorting winter clothes out on an upstairs landing of a cottagey gabled house, and decided to use the upstairs bedroom instead of the downstairs one. The bedroom was a recurring dream one, gabled attic with dormer windows kind of room. Then I saw the door and remembered this was the door I was always too terrified in dreams to open; it was so scary that I always wanted to use this bedroom but never could because of that terrifying door and whatever lay beyond it.
“Didn’t you do a waking dream and go through that door?” Leonora asked. “Oh, yes here is is…”
Remembering that I had done a waking dream and gone beyond the door once, I marched up to the door, flung it open and strode through. Suddenly an almost overpowering fear and dread stopped me in my tracks but I carried on anyway.
It was a bit like a old slightly shabby but once grand hotel foyer, high ceilings (not the same as when I went through in the waking dream, which was then rows of closed doors on either side). The foyer opened out on the left into a large old fashioned restaurant dining room, with one person over on the far side sitting at a table. I carried on straight ahead through opaque etched glass double doors onto an upstairs outdoor terrace. There was a city scene below. On the left was a shallow ornately shaped ornamental pool.
“Reminds me a bit of our trip to Barcelona, this does, eh” Leo commented.
“Yeah, I’m sure that had something to do with the gargoyle imagery” replied Bea.
A woman squeezed past me holding a small thick book and I knew she was going to jump off the terrace which was several storeys up. She collapsed into the pool, writhing backwards, baring a flat white breast and dropping the book.
“Flat breast, hahah Bea, that weren’t you then, obviously, was it!”
Bea chuckled. “Not bloody likely! I reckon that bit slipped in the dream because I can’t find a comfortable bra lately”
“You and me both” replied Leo. She continued reading from the journal.
I picked up the book, and somehow ended up with two books, which seemed like guide books. I couldn’t hold onto the two books with the creature in my hand, which was weird, like a very heavy small furry grey reptile, or gargoyle.
“Maybe it was a baby dragon?”
“Don’t say that!” retorted Bea, who had a horror of dragons. “The thought did cross my mind too, though” she admitted.
I was holding it with one hand round its middle and the fat grey belly of it was bulging out under my fingers. It was unbelievably heavy for such a small creature and I didn't want to hold it, so I passed it to a boy. (Twice I was holding the creature, and twice I passed it to the boy, but I can't recall the other time)
Back inside the building, I followed the boy down a big wide staircase that curved round to the right at a landing below. I started to fall down the stairs and knew it was because of the book that I was holding that the woman had been holding when she collapsed into the pool, so I threw the book down the stairs to save myself, and felt the tumbling down from the books perspective, although I stayed in the same place, clutching the banister.
“The creature, the gargoyle, was representing ‘a different species of awareness, of consciousness’” continued Leonora, as Bea hastily started taking notes. Leo wouldn’t remember what she’d said while she was channeling Juani, so it was essential that Bea record what was said.
“The weight was a marker to help you recall the creature, as well as being symbolic of denseness”
Bea couldn’t help making a snirking noise. Dense eh, she said under her breath.
“The door” continued Leonora “Is a signpost, a marker.”
“Pffft” said Bea.
7:33:59 AM 8-19-08 ∞1da Geolocation Time.
days of sleeping slip by. the light on the peaks soft, golden in the cool dawn. a shiver. the water would be cold but thirst is a motivating factor. movement would mean warmth. birds flitting from branch to branch…
stones to perch on. river jade at my finger tips. the babble of a quickly flowing stream. scooping with one hand to drink from a clear pool, the musky scent of cedar and low water.
across the wide stream, a river. actually. no. the amount of water between a stream and a river. a young buck, head bent low also drinking. antlers. how are years marked again? two prongs on each side. is that two years after reaching mating age? or four. no matter. eyes latch across rapidly flowing water. we watch each other. both still, both quiet. both recognizing in each other another survival being of dreams.
dream memory extending into long ago. no. longer than that. the rules to colonizing a planet. simple universal rules. one band of survival beings with a limited number of nuclear families from any survival being group that wishes to expand into livable planets. set down in one place – with nothing. no food. no implements. not even clothes. if they survive they colonize. if not. well. the universe is full of tried and failed experimentation. The pulse of all that is drawn into a black hole. drawn in and back out through tunnels of light that are trapped within the black hole…
the fact that more than one form of survival being can attempt to colonize one planet at any given time is both an advantage and a disadvantage. they become resource for each other as well as competition – resource and competition, as is all that is within and upon the planet.
still that cave, that First Cave. on the tip of the continent in the southern hemisphere… blue ocean view… a beginning that is long ago. how long ago? 160,000 planet years? 200,000 thousand planet years? late arrivals as we are, this is where our colonization is now. Digging to find those memories and what is left of that initial arrival…
walking up this valley on the other side of a continent, an ocean away from First Cave… funny how time advances forward and backward in both directions – in all directions – and remains the same. This now is the same now as that now and remains the same in both directions as it passes around each of us.
the sun trickling across the tips of trees lower and lower into the valley. another half an hour and it will be in my face.
might as well eat breakfast while I walk. thimble berries, currents, oh! yarrow. i could make tea. – if I made fire. If I had fire… or i could make yarrow tea because i have sun. . .
at peace within because i know i am returning to the High Portal Cave on the mountain, near the timberline. the central entrance, near the ancient pine. The safe harbor of the High Portal Cave, the entrance to a multitude of passageways, interconnecting chambers and stunning connecting points that open beyond this time and beyond this continent – before and after this continent. probably, through the right passage way opening beyond this planet. I don’t know that, it makes sense that it does. I believe I will find out in my memory or in my future. i remember some of these things and places. not all of them. i remember entering, finding the stone trough of water with the wooden drinking bowl on the damp ledge. i remember passageways that lead to incredible places and times. why return now? without knowing i know. this is the way it is because this is the way it will become.
warm sun on my chest. warm from walking. birds, quiet as i approach, resume their constant foraging as i pass. along the shore the constant sound of the river stream like the white noise of the universe, beautiful and ever present so that if i am not mindful i no longer hear it.
a walking stick. ok, a broken branch caught between boulders. still green enough to be strong, almost as thick as my forearm with little taper and altho it is not straight, it is a head taller than i am – perfect. a walking stick. a walking staff. i work it loose from the rocks. strange markings… the hand of an intelligent being – a gift then.
do images become visible on these pages or only the thoughts and sights from within my mind, i wonder. i try to remember not to believe all that i think… if i wonder… then do i attempt to find out? yes, often enough, yes. and why is short hair exciting, new, a sign of adventuring? changes. oh. perhaps. or perhaps it’s a way of changing breath. I smile. I walk on.
She was squatting on the sand beach, near the now calm ocean. The light was so dim that she barely could see the devastation, shards of coconut and palm trees spread on the shore, but the sound of the ocean was soothing.
Aaah she had hold that pee for too long.
“MAaaAVIS!” That suave authoritative voice must have been Sha’s.
“COooOMING!” Tsk. One can’t have a pee alone…
While she was readjusting her two pieces bath suit, ready to come back to the improvised discotheque, her attention was caught by something on the beach. A fire?
She squinted her little beady eyes to discard any of the hallucinatory visions that sometimes she had.
“BLODDY COMIN’!” a hint of exasperation. “Mrs Sharon Stone, you ain’t the queen here” she thought. “I can go look for adventure meself, if I want to”.
Besides, the fire didn’t seem to be too far away.
With the darkness that made very difficult their progress, Akita had made them stop near the shore, where they would see any trouble coming and had ordered the small troop to collect twigs and bits of wood to light a fire.
The parents were still in a bit of a shock, and were staying with a blank gaze, looking with an air of wildness at the soothing sound of the waves. Anita was playing nearby, drawing things in the sand, muttering words to herself.
That was a good thing that Claude was there. Unlike the others, he seemed quite strong, and the adventure didn’t seem to have left him short of resources.
He had been on the island before, and had said they had to avoid the constructions, which were all owned by the same people.
For all that mattered, Akita wanted to get to the authorities as soon as possible, but he had to compromise: they would settle close enough to have a check around and see if it would be safe to go there.
In a minute, Claude had been roaming through the woods and had gathered a pile of wood. That guy was pretty amazing, Akita was thinking. Odd that he had retained his supernatural strength… At least, Akita had imagined that the guy’s strength was the result of the spider exposure, but now he started to doubt it. He had been sketchy to say the least around the circumstances of his presence.
As far as he himself was concerned, Akita wished he had retained somewhere his connection to Kay, wherever his spirit dog was. What the creature had said? That veils were thicker, but not impermeable… Or something around that.
I think they’re still hanging around
What? What did you say? But Anita didn’t answer. Perhaps his tired mind was imagining things.
With all that rain soaked wood, it would be difficult to get anything but smoke.
I’ve got a lighter Claude handed him an expensive ziraf that flashed moon reflection in his eyes.
Let’s get started then.
Mmm… this island’s getting too crowded, me think. Must be another of Vessie’s guests… That gal sure’s got how to use her sex-apple.”
Becky was undecided. Add to the last entry? Or start another? Grinning wickedly, she started another.
Her second impulse selection was a slightly late coincidence, but a coincidence notwithstanding. It was about Sand Dragons . A Few days previously Becky had been to an auction. She bid for and won a first edition copy of Wisp magazine; it had cost her an arm and a leg, but she was delighted with her purchase. It would increase in value, and was a delight to read some of the first published articles of the many authors, poets, artists and photographers who would later become famous. The article about sand sculptures had reminded her of the T.R.A.P. day out.
Well, how about that! exclaimed Becky, reading the rest of the comment. Wish House is one of my most favourites, and I chose it by accident!
“Illi used to play a game with Cranky (as she affectionately called nanny Chraddock) in the long months while her parents were away, called Wish House. Every room in the sprawling Elizabethan house was a different time and place, and the moment they entered the room they imagined themselves to be different people, in other times. Petunia Duster the maid loved to join in too; consequently not alot of housework got done, but with Gus and Flora always off travelling, nobody minded. Playing was, after all, so much more important than dust. In fact, a thick layer of dust made the rooms all the more mysterious and magical.”
Becky ran her finger along the dust on her desk and smiled.
OH! Becky jumped. I almost forgot to make a note of the number, now what was it? she mused, scratching her head. I think it was 171
Becky wondered whether or not to start another entry. Intuitively, she chose not to. Her third random choice was another synchronicity with the first edition of Wisp: it was about pyramids in Spain. The first edition of Wisp magazine was particularly valuable as it was the first mention in print of the discovery of the Iberian pyramid culture.
Number 835 she noted
Passing through the security cordon of the giant spiders had been relatively easy, thanks to the indications telepathically passed down to them by the Snoot .
With Anita on her back, Yurmaela the gruffoon had come back to the borgulm tree where Claude had been left to watch. After a moment of surprise at the unexpected apparition, he didn’t take long to decide whether he wanted to stay or not and had jumped on the broad back with the little smiling girl who was grabbing on the coarse hair of the beast.
— Keep you energies and your attention close to us, said Yurmaela Just like Akayli is doing with your parents, Anu. Though they have plenty of eyes, the giant spiders mostly rely on their energy perception, and they won’t see you if you stay within our energy field.
A few minutes later, they were all standing in front of the growirling wortex, partially masked by the bark of the huge babul tree, which was standing out with its massive appearance. Flames of what seemed to be dark floating matter were pulsating very slowly, enhancing the thumping sound of their hearts.
— Ready to come back home sweet Anu? Akayli said fondly to the little girl?
— Yes, it was so much fun you all came to play with me… I’d want you to stay with me.
— What do you say? asked Claude They ain’t coming?
— This reality had a special design which allowed us to project very easily here said Yurmaela very softly in that reality of you, and Anita and Akita; as for now, the barrier in that reality is thicker than it is here.
— But we are always present around Anu, you know that said Akayli kneeling down to wrap his spotted furry arms around the little girl
— Yes I know she was smiling And I miss my parents too
— So let’s go, the wortex will close any moment now
— Easy peasy, answered Yuki, all we need to do is focus on the aspects we want to bring into alignement
— Wait, wait, wait! the tone of urgency in Rafaela was baa’ing in their ears What did you say?… How do we do?! Why do you say we have to focus, I say, bee, Focus on Fun and reel in nonsense, and with gusto,… and pesto too, if there is! What do we care about facts, it’s all in your head, You Create your Herbality, and Go with the Fawn!… Unless it is “You are Goat Also”… I think I’m lost here! But really, what did you say, speak clearly, it’s awful, I can’t hear you! Loud and clear Cotton-tail, Load and Clean! Oh, bugger the typos, There are No Secretions,… and why are those frigging mottherflies all around my side whiskers when I can’t put them on my Chimera?!
— What? Rafaela said after an awkward instant.
— Err… Nothing, I think we’ll improvise on that one answered Yuki, a bit overwhelmed.
— Good thinking Einski Armelle retorted. That way, we know for sure we will end up something ridiculous and —how do they say?— mentally challenged?
— Yeah, yeah… As they say, Follow Your Passiflora… encouraged Rafaela with glinting eyes, her whiskers now full of perched yellow mottherflies.
— Okay… At the count of fifty-seven!
— Ahaaha, that’s a joke… at the count of five
— ONE… TWO… THREE… FOUR… FIVE!
Can we go now Yurmaela? Akayli was asking to his new reconfigured friend.
Indeed… answered the great winged big-eyed, long-eared, thick-haired creature that had appeared after the three essences had merged together. We’ll fly Claude and Anita on our back to the wortex, on top of the cleared trail. Akayli, you follow our lead with Anita’s parents, and we can all jump to the other dimension and kiss these spiders bye-bye!
When Franiel got to the crossroads the path turned abruptly to the left and plunged sharply down, past a crumbling and long-deserted stone cottage, to a little bridge built across a gently flowing river. Beyond the bridge there was a short ascent westwards through a thickly wooded area and then the way opened out rather suddenly. Such a pleasant and restful scene welcomed Franiel that for a moment he felt he may have entered a dream. The air was fragrant, the grass was sprinkled with daffodils and shaded by great chestnut trees. Confronting Franiel, at the south-west corner of the green, was a massive stone lych-gate. Beyond the lynch gate, and almost hidden by trees Franiel could see the roof of Chesterhope Manor.
In the day of judgment God be merciful to Derwent a sinner ……hehehehe. Well good riddance to God’s judgement! Begone God’s judgement! We’ve cheated the parson, we’ll cheat him again, for why should the vicar have one in ten ? Oh what’s this now then walking through the gate? A stranger! hehehehehe…tis one of God’s angels methinks, perhaps come to strike old Derwent down for his heathen ways and blasphemous tongue. Well does old Derwent even know what an angel looks like? and he chuckled in delight at the very idea of it.
You there! he shouted as Franiel drew close, Are you the angel Gabriel come as a messenger of God’s wrath? Or a wandering stranger come to pass the time of day with me?
Madame Chesterhope! Does she still live here then? He lowered his voice reverently. A real angel that one, better than those biblical ones by a long shot. So you want a word in her ear. You will have to find it first of course.
Should I try the house? asked Franiel politely.
Try the house? Derwent rubbed his bearded chin thoughtfully. I tell you what! Try the magic mushrooms first, and when you’ve tried them, try the patience of Saint Derwent. He gave Franiel a kindly pat on the shoulder. Good on you for trying Lad, anyway. I’ll bid you farewell now and if you do find an ear, best keep it, a spare ear can always come in handy.
I am sorry, Ms Tattler, I am under strict instructions from Mr Arak that I am under no circumstances to let you in until this office has been cleaned. I will lose my job if I let you in.
Now there’s an idea! she thought, toying with the idea momentarily
Why that pompous, arrogant, supercilious proot ….. Elizabeth paused midflow to admire her vocabulary.
Finnley was quite enjoying the change of routine, and Ms Tattler’s office really was a treasure trove of interesting bits and pieces. The thick layer of dust, and were those magpie droppings? were a little off-putting mind-you. She plucked a book randomly from the shelf, and lifting the visor of her protective faceshield in order to see better, gently wiped the title clean. “I am Perfect Indeed” The author was some fellow named Erwin P Lemone who Finnley had never heard of. She picked another one, “Basic Flying Massage Techniques of the Ancient Kuzhebar, Book One for Beginners” by Jibberish E Shrale
Finnley, Elizabeth’s voice had taken on a wheedling tone from the other side of the door. Be a sweetie-pooh will you and put this note in my clooh-box. Finnley watched intrigued as a piece of paper inched its way under the locked door.
Sure Ms Tattler, where is the clooh-box?
On my office desk, next to the daily quotes. Don’t mess anything up Finnley dear, you be careful, I have very precious things in my office.
Finnley could not resist a peek but the scribbled words made no sense to her
Amanita muscaria intoxication typically produces macroopsia – Beckipooh?
13th gate and the 13th skull FEBRUPOOH 20TH 2008
The Snoot – who is he really?
ArakDr Bronkelhampton? ? ? ? WHAT IS PLAN B?????????
Her eyes fell on the daily quote for the day, that Lemone chappie again!
rainy wedding, merry marriage
She snorted derisively, He must be madder than Almad that Lemone, how silly! No wonder poor Ms Tattler seemed a bit mindblown sometimes if she reads stuff like that
A marmoset jumped from a bush in front of Akita and Kay. Oh, that’s only a monkey! said Akita. But suddenly the werewolf growled and started to chase the marmoset, which had just disappeared into the mangrove. Kay! Come back! Leave that thing alone! … Finding himself talking to the trees, Akita shrugged, wondering why the dog spirit who never chased anything before had become suddenly drawn to a minuscule monkey. He would sure come back, but that was odd…
A large magpie jumped before Number Four (who went also by the nickname of Niv’, as N°IV was the name written on the cell). Oh, that’s only a bird… muttered the drowsing mummy, who started to jump at every abrupt sound cropping up inside the thick vegetation of the island… But soon, another magpie appeared from the sky and landed next to the first. And then another, until Four was surrounded by a crowd of big magpies looking oddly calm. Can’t fall asleep now… Can’t…
Oörlaith was picking star-thistles buds that were growing on the ruins in the Marshes. She had always felt attracted by the putrid Marshes, for many reasons.
There was something in her own demeanour that made creatures and people comfortable around her, and she had always felt in herself that natural balancing and accepting qualities that makes a good Healer.
But it was a complex matter, and her choices of explorations had always stirred much incomprehension in the various people she had met over her life. And she had met lots.
Of course, the first ones where her own parents. They were opulent burgomasters of one of the major towns of Cromash Tur, and from the date of her birth, Oörlaith was destined to marry one of the Warlords of these regions. Something that was sound and portent of good fortune, as her parents kept saying. Warlords were always in need of fundings for their expeditions, and in exchange would be providing a modicum of security for the commerce and other activities. It was thus all good for everybody. Good exchange of practices.
But very early in life she had known her path was not that one.
Nothing as plain and simple… and boring! one must admit. Her parents would have not, though.
As far as she remembered, she first had a living proof of her potentials when she healed a small bird back to life. A miracle, for the poor thing had been maimed by an rabid chipmog pillaging birds nests for eggs, and throwing the little hatched bird off the branches. Chipmogs were no more evil than the bird she knew that, and their show-offy nature was even a blessing in disguise, as she had been quickly alerted of the incident.
She was four year-old.
Only later did she became aware of how she could best learn to develop her magical potentials. Her parents wouldn’t have let her know about such things as how to become a Grand Sorceress, for they did not really know much about it, and also for it was considered unfitting to her rank. “Simpletons”, she couldn’t help but think.
But the day she became aware of the legendary Island of Mörk, she instantly set her goal to be counted among the best of their Learned Ones, whatever the price for her.
And notwithstanding her relatively young age, she got by her own to the Island, and was trained there too… But then again, it was not as easy, as she rebelled against some of the Laws of Magic passed down by the Teachers, Laws that were thick and dry as a century old grimorium full of abstruse formulæ.
Hopefully, she ended up with misfits as much she was, her dear sisters Roselÿn and Malvina.
When it was time for them to part on their own adventures, she again surprised many (but not her dear sisters) by stating that she would settle near the Marshes. The legends surrounding this place, as well as the huge potential for practicing healing in one of the most difficult environments were immense incentives for her.
The Teachers had warned her of the immense energy that filtered in these lands, as it was a coordinate point where things had already gone awry in the past. She had almost laughed at them. Of course she was aware, that was all about that. Definitely not for the faint of hearts.
Her companion Andarión, who was in his/her preferred shape a majestic water dragon, as wise as it was a crackpot at times, had been aware of her intentions as soon as they had first met. They had chosen each other quite purposefully, though she was not entirely aware of her role in these discoveries. But undoubtedly he was an asset.
All that farting had been quite exhausting, but the mummy felt that she was reincorporating vigor more quickly now, as the old fartesque energy was giving way.
This was a quicker process than birthing, but also more disturbing.
She slowly started to unwrap her bandages.
She smiled as she saw her peach smooth skin on her hands.
Malvina had clapped her hands and made the food and drinks and decorations disappear in the reception hall of the cave, feeling the time was not to big parties right now. The guest had moved again, and she had not been in the mood for party either.
She had not yet managed to reestablish contact with her sisters and that was a more pressing matter.
Leörmn had been retreating into his seasonal slumber, and would not be of great help at the moment, so she knew it was also time for her to get back to simple things and not worry about what was not yet here. Probabilities had simply moved, they would come back.
The silgreen tree had bloomed, and she wanted to brew some potions with its flowers. She would then go with Irtak to the village sell some vials of potion, and perhaps they would take the opportunity to see Huÿgens too, as he sometimes needed such potions for his langoats.
For Illi the cat, that cave filled with slimey scaly beasts was now out of her way.
This dead Illi experience had been so intense she had almost believed there indeed was a pink indigo dragon right were she was at the entrance of the cave. But the impression had vanished all of a sudden, and she had found herself with her mind again her own only, without the echoing thoughts of that deranged other.
She had found a tree nearby, and comfortably seated on some high branches had been mediating with the help of trance inducing betel catkins that she carried with her as she traveled.
She had seen some weird stuff, like farting bandage wrapped people putting cobblestones to make a way to the sky, but that was enjoyable. As nothing really could make sense that night, she decided to go to sleep on her tree.
In the morning, a snorting sound made her raise her pointy ears. Just below her tree, a man was eating and singing, looking at some map, obviously planning some interesting adventure…
— How pitiful we left that sabulmantium to the snorting man… Mandrake said, we could have had a peek into Arona’s adventure… Not that I am concerned, she is so brave, but you know, she’ll always be my little… What am I saying? mumbled Mandrake temporarily confused.
— Oh, you mean, Arona had a sabulmantium?
— Mmm, well, of course… We projected hairy cows and stuff… (I’m really saying the stupidest things today, might be that herbal tea, shivered Mandrake, licking his paw and combing with it the unkempt hair on his head)
— Interesting… But you know if you want to have a look, we can do otherwise. Let me see…
— (trying to make yourself important, huh) thought Mandrake
Vincentius took a little blue bag tied to his belt, and threw a pinch of a smelly mossy powder on the smoldering embers.
A thick greenish smoke started to rise making Mandrake retreat carefully (or tactfully he would say) in his favourite place behind the pile of logs to look at the discomfiture of poor Vincentius without having to overwhelm him too much with his own superior sharp intuitive senses.
But to Mandrake’s surprise, the smoke steadied like a moving wall, and images started to foarm.
About time you woke up, came a familiar grumpy voice from behind a pile of logs. Mandrake emerged. And I don’t have fur balls, he added, haughtily.
Mandrake, thank God! Arona had been a little concerned that , given the amount of time presumably had passed, Mandrake may no longer be with them. Tactfully she kept this to herself, given Mandrake’s especially truculent mood.
Please tell me what happened now, she said to Vincentius. I think I am ready to hear.
Vincentius looked uncertain, sighed , but agreed to tell her the tale. Afterwards, Arona was silent for quite some time. She stared thoughtfully at the fire, mesmerised by the dancing flames, gently stroking Mandrakes silky black coat.
Oh bugger, she said eventually and stood up decisively. I really think I have to go and see that old lizardy croney woman, and without delay.
I wish you wouldn’t, but I do understand, said Vincentius sadly.
I don’t understand, said Mandrake crossly, twitching his tail impatiently and narrowing his green eyes
Thank you so much for caring for him, she said to Vincentius and gave him a huge hug.
On the way out of the cave she ran into Leormn.
Oh, she said, Vincentius said you allowed us to use the room. Thank you so much. And she kissed Leormn on what she thought would be his cheek, however, a little unsure of Dragon anatomy, it may have been technically a snout or something.
Arona walked rapidly for several hours, trying to concentrate on the directions given to her by Vincentius and hoping that she was headed in the right direction. Eventually she started to tire and her determination faded. She sat down on a rock and closed her eyes. Her shoulders slumped in weariness and she despondently wished she was back in the cave with the others. She felt deeply sad.
And is this something you really must face? asked a kindly voice in her head.
I have no idea really, she answered despairingly. I don’t know. I mean I thought I knew. I thought if I didn’t then I would always be in fear. When I looked into the flames of the fire it all seemed clear. I needed to understand and face it, I thought anyway….
hmmm, said the voice. Well the best advice I can give you is to trust yourself.
Arona opened her eyes and saw, to her surprise, a small cottage in the distance. Why, I don’t remember that cottage being there a moment ago, she thought. It looks just as Vincentius described. How remarkable. I was closer than I thought! Her spirits rose.
Outside the cottage the old crone was bent over, digging in a small vegetable plot. A basket of cabbages sat by her side. She stood up at Arona’s approach, wiping the dirt from her gnarly hands on her apron.
I have come to get some answers from you, said Arona, firmly crossing her arms and ignoring the outstretched hand.
Alright little one, Lucille said soflty. Why don’t you go and wait in the orchard. I will go and fix us a nice, cool drink of lemonade.
The orchard was full of old fruit trees, their twisted trunks reminded Arona of Lucille herself. From one of the trees hung an old swing. Arona sat on it, holding the rope, and gently rocked herself back and forwards, thinking. She had to admit, she was, quite frankly puzzled. The visit so far wasn’t going as expected.
She kept rocking, faster now.
She hit her heels into the hard earth again and again.
I don’t know. She tried to dig these words into the earth with her heels.
Then she sidestepped her feet in crab-like movements in diminishing circles. The ropes of the swing twisted tighter and tighter.
Arona leant backwards and stuck her legs out straight in front of her. The ropes unwound and sent her spinning. weeeeeeeeeeee hoooooooooooooooo!
She looked up into the sky. Blue sky through the trees with racing spinning clouds. She felt dizzy.
She stood up and braced herself against the seat of the swing. She held onto the ropes and pushed hard against the seat beneath her. She bent her knees under the swing. She kicked her feet forwards.
She wanted to go higher. She bent her legs back under the swing. Then kicked them outwards. She stretched her body backwards and arched her back.
I don’t know, she whispered.
She sat upright. She bent her legs back under the swing. Then kicked them as hard as she could. She leant her body backwards. She stretched as far as she could. On the rebound her heels hit the ground hard, but still she wanted to keep going higher and higher.
I DON’T KNOW! she shouted, as loudly as she could.
Lucille returned with the lemonade.
How do I know if it is safe to drink this? Arona asked. You have cast one spell on me, how am I to know this is not another?
Okay, well that makes good sense, thought Arona, gratefully drinking the lemonade.
ARONA MEETS THE NANNY
Dreamily Arona wandered away from the cave, gently holding the sleeping Yikesy close to her heart. Mandrake the cat followed, elegantly attempting to convey the impression he was there by mere chance, and by some stroke of fortune happened to be heading in the same direction.
Arona had no clear idea where she was going, or what her intentions were even. Still this was nothing new for Arona, who was a bit of an aimless wanderer really herself at heart. She pretended she was looking for magic, but really, she wasn’t so sure anymore what she was looking for.
Arona was momentarily rendered speechless by a vison up ahead. The most beautiful creature she had ever seen sat no more than 5 dragon-lengths up ahead.
Mandrake, she eventually whispered when she had regained her composure, What is this miracle ahead? Is this some maiden’s dream? A heavenly creature come to earth perhaps?
A miracle sent by God to save you? suggested Mandrake
His near naked body a masterpiece of bronzed skin pulled taut over rippling muscles.
But you know I am no hapless fool Mandrake, to swoon over a handsome stranger.
No, indeed. And might I enquire why for art we art speaking so oddly? asked Mandrake
Buggered if I know, answered Arona
Despite the bravado she managed to display at times, Arona was very shy, and would never have had the confidence to approach such a godlike creature. However at that moment Yikesy started to cry loudly. The god looked up from his silent reverie and smiled.
Oh a baby, he said in a deep melodic voice. I love babies. He came bounding athletically over and gazed down at Yikesy. My, that is an endearingly ugly baby.
Mandrake looked unhelpfully back at her, with a rather sarcastic little smile on his face.
Oh I am sure that could be arranged, snorted Mandrake.
Arona glared at Mandrake and decided the time had come to pull herself together. I am so sorry for the misunderstanding, she said charmingly to Vincentius. The baby’s name is Yikesy. And certainly you may hold him for a moment.
Look this is probably a silly question but you aren’t after a nanny by any chance? Oh no of course you aren’t, said Vincentius, apologetically, seeing the amazed expression on Arona’s face. I am so sorry, just wishful thinking on my part. Please forget I said anything and forgive me for my impudence.
Well actually, said Arona, frantically attempting to remain calm, I really have no idea how to look after this baby and I did have a bit of an idea a nanny might be quite useful.
Well this is a fortuitous meeting indeed then!
But I can’t afford to pay you, she said sadly, unconsciously fiddling with her hair and fluttering her long thick eyelashes.
Oh don’t worry about that small detail. I am sure we can come to some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement, and Vincentius winked at her.
Arona drew herself up to her full height, firmly took Yikesy back and said; I will have you know if you are going to wink at me this can’t possibly work. I have no idea what a wink means. You will have to speak clearly if you have something to say to me.
OH bugger bugger bugger! thought Arona. What is it with me and winking. Now I have blown it. BUGGER.
But Vincentius just laughed good naturedly, and musically too of course. Perhaps we will just play it by ear then shall we? I am delighted to be your new Nanny :yahoo_big_hug:.
When Al met the others, he was rather nonplussed by the profusion of capillar effects. Hairs colours were now a bit out of fashion, but he had to admit that Sam’s colours were radiant… Well, had it been for himself, he would have preferred something a tad bluer.
When Becky had made her appearance, he was really impressed. He found Becky had made a “bald” move that was suiting her dark complexion to a T.
(Becky was indeed sporting her African ancestry, coming from her mother Sabine Baina N’Diaye, with as much pride as her expensive boots).
As for himself, Al was not displeased that he had followed the good-hearted advice of sweet Tina about his hair loss. But, as he had discovered along with Hari Amgic, it all boiled down to the fact that was he was finding the tonsure rather elegantly distinguished, and giving him the looks of a wise old monk.
That had made Tina laugh of course, as she was finding him looking more like a monkey than anything else. Well, fine then, a Capuchin and that’ll make us agree on something at least, he had retorted a bit vexed.
The truth was that now, with the help of Hari, he was growing hair so fast that he had to shave them in the morning, and they would be knee-long and thick in the evening… But that was fun.
He was laughing now; he couldn’t have the monk look, but at least he had the sadhu look.
He said to Tina with a mischievous wink that he really loved her hot pink dress with the little white kitty cats patterns on it. Perfect Goldilocks look.
She purchased her a gift voucher for an hour’s consultation with Hari Amgic. Hari had helped Al considerably when he was facing similar hair loss issues. Mostly Hari worked on identifying core underlying beliefs, particularly in relation to hair follicles, which was his area of speciality. Also a bit of energy work was involved and advanced visualisation skill training, or something. Tina was hazy on the details. Al had explained it of course, at some length. The main thing was though, that his hair looked great now and Tina felt optimistic for Becky.
The unusual overwhelming heat, which had begun with the spring equinox had finally temporarily receded with the appearance of big opaque cumulonimbus filling the sky with a mute thunderous sound. The flickering glow was no longer enough for Raphael to distinguish the small dark characters dancing before his eyes, the storm having let the night pounce on them earlier than it should have.
So, Raphael closed his thick leather-bound book and put it back into his burgundy backpack bag, inhaling deeply the air of the dusk, mollified by the music of the raindrops that ricocheted now discreetly on the rusty steel plates.
The remaining passengers began to hurry around a meager dinner wrapped in dirty newspaper sheets, displaying energy resources that he felt incapable of. Feeling no hunger at all, he decided to go on the pontoon to taste the moisture exuding in the evening, this celestial water, soothing down the fever of this trip, which drew to a close. The boat continued to rend imperturbably through the obsidian sea, and the thick enveloping fog prevented them to distinguish the lights of the city that he could feel at a distance.
This was not the first time, but at each of his return, the city seemed changed, this time ghostly apparition, once glittering pearl. This was undoubtedly one of the reasons which had him leave it, as others would have done with a lover, to better appreciate this fleeting moment of reunion.
The book had been given to him by a stranger he had met, and was part of his mission; he didn’t usually accept assignments in this city where he was too obvious, but the stranger had assured him nothing illegal would be required of him, just delivering a book.
He had leafed through the book, just to make sure there was no foul play on the part of this strange man with amber eyes that seemed to keep changing colours. But the book had seemed innocuous. Even worse, it did not make any sense for Raphael. The chapters were randomly numbered, and the text seemed to keep changing. Perhaps it was Raphael’s mind which played tricks on him, but it was baffling for him, as he was accustomed to keep his senses sharp as a dagger. Whatever,… The man had paid, and a plump pile of money even.
The insistent rumors of a mysterious illness which had already claimed fatalities within the walls of the city had not deterred him to go there —knowing that the few people caring about him would have preferred to see him flee this destination, so certain as they were to be themselves immune to the contingencies of life. Even the bald adipose captain of the ship, Fat Yong Choi had seemed wary of having a pale-skinned foreigner coming on board of his boat, but he had quickly seen that Raphael was no common traveler.
But there was no longer time to rehash those turpitudes, the harbour finally appearing, like a halo glow from the contours of which some faint sounds escaped, soon to be stifled by the purring and cracking of the bulging vessel.
The winds began to sweep the docks violently, causing the cargo, now anchored, to oscillate wildly, like a huge weeble at the hands of the elements. Fortunately, due to the alarming news from the city, the boat was only half full, and the unloading was smooth. Raphael, unnerved by the long journey, only wanted to walk, but patiently followed the slow pace of the procession which led him outside of the harbour’s enclosure, even before he had noticed it.
Raphael wanted above all to rest, but didn’t care to be bothered speaking to someone. He preferred to sink deep down in his thoughts while walking through the streets, rather than lose this feeling of freedom. Freedom to choose his own itinerary, without a word to say, entirely open to the silence of the streets.
The fine drizzle had indeed deserted the streets making the city infinitely enjoyable for him. It was indeed just as he liked it best, at dusk, just faintly resonating with the sound of his own steps.
Empty — a few passersby in search of a shelter nearby. He imagined to be a ghost haunting these places without life, enjoying the feeling of being the predator felinely prowling in this scene without spectators, shrouded in the reassuring complicity of the night.
Illi was quite pleased with the sand dragons.
HHHMMM, they don’t repulse me like dragons usually do. I think it’s because they are sand dragons, and sand is so much nicer than slimy cold scales. Well! Illi thought, I really wouldn’t know if they are slimy or cold, because, for the love of all-that-is, I would not choose to venture that close!
Illi chose to ignore her rather paradoxical musings on loving all that is, which would by definition include the beastly dragons, and turned her attention to the sand giant slouching patiently at the end of the beach.
Now giants, that’s another thing entirely. I am quite enamoured of giants, and this one looks so familiar!
When Illi was a young child she rarely saw her parents, the eccentric Lord Gustard Willoughby Fergusson and his charmingly batty second wife, Floribunda Chaiise-Loriket. Illi stayed at home in the anscestral country pile in Dorset, Rubbingdon Hall, with Nanny Chraddock while her parents travelled the world in search of giant bones and artifacts. Their travels took them far and wide, from the jungles of South America to the deserts of North Africa; from the mountains of Spain to the arid eternity of the Australian outback.
Illi used to play a game with Cranky (as she affectionately called nanny Chraddock) in the long months while her parents were away, called Wish House. Every room in the sprawling Elizabethan house was a different time and place, and the moment they entered the room they imagined themselves to be different people, in other times. Petunia Duster the maid loved to join in too; consequently not alot of housework got done, but with Gus and Flora always off travelling, nobody minded. Playing was, after all, so much more important than dust. In fact, a thick layer of dust made the rooms all the more mysterious and magical.
Huÿgens was not much of a cat person.
He liked his dogs because they were solid, loyal companions, and he could count on them to take care of his herd of langoats.
Langoats were a kind of three-eyed manic woolly and horned creatures, with a big sensing tongue, attracted to every new sound, or scent, or colour, or texture… well almost anything new that came before their eyes (when said eyes were not covered by thick layers of wool that is). And as their memory was short too, all kinds of things were always new to them.
That was why the dogs were extremely useful in channeling their movements; not that the langoats would have hurt themselves, because they were very able to provide for themselves, and jump from the top of a cliff without suffering much injuries. But they could very well loose all notion of their physicality and pop in and out of the fabric of time and space.
When they came back, because they always did magically come back, even after months of wandering, they would at times be reconfigured into another creature, and that would be pointless applying too much effort in trying to bring them back to their previous form, because it was said, in relation to their stubbornness that once a langoat, always a langoat…
Huÿgens had already lost some, especially during the shearing season.
And he had found himself back once with a cumbersome hippoliphant, and a bouncy shulimeek instead of two langoats.
Anyway, langoats wool was a very precious asset, highly sought after, as it could very easily bind with magical spells. Most of the clothes made for royalties were actually made with langoat wool, and it was also said that some enchanters had used langoat wool to make magical tapestries that would shapeshift, and reveal things to their owners.
So losing a langoat was not small concern for Huÿgens, and he had to be careful during the shearing season to leave some mops of hair to cover the three eyes of the beasts, so as to curb their insatiable thirst for discoveries.
But these days, Huÿgens had been very concerned about his herding dog Fjutch. Fjutch was a fluffy black dog he had found when it was still a puppy. He had trained it to become the head of his pack of dogs, when he had noticed the old rheumatic Thöm was taking the puppy under its wing —because the old faithful dog was knowing that it would depart and would reconfigure into a new form, but would not allow that to happen, not before he could have found a reliable companionship for his beloved master Huÿgens.
The healing properties of the langoat milk seemed to had done wonders once again, and Fjutch dis-ease was probably just a false alarm, but it had reminded Huÿgens how much he appreciated his dogs, every one of them, every day he was with them.
As for the cats… Illi, that was her name, had decided to come back to the cave, and he was showing her the way to the place where he had found her. He had asked BelleDora to pack a few things for her. He could not give Illi the beverage she was referring to as “coffee”, as that plant was not found in their region, but in compensation, he gave her a gourd of langoat milk, because she seemed like she would probably need some.
When he left her near the hole, he had some tears in his eyes when Illi hugged Fjutch very tenderly, as if the dog was reminding her of something dear. Illi after a moment hesitation, where she was like speaking to herself and not knowing what to do, finally hugged Huÿgens too, thanking him for everything he had done.
And off she was… free and unfettered as a gripshawk…
When Illi had finished arguing with Illi about having her hug the big man, while this was not manners of her kind, she sighed as she saw that the opening she had first thought was here (yeah, because I fell in there! she said), her senses where telling her that it was now closed…
— How quaint said Illi for herself.
— Well, as a matter of fact, it reminds me of something, said Illi F. There was that delicious gentleman, John Lubbock who said “What we see depends mainly on what we look for” and somehow it seems perfect.
— I don’t know any Grubbeck, grumbled Illi, a bit irritated that the hole, which was there before, wouldn’t be here, now she needed it.
— Lubbock was such a nice person, said Illi dreamily… Perhaps I could just try to have a peek inside the cave, if you let me.
— What?! Do again your wizzy wooey thing and I’ll strangle you! Don’t know how I would do it, but I’ll do it!
— Oh, you are so sluggishly gloomy! That was just to help you…
— Mmm, sorry for that, I was a bit upset, said Illi. What could you do?
— Just focus on the inside, and carry us both inside… But actually you would have to leave your body here, and we’ll probably see other things that do not belong to this place, but heck! that should be fun, Illi F said grinning widely.
They were interrupted by some munching sounds and ruffling heavy breath.
— What the bejeezus is that?! hissed Illi the cat (who didn’t even know how she knew so funny sounding words as bejeezus)
— Can’t you see? That’s obviously a dragon eating some bushes… How strange… replied Illi F airily.
— A WHAT? I HATE DRAGONS!
— Ahahah, relax, I was just pulling your leg.
— That’s not funny.
— Well he has funny colours by the way. Pinkish purple I wouldn’t dare to wear in London streets.
— That’s REALLY NOT FUNNY!
— Why so? You can’t see it anyway…
— And what if he sees me? Dragons are vicious creatures.
— He’s too busy eating these funny berries, and will probably collapse of exhaustion once he’s full.
— A chance! A vegetarian dragon!
— OK. Shall we try to find an entrance in the cave with my method, or do we ask the dragon? He looks well-mannered by the way.
— Oh, by the eyeballs of the Mighty Shrimp, you tell me…
— No, you choose.
— No, you.
— Ooooh, bugger off…
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