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    When Cuthbert came back to bed after having had his cup of cocoa, India Louise was awake too.

    — I saw him too, she said to her brother.
    — I don’t want to see him again, these books are scarey.
    — It’s intriguing, I want to know more, India Louise said, egging on him.
    — When I close my eyes, I got all these roots and webs crawling, it’s mad… I can’t…
    — He has found a friend to help him cross the Dark Forest to the traveling portal.
    — A friend?
    — Yes, a friend. She’s special.
    — Tell me more…
    — She’s a white unicorn, only him can see her.
    — Wow…
    — She’s named Mirÿnda. She’s glowing white, and he hears her speak in his mind, she shows him the way through the forest…


    — Mirÿnda?! A fool in saffron robe gallivanting in the forest with a unicorn now? That’s all you could find?

    Tina was taken aback…

    — Well, I could have used a grizzly bear too, now I think of it… Al answered flippantly.
    — Tsk tsk, replied Tina a bit annoyed. And why not a humpback whale, or an arctic lemming, or even… why, a leopard gecko for that matter?… And who’s that Mÿrinda anyway?


    — I don’t know any Amanda, Fiona said to Quintin that night. Don’t really know many of Michaela & Elias’ students. She’s Yann friend, right?

    Quintin had answered distractedly, as he was engrossed by his last painting…

    Later that night, he couldn’t find sleep, as the dragon he was painting was still expanding his web of roots and branches in his mind’s eye. He opened his computer to see that Malika was online.

    She told him something that night, something Quintin found abysmally profound and perplexing about his dragon…

    Dragons can shape shift, into anything they want to. There are several doorways/portals that they use for travel into this dimension. Malika said
    — Yes, said Quintin, this drawing has something to do with these portals initially, but I struggle a bit to represent them…
    Yes, so you can just depict it to be flowing, liquid-like energy in the center, when the portal is active.
    There are some that are being shone to me on the bottom of the ocean floor.
    What is being shown to me, is a dragon with a tail much like a mermaid, and hands with webs, big yellow eyes…

    Wow he had thought, she can really see.


    Jadra, guided by Mirÿnda, had been moving quite easily through the Dark Forest. Of course, he wouldn’t have dared touch the holy creature, and so he was walking hesitantly behind, taking care of where his bare feet were touching the ground.

    The Dark Forest was bordering the Marshes of Doom, and at times the limits between the two were almost indiscernible. It was said that every foul, err… fool… damn,…

    — Will you stop being so buffoonish! raved Tina again.
    — Perhaps I should let someone else continue then? said Albert.
    — Well, that’s entertaining, replied Becky mechanically.
    — OK. I’ll jump in, said Samuel, with a wide grin.

    It was said that every full moon, the Mighty Shrimp would come from the shores of the Southern Seas and haunt the Marshes in search for souls to be turned into krill, so that he could be the WALRUS (Wrathful Almighty Lord Ruler of Undersea Souls).

    Well, at least, that’s what Jadra had heard in his youth, when you tend to believe everything… So he was weary of the hiki-hiki sounds in the night that might have been the dreaded call of the Mighty Shrimp.


    Quintin was having a strange dream. He was a huge whale, along with another one he knew was Yann, swimming powerfully in the vast ocean, passing by strange creatures that could have been mermaids or improbable fishes, when his gaze was attracted by a stream of glittering particles of light.

    The lights were enticing, he would have said even “mouth-watering”, had he not had the baleens full of water already…


    Salome was moving through layers of consciousness, something humans focused in physical dimensions would have found difficult to grasp, as it was nothing that could be easily conceptualized. She was, as best as she could put, like a huge cloud of lightness coalescing into a form, when she decided to project her aspect.

    Taking form into a dimension required no effort in actuality, the consensus reality created by all the essences focused into the reality making quite a strong pull. She only needed to move her attention to what she wanted to manifest. Altering her reality slowly around her, to move closer to the desired effect.

    She was not only traveling through time and space, but also through multitudinous layers of dimensions unnoticed to many humans —in fact, she was not really moving, but that was a convenient way of telling things for humans…

    She said “humans”, because she was fond of this particular dimension, where she’d had lots of experiences.

    When moving through the dimensions, it had her projected focus of attention constantly and naturally adapt its form to the psychological environment.

    Here, she had just moved through a honey-drops dimension, where focuses were drops of golden honey-like substance, and as she moved through it, her own aspect had changed to that of a sand-glass shaped drop of honey.

    This was great fun for her to see the ease with which she could focus into this infinite variety of adventures, but for now, her pull was to some more complex physical dimensions.

    She started to move again, de-focusing, past the lazy honey drops.

    The honey drops were now shape-shifting to a whole immense field of snake-like strings of light, and they all started to converge to a direction. She knew the feeling. She followed the strong pull.


    Bill, the itinerant artist commissioned to paint portraits of the Wrick family, was uneasy. While he’d been staying in the castle with the eccentric family, he’d lost all track of linear time. It had been altogether too confusing, and his head was spinning. Manon the cook had sent a tray up to his room, with a pot of Earl grey tea, and a plate of Yorkshire parkin for his supper, when he’d claimed to be developing a mysterious ailment and begged leave to retire to his room.

    Bill splashed some malt whiskey into his cup of tea. A good long sleep was what he needed, and with a sigh he drained his cup and climbed into bed, pulling the heavy eiderdown up over his chin. He lay there for awhile staring into space, not really aware of his thoughts. An owl hooted from the oak tree outside his window. Twit whoohooo twit whoo hooooooo…

    Bill blinked and then frowned. On the top of the Queen Anne highboy facing the end of his bed was a large carved stone face. How odd, he thought, I don’t recall seeing that there before.


    Everywhere Jadra went he could feel hostile eyes upon him. He knew why of course; he knew they were jealous because he had been favoured by the Gods. So he kept his hand safely hidden, wrapped in his shirt

    Jadra had a plan. He put his shirt back on and pulled the sleeve on the left arm down as far as it would go, till his left hand could no longer be seen. He modelled a new hand roughly out of twigs and plants and walked to the river. On the way he shouted at the top of his voice CURSED HAND, YOU HAVE GIVEN ME NOTHING BUT GRIEF. I WOULD RATHER NOT HAVE A HAND THAN HAVE SUCH A WICKED, EVIL APPENDAGE ATTACHED TO MY BODY.

    After shouting such sentiments till his voice was hoarse and he knew he had drawn sufficient attention he threw the hand in the river. He had cunningly weighted the hand with pebbles he had found in a cave so it would sink to the bottom of the river.


    HA! He thought, tremendously pleased with himself for executing such a perfectly clever plan. That should throw the evil hounds off the scent of Jadra Iamamad.

    He felt he was not far from the cave now.


    The boy was approaching in a manner he obviously wanted to be threatening, but the little girl was still giggling unafraid.

    He took his most growling voice.

    “Don’t you fear DRRRAAAGONSS?” he blew in her face.

    “Hahaha. What’s Dregguns?” she said with difficulties as if it was her first attempt in pronouncing the thunderous name.

    He took a deep breath as if to answer the question and stopped.

    She was looking at him with such innocence and friendship in her eyes.

    “You really don’t know what dragons are?”

    He drew closer and his gaze changed. And he looked surprised as if he was eventually noticing something important.

    “Oh hoho! I understand now why you seem such an unafraid little girl…”

    “I’m not little, I’m five.” she said grumpily. But she laughed as readily after that :))

    “It appears I’m in the middle of one of your dreams. What’s your name?”

    “I’m Chiara.”


    Fiona was feeling a bit weird.

    She was wondering what was real. Was she real? Wow I am starting to sound like Dory she said and then laughed

    Oh my goodness and now I am laughing out loud and talking to myself. Jarrod does that and they put him on medication for it.

    And were her online friends real? I mean what evidence did she have. There were these pebbles of course Yarn said he was sending, but where were they?

    The other day she had been talking to her friends via the internet, and she found herself telling this ridiculous bird story, which basically boiled down to “I saw a bird and a cracked egg shell”


    Ooops better stop laughing out loud so much. But at the time of seeing the bird it had felt really significant, as though something of importance was being communicated to her.

    And the online story they had all been writing — well was it all of them, or was it really just her writing it? — whatever, it was getting weirder and weirder and quite rude at times too actually. Or was it??? Was that her imagination again?

    And lately she kept winking. Good grief, I never wink, what is all that about? What the does a wink mean anyway?

    Fiona patted her dog George. He was so funny and uncomplicated. All he wanted to do was eat and play and have as much fun as possible… so cool. Actually that is all I want really too, she decided, and felt much better.


    New York, October, 4 th 2033

    Albert had opened the newspaper, scanning distractedly through the various pages of text that would read aloud automatically when he was running his fingers through it. He was about to close it, when he noticed that article in the Life Focus section.

    (click for article)


    Dublin, October 5 th 2033

    Sean Doran Wrick had received tons of phone calls, emails and voice mails of condolences since the past few weeks, but he had not found the strength to answer any of them. Especially those coming from his father.

    That morning, he had received some letters that he would have left on top of the others, had he not recognized the round and cheerful calligraphy of Becky on one of them.

    He had known Becky when they had traveled together in Syria, and had enjoyed so much the lively young woman that they had kept in touch during all those years.

    He was pleased to read from her, and wanted to enjoy it fully.

    So he took his time to put to bed Guinevere and Peregrine before. Guinevere was the eldest, very mature for her barely 11 year old. She took great care of her younger brother, who was more dreamy and foolish. Peregrine would turn 10 next March… but he was hardly as responsible as his sister when she was his age…

    Dear Sean, Becky was writing

    I would have liked to finally take the time to write to you in better conditions, but I could not delay any longer. I saw the obituary in the newspaper, and wanted you to know that I share your grief and loss, and extend much love and support to you and to your dear little ones.

    I know you’re not the kind of person to be satisfied with banalities, so I will not dwell on this tragedy, and will remember the best moments we shared together.

    I still continue my studies and practices on dramatherapy, and till now it has proved very beneficial, in many ways. I have learned so many things. It’s quite rewarding. We are a close-knit group of fools (or drôles as Al loves to say, as some of his ancestors come from the bayous!), and that is very much enjoyable when things that tragic come to one’s reality.

    In case you feel like talking, don’t hesitate any moment, I’ll be here. Anytime.




    Orkney Islands, October 4 th, 2057

    This year again, Sean Doran had not answered his father’s calls.

    This September 23 th was the twenty fourth anniversary of the disengagement of Lord Wrick’s daughter-in-law, and this was always a very somber period for the family.

    Hopefully, the twins were here to enliven the old mansion, for as long as their parents, Lord Wrick’s grand-children, would be traveling. And of course, there had been the unexpected return of the books, which had been comforting too.

    Nonetheless, Hilarion Wrick was sad, and Bill the painter was uneasy as to how he could not quite put right the portrait of the old dragon…


    “What are you doing?” said the little girl.

    Getting no answer she asked it again.

    “What are you doing?”

    She approached the strange being that was so engrossed in its activity, or maybe it couldn’t hear her, she thought dreamily. She put her hand through the big (what color was that) beast.

    She thought about that a little and tried to seize one of those big berries.

    That worked, she could at least grasp one of those, not two, her hands were too small, but one was as big as that ball her father was so fond of playing with… she couldn’t remember what he called it. Well it mattered not, she could grasp one of them :D

    It was a bit warmer than she would have thought. A bit mushy, and very soft. She had a very pleasant sensation caressing it, it was electric and watery and she laughed.

    The beast stopped what it was doing. Did it hear her laugh? It began eating the berries again.

    She stroked the berry and felt the funny laugh emerge from her chest. When it burst out the beast stopped again.

    “Oh you can hear me laugh!” She said, unaware of her hand gently rubbing the surface of the berry.

    “Grumpf!” did the beast.

    Its eyes were beginning to change, from yellow to a kind of blue with some tiny stars in them. The girl giggled and was suddenly face to face with a little boy.

    “What are you doing here” said the boy.

    “These are my berries, you can’t eat them.”

    She was a bit startled by his first words and she already had forgotten the weird beast.

    “I just wanted to play, they are so soft and they make me laugh.”

    She couldn’t help another giggle.

    The boy still seemed wary of her and began to move.


    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.
    — 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.
    — You…
    — Ooooh, bugger off…


    William Percival Jobsworth, or “Bill” for short, was finding the old creaking manor as freaky as their owners.

    The Wrick family was known around for being shrouded in mystery, and few people had actually been invited inside the manor, after its acquisition by Lord Wrick.

    The manor itself was full of ghost stories, as every mansion worth its salt in that part of the country. But this one has been a wreck on which he would not have invested two pence of his money, after it had been abandoned for many decades after the sudden death of the previous owner, the Crazy Baron.

    But Lord Wrick was an eccentric, and had bought the manor and restored it to its previous grandeur.

    It had been thrice now that Bill had come to the manor to paint the family portraits. The first time he had also delivered that strange parcel, given to him by that strange lady. Looking straight into his eyes, she had also told him something that had lingered in his mind quite vividly.

    « Suffering is not good for the soul, unless it teaches you to stop suffering. »

    He couldn’t see exactly why it applied to him, but the lady had seemed so authoritative about that, that he had agreed and felt like thanking her.

    The parcel had come a bit unexpected to the Lord, though he was quite artful in hiding his emotions, Bill could say. He had questioned him about the lady, but Bill had not dared to share with him the thing about the suffering. Actually the Lord looked in pretty good shape considering the age he was likely to be. He pretended to be a bit incapacitated, but Bill would have bet that if he had fallen from a window, he would have landed on his feet as a cat.

    Speaking of which, their old cat with its worn-out blackish fur was a bit freaky too. Bill had felt at times he could hear it answer the Lord’s gibberish.

    But all in all, that was easy money, and he thanked the opportunity to be able to do these paintings while the winter was coming.

    Now was something else. He almost startled when he was opened the big entrance door, to be revealed an improbable shape, two or three heads taller than him. It took him a short while to recognize the smile of the children’s nurse, topped by a funny hat that made him laugh heartily, after the initial shock was dissipated.

    Hahaha, sorry, that was unexpected… he managed to say to Jacqueline, who was not unaccustomed to these odd kinds of reactions.

    Not to worry she said with a slight French accent. Monsieur and Madame Wrick have come back from their trip to Mogadishu, and you will be able to have their portraits done. They will stay here for a few weeks…

    Linda and Peregrine Wrick were Cuthbert and India Louise proud (and a bit insouciant) parents, Lord Wrick had explained without much more details. Peregrine was the son of Lord Wrick’s only son, Sean Doran Wrick, but Bill had felt some restrain to ask about Sean Doran, as the Lord had seemed a bit umbrageous only speaking his name.

    Oh… said Bill who did not expect them to come back so quickly.

    Appendix: The Wrick family tree


    Sanso was beginning to feel an urge to move. Waiting under the door in the ceiling in the cave tunnel, just watching India Louise and Illi fade in and out of view, and waiting for Dory and the parrot to return was getting boring. He was a wanderer by nature, and so he wandered off along the tunnel. He didn’t stop to wonder which tunnel to choose when he came to a junction, he just went with whatever one he happened to choose. He didn’t really mind where he ended up, that was the thing. This philosophy had always seemed to work well for him, because he ALWAYS ended up somewhere interesting; somewhere where he couldn’t imagine not being, once he was there, as if it was always the ‘right’ place to be, and at the ‘right’ time to be there.

    The cave tunnel was becoming wider and less cramped. Sanso straightened his back and quickened his pace, and started to sing.

    Hello Dolly, oh helloooo Dolly, do de dooo de do do dodedodedooooo……. chuckling to himself and wondering where on earth did THAT come from….. Oh helloooooo Dolly……

    and walked right into a coatstand, of all things, getting splodged in the face with a rather smelly wet blue cape. The coatstand teetered and Sanso grabbed it to stop it falling over. There was a note pinned onto it:

    Watch my shifting, Tell the time; Shape me wet, and Lose me dry; Colour me pink and grey and gold, and Find the secrets that I hold, What am I?

    Sanso didn’t hesitate for a single moment. SAND!

    Sanso grinned with delight at guessing the riddle so quickly, and then laughed out loud. How clever am I, he said, I guessed the answer to my own riddle! Still chortling, Sanso gave the wet cape a fond pat and set off again.

    The tunnel was widening and eventually broadened into a cavern. Bright sparkling shafts of sunlight were beaming down from several holes in the cavern roof.

    Sanso blinked a few times and squinted until his eyes became accustomed to the light. The cavern was huge, and everywhere he looked were paintings and markings on the walls, even the places impossible to reach. Some were creatures, some were symbols, in black and red and yellow and orange.

    Sanso was entranced. He sank down to a sitting position, and then stretched out flat on his back, gazing at the markings on the walls. He stretched his arms out, filling his palms with sand and then letting it go, and trailing his fingers through the sand…sand…..

    Sand! I may have got the riddle, thought Sanso, but I didn’t get the POINT of the riddle being there in the first place!

    HHMM, I’m not so clever after all……


    Fiona :) ed as she read the latest updates on Quintin’s website.

    *** *** *** *** ***

    She felt the strong presence of her evil twin as she found herself compelled to play with some of the new features. :face-devil-grin:

    *** ***

    She hoped this would not make Quintin feel :( as really it had nothing to do with the story.

    Or did it :-/

    *** ***

    Of course he can always delete it if he wants, she thought happily :D or make some rules, to stop this sort of thing happening in the future. ;)

    *** ***



    Grandad! Grandad!, called India Louise to Lord Wrick, running in the old manor, her footstep making creaking and loud noises down the windy staircase.

    Hilarion Wrick was seated in his favourite armchair, dozing after the hefty meal prepared by Nanny Gibbon, the cat Manfred on his lap.

    Raising an eyelid, his cheerful wrinkled face smiled at the little girl.

    — And how can I be of assistance, dear little one?

    — Grandad, this book is full of wonders, but at times it’s like some characters have their own life, and I don’t always understand what they do… In fact, she added thoughtfully, I don’t understand them most of the time…
    — Hahaha, laughed the old Lord, but they have certainly their own lives, as they are living in your imagination. What can I explain to you?
    — Well, let me think.

    India Louise took a moment, and asked again

    — For instance, this woman who just run in the cave, she seems to meet many people here, but I am confused. Is she dreaming, or are they real?
    — Well, as a matter of fact, let me express to you that they are all real, even if you think that she dreams them. However, I am understanding of what you are saying, and I shall acknowledge your perspicacity. These characters are not all from the same areas of consciousness.

    Here, we will explain for the reader that these books were not unknown to Lord Wrick who had spent lots of time during his youth playing with them. How they were lost and found again is the subject of another story, and we will not divert the reader’s patient attention for much longer on this issue.

    — Areas of consciousness?

    — Yes, you see, let me explain. That individual that you call Dory, she is in a physical world. But she is aware, to an extent, of other realities that overlap her own reality. Just as her story overlaps your own reality my dear one.

    — And Illi? Who is she?
    — This one is also Dory, but another personality of her, in another time. She has just passed away, quite recently. She is beginning to slowly become aware of that, and she connects with other of her personalities, and at times blends with them, like the other Illi, the cat-like creature, who is still in the physical reality of Malvina’s world.
    — Mmmm, this is quite intricate…
    — Hahahaha, yes, it seems so, but it will not be so puzzling when you don’t try to attach your current limited perception to this story. This story is you my dear. You are the story.
    — Well, and Sanso, and Georges then, are they dead or what? How come Dory can see them?
    — These ones are special, they have mastered the crossing of the Worlds, and can move through them. They move differently though. Sanso comes from a lineage of an ancient tribe of Zion, and had learn from them how to activate some portals, but only through the physical world of Dory, in their own time. He is not yet aware that he can also move through time as well, or even through other Worlds —worlds that he has no conception of yet.

    Georges is more consummate in that art. Their meeting is not coincidental. You will see that.

    — Thank you Grandad, it’s becoming a bit less confusing.
    — Just flow with the story my little one, don’t hold on too much, or you will find it too difficult, and you will stop to find fun in it.


    After Arona said she was hungry, the energy of Malvina disappeared, and once again Arona found herself alone in the cave.

    She found this quite irritating. They are really bit rude around here, she muttered.

    Arona sat down on the floor of the cave and considered her options. She was tired of the cave and could barely remember what had drawn her here in the first place.

    It had been the music of course. She had wanted to find the source of the music. However for the most part she decided her experience had been rather disappointing.

    (Arona was never at her best when hungry and this was causing her to quickly forget some of the wonderful experiences with the music and the paintings, and take a rather negative view of events.)

    All I have done is wander around dark passageways really.

    And now, to top it all off, apparently things are shifting. In the name of heaven what does that mean?

    AND if one more person tells me to use my magic I will probably scream or something!

    Perish the thought, came a grumpy voice from a particularly dark corner. Your moaning is quite sufficiently bad enough.

    And Mandrake the cat emerged from the shadows and made himself comfortable on Arona’s lap. This is great, much more comfortable than the ground he purred.

    Oh cute, said Arona, a talking cat.

    Cute yourself, responded Mandrake, love your cape by the way.

    (Mandrake was prone to sarcasm, considering it a perfectly valid form of humour.)

    Arona stroked Mandrake’s soft black coat and tried her hardest to work out what to do. It was all feeling a bit bleak at the moment, the ever changing cave, the half light, the heat and humidity… and especially her hunger.

    Mandrake sighed in an impatiently eggsagerated sort of a way.

    Heavens to murgatroyd¹, how can I relax with your incessant thinking? Okay so here’s an easy one for you: what’s the most important thing about magic?

    All of a sudden Arona felt a flash of lightness and a sense of new energy moving within her.

    of course! She exclaimed delightedly, hugging the less than enthusiastic Mandrake, you have to believe in it!

    [¹] Note from the editor: Mandrake being a very educate cat from noble ancestors, some of its speech may be difficult to grasp for the average reader, which was certainly not the case for the astute Arona.
    Anyway, here is some complement on that ‘Murgatroyd’ .


    Fiona wandered slowly along the road to the supermarket in the Village, deep in thought, pondering a recent dream. In her dream she had been talking to someone from the power company. He was very chatty. Eventually he asked her if she had any issues with her power service. In her dream she had started to focus on some electricity issues she was experiencing. Well as a matter of fact I do, she had replied. At which point the man from the power company had abruptly cut the call short.

    In her dream she felt a little put out, although resolved to let the power company know later.

    The message of the dream felt clear enough, it was her focusing on the difficulties which cut her connection. Yet this presented Fiona with some difficulty, because she dearly loved to analyse even when this did mean focusing on not so pleasant things, though she had been aware for some time how this mental work would deplete her energy.

    Actually there was almost a feeling of grieving in her. To let go of this part of her felt like losing something warm and comforting in it’s familiarity, like a well worn and loved article of clothing. It left her wondering a bit about her own identity.

    On the way back home, laden with bags of shopping, Fiona saw Jarrod.

    Jarrod was lying on a park bench conversing loudly to himself. Well, Fiona mentally corrected herself, to someone I can’t see anyway.

    They just don’t understand reality he was saying vehemently they just don’t get it.

    Fiona smiled to herself, noticing Jarrod getting a few concerned looks from the well dressed locals. With his bare feet, unkempt hair and long beard he would stand out even if he wasn’t shouting at the top of his voice. She decided to try and sneak past herself, he looked like maybe today he would not recognise her anyway.


    She turned back.

    Hey Jarrod

    Fiona, here’s the thing. Here’s the question okay. Should we swim up-stream or down? Fiona what do you think? Should we head for the Source or the Ocean? Up river or down? We’re on the edge of a new era Fiona. So what will it be, the shallows or the rapids?

    Before she needed to come up with an answer Jarrod’s attention was diverted by the shopping bags.

    FOOD! Great is that for me Fiona?


    Today, which was the day of the autumn equinox, had been a bright day over the Orkney Islands, quite unusual for this time of the year.

    Nanny Gibbon had been taking the twins for a walk into the nearby woods of the domain, were they could enjoy the wood dewberries that were ripe and delicious at this season. The twins loved picking them directly on the thorny bushes and eating them until their hands were full of the dark stains left by the sweet juice of the fruits.

    They knew that Nanny Gibbon would pick enough to make some delicious jam, perhaps to accompany some of her famous sweet pumpkin pies.

    When they came back to the Manor, they were exhausted by the afternoon spent in the lovely sunlight. After having washed their hands thoroughly, they didn’t really care for anything else but some sleep.

    But as they moved inside the corridors, Cuthbert noticed he had carelessly left opened his bedroom’s door, and a prick of fear for the precious books had him immediately rush to the room.

    And Cuthbert gasped in horror as he saw his book flown open on the floor, and the old grumpy cat Manfred, asleep on top of one of the blank pages.

    Manfred had the nasty habit of clawing everything, especially the huge soft armchair of Lord Wrick, but his antics were elegantly accepted by the old gaunt Lord.

    When he heard Cuthbert enter the room, the old fluffy cat raised an inquisitive eyebrow and moved very slowly and deliberately out of the book pages, only to reveal the immaculate pages, as whole as if the book had been brand new.

    Cuthbert was thrilled with joy. Manfred had not done anything to the precious book. He would have stroked the cat with gratitude, but the creature had moved out of the room very swiftly for its old age, in a haughty look of total disregard for the little boy.

    At least the book was intact. But what if… Cuthbert wondered… He started to look at the page, and new images started to form before his eyes…


    Jacqueline Bleomelen was a strict yet very affectionate nanny. Her Breton name being barely pronounceable by the English speaking kids she had at her charge, she was most of the time simply called Nanny.

    Once, one of the rude kids from a previous home where she had been serving an atrociously callous French Count, had called her an Old Gibbon, referring to her wrinkled face. But she had a very light-hearted nature, and wouldn’t show any hint of taking offense.

    Better, she liked the association with the playful and ingenious apes, and kept the moniker as it was more easily pronounced by the English kids she had in charge, and made them laugh that they could be so irreverent without facing punishment.

    For special occasions, Jacqueline was wearing a funny costume that made the children often wonder why she had put some funny hat with little moth-feelers loose on her chin, but that, she had explained was a traditional dress from her homeland of Brittany.

    Tonight, Jacqueline, or Nanny Gibbon, was having a funny dream, but perhaps that have been because she had been very excited by that excerpt she had read before going to sleep. As she was very pious, every night before going to bed, she would read a random quote of the Bible.

    Last night it had been the Old Testament, from the Book of Joshua. It was about the conquest of the Promise Land, and talked about a king from Hazor named Jabin…

    And in her dream, Jabin was a strange looking man, lost in the middle of ruins, who wanted to contact a woman about discoveries he had made in the Promise Land. He had found an entrance to a cave that had befuddled him. He hadn’t ventured too far into the cave, but anytime he had, he had found it impossibly deep and wide. So he wanted to share that discovery with that woman, but she was flying around in a parrot-coloured ballet tutu, on top of a three-humped flying camel…

    Even the rigorous Jacqueline couldn’t repress a laugh at the unlikely images that her tired mind had produced.


    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.


    That morning Fiona’s boyfriend asked her to marry him. He even had a date in mind. Over the weekend she had told him how she was feeling. She thought she had spoken plainly enough and he had gone away. She had a bad weekend but yesterday felt she was starting to be more herself again. So it came as a surprise, and she had to explain again.

    And then she went to bed, and pulled the covers over her head, and let the sound of the rain falling outside soothe her.

    She had a funny dream. She was in a courtroom seated on a little wooden chair, wearing a beautiful dress made of exquisite lace. In her arms she held a baby. She had dreamed of the baby before, but in the previous dream she had felt only repulsion for the funny little thing with its exhausted tiny body, and extra long hair. This time she was holding it protectively.

    On one side of the courtroom were a group of people looking very serious and professional. She felt them to be mainly doctors and lawyers and they wore dark suits. On the other there were people chanting and waving placards. Some were meditating, others were dancing and they looked like crazy hippy people.

    The two groups of people were fighting over something, shouting backwards and forwards, and it seemed to be something to do with her. She was getting more and more tense as she sat on the little chair with her head down and listened to the two sides, till it seemed she might explode.

    Suddenly she looked up and she saw a funny Chinese gentleman, smiling and winking at her. He held out his hand to her and, holding the baby gently with one arm, she took it gratefully and they escaped from the bedlam.

    When Fiona eventually decided she could emerge from beneath the covers the rain had stopped.

    Bugger this! she said

    She put on music loudly and danced around the house doing the housework…..


    Malvina looked for a moment at the movements of the strings of her enchanted harp before beginning to play herself. The strings were moved very beautifully, and reproduced her own graceful movements, when she played that lovely tune from her homeland .

    The sounds were carried down through the many tunnels, and resounded in all the cave, in soothing drops of music. When she observed the creatures through her mind connection with her dragon companion Leörmn, she knew they were loving the sound of it.

    And all very naturally, she began to wrap her alabaster hands around the instrument, and as if she was consoling it, inclined her head towards it, and started to move her fingers along the strings, beginning to enhance the previous melody, blending her new sounds into it, until the strings felt so at ease that they let themselves vibrate with the sound, without need to stir more than what Malvina’s fingers was gently asking.

    The sound enveloped the cave, and the delightful music even drew some glukenitches closer, even though she was in the plain light falling from the hole at the top of the cave hall, down to the wooden platform where she was seated.

    In the silgreen tree which was blooming sparkling flowers of emerald and silver once every moon, that she had planted here when she had first come to the cave, she saw a couple of flying sparflies settle down. These were usually very discreet birds, and their song was one of the treasures of the Worlds. And their accompanying her music was for Malvina a joy beyond compare.


    Dory felt like a wet blanket. She’d overdosed on colours in the shawl and cape shop, and had to lie down in the back room. As she waited for the room to stop spinning, sprawled on a rather smelly old sofa that seemed more like a glukenitch bed than a sofa, she listened to various snatches of conversations through the thin walls.

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