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  • in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7443

    “A treasure hunt? Are you serious?” Truella was appalled. “Yes,” she said, holding up a hand to silence Eris, “I realise I usually like treasure hunts. But this is ridiculous. And this hotel is just ghastly.”

    “Look!” interrupted Frella. “What’s Jeezel doing climbing up that lampost?  What an absolute tart she is, everyone can see her knickers.”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7440

    “Not another one!” exclaimed Truella. “Another time and money wasting conference in another bloody castle!”

    Eris sighed. “It’s a party, a birthday party, not a conference. You know, one of those fun things that people do for entertainment.”

    “If Malove planned it there is bound to be a catch. It’s another money making pushy sales thing, I bet.”

    “Actually,” Frella ventured timidly, “You’re right, it’s not just a birthday party.”

    “How would you know?” Jez was blunt.

    Frella stammered nervously, “Well I, er, I overheard a snatch of conversation, you see…”

    Jeezel gave her a piercing look and said “And? What did you overhear?”

    “Something about the pink spider. We have to find it for some reason, before the others do. Well of course Malove was going to tell us,” Frella rolled her eyes at Truella, “But not until we got there, at the last minute. And no, I don’t know why. And I don’t know what the pink spider is, either. But maybe we can find out before we get there.”

    “What’s the castle and where is it?” asked Truella.

    “It’s the Flossy Liar Chateau,” replied Eris, “In France somewhere.  Maybe you can find out some of the history, Tru. Frella, do some research on the botanical garden. And Jez, the costumes…”

    “Getting a bit bossy, aint she,” Jez said to nobody in particular, and to Eris she asked sweetly, “And you, dear? What will you be researching?”

    “Why, the legends of witchcraft, obviously. There are bound to be some legends and witchcraft.”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7436

    shadows of antiquity


    “In the shadow of monumental discovery, the heart races with the rhythm of ancient drums; yet often, silence follows the fanfare, leaving the soul to dance alone in the quiet aftermath.”

    ~Echoes of Antiquity, Amish P. Lwellmon.

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7435

    “Business!” Truella spat the word out. “Always business, always about money.”

    “It’s the way of the world, Tru,” Eris said in a futile attempt to mollify Truella. “Try and fit in a bit.”

    “Fit in? Fit in? Fit in to what? Squeeze into one of Jeezel’s cocktail dresses? A lung crushing basque? Lie down flat like a dollar bill and get squashed into a pile of dirty paper notes like the rest of them? I don’t want to fit in.”

    “But it’s the only way, you know it is,” Eris entreated. “Please try and see some sense.”

    “Sense? Sense?  What sense? Common sense? A sense of adventure? A sense of wonder? A sense of the sensational? A sense of sensitivity? A sense of senselessness?”

    Eris sighed deeply. “You’re not making sense. And what’s more, you haven’t made any scents for ages either.  How do you expect to manage on your own without the coven?”

    Eris,”  Truella said with an equally profound sigh,”You misunderstand me. I don’t wish to leave the coven, I wish to change it. It’s gone wrong, horribly wrong. We’re supposed to change the world for the better, not kowtow to this dreadful modern scourge. We need to return to our roots, our true calling.  What has happened to us all? Meek grovelling subservient money grubbing towers of the line, that’s what! It’s a disgrace!”

    “How are you going to pay your electricity bill then, without any of that ghastly currency?”

    “I am a WITCH! I should be able to magic up the light! We all should! Not pissing around making smelly unguents to pander to the faux enlightened!  Enlightened! hah! What a word for the huddled masses who can’t even summon up enough magic to illuminate a light bulb.  Why aren’t we working on free electricity? huh? Answer me that!”

    “Ok then, I’ll report back to Malove that you’re working on a free electricty spell, shall I?”  Eris was becoming exasperated.

    “You do that!” Truella stormed angrily, annoyed at having her superior motives ridiculed.  “But I suggest you have a long hard think about what I’ve said. And you can tell the others that. And not only that,” she added,  “Tell them to start work on a magic money spell.  It’s utterly beyond me how a coven of witches, constantly strapped for cash, hasn’t considered the all too obvious solution of simply magicking up a pile of banknotes. Or even easier, digits on a screen. Digits on a screen, that’s all it is!”

    Eris was forced to admit that this was a very good point.

    “Think, Eris,” Truella gave her friends arm a gentle squeeze, relieved that she was starting to see some sense. “If we perfect the money magic spell, and share it widely ~ for free, of course, no need to charge anyone for it after all! ~ the hoarders can bury themselves under mountains of money without depriving anyone else of any essentials.  It’s a game changer, Eris. It would be Change, with a capital C. Real Change.”

    Eris looked doubtful. “But…”

    “And ask yourself why you hesitate.” And with that Truella flounced off, back to her dig, leaving a perplexed Eris in a fog of confusion.

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7433

    “Good morning.” Truella started nervously. “Good morning!” she repeated in a more confident tone, remembering her intention, as she scanned all the attentive faces in the audience.

    “You are gathered here, my friends, colleagues and competetive others,  to hear me talk about new sales channels, market studies, double digit growth, and all the rest of it.  But I am not going to talk about that. I am a witch, not a business woman.  I am an amateur archaeologist, not a business woman.  And I am not a competetive witch.” she added, glaring pointedly at some of the witches in the audience. “And I know nothing about sales and marketing.”

    “I am an honest witch! A straightforward well meaning witch with a desire to help others, and that has little to do with marketing and digits, double or otherwise.  My words of widsom to you all this day is this: this coven has taken a destructive turn, and it’s time to return to our roots. The timeless duty of the naturally helpful community member with special skills. Not the self serving profit and sales motivated capitalist modern witchery that we see here, with these modern money and time wasting conferences.”

    Frella glanced worriedly at Malove, whose face was puce with rage.  Truella had avoided looking in the direction of Malove but Frella’s movement caught her eye, and she faltered for a moment before continuing.

    “I’m here to tell you, it’s time to take direct action and strike until the leaders of this shambolic institution return to proper and honourable witchy ways.”

    A few gasps were heard in the audience, breaking the uncomfortable silence. Then Eris started to clap, quietly and slowly at first but then louder. Others started joining in.  Eris and Jez stood up, raising their hands above their heads to clap loudly.  Frella remained seated with the baby on her lap, although she held the baby’s hands and patted them together in a show of solidarity.  With that, the baby turned into a seal and soon slithered off Frella’s lap and humped off to find the ornamental lake.

    “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have spells to do for the needy ~ for free, as a good witch should.” And with that Truella flounced out of the conference room.

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7428

    An unexpected result (or was it an intentional one?) of the octobus ride was a profound appreciation for the arrival at the destination.  Not one of the witches had been truly looking forward to the event, but when they entered the building they were deeply grateful for the smooth hard floors and walls and sharp minimalism, if that is what the sparse clean decor was called.

    “This place is sorely in need of some steampunk hats,” remarked Truella.  “And some Victorian clothes.”

    “Beats the hell out of that gross octobus, though,” Jezeel said, who was swanning grandly around the large entrance foyer, her boots making a neat thud rather than a revolting sucking sound.

    “I rather like it,” said Frella, “Steampunk hats wouldn’t fit in here at all. Are you sure that party is being held here?”  For a moment, she felt a ray of hope.  She was feeling that it might be possible to remain unnoticed and unbothered in the vast clean space if she sat somewhere looking serenely vacant and unapproachable.

    Spotting the shiny black grand piano in the corner, Jezeel glided majestically over to it and hopped onto the back of it, striking a glamourous pose.  Naturally everyone took flattering photos of her as was expected.

    Eris had rushed off to find a lavatory, and eventually emerged holding a strange awkward bundle.

    “What on earth is that and where did you find it?” Frella noticed the look of alarm on Eris’s face.  Truella was still taking photos of Jez from various angles, much to Jezreel’s delight.

    “What does it bloody look like!” Eris said in an exasperated tone, “It’s a baby, someone left it in the loo!  Go and ask at the desk, find out who lost a baby. I think it’s nappy needs changing.”

    Frella went off to ask, returning shortly with surprising news.  “There is nobody checked in here with a baby, Eris. Nobody knows whose it is.  Here, give it to me, the poor thing.”

    Eris handed over the smelly bundle gratefully.

    I can stay in my room with this baby, Frella thought, It will be the perfect excuse not to go to the party.

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7427

    It was impossible to sleep in the octobus, despite that Truella always found it easy to drop off while a passenger on various modes of transport. Unlike the usual gentle rocking of a bus or train, the tentacular motion resembled a slow roller coaster, and the interior walls were slippery. Tactile my ass, she muttered, this is revolting.   Truella felt her stomach heave when a steward brought a round tray covered with a glass dome, full of unspeakable fishy things to nibble.  At this hour of the morning!

    Jezeel wasn’t enjoying it either, her boots had an unfortunate attraction to the slimy interior and kept sticking. It took a great effort to pull her foot up to change position and made a disgusting squelchy noise.

    “Sit still, will you? You’re making me sick with those slurpy noises!” Truella glared at Jezreel.  “Take the bloody boots off why don’t you!”

    “I’m not putting my stockinged feet on that, what if it pulls them down?”

    “When’s the last time you had your stockings pulled down, sweetie?” Eris said with a sly grin.  Frella tittered in the background, momentarily distracted from her angst about the party looming ahead.

    Malove came rocking up the aisle, uncharacteristically beaming with pleasure.  “I knew you’d all enjoy it!” she said, apparently believing that they were.  “Are we all feeling tactile and tender? Soaking up the harmonious healing?  Feeling the fullness of environmental resonance? Good!” she said, oblivious to the pained expressions of the four witches.  “You’ll be delighted to know that I’ve asked the driver to take the long way round, via Dublin.  We have plenty of time.  No!” she said, holding up a hand with a smug smile, “No need to thank me. You all deserve it.” And with that she slithered off into the slippery depths of the strange vehicle.

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7423

    ““If there’s a chance it does the job,” Truella shrugged, “On a scale of one to ten, how much do you like steampunk hats?”  Smiling at Jezeel’s reaction she said, “Exactly. Who doesn’t?”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7421

    “…..a steampunk soirée amongst the witches of Adare Manor!  Picture it, my dear—cogs and corsets, gears and garters!

    First, we must set the scene. The manor, that grand old dame Malove will be bedecked with brass and copper, festooned with flickering gaslights that cast a warm, sepia-toned glow upon all the revelry. The air will be thick with the scent of oil and ambition (mentioning no names), and the sound of pistons and valves will accompany the rustle of taffeta skirts.

    Now, our witches, those cunning creatures, will be the belles of the ball, their attire a fusion of Victorian elegance and industrial ingenuity. Picture bustled gowns with mechanical embellishments, parasols that double as communication devices, and monocles that can see into the aether!

    The pièce de résistance? A grand invention, unveiled at the stroke of midnight—an automaton oracle that will reveal secrets and predict the future with uncanny accuracy, all while puffing steam and sparking with electric life.

    And let’s not forget the refreshments! Scones that emit plumes of colored smoke when bitten, and a punch that changes flavor as it circulates through a series of alchemical tubes.

     A spectacle of speculative fiction, a carnival of chronology, a meeting of minds both mystical and mechanical!

     A most enticing invitation—we want all the witches of Adare Manor to be abuzz with anticipation. The steampunk party of the century awaits!”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7418

    “I’m so glad you’re here!” Jezeel rushed over as they entered The Escarabajo Pelotero cafe they had arranged to meet in.  Leading them to a corner table, she added “It’s escalating quickly, we don’t have time for any difficult spells, we’re going to have to resort to….”

    “Resort to what?” asked Frella with a worried frown.

    “Well…. er,  resort to faster more efficient means than magic spells, I guess. Physically restraining her until we can sort something out.  If we can catch her!”

    “Whatever do you mean, catch her? Look Jez, just calm down and tell us what’s happened.  And your wig’s slipped a bit, poppet, that’s it, bit more to the right, there you go.”

    Eris has gone off in a red racing car.”

    “What, with the elephant head? Oh, was it one without a top? I was wondering how she’d have got that head inside the car!”

    “I think you’re missing the point, Truella,” Frella said. “As usual.”

    Jezeel explained how Eris had overheard a group of distinguished looking executive type men chatting in a restaurant about the race track they’d all been on that afternoon, and decided she wanted to do it, and there was no talking her out of it.   With a sense of foreboding Jezeel had followed her there and witnessed Eris drive the red racing car like a maniac, overtaking every other driver and racing past the finishing line and beyond, into the car park outside and off up the motorway in the direction of Segovia.

    “Let’s order breakfast,” suggested Frella. “We don’t even know where she’s going.”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7417

    “Oh no, we’re too late!  Look at these photos Jezeel just sent!”

    “Well at least Jez is there with her.  Why didn’t you wake me up sooner?”

    Truella rolled her eyes. “Come ON! Imagine the mess Eris is going to make at breakfast with that trunk!”

    Eris one


    Eric 2


    eris 3


    “It’s the telephantom!  You know what this mean, don’t you.”  Truella sounded ominous. Frella shook her head.  “It’s Punic magic, and it’s almost impossible to reverse.  You need a piece of Hannibal’s tunic for the spell, and you can imagine the difficulties.”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7416

    “Surprise!” Truella called, rapping on the caravan door. “Surprise breakfast outting!”

    “What? It’s 7 o clock in the morning and it isn’t even light out,” Frella answered groggily, “And I don’t want breakfast yet.”

    “You will by the time we get to Madrid!”

    Frella mananged to rouse herself. “Why? What’s happened?”

    “It’s Eris. She’s had an altercation with an elephant in a bar. We’ll have to teleport, there’s no time for the fast train. Not if we’re to get there before something…..happens…”

    “Happens like what? Stop being so mysterious!”

    “Put it this way, Frel. Jez is on her way too. It’s all hands on deck so I suggest you get a move on.  I’ll be waiting.”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7413

    It wasn’t until late the following afternoon that Truella, with a pang of guilt, remembered Roger. Frella grinned sheepishly and said that she had forgotten him too.

    “But you know what? Wait, let me show you the tile I bought in Brazil.” Frella trotted off to find her suitcase.

    “Look what it says on the bit of paper that came with it:

    Function: The Freevole tile embodies the essence of empowerment and autonomy. It serves as a reminder and a guide for those standing at life’s many crossroads, facing decisions that may seem overwhelming. This tile encourages the holder to recognize their inner strength and the ability to choose their path confidently, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges.
    At the center of the tile, there is a small vole standing at a crossroads where waters intersect, with dry earth visible behind it. The scene depicts sheets of water overlapping on both sides of the vole, creating a sense of inundation, yet there is an opening ahead, suggesting a path or choice to be made.

    We need to backtrack a bit with Roger. Look what it says here:

    What that vole hadn’t realized was that he had to backtrack a bit. There was no way ahead or to the sides, but the way out was behind him.

    See what I mean?”

    Truella squinted at Frella. “What?”

    Sighing, Frigella thrust the bit of paper at her friend. “Read the rest of it!”


    The Vole: The vole symbolizes the individual facing a decision point or crossroads in life. Its presence suggests vulnerability, but also resilience and adaptability.
    Crossing of Waters: The intersection of waters represents the convergence of different paths or possibilities. It symbolizes the complexities and challenges of decision-making, where multiple options overlap and intertwine.
    Dry Earth Behind: The dry earth behind the vole symbolizes stability, past experiences, or familiar ground. It represents the foundation upon which decisions are based and serves as a reminder of where one has come from.
    Overlap of Drowned Sheets of Water: The drowned sheets of water on both sides signify the potential consequences or risks associated with each choice. They represent the unknown and the possibility of being overwhelmed by circumstances.
    Opening Ahead: The opening ahead signifies opportunity, hope, and the possibility of forging a new path. It represents the future and the freedom to make choices that lead to growth and fulfilment.

    Families: This tile is aligned with the Vold family, known for their connection to transformation, challenge, and the breaking of old systems to make way for the new. The Vold energy within the Freevole tile emphasizes the importance of facing challenges head-on and using them as opportunities for growth and empowerment.
    Significance: The scene depicted on the Freevole tile, with the vole at a crossroads between inundation and dry earth, symbolizes the moments in life where we must make significant choices amidst emotional or situational floods. The waters represent challenges and emotions that may threaten to overwhelm, while the dry earth symbolizes the solid ground of our inner strength and determination. The path ahead, though uncertain, indicates that there is always a way forward, guided by our autonomy and personal power.
    As an advice: When encountering the Freevole tile, take it as a sign to pause and reflect on your current crossroads. It urges you to tap into your inner resilience and recognize that you have the power to navigate your life’s journey. The choices before you, while daunting, are opportunities to assert your independence and steer your life according to your true desires and values. Trust in your ability to make decisions that will lead you to your chosen path of fulfillment and growth. Remember, the floods of challenge bring with them the nourishment needed for new beginnings; it is within your power to find the opening and move forward with courage and confidence.
    The motif of the Freevole, standing determined and attentive amidst the forces of nature, serves as a potent symbol of the power within each individual to face life’s uncertainties and emerge stronger for having made their own choices.

    “Ok so in a nutshell,” Truella replied slowly, “Roger’s crossroads took him to Brazil and ours took us here, and that’s all that needs to be said about it. Right?”


    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7406

    During the renovations on Brightwater Mill Truella’s parents rented a cottage nearby. It was easier to supervise the builders if they were based in the area, and it would be a nice place for Truella to spend the summer. One of the builders had come over from Ireland and was camping out in the mill kitchen.  He didn’t mind when Truella got in the way while he was working, and indulged her wish to help him. He gave her his smallest trowel and a little bucket of plaster, not minding that he’d have to fix it later. He was paid by the hour after all.

    When the builder mentioned that his daughter Frigella was the same age, Truella’s mother had an idea.  Truella needed a little friend to play with, to keep her from distratcing the builders from their work.

    And so a few days later, Frigella arrived for the rest of the summer holidays. He father continued to camp out in the mill, and Frigella stayed with Truella.  But even with the new friend to play with, Truella still wanted to plaster the walls with her little trowel.  Frigella didn’t want to stay cooped up all day in the dusty mill with her father keeping an eye on her all day, and suggested that they go and dig a hole somewhere in the garden to find treasure.

    Truella carried the little trowel around with her everywhere she went that summer, and Frigella started to call her Trowel.  Truella retaliated by calling her friend Fridge Jelly, saying what a silly name it was.  It wasn’t until she burst into tears that Truella felt remorseful and kindly asked Frigella what she would like to be called, but it had to be something that didn’t remind Truella of fridges and jellys. Frigella admitted that she’s always hated the G in her name and would quite like to be called Frella instead.   Truella replied that she didn’t mind being called Trowel though, in fact she quite liked it.

    The girls spent many school summer holidays together over the years, but it wasn’t until Truella was older and staying in one of the apartments with a boyfriend that she found the trunk in the attic.  She put it in the boot of the car without opening it. She only had the weekend with the new guy and there were other activities on the agenda, after all.  Work and other events occupied her when she returned home, and the trunk was put in a closet and forgotten.

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7401

    It may surprise you, dear reader, to hear the story of Truella and Frella’s childhood at a Derbyshire mill in the early 1800s.  But! I hear you say, how can this be? Read on, dear reader, read on, and all will be revealed.

    Tilly, daughter of Everard Mucklewaite, miller of Brightwater Mill, was the youngest of 17 children.  Her older siblings had already married and left home when she was growing up, and her parents were elderly.  She was somewhat spoiled and allowed a free rein, which was unusual for the times, as her parents had long since satisfied the requirements for healthy sons to take over the mill, and well married daughters. She was a lively inquisitive child with a great love of the outdoors and spent her childhood days wandering around the woods and the fields and playing on the banks of the river.   She had a great many imaginary friends and could hear the trees whisper to her, in particular the old weeping willow by the mill pond which she would sit under for hours, deep in conversation with the tree.

    Tilly didn’t have any friends of her own age, but as she had never known human child friends, she didn’t feel the loss of it.  Her older sisters used to talk among themselves though, saying she needed to play with other children or she’d never grow up  and get out of her peculiar ways.  Between themselves (for the parents were unconcerned) they sent a letter to an aunt who’d married an Irishman and moved with him to Limerick, asked them to send over a small girl child if they had one spare. As everyone knew, there were always spare girls that parents were happy to get rid of, if at all possible, and by return post came the letter announcing the soon arrival of Flora, who was a similar age to Tilly.

    It was a long strange journey for little Flora, and she arrived at her new home shy and bewildered.  The kitchen maid, Lucy, did her best to make her feel comfortable. Tilly ignored her at first, and Everard and his wife Constance were as usual preoccupied with their own age related ailments and increasing senility.

    One bright spring day, Lucy noticed Flora gazing wistfully towards the millpond, where Tilly was sitting on the grass underneath the willow tree.

    “Go on, child, go and sit with Tilly, she don’t bite, just go and sit awhile by her,” Lucy said, giving Flora a gentle push.  “Here, take this,” she added, handing her two pieces of plum cake wrapped in a blue cloth.

    Flora did as she was bid, and slowly approached the shade of the old willow.  As soon as she reached the dangling branches, the tree whispered a welcome to her.  She smiled, and Tilly smiled too, pleased and surprised that the willow has spoken to the shy new girl.

    “Can you hear willow too?” Tilly asked, looking greatly pleased. She patted the grass beside her and invited Flora to sit.   Gratefully, and with a welcome sigh, Flora joined her.

    Tilly and Flora became inseperable friends over the next months and years, and it was a joy for Tilly to introduce Flora to all the other trees and creatures in their surroundings. They were like two peas in a pod.

    Over the years, the willow tree shared it’s secrets with them both.

    One summer day, at the suggestion of the willow tree, Tilly and Flora secretly dug a hole, hidden from prying eyes by the long curtain of hanging branches.  They found, among other objects which they kept carefully in an old trunk in the attic, an old book, a grimoire, although they didn’t know it was called a grimoire at the time.  In fact, they were unable to read it, as girls were seldom taught to read in those days.  They secreted the old tome in the trunk in the attic with the other things they’d found.

    Eventually the day came when Tilly and Flora were found husbands and had to leave the mill for their new lives. The trunk with its mysterious contents remained in the dusty attic,  and was not seen again until almost 200 years later, when Truella’s parents bought the old mill to renovate it into holiday apartments.  Truella took the trunk for safekeeping.

    When she eventually opened it to explore what it contained, it all came flooding back to her, her past life as Tilly the millers daughter, and her friend Flora ~ Flora she knew was Frigella. No wonder Frella had seemed so familiar!

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7399

    I’ll sneak out after Truella’s gone to bed.


    “I heard that, Frella,” Truella smiled affectionatly at her old friend, “If you really want to go out for a walk now, you’ll just have to magic me up some more get up and go.”

    “I forgot to buffer you out that time, Trowel,” Frigella laughed. It had been many years since Truella and Frigella had called each other by their childhood nicknames.    It wasn’t generally known that they’d grown up together. “I’ve got just the right potion for you!”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7396

    Was it safe to just leave Frigella and go to bed? Truella was exhausted. But Frigella was losing her mind. How could anyone possibly mistake a nice syrah for a zinfrandal? And why did she keep calling her Sanso?

    “No, not now!” Truella said, starting to get exasperated.  “It’s time for bed now. I meant go and get some fresh air tomorrow.”   She couldn’t go to bed and leave Frigella wandering around in the dark, not after the Hippocampus fiasco.  “Time for bed,” she said firmly, standing up. “You must be tired after all that driving. Here, let me show you to the caravan where you’ll be sleeping.”

    Obediently Frigella stood up, downing the remains of her wine.  I’ll sneak out after Truella’s gone to bed.

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7389

    “Well, it’s a long story, are you sure you want to hear it?”

    “Tell me everything, right from the beginning. You’re the one who keeps saying we have plenty of time, Truella. I shall quite enjoy just sitting here with a bottle of wine listening to the story,” Frigella said, feeling all the recent stress pleasantly slipping away.

    “Alright then, you asked for it!” Truella said, topping up their glasses.  The evening was warm enough to sit outside on the porch, which faced the rising moon. A tawny owl in a nearby tree called to another a short distance away.  “It’s kind of hard to say when it all started, though. I suppose it all started when I joined that Arkan coven years ago and the focus wasn’t on spells so much as on time travel.”

    “We used to travel to times and places in the past,” Truella continued, “Looking back now, I wonder how much of it we made up, you know?” Frigella nodded. “Preconceptions, assumptions based on what we thought we knew.  It was fun though, and I’m pretty sure some of it was valid. Anyway, valid or not, one thing leads to another and it was fun.

    “One of the trips was to this area but many centuries ago in the distant past.  The place seemed to be a sort of ancient motorway rest stop affair, somewhere for travellers to stay overnight on a route to somewhere.  There was nothing to be found out about it in any books or anything though, so no way to verify it like we could with some of our other trips.  I didn’t think much more about it really, we did so many other trips.  For some reason we all got a bit obsessed with pyramids, as you do!”

    They both laughed. “Yeah, always pyramids or special magical stones,” agreed Frigella.

    “Yeah that and the light warriors!” Truella snorted.

    “So then I found a couple of pyramids not far away, well of course they weren’t actually pyramids but they did look like they were.  We did lots of trips there and made up all sorts of baloney between us about them, and I kept going back to look around there.  We used to say that archaeologists were hiding the truth about all the pyramids and past civilizations, quite honestly it’s a bit embarrassing now to remember that but anyway, I met an actual archaeologist by chance and asked her about that place.  And the actual history of it was way more interesting than all that stuff we’d made up or imagined.

    The ruins I’d found there were Roman, but it went further back than that. It was a bronze age hill fort, and later Phoenician and Punic, before it was Roman.  I asked the archaeologist about Roman sites and how would I be able to tell and she showed me a broken Roman roof tile, and said one would always find these on a Roman site.

    I found loads over the years while out walking, but then I found one in the old stone kitchen wall.  Here, let me fetch another bottle.” Truella got up and went inside, returning with the wine and a dish of peanuts.

    “So that’s when I decided to dig a hole in the garden and just keep digging until I found something.  I don’t know why I never thought to do that years ago. I tell you what, I think everyone should just dig a hole in their garden, and just keep digging until they find something, I can honestly say that I’ve never had so much fun!”

    “But couldn’t you have just done a spell, instead of all that digging?” Frigella asked.

    “Oh my god, NO!  Hell no!  That wouldn’t be the same thing at all,” Truella was adamant. “In fact, this dig has made me wonder about all our spells to be honest,  are we going too fast and missing the finds along the way?  I’ve learned so much about so many things by taking it slowly.”

    “Yeah I kinda know what you mean, but carry on with the story. We should discuss that later, though.”

    “Well, I just keep finding broken pottery, loads of it. We thought it was all Roman but some of it is older, much older.  I’m happy about that because I read up on Romans and frankly wasn’t impressed.  Warmongering and greedy, treated the locals terribly. Ok they made everything look nice  with the murals and mosaics and what not, and their buildings lasted pretty well, but who actually built the stuff, not Romans was it, it was the slaves.  Still, I wasn’t complaining, finding Roman stuff in the garden was pretty cool.  But I kept wishing I knew more about the people who lived here before they came on the rampage taking everything back to Rome.  Hey, let me go and grab another bottle of wine.”

    Frigella was feeling pleasantly squiffy by now. The full moon was bright overhead, and she reckoned it was light enough to wander around the garden while Truella was in the kitchen.  As she walked down the garden, the tawny owl called and she looked up hoping to see him in the fig tree. She missed her step and fell over a bucket, and she was falling, falling, falling, like Alice down the rabbit hole.

    The fall was slow like a feather wafting gently down and she saw hundreds of intriguing fragments of objects and etchings and artefacts on the sides of the hole and she drifted slowly down.  At last she came to rest at the bottom, and found herself in an arched gallery of mirrors and tiles and doors. On every surface were incomplete drawings and shreds of writings, wondrous and fascinating.  She didn’t immediately notice the hippocampus smiling benignly down at her.   He startled her a little, but had such a pleasant face that she smiled back up at him.  “Where am I?” she asked.

    “You’d be surprised how many people ask me that.” he replied, with a soft whicker of mirth. “Not many realise that they’ve called on me to help them navigate.  Now tell me, where is it you want to go?”

    “Well,” Frigella replied slowly, “Now that you ask, I’m not entirely sure.  But I’m pretty sure Truella would like to see this place.”



    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7387

    The full moon was rising behind the mountains as Frigella turned off the road for the last lap of the journey down a dirt track.  Daunted at first by the thought of the long drive, the prospect of a weeks holiday had lifted her spirits. There was altogether too much going on of late for a simple country hedge witch, and that carnaval mayhem had made her grumpy and withdrawn, but the drive had restored her equilibrium.

    Truella rolled down the passenger window and laughed as the cool night air rushed in.  “Nearly there now, I can hardly believe I made it back in one piece.”

    “You and me both,” laughed Frigella.  “There’s nothing I fancy more now than a couple of glasses of your lovely red wine but we’d better make a start on the spell to bring Roger back right away. This moon is perfect tonight.”

    “I can’t see any reason why we can’t do both,” Truella grinned.  Frigella started to object, and then stopped herself. They had arrived and she was on holiday and she deserved to sit and enjoy a drink with her friend and her responsibilities and obligations would just have to wait, at least for an hour or two.

    “Why not indeed,” she said, “Why the hell not.  You can tell me about finding the hippocampus statue in the dig. Great timing I must say, and the smoked hippo bones as well, just when we need to use that spell.”

    “And a full moon as well. And it’s full all night long, we have plenty of time.”

    in reply to: The Incense of the Quadrivium’s Mystiques #7384

    The lyrical tones of a familiar Irish accent halted Cedric’s reluctant attempts to make the long distance phone call.  He glanced up at the burly man unsuccessfully attempting to order a Guinness and said to him kindly that they probably didn’t have any anyway, even if they could understand him.

    “That’s a Limerick accent if ever I heard one, and it’s good, so it is, to hear it. Are you on holiday? Cedric’s the name.”

    Rogers face brightened and his broad shoulders relaxed. “I’d give anything to be back in Limerick. Can you take me home with you?”

    “Are you lost, son?” Cedric asked gently. “Not to worry my boy, I’m in a bit of a pickle meself to be honest, but we’ll sort something out, eh?”

    “The monkeys ran away from me, so they did,” Roger said. “Frigella’s gonna have my guts for garters so she is, when she finds out I’ve mucked it all up again.”

    Cedric’s eyes widened and his heart started racing. “And who might that be?” he said, doing his best to remain outwardly calm.

    “But she sent me away and then there were all those monkeys and then I don’t know what happened.”

    Clearly Roger was a bit ninepence in the shilling.

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