The Science Of Magic

Chapter One


I often watched my parents at play. They orbited one another, and stayed in constant contact. They were always touching, not in a lusty way, but almost always. I had often seen them in the library or the kitchen, preoccupied in their disparate studies and absently brushing their fingertips together.

Where Mother talked, Father listened, much to the same effect. He wasn't particularly silent, She wasn't particularly chatty; and they frequently gave me more advice than I thought was required. It is her lengthy stories; and the quiet that followed his questions, that I remember most.

He was of an imposing size, especially to a mere lad; but you didn't seem to notice that, unless that is what he intended. He would give rehearsed introductions on a subject and then elicit my opinion. Encouraging me with: "well, what about this?"; or "why do you suppose they did that?"; he often requested that I illustrate, extrapolate, or expand.

Still, there were plenty of times when I couldn't get a word in edgewise; usually during fencing practice, and the other "battering and bludgeoning" lessons. He thought less of some of the lessons and let me know in subtle ways, for instance; some battering and bludgeoning practice could be foreshortened, for play. The schedules for Tactics and Fencing lessons however, were strictly adhered to.

"Rod", Mother once said, a bit too loud, "what a waste!" She saw the whole thing as a waste of thought, but conceded it's necessity, if pressed. Her head came up to my father's chest, and she was not angry, but she was serious. She may have been tense; If so, I had never seen her in that state before.

She pirouetted away from him, as he reached for her arm. She raised her hand, as if to snap her fingers, and continued.

"Why bother? With just one-" He caught her arm and, with a gentle pull, brought her closer. She radiated mischief.

"Not in the open, Jen-" Father tried to look stern, but Mother's smile would only allow for so much.

She tweaked his nose, (something I had never seen her do to him before) with a gleeful glissando, and fluttered off into the moon-rise.

As I watched them hover away, I huddled around my knees and twisted my eyes shut. Tensing, and then relaxing, every muscle in my body, I stretched my hearing to it's limit. With no sense of shame or guilt, I eaves-dropped.

"For all our trying, he could still be brought into all this."

"He's not got your size, or strength."

"He makes up for it with cleverness. Besides; he is built quite well, my love. It might not show but he is strong and lithe. I've never seen anyone who could maneuver like that. It must come from your side-"

She poked him in the ribs, and they switched- now she was moving backwards instead of him.

"But, Rod; I don't think he likes it much." She backed slowly across the meadow, waggling her fingers under her chin, while he followed.

"He's practically a natural, my dearest one. He dislikes fencing because he's so good at it. It comes easy to him, as you do to me." Again he drew her close; this time she did not dance away. I was old enough to know that I should stop watching.

I suppose, I have always been a skeptic. When Mom and I would visit the fairs, I ran across a good deal of magic. She was friendly with many of the practitioners.

Mostly it was bunk.

I could tell when we were visiting someone with real magic, Mom's manner was different, somehow. Looking back on it, I would call it deference.

They had a different look, too. They didn't talk as much about magic, and they dressed like real people. Mom invariably accepted a hug from the real ones, never from the fakes.

Most important was the attitude. The charlatans showed deference to Mom, but as if they were currying favor; you know - insidiously polite.

The real practitioners always treated Mom as if she were a long-unseen relative, catching her up on the gossip and sending little gifts with her.

Even when I was very young, I got ideas.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2


Galleas was tall and silver-haired. His face was carved in an expression, that was somewhat less than a smile. Though his features always conveyed an air of seriousness, his grey eyes twinkled with mischief and humor.

He was my walking definition of dignity.

Galleas was always glad to see Mother and me. He encouraged me to ask questions, and boy could I ask questions. I have always had an inquisitive nature; Galleas always had time for questions.

Throughout the years, most of my inquisitiveness had been met with impatience, some with rudeness. One old matronly type had chased me for half an hour around the Proust County exposition. I had been trying to figure out her crystal sphere (it was a simple device involving a couple of concave mirrors, an oil lamp and a hole in the table. ) I knew from her interaction with Mom that she had no real magic.

One of my clearest memories, and one of the reasons I'm so intrigued by magic, is something Mom told me once:

"No one with real magic will mind your questions, Nod my love. Only the pretenders are afraid of questions."

Galleas would often let me play with magical trinkets, while he and Mother talked quietly. I was not fooled by this ploy. I sensed they were speaking of something important, but the need to overhear was overshadowed by the need to explore magic toys.

But this time I overheard. Galleas, usually calm, imposing, and self-controlled, was near frantic.


"Jenny, I'm so glad your here. Did Froederick get home yet?" (I picked up my ears at the sound of my father's name.)

"No, he's- what's the matter, Uncle. What has happened?"

"It's begun, things did not go well in council."

"Oh, Galleas, I think we made a mistake, revealing ourselves after so much time. We should have waited for Noderick to be fully grown."

"He's quite well-grown now. Besides, waiting would have made it worse. Froederick's claim must be made before the Council. There are still a few who don't like this Phineas character or all his new rules."


The agitated sound of my mother's voice, pulled me into the conversation. Though I was a nosy brat, I was usually polite about it; I only eavesdropped if no one told me not to. There was a standing order to that effect, from Mother, who knew me quite well.

As they moved through the curtains to the back of the portable stall, I quietly slipped off the counter, and followed.

The fair was set up in a semi-circle. A small plaza for contests and performances was center most. Ringed by the stalls of the various vendors, who paid a fee for the space, it was the nexus of activities. It was very noisy.

I leaned close to the curtains.


" ... and worse than I feared, most of the old guard is gone: killed; missing or powerless; unable or unwilling to help".

"Then our cause is a ..." here, the noise of the fair intruded, "... lives may be forfeit."


Mother's voice had, even at her angriest, possessed a musical sweetness that made people feel as if they listened to singing. Now her voice had a cold, flat edge, like the scraping of metal against rock. It scared me.

I had always held the belief, like most children, that my parents were special. Throughout the years, I was regularly disappointed, finding them in mundane actions. I longed for evidence of spectacular adventure, great romance,  political intrigue, or magic. As often as I would find something interesting, Mother or Dad would prove it to be innocuous.

This was different. No amount of ambiguity could attribute this to an over-active imagination. It was bona-fide intrigue and Mama was in it, up to her pointy ears.

Oh yeah, Mother had unusually pointy ears.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2

Herbert and Noderick

"Eye of newt! I don't handle animals, Herbert." He twitched his fuzzy eyebrows at me, and I knew my cause was lost. I turned to whining and wheedling.

"How," I asked the great wizard, "do I get a newt to give me it's eye?"

Herbert looked at me strangely for a moment, then replied, "First you have to find a newt."

As if that explained everything.

"Yes-s-s ..." I prompted.

"Well the rest is between you and the newt." The tone of his voice made rebuttal futile. "Really, lad. I wouldn't think of telling you how to go about your business. I'll meet you at the River pass, this evening."

Evidently, I was being dismissed.

"What about the Stringewart? I don't even know what it looks like."

Herbert grinned, with an expression reminiscent of a cat. With a flourish, he pulled a placard from his sleeve and handed it to me.

"You can do it. Remember; anything you believe, you can achieve. I'll meet you at the River pass, this evening."

I didn't say anything. I pocketed the card and waved good-bye over my shoulder.

Now here I am, looking for Stringewart (even the name is vaguely unpleasant). I already had the eye of a newt.

I reached for the colored placard, with which Herbert had supplied me. I studied the drawing intently and re-read the card. Taking it in my left hand, I dug out the stoppered vial Herbert had given me. Succulents like the water, so I angled off, toward the River.

This is an interesting effect, congratulations for finding it.

Though it was early, the breeze was pleasant, and I could tell the day would be warm. Little by little, the birds began their ovation for the sunrise. Against the background of the brightly eastering sun, it was difficult to stay huffy about anything.

The River bent away into the sunrise and then proceeded south. The water was clear and swift, chortling as it played over the rocks and things.

After much stumbling and swearing, I finally spotted some of the accursed plant. As I approached, I noticed an acrid aroma, issuing from it. It was really quite handsome; lovely violet and maroon foliage and a great, green pitcher in the center.

The nectar felt sticky, as a dribble contacted my hand. I noticed the scent got stronger as it touched my flesh.

What I failed to notice was the cloud of Bees, collecting above me. All at once, there were hundreds of bees whisking around my ears and dive-bombing my face. I was not having fun.

I've had fun before; this wasn't it.

Though it appeared as if gnarled horns protruded from their heads, these were, in fact, antennae. They were Great Horned Bees; brandishing their namesakes.

They were big fuzzy bastards, some as big as my fist. Mean, little eyes sat beneath mean, big eyes. The little buggers tapered off to a stout but deadly looking stinger, sprouting out of the posterior. The overall effect was to give the appearance of a large, yellow-striped dart.

One particularly nasty looking character came directly at me and, try as I might, I could not suppress the reflex to swat at him. He spun away, buzzing circles on the ground, but not before he left me a little going away present. It was still pumping venom into my right hand.

The hand was swollen and red. After some whining and cursing, I removed the convulsing venom sac. I then jumped, head first, (clothes, pack, cloak and all) into the River.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2


I was the only young bachelor in the village, during the wars. Afterward, few of the men came home. Many who did were crippled or maimed. Those who weren't already married, were unwanted; some were drunks, thieves, and worse. Soon most of the unwed males went to other villages, or rejoined some private army, or . ..well they just seemed to drift off.

As a result, I frequently assisted the villagers with tasks that would normally fall to their husbands, brothers or beaus. Often, I would be rewarded with meals, and thinly-veiled marriage proposals. The former I accepted, cause I hate cooking (though I adore food), the latter I did my best to ignore.

I watched the farmers around the village as I was growing up. They rose early and worked hard. Always, they carried the means of their livelihood with them; the scent of manure and a coating of dust. The never ceasing toil is what sealed it. It did not look like any fun to me.

I decided that there must be a better way, and set out to find it.

Through careful research, diligent effort, acuity and patience, (and mostly pure, dumb luck,) I figured it out.

Growing things is not a matter of quantity; Old Tuffle's farm, the largest in three parishes, had been harvesting for generations and they were as poor as the dirt they worked.

When I was younger, Mother and I would go to the solstice and harvest gatherings. There, and at the market fairs, I would see healers, old men and women who offered their skill in herb lore for payment. Many of them had their own store of herbs and such (the such being poultices and potions, elixirs and liquors, balms, ointments, etc.)

A customer, seeking the remedy for melancholy, for instance, might find the healer had the very remedy called for, already made. Many times, the cure for gout, for instance, would be substituted for one more appropriate and less readily available. This all too common practice, had given a bad reputation to healers, in general.

Nonetheless, business was brisk. The secret of getting the coin was to always have an elixir on hand. The stuff invariably worked, perhaps not on the client's specific problem, but it worked on something.

Through a combination of eavesdropping, asking annoying questions, vague threats and petty bribery; I got to learn the essence of being a healer: they lied often.

The potions really worked, if applied to the proper problem, but the finding of the ingredients was arduous work. For this reason, many of the healers kept assistants. Mostly, they were orphans or slow children who had no hope of survival without some protection. The healers would train them how to locate various plants and fungi, in return, the assistants would be fed and protected. Generally, the assistants were too dull witted or surly to do a very good job. They needed constant instructions and attention.

For example:

Mother Phalen (an alias) would give Dunk (her apprentice) a twig of a Goldberry bush and send him hunting. Some hours later, Dunk would come back proudly bearing most of a large gooseberry bush. Good for pies, no good for rheumatism.

Patient explanations would follow about the color of the berries, shape of the leaf, etc. and Dunk would set out again.

Some hours later, Mother Phalen (under her own name, of course) would hobble off in search of the aforementioned Dunk, who was probably asleep under a Hawthorn (which is not even related to Goldberry.)


The market was ripe and I had a special talent for recognizing and locating the necessary plants. After the first month of barter and trade, I was in a position to demand payment in coin of the realm, and refuse orders for animal parts.

Father was off at the wars and my little business became an important source of income for Mother and me. At first I merely began to stockpile commonly requested items; "Nod I need pennyroyal; Nod I need five Spider mushrooms." Soon, I was fostering stands of Althea, Pennyroyal, Hob's Foot, and others, wherever I found them.

I quickly began to notice patterns of growth and associations with conditions as to how and where the various plants grew: Comfrey preferred the moist banks of the River; Broadleaf preferred dryer soil, and tended to sprout downwind.

I seeded spores of several desirable fungi in rotting logs. I noticed deer were very fond of King's Foil and their droppings were the best kind of fertilizer for it. And so forth. It was natural to take the next step and cultivate them; the closer to the house the better. And so my gardens grew.

But I was no blabber mouth; the villagers thought I had a magical gift for finding the healing plants, I let them.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2

the Knack

Mother had a knack for things, that's what Dad called it. She always knew what I was thinking, even when I was rather unclear about it myself. She knew I was worried about what I had overheard between Galleas and her. She knew I didn't understand.

As we walked home, she leaned her arm on my shoulder and rubbed my neck. It was a familiar gesture and settled me, somewhat.

"We're going to take a trip, Nod, to meet your father at Dellbury. I've already made arrangements with Elias Pottrattle to watch the cottage."

I stopped and stared into her eyes. Already I was exceeding her diminutive stature. I felt both protective and protected, at once. I had not been really frightened until that moment, when I saw the sorrow in her eyes.

"What's going on, Mother?"

I had never seen her hesitate before answering me. I watched her thoughts in her crystal-blue eyes, as they moved from hopeful bluff to resigned sadness. It leaked through her smile as she spoke.

"Your father and I, before you were born we ..." She stopped and bit her bottom lip. "Perhaps we should have explained ...It's too much to explain right now. Everything is going to be fine, my love." She reached her arms around me and hugged me, real tight.

We were in sight of the village, I could see the ragged tendril of smoke from the Smithy. The ribbon of the road, cut into the green and disappeared around a hill. Mother slipped her hand in mine; it felt cold and fragile.

"I'm not a little boy anymore Mother, if we're in trouble I should know." She seemed to weigh this in her head for a moment, wrestling with her options. When she spoke her smile had returned to normal.

"I have to stop in town. Why don't you run ahead home and hitch a wagon. Use Dancer and Star for a team, they're fast and they won't wear out. If we get an early enough start, we can make a picnic of it."

I stood my ground, immovable, intractable. I was not a child any more. I would have the facts, by the Gods, or I would not move.

She brushed my face with her fingertips, "You look just like your father when you do that. Besides I have a present for you and you can't have it until we're on the road." Mother stuck out her tongue, tweaked my nose and ran off laughing.

My first inclination was to stand my ground, stalwart and immovable until she gave in. But this nose tweaking was serious business in our family. Though playful, it could not go without redress. I finally succumbed to the twitching urge to run after her.

We tumbled into the soft grass and, after a perfunctory tickle, I was well satisfied with my vengeance. We stayed for a while, between the warm sun and the cool grass. She told me stories of my father and her. She told me another one of the adventure of the Færy Princess and the Human Prince who ran away from their homes for love. She seemed to like that one. We reminisced and played clouds.

"Mom?" It had been quite a while since I called her anything but 'Mother'.

"Yes, Nod." She noticed, and it was evident from her tone. We were both sleepy from the sunlight, giddy with the moment's freedom from care. I propped my elbow on the lawn and plopped the side of my head in my palm.

"What's going on?"

She took a deep breath, "Some people are making trouble for your father and me. We think it's best if we get away for a while, where no one will bother us."

To my air of skepticism, she answered, "I'll explain it all to you on the road." She moved her fingers through my hair.

"You go get the wagon ready, I'll go get your present." She sprung up from the ground and reached for my hand. Her motions were graceful and firm, I don't think I ever saw her trip or stub her toe.

As I rose she brushed my cloak back and exclaimed, "Noderick G. McDonough, you're not wearing a belt!"

"I grew out of the last one I made with Father." I blushed for no reason I could fathom. Mother was the only person who could do that to me (with the possible exception of Maggie Pottrattle, who made me blush for entirely different reasons.)

"Well then, I shall return with two presents for you. No son of mine will have to face the world, without a proper belt." Her merriment was contagious; I was brimming with excitement as I watched her turn and go.

She stopped skipping to turn and wave at me. Even at this distance, I could hear the three rising notes of her musical giggle.

That was the last time I ever saw her.  To my everlasting embarrassment, the nature of the present still puzzles me.

Father had been a farmer, at heart.  He swore it was the only thing he was good at. He made a damn fine oak bucket, and worked amazingly well in stone. He grew the most beautiful roses I had ever seen. He kept some livestock, but just for family use. He laid claim to the finest orchard in the land. Peaches, pears, apples; not extensive, but the best.

I contracted some of the local lads to tend the animals. I kept them in mint, sugar berries, etc. I promised them their pick of the offspring (a future farmer couldn't start soon enough), and a few coins once a month. All to the delight of their parents, who got right to graze Dad's property, too. Not only did it keep all the animals friendly, but it broadened the breeding possibilities.

Thirty acres were worked and maintained by locals. My fee was ten percent (in goods, not coin) of their crop, half of which was placed in a store, to be distributed to families in distress. About twenty percent of that, was spent on the four feasts we held each year. Good years would bring us five or six feasts.

It was a tradition started by my parents, the year I was born. It eventually spawned a pavilion on the north fields, built by the villagers, which could accommodate all and sundry, for kilometers around.

The whole village always turned out for the celebrations, not just the people connected with our land. Once Herbert said it was, "an interesting example of an agrarian collective or feudalism. I'm not sure there's much difference." I pointed out that we mostly followed the Druids, and he shook his head and got quiet.

Now don't get the wrong idea about all this. I'm no philanthropist, I was just being plain lazy.  I wanted time to work on my herb business, and pursue magical things. The land and livestock were being cared for and I didn't have to do anything. Even more impressive, I had a great supply of every kind of food-stuff imaginable.

Besides, well-fed, industrious neighbors, are much better than starving, disgruntled ones.

Old Elias Pottrattle and his sons (who kept extensive orchards of their own) took great pride in looking after my little orchard, with the larger share of the fruit going to them. "Best in the land" they claimed.

The ability to snag an apple from a tree, anywhere in the village, was not as thrilling as I had imagined, when I was eleven. It lacked the uneven satisfaction of the forbidden.

I kept, just for myself, the five acres adjoining the forest and surrounding the cottage. Hidden away in the nearly virgin forest land were my gardens.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2

Something Nasty cont'd

When I came up for air there were no bees to be seen or heard.

The Sun was climbing a ridge to the Southeast, and the wind was thin and chilling. My clothing stuck to me in a most unpleasant way; and my teeth rattled.

I couldn't be sure, but it seemed something small and slippery, was in the water with me.

I bobbed under the cover of some overhanging shrubs. It was dark, cold, wet and unpleasant. Not as unpleasant as the bees, however.

Also, I was hungry and I had to pee.

While I was treading water, (for Gods knew how long) I was jolted to reality by the fizzing of a host of angry bees. They were coming closer.

Ah well, at least I didn't have to pee anymore. Thinking of the long swim ahead of (and behind) me, I breathed a heavy sigh and sucked in a quart of River.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2

Hanna and Tiela

"It's no use, Tiela." She dug her heels in the soft earth, and pressed her back into the tree. "Our relationship is too progressive, too non-traditional; they'll never understand. Phineas' New Rules don't allow for the likes of us," asserted Hanna, the taller of the two.

They sat beneath a great Hawthorn tree, lunching on berries and apples and bread. The sun was sliding toward the horizon; a visual reminder of their dwindling time together.

"I don't want to live without you, Hanna. If they force us apart, I'll kill myself," Tiela fluttered her gossamer wings dispiritedly, a tear slithered down her flawless cheekbone.

Hanna was a Dryad, a tree fairy. She was tall, for a færy type. Her radiant, nut-brown hair framed a golden face and deep green eyes. Her long, slender fingers swept her hair, in a most erotic, if utterly innocent, way.

Tiela was smaller; seventeen inches from the tip of her toes to the top of her pointy little ears. A swarm of bronze curls billowed about her ears; setting off her liquid blue eyes and pointy nose. Tiela was an elemental, an air spirit, attached to the Air Force.

Mixed unions were rare but not unheard of. Their relationship was something very different.

"You can't kill yourself you're immortal."

Tiela wrinkled her little nose in an alarmingly cute way. "No, but I can discorporate. If they force us apart I'll just end it." responded Tiela bravely, loyally, stupidly.

They kissed sweetly, for a moment, then embraced tearfully. They remained that way for a time.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2

Something Nasty cont'd

I was so tired, I thought I might lie in the sun for a while. I needed to rest, recuperate, and stop bloody swimming. I stifled a yawn. (I strongly discourage you from yawning underwater. It's effects are not the same as in the air.)

With superhuman effort, (O.K., so it was only a yard to the shore but, I was tired!) I made it to the shore.

I pulled myself up by means of a gnarled old root, which twisted out into the River. The mossy bank was not slippery. Much of the moss and lichen were not even damp. The forest floor was littered with dry leaves and unidentifiable memorabilia. They meshed to form a warm and dry-looking carpet.

Using my bundle as a pillow, I hit the rug.

I was drifting {sex} off; thinking {sex} of nothing in particular, {AHEM} enjoying the lullaby of warm breeze and forest song. I had a sudden desire to look around.

Further along the river bank, by a stand of Hawthorns, two naked figures capered by the River. The first was not as tall, as she seemed. Her hair went to her thighs in wavy whorls and knots. It looked for all the world to be the same color as the tree bark, as it moved through the sunlight.

Her skin was tan with a rosy hue, her limbs were full, but slender and long. She bent to run her fingers through the water. Her eyes flashed green in the sun. She smiled broadly and brought her hand up out of the water, raising a spray which sparkled in the light.

Her laughter, a mellifluous blend of pipes, moved the rounded smallness of her breasts in a delightful way.

In answer, her diminutive friend's giggle was a twinkling of crystal. It held a hint of scolding as the fairy zigged away from the arc of water. For a moment or two, she flitted back and forth like a hummingbird, with flashes of fiercely golden hair and eyes like sea-blue gems. And those beautiful wings.

I had never seen any wings quite like those (not that I'm any great wing expert but, I get around.) Like four slivers of starlight, or moonlight they shimmered. First moving so fast, one wasn't sure if they were real at all. Then moving not at all and reflecting the blues of the sky and the metallic light of the sun.

When she finally stopped and hovered, I couldn't have hoped to look at a more perfect body, except perhaps, her taller friend.

When first seen, her voluptuousness seemed out of proportion with her miniature stature. I think it was just the surprise of actually seeing someone that small with such magnificent, eh- wings.

Where the tall one possessed an ancient, classical kind of beauty; the little one was cute. She was impossibly cute. Her little pouty-face, was the cutest pouty-face anywhere. Her mischievous I'm-gonna-get-you, was the first-prize mischievous ... well, you get the idea.

I was getting ideas.

I fell asleep anyway.

Ah, well.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2

Hanna and Tiela

Tiela flittered on the couch. Hanna watched with some annoyance, not so much at Tiela's actual flittering as at the fact that Hanna had to get physically involved.

It was a nervous habit, like biting fingernails; Tiela nervously fluttered her gossamer wings. She had beautiful wings. No feathers, no creepy insect skin; Tiela's multicolored wings had been spun from lost dreams. They caught the light, fractured and bent it, then fired it all about.

It was a magnificent, if distracting, light show. That was fine with Hanna, she thought it was beautiful. However, Tiela had a tendency to float; that is, rise in the air, whenever she flittered.

Tiela remained completely unaware of her motion, usually until she bashed her head on the ceiling. Before she could do this, Hanna would grab her by the ankle and gently pull her back to the couch.

"Would you please stop flittering? You're starting to make me nervous." Hanna gritted her teeth and glared; a not surprisingly ineffective expression, given her angelic face.

Tiela had no such problem. Her pouty lip and flittering eyelashes (trust me, they flittered) fit her face perfectly. All her expressions were cute, and they always fit.

The Pixie receptionist had led them in and told them to wait. She wore flat shoes and a utilitarian-grey skirt. A grey Cardigan, draped around her shoulders, was fastened with a pearl clasp; eye wear depended from a faux-pearl chain. Her hair was obviously colored and the original, lighter shade, was far nicer.

She hovered for a moment on minute wings, level with Tiela. Tiela was staring, tight-lipped; she was deep in thought.

Two things told Hanna this:

1- Tiela had stopped flittering her wings completely, yet she still hovered in the same spot ( Fairy wings are magic.)

2- Tiela had one eyebrow cocked, the opposite eye, squinted. She pointed at the receptionist and opened her mouth.

"Say, aren't you Tink-" Tiela was switching eyebrow and squint when she was interrupted. This left her with her eyes, as well as her mouth, wide open.

"Doris! Just D.-O.-R.-I.-S.!" As Doris spelled, she moved closer to Tiela's face. After whispering "Doris" through clenched teeth, she disappeared to the sound of little bells. Tiela blinked a few times before her wings began to move again.

"Close your mouth, Tiela, You'll catch a fly." said Hanna with a soft smile.

"I'm so worried, Hanna. I just don't think I can sit still." She flittered, wings and lashes, in agitated demonstration, and watched for Hanna's response.

Hanna yanked at her ankle, and Tiela hit the couch.

"Do sit still!" grunted Hanna, with an expression as fierce as a yawning kitten.

Tiela sniffed once, rubbed her posterior, and steeled herself for some real serious pouting. Her eyes misted, her chin quivered. Hanna reached for her hand, saying "I'm sorry," just as the diminutive receptionist re-materialized.

"He'll see you now," she said without a smile or a blink in their direction. She disappeared with the tinkling of little bells.

Hanna squeezed the tiny hand gently and released it, they both rose and walked toward the door.

"That is her, isn't it?" Tiela whispered to Hanna, behind her hand.

Hanna didn't answer. She grabbed Tiela's tunic and pulled her, very gently, back to the floor.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2


"Are you quite sure about this, Phineas?" Will Rumpledumpling frowned behind his glasses. "So close to the Festival, t'would be eh - inappropriate to create any ill will among the ah, constituency." He mumbled something suspiciously like 'harrumph'.

"Now then, Will, I ne'er steered you wrong afore. You just do what I told you, and you'll be the Mayor again. I've taken care of everything. And never mind the harrumphing." Phineas T.  chewed on his unlit stogie, and flexed his face in a manner Will mistook for a grin. He cocked an eyebrow at Will, "You remember everything?"

Will nodded his round, balding head and pursed his lips.

"What if they don't like it? If the Mother Goose Union gets in on this, I'm out. Those Elves can be nasty." His demeanor was near frantic. "I'm getting too old for this, Phineas. I used to have fun, now all I can think about is ... is ..." He held his face in his hands.

"Don't start that again, Will. Haven't you been going to the meetings?"  Phineas squinted at him, and reached over the desk. Deftly, he extracted a crooked, red and white striped object, from Will's coat pocket, "Ah, Will, and what is this?"

"It's just one little candy cane, Phineas, I didn't see any harm..."

"That's how it always begins, Will, m'lad. First a quick one after work. Then two or three on bad days. Then you just up and whittle a toy train in your spare time."

Phineas' voice got louder, "By then it's too late. Baby dolls, board games; all your waking moments making toys and drinking, it always ends with drinking," He looked embarrassed, shook his head, then whispered, "Hot Chocolate."

"'Tis a sad tale it is." He dashed the candy cane to the ground. "No more, Will, you must promise me to get back on medication at once, and stop giving in to these perversions."

Phineas fished a flask from his folio. After taking a stout slug from it himself, he passed it to Will; left eyebrow cocked, right eye squinting. (Or was it the other way around?)

Hesitantly, Will reached for the flask. He upended it into his mouth and took three long gulps. He regarded Phineas through watery eyes, then called out;


A tiny sprig of light appeared angrily, on the desk. What quality of the light made it seem angry was debatable, yet so it seemed. The light expanded with a pop and the tinkle of tiny bells, then changed into a sprightly nineteen-inch girl Pixie. Complete with dragonfly wings.

"I told you never to call me that." She said, ferociously placing her hand on her hip. She gave him a little agitated buzz on her wings and tapped her tiny foot.

"I'm sorry, eh . . Doris. Would you send them in please?" Will pointed ambiguously toward the door.

"Oh, fine for you. Fetch this, do that, some Pixie dust to make us fly, Tink! Bloody hell!"

She kicked petulantly at the desk calendar. It's pages lifted with a little thunk. She hopped on one foot for a moment, holding the other foot in her hands, then disappeared with the sound of tiny bells.

Welcome to TSOM Contents Chapter 2

Something Nasty cont'd

I was roused by the sound of bees. Before I was fully awake, I grabbed my meager kit and threw it in the River. I was not far behind. I gathered the items as I swam, getting entangled in the blanket. The length-wise trip to the opposite bank, downstream, nearly drowned me.

Shaking my head and spewing water, I climbed out on the bank. My hand was throbbing and still rather swollen. The chill of the water had kept the swelling down, and numbed my body enough that I hadn't noticed before. My hand was twice it's normal size.

It was growing later, I surmised from the position of the sun. I had about three hours to get to the river ford to meet Herbert.

I lay on the bank of the River, panting and freezing, trying to hold my pulsating hand above my heart. I was vaguely woozy and my head hurt. I wasn't one to panic but I did decide to try despair for a while and see how that worked.

After an undetermined length of time despairing, the Sun passed over the low hills. It brightened the trees and warmed my shivering body. I re-thought the despair concept, abandoning it to enjoy the sunshine.

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