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Thread: Sapphire: bright eyed baby dragon

  1. #51
    It turned out that Sir Johnnes was the seventh son of a King in a faraway land, and, so he had been sent to a neighbouring kingdom to seek his fortune.

    This neighbouring kingdom's ruler had 7 daughters; so the idea was to match the daughters with 'spare' sons.

    However, there were more princes than there were princesses, and so a plan was devised to set a challenge . . and the challenge was to kill a marauding dragon, take proof to the King the father, and then the Prince could marry one of the daughters.

    The problem was . . obvious. There aren't many dragons left in the 'real world'. Or at least, not ones that matched the descriptions on the texts. And so the Princes either gave up and went home; or ranged further and further, following rumour and myth to track down these elusive yet magical creatures.

    Sir Johannes had traversed mountains and dales, fields and marshland, he'd found ancient scraps of parchment which seemed to hint at fire breathing monsters here, or there, yet each time it lead to a dead end, to a pile of ash and broken hopes.

    Then it seemed his luck changed.

    In traditional faiytale style, his travels took him past a small wooded area where he heard a quavering cry 'Help!'

    On investigation he found an elderly lady, her foot twisted under and a small dog tangling it's leash around her stick. Hastily turning off the engine of his Harley Davidson, he disentangled the dog, braving it's yaps and nips with stoic determination, and then assisted the elderly lady to a convenient log. he checked the ankle, and bound it tightly.

    With his assistance, she and her dog made their way to a small cottage just on the edge of the wooded area; her home, she explained.

    Looking keenly around the cottage he declined her offer of a bed for the night, but agreed to a replenishment of food. Home baked bread, and a chunk of cheese, a refull of his water boittles and some very sweet apples were stowed away into the panniers of the bike.

    'The last thing, young sir, ' quavered the elderly lady, ' I hear tell of a land with dragons - just past the sunset, turn right at dawn; look for the phoenix and be surprised at nothing. There. your fate awaits.'

    Bowing courteously, Sir Johannes thanked her, and mounted his bike. Sunset? West? well, that was as good a direction as any, he thought, and so he set off.
    Last edited by dragonholt; 19th August 2018 at 08:02 PM.
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  2. #52
    The next part of his story became very vague. He remembered setting off; and riding through the evening. He remembered noting how bright the stars were; and how large the moon. . .he remembered feeling he could ride for ever . . .and then . . nothing.

    It was as if he'd blinked and fallen into a dream . . or was it the other way? He blinked and came awake?

    Whatever it was, everthing was different.

    The thrum of the engine under him was gone - and instead there was a rise and fall movement. His legs seemed to be astride something wider now, and he could feel the difference in his thigh muscles. Instead of the curved handlebars of the motorbike he held something thinner, more fluid. The cool sharp edged starlight was gone - instead the air was diffused sunshine.

    Instinctively he pulled on the straps in his hand and a snort he half recognised sounded before he came to a halt.

    Sir Johannes looked around him.

    To the right in the far distance stretched ice capped mountains - reminiscent but quite different from those he remembered seeing in Switzerland that one time. Nearer, he saw shapes that gleamed in the sunshine, set amidst jewellike green, with splashes of aquamarine, and blurs of darker green. Nearer still, and he saw what looked like a set of ruins. What was this place?

    Slowly he turned, his hand patting the front of his Harle- er - he looked down. He was patting the neck of a black horse! Suddenly breathless he couldn't quite grasp exactly what had happened, and then he burst out laughing. A great guffaw of a laugh - 'horsepower!' he chortled. Rubbing his eyes he half expected to see this strange valley disappear, but when he opened them again it was to see the green vista open before him once more. A patch of water lay to his left, so, clicking, and using his heels (how did he know to do that? he wondered) he and his horse set off.

    The water lay as a small lake - he could see the far shore but it was sufficently far that it would qualify as a lake. The water lay quiet, and that gorgeous deep blue that almost looks green, inviting. Cautiously, he dismounted, staggering slightly as his legs adjusted. His horse - in that instant he decided to call him Harley - paced forward, head lowered, reins trailing and bit chinking slightly, and then snorted before lapping at the water. A few moments later Johannes followed, plunging his hands in the water and splashing his face. Cold. Fresh. Delightful.

    He was sat there, listening to the horse cropping the grass, his eyes half closed against the sunlight, trying deperately to sort out reality from dream when an unexpected voice caught his attention.

    'So, you made it. Welcome to the Valley'

    His eyes flew open and he saw - as he had half expected - the old woman who had set him off on this adventure.

    'We know her as Emma' Sapphire continued, as she looked around her audience, made up of young dragons, and their mages, shamans, druids and witches, including her friends, her snowflakes dancing like firesmoke, painting pictures in filligree of the tale she told, ' and so came Sir Johannes to our world. He is a friend' she added simply.

    'Where is he now?' asked Dale, a mechanically minded mage, who had taken great interest in the machine Sir Johannes had ridden before . .

    'He's with the seer in her tent' answered Sapphire. 'The hope is her crystal ball will show more'.
    Last edited by dragonholt; 19th August 2018 at 08:05 PM.
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  3. #53
    A week later, and Sir Johannes was settled into the City, in one of the empty houses. He'd struck up a friendship with Colin, and the two could often be seen in the town square mira watching and sipping mitsu coffee. His horse - stabled on the edge of the City, At first the horse - Harley - of course! - was skittish around the dragons, but time helped, and he soon settled, simply flattening his ears when one came too close.

    Sir Johannes - 'call me J', he insisted after about a week, 'the other is such a mouthful!' - J found it difficult to sleep for a while. Tossing and turning; seeing the sunrise, and the change of the Watch dragons all conspired to disrupt his sleep. So much so Colin made a point of introducing - J - to Emma. She listened in her irascible way, muttered over a cup of nettle tea, and rummaged in her ever-present bag, before presenting - J - with a small handful of different leaves and herbs.

    'Infuse that and drink as hot as you can - honey if you need it sweeter - about half an hour before bed and you should sleep sound. . .' she seemed to be about to say something else, and obviously thought better of it. 'See me in a week - let me know how it's working', she finished with.

    -J - thanked her and tucked it away. He had already changed into more sensible clothing - the armour he had arrived in clanked and rubbed something rotten; these trousers and tunic were much easier to walk in.

    Later Emma spoke to the Sorceror ' I hope I did right. I didn't warn him about the dreams . . '
    'Don't worry my love, ' he soothed her, 'if he has problems I'm sure he'll be back. I think I still have a dreamcatcher in the shop - if not I'll order some more. Now, come here, I think you could do with a hug . . .'

    The infusion smelt of rain on the blossom, of sunshine on wet grass and freshly trodden mud. . .and tasted . . well . .indescribable . . .but a few minutes later he could feel his eyes growing heavy
    and he was soon asleep.

    And dreaming.
    Last edited by dragonholt; 19th August 2018 at 08:06 PM.
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  4. #54
    Uncharacteristically, Emma was nervous. She waited for -J- in the Town square, sipping a rose petal infusion rather than her usual nettle tea - she felt the need for something more calming.

    -J- arrived, looking tanned and healthy, striding along with an enviable confidence. Mira life obviously agreed with him, Emma thought, with a smile of welcome. As he sat down she looked more closely. Oh. Those eyes - they were shadowed. Something wasn't right. . .

    'Are you sleeping okay now?' she asked, watching his body as well as his face for his answer. His fingers started tapping the table and she noticed colour underneath the nails. paint?

    'I'm sleeping, ' he answered, a half smile on his face, ' and I'm dreaming. I wake with the images still in my head. I spoke to Sapphire and she suggested painting them'. He looked ruefully at his fingernails - 'as you can see I took her advice . . .' His smile faltered, just for a second. 'Dreams of colour, red and orange, tangerine and turquoise, greys and silvers . . .great swathes of colour . . .'

    'May I see them?'
    A pause, and then, 'Of course. They are at my place.'

    The smell of paint filled the small house, making her nose wrinkle, but the sight that met her eyes as she stepped into the room he had turned into his studio almost took her breath away. He had been busy. Canvases lay against the wall, windows into his dreams, full of vibrancy and vivid.

    One in particular caught her eye. Colours of fire stretched across the canvas, interrupted by stormcloud grey and angular silhouettes from an alien world . .

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    'What are they . . .?' she breathed

    'Sunsets' he said, and something in his voice made her turn to look at him. It was as if he had forgotten she was there. He had propped up a clean canvass and was brushing black across it . . velvety, glistening deep space black.

    She stood for a few minutes and realised she was completely forgotten. Leaving him to his art she left the house, one final glance at the picture that had caught her eye.

    Over tea she discussed the encounter with her husband, who was intrigued. It was agreed that he would visit the next day and see what he thought . . .

    And so it happened. -J- let him in and seemed unsurprised that he wanted to see the paintings.

    In pride of place was the latest one. The background was black, shades of black, as if it were somehow grained, like velvet or wood, and in the middle an almost perfect sphere, shading from the palest pink to a blood red. The Sorcerer stood, amazed.

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    'That's the moon', stated -J-.
    'Not Mira's moon' observed the Sorcerer
    'No,' agreed -J- 'but it's the moon . . .'

    -J- had started a new painting this time. One that made the Sorcerer shiver. Swathes and circles of greys swirled across most of the canvass, while a layer of orange red roared fiercely underneath. below that - darker shadows, and angular shapes on darker shades - nothing clear.

    'What is that?'
    'I don't know. But it needs to be shown, The story needs to be told. Before I sleep again . . . '

    Thoughtfully the Sorcerer took his leave and returned to his wife.

    'We need to talk' he announced.

    Last edited by dragonholt; 19th August 2018 at 08:07 PM.
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  5. #55
    It was a week later and there was an air of excitement throughout Mira.

    A Miramagia first! An art exhibition!

    The flyers had gone out the previous week - literally flying into every postbox in the many villages that inhabited the valleys - inviting people to submit their work (if they so wished) and to come along to the Grand Opening.

    Such a demand on dye pots (used as paint) there hadn't been since the new line of dyeable clothing had come out in the shop! Rose red was very popular, as was swan white - and as for unicorn pink . . . the valleys were scoured end to end to find the elusive shade.

    And pride of place would be -J-'s paintings. Word had spread that these were something special - almost magical in their depiction of other worlds . . .and there were hints of a special announcement . . certainly Harold had been spotted visiting Emma and Emilio's . . .

    The day dawned.

    The first people let in to the Council High Chamber - where the exhibition was being held - were of course the High Council. Oh and a select few others . . . everyone else congregated on the Town square chatting, gifting, and waiting.

    The Herald appeared on the steps to the Town Hall, clad in a bright yellow tabard. His voice, magically enhanced, spoke out, declaring the exhibition open. The doors opened and in came the Miramagicians.

    And inside . . .the Hall had been converted into galleries, with information screens in each alcove, along with seating areas. The lighting was magic, and ideally placed to allow each painting to be studied carefully. The paintings were grouped . . .landscapes - moonscapes - portraits - still life . . and the most disturbing section . . .scenes of disaster, tragedy and turmoil.

    All the people moving through the Gallery came out looking thoughtful, in some cases surreptiously wiping away tears.

    One alcove was left. Still and in shadow.

    Interestingly enough people stayed in the Town square - they seemed to need some time to be together to process what they had witnessed, a sombre air settling over the small groups as they found comfort in community.

    About 30 minutes after the last ones had filed through the great doors opened once more, and out came the Council, between them an easel with a covered canvass which was placed carefully at the top of the steps.

    Mirella stepped forward, her voice magically amplified

    'Greetings miramagicians

    Thank you for supporting the talents of the community - I am sure you will all agree the exhibition is thought provoking and inspirational.

    However, you will have noticed that someone is absent. . . '
    A murmur spread through the crowd.

    'Yes. -J-. He has . . gone. . . but has left us with ., . .' she swept the cover off the canvass and the crowd gasped. 'with this . . .'

    This was a framed portrait. But unlike the ones in the Galley behind the doors this one was . . .magic. Alive. It was a rendering of -J- Very lifelike. Too lifelike, maybe, for it moved. . .

    'Yes, he is there; behind the canvass. This is his portal between worlds. He may be back - but for now, he is wandering the worlds. . . .'

    A sigh rose from the crowd, and hearts were conjured from the whole host - an outpouring of love and support.

    'This portal will remain in the Council Hall, safe, and tended. The paintings will be in the exhibition for another week, and then, if you wish to request one for your own village and dreamworld please apply to Sebastian - we are keen that they should be displayed in Libraries and portal islands throughout Miramagia.'

    Last edited by (Moon); 19th August 2018 at 11:31 PM.
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  6. #56
    Mira sweltered. It was so hot. Portal worlds were magicked into water worlds, and ice worlds were very popular as Miramagicians sought for cool.

    Poor Sapphire. Despite her best endeavours it was hard to keep her lair cool enough. So much so she was planning to escape to the mountains when she had a visitor.

    Mirella stood there, her face shiny from the heat, and clutching a folder under her arm.

    'Sapphire - may I come in?'
    'Of course'. Sapphire swept away a pile of sketches that were piled on the chair and Mirella took her seat with a sigh. Looking towards the fireplace she smiled - 'What a wonderful idea!'

    Instead of flames licking away at fuel and giving out heat the grate was filled with blue ice flames, and instead of smoke drifting up into the chimney there were snowflakes, drifting down like white delicate ash. Standing near the cold-fire was a jug, earthenware.
    'Chilled nettle juice?'
    'Yes, please.'

    A companionable silence fell as Mirella savoured the chilled juice, and Sapphire coiled around, watching the dance of the snowflakes in the fireplace.

    'Sapphire . . ' began Mirella . . 'Um, I have a favour to ask you . . .'

    Sapphire turned her blue-white head, her gold eyes, with that hint of a red spark, studying the profile of Mirella.

    'There's a - problem- in the valleys.'
    Sapphire paused and watched the snowflakes.
    'A - problem?'
    'Yes. The unicorn river. . .it's . . frozen'

    Unicorn river? Sapphire thought about this, staring at the ice flames, which transformed into a prancing unicorn.

    'In the valley?' Mirella nodded.
    'We don't know why, but the statues are frozen and the river is frozen too. And it's spreading . . .'

    'I'll take a look . . .'

    Mirella handed over the file - which held a short report and some photos. Three photos. One was of the stone statues, and the teal green of the river. In the next, the prancing Unicorn statues were glistening blue ice white and the river below their hooves was the tell tale opaque white of ice. The bridge close by was coated with icicles but still wooden. The third photo showed the ice was ice-white to the first significant bend, and ahead lay a village.

    'And the village?'

    'Miratlantis. A well established village; two current inhabitants. Both report they are unable to remove the ice field spell . . .'

    Sapphire thought. 'I'll need someone with an interest in science.'

    Mirella paused, and then handed over another sheet of paper. 'I thought you might. This shaman might be prepared to help you.'

    The file showed a shaman wearing a deep blue oriental robe and headdress, with 2 transformations. 'Goliath! I know him!'

    Mirella nodded. 'I will leave it with you. Ask if you need anything please. And now I'd better get going . . .'

    Farewells made, Mirella left the lair and Sapphire found herself playing with ice sculptures.

    A short while later and she had a family of unicorns, one prancing, one sitting, and a foal, standing shyly close to the flanks of it's mother.
    Last edited by (Moon); 23rd August 2018 at 09:44 PM.
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  7. #57
    The valley looked normal - well, almost . . if you managed to ignore the white patch to the lower right . . .

    Sapphire banked, and craned her neck to investigate.

    There were the mountains, and then . . a patch of white where there should have been the two statues, a river and - yes, those shadows showed buildings - a village - all consumed by white. She glided lower, until she could sense cold drifting up, shivering over her hide despite the sun on her back.

    She circled, and landed just outside the white zone. The cold was intense this close; even made Sapphire's snout wrinkle slightly at the clean ozone taint. Blazing white, the sun reflecting off the sheer white surface, the shadows violet out of the direct sunlight.

    Sapphire lowered her inner eyelid - as most dragons did she had two - one hairless, and almost opaque; the other the usual one, and this was an evolutionary development to help protect a flyer from sunshine at high altitudes. Useful here, though, to shield her from the glare. Focussing on the edge of the ice she studied it. Breaking off a chip she studied that carefully. Using her camera, and a special filter, she took various photographs to study later. Another chip of the ice was enclosed in a protective layer of her own ice, for later study, and she decided to explore further.

    The ice emanated sucn a welcome frost she revelled in it. Surely it wouldn't hurt to explore further. . .and so she did, carefully stepping onto the surface. Slippery, but not wet, she noticed; and almost opaque. Looking closely, she noticed shapes and shadows trapped under the ice. That looked like a rock . . and there, here, where the river once ran there were curls and glimpses of fish, darts of colour frozen beneath the ice. How deep did it go?

    The nearer she moved to the Unicorn guardians the more the ice curved upwards like the sides of a hill, enveloping the knees of the prancing unicorns. So, the ice started here . . but why?

    She studied the area closely, making out what she could from studying the icy depths. Her eyes followed the shape of the unicorn legs, to the hooves, and the feathered tail. The left side unicorn - then the right. Both looked exact . . or did they? She studied the right side unicorn's left hoof. What was . . that? Something that shouldn't be there. Something . . .that shouldn't be there.

    Back at her lair she developed her photographs, and studied them. She watched her ice melt and reveal the specimen - which didn't melt in the sun. 'Hmm . . .' she thought.

    Ice crystal structure is normally either like a snowflake - a regular six sided shape; or like fern fronds. This crystalline structure was . . . blocky . . four sided . . like cubes. Locking together somehow to make a very dense substance. . .this reduced the amount of surface that could be affected by heat, hence why the sample was so slow to melt. So . . .

    The conclusion was inevitable. This ice was somehow, unnatural. Sapphire's thoughts went back to the strange thing she had spotted by the right hoof. Perhaps, if she could remove and study it . . .? But how?

    It took another meeting with Mirella, and Hobgoblin before a plan of action was decided upon - and by then the ice had encroached further, and the ice was up to the unicorn statue's hindquarters. Upper Chirphurst was now threatened by the unnatural ice . . .

    And so the expedition set out.
    Last edited by (Moon); 23rd August 2018 at 09:44 PM.
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  8. #58
    Hobgoblin and Goliath were an unusual partnership. They had studied science using both Mira texts from the Libraries around Mira, and specially procured texts from the human world, and were particularly accomplished in understanding geology and physical geography. This made them ideal for Sapphire's plan . . .

    And Mirella - her magical skills were particularly effective with teleportation . . .and that was going to be essential.

    Sapphire nodded to herself. Yes, all that could be made ready had been. It was time.

    A small group of refugee villagers - those who had fled the two villages consumed by the ice, and a third threatened by it - stood huddled together round a brazier placed there by Nuthatch, who also plied them with warm drinks and sausage rolls, watching as Sapphire and Goliath set off on their errand.

    The flight gave Sapphire one last chance to go over her plan. Yes, it should work . . but if it didn't? She mentally shrugged her shoulders. If it didn't work, they'd simply have to come up with another plan. The alternative . . unthinkable. She shuddered, and Mirella, on her back, held more tightly.

    All too soon, she landed. The ice had spread. A third village: Upper Shrubthorpe, was slowly being consumed by the ice . . .icicles hanging from the trees like translucent fruit, and plants frost bitten in the fields.

    Goliath landed next to her, and their passengers descended. While a fire was built and lit, Sapphire retraced her steps to the edge of the ice - to the Unicorn statues, now their hips consumed by the ever growing ice. It was harder to see, but there was a flash of blue deep inside the mini glacier, Yes, it was still there. . .


    Mirella nodded, and Hobgoblin fastened her headscarf tighter before nodding.

    A moment later, Hobgoblin was standing next to Sapphire. She nodded as she spotted the blue flash in the depths and concentrated.

    Sapphire held Hobgoblin steady as the strain showed on her face. Then she sighed and slumped. 'It's done' she whispered.

    Mirella teleported Hobgoblin back to the fireside, while Sapphire scooped up the fragment along with a clawfull of ice, before flying back to the edge of the ice.

    'Ice portal?'

    Mirella nodded. 'Yes, for now. We will speak with Fareeja when she next visits - we might be able to do something more permanent. '

    It was a cold flight for Sapphire. The shard of blue she held in her claws burned with cold even through her ice-hide, and she felt the flesh on her front limbs first sting, grow cold and then, more worryingly, grow numb . . . Fortunately she arrived at Mirella's closed Ice portal island before the cold started to affect her too much.

    Placing the shard in the centre of the ice world she sighed, and retreated, allowing the normal chill of snow and ice to return her body temperature back to normal. Then she returned to Mirella's dreamworld, where Hobgoblin, Goliath and Mirella were waiting for her.

    'Removing that shard has already had an impact. The ice is retreating. It won't be long before things are back to normal.' She smiled, and sipped her hot miracolate. 'I have commissioned Sebastian to send a message to Fareeja, and to establish an investigation into the shard and it's effect. Would you like to be a part of it, Sapphire?'
    'Oh yes please!' Sapphire smiled, already thinking of the experiments she would like to try out.

    Hobgoblin smiled, and studied one of the menhir Mirella had placed on her gold island. 'Fascinating. . .looks like it. . ' she muttered to herself. Mirella and Sapphire exchanged smiles. 'Thank you Sapphire', said Mirella; 'I do appreciate your help, and insight.'

    'You're welcome, ' answered Sapphire, 'always a delight to help the High Council'
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  9. #59

    Sapphire and the gargoyles

    Have you noticed? They've been in the city about a week now. High up, along the eaves of the buildings. Either staring down at the cobbled square, or staring into the blue blue mira sky. Sometimes there's one, isolated, hunched, alone; sometimes there are a few, gathered together.

    'On a visit?' enquired one mage,
    'Seeking refuge,' said another, sipping coffee at one of the little pavement tables, 'I hear they were caught in a fire . . .'
    'A fire . . ?'

    The mage nodded, and they paused, before finishing their hot drinks and going their separate ways.

    High above them a great stone head shivered and watched them go, before turning to stare into the cloudless sky. Waiting. Remembering.

    The lick of fire caressing the stone parapet it called home. The heat crackling the wooden roof beneath them, an inferno that threatened to crack, char the solid body and send it tumbling, fractured to the hot coals fuming below. . .the delicate filigree of thousands of craftsmen's work splintered and shattered in the ravenous fire as it sought to embrace and destroy its home.

    The sticky black ash and smoke coating the stone figures, smearing the non existent tears into a mess of black, the shroud of history going up in flames, the smoke signals of a sacrifice twining through the bright sky up to the heavens.

    The City lay quietly before it, the cobbles sparkling, the magic of people gathering from all around the world, both here and the world called Real Life, gathering together, to share, marvel, buy, celebrate . . .just like the other city . . .a place of magic, of people coming to worship, marvel, marvel . . .

    'Hey!' a thin voice called from below 'Welcome! Bienvenue!'

    The French broke through the threnody of memory and thought and slowly, gratingly, the stone head surveyed below.

    A slow, grating deep voice, like the sound of a mountain speaking, rumbled from the mouth

    'Would you like a wash? Vous voulez vous lavez?'

    A ponderous pause. 'Oui, svp'

    'Un moment'

    That particular ping of a spell, and the sunshine was muted, blurred, above it. Then the percussion of raindrops cascaded over

    Last edited by (Moon); 23rd April 2019 at 10:44 PM.
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  10. #60
    Darius the Druid was the one who came up with the idea . he'd made friends with the gargoyle - gave him the name of Hugo . . .and listened to the tales it told.

    Amazing tales. Hugo had watched generations of people visit the building, and had seen dramas enacted below over many many years. It spoke with Gallic longing and passion of the various tales it had witnessed as it guarded the roofs . . of love stories and marriages; of desparate situations, and grand funerals, of visitors gawking in wonder and rascals searching for sanctuary, of black garbed figures lurking in the shadows and craftsmen taking pride in glory.

    'Is all gone, n'est-ce-pas?' it rumbled in its gravelly disused voice, smoke-roughened and slow as the weathering of time, 'toute est fini, non?'

    Darius promised to find out, and left Hugo sunning at the edge of the Town Hall.

    The tent lady was his next port of call, and her crystal ball. He scried in stunned silence as he watched the destruction of the once glorious building Hugo called home, as the sparks scattered and created fireworks against the mourning night sky . . .fantastic, awe inspiring and devastating at the same time.

    Then the future . . .the building still stood! The two towers proud against the skyline, defiant against the empty shell behind them. And the conviction of the humans - the building would be rebuilt, in glory.

    Darius paused. Now, he could go straight back to Hugo and tell it, but he had a better idea . . and so he made a visit to Little Ottermont.
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