Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Wonderland House

This isn’t the first time I dreamt of this house.
I have dreamt of it so many times that I actually named it ‘Wonderland House’.
Since we are in the dream world, it is in fact, no ordinary house. It has many secret doors, going to different places and different time.
Sometimes I find doors open and at other times, they’re sealed, as if they were closed for years. Sometimes, I will walk past a door and faintly recall something I have seen from there. I will try to open it but I always fail.
I have not managed to open a closed door, ever.
There are times when they are just simply not there anymore.
In Wonderland House, you will find doors sealed in many different ways.
Once I saw the lower half of a door was covered in unfinished brick layering work. Then, there was that one time when it was sealed with uneven wooden planks on it. Sometimes, it’s booby-trapped and sometimes, if you try to open it, you will fall down towards the worst thing you can imagine. There are times when I find myself doing a U-turn when I approach the door because a lit gun cannon is waiting for anyone to get closer. I did not want to find a hole through me – even if it is a dream.

As I said, there are many ways the doors are sealed from me although I consider myself very lucky to be an occupant of Wonderland House.

You see, ‘finding the house’ is another story – getting ‘inside’ the house is another feat.
I sometimes watch various people try getting in the house and fail over and over again.

The most entertaining one to watch so far was Poncho.
The first time I noticed him, all I see is his long blue scarf trailing behind him as he was falling from the sky.

‘PONCHOOOOO!!!!’ He screams out as he gets closer to the roof of the house. He suddenly disappears and I automatically check the large fountain outside the house to see if he’s there. Sure enough, he was there, soaked and screaming.
The fountain is where you will find the people who fail to get in.

I watched him for weeks, maybe months. Every time I find myself in this dream, there will be a moment when I see Poncho screaming ‘PONCHOOOOO!!!’ and I will find him back in the fountain, soaked and screaming. He’s tried many methods, just like the others.

They used their ‘skills’, they used planes (even tried to crash it towards the house, perhaps out of frustration), they used air balloons and just plain balloons, dynamites, smashed into it with cars, trucks, oil trucks, tanks, the works. Some even tried digging an underground tunnel – nothing has worked so far.
Sometimes, it feels like I am watching an action movie rather than dreaming.

I still don’t know how I got a room in the house or how I got in – perhaps we forget the methods that we use so we cannot tell anyone its secrets.

One day, I was outside the garden, near the gate. I was smoking a cigarette, watching a bunch of zombies trying to get into the gate. According to one of the residents, a rather ghoulish looking woman who was actually quite friendly, they were lost or perhaps, one of the many desperate methods the outsiders came up with. One by one they disintegrated as they approach the gate. I did not know why I was not worried but watched them like how one would when they are watching fishes in an aquarium.  Other zombies were less of a zombie – I’m not sure how to explain it but they were more ‘active’. They were in the gardens surrounding the large fountain. They looked lost and one by one, some unknown force was beating them to the ground. I watched them being squashed to the ground as if it’s a natural everyday occurrence. Before they hit the ground, they disintegrate into nothing.

It did cross my mind whether those zombies were dreaming.

I notice from my peripheral that someone sat not too far from me with a blue scarf. Often, I don’t really pay any mind to the residents but I knew who it was. I turned to look at him and I see that he is just staring at me, then to the gate and then back at me, looking a little terrified.

‘Don’t worry about that,’ I say a little louder so he can hear me as I point at the gate, ‘Nothing can get in from there unless the house wants them to.’
‘Who made the rules?’
‘The God of Dreams, duh.’
‘Does he own the house too?’ he asks, almost whispering, as he looks behind him, taking in the majestic exterior of the house.
‘I don’t know. I never asked.’ I admitted, shrugging.
He got up from where he was sitting and walked towards me. I noticed that he’s got weird eyes. One was larger than the other as if he was put together by someone without much thought. The lower half of his face was covered by the blue scarf. As I wondered whether the rest of his face was put together as carelessly as his eyes, he pulls off his scarf to reveal a rather normal looking face except of course, his eyes.

‘My name is Poncho,’ he said as he sat right next to me.
‘Ena,’ I replied and offered my hand to shake his. This took him by surprise for a moment; he shook my hand and smiled the biggest smile with all his teeth – like the Cheshire Cat.  I was a little surprised but I didn’t flinch and just smiled back. We continued watching the fiasco outside the gates and I don’t mention that I already know his name and how I watch him try getting into the house.

How did he get into the house?

I want, no, I had to ask.
My curiosity grew by the second.
Just as I was going to ask, a shadow loomed over us.

It was one of the guardians of the house. He was grey all over, from his hair to his dress shoes. He was floating above us, looking at us suspiciously.
He told us to gather in the main hall of the house.
We have work to do.

We quickly got up and went back to the direction of the house.
I took my usual way to get to the hallway. I used the small door that no one else notices at the right side of the main door. I am going through various sizes of windows through the corridors and finally, I exit the last window and I am walking on the ceiling.

I find Poncho climbing a table, trying to get up from where I am.

‘You need to go to the smaller door but that will take you some time to find since you just got here,’ I inform him as he jumps up and down the table. ‘If you behave, maybe I’ll show you how.’ He stops almost immediately and jumps down the table.
‘Where to?’ he asks, walking back to the main door.
‘I didn’t say ‘right now’, I tell him and walk away. I know he’s got a smug look on but he follows me anyway.

When we get to the main hall, we were greeted with a room full of rabbits. Rabbits everywhere, even the ceiling. There were baby rabbits, adult rabbits, all in various sizes and colours, hopping about the room.

‘Extract them and put them together immediately,’ the guardian says as he floats past us. ‘Failure to do so may result in sharing a room with the fellow resident who is responsible for this fiasco.’
He disappears before we could protest and I found myself picking up the nearest, largest and slowest rabbit by its ears.
‘Better hurry up, Poncho. I don’t want to get kicked out of the house and I don’t think you want that either.’ Poncho was already picking up as many rabbits as he can before I could finish my sentence.
I watch him drop the larger rabbits clumsily and I could hear him swearing under his breath.
‘Dude, you have to put them on top of each other so they will stack like Russian dolls. Stack them by size.’ He shoots me a flustered look but doesn’t say anything. He picks up the smallest rabbit next to him and tries to stack the rabbit he just picked up and a middle sized rabbit together.
‘Hold up. You should start with the biggest rabbit so you can stack them more easily.’
He does as he was told and soon, he was collecting the smaller rabbits as if he was simply tossing them in a plastic bag.
‘By size, remember.’ I remind him as I look around for more rabbits on the ceiling and around the walls.

I’m not sure how long it took us to finish it but it felt like we were collecting rabbits for days. I recall seeing the sun come up and down several times. We don’t need to stop for food nor rest. We were quite the team, working day in, day out.
As I pick up the smallest and probably the cutest black rabbit, I look around the room one last time to check if I missed any rabbits. Quite confident with my work, I stacked it together with the gigantic but slow rabbit. I put it down on the floor and it looks up at me lazily.
‘C’mon, let’s head on down,’ I tell the rabbit and it nods at me. We walk down to the adjacent floor by walking down the wall. Poncho was stacking three smaller rabbits together when I reached him.
‘Is that all?’ I ask, looking around.
‘Positive,’ he says, smiling.
‘You can set it down so it will merge with this rabbit,’ I tell him, pointing at the rabbit next to me.
As soon as he puts the rabbit down, the rabbit I had hops towards it and merges into a gigantic red hare. 
‘Good,’ a voice purrs, not far from us. ‘I will be taking over from here,’ the guardian drops a small cloth that grew in size as it fell above the hare. We watch the cover fall over the hare - it continued to drop on the floor and disappeared and just like that, the hare is gone too.
I am not surprised by this but Poncho was clearly impressed, not being able to say anything but stare at the empty space.

‘I will give you a phone call, Ena,’ the guardian says, his voice echoing in the halls. The phone rings from the other side of the room. I walk towards it slowly and stared at the ringing phone for some time. Do I really want to take this?

‘It is for you, Ena. It is a reward of truth,’ the guardian says, cooing.

I listen to the murmur at the other side of the phone and it felt as if the voice was poisoning me. I struggled to stand upright and when the conversation stopped, I notice that we are in a set of different clothes and we both have earphones.

We went on a reset and soon, I was going to wake up.

Yes, I keep dreaming of that house. Often, I welcome the dream but there are times that I fear of finding small truths....

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Family Stone (Chapter 23)

Chapter 23

After three hours of going through the notebooks, diaries, books, even scrolls; Alex, Boon and Teg look defeated.
‘Okay, what do you guys have? Coz I have nothing. I’ve gone through almost everything I can read but I can’t farkin’ get shit. I can’t even do the simplest magia! How the hell do they make things still? I saw some of the symbols which I’ve drawn before but that’s about it’
‘Maybe we missed out something?’ Boon asks, trying to help.
‘Did Stēlla have magia before you both were bonded?’ Alex trying to be hopeful that she didn’t.
‘Yes Domina. Domina Stēlla had abundant resource of magia essence. She was overflowing with it. She was a seer before I met her. And people from all over the world used to travel to consult her. Not all predictions are good but her family was respected and in turn, they appreciated the people.’ Boon recalls.
‘Most of the stone keepers had magia but they only have a fraction of the mark,’ Alex says as she puts up her arm to show it to them. ‘I have a complete flower of life mark and I can’t do jack shit.’
‘Georgina had four of a mark, your Aunt Hera had half – I’m sure they used magia,’ Teg says, trying to make sense of things. ‘But let me tell you, they used their life essence whenever they use itn  . Just like your old friend, Fortesque.’
‘They do? Oh feck no!’ Alex shock at what she is hearing. ‘Does that mean….I… ?’ Alex feeling panicky.
‘No Domina, I would have felt it from the beginning and stopped you.’ Boon replies. Alex feels the nervous tension drain off her almost immediately.
‘That’s how Georgina died. She was a bit reckless.’ Teg says as he closes a book. ‘You know what’s interesting? Most of the books don’t really know about Boon or me. Most of the stories are a little out there, even with our reputation – myths, fairy tales you tell your kids at night. None of it is the same, maybe because they never met us. Most of them are just theories. Some they get from library books and such.’
‘All I can actually do is making the cabinet box bigger and smaller!’ she tells them, exasperated. ‘I’m a useless mage!’
Teg and Boon gives her a confused look.
‘Domina, why do you insist on not knowing…er, jack?’ Boon asks her, utterly confused.
‘Because I can’t do magia? That’s what I’ve been saying this whole time! Uuugghh.’
‘But you have your resourcefulness.’ Teg tells her, and flies behind the desk and picks up a voice recorder. ‘Domina, when you speak to us, what do you understand it as?’
Alex gives him a tired ridiculous look. ‘Really?’
‘Please Domina…’
‘English, Teg. I am speaking English – like right now.’
‘Alright, speak to me and Boon as I record our conversation.’
‘What are you getting at?’
‘Please Domina…’
‘Alright…alright,’ she says, putting up her hands. ‘I don’t know what you guys are up to.’
Teg pushes the record button.

‘Domina, what do you think of this house?’
‘Boon, what is the color of Domina’s hair?’ Teg asks.
‘Rainbow, like a rainbow.’
‘I like my hair!’ Alex says, shaking her head dramatically.

Teg pushes the stop button and rewinds the tape.
‘Please listen closely, Domina.’

Domina, quid cogitare istum?’
Boon, quid est color Domina scriptor capillus?’
Arcus, quasi arcus.’
‘Meum amo capillus’

Teg stops the recorder and looks at a very confused Alex. ‘If you record Fortesque, he’s speaking to you in French and you are too.’
Alex, eyes getting wider, just staring at them. ‘That was my voice. I know my voice because it sounds like a prepubescent teenage boy. But how is this possible?’ she shakes her head from side to side, unbelieving. ‘Does this mean, I’m speaking Latin now coz I haven’t really used the dictionary and Boon said he was trying to speak to me in English. And when I was at home, I was speaking to my parents in normal English and then change to Latin? Is that it? Did I make any sense? How are my parents speaking to you then?’
‘In English and I speak to them in English as well.’
“Why couldn’t you speak to me in English then?’ Alex asks.
‘Well, it’s actually your choice, Domina. Before you both were bonded, you were already speaking in Latin and you didn’t even know! How mysterious!’ Teg says excitedly.
‘Please stop calling me, Domina. I feel so so so old. Can you both just call me, Alex? Please? It should be fine since you are both older than I am!’ Teg and Boon look at each other, trying to see what each other thinks about this little request from Alex without speaking.
‘I can hear what you are both saying, now cut it out!’ she points at them, accusingly. ‘Fine. I order you Boon and Teg not to call me ‘Domina’ anymore. You will refer to me as Alex.’
Boon and Teg look at each other worriedly and sighs at the same time. ‘Boon?’
‘Y-yes, D…Alex.’ Boon is struggling, he feels like he has violated some law.
Teg is looking down at his feet. ‘Yes…Alex.’
‘Good. I feel like we are now equals. I really think we’re more of a team anyway,’ she nods towards them.
‘It will take some getting used to…Alex.’ Teg says honestly.
‘I guess it would be since my face is not something you’re used to calling ‘Alex’. But I do feel like we can’t make the sort of pact that we’re supposed to have if you’re going to second guess my nature. I’m a completely different person.’
‘You are right….Alex,’ Boon says, looking a little ashamed. ‘To tell you the truth, I did not know how to react towards you in the beginning. I was still ashamed for what happened between me and Domina Stēlla. I couldn’t protect her and now, I am a little wary of some things.’
‘Like what?’ Alex asks, curious. She doesn’t know why Boon is suddenly opening up like this. Maybe because he didn’t have to call her Domina, she thought to herself.
‘You might decide to cut me off one of these days, throw me back into the stone. I cannot tell you otherwise not to do it. I will remain your humble servant.’
‘Oh my god Boon. What part of ‘we are a team’ did you not understand?’
‘I am just letting you know how I feel. I hope you don’t think of me too forward or offensive. But if you are, I apologize and please let me know.’ Boon is now looking down at his feet, shifting his legs nervously.
Alex playfully hits him on the arm which took Boon by surprise. ‘Pssh! It’s fine, Boon. We still got a lot of work to do. We still got about another hour until dinner.’ Alex looks at Teg thoughtfully. ‘Teg, do you have anything to say to me?’
Teg thinks for a minute.
‘Well,’ he starts, ‘I don’t think I have any issues with Domina Stēlla. Maybe that she’s not as flexible but hey, just because you have the same soul essence, doesn’t mean you’re the same person! And even if you look almost exactly the same, it doesn’t mean nothing,’ he adds.
Alex smiles at Boon and Teg. ‘Thank you for being honest with me, guys. I believe it’s what I really needed to hear. I’m just a bit frustrated with this whole magia thing.’
‘Teg, didn’t you say that Alex is different even if she has Domina Stēlla’s soul essence?’
‘Why, of course. Everyone is whoever goes through the process of reincarnation. It’s still a different life, with different choices, attitudes, that’s the whole beauty of the life cycle. It’s always different.’ Teg explains.
‘If that’s the case, then Alex will go through different stages of her magia too.’ Boon concludes.
‘That’s correct!’ Boon exclaims excitedly.
‘You really think so, Boon?’ Alex asks nervous. Finally, she feels they might be on to something this time.
‘Alex went through the process of language first. Domina Stēlla learnt languages only after three years of being bonded. Alex learnt how to do resizing almost the first stage – Domina Stēlla managed to perfect that a few days before we were separated.’
‘Maybe we should check on every one’s progress? Make a timeline?’ Alex suggests.
‘No, that would be a waste of time.’ Teg concludes, ‘because it’s all different.’
‘But surely they have similarities.’
‘That is true. I just don’t want you to waste your time.’ Teg tells them, a bit embarrassed.
‘There are three of us, we should be able to go through these and make a timeline at the same time.’ Boon tells them confidently.
As they scour back through the notes on the table, they hear a ring. It must be dinner time. They don’t pay attention to it and kept on working on the notes.
They hear someone come in and hear footsteps going up the spiral staircase. It was the same young man from lunch.
‘Dinner is ready, Miss Alexandria. Sir Boon & Sir Teg will also join you at the table,’ he bows politely and gestures towards the staircase.
Alex stops writing and looks up from her work. ‘Where’s Fortesque?’ she asks the young man. ‘What’s your name by the way?’
‘John. John Smith, Miss Alexandria. As for sir Fortesque, he’s at the observatory doing his weekly errands there.’
‘Errands?’ Alex asks.
‘Yes, Miss Alexandria. He goes there every week. We don’t know what he does there but it’s really none of our business.’
‘I see. Can you take us to see him, John? Before we go to dinner? It will be very quick.’

‘Of course, Miss Alexandria. Right this way.’

(Written for 2012 NaNoWriMo.) 

The Family Stone (Chapter 22)

Chapter 22

Fortesque looks at his watch. It’s almost noon and he hasn’t heard from any of them. He feels a little anxious. He’s in the Maison de la Mer’s library, putting things in order for them; archives, diaries and books to look at. Perhaps they will ring soon, he thought. He’s been in the library since eight in the morning. Everything is in order in the house so he decided to get things ready, just in case they wanted to do their research early. There is much that Alexandria needs to know but for now, what he placed in chronological order is enough. He hopes it triggers some kind of memory that is kept within the soul essence if the family’s research is correct. He promised Hera that he will guide Alexandria through it. Hera had to do her research by herself, with a little of his help. She may not be the complete reincarnation but if she wanted to, she could have been. She was the brightest star among her predecessors, if he’s not mistaken. How wonderful magic is and how sinister it can be too, he thought as he places a large book with images on the table. He finishes organizing the last diaries of Hera. He checks his watch and it’s almost one in the afternoon.
Time goes by too fast if you’re not looking, he thought.
He crosses the room, goes down the spiral staircase and exits the room. He closes the door behind him silently and he walks towards the grand staircase, going down to the first floor. When he got to their room, he listens for a moment, checking to see if they are awake.
No noise.
Hera sleeps until the afternoons sometimes so it’s not unusual for him to wake someone up.
He knocks on the door three times.
‘Miss Alexandria?’ he calls out. He knocks three times again.
‘Miss Alexandria?’ he listens. ‘It’s almost one in the afternoon.’
‘I am opening the door, Miss Alexandria.’
He found Boon not far from the door, struggling.
‘Sir Boon? Is everything alright?’
‘Yes, it is actually,’ he sighs loudly. ‘I couldn’t reach the door because I can’t go too far from Domina. Also I tried to say something but I think my voice is too soft.’ Fortesque notice that Alex is still asleep and Teg is sleeping the end of the bed.
‘It’s all good, sir,’ he assures Boon. ‘May I open the curtains? I should get all of you ready.’ Fortesque walks towards the window curtains and he pulled one side open, the sunlight looks like waves, spreading into the room. He goes on the other side and did the same thing. The room is flooded with sunlight and it finally wakes Alex.
‘Oh my….what time is it…I slept like a baby!’ she says, yawning.
‘Give me five more minutes,’ Teg says to no one in particular, ‘maybe even ten minutes.’ Teg is snoring again as quickly as he woke.
Alex gets off the bed and walk towards the open windows. Fortesque is opening some of the windows, letting in a bit of cool air.
Alex is blown away by the view. It was spectacular. Horses can be seen running around freely from a distance. Farm animals roam the fields. The property grounds are huge and behind the manor, is the way to the coast.
‘How big is this property, Fortesque?’ she asks, as Boon stands beside her.
‘It’s about twenty eight thousand square kilometres,’ he tells her as he admires the view next to her.’
‘That’s pretty fuc…,’ she hesitates, ‘…friggin’ large property. How long has this been in the family?’
‘Six thousand years? Maybe a little more?’
‘I’m surprised the government doesn’t ask it back, or make golf courses around it,’ she chuckles.
‘Oh no, Miss, they leave us alone really. We’re like the royal family, in a sense except more incognitos.’
‘Do you have break-ins?’
‘Not even normal break-ins, Miss Alexandria. There’s a spell that will make them go back the same way they come in. It’s quite amusing to see them confused sometimes,’ he smiles.
‘I’m awake and I feel good!’ Teg announces, flying around the room.
‘I shall leave you to get ready. I shall ask Martha to prepare lunch. Please ring when you are ready’
‘Thank you, Fortesque.’ He half-bows, crosses the room and exits, closing the door behind him quietly.

Alex is staring at Boon. Boon looks back at her nervously.
‘Y – yes, Domina?’
‘I just realized something….’ Alex says as she looks at Boon, up and down. This made Boon even more nervous. What did he do this time, he thought, racking his brains.
Alex points at him, scowling, ‘YOU’RE STILL WEARING MY PYJAMAS, OH MY GOD, BOON! YOU’RE FILTHY!!!’
Boon is in shock. He looks at what he’s wearing. It’s not dirty, maybe just a little but it somehow it offends her. ’I apologize, Domina. I didn’t know I’m supposed to change it,’ he says as he quickly takes the pyjama top off.
‘Wait! I didn’t tell you to start stripping! Wait here!’ Alex half runs to the cabinet box and went through her things. ‘Here, take this. It should be your size. Don’t ask whose it is, just go and change inside the bathroom!’ she tells him as she pushes him towards the bathroom.
After a minute, there was a knocking on the bathroom door. ‘Domina? I’m finished changing.’
‘You can open the door, Boon’ Alex is fishing through her things inside the cabinet box, looking for something to wear. After a moment, there was a pause. Alex thought this was strange. ‘Boon, are you okay?’
‘Uhhh. Domina, I don’t know how to open the door.’ Alex and Teg look at each other and laugh softly.
When Alex is done with her shower and changing her clothes, she takes back the cabinet box and safely keeps it in her pouch. Teg went for a quick shower and he’s also dressed differently.
‘You have a cabinet box too, Teg?’ Alex asks, curious.
‘No. I just made it.’
‘Made it with what?’
‘The curtains,’ he says, pointing to a corner that is cut.
‘Let’s hope Fortesque misses that.’
They ring the bell and almost immediately, there was a knock on their door. A young man opens the door and gestures towards him. He takes them back to the dining hall and the food is ready, waiting for them. Alex notices there were four young ladies that are fanning them with banana leaves, pulling it gently with strings that are tied to the leaves. How posh, Alex thought. Once they are done, Martha appears before them. She tells them that she will take them to Fortesque who is waiting for them in the library. When they arrive at the second floor of the manor, Alex couldn’t help but notice that there are only two doors on the floor. Martha notices her curiosity.
‘These doors lead up to the library. And the other one leads to the observatory.’
‘The observatory?’ Alex asks, even more curious than before.
‘Yes, Miss Alex. Mistress Hera was an avid star watcher. She knows the movement of the planets and the stars well. She felt this is the closest she can get to feel their waves. She could have been an astronomer if she wanted to! She does phone those NASA people once in a while to give them anonymous tips. She is the most intelligent woman I’ve ever met but she is very kind.’ Martha sighs sadly for a moment but picks up her mood just as quickly. She opens the doors to the library and gestures for them to go in.
Alex found herself in paradise. There were books everywhere – not just books – old editions. She couldn’t find the right words. She knew she was surrounded by history, the world’s and her family’s, her family’s diaries – who would have thought that it would survive?
‘Miss Alexandria, please,’ a voice says, not far from where she’s standing. Fortesque is holding a tray of white gloves. Teg, levitating towards Fortesque, takes a pair. Boon is not sure whether he should take one. Alex suddenly appears next to him and takes a pair for her and Boon. ‘Thank you, Fortesque.’ She turns to Boon and orders him to show her his hands. She starts putting on a glove on his right hand. He starts to blush. ‘Next time, you’re going to put it on yourself,’ she tells him as she finishes putting on the right glove. ‘So you have to remember how to do this,’ she says as she finishes putting on the left glove. ‘You can touch the books, but gently, okay?’
‘Yes, Domina,’ Boon says, looking down.
‘This way, please.’ Fortesque leads them up to the spiral staircase. When they reached the top of the stairs, Alex couldn’t take her eyes off the books she recognizes. She wonders if they were first editions but that can wait, she thought and walked towards a large oak table where Fortesque is waiting for them.  
‘Miss Alexandria, you will have all the time in the world to look through these books. Surely you can read them all with no problem. These are just part of the archives which have been translated by Mistress Hera into English. The originals and the translations are next to each other,’ he points to the right side of the long table. Over here, in the middle are Mistress Hera’s earlier diaries when she was about the age of twenty-one and inherited the manor. You can look through them if you wish. She wrote a great deal and she’s been keeping records of changes ever since she was ten years old.’ Fortesque pauses and notices Alex’s fresh mark. He clears his throat. ‘Pardon me for saying this, but I can’t help but notice that you have been marked with the symbol of the flower of life.’
‘Ah, yes! I was going to mention this to you first thing when we woke up but I got distracted by the spectacular view from the room. I woke up with it this early morning. What can you tell me about it?’
‘You will find that one of your families from every generation has been marked by the flower of life but yours is the complete mark. Others had an incomplete mark,’ he explains. He opens one of Hera’s diaries and it was dated, 1967. There is a drawing of the flower of life but only half of it was drawn. ‘She only had half a mark, significant, because the others only had one or two, the most four which is Mistress Georgina, the one in the painting.’ Fortesque sets the notebook down on the table. ‘I shall leave you here to look into the diaries and the books. I will tend to the manor’s needs. There’s a bell behind the table. Please feel free to ring it if you need any help or need replenishing of your refreshments. Martha is on her way to bring you some of that now. Good afternoon.’ Fortesque half-bows to them went down the spiral staircase and they hear him close the door behind him. Alex, Boon and Teg look down at the numerous piles of books on the table.
‘We better get started, boys. We have a lot to go through and when they give you books, it’s guaranteed to be quite a trial. I hope you both like to read,’ Alex teases as she picks up a diary and sets herself down to the nearest armchair. Boon follows her, taking another diary with him. Teg, flying over the table, chose a small book, opens it gently and smiles. A drawing of him was on the book, wearing armour with a sword in hand,
‘I have to admit, they make me look good,’ he says, flipping through the book as he flies over to them.

‘Okay, let’s do this!’ Alex announces. 

(Written for 2012 NaNoWriMo.)