If you wish, and have the moment, continue on with Wizard Will’s fairy tale of deceit and decent cheese…

–—————-

Alice and Edward have always been two of my most favorite people. They hate each other so much, that they have managed to remain together for twenty years. When I lived in Nevaar, there was a Willow tree in the center of the town square. This was quite some time ago. Back when the bobble heads weren’t bobble heads, and they all knew how to drive the vehicles they loved so much. Seems they didn’t love that freedom enough to try and keep it.

But the Willow tree was large. Very, very large. So large, in fact, that a drinking locale was built within it. It was called the Wandering Willow, because its roots were brave enough and strong enough to grow the two-kilometer distance to the nearest river (it really was a big tree).

And that was where I met Alice and Edward, deep in the throes of burgeoning hate. It was a splendor to watch, it was. But the most amazing thing about them was that, for all their eccentricity, not only did they stay out of the Eye of the Most Wise Ones, they knew absolutely everyone who could fool those Wise Ones.

Alice and Edward were very clever indeed.

So, one fine evening, the widow, the witch, Woodcutter Wally, Alice and Edward, and one fine wizard (me), all gathered in the Wandering Willow to make our acquaintances.

“My name is Loreli,” stated the weeping widow, with surprising strength in her voice.

She went on to inform us that she was with child, and had been served notice by the Most Wise Ones that it would be most wise to terminate the pregnancy.

Alice and Edward clutched one another in touching hatred at the news. A child was but a dream for them, so this news of rampant ‘termination’ was unendurable, in their minds.

Wally promptly informed us of what he had learned lately. The wine-loving lady (with a soft spot) had let slip that in truth, these unborn babes were being collected.

“What?” My wonderful witch Bryyn did not approve of this either. “This sounds suspiciously similar to what the Trolls tried to do. Do you not remember, Will?”

Indeed I did. The Trolls’ efforts to become taller and more murderous very nearly caused the demise of their kind. I shall nothing more on that.

“But this is much more organized.” I stated with wizard authority. “Trolls have difficulty deciding what side of the bridge to pee over, not to mention they do not have the self control it would take for them not to eat all those embryos.”

“There are no Trolls among the Most Wise Ones.” Alice smoothed down the front of her fine dress. “Word from the Spice Route, thought, has it that our world of low-wattage inhabitants are showing side effects from all the good things our Most Wise Ones try to give us.”

Wally put forth one of his very handy fingers as a teaser of further ‘news’.

“And Bart the Baker… you know… he has that amazing shop over on Thermal Drive? Oh, he has the best little breads for cheese, but you must get to him early or they are all gone.”

“Cheese? What are you going on about? There is no such thing as real cheese anymore…! ‘Tis nothing but reconstituted city waste, it has never been within spitting distance of a goatasaurus or bovine-rex.” Edward looked hatefully at his Alice, who nodded in nasty agreement.

Woodcutter Wally had the most devious look then. He knew something they didn’t.

“Aahh, but if you travel through the western corridor of the city, and hang a north where the six veins split, you will soon find yourself in a very strange part of our suffering Nevaar. And there, on the corner of Deefunkt and Gryme is a small market, one of the only ones left.”

“Ooooh! I used to play in that part of the city! Back when I was a sweet young thing…” Bryyn twirled a lock of hair as her eyes became misty with memory. “The Most Wise Ones have a most difficult time making sure they take proper care of all their charges in that part of the land. Before the Wise Ones, much of our food came from the land in those parts. The people their did not like giving up their freedoms to choose.”

“Troye used to talk about that! He would tell me about when he was young, and his mother would bring him there to explain what had been before.” Widow Loreli weeped gently again, but continued in her recount.

“It had already changed when Troye was young, but in his mother’s youth, the lands were green and burgeoned with the vegetables of their labors. The immense Saurians rarely came near the volcanic springs surrounding the fields, but the food was the richest the people of the day had ever seen.”

“You speak truth, Widow. And—” My voice dropped dramatically. Theatre was a required class to graduate as a fully functional wizard.

“And— they say that the Lord of Hours comes from there! That he was formed by the smoke of the springs!” I was rewarded by at least three sets of widening eyes. And did I dream, or did the lovely Bryyn have a look of respect in her regard of me? If only…

“Yes… indeed yes. Weeping Widow Loreli, to save your baby, you must see the Lord of Hours.”

Alice was a hatefully beautiful lady, and the Junk Shoppe showed just how much affection she had for disastrously useful nonsense. The odd, the tattered and the abandoned would certainly be found here, and occasionally, something useful as well. More often than not, whenever the need to replenish my laboratory on the deep side of the mountain would arise, I could find just the perfect bowl, vial, or Paddywhack for that special concoction. Bobble-heads like concoctions. So do Trolls, though I don’t encourage their visits, if it can be helped. The Caracara, on the other hand, don’t need the theatrics I offer so well. They are of the sensible-clever sort, and prefer their ministrations sensible-like.

They are so dull.

Widow Loreli had left the Wandering Willow to collect what few belongings she had. She had a grand voyage ahead of her. To meet with the Lord of Hours would require ordeals of strength, tests of courage, suspensions of belief…

Oh… forgive me.

It is not such an expedition, not so far at all really, but there is some danger involved.

“But why? Edward, explain it. Why do they want all those unborn children?”

“Alice, you are hateful with your questions. Especially with questions I cannot answer. But,” Edward looked up from the piece of junk he attempted to clean, “I do think we can find the answer. What do you think, Wizard Will, do we dare travel to that part of Nevaar?”

I thought he would never ask.

“Edward, I thought you would never ask.”

? … and on it goes…?

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