What Do We Find?

What Do We Find?

Elf clericHail and well met, old friends and new readers! As promised, I, Dragon – in my familiar guise of an elf maiden, whose nimble fingers are more suited to the computer keyboard than are my dragon claws – will continue relating our adventure while Mistress Writer continues her malingering . . . er, I mean her convalescing.

Dawn was yet an hour away when I awoke. I heard Mistress Writer and Master Miles leave for the hospital, where Mistress Writer would be having a minor surgical procedure. I knew they would not return until late in the day.


I yawned widely and made my way to the kitchen, where I found the Foreman and the Young Hero. “You two have arisen early this morn.”


The Young Hero responded with a huge grin. “We are going to work our horses this morning. The Foreman is going to teach me more cavalry exercises.”

I smiled at his enthusiasm. “That is good news. I was hoping you could find some outdoor activities to occupy your day. Whilst you enjoy a day of dressage and flatwork, perhaps you would be so kind as to watch for the Arrogant One and the Bounty Hunter? My companions and I will be spell-casting today, and would not care to be disturbed.”

The Foreman nodded. “We will be vigilant.”

As they took their leave, the Old Dwarf entered the kitchen to break his fast. “Ah, Dwarf! I am glad you are here. Your services are needed.”dwarf-facing-right

He pushed past me without responding and reached into the cold box. He retrieved an entire ham and a wheel of cheese, then moved to the pantry.

A plume of smoke rose from my nostrils as I watched the dwarf rummage through the pantry. He finally responded, as if it had taken all that time for my words to penetrate his thick skull. “Aye? Ye be needin’ a guard on the conference room door agin, whilst ye and yer three companions be doin’ yer magikin’?”

“No, not this time. This time I need you to find the Arrogant One and keep that annoying elf from casting any magic spells within this house.”

The dwarf continued to rummage, finally extracting a loaf of bread and several containers of condiments. He seemed oblivious to what I had just said.

My smoke grew darker and thicker, and I templed my clawed hands. “Dwarf?”

“I heerd ye, ye consarned beastie! Ye knowed ye be interruptin’ me breakfast?” He grabbed another container. “Ye be needin’ the elfie ta not be makin’ his illusions, aye? Jest in the hoose? Or anywhere?”

“Just within the house.”

“Fer how long?” He gathered the food and stuffed it in his pouch, then rummaged through the cold box for something to drink.

“I am uncertain. It may be just this day, or it may be for several weeks.”

He looked at me, his green eyes wide. “Weeks?

I nodded.

He blinked, looking dazed. Then he grabbed a beef roast from the cold box, and another loaf of bread from the cupboard, and added them to his pouch.

“Ye be gittin’ word ta me when it be okay ta let the little popinjay come back in the hoose?”

“I will.”

“The elfie an’ his cohort, the Bounty Hunter, be spendin’ most o their time in the garden shed, in the loft. Thet be where ye be findin’ us.” He grabbed another beverage and tramped off without a backward glance.

I went immediately to the conference room and greeted my companions in magic, who were already assembled there. “We will not be disturbed. The Old Dwarf understands his mission, and has taken with him enough food and drink to last a normal individual three full cycles of the moon.”

gypsy-facing-right“Then we’d best hurry. That will only last the dwarf a few days!” The Gypsy grinned and waggled his eyebrows, something he did frequently to indicate he was attempting to be humorous.

From my stern countenance and the smoke billowing from my nostrils, I presume the Gypsy realized I was not amused. His cheeks flamed, he ducked his head, and he shuffled his one foot back and forth. When he spoke, it was in a mumble. “Right. Well, let’s get started.”

Stu-04-NatGal“The lad has done an adequate job.” Coming from the Sorceress, this was praise of the highest order. “We should have no trouble linking our power and sustaining the spell for as long as needed.”

The Gypsy positioned himself in the conference room, where he had access to all the components he would need. Cleric took her position in front of Mistress Writer’s office. Sorceress and I took the upper level of the house. Sorceress stood near the bedchambers and I settled my bulk between the kitchen and the living room. From there, I had an unobstructed view of the front door and the doors to the deck.

I am not at liberty to share with you the precise incantation, nor the specific components utilized for the spell. Suffice it to say, at a signal from the Gypsy – a single word shouted loudly enough for the three of us to hear – Cleric, Sorceress and I linked our power with that of the Gypsy and quickly fell into the magic. It worked like the proverbial charm.

Less than a half hour after we linked our powers with that of the Gypsy and we cast the detection spell, the conduit appeared. It glimmered into view very near my elbow, and I called to the others to let them know.strange-dreams

Before my fellow spell-casters could make their way to my side, the conduit disappeared again. Sorceress, who had only to come down the hall from the bed chambers, caught a glimpse of it winking out of sight. Cleric and the Gypsy missed it altogether.

For the next two hours, we played cat and mouse with the conduit. Every time we recast the detection spell, the conduit would appear within moments, always in a different spot . . . and it would disappear just as quickly. Finally, it appeared in the conference room near the Gypsy, who was able to cast an immobilization spell on it.

The four of us gathered around the opening of the conduit. “Your immobilization spell does not seem to have damaged the conduit in any discernable way.” I nodded my approval to the Gypsy, and started my examination of the magical passageway. At the opening of the conduit, I sprinkled some components I had previously prepared for this purpose, and recited an incantation.

“Well?” Sorceress pressed closer.

“It is the very same conduit through which the items from our world were sent here.”

Elf facing right“Well, we hardly expected to find another conduit, now did we?” Cleric spoke a bit sharper than was her wont.

I raised an eyebrow and smoke began to emerge from my nostrils. “No, we had no such expectations; however, to take such a thing for granted is to court disaster.”

“Of course, of course. I just grow weary and impatient.” Cleric raked her hand through her hair in a gesture of frustration.

“We all grow weary and impatient.” Sorceress patted her friend on the shoulder, then turned to me. “Now that you have confirmed the identity of the conduit as the one that links our world with this one, how are we to determine if we are able to use it to enter our world?”

The Gypsy spoke up. “Dragon and I have discussed this. We had considered attempting to send a note through the conduit, back to the person in our world who sent the items to Mistress Writer, and ask him to respond in kind.”

Cleric furrowed her brow. “How long would we have to wait to know if that person received the note?”

“Too long. And there would be no way to guarantee the note would be received by that specific person. We do not want to alert anyone else who may not know of the existence of the conduit.” The Gypsy shook his head. “As I said, we had considered that course of action; however, we soon discarded the idea.”

“Then what?” Sorceress frowned.

I took a step toward the conduit. “The only way to know if we can use the conduit to enter our world is for one of us to attempt it.”

“You?” Sorceress quirked an eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest.

Spring Peeper Meadow and MN Landscape Arboretum 044“Yes. I am the one best suited. I can employ my shapeshifting powers and take on the guise of a small creature. I had thought a dragonfly might remain unnoticed by anyone at the other end of the conduit. However, the Gypsy reminded me the last time I had changed into a dragonfly, I had found myself unable to hear. I could be in great peril if I arrived in our world without the use of my ears.”

Cleric’s eyes widened, and her hand flew to her mouth. “Oh, dear!”

mothThe Gypsy stepped forward, grinning broadly. “Do not fear! Dragon and I have used Mistress Writer’s magic box to research the insects in this world. The one with the best hearing is something called a greater wax moth. Dragon has familiarized herself with this creature, and will shapeshift into that form to enter the conduit.”

Sorceress frowned. “Is such a creature fast enough and maneuverable enough should you encounter any dangers?”

“Its speed and maneuverability does not rival the dragonfly, but I will be on my guard and will immediately change back to my true form if danger presents itself. Now, you must maintain the immobilization spell while I enter the conduit.”

My three companions nodded somberly and wished me well.

I mumbled a few words and started to shrink and transform into a greater wax moth. Seconds later, I entered the conduit. Halfway through the passageway, I was stopped by some sort of invisible barrier. I flew back out.

I quickly transformed back to my natural state and explained what I had encountered.

Cleric’s eyes widened. “What will you do now?”

“I will attempt to overcome the barrier with my own magic. For that, I will remain in my true form.”

“Is that wise?” Sorceress looked doubtful. “Might you not destroy the conduit?”

“I do not believe I will damage it in any way. At any rate, I believe it worth the risk.” Before anyone could argue, I shrank just enough to squeeze my bulk into the conduit. I had taken barely a dozen steps along the passageway when I was again stopped by the invisible barrier. A lengthy examination and several incantations proved it to be impenetrable.”

When I finally emerged, my companions clamored for an answer. “Did you get through?”

“No. I was unable to defeat the barrier. However, since each of us is proficient in a different type of magic, methinks each of you should give it a try before we admit defeat.”

My three companions nodded their agreement. One by one, each entered the conduit. Each emerged unsuccessful. None of us were able to penetrate the barrier.

strange-dreamsAs the Gypsy released the immobilization spell and the conduit winked out of sight once more, I addressed my three companions. “I believe we can safely and accurately report to Mistress Writer that she need fear no more. There appears to be no way any of our number can use the conduit to enter our world. It appears to be a one-way passage. I will wait until Mistress Writer has recovered from her surgery before presenting her our report.”

office-and-bookshelf-for-blog-002Later that evening, as everyone else slumbered, I stole into Mistress Writer’s office. It took me considerable time to find what I sought in that mess, but I finally discovered the manuscripts from which I and my companions had fallen into this world.

Book manuscriptI took them to the conference room and worked through the night, thoroughly examining them both physically and magically. As dawn broke, I wearily returned the manuscripts to Mistress Writer’s office.

I had much to share with her upon her recovery!

Be sure to return next week and see if Mistress Writer has recovered enough to receive my report. I shall leave the porch light on for you.

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We Look For the Conduit

We Look For the Conduit

Elf clericHail and well met, old friends and new readers! Mistress Writer is still convalescing, so I, Dragon, have once again shapeshifted to my familiar guise of an elf maiden, whose nimble fingers are more suited to the computer keyboard than are my dragon claws. This week, I will attempt to recount for you the mission I and three of my companions undertook at Mistress Writer’s behest.

For any among you who are new to our adventures, let me explain. We are a group of characters, nine in number, who have fallen out of Mistress Writer’s manuscripts. We each have memories of our old lives, lived in a world Mistress Writer has termed medieval, a world of magic and fantastic creatures. It was a world much different from this world in which we now find ourselves, a world Mistress Writer calls the real world.

While all nine of us miss our own world and our former lives, two of our number are obsessed with finding a way to return there – the Arrogant One, an annoying elf skilled in the duplicitous magic of illusion, and the Bounty Hunter, a figure skilled in silent stalking, strategic deliberation, and malicious instigation.

Those two have caused much trouble for Mistress Writer and her spouse, Master Miles, as well as for the rest of us, in their quest to return to our world and – perhaps – to introduce there the illusion of weapons and technology from this world, affording the two of them world domination.

Mistress Writer has a theory that we characters can not return to our world. She believes us to already be there, existing simultaneously in both worlds. She says the we who exist there are continuing with our lives, unaware of the we who now live here. The recent discovery of certain items, including a set of books, that were sent through a magic portal from our world to Mistress Writer seems to support her theory. Mistress Writer revealed to me the books chronicle events in our lives that have occurred since we have come into existence here, although she will not share any details.

If we accept the premise we are unable to return to our world, having never actually departed from it, our world would appear safe from the diabolical plans of domination by the Arrogant One and the Bounty Hunter. However, Mistress Writer fears that the we who exist here in her real world may be able to enter our own world by means of the same magic conduit through which the books and other items entered this world.

I, along with three of my trusted companions, seek to discover if this would indeed be possible.

Elf facing right


First, there is Cleric, an elven priestess and healer who is gentle as a lamb and fierce as a mother bear, and who possesses powers she can neither understand nor explain.



Second is Sorceress, a regally aloof member of a reclusive race, honored among her people as one of their greatest magic users.


gypsy-facing-rightThird is the Gypsy, a talented but undisciplined lad who has an intuitive understanding of magic, having learned at the knee of his witch/grandmother; but who would prefer to engage in horseplay or practice his lock-picking skills rather than study his magical craft.



Then there is me, Dragon, a most wise, clever, whimsical, and infinitely powerful member of the most magical race in our world.


In spite of our combined powers, and weeks of toil, the location of the magic conduit continues to elude us.


“We have used every incantation, every power, every potion, and every artifact at our disposal.” Sorceress mopped the sweat from her brow and sighed heavily. “Still, the conduit remains hidden.”

Cleric raked her hand through her hair in the same gesture of frustration Mistress Writer so often uses. “We have examined the locations where Mistress Writer indicated each of the first four objects from our world was found. We have also examined the site where you, Dragon, found the last of the objects, the set of books. We have found only the trace magic from the conduit at each site. The conduit itself appears to have vanished.”

The Gypsy furrowed his brow and stroked his chin. “We know from having previously examined the books and the other four items that they all came through the same conduit, in spite of having been found in various spots within this house. If the conduit moves around, maybe it has not vanished. Maybe it has merely moved again. Maybe it is preparing for another item to pass from our world to this one. Perhaps it has even transported other items that we have not yet found.”

I snorted. “So, what do you suggest? That we go through this entire house, inch by inch, hoping that while we are examining one spot, we are not missing a moving target that is jumping between other spots?”

magic energy traceThe Gypsy raised an eyebrow at me, and chuckled. “No, I suggest a directional detection spell, one which will alert us to any change in magical energy within a specific radius, and pinpoint the location of that change. We would each take a section of the house, two of us upstairs and two down. We would cast our spells simultaneously, and then wait for the conduit to announce its arrival . . . or its departure, if it is already here somewhere.”

I nodded. “This sounds like a workable concept.” I narrowed my reptilian eyes and considered the Gypsy’s proposal, seeking any inherent weakness in his plan. “We would have to link our spells, to be cast as one, so the magic energy of one of our spells would not be detected as the change in magic energy we seek.”

Sorceress looked impressed. “This may work!”

Cleric nodded hesitantly. “It might . . . but only if the Arrogant One does not cast any spells in the time we are waiting. His use of magic anywhere within our target area would cause our spell to react.”

dwarfI templed my clawed hands, and pondered the problem. “I can have the Old Dwarf guard the annoying elf, to prevent him from using any magic during the time our spell is in effect. That way, the emergence or departure of the conduit would be the only magic that our combined spell would detect.”

Sorceress frowned and folded her arms over her chest. “If we do manage to locate the conduit, how do we proceed? Finding the conduit is only the first step. Our mission is to determine if it is possible for us to use it to enter our world. Once we locate it, we must prevent it from moving again until we have the time to complete our mission.”

I sighed. “That could prove a more difficult undertaking. Until we find the conduit, we can not examine it and determine the means by which we might immobilize it without damaging it. We may have to locate it numerous times before being able to complete our mission.”

The Gypsy nodded. He rubbed his hands together and grinned eagerly. “I think I can devise a directional detection spell that will use very little of our energy. If we use a complicated spell, we may exhaust ourselves too quickly. We have no way of knowing if we need to hold the spell intact for mere moments or for days before we find the conduit, or how many times we may have to recast it before we can complete an examination of the conduit.”

Cleric wrung her hands and chewed her lower lip for several moments. “But . . . but what if the conduit does not reemerge? We have no way of knowing if whoever sent these items from our world has more items to send. If not, the conduit may not be re-opened again.”

I frowned. “If the conduit does not reemerge by the next full moon, we shall have to consider alternative means of locating it.”

Sorceress tried unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn. “Forsooth, I am weary! Sunset is already a memory this day. Mayhap we should take our rest and convene here again upon the morrow?”

I nodded and turned to the Gypsy. “Will you be able to devise a spell for us by midmorning?”

He smirked. “In the vernacular of this world, piece of cake!”

The rest of us looked at him blankly.

He sighed and shook his head at us. “Yes. I will easily have it all prepared by that time.”

I nodded. “Then, until the morrow, rest well, my friends. I will instruct the Old Dwarf in his duties to prevent the annoying elf from interfering in our task, and I will meet you here again at midmorning.”

Be sure to return next week, cherished readers. While Mistress Writer continues to convalesce, I will share with you the results we achieved when we implemented the Gypsy’s spell. Until then, I will be sure the porch light is left on for you.

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What DID James Say?

What DID James Say?

Elf clericHail and well met, old friends and new readers. I fear Mistress Writer is still unable to sit and undertake the chronicling of events. Oh, do not be unduly concerned for her – she is recovering, albeit slowly. The way Master Miles dotes on her is almost dragon-like in its virtue. Under his tender care, and with the hovering presence of our own renowned elven healer, Cleric (along with the ministrations of Mistress Writer’s human doctors), she should soon be able to return to her duties.

Meanwhile, however, the events that transpired previous to Mistress Writer’s malady are of too great an import to leave you waiting and wondering for even one more week. Therefore, I, Dragon, have shapeshifted into my familiar guise of an elf maiden (whose fingers are nimbler on the computer keyboard than are my dragon claws), and I shall attempt to transcribe here all I remember of that day.

Downstairs in the conference room, Mistress Writer was just about to tell Master Miles what James (the human companion of my dear friend, Ollie) had said about the pages of the book she had sent him by some means she calls e-mail. Their conversation was interrupted, however, by a loud crash upstairs, followed by angry voices.

When Mistress Writer and Master Miles came charging up the stairs and into the living room, they found me separating two seemingly identical dwarves who were attempting to annihilate each other with axe and shield. I grasped each by the scruff of the neck and held them fast.

“What’s going on now?” Mistress Writer stood there, hands on her hips, scowling at me and my captives. She appeared very cross, even for her.

“Git this great beastie offen me!” One of the dwarves struggled valiantly to free himself from my iron grasp.

“Aye! Call offen yer scaly pet!” The other dwarf struggled, but not as fiercely.

Mistress Writer raised an eyebrow and gave me that aggravating look of hers that demanded an immediate explanation of the situation.



“That annoying elf.” I knew no further explanation was needed. Mistress Writer’s Arrogant One had obviously ignored her warning not to engage his power of illusion to create the image of any of her other characters.


“Which is which?” As clever as she is, Mistress Writer was unable to determine which of the dwarves struggling in my grasp was real and which was illusion. I, on the other hand, being a dragon and possessing immense magical power of my own, could easily tell them apart. I released the real dwarf and opened my great maw as if to swallow the other. The fake dwarf immediately disappeared in a shower of sparks.

The real dwarf stood sputtering like the proverbial wet hen, his language initially not fit to repeat here in polite company. He finally loosed his frustrations by taking a rather ineffectual swipe at me with his axe. “Ye great blitherin’ beastie! Ye incompetent hornie-toad! Ye be darin’ ta claim yerself capable o sensin’ magic? Ye shoulda knowed all along I be the real dwarf, ye colossal nincompoop!”

“I did.” I blew a large cloud of smoke in his face and then turned from him to face Mistress Writer. She shook her head and did her best to look annoyed with me, but I know she understands the relationship shared by her Old Dwarf and me. Had I not tormented him, he would have been offended.

“For what reason did my Arrogant One create the illusion of my Old Dwarf?” For one so clever, sometimes Mistress Writer can not fathom the simplest of situations.

“Causin the ridiculous little popinjay be knowin’ he can na best me in a fair fight, so he be creatin’ sommat what can – another me!” Her poor Old Dwarf could hardly choke out the words, coughing and sneezing away the last of the smoke I had blown at him.

“And he wanted to bash your skull for what purpose, exactly?” Really, perhaps I have overestimated Mistress Writer’s cleverness.

Her Old Dwarf just gaped at her, unable to respond.

“Their longstanding feud? The fact that your Arrogant One is a born troublemaker? Because your Bounty Hunter instigated him again?” I tried to offer the suggestions in such a way as to preserve Mistress Writer’s dignity.

“Right.” Mistress Writer raked her hand through her hair in that annoying gesture of frustration she employs so often. Yes, I have definitely overestimated her cleverness.

“Well, no harm done, I guess, so we can deal with the little twerp later.”

I raised an eyebrow at her, but nodded. “Of course.”

“Well, if the situation here is under control, I’m still waiting to hear what James had to say!” Master Miles voice was strained and practically dripping with typical human impatience.

Mistress Writer nodded. “Indeed. Well, James said . . . ” She paused and looked around, as if waiting for something to once again interrupt her pronouncement. When nothing occurred, she sighed with relief and continued, her words tumbling out with great speed. “James said he was unable to read a single word of the pages I e-mailed him. What’s more, he took the liberty of showing the pages to a trusted friend, a linguist who speaks, reads and writes countless languages and dialects including several ancient tongues. That person could not decipher a single word, either.”

She paused again, this time to catch her breath. “So, the books must have been enchanted so I alone could read them.”books

Master Miles gave his wife a blank stare. “Uh, honey? You aren’t the only one who can read them. I can, too, remember? If they were enchanted so only you could read them, how is it I am able to read them, too?”

Mistress Writer returned his blank stare, then shrugged. Good readers, did I really ever describe Mistress Writer as clever?

I cleared my throat, but before I could speak, her Old Dwarf chuckled. “Eh, lass, can ye really not be figurin’ thet out?”

Mistress Writer shook her head.

“Wale, I mighten not be understandin’ o most magics, but I be thinkin’ it be acause o the greatest magic o all – the great bond atween ye two. Ye not only be husband and wife in name and in fact, but ye two share the bond o deep and abidin’ love o two soul-mates. Ta me way o thinkin’ thet be a lot stronger then any other magics!” Her Old Dwarf winked broadly at the pair, who both blushed prettily and nodded their understanding, while I tried not to wretch at such naked sentimentality.

Quickly, before they could get all lovey-dovey, I cleared my throat again. “Yes, well now that that little mystery has been settled, I will be off. My companions and I believe we are close to a breakthrough on the other matter you wished us to explore. We hope we will soon have an answer for you.”

Good readers, I hope you will return again next week. If at that time Mistress Writer is still unable to assume her duties, I will once again relate to you all that I know. And, of course, we will leave the porch light on for you.

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Hold That Thought (just a little while longer)

Hold That Thought (just a little while longer)


Miles and I were finally settled in my office with the books. Before we continued reading the first one, the one featuring the image of the Innkeeper’s talisman on the first page, Miles placed his hand on my arm. “Honey, with all the drama in the conference room, you never did have the chance to tell me. What did James have to say about the e-mail you sent him? Could he read any of the pages of the book?”

“Ah, yes, the phone call.” I leaned back in my chair. “Well, James said –– ”

The conversation was interrupted by a commotion at the front door. Someone rang the doorbell several times in quick succession, then rapped loudly on the door and hollered something unintelligible.

Miles sighed. “Hold that thought.”

Easter 128That was three hours ago. Miles had gone to answer the door, and he had called down to me, “Honey, it’s the home delivery service with that big order of frozen food.” I had quickly placed the books back in the magic container Dragon had created for them, then headed upstairs to help Miles.

“Do we really need this much food?” Miles was staring at the huge chest freezer, which we had packed tighter than a circus clown car.

“You’ve seen my Old Dwarf eat. Do you really need to ask? Besides, it was on sale. I got it all for 65 percent off retail.”

Miles frowned and scratched his head. “Well, this food better last a good long while. I think we should put a lock on the freezer.”

dwarf“Eh, laddie, ye be hurtin’ me feelin’s.” My Old Dwarf entered the room, and his eyes lit up when he saw all the food. Miles quickly slammed the door of the freezer, and stood in front of the appliance as if to guard its contents. My Old Dwarf chuckled, then turned to me. “Lassie, methought ye be wantin’ ta knowed thet I seed yer Bounty Hunter in the conference room. The fancy box thet the scaly beast made fer ye ta keep the books safe was still shut tight, but I seed thet yer Bounty Hunter be having a right great interest in it.”

I blanched. “The books. How does he know where they are?”

My Old Dwarf shrugged. I grabbed him and Miles and we went to the conference room. My Bounty Hunter was gone. I was about to open the chest to check on the books when Miles pushed past me and sat on the trunk. I frowned. “Do you mind moving, honey? I need to check the books.”

box for books

Miles raised an eyebrow and jutted his chin toward my Old Dwarf. He lowered his voice so I had to lean in to catch his words. “Are we sure that’s really your Dwarf?”

I thought back to lunch earlier that same day, when my Old Dwarf and my Gypsy had dined with us and some of my other characters. Later, we had discovered that the two of them had been mere illusions, and none of us who shared the meal with them had realized they were fakes. I frowned and raked my hand through my hair.

“Old friend, could you go fetch Dragon for me? I need her here when I open the box.”

My Old Dwarf grunted and shrugged, then left the room.

“If he comes back with Dragon, we know he’s real. If not, he’s probably an illusion, although I would be surprised if my Arrogant One continued creating illusions of the other characters after I warned him off.”

Miles sighed.

“What’s wrong?”

“Conversations like this still make my head spin. If he comes back with Dragon, we know he’s real. You are talking about a character from a series of books you wrote. How can he be real?”

I chuckled. “Yeah, sometimes I have a hard time understanding it all.”

Miles stood up and gestured toward the chest. “While we’re waiting to see if he was real or illusion, why don’t we check on the books?”

“Good idea.” I opened the chest. “Looks like all four books are here. I would have been surprised if my Bounty Hunter had been able get to them. Dragon told me only she and I would be able to open the chest. Still, it’s best to check.”

“Indeed.” Dragon entered the room with my Old Dwarf in tow. The large beast narrowed her reptilian eyes, and tiny puffs of black smoke erupted from her nostrils. She started to reach for the books, when I let the lid drop.

“Oh, sorry! I lost my grip on the lid. I hope you didn’t get hurt!”

Dragon growled, and the black smoke grew thicker. “Careful, you clumsy creature!”

I raised an eyebrow. “I am a bit klutzy today. Perhaps you should open the chest yourself.”

Dragon glared at me. “I see no reason to open it again. You have already ascertained that the contents are undisturbed.”

“I have. Now I would like to ascertain that the two characters standing here are Dragon and my Old Dwarf, not two illusions. Open the chest, please.”

The ersatz dragon and dwarf dissipated in a shower of sparks.


Miles gaped at me. “How did you know?”

I shook my head. “I didn’t. Not until I dropped the lid and it almost nailed Dragon’s hand. But I couldn’t take the chance.”

“What are you going to do now about your Arrogant One and your Bounty Hunter?”

“I’m not sure. I’m just so tired of their antics. I’ll figure out how to deal with them later. Let’s just lock the door now, and continue reading the books.”

Miles nodded, but then tilted his head and rubbed his chin. “Hey, wait a minute. You still haven’t told me what James said. Could he read the pages from the book or not?”

“Well, when he called me at lunchtime today, he said –– ”

There was a deafening crash upstairs, followed by angry voices. Miles and I exchanged worried looks, then said to each other, “Hold that thought.” We ran out of the conference room and up the stairs to see what had happened.
Elf clericHello, new readers and old friends! This is Dragon. I have shapeshifted into my familiar guise of an elven maiden, whose fingers are better suited to the computer keyboard than are my normal claws. Mistress Writer asked me to offer her apologies for this week’s blog (which I actually wrote in her absence). She recently underwent a minor surgical procedure, which has greatly limited her ability to sit and write. She sincerely hopes she will be able to return next week with more of this adventure for you. Until then, as per her request, I shall leave the porch light on for you.


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