Once Upon a Time – Chap. 41.1

Hello all, it was so great to be back in NC for a short time and both the wedding and Easter were wonderful – I just wish time hadn’t flown by so quickly. Not quite speaking of, but if anyone finds themselves facing a long car ride alone like I did (hubby had to stay home for work so I trekked up and down I-85 solo), I highly recommend audio books. Fahrenheit 451 made the journey much more bearable – even though I was yelling at Guy Montag for being so risky in front of his wife and her friends by the time I hit Charlotte (trying not to give any spoilers if you’ve never read/listened to this novel but you absolutely should if you haven’t – it’s a dystopian novel in which books are outlawed and firemen burn them). That all being said, I’m back in the state that feels a quarter of its city streets need to somehow incorporate the word “peach tree” (seriously, Peachtree Street NW, Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Peachtree Valley Road, yada yada and goodness gracious). And that all being said, back we go with the snippets – though I can’t seem to get the usual Comic Sans font to show this time so apologies for that. Then again, I know some people loathe Comic Sans almost as much as 50+ street names with the word peach tree in them.  :o)

Hidden_Words_colored

Squawking shadows passed over hills and deserted villages that the birds themselves once resided in as people. Kirkaronus and Serena followed this unusual horde, both mounted on two horses that pulled small carts brimming with a dozen or so zombies all tied together. Behind them, some on foot and a few lucky ones on horses as well, traveled Wymer and his fellow henchmen. As they entered the desert and moved onward toward a battlefield no one could yet see, the birds continued leading like a great cloud of giant gnats, the restless zombies continued trying to escape their carts to no avail, and the henchmen continued just wishing they weren’t downwind in this parade.  

Meanwhile in an invisible castle not far up ahead…

Gwendoloena looked up from the table she stood at upon hearing the faintest hint of a knock at the parlor door, followed by a shuffling noise as though this simple action caused her visitor to almost lose balance. Her nostrils flared in revolt over a foreboding stench that threatened to become worse once the door opened and she immediately knew its other side concealed only one of two potential people. “Yes, Seth? Albert?”

The door creaked open a few inches and the latter zombie peaked in at her. “Pardon the intrusion, Gwendoloena, but could you a spare a moment?”

“Of course, Albert.” She made a smile whose purpose served to both welcome him and hide her inward grimace over the smell. “Please, come in.”

He closed the door and approached somewhat warily. “You knew it was either myself or Seth by my knocking. How? By magic?”

Gwendoloena shook her head. “Not at all. A simple act of deductive reasoning.”

The zombie’s concern shifted to a sheepish frown. “Smell that bad now do I?” He began to wobble back around. “I’m terribly sorry, I’ll open the door again.”

“No, no, it’s fine.” She held her hand up to stop him and motioned to her left. “There’s an open window over there and it’s really not so bad that I can’t manage.” Gwendoloena secretly sighed with relief that he disregarded her polite assertions of comfort and left the door wide open before making his way to the window. “But thank you. Actually, perhaps your visit is well timed. I believe I’ve confirmed something about our puzzle here that you yourself discovered.”

Albert craned his neck slightly to study the table in front of her. In its center lay the stone “puzzle,” now complete with the two remaining stones acquired from Simone and Ian. A palm-sized magnifying glass rested next to a quill upon a single piece of paper. He shook his head in confusion. “Are you saying that you’ve done some sort of scientific examination of the stones?”

“Not quite but Deigen and the others had told me earlier about a contraption they saw when first meeting you. An invention you call a black light?”

“It was my attempt to re-create a device by the same name which father spoke about in his journal.” Albert nodded with a shrug of defeat. “But I count that invention as a small success. Father spoke about being able to see otherwise invisible things with that special light’s aid. Indeed, I was able to make portions of the stone I’d found glow when placed in the purple and blue area of light that my invention created. But I hardly think that was the intended purpose of what he described. Father also spoke about ‘ultra violent’ light and I still have yet to comprehend how such a thing could be possible.” The zombie let out a sigh. “I like to think myself someone that can figure out anything with his own wits but perhaps I should just ask that Ian fellow if it makes any sense to him.”

“It’s a tool that presumably originated from his world, it’s possible he could explain the meaning behind such words.” Gwendoloena held up the stone puzzle. “But I believe you may have actually achieved the intended purpose and hearing that you revealed hidden properties of your stone with such a device caught my attention. I admittedly used more magic than science in creating my own purplish-blue light but have found hidden features as well. ” She nodded behind him. “Would you mind closing the shutters on that window for a moment? The effect seems to only truly work in darkness.”

“Ah yes, I found that the case with my invention as well.” Albert began shuffling toward the table after darkening the room, halting once finding Gwendoloena’s other hand now shined like his black light contraption upon the stone she held. “However, I would daresay I much prefer using science over blasted magic.”

“I understand, but don’t worry. Though my light here originates by a different means, I promise it is just as harmless as the one you created.”

The zombie let out a sigh while his shadowed form continued toward her. “Very well,” he grumbled, “but I hardly recall father mentioning any of the scientific wonders from his world causing smelly consequences such as myself to roam about the land. Magic is to blame for that. And not just my situation but yours as well and, say wait a minute now!” His voice took on a sense of wonder as he finally came close enough to examine the puzzle under her hand. “I didn’t see any words with my invention!”

Sure enough, the braided design of the Keepers could no longer be seen but Gwendoloena’s light revealed that engraved in the rock were simple words. Placed in a circular arc like numbers on the face of a clock, they rested on opposite ends of their contrary meanings. At the top portion was “wisdom” and at the bottom “foolishness.” On the leftmost end was “hunger” and on the right “thirst”. Between hunger and wisdom was “hate” and between thirst and foolishness was “love”. Between wisdom and thirst was “life” and between hunger and foolishness was the most uninviting word in the whole collection, “death.” Each word, completely hidden before, now seemed to generate the strange greenish glow of firefly bellies on a summer night.

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