Quadurne: Dwindling Magic


 It was Sunday at the Trent household, and all four of the Trent siblings were quite busytrying to avoid being bored. Neil, Molly, Gail and Jay all were so afflicted, but also wereengaged seriously in keeping their mother from finding out how bored they were; she would have been only too happy to remedy their boredom by giving them a long list of chores to do! Instead, they hid discretely, searching for something on their own with which they could occupy themselves.

In truth, had the weather not been so dismally awful, they would have been outside, safely hidden in the woods which adjoined their home. Instead, the drip and splash of an almost constant rainfall left them trapped, and potentially at the mercy of their mother’s desire to thwart any hint of idleness. Molly had peeked cautiously out of her room, listening for any warning that might signal the approach of her mom, before she slipped out, and tip-toed to her brother Neil’s room.

“God! I feel like a prisoner in an old Nazi POW camp!” she sighed, leaning back against the closed door, observing her brother, who was sitting with his back towards her, reading something on his desk.

“Any sign of the Gestapo?” he asked flippantly, without turning.

“Mother? No…thank heavens! I could hear her harping at dad downstairs. With luck, she’ll be busy with him a long time!” Molly sighed. At sixteen, she was a slightly tall and slender young woman, who had developed a fine wit and sense of humor, which complemented Neil’s more dry and cynical sense of things. He had just turned seventeen, and was two years ahead of his sister in school, owing to her being held back a year in third grade, due to a wickedly awful series of illnesses; there was nothing wrong with her intellect, in spite of Neil’s occasional teasing to the contrary. The two were close enough in appearance, both sporting dark hair and large brown eyes, as well as having been blessed, (or cursed), by an abundance of freckles, that they were constantly mistaken for twins. They were also enormously close emotionally, being in effect best friends. This often made them into fellow conspirators, especially in regards to evading their mother’s annoying tendencies.

“Whatcha reading?” Molly asked, stepping up close behind Neil.

“Sure you want to know?” he replied, turning enough to glance at her. Molly frowned at this comment.

“I didn’t ask just to hear myself talk…even though I have a marvelous voice!” she snipped. Neil gave her a baleful look, before she erupted in giggles, unable to keep a straight face.

“You’re a snot!” he sighed. He nodded at the open book, which was bound in what appeared to be worn and badly faded leather. “Care to guess how old this is?”

Molly shrugged, leaning closer to observe. She suddenly gasped, her surprise evident.

“That’s German? Where did you get this?!” she demanded.

“In the attic…it’s in a box of the stuff that came from our grandfather’s estate.” He looked firmly in her eyes, gesturing for her to lean closer. “It’s a book of magic spells!” Molly’s mouth dropped open, and she stood several moments before finding her voice again.

“Oh, go on! You’re pulling my leg! Aren’t you?” she asked this last with much less brash determination, in a small voice. Neil had completed three years of German in high school, and was becoming reasonably proficient at reading German, even if some of his pronunciation might be a bit suspect.

“Nope. Tell me what stands out!” he insisted, gesturing at the book. Molly reached around him, and casually flipped through the pages.

“It’s all hand written! None of it’s printed! Did…our grandfather…did he…write this?” she wondered, fascinated.

“Not exactly. Actually, it was written by our great, great grandfather, back in eighteen ninety seven or there about. Wolfgang S. Reichmann… Apparently, our illustrious ancestor was a magician…a real one. This is his book of spells and enchantments!” Neil informed her. Molly moved back, blindly feeling for Neil’s bed, to sit down. Her mouth seemed almost stuck in the open position. Neil turned his chair ninety degrees so he could face her.

His sister finally managed to swallow hard, and got her mouth closed. “Does…does it tell…how…I mean…how do people…become magicians? I didn’t think there were any real ones!”

Neil grinned wickedly. “I don’t know if there are any real ones either, but Wolfy certainly wrote like he believed he was!”

“Wolfy?” Molly asked.

“Wolfgang…Don’t give me that look!” he added, seeing Molly’s harsh look of disapproval, which she always managed to unleash on someone when she thought they had uttered something mean, stupid or inappropriate. “Sorry! I just think it’s cute…Wolfgang…Wolfy…” Molly shook her head.

“That’s no way to respect our ancestor…especially if he was a magician! You’d better be proper…you might get cursed or something!” she suggested. This made Neil frown.

“Maybe you’re right!” he finally sighed. “Want to hear what he wrote…for future readers?”

“Sure…can you actually translate what he wrote?”

“Pretty well…his handwriting is very precise and almost formal…that helps!” Before he could begin, there was a soft knock on the room door, which by its style indicated that their sister Gail was outside. Molly leaped up, and swiftly opened the door, finding both Gail and their youngest brother Jay together.

Molly gestured for them to enter and be quiet. Neil gave them a brief explanation as to what they had been discussing; this left them speechless. Gail at twelve, and Jay being eleven, were both somewhat in awe of Molly and Neil, but this did not normally preclude them from acting bratty and annoying at times, in spite of their tendency to worship their older siblings. They sat quietly on Neil’s bed, eager to be included and hear what he was about to read.

“I wrote this part down in English, so I could read it off easier,” he began. Dear descendant, here within you will find a most amazing and useful compendium of charms and spells, elucidated and set forth by me for the undertaking of what ordinary folks call magic. I am not the greatest practitioner of this marvelous craft by any means, but I have managed to effect some noteworthy results during my days of study.

Perhaps the greatest spell that I might recommend for your consideration, is the spell of journey, by which I was able to come to this world from my place of beginning, that being the land called Quadurne. I should have returned to my native land, but did not, having been smitten by a young woman named Helga, whom you might recognize as being my wife. Neil paused at this point, glancing up at his audience. “That is certainly true…I looked it up in our family records! Wolfgang and Helga are father’s great grandparents,” he informed them. Molly found this quite exciting.

“So at least that much is true?” she said, grinning. “How is that word written; Quadurne?”

“Exactly as I said it…I’m assuming he just wrote it phonetically…I rather doubt there’s a real word for it in German!” Neil suggested, grinning.

“Quadurne…that has a neat sound to it…doesn’t it? It gives me goose bumps! Imagine…a magic land!” Gail excitedly gushed.

“How about you all let me finish reading?” Neil suggested. In spite of some grumbling, they all became quiet.

Earth has been good to me, but honestly, I would have gone back to Quadurne, had it not been for Helga. I’ve missed that place, a land where everything is done by magic! I confess that here it gets very dreary, having to do everything by hand, instead of just gesturing, and having something magic take care of it! I especially miss the Moobini, those magic entities that tickle and make you laugh when you hold one!

Still, I made my choice, wanting to please Helga, and here I am. I would hope that someday, one of my descendents would care to learn, and journey to Quadurne, to at least see what a wonder it is. You will find the instructions straightforward and reasonably easy to master, as long as you follow the instructions precisely! Best wishes, your patriarch, Wolfgang.

Neil was instantly assaulted by all three of the siblings, clamoring to talk, all eagerly suggesting that they should do exactly as Wolfgang had suggested, and try to journey to the magical land of Quadurne.

“Shhhhhh! You want to have mom up here?” he quickly hissed at them, causing them to be silent. His frown soon gave way to an impish grin. “I gather you’re all in favor of trying to go to Quadurne? Are you willing to get bent over and paddled by mother, when we get back…assuming we don’t get eaten or lost and actually do come back?” he pointedly asked. This gave them pause, but only for a moment.

Gail sighed loudly. “Won’t be the first time we’ve had our butts lit up, now will it?” she observed, grinning wickedly. “I think that would certainly be worth it…don’t you?”

“Sure do!” Jay agreed. “I want to see a Moobini! If a grown man still misses one, it must be pretty awesome!”

“Can you translate the right spell?” Molly wondered. Neil gave her a bit of a frown.

“It’s the first one in the book! To do it, we need to scrounge up a bunch of things!” he informed them.

“Great! We can hunt for what we need this afternoon…mom and dad are going to be gone this evening…they’re attending that charity social in town. We’ll have the house to ourselves!” Molly declared.

“Perfect! Here…lets divide up the list, and everyone take something to go search for. Just be sure you don’t let mom see you and start asking questions!” Neil cautioned.

The four siblings spent the rest of the afternoon discretely slithering around the house, avoiding their parents as much as possible, and searching the garage, basement and attic, all un-noticed, for items on the list. As each was located, it was surreptitiously transported to Neil’s room, and stashed in his closet.

By the time their mother yelled upstairs for them to come to dinner, they had completed their task. This had left all of them quite pleased, actually, almost too obviously pleased.

“Why are all of you so happy?” their mother suspiciously inquired, as they sat down at the table.

“That’s a crime?” Molly blurted out, then wished she hadn’t.

“Watch your attitude, young lady!” her mother quickly snarled. Molly rolled her eyes, after noting that her mother wasn’t looking at her.

“I’m sorry! It’s just…we’ve just managed to keep ourselves busy and occupied all afternoon…since we couldn’t go out and do anything. We tried to not bother you or dad…” she added, wanting to earn points for being unobtrusive, and not shy about pointing out their sacrifice. Her mother was less than impressed.

“That’s what obedient children are supposed to do…not cause trouble!” she sniffed. Their father considered saying something, but glancing at his wife, he thought better of it, and merely shrugged. He did this frequently.

“Well, we did our part today!” Gail insisted, displaying a growing tendency to not take much abuse from their mother, at least when she could get away with it. She got a harsh stare, but no further comment from their mother, which Gail considered a victory. She had learned to avoid noticing her mother’s looks. The others all had to work hard to avoid grinning, pleased by Gail’s pluck; they were all more than tired of their mother’s overbearing complaining and abuse.

When dinner was over, the siblings eagerly cleaned up, and did the dishes, eager to free up their mother so she could get ready and depart; the sooner the better! Before their parents had even backed the car out of the garage, they were working to rearrange Neil’s room, to get enough space on the floor to set up the required arrangement of things. Molly studied the small drawing Neil had made, which showed a large square, composed of smaller squares. The small squares were about eight inches on a side, and alternated red and white, like a checkerboard, except that the entire outer row was all red.

Molly had cut all of these out of fabric, with Gail’s help, and had sewn them together into a large cloth, that measured almost eight feet on a side. There were thirteen rows of thirteen squares, and the central square was black. Neil instructed the girls to spread this on the floor. They discovered that it wouldn’t fit.

“Well, nuts! Now what?” Gail cried. Neil considered this a moment before suddenly snapping his fingers.

“Let’s take everything up into the attic! There’s plenty of room, and if we shut the door, maybe mom and dad won’t notice anything, if we aren’t back before they get home!”

“What if we don’t come back?” Jay suddenly wondered aloud.

“You got cold feet?” Gail demanded, always willing to tease her younger brother.

“No! But…” he fell silent, suddenly reluctant to speak. Molly came close and knelt down in front of him.

“Jay…we don’t even know if this will work! It probably won’t…but if it does, we’ll all be in the same boat! Anything has to be better than being here and bored…or having to listen to mother bitc…uhmmm…complain. Right?” she said, correcting her less than acceptable comment mid sentence.

Jay managed to smile and nod, and Molly gave him a hug.

With the large cloth of squares positioned, they began placing candles, large fat ones, set on small plates, which would catch any melted wax, at the exact points designated by Neil. He was consulting his drawing constantly.

“Wolfgang said the positioning of these is critical…a fraction of an inch will cause the spell to fail…” he trailed off, concentrating. When all the candles were in place, they added the other odd items, specified by their magic mentor; a pair of scissors, placed in the third row on the fifth square, a watch diametrically opposite, and on the black square, a pair of black socks.

“Socks? Are you sure this is a magic spell, and not a laundry list?” Molly teased Neil. “Really…socks?!”

“Black socks! He warned that using white socks would have some evil effect, and you’d not want to experience whatever it is! They have to be crossed just so, too.” he added. Molly merely shook her head. Neil glanced at her. “Don’t criticize…are you a magician?”

“I’m not so sure Wolfgang was either!” Molly sighed. “I suppose we’ll find out soon enough. Now what?”

“Light the candles…all but the four on the white squares surrounding the black one, then we have to sit down, aligned on the diagonals, with one foot touching the black square.” This took only a few moments to accomplish, and Neil checked each one, making small adjustments to their positions, before he also sat down, foot extended, and the magic book cradled in his lap. “Ready?” he asked. His siblings all nodded. “Keep completely quiet, while I read the spell!”

Neil read his way through the German words, having already practiced. He sounded reasonable sure of what he was saying, and even though the others had no clue, they all felt the hair on their necks standing up. Their mouths dropped open, when the four unlit candles suddenly began to burn, and when Neil, in a loud and commanding voice intoned the word, Hasramariea! they felt a pronounced lurch, and the sensation of being on  a roller coaster, before they were plunged into complete blackness. Before they could even scream, they emerged into the light, to find themselves sitting on a pattern exactly like the one at home, but they were in a strange room, being stared at by two surprised men.

“By golly! You’ve done it Spiffle!” the shorter of the two declared to his taller companion. “You’ve captured a whole group of master magicians!”

Gail glanced at Neil and Molly, her face pained, and sighed heavily.

“I think we should have been content to be bored!”


Heiromus Spiffle was already having a bad day, and it was only slightly past breakfast! Normally, this was his favorite time, the three or four hours betwixt his morning meal and lunch being especially productive and calm. Being the village of Nackin’s resident magician required a certain calm and contemplative bearing, and Spiffle was certainly fond of so being. In fact, he only occasionally gave in to an excitable state of upset or fluster, which his assistant, Mr. Elgamire Hubbler, referred to as Spiffle’s womanly attitude, although he made sure to never refer to this in the presence of his own wife Simlee, or for that matter when Mrs. Spiffle was present!

Still, there was a certain, appropriateness about that term, as any who observed the frazzled magician was likely to agree. Spiffle seemed to descend into a state of hand wringing, pacing and near female histrionics when he was badly upset. He was more than so engaged when the door popped open to admit Mr. Hubbler to Spiffle’s magic studio on that particular morning.

“Oh heavens…what’s happened?” Hubbler demanded, his voice mostly an exasperated sigh, upon noting Spiffle’s state.

“What’s happened? What’s happened?!” Spiffle replied, his voice growing more high pitched with each repetition of his response. “Let me tell you what’s happened!” the tall and lean magician replied, shifting from wringing his hands, to clasping them behind his back, as he continued to pace. “I had words with that…that…annoying gasbag, Cleper, while I was out for my morning stroll. Imagine…he actually insinuated that I’m a bad magician!” Spiffle yelled, his face livid from his upset.

Hubbler was aghast; Tremont Cleper was the village Guardian of What’s Proper.  Insulting the village magician was certainly not a proper act, or was it?

“Did he actually say you’re a bad magician?” Hubbler wondered, wanting to get Spiffle to be more precise. The magician had a slight tendency to exaggerate at times.

Spiffle snorted, staring balefully at Hubbler. Finally, after a brief pause, he sighed, and continued.

“Well, not exactly…but he clearly intended to!” Spiffle declared, sticking his nose firmly in the air. Hubbler coughed, to keep from laughing at Spiffle’s haughty manner.

“Well stop the hints and speculation, and tell me precisely what was said…you do get a bit carried away at times…” the more portly Hubbler suggested impishly.

“I do no such thing!” he insisted loudly. “Do I?” he added, suddenly less sure.

“A bit now and then,” Hubbler dryly suggested. “Now, what happened?” Hubble asked kindly. The two had been working together since their teenage years, and were quite close; their disagreements were few and of little substance.

“Ummmm,” Spiffle began, considering his memory. “I was strolling around, as I’m wont to do, and when I passed by Cleper’s garden plot, he was already out, fiddling with his plants. He had a couple of quanaria with him, letting them do all the real work naturally,” he declared, referring to the magical plant tenders that everyone used, “and just as I stepped up to say hello, one of them conked out! Just like that! No warning or anything…just kaput! Now if one of my quanaria quit on me, I’d assume I forgot to put it out to recharge…wouldn’t you?” he demanded of Hubbler. His assistant nodded.

“Well, we all forget at times, and that’s certainly no big deal, but instead of declaring that, he says, Ah, Spiffle, my quanaria is dead…how about you fix it? Now do I look like Womfritz to you?” the angry magician said, referring to Hercomer Womfritz, the village fixer, who actually serviced all of the magic beings and entities. Hubbler, tried to resist smiling.

“I assume you told him that was what Womfritz does?”

“Well naturally, although I must admit, I’d not have thought Cleper was ignorant of that understanding!”

“So what did he say to you then?” Hubbler wondered.

“He said that all the magic things seemed to be accursed, and becoming unreliable…needing to be fixed constantly! That’s when he said, seems to me our magician could fix that…if he’s on the ball!  How snotty was that?!” Spiffle demanded, clearly wounded by Cleper’s apparent lack of faith in the magician.

“My…that was rude even by Cleper’s normal standards!” Hubbler suggested, understanding why his friend was so disturbed. A close observation of Spiffle suggested that a more profound problem might be bothering him.

“There’s more?”

Spiffle looked extremely disturbed, reluctant to look at Hubbler.

“When…when I came back here…I was so upset…I just wanted to hug a Moobin, to get myself in a better frame of mind. You’ll never guess what happened! My moobin just quit on me! And I know it was fully recharged! I ran it over to Womfritz’s place, to have him look it over…” Spiffle stopped suddenly, clearly disturbed by what he had discovered.

“Yes?” Hubbler prompted.

“His place is just filled with magic things! Moobini, Blinkin, Quanaria, Mouschie…he says more and more are stopping, and need to be serviced! He’s just swamped!” Spiffle had paced himself close to Hubbler, stepped close enough to grab the man’s arm.

“We’ve got a problem!” he whispered, sounding near to panic. “I’ve never seen anything like this…neither has Womfritz!”

Hubbler was startled by Spiffle’s seeming near terror. He gestured at all the magic books and manuals lining the shelves around the room.

“Surely you have the answer…you are a magician, right? I can’t imagine we don’t have an answer to what ever is the problem…yes?” Spiffle looked even more nervous.

“I have no idea what’s in most of those books! We’ve never had a problem like this, nor a reason to even read what’s in all those! I know how to do everything we’ve ever needed, can fix the big things…the ones Womfritz doesn’t do…but this….I have no idea why things are not working! They’ve always worked! Doesn’t matter what it is, you set it out at night, before bed, and it goes off on its own. By morning, its back, ready to do what ever it does just fine! I don’t recall Womfritz having to fix any one thing for years and years! Now, they’re quitting every week or two…some every few days!”

“How do you know that…Womfritz?”

“Assuredly…but I asked a bunch of other people on my way back here, too. They’ve all noticed it; at least when you ask they do,” Spiffle sighed.

“Well…that’s a fine deal! What if everyone starts demanding that we fix the problem…it is a problem…isn’t it?” Hubbler asked, stroking his chin.

“Well holy drabit! Of course it’s a problem…especially if we can’t do doodely about fixing it! They’ll run me out of town…and likely you too! Then where would we be? You don’t suppose there’s anymore demand elsewhere for a bad magician and his assistant than here, do you?!” Spiffle harshly asked.  Hubbler shrugged.

“Maybe it’s time to read some of the books?” he suggested, grinning at Spiffle. “I’ve had to dust all of them for years…there must be a reason why they’re here…well, besides making you look well read and smart!” he added. This garnered him a wicked frown from Spiffle, before the magician ‘s shoulders slumped.

“It’s not like we’ve got a lot of other options, at least without having a clue what we need to do…” he sighed.


They started at opposite ends of the book shelves, slowly opening and examining each book in turn, searching the table of contents, if there was one, for guidance as to the subject matter inside. The titles seemed much less forth coming and helpful.

A Compendium of Magic words, and Their Esoteric Virtues,  Advanced Frible Calibration, On the Usefulness of a Tuned Tweesin…do you have any idea what in Quadurne these are even talking about?” Hubbler asked at one point.

“Hmmmmm…tweesin and fribles are…things Womfritz uses to fix the magic things…I had no idea you could calibrate or tune them! Actually, I have no idea what calibrating or tuning even are!” Spiffle sighed.

“Is all this stuff real?” Hubbler marveled, glancing at Spiffle. “How come we have no idea what it is?”

“Maybe we’ve lost some things,” Spiffle whispered, reluctant to consider this. Hubbler glanced at the hundreds of books, which seemed to be mocking them.

“If they’re real, we don’t know squat…do we?” he suggested, loath to admit this.

“Apparently not…” Spiffle sighed, feeling much less inclined to be outraged by Cleper’s earlier comment.

They took a break for lunch, both going to their respective houses to have a bite with their wives, who eyed each suspiciously.

“Something’s bothering you?” Neeandee asked Spiffle as they sat eating.

He shrugged, reluctant to encourage his wife’s questioning; she was quite good at conducting an inquisition when warranted.

“We’ve encountered a professional…hmmmmm… question, and are attempting to research it,” he offered, hoping this was enough to avoid more snooping. He was wrong, and after several well placed questions, Neeandee had elucidated his predicament exactly.

“You have no idea what to do…do you?” she asked, kindly. Spiffle merely sighed helplessly.

“None at all. That’s why we’re going through the books,” he confessed, embarrassed to be so handily discovered by his spouse.

Hubbler was doing no better at his house.

“You mean neither of you have any idea what’s in all those books?” she demanded, flabbergasted at this news.

“Not much…no. We’re trying to rectify that now,” he admitted. Simlee giggled at this.

“You do realize how deliciously amusing this is?” she asked, grinning wryly, having had to endure many displays of Spiffle’s self importance over the years. Her husband had also succumbed to this vice at times.

“Are you trying to make me feel like an ass?” he asked. Simlee smiled wickedly.

“Only because you’ve acted like one upon occasion!” she confessed. “Do we really have a problem? All the magic things seem to be okay to me…” she wondered, curious.

Her husband explained what they had finally noticed, about the increasingly unreliability of the magic entities. Simlee was surprised by this, but upon reflection nodded.

“I think that’s true…at least judging by how much more frequently I’ve heard people complain about their wamadooe or mouschie stopping. Our moush quit again last week!” she exclaimed, suddenly finding this more sinister than she had before.

“Just don’t yak to all your friends about it…at least until we figure out what to do!” Elgamire suggested.

“You sound like you’re begging!” she teased.

“Maybe because I am?” he whispered, disturbed to be in such a position.


When they returned to their labors, they silently plowed through several dozen more books each, before Mr. Hubbler suddenly exclaimed, “That’s it!”

“You found the answer?” Spiffle asked, excited.

“Well, not exactly…but I found an illustration of your floor, and there’s a bunch written about it!” he admitted. “Here!” he said, sliding the open book towards Spiffle.

Holding the place with his fingers, the magician glanced at the book’s title.

“Power Nodes in Transit and Distance Locomotion, by….W. S. Reichmann…hmmm…why does that ring a bell? Oh well, lets see what this is!” He turned his attention back to the place he was holding, studied the illustration, then hoped up, to observe the floor.

“Good heavens! You’re right…it exactly matches the pattern in the floor. You know…I tried to paint over that…and no matter what I used, the design seemed to bleed right through…like I’d never touched it!”

“Almost like magic?” Hubbler suggested, grinning. Spiffle frowned at this, shaking his head. He began scanning the accompanying text, soon became excited.

“Hubbler! This is how the master magicians traveled! You set it up, and position yourself just so, and zoom…you’re where you want to go!”

“But we never go anywhere!” Hubbler countered.

“Well, not by using this…we get around on the Blinkin or Urbanal…maybe we’d go someplace interesting, if we could do it like this suggests,” he speculated, staring into space, mesmerized by the idea.

“Spiffle! If this is how the masters travel, could we do something to…catch one…you know, have one sorta stop in here…and maybe tell us what we need to do, to fix things?”

Spiffle was speechless a moment, mouth open.

“Hubbler…that’s the most brilliant thing you’ve ever thought of! I think it might work!” He returned to his reading, desperately scanning the paragraphs and mumbling to himself, while Hubbler watched, idly turning pages in another book.

Finally, Spiffle began making notes on a sheet of paper. When he was finished, he handed it to Hubbler.

“Here…find these…” he insisted, giving the list to his assistant. Hubbler mumbled softly as he read through the list, looking quite perplexed.

“Black socks? Seriously? I’ve seen some strange magic, but that takes the wamadoo!” he sighed.

“I didn’t ask you to editorialize…just find them…we need help, and I’ll do anything I have to do to get it. I assume you’d hate to be run out of the village too?” the magician suggested wickedly. Hubbler merely nodded, and went to find the items on the list.

He returned an hour later, carrying a basket of artifacts, which he presented to his friend.

“Excellent! They seem to be what the book called for. Here…help me set them in place!” he instructed, pushing a table out of the way. They made short work of placing the items, nearly identical to ones being placed elsewhere in a different realm.

“Now, it says to light all the candles but the four white ones…” Spiffle whispered.

“Any idea how long it might be before someone drops in?” Hubbler asked. Spiffle shrugged.

“I have no idea…I suppose it depends on how many Magicians are needing to go somewhere…”

They stood, waiting, then grew tired of standing, and pulled up chairs, to sit. Spiffle looked in danger of nodding off, by the time Hubbler whispered, “Look at that!” as the four white candles began to burn.

“Oh, my!” Spiffle exclaimed, jumping to his feet, to be joined by Hubbler a second later. There was a sudden moment of utter blackness, and when they could see again, their eyes were greeted by the visage of four utterly shocked young people; the Trent siblings had arrived.

Hubbler uttered his declaration, praising Spiffle’s effort, and the two men, arm in arm, began excitedly dancing in jubilation. Molly sat, shocked by this, more than by having actually proven that the magic spell worked.

“They square dance here?” she commented, reminded of this by the men’s stepping. “Where are we at?” she moaned.

“You are in Quadurne!” The tall and skinny man, Mr. Spiffle, intoned, smiling wickedly. He stepped in between Neil and Molly, and plucked up the black socks, and one of the white candles, which he blew out.

“We need your assistance, and until you help us, you won’t be going anywhere else!” he advised them.

Gail, with arms crossed, shook her head sadly. “All this bother, and we end up with a version of our mother!” she sighed, rather bitterly.


Gail’s proclamation proved a bit harsh, or at least premature. After their shock wore off, the siblings finally all looked at each other, and shrugged in mass. They rose to their feet, wary and still amazed.

“What or where is Quadurne?” Molly managed to ask.

Spiffle looked to Hubbler, frowning. He seemed even more perplexed than usual.

“How can a master magician not know where Quadurne is? It’s right here…where we are. Where are you from?” he asked, suspiciously, “if you’ve never heard of it?”

Neil looked at Molly, before speaking.

“Actually, we just came across the name… Quadure…in a book of magic spells that was written by our grandfather! We’re from Earth! He claimed that he had come to our world from here…Quadurne, but he said nothing about where that was!”

Spiffle was nodding his head, looking pleased. A glance at Hubbler, who was looking raptly curious, gave him pause.

“Eh? What’s on your mind? I assume you’re astounded by my brilliance?” Spiffle wondered. Hubbler, who was thinking nothing at all along those lines, managed to cough, rather than laugh impolitely.

“I was wondering who their grandfather was?” he intoned.

“Oh, yes! An excellent question!” He turned back to the fur youth. “Well?” he asked.

“Actually, he was our great grandfather…Wolfgang S. Reichmann,” Neil managed to say, before Spiffle interrupted.

“That’s him!” he fairly shrieked. Seeing Hubbler’s blank look, he sighed. “The author of that book I looked at! You know…the one on power nodes, that we found the pattern in!” He turned his gaze back to Neil. “Apparently you are the descendents of a very knowledgeable magician! I knew it!”

“But…but…we aren’t…I mean…”

“Oh yes you are! Don’t act all modest and retiring with me! I’m sure you have all the requisite skills necessary to give us a hand with our magic! Don’t make me use a wamadoo on you!” he sniffed.

“What in heaven’s name is a wamadoo?” Jay wondered. Spiffle and Hubbler both broke into unrestrained laughter.

“Stop! Stop! That’s just too much!” Spiffle managed to gasp, after several moments of unabashed mirth. When he finally got himself under control, he smiled. “This is just marvelous! Not only are you great magicians, but you have the best sense of humor! This will be so much fun!” he insisted. The Trent siblings looked at each other apprehensively, certain that they were in the hands of a complete lunatic. Gail started to say something snide, but Molly nudged her, shushing her with a finger to her lips, where neither Spiffle or Hubbler could see.

“Can we see what it looks like here?” Neil asked, wanting to buy time.

“Oh, certainly! Come with me! he suggested, leading the way out of his studio, into a short hallway. Hubbler brought up the rear. Spiffle opened a door, and gestured them through, with a flourish.

The four siblings stepped out onto a flat, semi covered deck. There was a railing around the open part, and shifting closer, they noted, much to their shock, that they seemed to be a long distance above the ground. Holding the rail, to steady themselves, all four stood, entranced, with their mouths open, mesmerized.

“Oh dear God,” Molly managed to whisper.

They found themselves looking over dozens of strange…dwellings? Certainly, they were some sort of structure, each different, multi-colored and…odd.

“This is crazier than the Hobbit holes…you know…in Lord of the Rings!” The buildings were funky and looked like something from a children’s book of fairy tales, each large, and perched on a tall, slender…pole or tower.

“It’s like a village of giant toadstools, with fairy castles perched on top!” Gail managed to declare, finding this enchanting, and much to her liking.

“These are all…houses?” Molly asked, curious and unsure.

“Oh, absolutely! “I’m sure you can tell that it’s magic that holds them up!” Hubbler suggested.

“Of course!” Gail sighed, in a voice that would have sounded snide and sarcastic, had she not been so enthralled.

“What’s that?” Jay wondered, pointing at a structure off to their left. It seemed oddly built, as if a dozen disparate buildings had been piled halfway against each other.

“Oh…that the seat of civic affairs…you know…where all the records are kept,” he added.

“Like a court house?” Neil wondered.

“What’s a court house?” Spiffle wondered.

“A place where the courts meet…to have trials…to determine if someone’s guilty of a crime or not!” Neil suggested, having to keep going, seeing no sign of comprehension on Hubbler or Spiffle’s faces.   The comment about guilt finally got a spark of understanding.

“Oh! That’s what we use a wamadoo for…to tell if someone’s lying!” He was suddenly aghast. “You don’t have wamadoos on…where’s that place you’re from?” he asked, sounding embarrassed to have forgotten so soon.

“Earth. And no, we don’t!”

“Oh, my! Dear me…how do you know…do people not lie there?” Spiffle asked, feeling a twinge of moral inferiority at the very idea. Molly laughed.

“Oh no…there’s lots of lies told. We just have to…grill someone, until they tell the truth. Spiffle glanced at Hubbler.

“Remind me never to volunteer to be grilled whatever that is. It sounds unpleasant and likely painful.” Gail grinned wickedly.

“Oh, trust me, it is!” she said, before Molly nudged her with her elbow, frowning harshly.

“Does this…village have a name? Neil asked, eager to learn as much as possible.

“Well of course! This is Nackin…out that way is Calder, and then Harn. Back the opposite direction, is Woosh, and off to the south,” Spiffle gestured over his shoulder, are Poville and Musen! They’re all much like Nackin, in size and people,” he added.

“What’s in between all the villages…farms?” Molly wondered, unable to see clearly past the odd houses.

“What are farms?” Spiffle wondered.

“Places where you grow food…and animals,” Neil replied.

“Oh…not exactly. We have fields for that close to the village, and then it’s mostly nature the rest of the way…until you get close to the next village!” Hubbler handily answered.

“What’s that way?” Gail wondered, pointing north, in the only direction so far unremarked.

“Oh…that’s not something we talk about…Altimon is that way. Just forget about that!” Spiffle replied in a hushed voice. The man sounded plainly terrified of whatever he was referring to.

“Sorry!” Gail quickly said in a hushed voice. She had detected Spiffle’s strong, panicked upset, and was startled by it, so much so that she resisted her normal tendency to say something snippy.

“Some things are just best left alone!” Spiffle declared, glad to not have more questions.

While they were finishing their viewing of the village, and Hubbler was answering questions, Spiffle went inside, and used his drabbit to talk to Neandee, his wife, advising her that the four master magicians would be joining them for dinner. He neglected to tell her they appeared to be children, or at best young adults.

By the time he returned, they were eager to do something else.

“Why don’t we go and meet my wife? She’s fixing dinner for all of us tonight! Her name’s Neandee,” Spiffle advised them.  While he tidied up, Hubbler took his leave, going out of the magic studio, and disappearing into a small room. He didn’t reappear. This captured Jay and Gail’s interest, as Neil and Molly were focused on Spiffle’s room.

When the magician led all of them into the small, windowless room, and closed the door, they were quite curious. Molly almost shrieked, when the floor seemed to drop out from under them, and her eyes were still wide when they stepped out the reopened door, on to the ground outside the tall, round tower that supported the magic studio.

“Never seen a magic elevator?” Gail swiftly snickered at her frazzled sister, who suffered from a moderate fear of heights to begin with.

“Brat!” Molly hissed discretely, given Gail a wickedly unpleasant look. Gail stuck her tongue out, and then ignored her sister.

“This way!” Spiffle called over his shoulder, stepping briskly off. They were soon at his door, having been eyed by several curious neighbors, who all waved, and said hello, but asked no questions.

At his house, they repeated the process, backward, of entering the small room, and zipping handily up to Spiffle’s abode.  Hearing them arrive, Neandee came to greet them, wearing a flour covered apron. She was shocked into immobility by what she found, having expected four much older men.

“These?!” she asked, wide eyed.

“Absolutely!” Spiffle declared proudly. His wife merely shook her head sadly, and shrugged.

Neandee took the girls with her to what seemed to be a kitchen, even though Molly and Gail could recognize little that seemed analogous to what they considered normal kitchen implements.  After watching a few minutes, Molly asked where she might find a bathroom, or toilet. It took a moment for Neandee to comprehend what she needed, and then she smiled. “Of course.” She was led to another small room, which held what she guessed to be a sink, since water poured forth when she accidentally waved her hand near it. There was also an odd device, which seemed maybe to be a toilet, in that it had a basin at chair seat height, with a wide rim, reminiscent of a toilet seat. This was perched on a spindly post.

“That?” she asked Neandee, incredulously.

The older woman found her timid reluctance to be cute and amusing.

“Sit on that, and do what you need to. When you’re done, wave your right hand up like this, and that will be that!” she said. She departed, leaving Molly with her urge and more questions than answers. Afraid she would end up embarrassing herself, she noted that the basin held nothing.; no water, no sign that anyone else had ever used it. It was shiny, white, spotless, and had no hole or drain. None. Feeling completely foolish, she perched her bare bottom, and did her business. It was then that she noted the fact that there was nothing even remotely resembling toilet paper in sight.

I sure hope this is the proper way!  she thought, when she was finished. Feeling utterly foolish, she waved her hand; several things happened almost simultaneously, none of which she was prepared for. First, she was suddenly unable to shift or move. Something invisible held her completely restrained. She felt an unbelievably weird sensation on her bare bottom, not unpleasant or painful., but what she imagined having a wet mop swiped over one’s bottom might feel like. This caused her to shriek loudly, an instant before she felt herself released. She wasted no time leaping up, and noted that the basin was again spotless, her stinky contribution vanished. A quick check revealed that her bottom was likewise clean, perfectly spotless, and perfectly dry.

When she got her pants up and fastened, she emerged to find everyone staring at her. Gail couldn’t resist ribbing her.

“I gather the Quadure potty works a bit different than what you’re used to?” she said smugly.  Molly leaned close, and whispered to her quietly.

“I dare you!” she said more loudly, crossing her arms, and staring at Gail.

“I’m not chicken!” Gail declared, heading for the bathroom. She disappeared, and in a couple of minutes, Molly grinned pleasantly, when Gail’s startled shriek emanated from  behind the bath room door. Gail emerged, red faced, and contrite. She gave Molly a hug, before looking up at her.

“You win! That was weird!” she sighed, as Molly giggled.


Dinner was a pleasant affair, the four Trent siblings hungry and curious. None of the names of the dishes made sense, and even when they asked, the answers proved no more helpful. They all agreed that the food, though different, was quite tasty and good.

When they were done eating, the young people carried their dishes to the food preparation room. They watched, spell bound, as Mrs. Spiffle put everything in a large open box, and when she said, clean, all of the dirt and food disappeared as if by magic.

“Well of course its magic!” she informed them, when Neil mentioned it. “Everything here gets done by magic!” she added. “Of course, I’m certain a master magician like yourself can tell that!” she suggested, winking at him. This struck him as odd, but before he could inquire what she was hinting at, Spiffle interrupted.

“Let’s go back up to my…uhm…magic workroom, and chat!” he suggested. He sounded determined, and Neil and Molly glanced at each other, expecting they would be harangued more about whatever it was that Spiffle expected them to do.

When they reached the magic room, they were quickly proven correct.

“Ahhhh…now, here’s the problem!” he began, walking around the checkered patch in the floor, pacing with his hands behind his back.

“Everything here works by magic; always has, and we assume, always will. Certainly since I was a boy, nothing has changed. Occasionally, one of the magic things conks out, and Womfritz…he’s the village fixer…he does whatever a fixer does, and the thing works like new again! Sometimes I have to do a thing or so, to take care of odds and ends, but by and large, everything does what it’s supposed to. But…” here he hesitated, glancing at them with a look of worry bordering on terror. “Recently, things have started…breaking down more often. My moobin conked out just yesterday, and that’s when I discovered that all sorts of things are in a bad way!”

Neil grinned at Spiffle’s manner, guessing the truth of the matter.

“You’re the village magician, and if you can’t fix things, people won’t respect you?” he said softly. This shocked Spiffle, and embarrassed him, that someone so young could see his dilemma.

“Yes! That’s why I summoned you! Look, I don’t like to…beg, but I’m desperate! I surely don’t want to be run out of town!” Spiffle sighed.

“Mr. Spiffle…we’d love to help you, but we really aren’t magicians!” Molly said, trying to sound sympathetic, while being honest. Spiffle was horrified for a moment, then got a look of utter stubbornness on his face. He crossed his arms, and sniffed.

“Well! You can be stubborn if you like, but you aren’t going anywhere until you help us…and that’s final!” he declared, sounding determined. “Across the hall!” he commanded, pointing at a door. Neil opened it, stepped in. They found themselves in an empty room, at least as far as furniture was concerned. There were a dozen box like things sitting around, but nothing else.

“You can sleep on the floor, until you decide to co-operate!” Spiffle intoned, before slamming the door. Gail wasted no time in slyly checking it, but it seemed to be locked.

“Poop!” she sighed, turning to the others. “He’s worse than mother…she might paddle us, but she’s never locked us in our rooms!” she declared mournfully.

“At least not yet!” Molly suggested, grinning slyly. “Wait until we get home! If we do,” she added mournfully.


The four siblings looked over every feature of the room, simply to have something to do. Gail leaned against an oddly colored patch on one wall, and found herself almost shoved down, when a door suddenly opened. Another small bathroom, complete with sink and odd toilet greeted them.

“Oh, you girls should love that!” Neil snickered. Molly slapped his arm for his impudence.

“Don’t be so mean! You’re lucky you get to stand to pee!” she angrily grumbled, not looking forward to having to repeat her use of the device.

“Why are you complaining? You don’t have to even wipe your butt? That sounds like the lazy man’s paradise!” he laughed. Molly grinned wickedly.

“Just you wait!” she insisted, winking at Gail, who was likewise grinning.

They had two windows, which opened and closed, even turned opaque, at the merest wave of their hand. This fascinated all of them.

“I love this!” Molly declared, forgetting their predicament. “We’re really here, in a land of magic!” she gushed, hugging Gail from behind.

“Oh, yes, it’s quite nice and exciting, other than for us being prisoners!” Neil sighed. They finally tired, and sat down, leaning against the walls. Gail was busy teasing Jay, who mostly ignored her, being used to her efforts to get a rise out of him. Molly and Neil had being quietly talking, wrestling with what to do, when they heard a slight noise from the hallway, along with what sounded like giggles. Everyone held their breaths. It had started to get dark outside, and the room, facing north, was well shadowed. There was a click from the door, before it swung open.  Two dark shapes entered, tentative and quiet. Suddenly, an overhead light began shining, which was bright and annoying. Everyone present seemed to gasp simultaneously, before one of the entering figures ran to the windows, to opaque them with a quick hand swipe.

The Trent siblings beheld a boy, a teen much like Neil, who sported short dark hair, a somewhat tee shirt looking garment and what looked like shorts. He was also bare foot, as was the other visitor, who seemed to be a girl, This was confirmed when she giggled, and turned around, from where she had closed the windows.

Neil was utterly captivated by her smile, wide and unrestrained. She had a cute nose, was shapely, and tall. That she had ears that seemed almost elfin, being slightly pointed, made her even more attractive. Her hair, which he thought was short, was actually put up behind her head. She was wearing a close fitting dress, that came down to her mid thighs.

“Hi! I’m Myangee…and this is my best friend, Edume! You met my father…Elgamire…Elgamire…Hubbler?” she repeated, when they all continued to look blank.

“Oh…yes! Mr. Spiffle’s assistant!” Neil sighed, amazing himself that he could still talk; he was smitten by Myangee’s appearance, finding her delightfully cute and sexy. “How old are you?” he wondered.

“Fourteen…and Edume is sixteen! We hear you’re great magicians?!” she declared brightly.

‘So we decided to sneak up and see you!” Edume suggested, sitting down next to Molly.

“I wish!” Molly sighed, looking pained. This necessitated a long explanation of what they had done, in coming to Quadurne, and how their day had gone so far. Edume and Myangee sat, spell bound, listening, occasionally exchanging small grins, at the mention of Spiffle’s name. They clearly had their own, private thoughts regarding the magician.

When they reached the part about being locked in the room until they came to their senses, and agreed to help, Myangee burst out laughing, unable to stop with mere giggles or snickers.

“What’s so funny?!” Gail demanded, still not sure what she thought of their visitors.

“Spiffle! Look, we do adore him…honest! He’s such a sweet old fart…but he can be the most pompous gasbag at times!” she said, laughing.

“We gathered that,” Gail sighed, disapprovingly.

“Does he let you come up here?” Neil wondered. Myangee, suddenly looked guilty.

“Not exactly…we sorta…snooped…and learned how to…unlock the door…we come up here to talk, and watch the sky turn colors…sitting on the pok,” she admitted, gesturing toward the deck the siblings had been on, before hiding her face, which had turned a nice shade of pinkish red. Neil found this adorable.

“Never been caught?” Neil wondered.

“Nope. Spiffle would yell and throw a fit, but that’s all!” Edume suggested. “We don’t mess with any of the magic stuff…” he sighed.

“So…are you…boyfriend, girlfriend?” Molly wondered, curious, and suspicious that this was so. Why else would two teens of the opposite sex sneak off together? Edume and Myangee looked utterly dumbfounded.

“What’s that?” Myangee asked, perplexed. Neil and Molly exchanged glances, before tackling the explanation of dating, as it existed on earth. The two Quadurne teens seemed astounded.

Myangee looked at Edume, looking much like a deer confronting bright headlights might look.

“Really? But why?! We get married at eighteen, when we become adults, to whomever our parents have chosen for us. You don’t?! You…have to…pick…choose…find your…own?” she struggled to get this out, almost shuddering at how wrong this sounded.

Upon hearing this, it was Neil and Molly left sitting with open mouths.

“Wow! That hasn’t been done on our world in like…forever!” she whispered, stunned. There was an awkward silence, before Edume glanced at Myangee.

“Let’s show them what’s in here!” he suggested, climbing to his feet. He gave Molly a hand up, and Neil did likewise for Myangee.

A swift set of gestures, caused openings to appear in the walls, and platforms to slide into view. Each held a soft fabric wrapped cushion, much the size of a twin bed. Opening another compartment revealed a supply of covers and pillows.

“This beats sleeping on the floor!” Jay sighed.

“The fun will be if you get up, and put everything back away before Spiffle gets up here…he won’t have a clue!” Myangee suggested, showing them what to do to reverse the process.

They were debating whether to go out on the deck, or the pok, as Myangee and Edume called it, when both of the Quadurne teens looked shocked.

“Someone’s coming up!” Edume hissed. “Come on!” he ordered Myangee, and they quickly exited the room, locking the door behind them. They ducked out into the darkness, on the pok, and hugged the wall, hoping to be unseen, should anyone peek out.

Meanwhile, the Trent siblings all picked a bed, and sat down primly, as if nothing was amiss. When the door opened, to admit a very surprised Spiffle, followed by his wife, who was carrying a tray, he nearly shrieked.

“I knew it! You do too know how to manipulate magic! You can’t fool Heiromus Spiffle!” he proclaimed proudly! The kids glanced at each other, keeping their thoughts to themselves.

“We brought you a snack,” Neandee suggested, sitting the tray down on a large square boxlike object. “I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, before you turn in,” she informed them kindly.

Spiffle, nodding to himself, and mumbling, turned to go out behind his wife, At the door, he grinned wickedly, shaking his index finger at them.

“Tomorrow we need to get to work! You’ve got magic to fix…and no more of your nonsense about not being magicians!” he scolded them.

“Yeeessss Mr. Spiffle!” Gail sighed, sounding quite sarcastic, but Spiffle only heard her agreement.

“Good girl…that’s more like it!” he said, pleased, as he went out.

“You’re losing your edge!” Molly suggested, playfully. Gail was normally more than adept at being wickedly cutting and sarcastic when she pleased.

“Well, it’s not for lack of effort!” Neil suggested.

After ten minutes, the door opened, to admit Edume and Myangee. “Come here! she whispered, gesturing. She gestured towards the door to the pok, and they all went quietly out.

“Oh…my…” Molly managed to whisper, when she reached the edge, and could see down into the village. There were hundreds of small points of light visible, glittering. They cast tiny pools of illumination, but did not stop them from seeing the flickering of fireflies, flitting thorough the area. Even more astounding, in the distance, an enormous moon was rising. “It’s beautiful!” she managed to say, astounded.

Molly found her self standing close to Edume, slightly in front of and to the side. With the setting of the sun, it had gotten chilly, and she shivered a bit. As if by instinct, she moved slightly closer to him, and vaguely felt him put his arm around her, pressing her close against him. When she finally noted this, she was embarrassed, but was reluctant to move away. A small peek to her left showed Myangee similarly close to Neil.

Edume finally broke the spell, by speaking to Myangee.

“We should go…before they start looking for us!” His friend sounded not the least pleased, but sighed mournfully, before agreeing.


When their visitors had finally slipped away, the siblings sat, enjoying their snack, and talking quietly, trying to decide how to best deal with Spiffle’s impossible request.

“If we say no, and insist we have no idea what we’re doing, we’ll likely be here a long time!” Neil hazarded.

“Well, duh! That’s a brilliant observation!” Gail countered. “But just how are you going to fake being a magician?”

“I don’t know!” Neil quickly sniped back at her. “We need time…maybe if we can figure out some things, all this would make more sense. Everyone here knows how to make things…happen!”

“Except us? Look, I managed to…poop, in what passes for a john, but I have no idea how it works, how it makes the poop disappear, how it wipes your butt! None! That it does, my butt can attest to; it’s the how I’m clueless about!” Molly sighed.

“But is that magic?” Neil suddenly wondered, looking disturbed by his own words.

“What do you mean…is it magic? I did my business in a…container, that has no hole, no outlet, and what I put in it just vanished? How is that not magic?!” she demanded.

“What if it’s technology?” Neil wondered.

“That’s some crazy technology!” Gail nearly yelled, her memory of what her bare butt had experienced proving hard to overlook. Neil was grinning at his sisters.

“You two don’t think about much stuff…do you?” he asked, teasing them. He was in danger of having both girls jump on him, and tickle, before he held up his hand. “Listen…I know you both have used an outhouse…right?”

Both made a face, and Gail pinched her nose for effect. They both nodded. “At the state park,” Molly admitted, “stinky!”

“They’re like that. Now that’s technology…primitive, I’ll grant you. But, you put your…contribution in, and it composts…eventually.

“Mostly it turns to stink!” Gail suggested, none too kindly. Neil grinned at this.

“Some stuff does leave as a gas. Now, follow me. The toilet in our house is a more advanced technology, in that water and pipes are used to move the nasty stuff across town, where it’s processed. You poop, and pull the handle, and the poop disappears. You understand what’s happening, so it isn’t a mystery, and doesn’t seem like…”

“Magic!” both cried in unison.

“Then maybe all the magic here is some sort of really advanced…technology?” Molly wondered, seeming bemused by this. She suddenly frowned. “But why wouldn’t Spiffle and everyone else know that?” she asked, finding this an awkward objection.

“I have no idea!” Neil admitted, reaching for another bite of goodie to eat. “But, perhaps we can figure things out, if we can get Spiffle to let us explore and study the problem. We aren’t going to accomplish anything locked in here!”

They noted that Jay had lain down, and was sound asleep. Gail gave them a funny look, before shrugging, the reason why becoming plain when she got up and stomped to the bathroom. She closed the door, and Neil and Molly waited. A very loud gasp, signaled that she was finished, and a minute later, Gail emerged. She turned, looking harshly back into the bath, and loudly complained, “Stupid toilet! I’m never getting used to that!” she grumbled, before slipping onto her bed. It took all of Neil and Molly’s will power to not laugh at her.

They had turned out the lights, except for a dim one in the bath, and with the door pushed to, the room would have been dark. They had turned the window partly clear, to watch the large moon, which Myangee had told them was called Ceamkin, named such for a warrior woman of lore.

Gail was quickly snoring softly, and Molly slipped from under her covers, to go sit carefully on Neil’s bed.

“You awake?” she whispered.

“Naturally…why?” he whispered back.

“You’re thinking about Myangee, aren’t you?” she teased, and was pleased to hear a sudden intake of breath, that confirmed her guess. “You’re smitten!” she added, and giggled. Neil made no comment.

“What do you think of their odd way of…you know…finding someone to marry? That’s pretty crazy…isn’t it?” she asked. Meeting only dead silence, she sighed. “You want her, you’d better be working hard to get on Mr. Hubbler’s good side!” she suggested.

She quickly found her self on the floor, as Neil turned over, and shoved her butt handily off the bed.

“Neil! Don’t be so mean! I’m just teasing! Oh, God…you’ve got the worst crush on her, don’t you?” Molly asked.

“Good night!” she was told, coldly. Molly, grinning in the half light, climbed to her feet, and sat back down on the bed. She leaned close, gave Neil a hug.

“I’m sorry I’m such a brat! I do love you!  But…you know we have to go home eventually,” she sighed.

“Maybe I’ll stay here!” he said, and turned over, with his back to her. This made Molly feel incredibly insecure.

“I’m sorry…I’m…I…it’s easier to tease you, than to consider my own feelings!” she said, sounding in danger of crying. Neil turned back, and reached up to touch her cheek.

“You too?” he asked, having seen Molly almost snuggled with Edume.

“Maybe…but I’d rather be tortured than admit it!”

“We may all be…if we don’t figure out how to be magicians!” Neil sighed. “Now get your butt to bed!”