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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ghost Adjuster

Dream City, some nights are as long as four nights. It had been days since I'd been to the office, the boss was probably angry. She needed to fuss like a cat needs cream. Sure it tastes good, but then it all turns to....

Where is that music coming from? Tempo change, sudden tonal drop, it's happening. Time to go to work.

I noted my surroundings, and then, bamf! I was two blocks closer to the trouble, the music changed as I walked in a circle getting my next bearing.


I heard the crumple of car metal, the plastic tick-tac of lens screens bouncing on pavement and the screams, the lovely screams. I went to work.

I appeared in the back seat of a nearby car as it was lifted into the air. The driver and his passenger were, of course, screaming. Scrumptious.

Bamf! The three of us stood in a sidewalk cafe three blocks away. The surprised waiter didn't react when I told him to get his customers inside. I faded away, a thin tendril of smoke and then appeared behind him. "Now would be a good time." I said.

He jumped, and the emotion was delicious.




There was now a beat up fellow in a spider man costume and the levitating villain above him was monologuing and adjusting his stubby winged hovercraft. It appeared to have been damaged in the fight and wobbled unsteadily. A thin trail of smoke trickled into the nearby air, pooling like blood in water. He wasn't my concern, as he didn't have a policy with us.

He spotted me, though and stopped. "What are you..."

"Public Damage Mitigation Adjuster. Just doing my job."

"Well you're going to have to do it in the afterlife." He wove around to me and unleashed a fusillade of tiny fleshettes. The metal razors lashed their way through my coat and hat.

"I really liked that hat."

"You're dead!" The villain screeched at me.

"Yes, that's generally the idea with a Ghost Adjuster."

I walked over to him and reached into his sputtering hover-board, then yanked on a bunch of wires and cables I found inside. They fell to the ground with two distinct thumps, one hard and ringing, the other flapping and wet.

"I thought you weren't supposed to interfere," the Spiderman figure huffed at me.

"I really liked that coat, too, it took a long time to find a ghost trench that fit. Think of it as a paid damage claim that won't affect your premiums." I drifted down into the rubble pile, pulling out the injured and delivered them to the ambulances that were pulled up by the dozens outside the nearby cafe.

When I got back to the rubble pile, my boss was there, helping assess the damage to the building. Our Spider Man and his villain were being loaded into separate ambulances. She glared at me. "I expect to see you in the office after this. Today!"

Her anger fueled me, reminded me why I still worked there. I resisted the urge to feed, I wanted that anger fully stoked for when we were at the office later.

I headed back to the office, there would be forms to fill out, depositions to arrange. Hurt feelings to sooth over and delicious delicious anger. I drifted through the locked front door and hung my battered hat up on a peg in the entry hall. I made my way over to my cube, returning the greetings of my co-workers, a singularly emotionless lot, as gray as the cubes they worked in. No wonder I hate coming here. My cube was empty. Seriously, no chair, no desk, no file cabinet (it was empty anyway, I figured if someone needed paperwork, they should keep it, I sure as heck didn't need it.)

My boss slammed in shortly after I arrived.

"Wondering where your desk is? Well they promoted you, over my objections...of course. You're in the West office now." She pointed to an office between her corner office and the kitchen, and sauntered towards it, not waiting for me to follow. I hung back, enjoying the hypnotic sway of her curves. I sipped her seething cup of anger and detected a taste of something else...pride, envy, affection? Interesting, unexpected.

"Nice." I wondered what the heck I got with a promotion other than an office. I wondered what I'd done to even deserve a promotion. I was rarely in the office; there was so much to do out in the field.

"I don't know why they bothered to move your desk, the only thing in it was an unopened company manual and these." There was a key ring hanging from a hook on the edge of the desk. I recognized them, they were the office keys. The front door, the file room and several file cabinet keys. I'd wondered where I'd left them.

"These were locked in the bottom of your file cabinet. I don't even want to know how." She picked the keys up and threw them at me. Instinct, I suppose, but I faded just before they hit and the keys sailed through me and out into the hall, jangled to a stop at the base of a cube.

I drank from her anger, calming her, feeding me. This was going to be a good office location, I might even come in to the office more, I thought.

"Get your ass in here tomorrow, we need to take depositions. Use your damned keys! That's how corporate knows you're here. For god's sake, get a new coat, that one looks like shit." She brushed past me on her way out, scowling, but I could feel her smile after she passed me.

I was thinking, "I might just come to work on time tomorrow." (And knew I was kidding myself.)

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Diablo IV MMO

In a dream a couple of nights ago I started playing a character who was part Necromancer and part Sorcerer. While I don't really remember much of that dream, other than lots of minions and a long burning beam of liquid fire. I know that last nights dream was a continuation of that game character and game world.

I was in a huge underground system of tunnels and caverns with decorated pillars supporting the redish decorated roof and a fairly open set of paths between the large encounter areas with blue and silver inlaid tile floors and large firepits with piles of ash and only occasionally bonfires. There was a large "dig" area at the entrance to the zone, and there were numerous other players there. I had made my way around to where the final boss was, but when I had him down to about 60% he spawned the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and being a bit squishy I decided to kite them out of the room, and in so doing got almost back to the "Dig" site before I could finish the last one. I raced back to the final room, but the boss had reset, and my minions who'd been engaging him were just standing around.

I hopped on the chat and asked for any sort of tips, only to be told that my character would never be able to solo the end encounter, sorry, but no one had done it with a Necromancer. I ported back to the "Dig" just in time to take part in a server event where diggers uncover a mummified demigod, mad, of course, and they were really glad to see me as, apparently, this was an event that could not be beat without a Necromancer character like myself. Apparently I was the only one of my class online out of the nearly a hundred folks currently playing. We went to war with the mummified undead and their spell summons. I rapidly discovered why I was needed. I could wrest control of their minions from them and allow them to decay or send them back into the fight (I was of the latter sort of Necromancer) and the battle was glorius and detailed and ebbed and flowed for the better part of an hour. When it was said and done, I had nearly seventy minions!

One of the characters, a Sorcoress offered to port me and my minions anywhere. So I opted to go back to the final boss room. When we got there my minions were arrayed in a semi circle around the landing zone in five platoons of fifteen critters each, very elegant looking. The encounter went far better than expected with that many minions, I managed to get him down to about two percent before I had to evacuate the room. Apparently the death penalty in D4 is quite severe (I know I wasn't playing in Hard Core mode, so not as severe as it could have been.)

The player who was playing the sorcoress apparently had stayed in observer mode the whole time and met me back at the Dig. I asked if she had any advice, and she said that looked amazing, the only thing she could think of was to let her know the next time there was a mummy event, she would contact her guild and they would come in and make sure I was able to get every possible minion out of the event so I could try again. She also offered to group up to do the event, even though the awards wouldn't be as good and I wouldn't get the solo badge, I could at least move on into new content. I accepted the first offer, but asked if I could take a rain check on the latter, at least until the next expansion was announced. I really did want to solo the event if I could. "Well, you'd be the first Necro to do it, so that would be cool." She then threw up a guild invite, saying "I know you're a casual player, but I'll vouch for you, we'd be glad to have you along whenever you can make it."

All in all a very positive wishfull thinking dream adventure.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Yellow Chair, Not Buying, Red Chair

I dreamed I was moving out of my office, and decided to take the yellow task chair out as the last item. I sat in it and rolled it out of the building and down the sidewalk towards the back hill. For some reason I needed it to get all the way home, and I figured if I could coast down the hill I would get onto the freeway with enough speed to get over the hill and then be able to coast most of the way from Poway to Escondido. I knew I wouldn't be able to make it up the big hill, but was hoping to find a big truck to draft up the hill by the time I got there.

There was a tiny bit of my brain that wondered if the little furniture casters would be up to the fifteen mile trip. The rest of my brain was "Hooty hoo! I'm outta here, let's do this!" and so I rolled down off the sidewalk, lifting up on one side to clear some rocks, and then crashed down the hill through the acacia and eucalyptus debris to get to the freeway on ramp below. I wasn't going quite as fast as I had hoped, but I had an umbrella, so popped it open as I rolled up along side traffic and used it to catch a gust from a passing truck. That accelerated me up to almost freeway speed, and I rocketed up the hill catching draft after draft from passing vehicles. I easily made it to the top of the hill and started gaining speed on the way down the slope, easily keeping up with the car carrier in the slow lane for most of the trip. I shot across the bridge at speed, managing somehow to get across the mall exit without a collision and then started slowing as I rolled up the big hill.

It was about that time that I realized I was going to have to have someone pick me up and take me back to work to get my car, and I wondered if I should have tried harder to get the chair tied into the back of my car. "Doesn't matter," I said to myself, I was already more than a third of the way home. I leaned back to reduce my drag and steered my way off the freeway, it would be a fairly level trip through town, and I figured between the umbrella and the occasional big truck I could easily make it home.


In the next dream segment, I had people over to the house to re-upholster and re-caster my task chair and my rocking chair. I gave them a little tour of the house and they wanted to sell me a new hot tub, as they didn't think they could re-upholster the old one. I explained that I wanted it repaired, not re-upholstered, but the only one who seemed to get it was the executive assistant. I was still not clear as to why she had come along with the others, but wasn't complaining about it, as she was the most intelligent and best looking of the bunch. She did manage to convince her team to take care of the rocker, and I finally managed to convince them that I wouldn't be buying a hot tub from them. The EA convinced me that it would actually be cheaper to buy a new task chair (not from them) than to pay to have the one I have re-done.

I expressed what a shame that was, as I had coasted/pushed it all the way home from Poway. She didn't look like she believed me, until I tipped it up and showed her the pitted and worn casters.

They left, having been unsuccessful in selling me anything but the re-upholstering of one chair, which is what I'd contacted them for in the first place.  I settled into my new chair until the fresh glue/vinyl smell got to me. I opened up the window in the room and fired up the ionic filter. I decided to call it an evening and gathered up the cats to lock them out of the sitting room, figuring the smell wasn't doing them any good, either.

The cats and I went to bed, a few minutes later there was a gentle rapping at my bedroom door (the outside door) I hesitated before opening the curtains. It was the EA, she was still in the light blouse and short skirt she'd worn earlier, but now it was twenty degrees cooler and she looked a bit shivery. I wondered why she hadn't come to the front door. She said she'd forgotten to leave me her card. I opened the door and took the card, it had her home phone number written on the back. I asked her if she wanted to come in for a bit. She looked happy to get in out of the chilly night air.

I offered her a robe, but she asked if I had anything to drink. She didn't seem unhappy when I explained that there was only tequila. While I cleaned a couple of shot glasses (they'd been sitting so long they were dusty) she stood in the front room pouring over my library, making delighted comments about what she was finding. She was talking with the kitties, and I heard the telltale sounds of happy to be brushed cats coming from the room. I had made up a plate of cheese and toast (no crackers in the house) hoping it would go okay with the drinks. I really got the impression that she wasn't planning on leaving unless I threw her out. She really wanted to sell that hot tub, pointing out that we could have both been enjoying it if I'd agreed to purchase it. Somehow I doubted that, but it was fun to think about.

I almost hated to tell her "I'm still not buying it," figuring that would bring our evening to a halt.

Interestingly, it didn't bring the evening to a halt, if anything she seemed more interested in staying with me, and the cats, saying she was too drunk to go home, even though she hadn't had even a full shot yet. She started to disrobe, saying how fortunate she was that I only had the one bed, and how warm it must be with me and the cats, all of whom seemed to be attracted to her as much as I was. It was at that point that I realized she was infatuated with the house, the books and the cats as much or more than myself.


I was in a furniture store, sort of a mix of new and second hand, where ever I went there was a dark-haired woman with me, helping me try out the different chairs, asking how everything fit, and if I could sit and write for a few hours at a time comfortably in it. (Pretty sure this was the EA from the previous dream.) She was also helping out a single mom and her two children, also friends of hers, I think. The family were looking for something to make their small bedrooms feel larger. I suggested a Jefferson bed. None of them knew what that was, so I asked for a sheet of paper and something to draw with. I drew the arrangement, desk and shelves underneath, bunk bed above, allowing the two sets of furniture to take up one bed sized space in the room, leaving the rest open for shelves or even just a couple of chairs and a game table.

Mom looked skeptical, but both the boy and the girl thought it was a great idea. "We'd both get the top bunk all the time." Apparently they'd had to share a room when they'd first been divorced, and mom swore they would never share bunk beds again. I pointed out this really wasn't a bunk bed, as much as it just made the space beneath usable for more than storing winter clothing.

Meanwhile the woman I was with found a red and white leather barber style chair, complete with chrome arm supports and chrome hardware for the center post and footstool mechanism. There was a headrest that adjusted to fit me perfectly. I rode up and down and swiveled the chair around a full turn or two. The woman lifted an arm - even though larger the chair did work like a barber chair - and sat on my lap, leaning us both back so she was rather intimately stretched out on top of me. "Fits perfectly," was her comment.

"Yes, it does. Rather persuasive sales technique, too."

"I would be delighted to show you all of the features once we get it home."

Yep, pretty sure this was the same gal from the previous dream.

Starting to think I need to go check out some furniture re-finishing places.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Sleeping in, Until the Party was Too Loud

I was sleeping in this morning until the party next door was too loud. I got up from the bed, and a couple of people entered the room. They were as surprised to see me as I them. I showed them my room key, and we re-tried the keys in the door, sure enough, all of them worked. Mom and dad were a bit grumpy looking about it, but the daughter thought it was cool to share a room with "Santa."

The parents wanted to argue about whose room it was, and I pointed out that I was leaving today, but the checkout time wasn't until eleven. I offered to call down to the front desk to get them a porter to put their luggage in storage if they didn't want to leave it in my room until I checked out. The dad and the child were very obviously tired, but the music and laughing from next door was going to make it difficult for them to sleep, so they decided to go back down to the front desk and ask for a different room, anyway.

I showered and then put my luggage in my car. I checked out then on the way back to my car, on a whim, I knocked on the door of the adjacent room. The party goers were pretty blotto by then, obviously a number of spring break women, they just about dragged me into the room, offering to make up for waking me up.

We danced and I found out what they were all majoring in, I was just enjoying the feminine company, my age apparently making me safe from any sort of "hookup" pressure (unfortunately.) Some musicians arrived, and there were a couple of live sets going on in different parts of the suite, pretty soon the pretty boy musicians were being plied with liqueur and clothing started to become optional.

One of the history majors got upset when one of the "Luke Duke" clones made fun of my Santa like appearance. "Wow, twice in one morning," I said. The musician then pointed out that it was evening. I'd intended to be on the road long ago but didn't really want to rent another room for the night.

The woman said "good night" to everyone, and then leaned over me, covering my face completely in her long black curly hair she asked if I would walk her back to her room. A short ginger haired woman, who was equally curvy, joined us. I hadn't spoken to her much during the party, as she seemed to always be surrounded by a fairly large noisy group, all competing for her attention. I soon figured out why, she was funny and sweet and totally adorable. She was also probably the least drunk of the three of us. Turns out they were sharing a room.

They both plopped down on one bed and offered to let me spend the night in the other if I promised to behave. Soon we were lying in our beds, but still talking. The room grew dark as the sun set, and eventually our conversation faded with the light. A few minutes later I felt someone climb in with me. "I just want to cuddle, no sexy stuff, okay." I was really too tired to argue, so agreed. Just have her curled up against me counted for sexy stuff in my book.

The tiny red-head joined us a little bit later, just as I was falling asleep. "I want some of this, too," she purred at me.

"We're just cuddling, no sexy stuff." I muttered.

"Okay." The little red-head burrowed in under my arm and turned and gently bit my chest just above the armpit, "For now." She then almost immediately relaxed in the sort of totality that could only be a strawberry cooler induced narcolepsy.

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Friday, April 04, 2014

Laundry, Laundry, Laundry

In the first dream of the night I found myself up to my arms in freshly laundered bedding, with another full load in the washer about to finish spinning. I needed to make room for it so was folding frantically. Everything I took out of the dryer seemed to spawn another item, the stack of folding was already up to my chin where it was stacked on top of the washer. (I don't think I even own that many bed linens.) I was thinking that's what I got for not putting the first dryer load away, but then realized I wouldn't have been able to start another load if that had been the case, and there were still pillow shams to fold and the washer was slowing down from its final spin cycle...

I woke up, feeling a little bit frazzled. I snuggled the cats for a bit, worried for a few minutes that I might still have a wet load in the washer, eventually decided that was unlikely for a Thursday night, so soon fell back to sleep.

Where I started folding laundry again. This time I was taking socks out of the laundry basket, the pile on top of the washer was gone, but I didn't want to slow down because there was a load in the dryer almost done and the washer was running with yet another load. I asked myself what the rush was, the new washer takes at least twice as long to clean a load as the old washer. It may be more water efficient, but I'm not so sure it's more energy efficient (another couple of months should give me a baseline.) The dryer buzzer went off, I stopped matching socks and set the thing to air fluff for ten more minutes, which was what was left on the washer display. I figured I could match and fold every sock I own in that amount of time.

I would be wrong about that, at least in the dream. The basket never seemed to get empty, finally I decided, as the dryer buzzed and the washer dinged, to just dump the socks in the sock drawers without matching them up. I could do that in the mornings when I needed to get dressed.

I woke up, relieved that the dream had concluded with a clever decision (which I admit to occasionally giving in to when pressed for time.)

After some more cat hugs, I fell back to sleep, only to find myself back out at my full dryer and piles of shirts to fold or hang. I immediately realized I was dreaming and the outer me asked, "what the hell is going on here?"

The me in the dream answered, "Laundry, stupid. What the frick is wrong with your brain?"

I still haven't gone out into the garage to see if I left a load of unfolded laundry in the dryer.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


In my dream I was traveling with a pair of companions, a tall muscular, armor clad man, a holy warrior, and a nimble leather clad woman of ethereal beauty, dark and narrow-waisted with shimmering golden eyes and slender pointed ears. As for myself, I was clad only in a robe and sandals, a satchel of writing materials on one shoulder and a battered sword over the other. We'd a fourth member, but there was an incident in the woods surrounding the ruins we now found ourselves standing in front of. That member camped just out of sight above a nearby fountain, hoping to heal while we made our way inside. Personally, I was of the opinion that his wounds were likely to be mortal, but had made him as comfortable as possible.

We entered the ruins, intent of reclaiming the paladin's birthright. I unrolled a map as we stepped out of the collapsed gatehouse into the great courtyard. He stood in the center of the yard, then reached out to touch a large sphere of stone. He was bathed in a golden light and the grime of our passage through the dangerous lands was blasted away, along with the straps of his helmet and shield. We were knocked back and there were tones and angelic voices from the air around us. The Paladin jumped with renewed energy, and raced back over the ruins of the gatehouse, and even without asking I knew he was going to use the energy of his new found aura to heal our companion.

I unrolled the map, and we began to discuss where we should go next, and how we should attempt to acquire the items our companion would need to complete his quest to liberate his home from its cursed state. While we pondered, a ragged trio, one of them quite badly lacerated, hastened from the western passage. Their warrior reached the stone and placed his hands on it. Nothing happened.

"Only once, that's what the riddle meant, you can only heal one." The warrior collapsed, breath coming in ragged gasps, I could not tell if he was exhausted or sobbing.

I was about to ask "what riddle?" when their group's bowman turned to me and handed me a battered journal. "I wouldn't risk my soul for this, but if you must, perhaps this will help you more than it did us."

I reached over and touched the sphere. I was infused with a golden glow. My female companion joined me.

I turned to the injured companion of the trio that were getting to their feet. I touched him and there was a flash, I relived the excruciating fight, really more of a slaughter, watching from a helpless vantage as the man swung at a beautiful woman, who was saved by a spectral man with black hair and blacker eyes. The spectre's talons lashed out and gutted first one and then myself, or rather the man I was holding.

His wounds closed, and the vision faded.

"Why did you do that!"

"He would have died."

"But now you can't save one of us!" I though for a moment that the elf was going to strike me.

"It was the right thing to do, Elba. He will just have to be more careful than usual" and with that our Paladin broke into a mighty roaring laugh. Apparently his comment was a joke at my expense, as I was so careful normally that I had only once drawn the sword he'd provided me. Having thought our way around all of our previous obstacles.

"Well, I'm not using mine on him, then."

The Paladin and our other companion both touched the sphere. Both were infused with a bright glow. I asked the other group to try the stone again, but there was no glow for them. I tried it, and there was no glow for me.

I opened up the battered journal, looking for the notes about the stone. There was a verse, and while it wasn't entirely clear, take in conjunction with what I'd seen, it seemed it would only allow one to heal once, and then the blessing would never be bestowed again, unless you were a scion of the house. I looked at our Paladin in a new light, it seems he was the real deal, after all.

The other group seemed to feel it, too, and quickly excused themselves. I swear the Paladins armor was now so clean it gleamed brighter than the fading sunlight. We agreed to split up to go east and west. The eastern task was supposed to require a test of physical prowess, and the new information I had seemed to back that up. There were notes that indicated that the previous group had succeeded there and brought their token back to the stone. I noticed that the token wasn't there now, however.

The Paladin slammed his mace down on the stone pommel first, a habit he'd gotten into to seat the head, which had started to come loose. I winced, thinking that wasn't probably the way one should treat a major magical artifact. There wasn't even a blemish on the stone, however. "No time like the present. I'll come help you when I'm done here. Be careful." He laughed again, knowing full well that I wouldn't behave any other way.

We split up. I looked to the northern passage before we headed west, it was identical to part of the path we'd entered several miles back in the woods. I pointed that out to everyone, but the Paladin insisted that we "not think on it until we return successful."

"Did he always talk like that?" the elf asked me as we made our way through the ruins of what had to be some sort of chapel.

"No, only the closer we've gotten to here."

We came upon the woman from my vision. She was tall, taller than myself by at least a foot. Her hair was silver, and the outfit she was wearing was beaded in what looked to be pure silver beads. She turned to us.

"I can take her," Elba reached for her weapon. I stopped her with a quick hand on her arm.

"Wait, this is not supposed to be a test of physical prowess."

"Perhaps, depends on how it's played." The woman whispered. "What if I am the lock that guards your precious treasure and you are the key." The woman had turned and bent down slightly to bring her face close to mine. There was the scent of flowers, and femininity, and blood, old and clotted.

"If I am the key and you are the lock..." I thought, was this a demonstration needed, or the answering of a riddle? I decided it was an answering that was needed, at least for now. "Would this lock be tight from lack of opening?"

"Excellent." The woman smiled, "But you have already lost your enchantment, so you must be careful in the opening."

I lifted myself up on tip toe to bring us eye level again. "If I am your key than I fear I am equally unused, perhaps what we both need is some lubrication."

I stepped back, I could see her do likewise preparing herself for violence. Instead I opened my satchel and took out a bottle, gently working it's cork with my thumb. "I fear, dear lady, that I have no cups to offer you, but this is the last of a fine vintage, and I would share it with you."

She hesitated and moved forward, suddenly with two silver chased wine glasses in her hands. I poured. We sipped. I toasted her and her stalwart performance in protecting her precious treasure, I toasted our liege, and that got her attention. I explained that our companion was a descendant of this castle's great kings returned to restore the place of his birth and reclaim his birthright.

The conversation went on, and Elba began to grow bored, she slipped deeper into the chapel, only to be escorted back by the talon equipped specter from my vision. While she was gone I had managed to move closer to the tall woman, who had invited me to sit with her on a rock to continue our lock and key wordplay, the conversation had grown quite full of double and triple entendre. The smell of blood had long retreated and only her flowery femininity remained.

Her final question, and I could feel that it was the last question was what would be "done with the lock once it was opened?"

I thought only a moment, "A good lock is too valuable to leave unused, and it usefulness is not gone once opened, a key that has no lock to open is useless, I would think that my liege would want to put such a precious lock to use and keep it and its key close."

"Indeed he would!" the Paladin entered our little area, setting aside his mace and shield. He lit the room, and his golden light glittered off the woman's silver beads.

"I see," the woman leaned over and kissed me, deeply. After a rather surprised moment, I returned the kiss, and while so doing heard the sliding of the chapel alter. I opened my eyes and looked over to the noise. The specter led Elba by a nervous hand over the the darkened chamber below. She reached in and pulled out a reliquary. The wood had grown soft in some places but it was otherwise sound.

The Paladin set a small totem on top of the reliquary and the woman asked why he hadn't placed it on the sphere.

"I thought we should all be present for that."

"You are quite confident in your companions."

"Do you think it was misplaced?"

The woman looked at me, unsure.

I stretched myself up on tiptoe, still, my mouth was a few inches short of her ear. "Come with us, you and your brother. You deserve to be part of this."

"So, you are still thinking of a different opening."

"If you are a lock and I am your key, it would seem a shame to only be fit together once."

When we returned to the courtyard, the north passage was no longer a duplicate of the entry to the woods. I could clearly see the castle proper at the end of a long span of bridges, partly fallen, and alive with creatures of some sort. I could tell it was going to be a challenge still to get to the bridge. I started looking up into the ruins for alternatives to a long sword fight all the way to the castle gate.

The Paladin laughed at me, knowing what I was doing. "Not this time, scrivener. Sometimes evil needs to be confronted directly. We have this!" He tried to clap the specter on the shoulder, but his hand passed through.

"Only his claws are solid, my Liege." Elba said, the "my Liege" part only sounding a little bit forced.

"I knew that. Let's go." He slammed the pommel of his mace against the stone, seating the sometimes loose mace-head a little more firmly. I was thinking I could fix that with a few minutes at a smithy, but then realized our Liege wouldn't have a need for what I had come to think of as one of his signature habits. He even paused in battle to re-seat the mace head, usually on the thick skull of an opponent. No, the royal mace would remain un-repaired, a character in its own right.

We started for the bridge, as creatures were already massing and hopping or sliding towards us. It would be good strategy to meet them on the narrow part of the first bridge, and hope they didn't have bows. I would have explained that, but the specter and Paladin were charging into battle, and I could see that the forces would meet right where I would have chosen, so felt it was going to be okay. As I walked towards the battle, I felt a tugging at my sword, but it wouldn't come free of the sheath, come to think of it, it hadn't last time, either, and I'd had to use it like a club. The woman grimaced at me, "It's rusted shut."

"Yes, we're probably safer that way." I rummaged around in my satchel and pulled out a sling, I started to select rocks and handed them to the woman as we moved to the side of the where I would have a clear throw at the creatures on the spans further along the path.

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