The Mage Sister: From ghosties and Ghoulies, and long leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night…
Nathan: What is she going on about now?
The Mage Sister: It's Halloween! The witching hour! When the skeletons dance, and the goblins prance, and witches fly and sing witchly chants, and…
Nathan: Oh, shut up.
The Mage Sister: I see you're going as a troll this year, Nathan.
Nathan: Going where? What is she on about?
Cullen: It's a silly custom they have where she's from. Evidently, they dress up as monsters and worship sweets.
Nathan: Worship sweets? I've never heard of anything so ridiculous. I like sweets as much is the next fellow but worshiping them? I ask you.
The Mage Sister: We do not worship sweets. It's the day before all Saints Day. Legend says that this is the day that the dead can walk among us… Wooooooooooooooooo! Cool, right?
Cullen: Not really. We're dead, technically speaking - well, we're not alive anyway - and we walk about every day. No one gives us sweets.
Nathan: What nonsense.
The Mage Sister: No, no, nobody gives the dead sweets. Children go door-to-door and ask for them.
Nathan: The utter cheek! Do their parents know about this? Little ruffians, terrorizing good, contributing citizens for whatever sweets they may have in their larders! It's just not right!
The Mage Sister: There's no terrorizing! They dress up in costumes like witches and ghosts and very politely knock on the door and say, "Trick-or-treat!"
Cullen: Trick-or-treat? What is that supposed to mean?
The Mage Sister: Weeeeell…
Nathan: Do go on.
The Mage Sister: It means… It means you have a choice between a trick or treat.
Nathan: You see? Outright thuggery! In other words give me a treat, or I'll play a nasty trick on you... burn your house down, kill your Gran! I ask you, what did she ever do to them?
Cullen: That's why they dress up in disguises. So no one will recognize their deviant behavior. Wish I'd thought of that when I was running the streets. That's clever, that is.
The Mage Sister: There is no thuggery involved! Everyone knows about it. Everyone's in on it.
Nathan: I see, the good citizens are too intimidated to complain about it, are they? Little blighters! Who do I speak to about putting a stop to this outrage!
The Mage Sister: Good grief, Nathan! The custom is hundreds of years old.
Cullen: Well, that explains a lot. Hundreds of years on a diet of nothing but sweets. Terribly unhealthy. Bound to cause anyone to misbehave.
The Mage Sister: No… But… That's not… Oh, I give up.
Cullen: Where are you going?
The Mage Sister: I'm going trick-or-treating!
Nathan: Thank goodness for that! Took an age to get rid of her this time.
Cullen: Tell me. And all that nonsense about sweets and tiny criminal masterminds going door-to-door… complete rubbish, that.
Nathan: Utter fairy tale. Couldn't tell the truth of her life depended on it. Sad, really.
The Mage Sister: You're both getting coal in your stockings this Christmas!
Nathan: Why ever would I want to walk about on coal?
Cullen: A whole other fairy tale. Don't ask.
Nathan: Tsk. Does she ever stop? The woman is completely off her nut.
Oy! You lot! Hey, Nathan here. Say, here's the thing. Today's my birthday, right? Normally, there's this great to-do and a big festival and nonsense, and I have to wear a damned uncomfortable suit and great heavy crown. Well, NOT TODAY! I've had it! I've had more birthdays than I care to remember and I just think I should be able to do what I want on my day, not... well, anyway. This year, I decided, NO WAY! I'm not doing it.
So I cast a forget spell. Everyone thinks the Festival is next month, and then tomorrow when the spell wears off, it'll be too late! Heh he haahhhahhhaaahhahahhah!
Pardon me. Anyway, don't tell my wife! If word gets back to her, she'll tell Cristov and I wouldn't put it past him to turn back time and then I'll have to do the festival anyway. And it's really, really hot out there! Have pity on a poor king!
So why should you keep your cakehole to yourself? Well, I'm not an unreasonable guy. I've arranged to give you a sneak peek of Jeannie's next book, which, of course, features ME. Really how could it not. I mean, I'm astonished I'm not in ALL her books. They must be bloody boring.
In any case, here is her secret hiding place. Enjoy! And just remember, you rat me out and you might find yourself with...
What are you going on about, Nathan?
Nothing! Nothing at all!
Go! Read! And remember... not a word.
Magicker’s Joust Senior level. The battle for the King’s Cup. Epic. Utterly epic, I tell you. Never in all my years have a seen such a spectacle!
It started out like any other Senior Joust, the strongest competitors clearing out the competition with little delay. It was evident quite early on that Michael Absterdeen of Rillian Magicker’s College, Phillipe von Weast of Yoorton Academy and Nigel Lambeth of Grace Royal Academy were the stand outs of the day.
As you are probably well aware, the Joust rules state explicitly that competitors may only manipulate their innate magic in competition, and are not allowed to use spells or developed skill learned in their Magicker’s Programs, excepting that which focuses on maximizing use of such innate skill. This forces the boys to be creative and clever in battle, and tends to quickly separate the best from the less experienced.
After a fierce round that lasted at least an hour, young von Weast was eliminated by Lambeth, a Spark (common term for Fire Magicker) who conjured an enormous, fiery dragon that picked up von Weast and flung him clear out of the arena and into Rowan Bay. While the healers were able to retrieve Master von Weast from the bay and restore him, he was not able to return to the arena for competition and was forced to forfeit the match.
The battle between Lambeth and Michael Absterdeen, whose innate skill is utilizing air elements to his advantage, went on for hours. Every time Lambeth attempted an attack utilizing his fire abilities, Absterbeed would manipulate the air around him to starve the fire and put it out. In return, Lambeth took advantage of elements such as the wind whips that Absterdeen conjured by inserting his fire into them and creating fire storms around his apponent.
The battle went on long into the night – much longer than any other Magicker’s Joust in known history. Other events, such as the Annual Reenactment of the Crossing of Fiaryn’s Gate, performances by the Stone Circle Mage’s - who are known to put on breathtaking programs of fire and light dancing, music and song - and any such other diversions were delayed until after the Joust. But it seems the competitors were too well-matched, and they fought to a stalemate, neither giving way to the other.
Just before dawn – most of the crowd had gone away by now – the battle ended quite suddenly. The opponents were locked in yet another brutal stalemate when the beautiful weather we had enjoyed all day changed violently. A fierce storm blew up out of nowhere. Dense sheets of rain poured down, vicious wind tore around us and thunder shook the ground while lightning tore through the sky! I was considerably alarmed, let me tell you.
The competitors were pummeled to the ground and when it stopped a few moments later, His Grace, King Nathan rose from his seat and strode to the pedestal where the King’s Cup stood wearing a garment which can only be described as his… ahem… underpants. He snatched up the Cup and growled at the contestants, “I’ll take that, and it serves you right for being such wishy-washy pansies!” Then he glared over his shoulder at Queen Catherine, said, “Ha!” at her and strode away.
Queen Catherine looked considerably put out and shouted after him, “Well, at least you’re still wearing your crown!” King Nathan stopped and turned quite purple, the crown shot up off his head and burst into shiny dust and he walked away. Queen Catherine stamped her foot and threw her own crown at him, hitting him squarely in the back. His Grace continued on, with Her Highness following behind, scolding him fiercely with very high pitched tone.
I’ve never seen the like in all my days. I’m not even sure I didn’t imagine it all, what with being so exhausted after witnessing such an epic battle. I’m sure I must have been dreaming. It’s simply not possible that our Beloved Royals would behave in such a manner. No, I’m certain I must have nodded off and dreamed it.
But what a curious dream! It was a dream, wasn’t it?
I am pleased to report that Vespith Academy swept the Junior Magicker’s Joust in both levels again this year. Well done, Headmaster Jahx Rife!
About his victory for the second year in a row, Headmaster Rife said, “The boys have fun and that’s really all that is important. They work very hard all year, and the Festival is an important part of rewarding that work. Plus it allows them to, you know, show off their skills a little, show the world what they can do.”
Vespith Academy’s Riley Stauking also won the Junior Cup at the Senior Joust. Headmaster Rife seemed somewhat stoic about this victory, it being well known that he doesn’t approve of his boys participating in the Senior Joust, but he congratulated young Stauking, nonetheless.
“I’m afraid we set a precedent a few years ago when we allowed Gunnar Flith to compete,” Headmaster Rife explained when asked about Vespith’s participation in the Senior Joust. “Now all the boys want to do it, and say it’s not fair if we don’t let them. So we decided to allow them to choose one competitor from among themselves to represent the school. I thought that egos would preside and they’d never be able to settle on one person. However, I’m afraid I underestimated my boys. They chose Riley, who did compete brilliantly, and only suffered a few broken bones, so well done, Riley. However, we made competition in this year’s event contingent upon allowing Riley to decide after the event if the school would compete in that level again, and made the boys sign an agreement with us that whatever Riley decided would be honored.”
When asked what his recommendation would be, Mr. Stauking replied, “Headmaster Rife is a thoroughly honorable man and he really does his best to protect us. Even though we don’t understand that always, he’s only doing whatever he can to keep us out of harm’s way for as long as he can. The Senior Joust truly is brutal. Still, so is life, so as to Vespith competing in the future? I say bring it!”
In response, Headmaster Rife whacked the boy in the back of the head and walked away.
Nathan: For the love of Fiaryn, what have you done to my crown, Catherine?
Catherine: I have no idea what you're talking about, Nathan. Now stop doing that - people are staring.
Nathan: You... put... rrrrhhghhh! What did you do?!?
Catherine: (Gracious, Nathan, you're drawing a crowd.) Nothing to worry about - there's a bee. He's allergic.
Cristov: Nathan! What are you doing?
Catherine: Making a scene.
Cristov: I can see that. Stop it.
Nathan: She... she... she... arhhg!
Cristov: Move along. There's nothing to see.
Catherine: Nathan, really! Just settle down. People are staring, and besides, it's not going to kill you to look decent for one day.
Nathan: Well, I don't have much choice, do I? Thanks to you!
Cristov: Why is it Catherine's fault that you're jumping around like a buffoon?
Nathan: She glued my crown to my head!!! And I can't get this $%^& jacket off! I'm roasting!
Cristov: Catherine, did you do something to Nathan's attire?
Catherine: It's just the teensiest of sealing spells. It's nothing! Just to make sure he doesn't lose his crown this year... or his coat. You know how he does it every year and I have to run around the fairgrounds picking up after him as if I were his valet.
Nathan: I do not!
Cristov: Yes, you do.
Catherine: I swear, he'd run around naked if I let him.
Nathan: I have never run naked, I ask you!
Cristov: Yes, you have.
Nathan: Hmph! Make her stop it.
Cristov: Catherine, I really must say I'm surprised at you. Well done.
It’s a gorgeous day here in Rowan Capital for the 541st Annual King’s Festival, despite a dreadful storm last night, which disappeared quite suddenly at dawn. Usually the King’s Festival is the hottest day of the year, but the storm must have blown all the heat away. Huzzah! We couldn’t have finer weather!
Rumor has it that Cristov MacCuin, Leader of the Circle of Mages, may have put the squash on our dear monarch for throwing said storm in an attempt to avoid his birthday celebration. Pshaw! I say. King Nathan appeared as kingly as ever, with his crown firmly in place, though I do have to say, that storm must have kept him up quite late as we was looking slightly haggard.
The day began with a real treat - the Annual Delicacy Bake Off! Mistress Piety won the day again with her absolutely divine Chocolate Cinnamon Raspberry torte, to the outrage of Mr. Breadstock, who, I’m afraid, was a terribly poor sport. He howled with rage and began throwing baked goods at Mistress Piety! Piety, not the shrinking violet, she, took up one of Mr. Breadstock's baking paddles and walloped the man a good one. Mr. Breadstock attempted to wrest the paddle from her, clearly intent on making use of that implement. However, Piety kicked his shins soundly, gave him an ultimate raspberry with a bowl of raspberry glaze from her own tasty torte and began chasing the sticky sourpuss around the fairgrounds, cursing and cudgeling him until the King’s Guard subdued the battling bakers .
King Nathan gave the two a good talking to, and ended up ejecting Mr. Breadstock for general devilry. As we all know, His Grace does not suffer buffoons gladly. Honestly, who has the temerity to be rude His Grace? Really! And on his birthday! I ask you!
Mrs. Piety is quoted as saying, “It’s about time someone gave that annoying lout a good thump! I’ve had it up to here with his churlishness! Best Festival Day I've had in years.”
I'm afraid I'm not allowed to report what Mr. Breadstock said, but it wasn't very genteel, I can tell you. Can't say I blame poor Piety, can you?
Much yet to come on this fabulous King’s Festival Day. Stay tuned!
Nobody who’s anybody misses the Festival! Mark your calendars today!
- The finest food and ale to be had in all of Rowan
- The ever popular Magicker’s Joust – Last year a fierce rivalry broke out between Headmaster Allondo VonBhelded of Rillian Magicker’s College and Headmaster Markus Lender of His Grace Royal Academy, who, to be honest, was a tad ungracious in his victory. Headmaster VonBhelded was later heard to say he’ll win the King’s Cup this year if he has to wrest it from Lender’s cold, dead hands. Don’t miss this fierce grudge match for the King’s Cup!
- The water spout that loves to follow King Nathan around like a puppy (at the Queen’s request, of course). Ever been snuggled by a water spout?
- The Annual Delicacy Bake Off – Last Festival, Mistress Piety won the day with her delectable ‘Peity’s Perfectly Plummy Raspberry Peachy Puffs’. What delightful concoction will she present this year, and will the jealous Master Breadstock finally vanquish her and win the day? (‘Not bloody likely!’ says Piety.) Who will triumph in this dual to delicious death?
Last year the King’s Festival was cancelled due to rain. Lots of rain. Immense amounts of rain, in fact, and a strange cold front that settled over Rowan Capital. I strongly suspect Nathan had something to do with that.
Nathan: Did not! Believe it or not, it does rain all on its own sometimes, you know. It’s called weather.
So let’s hope for a beautiful day for it this year. 18th day of Sommersont, known in our world as July.
Nathan: Maybe it’ll snow. Oooh, ice storm! Yeah! Let’s have an ice storm. Those are grand!
Catherine: Let’s not or I’ll tell Cristov on you.
Nathan: You never let me have any fun.
Catherine: That’s my official job, darling.
Nathan: Yes, well, you’re expert at it.
Catherine: Shush, Nathan. Where’s your crown? I want it clean and shiny for the Festival.
Nathan: What crown? I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.
Catherine: Ah! Here it is!
Nathan: Where did that come from? I could have sworn I’d got rid of all…
Catherine: Prithee, do continue.
Nathan: Hmph. I really don’t like you.
Catherine: The feeling’s mutual, darling, I assure you.
Nathan Damnation! What is wrong with you, Cullen?
Cullen She’s crazy!
Jahx Who’s crazy?
Cullen Your wife! She keeps chasing me around the… oh hell! Here she comes again.
Nathan You want to hide behind me?
Cullen Shut up, Nathan!
Jahx You’re the one who wanted to teach her how to fight with a sword. I didn’t want you to. I said it was a bad idea. But did anyone listen to me? Noooooooo! What would I know? I just LIVE with her!
Cullen Shut up, Jahx!
Nathan You know it’s the right thing to do, Jahx. She insists on being right in the thick of things, and when trouble visits our doorstep, I want her to at least be able to defend herself.
Jahx I know no such thing! Why can’t you teach her something she can do from a distance – like how to shoot a crossbow?
Nathan You really want to put deadly projectiles in Arinda’s hands?
Cullen At least with the sword you can run away from her.
Jahx … … … fair point.
Arinda What’s the matter with you Cullen? You’re supposed to be teaching me! Why have we stopped?
Cullen Because I’m attached to my limbs, and I’d like to stay that way!
Cullen You’re swinging that thing like a lunatic!
Arinda I was just doing what I saw King Oren doing!
Nathan (snerk) Oren is three times your size and fights with a two-handed battle sword. And he is a lunatic.
Arinda So what are you saying? I’m not doing it right?
Cullen STOP POINTING THAT THING AT ME! Nathan, where do we keep the crossbows these days?
Nathan I’m not gonna be responsible for arming this little psychopath with missiles of death! OW!!! Cut that out, you brat!
Arinda Big baby, it was only the flat.
Catherine What are you doing, Nathan?
Catherine Then go away. I’m busy.
… … …
Catherine What do you want?
Catherine Then why are you standing there grinning at me?
Nathan Cristov said I need to be more pleasant to you. So I’m just smiling.
Catherine Well, stop it! It’s creepy!
Nathan Excuse me? How rude!
Arinda It is a little creepy, Nathan. You don’t just stand there and grin at people.
Nathan Oh, thanks, Rinda. Now that I’ve had advice from an expert…
Arinda Now you’re just being a creep.
Nathan Hey! I bet you don’t complain when Jahx smiles at you.
Arinda Jahx does have a nice smile.
Nathan Of course, because I couldn’t have lived another day without knowing that little tidbit of information.
Arinda And now you’ve been promoted to dafnit! Anyway, Jahx does get creepy when he’s ‘influencing’. He has this weird smile that is anything but friendly. I wonder that people are actually drawn to him when he’s like that.
Nathan I’m wondering why you think I care.
Catherine Nathan! If you’re going to be unpleasant then go be unpleasant someplace else! Get out! Leave! Scoot!
Nathan Hey! OW!!! I’m going, but why does Rinda get to stay?
Catherine Because she’s not an unpleasant, creepy, grinning idiot!
Nathan Nice. That’s what I get for trying to be pleasant.
Catherine If that’s your attempt at pleasant, please just be your usual foul tempered self. Honestly! Mages! Always underfoot!
Nathan I’m telling Cristov on you! If I have to be pleasant, so do you!
Catherine GET… OUT!!!
Nathan I’m telling him you’re throwing things, too!
Catherine Kick that door again, Nathan! I dare you.
Arinda Will he ever learn?
Catherine He learns quite well, actually. I find it’s best to keep him guessing.
Arinda There is a little harpy in you, isn’t there?
Simon Shut up. I don't want to talk about it.
Nathan I do!
Cullen What do you have to do to be banned from the Buck? They let anyone in there.
Simon I don't want to discuss it!
Nathan He picked a fight with a barmaid and she beat the crap out of him.
Simon Shut up, Nathan!
Cullen Seriously Simon? Picking fights with girls?
Simon She didn't look like a girl.
Cullen May I remind you of the time you thought I was a girl?
Simon Will you you let it go, Cullen? Jeez, a guy makes one mistake.
Nathan You tried to kiss him.
Simon Yeah, well, you didn't have to break my nose.
Cullen I fixed it for you.
Simon Well, are you ever gonna let me live it down?
Nathan Yeah, don't think we're not gonna talk about what happened at the Buck last night.
Cullen You really got beat up by a girl?
Nathan Wiped the floor up with him.
Cullen HA!!! You are fierce, Simon. FIERCE! HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!
Simon Why don't you shut up and fix my face, healer!
Cullen Why don't I get my nurse to do it? That way, if you get unruly, she can beat you up, too.
Simon That was really not funny. Shut up, Nathan! Stop laughing!
Nathan HAHAHHAHHAHAHHHH HAHHAHAHHAAH HHAHHAHAHHAH HAHHHAHAHAHAA!
Cullen You really should breathe, Nathan. You're turning blue.
Simon I'm leaving. I don't have to sit here and take this.
Nathan Well, be careful. There're some pretty fierce girls out there.
Simon Ha ha.
Nathan I can't protect you from all of them, Simon!
Simon SHUT... UP!!!