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Subject: {ASSM} Sangrelysia - Chapter 14
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                   Peace on Earth!
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             Defend the Right to Privacy!

             (what ELSE will I need to add
               by the time I finish?)

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                         Sangrelysia - Chapter 14

                          by Vivian Darkbloom

   "Welcome to the northern sanctuary," I announced. From one of the
   countless pockets in the robe I wore, I drew out an illumination
   globe. The pockets were quite convenient, as they never ever lost
   anything, and always rearranged themselves so that whichever
   object I sought would be right at my fingertips.

   The globe washed the ledge and the cave in a clear, soft light
   that rendered everything into perfect visibility but without any
   harshness or glare. I left it floating midair.

   Sylvia pouted with her inimitable air of sarcastic disdain. I
   knew that she was only being impossible because she was upset,
   and that the sensible course of action would be to let it play
   out now, then discuss it later.

   "This?" she pointed at the cave with fresh disgust. It was a
   shallow cave, choked with cobwebs and dust. In the back corner
   lay a few ancient ceramic urns.

   I chuckled. "Think you can open it?"

   She frowned. "What's the magic word?"

   "Let's see if you can find it."

   She perked up a bit at the challenge, studying the scene for a
   minute or two, then brushing the cobwebs back from one of the
   urns, and struggled for a minute with the lid, before she thought
   of using the opening spell I had taught her the week before. The
   lid popped off into her hand, and she reached into pull out the
   scroll curled up inside.

   It had only two words written on it: " `God is.' -- that's it?"
   she queried incredulously.

   In response, the rear wall of the cave slid into a new formation
   as a door, which featured in its middle a brass knocker in the
   shape of a duck with a nosering, or a `bill-ring' as I guess you
   would call it. "What's the big idea, lady, waking me up from a
   fine nap like that?! This had better be important!"

   "A talking duck?" she demanded, even more incredulously.

   "I was bored," I replied. "Look, you can change it if you like."

   "But, a duck?!"

   "Lady, it's not my fault I was born this way. Why, I've high
   ambitions. I'm studying to be an opera singer!" It began
   massacring the Habanera from Carmen: "L'amour est un oiseau
   rebelle que nul ne peut apprivoiser. . ."

   "Trust me, it beats the paperclip." I assured her, interrupting
   the aria with: "Hey! That's enough already. You better stop
   before your voice quacks."

   Indignant, the duck pouted. "Everybody's a comedian now, aren't
   they. Nobody understands true talent. . ."

   "And," I continued, "she's with me, so you can just let us in

   The duck-head did a double take, nosering crazily flopping about,
   craning its neck with feigned astonishment. "Why, it's the
   wizard. Gosh I hadn't noticed you standing there."

   "Yes you had, but you just can't resist harassing someone when
   they're standing in front of you. So, for about the fifth time,
   would you please open up and let us in."

   "Why, of course. Yes sir!" it quacked irreverently. As the door
   gave way we entered, shutting gently behind us.

   I brought the lighting globe in with us, and quenched it as the
   interior globes sprung into luminosity. The place had the smell
   of silent anticipation, waiting with patient calmness for us to
   enter and stir the air, freshen the interior with our voices and

   With the familiar sense of home, the tension that had been
   keeping me going deflated, leaving the exhaustion to hit me like
   an anvil. I was completely dead beat and sore with fatigue and

   With my last ounce of remaining strength, I led Sylvia downstairs
   to the guest room. "I think you can find everything," I said.
   "Good night."

   "Good night," she called after me as I re-ascended the stairs, up
   into the upstairs bedroom, where I collapsed on the enormous bed
   that sprawled in the center of the room, immediately sinking into
   a deep dreamless sleep.

   Some time later I awoke in total darkness, momentarily uncertain
   of my surroundings, only knowing that I felt a warmth against my

   I turned over, drawing her into my arms, feeling her warm naked
   body against mine "I couldn't sleep," she said.

   "You're not wearing anything," I commented.

   She giggled. "Neither are you, I notice.

   "I'm so glad you're with me," I replied.

   Never having slept together before at night like this, we lay
   entwined in novel stillness, sharing the joy of union, the
   mesmerising softness of skin, the assurance of human contact.
   Gradually drifting off to sleep, I heard her call out quietly: "I
   love you."

   I murmured something similar in reply, or at least I hope it was
   similar, as my consciousness had faded almost completely by then.

                                                to be continued. . .


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