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Peggy Powler & The Unusual Issue On Murdigon
#1
If a person takes it upon themselves to travel northwards from Pucklewatch, continue along Calder's Way until they arrive at a small
wayside shrine almost hidden by an excessive growth of Passionflower, there's a narrow path that that may afford them some interest.

The vine-enveloped roofed-altar was constructed to commemorate a wandering young Witch who'd once slayed a terrifying Knucker
that had crawled out from a nearby coastal inlet and procured the arable area as its dining table. This firebrand wizard with a penchant
for killing giant water-dragons, was also known for small stature and her attire comprising of a large floppy hat, a rarely-washed poncho
and a weird shouldered bag that was said to have magical properties. However, there was never any mention of footwear.

The track -beginning on the other side of an seasoned wooden stile, cuts across a clover meadow and passing a small enclosure of
half-buried megalithic stones, it vanishes into a row of trees that hides a little-known beauty-spot and the berthing place of an alleged
creature from the Great Sea. It's not a frequently visited locale now, the days of huge serpents feuding with midget magicians quickly
fade into tavern tales and the urgency to continue farming and looking after one's family tends to override memories of who the Witch
was, also gets lost along the way.
It's a shame, really.
...................................................

Peggy Powler shivered -not because of recalling that day she went up against the slimy Knucker with the terrible breath, but due to
the winter sun failing to warm this isolated part of the little rocky bay. Looking at the makeshift stone-steps that had brought the Last
Witch of Underhill to the quiet scene, she wondered when the last time that moss-covered path had ever been used.

Breathing a sigh of contentment through her nose, Peggy clutched the rear of her poncho and sat down on a nearby boulder.
It was an ideal spot to contemplate the distant island that was bathed in a warmth that her haven was currently being denied and also
think about the only occupant of the small atoll. The cold water lapped at the smooth stones near her bare feet and toyed with a piece
of driftwood that looked like a deer's antler. A solitary seagull bobbed on the breeze-kissed surface of the Great Sea and the observer
allowed the tranquillity to soak through to her very soul.

It was the day before Plough Monday and Peggy knew that John Potter always enjoyed the festivities surrounding the celebration of the
agricultural tradition. Today, the village square of Pucklewatch will be decked-out with home-made bunting and ale-inspired musicians
practicing their tunes will be corroding the usual quietness of the day-of-rest.

Plough Monday promised to be a day of bedlam and bliss, a moment in the year to honour the resurgence of working the land and an
awakening from the bleakest of seasons. Spring was still ahead, but in Pucklewatch, there was a hope that a warmer time was just
around the corner. For John Potter, the only person living on the island that Peggy was currently watching a little row-boat embark from,
it was a reason to quaff some mead and wear his famous Straw Bear outfit.

Somewhere on that approaching skiff, a handcrafted costume of dried oat stalks lay alongside a pair of wooden stilts to enhance John's
performance. He will walk the streets of Pucklewatch in his cereal-rich attire and tower above a specially-fitted plough dragged by men
who will be competing with each other for the apex of drunkenness.

Accompanying the Straw giant, a rosy-cheeked female titled 'harlot' for the day who will dance to the many tunes and lustily haul her
male partner -called 'The Fool', around Pucklewatch to the delight of the villagers with the hope of drawing laughter to celebrate Plough
Monday. One day of rustic mirth, lots of beer and probably some impregnation too.

"How yer' doin', yer' daft bugger?!..." Peggy good-naturedly called when the boat was close enough to see Potter grinning. "...Ah' see
yer still can't resist the prancin' and showin'-off" she added as she grabbed the rope John tossed to her. Topping out at over six foot-four,
Peggy had always thought John came from farming stock due to his thick arms, wide shoulders and his general demeanour to accept what
life threw at him. He was a genial-looking man with thick-woolly side-chops the colour of a narwhale's horn and the idea that he dwelled on
an island seemed totally at-odds to what Peggy would've envisaged for such a ribald -but friendly man.

John was always smiling and Peggy had often wondered how his pleasant attitude was always at the ready whenever he came into contact
with his fellow-man. She hadn't seen him for about five years and had held only a half-chance that the message she'd sent via a Midnight
Mail Carrier would actually reach him. However, it seemed John did come to the mainland enough to receive a letter and seeing the affable
oarsman wave the billet from his boat, Peggy beamed her response back at his notification.

Did he have a dark secret too...? After the little Witch's last encounter with another male she had once deemed a friend, Peggy had set her
cap to be wary of something she had once taken for granted. But if John Potter was the custodian of a gripping mystery, his sunny features
offered no indication of duplicity and only served an onlooker to mirror his perspective.

"Yer' a cheeky sod, Peggy..." John replied alongside a grunt from disembarking his seaworthy craft, "...Yer wish te' use me-boat and call me
names at the same time?" he joked as he picked the small woman up and hugged the air out of her lungs. "Tis' good te' see yer' lass" John
whispered in her ear and gently lowered her back onto the pebbles.

Then without any more to-do, he fished his celebration-wardrobe from his carriage and announced his future and terms of borrowing his boat.
"Tek me skiff and be careful wiv' it, Peggy..." John said softly and his usual smile had gone. "...But Ah' strongly advise yer' to accompany me
to Pucklewatch instead and forget this dangerous quest" he offered and placed one of the stilts as a walking-stick.

The little sorceress peered up at the giant who didn't need such wooden bolstering and waited for more expected dissuasion. Peggy had
heard that the Isle of Murdigon had been plundered by a Hippomare and even though such a creature could bring ruin to anyone who fell
under its charms, she still felt it was her place to sail out to the remote place and perform her duty.

"Aye, well a flagon of ale sounds like a good notion, but yon folk need savin' from the sea monster before it decides to visit quieter waters"
she answered confidently to the man with his straw suit and wooden legs. Studying his rough complexion, Peggy was surprised to see her
friend suddenly arrive at the possible outcome of the necromancer's reasoning for the use of his boat.

Sucking in a great breath, John Potter nodded once and told her of the provisions he'd stored on the little craft and also he was in no hurry
to retrieve what is his. "Ah'm visitin' me-sister in Benbrooke after Plough Monday and so, yer've got yon skiff fur' a week or so" he said and
turning his head, looked towards the horizon behind him.

"So take care Peggy, Ah've heard that this water-Kelpie can trick the knickers off the best of 'em" he warned and just like the sun arriving at
dawn, his regular smile appeared once more. Peggy Powler emulated the grin and giggled back "Whey, yer' know fine-well Ah' divna' wear
those things" she scoffed and accepted another hug.
...................................................

A tall silhouette waved once from the top of the forgotten stone stairway as a new wake began upon the Great Sea. The frightened populace
of Murdigon had a problem from a beguiling revenant and there was only one person who could deal with it. A freshly-launched Sea Witch.
[Image: attachment.php?aid=953]
"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#2
"Reet so far" Peggy Powler mumbled to herself as she eased one oar from the water and allowed the other to turn the little boat
out towards the haze that hid the horizon. The little Witch displayed her concentration as she squinted over her shoulder to gaze
at the curtain of sun-warmed condensation and plotted her course to the Isle of Murdigon.

The sea-going sorceress had been following the rocky coastline for some time now until she had spied the tall outcrop of basalt
the locals called 'Mellifor's Finger'. The story goes that somewhere under the soil and heavy forestation of the land, the remains
of a petrified colossus of a being lay awaiting a special magical spell to breath life back into his calcified body.

During his reign, Mellifor the Giant had boasted to the terrified humans that fled before him that he was a God and this status allowed
him the luxury to demand that those beneath his sandaled-feet bring him his food and bow to his bidding. Mellifor would sit on amongst
the woodlands and bluster to himself how nobody across the land held as much power as he did, not even as much sovereignty that
dwelt in his little finger. Of course -like most stories of yore, there was a wizard who arrived and using mystic means, turned the giant
to stone and brought him low.

But like those tales that held inner-significances about a person's communal-conduct, a reality-based item of evidence to give pause
to a doubting listener. Where Mellifor fell beneath the charm of the unnamed magician, there was one part of his anatomy that still could
be viewed to prove the fable still had some meat on its bones. The storyteller simply had to relate to any agnostic audience that at the
edge of the sea, there was physical testimony of what happened a long time ago, a single stony-element that Mellifor the Giant had once
exulted about in his claim of overseeing the paltry humans.

As a bonus and just like a giant's digit, the towering column even sported a formation at its tip that resembled a fingernail. Many of the
older folk in the surrounding villages would assure their younger listeners that the weathered pointer was proof of an ancient arrogant
titan that was now gesturing his regret at not achieving his place in the heavens. Peggy smiled at the thought of the legend and aligning
the stern of John Potter's boat to the naturally-formed totem, began to pull on the wooden blades once more.
...................................................

The surrounding waters were dark-green now and the Last Witch of Underhill knew she was away from the standard acceptance of what
most took to being the Great Sea. Out here, the fishermen hunted for Danderheads, Petticods and Loosejaws in the dark emerald depths
and when talking in fathoms, the weathered-anglers would smile and remind any tenderfoot that this was the Great Sea and measurement
to Davy Jones' locker meant little out here.

The salty miasma that cloaked the Isle of Murdigon was now performing its task in regards of Mellifor's Finger and the tall appendage had
slipped away from Peggy's view. Taking a drink from the jug of beer that John Potter had kindly stored beside two wrapped sandwiches,
the little Witch gazed out into the distance for a sign of her destination. So it was with a sudden jolt of alarm at the question, that Peggy
nearly dropped the clay-container of brewed hops as she peered over the side of the rowboat to seek the inquisitor.

"I say, thee seems to be lost, my-daughter..." the Merman said blithely "...doest thou need directions?" the smiling aged water-nymph added
and dared himself to place a webbed-hand beside one of the oarlocks. Taking off her hat so it didn't fall in the water, Peggy surveyed the old
fish-man and found his appearance welcoming for such a lonely venue.

Like all Mer-folk, it was the eyes that cause land-dwellers to flinch when coming across such creatures. Large and mucous-covered, Mer
eyes never blink and can often be taken as a mark of the aquatic animal more than a sentient-being existing in the depths of the Great Sea.
The straggly beard that floated on the water's surface around his face, enjoyed small crustaceans that scurried and fidgeted in the strands
of hair and any snagged seaweed.

He sported no ears, but Peggy knew this from her days when she first came across a young mermaid being bartered for on a quayside. Some
jackass proprietor from a circus wished to buy the netted victim from a couple of trawler-men and if it hadn't been for the Witch's intervention,
the frightened girl -who later told her rescuer held the name 'Hooner', could've lived out her life in a nightmare of gawking people behind a
wall of glass.

But this older Siren of the Sea -a bit of a babbler too, introduced himself as 'Gadda' and apparently, it meant 'storm-follower'. Something that
Peggy believed she could do without, just now, but kept the negative-thought idling in her un-hatted head. Instead, the leaning Witch replied
with a query, "Der' yer know the way te' Murdigon?" she said amiably and saw the small muscles around the Merman's big glassy eyes move
in contemplation.

'Take yer' bloody time, how many islands can there be out here?!' Peggy mused to herself as the damp Fish-Fae premeditated her question.
But again, she caged her disrespect and waited for Gadda to point one of his scaly hands towards her hoped-for goal. Dislodging a baby
crab from his salt-encrusted bristles, he scratched his way to a resolution, one with a chunk of commentary that Peggy didn't really require.

"Thee keep thy prow facing the way it is and I will show you the way" he said gleefully and with that, produced a ragged tail from the water
behind him. Clutching the side of the boat, Gadda added "If it's the water-Kelpie thee seeks, take heed not fall for the scoundrel's glamour".
Bringing the damaged fin closer, the elderly sprite pointed at the marred paddle and warned "the varlet nearly had me for dinner!".

Peggy nodded and carefully avoiding Gadda's hand, reached for the oars to place them in the water. Maybe the geriatric Merman murmured
to himself that their blather had ended and went to show the way to Murdigon or it could've been that the bantam sorceress unknowingly
clanged the happy-go-lucky Gadda on the head with one of the oars, but either way, she soon spotted the Merman swimming ahead when
she glanced over her shoulder. "It's never bloody easy, is it?" Peggy muttered and put her back into propelling the boat forward.
...................................................

The evening was well underway when -with another wave of farewell to the helpful old dryad of the depths, Peggy steered her carriage to the
sandy beach of Murdigon and the home of a dictatorial Hippomare. Surprisingly, the wary little necromancer could hear frogs cheeping as she
waded from the shallows and felt dry-land under bare feet once more. Pulling the boat well out of the water, she kept a prudent eye out for
any movement in the shadows of the undergrowth.

"As I said..." Gadda suddenly repeated from his gloomy haven and almost caused Peggy to leak her bowels in the surprise. "...Take heed
against the Kelpie" he supplemented and slipped away into the depths of the Great Sea. Feeling her stomach move, the undergrowth was
where she made for and during her function, pondered on what to do next.
[Image: attachment.php?aid=953]
"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#3
The morning found Peggy Powler sitting beneath her satchel that hung from a branch of one the trees near to where she'd
landed. The crooked limb offered signs that it had struggled to bear the weight of its overnight occupant, but now seemed
relieved that its hardship had ended.

For the little woman opening the wax-paper-package, her thoughts were arboreal-related, but not regarding how much heft
they could handle. Murdigon was not what Peggy had first believed to be from other visits to the few islands that sat off the
coast of her usual runic region of constabulary.

In the instance of John Potter's home, trees of all sizes bustled for room on the restricted land and beneath them, shrubs and
wild flowers managed the best they could beneath the various sizes of canopies. The Great Sea's weather had an effect that
seemed to stifle prolific growth and only the hardiest of plant-life endured being away from the mainland. This far out across
the deep water, salt-tolerance is a factor, but to Peggy's perspective, it seemed the Isle of Murdigon hadn't acquired a copy of
the rules.

Where the little Witch was currently scoffing down one of the herb-rich sandwiches graciously donated by the boat-owner, the
trees all appeared to be the same height and the dense undergrowth seemed to mainly consist of Fog Ferns, Mary's Pasture,
Baby's Breath sprinkled with flowering Wolf's Bane.

The latter is a poisonous aconite that didn't usually bloom at this time in the season, but Peggy told herself that after she'd rid the
atoll's residents of Water-Kelpie, she should bag some of that Devil's Helmet for possible future charms. The quiet beach where
she'd landed was a fine sand that faded quickly into a mat of stunted grass that then submitted to the heavy brushwood.

Beyond the foliage, well that would need further investigation and to mark the end her review of the surroundings, Peggy sipped
some water from her canteen and burped. With the skiff looking safely stored and tied, the Last Witch of Underhill set-off through
the unusual woodland to solve the issue with the Hippomare.
...................................................

About an hour into her trek, the arduous work of finding a trail to avoid the ankle-snagging foliage became a chore that held most
of Peggy's focus. This was why a sweating sorceress didn't see the rickety camouflaged shelter and its doddering apprehensive
occupant until she was at the small clearing close to the entrance. The almost-naked dweller of the den scratched his bushy beard
and pondered on the appearance of the little female in the big hat.

"There'll be no more prattle about me coming back to Lillian..." the scrawny man wheezed and with a confident toothless chew of his
lips, hitched up the filthy piece of rag that hid his modesty and continued his mysterious warning. "...She treats me like a clodpoll and
I've had enough of her adulterine antics".

Peggy took off her headwear and wiped her brow. First the old mouthy-Merman and now some decrepit crazy bugger on an island
-she thought as she regarded the skinny-legged figure -who the Witch would wager could never catch a pig in a passage with those
knees.

Wisps of hair still held claim to the man's head, whilst its brethren had travelled south to congregate around a chin that -like the rest
of his face, hadn't enjoyed a wash in some weeks. Ribs showed under the skin of a chest that fought with his only garment on which
was the dirtiest and just like his slightly-smaller visitor, he wore no footwear.

Peggy quickly scanned the immediate area and resigned herself to the fact that this hoary idiot might be the only answer to how to
get to where the residents of Murdigon resided. With a slight curtsy and a stifled sigh, the diminutive wizard introduced herself.
"Fair travels Sir, me-name is Peggy Powler and Ah' seek the Water-Kelpie that's botherin' the folks of this island..." and was just
about to add her request for directions when the old man slipped back into the ramshackle cubbyhole he called home.

"She used me..." the hoarse voice said from the shadows of his den, "...like a stallion paraded for his passion, Lillian held me
with no respect and I have had enough" the raspy utterance told the visitor. Waiting there without any decent address of who
he was and why the vague shape loitering in the darkness was connecting his woes to her, Peggy was momentarily confused.
That was when she felt a twinge she hadn't sensed for a long time.

Slowly placing her hat back on her head, the little sorceress prepared to recite a spell to reveal the true nature of this old man
in the soiled loincloth. Accepting that her inner-voice was seeing through the glamour-shroud before her, Peggy realised she was
in the company of the captivating Water-Kelpie.

"It's a cruel world and Ah' can appreciate how someone as kindly as yer'self take umbrage wiv' the wants of yer' Missus..." she
said slowly and checked the mass of shrubbery that was starting to fade around her. "...Aye, it's a cryin' bloody shame, even fur'
a water-devil, divna' yer' agree?" Peggy hissed softly.

Then in a blink of a Bogle's eye, it was all gone. A well-worn track lay just beyond a untidy Rhododendron bush that was once
an imaginary shelter for an unscrupulous creature with a powerful gift. Calming her bubbling rage from the attempted ruse, the
sorceress walked from the clearing without any indication of alarm, but a docket of questions to ask herself later.

Peering up at the smoking chimney-pots of the hamlet ahead of her, the little soothsayer wondered if the brief encounter was
curtailed due to the Hippomare's own disquiet of its new visitor. The deceptive monster had drawn interest through the use
of befuddlement dipped in a dose of real-world quandaries, a regular day to someone not watching for the treacherous work
of the dark-side.

But she'd seen it, she'd ripped the curtain of mesmerism and spied the sneaky ogre hiding there. The Kelpie had fled and
maybe for now, the underhanded spectre might steer clear of the little woman in the dark-green poncho. With that possibility,
Peggy smiled beneath her hat and welcomed the return of her old-self.
[Image: attachment.php?aid=953]
"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#4
Another good one. 

Where do you get the ideas for all these beings?
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#5
(01-28-2022, 04:13 AM)ABNARTY Wrote: Another good one. 

Where do you get the ideas for all these beings?

Cheers and I must get on with the further telling!!

Peg Powler is a water spirit that legend has it, lives in a river near where I live. Known for her need to drag children
into the water, I just thought her name was an 'everyday' name and could be used for a character who goes around
in a make-believe world, subtly interacting with themes that are supposedly interesting in ours.

The magic-aspect is there to merely represent the 'Spiderman credo' -(great responsibility comes with great power)
and I try to keep it stunted for the reasons you mentioned in another tale of Peggy. One magic-spell could solve all
the problems Peggy encounters, but would that be entertaining?

I attempt to portray her as a down-to-earth blue-collar woman who holds a particular conviction that she doesn't push
onto others, but when called upon, acts for the whole and shrinks from the fame of resolving everyday -but unusual,
issues. This makes her necessary, but still an outsider.

The other characters come straight out of my head, but some of the places Peggy visits are a mixture of old village
names and have tales connected to their titles. Take Hexham for example, it has a story that involves stone heads,
werewolves in sheep-fleece and a weird curse from the heads discovered that may be quite modern.
Then why do we always attach the supernatural to the past?!

I just hope her endeavours are interesting and reflect a way of life many in this world, take as normal.
There are genuinely strange things that happen here and there's little need to get immersed in the trivia that certain
medias like to display as concerning. As Peggy would say, a lot of it is "A Bag of Shite!".
tinybiggrin
[Image: attachment.php?aid=953]
"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#6
(01-28-2022, 09:56 AM)BIAD Wrote:
(01-28-2022, 04:13 AM)ABNARTY Wrote: Another good one. 

Where do you get the ideas for all these beings?

Cheers and I must get on with the further telling!!

Peg Powler is a water spirit that legend has it, lives in a river near where I live. Known for her need to drag children
into the water, I just thought her name was an 'everyday' name and could be used for a character who goes around
in a make-believe world, subtly interacting with themes that are supposedly interesting in ours.

The magic-aspect is there to merely represent the 'Spiderman credo' -(great responsibility comes with great power)
and I try to keep it stunted for the reasons you mentioned in another tale of Peggy. One magic-spell could solve all
the problems Peggy encounters, but would that be entertaining?

I attempt to portray her as a down-to-earth blue-collar woman who holds a particular conviction that she doesn't push
onto others, but when called upon, acts for the whole and shrinks from the fame of resolving everyday -but unusual,
issues. This makes her necessary, but still an outsider.

The other characters come straight out of my head, but some of the places Peggy visits are a mixture of old village
names and have tales connected to their titles. Take Hexham for example, it has a story that involves stone heads,
werewolves in sheep-fleece and a weird curse from the heads discovered that may be quite modern.
Then why do we always attach the supernatural to the past?!

I just hope her endeavours are interesting and reflect a way of life many in this world, take as normal.
There are genuinely strange things that happen here and there's little need to get immersed in the trivia that certain
medias like to display as concerning. As Peggy would say, a lot of it is "A Bag of Shite!".
tinybiggrin

I appreciate it. It's good reading. 

"...a character who goes around in a make-believe world, subtly interacting with themes that are supposedly interesting in ours."

Well put. 
Reply
#7
(01-28-2022, 09:56 AM)BIAD Wrote:
(01-28-2022, 04:13 AM)ABNARTY Wrote: Another good one. 

Where do you get the ideas for all these beings?

Cheers and I must get on with the further telling!!

Peg Powler is a water spirit that legend has it, lives in a river near where I live. Known for her need to drag children
into the water, I just thought her name was an 'everyday' name and could be used for a character who goes around
in a make-believe world, subtly interacting with themes that are supposedly interesting in ours.

The magic-aspect is there to merely represent the 'Spiderman credo' -(great responsibility comes with great power)
and I try to keep it stunted for the reasons you mentioned in another tale of Peggy. One magic-spell could solve all
the problems Peggy encounters, but would that be entertaining?

I attempt to portray her as a down-to-earth blue-collar woman who holds a particular conviction that she doesn't push
onto others, but when called upon, acts for the whole and shrinks from the fame of resolving everyday -but unusual,
issues. This makes her necessary, but still an outsider.

The other characters come straight out of my head, but some of the places Peggy visits are a mixture of old village
names and have tales connected to their titles. Take Hexham for example, it has a story that involves stone heads,
werewolves in sheep-fleece and a weird curse from the heads discovered that may be quite modern.
Then why do we always attach the supernatural to the past?!

I just hope her endeavours are interesting and reflect a way of life many in this world, take as normal.
There are genuinely strange things that happen here and there's little need to get immersed in the trivia that certain
medias like to display as concerning. As Peggy would say, a lot of it is "A Bag of Shite!".
tinybiggrin

The stories are Very Interesting and the Characters are Great,,,,, it is a great story to read  even Translated in Mandarin Chinese. (makes it easier for me)
Once A Rogue, Always A Rogue!
[Image: attachment.php?aid=936]
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#8
(01-28-2022, 04:37 PM)guohua Wrote: The stories are Very Interesting and the Characters are Great,,,,, it is a great story to read  even Translated in Mandarin Chinese.
(makes it easier for me)

Then we're all enjoying it then!!
tinybiggrin


The interesting thing about the Isle of Murdigon is that geographically, it's shaped like a tadpole or slim teardrop.
Being a bane to the many vessels of the sea-faring fisherman from the mainland, the trawlers have to travel past the
rounder part of the island rather than set a straight course to the deeper waters of the Great Sea.

The island's tail-like extremity stretches out for about nine leagues northwards and has one saving grace and that is
it has a lighthouse manned by volunteers from one of the three villages on the island, a redemption due to a perilous
underwater reef just off the tip of the land. 

Peggy Powler had arrived near the fatter part of the atoll and near the village of Byefleet Howe. A title derived from the
artificially raised area of land that resides between the reclusive community and the beach that endures the winter storms
that come in from the sea. The barrow or mound -called a howe, was built to protect the village from the worst that any of
the wild tempests can throw at them and of course, it's an ideal location to wave good luck to the fleets of fishermen who
brave those violent waters.

The stunted surrounding woodland seemed to have no intention on encroaching on the neat outpost and a distant sound
of an hatchet hitting a tree told Peggy that the main fuel of Byefleet Howe was timber and the cause of no such arboreal
invasion taking place.

Smoke swirled upwards from the red-potted chimneys of the village and surrendering to the occasional breeze stealing in
from over the mound, the little Witch walked in a gossamer fog and breathed in the bouquet of burning lumber. A large dark
shape stood in the empty square of the community and for a moment, Peggy wondered if it was just another of the Water
-Kelpie's tricks. Realising it was the watering-hole of an almost-forgotten legend, she smiled and approached the tall piece
of marble architecture.

Moments later, Peggy remembered another aspect that made those who lived on Murdigon a little different from the lesser
water-surrounded folk. It came in the form of a greeting. This recall was prompted by a voice accompanying a cheerful
apple-shaped woman appearing from behind the well. "Eh, are yer' feet dry enough?" she asked plainly and adjusted a
pail -of what the little sorceress assumed was drinkable water, into a more comfortable position.

Many of whom live on that part of the coastal area beside the Great Sea know of the odd ornament that resides on the
piece of land that resembles a tadpole, it's an old tale and due to its age, as just become something that holds note
with those getting on in years. Salutations in Byefleet Howe are an oddity too.

Byefleet Howe boasts a lavishly-decorated well that offers a welcoming marble winged-seraph standing with legs apart
over the stone-walled borehole with a bucket attached to a rope that disappears beneath the carved flowing gown of the
benevolent Archangel. For most visitors to Byefleet Howe, this bizarre sight would be enough to cause a conniption fit
of laughter, but to the Last Witch of Underhill, it wasn't the strangest thing she'd ever seen.

"Er..." Peggy quickly searched for the appropriate answer to a Murdigon reception and responded with "...Like a crab
at high-tide". This brought a straight-laced nod from the gladsome fishwife as she lumbered on her way with her burden
to who-knows-where. "If'n yer' need a tongue to find yer' way, me-name is Tawny Codswell and Ah' live at the green door"
Tawny informed the newcomer in the big hat.

The smiling Witch waited until the bulky biddy was suitably distanced before peering again at the unusual sculpture and
mused on the age-old outrage of why-and-how the chiselled divine-being called 'Adjef' had found her home assisting the
residents of Byefleet Howe to retrieve water from a natural source. It should be a tale for another time, but since Peggy
was taking stock of the surrounding squat single-floor houses that made up the quaint village, I believe we may have a
short moment to explain.
...................................................

Almost a century ago, a sculptor -who's name got lost in all the scandal from his creation, carved what everyone in the
county of Sandingham agreed is the patron saint of fishermen. Purchased by a wealthy mine-owner in the region, the
open-armed effigy was initially set in the opulent gardens of his home until his wife told him in no uncertain terms to get
rid of it.

It is said that his beloved was of taste and that she viewed the statue as ostentatious. Also noted in the legend was that
if her ever-pleasing husband wished to continue his visits to her boudoir, the chunk of marble needed to leave the property
post-haste.

The frugal businessman decided to place the Angel of sea-going anglers down near his mining company, where one of his
engineers came up with an idea -that to most, would be ludicrous. However, the pit-owner agreed it was a fine notion and
so an ingenious set of block and tackles were innovatively inserted into a hollow between the seraph's agape legs to be used
in the delivery of equipment down into the mineshaft. Some might think that mining-designers have a wicked sense of humour,
but it seems their employers are not allowed in on their pranks.

Of course, when the industrialist's spouse heard about the immodest contraption, the statue was taken away and dumped
onto the residents of Pucklewatch in a gesture of goodwill. The narrative states that they didn't want it and who can blame
them considering the sight of the dangling roped-bucket would make them the laughing-stock of Sandingham County.
As it turned out, the less-starchy community of Byefleet Howe proposed that such a device -and what the image primarily
represented, would make a fine froufrou for their solitary village.

After deliberating whether to install the sculpture beside a nearby freshwater pool -where Peggy believed the Hippomare took
as a home, the people of Byfleet conceded the sympathetic statue would -for some unknown reason, look better standing atop
a to-be-constructed well in the hamlet's square. The same water source that was fed by the underground aquifer that kept the
pool filled and buckets of the villagers.

And that's the tale of how Adjef the Angel now pulls water from a pulley beneath her stone gown.
...................................................

As the mid-morning sun glistened off Adjef's flowing eternally-still locks, Peggy perused the tidy traditional white-washed
homes and wondered why it seemed to peaceful. Surely the duplicitous Hippomare's antics would've fraught the folk of
Byefleet Howe to be in a state of angst and communal decorum would've fallen. Yet, the little Witch took the feeling that
these residents were unaffected by the Water-Kelpie's allurement and maybe the voyage had been for nothing.

"Dry are they?" a man asked as he passed by with an armful of firewood and after muttering "oh fur' Hernes sake" under
her breath, Peggy pleasantly replied "Like Mellifor's finger in a drought" and hoped it didn't sound too stupid. The nodding
peasant continued on his ambling route to the house with the blue door, two cottages along from the ever-pragmatic Tawny
Codswell's abode. "That'll be right then" he countered and left the loitering Witch with a look of bemusement on her face.
What was it with knowing the condition of one's feet?!

Walking past the flamboyant well, Peggy Powler continued her investigation and the impact -if any, the foul creature of deceit
was having on the residents of Byefleet Howe.
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With another bite from John Potter's donated hoagie, Peggy Powler watched the boy recast his hook into the slender channel
between a line of rocks and the shoreline on where he stood. Sitting up on the artificial mound, the little Witch cogitated on where
to get a footing on what the Water-Kelpie was doing here and how she could banish it from the Isle of Murdigon.

Byefleet Howe just seemed another village where the day passed slowly and its inhabitants went about their chores without fear
of a beguiling phantom demon luring them to their deaths. Tawny Codswell displayed the regular persona for a bucolic-orientated
commoner, a woman with a routine and a hard-headedness that derives from daily rituals absent of breath-taking mystery.

Oh there were oddities here -and not just weird statue in the village, the Hippomare had attempted to use its glamour immediately
when Peggy set out to visit one of the three communities on the island.

But what was sticking on the chewing necromancer's craw was the questions of -is Byefleet Howe relevant to the Kelpie's false
curtain of discouragement to meet the people of this particular hamlet...? Or is the Witch's actual investigation into the ethereal
being's presence on the island, the reason for its sudden appearance that morning? Would the communities of Camden Bight
and The Narrows shine any further light on Peggy's inquiry?

Finishing her lunch, Peggy believed the lad seemed content with his pursuit to catch something from the swift-moving tidal current
that raced between the seaweed-clinging jagged ridge and the boulder-strewn sandy beach. To disturb his objective didn't sit well
with the Last Witch of Underhill and a viable answer may well be out of his reach anyway.

A wary rabbit resisted adding a point of view on the Witch's impasse and ducked its head back into one of the many holes that
perforated the well-manicured bank. Peggy took that as a sign to getting on with her probe and rose to return to Byefleet Howe.

That was when she heard the cry of panic and saw the young angler attempting to swim against the fast current that wished to take
him out to sea. Holding onto her hat, Peggy hurried down the slope and in her haste, almost slid into the same treacherous waters
the boy was struggling with. "Help me!" he cried and added a gurgling sound as his head dipped beneath the foamy waves once
more. Peggy dug into her satchel and murmured a quickly-clutched-at spell.

A couple of minutes later, the failed hunter of Red Bream and Grey Mullet was no longer emulating his prey in its habitat, but instead
sat on a sea-smoothed boulder and breathing heavily from his attempt to copy a Merman. His saviour kept her own inhalation level
to maintain a level of authority and busied herself rewinding the rope she'd magically plucked from her bag.

"I owe yer' me life, Missus..." the kid stuttered between gasps and began to twist water from his shirt-tail, "...me-name is Samuel
Gurnard and me-Ma is gonna whup me good when she sees me like this" he added with tone of contrition. Tucking the cordage
back into her large purse, Samuel's rescuer introduced herself as she took off her wide-brimmed hat. "Ah'm Peggy Powler and Ah
have te' agree, no mother likes a drowned son" she conceded as she approached the melancholic member of the Gurnard family.

"Aye, yer' in bother alright" the little Witch softy affirmed with a genial tone. Taking Peggy's gesture of lowering her large hat onto
his head as a sign of mild commiseration,  Samuel continued with his self-analysis of his current saturated state and how the
woman who had brought him into the world was also a dab-hand with a willow switch. 

Peggy smiled as the hat did its work and not noticing that his clothes had suddenly dried, the seated lad sighed and gazed longingly
out to sea. "All I want to do is go to sea in one them big boats I see pass by here every day..." Samuel said dolefully "...and get off
this island once and for all". His gaze moved to the little bare-footed female beside him and his eyes hinted that he needed advice.

Concluding the youngster wasn't the Kelpie and all of this wasn't one of its sneaky schemes to delay her, Peggy reset her hat on her
own head and asked "tell me about Murdigon".
...................................................

The Great Sea continued to surge its water through the gully that the Gurnard-lad had almost drowned in and after locating his rod
snagged between two boulders, the unlikely pair sat atop the grassy mound as Samuel explained his home. Peggy peered across
the stunted forests of Murdigon and in the distance, could just make out drifts of smoke that indicated the thorp of Camden Bight.

"They're strange folk there..." the boy informed the quiet woman beside him, "...mostly farmers and do little fishing except for the
odd Tommycod and Blubbershark. I used to accompany me-Pa there when he went for tallow to make his candles, but since they
got a cart sent over from the mainland, the fat-renderer visits us and The Narrows once a month".

Peggy nodded her understanding, but watched Samuel's face for clues to what he was really thinking and noticing the slight frown,
she asked him why he thought Camden Bight was unusual. The boy shrugged and answered "It's just when I've been up here at night
huntin' rabbits, I've seen lights in the woods near the village". Any assumptions to what might be occurring out there in the dark hours,
Samuel seemed to keep to himself, "just strange" he reiterated softly.

Getting to her feet, the sorceress pondered a charm to tickle-out of the lad's theories as to what was going on in the community,
but instead, asked him when the next delivery of wax was due. Samuel also stood up and began to set off for home. "The day after
tomorrow, I think" he replied over the same shoulder his fishing rod resided. Peggy followed the boy back towards Byefleet Howe
and hoped she would be better prepared for when the tallow cart came to visit.

"Will yer' take supper with us, Mrs Powler?" Samuel meekly asked as they reached the obtrusive well-ornament and with a slight curtsy
-something that the boy had never witnessed before, Peggy answered that she'd be honoured to.
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How do I subscribe to a thread?

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(01-31-2022, 03:48 AM)ABNARTY Wrote: How do I subscribe to a thread?

I don't want to miss updates to the story because it falls behind in the portal feed and I forget.

At the bottom left of your screen 

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(01-31-2022, 04:14 AM)guohua Wrote:
(01-31-2022, 03:48 AM)ABNARTY Wrote: How do I subscribe to a thread?

I don't want to miss updates to the story because it falls behind in the portal feed and I forget.

At the bottom left of your screen 

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#13
It had been a while since Peggy Powler enjoyed a sit-down meal and she was determined to enjoy this one.
On the mainland, there was always this cool distancing among families and the little Witch who'd occasionally take supper
with them. Maybe they feared a poor fare would provoke an evil curse from a hungry and angry necromancer and hence the
lack of simple good will. Kin can be strange some times.

But here amongst the Gurnard clan, no such uncertainty prevailed, Pa Gurnard had come into the home a few minutes after
she and Samuel arrived, nodded his introduction to Peggy, asked about the lack of moisture on her feet and then rumbled
past the small visitor and disappeared into the kitchen to speak to his wife.

He was a door of a man, wide and with arms that told of hard labour and long days. He carried a shock of white hair that
confused a person from guessing his age and his well-lined -but unruffled face, assured a viewer he wasn't a greenhorn
to the Great Sea's weather. Decked-out in a home-made set of dungarees, a plain brown collar-less shirt and knee-high
boots, Pa Gurnard was a restrained man who knew the world didn't owe him any favours.

But just like nature desired, Ma Gurnard was the total antithesis of her man. With a body the shape of a brewer's barrel and
a face of someone who had pushed two sons from her body, daily shovelled nutrition into her men and kept that nosy Tawny
Codswell from suggesting her house was dusty, Mary Gurnard's height assured the same viewer that she was burdened to
only carry half of her husband's self-restraint.

The evidence for such a headstrong behaviour came from a female's raised voice strongly advising Mr Gurnard to "Wash yer'
bloomin' hands yer' great galoot and get yer' big-backside at the table". Tucking the hat into her bag, Peggy readied herself
to be steered by Samuel to the wooden furniture mentioned and accepted who was truly the head of the Gurnard household.
...................................................

Pa Gurnard assured his wife that the potatoes and fish were tasty, but it was the chunk of plum-duff that had done him in.
The meal was grand and Peggy had to agree with the content man sitting back at the head of the table, the hot thick fruity suet
was a treat and guaranteed to stick to one's ribs. "Ah thank yer Missus Gurnard fur' the fine meal" the little Witch said respectfully
and glanced over again at the handsome young man sitting beside his brother.

Jessie Gurnard was what Peggy guessed his father looked like at nineteen summers-old. His hair was coal-black like a crow's
wing and his Pa's physical essence was already in the making. He looked strong and when arriving home with two arm-loads
of kindling, he carried them with an ease of well-used muscles that could give a honest day's work.
"I've got to agree with Miss Powler, Ma'am, you outdone yer'self again, fur' sure" Jessie affirmed and offered Peggy a smile
that she made her toes fizz and her cheeks redden slightly.

"Aye, Ah' can confidently say me-task on Murdigon will be made quicker now wiv' such grand tuck onboard..." the little Witch
said when she felt the quietness of the supper-table had ran its course. "...Yon water-Kelpie will be botherin' yer' nay-more,
when Ah get me hands on it" she added with an upbeat nod and quickly read her audience after the statement.

All four of them stared back at their diminutive guest like she'd asked to remove her poncho, Peggy meekly smiled back at
a quartet of confused country bumpkins hearing something that was beyond their grasp. But it was Ma Gurnard who spoke
first as she rose to take the empty bowls back to the kitchen. "Yer'll be referrin' to Moosa, the critter in the pond -I take it?"
she proposed enigmatically and left before an answer could be delivered.

Samuel stared miserably across the table at the woman who'd saved his life and his backside from  his mother's wrath.
The lad's features spoke of his inability to understand an adult's cunningness to decieve the innocent and his words gave
form to what he was thinking. "Oh no Miss Powler, Moosa's done no harm, he's gentle as a lamb, ain't he Pa?" Sam said
and looked to his father for support. "Don't magic him away... please, Miss Powler" he bleated and with quickly grabbing
the remaining crockery, fled to the kitchen.

Peggy looked down at the bare wood of the rustic table and attempted to calculate her situation. Who or whatever Moosa
was didn't sound like a devious body-snatcher. She'd assumed the reports she'd heard from the Midnight Mail Carrier were
not only true, but obviously evident enough that those who lived on the island would be fully aware of the hybrid monster.

"As there been complaints on the mainland about the animal?..." Pa Gurnard flatly asked and grunting to leave the table, he
reached to the stone mantle-piece to plug his pipe with tobacco. "...The dumb creature never leaves the pond and I honestly
can't see it being strong enough to get to the sea" he mused as he stoked the pipe's embers alive.

Peggy looked towards the kitchen and then at the man making clouds of smoke next the fire. "Ah've maybe got me signals
crossed and Ah' apologise fur' upsettin' the boy...." she said abjectly, "...Me-task here seems te'' be unwarranted" the wistful
Witch murmured to nobody in particular.

But it was Jessie who broke the coldness that their sullen guest seemed to be dealing with, when he patted her hand and
whispered "Yer' not referrin' to the Caldwell children going missin' are yer'?". It was Peggy's turn to look puzzled now.

The bonny young man showed a visage of simple genuineness as he looked over at his father, "Yer' know Pa, the two
kids that were said to have drowned just off the sandy-bit facin' the mainland. Maybe their Grandpa was right about
what he said he saw?" Jessie offered to the man deliberating in the aromatic fog.

The biggest of the Gurnards looked shrewdly towards the tiny figure sitting on the too-large chair of his dining table, she
had followed his son's gaze and now searched the father's facial countenance for a clue to what he was thinking.
"There's no devil-sprite swimmin' around Murdigon, Miss Powler... the old man is crazy after losing his grand-bairns,
that's all" he said in a tone of confidence that failed to convince his eyes.

"Whey, it would'na do me any harm te' speak to this old fella, now would it?" Peggy asked in the form that was almost a
mewl and gathering herself, she appended "Then we'll know fur' certain whether a water-Kelpie took 'em or Ah'm just
flappin' me-arms at windmills" This last statement drew a terse giggle from the eldest son of who she was attempting
to seek counsel from.

Pa Gurnard nodded and tapping the cinders of his late-father's pipe onto the hearth of the fire, he nodded his accord.
"Aye, well the old man lives in a shack just outside of Camden Bight since his Lillian passed over. He's a rum bugger,
so have yer' wits about yer'" he advised and with that, strode into the kitchen.

The Last Witch of Underhill turned back to the strapping young man sitting across the table and allowed the silky hush
between them decipher any feelings other than genuine civility for being with a supper-guest. Then the deep coffee
-brown pools that Peggy wished to dive into, moved to peer at the kitchen doorway and the moment was lost.

"Did yer' hear Samuel...? Miss Powler thinks Moosa isn't the culprit she's huntin' for and that the Caldwell young un's
might have been grabbed by a water-Kippa" Jessie said enthusiastically and the lustful spellbinder steeled herself
from correcting him. "She's goin' to see Grampa Caldwell to find out what he saw" and again, patted Peggy's hand.
The teenager's glee almost caused the woman he was smiling at to forget to ask who Lillian was.
...................................................

"Are yer' sure yer'll be okay out here?" Samuel asked earnestly as the little Witch fastened the strap of her satchel
over one of the low beams in the shed where the Gurnards kept their work-tools. Old fishing nets and a threadbare
lobster-pot squatted amongst chunks of wood still waiting to hewn into handles for axes, hoes and backside whips.

Peggy made sure her makeshift bed was secure before she turned to answer the lad who had now forgiven her,
the tousled-hair Samuel waited beneath a small horseshoe nailed to the shed's doorframe. "This'll be fine" she
said absently as she pondered on the old charm.

"Yer divna' have any twine, do yer?" the smirking sorceress asked mysteriously.
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The next morning, Peggy Powler only picked at her breakfast as the supper last night was still heavy in her stomach.
Being half-Fae, the little Witch was accustomed to grabbing a bite on the move and even then, the food would be sparing.
Still, she showed willing and thanked Ma Gurnard for the unsalted porridge.

"What has the day waitin' for yer', Miss Powler?" the rotund matriarch asked as she cleared the table of where her men had
been. Pa Gurnard had risen before the dawn had broken and his sons had followed not long after. The elder spending the day
fishing and finishing off an order for candles that the Barnett family had asked for. Jessie- under instruction from his mother,
had gone to gather apples from a nearby wild orchard, whilst Samuel was collecting sunberries from an area close to where
Peggy had pulled John Potter's boat ashore.

The borrower of that craft smiled at the woman rolling towards the kitchen and recalling an act she'd performed the previous
evening, she rose and followed Ma Gurnard into the realm of steaming pots and a glowing stove. "Ah' have a confession te'
make..." the Last Witch of Underhill admitted cautiously as she surveyed the homely domain of a woman not much taller than
herself, "...Ah borrowed a hoss-shoe from the shed fur' a task Ah' believe will be waitin' fur' me further down the trail".

Ma Gurnard nodded without looking at their guest and replied "There's somethin' on this island yer' think is takin' folk and I
cannot help yer' there, Miss Powler. But if you think it best to use that Devil-shoe to find the critter, then good luck to yer and
watch yer' back, Camden Bight are a strange stock...". Plunging her hands into a sink full of Cockle-ash and kettle-hot water,
the no-nonsense battle-axe added "...Maybe the thing yer' chase is hidin' there". Again, it was a statement, not a question.

Peggy adjusted her satchel and was about to give her leave when something that had been said the previous evening caught
the Witch's net of investigation. "Who was Lillian?" she asked and checked one of the pockets in her poncho for the borrowed
item she'd mentioned. It was there, along with a bundle of twine used for lobster-pot repairs.

Samuel's mother looked over her shoulder and scrutinised the little bare-footed sorceress fidgeting in her seldom-washed
shawl, to many -even Tawny Codswell, the look was daunting. "Now she was a strange one, that lassie..." Mrs Gurnard's tone
changed slightly now that Peggy had touched on a subject that intrigued the scrubber of used breakfast bowls.

"...Would roam the woods at night after her grand-children fell foul to the sea -she would. Call out like a madwoman and even
make water right in front of whoever saw her". Ma Gurnard's wrung on her hands on her apron and struggled not to show that
she was indulging herself in the woes of those who's senses had gone awry. Was it a way of showing a pride that she had the
ability to harness three grown males...? Peggy didn't judge, instead she listened.

"Crazy as an outhouse-rat -my man would say and I remember a couple of winters ago, him and our Jessie volunteered to
search for her with Lillian's husband. Told me Chester Caldwell -that's her fella, cried right through the night as they beat the
bushes for her." Ma Gurnard raised her eyebrows to end her report on the behaviour of the grandparents who'd lost the only
possibility of immortality.

With a sigh and a waddle to prepare her family's midday meal, a final comment on this mysterious woman came in the form
of a whisper. "Aye, Lillian Caldwell -Herne bless her, was away with the fairies and her death was needless, if yer' pardon
me-slack babble". With the last of the crockery steaming dry on the draining-board, Peggy wished Ma Gurnard a good day
and left the portly mother of the handsome Jessie to her thoughts.
...................................................

Moosa was a dragon... sort of. Samuel had finished his chores and after assuring his Ma that he wouldn't be late for his noon
victuals, had agreed to show the little Witch where this supposedly-harmless beastie resided. About an hour later, Peggy and
the boy arrived at a pool surrounded by bushes and the uniform-sized trees of Murdigon.

Moosa's home wasn't much to look at and with the clarity due to the porous rocks that made up the subterranean aquifers, the
inquisitive necromancer couldn't see how anything could remain hidden in such clear water. A small school of blue-coloured fish
seemed to struggle on which side of their habitat they preferred, although the curtain of bubbles ascending from the the carpet
of chick-grass that clung to most of the surfaces within the pool seemed to be an excuse for their constant choosing problem.

Copying her guide, Peggy carefully climbed one of the stunted trees that leaned towards the pond and watched Samuel for any
hints on how to draw this would-be water-Kelpie from the crystal-clear depths. After settling himself in a crook of a solid branch,
Samuel fished out something from his pocket and dropped it into the pool, the small splash caused ripples that mimicked the
bubble's undulations and then all was quiet again.

Making sure she wouldn't accidently become food for the elusive serpent, the thigh-displaying Shaman adjusted herself to a
more secure setting on a larger branch, before adjusting her attire to be more modest. "Where is the bugg... where is Moosa?"
she hissed loud enough for Samuel to hear and hoped her correction had gone unheard by the lad reaching into his pocket
again.

As the second sunberry broke the surface of the pool, a dark shape suddenly appeared from the opposite side from where
the two observers were perched. Peggy stared at the long-necked creature aiming directly to where the kid had dropped the
fruits and realised by its four flippers and stubbed tail that Moosa was what they call a 'Soap Dragon', a title derived from a
century-dead explorer named Conville Seuss.
...................................................

When real Dragons were first discovered in the great Mathas forests and then later, inhabiting the massive swamplands in the
southern areas, some of those who knew of the power these cunning creatures were capable of, attempted to catalogue those
found as more and more people branched out across the land.

For example, when Ravenwell County was being established, three of the scaly beasts were found to be able to mimic human
speech, but this didn't mean they could be tamed. That important fact was arrived at after a family of four were gobbled-up when
they approached the bayou where these monsters roosted. Most Dragons tend to stay with the twenty-feet-in-length range, but
some have reported brutes up to thirty feet long. They can outrun a man easily and probably keep up with a horse for possibly
a full league.

Regardless of what legends say, Dragons don't fly and technically, can't shoot flames from their mouths. The venom is deemed
combustible when allowed to ferment for a day or so, but not incendiary directly from the Parotid gland where the poison is
stored in a Dragon. There are other facts that might pique the interest of those who may dabble in the world of these intelligent
Draco, but it's not very comfortable sitting in a tree with a breeze blowing up one's hiney. Just sayin'.

Now oddly enough, the first 'false' Dragon -or what was agreed to be related to the Draco species, was found swimming in a
cave-pool out in the desert of Wildhorn County. This was almost two hundred years-ago and the learned scholars of that time
scoured other areas that may've contained this anomaly to what they'd believed was a settled identification undertaking.

A total of one hundred and seventy-three were found and apart from variations in colour, they all exhibited a mild temperament,
but shied away from human beings and tended live in almost the most barren of places. Conville Seuss -a noted adventurer
and natural historian, branded them 'Soap Dragons' due to the expression 'to soft-soap' or deceive.

No information was available regarding the sunberries being part of the diet of these placid creatures, but we can take it as fact
that they tend to graze on chick-grass.
...................................................

Peggy watched the dark-brown Dragon glide underwater and snap at the slowly-sinking treats and accepting the water-beast
held no peril for anyone venturing too close to the pool, half of the Soap Dragon's audience quietly clambered down from their
temporary roost. "Aye, Moosa's a canny pet" she said softly and noticed the the animal's reaction to her voice.

Then seeing the crestfallen Samuel emulate her gymnastics -with more agility, mind you, the lad offered an attempted smile
to show his good faith. " So you're happy that he's not your water-Kelpie then?" he asked hopefully and his grin widened when
Peggy nodded her agreement. Just as the pair turned to leave, Moosa stuck his head out of the water and gave his verdict too.

"Belphy!" was the sound and to those who eat and sleep in Byefleet Howe, Camden Bight and The Narrows, such a silly noise
would be something to guffaw at and accept that Soap Dragons are docile creatures that sometimes wish to communicate across
species. But to Peggy Powler, she recognised her own name in the language of these arcane animals.

The surprised Witch held the boy's shoulder as she rummaged around in her mind for the appropriate words to reply, but it was
Samuel who spoke next. "Moosa means well, he's just happy with the sunberries I brought him" he explained proudly to the rapt
sorceress gazing towards the pool.

"Belphy my-my benga, bunnie-way..." Peggy gibbered as the startled lad looked on. " Belphy pargonay bunnie-way tell douf?"
The smooth features of the serpent became clearer as Moosa extended his neck further from the surface and large dark eyes
sought to understand the situation. "Bunnie-way sed douf glay-way manna" the beast carefully pronounced and slowly submerged
backinto the world it knew.

"Whey yer' bugg..." Peggy began and remembered who was with her. "Whey, Ah'll go te' our back-door" she exclaimed to the
gawping youngster. "Now, we'd never not be late fur' yer fodder, me-lad, yer' Ma will have my skin iffn' Ah keep yer' any longer"
she added and steered the confused boy back the way they came.

The only talk from the little spellbinder on the way home was to ask if Samuel was certain the tallow-deliverer came tomorrow
and the rest of the chat came from the boy who had witnessed a magical palaver between his pet Soap Dragon and the woman
in the big hat. It seemed to Samuel, the world outside of Murdigon had lots more for him to discover.
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#16
Where the protective burrow-ridden mound of Byefleet Howe relents to the sharp Marram grass and swaying clumps of Thrift
of coastal land, the half-buried boulders poking from the sand looked like forsaken bald guardians to the bare-footed woman
making her way down to the beach. The cartilage remains of a massive Blubbershark lay just before the ebbs of the low tide
and seemed like a skulking watcher of the curious visitor to the Isle of Murdigon.

The Gurnard's home was behind her and after graciously declining Ma Gurnard's midday meal, Peggy Powler had decided to
take in the serene environs of the small village beside the sea. From where she stood, the rear of the few homes that made up
the community could be viewed and to the curious onlooker, the upside-down rowboats and heaps of nets showed that the folks
of Byefleet Howe weren't what one could call an everyday sea-going populace.

The cheerful sorceress felt the tide-sodden sand squelch between her toes as she wandered along the shore contrary to where
she'd first met Samuel yesterday. With the breeze wafting her shoulder-length hair, the warm tranquility of solitude returned like
an old friend she was more than willing to embrace. It was nice to be alone with her own thoughts and even though the puzzle
of Murdigon was still to be untangled, the buoyant Last Witch of Underhill accepted that a few moments of self-indulgence was
good medicine for her recently-dented psyche.

Peering ahead, two unusual structures stood like tall spiders among the smooth boulders and nearing the rickety constructions,
she realised their functions and answered the reason for so many of Byefleet Howe's vessels being beached. One of the wooden
legs of these spindly supports held stubs where a person could climb into the tiny one-man hut precariously set on the top.

Peggy assumed one of these flimsy buildings would be where Pa Gurnard spent the early hours of each day and how he obtained
his wife's appetising fish-pie ingredients. With an imperceptible whimsical nod to acknowledge that -at least, one enigma was now
solved, Peggy ambled onwards along the peaceful shoreline and accepting that her time of personal soul-soothing was over, began
her analysis of what she currently knew about the ambiguous report of a water-Kelpie.
...................................................

The animal called 'Moosa' was certainly not part of the Murdigon riddle, but had offered -in its own primitive manner of speak, that
some sort of evil force was lurking on the island. The meek Soap Dragon had hinted at a ghost or translucent shape via the use of
the rudimentary expression 'glay-way manna', meaning a form of a glowing intelligence. Sadly, due to Samuel Gurnard's presence
at Moosa's pool, Peggy felt it unseemly to question the timid beast any longer.

From listening to the boy's family, she felt confident that Byefleet Howe was not a place where any cryptic anomaly frequented.
The sparse village imparted no impact of an insidious residence, nor did Peggy get the notion that the few cottages were a false
stage of banality that her first interaction on Murdigon implied. The social daily rituals of the folk of Byefleet Howe prompted little
in the way of convincing the little Witch that such a malevolent force was hiding here.
...................................................

So what was the original story Peggy had heard from the postal-messenger finding the wandering warlock on a country lane two
weeks ago? Watching a piebald Skimfeather trailing its beak along the surface of the sedate water, she tugged at the memory of
her encounter with the Midnight Mail Man called Fletcher.

"I heard Pucklewatch was cancelling their Plough Monday festivities..." Fletcher said as he thrust his legs down the sleeves of his
pants. "...It seems the Elders are getting a little tired of the wilder-side of the celebrations" he quipped and lifting his eyebrows to
display his position on such political correctness, looked back at the prone naked woman laying on her poncho.

Peggy mentally shrugged to herself and accepted their time together was drawing to a close. Lovemaking was not a common act
for the roving Fae-wizard, it was just something that the chatting pair had realised would occur during their journey together along
Calder's Way. Midnight Mail Carriers were regular travellers of the renown highway and Peggy's wayfaring was often quickened by
these dutiful messengers on horseback offering her the back of their saddle.

Shrugging on his tunic, the long-haired Postman waited for the little Witch to finish dressing without looking. Even out here in the leafy 
boondocks, one's comportment is important when rolling in the grass with passionate spellbinders. "So Widdicombe is where you're
heading then, Peggy?" Fletcher asked and turned to find his hitch-hiker setting the too-big hat on her head. A cat that seemed to have
got the cream peered back from under the wide-brimmed bonnet and nodded her answer.

It wasn't until Fletcher was reaching to haul the Witch up onto his grass-chewing gelding that he mentioned another piece of gossip
he'd heard about the county of Sandingham and the villain specifically being a water-Kelpie. Knowing the results that such spirits can
bring, Peggy had contemplated the news during the two-mile trek to where she and Fletcher would part company. Widdicombe Fair
was a frivolous destination compared to ridding an island of a people-stealing hellion and so with a wink and a wave to the Midnight
Mail Carrier, she set her bare feet towards the coast.
...................................................

Maybe the herald of information and deliverer of epistles had misheard or had misconceived the details of this wiggle-waggle, but
Fletcher wouldn't have chanced pulling the Witch's chain for personal gratification. That had only happened once and the rascal had
endured a whole day as a lizard fastened to the tail of the horse he'd once rode. No, the message was sincere, but the spine of the
account was hidden.

Alas, any further rumination on the subject of a water-Kelpie fled as a small shadow appeared from beneath her feet and spead onto
the virginal sand in front of the musing investigator." Ma sent me to get yer', Miss Powler..." Samuel called and releasing a breath of
relief, the lone shore-walker turned to smile another sort of messenger. "...Yer' not to be late for her scrumptious apple pie" the boy
stated and his stern face showed the conviction in his words.

It would be Peggy's last night at the Gurnard household and if Samuel's recollection of the tallow-deliverer's routine was correct, she
would be travelling by cart to the village of Camden Bight tomorrow. The treat of a homemade dessert was a welcoming thought and
grabbing the youngster's hand, they ambled back towards the huddled houses of Byefleet Howe and talked about their respective
afternoon.

If a Kelpie -or whatever the Isle of Mudigon is sheltering, was out there, it would have to wait for its nemesis to finish her pudding.
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#17
So much for a quick ride to Camden Bight -a disgruntled Peggy Powler thought as she kept her eyes on the bumpy track ahead.
The dour unkempt mule broke wind again as it pulled the tallow-producer's cart towards its next customer and the ornery driver
sitting next to the sullen Witch seemed to be resistant to the animal's rancid vapours.

"Bad carrots" Alf Slater grunted and clucked his tongue to remind the begrimed half-donkey that its true purpose was to draft the
two-wheeled vehicle and not pollute the air with its poor digestion. Peggy remained quiet and sought a better mood by recalling
her farewell to the Gurnard family.
...................................................

The one thing that will always stay with the Last Witch of Underhill was the look that Samuel Gurnard gave Peggy as she climbed
aboard the battered old buggy supposedly heading back to Camden Bight. Peggy had given her thanks to each of the Gurnards
and even stopped herself from returning Jessie's kiss on her cheek when he'd innocently whispered his goodbye a few seconds
before his parents had come out from their cosy cottage.

Samuel had watched from the window and instead of him being the foremost -due to him being the first to meet the little Witch,
in showing his glumness for his new-found friend's leaving, he kept a distance that Peggy wondered about afterwards. The boy
had waved, that was true, but his features told of a loss far-more than a mere passing-through visit of someone who's company
she assumed he enjoyed.

Now as the jarring journey began, Peggy had looked back and offering another sign of her leaving, saw the dejection on his face
and with it, came the question. What was he thinking was going to happen to her?

The tallow-maker was a surly man who'd at first took the stance that he wasn't a carrier of folk and that his carriage was purely
for cargo. However, after Pa Gurnard had spoken quietly to the overweight unshaven Alf Slater, it seemed an accord had been
reached. Peggy took it that she'd made some impression on the giant in the patched-dungarees that had nothing to do with the
gold coin that the little sorceress had left on the mantle-piece next to his pipe.

"The' should know Ah've got te' drop off some of me-stock te' old-man Tuttle..." Slater had muttered as he twitched the reins of
the mule and steered his cart down a tree-shrouded track. "...We'll be back in Camden Bight just before supper" he added and
Peggy took it that nodding her consent would be a waste of energy. Slater's four-legged companion offered his opinion from its
rear and the comment smacked of a poor inability to break down high-fibre. "Bad carrots" the crotchety tallow-maker explained
and went back to wallowing in thoughts that the unschooled immerse themselves in.
...................................................

Alf Slater's last customer of the day was old and to the little woman bouncing over the overgrown ruts that formed the only route
to his home, the word didn't do him justice, Arthur Tuttle was ancient. Arriving at -what could favorably be called a shack, Peggy
surveyed the ramshackle home and thought back to her confusing first encounter with another old man who'd disappeared right
under her nose and fleetingly, hoped Tuttle wasn't one for wearing such little attire.

"How's it goin' me-Billie?..." Arthur asked as he slowly limped out of the damp-rot doorway decked out in spiders webs, "...Thee's
mekin' good good coin, Ah' hope?" he croaked as he approached the buggy. Peggy had always admired the beard of the famous
wizard called Myrddin, but old-man Tuttle's knee-long brush put the acclaimed thaumaturge's to shame.

Brown with tobacco and Herne-knows-what-else, the long hair was matted where it reached the holes in the remains of his pants
and the wide-eyed Witch forced herself to believe this might be due to unintentionally dipping his whiskers in the product he was
now seeking to purchase. "Ah' see yer' brought a beauty te' steal me-achin' heart" Tuttle quacked gaily and stretched his toothless
mouth into a version of a grin.

Alf Slater climbed down from his seat and said nothing as he lifted the last crate from the rear of his cart, the producer of rendered
fat remained silent until he bluntly thrusted the wooden box towards the doddering bumpkin smiling outside his decrepit home.
"Five frollis" Alf growled and gave his passenger a look of exasperation as Arthur almost collapsed with the sudden weight and
floundered backwards to his doorway.

"Jumpin' frogs, Billie, Lemmie' get mer' money outta' me-pocket!..." the shaggy fossil whined good-naturedly, "...Ah've not been
replaced yet!" That was when Peggy felt the temperature drop between the two men and at the same time, the horseshoe in her
pocked warmed the thigh it was resting on. Something had been spoken she was not supposed to hear.

Alighting from the buggy and making sure the pair of coarse clods didn't enjoy a glance of her bare flesh, the little Witch deliberately
gave the impression she was merely taking time out from being sat for so long. Peggy had felt the charm's notification of possible
danger and casually placing a hand beside the twine-wrapped metal, whispered a charm to ease its signal.

At the same time, Alf pushed the old man towards the shack's shadowy entrance and hissed something that the stretching woman
was unable to catch, but the threat that the tallow-maker used next was audible enough to Peggy as he followed the scuttling Tuttle
back into his dilapidated hovel. "Yer' keep yer' hairy-mouth shut about that and just pay me what yer' owe me, yer' old bastard" Slater
hissed and omitted to check to see if his passenger was still in her original position.

The Witch -with hat in hand, had moved quickly to an opening that those who enjoy being idealistic might call a window and keeping
crouched, listened for any other clue to what the old man had meant when he'd said 'replaced'. Accompanying a watchful lizard, Peggy
hunkered beside the rotting wooden walls and waited.

Handing over the couple of coins, Arthur bleated his apology to the bigger man and once again, let slip a trace that the secret listener
could mull over later. "Eh now Billie, Ah meant nowt' by it..." the smelly loner explained "...Ah' wuz' just jawin' fur' the company, is all".
Peggy stared absently at the reptile cautiously basking in the treeless clearing beside the abode and imagined Slater grabbing Tuttle
by the rag he'd swear was a shirt and glaring with those dull crass eyes he always displayed.

"If yer'wanna keep yer' place in the line, keep yer damned-gob shut and stop callin' me bloody Billy, me-name's Alf" the warning stated
and that was Peggy's cue. Snatching the little lizard from its sunning-spot, she kept low and scampered back towards the cart and the
odorous half-breed.

Seeing the burly tallow-maker appear from his customer's home, she held out the wriggling creature and offered a wide smile to the
bad-tempered man approaching his vehicle. "Look what Ah' found!" she chirped with all the glee she could muster and received a grunt
of apathetic acknowledgement for her theatrical showmanship.

"Yer' can eat 'em, but they taste like dung" Slater grumbled and placing the aggrieved gecko back into the rough grass, she copied the
driver of the cart and climbed on board. With the transaction complete, the mule turned for home and for its hat-wearing passenger, to a
mystery she still had to fathom.
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#18
The grooved artery that took Peggy Powler and her sullen leadfoot towards Camden Bight became more and more obstructed
as they left old Arthur Tuttle's neglected estate and entered the dense foliage that covered most of the island. A couple of times,
Alf Slater would disembark the cart and grunted his exertions to remove a fallen branch that the surrounding stunted trees had
decided to relinquish.

"Bloomin' wood-apes" the tallow-seller would spit towards the shadows of the vegetation and lumber back to his place beside the
little Witch on the creaking wooden seat. Peggy had held her tongue and declined from commenting that such creatures didn't live
on the Isle of Murdigon, it was too-far out from the mainland for them to get here and she'd seen no sign to indicate a group or even
a single Woodwose inhabited the squat forests.

They trundled on along the labyrinthine lane and what sun could be glimpsed between the heavy leafage, now came from the west.
"Almost there" Slater murmured as he tapped the mule's croup with the loose reins and to Peggy's relief, the animal didn't respond
with a usual display of flatulence. The track was a little wider now and on the bumping buggy's right-hand side, the little Witch spied
a clearing that she promptly mentally ticked off as a place she had to visit later.

However, it seemed her churlish driver had also noticed what had piqued Peggy's interest. "Just a place where the young 'uns play"
Alf mumbled matter-of-factly and kept his eyes on the trail, but the Last Witch of  Underhill felt the over-compensation. "Aye" she
offered back in a whisper.

The two tall carved poles had been deliberately set in their places and a light-coloured line connected the pair of hewn masts. What
the demarcation course was comprised of or what it was for, the jostling sorceress feeling the pulsing horseshoe in her pocket were
questions she quickly shelved in her internal library of investigation. 
...................................................

"...And once again Mister Slater, Ah' thank yer' fur' the use of yer' conveyance" Peggy said whilst handing over the two florris to the
dull slab of meat standing beside his farting beast of burden. The scruffy man nodded and showed his gratitude by remaining his
boorish self, but the mule twisted its mouth in a way that the Witch would consider an attempted smile. Alas, a low rasping from the
animal's mizzen offered a different interpretation for the grimace and Peggy left the pair to their own inhalations.

Camden Bight was indicative of a mainland fishing town, but for the twenty-or-so families that made up the permanent community,
it was carved more in the vein of accepting those who rode the Great Sea, more than spawning such green-water anglers. Down
towards the stone-built harbour, three exhausted-looking trawler boats creaked against their moorings, whilst some chatting men
sat on the wooden bollards repairing nets and eyeing any passing females.

Stores stood as ushers to the marriage of the visiting fishermen and the single road that Camden Bight had to to offer. Those who
spent their lives in the fairly well-to-do community occupied the small cottages that orbited the main thoroughfare and worked in
the outlets designed to judiciously cater for their patrons.

A Dry-Goods Store stood beside a Barber's shop and further down, an outlet that sold shoes. Moving her eyes and mind from that
side of the road, Peggy forced the memory of another Cobbler from her past to stay away from her thinking. The usual Tavern waited
beside a Livery and a Salon of some type, maybe a tailor -the little Witch guessed. Finally, at the end of the cobbled thoroughfare,
the customary Ship Chandlery waited for its next sea-going customer.

The village of Camden Bight took its name from the wide curve the tail of Murdigon took on its journey to the tip of the island. Peggy
guessed following the Bight northwards would bring her to hamlet known as The Narrows and an enigmatic lighthouse they serviced.

But that was for later and for the moment, the little stranger in a strange town required information and the street-surveying Shaman
calculated that maybe such quarry could be obtained over a flagon of ale. Recalling that she'd left John Potter's donated jug of beer
on his parked rowboat, Peggy licked her lips as she peered down the cobbled-street and unconsciously touched Ma Gurnard's food
parcel in her satchel.

Maybe the tavern branded 'The Horatio' held some of her answers? With a light spring in her step, the sprightly spellbinder set her
prow towards the den of gossip and lubrication.
...................................................

"Tis' a fine hoagie, Miss Powler..." Indigo Dunth remarked readily as he bit down on the shared sandwich, "...me-belly had thought
that me-throat was cut" he chuckled and washed down the food with a swig of ale. Peggy ignored the obvious conundrum from the
old drunk and quaffed her own tankard of chock. She'd waited only a couple of minutes seated at a table near the Inn's only window
before one of the four men leaning on the counter had swaggered over to see who this newcomer was and if they possibly carried
any means to purchase more libation. An old trick, but one that had served the wandering Witch well during her travels.

Indigo rasped the stubble on his chin and allowed a stifled discharge of beer fumes to vent from his smiling mouth. "So what did
yer' say yer' were visiting Camden Bight for?" he asked and quickly scrutinising the sot's eyes, Peggy accepted no shiftiness hid
within his query.

"Ah'm just passin' through and Ah' thought te' me-self that such a pretty place shouldn't be allowed to be missed" the diminutive
wizard answered and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, broadcast a pair of unsullied doe-eyes of an innocent -but obliged
traveller who appreciated such mild nosiness.

Indigo leaned forward and nodded that he understood her response. The old scrote was rough-around-the edges and seemed to
be one of those folk who just went with whatever the tide offered and accepted his lot as mere amiable flotsam in a sea of order.
"Aye, tis' good fur' the soul to berth in the shallows from time-to-time" he agreed and over-embellished his surprise at finding his
stoup empty.

Peggy kept her face straight as she politely waved the landlord if he could refill the puzzled man's jug and assuming he'd discovered
treasure, Indigo Dunth nodded with a vigour that almost dislodged his finger-greased cap. "Mind me-lady, Ah'm not the type te' take
advantage of such a kind soul, but yer've just caught me on one of me-worst days of being without a florris" he assured the innocent
Fae-woman softly asking the bar-keep for another round of hops.

The little bare-footed transient showed her concern and rapport of her new-found friend's financial drought by commenting as she
handed over the coinage to the tavern-owner, "Aye, well we've all had them days..." and ignored the dubious looks of the proprietor.
"It's an ill wind and no mistake" Peggy reiterated and surveyed the forlorn drunkard gazing at the scratched surface of the table.

Indigo was thinking of something serious and whatever it was, brought him betwixt and between. The attentive Witch could see that
the lined and booze-carved face hinted of doubt and misgivings. "Yer' reet Miss Powler, but fur' old Indigo, those days will be soon
be behind me" he whispered and offered no cheer to his words. Peggy patted his gnarled and weathered hand and checking to see
if any of The Horatio's customers were watching, gently breathed her own kind of fishing technique.

"Naw me-lad, yer' not near death's door yet, man..." she assured the sad barfly hypnotised within his own introspection and quickly
wiggled her little finger to sugar the bait. The cache of another brew was all Indigo Dunth sought, but Peggy Powler hunted a deeper
trove of treasure. "...Ah'll wager no bugger could replace yer'self, Indigo" she added and waited for the line to be tugged.

Dunth looked up from his self-reflection and showed the face of the damned. There was no deceit or craftiness in his reddened eyes
and no set of the mouth to show he'd been lacquering his words. Indigo was frightened and by something beyond his ale-soaked savvy.
"We all get replaced, Miss... they told us it's our destiny" he mumbled and drowned his sorrow in the metal tankard of fermented cereal.

A moment later, he doffed his grimy cap and staggered his way back to the bar and pretending to not regard her fleeting visitor, Peggy
saw that nobody came to persuade him to join in a conversation, nor did Indigo seek solace among his fellow drinkers. He was a loner
and for the Witch nodding her thanks to the Inn-keeper as she rose to leave, that was fine with her.

Surveying the stone-surfaced street of Camden Bight, Peggy could see by the lack of footfall that the dusk was hurrying in fast and
setting her wide-brimmed hat on her head, she assured herself that when the darkness came, a stronger more-baited hook would
be cast for the souse called Indigo Dunth to give up the secret she needed to find out what was really happening on Murdigon.
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#19
The sinking sun set the Great Sea on fire and standing on the dockside, a small figure marinated in the flames of the late-Summer's
evening. Far out on the burning orange waves, black boat-shaped objects floated like used cinders discarded from the fading inferno
that entertained those who appreciated such displays of nature.

Peggy Powler revelled in the wonderful moment and Murdigon's current brainteaser, the old man who vanished, young Samuel's unsaid
concern and the opportunity to view the rare Soap Dragon, became small facets of her journey on the island that had to loiter whilst she
recharged her spirit and warmed her heart.

However, nature isn't a private melody for a lone dancer and due to the down-to-earth practicalities of the reality that it lounges in, other
actions must take place to benefit the whole. Hence the reason the sighing little Witch staring out to at the ignited waters almost missed
Indigo Dunth stumbling out of the tavern's door.

A blanket of star-puckered velvet crept towards the late-matinee of combustion as Peggy spied the drunkard setting his wobbly passage
inland and leaving the fading display, she checked for any last-minute window-dresser snooping on her casual amble of following the old
intoxicated scrounger. "Eh Mister Dunth..." Peggy lightly called as she finished her spell on the canteen in her satchel, "...Ah was just about
te' find me-self a quiet tree te' soak in the evenin' and whet me-whistle" she appended with a slight slur to her voice. "Would yer' care te'
join me?".

Indigo looked completely dumbfounded at the bantam silhouette approaching him and was taken aback due to accepting the only time
anyone used his surname was when they were caustically demanding payment for his beer-tab. Dunth merely stared back with an open
mouth and smiling amiably at him, Peggy hoped she could get that surprised cavity to utter what she needed to know.
"How are yer', me-friend?" she asked and sloshed the contents of her water bottle in her bag for effect.

Indigo surveyed the street with a boozy eye and then refocused on the genial woman in the large hat. Visitors to Camden Bight didn't usually
consort with the likes of him at this hour and any conversation traditionally involved the owner of The Horatio pushing him out of the door with
a warning to clean-up his act. "I am rolling, Miss" he answered in his confusion and allowed the Angel with a canteen of beer to take his arm.
"Let's have a blather" the Last Witch of Underhill suggested with a hushed tone and led him away from the main street of fiery sun-downs.
...................................................

"Naw Miss Powler, it'sh not shumethin' Ah'm supposed to talk about" Indigo slurred firmly and glancing at the relaxed female, he shook the
leather flask to hear if he was out of grog. It had occurred to him earlier that the little woman leaning against the trunk of the tree might be
the same Peggy Powler he'd heard some of the sailors who'd frequented the tavern talk about, but such a famous conjurer of spells wouldn't
be interested in the likes of himself. So meeting his logical impasse, Indigo just accepted she was a fellow-authority of fine ales...
or any ale, for that matter.

"But between you and me, they told ush that the Woolpit ish a chance to start again..." the unshaven imbiber announced in hushed tones
"...Where fields of gold shit beshide babbling streams and the sun shines all day" he finished his mispronounced elucidation and with a
knowing wink, took another draft of the promised elixir.

Peggy nodded sagely and watched the surroundings for any sign of eavesdropping. The night was coming and based on Samuel Gurnard's
comment of lights in the forest around Camden Bight, she didn't want to be out late in the shadows with a loud-mouthed piss-pot like Dunth.
"So this fella told yer' such a place lies on the mainland?" she asked again with a hint of false-perplexity and waited for her hooked-bait to
be shaken in the same manner as her flask of mere well-water.

Indigo believed it was ale and it had never failed to amaze the little Witch how the mind could be easily tricked by the easiest of glamour.
A thought that went dark when she recalled the hoax played on herself by whoever she believed was behind all this fuzzy riddle.

"Yer' not listenin' te' me, Missie..." the kneeling man groaned and sucked in a breath of warm night air, "...Mishter Godwin told ush that
The Woolpit could only be reached by passin' through the Beams of King Stephen and that we'll all get te' go, even a fella like me-self"
he assured his listener with a note of pride.

Peggy waved away Indigo's offer of a drink and furnished him with the impression that she'd finally grasped his explanation. But with her
best dramatics running at full steam, creased her brow in a genuine muddle. "Whey, that sounds like a grand deal, me-lad..." she agreed,
"...but wouldn't that leave the Isle of Murdigon empty of folk?" she prompted and pretended to scratch her head in befuddlement.

Staring out towards the gloom of the surrounding woods, the unwanted customer of The Horatio Public House seemed to be mindful
of what the woman was saying, but his answer hinted that the rumination Indigo Dunth was immersed in went much deeper and meant
more to him personally than most would think. "Nay lass, Mister Godwin told ush not to torment ourshelves about such things becaush
we be would be replaced". The drunkard's timbre smacked of either ale-induced exhaustion or a sorrow not normally associated with
the musings of a beer-swiller.

Feigning the movements of a sozzled tippler, Peggy rose and excused herself due to nature calling. Indigo dismissed her need to
urinate with a wave of his hand and another drink from the bottomless canteen. Standing behind him, the little Witch raised her own
hand and whispered some words beyond the drunkard's comprehension and a moment later, ambiguities of magical transportations
to a Nirvana of milk and honey no longer mattered to the slumped man who's best friend resided in a corked jug.

Snoring away his imaginary bout of intemperance, Mr Dunth staggered into a different realm where a mysterious Mister Godwin and
two mystical wooden poles in a clearing held sway. Peggy patted the dormant old man on his greasy cap and collecting her container
of illusions, headed off into the shadows of the forest.

Unwinding the little horseshoe from the cordage, the wary Seer gently asked the charm to show her the way and with a slight pause, the
twine went taut and the curved piece of metal pointed out into the caliginosity of the woods. An enchanted kingdom that could replace
those who chose to accept it...? Peggy inwardly snorted at the flapdoodle of the notion and stepped in the direction the floating talisman
was indicating. There was more to this than met the eye
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#20
It took over an hour to find them but what Peggy Powler found more alarming than her late-night research for what Indigo
Dunth called 'The Beams of King Stephen' was the force that the horseshoe-charm discharged in leading the little Witch
into the pitch-black woodland. With the string straining under the stress exerted from the talisman, Peggy wondered if her
hand would be numb in the morning from the tightness of gripping the horizontal leash.

Finally seeing a vague change of colour on the dark ground ahead of her, she whispered an invocation towards the curved
piece of spinning metal and the twine suddenly went flaccid. Stretching her fingers to drive blood back into the extremity,
Peggy gazed around the clearing and waited to see if her trespass been discovered.
Except for a faint sound of a shore-lapping sea, the defoliated area was silent as the grave.

Taking a chance that the peculiar torch-lit jaunts young Samuel Gurnard had witnessed from the mound wouldn't interfere
with her inspection of the tree-less expanse, the vigilant sorceress stepped carefully forward and froze when a small blue
light flashed above one of the dark shapes at the end of the bizarre line on the ground. Holding her breath, she waited for
someone to step out of the shadows and demand a reason she was invading their piece of woodland.

Time ticked by and the darkness tarried with the bantam invader, no blue-hued lantern appeared again and nobody growled
a request for answers to her late-night sortie. It was only when Peggy felt that the she'd imagined the blue lustre, did it come
again. A quick flame of azure radiance and then the gloom dictated the surroundings once more.

Crouching low, the little Witch scurried closer to see what strange lantern could produce such instant brilliance and using a
large clump of wild garlic for cover, waited for the burst of blue flame. A bat swooped by to take advantage of the woman's
disturbance of the aromatic Cow-leeks and finding no juicy moth to subdue its hunger, flitted off to better hunting grounds.

Peggy wondered if the baffling spark had anything to do with her movement and keeping as still as possible, she saw the
cerulean wink from the post repeat its instantaneous illumination. In that moment, the little spellbinder dashed towards the
bleached-band on the leaf-raked soil that linked the two lumps of shadow at each end. Peggy checked again that nobody
was watching and quickly kneeling in the dirt, touched the surface of the line and found it comprised of a powdery substance.

She gambled that the intriguing blue eye would only open at certain moments and so with a light dab of the gritty-stuff on her
tongue, Peggy knew at once the white dust was Calcite and in some medical circles, the white chalky mineral was associated the
workings of the body and the building of young bones.

Glancing at the gloom where the magical cobalt beacon slept, the squatting psychic knew she didn't have much time to test
the anemic ash, but forged ahead with her inquiry by drawing a small flame from her thumb. Peggy saw from the tiny orange
sparks and a slight salty burning aroma that this was actually Calcite Spar and that changed the diagnosis completely. 

Staring around to see if her magical illumination had drawn any interested party to her after-hours probe, the little woman in
the floppy hat scampered back to the underbrush to reflect on her initial discovery. The blue eye blinked just has she reached
the dank cluster of plants some call a Fairy Glen and then the nothingness resumed.

The first notion that came to Peggy was the possibility that the beguiled neighbourhood of Camden Bight may be dealing with
Cave Goblins. Calcite was often a clue to their presence as the crushed crystal was abundant in the subterranean environment
of such abhorrent beings.

But wouldn't the folk of the sea-hamlet realise they were dealing with creatures not of their usual routines? The hunched fiends
were repulsive to the eye and tended to take via raids rather than dabble in contracts and guarantees. Then there was the fact
that Calcite Spar tended to be generated from alchemy and the black arts.

Could such primitive trolls labour in those types of concentrated circles...? Peggy's rare interactions with this species of heinous
Fae had never drawn any conjecture of that kind of diligent practice and it seemed the mysterious blue flame concurred with the
little Witch's conclusion, as it blinked its opinion.

No, Cave Goblins were not the culprits who could convince a rustic community to keep a secret and ensure a confidence of
an alleged betterment. Peggy touched the warm area of her poncho where the horseshoe still spoke of its detection of corrupt
magic and decided one more foray to examine the planted shafts of of carved wood was enough for tonight. Who or whatever
operated here in the clearing had managed to control an unknown amount of humans and discovering a interloper snooping
on their scheme would surely bring problems that Peggy could do without right now.

Sucking in a breath of night air, the Last Witch of Underhill quietly sneaked out from her cover and approached the dark shape
decorated in amorphous engravings. The marks were foreign to her and as she gingerly pawed the object's surface, Peggy was
surprised to find the round block wasn't wood. Under her gentle touch, she felt it was false, man-made and similar to animal horn.

The lantern wasn't a standard lamp. It was merely a glass dome fastened by unknown means to the side of the peculiar upright.
It was small enough that Peggy could cover the magic eye with her fingers and the act drew no response from the infrequent
flickering device.

The obscure markings were not carved into the mysterious pole, but gave Peggy the impression they'd been somehow melted
or branded into the exterior of the post. The gloom of the surrounding overhanging trees didn't help any further study of the
object and fearing she was over-playing her time before the mystic Cyclops woke again, she left the clearing that the irascible
Alf Slater remarked was 'just a place where the young 'uns play'.

The wary little sorceress stepped carefully from the scene until she felt she was far enough away from any possible chance of
upsetting the weird blue-eyed watcher in the clearing or even bumping into a late-night stroller.

The Great Sea called her back to the sleeping parish of Camden Bight and reaching the junction where the woodland track met
the village's cobbled road, Peggy scanned for any rubbernecking to her recent nocturnal activity. It was close to midnight when
the weary warlock took stock of what she'd seen as she ambled to the place where a certain drunkard had made his bed.

Indigo Dunth basked in the arms of Morpheus under the tree she'd left him at and mouthing an incantation that would cancel the
glamour she'd given him earlier, the smiling sorceress knew he would awake in the morning without any knowledge of their evening
assembly. "Sleep well, yer old bugger" Peggy whispered good-naturedly and left to find her own roost.
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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