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Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - Printable Version

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RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 07-29-2021

Thistle's clear eyes twinkled from the shadows of the hedgerow as Peggy Powler waited for Kittie Bretton to return from
her evening meal. The quiet lane offered its own kind of magic to the spell-worker and her small friend in the bushes,
the remains of the sun sat heavy on the horizon where the Great Sea met the cloudless sky and seemed reluctant to
submerge into the deep green waters.

This was their world now, a place where humans assumed a day was spent, used-up and a had no value for the drudgery
that places like St. Martin's O' The Green held so dear. The tents -all tied and taut, stood behind where Peggy watched
the evening come to life and not unlike the changing of the day, marked the time for when their husks would also have
life breathed into their empty hearts.
All except the awning near the two standing-stones.
...................................................

It had been a busy afternoon, Kittie had tied brightly-coloured ribbons to the poles of the marquee and it would always
make the little girl smile because just as she was sure she'd gathered all of the braids and pennants from inside of the
Witch's mysterious satchel, there was always more when Kittie placed her hand inside.

Peggy had loosely attached the Bretton tapestry to the rear of the interior of the tent and was about to prepare the pair of
monoliths for their dressing when Jane Bowman nervously appeared at the entrance to the Green. Moving a moth-eaten
sack from one hand to her other, she opened the gate and approached the necromancer like a midnight mouse inspecting
a crumb of cheese.

"Fair travels, Ms Powler..." the skittish woman said quietly "...I've brought the item you requested". Peggy resisted the urge to
look around to see who or what Mrs Bowman might be wary of and also stifled a chuckle that Jane's long-ancestors may have
been Hiders. "Ah' thank thee" the Witch replied and with a guiding arm to her waist, steered the tense lady into the tent.

The rope was ideal. In fact, examining the hawser further, Peggy could see that it was two ropes carefully knotted together
and the connection partially hidden by one of the many strips of coloured cloth. "The ribbons even match the tones of the tent"
Jane offered hopefully with a weak smile and the the little woman checking the hemp agreed without looking up from her study.

"Aye, she's a beauty, Ah'' see yer fella is from Durridge, yes?" Peggy asked as she checked the binding where the ropes met.
Jane's small grin changed into an 'O' of surprise and her eyes attempted a similar shape. "Your magic never fails to..." but the
chary Mrs Bowman's exclamation was halted by a wave of the hand from the inspector of her gift.
"Nay lass, yon binding is a fisherman's knot and Ah' was just tekkin' a guess" Peggy said and widened her reassuring smile.

After some more light badinage regarding tomorrow's festival, the weather and how pretty the Fortune-Teller's marquee was
decked-out, Mrs Bowman scurried off back to where fearful people feel less apprehensive about the world that turns around
them. Peggy Powler returned to preparing for another realm that folk such as Jane would never dare to even contemplate.
...................................................

The sky became that captivating dark azure tone that only the stars can fully appreciate. Thistle Treacle had arrived with a
small cough to announce his presence, but hissed his reluctance to be a snatched meal by some passing owl.
Peggy's face remained stoic, but she did appreciate the his concerns and so left any idea of charming the little Bogle until
later.

Occasionally, a lantern in a cottage window would ape the radiance of the Yetun's eyes and both outsiders watched without
comment as a community settled down to wait out the darkness. Rooks, tired from a day of combing the fields for their fare,
passed overhead like black ghosts looking for a haunted house.

"Yer'll be fine..." the Witch leaning on the Green's gate said softly "...she's the kind of child that will keep our secret".
Thistle Treacle was still unconvinced, but with a sideways look towards a well-used track the rabbits use to travel the length
of the bushes along the lane, he kept his features neutral.

The girl's silhouette skipped lightly up the slight rise of the cobbled track and with a straightening of her poncho, Peggy
went to meet her. Kittie's eyes shone too, but not with Mr Treacle's wariness, but with a special wonder that only a child
can generate. The night was the lair of the monster, the haunt of the lusus naturae, the playground of the horror that shuns
the daylight.

"Fair travels, little 'un" the last Witch of Underhill cooed as Kittie soaked in her surroundings. She'd never been allowed
to be outside so late and certainly never this far from her home since Maggie had been taken. Whatever wizardry her
new friend had performed on her mother had certainly worked. "Fair elements, Ms Powler" Kittie replied faintly -but it
was obvious that the remaining child of Mary Bretton was still absorbed in the ambience of the Green.

Lifting the brim of her hat, Peggy waited for Kittie to look at her and then with a serious pose, she stated the situation.
"Lassie, Ah've a rare appeal to ask yer'... Can yer' keep a hugger-mugger?" Kittie's facial muscles moved slightly as
the hounds of suspicion raced across her mind. The night was an exciting place to be, but she was old enough to know
that demons waited here too.

"Hugger-mugger?" she asked and glanced towards the hedgerow where the wary Thistle waited, this was an expression
unknown to the girl and to prove it she shrugged. "A secret, me-girl" the Witch whispered and shone one of her famous
smiles. Kittie's head didn't come off and roll down the lane, but her vigorous nodding should have done that.
...................................................

"Good evening Sire, my name is Kittie Bretton and I'm happy to meet you" Kittie chirped cheerfully into the earthy-smelling
darkness of the hawthorn bush. Treacle Thistle sucked in a large gulp of air and wondered what ancient rules he might be
breaking. This just wasn't done, humans were never meant to interact with the Fae... it just wasn't done.

"Fair... fair elements, young Kittie" a voice replied from the shadows and ignoring the slight tutting from the Witch in the tall
hat, Treacle remained where he was at. With an uncertain glance towards the announcer of the chiding, Kittie wondered if
this was some sort of adult prank, but Peggy stepped forward to allay such doubts.

"Come out yer' bugger...!" the Witch grunted as -quickly leaning into the tenebrosity of the undergrowth, she hauled the little
man in the brown clothes from his hiding place. "...Ah' divna' have the time fur' such ditherings" she added as Treacle was
plucked out of his haven.

Peggy placed the squirming Fae onto the cobbles and braced herself to catch him if he ran, but Treacle only stood looking
ashamed and frightened at his exposure. The banner that Peggy had hoped the little being had brought with him now lay on
the the sea-stones of the lane, her exertions to reveal Treacle had caused it drop from his grip.

"I'm glad to meet you" Kittie said as if it was a regular encounter and brought a look of surprise from the Witch by the act of
a well-executed curtsy. The mild astonishment remained on Peggy's face as the Bogle took off his hat and bowed in response.
" I am Treacle Thistle, we are bonded by our respect for each other" he said confidently and with words once used from the
time of the High Elders.

Peggy smiled at her theory that sometimes, a special magic exists that no magician can concoct or draw from a potion.
Sometimes, life itself is the Seer.
...................................................

"...That's reet, but Ah' need yer' to watch fur when the rope twitches" Peggy explained to her two crouching companions.
Treacle peered over at the Witch holding the flickering candle and whimpered "you don't mean me too?" and with a small
gasp of relief, he accepted Peggy's shaking of the head.

The trio of would-be rescuers were in the tent and the ribbon-wrapped rope laying straight as a fossilised saltwater Wyrm,
disappeared under the canvas and waited directly between the two -now decorated, standing-stones behind them.
Like an angler's line, the thick lanyard waited for the bait to dangled.

"Nay Thistle, thee'll be watchin' from the cedars..." Peggy answered "...and if'n there's a dilemma, yer' te' say the words that
Ah' tell yer' soon" Treacle nodded, but his face showed he didn't fully understand. He'd earlier thought his tasks were over
when his banner had been fastened above the tent opening. A wobbly undertaking that involved all three of them, two lengths
of string and a balancing-act.

Passing the candle to the Yetun, the Witch of Underhill now reached for the bribe that would draw Gwydionel into Peggy's trap.
"The Bitch wivna' be able te' resist this beauty" Peggy whispered as she took the Bretton tapestry down from its place and urged
the girl and the Bogle to accompany her outside with a wave of her head. "Howay me-partners!" she hissed with a smirk.

With the same acrobatic feat that was needed to erect Treacle's banner onto the tent, Peggy Powler, Kittie Bretton and Treacle
Thistle hung the large piece of ornate arras on the back of the Fortune-Telling marquee. The trap had been set.
...................................................

"Goodnight Kittie..." the kindly Witch said as the little girl opened the door of her mother's cottage. "...And remember, not a
word" she added and from her position at the garden gate, pointed towards the darkness of the shrubbery that ran the length
of the lane. Kittie nodded and made the sign of a stitched-mouth, an expression that lit-up the Witch's face with relief.

Ten minutes later and after explaining her assistance in readying the tent to her mother, Kittie swished her nightdress as she
stepped up to her bedroom window and peered out into the night. The meeting between Mr Thistle and herself was omitted
from the account she'd given her mother and gazing at the dull-white track that led towards the Green, Kittie realised it was
just another of her secrets about the night that she'd never told anyone.

Getting into bed, Kittie would never know that the brown-clothed reason for her secret was now watching the cottage from the
shadows of the bushes. And as the downstairs lantern was snuffed, the weary Treacle Thistle accompanied the also-tired Peggy
back towards his home.
Tomorrow was going to be a big day.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 08-04-2021

To be out at this time in the morning was a bit unusual for Thistle Treacle as dawn was still a while away and
the nightshift of those who like to chew on Bogle bones wasn't quite over. The little Yetun tugged at the brim
of his weathered hat, changed his thoughts and continued his vigil on the serene vista of the Green.

He wanted to say the words that the Witch had whispered to him before retiring to the weird interior of her satchel
last night, but Peggy Powler's warning had caused Thistle to just nibble his bottom lip and remain silent in the
undergrowth along the lane.

Some time not far from now, men will arrive with long trestles tables and then the women will bring the foods that
Treacle had enjoyed when they'd all gone home. That time seemed a long way off to the little lonely Yetun in the
brown clothes and what was supposed to occur between now and then just didn't dare thinking about.

Barrels of ale will be rolled up the lane and the merriment would begin. Laughter and games would be the rule
of the day and considering what lay just beyond the standing-stones behind Ms Powler's tent, high spirits would
be the last thing on Treacle's mind.

Still, those silent words of the Witch's spell thrummed in his mind and dared him to give them utterance.
...................................................

"Now mark me-words, Mr Thistle..." Peggy had breathed softly "...What Ah'm about to tell thee can only be used if
me-trap comes a cropper, yer' folla?". Treacle could barely see the owner of the voice and struggled even more
to understand what she was actually saying.

"Why do we have to talk inside this bag?" he asked and resisted the urge to move the satchel's flap.
It was night time outside, but there'd be some light, at least. Peggy sighed and explained that the spell she wanted
Treacle to use if an emergency arose could not be uttered in the open air.
Why such caution was required, she kept to herself.

"These are the words, listen and take heed" the last Witch of Underhill said gently and moved forward to where her
unsure friend was crouched. Peggy's warm breath in his ear related the charm and after repeating the strange words
back to where her cheek waited, she nodded and added "That's me-lad".
...................................................

"Early-bird and all that" Treacle explained to his half-asleep lodger when he returned to his little home that lay off the
beaten track to humans and sheep, his mind was breakfast. Peggy yawned and stretched in the act of unkinking her
muscles from her slumber and only became aware of what had caused Treacle to hurriedly disappear into his burrow
when she glanced down.
"Sorry about that" the red-faced sorceress said to nobody and pulled her poncho down to hide her awkwardness.

Over their morning meal, the odd pair chatted about the day ahead and steered clear of the incantation Treacle had
been burdened with. Peggy had been meaning to ask her host why he didn't seem to interact with the Bogles she'd
accidently met when she'd first arrived at St. Martin's O' The Green, but the moment to do so had just alluded the
opportunity to pose the query.

Quaffing down the last of her chicory-coffee, she recalled one of them in a blue tunic was called Juno and decided
to bring up her encounter with his fellow Fae-folk. Peggy would later admit to herself that it wasn't the best of ideas
that she'd had.

Treacle looked towards the faraway green-grey of the Great Sea and to the woman with the dishevelled hair and
dirty bare feet, he seemed to be concentrating on what might be lurking there ten fathoms deep. With a heavy sigh
of resign, the genial little man told his guest that it was long ago and it didn't really matter if she knew.
Which to Peggy meant that it was important.

"It's because of something I once thought was a funny party-trick, but -if you pardon the pun, it backfired and now they 
and myself thought it better that I keep some distance from them" he said and offered the Witch a refill from his hand
-me-down pottle.

Peggy allowed her battered mug to be rejuvenated and showed her host a puzzled gaze. "What der' yer' mean?" she
asked curiously. Treacle stood up and gazed for a few moments at the woman sitting on the turf outside his home.
"If I show you, you won't laugh, will you?" he requested with a serious tone and received a shake of the spell-binder's
head as a reply.

Peggy's mind raced with what the cause of the Bogle's self-imposed banishment could be and for no particular reason,
combed her hair with her fingers as Treacle took a kitchen match and walked a small distance away.  "You sure?" he
asked again and pulled at some dried grass from beneath the meadow's hedgerow.

Plonking her hat on her head and ignoring her need to urinate, Peggy gave her friend the thumbs-up. Treacle nodded
and prepared himself to show his secret. Checking again at the facial-features of the woman were not of mockery, the
Yetun lit the straw and turned his back on the flickering flame.

Treacle's face twisted in concentration and he bent slightly forward in his focus, to Peggy, it seemed he was in pain.
Whooosh!... with a sound like ripping cloth, the little fire burst into a seven-foot long blaze that roared out across the
sheep-empty pasture and disappeared into the morning air. Only a thin layer of black soot on the surrounding grass
informed that the spectacle had ever occurred.

"Whey, Ah'll go to our back-door" Peggy whispered in her astonishment and wondered why Treacle's pants weren't
burnt. The creator of the instant inferno just stood shamefaced in the bright sunshine and awaited the Witch's verdict.
...................................................

The sound of people chatting as they walked along the lane, the practice of a guitarist from Durridge and the general
furore of the residents of St. Martin's preparing to celebrate Mid-Summer, all signs that the festival was about to begin.

Elijah Cole and his fishermen friends cajoled each other as they passed clumps of corncockle and cow parsley that
snuggled beneath the foliage of the lane's hedgerow. Behind this collection of roadside plants, two people of a different
world watched the passing scene. Treacle Thistle pondered on how the day would pan out and Peggy Powler wondered
if her friend had any matches in his pocket.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 08-13-2021

After around five or six of St. Martin's residents discovered what lay ahead of their respective lives, Peggy Powler
placed a silk cloth over the large crystal-ball and told his young assistant that she needed a break. Holding the tent
flap, Kittie Bretton nodded and gave the impression of a confident sentinel.

"Take care lass... me-orb is restin'. Divna' mess around in there" the Witch warned and glanced back into the shade
of the canopy. The hand-stitched mural hanging from a cross-member of the awning seemed too elaborate for such
a quaint little pageant, but Peggy knew it was an excellent lure. The rope was still there, behind where she'd been
seated and disappeared under the tent's fabric.

With the grinning Kittie saluting her new and only friend in the village, the poncho-wearing daughter of a true Fortune
-Teller nodded her respect and stepped out to take in the scene of the Mid-summer festival.

There were gaily-coloured bunting cleverly attached to the surrounding cedars and Peggy noticed no nails were used
to keep the flapping pennants in their place. Folks from Durridge and as far as Kersham were milling about, browsing
at the tables and chatting amiably to the St. Martin's residents who were plying their wares and handing out food.

Standing back to admire Treacle's home-made proclamation of prophetic wonder, the little Witch's eyes tracked over
to where the largest congregation were stood at one the trestles, all of them men. Jack Morgan was nodding vigorously
towards two scruffy chaps who interrupting their orations with a swig from their tankards. Peggy smiled in the knowledge
that the Brewer was doing well.

The guitarist who'd she'd seen earlier was leading a group of small children in a rhyme about soldiers climbing a hill
and the happy faces of those sat on the stunted grass of the lawn made Peggy wonder about the heartbreak that the
dark force beyond the standing-stones had wrought to such an idyllic place.

"So thee be the famous crystal-gazer that we're honoured to have here?" a gravelled-voice asked from behind the focus
of the query. Peggy turned around and surveyed the half-drunken man in oilskins that had seen better days. "Allow me to
introduce myself, I'm..." -but Peggy cut him off in mid-sentence.

"You're Elijah Cole, fair travels" she returned and gave a slight non-committal curtsy whilst keeping a flinty look in her eye.
Peggy wasn't one for those who told yarns about things they knew nothing about. "Do yer' need a reading?" she added
with a dollop of faux interest.

Elijah grinned his gummy-grin and took a gulp from a tankard that -from the look of it, had been dropped many times.
"Nah me-girl, I was wonderin' why thee pitched thy tent so close to the stones of the esteemed Phinneas The Cunning"
he said and punctuated his question with a loud belch.

With a glance towards his fellow beer-consumers, the former sailor of the Great Sea slowly shook his head and explained
his question further. "Thee's only a little thing and I wondered if being in such a reverent place might help to bolster yer'
pocket-sized trade".

Of course, Elijah had heard of Peggy Powler -the last Witch of Underhill before, but he'd always suspected her notoriety
came from people who crossed themselves at road-shrines and offered prayers when the night came down. Now here
he was, standing before a miniature woman in a wide-rimmed hat and feet that looked like they'd never seen a pair of
shoes. Surely his own ocean-going exploits outshone any tales of spooks and silly make-believe magic.

The small necromancer kept her smile from blossoming and checked to see if anyone was in earshot, especially Kittie.
Leaning in close to the old man who courted body-odour like a good friend, Peggy whispered something that caused
the retired fisherman to make the same features as when he and his fellow-crewmen had once found a weird creature
in their nets amongst the flapping Danderheads and Loosejaws.

Even though Elijah's thoughts were more on what the woman in the poncho had actually said, his suddenly white face
spoke of a realisation that a person might make when they pause from peeing in a chamber pot at midnight because
of the blinking eyes in the corner of their bedroom.

A minute later, Peggy Powler was alone again and scanning the moving crowd. Elijah Cole was once more standing
with his ale-friendly comrades, but his flagon remained empty and a drawn look on his face spoke of a knowledge that
would make searching for merriment a difficult task.

'Amateur" Peggy whispered and went to grab a bite to eat.
...................................................

Just after noon, Jane Bowman peeked her head in around the tent flap and surveyed the interior of St. Martin's visiting
prognosticator, her sheepish look warned that any strong invitation would cause her to flee from her daring self-believed
trespass.

"Come in me-friend, come in..." Peggy urged softly from her place behind the gnarled table and lit a coloured candle with
a kitchen match borrowed from Treacle. The flame burned blue, orange and the red, another supernatural attraction that her
magical satchel had provided.

Kittie had asked earlier if the fabled knapsack had ever failed its owner and with a comforting pat on the weathered material,
Peggy had replied in the negative. A glass sphere, chiffon napery and a spooky-looking candle, all there beneath the lappet
when she'd placed her hand in the bag. There as always.

"...It'll be a pleasure to take a gander at what lies ahead fur' yer'" Peggy said as Jane sat down on one of Farmer Bulmer's
chairs. She kept an easy smile on her face, but reckoned if she'd said 'Boo', the Bowman woman would tear a hole in the
ceiling of the tent when she jumped out of her seat.
Jane stared around at the quiet interior as if snakes were waiting everywhere, Peggy idly looked at faint rune markings on
a gossamer silk cloth decorated with red Dragonfly and waited for her customer to relax.

"I...I want to help you get the m-monster that stole my sister" Jane Bowman stuttered and watched the Witch's eyes widen.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 08-24-2021

Jane Bowman slowly sucked in a breath between her teeth and kept her gaze towards the eyes of Peggy Powler.
"It was when I was around ten years-old..." she whispered and was aware of the Fortune Teller's wriggling finger.

However this time, the smiling necromancer was urging the nervous woman to tell her story and not summoning any
bewitchment.
...................................................

It was the Sow In, a time when bonfires turned the night skies into blood and when the villagers stowed away their crops
for winter. The animals were brought down from the hills and a foreboding chill could be felt on the air. When the night
ticked by slowly, a farmer would look away from the dancing flames of his grate and listen to the faint cries of geese
flying north.

Under lantern-light, grinning scarecrows would be repaired from their eternal war against the mocking crows that filled
their bellies in the rich fields around the village of Poppycombe and under the skilled hands of the farmer's wife, he who
protected next year's seed would be reborn.

The days would become shorter and waxy candles would glow in the windows of thatched-roofed buildings to ward off
those who came over from the Otherworld. Small parcels of sugared-bread sprinkled with amaranth seeds would be left
on doorsteps to appease passing ghosts and any holes in the barn's walls would stuffed with Lavender-soaked rags to
repel hungry Pucas.

In Poppycombe -as in most surrounding villages, prayers for the dead would be murmured and down in the bay of
Durridge, symbols of long-forgotten charms were daubed onto the hulls of boats to protect them from the Nuckelavee.
It was a time that man had learned to stay indoors, when the darkness came and a time when everyone would wait
beside a roaring hearth for the coming of All Hallows Eve.

For Jane and her sister Alice, it was when they left the ten-family thorpe of Poppycombe to visit their Aunt in her lonely
house near a favourite place of the two girls, a sleepy hamlet called St. Martin's O' The Green.

Aunt Gretchen was as deaf as a lychgate, but she was their mother's sister and being a sole owner of a quite lucrative
fleet of fishing boats in Salton Bay and Durridge, Jane and Alice's four-day-stay were the grease to remind the ageing
widow of her favourite relatives when it came to updating any last will and testament.

With a half-hearted wipe of the window panes and the odd plumping of a cushion here and there, Jane and Alice hoped
that their task of persuasion was accomplished and their mother's avarice would be sated.
But it was the last night of their visit to Aunt Gretchen's strange-smelling home that the girls enjoyed the most.

As the ancient woman snored in her expensive armchair and the embers beneath the ornate mantlepiece glowed their
sleep-inducing warmth, Jane and her giggle-stifling sister would sneak out of their bedroom window and breath in the
magic of Summer's End.
...................................................

St. Martin's O' The Green's fairly-well known All Hallow's Fete -when spoken about, would always be accompanied with
the comment that it brought out the best in folk. As the sun hitched up its pants to go wherever it goes, the village would
throw a celebration that would hopefully convince that bright ball of light to return next year.

Toasts were made by adults that the coming winter will be an easy one and under the cedars surrounding the timeless
monoliths, a second sip of the ale was offered to keep wayward Hobs from bringing evil to the fields and fallow to the
Great Sea.

But for the children, it was a different story.

Under the occasional warning from their parents, scarf-wrapped youngsters ran amongst the tables in a game of Tag
and if the older children felt daring enough -and Jane recalled being cajoled by Alice to take part in once, the age-old
sport of 'The Farmer Wants A Wife' found the wary ten year-old performing her first kiss.

Elsewhere, bobbing for apples in rusty-ringed barrels brought concerns from overbearing mothers that the coats of her
hair-soaked sons and daughters would be smeared with the sneeves by morning. The fathers of such panting adolescents
just raised another tankard and went back to boasting about their time when the days were longer and magic waited along
every country track...
...................................................

"Ah' have a question, if Ah' may?" interrupted Peggy at this point. Jane was in full-throttle of her version of how Alice Bowman
was taken by the Bitch Of The Hill and the languor in the woman's eyes was something the Witch didn't want to effect.
Jane seemed so different and so happy recalling these memories and for a Fortune-Teller who ousted Church Grims and
fought Werewolves, such emotions was rare.

"Did yer' sister sew?" Peggy asked lightly and for a moment, she saw a slight movement of Jane's eyebrows to indicate
either a long-forgotten thought surfacing or a defence-wall of something the Bowman woman wished to keep concealed.

After a pause, Jane replied "She did so want to be seamstress, but she just wasn't skilled enough. My Aunt even suggested
we visit Madame Tanner in the village for a few tips." Peggy reined-in her excitement of finding the connection and merely
nodded slowly as if only vaguely understanding the answer to her question.
With a sigh, Jane added "No... I used help her with any the embroidery we sometimes did, but we used to pretend she'd done
the fancy work"

After a couple of seconds of silence, Peggy urged her timid customer to continue with her tale.
...................................................

The first memory that came to Jane was of squealing children running alongside the hedgerows of the lane in St. Martin's
and Alice's fearful look when she saw the little-ones with their painted ghost-faces. It was then that Jane had wondered if
her sister had somehow seen something in her past that she'd been reluctant to tell.

But sisters were sisters and if such a terrible instance had happened, Jane was confident that she'd have been informed.

As the laughing children raced by with their ribbon-wrapped payments to the dead, Jane slipped her hand into Alice's and
softly scoffed at the idea that small cakes of oats and berry-laden scones would somehow stop the Fae-Folk from souring
tomorrow's milk.

With a heedful smile from Alice -a grin that Jane would see on leering pumpkins from that year onwards, the two girls stepped
towards the standing-stones and the jollity that Hallows Eve promised.
...................................................

The home-made, once-bitten Taffy Apple lay on the grass alongside the hand-mirror that Alice had won in the Hoopla contest.
It had been touch-and-go whether she'd be worthy of the prize as to win -what the booth-presenter assured Jane and Alice,
was a carved looking-glass once owned by a princess and relied on her final hoop.

Now, for a long five seconds, the scene was the most hypnotic object in the whole of the universe.

A wide-eyed Jane Bowman held her breath and marvelled at the scarlet viscous layer of the fruit that glistened amongst the
clipped-strands of the lawn. A shadow from one of the tall stones lay across the thumb-smeared mirror that only seconds ago,
Jane's sister had been holding.

Alice adored these treats and even though it meant the last of their saved pennies were used-up, the blithe pair had agreed
that the syrupy delights would make a fine supper for their walk back to Aunt Gretchen's. Now that late-night meld was gone.

But where was her sister...? One moment she was behind Jane probably caressing the smooth sandalwood frame of the mirror
and the next, all was left was  a tumbled Candy Apple and the vanity toy. A tooth-jarring windfall and false-proof that we are real,
if you will.

Jane was on her knees as she slowly sucked in a breath between her teeth. People were milling around the Green's gate wishing
each other a good night and fair travels. But what about her sister...? Reaching for the mirror, the girl who would never tell her
mother what really had happened, saw something in the glass that would haunt her dreams forever.
...................................................

"Oh Herne" Jane whispered as the memories slumped like the poor woman's shoulders, what she thought she'd seen just didn't
make sense. It looked like a face, a faint visage of someone Jane thought she knew.

"What did yer' see, lass...?" Peggy whispered at the appropriate point and stilled the need to use a spell on the sob-suppressing
woman "...what did yer' see?" With a rictus smile -the same as Alice when she saw the ghost children, Jane looked at the last
Witch of Underhill and answered.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 09-03-2021

"But... but wouldn't that be too dangerous?" the Bowman woman whispered and subconsciously reached for her apron.
The touch of the fabric of her all-weather coat bought by her husband three winters ago, was her only comforter as she
searched the face of the last Witch of Underhill for support to her question.

Peggy Powler nodded in appreciation of Jane's concerns and without explaining more, gestured that they should leave
the tent.

The afternoon shadows were still short enough to suggest Elijah Cole and his friends would not have felt the calling to
leave Jack Morgan's barrels of ale and seek forty-winks under the surrounding cedars. The noise of merriment had
reduced to cheerful chatter from the mingling adults and mumbled blether from the tired children.

Kittle Heron looked all done-in. She'd left her post during Jane's entry to Peggy's marquee and joined in with the gaiety of
her new-found friends. Guiding her last customer of the day over towards the gate, the smiling Witch recalled Mrs Bowman's
description of the Bitch from the the Otherside and mentally promised herself to make sure the rosy-cheeked young Heron girl
would not be harm's way nor witness the horrible gargoyle that Jane had seen in her sister's mirror.

"Me-ruse was to have the Heron tapestry as bait fur' yer' sister's thief, but Ah've been havin' an idea that Ah' can make it
irresistible fur' the basta... the bugger" Peggy corrected herself and leaned in closer the mousy woman.
"A bit of jam yon demon's muffins -so to speak" she added and winked.

After quickly explaining her scheme to the wide-eyed woman, Peggy went to seek out Kittie Heron, the little Witch's titillation
needed some help.
...................................................

As Peggy dressed into Kittie's sister's clothes, she wondered if her long-dead mother would've approved of such a dangerous
stunt. Pretending to be a girl would work due to her height and hopefully the lateness that Gwydionel the Snatcher would chance
her hand, but there were still many things that could go wrong.

"Yer' Ma divna' know yer' took these clothes, does she?" Peggy called as she straightened the knee-high skirt round her waist.
The blouse felt strange on her skin, but the ankle socks tickled like a Sprite with a sparrow's feather.
Kittie's weary head appeared through the tent flap and for a second, a flood of memories scampered across her mind.

"She never saw me" the young girl said in a slightly distracted way and the preening Witch realised what she was thinking.
"Listen me-lass..." Peggy said softly and approached her drained doorman, "...we're gonna get yer' sister back tonight and
never forget, it's you who made it happen".
They hugged.
...................................................

If you were daring enough to climb one of the cedars and gaze out to the west, one would see the sky was turning from blue to
a faint pinkish-purple. The crowd was thinning as those from the coast began their journey home and Farmer Bulmer's men were
wandering the tents to see if they could dismantle the empty ones. They usually waited until tomorrow, but if there boss showed
up, it was always prudent to look busy and not that they'd frequented Jack Morgan's table.
None of them neared the Fortune Teller's little pavilion.

Peggy kept her poncho over Mary Bretton's borrowed clothes and checked the rope hadn't been tampered with. With a far-too
obvious walk of nonchalance, the Witch took the tapestry behind the tent and after carefully unfurling it, she leaned the beautifully
hand-stitched mural against the back-wall of her place of business. 

The pint-sized spellbinder rarely took enjoyment during her tasks of ridding the counties of hellions, but this time she smiled as she
admired the tapestry that was in full view of the doorway that the Bitch of St Martin's would appear and seize another victim.

Namely, Peggy Powler.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 09-10-2021

If such yarns as this one were ever fully discussed in scholarly circles like a Folklore seminar or story-hour
at a children's nursery, one could be sure that -due to today's penchant to dwell on emotional interaction in
all aspects of life, someone would surely ask about Peggy Powler's feelings when she first realised the evil
presence of the child-stealer known as Gwydionel.

To be precise, it was around the time when the last Witch of Underhill decided to remove her socks and her
sensations, her ardour, in fact her very passion at that moment was to get those annoying socks of her grateful
feet.
...................................................

Treacle Thistle's triple task was to monitor Peggy as she loitered around the back of her tent, keep an eye on the
quickly-thinning crowd of the Midsummer's Eve fete and a half-hearted scan for any brave owl that might venture
into the surrounding cedars.

It was early-evening now and even though it meant Treacle had to make a wide detour from his home to arrive at
the haven of shadowy trees, he felt in good shape to tackle the functions he'd been charged with.

However, during the Bogle's travels of scampering across Calder's Way, sneaking along beside the dry-stone wall
close to where the hermit-Gnome Turnip Mudd resided and then a quick dash back across the fabled highway to
the walled-off cedars and lawn, Treacle became aware that his thoughts didn't quite match his physical well-being.

It's okay for Peggy -he had thought as he had glanced towards the thick gorse bushes that hid Mudd's home, she
had battled all sorts of demons and horrors from the Otherside, Treacle's world -on the other hand, consisted of
avoiding foxes and secretly finding warm places amongst the humans to spend the winter.

With another scan of the dark branches above, the little Yetun went back to watching for the Bitch of St. Martin's.
...................................................

Kittie Bretton watched from her bedroom window as the remains of the festival crowd meandered down the lane
towards what she assumed were horses and carriages awaited in what could be loosely labeled the village square.
Most of the men were a little-too ebullient in their chatting and back-slapping, the women tended to walk together
and murmur things too quiet for the tired girl at the cottage window to hear.

To Kittie's right, the short-grassed arena where the Mid-Summer festival had earlier been alive with adult banter
and children's laughter, now looked like a deflating bladder of well-used bliss. With a look of mock-melancholy,
Kittie perceived the Green has a well-dressed Punchinello that had exhausted the sowing of his joy.

As the voices faded, Kittie quietly closed her window and climbed into bed. But before she allowed the wonderland
of dreams to welcome her inside, she mouthed a silent prayer for the woman alone on that lawn in her sister's clothes.
...................................................

"Friggin' things..." Peggy muttered as she tossed the balled-up socks next to the tapestry, "...Ah' divna know how
anyone can wear such leggings" she added and wiggled her unleashed toes in the dew-kissed grass. The last of the
visiting folk had gone and the quietness of the lawn was a bit unnerving, especially with the tents obscuring her view.

Even though Peggy ached to turn around and survey the tall columns of ancient monoliths that stood at this end of the
Green, she felt it prudent to behave like a child marvelling at her hand-sutured creation. The shadows of the stones
and the surrounding trees were hardly discernible with the growing gloom and apart from the faint laughter that came
from down the cobbled lane, she felt alone.

Then she began to feel something else.
...................................................

Back when Peggy was still with the Carnival, she'd been witness to an incident that altered her view on what her mother
meant to a community. Madame Powler had on occasions, been asked to attend a problem in a nearby village or some
quandary that had supernatural tones that a dismissive land Baron begrudgingly admitted he was powerless to solve.

Usually -and with the assistance of Mr Volcano's powerful coffee-mixture, the semi-sober soothsayer would leave around
mid-morning alone and return some time close to the Carnival's evening opening.
However, this particular day, Madame Powler called her only daughter into her marquee and asked Peggy if she'd like
to go with her.

"Tis' part of your schooling..." the refection of the prophet of peasants pronounced from the circular mirror that hung in her
quarters, "...today yer'll see things that'll turn yer' hair white" she exclaimed with a smile that had broken many a man's
heart and went back to combing her own jet-black tresses.
Peggy stifled her grin of excitement as she pondered the day ahead and what wonders she might see.

Hobbsbury is a market town in Callow county. The sixty-or-so inhabitants spend their days either caring for the surrounding
wheatfields or working in the Bluestone mine belonging to Sir William Blunt. Many of Blunt's employees are passing workers
who earn enough to fund whatever their near-futures demand, but the turnover of labour and Bluestone never wavered.

Well, that was until Shandy Gutteridge accidentally stuck his pickaxe into an unseen crevice and pulled a stone away to reveal
the reason of why Madame Powler was called for. Unknown to Gutteridge and Sir William, the tunnel that the men had been
excavating was also the resting place of something called a 'Gast Box' or Spook Chest.

For many towns and hamlets, if such a find surfaces, the first thing to do is request a Wizard or Witch to relinquish the natives
of the area of their concerns about such objects. This always involves removing the cursed thing. However, pragmatic people
like Sir William Blunt didn't believe in such hocus-pocus. That was why he lived on a large estate and those he paid lived on a
plot just big enough for a hen to peck at.

But it's this type of mumbo-jumbo that Shandy and his fellow-workers swear by and so after threatening to fire them, shouting
until he was hoarse about their stupid superstitions and even raising a horse-crop to them (until the Supervisor calmly brought
his boss back to reality), Blunt tasked a young lad called Bobbie to fetch Grannie Sickle.

Matilda Sickle was the old woman who by tradition, knows what's best to hush the fears of Hobbsbury's occupants and from
her ninety-or-so years in Callow county, even the furious Blunt would admit she knew a thing or two. Old Ma Sickle even knew
about a Gast Box and that was why after tramping all the way from the village, looking at the two-foot high container with the
recognisable ornate warning plates on its bolted door, she gave the already-sweating Bobbie Stevens instructions to find a
certain person over at the Carnival that was pitching up on the other side of Hobbsbury.

So that was how Peggy Powler, her mother sporting a large canvas satchel arrived at noon in a dusty work-yard half-filled with
broken quarry equipment, three snoozing mules, a nervous group of smoking men, a red-faced and sweating aristocrat and a
strange container sitting on a wooden flat-bed mine cart.

With an expression that many may use after realising they'd stood in dung, William Blunt approached the females surveying
their surroundings and reluctantly asked if perform whatever rites were needed to get his men back to work.
Madame Powler squinted in the sunshine and peered at the man who believed her was better than those around him.

"Why didn't yer' just toss it on yon scrapheap?" she asked and with a movement of her head gestured towards the pile of
rocks that no longer held the mineral favoured by jewel merchants in the south.

Blunt snorted like one of the drowsy nags tied to the nearby hitching-post and replied that he was someone who didn't believe
in such ju-ju nonsense, but valued his employees beliefs. The raven-haired Seer responded with a dubious "Aye" and stepped
away to prepare her work.

A Spook Chest -the usual term used by those who lived and died under the knowledge that there was sorcery beyond their
understanding, is a two-foot long wooden casket made of white oak that is bound together by iron bands and locked via a
mechanism that involves several particular rotations and ideally, with the correct theurgical descant.

But like most crates, it can be damaged and if its contents are exposed, folk like Madame Powler become far-more important
than the impatient chap in the expensive outdoor attire watching from his position near the explosive shed.

As Peggy's mother softly sang to herself, she plucked items of cabalistic power from her shouldered bag. The Fortune Teller's
demeanour implied a relaxed attitude and a lack of seriousness, but to a Witch, it was a way of putting spirits at ease and
showing a respect through the offering of a canticle.

As Madame Powler went through her ritual, her attentive daughter suddenly felt a strange awareness come over her. It was like
a vague realisation without the comfort of knowing a result. Although unseen by anyone in the mine's yard, Peggy's sensitivity
was due to the lock of the Gast Box slowly turning...
...................................................

That feeling arrived just as the hideous face of Gwydionel appeared between the stone pillars and a moment later, two claw-like
hands reached out and grasped the bare ankles of the next presumed victim of the Bitch O' the Hill.

Even as Peggy's chin smashed into the grass as she was dragged away, our little Witch took solace that it would be much more
than a bruised jawbone that she'd be administering to her captor.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 09-12-2021

Even though Peggy Powler had never met Madam Tanner, she could still see the basic features of the woman
who had ran St. Martin's O' The Green's only Drapery store many years ago. But probably due to her eternal
quest to procure light in this place of damnation, the individual that had sold materials and gave tips to Jane
Bowman and her sister had long gone and now, only a scowling white-haired ogress remained.

The Bitch that terrorised the Chime-children of the village clenched and unclenched her skinny dirty-finger-nailed
hands in annoyance and muttered words that belonged to another age. Even Peggy struggled to catch the gist
of what she was saying, but Gwydionel's red-rimmed eyes told the last Witch of Underhill that she was just vaguely
speculating that a scheme could be in operation.

With a swish of her black moth-eaten gown, the proprietor of this shadowy domain slowly approached her seemingly
self-assured guest and for most, it would seem a nightmare had suddenly arrived. For a moment, the scene crackled
with hoary hatred and seasoned spite.

"You're no damned child!" Gwydionel hissed softly as she examined the face of this small figure in the unlikely
garb before her. Peggy resisted the need to commune with the foul-smelling hag and instead, focused on the
dimly-lit cavern-like surroundings where at least, twenty young girls stood huddled together.
One of them looked a little like an older version of Kittie and the forlorn blonde girl behind her was definitely Alice
Bowman.

There were long tapestries hanging from the unseen walls and each length of embroidered cloth radiated light,
but Peggy realised that the effulgence was flickering slightly and hence the reason for the kidnapped youngsters.

A number of tired-looking weaving looms stood far-off to Peggy's right and apart from the partially-braided cloths
that glowed in their heddles, the wooden devices sat in shadow.
Time was different here too, the Chimers were consciously or unwittingly keeping this place in some sort of bubble,
a prison trapped in a moment, the sorceress thought.

Beneath a laboured breathing, Gwydionel asked "So who are you?" and again, the newly-caught woman in a girl's
attire said nothing.
...................................................

Treacle Thistle prayed that the water barrel would be empty enough for him to move it as he placed his shoulder to
the wooden staves. The little friend of Peggy Powler had only been in the Heron cottage once and that was some
time ago. The metal door behind the rain-cask led to a small tunnel where fire-ash once was discarded into, but
Treacle knew it was no longer used.

But even with all his strength, the Bogle could not budge the damned container and as he leaned against the rough
surface of the barrel, he breathed in deeply and set himself for another exertion.

"Yer'll be needing a hand there, Mr Thistle?" Turnip Mudd whispered from the gloom and for a moment, the Gnome
believed the panting Yetun looked like he was going to faint with fright. Turnip had -has he'd done every year, steered
clear of St. Martin's celebrations and was quite content to leave things as they were.
But tonight, he'd felt a strange urge to just take a walk across Calder's Way and examine the end of the Mid-Summer
Festival.

"Oh Herne, you're a sight for sore eyes..." Treacle croaked as he gathered himself. "...The Witch was grabbed and
I don't know what to do" he said and smiled weakly at the new arrival. "I was going to ask Kittie Bretton if Peggy had
told her anything helpful, but to do so, I need to get in her house" he added with the hope that the hermit didn't think
he was totally inept.

Turnip nodded sagely and approached the barrel that was bigger than both of them. "Well, let's get you inside then"
he muttered and placed his hands on the hoop-bound obstacle.
...................................................

"You'll get used to being here..." the abhorrent overseer spat towards the little bare-footed woman with the confident
stance. Gwydionel didn't like this one, but her existence wasn't based on camaraderie. "...They all do" the shuffling
ugly crone warned as she turned to inspect her current crew.

"Back to work girls, it's growing dark in here" Gwydionel cawed as she turned away from the stoic newcomer and
with a claw-like hand, pointed towards the looms in the gloom. The timid teenagers scuttled towards where the horrid
harridan had indicated and for a second, the tapestries around the walls seemed to glow a little brighter.
It was then that the bantam Peggy Powler decided that it was her turn to control the situation.
...................................................

"Kittie...?" Thistle whispered in the dark and contemplated pulling at the heavy bedspread, but he imagined the little
girl waking with the thoughts of the monster who'd grabbed her sister was under the bed and ready for a refill.

The Bogle stood on tip-toes and called quietly again, but the soft snore of slumber told Treacle that Kittie was still in
the realms of reverie. With a look of impatience, he glanced around the star-lit bedroom and wondered what the
reclusive Gnome waiting in the garden would do.

Unknown to Treacle Thistle, almost three weeks ago, Kittie had been sitting in the same front garden that Turnip Mudd
now squatted in. On that bright sunny morning, Kittie was soaking up the warmth in a cozy position surrounded by her
mother's pink floxgloves, watching an orange Ladybird making her way over the back of a slowly-moving snail.

Kittie marvelled at how the little beetle seemed arrive at a point where she could climb off and continue her journey to
wherever, but for no apparent reason, the Ladybird would turn around and scamper back to the summit of the snail's
shell.

Thinking that she should be helping her Ma with hanging out the laundry -although the wet clothes would be one sister
less, Kittie rose from her warm place amongst the flowers and was about to say goodbye to the passive snail and its
jockey. That was when a sharp beak grabbed the gastropod and gobbled it down without a second thought for its rider.

It was a Peacock, a huge wide-eyed and inquisitive long-tailed Peacock.

Nervously holding the kept feather that the intruding and hungry bird had left when Kittie had shooed it away, Treacle
now tickled the sleeping girl's nose in hopes of waking her from her dance with the sandman.
...................................................

Peggy Powler began her murmured chant and waved her hands through the air in the same manner her mother had
expelled the resident of the Gast Box. She hadn't moved from her original place where Gwydionel had released her
and now with the hag and her prisoners on the otherside of the room, Peggy felt it was a perfect time perform the
exorcism.

"Kadoe-mar Hetto..." the Witch sibilated with conviction and as she added "...In verigo venefica", the gloomy cavern's
temperature dropped and the squealing Bitch of St. Martin's began to rise into the air. The girls became statues as they
watched with terrified eyes as the writhing creature hovered a few feet above the cracked slabs of whatever this corrupt
grotto was.

"Balento Gwydionel, de monstrum relinquo" Peggy barked and with a flick of her wrist, spun the now-screaming woman
-thing around for good measure. "You know my name...?" the diminutive magician shouted as the gurgling cacophony
continued to spew from the child-stealer, "...do you?" she repeated with an unnatural rage for the usually easy-going
Seer.

Then the shadows in the room became more compact and from the corner of her eye, she saw that the teenage girls
quaking with fear next to the looms were beginning to fade. The lights from the hanging decorations were going out
and Peggy realised she needed to think of something.
And quickly.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 09-18-2021

Even through the mixture of some arcane language and more-modern obscenities from the floating writhing hag
in front of them, Peggy Powler realised that the terrified girls were looking at her for an answer as what to do next.

The darkness was creeping in quickly now and Peggy knew the time-slowed state this hideous place had been
contained in was deteriorating due to the lack of the Bitch's control over her captives. The thing that had hidden
in plain sight as a seamstress would occasionally stare from her lofty cell towards where the last Witch of Underhill
stood and screeched her affront that some back-woods kid would dare to dabble with mystical powers.

"You're nothing but a country dullard and I will have you..." the terror of St. Martin's began, but Peggy launched the
white-haired stinking scarecrow into a spin and her threats changed to a scream of vexation as Gwydionel whirled
in mid-air.

A more vigilant observer may have noticed the long hanging tapestries hanging about them changing from their
once vibrant colours to faded scenes of the countryside and other imaginings. As the sense hope to escape this
purgatory became stronger, the threads seem to lose their lustre.

"Get behind me" the arm-waving Witch proclaimed and without a word, the wide-eyed youngsters stumbled in a
arc around the area where the horrible autocrat struggled to release herself from the spell. Glancing at the girls
as they assembled, Peggy hoped those on the other side were ready.
...................................................

If any of the Morgan family had looked out of their bedroom window that late hour, they'd have witnessed what could
be classed as a lonely scene. Two small hurrying figures, one that was girl-shaped, a companion no taller than an
adult's knee and both running up the lane towards the shadowy arena of monoliths.

Treacle Thistle gasped as he strove to keep up with Kittie Bretton and his questions came out in staccato words.
"She said... to watch... the rope for... a sign" the little Bogle wheezed as they reached the gate of the Green and
with a nervous eye over his shoulder, checked the cobbled roadway for any opportunist flying night predator.

Kittie's was breathing heavy too, but as she entered the dark tent-festooned lawn, her mind was ablaze with anything
the Witch may have merely mentioned before it had been the girl's bedtime. Treacle followed the child towards the
two standing-stones that guarded the entry to the realm of Gwydionel the Snatcher and with eyes as big as saucers,
he surveyed the deserted remains of Summer's-End.

"We should take hold of the rope and make ready for when she wants us to pull her back" Kittie said with all the
conviction she could muster and then ruined her statement by adding "...I think". The little Yetun said nothing, he just
grabbed the ribbon-wrapped cable and set his feet in preparation.
For what, he couldn't imagine or truthfully, feared to think.
...................................................

'Now' Peggy said to herself and hurled the gyrating kidnapper into the darkness where the looms had been postioned.
The loud sounds of pain and shattering equipment told the Witch that Gwydionel had come down hard. Without checking
on the condition of the harridan, Peggy ushered the girls in the opposite direction and into a blanket of blackness.

"Ho'way lasses, yer' freedom is just a step away" she said and managed to marshal a confident smile. The assembly of
shock -wracked girls shuffled into the shadows without a word of protest and the woman in the unusual outfit followed.

With just a single Lucifer borrowed from her little Bogle friend to light the way, Peggy Powler wandered the darkness
and chaperoned the Chime-children away from their wicked mistress. One can only thank Herne, the Girls knew how
to keep the flame alive. They walked in a line and even through their dulled demeanour, they'd obeyed the little woman's
advice to walk with a hand on each other's shoulder.

Even though she wondered if she'd ever see daylight again, Peggy managed to smile as she felt the first girl in the queue
place a hand on her own shoulder.
...................................................

"The night's majick calls to yer' bones, little-one?" Kittie whispered to nobody, she'd been dwelling on the first time the
little Witch had visited her home. Treacle was focused on the task ahead and didn't hear her properly, but the girl's
words were a welcomed distraction, so he asked her to repeat them. "It was something Peggy said... but it didn't
make sense to me" she explained and felt the chill of the wet grass getting to her toes.

The Yetun offered a tight-lipped smile, "Only you can know" he offered and kept his gaze on the dead rope laid between
the monoliths, The scene went back to quietness and both would-be saviours swam in their own thoughts.
Treacle kept his thinking harnessed and simply ruminated on the red and blue ribbons woven into the hemp and how they
had failed to display their colour in the gloom. Kittie sighed softly and wished she held onto the other things Peggy had
said back then.
...................................................

It could have been a trick of the nerves when surrounded by blackness, but the little sorceress thought she'd felt a cool
movement of air. Peggy glanced at the eternal flame of the match and saw it wave slightly, it wasn't much, but it brought
a small sense of hope.
The strange line of people pressed on and somewhere in the back of her mind, the last Witch of Underhill wondered if
Treacle could still remember the words she'd given him. "He bloody -well better" she whispered to nobody.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 09-23-2021

Around ten years before Peggy Powler had found herself leading a group of bedfuddled young girls through
a pitch-black corridor of nowhere, the little Witch had experienced something similar when she'd solved the
disappearance of Lucy Lightfoot.

Heading towards the faint wisp of light with only the natural abilities of the Chime-Children preventing her
single kitchen match from burning out, Peggy stumbled across memories that had survived in comparable
conditions. "Stay close" she mumbled and felt the girl's hand on her shoulder tighten.
They were coming back.
...................................................

Peggy remembered that it had been a drizzly Tuesday morning that she and her grizzled companion had
discovered the cave. She had spent the previous night scouring the Geather forest with man now standing
beside her and staring at the ominous entrance. Silas Manson, who many folk believed was the county's most
prolific monster-hunter.

Lucy Lightfoot was eighteen years of age and there'd been talk that a Werewolf was stalking the heavily-wooded
environs of Bander's Edge. When the blonde-haired stripling had gone missing and the men of the village had
failed to locate her, a passing Midnight Mail Carrier was informed to search for the last Witch of Underhill and
ask for her assistance.

The galloping courier had found the wily enchanter travelling an unpaved lane that would take her over the high
moors and down towards the town of Salterhead, a mundane boondocks where Peggy hoped to hole-up for the
Winter.

As the panting Postman struggled to haul the bantam necromancer onto the back of his heavily-sweating horse,
Edgar Turpin explained the situation and later -over his shoulder as the unlikely pair sprinted through the darkness,
he relayed to the bouncing Witch that the residents of Bander's Edge had also procured the services of a wolf-hunter.

Riding into the dawn and past the wooden signpost that named the remote hamlet, the weary woman in the grubby
poncho surveyed the heavy woodland for another type of placard, a sign of the furry Gerulfi.
...................................................

If any of the doleful girls from the welcomed insurrection -or in fact Peggy herself, had remained in the room of abating
illumination, they'd have seen amongst the shadows, a gnarled hand reaching for purchase in the wreckage of the looms.
Gwydionel was down, but not out.
...................................................

Manson looked at Peggy and rasped his chin in thought, the darkness of where he believed Lucy Lightfoot was probably
being kept, was an ideal place for an ambush. If a Werewolf hadn't just devoured the young woman and instead, decided
to hoard Lucy for some God-forsaken reason, he and the stoic spell-maker would good addition for a Loup Garou stocking
-up a larder. However, the grey eyes of Silas never purveyed his thoughts.

"If'n the Wolfman is in here, he'll be just a fella' in daylight" Peggy said off-handedly and without waiting for a response
from the so-called Lupus-Hunter, she stepped towards the cold tenebrosity of the cave. Silas Manson snorted his answer
and pushed the Witch to one side,"Aye, and the cursed-thing could be waiting for us to think that" he hissed and jammed
his crossbow out in front of him.

The cave was lightless, not even a natural fissure allowed a single beam of daylight to show that the cavern was passable
for walking in. After a minute, Manson struck a match and scanned the walls for the sign of a torch. The rag-wrapped chunk
of honed-timber laying on the sandy ground told a tale that neither wolf-stalker nor Witch wished to dwell on.
Someone was home.
...................................................

"So they send in a tiny Seer to try and wrestle my babies from me, do they?" Gwydionel muttered to herself and peered at the
almost-lost tapestries that were now turning to rags. One of her eyes had turned inward and her right-arm was useless due to
the fall. Spitting out the last tooth in her head, the Bitch O' The Hill snarled  "Well, we'll see about that" and lumbered off in the
direction her flock had been taken.
...................................................

The rope could only offer faint tones of grey as the coloured strips that Jane Bowman had carefully weaved into the hemp failed
to display their hue due to the light-sapping surroundings. But still, it was a rope and and on the other end, Peggy hoped Treacle
was there readying himself and the given-words she required him to memorise.
"Git set girls..." the tired Witch whispered, "We're nearly home".


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - guohua - 09-23-2021

@BIAD 

Do we get an Autographed copy of your Best Seller? tinydrroling
How about a Amazon Discount code for the purchase?  tinybigeyes


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 09-23-2021

(09-23-2021, 06:44 PM)guohua Wrote: @BIAD 

Do we get an Autographed copy of your Best Seller? tinydrroling
How about a Amazon Discount code for the purchase?  tinybigeyes

Yes and if you're good, BIAD will let you start a fan-club!
tinylaughing


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - guohua - 09-23-2021

(09-23-2021, 06:48 PM)BIAD Wrote:
(09-23-2021, 06:44 PM)guohua Wrote: @BIAD 

Do we get an Autographed copy of your Best Seller? tinydrroling
How about a Amazon Discount code for the purchase?  tinybigeyes

Yes and if you're good, BIAD will let you start a fan-club!
tinylaughing

Yes, Yews, Yes and I'm the President  minusculetongue [Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTZlQuDmFyjl51V53RWTeM...w&usqp=CAU]  smallroflmao


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 09-26-2021

Treacle Thistle sat with his chin on knees and watched the rope for movement, Kittie Bretton sat with folded legs
and watched the worried Bogle. The night was well underway now and the little girl was deep in her own thoughts
when she realised that she had never enquired if Peggy had said anything important to the creature that marked
time by blinking before her.

Kittie and Treacle had waited for a full ten minutes with nibbled lips and sweating grips on the coarse hemp and
both of the inexperienced tug-of-war team had expected a response almost straight away. However, reality doesn't
work like that.

Now they waited and watched, watched and waited.

It was just as a faraway owl-hoot wafted between the tall cedars that Kittie posed her question to the wary Treacle,
a welcomed-distraction too, she thought. "Did she tell you anything that might give us a clue as to what's going on?"
Kittie said in hushed tones, it seemed the scene required a quiet voice.

The night-scared Yetun adjusted his hat and gathered his thoughts, he couldn't tell her about the spell the Witch had
designated to him in case she pushed to hear it and he certainly wasn't going to brief the twelve year-old about his
gift of igniting his own excessive flatus.

"She told me that the monster who's got your sister is called Gwydionel and she lives in a dark place just outside of
this one" Treacle remarked and for a moment, thought he saw the rope twitch. With a quick glance towards Kittie for
a signs of a confirmation, the girl's preoccupied features hinted that he was just letting the gloom take advantage of
his overworked alertness.

The silence settled between them again and the night watched the couple who watched a length of braided fibres.
...................................................

When the last Witch of Underhill witnessed the head of Silas Manson being torn off by an unseen force, her first thought
was not to run like the Devil was biting her bare-ass, but to grab for the burning torch that fell from the dying man's hand.

However, Peggy Powler realised that to obtain the illumination would also put her in a position where she too, could
possibly lose the need for a floppy hat and so selected to alter the former idea and high-tail it.

The cave had become narrow after about five minutes and their journey had offered no sign of the missing Lucy Lightfoot.
Manson had hissed over his shoulder that the Werewolf was probably asleep in a side-chamber up ahead and with her
remains scattered about him.

Now the renowned monster-hunter would never speak over his shoulder again and as Peggy fled blindly back down into
the pitch-black tunnel, she wondered if the ambushing man-beast would take her head too. Clutching her faithful satchel,
she hoped she'll get to see the pinprick of daylight before that happened.
...................................................

Time was changing -the tired bare-footed woman in the borrowed dirt-smudged clothes thought and resisted the need
to look over her shoulder. The Chimers were reacting to nearing the real world and it also seemed that the rope in her
hands was becoming more tangible with its texture.

"We'll soon be there, lasses" Peggy grunted and put more effort into pulling on the woven cord, she was becoming aware
that Gwydionel's light-lost kingdom was slowly becoming reluctant to release its visitors. Now the Witch realised that this
ribbon-wrapped placenta was vital to the girls and herself in getting home.
...................................................

Limping into the caliginous void, Gwydionel stopped and ignoring throbbing pain in her shoulder, she sniffed the air for
signs of a spoor. The half-blind hag understood that whoever the intruder was, she was powerful and should be cautiously
approached.

But the spell-slinger had stolen her children and clenching her only working hand tight enough to draw foul-smelling blood
from her palm, Gwydionel vowed that this thief would pay with the most horrid of deaths. Unknown to the time-altering girls
that had brought her the thread-displaying light, the Bitch O' The Green wore something beneath her black gown that nobody
had ever seen. The flayed skin of the original owner of Madam Tanner's Drapery.

Widening her toothless grin in the darkness, Gwydionel pressed on with her hunt for her makeshift family and a new flesh-suit.
...................................................

"Oh... er..." Treacle stammered and pointed to the slithering rope. "It-it's moving!" he said and hesitated to grab the animated
cable. Kittie said nothing and just snatched-up the decorated hawser. With a nervous breath on their lips, the couple prepared
to haul their unusual consignment back into reality.
"Remember the spell" the little Bogle mouthed to himself and began to pull.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 09-29-2021

The going got harder as Peggy Powler and her entourage fought their way along the rope and out of the darkness and
as the light became just a little less faint, the weary Witch noticed something else too. As the flickering match seemed
to dim a little, Peggy glanced over shoulder and saw the third girl in the line -the blonde-haired sister of Jane Bowman,
had begun to fade.

Peggy scanned the queue to see if anyone else was disappearing, but the zombie-like youngsters were all doing as they'd
been told and walking with their left hand on the shoulder of the one ahead. Staring back into the gloom, she wondered if
the sour-face crone -that Peggy had believed been vanquished, had recovered and was now, somehow stealing back the girls.

Seeing nothing to indicate Gwydionel was tracking them, Peggy looked again at the stoic-faced lass and saw she was now
almost gone. Peggy took a wild-swipe at an earlier idea she'd had about Chime-children and wondered if she'd near-enough
correct.

"Alice?" the last Witch of Underhill called back over her shoulder and craning her neck, Peggy saw the ghostly-girl respond
to the name, she was an unreported one to be taken long before Major Evans had come to St, Martin's. Jane Bowman had
never told anyone -not even her parents, of what had truly happened and to be fair, who would've believed her.
Now Alice had gone and Peggy managed a small smile, the Chime majick had returned her to her own time.

Pushing harder against the unseen force of this horrid lightless realm, Peggy Powler mentally ticked-off Alice and then Harriet
Heron... she had escaped. But now gripping the ribboned-wrapped rope harder, she attempted to recall the list that Major Evans
had given her. Through narrowed eyes, the tired necromancer also noticed Treacle's kitchen match had lost some more its lustre.
...................................................

She could smell them. They were just ahead and Gwydionel quietly cackled to herself. Oh, they would be punished, of course,
but that little sneak of a woman would pay dearly for what she'd caused here. The ravaged half-blind harpy went to rub her hands
in wicked delight, but her right arm remained motionless. Gwydionel snorted in anger and shambled on into the dark.
Oh yes -she thought, that woman would pay dearly.
...................................................

Dana May went next, the mousy-girl second from the end just blinked out in a moment and Peggy noticed that the girls just
picked-up the space and became a shuffling caterpillar again. Not a word, not a gasp... just following their hope in the form
of the little Witch in the kid's clothes.
...................................................

"Ugh" was the word both Kittie Heron and Treacle Thistle said in unison, the rope in their hands just didn't want to move.
The Bogle turned around so he could pull it over his shoulder and with gritted-teeth, he saw that Kittie was panting heavily.
"It... it won't... budge" she said between wheezes and Treacle had to agree, this was too much for the pair of them.

For a moment, the weary Yetun believed the small dark shape that trundled from the cedars was an opportunist fox until he
heard the familiar voice of Turnip Mudd. "Put yer' backs into it me-hearties!" the hermit from over Calder's way remarked with
a cheerfulness that seemed out of place in such a dire situation.

Kittie stifled a squeal of shock as the Gnome stepped behind Treacle and began to pull on the rope. The girl who should've
been in bed at this time of night and gaining blisters by the second, stared at the two creatures who worked back-to-back.
Maybe it's only children who can accept such weird settings, but with a frown of concentration, she went back to pulling on
the rope.
...................................................

Sally-something-or-other had gone and Joannie Marrs was now fading out, Peggy was down to four disciples clinging to the
shoulder ahead of them. It was a few seconds later when she heard the heavy phlegm-ridden breathing far behind them.
The Bitch O' The Hill was coming.

"Ah' can smell yer' fear" a faint voice wafted from the darkness and Peggy knew she didn't have -just like the amount of girls,
much time left.
...................................................

Through his shaggy sweat-dripping beard, Turnip hissed a question that made Treacle's eyes widen with realisation of what
he had to do, though he was reluctant to do so. "Didn't Ms Powler tell yer' anything we can use to pull this damned thing out?"
the Gnome snapped as he leaned into his exertion.

Treacle looked up and saw Kittie was flagging now in her efforts, it wouldn't be long before the rope would just slip away into
the unseen Otherside and Peggy and the missing girls would be lost forever. 

Gulping once, the brave little outcast-of-a-Bogle, recited the spell that the Witch had told him.


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 10-03-2021

It would be an incantation that Treacle Thistle believed would stay with him until the great antlered-Hunter came for his soul,
but the words would be uncatchable only seconds after he gave them utterance.

"Menos Den Palus, Chell Di Auxili Gehennus Quaesot" the little Yetun rasped out into the night sky and felt another blister on
his hand burst.

The feeling of coldness came first and as it began, Treacle recalled the rules for whenever something that humans would be
unable to comprehend was summoned. They mustn't look at it. With the Bogle facing towards Kittie Bretton and the backdrop
of the tents, he knew he didn't have much time to relay the warning to the weary girl.

"Kittie... take my word for it, close your eyes and don't look behind you" Treacle gasped as another twist of hemp slipped from
his grasp. The sweating girl with the gritted-teeth, who believed in majick, worlds-beyond-worlds and the now-obvious faith that
she shared this land with creatures of her own standing, looked-up from her concentration and offered a puzzled gaze.
"Believe me..." the Bogle hissed, "...we need help and it's not for human eyes to look upon" he added and nodded with what
he hoped was a sage gesture.

In a small voice that would break many a parent's heart, she replied "okay" and closed the shutters on those dusk-blue orbs.
As Kittie acceded to her friend's warning, the responders to the esoteric cry of help stepped out from beneath the cedars
and with Turnip Mudd exclaiming '"Hell's teeth!", she believed keeping her eyes shut might just be a grand idea.
...................................................

Joannie Marrs had slipped back into her timeline along with the Baker's daughter Becky Caldwell and now, Peggy Powler shooed
away the wasteful thought of the Marrs cottage being lived in again. Knowingly or not, the Chime-Children were repairing time
and putting everything back in its rightful place. Now only the bitterly-sobbing Maggie Bretton was left clinging onto the Witch's
shoulders.

"Diva bawl, pet..." Peggy choked "...Yon Bitch'll get hers when we have yer' away" she managed and took another heavy step
towards the blurred-grey opening ahead. Gwydionel was close now, close enough that if the Witch of Underhill had craned her
neck, she'd have seen the evil-grinning boo-hag reaching out with her only working-hand for the sweat-licked locks of Peggy's
final passenger.

The smell was gagging and told of lost hopes and dreams of amity. "Yer'll never make it..." Gwydionel cawed and almost touched
a strand of Maggie's hair. "...This is my kingdom, my place and nobody rules here except me" came a following warning and
the foul finger-nailed clawed hand swiped through a ghostly representation of the Bretton girl.
The Bitch's cry of rage was the giveaway to Peggy that Kittie's sister's return was underway.

With another forced movement of her tired legs, the solitary rescuer stared at the softy-spluttering aperture where the blue and
red-wrapped rope disappered into the real world. "By Herne's antlers, Ah'll bloody make it" Peggy vowed determinedly and
struck forward again.
...................................................

They were from the marshes and those of a long ago forest. The smaller shapes were daubed in luminous hues that fooled the
eye and tricked the mind. They were Hiders, a lost race that had fought the Bitch O' The Hill and endured her presence.
'Those of the Marshes' were of a different brand, hulking brutes that denied description. Black featureless beings that smelled
of forlorn and anguish.
Together without words or acknowledgement, they took up the rope and began to pull.

Unseen by Treacle and the wide-eyed hermit Turnip Mudd, were the little faces peeking from the hedgerow on the other side
of the lane. Juno and his fellow Fae-folk stared in awe at the surreal scene where the outlander of their kind, a reclusive Gnome
and weird shapes were pulling at a rope that vanished between two standing-stones.
However, their barometer of bravery didn't indicate they should help.

As the nearby pin-striped tents collapsed under the weight of the tugging creatures, Treacle yelled at the little girl to keep her
eyes shut. With the rope being plucked from her grasp and raised higher, Kittie fell to the damp grass and placed her hands
over face. Imagining her sister's escape from something unimaginable, she silently wished this was over.
...................................................

"I've gotcha' now..." Gwydionel hissed and hooked her fingers onto the sweat-stained blouse of the woman in the girl's clothes.
"...I just hope you can stitch" she giggled into the air between the Witch and her hideous face. Peggy sucked in a breath and
pushed into the membrane that divided this place of wretchedness from her own. With one more final effort, Peggy urged her
calves to push her forward and with a grin that would rival Gwydionel's, the Witch mocked over shoulder "Yer' smell o' piss!" as
she fell exhausted through the veil and welcomed the caress of dew-kissed grass.

With half-closed eyes, Peggy surveyed the world that produced its own light without the need of stealing children and her
attention was grabbed by the slowly dissolving shape of Kittie Bretton hiding her face. Even though her energy was as
low as the tide out at Durridge, Peggy managed a smile and whispered "Be on yer' way now, me-darlin'".

Treacle snatched his head around from his vocal urgings of the endeavours and stared at Peggy's sudden arrival. Unconsciously,
he grabbed Mudd's beard beside him and exclaimed "We did it!". Ascertaining his tugging was inappropriate, Treacle released
the poor Gnome's facial hair and instead, patted him on the back.

Turnip gave his fellow zealot-of-whiskers a look of faux-odium at the Bogle's overt jubilation and leaned to assist the Witch from
her prone position. That was when he saw the filth-stained hand holding onto Peggy's ankle.
"She's comin' through" Peggy croaked and felt the pull back towards the realm of the Bitch.
...................................................

What happened next would be bound with alternative yarns that Bogles told their infants when the wind roared outside of their
burrows. Years would move on and the character in these tales would become a lot-more fearless and spoken of as a committed
member of their Yetun family, something that Treacle Thistle had sadly, owned neither.

Gwydionel's ugly face broke through the translucent diaphragm and with a single eye, soaked in the vista that had assisted in the
stealing of her children. The loathing that shone from the wide glare was obvious and the toothless crone offered a obstinate leer.
"I'll be taking yer' heroine as a fair payment" Gwydionel gloated and turned her focus towards the body on the ground.

Turnip Mudd would swear to his dying day that what he witnessed would still be something he didn't know whether to look startled
at or burst out in a fit of laughter at. Treacle was one moment -stood with a gaping mouth that would rival his wide eyes, the next
he was running pell-mell towards the grinning horror holding Peggy's leg.

Reaching into his pocket and leaping from the ground at the same moment, the Yetun that his watching brethren had exiled years
before, twisted in mid-air and arched his back in an effort the Gnome and onlookers could only guess at. Peggy Powler glanced up
and put her hands over her head.

With a thumb-scratched sound of a ignited kitchen match, Treacle Thistle's airborne forced-flatulence combusted into a horizontal
column of fire that consumed the gawking gorgon's face. Foul screams filled the night air as the burning Bitch disgorged her raving
wrath on her silent audience and the moment her gnarled hand moved to quieten the agony on the remains of her face, the suddenly
cognisant Turnip Mudd pulled Peggy's limp body away from the fiery ordeal.

As the child-stealing Gwydionel fell back through the veil and the howling faded, Those of the Marshes and the mysterious ghosts of
long-gone Hiders yanked the rope from the fading aperture and then disappeared themselves. Treacle hunkered down beside Turnip
and carefully moved the Witch's hair from her tired face. "She's fainted" Turnip said without elaborating and standing up. quielty left
to retrieve Peggy Powler's belongings.

It was over.
(Nearly!)


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - guohua - 10-03-2021

Nearly?!?


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 10-03-2021

(10-03-2021, 07:01 PM)guohua Wrote: Nearly?!?

Epilogue, Boss... yer've got to have an epilogue!
tinybiggrin


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - guohua - 10-03-2021

(10-03-2021, 07:06 PM)BIAD Wrote:
(10-03-2021, 07:01 PM)guohua Wrote: Nearly?!?

Epilogue, Boss... yer've got to have an epilogue!
tinybiggrin

Let me translate to Mandarin "Epilogue".

结语    Jiéyǔ

OH  mediumnotlooking Okay,,,,,,  minusculebeercheers


RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - BIAD - 10-05-2021

The selfish seagull unknowingly became Peggy Powler's alarm-clock when it screeched its indignation of a returning boat
from the Great Sea disrupting its butter-eel hunt. Even though the breeze-powered Coble was nowhere near the quiet lagoon
of the estuary where the bird was in pursuit of the slippery anguilla, the yellow-beaked predator still felt the need to give vent
to the sailor's affront.

The last Witch of Underhill opened one squinting eye and took stock of her brightly-lit surroundings. Ignoring the faint cries of
the fish-buzzard, Peggy took a guess by the place of the sun in the clear sky that it was late morning and as her awareness
took full-hold, she also realised she was laid on her satchel.

Sitting up, she noticed a small well-stoked campfire nearby with a kettle hanging from two branches jammed in the soil on
either side of the glowing chunks of wood. The small fishing boat passed by and Peggy felt the realisation that nature was
somehow creating book-ends to her recent adventure at St. Martin's O' The Green.

"Fair travels" the fisherman called and still feeling a hint of weariness, Peggy merely waved back this time and allowing
the peaceful location to wash over her, she watched the sailing-skiff move off further down the dune grass-covered beach.
Tradition had been a fellow-traveller with Ms Powler on many of her experiences and so she felt the need to retain the
custom to reply to the seafarer's acknowledgement.
"Enjoy a clear wake, Sir" the Witch muttered and offered a single nod.

It was just as the warm breeze kissed her sleep-sagging face and Peggy caught the whiff of fresh chicory-coffee riding the
sea-draft, that her internal-radar suddenly told her that she wasn't alone. Turning her head back to the mini-bivouac, she
spied Treacle Thistle busy pouring a mug of the brew without burning his little hands. Hands that were bound with cloth.

"G'mornin'" Peggy mumbled and immediately felt her muscles scream as she began to stand up. "Oh my...!" she croaked
as she forced her back to straighten, "...the years are catchin' me up!" she added and refused the need to yawn. It wasn't
until she was at her full height that she also could smell her own body-odour and hesitated to approach the Yetun with the
dented tin-cup.

"Your bath awaits... and you're not getting your coffee until you've been in the water" Treacle said in a faux-stern voice and
pointed one of his bandaged hands towards the estuary. His cheery smile assured his friend that everything was okay and
last night's ordeal held no residue to spoil the current situation.

Seawater holds a magic all of its own, who knows what elements it picks up and carries as it travels the world to serene
havens like the one Peggy Powler waded into. Stripping off the soiled clothes of Maggie Bretton, the grinning Witch soaked
in the warm tidal-creek and washed herself of the previous evening's nightmare.

"Is everything okay?" Peggy called up to the tall screen of beach-grass that saved Treacle's bashfulness of seeing his friend
naked. The answer that came was accompanied a mug-holding hand coming the through the high strands and the Yetun's
friend accepted the coffee gratefully. "Everything is just fine" the hidden voice replied confidently.

And it was. As Peggy gobbled-down her breakfast of fried bacon, a brown biscuit almost as big as a certain Elfin's head and
plump tomatoes -that the ravenous sorceress guessed were from a villager's garden, Treacle Thistle disclosed his findings
since Peggy had fainted last night.

Simply put, what the blistered Bogle had said as he had supplied his coastal guest during her briny ablutions with a hot brew,
was an accurate summary. Now in her familiar poncho and hat, Peggy listened intensely as her host laid it all out.

Maggie Bretton rose from her bed this morning and after her usual quarrel with her younger sister, begrudgingly assisted her
mother with washing the family's laundry in the back garden. This morsel of news brought a glance towards the drying clothes
from the listening theurgist.

Becky Caldwell had scrubbed her knee when she'd ran too-fast during the early-morning deliveries of her parents' bakery fare.
Right now, Arthur Caldwell was recounting the biscuits he made only that dawn and coming to the conclusion that his daughter
fancied one of his oven-baked treats. Mr Thistle's cheeks seemed to take on a slight rosy-hue as he related this part of his report.

Adjusting his bandages, Treacle had added other accounts that showed that time had been reversed to a point before the harridan
known as Gwydionel had began her collection of children. Peggy mused to herself if the ogress actually knew that the girls were
Chimers. She left the pondering for something the little Witch felt was more important.
Fixing Treacle's well-earned wounds.
...................................................

"I have to see someone soon" Treacle said warily as he peeked his face out of Peggy's satchel. The countryside belonged
to those like the Bogle, but they were getting close to St. Martin's now and it would be prudent to maintain the perspective
most villages adhere to, that Fae-folk may exist, but they don't walk their streets in broad daylight.

The smiling enchanter placed a mental wager that Treacle's engagement had something to do with Juno and his friends.
Clicking Farmer Bulmer's gate closed, Peggy's grin widened as she realised her little Yetun had  been accepted back with
his people.

"Then 'Ah'll drop yer' off and be on me-way, okay...?" she replied easily and waited for Treacle to rush with an explanation.
However, the contents of her trusty canvas bag remained quiet.
...................................................

Juno took some time to lure out the shadows of the hawthorn bush where Peggy had first encountered him, but his timid
companions never left the gloom of the foliage. With the events of the previous night occurring right before their eyes, the
carefully-moving Witch mentally agreed the cautious creatures had every reason to be circumspect.

Checking quickly towards the dry-stone wall that separated the rarely-used thistle-ridden meadow and the field where sheep
lethargically grazed, the little Fae in the same blue blouse his visitor had first met him wearing, stared up at the Witch that
they believed had vanquished the Snatcher. Peggy resisted the need to meet the wide eyes in the bush's undergrowth and
kept a smile on her face throughout the meeting with Juno, their elected leader.

"The sun will be startin' his trek south soon and 'Ah'll be on me-way too..." the poncho-wearing Witch began "...The evil
that fed off this village has gone and 'Ah have a boon to ask of you good-people" Peggy added and slowly reached for her
nap-sack.

Juno's eyes tracked her movements and as the satchel's flap was raised, she announced "this is the real hero that saved
the humans last night and I would like you to look after him in case the hag returns". Treacle's hat-less head popped out of
the opening and meekly grinned at his own kind. "Hello" was all he offered.
...................................................

The marshes look so peaceful as Peggy Powler stood on the gravelled path that led to the treacherous bog, the noon-day
sun cast no ominous shadows amongst the tall rushes that occasionally moved in the coastal breeze. Soaking in the warm
solitude of the place, the Witch took off her wide-rimmed hat and bowed her head and softly, cleared her throat.
With a deep breath, Peggy readied herself to pay her gratitude to 'Those Of The Marshes'.

Gazing at the flints of stone that mixed with the short grass next to the life-taking quagmire, she pondered on what the future
held for such elemental creatures. The times were changing and as the drunkard fisherman Elijah Cole had hinted at, majick
was becoming a gift that humans only entertained when all else failed and snorted at by those who lose their spirit of awe at
the world they cannot see or touch.

Peggy smiled sadly at the little chunks of aggregate and unkempt sod, but accepted her lot with grace. For good or ill, the last
Witch of Underhill would carry on and if her supernatural skills would be no longer needed, then she'd be happy to spend out
her days with those who dwelled within the fenland waterways and who managed the coastal morass.

"You have my eternal respect and favour..." Peggy pronounced in Elder-Speak, "...For the courage you displayed and the
succour you submitted to those who cannot perceive your presence. May your times be of peace" she concluded and turned
back towards the woodland that hid the lonely wetland from St Martin's O' The Green.
...................................................

The sound of punished iron clanged out from the shadows of the Blacksmith's mill and as Peggy Powler peeked past the
big door, her thoughts were on the range of the time reset. Had Hattie Marney returned to her former life of Harriet Heron
or had she been spared and now still cleaved to Daniel the farrier?

"Can I help you Ma'am?" the big-muscled Smithy asked politely as he wiped sooty-sweat from his brow, the handsome man
placed his hammer down beside the cartwheel he'd been working on and faced the little visitor from out of town. Poking her
head discreetly into the warm interior of the barn, Peggy answered that she was just passing by and wondered what the noise
was.

"Well, I'm kind of busy, so I'll get back to my work" Daniel said agreeably and with a tip on an invisible hat, went back to forging
a rim for somebody's conveyance. Peggy nodded and had just begun to turn back to the bright sunlit-track that led into village,
when she saw a recognisable figure entering a door near the back of the foundry.

"Grannie said she'd be expecting us at seven for supper" Hattie Marney -nee Heron called to her burly husband and got on
with supplying wind to the embers in her man's hearth. "Oh, hello" the pleasant-faced woman said absently and went back to
pumping the bellows.
A wave was all the little Witch offered and left with a huge grin on her face. Treacle was right, things were going to be okay.
...................................................

It was late afternoon and St. Martin's O' The Green soaked in the summer sun. Jane Bowman watched her little girl chase
a red butterfly along the path of their cottage and thought about the visit she'd suggested to her husband. Alice was hoping
to get married soon and the her beau was a Durridge fisherman that her man was sure he knew.

May-Bell's attention waned from the fluttering bug as she now stood at the gate looking out at someone beneath a tall hat
and grubby-looking poncho. Jane's maternal instincts clicked upwards as the stranger waved to the girl.
"Fair travels" the little woman chirped and began to rummage in a bag that hung from her narrow shoulders.

Jane quickly covered the space between her doorstep and little May-Bell, you can never be too careful when these outsiders
wandered into this peaceful village. Bad things kept away from St. Martin's and vigilance was one of the reasons.
"Good elements to you-too" Jane replied with a smile that never reached her eyes and without thinking, placed a hand on her
daughter's warm head. 

"A sunflower for yer' little lass..." the stranger said and produced the large flower from her satchel, "...something to bring a smile
to the kiddie's face" she added with a wink. Mrs Bowman muttered a thank you and without another word, the little bare-footed
woman was on her way and that was fine with Jane.
You can never be too careful, she thought again and ushered May-Bell back towards the cottage.
...................................................

"That's a Delphinium and they are Foxgloves..." Kittie Bretton brightly informed the odd-looking stranger looking over the gate
of her mother's well-kept garden. Peggy had resisted the urge to slow her pace back towards where monolith-strewn lawn was
waiting, but seeing the girl crouched down investigating the world of a sleeping snail, she now happily acknowledge her failure.

Kittie squinted in the sunlight at the woman in the tall hat and Peggy could only wonder what thoughts were rattling around in
that beautiful head of the little girl that had saved her from the evil force and had stolen one of her family.
"...Me and Maggie -that's my sister, helped my Ma to plant them" she added with a note of pride.

The Witch wiggled her toes and fought the need to invade the Bretton property in order to hug the lass, it took some willpower,
but she just managed it. "Aye me-darlin', it's a fine garth... a fine one indeed" Peggy exclaimed and fighting off a bout of tears,
she waved and went on her way.

"You be careful out there among the little-folk..." Kittie called cheerfully from the gate, "...and stay clear of toadstool-rings and
crooked sixpences" the tinkling voice added. With that, the youngest of the Bretton clan went back to figuring out that if a snail
wears its home on its back, why weren't there any windows on its shell.

As her shadow leaned ahead of her on the cobbled lane, Ms Powler who had fought countless demons, expelled unruly ghosts
from family homes and slain Werewolves that had really been the belle of Bander's Edge, let her weeping of happiness come.
'You've done good' she heard a certain clairvoyant of a carnival say.

The familiar path to the Green sparkled in the jewels of her own tears as Peggy made her way to her last destination before
leaving St. Martin's, the home of Turnip Mudd. Passing the collection of standing-stones and the rabbit-grazed terrace they sat
on, the floppy hat-wearing wizard noticed that all the equipment from the Summer-Eve Fete had gone.

For a moment, Peggy thought she saw a shadow in the cedars move and then decided it was probably just a snooping bird
looking for a blind grub to have for a late lunch. Still, those who had long ago inhabited the swathes of forest of this part of the
county had also helped in the banishment of Gwydionel, the Bitch O' the Hill.

If a ghost of a Hider had been looking, they'd have seen a little woman in a tall hat bowing low towards the cedars and who
knows, maybe that sap-daubed phantom may have bowed back.

And while we're deliberating on likelihoods, maybe Farmer Bulmer's mermaid had left his dreams too?
Peggy ruminated on this as she wiped the self-induced kaleidoscope from her eyes and collecting herself, she scolded her
manner and advised her sentimental side that the day was getting on and she had places to be.

...................................................

"So yer'll be Peggy Powler, the scourge of the Haunters and the bane of Banshees?" the bearded Gnome asked sarcastically
from the top of the dry-stone wall that accompanied Calder's Way. It was obvious to the approaching Witch that the little Yetun
sitting beside him would make a poor thespian if his future required it.

The sea-bricked highway waited patiently for the recipient of the question to decide which direction she would take and with a
glance towards further down the coast, Peggy kept her choice to herself.

Around a grin of delight, the lonely road-walker responded to the rude hermit that went by the name of Turnip Mudd and his smile
-stifling partner. "Aye, me-good Gents, that'll be me and fair travels to yer' both" Peggy snapped off with a tone of well-enjoyed
merriment and she even tossed in a doffing of her hat for good measure.

Turnip -one that rarely showed such features of goodwill, began to chuckle, it was one of those simple acts of euphoria that is
contagious and difficult to ignore. So much so -that if anyone had cared to wander up the little lane from St. Martin's, they'd
have observed a crouching bare-assed-revealing Witch on all fours with spittle dribbling from her guffawing mouth, a scruffy
-looking Gnome rolling around on a flat piece of wall-granite and a Bogle making wheezing sounds and holding his privates
to stop an accident. A trio of nincompoops braying with laughter like donkeys at the seaside.

But nobody did and for almost a minute, another type of magic enjoyed the late-warmth of the day.

After the hilarity drifted away and left their respective bodies feeling weak -but content, Peggy stepped towards the pair of Fae
who'd help save the village and embraced her favourite friends. They looked good sitting there on their lichen-covered craggy
thrones.

Peggy Powler gave a beguiling look to Turnip and Treacle respectively and then nodded without comment, enough had been said.
In the quiet of the countryside and with only a far-off croak of petulant pheasant, the little sorceress turned towards her destiny.

Another season awaited along Calder's Way and probably another spooky episode also tarried there for the last Witch of Underhill
called Peggy Powler.

The End.






RE: Peggy Powler & The Missing Children. - VioletDove - 10-05-2021

Wow! This was such a good story! It made me feel like I was right there in the middle of it. 

I am sad that it’s over though but that’s the way it is with every great story I’ve read. 

Thank you @BIAD for sharing this tale. Now when people ask about my favorite characters I’ll have to direct them here so they can read about Peggy Powler.