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Wyrmhaven Calling.
#1
There's a place that Peggy Powler holds dear in her heart and the opportunity to actually go there during her duties as
custodian of Spellbinding, had never occurred. That was until the Midnight Mail arrived at nine o'clock on Tuesday evening.

Being the last Witch of Underhill, Peggy's charge was to rid the district of supernatural disorders and phantom dilemmas,
a task that she performed without verve or indifference. But when the panting Postman had hurtled his giant grey mare
into the town square of Pony Bridge and informed her that such a weird quandary was occurring in Wyrmhaven, the
diminutive woman in the large hat and grubby poncho wasted no time in preparing herself to return to the coastal village.

The quizzical looks from the boy sitting on the wall of the town's well urged Peggy to recall her memories and automatically
begin to massage them into a narrative form. After all, Ezra Cotton was her ward and apprentice now, there were things in
her past that may benefit him.

Peggy had first visited Wyrmhaven when the carnival was touring the towns and hamlets along the shores of the Great Sea.
Back then, her mother had told of how the houses of the seaside community were all made of the tall reeds that proliferated
for miles around in the marshy parish.

Passing the stilted homes aboard the circus cart carrying the marquee of her fortune-telling parent, Peggy had wondered how
these lattices of green stalks could keep out the winter elements that undoubtedly visited this lonely community.
Like brooding wives of whalers awaiting the return of their men, the twenty-or-so houses stood in a line looking out across the
maze of tidal creeks and grassy hummocks that wound their way towards the deep green waters.

Out there where the salt attempts to wither any encroaching foliage, the perpetually-growing reed-beds faded away and give
stunted sea-grass a chance to exist before the slow-moving waters of the Great Sea crept in to meet the solitary community
of Wyrmhaven.

The only other structure that would warrant raised-eyebrows, was the path that the young Peggy and the carnival were travelling
on. Built from an ancient oak, the boarded road slithered down from the junction where it left the yellow-bricked Calder's Way.

A traveller to Wyrmhaven would have to pass huge elm trees that emulated a gateway to the low-lying reed-beds and with careful
footing, traverse the steep bank that swooped the dried wooden path into what seemed like another world.

The carnival vehicles clumped and trundled over the aged planks, past the solid forests of dark-green strands that clashed
occasionally as a sea-breeze arrived to see who the strangers were. The little girl sitting beside Mr. Volcano stared into the
shadows of the reeds and pondered what could live in such a confined area.

"Can yer' smell 'em...?" the heavily-tattooed fire-breather murmured and tightening his grip on the reins, cast a baleful eye at
the child riding shotgun. With the aroma of man-sweat and well-chewed tobacco being her companion since she climbed aboard
the wagon, Peggy's nose failed to pick-up any other scent and so rewarded Mr. Volcano with a puzzled look.
"Woodwose, young 'un... there's Woodwose watchin' us" he warned and went back to the following the horse's ass keeping its
steady beat.

That must have been forty years ago, Peggy guessed as she reset the strap of her bag on her shoulder and prepared to leave the
village of Pony Bridge. The foul-mouthed Poltergeist that had maintained its obscenity-soaked tirade- even as it was excorised, was
merely a vague after-thought now as the little Witch crossed the bridge that gave the small community its name.

The moon was still struggling to overcome the heavy-looking clouds in the west and that made Peggy think twice in regards of her
journey to the place of her memories. Wrymhaven was twenty miles south of here and even though she enjoyed travelling at night,
a soaking of rain didn't rate highly on her list of outdoor activities.

Would it be better if she waited until tomorrow or should she set out now? The babbling stream below her spoke in a language she
hadn't quite caught yet and so its advice would have to remain unknown. Peggy sniffed her defiance and put her bare foot forward,
Wyrmhaven couldn't wait.

Ezra Cotton watched his mentor's deliberation and not being a talkative boy, waited for a decision from the Witch without comment
of his own. The youngster had enjoyed the adulation from the residents of Pony Bridge -although it was short, but his mind had kept
coming back to question of 'what now?'

Ezra had fled from a situation two years ago that is a tale unto itself and now with this small woman holding mystical qualities and
a tolerance for his quiet nature, he had stumbled upon a life that was not only exciting, but promised a future that made his spirit
race.

Could a raggedy-assed kid like him become a person of standing...? Could the boy who'd been beaten and caged by a drunken
father, look to a life of helping others with necromancy and wisdom? The fading sound from the hooves of the Postman's tired
horse gave his reflecting little confidence, but maybe the approaching bare-footed sorceress held the rejoinder.

"There's bad business in Wrymhaven..." Peggy said, pulling the lad's ruminations back into the present. "...I'm thinkin' of settin'
out now for the coast" she added and realised it was a rare instant when she had felt the need to explain herself. Ezra Cotton slid
off the smooth-stoned wall and answered by straightening his threadbare jacket.

Without another word, a four-foot-nothing woman in a pointed hat, grubby-green poncho and carrying an oversized satchel, stepped
towards where she'd first heard the news of Wrymhaven's predicament. A boy who's height promised to outsize his company followed
closely.
.......................................................

The glowing orbs danced just off the verge of Caulder's Way and always out of reach. The Witch of Underhill watched the boy's
stifled impatience to step into the damp grass and attempt to catch one of the elusive spheres of light. "Divna' be tempted by
yon spooks, young-un'..." Peggy said without looking at the shadow beside her, "...they'll have yer' swallowin' swamp before
the dawn rises".

The Giddy Flames -a name rarely used by those outside of the spell-working, bobbed and weaved through a group of willow
saplings and without fanfare, dissolved into the blackness of the night. Peggy Powler whispered something that Ezra almost
caught and he would later suspect was a salute of farewell.

The clouds that Peggy had pondered on sailed west and allowed the full moon to offer its false light on the couple walking the
lonely road. The off-yellow paving tried to reflect the faint illumination back and gave the centuries-old thoroughfare a ghostly
quality.
However, any description of Peggy and Ezra's perception of the night and Calder's Way, wouldn't put salve on the fact that
their journey was going to be a long and lonely one. It seemed that even the Will O' the wisps knew this.

They suppered whilst walking and as a faraway clock-tower chimed midnight, Ezra's pace began to slacken. Peggy didn't comment,
but waited a minute or so before she groaned and put her hand to her back. "These bones are gettin' old and frail" she grumbled
and looked for a place to sit.

It was no accident, Peggy had walked this road many times and remembered that a large tree had fallen across Calder's Way
just at a junction where the road to Kello's Bow joined the famous highway. The village of that name was a strange one -even to
the Witch's view on the world. Folk rarely visited the dilapidated place and there was chatter from the people back at Pony Bridge
that Werewolves had been seen hiding in the hedgerows at night.
Gossip bred faster than weeds in these small communities.

Absently removing her hat and tucking it into her bag, Peggy also recalled the regular maintenance surrounding villages partook
in to keep the Calder's Way clear of obstacles and sure enough, the tree now lay in the grass just off to her left. Most of its larger
branches were missing and the last Witch of Underhill smiled in the darkness at the knowledge of the firewood being part of the
payment of the tree's removal.
"Ah, a seat" Peggy sighed slightly too theatrical and dropped her backside onto the dead trunk.

The odd pair sat in the darkness and swam in their own thoughts. Ezra wondered about tomorrow and where his future lay in
regards of security. Is the path he's currently walking with this strange woman the right one...? The horrible reality of his past
had faded into a world of magic and at times, terror and yet, the feeling of kindness and care certainly trumped any of the
bitterness his previous lifestyle could offer. A small voice inside him could only offer the weak advice of 'wait-and-see'.

Peggy's contemplation was more practical, she deliberated on the faint sounds of the tinker's carriage.
A single horse and probably a two-wheeled cart, Peggy wiped her brow with the back of her hand and narrowed her eyes with
curious suspicion.

It wasn't that strange for travellers who retailed their wares in the surrounding villages to move around at night, utilising the
majority of daylight leaned heavily towards more sales and regular buyers. But this current assumption was based on the faint
clanking that accompanied the horse's stride and Peggy didn't like leaps of faith.
Coming from Kello's Bow direction didn't help the situation either.

"Ah' wonder who this bugger is?" Peggy murmured and reached for the full canteen in her satchel. A couple of gulps later, the
water was quenching Ezra's thirst as well. Yet, the boy's eyes never left the gloom ahead of them. Without another comment,
the boy's would-be tutor slid off the fallen timber and stepped back onto the hard blocks of Calder's Way..

Moving quickly, Peggy picked up a number of twigs that she guessed were the remains of the tree's ravaged foliage and
set them in a pattern at the junction. There was a wooden post that once held a gate to a long-forgotten field promptly beside
the weed-ridden road to Kello's Bow and giving the impression of idle patience, she walked over to the rotting pillar and
leaned against it.
Any passing owl may have seen the bantam sorceress deftly insert a twisted sixpence into the post's gnarled and half-eaten
surface, but any human eyes would've missed it.

"Fair travels..." a cracked voice swam for the approaching vehicle, "...Me-shoppe is always open to buyers" the man holding
the reins added. The cart creaked to a halt as the tinker and the Witch examined each other, eyes of experience will  always
browse a situation that children can never see.
"Fair travels to you Sir..." Peggy replied and bowed her bare head slightly. The tinker aped the movement and unknowingly
simulating the acknowledgement, his tired horse nodded to free-up its bridle.

He was a thin-faced man with a nose that promised dew-drops in cold weather and a glow in at a Christmas season.
Peggy saw in the stranger's eyes a long-suffering patience that had beaten down any youthful cunning he may have
carried in the past.
Selling his wares had become a way of life and not a money-making exercise. Basically speaking, he had become old.

"Joseph Marsden's the name, Ma'am and I'm aware of whom I'm in the company of" the tinker said and struck a match to
light a lantern that dangled from a pole beside him. As the glow from the beacon grew, the surrounding darkness took on
a sad grey-blue colour of deep-sighing hopelessness that light will always improve.

"It's an odd hour to be out on Calder's Way, Ma'am..." Joseph questioned and plucked the lantern from its hook.
"...I'll be travelling south and hoping to ply my wares in the morning at Maroth" he added and leaned the lamp closer to the
woman standing near a mouldy gatepost.

Coming to the conclusion that the full moon wasn't assisting a shaggy beast to steer a horse-drawn cart and that the contorted
coin jammed in the post wasn't causing any would-be Werewolf to recoil in horror, Peggy was about to move on to the idea of
using the man's cordial nature to hitch a ride.

Joseph's information seemed to be already leaning that way and with Ezra in mind, the woman in the poncho sighed and
hopefully gave the impression she was hesitant. The night watched the drama and bats chased their supper.

"Me-pupil and me are goin' to Wrymhaven, Maroth is south of there, yes?" Peggy asked and showed too-much focus on
retrieving her hat from her satchel. In the initial movements, the sixpence was gone from its setting and disappeared into
the shadows of that bag. Joseph the tinker responded in the affirmative.

Ezra Cotton stepped from the gloom and raised a hand of greeting to the stooped driver of the two-wheeled cart.
"Good evening Sir" the boy mumbled and received a nod from the tinker without any eyes moving away from the rummaging
woman beside him.

That pale ball of dust and craters that slid through the starry skies above Calder's Way watched a small magician and a small
scruffy boy climb onto a cart of pots and pans. The snort of a grumbling horse told that passing moon that Peggy Powler's
journey was back underway.
.......................................................
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#2
minusculeclap 
I'll say it again, you missed your calling.
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