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Book 5: Sun & Air / Son & Heir

By MultiMapper
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Chapter 19 - The Dazed Maze

"D? Is that you?" A naked bluish-gray man asked as he crab-walked impossibly low to the ground toward them.

"Bob? How are you doing?" D asked delightedly.

"You know how it is, not enough hours in the day." Bob said wearily.

"I know exactly what you mean." D said sincerely, then pleasantly asked, "How are the wife and kids?"

"Oh, they're fine. They're all over at her mother's, picking herbs for her and most likely trying to eat her out of house and home in the process." Bob finished with a fond chuckle.

"I'm sure that Maude is loving every minute of it." D said warmly, then continued, "Bob, you already know Mr. Sticks and I'd like to introduce my son, Paul."

"Sticks! Looking good!" Bob said pleasantly to the little stick man, then turned to D and said more slowly, "Paul? Somehow I got it in my head that your boy was named Gwayne."

"He is. Paul is my new wife's son. I've adopted him." D said as he gave Paul a brief hug from the side.

Paul wasn't sure why the naked blue-skinned man with glowing eyes didn't set off a single warning bell within him. In point of fact, Paul felt as relaxed in Bob's company as if they had been childhood friends.

"I heard that you and Em didn't work out. Everyone here was rooting for you two." Bob said sincerely.

"I know. I kept holding on to the notion that the two of us could survive anything together, regardless of the twists and turns life threw in our way. I think that might have been part of our undoing. I was completely blindsided. I wasn't able to keep the marriage going, all on my own, after she lost interest." D quietly explained.

"Well, if you've remarried and adopted a son, I guess it means that you were able to move on. Good for you. I'm glad to hear that things are working out for you." Bob said honestly.

"They are, but I've allowed my personal matters to keep me from my duties to Frakish Vallum for far too long, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and bring the boys to experience the carnival while I check in to see how everyone's doing."

"Mmm... killed birds... Did you bring any with you?" Bob asked hopefully.

"No. I didn't know I'd be running into you, so I didn't think to bring any snacks." D said repentantly.

"No. Of course not." Bob said with evident disappointment.

Paul noticed that Mr. Sticks seemed to be intently listening to the conversation. Although Paul didn't know how a person with no face could look 'interested', Mr. Sticks seemed to be hanging onto their every word.

"Have you met the new boss yet?" Bob asked curiously.

"No. I've heard that her name is Sanguine Night, but that's all I know about her." D said honestly.

"I can't say that I know that much about her myself. So far, she seems to pay most attention to the features and doesn't bother much with the background players like me." Bob said frankly.

"I would think that you'd prefer it to be that way." D said simply.

"Probably, yeah." Bob agreed, then explained, "I wouldn't want her watching me all the time and telling me my business. But it might be nice if she'd deign to speak to someone like me, just to let us know that we're appreciated for what we do."

"What do you do?" Paul asked curiously.

Before Bob could answer, D turned to his son and gently explained, "He's a freelance performer. Between shows, he'll roam around the carnival, talking to people, making sure that they're enjoying themselves and pointing them in the right direction to make the most of their experience."

"Like what I'm doing now." Bob interjected.

"Right. But up on stage, he might perform with the clowns or the acrobats. He can add a little exotic spice to just about any act to keep it from becoming stale." D said with pride for his friend's contribution.

"Thank you for saying so. That really lifts my spirits." Bob said appreciatively, then suddenly added, "I need to be going. This is one of the few times when my participation in something has actually been planned in advance."

"Really? What do you have going on, if I may ask?" D asked with interest.

"The fairy dance troop are going to have a big formal medieval dance recital, and we decided that at just about the point where most of the attendees start losing interest, I'll creep in there and they'll switch to the Jitterbug." Bob said happily.

"That sounds like a lot of fun. Let me see what my boys feel like doing. We might decide to attend." D said seriously.

"That'd be great! I hope to see you there!" Bob said happily, then hurried to add, "It was nice to meet you Paul. I hope you have a good time while you're here. Mr. Sticks, a pleasure as always. I've got to go!"

Before Paul could respond, Bob skittered away at a surprising rate of speed.

After a moment to consider, Paul quietly said, "He seemed nice."

"Most of the people here are, as long as you're willing to overlook a few idiosyncrasies." D said frankly.

"Like what?" Paul asked curiously.

"Different things for different people. In Bob's case, physical attributes aside, you just have to accept that he's open to eating just about anything, even things not usually thought of as food." D said diplomatically.

"Living things?" Paul guessed.

"I get the sense that Bob doesn't make much of a distinction when it comes to that." D said honestly.

"But weren't you saying that accepting people despite their idiosyncrasies is what caused your marriage not to work out?" Paul asked curiously.

"Nothing is ever that simple, but I admit that it played a part. Being willing to overlook perceived character flaws can open doors and bridge divides between people and is generally looked upon as a virtue. But, at the same time, ignoring blatant warning signs and deluding oneself with wishful thinking, despite all reason, has consequences."

"Do you think we should go in after the guys?" Paul asked cautiously.

"No. The hall of mirrors is a maze. It takes some time to get through it whether the mirrors are playing with you or not."

"I wonder how Agent Roberts would do in a place like this, considering how Obby is."

"I've already invited Shawn back to visit one of these days. If he decides to take us up on it, it might be interesting to find out."

* * * * *

"Hey! Where did you go? I can't see you." G suddenly called out.

"You sound like you're right next to me, but I can't see you either. I can't see either one of you... I can't even see myself. I wouldn't think that was even possible in a hall of mirrors." Lex said frankly.

"Lucky? Are you alright?" G asked cautiously.

"Yeah. I've got Zah Zah with me, so I'm safe. I just got turned around. I don't know which way to go." Lucky said seriously.

"Give me a second to work on that. There's an illusion at work here, I just have to figure out how it's deceiving us so I'll know how to outmaneuver it."

"I think it's something in the reflections." Lex said slowly.

"Hall of mirrors." G reminded him, then thought to add, "Duh."

"I was just saying that the magic isn't directed at us, it's a spell targeting the shared reality within the reflections." Lex said frankly.

"Right. They're either frozen or they're out of sync with the real world." G said seriously.

"I just saw my doppelganger again and I think she might have been moving backwards." Lex said carefully.

"Paul's a lot better at seeing through things like this. But I can handle it. I think this comes with being the alpha. Sometimes I have to step up." G said as his clown features came in fully.

"Lucky, you might want to hold on to Zah Zah and keep her close. I have a feeling that if G lets loose, this could get intense." Lex said as he took Zephyr off his shoulder and clutched him to his chest.

"You'd think that the forces running a hall of mirrors would know better. You never try to out-crazy a clown." G said as he slowly raised his arms with obvious effort.

As he did so, every mirror in the hall of mirrors began playing abrupt meaningless flashes of the thousands of beings who had passed by them.

Some of the scenes were of private moments, some were violent, and some were obvious dreams that had been magically recreated to trick or trap the guests.

"If you attack a clown, you'd best take him down. Otherwise, you'll pay the price." G said as he suddenly lowered his arms.

As he did so, every mirror in the place suddenly went still and silent, becoming nothing more than blank panes of glass.

After a long silent moment, Lucky took a tentative step in the dimly lit maze before cautiously asking, "You did more than kill the mirrors, didn't you?"

"A little. I also sorted out the perception of reality within these walls, basic sorcery stuff." G said frankly, then thought to add, "We can just follow the light and it should take us to the exit, if you're ready to go."

"So you broke their ride?" Lucky asked with concern as he took another step to examine the result of G's action.

"If I let them get away with attacking me, I would have been letting down all clowns everywhere."

"Since my doppelganger knew that you were a clown, there was no excuse for them to keep going. They could have let you finish the ride without trying to trap you and no one would have had a problem." Lex said in support of his look-alike.

"But you're here just this once. If you leave them with all their mirrors broken you've stopped them from doing wrong, but you've also stopped them from being able to do right. This isn't teaching them a lesson, it's destroying them." Lucky implored them to understand as he clutched Zah Zah firmly to his chest.

Lex almost felt sympathy for the nightmare cat creature, being held so tightly... strangled, really.

"That was a full-out sorcery that I just did. The flow of magic was kind of like pouring water out of a pitcher onto a table. It's a lot easier to pour it out than it is to put it back." G said frankly.

"To fix it, they're probably going to have to unbind the reality of this space, then go through this entire place and reroot each mirror, one at a time." Lex said quietly.

"I don't want this place to go away just because they were being stupid for a minute. Even if I wasn't good at it, the mirrors and mazes were still fun." Lucky said seriously.

"I get what you're saying, but what's done is done. It's really out of our hands now." G said frankly.

"If we can't undo what you did, maybe we can do something else. I just wish there was some way that we could make it so people could still enjoy this place and have fun here." Lucky said seriously.

"Whoa. What the hell was that?" Lex asked as he looked around suddenly and instinctively fought for balance, even though the building hadn't physically shaken.

"That was a swell of magic. But I don't think it was sorcery. It felt bigger... older." G cautiously answered somewhat breathlessly as he carefully surveyed his surroundings.

"I think I did something." Lucky said in a slow, trembling voice.

"You're too old to have wishcraft. But if I didn't know better, I'd say that's what just happened here." Lex said frankly.

"If it is wishcraft, they should have caught it before he was allowed to start school. Witches who can't control their magic even that much can't be allowed out into the world." G said slowly, then turned suddenly as he saw someone silently walk past them, out of the corner of his eye.

"We've already figured out that his old school sucked. So I have no problem believing that they didn't detect it." Lex said honestly, then fell silent as a low, not-too-distant voice caught his attention.

"It still doesn't add up. If he was prone to wishcraft it would have leaked out sometime before this. Whatever just happened has to be something else. Maybe it's some kind of enchantment on this area of space that's too deep for me to detect." G said speculatively, then jerked around as he saw a movement in one of the empty mirrors near him.

Before he could investigate, the panes of glass began showing people walking, taking no notice of them. It looked for all the world like they were just walking normally, going about their day, on the other side of the glass.

"That's weird. All of a sudden it seems really crowded in here." Lex said anxiously.

"Yeah, but this is something going on inside the individual mirrors. I'm not detecting any illusion being cast on us or even on the space around us." G said carefully.

A barely perceptible murmur began to swell as the people seemed to be moving faster and crowding in more tightly.

"Lucky? I lost you again. Where'd you go?" Lex asked loudly, as he moved toward Lucky's last known location.

"I don't know, but I'm okay. Zah Zah says that she can show me how to get out. We can't stay in here, it's getting too loud and too crazy. We'll meet you outside." Lucky screamed from somewhere nearby.

"Go ahead and we'll meet you out there." Lex confirmed, then called to his other side, "G? Did you get that?"

"Yeah. Mah Zah says that she can lead me out of here if you'll be okay on your own." G responded loudly to be heard over the clamor of voices all around them. G instinctively tucked his arms in close to avoid the perceived crowd.

"Go on. We'll catch up." Lex said seriously, then looked down and told the little horse monster in his arms, "If you can find a chunk of Lapis Lazuli, I know you'll be able to find the exit door."

A singular nod was Zephyr's response as he wriggled around enough to get loose from Lex's grasp.

As soon as Zephyr was standing on his own, he turned and flared his eyes red for a brief moment before leading the way out.

* * * * *

"That was a hall of mirrors, wasn't it? You guys look like you've just been on a roller coaster." Paul said with concern as he watched Lucky, Lex, and G stumbling out of the hall of mirrors, seeming to be out of breath.

"It wasn't that scary to begin with, it was actually kinda lame. But I think Lucky just 'wished' it up to about eleven on the anxiety scale." Lex said frankly.

"If you want a way to get your nerves rattled, you could do a lot worse." G nervously chuckled.

"Hold on. Go back to the part about Lucky. Is everything alright?" D asked with concern.

"I kinda wished for something and then what I wished for happened without me having to think about what it was or cast a spell to make it happen or anything." Lucky carefully explained.

"But he's too old for wishcraft." G interjected.

"If you made a wish inside the hall of mirrors, it might seem to have been granted by way of an illusion. That's how things here typically work." D cautioned him to understand.

"No." G stated emphatically, then explained, "I'm not saying that they didn't use magic, but whatever they did wasn't illusion or any other form of sorcery. I'd know if it was."

"I'm still not convinced that it's not some kind of wishcraft." Lex said thoughtfully.

"What makes you think that?" D asked curiously.

"I don't have anything solid. But I think that if we take a minute to look back at things with wishcraft in mind, we might be able to come up with some kind of a pattern that we didn't notice while it was happening." Lex said reasonably.

"Lucky? Can you remember any wishes that you've made recently?" G asked cautiously.

"No. Not really." Lucky said uncertainly.

"What about before Zah Zah could think for herself? Did you ever wish that she could be alive or intelligent or anything like that?" Paul asked cautiously.

"Well, yeah. I guess. I mean, I always wished that." Lucky reluctantly admitted.

"Okay. That doesn't prove anything, but let's keep that in mind." Paul announced to the group.

"What about me? Did you ever wish that I was alive?" Lex reluctantly asked.

"Yeah." Lucky said hesitantly.

"Yeah? That's it?" Lex asked disbelievingly.

"Yeah. When I saw you after G finished making you, I kinda wished that..." Lucky trailed off shyly.

"What did you wish, Lucky? Tell us as much as you can remember." Paul said gently, recognizing the boy's vulnerable state.

"Since Lex was new and didn't know anyone yet, I wished that he could get to know me and that we could somehow be friends." Lucky finally admitted.

"Was that before or after the train ride and the picnic?" Lex asked curiously.

"Both." Lucky answered, then added, "I wished it before, but after me and Mom and Star went back home, I wished it again... and that I could come back here and live with you... all of you."

"It still doesn't prove anything. It could just be coincidence." G said cautiously.

"Yeah. And everything else in the world that ever happens could be coincidence too, without any of it being related to each other at all." Paul said frankly.

"Save it for the train." D interrupted, to forestall any further exploration of that conversation thread, then calmly said, "Right now our objective is to assess our situation so that we can decide what we're going to do in the short term. We can consider longer term matters when we're more able to relax and take our time."

"Lucky's wishes come true. That's our situation." G said simply.

"I think we can dive a little deeper into it than that." D said with a smile.

"He's a child of the sun." Lex offered weakly.

"Which means..." D prompted.

"We haven't really figured that part out yet." Lex reluctantly admitted.

"Tell us what you've discovered so far. Maybe if we put our heads together, it'll start to make sense."

"There's not much to tell." Lex cautioned.

"Good. Then we'll get back to enjoying the carnival that much sooner." D said simply.

"Okay, from what Doctor Williams said, the mimic thing and the nonstandard magic thing are both part of it." Lex said carefully.

"I figured." Paul said simply.

"Okay, I also found this ancient story... I think you could literally call it a 'Fairy Tale'. It said that 'The Children of the Sun' moved in on some fairies and ended up taking over their entire realm."

"If there's a whole realm of Children of the Sun somewhere, we should have heard about them before now." D said speculatively.

"No. Only the first generation invaders were called Children of the Sun. Their children were witches." Lex explained.

"So, what you're saying is that the offspring of two Children of the Sun is a witch?" D asked curiously.

"No. Um, I think the way it works is that the offspring of a Child of the Sun and a fairy ends up being a witch... somehow." Lex finished weakly.

"So the Children of the Sun showed up, intermarried with the locals and eventually ended up taking over the entire realm?" D asked speculatively.

"That's the story that they told." Lex said noncommittally.

"Who is 'they'?" Paul asked curiously.

After a long, puzzled moment, Lex cautiously asked, "What do you mean?"

"If the fairies were all driven out of their home, who wrote the story? The witch descendants, or the fairies who were driven out?" Paul asked carefully.

"I don't know. I guess it could be either one, passing their history down to their descendants." Lex said uncertainly.

"It doesn't matter. Did anything in your fairy tale have anything to do with 'The Children of the Sun' and wish fulfillment?" D asked seriously.

"No. At least not in the part that I read. I didn't get to finish it." Lex said weakly.

"Did Doctor Williams have anything else to say about it?" Paul slowly asked.

"He just told us that it was an actual thing. He could see it or something, in his magnifying glass prism thing." Lex said uncertainly.

"But he didn't seem worried about it?" D asked cautiously.

"No. He seemed surprised. He even asked Doctor Coker to double-check him to see that he was reading it right. But he didn't act like it was dangerous or any big deal, just kinda rare." Lex confirmed.

"Doctor Williams said that when I get older that I'll probably find a problem that no one else can solve and I'll use my special kind of magic to become the solution." Lucky eagerly added.

After a long quiet moment, Lex cautiously said, "He did say that."

"So what Lucky did just now, was that like a practice run for what he's going to be doing later on?" G asked the group speculatively.

"Perhaps." D slowly answered, then continued, "It could also be an attribute of who and what he is. This trait might be what makes him something other than a witch."

"I thought it was like another kind of witch." Paul said honestly.

"I don't know if there's a definitive answer for that, but if not 'something other', then certainly 'something more'." D said frankly.

"So have we figured out enough to know what we're doing next?" G asked curiously.

"Before I answer, do you think the people in the hall of mirrors are going to have just cause to be angry with whatever was done in there?" D asked cautiously.

"That's hard to say." G answered honestly.

Lex nodded and continued for him, "If anyone had too big a problem with it, they probably would have been out here raising hell with us about it by now."

"Unless they're too scared of us." Lucky quietly added.

"That'd work too." G said simply.

At Paul's surprised look, G explained, "Clown, carnival, do the math. I have to be seen as strong here, the same as you would if we were in a demon realm."

"Oh? I didn't get that before." Paul said with surprise, then continued, "If that's how it is, then you should probably 'Clown Out' now so that no one will have any doubt if you're for real or not. Otherwise they might think you're just some poser playing dress-up."

"I kept telling myself that it didn't matter and that I didn't have anything to prove. But I have a feeling that, for as long as I'm here, this is how it has to be. If you want to be counted among the clowns, you have to be a clown." G said as not only did his facial features become wildly exaggerated, but his clothing seemed to change in a similar manner.

"So, do you have this clown guy living inside you all the time, just waiting to come out?" Lucky asked curiously.

"I don't know how it all works. But I don't think there's a clown hiding inside me as much as the clown represents a part of my nature that I can bring forward to deal with certain situations. You become a Pegasus, I become a clown."

"But there are other clowns who can't choose." Paul said speculatively.

"Maybe non-witch clowns don't have the same choice... Or maybe they've already chosen." G suggested, then qualified, "Like I said, I don't know how it all works."

"Well, that's as good an explanation of it as any I've heard." D said frankly.

"So, are we ready to get back to the carnival now?" Paul cautiously asked.

"I think that depends on these three. What do you say, boys?"

"What do we say about what?" G asked, now completely outfitted in clown regalia from head to toe.

"Are you comfortable leaving the situation with the hall of mirrors as it is?" D asked seriously.

"If the guys want to do something about it, I'll support them. But as far as I'm concerned, everything is settled." G said frankly.

"I'm good." Lex immediately chimed in.

"I already made things be the way I think they should be. If they've got a problem with it, they can come and talk to us about it." Lucky said sincerely.

"Then I suppose that we can..." D said before noticing someone waiting to gain his attention.

In that moment, the boys turned as one to follow D's curious gaze.

"Prince Maltese, what can I do for you this evening?" D asked pleasantly.

The clown seemed to be unusually quiet without his frenetic juggling.

"Miss Night wishes to meet with you. I can take you to her whenever you are ready." The clown said slowly as more and more of his attention seemed to be focused on G.

"We seem to be between crises at the moment. I suppose now would be as good a time as any." D said frankly.

"Excuse me for asking, but am I to understand that one of your children is actually a clown?" The Prince, Maltese, asked uncertainly.

"Yes. We've always assumed that he got that from his mother's side of the family." D said frankly.

"You obviously accept your son as he is, that's not always the case. You have my respect, good sir." the Prince, Maltese, said formally.

D expected them to start walking once the clown had his answers, but the Prince, Maltese, seemed to be frozen, staring at G.

"Was there something more?" D asked hesitantly.

"Yes. I'm sorry, but I'm curious to know, where does the spider doll fit into your overall aesthetic?" The clown asked G curiously.

"Mah Zah's not a doll." G said as the enormous spider on his shoulder reared back and exposed her rather formidable jaws, which looked very much like fangs. The hiss Mah Zah emitted sent a chill up each and every spine present.

The Prince, Maltese, stepped back as he hurriedly said, "No disrespect. I was simply curious to know what theme you were attempting to project. The rest of your outfit is whimsical yet your... pet gives off a more... macabre vibe."

"She's not a pet, she's a demonic wizard who has chosen to travel with me. She just looks like a spider because it pleases her to do so." G said seriously, then continued, "As for me... I understand what you were asking and that you meant no insult. Maybe I should do something to coordinate our styles. How's this?"

As G said the words, he made a sweeping gesture and all the color seemed to drain out of his floppy whimsical clothes. Then they seemed to alter their shape to mimic the appearance of a one-piece suit. The light glimmered off the finest threads of silver throughout which could barely be seen, appearing to wrap around him in a spiderweb pattern moving up his body.

The other significant change in appearance was to G's hair. While it remained the same 'dark chocolate' color that it had always been, the style significantly changed to closely resemble Mah Zah's spiky spider fur.

"We're going to have to come here more often. I like what it does to you." Paul said with a slight smile and a leer in G's direction.

G responded with a quick smile back at him.

"Now that we have G sorted out, maybe we should go pay our respects to Ms. Night." D said seriously.

"She seemed to be pleased to hear that you're visiting. She's done well, taking the carnival in a productive direction." The Prince, Maltese, said as he started leading the way.

"How so?" D asked curiously.

"Mr. Never seemed to focus a lot of attention on attracting the right element to the carnival so that he could recruit from the best of the best. It appears that Miss Night would rather have something for everyone and sort through the masses in hopes of finding suitable candidates." The Prince, Maltese, said frankly.

"Candidates for what?" Lex asked curiously.

"To join us."

"This could be an amazing opportunity for the right person. They could have an opportunity to do something that they enjoy, essentially forever." D said seriously.

"Are you saying that the people here don't age?" Paul asked cautiously.

"That's right. And you'll never die of natural causes here, either." D confirmed.

"But if the realm doesn't like you, then you become their food." G said darkly.

"There is an element of risk." D conceded.

"This is Miss Night's office. I will introduce you, then I'll return to my duties at the main gate. I can't wait to tell the other clowns about you. The story of the clown with a wizard spider on his shoulder might inspire them to step up their game a little." The Prince, Maltese, said with obvious admiration.

"You might also want to mention that I'm a 'sorcerer'." G said as he raised his hands and the world around them seemed to vanish.

"I've heard that every type of people, from fairies to ogres, have clowns, but while I know that clowns with magical heritage aren't uncommon, I don't think I've ever heard of a master of high-magic, like sorcery, being a clown before." The Prince, Maltese, said honestly.

"Then know me. This is what I see when I dream." G said as the emptiness surrounding them began to fill in with different images, many of which seemed familiar to Paul.

Lucky was amazed by the carnival posters from G's room, migrated into the 3rd dimension and brought to life. The deep dark red and gold were only revealed by flickering firelight.

Paul winced at a particularly loud blaring calliope playing nearby as various grotesqueries were ambling around them, going about their business.

"This part of you isn't part of me. My memory of this part of your life is faded and distant." Lex said uneasily.

"G, what are you doing?" D asked with evident concern.

"Just showing a fellow clown what I'm capable of. If there's ever a time when the clowns are called into action, there won't be any question about what I'm bringing to the table." G said seriously.

"Not to mention your wizard spider." The Prince, Maltese added with a smile at Mah Zah.

"I don't command Mah Zah. She fights her own battles for her own reasons." G said firmly.

"Even so, I will be delighted to explain to our brothers and sisters what you bring to us." The Prince, Maltese, said sincerely.

G lowered his hands and the illusion surrounding them fell away, revealing the carnival, just as it had been when they stopped walking.

The Prince, Maltese, stepped forward and gently knocked on the wooden door of what appeared to have once been the carriage from a horse drawn cart.

"Come." An alto feminine voice called.

* * * * *

"Miss Sanguine Night, it's my honor and pleasure to introduce D, the keeper of the second gate and his children, Paul, Lex, Lucky, and the dark-sorcerer clown, G." The Prince, Maltese, said reverently.

"A more intriguing introduction than I was expecting. Please, come in and be comfortable. We appear to have a few minutes before our next guests arrive." Miss Night said as she stood from behind her desk.

The one piece of furniture that dominated the room beyond all others was the large hourglass beside her desk.

All of them noticed that the sand in it was only minutes away from completely running out.

"I don't have any real business to discuss. I just wanted to introduce myself and offer my assurance that I will be available, if there is any assistance I can provide in my capacity as keeper of the second gate." D said professionally.

"To be honest, I haven't had cause to even consider your realm or your gate since assuming my duties. Recently we detected a disturbance in the continuum that might have occurred near or within your realm, but everything seems to have resolved itself since." Miss Night said seriously.

"That most likely has to do with a project the boys were working on this past week. If that's the case, there shouldn't be any further disruption." D finished with a smile at the boys.

"Would you like to go outside to witness the arrival? It's nearly that time and it really is quite a spectacle." Miss Night asked pleasantly.

"Yes. I think the boys would not only enjoy witnessing the grand event itself, but also appreciate the artistry of such an ancient manipulation." D said with a smile.

"Few get to witness the arrival of the autumn carnival when it blows into town, but to see it from the inside is a rarity to the extreme." Miss Night said as she walked past her guests to lead the way out of her office.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Each new chapter brings us new challenges and insights into the world we find here.

I am not just talking about the carnival, but about everyone we have met and come to know and care about.

I find this to be true of each and every one of MM's stories.

It's as if we have met and become friends with almost everyone.

As always, I can hardly wait for the next installment of this wonderful tale.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher