Parvenu: [6] The Chronicles of Grief

Chapter 2 - Of Clownsmanship

Grief and Whisper watched in amazement as the carnival began to warp and skew all around them. Buildings changed size and shape, and at times, even building materials.

The people surrounding them were no less mutable, becoming taller, shorter, or even completely different species.

"The people here aren't witches?" Grief asked disbelievingly as he tried to look at everything at once.

"Some are, but witches aren't the only type of people that exist. Most people appeared to be more-or-less human since we were visiting a human-type realm." Tyne patiently explained.

"Is that something that the carnival does for you, or do you have to do it for yourself?" Grief asked curiously.

"The carnival does it, mostly. Some people don't feel comfortable giving up control of themselves and will either do the enchantment on their own or ward themselves so that they won't change." Nola carefully explained.

"Of course, there are some realms where you have to breathe water or be lighter than air. People who refuse to allow the enchantment to ease their way can cause an awful lot of trouble for the rest of us." Tyne said darkly, then added under her breath, "I still haven't gotten that stain out of my favorite cushion."

"Let it go, dear." Nola quietly suggested.

"It looks like everything has finished changing. What do we do next?" Grief asked as he looked around excitedly.

"My, aren't you the impatient one?" Tyne chuckled, then continued, "I suppose that since you've had a few days to find your footing, it's time to officially start you on your journey. You two, come with me and we'll find the leader of the clowns so that you can get started."

"I'll go with you." Nola said as she straightened her shawl.

Tyne smiled at the development, then led the way toward the 'big top' central tent.

* * * * *

Once inside, Tyne led them past some bleachers to a smaller partitioned area, away from public view.

"Hello? Shin Shin? Are you back there?" Tyne asked uncertainly.

"You're the fortune teller, you would know better than I." A clown responded as he stepped from behind a sheet of canvas.

Grief was surprised to find that the clown wasn't human-looking and could barely be counted as humanoid. He was nearly the same height as Grief and had little stumpy arms and legs. Grief couldn't decide if he were more fish, amphibian, or mammal, seeming to have attributes of all three. The clothes that Shin Shin wore were flamboyantly colored but didn't appear to be made for him or for any creature like him. They were ill-fitting to say the least. However, most curiously of all, Shin Shin appeared to have a yellow flower growing on top of his head.

"Shin Shin, I'd like for you to meet Grief and Whisper. They joined our ranks in Zatinga and might benefit from some of your expert instruction." Tyne said seriously.

"I've seen them around, then I noticed them marching with us, counted among the ranks of full-fledged clowns. This is some of your witchery, isn't it? You changed them into clowns by way of magic." Shin Shin said as he stepped forward and looked the children over.

"Not my witchery, but yes. They were magically changed. Local authorities were snooping around, and it seemed the most expedient solution to several problems at once."

"The mantle of clowndom should be earned, not bestowed. It cheapens all our hard work." Shin Shin said firmly.

"Stuff and nonsense!" Nola blurted out.

"We live in a world awash with magic. If you refuse to help these children, then I don't know what kind of a clown you really are. What does it even mean to be a clown?" Tyne blustered.

"How they were made doesn't make a bit of difference. There's no place for such puritanical nonsense in this day and age." Nola added passionately.

"Hold on! I stepped on someone's tail, didn't I?" Shin Shin chuckled, then continued more reasonably, "I never said that I wouldn't teach them, only that I believe that real clowns earn the title over time with hard work and dedication to the craft."

"If you really believe those are valuable lessons for them to learn, then teach them." Tyne said firmly.

"Me? No. All they would learn from me is how to say and do the wrong things no matter what situation they're in."

Nola looked askance at him, but didn't bother to dispute his words.

Shin Shin took a few steps to the flap of the tent, then leaned out and loudly called, "Bippy, Daffy, don't start celebrating just yet. I've got a job for you!"

"If you want to talk to us, come out here! They're ♫ about ♬ to put ♫ the food ♬ out." A high squeaky voice responded in a taunting cadence.

"I get no respect." Shin Shin grumbled, then motioned for the others to follow him into the big top.

* * * * *

In the short time that they had been in the changing area between the flaps of the tent, a feast was in the process of being laid out in the form of a massive buffet.

"Everyone will be filing through here shortly, so now would be a good time to get you set up with your trainers." Shin Shin explained professionally.

"You wanted something?" A morbidly obese clown asked in a high pitched giggle as he bounced and jiggled his way to the group. It was difficult to tell if he was gasping for breath or slightly giggling as he waited for a reply.

He was followed by a white-faced girl, thin as a rail, with a single black diamond, almost looking like a teardrop, painted on her cheek, drawing attention away from her complete lack of expression.

"Bippy, this is Grief. He needs someone to show him the ropes. You up to it?" Shin Shin asked challengingly.

"Do I have to stay in character while I do it?" Bippy asked in a grossly exaggerated squeaky voice, interlaced with spasmodic giggles.

"No. That's another thing you can teach him, when to clown around and when to be serious." Shin Shin said frankly.

"Good." Bippy said in a very unremarkable, very relieved voice.

"Go ahead. I'll be checking in on you." Shin Shin said seriously.

"Grief, the first thing I'm going to teach you is just what 'all you can eat' really means." Bippy said with a ravenous grin, then took off toward the first table at a surprising rate of speed for someone so big.

"You'd better go on, if you want to get something to eat."

Grief spared Shin Shin an exasperated look before hurrying to follow.

"Whisper, I believe that it would be a good idea to team you with Daffodil, also known as Daffy!" Shin Shin announced triumphantly.

Whisper looked at the young woman with an appraising eye and came to the conclusion that, as clowns go, she wasn't the most objectionable one she'd ever seen.

The young woman turned to face Whisper, then very elegantly and precisely bowed to express respect.

Whisper smiled and was impressed by the dignified gesture, at least she was until she realized just what it was that she was actually seeing.

"She doesn't talk?" Whisper asked cautiously.

"No. She's a mime. They often don't." Shin Shin said, as though it were obvious.

"How am I supposed to learn anything from a teacher who doesn't talk?" Whisper asked belligerently.

"I doubt that it will make much difference; most kids don't listen anyway." Shin Shin said dismissively.

"Just give it a try. If it doesn't work out, we'll try something else for you." Tyne said encouragingly.

Daffy gave a quick general nod of courtesy to the group, then walked away at a casual pace.

Whisper gave all the adults a sweeping glare of disdain to express her opinion of recent developments.

"Have fun, dear." Tyne said with a chuckle after her.

* * * * *

"What am I supposed to be learning except not to get near your mouth while you're eating?" Grief asked slowly, revolted by the way Bippy was devouring mounds of food, barely stopping long enough to take a breath.

"I don't know. Be funny. Make a joke. Just look at me, there's plenty to make fun of. Go ahead and let 'er rip." Bippy said without concern, then went back to his food and appeared to be eating even faster, trying to make up for the lost seconds when he had been speaking.

"But it's not funny. It's sad." Grief said frankly.

"Yep. That's the basis of comedy, kid. The stuff that's too sad or disgusting to face head on, you make jokes about to acknowledge it, so you can get past it." Bippy said frankly.

"So the exaggerated way clowns dress is to make fun of poverty, as a way to address it without actually addressing it?" Grief slowly asked as he struggled to understand.

"Sometimes, yes. Just like a red nose and bumbling around can be meant to satirize chronic alcoholism and slapstick comedy can simulate abuse. Some costumes can represent physical disorders, and sometimes we might just make fun of someone's unfortunate choices. Look around and you'll see the horrors of the world on display for you to laugh at and disempower."

"But I'd feel wrong if I made fun of someone like Shin Shin for being... whatever it is that he is."

"He's a Siyokoy. And you're right. You don't need to make a joke about everyone and everything that you encounter. That gets annoying really fast. But a well crafted joke is often appreciated by just about everyone, sometimes even the butt of it."

"So, if I get what you're saying, then it'd probably be okay if I made a joke about the way you eat?" Grief said uncertainly.

"Yeah. If it's funny, that is. Otherwise you'll just come off as being mean." Bippy said frankly.

"How can you even eat that much?" Grief asked in equal parts amazement and horror.

"I'm Lorkian, I have three stomachs." Bippy answered simply.

Grief considered for a brief moment, then cautiously asked, "Just the three, huh?"

Bippy loosed a good hearty laugh before saying, "Don't worry my young friend. You're going to do fine here."

* * * * *

"How does this day find you, young Grief?" Mr. Never asked as he approached.

"I don't know. I was fine until Shin Shin made Bippy my mentor. Ever since then I've been trying to learn stuff from him without getting too close to his mouth." Grief said frankly.

"Yes. Very good. It sounds like you're learning some valuable life lessons already. Pay heed, they will serve you well, far into the future." Mr. Never said sagely.

"I get the feeling that you're looking at this a lot more philosophically than I am." Grief said frankly.

"I tend to do that." Mr. Never easily admitted, then thought to add, "But somehow it usually ends up working out."

A movement drew Grief's eye and he noticed a rock creature, a Rangle, near his own height, half hiding behind Mr. Never.

Following Grief's curious gaze, Mr. Never said, "Grief, I'd like for you to meet Jean Pierre."

"Hi. Nice to meet you." Grief said quietly, as he was reminded of Venn and Hostof.

"It's nice to meet you too." Jean Pierre muttered uncomfortably.

"Jean Pierre has been with the carnival for a short time and hasn't quite found his niche yet. Would you mind if he tagged along with you for a bit, until he can discover the place where he belongs?" Mr. Never asked hopefully.

"So far all I've done is watch Bippy eat, but I don't mind if he helps me. It might be good to have a second person nearby to act as a lifeguard." Grief said as he watched Bippy ravenously devouring mounds of food, apparently oblivious to the conversation going on right beside him.

"Right then. Let me know if you come to any decisions." Mr. Never said to Jean Pierre, then glanced at Grief and added, "Either of you."

"I will. Thank you." Jean Pierre timidly responded.

Grief nodded his agreement with his companion's sentiment.

Mr. Never got a conspiratorial look, then leaned in to quietly say, "I wouldn't expect Bippy to be finished anytime soon. You two might want to avail yourselves of the opportunity to mingle and meet some other people, then come back when Bippy's stomachs are full... or when we've run out of food... whichever comes first."

Before either could respond, Mr. Never hurried away to attend to other business.

* * * * *

A glance at Bippy was all it took to confirm that what Mr. Never had said was probably true.

"Would you like to get something to eat?" Jean Pierre asked cautiously, apparently not sure if Grief was actually interested in spending time with him.

"Not really. After watching Bippy... I might need a few minutes." Grief said honestly.

Jean Pierre easily nodded his understanding.

"Do they have any food here that you can eat?" Grief thought to ask.

"Yes. All of it. The magic of the carnival makes it so that I don't have to worry about that. It's funny, but I never realized just how much of an inconvenience it was to have such a limited diet." Jean Pierre said honestly.

"When my sister and I stayed with our parent's friends we always had to be careful about what we could eat. I mean, our food wouldn't hurt them if they accidently took a bite or two of it but theirs could really hurt us." Grief said frankly.

"As long as you didn't break a tooth, a little bit shouldn't bother you too much. It would pass in time." Jean Pierre said speculatively.

"Um, no. Thank you. If it's all the same to you, I'd rather not find out what that's like." Grief said grimly.

A strange, uncertain look crossed Jean Pierre's face before he quietly said, "I haven't seen her here before. She might be new."

Grief followed Jean Pierre's gaze and recognized the blond girl who was wearing a long flowing dress, apparently made entirely of baby dolls.

"I think her name is Lydia." Grief finally said.

"So she's from your realm?"

"Yeah. I've seen her around enough to know her name, but that's about it." Grief said uncertainly.

"So, do you want to talk to her?" Jean Pierre asked cautiously.

"Yes, I'd like to, just to let her know that she's not alone in all of this." Grief said tentatively.

Jean Pierre took the response to heart and started walking toward the teenage girl.

* * * * *

"Lydia? Is that right?" Grief asked as he approached.

Much to his surprise, several of the baby dolls that made up her gown began making crying and fussing sounds, even though the sounds were only a rough estimation of those of true living babies.

"Hush. Quiet down now. Everything's fine." Lydia gently crooned as she soothed various dolls sewn into her dress.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to bother you." Grief said cautiously.

"It's fine. They startle easily." Lydia softly explained, then quietly asked, "Did you need something?"

Jean Pierre and Grief watched as Lydia continued soothing various dolls and quieted them.

"The way I see it, this place sometimes works kinda like a trap. I just wanted to check in with you to be sure that you don't need help." Grief said honestly.

"I see what you mean about it being a trap, but in my case, I simply made a choice. Maybe someday I'll regret my decision, but right now I feel like I'm exactly where I need to be." Lydia finished with a smile.

"What's with the dolls?" Jean Pierre asked curiously.

Several dolls began to fuss and whimper at the tone of his voice and a few actually growled at him. Grief was surprised to see that the dolls appeared to be moving independently... or perhaps in unison. It suddenly occurred to him that perhaps the doll clothes weren't the only things sewn together. Despite his curiosity, he really didn't want to confirm his suspicion.

"Their special ones left them behind and now they need someone to care for them. I said that I would." Lydia said in a soothing voice as she once again attempted to lull the agitated dolls into a tranquil state.

"But those aren't normal dolls. Are they enchanted?" Grief asked cautiously.

"I suppose that some are. It's really hard to say. Dolls that are brand new have never been loved. Those are empty. These dolls have been filled, not just with love, but also with other passions... often to overflowing." Lydia explained, then suddenly said more urgently, "You two had better leave. I can't keep them calm for very long."

"They're not dangerous, are they?" Grief asked as he slowly backed away.

"If one of them took an interest in you, there's nothing that you or I could do to stop them. They would destroy you, slowly... over a period of years." Lydia said frankly.

"Come and find us if there's anything we can do to help." Grief said as he backed away even further.

"I'm right where I'm supposed to be. They need me." Lydia said contentedly as she petted and soothed the mass of writhing dolls engulfing her.

"What about what you need?" Grief asked cautiously.

"That doesn't matter... it never has."

* * * * *

"If you're up to it, we could stop by and check on Mr. Hammerman too. He's right over there and he's the only other person I've seen so far that we picked up in my realm." Grief explained as they walked away from Lydia and her dolls.

"If he's anything like the girl, we might not want to get too close right at first." Jean Pierre suggested.

"Good thinking." Grief agreed as they reached the table of food where the muscle-bound man was considering his choices.

"Mr. Hammerman?" Grief asked cautiously.

"What do you want?!" Mr. Hammerman snapped, radiating aggression. Grief was surprised because the few times that he had encountered Mr. Hammerman in town, the man had always appeared to be the gentlest of souls.

"I was just checking to see that you're doing okay." Grief said timidly, then screwed up his resolve and continued more confidently, "I just wanted to see if you're happy with the way things turned out for you."

"Happy! Yeah! That's exactly what I am! I am the biggest, I am the strongest, and I am the best! I'm nothing but happy!" Mr. Hammerman passionately declared.

"Um, good to know." Grief said as he involuntarily took a step back from the man's sharp voice and intense demeanor.

"Remember that if you need someone to talk with, we're both new here, too." Jean Pierre quietly offered.

"I've got everything a man could need!" Mr. Hammerman declared confidently.

"Um, yeah." Grief said before walking away.

"Is there anyone else that you'd like to check on?" Jean Pierre asked curiously as he fell into step at Grief's side.

"That's everyone that I noticed from my realm. But considering how it went with those two, I'd probably think twice before talking to anyone else anyway." Grief said honestly.

"I don't know how it all works, but considering how people tend to be, maybe it takes some time before they really grasp their situation. It might take a while before they realize that they have regrets." Jean Pierre said frankly.

"Do you have regrets?" Grief cautiously asked.

"No. Not at all. I was just saying that some people only see the surface of things and it takes a while before they realize what they've lost." Jean Pierre said seriously.

"Did you lose something like that?" Grief asked curiously as they meandered aimlessly around the big top.

"Everything that I left behind needed to be left." Jean Pierre said seriously, then added more quietly, "What's funny is, the thing that made me an outcast with my own people isn't even seen as a curiosity here."

"What's that?... I mean, if it's okay for me to ask."

"You can ask me anything. I may not answer, but you're always free to ask."

At Grief's expectant look, Jean Pierre reluctantly continued, "I'm small. Rangles are supposed to be big."

"Oh? I just thought you were a kid like me. How old are you?" Grief asked curiously.

"Thirty-three." Jean Pierre reluctantly answered.

"Really? Wow. I never would have guessed."

"How old did you think I was?" Jean Pierre asked cautiously.

"I never really thought about it. Since you're about my size, I guess I just figured that you were probably close to my age."

"I'll understand if you don't want to hang around with an old man like me." Jean Pierre reluctantly offered.

"That's really not a problem for me. I've always been better around adults anyway. Right now I think that I'd rather try to figure out how this crazy place works and maybe find a place to fit in."

"I think I like your plan better." Jean Pierre said honestly.

"What do you want to do now?" Grief asked curiously as he looked around.

"Actually, I think I'm about ready to stop and eat." Jean Pierre said honestly.

"Yeah. Now that I'm away from Bippy, I'm starting to feel hungry. We can sit at that table over there if you like. I'll introduce you to Tyne and Nola." Grief said as he pointed toward two older women who were seated, apparently enjoying a light dinner together.

"Yes. I suppose. If you like." Jean Pierre said reluctantly as he walked to the nearest table to casually start making his dinner selections.

"Do you not want to?" Grief asked cautiously as he did the same.

"I just don't know them." Jean Pierre slowly confessed.

"I don't know them that well either, but when my sister and I needed a place to stay, they took us in and protected us. They seem nice." Grief said frankly.

"Yeah. Okay. Let's meet them." Jean Pierre said with resolve.

"You don't have to just because I said so." Grief gently reminded him.

"Now I want to. They sound like the kind of people it's good to have as friends." Jean Pierre explained.

"Yeah. I think they're like Venn and Hostof. You know whatever comes up that you can count on them to come through for you." Grief said quietly, unable to hide the pain under his words.

"Those sound like Rangle names." Jean Pierre observed.

"They are. They're the friends of our parents I was telling you about. We stayed with them after our parents died. They took really good care of us and did their best not to let anyone hurt us." Grief said sadly.

"If they were that good to you, why aren't you and your sister living with them now?" Jean Pierre asked curiously.

"We couldn't." Grief said simply, then explained, "Even though no one said it, we all knew that the magistrate would never put us with Rangles, just like he wouldn't put Rangle kids with Witches."

"I've never been to Zatinga, so I'm not sure how backward they are in their beliefs." Jean Pierre said honestly.

"I think regular folks are beginning to understand that people are people. But what I can tell you for sure is that the magistrate is a miserable son-of-a-bitch who pretends to believe in anything that will line his pockets. He basically sold us into slavery and stole our birthright."

"Do you think he's going to go after your Rangle friends?" Jean Pierre asked cautiously.

"I doubt it. There's no money in it. But there's nothing we can do about it if he does. They'll just have to take care of it themselves. If things had worked out differently, we might have ended up being a family. As it is, all I can do is hope that good things will come to them and that they will end up happy." Grief said sadly.

"It looks to me like you're trying to move on from your tragedy and start a new life. That's probably the most productive thing that you could do right now." Jean Pierre quietly observed.

"I'm just doing what I can to give Whisper as many chances as possible at a good future." Grief said honestly.

"I hope that you'll find a way to do that for you both." Jean Pierre agreed, then cautiously asked, "Do you want to stop and eat before your plate collapses?"

"I get to talking and forget what I'm doing." Grief chuckled in realization as he looked at his mounded plate.

"Ready to eat?" Jean Pierre asked with a smile.

"I guess so." Grief said timidly, then added more strongly, "But if I start feeding my face the way that Bippy does, I'm counting on you to stop me... by any means necessary." Grief said grimly.

"Only if you'll promise the same to me." Jean Pierre said seriously.

"It's a deal."

* * * * *

"Would you mind if we join you?" Grief hesitantly asked as he and Jean Pierre stopped at the table.

"We wouldn't mind at all. I'm pleased at the future that you've chosen. Very well done." Tyne said warmly.

"Oh, yeah. They're fortune tellers." Grief quietly explained to his companion, then said to the women, "Nola and Tyne, this is my new friend, Jean Pierre."

"It's a pleasure to meet you." Nola said for both of them.

"It's nice to meet you, too, thank you." Jean Pierre said timidly.

"So, it appears that your lesson with Bippy ended a little early." Nola said with a barely restrained smile.

"Yeah. I was a little too distracted to learn very much. I was mostly trying not to be eaten by him." Grief said frankly.

"Mr. Never told us to take the opportunity to meet new people." Jean Pierre timidly added.

"If that's what he told you, then you should do it. He's the one who pays us." Tyne said simply.

"We get paid?" Grief asked hopefully.

"In some sense of the word, yes." Nola said slowly.

"I'm guessing that means 'no'." Grief said resignedly.

"You have to realize that the economics here are a little different from what you're used to. The currency we use depends on which realm we're aligned with, and some realms value the same currency differently than others."

"So we don't get paid?" Jean Pierre cautiously asked as he followed Grief's lead and took a seat at the table.

"You do, but not always in currency that you would recognize." Nola assured him.

"You get room and board plus payment in the bronze tokens issued by the carnival. But when we are merged with other realms, our currency changes to become the same as theirs, including the equivalent value." Tyne further explained.

"I can't imagine how complicated a spell like that must be." Grief said honestly, between bites of food.

"It's not something you have to worry about. That's all taken care of by the carnival." Tyne said seriously.

"I'd still be interested to see the spell, just to appreciate the complexity of it." Grief said honestly.

"If you're really interested, you could talk to Mr. Never about it. I actually don't know where the base of the spell was cast or if there's a written version of it, but if anyone would know about it, it would be him." Nola said seriously.

"I guess I don't need to know, I just like to study really well written spells to get an idea of how to do my own." Grief said before taking another bite.

"Is your magical specialty numerology?" Jean Pierre asked curiously.

"No. My magic is creating enchanted items and charms." Grief said seriously.

"Then why do you want to study a complex money changing spell?" Jean Pierre persisted.

"I don't know. I just do." Grief said honestly.

"I think I understand." Nola said with a smile, then explained, "Grief is interested in spell structure. Even if the magic is different from his own, a well crafted structure might help him elevate an unremarkable charm into something powerful and enduring."

"Do you think that something like that might work for my elemental magic too?" Jean Pierre asked cautiously.

"I'm not sure. Do you use spells?" Tyne asked in return.

"Not the way that witches do. The way it works with Rangle magic is that I cast my 'want' and the world responds as it will. Sometimes the answer is what I expect, but other times the answer is 'no'... and every now and then, the answer ends up being something worse than the problem I wanted to solve." Jean Pierre reluctantly admitted.

"While Witches formalize things with spoken spells and fancy diagrams, what we end up doing isn't all that different." Nola said frankly.

"I've never really thought about taking my magic to the next level, but it might be interesting to see if I can." Jean Pierre said honestly.

"I would think that if you clearly state your intent aloud while you cast your 'want' it should probably end up working nearly the same." Nola said uncertainly, then looked to Tyne for confirmation.

"I'm certain that someone must have tried it at some point, but I can't recall an account of it being done before." Tyne said consideringly.

"Can you try it now to see if it works?" Grief asked cautiously.

"This might be something best done outside, perhaps for some entertainment after the meal." Nola suggested soberly.

"Yes. Of course. Please excuse me for interrupting your dinner." Jean Pierre said repentantly.

"Don't worry about that. I just didn't want to run the risk of you getting the reputation of being a troublemaker or vandal over some harmless speculation about your abilities." Nola explained.

"Jean Pierre's not a kid, he's thirty-three years old." Grief hurried to inform them.

"Who says that's not a kid?" Tyne asked with a teasing grin.

"When I was thirty-three I thought I understood how the world worked and I knew, without a doubt, that I was right about everything." Nola said, finishing with a laugh.

"Was that before you came to the carnival?" Jean Pierre asked curiously.

"That's right. The world made perfect sense to me at that time. Little did I know that I would soon see a side of life that most beings never discover." Nola said wistfully.

"If you decide that you don't want to be here, can you go back?" Grief asked curiously.

"Such a thing is rare, but it has been known to happen. If a person chooses to leave, they'll usually end up with a curse on their tongue or some such thing to prevent them from divulging the hidden realities of the universe." Tyne said seriously.

"Of course people choose to come and go from the carnival all the time for quests and adventures and such like. That's another matter entirely." Nola interjected.

"That's right. We're encouraged to go out into the realms that we visit and explore what they have to offer, then bring that information back to the carnival to share it." Tyne said supportively.

"But if someone plans to leave and not come back, that's somehow different?" Grief asked curiously.

"People who belong to the carnival carry a piece of it. No matter where they go, it's still with them, guiding and helping to lead them to productive ends. Someone who leaves the carnival completely, loses that spark. In the silence, they don't hear the raucous music in the distance calling to them and driving them on. They are alone in a way that we never are." Nola carefully explained.

"If we can leave when we want to, that means that I could still find a master wizard of engineering or charmwork to apprentice for." Grief said speculatively.

"Make no mistake, you'll need to gain control of your clownistry before you try to woo a master wizard into taking you on. There is no future in store for you where you master your magic without mastering your clownhood first." Tyne said firmly.

"Then I guess I'd better finish eating so I can go ahead and get started." Grief said with renewed dedication.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

I am still learning what is going on in this tale. The kids are sure finding out interesting things.

I was a fan of magical things long before I discovered Harry Potter and his adventures.

I have read a lot of stories. A lot of them were written by MM.

I always enjoy the details about the different races, disciplines and other differences from person to another.

One of the things I do enjoy about MM's stories are the way he can combine attributes and skills that different people can use to help shape their surroundings.

Remember that each story develops on its own, and can merge some aspects but it has its own path to follow.

Darryl AKA The RadioRancher