Also - By Lillow G

   In the meadow there's a song that is always playing and those that hear it often sing along. It is today the song of Autumn, a song of wet and chilly or the Sunshine Contraction Song. This is the song of slowing down and resting. It is a song of gestation for our Mother Gaia and she has our love and gratitude even though she seems ready to cast us off for her own preservation. Unless we can make massive changes. We knew better all along. In any case, today there's the meadow and Autumn leaves. 

   Ishmael was there already, having returned from the Shine with Ishytoo some time ago, and he and Holly were having tea when we arrived. Lorna and I'd had a wonderful Crow that morning, greeting and encouraging Father Sun, then we had tea at the manor with the witches. I wanted to start right away as soon as we got to the meadow. There'd been a disturbance in the aether around Bluff, that semi-existent home to the Witch's Council and other strange things. 

   “Hi Ishmael and Holly!” I said as we approached. “Is Ishytoo coming with us?” I asked Ishmael. 

   “Not today. He's working on the Light.” The Light is what Ishmael and Ishytoo shine whenever there's need, which seems to be a lot these days. It is magical and shines when Ishmael casts the spell, bringing love and hope. When Ishytoo 'works on the Light' it means he's practicing the spell. I nodded at this. It was a complicated spell to get to Bluff so I understood how much work was involved. 

   “Well, let’s get going then,” I said and soon we were underway. Ishmael and I on brooms and Lorna riding on Holly's back. We circled the meadow until I got the spell right, then we floated serenely onto Bluff. As soon as we landed, we began looking for the disturbance. I knew the Radio Galaxy was nearby but I was hoping it wasn't the problem. I didn't feel like messing with Ego. Bluff itself seemed about as peaceful as it ever does. More so actually since there was no kerfuffle going on. As we walked past the Witch's Council, approaching EATS, our favorite restaurant, I noticed a flicker in the aether. Seeing my look Ishmael looked up. 

   “Is that . . .?” he began. The aether starts to clear making the thing more visible. 

   “I think so Ishmael,” I answered with a grimace. “I think it's a Space Manifold Portal.” 

   Holly looked at it with round and worried eyes. “Doesn't that lead to the Arches of Chaos?” she asked. 

   “Yeah, it does,” I answered. 

   “What's it doing here?” Ishmael asked. 

   “I think that's what we need to find out,” I said.        

    We got into our exploration formation, with me on one side of Holly and Ishmael on the other, riding our brooms close in while Lorna rides on Holly's back. We developed this formation because Holly has the best flying spell I ever saw. The spell forms a bubble keeping air inside that constantly renews regardless of the conditions outside the bubble. It also keeps you dry and warm or cool, whatever may be necessary. Anyone keeping close enough stays inside this bubble, which is why Lorna rides on Holly's back and Ishmael and I stay close to her sides. In this formation we leave Bluff and fly toward the Space Manifold Portal. 

   As we approach it becomes clearer. It is roughly circular, perhaps ten meters across and inside is a chaotic seeming maelstrom of strange colors. I know it's not as bad as it looks but is rather a reflection of the Arches of Chaos that are on its other side. Holly lets me lead our formation and I steer us slowly, cautiously into its center. There is little turbulence despite the appearances and we are soon inside the great Space Manifolds. It is dark and gloomy and we can see the Arches of Chaos in the distance. 

   There are many portals here that are passages to distant places, even other galaxies, and when one enters and exits by portal, they are quite useful. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, most who come to the Manifolds do so via the Arches of Chaos. That's crazy. Seriously, it's crazy, chaotic and extremely off-putting. But now I knew because I could see, plainly see that the disturbance that'd been reported and that we were investigating was the result of extraordinary amounts of negative energy flowing through the Arches and being distributed by the Manifolds throughout the cosmos. This is bad. 

   Holly's flying spell takes us safely, miraculously you could say, through the Arches of Chaos and we arrive at a place that is almost too depressing to describe. It's a land of incredible wealth populated by poor and willfully ignorant slaves. It's leadership is corrupt from top to bottom, its environment collapsing in what should have been preventable problems. Mean-spirited greed and anger are the dominant forces that create huge homeless populations that are beyond hopeless. The super-wealthy further enrich themselves through endless wars while their machines take jobs away from the people who slavishly support their own demise, blaming their sad condition on minorities or some other country or just some other. Their taxes support a first class health-care system yet they themselves cannot afford it or even access it. Their news is propaganda and their supreme leader is a cheap con-man. They hate voting and they hate thinking about stuff because they literally worship stupidity. We were shocked to our core and made our way to some out of the way spot to consider what must be done to stop this negativity from walloping the rest of us. But everywhere, no matter how remote, was posted private property with keep out signs, keep out or else, but we finally found a spot that seemed safe and settled down. Hidden. We were glum. 

   “What can we do here?” Ishmael asked. “Do you think the Light would help?” 

   No one answered for a long moment, then Holly said, “I don't think this situation can be remedied.” 

   “Nor do I,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief. “A steady diet of Light magic begun a decade ago might have helped but these people are thoroughly oppressed and determined to keep it that way. A suicidal society with leaders bent on fleecing every drop of energy out of it before it all collapses.”      

   “Taking their environment with them,” Lorna added with a tragic look. 

   “The problem we face is that their negativity is poisoning everyone else,” Ishmael pointed out. “It's made worse in the Arches and distributed by the Manifolds so it's poisoning the entire galaxy.” 

   “Then it's containment?” I asked. I didn't feel good about saying this. It was the same solution we had arrived at to defeat Dredung, the well of evil magicks, whose power is domination and whose goal is the cessation of all life. Dredung is so powerful that entire countries can be consumed by it. I think it wants to grow until it can destroy planets. We contained it in our world using the magic wand Zingellawabic but it seems that same evil is recurring here. I don't guess it'll ever be totally contained since its seeds are fear, anger, hunger and animality, fairly common emotions for humans. Besides Zingellawabic is back on the farm along with Ishmael's Light. I could see by the other's expressions that they were just as unsure of this solution as I was. 

   “Perhaps we ought to get a good night's sleep and talk more about this in the morning?” Ishmael suggested. It was turning dusk and our hiding spot seemed safe and congenial so we agreed and settled down. 

   After sleeping on it I knew containment wasn't the answer and I think the others knew it as well. 

   “We have to change how this society functions,” I told the group. By their silence I knew they agreed and by their silence I also knew they had no idea how to accomplish this. 

   I thought of the people back there, willfully killing themselves and each other while their leader, a man named Drumf which didn't surprise me a bit since that was the same name Dredung used in our land. The name used when that evil had grown enough to menace everyone. It had already destroyed Joten when we arrived to confront that Drumf although that was a long process that was just culminating with the Drumf. Joten is the land of Trolls, Orcs and the ultimate source of the evilist rot, the Grimn Leapers. Those who blindly accept, who devoutly believe what they are told, despite the evidence of their eyes and ears. We destroyed that Drumf with Ishmael's Light. A giant infusion of Love, Light and Hope right into the middle of that Drumf's Troll factory where the lies, hate and division were created and, in the process, creating new Trolls. Then those Trolls would go out spreading fear, hate and lies, disrupting societies and planting the seeds of destruction. Including their own demise, along with whatever country nurtured them. Well, Ishmael's Light knocked old Dredung for a loop, out, we thought, but it came back, seemingly in no time, and we fought it back. Our final solution was containment.     

   “We need a new approach,” I said, realizing that I knew what needed doing. “We need to give them Love. Let Love come back to them. And respect for the marvel that is life.” I paused, feeling a little like some sort of preacher but also realizing that I didn't have the minutia of this grand design. I just had the overall vision.    

   “Give them love?” Holly asked looking confused. 

   “Capital L Love,” I tell her. 

   “But those people are hateful,” Ishmael stated. 

   “Look what they've done to their environment,” Lorna said with a sad look. “I almost want to see them fail, see their country collapse so that at least they'd stop hurting the earth.” 

   “And it was fear, hatred, and greed, that started it,” I said. Then added, “And the enforced divisions that made them that way based on class, color creed or whatever else they could come up with.” I was not at all sure where I was going with this. 

   “Those were systemic changes happening over a long time,” Ishmael pointed out. 

   “Yes, but what started them?” I asked. 

   “Greed,” we all said at once. 

   “How do we stop that?” Holly wondered, looking around quizzically. 

   “I dunno,” I answered, “but I believe it's a start. That realization.”  I gazed around slowly, seeing their looks of uncomprehending interest. “Well,” I continued, “what is it that causes a person to want more than they need? What makes a hoarder? Because really, no matter how you look at it, a person who accumulates wealth is a hoarder.” 

   “Need,” Ismael said unconvincingly. 

   “Fear,” Lorna spoke decisively. “They've been taught that success is all that matters. Just look at the homeless people crowding their streets. Monstrous deprivation playing out right in front of them every day and getting worse. They're afraid of that. Of going homeless.” 

   “That's a fearsome thought alright,” Holly whispered with a sad look. 

   “But what of the fellow who builds an empire?” Ishmael asked. “Not because he wants to but because he's just so good at it, that everything he touches easily turns to gold, and in the process of doing what he loves best he employs hundreds, or even thousands. Thousands of families, wives, husbands, children, all relying on his continued success.” 

   “It's a thorny problem,” I murmur. 

   “I think it's the second generation that's the problem,” Lorna said. 

   “Huh? What'ya mean?” Ishmael asked. “You mean the kids? Something like that?” 

   “Could be something like that,” Lorna answered. “But I think it's pretty much whoever takes over after the wealth apparatus is put in place. You know, when the money machine is punching out the profits and the old man retires or dies.”  

   “Those children or executives would be riding the coattails of success,” Ishmael continued, “and if they didn't have their founder's flair and few do I think, coupled with the enormous responsibility of the welfare of hundreds or thousands, well, I could see how morality and ethics could be set aside.” Seeing our shocked expressions he continued. “For the greater good. You know, sell yourself to evil so that others could live. Why it'd be a self-sacrifice when you look at it that way.” 

   “That's ghastly,” I said, dismayed at how right it sounded. 

   “So it's greed fostered by fear,” Holly summed up. 

   “Well, there's more,” Ishmael added, “you know, like the charities and religions that jump on the money train forgetting good works entirely, or the investors that are so rich that richer is their only thought.” 

   “And politicians,” Lorna continued with a scowl. “Elected by the people but doing only the work of the highest bidder. Corruption that thrives on the lack of consequences these same corrupt politicians create for themselves.” 

   “A self-perpetuating cycle feeding on all it can,” I said, “which again brings us back to throwing out morality and ethics,” I look around. “Apparently an easy thing to do.”   

   “Especially when this corruption lifts you well past the fears of want, need, homelessness and despair,” Ishmael added with a frown. “Then it's just greed.” 

   We're all silent, wearing glum looks. 

   The next morning we have a plan. Using local materials along with knowledge and gold from the farm, where it has little value, we start a Love-Spell factory. These are not romance spells necessarily, rather they allow a burst of the joyful love we all have, or once had, in our innermost being. We cast these Love spells over and over imbuing whatever we can; rocks, seeds, coins, whatever with powerful Love spells that can uplift moods, brighten days and lets people see their own inner beauty and peace along with the natural beauty that surrounds us all. We spend a lot of time surreptitiously planting our little Love poppers. They may seem imperceptible at first, just a glimmer here and there, a little less glum perhaps but already while we were still there, they've managed to vote the horrid Drumf out of office. A new leader whose mind is on creating a just society that serves all its members as well as conserving and healing their environment has come to power. A weak power that relies on the people for its success. I hope we've begun healing the enormous fractures in this society. I smile with renewed hope and give my team a thumbs up as we surround Holly to mount up, so to speak, preparing to return through the Arches of Chaos and back to our own space through the Manifold. We look forward to a long rest in the calmness of the farm and her restorative meadow. We've had our fill of chaos, that's for sure, at least for now.      


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