The Magic Wand - By Rosy

One: The AV Rivitir - - - - - - - 

   My name is Rosy Rivitir and I am the captain of the All-Vehicle Rivitir, a craft that can go anywhere. My crew has three members: Rover, our navigator, Brak, our pilot and Jant, our communications specialist. 

   Today we have landed in the southern wilderness of Elvenstead. There is an ancient farm nearby whose meadow is said to have miraculous powers. It is a beautiful place and I wondered what brought us here. We gathered in front of the Rivitir's door and breathed in the fresh air and the smell of a verdant country. 

   “Gosh, would you just look at this pastoral landscape!” Jant enthused. “Looks like a lovely place to picnic!” 

   “I think it is” I agreed, “but there's probably a lot of residual magic here from the ancient times when the legendary Lillow was having adventures, so you need to be very careful.” 

   “Used to be a lot of Jeewizium deposits around here that are quite dangerous,” Rover told us. “The stuff is invisible and if you step on it, you get zapped into another dimension.”  

   “Wow, that's scary,” Jant said. 

   “Oh yeah, you were here back then, weren't you?” I asked Rover. 

   “Yep. That was a really, really long time ago.” 

   “How'd you stay out of the Jeewizium?” Brak asked. 

   “Spike could see it, along with Lillow and the witches,” Rover answered. “They kept it scooped up, then the witches used it to imbue the farm with magic.” He paused, with a sad look. “We always thought Spike was immortal, not me. But somehow it got in me or something.” 

   “I wonder if all the magic that was here could have something to do with it?” I asked. 

   “Yeah, I think so,” Rover said with a shrug. “I mean it's definitely something that has occurred to me over the years, and I have to say, really, there's no other way to account for it, but still . . .” he paused, looking downward. “well, it's just that most people don't believe in magic these days. They say the legend of Lillow was all made up, that there were never such magical beings in the world and that I'm a delirious dog.” 

   “Yeah?” I said. “So what? I've heard them, the modern world people with their high-stakes games and devices along with the naysayers and trolls, all of them thinking their world is the real one. But what's that got to do with it? You know your experiences were real.” 

   “Uh-huh, you're right,” he agreed, “but you do get doubts, I mean about memory and stuff after a few hundred years. Things back there get hazy, you know? But here now, seeing this place again, it's like . . .it's like the magic is coming back.” 

   “I'll say,” I laughed, looking around. I could see more somehow, a kind of whispering depth that was exhilarating. “This place fairly shimmers with magic. It's below the surface, but it's there.” 

   “I know,” Rover said, sighing. “I think we'll see more and more as the land accepts us.” 

   “What if the land doesn't accept us?” Brak asked. 

   “Oh, it will. You're with Rover after all,” a disembodied voice announced cheerily. 

   “Spike?” Rover said, with round eyes. 

   Suddenly a large bulldog appeared. “Rover! Where you been, boy?” he asked. Rover was overcome with emotion. I've never seen his tail wag like that, like a million wags a second, and a big stupid grin on his face. 

   “Spike!” he yelped, “Oh my good golly, it's Spike!” He looked at us, “Spike!” 

   “Calm down Rover,” Spike said walking over to us. “You're acting like a darn puppy.” Spike sat down but his tail kept wagging and his big smile remained. “Gooda see you, boy. Been awhile, huh?” Spike said, sitting down near Rover. “I see you got some elves here with you.” 

   “Yeah Spike,” Rover said. “These guys are from the spaceship where I live now. It's called the Rivitir and these are my captain and fellow crew members. We're explorers and heroes, and Spike, we have such fun! Almost like the old days.” 

   “Well that's just fine Rover, meanwhile,” he looked at us. 

   “Oh, yeah. Sorry, this here's Captain Rosy Rivitir.” 

    “An honor to meet you, sir,” I said, bowing a little. “We've all heard so much about you.” 

   “Telling his stories, is he?” Spike laughed. “Well it's darn fine to meet you. Keeping this guy outta trouble?” 

   “I can't keep myself outta trouble,” I said with a grin. 

   Spike laughed. “No doubt,” he said chuckling. “And who might you two be?” he asked, looking a Brak and Jant. 

   “I'm Brak and this here's my partner Jant. We're professional heroes.” 

   “Good job, that,” Spike said, smiling broadly. “As to your worries Brak, I can tell you, the land has already accepted you, all of you.” He began walking across the forested meadow we'd landed in. “Com'on. I'll take you to the farm.” 

Two: Zingellawabix - - - - - - - 

   The magic wand Zingellawabix began his life, for a living thing he is, as ice. Simple ice from a world of ice, a world of contraction, a world where things are gathered, amassed and compressed. It was a great attracter world, and as such its complexity increased. Then, through emergent properties, a frozen precursor to life was created. This complexity, given enough time, and there was ample, will become the most complex thing of all, a living entity. 

   It started, perhaps, with a simple repetition; a pattern in the ice that accidentally replicates over and over until somewhere along the line it begins to absorb a little of the energy from its environment to maintain and, perhaps, to even enhance the flow, as it were. The available energies would be sunlight, which, while scant on the ice planet, was nonetheless available. Another was the ice planet's primal power of contraction, by far the stronger energy. 

   After eons of strengthening replications, these icy little patterns were forced to adapt, due to the changing conditions on the ice planet brought on by the approach of the fire planet. They were able to so because they could utilize the energy for their complexity to increase, to adapt, to become. 

   Closer the fire planet came, disrupting life on both the fire planet and the ice planet, until they finally collided in a massive impact, destroying both planets. The process of annihilation, however, left a more moderate space with a lot of debris. Enough for a rocky, watery-blue planet to form. It was here, in this space, that the living fire and the living ice that came from the fire planet and the ice planet were able to continue and blossom, combining in their evolution the energies of both fire and ice, and emerging as something new.   

  Zingellawabix was already alive and ancient when the great fire and ice collision occurred and he slipped easily into the emergent life of the blue planet. Finally, after billions of years, plants and trees evolved, nurtured by his energy and life force so that he naturally became a part of the flora, the woodlands. He flowed eagerly and naturally through wood, and when the time was right, after a few more million years, he emerged as a wooden wand, whose powers were enhanced by witches. From the primal ice he could bind, and from the primal fire he could shrink or consume. From his great age of billions of years he learned to harness and direct his powers, powers that grew and grew until he became one of the great magical tools of the world, as well as a blessing to the world, for he is devoted to the cause of goodness and light. 

   It is believed that he has attained many more powers since, beyond binding, shrinking and consuming. 

   Say his name with reverence, Zingellawabix, slowly, Zing-gella-wabix. Hear his song; {Zzzzziinnnnggg zing zing zithra! Zzzziinnnnggg zing zing zithra! Zingellawabix zithra! zithra! Zzzzziinnnnggg ziiinnnggg nnnngg!}  

  It was Zingellawabix who bound and shrank Dredung, the Well of Evil. Today Zingellawabix lives on a farm in an intricate box created by dragons. It is hidden on the legendary Lillow's Farm, the same Lillow who's adventures are told all across Greater Elvenstead. The stuff of legends, stories of the distant past, yet Zingellawabix remains. As does Rover. Oh, and Spike too, despite Rover's having lost touch with him. He's still around though, but just on the farm. 

Three: A farm in the wilderness - - - - - - - 

   We followed the bulldog Spike through the forest for a short ways, marveling at the beauty around us. This forest was old, very old and the glades were well traveled. I was amazed at the abundant flowers, and how sweet and fresh the air was. I think we were lulled into a semi-somnolent state, moving through this idyllic land so that when we crossed a small ridge what confronted us shocked us to our core. For there, stretched out before us was a long desolate swamp with creatures, ferocious creatures and dinosaurs and slithering snakes and . . . 

   Spike stood beyond that ridge grinning at us while we hid behind the trees. Except Rover that is. He stood staring, as if transfixed, then we watched with amazement as he walked over the ridge and stood beside Spike, easily within the reach of the monsters. 

   “I remember this,” Rover said, gazing at the spectacle with a smile. “It's the Glamoury Wall.” He turned and waved us to follow. “Com'on you guys!” he yelled. “It's perfectly safe, they're just illusions.” 

   “That's right,” Spike agreed, “Illusions. Com'on!” 

   Slowly we emerged, then a little faster when we saw Spike disappear into the vision. When we got to Rover he turned and followed Spike, waving us to follow, which we did, but not without trepidation. These were some fearsome looking beasts and all in a murky swamp as well. But as we followed, the path remained firm as we walked right past the dinosaurs who apparently didn't see us. It was quite bizarre because we didn't actually walk between them, we walked through them. And once through the scene quite quickly changed into a bucolic meadow with a large ancient manor house in the center and a big, well-kept, red barn to the south. 

   “We just passed through the Glamoury Wall!” Rover announced with obvious pride. 

   Spike laughed. “That wall is all illusion put in by the witches in ancient times to keep the unwary from wandering onto the farm.” 

   “It's still going just fine, isn't it?” I asked. “After all these years.” 

   “Yep. Those witches knew their stuff.” 

   We came to a curious passage that might have been a gate once but was now just two pillars on either side of the path which led toward the manor house, passing a lush orchard. 

   “The Golly Orchard,” Spike said as we passed. Soon we were at the manor which seemed deserted. We passed it and turned toward the big red barn. 

   “This here's Holly's Palatial Estate,” Spike told us when we got to the barn. “It's where I live.” 

   Quick as a flash I saw a winged creature zip by, leaving a trail of swirling glitter. 

   “Whoa! What was that?” I asked. 

   “A faerie,” Spike said. “You've got faeries in Elvenstead don't you?” 

   “Well, there used to be, or so they say,” I answered. “I've never seen one and I know a lot of people who don't even believe in them.” 

   “Yeah, well, things sure have changed,” he said without elaborating. 

   In front of the estate were tables and chairs and we were soon sipping tea and enjoying biscuits. I was still wondering what had brought us here so I kept looking for clues and hints. Somehow, I knew it was for more than just the reunion of Spike and Rover, although that was pretty special. I sent for the Rivitir and soon had it parked in the meadow. 

   That night I dreamed of a curious sound. It sounded like a small bell ringing, making an iiinnnggg sound, except it seemed to be zing. There seemed to be a zee sound preceding the ing sound. Very odd. 

Four: Glad Manor - - - - - - - 

   The next day I continued looking for clues about what could have brought us here, but that curious zing dream kept nagging at me. Brak and Jant were exploring around the Golly Orchard and then up around the main gate. I think they wanted to see that Glamoury Wall again. I was exploring around the meadow. I stopped to watch Rover and Spike cavorting in the grass and my gaze locked onto the ancient manor at the top of the hill. I began to walk up the path toward the manor. As I walked Spike and Rover joined me. 

   “What's in the manor?” I asked. “Anybody live there?” 

   “Noooo,” Spike answered, casting a nervous glance at the manor.  

   “So it's totally empty?” I asked. It was a marvelously ancient structure and it still looked sound. 

   “Uh, no,” Spike was uncomfortable. “I mean, there's nothing living there but, well, there's other things.” 


   “There's ghosts up there?” Rover asked, looking at the manor with renewed interest. 

   “I dunno,” Spike answered, shrugging. “It's just that there's sounds sometimes.” 

   “What kind of sounds,” I asked. 

   “I don't know. A whining noise maybe, like spirits might make. Almost like a long bell ring but very scary. I could see a ghost making that sound.” 

   “Wow,” Rover said. “So there's ghosts there?” 

   “I never said that. I said there's strange sounds that could be a ghost but more likely is something quite natural. Yes, quite natural. Still, it is creepy.” 

    “Almost like a bell ring?” I asked. “Sort of an ing sound except maybe with a zee, like zing?” 

   He gave me a worried look. “Yeah. How'd you know that?” 

   “I dreamed it last night, Spike.” 

   He stopped and gave the manor, which was quite close now, a long hard look. 

   “I want to go in there. Is that possible?” I asked.   

   “No one's been in there for hundreds of years,” he said quietly. “maybe more. But I gotta admit, I don't know why. Just no one'd go in there anymore. Aggy and the new witches got a nice place over in Shady Glen, we should go up there so you can meet them.” 

   “Do they run the place?” I asked. 

   “No one runs the farm. It runs itself. Somehow the right person for any needed job just shows up and starts doing it. Aggy showed up when the farm's magic was waning and now, she and the witches do what the farm's witches have always done, and that is maintain the magic. They gather jeewizium and faerie dust and other magical things and use them to power the farm. You saw the Glamoury Wall.” 

   “Very impressive,” I agreed. I looked at the manor, wondering how to proceed. I had a feeling, a knowing in some strange way, that the zing mystery involved something inside this ancient Glad Manor. And it was a mystery that I needed to solve. 

   “I oversee the meadow, you know,” Spike continued, “the elves and faeries that work in it, sort of a community I guess and I, well, I'm the mayor. So to speak.” 

   “So are you the guy I go to to get permission to go in there?” I asked, nodding at the manor. 

   “Well, no, not really. No one's in charge like that, I mean it's all open and anyone who'd want to could go in, at their own risk of course, it's just that no one's wanted to for so long that everyone sort of accepts that there's a reason, a darn good reason I'd say, to stay out.” 

   “Oh, well, that's okay then.” I looked at Rover. “You wanna go in?” 

   Rover looked at the manor with fondness. “It's where I grew up, you know.” I nodded. I did know. “And I've been wanting to come check it out ever since we got here.” He looked at Spike, who seemed noncommittal, then at me, “Let's do it.” 

   I started up the steps. “You coming Spike?” I called back. With a wary acceptance he followed us up the steps. 

Part Five: Trolls in the wicket - - - - - - - 

   On the southwest corner of the farm is a swamp, known as the Swamp of Doom. It is the ancient swamp, along with its denizens, who are portrayed so realistically by the farm's Glamoury Wall. Fortunately, the swamp is unable to keep up with its own image and is today nowhere near the fearsome entity of old. The horrible, vicious creatures have mostly died off, the dinosaurs went extinct, again, and the swamp, while still dank and fetid, grows lots of exotic flowers and has acquired a largely non-toxic fauna. 

   In the middle of the Swamp of Doom is an island, called Silvia's Island, and on that island, in the exact center in fact, sits an ancient castle called Badstone Castle. Curiously, the stones that make up the castle are good, and despite being abandoned and being in that particular location, it has retained its structural integrity. It's a sound castle which, like the swamp in which it sits, is not as horrible as the stories say it once was. There are, nonetheless, lingering energies that can be disconcerting and misdirecting, malevolent energies that are a drain on the spirit. 

   Shortly before the arrival of the Rivitir expedition to Lillow's Farm, the Mad Doctor Snarkey had taken up residence in Badstone Castle. He brought a motley group of workers, mostly dark elves and a few brown weasels, who were industriously building a factory in the great hall of the castle. Dr. Snarkey has developed a new process for making trolls, a process he believed would produce trolls much cheaper than anything Joten could do. Plus, being here in Elvenstead would save a bundle on shipping. Dr. Snarkey laughed his mad scientist laugh as he watched the dark elves put his mad troll factory together. 

   Joten, Dr. Snarkey's only real competition, is considered the troll capitol because it produces the vast majority of new trolls, all fully hate-loaded and ready to mindlessly break things. Joten trolls, made by Grimn-Leapers, are the real thing, sturdy, reliable and easily the standard for troll production everywhere. But, since Joten was such a long ways from Elvenstead, and getting trolls to Elvenstead was so difficult and expensive, Dr. Snarkey believed his new method of troll production would knock Joten out of the water, so to speak. He, the Mad Dr. Snarkey, would be able to supply the Elvenstead underworld with cheap, functional trolls, allowing every hate-filled, greed addled control freak, who could come up with the money, a chance at success. His motto: Today Elvenstead, tomorrow the world! But right now, Dr. Snarkey's troll market conquest relied on cash flow, which totally suited his business partner, a smooth talking money man, so that money was paramount. And, as long as fear prevailed, it was way more important than customer satisfaction, that's for sure.     

   “First, I conquer Elvenstead!” Dr. Snarkey would scream, to no one in particular, “Then the world!” he'd finish, posing triumphantly. Some of the workers would overhear and shivered with foreboding, but the pay was good so they mostly shook it off. The others? Well, the others were just as evil minded as Dr. Snarkey himself. A promising new group of minions. 

   Dr. Snarkey's glib business partner worked in Greater Elvenstead. His nefarious job was to sell the prospect of cheap trolls, even a cheap troll army, to investors, convincing them that they would retain control when the trolls came to trample and destroy, as trolls must do. They would become the new masters, taking over when it became apparent that only they could control the trolls. They alone held sway over the monsters and everyone else was at their mercy. Such power! 

   That glib business partner was none other than Brad Puffup! Alleged billionaire and owner of the tallest building in the world, perhaps the universe. Brad is the well-known arch-criminal and CEO of Bradco Inc. the largest supplier of military hardware in Elvenstead, despite Elvenstead having no military. Instead, Brad made sure that every argument, conflict, petty disagreement or even vague misunderstanding was well armed. Both sides, proudly armed by Bradco Inc. Bullets are flying, thanks to the patriots at Bradco Inc.   

   From his secret underground fortress headquarters, Brad planned to make Bradco the largest company in the world! Brad would crow, whenever possible in front of adoring sycophants, about how big and grand Bradco was going to be, already was, because of his being a stable genius! Posing heroically, with his oddly small hands firmly grasping the reins, Brad was poised to take the world, with Dr. Snarkey as number two, while Dr. Snarkey was poised for the same thing with Brad as number two. Gosh, well I'm sure they'll work that out, meanwhile all they had to do was keep the common people frightened, and what better way than a troll army? After just spreading rumors of an impending troll invasion, Bradco Inc. made record profits selling guns, rockets and ammunition. Imagine if the threat became real. There's a lot of money in fear. 

Part Six: Finding Zing - - - - - - - 

   Meanwhile, back on the farm, Rover, Spike and I were in the main hall of the ancient Glad Manor. There is a simple 'keep out' spell surrounding the manor, fairly easy to push through if you recognized it, which an uneasy Spike did, but otherwise quite adequate to keep most out. The windows were dusty but allowed enough light to see by. I could hear a zing sound, but very faint. 

   “Do you guys hear that?” I asked. 

   “What?” Rover answered. He cocked his head. “I don't hear anything.” 

   “It's sort of a ringing sound, but real low,” I told him, “I can barely hear it, but I'm sure it's there. Can you hear it?” 

   Rover shook his head and Spike looked blank. “I don't hear it,” Rover added, looking oddly at me. “Could it be tinnitus? “ 

   “I don't think so Rover. I've only heard it here on the farm and it gets stronger in this manor, but it's still pretty faint.” 

   “I can't hear it,” Spike said quietly. 

   But I could. I noticed that it seemed to grow louder as I approached the stairway to the next floor. 

   “Com'on you guys,” I said, looking back at them. “I think there's something here that's trying to call me, sending me this ringing noise, almost a song, urging me forward, making that long buzzing zing sound that apparently only I can hear.” I began up the stairs. “Whatever it is, it's real and it wants to be found.” I felt the intensity increase. “It needs to be found,” I amended.          

  When we got to the top there was a hallway with open doors on both sides except for the very first one. This door was closed. It was somehow grander than the others and I felt the song grow stronger. I knew that the sender of the zing music was behind this door. 

   I reached over and grabbed the doorknob but it wouldn't budge. I pushed on the door but it was like a wall of granite. I could hear the zing song louder now, more insistent. I stopped, unsure how to proceed. 

   “There's a spell on that door that prevents people going in,” a strange voice behind me spoke. “Who are you and why are you . . . Spike, what are you doing here?” 

   “Oh, uh, hi Aggy,” Spike answered, sheepishly. “This here's Rover and that's Rosy at the door. She hears some sort of zing sound and she thinks it's behind that door.” 

   Aggy. Gosh, Spike had mentioned her, the head witch, I believe. I turned and looked at her. She was a pretty standard witch, with the pointed hat and holding a broom. Her hair was bone-white and her dress was a vibrant purple. 

   “You can hear the zing song?” she asked, watching me closely. 

   “Yeah. It's pretty loud here and I think it's coming from somewhere behind that door.” 

   “It's calling,” she murmured, mysteriously. She studied my face for a long moment, looking deep into my eyes with an almost hypnotic intensity, then she came over and stood in front of the door. Slowly waving her arms, she chanted something unintelligible. Then she spun around three times and when she stopped, she stepped back and the door swung open. 

   I gaped in amazement, but nobody said anything. They all stood watching me. I turned and entered the room. As soon as I was inside the zing song became faint again and I heard a voice in my head. 

   {Ah, at last you have come. I am Zingellawabix, the wand of power, and you are Rosy, the chosen one, the only one able to direct my power in the coming work that must be done. You will find me in a long wooden case under the Goddess altar.}  

   There was an altar to the Dawn Robin Redbreast, a goddess I knew was worshiped by the fauna in most the rural areas of Elvenstead, which occupied most of the facing wall. I walked over and without knowing why, I bowed. I held my head low for a moment, saying a silent prayer of gratitude. I wondered what the 'chosen one' was all about but intuitively it felt right. I opened the drawer under the altar and inside was a long, ornately carved box that seemed to sparkle with magical energy. Reverently I reached down and picked it up. Now the zing song was strong, mesmerizing, full of power. A power I could not comprehend yet somehow, I sensed that it contained the universe. I brought the box into the other room where everyone stood, wide eyed, staring. 

   “Rover, would you clean that table off?” I asked, nodding at a nearby table. He rushed over and with Spike and Aggy's help removed the accumulated debris and did their best at wiping the dust off. 

   “Thank you, guys,” I murmured as I set the box down. I could tell it was old, really old. The carvings and designs were exquisite. It's song was powerful yet sweet, almost like a purr. I unhooked the hasps on either side and opened the case. I was immediately overwhelmed with waves of love and a joy that was eager to get to work. I wondered what work needed doing? 

   {I am Zingellawabix,} the voice intoned in my head. {I am he that binds, I am he that reduces, I am he that calls on the waters, I am he that freezes, I am he that burns, I am he that cloaks from sight, I am Zingellawabix, the mighty Wand of power. 

Zzziiiinnngggg zithra! Zzziiinnnggg zithra! Zingellawabix zithra! Zithra!} 

   “Gosh, well hello. I'm Rosy . . .” I began. 

   “Who're are you talking to?” Rover asked. 

   “Uh, the wand. It's, er, he's the wand we're looking at.” 

   “It talks to you?” Rover asked with wide eyes. 

   “Yeah. At least I think so. I hear this voice and I think it's the wand. Zingella-something, he said his name was.” 


   “Zingellawabix,” I repeated. “He's a wand of power and yeah, I'm pretty sure now, it is the wand speaking to me.” 

   “Just like with Lillow,” Spike murmured. 

   “I know little of this wand,” Aggy said, staring at it. “Just that we were tasked with keeping this room sealed until the time was right. Which appears to be now.” 

   “Oh, hello!” I said, turning and smiling at her. “So you're the Aggy Spike told me about? I don't think we've met properly.” 

   “Huh? Oh my gosh, I'm sorry,” Spike sputtered. “Uh, Aggy, I'd like you to meet a couple of our guests, Rosy Rivitir and Rover.” He looked at us, “This is Aggy, the head witch.” 

Seven: Getting to know you - - - - - - - 

   I was thrilled to meet Aggy, the head witch, especially in light of this powerful and mysterious wand that has apparently called me for some sort of work. Magical work it would seem. After the pleased to meet yous were over I asked, “So what can you tell me about Zingellawabix? I'm totally new at this sort of thing. I mean, I really don't know anything about magic.” 

   “Well, it isn't much, I'm afraid. We all, that's the other witches, Tenner, Nells and Gretta, well, we all knew about the stories, me especially since Lillow was my great-great Grandmother, but I never heard much about Zingellawabix. I knew Lillow used it to bind Dredung, the Well of Evil, that had manifested as the Grand Final of the Grimn-Leapers. Have you heard the tale?” 

   “Yeah, it's one of the more popular ones,” I answered. 

   “So you know, Lillow and Treywiz, wielding Zingellawabix, bound and shrank Dredung to the size of a pea.” 

   {It was much smaller than that.} 

   “Zingellawabix says it was much smaller than a pea,” I told her. 

   She regarded me with wide eyes. “After I don't know much else. None of the old stories that I know of tell what became of Zingellawabix. I did know that a dragon carved the case down in Mish which is where Lillow traveled to get the wand.” She looked at the box. “You gonna pick it up?” 

   I was trying to remember the old stories and looked back at the wand with a start. “Oh,” I said, in a small squeak. Then, deepening my voice and speaking with assumed confidence, I continued, “Uh-huh, well yes, yes, of course, I mean it, er, he did call me, and well, yes, yes, I'm going to pick him up.” I continued to stare at the wand. Nobody said a word as I walked slowly over and stood in front of the case, looking at the wand. 

   Uh, Zingellawabix? I thought, directing it at the wand. 

   {Yes, Rosy? Oh, and you don't have to yell. I may be ancient but I can still hear. Whenever you think of me, I will hear.}   

   Oh, sorry I thought, without directing it at anything. I uh, well I want to pick you up. Is that okay? 

   {Of course! I have been waiting. It is necessary.} 

   I reached down slowly and grabbed the wand in both hands. I felt an immediate wave of love and a deep, thrumming sense of almost bottomless power. I lifted it up and held it high in my right hand. There was a glow and all watching gazed with open mouthed awe, including me, as the area was lit up, like daylight, at the sight of him. He began to sing. 

   {Zzziiinnnggg, zzziiinnnggg zithra! Zithra! Zzzzziiiiinnnnnngggggellawabix zithra! Zithra!} 

   The song was somehow of huge power instilled with a deep and abiding love for me and my kind that left me teary eyed. I lowered him and held him in front of me. Zingellawabix, I thought quietly. I am thrilled, somehow just thrilled to my core, filled with excitement and trepidation at the same time. I feel like I've known you for much longer than . . . 

   {You have. There are many mysterious things of which I can only glimpse meanings. We are connected and have been for eternity, which is outside of time.}     

   Oh, I thought. I had no idea what to think of that. 

   After a few moments, I thought, Zingellawabix, may I ask . . . 

   {You may ask anything, bearer.} 

   Oh, okay, thank you. So I was wondering about the work you mentioned? You know, when we first met, you said something about some work that needed doing? 

   {Yes, just so. We will talk of this when the time is right. Now I must return to my case. You will find a backpack carrying case in the back of the drawer where I was at. Bring it and use it to carry me on your back.} 

   I put him back in his box, but he continued to purr, even after I closed the lid. When I snapped the hasps, he fell silent. 

   “He says there's a carrying case in the back of the drawer where he was at,” I said. 

   “Onnit!” Rover barked and soon he returned with a finely wrought case that held the box as if it was made for it. 

   {It was.} 

   I hoisted the pack onto my back and was surprised at how well it fit, how comfortable it was. 

   “Wow, this is intense. Zingellawabix says the case was made to hold the box. It's very comfortable.” 

   Aggy looked at me and nodded, smiling. “Looks like it was made for you,” she said. After a brief pause, she asked, “So, what now? What does Zingellawabix want?” 

   “I don't know. Just get to know him, I guess. He spoke of some work that needed doing but he didn't say what.” 

Eight: Connections - - - - - - - 

   I have found Zingellawabix in the ancient manor. Aggy, Rover and Spike are with me and we are preparing to leave. 

   “Well, shall we head out?” Aggy asked. It was dark and dusty in there and we seemed done with our business. 

   Yeah, I'm done, “ I said starting for the door. 

   “I wanna look around some more, now that all the magic stuff is done,” Rover said. 

   “The magic never stops, Rover,” Spike said with a chuckle. He looked at me and Aggy, now by the door. “Imma stay here with Rover. We'll see you guys later, huh?” 

   “Yeah, okay,” I said. “You two be careful. There's some very curious things here, you know?”  

   “That's for sure,” Spike said as Rover began walking down the hallway. He winked at me then turned and followed after Rover. I could hear him telling Rover as they walked away. “Remember how we used to howl? Yeah? Well that howling wall is still . . .”  

   “That cheeky dog winked at me,” I said, laughing. 

   “That sounds like Spike, alright,” Aggy said with a big grin. “He tell ya he's in charge?” 

   “Said he was the mayor . . .” 

   Aggy snorted. “Mayor! Hoowee, wait'll the girls hear about this. You gotta love that old dog.” I smiled, not sure what to say. “He's a good guy, mind you,” she continued, “keeps the meadow in order and all that. Been here forever, you know. They say he's immortal, that he was here in Lillow's time, but I don't know. He keeps all that to himself. Anyway, the truth is no one's in charge here, not even me and the witches.” 

   “Yeah, Spike mentioned that too. He was a little vague about being the mayor though.” 

   Aggy and I went to the meadow where I showed her the AV Rivitir and introduced her to Jant, who was the only one there. I told Jant about everything that had happened and asked where a safe place might be keep Zingellawbix.          

   {You must put me where I am easily reached with my box opened. Fear no thievery for none can succeed. I am the guardian. I can contact you anywhere if need arises.}   

   Gosh, okay. “So I guess I'm not hiding him after all,” I told them. “Zingellawabix just said to put him anywhere, but with his box open. He says no one can succeed at stealing him, whatever that means. Sounds like he wants to keep an eye on things.” 

   Aggy looked at him when I opened the box and set it on the mantle. The Rivitir, quite naturally, has a fireplace. 

   “I wonder what's happening that brought you here and awakened Zingellawbix?” she asked. I could only shrug as I had no idea. She looked worried. “I mean he's some heavy weaponry, you know? Like a huge magical bomb if he gets set off.” This sobered us and we looked at her with wide eyes. 

   “He gonna be okay on the mantle like that?” Jant asked. 

   Aggy and I both shrugged. “He says so,” I answered, “but I guess time will tell.” I felt odd, like I was doubting a friend's abilities, but it was how I felt. 

   “I needa be going,” Aggy announced. “You guys gotta come up and meet the other witches. We can have dinner, huh? How about tonight? Bring your gang and Spike too, we'd love to have you.” She looked at me expectantly. 

   “Well, I can't speak for the others, and Jant is on duty and stays with the Rivitir . . .” 

   “Imma home body!” Jant said with a smile. 

   “but sure, I'd love to come, and, if it's alright with you, maybe Brak, Rover and Spike will come too. Who knows?” 

   “Absolutely! We'd love to see you and whoever else tags along.” With that she was gone, her broom carrying her swiftly away. 

Nine: The work - - - - - - - 

   That night Rover, Spike and I went up to Witchhaven, which is in Shady Glen, a small elf village, where the witches oversee the farm's magic. Spike told me most the elves living there could see Jeewizium and knew how to handle it so they worked easily with the witches, keeping the farm's magic strong. I noticed several faeries flitting about as well. There seemed many more here, for some reason. 

   In the main hall at Witchhaven we met Tenner, whose actual name was Hortense Riviter. We were both Rivitirs, except she spelled it differently, er instead of ir. 

   “We're likely cousins,” she joked. Anyway I think she was joking. 

   Then there was Nells, or Nelly. She told us she'd answer to either, didn't matter. Her full name is Magnella Mercy, and she laughed uproariously when she told us. Gretta's full name is Lagretta Moran and Aggy's is Abigail Gladstar. The legendary Lillow's great-great Granddaughter. They were all descended from the farm's witches of Lillow's time and I felt like I was in the presence of royalty. But later at dinner quite a few elves joined us, and there was no deference shown. You could tell they were all fully equal, joking and calling each other by name. I guess Spike is right, there are no bosses on Lillow's Farm. 

   It was at this jovial dinner that the reason for Zingellawabix's awakening and his calling me became apparent.       

   “Trolls! Trolls are coming, get your guns! We got guns, people, come and gettem, 'cause trolls are coming!” a loud voice in the Shady Glen town square was yelling. The square, not far from Witchhaven, was lit up with lights of various colors and the red ones were flashing. The elf that was screaming the warning was pushing a cart loaded with an array of weapons. “Get yer guns! Trolls coming!” he yelled. Furtive elves could be seen dashing up and soon after leaving with a gun or guns. 

   Aggy, Tenner, Spike, Rover and I went down to investigate. “You!” Aggy yelled as we arrived, “What do you mean trolls are coming?” 

   He gave her a startled look. “It's what I heard,” he sputtered. 

    “Oh yeah! And another thing,” Aggy continued, “people around here don't use these projectile weapons. They're too dangerous, someone could get hurt.” 

   “They's gonna need 'em when the trolls come,” the elf sneered. 

   “What makes you think trolls are coming?” Tenner asked. 

   “I just know, that's all.” 

   “Yeah?” Aggy asked, giving him a long, cold look. He seemed discomfited and backed up. 

   “I got me sources. Can't reveal me sources, can I?”  

   Tenner had moved behind him as he faced Aggy. “Yes. You. Can.” Aggy hissed, stressing each word. He jumped and spun around. 

   “I can't!” He screeched. He seemed to be getting desperate, looking back and forth. He had an angry witch in front, another behind, me and Rover on one side and Spike on the other. We were all growling and casting dark, energy draining stares. He started to scream, “Aaaahhh!” Then he stopped. “Okay. Okay, listen. I can't say no names but you might want to look at that swamp. That's all I'm gonna say.” With that he darted past me and Rover and disappeared into the surrounding darkness, leaving his gun cart behind. 

   “What swamp?” I asked. 

   Aggy and Tenner exchanged a worried look. “The Swamp of Doom,” Aggy said grimly. 

   “Wow. That sounds bad,” I said. “Where's that at?”    

   “South of us, maybe half a klick or so, depending on, well, I dunno,” Tenner answered. “Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less, no way to be sure. But usually around half a klick or so.” I was silent. How could the distance change? I wondered. 

   “That swamp has been quiet for years,” Aggy said, with a scowl. “Just too quiet, I guess.” She looked at Tenner, “Looks like we needa go take a look.” 

   “Yeah,” Tenner said, but she was already running to get her broom. 

   Aggy looked at us, “Sorry guys, we gotta run. Nells and Gretta are up at Witchhaven for a while longer so . . .” 

   “Thanks, Aggy,” I answered, “but I got a feeling we should be getting back ourselves.” 

   {Yes, things are quiet for now, yet there is a disquiet that seeps in. Something is amiss, but as yet I cannot tell what. It is time to return.} 

   “I just got a call from Zingellawabix!” I told Rover and Spike. “We needa get back, soon.” I turned to tell Aggy but she was already gone. “Com'on you guys,” I yelled as I took off running down the path, Rover and Spike close behind. 

Ten: Trolls - - - - - - - 

   Things were still calm when we got back but I put the crew on full alert. Spike did the same thing in the meadow and we dug in, waiting for the report from the witches. We weren't long in waiting. Tenner and Gretta arrived quickly with the first reports. Tenner began as soon as they were off their brooms. 

   “There's a troll factory in Badstone Castle!” Tenner exclaimed. “Somehow, without us noticing, someone built a troll factory in Badstone Castle!” 

   “Wow, that sounds bad,” I said. 

   I've had very little experience with trolls. Most people avoid them and Greater Elvenstead has banned them. As soon as one is caught it is deported to Joten, the troll kingdom where the Grimn-Leapers have several troll factories. All modern trolls are made in Joten so discovering a troll factory in the hinterlands of Elvenstead is terrifying.  

   “It is bad!” Gretta agreed. “More than bad. There's already a sizable force of trolls, milling about the castle grounds, ready to be deployed.” 

   “So, is this in the swamp, the uh Swamp of Doom, was it, that the gun dealer mentioned?” I asked. 

   “Yes, the Swamp of Doom. Badstone Castle sits on Silvia's Island smack dab in the middle,” Tenner told me, nodding grimly. 

   “Wow!” I said, “So, whoever the fiendish perpetrator is won't want to keep them there long.” 

   “Yeah, that's what Aggy said,” Tenner murmured with a worried look. 

   “So, we're going the fortify Witchhaven, and Spike, you better fortify the meadow,” Gretta told us.           

   “Onnit,” Spike barked. He took off running back to the meadow. 

   “What do you mean by, 'fortify'?” I asked. 

    “It means getting as many defenders as you can, armed with whatever weaponry you have.” 

   “I guess it's good in a sad sort of way that Bradco got so many guns distributed around here,” Tenner noted wryly. “Although I don't know how effective conventional weaponry will be against trolls.” 

   “Well, I've got Zingellawabix,” I said. “One of his powers is binding.” 

   “That's how they do it in Greater Elvenstead,” Rover put in, “whenever a troll is caught there, they use a binding spell to hold it for deporting.” 

   “I'll tell Aggy,” Tenner said, “but I'm pretty sure we already have that spell. Thing is we have one of our own that we like better.” 

   “How many trolls does it bind?” I asked. 

   “Ours is four, maybe five. Up in Greater Elvenstead it's probably about three. But binding magic tends to come undone if there's too many and a lot of resistance. Ours just lasts longer.”  

   I nodded. I wondered how many Zingellawabix could bind. Dredung, the Well of Evil must be equal to a lot of trolls. Rover and I ran back to the meadow, warning everyone we encountered about the trolls. Many asked if we had guns to sell. 

Eleven: Rumors of war - - - - - - - 

   The trolls marched out that next morning, but they seemed to get bogged down in the swamp. We were surprised, watching them advance as so many of these brutish beasts got stuck in what was no longer a terribly malignant swamp. But they were floundering, waving their arms frantically as they toppled over into the murk. The ones that got through seemed dispirited and confused. 

   “These are not Joten trolls,” Aggy observed, as we watched a couple bound trolls being carted to the troll deportation center. “They are unfocused and poorly coordinated. I almost feel sorry for them, I mean they won't survive long in Joten's harsh environment. I wonder who made them?” 

   “We're getting reports of some sort of mad doctor, Captain, hiring a bunch of dark elves out of Elvenstead's lower south side,” Jant told us. She's been getting all the news from Greater Elvenstead and keeping me informed. “Sounds a little like the Mad Doctor Snarkey, if you ask me,” she opined. “Also there's reports that the nefarious Brad Puffup has been selling interests in a troll army . . .” 

   “Sounds like he's profiting from fear and greed,” I interrupted. “He gets greedy investors to build the troll army which scares the people who then buy his guns. That's a darn nefarious scheme,” I said, angrily. 

   “I know what you're going to ask,” Jant said. “And yes, Brad Puffup has disappeared. According to Bradco's press releases he's been abducted by a band of orcs.”   

   “Hmmm,” I thought. “I'll bet Brad's leading a band of orcs, not being abducted by them and I'll bet they're headed south right now, headed toward us, to assist the troll's invasion that seems to be floundering.”   

   “This is not good news,” Aggy observed. “So now we gotta face orcs? Darn. Well, at least the trolls have been incompetent so far. I better get back to Witchhaven.” Aggy had been going back and forth between Witchhaven and the meadow to coordinate our efforts. Orcs were another thing I didn't have experience with. 

   After she left, we could only wait to see what transpired. “I think the guns might work better on orcs,” Rover stated. “I mean, they aren't much good against trolls who are just brainless machines really, tools of their master.” 

   “But orcs are really bad, nasty people who just weren't quite ambitious enough to become Grimn-Leapers,” Spike told us. 

   “Which means, as I understand it,” Rover continued, “that orcs aren't surrounded by magical shields the way the Grimn-Leapers are.” 

   “Is all this true?” I asked. 

   “Near as I can tell, from what I've learned over the years,” Spike answered. 

   “From what I've heard too,” Rover agreed. 

   “So orcs are creatures of raw anger who use whatever they can get their hands on to attack and destroy, while trolls are creatures of mindless hate, that just lumber along, breaking everything they encounter indiscriminately,” I said, trying to sum it up.        

   “Yeah, except it's not that simple,” Spike began. 

   “It never is,” I sighed. “But can they be stopped by bullets?” I asked. 

   “Well, yeah, more'n likely,” Spike answered, without conviction. “Trolls just sort of absorb bullets and spears until they collapse from lack of fluids, while orcs are probably stopped cold, like any normal elf would be.” 

   “Well, I hope you're right,” I said, “'cause there's lots of bullets here waiting for them.” 

   Just then there was a commotion outside. We hurried out to hear an elf telling the people of the meadow that an orc army was coming toward them from the north. 

   “Our scouts claim the nefarious Brad Puffup is leading them.” There were boos and hisses at the sound of Brad's name. What a dastardly villain. “Curiously,” the elf continued, “the trolls that have made it out of the swamp are amassing to the north of us as well, having in their dazed and confused state, circumvented the farm entirely to avoid the Glamoury Wall. Apparently, it totally fooled them. They now are north and appear to be facing north.” The people were perplexed at this but managed a few cheers. 

   “Sounds like they got confused and forgot about the farm,” I suggested.  

   “That could be,” Rover agreed. 

   “We want to do some fly-overs, to check things out,” Brak told us. Jant was with him and they both held brooms. 

   “That's a good plan, especially for professional heroes like you two,” I answered. “Just be careful, huh?” They nodded agreement and with a thumbs up they were off. 

   I'd heard nothing from Zingellawabix and I wondered at that. 

   {Don't worry Rosy. The trolls are poorly made and I sense no immediate threat. Nonetheless, remain vigilant, things could change quickly.} 

   I felt a lot of relief at hearing that voice and getting that message. Thank you Zingellawabix, I thought gently. 

Twelve: War - - - - - - - 

   Just then Jant returned. “You won't believe this!” she exclaimed after landing her broom. “The trolls are fighting the orcs! And Brad Puffup is leading the orcs! He took off somewhere, hiding no doubt, because those trolls, even as messed up as they are, are giving the orcs a beating, last I saw. Brak is still there, watching.” 

   “That's amazing,” I said, happily stunned. “I never imagined this outcome.” 

   “We shouldn't assume that we're safe yet,” Spike cautioned. We all agreed and resumed our vigil. When we were quiet, we thought we could hear the sounds of the distant conflict, the shouted curses, the clack of swords, faintly, a long way off. Then somehow, they seemed closer. 

   Suddenly Brak appeared, landing his broom hurriedly. “Quick, get ready!” he shouted. “The trolls have defeated the orcs and have turned around. They are now headed this way!” We could hear the approaching brutes, lumbering through anything in their path. “They're battle-hardened berserkers!” Brak yelled, looking frantically around for weapons. 

   {It is time Rosy. Please hold me aloft that I may observe their approach.} 

   I carried Zingellawabix out of the Rivitir and into the meadow where I held him high while facing north. The sounds of the trolls approach were getting louder and I was shocked to see orcs coming from the side, led by Brad Puffup! Then the troll army appeared and I gasped because the mad Doctor Snarkey was at their head. I felt a moment of genuine fear, with a troll army in front and orcs to the side. Suddenly I felt a curious vibration in my arm and I could hear his song, quite loudly. 

   {Zzzziiiinnnngggg zziiiinnnngggg Zingellawabix zithra! Zithra! ZITHRA!} 

   With that last zithra the trolls stopped and began tightening their otherwise loose formation with the outliers joining in, squeezing in, all of them in and getting tighter and tighter until they all just froze in place like a giant ball of trolls, casting mystified glances all around but seemingly unable to move. The same thing happened to the orcs which I could now see had been attacking from both sides. Now there sat a mystified ball of orcs on either side. The Mad Doctor Snarkey and Brad Puffup were similarly bound, stuck together, glaring and screaming at each other. A smaller ball of brown weasels and dark elves sat in front of them, hissing and barking.  

   Thank you Zingellawabix! That was amazing! I thought, trying not to think right at him. 

   {It was my pleasure, Rosy. These are despicable beings that I've bound here. You would be wise to transport these two leaders and their weasels and dark elves to the Elvenstead constabulary to face justice. As to the trolls, I'm sure that the Mad Doctor Snarkey's machines can undo the troll process by sending them through in reverse. They are poor quality, but the innocent creatures who emerge should be alright. As to the orcs, they are merely Grimn-Leapers without the black magic and as such are profoundly evil. All you can do is deport them to Joten, from whence they sprang.} 

   Yes Zingellawabix, this is surely how it must be. Thank you again. I . . . I was feeling odd and stopped. 

   {I love you too Rosy. It is I why we work effectively together but as to how? Well, that appears to be another thing that is beyond my ken, for now.} 

   Rover's friends, Detective Inspector Gee and Sergeant Goat, came down from Elvenstead in a special police waggal to take Snarkey, Puffup and the weasels back to face hideous charges. Rover says he worked with DI Gee and Sgt. Goat once, but I had trouble seeing Rover as a police dog, even after the Inspector confirmed it. What an astonishing life Rover has had. And a very long one at that, so that I was becoming a little more accepting that he might actually be immortal, or at least really, really, really old, which is even more curious in that he acts like a young dog, even a puppy at times. 

   We had a celebration at Witchhaven which still makes me dizzy. What lovely people reside on this farm. Spike, who I actually do think is immortal, has resumed his mayoral duties while the witches keep the farm's magic strong. When all the trolls were cured, we dismantled the factory and the witches vowed to keep a closer eye on the swamp. Then we were ready to leave, with a new crew member, the wand Zingellawabix, our guardian. I saw Rover getting teary eyed and asked if he really wanted to go. He gave me a solemn look. 

   “I never want to go when it's time, Captain. I truly love everyone I spend time with, which is sort of a dog thing, I guess, but when it's time to move on, it's time.” He turned and headed toward the Rivitir. “If you're ready Captain, I've already charted a course.” 

   I smiled, knowing we'd soon be lost again, and followed him in.

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