Deal 1051: Answers lead to more questions.

Yes dragons do dream, no I don’t have a cat, and yes I’m terrified by what happened the other day. Something caught us, entrapped us, and then left us to wonder what it might have done to us. That is hardly something I should allow to happen to me or to my pupil. I have my ways of knowing that nothing happened directly to either my or Sydney during those missing hours, except for the fact that the hours are missing. And of course, I am reasonably sure that what did happen in that interval is not something I would want to have happened.

I detest alarms, necessary though they are, and that may have been a weakness that was exploitable. My habits are reasonably well known, and in the past have not proved to be a problem.

That sword of Syd’s bothers me some too. I’ve asked him about it. “Where did that sword come from?”

He simply said “I made it.”

Which puzzles me greatly because I can tell that he is telling the truth as he knows it to be true, and without any hints or colors of subterfuge. And yet, that sword is much more powerful than any magic he overtly knows how to wield. It positively reeks of magic.

“We have to explore what your sword can do. I don’t understand what happened, and you don’t understand its full power. Tell me again about how it came to be in your possession?”

He studied me for a minute, then spoke at some length. “I said before that I made it. That is true. But I didn’t make it here, I made it before. I put a lot of effort into its making, but almost none of that effort was devoted to making it good at the things a sword is supposed to actually do. In most senses it is not a real sword, but rather a prop or a toy. I formed all of it from lightweight materials that I could work in my apartment, at my kitchen table. The handle is the most real, as it needed to hold up to actual handling. I made it from a carved block of wood, into which I cut channels to inset buttons and wires to control its showier functions. The buttons form a kind of keyboard concealed under the leather wrapping that can be actuated while the sword is in a natural grip. The pommel conceals a power switch for the whole thing, and a battery compartment.”

This was more than he’d said previously, and hinted at powers he hadn’t acknowledged before. But I let him continue before asking about some of the words that had no meaning here, or meanings that did not fit his usage. One wouldn’t expect to fit a ship’s battery into a “compartment” in the handle of a sword, so “battery” had to mean something different to him.

He continued “The blade was the most work. It is made mostly from plastic that I cut to shape, bent with a torch, and formed into the shape of a blade. I concealed lights and wiring along its length, and a processor to control the lights, a haptic feedback motor, some other sensors, and similar features. When requested by my fingering on the grip, it runs several pre-programmed sequences of lights and sounds. One of the programs paints images in the air when the sword is waved. Flashy effects that in my home would have no real or lasting effect. One thing I did not do was make the blade sharp. I suppose it could leave a bruise if deliberately struck, but it cannot cut.”

Now I had to ask. “If it isn’t useful, what was it for?”

“I play games where we dress up and act out fantasy. That is what I expected to go do when I fell into this world, which is why I had the sword and my other toys with me that morning.”

“You put a lot of effort into making a toy.”

“Well, yes, I suppose I did. Many a bottle of fine beer was consumed while I formed it and designed its flashier effects. But that is what I do as a hobby. I make things like this, and use them in the games. I am notorious for making things that look like they could be magical, without magic wield. We don’t have magic where I come from. But we do have technology, and that is what I used.”

“What other bits of your technology came with you?”

“A communications device that is mostly useless here, as nearly everything it does requires other things that are commonplace at home, but entirely missing here. Even its basic ability to carry my voice a great distance and hold a conversation with someone far away cannot work without a network of supporting equipment. About the only functions that could work here are its camera and media players, but then only if I can restore its battery’s charge. At home, I would just plug it into an electric outlet. I haven’t seen anything like that here.”

ALmost none of that made sense to me. “I don’t understand most of those words, I’m hearing that you have a difficult to build shiny block, but not that it is useful.”

“That seems fair. Without electricity, it is just a poor quality mirror. Of course…”


“Well, the sword shouldn’t be able to do much here without electricity. And yet, it still flashes lights, emits smoke, makes noises, and more. I should have needed to charge it or replace the batteries by now.”

This was leading only to more questions. “So you brought toys not weapons, and the knowledge to make more like them. But although here they appear to be magical, you insist they are only technology. And not even dangerous aside from their flash and distraction.”

“That about sums it up, yes.”

“Show me something the sword does. We have a practice dummy. Do something to it.”

“All right, let’s see what I can do.”

He stretched then drew the sword and made a few flourishes. The blade flashed, then left a trail of lights in the air behind it as he brought it down in a sharp motion pointing at the dummy across the field.

The dummy exploded.

Sydney stood, dumbfounded.

“Well, my pupil, you have indeed brought a tool of power with you.”

“But it can’t do anything remotely like that at home!”

“What did you expect to happen?”

“Just a projected light. If the dummy had been wearing the usual game equipment, it would have felt a shock, and known I had scored a hit. It would have reacted appropriately to that, perhaps no longer using one arm, or if hit as strongly as I did today, falling over as if dead. But it is only a game, nothing about it could have blown the other player to bits.”

“This is not your home.” He had said that, of course. But it had never been so obviously true. “Things may work differently here. You need to try everything you built the sword to do and find out how it acts here. But safely, please.”

“No, I am not in Kansas anymore. I was pretty sure of that when I first heard a cat muttering at me.”

In the bushes, I failed to notice the annoying cat watching and thinking.


Deal 1022: Double Nonnet for Sallis

Man of depths unfathomed, still unplumbed
Optimist, attacks mystery
Rocket or sheepwash, it works
Ever faithful Gromit
Constructed at home
Hotpot and tea
Even space
Gaffer and
Rescuer all
Overcoming odds
Muddling through everything
Indeed, but not as yet love
Totty, Wendy, Piella, gone.
Wensleydale preferred over the moon


Deal 963: Cats and Pants

That trickster bird will be the death of me yet.

There was beer involved. Perhaps more beer than was reasonable, but it certainly seemed like a good idea at the time. Which might have been the bird’s influence. At least that is what I’d like to think.

Most of the time I’m too much of a gentleman to be tempted by this sort of thing. But this time I was vulnerable. Then the bird showed up and dropped some choice words in my ear. And like a fool, instead of running away from a talking bird, I listened. And then had another beer.

Then somehow it seemed logical to try the karaoke machine. That should have been a clue that there was already too much beer involved. Damn bird again, I suspect.

At some point it became urgent to find some privacy. And that is when the cat got involved. Next thing I knew, my pants were around my ankles, a cat was laughing at me, and I was tipping head first into the oubliette.

I always knew that somehow cats and pants would be my undoing.

I just never knew how. Or that some bird would be egging the cat on the whole time.


Deal 894: Watching

As the roar of the pub brawl rose, it seemed as if a bubble of calm formed around me. It was as if the noise of the melee just slipped past me without noticing.

Only a short while earlier, it all started as a typical night in the pub.

The knights were at their usual table, comparing the lengths of their swords.

The cutpurses were trying to be inconspicuous as long as the knights were still sober.

The bard was only on his second beer, so his songs were not up to his peak abilities.

The barmaids were delivering steins of luke-warm beer as fast as they could draw them.

And then it happened.

Someone said something unforgivable. I never heard what, who said it, or to whom.

The first punch might have gone unremarked, if it weren’t made with a fist full of darts. The second punch included a barstool. The current occupant of the stool objected to being used as a blunt instrument, and started to speak their mind, somewhat bluntly. And without any concern for how many factions were in the room.

Me, I did the only thing I could do. I sat here and watched. You might say, it is what I do. I’m a watcher. But not much of a listener, since me head is entirely filled with cotton wool. I didn’t see it begin, but I had a front row seat as it flashed from a simple spat over honor to a full-scale brawl.

I am what I am, and it is my fate to simply watch.

And watch, as that lantern comes right at me.

And watch, as the lamp oil splashes and sets my stuffing on fire.

I guess it was my fate to be involved after all.