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Deal 1076: Mystic Reborn

The mystic spread the cards before him, then became visibly troubled. He turned to a glossy black device, turned it this way and that, and seemed to be peering into its depths. Occasionally he turned back to the cards as he worked. Finally, he set the devices down and turned back to his client.

She was a typical client, young and unsure of her place in the world. It should be easy to craft a reading for her that covered the obvious topics of love both present and future. But while that might be what she asked for, he knew it wasn’t what she really needed.

He sensed in her an echo of his own gift.

She needed to be woke to her inner vision so she could help others. The number of workers with the true vision was dwindling in this age of reason.

So he picked up the black shiny disk and hung it in the air between them, and set it spinning.

She looked on in surprise. This was definitely not how these things normally proceeded. The black disk spun faster, then began to glow. Staring intently at it seemed unwise, and yet compelling. As she stared, she realized it was not simply glowing, but was painting with light inside the volume it swept out before her. She couldn’t quite make out what the lights were saying.

But they seemed to awaken something inside her.

Suddenly, she understood what was happening before her, and to her. And she smiled. She knew this was a gift she could never return. She also knew she had her work cut out for her.

The whole world of possibilities opened for her as her inner sight came to light.

And suddenly those minor romantic problems fell away as unimportant.

And the world gained a new, fledgling mystic.

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Deal 1074: Barber-Frog Quartet

At first there was one resonating through the night, bold and strong taking the lead. Then a second joined in, followed swiftly by at least two more.

The singing was unsure at first, but swiftly fell into a pattern that was more familiar than chaotic as the voices warmed to their task.

As the night wore on, they would sometimes pause. Sure, individual voices had come and gone from the chorus. But once in a while all the voice would fall silent together. It made their return, often in unison, all the more surprising.

“Bud”

“Weizzz”

“Zzer”

“Bud.”

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Deal 1035: Meta dream worlds

In his dream, Sydney watched himself dream.

The dream of the orchard where he lay was clear and intense. The trees were inviting, one in particular seemed to positively glow. On that tree, one apple was glowing. After considering it for five minutes, he picked it, took two bites, and fell into a deep sleep.

He dreamed a dream of dreaming.

He dreamed he was standing in a magical orchard, holding a glowing axe. The head seemed eager for him to walk amongst the trees, and pulled him towards a particularly old tree that glowed faintly like all the rest of the trees. Except for a single limb that was black at its tip, with some sort of creeping sickness working its way up the branch toward the trunk. He understood that chopping off the dying branch to save the healthy tree was necessary.

He swung the axe with all his strength, removing a small chip from the bark at the base of the branch. The blackness moved a little closer. He swung again, the black moved again. He settled into a rhythm, taking chips out of the branch on both sides and from below with each blow. Finally after he had weakened it enough, he began to cut into the top side of the branch. It began to feel like it was going to be a close thing. Could he sever the branch before the black reached where he was cutting?

A final blow brought the now nearly completely blackened branch down.

He knew it needed to be burned to prevent the infection from spreading to the other trees. He also knew he shouldn’t handle the blackened areas himself, and that cutting into the black area with the axe might spread contaminated chips and make containment even more difficult. He surveyed the area and spotted a fire pit nearby with a fire set and ready to light. He lit it with a thought and gesture, and let the blaze become established as he worked out how to drag the branch to the fire without touching the black areas.

Finally, he fed the blackened branch into the fire.

As it burned, the flames changed colors wildly. He could almost see the disease burning up, and fighting for its survival the whole time.

Watching the flames was somewhat hypnotic, and he drifted off into a trance.

He dreamed a dream of dreaming a dream.

He was dressed in typical business day casual, and sitting in a large office, at the desk. In the distance, an old fashioned crank wound gramophone was sitting, and playing The Liberty Bell in vibrant but scratchy tones.

The music was soothing, and soon he drifted off into a nap.

He dreamed a dream of dreaming of dreaming of dreaming….

Sydney is caught in a different and more insidious loop.

Will he escape?

Will he be sane?

Is he actually dreaming the whole thing from an old warehouse in LA?

He has no idea.

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Deal 1032: Real or not?

Sydney was the most sure about anything since he landed in this strange world. The girl sitting with him was somehow also the dragon that had blocked his travels and invited him to meet her in the garden for tea. There was tea. There was an unexpected lack of dragon. He could do the math. He could also tell that there was definitely a wrong way to broach the subject.

“I’m Sydney, and I’m sure you know that already. The tea is welcome.”

Gwen nodded. He might be off to a good start. “It is, especially on a pleasant day.”

She wasn’t going to admit anything quickly, that was clear. He looked around at the formal garden, but was drawn back to her eyes. There was an aura about them. About her, really. If he looked closer, the aura extended off into the distance and developed wings and a tail. He’d never noticed that effect before. He counted to three in his head. “I really have no idea what is going on here. I’m seeing things I never could see back home. I’m doing things that I’ve never done. I’m worried a little that I’m enjoying it too much and that if offered a way home I might turn away from it.”

“Do you have friends and family who are wondering where you are?”

“Not too many. Just a few online connections, but not many that I’d ever met in real life.”

She frowned a moment. “Is this real now?”

“I don’t know.” He paused, lost in thought. “I thought I did at first. I assumed the whole thing was some sort of technological trick that I’d unwittingly got involved in. But I’m less sure of that now.”

She smiled. “If it helps, I’m reasonably sure this is real.”

She puffed her cigar and sipped her tea.

“It helps. Thanks.”

“Well isn’t this cozy” croaked the frog.

Sydney jumped. Gwen blew a smoke ring that settled around the errant trickster and began to shrink to grip it. The frog leapt out just in the nick of time, glared at them, and hopped off to vanish under a rose-bush.