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Deal 1069: Squeezing Oranges.

Beware the temptation to walk the long path that leads off from mere ire to outrage and thence into court. Advice that Gregory could have used, as unlikely as it is that he would have heeded it.

After all, the family orchards were at stake, and with them, the family’s honor.

The first blow had been the roadway that cut through the orchard. Over the century the family had owned these trees, they had seen the road grow from a rarely used cattle-trail to a country lane, and lately to a fully paved highway with several lanes in each direction occupied by travelers.

Along with the highway came the city. It was just a farming village when they first arrived in this valley. Time had seen the village grow with every decade. In the beginning they welcomed this growth as it increased the local market for their fruit. But at some point, as the town first became a city, its population had turned away from the local crop and used their newly completed highway to bring tanker-trucks of juice into town. Juice didn’t require peeling.

A span of time that long had seen fads and fashions come and go, usually without impact on their crop.

But now.

Now, their very existence was threatened.

Gregory signed the first demands himself, but they went unheeded. So along came the first lawyers. At first, the lawyer’s demands were more effective because of the implied threat. But once the threat moved from theory to practice, the legal costs had escalated madly.

At the beginning, Gregory was the wealthy and successful descendent of a century of farming, with hundreds of acres of trees in his care.

As he won his final victory in court, he was reduced to caring for the ten trees that surrounded his home. All the rest of the land having been sold to pay the legal fees.

Gregory was victorious.

And yet had also lost the very thing he sought so hard to guard.

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Deal 1042: Gwen doesn’t have cats?

I’m hopeful for the first time in many years. Sydney is turning out to be an apt pupil, often needing little more than a hint that something might be possible for him to do for him to go off on his own and discover how to do it. This is much better than my last two pupils, both of which died messily after running off too soon.

He still needs to work on his focus. He is rather apt to be distracted by irrelevant details.

Of course, sometimes those details show him an unexpected solution to a problem. The unsolvable hedge maze he was in yesterday was supposed to teach him that humility is not always a weakness by forcing him to acknowledge that he had no solution and was actually trapped. Then he found a way out that wasn’t there.

He claimed he followed a cat that had wandered in for a drink. But as far as I know, there are no cats in my estate. The pesky things seem to find me hard to deal with. I may need to revise that, however, and wonder if there are cats that are simply better at avoiding me than I realized was possible.

That makes the third time that Sydney has found an impossible solution to a problem. He may simply be lucky beyond reason. Or maybe he really is smarter, and can see the weakness in situations that I had thought were unassailable. When prodded about that he tends to go off on long discussions of why you shouldn’t trust your own failure to break your own code or solve your own puzzles.

Raven has been by. We are running out of time. I hope Sydney will be ready in time. I didn’t let Sydney and Raven meet this time. There will be time enough for that after he’s done here. I can only tolerate the trickster in small doses as it is. I don’t need him poaching my student as an acolyte.

So, tomorrow we will see what he does with the golden apple, and then it is on to the real quest. If he lives, that is.

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Deal 960: Path less travelled to fairy

I took the fabled path less travelled. This always works out well for the poet. But in the real world, the well trod path leads somewhere people want or need to be. The other path, not so much.

I had my reasons for travelling, and at the moment I made the turn, taking a path where I might not be followed or expected made a lot of sense. If I had just noticed the Fairy Ring it lead me through before it was too late, all this might be different.

Of course, if wishes were fishes, as they say.

Instead, my first clue something was no longer normal was stepping out of a muddy spring day into a crisp, cold winter’s night. The sky was clear, but it was well below freezing and there was a substantial amount of drifted snow. In the distance I could see a well appointed campsite with a large fire and figures dancing to tunes coming from a well cranked gramophone.

I looked behind me, just in time to see the window to that muddy spring day flicker and evaporate like a will-o-wisp.

I was committed to this path now.

I made my way down into the valley, where the snow drifts to either side of the narrow trail were often well over my head. The path crested enough small ridges on the way down to assure me it went somewhere. Whether that was somewhere I wanted to be remained to be seen.

Of course, before my unexpected change of seasons it was all out war from horizon to horizon, and that was no place for me to be.

I decided to simply embrace my fates, and put my best foot forward. With a new sense of resolve and hope for my future, I made my way down to the camp.

It was only much later that the nature of my mistake became clear.