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Artwork by Arthur Rackham - public domain


Sweet Mary
by Larry Heyl


Sweet Mary was born in the spring. Her parents were well off and unconventional. Which in itself was strange because Mary was quite conventional. She occupied herself with being a very normal baby until Christmas. Even though she was only nine months old when Kris Kringle came she got a big sparkle in her eye and you could see joy radiate from her and light the room. She was brighter than the tree.


As she grew she remained very conventional. She would read, draw, and walk in the forest. And when Christmas came each year Kris Kringle brought her books, paper, charcoal, crayons, and walking boots. It wasn’t the presents that made her glow. She just loved Christmas in an extraordinary way. It is normal for children to love Christmas but for Sweet Mary her joy of Christmas was unconventionally exuberant.


And so Mary would walk in the woods, reading and drawing, and the years drifted by. Until one fall, at the top of the hill, she found a fairy circle of big beautiful mushrooms and unknowingly she walked through it. She made friends in Feyland, Puck, Took, and Willow. For fairies they were still young and the four of them would romp through the woods playing fairy games almost as if Sweet Mary belonged there. But she loved her parents very much and after a few hours she would always go home. She was still conventional enough not to eat between meals so she could always find the fairy circle and the path back to her house. When she greeted her parents she had that sparkle in her eye they had only seen at Christmas and they very much approved. They quickly grew used to her radiating joy after returning from her walks in the woods.


Then one year she grew up, as girls do, and in the fall when she found the fairy circle she was a maid, even though she didn’t really know what that meant yet. Puck, Took, and Willow knew what it meant and since they were in Feyland it wasn’t long before they were enjoying themselves as fairies do for fairies have no thought for the future and no concerns about morality, they live and love in the present moment only concerned about their own pleasure and enjoyment.


And Mary in Feyland was the same. Conventional no more she also lived for pleasure in the present and greatly enjoyed Puck, Took, and Willow.


When she came home for supper her glow would light the room. Her parents could see she had changed but they were unconventional and left Mary to her pursuits. Mary said nothing of her time in Feyland to her parents. It was her secret.


But when winter came and the fairy circle was gone and her belly began to swell it could be a secret no more. Her mother loved her very much and took her into her confidence explaining the ways of the world to Sweet Mary. But she did not ask after the father because she feared if they found the father he would soon become a husband and take Sweet Mary away. And Mary did not talk about the father either, whether Puck or Took she did not know, and she certainly did not know how do explain her time in Feyland.


In early summer the babe was born and it was a good thing Mary’s parents were unconventional because little Pookie was clearly fey. Her parents were well aware of the dangers of raising a fey child and so they set up all night, every night, taking watches, so the fairies could not steal the babe away. And Sweet Mary, with a babe at her breast forego her trips through the fairy circle, perhaps Puck, Took, and Willow missed her, perhaps not.


In fact, her parents were well pleased with their grandchild. They were unconventional and aware of the fey blood in their own ancestry, weak as it was. They married each other to preserve their heritage and were glad for the fresh infusion of fey blood into their family line. And they were overjoyed when they set up the tree and the babe just smiled and giggled, loving the Christmas spectacle.


So when little Pookie was three and safe from abduction they encouraged Mary to go back to the woods where she once again walked through the fairy circle. Puck, Took, and Willow were most pleased to see her and Sweet Mary once more enjoyed afternoons full of pleasure and companionship. But she said nothing of little Pookie. She had learned, in her life, to keep secrets.

hairylarry
by Larry Heyl

"For a while there the universe was clockwork. All cause and effect. Every action had an equal and opposite reaction."

Dr. Shengwei was lecturing his class. Physics 101. He hadn't started in on the math yet.

"But the more we tried to describe the more complicated the descriptions became. The systems outpaced our equations. We could no longer make valid predictions. Since we saw chaos we described it as chaos. Chaos Theory became the new thing. But it was more of an excuse for why our predictions were failing than a way to make predictions."

"Is the universe clockwork and completely predictable? Or is it a chaotic mess with no prediction possible? Or is it both? 'It can't be both!' you say. But we are looking through the eyes of man. Maybe the human mind is the limitation here. Maybe in the eye of God chaos is simple."

He could tell he was starting to lose them. He could see the big question forming behind their eyes. What does God have to do with physics? They were expecting math but they were getting theology. Einstein said, "God does not play dice with the universe". The students were getting anxious. Uncomfortable. He would have to start on the math soon. Then they would wish he was still talking about God.

"Godel proved that in any formal system complex enough to describe itself, even systems as simple as axiomatic algebra, There would be statements that can't be proven or disproven and statements that hadn't yet been proven or disproven. Godel also showed that there was no way to distinguish between the two. Only God would know whether a statement that hadn't been proven could be proved or not. At least until a man or woman could prove or disprove it."

Dr Shengwei turned to the board and started in on the math. When he looked out at the class the uncertaintly and anxiety was gone. This was what they had been expecting. Now the uncertainty and anxiety was replaced with confusion.

Behind every pair of eyes there was a chaotic system known as a human brain. Was the human brain essentially chaotic or was it only chaotic as perceived by the human brain? In the eye of God even the human brain is simple.


---


Originally published at SFF Short Stories


sffshortstories.com/?x=entry:entry190109-101203


I just turned this into a Mini Zine.


hairylarry



Elphonium by INDRIKoff from Deviantart
used with permission

This painting was the inspiration for this story. I saw it on Tumblr and followed the link path to Deviantart. Thanks to INDRIKoff for painting this remarkable image.


Elphonium
by Larry Heyl

The King was bored. The King was restless. Peaceful times were great for his Kingdom. His subjects were happy and hearty. Trade flourished. But the King … was bored.

He thought of calling his musicians with their lyres and flutes but lately all their tunes sounded the same. Even his fool’s raunchy jokes failed to amuse. He would rather saddle his horse and ride.

That’s it. He would ride. A real ride. Just the King, his fool, and his groom. Not a ride to somewhere. Just a ride. He had purpose. A purposeless ride.

The King moved. “Come Fool.”, he bawled, “We ride.”

Somehow the groom already knew. Gossip in the castle travels faster than thought. When the King and his fool arrived at the stables the groom was ready. Three good horses saddled and prancing. They were a sight for sore eyes. The King, his fool, and his groom mounted and rode.

They stepped lightly across the drawbridge and quickly broke into a canter, the King in the lead. He hadn’t gone a quarter mile before he veered off onto a lightly used path into the woods. They slowed and the King let his horse pick the trail. Sometimes the path disappeared but his horse had a sense of direction beyond human abilities. When the trail forked his horse knew which way to go. The fool and the groom followed behind without effort. Their horses followed the King’s horse. The King gave his horse his head.

The forest changed. It was now more open. Lighter. Brighter. The leaves on the trees shimmered. The grass waved in the breeze as if begging to be trod on. The horses slowed to a walk, a slow walk, somehow barely moving. And then they heard the music.

It was like nothing they had ever heard before. A sweet plaintive sound, sometimes like an oboe and sometimes like a flute but always changing. Music without thought, apparently without direction. But somehow it always seemed to get there. The phrases morphing into each other, one after the other, drawing them in.

They came to a clearing and under a pear tree standing alone they saw an elfin princess blowing a horn beyond description. Not a horn with one bell. Not a horn with one sound. Many bells. Each with it’s own sound. And the horn was not separate from the elfin princess. Somehow it grew right out of her. And the music flowed right out of her too. Tumbling through their minds like a river tumbles through the valley.

They dismounted and the groom tended the horses. He didn’t have to tie them. They weren’t going anywhere.

The groom brought a sack of wine from his saddlebags and they all three drank and listened to the music. But they didn’t get drunk. They drank so slowly, sip by sip, the wine enhancing their senses, carrying them deeper and deeper into the music.

Other elves appeared, charming fellows but none as beautiful as the elphin princess. The King noticed other mouthpieces on the horn. Soon the other elves were playing too, each on their own mouthpiece. Each creating countermelodies out of one of the bells.

The music became denser with bass patterns underlying harmonies underlying the ever changing melodies played by the elphin princess. The King, his fool, and his groom stood their entranced. Slowly sipping wine. Captured by the music.

And then the faeries came. A dozen, then a hundred, dancing out of the woods. Soon the King, his fool, and his groom were surrounded by hundreds of faeries dancing naked in the meadow. The fool wanted to make a raunchy joke but his mouth wouldn’t make the sounds. His lips wouldn’t speak.

The sun set. The moon rose. The King joined the dance. The moon, high in the sky, looked down on the three of them dancing with the faeries, thoroughly ensorceled.

And what a night it was dancing naked in the clearing with the faeries. It was better than the hunt. Better than battle. Better than life itself. Just the music, the dancing, the faeries, the elves, the elphin princess, and the horn.

As the moon set the faeries danced off. The wine was finally gone. The music wound down. Softer, slower. And they slept.

They awoke after dawn, under the pear tree, still naked, not another soul in sight. Their horses nickered standing at the edge of the clearing. They dressed. They mounted. They rode.

It seemed like only minutes and they were back at the castle. The King’s subjects shouted “Hurrah! the King is back! Hurrah!”

They were lucky.

Only a year had passed.


The story “Elphonium” by Larry Heyl is CC-BY.

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  • Nov 25
  • ncat:

    This heres a small attempt at trying to bring a more 3.5e esque casting system to 5e. Its mostly experimental here, but I think it turned out to be a fun subclass.

    But yeah, its sorta a 1|1/3rd caster, gaining the regular spells of a wizard plus a few extra lower level spells per day, with the downside being those spells use vancian casting.

    I might re-use this system for something else in the future at some point, probably for a full class or variant spellcasting system, like the Spell Points in the DMG.

    Nov 25


  • mythmaker5e:

    Spice up combat with this food themed spell 🌶

    Nov 25


  • caeora:

    Hello all!

    This is the free pack for the Rustic Furniture assets 2! Containing 26 assets all ready to go and use to make an awesome looking house or building in your TTRPG games!

    In the complete pack of the assets, you will find over 130+ assets, many are combinations of the assets I made last week but there are also a bunch of new assets that people requested, including tankards, glasses, wine bottles, rubbish, bowls etc!

    With the combined assets, like the setup tables you should be able to make an interesting room super quickly without having to place down each asset! If I do more packs in the future I think having these options is invaluable for creating maps and encounters quickly so I will definitely do more :) 

    This pack is available for free over on patreon!

    We had caeora as a guest on Inspired Unreality.

    Nov 25


  • angela-maps:

    Compete to be the best at the Holiday tournament. Jousting, archery, sword fighting! Or grab a cup of warm mulled wine and enjoy watching the competition.

    I LOVE the Riyria book series, so when I started making a tournament map, my mind kept coming back to the Wintertide tournament in book 5. And I decided I needed to do a snowy version for a holiday tournament 🙂 You can get this free on http://AngelaMaps.com with a small logo.

    There is also a summer version and night versions available, as well as the Foundry VTT and Fantasy Grounds versions on my Patreon.

    FREE MAPS: http://AngelaMaps.com

    PATREON: http://Patreon.com/angelamaps

    #riyria #battlemap #encountermap #fantasymap #worldbuilding #dnd #dndmaps #pathfinder #fantasyrpg #roll20 #fantasygrounds #angelamaps #inkarnate #foundryvtt #dndhomebrew #criticalrole #dungeonsanddragons #dungeonmaster #patreon #dungeonsanddragonsart #dmsguild #critters #cr #dndillustration #critrole #tabletoprpg #dndstories #ttrpg
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CWVExd1sW__/?utm_medium=tumblr

    Nov 25
  • thunderpowered:

    A couple cards from this year’s swordtember! Doing this deck is part of the reason I did multiple weapon types this year.

    Nov 25

 

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