In 2019, the book now begins by introducing two Elves from “The Realm.” This scene was formerly found in Chapter 7. Unlike most chapters, this one does not have a narrator.

Beyond the Gossamer Veil

Septimus Sitwell clapped his hands to his head and moaned! “By Varda’s Panties! Another migraine! Who in the human world just poured themselves a kundalini cocktail?”

Fortunately there was no one to hear him, as his blasphemous outburst would have caused his brethren to compose lengthy songs of sorrow asking forgiveness of Varda, the most Blessed Lady of the Stars. Septimus was alone, as usual. Elven Hermits generally are, except of course during weekly swap meets, jam making, wine guzzling, tea drinking, tabletop role play games, and Management of Immortal Melancholy classes. His fingernails were trimmed and buffed, his beard was like a film of sheer silk on his chin and cheeks, and he wore shiny black patent leather lederhosen with black and white wide-striped tights, spike heels, and a tight, sheer black t-shirt. All human-made contraband of course. Septimus had connections. And abilities.

The cost, however, was steep. It took a lot of concentration (as well as the correct use of The Book of Moons and the Alchemy of Time/Space) to tease and coax the molecules of human artifacts into the Realm and then to reassemble them correctly. Septimus never forgot the time he summoned a liposuction machine (which were all the fey rage that year—please don’t ask why) but ended up with a used diaphragm (in its case) and a copy of SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas. Sure, there are collectors who pay well for Flotsam of Spontaneous Provenance and Septimus easily found a buyer, but still, such a disappointment!

But, that’s what Elven Hermits do, don’t they? Summon stuff from other realms and hope
to Tulkas it comes out right on the other side. There are worse jobs.

However, unlike his brother Gingevus, Septimus suffered from a chronic case of spillover from the Mortal Coil. He experienced sensations and thoughtforms from various humans who leaked the contents of their unconscious into his porous mind. He hated it when they did tantra or watched pro wrestling. Both gave him headaches.

“Oh well, ‘what’s the use of robbery when nothing is worth taking?’” Septimus said to himself. He didn’t know what this meant, exactly, but it was one of those mortal spillover phrases and he kind of liked the sound of it. And the sound had a flavor. He liked that too.

He closed his eyes, hoping to ease the pounding pain in his temples but this was not a day that would prove restful. Within moments there was a loud rap on the door, a sharp sound muffled by white gloves. His eyes flew open. The sound had a flavor but the texture was wrong.

Septimus sighed, “Enter. Do.” Another sigh.

Breadcrumb tiptoed in, as if with delicate compassion—as Septimus was clearly wincing in pain—but ruined the effect by putting her white-gloved hands on her hips and glaring at his shoes.

“You said you were getting moccasins.”

“I know what I said. And this is what I got. Are you here to talk about my sole? If so, it can wait.” He sighed again.

Breadcrumb (sometimes known as “the Wee One”) was a slender, willowy Elf maiden, just like in the books. But she’d recently spurned traditional velvets and silks for neo-vaudevillian clown togs. Another Hermit (an apprentice, not yet of the Guild) had mistakenly summoned a suitcase that proved to be a game-changing Pandora’s box of fashion. It contained a dozen pairs of black and white wide striped tights (Septimus scored a pair. I told you he had connections), several pairs of white gloves, soft red noses, a black and white striped suit, a red wig, and a jar of sticky, clown white makeup. These items, plus several autographed photos of a punk clown band, had created a sensation in the Faerie Realm’s underground. Breadcrumb had been quick to rock the clown vibe and now everyone wanted to be her. She had curled and teased her fawn colored hair and tinted the ends with elderberries and moss. She wore a black bowler hat, white pearl powder on her face, and painted her lips and the tip of her nose with a pigment made of crushed rubies and rose petals. The imported black and white striped leggings and white gloves, and a small striped tunic of spider silk (of local origin), completed her look. Her feet, however, were bare. Her toes twinkled with enchantment.

She’s probably here because she wants something she can’t get on her own, Septimus thought. And like most of my people, puns go over her head.

“Sit down, dear. You’re hurting my headache.”

Breadcrumb wanted to do something daring and clownish but she couldn’t think what. Besides, he’d told her to sit. She sat.

And sat. Like most Elves, she could also be very literal. Septimus waited for her to say something, then realized he’d have to ask her to speak up.

“Yes, dear, what can I do for you?”

Breadcrumb was staring at his shoes. “I think I’d like those.” She looked up, hopefully.

“I’m not sure they’ll fit your dainty feet. But you can try if you like.” He handed the heels
to her. As he’d thought, two sizes too big.

“But clowns have big shoes,” she said, disappointment dimming her glamour.

“Clown shoes are specially made. But you didn’t come here because I had a new pair of heels.” Septimus retrieved his shoes.

“Oh. Yes. I came because there’s a ‘Disturbance in the Force.’ And Papa told me to tell you.” She tried a fetching wink. It didn’t quite come off.

“A disturbance in the force.” Another spillover phrase. Its flavor was…menacing. Like radishes dipped in nightshade and force fed to crickets.

“I guess we’ll have to call a Moon,” Septimus sighed again. “But my head is throbbing. Do you think you could let Indigo know? Indigo will tell the rest.”

Breadcrumb stretched and did a little shimmy. She winked, “Okay, Septi, will do,” and skipped out the door.

There was a time, Septimus thought, that our Moons were bold and full of purpose. There was a time when our human companions sheltered us from forceful disturbances and in so doing, some grew ripe with ritual and determination. Some even learned to push molecules through the thin places, using the Alchemy of Time/Space. Septimus sighed, then closed his eyes and slumbered at last, dreaming his headache away…dreaming of jam.

[END OF CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT]

Copyright A. Marsh January 2019.