Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Lost And The Found Part 5: Pacific Portal

Nelony and Yirfir huddled under the tarp of one of the life rafts still asleep as a shaft of light bore through a hole and warmed Yirfir's face. She awoke with a start making Nelony jump from her slumber.

"For the love of... you could have been a little less conspicuous waking up you know!" Nelony said sharply yet quietly.

"I'm sorry but I think we may have slept a bit too long. It's after eleven." Yirfir responded.

"At least the sun is shining." Nelony said as she moved to the back of the boat to find the opening they'd pried the night before.

"Mootooh! Shelmetath?" Nelony asked aloud to a seagull perched on the handrail of the ship a few feet away.

The bird looked her way and then cawed twice.

"Didn't your Mother tell you never to talk to strange birds?" Yirfir asked Nelony.

"Mootooh is no stranger. Not now at least. She says the coast is clear." Nelony responded as she slipped out of the boat and carefully onto the deck of the ship.

Once Nelony was steady and sure they'd not been sighted, she stretched her hand out to Yirfir who accepted it. Nelony pulled Yirfir safely onto the deck and they proceeded to another point near the bow of the ship. They had a clear line of sight to the cargo hold, the gantry crane and bridge from their point with the sun nearly directly overhead.

"Now what?" Nelony asked Yirfir.

"That's the question of the day for certain. They've got everyone except Sato in the cargo containers. We can't risk contacting him without blowing his cover. They've certainly got a guard detail down in the cargo hold though we don't know their numbers." Yirfir explained to Nelony.

"Well we obviously need to open a line of communication with them. I don't think that Shaela is sensitive enough but Mila might be an ESPer. We know for certain that she's highly empathic, as evidenced by her paintings of the prisoners here. One of us might be able to create a link with her..." Nelony suggested to Yirfir who seemed somewhat skeptical.

"No. Too risky though when and if we're out of this we need to set up some training drills with that in mind. No we need a way to get them a message. To let them know we're safe and that we're maintaining contact with the Sanctum." Yirfir told her.

"I could get a bird or a rodent to carry a message. They're quite smart you know. A bird would be much better as they navigate by an internal magnetically sensitive organ. They'd be quite agile within the ship." Nelony once again suggested a solution.

"Sure that sounds good. But not Mootooh. A gull is much too big. We need one of the smaller variety." Yirfir replied.

Nelony turned to Mootooh who was still perched on a hand hold.

"Mootooh! Kakawratra sooky soo!" Nelony spoke to the gull.

It let forth a single caw and took to the air circling the ship. When it had spotted what it was looking for it dove and landed out of their sight.

"Let's hope we see Mootooh again?" Yirfir said looking again a little skeptical.

"Oh she'll be back. They're quite reliable. Most of the time." Nelony said of the gull.

A few minutes later a much smaller bird landed on the same hand hold. The bird was one of the larks that had nested aboard the ship having seen much of the ocean already. It tweeted happily for Nelony.

"Alright Meekwi, let's see if you can do this for us. Meekwi tet su bu si ki ku li bu ku ka ta ka!" Nelony said fluently for the little lark.

It chirped happily in response hopping a few times on the hand rail.

"Now we just need a message." Nelony said looking to Yirfir.

"Exactly what I've been doing." Yirfir handed Nelony a shelled peanut.

"Good thinking. They'll never suspect this if poor Meekwi gets caught. Let's hope he doesn't and that he doesn't get hungry and eat it." Nelony said examining the peanut.

"Here's one to give him as a treat just so as he doesn't." Yirfir responded pulling another peanut from her jacket.

The bird ate the peanut right from her hand leaving no traces of the nut. Nelony carefully fastened the peanut shell to the bird's leg.

"Meekwi. Bu di doo!" Nelony asked of the little lark.

It took to the air and down towards one of the ventilation ducts flying between the bars of the grate. It flew the length of the duct down into the cargo hold landing only twice to orient itself. A moment later if emerged from the duct work and flew close to the ceiling of cargo hold out of the sight of the armed guards.

Mila, Barris and Shaela had emerged from Mila's secret wall along with the other prisoners. Within they'd been fed a feast of the likes few of them had eaten in real life. There was a wading pool bath house and their dorms with canopied beds for all. They'd emerged well fed and rested ready for what the day might throw at them. The captives had gained an immense respect for Mila, Barris and Shaela now completely aware that they were there to help.

"Well honey, it looks like that went over without a hitch. I haven't eaten that good since you painted that still life feast. I still think that was better." Barris said rubbing her sides gently.

"That's because you're mistaking the feast for the dessert..." she said running her finger under his chin.

"You're the only two that I know who could make kidnapping and incarceration into a five star holiday experience. Would you two rub it out so that we may get on with the business of busting these traffickers!" Shaela said to them impatiently.

"We've only got half of the picture so far..." Mila started.

"She's right. There's still too much that we don't know that is needed for us to act upon. It has to stand up in courts. Not Sanctum courts but in the judicial system of the world courts." Barris said reminding Shaela whose impatience had arisen with their small confines.

"Yirfir and Jasmer are supposed to be on that angle." Shaela shot back.

"They're in the other container. Likely where Nelony is. Once we get word about the other shipment or the missing freighter, we're going to act. Until then we sit tight and try not to raise suspicions." Mila reminded Shaela.

"We have another problem that I waited to tell you. I wanted to talk about it with Nelony or Yirfir." Shaela said to Mila.

"Oh so suddenly I'm not good enough for you Shaela? You can trust them but you can't trust me? Well go ahead. What were you going to say." Mila said to Shaela impatiently.

"I'm beginning to suspect that two of the passengers aboard are spies for the Power Lords. There's something strange that I detected in two passengers. Something I've never seen in all my life at the Sanctum or any of the other planes of existence. It's in their auras. Its something... unnatural..." Shaela advised Mila.

"What do you mean unnatural?" Mila asked with a look of concern.

"I mean they've got the auras of top notch wielders of weave. They're attuned to it much the same way the Power Lords might be. I suspect they possess skills that we should be wary of. I'd certainly question their motives for being here. Perhaps they're working for the traffickers just to make sure there's no plans for escape." Shaela explained to Mila.

"I'll keep that in consideration when we encounter them, until then they're captives just as are we." Mila finished.

Just as she did a small bird flew in through an opening in the cargo container and perched on Mila's shoulder. She jumped and shrieked when she saw it making the bird flutter back into the air before it landed again on her same shoulder. She jumped and shrieked again when she felt something on her other shoulder which turned out to be Barris' hand.

"Surprise! I have to say that bird has impeccable timing." Barris responded whispering in her ear.

"You buggar! I'll have your bird for that!" Mila smirked at him then turning to the little bird on her shoulder.

"So what have you for me?" she said examining the bird's leg where a shelled peanut had been fastened.

"Honey, that's my peanut delivery. Thirty minutes or its free." Barris exclaimed with a smile on his face.

"I wonder how your bird will feel removed from its nest!" Mila replied to Barris with a dire look on her face.

"Don't worry honey. I completely understand the metaphor. No more out of me." Barris responded.

"Who said anything about a metaphor..." she said.

"Right..." Barris said uneasily.

"So what do I do with the peanut?" Mila asked aloud.

"Maybe the message is encoded on its shell?" Shaela suggested.

"Let me see... A lot of grooves and lines. Little squares... nope." Mila said pursing her lips.

"Maybe you have to eat the peanut?" Barris suggested.

The bird started chirping happily.

"So do I have to eat both for the message?" Mila asked aloud feeling a bit silly looking to the bird.

The bird chirped sounding a bit agitated with the suggestion.

"Maybe if Charles M. Schultz were here he could act as interpreter? A talking bird. A peanut. Come on? Can't you summon him somehow?" Barris offered only drawing a smirk and a loving pinch of his buttocks from Mila.

"I think that we can safely say that the bird definitely disagrees with us eating both peanuts. So we only eat one. What do we do with the other?" Mila asked.

"Maybe we feed it to the bird?" Shaela suggested.

The bird sat silently for a moment looking around as if considering the possibility. A moment later it began chirping angrily and agitated once again.

"Alright, so we don't feed the bird the other peanut. What do we do then?" Mila asked for suggestions.

One of the captives who'd been listening stepped forward and spoke.

"Years ago we used to communicate using birds. Send messages back and forth. Maybe the bird wants you to send the other peanut back as proof you got the message? Maybe its another message for someone else?" the captive suggested.

"Sir, you are brilliant and a gentleman at that. Mila, may I suggest that this man receives roast pheasant for his meal tonight..." Barris started, making the bird agitated again once again.

"Er.... How about halibut?" Barris suggested calming the bird down once again.

"Thank you so much for your suggestion Sir. I hope that this situation is not too stressful for you and your loved ones. We're doing what we can and the tables will be turned on our captors. Soon." Mila offered the captive.

"Thank you for being here to save us and more importantly to have heard us in the first place." the man lowered his head respectfully and returned to his family.

Mila then took one peanut leaving the other in the shell. She then took the shell and fastened it to the leg of the bird. When the bird had the other peanut attached to its leg it took off. It hovered over them for a moment before pooping on Barris' head. It then continued flying out of hole it had entered then flew directly over to the other cargo container while Barris ranted about the little bird.

"Well? Eat the peanut." Barris suggested to Mila still brushing the bird droppings from his head with a kerchief.

"I'm not going to eat the peanut." Mila returned.

"After all of that and you're not going to eat the peanut?" Shaela said to Mila.

"It's not the right time to eat the peanut." Mila said to her friends.

"If not now, then when?" Shaela asked.

"We'll know when. When I do, I want you to hold my hands. Each of you." Mila asked them.

" mean for moral support. Eating the peanut I mean. Yes such times can be engaging. Frightening even... I'm with you all the way and I'll see you through eating this peanut..." Barris said to her clinically.

"No you silly buffoon! Just trust me." Mila told him planting a tender kiss on his cheek.

Jasmer sat in the container beside his friend Pasu when a bird flew in the hole of the cargo container and landed upon his shoulder.

"I take it this is a sign...?" Pasu asked Jasmer pointing at the bird.

"Yes, its a sign that my friend Nelony talked this little bird into sending us a message." Jasmer said holding his finger in front of him for the bird to perch upon.

The bird jumped from Jasmer's shoulder onto his finger and began chirping.

"Well my little friend, what do you have here?" Jasmer asked the bird examining its leg.

Upon spying the peanut he immediately knew what he must do.

"My friend Pasu. I am going to be communicating with my friends. Watch over me while I do and should anything happen, rouse me from my sleep." Jasmer advised Pasu.

"I will do as you ask." Pasu responded.

Jasmer took the peanut in his hand and upon it touching his palm, it began to glow lightly.

In the other cargo container Mila handed the peanut to Barris.

"Both of you take my hands. When I've got your hands, Barris you put the peanut in my mouth. Not in my nose. Not in my eye. In my mouth. Got it?" Mila asked.

The peanut suddenly began to glow. Mila grabbed their hands and Barris fed Mila the peanut at the same time that Jasmer ate his.

They felt a tug within their abdomen and they were drawn from the cargo hold and back to the familiar ground of the Sanctum.

Jeong Soon stood beside Lady Soon and Athandra in the gathering hall. Jasmer spotted Yirfir and ran over to her.

"Are you alright?" Jasmer asked Yirfir.

"I'm fine. Nelony and I are together. We're somewhere at the bow of the ship. We've been keeping a vigil. The rest of the Sanctum needs to hear this too." Yirfir said aloud.

"Go ahead we're listening." Jeong Soon said as Jexelen, Lannay, Thara, Xenshi and Xushu joined the assembly.

"They've got the prisoners locked up in cargo containers. Looks like they're cattle cars. There's only two of them filled so this isn't the main shipment. Its just a satellite office. There's other containers and we're thinking its probably stolen goods, contraband or counterfeit of some kind to fortify their trafficking business." Yirfir advised the assembly.

"What would make you think that this is not the main load?" Lady Soon asked her.

"We spotted another ship on a direct intercept course for the one we're on. It appears to be a much larger one. A tanker possibly." Yirfir advised them.

"I can confirm Yirfir's testimony as I've also heard communications related to a rendezvous at the midway point. Reinforcements as well. They seem to have their own private army." Sato said confirming Yirfir's story.

"I hate to add to the confusion but I fear there may be two operatives on board acting in the interests of the Power Lords or even possibly the traffickers themselves." Shaela told the assembly.

"Shaela, given your record of disregard for procedure and recklessness during operations, how is it that we are supposed to accept that your observations are credible?" Jexelen asked Shaela.

"I second that question." Thara added.

"I've seen a lot of auras during my time as a Night Wytch. I've even seen the aura of Lorr himself and as such I have experience that is valuable beyond measure to this assembly. I am telling you that there are two on board that are experienced practitioners of the weave. Their auras are unnatural and unusually high in concentrations of the kind of energies that make the weave possible. I've never seen anything like it before. We need to be very careful of them." Shaela advised the assembly.

"Shaela, you are to be on guard for this danger and because you seem to be aware of it more so than anyone else, you are responsible for keeping the operation protected from it. There will be no casualties of any kind tolerated on this operation and the use of force will be limited to the liberation point one hundred kilometers from the western seaboard of Canada and the United States from where their authorities will take over the operation and we will disappear never having been there. Do all of you understand?" Jeong Soon asked them.

"I need backup in my cargo container. Preferably healers and possibly an elementalist." Jasmer addressed the assembly.

"It would be unusual to conduct and insertion in the middle of an operation. Have you got a workable cover plan?" Lady Soon asked.

"I've a contact and friend in the container. He'd be willing to have any insertions added to his roster as family or loved ones. He's a Japanese national who'd been abducted earlier in Asia while traveling. He's befriended Sato as well. I trust him. The two Shaela is talking about are in my cargo container. If we get a healer or ESPer in, somebody that can check them out, we can make an accurate threat assessment." Jasmer suggested.

"In that case We'll send Feylashar, Xenshi and Xushu. They should be able to blend in and advise you on the matter of the two possible threats aboard your container. That will be all. Finish up your personal communications and we'll close this portal in ten minutes." Jeong Soon told the assembly.

"So we can suspect that something is coming up at this rendezvous point. I suggest that we plan for a liberation if the containers are relocated. During the relocation we'll have the best chance for success. Nelony and Yirfir can run distraction for us while we deal with the local guard detachment. Feylashar can spend the next ten hours healing those in my cargo container and getting them ready for any physical activity. Xenshi and Xushu can keep an eye on the threat. Mila, Shaela and Barris can prepare the other container and deploy themselves when the time comes. Sound fair?" Jasmer asked.

"It does sound fair except for one thing. Do you want to deal with us here or there?" an unfamiliar voice asked them.

They turned to see a woman with two enormous butterfly wings blocking the entryway to the gathering hall.

Shaela immediately attempted to summon her Shadow cat protector only to be knocked to the floor by something that moved far too fast for her to see.

"Not so fast shadow girl. You're not the only one who can play with light and shadows..." Monique blurred past Shaela spinning her and sending her to the floor.

"Alert! The Sanctum is under attack and has been breached! Lockdown the Librum Universalis Codex!" Jeong Soon said getting to his feet.

"We have ten minutes to dispatch them before the portal takes us back. We've got to act fast!" Jasmer yelled as he charged the lady with the butterfly wings.

She took to the air flying at them as fast as her aetherial wings would take her as Monique skirmished the rest within their lines.

To be continued...

Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5
416 203-0928

Monday, June 13, 2016

Condolences For The Victims Of The Pulse Attacks... Not A Carbon Copy Of What Was Said On The Butterfly Dragon...

I just got back from working a heck of a job today (one that I've been working for a week). In hopes of being able to afford the kind of things that I envision for my books and for my own future. Between fighting piracy and rampant identity theft and identity swapping (groups of people in the city swap your identity with that of someone else to power their life and burden you with theirs) I've had my hands full. When I started the day I had still not heard tell of the horrible atrocities that befell Pulse dance club in Orlando Florida.

Once again we find ourselves in the midst of hateful violence directed at a community of people who've long struggled for their freedom from such acts and to be as they are. As I've always said, when two adults love each other really nobody else should have a say in that matter. Whether they choose to make that commitment in writing or not. It's a basic right that every other adult enjoys, with some racism still existent in certain mixed culture relationships. Some such relationships are tolerated more than others but rarely does it escalate to murder. So how is it that someone can kill over their disapproval of the LGBT community?

Having been a writer for Amnesty International and other causes, I'm used to being scorned and shunned by abusive members of the community (that's does not excuse them for their behavior towards me). Often the worst of it is the members of these groups swapping my identity for that of someone with a much different lifestyle (usually related to drugs and abuse). So the person with whom they swap my identity gets the credit for what I do and I get the burden for their activities. That seems to be the new way of dealing with people with a fairly good moral compass. It's a wonder that members of the LGBT community have not fallen victim to this sort of thing.

As the author of A Lady's Prerogative, I can vouch for the characters of the book when I say that they all support the rights of the LGBT community. I as the author also support the rights of the LGBT (that's short for Lebian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender just in you're unsure).

I have always supported the rights of members of the LGBT community for as long as I can remember and always will despite the fact that I am heterosexual. I don't understand why or how it becomes someone else's business that two adults love each other and how supporting that stance could be a problem for anyone.

So from here on in, let it be known that A Lady's Prerogative does support LGBT rights and the stories and books have breached that topic. In A Lady's Prerogative II: Wounded Aerth (which has been available in first draft format here for some time), there is a Gay couple (Melinda and Bethel who work in the apothecary) flee Sharlesbury to the south and the Haven with Mila, Barris, Sato, Father Elias Wilsen and Darden (the town guard). In the Haven they quickly find that their relationship is accepted by the population of the Haven, those who've been hunted as Wytches themselves and nearly executed upon such false charges.

I`d like to give my condolences to the families and friends of the victims. May one day you all find the Haven which accepts you as you are and so that you may live free from hatred and persecution.

Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5
416 203-0928

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Lost And The Found Part 4: Abducted

While Mila lay in bed with Barris in their tight cabin which put them with the others in their team. They'd purchased their way on board as refugees seeking to make it to North America through Europe and Asia then on to the west coast. Shaela and Nelony were fast asleep in their bunks while Yirfir and Jasmer remained out on deck keeping an eye on the crew. They still needed to sort out the traffickers from the innocent amongst the crew and haulers on board. This required them to keep the whole operation aboard the ship under tight observation and to relay the information back to the Sanctum. From there it was relayed to a secret insider and contact of the Sanctum who'd remained anonymous since working with them. This person in turn would see to it that the correct measures were taken on the Aerth side of things to deal with the traffickers and liberate the cattle.

Yirfir and Jasmer stood near the bow of the ship just past the two main gantry cranes and cargo hold. They each wore a hooded robe for their watch in the briskly cool night air of the Pacific.

"We've never been on a cruise together." Yirfir said to Jasmer as if to hint at one of her secret desires.

"Then this is our first. I guess we'd enjoy it." Jasmer replied feigning ignorance to Yirfir's implication.

"Oh that's now what I mean. I meant that.." she continued as he clasped her hand.

"I know what you meant perfectly well. Perhaps when we aren't so busy..."

At that moment the onboard klaxon erupted breaking up their silent moment as the ship's emergency lights came to life.

"This might be it. They might be making their move. You notify the Sanctum while I check up on situation." Jasmer had already started his way towards the cabin area.

"Wait. Why don't I check on the cabins and you contact the Sanctum? You know how effective I can be in close quarters." She yelled after him.

"I certainly know how effective you are in close quarters... but this isn't going to be that kind of dance..." Jasmer replied as he made his way down onto the top of a ladder.

"You buggar. You always were stubborn." Yirfir said as she moved into the darkest place that she could find to open up a message portal to the Sanctum.

Jasmer slid down the ladder banging his knee as he hit the bottom. He winced in pain but kept going.

"That should keep me on my toes." he mumbled under his breath as the deafening sound of the klaxons roared around him.

He came to one of the doors to the ship's interior. Just as he arrived the door flew open and several armed gunmen emerged.

"Clear on this end!" one of them yelled back into the ship's interior signalling someone inside.

The gunmen then stepped inside and sealed the door. Jasmer leapt at the door only to find it locked. Wasting no time he stood back and worked his hands drawing forth a mist from them over the area of the door. He peered through the mist seeing right through the solid metal of the ship's interior. Inside he could see that the traffickers had exposed themselves and were now collecting their cattle. They were each armed with firearms which appeared to be in very good condition. That he noted would mean they had contacts involved in running munitions as well.

He waved his in front of his face and his eyes glowed for a moment. A small fissure in space opened before Yirfir revealing an image of what Jasmer had seen transpiring in the interior of the ship. She watched in horror as the passengers were being rounded up at gunpoint and directed into the cargo holds. There amongst them she saw Shaela, Nelony, Mila and Barris their hands in the air as they proceed.

Yirfir immediately produced a scroll from within her robes. She concentrated using her knowledge of the weave to create the message for the Sanctum. The scroll glowed as the information of the message was embedded including Jasmer's vision. She then passed the scroll through a minute portal which led directly to the Sanctum where Xenshi and Xushu waited to receive it.

"You be care Jasmer my darling..." Yirfir whispered under her breath.

The klaxons suddenly ceased and there was a deafening silence once again bar the crash of the ocean waves upon the hull of the ship.

Jasmer had managed to get the door open with a bit of help from the weave and was now proceeding into the ship stealthily towards the cargo area. Up ahead many of the passengers were being sectioned off and herded into modified empty cargo containers. One of the gunmen prodded one of the Women a little bit hard drawing a response from her.

{Watch it buster! You do that any harder and I'll turn that gun of yours into a neck jewelry and a matching set of earrings for you!}
"Дивитися це Buster! Ви робите це важче, і я перетворю цей пістолет твого в ювелірні вироби шиї і відповідний набір сережки для Вас!" the lady screamed at him in Ukrainian turning to face her captor.

Jasmer tensed as he leveled the gun at her head. Another one of the captives, a beautiful Oriental lady stepped forward and stood before her placing herself between the gun and the lady she proteced.

"I'm sorry. We don't speak very well English. She afraid! Please leave alone?" the lady said pleading with the gunman.

The gunman lower his weapon and directed them with his hand.

"Mess up and I won't waste a moment blowing any one of you to pieces." the gunman's face turned to a grimace.

Another man stepped from the shadows. He was completely bald, wore a three piece suit and an old styled monocle adorned his right eye.

"Forgive me Madame, but my cohort here needs a lesson in manners. If you'd just follow his instructions everything will be fine. You'll all be taken care of and fed well. You might be a little bit cramped for the rest of the crip but this is necessary for we have to be certain that you understand that we are the ones in charge here. Get used to it because you will have to remember that to earn your citizenship and our legal assistance in helping you to procure it. If you choose not to play our way, we'll send you back right now and I assume that none of you is fit enough for a swim of several hundred miles. You're ours now and will be until you've earned your right to be a citizen as we see fit. That is all." the man stepped back into the shadows a few of the gunmen following him.

The rest of the captives filed into the cargo containers one at a time under the supervision of the gunmen.

"Well honey. I do suspect that we're going to be a tad bit less comfortable." Barris said wearily to Mila who was still half asleep.

"We'll be alright. Trust me." she said wiping her eyes.

"Have you seen Nelony?" Shaela asked Mila and Barris.

"No. I thought that she was with you?" Mila replied.

"I thought that she was with you. I mean she was right behind me with you two just before..." Shaela started then noticing Nelony with her keen eyes hidden in the shadows.

The relative silence was broken when a sudden burst of machine gun fire erupted.

"We found an escapee! Hold it right there. You might outrun me but you can't outrun my gun." the gunman said keeping his firearm directed at the captive.

Jasmer complied holding his hands in the air. He was then directed to one of the cargo containers and locked inside away from Mila, Shaela and Barris.

"I tried." Jasmer said as the gate locked.

"We've got everyone rounded up. Security detail will keep an eye on the cattle cars. Everyone else get back to your crew positions." Carver shouted.

As the remaining gunmen left a small security contingent stayed behind keeping an eye on the cargo containers and the cattle within. Slowly within the cargo containers the sound of talk started to climb which the gunmen did little to curb. In one instance a lady had started banging on the sides of the container causing the guard to hit the container with the butt of his machine gun.

"Enough. Talk is alright but no yelling or screaming. You'll end up dead if you do!" the guard yelled.

Sato walked into the cargo area a carrying a broom over his shoulder and pushing a bucket and mop.

"Just here to keep clean. Very clean. Boss Carver says so. Must do." Sato said bowing before the armed gunmen.

"Alright. If Carves says do it, then do it!" the gunman responded.

Sato began sweeping the large floor of the cargo hold meticulously. After an hour of sweeping he'd finally finished and he began mopping. By that time the guards weren't nearly as attentive as they had been upon his arrival and he used that time to make his way towards the cargo containers looking for the man he'd originally given the wax message.

He proceeded to slip the another message through one of the peek holes in the cargo container. It fell to the floor of the container and was picked up by one of the other passengers. He unfolded the rice paper examining it for something.

"There's nothing here! It's empty!" the man said.

The man with the Miko berries approached holding his hand out in request for the rice paper.

"I am an artist. I use to draw upon. He merely gave it to me so that I would have something to do." the Miko berry man said.

"Alright. Here. You have it. You can entertain us all." the man relinquished the rice paper to the Miko berry man.

The Miko berry man snuck into the corner where he pulled another one of the Miko berries Sato had given him earlier and rubbed it on the rice paper. The rice paper drank up the reddish dye of the Miko berry revealing a message that Sato had sprawled upon it in Japanese.

{The man with white hair is a friend. He will help. Sato.}

As the man read the message he spied Jasmer and his white hair. The man immediately knew whom Sato was talking about and slowly made his way over the Jasmer who sat on the far end of the container rubbing his knee.

"友人?" the Miko berry man asked Jasmer handing him the message.

Jasmer examined it and upon recognizing Sato's family mark he replied.

"You must like Miko berries?" Jasmer asked the man.

"Hai!" the man smiled bowing excitedly.

Jasmer stood to his full height wincing a bit from the pain in his knee.

"I am Jasmer McCavanaugh." he bowed for the Miko berry man.

"I am Pasu. Toho Pasu." the man said introducing himself to Jasmer.

"Now we may know each other." Jasmer said to Pasu.

"Yes. A good dōnyū. A good meeting of two. Your hiza. It is hurting?" Pasu replied.

"My knee? Yes. I injured it on the way here. It's still a little tender." Jasmer replied taking some weight off of it.

"Sit. I fix. For you I fix." Pasu urged Jasmer to take the weight off of his leg and be seated.

When Jasmer had sat himself on the floor again, the man held both of his hands close together much like Jasmer had when casting a spell. The man did this for a few moments concentrating intensely before he put a hand on each side of Jasmer's knee. A moment later Jasmer felt a jolt of energy flowing through his knee and the tender muscle slowly relaxed and the pain eased until it finally disappeared.

"Stay light on foot for day. Maybe two. Then much better." Pasu advised Jasmer.

"My thanks. I am in your debt." Jasmer replied gratefully.

"No debt. Friends." Pasu said showing Jasmer Sato's message.

Jasmer nodded in full appreciation of Pasu's sentiment.

Outside Sato had made his way slowly over to the other cargo container with Mila, Shaela and Barris.

"Mister Wind surfing? Mister Wind surfing? Are you here?" Sato said mockingly through one of the cargo container's peek holes.

"That could only be my favorite thorn in my backside." Barris said getting up and walking over to the peek hole.

"What do you want now or are you just gloating?" Barris asked Sato.

"I just wanted to make sure that you were going to be comfortable tonight." Sato said through the peek hole.

"For all of the verbal sword play that comes from your mouth, it's nice to know that you care so much..." Barris said smiling.

"I wasn't speaking to you. I was speaking to them!" Sato pointed behind Barris.

Barris turned to see Mila and Shaela standing behind him somehow managing to smile. Sato reached to the back of his top and withdrew two small pillows handing them through the peek hole.

"Thank you Sato. Barris can have mine." Mila said to Barris.

"You're so sweet honey but I could never..." Barris started his reply only to see that Mila had begun an incantation.

The others in the cargo container looked on with amazement and perhaps a bit of horror as Mila etched a painting onto the wall of the cargo container. It was a curtain parted and drawn back to reveal a large festive hall with a row of comfortable beds, one for each person in the cramped cargo container and a table with a large feast upon it. Once she'd finished her painting she stepped back and waved her hand across the wall.

The entire painting suddenly became real as if the universe had opened up into a real festive hall, bed, meals and all. She then urged the residents of the cargo container into the magical hall.

"Thank you Mila. I knew I could count on you. I was just getting hungry too." Shaela said as she followed the other captives into the festive hall.

"Alright honey, I'm going to eat and have some rest. You stay out here and you can have this pillow. Or if you'd like you could join me a meal and a nice nap?" Mila suggested to Barris.

"Thanks Sato! It's the thought that counts." Barris said as he stepped into the festive hall tossing the pillows over his shoulder onto the cargo container floor.

"My friend, you forget one important thing. What will they do when they see you gone?" Sato asked as he continued pushing the mop across the floor.

As they entered the festive hall, the curtains were drawn closed and the wall of the container returned to normal though the container itself appeared empty except for the two pillows.

A moment later the pillows opened filling the container with a fog that slowly took the form of each of the captives, chatter, activity and all. Should anyone examine the container they would have no clue that the occupants had disappeared for the night.

Back in the other container the Oriental lady and the Ukrainian lady kept an eye on their surroundings.

"So that's pretty much how they do it." Monique said to Heylyn.

"I'm guessing that those they can't push into the sex trade, they'll keep to work in garment factories or other low paying work to produce those knockoffs of my clothing." Heylyn replied to Monique.

"They collected cellular phones. How are we going to get a message to Alicia now?" Monique asked Heylyn.

"Already taken care of. I kept a hold out phone." Heylyn replied to Monique as she watched Jasmer from a distance.

"Where?" Monique inquired.

"Don't ask. I'm not sure but there's something very strange about him." Heylyn replied.

"Who? The guy with the white hair?" Monique asked Heylyn.

"Exactly. I'm picking up something strange from his Aura. Almost like... when we dealt with Torman's test subjects. The one's who'd been pumped up with the SY349." Heylyn explained to Monique.

"You mean he's superpowered? Like us? Why not ask your dragon friend?" Monique asked Heylyn looking over to Jasmer for any signs of strange abilities.

"Weltherwithsp and I will undoubtedly be meeting when I go to sleep unless Weltherwithsp decides to show up early. Until then we just have to keep an eye on him. That means we sleep in shifts. You sleep first. I'll wake you in about four hours." Heylyn said to Monique.

"Sounds good to me. Sweet dreams if that's possible sleeping on solid steel floors." Monique said as she lay down tucking herself into a corner for warmth and protection.

Heylyn kept her eyes on Jasmer for the night.

Outside on the deck of the ship Nelony looked for a safe place rest despite the chill. As she slowly made her way long the deck she was spotted.

"Nelony! Nelony! Over here!" Yirfir gestured to her from under a tarp that she'd salvaged from another part of the ship.

To be continued...

Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5
Single six years and going. PS: I'm not Eugene. I'm not Chris. I don't work for TCHC.
Copyright © 2016 Brian Joseph Johns

I am Brian Joseph Johns and this is A Lady's Prerogative

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A larger image of the Aerth Mother...

Here's a larger image (1600x1200) of my rendering of The Aerth Mother from the story The Lost And The Found. The story bridges the worlds of A Lady's Prerogative with the Butterfly Dragon and could possibly lead to a book combining the two worlds and the characters within.

The Lost And The Found can be found both on Tales Of The Sanctum and The Butterfly Dragon.

You are free to use the image as you wish so long as you give credit to myself and link back to or

The image was created with Lightwave3DDaz Studio with compositing and some fx done in Adobe Photoshop.

I'm off to tend to nature and the landscape with a great crew of professional landscapers for a good company. Feels good to use the body and to work with nature and good people. Don't forget to use your body too. Its the most wonderful thing that we have. If you know someone that has trouble using theirs, then help them out. Take them for a walk.

I'll be posting a new chapter for each side of the story tonight or tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Brian Joseph Johns

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Lost And The Found Part 3: The Emperor's Message

"I thought I told you to sweep the entire cattle deck! What's the matter? Don't you understand me pops?" Carver, one of the cattle handlers yelled at Sato.

"I'm so sorry. I did not understand. So sorry..." Sato bowed vigorously for Carver who merely grimaced.

"You'd better get that done now. There will be no next time for you. That's twice you've disobeyed a direct order. Do it or you'll end up in the cattle wagon." Carver yelled at him.

"I'm so sorry. Never happen again. Never. No." Sato said keeping his head low.

"It better not. Make sure their cabins are locked too. We're going to make port in an hour." Carver carried his hefty weight back up the stairs leaving Sato to clean up the rest of the cattle deck.

Over the course of the trip he'd gotten to know the personalities of the crew one by one. They were predictably mean and bullying, relying on their superior numbers short temper to maintain control over the larger numbers of cattle imprisoned in the ship.

Sato had also taken time to observe the captives. He refrained from the term cattle using it only when dealing with the traffickers. Over the time that he'd known them he'd managed to forge a few secret alliances though he kept them very quiet.

He'd seen one of them reading a treatise on the Japanese Shogunate from the early thirteenth century. It was an historical work of fiction set before the Edo period. Sato had read the book when he was seventeen years old, even having read the same print version that the captive had before him. He'd eyed the captive reading it noting how far into the book he was. He guesstimated that the reader was on the chapter where Musutuko had just met the Emperor of the South and had brought the emperor the gift of dried Miko berries and an empty sheet or rice paper.

Not many people had known that Miko berries would stain even the highest resin form of rice paper, making it very a good choice for wax encrypted messages. One would just inscribe with a wax pen or a thin candle their message very lightly so as to avoid detection. The berries were then crushed and spread over the rice paper where their juices would stain with a very deep ochre the rice paper leaving the wax enscribed message intact and very legible. Best of all, it would make a tasty snack rice paper and all if you were required to eat it.

So one night while the captive was reading Sato dropped some Miko berries and a small piece of rice paper onto the man's lap.

"Oh. I'm so sorry. Forgive. I beg." Sato said to him bowing profusely.

The captive looked to Sato in shock looking back to his lap seeing the Miko berries and the piece of rice paper. He could not believe his eyes. He put them in his shirt pocket carefully and bowed to Sato.

"Arigato..." the captive replied quietly to Sato.

Sato winked back to him and kept up with his duties in order to avoid drawing attention.

When the captive had returned to his cabin which he shared with twenty other men, he managed to find a safe place to examine the rice paper. He crushed the berries and rubbed them on the rice paper. After a moment Sato's message slowly appeared. Inscribed upon it was:

{We are here to help. You will all be safe.}

Many of the captives were Japanese, with some from China, Java, Indonesia, Korea and even Malaysia. There were even a few who'd traveled from Europe to get passage on these ships. They'd been lured into buying the ticket for the promise of the riches of the west but instead had become captives en route for what was to come. Most if not all were Women but on this shipment there were quite a few Men as well leaving Sato to suspect that they operated on a quota, only leaving any particular port once they'd reached the quota of abductees. They'd paid for the passage only to find that they were being hauled to be sold into sex trade or low paying work. If they cried wolf before they made port, they'd be dumped overboard.

{We will be free?}
"私たちは自由になりますか?" asked the reader of Sato.

{You will be as those who live there already.}
"あなたはすでにそこに住む人たちのようになります。" Sato replied.

To be continued...

Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5
Single six years and going.
Copyright © 2016 Brian Joseph Johns

The Lost And The Found Part 2: Librum Universalis Codex

After a quiet walk through the halls of the Sanctum Shaela, Xenshi and Xushu (who floated inverted directly above Xenshi's head) led Barris into the hall of the Codex.

The room was elaborately decorated, its walls lined with inscriptions from a variety of languages both ancient and modern. The ceiling rose up through the spire and to the highest point of the Sanctum where the eerie light of the midspace passed through a series of sky lights. A large fountain sat in the center of the hall where Yirfir and Lady Naemi Soon stood in conversation illuminated by the large sphere which hovered above the center of the fountain. As they approached the fountain Barris spied a silvery multi-colored liquid undulating within the fountain. On the far side of the fountain Athandra sat on a small mat deep in meditation.

"I suspect this cost a bit to have installed? Who was your decorator, Salvatore Dali?" Barris asked in jest though once again the room remained quiet to his humor.

"Well that voice could only be one judging by the sarcasm. And just so you know I actually met Salvatore Dali. A splendid and eccentric man." Yirfir responded to Barris' attempt at levity.

"Be thankful that you didn't have to put up with him for a walk from the Archives..." Shaela said her voice carrying a little bit of a scathing sharpness.

"Oh that Night Wytch! She really admires him she does like a wart on her..." Xushu started from above Xenshi.

"We are here on a serious matter of grave importance." Xenshi expressed looking to Yirfir and Lady Soon.

"Xenshi speaks the truth. I apologize for my lack of regard but not for my humor. Mila..." Barris started.

"...and Nelony have been experiencing strange behavior. Nelony has been..." Shaela interrupted Barris who upon finding the moment returned her sentiment.

"...talking to the birds again. Wait. Correct that. She always talks to the birds. Well this time she claims that the birds have been kid... er bird-napped and are being..." Barris continued their story as Shaela cut in.

"...forced to work for food. Oh and Mila has been painting pictures..." Shaela glared at Barris.

"...of people in cages. Not bird cages mind you but they are trapped and lifeless. In fact..." Barris quickly jumped in again as he was cut off.

"...all of her pictures have been of people in cages. Her walls are covered in such paintings..." Shaela paused for a breath and lost her spot.

"...and she's locked herself in her studio for three days barely eating or sleeping. All she does is paint and I know that she's an artist, but this is strange even for an artist like her. Oh and the tears..." Barris' expression grew grim and weary.

"Yes, the tears. Xenshi said that the moon..." Shaela began as Xenshi jumped in on the madness.

"...she's crying. The moon. Her tears in the night sky. This is an important symbol..." Xenshi was interrupted.

"Baaahhh! The moon is crazy! She blathering about something painful but I think that she's up to something. One day we'll walk out and see her running away with the sun! We'll be all alone Bahahhhaaa!" Xushu spewed getting in on the excitement.

Yirfir looked to Lady Soon for a moment trying to decipher what they'd been told. It was Lady Soon who spoke.

"So we have strange behavior from Mila and Nelony..." Lady Soon started.

"Not to mention this bunch!" Yirfir scolded them.

"This is true. I've been noticing an abundance of strange behavior too from some within the Sanctum and beyond upon the Aerth. Perhaps this is all connecting in some way." Lady Soon suggested.

"That's what we're here to find out." Shaela and Barris both said simultaneously.

"When pressures such as these start to manifest in the membership of the Sanctum it can only mean one thing." Lady Soon said looking to Yirfir.

"The pressures are upon an imbalance within the Librum Universalis itself." Athandra said waking from her meditative state.

"The Codex." Yirfir responded to Lady Soon's suggestion.

"What is the Codex?" Barris asked.

"The Codex is the sum of all triumph and burden through the history of the Aerth. It is the success and failure of every person upon the face of the Aerth since the beginning of the people. Since Lorr and Lyra first discovered the weave. It is every wrong and every right ever done. It is the sum of all the pain of loss caused by ill intent and the joy and elation of every good deed or philanthropic act. It is the weight that we in the Sanctum bare for the Aerth. When the balance is off and something is amiss, the members of the Sanctum will begin to feel it." Lady Soon explained.

"So you're saying that Nelony's and Mila's behavior is resulting from something being off in the Codex?" Barris asked in amazement.

"And the moon's tears are coming from the Codex as well?" Xenshi asked.

"It seems that all of us are susceptible to this fallibility of behavior when there is an imbalance or a grave peril. Even us. The Moon's tears are likely a sign that Xenshi with her special gift can see better than others. It reflects the state of the Codex and more importantly the state of the Aerth in some way." Yirfir elaborated on Lady Soon's explanation of the Codex.

"So the clues are in Mila's paintings and Nelony's behavior. Mila's paintings depict mostly Women in these cages. Some are occupied by others and some aren't. Some of the cages are big but most are cramped and tiny." Barris described the paintings he'd seen her produce in the last.

"Nelony speaking of the birds. They're kidnapped and made to work for food. Maybe the birds are a metaphor for people. Like the people in Mila's paintings?" Shaela suggested.

"And the Moon, she cries seeing these people in the cages." Xenshi responded.

"Even our behavior a moment ago was unlike us. Except maybe for Barris." Shaela looked at her companions winking at Barris.

"Speak for yourself! I'm like this all of the time! Ahhhhahhhaa!" Xushu said to them in a slightly unsettling tone.

"We must scry the Codex itself which is a dangerous task even for the most experienced of us. After all, it is the sum or all pain and joy ever experienced. Lady Soon if you will help me? We will need a healer as well for this dangerous procedure." Yirfir turned to Lady Soon who was already readying herself for the link to the Codex.

"I sensed that you might need me. I came as quick as I could." Serene Feylashar walked into the Hall Of The Codex.

"Your timing is impeccable my dear. We need you to assist us as we attempt to connect to the Codex. The last time we did so was over seventy years ago before the fall of the Sanctum. Jasmer and I had to lest the contents of the Librum Universalis Codex fall into the hands of Lorr and the Power Lords. Trust me. We can do this. We will need you to stabilize our life energy. Should the peril or imbalance be too much, it could devour our life force to fill in that void. Our bodies would be unconscious but functioning and our life force would be trapped in the Codex forever." Yirfir said as she began to cast a series of protective enchantments.

"I'm already on it." Feylashar said as she stood behind Lady Soon and Yirfir creating a protective barrier around the two of them.

"Shaela, I'll need you to stabilize Feylashar just in case it is too much for her." Yirfir commanded Shaela.

"Don't worry. I've got your back." Shaela said to her friend Feylashar.

"Now Xenshi and Xushu. We'll need you two to act to protect us from changes in the weave. Prevent dark from becoming light and so on. Do as you will to protect us as we venture in." Lady Soon asked Xenshi and Xushu.

"You can count upon us." Xenshi replied standing to one side of Lady Soon and Yirfir around the fountain.

"You'll die before you get my help!" Xushu responded taking up the other side.

Lady Soon and Yirfir joined hands as the energy field grew around them. The Hall Of The Codex disappeared from view and was replaced with the blackness of the void which was pocked with points of light throughout it's space. There was a quiet noise much like static but much more rhythmic. It would grow and decline in succession leaving only silence between such arcs.

"It's breath. Like its breathing..." Lady Soon spoke through her mind to Yirfir.

"So it is." Yirfir observed as the out breath passed the void suddenly became very bright as the in breath started.

The bright points were replaced with specs of blackness which stretched in time with the breath. They proceeded forward into this void though they had absolutely no reference for time and space. As they proceeded through and into the void the cycle once again sloped towards the darkness of the void. The breath became raspy and overwhelmingly loud. Within it Yirfir could hear the screams and pain of billions of people, their suffering etched within the annals of time and the Codex.

"The cages... Like life and bars without steel... No choice... They took my daughter from me..." Yirfir heard the voice.

Lady Soon squeezed her hand in acknowledgement that she'd heard it too.

As they proceeded they saw it from the distance. The Aerth as it was enveloped in the protective and milky hair of a giant Goddess herself. Her milky hair wrapped the globe from east to west entwining the Aerth where it sat upon her nurturing buxom. Around them the stars pocked the void in tiny points of light as the Aerth rose and fell in rhythm with her breath.

"She breathes. It is like polishing the diamond with each breath." Lady Soon remarked.

"Life is breath as is breath life. It is in with the light, out with the dark." Xenshi whispered to them.

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary whispers to me. Singing words of wisdom, let it be, let it breath." Yirfir sang the Beatles quietly to herself as she watched the Goddess.

"Your tears are like the Moon's" Xenshi said to Yirfir.

"I'll take that as a compliment." Yirfir replied.

"You should." Xenshi returned.

Another breath came and as the void became light so did the stars become dark. The Aerth itself was alight with life, the dark patches denoting the absence thereof, markers for pain, suffering and death. Yirfir and Lady Soon spied a few dark lines etching their way to various points through the oceans and into coastal points on the continents. As they drew in closer to the Aerth the cages themselves became apparent within, each housing a person as they made their way from afar. Perhaps looking for that buxom themselves only to find despair.

They saw in some cases those who'd fled looking for a better life on different shores in many points of the world. Many of them seemed to find a common and misleading destination where their cages would slowly begin to manifest. A moment later as the void became even darker within this breath, they were plunged into the horror of war. It might have been one of the recent wars. It might have been in Europe and the World Wars. They saw horror and violence. Everywhere this violence found itself there were people who fled and the pain and suffering grew to intolerable proportions. Even the memories of the pain of the deceased had a weight in the Codex and they both felt in now.

In the Hall Of The Codex Barris watched as the protective barrier slowly started to turn black, losing its bright and protective energy.

"Shaela! Xenshi! Feylashar! Do something! You're losing them!" Barris yelled feeling so helpless, unable to do anything for them.

It was then that Xenshi brightness started to grow immensely while Xushu's blackness deepened. The darkness seeped from Lady Soon and Yirfir's protective barrier and onto Xushu while the light from Xenshi filled their protective barrier one again. Feylashar's steady flow of healing magic reinforced the energy and once again they were bathed in protective light. An arc of blackness suddenly jumped from Xushu finding its way towards Feylashar in her vulnerable state. Shaela immediately shouted as a tendril caught hold of the darkness and siphoned it into her dress.

"Told you I have your back." Shaela said to Feylashar.

"Who has yours?" Feylashar responded.

"I guess that would be me. The magic impaired jester at your service." Barris responded.

His comment drew a bit of laughter from them as they concentrated. Barris noticed that the laughter actually generated light and energy from the ladies and men in the room maintaining this protective shield. Upon noticing this he felt a bit more needed than he'd previously thought.

"I think we have it..." Yirfir said aloud.

"Careful! We're losing them..." Feylashar exclaimed.

"Xushu! I am so full of love for you my brother!" Xenshi exclaimed.

"Xenshi! I despise and hate you so fully that I am sickened by the very sight of you my sister!" Xushu responded.

A wall of energy emanated from them converging upon Lady Soon and Yirfir.

"We've got it! Just a little closer..." Lady Soon exlaimed.

"Wait!" Yirfir yelled.

"Bring us back! Now!" Lady Soon yelled.

"Yes! Do it!" Yirfir screamed.

There was a loud thunderous clap as the room reappeared and the void was closed. The sphere glowed brightly and then darkened once again as it stabilized. Lady Soon and Yirfir fell to the floor exhausted as Feylashar ran to tend to them.

"They're alright. Just minor wounds. They might need some rest. Their minds will take a bit to heal." Feylashar advised.

"Do we know what we're looking for?" Barris asked.

"What is the cause of this madness?" Shaela asked.

"It appears to be cages... psychological cages... trafficking... they're trading in people... Mostly Women..." Yirfir said as she collapsed.

To be continued...

Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5
Single six years and going.
Copyright © 2016 Brian Joseph Johns

The Beatles song Let it be was written and composed by John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Lost And The Found Part 1: The Paintings And The Voices

The paintings lined the hall, the subjects upon the canvas haunting the walls of Mila's estate. Each painting depicted a different person as its subject, though each one was within a cage. Some of the cages were big, with other people lining the inside. Some of them were tiny and cramped with the subject hunched within. Most of the subjects were Women. Their piercing eyes stared back from each canvas pleading. Barris shook his head as he walked down the hall looking them over. When he'd arrived at the door at the end of the hall, he tapped on it twice with his knuckles.

"Honey? Are you alright? This is the third day you've been in there. I'm really starting to get worried about you..." Barris pleaded to Mila/

The door opened a moment later. Mila's tired looking face emerged just enough to give Barris a peck on the lips. She handed him a painting similar to the ones lining the halls.

"Hang this one up honey. Would you?" she asked him.

"That walls are full of them Mila. What's gotten into you? This is serious." Barris said to her keeping a look of intensity on his face.

"Then hang it in the halls downstairs. I'm just finishing another." she said as closed the door.

Barris examined the painting she'd handed him. It looked similar to the others, a cage with a solitary occupant. He took the painting downstairs with him to the back hall.  He found an unoccupied space where he proceeded to hang the picture.

"I don't know what's gotten into you Mila, but I'm going to find out." Barris said aloud as he found his way into the living room and sat down dialing his cellular phone.

After a few moments of ringing a familiar voice answered.

"What do you want Barris? It's been a long time." Shaela answered the phone.

"Nice to hear from you too, Shaela. Look, I've got a bit of a problem here. It's about Mila." Barris said to the red headed Night Wytch.

"So why would you call me? You two never call me anyway. So why now?" Shaela asked him.

"Look! Besides the fact that you live a bit of a distance from us we've been kind of busy you know." Barris responded defensively.

"Oh alright. What is it then?" Shaela asked.

"Mila had locked herself in her studio. She's been in there for three days painting pictures of people in cages. Our walls are practically lined with paintings of people in these cages." Barris replied.

"She's an artist Barris. You should have known what you were getting into when you hooked up with her." Shaela reminded him.

"I know that. We've been together for a year now and I know here very well! She likes her private time to paint or sculpt and I never bother her. I just wait for her to come to me when she's done. She's never been gone this long. Locked up three days in her studio? She's not eating or sleeping. She's just painting. There's something wrong and I think that it's of supernatural origins. Seeing as you're a bit of a specialist in matters like these, I thought that you might have an insight." Barris reasoned with her.

"Hmmm... I just tried calling Nelony. About an hour ago. She's been acting a little bit strange herself. I talked with her yesterday and she said that someone was taking the birds and locking them up. Making them work for their food." Shaela told him thinking about what he'd said.

"Well I'd say that sounds just about right. She sounds quite like herself. Perhaps she could organize a bird union or something..." Barris said with a hint of sarcasm.

"Barris! She's off a little! You're saying the same of Mila. Maybe there's a link between the two problems?" Shaela asked him.

"You're the expert. I mean the only magic I know is a card trick that never works." Barris said to her.

"Alright. I'm on my way. I'll pick you up and we'll go see Yirfir and Jasmer at the Sanctum Of The New. Be ready. I'll be there in half a minute." Shaela said as she hung up.

"Wait... I need to..." Barris began but the line was already dead.

As he pocketed his phone the ripples in the air began to appear as the portal opened in the living room. A moment later Shaela stepped out.

"Are you ready?" Shaela asked him.

"Well I'd like to get my shoes on if you could hold onto your whiskers for a moment." Barris said as he stumbled sliding his shoes onto his feet.

"Just hold onto my hand." Shaela told him as she stepped into the portal.

There was a brilliant flash and then complete darkness. Barris' marveled at the passing lights and colors of portal travel stepping a moment later out into the Atrium of the Sanctum Of The New.

"Jasmer should be up in the archive room. Yirfir is probably tending to the Librum Universalis Codex. Let's see if we can find Jasmer." Shaela said leading the way.

Barris followed her through the elaborately decorated stone halls of the Sanctum. Vines covered the walls as did detailed carvings and magical inscriptions in a language that Barris did not recognize. Barris saw something move from behind the vines.

"What was that?" Barris asked pointing to the vines.

"What was what?" Shaela turned to look.

Barris looked around scanning the walls. Then something poked him on the top of the head. He looked up but by the time he had, it had disappeared.

"Xenshi? Xushu? Stop playing around. I know its you..." Shaela said aloud suspecting that she'd known the identity of the mischievous presence.

She felt a tap on her back. She spun around only to find the presence was gone by the time she'd turned to face it. Again she felt a tap on her back. This time she turned half way and then turned back to the same direction she'd been facing.

"You caught me Night Wytch. It is good to see you again." Xenshi said to her, her long black hair tied up in an elaborate bun.

"I can't stand you! Why do you come here!" Xushu said as he floated above Xenshi's head, inverted.

"It's good to see you too." Shaela said to them putting her hands together and tipping her head to them.

"Ahhhh... This is the Barris one. The one that Mila's been telling me so much about. You're too funny, aren't you?" Xenshi asked Barris.

"He's a vile and hating odorous pit viper!" Xushu said floating above Xenshi.

Barris checked his armpits giving them a sniff.

"Not too bad though a tad bit clammy. As for the pit viper part..." Barris started.

"Don't worry about Xushu. He's the mean one today. Sometimes it's Xenshi. Sometimes it's Xushu. They trade up all the time. They're spirit folk from China. They've been with the Sanctum since the beginning." Shaela explained to Barris.

"Well in that case, I am very honored to meet you Xenshi. You're as tremendously beautiful as you are graceful. A sight for weary eyes.  As for you Xushu you maggot eating dung scraping weevil, you deserve to fester in a latrine. Did I say that right Shaela?" Barris asked.

"You say it perfect. See? He is very funny. I like." Xenshi said to her brother Xushu.

"Barris is the name they give to discarded bed pans in hospitals for those with chronic flatulence!" Xushu spewed and frothed at Barris.

"Why thank you. I think. That's rather good. I've got to remember that one." Barris replied.

"Do you know where we can find Jasmer?" Shaela asked Xenshi.

"He's up in the archives with Jexelen and Jeong Soon. Yirfir is down in the Librum Universalis Codex with Lady Soong and Athandra. We're just on our way there now." Xenshi told Shaela and Barris.

The group traveled up the stairs together and into the archive hall. At the far end of the stone chamber sat Jexelen beside Jeong Soon. Across from them Jasmer sat as they discussed something.

"Logistically speaking we need to expand the guard of the midspace. We need more patrols for one thing or at least an Esper capable of remote scrying." Jasmer said speaking to Jexelen and Jeong Soon.

"I agree with that entirely but we cannot afford the people right now. We're already short on Elementalists as it is. Only twenty five graduated last year and we're only expecting another forty this year. Maybe Jexelen can supply some Espers...?" Jeong Soon looked to Jexelen questioningly.

"I've got enough Espers to cover half of the area that you want to start patrolling. Half of them aren't specialists in remote scrying so we'd need to use indigenous life for their eyes." Jexelen responded looking to her notes.

"Excuse us for interrupting. We've got a problem that you might be able to help us with." Shaela asked the three sitting at the table.

"We're discussing a matter of grave importance. Be quick about it." Jasmer replied to Shaela.

"Barris and I have noticed some unusual behavior from Mila and Nelony. We think it might be related. It could possibly have origins in the weave." Shaela explained to them.

"What sort of unusual behavior?" Jexelen asked Shaela showing some concern.

"Mila appears to be obsessively producing similarly themed paintings continuously. Little food or sleep. Nelony has been saying bizarre things about the birds and how they've been kidnapped and are being forced to work for their food. Her words by the way." Shaela told Jexelen.

"We too have noticed some strange things. In the moon on Aerth. At night, the moon has a slight taint in color. If you look towards its right edge as it faces the Aerth. This is what we call a masked tear. A mark that the moon bears when something is very wrong. She is crying. The spirits tell us this way." Xenshi explained her observations.

"You saw the masked tear?" Jeong Soon asked Xenshi.

"She never sees anything! She's as crazy and blind as a bat!" Xushu fumed from above her head.

"Yes, I saw the tear last night and the night before." Xenshi explained.

"Then this is serious. It may be linked to Mila's and Nelony's strange behavior. We must consult the Librum Universalis Codex." Jeong Soon advised.

"We could also try sending a kerchief up in a rocket you know. Let's hope the moon doesn't need to blow her nose." Barris suggested though the room remained silent making Barris even more uncomfortable than he already was.

"Thanks for your help. We're on our way to the Codex." Shaela told them.

To be continued...

Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5
Single six years and going.
Copyright © 2016 Brian Joseph Johns

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Walk On The Danforth...

Today I woke up and decided I needed a little emergency cash to placate the starving author/artist in me for a bit, not to mention that it feels great to use your body. You feel good and to tell you the truth, my monitor tan just isn't really cutting it these days. Besides I might want to attract the right Lady Butterfly (she's Chinese) some time in the future (hopefully after the print version have sold a few copies).

So I the brilliant idea of checking out the gigs on Low and behold when I spied just the kind of thing I was looking for, I called and was on my way. Its amazing how technology can link people nowadays. When I was you're age, I used to have to walk six whole minutes to the bus stop! Now you youngsters just teleport everywhere! Oops. That was from another story. Where was I? Oh yeah, on my way to the site.

So after finding out that my bicycle had a flat and after trying to patch the flat a number of times, I gave up and began my long walk to the job site.

The trip took me through one of Toronto's great communities (amongst many great communities but it was this one upon which I journeyed today). The stretch of Danforth between Broadview Avenue and Pape Avenue which is a scenic and lively place. There's Cafes, Restaurants, Patios galore, Health Food Shops, Fashion and Technology, you name it. So on my way there (back) I mamaged to shoot some photos which I thought would be good to display during Toronto's Pride Week and in general because the Danforth is a great place for Cafe and Patio hopping. Nothing but people enjoying the restaurants or having a coffee, maybe an artist or two with their Mac or PC laptop etching a design or two. Mothers walking their hot rod modded baby carriages and a few animal lovers walking their pets (or pests depending upon your point of view). If you come to the city during the summer months, then check this place out on a Thursday or Friday late afternoon early evening or on the weekend. There's just so much to do and the community is really colorful and beautiful.

Naturally this attracted my attention for obvious reasons. A Fashion store worthy of the name Butterfly...

 I tried not to be intrusive and picked patios with a lot of color and activity when I could. Generally in the late afternoon or early evening though you'd see a lot of action. Especially on Thursday and Friday. You might even spy a few superheroes too. I even here this is Dragon Butterfly's turf some time...

There's a lot of great restaurants offering regional cuisine to suit your tastes.  Some even have their own house brew on tap and wine too. I hear that Mishima Sato himself (of A Lady's Prerogative fame) even frequents this place... Beside it, Avli Restaurant might be Barris' turf though he also tends to like the Pubs where he can often be found reading.

Here's everyone's favorite Factory Girl. No, they don't make girls but I'll be you'll find guys and girls here and often. I do believe the reference is to one of the chefs or bartenders (possibly the management or owner) and the fact they can just keep putting it out for the customers. Now after having checked out their web site I am floored! But you can only find out what it really means if you check out their site. 

I mean that. Honest. You better have checked out their site. I mean it. Really I do. Pretty please with sugar on it?

Naturally on the job site I need to pick up some nails at Urban Nails. I stopped into this place and was so astounded with the paint job I got on my cuticles that I left without my nails so I stopped into Terri O's. Terri told me they only had O's there. Maybe next time...

 Well that Dora Keogh looks a tad bit Gaelic to me lass and lads. It must be a name because when I tried to translate it, I got the same thing. Maybe its a secret. Maybe it's Oard Gekoh? Who knows? I'll bet they have some great pints in there if you like that kind of thing. Perhaps even some great cuisine. Right beside it is Allen's. I think Allen works on the web stuff while Dora cooks up a hospitable meal and brings the pints.

I also tried to translate Allen's on Google and I got: The creator of great food and drinks that is positioned beside another great restaurant named Dora Keogh on the Danforth. Moved originally from Belfast over six hundred years ago, relocating the family businesses to the largely unpopulated spot just a few miles north of Lake Ontario in the brush. Five hundred years later a city, and The Danforth emerged around them. Can you believe that? Little did they know that several of the Fashion, Pet Shops and Health Food stores had been operating for over nine hundred years in another part of the brush. You can just learn so much online...

Of course you could check out their unique and neighborly cooperation online at

 The Black Swan is a historical landmark on the Danforth just East of Broadview Avenue. This earthy place is a great place to hear live bands as well as play darts and have a few pints. Next to Allen's and Dora Keogh, (and a few fashion shops, pet stores and health food shops) it is one of the first fixtures of its kind along the Danforth.

 This is The Old Nick on the Danforth. Possibly because of someone named Nick (notice how the N is capitalized for a quick lesson in etymology). I don't know much about them but after reading their blog, I'm quite impressed. Check it out yourself by following the link or clicking on the image. Consequently I used to have a friend named Nick in school when I was a kid. I wonder if it's the same guy?

Here's some more regional cuisine. One of my neighbors is from Brazil and a heck of a nice guy and good human being too (like myself) who does a lot of extras for a particular charitable organization called the Red Cross (an organization I sometimes help). So I thought I'd grab a pic of these two restaurants just for him. Thanks for being a good human being there friend. I wish the world had more people like yourself Mr. Brazil. So check out Tapas at Embrujo for their incredible cuisine, live entertainment all of which can be seen on their web siteRodeo (Rodizio) once again for authentic Brazilian cuisine and buffet. Both have a great atmosphere and look like a great place for an intimate date or just some great food.

I like this building. Its a great design. My bank manager also told me that if I didn't put a picture with their company logo on it that they'd start charging me twice the amount of interest on my recently paid up but overdrawn account. The truth is that I like this building and my bank is a bit closer to home on Parliament Avenue.

 Not exactly on the Danforth but somewhere down Broadview Avenue just north of Gerrard Avenue this little restaurant and Cafe was holding an outdoor gig with a crowded patio. I walked by and took a picture from across the street  The city was alive with the sound of music, but alas Julie Andrews was nowhere to be seen. So I say we remake The Sound Of Music with Anne Murray! No! Wait! Avril Lavigne! Sandra Oh! With guest appearance by Drake! What do you think? Do you think that Disney would go for it?

So with Pride month going strong the city seems to be quite active and alive with music. By the way I did finally make it to my destination to work for the day at Carlaw Avenue and Danforth Avenue. My back is just killing me and I'm out the door again tomorrow bright and early.

I'm currently looking into martial arts (again) and trying to decide between more traditional Karate, Wing Chun or even Aikido. I've studied Karate and Tae Kwon Do before (many years ago though I lack expertise). This time around I want to go for my degree (my black belt). One of the reasons is for some of the upcoming promo material related to Butterfly Dragon, Dragon Butterfly and Night Style (all of whom utilize a mixed style of combat with specialized techniques). Also I am looking at the possibility of getting into mocap for animation purposes (which would make choreographing the kind of sequence I'd like to do between the two leads possible. I'd also like to achieve this goal since it had always been something on my list.

Beyond that, look forward to the release version of The Butterfly Dragon I Heroes Of Our Own soon with a possible print edition possibly around the corner. Once I get distribution figured out that part might be under way very quickly (seeing as I have this and several other ready to go stories in that regard).

Thanks for taking the time to read a little bit about my city and we'll talk soon. I don't pirate other people's stuff. Please don't pirate my book. I literally live on next to nothing and spend a great many hours preparing my books, creating the artwork and getting them ready for release. Not to mention that amount of harassment and abuse I undergo from my own community which makes producing such a seemingly popular story very difficult.

Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5
416 203-0928

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