Tag Archives: Klista

Home at Last – Fantastic Travelogue #19

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I found myself in another world. I met a young woman there named Ain-Mai. We eventually got captured, along with her brother Sing-ga, by a sorceress named Hengfel, who took us to her world. We got away from her and hid in the air tunnels of her fortress. Sing-ga died after being attacked by small spider-like creatures. Ain-Mai and I came in contact with a woman named Klista, who explained to us that she was part of the royal family of a race that used to own the tower where Hengfel was now living, but had been driven into exile by the invaders. She agreed to help us and with her followers, went with us back into the tower to find the key to get back to Ain-Mai’s world, and then to mine. There was a battle with Hengfel’s dragons, but we defeated them and used the stone circle to go back to Ain-Mai’s world.

19 Home at Last

Home at Last

We will standing once more on the stone circle in the forest clearing where I had first met Ain-Mai. It had only been about a week before, but it seemed like months. It was early evening and the clearing was deserted, which was just as well. Anyone who had seen us appear—especially Chirik in his current blood-soaked condition—would have been scared out of their senses.

Is this your world?” Klista asked, and Ain-Mai nodded. “This is the only way for those such as Hengfel to come here, and I will take it with me and destroy it.” She held up the medallion. “When we leave, I would suggest you destroy this stone circle.

There are servants of Hengfel that are still here,” Ain-Mai said. “They will try to stop us.

They are now stranded here with no help from their own world. They will not be too hard to deal with, I think.

I gave Ain-Mai a hug, not knowing the proper etiquette in her world. “I won’t forget you,” I said. “I am sorry for everything you went through.

She kissed my hand. “Thank you again for saving me, in the room with the dragons and the cages,” she said. “I will remember you always.” She took off the bracelet that allowed us to talk and gave it to Klista, Then, with a final bow, she turned and walked away into the trees.

“Now I will bring you home and I can get back to more important matters,” Klista said to me in English. I said good-bye to Chirik and Bruce, and to the weird ghilzhi creature too, since he was there. Then Klista touched me on the shoulder and the world went black.

A moment later, there were trees all around, very much like in Ain-Mai’s world, although there was something familiar in the scent of the plants.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“I don’t know; somewhere in your world,” Klista said. “I just brought you to the area of your world that was closest to that last one. It’s probably near where you left. Will you be okay from here?” I nodded. “So,” she continued, “are you going to tell people about this?”

“I’m not sure,” I said, although I was already mentally planning how I would write the story.

She smiled. “That’s okay; yours is a skeptical time. No one would believe you anyway.” She held up her hand in farewell and then disappeared in a small flash of light.

It’s odd how you can get used to living in fantastic circumstances. Now that I was back, the sheer banality of my life seemed to come crashing down on me and I felt a bit depressed. I had gotten my original clothes before I had left Klista’s mansion and now I changed back into them. All except the boots, one of which was wrecked beyond repair. I was on a path and I limped slowly down it until I came to a Buddhist temple. I was hoping to sit down for a bit and relax before asking where I was, but my appearance caused quite a stir.

“Are you the foreigner that has been missing in the mountains for over a week?” one of the monks asked me. Once they found that I was, they asked all kinds of questions, most of which I could not answer without sounding insane, such as “Where were you this whole time?” Still, they brought me in and gave me food and drink. A while later, the police came and asked me most of the same questions, plus more. It seems that the owner of the lodge where I had left my pack had reported me missing. I put off their questions as best as I could or gave such incoherent answers that they eventually gave up and attributed my condition to shock. They offered to drive me to the nearest city to buy more shoes and catch a bus back home.

Just as I was leaving the temple, I noticed that the base of the stupa in the main courtyard looked familiar. It was an old carved stone circle about a foot high. With a thrill of excitement, I realized it looked very much like the one in Ain-Mai’s world. I pointed it out to the senior monk who was walking with us.

“That is very old,” he said. “It comes from before this temple was built. Why do you ask?”

“I think I have seen one like it before,” I said.

“Ah, then you are fortunate,” he said with a strange smile and bowed deeply. I left not knowing what to make of it.

Three hours later, I was sitting at a bus terminal, wearing new shoes in the biggest size they could find, which were still horribly tight on me, and thinking about my life: my normal, day-to-day life. I missed my wife and wanted to get home to her as soon as I could. She had sobbed when I called to tell her I was okay, something very uncharacteristic for her. I wanted to be there, to be able to put my arms around her and comfort her.

I needed to go home—wanted to too, of course, but still, part of me wanted to be back there. Back where I could flit to another world on a stone circle, where there was uncommon dangers and I had rescued a girl from dragons, even if I had paid for it later with pain and injury. No one might believe my story, but I know the truth of it, and I knew that it had changed me.

The End

The Battle of the Stone Circle Room – Fantastic Travelogue #18

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I found myself in another world. I met a young woman there named Ain-Mai. We eventually got captured, along with her brother Sing-ga, by a sorceress named Hengfel, who took us to her world. We got away from her and hid in the air tunnels of her fortress. Sing-ga died after being attacked by small spider-like creatures. Ain-Mai and I found our way to the outside of the huge fortress where we sheltered in a small hollow. I woke up to find a small winged creature looking at me. He brought us up the mountain and through a portal into a beautiful area where we were taken care of. A woman named Klista explained to us that she was part of the royal family of a race that used to own the tower where Hengfel was now living, but had been driven into exile by the invaders. She agreed, with the help of her assistant, Bruce Riansson, and someone named Chirik, to help us get home. Soon after that, Klista transported us back to Hengfel’s fortress.

18 Battle of the Stone Circle Room

The Battle of the Stone Circle Room

When I could see again, I saw that we were in the huge stone circle room in Hengfel’s fortress. Klista was already striding towards the far wall with Bruce Riansson by her side. Chirik was to one side, his warhammer poised and ready.

Ain-Mai was tugging at my hand. “Come on, we have to keep up with them.”

Klista evidently knew where she was going. She was heading straight for a narrow stairway along the side of the room. We were about halfway there when the first dragon noticed us. It flew up from one of the trenches that bordered the room, just to our left, and was about to keep going when it saw us. It curved in midair, coming at Ain-Mai and me with open jaws. Chirik was fifty feet away on the other side of us.

At that moment, I would never have believed that I had even punched one of these in the face if I hadn’t remembered it, and the experience didn’t make me any less afraid. I was about to run when Chirik leapt in front of us and swung the warhammer up and into the head of the dragon. The dragon seemed to evaporate in front of the hammer and a moment later, the headless body fell twitching to the ground.

Stay near me,” Chirik said and jogged to catch up with Klista and Bruce. We did not need any encouragement.

Up here is where the medallions used to be kept,” Klista said. “Let’s hope that they have not changed things.” She began to climb the long, curving stair and Bruce followed her. Chirik climbed next, so Ain-Mai and I followed him.

Do you remember the pattern on the medallion that Hengfel had?” I asked Ain-Mai.

I have never gotten a good look at it,” she replied. “Do you?”

I think so; at least I remember a snaky pattern on it. I didn’t say anything, since I don’t know how similar they all are.

We reached the top of the stair and entered a room. It seemed small after the huge emptiness of the stone circle room, but it was still as big as a large classroom. The walls were covered with medallions, hundreds of them, and while this was rather distressing, what caught my attention immediately was the large lizard-like creature crouched it in the middle of the room. It was bent over and glowed red and spoke with a hissing, sibilant voice.

What are you doing here?” it asked. “Who are you?

You should know who I am, ghilzhi, or at least whom I represent. This is our fortress and our medallions and I am taking back what is mine.

The creature seemed suddenly nervous. “I see that you have returned, my lady, but it is no good. Hengfel owns this fortress now and there is no resistance against her.

We will see,” Klista said. “Right now, in recognition of the ancient harmony between our races, please do not hinder us in finding what we need.”

She will kill me,” the creature, which was apparently called a ghilzhi, said.

Then come with us,” Klista said. “You can be an ambassador to your people, to join in the resistance.

The ghilzhi did not say anything, but stood aside. Klista moved over to the wall and surveyed the medallions.

“I think I remember a little of what the design looked like,” I said, out loud. “It had a snake-like design on it.”

Klista nodded. “Okay, come stand by me and tell me if you see one that looks familiar.”

Although there were probably a thousand medallions on the walls, not all of them looked recently used. Most of them were covered with dust and only several rows near the door looked clean and bright. We started to go through these one by one.

My lady, I hate to tell you that Hengfel has been alerted of your presence,” the ghilzhi said. “She is on her way to the room below.” Klista only nodded and continued to go through the medallions.

When we had gone through them all, there were only two that Klista had not been to before that looked like the pattern I remembered.

This is going to be interesting,” Chirik said, looking out the door. “There is more than one dragon outside.

Klista walked through the door and onto the stairs. I went through and looked down, bracing myself for the sight of five or ten dragons flying around. I almost gasped out loud when I saw that the room was filled with hundreds of dragons; not flying, but standing on the floor or hanging off the walls. In the middle of the floor was Hengfel, sitting on her huge, red dragon.

Should we flee?” Bruce asked.

Not yet,” Klista said. “I will give Chirik a chance to prove himself.” She started to walk down the stair.

How dare you return here?” Hengfel called out. I first thought she was talking to me, but then I realized she was talking to Klista. “You have lost and now you come back with a handful of nothings, including a few of my slaves? Even with an army you could do nothing but die.

She called us slaves,” I said to Ain-Mai. She was radiating hatred towards Hengfel and did not reply.

I don’t need an army; I have him,” Klista said, gesturing to Chirik.

A dragon launched itself off the wall above and plummeted straight towards us. Just before it reached us, Chirik leapt and grabbed it by the neck. He flipped it like a hammer and used its momentum to propel himself far out into the room. The dragons all leaped to the attack. Soon he had disappeared beneath the bodies, but I saw him kill five of them before he hit the floor.

Klista grabbed my hand and in a flash, Klista, Bruce, Ain-Mai, the ghilzhi and I were all standing in the center of the room, with dragons all around us. Klista held up one of the medallions and I felt a power growing around us. It worked faster than when Hengfel had done it, which was good. A nearby dragon had just started to charge us when we disappeared.


I almost choked as hot air seared my lungs. We were standing on a stone circle on top of a high peak. In the distance, volcanoes erupted constantly and lava rivers flowed in the valley below us. The air was thick with ash.

Klista concluded fairly quickly that this was not the right world and a moment I felt a vibration of energy go through me and the world went black.


We were back in the huge stone circle room, but even though it seemed as only a few seconds had passed, there were much fewer dragons. Then I saw Chirik. The warhammer was spinning so fast I could barely see it. The whole room was a scene of carnage and now most of the dragons that were left alive were up in the air, flying around in confusion or fleeing to the walls. Hengfel’s dragon was high in the air.

Chirik stopped when he saw us and walked over. He was a mess of blood and bits of dragon scales but he was grinning. He barely looked tired. Klista merely nodded and gave him a small smile.

We will go now,” Klista shouted, “but we will return, you can depend on it. In the meantime, here is one world you will never be able to reach again.” Klista held up the medallion to Ain-Mai’s world. The last thing I heard before we disappeared was Hengfel’s scream of rage.

(to be concluded…)

The Invasion Begins – Fantastic Travelogue #17

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I found myself in another world. I met a young woman there named Ain-Mai. We eventually got captured, along with her brother Sing-ga, by a sorceress named Hengfel, who took us to her world. We got away from her and hid in the air tunnels of her fortress. Sing-ga died after being attacked by small spider-like creatures. Ain-Mai and I found our way to the outside of the huge fortress where we sheltered in a small hollow. I woke up to find a small winged creature looking at me. He brought us up the mountain and through a portal into a beautiful area where we were taken care of. A woman named Klista explained to us that she was part of the royal family of a race that used to own the tower where Hengfel was now living, but had been driven into exile by the invaders. She agreed, with the help of her assistant, Bruce Riansson, and someone named Chirik, to help us get home.

17 The Invasion Begins

The Invasion Begins

Ever since I had gotten lost while hiking and found myself in another world, there had been a lot of firsts in my life: the first time I had ever traveled between worlds; the first time I had ever seen a dragon; the first time I had ever punched a dragon; the first time I had ever ridden on a giant silky, white spider; and after meeting Chirik, the first time I had ever seen a giant.

Bruce had left the room and returned a moment later, accompanied by a man at least eight feet tall, with long brown hair that hung down to his waist. It took a moment before I realized that his eyes glowed faintly green as well.

Bruce said that the campaign was beginning at last, my lady,” Chirik said. He spoke out loud in an unknown language, but the meaning came through into my mind as well.

Yes, are you ready?” Klista asked.

Chirik pulled a small hammer out of his belt, which grew into a seven-foot-long warhammer as he held it. “There is nothing else I require.”

Good. Uh, get to know each other,” Klista said. She motioned towards us and walked out, followed by Bruce. Chirik sat down on the floor, cross-legged with the warhammer on his knees.

What do you do?” he asked, looking at me.

I’m a teacher,” I said, not sure what he meant. “I teach . . . language.

Do you know the language of our enemy?


Then why are you here?” he asked. I still wasn’t totally used to the mental communication through the bracelets we were all wearing, but I could tell that he was blunt, but not necessarily trying to be rude.

I got lost,” I said, feeling slightly stupid.

We were captured by the enemy and escaped. He rescued me,” Ain-Mai said. She mentally told him the story, and I saw images of myself through her eyes as I jumped from cage to cage to get her and then fought my way back past attacking dragons. I should have been proud, but from her perspective, I thought I looked rather ridiculous and I started to blush.

Chirik chuckled and nodded in satisfaction. “Brave, but there is a better way.” He patted the warhammer. “You took a lot of hurt as well. How are you going to go with us, if you still cannot walk?

I wasn’t sure about that either but I slid off the floating platform where I was sitting and tentatively tried a step. Most of the pain was gone and although I probably couldn’t have run, I found that I could walk around fairly well.

Ain-Mai and I sat with Chirik in the water-room for several hours. After a while, Chirik seemed to get lost in his own thoughts, none of which he shared with us.

I am sorry again for what happened to Sing-ga,” I said, turning to Ain-Mai.

She just nodded and I could tell she was trying to keep her thoughts from me. Finally, she said, “It’s not your fault. None of the other men that Hengfel has captured have come back either. Sing-ga will not be any different so it is okay.” I thought this was odd logic, but I hoped she found comfort in it.

15 Mansion

Several hours later, Klista returned with Bruce Riansson. She sat down and immediately put her feet in the water. “We are about to begin,” she said. “It will just be the five of us, although these two—” she motioned to Ain-Mai and me “—have no purpose but to go home. This is a quick invasion and a test, so if there is any fighting to be done, I am hoping you can handle it, Chirik.” Chirik indicated wordlessly that he would be overjoyed to do all the fighting himself.

I was thinking that we would have to start at the top of the tower, where we had entered this place, and make our way down the side and back through all the tunnels, retracing the path that Ain-Mai and I had taken. My thoughts must have been more transparent than I imagined, because Klista shook her head at me. “I don’t use doors and stone circles when I travel. We will go directly to the large stone circle room, and we will find which world to send you to. The system there uses medallions: one for each world it goes to. I know I have never been to your world before—” Klista motioned to Ain-Mai “—so I just need to eliminate all the ones I have been to and see what is left.

What if there are a lot you haven’t been to?” I asked.

Then we will be there a while,” Klista said. “I have just spent the last few hours memorizing the medallion symbols for all 814 worlds I have been to. There is a good chance there will not be many more there that I have never been to.

I shouldn’t have asked, but the question slipped out before I could stop it. “How many worlds are there in all?

About 48,000 that I know about,” Klista said, “but there will not be more than a hundred medallions there, I would think. Now, let us go. When we get there, you two, stay near me. We may have to leave in a hurry. Now hold hands.

I took Ain-Mai’s hand and then felt Chirik’s huge hand clamp onto my shoulder. Klista touched Ain-Mai and Bruce. There was a flash and the room around us disappeared.

(to be continued…)

Klista’s Story – Fantastic Travelogue #16

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I found myself in another world. I met a young woman there named Ain-Mai. We eventually got captured, along with her brother Sing-ga, by a sorceress named Hengfel, who took us to her world. We got away from her and hid in the air tunnels of her fortress. Sing-ga died after being attacked by small spider-like creatures. Ain-Mai and I found our way to the outside of the huge fortress where we sheltered in a small hollow. I woke up to find a small winged creature looking at me. He brought us up the mountain and through a portal into a beautiful area where we were taken care of. A woman named Klista came into my room.

16 Klista story

Klista’s Story

“There is a lot that I want to learn from you, and perhaps some that I can tell you as well,” the regal woman calling herself Klista said. “Right now, let us go meet your friend.” She helped me from the bed onto a square platform that immediately started to float and then moved out the doorway and along the corridor.

“Is this magic?” I asked.

“If by magic you mean it works in ways you wouldn’t understand, then yes,” Klista said. She was striding along next to me.

We came out into the room with the falling water. Ain-Mai was there, sitting by the small waterfall. She had changed clothing and despite the scratches on her face and neck, she looked more beautiful than ever.

It is good to see you again, David,” Ain-Mai said mentally, her thoughts coming directly into my mind. I noticed she had a similar bracelet on as me. I blushed, although I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was the shock of suddenly being able to talk freely after all our time together.

It’s good to see you too. Are you feeling well?

I think I can say that both of you are not perfect, but are doing much better than when we found you,” Klista broke in. “Now, I need to know how you came to be on the side of the Eithelfeen, the tower where Drovoi found you.

I told her everything I knew, from getting lost in the woods in Korea and meeting Ain-Mai and her brother, to getting captured by Hengfel and brought to the huge fortress with the dragons. Then Ain-Mai told her perspective on all that had happened. Klista just listened and nodded.

I am curious how you got to her world in the first place,” Klista said, gesturing to Ain-Mai.“You didn’t mention it. Was there a stone circle, or did you have a certain item?

Nothing like that,” I said. “At least, I don’t think so. I was walking in the woods and I found myself in the other place, Ain-Mai’s country.

There are unstable areas, where world brush against each other briefly,” Klista said. “Likely there was a stone circle or a similar way of traveling between worlds at that spot, long ago.

Please,” Ain-Mai broke in. “Can you tell me who Hengfel is? She has been coming to our world for many years, taking our men and anything else she wants back with her. Can you stop her?

15 Mansion

Klista sat down on the floor and put her feet in the pool of water. Then she took a breath. “Before I tell you who she is, let me tell you who I am. I am the daughter of the rulers of the Zifliels. We have for a long time been ambassadors and diplomats between many worlds. Wherever we go, we establish trading posts and where there is a lot of trade, we set up the stone circles or some such thing to make movement back and forth easier.

In one world, we set up trade with a small nation, not realizing that it was threatened by an even greater threat, the people that we now refer to as the Invaders. They seized the technology of the stone circles and used it to invade our world with their dragons and other terrible creatures. We defended ourselves as well as possible and although we are adept at traveling between worlds, they were the stronger fighters and eventually we were forced to flee our world to hide in exile in others. We destroyed as many of the circles as we could to limit the spread of the Invaders, but some survived, such as the great one in the Eithelfeen.

“The Invaders used it and others to invade more worlds. Some of them, like your Hengfel, are selfish and greedy and only use it to get more things for themselves. Others, however, use our network to continue the conquest. We fight them whenever we can, but they are almost always stronger.

I found this background information interesting, but there was only one question I was interested in. “Do you know how I can get home?” I asked.

I know where your world is and I do not need to use a stone circle to travel,” Klista said. “However, I do not know where you are from.” She indicated Ain-Mai. “In order for you to get home, you will need to go back to the room you came through and find the right medallion to get back to your own world.

What, alone?” I asked.

Obviously not alone,” Klista said. “If it were possible for a single girl to break into the heart of the fortress and use the machine that is most precious to the owner, we would have no trouble taking it back. No, I will go with her; with you too, if you want to come. And not just us. I think I will use this opportunity as a test and if it works, then this Hengfel will never come back to your world again.

Klista closed her eye. “Bruce, come out here, please.” Although I could hear her, the thought seemed to be projected farther away. A moment later, a man came out into the room. He nodded at us and smiled.

Klista stood up and began drying her feet. “Bruce,” she said. “Go call Chirik. Tell him to get ready for war.”

(to be continued…)

You can read more about Klista, Bruce, and Chirik here.

The Mansion in the Summit – Fantastic Travelogue #15

Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.

Synopsis: I was hiking in the mountains of Korea when I found myself in another world. I met a young woman there named Ain-Mai. We eventually got captured, along with her brother Sing-ga, by a sorceress named Hengfel, who took us to her world. We got away from her and hid in the air tunnels. Sing-ga died after being attacked by small spider-like creatures. Ain-Mai and I found our way to the outside of the huge fortress where we sheltered in a small hollow. I woke up to find a small winged creature looking at me.

15 Peak Mansion

The Mansion in the Summit

The winged creature perched on the entrance to our hollow put its hands over its eyes and bowed deeply. Then it fluttered forward a few steps and took off one of its bracelets, offering it to me.

Ain-Mai woke up when I tried to stand and she gasped at the sight of the thing. I was nervous as well, but it kept offering me the golden bracelet, so finally, I took it. It mimed for me to put it on, but it was too small to put around my wrist and I had to stick it on four of my fingers.

That is better. Now we can talk, the creature said suddenly. The meaning of the words went straight to my mind, without it moving its mouth at all.

Who are you? I asked. It was strange to speak in my mind and have him answer there. I didn’t like it; it was as if someone was snooping on my thoughts.

My name is Drovoi and I am a diplomat in exile. At one time, we met with peoples from many worlds until we were conquered. I will tell you more later, but right now you are hurt and hungry. I will take you to somewhere where you can rest and get treated and then we can talk a little more.

Ain-Mai put a hand on my arm and gave me a questioning look. I took off the bracelet and handed it to her. I saw her eyes widen and I knew that she was conversing mentally with Drovoi. After a moment, she gave it back to me.

I have a transport coming to take you to our refuge, but we must hurry; the dragons are often about in the morning and I do not want to get drawn into a battle.

Because we were conversing with ideas instead of words, I got a mental picture of the “transport” just before it appeared. Still, it was a shock. A curved, furry leg reached over the edge of the hollow and a creature like a huge tarantula appeared. It was covered in white hair and its legs ended in small hands that gripped at the rocks as it moved.

You want us to get on that thing? I asked.

It is not dangerous and it will travel quickly where we need to go—much quicker than you can alone. Do not worry. See?

Drovoi took off his bracelet and held it against the creature’s head. I did not feel thoughts—only simple emotions coming from it—but I could tell that it was tame and amiable, with the temperament of a St. Bernard rather than a predator.

I let Ain-Mai feel this as well, and then we both hobbled forward and slowly climbed on its back. It was the strangest thing I have ever done in my life, even including my adventures of the previous week. The white fur was as soft as silk and it had a harness and back support attached to it. This turned out to be a very good thing as the creature began to climb up the steep side of the tower. Its leathery tail came around and held us in place so that we did not slip off its back.

We climbed for twenty minutes, the white spider-mount moving upwards steadily, never slowing or speeding up. The air began to get thin and the wind increased. I was freezing and my arms were starting to ache from holding on tightly. Drovoi had flown on ahead, it seemed. I looked down behind us and saw dragons flying around, thousands of feet below us.

Finally, we reached the summit of the tower and I could see that we were in the middle of what had once been a huge city. It stretched away for miles on all sides. There were other huge towers visible in the distance, but those had been broken down, so that only the lower parts were still standing.

Drovoi appeared from behind a rock. Please come in. You must be very tired, he said. The wind was screaming and threatening to blow us all off and we followed him behind the rock. There was a door, camouflaged to look like the rock. It was open, but I could see that the cave beyond it was only a few feet deep. Still, I followed Drovoi inside. He suddenly disappeared, but before I could even react, everything around me changed.

15 Mansion

The wind was gone. The air pressure was normal again. We were standing in a wide room with a pool of water in the middle. The floors were smooth stone and water was falling from above. The air was bursting with the fragrances of flowers and fruit. A moment later, men and women came towards us and escorted Ain-Mai and me to separate rooms.

What came next was like being in a spa, hospital, and restaurant, all rolled into one. The men bandaged my injuries with cloths and medicine. Then they helped me change into clean clothes and served me all sorts of food that I could not even begin to describe accurately. There were meats and fruits and other things I could barely have imagined: foods that were like eating cold, flavored air or others that looked like square diamonds until they melted in my mouth in a burst of sweetness.

After I had been treated and had eaten as much as I could, a woman came into the room. She was tall and wore a red cloak, with long, dark hair hung down the back. She was beautiful, although her face had a timeless look to it. She handed me a golden bracelet that was big enough for me to put on.

How in all the million worlds did you end up on the outside of that tower? she asked and her eyes bored into me as if she was trying to read my mind.

It’s a very long story, I said, mentally. I’m not totally sure myself.

She was still looking at me very hard. Suddenly she said out loud and in English, “Where are you from?”

I had not realized it until then how long it had been since I had heard English spoken and my shocked expression must have shown my comprehension. She only nodded.

“You speak English,” I said, like an idiot.

“I speak many languages,” she said, “and I have been to your world before. My name is Klista.”


(to be continued…)

Brent Thomas: World Scout

Read the first part of this story, See the World Through a Cardboard Tube! or read the other stories about Klista here.


A gust of wind blew down the street, knocking a battered circle of cardboard out from behind Brent’s glasses. He dove for it and managed to grab it before it blew into the gutter.

“What is that, like a monocle?” a voice said. Brent turned around to a young woman standing behind him. She was holding a stack of books, evidently on her way to class.

“It’s nothing,” Brent said, closing his fingers gently over the cardboard circle.

“I’ve seen you around before, with that thing propped up behind your glasses. You always seem to be walking around in your own little world. You look happy.”

Brent nodded awkwardly, just hoping she would leave. Instead, she stuck out her hand. “I’m Desiree, by the way.”

“Brent Thomas,” he said, shaking her hand. “You probably think I’m weird. Is it really obvious? The cardboard?” He indicated the circle in his hand.

“Not unless someone looks at you closely,” she said with a smile. “Are you busy? Can I buy you some coffee?”

“Um, sure,” Brent said. “That’d be great.”

They started walking down the leaf-scattered path towards the university coffee shop. “So,” Desiree said, “why do you wear that circle under your glasses? Is it just to be weird?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Brent said.

“Try me.” He just smiled and shook his head.

Desiree dropped the subject and they chatted over their coffee about their majors and school life. Brent liked her and he asked her out the next weekend. They started seeing each other regularly. A month after the windy day when they had met, the two of them were curled up on the couch in Brent’s townhouse, watching TV.

“Do you trust me?” Desiree asked suddenly.

“Of course,” Brent said. “What’s up?”

“Tell me, why do you wear that cardboard circle under your glasses? You don’t do it when you’re with me, but when I’ve run into you, I’ve seen it. You always take it out as soon as you can. What is it?”

“I’ll tell you, but you still won’t believe me,” Brent said. “It lets me see into other worlds.” He saw her expression and preempted her next question. “Look, I can’t explain it—it’s like magic or something. When I was in middle school, this van came to my school and a man and woman said they had a cardboard tube that let you see into other worlds. A few other people tried it and swore they saw strange and amazing things through the tube. Later, I found out that the woman had paid them to say that. The thing is, when I looked inside, I really saw into another world. The woman let me keep the tube. I used to spend hours looking through it—you could not imagine the things I’ve seen. Anyway, I tried cutting a thin slice off the end of the tube and that still worked. That’s what it is.”

Desiree was frowning slightly, as if thinking. “You’re kind of scaring me,” she said at last. Then, “Can I see?”

“Yeah, I guess, as long as you promise not to tell anyone else. Be careful with it.” Brent pulled out a small metal case and gingerly handed the cardboard circle to Desiree. She put it up to her eye and then hit him on the arm.

“You are so full of it.”

“Why? What do you see?” he asked.
“I see you and the rest of the room, of course.” She flipped it around. “Still just you.”

“Give it to me.” Brent put it up to his eye. Desiree and the living room disappeared. In front of him was a dark sky with stark mountains looming up as far as he could see. Fountains of glittering white shot up thousands of feet in the air. In the sky above him wheeled a disc of fiery color unlike anything he had seen before.

He took the circle down from his eye and gave a small laugh. “Well, I guess it’s broken.” She laughed too, gently mocking his weirdness, and turned back towards the TV.

That night, Brent was awakened by his cell phone ringing. When he answered a female voice said, without preamble, “Open your door. Your bell’s broken.”

“Who is this?”

“Just open the door.”

Brent went downstairs and opened the front door. A tall woman with long black hair and a red cloak stood in front of him. She stepped inside before he could react.

“Well, Brent, you’re looking well. How are you?”

Brent stared at her. “Who are you?”

The woman made a noise of irritation. “Didn’t I tell you to remember my name?”

He thought back, trying to remember that name. “Klista? You gave me the cardboard tube, back in middle school. That was five years ago. How did you find me?”

“How could I have lost you? You’re important to my plans, Brent. I see you have been using the tube quite a bit. That’s good. You need the experience.”

“What do you want from me?” Brent said. “You didn’t say back then that there was any catch.” He was about to offer her the tube back, but he stopped himself.

“I see you showed it to someone else recently,” Klista said. “A girl. It didn’t work for her, did it?” She waited for him to nod. “It doesn’t work for anyone, except you. That’s why I need you, Brent. You’re special. Almost no one can see between worlds like you can. It took me a very, very long time to find you back then. You were too young, though, so I thought I’d give you a few years to get used to the extra sight.”

“It shifts from time to time,” Brent said. “The view inside, I mean. It doesn’t always show the same place.”

“The one I gave you was just a passive Gazer,” Klista said. “Dimensions shift in relation to one another over time. The tube just shows what’s closes to you at that moment. But with training, you can see what you want to see, across multiple dimensions. That’s why I want you to come work for me. I need you, Brent, to be my scout. To look across the worlds and see what no one else can see.”

Thoughts rose and fell in Brent’s sleep drugged mind, but all he could say was, “I don’t understand.”

Klista reached over and tapped him on the cheek with her gloved hand. “Wake up, Brent. I’m offering you a job. You will never get an opportunity like this again. You can come back before long, but for right now, come with me and I’ll show you.”

“If is far?” Brent asked. He was wondering what Desiree would think if he suddenly disappeared. Then there were missed classes, angry professors, worried friends…

“Brent,” Klista said, reproach in her voice. “What is distance? Look through the tube. Another world right there in front of you. At least come and see what I have to show you. Then, you if want, come back and keep studying creative writing, making up stories about all the places you weren’t up to visiting yourself.”

“Okay, fine,” Brent said. A thrill of fear and excitement went through him at the idea of actually going to the worlds that he had seen. “Let me go get dressed, at least.”

“I’ll wait here,” she said. “Also, if you have clothes for cold weather, I’d bring those too.”

“Sure.” Brent ran upstairs, his heart pounding.

The Key of Spreading Branches

Read the previous stories about Klista here.



Bruce Riansson hung suspended in an abyss of blackness, a slender rope the only thing keeping him alive. He hated the dark and the oppressive, dead silence that he was forbidden to break. As he valued his life, he could not break it.

He was wearing bulky spectacles over his eyes. They were made to see in the dark but they could do nothing in absolute darkness and he was as blind as if he were not even wearing them. The spectacles were magic, of course. At least that’s what Klista said. Ever since he had joined her and she had whisked him away from Indrake and everything he had known, everything seemed to be magic.

Watch out for the moths, she had said, just before he had descended into the pit. They sense sound. Do not make a sound, or I will have to find another man with your abilities to help me. It was not very comforting.

The shaft had narrowed above and he had been forced to climb through, sweating and praying he would not trip or kick a rock into the chasm. He could hear the rope rubbing on the rock above him now. Scrap, scrap, scrap… It was a tiny sound, but it was magnified in the stillness of the cavern.

What am I doing here? he thought, not for the first time. I used to be an innkeeper. How did I ever get to this point? He remembered every step clearly, but it seemed so unreal—only a few weeks ago he had been a simple innkeeper in Indrake, and now he was breaking into an ultra-secure prison on another world to free a murderous, violent man.

There was a flutter of pale white in the darkness near his head. It was a moth, as big as his hand and faintly luminescent. It was beating its wings slowly, as if time had slowed down. Flap…flap…flap. More appeared around him, coming up from below, until he was surrounded in a cloud of white.

Bruce remained as still as a stone, trying not even to breathe. One of the moths landed on his sleeve and he saw its feet burn tiny holes in the fabric. A small tongue of flame came from its mouth and singed the cloth before it took off.

The moths swirled around him, but most did not seem to notice him. Bruce wondered if they were blind. They continued upwards in a shifting column of white wings until they were lost from sight. What if they were going for the rope?

At that moment, Bruce saw two small lights appear in the darkness in front of him—eyes, glowing brightly green through his spectacles. In their small light, he saw that he was hanging directly in front of a large cage. Inside stood a giant, looking out at him.

The rope shivered slightly. Bruce could imagine those tiny, burning feet walking along his lifeline as the fibers melted and popped. He held out his hand and the giant in the cage reached out towards him. Their outstretched hands were only a few feet apart. Desperately, Bruce swung his body, moving closer and closer until he felt contact and his hand disappeared inside the huge fist of the giant.

As he was being pulled towards the cage, he felt the rope give way above him. There was a jerk on his arm and a second later, he was being forced through the narrow bars of the cage. The giant man put him down and sat back, saying nothing.

Bruce saw now that the man was about eight feet tall, dressed in a dark-grey smock, with long, wild hair. For a moment, the two stood looking at each other until Bruce reached down into his bag and pulled out two circles of metal. He clasped one around his arm and gave the other to the prisoner, motioning for him to do the same. The man took it slowly and then opened it as far as it would go and slipped it onto his wrist.

“Can you hear me?” Bruce said, inside his mind.

“Yes,” came the deep reply, resonating inside Bruce’s mind. “How can I hear you if you not making any sound?”

Magic,” Bruce said with a smile. “Your name is Chirik? I am here to get you out.”

“And who are you?” Chirik asked. “Have the Feyluns sent you here?”

“I do not know who they are,” Bruce said. “I was sent here by a woman named Klista. She wants you to work for her. She said that if you agree, you would be free and would lead an army for her.”

Chirik looked steadily at Bruce and his eyes glowed a little brighter, then dimmed. “I do not know anyone named Klista, and I am a mercenary, not a general. Anyway, there is no way out of here. The bars are unbreakable and the only key to the cell door was destroyed. They pulverized it and blew the dust through the keyhole at me.”

“There is a way,” Bruce said, gingerly pulling out a large, metal key in the shape of a tree with spreading branches. “This key will open any door, Klista said. Put it up to the keyhole and it will do the rest.”

Chirik took the key. It fit inside his palm easily. He put it up to the keyhole and as the key touched the metal of the door, the spreading branches contracted and slipped through the small hole. There was a soft whine and then a loud clunk. Chirik pulled the door open.

“Magic, indeed,” he said through his thoughts. “I have sat here for time uncounted, hungering for a freedom I knew would never come. I would have killed myself if I had had the means, but instead I was left to be tortured in darkness and silence. Is this Klista a sorceress that she could find me here and find a way for me to escape?

“Possibly, but you will have to ask her that,” Bruce said. “She rarely tells me what she is thinking or how she does things, besides saying magic. She also told me to give you this.”

Bruce took out a bundle wrapped in cloth and gave it to Chirik, who unwrapped it. It was a hammer, about a foot long. Chirik held it up and as he did, it grew until it became a huge warhammer, taller than Bruce.

Chirik’s eyes glowed like white fire and Bruce could see the look of intense joy on his face. Suddenly, Chirik roared a battle-cry that echoed and re-echoed off the walls of the cavern.

“Get behind me and out of the way of the hammer,” he cried out loud—the words he spoke were foreign to Bruce, but the meaning came through to his mind. Chirik flung the door open and charged through, Bruce following as close behind as he dared.

They ran through narrow tunnels that got broader as they ascended. Bruce could only faintly see the path ahead of them by the light of Chirik’s eyes. A statue loomed up in the middle of the corridor but Chirik pulverized it with one swing of the warhammer. Another and another appeared in front of them, but all of them turned to dust a moment later. Chirik came to a huge door and started to pound on it with the hammer. After five hits, the door cracked, after twelve, it splintered, and after the sixteenth, Bruce was able to crawl out into the cool night air. A moment later, Chirik joined him.

The sky was dark blue and large red stars burned overhead, just as Bruce had left it less than an hour before. Behind them, a huge tower loomed up in silhouette against the night sky. The land about them was dead—no lights could be seen and only a faint wind sighed through the bare rocks.

“Why are there no guards in the tower?” Bruce asked.

“What guards there are, are usually sufficient,” Chirik said. He said this out loud, but it was still through his mind that Bruce understood the words. “Without your magic key and the warhammer of Clemin, escape would have been impossible.”

“I am glad to see again, Bruce,” another voice said in his head. Bruce turned to see Klista coming towards them, holding a glowing orb in front of her. She was dressed in her customary red cloak and smiling. “Chirik, my name is Klista. Remember it well, since I am your rescuer. Will you work with me?”

“You saved me from that hell,” Chirik said. “Whatever I can do for you, my lady, I will.”

“Good,” Klista said. “We have one more important person to get and then the great campaign begins.”

She touched both of them on the arm. A flash of light enveloped them and they were gone.

Let the Cast Assemble

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I tend to write a wide variety of stories with many different characters. However, if you were really paying attention, you know that a few characters have come up more than once.

The first of these is Klista. She first appeared in the story See the World Through a Cardboard Tube! and then recently in The Recruitment of Bruce Riansson.

Klista is a mysterious character. She is a woman who apparently has no trouble traveling between worlds or even quickly in space. Where she comes from is unknown. She often wears a red cloak and carries a bag of strange, possibly magical, items. As for what she does, she tells Bruce Riansson to “think of me as a type of guide. I show secrets to people who need them and who are worthy.” What this actually means, will be explored in later stories.

Joining her is Bruce Riansson, a former innkeeper who was exiled from his home country of Indrake for harboring a fleeing traitor. Because The Recruitment of Bruce Riansson occurred first, Bruce is actually the unnamed male assistant in See the World Through a Cardboard Tube!

The second recurring character is Horus Vere. He was the main character in The Mermaid’s Kiss and I Was on Trial Once… He come from the same world as Bruce Riansson and is a professional traveler, who seeks adventure and whatever profit he can make along the way.

A third character who will become a recurring character is Edward “The Squid” Morrison, who appeared in the recent story Saturday, 4am. He is an extortionist and scavenger in post-apocalyptic England who is out to find what he calls “hidden pearls” of the old world, the time Before. He is accompanied by his recently-acquired android follower, Droog.

I will still write unrelated stories, but I will write more stories to expand these three story arcs. Let me know if there is one character whose stories you particularly enjoy and I will try to do more with them.

The Recruitment of Bruce Riansson

The leaves were what first spoke to Bruce Riansson and told him that maybe there was still some hope in life.

He sat on the damp, pungent leaf mould of the clearing just where the squad of soldiers had left him, with all that he now owned in the world: a satchel with enough food for two meals, a small knife and three copper coins. He had been exiled to the wilderness and they had left him three copper coins. It was a mockery of charity.

He wished they had just killed him. He had been sentenced to death, but the king, with a wicked glint in his eyes, had so graciously, so magnanimously commuted his sentence to exile. Now he would die a longer, more painful death than any executioner’s axe could give.

He had been sitting that way for some time when he heard the leaves rustling and whispering above him as the wind played them back and forth restlessly. There were no words in their message, but as he listened, he felt better. He was still alive and he was free now. There was still hope.

Bruce stood up and with a start, noticed a woman looking at him from across the clearing. She had black hair and was wearing a dark red cloak of a style he had never seen before. She smiled at him. “I was wondering when you would stand up. Those leaves are quite persuasive, I see.”

Bruce looked at her warily. “Was it you who made them shake like that?”

“No, that was only the wind,” she said, walking towards him. “But I had a feeling they would have that effect on you. My name is Klista. Remember it, please. And you are?”

“Bruce Riansson,” he said, with a feeling that she already knew.

“How is it that you are sitting out here alone, Bruce Riansson?” Klista asked, putting a hand on her hip. It was a gesture both familiar and imperious.

“I was exiled from Indrake,” he said. “The traitor and former pirate, Sir Denvé, came through our village as he was fleeing capture. I let him stay at my inn.”

“And you knew that it was him?”

“I have never turned away anyone from my inn. I have always considered hospitality to be a matter of humanity, not politics.”

Klista nodded. “That’s a very mature attitude. Very rare indeed, actually. Now, Bruce Riansson, I have a proposition for you. I knew you would be coming here and I was waiting for you. If you wish, you may work for me, work with me even. The work is not what you are used to, but I’m sure you will be suited to it, nevertheless.”

“Who are you?” Bruce asked, his apprehension rising again. “Why would I want to work for you?”

“I have already told you my name,” Klista said. “I did ask you to remember it, you recall. Besides that, think of me as a type of guide. I show secrets to people who need them and who are worthy. Does that not sound intriguing? As for why you should work for me, you are exiled in the wilderness in late summer with almost no supplies.” She gave him a look as if the choice were obvious.

“What would I have to do?” he asked.

“Ah, we’ll get to that in time. First, I have a test for you. I have to be completely sure about you first.” She took a leather bag off her shoulder and rummaged through it. Bruce caught a glimpse of a jumble of strange objects: a purple conch shell, a white tube with blue stars on it, and a key shaped like a spreading tree. Finally, she pulled out a box with a glass window in it and handed it to him.

“This is a compass,” she said and then saw his blank expression. “It has lodestone in it and always points in the same direction. What you have to do is follow the direction of the needle. Several miles away there is a high pass between two mountains. Reach that pass by sunset and look over the other side and you have passed the test.”

“That is all? It sounds too simple.”

“You have not seen the way yet. Remember, you must follow the needle exactly. There will be an easier way up, but do not take it. Sometimes the journey taken is more important than the destination reached. Sometimes the destination depends on the path taken there. Now go and I will see you at sunset.”

Klista walked off briskly. Bruce picked up his pack and looked at the box. The needle pointed into the trees, away from where Klista had gone. He started walking.

At first, the way was easy. There was little underbrush and the ground was level. After half an hour, the ground got steeper and soon the way was choked with brambles that tore at him with thorny claws.

He had just climbed over a pile of rocks when he saw a well-defined trail off to the right. He ignored it and kept fighting his way through the underbrush. The trail crossed his path and for a moment, he was tempted to follow it for a little ways, until he remembered and re-entered the tangle of bushes.

The mountain trail zigzagged back and forth up the slope and by the time Bruce had crossed and re-crossed it four times, he was torn and bleeding in multiple places and his clothes were shredded to rags. Already the light was decreasing, softening to the peaceful glow of dusk. He pressed on.

He crossed the mountain trail for the last time and it disappeared off to the left, going straight and following the ridge of the mountains. Above him were two steep peaks like horns, their summits tinged with red from the approaching sunset. Between them, he saw the high pass, only several hundred feet above him.

The final climb was the worst. He scrambled recklessly up as the sky darkened above him, ignoring the sharp bite of razor-like granite edges cutting into his hands. Finally, he pulled himself up to the pass and looked over.

The valley below him was a mass of trees, like a vast carpet of greenery. Bruce looked farther and in the orange glow of the day’s end, he saw strange structures rising out of the trees. They were like huge blocks of stone, a hundred feet high or more, but he could see the light glinting off rows of windows. It was a vision of some alien city.


“You pass,” Klista said from behind him. He turned quickly.

“How did you get here?”

“I take my own paths,” she said. “What do you think that is?” She pointed to the distant structures.

“I do not know, but it looks like a city of some sort.”

“It is a city, although not one of this world. This is what I wanted to show you, a tiny taste of what is hidden behind real life. The world you were living in yesterday was infinitely smaller than the world you will be living in tomorrow.”

“Is it really over there or is it only a vision?” Bruce asked.

“It is really where it is,” Klista said. “You will find that a word like ‘there’ has very little meaning. If you mean, could you reach it by walking, then yes. You were able to see it by following the compass and you could follow it to the actual place too. But that is a long, hard road and I travel by quicker ones. Now, do you still want to join me?”

“I do not know what I can do, but yes, I am willing,” Bruce said. He offered her the compass, but she shook her head.

“You keep it. It will be very useful to you in the future, I think. This is the not the end of your journey by far, Bruce Riansson: this is only the beginning.”

See the World Through a Cardboard Tube!

A blue van with lightning bolts painted on it pulled up in front of Brent’s school at lunchtime. The students, being trusting teenagers, crowded around to see what it was. A man and a woman stepped out, dressed in outfits that could only be described as castoffs from a magician’s garage sale.

“Step right up!” the man said, somewhat unnecessarily, since he was in danger of being crushed against the side of his own van. “See the world as you have never seen it before!”

The crowd of middle-schoolers remained silent, seeing where this was going, but the man refused to give details.

“Who will be the first one? Come into the van and we’ll give you the instructions.”

At this point, an adult would have been running in the opposite direction while calling the police, but teenagers are thoughtless and curious: a dangerous combination. After a moment, a girl named Stacy raised her hand.

“Sounds good. What do I have to do?” Stacy was always self-assured and forthright. Some had speculated that she had probably cut her own umbilical cord.

Brent watched with the others as the woman led Stacy into the back of the van. A moment later, she emerged, seemingly unscathed, with a cardboard tube in her hands, like one that comes in a paper towel roll. It had red stars drawn on it in pen.

Stacy held the cardboard tube up to her eye and gasped. “Oh wow.” It sounded like a moan. She slowly moved the tube around and when she turned it on the crowd, she laughed. “This is amazing, guys,” she said.

This reaction caused a ripple of discussion to go through the crowd. Half the students were intrigued; the other half tended towards derision. Brent was in the latter group. It just seemed too absurd, although part of him wanted it to really be something amazing, and not make-believe or a drug trip.

A minute later, Stacy gave the cardboard tube back and grabbed her boyfriend, Tim. “You have got to try this Tim,” she said, cutting off his refusal with an imperious look. She practically pushed him into the back of the van.

The students were captivated now. Tim was one of the most popular boys in school. What would his reaction be? A few minutes later, the van door opened and Tim got out. He held the same tube and put it up to his eye.

He didn’t say anything, but as he looked around, his mouth slowly fell open. The crowd was dead silent. A tear actually rolled down his cheek as he handed the tube back a few minutes later. The students went crazy. Whatever was in that tube, it had made one of the coolest boys in school cry.

There was no shortage of takers now. The man picked a few more and their reactions were even more outrageous. A few laughed or jumped up and down. One just full-on bawled, and kept saying how incredible the sight was.

“We have time for one more,” the man said. “Who will it be?”

Brent found himself raising his hand, although he had not planned to. The man pointed to him and the woman led him into the back of the van.

“Can you keep a secret?” the woman asked. It did not seem a promising beginning to Brent, seeing that he was now alone with her in the back of a van.

“What kind of secret?” Brent asked.

“The biggest kind of secret in the world. The kind you couldn’t tell to your best friend.”

“No, probably not,” Brent said after a while. “I would try, of course, but it if was a big secret, it would probably slip out at some point.” He had a troubling habit of being honest.

“Well, I suspect you could,” the woman said with a smile, “but I appreciate your honesty. Now, go out and look through this tube.” She handed him a cardboard tube decorated in pen with blue stars.

Brent stepped out of the van. Half the crowd had wandered away after hearing that Brent was going to be the last one. The rest of them were staring at him. He put the tube to his eye.

The world disappeared.

The school was gone. In its place was a high castle with strange mountains climbing up behind it. The sky was a dark purple, with coruscating lines of pink running through it. Small, blue creatures like dragons flew around them, landing and taking off nearby. A group of trees was strolling around, having what looked like an animated discussion.

Brent looked back at the van. It was gone. In its place was a woman dressed in a red cloak, sitting on a huge black Pegasus. She smiled at him.

He took the tube down from his eye and the real world flooded back. The students looked unimpressed by his reaction and the crowd started to break up.

“Here you go,” Brent said, handing the tube back to the woman. She held up her hand.

“You keep it. I’ll make another one. My name is Klista, by the way. Remember that.”

The next day, Tim came up to Brent after school. “I saw that they picked you to look into the tube. So, how much did you get?”

“What do you mean?”

“That woman didn’t give you any money?” Tim asked.

“No, did she give you some?”

“Yeah, she brought me into the back and asked if I could keep a secret, so I said yes. She said they were doing an experiment and that she would give me money to go pretend I saw something amazing when I looked through that tube. That’s why I cried. Nice touch, eh? I’m thinking of taking up acting, maybe go in for the school play. Between Stacy and me, we got fifty bucks. You really didn’t get anything?”

“She let me keep the tube,” Brent said.

“The tube?” Tim laughed. “Man, you really got gypped.” He turned and walked away.

Yes, you did, Brent thought.

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