The three dishevelled friends stared at one another, hardly believing what had just happened. Hortense was the first to recover her senses, what was left of them, and hurriedly picked up her Carpet Bag, and of course her two familiars. Magic curled himself about her shoulders, whilst she settled Morris onto her hat, where the tall feather and the hatband met. Just as he made himself safe and comfortable, Hortense started her walk away from the only place they’d all known as a home, Morris’s sharp eyes stared back from his high vantage point and he could have sworn he saw a face peeking out from the edge of the Old Dark Trees of Magic Wood. Then just as suddenly it vanished, and he shook his spidery head, wondering if it had been his imagination. Hortense’s voice spoke softly, ‘It’s ok Morris, I saw her too, It was Velma, probably making sure we hadn’t snuck back in under a cloak of invisibility.’ she went on bitterly, ‘little does she know the Banishment put a stop to my use of magic within the area of our lost home. Or else I might have tried it.’ Morris quickly blinked at the tone of voice, he’d never heard Hortense so down, almost beaten. Surely something good must happen next?…
They travelled along the dusty track for hours, a spell of Hortense’s lighting their way, until the sun rose, it’s warm light dappling the trees and sending their shadows dancing ahead of them, as if checking for any dangers along the way. Hortense hadn’t uttered a word since walking away from Magic Wood, until quite suddenly, her shoulders began to straighten, her head raised itself from staring sullenly at the ground, and she began to glance about her with interest. ‘Wow, look at that you two, ‘ she pointed, and there ahead of them was an open glade, with a small brook singing it’s merry way past an old broken down one storey house. A sad looking wooden frame beaten by the rigours of time, with no-one to upkeep or care about it’s welfare. Hortense ran the last few yards, holding onto Magic and her hat to keep both passengers safe and gleefully explored the inside rooms.
The roof, which at first glance had looked beyond repair, was only peppered with a few gaping holes, and thank goodness she knew a handy-man spell to cover that obstacle, ‘So, fella’s what do you think? A bit of magic here and there and we’ll have somewhere to call Ours, and ours alone.’ Both familiars were just glad to hear her voice happy and interested again, so nodded happily. After a hastily prepared picnic, magicked up of course, with thankful blessings said to the Mother, (Nature) as even magicked items had to come from somewhere, not out of thin air. Borrowed, I suppose you could say, like a balance sheet with two columns, you took from one side, but you had to give back in some way, be it time from your lifespan, or a deed in recompense. This was the only way perpetual use of Magic could be constrained, as the more you used it, the shorter your lifespan, and no-one wanted to die well before their allotted time. (Hortense was 60, quite young for her abilities to be so strong, and her allotted time? well, could be three, or maybe four hundred years). Good Deeds were much harder to do, not many Human people around to be able to help in some way, always of course without their knowledge, as every Magic User knew, never ever, trust a human.
After a day of carefully chosen spells, the little dwelling showed signs of a loving hand, it had become a home, where Hortense and the two familiars could close the door on the World which had turned it’s back on them and sleep easy… or could they?….
to be continued….