Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Caper’s Song Book from hairylarry’s blog

Original post on Gamer+

A bard’s songbook is like a magician’s spell book in that it contains words of power, songs for wind, songs for rain, songs to make the fire burn hotter and warm the room, songs of companionship to warm the heart.

https://gamerplus.org/blogs/post/797

Ari and Caper worked on Caper’s Song Book last night on Inspired Unreality.

First we worked on a list of songs.

Song to make people dance
Song to make people alert
Song to make people like me AKA the opening numbers
Song of reflection

Song of hope

We renamed Song to make people alert to

Song of perception
tin tin aree tin tin aroo
look about look about could be you
jump about jump about one and two
tin tin aree tin tin aroo

and we wrote the lyric.

To be sung by the whole party twice through to increases alertness and perception.

The bard leads the song. The party sings it twice around. Just that helps. Some DMs may give pluses or advantage on perception and other pertinent rolls.

We had a great time and I look forward to filling in more blank pages in Caper’s Song Book in the future.

Next week, Monday, August 2, is the first Monday of the month and we will be discussing Fantasy and Science Fiction literature.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Wizard and the Djinn

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Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

The Wizard and the Djinn
by Larry Heyl - CC BY

Setup

The party wakes up in the morning next to a clear running creek. There is a slight chill in the air so they stir up the fire and make hot tea. They eat fruit and biscuits with their tea as they trade stories around the fire.

(DM hint: time permitting go around the table with the stories allowing the PCs to fill in their backstory and add items to their character sheet.)

They hear a noise in the woods and they all look to see what it is. When they look back there is a striking figure wearing a pointed hat and holding a staff standing next to the fire. The wizard addresses the party saying “I’m Randolph the Red and I need your help with a quest. There is a famous Djinn, Coriandor, who has disappeared. He had a spell book I need called The Pink Omnibus. He also had gold and jewels. I don’t need the treasure, you can keep that. But I need the spell book and if we find his lamp I want that too. Grab your packs and fill your water bags. You’ll need water where we’re going.”

If party members do not do as told Randolph the Red puts a compulsion on them. They do get a saving throw but he is a very powerful wizard. When they all have their water the wizard steps into the middle of the party and slams his staff on the ground. They begin spinning in a large circle like they were caught up by a tornado and then they fall from the sky to land in a desert surrounded by sand vipers, no wizard in sight.

Goals

Recover the Pink Omnibus and the lamp.
Make off with the loot.
Somehow return home (Probably with Randolph the Red’s help)
Get Even with Randolph the Red for his compulsion.

Assets

Map of the desert area where they are sent

Pregen character sheets for the party
Character sheet for Randolph the Red
Character sheet for Coriandor the Djinn
Character sheets for Coriandor’s friend and family

Stats for Sand Vipers and additional desert monsters

Map of the camp where the Coriandor’s friends and family wait for him including his tent

Map of his tent with the treasure, book, and lamp

Monday, November 16, 2020

Hot Java Blues

Hot Java Blues
by Larry Heyl
licensed CC BY

Joe could dig some hot java to loosen up his teeth. He’d been too long on this rig and even if he was a whole lot closer than he was just a little while ago he was still worried. If he could just get back to Europa with this rock in tow everything would be all right. More than all right. He’d be alive.

When he saw the rock he let himself get greedy. Sure it was at the upper edge of the possible but look at that ore! And just look at the size of it! He let himself talk himself into it. And that was just his first mistake.

He filled the basket and hit the side of the percolator with his wrench until it started bubbling. Joe was still worried. He couldn’t get over woulda this and coulda that with his 20 20 hindsight.

He felt better with a hot cup in his hands. Still worried but better. The coffee soothed him but it reminded him of his problem at the same time. Sure he got the rock. Sure he turned it around. He’d be at Europa in a week. Maybe eight days. But he was still worried.

He still had at least a week to go on this bucket and he only had a three day supply of coffee left.

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Photo public domain from Pixy. Click

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Milyagon Treasure Hunt

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Snowy Owl by Francois Nicolas Martinet & Georges Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon dated between 1770-1786 , public domain

Milyagon Treasure Hunt

Week One

Ari, Caper, and Tude (Ari’s wildcat) got a message from Kendrick to go see the witch at Milyagon. The witch gave them their quest, to bring back an owl’s tail feather, some squamish mushrooms, and a branch from the ancestor tree in the Wilkin Woods. She also mentioned that no one knew more about Wilken Woods than the woodcutter.

The party went and talked to the woodcutter who drew them a map and gave them sage advice about the fairies.

They entered Wilkin Woods and traveled nearly all the way across it on Woods Way. About halfway across they ventured south and found the first marked owl’s eyrie. Returning to Woods Way by traveling due north they found a landmark, a tree with a burl on it that looked a little bit like a face with knotholes for eyes.

Continuing along Woods Way they realize they must have passed the second marked eyrie. Caper leads the party back, leaving the road to the west of the eyrie which they also find. It is now evening so they eat supper and prepare to camp hoping for more luck with these owls in the night.

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The Woodcutters Map drawn by Larry Heyl CC-BY

Week Two

Ari, Tude, and Caper were joined by Bones under the owl eyrie. The party erected a large tarp using rope and Bones’ tent hoping to catch a naturally falling owl’s feather. Caper climbed a tree trying to make friends with an owl but when it started to get dark he had to come down. They attracted two owls by putting out some meat in a cook pot on a tripod.

Then Ari threw Tude’s ball under some bushes. Tude ran over and flushed a bunch of rodents and bunnies. For a few minutes there was a flurry of owls feeding. The next time Tude ran under a bush Caper shot a little bunny rabbit. Holding the dead bunny Caper called to the owls with a series of hoots. An owl landed on Capers outstretched arm and started feeding. With his other arm he slowly petted the owl. And then he had a hold on the tail feather that had been bothering this owl. Bones said we should scare the owl. Tude tried to scare it and Caper added in some cat noises and the owl flew off leaving one tail feather behind. Caper handed the feather to Ari for safekeeping.

We went south looking for the fairy circle trying to get some help from the fairies finding the ancestor tree. Ari and Caper kept true south while Bones scouted east and west. Bones was about a quarter mile to the west when he found the fairy circle. He jumped right in it and started dancing but fortunately he made his saving throw and didn’t fall into Feyland.

Bones stayed near the fairy circle and after a while Ari and Caper noticed he was late. Ari asked Caper if he had anything with Bones scent on it so Tude could track Bones by scent. Caper held his rope out for Tude to smell and then they followed Tude west to Bones.

Caper found some rocks for chairs and sat down about 20 ft. from the fairy circle and played his flute. Sure enough some pretty fairies came to listen to the music and the party started up a conversation with them.

Week Three

In which we recover all the loot, branches from the ancestor tree, squamish mushrooms, and a tailfeather from an owl, and complete our quest.

Last week we left off talking to the fairies near the fairy circle. Cautious not to ask a favor and indebt ourselves to them we finally found out that the fairies remembered when the woodcutter came through here and found the ancestor tree. When the fairies pointed out the trail that the woodcutter took, Caper couldn’t see it but Ari and Bones could and Caper soon discovered that it was a game trail and he could also help follow it with his tracking skills.

After hiking for about 4 hours we found ourselves at the foot of a large hill. The trail seemed to continue up the hill but it was not distinct. We decided to climb to the top before dark even though we were already tired.

It was dusk when we got to the top so we waited for dark to see if the big tree at the top of this hill was the ancestor tree. Ari detected magic on the tree and it was magical. She detected magic on branches on the ground and they were not. So this might not be the ancestor tree but at least we were in the right vicinity.

The moon was already up in the sky when the sun set. Soon it was dark and the moon lit the treetops but we didn’t see a fey glow. Bones helped Caper up to the first branch and Caper carefully climbed to the top where he could look out over the moonlit forest. After Caper got back to the ground he said, “I think we’ve come too far. The moonlit glow is brightest to the northwest and I think the ancestor tree is back a ways in the direction we came.”

In the morning Bones suggested that Caper climb the tree again for a daytime view but it was slick with dew and Caper couldn’t do it. (I rolled a 4) So we headed back down the hill the way we came and at the bottom with the sun peeking up over the eastern horizon we searched for a path up a hill to the northwest. Soon we were climbing the next hill and were at the top well before noon.

Of course there was a big tree at the top of this hill too. Bones boosted Caper up and he was easily able to scramble up to the top. When Caper climbed back down he said, “The next hill to the northwest is even taller than this one. I’m not sure the ancestor tree is there but I’m pretty sure this isn’t the ancestor tree.” So after we ate we continued on to the northwest again. Ascending the next hill we found a huge tree. It was time for supper. After we ate we thought we would look around for squamish mushrooms just in case this was the ancestor tree. Bones found a patch of them due west and then Ari found a big patch north of them.

After the sun set the big tree glowed brighter than the moon. We went to the big patch of mushrooms and followed the moonbeams penetrating the forest canopy and shining on the ground. With half the night gone Bones finally saw the moonbeams light some mushrooms and he was able to pick five of them which barely covered the bottom of the witch’s bag.

In the morning we ate and although we were tired we decided to search for a branch from the ancestor tree before we slept. We searched here and we searched there and then Ari found a big branch just north of the tree. She detected magic on the branch and sure enough it was a branch from the ancestor tree. Caper searched again to the northeast and Bones searched around close to the tree. Bones found one but Ari couldn’t tell if it was magic or not. Caper suggested that Ari carry her branch and that Bones should carry his back to the witch to find out if it is magic.

After their naps Ari searched for medicinal plants and Caper searched for mushrooms. Ari found a fever plant and harvested leaves. Caper found two large mushrooms he knew to be edible but when Ari detected magic on them she discovered that they were magical and Caper decided not to eat the magic mushrooms until he had talked to the witch about them.

It took two more nights to find enough mushrooms. The third night we spread out a little with Bones looking at the patch to the west while Ari and Caper looked at the big patch. We had good luck toward morning. With the moon near full it didn’t set until almost sunrise. We ended up with 30 mushrooms. 20 filled the witch’s bag half full and Ari put the other ten in another bag stowing them carefully in her pack.

Although we were tired we decided to hike on back to Milyagon. We found a game trail heading east and we left the Wilken Woods in the farmlands to the west of Milyagon. Soon we were across the bridge and at the Inn having a hot dinner, something Caper really missed while they were camping.

After we ate it was a short walk to the witch’s cottage to the northeast of town and she was vary glad to see us. She kept the branch Ari was carrying saying it would do fine. She looked at the branch Bones found and said it was also from the ancestor tree and was in fact a magic quarterstaff. She told Bones to keep it and thanked him for his help. When Ari showed her the two bags of mushrooms she was delighted and said that she would teach Ari how to make the squamish salve and she could keep the extra for her medicine kit. She grinned wide when she saw the tailfeather, stuck it in her bonnet where it looked right at home, rolled her eyes three times, touched her nose, and said, “Yes, this will do nicely. My thanks to all of you.” Then Caper showed the witch his magic mushrooms found beneath the ancestor tree and the witch said, “Now these are nice. These mushrooms are not dangerous but they should be consumed in moderation. One half of one of these large mushrooms will affect three people as if they had two large tankards of ale. And, of course, the mushrooms are much easier to carry then a keg of ale. Unlike ale the mushrooms don’t slow you down in fact they do the opposite and make you slightly more dextrous for about four hours.”

Slight Denouement

Caper and Bones found a bench under an oak tree and sat down to rest while Ari and the witch made the squamish salve.

They ground the squamish mushrooms into a paste with wild cherries and sage to make the salve which is good for treating carbuncles and other skin ailments and can also cure light wounds. About 2/3 of the salve filled a jar the witch had set aside so she went and got a smaller jar which she filled and gave to Ari.

With that task done Ari and the witch walked over to Caper and Bones and the witch said, “The items are for the Ogre up in the foothills Northwest of Milyagon. He has been under pressure from orcs and hobgoblins moving in. The branch makes a magic quarterstaff to fend them off and the mushrooms are the important ingredient in a salve for his carbunkles. And the feather? That’s for his hat. The Ogre has a magic hat and the owl’s feather, willingly given, is a component of the spell. He is smart for an ogre because of the hat so it is very important that the feather in his cap does not become bedraggled.”

Enlightened but still very tired the party made their way back to the inn where they ate a hearty supper and turned in early for the night glad to be sleeping on beds under a roof instead of on the ground under the stars.


This story unfolded over three nights of play on discord. Vivian played Ari and Tude, Carl played Bones, I was the DM playing Caper as an NPC. I also wrote the quest soon to be published as a minizine. The text is licensed CC-BY.

Monday, July 27, 2020

#SixWordStories

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Photo by Paul L Dineen, CC-BY https://www.flickr.com/photos/pauldineen/46318283

#SixWordStories is a thing.

Xan is an expert.

Here’s my first shot at #SixWordStories.

And then the sun went nova.

- by Larry Heyl CC-BY

There’s a website.

Six Word Stories

And a Flickr group.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/sixwordstory/

Prefaced by “Just as a reminder here is the story that started it all. For sale: baby shoes, never worn. “.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Incorruptible

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Peter Watts receiving the 2010 Hugo

Incorruptible
by Peter Watts
Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
Read more Peter Watts here

“Despotism may be the only organisational alternative
to the political structure that we observe.”
—James Buchanan, 1975

This is the moment Malika Rydman first realizes that something is seriously out of whack: when the airport cop doesn’t threaten her.

It wasn’t that flickering sense of discontinuity over the Pacific. It wasn’t the odd absence of flight attendants during descent, or the unprecedented fact that she could watch the whole pulse-pounding climax of My Dinner With Andre without some canned voice breaking in to remind her about seat tables and chairs in upright positions. It wasn’t even the strangeness glimpsed through the window on final approach: that conga-line of headlights down on the ground, the way those tiny cars formed little trains that braided and intertwined without ever colliding. That skyscraper off to the east, facades seething in dark glittery motion as though being devoured by a carpet of beetles. The very street lights, tiny bright interstices of the SanFran wireframe: somehow both whiter and brighter than a week ago. Different approach angle, Malika thought vaguely. Trick of the light. Street art installation.

Even when ANA008 bumped onto the ground and dragged itself to a halt and just sat there at the end of the runway, Malika shrugged it off. Probably some other plane hogging the gate. You’d think there’d be an announcement.

It’s not until the man in the strange uniform appears at her side and leans just so, letting the flap of his jacket fall away to reveal the gun on his hip; not until he says “Dr. Malika Rydman? Would you come with me, please?”—that she is truly taken aback.

There’s no implied threat in his voice. He doesn’t seem to be itching for an excuse to escalate (not that Malika would ever be stupid enough to give him one— then again, sometimes they just make shit up after the fact). The words don’t even carry the tone of a command exactly, more like a— a request.

“It’s very important,” he adds.

He seems nervous. Maybe even a little frightened.

“What’s this about? Am I in some kind of trouble?”

“It’s nothing like that.” The airport cop— whatever he is— shakes his head. “There’s a, a patient in need of assistance.”

Ah. Someone must have noticed the MD next to her name, jumped to conclusions. “I don’t practice. I’m a computational psychiatrist, I’ve been pure research since 2012.” Curiosity gets the better of her anyway. “What sort of patient?”

“I honestly don’t know any more than that, Dr. Rydman. Please.”

She looks around the cabin— all eyes studiously downcast, all voices stilled— and unbuckles her seat belt. “You’re being awfully deferential for a white boy with a gun,” she grumbles. “Did the Resistance finally pay off?”

He swallows. “Which one?”

[Read more…]

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Yon Rogar’s Hat

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Illustration from The Violet Fairy Book, public domain

Yon Rogar’s Hat
by Larry Heyl

It was late afternoon and Yon Rogar eyed his woodpile. There was no way that tiny little bit of wood was going to get him through fair day, tomorrow. The woodcutter was late with his delivery, probably carving on one of those statues of his. Yon decided to go after some wood himself. He threw his ax in his barrow and pushed it across the bridge to the Wilken Woods.

As usual it was slim pickings with very little deadwood on the ground. Yon picked up a few pieces and then pushed his barrow deeper into the woods. This was more like it, he picked up a few more pieces and then eyed a dead branch, about to fall off an old oak tree. That one branch would fill his barrow, he thought, so he reached up and gave it a tug. It was still well stuck to the tree and Yon couldn’t pull it loose. So he reached up with his ax and gave it a good chop. That did it. The branch fell at his feet.

It was then that he heard the moaning, deeper than a person or an animal would make and more substantial than the wind. He looked around but he didn’t see anything moaning. The wind was picking up, blowing through the leaves with a whooshing sound and the moaning was getting louder. The branches started to thrash about but not like they should in a wind. They were like the arms of a giant, moving with purpose.

One of the branches knocked the ax out of his hand. One slapped at his face and when he ducked it took his hat off. Yon was frightened. He threw the ax and the dead limb into his barrow and he ran for the bridge, leaving his hat behind.

The branch didn’t really fit in the barrow and everywhere it hung out it was getting caught on scrub and bushes. Yon just bulled through never even slowing down until he was out of Wilken’s Woods.

He threw the dead limb on the ground and made short work of it with the ax cutting it into pieces small enough to fit in the barrow. He worked up a sweat and wiped his brow noticing his hat was missing. “I’ll go after it later.” he thought as he loaded the wood into the barrow and pushed it across the bridge.

After he had stacked the wood he was still hot so he went to the Inn for a pint. “I’ll have a story to tell tonight, that’s for sure.” he thought.

He never did go back after his hat.

Epilogue

About a month later Yon Rogar was at the woodcutter’s cabin bringing payment for some wood left at his forge and making another order. After they were done with business Yon looked around and right there, on one of those ax hewn wood statues, was his hat, sitting on that wood head just like it belonged there.

Thinking the woodcutter had found his hat in the woods Jon said, “That fellow there is wearing my hat.”

The woodcutter said, “Well, it was your hat, but I see you’ve got another one now.”

“Still, I liked that hat better. I think I’ll just take it home and clean it up.”

“Best not,” said the woodcutter, “You lost your hat to the woods and it’s yours no more. Ain’t no use in stirring up trouble or that fellow with your hat might come a visiting, looking for it.”

So Yon thought better of retrieving the hat and on the walk home he near convinced himself that he liked the new hat better. It did leave him wondering though, how the woodcutter knew he had lost his hat in a fight with the woods.

“Yon Rogar’s Hat” by Larry Heyl is licensed CC BY. There is more about Milyagon including Mini Zine Quests at minizines.cc.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Space Beagle - Lift Off

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First Edition

E. Grosvenor log entry t-1
The Space Beagle is departing in the morning.
Although the rest of the crew seems competent I am the only
Nexialist aboard.
I am getting used to sideways looks.
They don’t seem to know what to think of me.
They are mostly old space hands.
But none of us has done anything like this before.
If all goes well we may return before we die.
The more I explain the odds against everything going well
the less they want to talk to me.
I did the math, I know I’m right.
That doesn’t make me popular.
The next time I make a log entry we’ll all be in space.
I’m as excited as a podcaster.

This is my first log entry on my Cosmic Voyage. I have decided to play off of the A.E. VanVogt novel, Voyage Of The Space Beagle.

My text is CC-BY

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Seventeen Haikus

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Basho by Hokusai - public domain

Seventeen Haikus
by Larry Heyl

The first haiku was
the last one written. A glimpse
into the future.

Honored instructor,

I know this is not my assignment but I have just completed the most remarkable work. Against all dicta I was overtaken by a creative impulse. Three days ago seventeen haikus poured out as if written by the hand of God. Of course it was my hand and my brain so these haikus were quite flawed in form and substance. I have spent the last three days perfecting this work, still under the direction of the divine, and I can find no further way to improve them.

They are a masterwork, short as they may be. I know this in my soul. Although I know we are tasked with studying the work of our ancestors and we are foresworn against the production of new art I could not stop myself. It was as if I was possessed by angels. The words came alive. They forced my hand to write and revise. Now I am done.

I would like to read my work to you. I feel that is the best way to unfold it. The seventeen haikus are meant to be read aloud.

I feel I must include at least one. So here is the seventeenth haiku, about silence.

Silence permeates
the ethos. This is not death.
Still, this is silence.

As soon as I sent this message I had second thoughts. What if instead of allowing me to read to him he turned me in. He was a full professor after all. The Stasis could come down on him as well as me.

I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I was not worried about the enforcers. I was not afraid of death. But the seventeen haikus had to live. That was most important.

So I made a file, seventeenhaikus.txt, and I posted it to every group I was part of. Scholars all over the world would share this burden. It was the best I could do.

Three hours later the enforcers came. They were too late.

300 years later schools of the New Renaissance covered the planet teaching the seventeen haikus as their core curricula. They were a revered text but they could not be taught as revered. For as soon as they were read aloud all who heard them knew they too had to create. Some wrote haikus, some novels. Some played music. Some painted, danced, or sculpted. But it was all new art. The Stasis had ended.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein

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Photo by PhotoVision on pixabay - public domain

Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein
by Larry Heyl

It was my brother Jeff who was the doer. Always making things, working on this or that, good at math and physics in school.

I was the thinker. Always gazing off into the distance pondering the big questions. What is life? What is death? What is man? What is woman?

It’s that last one that really puzzled me. Jeff got married, started his own business, got rich. I got tongue tied around girls, took a philosophy degree, and had an income commensurate with my degree. I check the want ads daily. Never have I seen Philosopher Needed - Top Dollar.

So I never understood why the aliens abducted me. It was Jeff they wanted. They must have got their wires crossed.

Now I’m not gay but I didn’t mind the anal probe so much. Learning the alien language wasn’t too bad either. They put a silver disc on my forehead and I started talking to them. It was the interview that really got them.

They kept asking about stuff I didn’t know, technology, armaments, rocket ships, manufacturing. I wasn’t much help. But I gave them a good dose of Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. I don’t think they were ready for that. They started babbling. They sent me up the ladder. I kept expounding and their confusion deepened. Evidently philosophy wasn’t their strong suit. Like I said they got the wrong guy.

They could only deal with me for so long. Before I knew it they had beamed me back home and departed Earth post haste. And that’s how I saved the world with philosophy.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Chaos In The Eye Of God

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Photo by Marvin(PA) on flickr CC BY-NC

Chaos In The Eye Of God
by Larry Heyl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sweet Mary

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Artwork by Arthur Rackham - public domain

Sweet Mary
by Larry Heyl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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