Rock Concert

Life had become quieter. Gone were the days when people were afraid of demonic witches who were in league with the devil. Nowadays, she was able to work regularly for years, precisely because people no longer believed in magic and she could always adjust her appearance a bit thanks to a simple illusion spell. Thus, she had been able to pursue her current vocation as a climatologist for years. Her colleagues in the various stations in Antarctica didn't suspect anything, had just celebrated her 38th birthday for her, although in truth she didn't get older than 25.

With a smile, she thought of her colleague Leo who had provided the background music for her party as an amateur DJ. That was when she had heard him for the first time in a very long time. It had taken her a while to recognize his voice, because it was more mature, fuller, more confident. But after listening to several songs from his band she finally had his image back in her mind's eye at the end of the party.

Oh, how young Hisirdoux Casperan had been when she had seen him last. So innocent, and looking up to Merlin Ambrosius with an enthusiastic and life loving expression.

That innocence had faded from his gaze. Instead, Caralyn saw an unshakable determination which was more than underlined by his clear words about the matter with which he had come forward to the council. Visually, he had changed as well. With a smile she remembered how, as an errand boy and apprentice to Merlin, he had always stood slightly hunched over, but that had been understandable to everyone in Avalon at that time. If she had had to live in the court of Arthur Pendragon, she most likely would have tried to make herself smaller and more inconspicuous as well.

There was nothing of that in the wizard before her now. Instead, his very well controlled magic made his aura really shine!

After audibly sighing because of the old memories, she noticed how Chaka looked at her with a disapproving frown. But she didn't care. Caralyn had always delighted in seeing her young brothers and sisters find their inner balance and blossom in the use of their magic. And she thought very little of the childish quarrels of some council members and didn't hide it. Whoever demanded respect and decency had to give it in the same way. Sometimes the present master wizards seemed to forget that...

"What do you suggest we do about the matter, Aspirant Casperan? Shall we risk the discovery of our guild for the sake of a few forest trolls?"

"With all due respect, Master Chaka, the big picture shouldn't be ignored in the long run. We are concerned not only about the 35 who are currently residing not far from Arcadia Oaks, but with the last hundred remaining forest trolls, who are increasingly being deprived of their homes all over the world because of humans, and are thus unable to fulfill their important contribution to the preservation of the green lungs in this world. We should all remember that we wizards also need air to breathe. We-"

"You use strong words," Chaka interrupted Hisirdoux, and this caused not only her sister Zoe but herself to frown. "But even if we agree that something must be done about it, the question remains, what? We can't show the mortals our magic. Or do you two want to be responsible for another inquisition?"

Caralyn didn't even need to look at him to hear his scornful tone. But before she could launch a counterargument, Akane was already speaking.

"I agree with you, Chaka, that we should be careful about revealing ourselves. But we wouldn't stand alone should it come to that. I know the First Three are very interested in reviving magic in this plane. Caralyn, aren't you in contact with the Creator of the Primal Cold?"

With a nod, she turned her gaze to Akane. "Do not involve the First Three lightly. Yes, Skrael is connected to me in some way about the fact that I work in his natural habitat. But you shouldn't forget the strife between the three that tore them apart. However, we don't need them to address this issue. Yes, I too believe that the people as a whole aren't yet ready to see and understand magic again. But I myself have been practicing unnoticed in their midst for many years, and frankly it's not hard." With measured steps, she then approached Zoe and Douxie. "As a guardian of the old knowledge of Avalon, I thank you both for bringing this matter before us. For yes, the situation is serious and I see it every day in my work. The council will continue to look at how to help the forest trolls and other magical creatures in the long run."

Immediately, she felt the piercing gaze of Chaka which apparently wanted to drill itself into her head. But she didn't let herself be disturbed by this. "However, what you can already organize, Sister Zoe and Brother Hisirdoux, is a concert."

"Come again... A concert?"

"Don't look so surprised, Brother." Caralyn smiled at Douxie, who exchanged a puzzled look with his companion. "You reach a lot of people with your music, and if you host, say, a rock concert, you can dedicate it to a certain theme. You said that the problem doesn't only affect the magical creatures, but also the indigenous peoples. Address that, call on people to do something about it, to protest, to start and sign petitions, to approach the authorities and politicians…"

And with the satisfying feeling of having already pushed a small stone in the right direction, she saw them grin at each other all at once and then nod.

"Honestly? That's a great idea. Why haven't we thought of that ourselves yet?" Hisirdoux muttered before smiling, shaking his head. But Caralyn also saw all emotion drain from his companion's face, quickly eyeing each of her brothers and sisters on the council with slightly narrowed eyes. With an inward sigh, she quickly stepped in front of them and turned to the rest of the council at the same time.

"I have decided to make a short trip to Arcadia to see the situation on the ground and speak with the trolls as well. I know that as chairman, this task normally falls to you, Brother Chaka, but since I know you are very busy with your own project right now, I would be happy to relieve you of this task if you agree."

"Very well," he spoke between clenched teeth, and before he could utter anything further, Caralyn bowed her thanks and, without further ado, opened a portal with a twisting hand gesture that quickly grew in size.

"Come," she spoke over her shoulder to Zoe and Hisirdoux, then stepped through her portal directly into a dimly lit room that instantly smelled of books.

Behind her, she heard them arrive as well, and closed the portal again as she turned and gave Zoe a prompting nod.

"You can safely ask your question now, sister."

"Question? What question, Zoe? I think I'm missing something here?"

"That's not a problem, old friend," Caralyn placated him, choosing an older-looking little couch to sit on.

"Since when does the council know we're in a band? Are you spying on us? If so, why?! And since when do you guys know where Douxie works? After all, this is the back room of the bookstore where he works! It's protected from being penetrated by magic. Opening a portal here should be absolutely impossible!"

"Well," Caralyn began, smoothing out her dress, at the hem of which she suddenly saw two cat's eyes flashing. Inevitably, her lips twisted into a wide grin. "I greet you, Archibald. How have you fared over the years?"

With a disgruntled exhale, Zoe made it clear what she thought of the fact that Caralyn had just changed the subject, but she could live with that. After all, there weren't many dragons left - especially not encountered in civilization - and when one confronted you, polite conversation simply took precedence.

"Caralyn of the Green Hills, second confidant of the last High Priestess of Avalon and Keeper of Ancient Knowledge." Archibald bowed his head in greeting, then jumped onto the table that stood next to the couch. "It has been a long time since our paths have crossed. Too long to share all the noteworthy stories my familiar and I have lived through since. But I would be interested to know why you grace us with your presence, milady."

"Of course," she agreed and became serious again. "It was right of you to bring the matter to the council," she began, looking at Zoe and Hisirdoux in turn. "But the council is not what it once was. Almost all of them live in prosperity and physical and mental peace these days. They have forgotten or successfully repressed how it once was, and they don't want it back. They have become, so to speak, politically tired politicians who are no longer really capable of acting, but at the same time they don't want to lose the status that comes with the seat in the council. My little stunt with Chaka? In the past, he would never have let himself be walked over like that, would have considered it an affront to his righteousness, if he himself hadn't pursued the duties of council chairman," Caralyn told them with clear bitterness in her voice.

"You asked if we were spying on you, Zoe. No. We don't have time for that. Everyone has his and her own more or less luxurious life to live. The meetings of us council members nowadays take place only every five years, if at all. But maybe you shouldn't tell that to the others of the community. Many older of our sisters and brothers still live by the old values and trust the council to protect them."

"Then wouldn't it just be better if they knew the truth? After all, if something were to happen, it would be important to know that they are on their own."

"In principle, yes, Hisirdoux. But please believe me when I assure you that it would never come to that. Both Raven and I answer every call, and there are others behind us who originally had their home in Avalon... But I digress," she changed the subject with a smile and looked at Zoe. "The reason I know you two are in a band is because your music was played at my last birthday party by a colleague. I told you before that your music reaches people, even in a god forsaken and blizzard shrouded station in Antarctica."

Laughing softly, she stood up and stepped to the only window in the room. "Isn't it beautiful how the light makes the tiny little dust particles in the air visible?" she spoke to no one in particular. "Life is precious, but fragile. So so fragile. That they even consider turning to the First Three should be proof enough to you that they aren't as they once were. For they know full well that without Nari, the balance of Warmth, Cold, and Life is also disturbed. So don't expect much help from the others. I myself won't be of much practical help if you decide to organize the concert, since I'm neither musically nor good in organizing such large events. But Raven will contact you if you wish to do so. Her better half has been a bigwig in the music business for some time and she was really taken with my idea."

"And you know this how? She hadn't commented on it at all."

"Not verbally, no." With a grin, she turned back to the others and leaned against the windowsill. "As you are connected to Archibald, Hisirdoux, I am connected to Raven. We not only took our oaths together as priestesses of Avalon quite a long times ago, but also became blood sisters. That's why we don't need newfangled cell phones to communicate with each other... But enough about me. Provided I've assuaged your concerns, Zoe, I'd really like to talk to the trolls now."

"A little less conspicuous garments wouldn't go amiss, though, milady."

"Archie is right. Zoe has made her garden opaque for human eyes as far as it goes, but your... appearance," Hisirdoux gestured with a sweeping hand movement from her head to hem, "would still make you shine in the forest like a firefly in the night."

"How poetic." She couldn't help but laugh. But then she nodded, and after a muttered spell, stood there with not only her hair black, but her dress in camouflage.

"Okay, that's really cool. You won't be able to stop me from looking like that, Douxie!"

"Excuse me?" Caralyn asked in confusion, not understanding the eyes of the young Hedgewitch flashing with interest.

"Eh, inside joke..." Hisirdoux grinned, tapping his index finger against his leg in rapid succession. "If you don't mind, I'd like to send you to the trolls alone. I've got the first ideas for new song lyrics buzzing around in my head right now, and I don't want to lose them! Archie?"

"Your sheet music is in the cabinet next to the cash register, on the right, middle shelf."

"Thank you!" he threw back over his shoulder, already storming out of the room.

"Well then, seems like it's just the two of us now. We-"

"Oh no, Zoe, you're not leaving me here when Douxie is just slipping into another chaotic creative phase. I'm coming with you! Meow."

"You just want to get back to the catnip..."

"Oh please, like I can't control myself when a Priestess of Ancient Knowledge visits us."

"We'll see, Archibald, we'll see..." Zoe muttered, pointing out the location of her garden on a map. "Just outside my garden you should be able to open your portal to. And when we get there, you'll explain to me how you were able to bring us here to this room in the first place," Zoe growled lightly at Caralyn.

"With the greatest pleasure, sister," she agreed, opening her palm to call the shadows.