The Whitecoat and the Second String #3

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series The Whitecoat and the Second String

Chapter the Third; In Which Improv Encounters Travelers From Out of Town.

There was a party going on on Broadway. The third big brouhaha of the month and probably the eighth since New Years. The Tricentennial encouraged people to take any excuse to party and run with it and the college kids around Morningside Heights could run with the best of them.

And it sounded like they were marathoning that night. Improv could hear whoops and the beat of the music from blocks away, in a man made valley of brownstones in the shadow of a towering student apartment building for the nearby college.

In addition to his armor, helm and goggles, he wore a long, wool coat with lots of pockets, not only for his various devices, but for the potentially useful pieces of scrap of hardware he picked up during patrol. And he carried the Big Stick over one shoulder.

It had started life as a baseball bat but now looked like a knobby club made out of curved ceramic tiles with a rounded steel cap. There was a row of pressure sensitive triggers in the handle.

It was near the end of his patrol, just a quick … Continue reading

Rise of Morganna #7

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Rise of Morganna

(This chapter takes place during the events of Descendants #18)

Once, there was a beautiful princess, who lived in a simple land in simple times, who everyone loved. Her father was a great and wise king whose passion was for the written word.

The king loved the princess very much and doted on her. But the princess could tell that the king was saddened by having no son. For without a strong and powerful heir, his kingdom would fall to ruin when he passed.

Ever so clever, the princess saw this and resolved to be worthy of being the king’s heir even though she was a girl. Now, the princess shared her father’s passion for words and in one of his many tomes; a story her told her many times and in many different ways, she found the answer. She found the truth.

Her path was the path of magic, for magic is eternally mightier than brute strength and more subtle besides. So she climbed a great mountain and begged two goddesses to show her the ways arcane. And they did show her and the princess’s eyes opened.

The book that had put her on the path of magic … Continue reading

Rise of Morganna #6

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Rise of Morganna

(This chapter takes place during the events of Descendants #14)

Northern Germany, 1134

She came from the sky. Drifting like the seed head of a dandelion on the breeze, she traveled above the steep hills and deep woods, following her outstretched senses. For almost five years, dousing for magic over great distances, Morganna le Fay had sought out and slain dozens of the so called cunning folk; the practitioners of the ancient arts of the arcane.

In her wake, she had left villages leveled or burned to the ground. And with each growing year, her predations among her own kind and the residual deaths of hundreds of bystanders sent ripples of terror from the Islands of Britannia to the west to the Steppes to the east. None of the common folk knew who she was or anything of her quest. All they knew was that having a witch or wizard or any other practitioner of the occult was to invite death and destruction.

Morganna neither knew nor cared about what was going on in the world she lived in. Over the years, she had added a library of spells to her mental repertoire and her strength in the arts had … Continue reading

Rise of Morganna #5

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Rise of Morganna

(This chapter takes place during the events of Descendants #11 and #12)

Wales, Winter Solstice, 1130 A.D.

Elise cast her baleful gaze at the roaring bonfire, which was surrounded by joyous revelers welcoming in the solstice. The fire promised much more gratifying warmth than the feeble cook fire she was warming herself next to, but the cunning peoples cavorting around it promised to be nothing but sources of useless banter and endless titles.

Agnes and Mary taught her that sabbats were important gatherings during which the cunning folk; witches and wizards and enchanters and the like, shared information and news of the world. The one that took place in tandem with the winter solstice was the most important sabbat of the year, one where practitioners from the Dark Continent, the Steppes and Arabia would be in attendance.

However, as it turned out, the sabbat seemed to only be an excuse for those with magic to cavort without having to conceal their abilities. Casual and practical magic was used with impunity here; nothing that could be done with magic was done by hand.

It was all terribly boring to Elise. And more than that, it was frustrating. She had mastered all … Continue reading

Rise of Morganna #4

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Rise of Morganna

(This chapter takes place during the events of Descendants #11 and #12)

North of Wales, Winter, 1130 A.D.

There was a knock at the door. Mary glanced toward it and briefly let her senses dance over the person behind it. It was an entirely unnecessary exercise as only two people would be at her door, but it was an old habit and she had no reason to break it.

“Enter, dear Agnes.” She said a scant second after the knock. She didn’t look up from the saddlebag she was packing when her long time friend and confidant entered, bringing a warm breeze from the fireplace in the main room with her.

“We need to speak.” said Agnes with an air of dire importance.

“Good morn, Agnes.” said Mary as if Agnes had not spoken with such urgency. “Are you already done with your preparations for the trip to sabbat for Solstice?”

“It’s Elise, Mary.” Agnes frowned, “There is something very wrong with her.”

“You take every minor bit of mischief the girl gets into as a sign that something is wrong with her.” Mary chided, “Filching reagents and being engrossed in the art are not signs of madness. Tell me … Continue reading

Rise of Morganna #3

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Rise of Morganna

(This chapter takes place between the events of Descendants #8 and #9)

North of Wales, 1130 A.D.

Elise stood on top of a hill within view of the great stone house of her new teachers, Agnes of Berwick and Mary Hillingsworth.

Her father thought that she was off playing with the other children in the village. Those children were already being apprenticed for their future professions, and in a way, so was his daughter.

She stood with her eyes closed as she’d been told to, feeling the breeze and letting her imagination roam as she recalled the words Mary had imparted to her.


“This will be the first lesson.” Mary said, not looking up from her knitting as Elise knelt before her, begging to be taught the mystic arts. “Got to the hilltop not far from here and stand on top of the rock you find there. Close your eyes, feel the breeze, and think about what I am about to say.”

The knitting needles clicked through a long pause, and then Mary corrected herself. “Nay, do not just think, bring it to your mind’s eye, see yourself and know the potential within you. Do you understand?”

Elise nodded … Continue reading

Rise of Morganna #2

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Rise of Morganna

(This chapter takes place between the events of Descendants #8 and #9)

North of Wales, 1130 A.D.

The sound of driving rain outside was muted by the stone walls and superior thatching of the house on the hill.

Elise sat at an expertly crafted wooden table in a chair built by the same skilled hand. A homespun blanket had been thrown over her shoulders and a steaming bowl of broth placed before her.

She’d been in that room several times with her father, Marcus, as he endlessly interviewed the two alleged witches for his epic. It was simple, if exquisitely maintained; one table, four chairs, a bench, a fireplace with a black, iron pot hanging over the pit, a water pump, and two cupboards. All of the furniture, including the stone mantle around the fireplace, seemed to be brand new.

Elise didn’t think twice about how two women with no visible means of support, and who rarely visited the village below, managed to live so well. While she was, as her father always said, clever enough, she was totally focused on her self appointed mission. So engrossed in her thoughts was she, that she didn’t notice the door leading into … Continue reading

Rise of Morganna #1

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Rise of Morganna

(This chapter takes place immediately after the events of Descendants #7)

North of Wales, 1130 A.D.

Rain poured down in rippling curtains, making it difficult to see even a few feet in front of her nose even under the heavy tree cover that protected the path through the forest. In perfect weather, the trail was dusty, steep, and treacherous. In the deluge, it was a river of sucking mud. No person with any kindness would let even the most hated dog in their household out into such a downpour, much less volunteer to go out in it themselves.

But Elise of Hafren braved it. Bundled in a horse blanket against the driving rain, her feet bare for fear of losing her only pair of shoes, she pressed up the hill, sliding in the muddy soup all the way. She knew the way from following her father along it to the ancient stone house that squatted at the hill’s summit like a sleeping dragon.

Aside from herself, her father was the only person from the village to visit them. The folk who fished the river and tended the fields refused to consider the idea and called Marcus of Hafren mad to … Continue reading

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