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A SHOCK IN THE DARK

The court resounded with ethereal music as the musicians strummed their various instruments. Dinner was over and the Jiffies were clearing the dining area. Adena and her guests were listening to the entertainment. The musicians completed their piece, were applauded by the assembly and, with a brush of the amythests, the holograms collapsed.

"The evening was superb," said Jonathon Pierce inclining his head to Adena. "Your display of magic and fantasy would make good writing material."

"Thank you, Mr. Pierce. I hope that all of you enjoyed it." Murmured responses of assent echoed through the court. "What would please my guests now?" asked Adena. "A trip through the city of Odina. It would probably prove quite fascinating." Again assent arose from the assembled.

"I will provide the necessary transport," interjected the Quische.

Adena cleared her throat slightly, "That won't be necessary - er -, sir. My Danaes will provide it as it is quite a distance hence and they know the way. "At this, she summoned the Danaes. Ambercromby and Fitch rode the green, Shamrok, Campuria rode the yellow, Edison, Quische turned into a saddle for the white Danae, Prism, and Jonathon climbed on top. With a wave from their mistress, the Danaes shook their wings and manes and lifted off to Odina. Iffley had elected to stay behind - he said he had things he wished to attend to at the palace. Adena had protested but had been quickly overridden.

Iffley had stationed himself in the Study and was busily studying the archives. Adena had excused herself to the main study where she passed through the mirror to her room. She returned quickly dressed in sky-blue blouse and overalls. Her feet were bare which explains why Iffley heard nothing until she sat at the desk and the chair creak warningly. Adena was already busy with perfunctorial duties and paperwork. Iffley returned to his reading. Neither spoke nor looked at the other. Adena finally broke the silence.

"May I ask you a question? I need an honest answer," she asked her face still averted to her paperwork.

"If you want to," Iffley returned, glancing up momentarily from his reading.

"Do you think I am -- vain?" Her eyes were still cast to her desk but she had stopped writing and was toying with her pencil. Iffley smiled to himself. It was liked the days when they were children when he would give her answers and advice - whether she wanted it or not. "I don't think so. You always try to look your best, but you don't dwell on it. Why do you ask?"

Adena had swung her chair around to the window so that its back was toward Iffley. "I heard some gossip. I was just curious what people thought," she answered quietly.

"I see."

A hush descended on the room again. Adena's pencil began to scratch over the documents once more. Iffley could hear her muttering to herself. Finally, she could take it no longer, "This is extremely dull. However, I am almost finished." She caught herself before going any farther. She had realized that she had been talking out loud. "Sorry about that. I do talk to myself once in a while to make the task go faster," she explained to Iffley who was shelving his book. She glanced at the clock on the wall and decided to shelve the remainder of the work.

"I'm ready for a bit of exercise," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

"A walk, then?" questioned Iffley.

"No," she answered, "1 was thinking along different lines."

"Oh!" Iffley responded in a reproaching tone.

Adena looked slightly embarrassed, "Leave it to you to misconstrue my meaning. I meant something like this..." With a mischieveous glint in her eye, she touched the amulet and three slave girls arrived and began to lavish attention on Iffley, much to his chagrin. Adena laughed as Iffley tried to combat them but the fun ended when he realized they were holograms and dismissed them. Now it was his turn.

Snapping his fingers, Iffley brought an image of a bouquet of flowers. "Too easy," answered Adena who, with a wink of an eye, made them real and put them in a vase. "My turn..." she began and suddenly Iffley found himself in T.G. Taft's main office!

Taft himself was there and Iffley braced himself, expecting him to look up any second. He heard Adena giggle and he turned to hush her and found himself on Furanose once again. "My holograms are getting quite good, aren't they?" she teased.

Iffley was incensed, "You aren't being fair!"

 "You're just not used to being beaten," she countered with a smile playing on her mouth.

Iffley decided to teach her a lesson, he raised his Sceptre and Adena found herself in the forest by the Lake of Wisdym. Iffley joined her shortly. "I win," he stated.

"Wrong. If this is simple transportation, my hologram beats that and if it's a hologram, I still win because I evoked an emotional respose from you. This is my homeland and I am not disturbed in the least." She smiled triumphantly.

Iffley had had enough. "I hope you enjoy your homeland at night because I'm leaving and your Danaes are all busy. You'll have to walk home because you don't want to overuse your amulet." With that, he left her. Adena's smile was wiped off her face and her right eyebrow was raised in vexation. "He's no better than his Quische! Oh well," she said resignedly to herself, "I won't have any problem getting back." She turned to leave when a new voice stopped her.

"One moment please."

Adena turned, feeling slightly frightened, "Iffley?" But it wasn't Iff1ey. It was a face new to Adena. He was quite a bit younger than the Wizard and quite handsome. No, it wasn't Iffley at all... "I'm Bronsan."


 © 1984, 

L. Charles, D. Conrad, A. Duncan, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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