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Amendment to the Laws and Ordinances of Scalentine, Harm to the Person, Section 5, subsection 3, paragraph 38a. 

Any actual or attempted use of magic to control the actions of an intelligent being (see Definition of Person/s, Section 1, paragraphs 1 through 938) will result in immediate arrest and prosecution.  (Even if it doesn’t work, Jimmy, you slimy little pillock. H Bitternut, Chief, City Militia).

In Debt?  Hunting for coins down the back of the sofa? Don’t know where to turn?

Looking for convenience, security and peace of mind?  Then don’t answer any of the loan company adverts. They’re mostly crooks. Trust me.

However if you’re looking for steady work and a regular (if not exactly abundant) income, including advice on getting out of debt and the chance to arrest the people who helped you get into it, apply to the Militia.  Hargur Bitternut, Chief, City Militia

From Chief Bitternut’s Personal Notebook

Full moon is coming.  I feel it tugging, feel the first below-the-skin shift and murmur of mutable flesh.

You know the hardest thing?

It isn’t organising someone to cover the job for the duration.  In the beginning, yes, made some bad choices, came back to chaos.  Not so much now.

It isn’t the way people start to watch you out of the corner of their eyes, the way hands creep a little closer to hilts, the way people you trust with your back in a street fight no longer, quite, trust you with theirs.  They’re right, and you know it.

It isn’t feeling yourself losing words, concepts, the ability to think past the next threat or meal.

It isn’t even knowing that you could hurt people, random innocents or people you love, if you didn’t get yourself locked in that damn cage until the sky stops shining.

It’s how good it feels, when it bites deep – that tip before the spill, knowing you’re about to stop caring, feeling all the complexity and sorrow and mortal terror of being human about to spin away like dust on the wind.

Wondering if you’ll come back.

Wondering if you want to.

Extracts from the Scalentine Chronicler

Floating Lady

An extraordinary incident took place in Pigjam Alley on Stoneday, when Miris Trand, (23 years Scalentine), being in a depressed state of mind after the termination of an affair of the heart, attempted to take her own life.

Miss Trand, a herbalist, set light to certain volatile oils in the belief that the resulting miasma would waft her gently into the Beyond.  However the stand fell over, spilling flaming oil on Miss Trand’s boots.  Miss Trand was wearing voluminous skirts, and was blown backwards out of the window, whereon she drifted slowly downwards, apparently held up by the exhalations of the flaming oils.

A young alchemical engineer by the name of Entrich Don Intrevan who happened to be passing, caught Miss Trand as she approached the ground and extinguished the flames.

“He was watching me float down with the most concentrated expression,” Miss Trand said.  “When he asked if he could examine my boots I thought perhaps he was a bit strange, but he explained it was for an experiment, and then we got talking. No, my feet are fine – they were my grandma’s boots, she always wore them when she was working with volatiles. They’ve had worse, believe me.”

Mr Don Intrevan told our reporter, “Miss Trand and I are working on a theory.  Gaseous Floatation.  We think it could be big.”

We asked the opinion of respected alchemist Sindeth Dolfringe, who stated that it sounded like a lot of hot air.

Fool’s Gold

A thief was arrested on Inchday after stealing a lady’s purse.  Having evaded pursuit, he was discovered when passers-by heard yells for help from an alleyway.

The thief was found backed against the rear wall of the alley whimpering, “Get it off me!”

The purse was lying at his feet. None of its contents appeared to have been disturbed.  It was returned to its owner, one Mattie Longsides, a long term Scalentine resident.

The arresting member of the Militia said, “He can’t have been here long if he tried that on Mattie.  He’s lucky he’s still the same shape.”

Unhealthy Elixir

Local trader Dronch Etherin has been arrested for the sale of items likely to damage public health.  Militia warned customers who had recently visited Etherin’s Vitality and Longevity Emporium that the ‘New Health Elixir’ recently for sale, a pungent yellow liquid, was not, as claimed, a remarkable cure for many bodily ills, but more likely to produce a large number of them.

“Whether or not he personally believes in the health-giving properties of this substance, ” the arresting officer stated, “we do not.  In fact, we felt he was taking the piss.”

Dear Babylon – Night Ride

Dear Babylon

I only recently moved to Scalentine and have been working all the time to try and save up some money to send to my parents back home, I live very cheap so I can do this and have been able to do quite well as I will take fares in places like King of Stone where others will not. 

I recently got a good fare transporting a young man and his lady home.  I was watching where I was going, this is essential, I carry weapons but there is always the old ‘body in the road’ trick, another driver got caught this way, he got down to help, the ‘body’ ran away and when he turned around all that was left of his carriage and the horse was one hoof.


I was concentrating on the road like I say also mouths of alleyways, when I became aware of noises from inside the carriage. At first I thought one of them had been taken ill and then realised it was goings-on of an amorous nature. 

I did not think this was the sort of thing people should be doing in my carriage, because of Hygiene and potential damage to the upholstery, but I was not sure what to say. I coughed loudly several times but they did not appear to hear me.

This continued for quite some time but they had finished by the time I dropped them off and I could find no damage though some cleaning was required. 

Is this behaviour legal?  Also, I find myself thinking about it quite a lot and every time I take the carriage out I am looking for the same young couple, this is getting in the way of business, I turned down a good fare the other night in case they should turn up. 

What should I do?



Dear Worried

I think perhaps you have been spending rather too much time working. Take the night off and go and find your own young lady, or gentleman, or whatever is your personal preference, and see if they can be persuaded into some amorous goings-on. Or come here, and we will attempt to find someone to your taste. A list of prices is attached. I know you want to send money home to your parents but everyone needs a life for themselves, including you.

Best of luck




Still up:

You’ve been to that alchemist again, haven’t you? You need their No. 3 calming potion. After that, stay away from the place. It’s perfectly all right not to be at it every five minutes, for goodness’ sake. It’s not a competition.


No, I agree there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing, per se. However the grocer is perfectly entitled to request you don’t do it in his shop, especially with stock you have not paid for. Buy it and take it home first, like other people.

Bruised experimenter:

It didn’t occur to you that that was a bad idea? No, obviously not. Book a session with Cruel and Unusual, they’ll give you some pointers.  And other sharp things.


Notes from Bitternut’s Casebook – Grave Matters

A normal evening.  A few magical explosions, the occasional shriek – nothing to disturb an officer who was off duty, thank you very much, and on his way to a beer and some affectionate company. 

Except there was a light in the graveyard. Even in Scalentine graveyards aren’t generally lively places; and the light had a furtive look.

Before I could get close the light went out and someone ran off. My nose led me to a tomb.  Very fancy, all black marble, gold leaf, and weeping females in thin drapery, final resting place of one Antrin Dotrichi.

There was a big chip off a corner, and a couple of implements of a distinctly exhumatory nature – i.e. a pickaxe and a crowbar – lying on the ground.

But the perpetrator had fled, it was late, and I was tired. I picked up the implements and headed for the Red Lantern.

I like a woman who doesn’t do more than raise an eyebrow if you turn up with a crowbar instead of flowers. “Don’t leave it lying where the Twins can find it,” Babylon said. “You might not want it back afterwards.”

“It’s evidence.” I told her what I’d seen.

“Antrin Dotrichi …oh, he paid us a visit,” she said. “He was Voreithian, I think. Dead, then?”

“I hope so. He’ll be getting bored in that tomb otherwise. Think he was the type to be buried with items of power or mysterious maps or suchlike?”

She slid her arm around me. “Doubt it. He was quite a staid sort. Poor old Antrin. I’d have given him a freebie if I’d known.”

I hugged her close, breathing in her scent. Poor old Antrin was right.


The next day I did a little digging. (I detailed one of my officers to keep an eye on the tomb, as well, just in case anyone else decided to do a little digging).

Antrin had no family, only his church. The Voreithians are very concerned with death, and preparation for it – as though life were a sort of minor inconvenience to be got out of the way first. Their temples are big, dark, solemn places, beautifully decorated.

“I remember him,” the priestess told me. “He was most concerned that the proper provisions should be made, of the best quality.”


“All the accoutrements the soul will need in the next life. Furniture. Weapons. And of course the canopic jars.”

“Could I see examples?” I said. It was beginning to sound like a simple case of attempted robbery.

The furniture and weaponry were all miniatures, in wood, nicely made but hardly worth the trouble of breaking into a tomb for. The two women who made them barely looked up from their work.

The jars made me gasp. They were translucent blue stone veined with threads of rose. The stopper of each was a flower, so perfectly carved you expected them to have a scent. “Ordered before Antrin’s,” the priestess said. “But his death came suddenly, in the end.”

The carver, who had sinewy arms and long pale fingers, caught my eye, and looked away.

“Lovely,” I said. “What are they used for?”

The priestess told me.

“Oh. Seems a shame.”

“They are made not for the pleasure of mortal eyes but for the glory of the gods,” the priestess said. “Anything we can create on this lower plane is but a poor shadow of the perfection of the afterlife.”

The words Then why bother making them rose to my lips and I swallowed them back down.  I wasn’t here to argue religion, which is one of life’s more pointless exercises in any case.

I felt the carver’s eyes on my back as I left.

I dismissed the guard I’d set on the tomb. We could hardly spare someone for keeping watch over the dead, when the living caused a deal more trouble. But I sat there for a while myself, as the night came on. Someone had gone to the trouble of trying to break into a tomb for some wooden toys and vases full of offal, unless there was more to this than met the eye. I hoped it wasn’t a necromancy thing. I hate necromancy cases.

The carver turned up about an hour after sunset and hung around in the bushes, presumably hoping I’d leave.

“I’ve got your pickaxe,” I said.

He almost bolted, then gave up. “How did you know?” he said, emerging.

“Militia instinct.” I tapped the side of my nose. “Actually, I’m a were. Smelled you. So what’s in there you want so badly?”

“My best work. I’ll never make anything so beautiful again. And it will stay there, in the dark.”

“You weren’t worried the gods would be annoyed at you?”

“If the gods can create divine beauty, what do they want my vases for?”

“Well, that’s not really my area. But see, I can’t let you go around trying to open tombs. It’s against the law, and it upsets people.”

“Are you going to arrest me?”

“Are you going to try and open this tomb the minute my back’s turned?”

He sighed. “No,” he said. “But you don’t understand. I’ve never made anything so good. And no-one will ever see it.”

“The ones in the tomb. They’re the last you made?”


“The best.”


“Are you going to stop, now? Never make any more?”

“No…well…I don’t know.”

“Then how do you know they’re your best? You’re not dead,” I said. “Not like him. Stay away from graveyards, they’re not healthy.”


Babylon opened the parcel and smiled. “This is lovely,” she said. “What’s it for?”

“Putting things in.”

“Biscuits!” she said. “The lid fits really well. It’ll keep them fresh. Where’s it from?”

“New shop, just opened up.”

It sits on the mantel, now, much admired by visitors. It’s made of deep green stone, with a lid in the shape of a flower. A lovely thing.

But somehow I can’t ever fancy a biscuit.

Extracts from the Scalentine Chronicler

Mysterious ‘Burglaries’ Leave Militia Baffled

A number of dwellings have recently been broken into in the area of Crowns portal.  Each break-in has involved various items being moved around and a small amount of money, approximately enough to pay for the mending of broken locks/windows etc., being left in a prominent place, along with a note reading ‘Sorry’.

The Militia told our reporter that enquiries were proceeding. One Militia source who preferred to remain anonymous said, “We’re not baffled, it’s obvious someone’s looking for something. We just don’t know what. Or who. Please don’t say baffled, it really gets on the Chief’s wick.”

Strange Substance Stops Traffic

The Militia are investigating the source of a pink liquid that appeared in Boarstooth Way in the early hours of Stoneday.  It appeared be emanating from a source under the roadway and was extremely sticky.  One butcher’s cart, a private conveyance, three passers-by and a small dog became trapped and traffic was impeded for several hours. The liquid eventually dissolved. No persons were injured by the liquid but a member of the Militia was bitten by the dog.

The owner of the butcher’s cart (Jothin Matry, 48 Years Scalentine) was of the opinion that it was the, ‘Bloody alchemists, always messing with things man should wot not of, you mark my words there’ll be tentacles next.’

The owner of the private conveyance refused to comment and advised our reporter that asking intrusive questions could be dangerous to one’s health.

The Militia would not comment on the source but said enquiries would be proceeding and enquired whether the Chronicler would like a pet dog as they had one going spare.

Three Injured in Public House Fracas

A disturbance took place at the Sideways Road public house in King of Stone late on Inshday evening after what appears to have been a drinking competition. It is unclear exactly what happened, except that it involved a Nederan lady buying drinks, two Ikinchli citizens, and our reporter, who was later found under his desk at our offices, minus his trousers, and singing.

When approached for comment the landlord (Nitchin Frome, 58 years Scalentine) said: “Someone insulted one of the Ikinchli. The Nederan took exception to this. Someone took exception to her taking an exception. And anyone who thinks they can outdrink two Ikinchli and a Nederan is a damn fool. Now if you’ll excuse me I have sweeping to do and some broken chairs to mend.”


Reporter at the Scalentine Chronicle. Interest in local news, ability to ask questions and take the occasional punch required. Spelling optional but if you can’t our proofreader will hit you with a big stick until you can. Occasional sobriety preferred.

Apply 3 Roasting Pan Way.

Notes from Bitternut’s Casebook

On Change leave the last few days (full moon). Returned to duty to find marginally less chaos than usual and only 4 murders, one already solved (as in ‘caught red-clawed standing over the body’), pretty quiet for a full moon.

Station appears to have acquired – not a pet, more of a sort of shambling furry stain.  Apparently it wandered in while I was Off Duty and no-one had the heart to chase it off.  Has been named Splotch, which is, at least, fairly accurate.  Has a habit of sitting near people’s feet giving off an aura of hopeful neediness.  Not sure how it does this since if it possesses a face, I have no idea where it is and have no intention of trying to find out.  However does not appear to be causing any trouble or making any mess, which is more than can be said for most of our visitors.  Seems to like half-finished sandwiches, preferably squishy and dripping.


Disturbed to see from the book that Fists Pronag, in for assault on some unfortunate for the umpteenth time, shared a cell for two nights with an inoffensive if perennial little thief, name of Slippery Flores.

Was preparing to tear a strip off the officer responsible, only to see Slippery giving me a cheery wave on his way to court.  “Any trouble with your cellmate?” I said.

“Oh, no, Chief. Very polite fella, offered me the top bunk and insisted I take his supper, both nights.  Nervous sort, though.”

Further enquiries elicited the information that Fists had somehow got the impression that we had run out of cells for weres, and he was sharing with one.  What he thought poor little Slippery was likely to turn into I do not know, but it proved an effective method of control, though not one to be encouraged, probably.  Though must admit I rather regret missing the sight of Fists cowering away from someone half his size, for a change.


Officer Roflet drew the straw for giving a talk to the Retired Ladies Conversation and Knitting Circle on How Your Militia can Help You, and came back with a great deal of cake, a somewhat disturbed expression, and fifteen invitations to tea.  That’s five more than I got.  Told him wearing his uniform was a mistake.  He’ll probably be all right with all of them except Lady Alstonwither, who’s not only persuasive but remarkably agile for her age.  Still, might do him good, the boy needs a hobby.


Extracts from the Scalentine Chronicler

Alchemical Blaze

Residents on Brittle Bridge Way were woken in the early hours of last Jalday by explosions and brightly-coloured fireballs. T’fringith Dren, of No. 38, described the scene. “Like a festival, pink, blue, bang bang!  And the alchemist running about, waving his hands. In his underthings, purple, very fancy. Excellent entertainment.”

When asked if zhe was worried, citizen Dren replied, “Back home, I survive the Frentali wars. Worried, no. I have a drink, a smoke, I make a little party.”

No-one was injured in the fire though a number of homunculi escaped.  The alchemist, Gristal Dorchly, has offered a reward of one silver for any that are returned to him, though he warns that heavy gloves should be used when handling them. “The little ***** bite,” he informed our reporter.

Mysterious Death of Business Owner

Ofrin Moonthale, 47 Years Scalentine, a well-known local trader, was found dead at hir home on Gatesday. According to one source, zhe had at least 67 injuries, all of them apparently caused by different weapons, and at least one of which appeared to have been done with a small animal. “Not by,” our source said, “with. And every single one of them in the back. Or at least, from behind.”

Ofrin Moonthale was known to have provided Scalentine’s citizens with a number of interesting and exotic items over the years, and to have occasionally strained relations with other traders and with Scalentine’s Militia. A spokesman for the Militia said; “We are investigating. Yes, you could say we have a number of suspects. It’s quite a large number. And you can tell your source from me, that as soon as I find out who they are they’re fired.”

Fracas at Bloodshade Temple

Fighting broke out among shoppers at the Temple’s first annual rummage sale.  The source of the disturbance is believed to have been a mauve cardigan.  “It’s very distressing,” said a Temple spokesman. “We’re trying to improve the image of the church of Govash the Eternally Vengeful, really work with the community, and now this. I’m not saying there will be rains of vengeful fire, but he’s definitely peeved.”


“Yes, what is it?” The door opened about two inches.

Smewor felt eyes on him from the darkness, fixed his face into a smile. “Sorry to disturb you, love. There’s been a bit of trouble hereabouts. Burglaries.”

“Burglaries!” The voice quavered.  “Are you with the Militia?” A suggestion of an eye glittered in the opening. “You’re not in uniform.”

“No, ma’am.” Imitating the Militia was a very bad idea. They got touchy about that. “We’re just checking with householders.”


“Whether your valuables are safe. You have valuables in the house?”

“Oh! I suppose I do. Well, you’d better come in.” The gap widened. Smewor was through in a moment, pushing it closed with his heel.

“Lovely,” he said, grinning.

She was ancient, fragile, one rootlike hand clutching her green velvet cloak at the neck.

“Now, where do you keep your precious things, love?”

“Upstairs,” she said.  “Oh, dear, I’ve already been up once today, my hip, you know…”

He was amazed she could get up them at all.  She was so bent with age that the cloak dragged on the floor.

“Don’t worry!” he said, bright as a spring breeze.  “I’ll just check for you.  All right?  Which room?”

“First on the left.”

He was halfway up when she said, “Don’t you want to know what I’ve got?  You won’t know if anything’s gone, otherwise.”

Her voice sounded sharper, almost young. Smewor cursed himself briefly and silently  before turning around and rolling his eyes, grinning.  “You know, you’re right, forget my own head if it wasn’t nailed on, haha!  What should I look for?”

“Oh, just a few bits. My mother’s pearls, some bangles.  On the dresser. Don’t wear them much these days, you know, no call to at my age…”

“Right you are!” Smewor bounded up the stairs.

The house was larger than it looked from the outside, bright and neat, without the old-person mustiness he expected. The first room on the left contained a dresser and a bed, where a large, grey cat opened a sliver of eye at him and yawned.

The dresser itself was nice. In fact all the furniture was nice. A return trip with some mates might be in order. This old bird was easy meat – could probably be persuaded to lock herself in the privy while they stripped the place, and if she couldn’t – well, a cosh would keep her quiet. He’d done worse, often. And the cat would be no trouble, not like a dog.

There were some bangles – nothing but tin, probably, with most of the paint worn off, not worth his time. But the pearls…he blinked, reached out his hand and lifted them from their brass saucer.

They had the shimmer and weight of the real thing, but were no colour he’d ever seen before, a pale smoke-blue. He lifted them close to his eyes. He could almost swear there were patterns moving under the swirling surfaces, writhing bodies, tiny faces – so beautiful...

A noise from outside made him jump.  How long had he been standing there like a loon?  The old lady hadn’t called out – had she got suspicious? Gone to get help? He jammed the pearls in his pocket and edged out of the room, peered down the stairs.  The front door was open – he thought he’d felt it latch behind him.  He started down, ears pricked.

The old lady appeared at the bottom of the stairs so suddenly he jolted and almost fell. “Would you like tea?”

“Oh, no, thank you,” he said, smiling.  “No, better get on.”

“Was everything there?”

“Yes, it’s all fine.  Now you take care.”

“Oh I will,” she said, as she shut the door behind him.


Smewor found himself reluctant to get to Vomos’ place. His hand kept wandering to his pocket, stroking the pearls.  Their smoothness, the clicking noise as they rubbed together, was immensely pleasing. At one point he realised he was standing, holding them up before his eyes, right there in the street. He shoved them away, hurried on.

“Nitharion blues!”  Vomos the fence picked the pearls up reverently.  “Look at that. A hundred of ’em. Beautiful!”

“Nitharion blues, eh?” Smewor said. “Special, are they?”

“You have no idea.  Lovely job, Smewor.  A hundred now, another forty when I…” Vomos hesitated, his voice, suddenly, a little uncertain, “when I sell ‘em.”

Smewor looked at the shimmering droplets hanging from Vomos’ pudgy fingers.  They were beautiful.  Like a chain of tiny, misty moons.  And Vomos was very generous, all of a sudden – a bit too generous.  Maybe they were worth more than he was offering.  Suddenly Smewor was convinced of it.  Something that beautiful had to be worth more.  Besides, Vomos was only going to sell them on – to who knew what passing traveller or merchant, they’d be gone, Smewor would never see them again.

“No,” he said.

Vomos’ face, lumpy with the memory of a dozen fights, tightened like a fist.  “No?” He said, not taking his eyes off the pearls.  “You won’t get a better offer.”

“I’ve changed my mind. Give them back.”





Vomos’ free fist shot out, the other one holding the pearls carefully out of the way.

Smewor’s cosh came up to meet it, cracking bone.


The woman who stepped into Vomos’ premises a little later looked no more than forty.  She was tall, and striking, and wearing a dark green velvet cloak that swirled about her ankles.  She peered at the two bodies on the floor. A knife was buried in Smewor’s neck; Vomos’ head was broken.  She shook her head, reached down and picked up the string of pearls, and counted them. “Only two this time?” she said. “This place is getting better.” She put the pearls around her neck, and left.

A grey cat put its head in briefly, surveyed the scene, and followed her out, pausing only to piss on the doorpost.


Dear Babylon – Parental Disapproval

Dear Babylon

A few weeks ago I went to the bakery to get an order for my Dad’s restaurant as the boy who normally does it was off. The people who run it are Barraklé you know what they are right? They have tails and four arms and are not boy or girl but sort of both (I don’t totally understand that part yet but anyway). Oh I am human I should say and a girl.

The order wasn’t ready so I was chatting with the owner’s son daughter offspring (why do they call it that? You don’t spring off your parents, anyway that’s what my Mum says, she says springing doesn’t come into it at all only she won’t say what does).

Anyway hir name is Bicca and zhe was really nice and we are both into playing jorf and the same music and zhe asked if I’d like to meet some of hir friends at this café zhe knows so I did.

Zhe knows really interesting people like poets and stuff and some of them races I’ve never met before and I had a great time only got in trouble for staying out late.

I really really like hir, zhe’s so kind and funny, we’ve been meeting quite often, and last time I was at the bakery zhe asked if zhe could kiss me and I said yes and it was nice only hir parent came in and yelled and I was startled and fell over and squashed some rolls.

And hir parent went to see my parents and there was a lot of yelling and it all went horrible. I do not understand why everyone is so upset it was just a kiss and anyway if we can buy their bread I don’t see why we can’t kiss them if we want.

Or they want.

Now our parents say we can’t see each other and mine are talking about sending me to stay with my aunt Rosish who disapproves of everything. Except the gods. And soap. And she lives on another plane. I don’t want to leave home and all my friends.

I would like to run away. I understand you run a business and have lots of races come see you can I come and work with you? I work hard and am clean even if my aunt Rosish doesn’t think so.

Yours desperately

Bathina (15)


Dear Bathina

Oh, dear. I am sorry, honey.

I hope you are not really planning to run off, are you? I’ve done that, when I didn’t have a choice. It’s hard and scary and you sometimes have to do unpleasant things to get food and a place to sleep, and there are nasty people out there who would take advantage of a young girl. I wouldn’t advise it.

The business I run being what it is, I can’t offer you a job, I’m afraid. If your parents don’t approve of you seeing Bicca they certainly are not going to approve of you working for me, even though the only thing I would offer you at your age would be helping out around the kitchen and so forth. I’d suggest you don’t mention to your parents that you asked me for advice. Or a job. In fact, it’s not a suggestion. Just don’t.

You need to talk calmly with your parents about Bicca, and Bicca needs to talk to hir parent. Explain that you just want to see your friend, and ask them to explain exactly what the problem is with you seeing hir. Stay calm and just keep repeating that you don’t understand what the problem is. Sometimes getting people to have to explain a problem makes them look at it again and realise it isn’t really there at all. And also, explain that you and Bicca are not planning to do anything foolish. By what you’ve said, this is another talk you need to have with your mother – right now – and ask her to explain that side of things to you i.e. babies and how they happen. If she absolutely refuses, write to me again and I will explain. I don’t think humans and Barraklé can have babies together but better safe than sorry, all right?

If this doesn’t help, you may just have to wait until you’re old enough to move out and decide for yourself who your friends are. You can survive being with your Aunt Rosish a while. People live through worse. And you’re welcome to keep writing to me, if it helps.

Good luck.


Curious: Not without chainmail. Are you joking? If not, talk to Cruel and Unusual.

Fluffy: You can’t expect to send someone a picture of you in your ‘previous incarnation’ and have them not be startled and dismayed when what turns up bears no resemblance to what they were expecting. That’s not prejudice on her part, that’s deception on your part. So, no.

Conspiracy: Please stop writing to me. Yes, there may well be people trying to put stuff into our minds – been there, done that – but I am not wearing a helmet to bed. Whatever it’s made of. Or signing that petition. Please find it enclosed along with your green crayon.