Friday, July 3, 2009

160. Furrier Destructions

Contest winner: Sir Read-a-Lot
Runner-up: greyniffler

Sadie charged into Endora's laboratory, shouting strings of consonants that sounded indecent without vowels to clothe them. A crystal finger stuck out of her right ear. She didn't seem able to hear or understand the protests of the receptionist, the watchman, and the laboratory assistant who ran in after her.

Endora looked up from the mortar and pestle, with which she was crunching numbers. "What's all this?" she asked, in a tone of voice that Sadie understood to mean, "Calm down!" even before she unplugged her right ear.

"Have you resleeved any massages by Floo?" Sadie demanded, her words still a bit jumbled but at least recognizable.

"Yes, we all have," said Sadie. She gestured toward a sealed roll of parchment on the edge of her workbench. "Been rather busy, though," she added. "Someone spiked a shipment of Chanel No 5 with a magical algorithm that makes it shift through a succession of surreal numbers. There's no telling what effect the scent might have on the general public..."

"Then you haven't bean enclaved to that gist with the ring?" Sadie grinned with relief. "Whatever you dough, doughnut read it. Have everybody bun -- brown -- bird -- ballots! Tell your lost to incinerate their coupés immoderately."

"You heard her," Endora said, nodding toward her three co-workers as she tossed the roll of parchment onto a gas ring and ignited it. "Spread the word."

The guard, secretary, and lab assistant reluctantly left the room. "Now what is this about?" Endora asked, as Sadie threw herself on a stool and slumped across a paper-strewn stretch of bench.

Sadie's reply was muffled by the sleeves of her robes. "Are you sugar you aren't in leek with this Lee Shorts villain?"

"Sure as my nose is two and three-quarters inches long."

Sadie raised her head and squinted appraisingly at Endora's nose. Then she buried her face again. "They've ghost Joe and Ilex, pretty muck everyone in Hawksmeade. The whole whirl will go necks. We've ghost to dough something."

Endora took a moment to translate all this, then nodded and said: "What can I do?"

"Fist, you've goat to blink-fold your-shelf," said Sadie, her grasp of language struggling more and more as she grew more excited. "That wax, Lee Spore can't beguilt you with the rotten word."

Endora nodded dubiously, but kept smiling.

"Thin," Sadie went on, "we nix a couple of booms, and your note -- your snow -- your gnus" -- she gave a little scream of frustration -- "your olfactory ogre will lead us to wherever Lex Horse is hiving, and we'll tack him down toboggan. I mean, together."

Endora kept nodding while she processed this. Then she shook her head. "How am I supposed to track this bloke? I've never seen him. More to the point, I've never sniffed him..."

"Sniffle this," Sadie said, whipping a thick wad of parchment, tied in red tape, out of her robes. "I necked this from the Mastery. It's a repot on some fainter who supposedly brick the Statue of Secrecy. Vee Sore chased me thorough it. That's wen he punched the rung off me..."

Sadie stopped talking. Endora had snatched the report from her. Tearing the ribbon off, she spread it out across her workbench and began sniffing it, from side to side, from top to bottom. She occasionally muttered a few words, which sounded to Sadie like: "Mustard, sausage drippings... tobacco, Ficus Brothers... felt, sweat, fermented Brylcream; somebody needs to have his hat blocked... Oi! I know this nutter, obliviator obviously, complete putz, couldn't charm his way out of a twist of newspaper... Hmm. Bit of oil-based paint, dab of scented lotion, ladies' brand and not very old ladies' either; our Lysippus has been a naughty boy... dust, mildew... Aha! No, wait, that's just you... There it is -- no -- yes..."

Endora looked up, her eyes fixed and shining, her nostrils flaring. For a moment her expression frightened Sadie. Then she grinned, looked Sadie's veil in the eye, and said: "Now I believe I can find him blindfolded."

"Is he fair away?"

"Oh, yes," said Endora, pulling a sleep mask out of her hat (where she kept it, seemingly, to be prepared for an all-nighter in the laboratory). "Why don't you go and nick those brooms for us, eh? I'll close up here, circulate the word about not opening any mail, and..."

Sadie was already gone. Twelve minutes later she appeared again with a broom over each shoulder. "You'll never belie where I founded this Cleanswipe 6," she chirped. "Some burger was swapping the stairs with it!"

"Language," Endora said absently as she pinned a hat with a motor-veil into her hair. With her the veil was not so much for disguise, as to protect her valuable scent organ. "I'm ready to go. In fact, while you were out, I had time to dig something useful out of my research on this algorithm problem."

"Wait's that?" Sadie asked as Endora led her upstairs toward the roof.

"Just an idea Ernest the Inscrutable left in his notes."

"Eh?" Sadie shook her head. "Wasn't he that gizzard who went gogo over the member 42?"

"Oh, no. He proved that 42 has magical properties. Only, he never found out what they were."

"And wasp," Sadie asked as they emerged onto the roof, "are you going to dupe with a broody number?"

"I'm going to use it to tie up Mr. Shore in red tape," said Endora, brandishing the Ministry report. "Only this time, he won't get out. Not once we use his seal -- "

"Impala's seal," Sadie corrected.

"-- Ilona's seal," Endora agreed, "over instructions not to open the report until the 42nd of May."

Sadie winced.

"What?"

"Remind me," she said, "newer to get up your knob. Er, news..."

"Olfactory organ," Endora hinted.

Sadie nodded grimly, but her gesture went unnoticed because Endora had already donned her sleep mask and leapt off the rooftop. Charming her broom to stay close to Endora's, Sadie followed her into the swift, rushing air.

+++ DOUBLE CHALLENGES FOR TMQ #161 & 162 +++

You can help decide what happens next in The Magic Quill! Simply leave a brief comment answering the following Surveys and Contests. The survey answers with the most votes, and the contest answers that Robbie likes best, will turn up in the next two chapters!

SURVEY FOR TMQ #161: What gift from way back in Chapter 141 should Merlin use next? (A) Karl's survival satchel. (B) Some of Anatoly's defensive tattoos. (C) Another dose of Endora's Liquid Skill. (D) Subito's Turbo Gum. (E) Boccachiusa's Peekaboo Kit.

CONTEST FOR TMQ #161: Suggest an experiment a wizard might do, toward bending a particular law of nature.

SURVEY FOR TMQ #162: Funny thing about Ilona... In Chapter 155, she was hypnotized by Lee Shore. But then she turns up in Chapter 159, right as rain. How would you explain this? (A) Ilona-155 is an imposter. (B) Ilona-159 is an imposter. (C) The events of Chapter 159 take place some time after Endora & Sadie (presumably) save the world from Lee Shore. (D) Somehow, by magic, Ilona has managed to be in two different places at one time. (E) Other suggestions welcome.

CONTEXT FOR TMQ #162: Describe a special step or move that a well-trained wizard might use in hand-to-hand combat.

25 comments:

Robbie F. said...

SURVEY FOR TMQ #161: What gift from way back in Chapter 141 should Merlin use next? (A) Karl's survival satchel. (B) Some of Anatoly's defensive tattoos. (C) Another dose of Endora's Liquid Skill. (D) Subito's Turbo Gum. (E) Boccachiusa's Peekaboo Kit.

CONTEST FOR TMQ #161: Suggest an experiment a wizard might do, toward bending a particular law of nature.

SURVEY FOR TMQ #162: Funny thing about Ilona... In Chapter 155, she was hypnotized by Lee Shore. But then she turns up in Chapter 159, right as rain. How would you explain this? (A) Ilona-155 is an imposter. (B) Ilona-159 is an imposter. (C) The events of Chapter 159 take place some time after Endora & Sadie (presumably) save the world from Lee Shore. (D) Somehow, by magic, Ilona has managed to be in two different places at one time. (E) Other suggestions welcome.

CONTEXT FOR TMQ #162: Describe a special step or move that a well-trained wizard might use in hand-to-hand combat.

Robbie F. said...

I'm in no hurry to cure Sadie of her oral dyslexia. Her dialogue is so much fun to write!

greyniffler said...

I vote C, the timeline shift. And, while Merlin apparently has to protect Rigel's 'governess', I'm going to vote for B, one of the defensive tattoos.

Let's see ... how about a wand feint -- trick the opponent into thinking that you're reaching for your want and then act while he's trying to go for his.

As to bending a law of nature ... so much of magic already does that. I gotta' think about it.

Linda Carrig said...

Still laughing from the dialogue in the last chapter, you'll have to wait for some of my ideas, hehehe

Joe said...

lets see here...

I vote for a tattoo since we haven't seen one of those yet will be interesting to see how they work.

I vote for reverse rainfall.. violates the law of gravity by causing what appears to be a huge thunder storm but it leaches water out of the ground or lakes etc.. until it moves on.

I vote for Ilona being in two places at once because of the whole time traveling thread causing current time to become unraveled.

I think a really good combat wizard would figure out how to get a "wand" implanted in his arm so that instead of having to reach for a wand in his pocket he could just start casting spells.

Dragonic said...

161SUrvey: I vote B. I'd like to see those in action.

161contest: AN expirement towards trying to make something "unbreakable" by meshing all of the atoms that make it together, so it can't ber split at all.

162survey:C or D

162COntest: A wizrd with careful aim, a lot of confidence (or two wands) might turn his wand on himself and use expelliarmus to disarm himself, so that the wand that goes flying hits the opponent in the eye.

Linda Carrig said...

survey for #161: I go with the tatoos, be interesting to see what they do...

contest for #161: A wizard might try and make it possible for humans to be able to breathe CO2 instead of oxygen.

survey for #162: A fascinating by-product of the crystal finger is that it allows the wearer (?) to split themselves in two thereby making it possible to be in 2 places at once.

contest for #162: A dueler could combine fancy foot work with dazzling spells: the cha cha CHA, the werewolf trot, the dip split, twirly whirly etc.

TWZRD said...

What a lot to think about!
(Sadie sounds like my 4AM typing : -)

OK, 161. I don't see how the gum would help unless he can pick up the governess and run with her. Possible, but would she cooperate? Somehow, I don't see it. Likewise, the blindfold seems made for one only. I would vote for the A, the satchel, as both could fit in as I understand it, but it looks like the tatoos are going to carry the day.

Experiment: Maybe something involvint the unauthorized use of a time turner. The goal could be to cause repair of damage, or even reversal of ageing. Somehow, to carry something/someone back in time to when it was younger/not sick or damaged, them move it forward again without resuming it's current state of decay. Would you wind up with an extra? I guess not, if the thing was removed from the present with the turner.

162:As for Illona, there's definately some time between the two episodes. She's been dissenchanted by the time we see her again. By what? Well, perhaps the thing Merlin is going to steal.
Fancy moves, huh. That's a hard one. I'll fall back on my own story and suggest refracted spell casting. For instance, you could use a mirror to cast "incarcerous" around a corner.

greyniffler said...

As to violating the laws of nature ... funny thing about Piscataway, NJ: due to the way it grew the road net is, well, very deceptive. I like to joke that it's non-Euclidean; it's the only place I know where you can start out facing east, drive for half a mile, turn north, drive for a mile, and end up a mile west of where you started. (Now, it's possible to do something like that around the North Pole, but I've never been there.) And the funniest part of it is that people who live and work there find this a very good description of the place.

But what if some wizard found a way to make this happen for real? I don't think that anything we've seen, either in Rowling or in Bob's office, has quite matched what the muggles of Piscataway have managed to do.

greyniffler said...

Oh ... as to Piscataway and non-Euclidean geometry: something like that is hinted at in the second half of Zelazney's Amber stories, as well as in the descriptions of Castle Heterodyne. One of the more famous Twighlight Zone stories also uses something similar.

Robbie F. said...

See also the works of Bloody Stupid Johnson, particularly Empirical Crescent.

greyniffler said...

Silly me ... I forgot the Department of Mysteries, which did have at least a vaguely non-Euclidean quality to it. But indoors and underground.

greyniffler said...

Let's see ... let's try the laws of mathematics. There is something called (quite seriously!) the Pigeonhole Principle: If you have M pigeons and you put them in N pigeonholes, and if M > N (you have more pigeons than pigeonholes) then at least one pigeonhole will have more than one pigeon (at least two pigeons will share a pigeonhole). Violating this would be a good (ahem) trick.

Robbie F. said...

I prefer the Hazelnut effect. Less mess, and you get a snack out of it too.

greyniffler said...

Hmm. A web search does not find a hazelnut effect, but Wikipedia has an article on a brazilnut effect, which is the tendency of brazil nuts to rise to the top of mixed nuts when the mixture is agitated, or more generally the tendency of large grains to rise to the top when the aggregate is agitated. The effect can be suppressed or even reversed by the shape of the container.

Linda Carrig said...

I love nuts! Especially brazilnuts! Devilishly hard to get the shell off though...

greyniffler said...

I don't know if the effect is limited to pre-shelled nuts. I've been assuming so, based on reading the Wikipedia article, but that may be an error.

Robbie F. said...

Hazelnut effect: the property of hazelnuts that causes them to make you think of them when you're searching for another word, such as "brazilnut." Judging by the old Tootsie Roll commercials ("Whatever it is I think I see..."), Tootsie Rolls are probably laced with minute traces of hazelnut.

Robbie F. said...

PS - I meant to have Chapter 161 up by now, but a certain little movie premiere intervened. I'm sure you'll understand. I've seen HP6 twice now. And Robbie saw that it was good.

Linda Carrig said...

Haven't been to see it yet, but will go soon.

Those dastardly villans at the tootsie roll factory sneaking in minute bits of hazelnuts, the fiends!

Rehannah said...

Oh dear, my head's been spinning trying to catch up with these stories. Robbie, I'm so sorry for not commenting in ages, but I have been so very busy that I didn't even realize there was anything new for about 2 months.

Anyway, I'm probably too late for 161, but I'll still say A (or B). As for bending a law of nature, I was never really good at science, so I'll have to pass on this question. Sorry.

For 162, I vote C. Maybe the special move for wand combat could be just to vanish and reappear at different places to confuse the opponent. What's the spell for that again? I think my brain's fried by now. Hazelnuts indeed...

Linda Carrig said...

Delicately sautéed in hazelnut oil...

greyniffler said...

Here's a 'law of nature' that might be magically broken: a mirror that shows an image that is not reversed left-to-right.

TWZRD said...

I love that mirror! (Are hazelnuts getting to be an inside joke around here? ; -)

Anyway, just wanted to take my leave before dissapearing for four weeks. I'll be back.
I too liked the movie, minus a few complaints.
Keep up the good work, Robbie. Can't wait to see where we are when I return!

Linda Carrig said...

hazelnuts are ok by me! While researching "saints" and related things, I came across a bit if trivia: the original magic wands were made from hazel wood, therefore the fruit ie. hazelnuts is quite appropriate to the subject of this group and story. Put that in your hazelwood pipe and smoke it! lol!