TV Cheese: Flash Gordon & Sanctuary

Lalume has the week off because he is busy working on the Book View Cafe newsletter.

Therefore, Amy has some commentary on sci-fi television.

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I’m sure I would be Queen of Cheeze too if I ever got off my butt and activated my Chees-O-Meter for the Sci Fi Channel bundles of goodness. I really tried hard to find the 2007 Flash Gordon hawkmen – I saw the original show and Meredith saw them on You Tube and said they were going around and people were laughing their butts off at them. Continue reading

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Beware the Wood Sprite

I had thought to wait a bit before describing any of the humanlike magickal creatures one might find in traveling the Wide World.  But the Wood or River Sprite is a creature that is best learned about early in one’s magickal education.  A child, perhaps, might take this creature for a wholesome playmate.

But woe to such child, for the Wood Sprite is fickle, and mayhap, such child might venture forth into the wild woods and never be seen again.

It is said that, like pixies, the Wood Sprites are curious creatures, although their capacity for memory is such that, should they learn one thing one day, it is forgotten by the next.  And most of all, such Sprites are fascinated by children and their doings.  That is the reason why their childish playmates may never return home, for as the Sprite plays each day with the child, during the night, such play is forgotten — and each new dawn, the Sprite believes she or he has found this child in the woods for the very first time.

It must be said that, although the sadness caused by Sprite kidnappings is deep, with many a mother and father mourning for years, the Sprite does not wish for such sadness.  It is just that in their Sprite-like imaginings, each day begins anew, and therefore, time does not mean the same for a Sprite as it does for you and me. 

Do not, whatever you do, make to bargain with such a creature.  With memories such as the Sprite’s a bargain made one day is quickly forgotten.  And you might find yourself turned to a tree stump, or a toad.  Best, if you see one, to make quickly for the forest’s edge.  The Wood Sprite will not pass into open fields or cross a road, so find ye either of those two things, and the danger will soon pass.

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The Salamander’s Eternal Flame

Sekhmina, the Salamander of the Red CityI have only seen the magnificent Salamander, or Sallymander, once. It is said that in the whole Wide World, there can be only one such creature, and should there be two — well, we could hardly predict the results, so vastly would this disturb the balance of magickal power.

A quiet, self-possessed creature was the Salamander when I saw her. This is a likeness which I drew from memory, so perhaps she was a bit rounder, or perhaps a bit more reddish around her delicate little feet.

From such a tiny creature, one might imagine that little magickal power could arise. But never in all of my travels have I known greater power to exist in a tiny frame. Should you chance upon the Salamander, do not be deceived by its innocent mien, or gentle, soft voice. The Salamander burns with an unquenchable, eternal fire. Should it question you, and it is a curious beast, beware that you tell the truth in all regards. For the Salamander knows truth from falsehood instantly, and as for liars — they will be instantly burned to cinders. Doubtless, this was the source of the many dark, ashy and oily spots here and there in the Salamander’s chambers when I visited her those many years ago. It is very well that I had no inclination to dissimulate, or I would not be here, telling the tale of her charming demeanor and visage today.

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From a Tiny Sea Tartal

The baby sea tartal is the ideal Avatar for the discerning ConjurerIn the highest days of Elder Magick, each village or hamlet — even perhaps, a fork in the road — enjoyed the protection of a Conjurer or Mage.  Perhaps the smaller villages might share a Conjurer with their neighbors, though disputes often arose.  Although such spells are possible, it was never wise for a Conjurer to split himself in halves or quarters and divide his attention between villages.  That particular practice was what led to the unfortunate case of the moaning stones of Foutaise.  Few remember these days, but Jean-Luc the Sagacious, Conjurer of Western Arbres, frequently copied himself, in order to meet the demands of three lady friends, five villages, and the port of Foutaise. After a nasty encounter with the local Sphinx, Jean-Luc ended up divided into six confused, and utterly disembodied parts.  The hapless Conjurer’s only alternative was to embody his half-dozen divided selves in a group of barnacle-encrusted rocks at low tide — which to this day, moan and groan at the coldness of the water whenever the tide comes in.  Of course, at high tide, no one can hear a thing the rocks are saying, and should you wish to question Jean-Luc, it is best to go early in the morning on days where the tide is at its absolute ebb.

 

 A far better choice for the well-prepared Mage is an Avatar.  An Avatar is merely a shadow-copy of the Mage’s observational powers, and it will serve to warn the populace of impending Magickal danger, as well as allow the Mage, properly-prepared, to see just what trouble may be brewing while he or she is away.

And as all good Conjurers know (few enough though they are these days!), the very best sort of Avatar is small, portable, of pleasant demeanor and responsible nature.  For this purpose, I have always found that the small sea Tartal is quite the most reliable vessel. 

One must get them when they are quite small.  Indeed, that is how I learned of the plight of poor Jean-Luc, the no-longer-Sagacious.  Sitting at low tide among the oyster beds of Foutaise, I was observing a clutch of sea Tartal eggs about to hatch, with the intent of selecting four or five of the most vigorous infant Tartals as they emerged from their shells and made their way to the water.  The moaning rocks quite clearly called out my name, and I recognized Jean-Luc’s tone of voice.  As he owed me a fair amount of money as a result of his utter inability to hurl a quoit with any accuracy, I did not answer.  Instead, I scooped up the little Tartals, threw them in my sack and left rather quickly, as some boys were approaching with stones in their hands.

I’m proud to say that at least one of these little fellows survives today, although he has taken a hardened shape, like unto a silver pin or ornament.  In my present position, it provides me with no little pleasure to see his adventures from time to time.  He is currently in the possession of a lovely young woman with long wheaten hair.  I rather think she may learn a few tricks from my Avatar, though of the group, I imbued him with the least of my powers.  But for Lalume, even the lesser powers — are powers indeed.

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About the Gryphon

The Fire Gryphon as Seen in Magickal TextIt is a curious, yet little-known fact that the greedy reputation of the magickal Gryphon is entirely unfounded in fact.  Gryphons do not consume precious gems, jewels, gold and suchlike for purely selfish purposes.  While in the days of Elder Magick, it is true that a number of the lesser Gryphons were kept by their masters as guardians of hoards both great and small, this was a cruel practice in opposition of the magnificent creature’s genuine nature.

Innocent of worldly concerns:  such is the true nature of the Gryphon.  Ask a Gryphon for any bit of his hoard, and he might consider for a moment providing something of lesser value — a chicken egg, perhaps, or a nicely-rounded rock.  However, press one’s case to the Gryphon justly, and he will whole-heartedly cough up a pearl so large that you could not hold it in the palm of your hand.

Indeed, if you were to find a magickal book lying around — oh, say in the back of a cabinet, or propping up a vase of fresh umbrel flowers — you might find just such a sight as you see here, leaping out at you from the page.

Consider carefully then, for if you possess the proper magickal implements and can read the words there writ, you might find yourself the master of not just an ordinary Gryphon, but one of the highest order:  a grand and terrible Fire Gryphon.

Prickly creatures these, but well worth the acquaintance, should you ever happen to meet up with one of them.  It is today of the Fire Gryphon that we speak. 

Have you ever seen a large horse, of the sort that pull great wagons of hay or barrels of honeyed ale?  As tall as such a horse is at the shoulder, the Fire Gryphon is half-again taller when full-grown.  His wings once spread, would seat four grown men comfortably — although, to be truthful, it is unlikely that even a very large Fire Gryphon could take flight for long, burdened with so many riders.  Generally, the Fire Gryphon’s eyes are golden, and even those of the green-eyed, northern variety, possess a piercing gaze.  It was often told in days of Elder Magick that those who looked in the eyes of a Fire Gryphon could not lie or avert their gaze, until said Gryphon chose to release them.

Many are the Fire Gryphons of legend:  we may remember today the names of Altrus the Brave, Rollo the Wise, and – well, it is true that most Gryphons were not greedy, but there were exceptions – of course, the golden-feathered Phlogiston the Greedy.  Phlogiston, I’m afraid, really did consume the entire fortune of Mencius, Heptarch of Virgos in a single sitting.  However, it is not true that Phlogiston exploded from the pressure of gems, gold and other precious items in his belly — that is one of the more egregious of the old Mage’s tales.  The result of this gruesome excess was merely that Phlogiston could not lift his bloated form more than five feet off the ground, thus making him an easy target for Mencius’ conjurers, who promptly administered the proper spells and herbs to make the greedy Gryphon return the hoard to its rightful master.

It has been long years, of course, since such creatures as Phlogiston, Rollo and Altrus (whose feathers really were sky-blue – to see him in flight was quite an experience!) ranged free across the skies of the wide world. 

Yet still, dear readers, there are magickal texts out there in the Wide World, and there still exist some few magickal implements.  So, should you be poking about in old cupboards or in your aged uncle’s sea-chest, or perhaps browsing the tables in one of the markets, and you come across a curious old silver bowl, or a small paper packet filled with oddly-smelling, rose-colored dust, or perhaps, an old blue book with a tattered cover, it might be you to bring a magnificent Fire Gryphon back to life, to once more fly free and wild across the high mountains into adventures once again.

I am, dear readers, your friend — Lalume.  Sometimes, perhaps, they called me the Magnificent.  But that was a very long time ago, and in a land very far away.

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