On the Subject of Pie - Episode 16

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Tertiary Phase - Episode Sixteen

'So you do know where the swan is after all?'

'No. Just because the feather is in some way 'magical' doesn't mean it's a divining rod — you'd have to be stupid to think that.'

Pyrodæmon groaned internally at the thought of Lluchmoor reacting to what he had just said, but the reaction never came. Lluchmoor's eyes were fixed upon the glowing feather as if it were some sort of holy grail, something for which he had been searching for a long time. If that had actually been the case, then Pyro's estimation of him would probably have increased — this feather was possibly the most dangerous item that Pyro could possibly lay his hands upon, and yet that swan had just left it there without thinking. Then a thought occurred to him — what if the swan had no idea what it was doing here, and was actually acting like a swan should because it thought it was a swan! Maybe the feather could be used as a divining rod of sorts, after all — not in the usual way, of course, and so he'd have to think about it for a bit. Grabbing a handful of jelly babies from inside the cab of the tow truck, he proceeded to drag Lluchmoor inside the house, pausing only to check that the barricade across the living-room door was still in place — Mrs Bewidigeldi had become rather rock-cakish of late, and while Pyro was pretty sure that she wasn't harmful, he had learnt from the movies that it really did pay to be on the safe side.

smiley - porkpie

Meanwhile, John and Emily were debating exactly what to do with poor Cedric. While their 'mission' had been to find the swan and return it to the Royal Society for the Protection of Swans, John had a funny feeling that the current circumstances would make that a rather bad idea — what if the whole world had been hit by this bizarre cake plague except for them? What if they were the only ones left who were actually in any position to look after the swan? The nagging thought at the back of his neck began to quietly whisper to him, asking him why they were the only ones not affected, but John failed to hear its voice, opting instead to open another can of beer while Emily retorted that neither of them knew how to look after a swan properly, and that maybe it would be best to at least try to return it to its proper home. John remarked that she had a point, but that they'd probably best wait until tomorrow — after all, it was beginning to get dark.

smiley - porkpie

Lluchmoor watched as Pyro opened an onerously large book whose pages seemed to be so thin as to allow it to contain a seemingly infinite amount of information and yet refused to rip or break away from the binding despite having to endure an exceedingly rough time at the hands of an extremely anxious fire-casting demon. His face the very picture of both demonic evil and bad dental hygiene, he had begun to tear through the book at an alarming rate, skimming through chapter after chapter as if looking for the antidote to a fast-working poison. Eventually, his hand landed on the title page to a very special chapter, which had been carefully decorated with a drawing of a majestic white waterfowl.


Introduction: Outcasts from the Cygnus constellation, these creatures are sent to backwater planets as a punishment for their crimes according to a judgement system renowned for its strictness. Being stripped of their very identity, offenders are made to live their lives as waterfowl, their memories being removed in order to prevent conspiracy to escape. Judgements may only be made by a Council of Fellows, with a Council residing on each of these planets for this very purpose. The Council's power over any occurrences involving the swans on their planet extends to more than just simple influence — old legends document cases of Cygnian Councils being forced to bring entire worlds to an end to prevent the escape of extremely dangerous criminals who have somehow reversed the process of 'disguisal', although thankfully this would seem to apply only to so-called 'high security' planets. Furthermore, on each planet, a 'Seigneur of Swans' is chosen from the local nobility and is held responsible for ensuring diplomatic protection of swans on their planet to as great an extent as possible, while also taking a census of prisoners regularly to ensure that no escape has taken place.

Yes, Pyrodaemon thought, he'd heard this all before — why couldn't this book tell him something useful instead? These sorts of matters were obviously heavily protected, lest they were exposed to such an extent that someone like Pyro could steal the Council's power for himself. He'd almost forgotten how difficult it had been in the first place — the poaching of souls was a lot trickier than the poaching of eggs, which in itself wasn't exactly a walk in the park.

smiley - porkpie

Having finished the crossword puzzle on the back of the paper she had bought (at least the pens were still working), Emily looked across from the kitchen table to see that John had finally fallen asleep on the sofa, seemingly exhausted by everything that had recently occurred. She still wasn't quite sure what to make of him — John was a nice enough bloke, but there always seemed to be something slightly up with him, as if something had happened a long time ago and he'd never gotten over it. She reasoned that many people probably had that sort of problem but didn't show it, and so she went back to looking at the puzzle page of the paper. She hoped she'd feel sleepy soon — the alternative was another one of those sudoku thingies, and she wasn't quite that desperate yet.

Meanwhile, John had started to dream again. He was back by the river, only this time the moon had disappeared completely, seemingly covered by the grey clouds that filled the sky that night. The white object was there in the distance once more, only it was smaller and seemed to be ambulating in a rather peculiar way. He realised that it was the swan and began to chase after it, but the swan had now started to waddle quite quickly, the gap between them closing more slowly than John expected. John realised that he had pulled a muscle and was now limping quickly instead of running, and he was unable to make up the distance before a pair of putrid hands swept up the swan and carried it off, kicking and quacking. He heard Emily's voice yelling something about them having got Cedric and asking him to hurry, but he could barely run now, the pain in his gastrocnemius slowing him down regardless of his attempts to just ignore it. As he reached the boardwalk, things started to become blurry, and all he could see was a blinding white light enveloping the end of the boardwalk where the boathouse should have been. As he stepped onto the wooden planks an explosion ripped through the air, the dream fading out as he felt the heat singe his hair while the pressure wave forced him to the ground.

John awoke to realise that his lungs and heart were working overtime and a cold sweat had formed on his forehead. Emily was standing next to the sofa, asking him what the matter was, and he assured her that it was just a bad dream despite the fact that every vivid detail was now set unerasably into his memory. He would have to go back there one day, and he had a feeling that that day was not as far away as he would have liked.

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