"So much for the old deck," the smoke was real enough. Alex coughed to clear his lungs, then opened his eyes to survey the damage. A small pile of ash remained a pile that was quickly reconfiguring itself into palm-size rectangles.
"A new deck of cards old master Alexander," the bird man was now only a voice. His body form hovered somewhere close, but it was his magic that sustained the dream. One after another the large deck fanned itself. Eight cards the thickness of cardboard. "The deck of Iktumi, the Trickster and Illusionist.These are the lies he tempts us with, the illusions that consume us, and disappoint us." the disembodied voice of the Raven was as a stage production fit for audiences at Banana Skin and Ginger. The fully grown changeling child had created a one-audience performance. Words and a single figure animated each card. Each line of words on each card began the same way.
If only I was rich, then I would be happy
If only I was beautiful or handsome, than I would be happy
If only I had no physical handicap in any way, than I would be happy
If only I had more or better friends, than I would be happy
If only I, than I would be happy
If only I, than I would be happy
If only someone close to me had not died, than I would be happy
If only the world was a better place, than I would be happy
Alex read the cards in turn and digested the figure on each palm-sized card. A fine woodcut point had etched the lettering and drawn each image. One by one Alexander Santiago considered the lies, and chewed on the fit. His was a long and lean body that wore no fat for long. Where does a man with no visible bulge bear an illusion, and for how long can an illusion wear a man such as this? These were questions that weren't dealt with in a common day or night in the life of the welder schooled in old magic.
In that place where Those-Who-Watch pause while waiting for the infusion of nourishing herbs to steep in their recipes requiring more time than tea Shine Molina tapped Raven on his left shoulder. The silver and black wing feathers rippled in a shiver at her touch. "My bit is done Raven man," she said her voice as deep and unforgiving as a tsunami. "Like a wave, the spiral has curved onto itself. I left the woman with painted nails and blossoming privates. She will never be quite the same. If your man is to be a suitable partner the future will be interesting, at the very least."
The pair of meddlers watched. The hefty yellow metal kettle continued to let off more steam from the water left in its belly. The glass jars capped with boiled water and dried Stinging Nettle and Comfrey were already turning deep green and amber. Both jars sat on the simple wooden table over looking the alley in back of the cafe. The smell of pies baking in the kitchen below made even the spirit being hungry for the delights promised.
"Shall we?" Shine had put in a full day's work and hadn't had banana pie made from the small fingers of Apple Bananas, contraband bootie thanks to the new apprentice. "Must we wait for both their dreams to bake as well!" There was a protocol and she knew as well as the Raven all involved must sit together.
"It won't be much longer, Whale Woman," he rarely called her by that name the sacred name that few knew. The remnants of kombu and sea lettuce made the naming impossible to resist. Shine still smelled of the old color of love. To answer him Shine dug her claw like fingers the color of pomegranate into the wings of the now giant bird and pressed herself into him with unbridled passion. "If I must wait," she thrust her breasts into his heaving chest. They fell together as Raven became a fully grown man with all the anatomy to prove him so.
While we all wait for Alex Santiago to deal with his next deck of cards, let's step back a little.