Review- UON (Urgency of Now)- Exit

I recently had the great pleasure of meeting up with Simon Segal of UON for a chat. It was a typical gorgeous, warm, autumnal Sunday afternoon in Melbourne. Over coffee and pasta at the iconic Tiamo in Lygon St we talked about his new music project UON and their first single; about his life in music and about the way the music scene in Melbourne has changed so much, and not all for the better.

So who are UON? According to Segal, UON is the product of a group of friends coming together because of a shared joy in playing music. They are Susan Hume(vocals), Belinda Cohen (drums), Simon Segal (synthesizers and production and engineering), Dallas Cosmas (bass & guitars) , Paul Healy (grand piano), MIlton Nomikoudis (vocal wrangling), and Wayne Reynolds (technical wrangling). Each with their own talents and with varied backgrounds and experience this group of artists formed not so much a ‘band as such’ but more of a collective of like minded souls. The benefits of such an approach are obvious as soon as you listen to their first single “Exit”.

They are the latest project to come out of the Prototype Musique stable. For those unfamiliar with their work they are an independent production label based in Melbourne.They are the brainchild of Dallas Cosmas (a talented musician in his own right)and they have produced some wonderfully adventurous and thought provoking artists and music in recent years. With over 25 years experience, Simon Segal is a long time friend and co-conspirator. He has worked as a producer on a significant portion of Cosmas’ back catalogue over many years. UON is just their latest creation.

Out Now on Spotify and most other digital platforms

“Exit” is an extraordinary piece of music. It is more like a sculpture made of sound than a song. Because people seem to rely on such things, if I had to name a genre I would go with electro-pop. But, to be completely honest this song defies any kind of label. It is that rare thing in music these days, it is unique.

This is not a work that has been put together with a particular audience or demographic in mind, it is simply a piece of art that has evolved and developed organically. It isn’t for everyone. It is not cookie cutter, paint by numbers music, so for those who like their music predictable and safe, I suggest you move on.

I have it on good authority that this is just the first salvo from UON with more to come over coming months including an album by the end of the year. Exciting news for lovers of great music. In the meantime keep an eye out for their first single “Exit” which will be available on 23 April 2019 on most of the usual platforms.

Review- Dandelion Charm “Stephanie”

Following on from their superb EP Riding the Flood, Dandelion Charm have returned with their new single “Stephanie”. As fans have come to expect the Dandies have delivered a song that is rich and textured.

“Stephanie” is sweet and light, but with a melancholy undertone. They paint pictures in the air with their breathtaking melodies and their engaging lyrics. This is a song that requires multiple listenings to fully appreciate it. There are layers here, as each layer is revealed it hints that there is yet more to discover.

For me the Dandelion Charm belong to the troubadour school. Their music has an old quality about it. It invokes the imagery of roadside taverns, villages fairs and a little bit of magic. It is poetry set to music. Bottom line they are a treasure and a treat to listen to.

“Stephanie” is already getting considerable airplay across the better indie stations and is bound to be a huge hit for them. It goes on sale on Saturday 6 April 2019.

Website: https://www.dandelioncharm.com/

Review- NY2LA- Raspin Stuwart

Review by Jacqueline Lademann

Regular followers of Indie Music will need no introduction to Raspin Stuwart. The guy is a class act and is a regular feature on the playlists of Indie radio stations across the globe. I first discovered his music on Canadian based internet station KB Radio where his dedicated band of fans ensure that his songs are rarely far from the top of the weekly charts, with good reason.

His long awaited album NY2LA is an absolute cracker. Smooth, intelligent and sexy, Stuwart has delivered an album that demonstrates what a talented and thoughtful artist he is.

Fans will be pleased to find much loved tracks on this album including King of Foolz, the toe tapping Reelin’, and the ever popular Smoke the Hookah. But it’s the new material that got my attention. The title track NY2LA is sublime. But, for me it’s Mama’s Got the Blues that made me swoon.

From go to whoa this album is the real deal. I recommend putting this on, pouring a glass of your favourite tipple and just savouring. You will not be disappointed…except for when it’s over.

To order your copy of NY2LA go to https://www.raspinstuwart.com/ .

On language

I’m travelling, one of my favourite things to do in this life. One of the best aspects of travelling, for me because I mostly travel solo, is it opens my mind to contemplate the world, life and my place in it. On this trip, a reoccurring theme that I’ve returned to a number of times is the curious nature of language.

Those who know me will know I am in love with words and language in all its forms. Whether it’s one of the great works of literature, a cheap trashy paperback, a song, poetry or just conversation with a friend- new or old, the use of words and language fills my soul. This is one of the reasons I dabble in my small way with trying to write.

But on this trip, it has been brought home to me that a large part of the allure of words- is being understood and feeling like one belongs. A few times this trip I have got to experience something that rarely happens in my anglophone world… that is not speaking the local language.

First in Hong Kong, where English was available, but not dominant. I speak NO Chinese. A fact that I am a little ashamed of given I live on the edge of Asia. I fancy myself enlightened and evolved, but here was proof that I’m just another white, westerner expecting the world to bend to my will. Sitting on the train, surrounded by people all happily chatting amongst themselves, and I couldn’t join in, or even eavesdrop- it was an odd experience.

Then I arrived in Canada, the wonderful and famously bilingual nation in the north. Here I was a little better equipped. My high school French meant that I wouldn’t starve, and would be able to ask where the station was with confidence. But, it was in conversation that again the arrogance of my anglophone upbringing reared it’s ugly head. Sitting in bars and cafes in Québec to be included in conversation, they needed to change to English (which they did happily), but I was the visitor. I thought about what would happen if one of these people came to Melbourne, would my friends and I change to their language to make them feel welcome? Of course the answer is “No”.

Even amongst fellow anglophones, there are gaps in communication. This was brought home to me when I got chatting with a woman also from Melbourne. I’ve been back in predominantly English speaking Ontario for a while now, so no more guilt about my appalling French. But in talking to this woman who was a stranger, was the most relaxed and restful conversation I’ve had in weeks. The familiar accent, that I didn’t know I missed; the ability to just talk without having to explain slight variations in meaning of words and phrases, and knowing that I was unlikely to inadvertently offend her was wonderful.

So what does this all mean? Or are these the ramblings of a crazy woman that mean nothing? I think what it means is that language and words are great but more important is communication. It’s how we as people connect with each other. It also means I need to stop being lazy and maybe expand my knowledge of other languages, even a little.

The Amethyst Song (Episode Twenty- Three)

It had been several weeks since Mae had accepted the title of Queen. She still wasn’t used to it. In fact it was becoming down right annoying. It seemed everywhere she went she was followed by people. All of a sudden she had gone from being near invisible, to the centre of the whole universe. She missed being unnoticed. Before she could roam about as she pleased, with only her faithful companions, Amity and Missy for company, and do pretty much what she liked. Now it seemed she couldn’t answer a call of nature without someone asking where she was going, what she was doing and worse yet, attempting to go with her. Since that day in the dormitory she hadn’t had a moment alone, she certainly hadn’t had a chance to try to find her Mum again. That was distressing her more than anything else. After the last encounter she was desperate to know that her mother was unharmed, however the cry of intense pain told her otherwise.

They had left the factory. It had been decided that the time had come to confront Alistair and his regime. There had been many long discussions, mostly Alex and Hector yelling at each other around her, and she had only been able to follow half of it. But it seemed that her declaration and the reaction of The Song to her accepting her role as Queen were significant events, and were signs that it was time to act.

So, as a result all the inhabitants of the factory were now on the move. Marching slowly but surely on their way to The Capital. The town of Murpodompous was never all that big, but stretched out all together moving through the land they were a mighty army. Also, Hector had devised the travel route so that it passed through as many small towns and hamlets as they could. As Alex had told them, for a considerable time the underground networks had been doing their job, spreading the word that change was coming. So when the giant caravan arrived, they were welcomed with excitement and anticipation, rather than fear. Then to ensure maximum effect Alex would mesmerise the townsfolk with one of his great orations before dragging Mae before them all, and showing them their Queen. The people clapped and cheered as she stood before them, and each time the glow that surrounded her seemed to intensify. When the caravan left again, they took most of the inhabitants of the towns with them. So, now they had half of the population of Gildamoor was on the move; and all for her.

They were spending a rest day in the small forest village of Cumberfyre. After weeks on the road, Hector and Alex had decided that everyone could use a day’s rest. They decided, after being told off by the Queen’s constant companion,self-appointed bodyguard, lady-in-waiting and best mate, Amity had yelled at them for not looking after Mae better. The girl had even managed to get most of the well wishers, self-appointed aides, advisors and general hangers-on to leave Mae alone for an afternoon. Well, not quite alone, she still had Amity and she still had the dog. They followed her silently, as she ventured into the woods around the village.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and the two girls and their canine friend had found a reasonable sized pond, with a pleasant grassed area around it. It was the perfect place to relax and forget for a moment that they were marching to war. The girls were laying on their backs with their eyes closed, the dog resting her head on Mae’s feet. The warmth of the sun was glorious. They were close to dozing when they heard a twig snap. All three were immediately alert and standing. Missy, whose keen sense of hearing and smell had kicked in, moved toward a clump of bushes bearing her teeth and snarling. Amity followed close behind gripping a shotgun she had armed herself with back at the factory. She reached out toward the bush, pulling the branches apart.

“Okay! Like come, like out you creep!”

Standing before them was a tall,good looking and athletic looking young man, with long, unkempt blue-black hair, and eyes that blazed bright purple. Startled, he fell forward toppling on to the girl and dog. Amity and Missy got the upper-hand first though forcing the young man to the ground and holding the gun over him.

“Like who the hell are you? Why have you been following us?”

“Following us?” Mae had come over and stood beside her friends. “What do you mean following us?”

Amity pointed at him using her gun, the man looked from one to the other with a mixture of defiance, annoyance and fear. There was also a slight hint of bemusement.

“This creep has like been following us since like we left town.”

The man chuckled.

Amity gave him her filthiest stare. “What is so like funny? Arsehole!”

“Just, you’re not much of a protector are you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, that I’ve been following you ever since you left Belbarbiton, and you’ve only JUST noticed me.”

“You’ve been…what?”

“Could I get up now? The grass is damp and my arse is getting wet.”

The women glared at him.

“Trust me. If I wanted to hurt you, I’ve had plenty of chances before now.”

Amity continued to glare. However, Mae who sensed that there was more to this young man than what they saw softened.

“Oh come on. Up you get.” She reached out her hand to help him up, when he grabbed her hand there was a spark of electricity and light where their hands met.

Once he got up, he brushed himself down, “Well, thank you, Your Highness, that’s a new experience for me.”

“Um, me too.” Mae’s voice was slightly shaky. Her hand was still tingling. “What was that?”

“Not too sure. But, my guess it was The Song recognising us as kin. It tends to get excited when stuff like that happens.”

“Kin? What like family?”

“Well yeah,” he stood scratching his head, looking like he was deciding his best course of action. “Okay well, I suppose introductions are in order, I’m… Brynwald.” He bowed, making a grand flourish with his name.

“Nice to meet you Brynwald, “ Mae stuck out her hand to shake his.

“Umm, maybe later hey.” He chuckled. She laughed too.

“Oh yes. I’m still getting used to having powers. I don’t know quite what I’m doing.”

“Yes. I noticed that.”

Amity gave him a look that said she still thought he was a creep.

“Look I’m sorry I didn’t show myself before now. I meant to earlier, but I needed to be sure that it was safe, for both of us. You and I are on the most wanted list for some rather unpleasant people.”

Mae just looked confused.

He turned to her and took her by her shoulders, a soft purple glow started to radiate, “I’m your cousin.”

 

“Bah Humbug” to all and to all a good night.

I call to thee all Scrooges, all Grinches and misanthropes.  All cranks, all hermits, and cynics. Come hither and rest your weary souls and enjoy some peace and refuge from the hell they call… Christmas.

In all honesty though, I don’t actually HATE Christmas.It’s a good excuse to see friends and family that you simply can’t get to during the year. I like mince pies, Christmas Cake and Plum pudding and all the other delicious goodies that are around during this time. Even the whole gift giving thing doesn’t phase me. In fact it’s my favourite part. Making my friends and family smile is one of my greatest pleasures, throughout the year, not just at Christmas. If it were allowed to remain as just this I would have no problem with the whole institution of it. Indeed I would embrace it. But it doesn’t, and so I can’t.

How many, like me have felt trapped in Holiday Hell? There is little escape from the frivolity that surrounds us. We are obliged to socialise and engage in small talk with people we would normally avoid. We are forced to endure listening to some of the most annoying songs ever recorded on a constant loop from about October. If we raise any objection to any of it, we are condemned as a spoil sport, a ‘Scrooge’, a ‘Grinch’ and generally made to feel like there’s something wrong with us if the mere thought of a twinkle light doesn’t send us into a semi-orgasmic stupor.  

This time of year gets hijacked by the “Christmas zealots”. We all know these people. Extroverts for the most part, they are the ones for whom the phrase “too much Christmas” simply doesn’t exist. They decorate, and bake and generally do Christmas with the fervor of one of Santa’s elves who has had one too many candy canes. Don’t get me wrong a little bit of tinsel around the place never hurt anyone, and I won’t turn down a bit of the old Lions Christmas Cake, but it rarely ends there. For the rest of us, especially those of us of a more introverted bent the constant stream of social obligations, and the need to be ‘up’ and ‘jolly’ is frankly exhausting.

Many people have got through the year by the skin of their teeth, having got through the various trials and crises that life throws at people, or just coping with the business of living day to day, the last thing they need is some well meaning dolt grinning at them, shoving a Santa hat on their head and insisting that they join in on a round of “Jingle Bells”. “No,” is rarely taken as an acceptable answer at Christmas time. So, if you want any friends left after New Years (don’t get me started on THAT little scam),you suck it up, paste on a fake smile and plough through, as a little bit of you dies inside.

If you are reading this, and don’t understand, because for you Christmas is special and magical and quite simply the best time you ever had; let me say I’m thrilled for you. Enjoy yourself! Just don’t make it compulsory for me to join in.

 

The Amethyst Song (Episode 22)

Beatrice rolled over. The thin blanket she had, provided little relief from the cold. She slept fitfully, largely due to the uncomfortable bed but also because kept going over scenarios in her head, worrying about her daughter. She had no idea how long she had been here. The night that she and Melissina were taken away in the E.L.E.P.H.A.N.T. had been terrifying. But, her terror had less to do with her own predicament than with concern for her daughter’s welfare. Had they found her? Was she in another E.L.E.P.H.A.N.T.? Or worse. She had no way of knowing. She didn’t dare use the Song to locate her in case doing so would lead her uncle to her. The only thing she could do was to pray to the Mother of Creation to protect her daughter and guide her to safety.

But, earlier today, she had received a gift. It was only fleeting, but it was strong. She saw her daughter. Or rather she felt her daughter’s Song in her mind. The shock of it gave her a start. The vision brought with it such a feeling of warmth and love that she was overwhelmed with emotion. It was the first sign that her daughter was safe, or at least in a place where she could send out her song without interference. But how did she do it? She knew her daughter’s power was strong, and that it would be strengthening. But, she was untrained, or at least she had been. Such a powerful song, over such distance, and without knowing where Beatrice was required skills only a handful of the most experienced Masters of the Song were capable of. Who had she found to train her? She wondered if Hector was with her, was he looking out for his niece properly. She knew he loved her, in his way, but he always had a tendency to be a little too cavalier her liking. His own skills with the Song she knew was limited, and she wasn’t sure if he realised how dangerous it could be if Mae wasn’t properly trained. As these thoughts began racing through her head, her momentary feeling of love and joy quickly gave way to worry and concern for her child. She was a mother, that’s what mothers do.

She sat up, giving up on the attempt to sleep. Between the cold and the worry, sleep wasn’t easy to come by in this place. The injuries she had suffered during their arrest and capture had healed for the most part, however their remained a constant underlying pain in her joints that she suspected would remain. Up to now, apart from the spartan conditions of her cell, her treatment hadn’t been too bad. So far she had mostly been left alone and been ignored. She had expected Alistair to oversee her torture personally given their history, but she hadn’t even seen him. In fact, she hadn’t seen anyone.

Her meals were delivered once a day through a slot at the bottom of her cell door. The only natural light came from a tiny window in the top of the cell door, made of frosted glass. No doubt Melissina was being held in similar conditions.

 

Meanwhile, way above the prison cells of the castle, Alistair was pacing around his office. Clutched in his hand was a crumpled piece of paper. Cowering before him, the messenger who had delivered a most unsatisfactory report. Fortunately for the messenger, Alistair was to caught up in his own thoughts and rage to even notice they were there.

The report came from a regional port within the kingdom. In described how almost undetectable acts of civil disobedience were on the rise. Had they been a few random occurrences, they most likely would have gone unnoticed. But, there were now almost daily reports of people behaving in ways that were at odds with what he wanted. They were beginning to meet in groups, openly discussing their displeasure with one aspect of their lives or another. They were refusing to purchase the daily state newspaper, with a disturbing report of underground newsletters beginning to circulate between people. Not in huge numbers, but enough. When questioned by the local security services about their neighbours, people were either giving false information, or refusing to answer at all. The threat or even the use of violence made people more reticent about cooperating. It was as though all the fear that he, and those who worked for him, had so carefully nurtured over the past eighteen had started to evaporate.

The most disturbing part was that a rumour had started to circulate, that the true Queen of the land lived and that she would come to rescue them all. It was barely the hint of a whisper, but it was everywhere, and growing stronger. He was getting reports like this almost daily from all over the realm.

Most concerning of all, was the feeling he had earlier that day. He could still feel the after effects now. It was the feeling that only came from someone using the Song, and a Song more powerful and pure than he had ever felt. He knew instinctively that the Song came from his niece. It was rough, and clearly untrained, but the shear, raw intensity of it made him fearful for the first time in his life. He knew he had to act decisively and soon, or risk losing the throne. But how should he act? Killing her was obviously the answer, but it had to be done in a way that EVERYONE saw. Killing her quietly was not an option, not if he wanted to quell the rumours of her return once and for all.

He came out of his contemplation and saw the messenger.

“What! Are you still here? Go, you cretinous imbecile.”

The messenger needed no further instruction, he bolted out of there like he was on fire.

Alistair looked around the room, settling his gaze on Melissina, who was curled in a heap on the floor, in the corner of the room. Her face was bleeding and bruised, a number of her teeth missing, and her hair was matted with dried blood. Her dress was torn and the was grimy and unwashed. The fear in her eyes when she saw him look toward her, put a satisfied smirk on his face.

“Melissina my dear,” he leaned down and pulled her up by her hair. “What am I going to do? Hmm?”

The woman stayed silent.

“Nothing to say? No matter. I’m tired of you anyway. I think I may get myself a new, much more satisfying playmate. You, my dear were merely practice. How does it feel to be of so little value? So irrelevant? Urgh. You don’t smell very good either. But, you do have cleared my head. I know what I need to do now. So thank you.”

He then kissed her on the mouth, and threw her carelessly back into the corner, and walked out of his office. When he got out into the hall, he passed one of the palace staff.

“You there. Would you get someone to remove that rotten garbage from my office?”

He didn’t stop to see how or whether his orders were carried out, he was on a mission.

He was standing outside Beatrice’s cell, salivating at what was about to happen. It seemed fitting that this woman who had stood in his way in so many irritating ways would now prove to provide the assistance he so badly needed.

He opened the door.

“Pleased to see me?” He smiled at her sending a chill through her whole body.

“Alistair.” She stood straight. Looking him squarely in the eye.

He entered her cell, moving so he stood directly in front of her.

“It seems you have a visitor.”

She said nothing, just looked at him defiantly. Just then the air around them began to shimmer, and a light hum filled cell. Both Beatrice and Alistair began to glow. In fact, at that moment every person in the world who possessed even the tiniest amount of the Amethyst Song, was experiencing the same phenomenon. Beatrice smiled, she knew that her daughter had somehow accepted her birthright.

“Powerful girl my niece, isn’t she? It’s a shame she hasn’t learnt to mask herself yet. But, I’m thankful to her, do you know why?”

Beatrice stayed silent.

“Because I’m going to use her power to bring her here.”

He reached out with his mind, and begun to hum a long, slow Song in his deep baritone. The Song seemed to become a solid, life force, resembling a kind of serpent. It spun around and surrounded Beatrice, coiling around, and around her, beginning to constrict her, she could hardly breathe. Then just before she thought she might pass out the things head came up, and started through her eyes, penetrating her mind with a cacophony of sound, ending in a loud crash. The pain it caused her made you gasp and cry out, despite herself. She knew, that the feeling of pain would travel to her daughter.

She knew he was right. She would come.

 

The Amethyst Song (Episode Twenty-One)

After what seemed like a decade, Mae woke from her slumber. She turned to see her two companions watching her closely, worried looks on their faces.

“I found her. She’s alive. Next time I know i’ll be able to say something.”

Amity shook her head, “Next time? This time almost killed you. Do you have any idea how long you’ve been out of it?”

Mae waved her hand at her friend, “I’m fine. I just need practice, that’s all. I’ll get better.” She tied to stand up, but her legs gave way, sending her back to the ground. She giggled. “A bit shaky, I guess.” Amity came over, the dog at her heels, and helped lift her up.

Mae looked at Amity, “I’m fine really. Just a couple of kinks to work out.”

“Mmm-hmmm…sure, kinks.” Amity didn’t look convinced, but she had worked out that there was no point arguing.

The three of them snuck back into the factory, and went back to the dormitory. When they got there it seemed like all the current inhabitants were crammed in there, all focusing their attention on one man who was holding court telling tall tales of adventures and impossible things. The man looked up and saw the two girls and the dog enter the room.

“ Aha! The star of our story!”

Everyone in the room turned to see who he was talking about. Mae and Amity both looked startled to suddenly find themselves the centre of all that attention. Missy surveyed the crowd warily, getting on her haunches ready to pounce.

The man stepped forward and took Mae’s hand, bowed over and kissed it.

“M’lady, “ he said with a sweeping gesture, playing up for the benefit of the crowd.

Mae, who was still pale after her recent exertions, added confusion to her look of surprise. The man started pulling her toward the centre where he had been entertaining the crowd. Her two bodyguards following close behind, watching the man with suspicion.

Once they reached the centre of the room, the man turned to the gathered masses and gestured toward the young girl.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present, the rightful Queen of Gildamoor. Your Majesty,” he bowed before her, again swept his arm out in a flourish. The was a murmur of voices throughout the room, then all of a sudden every man, woman and child was bent over at the waist, or dipped into a curtsey. The only ones left standing upright were Mae, Amity and the dog.

Turning red, Mae started gesturing at the man, and everyone around the room, trying to get them to stand up.

“Get up. Get up. Stop that. All of you.”

Finally everyone was back up, and staring at her with rapt attention.

She turned to the man, “Who are you? What do you think you’re doing?”

“I might ask the same question.” Hector was standing in the doorway now.

His normally pale, blue eyes were shining a deep, dark blue. The scars on his battered face seemed to be glowing.

“Alex! What the hell are you doing?” He stomped through the crowd toward the group in the centre.

Sir Alex took in his old friend, a bemused smirk on his face.

“You always were one to overreact to things. It’s a family trait I guess.”

Mae looked at them both, then back at Alex, “I’ll ask again who are you?”

“This is Sir Alex Mendelson. He was one of your father’s chief advisers and closest friends.” Hector looked like he was about to tear the man’s head off.

“What does that mean?”

“It means, Your Majesty, that I was your father’s most trusted aid in all things political. You could say that I ran the country for him.”

“Alex,” Hector was talking through gritted teeth now, and gesturing toward the crowd, “we need to talk in private. NOW!”

“Oh Hector!” Alex said. “Plenty of time for that. I just figured it was time these fine people knew why they were about to go to war.”

The crowd, who had been watching the whole exchange in rapt silence, suddenly started to rumble. “War?” “What does he mean?” “What did he say?”

Hector looked around at the crowd.

“What the hell do you think your doing?”

“I’m getting things started Hector old boy. You’ve spent too much time tip toeing and pussy footing around. It’s time for action. The girl is of age, it’s time that we got that brother of yours out of her chair. These people are just the ones to get it done. Am I right?” Alex addressed this last question to the crowd. The murmuring through grew louder.

“People,” it was clear Alex was in his element. “People, it’s time! You are all here because the pretender to the throne, Alistair burnt your village to the ground, destroying your homes, your livelihoods and your lives. Across this country, in towns, villages and cities just like yours he continues to inflict his cruelty. You are not the first to suffer from his wrath. But, if we rise up and fight we can make sure that no one else suffers the way you suffer.”

The noise had subdued, people were listening. Even Hector seemed to have cooled down, and seemed resigned. He looked on at his niece with a thoughtful, and slightly down-hearted.

“Ladies and gentlemen. This girl, who you have seen grow up in your community, who you all knew as a child, she is the hope, she is our future. She is the true heir of one of the greatest dynasties this land has seen. Her Mother and Father, King Frederick and Queen Clarissa were guardians of our country, whose union brought peace, harmony and prosperity to all. Since their deaths in a violent uprising eighteen years ago, the regent Alistair has brought misery and despair. He has ordered and overseen the destruction and torture of any who oppose him. He has ruled with an iron fist.

Amongst your number, there are those who have worked in secret, preparing for the day we would take out country back. Who know the truth. People who have not listened to the lies spread by his puppet press or been swayed by the lure of power and fortune that he has bestowed on a mere handful.

Alistair is a traitor to this country. He orchestrated the palace coup that lead to the death of his brother, and we have reason to believe that he killed his brother and sister-in-law with his own hand.

He needs the Amethyst Song to confirm him as King, but the Song is more powerful than the wishes of any mere man. It knows and sees all. It will only acknowledge the true heir when they sit on the throne. Without the Amethyst Song no coronation can go ahead, and so long as the heir is living he can not make any claim. Thanks to the good lady Beatrice, the woman you all know as Bea, she ensured that the King and Queens infant daughter- born that fateful night was kept safe and hidden so that her uncle could bring her no harm.

But, now, the child has grown into this fine woman you see before you. She is destined to be the greatest Queen this land has ever seen, surpassing even her parents and grandparents. Her reign will bring in a golden age for us all. But, first we need to help her. We need to rise up, remove the imposture and lift her onto her rightful place on the throne.

It won’t be easy. Alistair won’t go without a fight, and he will fight dirty. Many of you will not live to see the end. But, all of us need to forget about ourselves and stand strong to ensure a better future for our children and our children’s children. We need to do this because it’s right!

Who’s with me?”

The crowd stayed silent. Stunned.

“I said. Who’s with me?” First one, then two then everyone in the room started cheering, and clapping. “I’m in. “We’re in.” “What can we do?’

Alex turned toward Mae,

“My Queen, it’s time for you to address your people.”

Mae went pale, looking out at the crowd.

“No wonder your Dad put him in charge, “ Amity muttered under her breath.

Mae, stepped forward,

“Um, friends, um, all of you, um, I don’t know what to say.” She looked at her friend, then her uncle who by now was just simply concerned. He just smiled at her and nodded.

“I am still coming to terms with all of this. I have know idea how to be a Queen, much less how to lead a revolution. All of you in this room I consider to be my true family. Talk of Kings and Queens and magic, these are all new and strange, it is all of you that are real for me. Knowing that because of me, you have all lost so much, gives me pain. But, if being Queen helps restore your lives in anyway, I will happily take up my place. I will be your Queen.”

The crowd broke into spontaneous applause. Yelling and cheering. A chime was heard in the air, and all of a sudden Mae began to glow a faint mauve. The light formed a halo around her head.

Awash with the glow of the Song, her mind opened of its own accord. She felt the love of the whole world in that instant. But then she heard a crash, and her mind was filled with a cry of pain. She recognised the cry, the cry was her mother.

She turned to her friend.

“I think I just found her again.”

 

The Amethyst Song (Episode Twenty)

The stranger stood with his back to him. There was a woman sitting at the computer, and he was resting one hand on her shoulder, while leaning over and point at something on the screen. Even standing as he was, it was clear that he was a big man. Well over six feet and broad-shouldered and wearing fitted black jeans and t-shirt. It would be a brave soul that would mess with him.

Hector, coughed. The stranger looked around. Seeing Hector he grinned. He came over and the two men hugged. Hitting each other on the back as they did so.

“Hector you old bastard! “

“Sir Alex!”

“That’s enough of the Sir thank you, My Prince.”

Hector laughed. “Touche.”

Alex nodded toward the factory. “ You’ve got quite an operation going here.”

“It’s building nicely. Yes. But, we won’t know how well until we’re put to the test.”

“There are rumours that you’re preparing for war.”

“That’s hardly news. Ever since that arse of a brother of mine killed my other brother, we’ve all been at war, one way or another.”

“True. This is different though. This feels, seems more, I don’t know, determined. Like everything before now was just practice for the real thing.”

“You could be right there.”

“What’s changed? Why the sudden ramp up. I haven’t seen you this committed and ready for action since the raid. I had almost thought you had abandoned us, and had decided to see out your days tucked away as a hermit.”

“It’s not so much what has changed? But rather who.”

“Who?”

“She. He found her hideout.”

Alex was temporarily stunned. But he quickly regained his composure.

“So, then we really are headed for a mighty battle.”

“I’m hoping we can avoid that as much as possible.”

“When did you become so naive? You know it’s going to be long, and bloody and brutal. Your brother isn’t just going to give up power because we ask him nicely.”

“I know, I know.”

“I do have one question for you H.”

“Hmm. What’s that?”

“Why the hell didn’t you get me involved before now?” The two men laughed.

“Come I’ll show you around the factory.”

“Lead the way, my liege.” Alex bowed, with a sweeping gesture of his arm. Hector gave his friend a filthy look before leading him on a tour.

The two girls half ran and half skipped through the corridors of the old factory, to one of the back rooms. Only a handful of rooms were used by the gathering rebel army and the refugees from Mae’s home town. The rest was largely empty, and disused. However, here and there, evidence of its former life could be seen. Mae and Amity often came here.

Along the way, Hector’s old dog, Missy had found them and was tagging along for the adventure. Hector often joked that Mae had stolen his dog, the canine rarely far from her side. In fact, Mae was half intrigued to know where she had been. But she couldn’t think about that now. She had to concentrate on find her Mama.

They reached a heavy metal door. It was covered in rust, and difficult to open. It took both of them to get it to budge. Once they got through they were in a small paved area. It was dusk and the diminishing light made the surrounding forest appear like it was alive.

She sat in the middle of the concrete, with her legs crossed, and placed her hands on both her knees. Missy sat next to her while Amity stood back, watching her friend, torn between concern and excitement. Mae wasn’t one hundred percent certain what she was about to do would work. But she had learned enough about her power now to start to understand it, and she felt confident that she knew enough to begin to experiment.

Mae had found that music was more than just sound to her. She was learning that all her senses came to play. She could see music, feel it, taste it and smell it. Her instinct told her that tuning into her different senses was the key to gaining control of her power. Her plan was to use her power to reach out and find her mother. She reasoned that if imagining the light of a candle, and feeling its warmth, could blow up a room, tapping into some other sense would work for this too.

She had decided to focus on smell. Her mother always wore a light, lavender perfume. She concentrated on the memory of the fragrance, and began to sing. She immediately felt safe, warm and loved. She pushed at the memory with her mind, stretching it and making it grow. She could feel it doubling, and tripling in size. Pretty soon it had grown so that she could feel it stretch over the metropolis of Belbarbiton like a blanket. But, it didn’t stop there, it kept growing. Eventually, she felt she had reached a place that felt both strange and familiar all at once. She realised she had reached the Capital, the place she was born.

She started to pay more attention to small details, logic told her she would be here. She felt the impression of a grand, powerful building. The palace. She knew she was close. She made one last push with her mind, lifting her voice to a crescendo. All at once, her mind locked with her mother’s mind. She knew immediately that it was her. The surprise made her lose concentration, and she lost the connection. She opened her eyes to find herself back outside the factory. She was exhausted, but elated. Her first spell had worked. Plus, she now knew her mother was alive. With practice she would be able to make more lasting contact, and maybe even work out how to rescue her.

But right now she needed rest. Not caring where she was at the moment, she lay down and slept. Her two faithful companions, one human and one canine, stood century over her.

Meanwhile, in the nearby forest, two unseen eyes watched.

The Amethyst Song – Episode Ten

The ride into Belbarbiton had been silent. When Beatrice had found Mae, in a long abandoned, blocked off portion of the old factory, she had tried to get her adoptive daughter to talk to her. She had even tried to provoke a fight to get the girl to yell at her. Anything. But the girl made it clear that she wasn’t interested in talking, and so it was in silence that they had made their preparations to leave.

Hector had let them use his battered old M.U.L.E. It was an early model and had seen better days. But, he assured them that he had maintained it himself and would get them to their destination in one piece. Also, as an all terrain vehicle, it would be able to take them off the main highway, through the back roads, and dirt tracks, just in case road patrols had been set up.

The trip took three days. If they had used the more direct highways, they would have been there in a matter of hours. But Beatrice, cautious as always, was keen to avoid detection. She had even doubled back a couple of times. Finally though, they approached the city.

Belbarbiton was huge. It was the largest city in all of Gildamoor, although not the capital. As they crossed the city limits, and entered the outlying suburbs, Mae broke her sullen silence to gasp in awe, as she saw the towering skyscrapers up ahead. It was late afternoon when they hit the city proper, and the afternoon sunlight reflected off the multitude of glass and steel that made up that city. The towers were built in a variety of colours and hues, with pinks, greens and violets being the most popular. To Mae, the girl whose only memories were of a small fishing village, the view was as spectacular as it was overwhelming. Beatrice couldn’t help but smile to see her daughter’s reaction.

As they passed through the streets of the bustling city, Mae was fascinated by all the different vehicles everywhere. Barely a week ago she saw her first H.O.R.S.E. yet now it seemed that the whole world was moving about in some kind of metallic, motorised contraption. She wondered why Murpodompous had escaped the influence of these fantastical, man-made beasts. She was about to ask, when she saw possibly the most stunning building in the world. It was massive. So tall that when she looked up, the top was obscured by the clouds overhead.  It was wide too, taking up three city blocks, with just a few narrow tunnels cutting through to allow traffic to move through. Above the cars, pedestrian walkways connected the towering monoliths.

The glass edifice was coloured a deep, dark purple. At regular intervals, wide glass doors allowed entry into the giant structure. An emblem displaying the initials HLC was tastefully hung above each door. The enormous picture windows had such wonderful displays, some with mannequins dressed up in the most stunningly modern creations for men, women and those who weren’t so fussy. The array of colours and fabrics had Mae staring in astonishment. Nothing like these had ever been brought into their shop for mending. Then there were other windows with all kinds of bizarre electronic gadgets and gizmos. She could hardly imagine what any of them were for. But the window that caught her attention, and kept it, was a display of various musical instruments. They were all so bright, and shiny she wanted nothing more than to tell her mother to stop the car so she could have a closer look.

Beatrice noticed where Mae attention led. She too was drawn in a similar direction. She would have loved to take her daughter in and show her the wonders. It would have been a good way to breakdown the wall that had formed between them. But, her focus was on finding a safe place for her daughter, while she went and found the person she needed. So she kept driving. Both women looked back wistfully once the enormous building was finally behind them.

Eventually, the M.U.L.E. pulled up outside a hotel. Unlike the sparkling, shining buildings all around, the hotel was dilapidated, and looked like it could fall down at any moment. It was five storeys high. Beside the towering giants surrounding it, the hotel was almost invisible. The entrance had a shabby looking, faded, blue and yellow striped awning, and a flashing neon sign telling the world they had  V CAN YS. Beside the hotel was a driveway, leading to a parking lot behind the hotel. Beatrice drove through and parked in one of the many empty spots. There were only two other vehicles  there. One old D.O.N.K.E.Y parked in the ‘Staff Only’ spot, and a H.O.R.S.E.  in the back corner, although  not as nice as the one they had seen in Murpodompous.

The women got out of the car. Mae followed her mother around to the front, and to the front desk. A bored looking teenage girl was behind the counter. She had bright orange, short spiky hair. A row of silver earrings ran up her left ear, while a bright pink feather hung from her right. She was wearing a black t-shirt with “Go Fuck Yourself” in white, jagged writing across it. Mae wondered how she was able to lift her hand, it was so covered in rings and bracelets.

Mae and Beatrice stood at the desk waiting for the girl to look up from her magazine. They waited a while. Finally, Beatrice cleared her throat and the girl put it down. She glowered at the women who had interrupted her reading.

“What?”

“We need a room,” Beatrice had had enough of sulky teenagers. Her daughter she was prepared to tolerate, but this ‘thing’ was another matter.

“If it isn’t too much trouble.”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. Umm… do you, like, do you have a whatsit, a reservation thing, like?”

“No, we do not. However, I should…” The girl cut her off.

“S’alright. Just like fill this in.” She reached under the counter and brought out a red plastic clip board. The clip board had a stack of registration forms. They were turning yellow, it was clear they hadn’t been refilled for a long time. Clearly that had not been necessary.

Beatrice filled in the form. Glancing over her shoulder, Mae noticed that she registered them as Naomi and Tammy Benson. In the address section she just wrote, Brogalla. A largish city on the opposite side of the country.

The girl took the form, glanced at it, looked up and said, 

“So which are you Naomi or Tammy? ” The sneer in her voice told them she knew the names weren’t real, but she didn’t really care. Behind her was a series of pigeon holes, with each room number written above. Each pigeon hole had a hook with a key on it.  All except one, room 12.

The girl reached for the key to room 10. The one closest to where she was standing.

Beatrice said, “We would prefer a room on the top floor.” The girl sighed, this was the most work she had had to do in days. She was already deciding whether she would call in sick tomorrow.

“Whatever.” She passed them the key for room 52. “Happy?”

Beatrice felt the level of sarcasm was unnecessary. As she took the key, she asked, “What can you tell me about the guest in room 12?”

“Well they don’t ask annoying questions for starters.”

Beatrice was satisfied. At least she could be reasonably certain this girl wouldn’t divulge their presence to anyone, “Fine. How much?”

“Depends how long you stay for.”

Beatrice reached into the front of her dress, and pulled out a purse. She removed a large roll of notes. She peeled off a couple, and placed it on the counter. “I think this should cover us for the next couple of weeks. Yes?”

The girl behind the counter stood up straight, her eyes wide with amazement and greed. “Umm, sure, like. Umm… stay, like as long as, you like.” She grabbed for the cash. Putting it straight into her back pocket.

“I thought so.” Beatrice nodded satisfied. She looked around, and noticed a CCTV camera behind the desk. She pointed at it. “Does that work?”

The girl looked where she was pointing. “What the camera? Nah! The owner like put it in cause he like figured it would be like a deterrent. But the guy is like so cheap he like won’t even like plug it in.” She indicated the electric plug was out.

Beatrice nodded. She handed the girl another couple of notes. “Let’s make sure it doesn’t suddenly get plugged in, shall we.”

The girl just nodded. Mentally she was already planning the massive blowout she was going to have with the money. She was definitely not coming to work tomorrow.

Beatrice turned toward the stairs, “Come on.” She started heading up. Mae looked over at the lift.

“Can’t we use the lift?”

“Oh, so you’re talking now? No, I think you’ll find the lift hasn’t worked for years.”

“Oh.” Mae returned to her previous sulky demeanour.

Beatrice sighed.

They were on the fifth floor, after climbing all those stairs, the women were exhausted. Their room was at the end of the hall. A window looked out at the building next door. Opposite their room was a door that lead to the roof and the fire escape.

Beatrice opened the door, and the women went in. The room was all brown, tan and orange. The carpet was threadbare and there were unidentifiable stains on the ceiling. In the centre of the room was a double bed that looked as hard as a slab of granite. It was covered in a motley, frayed and faded orange bed spread. Opposite the bed an old television was bolted to the dresser. A door sitting just ajar, revealed the bathroom.

Beatrice looked around.

“I know it’s not much. But it will be safe.” She looked across at Mae, who had gone to sit on the bed.

“Can I trust you to stay here?”

Mae glared at her.

Beatrice sighed. “Fine. Just don’t leave this room until I get back.”

“Is there any point asking where you’re going?”

“I’m going to find a woman who can help us. Help you rather.”

“I guess I should have expected a vague answer. Is there any reason I have to stay here, and can’t come with you?”

“It’s not safe. I’m already taking a risk in going myself.”

“Fine. Then go. I’ll be here. Waiting like a good little girl.”

Beatrice placed the key beside the TV. “I’ll leave this here, but please don’t go out. Don’t let anyone in either. You’ll know it’s me because I’ll knock like this.” She demonstrated knocking three times on the door. “Alright. Goodbye my love. I promise I’ll be back soon.” With that she left.