Golden Bridge Chronicle

Chapter 11: Hope is Good Medicine

Copyright ©2017-2021 Beldro Mercier & CSU Productions. All Rights Reserved.

Full disclaimer may be viewed at https://storylover.us


Music accompaniment

To play during reading: Nascence, Road of Trials – The Hit Points (Original Journey, Austin Wintory)


“A new Melbourne? What do you mean? That was my father’s mage name, not mine.” Francis asked, confused.

“It is the name bestowed upon the current bearer of the Melbourne Legacy. And since you have both become a mage and accepted your destiny, you are now Melbourne. This name will both protect you and link you with all your lineage. Their mantle will guide you.” Master Fox said.

“Now tell me what is going on? I am all ears, and your faces tell me you are undecided.” Master Fox said, slouching comfortably at the forefront of the painting.

“Well, you asked us to find a source of Mana near here before the Solstice to power a ritual, but considering everything that has happened, I have found nothing, not even a lead.” I started.

“That is really unfortunate. You have found nothing on Abraham’s Plains? Melbourne Senior really thought there was a good source there. We may have to rely on more gruesome techniques. Worst case, we can do animal sacrifices, but it would be few and a shame. Perhaps just reawakening the house links could bring enough, but the sorrow of Melbourne Senior in the last few years has tainted a lot of the house’s aura. A cleansing ritual followed by a joyful celebration may do the trick. Next?” Master Fox proposed. Both Francis, or should I say Melbourne, and I looked back at each other and in our mutual gaze, we confirmed the next subject.

“Well, we are both concerned about recurring dreams. Well not dreams, more visions of the past. I have had more than a few and Melbourne had two. They clearly point to something and are linked. My latest is pointing me toward Florence, Italy. His aren’t as precise but point to Ireland. Can you help us?” I presented. Master Fox got a bit agitated at my words, both concerned and interested.

“My first years with the Melbourne Legacy are a bit fuzzy, but I do remember both of those places. Melbourne’s Legacy started in Ireland and was there for generations until the Great Wars came and they were forced to move. We had family links here and decided to join them. They weren’t part of the main family line but there were still quite a few mages and they were here since the beginning of the British presence. Magic runs deep in Melbourne’s family tree. But sadly, it is now essentially extinct. In recent years, there were a lot of deaths among the children.” Master Fox exposed. A veil of sorrow fell upon Francis’ face, probably all the funerals he had to attend.

“There may be lost or forgotten members of the Legacy, but none that I know, or that Melbourne Senior knew. But I would encourage you both to explore those dreams and places. They are connected to you in probably more ways than we can see. Next?” Master Fox continued.

“Well I have a few interests in magical subjects that I could inform you, but they have no link to you or Francis, eh Melbourne. What name should I use?” Turning to Francis.

“Eh? I don’t know yet, I haven’t thought about it. Go for Francis for now.” Francis, clearly unsure, answered.

“Embrace your mage’s name my kit. You are now Melbourne, you must embody, live it.” Master Fox pressured.

“It will come when I am ready. At that point, it will come naturally to me. But for now, please keep to Francis.” Francis answered back.

“So changing to another subject, I just read a quite interesting book, one of the few things, that thankfully wasn’t damaged by the… Event” I stumbled on using a word for the assault.

“It’s a story about the beginning of magic, but with a strange twist about dragon scales. Master Fox, in your long life, have you heard about something like that?” I continued.

“No I haven’t but I know that the story of the World’s Rupture you mages tell yourself as evolved and changed. It isn’t an unchanging truth. So yes, it could have a kernel of truth. Speaking of kernel, do you have anything for me to eat and replenish my forces?” Master Fox asked, seeming peckish, searching around.

“Well I lost my blueberry bush in the Event, so no we have nothing on hand. But I was planning to keep you in the ritual circle for some time.” I answered.

“So be it. Beldro, I suppose you know how to do a cleansing ritual?” Master Fox asked. I nodded. “Well keep me here and start the preparation.” On that, he slumped to sleep.


Music accompaniment

To play during reading: Scattered and Lost – Celeste Piano Collections (Original Celeste, Lena Raine)


For the next hours, Francis and I prepared a traditional cleansing ritual. White sage and incense permeated the atmosphere, and then we used the opportunity to start some deep cleaning of the ritual sanctum, dusting off, starting to organize what documents or things we saw. It was a cathartic experience to be doing a simple domestic task together. We put on some music and moved along the different tasks.

Eventually, nature called from the growls of our stomach. We were filthy from dust and grime. We took separate showers. I finished first and when I opened the refrigerator, I found it quite empty. Still hearing running water, I shouted to Francis I would go do a short grocery hop.

I dressed in winter clothing, took our grocery bags and started walking to the small neighbourhood grocery on St-Jean Street. That street is a clash between essential service for a functioning neighbourhood and tourist-oriented commerce and prices. Walking along, going beyond the old walls of the city, a glint caught my attention at my vision’s periphery. I looked for it and there in my magic sight, I saw it, a slumbering Hallow in an old grocery. In fact the oldest grocer still in function in Quebec City, and even North-America, J.A. Moisan Grocer. It was currently going through a deep revitalization after a fire. It seemed to be opening soon. I would come back to see the Hallow. I made my small grocery and made a detour to the Athenaeum on my way back, going to the registrar to see the claim on the Hallow. I was surprised to find it wasn’t claimed, so I petitioned for it.

There was a spring to my step when I crossed the Haven threshold. Francis was in his underwear at the kitchen island, deeply concentrated on his laptop, typing away with a pen between his lips. With the soft lighting filtering through the sheer curtain, a halo of evening light framing him. The moment was suspended in time in my mind. Then Francis moved and the spell was broken. I deposited the grocery bags on the island.

“I have good news and bad news, which do you want first?” I said with a grin.

“Let’s hear the bad one first?” He responded, unsure where I was going.

“Well, they didn’t have your yogurt flavour in stock at the grocery. Sorry.”He gave me a relieved and unimpressed look at the same time. “But I think I found a hallow for us.” I continued, full smiling. It took a few seconds for him to understand what I just said. His face light-up when understanding struck him. He jumped to his feet and strong bear-hugged me, lifting me from the ground. He definitely was stronger than he looked or that he was. We cheered the news and started planning on how to maintain it while cooking our supper. We eventually settled on waiting until I contacted the owner to propose an artist residence or something to them so we could have easy access and in time cultivate it.

“Well, they didn’t have your yogurt flavour in stock at the grocery. Sorry.”He gave me a relieved and unimpressed look at the same time. “But I think I found a hallow for us.” I continued, full smiling. It took a few seconds for him to understand what I just said. His face light-up when understanding struck him. He jumped to his feet and strong bear-hugged me, lifting me from the ground. He definitely was stronger than he looked or that he was. We cheered the news and started planning on how to maintain it while cooking our supper. We eventually settled on waiting until I contacted the owner to propose an artist residence or something to them so we could have easy access and in time cultivate it.

We also discussed what to do with the Haven, it was way too big for us, but we wanted to keep it all. There were too many rooms, odd shapes and odd layout, too much old furniture. Francis and I decided to go through it all and decided what to keep, what to change and what to give to the Athenaeum. It would take some time, but with the coming Holidays, we would have it. We started by drafting the current layout everywhere. Neither of us had any experience in it but we found free courses and used computer programs to help us. Eventually, we had something, documented with pictures from different angles. Francis was quite detail-oriented and neat in organizing that project. Then we made a list of all the furniture, again with pictures, and a ranking on what to do with it. With all that in hand, we could start dreaming about what we wanted. We again made a wish list and required list. The first room I required was my studio for my painting, having plenty of light was the main requirement. We concluded we would need professionals, that it would be very costly and would take some time.

At the same time we dreamed of our space, I took contact with the owner of J.A. Moisan, a wealthy middle-aged couple, in particular, Donna. They were the new owner of the grocer and were pouring money to preserve and give a new life to the old building. She loved the idea of hanging my art in the grocery, in the inn above it and in their personal apartment next door. I would need to keep to the elegant and old-school esthetics, but my background in art restoration appealed to her. The seed of access was sowed, hopefully, we could cultivate the hallow. I was able to do a short and covert spell to awaken the hallow but using it would take time. I was also invited to the grand re-opening, on December 20th. There would be the high rollers of the city, considering the significance of the institution. Maybe I would be able to meet other patrons. Francis would be my “+1”. We would use the event to take some of the Mana by bringing Master Fox to the party as an example.


Music accompaniment

To play during reading: Anxiety – Celeste Original Soundtrack (Original Celeste, Lena Raine)


Our life settled until that event and my apartment event was hidden from my thoughts. But one day in early December, it came haunting back with a vengeance. I received a letter from my landowner, with who I had a functional and cordial relationship, essentially demanding payment of the rent, even if I couldn’t live there anymore, reimbursement of fees for the repairs and also for the loss of value to the property in the future due to the event. It was a callus, cheap cash-grab essentially to shift the blame and the cost to me. It came from nowhere but it shook me hard, making me stumble back to the fear, the trauma, the vulnerability of the event. I slumped on the floor, having difficulty breathing, crawling to a corner to hide. My mind was overtaken by dark, traumatic, self-damaging thoughts. The only conscious thing I could do was to keep my focus away from my mind’s eye, avoiding involuntarily invoking a spell. I don’t know what could happen if those chaotic streams of my mind overtook me.

Francis was a warrior, taking control of the situation. He consoled me and put me to sleep. Then he forwarded the letter to my legal representation and the authorities and made an urgent call to Mme Côté-Légaré, my therapist, for an emergency session. She came to the Haven. I have been seeing her every week and there was good progress. She helped me recenter and put the letter in perspective to reality. It helped and confirmed I was still fragile. I went back to sleep after the session, being totally drained from the ordeal. My dream wasn’t restful, but waking the next morning with Francis on my back, reassured me immensely. At least now, I wasn’t alone, there was hope.

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