Tales of the blackburn Brothers
Table of Contents
 

Identical Twins, Separate Souls

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Despite being identical twins, the Blackburn brothers are two very unique individuals, each with distinctive preferences and personalities, and you don't even have to meet them to recognize it. Take their dress, for instance. They couldn't be more different: one is warm and welcoming, while the other is the embodiment of being told to keep to yourself. The first is Christmas, whereas the other is Halloween. One wears browns and golds, the other wears black, grey, and silver. One is the gregarious entrepreneur, and the other is a resentful homebody. Mortimer is the outgoing entrepreneur, whereas Benjamin is the brooding landlord. One brother thrives on interactions in the public eye, while the other obsessed over protecting the dark and misunderstood misfits who find him, and he brings them home.

They weren't always this way, but very early on took on this dynamic opposite of one another, and they have changed very little in the intervening years since.

In actuality, the brothers actually aren't all that unlike, but they just responded differently to the experiences they had as children, namely the loss of their mother and the actions she took in protecting and preparing them to experience the world.

Benjamin's issue at one time stemmed from a sense of the absence of his mother and father, and a pervading sense of less-than. He had always felt like the world was out to get him, but this probably hardened when he learned about his innate magical ability and his mother's willingness to keep it from him. This idea grew into a downright resentment when he realized how so much of the trouble and issues he endured in childhood could have been so easily solved had his mother not limited his access to his most relevant gift. The fact she took it upon herself to do that was a wound he struggled to overcome even through adulthood.

Mortimer on the other hand, never quite took to magic quite like his brother. He used it, benefited from it, even mastered it, but he never quite relied upon it like his brother. He actually preferred to find ways around the difficulties he encountered, or invented ways around them in order to manage them and keep his head about him. He'd still use magic, but it was in unusual and subtle ways unlike most wizards. He'd use magic, even big, grand spells at times. But only when he had to. He preferred to not use magic as a way to overlook his more refined capacities; that of his mind and problem solving capacities.

Further, he recognized as a young boy the utility of being able to not relying unnecessarily on a single means of solving problems. This effort would provide him with far more solutions to problems, and allow for even greater control over situations where the needs of others and his abilities to help hung in the balance.

But despite these differences, their mutual upbringing and family traditions, as well as biological connection allowed them to understand and connect on a level that only brothers, and twin brothers at that, can appreciate. They didn't always see eye to eye, in fact they often quarreled as youth, even abused and seemed to neglect each other at times. But overall they tried to always reconcile, especially when one of them was being hurt by another outside themselves.

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This dynamic largely was a phenomenon in their childhood, but some of it carried itself into adulthood until the difficulties and realities of life would begin to break down the barriers and internal causes of the strife. Eventually as one and then the other would heal the wounds they suffered from, they would come together as brothers and have each other's backs in a way that would bond them for the remainder of their lives.

 

The Dreams of Mortimer blackburn

Over the years, there were many dreams that came to Mortimer Blackburn. It was not uncommon for him to see things before they happened. But this dream wasn't that. Rather, it felt like dreams of something from his past; experiences from a life he'd long forgotten. In his dreams, things were so familiar, but when he awoke, he had no way to relate to any of it from his conscious mind.

In these dreams, he and his brother were in a strange land, helping peoples in strange and wonderful ways. They were wearing long, elaborate cloaks of blue. Or were they black? The strangest recurring aspect was that they were old men. Like, really old, old enough to be many, many more generations than any of the folks they walked among. But they were just dreams.

These dreams were not frequent, but every time they would happen, Mortimer would record it in his spell book. He had learned to not ignore his dreams, and took serious the messages he would divine from them as he pondered on them oft times.

This was the same tome he had been carrying around since his school days, when he first had realized he wouldn't have to remember spells if he just wrote them down. And then he found that by carrying them around, he remembered what he used! Problem solved.

 

The Lost Train of Milwaukee: Line 431

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As it goes, sometimes accidents are made, and solutions to the resulting problems come out of the otherwise unfortunate circumstances. So it might not come as a surprise that in the midst of establishing means of bringing the many diverse and sometimes large creatures into the land of the north, the Blackburn Brothers made some mistakes. 

 

It was while attempting to reliably bring some very large magical creatures into the land of the north that one of the many trains that traversed that section of the wild at that time accidentally made its way into a land it had never before seen. Before anyone knew it, the engineer and all the folks aboard that unfortunate victorian passenger train were introduced to the crazy and bizarre land of dragons. And rather than wipe the memories of these folks, their kindness and receptivity to the odd and wonderful land they'd become witnesses of made them prime candidates to become some of the first non magical residents of the magic world. This wasn't the first, nor the last, but this group was one of the ones responsible for train transport becoming much more common in wizarding communities.

Basically, somebody casts a spell on the tunnel and wasn't paying attention to what was coming down the tracks at that very moment, and the train goes through it and is never seen again. The tale of the lost Milwaukee steamer is told til this day. Its whistle is sometimes heard on icy cold mornings and in drowsy summer evenings at dusk.

To this day, it transports the peoples and creatures of the area to and from within their now diverse and burgeoning community. 

The community eventually expands well beyond the northern kingdom, and opens up communities abroad as the work of the djinn comes to an early and self-destructive end.

 

The Spring of the Brothers' Long Life

Wizards live for a considerably longer lifetime than humans. But to last without showing signs of aging is a trick even wizards need an extra measure of magic for.

While one could reasonably turn to the dark arts to achieve such a notable end, sucking the life out of children, or zapping them into the past and letting them live to death, the Brothers never would have turned to the dark in order to achieve such an end. In fact, they wouldn't and didn't even seek it. It was an unlikely and perfect storm that had everything to do with a the ideal assemblage of circumstances.

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As a merchant, and merchandizer, Mortimer Blackburn travelled the world. He was always on the lookout for new products to sell. Not only did he find it fascinating and entertaining to sell new and novel items, but he had many many franchises to keep stocked! There was never enough product, even when the difficulty of travel and freight was minimized by the magical. In fact the freight was the easiest part. The main problem was connecting to competent and talented creators who were interested in stocking his shelves. And Mortimer went high and low throughout lands distant and far to find what he was looking for. Sometimes he would find suppliers in the most unlikely of places. And sometimes he'd find them close to home. Mainly he had to keep an open mind, and not mind taking the time to be curious; to wander and play, and take the long way round.  And it was this curiosity and willingness to take the long way that ended up providing him and his brother Benjamin all the time in the world.

It was on one of these long ways round that found them in the jungles of South America. They had been searching many times for the lost city of Gold.  They'd gotten a clue from a contact of Thaddeus Grimshaw, and had gone on a wild goose chase. In the midst of this, they'd been coming across the most beautiful birds when they got attacked by a gigantic predatory bird. It had had swooped down on top of Mortimer multiple times. This distraction had given Benjamin the chance to pull out his wand and make quick work of the demon bird, though it took more than a death spell to put it out of its misery.

Once the bird was dead, they weren't too keen on letting such beautiful plumage go to waste; they weren't really hunters to begin with, and hadn't have killed the bird had it not attacked them so swiftly and so relentlessly.  In fact, they were pretty awful at dressing an animal, and had resorted to also using their wands to deal with the carcass. They finally just left the body hanging in the jungle with the expectation of sending the tribe after it so that it wouldn't go to waste, and hoping such a dark creature might be poisonous. But figured the feathers might fetch a pretty penny for the right buyer. It wasn't hard to find; a local native had been watching them in the undergrowth in their struggle against the dead bird. They had literally run into him because he was frozen on the spot. Once he finally overcame his terror, he spoke in excited and desperate tones, and motioned for them to follow him.

Once the got to his village, he left them outside a hut. When he emerged, he was followed by who looked to be an elder of some sort. This man, who was their medicine man had looked at them like he'd seen a ghost. They motioned to the feathers in hopes he might be interested. He wouldn't buy a single feather, but kept bowing to them and muttering, afraid to look up at them. But he insisted they follow him.

He led them through the village and to the center of their temple complex.

They hailed them like leaders, and all bowed before them. They performed a ritual and then let them know they'd be taking them on a trip in the morning. They then gave them stately accommodations. 

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Within their hut was let loose a number of colorful birds of various sizes. They were so tame that they'd step on to their hands. One of the birds had taken a liking to Mortimer, and it wouldn't leave his shoulder, so he took it with them on their hike up the plateau.

The next day they took a long winding road up to a plateau where a bubbling spring emerged. A small pool had formed alongside it, but as it flowed towards the edge, it seeped into the cracks of the ground.

Benjamin made a point to always take one of his trained rats with him wherever he went, and this time he'd brought one who was on his last leg as a final adventure before he keeled over. Rats didn't have much of a lifespan, but Benjamin tried to spoil his rats. He gave him a drink so perhaps a traveling companion might be beneficial to Mortimer.

At the entrance to the flat, their guide would go no further. At the top was a beautiful green oasis, and in the center was the most beautiful flowing spring. They refreshed themselves, drinking deeply from the stream. They also gave some to their animals and each filled their canteens.

 

It was only later that they fully understood the significance of that experience when the rat didn't die. Benjamin had added some of the spring water to a bottle of ingredients he'd been collecting along the way, so once he realized what it was, he and Mortimer kept is safe, holding if for someone who would want to have around.

 

Metallurgy: Building the Ring of Power

Benjamin attempts to use the family heirloom, thinking it is the fabled ring of Solomon, and gets possessed of a djinn that takes months to remove.

Over a period of many years, the dwarves of the Alps teach Mortimer in the craft of ring making. This leads to his connections, searching, discovery, and comprehension of many of the principles of alchemy.

Eventually, Mortimer and Benjamin attempt to make a true ring of power by incorporating others into their circle, but they make mistakes, not foreseeing the problems that each person brings, and would poison the flow of energy if left uncorrected.

 

Eventually they realized and accept that they'll have to teach students from the beginning to eventually to join the circle; it takes longer, but its better and more lasting, and lays a stronger foundation going forward than what seems a get-rich quick approach. This suggests the saying, "Easy come, easy go."

The students and teacher slowly learn to lean on each other, love and collaborate with each other, creating the real ring of power. This is the beginning and foundation of the Building of New Avalon.

So many people possessed by one djinn or another, always hanging up on fear, or self hate. Sometimes he wonders if anyone will come and stay. But for the record, there's a select few.

Hallowe'en

 

Most people do not realize that Halloween is a distinctly Irish holiday. It began long before the era of candy and pumpkins. In fact it was originally called by its earlier name in the language of the celts, Samhain. 

 

The Blackburn brothers had grown up celebrating Samhain in a way not altogether different that the way we do in modern America. It was still a time of going from house to house in a painted face and bandying about faux threats of mischief making. Though their jack-o-lanterns were made of turnips, it was still a time when the boundary between this and the spirit world could more easily be crossed. 

So when their traditions were added upon by the new culture of America, the brothers welcomed the familiar feeling these new ideas contributed, and they integrated them with zest and enthusiasm

Christmas at Blackburn Manor

 

Christmas really took on a recognizable identity with the work of Kris Kringle. They had already regularly been celebrating Yule, but it was the English Aristocracy that introduced the tradition of trees in the house, which they picked up. Electric lights came later.

One of the great influences that affected Mortimer's personal development towards the celebration of Christmas came in the form of a serialized novella authored by one Charles Dickens. In fact, it impressed him so much that on his next trip to the British Isles, Mortimer had made it a point to seek him out. He had introduced himself and told the author how impressed he was by his work, and how soulful and impacting the ideas at the heart of the story were to him. Mr. Dickens was so flattered that they kept up their acquaintance via post, and whenever he found himself in town, Mortimer would come to call, and they would talk of all the ongoings in the world.

It was also through his acquaintance with Mr. Dickens that Mr. Blackburn came to be introduced to another author, Mr. Edgar Poe, an American. These two writers had been good friends, and had influenced each other in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways. It was only after being told by Mortimer of some of his ghastlier works that Benjamin had wanted to meet Mr. Poe. But sadly it came at the most inopportune time, as Mr. Poe had just recently passed away when Benjamin had scheduled to be introduced to him. It was then that Benjamin had resolved to take more time to do the things that mattered most to him, and to not put them off.

The first time the Blackburns had a Christmas tree at the Blackburn Manor didn't look anything like what you'd expect these days. In fact, everything was basically turned upside-down from what most people are accustomed to. In fact, the tree was literally just that: upside-down. It was actually hung from the ceiling inverted, and decorations were hung on it in that orientation. Nowadays the Blackburn Manor has their Christmas or Yule trees right side up, but in the early days of the celebration of this holiday, the trees were hung from above.

Mortimer had first come across the tradition of the trees being brought in at winter solstice while traveling in Germany. He had not thought it all that odd, in fact being a fan of all things green, he loved the idea of bringing a piece of nature into the sometimes stark organized structure that is a household.

But truth be told, the celebration of Christmas in the Blackburn Manor wasn't all that different from the festivities they held at Hallowe'en, this largely being representative of the fact that Victorians generally saw this time as another during the year when the spirit world had greater access to the world we inhabit. Just like at Samhain, they would often build big fires and tell ghost stories to entertain their guests, and host delicious feasts in the boarding house.

The Capture of Benjamin Blackburn

 

If you explore the magical legal records of the early nineteenth century, you would come upon an accusation of a certain wizard for some unfortunate and ghastly deaths. It was for this reason that Benjamin Blackburn, after having invested so much in his life as an academic, had to relinquish his vision for his life, and flee to America.

Conveniently, his brother had established a name for himself, and had adequate resources with which to help hide him, assisting with avoiding the authorities, and due to the wild nature of America at the time, they rarely had the wherewithal and means to find where he had gone.

It did create some complications for his twin abroad. In his travels, sometimes Mortimer would get mistaken for his brother, and only after considerable efforts to placate their presumptions did he realize it might just be better to avoid the conversation altogether. It wasn't terribly problematic however, as many of his friends tended to be non magical, and only on occasion would he have reason to need to be prepared to give an explanation to the appropriate authorities.

When they weren't avoiding capture, sometimes they would switch places just to mess with people; and Mortimer would show his darker side, while Benjamin would feign a smile.

One of the ways they would actually prevented Ben's capture was through his staffing of the mercantile. Not only did it relieve Mortimer of the pressure of always being at the store, but it gave Benjamin something to do without fear of being seen in public. The authorities for a time were very much on top of looking for him, and this allowed him to always have a satisfactory cover story, though pretending an optimistic mood seemed to be the challenge of a lifetime.

 

For the longest time, many of their friends didn't even know Mortimer had a brother, and they played that up carefully, and to their infinite benefit.

The search for Benjamin by the wizarding authorities came to a head around the turn of the century when the bounty hunter, Oso Hormiguero, came looking for him. Though not a cruel man, he was subtle and crafty, and took great pain and preparation to lay the groundwork to catch Benjamin. But all the plans of mice and men are nothing compared to a wiley wizard, especially when that sorcerer has a twin brother.

So it was only a matter of patience and watchfulness that allowed the brothers to not only preemptively prevent his capture, but to capitalize on the presence of the bounty hunter. They even got a few months of free work out of him for the trouble of keeping him around. A strong confundus spell took care of any worry of him doing any damage, and Mortimer then had reliable help in the tent. This even allowed Benjamin the freedom to travel a bit, as long as he was willing to don the identity of his brother. It did lead to some funny stories of Mortimer being seen in multiple places at once, but it didn't make enough of a stir to awaken the suspicions of those who would have cared to know.

Language: The Master Spell

 

One of the unusual byproducts to come of the revelations had by the brothers regarding alchemy and all its implications was the realization that magic had no single manifestation via a solitary linguistic root. In other words, latin and english were hardly the beginning nor the end of all the magical potential had within the world of words. In fact, as established in the realm of African magic, words weren't even necessary when conjuring a spell, though they had an impressive influence when done correctly. 

But they weren't the only, nor the most effective means at the disposal of wizards or sidhe. As long as the methods were prepared and practiced, any concerted form of communication could be channelled as a medium of magic. And so it was that music became a rather subtle and secret means of magic for the Blackburn Brothers.

In fact, an entire language might be jinxed to carry magic, though individual spells within that language would also have to be distinguished and discovered one at a time.

Irish Whiskey

 
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Over the years, Mortimer becomes the supplier of the best irish whiskey on this side of the Atlantic. He shows up in all sorts of places and establishments, always being careful to make friends. One of the more famous places he supplied was the bar in Tombstone, Arizona.

The first business he'd ever begun was a pub, so alcohol was second nature to him. But he wasn't really into it at the time, so it sat on the backburner until an opportune moment came where it was a skill of convenient value.

Since then, he has continued to slowly grow the pub branches, expanding into many countries and regions where magical kind lacked a place to congregate and water their thirsts.

These channels of information as he saw them become pivotal in time, as they become the means whereby he secretly imported fleeing sidhe under the nose of the magical authorities. He actually would become even more of an outlaw than his brother once they realized what he'd been doing without going through immigration. But they never caught him because he was so many steps ahead. His secret was that he always looked outside the magical world first in order to accomplish his objectives.

One of his pubs is set up in Dodge City, Kansas. There he ran into a curly haired woman that went by the surname of Song who happened to be taking shooting lessons from Doc Holladay.

Mortimer's habit of making and using non magical friends unusually comes in handy as a rum runner. Despite his having wizards constantly looking for him, it is always nice to have someone watching your back. That's a different kind of magic that few wizards ever learn to appreciate.

The Boundaries of the Blackburn Bros.

 

The Bard

A wizard with a red coat comes into the lives of Mortimer and Benjamin while they live in Nauvoo, Illinois. He has great gifts, but suffers from a grievous wound, and uses them in ways that invite discord. He tries to convince Benjamin that he is haunted by a dark force, and does so by citing his superior knowledge, but his brother Mortimer won't have it. Mortimer discerns and points out that this wizard is possessed by subtle twin djinns.

The red coated wizard has a wife who also has a gift for reading tarot cards and against the will of Benjamin, offers to her husband her take on his future. Future telling is strictly limited at the School of Alchemical Arts to seeing ones own future, not reading that of another, which is ultimately how the brothers decided to remove them from their circle.

The first clue is how he channels fear and Benjamin is triggered and channels back at him a dark spirit. Mortimer notices, tries to push back, and it explodes. They have to process it, having been traumatized, but it teaches them to be accountable for their own participation and taking responsibility to fix their mistakes. They make adjustments to their process in how they admit people into their company.

Shasta Circusian

A beautiful bruja blanca named Shasta is infected by cursed spider venom; it leaves a djinn connected to her that convinces her to protect herself by weaving webs to catch others in behavior that she judges is injurious or questionable. Having her not dealt with some of her own wounds, this leads to unconscious projections, and she injects unintented but just as effective poison and fear in places it didn't belong.

 

Not taking accountability for what she initiates; her confirmation bias leads her to impose herself on others with her gifts; this is also how the brothers root her out and see her to the door.

The Gifts of Cadwin O'Connor

An incredibly gifted and sensitive shape shifting wizard shows up and stays around the Blackburn Academy for a good period of time. He teaches the brothers with his unique perspective and support. They in turn help him with their alchemical knowledge. In the process, he demonstrates his water bending skills, using them to channel bad energy away from himself, but in the midst of it, he keeps splashing Benjamin in the face, which he understandably gets quite irritated by. But they work together. He fights with Benjamin in a few confrontations. Benjamin learns useful insights from him for a future relationship on the horizon. 

 

His personal issues haunt him though, which awaken often as resentment which he cannot process, lacking the skills, which eventually leads to him leaving, and them not associating with the brothers any longer.

 

They reach out to him occasionally, but he doesn't respond.

 

The Choices of Benjamin Blackburn

Benjamin finds a girl, gets married, but because they have unresolved issues, she almost immediately leaves. 

She is never heard from again until one day, before they know it, a child is left on the porch of the boarding house abandoned. A note indicates coldly and unceremoniously that this is the daughter of Benjamin, but gives no acknowledgement of the mother or the state of the relationship Assuming the worst, but not being able to confirm this, the brothers take responsibility to raise her anyway.

It is a little girl, and they name her Mercury.

 

The Ghost of Mortimer Blackburn

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A witch by the historical and well known family name of Mym shows up one day at the gate of the Blackburn Manor.

Family traditions being well documented in a family as illustrious as hers, she knew she was the great great great grand daughter of the notorious witch who cheated in the duel with Merlyn. But not without a bit of shame; not only had she inherited her name, but her ravishing good looks, and knowing the untold harm that her namesake had wreaked on the world, but having known no different, did not hesitate to put these abilities to use. And she was no stranger to the odd spell she had on almost every witch or wizard who interacted with her. They would just bring her things, and want to spend every waking moment with her. She had to be careful to establish strong boundaries with some who would fall madly in love with her without even consulting her in the process!

 

In the beginning of her role in the life of the Blackburn brothers, she had watched them from a distance build their business in the community. It was over a good seven years, and they inspired her in her own apothecary, which she would in time graciously acknowledge. But not wanting to impose, and assuming such ambitious and attractive men would definitely already have been taken by some other lucky ladies, she never took the time to introduce herself. She admired them from afar as, over the years, she noticed them building the metal fence around the graveyard. 

And so it was only by the hand of circumstance through a mutual acquaintance she first met Mortimer Blackburn. She had been selling with a mutual friend of the Blackburns who had serendipidously told her more about them, and being a woman of business, she thought it well to introduce herself. 

 

Initially, she had met Benjamin, the more brooding of the two, and had thought he was quite appealing due to his brooding nature, but as he had been burned by a woman not unlike her previously, he did not engage with her, preferring to pass "public inquiries" to his more outgoing brother.

For all the strengths and wisdom of the more outgoing of the brothers Blackburn, Mortimer had no experience whatsoever in the realm of relationships and love, and he had no restraint. Though it took his some time to seek her attention, he fell head over heels in love with her, spending every moment he could with her. Even she was surprised at how steady and satisfying the time they spent together was, despite her countless stream of suitors coming to call on her day and night. He was, in fact, a spectacular partner, and she recognized his quality and tender kindness, which she was very unaccustomed to.

Their relationship was beautiful, though if she admitted it to herself, she could never quite invest herself totally. A shadow followed her, though she denied it. Mortimer was mostly oblivious to this, content to wait on her when her demons would get the best of her, as she would go dark and disappear for days at a time.

He was pretty insecure when this would happen, and would consult with his more doubt-ridden brother, but he could never give up on her. He had never been happier, despite these stilted periods. His brother warned him steadily, but did not otherwise interfere. Not that they wouldn't rack Mortimer with doubts for a time, but the happy-go-lucky wizard on 3rd south was an idealist's idealist, and he was unapologetic. He would hold on and overcome his insecurities, as he saw it, never give up on her.

The first time darkness came though was quite peculiar.

By the second week of dating Mym, a ghost began haunting her cottage.

Mym initially got insight from her fellow witches that the ghost was feminine, and that it was jealous of her. Mortimer heard this, and wondered inside himself if it might have something to do with him, but he didn't say anything.

In the meantime, Mym's father was ushered in, who was a local grand wizard, known for driving supernatural presences out of dark places. He attempted to, but the ghost persisted.

Mym, who had had many interested suitors, conveniently entertains one who is a ghost hunter and shaman, but invited Mortimer to help her get the suitor to leave her alone. He was flattered and did his best, sitting with her without letting on too much.  This didn't work at all, but alas, he tried. During the session when the shaman was calling on the ghost, some strange things happened that cause Mortimer to come to the conclusion that the ghost is definitely connected to him.

That night Mortimer could not sleep, being driven mad with the recognition of the fears he was retaining and letting the ghost in, but he hesitated to reveal what he knew to Mym. His worse fear was that in revealing a particular weakness, Mym would reject him. He finally did what all heroes in ever story do, and he faced his fears, acknowledged what he must do, and set about to tell her all about it the next morning. 

As he faces his fears of Mym's rejection, the ghost departed and never troubles her again; his fears were totally unfounded as her kindness and best attempts at empathy allow her to never even consider not completely let go of any doubts of his ability to care for her, or his ability to be man enough for her.

But that was not the only dark shade in her life.

Another source of darkness haunted her. A month or so later, weird things began happening in her cottage again. But Mortimer was certain it had nothing to do with him.

This time, the ghost was masculine. She told Mortimer all about her past and how this phantom had haunted her for years, scaring her and awakening even more fear than that which she acknowledged had been with her for a very long tim, but didn't always let her know he was around.

But before they had the chance to truly address them, another influence returns into her life, awakening fear in its wake.

This last time the darkness fell on her, it came on gradually. Mortimer was still so smitten, and again tried to be patient. But before he has a chance to pop the question, she disappears unceremoniously during a full moon feast thrown at the Blackburn Manor.

 

An old abusive lover of Mym came to the feast, and the distance he'd been sensing exploded into full estrangement as she shows false affection to this stranger inside and outside the home of the brothers, and across the table from Mortimer. He was in shock, but talks himself through it. They had spoken beforehand, but distance had been growing, and she'd been acting with pretense and subtle denial towards him. He'd expressed some issues, and when he did, a look of disgust had crossed her face.

Yet he had trusted her as she leaves with this stranger. She messages him the next morning as if all is okay, under a false pretext. She requested he bring her stuff back, but when he delivers her goods to her home, the coach of the stranger is at her cottage. He had obviously slept there, no doubt with her.

Mortimer was overcome with grief and confusion and shock as he departed the scene, knowing she had returned to her abuser.

Days pass, and he doesn't hear a single thing from her.

In time, his hurts and his demons convince him that she has betrayed him. Mortimer is injured and heart broken. Days later, in his idealism, he attempts to discover what is going on, but gets nothing but revulsion from her through a cold fearful note demanding he never contact her again. The darkness that had long possessed his brother moves into his heart, and he tries to fight it back, but often it wins.  But with the tools and insights he has gained through the Great Alchemist raises his spirits and burns back the evil as he seeks his help.

And even so, through the next few months he goes through all the long mourning processes, denial, trust, anxiety, hope, and then anger and vindication, then giving it up, doubting whether she ever cared about him at all. He is lost and heartsick, confused and forelorn that he could be such an unreliable judge of character and commitment. But then he also feels resilient and unbelieving as to his immediate senses. In his better self, and he hesitated to hate her. He counseled with his brother, and sought insight from the Great Alchemist, who confirmed the things he was sensing. He would then bounce back and forth between these extremes, never able to decidedly hold to one or the other. It was awful.

Until one day, something changes. Mortimer has many dreams about Mym, and he gets the strangest sense that she will be returning to him.

We learn later that Mym had been influenced by a djinn who called her back who was connected to the stranger, and she is under seige.

The only way she can free herself of the djinn's influence is by overcoming fear just like Mortimer did and repairing the holes in her heart where the djinn enters and takes control of her. She desires to be free of it, but doesn't realize she has the power and know how.

Initially Mortimer helps him see past his own deep hurt. He does this by forgiving and recognizing his own fears, and how they had convinced him of things that were not true.

Eventually though, the darkness takes hold as he fears the worst. Her behavior leaves him in despair and without hope for months. Time passes so painfully that he can hardly breath.

But eventually time begins to help. And ultimately it is Mortimer's patience and trust in the Great Alchemist that allows him to overcome his own demons who tell him falsely that she is motivated by selfishness and evil. He realizes that the ghost who had initially haunted his girl friend had returned to possess his mind, acting out through his conception of Mym. 

He must ultimately be able to ignore his own ghost long enough so that he can be there for her when she eventually returns, having been freed from the malice that followed her by confronting her own fears.

Its one year later that she comes back. They get married in time, and its marvelous and tender and beautiful, and she is freed of the djinns who beset her, having suffered and broken free of them. When they marry, he lives with her in her house, as the boarding house is occupied where his brother and their many tenants continue to live.

They build their businesses together, having unique gifts to compliment and help each other in ways neither could on their own. The magical mercantile has never seen such days as this, thanks to the insight, fortitude, and resilience of his beautiful partner, and the apothecary run by his wife takes on a new spirit or feel as Mortimer seeks with her blessing to contribute to her already burgeoning business in his own unique way.

In time, they move to the boarding house, but only after the house is expanded to accommodate many more individuals.

 

Help From Friends

Madam Magdalena and Sorcerer Wolf

In the midst of these troubles, a bubbly but subdued witch shows up and befriends a sullen and depressed Benjamin Blackburn. She senses his sadness after the rejection by his lover, and she goes about trying to inspire and encourage him. She has a sort of sisterly glow about her, and a remarkable, encouraging kindness and empathy that lightens his burden. They talk and become friends, and it brings him for a while out of his fog.

During the earliest period of development of the Magical Mercantile, an experienced quirky wizard with two magical children shows up to shop at the mercantile and hit it off with Mortimer. They talk business and he offers all sorts of collaborative help to encourage and help Mortimer grow his business. They become friends, and it lifts Mortimer's spirits to have a new friend to encourage him; doing it alone for a while has taken its toll, and he needs people to provide him perspective, and he doesn't mind the validation for his initial idea.

 

Building Castles in the Sky

To say the brothers built castles in the sky is actually a misnomer. But there was once when they were partially responsible for stealing one. Well, technically it was theirs. And they had a lot of help--full disclosure. It wouldn't have been possible without a whole lot of help, and from many different places. Its a good thing too because in fact, if they had been caught, they all would have seen the inside of the Tower of London, and even magic couldn't have saved them from that at the time; the Queen Victoria had been made keenly aware of magical culture by then, and had humbly enlisted the help and assistance of the very best amongst wizard kind; she had already been known to be very protective of her noble stewardship from wizard and non-wizards alike.

But as these things go, they weren't caught, as the brothers did their job well and thoroughly, as only the tales (and the castle) have lived beyond that time to tell the riveting tale.

the Letters and Correspondence of Sorceress Stokes

 

In the midst of these troubles, a bubbly but subdued witch shows up and befriends a sullen and depressed Benjamin Blackburn. She senses his sadness after the rejection by his lover, and she goes about trying to inspire and encourage him. She has a sort of sisterly glow about her, and a remarkable, encouraging kindness and empathy that lightens his burden. They talk and become friends, and it brings him for a while out of his fog.

During the earliest period of development of the Magical Mercantile, an experienced quirky wizard with two magical children shows up to shop at the mercantile and hit it off with Mortimer. They talk business and he offers all sorts of collaborative help to encourage and help Mortimer grow his business. They become friends, and it lifts Mortimer's spirits to have a new friend to encourage him; doing it alone for a while has taken its toll, and he needs people to provide him perspective, and he doesn't mind the validation for his initial idea.

 

Sorceresses Sweetz and Bittyrs

A kindly witch comes upon the brothers in their early days and gives them some wisened encouragement. She's not in their lives a long time, but has an affecting influence in her words. She is strong, but subtle, intense but kind, sweet, yet somber, has thick glasses, but long sight. She helps them accept the roles they have chosen for themselves, and influences them in the resolution to affect that change they seek to become. She sees inside them and recognizes their souls for what they are, and gives them the kind of acknowledgement that fosters encouragement and hope in a youth. It has a magical effect on them.

Another witch they meet along the way is a pioneer of a new application of magic that involves stringing together memories that can the be used as a sort of story telling process, and then sold to fellow wizards and witches. It doesn't catch on, but the brilliance of this application of magic is inspires Mortimer in unbelievable ways.

 

Friends and Acquaintances of the Blackburns

The brothers make a friend in the shape of a witch who is ambitious, but never fully reaches her potential due to the world being against her in so many ways. She is outgoing and hopelessly optimistic, but

There's the wandmaking witch, Miss Melwit, who indirectly was responsible for introducing Mortimer to Madam Mym. She also cooresponds with Mortimer specifically, as she lives close by, and comes and goes in the story to encourage, collaborate, and affect change and help in Mortimer's plans, specifically with the school as it comes into being. She also has a knack for unique recipes and ideas like butter beer mix.

One of Benjamin's instructors is a stern and intense music instructor, Mr. Musica. He had a counterpart, Madam Mahoney, who was much more tender and kind, but she encouraged the students to learn from Mr. Musica all they could.

A Wizard's Personal Effects

 

The hat and pipe of Mortimer ends up being left behind accidentally and being used by a group of kids to decorate a snowman. And as you'd expect, it unintentionally brings him to life.

 

The Coming of the One-Eyed Wanderer

Early on in the beginning of Mortimer's time in America, he had a special visitor with an eye patch come to his door. Not his door, as he was renting from the elderly lady, but he answered the door, and the visitor seemed intent on speaking with him.