Written by Deby Fredericks / Artwork by Marge Simon
Good Old Vernon
Well, look who it is. Charlotte and Angus, my two old schoolmates. Good to see me, you say? You must remember our school days very differently
than I do.

Because you laughed, Char. Did you think I would forget? How you both laughed at my "puny" gift?

Angus with the storm powers, and Char with the flames. You said the earth, my lovely earth, was useless. And so was good old Vernon. All right to
look at, but in battle? A joke.

How you both loved that joke. Then you pushed me out of your precious Mage Militia.

Really, Angus? I guess it was just an
accident I never got the notices about Militia meetings. That nobody would answer when I asked for the
schedule. It's like we never got out of school at all!

And now here you both are, with your sad stories. Char started a fire to get rid of some brigands, but then couldn't stop it. Your valley was scorched
and the blaze moved over to Angus's side. Then Angus had to stop the fire and caused such a storm the soil washed away. Now winter is coming
and your people are hungry—and angry.

While my quiet land is lush and peaceful. We have stores full of apples and grain, and cattle that feed on our green grass. The people are well and
happy because my "puny" gift sustains them.

Gloating? Dear Char, why would you ever think that? We all started equal. The Mage Militia entrusted a valley to each of us, but only one of those
valleys has prospered.

Now you want what I have. Isn't that right, Angus? For good old Vernon to rescue you. Well, just because my people have avoided famine doesn't
mean I can shelter all of yours. We aren't as well set as
that. Why don't you own up to the Mage Militia?

Yes, Char. You certainly could attack me. I'm sure I don't stand a chance. But what would you do, after, when you've taken it all and there's no
Vernon to save you anymore? Destroying another valley will hardly impress the Militia.

...Oh. You came to apologize?

Uh-huh, sure you did. Because good old Vernon is such a sap that he'd take your word for...

I see. Well. Thank you, Angus. That does make a difference.

How about this—I can shelter the children over winter. Our families will take them in. They'll be warm and safe and have schooling.

You're right, Angus. Making friends between our valleys would be a positive trend.

No, not the women. Char, I'm sorry. There simply isn't... Well, all right. I'll try to find room for women who have new babies.

Then, I'll visit your valleys to see what can be done. The earth doesn't need me to heal it, you understand. It'll do that on its own. I can speed things
up, though. Maybe then your citizens will forgive you.

Yes, yes. A low blow. Do you blame me?

I know, Char. That's true. You owe me.

You're welcome.
THE LORELEI SIGNAL
Deby Fredericks has been a writer all her life, but thought of it as just a fun hobby until the
late 1990s. She made her first sale, a children's poem, in 2000.  

Fredericks has six fantasy novels out through two small presses. More recently, she
self-publishes her fantasy novellas and novelettes, bringing her to 13 books in all. Her
current series is Minstrels of Skaythe, beginning with
The Tower in the Mist.