The Bear who wanted to be a Wizard – Heroes, Legends, Fairies, and other Absurdities

In a realm of magic, in a time of heroes; lived a young black bear. She loved all things that bears love, berries, chasing small animals, sleeping, and of course magic. She would sneak into the village and watch the travelling magicians and wizards.

From the bushes she’d watch them as they made people disappear and then reappear, changed eggs into birds, and pulled rabbits out of hats. There were different kinds of performers, those that used genuine magic and those that used illusion and sleight of hand. The best ones combined both.

One day while she was hiding in the bushes she hear a young boy ask how the wizard had learned magic.

“Well my boy! I learnt magic from the greatest magic school in the world. The illustrious Pigmole.”

The little bear had been trying to teach herself magic and she could do some decent sleight of hand but couldn’t do any real magic, no matter how much she practiced. She was convinced it was because she needed to be taught.

Saying goodbye to her parents, she set out on a long walk to go to Pigmole School of Magic and Mystery. Along the way she met a large black crow.

“Where are you going little bear?” asked the crow.

“I’m going to become a powerful wizard,” replied the bear.

The crow laughed rudely and when it could breathe again, it said, “You’re a bear. They’ll never let you learn magic.”

“If they can teach pigs and moles, they can teach bears.” With a furrowed brow and a determined grimace, which looked pretty funny on a bear, she continued on her way.

At the gates she came up to a large stone statue. When she was within a few feet, the statue creaked and turned to face her saying, “Shoo bear. Go away.”

“I want to learn magic.”

“We don’t teach bears.” The statue refused to speak after and only blocked her way. The big crow laughed from a distance.

Instead of going home, she decided that she’d find another way to study at the school.

She suck onto the grounds and hid in the bushes, being careful not to leave any traces. She’d listen at the windows and learn everything she could. She slept in the old forest and ate what she could find there.

After several months she was starting to get the hang of basic spells. She still couldn’t pull a rabbit from a hat but she wondered if that was because she didn’t know any rabbits.

She became careless with her hiding and one day, the large black crow saw her at a window and started laughing uncontrollably. The noise attracted the groundskeeper who, seeing the bear said, “Ah ha! You’re the one who’s been trampling my garden!”

“No. I swear I’ve only been listening to lessons. Please. I want to keep learning magic.”

“If you’re not the one trampling my garden, than who is?” The large imposing man asked.

“I don’t know, but if you let me, I’ll find out and then maybe I can stay?”

The groundskeeper nodded.

It took less than a day of hiding for the bear to find out who was destroying the garden; it was a family of rabbits. They were tiny, scrawny looking rabbits. “Stop doing that!” she screamed and the rabbits all ran away.

That’s when she got an idea.

Borrowing the groundskeeper’s hat, she locked herself in a shed and started pulling the rabbits out of the hat. It worked and within moments she had a family of rabbits in the shed with her.

“A bear that does magic?” asked the littlest rabbit as its stomach growled.

“Yes and I can teach you how to do magic so you can find other food than the school’s garden.”

The bear taught the rabbits and the groundskeeper kept his word. Over the years, the old forest filled with animals who would come to learn magic from the great bear wizard.

She studied hard and despite the school never letting her in, she became its best teacher.

The moral of this story is simple: Never doubt a determined bear.


Heroes, Legends, Fairies, and other Absurdities are the expanded versions of stories I’ve told my children at night before bed. They’re short, silly, and were completely improvised in the telling.

New World Magischola

I have talked about this LARP event before. It’s back!

Three nights, four days in full magic school – sounds amazing to me!

This event (and yes, only one this year) will be taking place in Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts on June 20-23, 2019.

Mount Holyoke College. Image from www.mtholyoke.edu

This college is wheelchair accessible and will have gender-neutral bathrooms (I like that they added that).

There’s lots of information here, FAQs here, and tickets here.

So if you’re interested in spending a weekend this summer living in the wizarding world, let me know and I’ll help you arrange transportation.

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Magischola

If you’re involved in any sort of Harry Potter community, you’ve probably heard about the LARP (Live-Action Role Play) that ran for four days in Czocha Castle, Poland. It was organized by the College of Wizardry, and the first event was so popular, that they opened up several more weekends. They currently (at the time of this article) only have a few spaces left April 21-24.

This idea was so well received in Europe that the Americas wanted to host one of their own.

Enter Magischola. A Kickstarter to get tickets for two weekends in summer 2016, that only launched on November 23, 2015, has already reached $161,640 (at the time of this article)! Last night (November 24), they opened a third weekend in July 2016, and I bet it’s already sold out as well. (Predicting the future! I should study Divination, if I’m correct.)

University of Richmond campus. Image taken from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nwmagischola/new-world-magischola-a-college-of-wizardry-larp/description
University of Richmond campus. Image taken from Magischola Kickstarter

For those of us who are not going, the stretch goals include a 15 minute documentary (already reached) and a 30 minute documentary (reached at 180K). I’m excited to see this. We will have a guest post in late 2016, written by one of the attendees, about their time at the event.

Do you have questions? They have answers! I learned that the University campus is wheelchair accessible, and will accept service animals. Currently, they only offer this event for ages 18+, but if they make enough money through the Kickstarter (300K), they will offer a family-friendly summer camp type event in summer 2017, that will include children ages 11-17.

Magischola will be offering their LARP on the campus of the University of Richmond, in Richmond Virginia on the Eastern coast of the United States. You can only buy tickets through the Kickstarter, and these tickets will cover your accommodation and meals during your intended stay.

But how will you get there?

People who are close can travel by car, or by AMTRAK train, but if you’re further away, flights will probably be best. The organizers will be looking into getting a shuttle from both the airport and the train station, once they know how many people will be travelling from each.

If you’d like help booking your train or flight tickets. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

The Ruby Child – 2016 Serial Story – Option 1

It was the middle of the night and darker than Mac was used too. When the clouds covered the stars in the rural islands there were no magical or electric lamps. It wasn’t the first time he’d wished he could use a magical torch or those fancy darkvision glasses but magic didn’t work on or around him. He just kept following the speck of light ahead.

“You almost at the cabin, Captain?” Anita’s voice echoed in his ear. The electric radio crackled as she spoke.

“I think so. Hard to see with these clouds but I think I see their porch light.”

“Idiots.” Was the only reply from Anita. She was right, too. These poor folks didn’t have money for electric or magical lamps. At best they’d have candles and a hearth.

Hiding behind trees, Mac could see the small shack that passed for a cabin. I looked like it was ready to fall over in the next wind. The only incongruities were the magical light on the porch and the clean shaven, military haircut wearing, man sitting in a rocking chair. He was desperately trying to look like he was asleep.

Mac felt the first drops of rain and swore softly. He took out his handgun and aimed at the man’s chest. Poor sod was probably fresh from the academy. Mac thought of those days and shuddered at memories.

Taking a deep breath, he fired the gun and it went off with a hiss and nowhere near the kickback he was used to. The sleep dart didn’t fly straight, but arced down a little and hit the man in the leg instead of the chest. The effect was the same, and the man’s impression of someone sleeping became more believable.

“Guard’s down. Tell Maddie her gun arcs downwards.”

Maddie must have been listening. “I’ll fix it. For now aim higher.” Mac couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or genuine; the girl’s accent always made her sound sarcastic. Anita snickered.

“Radio silence. I’m going in.”

He reloaded the dart gun and approached the porch. No alarms went off and no one shot at him. It was a refreshing change in luck. It hopefully meant the guard was alone or only one of two.

It’s not like many people knew about this place. They’d only discovered it existed from the files he and Anita stole when they defected. The file had said this placed housed something important and anything important to the Empire was something they shouldn’t have.

As he walked by the lamp, it flickered and went out. Magic really didn’t like him. The old wooden door creaked as he opened it slowly.

The entire cabin was one room and it was bathed in crimson light coming from a ruby the size of Mac’s head. The spindly elaborate pedestal the ruby sat on was spelled to kill anyone who touched it without the proper counter spell.

Mac walked slowly towards the ruby ignoring the rest of the room. His mind was screaming at him to check the rest of the room but he couldn’t pry his eyes off the ruby.

A hard and strong fist connecting with his jaw helped distract him from the ruby. There were two guards in the room and it looked like they’d been asleep. The one that hit him was made like a stone golem. Mac dodged the man’s second punch and shot at the second guard’s bellybutton. The dart arced down a little and the man let out a whimper as he fell to the ground.

“Ouch, sorry,” Mac said while the larger guard laughed. The big slab of guard feinted to the right and kicked the gun out of Mac’s left hand.

“I guess we’re doing this the old fashioned way,” quipped Mac.

“Killing you will get me a promotion, traitor!” The man swung at Mac again. Each hit was like being kicked by a horse; a large horse with metal shoes and a grudge.

Mac gave as good as he got, he hoped, but he was starting to feel it and get tired. The bigger man lunged and Mac punched him in a kidney, hard. Both men retreated to a corner of the tiny shack, and Mac said, “Come on, there’s got to be a way to compromise.”

“What’s wrong old man? Getting tired?”

“Yes. And I’m not that old.” Mac saw his pistol not near the big man’s foot and started circling the cabin. He hoped the man would mirror him like a boxer and give him the chance to grab the gun. “Do you know what I did when I was in the military?”

“Betray it?” asked the big man, who wasn’t as dumb as he looked. The man walked straight for Mac and swung at him, almost connecting.

“Nope. I was their specialist in magical artifacts.” He reached out and grabbed the stone pedestal and held it like a club. The ruby fell to the cabin ground and Mac rushed the man with the pedestal. The mountain of meat moved back too quickly and tripped on his feet, falling backwards.

Mac ran to the gun; switching the club to his right hand, he picked up the gun and walked over the guard.

“Tell General Lanthier that Captain MacDonnell sends his regards.” He shot the guard in the leg and walked towards the ruby mumbling, ”Forty-two isn’t old.” He passed his hand through his salt and pepper hair self-consciously.

The moment his eyes looked into the ruby he was entranced. He had no idea what it was, or what it was for, but stealing it would tweak the Empires nose and that was enough.

He reached out and gently touched the ruby, and it cut him. A drop of blood fell onto its crimson surface and he heard a sizzling noise. The ruby’s light became brighter and started to pulsate at the same rhythm as his heart. Its edges got softer and it elongated, starting to look more like a red egg than a gem.

He felt vibrations on the wooden floor of the cabin and knew he wasn’t alone. Turning to the doorway, he saw a line of soldiers walk through the door, wearing full body armour and carrying large crossbows.

“Oh boy!” he said.

There was only one other exit, the small square window in the back of the shack. He was considering if he could make it before they shot him when movement near his hand caught his attention.

The ruby had continued its transformation, elongating and separating. It had gotten paler, more of a pink and had grown arms and legs.

As he watched, in complete amazement, the ruby transformed into a baby with glowing crimson hair. The infant gave a tiny giggle and opened its eyes. He expected red eyes, but was surprised to see little clones of his own dark green eyes staring back at him.

“Oh Boy,” he repeated.

Norway

Norway is a beautiful country full of geeky opportunities. Tons of movies were filmed there, including “Empire Strikes Back” (in Finse), “Die Another Day”, “Eight Below”, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra”, and “Captain America: The First Avenger” (in Svalbard), parts of “Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince” (in Rauma), “Ex Machina” (in Norddal and Luster), and “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows” (in Mardalsfossen). Of course, “Vikings” was shot in many locations in Norway, including Sokndal, Bjerkreim, Gjesdal, Forsand, Aurland, and Stranda.

Note: Svalbard is an island much further North of the continent, and would probably be a trip all on it’s own.

And that’s not even counting Oslo, Norway’s capital. One of the best comic book stores exists there: Outland. They have everything you could possibly want, including Lego, board games, comic books (obviously), and collectibles.

Akershus Fortress is also located in Oslo. It was used as the model for Arendelle’s castle in Frozen, and Norway’s building in Epcot is a replica of the Fortress.

Akershus Fortress picture from www.visitolso.com
Akershus Fortress picture from www.visitolso.com

For History buffs, Norway is an amazing place to visit. They have museums, carvings, and historical centres all over the place. I read through this website, a mom and her six year old son’s trip to Norway was beautifully written.

She also writes about eight haunted places in Norway that you must visit. They have a Ghost Walk similar to the Haunted Walk in Ottawa!

Let’s not forget that Disney’s Cruise Line Magic has a “Frozen” themed cruise to Norway as well. See Norway with that Disney magic thrown in!

Anna and Elsa from Disney Cruise Line www.disneyparks.disney.go.com
Anna and Elsa from Disney Cruise Line www.disneyparks.disney.go.com

If you are interested in a trip to Norway, contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca