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Chapter 1:- Mini-Chapter 1

          Aulic Prension lay still on the courtyard bench against the backdrop of a peach-painted wall concentrating intently on thoughts of an obese waxen figure. The figure was a pale white one, the unattractive white of sour milk, and around its base misshapen protuberances, small dried drippings and streams of wax, stood out in bumpy relief. 

The Grey Hour had settled in on Prension Town and the dwindling orange light was muted and meditative. There was an anticipatory air before the lavish Autumn Girl dance set to begin in a few hours. The moments before a dance were an odd time, perhaps, for a session of Dream Hand practice, but Corben Corsaire, the most respected Prension Dream Hand, was determined to squeeze in another session before Aulic’s Maturity Ritual.   

Even though he was intent on his teaching, Corben, an occasional painter with a remarkable eye for color, couldn’t help noticing that the tan-brown streaks in Aulic’s hair complemented the peach wall. His concentrating face with its closed eyes was rendered especially striking by the distinct strip of scalp showing down the middle part of his hair. It was an unusual but noble style, this scalp-strip, forbidden to all Prensioners except members of the royal family. On Aulic, the strip worked unusually well, since his hair naturally had a center part. On others, the strip was less felicitious. His mother, Empress Landau, never looked quite right with it dividing her mounds of curling brown and blonde hair, and so she often favored an empresses’ headdress. 

“You must think of the Pudding Dinner Ghost legend. That’s the kind of lumpishness and bumpy waxiness I’m imagining.” Corben could keep the desired avatar firmly in mind even with his eyes open, a talent possessed in full only by the most masterful Dream Hands. For Corben, it was as though the Pudding Dinner Ghost was vividly superimposed on the image of his pupil.

Under Corben’s tutelage, Aulic was attempting to envision this same waxwork. If he summoned the Ghost to his mind in a full-fledged form, he’d be that much closer to mastering the creation of his own Dream Avatar. 


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