"Hey! That's a weird angle. It's – what's the word – unflattering! She looks twice as ugly as usual!"

Maya and I are reviewing the footage we took from bugging the Kurain Board Elders' secret 'meetings' with our deviant miniature spy camera.

"I can't see! Nick, this is a terrible mo…"

"Shut up, it's the sound that's important! Agh!" I hit the rewind. "That was important!"

Now I can see why Maya wanted to elope. (Well, apart from it being really hot and romantic.)

As Maya explained to me earlier, these backward residents have demanded to 'query the spirits' for the 'validity' and approval of our pairing and whether it will produce a good or bad fateful outcome – they think it's pretty important since, as Master, the entire lineage of the Fey Clan is potentially at stake.

I replay. Maya's head is in the way, glued as if it's a Samurai Special (TV always has a hypnotic effect on her, no matter what the program) but it's the words that are prescient, so ignoring the image actually enhances my concentration. I'm having trouble not shouting objections and arguing though…

The string of logic is kinda hard to follow. That old crone, Mystic Miranda and a few others, keep babbling about some divining or prophecy they received contacting the spirits over my 'Fate', and 'Destined Union'.

I was really confused as to why they're so obsessed with me and MY 'destiny', so Maya told me that since I am myself a 'powerful' (I feel my chest puff out) Kurain acolyte and member of the Order, they think they have a right independently to mess around divining my appropriate fated 'destiny', irrespective of Maya.

"What the HELL?" I had spat, "they can't really 'spiritually disapprove' our marriage?"

"Of course not! Only a few are even backward enough to still believe in that garbage, the main problem is they'll spend ages arguing among themselves, eventually there will be a vote, the dissenters will be outnumbered, and our marriage will be given the Kurain Board and the 'spirits'' blessing."

Maya's infectious confidence which awashed me then has drained away the longer we get into the tedious garbage onscreen. Mystic Miranda and a small gaggle of Elders keep yiping about some Divined Message that my 'spiritually destined union' is not with Maya at all but (of all people) Mystic Sister Iris.

The shadow of Maya's head on the screen is growing steadily more drooping, until it suddenly jerks upright as there's an onscreen caterwaul. Another Elder has suddenly retaliated with the full scary wrath of the Feys, with the faction around her insisting that they did their own divining and Spiritual Consultation on Mystic Miranda's 'Prophecy'.

"Your 'prophecy', Mystic Miranda, has been superseded! Whatever Mystic Phoenix's spiritually destined Fate may have used to be, his selection with the Ancestral Magatama changed his destiny! OUR divination was explicit!"

"Garbage!" her screech rebuts. " The power of a mere Magatama merely strayed Mystic Phoenix from his path. It does not change his Fate as Ami Fey willed it! The Master was not acting on spiritual instruction…"

Mystic Miranda's soundwaves waver as some of the Elders begin raucous and mocking laughter. One of them addresses Mystic Miranda in a condescending tone.

"The Ancestral Magatama is said to have passed down from Ami Fey herself! It certainly has power of 'authority'! The Authority of the Ancestral Magatama supersedes any other 'prophecy' or 'divining' of fate! It is irrelevant what was before – the Magatama has changed Mystic Phoenix's fate! And yes – before you say – if Ami and the Magatama did not support this, then Mystic Phoenix would not be able to utilise its powers. "

"Of NO ACCOUNT! If Mystic Ami 'approved' of the ceremony, why was it not conducted under our most basal of STANDARDS! This - urgh -'union' has no Kurainian procedure of recognition whatsoever. Observe, fellow Mystics! You really think this is a ceremony capable to derive the spiritual seal of Ami Fey?"

"Hey, hey!" complains Maya. "What's that..."


"What, pray tell," thunders Mystic Miranda, blurring in rage as she thrusts a printed image aloft, "is THIS?"

"Oooh," Mystic Martha's head blurs toward us. "In the shape of a Samurai Burger. With little Steel Samurai and Pink Princess - that's cute..."

"But where," Mystic Maudred's nearby voice roars, "is the Iron Infant?"

"They took Pearly's pictures!" growls Maya.

"Nah. Copies," I discern. "We'd have heard about it if they were taken. (The celebrant took a few pics of us and our wedding cake, which we gave copies of to poor Pearls. It's like they're glued to her hand lately.)

Only Maya would have a cake in the shape of a burger!

Undeterred, the Miranda crone continues. "What about this - Disgusting um, image?"

A senior elder reaches and peers it toward ancient, screwing eyes.

"It appears to be Mystic Maya, eating cake out of Mystic Phoenix's mouth. Unhygienic yes, but I fail to see how this is relevant! I think we should move on to other busine.."


Maya groans as the onscreen heads all snap back to Crone Miranda.

"The union has no authority of Kurain!" the voice bombasts. "It adhered to no Kurain procedures, therefore has no recognition here. Furthermore, Mystic Maya was acting illegally with the Ancestral Magatama. It was not hers to bestow, hence any symbolism in its exchange is ANULLED."

There's an audible and growing undercurrent of mutter, which does not sound conducive to us.

"And finally!" Mystic Miranda roars, apparently inspired by the disquiet. "You all know Mystic Maya was never Destined to be Master, the spirits chose her older sister, or Mystic P.."

I've leaped out of my seat, finger twitching in rage, but I'm checked by the action onscreen, which is in similar uproar.

"How DARE YOU!" spits Mystic Martha's voice. "The spirits can't predict all matters of the future! Mystic Maya is the rightful Master and her status has been validated!"

"No, Mystic Miranda, that is irrelevant," also rebuts another, more sedate Elder's voice. "We considered that particular issue of contention and tested it in our divination. In the destiny that Pearl had become Master, it seems Mystic Pearl had already given HER authority to the fate change by vesting her own powers in the Magatama and approving the transaction. His destiny was set, even in the fate Mystic Pearl were Master! "

"Why no, Mystic," pixellatedly smirks Mystic Miranda, "you have an error of logic. By that reasoning, his fated destiny is a union with Mystic Pearl!"

"Oh no, it is you who are mistaken," corrects Mystic Maudred's voice, "'spiritual matters' are above having to follow strings of mundane logic!"

"I'm sorry, Mystic Maudred," the grating voice shoots back. "I think the spirits didn't speak to you at all, and your own biases clouded your judgment. We all know you're obsessed with Mystic Phoenix, and obsessed with speculating on what kind of heir would be produced from a union where both parties have the Kurain Powers. And you too, Mystic Martha."

"Oh, but wouldn't you have liked to be a fly on the wall on their wedding ni.."


"Do you think he called her 'Master'?" interjects Mystic Martha, her face taking on a pinkish tinge as Mystic Miranda silences her with a face like thunder.

"Aren't you both too old for such filthy matters?"

"Too old?" screeches Mystic Maudred's voice. "I never even got any, my betrothed got cold feet before we even got through the first stupid marriage ritual!"

"But it will bring on the great wrath of Ami Fey and the Venerated Ancestors! Mystic Phoenix 's fated union is with Mystic Sister Iris, NOT Master Maya!"

"Over my dead body! Put it this way," Mystic Maudred's voice is snapping, "I'll pass on soon, and then you can channel me as a 'Venerated Ancestor', and ask who the spiritually fated partner is and I'll tell you. Mystic Phoenix and Master Mystic Maya are a couple written in the Fates!"

(I hit the pause as the sound is drowned out by Maya's cheering.)

"I think it's romantic she changed his destined fate by choosing her own partner with the authority of the Ancestral Magatama," Mystic Mary's voice is mumbling, her blurry head turned to Mystic Martha.


"No, you be silent," commands another senior Elder. "We'll take a vote at the next council, but we all know you were demoted from the Chief Elder board by Mystic Maya. You act like you still think you are one!"

(The 'tape' cuts out.)

"'Fated Partner'? 'Authority of the Ancestral Magatama'?" I turn to Maya, who's back breathing in my ear. "Is any of that garbage real?"

"Of course not, Nick! All backward superstition!"

"T-then you didn't choose me then with the authority of the Ancestral Magatama?"


I feel my face fall.

Maya's eyes collide into mine. "Oh, of course I chose you Nick – because I LOVE you, not because of all that Mystic Master garbage!"

"B-but Maya," I venture awkwardly, "what if it's true? What if the spirits DO 'disapprove of our union' and have punished you by taking your powers?"

"T-then that's just how it's got to be," stammers Maya. "I told you we're together. If my powers have been taken, then Pearly will succeed as Master."

The fire returns to her eyes. "Don't worry, Nick. It's just a stupid story."