I would now like to revisit the tale of Od’s previous identity Aeonium Haworthii. This part of Aeonium’s story is a tale of success, romance and happiness, a chapter which makes the closing paragraphs of his life all the harder to endure. Those with little have little to lose. Aeonium however had much to lose and sadly eventually he lost it all, even his mind.
Following his adoption by Brassica Alba and her husband Vaccinium Ovatum Aeonium had worked hard, studying both the written word and also the practices and nature of magic. He had often joined his adoptive mother at Court of Thimbles meetings where he would astound the members of the coven with the strength of his magical connection. By the age of nine he had mastered spells which took most witches and wizards several decades to realise and by the age of twelve he had begun to formulate his own spells and potions, a skill which Vaccinium had observed with both interest and pride. At age fourteen Aeonium had managed to cast a very complex and expertly constructed spell over his adoptive father’s compost bin. The spell had caused all grass clippings, leaves and other biodegradable garden waste placed into the bin to break down not into compost but into a sweet brown ale, an end product which had made Vaccinium much happier than any compost ever had.
Vaccinium had worked for a company called Abies Lasiocarpa And Knautia Arvensis Incorporated or to use its abbreviated name A.L.A.K.A INC. A.L.A.K.A was a small producer of magical goods which operated in the shadow, both figuratively and literally, of the much larger Hocus Factory which was a giant of the magical industry. The Hocus Factory seemed to outdo A.L.A.K.A at every turn, beating them on the price, quality and demand for their magical wares. A.L.A.K.A had become so downtrodden by the Hocus Factory that the surviving partner of the company, Abies Lasiocarpa, had called a meeting with Vaccinium and his other heads of staff to inform them that if nothing could be done to turn the company around then they would likely face bankruptcy later that very year.
Whilst tasting Aeonium’s compost ale Vaccinium had realised that the saviour of A.L.A.K.A could very well be his adoptive son and his ingenious magic and so, with Aeonium’s permission, Vaccinium had patented the remarkable compost bin under his own name, christening it The Moonshine Composter and he had pitched it to Abies Lasiocarpa and his other A.L.A.K.A colleagues in a meeting which had lasted three full hours. When the meeting had finally ended Abies had staggered from the boardroom in a state of inebriation and had shook young Aeonium’s hand, offering him a junior apprenticeship in the magical innovations department, an offer which Aeonium had happily accepted.
Six months later the Moonshine Composter had gone on sale across the Known Expanse and as The Hocus Factory had no products to rival it Aeonium’s invention had earned A.L.A.K.A enough money to not only make it through the year but to also make the company a sizeable profit. It was a good year for magic but, due to a surge in the number of inebriated horticulturists, a terrible year for gardens.
Aeonium had sailed through his apprenticeship and had been offered a full-time job in the innovations department at the end of it. He had started on the same day as a young girl called Paeonia Lactiflora, a local beauty whom he had instantly fallen for. Not only did Paeonia and Aeonium share many of the same letters in their names, they also shared many of the same interests and hobbies and romance had soon blossomed between them.
As a child Aeonium had been fascinated by the seashore and, when Brassica had allowed him free time from his study of magic, he had spent it playing on the sand and amongst the waves. He’d gathered quite an extensive collection of seashells and had become quite adept at constructing sandcastles, creating vast, sprawling sand fortresses complete with moats, drawbridges, turrets and, time permitting, surrounding fields of seaweed and driftwood. The problem was that Aeonium’s fantastical sand constructions were always destroyed by the incoming tide, a natural spoilsport which would slowly creep across the beach towards him, bent upon spoiling his fun. No matter how sturdy or thick Aeonium made the walls of his castles they were never able to stand up to the sea and impenetrable fortresses which had repelled hordes of vampires, werewolves and on occasion even Atropa himself during Aeonium’s imaginative play crumbled beneath the onslaught of the sea’s relentless advance. It was for this reason that the first magical innovation Aeonium had created at A.L.A.K.A INC was a miniature white flag upon which he had wrought a complex and intricate charm. Aeonium had christened the flags ‘White Flags of No Surrender’ and when they were placed atop a child’s sandcastle the charm activated and imbued the castle with a cocktail of powerful protection spells, making them impervious to the sea and, providing the flag was not removed, durable enough to be played with day after day. The White Flags of No Surrender had been an instant hit amongst the holiday goers who visited Aeonium’s home town of Syrupsands and they earned him the prestigious award of Magical Innovator of the Year, a title which prior to then had always been claimed by an employee of the Hocus Factory.
Aeonium had become famous for solving those little problems in life which seemed too trivial to warrant the creation of complicated spells and potions and, seeing a gap in the magical market, he had focused his attention on resolving minor but irritating complications, tackling issues such as beer mats which become stuck to the base of the glass, bad breath due to the consumption of garlic bread and those embarrassing trails of toilet paper which affix themselves to the heel of your shoe as you exit the lavatory. (This is just an observation, but these examples perfectly illustrate my theory that most of life’s problems can be traced back to either some form of paper or a member of the onion family.
Aeonium had tackled these problems with ingenious magical inventions such as the Coaster of Levitation which caused any beverage placed upon it to hover an inch above its surface in a state of perfect gyroscopic stability, Anti-Garlic Bread which when eaten after regular garlic bread removes all odour from a diner’s mouth and Vanishing Lavatory Paper which became invisible if inadvertently carried over the threshold of the bathroom on a patron’s shoe.
Some years after winning The Magical Innovator of the Year award Aeonium had reclaimed the title with an invention which he’d called Knock Three Times Fly Glass. He had reputedly come up with the idea for this invention during a bout of spell writers block. He had been sitting in his office at A.L.A.K.A INC struggling to come up with new ideas when he had noticed a trapped fly which was giving itself concussion by attempting to fly through the glass of his office window, its tiny fly mind unable to grasp that a transparent barrier was preventing its escape. This had inspired him to work with a local glazier to develop an inexpensive sheet of glass which, when struck three times by the head of a fly would allow the fly to pass straight through its surface unharmed. The invention had helped to raise the hygiene levels in both kitchens and hospitals, both places that found flies an issue. The Knock Three Times Fly Glass had not only won Aeonium the award but had also made him a household name and earned him a promotion to the lofty position of Head of A.L.A.K.A innovations dept.
The pay rise he had received from his promotion had allowed Aeonium to buy a cottage for himself and Paeonia and later that same year she and Aeonium had become husband and wife. This is just conjecture on my part but I imagine that at this point in his life Aeonium may have reflected back upon his origins and believed that he had changed his stars; an abandoned orphan who owned nothing but a jar of pig’s teeth growing up to be a successful, married homeowner.
Following his promotion Aeonium had gone back to his roots and had patented another two inventions inspired by his hometown of Syrupsands. The first had been called The Forever Frosty Waffle Cone which not only prevented a child’s ice-cream from melting but also magically affixed it to the cone itself, making it impossible to drop. The second was called Gorgon Gaze Vinegar and it was to be the only of Aeonium’s creations to ever receive bad reviews. Aeonium had seen upon countless occasions the plight of holiday goers who would buy themselves a bag of fish and chips, intending to enjoy them whilst sitting upon the beach. The problem was that Syrupsands was infested by hungry gulls and mischievous beaky sneavers, both of which would attempt to steal away a holiday goers’ meal. With this in mind Aeonium had developed a special transfiguration potion which, when mixed with vinegar and applied liberally to hot chips had the ability to turn the chips to stone when a gull or sneaver came in close proximity to them, making them temporarily inedible. The spell would end when the disgruntled chip bandits made their retreat and the chips would return to their prior soft, deep-fried state. The problem was however that on a couple of occasions a sneaver or gull had appeared at an inopportune time, swooping from the sky just as a holiday goer was about to bite into a chip.
During his mission into the heart of The Hall of Recorded Happenings Od had visited the Journalism Hall and had uncovered a newspaper article from the Syrupsands Post from around the time Gorgon Gaze Vinegar had gone on sale. Its headline read: A.L.A.K.A’S AEONIUM CHIPS ANOTHER TOOTH. The article states that A.L.A.K.A INC had been forced to remove Gorgon Gaze Vinegar from sale and pay several thousand golden schpeals in compensation after five people had bitten down on petrified chips. Two had suffered cracks to their upper bicuspids, one a shattered lateral incisor, one cracks to their first and second upper right molars, and one (who must have been eating quite ravenously at the time) had managed to completely destroy their lower incisors and break their jaw, an injury which had left them needing false teeth. The article had gone on to state that following the incident A.L.A.K.A would be reviewing Aeonium’s position within the company.
Despite this however Aeonium had managed to keep his title of Head of A.L.A.K.A innovations and Od had found a particularly lethal looking A.L.A.K.A pamphlet which was dated six months after the damning newspaper article which stated that A.L.A.K.A had a new product in the pipeline, one which would revolutionise the magical industry and make magic accessible to all. The product was called Sorcerer’s Snuff and it was introduced as being ’The latest and greatest magical invention of Aeonium Haworthii.’
Whilst traversing the deadly yet alphabetical filing cabinets in the Hall of Recorded Happenings’ Chamber of Births and Deaths Od had found birth certificates for twin girls, Tiarella Cordifolia and Cymbidium Dayanum, the children of Aeonium and Paeonia. The fact that Aeonium would have twin girls is a twist of fate so cruel that it makes me wonder if The Architect has a conscience at all. This may seem like a strange statement for me to make but if you choose to subject yourself to the heart-breaking conclusion of Aeonium’s tale then my reasons will become clear.
Once again, I would like to pause in my telling of Aeonium’s story, which I will pick up again at a later juncture. I would like to warn you all that the next instalment of Aeonium’s life is quite distressing and though I wish I could give it one, I am afraid that it does not have a happy ending.