The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Written by: Todd Jensen, Seth Jackson, and Terrence Briggs
Story Idea: by Kathy Pogge

[Disclaimer: Because of the amazing amount of feedback we got when Brooklyn
was referred to as "homely," We felt this disclaimer needed to be added:
The views of Broadway, Angela, Bronx, Hudson, et al. are strictly reserved by the
boggart and in no way reflect the views of the TGS staff... Thank you

PUCK: "You hurt him with that one! Uhh, do it again."
Previously on Gargoyles...
TITANIA: "How did you do that?"
FOX: "I don't know-I don't know! I just couldn't let
him take my baby!"
-- The Gathering Part II

OBERON: "We hereby strip you of all your powers,
save when you are training or protecting the boy!
Such is your punishment! So speaks Oberon!"
-- The Gathering Part II

OWEN: "Random magic at his age? How precocious!
Still, it explains why he fell asleep so quickly. A
major act of magic like that drains a body's energy."
-- Equality

LEXINGTON: "Well, Broadway, I guess our trio's down
to two, huh? (Sees Broadway helping Angela to her perch.)
And then there was one...."
-- Out of Joint Part 2

Lone footsteps echoed through the halls of Castle Wyvern. A troubled Fox Xanatos veered around the corner and continued along the next set of hallways. The events of the past few weeks had been troubling her greatly and although, for the most part, she had managed to hide it well, but the thoughts kept haunting her like a ghost... "A ghost," she said under her breath, taking a moment to gather in her surroundings. Even after living in the castle high atop the Eyrie Building all this time, sometimes, as the sun began to set, her mind would take in the dark, medieval surroundings and play tricks on her. "I wouldn't be surprised if this place was haunted," she said finally, shaking her head.

Continuing her trek down the long, stone halls she once again felt insecure. Again her mind began to wander over recent events; Specifically the capture of Detective Matt Bluestone by the Quarrymen and the unexpected humanitarian field trip, given to the trio and Angela by her baby son. "Well, speak of my little angel," Fox thought as she came upon the open door of the nursery. Alexander was just waking from his afternoon nap and giggled happily at the sight of his mother.

"Ma! Ma!" He reached up towards her, grabbing at the air, signaling that he wished to be picked up.

"Well, come over here!" Fox beckoned. Alexander cooed and then clenched his fists and scrunched up his face. A light blue mist whirled around him lifting him out of the crib and into Fox's waiting arms. "Your lessons with Puck are going well," she said tickling his stomach, "he's turned out to be quite the teac..." Fox stopped herself in mid-sentence. Suddenly the solution to her problems was made clear. "That's it!" she exclaimed, holding Alexander up so they met eye level. Then Fox became serious again as she brought him down to rest against her shoulder, sitting in her arms... "Now if we could just convince your father." Alex had his index finger in his mouth and looked up at his mother with questioning eyes. Fox quickly looked down and as if to answer his question, she smirked and said, "You're right, that's never stopped me before." Alex merely replied by squealing while clapping his hands as they left the nursery.

* * * * *

The sun sank behind the Manhattan skyline, casting shadows the cold shadow of night over the eleven gargoyles encircling the highest tower of Castle Wyvern. Cracks began to form upon the statues, causing a chain reaction until the entire outer shell was nothing but hundreds of brittle chips of stone. Greeting the night, the eleven gargoyles shed their stone skin and let out a thunderous roar as they awoke. Lexington stretched his wings and quickly leapt off his perch to join the rest of the clan.

"All right, lad but take care of yourself," Hudson said addressing Goliath. Lexington came up to just in time to catch Goliath leaping off the edge of the castle wall and catching an air draft, gliding towards the city below.

"Where's he going all alone?" Lexington asked.

"He's headed over to Elisa's," the old gargoyle replied.

"He's still worried about her after what happened to Matt," Broadway said standing behind Lex. "If you ask me, he's just oversensitive."

"I think it's sweet," Angela said quickly.

"So do I," Broadway quickly recovered. "But it happened over a week ago." Lexington nodded in agreement and took this chance to change the subject.

"Hey, I found this really cool webpage for the PIT crew last night! I was wondering if any of you wanted to check it out with me"

"Ach!" Hudson, replied. "Thank you for the offer, lad, but you know how lost I get trying to understand that blasted machine." Lexington smirked as Hudson, Bronx, and Nudnik headed into the castle and turned to Brooklyn.

"Ummm, not tonight Lex," Brooklyn said turning to Sata and embracing her. "Sata and I were going to go out for a night on the town."

"Besides, Lexington-san," Sata said. "Somebody needs to patrol the city tonight. Even though there hasn't been much activity recently, it is, as you say, 'better safe than sorry.'" Lexington sighed a bit but fully understood.

"Have a good time you two," Angela said waving. "We'll look after the twins for you." Lexington frowned as Brooklyn and Sata took off into the night hand in hand.

"So I guess you're busy, too?" Lex said turning to Broadway. The twins came running up tugging on Broadway and Angela's arms.

"Come on, Uncle Broadway," Ariana said excitedly.

"Hudson is going to tell us another story of the Castle in the old days," Graeme continued for her, while hopping up and down and still pulling.

"You coming Lex?" Broadway asked.

"Nah, you guys go ahead." Lexington smiled as the remaining four gargoyles left. Now all alone, Lexington sighed, dropped his arms by his side, hung his head, and slowly headed off by himself towards the computer room.

* * * * *

In the dining room of Castle Wyvern, David Xanatos and Fox were sitting down for dinner. Fox, anxious about what she needed to tell her husband, hadn't touched her food and merely stared down at her plate.

"What's wrong, my dear?" Xanatos had seen this troubled look on his wife over the past few weeks and took the opportunity to confront her about it now. "You haven't eaten anything."

Fox took a moment to look up at Xanatos, collected her thoughts, and finally said "David, I want to hone my magical capabilities."

"Hmmm," was Xanatos' only reply.

"I was thinking about what happened to the Gargoyles the other night, you know, their day out," Xanatos nodded recalling that only a few weeks ago Alex had accidentally turned the trio and Angela into humans, "and it frightened me, I guess. I mean, what if Alex doesn't like the food we're feeding him and he does something like that again, or worse?"

"But you realize that..."

"And on top of that, David," Fox interrupted him, "I had also been thinking about what happened to Detective Bluestone last week. And although I trust all the staff here, what if Castaway writes one of them a very big check and they become Quarrymen, or give out information that the gargoyles are here. And if he could kidnap one of the NYPD... I will _not_ let them touch our son."

"But Puck can..."

"Protect him," she interrupted once again. "But the simple fact is, he is mortal as Owen." Xanatos thought about what she had said for a moment.

"You're right my dear, as usual. But how? Who would teach you?"

"I had been thinking about that too. Don't you think-"

"It would be plausible that you could sit in on one of Alexander's lessons and have Puck teach you indirectly?" Fox nodded as Xanatos completed the sentence.

"That's what I need to talk to Owen about and I'm glad you approve," Fox left her seat and kissed him. Xanatos was suddenly no longer hungry as Fox headed off in the direction of the nursery. He sat back in his chair, thought for a moment, and then picked up the phone.


"Yes, sir?"

"Fox is on her way over. Let's push back tonight's meeting even later," he paused, "I want to monitor Fox's progress." Without another word Xanatos hung up the phone.

* * * * *

Fox walked into the nursery and stood in the doorway watching Owen change Alexander. "Owen," she said. Owen stopped and looked up at her. "If you don't mind, I'd like to do this for a change. David and I are so busy these days we rarely get the simple joy of changing our baby's diapers."

"As you wish, ma'am," Owen turned and started to clean up the nursery as Fox went over to the changing table and continued where Owen left off.

"This isn't the only reason I stopped by." Owen listened but stayed attentive to his duty. Fox finished changing Alex and continued, "I was hopping you could teach me to harness my dormant abilities." Immediately after saying that, Fox saw a bright light fill the room and heard something that sounded like a whirlwind. Fox spun around quickly only to come face to fae with Puck.

"Finally," Puck said with a touch of sarcasm as he floated to the other side of the room. "I thought you'd _never_ ask."

"So you're willing to do it?"

"Well, I'm sure Queen Titania would be all for it but as for Oberon," Puck continued with a slight tone of anger in his voice. "Let's just hope The Gathering is keeping him too busy to notice, I'll be teaching you via review sessions with Alexander, but if he realizes what's going on here... I'm up to the challenge though." Puck floated back over to Fox and began to examine her. Fox got a slight chill as she felt Puck was look through her. "A raw talent as dormant as yours will be interesting to mold, not to mention fun!" Puck grinned, "So let's begin, shall we?" Puck hovered over to the other side of the nursery and stood on the ceiling. Waving a hand, Alex floated up next to him, and Puck picked out a bedtime story to read to him. Alex immediately threw up his chubby little fingers. The book fell to the floor and was followed by the one he wanted read to him. "Little tike's getting better by the minute. Can't wait to see what happens when he enters the 'Terrible Two's.'"

"That's what worries me. What if he craves some attention and turns the entire castle into a bedtime time story?"

"How ironic that you say that." Fox looked up at Puck who turned around the cover of the book Alex had chosen. "The Fox and the Hound," he continued, chuckling, "I just hope he would cast Hudson as Amos Slade."

"I wonder who would play Copper," Fox said under her breath.


"I said, when do we start?"

Puck smirked."Right now." He waved his hand and the entire room was filled with unlit candles. Fox, not sure what to do, took a moment to look around the room before turning again to Puck with a confused look on her face. "Use your imagination, Fox!" Puck said, sarcasm rolling off every word. "Light the candles!"

"But..." She looked back up but Puck was no longer listening. He, instead, began reviewing past lessons with Alex through his bedtime story. Fox sighed and looked at one of the candles immediately in front of her. She held her hands in front of her body, trying to mimic her blast to Oberon, and concentrated on the candle... Nothing. She looked at Puck for some sort of sign. Puck kept reading to Alex, who was now making the visuals from the book float off the page by waving his hand. Fox turned back to the candle, focused on it, and waved her hands similar to the way she had just seen Alex... Again, nothing. "You'll have to do better than that," Puck smirked, not even looking up from Alex's bed time story. Fox concentrated on the wick this time with her mind... her eyes... her finger tips...

"Argh! I-I can't do this," she cried in frustration.

"Yes you can," Puck finally took this moment of despair to continue the lesson. "But you're still thinking like a mortal. Remember when you blasted Lord Oberon, you didn't have to focus, you didn't have to channel any energy, you didn't even have to think! As you said, you couldn't let him take the kid here. But then when you tried to do it again you began to think about what you were doing, like you are now, and produced the same results: Na-da, zero, zip!"

"So what do I have to do?"

"Your powers are still too raw and faded. You can't just focus on the candle and expect it to light, you have to want it. In fact, this time, put your hands by your side, they'll just confuse you." Fox let her hands rest by her side this time and instead of focusing on the candle, she wanted light. Light for the dim room and a source of warmth from somewhere near. Suddenly one of the candles to her left lit up. "Very good... for a newborn of Oberon," Puck teased. Fox, while happy that she had lit the candle, was still frustrated.

"But I wanted _that_ candle to light up," she sighed pointing to the one in front of her.

* * * * *

The soft glow of a computer monitor radiated off of Lexington's face as he sat, bored and agitated, using his index finger to slowly pound in each letter of the URL to the PIT page he had found the other night. "At least there's somebody out there who appreciates me," Lexington hinted to no one as the page's graphics loaded. As he scrolled over the pages contents he thought to himself that it was unfortunate that Broadway and Brooklyn failed to recover the disk with the list of PIT's fund-raiser and meeting locations, "Maybe I could have been a guest speaker." He noticed they didn't mention any of the special events on the net, assuming this was in fear that the Quarrymen would crash them. He scrolled down the list reading off some of the interesting titles. He followed one of the links a bulletin- board-style posting room.

One of the comments read: "So when id Letterman going to get a gargoyle on his show?"

"I'm sure Broadway would love to," Lexington mumbled, sarcastically. "If he weren't so full of himself and Angela." Lexington eyed down the list once again until one link caught his eye. It contained information on a PIT chat server. Lex opened his chat program and logged on.

*** Now talking in #PIT
<Lex> Hello!
* Edusada waves
<Edusada> Hi Lex
<Cassio> I still say it's just a stunt for ratings. It worked for the Daily Tattler, why not WVRN?
<Edusada> So where in Manhattan are you from Lex?
<GargFan> Cassio: Then why are you here?
<Lex> I live near the Xanatos skyscraper
<Cassio> It's still a free country isn't it? I can't speak my mind? At least I'm not one of those blasted Quarrymen. I think they're more of a threat than the gargoyles were ever portrayed to be
* Edusada nods
*** Eliminator ( has joined #PIT
<Lex> LIZ?!?!
<Eliminator> Lex?!?

* * * * *

"How much longer do I have to keep doing this?" Fox asked a bit frustrated as she lit yet another candle. Over a quarter of the candles in the room were lit but the first few candles were already down to their holders.

"Until they're all lit," Puck said as Alex began to dose off.

"And _why_ do I have to do this?"

"Apprentice magicians _always_ start with the lighting candles routine. It's one of those cosmic laws," Puck paced back and forth on the ceiling holding his hands out matter-a-factly. "Like how it always rains when you leave your umbrella at home or how you'll always be missing one sock from the dryer." Fox had enough of Puck's constant jokes and teasing, and was feeling extremely frustrated. She cried out, held up her hands, concentrated very hard, and suddenly all the candles in the room lit up at once. Fox held her hands in front of her and looked at them, feeling a trifle shocked. Puck nodded to himself and danced around happily. Suddenly he appeared behind Fox and whispered into her ear "Congratulations! First lesson passed with flying colors." A single applause was heard from the nursery entrance and both Puck and Fox turned to see Xanatos leaning against the door frame continuing to clap. He walked over to Fox and kissed her.

"Congratulations, my dear. It would appear a celebration is in order."

"Hardly," Fox stopped him. "It was still out of anger, David." Xanatos was about to say something to reassure her but she put two fingers on his lips and continued, "A celebration won't feel right until I learn how to control my powers fully." Xanatos changed the subject.

"Well, we have tonight's meeting. If you'd rather cancel and stay here and practice, I can always make up some excuse for you."

"I'd like that."

"Very well, then, sir," Puck had reverted back to Owen but not before removing all the candles from the room. "But I have duties to attend to and cannot continue this lesson." Fox and Xanatos nodded, understanding, as they looked over at Alexander who was asleep in Owen's arms. Fox kissed Xanatos once more.

"Have fun without me," she teased.

"I'll try and manage," Xanatos smiled and headed out of the Nursery.

* * * * *

Lexington was now in a private chat with Liz

<Eliminator> Wow! It's good to see you again
* Lex nods
<Lex> I was kinna hoping that we'd bump into each other on a Net-Quake match
<Eliminator> Looking for that re-match?
<Lex> Maybe. But I am glad we had a chance to meet again! What are you doing in the PIT chat room?
<Eliminator> I was just about to ask you the same thing! I'm fascinated by the Gargoyles, plain and simple.
<Lex> Yeah, have you seen one yet?
<Eliminator> No... not yet :( I'm hoping I'll get to meet one tho.
<Lex> Maybe we could get-together one night and go sky watching
<Eliminator> I'd like that... In fact, if you wanna call it a date, why don't we also check out that Maddox Technology public display when it opens?
<Lex> The what?
<Eliminator> You haven't heard?!?
* Lex shakes his head
<Eliminator> Maddox Tech., I assume you know who they are...
<Lex> Duh! I go to their web page all the time to see their latest and greatest technological discoveries
<Eliminator> Well, anyway, they're having a trade show of their latest VR equipment. I just thought a video game and techno wizard such as yourself would be up to date on these things.
<Lex> Oh yeah! I knew about the trade show, but do they have any information about it on their web page yet?
<Eliminator> Where else do you think I heard about it?
<Lex> So why haven't I seen it? When did it go up?
<Eliminator> This afternoon
<Lex> Oh... heh, I kinna slept in today
<Eliminator> lol! Well that explains it, here's the URL sleepy head.
<Lex> brb

Lexington brought his Internet browser back up and typed in the URL. He followed the links around, reading over some of Maddox Technologies' amazing studies involving the combination of virtual reality with artificial intelligence in the such areas as video games, defense, space exploration, and law enforcement. He also looked up the current information on the trade show's dates and times. "It would have to be in the morning, wouldn't it?" Lex said to himself in frustration. He looked at where the convention was being held. "I wonder if I could convince one of the guys to sneak in tonight with me. Check out the scene early." He let this idea roll around in his head for a while as he switched back of to his IRC session

<Eliminator> Hey Lex? You there?
<Lex> Yeah
<Eliminator> Hey listen, I gotta run. It was great seeing you again. You want to meet here tomorrow night around the same time? We schedule our date or you could challenge me to that rematch.
<Lex> Uh, Sure!
<Eliminator> Great! See you tomorrow!
* Eliminator huggles Lex
*** Session closed

Lex was still too caught up in all the excitement to realize that he'd just planned an unofficial date with a human, much less that Liz had hugged him. He quickly went back to his browser and looked over the items that would be on display at the show. "I'm going for it!" he shouted out loud. He quickly logged off and ran out of the room in a flash.

Broadway, Angela, and the twins were crowded around Hudson who was seated on a bench in the courtyard. "Even after I warned them, they were still determined to go with Brother Edmund to find the sword Galatine." They all sat and listened to Hudson spin another yarn of Castle Wyvern in the Dark Ages. Broadway sat attentively with his arm around Angela and a miniature tape recorder, that Talon had given him, in his other hand. Lex ran into the courtyard hopping around with excitement.

"Hey, guys, I just found thi-" he stopped himself realizing that nobody was listening.

"Hey, Ariana," Graeme said. "Look at me! I'm Goliath and I've recovered the sword from the cave!" He shouted triumphantly as he took his sister's bo staff and held it up over his head.

"HEY! You better give that back or a magical blast of light will hit you on the shoulder," she said diving after him. Graeme ran away from his sister and stood atop one of his benches.

"No, it won't" he said, puffing his chest out and doing his best to sound like Goliath. "For I am the mighty Goliath and no magics can hurt me!"

"GIVE IT BACK!" Ariana shouted, running over to him.

"Hey! Settle down, you two," Angela's word came too late as Arianacollided with her brother, knocking both of them into a confused heap. Everybody got up and ran over to them. Fortunately, neither of the twins were hurt. While Broadway and Hudson began to clean up the mess, Angela scolded them for roughhousing. Lexington walked up to Broadway and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Hey, Broadway, I was wondering if you'd like to accom-" Lex was interrupted by an agitated Broadway.

"Not now, Lex," he snapped. "Can't you see we're busy?"

"That's the problem," Lex sighed, realizing it was hopeless. "You're always busy." Lexington turned back to watch them before leaving for another part of the castle. "They'd probably find it boring anyway," he said under his breath sadly and walked out.

* * * * *

Lex sat on the edge of the tower, swinging his feet out into the open air while sighing. "It's not fair," he said at last. "Nobody has time for poor little Lexington any more," he continued, in an agitated tone of voice. "Ever since Brooklyn got back from... Wherever he got back from, I've felt so alone. In fact, it's been this way since Goliath came back from Avalon. All of us drooling over Angela, fighting over her, I guess it was inevitable the three of us would grow apart," he sighed. "Lucky them. I just don't fit in anymore. Even Alex, with his _magic_ lessons," he said with sarcasm, "hasn't had much time for me either." He stood up and looked out over the full moon and the night sky. He turned back to look back down into the courtyard below and then leaped off, gliding into the night air. "They won't even know I'm gone," he said sourly.

* * * * *

Fox walked through the darkened library, pulling one book after another off the shelves, examining it, then replacing it. So far, no success. Every single book that she had come across had been a perfectly ordinary one, with nothing the slightest bit magical about it.

"You'd think that in a library this size, there'd have to be at least one book of magic here," she muttered to herself, after several minutes of fruitless searching. "Particularly given David's ambitions. I guess that the Grimorum Arcanorum must have been the only one he ever got his hands on."

She was starting to consider giving up, when one small leather-bound work in a corner of the shelf next to her caught her eye. Gingerly, she pulled it free and blew the dust off it. Then she looked over the title, in faded gilt letters, and read it aloud.

"'The Lore of the Great Mages'', she said. "Well, that seems promising enough. Doesn't look as if anybody's bothered looking at it for quite some time, though. Even the gargoyles must have passed this one up." She shrugged. "Well, let's see what's in it. It's probably nothing worthwhile, but it's better than nothing."

She opened the book and slowly turned over the yellowing and brittle pages, occasionally giving a guilty wince when a corner of one of the leaves snapped off. Most of the book's contents seemed to be little more than anecdotes about famous wizards of the past: Roger Bacon, Michael Scot, Johann Faust, Cornelius Agrippa, even one or two about Merlin himself. Fox wasted as little time on these as possible, rushing past them almost disdainfully. "Now I know how Macbeth must have felt when he found out what was really in the Scrolls of Merlin," she muttered under her breath.

She was just about to place the tome back where she had found it when a verse on the lower half of the right-hand side of the page before her caught her eye. At once, she turned her attention to it.

"'A Formula for Recalling Those That Have Departed,'" she read aloud. "Now that sounds promising." She looked it over, and then thought back to her earlier musings about the castle's past. "I wonder...", she said to herself. "Maybe this thing really could call up a ghost or two. Now that would definitely be interesting. Just imagine what that would be like, actually talking to one of the people who lived here. I might even catch Prince Malcolm himself. Now wouldn't that be fun?"

And with that, she began to read the words on the page aloud. They were in an odd form of Latin, and although she knew some of that language from school, she was not entirely certain what this word or that in the incantation meant. But she could get the general gist of it, something about summoning up those who had dwelt here once. As she uttered the spell, a wind began to stir in the library. It ruffled her hair, and picked up the loose papers upon the tables, blowing them about. An odd bluish glow formed in the center of the room, just a few feet away from where she stood. It was much smaller than Fox had expected, however - about the same size as a cat, in fact. And the shape that was forming within the glow did not look quite human to her. For that matter, it did not seem much like a gargoyle, either.

As Fox spoke the final word, the form solidified, resolving itself into a small hairless gray creature. It looked a bit like a smaller version of Lexington, with its large domed head, huge yellow eyes, prehensile tail, and long fingers - though it had five on each hand rather than four, and they were distinctly less claw-like. But it had no wings, and the look on its face was one more of mischief than of curiosity. In fact, its expression reminded her a bit of Puck, on the occasions that she had glimpsed him in his true form, but even more unruly than he had ever been. She stared at it in nothing short of absolute astonishment.

The whatever-it-was looked about the room, sniffing the air intently and inspecting its surroundings. Then it turned its head to stare straight at her. "Yeesssss!", it cried, in a high-pitched and vaguely grating voice. "I'm bacccckkkkk! It's been long enough, but here I am!"

Fox finally managed to recover her voice. "What are you?", she cried, staring down at it.

"Boy, you don't know much, do you, lady?", replied the creature. "I'm a boggart, that's what I am. Haven't you ever seen a boggart before? No, of course you haven't," it continued, before Fox could reply. "I'm a one-of-a-kind, and I've been away for quite a while. Probably a thousand years - give or take a decade. And it's good to be back!" It then looked at her again, much more closely. "Fashions must have changed quite a bit while I was gone," it said. "Princess Katharine and her ladies-in-waiting didn't dress like that, I know. Well, it doesn't really matter, anyway. I've got a lot of catching up to do. Be seeing you!"

And with that, it raced out of the library on all fours. Fox watched it go, still speechless. Only when it was out of sight did she succeed in breaking the silence.

"Just *what* have I done?"

* * * * *

Lexington landed softly on the roof of the building where the Maddox trade show was to be held. He slowly crept over to the edge and peered over. Night security was posted at each ground entrance and Lexington quickly took advantage of this by entering through a window on a vacated side. Making sure the window didn't make a sound while closing it, he quickly scampered up to the rafters of the warehouse and made his way around. Avoiding the security once more via ventilation ducts, he finally found the room where the trade show would be held, or at least where they were storing the Maddox Tech. devices until the day of the show. Oddly, there was no security in the room so Lex took this to his advantage, glided down into the room, and immediately began studying the devices in front of him. "Wow!" he shouted under his breath. He ran over to one of the gadgets that caught his eyes and ran a claw over the metallic surface of the device. "I would love to have on of these on my re-modified Pack helicopter. It's a state of the art VR topographical image renderer." He ran his fingers over various parts of it. "It's supposed to link up to a satellite and give a 100% accurate VR display of the surrounding area, the replacement for Night Vision. I didn't even think the military had perfected this technology yet. The guys don't know what they're missing." He frowned as his own words bit back at him. He quickly distracted himself with another device unaware of the constant whirring and clicking of video cameras over head.

Security man Gary Bates had already fallen out of his chair upon seeing the footage in the monitor. As he picked himself up off the floor he quickly hit the auto-dial button that read: Nicholas Maddox Office. The blinking light labeled "Warehouse Security" prompted Maddox to quickly hit the intercom button.

Although a bit astonished security would call at this hour, Maddox remained calm throughout the phone conversation. Gary, on the other hand, was far from calm.

"Yes?" Maddox said quickly. "Is there a problem?"

"E-eh, er, sir," Bates said shaken. "Y-you might wanna take a look at Camera Three." Using a remote Maddox quickly tapped into the security system via a giant monitor on the left side of his office. He scrolled through the channels of security cameras until...

"Fascinating," he said whispering in awe. Good thing he had chosen the intercom for he would surly have dropped the phone. He quickly walked up to the monitor and stood there for a few minutes watching as this humanoid creature, with wings attaching his arms to his hips, and talons and claws for feet and hands was playing with his devices.

"Do you want it evicted, sir?" came the voice of the guard once again. Maddox folded his hands together and placed his index fingers on his lips.

"No," he said calmly. "I'll handle this myself." After walking back over to his desk and hanging up the phone, Maddox took one last look at the screen. After a pause, the screen went off and Maddox quickly left the office.

* * * * *

Bronx walked into the television room and sprawled out in his usual "favorite spot", next to Hudson's recliner. He gave a contented sigh, and stretched himself out, so that he could be more comfortable.

He had only lain like this for a couple of minutes, however, when a series of high-pitched yips broke the silence. Bronx raised his head, to see Nudnik looking back at him, eagerly wagging his tail. The gargoyle beast puppy yapped some more at him, half-dancing about.

Bronx moaned, and lowered his head again, closing his eyes. He opened them again when Nudnik began tugging at one of his ears, stretching himself out in an almost feline manner. Bronx stared at the younger beast for a moment, then tried to bat him away, gently, with one front paw. Nudnik, not the least bit discouraged, simply trotted over to start pulling on Bronx's stub of a tail. Bronx moaned again. It was going to be a long night.

"Oh, boy, they've still got the big dumb gargoyle dogs living here," said an unfamiliar voice. It was a high-pitched, almost squeaky, and extremely annoying one. Bronx raised his head, and turned in the direction of the second pest. Then he rose to his feet and growled at the sight of the small gray creature that had walked into the room silently, now staring at him with huge yellow eyes.

"Lazy thing, aren't you?", it said. "As if it's not enough that you sleep all day, you have to sleep all night as well. When you're not eating, that is. You certainly look as if you enjoy your dog food."

Bronx walked slowly towards the newcomer, growling some more as he advanced. "Well, maybe you do other things besides sleeping and eating," it said. "Though not too many, I imagine. Typical, you've got to admit. Very little brain-power in there."

Nudnik also approached the odd little creature, sniffing at it curiously. Then he licked it.

"Sheesh!", muttered the creature, shaking itself dry. "Now I've got gargoyle dog drool all over me! Don't you have anything better to do than get slobber all over everything?"

Nudnik sniffed some more at the creature, then yipped at it. "Oh, so you want to play, do you?", it said. "Okay, then, let's play 'Turn the Tables on the Dumb Pet'." And with that, its form blurred, and altered. A moment later, a large gray cat stood in its place, staring at Nudnik and swishing its tail back and forth. The first cat that Nudnik had ever seen.

The gargoyle beast puppy yipped at the unfamiliar animal, and thrust its snout at it. The cat responded by batting at it with one front paw. It connected with Nudnik's nose, and the young animal immediately recoiled, yelping.

"Lesson Number One," said the creature, returning to its original form. "Kitty cats don't always have soft, velvety paws. Well, live and learn - although, in your case" - he took in both beasts here - "you just live."

Bronx charged at the intruder, snarling, his eyes blazing white. With astonishing nimbleness, it dodged, leaping over the bewildered animal's head onto the top of the armchair. "Nah nah nah nah nah nah, can't catch me!", it cried, and then stuck out its tongue, while simultaneously placing its hands to the side of its head, and waving its fingers up and down.

Bronx leaped at it in turn. The creature jumped off the recliner moments before the large beast collided with it, knocking it over onto its side. "Well, that was predictable," it commented, as Bronx pulled himself to his feet. "Once you've met one gargoyle dog, you've met them all!"

Bronx and Nudnik both galloped towards the creature, which watched their approach without a trace of concern. "Boy, you two are really hopeless," it said. "You couldn't catch me if I was a flea. Be seeing you!"

It raced out the doorway and into the corridor. Bronx and Nudnik followed it out, only to find the floor turning slippery beneath their feet. Skidding helplessly, they collided with a small table with a vase atop it, knocking it over. The vase landed on the floor and shattered into countless fragments.

Righting themselves, the two gargoyle beasts looked about for any sign of their tormentor. But it was nowhere to be seen.

* * * * *

Lexington was so immersed in the VR game that he was now playing that he did not hear the footsteps stealthily approaching behind him. He was too busy dodging the electronic lightning bolts whistling towards his jet fighter, while marveling at the high quality of the graphics. At this point, Jon Castaway could have been holding a noisy Quarryman rally only a few feet behind him, and he would never have noticed it.

"Is that the best that you can do?", he cried out to the latest blast of lightning to miss him. "Hah! Can't beat a pro, can you?"

It was just then that a ball of fire struck the nose of his plane head on. There was a flare of white light, simulating the explosion, and then the words "GAME OVER", in red letters, began to flash before his eyes. Lexington sighed, and removed the headset, carefully placing it back on the display table.

"Fascinating," said a voice from behind him, a cultivated one with a slight British accent. "Simply fascinating."

Lexington spun around in shock, to see a man staring at him interestedly. A tall thin man in a neatly-tailored business suit, probably some years older than Xanatos, but without any trace of gray in his dark hair or mustache. A wooden cane whose top had been carved into the shape of a hawk's head rested in his left hand. He gazed down at Lexington with a look of wonder in his light gray eyes.

Lexington shrank back against the display table, eyeing the open window by which he had entered, so far from where he now stood. The man smiled slightly, and said, "You needn't worry, little one. I'm not going to harm you. You must forgive me for slipping up on you like that. I was merely somewhat astonished. I didn't think that there really were beings like you in this city. "

Lexington stared up at him. "Wh-who are you?", he asked.

"My name is Nicholas Maddox," replied the man.

"Nicholas Maddox?", repeated Lexington, staring at him in awe. "The Nicholas Maddox of Maddox Technologies?"

"The same," answered the man, with a gentle nod. "So you have heard of me."

"You bet I have!", Lexington replied, with considerable enthusiasm. "I've been reading all about your company ever since it moved here to New York! I've followed all the latest announcements about your breakthroughs in the papers, I've visited your web site on the Internet, and - well, everything! The stuff that you've come up with makes even Xanatos Enterprise's gadgets look primitive! It's - it's - awesome!"

"I'm glad that you enjoy it," replied Mr. Maddox, still smiling. "I must confess, to the best of my knowledge this is the first time that a gargoyle has shown any appreciation of my company's products. It seems that just when you think that nothing can startle you, something happens that proves you wrong. And this is certainly one of those occasions. Imagine that: a gargoyle with a keen understanding of state-of-the-art technology."

"Well, I've always been interested in gadgets," said Lexington. "Why, when I was a hatchling, one of my older rookery sisters used to make such things all the time, and I liked to investigate them. And-" He stopped short, and looked at the man troubledly.

"But I don't wish to harm you," said Mr. Maddox, in a reassuring tone of voice. "I realize that you have good reason to be cautious around humans. One can hardly blame you, given the number of Quarrymen loose in New York these days. But I don't wish to harm you. Good gracious, no! Destroying you would be a tragic waste of a clearly very intelligent being, with a fine understanding of these modern-day sciences. The same that will bring the world triumphantly into the twenty-first century."

"I know," said Lexington. "It's just that - well, two years ago, when we first came here, I met up with some humans whom I thought wanted to be friends with me. Then they tricked me into bringing Go - our leader to meet them, so that they could hunt him for the fun of it. I don't want to go through something like that again."

"Oh, no fear of that," replied the businessman. "I can understand your caution. Being betrayed can be extremely painful, and I can hardly blame you for not wishing to undergo such an experience again. But I can assure you, I intend no harm for you or any other gargoyle in this city." He chuckled. "Truth to tell, how can I? Until I saw you tonight, I didn't even believe the stories about gargoyles living in New York. Oh, I knew about the news reports, but I assumed that it was nothing more than a hoax by WVRN to improve its ratings. Or something similar to the 'War of the Worlds' scare in 1938. Of course, ever since I moved here, I was pestered by reporters asking me what I thought about the presence of gargoyles in my new home. You seem to have become something of a cause celebre in Manhattan."

"Yes," said Lexington. "And most of the humans living here want to kill us, or stuff us in cages, as if we were animals."

Maddox shook his head. "So I've heard," he said. "And I'm sorry if you're hurt by it. Ignorance is so common in the world these days. Humans fear the unknown, and their way of handling it is to destroy it rather than to understand it. In every century, it's the same."

"We had problems like that before we - uh - moved here," said Lexington. "The humans that we lived with hated us, and never mind that we'd saved their bacon lots of times. They threw things at us and called us monsters."

"Dear me, I have awakened unhappy memories, haven't I?", said Maddox. "I'm sorry if I did so; I had no idea what it must have been like for you. Perhaps we should speak of more pleasant matters, such as these interests of yours. I can easily gather that you have a considerable fondness for technology. Tell me, do any of the other gargoyles in this city share your interest in it?"

Lexington shook his head. "I'm the only one," he said. "I tried getting the others to come here, but they weren't interested. So I had to come here alone."

"Really? I'm sorry to hear that." Maddox looked at him thoughtfully. "Well, this is no place to discuss such matters. The foyer is a mite too conspicuous. Perhaps we should repair to my office. We'll find much more privacy there."

"Hmm...", said Lexington, frowning. Then he nodded. "Okay," he said. "Just show me the way."

"Nothing easier," replied Maddox, with a gentle smile. "Follow me, my friend."

* * * * *

The boggart dashed out into the open air of the courtyard, still chuckling to itself. "Boy, those critters don't change much, do they? I'm gonna have a lot of fun with those two mutts. I wonder what I can do to them next."

Suddenly, it heard something, a voice speaking, off behind one of the hedges. It pricked up its ears, and listened, then nodded. "Well, well, well, fancy that," it said to itself. "I didn't think that that old geezer would still be around. I think that I'll just go and catch up with him. Maybe he's got some of those other winged things with him. They're always a riot."

It crawled through the hedge, and emerged into a square around a marble fountain, where five gargoyles were gathered. Two it recognized right away: the white-bearded one who was doing the speaking, and the distinctly overweight one who was in the audience. The other three, however - the pretty dark-haired female, and the two children - were new ones.

"There've definitely been some changes here while I was away," it said to itself. "Well, it doesn't matter. A gargoyle's a gargoyle. They're still a lot of fun to tease. Especially that fat stupid-looking one." It chuckled a little, and crept forward silently.

In the courtyard, Hudson was finishing another story about Castle Wyvern. "...Just how that creature got past the gates and into the castle, I still dinna know," Hudson said. "It can only have been sorcery. The lass said that it was something to do with that wandering minstrel and his lyre, but I never did get the whole story out of her. At least it vanished before it could do too much harm, and - "

"Hey, there, old-timer!", interrupted an unfamiliar voice. "Didn't expect to run into you tonight!"

Hudson halted his narrative, and glanced down in the direction of the heckler, somewhat annoyed. Then his eyes widened at it in disbelief, as did those of the other gargoyles. The strange creature on the ground in the midst of them stared back up at them, a sly look upon its features.

"What is that thing?", asked Graeme. "I've never seen it around the castle before."

"Well, I've never seen you around the castle before either," replied the creature, looking straight at the gargoyle boy, "so that makes us even." It then stared more intently at both Graeme and Ariana. "Say, you two do look kind of familiar," it said. "I'd know those beaks anywhere. You must be related to that wild and crazy guy I once saw here. The one who was always getting in mischief with his two friends. One of whom I'd know anywhere as well," it added, turning now towards Broadway. "Put on weight, have you?", it asked, jumping up on the bewildered gargoyle and poking him in his ample stomach. "And don't tell me that it's just baby fat, either. Looks as if your watchdog's got some competition in the face-stuffing business."

"Hey!", cried Broadway indignantly. He made a swipe at the creature, which nimbly dodged him, and landed neatly on a startled Angela's lap. "Soooo," it said, gazing up at her, "what're you doing tonight, babe?"

"I beg your pardon?", queried Angela sharply, looking at it in such a way as to indicate that she was definitely not amused by its behavior.

"Oh, playing hard to get, are you?", asked the creature. "Well, never mind. I'll check up on you another time. Later, toots!" And with that, it jumped off her lap, and trotted back over to Broadway, who was now glowering at it even more disapprovingly than before.

"And what do you think that you're doing?", the big gargoyle asked the creature sharply.

"Gee, did I make you jealous?", the creature asked. "Didn't even think that she was your girl-friend. Well, you've got good taste, though I can't say the same about her. What she sees in you is anybody's guess." It swelled up like a balloon to a fairly good imitation of Broadway's girth, as if to accentuate its remark.

"Okay, that's it!", cried Broadway, making a lunge at it. He grabbed it in both hands, then let out a cry of pain. The whatever-it-was had suddenly metamorphosed into a hedgehog. Broadway dropped the animal, a few of its quills still stuck in his hands. The hedgehog turned back into the odd little creature again, laughed, and scuttled off.

As Angela began to help Broadway extract the quills from his hands, Graeme and Ariana turned to look at Hudson. "What was that thing?", Ariana asked, after a moment's silence.

"I have a pretty good idea, lass," Hudson replied, rising to his feet. "And if it's what I think it is, then we'll be wanting to have a wee chat with our friend Owen Burnett."

He walked back towards the part of the castle that housed the great hall, a grim look upon his face. Angela, Broadway, and the twins followed close behind him.

In another part of the castle. "...And that's when the creature appeared, Owen," Fox was saying in the great hall. "It was the strangest thing that I've ever seen. Even the gargoyles can't compare with it. I certainly hadn't expected something like it to appear."

Owen frowned as he listened. "I very much suspect, ma'am, with all due respect, that you have done a possibly unwise thing. I would certainly not have advised your making use of any spell created by a mortal wizard."

"Why's that, Owen?"

"Because your own magical powers come from your mother, and are therefore natural to the Third Race. 'Gramarye' is the technical term for it, I believe. But the spells written in books of magic are powered by human sorcery. And when you mingle these two forms of magic together, the results are potentially catastrophic. That's why your husband advised me against using any spells from the Grimorum Arcanorum to break Demona's curse upon Manhattan last year, you may recall. It was too great a risk, even to save the entire human population of this city from almost certain destruction."

"So when I tried using that spell from the book," said Fox, "I got this - boggart, I think it called itself - rather than a genuine ghost, because of the clash between the two magical systems?"

"A boggart?", asked Owen, looking suddenly very much alarmed. "It was a boggart that you conjured up?"

"That was the word I heard it use," said Fox.

"This is not good news," said Owen. "I know about that creature. If it's loose in the castle, then..."

The doors were suddenly flung open, as Hudson stormed into the hall, Broadway, Angela, and the twins close behind him. The old gargoyle stomped straight up to Owen, who now turned to face him with something closer to his usual impassive countenance. "Is anything the matter?", the major-domo inquired.

"I'll say that there is!", Hudson retorted, his eyes starting to glow. "Was that pest that bothered us in the courtyard part of one of yer magic lessons with the wee bairn again?"

"So you've already come across it?", asked Owen.

"Indeed we have," Hudson replied. "And this had better not be yer doing, this time. We've had more than enough of your tricks, thank ye, and they were bad enough without bringin' the boggart back!"

"You actually know about it, Hudson?", Fox broke in.

Hudson turned to face her. "That I do, lass, and much to my grief. That boggart came to the castle back in Princess Katharine's day, and ran amuck in it, causin' all sorts of trouble. An' it would have still been botherin' us by the time that the Vikings came, if the Magus hadn't banished it!"

"Banished it?", inquired Fox.

"Sent it away somewhere," said Hudson. "I'm nae sure just where. The less I have to do with magic, the better for me."

Owen nodded thoughtfully, having listened to the Scottish gargoyle's account with considerable interest on his face. "I've heard about something like that," he said. "So that was what became of the boggart. I'd heard rumors, but hadn't been certain as to how accurate they were until now."

"Rumors about what?", asked Fox. "And just what is a boggart anyway, Owen?"

"Yes, we've never heard of one," put in Ariana. "Just what is it?"

"Well, you might describe it as a sort of household pet that Oberon once had on Avalon," said the manservant. "Unfortunately, the creature quickly got out of hand. It roamed about the palace, making so much mischief that before long, everyone wanted to see it gone, including Oberon himself."

"Don't like gettin' a taste of yer own medicine, do ye?", Hudson commented.

"There are some things that even Oberon's Children have to draw the line at," replied Owen, with a slight cough. "And this was one of them. Oberon hadn't been this angry since the rebellion of the Banished Ones."

"Who were the Banished Ones?", interrupted Graeme.

"Trust me, Master Graeme, you do not want to know about them," said the bespectacled major-domo, suddenly looking a little apprehensive. He glanced about him uncomfortably before continuing. "Hope that you will never meet them."

"At any rate, Oberon had the boggart expelled from Avalon, permanently. After that, it must have wandered about freely, presumably in Scotland, annoying everyone that it came into contact with. Until it came to Castle Wyvern. Judging from what Hudson has just told us, I assume that the Magus must have magically banished it to some sort of pocket dimension, to completely imprison it. Until it was accidentally released."

"By you?", asked Hudson sharply, fixing him with a baleful stare from his one good eye.

"By me, actually," said Fox, speaking up. "It was an accident. I'll explain later."

The gargoyles glanced at her for a moment. Then Angela spoke.

"So now we have a trickster running loose in the castle?", she asked.

"It is a prankster, not a trickster, Miss Angela," replied Owen, with a slightly hurt look on his face, and a tone of pained dignity in his voice. "There *is* a difference."

Bronx and Nudnik suddenly entered the hall, both looking somewhat out of sorts. "What's up with you guys?", asked Graeme, turning to them. "Did you meet the boggart too?"

"Judgin' from the looks of them, I'd say that they most definitely have," said Hudson.

* * * * *

Lexington settled himself down in the armchair facing Mr. Maddox's seat at the desk in his office. Thanks to his small size, he was only barely able to see over the desk when seated like a human, so he finally had to half-crouch on the seat. Mr. Maddox sat opposite him.

"So, tell me a little about yourself," he said.

"Well, as I said," Lex answered, "I've been fascinated by devices for a long time. When we first came to Manhattan, there was all this new magic stuff around, the stuff that the humans called technology. Like motorcycles. I found one the first night that my rookery brothers and I explored the city, and just had to try it out."

"And just how did it go?", asked Maddox.

"Not too well, actually," said Lexington, looking a little sheepish. "I accidentally drove it into a wall. Oh, I got away safely, but I can't say the same for the bike. The thing went up in flames."

Maddox shook his head. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"And after that, I just had to try building one myself," the little olive-green gargoyle continued. "It took a while to build, and the thing got broken before I ever got a chance to ride it. But it was kind of fun."

Maddox nodded. "Very intriguing," he said. "I must admit, I am impressed. I'd never even imagined that a gargoyle would have such a grasp on these matters. Absolutely fascinating."

"I'm not sure that the others think so," muttered Lexington sourly. "Oh, it's one thing when they need my help in bypassing security alarms or handling a tracking device. But it's another thing when we're just having a quiet night out. Well, it used to be different. My rookery brothers and I used to go out and do things together whenever we could: movies, rock concerts, that sort of thing. But then we started to break up. They've got mates now and spend most of their time with them. They barely even notice me any more. I'm just the lowly 'techno-geek'."

Maddox sighed, and shook his head. "So they exclude you, do they?", he asked.

"Kind of," said Lexington. "Maybe they don't intend to, but that's what they do all the same. I tried to talk my clan-mates into coming here. They weren't interested." He gave an indignant snort. "They probably wouldn't be able to appreciate it, anyway. They just don't understand these things." He heaved another sigh, and stared down at the surface of the desk.

"I can understand how you feel," said Maddox, looking thoughtfully at him.

"You do?", asked Lexington, looking up at the man's concerned face.

Maddox nodded. "It can be very painful when your family turns its back on you," he said. "Extremely painful. Trust me, there is nothing worse than being alone." He placed one hand on the small gargoyle's shoulder, as he spoke, an almost tender look in his gray eyes.

"Thanks," said Lexington. Then a thought struck him. "Do you have a family, Mr. Maddox?"

"Not exactly," the man replied. "I'm a widower - I've been one for some time now. I've a son living in Europe, but we've drifted apart. I haven't seen him in years." His face bore a troubled look on it, as he spoke.

"I - I'm sorry, Mr. Maddox," said Lexington, after a moment's silence. "I didn't know...".

"Well, better not to dwell on such things," the businessman continued. "Lexington, listen to me. I know that your race has little reason to trust humans. You've met with countless misfortunes at their hands: the betrayals, the massacres, the crusades directed against you. The Quarrymen now abroad in Manhattan are only the latest incarnation of their hatred. And if you choose to suspect me as well, I can hardly blame you. But I wish to be your friend, if you'll let me. There is so much that we can share."

"Really?", asked Lexington, a look of keen interest now shining in his enormous eyes.

"Quite so," said Maddox. "I keep to myself most of the time, you see. My Executive Vice-President, Mavis O'Connor, handles my company's public relations; she does all the interacting with the media. I live alone, and while I don't mind it most of the time, there are occasions when it does weigh upon me. It would make a pleasant change to have somebody to discuss things with. The only thing that Ms. O'Connor and I ever seem to talk about nowadays is our company strategy. With you, I can talk about something else. And you can be the first to learn about many of our latest products, the ones that we aren't ready to unveil before the public. I think that you'd be surprised at what we can create here at Maddox Technologies."

"Such as the latest VR breakthroughs?", Lexington asked eagerly.

Maddox chuckled. "Trust me, my friend," he said. "Virtual Reality is the least of what this company has to offer. We've got more than that on the drawing-boards, much more. In fact, we've almost got what you could call a revolution on the way. It's been delayed, but the time is rapidly approaching when we can astonish the world by what we can achieve."

"I can hardly wait to see it," said Lexington, almost breathless now as he leaned forward. "You will show it to me, won't you, Mr. Maddox?"

"Call me Nicholas," replied Maddox, still smiling. "And yes, when we're ready, you'll be the first person to enjoy it. I can promise you that."

* * * * *

"So just how do we find this boggart, anyway?", asked Broadway.

"You don't find it," Owen replied. "It's more likely to find you."

"You've got that right," said a familiar voice from the far end of the hall. The boggart was now floating in mid-air there, looking casually at them. "Hey, this is obviously where all the action is! Where else would I be?"

"Okay, we've got you now!", cried Broadway eagerly. "Come on, let's get him!" And with that, he charged straight towards the creature, Bronx and Nudnik close behind him.

"Wait, lad!", cried a concerned Hudson. "That's not quite the way to go about catching' a boggart!"

Broadway and the two gargoyle beasts showed no signs of having heard him, however. They thundered straight towards the intruder, which, having floated down to the tiled floor by now, watched them approach unconcernedly. They were almost upon it when it finally leaped to one side. Unable to stop because of their momentum, Broadway, Bronx, and Nudnik collided with the wall, landing in a confused heap. The boggart looked at them for a moment, then blew a raspberry at them and scuttled off towards one of the tapestries.

Broadway picked himself up, rubbing his head with a scowl. The other gargoyles dashed up to him. "Broadway, are you all right?", asked Angela concernedly.

"I will be, once I get my hands on him!", replied the large gargoyle, glaring at the creature. It had now shinnied up the tapestry in question, and was making faces at them. Broadway glowered back at it, his eyes glowing white. "You come down from there!", he bellowed.

"Uh uh," answered the boggart, shaking its head. "I like it up here. Gives me a great view of everything. Why would I want to come down?"

"All right, then, we'll just have to make you come down!", Broadway shouted. But Bronx and Nudnik were already acting. The two of them had dashed up to the tapestry, and were now tugging on it, its bottom clenched tightly in their jaws. The boggart glanced down at them, almost bored for a moment, then shrugged its shoulders. "Okay, if you two want it that much, then you can have it!", it said. And with that, it loosened the top of the tapestry, then leaped across the room, to land neatly on its feet on the other side. The tapestry fell down on top of the two animals, enveloping them completely.

Owen frowned, and shook his head. "That tapestry was a very valuable one," he said with a sigh. "Mr. Xanatos will not be pleased with this when he returns. Somehow, these gargoyle beasts always seem to wreak havoc with the decor."

Bronx and Nudnik quickly freed themselves from the tapestry, though not without ripping it badly in the process. They and Broadway now charged after the boggart, colliding with several pieces of furniture in the hall in the process. The creature looked back every now and then, to give some sort of taunting laugh, then raced on, gleefully ignoring the wreckage that its pursuers were leaving in their wake. Angela sighed, and rolled her eyes upwards at the spectacle. "Hatchlings," she commented.

Fox turned to Owen concernedly, after looking at the destruction. "Aren't you going to do something about this?", she cried.

"Not by turning into Puck, if that is what you mean, ma'am," he replied. "Remember the strictures that your stepfather placed upon me. I can only use my powers to protect or to train young Alexander. And since he is currently asleep, and in no danger whatsoever from the boggart, I am unable to intervene in that fashion."

"Thanks for telling me that!", came an all-too-familiar voice from just to the left of Owen. He looked down, frowning, to see an aardvark looking up at him, a sly twinkle in its eye, standing just underneath an end table with a vase atop it.

"Might I ask why you have chosen to assume that particular form?", Owen asked the aardvark sharply.

The boggart-turned-aardvark shrugged. "It seemed appropriate, somehow. I'm not sure why; it just was." It changed back into its original form. "At any rate, now I know whom not to bother in this castle. The kid! I can tease everyone else here all I want, but not him! So you can't use him to zap me back. So what d'you think of that, Puck?"

Broadway made another charge at it, seeing it there. "Uh-oh," said the creature, glancing in his direction. "Gotta go! Been nice talking with you, Puck! Or is it Owen now? Oh, well, I'll have lots of time to figure it out! Be seeing you!"

It leaped away from the table just moments before Broadway crashed into it. Owen hurriedly snatched the vase in mid-air before it could land on the floor, breathing a sigh of relief afterwards. Righting himself, Broadway made another lunge at the boggart, this time colliding with a suit of armor, knocking it apart with a loud metallic clamor.

Owen shook his head, and looked at Fox, Hudson, and Angela, all three of whom were looking on with equal exasperation at the antics of the boggart's pursuers, which now included the twins as well. "I very much fear that this is going to be a long night," he said.

* * * * *

"I really must be on my way," said Lexington concernedly, glancing at the clock on the office wall. "Dawn's less than hour away and the others are probably wondering where I am." Or they would if they even knew I was gone

"Hmm...", said Maddox, taking a look at the time himself. "Yes, you're probably right. It is amazing how quickly the hours speed by when you find yourself in the middle of a good conversation."

He rose from his chair, and walked over to one of the office windows, raising it. Lexington hopped down from his own chair, and sped over to it, climbing up onto the sill.

"You can glide safely back to your home from here, I presume?", asked Mr. Maddox.

"Yes, Nicholas," said Lexington. "The air currents seem just about right for that. Well, good-bye, then, and thanks for everything!"

"Wait!", cried Maddox. Lexington paused and turned around.

"I just wanted to tell you," the businessman said to him, "that you are welcome to visit my office any time that you wish. I'm usually here after sunset, and I generally don't get visitors at night. You'd be good company. Maybe next time, I can give you a tour of the facilities, and let you have a preview of some of our upcoming products. I'm sure that you'd appreciate it, wouldn't you?"

Lexington nodded eagerly. "Oh, yes, I would!", he cried. "Thank you very much, Nicholas!"

"Let me know of your visits ahead of time, so that I can prepare for your arrival," Maddox continued. "Then I can plan things accordingly so that I'm not likely to have other matters to attend to. Making certain that a board meeting isn't scheduled for that night, or a private conference with Mavis. Do you think that you can do that?"

"I certainly do," said Lexington. "Maybe some time next week?"

"That sounds good enough for me," said Maddox. "We can arrange the details later on."

Lexington sprang off the sill, and caught the nearest air current. Soon he was gliding away from the Maddox Technologies building. Briefly he turned around, to wave farewell to his new friend one last time. And then, he made his way back towards the Eyrie Building.

Nicholas Maddox watched him go, then closed the window, and walked back to his desk, still smiling.

* * * * *

The boggart walked into the kitchen, looking about and licking its chops. "Well...," it said, after observing its surroundings in delighted silence for a couple of minutes, "they've certainly made a lot of improvements here. There must be enough food in here to feed a small army. I could settle in quite nicely."

It strolled over to the refrigerator and snapped its fingers. The doors to it opened of their own accord, and much of the food inside floated out, alighting neatly on the table in the middle of the room. The boggart nodded approvingly, and scurried up the nearest table leg to inspect the feast, smacking its lips in anticipation.

"All right, you!" Broadway stood in the doorway of the kitchen, flanked by Bronx on one side, Nudnik on the other. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Hullo there," said the boggart. "Care to join me for dinner? There ought to be enough food here to satisfy even you three."

"You put that stuff back where you found it, you - you freeloader!", cried Broadway, advancing towards the table.

"Aw, come on now, share, won't you?", protested the boggart. "Can't I at least have some of the pie?" It pointed to a chocolate creme pie just in front of it, while staring at the indignant gargoyle with a "puppy-dog-eyes" look on its face.

"Definitely not!", Broadway retorted. "That's for Family Night in the Sanctuary! Not for you!"

The boggart sighed. "All right, then, have it your way," it said. "You want it that much, you can have it." And with that, it picked up the pie, and hurled it straight into Broadway's face.

Broadway staggered back, trying to wipe the mess off himself. The boggart laughed aloud, then grabbed hold of a head of lettuce and a few tomatoes, clutching them in its hands. "Here, big guy!", it called to him. "Catch!" And it threw the vegetables at him. As it did so, it commented, "Now this is giving a whole new meaning to 'tossed salad'."

Most of the tomatoes missed Broadway, and landed on the floor, splattering all over it. Bronx and Nudnik began to eat their remains eagerly, while Broadway stumbled about. Finally, having cleared the pie out of his eyes, he lunged again at the food-laden table and the boggart atop it. "Why, you, you, you...", he bellowed.

"Moi?", replied the boggart innocently. It jumped from the table onto the kitchen counter, just as Broadway crashed into the same table hard, spilling most of the rest of the food on it onto the floor. The resulting mess was even worse than before, but the two gargoyle beasts hardly seemed to mind. They headed over to it and started cleaning it up with considerable gusto.

"Oh, boy, this is even more fun than last time!", cried the boggart, laughing hysterically. "I just know that I'm going to love it here! I don't think that I ever want to leave - not that anybody could ever make me, mind you." And it leaped down to the floor.

"You're not going to make me look like an idiot!", growled Broadway, heading towards it. Then he suddenly slipped on a half-squashed orange, and landed face forward on the floor, with a resounding thud.

The boggart rocked with laughter some more. "I don't have to!", it said. "Mother Nature already beat me to it!" And with that, it picked up a still-intact apple, walked over to Broadway, pulled his mouth open, and thrust the apple into it. "Love the new look!", it cried with delight. "Does it ever suit you!" And with that, it tore out of the kitchen.

Broadway helped himself up, spitting the apple out of his mouth and growling. "Why, you little - ", he began. Then he stopped short, as the silence was broken by a disapproving cough. Owen was standing in the doorway now, looking down at the devastation that now filled the kitchen, and at Bronx and Nudnik who were still helping themselves to the food splattered all over the floor.

"Hey, the boggart did it, not me!", Broadway protested. "You should tell it to clean up this mess!"

"Judging from what I've seen so far tonight," the bespectacled man replied, "you doubtless had a hand in creating this." He glanced over at the two gargoyle beasts. "And you are not helping that much, either," he said to them sharply. "I've had enough experience already wiping your slobber up off the floor."

"The boggart was here?", asked Angela, as she, Fox, the twins, and Hudson entered the kitchen.

Owen sighed. "What do you think?", he asked, indicating the demolished kitchen. "At the rate that things are going here, Mr. Xanatos will be extremely fortunate to come back to a recognizable home."

"Not if we can get that little pest first!", shouted Broadway, his eyes blazing white.

"Um, lad, I dinna think that we can lay all the blame for this destruction at the boggart's door," Hudson said quietly. "At least, not directly."

"What do you mean by that, anyway?", asked Broadway.

"What he means is," said Angela gently, "most of the chaos is due to your trying to catch the creature. You probably did more damage than it did on its own."

"But I - ", Broadway began. Then he looked about him. "Maybe you're right, Angela," he said, a sheepish look dawning on his face. "I guess that I was a little clumsy while chasing it."

"So how are we going to catch it?", asked Ariana. "It's too fast for us."

Angela was silent for a moment, a thoughtful expression in her eyes. "Owen?", she asked. "Is the boggart one of Oberon's Children?"

"In a way, yes," he replied. "It's rather complicated, but essentially, it is a member of the Third Race."

"So that means that it's vulnerable to iron?", she asked.

"I believe so," said Owen. "I don't know for certain, but it's a reasonable assumption to make."

"Then I have an idea," said the young female gargoyle, looking about her before speaking in a low voice.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, Lexington had just arrived on the scene. Being sure to avoid the cameras this time he quickly made his way back into the castle. Unaware of the chaos proceeding throughout the rest of Wyvern's walls he made his way back to the computer room with stealth. Letting out a sigh of relief that he didn't have to confront anybody on his way in, he logged back onto the net. The computer dinged as his E-mail notification came on the screen.

Subject: So where do you want to meet?
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 1996 5:01:15 EST

Hey Lex, it's Liz!
So which night and where in Manhattan do you wanna meet to go... Gargoyle watching? Here's my phone number, why don't you give me a call sometime if you ca-

Lex suddenly turned away from the computer upon hearing a loud crash. After shutting down the computer Lex got up an ran out towards where the sound was coming from.

* * * * *

The boggart had settled itself down again in the half-devastated great hall, looking about at the shredded tapestries and broken furniture with an amused gleam in its eyes. "Boy, what a mess," it said to itself. "They obviously don't know how to take proper care of this place. Oh, well, that's what comes of having gargoyles under your roof." It chuckled to itself.

"Hello," said Angela, walking up to it just then, alone. She looked down at the boggart, smiling at it in a coy manner. "You don't mind my being here, do you?"

"Not at all, babe," the boggart replied cheerfully. "Feel free to stay as long as you like. It's just fine with me."

"I was just wondering," said Angela, sitting down beside it, still smiling pleasantly at it. "You really do seem to be very clever. I mean, with everyone in the castle trying to capture you, you've managed to elude them all. I really am impressed, too. Just how do you do it?"

"Oh, it's no problem at all, really," said the boggart, a slightly fatuous look stealing over its features. "Particularly when the folks trying to catch you are smarter during their stone sleep than when they're awake. Hey, anybody could run rings around that boy-friend of yours any day of the week! No offence, mind you."

"But it's not just Broadway," Angela continued. "You've managed to elude everyone in the castle, including Owen. And Mr. Burnett is ever so much more clever than Broadway. Why, I don't think that there's anything in the world that you can't escape from! Except maybe a closed box."

"Uh-uh," the boggart replied, shaking its head. "No way, toots. I can get out of a closed box, no problem at all."

"Such as this one?", asked Angela, holding out a small metal box in one hand and setting it down on the floor.

"No problem at all, sweetie!", replied the boggart eagerly, shaking its head. "Just stand back, and watch a professional at work!" And with that, it hopped neatly into the box. "Close the lid, and then you'll see some action!", it called out.

"Very well, then," said Angela. She closed the lid, and latched it neatly, then waited.

"Okay, in just three seconds, I'll be out of here," said the boggart's muffled voice from within. "You'll see. One, two, three!" Then came some bumping sounds, as the box jumped about on the floor a bit. "Hey!", cried the creature at last. "What's going on here, anyway? Why aren't I out of here yet?"

"Surprise!", cried Angela gleefully. She rose up and turned to face one of the doors. "It worked!", she called out.

"Oh, no!", cried the boggart. "You didn't, did you? Not the old iron box trick! I can't believe that I fell for it!" The box leaped about for a bit longer, as the other gargoyles, Fox, and Owen entered the room. "Women," it finally muttered sourly. "You just can't trust them, can you?"

"Clever thinking, lass," said Hudson to Angela appreciatively. "I doubt that he'll be botherin' us for quite a while."

"Yeah, good job, Angela," put in Broadway. "Wish I'd remembered that iron business."

"So what do we do with it now, Aunt Angela?", asked Graeme. "We can't just keep it here, after all."

"I know!", cried Ariana. "Let's take it over to Quarryman Central! We can leave it on their doorstep with a note saying that it's an early Christmas present for Mr. Castaway!"

"Yeah!", cried Graeme eagerly. "That'll be fun!"

"Or we could take it over to Demona's house...", began Broadway, then suddenly trailed off, as he noticed the sharp glance that Angela was giving him. "Um, sorry," he said, looking embarrassed again. "I'd kind of forgotten about her being your mother."

"I really don't think that it would be a good idea to send this boggart to anybody, even the Quarrymen," said Angela. "It's much too dangerous. We can't let this thing loose anywhere in Manhattan at all - particularly not since we're supposed to be protecting this city."

"The lass is right," agreed Hudson. "We'd best keep this thing locked away permanently."

"But not here," said Owen. "There are too many risks of somebody opening that box by mistake, and releasing the boggart. The best thing to do is to do what the Magus did a thousand years ago. Banish it once more."

"But how do we do that, anyway?", asked Angela.

"That is where you come in, ma'am," said Owen, turning to Fox. "Only the person who recalled the boggart from the pocket dimension that the Magus imprisoned it in can send it back there. You will have to re-banish it."

"But how, Owen?", Fox asked him. "I can't even manage to light up a candle properly yet. And it sounds to me as if sending that thing back is a lot more complicated."

"Not necessarily," said Owen. "You can reverse the spell, after all."

"Reverse it?", cried Fox. "But isn't that spell precisely what caused all the trouble in the first place?"

"Yes," said Owen. "But this is a unique situation. All that you will do by reading the spell backwards is to undo the effects of the original incantation, with no other result. This is the one occasion in which it is perfectly safe."

"Well, if you say so, Owen," said Fox, taking the box from Angela. "Then let's see about doing it right away."

A few minutes later, the gargoyles, Fox, and Owen were standing in the library. Bronx and Nudnik were still in the kitchen, continuing to polish off the spilled food on the floor, but their presence was hardly required. Fox had handed the box to Owen, and now had the spell book open in her hands to the same page.

"Just read it backwards, ma'am," said Owen. "That should send the boggart back to that pocket dimension very effectively."

"Do I read the sentences backwards, or the words?", asked Fox, looking over the incantation.

"The sentences will be sufficient, I believe," Owen replied.

"Hey!", protested the boggart from inside the box. "You're not serious about sending me back there, are you? It's no fun there! Nobody to tease, nobody to bother! Boo-rinnngggg! Come on, let me stay, pleeassseeee!"

"Out of the question," said Owen to it sharply. He signaled to Fox, who began to read aloud.

"Come on, have a heart, people!", the boggart whined. "I promise, I'll only pester you once every week! Or maybe once every month! You can live with that, can't you?" Its voice was now growing fainter. "I'll help in the kitchen! I'll dust the furniture! I'll scare the pigeons away from you in the daytime! Just don't send me aw-"

And then, complete silence. Owen gingerly opened the box. All that remained inside it was a flicker of blue light, which quickly vanished altogether.

"Is it gone for good?", asked Graeme.

"Yes," said Owen. "I don't think that it should be troubling us any more." He closed the box again, and placed it on the table.

Fox replaced the book on the shelf. "And I'm keeping a safe distance from anything like this from now on, Owen," she said. "The last thing that this castle needs is another night like this one."

"So you're not going to make any more use of mortal magic?", Owen asked her.

"Absolutely," said Fox. "I'll stick with my mother's legacy from now on, if I'm going to do any magic at all."

"Thank you, ma'am," said Owen, a slight smile on his face. "You've just passed Lesson Number Two."

"Lesson Number - ", Fox began, staring at her husband's aide a trifle suspiciously. "Well, never mind. What are we going to do about the mess in the great hall and the kitchen? I certainly don't want it around when David gets back."

"Well, I'd say that we do have one volunteer for that," said Hudson, looking sharply at an uneasy Broadway.

"At least Bronx and Nudnik must have cleaned up the kitchen floor," put in Ariana with a grin.

"There is always the possibility that young Alexander might awake briefly before Mr. Xanatos returns," said Owen. "And if he does, I can easily fit in a lesson with the child to help with the cleaning-up."

"Well, we're nae goin' to get anything done standin' around talkin'," said Hudson. "Let's get a start on things, shall we?" Lexington came running in at this point.

"Thank goodness I found you guys," he said quickly "What's with all the noise? I leave you guys alone for the night and the entire castle is an even bigger mess than when I left you in the courtyard." All of them spoke up at once trying to tell the entire chaotic story of what had just transpired.

"And where were you this whole time," Angela asked raising her voice above all the others. Lexington quickly thought up an excuse.

"I guess I got carried away on the computer. You know me, you guys probably forgot I was even here," Lex said quickly. Just then Goliath, Brooklyn, and Sata walked in the room.

"What happened here?" Goliath and Brooklyn said at the same time. Everybody burst into laughter leaving the two leaders in an awkward moment.

* * * * *

"I'm going to have to make a new chocolate creme pie tomorrow night," commented Broadway as he climbed up onto his perch. "The boggart ruined the one I was saving for Family Night."

"Really?", asked Brooklyn. "How did it do that?"

"It threw it right into my face," said Broadway. "Hey!", he added, as the red gargoyle began to grin. "I don't see anything the least bit funny about that!"

"Nor I," said Goliath, with a slightly pained tone of voice. The way in which he said it made the other gargoyles stare at him bewilderedly, except for Hudson, who was doing his best not to laugh.

"Don't worry," Xanatos said to Goliath who was getting ready for the rising sun. "Fox and I will take care of the rest of the mess, thank you for your help." Lexington quickly jumped up on his perch and sighed, depressed.

"I was right," he thought to himself. "They don't even know I exist... Now I am truly all alone," Lexington quickly reflected over the nights events recalling his E-mail from Liz and his new friend who appreciated his love for technology. And as the sun poured out over the Manhattan rooftops and the gargoyles turned to stone and took on horrific poses, except for Lexington. He had a little smile on his face and suddenly no longer felt lonely.