For my own, Pausania is about to make her entrance in A Symposium in Space…
Swallowing a sigh, I turned to face Pausania.
She glided into the room with a lazy grace, loose leggings swishing around her slender limbs. As always, she managed not to drag the tassels at the ends of them across her floor. The pants matched the fawn-colored blouse she wore. Tawny beads weighed down the edges of the tunic.
Pausania’s attire was usually a compromise between fashionable and comfortable. Her blouse complemented her auburn hair, falling in thick, luxuriant waves over her shoulders.
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Quartz finds his chair is gone. He’s left standing in the mists with no seat. There’s not even a red curtain.
Quartz: Eh? (He turns a bleary eye, wondering if this is one of Nimmie Not’s tricks, but even the kobold respects the curtain.)
The mists part to reveal the same steps leading up to a dais surrounded by four pillars. A woman with no trace of youth or old age upon her unnaturally smooth, tight skin cuts a striking, if angular figure in her silky white pants, high-necked gray tunic, and white jacket. Her short silvery gray hair falls across her forehead in a wavy fashion you might recognize from the early 1980s.
Eryximachia: (looking straight at the audience with cold gray eyes) It’s called New Wave, the way my hair looks. I’m honoring our foremothers from Ancient Earth. They cut their formerly long hair in the late 20th century to celebrate a new wave of thinking, a wave carrying them away from the prejudices of patriarchy to freedom. Not that is lasted.
Err, is that so? (The scribbler recalls seeing pop stars and actresses with the same hair in the early 1980s, wonders if this was really their motivation. Since I created Eryximachia, I know better than to get into an argument, err, engage her on this subject.) No buttons fasten Eryximachia’s gray jacket or tunic. They float around both in the shape of silver stars.
Quartz stares at the floating buttons. Blinks. Rubs his eyes.
Quartz: How do you get your jacket fastened with buttons like that?
Eryximachia: (lifting a nose, curling thin lips) Hmph! I’m not sure which is more appalling, your ignorance or your complete lack of fashion. I suppose the latter should be obvious, judging from all that hair on your chin. What are you supposed to be, a man from Ancient Earth?
Quartz: (the hair on the chin in question bristles) You’re a fine one to talk about ignorance, thinking a dwarf is a man. I’ll have you know that this is a beard. A fine beard is a sign of beauty. A beard is a dwarf’s pride and joy. I don’t think much of your people, woman, or their fashion if they don’t have beards.
Eryximachia: Open your mouth and folly fills the air. (sniffs) I am not a woman, dwarf. I am a lifer. I shudder to think of where you come from, to use such archaic terms. You must be some riff-raff from the fringes of the galaxy Sokrat collected.
Quartz: Ah, Sokrat. You’re from her universe. (grumbles) Typical scribbler. She does a cross-over with Sokrat’s universe and does she let me see Sokrat again? No, she decides to throw me together with this Oriana-wannabe.
Eryximachia: Hmph! I have no connection to any Oriana, whatever that is. I happen to be Agathea’s spiritual therapist. (She pauses for dramatic emphasis.) The Agathea.
Quartz: That supposed to impress me?
Eryximachia: (nostrils flaring in outrage) Of course it’s supposed to impress you! Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Agathea?!
Quartz: Huh, name sounds familar, not sure where. This Agathea is a she, right?
Eryximachia: Not just any she! Agathea is a she among shes, the foremost citizen of the Intergalactic Democracy! No other she can compare with her!
Quartz: Right. Bet my Fairest is twice the she of your she. Huh, Agathea, oh, right. The orb. I once talked to her orb.
Eryximachia: She has many orbs if I interpret your nonsense correctly, dwarf.
Quartz: The name’s Quartz. And my nonsense is talking to secondary characters like you and your Agathea’s orb in A Symposium in Space.
Eryximachia: You cannot recall Agathea, yet you know of her orbs and her symposium.
Quartz: Right. She was talking to Christopher last week. Not that I was listening. His conversations put me to sleep. Still say your Agathea doesn’t hold a candle to my Fairest.
Eryximachia: What need has Agathea of candles when she can draw the light of a billion stars to herself? All the eyes of the galaxy are upon her.
Quartz: Right. Mine are closing.
Eryximachia: You may mock me, dwarf, but being the nexus of such illumination is a heavy burden. Especially when you possess exceptional, ah, appetites.
Quartz: Huh. You mean like Christopher’s?
Eryximachia: I know nothing of this Christopher you keep babbling of or her connection to Agathea.
Quartz: Christopher is not a her, no, never mind.
Eryximachia: I do mind. I am annoyed by your rudeness, your lack of sensitivity. Do try to comprehend in your tiny mind for a moment what it’s like to be a beautiful and discerning soul with specific needs. Needs which can’t always be meet in a plethora of stars and planets filled with citizens chattering at you.
Quartz: (snorts) You talking about Agathea or yourself?
Eryximachia: Agathea, of course! Although yes, as her lover as well as her spiritual therapist, I feel her pain.
Quartz: Right. Just what are you doing about it?
Quartz: You say you’re Agathea’s lover. Not sure what in the ruddy shards a spirtual therapist is, but it sounds like Agathea’s well-being is a matter of concern. Or something.
Eryximachia: Of course. (Color rises in her pale cheeks.) Concern for Agathea’s well-being was why I suggested the symposium Agathea is having. To refresh her spirits.
Quartz: Eh? You’re the one who suggested the symposium?
Eryximachia: Indeed. I just wish Agathea had been a bit more selective about whom she invited. Some of her guests are crude. Sokrat may always offer refreshing eloquence, but trouble follows her wherever she goes. I fear it may have the impudence to crash our symposium.
Quartz: Heh, not sure whether that’s funny or I feel sorry for you. Hard keeping trouble away when it lands on your door. If it crashes into you, well, that’s just unfair.
Eryximachia: Indeed. Sokrat has always kept questionable company, but now that she’s being stalked by space pirates, she’s a positive menace.
Quartz: (brindles) Don’t go blaming Sokrat for the space pirates! Maybe she can’t help the company she keeps, eh? Maybe it just shows up in a mine shaft, bells on its toes, dancing around her, and she finds herself amused in spite of her better judgment. Aye, he may be stalking you, but you can’t help finding the kobold a wee bit attractive and is that your fault?
Eryximachia: Just what are you babbling about this time?
Quartz: Did I say kobold? I meant space pirate. Of course I meant space pirate. Why would I mention kobolds?
A red curtain drops upon Eryximachia’s head. She lets out a squawk. All the buttons fall to the ground as does Eryximachia’s jacket, tunic, and trousers. She grabs the curtain, wraps it around herself, preserving her modesty in a hasty moment of improvisation.
The kobold Quartz wasn’t mentioning is nowhere to be seen, but his voice rings out above Eryximachia’s head.
Nimmie Not: Red curtain meets anti-gravity! Red curtain wins!
Eryximachia: (glaring at the space above her head, then at Quartz) How dare you! What is the meaning of this insult?
Nimmie Not: Meaning means invisible kobolds Quartz wonders why he would mention!
Quartz: (sighing, yet not seeming all that displeased) Wasn’t me doing the insult. Not this time. Meet Nimmie Not. My kobold or pirate stalker.
Nimmie Not: Ah, my dear Quartz, you just admitted that I am yours! This is reason enough to repay insults slung at you by spiritual therapists. Spiritual therapists without any clothes! Tut, tut, you need a magic stronger than anti-gravity to stay dressed!
Eryximachia: Anti-gravity is not magic. (She draws herself up with some dignity, in spite of still clutching the curtain around herself.) And I am Eryximachia, no less a spiritual therapist whether I’m clothed or not.
Quartz: Right. I’m Quartz. Guess we should have introduced ourselves before the insults. Just what is a spirtual therapist?
Eryximachia: And you insult me yet again, Quartz. A spirtual therapist soothes the wrongs not so easily defined by flesh or science. Not that I have any hopes of having an enlightened conversation on the subject. Not with you and your Nimmie Not reducing this discussion to cheap gags.
Nimmie Not: Tut, tut! That’s what happens when you insult my dwarf! And I’ll tut you again!
Eryximachia: (blinking at the empty space) Your dwarf insulted my Agathea when he said she didn’t hold a candle to his Fairest. Such insolence inspires insults in return.
Nimmie Not: Hmm, I wouldn’t bother with candles for either of those scrawny human females. They all look the same to me. I wouldn’t bother saying who the fairest of them all is. They’ve all got their opinions on the matter. Waste of time, even comparing.
Eryximachia and Quartz: (both drawning themselves up with outrage) A waste of time?!
Nimmie Not: Tut, tut, a waste! ’Tis a silly girlish question, filled with frail feelings of self-doubt, tut!
Eryximachia: And that is an equally repulsive display of patriarch scorn in the face of a young lifer’s feelings as she struggles to discover her own beauty. Exactly what I’d expect from a man from Ancient Earth. Go tut yourself!
Quartz: Huh, what she said. Scary how I just agreed with her.
Nimmie Not: Tee hee! You’re an amusing old bone, Eryximachia, for all your arrogance. A pity you’re from a different universe. I’d much rather play with you than Oriana.
Quartz: (glaring at the empty space) What’s that? Just what are you playing at?
Nimmie Not: Oh, don’t get jealous, my dear dwarf, tut! My first choice to play with is still you.
Quartz: (mutters) Not sure if I’m jealous or pitying Oriana.
Eryximachia: More babbling about this Oriana. I know nothing of her. Nor am I old. I’ve removed every trace of age from myself.
Nimmie Not: How dull. Age can bring charm and character if you welcome it. Yes, it can.
Quartz: (mutters) Now I know the scribbler is putting words in your mouth, kobold. She’s turning fifty this week and trying to see the cheer in it. Not that I see it. Fifty is way too young to figure out anything yet humans already start to wrinkle when they reach that age. (frowns) Wait, is she putting words in my mouth?
Nimmie Not: She’s always putting words on our mouths, my dear dwarf. Where’s the cheer in turning stiff and cranky like Eryximachia?
Eryximachia: What was that?
Nimmie Not: Although there are those who embrace the crankiness. Make it part of their inner being, just like you do, Quartz.
Quartz: (growls) Come down and say that to my face. I dare you.
A second red curtain drops upon Quartz. He struggles to escape from its folds.
Eryximachia: I’ve had enough of you, you unseen pest! (She starts to swat the air, trying to bat the kobold, only to hear him cackle in mockery.
I’ll leave my last Monday of being forty-nine at the Cauldron on that note, ending it with Nimmie Not’s laughter. At least it’s ending in laughter. Not that Eryximachia nor Quartz appreciate this ending.
Quartz and Eryximachia: (at the same time) Shut up, scribbler!
Ahem, if you’ve enjoyed meeting Eryximachia and would like to see more of Sokrat, her pirate, and her devotion as a lover and a spiritual therapist to Agathea, go to…
Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.
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For my own, Phaedra will continue where she left off last week in A Symposium in Space…
The only problem was this democracy was dominated by the wealthy and the powerful, just as too many societies had been in the past. They controlled the spaceways, spamming the universe with their advertising. Their shining, three-dimensional billboards and oversized spacecrafts were everywhere, dominating the skyline.
It was more than a little annoying.
“A symposium is nothing more than a dinner party.” Melodic and laced with sarcasm, my paramour’s voice floated into the room before she made her appearance.
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Colored orbs of pink, pale blue, and silver bob through the mists, around the four delicate pillars rising out of it.
Agathea steps down from a dais. Her hair is floating around her as if she was underwater, dressed with delicate stars and moons. Her hair is no longer aqua marine, but silvery white as is her layered gown. The upper layers float around her.
Below Christopher sits, watching her, incogruous upon his stone throne. A couple of orbs start to float near him, only to back away, getting as far from him as they can.
Agathea: Interesting, very interesting. This place has some of the same qualities as my cluster, only it’s not my place. It is your place.
Christopher: It usually doesn’t take on this form. (He glances up at the pillars.) This is familar, yet not familar.
Agathea: (watching him with narrowed eyes) It’s a classical setting dating back to Ancient Earth. It haunts every lifer’s dreams. Even I can’t escape its allure.
Christopher: (offering a tiny smile) You may have guessed I’m not a lifer. I’m not even sure if my world was part of Ancient Earth. I’d guess parts of it are similar to Ancient Earth.
Agathea: Because of the unfamiliar familarity?
Christopher: That and we have the same scribbler.
Agathea: (lifting her nose with delicate distaste) Scribbler?
Christopher: Err, creatrix. I guess you could call her our mutual creatrix.
Agathea: (raising an eyebrow) *Our* mutual creatrix? And whom would she be? She can’t be Aphrodite. I have exclusive rights to the Goddess Aphrodite.
Christopher: You have exclusive rights to a goddess?
Agathea: Presumptious of me, yet bold. Aphrodite favors the bold. She certainly has favored me in intergalactic business and the arts.
Christopher: I wonder if our scribbler doesn’t have similar rights to us. We are characters in her story, even if our concepts came from a communal stew of lore.
Agathea: Do you now? Presumptious of her to presume such power over me. You speak in unlikely riddles, whoever you are. Whatever you are.
Christopher: I’m Christopher. I wonder if I’m all that different than you.
Agathea: Do you, now? What do you do, Christopher?
Christopher: Many things. Among them work at the Navel in Omphalos.
Agathea: How can you work in someone’s belly button?
Christopher: Err, the Navel is a little shop in a town called Omphalos. A shop engaged in a very peculiar business.
Agathea: I’m sure. It all sounds so quaint. What planet is this Omphalos on?
Christopher: I’m not sure if our world has a name. I can reach other worlds with other versions of Omphalos if I find the right Door in the Shadow Forest.
Agathea: And now you’re being ominously quaint. There are faster and more modern ways to reach other worlds than opening a Door, but I suppose you can’t afford them.
Christopher: I sometimes wonder if I or anyone else can afford entering a Door. The price is often too high for entering.
Agathea: How vague you are about many things. For instance, you never explained how you’re not a lifer.
Christopher: In this time, place, and shape, you could say I’m a boy. I call myself Christopher, but I carry the memories and impressions of other people. I’m currently in the form of a boy who blossomed in the Garden of Arachne before being plucked.
Arachne: Sounds both poetic and ominous. In other words you’re a male from a particular region of Ancient Earth where boys blossom and are plucked. I wonder if you aren’t trying to frighten me.
Christopher: As I said, I’m not sure if I’m from Ancient Earth. At least not your Ancient Earth.
Agathea: Again with the enigmas. Why are you here, Christopher? What is this place?
Christopher: This is the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration, our scribbler’s Place of Power. I come here from time to time to talk to characters from other worlds. Err, universes.
Agathea: And so you want to talk to me. Of course you do. Everyone does. My conversation is always delicious. And I make certain everyone else’s is.
Christopher: How so?
Agathea: I draw nourishment from other people’s conversation. The more passionate about it they are, the more satisfying it is. And I can make their words manifest as actual food on their plates.
Christopher: We have something in common. I draw nourishment from other people, too. Their conversation, thoughts, memories, their very presence.
Agathea: Really? (She gazes at Christopher with a sharp eye.) Are you feeding upon me right now? Is that why my orbs avoid you?
Christopher: (smiles again) What do you think?
Agathea: Well, well. This garden of yours must be an interesting place.
Christopher: As is your cluster. I don’t know how to make people’s words manifest as food.
Agathea: (smiles back at him) Don’t you?
Christopher: (flushing) Well, I’m not sure if the food would actually nourish anybody.
Agathea: That is the question, isn’t it?
Christopher: Now who’s talking in riddles?
Agathea: You don’t seem to mind. Not really.
Christopher: (touches a blushing cheek) I guess I don’t. Neither do you. Not really.
Agathea: (touches her own formerly pale cheek now suffused with color) I don’t, do I?
The two of them smile at each other, making sure they keep a safe distance.
Enjoying Agathea’s conversation? Want to hear more of her conversation and see how she draw nourishment from it? You can observe her unique way of feeding and feeding others in A Symposium in Space…
Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.
To sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…
Phaedra is going to repeat a little of what she said last week before going on in A Symposium in Space, realizing she wouldn’t make much sense if she didn’t. 😉
“A symposium?” I murmured, confused by the archaic word. It conjured more images of Ancient Earth, but this time of our patriarchal past. An era when those who looked down at you were referred to as patronizing rather than matronizing.
Such barbarism was behind us. A new democracy had spread out from Ancient Earth, across space, freeing women from their former bondage to male thoughts and ideas.
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Christopher sits in his stone chair facing a young woman with long loose tresses of auburn hair. Only she’d never call herself a woman. She’s a lifer, thank you very much and at the moment a lost one. She sniffs at the mists of the Cauldron with distaste.
Pausania: Honestly, can’t you adjust the background here?
Christopher: What would you like to see?
Slightly curved sandstone pillars rise around Pausania and Christopher. The two of them are sitting on a floating terrace under a magenta sky with the occasional crystal drifting by to twinkle in the rosy air.
Pausania relaxes into her chair, made of vines and something like a cross between bamboo and cedar.
Christopher glances down at his own seat to see it’s the same.
Pausania: Much better. Ah, I remember when my lover took me here. I was as wide-eyed as Phaedra at the time.
Christopher: Where are we?
Pausania: Calliope III, my poor child. No one has taken you here? It’s one of the most relaxing planets in the Intergalactic Democracy. Much better than Semele. Everyone goes to Semele, but every girl should come here as well.
Christopher: Well, I’m not exactly a girl, so I’m not sure if I should. It does look interesting, though.
Pausania: Wait, what? (She shrinks back from Christopher the same way Phaedra did.) What are you?
Christopher: I’m Christopher. We’re actually in the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration, our scribbler’s blog. Err, a place between worlds, err, universes on the web. Sort of. It can be Calliope III, though, if you want it to be.
Pausania: A Cauldron? A place between universes? (She tightens her grip on the arms of her chair.) Are you some forgotten godling from Ancient Earth come here to make mischief? Are you Dionysus?
Christopher: No, I’m not Dionysus. (He considers her words.) I suppose as Happily Ever After I could be considered a godling. Perhaps. I’m not trying to make mischief. I’m only here to talk. Phaedra was here last week.
Pausania: Phaedra?! What have you done with her?!
Christopher: Nothing! We just talked. She disappeared after we spoke, the way all guests do when they’re done talking here.
Pausania: Is that so? (She narrows her eyes.) Make a lot of guests disappear, do you, Happily Ever After? Am I next?
Christopher: In a way. Once you’ve finished talking, you’ll return to your story.
Pausania: My story? (She raises an eyebrow.)
Christopher: Your universe. Wherever you were before you came here.
Pausania: Where I was was home. Phaedra just walked out on me.
Christopher: She mentioned that.
Pausania: She did, did she?
Christopher: Yes. She said she missed you.
All the snark seems to run out of Pausania. She slumps in her seat.
Pausania: Godling from another universe, I’m about at my wit’s end. You call yourself Happily Ever After? What happily ever after can I have after the things I said? I regret them, yet I wonder if I wasn’t meant to say them, giving Phaedra a chance to say everything she couldn’t. Not until I was cruel enough to give her an excuse to.
Christopher: What did you say?
Pausania: What I thought I was supposed to. What I thought was true. Now I’m no longer sure. Of anything. I just want to find Phaedra. I want to talk to her.
Christopher: She’s probably on her way to a symposium? She really wanted to go.
Pausania: (She buries her head in her hands.) That’s the last place I want to go. (She lifts her face, staring at something only she can see. Or someone.) Only if Phaedra is determined to enter the predator’s cluster, I can’t let her go alone.
Christopher: You’re going to this symposium, then?
Pausania: For Phaedra’s sake, yes. (She lets out a strained groan.) Here’s hoping I don’t regret this.
Christopher: I hope you don’t either.
What happens at the symposium? Will Pausania regret going? Find out at…
Christopher sits facing a young woman in an orange jumpsuit and short purple hair. Long bangs fall over her pale forehead.
Christopher: That’s an unusual outfit.
Phaedra: It’s the latest lack of fashion, according to Pausania. I’m dressed like the pilot of a ship even though I don’t have a ship. (She blushes a bit.) Well, I didn’t have a ship.
Christopher: I take it you do, now?
Phaedra: Yes, the Timea. I’m surprised I’m not at her controls now. What is this place? (She looks around at mists surrounding her, at Christopher seated in his stone chair opposite.) Some sort of transportation nexus?
Christopher: What’s that?
Phaedra: I’m not sure if I can explain it myself. It takes you out of your ship, transports you into a different part of the star cluster it’s part.
Christopher: And what’s a star cluster?
Phaedra: (grimaces) Something a lot fancier than a space platform or station. The only one I know anything about is the one Agathea created. She’s one of the richest citizens of the Intergalactic Democracy, so it’s not something just anyone can afford.
Christopher: I see…no, actually, I don’t see at all.
Phaedra: Neither do I. And why am I trying to answer your questions when you haven’t answered mine? Where are we?
Christopher: This is the Cauldron. It’s nothing like Agathea’s star cluster. Actually I’m not sure if it is or not. Both are creations of our scribbler. Maybe they are similar.
Phaedra: Why would they be? Who is this person you call our scribbler?
Christopher: Our creatrix, yours and mine. The creatrix of our respective universes. This blog, this Cauldron, this place is a space between universes where we can meet or interact.
Phaedra: Blog? Cauldron? Those are some old-fashioned words. Particularly blog. Rhymes with bog. Or frog.
Christopher: Blogs don’t exist where you’re from? Places where people post online?
Phaedra: Online? That’s another old-fashioned word.
Christopher: I guess you don’t do anything like that.
Phaedra: Maybe. I have shared poems on in the intergalactic web. Along with trains of thought or trails. Sometimes we just call them trains or trails.
Christopher: That makes sense.
Phaedra: Judging from your expression, you’ve never heard such an expression. Not for the intergalactic web.
Christopher: To be honest, I shudder a bit at the notion of an intergalactic web.
Phaedra: Why? It keeps all lifers connected.
Christopher: What’s a lifer?
Phaedra: You really don’t know? Lifers used to be called women back on Ancient Earth. It was a term for a girl when she matured to womanhood. Goddess, I’m using some archaic terms. You do still use the terms women and girl, don’t you? You’d still be referred to as a girl?
Christopher: (trying to keep a straight face) Yes, we use the terms women and girl where I’m from, but neither of them would apply to me. Not right now.
Christopher: I’m a boy. Sort of.
Phaedra: What? Really? (She draws back, taking a sharp look at him.) Wait, what do you mean, sort of?
Christopher: I’m made of shadow, scattered bits of memory. Some of them belonged to girls and women. Only my current form is that of a boy.
Phaedra: Wow, that sounds so weird! You must be the product of some extremely advanced science!
Christopher: Actually I think I’m the result of magic and will. My existence is a bit of a mystery.
Phaedra: I shouldn’t wonder! This explains why you don’t have even a trace of a beard.
Christopher: I don’t think boys had beards. Not in the Gardens I dimly recall once living in.
Phaedra: Gardens? That sounds lovely. I admire any world which emphasizes an active plant life. This is one of the few things Pausania and I had in common. (She looks sad.)
Christopher: That’s the second time you’ve mentioned Pausania.
Phaedra: Pausania almost became my lover. She wanted me to be her beloved. She was beautiful, charming, eloquent, interesting…only she was also irritable, constantly finding fault with me, and sucking all the cheer out of a room.
Christopher: Sounds like a challenging person to be with.
Phaedra: Oh, she was. I wonder if she wasn’t too challenging. (She lets out a sigh.) Being with her was stifling.
Christopher: You’re not with her any more?
Phaedra: I’m not sure. We had a fight and I walked out on her. Perhaps it was the wrong thing to do, but I really wanted to go to the symposium.
Christopher: The symposium?
Phaedra: A gathering in space at Agathea’s star cluster. I’ve never been anywhere like that before.
Christopher: Pausania didn’t want to go?
Phaedra: She didn’t want either of us to go. She wasn’t too nice about it, either. Not that it was just about the symposium. A lot of things which had been building up between us were finally said. There’s no way to unsay them. I’m not even sure if I want to.
Christopher: I’m sorry.
Phaedra: Don’t be. I’m having an adventure, perhaps the first real adventure ever, making my way to the symposium.
Christopher: Good luck in getting there.
Phaedra: Thank you.
How does Phaedra get there? What happens at the symposium? Find out in A Symposium in Space available at…