A Twisted Map Under Crooked Stars

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  3. More Books by Peter Antony
  4. Mapping the Crooked Places (two versions)
  5. Lombard Street (San Francisco)

He smiled at my wasting body, and the stained clothes that clung to my bony frame. But after every glance, I saw his black eyes snap backwards. Towards the locus of our need. Despite my resolve, I began to cry. Small, exhausted sobs shook my body. If he noticed my shame, he pretended not to, whether in grace or embarrassment, I do not know. The word hung in the air and coated me like a healing salve, pregnant with promise. He shook his head, a singular violent snap, and his face creased. It was a face unaccustomed to sharp emotions, looking oddly fetal and new, as something strong and sharp gripped him.

He shuffled ever so slightly backward, his eyes fluttering behind toward the Thing I could not see. The knowledge that my desire, my prize, waited for me, just beyond his obscuring body clawed at me. My fingers twitched around the weight of the pistol. It was here before us, before the city, before anyone. And It will be here long after us. Again he shuddered, and I saw the suit was soaked with sweat, far filthier than I had originally thought. Not creased, but wrinkled. I had somehow mistaken his tousled appearance for cleanliness, his chaos for order, but the glamour had faded.

Beneath the night perfume of our mutual addiction, there was something else, something acrid and wrong. Panic, hysteria, terror. His calm and still demeanor, gone. A temporary posture, once wielded masterfully, he could no longer hold for more than a minute. This was not my brother, no equal , I thought, as I steeled myself for what had to come. I knew, if I knew anything at all, the sight of a man on a precipice. And I knew how to push.

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His eyes swam behind a veil of welling tears. Not yet. Like It no longer sings to you. It wants me. At that moment, as if to harmonize with my argument, the sweet song behind him surged, hot and fragrant. We turned together, my gazes searching for the wondrous Thing that he alone could see. The words trailed off, and he turned, rocking on his heels. I threw my weight against the door with a feral scream, but his strength outmatched mine, and the door slammed shut with a click that sounded like the end of the world.

But then I heard the shuffle of his feet away from the door, heard him trying to hold his body aloft, before crumpling to the floor. I heard him cry out, a lost wail in the night from the very heart of our desire, and I knew that the gun would not be needed. I returned to my room below with a lightness in my step that I had not felt since the days below the waves. I went to gather my things, and return. The time to submit myself to the Thing had come. The muffled sounds of his voice, pleading and ragged, drifted down from above, and I grinned, approaching ecstasy.

I heard the sound of something being dragged. There was a great surge of motion, announced in vibrations through the walls. Outside my window, a sparkling cloud of frozen light and an overstuffed leather chair hung illuminated in the night air. An absurd tableau of shattered glass and furniture, defying gravity. Then it was gone. I heard, in the following silence, the heavy tread of his feet, and the meaningless babble of his final words.

Away from the window, towards the door. A pacing circle. A sudden run, a blazing trail towards the window, towards the open night. I pressed myself against the cool glass, the breath stopped in my lungs, and I saw him go. One leg out, a runner jumping hurdles. Wild hair whipping in the breeze. Arms wide to the night sky.

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Bandsintown | Twisted Pine Tickets - Crooked Tree Arts Center (Blissfest Presents), Jan 19,

And like the glass and the chair before, he was gone. No sound announced his impact. He simply vanished. The blooming corpse-flower smell surged, hotter and brighter than ever, and if I could have scaled the air itself to ascend to the roof above me, I would have clawed through, ground my fingers to the bone.

But it was too much, and I broke. Each joint separating, each muscle going slack, I dropped to the floor, unconscious before I hit the ground. I woke, how much later I do not know, to the sound of far away sirens trilling in the air. My body tapped into its final reserves, flooding my limbs with carefully hoarded fire, and I surged to my feet. I took the stairs two at a time, and flew down the hallway. He had unlocked door before his fall, in a final gesture of resignation. I put my hand on the doorknob, and sighed in glorious expectation as I pushed the door open.

The room was a twin of mine. The occupant, my predecessor, had lived like I had, out of boxes, with minimal furniture. Waste and rumpled piles of clothes were strewn across the room. The great hole in the glass window sucked at the air, the sounds of traffic and the world below came to me for the first time in months. The curtains fluttered, whipping like flags of surrender. The call was stronger than ever before, and I closed the door behind me, my eyes vacant and searching. It was here. The siren, the flower, the lure.

At first, I could see nothing, but as I walked on uncertain, atrophied feet, I began, at last, to perceive It. As I stepped sideways, it resolved from nothingness, like a sheet of paper seen first from the edge. It was a seam in the world. A tear, a hot and colorless rend across space. Impossibly thin, yet gaping wide, It flared, achingly bright, in recognition of my awareness.

The cloying smell flooded my nostrils, and twined around my ribs. The call was a fire in my pierced forearms, in my veins, and my ecstasy was complete. It seemed to curl and whip, but It never moved. Alien colors and smells flooded from the maw. Somewhere, deep in the core of my body, I felt It reach inside and touch me. The wordless beckon of the past months resolved, like a picture snapping into focus, and It spoke to me. I walked towards It, my hands outstretched. Weeping with joy, the heat of the thing seemed to reignite every nerve ending in my body.

It made me whole, healed me, comforted me, washed over me like the old wave, and I knew I would never want for anything, never fear. I would be loved for all time. I might have stepped into Its oceanic arms forever, might have been lost to Its promises, if something had not awoken in me then. Perhaps it was only the unthinking panicked animal we all hold chained in our psyche. The runner, the fighter. Perhaps it was the echo of the occupant, his last act of defiance still rustling in the breeze with the shredded curtains. I do not know. Whatever emerged, it took control at that moment.

I saw Its lies. I saw It, imprisoned in the sky, calling out. Filthy, reeking promises to those below, those attuned to the foul wavelength of the desire for oblivion. I saw delicate filaments of influence, coils of burning plasma, reaching down to the City below, infecting and cancerous. I saw them wrapping around the lights and hearts of men, choking, crushing. It was the borderlands. It was the name to my nameless fear of the dark places, in the city, and inside me. It was, and It will always be. It would use me, bend me, break me. It already had. When I was done, no more use to It, I would be cast aside, and It would call, again.

I tugged for control of my body, a flesh and bone traitor that still approached this fragment of profane divinity. I pulled harder, and when my vessel cracked free of Its grip, I slid back into my skin, and allowed the animal instincts to guide my escape. I stopped only long enough to kick, twice, at the dials of the expensive gas stove with one bare foot. The rotten-egg odor of gas began to twirl with the corpse-flower smell.

An hour later, I would marvel at the blood pooling in my shoe with every footstep as I fled the tower, and raced to the edge of the City, but not now. Now I felt nothing. I do not remember descending the stairs. I entered my flat, and grabbed a single still-packed duffel bag and my long abandoned shoes.

It called to me from above, furious and reproachful, promising and threatening all at once, and painfully familiar. I could not shut It out, but I held tight to the image of the occupant, soaring gracefully through the air. Arms forever failing at the task of being wings, hanging in the night sky. I would leave the tower in my own way, I thought, and this simple promise kept my body my own.

I lit my own gas stove before I went, and from a curling a strip of a discarded pizza box, I made a small torch which I held to the ragged ceiling. One of the tiny frayed holes, the legacy of my vandal idiocy, began to smolder. I do not remember choosing to do this. I simply did, because it was, unlike everything else in the tower, unlike everything else I had done for a half of a year, right, in some profound way.

When I left, It no longer was promising anything but everlasting suffering and pain and submission. Yet I still wanted to go to It, still felt that elemental undertow. At the staircase, I very nearly went up, feeling some awful analog of gravity tugging me skyward. It would have been so easy to go to It, to surrender myself to Its magnificent tides, but I hung frozen in the air with my predecessor, saw his final relief and escape, and made my body descend.

Out on the sidewalk, a pair of policeman interviewed the manager, jotting notes as the fat man wrung his perfectly groomed hands. He saw me coming, saw me wild-eyed and unkempt, and his piggish eyes narrowed into slits. He thought me a grotesque monster, a murderer. He opened his mouth to speak, and from above there came a great and terrible roar, a cacophony of cracking glass. Glass began to rain, burning scraps of paper and clothing danced in the night sky.

While all eyes were upturned, voices raised in confusion and distress, I turned and slipped away into the night.

Crookedstar - East: Complete PMV MAP

They want me back, in the City, to answer questions. I know that any day they will come with a warrant, and drag me from my new home, to answer for what happened in the tower. I know, of course, that I failed to kill It. I could never have even truly harmed It. At best, I kept others from It, for a short time.

Perhaps I kept a single mad and passionate fool from falling into Its slick and sweet honey trap. This, and my own temporary safety are enough. I also know, that even if they never find this cabin, never track down the twisting trail of money that allowed me to flee the City, even if I live to see a natural death, that I can never be free. It has marked me. That salivating, sweet smell is ever in my nostrils.

It never stops speaking, and I will see It in every crumbling barn, in every rusting skeleton of every abandoned car. I saw Its writhing tendrils, growing and thickening across the City as I fled, saw them twine across the land, in every highway border town. It is not quite here, yet, in the dark woods, in my isolation, my final home. But It will come.

It is a corrupting and spreading growth. It isolates, It squeezes, It chokes, It infects. If a lone cell should escape, then the refugee can only carry the contagion with him. I can only hope, in the end, that I will fight. That I will not go willingly. But I know that when It calls me home, at last, I will go without question. I will return to a City that has become one immense dead place, one massive, heartless hinterland. Original Draft. When I was young, I drifted on the wind of my whims, allowing them to take me, rootless, like an airborne seed.

I was in love, not with any of my fellow man, but with being a citizen of the places men gather. The City is a collection of villages, bound together like organs and cells in a body, possessed and afflicted with all the abilities and fragility of a living being. The vascular and nervous system of roads and wires brings us, each a little nerve impulse and blood cell, from organ to organ, and through the pale and textureless connective tissue between. Together the City is a whole, a single life dependent on its constituents.

When I lived in the shadows of the medical college, drinking quietly and alone in bars filled with sleep deprived and wild eyed doctors-to-be, I saw the city this way, and it could have been no other. When I set myself free from the drafty Cole Valley flat and drifted into a studio loft in the Mission, I saw that the City was a battleground: isolated camps of combatants brought together by common ideals, surrounded by the blasted, rotting demilitarized zones of cultural vacancy.

Under the blazing bonfires at the heart of each district flutter the flags of identity, declaring the allegiances of its inhabitants. The enemy is raised in effigy nightly, crackling and writhing in the flames. You know who you are in those places, by your uniform and badges, by your declarations of war; and the traveller learns who he is not. In the towers of Market Street, I saw the City was a vast and productive farm, with a single farmhouse, naturally, in the greatest and oldest place.

From the upper eaves of the old house, I surveyed each unique field, growing signature and heirloom crops, to be counted, stored, and sold.

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When the City was a farm, there were always the fallow places between the fields, the cracked and rotting fences, the rusting abandoned machinery. In each city, the body, the battleground, the farm, and in a dozen more, these in-between places filled me with cool loathing, a passionless hatred and fear born in my acceptance of their seeming necessity and my distaste of their lifelessness.

Like bodies without souls, the interstitial boroughs, without character or a spark of life seemed on the verge of rotting away beneath my feet. Inside the living neighborhoods, I was loathe to travel in any other way than by foot or bike, lest I wall myself away from the possible beauty; but when crossing the borderlands, I needed the barriers of taxi cabs and train cars. The empty places felt sickened, and in turn made me ill, and I passed through them only when need dictated, and my resolve was strongest.

When my map of the City and her identities grew dense, and when I imagined, foolishly, like a child, that all her secrets were known to me, my love began to sour and the fires inside me waned.

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  • These phantom dreams cloaked me, insulating promises of renewal that further removed me from the City that I had loved. In this way I lost my ties, and my connections to the good places withered. I forgot my distaste of the hinterlands between the hearts, and wandered dumbly into their blankness, again and again, and without fear. Curious, I found little burning outposts inside these places, where people gathered together for heat, for light, for company, defiant against the bleak surroundings. I began to believe that I perhaps I had been a fool, and a dawning epiphany bloomed: that perhaps I had ignored so much of the City, so much of what made it, what truly made it, under false pretenses.

    I had allowed the peculiarities of my personality to cloak these misunderstood tracts in a miasma of fear that stemmed only from myself. With renewed desire, I began again to explore, to again be a cartographer, to map the crooked places. The undeniable ugliness and thoughtlessness of the buildings in these dark places and edifices parted slightly, and I saw beneath the veil that I myself had erected. I must have seen its skeleton from a dozen of my nests, for it had been growing slowly, the twisting branches of a great glass and stone tree, for the last half of the decade.

    It had in the past, filled me with the same sort of dull hatred that the borderlands had inflicted me with; it was artless and empty, a featureless glass monolith designed to house the young and wealthy, those ones who were drawn to the in-between places, for all the wrong reasons. But when I encountered it then, during that final phase of my exploration, it tugged at me, hooked me like a doomed fish and never let go.

    It stood alone, in a district that would have once curled cold tendrils of unease around my spine. The streets were empty, and clean, in a way that suggested not constant attention, but disuse, and its only neighbors were warehouses and pale shadows of failing restaurants and cafes.

    Nothing about it was lovely, nothing about it was anything less than hideous, and I see that now. I might have had these thoughts, I do not remember; I only remember that I was writing a check, a deposit for one of the sterile condos above me, before I even realized that I had walked inside. In that same nameless fog of desire, I knew one thing. I wanted to be on the upper floors. I must have told the small and corpulent manager this, for he cracked his wide and sharp grin, baring twin rows of perfectly straight teeth, and assigned me a unit on the top floor. I rode the elevator in breathless anticipation, and went straight to the room.

    My belongings and possessions were brought to me later, for once I entered the tower, I only left it once more, and that time for good, nearly five months after. When I left, I was free of the fog, free of the pretension of finding the soul of the soulless places, free of my love of cities. I was scoured clean of everything, left raw and naked, every sensation amplified and painful. The first apartment was spacious and empty, smelling still of construction and dust, antiseptic and clean.

    One wall in each room made only of glass and offering a sprawling view of the bay and the sharp and crumbling docks, the last few vestiges of proper industry in the City borders. I understood at once it was not the view my sudden, hot desire for elevation demanded. Within moments of occupation, I also understood this: the top floor was too high. What I was drawn to was now beneath me. I left the room at once, and began to descend the staircase, the metal steps still covered in powdered drywall, feeling the invisible draw in my lungs, in the beating of my heart, and in the cords of my muscles.

    It only took a few floors before the attraction was now level with me and I entered a hallway identical to the one above. My fingers drifted up, without thought, as so many of my actions would become, to the eastern wall. As I slowly paced the hallway, I could feel the pull down the length of my arm. Like a dowsing rod, I dragged the tips across the rough texture of the wall, the hissing friction against them and my soft footsteps on the carpet the only sounds. The air was redolent of paint and carpet glue, but beneath it all, dancing in the air like a cracking whip, was a thin thread of something sickly sweet, a night blooming flower, or something just on the border of rot.

    I reached a door halfway down the hall, and my legs froze. I did not come to a natural stop; the muscles literally locked in place, and I was rooted to the expensive and untrodden carpet. On the other side, just past my raw fingertips, beyond the heavy wooden door, lay whatever was calling me. I felt an intense and delicious anticipation, a nearly fulfilled desire stronger than any before. I was not unfamiliar with nameless wanting, with not yet having reason or language to describe and justify what my mind yearned for; but this was not only my consciousness that ached, but the very structure of my body.

    I looked up to the numbers, , picked out in delicate and filagreed golden numerals, and committed it to memory, repeating them breathlessly over and over again to myself, knowing, with a sharp pang, that I would need to leave here before I could return to be fulfilled. I would offer any price, and pay any cost, but I would cross the threshold.

    I found it difficult to pull myself away, and thought I might stay fixed to that spot, almost, but not yet touching my prize, forever. Then, through the warped glass bead of the peephole, light suddenly flared and I was shook from my trance. It took me a moment to restrain the whirlwind of my thoughts, and process the small and simple chain of logic. While I had been pressed to the door, sighing with unfamiliar intimacy, the occupant of , the interloper, had been on the other side, staring out.

    What flared in me was not the polite embarrassment that good breeding and decency demanded, but something more akin to jealousy. But there was more, a violence I felt in my forearms, and clenched fists. Something bestial, and cruel. Reason broke through the surface of the raging sea inside, and I relaxed, secure in the knowledge that I had the means to take what I wanted in the proper way, with no need for bloodshed. I grinned into the looking glass, my eyes slitted with devious and cold assurance. I was not accustomed to being disappointed. The manager furrowed his brows when I returned, so soon, holding out my checkbook.

    I could see now how truly he was a creature of the dead zones, perfectly bland and polished in form, with dull eyes, and empty of dreams. The inhabitants of the frontiers are not always living mirrors of their environs, but some are born to them. Iron Crustacean Dirty Quiver Dingy green quiver once worn by an archer. Wrapped with metal, so it can be used as a weapon. Bone Archer Electrified Beak The beak of a macaw that died from electrocution.

    Curiously, the charge made it heat-resistant. Prancing Parrot Ivory Sack White bag made from a wandering spirit. It looks like common cloth, but transmits high mana. Ghost Obsidian A dark and transparent ore that breaks into very sharp shards. Used in making daily items. Looks nasty, but high in nutrients. Most wildlife barely even notices it. It;s thick enough that blades can't pierce it. When defrosted, it turns into a glowing green mass. Horned Skull Vampire Crown Crown worn by a fiery witch.

    It keeps itself safe with a fireproof sheet on the inside. Flame Temptress Bear Feather A furry feather from a bipedal bird-bear. Given its ferocity, many give up on obtaining this. Owl Beast Blackened Horn A black horn from a creepy skull's forehead. It's actually quite soft at the base. Horned Skull Cut-off Claw A large claw cut from a shore-dwelling lobster. It's more dense than it is sharp, surprisingly. Iron Crustacean Burnt Airsac A sac from the chest of a burnt beast.

    Heat has hardened it, and it can take some heavy impacts. Chiroptekong Confused Needle Sharp needle from a confused undead dog. It's a hollow tube, so it works as a straw. Zombie Mutt Rainbow Fruit A mysterious fruit that changes color in light. It can preserve magic, and is used for jars. Often used in flooring and walls for insulation.

    Soultaker Selenite An almost completely-transparent ore. After refining into a powder, it's used in weaponmaking. It has a calming effect on the mind. Still, it feels the same as normal wood. Chop: Lucent Hollows Bismuth A soft metal ore that reflects many colors. Heat makes it easier to process. Very healthy, but tastes absolutely disgusting. The outer shell can be used for metalwork. It's used a material with metal goods. Volt Cryst Bound Manastone Petrified mana trapped in a witch's gemstone after its spells have all been sealed off.

    Flame Temptress Sharp Batfang Fangs of a massive predatory bat. They're sharp enough to pierce through steel. Hypno Bat Elastic Wornskin Resilient outer skin of a cave-dwelling leech. It remains rubbery even after dying. Cave Leech Black Tail Soft tail of a giant fairy. If melted with metal, the resultant alloy is likewise soft. Grand Spriggan Redglass Shell Translucent-red shell of a flame crystal. Grows soft and malleable under heat. Fire Cryst Crimson Coxcomb Symbolic coxcomb from the head of a raging bird.

    Its softness makes it good for clothes. Tantrum Turkey Necrotic Finger Black finger of a fairy felled by heavy impact. Incongruously fragile, and a bit sticky. Grand Spriggan Mist Blossom A flower that stores water in the air as vapor. Given its capabilities, it's used for mists. When triggered, blades pop out from inside. Coffin Demon Red Forewings Wings ripped apart from the back of an alert insect. Klaxon Cicada Azure Core Blue core from the bosy of a crystalline being.

    Its hardness changes according to temperature. Ice Cryst Granite A dull white stone of notable hardness. The right processing method can make it smoother. Mine: Untamed Garden Thick Stalk Stalk of a plant with a gelatinous mesophyll under its outer surface.

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    Used in expensive medicines. Oddly, exposure to fire causes it to melt. Not well-maintained, so not a great weapon. Sword Saurian Stoneguard Shard Part of a barrier that protected the forest. The material is very conductive of mana. Amalgolem Rose Quartz A hard pink ore. It's said that the more white is on the inside, the rarer it is. Highly pliable, it's used for shoes and furniture. The metals inside are used for knives or katana. Glaring Stinger Imperial Talon Hooklike claws from the king of all moles.

    The sharp barb demands caution in carrying. Mole King Cloudy Crystal The clouded bosy of a monster that had its senses dulled. It's harder to process now. Fire Cryst Inert Sugarcore Sweet core with natural sugars released by paralysis. It's even sold as a sugar substitute. Volt Cryst Thorny Scapula Pauldron worn by a spear-toting reptoid. It won't fit you, obviously--it's only good for crafting.

    Lance Saurian Silenced Siren Head of a cicada that could not sound its alarm. Supposedly quite mana-conductive. Klaxon Cicada Fluorescent Ore A thin, mysterious plate emblazoned with a pattern that glows in the dark. Can be made into an alloy. Mine: Untamed Garden Coriander An herb with a distinct fragrance due to its environment. Used for making mist products.

    Mapping the Crooked Places (two versions)

    It takes hard work, but it can be crafted with. Fortunately, it's easily recyclable. Lance Saurian Dull Metal Metal mass from the tip of a reptoid warhammer. Seems like exotic metal, but it's still workable. Hammer Saurian Lizard Tail Tail from a hammer-wielding reptoid. Hammer Saurian Camouflage Fang Fang of a crafty, carnivorous dog that hides behind plants to ambush its prey. Camo Dog Giraffe Fur Long, stiff hair from a violent giraffe. They're used to make weapons and stringed instruments. Bucking Giraffe Monochrome Leg Leg of a monochromatic insect.

    The exoskeleton is tough, so it's often used for weaponry. Panda Ant Fluffy Coldtail Soft tail of a rodent that shoots ice. They say more thorns on it means a higher price. Ice Squirrel Metal Nutshell Shell from an acorn as tough as steel. The severe impact has left it badly deformed.

    Lombard Street (San Francisco)

    Steel Acorn Red Catspaw Paw of a crimson beast with paralytic powers. Used as cushioning for protective gear. Crimson Caracal Long Nose Elongated nose of a giant ape. Drying it will make it harder, but it'll still stay slimy. Impeding Tengu Primate Patagium Thin membrane found on a bat-ape's upper arm. It's often used for footwear designs. Chiroptilla Sharp Mandibles Jaw blade from a fire-spewing insect. It's used to make weapons, as it's heat-resistant.

    It's quite delicate, and must be carried carefully. Horned Gel Fiery Horn Horn of a feisty rodent that tries to burn adventurers. It's a good conductor of mana. Fire Squirrel Flint A hard quartz that sparks if struck against steel. Civilians have taken to lighting fires with it. The petals are used to make special jars. It's hard and sturdy. It has a liquid consistency, and needs a vessel to carry it in. Horned Gel Frozen Wing Unique organ from a reptoid, numbed by freezing. Seems to regulate body heat. Hammer Saurian Statue Shard Fragment of an equine stone doll.

    They say you can tell your fortune by how it's broken. Hex Steed Equestrian Orb The core of a moving statue that releases cursed lightning. Mix it to make a sturdy alloy. Hex Steed Stickbug Shield Shield of an insect with a chivalrous spirit, interestingly, it can parry shocks and mana. Shielded Phasmid Stickbug Switch Thin, twiglike arm of a sword-wielding insect.

    Can be used for a variety of crafting purposes. Bladed Phasmid Twisted Horn Ominous horn of a goat that curses passersby. It's soft enough that it can be cut with a knife. Cursed Capra Rockhorse Ear Ear of a stone doll that looks like an animal. Conducts mana well, so it's used to make tools. Stone Steed Rusty Blade A sharp sword cherished by a fallen soldier.

    You can reforge the blade as a shield. Skelesword Jagged Tusk Tusk of a rampaging boar. Since it contains various metals, it's used to make cutlery. Battering Boar Scorpion Crystal Crystal from a giant scorpion's tail. History is silent about when it began to lean. We do know that it's still moving but, don't worry, it's not about to fall down, even though the only thing that holds the Spire on top of the Tower is its own weight — that's around tons of wood and more than 30 tons of lead! So how did it happen? Legend tells of a powerful and evil wizard who tricked the Bolsover blacksmith into shoeing the Devil.

    Shaking in terror, the poor man drove a nail into the Devil's foot. Screaming with rage and pain, the Devil took flight towards Chesterfield. Skimming over the Church, he lashed out in agony, caught the Spire and twisted it out of shape. But the most popular story about the Spire is that it was so amazed to hear of a virgin being married in the Church that it twisted round to try and see such a wonder for itself. It's said that, should the same thing happen again, the Spire will straighten up…. Then, of course, there is the truth — or at least the best guess.

    The Spire was originally covered in wooden shingles set on a wooden frame. There were some advantages to this. Lead was plentiful in the Peak District so was easy to find and relatively cheap. There were, of course, some disadvantages. Firstly the weight — around 32 tons of lead tiles cover the wooden framework of the Spire that was never designed to take this that much weight. Secondly, lead is a metal and it expands when it gets hot and contracts as it cools.

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    One side the Spire faces south, so gets the sun all day, while the north facing side gets hardly any direct sunlight. The south facing lead tiles expand more than the north facing and this continual expansion and contraction at different rates has caused the Spire to twist. As well as this, there's no cross bracing in the 8 sides of the Spire. Add to that years of weather and, according to one 'expert', bell ringing, and you get a Crooked Spire!

    Daily tours of the Tower to the base of the 'Crooked Spire' take place on Fridays and Saturdays weather and staff permitting , check times on the Crooked Spire website. Tours take about minutes. In addition, regular tours take place on all summer Bank Holiday Mondays. The old market place was much closer to the Church in the Middle Ages, and it wasn't unusual for the nave to be used as a temporary store. This is why, in May , at the height of the Battle of Chesterfield, we find the Earl of Derby hiding among the wool sacks in the Church. Fire broke out in the north transept and flames roared through the building to threaten the Spire itself.

    Within minutes the roads were packed with fire engines and equipment. Church officials and clergy braved the heat and choking smoke to rescue sacred figurines, church treasures and parish registers from the flames. But, a few days later, the bells rang out for Christmas and a service was filmed for TV on 7 January The Church, along with its Spire, had weathered the storm to remain the symbol of Chesterfield. Tower tours are possible on certain days, times are advertised on the Church website.