Friday, January 30, 2015

It's Either Kill Trolls or Pack for Home


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The breeze rattled the cottonwood leaves overhead as it chased through the tall big bluestem grass beyond the butt and died away. Rose drew her bowstring to her cheek,
hesitated and planted her eighth arrow in the target. A warbling vireo went back to its
meandering medley from the crown of the cottonwood. Rose nocked her next arrow and
found the target with her eyes.
"My word!" said Fuzz as he walked up behind her. "That's a whole bouquet of arrows in the bull's eye. That looks like forty yard."
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Rose nodded and lowered her bow. "Father always had us practice," she said.
"I remember seeing that light longbow of yours back home, but we were in such a rush that I never once saw you use it," he said with a nod at the target. "You're just plain good, particularly with this breeze. Have you missed any at all?"
"I've not yet been to the target."
Fuzz whistled. "Well what do you think of Olloo's spare bow? I'm all done feeding the birds, by the way."
Rose raised her bow and quickly put another arrow in the bull's eye. "I like it," she said, letting the breeze blow a strand of hair out of her face as she turned to look at him. "But it's not at all like the one Soraya had. This thing's longer and shoots almost like a proper 9204cacfb3a66323628d914d5330f62clongbow."
"Well that makes sense, out here in the open in the Strah," he said, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. "I knew Inney had got it for you, but I never asked you why. Are you wanting to be ready for Spitemorta or Demonica sometime after we get home?"
"I was thinking trolls."
"The raid..."
"Damned right!" she said with a fiery look. "Those were the sweetest three little kids I think I ever saw. That little towhead Aalin trotted up with her ringlets just a-bouncing and gave me a fistful of asters the very afternoon before the trolls came. I still see her face." she thrust out her chin and picked up another arrow. "You know, that makes four men, three young ladies, one of them about to be wed, and six little scoots like Aalin since we got here. They're going to get wiped out at this rate."
"Probably not. They've been out here doing this for the last thousand years."
Rose turned to face the target to find an old ewe and her pair of lambs in the way. "Yea?" Ewe and lambsshe said. "Well what about our wee baban on the way, aye? One of those trolls gets too close to our little girl to be, and I'll want to puncture the curse."
"So that's what this is about," said Fuzz. "Have you forgotten that trolls don't eat humans?"
"You think they'll look at her ears after they grab her up? And can you imagine any trolls raiding Balley Cheerey who'd check each little girl for pointed ears before stealing her away? They'd just grab her up, right? And if they saw their mistake, do you reckon they'd dutifully fetch her back here? They'd either eat her for dessert or kick her out in the woods with the wolves."
"Well, you're right," he said, squatting beside her and pulling a timothy head. "So what do you want to do?"
"Fight back!" she said, dropping to her knees beside him. "Or at least be able to. You Warbling Vireo, singing_6444know, I don't really understand why the Elves haven't wiped them out by now, Fuzz. Inney told me once about when they almost did. They tracked the monsters to their
stinking caves and killed nearly every one of the curses where they slept before the
handful which survived got away. And when they can do nearly everything just a little
better than we can, why didn't they ever hunt down those survivors and end the menace?
When I think of little Aalin, it makes me want to cry."
"Tramman was telling me about that, once," he said as he watched the ewe graze bite by bite to the foot of the target. "He said that they did indeed hunt down the trolls that got away and they were right certain they'd got all of them, too. So when the next troll raid occurred years and years later, they were completely unprepared and lost eleven children all in one night. Can you imagine?"
"Oh Fuzz, what are we going to do? It's a true paradise here without the troll raids. I've never in my life been around such wonderful, wonderful people. Inney's the sweetest kid I've ever known. And I really did want to have the baby right here. But the trolls scare me. And I find myself missing Niarg more, day by day. I keep thinking we should be there for the birth. It's where we really belong."
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Fuzz scooted closer, picked up her hand and closed his eyes as he kissed her wrist. "Then maybe we should go home, dear," he said. "The Elves have told Karl-Veur and me that we might well hire a fishing boat from Gwael to take us across the sea." He paused to look at her. "And there's nothing to stop us from doing it right now if we were to buy our
passage with some of the jewelry that washed up on the beach in your trunk. Now believe
me, I'd never just up and tell you to do such a thing..."
"I'll give every blooming jewel I thought was long lost if it takes it," she said. "Well, not the emerald necklace from Mother nor your earrings that match. Well. You know, I'd almost give those to go home."
"Then it sounds as though you might be serious. Well if you think it over and..."
"That would just waste time. I'm ready to go pack."
"Then I'll go talk to Tramman right now."
"Fuzz," she said, putting her hand on his arm before he got to his feet. "I will stay if you want."
"You really would, wouldn't you?"
“Of course I would.”
“That's why I'm crazy about you, Rose,” said Fuzz. “But I miss Edward. I mean, what must he think after all this time?”
Suddenly two half grown strike falcons appeared out of the grass and came dashing up to them across the butts with a rabbit apiece, startling the sheep.
"Carrey and Sidoor!" she said, shooting to her feet to hug Carrey's fluffy neck. "How'd Phororhacosthey get out?"
"Sidoor kept putting images of fat rabbits in my head, so I thought about you out here and turned them out."
“So what about our birds, Fuzz? We can’t leave them behind.”
“Of course not," he said as he watched the birds drop their rabbits and rip them into pieces small enough to swallow. "They go with us, and that’s all there is to it. Now, I think we should find Karl-Veur and see if he wants to go with us or stay here.”
"Or go back to the Dark Continent. After all, you know he misses Yuna and young Yann-Ber. I think we should let him know that it’s all right with us if he changes his mind about trying to get into Demonica’s good graces.”
“Oh sure. But I’ve got a feeling he's set on doing what he came with us to do, in spite of the price he has to pay.”
“Let's go,” said Rose as she unstrung her bow and picked up her quiver.
“Then we talk to Tramman and Obbree about hiring a fishing boat,” he said, taking her by The Reaper Witch 01 copythe hand.
“I’m for that,” she said, squeezing his arm.








Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You Were a Bear?

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They had their unicorns completely laden and packed before the first light. With the first rusty calls of the seaside sparrows as the sky turned deep blue, they wended between tussocks of marram grass into a landscape of sandburs and rolling sand dunes with CapeSableSeasideSparrow_2Tramman, Obbree and Karl-Veur leading the way while Rose, Fuzz and Inney followed a rod or two behind. After tramping a good long way with no talking, Rose paused to shift her pack and to study the horizon.
"Young ladies were never meant to be pack animals, Rose," said Fuzz. "I could take your bag for a bit."
"And I suppose old bespelled bears are," she said with her eyes dancing.
"Absolutely!" said Fuzz. "Going to find Gastro. That is indeed what it reminds me of, too."
"What are you two talking about?" said Inney.
"We were once in a place like this when Fuzz was a bear," said Rose, stopping short to images 2share wide-eyed looks with Fuzz at what she had just said."
"You were a bear?" said Inney. "Mister Fuzz! You're not a skin walker, are you?"
"You mean, could I change myself into a bear? Not at all. I could not begin to do something like that, even if I had forever and seven days. I was trapped as a bear with no
hair until the witch who did it to me was killed and her evil faded away some years later."
Everyone ahead had turned about to listen. "She must've been one powerful witch if it took zzzDicksissel9so long for all of her magic to fade," said Tramman.
"She was powerful, all right," said Fuzz, "and made all the more so by having in her possession what we know as the Great Staff of Power. Your long lost brethren once called it Bata Millteanach. And it's a very long tale that I can see needs to be told when we get to Balley Cheerey."
“That's a story I can't wait to hear,” said Tramman, turning square about in the sand. "Let’s get on to Balley Cheerey." And with that, the party resumed their tramp through the sand.
As the sun rose, the sand became unbearably hot, and since Rose, Fuzz and Karl-Veur sandduneshad lost their shoes in the sea when the ship sank, they were forced to make emergency footwear out of a ripped kelp sack and strips of the skirt of Rose's kirtle. By the time the628x471 sun was high enough for the sand to blister bare feet, they were underway again, listening to the endless calls of cicadas.
Grass was now covering most of the sand. Dickcissels called from the taller tussocks. Redwing blackbirds scolded from the air above their heads. "When the grass is all taller OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthan we are, we'll finally be in the Strah," said Tramman. "Keep your eyes open for snakes."
As Rose studied a particularly tall bunch of grass, she stumbled across a mound of sticks and grass. "Fuzz!" she cried, "Look! Huge eggs. The size of a baby's head. Fuzz! This one's hatched." At once all three imagesstrike falcons dashed through the grass to peer closely at what she had found. "Are these strike falcon eggs, Inney?"
"Yea," she said, picking up an egg. "These aren't suppose to be out here, are they Tramman?"
"Not at all," he said, letting go of his handful of reins to pick up an egg with both hands, "We thought we'd shot the last wild one maybe seven hundred years ago."
images 1"What's wrong with wild ones?" said Rose. "What would happen if I picked up this one just hatched?"
"She'll be your bond mate, if you want one," said Tramman. "And wild ones? Really, really dangerous. They can take you out with one slashing kick. See Obbree a-stringing his bow? That's what I'm going to do right now."
"So what do I do if I want a bond mate?"6f9fde723ee52483fa2689890dee578c_1_orig
"Take her with you. Inney'll tell you what to do," he said as he strung his bow. "Fuzz? Take my sword. I see Karl-Veur has Obbree's. And everybody pick up an egg. Put it inside your shirt. We have to go. Now! Those parents could show up and kill someone in the blink of an eye. Somebody will have to come all the way back down here and hunt them down and kill them."
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mr. Duckworth's Ice Cream









When I was a little squirt, we sold the milk from our cows to the cheese factory east of town, and 22b5-dairy-cows-40p-bw-1024x636we would separate some of our cream and take it once a week to the Purity Dairy, south of the Square. One day, Mom delivered some cream and left me to eat a dish of ice cream in the dairy's parlour.
"Are you too busy for me to leave Tom here while I run to the bank, Mr. Duckworth?" said Mom.
"I ain't doing nothing but washing up this here dab o' dishes and reading today's paper, Hilda. You just go right ahead. If he gives me the dickens, I'll just sit on 'im and keep him quiet whilst I read the paper," he said with a wink at me.
Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Denton Texas
I sat at the black marble topped table with its twisted wire legs, spooning out the last streaks of ice cream from my glass bowl. Round, immense and flushed, dressed in white with a tall baker's cap, Mr. Duckworth sat cross legged at the far end of the room, peering at me from time to time over the top of his paper. I fidgeted for a spell, studying the chairs with their twisted wire legs and parlor-ice-cream-dishbacks which formed a heart within a heart. The ice cream freezer hummed out a rhythm, joined by the muffled din and clanking from the dairy in back. I rose after a spell and slowly meandered up to the freezer, scooting my sweater along the length of it as I peered through its glass windows.
"Did you ones get your favorite kind this morning, honey?" he said, lowering his paper, looking creamery_300_300_100seriously over the top of his spectacles.
"Yea."
"Now, which kind was that?" he said with an impish grin above his great wattling jowls. "I gave ye a dip o' lemon and a dip o' vanilla."
20120710-St Clair Ice Cream 6"Lemon," I said, looking at an open can through the glass. "Lemon's my favorite. What's that orange stuff?" 
"Why orange. And it ain't sherbet, neither. Sherbet's all watery. Ye got to have a proper lot o' good heavy cream for any dessert, even if it's a doggoned pie. I put as much cream in that as I do in my vanilla."
"What's your favorite, Mr. Duckworth?"ice cream glasses
"They's all my favorites," he said, heaving himself around the freezer with short, heavy breaths. "But I've got one here I've tried for years to get just so, and I think I've finally done it. I first had it when I visited Mississippi. Now they wouldn't give me the recipe, but the flavor stuck with me. I eat it every day, and now I believe to my soul that I've got 'er just so. Fetch me your bowl up here.07-11sweet-occasions-ice-cr
"This is it," he said, putting a dip into my dish. "Mint julep. Now it's got to have a dip o' orange right beside it to be just so, don't it?" He gave me a wink, sticking out the tip of his tongue.
"Thanks. But Mom said that I wasn't to have any more."
"Fiddlesticks! That's what she gets for having me look after ye. Proper ladies all tell ye no, if ye 51sqJJy6iAL._SL160_know what I mean. Besides, if she wants t' skin me when she gets back, you can have a full tummy whilst ye watch the fur fly," he said, mounding his own bowl with the same flavors which he had just dipped for me. I took my seat as he huffed and heaved, baker's hat swaying from side to side like a great white mushroom, back to his place at the far end of the parlour. He rolled and closed his eyes, smiling and grunting with each mouth full.
"Well?" he said, startling me with a sudden beady eyed gaze.
"It's delicious! I love it."images (1)
"There, by George! That's how I know I've finally got it. It tastes the best to me when theah ain't nobody comes through that door that don't like it."
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With all our progress, ice cream just doesn't seem to be the sublime delight that it once was, doesimages it?



Tom Phipps

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fuzz Can't Imagine


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Fuzz the Bear sets out across the countryside in a frantic effort to keep the Heart out of the hands of the evil sorceresses Demonica and Spitemorta in Stone Heart. Along the way, he stumbles into a magical ward set by Demonica and is restored to his human form. He has not yet gotten used to being a human when Wizard Razzmorten and his party with Rose and Lukus find him and decide to help him recover the Heart...
"It's really great to see you, Fuzz," said Lukus, as Tors bore him alongside. "Maybe we can talk, now that we don't have to go single file. How long have you been changed back?" He realized that this might be an awkward question in the midst of asking it. "You've no idea how much Rose and I have missed you."
"Actually," said Fuzz as he stretched his neck, "my transformation is right recent and I'm not sure I've completely adjusted to the change. I was a bear for a lot of years, but I've no reason not to expect that things will all come back to me in time." He nodded at Rose.  "You know I'm finally beginning to question whether she's missed me or not. This change of mine still has me feeling awkward all over, but have I done something to offend her?"
"Don't you see?" said Lukus with an amused look.
"See what?"    
"Rose is eaten up with jealousy."
"Just how?" sputtered Fuzz. "Me? Surely not."
"Absolutely," said Lukus rocking forward with a chuckle.
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"But my word. What could Rose possibly see in the likes of an old bear like me?"
"You're not a bear for one thing."
"Well, I suppose not, but that is all she's known me as, Lukus, and I'm old enough to be her grandfather. She can't possibly think of me in any other way."
"Ha! I don't remember a looking glass in your den, Fuzz, but if there is one, I'd lay great odds you've not peeped in it. You may be old as the hills in years, but you don't look much older than Rose. It looks like you stopped aging when Ugleeuh turned you into a bear. Why, you're downright handsome."
"Well, yes, I guess that's what they used to say," said Fuzz, with an uncomfortable blush, "but I'd still think that would be unlikely quick for Rose to..."
"Wrong again," said Lukus, bouncing with glee on Tors's back, as Tors swung a sympathetic look in Fuzz's direction. "Remember Spark's glamourie in the Grog Meadows?"
"Oh, you're right," said Fuzz with very wide eyes. "She saw me as I was when I was still Captain of the Guard at Castle Niarg, when we were trying to deceive the Grogs."
"Yea. And she's had a thing for you ever since that she refuses to admit...just like you've had for her. Ah...ah...ah, don't deny it. Don't you dare deny it, 'cause it was written all over your face back then, just as it is this very minute."
"You seem to have turned into an Elf, Lukus, reading me like that."
Lukus threw back his head with a vigorous laugh. "I'm married to one, actually."
"My word. Could it possibly be the very one Rose would pester you about those years ago when we were fleeing together?" said Fuzz, as Taflu suddenly fluttered into the air, escaping his notice altogether.
"Indeed. She's my utter ecstasy. And we expect a son."
"Oh, wonderful. I'm so very happy for you..."
"Yea, thank you. And you're dodging, Fuzz. I can't believe you didn't know Rose felt the same way about you."
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"I..."
"That's all right, Fuzz," said Lukus with a merry smile. "I'm not trying to give you a hard time. Rose is doing that. And don't worry, she'll come right around as soon as you convince her that there's nothing between you and Myrtlebell."
"Myrtlebell!" gasped Fuzz. "Of course there's nothing between Myrtlebell and me. She and Edward were in dire need and I took her in. I'm her friend, but only in a patronly sort of way, don't you know. Nothing more. Is that what she thinks, that Myrtlebell and I are lovers? Good word! I was beginning to think this was about Rotundra."
Lukus threw back his head for another laugh as Fuzz peered at Rose in shock. "That's what's got her all huffed up. But it'll work out, Fuzz. You'll see," he said, on the verge of another eruption of laughter.
"I swear," said Fuzz. "You've become more of an Elf than you may realize."

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fuzz Reveals Himself

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Fuzz the Bear reveals himself to Rose and Lukus in The Collector Witch...

"Hello there my friends!" he called out as they approached. "Looks like rotten old Ugleeuh was right!”   
Rose and Lukus were astonished at the sight of him. He had an apt name all right, for his skin was indeed covered with a thin nearly velveteen chestnut fuzz, but that fact didn't prepare them for the shock of his looks. He was scrawny, long necked and huge headed, with stubby limbs and a ponderous melon for a paunch that scarcely cleared the ground when he stood.   (Ch 16)
 They had been back in Fuzz's den for some time before he limped in, bedraggled and winded. Still with his full pails of precious booty, he stumbled onto the floor at Rose and Lukus's feet without spilling a bit.
 "Oh my!" said Rose as she fell to her knees beside him. "You've been stung from head to toe! You must be in terrible pain." "Actually no," he said, managing a feeble grin. "Woozy to beat the band. Dizzy, dizzy! Pain didn't last long, though. Never does, but a bear with no hair does get nailed a lot. Makes me wonder if I'm even really fuzzy. No need for a fuss. I'm used to dealing with those old bees. I'll be fine once I catch my breath."
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"Well," said Rose, "you certainly don't look fine. You're soaked to the bone and covered with stingers." She turned to Lukus. "I think you should get a fire started so we can get him dried out."
Lukus set to work at once, impressing Rose with a nice crackling fire in short order. (Ch 17)
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“Fuzz,” said Rose, giving him a squint, “you certainly know a lot about Gastro, Ugleeuh and Niarg. Why is that?”
Fuzz was quiet for so long that she was not certain if he had heard her, or if she had hurt his feelings in some way, but at last he met her eyes and cleared his throat.
“Yes, I do know a good deal about those things,” he said, as he slowly rubbed the scar on his face. “You see I was, or am, perhaps Gastro’s best friend. I was there when all of this happened. Now I see by the looks of both of you, that you have dozens of questions, and before you start in with all of that, let me say that it is getting quite late and we need to get up very early to start on our journey in the morning. Perhaps you could grant an old bear a bit of a reprieve until tomorrow? We can then take up this tale once more as we travel, if it pleases the two of you to do so. And I will indeed answer anything you ask.”
“We'd love it,” said Lukus. “Just one teensy short little question and then we will fly straight to bed.” 
Fuzz nodded with a sigh.
“You aren’t really a bear, are you?”
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“No I’m not, Lukus. Gastro and I grew up together in Niarg and we've been close friends for as long as I can remember. When he vanished, I surmised that Ugleeuh'd had something to do with it and set out to discover just what. Eventually I came here in search of answers and found him, a sea monster. By then however, Ugleeuh had been banished here too, and she had no intention of letting me leave to tell the tale." He drew a deep breath as a bristly shudder swept through him. "It amused her mightily to turn me into...this. And so, I remain a bear to this day, and probably for all the rest of my days, as well. Now please, no more questions until we are underway tomorrow.”
Rose and Lukus each quietly hugged poor old Fuzz and went straightaway to bed as their heads reeled with a veritable avalanche of questions.   (Ch 17)
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"They arrested her and called for me, and I sent for Razzmorten while she still held the incriminating vial in her hand..."
"You?" said Rose. "Just who were you, anyway? Gastro's friend, sure, but you know so much. What was your connection with Niarg Castle?"
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"Captain of the Royal Guard, if you must. Sir Karlton Strong. And I remember the very day you were born, Rose."
"So when did you come?"
"Here? Well, I was Fuzz the Bear well before Lukus came along, I should think. But as I was saying, Ugleeuh still had the vial in her hand when we got there. The dishes were set on the floor before two good hounds which fell dead, gobbling them up." By now Fuzz had found a rock to sit on beside the path. He shook his head as if to clear away the memories. "That's the main reason for Ugleeuh's exile," he said as he clapped his forepaws onto both knees at once, launching himself onto his feet. "We've got to move. It's a long, dangerous way, yet."   (Ch 19)
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Monday, January 19, 2015

Who is Fuzz?



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Fuzz is Sir Karlton Strong, captain of the Niarg Royal Guard, when the future queen of Niarg
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Minuet Dewin, is still a young lady at home at Peach Knob Manor in Good Sister, Bad Sister. When his lifelong friend Gastro vanishes, Captain Strong goes in search of him and finds that he has been turned into a sea serpent by Ugleeuh and left to patrol the waters off the coast of the Chokewood Forest for the rest of his days. Ugleeuh is not about to allow Strong to return to Niarg with the news of this, so she casts a spell on him, turning him into a bear with no hair, hopelessly addicted to sukere and confined to her part of the Chokewoods.

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seamonsterMinuet marries Hebraun, the future king of Niarg. When their daughter, Princess Rose, is sixteen, she sets out with her brother, Prince Lukus, in The Collector Witch to find Ugleeuh in order to discover what her true relationship to the House of Niarg happens to be. Ugleeuh holds them captive in her cottage all summer. At last they escape and end up in Fuzz's den as they flee. Fuzz sets out on a harrowing trek to the sea with them to find Gastro in hopes that he would take them to safety.
Stone_Heart_Cover_for_KindleFive years later, Rose and Lukus return to the Chokewoods to find Fuzz freshly released from The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle
Ugleeuh's spell, a handsome young man in his prime who falls in love with Rose in Stone Heart and marries her. Instead of having a honeymoon, they sail to the Dark Continent on an urgent mission and are lost at sea in The Burgeoning.

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps