Friday, January 12, 2018

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 10, 2018

Ocker Teaches Blodwwen



The moment Blodwen leant aside for more apples for her pan of water, Ocker and Urr-Urr rushed at her other pan and snapped up several apple slices apiece."Hey fowl!" she cried, hoplessly too late as they buoyed themselves above the reach of her swat with a couple of flaps and settled at the far end of the board.
bn_raven"Yea?" said Ocker as he gobbled down his slices. "Ravens is the kind we happen to be, if ye want to sound like you know things, dear. And by the way, nice apples."
"Thieving vermin is what," she growled. "Ye're damned well told, nice apples! I sliced 'em."
"Good for you, sweetheart," he said as he lunged into the air to hover over her shoulder. "You owe us."
"Just how in all the chiming bells of Golltowre is that?" she said, turning square
about on her seat in time for Urr-Urr to grab out more slices from her pan and lungeimages
into the air.
"Damn you varmints!" she cried, wheeling back to her pan.
"Listen quiente," he said, hovering at her ear, "you owe us because Meri Greenwood would never have got here without us. And if you had any sense you'd see hit. And while you're a-wising up, shouldn't someone be looking after Meri?"
"What?" she said.
"What's going to keep him from going all crazy and beating up the old hag,anyway?" he said, settling onto the table by Urr-Urr to take one of her slices. "If she's as
confounded ugly as these two, he might."
Closeup_North_Amer_Crow_t700"Look 'ee here!" cried Hubba Hubba. "These old ladies are nice!"
"Yea?" rattled Ocker. "What do you know about it, fraud? You ain't even a bird."
"I'll have you know I'm a double yellow-head Amazon..."
"Popinjays never made it all the way to birddom, hole!"
"And nobody owes you the time o' day..."
"Well Hubba Hubba," said Minuet, "I do owe him my life..."
"He's that very Ocker?"
Minuet and Razzmorten both nodded with twinkling eyes.
"Well maybe if he just watched his mouth..."
"Hey, I'm just distracted, Yellow Crow," said Ocker with wide-eyed smacks of his beak, gobbling down another slice of apple. "I mean, we brought Meri all the way here,and now his whole world just caved in on him, don't ye know..."
il_570xN.408687206_rfku"Whosoes woreld hath juste kaaved in?" said Meri as everyone in the room stopped short at the sight of the radiantly gorgeous Celeste on his arm.
"You fixed her," awked Ocker. "You going to pretty up the other Fairies, too?"
"Ich didde nat," he said as he and Celeste knelt before a speechless Minuet. "My gracious Queene. Wolt thou us to marye this verray howre? In dede, wolt thou plesebeauty-blue-hair-emo-green-hair-Favim.com-1014236
marye us byforn weo risen fro oure knees?"
"Why, there's nothing I'd enjoy more!"
"Thanne byforn weo to risen, plese do," said Meri.
"But you need a bouquet," said Nacea.
"And shulden nat weo for this to reherse?" said Alvita.long-blue-green-hair
"Swyven off, you two!" said Ocker. "They want to nest."
"Plese," said Celeste. "Byforn my lokes dekay. Everych oon plese stant with us. Ocker, perchestow on Meri, if thou woldest. Every brid on a shulder. Ceidwad and Lladdwr, my derre children, plese yeve me awey."
The room hushed at once to hear the joyous vows.
***
They heard wings in time for Ocker to land on the board in front of Blodwen. "Hello, Apple-Slice," he said, running his beak down a flight feather.
162767579_a-basket-of-apples-giclee-print-by-august-laux"No!" snapped Blodwen, covering her pan with her arms. "Beat it!"
"Hey Apple-Slice," he croaked, walking right up to her pan with a cock of his head. "Better look out for Urr-Urr."
At the sound of wings behind her, she threw her chin to her shoulder to see.Quarter-the-Apples
Ocker grabbed up a huge beakful of slices and flew to the mantle.
"Look out Blodwen!" cawed Hubba Hubba, right before Urr-Urr grabbed a slice from the other side of the pan.
"Shut up Two-Head," said Ocker, setting his mouthful at his feet.
"You're in on it too, Hubba-Hubba?" said Blodwen as she watched Urr-Urr fly away with her prize.
"No!" cawed Hubba-Hubba. "I was only trying..."
"Thanks Two-Head," said Ocker. "Urr-Urr would never 'ave got hers without yourhelp."
"Hey! I was not trying to help Urr-Urr."
"Don't you birds ever learn?" said Blodwen as she covered her pan with a bread board.
"You're the one who won't learn, quiente," said Ocker. "We had you figured out the The Reaper Witch 01 copymoment we saw you. That's why we're still having to give you lessons."



Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps



Friday, January 5, 2018

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."
The Reaper Witch 01 copy




Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, December 29, 2017

Minuet has a Strange Light in Her Eye


Rose stood stiffly on the stool as a pair of seamstresses pinned the hem of Minuet's wedding gown. Minuet stood watching, radiant with happiness at her decision to wed as well as at her decision to wear her gown. "I'm more certain than ever that Mother and Father never expected me to marry," she thought with a smile. "Mother," she said, "I
suppose you understand that Fuzz and I want to wait for Lukus and Soraya to arrive
before we have the wedding?"
"That's what your father and I assumed," said Minuet as she stooped to examine just how her hem was pinned in a certain place, "but Lukus and his family should be arriving in a few short weeks, which really only gives us scarcely enough time for all the arrangements."
"We have plenty of time if we keep it small enough, Mother," said Rose with a smile.
Minuet opened her mouth to protest, but closed it with a grin. "It is your wedding, Rose. And I suppose you're right, all things considered."
"Yes," said Rose, as she thought: "After calling off the extravagant affair with James, who knows how it would go? Besides, these are bad times upon us." She stepped off the stool and out of the gown as the seamstresses carried it away for alterations. "Mother," she said, picking up her robe from across a chair. "I've come to a decision. I want you to do something for me, if you will."
"My word. Is something wrong?"
"Very wrong, actually. But to put you at ease, this has nothing to do with the wedding."
"By all means dear, if I possibly can. What is it?"
"Could you teach me to use my powers?"
"Why, I thought you'd decided that you wanted nothing to do with becoming a sorceress, Rose," she said with an astonished look.
"No, by no means. I never did. But I suppose I was doing little more than following in your footsteps, all these years. I think that under the current circumstances it would be irresponsible to have such an ability and not use it for the good of all."
Minuet's eyes flashed.
"Oh, my! I didn't mean it to sound that way. I was only referring to me. Our circumstances are altogether different. I'm not queen of anywhere. Fuzz is a military man
and will undoubtedly be in the thick of what's coming, and I've every intention of being
right beside him, so will you teach me?"
"Have you discussed this with Fuzz, dear? It would not be right to keep something like this to yourself."
"Not yet," said Rose with a sigh, "but rest assured, he'll abide by whatever I..."
"Of course Rose, I'd not expect otherwise. But it would put me at ease, knowing that you'd discussed it with him."
"You're so provincial, Mother."
"'Considerate' is what we once called it, I believe."
"I'll go speak with him this minute, but I suggest you go dig out your wand."
"All right," said Minuet, as a strange light kindled in her eye. "You've a bargain."
Ch. 35, Stone Heart
















Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

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.

Fuzz Small



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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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Abbey Sees Like an Elf



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Prince Abaddon of Loxmere-Goll sees someone in the distance as he rides into the great desert of the Wilderlands with Shot 'n' Stop the python on the back of Arwr the diatryma in Chapter 39 of The Burgeoning...
The sun still hadn't come over the mountains by the time they had set out again, taking a diagonal path down the face of the long steep slope. By the time it was bearing down on them making the day hot, they had gone a good league beyond the shelf, and Abaddon began to make out great tree trunks strewn about everywhere, sticking out of the colored dirt and sand as far as the eye could see.
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Shot 'n' Stop had noticed too. "If thosse bare trunksses are ssuppossed to be a forresst, I don't think we'll ssee any sshade," he said as he slithered across Abaddon's leg to rise up between his arms for a look. "I jusst don't ssee any leavesses, kiddo."
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"I don't either," said Abaddon. "Maybe there was a big fire or something."
"I believe it's a stone forest," said Arwr, "though I'd not heard that such a thing existed outside the Dark Continent."
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"Stone forest?" said Abbey.
"We'll see soon enough. I do know that this is called the Red Desert..."
"Red? It looks tan and white and purple and black."
"Indeed," said Arwr, "but Súlacha said that just beyond the horizon it looks bright brick red, and redder still should we happen to get a rain."
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"Rain?" said Abaddon. "It doesn't look as if it ever rains here."
"Oh but it does. Look at all the deep gullies running down the slopes. I'd allow that it seldom rains."
"Hey!" cried Abaddon, straining to see from under the flat of his hand. "See that, Arwr? I swear I saw someone dart between a couple of stone trees down yonder. I think he had a bright green hood on. I thought nobody lived in the Wilderlands."
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Arwr shared a look with Shot 'n' Stop. "If you're certain, Abby, perhaps we should point him out to King Neron."
"Oh, I saw him."
"Then hang on," said Arwr as he flew down the slope at a light, easy jog.
"Arwr?"
"Yes?"
"Grown-ups never thought I had anything important to say back in Castle Goll."
"Well this could be important," said Arwr, "and try to keep your eye on the spot where you saw him."
Abaddon just hugged Arwr's big fluffy neck.
 ***
"Can ye point him out Prince Abaddon?" said Súlacha as he shaded his eyes to look about.
"'Way out yonder, I think."
Súlacha kept looking. "Ansin," he said with a sharp nod as he stared. "I do indeed see prints in the sand which look to be human, but I see nothing astir down there now but a couple of lizards."
"I don't see any of that," said Abaddon. "You've sure got good eyes."
"But you're not an Elf yet, Prince Abaddon," said Súlacha with a serious face.
"You mean all Elves can see faraway like that?"
The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle"No. Just the aons with eyes," he said, studying the footprints. "Sire! Look yonder. There's a man down there amongst the stone trees and he has green hair."
"A Fairy!" cried Abaddon with an excited bounce on Arwr, as Neron strained to see just where.
"Well, Prince Abaddon," said Súlacha. "Perhaps you've been a-seeing like an Elf all along, since you were the first to spot him."
 Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps