Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Who are the Beaks?



The Beaks are the nation of humans who live in the Kingdom of Mar, a territory that takes in the 
extensive fens within the Chokewood Forest known as the Beakmore (Beakmoor). The Beakmore surrounds a raised and well drained pastoral area known as Caistealbeak which supports the town of Caistealbeak that in turn surrounds the Beak castle, known as Caisteal-Beak, an early Iron Age style circular stockade within a moat, which encloses a massive earthworks crowned by a rambling wooden castle proper that overlooks the surrounding countryside.

The Beak nation is widely regarded as dangerous and barbaric and takes extended spells of making raiding forays against neighboring communities. Troops of naked tattooed soldiers, their 
bodies smeared with a blue stain known as woad, are led by captains who in turn are commanded by the king who is addressed by either the title "ru" or "brude." In Stone Heart , book three of The Heart of the Staff, Brude Taylorg, Ru of Mar, governs every bit as naked and even more tattooed and stained with woad than his soldiers and believes himself to be the direct descendent of the deity Eochaid, the fastest luathas unicorn who ever lived, and also believes that he is watched over and protected by the mighty wolf deity, 
Madadh-Allaidh Neartmhor. Taylorg's daughter, the beautiful Princess Tramae, is half-sister to Queen Myrtlebell. When Myrtlebell is murdered by Queen Spitemorta of Goll, Taylorg seeks vengeance by sending Tramae to arrange an alliance with Myrtlebell's father, King Theran of Bratin Brute.
 In the days when Ugleeuh created the Peppermint Forest from part of the Chokewoods, Brude 
Taylorg refused to be cowed by her threats. To force matters, she cast a spell on the Beaks to keep them in perpetual submission and humiliation by turning them into a nation of pot-bellied, marshmallow suckers, known as the Gobblers. 



So in The Collector Witch book two of The 
Heart of the Staff, Taylorg was known as Greedygut, Caisteal-Beak was the Gobbler Castle and the Beakmore was known as the Gobbler Marsh.

Are there fearsome blue meanies that you know about? Please let us know.

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps 

Arwr the Diatryma Finds Humanity in Vyrpudi the Troll

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"Mary," said Arwr softly from beneath the lone scrubby pine.
"Does your leg hurt, Arwr?" she said. "I've some herbs that might stop the pain without putting you to sleep."
"No Mary. My leg is merely bruised and the pain is bearable," he said, nodding to where800px-nyndrtly

Vyr-pudi was chained, beyond the fire. "Did you know that Vyr-pudi saved my life? He saved Abaddon's, too."
"That's his name, Vyr-pudi? Have you learnt any more of his language?"
"Yes actually, but what I did not expect is that he's beginning to understand ours."
"How do you know?"
"He called out my name quite clearly, just in time for me to dodge the lyoth which brought me down. I have no doubt that he saved my life and Abaddon's, too. Abaddon got
thrown off my back while I was kicking at the Lyoth. Vyrpudi caught him. And when he
saw his moment, he jumped the Lyoth and strangled it with his chain. No one has even
thanked him." He gave the side of his beak a thoughtful saw across a fallen pine trunk and
thoroughly shook his feathers.
Mary sat speechless for a moment, listening to the owl as a pop in the fire sent sparks dashing into the starry sky. "Oh my," she said. "I see your point Arwr, but he is a troll surrounded by Elves. He undoubtedly had some part in feasting on the Elves in two Jutish villages, and you know better than I do what you caught him in the act of doing at Oilean Gairdin." She peered at Vyr-pudi, sitting in his chains. "You're right, Arwr. We're no better at all if we can't show humanity when it's needed." She stood and brushed off her skirts. "Do you know the Trollish words for thank you?"
Arwr nodded his head. "Afey-fira."
"Afey-fira...afey-fira," she said as she started over to Vyrpudi, who sat up quite straight at her approach. "Well. Arwr says your name is Vyr-pudi."
Vyr-pudi became very wide eyed at this.
"Anyway we," she said, pointing to herself and then back to Arwr, "want to tell you afey-fira."
Vyrpudi's eyes bugged out and his jaw dropped open as she squatted before him and carefully reached out her hand. At once he drew back from her touch as if she were about to strike him. "Well I guess that wasn't a good idea," she said as she stood up and let her arms fall to her sides. She smiled at him and walked back to the fire.
"I believe he thought I was about to hit him," she said as she found her spot on the rock.
Arwr glanced over at Vyr-pudi who was now watching them with undisguised curiosity. "Yes I saw," he said, "but you didn't hit him and he can plainly see that you didn't intend to. He'll figure it all out. Where it will all go, though, I can't guess. You do remember that when I captured him, the plan was to learn what we could from him and then kill him, don't you?"
"I remember," she said, shaking her head. "Even with his valiant deeds today, after so many long years of attacks on Elves..."
"I know," he said as he snapped each wing and settled himself, closing his eyes. "We shall simply have to take things as they come."
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps




Friday, July 13, 2018

Abaddon Goes Into the Mountain




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Lance shifted on his saddle in the thick whirling snow and gathered his collar over his muffler as he peered from under his hat at the top of the mountain. "Well Abaddon," he called out cheerfully over the wind, "we'll be over the top directly and we'll be getting out of this weather!"
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"My momma's goin' 'o kill you for stealing me away from her," said Abaddon with a baleful snarl. "And when I tell her all about it, she'll hurt you a whole lot for a long, long time before she stops your heart."
"Oh, she'll have to catch us first," said Lance buoyantly, as a shudder ran through him.
"She'll catch you, all right! Oh, yes she will! And it'll be a lot of fun!"
"After five long days in the cold, it's a mercy we won't have to sleep out in this," thought Lance with another shudder as the unicorns stepped their way up, crunching loose shards of stone through the new layer of snow. Having grown up here, he was familiar with the sudden fierce winter storms up in the Pitmaster's Kettles. He glanced aside at Abaddon. In spite of how good he'd always been with children, the boy unnerved him. "I'll do it for James," he thought, wishing he did not have to. Abaddon looked up at him with a red-eyed glower, as if he knew exactly what he had just been thinking, giving him a sudden bristle of goose flesh. He quickly turned away. "Surely he doesn't read thoughts. I've never heard that Spitemorta does." He looked back again to suddenly feel guilty for thinking all of this at the sight of Abaddon looking right at him with the innocent smile of a boy on an adventure. He smiled back and began searching for the path over the top. "Here we go!" he called out. "Right yonder! Just keep Sheba close to Stepper and we'll soon be out of the weather in the heart of this ol' mountain!"
"What do you mean? You don't mean we're going clean inside it, do you?"
"Sure do," said Lance with a nod. "This is a vulcan mountain. Its top was once a cauldron of melted red-hot rock. If it weren't for the snow, you'd see frozen rivers of rock running down it's sides from long ago. That's what all the black rock between the trees was, 'way back down below, before we ever started up here. The top of each one of these mountains for miles and miles is a deep pit. that's why they're called the Pitmaster's Kettles. And here we are." He slapped his hand onto his hat in the furious wind at the very top of the slope as his unicorn hesitated between a pair of boulders on the rim, stepping restlessly from side to side before finding his first steps of the steep decent beyond. "See out yonder? the whole top of this mountain is naught but a giant deep hole. And here we go, on the path right down into the mountain, but you watch out and keep Sheba close behind. I don't want you falling off the side. It's a long way down."Extinct-volcano-crater-Mo-013
"I better not fall. My momma would kill you even worse if I did."
"Yea, and your dad wouldn't be too happy either."
Abaddon gave a contemptuous snort, but quickly donned a look of excited expectancy in spite of himself. Soon they were below the wind, carefully finding their way down the narrow path, knocking loose rocks to go skittering and bounding off into the depths. He anxiously peered down into the crater, but strain as he might, he could not see the bottom. "Hey," he demanded. "It's gettin' darker and darker. How are we going to see? In fact, what's going to keep us from falling off?"
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"Stepper and Sheba. The unicorns see a lot better in the dark than we do and they're completely sure-footed if you don't rush them. They'll find their way. Besides, it'll get lighter before long."
"You're crazy. It's been getting darker and darker."
"Well, when you get down far enough, there's quite a lot of glow lichen growing, though we're not far enough to tell it yet. Have you noticed it getting warmer?"
"The wind's died down is all. It's not any warmer."
"Well, what do you suppose happened to all the snow, Abby?"
"You're not allowed to say things like that! You're supposed to call me 'Your Highness!'"
"Well, maybe when you earn it..."
Abaddon drew a breath for a furious shout, but fell silent with a gasp at the sudden sight of a faint glow, far below in the blackness.





Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ocker the Raven





"Now look!" cried Demonica. "You knocked my flowers into the syrup, fowl!"
"So? Stop waving your swyving arms, then. Besides, I want you to do something for me..."
"What, then?"
"I want you to make hit so that I can travel anywhere I want by spell, instead of just to here and back," he said as he wiped off his beak and gave himself a thorough shake.
"For what? What's your news?"
"I already gave hit to you when you said you gave me the powers of a swyving hedge wizard..."
"So you suddenly think I should pay you twice, aye?"
"Listen, queinte!" he squawked, thrusting himself up to bristle like a pine cone. "I've learnt from a right true source that magic powers can't be given. You're either born with them, or you're not. And I was, so you knew hit when you tricked me."
"I'll pay you well for the name of who told you."
Ocker is the only raven known who is able to use magic. In Good Sister, Bad Sister, he lives with his wife Urr-Urr at their nest atop the great bluff overlooking the keep of the evil wizard Razzorbauch. Based on the behavioral studies of ravens by ethologist Bernd Heinrich and the folklore of Native Americans and Celts, Ocker is a profane, amoral huckster, who is forever wheedling things he wants from powerful people in exchange for tidbits of choice information. He does routine business with Demonica the sorceress as well as Razzorbauch, but he also has occasional dealings with Meri Greenwood the Fairy and the Jutland Elves. When Ocker sells the whereabouts of Greenwood's lover to Razzorbauch as well as to Greenwood, the lover and her sisters are doomed to live in Mount Bed forever. Even so, it is Ocker who ends up saving the day.
We seldom use profanities in our writing, but Ocker is a most profane character, so we have him swearing exclusively with obsolete English words. The above passage is as foul and graphic as any swearing you'll ever hear on the street.




Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps  

Monday, July 9, 2018

Niarg's Longbow

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When King Hebraun of Niarg comes to the throne in Good Sister, Bad Sister  , he promisesGood_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_KindleEuropean_Longbow_and_Arrows-600806-model that his subjects will have a say in the important matters of the kingdom, and he promises to lead them into battle himself if ever they are forced into war. To discourage that from ever happening, Hebraun decrees that every citizen keep a longbow in his house and practice with it at the public butts at least once a month. Anyone who participates in such practices is given the privilege of voting in public gatherings by raising his bow over his head to allow his vote to be counted. 
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Hebraun knows well that longbowmen can loose better than twice as many arrows in a given period of time than crossbowmen can shoot bolts, and are generally more able to hit targets atmerlin_soldiers long range. Meanwhile, kingdoms surrounding Niarg prefer crossbows for their own armies because crossbows require far less practice by soldiers who are denied the right to keep arms in their own homes.
The people of Niarg spend nearly the entire time Hebraun is on the throne living in a prosperous peace. And they take him and their right to vote very seriously indeed. 
longbow (1)Everyone practices at the butts, and everyone turns out to be counted when a vote is to be taken. Competitions and war games are soon part of the monthly practices, with parades and prizes to celebrate the winners. Before long, Niarg is known far and wide as a nation of keen archers. When word gets out about whole squads of them hitting targets at ranges well beyond the reach of crossbows, those with dark designs grumble and leave Niarg to its prosperity. 
The_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_KindleAfter a time, a new queen of Goll comes to the throne by murdering her parents, in The Collector Witch.  She is much too vain and drunk on the power shown to her byStone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle her sorceress grandmother to notice Niarg's skills before sending her army to their doorstep to be slaughtered, in Stone Heart. In The Burgeoning, her grandmother replaces her army The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlewith a division of Gwaelic regulars and a division of Gwaelic mercenaries. In The Reaper Witch, she sends both Gwaelic armies to surprise the Niarg army, campedThe Reaper Witch 01 copy along the Loxmere River. The regulars accidently arrive before the mercenaries and are thoroughly decimated by Niarg's longbowmen, in spite of Gwael's advantage.

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, June 29, 2018

Time does not Exist








My how time flies. Isn't it something how twenty years ago seems like only yesterday, yet back when you were four, a summer lasted for a small eternity? Not only have we all heard this sort of thing, but every last one of us experiences time exactly this way. Meanwhile, we have the clock ticking away at exactly the same rate today that it ticked forty years ago. The reason that this can happen is because there is no real time which exists in nature at all. And since it doesn't exist, there is no way one could ever run it backwards, change its rate or travel in it.

All that happens in nature is the progressive occurrence of natural phenomena. Cells divide at the speed which they happen to divide, the granite cliff face crumbles onto the talus pile below as fast as it crumbles, and the earth rotates on and on, independent of any sort of time.




Time is our abstraction. We invented it, just as we came up with the inch and the foot and the mile. We began keeping track of the earth's rotations and invented time based upon a rotation's subdivision, hours at first with sundials, then minutes, once we had managed a reliable clock escapement and eventually nanoseconds. As soon as we had invented these hour and second pieces of a rotation of the earth, we could measure the duration of all sorts of things in terms of them.

And from beginning to end, we remain biological beings. We do not innately look at things from the perspective of a ticking mechanism. Events fly by more as we get older simply because our only natural way of sensing them is by contrasting their duration with how long our life has been so far. A summer for a four year old is a far more noticeable percentage of his life than it is of the life of an eighty year old.




There is indeed a progression of natural events that we are swept along with. And we can call this progression "time" if we must, but our label gives us no mastery at all. We only progress at the rate nature allows. We might someday leap into space faster than light and turn about to see earlier events brought to us by the light we outran, but this is not time travel. We are only fooling ourselves. If we are ever to go rollicking about in the distant past or future, we shall simply have to use magic.


Tom Phipps


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Languages in The Heart of the Staff


 
Modern English is the language spoken throughout Elf Killers and the epic series, Heart of the Staff.  Fairies speak Middle English without most of its obsolete words in The BurgeoningReaper Witch (February, 2013) and Doom (Summer, 2013). The rest of the languages used appear as isolated words and sentences chosen to give realism and color to various characters. Most of these are explained by context and all can be found translated in the respective glossaries in the books where they appear.
 






 Language:                              What it is:                               Who speaks it:

Niarg Standard                       current Modern English          Kingdom of Niarg
                                                                                                Kingdom of Loxmere
                                                                                                Kingdom of Goll
                                                                                                Kingdom of Bratin Brute
                                                                                                Jutish Elves
                                                                                                naked dragons
                                                                                                Cyclopsia

Archaic Modern Niarg            Middle English                       all Fairies
                                                                                            all profanities uttered by
                                                                                                  Ocker the raven
                                                                                            Niarg (600 yrs prior)

Old Niarg Standard                Welsh                                     Kingdom of Niarg
                                                                                             Kingdom of Loxmere
                                                                                             Kingdom of Goll
                                                                                             Kingdom of Bratin Brute
                                                                                             Cyclopsia

Jutish Elven                             Irish                                        Jutish Elves

Old Gwaelic Elven                 Irish                                         Gwaelic Elves (1M yrs prior)

Gwaelic Elven                         Manx                                      Gwaelic Elves

Gwaelic                                   Cornish                                   Gwael

Headlandish                            Breton                                     Penvro (Head)
                                                                                              Dark Empire
                                                                                              Mammvro

Goblish-Beakish                      Pictish                                     Kingdom of Marr (Beaks)
                                                Doric
                                                Scots

Ngop                                       Wagiman                                 the Ngop

Wagiman is almost extinct. The last I knew, only ten Australian Aboriginals still speak it.

Trollish                                    transposition of an                    trolls
                                               aboriginal language

Trollish is a very nasal sounding language, the transposition of an aboriginal New World language, where each letter in the original tongue is replaced with a different letter. In particular, the sounds most frequently used by the aboriginal speakers are replaced with the sounds which are the very most difficult for them to pronounce. Trollish uses such non European peculiarities as noun-verbs, which we originally tried to represent in English by running nouns and verbs together (as they are in the aboriginal) in words such as, headsmashjuicychampcantgoback, rollybottomhohoslap and grabupsqueakers, which we soon changed to head-smashjuicy-champcan't-go-backrolly-bottom-ho-ho-slap and grab-up-squeakers in order to be easy to read.
And as always, please let us know what you think,