Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ugleeuh Loves Her Bloated Hubba Hubba


 Part Three
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Lukus swelled up with a rejoinder, but dropped it at the sight of ol' Ma'am returning with an Scan10067armload of blankets. On her shoulder perched a huge smug crow. "What a conceited fowl," he thought.
"Here's my dearest," she said grandly. “His name is Hubba Hubba and he is such a darling, but I'm afraid he enjoys eating more than he does flying. He's just a bit too plump to get off the ground these days..."
***
“Yea," said Hubba Hubba with pompous arrogance. "Time to eat." 
Rose bolted upright, wide eyed. “It talks!” she said, flinging back her covers. “I thought only parrots could do that, and not even all of them.”
Ugleeuh and Hubba Hubba turned to glare at her with one icy accord, reminding her so much of a pair of glaciers, that without thinking she pulled her blankets back over her legs.
“My name is Hubba Hubba,” he said with a flash of his eyes, as he straightened his heft beneath his bristling mantle of feathers. "I am not a thing. Do not refer to me as 'It!'” 
Ugleeuh swelled up with a hiss through her nose to glower down at Rose.
Rose shrank back into her bed roll.
“I don’t like parrots," she snarled. "I would never have one, and I prefer not to discuss the vile creatures. Crows, particularly this one, have far greater command of language than any parrot. And from now on, if either of you talks about or speaks to my dearest, you'll call him Hubba Hubba. Is that perfectly clear?”
 ****
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“So," said Hubba Hubba with a rasp like a rusty hinge as he leveled a derisive squint. "Just how much of the time which you just spent outside was actually taken up by deciding if your unicorns were indeed gone? At this rate, I’ll be lucky to get into the air before Ugleeuh gets back. Why, she might not even see me up there and crash into me. Chaos and mayhem. I’d be dead and you two would be to blame. She'd never get over it. She'd never forgive you. Never let you go if she even let you live.”
“Don’t you dare threaten us with that old sow witch of yours, Lard Ball!” shouted Lukus, lunging at him with a stamp. “What I want to know is what the old bat's done with our unicorns. She has no right to take them! She could hang for it, don't you know. Where are they? She has no...”
“Careful there snot,” he said as he leant forward, following Lukus's movements minutely. “You’re repeating yourself. And I'd also advise you to be cautious about how you speak to me and how you treat me, because Ugleeuh will hear of it. In fact, she's told me to give her a complete report of your entire behavior upon her return, and I must say that it's not very favorable, so far.”

 ***
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“Good," she said. "Then I suppose we have no choice for our next step but to hitch up the sparrows.” She shuddered as she looked about and found them, shackled to their iron balls, pecking at crumbs on the floor. “So then, Hubba Hubba, just how does one wrangle venomous little birds into harnesses and make them do your bidding without getting poisoned in the process?”
He made no reply, but Rose's comment stopped all three sparrows at once. They gazed up at her, keenly absorbed in what she was up to. He leant forward, clacked his beak and leered at them, but the grumpy gesture caused them to break out in a titter. He ruffled up with a heavy shake and hoisted himself into an aloof posture.                   
Rose turned to Lukus. He shrugged, making it quite clear that he knew no more about the matter than she.
“Well,” said Hubba Hubba from under a half opened eye, “they might not be quite as deadly as Ugleeuh led you to believe.”
“Just how much risk is there to handling them?” said Rose.
“Practically none,” he said, almost meekly.
“Practically!” yelped Lukus. “What does that mean? Either the birds are dangerous or they aren't, Tubbo!”
"Name calling is very childish and rude," said Hubba Hubba as he drew himself up on his perch, obviously stung by Lukus’s taunts about his corpulence. "It was not I, dear impetuous one, who told you that tale about the slaves, you know.”
"No, but you're the one who's refused to be clear about it, yet."
“Lukus! None of this is getting us anywhere,” said Rose. “Hubba Hubba, are the sparrows poisonous or not?” 
"Not in the least," he sighed. "Chirp, Tweet and Squeak merely have small minds."






Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps


Friday, February 20, 2015

Ugleeuh Hates Hubba Hubba: Part Two




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"Happy birthday!" cried Wizard Razzmorten with a grand whirl of his cape, leaving a round wooden box with a gawking baby parrot sitting on the board by the cake.
Ugleeuh 3"What is that thing, Father?"
"Why a popinjay, dear. They're almost impossible to come by..."
"It's all pinfeathers. You surely don't intend for it to actually be my gift, do you?"
"Well it's right young, Leeuh," he said. "When you start with them at that age, they can actually be talking to you before they're quite a year old."
"Not if I drown it first..."
"Lee-Lee!" cried her sister. "You don't mean that! What an awful way to treat your Father..."
"Oh go on! He surely knows better. Here I am, still waiting for you to serve me, and he runs up and plops down this dirty box full of muslin, fowl and green poop, right where I was expecting my cake. And by the way, dearest Minuet, just how long are you going to stand there with my saucer in your hand? It is my birthday, don't you know. And since that thing in the box is my birthday gift, I certainly get to drown it."
"Don't you dare!" said Minuet. "I'll take it if you don't want it..."
"Please!" said Razzmorten, throwing up his hands. "Let's you and I take the morning tomorrow and find you something special in the market, or if you know of something better just..."
Ugleeuh wasn't listening. "You can have the stinking popinjay, Minuet, if you give me my cake before it slides off the saucer."
"You mean it?"
"Sure sister dear. The cake now, and it's yours, but you'll still owe me."
 ***
Ugleeuh came to Razzmorten's door and opened it. A pungent smell of old paper whirled through the room on a rush of air from the window, bright with yellow maple leaves. "Oh, he's busy with his stupid still," she said. She skipped down the hallway to Minuet's room and peered in. "No Minny-Min," she said, clasping her hands together. "She's off somewhere, busy at being just too, too." She stopped short at the sight of Hubba Hubba on his perch by the bed. "But the stinking popinjay's sure here."
Hubba Hubba went skinny as she crossed the room.
"Hold still, popinjay," she said as she crept up to the perch. "It's high time we drowned you, don't you think?"
He stood upright with wide orange eyes, leaning back away from her as she drew near. The magna10-5-99moment she grabbed for him, he bit the web of her hand and flew away into the hallway, screaming: "Minuet! Minuet! Minuet!"
"I'm not done with you, stinker!" shouted Ugleeuh as she grabbed her bleeding hand. "How about spending eternity as a crow?"
Suddenly Minuet stepped into the doorway, out of breath.
"Minny-Min!" cried Ugleeuh, as if she'd just stepped out of a coach. "I'm home!"
 ****
Minuet stood inside the doorway catching her breath, as a whir of wings flew 'round the corner from the hallway. She held up her finger to collect the landing flurry of feathers without taking her eyes off Ugleeuh.
"Minuet!" shrieked Hubba Hubba between pants. "Bad bear witch!"
"Well you certainly excited Hubba Hubba, Leeuh," said Minuet. "What happened? Did Uncle Razzorbauch disappoint you, or did you disappoint him?"
"Bad!" growled Hubba Hubba.
"No, no sweetness," said Ugleeuh with a pampered tone. "You disappoint me. You failed as big sister. I've tried and tried so hard as little sister, but you're just too, too."
"Bad witch!" growled Hubba Hubba. 
"Do you really expect a warm welcome after the way you left? You didn't even tell Father."
"Right!" she scoffed as she brushed passed Minuet on her way to the door. "As if I owed him. He's hardly been a father. What would he care? Always trying to make me to fit the goody-goody mold, just like big sister. He's the one who owes me."

 


Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Who is Hubba Hubba: Part One



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Hubba Hubba is a double yellow head Amazon parrot who is given as a baby by the wizard Good_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_KindleRazzmorten to his daughter Ugleeuh for her birthday in Good Sister, Bad Sister. Ugleeuh is offended by the very sight of her gift and threatens to drown him. Her sister Minuet protests at once, so Ugleeuh lets her have him. Throughout her remaining time at home, Ugleeuh makes repeated impulsive attempts to do in poor Hubba Hubba. At last she casts a spell on him, turning him into a crow and vanishes with him.
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Years later in The Collector Witch, Minuet is now the queen of Niarg. Her children Rose and The_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_KindleLukus find Ugleeuh living in exile in the Chokewood Forest with Hubba Hubba, who is still a crow and by now has grown obese and flightless. Ugleeuh holds them captive at once, but as soon as she learns who they are, she sends Hubba Hubba with an 800px-Corvus_corone_Rabenkrähe_1extortion note to Niarg, demanding her freedom in exchange for their release. When he reaches Niarg, he refuses to return to the Chokewoods and is eventually turned back into a parrot. In time he sires two clutches by Pebbles, Minuet's green cheeked Amazon.
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Hubba Hubba becomes an important member of the House of Niarg in Stone Heart. He andStone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle Pebbles are indispensable to Wizard Razzmorten when his trip to The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlesee the dragons and have a look at the Chokewoods turns into a race to warn the Elves that Queen Spitemorta and Demonica are now a peril to the entire world. In The Burgeoning, he becomes a crow again in order to help Herio spy on Spitemorta in Castle Goll, and continues playing his part inThe Reaper Witch 01 copy the thick of Niarg's struggle for survival in The Reaper Witch.







Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why Fantasy?



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I grew up in the land of Eden, I swear, which I could not possibly appreciate until it was too late grazing-dairy-cattleto come back. I grew up on what was for its time, a large dairy farm, with a big pond, a huge woods and the third best creamchickens-in-apricot-orchards-permaculture producing dairy herd in the state. We also had sheep and occasional hogs. We had milk, home-made butter and cottage cheese out the ears. We butchered. We dressed chickens
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and made cider. We had a five acre apple orchard in its prime, put up every bit of our own produce from our garden and had irises and peonies, gladiolas
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and snapdragons growing everywhere. We had no pesticides yet. Barn swallows swooped after flies, herons nested by the pond and every species of bird imaginable filled the air with their calls on a June day.
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Mom and Dad were positively crazy about each other. They got giddy and sang as they worked herbGardentogether. The neighbors were like extended family and everyone, I mean everyone got along. We went to the church down the road and we would go to each other's houses and have square July-6-8-040dances and big sings. Both sets of my grandparents were alive and well in their eighties, and the neighborhood was brimming with people born well before rosegardenthe twentieth century. I got taken to a lot of funerals, but I spent a lot of afternoons after Sunday dinner, rolling around on the floor, listening to old folksimages (3) tell about their parents breaking the first prairie sod with oxen or about what happened to them during the Civil War.
mckenzie_jersey_cowsSuddenly I found myself in college. I was going to come back home and farm, but Dad got Alzheimer's and sold most of the farm before anyone was awake enough to stop him.
Carol and I went west and taught on the reservations. Some of Leaping Lamb Farm gardensthat was pretty rough, but I always reckoned we could manage to get through it, since I knew 1340897947_a76bcd560e5dthat sooner or later we were coming home to what was left of the farm.
The day came. I knew that the family were all gone before we ever started home. I knew that nobody waved anymore. I wasn't surprised that everyone I knew had moved away, either. After all, we had to go west, ourselves. Due to the massive pesticide use with no-till farming, I didn't Farm_Pond_With_Egret_fsimages (2)expect many birds. There has not been a single whip-poor-will call since we returned. And a thief took every last one of the tools which I grew up watching my family use to work the land.
My grandma said: "Time is a river. You can't stick your foot into the same water twice."images
medieval-fighterI don't care. There still has to be an Eden to go back to. One's mind has to be able to escape to some place enchanted. There has to be one good place. Carol opened a door. She invented the land of Niarg. And we've been visiting there ever since.
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 Tom Phipps

Friday, February 13, 2015

Herio Smashes Brutus: Part 4



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"What are we looking for?" said Hubba Hubba, as Herio dismounted and took up a keen search amongst the remains of the fallen.
Herio made no reply.
A_dead_elm_tree_on_Skelston_Moor_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1725919"That's north, Herio," said Hubba Hubba, gliding along beside him as he remounted and trotted away. "Don't we need to go south?"DSC_0003staresparrows
"It shouldn't be far off," said Herio, galloping a zigzag from helm to helm along the ground.
Hubba Hubba shared looks with Chirp, Tweet and Squeak as they followed along. Near a great naked dead elm, ringed with fallen sheets of bark and branches, Hero leaped to the ground to straddle a headless skeleton clad in a hauberk with a particularly ornate breastplate and gorget.
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He rolled it over once in the faded tatters of it's black and crimson cape and doublet, looking at 335px-Russian_helmet_13-14centit. "Pen cachu!" he snarled between his teeth as he came down as hard as he could with his heel on the breastplate. "Not good enough!" He looked about quickly and spied a large rock. He grabbed it at once, rocking it out of its depression in the ground. It took three good tries with his veins standing out, grunting and straining to get it shoulder high. Then with a stagger or two, he ran forth with everything he had to heave it at the breastplate which flattened to wrinkles, crushing the ribs. He stood back a moment, getting his breath. "Y pen! 'Na fargen!" he cried, suddenly dashing over to a silver helm resting in the weeds. As he grabbed it up, a skull fell out onto the12418547305X4hiX ground. "Pen cachu!" he cried out at the top of his lungs as he smashed it with the heel of his boot. "Llofrudd! You hanged my little brother! You hanged poor little Cefnogi Rhywun!" Taking a hatchet from behind Gwynt's saddle, he knocked out the eye teeth from the broken pieces and then chopped off the golden spike from the top of the helm. He wrapped all of them in a cloth and without a word mounted Gwynt.
Hubba Hubba, Chirp, Tweet and Squeak traded speechless looks from their perches high up in the dead elm before dropping into the air to follow.    
"Bernard said Hebraun himself took off the varmint's head," said Hubba Hubba as he landed on Herio's shoulder.
"And I am forever grateful, featherhead. I only regret not getting to see it happen."
"So what's going to happen to the spike and the teeth?"
"They're a-goin' deep into the mire in the stinkin'est privy that I happen to sit on in Goll, at least. article-1351054-0CEFC9EE000005DC-286_468x476Something good. I'm not sure yet."
Hubba Hubba gave a quick nod and clacked shut his beak.





Ch. 17, The BurgeoningThe_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps