Monday, August 3, 2015

Neanderthal Under the Bridge

                                                                                                                                                                    




























In spite of what some people insisted twenty years ago, Neanderthals are not members
of our species. They are Homo neanderthalensis and we are Homo sapiens. We are closely related but different species, not different races of the same species. Thousands of years in chilly overcast Europe selected for lots of Neanderthal characteristics similar to those of modern White humans, but now that we are able to compare actual Neanderthal DNA to ours, we find that these similarities are derived altogether differently. Neanderthals used entirely different DNA for their red hair than we use for ours.

Neanderthals' DNA differs from ours by 27.2 gene substitutions. Chimpanzees' DNA differs from ours by 55.0 gene substitutions. This means that Neanderthals were half as distantly related to us as chimpanzees. In spite of how much graphic representations such as Popeye look like humans to us, we would not have been inclined to breed with the Neanderthals we chanced upon, because they were simply too different.

If one is lucky enough to compare actual Neanderthal skulls to those of humans, he sees that Neanderthals had brow ridges and rounded chins, all right, but he also sees that Neanderthals had huge eye sockets and a ballooned-out cranium in back, called an occipital bun. Casual observers seem to miss this, but to me this strongly suggests that Neanderthals were nocturnal. Nocturnal animals have larger eyes and enlarged visual areas of the brain which the bun would have housed.

Neanderthal fossils have an exceptional amount of healed fractures. When I was a crazy kid, we had a sport. We'd go out into the pasture where the cattle were bedded down in the moonlight to pick out a cow,
jump astride her and see how long we could hang on when she got to her feet. Is this how Neanderthals hunted wooly mammoths?

Neanderthals showed up in Europe about 200,000 years ago and persisted until 28,000-24,000 years ago. We showed up about 35,000 years ago and warily shared the same habitat with them, for anywhere from 7,000 to 11,000 years. That's a long time to avoid running into them in the shadows. We've only farmed and had towns for what, 8,000 years?

24,000 years is an awfully long time ago, but do you reckon that the troll under the bridge is some sort of ancient cultural memory? Is that why trolls are supposed to turn to stone in daylight? What do you think?

Tom Phipps

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Diatrymas Take Edward to the Dragon Caves

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Edward lay still as a newborn fawn behind the granite rock where Mary had shoved him, until long after the only sounds to be heard were the leaves of grass stirring in the evening breeze. His stout little heart had shored up all it could manage and at last he gave way, crying out with whooping sobs through the sleeves of his sweater into roots of the grass in the pungent sod where he lay. After a time, with the last his tears drying on his face, something gently tugged at his collar and he looked up at the giant bird who had been standing vigil over him.
"Ceidwad! You stayed!"
"I expect your heart still wants to break," said Ceidwad with a deep reedy rasp, as she delicately rattled her enormous beak along the length of a lock of his hair.
"You talk!"
"Only when we must. Edward, your mother needs your help. She needs you to be brave. Climb onto Lladdwr this minute. We must be off to the dragons."
Lladdwr studied him with one eye for just a moment, then quickly stepped forth and settled onto his breastbone. Edward hurriedly clambered onto his saddle as best he could with legs too short for the stirrups.
"Let's go," said Edward as he looked back to see Ceidwad ready to follow. "I sure hope this takes me to the dragons."
"We're quite aware of the way," said Lladdwr resonating in a voice like Ceidwad's only much deeper.
"Let's go fast!" cried Edward with startling exuberance, as he grabbed the cantle of his saddle and shook it back and forth.
"Say something if I frighten you."
Edward hugged Lladdwr's thick, fluffy neck for his kindly tone, and at once the gigantic bird surged forward and kept gathering speed until Edward checked the ground to see if they had not actually taken to the air. He clung to the saddle for dear life but refused to let on. He'd never hurt his wonderful big bird's feelings.
Ch. 8, Stone Heart
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Arwr the Diatryma Bites Vyrpudi the Troll on the Buttock


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"Oooooooff...vooov...vooob!" boomed Lladdwr, flashing the red patches in his wings and tail, lowering his head and popping his beak as he pranced alongside another troll before flattening him with a brutal sideways kick. Lukus ran through a third one, and was yanking out his claymore when Soraya put an arrow into the mouth of a fourth, who had just stepped up with his club, all ready to brain him. Ceidwad and Lladdwr had each just taken down another brute apiece when yet another troll grabbed away Soraya's bow and started dragging her off into the timber.
"Soraya!" cried out Lukus as he dashed after them. "Stinking troll cachu!"
180px-Diatryma_reconstruction"Wooob...doooff...voooob!" boomed Arwr as he overtook Lukus with a half dozen springy strides to knock the troll flat and pin him fast to the ground with a scaly foot on each arm. He gave his feathers a thorough shake, pinched off the skin from the tip of the brute's nose for good measure and turned his head to face Lukus with both eyes. "So what do you want me to do with this thing, Prince Lukus? Very well, I can wait. You need a moment," he said as Soraya and Lukus grabbed each other into a frantic embrace.
"Here are these again, dear," said Ceidwad, bringing forth a beak full of bow and arrows.
"Well he's certainly earned his own death," said Lukus, turning back with closed eyes to treasure Soraya with another quick squeeze.
"By all means," said Arwr. "Well, I'd certainly do him in for you, but it would be understandable if either you or Soraya wanted to...or you might want to save him and
question him, first..."
"And then kill him," said Lukus. "That might be just the thing..."
"And we may be killed, merely a-standing here," said Lladdwr as his neck went fluffy, swinging his head up to his full height to peer over the thicket at the pandemonium of trolls and Elves all about the burning castle.
"Make for the Magic River," said Ceidwad as she squatted onto her keel. "Please get on, Princess Soraya. You must be exhausted. And Lukus, you ride on Lladdwr." At once they were underway, with Lladdwr and Arwr steering the whimpering troll by popping their ponderous ebony beaks at his ears and pinching him mercilessly when he dared to hesitate or to step wide of where they wanted him to go.
"I understood why we might not want to go straight there when we turned this way," said Soraya, as Ceidwad lifted open a cellar door ringed by thick evergreen shrubbery at the far end of the arboretum, "but why are we hiding? It's urgent that we get down to the caverns."
"We are," said Ceidwad, ducking to step inside as her voice took on echoes. "This is the secret way..."
"I'll say!" said Soraya. "I've spent the last two hundred and forty years growing up here, and I knew nothing about this."
"How did you know about it, Ceidwad?" said Lukus, reaching out to feel of the clammy stone ceiling. "I never knew you ever went inside until you came into the castle to warn us."
"It's not that we can't, we just avoid it unless it's a matter of life and death. I've been in and out of here five times, helping to see the enchanted creatures down to the river. It's a long way too, maybe four league."
Arwr closed the door behind them. When he discovered that the troll had defiantly planted his feet, he clamped onto a buttock and twisted his beak.
"Fnafo-dyrnyr-truf!" yelled the brute as he lurched forward. "Fnadyr-difarr ja! Fnadyr-difarr ja! Fnaphn-nty ntu!"
"Fnafo-dyrnyr-truf. Fnadyr-diffarr ja. Fnadyr-difarr ja. Fnaphn-nty ntu," said Arwr.
"You understand Trollish?" said Lukus.
"Not a single word of it," said Arwr.
Ch. 18, The Burgeoning
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Monday, July 27, 2015

Razzmorten takes Hubba Hubba to See the King and Queen

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Razzmorten cleared his throat. Hubba Hubba straightened up at once, giving himself a feather fluffing shake. "Well Queen, how could you possibly have known it was me?"
"Oh, Hubba Hubba! I'd know you anywhere."
Scan10074Hubba Hubba drew back his head and thrust it forth in a gawk of bewilderment at Razzmorten. Razmorten gave a wide-eyed shrug. "I hate to dampen this merry reunion, but time may be pressing," he said. "Hubba Hubba has a message from your sister, regarding Rose and Lukus."
"Ugleeuh!" cried King Hebraun, springing to his feet. "She hasn't harmed them, has she?"
"No, no. I wouldn't think so," said Razzmorten, handing Ugleeuh's note to Hebraun. "She has decided to blackmail you. She plans to be set free from the Chokewood Forest. It seems she has Rose and Lukus at her cottage and plans to give their freedom for hers. See for yourself."
King Hebraun quickly read the missive and handed it to Minuet. "Father!" she choked. "You said Ugleeuh could cause no more harm once she was exiled."
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"Not outside of her part of the Chokewoods," said Razzmorten, as he gently picked up her hand. "I can't imagine that she had any way of abducting them. They had to have gone there on their own, and most likely to answer some of the questions which Rose was asking all around, right prior to their disappearance. No, Ugleeuh has not been any sort of hazard outside her boundaries from the time we sent her there until this very minute, but this extortion of hers is her design to change all that. Meanwhile, the children must be safe. Stop and think. Ugleeuh is evil, but she's no fool. She'd hardly destroy the one and only chance she's had to end her exile. She'll not harm Rose and Lukus as long as there's any chance she can use them to get free."
"He's right," cawed Hubba Hubba. "In all the years I've spent with her, she never suggested harming a feather on my body until I refused to come here. Then she threatened
to cook me. And I have an idea. When I left, Ugleeuh gave me this scrying crystal so I'd
be able to see her and the forest any time I wanted. Here. Try it to check on Rose and
Lukus. I'll bet that will make you feel better."
Minuet suddenly looked hopeful but Razzmorten sadly shook his head. "Your offer is grand, Hubba Hubba, but I'm afraid your crystal is useless. She's managed to divine an astonishing barrier around her part of the forest to prevent being watched by any sort of crystal gazing. I certainly have tried to often enough."
Hubba Hubba was stunned. "So!" he squawked with a shake of his feathers. "She lied again. She said she'd drop the protections and keep them down until I returned. Fool
that I am, I told her not to because she'd leave herself vulnerable. She told me that her
protections had been in place so long that no one would bother to spy on her. No wonder
she wasn't worried. She'd no intention of dropping her protections all along."
"Whoa Hubba Hubba," said Razzorten, as he shared raised eyebrows with Hebraun and Minuet. "There was talk of dropping her protections?"
"Talk. Yea."
"Where's this scrying crystal Ugleeuh gave you?"
"Right here, actually," he said, looking down at his breast. "The crystal is the brooch fixed on my flight harness. But what difference does that make if it's useless?"
Crow-0056-A01Razzmorten was already unbuckling the harness, shaking his head to be silent while he slipped it off him. The king and queen anxiously crowded around. Hubba Hubba peered at the stone from Razzmorten's shoulder, and nearly lost his balance when the old man whooped with glee. "It works! I see the forest. And look at this. There's Ugleeuh flying above the trees on a broom. That's a right novel talent. She certainly never did that before her exile. I suppose it's no surprise that she'd develop her powers to while away the time there."
"I despise the idea of her having any powers," said Minuet. "Where do you suppose Rose and Lukus are?"
"I'd bet in her cottage," said Hubba Hubba. "They haven't been much for going outdoors, all summer. Mostly they stayed around the house and you know, ate, slept, those kinds o' things..." He trailed off uncomfortably, seeing everyone looking straight at him. "Well when I was there, they joked around with me and we talked and stuff, don't you know," he stammered, glancing from one person to the next as he resumed. "Sometimes they did go outside and take me for my exercise flights. And once Lukus and I even went for a hike. Now that was really fun, except when the log rolled over on me and broke my toe, of course." He fluffed up and ran his beak along several flight feathers, letting each go with a snap before he continued. "Anyway, try the cottage."
Razzmorten was scarcely listening as he brought his concentration to bear upon scrying with the crystal. At last, Rose and Lukus appeared, wearing their stripped cloaks, hurrying to keep up with Fuzz.
"Wow!" said Hubba Hubba. "Ugleeuh and Fuzz are definitely not on friendly terms. I can't imagine her letting them talk to him, let alone run off with him somewhere."
"Looks like those stripped cloaks are camouflage," said Razzmorten with a grave nod, "at least I'd say so from the appearance of the surrounding trees. They certainly don't appear to be out for a hunt, and if they've gone to this kind of trouble to hide, they very
likely are attempting to flee, rather than waiting for us to respond to her extortion demands. So this bear 'Fuzz,' Ugleeuh doesn't like him, you say?"
"Not much..."
"Speaks well of him."
"Oh Hebraun!" said Minuet. "Their faces are so pale and pasty. They don't look well. What has she done to them?"
"Remember that I can't scry," said Hebraun, as he shared a look with Razzmorten, "but it sounds like they've been eating your sister's food. They'll surely snap out of it as soon as we get them home."
"And remember that they're young and strong, Minuet," said Razzmorten. "Neither one has ever been sick. They're going to be just fine."
"But how are we going to get them home, now?" said Minuet. "And what if Ugleeuh catches them? They've defied her and escaped. I can't imagine her fury. No one who thwarts her is ever safe. You can count on her saying that they owe her for having been at her cottage, even though they were her prisoners. She'd make them pay mercilessly for that. But stand in the way of her freedom? I can't picture her controlling herself."
Razzmorten sucked in a deep breath between his teeth. "I'm sure Ugleeuh is mortally angry," he said, "but it still behooves her to handle Rose and Lukus with care. I can't imagine her forgetting that they are her only chance to leave the forest, short of dying. I'd say that if she does catch them, it's this Fuzz, whoever he is, who won't survive her vengeance."
"You got it." said Hubba Hubba. "She wants out and Fuzz is a goner. Oh, absolutely." He hesitated, seeing that he was being taken very seriously by everyone. "She
threatened to slaughter and eat me, just because I told her I wouldn't deliver her ransom
note. And she claims she loves me. She doesn't even like Fuzz."
"Pray that they're not caught," said Minuet, looking pale and drawn, as she sat down on her throne. "I grew up struggling with her getting even with everyone under the sun."
"How do you suppose this Fuzz plans to help Rose and Lukus escape?" said Hebraun.
"Until some clue turns up," said Razzmorten, rubbing his temples gingerly before gazing back into the crystal, "I have utterly no idea at all, except that they most likely are indeed attempting some sort of escape, right now."
"What happens if Ugleeuh intercepts them, Father?" said Minuet. "What then?"
"Then I shall have to face her myself." said Razzmorten calmly enough to cause Hubba Hubba to gape in astonishment. "Please don't be afraid, Minuet. I swear that no harm shall come to my grandchildren. I swear it on my life."









Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wizard Razzmorten Visits Demonica

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Razzmorten appeared in the moonlight amongst the tall basaltic rocks of Demonica's keep on Head (or Pennvro). He clambered about with his staff, listening to the pounding surf far below as he paused here and there to feel for the presence of magical wards and protections set by Demonica. "Well, Razzorbauch's not here," he said. He removed his hat, and for a time stood with his face fixed into the breeze, feeling the air. At last he found a place amongst a tumbled colonnade of stones and went to sleep until morning. Just before the sun, he awoke to find himself in the midst a colony of very agitated puffins. He was on his feet at once, clambering up the rocks.
The towers of her castle rose behind the crown of the great barren prominence as he climbed. There was no drawbridge. Her portcullis was up, in fact it was unlikely to have been closed that night. He could definitely detect magical wards, but none laid for someone afoot. He walked right in. He found her reading a letter as she sat in her great
scarlet and white chair on the dais, legs crossed, having egg in a hole and tea. She looked up with a gasp.
"Good morning," he said.
"Good thing you explained that," she said. "I'd never have considered any morning 'good' which had you standing in the middle of it. Now how would you like for me to arrange your death?"
"Oh go on, Dee! We both know better. I'm not here to arrest you. You made that more difficult than it would ever be worth years ago. And besides, I stepped in here fully prepared to turn your head into a cinder at the first sign of trouble. I'm only here for a
brief chat."
"You went to a good deal of trouble."
"Well, yes. Years ago, you told me that you knew of a tribe of heathens (as I believe you called them) who were supposed to have gotten through the plague which killed the First Wizard without any deaths at all. Do you remember anything about that?"
"Well no, dear. It's very difficult indeed to recall anything at all for the likes of you or Niarg. Does anyone there have the plague?"
"I have," said Razzmorten as though he were merely speaking of tickets in his pocketbook, and now you have it as well. So if you wish me to come back and cure you, it might be best if your memory returned."
With a yowl, the snow white cat sitting in Demonica's lap shot across the throne room and white-female-persianvanished. Demonica stared off into the distance for a moment. "Ngop," she said, heaving out a sigh. "The Ngop, 'way down the west coast, here. The plague simply decimated everyone throughout the continent, everyone except the Ngop. It's said that
they came out of it completely untouched. Down the coast. Talk to their shaman. I think
he goes by Ngerrk-ga. And talk to their chief, Dort-da."
"Ngerrk-ga!" cried Razzmorten. "I know him. He and Dort-da were the Aboriginals I once met at the Hanter Koadou. They mightn't have worn clothes, but they were well respected."
"Well, you've managed to disarm me, Razzmorten. You always did have your skilled moments. Do me a favor. If you were indeed telling the truth, would you be so kind as to return with the cure? My cat needs someone to feed her."
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Laora the Little Dragon Shares a Vole with Ceidwad the Diatryma

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"I think this is what you don't grasp," she said with polite patience. "Most of nature is profoundly logical without consciousness. Just being conscious does not make one profound. All of dragondom is not big enough. Now, I hate to be rude but Mary is in
peril. Have we discussed this enough that...?"
"Absolutely," said Spark, springing to his feet. "I'm off to the council. I'm guessing that they'll agree at once to Mary's request. Meanwhile, please feel free to enjoy our hospitality and make yourselves at home. I'll be back immediately as soon as I know."
Ceidwad and Lladwr gave dignified nods as he dashed away, leaving them with sitting with Lipperella. At once Laora and Edward scurried forth and plopped down directly in front of them. Lipperella looked at Laora and raised an eyebrow. Laora looked at the grass. Bit by bit she began studying Ceidwad with rapt admiration. It was quite something to be recognized as 'pretty' by such a large and important bird. She saw something in the grass. "Got 'im!" she said, snapping up a vole. "Would you like half, Ceidwad? I'll split 'im with you."
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"Oh, thank you sweetheart. Don't mind if I do." she said, neatly snipping off and swallowing the squeaking end. "They're delicious."
"Edward doesn't like them, so I guess I get to share one with somebody."
"Well, he wouldn't dear. Humans like things like this cooked...don't you, Edward?"
Edward looked up from his piece of stick with a wary nod.
"And you're very lucky, since you're able to do things I couldn't possibly manage..."
"Like what?" said Laora with astonishment.
"Well, you have hands on the wrists of your wings for one thing," said Ceidwad. "so that means you could cook Edward a nice, fat vole...with your momma's help, of course. And not only that, you're going to be coming into your flame soon, and then you can toast 'em on the spot."
"Your..." hollered Spark, as he lunged into view, out of the cavern entrance, "Your request has been granted!" Everyone looked up as he hurried over to the grassy spot. "However, the council feels that it can spare none other than Tors and Kast and me, and that's only two thirds as good as you might think, since I can't spout fire!"
"We're certainly most grateful for all the help we can get," said Ceidwad, "but why are so few of you able to come?"
"The clan's preparing to move us to the Black Desert and since our survival seems to be at stake, they're afraid to let go of very many," he said, pulling a grass stem to chew on.
"But you've been here above three hundred year," said Ceidwad with wide eyes. "What has caused this?"
"I reckon you and the White Witch haven't heard from Elves nor Niarg since your return, aye?"
"Oh, oh!" said Ceidwad. "This has to do with Demonica in some way, doesn't it?"
"Well, Spitemorta, to be exact..."
"Actually," said Lladdwr, "Mary had hoped you'd 'ave heard from the Elves, since the only safe place she could think to flee to with her enchanted ones was Jutwood Forest."
"I see," said Spark. "Well, according to the Elves, Spitemorta and Demonica have convinced the people of Loxmere-Goll that we dragons carried out plans laid by Niarg and the Elves to set fire to all their sukere fields. Right now they're preparing for war with
Niarg and the Elves. When you showed up Tors, Kast and I were getting ready to leave
for Niarg to see if taking the entire clan to the Black Desert is warranted. Meanwhile, the
whole clan is being made ready for an immediate flight the moment we return. So, the
council is sending the three of us to your aid before we go to Niarg, provided we set out
immediately."
"Things are deteriorating far faster than we'd expected," said Ceidwad.
"They only approve if we can be gone within the hour," said Spark. "Are you two right ready for a return journey?"
Ceidwad and Lladdwr nodded in unison. "Let's go," said Ceidwad as they sprang to their feet and gave their feathers a thorough shake.
Spark drew aside for a farewell with Lipperella, Laora and Edward and the Mob that they knew would end the moment Tors and Kast appeared up the stairs. They had scarcely had hugs all 'round when the pair came bounding out into the open with bags and gear. Spark gave Lipperella an extra squeeze and started off.
Ch. 42, Stone Heart

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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Monday, July 20, 2015

Abaddon Meets Longbark

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Abaddon went quite speechless as he studied the looming tree, only looking down here and there as he stepped along behind Lance in the thick dry grass. Like some spreading burr oak in a pasture, Longbark was scarcely fifty feet tall with great long horizontal limbs reaching out from a trunk that was better than twelve feet thick above the buttressing roots. "But Lance, it's got its leaves in the middle of winter."
"Some kinds of oak are like that. The mothers told me that evergreen oaks used to be right common in the Forest Primeval..."
"Lance!" he whispered frantically. "They're mad! They're crazy! They're petting it like it was a dog or a cow or something."
"You'll see," said Lance with a grin and a shake of his head as he took him by the hand and led him forth to stand before Celeste.
"Ther be no thyng heere at al for to fere, yonge Abaddon," said Celeste with a kindly smile. "This beth Longbark, and she the moost eld of yere and wyseste beynge a-lyve in Glan Da ybe. Hit nis ne evene possible hir for to harme thee in the leste." She took him by the hand and drew him up to a branch that stuck down from a limb low enough for him to walk up to. "Come. Takest hold of this heere lowe braunche and lette hir thee yfele."
"Why, this is frightening him," thought Lance, as Abaddon turned to him with wide eyes. "You can manage all right, Abby," he said with a smile and a nod of reassurance. "Celeste would never, ever do anything to hurt you, and that old tree won't even give you a rash." He watched Abaddon give in and reach for the branch. "Ah, for all his meanness, he's just a little boy after all," he thought.
"So what?" said Abaddon with his customary brashness. "It's just a plain ol' stupid tree..."
"Juste myndest that thou halt fast for a tyme if thou wouldest," said Celeste as she keenly eyed the branch.
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Without warning, Abaddon felt as though someone who did not approve was looking all through him. At the very same time, each glossy green leaf in turn folded shut like a book, as its respective petiole went utterly limp, collapsing like a row of dominoes, all the way up and all the way down the branch away from his hand, except for the leaves on one small twig, which remained open and up. "Not fair!" he shouted. "That was no fun at all!" He yanked off a twig with a loud snap, flung it at Lance, picked up a stone the size of a grapefruit and heaved it at Longbark to bounce off with a deep resonant thud. "It's just a stupid ol' tree! Why are you idiots all staring at me? You think you're smart? You're going to die for trying to make a fool of me by having me touch it! It's just a dumb stupid tree!" With that, he dashed away through the weeds and vanished into the lava tube.
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps





Friday, July 17, 2015

Elves in Search of Bondmates

Excerpted from ELF KILLERS


It was still dark when the dour Elf woman gathered up the skirt of her leine and stepped into the wet big bluestem grass. “Would someone tell me why we have to be out in theelves-1Strah before the crack of dawn?” she said. “Isn’t this when the shawkyn spooghey begin their daily hunts?”
“You volunteered with the rest of us, Brede,” said Vorona, as she waded through the grass behind her, “so it’s our turn first. And as for the chosen hour, I’m sorry to say, but the strike falcons determine that. Olloo says that the only time both birds leave the nest is right at sunrise. One of them goes out to hunt and the other one comes back right away to sit on the eggs all morning.”
Brede fell silent and made a childish face which was ugly even in the dark, but filed into the tall grass with everyone else.
“The wild strike falcons make grass nests a foot and a half across in the middle of big mounds of grass and sticks, maybe three feet high by about ten feet across,” said Olloo as he walked, looking from side to side at Vorona, Roseen, Kieran, Oisin and Doona, Brede, Nessa, Markus, Donachan and Martyn to see if everyone was hearing him. “They place these in loose colonies, ten to twenty rods away from each other in all directions. I’ve been watching an especially large colony not quite a league north of here, so that’s where we’re going. I just hope we’re not too late getting started.”
images“So what do we do when we get there?” said Oisin as he held Doona’s hand and tramped along beside him.
“I want to leave everyone in a group,” said Olloo, “armed and ready and out of sight of the colony while I scout about the nests to see if the birds are away. If they are, I’ll gather eggs and fetch them out, two or three at a time.”

They fell silent right away as they struggled through the grass, trying to keep up with him, since he was quite afraid that they were late. Just before the sun peeped over the Eternal Mountains, he made them kneel in the grass back to back with their bows ready and then he disappeared into the waving grass. A redwing blackbird circled overhead, scolding. He was back in short order with four eggs, which he handed to Vorona, Roseen, Nessie and Markus before vanishing once more. Right away he returned, catching his breath as he handed out eggs to Brede (who beamed with delight in spite of herself), Donachan and Martyn.
“Hey!” whispered out Kieran as he pointed away through the grass. “Isn’t that a nest, yonder?”
“That’s dangerous!” whispered Olloo, suddenly wide-eyed. “We’re not outside the colony at all.”
Kieran jogged over to the nest at once, held up an egg and dashed back with it. “I hope it’s alive. You think so?” he said, handing it to Olloo.

“It’s warm and dry. I’ll bet it is.” he said, as Nessie and Markus trotted out of sight.
Suddenly, there was a shrill screeching. Olloo sprinted through the grass to find Nessie and Markus at the edge of a nearby nest with two baby strike falcons shrieking with all their might as they stood in their shell fragments. “They’re going to get us killed if I don’t do them in…” he said, grabbing for his knife.
“No!” cried Nessie as she lunged at the babies and scooped them into her shawl,golden-girl-photographyquietingthem at once.
“They stopped screaming, all right,” said Olloo, but they might not bond with you if you take them. Either way, they’ve already made their noise, so we’d better get out of here, now.”
“My egg’s in the nest, Markus. Would you get it for me?”
“We have to go, or the parents will kill us,” said Olloo. “Come on!”
“I’m calling her Cronney. I want to give my egg to…”
“We can figure it out at home. Let’s beat it, kids!”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Glimpse into the Home life of an Elf Killer Family



Fnarry-irrny was Dyr's sow, which allowed her to choose the best place in the biggest cave to spread out her things, rear her children and to attend to Dyr's whims and needs. She chose an airy alcove just inside the mouth of the Hooter Cave, well out of the weather, which allowed her the most convenient access to the fire just outside and the best place to flaunt her wealth of beads, shells and skins to all the envious sows who were forced to pass by her on the way to their respective spots further back in the cave. One troll evening (which is just before dawn), she rolled her bushy red head from side to side, gnawing and tugging on an Elf leg as she watched her family eat.
            "Boof!" cried her eldest son as he spat out a great cud of chewed Elf onto the ground. "Gnydy hee-hee-grabbed my grab-up-squeaker rump. Everytime, I get shin-bone-meat! I eat rump."
            "You think like rump," said his younger brother. "You snuff-snuff  like rump..."
            "Gnydy juicy-champs my rump, Da, and you let him," said the eldest, as two wolf-dogs squeezed in to bristle at each other and snatch up his cud of Elf. "You be easy-let, Da. Gnydy will head-smash you, then he'll be Thunder-man. And if Gnydy be Thunder-man, then I'll no be Thunder-man. I'll be hoo-hoo-crawl-animal." He turned to the younger. "But you'd be hum-dee-dumdle with that, Fnana-fnyr. You already be crawl-animal for yuck-champs. Poofy-letter Da grand-showed you..."
            "Rump-jaws, Fnanar!" roared Fnana-fnyr as he shot to his feet to run at Fnanar's head with a furious kick.
            Fnanar ducked as the kick flew by his ear, flinging Fnana-fnyr onto his back, the arm of Elf he was eating smeared all up one hip.
            Dyr stopped chewing and glowered at his sons from under his bony brows.
             "Ooot-ooot! ooot-ooot! ooot-ooot!" cried Fnanar as he flailed his chest with his fists. "That be proud-show rump-trick!" He wheeled 'round to leave the alcove and stepped right into Dyr's stony fist which put him flat on his back, seeing stars. 
            Dyr was a-straddle him immediately, furiously strangling him. 
            "Duda! Nyr-vyr-nirr-trad!" screamed Fnarry-irrny, ropes of beads and greasy breasts flying about as she sprang at Dyr to claw at his gnarly hateful fingers. "No! Stop!" 
            "He's begged for-this ever-since he wet-held Fnana-fnyr under the fast-water," he said, growling spit between his teeth as he gave an extra shove and stood up. He tramped out of the Hooter Cave and past the glowing fires.
            Dyr paused to glance at some kids who were poking sticks and giggling at an Elf child who was well beyond utterances of any kind, tethered and trembling uncontrollably as she awaited her turn over the coals. "No be Fnanar and Fnana-fnyr," he sighed. "Never-once have Fnanar and Fnana-fnyr giggle-romped that well-together. I can't even hunt with them-together."   
            He shook his head and walked out under the stars. A shivering owl called. "One-thing I know-be with all head-nod," he said. "Fnanar has-had his last greedy-champ in the Hooter Cave. Let him yank-bite squeaker-rump from Gnydy. He got his hairy-face new-name cold-time, cold-time, cold-time, cold-time ago.
            "But I have-to slip-let Fnarry-irrny pincher-twist me so Fnanar gets-to stay until he's giggle-grabbed a sow. But he grabby-wants the biggest milksow. Mudful hollow-head! He drool-dreams the wrong end. Hoof! He has sly-kids in every-other cave but the Hooter Cave and diggy-fingers his nose at me.
            "Ooot!" he bellowed into the echoes, silencing the owl. He gave his chest a good three thump drum. "And let Gnydy come at me for a good head-smash. He needs his thunder-stamp, too."  

cover.jpg EK



Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps