Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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!”

Monday, June 27, 2016

Spitemorta Nurses a Hangover

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The thicket of roses in the pasture that once crowned the gentle hill overlooking all of the town of Niarg was enclosed for the first time by the circular stockade of the old wooden Castell Niarg. In time, it became the rose garden in the back ward of the great stone castle which followed, where Prince Hebraun courted Minuet under a late summer moon and where Princess Rose played with her kitten in the warm June sun.
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Spitemorta cleared away all of that for her amphitheatre which faced across its broad and barren arena to the great stage for her public presentations which made up a corner of the back ward of her massive black castle. Here was the focus of her week long celebration. She raised her chalice to the drunken crowd as she sat back on her throne to watch her soldiers set alight the final wicker man, packed squirming tight with the very last survivors of Bernard's Bane at Jut Ford. Pissant scurried over with his jug to top up her vessel. As screams and yodeling wails of agony burst out from the flames, she shot to her feet with cheer after cheer of triumph for the roaring multitude. As glowing cinders began to tumble, orderlies scurried into the arena and onto the streets surrounding the castle to set up trestles and boards for the feasting that was to last all night.
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When daylight came, Spitemorta banged into the doorpost on her way into the bedroom of her bower and bounced when she found that the seat of the stool before her dressing table was a bit lower than it should have been. She ballooned her cheeks with a huff as she found her face in the looking-glass. She picked up a brush. "My," she said as she tugged at her whirling head with her brush strokes. "I'm not up for much of that..." She looked up to see Demonica standing behind her in the mirror and tossed down her brush with a clatter. "And none of you, Grandmother. I'm going to bed right now." 
"Well," said Demonica. "Fine celebration, I thought. Just wanted to tell you. And dear, you really want to see to your trolls, don't you think?"
"Did you see how the Niarg townies joined in? They were having such a good time, I know I've got them. I've really got them. Lots of them even danced and cheered when Minuet's soldiers were burning..."
imagesdemonica"At least when the cider and sukee are flowing. We brought in three shiploads of sukee from Gwael for this. Stout stuff. You do need to keep that in mind. Some of them can actually count their own fingers when they're sober. And your trolls, dear..."
"Fine, Grandmother. After I've slept, come back and we shall both go."
“I’ll do that dear. Just don't delay our departure with your handsome general. It would be best to appear just when they're waking for the night, before they’re already doing other things, don't you know. And it doesn't hurt for us to still have enough light to see by.”
"And just how would I let him delay us?"
"Well," she said, as she sat on the bed and gave the coverlet a knowing pat. "You did have a rather more, shall we say, sustained and amorous meeting during the celebration than typical..."
"No, damn it! There was nothing amorous about it..."images (3)x
"Well I certainly find that easy to agree with, having been there, but does the general?"
"That’s his problem, not mine.”
“If you say so dear. Well then. To bed with you and I’ll see you before sunset.”
***
The evening sun was just lighting the far wall of Spitemorta's chamber when she was awakened by voices below her window. "Damn you!" she cried, explosively ripping aside her covers. She grabbed up the full water pitcher from her night stand and heaved it out the window to land with a distant pop six storeys down. The talking stopped short. No one was there when she propped her arms on the sill and peered out. The bell in Argentowre rang. When she couldn't sort out whether it was four or five o'clock, she covered her ears and turned away from the window.
"Oh!" she cried when the stool at her dressing table turned out to be just as unexpectedly low as before. With a squeal, she threw her brush across the room to smack the back of a chair and spin away somewhere on the floor. She labored to her feet and went hunting for it. When stooping to look under a wardrobe sent pains through her head, she went back to her table without the brush and peered into the mirror with the slits of her swollen eyes to find her hair hopelessly matted on one side, "As if I'd spent the month sleeping alongside a dead mouse." And with that, she cast a glamourie on herself to look radiantly rested and groomed. After a spell of jerking dresses from side to side in one wardrobe after another, she gave up and cast another glamourie to make the kirtle she was wearing appear as though she had not slept all day in it. "And where's my duck?" she shouted.
"And here you led me to believe that there was not one thing amorous going on between the two of you," said Demonica with a gasp of surprise as she appeared.     
"Damn you! Not him. My breakfast!"
"Now did you indeed tell anyone before you went to bed?"
"What are you doing with that childish halo and wings, Grandmother? You've been telling me all these years that no one but me sees you."
“Who knows? Veyfnaryr has enough power that he just might.”
“Do you seriously believe he's more powerful than Razzmorten?”
"Believe? Dear, he was every bit as powerful as Razzmorten the moment I put him in the arms of Fnayooph, the bathless fmoo who raised him. If you didn't have the Heart and the Staff, he'd make a grease spot of you if you vexed him enough."
"Ha!" said Spitemorta, feeling for her stool before sitting, this time. "Good medicine for the Beaks. And those four Elves. He could make grease spots out of them, too. Pooh on breakfast, Grandmother. Let's go."
"Good for you, dear..." said Demonica, looking up suddenly at the knock on the door of the parlour of the bower.
Spitemorta tramped to the door. "What!" she shouted as she grabbed the latch. She threw it open to find Coel. "Familiar enough all at once to wave aside proper deferential announcements by the help, are we?"
"Because of our indiscretion?" said Coel calmly, as he stepped in without the slightest bob of a bow.
"Ah!" said Demonica. "Here's your duck after all..."
"Shut up!"
"You don't like it referred to that way?" said Coel.
"You ought to be able recognize Grandmother by now..."
"I don't see a soul."
"And you bet it was indiscrete! You ought to be in the dungeon."
"Because you invited me...?"
"I did not!"  
"Well, sukee's like that," he said, drawing in a breath. "And had I not had some of it myself, I'd have easily deflected your tugging at me."
Spitemorta sucked in a furious breath.
"And I reckon it's having to recover from it that has me doing the knocking on your door instead of your service, in order to speed the delivery of the tidings you  demanded I convey immediately..."









Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps



Friday, June 24, 2016

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Razzmorten Finds Ngerrk-ga

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Razzmorten appeared on a lonely beach amongst the cries of terns, just as a wave soaked his feet, sending small snails vanishing into the sand as it rushed back to sea. A beached jellyfish glistened in the mid-morning sun. He stepped away from the water and scooped up a double handful of shells to admire for a moment before squinting under his hand at the arid hills of white limestone dotted with grey shrubs which lay inland. He pulled out his scrying ball from his shoulder bag and squatted in the sand to stare into it, shaded by the brim of his pointed hat. At once he was underway through the marram grass, making straight for the hills.
By the time the sun was overhead, he had crossed over three great ridges of hills. A savannah sparrow called nearby. He paused to mop his brow and look about as he felt of the ball in his bag. "Maybe I need another peek," he said. Suddenly he held his breath.
"Could that be children?" A pebble skittered across the rocks at his feet, just as he spied a
curly haired head slipping behind some rocks. He heard hushed giggling. "Hello?' he
hollered.
There was dead silence.
"Hello? Is someone there?"
"Mamin!" cried a brave naked boy, prancing into view.
"Mamin! Mamin!" shouted another, "Dirdawung, mamin lamang gahan!"
"Menuny mamin mawu ga-yu-ma wutjjurrh-ma!" cried a girl, taller than the others, leaping to her feet.
Soon there were eight naked children dancing around him, just out of reach, chanting sing-song: "Ma-min...ma-min...ma-min..." After a bit of this, they took turns crying: "Mamin!" as they leaped forth to tug at his clothes and jump back as if he would bite.
"I say," cried Razzmorten, looking 'round about, "would you all be Ngop?"
The children broke out in such laughter that they could scarcely stay on their feet.
"If you all are Ngop, could you take me to Dort-da?" he said, nodding with wide eyes of encouragement. At this, a middle-sized girl with the merriest eyes of all dashed up and began yanking and pulling on his arm. He followed her at once.
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Up through the next ridge of hills they led him, pattering through the dust and rocks, until they came to a wide dusty valley. The merry eyed girl kept a relentlessly tight grip on his hand, pulling him along through the dust and shrubs as they came to scattered acacia trees with ruminating cows bedded down everywhere in the shade. He could see low domed mud huts in the thickest of the trees. At the far end of them against the rocks of a limestone bluff was a whitewashed hut, larger than all the others. They hurried with
him, straight up to it. "Dort-da! Dort-da!" they shouted. And the next thing he knew, he
was standing in front of the hut's triangular door without a child in sight. As he was
glancing here and there at the paintings of animals chasing each other across the breadth
of the whitewash, trying to gather his thoughts, Dort-da stepped into the light, adjusting
his long gourd cod piece. For a moment he looked as though he had been asleep.
Suddenly he smiled. "Razzmorten!" he cried. "It's been ages since Hanter Koadou. Come
inside."
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Razzmorten removed his hat and followed Dort-da inside, finding that ducking was scarcely enough to navigate a triangular doorway. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust. "Why, it's as cool as a cellar in here," he said.
"Sit here," said Dort-da, giving a slap to one of several fat rolls of blankets on the floor in front of a great chair made of cow bones. He sat in the chair and crossed his legs. He clapped his hands and a girl clad only in a skirt appeared with a jug of water and two large cow horns. He took the first drink and nodded at Razzmorten. "What brings you
here?"
"It wasn't too many years before our meeting at Hanter Koadou that there was a great plague which swept through the Dark Continent..."
"Douar-Noz might be better," said Dort-da. "The house of Dark hadn't taken over yet."
"Certainly," said Razzmorten carefully. "So, when the plague swept through Douar-Noz, of course, it killed thousands upon untold thousands of people, including my progenitor, the First Wizard, who was visiting here at the time. It killed half the people living here as well as half the people on the Northern Continent. Well, I've just heard that when the plague came, not a single Ngop died from it. Is that true?"
"Has the plague returned after all this time to Norz-Meurzouar?"
"Yes. One and by now, maybe two have died at Castle Niarg."
"Who brought it?" said Dort-da as he studied the backs of his hands. "Do you know where it came from?"
"Far," said Razzmorten, keenly aware that Dort-da was being careful. "The one who died just before I left was a retainer of Princess Branwen of the House of Far. I have no idea how many have died there."
"I've only heard of them a time or two. Do you know if they trade with the Gwaels of Gwaremm?"
"The last I knew, the Gwaels made them uneasy..."
"We have a lot to lose Razzmorten, but you convinced me years ago at Hanter Koadou that you have a true heart. You need to see Ngerrk-ga. His dreams are strong. If he doesn't want to help you, you are not to return here until seven years after this new plague has run its course." Dort-da studied Razzmorten carefully for a moment, then clapped once more. The young woman appeared with more water. "Nu-jabing-nga," he said. "Razzmorten-ga-ndi lahan Ngerrk-ga."
"Nu-jabing-nga quickly set down her jug. "Di-nya," she said, motioning to Razzmorten with a nod. "Di-nya." Waving him on, she disappeared out the door.
Razzmorten bowed to Dort-da, thanked him and hurried out into the heat and blinding light to find Nu-jabing-nga. He saw her at once, but found her even more difficult to keep up with than the children. He had to jog to catch her before she disappeared beyond the huts along the meandering path in the thorny wait-a-bit bushes that the Ngop used for fences which ran along the limestone bluff from acacia tree to acacia tree for a very long way, sticking up in the roasting heat like great parasols which gave shade to the resting cattle who languidly chewed their cuds and swished at flies, watching them pass.
boiling-cauldronAt last the path rose into a break in the bluff which led to an isolated mud hut, whitewashed and covered with red ochre hand prints in the shade of a pair of especiallylarge acacias. Ngerrk-ga was out front with his back to them on his knees feeding the fire under a large kettle that he was stirring. Nu-jabing-nga held her finger to her lips and motioned for Razzmorten to sit on the ground at Ngerrk-ga's back before grabbing her nose and dashing away, back down the path. Ngerrk-ga went right on stirring as if no one had arrived at all, chanting quietly: "Nja-min-ah... nja-min-ah... nja-min-ah... nja-min-ah..."
"Fates forbid!" thought Razzmorten. "I hope he notices me before I pass out from the smell!"
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps




Monday, June 20, 2016

Minuet Sends a Surprise to Spitemorta

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Captain Bernard peered about at the landscape of Cwm Eryr, wincing here and there at recollections as his massive march streiciwr brenhinol stepped carefully amongst the tumbled armor and bones, staying abreast of Queen Minuet on hers. "I can't believe her grit," he thought, pretending not to glance aside at her. "She's almost serene, all decked out in her gleaming armor astride Vindicator's snow-white twin sister."
"Captain," said Minuet. "look yonder, by the dead tree. Could that possibly be...?"
"Ol' Brutus?" he said with a grunt, as he dismounted to go see. "Oh, you got that one right first try, Your Majesty. Has to be, head and all. Right where King Hebraun left him, though someone's been along in the last day or two and smashed him up pretty good. And that someone probably knew him, don't you reckon? Well, I mean Brutus was one of those as never could get beat up enough to match what he had a-coming to him..."
Minuet dismounted and removed her helm, letting fly her fiery red hair in the breeze. "Did you think to pick out a bivouac on the way down here, Captain?" she said as she thoughtfully rocked back and forth Brutus's smashed hauberk, gorget and breastplate with her toe. "I realize it's early."
"I'm afraid not, Your Majesty, for as you said..."
"Well what I need for you to do is to position them out of sight over that rise, yonder and come right back here without them. It doesn't matter how you do it."
Bernard left her where she was and set about at once getting the troop beyond the rise. Presently he returned to find her carefully examining the smashed skull and helm.
"Well," she said, standing up and brushing her hands as he dismounted, "guess what? There are some person's tracks all over, which I think you already noticed, but did you see the bird tracks? Big ones and little ones. Come look. Couldn't they be crow and sparrow? And here's a nice big black feather."
"Oh, that's them. I'm surprised that this amount of smashing up Brutus's remains is all..." Suddenly he had lost track and was gaping at what Minuet was doing.
She knelt and slapped the helm, leaving her coronary seal glowing and smoking in the metal. She set it beside the rest of the armor and smacked breastplate as well, leaving her seal to glow and turn blue as it cooled.
"My!" said Bernard, shifting to his other foot. "That's..."
"Ffwrdd a ni!" she roared, springing to her feet with a fling of her arms, sending the armor leaping into the sky to shoot away south beyond the horizon.
Bernard looked wide eyed and pale.
"I didn't mean to alarm you, Captain. I just thought Brutus should return to his queen. Do you think she will be pleased?"
"You sent those bones and armor clean back to Castle Goll?"
"They're already there."
"Oh!" he said with a spreading grin. "I think that was a right noble gesture, Your Majesty."
"Yes. And it's between us. That's why you moved the troop."
"I always knew you were Razzmorten's daughter, but I swear I never knew..."
"I vowed not to use my powers as queen, Captain, but their time has come, and I don't The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlewant it known, yet. Did you give the order to bivouac?"
"No."
"Then let's go. This is no place for us to be. We might actually have enough light to stop at Ash Fork and pay our respects to Hebraun."
Ch. 22, The Burgeoning

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, June 17, 2016

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