Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fire Sprites and Glow Lichens




Fire Sprites Homo sapiens luciferestris L. a diminutive and highly luminescent human whose melanin has been replaced by luciferin, the light producing pigment in fireflies. Fire Sprites glow with such intensity that many who have gotten fleeting glimpses of  them have mistakenly reckoned them to be engulfed in flames, though in daylight their skin is an almost translucent alabaster white. They inhabit the utterly lightless lava tubes of the volcanic formations in the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent. They communicate with one another and with other races of humans almost exclusively with thought projection and extra sensory perception (ESP), reserving their arcane and mysterious language for their singing of eerie aeolian chorals in the echoes of their caverns.
  
In Elf Killers Oísín and Doona and their party escape the marauding trolls by hiding in the tunnels of Ubh Ollmhór, where they are rescued by the Sprites and led through the maze of inky black volcanic passages to the grasslands of the Great Strah on the far side of the mountains. 
The Fire Sprites are actually the ones who originally made what becomes known as the Elven Prophecy about the rise of an evil which will seek to take over the world. This prophecy has a part in The Collector WitchStone Heart, The BurgeoningThe Reaper Witch, and Doom.
  
Glow lichen Cladonia antrolucidus R., is a close relative of the reindeer lichen (reindeer moss) and lives in moist underground caverns. Its fungal symbiont takes up nutrients saprophyticly from the moist cave walls and emits a strong bioluminescence, using the pigment luciferin, which allows its plant symbiont to photosynthesize in turn, releasing sugars to the saprophyte. Glow lichen is common throughout lava tubes in the Pitmaster's Kettles and in deep cavern systems throughout the southern half of the Northern Continent. Luxuriant growths can light up caverns with their greenish yellow ambience at least as bright as artificially lighted rooms.

Glow lichen lights the caverns of the Magic River in The Collector Witch and the volcanic tunnels of Mount Bed in The Burgeoning. It also illuminates the Fairy underground in The Burgeoning The Reaper Witch and Doom.
 
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, July 14, 2017

Spark Loses His Feathers


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A shadow passed over them. Ugleeuh looked up with a start to see a deep green dragon with a turquoise crest, the size of a cow, gliding majestically for a row of openings into lava tubes running up the nearby dome. "It's a bird with teeth!" she cried, springing to her feet to shade her eyes. "And I swear I saw claws in its wings..."
"You did, dear," said Demonica. "And I trust you realize that this is one of the very dragons that we came for..."
"I knew what it was."
Demonica was not listening. "Here comes another," she said, touching Razzorbauch's arm.
"Good," he said, "I knew that this was the place, but until the first one swooped in, I hadn't quite spotted their caves. I was a bit further down, the time before. I spent all day,
and I allowed that there was above two hundred dragon a-coming and going. That ought
to suit my needs..."
"Yes," said Demonica. "They should suit us quite nicely."
"What if it saw us?" said Ugleeuh.
"I doubt if it did," said Demonica. "Had it seen us, it would be trying to set us alight, this minute. The pines hid us. That's why I changed into this terrible green kirtle before we left Head."
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"I've not seen a one, yet," said Demonica to Razzorbauch as she gave an impatient head to toe glance at Ugleeuh.
"You will," he said.
At that very moment, an echoing bellow from the caves got their attention in time for them to see a dozen dragons charging out abreast into the open air, blinded by the stinging fiery nightshade fumes, snorting and gasping, flapping their wings and stumbling
about.
"Keep them blind!" shouted Razzorbauch as he ran toward the dragons with his staff leveled. "Don't let them spit flames! Freeze any that try to fly!"
Demonica set to work at once, hurling crackling lavender bolts from her staff into the faces of beast after beast as they thundered from the caves, while Razzorbauch sent out a pounding hail of flashes from his, causing the plumage to fall free from the dragons' wings and bodies in cascading bundles and wads, as the terrified animals flapped
themselves to nakedness, and the air filled with the stench of singeing feathers. More and
more came in a frantic rush for fresh air only to be undressed in their bewildered frenzy,
until at last the wash in front of the caves was filled with a milling herd of better than two
hundred naked dragons, fenced in by a corralling spell cast by Demonica.
Razzorbauch climbed a large red rock to stand above their heads. "Peoc'h!" he roared, addressing them in Headlandish. "Silence!"
At once, the only sounds to be heard were the rattling of cottonwood leaves and the nearby calls of laughing quail. As he stood there counting them, a young male who happened to be outside of Demonica's spell, was carefully inching away. Suddenly he
broke into a run for the caves. Razzorbauch jerked his staff aloft at the sight of him,
shooting him with a brilliant beam of ruby light from the Heart in its end, blowing him
apart with a thundering concussion which left a hole in the ground big enough to bury
several dragons, as a peppering of dirt and flecks of flesh rained down through the leaves
of the cottonwoods.
"N'eus ket tu da," said Razzorbauch, speaking out over the hushed herd. "There's no way to. There's no way anyone else could possibly break away and run. But you see what would happen if he could. From this moment on, for as long as you live, you are each my chattel. Now. I'm going to walk to the sea and you're going to follow me. It will be a few days to get there and a few more to wait for ships which will take you to my plantation." He paused to look over their numbers for a moment before clambering down from his rock. "Poent eo mont kuit!" he cried with a wave of his staff. "It's time to leave!" And with that, he began walking.
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The dragon multitude formed a lumbering queue as they followed, utterly beaten, as Demonica set out in their wake with her staff. Ugleeuh picked up one of the great green feathers littering the ground, every bit as long as she was tall and was astonished at how very light it was. "My!" she said. "These are light as a feather."
"One does expect that with feathers, dear," said Demonica.
Ugleeuh thought it would make quite a souvenir, but tossed it aside at the thought of the long walk ahead. "So," she said, catching up. "'Mammvro.' Wouldn't that be Headlandish for 'Motherland?'"
"It is. It's the dragon word for it, really. I call it that because of the dragons. The rest of the continent calls these the Red Lands or the Red Desert..."
"Dragon word? They can talk?"
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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Our Theropod Dragons



Our dragon, Harpi tyrannus. R., is a relative of  Archaeopteryx and Deinonychus, which survived the Mwyaf Fawr Llosg or Greatest Burning and is traditionally classified as an Adar Drwg ("bad bird" in Old Niarg Standard) by such Niarg naturalists as Razzmorten Dewin. It is an eight to twenty foot long (six to thirteen foot tall) feathered flying Jurassic bird with teeth, fingered claws on the wrists of its wings and a long un-fused (non-pygostylic) bony tail. Long ago it developed the ability to produce, store and ignite large volumes of methane gas which enabled it to toast and make palatable the naturally occurring sukere cana in its original habitat on the Dark Continent.                      
Dragons' brains are about a third of the volume of human brains, however dragon brains are mostly cerebellum, where ours are mostly cerebrum. Since the tissue of the cerebrum is far more fatty and has fewer neurons in it per given volume, dragons have about as many synaptic junctions as we have, giving them an equivalent intelligence to ours. Indeed, they have true speech and they write and produce graphic art and sculpture. In spite of this, their behavior can seem strange and bird-like to us at times, since it consists of far more fixed-action patterns than does our behavior.  
Dragons arose in the southern mountains of the Dark Continent in the Age of Birds before the worldwide conflagration known as the Mwyaf Fawr Llosg. Beginning in early recorded times, they lived within a territory at the southern end of those mountains known as the Mammvro (Homeland in Headlandish). One of the emperors of the House of Dark sold the Mammvro to the sorceress Demonica as partial payment for arms. When the evil Wizard Razzorbauch turned the Forest Primeval into a vast sukre canna plantation, he needed a labor force capable of burning off the canna for harvesting the lucrative and seriously addictive sukere. Dragons were ideal for this, so Demonica invested in his enterprise by turning over the entire Mammvro dragon population to him, helping him render them featherless to keep them docile and by providing the ships to haul them to his plantation on the Northern Continent. In time, the dragons were freed and became fast allies of the kingdom of Niarg.                   

Did you ever imagine that dragons were a kind of primeval bird, an airborne dinosaur? What sort of dragons intrigue you? What sort of dragons do you fear?









                            

Monday, July 10, 2017

No Feeble Magic for Hubba Hubba


امازون دبل يلو
corvo

Hubba Hubba slowly ran his beak along the length of the back of a chair in the empty parlour and turned square about to run it all the way back. "All right, all right," he said, pausing to give his feathers a shake before strutting on. "I said I would, I said I would. I did, I did. But now that it comes to it, I don't know what I think about being a crow again. And what if something goes wrong? What if Razzmorten is so weak that he can't handle the spell and turns me into a roach or a maggot? What if his spell gives out just as I fly in to spy on Spitemorta and Demonica? They'll kill me, is what. Pull out my feathers and wring my neck."
queen-with-sword
Without warning a long blade sliced the air near his head. "Help!" he quacked as he tumbled into a gasping heap of feathers on the floor. "Hey Queen! What is this, a test of my mortality or what? As you can see, I can handle apoplexy but my head would come right off with that thing."
"Hubba Hubba!" she cried, stopping amidst her next swing. "I didn't see you!"
Buddy_3985_WarningHubba Hubba quacked again and backed under the chair.
"I'm so sorry! I just had Hebraun's claymore and...!"
"Minuet, what is all of this?" said Razzmorten, appearing as much without warning as she had.
"Why must these big missions always threaten to take off my head?" said Hubba Hubba, bristling and panting from the shadows.
"I'll learn this now, Father," said Minuet. "When Niarg goes to battle, they'll still have the crown to lead them forth."
"No!" said Razzmorten with a look of shock "Niarg needs you here. It can't afford to lose both Hebraun and you. If Spitemorta..."
"Ha!" barked Minuet bitterly, echoing in the arches of the ceiling. "Spitemorta! Yes! Let her come! When she does, I will cut out her black heart and feed it to the hogs. She took the light of my life and she'll meet her doom if she dares come at me."
"I will not cooperate with sweet and sour parrot. Traumatized, yes. Compliant? No. I refuse, I refuse. Queen, you and your awful sister..."
"What?" said Minuet as she stopped short to peer under the chair.
"I'll have you know that I'm not being dilatory," said Hubba Hubba with his tail fanned wide as he marched out from under the chair, running his beak along the floor as he came. "I'm right ready to set out on this mission without hesitation. I will not be threatened further..."
"Minuet please," said Razzmorten. "Hebraun would never have you do such a thing. For the love of the Fates, daughter, it's the very thing that got him killed."
"Yes, I know," she said, turning to face him, "and she did it. And that's exactly why I have to do this. You love me and don't want to lose me, so you want to stop me. Please know that I would never cause you grief. I own that I'm being vengeful, but you can rest assured that I'm not being rash. I'm set! You could ease my burden enormously by supporting my decision. If you can't, I'll not be resentful, but I'll not stray from my path."
"I'm going, I'm going!" said Hubba Hubba, pushing his beak around in circles on the floor. "You don't have to threaten me..."
"Hubba Hubba," said Minuet, "What makes you think I'm threatening you?"
"Right. Ugleeuh wasn't threatening me either. She was merely distraught. And you're just what, vengeful did you say?"
"Hubba Hubba! Here I've gone and had a grand packet of food made up for you..."
"What? With all my favorite treats?"
"Well yes..."
"See? Runs in the family. Put away your blade. I'm ready! I'm ready!"
300px-Amazona_-two_species_-captive_in_Mexico-8a"And what are you doing down there?" said Pebbles as she and the chicks alighted on the back of the chair.
"Here's Herio," said Minuet as she scooped up Hubba Hubba and gave him a scratch before letting him step off onto the chair. "Looks like he's ready."
2782516016_d92bbc36e2_o"Well, so am I," said Hubba Hubba with a confused look as Pebbles rattled her beak through his cheek feathers. 
"Ready enough for me to change you into a crow?" said Razzmorten.
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Carol Marrs Phipps 
& Tom Phipps

Friday, July 7, 2017

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 5, 2017

Wizard 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."Scan10074
Hubba 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?"
Crow-0056-A01"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?"
Razzmorten 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 The_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_Kindleback 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

Monday, July 3, 2017

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