Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Spitemorta's Troll Baby has the Strongest Magical Aura She's Ever Seen

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After her address, Spitemorta tied up her skinweler in its pouch and dropped it into her bag. She missed the awed multitudes beyond the balcony of her throne room at Castle Goll. "A little trollish supplication might be just the thing," she said as she picked up the Staff. She stepped into the hall, trotted downstairs and out into the glory of dandelions, wren chatter and bright sunshine. Bethan was on her knees, picking strawberries and didn't see her set the Staff in the air, mount it and lean forward to shoot away into the deep blue sky.
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She didn't know exactly where Oilean Gairdin was beyond its being somewhere in the Jut of Niarg. But after some time, hurtling along the length of the Jut, she spied the remains of stone walls standing in a tumble of pink quartz rubble, surrounded by abandoned orchards and formal gardens on an island in the middle of Jutland Lake. "This has to be it," she said as she settled her feet into the knee-deep grass and sat on her hovering stick, looking about. Grackles scolded, mobbing something in the crown of an apple tree. She dismounted and waded through the grass toward the ruins, pausing at an arbor to eat grapes. She saw no sure signs of trolls at all, but there were getting to be paths tramped flat in the grass as she neared the rubble. A striped blue lizard as big around as a pitchfork handle, vanished into the cracks of a stone fence. She stood, looking all about from under her hand. Over near a wall she saw bones. "Ha!" She hurried up her wallow through the grass to find a collapsed bedroom, overflowing the window sills with bones. Outside the broken walls, she now saw a good score of stone circles for campfires, most of them with live coals, scattered randomly about a courtyard littered with gnawed pieces of animal carcass and barefoot prints in the ankle deep dust. Presently she was hearing deep rumbling snores coming from every hole and recess that might protect from rain.
"Oh yes," she said, stopping short. "I very nearly forgot. I'll have to change to Fnadiyaphn's throat. At least Fnadi-phnig-nyd and Dyr-jinyr-yy will know who I am as a human. It's still hard to swallow from the last time." She held the Heart to her throat. It began glowing at once. "Gaah-hoof!" she bellowed, jerking the Heart away. "Aah-hoof-aah-hoof!"
She could hear trolls mumbling and stirring as she stood there with pains shooting through her head, working her jaw. She began quietly peering into holes, wincing each time she bent over for a look. By the time she was wondering if she could bear any more bending over, she found Dyr-jinyr-yy sound asleep on his back not far away from a huge breasted sow, asleep against a wall under her snarled bush of fiery red hair, snoring away like a giant bullfrog with a grimy toddler in her arms. "Maybe I'm getting lucky," she thought as she tiptoed close to peer at the baby. "He actually looks like James, except he's a troll. Well we'll see." She went back to stand over Dyr-jinyr-yy. "Jy-oyf-ny-oyd-fif, Dyr- jinyr-yy," she rumbled as she gave him a sharp poke with the Staff. "Ni!"
images (18)"Zawk-skok..." he smacked, suddenly sitting up with wide-eyed urgency.
"Jyrp-dyoy-dyn-yoy-oyr," said Spitemorta with a phosphorescent flicker in her eyes. "You'll live."
With a squeal, he pitched forward and flattened himself at her feet. "Fnadiyaphn!" he whimpered into the foul dirt. "Goddess come-give Veyfnaryr big-head-nod looky-look?"
"And you're going to show me," she said with a cherubic nod.
Dyr-jinyr-yy was on his feet at once, dashing over to Fnayooph to give her hair a good yank.
Fnayooph gave an explosive swing of her fist, barely missing Dyr-jinyr-yy, who sat backwards with a bounce in the dirt. She gasped in shock at the sudden sight of 503-700w163251Spitemorta and grabbed up a club, giving it a furious fling right by her ear.
Spitemorta gave a crackling jab with the Staff, setting aglow a patch of earth in front of Fnayooph which immediately exploded, blinding everyone with dirt and making Veyfnaryr howl.
"Fnayooph!" cried Dyr-jinyr-yy. "She-be Goddess Fnadiyaphn! Fnadiyaphn play human queen." 
Veyfnaryr wiggled out of her arms and stood up with his fists in his eyes, wailing at the topneanderthal-baby of his lungs. Fnayooph grabbed him into her lap and silenced him with a teat as she ground at her eyes with the heel of her other hand.
"Good job that you took care of my baby before you even tried to see," said Spitemorta, "otherwise, you would be dead right now. Does he bite?"
Fnayooph looked up with one confused eye, shook her head and held out Veyfnaryr for Spitemorta to take.
Spitemorta got a whiff of him and held up a pious hand. "I don't need to take him," she said. "I can see that he is getting the best of care." She pursed her lips as a look of awe flickered across her face. "My word!" she thought. "He simply glows with magical power."
She turned to Dyr-jinyr-yy. "I shall not keep you awake any longer," she said. "You all are doing quite well indeed. I'll simply be back from time to time to see how he's doing." And with that, she took to the air on her staff and vanished over the trees.
Well beyond Jutland lake, she landed and used the Heart to return her human throat and end her pounding headache. "My word!" she said as she climbed into the sky once more. "Nobody I've ever been around has that strong an aura..."
"See?" came a voice in her ear. "What did I try to tell you?"
"Shut up!" she screamed as she shook the Staff. "Shut up! Shut up Demonica!"
"Well I'm glad to see that you didn't completely lose control of the Staff this time, dear," came the voice again.
"Shut up!" she screamed. "Leave me alone!"
"Now just what kind of respect for the dead is that, Rouanez Bras?"
"Why can't you leave me alone?"
"Believe me," said the voice, "I most certainly would if it weren't for your endless need of guidance. But since you clearly resent even the slightest inclination which I might have to help..."
"All right!" cried Spitemorta. "If I let you help me, will you go away?"
imagesdemonica"Mission accomplished, dear."
"Very well, what do I need help with then, Grandmother?"
"Didn't I tell you that your troll baby was going to be more powerful than the great Razzmorten himself?"
"I don't remember."
"Of course not," said the voice. "I couldn't get you to hold off your demands to have him killed long enough to notice what I was saying, as I recall."
"And I can see that you're just as tedious to listen to as ever."
"Well let's try again, dear. Did you notice what I said this time?"
"What?"
"Veyfnaryr. Razzmorten..."
"What? Being stronger? Get out of here, Demonica! I know very well what all that means."
"Do you then? What does all this mean? This should be good."
"Why go through telling you?" said Spitemorta. "You already have all the answers. But if you must, it means that even if the Elves do manage to raise some dangerously powerful wizard, your ugly little troll monster just might destroy him. Right?"
"Bravo!" cheered the voice with the sound of clapping. "But the 'ugly little troll monster' as you put it, is yours, dear."
"My monster? It was your turning me into Fnadiyaphn, Grandmother."
There did not seem to be an answer.
"Grandmother?" said Spitemorta, frantically looking all about. "Demonica? Damn you! Where'd you go? Hey Demonica!"

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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps



Friday, May 26, 2017

Spitemorta takes over her Mother's House


Spitemorta lay in Demonica's bed, listening to the cries of gulls out her window as the first rays of sunlight lit the wall behind her. She threw back her covers, sat on the side of the bed and nearly fell when she tried to stand up. She hobbled to the tea table and ate some of the cheese and corned beef she had found in one of the larders while hunting skinwelerio├╣. She had forgotten all about eating for some time and discovered that she was quite hungry. At last she decided to get dressed. The broadening daylight made her want to hurry.
"Well, it's back west to Niarg before rejoining Coel and Cunneda," she said as she stepped into her black kirtle, "but I'll never be able to straddle the Staff for the entire way across the Orin Ocean. I'll just have to pick a place where I can vomit when I get there."
She laced up her bodice, grabbed up the Staff and turned her dress deep vermilion. She put the strap of her bag across her shoulder and sat on the bed with her skinweler. "Now just where is it?" she said as the swirling colors in the skinweler gave way to images. "Show me the manor house at Peach Knob. So that's where Mother grew up with Auntie Min and Grandfather Razzmorten. Why would it be so dark? Very well, let's find some place out of the way, around back." 
Suddenly she was on her hands and knees in a pandemonium of terrified chickens, squawking and flapping dust and old feathers all about her in the dim light of dawn as she retched and heaved her breakfast onto the floor between her hands. "Aangh!" she cried, catching her breath and sitting back on her heels as the chickens crowded round to snap up tidbits of her cheese and corned beef.
She grabbed up the Staff and sprang to her feet to pound with her fist along the chicken house
wall until she found the door and threw it open. "My dress!" she wailed, waltzing into the pigweed with her arms held wide. Just then it occurred to her that she was holding the Staff and she quickly used it to make herself as clean as she was when she was first dressed. Suddenly she stopped short with a scald of alarm at the sight of her second sunrise in one day. "No!" She shook her head. "No way it's Demonica. It can't be anything but the traveling spell.      
"There's the house," she said, looking uphill beyond the big orchard. "And that was my very last traveling spell ever, ever, ever, I swear." She started walking up the grassy lane between the rows of peach trees. An oriole gave a bawdy whistle. Up the lane, a kingbird chased away a pair of grackles. She could hear a tinkling of bells as sheep came running.
"Hoy!" she thought she heard someone holler. She looked back beyond the sheep to see a stooped old man wave. She turned away and made for the house. The summer kitchen reared up before her as she came out of the trees. She got a whiff of steak and eggs as she heard someone bang a skillet. She stopped and looked up at the manor house behind the kitchen. "Good for gentry," she said. "At lest it's temporary."
A heavy set woman appeared in the doorway of the summer kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. "Good morning to you, mistress," she called out with a smile. "You look bewildered, a-coming up on us out o' the orchard, that a-way. I've just fixed breakfast and I already set out an extra..."  
"Oh I know exactly where I am."
"Well now I'm Bethan, but should I know who you be?"
"It makes no difference who you are. But it's always best to know your new queen, particularly when you work on her manor."
"Peredur," said Bethan as the old man appeared behind Spitemorta. "did you hear what she just said to me?"
"No, but I can't begin to imagine what she was doing in the chicken house."
Bethan folded her arms and looked Spitemorta in the eye. "Well since I can't begin to believe what you just told me, dear, why don't you be so kind as to tell him what it was?"
"It's quite simple. I'm queen and you're in my house."
"Minuet is queen, and I'm queen mother. I raised the queen and her two children. This is my house. Razzmorten and the crown gave it to me."
Spitemorta let out a whoop of laughter and stopped. "Minuet is dead, dead, dead and you may be lucky enough to be the hired help in my house, if you don't get carried away," she said with a satiny rustle as she stepped into the doorway and pushed past Bethan.
"Now look 'ee here, child! Queen Minuet and Razzmorten saw us just days ago, and she certainly was queen then..."
"Yea? My soldiers found them dead of the plague when we destroyed Castle Niarg, what, yesterday? And my mother grew up in this house, so it's mine."
Bethan went apoplectically wide eyed. "You're Queen Spitemorta!" she gasped.
"It is Bethan's house," said Peredur as he steadied himself, stepping inside, "and I'm to live out my days here, too."
"Which could be up any moment from what I see," said Spitemorta as she picked up a piece of steak and took a bite.
"That won't hold up before the Bench," said Peredur.
"Queen's Bench," said Spitemorta with a cherubic smile and another bite.
Bethan caught his eye and shook her head. 
"If you're a willing part of my loyal service, you'll be alive to wait on me when I come back to stay."
"At your service, Your Majesty," said Bethan with a heavy curtsey.
"At your service," said Peredur with a bow.
Spitemorta stepped out into the grass and mounted the Staff. "Ta-Ta," she said and flew away into the morning sky.
"My word!" said Peredur as they watched from the doorway. "That witch! What have we got into?"
"Something you and I are going to live through, that's what."

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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ariel says she Could Die

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"We're done Grandfather," said Daniel.
Bede on his deathbed completing his translation of St. John’s Gospel, by James Doyle Penrose (1902)
"So I see." he said, fitting his spectacles onto his face.
"How did we do?" said Ariel as she and Daniel sat beside him.
"A question like that has been nothing but a respectful formality for some time, my dear," he said.
"Perfect then?" said Daniel.
"Absolutely," he said with a deep nod. "And this completes anything which I might contribute until Neron has worked with you for a time and we get you ready to go study with Meri Greenwood. And it is he who will prepare you for your staves and take you to see Longbark in Mount Bed."
"And then?" said Ariel. "Are we...?"
"Oh," he said with a smile. "I expect we'll have you back here again for one final inspection and a little practice."
"And then we get her..." said Daniel.
"When the moment falls exactly right," said Razzmorten as everyone went silent, listening to the swallows and the trickling water and the river pounding in the deep reaches, drawing away the echoes from the sink.
Daniel dug at the rocks with a twig.
"Abaddon ought to be back with Toast, directly," said Razzmorten, looking at Ariel withmasonjanettewoodruff sudden innocence.
"Great-Grandfather Razzmorten is naught but a matchmaker," said Arial, giving him a peck on his cheek.
"Not at all. You've had your heart bond for all these years."
"Are we done?" said Daniel.
"With magic, anyway. Go enjoy the day."
"Thanks Grandfather," he said, tossing aside his twig.
"Father keeps saying that in spite of the bond, I might eventually be safer away from Abby," said Ariel.
"Yea? Is that what you want?"
1e97d87cfb68e52a666665bdc0f45198"Maybe it's best for Abby. I mean I could die..."
"No you're not. And worse than that, you're guessing. How's that fit for a young and powerful sorceress? What do you want to do with your guesses, anyway, break his heart and then go die? Maybe you'd better do what your heart wants."
"You're right as usual," she said as she stood and brushed the seat of her skirt. "I shall indeed follow my heart."
"And you're not going to say another word about dieing," he called out after her as she stepped into the lava tube. "Ye hear?"
Ch 2, Doom
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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps
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Friday, May 12, 2017

The Last Time I Ever Saw Mom

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen Mom was a little girl growing up in Moonshine Prairie, her folks would stop the buggy on the way home from church to let her pick sweet williams. And from the time I heard her tell the story when I was a kid, I made sure that she had a nice big bouquet of the phlox she called sweet williams, every single Mother's Day.
When the day came that Carol and I had to go west to spend our5970678010_27968bcfe6_m time teaching on the reservations, I was no longer able to give Mom her flowers. We climbed Peacock Peak one Mother's Day, and near the top in a grove of Pi├▒on Pine, we found some kind of white phlox growing which was much smaller than sweet williams. I wanted to pick them and somehow send them to Mom, but there was no way we would ever have been able to climb back down the mountain with them.
One summer when we were back home, Mom's hip broke and she fell. After a spell in the hospital, we took her out to my sister Joan's in North Carolina and got teaching jobs. The teaching jobs didn't work very well. My school decided to teach all year, which would have crippled our writing, and Carol had a childish buffoon for a principal who was determined to nursing home falls-thumb-300x199-40655make life hell for anyone with the nerve to come from Arizona. We made it until December and then found jobs on the Navajo res in New Mexico.
We had just announced our decision to move back west, and were going to leave in the morning. Joan and I were sitting at the kitchen table, playing our fiddles. Mom announced that it was her bedtime and began shuffling out with her walker. Just after she had navigated between Joan and the refrigerator, she paused and turned to me. "Well, I guess this the last I'll ever see you," she said serenely.DSC_0348
"Mom!" I said. "Don't be ridiculous. We'll be back this next summer."
We had just gotten moved when Joan rang us with the news that Mom was gone. The thing that came to mind when I hung up the phone was remembering Mom taking the time out of her hectic spring day to walk a mile down into the woods with me to see an ovenbird's nest. This May will be the first chance I've had in all these years to go to the woods for sweet williams. I reckon I'll leave a handful on her grave.SweetWilliam1024

Tom Phipps

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Abaddon Thinks Ariel is the Prettiest Little Girl He has Ever Seen



The sudden cry of an infant across the camp caught Abaddon's attention. "That must be one of Lukus and Soraya's twins," he said, turning to James. "Have you seen them, yet? Ariel, the little girl is the prettiest thing I've ever seen. It's a good job that Momma and Nanna Demonica don't know about them, don't you know?"
elf child 2
"Why's that?"
"You really don't know?" said Abaddon with a flicker of his old scorn. "They think Lukus and Soraya are dead. The last thing they want is for them to live and have a baby 'cause of the proper scene. You know, the proper scene. It's real important, but what is it?"
For a moment he had everyone.
"Prophecy?" said Owain with a respectfully knitted brow as he stepped forth to spit in the fire.



"Oh," said James. "Well. It's when some great seer predicts that something is going to happen in the future. The prophesy that I think you must have heard your momma and nana talking about was made years ago by the Elves."
"So, what is it?"
"It says that the child born of a Human and an Elf will destroy the Heart and the Staff and the evil foe who tried to wield them."
Abaddon stared away in awe at Soraya soothing Ariel. "No wonder," he murmured.








Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Monday, May 8, 2017

It will Take Daniel and Ariel to Save the World from Spitemorta and Demonica


"Grandfather?" said Rose.medieval-woman-with-long-hair
"Yes?"
"Do you and King Neron think war is unavoidable?"
Razzmorten sighed and looked at her with a grave face. "Without a miracle, yes indeed," he answered.
"Thank you for being straight with me, Grandfather," she said as she cast a worried look at Fuzz. "We'd feared it would be so, but we were hoping that, you know, with the Elves being Elves..."
"Sure. You'd hoped they'd have some magical and quick solution."tumblr_mc7pq21lbC1qmtdyso1_500
"Yes."
"Rose, I'm afraid that even though the solution will indeed be magical, it will not be at all quick."
"Grandfather! It sounds as if you know how to stop this war."
"Yes I do, Rose, but it is neither in my power nor that of the Elves."
"Then, who can possibly do it?" she said, as Mystique traded places walking in the path with Abracadabra.
"Oh, Daniel or possibly Ariel, or perhaps both of them together..."
"But they're babies!" she said with a gasp. "It'll be years before they're old enough to do such a thing. What'll be left of the world?"
Bede on his deathbed completing his translation of St. John’s Gospel, by James Doyle Penrose (1902)

"Not much as we now know it, I fear," he said, bearing the most haunted look she had ever seen come from his kindly and steadfastly optimistic old eyes, "not much at all."




Ch 31, Stone Heart
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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps