Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Rose Marries Fuzz



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"How do I look, Mother?" said Rose as she anxiously peered again at her reflection in the great oval mirror.
"Absolutely, stunningly beautiful dear. You couldn't possibly be more gorgeous," said Minuet with a smile of wistful joy. "I think it's almost time. Why don't I just pop out into the garden and see if they are ready for you yet? And isn't it wonderful that we had this one warm, sunny day come along so it could actually be out there as you used to wish when you were little."
144131-fall-colors-wedding-bouquets-3Rose nodded gratefully and heaved a tight-buttoned sigh as Minuet stepped out of sight. "Well yes," she thought, as the handmaiden came at her train to whisk and fluff and straighten, "except that there are no roses, and that this has grown into a full-blown wedding. The citizens of Niarg had other ideas, but at least they're not making me marry Pea Slinger Pig Boy. But I do get Fuzz. I just wish this would be over."
She looked up at the sound of determined footfalls in the corridor. A wail of  bagpipes sounded, three steps before Minuet appeared round the corner. Minuet smiled radiantly and motioned in grand rhythm with the wedding march for her to come. She took a deep trembling breath, stepped through the doorway, took Hebraun's strong arm and floated down the crunching path to join Fuzz at the great white trellis, laced with naked vines, where he waited with Lukus, Razzmorten, Yann-Ber and Hubba Hubba, who stood at parade attention on Razzmorten's shoulder with her wedding ring clamped tightly in his beak.
Hebraun carefully parked her beside Soraya, Violet and Pebbles and stepped back with watery eyes. The ceremony swept over her like a dream and before she quite grasped it all, she and Fuzz were man and wife and immersed in a pandemonium of well-wishers. She met the joy and sadness in her mother's tearful eyes and felt oddly calmed. She turned to her husband and felt herself ignite with a glow of euphoric joy. This is truly what she had always wanted.
(Ch. 42, Stone Heart)Stone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle





Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, February 24, 2017

Herio Smashes Brutus



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





Ch. 17, The BurgeoningThe_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle
(Click on Title or Book Cover to Purchase at Amazon. Ebook Just $2.99)



Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Monday, February 20, 2017

Herio is Knighted



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Minuet fought back the urge to take Herio into her arms and beg him to change his mind. "You, my valiant guardian, are to come back to me unharmed," she said fiercely.
"I will, my Queen," said Herio solemnly as he bowed low.
When he stood, Minuet embraced him and kissed him on both cheeks. "You are a right brave young man, but you sally forth on a knight's errand," she said. "Therefore, you must bear with you a knight's title. Kneel before me, Herio."
Astonishment flickered in his eyes as he knelt at once.
Minuet drew Hebraun's sword, raised it before her and kissed the blade. She smiled, eyes brimming with tears as she placed the blade on first one, then the other of his shoulders. "Ymladd yn erbyn drwg...Ymladd dros Niarg...Ymladd dros rhinwedd, marchog," she proclaimed. "Thou a royal knight of Niarg ybeoth. Ryst up, Sir Herio."
Herio stood at once. "You have honored me beyond my wildest dreams," he said, looking at her in wonder. "I will not disappoint you."
"I know," she said as she took Razzmorten's arm. "Now Father, please change Hubba Hubba so that these two brave souls may be on their way."
"Are you ready, Hubba Hubba?" he said.
"You got it, Wiz," said the satin crow looking up from amidst the scrambling brood and Pebbles. Suddenly all eyes went wide as Hubba Hubba ran his ebony beak down some flight feathers and gave himself a thorough shake. "Thanks, Wiz. Ready Sir Herio?"
"Not without us!" squeaked Chirp, winging into the room with Tweet and Squeak in a flurry of wings.
"At least for as far as we can make it by this evening," tweeted Squeak.
"Why that makes my morning!" cawed Hubba Hubba with a shake of his black ruff. "Let's go, shall we boys?" 
"Just a moment before you leave," said Razzmorten. "Herio, Hubba Hubba, Chirp, Tweet and Squeak, this is a little something to bear in mind for the sake of everyone while you're off on this mission: no matter what happens, no matter how tempting, never ever peer into a skinweler."
Ch. 9, The Burgeoning 
(Click on Title or Cover to The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_KindlePurchase at Amazon)



Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, February 17, 2017

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.
Neanderthal vs modern human
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 woolly 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?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Sale: Heart of the Staff, the Complete Series is 99 Cents & 99 Pence Thru 2/28/17



Happy Valentine's Day!

This is an entire epic fantasy, not an anthology!


Books one through six of the series are available individually at Amazon for:
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The Collector Witch        $3.99
The_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_Kindle

Stone Heart                    $ 4.99
Stone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle

The Burgeoning             $ 5.99
The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle
The Reaper Witch          $6.99
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Doom                             $7.99
Doom


Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rose is Three

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Robins scolded in the growing shadows of the rose garden beneath the balcony, as a little girl held her breath and carefully tickled the red crown feathers offered by the newly fledged parrot. "Mamma!" she gasped, drawing back with dancing eyes. "She likes me." She clapped her hands with a bounce of her curls of tow. "See? She's still holding out her head feathers. Can I hold her now?"
20130213-043355"Of course," said Minuet. "Just hold out your finger as I showed you, Rose, and wait for Pebbles to step on."
Rose nodded and held out her finger, giving Minuet and Hebraun each a very solemn look before offering it to Pebbles, who carefully stepped on.
"Very good," said Minuet with a glance at the door. "Bethan's here, I see. It's time to let her get you ready for bed."
"Can I put Pebbles on her perch, Mamma?"
"As long as you're real easy, sweetheart."
Rose crept to the perch with all of the sober reserve of some great ceremony.
Pebbles looked quickly here and there at her feet, not knowing quite what was expected as theygreen-cheeked-amazon-parrot-01 arrived.
"A bird is not posed to be dilatory in a castle," said Rose as Pebbles took an uncertain step onto the perch. "You have to set an essample."
Minuet looked up to share her amusement and found that the butler already had Hebraun's attention. "Now go straightaway with Bethan, Rose," she said. "We'll be along directly to tuck you in."          
 ****
"So," she said. "She's undoubtedly got her baggy eyes from the sukere. And she stands a very good chance of being deeply involved with some evil design involving sukere with Razzorbauch and Demonica." She leant aside to see to Rose. "Oh sweetheart. You've got cherries all down your front."
"They still taste good that way, Mamma. See? Here's a really good one."
"I'll take care of her," said Bethan. "You've got things to discuss."
4ud2"Mamma? When Grandma Bethan gets me cleaned up, can she take me to show Real Grandma how I can sit on Mystique?"
"You just got your new unicorn, dear. I want to be there with you until you've had some real experience riding."
"I understand," said Rose as Bethan led her away. "Grandma? You'll have to learn to be patient. Mamma's just being a queen like you used to be." 
(Chapter 20, Good Sister, Bad Sister)Good_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_Kindle
 ****
They found Hebraun and Minuet already well into a breakfast of boiled eggs and hot rye bread. As Razzmorten seated her, Ugleeuh saw Bethan leading out a striking and immaculately polite little tow-headed girl. "That's their little shit," she thought, as an orderly rushed to the board with plates and another bowl of boiled eggs. "Too bad, little shit!"   
(Chapter 23, Good Sister, Bad Sister)




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Herio Comes to Niarg


Herio awoke to the sound of busy wee toenails scuffling along a corky ridge of bark overhead as a tiny chickadee searched for hibernating grubs. The cloudless dawn sky above was already turning blue. At the sound of a metallic clink from a link of his shackles, the bird chipped and flitted away. He jerked, giving a furious scratch at the fleas which infested the tattered unicorn blanket which Sergeant Dunvel had resentfully shoved at him. It was still far too cold to do without it. Jays called.
"Wake up cachu ci!" barked Dunvel as he kicked him in the ribs hard enough to knock the wind out of him.
He cried out in pain as he struggled to get his breath. He sat up, drawing his shackles tight around the trunk of the small maple he had straddled all night.
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At once, Dunvel had a knife at his throat. "There, cachu ci," he said, tossing the keys into the leaves by his shackles. "Undo 'em. And if ye do anything quick at all, I'll haul your stinkin' red head to Niarg in a bag."
Herio stretched out his arms, mindful of the blade at his Adam's apple. He had to try several times to unlock the shackles, since his hands were trembling convulsively and Dunvel simply refused to let him lean forward. The blade stank fiercely of raw egg and foul spit. Wave after fff9888wave of white-hot fear surged through him as he fumbled. He could picture his own throat being cut. He could picture himself somehow grappling away the knife and running Dunvel through. Somehow he would manage to stay alive because someday he would get Dunvel for this, after he got Brutus for killing his little brother.
At last he was astride his unicorn, a small dappled cyflymder-DĂșlish cross. The thought of spurring it and dashing away through the timber had died the moment he saw how both mounts were already tethered together. He watched Dunvel champing open-mouthed at the last of the travel rations like some kind of dog. His stomach gnawed and he looked away.
"Hey cachu ci!" barked Dunvel. "Want some? Hey! Don't you look away! Do you want some?"
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Herio looked but made no reply.
"You'd better answer me 'fore I come over there an' make you. Are you hungry?"
"Herio nodded ever so slightly.
"Well, ye ain't gettin' any 'cause this is the last, last little bit," he said with beady-eyed merriment as he came up close to chew. He wiped his hands first on his breeches and then in the leaves, as he belched loud enough for it to echo amongst the trees. He began untying reins. "We'll reach Castle Niarg in less than an hour, I'd reckon," he said with a grunt, as he threw his leg over his ponderous ceffyl arfog unicorn. "Now, ye'd best be rememberin' what the captain said, or else a lot more of your stinkin' Ash Forkers are goin' 'o swing." He roared with laughter and smacked Herio's unicorn on the rump, making it rear and roll its eyes before spurring his own mount off through the leaves.
Herio stared straight ahead, tears streaming down his cheeks, watching his unicorn's ears turn this way and that, as Dunvel went to great lengths to describe how his little red-haired brother had kicked and kicked and turned blue as he died. At last the castle loomed before them, ending the ordeal.
Dunvel smoothed and straightened his black sash with its embroidered blood red hourglass and grinned a toothy grin as they rode up to the gate. "You remember why you're here, cachu ci," he said.
Herio kept his eyes forward and gave a curt nod only to show that he had heard.
"Halt, right there!" hollered the guard from the embrasure above the portcullis. 
"Ha," thought Herio at the sight of the look which flickered across Dunvel's face, though not a twitch of expression managed to surface on his own.
"What business has one bearing an escutcheon such as yours doing here, sir?" echoed the guard.
"We have an urgent message for your king!" hollered Dunvel.
"Urgent? And who might this urgent message be from?"
"Are you blind, man?" cried Dunvel. "It ought to be obvious!"
"We are right well credited by this tottering sack of hog dung, wearing the black sash and red hourglass of sorcery and treachery, if by the mere sight of him he fancies that we can read his mind!" called out Captain Bernard as he stepped beside the guard. "Unfortunately, since he's so frightfully ugly that it would be impossible to read his mind, we must assume that his bloated head merely makes him forget his place in a country not his own! So be it! I'll let His Majesty know at once! In the meantime, though, you'd best stay exactly where you are, since I've ordered a score of long bowmen to loose arrows if they see you move at all!"
Stone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle





 Ch. 47, Stone Heart



Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps