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Back in the monkey days, when I was studying to be a botanist, I became intrigued with Middle English. Here was a version of our own tongue which our civilization just up and quit reading. What a loss. After all of the graduate school I could stomach, I stumbled across a hot-shot English student who gave me a copy of Chaucer’s Poetry, an Anthology for the Modern Reader by E. T. Donaldson at Indiana University. I began at once studying it from cover to cover and saw why we moderns no longer had access to the language.
One barrier which had arisen over the centuries since its use was a change in vocabulary. One third of modern English consists of words never heard by people six hundred years ago, and one third of Middle English is vocabulary no longer used at all. When I set about memorizing these obsolete words, another problem appeared. Wanting to get it right, I paid close attention to the rules of pronunciation insisted upon by Professor Donaldson, which assigned completely different sounds to virtually every vowel, long and short, because of the occurrence of what he called a vowel shift (making As sound like Os and Is sound like Es) which turned Middle English into a virtual foreign language.
I put more effort into getting his pronunciations right than I did at the vocabulary. And the harder I worked, the less satisfactory it all seemed to me. As far as I was concerned, he gave no satisfactory proof for there ever having been any sort of vowel shift at all. He claimed that the way that Chaucer rhymed his verses was proof enough, but he weakened his own argument by also claiming that Chaucer and his contemporaries were sloppy rhymers. I simply could not accept such a thing out of an age of addressing court in rhyming verse.
Meanwhile, Middle English grammar kept reminding me of the Appalachian speech I grew up immersed in. Both Chaucer and the old man hoeing corn across the hedge could talk about “when he come to town.” They both would say, “They was all there.” But it went further than the grammar. Old timers used to say that they “was out huntin’ mushyroons,” and Middle English for mushrooms was musserounes. And if there had been a vowel shift, I can’t imagine how it would have been possible to hang onto such a pronunciation.
In fact, how could any of these ever have existed, had there been a vowel shift? Sowynge was Middle English for sewing. Trustid was Middle English for trusted. In Chaucer’s day, a thyng was a thing, just as my little girl used to be called a sweet thaing. Chaucer got fyssh out of a cryke, just like we always got feesh out of a crik. And when we chomped (champed) on these morsels, Chaucer chaumped. Het was Middle English for heated. And indeed, someone furious around home was said to be all het up, just as someone might have gotten six centuries ago over eny goode cawse. Chaucer had blewe for blue, dowte for doubt and reskew for rescue. And I swear that his verses rhyme ‘way better with Appalachian vowels than with Donaldson’s shifted ones.
Modern English is the language spoken throughout Elf Killers and the epic series, Heart of the Staff. Fairies speak Middle English without most of its obsolete words in Good Sister, Bad Sister, The Burgeoning, Reaper Witch and Doom. The rest of the languages used appear as isolated words and sentences chosen to give realism and color to various characters. Most of these are explained by context and all can be found translated in the respective glossaries in the books where they appear.
Language: What it is: Who speaks it:
Niarg Standard current Modern English Kingdom of Niarg
Kingdom of Loxmere
Kingdom of Goll
Kingdom of Bratin Brute
Archaic Modern Niarg Middle English all Fairies
all profanities uttered by
Ocker the raven
Niarg (600 yrs prior)
Old Niarg Standard Welsh Kingdom of Niarg
Kingdom of Loxmere
Kingdom of Goll
Kingdom of Bratin Brute
Jutish Elven Irish Jutish Elves
Old Gwaelic Elven Irish Gwaelic Elves (1M yrs prior)
Gwaelic Elven Manx Gwaelic Elves
Gwaelic Cornish Gwael
Headlandish Breton Penvro (Head)
Goblish-Beakish Pictish Kingdom of Marr (Beaks)
Ngop Wagiman the Ngop
Wagiman is almost extinct. The last I knew, only ten Australian Aboriginals still speak it.
Trollish transposition of an trolls
Trollish is a very nasal sounding language, the transposition of an aboriginal New World language, where each letter in the original tongue is replaced with a different letter. In particular, the sounds most frequently used by the aboriginal speakers are replaced with the sounds which are the very most difficult for them to pronounce. Trollish uses such non European peculiarities as noun-verbs, which we originally tried to represent in English by running nouns and verbs together (as they are in the aboriginal) in words such as, headsmash, juicychamp, cantgoback, rollybottomhohoslap and grabupsqueakers, which we soon changed to head-smash, juicy-champ, can’t-go-back, rolly-bottom-ho-ho-slap and grab-up-squeakers in order to be easy to read.
And as always, please let us know what you think,
*** When reading our books please keep the above languages in mind, and… Especially remember that the language of the Fairies (In the four books below) is not full of grammar or syntax errors, it’s MIDDLE ENGLISH!***
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 the Strah 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 grassbehind 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.”
“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, quietingthem 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!”
Herio could scarcely take his eyes off the sky long enough to find his stirrup as he thanked Mrs. Gweld for the pie and said his goodbyes. “I wonder if they passed by while I was inside,” he said once he had Gwynt underway, following Sophie on her unicorn to Castlegoll Road.
“Well, this is it,” she said, hesitating as he doffed his hat and steered Gwynt onto the road.
“She’s pretty,” he thought. He looked back to see her disappear around the corner. “Actually, she’s very pretty. And now that I think about it, she must have been interested in me. My! Could that be why she came with her unicorn instead of her brothers?” He gave a deep sigh and resumed combing the heavens.
Suddenly something was fluttering in his ear, giving him a start. “Herio!” chirped Tweet, landing on his shoulder and springing into flight again. “You’ve got to hurry! Hubba Hubba’s been shot and the evil boy’s going to eat him!”
“No! Is he dead?”
“He was alive last I knew, but…”
“Good! Show me. Let’s go Gwynt!”
“It was actually on this very road, just two farms south of here, where he was shot. We have to wait there for either Chirp or Squeak to show up when they find where the boy took him.”
At once, Herio had Gwynt pounding away at a full gallop. Soon his side was cramping from all the bouncing pie.
“Herio! Tweet! Hoy!” came a wee tweet from up ahead.
“Squeak!” chirped Tweet. “Is Hubba Hubba still alive?”
“Hurry! I’ll show you!”
Away they raced, down the road and through the very same fields crossed by Frankin and Hubba Hubba. At last they splashed through the creek and had zigzagged nearly across the orchard. “You’re here!” squeaked Chirp, dropping down from the sky, halting them at once. “See that house through the trees? They took him inside in a game bag, but I think they have him in a box. He’s hurt, Herio. I don’t know how bad. The biggest boy right yonder, see? He beaned him on the head and knocked him right out of the sky. They were going to dress him for supper…”
“And they haven’t yet?” said Herio.
“I don’t think so, ’cause the lady and the boys got to fussing something awful.”
“How do you reckon they’d take my walking up and asking for their supper?”
“Not very well. They’ve been shouting at each other the whole time I’ve been here.”
“Maybe I could offer them some money for Hubba,” he said, glancing away at the house. “They look kind of hard up.”
“They look like they might rob you…” squeaked Chirp.
“Oh surely not, but if it eases your mind, I’ll dump out most of our money in the rotted out place in this old peach tree.” He poured out his coins, put away his bag and threw his leg over Gwynt. “Well, let’s go get Hubba, boys.”
Frankin trotted out several rods to meet them. “You better hold it right there, fellow!” he hollered as he wrapped a stone in the patch of his sling. “We don’t know you at all, so that makes you ones a trespasser…”
“Frankin!” echoed the cry from the house. “How’d you get that sling? You bring it back right now! You hear? And don’t you dare talk to strangers that a-way unless there’s a good reason!”
“I’m right sorry,” said Herio. “I certainly didn’t mean to make you think I was trespassing. I’m just passing through on my way to Castle Goll, but I got separated from my crow…”
“Crow?” said Frankin without so much as glancing back at his mother. “No crow here, fellow, so just turn around. Go!” He swung his rock back and forth like he might fling it around and throw it.
“Frankin! You heard me!” came the cry from the house.
Frankin did not bat an eye nor turn around, but the shouting woman must have had his attention, for suddenly Kink dashed out of the bushes and yanked away the sling.
“We got a crow shut up in the house, mister!” cried Kink, dancing about warily, well out of Frankin’s reach.
“Yea!” cried Dink, running up. “He talks and Mom’s afraid of him!”
“This time you gwrteithiau have really gone and done it!” cried Frankin, going red in the face. “I’m going to pound you…”
“Not while I’m alive!” howled the Mother, grabbing him by the arm. “And you’re done with slings for a good while, buster!”
Frankin tried to wrench free, but she gave him a shake.
“I’m man of the house now that Dad and Alwin’s gone!” he wailed. “You said so!”
“Yea? Well, when you can’t live up to it, then you’re just a little boy, aren’t you? And if that makes you disappointed, kid-o, hit makes me doubly so. Now let’s work you back up to being a man again. You get yourself around back and chop me a proper rick o’ wood!”
“But there’s a whole pile of wood ’round…Aaaah!”
“And there’s a proper red welt acrost the back o’ your leg, too!” she hissed as she got him good with a whistling switch. She watched him scuttle out of sight. When she heard chopping commence, she retied her apron. “Now I’m right sorry for that, young man. He’s turned mean since his daddy was kilt at Ash Fork. Now he didn’t even give you ones the chance to give your name, ‘fore he started in, did he? He’s Frankin, I’m Mrs. Simms and these two be Wilmer and Jake…”
“I’m Herio, ma’am,” he said, thinking to remove his hat.
“Well, we’ve been kind o’ afraid of your bird. We didn’t know what to think. He bit me good every time I tried to get him down, and he was swearing like a sailor…”
“Sounds like Hubba Hubba, all right…”
“That’s his name?”
“And you taught him to curse like that?”
“No, but I’ve learnt a bunch from him…”
“You know, that’s one lie I think I believe,” she said with a laugh as she turned to Kink and Dink. “You ones run inside and bring this nice young fellow his bird.”
They raced to the door and darted inside. Immediately they were back outside again, with the door slammed fast behind them. They looked up at Herio with wide eyes.
“He’s deliberately knocking things off shelves…” said Kink.
“And he said when you get here you’re going to cut off our heads,” said Dink with an uneasy swallow.
Herio put his ear to the door.
“And when he does show up, “cawed Hubba Hubba amidst the crash of dishes, “you all will wish you were far, far, away! He’ll make you pay! He’ll cut off your grubby little fingers! He’ll…!”
“He’ll come and take you with him!” hollered Herio as he threw open the door.
“Herio!” cawed Hubba Hubba, swooping down from some shelves to walk up the front of his shirt as he madly beat his wings. “You did it! You saved me! They were going to eat me!” He flapped his way up onto Herio’s shoulder to drop open his beak and go quite skinny. “You mean you didn’t kill them?”
“Well, no, Hubba, they returned you in one piece… In fact, ma’am?” he said, taking out his purse and dumping out some crowns onto the bench by the door. “This is for your dishes.”
“Why you ones don’t have to…”
“Have you seen how many he broke?”
“Every bloomin’ one I could reach,” rattled Hubba Hubba as he bristled all over. “And ‘one piece,’ I dispute that. Have you seen the knot on my head?”
“Then you’ve gained from the experience,” said Herio, rolling his eyes for Mrs. Simms.
She nodded and herded her boys back towards the house. “Looks like we both got our hands full,” she called with a nod, as she shooed Kink and Dink into the house. “Good luck, you hear?”
“Thank you ma’am, for being good to my bird,” said Herio as he got astride Gwynt with Hubba Hubba gaping aghast and three merrily twittering sparrows. They sauntered back through the orchard, pausing long enough to scrape his crowns out of the rotted out hollow in the old tree.
“‘Good to my bird?’ ‘Good to my bird?’ You think a knot on my very knitty box, big as my eye, is good to your bird? And what righteous damage, may I ask, did you do in order to be good unto them…?”
The stinky beefy boy slowed to a walk with a skip and happily patted his game bag full of Hubba Hubba. Whistling a giddy tune fit for the tone deaf, he left the path through a gap in the hedge to cut across a freshly ploughed field. Chirp and Squeak followed ’round the outside in the tops of trees grown up in the hedge. The boy scampered through new oats, a meadow and a fresh cow pile, pausing to rinse his feet in a gurgling creek before dashing triumphantly across an orchard to a fiery haired woman and two boys, hoeing in a broad vegetable garden.
“Mom!” hollered the stinky boy as she bent to pull a weed. “Get wood on the fire! I bagged fresh meat for supper!”
She stood up, brushing the dirt from her skirts and hands.
“Look Mom! I got him with my sling! I knocked ‘im clean out of the air! I’m gettin’ good, aye?”
“I’ll say Frankin,” she said, peering into his bag. “I’ve been watching you get better day by day. This is game to remember, all right, particularly when you may go the rest of your life and not get another on the wing like that.”
“So all you think is I just got lucky, isn’t hit?”
“Well Frankin, someone without your sharp eye would certainly have an empty bag right now…”
“Ha!” he crowed with a leap. “I’m really somethin’ with my sling, and you know it.”
“I’ve just hung the tea-kettle over the fire,” she said, ruffling up his hair. “You could wash up for a nice cup o’ tea before you dress your bird, if you don’t dally.”
Frankin raced to the back door, hung Hubba Hubba on the latch and wheeled ’round to go to the well in time to find his little brothers following. “Hey Poopkink!” he snarled. “If you and Poopdink have to sneak along behind me, don’t you dare touch the game bag.”
“Help!” cawed Hubba Hubba, coming to in total blackness. “I’m dead again! I can’t see!” He hysterically thrashed and flogged his wings against the insides of the cramped box they had him in, pausing to go light in the head, gasping for want of air.
Someone heard his cries and threw open the box. “Kawk!” he cried as four chubby hands crowded in after him. “Have some respect! Can’t you idiots tell I’m wounded here?”
Both boys squealed and yanked back, dropping the lid on Hubba Hubba.
“Hey! I object! This is abuse! Here I am, smashed in the head…”
“Hit does talk!” they cried in wide-eyed chorus.
“You got it!” shouted Hubba Hubba. “And do you ones listen? Here I am smashed in the head, some drooling gnoff strangles me ’till I black out, maybe die, and here you ones whack me in the head again… Is this the stinkin’ Pit, or what? Well?”
Suddenly they lunged at the box. Hubba Hubba exploded into frantic flight about the room, landing on a quilting frame drawn up by twine to the overhead beams. “All right,” he rattled. “At least I can see this is some rotten old kitchen, somewhere, and not the Pit. And whatever you two are, I am not some kind of ‘it!’ I’m one right proud crow and I’m traveling with a young man who ought to here directly to cut off your stinkin’ heads for doing this to me…!”
“Hey you little gwrteithiau!” yelled Frankin as he threw open the door. “What’d I tell you about my game bag? And why weren’t you out helping us drive in the six sheep which just now got out in the garden? Which one of you left the gate open anyway…?”
“It’s loose!” cried Kink.
“Close the door!” cried Dink.
“I am not an ‘it,'” rattled Hubba Hubba.
“Taran!” shouted Frankin as he slammed the door and began glancing about. “So you not only let the sheep out, you got into my bag and turned the crow loose! If he gets clean away, you’ll not only be cachu, I’ll find something really disgusting and make you each eat its cachu!”
“He’s right over your head,” said Dink.
Frankin wheeled ’round and looked up. “Mom!” he bellowed, “Come in here and see what they did now!” He lunged and missed Hubba Hubba, whacking the quilting frame madly about on the ends of its short twines.
“Kawk!” cried Hubba Hubba, as he crouched to hang on
Frankin leaped again, snapping a twine and knocking down the frame to smash a huge crock of soupy cottage cheese onto the floor.
“You bloated idiot!” cawed Hubba Hubba, springing into flight about the room. He spied a board nailed across the timbers and landed on that with his back to the ceiling. “You stinking armpit maggot…”
“So you’re some kind of magic crow, aye?” he said, taking out his sling. “Well it doesn’t matter, bird-o. You’ll never get out of this room, ’cause when I knock you down, I’m goin’ ‘o jerk your ugly head out o’ your shoulders!”
“No!” cried Kink and Dink together.
“Frankin!” cried their mom as she stepped in the door to go apoplectically wide eyed. “My stars! That’s fifteen gallons of cottage cheese, all over!”
“They did it!” wailed Frankin. “They got into my bag when I told them not to and turned loose the crow. I’ve got to kill it quick…”
“No!” cried Dink. “Hit’s magic…!”
“Hit talks!” cried Kink.
“And they’ve gotten windy as kites in the process, too, I see. Well you two, what have I told you about making up things…?”
“I think you two need to take this stack of bowls and scoop up as much clean cheese as you can get off the floor for your next several meals. Then, you need to mop up every bit of what’s left.”
“But we aren’t making it up!” wailed Dink, as his mom thrust a stack of bowls into his arms and steered him toward the slumping mound of cheese and crock chards.
“Now, freak bird, hit’s your turn,” said Frankin, fitting a stone into his sling.
“Kawk!” cried Hubba Hubba. “Lady, lady! Please listen to your little fellows!”
“That’s not the least bit amusing, Frankin,” she said, wheeling ’round to glare at him.
“But I didn’t…”
“No, no, no, no!” cawed Hubba Hubba. “I did! I’m not some game animal to be beaned and chucked in the kettle. Hey! I’ve got brains here.”
“Mercy!” she gasped. “You do talk!”
“Hit’s a trick, Mom, said Frankin.
“Right. So where’s the minstrel puppeteer?”
“Come on, Mom! Somebody taught him to talk…”
“Absolutely!” rattled Hubba Hubba. “Just like they did you, only I didn’t need to be taught how to think, and you’ve yet to manage.”
“Don’t touch the bird,” she said, snatching away his sling. “Do not harm him, understand?”
“But he’ll get away!”
“We’re going to be real good to him ’till we figure him out,” she said. “Now go fetch me a good sized box to put him in, and make sure there are a right smart amount of air holes in it.”
“Air holes?” cried Hubba Hubba. “What kind of ‘real good’ to me is that? No wonder you haven’t taught maggot boy here how to think, yet! And I don’t care what he brings back, you’re going to have to come up here and get me!”
Hubba Hubba, Chirp, Tweet and Squeak were returning from a reconnaissance mission for Herio in The Burgeoning when…
“There are a slew of farmsteads, though,” squeaked Chirp as he bounced along in a mad flutter to keep up. “One of them might put us up…”
“That’s ground work,” chirped Tweet. “We can’t ask around from the air.”
“Let’s just go back now,” said Hubba Hubba. “If that’s all that’s left, we’re wasting time. I hate to think of another night of Herio’s scorched beans, or nothing at all like last night.”
“Couldn’t be that bad,” tweeted Squeak. “Those folks down there look pretty hard up. A little money would surely get us what we want…”
“Yea?” said Hubba Hubba. “And it could be right risky if they thought Herio was well-to-do. A young fellow by himself?” He clacked shut his beak with a shake of his head. “Someone might try to rob him…or worse!”
“Worse, master?” squeaked Chirp.
“Hey, I remember arrows and meat cleavers and ugly manners of all sorts out of people on the ground who weren’t even penniless and desperate. And don’t you dare call me master! Aren’t we chums these days?”
“Oh I forgot, you being a crow and all…”
“Crow! Well, I can’t hide from that, but reminders of the Ugleeuh days give me a headache…” And with that, he collapsed into a headlong fall.
Hubba Hubba opened his eyes to find the ground shooting up to meet him. He began flapping furiously. “Help! Help! Help!” he cawed. “It’s too late! Pebbles, I’m sorry!”
Without warning, something strange was under each of his wings. Suddenly he was seeing stars, bouncing and rolling to a rumpled stop in tall new grass.
“Oh, I hate being dead,” he rattled. “Throb. Throb. Throb. That’s my stinking head, but why are my wingpits doing it, too? Say! Why am I thinking?”
“It’s not thinking, Hubba Hubba,” squeaked Chirp, “It’s just you. Now could you please lift your wing? Squeak and Tweet are under here!”
“So you ones are dead too, aye?” he said, letting out a yelp from moving his head to peer under his wing.
“Good grief no!” chirped Tweet, with a ruffle of his feathers. “We’re not dead and neither are you!” He gave Hubba Hubba two or three one eyed inspections. “You sure have a knot on your knitty box. What the ding-dong blazes did you fly into up there?”
“I have no idea at all, but for some crazy reason it made me think of Ugleeuh…” And at that very instant he was yanked out of the grass by his neck.
“Hey!” crowed a stinky beefy boy with a hateful grip, as he sprang into a dancing pell-mell run through the grass. “I got him! I got him! I got him! I got him!”
Chirp, Tweet and Squeak shot into the air from where Hubba Hubba had fallen and watched in shock from the top of a big walnut tree as the stinky beefy boy made off with him through the grass. “They’ll get away if we don’t get moving!” squeaked Chirp as they all dove into the air.
“He’d never let someone make off with us!” tweeted Squeak.
“Let’s keep up!” chirped Tweet.
“Hey!” squeaked Chirp. “Somebody tell me how we’re going to save him from a grabby boy a thousand times bigger than we are. He’ll pull our heads off!”
“Go for help!” chirped Tweet.
“And somebody still has to follow,” tweeted Squeak.
“Someone needs to find Herio and bring him here, while the other two of us follow Hubba Hubba,” squeaked Chirp. “When we see where the boy takes him, one of us comes back here and the other stays and watches…
“Yea,” chirped Tweet. “And hope to the Pit he doesn’t get et while we’re at it!”
“Don’t even think that!” tweeted Squeak.
“Just for that, you go find Herio,” squeaked Chirp.
Tweet gave a wide-eyed nod and shot away with a bouncing blur of wings.
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?
Thanksgiving Surprise, Part 2 By Carol Marrs Phipps
Illustrated By: Lana Dobbins Cramer
“Let’s stop here for just a bit, Gobbler,” Krista said as she planted herself down on a large, flat-topped tree stump and motioned that he should draw near for his usual session of scratching, petting and being told him how extremely magnificent he was.
He went to her at once and leant blissfully into her hand. As she began her deft ministrations, he gobbled a sigh of utter contentment.
“I have a surprise for you Gobbler. Today is a very special day, my sweet,” Krista crooned as she wove her nimble fingers through Gobbler’s satiny feathers. “It is a holiday we humans call Thanksgiving. It is a time when we gather together with our loved ones and give thanks for our bounty. This year, dear one, you will be the guest of honor and from then on you will forever be a part of me. How does that sound?”
In answer Gobbler simply pushed his head further into her soothing fingers and closed his eyes dreamily. He didn’t see farmer Stanz coming up from behind his wife to hand her the freshly sharpened hatchet and then step back by the rail fence to observe Gobbler’s execution at the hands of the woman he adored.
Suddenly, Krista’s fingers tightened painfully in Gobbler’s neck feathers and his eyes flew open in shock. He stared up into Krista’s beautiful green eyes imploring her to tell him what he had done for her to suddenly treat him in this manner. The odd gleam in her eyes and the humorless grin she gave him in return frightened him nearly senseless. He began to struggle frantically to get away from her.
“Oh no, my pet, it is much too late for that,” Krista said as she grabbed him by the throat and stood, putting her hatchet down on the stump she had just vacated. With her other hand now free, she grabbed his beak and held it shut so he couldn’t bite her. “I’ve been feeding you up for months in anticipation of the fine meal you would make for my family on Thanksgiving and I’m not about to let you get away…” With those fateful words she twisted Gobbler’s neck and he went limp at once. She smiled broadly in satisfaction and laid him carefully out with his head and neck draped over the stump. She studied him for just a moment to make certain he was dead or at the very least, safely unconscious. She picked up her hatchet and raised it to chop off his magnificent head. Just at that moment Gobbler opened his eyes which were now glowing an eerily blood-red color. He stared straight at Krista with such hatred she gasped and backed away trembling.
Farmer Stanz at once sprang towards his wife. “What are you doing, Krista? Chop the damn bird’s head off!” he commanded as she took another step back and stumbled over the bucket her husband had put there to throw Gobbler’s severed head into. Her arms instantly began to pinwheel backwards and she lost her grip on the hatchet. It spun end over end through the air then lodged deeply into the middle of the farmer’s forehead, splittting it open. Krista landed smack on her backside just in time to sprayed with blood and brains and gore from her husband’s split skull as he, too, crumpled to the ground. She let out an unearthly shriek then stumbled to her feet and tried to jerk the hatchet from her dead husband’s head. It took her three mighty attempts before she freed the instrument from where it had lodged, deep within Ben’s skull. Wildly she spun back to where Gobbler had been draped across the tree stump, but he was no longer there. He was on his feet staring at her with those unearthly glowing eyes.
“But you can’t still be alive!” she rasped. “I wrung your neck…what are you?”
Gobbler continued to stare at her as he silently advanced toward her.
Krista’s eyes bulged in terror, she raised her trembling hand with the hatchet held in her white-knuckled grip. “Stop now or I swear I’ll kill you!” she warned. But when Gobbler continued to advance she spun around and fled. Running in blind fear she tripped over her husband’s body and fell forward. Instinctively she flung her hands out before her to break her fall. Her only sound a sharp, “umph!” as she hit the ground and lay still, her life’s blood flowed from her chest and seeped away into the dirt. Krista’s chest had been ripped open when she landed on the upturned hatchet blade. It had cleaved her breastbone and sliced clean through her heart.
Gobbler surveyed the morbid scene for several long minutes as his glowing eyes slowly returned to their usual beady dark brown. “What do you think of your Thanksgiving surprise, now?” he asked, then slowly strutted back to his barnyard home.
Thanksgiving Surprise, Part 1 By Carol Marrs Phipps
Illustrated By: Lana Dobbins Cramer
“Just look at him, Sid,” Sybil Fantail gasped in dismay as she paused on the porch to the beautiful home she shared with her mate and their only son, Gobbler…and the rest of the turkey flock, of course. “He’s watching for her again…I just know it.”
Sid nodded as he turned back to look at his beloved. “I expect you’re right. He’s got the ridiculous faraway look in his eyes he always gets when he is expecting her to show up.”
Sybil hurried down the few steps to stand by her mate. “He’ll come to a bad end if he keeps this up. He needs to start showing some interest in one of his own kind, rather than moping after that…strange hussy. I hear tell that Rodney and Alvira Strut’s young hen, Fancy, is looking for a mate.”
Sid pecked at a few grains of corn by his feet and chewed thoughtfully. “I heard that too dear, but I expect that Gobbler already knows, just as he knew about Sassey, Mandy and Peeps. No, all he can think about is that alien human thing.” He shook his head and continued. “The boy just ain’t right, darlin’…I’m sorry, but he just ain’t, and never has been. You remember, I told you back before he hatched, right after that big blow when we found his egg rolled out of the nest all the way across the floor in that dark dusty corner of the house. I told you then that we should leave him right there and try for another clutch, but you wouldn’t have it.”
Sybil eyed her spouse in irritation. “And you remember what I told you then, too,” she retorted. “I wasn’t about to abandon my very first fertile egg and I’ve no regrets that I didn’t, Sid. He’s been a good boy…until now. Well, he’s not actually bad now, either, just…a bit confused.”
“Have it your way, darlin’,” Sid soothed, “I don’t want you to get your feathers all in a knot. Maybe you’re right and he’s just going through a phase. Though, I kinda think it’s because she doesn’t miss a day coming to see him and giving him all the extra feed he wants, scratching his head and making over him like he’s somethin’ really special.”
“You may have the right of it Sid,” Sybil agreed after a moment, “but what I don’t understand is why. Why has she singled out our boy when there are dozens of others she could have chosen?”
Sid glanced at his mate, uncertain whether he should share the dire warning he had recently been given by Widow Pluckly.
Sybil, however, noticed the odd look in her mates eye and leaned close to him with an inquiring look. “I know that look, Sid,” she said with certainty, “so whatever it is you aren’t telling me you had better just do so right now!”
“You might wish I hadn’t, love,” he replied softly.
“Now!” she insisted.
“All right, I expect you should know this, anyway,” he conceded with a sad shake of his head. “I was out grazing on the south side of the house yesterday when Widow Pluckly strutted right up to me and told me she’d been noticing our boy had taken up with that human siren. Well…what could I say? I mean, I expect just about everyone has noticed by now, darlin’…so I just nodded. Then she went on to say that her Tom had been enchanted by that very woman before he disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again…and that he vanished just about this time of year, too, so we should be keeping an extra keen eye on Gobbler.”
Sybil reared her head back and glared at her mate.. “What? How does Gladys even know that she is a widow then, if no one has ever seen or heard from her Tom again? Perhaps he just…left her for another. There are wild turkeys about in these parts, you know…and I’ve heard lots of tales about some of those hens, let me tell you!”
Sid sighed. “I know, darlin’, we’ve all heard those stories, but this is something quite different.”
“Oh?” Sybil asked. “What do you mean?”
“Darlin’ have you ever heard that at this time of year humans have a big feast they call Thanksgiving?”
“Why no, but it sounds lovely. But what do humans give thanks for?”
“I’m not exactly sure, beloved, but the point is that their feast supposedly is made up of certain traditional foods with the main course usually being a plump, juicy stuffed and roasted…turkey.”
Sybil’s beady eyes bulged in alarm. “That’s why that tramp has been feeding our Gobbler with all that extra corn and grain! We have to save him, Sid…”
Sid nodded in agreement, but when he and Sybil looked over where Gobbler had been standing for the past hour awaiting the farmer’s wife, Krista, they discovered to their utter horror he was nowhere in sight.
*Don’t miss Thanksgiving Surprise, Part 2 on Thursday’s blog!*
On the eve of their exodus from the Eastern Continent in Elf Killers, a party of young Elves is ambushed…
Aedan glanced up the tall trunks as a breeze chased through the treetops and died away amongst the echoes of the bellbirds. “Make sure that each one of the kids has a nice wet ball of sphagnum on the seedlings, if you would, Oísín,” he said as he sank into the ferns to sit on his heels. He watched as each young Elf dutifully opened his vasculum in turn for Oísín’s inspection.
“All that’s left of the sunlight is ‘way up in the treetops,” said Oísín with a nod. “You reckon it’s still safe to try for the blue maidenhair at the summit?”
“I was hoping for all four kinds,” said Aedan, as he ran his hands through his hair. “Looks like I let the time slip away. Listen! Hear that purple-rib, yonder?”
“Well, he thinks it’s a-getting dark…” he said, suddenly looking about for a muffled snap in the leaves.
“Oouyuyf!” bellowed a troll covered with black and red ochre hand prints, as he took a sudden tramp out of the pawpaw leaves to run a spear under Aedan’s collarbone and out his back.
“Run!” cried Oísín as he loosed an arrow into the troll, sending it staggering about to stumble and fall as the wide-eyed young Elves scrambled to their feet and vanished into the woods. Trolls were starting to appear everywhere. As quick as he could manage, he loosed four or five more arrows, striking one of them and scattering the others. He dropped to his knees where Aedan lay on his side in the ferns.
“Go!” grunted Aedan, blowing blood off his lips.
“Here…” said Oísín, starting to scoop him up.
“No!” coughed Aedan. “They’ll get you if you even try. I’m gone. Go! Save the kids! Damn it! Do it!”
Oísín jerked up at a waft of wind by his ear in time to see a huge rock land and roll through the leaves beyond him. He was on his feet at once, wheeling ’round with his drawn bow to find two trolls about to run him through with a spear. He loosed his arrow
at once, killing the one with the spear as the other one fled out of sight. “I can still carry
you, Aedan!” he cried.
“Get out of here! Please!”
Oísín was immediately underway, batting aside branches. “We’ll never forget you!” he hollered as he hurtled out of the brush to take huge bounding strides down the side of a steep hogback.
The troll tramped to a halt beside Aedan and pummeled his chest with his fists. “Ooot-ooot, ooot-ooot, ooot-ooot,” he cried with a look of crazed triumph, slinging spittle from the black and red ochre paint on his face. “Gnydy!”
“Ay-ooo,” sang out Gnydy, planting his spear with a fierce nod of his cap of mud caked hair as he appeared on the far side of Aedan. He jabbed the point of his spear into Aedan’s thigh, drawing blood. “Should-we hair-drag the grabup-squeaker, Dyr?” he said as he licked the blood off his spearpoint.
“You-want to haul-meat both-ways?” said Dyr with a beetle-browed glare, as a purple-rib took up calling nearby. “We’ll-quarter him on the way-back.
Aedan listened to the trolls tramp away through the leaves. “Damn this!” he thought as he squeezed shut his eyes. “I loved my life…” Suddenly he opened his eyes at the sound of light four footed walking in the leaves, making straight for him. “Niall!”
The deer like unicorn slowed to hesitant steps and lowered his head for a careful sniff.
“I may be out of time, but I have this minute,” he said, wincing with pain at his attempt to pat Niall’s muzzle. “If I can get up onto your back, we’re going back to camp to show them what the Marfora Siofra did to me and to have them try to find Oísín and the children. And even if I don’t make it, you’ll get me there.”
Though Niall understood not one word of this, he would soon know what to do, for he was a terraing pictiúr, a picture catcher unicorn. Difficult as it was with all his pain, Aedan managed to clear his mind enough to picture Niall lying down in order for him to mount. At once, Niall lay down before him, patiently waiting for him to get on. Crying
out from the horrible pain, Aedan heaved himself onto his knees, where he steadied
himself long enough to cough blood down his front before throwing his leg across him.
He had a long struggle to keep from passing out before he could manage to picture Niall
rising to his feet. Niall got up at once, but it was an eternity of fighting down the pain
from the jostling before Aedan could manage to picture the camp. At last they were