Mary the White Witch Departs for the Dragon Caves with Myrtlebell and Edward on the Diatrymas

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“This is our moment,” said Mary. “I’m sure Fuzz would say the same thing.”

Myrtlebell’s lips thinned as she pressed them together. She knew Mary was right, but she couldn’t help feeling uneasy. She grabbed up their cloaks and took Edward’s hand, and with a nod to Mary, followed her from the cavern.

Edward laughed in delight, the moment they stepped through the wet vines over the mouth of Mary’s cave.

Myrtlebell’s mouth and eyes dropped agape. “Mary!” she cried, shushing herself in wonder. “Those aren’t unicorns, they’re enormous birds. Are we flying on them?”

“Oh no,” said Mary. “Look at their tiny wings. These birds don’t fly, but they do run, and far faster than you’ve ever ridden before.”

“What kind of bird can’t fly?” said Myrtlebell.

“I assume you mean, ‘What are they called?'”

“Why, yes.”

“These are diatrymas,” she said, as she reached up to stroke the neck of one of them. “Diatrymas are a sort of adar taranus. They are far more than just tame, they’re my personal friends. They’re exceedingly intelligent.”

“Adar taranus. Old Niarg for thunderbirds? I thought not a one of those survived the Greatest Burning.”

“None did.”

“I don’t understand…”

“Have you ever heard of the terrible wizard, Razzorbauch?”

“Wasn’t he the one who brought the dragons here? Fuzz was…”

“Well, we had best make haste, Myrtlebell. I’ll tell you all about it once we’re underway.” Mary turned at once to the birds. “Lladdwr, Ceidwad, kneel, if you would.” The two ten foot tall fowl obligingly folded their thick scaly legs and waited patiently on their breastbones in the leaves to be mounted.

“It would probably be best if I took Edward, while you get used to riding,” said Mary, as she helped Myrtlebell onto the smaller of the two birds. “This is Ceidwad. Just keep your legs ahead of her wings. You can put your arms around her neck, but don’t squeeze her windpipe.”

“Where are her reins?” said Myrtlebell, as her balance gave way and she sat suddenly onto the thickly padded saddle with a plump.

“She needs none,” she said, taking Edward onto her lap as she deftly swung round Lladdwr’s neck to sit on his saddle. “She’s too intelligent to need them. I’ve already
discussed where we’re going with Lladdwr and her.”

Once they were settled, the diatrymas rose together without being told to do so, and in a half dozen fluid strides, had sailed completely down the side of the tall hogback, with Edward waving happily at Myrtlebell as she hung on for dear life. Across the branch and effortlessly up the far side they went, until they reached the long ridge that they followed out of the timber to the thickets along the broad creek which they had crossed the day before, when they were fleeing Spitmorta and Demonica. Without the slightest hesitation, the giant birds ran straightaway into the water, stepping over its surface and plunging to the bottom with each stride, making astonishingly little splashing or disturbance. At once they were across, fluidly zigzagging through the brush. Soon the thickets opened into grassland which lay between them and the great marshlands of the Gobblers. Here the diatrymas sped up astoundingly, running abreast.

“So,” shouted Mary above the wind, “How are you doing?”

“This is indeed very much faster than I ever imagined possible.”

“Whee!” squealed Edward.

“Oh my, sweetheart,” said Mary, giving Edward a hug. “You mustn’t kick Lladdwr in the crop.”

“This is not only fast as the very wind,” called Myrtlebell through the hair she was dragging out of her eyes, “but ‘way more comfortable than galloping unicorns.”

They fell silent to the tireless pounding rustle of huge feathers as they sped out across the sea of grass which stretched before them to the horizon. Without endless obstacles for the diatrymas to leap, dodge and run around, Myrtlebell was able to relax and truly enjoy her fast ride for the first time. On they ran in a straight line without any letup or hesitation, under a cloudless blue sky.

By noon, the horizon was starting to change and Myrtlebell began to feel exhausted and looked across to see Edward’s head nodding in Mary’s lap. “Mary,” she called, “do you supposed it would wise to pause for a bite to eat?”

“I don’t see why not. We’re making good time and Edward’s getting heavy. See that hillock yonder, rising out of the grass? Let’s make for that.”

“Is that the marsh showing up on the horizon?”

“Certainly is.”

Ch. 7, Heart of the StaffStone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle

Carol and Tom Phipps

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Fuzz Loves Rose’s Rows of Buttons

matthew

The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_KindleFuzz and Rose are newly married in The Burgeoning, but instead of a proper honeymoon, they must make an urgent voyage instead. Even so…

The sound of the latch of the door of their berth woke Rose. She opened her eyes to see Fuzz coming quietly to the side of their bed. “It’s a perfect day, Rose,” he said with a smile as he knelt to put his arm around her and give her forehead a kiss. “Absolutely perfect. We may have had a storm last night, but it’s not at all cold as one would expect it to be. It’s plain balmy out, just like spring.”

“It probably means that there’s more storm on its way,” she said, sitting up with a yawn.

“Oh I expect so, particularly since the wind is in the very same direction that it was in yesterday evening…”

“Did I just hear birds outside?” she said, suddenly alert.8-11-IMG_1422

“Terns. We’ve been helping the cook fling slop to ’em. They showed up right after the sun. I saw gulls, too. We’re coming to land. The captain and Yann-Ber say that these winds will have us at Dark’s Cove by noon or even before. So come up on deck with me and enjoy this last lovely bit of air and sunshine over the water before we land.”

“I think you just want my company.”

“Oh I crave it.”

“Well then, just give me a moment or two and I’ll be right up.”

“Splendid,” he said as he sat on the edge of the bed. “I’ll just wait for you right here though, if you don’t mind. Yann-Ber’s up there pacing and champing at the bit and worrying to the point that it’s calmer here.”

doublet_buttons“Even with my buttons?”

“Oh, I look forward to your buttons.”

“Then I’ll have a row for you, directly,” she said, throwing aside her covers and putting her feet onto the floor. She felt the swell and fall of the sea through the boards as she always did the first time she stood up. She went to her great trunk, set on end and 156148312051794935_9bDzYXu3_bopened out like a folding wardrobe and fished amongst her dresses. “My,” she thought, “The same ones day in and day out.” She glanced aside at Fuzz, staring at the backs of his hands and grabbed out one at random. “I just can’t keep my mind on anything since

Lukus’s message globe came with news of Father…”

Fuzz was on his feet at once, putting his arms around her. They each gave a sigh. It had all been said. She turned aside and stepped into her dress. She could read his concern as she did so, even from the corner of her eye. She offered him her row of buttons. He was getting quick. When he fastened her top button, he gave her a quick hug and released her to brush her hair.

“Sorry I took so long,” she said, looking up with a cheerful smile to cover up her somber sigh. “Shall we go?”

He nodded, following her out and up the cramped stair.

“Oh, it is nice out,” she said, taking his hand and squeezing it, as she closed her eyes and turnedBlack-Terns-1-Tropical-Atlantic-Ocean-27-Sep-2012 her face into the wind and sun. “You always know just what I need.”

“And you my dear, give me far more credit than I deserve. Nevertheless, I shall shamelessly romp and wallow in your praise if you must.” 

Ch 5 The Burgeoning

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Daniel and Ariel’s Dirty Little Tummies

 

two-kids

Lukus strapped the last of their gear onto Shimmer’s panniers and turned to Soraya as hand-holding-crystal-ball_1676626849she finished burying the coals with sand. “You reckon it would be too much trouble to send a message globe to Mother and Grandfather to let them know that we’re safe?” he said over the giggles of Daniel and Ariel as they each grabbed one of his ankles. “It’s been a very long time since we fled Oilean Gairdin.”

001aa018f83f142336ef19Soraya stood up and brushed the dirt from her skirts. “I’m sure they could do with one less worry,” she said, looking about. “Since it’ll be a while before we’re ready to leave here, why don’t we go find Great-Grandfather right now? I’d bet he has time.

Lukus scooped up a squirming and giggling Daniel and Ariel in each arm, blew a raspberry on each dirty little tummy and fell into stride behind the fat_pigeon_by_captain_marmote-d59o7duprettiest young lady in the whole wide world, off to find Neron. By the time Lukus was swinging his leg over Starfire’s saddle whistling Pigeon on the Gate, the message globe was hurtling over the Great Barrier Mountains like a shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ch 40, The Burgeoning

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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Is Abaddon Putting her in Peril?

 

HenryCavill

Daniel and Ariel were brought up to have the most circumspect virtue and modesty. Even if they were to become the most powerful in the world amongst the magically endowed, they were never allowed to show it. It is not at all surprising then, that they kept many games and amusements to themselves. They routinely played a kind of invisible tag asshutterstock_89916550 they traveled by spell back and forth across the broad basin of obsidian sands between Spring ‘n’ Drain and Razzmorten’s great sink-hole “tower” at the Vaults of Niarg. Today, they arrived outside the Vaults playing a rough game of “spell jousting,” with Ariel getting there in time to knock Daniel a good fifty rods wide of where he meant to appear.

“Damn!” he cried, tumbling out of the air onto his hands and knees in the sand. “How’d you get here first?” He was on his feet at once, swatting his hat against his leg as he hurried over to where she stood. Suddenly he stopped short to watch a streak of lightning branch out across the heavens before a black shelf of lowering clouds. “What did you do to the sky?”

“Nothing!”

“Fiddlesticks!” he cried. “Here it comes!” And with that, they raced uphill for a gaping lava tube in time to be overtaken and thoroughly soaked by the arrival of a pelting wall of rain before they managed to get inside.

“How long’s it been?” she said, catching her breath as she squeezed water from her hair.

“Since the last rain?” he said, studying the deluge which was already tumbling in torrents down the folds in the hillside. “I was just thinking. I’d allow it’s been every bit of the seven years they say it’s supposed to be between rains, even if you did cause it…”

“I did not! And you know it. But I could sure feel the spirit of it in the air, right when we were spell jousting. I wondered why on earth it was so bloomin’ hard to heave you off to one side.”

“Maybe you thought so, but you sure sent me a-sprawling. You command a right smart amount of power these days, sister dear,” he said, pausing to squint at her face. “All right. What’s the matter?”

Ariel shook her head.

“Oh yes there is. I know my dear sister. What is it? Abaddon’s poisoning your well again? What’s he saying this time? The Prophecy’s just an old wives’ tale, or what?”

“He is not!” she said, biting her thumbnail as she looked out into the rain.

Daniel folded his arms and rolled his eyes.a9d58e6a220145c3376074ebc15e9f02

“Very well. He found out that the Prophecy actually came from the Fire Sprites of the Eastern Continent and not the Elves at all, so he’s begun using that.”

“He’s crazy.”

1e97d87cfb68e52a666665bdc0f45198“Yea…” she said as a crash of thunder made both of them jump. “About me, he is. The thought of losing me is starting to tear him up.”

“Damn him!”

“He doesn’t want anything to happen to you either, while you’re being all hard on him…”

“Hard on him?” he said, flinging a rock out into the storm. “Shit fire! I don’t care if you do have a heart bond. You keep listening to his drivel and you’ll lose what it takes at the last minute and get both of us killed.”

“I will not! No way! Not with everything Grandfather’s taught us over the years…”

Bede on his deathbed completing his translation of St. John’s Gospel, by James Doyle Penrose (1902)

“Now that’s giving me credit…” said Razzmorten from right behind them.

“Grandfather!” she gasped. “How long have you been there?”

“You mean how much did I hear?” he said, lunging out with a proper brown spit for the storm. “I heard enough to know that your taking this particular time to worry about your heart bond may be putting you in peril. I mean, if you’re daring to think of anything but the task ahead, then I may well have been remiss in my teaching…”

 

“Peril! What earthly peril could there be when neither witch has so much as flown across the desert within our lifetimes?”

Razzmorten stepped into her gaze and gently patted her cheek. “Then I have indeed been remiss,” he said, “And Neron will return any day now.”

 

Ch. 13, Doom

Doom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

 

 

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

 

“Grandfather?” said Rose.

“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.”

“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?”

“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

 

Abaddon Needs Pie

apples

 

 He found Abaddon playing quietly with the yarn dolls which he insisted were “soldiers.”

“So. You’ll be leaving now,” said Abaddon without looking up.

“I have no choice as you well know, Abbey,” he said, squatting beside him.

“Sure,” he said with a shrug and gravel in his throat, still refusing to look up. “He’s your friend. He’s your best friend, and he counts ‘way more ‘n I do!”

Lance went wide eyed at the resentment he heard in Abaddon’s voice. “These days, you’ve gotten to be my friend too, Abbey,” he said, putting his hand on the boy’s shoulder, “but you know as well as I do what’s going to happen to him if I don’t get him out…”

“Well go then!” he said, flinging away Lance’s hand. “But you’re too late!”

“How? Wait a minute! You say I’m too late?”

“If you’re so ready to leave, just go, but someone else rescued your friend James.”

“What?”

“I said somebody got him out…”

“Who?”

“I don’t know. Some stupid knaves. Boy, is my momma ever goin’ ‘o kill them bad if she catches them. They’d better never get caught.”

“How do I know you’re not making up all this so I’ll not leave?”

“You think I’d lie about something like this?” cried Abaddon with wounded fury.

“Yea. I’m sorry to say so, but from what I’ve seen, if it got you what you wanted, you sure might.”

Abaddon yanked his scrying crystal from his neck, flung it at Lance and dashed out of sight into the lava tube.

Lance glanced at the talisman in his hands. “He was scrying the very moment I walked in!” he gasped, riveting his gaze back upon it. “Fates! Is that James? It is! He looks like a bearded ghost. And I don’t know a one of those knaves, but each one of ’em looks familiar.” He gave the pendant a thoughtful heft before clenching it tight in his fist as he sprang to his feet to find Abaddon. “I sure hope my putting it straight to him hasn’t undone everything.”  

Ch. 21,

Lance found Abaddon lying belly down on his bed. “What do you want, stupid?” said Abaddon, looking up suddenly from his scrying crystal. “Didn’t your dumb Fairies ever teach you to knock to announce yourself to your betters when you enter their private quarters?” 

“I learnt it as a courtesy for anyone, and I learnt that it wasn’t the only courtesy one could use either…”

“Yea?”

“Yea. Like this pie. I could say, ‘Hey Abby, here’s the best pie in the world. Want some?'” He gave a beckoning nod.

“That’s vulgar clumsiness in place of proper respect for royals, but I’ve come to expect as much…”

“Well, better dig in while I’m being rude, so it won’t get cold.”

Abaddon scowled as he took the saucer, but his first delicate whiff of the pie arrested every urge he had in mind until he had wolfed down every bit of it. Lance sat on the bed and waited, looking at the backs of his hands.

“That was pretty good,” said Abaddon, handing back the saucer. “Thanks.”

“Why, you’re welcome,” he said, stumbling to recover from being completely thrown off by Abaddon’s polite remark. “So, you were scrying when I came in. Did you see anything interesting?”

“Nay, not much. Just James and his idiot knaves on some old road out in the grass.”

“Gollmoor? It’d have to be Gollmoor, but they could be anywhere out on it. Did you watch long enough to see anything else?”

“I didn’t get a chance to because of your clumsy entry.”

“Did you see a river…?”

“I just said I didn’t, stupid.”

Lance studied him for a moment. “Abbey, would you do me a huge favor and scry your dad again, long enough for me to tell where he is?”

“Why? So you can run off and leave me here with your crazy Fairies and Ratman and be where he is?” he said with gravel in his throat. “That’s really stupid, you know. Sooner or later Momma’s going find him and his knaves and they’re all going to die, screaming and kicking. No way she won’t do it, either. And if you’re with them, she’ll really kill you, ’cause you’re his friend and my kidnapper. She’ll figure out ways to kill you for an extra, extra long time.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt that for one moment, Abbey. That’s why I need your help, and that’s why your father needs it, too.”

“You and James need me?” he said, suddenly free of his sullen demeanor.

“Way more than you might imagine. Only you can save us from being killed by your mother and Demonica.”

Abaddon went altogether wide eyed. “Lance my magic is still little,” he said. “It’s not nearly big enough to stop my momma or Nana Demonica. They’d kill me, too!”

“Oh no Abbey. I’d never put you in that kind of danger. All I need is for you to scry your father again so I can figure out just where he is. I think I know of a way to protect him, if I can get to him quickly enough.”

Abaddon took on a sullen look at once.

“Look Abbey, you really wouldn’t think much of me if I let a good friend of mine die when I might’ve been able to save him, would you?”

Abaddon picked at a piece of lint on his bedspread, his mouth set tightly.

“So could you?” said Lance, carefully.

“Maybe,” he said, looking up from his piece of lint. “But you can’t leave me here with the old Fairies. You’re going to need me along with my crystal. You don’t think James and his knaves are going to just stay in one spot and wait for you to get there, do you?”

Lance drew a breath to speak but let it out. “Hmm…”

Abaddon’s eyes lit up. “Then you’ll do it?” he said with an excited bounce on the bed. “You’ll take me with you?”

Lance nodded slowly, stunned at himself for agreeing to Abaddon’s ruse. “Well then,” he said softly, “let’s look at your crystal.”

Abaddon already had it out, staring at the shapes of James and his companions appearing amongst its swirling colors.

Ch. 26, The Burgeoning

 

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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

 

Tom Phipps