Addiction & Pestilence Book 1 of the Slaying Dragons: A Journey Through Hell Series By Edmond Kelly

ADDICTION & PESTILENCE, Book 1 of the Slaying Dragons: A Journey Through Hell Series by Edmond Kelly is a well-told, top notch dystopian novel with an original twist.  As the story opens the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have arrived on Earth and the White Horseman turns loose a devastating plague, the likes of which humanity has never seen, that runs rampant killing people by the millions, then by the billions.

The protagonist, Drew Murphy, is an EMT, former marine and a raging alcoholic. He is extremely realistic and easy to relate to, as is the entire supporting cast, even if a good many of them are addicted to one thing or another. After all, truth be told, most of us today are addicted to something, though many of our addictions are not so innocuous (i.e.: coffee, tea, sweets, chocolate, the high from certain physical activities, etc.), as those in this tale.

The plot is chilling, intense, brilliant, and moves along at a rapid pace, but is quite easy to follow and comprehend. I found this book nearly impossible to put down in spite of my current busy schedule. I don’t do spoilers, but I will say that this book ends with a cliff-hanger and I am incredibly anxious for Mr. Kelly to release the next book in this series so I can find out what happens.

I highly recommend Addiction & Pestilence to fans of this genre, or anyone who enjoys an exceptionally good book.

Meri shows Everyone Through the Fairy Ring

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The caravan of Elves trudged through the hot red sand in determined silence, following Ceidwad, Lladdwr and Arwr with Abaddon and Shot ‘n’ Stop as they accompanied Diatryma_by_ministerartMentrus, Meinir and Gwawr. By afternoon, they had begun bearing to the north-west, away from the feet of the Great Barrier Mountains, and at once found themselves in rolling countryside, dotted with scrubby junipers. By late afternoon it had become quite hilly, and soon they came to a vast forest of great tall pines. “They’ve stopped yonder, sire,” said Owain with a nod ahead.

“So I see,” said James, staring under the flat of his hand.Scan10041

“And I do believe that I recognize this Fairy,” said Neron.

“Halloo!” cried the Fairy with a grand wave from where he stood amongst the diatrymas.

“Would you be Meri Greenwood?” said Neron as he dismounted and held out his hand. “Dyn Gwyrdd was your name back when we first met, if I’m right.”

“Not mochel aboven a thousent yere a-go, Neron Ri.” said Meri with a grin as he took his hand and gave it a good shake.

“And just after that, you visited us when we hung the great front door at Oilean Gairdin, and I’ve not seen you since. And this handsome young man here is James, King of Loxmere-Goll.”

“And thou the Queene of Goll ymaried, whom yow al yfled?”

“You can’t imagine how I regret having to admit that, but yes.”

“And thy partye righte soor for water ybe, ey?”

James and Neron both nodded.

“Thanne alowe me for to wolcome hem to the village of Gerddi Teg, the Fayr Gardens of the Grete North Wodes. Weo konnen for to contynue oure introducciones as they hira thurst to slake.”

“Forgive me sire,” said James as he quickly looked about, “but for the life of me, I see no village at all.”

“Thanne by rightes thou the ffirst to seen schuldest bethe,” said Meri as he turned andFairyRing pointed to a great circle of mushrooms, growing in the mat of pine needles behind him.

“I guess I’m lost…” said James, looking utterly confused.

“Thou nedith na buen,” said Meri with a hearty laugh. “Juste stepe wythinne the cercle. Llewyrch, Danneth and Súlacha awayten thee doun the steyres. Thou nedith carefull to bene to stapen over the musserounes. Mentrus? Plese to lede the way for hym.”

At once Mentrus stepped within the ring and jogged airily down through the dirt and pine needles to vanish altogether, followed by Meinir, Gwawr and then Ceidwad, Lladdwr and finally Arwr. Abaddon looked panicky as his ears sank into the needles of the forest floor, but he was still bravely astride Arwr when he vanished. James gave a wide-eyed look about at everyone and then stepped over the mushrooms to plunge his ankle out of sight as he felt for the top step. “Ah! There it is,” he said grandly as he too trotted down out of sight.

Ch. 41, The Burgeoning

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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Who are the Fairies?

 

 

 

Fairies, Homo sapiens viridihirsutensis R., who appear inThe_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle Good Sister, Bad Sister, The Burgeoning, The Reaper WitchDoom and Wham! are a race of humans indigenous to the primeval oak forests of Fairy Valley and to the lands which become the Chokewoods under Razzorbauch’s enchantment. They are characterized by alabaster-white skin, eyes with emerald green irises, pointed ears and brilliant green The Reaper Witch 01 copyhair that has metallic iridescence in sunlight and which develops bright yellow streaks with advancing age, much as the hair of other races turns grey or white. They are, like their Elven cousins, highly intuitive and predisposed to magical abilities. However, their attunement with their surroundings far exceeds that of the Elves and has become a specialized involvement with the green world, particularly with oak trees. Barring accidents, they are immortal.

 

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Teeuh the Winged Fairy Hatches

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Celeste scooped her up and set out for Longbark. Alvita and Nacea were already there with two great baskets of silk. Before long, Nastea the Damned Baby was hanging fromCeleste one of Longbark’s great limbs in a snug cocoon covered over with leaves. And so began the long communion between the oldest and wisest magical tree and the three most powerful mother Fairies alive. After seven days and seven nights they went to their beds.
There was nothing more for to done. The unmaking of Nasteuh had begun.

Ch. 28, The Reaper Witch

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Snow melted, trickling everywhere in the bright February sun. Far above, a raven 2140060120_5b3e9e0159croaked. Jays and chickadees called. Bound to one of Longbark’s great branches, a leafy cocoon larger than any hornet’s nest began having twitches. Soon, it was rocking from side to side as a lime green split suddenly ran down its side. A pair of titmice flit away to a nearby tree, as a young woman pushed out of the cocoon like a wad of wet lettuce.

She climbed onto the outside and held fast throughout the afternoon as her wings unfolded and her thigh length cascades of dark green hair dried and fell free to stir in the hushed air. As the sun westered to the far rim of the crater, her great luna moth wings now felt flat and firm and she opened her emerald eyes and bb62e7a28ba656264ee9d6b85c970b01_edited-1slipped to the ground.

Celeste, Nacea, Alvita and Rodon were sitting at the board having salsify soup when she appeared. Celeste looked up with a gasp at the only winged Fairy she had ever seen and dropped her spoon into her soup. “A!” chorused everyone, “the Dampned Babi!”

The gorgeous Fairy held out her arms. “Mamas,” she said with her smile of wee shark teeth.

Ch. 31, The Reaper Witch

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***

Teeuh is a character from our Heart of the Staff, epic fantasy series, which takes place in medieval times. Since fairies are eternal beings, this is no problem. Wham! is set in the same fictional world the Heart of the Staff series inhabited, albeit in the 21st century. The above excerpt was taken from The Reaper Witch, Book 5, Heart of the Staff series.

In Wham! Teeuh travels the fairy paths with Daniel, the young elf wizard, to take Tess Greenwood back into the past at the request of her grandfather, Meri Greenwood. Teeuh and Daniel both become major supporting characters from this time onward, and aid Tess in her quest to save the future of her world.

 

 

 

 

WHAM! Personality Profile: Mistress Samantha Bodine (Sam)

(Mistress) Samantha Bodin

“Sam”

Age 34

5’8”

124 lbs

Amber Eyes

Blonde Hair

 

Samantha Bodine is the Mistress (or Madam, to put it less delicately) for the girls chosen to service the elite leaders of the World Alliance at the secret undersea capitol of Atlantis. She originally arrived in Atlantis as one of the chosen, but decided to remain and become a Mistress in hopes of helping the girls who were chosen to avoid the pitfalls, and actually survive their 5 year service. Many did not, and Sam wanted to change that. When first meeting a new girl Sam was cool and professional, perhaps even brutal, but she believed each one must completely understand the brutal reality of her new life in Atlantis. Later, as she and her new charges get to know each other she lets them see her softer side and they discover she is their strongest supporter and staunchest ally. And in the case of Nia Greenwood and Jill Macintyre, Sam becomes their dear and trusted friend.

 

Excerpt from WHAM! :

“So, awake at last!” the shapely thirty-something blonde said, as she glided into the room like a model moving down a runway. “I am Mistress Bodine, but you may call me Sam. That is short for Samantha, of course.”

Nia blinked and tried to sit up on the bed she had recently awoken to discover herself lying in, though she had no memory of how she had come to be there. “An accident or sudden illness?” she wondered as she tried to focus on the older woman’s face. She tried once more to sit up, but discovered she was restrained. A stab of fear ran through her as she turned her panicked eyes to gaze around the room. She noted the pair of guards at the door and her heartrate increased enough that the monitor they had her attached to began to beep. She swung her head back to stare at the blonde woman. “What is this place, and why am I here in these restraints?” she asked, her voice trembling with fear and anger.

“Why, you’re in the Capitol, Nia, don’t you remember being chosen for this honor?” Mistress Bodine said as she reached over and reset the monitor so it ran quietly once more.

“The Capitol!” Nia repeated her alarm growing as she struggled uselessly once more against her restraints. “Chosen!” she spat, her lip curling…is that what you people call it when you abduct someone against their will to become a girl toy to the monsters now running the world?”

“I’m glad to see you have some spirit, Nia, but I warn you…never again say anything derogatory about those who run our world government if your life has any value to you. Cooperation and compliance will serve you well here and guarantee that when your short five-year service has ended you will be allowed a most comfortable retirement in the country of your choice. You can even pursue another career at that time, or if you wish, you can marry and have a family.” Mistress Bodine smiled and studied Nia intently making the younger woman feel like a fish in an aquarium. “There is no other vocation in the entire unified world that offers these benefits. Now do you understand why you are called chosen?”

“You people are really incredible!” Nia said. “You almost act as if you truly believe girls have any choice in the matter.”

“Well of course you have a choice,” Mistress Bodine replied with a benign smile. “You can fulfill your service to your government like a good and loyal world citizen, or you can refuse and be executed as a traitor. Her smile widened. “So, now that you understand the terms of your service what do you say I release you from your restraints and I’ll show you around?” Without waiting for an answer, she continued, “ And then after a nice meal somewhere, someone will take you to your quarters and you can get a nice hot bath and some sleep.” she added as she began undo Nia’s restraints.

“Wait,” Nia said. “What makes you think I’ll choose to comply with your terms of service rather than execution?”

Mistress Bodine sighed and sat back to look directly into Nia’s face. “I have been mistress here for twelve years, Nia, and in all that time not a single young lady has chosen execution. Now…I’ll grant you that a fair number of them agreed to service with the idea in their heads to escape at the first opportunity, but they choose service over death initially.”

Nia frowned. “What do you mean…initially?”

Mistress Bodine resumed unfastening Nia’s restraints as she replied, “there is no escape from service in the capitol other than retirement or death, Nia. Remember that. Those who forgot that, paid the price.” She sat back and smiled blandly at Nia once more. “There, you’re free. I advise you to get up slowly. You’ve been unconscious for a while and may suffer a bit of vertigo at first.”

“Unconscious?” Nia said with and eye roll. “You mean drugged, don’t you?”

Bodine shrugged her slender shoulders indifferently. “What does it matter, you’ve been out of it. Now, up you go. Let’s get on with things…I have other things to do today.”

 

Excerpt from WHAM! :

“So why did you come?” said Nia, now that the room was quiet.

“I had every intention of coming ’round to see how you’d managed,” said Sam, “though I’d have waited until tomorrow so you’d have had time to rest and sort out all this that you’ve just been through.”

“So what came up?”

“Well your watcher contacted me, so I came right over to make certain you didn’t do anything foolish.”

“My watcher? In the skinny?”

“Yes…”

“I did think he was kind of an ass,” said Nia. “What exactly did he tell you?”

Sam’s eyebrows went up. “He thought you were contemplating suicide, Nia,” she said. “Was he correct?”

Nia looked away for a moment. “Even if it’s true that we’re retired from this, this service after five years and allowed to live out the rest of our lives as we choose, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “How could it? Everything’s been ruined. It certainly has been for me. After what happened to me last night, I’ll never be the same again. I can’t possibly pick up where I left off with my life and marry and raise a family. I’d be better off dead. And I wish I were!”

“Hush!” said Sam with a stern nod at the door, though her face softened the moment she turned to Nia and the sight of her made her think of a beautiful broken doll. “Nia. I do understand. I went through that very thing myself, years ago.”

WHAM! Character Profile: Jill Macintyre

 

Jill Macintyre

Age 19

5’

94lbs

Brown eyes

Red hair

 

Jill Macintyre is a young woman of Beak descent from what was once the Kingdom of Marr, captured by Children and Family Assistance and sent to Atlantis to be a sex slave for the World Alliance. She is a major supporting character and good friend to Nia Greenwood, one of the main characters, and the eldest sister in the Greenwood family.

Beaks are a diminutive people making up the Kingdom of Marr in medieval times, (Heart of the Staff series) who spoke Goblish-Beakish and had scarcely joined the Iron Age. They decorated themselves extensively with blue tattoos which they preferred to enhance with blue woad stain rather than to cover with clothes. They built wooden stockade style castles atop great mounds and made a life of raiding and plundering their neighbors as well as farming. The Kingdom of Marr made up of an extensive region of fens called Beakmore or the Beakmoor, that were known as the Gobbler Marshes (Marshmallow Marshes) during the Peppermint Forest days, which surround a raised pastoral part of the Kingdom known as Caistealbeak, which includes the village of Caistealbeak which surrounds the Beak Castle, known as Caisteal-Beak. Modern day Beaks still favor tattoos, but most speak Modern Niarg speech and dress in the current fashion.

 

***

Excerpt from Wham!

“I’m starting to worry about Jill,” said Nia as she swallowed her last bite. “Should we have the waitress fetch a skinny?”

“She’s right behind you,” said Sam.

“Sorry I’m late,” said Jill, taking a chair. “What’s good?”

“My hamburger and onion rings were wonderful,” said Nia as she poured herself another tea.

“You’re all right?” said Sam as she wiped her mouth and parked her napkin under her plate so that the breeze wouldn’t take it.

Jill rolled her eyes and nodded.

“Well the only problem with your being late is that I have an appointment in twenty minutes,” said Sam as she rose to leave. “I don’t mean to be rude. Now you’re sure you’re all right? And Nia, I’ll be back at your flat in plenty of time for supper.”

“I’ll be there,” said Nia as Sam picked up her bag and stepped between the benches onto the promenade.

“There was something about that which sounded like she’s staying with you,” said Jill.

“Long story,” said Nia. But yeh. Kind of. She came to see how I’d managed after my first assignment, but there’s more to it.”

“Merciment! I forgot about that. Are you all right? Was he really awful?”

” Here came the waitress to take Jill’s order. Nia turned aside and blinked to keep from having tears. “I’ll live,” she said as the waitress left. “But I’m not yet up to talking about it.”

“No problem,” said Jill as she put ketchup and mustard on her hamburger and took a bite. She gave Nia a thumbs up sign as she chewed. “Wow! This hamburger doesn’t taste one bit like old rotten butcher shop filth.” She nodded at Nia’s bag. “Is that a book?”

“You’re asking? You’ve not seen one before?”

“I knew what it was. That’s just the first one I’ve ever seen. Could I look at it when I’m done eating?”

“Sure. But I thought you were taking a reading class.”

“I am. But the teacher has a sublim board. We haven’t got to actual books yet.”

“And you never saw a book back home, either?”

“Never.”

“So what kept you?”

Jill rolled her eyes as she swallowed. “I had an assignment this morning,” she said. “Vile old hog of a banker. He could’ve been my granddaddy. He had a big round belly. I swear! Had to ‘ave been years since he could see his toes or his wee tassel when he stood. But at least I’ll not have to put up with the likes of him again. No one will.”

“What are you saying?” gasped Nia. “Did something happen to him? You didn’t do anything to him, did you?”

“Not the way it turned out. He spared everyone with his heart failure. I think that when he woke up from his nap tied to the bed and saw me in his kitchen cutlery, he couldn’t manage. Really. A man in his shape shouldn’t ‘ave been forcing his awful diddling and bruises on people.”

WHAM! Character Profile: Nia Greenwood

Nia Greenwood

Age 20

5’7’’

115 lbs

Green hair

Green eyes

Nia Greenwood is a half Fairy, half Human (here, Human is a race and therefore capitalized), daughter of Kellen and Cait Greenwood, sister of Tess. She is engaged to an Elf, Drake Evans, at the time she is taken by the evil Children and Family Services Police and shipped off to become a sex slave at the world Alliance’s underwater capital city of Atlantis. Nia is one of the two main protagonists in Wham!

Excerpt from Wham!

“So,” said the woman, leaning over her for a look. “Awake at last, I see.” She  straightened up at once. “I’m Mistress Bodine, but you may call me Sam. For Samantha of course.”

Nia threw her head from side to side in a panic. She could see guards. A device wired to her began beeping. “What is this place?” she said. “Why am I in restraints?”

“Why you’re at the capitol,” said Sam, switching off Nia’s monitor. “Don’t you remember being chosen for this honor?”

“The capitol!” cried Nia, struggling against the straps which held her. “Chosen! Is that what you call it when you abduct someone to be a toy for the monsters who’ve taken over the world?”

***

 

 

My Review for AHNN by T.E. Mark

Blurb

In the early 21st century, in an effort to increase human productivity, science granted mankind wearable AI headsets.

By 2016, these early versions were cast aside and replaced with more reliable, Nano-sized, implantable devices tuned to human thought.

Infants received their implants at birth. Total human connectivity was achieved in March of 2201.

Governments, militaries and schools were abolished, and the world was handed over to a network of intelligent computers called AHNN.

Now in the 31st century, or 9th, depending on who you talk to, AHNN has pretty much had it with running the world and has decided to give it back.

This is AHNN’s story.

 

My Review of AHNN by T.E. Mark

Imagination or vision? I couldn’t help but ponder this question while reading this multi-layered tale. In this scifi/dystopian novel the entire world has been transformed and is ruled by a vast A.I. (artificial intelligence) known as AHNN. This plot at first glance might appear to be just another tale on a familiar theme, but AHNN deviates from the norm almost instantly.

AHNN is a clever, highly imaginative, and well-written original story with a god deal of humor. The plot flows smoothly and quickly, and the characters are as diverse as they are interesting. For these things alone, AHNN is worth a read. Though personally, I feel it would be a shame to dismiss this book as mere entertainment, and not give it some deep thought. On close inspection the story reveals a world with technology and social issues reminiscent of our own, such as A.I.’s taking over jobs that were previously filled by human workers, racial discrimination, and unrest due to border and immigration disputes, to name but a few. Does this suggest we are on the verge of becoming a dystopian society, or have we already taken the first initial steps to that end?

In AHNN, the all-powerful A.I. resolves all the issues which face the population under its rule. The irony is that once the people become totally reliant on AHNN and the new technology which runs their world, they lose all the things which make them unique, and well, human. Meanwhile, AHNN, the great technological guide and deity in orbit above the earth, appears to gain at least the rudiments (if not more) of humanity itself, when it realizes that all its efforts to improve his people’s lives have not yielded quite the results it envisioned

I believe that the way the book ends is a warning about human complacency, and the fact that down through the ages humankind has never been able to fully resolve its in-group, out-group issues satisfactorily. Instead, we seem to resort to the same old tactics and behaviors we always have used in the past, even though our knowledge and technology continues to increase. It appears that our advanced knowledge and technology only serve to make us more dangerous, and vulnerable, and ultimately the probable facilitators of our own eventual demise. Or could it simply be that the only way humankind will actually grow and thrive is on chaos and conflict?

I highly recommend this brilliant scifi/dystopian tale to all who enjoy this genre, and especially to all who want a book that makes them think.

 

Spitemorta Would Love to Give Coel the Ride She Gave to Cunneda

 

a mysterious lady in vintage style

Spitemorta could hear excited shouts far below her as she surged up into the deep blue sky over the ships Captain Jockford was sailing for General Coel. She squealed with glee as she threw herself into a grand backward loop and came plummeting back down to shoot out over the waves as she raced for the Morsarf, her kirtle fluttering and popping in the wind. “Niarg-Loxmere-Goll!” she cried as she overtook and scattered a flock of black skimmers. “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

The Morsarf and her sister ships reared up in full sail to meet her. A shudder ran through her at the recollection of vomiting over the side of the Flying Maiden. “Coel needs to earn the right to be so stinking comfortable in front of me,” she said between her clenched teeth, as she veered into great sweeping circles of the first ship, straining for a glimpse of General Cunneda. “There he is on the poop deck with Captain Bateman.” She circled the ship once more and landed before him, as if she had just stepped off the dais in her throne room.

Cunneda covered his sudden start with a deep and gracious bow.

“Get on,” she said, the moment he looked up. “We’re off to see General Coel.” She threw her leg over the hovering staff and waited.

“But you’re no pystryor, General,” said Captain Bateman.

“No,” said Cunneda, stepping over the Staff at once to hide his momentary paralysis, “but I’ve been given an order.”

The moment he had grabbed on, Spitemorta lunged into flight, nearly jerking the Staff from his hands. “So, pystryor is your word for what, General? Wizard? Sorcerer?”

“Either one, Your Majesty,” he said, blinded by her flying hair. Suddenly it was good that he could not see, for he knew that they were flying upside down. As a wincing pain shot through his head, they swooped from the heavens, hurtling for the poop deck, where Bateman stood transfixed, watching them come.

Spitemorta aimed the Staff, shooting out a ruby beam from the Heart, setting off Bateman’s head with a deep rolling boom like a cannon at sea, flinging his arms end over end into the water on either side of the ship. “Bateman’s mistake, losing his head like that,” she said as they went back aloft, “wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes yes, Your Majesty.”

“And you’re much too brave to lose yours.”

“Oh?”

“Why yes, General,” she said, slowing down as if they were on some sunny Sunday afternoon ride. “You got on behind me.”

“As I told Bateman, those were my orders.”

“Well going back to him, I’ve never once in my entire life got to watch a proper maritime keelhauling. And I so wanted to give him a good slow one first, don’t you know, but we just don’t have that kind of time this afternoon. So General?”

“Yes, Your Majesty?”

“Next time we’re at sea, would you be so kind as to have one of your more disappointing men demonstrate one for me?”

“Well if… Certainly. By all means, Your Majesty,” he said, dreading at once what he had undoubtedly committed himself to.

And with that, they shot away for the Flying Maiden. General Coel was on deck, watching them arrive.

Spitemorta stepped off the Staff in a triumph of smooth aplomb as Cunneda dashed to the railing to turn red and cough out a great spewing shower of white boiled milk which the wind blew back onto his hose and boots. “Perfect!” she thought, turning to Coel as though she had not noticed, “except that Cunneda is not Coel.”

“Your Majesty,” said Coel, rising from his bow. “Now you see why I stayed on deck.

“I do indeed,” she said with the icy sweetness of a school-marm, “since Cunneda had the fortitude and the sense of duty to get on behind me.”

Coel stood there with a look of bright eyed amusement.

“Damn him!” thought Spitemorta. “So if you’ve no objection, General Coel,” she said serenely, “please see us to your quarter.”

Ch 4, The Reaper Witch, book five of The Heart of the Staff, Now Only 99 cents

 

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Carol Marrs Phipps &Tom Phipps

 

Hubba Hubba Versus the Stinky Beefy Boy Part Three

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Part Three

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 Icherry_pie_case_for_the_ipad_mini-rf252931f447246c89e9010b93c82d7d7_w9wmu_8byvr_324
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 yellow-peasant-costume-skirtsteered 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 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHubba’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.

housesparrow-seedeater-004“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 cape-cod-crowXXhurt, 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.”

images (2)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 tunic-in-the-middle-agesthere’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.

“You stinking cachu face, Poopkink!” shouted Frankin, grabbing his fingers. “That hurt!”

Bartolomé_Esteban_Perez_Murillo_004“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 woodpile2being 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.gty_black_crow_jt_130504_wg

“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?”

Herio nodded.

“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 xococava-broken-platesthe 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 crow (1)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 The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlegood unto them…?”

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps