Next Time the Howlies Come for a Sheep, They’ll Bring a Skillet

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The howlies certainly loved their breakfast of roasted fish. After they followed Herio and Philpott back to the cave, they sat crowded around the entrance, staring inside as if the pair of them were about to hatch. The prospects of escaping looked more dismal than ever. And it was most difficult to fall asleep that night in the heavy closeness of the musky reek with all of those eyes watching them.

gigatopithecus_closeupMILK

 

They were awakened not long before daylight by being hauled to their feet and marched to the river, where they found several of the giants already up to their waists in the water, grabbing at catfish. Blue Eye even found their water bags and followed. This time breakfast lasted into the early afternoon, since the fish were harder to catch and five more howlies had appeared.

The next morning, Herio was awakened by a busy commotion outside to find the giants on their haunches, patiently peering in at him with wriggling fish in their fists. “Philpott,” he said. “Do you see what’s out here?”

 

Philpott rolled off his dusty pallet onto his knees. “Say,” he said, giving his greasy head a good scratch, “we’ve got that little box of lard which we were starting to get hungry enough to nibble at. I’ve got it and my skillet.” He began finding stones to set it on over the flames of a fire as Blue Eye waddled over with a fish in each hand to look him up and down with the silvery rings of his eyes. As he set to the task of making the fire, Herio began cutting up the fish. When the first piece went into the sizzling fat, a chorus of gasps broke out and the howlies crowded in to see. This breakfast lasted until evening, with the giants traipsing back and forth to the river all day.

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“Damn!” said Herio as he lay down on his pallet after dark. “What are we going to do tomorrow? Aren’t we running out of lard?”

“Yeap,” said Philpott.

Herio might have heard, but he was already snoring.

Herio jerked wide awake in the first broad light of day to the hearty medley of calls from athrasher4 sunset thrasher in the gnarled twist of scrub oak, growing out of the rocks at the mouth of the cave. He was on his knees at once. “That mockingbird wouldn’t be there with a crowd of howlies,” he said, getting to his feet. “Philpott! I don’t see a single giant out here.”

“Hey!” cried Philpott as he stepped outside. “Where the ding-dong blazes is my skillet? And my lard box. Those stinkers are thieves!”

“No time,” said Herio.

“No there’s not,” said Philpott. And with that, they grabbed up their things and were out in the chilly mountain air at once, jogging as they buttoned and tied their clothes.

It was a long way down the length of the mountain ridge without the unicorns. Even so, they found themselves covering ground nearly as quickly as they had managed while mounted, following the howlie tracks uphill. By sunset, they reached the upper end of the great meadow above the dry wash where they had found signs in the sand made by the giants, the morning they set out. A mountain burrowing owl rasped and cackled from the rocks of the divide as they made their way out into the thin dry grass under the vault of deepening blue sky.

“Well we certainly had our adventure,” said Philpott, walking backward for a step or two. “And we ended up with one of the wildest tales we’ll ever have to tell, but we might not even have found out where they live, let alone doing anything to discourage them. We didn’t change a thing. They’ll just keep getting into our sheep.”

“Oh yes we did,” said Herio.

“My word, what?”

“And it’s mainly what you did.”

“I’d like to know what that was.”

“Next time they come for a sheep, they’ll bring a skillet.”  

“I can see that I’ve talked to you longer than any sane fellow would’ve.”

“That’s it!” said Hero, stopping short and setting down his panniers. “We can butcher hit for them…” He squatted to stretch his back.

“I knew it was too late when you commenced to howling like one of them.”

“No, wait,” said Herio. “Look ‘ee here. Weren’t we starting to talk and trade? Really. I mean, we told them we were thirsty and they took us to water. We said we were hungry and they gave us fish. Then we cooked the fish and they let us go. Right?”

“Yea. For my bloomin’ skillet.”

 

“Let’s say that we want to graze this pasture for a week,” he said, standing up with his bags and starting to walk again. “We pay them a sheep first.”

“What?”

“We take a wether up there…”

“You mean right back up to that stinking hole in the rocks?”

“Yea. We take a sheep up there and butcher and cook hit for them, and tell them hit’s for a week’s worth of pasture. They’d love it.”

“I’ll bet,” said Philpott with a wide-eyed nod. “And how in the ever loving blue eyed world are you going to get the notion of a week’s worth of future grazing across to those wooly bellied wizards?”

“I haven’t figured out that one yet. But you’d have to take them the sheep first, at least.”

“Well you kept wanting to draw pictures…”

“That’s it!” cried Herio, whirling about, mid stride. “What if we figured out what sort of picture, and put it on a parchment and took it with us?”

“We?” said Philpott. “Well, I reckon I can help butcher a sheep. But you’d better have one damned good picture with you, is all I can say.”

Ch. 10, Doom, The Heart of the Staff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

 

 

 

Wizard Razzmorten Fears for Minuet’s Life

fantasy-minuet

Hubba Hubba slowly ran his beak along the length of the back of a chair in the empty parlour and turned square about to run it all the way back. “All right, all right,” he said, Buddy_3985_Warningpausing to give his feathers a shake before strutting on. “I said I would, I said I would. I did, I did. But now that it comes to it, I don’t know what I think about being a crow again. And what if something goes wrong? What if Razzmorten is so weak that he can’t handle the spell and turns me into a roach or a maggot? What if his spell gives out just as I fly in to spy on Spitemorta and Demonica? They’ll kill me, is what. Pull out my feathers and wring my neck.”

Without warning a long blade sliced the air near his head. “Help!” he quacked as he tumbled into a gasping heap of feathers on the floor. “Hey Queen! What is this, a test of my mortality or what? As you can see, I can handle apoplexy but my head would come
right off with that thing.”

queen-with-sword“Hubba Hubba!” she cried, stopping amidst her next swing. “I didn’t see you!”

Hubba Hubba quacked again and backed under the chair.

“I’m so sorry! I just had Hebraun’s claymore and…!”

“Minuet, what is all of this?” said Razzmorten, appearing as much without warning as she had.

“Why must these big missions always threaten to take off my head?” said Hubba Hubba, bristling and panting from the shadows.

“I’ll learn this now, Father,” said Minuet. “When Niarg goes to battle, they’ll still have the crown to lead them forth.”

“No!” said Razzmorten with a look of shock “Niarg needs you here. It can’t afford to lose both Hebraun and you. If Spitemorta…”

“Ha!” barked Minuet bitterly, echoing in the arches of the ceiling. “Spitemorta! Yes! Let her come! When she does, I will cut out her black heart and feed it to the hogs. She took the light of my life and she’ll meet her doom if she dares come at me.”

“I will not cooperate with sweet and sour parrot. Traumatized, yes. Compliant? No. I refuse, I refuse. Queen, you and your awful sister…”

“What?” said Minuet as she stopped short to peer under the chair.

“I’ll have you know that I’m not being dilatory,” said Hubba Hubba with his tail fanned wide as he marched out from under the chair, running his beak along the floor as he came. “I’m right ready to set out on this mission without hesitation. I will not be threatened further…”

“Minuet please,” said Razzmorten. “Hebraun would never have you do such a thing. ForFotolia_74796694_Subscription_Monthly_M CROPHEAD the love of the Fates, daughter, it’s the very thing that got him killed.”

“Yes, I know,” she said, turning to face him, “and she did it. And that’s exactly why I have to do this. You love me and don’t want to lose me, so you want to stop me. Please know that I would never cause you grief. I own that I’m being vengeful, but you can rest assured that I’m not being rash. I’m set! You could ease my burden enormously by supporting my decision. If you can’t, I’ll not be resentful, but I’ll not stray from my path.”

“I’m going, I’m going!” said Hubba Hubba, pushing his beak around in circles on the floor. “You don’t have to threaten me…”

“Hubba Hubba,” said Minuet, “What makes you think I’m threatening you?”

“Right. Ugleeuh wasn’t threatening me either. She was merely distraught. And you’re just what, vengeful did you say?”

“Hubba Hubba! Here I’ve gone and had a grand packet of food made up for you…”

“What? With all my favorite treats?”

“Well yes…”

“See? Runs in the family. Put away your blade. I’m ready! I’m ready!”

green-cheek-amazon-tracy-starr“And what are you doing down there?” said Pebbles as she and the chicks alighted on the back of the chair.

“Here’s Herio,” said Minuet as she scooped up Hubba Hubba and gave him a scratch before letting him step off onto the chair. “Looks like he’s ready.”

“Well, so am I,” said Hubba Hubba with a confused look as Pebbles rattled her beak through his cheek feathers.

“Ready enough for me to change you into a crow?” said Razzmorten.

“Just give me a flash Wiz, and I’ll be right as rain.”

“You’ve prepared your family?”

“Yea. Go ahead…uh, I mean if there’s no problem with maggots…”

“What?”

“Well, with lesser stuff like roaches. Hey Wiz, how’s the strength o’ your magic these carrion_tcm9-137380days, anyway?”

“Does this help?” said Razzmorten as he held up a hand mirror.

 

 

 

Ch. 9, The Burgeoning (Click on Title or Book Cover Image to Download from Amazon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

It’s Either Kill Trolls or Pack for Home

 

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The breeze rattled the cottonwood leaves overhead as it chased through the tall big bluestem grass beyond the butt and died away. Rose drew her bowstring to her cheek,
hesitated and planted her eighth arrow in the target. A warbling vireo went back to its
meandering medley from the crown of the cottonwood. Rose nocked her next arrow and
found the target with her eyes.

“My word!” said Fuzz as he walked up behind her. “That’s a whole bouquet of arrows in the bull’s eye. That looks like forty yard.”

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Rose nodded and lowered her bow. “Father always had us practice,” she said.

“I remember seeing that light longbow of yours back home, but we were in such a rush that I never once saw you use it,” he said with a nod at the target. “You’re just plain good, particularly with this breeze. Have you missed any at all?”

“I’ve not yet been to the target.”

Fuzz whistled. “Well what do you think of Olloo’s spare bow? I’m all done feeding the birds, by the way.”

Rose raised her bow and quickly put another arrow in the bull’s eye. “I like it,” she said, letting the breeze blow a strand of hair out of her face as she turned to look at him. “But it’s not at all like the one Soraya had. This thing’s longer and shoots almost like a proper 9204cacfb3a66323628d914d5330f62clongbow.”

“Well that makes sense, out here in the open in the Strah,” he said, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. “I knew Inney had got it for you, but I never asked you why. Are you wanting to be ready for Spitemorta or Demonica sometime after we get home?”

“I was thinking trolls.”

“The raid…”

“Damned right!” she said with a fiery look. “Those were the sweetest three little kids I think I ever saw. That little towhead Aalin trotted up with her ringlets just a-bouncing and gave me a fistful of asters the very afternoon before the trolls came. I still see her face.” she thrust out her chin and picked up another arrow. “You know, that makes four men, three young ladies, one of them about to be wed, and six little scoots like Aalin since we got here. They’re going to get wiped out at this rate.”

“Probably not. They’ve been out here doing this for the last thousand years.”

Rose turned to face the target to find an old ewe and her pair of lambs in the way. “Yea?” Ewe and lambsshe said. “Well what about our wee baban on the way, aye? One of those trolls gets too close to our little girl to be, and I’ll want to puncture the curse.”

“So that’s what this is about,” said Fuzz. “Have you forgotten that trolls don’t eat humans?”

“You think they’ll look at her ears after they grab her up? And can you imagine any trolls raiding Balley Cheerey who’d check each little girl for pointed ears before stealing her away? They’d just grab her up, right? And if they saw their mistake, do you reckon they’d dutifully fetch her back here? They’d either eat her for dessert or kick her out in the woods with the wolves.”

“Well, you’re right,” he said, squatting beside her and pulling a timothy head. “So what do you want to do?”

“Fight back!” she said, dropping to her knees beside him. “Or at least be able to. You Warbling Vireo, singing_6444know, I don’t really understand why the Elves haven’t wiped them out by now, Fuzz. Inney told me once about when they almost did. They tracked the monsters to their
stinking caves and killed nearly every one of the curses where they slept before the
handful which survived got away. And when they can do nearly everything just a little
better than we can, why didn’t they ever hunt down those survivors and end the menace?
When I think of little Aalin, it makes me want to cry.”

“Tramman was telling me about that, once,” he said as he watched the ewe graze bite by bite to the foot of the target. “He said that they did indeed hunt down the trolls that got away and they were right certain they’d got all of them, too. So when the next troll raid occurred years and years later, they were completely unprepared and lost eleven children all in one night. Can you imagine?”

“Oh Fuzz, what are we going to do? It’s a true paradise here without the troll raids. I’ve never in my life been around such wonderful, wonderful people. Inney’s the sweetest kid I’ve ever known. And I really did want to have the baby right here. But the trolls scare me. And I find myself missing Niarg more, day by day. I keep thinking we should be there for the birth. It’s where we really belong.”

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Fuzz scooted closer, picked up her hand and closed his eyes as he kissed her wrist. “Then maybe we should go home, dear,” he said. “The Elves have told Karl-Veur and me that we might well hire a fishing boat from Gwael to take us across the sea.” He paused to look at her. “And there’s nothing to stop us from doing it right now if we were to buy our
passage with some of the jewelry that washed up on the beach in your trunk. Now believe
me, I’d never just up and tell you to do such a thing…”

“I’ll give every blooming jewel I thought was long lost if it takes it,” she said. “Well, not the emerald necklace from Mother nor your earrings that match. Well. You know, I’d almost give those to go home.”

“Then it sounds as though you might be serious. Well if you think it over and…”

“That would just waste time. I’m ready to go pack.”

“Then I’ll go talk to Tramman right now.”

“Fuzz,” she said, putting her hand on his arm before he got to his feet. “I will stay if you want.”

“You really would, wouldn’t you?”

“Of course I would.”

“That’s why I’m crazy about you, Rose,” said Fuzz. “But I miss Edward. I mean, what must he think after all this time?”

Suddenly two half grown strike falcons appeared out of the grass and came dashing up to them across the butts with a rabbit apiece, startling the sheep.

“Carrey and Sidoor!” she said, shooting to her feet to hug Carrey’s fluffy neck. “How’d Phororhacosthey get out?”

“Sidoor kept putting images of fat rabbits in my head, so I thought about you out here and turned them out.”

“So what about our birds, Fuzz? We can’t leave them behind.”

“Of course not,” he said as he watched the birds drop their rabbits and rip them into pieces small enough to swallow. “They go with us, and that’s all there is to it. Now, I think we should find Karl-Veur and see if he wants to go with us or stay here.”

“Or go back to the Dark Continent. After all, you know he misses Yuna and young Yann-Ber. I think we should let him know that it’s all right with us if he changes his mind about trying to get into Demonica’s good graces.”

“Oh sure. But I’ve got a feeling he’s set on doing what he came with us to do, in spite of the price he has to pay.”

“Let’s go,” said Rose as she unstrung her bow and picked up her quiver.

“Then we talk to Tramman and Obbree about hiring a fishing boat,” he said, taking her by the hand.

“I’m for that,” she said, squeezing his arm.

Ch. 20,The Reaper Witch

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Ocker Teaches Blodwen

 

The moment Blodwen leant aside for more apples for her pan of water, Ocker and Urr-Urr rushed at her other pan and snapped up several apple slices apiece.”Hey fowl!” she cried, hoplessly too late as they buoyed themselves above the reach of her swat with a couple of flaps and settled at the far end of the board.

bn_raven“Yea?” said Ocker as he gobbled down his slices. “Ravens is the kind we happen to be, if ye want to sound like you know things, dear. And by the way, nice apples.”

“Thieving vermin is what,” she growled. “Ye’re damned well told, nice apples! I sliced ’em.”

“Good for you, sweetheart,” he said as he lunged into the air to hover over her shoulder. “You owe us.”

“Just how in all the chiming bells of Golltowre is that?” she said, turning square
about on her seat in time for Urr-Urr to grab out more slices from her pan and lungeimages
into the air.

“Damn you varmints!” she cried, wheeling back to her pan.

“Listen quiente,” he said, hovering at her ear, “you owe us because Meri Greenwood would never have got here without us. And if you had any sense you’d see hit. And while you’re a-wising up, shouldn’t someone be looking after Meri?”

“What?” she said.

“What’s going to keep him from going all crazy and beating up the old hag,anyway?” he said, settling onto the table by Urr-Urr to take one of her slices. “If she’s as
confounded ugly as these two, he might.”

Closeup_North_Amer_Crow_t700“Look ‘ee here!” cried Hubba Hubba. “These old ladies are nice!”

“Yea?” rattled Ocker. “What do you know about it, fraud? You ain’t even a bird.”

“I’ll have you know I’m a double yellow-head Amazon…”

“Popinjays never made it all the way to birddom, hole!”

“And nobody owes you the time o’ day…”

“Well Hubba Hubba,” said Minuet, “I do owe him my life…”

“He’s that very Ocker?”

Minuet and Razzmorten both nodded with twinkling eyes.

“Well maybe if he just watched his mouth…”

“Hey, I’m just distracted, Yellow Crow,” said Ocker with wide-eyed smacks of his beak, gobbling down another slice of apple. “I mean, we brought Meri all the way here,and now his whole world just caved in on him, don’t ye know…”

il_570xN.408687206_rfku“Whosoes woreld hath juste kaaved in?” said Meri as everyone in the room stopped short at the sight of the radiantly gorgeous Celeste on his arm.

“You fixed her,” awked Ocker. “You going to pretty up the other Fairies, too?”

“Ich didde nat,” he said as he and Celeste knelt before a speechless Minuet. “My gracious Queene. Wolt thou us to marye this verray howre? In dede, wolt thou plesebeauty-blue-hair-emo-green-hair-Favim.com-1014236
marye us byforn weo risen fro oure knees?”

“Why, there’s nothing I’d enjoy more!”

“Thanne byforn weo to risen, plese do,” said Meri.

“But you need a bouquet,” said Nacea.

“And shulden nat weo for this to reherse?” said Alvita.long-blue-green-hair

“Swyven off, you two!” said Ocker. “They want to nest.”

“Plese,” said Celeste. “Byforn my lokes dekay. Everych oon plese stant with us. Ocker, perchestow on Meri, if thou woldest. Every brid on a shulder. Ceidwad and Lladdwr, my derre children, plese yeve me awey.”

The room hushed at once to hear the joyous vows.

Ch. 15, The Reaper Witch

***

They heard wings in time for Ocker to land on the board in front of Blodwen. “Hello, Apple-Slice,” he said, running his beak down a flight feather.

162767579_a-basket-of-apples-giclee-print-by-august-laux“No!” snapped Blodwen, covering her pan with her arms. “Beat it!”

“Hey Apple-Slice,” he croaked, walking right up to her pan with a cock of his head. “Better look out for Urr-Urr.”

At the sound of wings behind her, she threw her chin to her shoulder to see.Quarter-the-Apples

Ocker grabbed up a huge beakful of slices and flew to the mantle.

“Look out Blodwen!” cawed Hubba Hubba, right before Urr-Urr grabbed a slice from the other side of the pan.

“Shut up Two-Head,” said Ocker, setting his mouthful at his feet.

“You’re in on it too, Hubba-Hubba?” said Blodwen as she watched Urr-Urr fly away with her prize.

“No!” cawed Hubba-Hubba. “I was only trying…”

“Thanks Two-Head,” said Ocker. “Urr-Urr would never ‘ave got hers without yourhelp.”

“Hey! I was not trying to help Urr-Urr.”

“Don’t you birds ever learn?” said Blodwen as she covered her pan with a bread board.

“You’re the one who won’t learn, quiente,” said Ocker. “We had you figured out the moment we saw you. That’s why we’re still having to give you lessons.”

Ch. 17, The Reaper Witch

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Who is Minuet?

Minuet is born to the good wizard Razzmorten and his first wife Blodeuwedd who dies giving birth to her. Blodeuwedd, who was the most beautiful woman Razzmorten had ever seen in all his 329 years before he married her, was known to all as the maiden of flowers.

Millais_John_Everett_A_Souvenir_of_VelasquezRazzmorten is most taken with his new wee Minuet and quickly sees that she could well exceed his own powers someday. He hires a magically endowed woman called Demonica to be her nanny. Demonica is also beautiful and is an engaging companion, so he marries her. Soon she is pregnant. When she bears the child Ugleeuh, she vanishes with the crystal Heart of the Staff from Niarg’s royal treasury, leaving him to care for Minuet and Ugleeuh.

Minuet spends her childhood being a nurturing and precociously responsible older sister. For years she is Ugleuh’s staunch defender and champion, but after a time Ugleeuh’s play becomes a string of increasingly reprehensible pranks, forcing Minuet to endlessly undo her mischief. In Good Sister, Bad Sister, Ugleeuh plots to have Hebraun, the prince of Niarg for herself.

The plague comes to Niarg and Razzmorten finds the cure. When Minuet goes to tend plague victims at Fates’ Hospital for the Sick, she is nearly beaten to death by a superstitious crowd. Whilst recuperating, she finds out that Hebraun wants to marry her. Ugleeuh vanishes from sight.

Minuet does indeed marry Hebraun in time for him to become king of Niarg. When their firstborn Rose is three, Ugleeuh appears and tries to murder Minuet and Hebraun.

In The Collector Witch, Rose hears a damning rumor at her sixteenth birthday party that has her running away to far off lands with her younger brother Lukus to find answers. When word reaches Niarg that Ugleeuh is holding them captive, Minuet prepares to deal with Ugleeuh accordingly.

In Stone Heart, word comes to Niarg that Demonica and Queen Spitemorta of Goll are now in possession of the Great Staff and the much more potent Crystal Heart and plan to use them to conquer the entire world. Demonica declares that their first step should be to destroy all Elfkind. Minuet knits, waiting for the Elf Soraya, Lukus’s wife, to give birth. She comforts Hebraun who feels old and tired after finding Niarg’s grain ruined by a curse. Fuzz asks for Rose’s hand in marriage. Minuet fits her old wedding gown to Rose and helps her prepare for her wedding. She sees Hebraun off to fight the Golls when they burn Ash Fork to the ground.

In The Burgeoning, she rides forth leading her army, determined to cut out Spitemorta’s black heart and feed it to the hogs. And her tale continues in The Reaper WitchDoom.

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & 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

 

WHAM! & THEN… Personality Profile: Maxi the Troll Barber

 

Maxi the troll barber (Dyrney)

Age 22

5’10”

360 lbs

Blue Eyes

Red Hair

Maxi – troll barber on Broadstreet, a friend of Kellen Greenwood and his family. Important member of the Underground.

 

Excerpt from WHAM! :

“Hey Tess!” said Maxi, turning to her with grand outstretched arms. “What my baby girl do be in this neighborhood by her only self?”

“I’m not by myself,” said Tess. “You’re here and nobody’d mess with me with you around.”

“That not was all what, baby girl,” he said, taking down his sunglasses for a dubious squint. “I no did brought you here…”

Suddenly she was in tears. “They took them, Maxi!” she wailed as he grabbed her up in his big arms. “They took my whole family!”

Maxi offered his barber’s chair to her as she talked. The moment she was seated, he knelt in the most respectful troll fashion, slipped off her sandal and licked her foot. When she told him how the police had beaten her mother and father senseless, he shot to his feet thumping his chest with his knuckles. “Ooot! Ooot!” he cried, flinging his arms as he tramped about the room, for her father Kellen had long been a good friend of his.

“So you see why I had to come,” said Tess. “I need your help, Maxi. I don’t have any money, but…”

“Whoa baby girl!” he cried, tramping right up to the chair.  “I be always any help, but when the government took all Dyrney from the Jutwoods and keep us here, I not know enough Dyrney-brutes to get you family back. You father and I scratchy-scratch and scratchy-scratch and scratchy-scratch and scratchy-scratch all both our heads and still not know where be capitol. Not even.”

“I know you would if you could, Maxi. But I’m not asking for that. What I need is a complete make-over, and I know that you can do that like no one else.”

“Make-over? Poop! You pretty pretty pretty thing. You no need.”

“Yeh Maxi. And all the kids at school call me a freak. And the ugly face on the skinny told me that the school turned in Mom and Dad to Children and Family Assistance.”

“They be the freaks with not no any backbone,” he said from under his beetling brow as he drew his hand over his face with a sigh. “Backbone give you extra pretty pretty.  And Dyrney threw gnydy ball and gnydy ball and gnydy ball katoomp katoomp into the echo deep sewer poop. We no have ugly face on the skinny.”

“My! They’d come get anyone who did that.”

“Yeh,” he said. “And we did all once. And daylight people be too many not no backbone freaks. Don’t you try, baby-girl.”

“I promise. All I need is a make-over.”

“You need hug from stead.”

“I can’t pay you, so I suppose I really ought to do it myself, though I’ve never cut it before,” she said with a sigh. “Do you think my dad’s electric razor will do to shave the sides of my head?”

“Cut? Shave? What you want that for? What be wrong with pretty pretty head?”

“Well my hair’s long enough to sit on. No one at school wears it that way. And I think Nia and I were the only ones with naturally green hair.”

“I like long and green,” he said, folding his arms with a decisive nod. “And don’t the daylight people kids have all any kind of color for hair?”

“Yeh. They dye it.”

“You want dye?”

“Nah. I want everything off the sides and the hair that’s left looking artificial…”

“Like some young Dyrney-punk?” he said with a look of astonishment.

“Yeh. With real troll swirls in the fuzz on the scalp on either side.”

 

Maxi the troll continues in THEN…

 

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.”

THEN… The Trailer

 

Goodreads Review for THEN…

 

 

THE EPIC FANTASY SAGA Continues 

If you Loved WHAM! you will be swept away and into THEN, part 2 in the Timewalker Series by Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps. THEN is a gem of book. The epic story continues with artful weaving of time, history, language, and psychology of the characters. The predominant theme is the hero’s journey in a sci-fi Dystopian reality that connects characters and the plot through different times of the past, present and future. This interlacing of time is done brilliantly and with concise clarity. In this journey, there is loss, magic, mystery, conflict, awakenings and reunion as well as serious sheer adventure that stems right from the extraordinarily unique imagination of the authors. There is a classic and timeless quality to THEN that reminds me of varied authors like Chaucer, Tolkien, and Edmund Spenser’s epic book, The Faire Queen. Within the textural and sensual depths of the beautiful imagery and remarkable creativity in THEN, it is quite apparent that the allegories from this extraordinary Sci-Fi Dystopian Fantasy are evident in our world today as archetypes and stereotypes in our reality. It takes a highly crafted and thoughtful author to be able to hold the story to its genre while allowing the reader to see parables that are current to today. The Heroes Journey in THEN is a journey of the soul of finding inner truths against the background of super-natural reality wedded with obstacles and deception as well as innocence and magic. The authors have done a brilliant job! I highly rec. this book to both young adults and adults.

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