Minuet is Beaten Senseless

02-Medieval

The Yellow Rose Tavern was a huge three and a half storey wattle and daub house that had only been standing for three years, just down the street from Fates’ Hospital for the Sick and the Silver Dragon. Its upper storeys overhung the first floor nearly to the middle of the alleys on all sides. Minuet and Bethan rented a long room at the top under the roof in front, which opened onto a balcony far above the street between two great crucks under the gable, and which also peeped out from a tiny window under a thick blanket of thatch in the roof itself. They always ate breakfast and supper downstairs, but they usually ate their dinner at the Silver Dragon, since it was next to the hospital.

“So what was the reason Sergeant Bernard brought us down here to the inn?” said Bethan as she addressed her collards with bread and knife. “I didn’t quite catch what he was saying.”

“He didn’t say much,” said Minuet. “I guess that there was some sort of uproar at the Silver Dragon right after we left, yesterday. He thought we’d be safer down here.”

“Well, where’d he go?”

“He said he’d be right outside if we needed him,” said Minuet as she looked out across the tables under the low rows of timbers in the ceiling. “Is this all they’re bringing out for us to eat?”

“Probably. There do be pieces of ham in it. It’s just the taverner and his wife. Both cooks fled the plague, this morning.”

“I wondered why she was the one waiting on us,” said Minuet as she pressed a wad of collards onto her bread. “In here, you’d hardly think there was a plague. Everybody’s just eating peacefully.”

“They do be, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the taverner’s wife is more talkative when things are normal. She hardly spoke. I’d allow that she’s a little afraid of every soul who walks in here. It’s a wonder they haven’t shooed us out and flown the coop.”

“No doubt…”

Across the room, the front door slammed shut. “There’s the witch!” shouted the woman who stepped inside, silencing everyone at the tables. Minuet dropped her bread onto her plate and turned about on her chair in alarm.

“Martha please!” said the man coming in on her heels. “You’ve had too much to drink. Please think! She’s been wonderful to the kids…”

“You doubt me, Sammy boy?” she cried, wheeling ’round and planting her feet. “I saw what I saw…”

“We all saw the pardoner and the flax haired wench…” he said as he grabbed her wrist.

Martha immediately yanked out of his grasp. “Then you’re blind as well as thick!” she shouted, nearly stumbling as she forced her way between the tables. “Had ye seen past your nose, you’d ‘ave seen it was that wizard in league with the very Elf devils who caused the plague in the first place. It was none other than Wizard Razzmorten himself
and his witch daughter, Ugleeuh!” She staggered back a step with a glance about at her
audience of wide-eyed diners. “No wonder he came to town as a pardoner. He knew
they’d be run out if people recognized him.” Suddenly she took a tramp toward Minuet.
“In fact, maybe it’s time something was done about that entire family. Everyone knows
they practice the dark arts.”

Minuet shot to her feet. “Shame on you!” she shouted. “If it weren’t for my father, the queen herself would be dead this minute! Scores of people have caught the plague and are alive right now because of him…!”

“Yea!” she barked, peppering Minuet’s face with flecks of spit. “Like all the pointy eared foreigners who caused it!”

“Foreigners! How can you say such a thing! They were here a thousand years ago, before there ever was a Niarg…”

“A threat to us the whole time , Missy!” cried Martha, smiling with her hateful piggy eyes as an angry drone stirred through the diners.

“A threat?” cried Minuet, turning to the crowd. “How many of you are alive today because you were healed by the Elves? How many of you would have died in childbirth
had it not been for them? How is it wrong to keep them alive alongside us?”

Bethan could see that the grumbling diners were not making kind replies. She saw her moment at once and quietly slipped out to summon Sergeant Bernard.

“And as for you, Martha Benton,” said Minuet, “how come you call me a witch when only yesterday you said I was like unto an angel?”

“I didn’t know the truth!” she shouted for all to hear. “You held me under an enchantment and used your dark magicks on my dear children. For all we know, you’ve left us changlings under your spell!”

“That’s a lie, Martha! I used no magicks! Your children are still your children. And they’re going to live a long life, too, thanks to my father’s drops which I’ve been giving them every four hours!”

“Yea? And we’d never have let you get away with that, had we only known!”

Minuet was stunned, standing there alone. “I’ve no time for this,” she stammered, turning to leave as diners began pushing back their chairs throughout the room. “We’ve got drops to give and bedpans to haul. Come on, Bethan…”

“So where’s your hired woman, witch?” shouted Martha, blocking Minuet’s escape as the entire dining room crowded around. “Could it be that we’re onto the truth and she didn’t want to hang alongside you for your sorceries?”

“If I were a witch,” cried Minuet, standing her ground before the huge woman, “why have I not struck you down with a curse by now?”

Martha dropped her jaw at this and grabbed herself by the throat to sit down on the floor with a heavy plump and topple onto her side like a sack of corn. The crowd stepped back with wide-eyed gasps.

“Good show Martha!” cried Minuet. “But the only thing wrong with you is your vicious demeanor!”

“You killed my wife!” shouted Sam, falling to his knees beside her as shouts of “Rope! Rope!” erupted from the crowd.

“She’s no more dead than I am!” cried Minuet.

“How do we know you’re alive?” shouted Sam.

“Yea!” hollered someone. “Hang her and burn her!”

“Rope! Rope! Rope!” chanted the crowd, as two huge men grabbed her and threw her against the wall to pummel her face and break her wrist, causing her to black out and fall to the floor, where they began kicking her at once.

“Stop!” bellowed Sergeant Bernard as he flung open the door, sword drawn.

Bethan came in right on his heels, elbowing her way through the crowd in a fury. “My baby girl!” she shrieked as she grabbed one of the kicking men by the hair on the back of his head, yanking him off balance onto the floor.

“Why you old sow!” cried the other man as he wheeled and kicked Bethan in the thigh, knocking her onto the floor.

“My baby!” she cried as she flew to her feet to rip open his belly with her dirk0

The man on the floor rose to his knees, drawing his sword in time for Bernard to take off his head with a whistling swing of his saber.

By now the room had fallen to a hush as Minuet and Bethan’s other four bodyguards entered with swords drawn, followed by a dozen other royal guardsmen. Bethan knelt over Minuet, sobbing and smoothing her hair from her face.

“Seize that man trying to hide the rope!” shouted Bernard.

There was a brief scuffle as murmurs began stirring.

“Silence!” roared Bernard, punctuating the quiet which followed with the sound of his heels on the boards of the floor as he paced. “I am placing under arrest every one of you on this side of the room, from the man with the rope, clean to the wall, except for
Mistress Dewin and Bethan…”

“Why not the witch?” said Sam as he knelt by Martha. “If she’s not killed my wife, she at least has a spell on her.”

Bernard motioned to one of the guardsmen with a nod and whispered something in his ear. “We will hold you in the castle jail until you appear before the King’s Bench,” he said, continuing his speech as the guardsman slipped outside.

“What about the witch?” cried Sam as the guardsman returned with a hunting crop and handed it to Bernard.

Bernard made no reply as he took the crop and walked calmly over to Martha, smacking VA184her rump with a furious whistling crack, causing her to jerk away with a yodeling shriek, tumbling up onto her knees wide eyed as she dearly held her behind. “I’m right glad to see that Good_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_Kindleyou’ll be awake for your hearing, dear,” he said as he handed the hunting crop back to the guardsman.

Ch. 11, Good Sister, Bad Sister

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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Who is Spark?

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 Spark is a fireless, featherless and flightless dragon, the husband of Lipperella and the father of Good_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_KindleLaora. Spark and Lipperella were rendered featherless by the wizard Razzorbauch and the sorceress Demonica when they rounded up most of the dragons in the Mammvro of the Dark Continent and hauled them across the sea to harvest sukere on Razzorbauch’s vast plantation on the Northern Continent in Good Sister, Bad Sister.

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Spark’s firelessness was considered contemptible by the other dragons for a time and he was exiled to the Peppermint Forest prior to The Collector Witch. After the death of Razzorbauch, he returned and marriedStone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle the dragon clan’s Truth Teller, Lipperella. By a fortunate accident, neither Spark nor Lipperella were rendered sterile when they lost their feathers, as were the rest of the dragons, so they were able to produce the only offspring possible for the entire clan, in Stone Heart. And without Razzorbauch’s terrible spells, these offspring had feathers and could fly.

The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_KindleSpark and Lipperella became instrumental in coaxing the dragons to give up hating humans and to become important allies of the The Reaper Witch 01 copyKingdom of Niarg and formidable foes of Queen Spitemorta in The BurgeoningThe Reaper Witch and in Doomthe final book of the Heart of the Staff series.

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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Ugly Company for Minuet

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Minuet sat in the sunshine of the upstairs sewing room, between the tall wool wheel and the loom, embroidering a sketch which she had made of her ewe and lambs grazing by the hollyhocks she had planted by the house. A breeze came and went as a vireo called fromfantasy-minuet the crown of the maple just outside the window. She hummed ever so faintly, turning her hoop this way and that. Suddenly she sat upright with a gasp at the screech of a chair to return immediately to her work, determined to ignore that Ugleeuh was now sitting directly across from her.

Hubba-Hubba finished preening his stubble of pinfeathers and gave himself a thorough shake, nearly losing his balance on the edge of his box of rags. Ugleeuh champed awayfootnote-12 at the fistful of hazelnuts she had brought in with her and crossed her legs. She dangled a slipper from her toe. Hubba-Hubba hopped onto the rags in his box and peered out over the edge with one eye. Ugleeuh heaved a sigh and crossed her legs the other way as she dug at the cud in her cheek with her tongue. She popped another hazelnut into her mouth, rubbing her nose as she chewed.

“Do you actually want something?” said Minuet as she cut her thread and began hunting for another color.

“Well why else would I be sitting here?”

“Hard telling…”

“I was sitting here because you’ve gotten ‘way too-too…”obm006473

“You could have spoken, first thing, and I would have answered,” said Minuet asshe threaded her needle on the first try and picked up her hoop. “But you didn’t, and since I was enjoying myself before you sat down, I was hoping that you just might let me go on
with it.”

“No, no Minnie-Min. You’re just full of yourself since your victory in our little tug o’ war, aren’t you?”

“Look Lee-Lee. If that’s all you want, I’ve no time for it. Think whatever you must, but just go somewhere else and do something nice.

“Well. Since you were polite enough to ask me, I came in here to find out when Father will get back, since he never tells me anything anymore.”

“I can’t imagine why not,” said Minuet as she turned her hoop over and cut a thread, “but in this case, you could have seen him off just as easily as I did. Besides, he told you he’d take you with him, the first chance he gets. Surely your birthday present isn’t more important than saving everyone from the plague.”

“I don’t suppose it ever occurred to you that I might be concerned about him, did it Miss Perfect?”

“No. That would be a shock.”

Ugleeuh gave a whooping sob and sprang from her chair, smacking Minuet’s embroidery Ugleeuh_rub_880683_c_medieval_scarlett_red_hooded_dress_costume_adult_ahoop out of her lap as she tramped across the room. “You used to be my best friend!” she wailed as she yanked open the door and wheeled about. “You used to be my champion! You were the one person in this world I could always count on and trust! Now you’ve turned awful and I’ll never, ever forgive you!”

“I sure was, sweetheart,” said Minuet to the closed door as she knelt to pick up her broken hoop, “but then I woke up to find that no matter what I did for you, every third thing you ever said was a lie.”

“Do some-thing nice… do some-thing nice… just go some-where else and do some-thing nice…” said Ugleeuh in a giddy sing-song as she whirled and skipped down the hallway. At the head of the stairs she stopped short and leant out the window, straining to hear a couple of hands who were singing grandly as they rode a wagon load of timothy hay to theGood_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_Kindle barn. “Oh my!” she said with a sweet little bounce as she clasped her hands under her chin. “You two are so tone deaf. I need to do something nice to each one of you. Big sister says so…” And with that, she floated down the stairs and skipped outside.

Ch. 4, Good Sister, Bad Sister

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Who is Razzmorten?

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Razzmorten Dewin, the good wizard who is an important player throughout our epic series Heart of the Staff, is born to the First Wizard and his mistress Gwenyth, three hundred and fifty years before his grandchildren, Rose and Lukus of the House of Niarg. The First Wizard wielded enormous magical power because his father was an Elf and his mother was a Human (a race of human in our use). Razzmorten’s twin brother is the evil wizard Razzorbauch, who turns the Forest Primeval into the Chokewoods and himself into a crop burning dragon in Good Sister, Bad Sister.

Razzmorten marries the good lady Blodeuwedd, who dies giving birth to his first daughter Minuet. He hires Demonica to be Minuet’s nanny. After a time, he marries her. She gives birth to Ugleeuh whilst he is away and vanishes with the crystal Heart from Castle Niarg, leaving him to raise his two daughters by himself.

When a great plague comes to Niarg in Good Sister, Bad Sister, he discovers and produces a cure. Ugleeuh has designs on Niarg’s Prince Hebraun. However, HebraunJosephWright-Alchemist-Cropped takes an interest in Minuet. When King Henry announces their betrothal, he makes Razzmorten the Wizard to the Crown for his saving Niarg from the pestilence. Ugleeuh vanishes for a few years. When she returns to Niarg with her powers dangerously well developed to find Minuet and Hebraun married and attempts to murder them, Razzmorten creates powerful magical wards to protect Niarg from her, confining her to the Chokewoods.

When Minuet’s children, Rose and Lukus are in their teens in The Collector Witch, they stumble onto Ugleeuh in in her part of the Chokewoods, amusing herself by flying about on a broom. She holds them captive at once and tries to use them to buy her freedom by sending her crow to Razzmorten with an extortion note for the Crown. Razzmorten promises Minuet that he will do what ever it takes to protect them. When Ugleeuh catches them attempting to flee, her own daughter Spitemorta appears at the scene to make off with her broom.

Spitemorta murders her adoptive parents in order to assume the throne of Goll. The handle of her new broom turns out to be the Great Staff of Power which was taken from the great everwaking oak Longbark by the First Wizard. When word of the Staff in Spitemorta’s hands reaches Demonica, across the sea on Head in Stone Heart, she goes to Goll to be the new nanny of Spitemorta’s son. Soon she and Spitemorta are off on a hunt for the great crystal Heart of the Staff. Meanwhile Razzmorten, Rose and Lukus go back to the Chokewoods see just how much Ugleeuh’s magic has faded to find Fuzz the bear trying frantically to keep the Heart out of Spitemorta and Demonica’s hands. When Razzmorten’s party and Fuzz begin traveling together, they are waylaid by Spitemorta and Demonica who blow the head off of one of the party, put Razzmorten into a coma, crippling his powers, and grab up the Heart from the ground where it has fallen. With the Heart and the Staff, Spitemorta and Demonica at last have tools powerful enough to plan the conquest of the world.

The Last ChapterWhen Razzmorten comes out of his coma, he believes that since Spitemorta and Demonica are likely to fear being stopped by another half Elf-half Human like the First Wizard, they will seek to destroy every Elf alive before turning on Niarg. He sets about searching for ways to stop them whilst his powers slowly return.

Demonica introduces to Spitemorta the skinweler, a sphere of catoptrolite crystal, so that she can control the minds of her subjects. She at once distributes Skinwelerioù far and wide. In The Burgeoning they destroy Oilean Gairdin, sending the Elves fleeing into the Wilderlands before bringing down Castle Niarg and sending Razzmorten and Minuet into the Pitmaster’s Kettles to seek refuge under the mountains with the three Fairy sisters.

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Razzmorten continues to be instrumental in The Reaper Witch and Doom.

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Tom Phipps