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Modern English is the language spoken throughout Elf Killers and the epic series, Heart of the Staff. Fairies speak Middle English without most of its obsolete words in Good Sister, Bad Sister, The Burgeoning, Reaper Witch and Doom. The rest of the languages used appear as isolated words and sentences chosen to give realism and color to various characters. Most of these are explained by context and all can be found translated in the respective glossaries in the books where they appear.
Language: What it is: Who speaks it:
Niarg Standard current Modern English Kingdom of Niarg
Kingdom of Loxmere
Kingdom of Goll
Kingdom of Bratin Brute
Archaic Modern Niarg Middle English all Fairies
all profanities uttered by
Ocker the raven
Niarg (600 yrs prior)
Old Niarg Standard Welsh Kingdom of Niarg
Kingdom of Loxmere
Kingdom of Goll
Kingdom of Bratin Brute
Jutish Elven Irish Jutish Elves
Old Gwaelic Elven Irish Gwaelic Elves (1M yrs prior)
Gwaelic Elven Manx Gwaelic Elves
Gwaelic Cornish Gwael
Headlandish Breton Penvro (Head)
Goblish-Beakish Pictish Kingdom of Marr (Beaks)
Ngop Wagiman the Ngop
Wagiman is almost extinct. The last I knew, only ten Australian Aboriginals still speak it.
Trollish transposition of an trolls
Trollish is a very nasal sounding language, the transposition of an aboriginal New World language, where each letter in the original tongue is replaced with a different letter. In particular, the sounds most frequently used by the aboriginal speakers are replaced with the sounds which are the very most difficult for them to pronounce. Trollish uses such non European peculiarities as noun-verbs, which we originally tried to represent in English by running nouns and verbs together (as they are in the aboriginal) in words such as, headsmash, juicychamp, cantgoback, rollybottomhohoslap and grabupsqueakers, which we soon changed to head-smash, juicy-champ, can’t-go-back, rolly-bottom-ho-ho-slap and grab-up-squeakers in order to be easy to read.
And as always, please let us know what you think,
*** When reading our books please keep the above languages in mind, and… Especially remember that the language of the Fairies (In the four books below) is not full of grammar or syntax errors, it’s MIDDLE ENGLISH!***
It was still dark when the dour Elf woman gathered up the skirt of her leine and stepped into the wet big bluestem grass. “Would someone tell me why we have to be out in the Strah before the crack of dawn?” she said. “Isn’t this when the shawkyn spooghey begin their daily hunts?”
“You volunteered with the rest of us, Brede,” said Vorona, as she waded through the grassbehind her, “so it’s our turn first. And as for the chosen hour, I’m sorry to say, but the strike falcons determine that. Olloo says that the only time both birds leave the nest is right at sunrise. One of them goes out to hunt and the other one comes back right away to sit on the eggs all morning.”
Brede fell silent and made a childish face which was ugly even in the dark, but filed into the tall grass with everyone else.
“The wild strike falcons make grass nests a foot and a half across in the middle of big mounds of grass and sticks, maybe three feet high by about ten feet across,” said Olloo as he walked, looking from side to side at Vorona, Roseen, Kieran, Oisin and Doona, Brede, Nessa, Markus, Donachan and Martyn to see if everyone was hearing him. “They place these in loose colonies, ten to twenty rods away from each other in all directions. I’ve been watching an especially large colony not quite a league north of here, so that’s where we’re going. I just hope we’re not too late getting started.”
“So what do we do when we get there?” said Oisin as he held Doona’s hand and tramped along beside him.
“I want to leave everyone in a group,” said Olloo, “armed and ready and out of sight of the colony while I scout about the nests to see if the birds are away. If they are, I’ll gather eggs and fetch them out, two or three at a time.”
They fell silent right away as they struggled through the grass, trying to keep up with him, since he was quite afraid that they were late. Just before the sun peeped over the Eternal Mountains, he made them kneel in the grass back to back with their bows ready and then he disappeared into the waving grass. A redwing blackbird circled overhead, scolding. He was back in short order with four eggs, which he handed to Vorona, Roseen, Nessie and Markus before vanishing once more. Right away he returned, catching his breath as he handed out eggs to Brede (who beamed with delight in spite of herself), Donachan and Martyn.
“Hey!” whispered out Kieran as he pointed away through the grass. “Isn’t that a nest, yonder?”
“That’s dangerous!” whispered Olloo, suddenly wide-eyed. “We’re not outside the colony at all.”
Kieran jogged over to the nest at once, held up an egg and dashed back with it. “I hope it’s alive. You think so?” he said, handing it to Olloo.
“It’s warm and dry. I’ll bet it is.” he said, as Nessie and Markus trotted out of sight.
Suddenly, there was a shrill screeching. Olloo sprinted through the grass to find Nessie and Markus at the edge of a nearby nest with two baby strike falcons shrieking with all their might as they stood in their shell fragments. “They’re going to get us killed if I don’t do them in…” he said, grabbing for his knife.
“No!” cried Nessie as she lunged at the babies and scooped them into her shawl, quietingthem at once.
“They stopped screaming, all right,” said Olloo, but they might not bond with you if you take them. Either way, they’ve already made their noise, so we’d better get out of here, now.”
“My egg’s in the nest, Markus. Would you get it for me?”
“We have to go, or the parents will kill us,” said Olloo. “Come on!”
“I’m calling her Cronney. I want to give my egg to…”
“We can figure it out at home. Let’s beat it, kids!”
Herio could scarcely take his eyes off the sky long enough to find his stirrup as he thanked Mrs. Gweld for the pie and said his goodbyes. “I wonder if they passed by while I was inside,” he said once he had Gwynt underway, following Sophie on her unicorn to Castlegoll Road.
“Well, this is it,” she said, hesitating as he doffed his hat and steered Gwynt onto the road.
“She’s pretty,” he thought. He looked back to see her disappear around the corner. “Actually, she’s very pretty. And now that I think about it, she must have been interested in me. My! Could that be why she came with her unicorn instead of her brothers?” He gave a deep sigh and resumed combing the heavens.
Suddenly something was fluttering in his ear, giving him a start. “Herio!” chirped Tweet, landing on his shoulder and springing into flight again. “You’ve got to hurry! Hubba Hubba’s been shot and the evil boy’s going to eat him!”
“No! Is he dead?”
“He was alive last I knew, but…”
“Good! Show me. Let’s go Gwynt!”
“It was actually on this very road, just two farms south of here, where he was shot. We have to wait there for either Chirp or Squeak to show up when they find where the boy took him.”
At once, Herio had Gwynt pounding away at a full gallop. Soon his side was cramping from all the bouncing pie.
“Herio! Tweet! Hoy!” came a wee tweet from up ahead.
“Squeak!” chirped Tweet. “Is Hubba Hubba still alive?”
“Hurry! I’ll show you!”
Away they raced, down the road and through the very same fields crossed by Frankin and Hubba Hubba. At last they splashed through the creek and had zigzagged nearly across the orchard. “You’re here!” squeaked Chirp, dropping down from the sky, halting them at once. “See that house through the trees? They took him inside in a game bag, but I think they have him in a box. He’s hurt, Herio. I don’t know how bad. The biggest boy right yonder, see? He beaned him on the head and knocked him right out of the sky. They were going to dress him for supper…”
“And they haven’t yet?” said Herio.
“I don’t think so, ’cause the lady and the boys got to fussing something awful.”
“How do you reckon they’d take my walking up and asking for their supper?”
“Not very well. They’ve been shouting at each other the whole time I’ve been here.”
“Maybe I could offer them some money for Hubba,” he said, glancing away at the house. “They look kind of hard up.”
“They look like they might rob you…” squeaked Chirp.
“Oh surely not, but if it eases your mind, I’ll dump out most of our money in the rotted out place in this old peach tree.” He poured out his coins, put away his bag and threw his leg over Gwynt. “Well, let’s go get Hubba, boys.”
Frankin trotted out several rods to meet them. “You better hold it right there, fellow!” he hollered as he wrapped a stone in the patch of his sling. “We don’t know you at all, so that makes you ones a trespasser…”
“Frankin!” echoed the cry from the house. “How’d you get that sling? You bring it back right now! You hear? And don’t you dare talk to strangers that a-way unless there’s a good reason!”
“I’m right sorry,” said Herio. “I certainly didn’t mean to make you think I was trespassing. I’m just passing through on my way to Castle Goll, but I got separated from my crow…”
“Crow?” said Frankin without so much as glancing back at his mother. “No crow here, fellow, so just turn around. Go!” He swung his rock back and forth like he might fling it around and throw it.
“Frankin! You heard me!” came the cry from the house.
Frankin did not bat an eye nor turn around, but the shouting woman must have had his attention, for suddenly Kink dashed out of the bushes and yanked away the sling.
“We got a crow shut up in the house, mister!” cried Kink, dancing about warily, well out of Frankin’s reach.
“Yea!” cried Dink, running up. “He talks and Mom’s afraid of him!”
“This time you gwrteithiau have really gone and done it!” cried Frankin, going red in the face. “I’m going to pound you…”
“Not while I’m alive!” howled the Mother, grabbing him by the arm. “And you’re done with slings for a good while, buster!”
Frankin tried to wrench free, but she gave him a shake.
“I’m man of the house now that Dad and Alwin’s gone!” he wailed. “You said so!”
“Yea? Well, when you can’t live up to it, then you’re just a little boy, aren’t you? And if that makes you disappointed, kid-o, hit makes me doubly so. Now let’s work you back up to being a man again. You get yourself around back and chop me a proper rick o’ wood!”
“But there’s a whole pile of wood ’round…Aaaah!”
“And there’s a proper red welt acrost the back o’ your leg, too!” she hissed as she got him good with a whistling switch. She watched him scuttle out of sight. When she heard chopping commence, she retied her apron. “Now I’m right sorry for that, young man. He’s turned mean since his daddy was kilt at Ash Fork. Now he didn’t even give you ones the chance to give your name, ‘fore he started in, did he? He’s Frankin, I’m Mrs. Simms and these two be Wilmer and Jake…”
“I’m Herio, ma’am,” he said, thinking to remove his hat.
“Well, we’ve been kind o’ afraid of your bird. We didn’t know what to think. He bit me good every time I tried to get him down, and he was swearing like a sailor…”
“Sounds like Hubba Hubba, all right…”
“That’s his name?”
“And you taught him to curse like that?”
“No, but I’ve learnt a bunch from him…”
“You know, that’s one lie I think I believe,” she said with a laugh as she turned to Kink and Dink. “You ones run inside and bring this nice young fellow his bird.”
They raced to the door and darted inside. Immediately they were back outside again, with the door slammed fast behind them. They looked up at Herio with wide eyes.
“He’s deliberately knocking things off shelves…” said Kink.
“And he said when you get here you’re going to cut off our heads,” said Dink with an uneasy swallow.
Herio put his ear to the door.
“And when he does show up, “cawed Hubba Hubba amidst the crash of dishes, “you all will wish you were far, far, away! He’ll make you pay! He’ll cut off your grubby little fingers! He’ll…!”
“He’ll come and take you with him!” hollered Herio as he threw open the door.
“Herio!” cawed Hubba Hubba, swooping down from some shelves to walk up the front of his shirt as he madly beat his wings. “You did it! You saved me! They were going to eat me!” He flapped his way up onto Herio’s shoulder to drop open his beak and go quite skinny. “You mean you didn’t kill them?”
“Well, no, Hubba, they returned you in one piece… In fact, ma’am?” he said, taking out his purse and dumping out some crowns onto the bench by the door. “This is for your dishes.”
“Why you ones don’t have to…”
“Have you seen how many he broke?”
“Every bloomin’ one I could reach,” rattled Hubba Hubba as he bristled all over. “And ‘one piece,’ I dispute that. Have you seen the knot on my head?”
“Then you’ve gained from the experience,” said Herio, rolling his eyes for Mrs. Simms.
She nodded and herded her boys back towards the house. “Looks like we both got our hands full,” she called with a nod, as she shooed Kink and Dink into the house. “Good luck, you hear?”
“Thank you ma’am, for being good to my bird,” said Herio as he got astride Gwynt with Hubba Hubba gaping aghast and three merrily twittering sparrows. They sauntered back through the orchard, pausing long enough to scrape his crowns out of the rotted out hollow in the old tree.
“‘Good to my bird?’ ‘Good to my bird?’ You think a knot on my very knitty box, big as my eye, is good to your bird? And what righteous damage, may I ask, did you do in order to be good unto them…?”
The stinky beefy boy slowed to a walk with a skip and happily patted his game bag full of Hubba Hubba. Whistling a giddy tune fit for the tone deaf, he left the path through a gap in the hedge to cut across a freshly ploughed field. Chirp and Squeak followed ’round the outside in the tops of trees grown up in the hedge. The boy scampered through new oats, a meadow and a fresh cow pile, pausing to rinse his feet in a gurgling creek before dashing triumphantly across an orchard to a fiery haired woman and two boys, hoeing in a broad vegetable garden.
“Mom!” hollered the stinky boy as she bent to pull a weed. “Get wood on the fire! I bagged fresh meat for supper!”
She stood up, brushing the dirt from her skirts and hands.
“Look Mom! I got him with my sling! I knocked ‘im clean out of the air! I’m gettin’ good, aye?”
“I’ll say Frankin,” she said, peering into his bag. “I’ve been watching you get better day by day. This is game to remember, all right, particularly when you may go the rest of your life and not get another on the wing like that.”
“So all you think is I just got lucky, isn’t hit?”
“Well Frankin, someone without your sharp eye would certainly have an empty bag right now…”
“Ha!” he crowed with a leap. “I’m really somethin’ with my sling, and you know it.”
“I’ve just hung the tea-kettle over the fire,” she said, ruffling up his hair. “You could wash up for a nice cup o’ tea before you dress your bird, if you don’t dally.”
Frankin raced to the back door, hung Hubba Hubba on the latch and wheeled ’round to go to the well in time to find his little brothers following. “Hey Poopkink!” he snarled. “If you and Poopdink have to sneak along behind me, don’t you dare touch the game bag.”
“Help!” cawed Hubba Hubba, coming to in total blackness. “I’m dead again! I can’t see!” He hysterically thrashed and flogged his wings against the insides of the cramped box they had him in, pausing to go light in the head, gasping for want of air.
Someone heard his cries and threw open the box. “Kawk!” he cried as four chubby hands crowded in after him. “Have some respect! Can’t you idiots tell I’m wounded here?”
Both boys squealed and yanked back, dropping the lid on Hubba Hubba.
“Hey! I object! This is abuse! Here I am, smashed in the head…”
“Hit does talk!” they cried in wide-eyed chorus.
“You got it!” shouted Hubba Hubba. “And do you ones listen? Here I am smashed in the head, some drooling gnoff strangles me ’till I black out, maybe die, and here you ones whack me in the head again… Is this the stinkin’ Pit, or what? Well?”
Suddenly they lunged at the box. Hubba Hubba exploded into frantic flight about the room, landing on a quilting frame drawn up by twine to the overhead beams. “All right,” he rattled. “At least I can see this is some rotten old kitchen, somewhere, and not the Pit. And whatever you two are, I am not some kind of ‘it!’ I’m one right proud crow and I’m traveling with a young man who ought to here directly to cut off your stinkin’ heads for doing this to me…!”
“Hey you little gwrteithiau!” yelled Frankin as he threw open the door. “What’d I tell you about my game bag? And why weren’t you out helping us drive in the six sheep which just now got out in the garden? Which one of you left the gate open anyway…?”
“It’s loose!” cried Kink.
“Close the door!” cried Dink.
“I am not an ‘it,'” rattled Hubba Hubba.
“Taran!” shouted Frankin as he slammed the door and began glancing about. “So you not only let the sheep out, you got into my bag and turned the crow loose! If he gets clean away, you’ll not only be cachu, I’ll find something really disgusting and make you each eat its cachu!”
“He’s right over your head,” said Dink.
Frankin wheeled ’round and looked up. “Mom!” he bellowed, “Come in here and see what they did now!” He lunged and missed Hubba Hubba, whacking the quilting frame madly about on the ends of its short twines.
“Kawk!” cried Hubba Hubba, as he crouched to hang on
Frankin leaped again, snapping a twine and knocking down the frame to smash a huge crock of soupy cottage cheese onto the floor.
“You bloated idiot!” cawed Hubba Hubba, springing into flight about the room. He spied a board nailed across the timbers and landed on that with his back to the ceiling. “You stinking armpit maggot…”
“So you’re some kind of magic crow, aye?” he said, taking out his sling. “Well it doesn’t matter, bird-o. You’ll never get out of this room, ’cause when I knock you down, I’m goin’ ‘o jerk your ugly head out o’ your shoulders!”
“No!” cried Kink and Dink together.
“Frankin!” cried their mom as she stepped in the door to go apoplectically wide eyed. “My stars! That’s fifteen gallons of cottage cheese, all over!”
“They did it!” wailed Frankin. “They got into my bag when I told them not to and turned loose the crow. I’ve got to kill it quick…”
“No!” cried Dink. “Hit’s magic…!”
“Hit talks!” cried Kink.
“And they’ve gotten windy as kites in the process, too, I see. Well you two, what have I told you about making up things…?”
“I think you two need to take this stack of bowls and scoop up as much clean cheese as you can get off the floor for your next several meals. Then, you need to mop up every bit of what’s left.”
“But we aren’t making it up!” wailed Dink, as his mom thrust a stack of bowls into his arms and steered him toward the slumping mound of cheese and crock chards.
“Now, freak bird, hit’s your turn,” said Frankin, fitting a stone into his sling.
“Kawk!” cried Hubba Hubba. “Lady, lady! Please listen to your little fellows!”
“That’s not the least bit amusing, Frankin,” she said, wheeling ’round to glare at him.
“But I didn’t…”
“No, no, no, no!” cawed Hubba Hubba. “I did! I’m not some game animal to be beaned and chucked in the kettle. Hey! I’ve got brains here.”
“Mercy!” she gasped. “You do talk!”
“Hit’s a trick, Mom, said Frankin.
“Right. So where’s the minstrel puppeteer?”
“Come on, Mom! Somebody taught him to talk…”
“Absolutely!” rattled Hubba Hubba. “Just like they did you, only I didn’t need to be taught how to think, and you’ve yet to manage.”
“Don’t touch the bird,” she said, snatching away his sling. “Do not harm him, understand?”
“But he’ll get away!”
“We’re going to be real good to him ’till we figure him out,” she said. “Now go fetch me a good sized box to put him in, and make sure there are a right smart amount of air holes in it.”
“Air holes?” cried Hubba Hubba. “What kind of ‘real good’ to me is that? No wonder you haven’t taught maggot boy here how to think, yet! And I don’t care what he brings back, you’re going to have to come up here and get me!”
On the eve of their exodus from the Eastern Continent in Elf Killers, a party of young Elves is ambushed…
Aedan glanced up the tall trunks as a breeze chased through the treetops and died away amongst the echoes of the bellbirds. “Make sure that each one of the kids has a nice wet ball of sphagnum on the seedlings, if you would, Oísín,” he said as he sank into the ferns to sit on his heels. He watched as each young Elf dutifully opened his vasculum in turn for Oísín’s inspection.
“All that’s left of the sunlight is ‘way up in the treetops,” said Oísín with a nod. “You reckon it’s still safe to try for the blue maidenhair at the summit?”
“I was hoping for all four kinds,” said Aedan, as he ran his hands through his hair. “Looks like I let the time slip away. Listen! Hear that purple-rib, yonder?”
“Well, he thinks it’s a-getting dark…” he said, suddenly looking about for a muffled snap in the leaves.
“Oouyuyf!” bellowed a troll covered with black and red ochre hand prints, as he took a sudden tramp out of the pawpaw leaves to run a spear under Aedan’s collarbone and out his back.
“Run!” cried Oísín as he loosed an arrow into the troll, sending it staggering about to stumble and fall as the wide-eyed young Elves scrambled to their feet and vanished into the woods. Trolls were starting to appear everywhere. As quick as he could manage, he loosed four or five more arrows, striking one of them and scattering the others. He dropped to his knees where Aedan lay on his side in the ferns.
“Go!” grunted Aedan, blowing blood off his lips.
“Here…” said Oísín, starting to scoop him up.
“No!” coughed Aedan. “They’ll get you if you even try. I’m gone. Go! Save the kids! Damn it! Do it!”
Oísín jerked up at a waft of wind by his ear in time to see a huge rock land and roll through the leaves beyond him. He was on his feet at once, wheeling ’round with his drawn bow to find two trolls about to run him through with a spear. He loosed his arrow
at once, killing the one with the spear as the other one fled out of sight. “I can still carry
you, Aedan!” he cried.
“Get out of here! Please!”
Oísín was immediately underway, batting aside branches. “We’ll never forget you!” he hollered as he hurtled out of the brush to take huge bounding strides down the side of a steep hogback.
The troll tramped to a halt beside Aedan and pummeled his chest with his fists. “Ooot-ooot, ooot-ooot, ooot-ooot,” he cried with a look of crazed triumph, slinging spittle from the black and red ochre paint on his face. “Gnydy!”
“Ay-ooo,” sang out Gnydy, planting his spear with a fierce nod of his cap of mud caked hair as he appeared on the far side of Aedan. He jabbed the point of his spear into Aedan’s thigh, drawing blood. “Should-we hair-drag the grabup-squeaker, Dyr?” he said as he licked the blood off his spearpoint.
“You-want to haul-meat both-ways?” said Dyr with a beetle-browed glare, as a purple-rib took up calling nearby. “We’ll-quarter him on the way-back.
Aedan listened to the trolls tramp away through the leaves. “Damn this!” he thought as he squeezed shut his eyes. “I loved my life…” Suddenly he opened his eyes at the sound of light four footed walking in the leaves, making straight for him. “Niall!”
The deer like unicorn slowed to hesitant steps and lowered his head for a careful sniff.
“I may be out of time, but I have this minute,” he said, wincing with pain at his attempt to pat Niall’s muzzle. “If I can get up onto your back, we’re going back to camp to show them what the Marfora Siofra did to me and to have them try to find Oísín and the children. And even if I don’t make it, you’ll get me there.”
Though Niall understood not one word of this, he would soon know what to do, for he was a terraing pictiúr, a picture catcher unicorn. Difficult as it was with all his pain, Aedan managed to clear his mind enough to picture Niall lying down in order for him to mount. At once, Niall lay down before him, patiently waiting for him to get on. Crying
out from the horrible pain, Aedan heaved himself onto his knees, where he steadied
himself long enough to cough blood down his front before throwing his leg across him.
He had a long struggle to keep from passing out before he could manage to picture Niall
rising to his feet. Niall got up at once, but it was an eternity of fighting down the pain
from the jostling before Aedan could manage to picture the camp. At last they were
Elves, Homo sapiens ginkgoliberiensis R., area race of humans indigenous to the Maidenhair Woods of the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent, characterized
by ivory colored skin, eyes with various colors of irises highlighted with opalescent flashesAn Elf who is 240 years old has the biological maturity of a Human [In our writing, ‘Human’ is a race of human] of about seventeen. therefore, one can multiply the equivalent number of Human years by (240/17) to find how old he would be as an Elf. Elves have annual birthdays as we do, but they also celebrate their “naming day” every 14.1 years. An Elf’s seventh naming day has particular importance and is celebrated on his 99th birthday.
Up until a millennium ago all Elves spoke Old Gwaelic Elven and lived on the western slopes of the Eternal Mountains, with most of them living in or near the village of Baile Gairdin. At that time, nocturnal raids by Gwaelic trolls, Homo neanderthalensis gwaelii R., known to them as Marfora Siofra, drove nearly all of them across the Orin Ocean to the Jutland Woods of the Northern Continent where they live to this day, speaking a nearly unchanged version of their ancestral tongue called Jutish Elven. A handful of Elves stayed behind on the Eastern Continent to flee across the mountains, far out into the table flat grasslands of the Great Strah to a great rock they named Carraig Faire, which kept them out of the reach of the great predatory strike falcons living there. In time, their way of speaking changed entirely into
The Maidenhair Woods of the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent has the following indigenous tree and fern species of essential importance to the Gwaelic Elves who still live there (Stone Heart and Elf Killers) and to the Jutish Elves who fled to the Northern Continent with starts of each of them one thousand years ago
blue maidenhair – Ginkgo cyanophyllum R. is a twenty to sixty foot tall broad leaved
evergreen gymnosperm with chalky blue-green leaves, living on the mountain tops up to the tree line of the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent. It is amongst the oldest living things, with some trees having been found with over 16,000 annual rings. The wood is so dense that trees felled next to water have been known to sink as though their trunks were made of stone. The dried leaves, which are drunk as a tea by the Elves, contain ginkeine, an alkaloid complex which includes caffeine and other phytochemicals, some of which may induce DNA repair.
fringed maidenhair – Ginkgo fimbriflabella R., is a deciduous gymnosperm that lives in waste and burnt over areas where woods meets grassland. It seldom grows taller than 35 to forty feet. Its leaves are deeply lobed with closely spaced fingers, scarcely broader than one mm, giving the tree its name. Its wood is almost white and very soft, and it seldom lives more than 65 to 75 years. Along with plums, crabapples and hawthorns, it is amongst the first woody species of trees to invade after a section of forest is completely burnt off by fire.
maidenhair tree – Ginkgo biloba ingentissima R. (The Sacred Maidenhair of Oilean Gairdin is a G. biloba ingentissima) are broad leaved deciduous gymnosperms. These are the tallest living trees on earth with mature specimens towering from 375 to over 400 feet. The largest individual known, living near the bottom of the slopes of the
Pitmaster Gorge in the Maidenhair Woods, measures 427 feet and is estimated to be well over 7000 years old. They are indigenous to the Maidenhair Woods of the western Eastern Continent where they are the dominant tree, forming the canopies in the deep valleys and steep slopes of the Eternal Mountains up to about 6500 feet. They are amongst the oldest living things on earth with some trees having nearly 10,000 annual rings, though the record for age is held by the very much smaller blue maidenhair, Ginkgo cyanophyllum R., of the mountain tops and tree line.
red maidenhair – Ginkgo erythrofolium R. is a deciduous broadleaved gymnosperm living throughout the Maidenhair Woods in the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent where it overwhelmingly predominates at elevations below 8000 feet. It ranges in height from sixty to ninety feet, the taller trees occurring in low places. It has the interesting ability to thrive under the canopy of the maidenhair trees, Ginko biloba ingentissima R. where the two species overlap. The red bottom surfaces of its leaves are thought to enable it to thrive in low light conditions. Its dried leaves bear alkaloids, which when chewed by the Elves like tobacco, steadies their nerves.
silver maidenhair – Ginko genetrex-argenteus R. also called “mother tree” by the Fairies and Gwaelic Elves, its leaves and stems are covered with a silver colored cuticle, hence its name. It lives in symbiotic association with the mycelia of Fairy ring mushrooms, and whilst its leaves, stems, fruit, bark and roots are each said to have potent medicinal properties, the tree’s great rarity has prevented substantial empirical study.
maidenhair fern – Adiantum capillus-veneris R. is the commonest of all species of fern occurring in the Maidenhair Woods of the Eternal Mountains of the west coast of the Eastern Continent, where it forms rank growths along streams, in deep loamy gorges and blankets the north-facing slopes of hills and sandstone bluffs. Its fan shaped leaves resemble the leaves of the maidenhair tree. It grows from six to eighteen inches in height from creeping rhizomes, six inches to six yards long. It is a major part of the diet of the maidenhair red deer, Odocoileus rufi-ginkgus R., and is the likely reason for the animal’s meat having its renowned woodsy flavor.
“Now look!” cried Demonica. “You knocked my flowers into the syrup, fowl!”
“So? Stop waving your swyving arms, then. Besides, I want you to do something for me…”
“I want you to make hit so that I can travel anywhere I want by spell, instead of just to here and back,” he said as he wiped off his beak and gave himself a thorough shake.
“For what? What’s your news?”
“I already gave hit to you when you said you gave me the powers of a swyving hedge wizard…”
“So you suddenly think I should pay you twice, aye?”
“Listen, queinte!” he squawked, thrusting himself up to bristle like a pine cone. “I’ve learnt from a right true source that magic powers can’t be given. You’re either born with them, or you’re not. And I was, so you knew hit when you tricked me.”
“I’ll pay you well for the name of who told you.”
Ocker is the only raven known who is able to use magic. In Good Sister, Bad Sister, he lives with his wife Urr-Urr at their nest atop the great bluff overlooking the keep of the evil wizard Razzorbauch. Based on the behavioral studies of ravens by ethologist Bernd Heinrich and the folklore of Native Americans and Celts, Ocker is a profane, amoral huckster, who is forever wheedling things he wants from powerful people in exchange for tidbits of choice information. He does routine business with Demonica the sorceress as well as Razzorbauch, but he also has occasional dealings with Meri Greenwood the Fairy and the Jutland Elves. When Ocker sells the whereabouts of Greenwood’s lover to Razzorbauch as well as to Greenwood, the lover and her sisters are doomed to live in Mount Bed forever. Even so, it is Ocker who ends up saving the day.
We seldom use profanities in our writing, but Ocker is a most profane character, so we have him swearing exclusively with obsolete English words. The above passage is as foul and graphic as any swearing you’ll ever hear on the street.
Yann-Ber is born a prince, the eldest son of Azenor of the House of Dark, the emperor of Head (Pennvro) and the Dark Empire. He is a bright and prodigal child, doted upon by his father and destined to sit on the throne. He grows into a dashing and handsome young man who marries Princess Yuna of the House of Egg (Vi), who by astonishing luck happens to be his childhood sweetheart. Mere weeks into his marriage, the sorceress Demonica casts a spell on him, taking him away from her.
Demonica is shrewd and ruthless, an heiress of a vast fortune in mines. For generations, she has manipulated the throne of the Dark Empire from the shadows by providing ships, arms or mercenary armies at opportune moments, keeping it perpetually indebted to her. She marries Yann-Ber hoping to eventually sit on the throne.
In spite of his dependency upon her, Azenor fears Demonica and disinherits Yann-Ber. Demonica regards Yann-Ber with cruel disdain from that moment on. She eventually catches him with another woman and casts a crippling spell of boils upon him, and sends him out on desperate forays to find the Great Staff of Power. He eventually locates it in Stone Heart, only to have her reward him by promising that he will die after another year of horrible torment from the spell.
Yann-Ber sets out for Niarg at once to find the wizard Razzmorten. Perhaps he can undo her curse.
After a nice supper in the Suds and Steer in The Collector Witch, Rose and Lukus find themselves on a dark road in the woods…
Before them lay the border of Loxmere, beyond which lay the Jut of Niarg, a southern arm of their own country, filled with a dense forest known as the Jutwoods. They crossed the border in the broad moonlight by leaving the road in order to avoid the guard houses. When they had found their way back onto the road, they were nearly three leagues beyond Loxmere in very dense woods. Suddenly Rose halted Mystique so abruptly that Lukus ran his knee into the skirt of her saddle. “Hey! Rose, call your shot next time.”
“Hush!” she said. “We’re being watched.”
“How do you know?”
“I swear I saw movement.”
“It must be the robbers from the inn. I told you they were up to no good.”
“Can you see them, Lukus?”
“It’s ‘way too dark. I can’t see anything. They could hide anywhere. They could be right there in the rocks along the cliff, for all I can tell. I think they’re rocks. Maybe they’re pacing us through the woods, just off the road.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Run or hide. We’d better choose one right quick, ’cause I just heard something. We can make out the road by the gap in the trees.”
“Then let’s ride like the wind. They’ll not have mounts even close to ours.”
At once three figures stepped into the roadway.
“Lukus!” she cried, wheeling square about and frantically digging her heels into Mystique’s flanks to charge back the way they’d come. Lukus tried to follow, but Starfire reared and bolted off the road and through the brush to throw him sprawling in the briars. Two hooded figures rushed out of nowhere and grabbed Starfire’s reins. Lukus scrambled to his feet and fell in time to be pounced on and rolled up in a blanket.
Rose was too far away by now to hear him over Mystique’s pounding hooves, but she looked over her shoulder to see if he was behind her. “Lukus!” she cried. The moment she turned about, three hooded figures stepped into her way, spooking Mystique off the road to go crashing through a thicket while she hung onto her neck for dear life. As they raced under the limb of an oak, somebody dropped onto Mystique’s back to grab her as she lost her grip. She gave out a throat shredding scream.
“Hush!” cried the somebody, clapping his hand over her mouth. “You’ll scare lean air out of Lukus, and cac too, Princess!”
Directly, she was helped off Mystique by the one who had caught her and by two other hooded men who set to work at once, unwrapping Lukus. “Good for you!” she shouted. “You have us! Now what are you going to do to us? And just how did you know Lukus’s name?”
The three calmed the unicorns and stood quietly before them, faceless as wraiths.
“You’re not from the inn,” she said as they pushed back their hoods.
The middle one smiled at her.
“You’reElves!” she gasped at their pointed ears. “But you don’t exist. You must be an enchantment.”
“Nope,” said the middle one with a bow. “We’re as real as you are. And enchantment would be beyond you, I’m afraid. I’m Danneth and these are my brothers, Strom and Jarund, and we most certainly mean you no harm in the least. In fact, we’re here at your service.”
“Yea?” said Lukus. “And how is stamping on us and rolling us in the blackberry briars the same as serving us?”
“Yes, that was awkward,” said Danneth. “You have lots of energy. It took quite a bit to get you to hold still.”
“Just how many of you arethere? Nine? Twelve?” said Rose.
“We are three only,” said Danneth.
“Now you’re playing us for fools,” she said.
“Not at all,” said Jerund. “We merely move quickly when we must.”
“Rose, they don’t have to let us find out. It’s pointless,” said Lukus, turning to Danneth. “Though it would only be fair if you all at least told us what you stopped us for and just what you are.”
“But Rose saw at once that we are Elves,” said Danneth.
Danneth looked like his brothers to Rose, but where his hair was silvery, Strom’s was metallic golden and Jarund’s was iridescent and black as pitch, far blacker than any black hair she had seen in her life. “They have to be what they claim, Lukus,” she said, turning to the Elves. “I’m convinced that you’re Elves, but telling us that you’re at our service is no explanation at all for your waylaying us.”