Fire Sprites and Glow Lichens

Fire Sprites Homo sapiens luciferestris L. a diminutive and highly luminescent human whose melanin has been replaced by luciferin, the light producing pigment in fireflies. Fire Sprites glow with such intensiy that many who have gotten fleeting glimpses of  them have mistakenly reckoned them to be engulfed in flames, though in daylight their skin is an almost translucent alabaster white. They inhabit the utterly lightless lava tubes of the volcanic formations in the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent. They communicate with one another and with other races of humans almost exclusively with thought projection and extra sensory perception (ESP), reserving their arcane and mysterious language for their singing of eerie aeolian chorals in the echoes of their caverns.


In Elf Killers, Oísín and Doona and their party escape the marauding trolls by hiding in the tunnels of Ubh Ollmhór, where they are rescued by the Sprites and led through the maze of inky black volcanic passages to the grasslands of the Great Strah on the far side of the mountains. 

The Fire Sprites are actually the ones who originally made what becomes known as the Elven Prophecy about the rise of an evil which will seek to take over the world. This prophecy has a part in The Collector Witch, Stone Heart, The Burgeoning, The Reaper Witch  and Doom. 


Glow lichen Cladonia antrolucidus R., is a close relative of the reindeer lichen (reindeer moss) and lives in moist underground caverns. Its fungal symbiont takes up nutrients saprophyticly from the moist cave walls and emits a strong bioluminescence, using the pigment luciferin, which allows its plant symbiont to photosynthesize in turn, releasing sugars to the saprophyte. Glow lichen is common throughout lava tubes in the Pitmaster’s Kettles and in deep cavern systems throughout the southern half of the Northern Continent. Luxuriant growths can light up caverns with their greenish yellow ambience at least as bright as artificially lighted rooms.


Glow lichen lights the caverns of the Magic River in The Collector Witch and the volcanic tunnels of Mount Bed in The Burgeoning. It also illuminates the Fairy underground in The Burgeoning, The Reaper Witch and Doom.





Carol Phipps & Tom Phipps

ESP in Harris’s Hawks and Big Kitties

Years ago, an article in This Week Magazine proved to us that extra sensory perception (ESP) was indeed real. An article in the magazine provided two sets of six cards to cut out, with a colored picture of a different simple object on each card. One person spread out his six cards and stared at any single one of them for one minute. Out of sight in the next room, another person stared at the entire lot of his matching cards for the same minute, then picked out the card which matched the one he felt the person in the other room had been staring at. There were several trials for each pair of people being tested, and scores were kept. The scores showed without a doubt that most of the time I knew what cards my mom and dad were looking at, but I seldom knew what card my brother-in-law was looking at.

From that time on, I was convinced that ESP existed, but I rarely saw instances where it was likely at work. We humans are so feebly endowed with ESP that I did graduate work in Ethology (comparative animal behavior) without once running across a paper about ESP in animals.

Carol and I lived for a short time, out in the sagebrush on the Paiute reservation in Schurz, Nevada. Every day we would turn out our two ravens with clipped wings into the chain-link fenced yard. Once in a while, a Harris’s hawk would alight on the fence and eye the ravens without making a sound. Our ravens would hide at once in their carrier until one of us came out to get them. If we watched from the living room window, the hawk would be joined before long by several others. I soon discovered that they were flying in from all sorts of different directions at once to land on the fence and help stare at the ravens’ box. But what was astonishing was that they arrived from places totally out of sight of one another.

I have carefully watched them assemble in this manner better than twenty times. Without calls of any sort, how could they ever coordinate such a thing? The simplest explanation would be that they scatter widely to scour the countryside and use ESP to converge upon game. I have no proof whatsoever of their using ESP, but it certainly requires a vastly more complicated explanation to describe how they might manage this without ESP.

I also have watched several detailed films which documented prides of lions hunting wildebeest. I grew up driving cattle out in the open, and the striking thing to me about the lions on film is how very much their maneuvers resemble what drovers do, handling cattle. Most of a drover’s work is indeed independent of other drovers, but there is inescapably calling back and forth to make certain that a given cow is turned before she gets away. Lions don’t call back and forth during their hunt. If they ever had so much as our feeble ESP ability in the distant past, I would think that Nature might just select to enhance it for the sake of their survival, wouldn’t you?  


Tandem Bicycle as a Writing Tool

When I was really little, my mom told me that somewhere there was a little girl who was going to be my wife. When I was fifteen, I got carried away and drew her. Years later when I met Carol, I had this eerie feeling that I already knew her.

We were married at once. When I was helping her move her things in, I was stopped short by the sight of a photograph. “Who on earth is that?” I said.

“Why that’s me, when I was a senior in high school,” she said, looking puzzled.

“Well, the reason for my stupid remark is that the picture happens to be the very drawing I made once of the girl of my dreams, only it’s a photograph!”

We commemorated our wedding by buying the tandem bicycle which we still ride in the morning on the days when we do our best writing. Some things do indeed work better together than separate, don’t you think?

 Tom Phipps