Category Archives: fairies

The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 9

The Mysterious Magic Hat

When Mickey and I heard that we were going to use the Magic Hat, Mickey got really excited.  It was his turn to put on the ceremonial robe and bring out the hat.

“So, you do have the Magic Hat?” the girl Derfentwinkle asked while frowning.

“You know about that?  What did Bluebottom tell you about it?”

“Nothing.  But I read it in a letter he was writing.  It’s a rare magic item that used to belong to Dezmodotto the Scroll and Sword Wizard.  He believed you got hold of it when Dezmodotto died.”

“When Bluebottom killed him, you mean.”

“I didn’t know that part, but yes.”

“Everything that Derfie just said is true.  Master Eli, however…” began Kack.

“Shut up, Kackenfurchtbar!” ordered Master Eli.

Meanwhile, Mickey had run to the vault-closet, used the key, and came back wearing the red apprentice robe and carrying the red, conical Magic Hat.

“I did it, Master!  I brought the hat, and it didn’t turn me into a pigeon, and it didn’t suck out all my brainpower and make me stupid.”

“You mean it didn’t make you more stupid,” said Master Eli with a chuckle.

“Yes… um, I guess so.”  Mickey put the hat on the floor between Master Eli and Derfentwinkle. 

The hat itself was impressive.  It was tall and stiff and red… covered with golden-yellow sigils and symbols.

Master Eli picked it up and immediately pulled another hat out of it.  Another exact copy of the original hat.

“Here, Derf.  Put this on your pointy head.”

“What is it going to do?  Sort me into the proper house in the castle?”

“Ha!  No!  It’s good that you know about Slow Ones’ children’s literature, especially all the way from England.  But this hat will judge whether you are evil or not.  It may empty all the magic out of your head.  Or it may turn you into a pigeon.  I am interested to see.”

He put one of the two copies of the hat on Derfentwinkle’s head.  Then he put the other on Mickey’s head.

“Why on my head?”  Mickey squeaked.

“Because there may be secrets and spells that can alter the brain, and I don’t want them transferred into my head.”

Mickey looked at Derfentwinkle with horrified eyes.

“I know it is your turn to be the apprentice for this,” I told Mickey.  “But if you are afraid, I will take the hat… if you need me to.”

“No, quiet boy.  There won’t be anything that the mouse-boy won’t like.  He’ll be okay.”  She looked at me with what I hoped was a trustworthy look.

The hat on Derfentwinkle’s head began to hum… sort of.  And at the same time Mickey’s eyes began to cross.

“MMMM!  There it is!  The sex magics!” crowed Mickey as his rat tail began to stiffen and twirl in small circles behind him.

Derfentwinkle appeared to be in pain.  She dropped the plastic bottle containing the bottle imp, and held her stomach with both arms as if that’s where it hurt the most.  I was concerned for her.  Especially when her eyes dilated and she seemed to be staring through all of us with black orbs for eyes.

Then, mercifully, it all came to a stop.

“Aw, no!  Where did the sex magics go?  They were right here in my head.  I knew how to do wonderful things.”

“Mickey, the hat absorbed all the evil spells.  And then it recorded all the good ones.  Just like it was meant to do,” said Master Eli.

“Oh, but I wanted to…”

“What?  What did you want to do?”

“Um… I don’t know.  The Magic Hat took it all out of my head again.”

“Just like it was meant to do.  You were too young for any of that nonsense anyway.”

“Um, I am not feeling well,” said Derfentwinkle.  “Can I lie down and sleep a little?”

She began to topple over, and I caught her up in both arms.  She was really rather light to carry for a girl who was actually slightly taller than me.

“Well, the poor girl has just been through a wringer,” Master Eli said. 

“Do I lay her down in the Harpy cage?” I asked, looking sadly at her unconscious face.”

“No, Bob.  Take her to your bed… um, on second thought, take her to my bed.  Let her sleep on the soft mattress there.  But stay next to her.  If she tries to escape or do something evil, you will need to kill her.  But don’t get blood on my nice blankets.”

“How will she do evil in this state?” I asked.

“Oh, she won’t.  Most likely you will just need to guard her and make her comfortable.  If she has the wizard-skill I think she does, then she is going to be a very valuable property.  So, be kind and take good care of her.

“Why does Bob get to do that good stuff, and not me?” complained Mickey.

“Because, although he’s not very bright.  He’s smarter than you are, Mickey.” The stinky little wererat grumbled darkly as I carried the limp girl up the stair to the upper tower and gently placed her on master’s nice, soft bed.

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Filed under Paffooney, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, magic, fairies

A Walk in the Park

We have across the street from our house an extensive green-belt park. It meanders through the city along a controlled and, often, brick-walled creek. It is really a portion of the city’s drainage system that prevents more of the horrible flooding that occurred in Texas cities in the 1980’s and 1990’s, As you can see, if you need to exercise for your heart-and-joint health, it is a perfect spot for a nice, long walk and think. So, today I am thinking about what I walked and thought about.

Mini-Wizards

I started my walk thinking about my current work in progress. It is called The Necromancer’s Apprentice. And it is a story about a fairy society filled with tiny, three-inch-tall magical people. They live in a castle-city made from a living, hollow willow tree. The city is under attack by an evil Necromancer (a death-wizard) who wants something unknown from the wizards in the city. Eli Tragedy is a sorcerer representing the good guys. He has two apprentices already, quiet Bob and chaotic Mickey the were-rat. And he captures the necromancer’s apprentice, and instead of killing her like his superiors want, he makes her into his own third apprentice. He’s a good wizard because he helps students learn and values them as people. The bad guy is the opposite. He is evil because he’s focussed on his own power and wealth, and he’s wasteful of the lives and suffering of others. So, in many ways, he is like a Republican politician in the real world.

The Great Books You Have Read Make You Who You Are

So, I began thinking about what the necromancer’s favorite great work of literature is. Obviously, it would be former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s favorite book, Atlas Shrugged. In that book, the hero John Galt asserts the notion that only certain people, creative types like himself and Ayn Rand and, presumably, Paul Ryan have the right to design the proper life for everybody. And they are capable of doing anything and getting away with it for the reason that it is in the best interests of everybody, even if it kills the poor and other lesser people.

This recognized classic book of fiction supporting a selfish philosophy is the reason why we have things like Reaganomics, Trump tax cuts, and border walls. The perfect explanation to certain readers of, “All the reasons why I should turn to evil.” It obviously is a book read and loved by not only Paul Ryan, but other important weasels in charge of everything like Senator Ted “Cancun” Cruz, Senator Mitch “Turtle Man” McConnell, and former Presidential Advisor Steve “The Human Sweat-stain” Bannon.

A good wizard (or Sorcerer) would have read and been influenced more probably by some of the great books of Uncle Boz, um, I mean, Charles Dickens. His is a much gentler and more generous philosophy which finds value in forlorn and mislaid individuals like Sydney Carton, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, or Tiny Tim. I know these books of magic are the ones I choose to battle evil wizards in my own life.

So, if great books made me, perhaps I can write my great book with heroes influenced by Dickens and villains influenced by Ayn Rand.

The Final Turn of the Park’s Sidewalk

As I head homeward from my walk in the park, I have two things gained from the exercise. My legs and back are very tired. And my head is boiling over with things I need to write.down.

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Filed under art criticism, book reports, fairies, humor, magic, philosophy, quotes

More Fairy Nonsense

Yes, in writing a story about fairies set in Fairyland, I am starting to see fairies everywhere. And I am sorta doing that to myself. Here is yesterday’s art project.

Pen and ink and paper, pasted on cardboard, with colored pencils.

Using Stacy and Ricky, dolls, scissors, glue, all things I already have plenty of.

Stacysparkle

Rickyflutter

They meet and share some Pixie Dust.

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Moldy Old the Story’s Told

Yes, I am old. I am not merely feeling old as school teachers do at the end of a school day, I am retired, I am on Medicare, and I am literally an old man. I am even old enough and mature enough to know what the word “literally” actually means and use it correctly in a sentence.

I don’t hear things as well as I used to. I don’t see as well as I once did. Being partially red and green colorblind, I don’t see colors as vividly as I used to. I have learned why old goobers like me let their glasses ride low over their nose. You can look over your glasses at the things around you that you don’t really want to see.

As an author of highly imaginative nonsense, I am really beginning to understand why “dirty old man” jokes are a thing. Writing a fairy story has led me to draw and write about a bunch of nude fairies. It isn’t really so much a sexual-perversion thing as it is a memory of and a longing for something that I no longer have in my life. It’s also the same sort of mental quirkiness as the “being a nudist” thing. I am not interested in the ugly pornographic sort of things, more the innocent, pristine, and long-gone things of youth.

And I see things that I know aren’t really there. Eyes staring at me from the bushes at night. Fairies flitting around the autumn leaves on bug wings. The back half of a ghost dog walking out the back door of the house even though the door isn’t open. I would doubt that I have ever seen a UFO if it weren’t for the fact that I was younger for the first two and my eldest son was with me and saw the third one too.

So, I admit that I have become a crazy old coot. But the best thing about being an old coot is the fact that I have earned it. I worked hard for a lifetime. I taught English competently for thirty-one years. I successfully raised three kids to adulthood. I have been a stable and useful part of society for more than forty years. So, I earned my crazy old cootishness. And I mean to enjoy it while I still have it.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, fairies, humor, oldies, Paffooney

The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 8

Several Moments of Truth

I could tell when Master Eli handed me the bottle imp that used to be my friend Kack, that Kack was no longer trapped in a severed head.  He was now a free-floating intelligent smoke trapped in a bottle made of some Slow-One’s special substance.  It was not real magic because it did not make my magic-sense tingle.  It was some kind of trick with Slow-One chemicals.

“So, Miss Derfentwinkle, tell us about yourself.  And keep in mind your “Horrible Poop” friend will now tell us instantly if you are telling a lie.”  Master Eli was looking at me with one eye opened wider than the other.

“Yeah, um…  I am Derfentwinkle.  I am the servant of an evil necromancer.”

“Do you like working for a necromancer?” Bob, the quiet boy, said.

“I hate it.  I hate Kronomarke.  He’s cruel, and he sent me on a suicide mission to get me killed intentionally.”

I swirled Kack around in his bottle.

“That is perfectly true… every word,” said Kack.

“Do you like me?” asked the weird mouse-boy.

“I find you mildly disgusting, but it was entertaining when Bob knocked you out.”

The quiet boy chuckled softly when I said that.  I am not sure, but I think Master Eli did too.

“Would you be willing to betray your former master?” Master Eli asked.

“I would do so quickly and efficiently and deeply enjoy it.”

Master Eli grinned at me at that answer.

“So, is that true too, Kackenfurchtbar?” asked Bob.

“Derfie almost never tells a lie, but, sadly… this is not entirely honest.”

“What?  You won’t really betray him?”

“She can’t.  People she loves have their lives in his evil hands.  But her heart is set against the necromancer, and she would betray him happily if she could.”

“Ah, I expected as much from old Bluebottom,” said Master Eli.

“So, are you going to kill me, then?” I asked, feeling doomed.

“Oh, no.  Of course not.  But I am not going to let you go either.  You belong to me now.  I expect I will hang onto you for a few years now.”

“As a sex slave?” asked the mouse-boy with an ugly smirk on his mouse-face.

“No.  She’s free to fall in love with you, Mickey.  But she’s also allowed to hate you if that’s how she really feels.”

The mouse-boy hung his stupid mouse head in shame at that reproach.

“Tell me, young lady, do know any of the spells used by your former master?”

“I don’t think I have any magical skills, and I know I don’t know any spells.”

“Not completely true,” blurted Kack.

I gave the bottle a violent shake.  His floating eyeballs bounced off each other in the smoke.

“You probably know a lot more than you realize,” said Master Eli.  “I heard those two crows claim to be your familiars.  Not fairy-sized birds, but normal-sized crows.  That takes a lot more real magic than you should be capable of.”  He was grinning at me even more now.

“Does your evil master know about the crow familiars?” asked quiet Bob.

“I just found out myself.  I don’t think he knows.  But I’m sure Kack will tell you I’m lying about that too.”

“She is not lying about any of that,” Kack said.  So, I gave him another violent shake.

“Wait a minute,” said the mouse-boy.  “Why does she get a familiar when you, me, and Bob don’t, Master Eli?”

“Well, Mickey, a wizard is different than a sorcerer.”

I immediately thought a lecture was coming on.  Something about wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers makes them want to explain every little detail in one long-winded speech.

“Wizards, you see, are different than we are.  They get their magic from books and scrolls and head-knowledge.  They have to study to get their magic working.  They have evolved the ability to have so much head-knowledge that they eventually need another head to put it in.  Thus, their minds invade and meld with an animal familiar, usually a fairy cat, fairy bird, spider, or some other fsairy-sized creature.  I have never known a fairy wizard to have a full-sized animal familiar that was bigger than they were.”

I totally nailed it about the lecture thing.  This guy was just as boring as old Kronomarke.  Except he wore bright red smart-guy robes which were much more interesting than Kronomarke’s usual black robes.

“So, why don’t sorcerers have familiars?” genius mouse-boy just had to ask.

“Because our magic is different.  Our magic is not head-knowledge.  It is more from the gut.  Intuition over intelligence.  We pull magic out of our passions, our feelings, our natural insights…”

“Our sexual abilities?” mouse-boy attempted to add.

“No, Mickey.  And that kind of thinking can get you killed around a necromancer.  Derfentwinkle’s magic comes from a wizarding-way that draws on life and death.  She may know Succubus spells that can drain the lifeforce out of you and leave you a withered husk.”

Dang!  There went any chance to use that trick!  Mouse-boy might not get it, but Bob just learned what to look out for, and he didn’t seem to miss anything that was said.

“So, you still haven’t said why we don’t have no familiars?”

“Ah, Mickey.  Such a stupid child.  At least you were bright enough to put on pants this morning.”

“He is right, though, Master.  You still haven’t explained why…” Bob said.

“Ah, yes.  Although you would be smarter with pants on, Bob, you are right.  Sorcerers don’t need familiars.  They draw spell energy directly from the ether, and don’t pass it through the brain of any creature.  Not even their own brain.  They apply it directly to the target.  That’s why we use wands and staves and such rather than saying a lot of spell words and wiggling our fingers.”

“Oh.  Thank you master.  That was a very useful lesson,” Bob said with a cute little smile.

“So, Derfentwinkle, has your master shown you any spells, or made you read any books?” Master Eli asked me.

“No.  Of course not.  All the magic he gave me was inside Kack’s stupid little demon head.”

“She’s not telling you the whole truth.  She has seen the Evil Master cast spells and heard the words he used to do them.  And she read some of the books over the Evil Master’s shoulder.”

“Thank you, Kack.  I wanted them to know that, but I couldn’t tell them because of one of Kronomarke’s spells.”

“She is telling the truth about that.”

Master Eli’s face split with a huge grin.  “Very good, then.  I think it is about time I employed the Magic Hat.”

I had no idea what that meant.  But I knew it might be dreadful.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 7

Where Only Harpies Had Been Before

I hated having to lead the girl, Derfentwinkle I think her name was, on a leash like a fairy-dog or a June beetle.  It was cruel.  But I also wanted her to live even though we were supposed to kill her.

But the girl was quiet and never once tried to resist being led.  We took her to the magic lab where the Harpy cage was kept.  

Harpies are foul creatures, among the worst of the gobbulun hordes in the Unseely Court.  The one we held as prisoner for a week, Queen Duurt was her name, spread bad smells all around the cage. She kept trying to get hold of Mickey every single time he was tasked with feeding her.  I’m sure if he hadn’t been quick enough at dropping the food into the cage, she’d have caught him by a wererat paw and pulled him close enough to bite his head.  I was glad when they executed her and put her in the cookpots.  She didn’t even make good meat to feed to the fairy creatures we kept as pets. 

“Eeuw!  This place smells horrible,” the girl said as Master Eli prodded her to go into the cage.

“You probably won’t be in there very long,” Master Eli said.  “If you are no smarter than I think you are and don’t know anything about the necromancer’s lair, then we’ll have you cut up and boiling in the cookpots before you have time to get used to the smell.”

She looked at him with a hard stare that gave me neck prickles like a good ghost story told by a creepy bard.

“Master?  Are we allowed to take her out of the cage sometimes?” Mickey asked.

“Learning magical sex positions?” I asked Mickey.

“She’s a dark one’s plaything, Mickey.  You let her out, she’ll probably eat you rather than make love to you.”

“So, does that mean I have permission?”

“Knock yourself out, kid.”

Of course, Master Eli didn’t really mean that.  He just had that kind of sense of humor.  He would expect me to stop Mickey from doing detestable things.

“And, Bob, since you will be the one cleaning the mess up when something goes wrong… Be sure they are both dead before you turn them into beetle chow.”

“Yes, sir.”  That part he probably did mean.

Master Eli left the room before I had secured the lock on the cage.  Mickey was looking at me with that pathetic beg-eye of his.

“No, Mickey.  You can not take her out and do bad things to her.”

“Why not, Bob?  We don’t get many chances to learn about sex.”

“Because she’s a Sylph just like us. And she has to be treated with the respect due to a young lady.  Not used as your dirty plaything.”

“Bob, I’m sorry you’re not very smart.  I know we have to make allowances for you not being old enough to understand about physical love.”

“Mickey, we can’t because…”

“Really?” she said through the bars.  “If the mouse-man wants to kiss me, I’m okay with that.”

“Oh, wow!” cried Mickey as he lunged for the cage, puckered lips leading the way.

I quickly grabbed the Mickey-stick that Master Eli left in the lab for just this very reason, and I hit him as hard as I could in the back of the head, laying him out cold on the floor… out of reach from the cage by mere inches.

“What did you do that for, quiet boy.”

“For his own good.  You were going to grab him and possibly kill him trying to get out of the cage.”

“Why do you let them tell you that you’re not smart?  You are too smart for me.  Take your clothes off and come over to the bars, and I will happily give you what the mouse wanted.  No tricks, either.  I need some of that before you all kill me.”

“I only do what the master tells me to do.  He’s a powerful sorcerer, and he knows how to handle tricky prisoners like you.”

She looked down at the floor of the cage, and I thought I saw tears forming in the corners of her dark eyes.

“You know the Master won’t kill you if you tell him what he wants to know about the necromancer.”

“Oh, I intend to tell him everything and then some.  I do not love the Lord who sent me here to die.  But I have no confidence that you won’t kill me anyway.”’

“No, he wouldn’t do that.  The master does not deal with others in any openly cruel manner.  He wants you for some reason more than just what you can tell him about your evil master.”

“What happened to the last prisoner that was in this cage?”

I didn’t really want to tell her about Duurt.  That was a five-inch-tall monster with no redeemable qualities.

“We cut her up and boiled her to make pet food.  She was an evil Harpy, and she killed many fairies before we captured her.”

“How do you know I am not evil like that?  Or maybe I killed lots of people too.”

“You are not.  I can tell just by looking.”

She looked at me with those dark eyes.  It made my neck hairs prickle again, ever so slightly.

“You are cute, quiet boy.  I’d be willing to tell you anything you want to know.”

“Really?  Why did you attack Cair Tellos, then?”

“No choice.  Kronomarke forced me to.”

“Even though you knew it was a suicide mission?”

“There are others whose lives mean more to me than my own, and he has power over them.”

“And he won’t hurt them after you are dead?”

At that moment Mickey groaned and sat up, rubbing his sore head.  “Why’d you do that, Bob?”

“I was hoping to convince you to help me save them.  But that was before I knew that everyone was a court jester in Cair Tellos,” she said to me, ignoring Mickey.

Before I could reply to either of them, Master Eli came back into the lab with a plastic bottle, one that was a stolen piece from the doll house of the old lady who lived on the eastern edge of the Slow Ones’ town.  The bottle was filled with smoke.  And two reddish eyes peered at us through the smoke in the bottle.

Master Eli gave the bottle directly to the girl.

“What’s this?”

“That’s Kackenfurchtbar, turned into a bottle imp by alchemy.  Did you know his name translates to “Horrible Poop?”

“Hmm, well, he is a demon.  It would have to mean something pretty icky.”

“Why did you give that demon back to her?”  I asked.

“Because I control it by his demon’s name now.  And it is technically transformed into a lie-detector for the time being.  As long as it is in the cage with her, she cannot tell us a lie without it telling us the truth of it.”

“Oh, crumbs!”  she said softly, while still being emphatic enough to deserve an exclamation point when I wrote about it in my journal later.

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Hidden Kingdom… Chapter 2 Complete

Here is the link to the complete Chapter 1https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 6

The Cage

They put one of those magic-absorbing collars around my neck and tied a leash to it.  Then they gave the leash over to the quiet boy in the blue jerkin while the mouse-boy and the gnarled old sorcerer tied my hands behind my back.

“So, can we learn sex magic by using this captive?” said the rather loud and obnoxious mouse-boy.

“Shut up, Mickey,” said the sorcerer.  “There’s no such thing as sex magic.”

Of course, the sorcerer was wrong about that.  I had learned necromantic sex magic from the necromancer.  He had taught me the life-force-sucking kiss spell from the goblins he let me suck dry to practice.  He also taught me the full-body magic transfer.  If the sorcerer knew that, it must’ve been the reason he lied to the mouse-boy.

The quiet boy led me by the leash, but only very carefully, not trying to jerk me forward or make the leash hurt me.  He had golden hair and the prettiest blue eyes I had ever seen on a Sylph boy.  His blue jerkin had a sign sewn to the front that read, “Never kick the apprentice if the master is near.”  He wasn’t wearing pants under the jerkin, only a white loin cover that he apparently had tucked in carefully.  I admired his firm, round buttocks.  But, of course, I wasn’t about to tell him that.

They took me into the castle in the willow tree.  And my mouth surely dropped open at the sight.  It was beautiful. 

The iron gate was built into the roots of the tree with gatehouse towers carved directly out of the willow wood.  But, no… not carved… shaped by magic, as I sensed with my magic tingle.

The inner court was all carved wood, as the willow was practically hollow all the way up to where the limbs branched away into the darkness above.  The numerous stairs, landings, walkways, and castle-room facades were all lit by fairy candles which were both small, and exceedingly bright.

“This is our home, Derfentwinkle,” said the quiet boy.

He knew my name?  And that was how the sorcerer took my power over Kack, the Demon Head, away from me.  I resolved to learn their names next.  I knew the mouse-boy was Mickey.

“It’s nothing like the mudhole where I live,” I said.  “What is your name, quiet boy?”

“Don’t tell her, Bob.  She doesn’t need to know it.”

“Shut up, Mickey.  My name is Bob.  As the wererat just told you.”  He smiled at me, and a thrill went down my spine.

The sorcerer led us all up a winding stair that led to an audience chamber.  There was a big, burly Sylph sitting on the throne, but he was no mere warrior-king.  The pentagram on his chest glittered with magical energy.  I got a powerful tingle from it.  He was definitely a wizard… and definitely the boss here.  Why was he sitting on the throne of Wotan, the deceased Erlking?

The sorcerer then pulled me in front of him.

“This girl is Derfentwinkle, the necromancer’s apprentice.  It turns out that her master is old Bluebottom, my former classmate, better known to you as Kronomarke, waster of time and slayer of the Good Knight Pollinard.”

“She was driving the bone-walker?”

“Yes, with the help of a severed demon head to use as a repository of her master’s magic.”

“And why haven’t you killed her yet, Eli?”

The question chilled me to the bone.  The wizard’s guards stepped forward, lowering their halberds.

“Because I chose not to.  She’s my captive.  I choose to keep her for whatever usefulness she might have.  She knows little magic and is not a danger to us.”

“I hope you are right about that, Eli Tragedy.  Your very name means you can be disastrously wrong.”

“She’s really quite plain-looking, ugly even…” remarked a fat, bug-like Pixie courtier.

I glared at him until he turned his stupid bug eyes towards his fat ladybug wife.

“Very well, then.  But keep her safely in the cage you built to hold the harpy Sir Launcelot captured during the last siege.”

Up to that point, I had believed I could escape any time I really wanted to.  But a cage built to hold a harpy?  I would never escape that with lockpicking skills.  And what if the harpy was still inside? 

My mind was made up, however.  If they weren’t going to kill me immediately, then I didn’t intend to escape.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 5

Mickey’s Little Gambit

We had to walk for a considerable distance in the leafy, greenish-blue shade of the soybean field until we located the errant skull.  We were not alone of course.  Master Eli recruited a half-dozen Gingerbreads as scouts to help us locate the thing and make sure the bone-walker’s pilot didn’t escape alive.

Gingerbreads, as I’m sure you probably already know, are actually fairy golems.  Their bodies are gingerbread-boy-and-gingerbread-girl cookies baked by the cook-witch Gretel, Anneliese’s mother.  The souls that inhabit the cookie-bodies are the spirits of children murdered in Nazi death camps during a slow-one event apparently known as Were-Wore Two over in what the fairies call the Continent of Cernunnos the Horned One and Wotan the Wise.  They were gingerbread-cookie fairies that, if any animal or slow one bit a bite out of them, could immediately grow it back from the stores of magical gingerbread dough stored in Cair Tellos.

It was a gingerbread boy named Johan that located the skull and took us straight to it.

It was Master Eli Tragedy, Mickey the Wererat, and me that moved to surround the skull and its occupants with the six gingerbreads.

But I caught my breath when I saw her.  It wasn’t a little green wartole, or one-eyed Cyclopes that had been piloting the bone-walker, but a nude, young Sylph girl, holding what looked like a demon skull and talking to a pair of full-sized crows.

“So, what’s going on here?” roared Master Eli.  “You are not a Gobbulun!”

“Call me later, Derfy!  I can hear your thoughts.  Gotta fly now!” said one of the two crows as they both turned and flapped away.

The girl turned to look at us.  Her eyes were cold and gray, but they were also streaming with tears.

Eli pointed his magic wand at her with his finger tightly on the trigger.  “Confess, child.  How did the necromancer come to send the likes of you?”

“You are going to kill me anyway.  So, why should I tell you anything?”

“How is it that you were able to make a non-magical crow talk?  Your demon-head doesn’t normally have a power like that.  Tell me, or I use the dragonfyre in this wand upon you.”

“I don’t know.”

“What?”

“I said I don’t know.”

Eli lifted the wand higher as if he was going to incinerate her.  But, of course, he wasn’t.  There was only one charge left in the wand, and he wanted to save it.  It was unclear to me if he even had any reloadable charges for it.

“Tell me the name of your little demon head, and I will let you live for a little while longer.”

“No.  I won’t tell you that so you can control the master’s demon head.”

“My name is Kackenfurchtbar.  Please don’t kill my Derfentwinkle.  I love her,” said the demon skull with the broken horn.

I looked at Mickey and he looked at me.  Both of us had our mouths hanging open and our eyes nearly bugged out.

“Kack, why did you…?”

“Kackenfurchtbar, you will now only take commands from me, the great and powerful Sorcerer, Eli Tragedy!”

“Dammit, Kack!”

“Yes, oh, great and powerful Sorcerer, Eli Tragedy.”

“So, now you are finally gonna kill me?” she said softly to Master Eli.

“No, probably not,” said Master Eli.

“Oh, good!  Does that mean we can use her to learn necromantic sexual practices and try them out on her?”

“Don’t be gross, Mickey,” I scolded.

“Mickey, whatever you and Bob decide to do with her on your spare time is between the three of you.  You will not abuse a captive, no matter what else you do.  And you know I give you two very little spare time.”

“Yes, Master,” Mickey said glumly.

“Kackenfurchtbar, what is the name of the necromancer?”

“Kronomarke, Necromancer to the Kingdom of the Valley-Eaters, and servant of the mighty King Stoor.”

“Oh, of course it is.  Old Blue-bottom from Mistress Schulelehrer’s school for cursed youngsters.  I knew the principal should’ve put him to death in the second grade for eating a classmate.”

“You know the necromancer?” I asked.

“Personally?” asked Mickey.

“I had Basic Runes classes with him about six hundred years ago.  Ugliest damned kid in whole cursed school.”

“If you went to school with Kronomarke, why does he hate you so much?” asked the girl.

“Oh, told you about me, did he?  By name?”

“No.”

“Ah, that’s a lie.  My truth spell tells me you know about his oath of vengeance.”

“You don’t have a truth spell.  At least, not active.”

“And how would you know that?”

“My magic tingle wasn’t tingling at any time during this whole encounter.  And the electrical tingle I get is always accurate.”

“So, how could you possibly know that Bluebottom hates me more than any other boy from the whole cursed school?  Are you a mind-reader?”

“Yes.  Pretty much.”

“Kackenfurchtbar?  How did Miss Doofy-Twinkle make that crow talk?”

“The crow claims to be her natural familiar.”

“I see.  She has magical potential herself.  Does Bluebottom know about that?”

“Not that he ever told me.  I was only his fifteenth-best demon-slave when I was alive. And he sent us both on a suicide mission.”

“Ooh!  Can we keep her?  I will feed her and take care of her, and… um, she can even sleep in my bed,” shouted Mickey.

“We will keep her for a while anyway.  I can put her in the iron cage we use for monsters and keep her there for a while.”

“Ooh!  Good, good, good!” crowed Mickey.

“Bob, you, of course, will be in charge of the keys to the cage.  You and Mickey will find out what magic she knows instinctively and write it all down in scrolls.”

“Yes, Master Eli, sir.”

“There you go again with the sir stuff.”  Master Eli smiled at me. 

I took charge of the prisoner, and we headed back to Cair Tellos. The gingerbreads surrounded us to protect us with their peppermint swords.

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Are Fairytales Controversial?

The This is Poppinsparkle, the girl fairy. Paid a fair wage for posing nude for this portrait.

In some versions of Cinderella, her wicked stepsisters, at their wicked mother’s insistence, cut off parts of their feet in order to fit into the glass slipper. And then, the stupid Prince Charmhead doesn’t notice until talking doves and pidgeons point out on the way to Charmhead Castle, “There’s blood in the shoe!”

And of course the Prince is so dense that he goes through this particular ordeal twice with the two wicked stepsisters.

He doesn’t get it right until Cindy puts the slipper on without any blood spurting that gets noticed by talking birds.

Dang! Prince Charmhead is a real dumbhead. What kind of a local ruler would a man be if he picks the love of his life simply because she fits a shoe he likes?

But it is obvious that fairytales, especially the old ones that have been retold by a lot of fairly stupid people and changed with each new teller, deserve most of the criticism they receive.

My current work in progress is a fairytale (in that it is thoroughly infested by many kinds of fairies, mostly the little three-inch-or-smaller kind.) It is called The Necromancer’s Apprentice.

The book is a comedy, meant primarily to entertain and be funny, though. like Shakespeare’s comedies, it is intended to demonstrate themes of romance and love, and how they percolate emotionally in spite of obstacles (and the manipulations of evil fairies.)

But it will undoubtedly get criticized for its exploitation of fairies. Especially young girl fairies who agreed to pose nude for illustrations in the book.

This will not, however, be fully justified. I, as the artist, paid each nude fairy model a fair wage. Sure, it was mostly in pennies. But they are all between two and three inches in height. A penny is heavy and unwieldy for tiny arms to carry. And a penny buys a lot in Gerry-go-Gompert’s General Store for Sylphs, Elves, and Butterfly Children (no Gobbuluns allowed!)

Dollinglammer, also paid her weight in pennies for posing for this picture.

And it you consider the context of a fairytale trying to portray fairies as they really are, you have to remember that Butterfly Children normally don’t wear clothing because it interferes with the flight of delicate butterfly wings. And all forms of actual fairy-kind are immune to heat and cold, and don’t need clothing for those reasons.

On top of that, most fairies believe in naturism and nudism as a healthy lifestyle and don’t object when I write a novel that promotes that idea a little bit.

I was a little worried that this illustration from the book might be viewed as evidence of Sylph abuse. Derfentwinkle is a nude Sylph girl who chooses to be nude all the time. In the contect of the plot, this shows her temporarily imprisoned in the Harpy cage. She is, after all, the Apprentice from the book’s title and the servant of the evil necromancer. The good guys capture her and keep her in this cage until they are sure they can trust her, Derfie herself told me that she didn’t object to this picture since the Sorcerer Eli Trajedy and his apprentices Bob and Mickey treat her better than her master ever did.

So, once I am finished with this book, I am almost certain that it will be just as controversial as Little Red Riding Hood who climbs into Grandma’s bed with a big bad wolf, or Snow White who lives alone in the woods with seven little single men. But controversy can be a good thing for a story. Readers love a lurid tale. Even when the subjects are less than three inches tall.

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