Category Archives: NOVEL WRITING

The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 16

Wayward Butterfly Children

Anneliese’s favorite Gingerbread Boy, Johan of Dusseldorf, found us as we were passing Tornhilda’s Towering Townhouse in the lower part of the castle.

“The Butterfly Child you had me watching is up near the wasp nest asking questions about the Wasprider Cavalry and Captain Bobkin.”

Anneliese frowned at that news.

“Why would she be doing that?” Bob asked me.

I shrugged.  “Was she asking about where to find us?”

“Not unless she was intending to look into the iron spikes that the cavalry uses to make the wasp stingers more deadly to the Unseely Court in order to find you.”  Johan’s peppermint candy eyes were expressionless, so I couldn’t tell if he was joking or being suspicious.  I know I didn’t like the sound of that, and Dolly was my friend.

“Lead us to where you left her,” Anneliese ordered Johan.  Over time, the Gingerbread Boy had developed a more Sylph-like shape to make him faster and more agile than the standard waddling cookie-shaped boy.

We found ourselves quickly climbing upward on the castle’s winding central staircase.  We passed many Pixies with various animal and bug-like shapes.   There were large numbers of Sylphs and Elves and Brownies and Butterfly Children also.  I wondered if anybody had ever counted how many lived in this tree-castle.  Bob had told me that it had an extensive underground city in the roots of the willow tree too.  Could Dolly have been counting them for some reason?

I heard Dolly giggling in that girlish way she did as we reached the topmost landing of the central stair.  She was hanging over the shoulder of an older Sylph grown fat and round with age.  He wore a captain’s uniform that was tight on him because of his generous belly.  He was laughing too, apparently at whatever the two of them had been talking about.

“Ah!  Derfie!  I’ve found you at last!  Have you met Captain Bobkin?  He’s in charge of the military defenses of Cair Tellos.”  Dolly was smiling at me, but I’m not sure I was very quick to smile back.

“Well, well, I know Anneliese and young Bob quite well.  I am even acquainted with Johan the Gingerbread Boy.  But who is this charming Sylph who is the friend of the lovely Dollinglammer?”

“This is Derfentwinkle.  She’s potentially going to be Master Eli Tragedy’s third apprentice,” said Bob, pulling me forward by the hand and placing my hand om the fat fairy captain’s gloved hand.

“Well, aren’t you sweet.”  He kissed me on the cheek.  His handlebar moustache was apparently waxed and felt slightly sticky on my cheek.

“We have all been looking for you, Miss Dollinglammer, since the Wizard Pippen arrested and nearly executed Miss Derfentwinkle, and Bob the Apprentice,” said Anneliese with what I took to be a guarded smile.

“Oh, my!  Are you both okay?  I thought surely the crows would rescue you both!” she said, seemingly surprised.

I wasn’t sure if Dolly was being straight with me, or just pretending.  As far as I knew, she had never lied to me before.  But Kronomarke can make a girl do horrible things whether she wanted to or not… Though I wondered what memories of evil the Magic Hat had removed from my head that made me think that in spite of not remembering.

And when Dolly mentioned Homer and Bert, I finally realized that I could no longer hear their continued presence in my mind or see what they were seeing through my eyes when I attempted to see through theirs.

I whispered in Bob’s ear, “I can’t feel my crow familiars in my mind anymore.”

Bob whispered back, “That was a special instruction that Master Eli gave to Bibby Joon.  No mind can touch yours when you are wearing that cape.”

“Oh.”

I honestly didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  Did they not trust me yet?  Of course, I didn’t trust me either, not knowing how the necromancer had screwed up my mind before I got the cape.

“Well, Dollinglammer, now that we have found you, we need to get you back to Master Eli’s tower where you will be safe.”

“Oh, yeah… okay.” Dolly turned to go into the stairwell leading into Captain Bobkin’s command center. “It’s the other way, Miss,” said Johan politely.  And so we headed down the stair taking us back to the castle.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 15

The Bat-winged Cape

As we walked out of Master Tragedy’s Sorcerer’s tower toward the crafting district of Cair Tellos, I was carrying the huge jar of midnight shadows that Master Eli had given us to have a cape made from for Derfentwinkle.  She was carrying the bottle imp, Kackenfurchtbar, in case I needed to test the truthfulness of what Derfie was telling us.  But once on the stair to the Stitch-Witches’ Fabric and Sewing Shoppe, I turned to Derfie and set the jar down on a wooden step for a moment.

“Um, ah… Derfentwinkle?”

“Yes, Bob?”

“Can I… um… give you… ahem… I mean… would it be okay if I… gave you a…”  I opened my arms before I said the actual words’

“A hug, Bob?”

I nodded silently, and she grabbed me with both arms and pressed my face against her bare bosom.  I felt awkward, but I didn’t pull back.  I put both of my arms around her and squeezed her just as hard.

“Because the Erlking’s Wizard nearly cut our heads off before we ever got a chance to…”

“Hug each other like this?” she finished my sentence.  She used her empty hand to stroke the back of my head.

“Yeah…”

We held each other tightly for a few long minutes.  Then, suddenly, Anneliese was there.

“Ah, Derfentwinkle, I see you’ve discovered how huggable the nicest Sylvan boy in all of Cair Tellos really is.”

“Are you jealous?”

“Of the hug, maybe.  But I can surely share my best boy.”

“Best boy?  Not, boyfriend?” Derfie asked.

“Anne is a Storybook and much older than me,” I said, reluctantly releasing my hold on the necromancer’s apprentice.

“Oh, right.  Old enough to be your mother, I suppose?”

“Or his grandmother,” said Anneliese with a wrinkling of her nose above a puckish grin.  “If you like my almost grandson, then that pleases me.””

“Did you come seeking us?” I asked her.

“Yes, I did.  Master Eli told me where to find you two.  A pretty little Butterfly Child named Dollinglammer has been asking about you in the residential towers.  She seems intent on finding you.  Especially you, Bob,”

“We have to go to the stitch-witches to get a cape made for Derfie.  But if you come with us, you can take us to her afterwards,” I suggested.

“That would be lovely,” Anne said.  “I have been interested to get to know this new Sylph friend of yours, Bob.”

Anneliese, nude as always, was absolutely beautiful.  She had longish blond hair which curled wildly, and she never combed it.  She was shaped like the fourteen-year-old  human girl she was when the Nazis put her to death at Auschwitz.  She was now an immortal Storybook thanks to a story her mother told about her, so her beauty would never fade or change.

She put an arm around my neck as I picked up the jar of shadows, and she put her other arm around Derfie, drawing us both close to her.

“Derfentwinkle, my powers as a Storybook are openness and honesty.  If you ever need to talk to about the shadows that are inside of you, I’m your friend.  I will talk about it with you as honestly as anyone can.  And I say this as a guarantee, I can help you.”

Derfie looked down at the ground as we continued into the shop of the stitch-witches.

Bibby-Joon, the elder stitch-witch met us there.  She was a Pixie with the upper torso of a youthful woman and the abdomen and spider legs of a large spider.

“We will have the cape done for you in a matter of minutes,” Bibby said.  “It will be a very special Batwing Cape just as Master Eli ordered.  It will not only protect you from mind control and influence spells, but it will turn into bat wings on command so you can fly.  And if you wrap it all the way around you while standing in shadow, you will disappear and remain invisible as long as you do not move.”

We came out of the shop with Derfentwinkle wearing her new protective magic cape.

“It looks very becoming on you,” Anneliese told her.

“Kack?  Is the necromancer’s mind control working on Derfie in any way?” I asked the bottle imp just as Master Eli had instructed me.

“No, Bob.  Any evil she does now will be entirely her own doing.”

I think that answer made me frown or something.  Anneliese put a comforting hand on the back of my neck and said, “Don’t worry, Bob.  Everything is as it should be.” Derfie was smiling at the ground.  And I couldn’t help feeling how beautiful she was… to me, at least.  And worrying about how much control that gave her over me.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 14

When You Wish Upon a Broom

I woke up to find myself in the red-velvet interior of one of Master Eli’s coat pockets.  I was obviously considerably smaller than my normal two and a half inches of height.

“I’m sorry, Master.  I know I am not supposed to misuse the Magic Hat.  But I couldn’t help it.  It was there.  And I wanted a girlfriend so badly…”

“Mickey, I don’t even have to punish you.  You’ve already gotten the consequences you deserve.  You can’t have sex with one…”

“Master?  How do I stop these aggressive brooms?” the quiet boy said sounding on the edge of desperation.

“…let alone TWO brooms!  You should have used the animate object spell on one of those limestone statues Dizzyglitter is always carving.  At least they are supposed to look like Sylphs.  What are the brooms’ names, Mickey?”

“Merrydew and Cannabis,” Mickey squeaked.

“Give them new orders by name, Bob.”  The Master’s voice seemed to be suppressing a slight chuckle.

I climbed up to the edge of the pocket and looked out.

“Merrydew, sweep the floors.  Cannabis, alphabetize the potion bottles.”

I saw the two brooms stop chasing Bob and take up their new tasks.  Mickey was laid up on the exam table, his body naked except for fur and a huge bandage on his personal love parts.  I was pretty sure that was the consequences the Master spoke of, but I didn’t want to think about how it came to be.

Then I looked up and saw Master Eli looking down at me and picking me up in his gloved left hand.  He lifted me up in front of his scowling face.

“You, I believe have been a very naughty girl, Derfentwinkle.  What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I am very sorry, Master Eli.  I was always planning to return to your service.  But the crows contacted me by telepathy and told me where to find my friend Dollinglammer.  And she had news of my poor sister.”



“You left with some of the magic given you by the Magic Hat, but none of the training you were supposed to get from me.”

“Are you going to punish me?”

“Well, of course not.  What did a student ever learn from being punished beyond how much they should hate their teacher?  You saw the White Stag inside the hat.  That means you were chosen and must stay with me until your quest is completed.”

“My quest?  Is it to free the village of Mortimer’s

Mudwallow?”

“No, of course not.  I mean, the Stag doesn’t tell me much about the future.  Just that you have a quest and we are tasked with helping you.”

He put me gently down on the cold stone floor, took a vial of purple liquid from one of his other pockets, and sprinkled some on my head.  With dizzying suddenness, I was normal-sized again.

“We need to dress you in an apprentice’s robe like Mickey is supposed to be wearing if the sex-crazed brooms hadn’t torn it off him.”

“No.  I don’t wear clothes.  None of my family ever has.”

“It’s not an option.  You need to wear a protective enchantment, both from Bluebottom’s mind control and Master Pippen’s influence spells.”

“Does it have to be a robe?  Bob doesn’t wear a robe.”

“Do you want an enchanted leather jerkin like Bob wears?  Complete with magical advertising signs for our Sorcery business?”

“No, ah…  can it be a necklace, or a hat?”

“Not to hold the spell powers I will make it with.”

“You can wear your apprentice robe open in the front like I do.  I like to show off my manly abs,” said Mickey.

“I can probably make a cloak or a cape,” Master Eli suggested.

“Why do so many Sylphs prefer to be nude?” quiet Bob asked Master Eli.

“Sylphs are naturally immune to heat and cold, so they don’t need clothing to protect them from those things.  And they like the freedom of movement they have with nothing binding to wear.  They don’t need clothes the way Elves and Slow Ones and Brownies do.  There are even Elves that make magical necklaces, collars, and rings to keep them warm or cool so they can be nude also.”

“But some of us just like to be naked all the time,” I said, not really understanding why Bob didn’t know that already.

Bob was looking at me as I stood there naked in front of him.  He had a shy smile on his cute face.  It gave me an unexpected thrill to realize it.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 13

Angry Wizards Aren’t Good for Your Health

On the way back to the willow castle Bert and Homer were reciting some kind of comedy routine they had seen on some Slow One’s tele-bish-yawn set at what they called the Nurse-Sing Home.  It was something done by two Slow Ones named Cabbit and Klaustello.  It was talking about a bees-ball team.  And the dumb guy, Klaustello wanted to know the name of the guy on first base.  But the other guy didn’t understand the question because the team had stupid names.  And then they both got really mixed up, but the dumb guy got boiling mad about Who’s on First?  It really wasn’t all that funny.

“Why does Klaustello care if the first guy’s name is Who?” Derfentwinkle asked.

“What kind of game is bees-ball anyway?” I asked.

“It is the All-Mermerrican Sport,” said Homer.

“I think they take a bunch of angry bees and make them into a ball to throw at the players of the other team,” said Bert

“And the other team takes their bees-ball bat and try to defend themselves from the stings by swatting the angry ball of bees,” said Homer.

I began to think it was funny when I pictured in my head the expression on the face of the bat when the stupid Slow One grabbed it by the feet and swung it at a ball of bees.

But most of the time, only the two crows thought it was funny.

And then we all landed safely on the roof of Cair Tellos’s main keep.

“Arrest them all immediately!” shouted the Wizard Pippen.  The pentagram on his chest-plate was glowing with bright blue protection magic.

“Not Bob the apprentice.  He’s Master Tragedy’s loyal student,” argued Prinz Flute, the faun-child who was Pippen’s only son.

“If he was supposed to be guarding the prisoner and let her escape, then he deserves the punishment too.  Set up the chopping block right here, right now.”

The crows took off almost instantly.  Dollinglammer used her butterfly wings to follow them before the Sylphs with the halberds could grab her.  But Derfentwinkle and I were both caught.

The Executioner of Cair Tellos in his jet-black hood and black-banded armor set up the wooden chopping block right in front of us.  A guard pushed me down to it so that my neck was against the place on the chopping block carved to fit it.  I was about to really lose my head, and I was not happy about it.

“Father, please, they were returning to the castle.  How do you know that Bob didn’t recapture her, and was bringing her back to us?”

“You are right, son.  We shouldn’t cut his head off first.”

The Sylphs with the halberds picked me up again and forced Derfie down to take my place.

“Here, now!  Those children belong to me.  You overstep your authority in doing this!” shouted Master Eli as he showed up, red-faced and huffing with the effort of his climb up to where we were captured.

“If you punish them yourself, we’ll just end up with more pigeons around here.  What’s the lesson learned from that?  More fat pigeons?”

“A better lesson learned by far than if you cut off their heads.  Students learn nothing without their heads attached.  At least when they have their heads still on there’s a chance of beating sense into them.  Or do you have a head-reattaching spell I don’t know about?”

“Okay, but I won’t have young Sylphs who are supposed to be prisoners flying out of here to go tell my secrets to the evil elves in the swamp.  Or that Bluebottom friend of yours.”

“Oh, believe me.  They will tell me more secrets of his than they will ever tell him about you.”

Then Master Eli tilted a vial of potion over Derfentwinkle’s head, instantly shrinking her down almost to nothing before picking her up and putting her away in a side-pocket of his red overcoat.

“Be warned, Sorcerer.  You are not above suspicion yourself.” Growled the Wizard Pippen.

“Come with me, Bob.  We have lots of work ahead of us.”  Master Eli stormed away from the fuming wizard and I scurried after him with one hand on my recently-threatened neck.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 12

Airborne with Homer and Bert

My heart fell as I saw Bob dropping through the air, destined to splat on the ground like a fallen fruit.  I knew it was my fault and I would fall into despair at the loss.  But, somehow, the two crows knew my every thought.  As Bert carried me off towards the fairy ring near the abandoned barn, Homer dove after Bob, grabbing him by his left foot a mere ten inches above the dirt.

Soon, Homer and Bob were winging next to us, poor Bob hanging upside down by one foot.

“Ah, Derfentwinkle, we meet again,” said Bob.

“I didn’t mean for you to leap off the balcony.  I was going to come back after this temporary escape.”

“My master told me to protect you.  And I knew you wouldn’t let me die.”

“But I didn’t know I had the power to save you!”

“Never fear, Mistress.  Bert and I will always do your bidding the moment you wish it.”  Homer the crow blinked his eye on the side that could see me.

“Which one of you is actually my familiar?” I asked.

“We both are equally.  I wrote a contract and Bert signed it.”

“No, we didn’t… that I can remember,” said Bert.

“Don’t you remember?  I wrote it in the mud on the riverbank.  You signed it with your bill.”

“No, I didn’t.  I was digging for a worm.  Besides, that wasn’t writing.  It was just random scratches in the mud.”

“You don’t know the truth of it because you can’t read.”

“Well, yes.  But you can’t read either.”

“What’s your point?”

“Okay, stop arguing,” I said.  “You are both my familiar, I guess.  And you can read if you look at the writing and let me see it through your eyes.”

“Oh, good, that makes me feel smarter already,” said Bert.

“Your crows are funny,” said Bob.

It wasn’t far as the crow flies.  I hope that is something I can say at this point because I know that is used so often it becomes meaningless.  But it was literally only a mile and a half north of the willow castle, and we were flying in a straight line as crows do, and we were in the grasp of literal crows.  Not literate crows, mind you, but literal ones.

“So, you kidnapped me to bring us to a bovine sanctuary on a Slow One’s private kingdom?” Bob asked.

“I didn’t kidnap you… intentionally.  I was going to meet my contact here, but I had always planned to return to my captivity with Master Eli… and you.”

It was embarrassing to even hint to him that I admired the shape of his buttocks… and his gentle, quiet ways.  You must understand… I liked him in more than one way.

Circling to the northeast of the ruined barn, we came down next to the fairy ring of white toadstools.  Homer dropped me on my feet.  Bert dropped poor Bob on his head.

She was there to meet me already.  Dollinglammer was a raven—haired butterfly child with beautiful blue, black, and green wings.

“Derfentwinkle!  You’re alive!” she exclaimed with a surprised smile.

“Yes, and I am more than a little lucky that it is so.”

“How did you get the birds to bring you here?  Necromancy?”

“No.  I somehow seem to have acquired wizarding skills on this adventure.  The birds are my familiars.”

“You’re kidding!  And who is this lovely lad you have brought me?”

Bob walked up beside me, expecting, I believe, to be introduced.

“Dollinglammer of Mortimer’s Mudwallow, meet Bob, the apprentice of the powerful Sorcerer Eli Tragedy.”

“Sorcerer?  Really?  As powerful as the lamented Yens Sidd?”

“I really don’t yet know the answer to that,” I said with a sigh.  “What do you think, Bob?”

“I don’t know the sorcerer you speak of.  And Master Eli is, as you have seen, more a master of parlor tricks, Slow One Lore, and chemistry than actual sorcerous magics.”

“Still, he’s powerful in the way of treating people better than they probably deserve.”

“You only say that because you have never yet been turned into a pigeon by him.”

“Pigeon?  Where?  I hate pigeons!” declared Bert.

“Why are we meeting here?  Be honest with me,” Bob pleaded.

“Derfentwinkle was taken by the evil necromancer.  The one who slew Master Yens.  We are part of a plot to drive him out of our village of Mortimer’s Mudwallow.”  Dollinglammer put a hand on each of Bob’s shoulders and looked him squarely in the eyes.  “Derfie sacrificed herself to try and free her sister from the villain’s clutches.”

“And I failed, Bob.  I would’ve had to destroy Cair Tellos to succeed and free her.  And all I could manage was to get captured.”

I let the tears flow at the thought of what Kronomarke was probably doing to poor Poppensparkle.

“So, what’s the next part of your plan?” Bob asked.  He was looking at me with smiling eyes, as if he were amused by our plight.

“We don’t have a next part of the plan.  I thought I would only make this meeting if, by some miracle, I actually succeeded in destroying Cair Tellos.  I really thought I would be dead by this point.”

“We shall have to think of something,” Bob said with a smile.  I couldn’t believe what a kind and helpful boy Bob was.

“When we need a plan, we take wing and just fly by the seat of our pants, Bert and I,” declared Homer.

“Homer, we never wear pants.”

“We never make plans either, so what’s your point?”

“My boyfriend, Torchy, had a suggestion,” offered Dollie.

“Really?  That Fire Wisp?  He’s your boyfriend now?”

“Derfie, he’s a good boyfriend.  And he used to live in Cair Tellos.”

“Oh, I know… I just don’t want you to get burned in the relationship.”

“He has his powers under better control than most Wisps.”

“I remember Torchy.  He’s a relative of the great Wisp hero Gariss the Overheated,” said Bob.  “So, what was his plan?”

“He knows a Slow One that could help us.”

“No way!” I said.

“Let’s all go back to Cair Tellos and talk it all over with Master Eli,” suggested Bob.

“Even me?” asked Dollinglammer.

“Especially you with Torchy’s plan.  Master Eli was always fond of the way Torchy would burn up things the Master didn’t want around anymore.”

It was settled then.  Homer and Bert would take me back to my prison with a glimmer of hope that someone might actually help me for a change.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 11

In a Bed with Bob

She was not hard to care for as she slept.  She didn’t snore loudly enough to hear.  In fact, I leaned in close to her mouth and nose about three times to make certain she had not simply stopped breathing.  I was ready with water and food that I had made Mickey get so I could stay close to her and tend to any needs that she may have had.

Her body, which I cleaned gently with a moist rag, was perfectly formed for an adolescent Sylph.  She had no wings to worry about.  No scars.  No tattoos.  No insect appendages or patches of mouse fur…

“Bob, what are you looking at?”

I sat up with a start at her unexpected question.  Then I supposed I must’ve turned red in the face, since I had been admiring her most private parts.

“Um, I…”

“You were thinking about me the same way Mickey does, right?  About having your way with me?”

“Oh, no, I…”

“If you really want to take me now, no one is here to stop you.:

That made me slightly offended and defensive. 

“I would never.  On my honor…”

Her eyes were leaking tears again.  “You treat me better than I deserve.  I was sent here to kill you.”

“Kill me?  The necromancer said Kill Bob?  Specifically?”

“Well, no… not specifically you.”

She began looking around at Master Eli’s sleeping chamber.  It was, of course, completely different than any typical room in a Fairy Castle.  It had many things in it that could only be acquired by stealing directly from the homes of Slow Ones.

“What kind of bed is this?” she asked.

“It is what the Slow Ones call a doll bed from a doll house that belongs to a Slow One known as Grandma Elizabeth Sears.  She lives in a medium-sized Slow-One’s fortress on the Eastern side of the Hamlet of Norwall.”

“Whatever is a doll house?”

“Oh, it’s a toy for little Slow Ones.  It is a small version of what is meant to be a domicile for full-sized Slow Ones.”

“And how did this toy bed come to be here?”

“Grandma Elizabeth gave it to Master Eli.  She is old and has dementia, so when she tells other Slow Ones that she talks to fairies, they don’t believe her.  But the Master returns kindness for kindness with her.  He gives her potions that improve her eyesight and help to fix her mostly broken mind. He steals those potions from things the Slow Ones call medicine cabinets.

“This Master Eli of yours is a much nicer master than mine was.”

I looked at her in a way I hoped was reassuring and said, “I can’t say this officially yet, but I think Master Eli wants to take you on as an apprentice along with Mickey and me.”

“Why would he want to do that?”

“You passed all his tests, including the Magic Hat.”

A smile flickered briefly across her face.  I had never seen her smile before, so I wasn’t sure if it was real or not.  But it gave me hope.

“Why have you been so kind to me, Bob?  Do you want sex like Mickey does?”

“Um… no.  I only do what the master asks me to.  But I like being kind to you.  I think you are good at heart.  And I want to be your friend…  Mickey brought food and drink up here at my request.  Are you hungry?”

She looked at the dandelion leaves, honeybee sandwiches, and marmalade.  “No, not really.”

“Anneliese will be bringing gingerbread later.  And I want you to meet her.  She’s a beautiful immortal Storybook.”

“Storybook Fairies are real?  I thought they were a myth.”

“Oh, no.  They are very real.  Besides Anneliese and her mother, General Tuffaney Swift lives here.  And Silky the Chestnut Fairy, and sometimes Ariel the Mermaid visits.  They are all very real.”

“Am I a prisoner here?  Or can I go out in the sunlight?”

“I can find out fairly quickly.  Hansel!  Come here, please.”

The gingerbread boy assigned to the tower as the gofer, came in the bedroom at my call.

“Yes, Bob.  What are my orders?”

“Ask Master Eli if I can take Derfentwinkle out into the sunshine.”

“Right away, Bob.”

He disappeared out into the hallway.

“Do we have to wait for permission like that?  I’ll settle for going out on the nearest balcony.”

I looked at the glass door that led to the tower balcony.

“I guess we can do that…”

She didn’t wait for me to lead the way.  She leaped out of the bed and was opening the glass door before I could even get to my feet.  I tried to catch up.  But as soon as I reached the door, I saw her being snatched up into the air by a pair of crow-claws.

“Derfentwinkle!”

“I promise not to betray you, Bob!”

Well, that left me no choice.  I had to trust she was as good of a little person as I thought she was.  I leaped over the balcony rail, out into the empty air high up in the willow tree.  And then I was plummeting to my death.

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Finding My Voice

As Big MacIntosh welcomes more little ponies into my insanely large doll collection, I have been reading my published novel Snow Babies.  The novel is written in third person viewpoint with a single focus character for each scene.  But because the story is about a whole community surviving a blizzard with multiple story lines criss-crossing and converging only to diverge and dance away from each other again, the focus character varies from scene to scene.

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Big MacIntosh finds himself to be the leader of a new group of My Little Ponies.

In Canto Two, Valerie Clarke, the central main character of the story, is the focus character.  Any and all thoughts suggested by the narrative occur only in Valerie’s pretty little head.  Canto Three is focused through the mind of Trailways bus driver Ed Grosland.  Canto Four focuses on Sheriff’s Deputy Cliff Baily.  And so, on it goes through a multitude of different heads, some heroic, some wise, some idiotic, and some mildly insane.  Because it is a comedy about orphans freezing to death, some of the focus characters are even thinking at the reader through frozen brains.

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The ponies decide to visit Minnie Mouse’s recycled Barbie Dreamhouse where Olaf the Snowman is the acting butler.

That kind of fractured character focus threatens to turn me schizophrenic.  I enjoy thinking like varied characters and changing it up, but the more I write, the more the characters become like me, and the more I become them.  How exactly do you manage a humorous narrative voice when you are constantly becoming someone else and morphing the way you talk to fit different people?  Especially when some of your characters are stupid people with limited vocabularies and limited understanding?

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The ponies are invited to live upstairs with the evil rabbit, Pokemon, and Minions.

I did an entire novel, Superchicken, in third person viewpoint with one focus character, Edward-Andrew Campbell, the Superchicken himself.  That is considerably less schizophrenic than the other book.  But it is still telling a story in my voice with my penchant for big words, metaphors, and exaggerations.

The novel I am working on in rough draft manuscript form right now, The Baby Werewolf, is done entirely in first person point of view.  That is even more of an exercise of losing yourself inside the head of a character who is not you.  One of the first person narrators is a girl, and one is a werewolf.  So, I have really had to stretch my writing ability to make myself into someone else multiple times.

I assure you, I am working hard to find a proper voice with which to share my personal wit and wisdom with the world.  But if the men in white coats come to lock me away in a loony bin somewhere, it won’t be because I am playing a lot with My Little Ponies.

 

 

 

My best novel is free to own in ebook form for today and tomorrow. Buy it now with the link above. The offer is good until the end of the day on 12/14/2021.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 10

Derfentwinkle’s Headache

Once Master Eli placed the Magic Hat on my head, I immediately felt something probing deeply into my brain.  It wasn’t some passive little look-see either.  It was a painfully grinding drilling sensation that caused a massive pain between my eyes.

“Ah, you have been abused, child,” said a voice from within the hat.  “You must forgive me, but I will have to remove the life-draining sex spells and take away your memories of Kronomarke’s insidious abuse.”

“Help yourself,” I silently told the voice in my head with my own voice in my head.

The memories of the naked necromancer hitting me and harming me began to dry up, shrivel, and disappear from my conscious memory.  I was not unhappy to see them float away into darkness.

But I was no longer seeing the room in the Sorcerer’s Tower where I knew I physically still was.  Instead, around me there was little beyond darkness.

Then the darkness parted and a glowing white stag, a white male deer with an eighteen-point rack of horns and an extremely regal bearing walked up to me.  Towered over me, in fact.

“Child, speak your name.”  He spoke directly into my head without any lips moving or obvious speech forming in his deer mouth.

“But that will give you power over me.”

“I already have that.  I am here to help you, not do you further harm.”

“I am Derfentwinkle the lowly necromancer’s fifth apprentice.  But who are you?”

“I am what you might call a demigod.  I was the master and teacher of the wizard Dezmodotto.  And I am the friend of Eli Tragedy.  If you must name me, I am called Father of Many Erlkings.”

“That’s impressive.”

“I have no need to impress you.  I am only here to help you.”

“How will you do that?”

“I have already cleansed your memory of most of the badness that Kronomarke has taught you.  He is an evil man.  You must not return to him.  I will make certain that you continue to belong to Master Eli.”

“Like a slave?”

“Like a daughter.  And I will give him to you as a father.”

I was stunned.  No one had ever been so kind before.  And his voice filled me with warmth and confidence.  It would be right because Father… of Many Erlkings, made it so.

“Is Eli Tragedy really magical?”

“You ask because your magic intuitions tell you most of his magical effects are really Slow-One science and technology disguised as sorcery.  You are a true wizard, and Eli is a very clever manipulator of many things.”

“Um, yes, I… guess so…”

“You must listen to him well and learn his ways.  They will make you stronger.”

“Yes, okay…”

“And I sent the crows Homer and Bert to be your familiar… one of the two, at any rate.”

“Why full-sized crows?”

“You will need to ride them as steeds in the air.  And they can be quite entertaining, those two.”

“And what is it that I feel you have put into my head?”

“Spells, beloved.  Spells to keep you and yours safe.  And help along the quest I must give you.”

“What are these spells you speak of?”

“You will need to discuss them with the apprentice Bob.  He is known to me as a very wise and capable young man.  He will transcribe them on parchment for you so that you may learn them in the way of non-necromantic wizards.”

“Can you tell me now what the spells are?  By name?”

“The ones I am allowing you to keep from your necromantic training are the Ghost-Light Spell, The Turning Spell of the Undead, and the reverse of the Harming Spell, which in your hands will instead be a Healing Spell.”

“And the ones I don’t already know?”

The Spell of Gingerbread Summoning, The Fairy-Resizing Spell, the Spell of Water-Breathing, the Alter Shape Spell, The Spell of Slow-One Summoning, The Witch-Armor Spell of Zam the Leaf-Witch, and the Spell of Storybook Summoning.  These will go into your spell-book as Bob helps you translate and write it.”

“Why am I worthy to be treated in this way by a demigod?  I came here to kill the fairies of Cair Tellos.”

“That is why you were sent here, but it is not why you came here and fell into the care of Eli Tragedy.”

“Thank you, Father…”

I felt faint.  Everything changed around me.

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

I fell into someone’s arms and I was lost in the softness of deep sleep.

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Made-Up People

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I often get criticized for talking to people who are basically invisible, probably imaginary, and definitely not real people, no matter what else they may be.

The unfinished cover picture is from the novel The Bicycle-Wheel Genius which I finished the final rewrite and edit for and then published in 2018.  All of the characters in that book are fictional.    Even though some of them strongly resemble the real people who inspired me to create them, they are fictional people doing fictional and sometimes impossible things.  And yet, they are all people who I have lived with as walking, talking, fictional people for many years.  Most of those people have been talking to me since the 1970’s.  I know some of them far better than any of the real people who are a part of my life.

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These, of course, are only a few of my imaginary friends.  Some I spend time with a lot.  Some I haven’t seen or heard from in quite a while.  And I do know they are not real people.  Mandy is a cartoon panda bear, and Anneliese is a living gingerbread cookie.  I do understand I made these people up in my stupid little head.

But it seems to me that the people in the world around us are really no less imaginary, ephemeral, and unreal.  Look at the recently replaced Presidentumb of the Disunited States.  He is an evil cartoon James Bond villain if there ever was one.

Animated cast of OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT. Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Animated cast of OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT. Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

People in the real world create an imaginary person in their own stupid little heads, and pretend real hard that that imaginary person is really them in real life.  And of course, nobody sees anybody else in the same way that they see themselves.  Everybody thinks they are a somebody who is different from anybody else who thinks they are a somebody too, and really they are telling themselves, and each other, lies about who somebody really is, and it is all very confusing, and if you can follow this sentence, you must be a far better reader than I am a writer, because none of it really makes sense to me.  I think everybody is imaginary in some sense of the word.

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So, if you happen to see me talking to a big white rabbit-man who used to be a pet white rabbit, but got changed into a rabbit-man through futuristic genetic science and metal carrots, don’t panic and call the police.  I am just talking to another fictional character from a book I finished writing.  And why are you looking inside my head, anyway?  There’s an awful lot of personal stuff going on in there.  Of course, you only see that because I wrote about it in this essay.  So it is not an invasion of privacy.  It is just me writing down stuff I probably should keep in my own stupid little head.  My bad.

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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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