Sparky And The Wheezles

The Glen Meadow Chronicles

Frieda's News

Welcome 2017

Lady Frieda: Master Healer Update:

Missing Chapters added

As part of NaNoWriMo 2016, I decided to add several chapters to my book on my life story.  When I scripted the first draft of Lady Frieda: Master Healer three years ago, I was anxious to get to the part of the story where the main characters advanced to their quest and I skipped over a very important aspect of my life, my own personal conflict with myself growing up.  I hadn't told  the story of how I nearly threw away everything in a moment of selfishness and pride.  It is one of the defining moments in my young life and I felt I needed to explore that storyline with more depth then I had before.  Essentially, I had literally written the line: "And Frieda excelled in school and advanced to become a Journey-level one healer."  It was like being served a cold, un-fried egg on a paper plate.

So, let me give you a sample of this part of my life to start your New Year.

This is from the rough draft and has not been edited for content, spelling, grammar or punctuation.  This post is provided as an example of how I write, in a stream of consciousness....


Frieda has finished her initial schooling, taken her final exams and is returning to her cubicle to change for afternoon chores when she encounters trouble.  Felicity the fox is furious with Frieda and her friends and the influence their club, The Loyal Order Of The Sparrow, has had on the student population in combating bullying

As Frieda made the turn down the back corridor toward the dormitory, she felt an angry presence and quickened her pace.  She reached over her shoulder to unholster her quarterstaff, but before she could, she was shoved up against the wall.  In a blink she was face to face with a young vixen who grabbed Frieda's whistle and yanked it hard enough to break the lanyard. “You won’t be needing this today, weasel.”  She threw it across the corridor and pinned Frieda against the wall with her left paw as she reached up and unholstered Frieda’s staff. “And you definitely won’t be needing this.”

Frieda glanced around the dim corridor and observed that the fox wasn’t alone, there were two males and two females foxes, standing in a semi-circle around their leader.  Frieda gulped and tried to remain calm. “Is there something that I can do to help you?”  She knew it was a dumb question, but she couldn’t think of anything else to say that didn’t sound threatening or cross.


The fox backed away and held the staff in both her paws.  She turned to her toadies and brandished the weapon as if it were a trophy won in a great battle.  She gave a sneer and a wicked laugh to display her bravado and her easy victory over the diminutive weasel.  She spun around, pinned Frieda against the wall with the staff just as she had made a move to escape. “You help me?”  the fox growled, “Oh, Lady Frieda, I think you have already done enough to me.”


Frieda could only sense rage in the creature and observed that her fangs dripped with tenacious saliva when she bared her teeth.  “I don’t even know your name, so you have me at a disadvantage, you seem to know me pretty well.”


The fox stepped away, took an offensive stance, tapped her left paw with the staff and side-stepped to the right. “Oh, I know all about you and your little club.”


Frieda could sense tension building and she realized the situation was quickly getting out of control. “You do?  That’s great, because we’re always looking for new members.  Are you interested in joining up?”  Frieda was aware that the fox was prepared to strike with the quarterstaff and tried to gauge her swing.


“Shut up!” In a blink the fox attacked wildly with the staff.  Frieda turned, took the blow in the shoulder, and fell to the ground.  She screamed for help as the fox raised the stick with both paws to deal a woodchopper's blow to Frieda's head. The fox misjudged the length of the staff which struck the ground above Frieda's head and broke the staff.  And yet there was enough energy to cut Frieda’s scalp and raised a large welt near her ear.  Frieda curled up into a ball and covered her head with her paws the way she had been taught by Eddy Current.


The fox kept up her rampage and kicked at Frieda, most of the kicks were ineffective at causing any real hurt. But the fox managed to land one kick in Frieda’s ribs and Frieda felt something snap, which sent a searing jolt of pain throughout her side.  Frieda had no idea that a creature her own age could have this much anger and rage stored up inside.  She wanted to help the fox, but she also wanted to survive the onslaught.   The fox yelled, screamed and kicked wildly now, incoherently and completely out of control.


Frieda had almost given up any hope of surviving, began to feel faint and nauseous, when she heard a commotion and a new voice. “Felicity, stop this now!”  Frieda recognized that voice and focused on it, tried to stay alert and not pass out.


The fox stopped her fit, wiped her brow with her paw and panted. “What do you want Perry?  Can’t you tell I’m busy?" She huffed and puffed, completely out of breath.  "I’m taking care of something you should have done a long time ago, only you were too weak.”


Perry moved in closer and put his paws out in front of himself as a sign of peace. “Leave her alone, she has done nothing to you.”


Felicity stepped back and panted, focused on her prey and looked for an opening around Perry. “No?  She’s ruined everything.  I had everything under control after I got here.  Everything was in place." She dodged left and right, but Perry anticipated her move and managed to back her away from striking distance to Frieda.  "All of you were out there, doing what I needed to keep the rabble under control so that I would be the top pick when we got our apprentice assignments.” She pointed at Frieda with the broken staff still in her paw. “Then she and her little band of heroes came along and wrecked it.”


Felicity wiped her brow with her stick paw, then pointed the stick at Perry.  “Look what she did to you, you were my best.  You could get inside any little creatures head and totally make them do whatever you wanted.  Get them to make total fools of themselves in front of their instructors.  Put me at the top.”  She realized she was still clutching the stick and she cast it away from her. “She turned you into a wimp. You’re weak, you’re a loser all because of her.”


She turned to the other toadies and yelled at them, “Are you losers?”


The other four fox-kind shouted back, “No!” but they were more then a bit intimidated by Felicity’s rage. 


When she turned back around she was surprised that Perry was now directly between her and Frieda. “Get away from her.  I’m not done with her yet.”


Before Perry could answer, there was another voice which echoed from down the corridor. “Yer done.  Gets yours arse away from dat fine creasure or Willy here will be kickin’ it all de way down dat hallway der.”  Willy the marmot came into the light and he looked as if he could easily make good on his threat.


“You’re a bully, Felicity and we mean to shut you down.”  A young female otter came from around the corner at the other end of the corridor and stood next to Willy and Perry. “Remember me, sunshine?  She linked her arm though Perry’s and stared Felicity in the eye. “Death to Bullies.”


It was only moments later that Frieda heard a shrill series of whistles and she was aware that they were coming from both ends of the corridor.  Within moments, the air was rent with the sound of scores of whistles and an army of paws ran past her.  There were creatures shouting, it was complete bedlam, but she couldn't see much else for the forest of paws, legs and tails that blocked her view from her position on the floor.  She could not see that Felicity and her toadies were completely surrounded by nearly a hundred apprentice candidates.


The corridor became deathly silent and Frieda sensed Madison's presence nearby.  She tried to move to see, but her ribs hurt like a knife stabbing her and  she tried in vain to relax and ease the pain.  In the moments after the commotion started, she felt paws gently move her arms away from her head and she looked up into the eyes of Bretton and Eddy who had come to her assistance.  "Little Fraddly, I leave you for only a few moments and you get it all this trouble.  I should never leave your side."  He took his mask from his pocket and applied it to her head wound.  "You are going to need a lot of stitches, this is a very big cut, there's a lot of blood."  


Bretton looked in her eyes like he had seen the healer in the infirmary do, but he didn't know what to look for, so he knelt at her side and took her paw and held it to give her comfort, and to comfort himself, he was shocked to see her wounded like this.  


The twins arrived, unsheathed their staves and took up a defensive stance and held their positions.  They spoke to the crowd. "Don't let them escape, but do not engage them.  Keep your distance.  Keep safe."


Madison stepped forward, her quarterstaff in her left paw used as a walking stick as she approached Felicity. She extended her right paw in a show of friendship.  "Hello, I am Madison Sparrow.  I am the president of the Loyal Order Of the Sparrow.  These are my friends."


Felicity had caught her breath, but some of the fight had left her and she was very uneasy with all the attention. "So what, I don't care." She spit on the ground at Madison's feet and bared her fangs. "You can't intimidate me, I got my rights."


Bretton came to Madison's side and put his paw on her shoulder, "I'm Bretton Jeffrey-Pine.  Madison's not here to hurt you, Felicity, she just wants to find out what's going on here and to take care of her friends."


Felicity growled and flicked her tail, "Well, she's a little late for that." She looked around at all the other apprentice candidates and observed that most of them had masks on, that quite a few had whistles, some still had them in their mouths.  There was also a fair number of creatures who had some form of stick, everything from a regulation battle quarterstaff, to roughly straight branches gnawed right from some local tree.  Felicity lunged at one of the creatures and snatched away their staff and pushed them down hard on their rump. "Fools! You think you can fight me and win?" She turned on Madison and brought the stick down with full force towards Madison's head.


Madison was prepared, she had practiced with Eddy and remembered her lessons well.  The goal was not to expend a lot of energy, just to deflect away the energy of the other combatant.  She quickly moved her quarterstaff directly in front of her face pointing vertically.  As Felicity's blow came down, Madison stepped to the right and flicked her stave to the left.  Felicity stumbled as the wild swing  failed to connect with anything and the full force of her blow wasn't absorbed by Madison's skull.  "I don't want to fight Felicity, but I will protect myself if you insist on it.  I would rather talk about what it is that is troubling you so."


Felicity quickly found her balance, spun and faced Madison again.  Swinging the stick like a woodchopper had failed her twice now, so she gripped the weapon like a baseball bat and lunged at Madison. "You are troubling me." She screamed as she put the full force of all her strength.


Madison angled her stave and dropped to a squat just as Felicity released her swing.  The fox's stave whistled toward the place where Madison's head had been, glanced off her raised quarterstaff and again failed to connect with anything and lost her balance once again.  Madison remained crouched for just a moment to see what Felicity would do next. 


By this time, Felicity was as angry as she had ever been and when she had again regained her balance, she spun and faced Madison, breathless with rage.  Madison was at a loss as to how to talk to the fox, she only seemed to become more enraged the more she tried to calm her down.


"I want you dead!  I want you all dead!" She leaned on the stick and gasped again as she sized Madison up for a kill.  She thought through her attack so far and determined that Madison was much better at using her stick then she was, but that she couldn't be as sly and cunning as she was.  She would fake a blow with her stick and simply pounce on her.  


She lowered into a crouching position, her tail flicked back and forth and she kept her eyes rivited on Madison.  Perry had seen her do this before and just as she lunged, he ran forward, pushed Madison out of the way and took the full impact of Felicity's attack.  The two creatures rolled on the rock floor of the corridor, the vixen's screams were terrifying to the crowd of creatures who watched in horror at the ferocity of the attack.  When they stopped rolling, Felicity straddled Perry, his left forearm clenched in her jaws, his right paw up to fend off blows she delivered to his head.  Finally, in desperation, he balled up his free paw into a fist and punched her square in the snoot as hard as he could. 


She immediately let go of his arm, stood, grabbed her snoot and bellowed. "Ow!"  She took her paws away from her nose and gasped in shock at the sight of her own blood.  She clamped her paws back over her snoot and cried, "Why would you do that?  You broke my nose!"


Perry got up off the floor and cradled his injured arm, he was bleeding pretty badly and he clamped his good paw over the wound to stem the flow.  He didn't answer Felicity's question but asked her one instead. "You're the oldest, aren't you?"


She looked at him as if he were nuts. "What?  What are you talking about?"


"You're the oldest kit in your den, am I right?"


She looked at the blood in her paw again, "Yeah, so?"


Perry's arm started to hurt and he grimaced. "You're new to Glen Meadow.  You moved from the Valley, right?"


That question caught her off guard and she answered before she could think of a snotty answer. "Yeah, daddy moved us here when our house was destroyed."  Her nose was beginning to hurt badly now and she was worried that the bleeding wasn't going to stop. "So?"


Perry softened his question and moved closer to Felicity, "There's a lot that's expected of you, right?  I mean that, since you're the oldest of the kits in your den, your father has put a lot of pressure on you to do well in this new place."


"Yeah, well so what, parents always expect their children to do well.  What’s your point?"  She was beginning to become annoyed again.


"My point is that you didn't say anything about your mother.  You’ve never said anything about your mother in all the time that I've known you." He took a deep breath and sighed. "It's because she's dead, isn't it?"  He pressed on, "And you blame your father for her death."


The crowd gasped and murmured, some of the creatures could hardly believe that Perry had asked that question of an already irate fox who had murder in her heart.  Bretton whispered to those around him to keep calm and to let it play out,  he had a feeling that Perry knew exactly what he was doing.  He was disarming the foe.


Tears welled up in Felicity's eyes and she shook her head, "No.  That's not true.  That's not true at all.  I have to show my father that I love him by doing my very best in my apprentice training.  He deserves that kind of respect from me."


"You blame him for your mother's death, you feel it is wrong to have this resentment toward your father and so you go out of your way to make up for it by trying to convince yourself that you have to be the best.  And you don't know how to do that so you've become a bully to make it happen one way or another."


She was no longer in control of her tears and they flowed freely, but she continued to fight with her feelings. "No! It's a lie!  He saved my brothers and he saved my sister, but he didn't save her!"  The water came in and she drowned."  She fell to her knees and wailed a pitiful howl of abject loss and despair.  Perry came to her, put his paw on her shoulders and just let her cry it out. 


The twins took the opportunity to motivate the crowd to dissipate quickly, lest they draw attention from the staff and all get in trouble.  They approached the other fox toadies and advised them to stick around to offer support and they got no opposition.  The four of them were more then willing to be cooperative and helpful and offered to assist the wounded to the infirmary.


When Felicity had finally cried herself out, she was exhausted physically and emotionally and needed help up off the floor.  She leaned on Perry, who was a little unstable himself, the pain in his arm was excrutiating, but together, they managed to stand.  She looked up at him and spoke in short gasps. "I don't know what to do next.  I've made a hash of my life and everybody's life I've come in contact with."


Perry looked down at her and tried to smile, but it hurt too much.  "None of us know what to do next.  That's why we're in school." He winced again nodded to one of the fox toadies to come help. "I've learned from Frieda and her friends that friends can teach you a lot about yourself that you didn't even know were possible."  He leaned against one of the foxes who came to his side and nodded at Felicity. "I think you could learn a lot about how to deal with your fears and hurts from the Loyal Order Of The Sparrows.  Will you try?"


Felicity looked around the scene and observed how the small band of friends helped each other, then looked back at Perry. "If you can, so can I."



Frieda sat on a small cot in the infirmary and waited for the Healer to tend to her wound.  Her bleeding had stopped for the moment, but Bretton was quite sure she was going to need stitches in her scalp.  Madison came in to visit and informed her that Perry was being tended to first, the radius bone in his left forearm had been broken, as well as six gashes that required stitches before the bone could be set with a cast.  Madison looked very tired and she sat next to Frieda and eventually fell asleep, her head rested on Frieda's lap.  Frieda leaned her back against the wall, closed her eyes and was soon asleep too.


She was instantly awake when she heard the curtain of the cubicle slide across the curtain rod and she was somewhat surprised to see the Headmaster enter the room.  He wasn't dressed in his robe, but in the customary work clothes worn by all staff at Glen Meadow Home.  She moved to attempt to stand, but Madison was still resting her head on her lap and her side was really in agony.  The Headmaster held up his paw and motioned for her to stay put.  He sat on the stool and sighed.  He looked tired but Frieda could sense that it wasn't a physical tiredness that creased his brow, he was worn out emotionally.  "Headmaster?  How can I help you tonight?"


The Headmaster smiled a wee tired smile, leaned back against the wall and sighed. "I've just spoken with the secretary.  Did you know that there is a petition that has been floating around Glen Meadow Home?"


Frieda nodded no. "A petition?  You mean a demand?"


He closed his eyes momentarily and rubbed his head with both paws. "A petition to let more apprentice candidates join the Loyal Order Of The Sparrow." He sat up and put his paws on his knees. "It has over a hundred and fifty signatures on it." He chuckled and smiled, "Twenty of those signatures are from instructors and staff."  He leaned back on the stool and put his paws behind his head to let that bit of info sink into Frieda's little high-speed brain. 


"Are you mad about that Headmaster, sir?" She wasn't worried, but curious as to what he was driving at.


"Oh no, not at all, I'm a little surprised, but not shocked."  He closed his eyes again and signed. "You and your little friends have made quite an impact here.  Do you realize that the number of referrals to the infirmary for nose bleeds, cuts, scratches, bites, upset tummies and headaches had plummeted to just a mere twenty-five percent of normal referrals."


Frieda thought about some of the students she had observed in the infirmary during her chores.  A lot of the students came in for ailments that defied logic and seemed like the only reason the student was there was for some attention and positive affirmation from somebody who cared. "You think we had something to do with that?"


He nodded, but kept his eyes shut as he spoke, "Discipline issues in classes have dropped to thirty-three percent of normal, complaints about food, chores, classes, teachers, and all that kind of stuff has also seen similar trends.  Yes, I think that the Loyal Order Of The Sparrow has a lot to do with that."  He opened his eyes and looked at her sincerely, "Not that your club has miraculously cured all the ills of Glen Meadow Home, but you all got something going that has taken on a life of it's own.  Death to Bullies.  It sounds hateful, but it captures the spirit of what you started.  Bullying has got to die.  You decided that bullying was something that you were not going to tolerate and you did something about it."  


Frieda blinked and put her paw to her mouth before she spoke. "Are we in trouble?"


The Headmaster chuckled softly, "You think?  I've got five…no six youngsters with broken bones, gashes, bloody noses, split open skulls needing stitches, possible broken ribs and an army of apprentice candidates who want to end bullying by wearing capes, masks and carrying quarterstaves."  He chuckled more heartlily and smiled. Moral is at an all time high, things are going more smoothly then they have gone for a very long time and you think you're in trouble."  He laughed now, "No, you're not in trouble.    You all are going to progress to the next stage of your training."


Frieda patted Madison and the little ferret stirred, sat up and looked sleepily at the Headmaster.  She waved a shy wave at him, rubbed her eyes and yawned.  The headmaster waved back and repeated himself. "You all are progressing to you next level of training."


Madison looked at Frieda before she asked, "All of us?"


The headmaster nodded, "I spoke to Mr. Current, Mr. Jeffry-pine, the Nightshades earlier.  So I'm telling you two now.  You all made it.

NaNoWriMo is Over For 2015

I Finished Strong This Year!

After Thanksgiving I was able to spend some time at the computer and I cranked out the last five thousand words that I needed to finish the NaNoWriMo Challenge for 2015.  This is the eighth year that I have participated and this is the third manuscript that I have worked on.  

Here is an example of the type of writing that takes place during NaNoWriMo, it's not pretty, plenty of grammar and mechanical errors, but the important thing about this type of story crafting is to get the story out of your head and committed to paper or computer memory.

Setting:  Benji Redfern is before the Magistrate Council to press charges against the Mayor of Kumquat Cove for abuses he suffered at the hands of the constabulary, namely, being beaten and his wagon destroyed. Little Sabine, his smallest daughter, his mate Margo and his friends Donner Wheezle are with him. 

The Magistrates council chambers were large and open, but decorated very simply.  There were oil lamps along the walls for light, four rows of stone benches for seating and a single tapestry on the back wall behind the raised platform where the five Magistrates sat.  The Magistrates sat behind a long stone table and each one had a gavel, a large leather-bound book a quill pen and an ink well.  They were dressed in long black robes, but the head Magistrate, a large imposing badger who sat in the middle, had a square hat on his head.  It was the younger Magistrate on the end who spoke as Benji, Margo, Donner and Sabine approached. “You have entered the Hall of the Magistrates for the Apple Cove District.  Do you come in peace?”

Margo held Benji back, “Highest ranking citizen speaks first,  I outrank Donner who outranks Sabine, who outranks you because she is an innocent.  You outrank a peasant because you are now an apprentice, so get that wounded puppy look off your face mister.  Stand tall, speak when spoken to, keep your answers simple.”

Benji meant to argue with her  but she gave him a look that told him he had better pay attention.  Obviously there were rules to their culture that he must have missed out on by not attending apprentice school. “OK, you got it, carry on.”

“Ma’am, is there a problem?  Did you come here to speak to the Magistrate Council or not?” The younger Magistrate looked impatient, the other’s at the table looked bored. “Step forward and proceed.”

“We come in peace, Magistrates.” Margo stepped forward and bowed.

“State the names of those in your party.”  The younger Magistrate took up his quill and dipped it in the inkwell.

Margo stood tall and proceeded, “I am Margolotte Leastweasel Redfern, Engineer of Mines, Journey-level two, parent of Griffin, Rose, Penny, Fritzi, Jan, Elzie and Sabine Leastweasle Redfern. Mate of Benjamin Redfern.”  She took a deep breath and motioned toward Donner, “This is my Friend, Donner Wheezle, Bladesmith, journey-level one, mate of Kitcher Wheezle VonSteuben, apprentice needle-crafter.”  Margo turned toward Sabine and pointed, “This is Sabine Leastweasel Redfern, my youngest offspring from my second litter.  She is unable to speak, so I will answer for her as the need arises.”  She pointed to Benji, “This is Benjamin Redfern, my mate, apprentice Wainwright.” Margo turned back to the Council and stood at attention.

The head Magistrate looked up from his book and spoke next, “Margolotte Leastweasel?  You go by Margo, is that correct?” He smiled and took the spectacles from his nose, “I’m a good friend of your Master and she has spoken of you.  It seems that they are planning to open a new mine and she wants you to take the lead on the project.  Will you be returning to the workforce anytime soon?”

Margo blushed, “Yes, Magistrate.  I spoke to her recently and I told her that I was ready as soon as my first litter has been placed in apprentice training.”

“Very well then, I’m sure your needs will be taken care of then, my dear.”  The old badger put his glasses back on his nose. “Donner Wheezle, I have heard that you are a crafter of long blades, is this true?” He looked over the top of his spectacles and was amused at Donner’s surprised expression, “Don’t be shocked young Wheezle, our community is very well connected and we know a little about most everybody.”

Donner nodded, “Yes Magistrate, I am a Journel Level III crafter of long blades.  I have just recently set up shop in an unused corner of Mr. Maxamillion Redfern.  We are converting one of his forges to make high carbon Damascus steel.”

The head Magistrate smiled, “Not much call these days for such fine bladework, son.  I hope you’ll be doing other less artistic and more utilitarian blades for the general consumer?”

Donner didn’t like this character and thought he was talking down to him because of his youth. “I have already two orders for such blades sir, and once those blades are in service, I anticipate I will be putting the rest of Mr. Redfern’s idle forges to work.” He squared his shoulder, and removed a small dagger from a sheath concealed in the folds of his outer shirt. “May I approach?”

The Head Magistrate looked shocked at such bold talk coming from one so young, “By all means young Wheezle.  But let me remind you that you are approaching the bench of law in the land and to be respectful.”  He shook his ruff as a sign of authority and motioned for Donner to approach.

Donner stepped forward and placed the dagger on the stone table, the blade rang as it touched the stone. “This was my first Damascus blade.  It is crafted from a meteorite that was given to me by my father.  It took me two weeks to fold and twist the steel, another week to shape the blade and another week to finish the pommel, grip and sheath.  This blade is worth half a years worth of provisions for me and my mate.  Shortly after I traded this one’s twin, I received six orders for exact duplicates, although I will be making the blades from more conservative sources of steel, I do not have any more meteroite.  I will be hiring three metal workers next week to assist me.  I will be able to help bring food to the table of four families immediately.  Is that utilitarian enough to please the council?” 

The Head Magistrate picked up the beautiful blade and was mesmerized by the intricate pattern etched into the blade.  He held the dagger by the grip and felt the perfect balance in his paw.  He passed the blade to the other Magistrates, and they showed their admiration of it’s high level of craftwork by whispering to each other and nodding.  The head Magistrate offered the knife back to Donner. “This was your first such blade?  I can only imagine how fine your weapons will become as you progress in your skills.”

Donner sheathed the dagger which made a snick-like sound.  Donner was a bit put off by all this formality and could barely contain himself, his tail bristled and flicked back and forth.  “Begging your pardon for what I’m about to say, but if I err, consider it a folly of my youth.  In apprentice school I was taught by my Master that it was the Masters and Journey-level creatures who had authority over the land and that the Magistrates and Constables answered to them.  Am I correct in my assumption?”

The head Magistrate harrumphed, “Times have changed young Wheezle.  The economy is changing, things are difficult for everybody and crimes against all free creatures have increased.  The Magistrate Councils of many villages have agreed that it is time for them to exercise more control then was originally planned.  Of course the Masters still retain ultimate authority, but the Magistrates have assumed responsibility over the rest of the population.  For their protection of course.”

Donner was about to protest, but Benji took his elbow and held him back.  The head Magistrate pushed his spectacles back up on his nose, cleared his throat and blustered through the formalities, “We will not discuss that here.  Now where were we?  Oh, yes, introductions.”  The Magistrate looked down at Sabine and smiled a toothy grin that would have sent most youngsters her age scurrying for their mother’s skirts. “Child, state your name and the names of your parents for the record.”

Benji looked at Margo and she winked at him, it was obvious to them both that the Magistrate had not heard what Margo had said earlier, that Sabine was incapable of speaking but one word.  Benji’s first thought was that Sabine would do something cute to delight the stuffy old shirts up on the dias.  He was totally unprepared for what Sabine actually did.

In a flash, she escaped Margo’s grasp, pulled Donner’s dagger from it’s sheath and ran as fast as her toddler legs could carry her.  She leaped onto the lap of the Magistrate on the end of the table, then onto the stone table brandishing the dagger like a sword in her tiny paws.  Margo gasped but stopped when she felt Benji’s firm grasp of her arm restraining her.

The Magistrates were dumbstruck as the tiny child stood on the stone table and waved the dagger.  She pointed it at her father then at her mother, then at each of the Magistrates.  She laid the weapon down and with tears in her eyes, she stood before the Head Magistrate, took his face in her paws and looked deep into his eyes.  She let go and moved before him in her slow deliberate way and made signs with her paws that Benji understood plainly.  She repeated the routine to each of the other Magistrate and made different moves and gestures for each one.  At last, she turned, picked up the dagger and clamored off the table.  She offered the dagger back to Donner, then held out her arms to Margo so that she could be picked up.

The head Magistrate was visibly shaken, as were the others on the dias.  He shook his head, smoothed down the hairs of his ruff and gripped the collar of his robe with both paws.  He seemed completely deflated, as if he had seen something that had terrified him and he had no sense of what to do about it.  Finally he addressed Margo, “How did she do that?  I looked into her eyes and felt lost.  Without uttering a word, I understood everything she said as if she had spoken it to my soul.”

Margo held Sabine close and agreed, “She can sense your emotions.  She speaks in gestures, this is her gift.”  She patter Sabine’s head and asked, “Shall I translate for you?”

The head Magistrate had a tear in his eye. “No, Ma’am, I understood perfectly and I see no reason to doubt the words of an innocent, she told me that war is coming.”

The other Magistrates chimed in, “She told me creatures are starving.” 

“Creatures are being tortured.”

“Free creatures are being made into slaves.”

The youngest Magistrate on the far end spoke last, “She said Black Arrow to me.”

There was silence at the mention of the Black Arrow and the Head Magistrate shook his ruff again and tried to get the meeting back on track.  He harrumphed again and looked over at Benji.  Ah…Benji the Greaser.  You grace us with your presence again.  Last time you were before the Magistrate Council, two weeks ago, you were brought up on charges of rabble-rousing.  I see by your physical condition that you are still at it.  What trouble have you been into this week?”

Benji wasn’t going to take the bait and approached the stone table, but kept a comfortable distance. He bowed, which was the custom when speaking to a creature who had a higher status.  He spoke in the customary language of the old court system, “Honorable Magistrates, forgive your humble servant for troubling you with my trivial problems.  You are wise and good and it is obvious to all but the most low and unimportant eyes that your much too busy to be concerned with somebody as meaningless as myself.”  He added that last bit in as a touch of irony, the Hall was empty except his small group. “Still, what may appear as moot and trivial to you, and you would not be mistaken in your judgement, most gracious Magistrates, my troubles are the bane of my poor existence and I beg your mercy in my quest for justice.”

The head Magistrate harrumphed, something it seemed that head Magistrates needed to be able to do a lot of. “Speak plainly Greaser, you don’t have the social standing you need to flatter yourself with your own words.  We speak peasant, you know.”

Benji stood tall and squared his shoulders. “I demand justice for crimes against me.”

The second Magistrate spoke with anger in his voice, “Justice for a peasant?  You are on shaky ground already for attempting to flatter the court, you have no right to demand justice, Greaser.”

Benji nodded but held his ground, “As a peasant, you would be correct, I have no right.  But I do enjoy basic rights as a free creature under the laws as an apprentice.”

The third Magistrate banged his gavel, “This is outrageous, you cannot claim to be an apprentice, it is well known that you abandoned your apprenticeship and took to the life of a peasant peddling your wares in a cart, much to the embarrassment of your Master and your father.”  He banged his gavel again, “You are this close to being taken away and put in the stockade for thirty days for lying to the court!” Bang went the gavel again.
The head Magistrate turned and gave the third Magistrate an evil look before he turned to Benji. “If my esteemed colleague would refrain from making dents in the stone table with his hammer, I think that it would be amusing to hear him out.  Perhaps if we give him a yard of rope, he might hang himself with it.”  He turned to Benji, “By all means, Benjamin Redfern, explain to us how it is that you say you’re an apprentice.  Mind you that your Master, the one you abandoned, was a good friend of mine.”

Benji was delighted, things were going his way at last. “Your honor, under the laws of our community, there is a provision that is granted to a journey-level crafter that allows him or her to apprentice one of their children in the event that they can no longer perform their livelihood.”

The Head Magistrate’s eyebrows went up, “Yes, there is.  Proceed.”

“There are two ways that a son or daughter of a Journey-level crafter may be certified as an apprentice in training, either by a written letter of intent from the father to his Master stating that the father intends to train his son to take over his business.” Benji paused to let the Magistrate Council mull over it was that he had just said.

The second Magistrate scratched his head. “I have never heard of this protocol, are you sure this isn’t a trick?”

The head Magistrate turned and made a ‘hush’ gesture with his paw, “It is extremely rare, it is almost never done.  Proceed Benjamin, you said that there were two ways.  Let’s hear the other way that a son or daughter may be certified as an apprentice candidate.”

Benji looked over at Margo and then over at Donner, “On the sworn statements of two Journey-level crafters who vouch for the apprentice candidate in the absence of a letter.”

The head Magistrate gave a look of disgust. “I see where this is going.  I assume that you do not have a letter of intent from your father to his Master and that your mate and your best friend are here to vouch for you.” He let out his breath in a rasping wheeze.

Margo stepped forward carrying Sabine and stood next to Benji, “I so vouch for Benjamin, his father has indeed taken him into apprenticeship.” She was about to spit nails at the pompous windbags and their prejudice against her beloved mate.

Donner stepped forward on Benji’s other side and swore, “I also vouch for Benjamin, I have seen some of the work he has done with his own paw.”

The head Magistrate raised his eyebrows in resignation. “It seems that once again you have managed to work things out in your favor.  You are very slick, hence your name, Greaser.”

There was a commotion outside and suddenly the back doors of the Hall swung wide and banged open. A large muscular wolverine in iron-workers leathers approached, a small female badger waddled behind him carrying a paper in her paws and struggled to keep up.  The Magistrates stood as one and bowed, Benji, Margo and Donner stepped aside and bowed as the large creature swept past.”Stand up morons!  What is the meaning of this outrage?  I don’t have time to come down here and take you five baffoons to school on these matters!”  He looked over at Benji’s group and barked, “Stand tall citizens, you don’t have to bow to me.  What’s going on here?”

Margo knew the identity of the wolverine immediately by his reputation, he was the Master of Wainwrights and Wheelrights, Maximillian’s Master.  She set Sabine down and watched as the child toddled over to the Wolverine and stared up at him.  Margo stepped forward and spoke, “He have come to the magistrate to make a complaint against the Mayor of Kumquat Cove for the way my mate Benjamin Redfern was treated there.  He was severely beaten, wounded and left for dead.  His cart and all his merchandise was stolen and now we have a debt to pay at Healer’s Hall for his trouble.  The Magistrates have been questioning whether or not Benji, erm, Benjamin here qualifies as an apprentice.  The two of us, Donner Wheezle and me, Margo Redfern have just vouched for Benji that he was taken under his father’s care, Master Hawthorn.”

“I know who you are, Margolotte, your father-in-law speaks highly of you, I’ll take it from here, rest assured that I will make sure everybody is vouched for.” Hawthorn stroked his beard, looked over at Benji and Donner, then gazed down at Sabine who had sat at his feet and was playing with her bunny doll.  He spoke to Benji, “I’m the one who took you to Healer’s Hall.  I’ll cover your debt.  I want you to stay with me for the next month while you heal up.  We can do small forge and leather work sitting down.”  He bent and patted Sabine’s head, “I’ll take care of your family too, until your older pups are placed in training, just leave all that to me.”  

Hawthorn stood and spoke to the magistrates who were still standing at attention. “You five are a mockery!  You sit behind this giant stone table, you only serve your best interests and you think yourselves important.  I never wanted a Magistrate Council!  You are supposed to help the free creatures of this community, not divide them into classes and discriminate against them.”  He waved for his apprentice to step forward, “Tessi, take that letter to Mr. Bluecurl there.  He’s the big ugly one in the middle who couldn’t sew a straight seam if his life depended upon it.”

Tessi waddled up and handed the paper up to the head Magistrate, who leaned over the table to retrieve it.  Hawthorn growled. “There, that should make it official.  Benjamin Redfern is my apprentice now, not that he needs much training, I’ve seen his work on small carts.  I advise that you all come to an understanding that you serve the citizens of this community, not just yourselves.  Every creature in these hills is a free creature and don’t you forget it or you will find yourselves out of a job and you will have to rely on your craft for a living.  And for some of you, that means you had better learn your craft all over again.”  He looked over at Benji, “Now is there something that you want to say to the Magistrate?”

Benji stepped forward and cleared his throat, “Mr. Bluecurl, I demand that the so-called Mayor of Kumquat Cove be brought before this Magistrate Council to answer for his actions and to explain why I was treated so badly in his village.”

The head Magistrate sat down and wrote in his book. “So you are making a formal complaint against the local magistrate of Kumquat Cove, Ferny Whiteblossom?”  He looked up from his book and slid his spectacles up his nose again.

“Ferny Whiteblossom?”  Benji looked puzzled.

“Yes, Mrs. Whiteblossom is the locally appointed magistrate.  Tall jackrabbit, skinny, has one floppy ear.” Mr. Bluecurl cocked his head to one side.

Benji cleared his throat, “No sir, there was no Ferny Whiteblossom who spoke to me, it was a rabbit named Gurian, and he claimed to be the Mayor, not the Magistrate.”

Hawthorn turned to Benji, “Gurian Whiteblossom?”

Benji shrugged his shoulders, “He didn’t say, he was a tall skinny jackrabbit with a sword and an attitude and said his name was Gurian.  He had a goon squad that’s all I know.  I don’t remember much of anything else.”

Hawthorn turned to the Magistrate Council, “Silas, now this is the type of thing you’re supposed to be doing, you send your constables up to Kumquat Cove and bring this Gurian fellow in and get to the bottom of this.  His mother, Ferny is in charge of things up there, not him.  If he has aligned himself with the Black Arrow, then there is going to be a lot of trouble.”

Silas Bluecurl pushed his glasses up his nose again and hesitated. “But the Black Arrow?”

Hawthorn growled, “What of it?  The Black Arrow is a myth.  So some upstart has claimed to be the Black Arrow.  It has happened all the time throughout our history, especially in tough times.  You go up there and get this young ruffian, bring him down and let him answer Benjamin’s complaint.”  He stamped his foot and swung his tail, “Or do I have to get tough?”

Silas stood and bowed, “No Master Hawthorn,  I’ll have Fezzy and his squad of constables make a trip up there today, You’ll see.”

Hawthorn growled again, turned and headed toward the back door to the Magistrate Chambers, “Good.  Send for me and Benjamin when you have him in custody.  I want this resolved by tomorrow.” He turned to Benji and smiled, “Good to see you up and around.   I thought that you weren’t going to make it when I found you.  Carried you myself to Healer’s.  Go home tonight, I’ll send for you in the morning.  Don’t worry about tools or a lot of extra clothing, it all comes with the training.”  He turned to Margo. “My dear, you are prettier then I imagined.  Rest assured that I’ll make an honest citizen out of your mate in no time.”  He took her paw in his and kissed it gently. 

He leaned over to Sabine, “Darling child.  I can tell that nothing scares you, not even a gruff old wolverine.  I hope to see more of you in the near future.” He stuck out his paw to shake hers, but instead, she held up her paws for him to lift her up.  He did so and was given a big hug and kiss by the small child.  She looked deep into his eyes, much to his surprise and made a few jesters.  The big owlverine just nodded and said, “I will see what I can do,”  before she clamored to be let down.  He looked up at Benji and then back down at Sabine, “I’ll guess I will see you then on Sunday when I come to get you Benjamin.” He chuckled deep in his chest, turned and left.  He shouted over his shoulder as he approached the door. “Tomorrow Silas.  Don’t make me wait on this.”  Tessi opened the door for him and he strode through with a flick of his tail.  

The doors to the Magistrate gallery slammed shut with a echoing thud and Margo, Donner and Benji turned to the Magistrates.  Margo spoke, “I am reminded by this episode that you work for us, and that your place is to assist us in keeping our laws.  I have it in mind to complain to my Master of your treatment of us.  The Master of Minecraft is a harsh taskmaster.  I can only imagine what she would say of your conduct.”

Silas nodded. “You are correct Mrs. Redfern.  Missy wouldn’t let me live it down.”

Margo cocked her head, “Missy? Sir?”  It suddenly dawned on her who Silas was and she made the connection.  Misteltoe Bluecurl is your mate?”

Silas shook his head, “I’m afraid it is worse then that, Missy is my younger sister. I’ll don’t live it down much that she is a master and I am not.”

Margo refrained from rubbing it in, though she wanted to after the snotty way he had started their meeting, but she let if go, called Sabine to her, picked her up and turned to Benji. “We need to get you home, you are beginning to look like your medicine is wearing off.”

Benji nodded, “My ankle is killing me, I have to elevate it soon.”  The four of them turned to leave and Donner went to the great doors and opened them for Margo, Benji and Sabine to pass.  

Just as they got outside, the youngest Magistrate called out to them, “Wait.  I want to say something.”

Margo was about to put him in his place, but Benji spoke first, “Go ahead.”

“My name is Christoff Kundersnaufen and I’m newly appointed to the Magistrate Council.  I came from Kumquat Flats over near Flat Iron Butte where I’m the Lore Master and librarian for the entire Apple Cove district. I make my living by trading books and manuscripts and I travel all over the Glen Meadow Watershed in search of important documents from the various villages.”

Benji was wary of Christoff, but didn’t let on. “OK, how can I help you?”

Christoff pulled Benji and Margo aside. “You also travel widely and you have seen a lot of things that may be useful in our cause.”

Benji wasn’t about to commit to any cause, but wanted to hear more. “Cause?  I know nothing of any cause.”

Christoff realized he was being too vague. “What happened to you in Kumquat Cove isn’t just an isolated thing.  There is a lot of it going on all around the district.  You are the first one to come forward and make a formal complaint.  There are many other creatures who feel that the Black Arrow is more then just a myth and that it has some real political power.”

Benji nodded, “So what? Kumquat Cove is a very small and poor village.  Why are the Magistrates worried?”

Christoff sighed, “That’s just it, the Magistrates are very worried, and say that they’re not.  You saw how Silas tried to brush you off.  I would never had suspected them had your little one actually said Black Arrow.” He scratched his ear, “She didn’t say anything to me did she?”

Benji was hobbled over to the cab where Margo was waiting impatiently.  Just before he climbed into the seat he turned to Christoff, “I need to get home.  I’ll be back tomorrow, you can come over and talk to me at Master Hawthorn’s hall, if he’ll allow it.  I don’t think I can do much for you.  I’m certainly not going to be able to help you much in the next month or so until I can get around better.”

Christoff assisted Benji into the cab and nodded, “That’s fair and all I ask, that we at least talk.”

Benji sat, put his swollen ankle up on the dashboard of the cab then held out his paw to Christoff. “I’ll tell Master Hawthorn you will be expected. I’m sure he’ll want to be there.”

Donner came around and shook Christoff’s paw. “I’ll be there too, I want to keep up on things, I don’t like what I’ve seen so far.”

Christoff stood back as the cab driver picked up the staves of his rick and pulled forward.  Christoff waved as the cab moved down the lane and out of view.  When he turned toward the Magistrate Hall, he wasn’t surprised to see that the great hall doors were opened a crack and that there was a flurry of robes visible.  No doubt he was being spied on again.

40,000 Words and Counting!

Today's word count 3590 words...

I had to take a break from getting ready for Thanksgiving and do some writing today and low and behold, I had passed the 40,000 milestone in my quest to write 50,000 words in 30 days as part of the National Novel Writing Month ( NaNoWriMo ).  I was a bit surprised that I had written nearly 4000 words today because I had fallen behind over the last two weeks due to my crazy work schedule.  Anyway, here is a sample of what I have written,

Setting:  Benji Redfern, the protagonist of the story is away from his family and taking an apprenticeship in crafting large wagons and pull-carts from his Master.  His older children are leaving their house for the first time to take up their own apprenticeships and the younger children are going to live with their grandparents temporarily while their mother Margo goes back to work as and engineer in the mines in order to provide for the family until Benji is finished.  Today is the day that all this takes place and little Jan, the youngest son is suddenly confused by all the activity...

On the Monday after Benji had left his home, his three older children were taken to live with their new masters in different parts of the valley to learn different trades.  Griffin was taken by the Master of Metal Craft Phinnias Morel, to the metal smith’s shop to learn foundry-craft and blacksmithing.  Penny was taken in by the same Master of Engineering that her mother Margo worked for in the mines. Penny would learn how to calculate and design large earthworks, tunnels and interior spaces in rock with the idea that she would help excavate a large salt deposit that had been discovered in an old volcanic vent near where Lake Woodrow Wilson had formed.  Rose was taken in by Master Krumhorn, a old rabbit of advanced age who was simply a genius at needle crafts and recognized in little Rose a superior ability to focus for long periods of time on very fine details, skills needed for doing fine embroidery and needlepoint.


Mitzi and Max arrived later in the morning after the three older children had left and took the three younger children to live with them for a few weeks while Margo went back to work in the mine termpoarily.  There were lots of tears, especially from Jan who never ever cried loudly, but couldn’t be consoled this time.  He clung to his mother’s neck, screamed and wailed as if his heart was being ripped from his chest.  Margo was much too concerned about her little son to say anything harsh, she closed the front door to her house and walked all the way to Grandmama and grandpapa’s house while he sobbed in her arms.  By the time they had arrived, a mile-long journey, everybody in the little troupe were emotionally exhausted.  As they walked up the garden path to Mitzi’s front door, Jan suddenly got very quiet, looked up with wet red eyes and sniffed.  When he saw that they were at Grandmama’s house he clamored to be set down and trotted over to Mitzi who stopped to look down at her grandson.  Jan looked up, wiped his eyes on his sleeve and put his paw in his mouth.  Mitzi was easily exasperated and snorted, “Child, what is the matter now?”


Jan remembered that he wasn’t supposed to suck on his paw, withdrew it and stood at attention. “Grandmama?”  He waited for a reply.


Mitzi rolled her eyes. “I’m right here my child, what is your question?”


“Are there cookies?” His face gave every impression of being concerned over some problem, but he remained at attention and waited patiently for his grandmama to answer.


“Of course there are cookies.” Mitzi cocked her head and put her paws on her hips. “What kind of grandmama do you take me for?”


Jan stepped forward gingerly, grabbed Mitzi by her legs, buried his face in her skirts and sobbed again, only softly this time.  At last Margo stepped in, got down on one knee and put her paw on Jan’s back. “Sweetheart, tell mama what the problem is.”


Jan stopped sobbing, turned to his mother and looked down at his toes. “I’m sorry mama.”


Margo had no idea what was running around inside her son’s head and just asked, “What are you sorry for?  You have done nothing wrong.  What is troubling you?”  She put her paw on his face and drew it up so that he could look at her in the eye.


Jan sniffed again and after a few moments he blurted out, “I thought you were giving us away, that you didn’t want us at our home anymore.  I thought that grandmama and grandpapa were taking us away to work in the salt mines.  I didn’t want to work in the salt mines, I was afraid.  So I cried.”


Margo had a feeling that there was more. “Where did you get that idea?  Did Griffin tell you that, or Rosie or Penny, or any of the other children?”


Jan tried to look down at his toes, but Margo held his chin up and patted his cheek again, “No mama.  I dreamed it.  Then Grandmama and Grandpapa came here today and I didn’t want to go away.”


Margo wasn’t getting quite the answer she wanted and tried one more time. “But why did you stop crying?”


Jan got another tear in his eyes, but he managed to squeak out an answer. “Because Grandmama made cookies.”


It made perfect sense to Margo, Jan had misunderstood exactly what was happening today, it was a lot for a small child to grasp.  His older siblings were going off to learn a trade and they would probably establish their own lives and homes after apprenticeship.  It was not uncommon for the older children to take mates after apprenticeship and start their own families too.  This much Jan understood.  But it was the part about going to stay with his grandparents for a few weeks that he didn’t grasp.  Grandmama and Grandpapa didn’t have little children, there home was where one went to get cookies from time to time, it was a happy place.  When Jan finally realized that they were at his grandparent’s home and not the salt mines and that Grandmama had cookies cooling on the counter, it dawned that they weren’t being given away, but that they were going to stay in their happy place for a while.  Margo scooped her little son up in her arms and squeezed him tight. “My little child.  Don’t ever let fear take you like that again.  Do not be afraid to speak to somebody about something that frightens or bothers you ever again.  You cried for nearly an hour about something you were worried about that could have been cleared up in just a few moments by talking it through.”


Jan nodded in agreement and stepped away from his mother. “Mama, can we go inside now and get a cookie?”

NaNoWriMo is Halfway Done

Two weeks down, two weeks to go!


I hope that I can finish as strongly as I started out.  My word count isn't quite at the halfway point though, this last week has been very busy with other life-events that have taken up my writing time. But I have a great story and I am confident that I can pull through in time to get those 50,000 words by November 30.

Here is a little writing sample of what I did manage to get written.

Setting: In this segment, little Sabine has started her apprenticeship along side of her father Benji, who is also finishing his apprenticeship in wagon building.  Sabine has already been introduced to the blacksmith's forge where she learned how to craft the nails used in building a wagon.  In today's lesson, she is learning how to form brass fittings used in the harnesses used to pull the wagons.  She is particularly fascinated in the decorative harness bells that are requested by some customers orders.  The foreman of the foundry allows Sabine to form and pour a brass harness bell using the lost wax process.  Enjoy this little vignette I call Sabine's Bell

After a breakfast of toast with honey, eggs, potatoes, freshly squeezed apple cider, bacon, and sliced tomatoes, Sabine and Benji reported for duty.   It was still dark in the early morning twilight, they were early by fifteen minutes and they took that time to watch the night crew finish up their work.  The big chandelier high up in the rafters was burning brightly and it filled the shop with soft  bright light.  The night crew consisted of the leather workers and the wheel makers as their work didn’t create quite the noise that the blacksmiths and carpenters did.  Sabine observed the young apprentices who had just finished slitting large pieces of leather into long thin strips.  They rolled the leather strips onto a spool to be used later for making harness and straps that the teamsters would use to pull the wagons with.  Each apprentice wore a short shop apron and a razor-sharp knife in a scabbard at their side.  She wanted to converse with them, but they looked tired and she decided she would ‘talk’ to them later.  One of the apprentices, a young beaver fellow, looked up at her, squinted and gave her a strange look as if to say he didn’t feel she belonged.  Sabine just smiled back.  She wasn’t going to let a beaver-lad ruin her day.


The instructor for the day was a river otter named Belinda Bearclover, the foreman of the foundry crew.  She was a journey-level II crafter who specialized in casting all the brass parts used in making the buckles, fasteners, and decorative devices used on the harnesses.  Some of the customers often requested brass fittings on their wagons or carts such as shiney brass hinges or pull handles and Belinda’s crew could make them as fancy as the customer wanted.  Today, they were going to cast decorative bells for the harness of one customer and Sabine was instantly captivated.


Most casting was done in molds made of very fine sand mostened with oil or water.  The molds were made in two parts so that the mold patterns could be taken out before the hot metal was poured into the mold.  For making bells, the mold was formed in one piece around a wax pattern of the bell.  Plaster was used to make the mold and once the plaster set up around the wax pattern of the bell, the mold was heated to melt the wax pattern out of the mold, and to dry up any water that remained trapped in the plaster casting. Sabine got to mix the plaster and pour it around a small wax pattern for the smallest bell the shop made. When the mold was ready, she got to pour the melted brass with Belinda’s help into her mold.  The hard part of the whole process was waiting for the molten metal to cool enough to break away the mold from her bell. 


At last, Belinda handed her a sledge and showed her how to break open the plaster mold so that the brass bell inside wasn’t damaged.  Once free of the plaster, Sabine picked up the newly formed casting with foundry tongs and dunked it into a bucket of cooling water.  It was still so hot that it made a hissing sound for several seconds and sent up a plume of steam.  When it was finally cool ehough to handle, Belinda helped Sabine brush away the remaining plaster and clean out the inside of the bell.  On close inspection, Sabine noticed that the small loop inside the bell where the clapper was hung was missing and she showed Belinda. “Awe sweetie, I’m sorry, the bell is misshapen, it won’t have a voice.” She looked at Sabine and stroked her head to comfort the child. “It’s OK though, we can melt this one down and try again.”


Sabine shook her head no, took out her pad and pencil and wrote. “It is like me. There are other ways.”


Belinda was humbled by the child’s simple logic and she got choked up. “That’s right sweetie, there are other ways to make a bell have a voice, just like you.” She gave Sabine a little hug and took the bell, “Let’s cut the waste metal from the bell and I will let you clean it up and polish it on your own time.  But we still need to make a proper bell for our customer.”



Late update : I managed to push past 25,000 words by the evening!  So, I'm past the half-way point for NaNoWriMo!

What is "Benji The Greaser" About?

It sounds ominous, who is Benji and what is a Greaser?

In the 1960s the society of small creatures of the woodlands had evolved into three main classes, not unlike many human cultures.  There was the 'ruling class' that was characterized by the Masters of the different trades and crafts.  Any creature who excelled at their craft to the highest degree of proficiency could eventually rise to become a Master.  There was usually only one Master per trade.  Masters appointed Magistrates and paid them a stipend to govern by hearing disputes and making judgments according to the bylaws written by the Masters.  Thus, the Masters were the highest level of authority in the land, the Magistrates lower down the ladder of authority. 

The remainder the population, from the journeyman level creatures down through the apprentices, constituted the 'working class'.  Since virtually every creature apprenticed in some trade or craft during their youth, all enjoyed the freedoms and rights associated with membership in this class.  In this regard,all creatures of the Glen Meadow Watershed, ruling class and working class lived on fairly level ground.

All except the peasants, were the lowest order of society and were generally reviled. Many were vagabonds, thieves, so-called gypsies, or unskilled laborers.  Very few peasants had friends or associates in the general community and they had no freedoms or rights as citizens. Thus, they were considered by many to be non-citizens.  The youngsters of the time called them 'Greasers,' as opposed to being called 'Frat,' the abbreviated form of 'fraternity,' the brotherhood of citizens.   Nobody in the woodland really remembers where these terms came from, quite possibly from the humans who lived nearby.  One thing was certain, the youth used these terms as epithets for each other as insults, the way youngsters often do.  

Benjamin Redfern, a black-footed ferret, had been apprenticed to the Master MetalCrafter who specialized in silver and copper wares.  This Master was abusive and often beat the young apprentices for the smallest infractions during training.  After one particularly harsh beating left Benji's eye swollen shut and his paw injured so that he couldn't see his work or hold the small tools.  After Benji's work production slowed as a result of his injuries, the Master cut Benji's rations to bread and water and made him sleep in the barn.  Benji ran away from his Master and returned home, much to the chagrin of his mother and father.

To abandon one's apprenticeship was a cardinal sin in this culture and every effort was made by Benji's parents to compel him to return to his training, but to no avail, the child wept bitter tears and pleaded to never go back.  When Benji's father paid a visit to the cruel Master to smooth things over he observed that there were several young apprentices with bruises and wounds that could have only been caused by abuse.  Benji's father relented and welcomed his son home, but with sadness and foreboding, Benji's life would never be easy.  Not only had Benji given up on his training, but he had lost his status as a citizen as well.  His only hope of making a living was to attempt to find any unskilled work available, and there was no guarantee that anybody would hire him or pay him enough to live on.  Nobody wanted to hire a worker who had run away from a Master.

And all his former mates now referred to him as Greaser and not Frat. 

As it turned out, Benji found a niche and became quite successful at making a very good living.  He had considerable skill at making trades and putting together deals with the local sellers of produce.  He built a cart and was able to sell produce to other areas in the woodlands where produce was difficult to get.  He also used some of the metal-working skills he had learned to mend pots, sharpen knives and do small repairs for his regular customers.  He was well liked because of his positive attitude and charm and when he came of age, he fell in love with a beautiful young female, named Margo, who took him as her mate.   

The book I'm writing about Benji begins in 1963, Margo and Benji have seven children and a nice home along a country lane that Benji's parents helped them build.  Despite Benji's success to this point, trouble begins brewing in the villages and Benji seems to be caught in the middle of it and once again, his status as a Greaser is at the center of the conflict. 


Next up...Who is Margo and why would she marry a peasant?

Welcome Back

We had a hiatus over the summer as we moved our website from one hosting service to another, but we're back now just in time for NaNoWriMo 2015.  I've already started writing for the event, and as of today, November 4, I've completed 13,000+ words toward my goal of 50,000 words in 30 days.

I'm continuing the story of Benji Redfern and his family that I started last year.  Benjamin Redfern is a Black-footed Ferret who makes his living on the fringes of his society.  He abandoned his apprenticeship as a youngster because he perceived he was being abused by his Master.  Without a trade or craft, he is relegated to the status of peasant and is destined to do menial labor for the rest of his life.  But Benji is anything but lowly, ordinary or and element of the fringe, he is smart, clever and friendly and he has made a very good living pulling his cart throughout all the villages of Glen Meadow bartering, trading, and doing minor repairs. He is always making deals, helping others out with problems or lending a helping paw and has earned the nickname "Benji the Greaser" because of his knack for making slick deals happen that benefit everybody concerned.

When Benji is beaten nearly to death and his cart destroyed, Benji relents and finally agrees to re-enter an apprenticeship as an adult so that he can make an 'honest living' working in his father's wainwright shop.  Though he earns a respectable trade, Benji must still fight prejudice in the local villages and soon discovers a plot that threatens the lives of every small creature in the entire Glen Meadow watershed.  Can Benji use his past skills as a deal-broker and organizer to save the entire population and save their culture and heritage as well?

Week One of NaNoWriMo is in the Books

After seven days of furious writing, I have managed to write over 17000 words and I am well on my way to meeting my goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of November.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am continuing the story I started last year about Benji and his delightful family during one of Glen Meadow's most dangerous periods of time, the events that led up to the Great Fire of 1964.  

Benji and his beautiful mate Margo have produced two litters that resulted in seven children (so far).  In the first litter there is Griffin, Rose and Penny who are just now old enough to be sent away to the different Masters and Holders to learn a craft or trade as apprentices.  The younger litter comprised of Elzie, Fritzi, Jan and Sabine are barely past the age of toddlers but are old enough to start learning their letters and figures. 

The youngest and smallest of the offspring, Sabine is a remarkable child in that she was born mute.  Though she has no voice, she develops her own way of communicating with her family, friends and the community by using paw gestures and body movements.  She is strong-willed, smart and completely devoted to her father, so much so, that she devotes her life to helping him in his work.

Sabine's roll in her tribe becomes the stuff of legend and she is remembered in the history of Glen Meadow as the "Weasel That Roared."