Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

6-19-13 - Miles 001“You know, it’s been blissfully quiet around here the past few days. Ever since you insisted your characters participate in that . . . what was it called? The Gratitude Scavenger Hunt? (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/were-doing-what/) . . . we’ve hardly heard a peep out of them!” My husband sighed contentedly. “They don’t even take meals with us.”

“I know.” I smiled at him. “They really seem to be enjoying it. They even asked if they could have a few more days to work on it.”

“Are they all still working downstairs in the conference room?” Miles furrowed his brow and tilted his head.

“Yeah, why?”

He chuckled. “Well, it’s been four days now, and I haven’t heard anyone killing your Arrogant One yet.”

I laughed. “Well, Dragon arranged individual offices off the conference room, so everyone could work in private without interfering with each other or getting on each other’s nerves.”

Miles shook his head. “I still don’t understand how the conference room works. It looks different every time I go in there – a different size, a different shape . . .”

I gave his hand a squeeze as I tugged him out of his chair. “Don’t try to understand it, honey. It’s magic. Let’s just get some dinner.”

“The leftover corn chowder?” His eyes gleamed.

I nodded. “Yup. And some roasted cauliflower and broccoli.”

“Now, that’s magic! Race you to the kitchen!”

*  *  *

dragon talking

“Everyone has finished collecting or creating their items or images, or preparing their illusions, for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt, Mistress.” Dragon’s maw stretched into a wide, toothy smile and her tail twitched with excitement.

“Very well. Let’s go down and see what everyone has.”

Miles and I followed the bulky reptile down the steps and into the conference room. Everyone’s items were displayed on the huge round table in the middle of the room. My characters milled around, each slowly taking their place next to their individual items.

“How do you wish to do this, Mistress?” Cleric fidgeted with her rope belt and shifted her weight from foot to foot.

“Well, let’s see.” I rubbed my chin while I considered several approaches. “I think the best idea is for me to read off each category from the list, and everyone can take turns presenting their items for that category.”

I looked around at my assembled characters, who nodded their understanding and agreement. I was surprised how nervous they all appeared. Cleric wasn’t the only one shuffling back and forth on her feet, and I thought I saw several characters sweating. I hoped that meant they had taken the activity seriously, perhaps had even learned something from it.

I picked up my list and began. “The first item you were to find was something that makes a beautiful sound. Who wants to start?”

gypsy-facing-rightMeadowlark singing - framedMy Gypsy eagerly stepped forward and held up a picture of a bird. “I chose a Meadowlark. Their sweet song is a magnificent sound.” He whistled, perfectly mimicking the slurred, flute-like melody of the Eastern Meadowlark.

Young hero 2horse neighing in frameMy Young Hero stepped forward next. “I think a horse makes a beautiful sound, neighing to a friend, or whinnying to greet the day.” He held aloft a picture taken from a magazine.

mens-991728_1280Horses galloping - framedMy Foreman nodded and raised his picture. “I think the sound a horse makes is beautiful, too, only I selected the thundering sound of their hooves as a herd of steeds gallops across a field.”

dragon looking rightWind blowing - framedDragon took center stage next, holding aloft a photo. “I think the sound of a loud wind rushing through trees is beautiful. I enchanted this picture to produce that sound.” As she murmured an incantation, the sound of rushing wind filled the room for a few moments.

Elf facing rightwind-chimesAs the sound died down, Cleric stepped forward, holding a small wind chime she had constructed. “I do not believe this would withstand the force of the wind from Dragon’s enchanted image, but I think when the chimes are tickled by a gentle breeze, the sound they produce is most beautiful.” Cleric gently shook the chimes, making a soft tinkling sound.

sorceress-facing-rightWaves lapping against the shore - framedSorceress waited for the melodious chimes to quiet before producing her item, an enchanted image of waves lapping against the shore. “It is the beautiful sound that used to lull me to sleep on my native island.”

Bounty Hunterwaterfall - framed“I am afraid I cannot produce the sound effects, but I chose this photo of a rushing waterfall to depict something that makes a beautiful sound.” My Bounty Hunter showed us the photo.

DwarfDinner gong“Well, I be havin’ sound ee-ffects!” My Old Dwarf grinned as he clanged a triangular gong. “I be thinkin’ there be nuttin’ wat be makin’ a sound as bee-you-tee-full as a dinner bell.”

Arrogant One facing rightThe last of my characters to share his first item, my Arrogant One, stood apart from the group. He was scuffing one foot back and forth in an uncharacteristic display of stage fright. He cleared his throat several times before mumbling his explanation. “The most beautiful sound I have ever heard was produced by an audience clapping and cheering.” He passed his hand over an enchanted image, and the room was filled with thunderous applause, and loud cheers and whistles.

Applause - framed

It took quite a few minutes to get my Arrogant One to silence his enchanted image, as he closed his eyes and basked in the conjured applause. But soon I had my characters back to the task at hand.

We moved quickly through the next four categories.

Lightning stormThe catagory find something that smells amazing produced few surprises, among them being Dragon’s choice of a lightning storm. “Have you ever really smelled the air after you see a huge bolt of lightning?” Her nostrils quivered, and her tail twitched in delight.

Field of wildflowersBounty Hunter’s field full of wildflowers was equally surprising. “What? You think someone in my profession cannot appreciate the delicate fragrance of wildflowers in bloom?”

Catnip was rather predictable as the item Sorceress thought smelled amazing, as was her choice of milk for the next category, find your favorite beverage. Both choices reflected her exotic heritage, and I could almost hear her purring as she made her presentations.milkcatnip

 

 

 

lemonade

Dragon’s choice of lemonade as her favorite beverage, however, was unexpected. “Not too sweet, though.” She grimaced. “Sugar negates the delightful burn of the acid.”

rose-quartzFind something that is your favorite color produced few surprises. Cleric’s choice of rose quartz was predictable. “It is the color associated with the deity whom I serve back in my world.”

Equally predictable in that category were my Old Dwarf’s choice of pewter mugs, my Arrogant One’s selection of gold coins, and my Gypsy’s option of a Northern Cardinal or Redbird.

sunflower

Again, it was Dragon and my Bounty Hunter who surprised me. “And what is wrong with the color of sunflowers?” My Bounty Hunter scoffed.

Sky after sunsetDragon smiled a toothy grin, then explained her choice. “The color of the sky right after sunset is most pleasing to me. It also has a very personal meaning.” She glanced at my Young Hero. “When I was younger, I had not yet developed my ability to change colors. Someone back in my world once likened my color to that of the sky at twilight.”

There were no surprises at all in the category find something useful to you.

fireplace2“Of course, I chose my fireplace.” Dragon looked around, her expression daring anyone to make a remark.

Battle axe“And I be lost wit-out me battle axe.” My Old Dwarf brandished it, then gave the axe head a quick swipe with a polishing cloth.

saddle

My Foreman nodded. “As I would be without a saddle.”

dagger - bullseye

“And I, without my dagger.” My Gypsy flipped it end over end at a target hanging on the wall, scoring a perfect bulls-eye.

 

My Young Hero claimed a bag of holding as his most useful item, while Cleric needed her healing herbs, Sorceress, her scrying bowl, and my Bounty Hunter, a disguise.

Magician's staff“My staff is my most useful item.” My Arrogant One puffed himself up. “It is a focus for my magic, a walking stick, and a weapon. I can also tie a bundle to it and carry it over my shoulder or tie a string to the end for a fishing pole.”

That brought us to the last category – find something to give someone else to make them smile.

Dragon scale 2“The best gift I could give someone to produce a smile would be one of my scales.” Dragon held a small iridescent scale in her hand. “It is not only beautiful, but it is almost indestructible, so the recipient could conceivably have it for a lifetime. It grants powerful protection and has magical properties that can be activated by those with the proper knowledge. How could such a wondrous gift fail to make someone smile?”

Wood carving

My Old Dwarf showed us a small wood carving he had made. “I be thinkin’ thet summat I be takin’ tha time an’ effort ta be makin’ wit me very ownest hands be puttin’ a smile on anyone’s face.”

flowers

My Foreman nodded. “I envy you your talent, my rotund little friend. All I have to offer to put a smile on someone’s face is a posy.”

dried flowers and herbsCleric smiled. “Those flowers would certainly make me smile. I also chose flowers, but mine are an arrangement of dried flowers and herbs.”

 

Charm

 

“I would give someone a charm or a talisman.” My Gypsy displayed his offering.

heart-shaped stonesMy Young Hero admired his friend’s item. “My gift would be similar.” He held out a handful of small rocks. “Nature created these heart-shaped stones. They made me smile, and I am sure they would do the same for anyone to whom I would bequeath them.”

book

“A book has always seemed a much-appreciated gift.” Sorceress held up a tome adorned with flowers.

bottle of wine or spirits

“As is a bottle of fine wine or spirits.” My Bounty Hunter indicated his item.

 

My Arrogant One was the last to present his item. All eyes turned to him, and we waited. He scuffed his toe back and forth on the carpet, and he hung his head. “I have never given a gift to anyone. I have nothing to make another smile.”

My other characters seemed unsurprised. “Selfish people rarely know how to make others smile.” Although Dragon meant it to be a whisper, her voice carried through the room, and I saw my Arrogant One’s face turn scarlet.

Surprisingly, it was my husband who came to the annoying elf’s rescue. Miles walked over to the conference table and picked up my Arrogant One’s staff. He turned to the pompous figure and held out the staff. “Take it.”

Cautiously, obviously fearing a trick, the elf reached out and took hold of the staff.

“Now, perform.” My husband turned and rejoined me and the others watching the elf.

“What?” My Arrogant One furrowed his brow and tilted his head.

“You have a great gift to share, with which to put a smile on everyone’s face. Create some illusions, give a performance. That is what you can give someone else to make them smile.” Miles raised an eyebrow at the elf.

Slowly, a smile spread across my Arrogant One’s face as understanding dawned. He drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and held his staff aloft. He treated us all to a truly amazing performance of illusory magic and sleight of hand. When it was over, the elf had no need of an enchanted image to create applause.

Performing illusion

Once the hurrahs had died down, I addressed the group. “I hope you all had some fun with this Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. I also hope you learned something from it.”

My characters all nodded and murmured among themselves. Finally, Dragon spoke for the group. “I believe it has become obvious to all of us that complaining is a waste of effort. If we are bored, we can always engage in fruitful and enjoyable activities. We are grateful to you for making us realize this.”

“I think we also learned to just look around us for things for which we can be grateful, like a beautiful sound or smell, a pretty color, a favorite beverage.” My Bounty Hunter nodded toward the conference table holding all the items he and his companions found for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.

“And I am grateful to have learned that everyone has something to give to others, and that giving is as pleasurable as receiving.” My Arrogant One smiled.

“Good lessons, all!” I beamed at my characters. “I hope you all keep your feelings of gratitude going forward.”

“Wale, I be real gratitudinal iffin dinner be ready soon.” My Old Dwarf winked and headed for the stairs.

We hope you all enjoyed the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt as much as my characters did, and I hope you enjoyed the insight into each character, with the choices they made for each category. In case you missed anyone’s presentation, here is the list of characters and the items they chose for each category.

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

Be sure to join us next week for another adventure! We’ll leave the porch light on for you!

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We’re Doing WHAT?

We’re Doing WHAT?

rainMiles and I were in the living room with some of my characters, watching the storm outside. Driving rain pounded against the windows and booming thunder shook the house.

Gypsy close-up“Oh, great! The rain is coming down in buckets!” My Gypsy frowned at the scene unfolding in the yard. He turned away from the French doors to the deck, stomped across the living room, threw himself into a chair, and crossed his arms over his chest. “I am so tired of being stuck inside! First, everyone was sick. Now, it looks like the annual monsoon season we had back in our world! The ducks from the pond are now swimming in the back yard!”Ducks swimming in the yard

Young hero 2“I know!” My Young Hero wore a frown identical to his friend’s. “We have not been able to exercise our horses or go on an outing in weeks! I am going to forget how to ride if we are not able to get to the horses soon!”

Foreman facing right closeupMy Foreman snorted. “We just went on a trail ride three weeks ago. (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/an-old-mystery-revisited/) But I agree. I am impatient for the weather to clear, that we may spend another day in the saddle.” He sighed and raked his hand through his hair as he stared at the back yard, now flooding with the overflow from the pond.

Cleric and Sorceress stomped into the room, with Dragon close behind.

Sorceress wrinkled her nose as she looked out the door. “When is this rain going to stop? Cleric and I have need of more botanicals for our spell components!”

Dragon snarled at her companions, and dark smoke spurted from her snout. “Why ask me? I do not control the weather!” She shivered. “It is so damp! I know I am going to get sick again! I need my fire.” She conjured her illusory fireplace and curled up on the floor in front of it.Smoke drifting from Dragon's snout

“Oh, now you will roast us all to death, because you are cold?” Cleric glared at Dragon, who responded by twitching her tail and spewing more clouds of black smoke.

Arrogant One facing rightbounty-hunter-facing-other-directionMy Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter strode into the room, coming to a dead stop in front of the doors.

“It is still raining!” My Arrogant One placed his hands on his hips and contorted his face into an exaggerated pout. “The shed will be flooded!”

“It would not be flooded if you would fix the leaky roof!” My Bounty Hunter spoke casually, but there was steel under his words.

The elf rounded on his sidekick. “I did! I cannot help it if every time I fix one leak, two more appear! And I do not see you doing anything to help.”

Dwarf and hamMy Old Dwarf wandered into the room, munching on a ham. He shook his head at my Arrogant One. “Eh, ye be needin’ ta be doin’ more ’en jest be magickin’ tha leaks! Ye be needin’ ta be usin’ hammer an’ nails, elfie.”

“Do not call me elfie!” My Arrogant One’s voice, a 200-decible screechy approximation of an operatic soprano, startled several ducks that had been swimming in the back of the flooded yard.

“Okay, that’s enough!” I scowled at my characters. “All I’ve heard all morning is complain, complain, complain!”

“We are sorry, Mistress.” Cleric tried to look contrite. “But we are bored and getting on each other’s nerves.”

I rose from my chair and folded my arms over my chest. I narrowed my eyes as I looked around the room at my characters. “Well, I have an idea how to stop being bored. You are all going on a scavenger hunt.”

Elf facing right“A scavenger hunt, Mistress? What is that?” Cleric’s cornflower blue eyes were filled with curiosity.

My eyes widened. “You never went on a scavenger hunt when you were a youngster?”

Cleric shook her head.

“Have any of you ever been on a scavenger hunt?” I looked around the room. Only three of my characters nodded.
Gypsy
My Gypsy leaned forward. “I remember going on scavenger hunts! My grammy organized them for all the children in the village. They were fun!”

Young hero 2My Young Hero frowned. “My parents used to organize them for my brother and me, and some of our friends. I was never very good at finding the things on the list.”
Dwarf and ham 2
“When I be jest a young pup, me mam and pap been sendin’ me off on scavenger hunts all’a time. I be real good at ’em.” My Old Dwarf took another bite of ham.

sorceress-facing-rightSorceress frowned. “Mistress, for those among us who were deprived of such a fun activity in our youth, could you please explain in detail this concept of a scavenger hunt?”

I sighed. “Well, in a normal scavenger hunt, the participants are given a list of items they must find and collect within a set amount of time. The winner might be the one who collects every item on the list, or perhaps the first one to collect all the required items.”

bounty-hunter-facing-other-directionMy Bounty Hunter grunted. “You said in a normal scavenger hunt, this is how things are done. Are we to infer that this will not be a normal scavenger hunt?”

I nodded. “That’s correct. In a normal scavenger hunt, you need to collect the physical items appearing on the list. They could be things like string, a button, a flower, a feather, a leaf. However, the fact we are confined to the house would greatly limit the items I could put on the list. So for this scavenger hunt, you need to be creative. If the item can be found in the house, and it is something small enough to carry, you may collect the actual item. Otherwise, you can collect a picture of the item.”

scaly dragon looking rightDragon thrashed her tail. “And, pray tell, where are we to find pictures of these items?”

magazinesI laughed. “I have stacks of old magazines I’ll bring to the conference room. You can look through them. Also, if you are artistic, you can create your own picture of the items. You can get all your art supplies from Miles. He has paper, scissors, color pencils, chalk, charcoal, paint, and ink. I think he even has crayons, glue and paste.”

6-19-13 - Miles 001I looked to Miles for confirmation, and he nodded. “Yes, I have anything you might need. I’ll put it all in the conference room, next to the magazines.”

IllusionI smiled. “And, for those of you adept at magic, you may create small illusions of the objects.” I glanced at my Arrogant One. “You are not to create anything that would cause any harm or damage.”

The elf scoffed. “As if any of us would!”

Several of my characters rolled their eyes.

My Young Hero chewed on his bottom lip and furrowed his brow. “How many items will be on this list, and how long will we have to collect or create them?”

I stroked my chin as I considered the question. “There will only be six items on the list, and you will have two days to complete the scavenger hunt.”

“And everyone will be looking for the same items, Mistress?” Cleric fidgeted with her corded belt.

for scavenger hunt

I shook my head. “In a regular scavenger hunt, everyone would be looking for the same things, like a button, a coin, a feather. But this is going to be a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. All of the items on the list are things that make you happy, things for which you should feel grateful.”

I looked around and saw nothing but blank stares. I sighed. “Okay. So, let’s say one of the items on the list is something that makes you laugh. That would be something different for each of you. One person might choose to write out a joke, while another person might choose to copy the words to a silly song or find a funny picture. So, no, you will not be collecting the same items.”

Everyone groaned.

“Will there be a prize for collecting all the items on the list? Or for being the first to complete the scavenger hunt? Or, mayhap, a prize for the most creative representation of an item on the list?” My Gypsy sounded hopeful.

I shrugged. “We’ll see. I think the prize, or benefit, of the hunt is just to stop dwelling on how miserable it is to be stuck inside and remember all the things that make you happy, the things for which you should be grateful.”

arrogant-one-facing-right“Well, I for one, have no intention of participating in such a juvenile endeavor!” My Arrogant One pompously drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and grasped his cloak in both hands. “I have more important things on which to spend my valuable time.”bounty-hunter-facing-other-direction

“Afraid you would not be able to find the items?” My Bounty Hunter smirked at his companion.

The elf sneered. “I assure you, I would have no problems finding any item on the list.”

“Good.” I narrowed my eyes and stared at him. “Because all of you will be participating.”

“Oh, very well! Just give us the list, then.” My Arrogant One folded his arms in front of him and tapped his foot impatiently. “The sooner we get started, the sooner we can end this nonsense.”

“I’ll have the list for you shortly after lunch. I will make a copy for each person.”

* * *

My characters milled about as I handed out copies of the list for the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. They started reading the lists as if they couldn’t understand them.

Something that makes a beautiful sound?”

Something that smells amazing?”

Your favorite beverage?”

My Arrogant One scanned the list I handed him. His eyes widened. “Something to give someone else to make them smile?” He blinked, then thrust the paper back at me. “This is utterly ridiculous and a total waste of my valuable time!”

I put my hand up in my best imitation of a cop stopping traffic, and I narrowed my eyes. “Keep it. You will participate.”

My Old Dwarf grinned as he read the list. “Eh! This be too easy, lass! I be back in a few minutes wit all me items.”

“Remember to put some thought into the items you choose. Don’t pick something just because it’s easy. And don’t pick something you think is the expected item. Like I said before, everyone will choose different items. There are no right or wrong items for this Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. Any questions?” I looked around at my characters. “No? Then go have fun!”

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt - Master list

 

What items do you think each of the characters will collect? Be sure to come back next week and see! We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Still Out Sick – Gypsy Filling in With Recycled Blogs

Still Out Sick – Gypsy Filling in With Recycled Blogs

gypsy-facing-rightHail, good readers! Prithee allow me to introduce myself. I am the Gypsy, sidekick and best friend of the Young Hero about whose exploits Mistress Writer has penned numerous tales. I fear I must report Mistress Writer’s malady has not improved since Dragon so kindly and so capably filled in for her last week. But, alas, now Dragon and half our number are ill as well. Dragon has beseeched me to fill in this week in presenting to you readers an entertaining and informative narrative. However, I most humbly confess I am no scribe!

Since any attempt I would make to author a blog would bore the average reader into a coma, I decided to just . . . what is the word Mistress Writer and Master Miles use? Oh, yes! I decided to recycle two earlier blogs.

Reviewing previous blogs, I have found several times in the past when Mistress Writer was ill. I narrowed down the accounts to two instances. Once, she was afflicted with a very bad cold. Another time, she had contracted an ailment she termed cabin fever. I selected these two blogs to recycle today as Mistress Writer seems to be suffering from both maladies now.

wren 2Also, both blogs relate to birds, a subject near and dear to my heart. I do not mean to brag – after all, I am the Gypsy, not the Arrogant One – but I am extremely knowledgeable about birds. I could identify every bird in my world by sight and by ear, and I have become almost as well versed in the birds of this world. I daresay I play an important role in the first of the two blogs I selected, identifying some birds for my less knowledgeable companions, and relating information about various types of birds. I hope you find both blogs entertaining and informative.

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/todays-blog-is-for-the-birds/

https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/05/20/backyard-birding-bliss/

gypsy-facing-rightCharing shoes 2I do hope you enjoyed the two blogs I recycled. If so, I would consider it a great personal favor if you could leave a comment for Dragon. She warned me what would happen should I not do a good job filling in for her and Mistress Writer. She will char my shoes with my feet still in them – a threat she often makes to Master Miles. And I am most fond of both my shoes and my feet!

I sincerely hope that Mistress Writer and Dragon will have recovered sufficiently by next week that I can step down from my position as temporary scribe. We hope to see you again next week, when we can ascertain if that has happened! We will leave the porch light on for you!

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Filling in and Bringing You a Short History

Filling in and Bringing You a Short History

Elf cleric close-upGood morrow, faithful readers! Welcome friends, both longstanding and new! Dragon here, in my persona of an elf maiden, filling in for Mistress Writer. She is, unfortunately, under the weather. At least I think that is the proper idiom. She is once again afflicted with one of her frequent respiratory ailments. I believe I heard Master Miles, her longsuffering mate, tell someone Mistress Writer was coughing up a lung, not that I understand that bit of vernacular. I mean, really, how can someone cough up a lung?

Elf facing rightCleric is administering her healing herbs, and she reports that Mistress Writer is not coughing quite as much as she was, but progress is slow. At any rate, until Mistress Writer is sufficiently recovered to return to her computer keyboard, I fear you will have to bear with me as I attempt to take her place as wordsmith, historian, and entertainer.

manuscriptsA thought recently occurred to me. Although you have been reading for several years now of the adventures shared by me and my companions in this world, what Mistress Writer terms the real world, perchance you are not aware of our prior history. Before the nine of us fell from Mistress Writer’s manuscripts and came to live in this world, we were residents of another world, a world far different from this one. You may term it backward, as it is seriously lacking in your technology. Mistress Writer calls it a medieval world. She notes that it is populated with mythological creatures (such as your obedient servant) and abounds in magic (a force that many believe died out long ago in your world. They are wrong about the magic being gone, of course, but you did not hear that from me.)

Mistress Writer first introduced me into her second manuscript at the point of my initial encounter with her Young Hero, her Gypsy, and Cleric. But I can remember a time before that, a time about which Mistress Writer knows little or nothing. Long before I encountered the others, a dapper young dwarf used to visit me. He sometimes brought me gifts – little wood or stone carvings he made himself. He was an accomplished artist. He and I grew quite fond of each other, though the last time I saw him in my world was long before the events recorded in Mistress Writer’s manuscripts. I have reason to believe he is the Old Dwarf who was the focus of Mistress Writer’s first manuscript, the Old Dwarf who also now finds himself in this world with me and my other companions. Although he and I have never discussed the matter, it is obvious to us, as it should be to you readers, that the Old Dwarf and I share a very special friendship.

Mistress Writer had introduced me in her manuscripts at a point in history when I was a desert dweller. I had been residing there, in the extreme heat, for almost as long as I could remember. Perhaps that is why I so abhor the weather in this place called Minnesota where I now reside. The cold, which seems to last for so many more months than does the heat, seeps into my bones and chills my soul!

The first time I met the Young Hero, the Gypsy, and Cleric in my world, they were visiting my desert. As soon as I encountered them, I invited them to dinner. No, not as my guests; rather, as the main course. You will be relieved to know, I am sure, that did not happen. The four of us became fast friends. I even helped them on a quest!

The Young Hero and I grew particularly close. He was the one who gave me a pronounceable name. I cannot reveal it here, but I can say I was quite enamored of it.

Young hero 2The Young Hero, a half-dwarf, was the star, if you will, of the first two manuscripts in Mistress Writer’s series. He began as a naive and rather sheltered child, raised on a renowned horse farm owned by his adoptive human parents. His best friends – indeed, his only friends for many years – were his adoptive brother, his pony, the Gypsy, and Cleric. The Young Hero was forced by circumstances to grow up quickly. He was forced to assume a role that would, if he could successfully complete his quest, change his world. Although I cannot reveal the nature of his quest, nor if he had successfully completed it by the end of the second book (we know nothing about events past that point, as that was all Mistress Writer had written when we fell out of her manuscripts), I think you would enjoy the segment of his poignant tale with which I am familiar.

gypsy-facing-rightThe Gypsy, although not the star of Mistress Writer’s tales, was a capable sidekick and a valued member of the ensemble cast. He was a jack-of-all-trades. He and his people were eminent horsemen, and he had some knowledge of magic, learned at his grandmother’s knee. He favored a quick wit and a sharp blade when defending himself or his companions. He also had the peculiar talent of being able to flawlessly imitate any birdcall he heard.

The Gypsy and I had a contentious relationship. Initially, he was convinced that I would, indeed, have him for dinner someday. It took a long time for him to learn to trust me. Meanwhile, I delighted in teasing him and making him nervous.

ElfCleric, a pious young woman of elven heritage, was the deity-appointed protector of the Young Hero. I am obliged to admit she fascinated me. I was a creature of magic. I did not understand the concept of religion and deities. Cleric’s allegiance to her goddess made no sense to me. Her failure to obey one she claimed to serve made even less sense.

Oh! Mayhap I should not have revealed that information! Forsooth, Cleric is my friend, and I have no desire to embarrass her. Of course, her faith, coupled with her failure, is a large part of who she was, and how she faced the world. At the end of the second manuscript (which, again, was all Mistress Writer had completed at the time we fell out of them and into this world) Cleric had yet to learn a great deal of her own personal history. I hope her journey of self-discovery, which Mistress Writer is making the focal point of the third manuscript, is rewarding.

One of our number whom I met later in the events chronicled by Mistress Writer was Sorceress. This creature was easier for me to understand than was Cleric. Sorceress and I shared a love of, and a mastery of, magic. We also shared a sense of abiding loyalty to anyone we considered a friend.Stu-04-NatGal

None of us, not even Mistress Writer, have ever been able to understand what happened to Sorceress when she fell from the manuscripts. The Sorceress who now resides with us in this world bears little physical resemblance to the Sorceress we knew in our world. In our world Sorceress was not human. She was a member of an exotic race. But the Sorceress we know here and the exotic creature we knew in our world are one and the same. Sorceress remembers almost fainting the first time she laid eyes on my majestic form. She remembers aiding the Young Hero, the Gypsy, and Cleric in their quest. And she remembers a musty little man . . . but wait! You know nothing of him . . . yet.

Foreman facing right closeupAnother member of our ensemble, The Foreman, was a former cavalry officer who was wounded in battle and left a physical and emotional cripple. He found new purpose when the owner of the most important horse-breeding operation in the kingdom hired him as foreman. He found more than that when he had to save the adopted son of his boss and friend. Terrifying memories plagued the man, and for a time he was full of hatred and prejudice, which complicated his quest to rescue the half-dwarf.

Arrogant One facing rightTwo more of our companions, the Arrogant One and the Bounty Hunter, were not what you would call our friends in the adventure that Mistress Writer documented. The Arrogant One had only a cameo appearance in Mistress Writer’s second manuscript. The elf was, I must reluctantly admit, an illusionist extraordinaire. His haughty nature and atrocious manners, however, were evident even in his short appearance. I was appalled when Mistress Writer told me the Arrogant One will play a prominent part in the third manuscript.

bounty-hunter-facing-other-directionThe Bounty Hunter is a mystery to the rest of us. The Young Hero and his companions made more than one powerful enemy, and more than one bounty hunter was employed to thwart the Young Hero’s quest and retrieve items he had procured. I daresay the Bounty Hunter who ended up here with us could be any one of those bounty hunters, but he refuses to reveal himself to us. He even told us, when he first fell out of the manuscripts, that he was an assassin. Which one he is does not matter, as they were all cunning and dangerous foes. I am not certain I trust him in this world, especially as he and the Arrogant One have become, shall we say, thick as thieves.

DwarfThe Old Dwarf, the final member of our little band of expatriates, was the focus of the first manuscript, even if he was not exactly the hero. He was someone who generated ambivalence in those who knew him. I have heard him described as one who did all the wrong things for all the right reasons. Suffice it to say, he was the one who set in motion the series of events that Mistress Writer felt important enough to record for posterity.

I hope you have enjoyed this tiny glimpse into the history of the characters with whom you visit each week. The nine of us have changed considerably since our initial entry into this world (or at least most of us have – I doubt the Arrogant One will ever change, despite assurances by Mistress Writer) and I am sure we will continue to change and grow as we persevere in trying to fit into this alien and technologically advanced environment.

Mayhap someday, when Mistress Writer’s manuscripts are published, you will enjoy discovering the grand adventures the nine of us shared. Until then, as Mistress Writer says every week, be sure to come back next week for another of our little adventures. We will leave the porch light on for you!

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An Old Mystery Revisited

An Old Mystery Revisited

Sitting on deck watching horsesMy Foreman, my Gypsy, and my Young Hero had just finished a morning workout with their illusory horses. Cleric and I, along with the ersatz elf maiden, Dragon, had watched them from the deck as they put their horses through their paces. Now, Cleric set out a tall pitcher of lemonade and six glasses while my Foreman and the lads finished grooming their horses and turning them out to pasture.

Cleric filled a glass and passed it to me. “Watching the riding exhibition this morning, my mind kept straying back to Mystery . . . I mean Peaches . . . and her young master, Colton. I wonder how they are faring these days.”

shaggy pony facing the other wayI knew Cleric was referring to a small horse that had shown up in our yard last December. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/mystery/

Peaches and ColtonAfter a fantastic adventure that included Mystery being possessed by creatures inadvertently brought to our world by Dragon, we had finally discovered that the little horse was actually named Peaches. She was a very special horse, trained to work with a blind rider, and she was owned by a young boy named Colton. She gave Colton a bit of freedom and normalcy in his life. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/mystery-solved/

“Funny you should ask about Mystery.” I smiled.

“What about Mystery?” My Foreman gratefully accepted a glass of lemonade and sat down on a deck chair to drink it. The two lads also grabbed cool drinks and settled down to join the conversation.

I grinned. “Cleric had just mentioned our old friend, Mystery, a.k.a. Peaches, and the little horse’s master, Colton. I was about to tell her that Colton’s mom, Anna, called me this morning. Colton has invited us to go trail riding with him.”

Elf facing rightCleric furrowed her brow and chewed her lower lip. “Mistress, I have never ridden a horse.”

“The servant of the goddess of the horse has never ridden one of her deity’s favored creatures?” I gaped at Cleric, who blushed furiously and hung her head.Elf cleric

“I have never ridden, either.” Dragon pursed her lips. “I am not sure I want to.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Well, that’s up to you, but Colton will be very disappointed. He told his mom to be sure I understood that the invitation was for the three wonderful ladies who brought Peaches back to him – me, Dray, and Clara.”

Cleric’s cornflower blue eyes widened. “He remembered the names we used!” A smile flashed across her face, but immediately faded to a frown. “But even if we wanted to go riding, we do not have any horses.”

Dragon rubbed the back of her neck and furrowed her brow. “I suppose, if it is really important to the boy, I could produce some illusory horses, similar to the ones I created for our three resident horsemen.”

I nodded. “That would be wonderful, and I’m sure Colton will be happy to have us visit and go riding with him.”

My Young Hero cleared his throat. “Mistress, is there any way the three of us could join you?” He gestured at himself, my Gypsy, and my Foreman.

“Sure. Anna said we should feel free to bring more friends with us.”

The lad smiled, and he had a faraway look in his eyes. “I remember the splendid times I had with my brother, riding through the countryside. We were rarely, if ever, confined within a fence when we rode.” Suddenly, he blushed. “But I do not mean to complain! I know you, Dragon, have gone to a lot of trouble creating the illusory horses and stable for us, and keeping everything hidden from the neighbors with a spell of concealment. And you, Foreman, have spent much time instructing me and the Gypsy, and helping us improve our horsemanship.” He gulped some of the lemonade and fiddled with his glass. Finally, he sighed. “But it would be so nice to ride through woods and fields again.”

Dragon furrowed her brow and looked at me. “When is this trail ride?”

“This weekend, if we can make it.”

“Good. That will give me time to create three more illusory horses with the requisite interwoven spell of concealment, and for the three of us to become accustomed to our mounts. Or should that be four more horses? Will Master Miles be joining us?”

I shook my head. “No, I’m afraid my husband isn’t very keen on horses. He’ll hold down the fort here while we’re off riding.”

My Foreman grinned. “I will teach you ladies how to ride well enough to manage on this trail ride with Colton.”

I looked at my Foreman. “You can concentrate your efforts on Dragon and Cleric. I have no need of instruction. I just need to see if these old bones will hold together while I attempt to mount a horse after all these years.”

Dragon quickly went about creating the illusory horses – a palomino for herself, a strawberry roan for Cleric, and a small Appaloosa for me. “I remember you telling us that you had several Appaloosas back at your stable in New Jersey, and that the Appy was your favorite breed.”

I smiled, remembering those days.

With my Foreman and the two lads instructing them, it didn’t take Cleric or Dragon long to learn the basics of horsemanship and riding. Cleric seemed proud of her accomplishment, as she urged her mount into a trot. “I guess we have watched the three of you for so long, it has become ingrained already.”

“Are you sure they will be okay?” Miles watched the group trotting around the paddock.

I nodded. “They might not be expert riders, but they’ll be no worse off than someone who rents a horse at a public hack stable for an afternoon’s ride. They might be a bit sore the next day, but I’m sure I will be, too.”

Miles chuckled. “I’m sure you will. Have you given any thought about how to get to Colton’s place with the horses? I don’t imagine Dragon is going to conjure up trucks and trailers for you.”

“The farm we’re going to is not far from here. We’ll lead the horses off the property and down the road while they’re still under Dragon’s spell of concealment, just like we did with Mystery. To anyone seeing us, we’ll just look like a group of friends walking down the side of the road. When we reach the first dirt road, we’ll turn. There are no houses along that road, and little traffic. As soon as we’re far enough down that lane so we can’t be seen from the main road, Dragon will let the horses become visible and we’ll mount up and ride the rest of the way. We’ll do the reverse coming back at the end of the day. Now, I had better call Anna, and let her and Colton know when we’ll be there.”

Dragon, Cleric, and I spent the rest of the week working our horses, the other two learning how to ride passably well, and me slowly getting my muscles used to riding again so I would be able to endure several hours in the saddle. Early Saturday morning, my five characters gave up their usual garb and dressed in modern day outfits appropriate for riding, complete with Western boots.

We led our horses along the grassy verge of the main highway until we turned down a wide dirt road. A few yards along that lane, we were able to mount up. In minutes, we were at a two-track that went off through the forest to the left.

“This is so much faster than when we had to lead Mystery along this trail!” Cleric gently reined her horse down the path toward our destination.

“Four legs are always faster than two.” My Young Hero’s smile lit up his whole face.

A few minutes later, we arrived at the farm. Colton and his mom were waiting for us. Anna stood next to a showy dapple-gray. Colton was already mounted on Peaches, the little horse we had known as Mystery. Both horses whinnied a greeting, which our horses echoed.

“Hi, Anna! Hi, Colton!” I waved at them, and they waved back.

Anna smiled. “Hi! I was just about to tack up Rosie. It’ll only take me a few minutes.”

I nodded and trotted over to the fence to talk with her son. “Hey, Colton! Thanks for inviting us to go on a trail ride!”

“Hi, Marge!” I was surprised he remembered my voice. “I hear more than three horses. Who else did you bring?”

I motioned for everyone to come over. “Good ear, Colton! You know Clara and Dray.”

Cleric and Dragon exchanged greetings with the boy.

“And these are three more of my friends, Cab, Tor, and Rocky.” I introduced them, using names we had decided on earlier.

“Hi! I’m Colton and this is Peaches.” He patted his pony’s neck. “Do any of your horses kick or bite?”

I smiled. “Nope. You and Peaches are perfectly safe.”

“I was more concerned with my mom. Peaches is good at sensing other horses’ moods, but mom and Rosie sometimes don’t pick up on the clues. Rosie’s been kicked and bitten several times.”

“We will be certain to stay alert to our horses’ moods today, Colton. We will not allow anything to happen to your mother or her horse.” My Foreman, Tor, smiled at Colton, even though he knew the boy couldn’t see him.

“Thanks.” Colton smiled in the general direction of my Foreman’s voice. “Can you tell me about everyone’s horse?”

My Foreman nodded. “Well, Colton, I am on Centaur, a large black stallion with a long, wavy mane and tail.”

 

“Cab is riding Hero, a chocolate palomino pony.”

 

“Rocky has a black-and-white Gypsy Vanner, very imaginatively named Gypsy.”

 

“Dray is on a stocky palomino named Dragon.”

 

“Clara is riding Blessing, a tall strawberry roan.”

 

“And Missy is on Scribe, a black Appaloosa three-quarter horse with a small blanket.”

Appaloosa for me

Colton frowned. “Missy?”

“That’s their nickname for me.” I laughed. “I probably have more names than . . .” I was about to say more names than Carter’s has liver pills, but I doubted the youngster would get such an outdated reference. “More names than a cat has lives,” I finished lamely.

“Okay, I’m ready.” Anna swung up onto her horse and reined it around. “I hope no one objects to a short ride today, but I’m expecting a delivery of feed and hay later today. I need to be back in just a few hours.”

We all nodded and waited for Anna and Colton to exit the paddock and join us. Then we all rode our horses at a sedate walk, single file, down the driveway and along the wooded path away from the farm, with Colton proudly taking the lead.

Colton riding Peaches bareback

I watched the small boy and his horse as they led the way down the two-track next to their farm, and onto a wider trail through the woods. Colton rode confidently, obviously trusting his mount to keep him safe. It was hard to remember the boy was blind.

He half-turned in the saddle to talk to me. “So, what do you prefer, Marge or Missy?”

I thought about it for a moment. “Why don’t we stick with Marge?”

He nodded. “Okay, Marge.”

As we rode out of the woods and along the edge of a field, Colton pointed up to something in the trees. “Marge, do you hear that?”

I listened. “I hear a robin in the trees.”Bird - Robin
“Colton smiled. “Yup, American Robin.” Cheer-a-lee . . . cheer-a-lee the robin called again.

A loud conk-a-reeeeeeeee had Colton twisting toward the cat-tails on the opposite side of the field. “Red-winged Blackbird.”

 

I looked across the field. “You’re right! There’s one in the reeds and another in the trees.”

Another sound, a squeaky readle-eak had him pointing at the treetops. “Common Grackle.”Bird - Common Grackle

“You have a good ear.” I was impressed.

“Black-capped Chickadee!” He pointed to a tree where several small birds sang chick-a-dee-dee-dee. Then, before I could reply, he pointed at another tree-top serenader, singing cheer-cheer-cheer-cheer-purty-purty-purty. “Cardinal.” And twisting around in the saddle, he pointed in the direction of another bird singing witchety-witchety-witchety. “Common Yellowthroat.”

I called back over my shoulder to my Gypsy. “Hey, Rocky! Colton could give you a run for your money identifying birds by ear!”

My Gypsy trotted his horse up and joined us at the front of the group of riders. “Really?”

“Really! He’s identified six birds already.”

My Gypsy took up the challenge. “Did you hear that one? Eastern Phoebe in the tree to the left. Fee-beee.” He flawlessly imitated the bird, following it up with a perfect imitation of the buzzes and trills that were coming from the trees to the right. “Song Sparrows.”

 

The distinctive notes of an American Goldfinch reached my Gypsy’s ear – bay-beee . . . bay-beee – and he called back, imitating them perfectly.

“American Goldfinch!” Colton beamed at my Gypsy.

“Yes. There is a flock of goldfinches feasting on some thistle that has gone to seed in the clearing on the right.” My Gypsy pointed, then remembered Colton was blind, and he dropped his arm.

“Wow! You’re good!” Colton grinned at him. “I don’t know many people who are interested in birds, and I don’t know anyone at all who can imitate their calls!”

The two of them started a friendly competition. Colton identified the first bird, as it called queedle-queedle-queedle, then screeched cat! cat! cat! “Blue Jay!”

Bird - Blue Jay

“Yup! It just flew down and grabbed an acorn! But, that one was too easy!” My Gypsy’s tone let Colton know the lad was just teasing.

My Gypsy scored the next identification. A harsh chatter caught his attention, and he scanned the trees to the left. “Eastern Bluebirds! Two males, squabbling over some food.”

Not to be outdone, Colton pointed overhead, where a bird called cheer-up, cheer-a-lee, cheer-ee-o, chink. “Rose-breasted Grosbeak!”

Bird - Rose-breasted Grosbeak

My Gypsy quickly came back with “Cedar Waxwing! Zeee-zeee-zeee.” It was a perfect imitation of the bird calling from a lone tree in the middle of the field to the right.
Bird - Cedar Waxwing
My Young Hero nudged his horse up next to Colton and my Gypsy. “Hey, guys, what is that big bird sleeping on the log?”
Bird - GHO 3
Colton shrugged. “If I can’t hear it, I can’t identify it.”

“Yeah, Cab, no cheating! Ears only.” My Gypsy stuck his tongue out at his friend, who retaliated in kind. Just then, the bird woke up, turned around, and gave a sleepy hoo-ho HOOOO-hoo-hoo, peering at us with one half-opened eye.


Colton and my Gypsy cried out in unison. “Great Horned Owl!”

Colton turned in the saddle at a sound behind us, a loud drumming, followed by a muffled churr-churr-churr. “Red-bellied Woodpecker!” He grinned.
Bird - Red-bellied Woodpecker
He got the next one, too. “Barn Swallows.” He pointed to a tree where some birds were twittering and whirring.


Suddenly, I heard a familiar call. “Sandhill Cranes!”

Colton nodded. “They’re probably feasting in the cornfields on the other side of these woods. We can go there and see them.”

It didn’t take long to jog our horses over to the fields. As we rode closer, the rattling call of the flock grew louder and louder. I was impressed to see none of the horses were bothered by it. None shied from the sight of the big birds, either.

“Missy! These birds are as tall as you!” My Cleric grinned at me.

“Yes, thank you for noticing that.” I glowered at her, then chuckled to let her know I wasn’t really upset.

We spent a few long minutes gawking at the impressive birds before heading back through the woods. Suddenly, Colton ducked. “Ruby-throated Hummingbird!”

“How did you know?” I was amazed.

“I could feel Peaches tense up just as I heard several birds calling chee-dit almost in my ear.”

“There are a couple in the tree right above you!” My Gypsy confirmed the identification.


The boys continued their friendly competition, and by the time we arrived back at the barn, they had identified more than thirty species.

Colton and Peaches“We have to do this again!” Colton was all smiles as he swung down from his saddle and patted Peaches on her neck.

“Can we?” My Gypsy looked at me.

“I don’t see why not.”

We all dismounted. Anna and Colton unsaddled their horses and brushed them down before turning them out in the pasture. The rest of us loosened our saddles so our horses could have a breather before we started back to our own house.

Colton had a huge smile on his face as he thanked each one of us for coming on the trail ride. We promised to do it again soon as we tightened our cinches, mounted up and turned for home.

We hope you enjoyed our little trail ride this week. Be sure to join us again next week for another of our little adventures. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.
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