Dragon’s Not the Only One With a Problem

Dragon’s Not the Only One With a Problem

For today's blog 001“What is Dragon’s problem?”

I looked up from my computer, and my husband leaned over and gave me a quick peck on the cheek before continuing. “I know she’s moody most days, but she’s really outdoing herself today.”

I put my finger over my lips, trying to signal Miles not to say any more, but he kept talking.Charing shoes 2

“Do you know she threatened me? Again! She told me she’s going to char my shoes with my feet still in them. She hasn’t said that in ages, and now she’s threatened me with it three times in the last hour!”

“Ah, honey . . . this may not be the best time to discuss this matter.” I inclined my head and my eyes darted toward the back of the room.

Dragon in officeMiles looked over the mess and mayhem that was my office, and realized Dragon was standing next to the bookshelf in the alcove at the far end of the room. A toothy grimace spread across her reptilian face.

“Oops.” My husband turned bright red, then gulped. “I’m dead meat, aren’t I?”

Dragon put down the book she had been perusing, and fixed Miles with an icy stare. “I am not moody.”

Miles raised his eyebrows. “If you say so.”

“I do.” She walked toward him, closing the gap between them in two steps, incredibly not disturbing any of the precariously positioned clutter with her great bulk.
Miles and Dragon
The huge beast towered over my husband. She leaned over, pushing her face right into his. She glared at him, nose to nose, for several long, agonizing moments, then straightened up and left the room without another word.

I jumped up and caught Miles by the arm and guided him into a chair as his legs turned to rubber. He looked at me, wide-eyed, with beads of sweat on his forehead. “Why didn’t you do something? She might have eaten me . . . or roasted me . . . or –”

“Oh, honey, Dragon would never harm you. She gets her giggles from intimidating you.” I gave him a peck on the cheek and affectionately tousled he hair. “Besides, it’s your own fault. I tried to tell you this was not a good time to talk about her.”

After he had calmed down, Miles got up and walked over to the door. He glanced into the hallway to make sure Dragon wasn’t standing there, listening. When he was certain the big beast had departed, he turned back to me. “So, what is her problem today?”

I sighed and dragged my hand through my hair. “She’s feeling guilty.”

“Why?” Miles sat down again.

“She believes that she’s responsible for the recent illness that incapacitated so many of her comrades.”

Miles furrowed his brow. “How could she be responsible?”

Snow devils on mountainI shrugged. “She’s convinced herself, since she can’t find any other source of the malady, that it must have been introduced into our world by the snow devils. And, you remember, she’s the one who inadvertently captured them in her magical conduit and brought them here.”

Miles tilted his head and rubbed his chin. “How can she be sure the snow devils were the source of the illness?”

I sighed again. “I don’t think she is sure, but she’s desperate to find the cause. She fears that such a disease could strike again.”

Miles scoffed and shook his head. “Knowing where it came from isn’t going to prevent it from happening again. And, anyway, she could be wrong. The virus or bacteria causing the illness could have come from anywhere. Since it didn’t affect us, it could have been a common germ from our own world for which your characters had no immunity.”

“I know. I pointed that out to Dragon. She dismissed that argument, saying she and Cleric weren’t affected, either, so it couldn’t have been a germ from this world. She thinks her explanation makes the most sense.” I sighed again. “Dragon is all too ready to assume blame for the whole incident. So, cut her some slack. Be nice to her or avoid her for a while until this all blows over.”

“And maybe I should invest in some fireproof shoes, in case I can’t stay out of her way?” Miles winked at me and left.

Two hours later, Cleric knocked on the door. “Mistress? Master Miles requested me to ask you if you could assist him upstairs.”

computer-and-monitorI looked up. “Uh, sure. Just let me save this story I’ve been working on.”

Cleric crossed the room and looked over my shoulder at the computer. “What are you writing about?”

“Oh, it’s just a silly kid’s story, with talking animals.”

“Oh, that sounds delightful! May I read it?”

“Well, it’s nowhere near finished yet, but sure, you can read it next time I work on it – probably sometime this afternoon, after I finish helping Miles.” I tilted my head and winked at Cleric. “Maybe you could even help me write it.”

About a half-hour later, I called down the stairs to Cleric, “I’ve got to go out for a while. Miles and I need to do some shopping. I’ll see you when I get home.

                                                                           *  * *
Elf facing rightCleric paced back and forth in the hallway outside my office door. She chewed on her bottom lip and wrung her hands. She scuffed her foot back and forth and straightened her robes. She walked to the foot of the stairs and looked up, staring as if willing me to walk in the front door. After a few minutes, she sighed and walked back to my office. She stood there for a few more moments before entering the room.

computer_keyboardMistress Writer will not mind if I look at the story without her being present. Cleric looked at my computer and hesitated. I have watched the Gypsy activate this machine countless times, when we characters used to sneak in here and read Mistress Writer’s manuscripts and look at her photographs. Now, how did he do it?  She began to tap on the keyboard.

 

                                                                   * * *
“Let’s try to get these groceries inside and put away as quickly as possible. I promised Cleric she could read that children’s story I’ve been working on, and I know she’ll be chomping at the bit.” I took two bags from the trunk of the car and headed for the door.

Miles grabbed two more bags and followed close behind. “Okay, but let’s be careful. I don’t want to run into Dragon.”

We reached the kitchen with no sign of Dragon. We placed the bags on the counter and started to go back for the rest of the groceries. As we walked through the living room, we were almost knocked over. My Old Dwarf came tearing past us, yelling, cussing, and waving his battle axe, in pursuit of a rabbit.

Dwarf chasing rabbit

“Ye be commin’ back here, ye consarned varmit! How did ye be gittin’ in the hoose, anywho?”

I grabbed my Old Dwarf as he made a second pass, chasing the rabbit around the room.

“Whoa! What are you doing? Put that axe down!”

“Yeah, ya big bully! Put that axe down!” The rabbit turned and scolded my Old Dwarf.

Rabbit yelling at Dwarf

My jaw dropped.

Miles grabbed my arm. “D . . . did that rabbit just say something?” My husband gaped at the small, white creature, who hopped over to stand in front of him.

“Hey, bub, don’t cha know it’s rude ta stare?”

I sighed. “Okay, not funny. Where’s my Arrogant One?”

“You mean this is one of the elf’s illusions?” Miles wiped his brow and looked relieved.

“It must be.” I frowned.

“Hey, sista, do I look like an illusion?” The rabbit thumped her hind foot and glared at me.

I turned to my Old Dwarf. “Find the elf.”

He nodded curtly and took off for the garden shed.

sorceress-facing-rightI heard footsteps behind me and turned to see Sorceress walking up the stairs. She nodded a greeting to Miles and me and walked over to stand with us. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the rabbit, who was now wandering around, inspecting the room. “I see you have met our visitor.”

I nodded, still frowning. “How long has she been here?”

“I am not sure, but some of her friends are in the conference room.” She raised an eyebrow and grimaced.

“Well, I just sent my Old Dwarf in search of my Arrogant One. As soon as the elf is here, he can get rid of the visitors.”

“Oh, these are not the elf’s illusions.” Sorceress shook her head.

“Then what?” My frown deepened.

“Toldja, sista. I ain’t no illusion!” The rabbit was standing in front of me again, a smug look on her furry little face.

“Then where did you come from?” As I realized what I said, I snorted and shook my head. “I don’t believe I’m trying to have a conversation with a rabbit.”

“Why not?” The rabbit looked insulted.

Rabbit

“Rabbits don’t talk.”

“Oh yeah?” The smug creature grinned.

I turned back to Sorceress. “You said this was not one of my Arrogant One’s illusions. So, where did a talking rabbit come from, and why is she here?”

“I think you best seek those answers from Cleric.”

Before I could inquire about Cleric’s part in all this, my Old Dwarf came back in, dragging my Arrogant One by the collar. The elf was screeching in his normal glass-shattering pitch. “Let go of me! I demand you release me this instant, you oaf!”

 

“As ye be wishin’, elfie.” The old reprobate deposited the elf at my feet.

“Sorry, we apparently don’t need him after all. I’ve been informed the rabbit, and several other visitors, are not his illusions.”

“Oh, well. No harm be done ’em.”

“No harm? Why you . . .”

But we didn’t get to hear what my Arrogant One had to say. At that moment, a large deer bolted up the stairs, wailing. “My baby! That beast is going to barbecue my baby!”Deer

Miles jumped back out of the deer’s way, pulling me with him. He gaped at the panicky animal, then turned to me. He looked almost as panicked as the deer. “Honey? What’s going on?”

Over the wailing and bleating of the deer, I shouted, “Why don’t we go down to the conference room and try to find out?”

The deer snorted and galloped down the stairs, the rabbit hot on her heels. Miles, Sorceress, and I followed at a more dignified pace. After a moment’s hesitation, my Old Dwarf grabbed my Arrogant One by the collar and ran after us, dragging the screeching elf behind him.

I stopped dead just inside the doorway of the conference room. On the one side of the room were the deer, the rabbit, a fawn, a trio of baby raccoons, and some baby birds. On the other side of the room was Dragon, glaring at the assembled animals and spewing black smoke. Cleric was in the middle, facing Dragon. Her arms and legs were spread wide, as if shielding the animals from Dragon, and tears were streaming down her face.

Cleric protecting animals

“Ya bedda do sometin’ quick, sista! Ya got yerself a baaaad situation here!” The rabbit hopped over and stood next to me. “Ya ain’t gonna let that there big, scaly brute barbecue us poor, defenseless little animals, now are ya?”

“What in the name of Sam Hill is going on here? Where did these animals come from?”

At my explosive outburst, everyone turned and stared at me. For a long few moments, you could hear a pin drop. Then chaos broke loose as Cleric, Dragon, and all the animals started talking at once.

Where did these animals come from? What part did Cleric have in their appearance? Why does Dragon want to barbecue them? Be sure to come back next week and see how this baaaad situation is resolved. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

 

 

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Just Another Typical Day

Just Another Typical Day

For today's blog 001“Honey?”

My husband came into my office.

I looked up from the computer screen and saw a big frown on his usually cheery face. “Uh-oh. What did my characters do now?”

Miles laughed. “It isn’t your characters this time.”

“An historic moment! You’re frowning, and it isn’t because of anything my characters did!” I smiled. “So, what is the trouble?”

“The heat element in the rain gutters out front doesn’t seem to be working. We’ve got icicles hanging from the gutters, and the beginning of an ice dam on the roof. There’s already a six-inch-thick glacier in the roof valley over the front porch, and I don’t think today’s temperatures will be high enough to melt it.”

 

Dollar signs waving goodbye 3“Hmmmm…that’s not a good way to start our morning. An ice dam can cause serious damage to the roof.” I sighed, as images of dollar signs waving goodbye danced through my head. “I’ll see if I can find the paperwork for the company that installed the gutter covers and heat element, and I’ll give them a call.”

looking for filephone with caller ID

About two hours later, I located the correct paperwork in my rather disorganized file cabinet, and made the call. I was quickly connected to their automated phone system. After navigating through all the correct options, I heard a recorded voice sweetly advise me that all service representatives were helping other customers. All? How many service reps can they possibly have? They only have about a dozen employees, total, including Skit and Skat, co-vice-presidents in charge of rodent control in their warehouse.

Skit and Skat

The disembodied voice went on to inform me that all calls were taken in the order received, and cautioned me to remain on the line. Then I was treated to some soothing music (I think it might have been a crossover thrash version of the 1812 Overture, accompanied by yowling dogs and cats, during a car crash). The music was blessedly interrupted at regular intervals by the sweet voice endlessly repeating how much they appreciated my business and assuring me that a customer service representative would be with me shortly.noise 2

Ninety minutes later, I was finally connected with a live being, whose tired, irritated voice contrasted sharply with the sweet tones of the recorded voice on their automated system. After taking all the pertinent information, the representative assured me that one of their technicians would be dispatched immediately. He should arrive within the hour. I went to find Miles and let him know help was on the way.

truckThree hours later, I was in the kitchen when I heard a truck pull into our driveway. I looked out the window and watched the driver get out and head up the walkway to the front door. Before he could ring the doorbell, the door flew open, and my Old Dwarf burst out, holding his battle axe.

“Oh, no!” I raced for the stairway, but couldn’t get there fast enough. I heard my Old Dwarf bellowing at the man.

dwarf“Be ye tha laddie who be fixin’ tha mess wit’ tha ice on tha roof?”

As I raced down the stairs, I glanced through the open front door and saw the man nod.

I heard my Old Dwarf again. “Ye be late, laddie! Tha lass an’ ’er lad be expectin’ ye hours ago.”

I pushed my way out the door and tried to move my Old Dwarf aside, but it was like trying to move a house. The old reprobate just stood there.

“Last job took longer than expected.” I saw the man frown and size up my Old Dwarf. “You don’t want to use that axe on the ice. You could damage the roof shingles and the rain gutters.”

“I do na be plannin’ ta be usin’ it on the ice, laddie.” My Old Dwarf narrowed his eyes and glared at the stranger.

“Well then, Gramps, I suggest you be a good little dwarf and put it away. Aren’t you kinda old for Cosplay?”

I heaved a huge sigh of relief. He thinks my Old Dwarf is in costume for a game. Maybe we can get this job done without my characters causing any problems.

Good little dwarf?” The outraged warrior’s voice shook the windows of our house, and probably those of every house on the block. “Gramps? Why, ye cocky little striplin’! I be teachin’ ye some manners!” He squared his shoulders and raised the battleaxe.

I shrugged. Or maybe not.

“All right, enough of that! Why don’t you go in the house? I think your fellow Cosplayers are waiting for you.” As I spoke, I managed to finally push my way past the rotund figure.

My Old Dwarf lowered his axe and looked at me, brow furrowed. “Tha what players? What be ye talkin’ aboot, lass?”

“Never mind. Just go find Miles and tell him the service tech is here.” I gave my Old Dwarf a hard shove toward the house. Then I turned and greeted the man, who was frowning at the departing figure. “Hi, I’m Marge. I called your company today about a malfunction in the heating element.”

repairman“Nice to meet you, ma’am. I’m Guy. My assistant, Bill, is in the truck, phoning in the report from our last job. He’ll be with us shortly.” He spoke to me, but his eyes remained on my Old Dwarf, who was shuffling through the front door. “Hey, that old geezer isn’t dangerous, is he?”Dwarf facing right

 

“Who, Gramps?” I felt beads of sweat start to form on my brow. “Nah, he’s harmless as a kitten.”

 

“Glad to hear it. Now, before we get started, let’s go over the checklist.”

“Checklist?”

“Yeah. Now it’s obvious by the icicles and the start of an ice dam on your roof, the heating element inside the gutters isn’t working.”

“Eh, the lad be real sharp. He be seein’ right aways there be a problem.” My Old Dwarf was back, snickering.

gypsy-facing-right“Or maybe he is just very good at repeating things?” My Gypsy joined us. He gave Guy a sidelong glance, then leaned against the porch railing and started cleaning under his fingernails with his stiletto.

“Another Cosplayer?” Guy looked my Gypsy over head to toe. “At least you’re more the age for it, though your costume isn’t nearly as good as his.”

I turned to face my characters, counting to ten under my breath. “Where’s Miles?”

“Here I am.” Miles was pulling on a jacket as he walked out of the house.

“Good.” I turned back to my characters. “Now, why don’t you go back inside?”

“I be thinkin’ we be stayin’ right here, lass.”

“That’s a good idea, Gramps.” Guy patted my Old Dwarf on the back as he maneuvered past him toward the door. “You and the Gypsy can keep an eye on my truck. When Bill gets off the phone, tell him I had to go inside with Marge and Miles to check on some things.”

My Old Dwarf turned red as a beet and started stammering. “Gramps? Who be ye callin’ Gramps?” But Guy had already ushered Miles and me through the door, which he closed in the dwarf’s face.

“That’s some pretty nice armor your Gramps has. Better than a lot of Cosplayers I’ve seen at conventions. Nice weapon, too. The Gypsy’s not that great, though. Now, let’s go over this checklist.” Guy looked at his clipboard. “When you discovered the icicles, did you check to see if the heating element switch was in the on position?”

Arrogant One facing rightbounty-hunter-facing-other-directionBefore I could answer, my Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter came hurrying up the steps. My Arrogant One bumped into Guy.

 

“Imbecile! Watch where you are going!” The annoying elf acted as if he were the injured party. “You could have ripped my robes.”

“Now that’s another impressive costume. Is it real silk?” Guy made the mistake of reaching out to touch my Arrogant One’s cloak.

The way the elf screeched, you’d think Guy had thrown acid on his clothes. “How dare you? Do not lay a finger on these robes! Do you know who I am?” He rocked back on his heels, grasped his cloak with both hands, and looked down his nose at Guy.

“Oh, sorry, didn’t know you were in character.” Guy turned back to Miles and me. “They usually don’t act like that until they’re at a convention. Now where were we?”

Sorceress and Cleric had come upstairs to see what the commotion was all about. Cleric looked at Guy and tilted her head. “Why, I believe you were standing right here in the entryway.”

Guy just blinked.

“Okay, everyone, upstairs, please, so Miles and I can finish going over this checklist with Guy?”

Cleric and Sorceress looked disappointed; my Bounty Hunter and his elf sidekick looked belligerent. I gave them one of my patented glares, and the four of them scurried up the stairs.

ChecklistFor the next half hour, Miles and I walked around the house with Guy, checking on switches, outlets, ground-fault circuit interrupters, circuit breakers, and a bunch of other things, as the repair technician marked off each item on his checklist. Then he excused himself when his cell phone rang.

“Bill’s ready. Let’s go out and look at the heating element.”

Miles and I followed Guy back outside. My Foreman and my Young Hero had joined my Old Dwarf and my Gypsy, and they were all watching Bill.

“Okay, why doesn’t everyone go back inside, so Guy and Bill can work?”

My Old Dwarf stayed where he was, but my Foreman and the lads filed past me and into the house. The three of them lowered their heads and tried to hide identical smirks. I frowned, wondering what they were up to, but decided I didn’t have time to find out. I turned toward Bill, who glanced up and smiled. “Well, the switch is on, and the outlet is working.”

I raked my hand through my hair in frustration. “I believe we’ve already determined that, Bill. We just spent the last half-hour going over all that on Guy’s checklist!”

repairman 2Bill smiled. “Yeah? Well what did you decide, Guy?”

“I think the heating element isn’t working.”

“Ya think?” My voice was sharper than I had intended. “That’s what I told your receptionist when I called, five hours ago! I’m so glad we’re all in agreement. Now what do you plan to do about it?”

Bill smiled. “Well, what do you think, Guy?”

“First thing we’ll have to do is get all that ice out of there, so we can examine the heating element and see where the problem is.”repairman 2 turned

Bill smiled. “I’ll get the equipment and a ladder.”

dwarfMy Old Dwarf hefted his axe. “Ye be needin’ some help wit thet?”

Bill smiled. “What do you think, Guy?”

Guy frowned. “I told you, Gramps, you can’t use that axe on the ice. It will damage the roof shingles or the gutters.”

I expected another outraged outburst from the old reprobate over the use of the term gramps. Instead, my Old Dwarf just smirked. “Oh, I do na be needin’ no axe. Mm friend here be an expert at meltin’ ice.”

Elf clericDragon, in her familiar guise of an elf maiden, stepped around the side of the porch. Guy gawked at her. “Wow! Your costume is even better than the dwarf’s!”

Dragon simpered at Guy. “You should see my other costume.” She started to shimmer.

Miles grabbed my arm. “Honey, do something!” But all I could do was watch in morbid fascination, the way people do at car wrecks.

Moments later, Bill wasn’t smiling any more. He and Guy were screaming so loud I think people three states away could hear them. They made a mad dash for their truck.

blue-dragon-facing-left

Within seconds, Dragon managed to melt all the icicles and eliminate the ice dam without damaging anything. Then, she transformed back into an elf and approached the truck.

“Now about that heating element.”

Bill smiled. Granted, his eyes looked a bit glazed, and he was babbling incoherently, but he was smiling. Guy was just trying to keep his eyes from popping out of their sockets.

Miles and I rushed over to the truck. Guy quickly locked the doors against us.

Illusionists“Hey, it’s all right! It was all an illusion!” Miles pointed at Dragon and my Old Dwarf. “These two aren’t mere Cosplayers, they’re also magicians . . . illusionists of the highest order!”

Thank goodness for my quick-thinking husband!

“Yeah, you know.” I nodded. “Like Copperfield or Blackstone or Penn and Teller.”

It took a lot of talking for Miles and I to convince Guy and Bill that what they saw was merely an illusion. Even after we had convinced them, they seemed wary of Dragon and my Old Dwarf. Finally, Guy opened the door of the truck just a crack. “Why don’t all of you . . .” he gave Dragon and my Old Dwarf a sharp look. “Why don’t all of you go back in the house? Bill and I will let you know when we’re done here.”

About an hour later, the doorbell rang. My husband went to the door as I glared at my characters, daring them to make a move. Miles returned a few moments later. “They left the invoice in the storm door. They replaced the heating element.”

“What’s the cost?”

Note 2

“It’s marked paid-in-full. Guy attached a note, though. It says if the heating element ever fails again, please call another company to deal with it.”

 

Ah, yes, the joys of having a house full of fictional medieval characters.

 

Be sure to come back and see what new troubles my characters can cause for me and my husband. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

How to Weather the Weather

How to Weather the Weather

dwarf“Eh, I would na be botherin’ the big beastie, iffin I be ye, lass.” My Old Dwarf took a big bite out of an apple, and nodded toward the conference room door. “She be in a frightful mood!”

musical notes“Well, thanks for the warning, but I really wasn’t planning on bothering Dragon, or anyone else for that matter. I just need to get some notes I left in there.” I paused, listening. “But her mood can’t be all that bad. It sounds like she’s listening to music.”

The old reprobate took another bite of his apple before responding. “Oh, aye, she be listenin’ ta yer magic-box, tha one ye be callin’ a radidio. But she do na be enjoyin’ the tunes it be playin’ this day.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Why not?”

“Ye peoples be havin’ entirely too many sing-songs aboot the weather!”

I chuckled, then opened the door to the conference room. I was almost driven back by the surge of heat that met me. The room felt like the inside of a Dwarven forge, as my rotund, apple-munching friend would put it.

I looked across the room and saw Dragon lying rather morosely in front of her illusory fireplace. The radio was on, playing mostly holiday tunes. I crossed the room and pulled up a chair.

 

Dragon greeted me. “Go away.”

“And a good day to you, too!” I tried to hide my smirk.

Dark smoke began to rise from Dragon’s snout.

I raised an eyebrow at the big beast. “Is something bothering you?”

“Cold.”

Both of my eyebrows shot up at that statement. “How can you possibly be cold? The temperature in this room must be close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit!”

“I like it warm.” She looked at me scornfully. “I am a desert dweller.”

“I remember. The first time you met my Young Hero, my Gypsy, and Cleric, it was in your desert.”

Dragon nodded, and smiled at the memory. “I think the Gypsy was a bit frightened of me.”

I laughed. “That’s an understatement! I think Cleric and my Young Hero were a bit frightened of you. My Gypsy was terrified!”

Dragon giggled. “Yes, he was.”

“And you enjoyed keeping him terrified. How many times did you threaten to put him on your dinner menu?”

“About the same number of times I have threatened to char Master Miles’ shoes with his feet still in them.” Dragon grinned impishly.

“You are incorrigible.” I laughed again.

“No, I am cold.” Dragon started pouting again, a small plume of dark smoke drifting from her nostrils.

I furrowed my brow. “It used to get cold in your desert.”

sun“Only at night. With the rising of the sun each day, the warmth returned. Here, in this land of yours, the cold lasts for many cycles of your moon! It settles in my bones and makes me feel as if I will never be warm again!” The big beast sighed. “Yesterday was almost endurable! Then, without warning, the temperature turned as frigid as your cold box, where you store food.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I nodded. “Yesterday was nice. Here in the Twin Cities area, it reached 57 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking a record that stood for 76 years for the warmest temperature on that date. Much nicer than the 25 degrees and snow we have now. But the drop in temperature was hardly without warning. The weather forecasters had been predicting it all week.”

“I no longer listen to your climate diviners.” Dragon sniffed disdainfully. “I have never seen such inept magic users.”

I chuckled. “They are not diviners, and they are not magic users. They are scientists.”

Dragon looked at me scornfully. “Magic user, scientist . . . what is that expression you have in this world? Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe, to-may-toe, to-mah-toe?”

“Well, that is an argument for another day. I have work to do. Enjoy the music.”

Before I could grab the notes I had come for and leave, Dragon sat up and asked me, “Why are there so many songs in this world that celebrate the weather? Especially bad weather?”

I put the notes back on the table and took my seat again. “What do you mean?”

“In the years I have lived in your world, and been subjected to your music, I have heard countless songs about stormy weather, rain, snow, hurricanes, wind, lightning, dust storms, tornadoes . . . almost every form of undesirable weather. I have heard precious few songs celebrating sunshine and heat.”

I giggled. “I daresay there are as many songs about good weather as there are about bad.”

“Not in my experience.” Dragon snorted.

“I know you had music in your world. What did you sing about?”

“Human bards sang songs about heroes and epic battles and fantastic events. Dwarves sang drinking songs. Elves sang to their deities. My species shared lifesongs.”

music

She sighed. “No one sang about the weather. Here, every other song seems to be about the weather! It is so annoying! Just listen – this is at least the tenth time in just two days I have heard this horrible song about frightful weather and snow!”

I smiled as Dean Martin’s voice drifted from the radio, inviting the snow to continue while he enjoyed someone’s company in front of the fire. “Well, it certainly fits today’s weather, doesn’t it?”

“Do not rub it in. I hate this weather. What good is snow? It is cold, it is wet, it is uncomfortable, and it does not even taste good!” Dragon shivered and placed another illusory log into her fireplace. “I believe this year I will simply hibernate through this glacial season.”

“And miss the holidays? Last year, you really enjoyed baking cookies with Cleric and me, and trimming the tree, and listening to the holiday music.”

Holiday fun

Dragon frowned. “Well, yes, I did. But it did not change the fact that it was cold. And if I participate in your holiday celebrations again this year, it will not change the fact that it is still cold.”

“I am afraid, my friend, that is a fact that can’t be changed. It’s winter, we live in Minnesota, and it’s cold.”

Dragon grinned that impish grin of hers again. “I wager I could change it.”

“Don’t even think about it!” I looked at her sternly.

“You are a killjoy!” Dragon frowned and tried another tack. “There is nothing to do in this weather!”

I snorted. “There is plenty to do! The lads have been enjoying having snowball fights and building snowmen, and learning from my Old Dwarf and my Foreman how to track animals in the snow. Cleric and Sorceress have also joined them for snow-shoeing and sledding and ice skating on the pond.”

Winter fun

Dragon scowled. “I notice that you do not participate in any of these activities.”

I sighed. “No, I do not. I hate the cold as much as you do.”

Dragon gave me a superior look. “Just think, then, how pleasant it would be if I changed the weather! If the weather were warm and sunny, your Foreman and the lads could ride their horses again. Everyone could go on picnics and help you capture images of the birds and creatures you encounter. Cleric and Sorceress could gather botanicals and other components for their spells. Master Miles could work on his vehicle. I would not feel as if I were permanently frozen. Everyone would benefit!”

I shook my head emphatically. “We would benefit until the world’s scientists tracked down the cause of the unusual weather! Then, your existence here, and that of your fellow characters, would be threatened.” I raked my hand through my hair. “How, exactly, would Miles and I explain the presence of a Dragon, some magic users, and other fictional medieval characters in this world?”

Dragon sighed. “Very well.”

I gave her a stern look. “You will not try to change the weather?”

“I will not.” Dragon curled up in front of the fireplace again and stared at the flames.

As I left the room, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this was not the last I would hear of Dragon’s desire to instigate some climate change.

 

arrogant-one-facing-rightA few hours later, my Arrogant One barged into my office unannounced and uninvited. He addressed me in his typical imperious tone that endeared him to absolutely no one. “Why was I not informed that everyone is going on a picnic?”

“What are you talking about? It’s 25 degrees and snowing . . .” My voice died and my throat tightened, until I confirmed the state of the weather with a quick glance through the window to the backyard. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, if you do not know, then I surmise I was not the only one not to receive an invitation.” The annoying elf sneered and marched out of the room. I shook my head and went back to work.

Easter 128About an hour later, Miles walked into the room. “Honey? Why are your Old Dwarf, your Foreman and the lads emptying our refrigerator?”

“What?” I tilted my head and looked at my husband as if he were speaking gibberish.

“Well, they told me it was for the picnic, but I really can’t see them having a picnic in this weather. So do you know what they’re actually up to?”

Again, I glanced out of the window to assure myself that Dragon had not conjured an early summer. “No, I don’t know what they’re up to, but I guess we should find out.

As we walked out of my office, we saw my Old Dwarf and the others scurrying into the conference room, laden with food and beverages. Miles gave me that annoying See? What did I tell you? look as the door swung closed behind my Foreman.

We arrived at the door seconds later, opened it, and stepped . . . outside?

Miles and I gaped at the scene before us. I felt like I was in a popular sci-fi show, enjoying a program on the holodeck. The scene encompassed what appeared to be at least 50 acres. Dragon was basking in the warm sunlight, in the middle of a meadow bursting with wildflowers. Birdsong filled the air, and wildlife passed right by us, unafraid.

My Foreman and the lads were walking their horses toward a bridle path through a large tract of hardwood forest.

Sorceress and Cleric were laying blankets under a Weeping Willow on the banks of a gurgling brook, and my Old Dwarf was arranging the food and beverages.

My Bounty Hunter and my Arrogant One were exploring what appeared to be the ruins of an old castle on the other side of the stream.

 

“Dragon!” My voice echoed off the distant cliffs.

blue-dragon-2“What?” The big beast lazily opened one eye.

“You promised!”

Dragon grinned. “I promised only that I would not change the weather. I said nothing about changes to your meeting room.”

musical notesAn unseen radio began playing, “Oh, the weather inside is delightful. The scene is such an eyeful. And since we’ve a sun-drenched meadow, forget the snow, forget the snow, forget the snow.”

 

Gotta love a Dragon who knows how to get her own way! Be sure to come back and join us for further adventures. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

 

Fun and Mayhem With the Neighbors

Fun and Mayhem With the Neighbors

gazebo for blogI was sitting on a very soft cushion I had placed on a hard plastic lawn chair in a shady corner of the gazebo. I was five weeks into what should have been a two week recuperation following a minor surgical procedure. It had been less than a week that I could sit comfortably.camera for blog

I had brought my camera with me, as I had hoped to engage in a little backyard nature photography, but it remained untouched on the table. Instead, I was being entertained by three of my characters.

 

My Foreman, my Young Hero, and my Gypsy were schooling their horses in the back of the yard. These were illusory horses provided by their companion, Dragon, who had also cast a spell of concealment to keep the neighbors from noticing the goings-on. I watched as the three expert riders walked, trotted, and cantered their mounts on the flat, then over a cavaletti, after which they performed diagonals and figure-eights and flying lead changes. Then my Foreman, mounted on his spirited black stallion, demonstrated a piaff, a passage, and a pirouette, followed by a half-pass directly to the gazebo, and a low, courtly bow to me. I applauded and smiled my appreciation of the skill of horse and rider. It was fun to watch. Or it was until I almost fell off my chair.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dragon, in her guise of an elf maiden, stepping out of the house onto the deck. She was wearing an enormous smile, and she was escorting two people. The man was sporting glasses and a neatly trimmed goatee, and was dressed casually in well-worn blue jeans and a black hoodie. The woman, in a matching outfit, had sandy blond tresses framing an open face. I recognized them as our neighbors, Mace and Gloria, who had moved into a house down the street earlier this year. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/meeting-the-neighbors/

Elf clericneighborneighbor-2I felt my heart leap into my throat as Dragon led the visitors down the steps and right toward me.

Oh, no! Not them! Not now! What is Dragon thinking? What is Mace going to say about the horses being here again? How can I explain this?

I tried to rise to greet the visitors, but my legs felt like rubber. Gloria reached out and grabbed me before I fell flat on my face, and she eased me back into the chair. “Oh, please don’t get up! Mace and I heard from one of our other neighbors that you were recovering from surgery. We just dropped by to see how you were doing.”

“Well, I’m coming along slowly.” I tried to smile, but my eyes were darting all over the yard.

Where are they?

ShedOut of the corner of my eye, I saw my Foreman swing down from the saddle and quietly lead his horse away. He and the others led their mounts back to the shed to unsaddle and groom them. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, and I’m sure every bit of color must have drained from my face, but Gloria and Mace didn’t seem to notice anything.

“Gloria brought a lovely casserole! I put it in the refrigerator.” Dragon moved some chairs closer to the table and motioned for Mace and his wife to sit.

“Thank you, Gloria! That is so thoughtful!”

I hope my face doesn’t break from forcing this smile.

“I would have made more if I had known your out-of-town relatives were staying with you again. I hadn’t seen anyone around lately, so I only made enough for you and your husband.”

“Oh, well, that’s okay. I mean, how could you know? They haven’t been outside much. They came to help take care of me, after the surgery.”

Good lord, I must sound like a blithering nincompoop!

But Mace and Gloria didn’t seem to be listening. “Hey, what’s that?”

“What? Where?” I almost gave myself a bad case of whiplash, checking the yard for errant characters.

binoculars and field guide“That bird there.” Mace pointed to something perched atop one of the shepherd’s staff poles holding a bird feeder. Immediately, Gloria grabbed a pair of binoculars from her pocket and strained to see the little bird, as Mace pulled a small field guide from his pocket.

“Oh, Mace and Gloria are birdwatchers! Isn’t that nice?” Dragon smiled broadly. “Mis . . .”

No! Don’t say Mistress Writer!

“Missy and her husband love bird watching. In fact, she’s been taking pictures of the birds here in the yard today.” She gestured toward the camera sitting on the table.

Mace frowned. “Missy? I thought your name was Marge.”

“Oh, that’s just a little pet name we have for her.” Dragon smiled and winked, and I sighed and tried not to collapse with relief.

Gloria lowered her binoculars. “You’re a birdwatcher, too?”

I nodded, and swallowed hard, trying to find my voice.

“Well, maybe you can help us, then. Mace and I are just beginners, and we don’t know all the different birds yet.”

“Ah, ahem . . . er, sure. Well, that little bird is a Black-capped Chickadee.” I gestured toward the small black and white creature who was still eyeing us from atop the pole.Backyard 078

Mace cocked his head and furrowed his brow. “Are you sure? It doesn’t look like a chickadee to me. Aren’t chickadees . . . well . . . smoother, sleeker?” He paged through his book.

“Yes, I’m sure. But you’re right – most are sleeker. This one has an abnormality of the feathers on its belly – it looks like it’s having a bad feather day. Here, I took a picture of this bird earlier this week. I’ll zoom it in and you can get a closer look at it.” I took a few minutes to find the photo, then passed the camera to Mace and Gloria.

“Hmmm…strange looking.” They compared the photo to the one in the book.

I took the camera again, and searched for another photo. “Here. Here’s a normal chickadee.”Backyard 039

They looked at that, then at the book. “Now this one looks just like the one in the book.”

“Field guides are great, but you have to remember that not every bird is a text-book example of its species. If you look at these two photos carefully, you can see they are the same species.”

They painstakingly compared the photos of the two birds, as I pointed out the field marks – the black cap and bib, and the white cheeks, the long, narrow tail and the small, the thick bill – then they nodded.

Gloria saw some movement in a nearby tree, and picked up her binoculars again. “Is that a Baltimore Oriole?”Backyard 008

I looked at the bird Gloria was pointing to and nodded. “And there’s another one.” I pointed to one who had taken over the chickadee’s perch.Backyard 051

“Cool!” Mace took a notebook from his pocket, pushed up his glasses, and started writing. “Lifelist. The chickadee and the oriole are only our tenth and eleventh birds.” He sounded sheepish.

I smiled, and spent the next half hour helping Mace and Gloria add to their brand-new lifelist.

“There’s a male American Goldfinch . . . and there’s the female.”

“There’s a Gray Catbird . . . and there’s a Common Grackle.”

“Oh, look!” Gloria pointed to the tree stump in the back of the yard. “There’s one I know – a Red-winged Blackbird!”

“Yup, that’s an adult male, displaying for the female, who’s over there on the fence.”

“She doesn’t look anything like the male!” Mace looked wide-eyed at the bird, then continued jotting down the names of the birds they were seeing.

Gloria had her binoculars up again. “What is that one? The one on the fence, with al the speckles?”

“That’s a fledgling American Robin, and there is the adult, on the edge of the birdbath.”

“Fledgling?” Mace wrinkled his brow.

“A young bird, already out of the nest, but not yet self-sufficient. The adults still feed and protect the fledglings.”

“It doesn’t look much like the adult!” Mace studied it carefully.

“No, it doesn’t. You’ll find that to be true of a lot of birds. It can make identifying a nestling or a fledgling very difficult. Even some sub-adult birds. Some birds, like Bald Eagles and certain gulls, for example, don’t get their full adult colors for years.”

Gloria and Mace looked impressed by this avian trivia.

Just then, I yelped as my Old Dwarf raced past the gazebo, brandishing an axe, chasing a rabbit. “I be gittin’ ye this time, ye ornery little beastie, ye jest see iffin I do na! Thet be the lastest time ye be getting’ in Mistress Writer’s carrot patch!”

Not now! Not now!

I almost fainted, but our visitors didn’t seem to find anything untoward as my Old Dwarf continued to chase the rabbit all around the yard, hollering and cussing up a storm.

“That’s a pretty lively pair of rabbits.” Mace nodded toward the rabbit and the dwarf.

“We’ve had a problem with rabbits eating the vegetables in our garden.” Gloria flipped her hair out of her face. “We found a few commercial products that work well to keep them away from the plants without harming the animals.” The rabbit raced past the gazebo again, my Old Dwarf in hot pursuit. “I can recommend some, if you’d like.”

I nodded dumbly.

What I’d really like is something to keep my characters out of trouble, thankyouverymuch!

“Oh, hello! I did not know we had guests.”

I give up!

Gloria and Mace were gaping as Cleric walked down the steps and joined us on the gazebo. They looked at Cleric, then Dragon, then Cleric again.

“Oh, you haven’t met my sister, have you?” Dragon was smiling and her eyes were twinkling as she gestured toward Cleric. “She’s quite a bit younger than me, but everyone says we look like twins. Sis, these are Mace and Gloria. They live down the street.”

“How nice to make your acquaintance.” Cleric bobbed a little curtsey.

“Charmed.” Mace spoke in a flat voice and gave Cleric a look as if he were trying to figure out what planet she was from.

“Oh, my! I do believe that rabbit is leading the Old Dwarf a merry chase.” Cleric giggled as the old reprobate ran by, still brandishing his axe and cursing a blue streak.

“Old Dwarf?” Gloria frowned and tilted her head.

“Oh, we give some of the creatures here little nicknames.” Dragon winked.

Is this nightmare over yet?

“Oh, look!” This time it was Mace pointing. “What is that?”

With great trepidation, I followed his gaze, then sighed with relief that it wasn’t another of my characters. “That’s a female Wood Duck. There’s the male, over there.”

My relief was short-lived.

“There you are!” The imperious voice announced the presence of my Arrogant One. I turned around and saw him headed for the gazebo. I felt the color drain from my face.arrogant-one

No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Oh, by all that’s holy, how do I explain this one?

“Mace, Gloria, can I get you something to drink?” Dragon seemed as oblivious to the presence of the annoying elf as were my neighbors.

“Oh, no, thanks. We should really be going. Marge is looking a bit pale. I hope our visit hasn’t been too much for you today.” Gloria was looking at me with concern.

“Oh, not at all. It’s been fun! Thanks again for the casserole. I’ll return the dish as soon as I can.” I smiled weakly.

My Arrogant One pushed past Dragon and Cleric and stood in front of me, glowering, his hands on his hips. “I can not tolerate horses in the shed! The Bounty Hunter and I use the shed loft as our refuge, and the others know it. They put those noisy, filthy, smelly animals in there to spite me! I demand you have them removed this instant!”

Dragon shoved him aside under the pretext of moving some chairs aside.

Mace and Gloria stood up. “Thanks for sharing your expertise today. We added some new birds to our lifelist, and we learned that not every bird will look like the picture in the field guide.” Mace tucked his list and his book back in his pocket.

“We really need to do this again.” Gloria smiled brightly.

“Are you even listening to me?” My Arrogant One’s voice rose in octave so high, I expected to hear all the neighborhood dogs start to howl.

I smiled at Gloria. “I’d really like that.”

Oh, how I lie!

“We’ll see our guests out. You should just stay here and relax.” Dragon gave me a broad grin and a wink as our two neighbors followed her and Cleric. I waved as they disappeared around the corner of the house.

My Arrogant One, his face as red as a beet, continued to screech at me, and my Old Dwarf raced past once more, turning the air blue with his language as the rabbit continued to taunt him. I saw my Bounty Hunter yelling at my Foreman and the lads as they led their horses out of the shed and turned them loose to graze, and I heard Sorceress slam the door as she came out of the house to investigate the commotion.

Relax? I’m going to kill these characters! Or maybe it’s just time to make good my periodic threat to them, and edit them out of my manuscripts and out of my life!

 

I laid my head down and tried to think happy thoughts, thoughts of a time before my characters had fallen out of my manuscripts, thoughts of normalcy.

Backyard 052

 

Be sure to stop by next week and see if any of my characters survive that long. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

 

An Uneventful Day

An Uneventful Day

blue-dragon-2The weather had taken another turn. The month of March in Minnesnowta, Dragon was learning, is unpredictable. The previous day had been reasonably warm; the outdoor thermometer had registered an almost-comfortable 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Last night, the temperature had begun to fall and the area had come under a tornado watch. This morning, Dragon had awoken to see a dusting of snow in the yard, and the thermometer barely reaching 29.

fireplace2

 

Never a fan of the cold, Dragon retired to the conference room and curled up for a nap next to her illusory fireplace. As she snoozed, basking in the very real heat of the conjured flames, she heard the door open.

“Are you ready to embark upon our tasks? Yestereve you decided that it was too late in the day when the books were first discovered for us to begin our investigation; so we came early this morn, and the day stretches before us.”

sorceress-facing-rightDragon opened one sleepy eye and regarded Sorceress, who was already bustling around setting up her materials and apparatus. The large beast growled softly, closed her eye, and rolled over. “Cold. Sleepy. Go away.”

“We should begin our work. We have much to do.”

Dragon recognized Cleric’s voice, and opened both eyes. A small, dark plume began to drift from her nose.

“It is too cold to do any work.” Dragon scowled.Elf

Cleric mirrored the big beast’s scowl as she opened her pouch and placed several vials on the table. “Well, Mistress Writer is anxious to learn of our progress.”

“Or our lack thereof.” Sorceress frowned as she approached the books, safely enclosed within the glowing grid. “Besides, you can hardly say it is too cold to do any work in here. You have this room as hot as a Dwarven forge!”

Dragon chuckled. “I like the heat. It helps me think.” She slowly rose and stretched, yawning widely. “And, speaking of Dwarven forges, has Mistress Writer found her errant dwarf?”

Cleric shook her head. “No. The Old Dwarf is still missing. He was not at dinner last night, nor breakfast this morn.”

Dragon frowned at that. “It is unlike the rotund one to miss so many meals.”

Sorceress waved off Dragon’s concern. “Mistress Writer does not believe him to be in any peril. However, if you two insist on worrying, perhaps we may be able to assist in searching for him, if we can complete our investigation without further delay.”

Dragon nodded. “Very well, then, let us commence.” She mumbled an incantation, releasing the books from the glowing grid in which she had contained them. “Just be certain not to touch them.”

* * *

dwarfThe short, round figure stood concealed behind the big maple tree, munching a turkey leg. He carefully peeked around the thick tree trunk and looked out over the yard. The earlier dusting of snow had already melted in the morning sun, and the dwarf could no longer see the white puffs of breath in the air from the horses and riders he watched.

Only a few feet away from him, my Foreman and the lads were exercising their mounts. My Forman rode a spirited black stallion, my Gypsy was on a flashy black and white cob, and my Young Hero was astride a small chocolate palomino pony. They were performing cavalry drills, riding in circles and figure-eights, executing flying lead changes, half-passes, pirouettes, and diagonals. They were completely oblivious of their audience of one.

 

My Old Dwarf chuckled and took another big bite of turkey leg. Grease dripped into his beard, and he wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. Who be needin’ spells o concealment? In me own world, in me old life, I woulda been kilted a hunnert times over iffin I could na keep from bein’ seed when I be needin’ ta go unnoticed! And dwarves do na be havin’ the advantage o magic.

Gnawing the last of the meat from the turkey leg, the dwarf stowed the bare bone in his pocket. He glanced at the riders again, but they were at the other end of the yard. They had dismounted and were checking their equipment. The dwarf looked around the rest of the yard, watching for any movement. Seeing none, the old reprobate stealthily slipped from tree to tree along the edge of the wide expanse of lawn until he was in the back of the yard. After a few moments, he slunk over to the garden shed, opened the door a crack, and slipped inside. His eyes adjusted immediately to the dim light, an innate ability of his race. Hearing voices from the loft, the old one silently crept up the stairs and entered the attic unnoticed.

“I do not see why you feel the need to remain in hiding.” My Bounty Hunter propped his foot up on a box and studied his companion in the flickering light of the lantern.

My Arrogant One gaped at him. “Do you not? If I return now, that odious beast will probably roast me and have me for dinner!”

“Dragon?” My Bounty Hunter scoffed.

My Arrogant One’s voice rose to a pathetic whine. “Of course, Dragon! She has always been jealous of me! She constantly downplays my skill and makes light of my power. And you heard what she called me!” The elf slumped into a chair and sulked.

My Bounty Hunter tried to hide a snicker behind his hand. “Yes, I believe she called you a contemptible, aggravating, pompous, loathsome creature.”

My Arrogant One jumped from his chair and gestured wildly. “Yes! Yes! You see? She is insanely jealous! My life is not worth a single copper should I return!”

dwarf-facing-right“Eh, the beastie do na be jealous o ye, elfie! She just knowed good and well what ye be.”

The elf shrieked at the sudden appearance of the dwarf just a few feet away, and my Bounty Hunter jumped, knocking over the box.

“Ye knowed, elfie, thet dinna be very polite o ye ta just disappear the other night.”

Before the elf could find his voice, my Old Dwarf whirled around to face my Bounty Hunter, who was slowly raising his weapon. “I would na be doin’ thet, laddie, iffin I be ye. Drop yer crossbow and kick it o’er here. And ye can be handin’ o’er them thar knives ye keep in yer vest, too.”

For a long time, my Bounty Hunter stood and stared at the dwarf through narrowed eyes, taking his measure. Finally, he smiled an oily smile and placed his crossbow on the floor. He gingerly nudged it toward the dwarf, then fumbled in his vest pocket for his knives. Suddenly, he dropped to the floor and reached for his crossbow, but the dwarf brought his axe down on it, splintering the weapon.

“Thet coulda just as easy been yer head, laddie. Now, stop bein’ so foolish and hand over yer knives. And elfie?” My Old Dwarf glanced over his shoulder. “Ye best not be tryin’ ta magic me, liken ye did once afore.”

“Magic?” The Bounty Hunter frowned. “Oh, that’s right. I forgot you did that, elf. That was clever. Magic doesn’t work on dwarves, but you didn’t use it on him, did you? You levitated a fallen tree branch and used that to knock him out.”

Since my Arrogant One had not regained his voice, my Old Dwarf answered. “He did. But he’ll not be trickin’ me like that twice. Now, the two o’ye git o’er here and sit down. We be havin’ a lot of conversatin’ ta do.”

* * *

The three companions slumped over their worktable, exhaustion showing in their every expression and gesture. Cleric and Sorceress were dripping with sweat, and even Dragon looked a bit wilted.

The books in the center of the table were surrounded by vials and pouches. Remnants of many potions and powders were strewn about. The three spellcasters had spent the day attempting to magically probe the books to locate their source and purpose, along with any evidence of inherent danger.

“Well, there are several traces of magic on the books.” Dragon sighed, and tiny black smoke rings rose from her nostrils. “We all agree that the one trace is from the magic conduit through which the books entered our world, correct?”

Sorceress and Cleric nodded.

Sorceress wrinkled her brow. “It exactly matches the trace magic found on the four items from our world that have appeared here, so I believe we can presume these books came through the same conduit. That would indicate these books also originated in our world.”

Cleric frowned. “Perhaps, but how do we account for the second remnant of magic?”

Dragon shrank her considerable bulk to the size of a Cocker Spaniel and started pacing the length of the room. “I do not know. I do not recognize the magic, yet these books seem familiar to me.”

Sorceress scowled. “We have exhausted all magical means of examining the books. I fear we must risk the potential danger and begin our physical examination.”

Cleric’s eyes widened. “There are precautions we can take, are there not? Can not one of you cast a protective ward on the books to prevent them from harming us when we handle them?”

glowing-grid-for-blog“It will take much time to prepare such a spell. We are all fatigued. I believe we should wait until the morrow.” Without waiting for a response, Dragon swelled to her previous size. She immediately went to the table and prepared some spell components. While she worked, she recited an intricate incantation under her breath. When she finished, Dragon sprinkled the mixture over the books and cast her spell, once more creating a protective, glowing grid around the books.

“Return in the morning. We will continue then.” Without another word, Dragon went over and curled up in front of her fireplace once more. Within moments, she was snoring. Cleric and Sorceress shrugged, then quietly left the room.

fireplace2

* * *

I heard the door slam as Miles came in from the garage. “Honey, you home?”

“Right here.” I walked down the stairs.

12-28-13 - MN Arboretum 080“Sorry it took longer than I thought it would. The trouble wasn’t in the carburetor, it was the fuel pump. The mechanic didn’t have one in stock and he had to get his supplier to send a new one.” He handed me some bags, took off his jacket and hung it in the hall closet, then gave me a quick kiss hello. He pointed to the bags. “I stopped off and got some rotisserie chicken for dinner.”

“Oh, I knew there had to be a reason I married you! How did you know I wanted chicken for dinner?”

Miles grinned. “So how’s everything on the home front? Anything new and exciting happen today?”

“Nope. It’s been most uneventful here. All my characters must have taken the day off. I’ve seen neither hide nor hair of any of them the entire day.”

“Hmmm…that’s ominous. I wonder what they could be up to.”

 

Be sure to come back and see what my characters are up to in future episodes. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

 

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Another Repairman Bites the Dust

Another Repairman Bites the Dust

Elf facing rightThe odor was almost unbearable. It smelled like a rotting corpse, or a beached whale that had been left to decompose in the hot sun for weeks. A group of my characters crowded the hallway around the door to the utility room. Cleric hesitantly poked her head into the room and wrinkled her nose. “Mistress! What is that dreadful stench?”

 

I looked her straight in the eye and spoke in my most dramatic voice. “Why, that’s the smell of . . . death.”dwarf-facing-right

“What? Who be dead? What kilt ’em?” My Old Dwarf pushed his way past the others, and raced into the small room waving his war axe. He took one breath, turned green, put his hand over his nose and mouth, and ran out almost as fast.

 

I laughed. “Not who. What. The freezer died.”freezer-again-003

Cleric furrowed her brow.

“I was planning to do grocery shopping this afternoon, so I wanted to check the inventory list I keep taped to the top of the freezer. The list must have gotten wet; it’s smeared and totally illegible. So I opened the freezer to see what we have stored in it, and I was almost overcome by this smell.” I fished out another soggy package and tossed it in the big, black trash bag I was holding.

Cleric’s eyes widened. “The food is ruined?”

I sighed and nodded. “Luckily, there were only a few items left in the freezer.”

My Young Hero, my Gypsy, and Sorceress – all three holding their noses – peered around Cleric. My Young Hero said something, but I couldn’t make it out. After the lad’s third attempt to make himself understood, Sorceress placed her hand on his shoulder. “Wait.” She waved her other hand and mumbled a few words. The stench was gone.

My Young Hero removed his hand from his nose and thanked her, then turned to me. “What I said was, would you like us to take a look at it? Maybe it can be fixed.”

“Thanks for the kind offer, but I somehow doubt that a bunch of medieval characters who fell out of the pages of my book manuscripts would be much help fixing an electric appliance.”

My Gypsy grinned and waggled his eyebrows. “Oh, I don’t know. A little magic here, a few wards there. I bet we could have it up and running in no time.”

“Don’t trouble yourselves. Really.” I gave them a stern look. “If you remember, I have a service contract with my utility company that covers all my appliances, so all repairs are free. I’ll give them a call and ask them to send a repair technician.”

My Gypsy smirked. “Would that be the same repair technician who came out for your other appliance, the machine in which you launder your clothing?”

“I don’t know if they’ll send the same technician. Why?”

“Oh, no reason. No reason at all.” He spread his hands and looked at me, wide-eyed, trying hard not to laugh.

Sorceress raised an eyebrow, and a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “As I recall, it took that technician numerous attempts to fix the other machine. And did he not have a problem with mislaying his tools?”

I groaned as I remembered the last time I had required a service technician. (https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/the-case-of-the-missing-tools/)

I gave my characters a sharp look. “I don’t know who they will dispatch, but I don’t want any of you getting in his way. I’m warning you, if there’s any trouble, I’ll . . .”

“…write you all out of the books,” the entire group solemnly intoned. They all rolled their eyes and started giggling uncontrollably as they turned and walked toward the stairs.

phone with caller IDI need to come up with a more effective threat! I finished removing the packages of spoiled food from the freezer, carted the bag to the trash bin, then went to my office to call the repair service. After navigating their automated system, I steeled myself against the inevitable wait. To my astonishment, rather than being placed on interminable hold, I was immediately connected with a live service representative, a woman with a very pleasant voice who identified herself as Dee.

I explained the problem. Dee asked me to wait while she checked my account. A few minutes later, I found myself speaking to a different representative, a woman with a very stern voice who identified herself only as Dee’s supervisor. I was puzzled. I wasn’t sure why a simple request for a repair technician warranted being transferred to a supervisor. I shrugged and repeated what I had just told Dee regarding my need to have the freezer fixed.

“Yes, Ma’am. We can dispatch a repair technician to your location tomorrow morning, between 8 am and noon.”

Well, Dee’s supervisor certainly arranged for very prompt service. Maybe I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. “Thank you. That will be just fine.”

“Good. Now Ma’am, before I am able to confirm the appointment, I must remind you of certain policies. Any pets, including any errrr . . . exotic pets you might have, must be secured well away from the area in which the technician will be working. The technician and his tools must not be disturbed; nor may anyone at your location appropriate any of the technician’s tools for any purpose.”

I felt my cheeks flame. “Of course! I assure you, I have no pets here, exotic or otherwise. And no one here makes a habit of appropriating other people’s property.”

“Hmmm. Yes, Ma’am. Well, if you understand and agree to these policies . . .”

“I do.”

“Well, then, I can confirm your appointment. Now, will you be at the service location at the time the technician is to arrive?”

“Yes.”

“Will anyone else be there?”

“I don’t know. Possibly. Why?”

“I need to make a note in your file if anyone else will be there at the time of the appointment.”

“That’s rather irregular.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“So why are you asking?”

“Ma’am, do you want a technician there tomorrow or not?”

“Of course I do!”

“Then that’s why I’m asking.”

By the time the appointment had been confirmed, I was reaching the boiling point. I felt totally humiliated. Just wait until I get my hands on some little tool pilferer! And just what had happened last time, after my Young Hero returned the tools that Dragon had taken, that it was entered into our file?

dragon facing rightI was unable to locate Dragon the rest of the day. She was not, as had become her custom, basking by her conjured fireplace. She was not on the wide shelf in the walk-in closet in the guest room she had chosen as her lair in this world. She was not in the conference room, or my office, or the kitchen. I searched for hours, checking every nook and cranny of the large bi-level house, but was unable to find her. I finally satisfied myself with gathering the rest of my characters and giving them a stern lecture on the consequences, should anyone disturb the repair technician the next day. I spent a good ten minutes describing, in grim and graphic detail, what would happen if any tools went missing while the technician was at work on the freezer.

Later, as Miles and I got ready for bed, he said, “That was quite some lecture you gave your characters tonight. So, do you think they actually listened to you?” Miles tried to hide his smirk, but failed miserably. I chucked a pillow at him.

At precisely 8am the next morning, the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it!” Miles headed for the door, while I quickly took a head count of my characters. Dragon was still missing. “Honey, the repair technician is here.” I sprinted for the door.

Profession Portrait Face Man Old Trainer SeniorAn older man stood at the door, a game smile contrasting sharply with his thin, shaky voice. “Good morning, Ma’am. I’m Bob and I’m here to repair your freezer.” Following company protocol, Bob handed me his identification credentials. He looked warily past me as I glanced at his company ID and returned it.

Bob picked up his toolkit and I started to lead him downstairs to the utility room. I saw my Young Hero and my Gypsy at the top of the stairs. They smiled and waved at the technician, who grabbed me by the arm. “I was told only you and your husband would be here today.”

I pulled my arm out of his grip, raised an eyebrow and scratched my jaw. “What difference does it make who’s here?”

In reply, he just gripped his toolbox tighter, his knuckles turning white. I again started to lead him down to the utility room, and he followed, stumbling along. I showed him the freezer and explained how I had discovered that it was not running. Bob nodded a lot, but said nothing. His eyes darted around the small room as if he were searching for an escape route. Finally, I said “Well, I’ll be in my office if you need anything. It’s at the end of the hall, the door on the left.”

Wide-eyed, he grabbed my arm again. “You’re not going to leave me here alone, are you?”

This time, I had a bit more trouble extracting my arm from his grip. I scowled. “I’m sure you know your job, and don’t need me watching over your shoulder while you work.”

“You know, I’m really not feeling very well. Maybe I should just go, and they can send another technician.”

I gaped at him. “What is your problem?”

He blushed. “Well, John, he’s the last tech who was here, he reported some very strange things.”

“Oh?” I racked my brain, trying to remember what had happened, what the other technician had seen. “As far as I remember, some of his tools went missing while he was out in the truck. When he discovered the items were missing, he confronted me about it. A young relative who was visiting figured out the tools had been taken by his pet, who is attracted by shiny things. My relative got them back from his pet and returned them to the technician. Then my relative and I left the room, and the technician finished his repairs.”

“Yeah, right, but he told our supervisor that after you and your relative left the room, the pet came in. John was hysterical when he came back to the office, and he told some pretty wild stories about this pet. The supervisor ended up making John take medical leave. Said he had suffered some sort of breakdown.”

“Oh, that’s ridiculous! What’s so scary about a . . . ?”

blue-dragon-2

 

 

Before I could finish, Dragon squeezed through the door, smiling a toothy smile and snorting puffs of smoke from her nostrils. She was carrying a big, shiny, chrome-plated wrench. “Excuse me. Did you drop this?”wrench

 

I might get my hearing back in a few weeks. I think Bob’s scream shattered some crystal three states away. Rumor has it the utility company has offered him early retirement. I keep calling them to have another technician sent out, but every time I call, I’m disconnected. I don’t know if we’re ever going to get our freezer fixed.

 

 

If any of you are experienced in the field of freezer repair, Dragon would love for you to stop by and lend a hand. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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