Friday, November 24, 2017

Draft: The Tiger Queen, Part III


Dreary days passed on the trail of the Black Dog. The Brown King traveled alone, save for his trusted advisors, as he knew a larger party would draw suspicion, and make finding the Queen all the harder. The Queen was well loved, and wide knowledge of her disappearance would surely upset the kingdom. He had nearly reached the border of his kingdom, The Old King Woods, stopping at the last hamlet, Broken Vale. The Freeholder there had a fine big farmhouse, the last really cozy house along this road, and the king thought he could use a good nights rest. Worry had him up most nights, and travel up early most mornings. He thought he might find a spot of news, as well.

The king traveled incognito, his great bearskin cape rolled behind his saddle, his copper crown tucked safely away in the saddlebags. But LeCircle, the Freeholder of Broken Vale knew him, and greeted him warmly.

“It’s been years since you’ve been through here! Too long! Too long! Come in! Come in!” he said, ushering the three of them in, nodding to Crow and Cat, hugging the king roughly. LeCircle led him in with an arm slung over his shoulders. “What brings you this way, then? Hunting pirates without any magistrates?”

“So you’ve heard?”, asked the king. “He’s been through?”

“Rumours only, really. A few missing chicken and sheep, here and there. But you lend credence to those rumours, don’t you?”

“Maybe I do,” sighed the king, “maybe I do.”

The king shared what he knew of the Black Dog; LeCircle did the same. It amounted to very little. Some say he had passed nearby, heading into the Old King Wood, hoping to reach the Wilds beyond. Some say he had found what he was looking for and turned back towards the sea. Some said he couldn’t find what he was looking for, and returned to the salt waters to find it there. No-one knew much at all. And no one mentioned the Queen. Least of all the King.

“It’s a delicate thing, to look for something without admitting it’s gone”, thought the King, later that evening, after LeCircle’s grand supper in celebration of his visit.

“Let’s check out the woods,” said the King to Crow, after a largish breakfast. “Can’t hurt while we’re here.”

So noon found them deep in the Old King Wood, so named for no reason anyone really remembered. “Some old king, likely,” was the best Cat could come up with.

“Named for King English!” came a voice from ahead, and down a bit to the left. “Old King English and his band of harriers, fighting the Great Usurper!” said the bushes in that general direction.

The King, not a fan of speaking bushes normally, warily drew his sword. “Indeed. My ancestor, the Great Usurper, although we don’t really call him that, much,” said the king. He cocked his head at the bush. “Who goes, in any case?”

A small creature, dressed in roughspun cloth and leather moccasins stepped from the bushes. A young woman, the King realized, a hunting bow in her hand. A supporter he supposed, of the bands of harriers in the wilds, still on about the loss of a crown quite some time ago. He hoped she wasn’t planning on shooting him. He rather disliked being shot at.

“Peanut!” she declared, puffing up. “Daughter of Holmgren, strongholder!” She looked him up and down, making no real move towards the shooting of any arrows.

“Thank God,” muttered the king, slumping a bit, and returning his sword to its scabbard. “Peanut you say?”

She looked a bit abashed at this, Peanut being perhaps as odd a name in the strongholds as it was in the Inner realms. “My da likes peanuts,” she said under her breath. “What?” asked Crow.

“Why are you in the Old King Woods?” she asked, instead. “Who are you to approach the strongholds?”

“I suppose that’s a good question,” said the King, not really wanting to admit that he was the King, especially not here at the very edge of his Kingdom, where the strongholders hadn’t paid taxes or declared fealty since long before his time.

“Looking for Black Dog!” cawed Crow.

“Never heard of him,” declared peanut. “Let’s go find him, then.”

So she led the King and his retinue deeper into Old King Wood.

Monday, May 16, 2016


I came across this the other day:
Acrostic: A poem in which the first letter of each line spells out a word, name, or phrase when read vertically. See Lewis Carroll’s “A Boat beneath a Sunny Sky.”
And so, I thought I might try my hand:
Here by Tygers  
by Shaun Leslie Turriff
These rare strange beasts.
In these beasts we find some
Good left in the broken, creased
Everyday. These beasts become
Rare, but here be tigers, at least.
I trust you'll enjoy, gentle reader.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Draft: The Tiger Queen, Part II

The Black Dog

“He’s in the kingdom, to be sure. Reports have him moving east,” said the black cat, referring to the Black Dog.

It had been days before rumours of the Black Dog and his crew came back to the King, whose search had largely been unsuccessful. He had found a rather nice inn he had never heard of, and one or two promising new recruits for the palace service staff (never enough pages and the like, given the turnover), but no Queen. It was positively disheartening. It had been a rather long time since they had spent any great deal of time apart; the King found that he did not like it, not at all.

“He’s a pirate,” said the crow. “What’s he doing moving away from the water? And why would he take the Tiger Queen with him?”

“Bit of a coincidence, though, with the Queen disappearing and the Black Dog showing up like that,” said the cat.

The King thought of the Black Dog, and their chance meeting some time ago, before he was the king, and before the Black Dog was a pirate. Briefly, they had worked together, the king intent on rooting out a robber-baron haunting the eastern provinces, the Black Dog intent on rooting out the ill-gotten gains of the baron’s hard work. Now the Dog was one of the most dreaded pirates on the Western Sea, a newcomer to be sure, but rapidly building a reputation as a scoundrel and a cut-throat, as well as a fearsome warrior and above-average tactician. His boat, the Canis Major, was a familiar sight in the worst of the Freeports, and the last sight of a great many merchant vessels. Already, tales of him and his crew were appearing in penny-dreadfuls, titillating parents and scaring children into eating their peas.

“I am not fond of peas,” said the king, slowly. His advisors paused and looked at him curiously, before resuming their discussion on the position and motivation of the notorious pirate.

The King did not relish meeting the Black Dog in battle, but would do anything for his Queen. He arose, said that they would head east. The search resumed.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Draft: The Tiger Queen, Part I

The Queen Goes Missing

It was some years after the adventures in the Forest of the Faerie, and the subsequent wedding, that the Tiger Queen disappeared. The Brown King awoke one cold morning in the fall of the year to find her side of the bed empty, the fire burned down and her dressing gown gone. It was not unlike the Tiger Queen to quit her bed abruptly, and so the King did not worry so much, right away.

It was only after breakfast was finished and several cups of hot milky coffee consumed that the King really began to worry. It was unlike the Queen to pass up coffee, and the kitchens assured him that she had not been in that morning. He made inquiries; her maid, his butler, the guards and the clerks had not seen her. It began to seem highly unusual.

The king enlisted the help of the guards, the clerks, her maid and his butler in his search. They began with the royal chambers, moved on the surrounds, spread into the rest of the keep, the castle, and, with the help of the clergy, the groundskeepers and the local urchins, moved into the King’s Park, the cathedral and the town.

The Queen was nowhere to be found. It was past lunch, and the Brown King began to worry in earnest.

“Where is she, do you think?”, he asked his closest friends and advisors, the black cat and the crow.

“Haven’t the foggiest,” replied the cat, speaking over the crow, who was croaking out an “I couldn’t tellya.”

“Helpful bunch, you two”, said the King, sitting down and pulling the heavy bearskin cloak of his office more tightly around his shoulders.

“Eh, sorry, and all that,” said the crow. “Truth be told, we’re as upset as you are. We love her too. All the kingdom does, really.”

“She might show up yet. There’s still a lot of the feline in that one, and we do love to slip out and wander,” said the cat. Looking around, he began to groom himself.

“She’s never been gone this long, and she always says when she wanders”, said the King. “I suppose it’ll have to be a search, then. Better pack a lunch.”

The King would pack a great many lunches before he was reunited with his Queen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"That's why I hold with all I have..."

My muse, sometimes, asks me why, why I am your muse?

It is a question, when put on the spot, that can be hard to answer. The sea, I say, I cry. The moon, and books, and trains in magical lands. Stories of kings, and bears, and tigers, of pirates and boys who won't grow up. Latin, Greek, and languages long dead, I say. And love, my muse, love.

My muse asks me what is love, and when I answer, it is you, it is not enough.

But this, this is love:


When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

So, Gentle Reader, when next my muse demands, perhaps I have an answer. It is the moon, and stars, and the sea. It is stories, and Latin, trains, and magic, and all these things. My muse will ask, what is love? Why me? And I will answer, it is you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Sleep, gentle reader, has never come easily to me. You are lucky, in your unabashed love of sleep, with naps like long embraces. Sleep and I are wary of each other, although we do fine when we both finally accept our mutual fate.

I am tired. It has been a long run, of late.

e. e. cummings

You are tired 
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.
Come with me then 
And we'll leave it far and far away-
(Only you and I understand!)

You have played 
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of 
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break and-
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight 
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart-
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows 
And if you like 
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble the moon 
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream 
Until I find the Only Flower 
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

I have been tired, you know. Drawn out, worn out, like an old thing. I am tired of things that break, of the puzzle of living and doing. But like our dear cummings, so recently discovered, or re-discovered, I'll keep knocking, Gentle Reader, at the gate of your heart, no matter how tired you are, no matter how tired I am.

These things, these things that cummings writes about, that he gets, are important, to me, to you. I'll keep knocking at that gate, no matter how tired I am, no matter how tired. There a sea out there somewhere, and a moon, a moon! And I intend to go there, somehow, someway, and with you.

Gentle Reader, will you come to the sea, with me?

Monday, November 19, 2012

On Tigers in the East

"It is a well known fact that the great Emperors of the East kept, as pets in their courts, the great cats known as Tigers. It is a lesser known fact that the great Emperors of the East judged the value of a Tiger not by its size, nor by the luxuriance of its fur, nor by the beauty of its eyes, nor by the length of its fangs or of its claws. Rather the great Emperors of the East judged the value of a Tiger by the amount of debris it left behind in its trail."

- Samuel the Apostate, Adventurer and Historian, in The Histories