Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 3

I pulled the boy out through the hole that I had created and into the deep snow that had formed in a drift beside the shack. He almost disappeared, as he couldn’t have been more than four foot ten.

“Grab the back of my belt,” said I. “I will guide you. The first thing we must do is find my noble steed.”

“The stable is on the other side of the Inn, just beyond the cart path.”

“Very good. Come along. I am sure that the noise of our escape was heard and any moment I may have to fight off a dozen or so angry villagers with pitchforks and such.”

“Do you have a weapon?” asked the boy.

“I have a knife in my boot, but I would be loath to stick it into a person over such a thing as this.”

“They deserve it,” said the boy, now trailing along behind me as I negotiated my way around the buildings in the gloomy night. “If my father was here, he’d lay waste to this town.”

“Quite the fierce cobbler was he?”

“Um… yes. Before he died…leaving me an orphan.”

I trudged through the snow around the large building that I now knew was the inn and crossed the cart path, distinguishable from the rest of the landscape by two parallel ruts in which the snow was not quite as deep as everywhere else. I perceived no danger from any direction and indeed could still hear the voices of men and women singing in the inn. The stable, which I would have recognized even without the orphan’s help, was dark and silent. The pleasant aroma of horse dung enveloped me as the slight breeze turned in my direction. I crept up to the large double door and pulled one side open slightly.

“Hysteria,” I called in a whisper and was answered by a gentle knicker, which is to say the sound that horses make when they are neither angry nor excited nor otherwise engaged.

Inside the stable was pitch black, and I cast around for a lantern, but the lad needed no such artifice.

“I see your horse in the last stall,” said he.

“You have very good night vision, orphan,” said I.

The little ragamuffin guided me by the hand to the far stall and by the time we arrived there I could make out the more prominent shapes including that of Hysteria, which is to say my horse, who tossed her head in greeting.

“Poor girl,” said I, running my hands over her. “They didn’t even bother to unsaddle you or remove your bit and bridle.”

“All the better for us and our escape,” said the boy.

I led Hysteria out of the stall, through the dark of the stable, and into the lesser dark of the night. It was in fact, quite a good night for traveling, at least as far as light was concerned. The moon was reflected off the white snow, and though the ghostly illumination created monsters of the many gaunt and gnarled trees, they were easily negotiated through. This put me in mind of a number of similar nights, when the moon was shining upon the snow. It seems somehow unfair that I more than most find myself sneaking in or out of town on cold, dark nights. I am not one to complain about my lot in life though. Then at that moment, as if to remind me that the lot of others was worse than my own, the boy tugged at my sleeve.

“What are you doing?” said he.

“I am pondering life,” I replied.

“Can you ponder life once we’ve made our escape from this wretched town?”

“Quite so,” said I, placing my foot in the stirrup. Once I was in the saddle, I reached down for my charge. “Come along orphan.”

“In some circles it might be considered rude to keep calling me an orphan,” he opined.

“Your parents are dead and so you are an orphan,” said I, lifting him up to sit behind me. “If I call you something else, your parents will still be dead.”

“Even so,” he agreed. “Let us get out of here.”

“Not until we make this town pay for its injustice and our indignities,” said I.

I spurred Hysteria forward, though truth be told I did not spur her precisely because I do not wear spurs. Spurs seem unnecessarily mean and pointed and Hysteria is possessed of something of a fragile ego. If one speaks harshly too her, she is likely to go into a mope for weeks on end and jabbing her haunches or belly with pointy metal objects could send her into a serious downward spiral of depression. It would be a sad thing to see. So I encouraged her forward. I urged her forward. I coaxed her forward. I asked her to go forward and she went forward, which now that I think about it, is the direction that she is usually most likely to go.

I guided her through the snow, across the cart path, and around the corner of the inn to the spot where upon I had first been laid hold of. I fully expected that the pie I had originally seen would by now be gone. As cold as the weather was, the pie would have gone from hot to warm to cool to quite cold in the time that I had spent escaping from the shack and rescuing my valiant steed, which is to say Hysteria. I was not wrong. The pie was gone. But Ho! There were now two new pies sitting on the very same window ledge.

Sitting astride Hysteria as I was, the pies were now at a level between my shoulder and my waist, and I could easily look inside the window. A fat woman with red cheeks and red hair and wearing a white apron was rolling out dough with a rolling pin. She was too busy to notice me. That was not the case with the stout fellow who at that moment entered from the common room beyond. He caught sight of me and let out a yell that could have, and in fact did, summon everyone in the place. The sounds of singing stopped as others rushed to see the source of his consternation.

“Let this be a lesson to you not to waylay innocent travelers!” I shouted, scooping up the pies, one in each hand. I urged Hysteria onward, but no doubt feeling the warm air exiting the window, she was loath to move. The orphan fixed that by slapping her on the backside, her fragile ego notwithstanding. She jumped and shot around to the front of the inn just as the gang of toughs from inside came out the front door. They were just in time to watch us race off into the darkness with two warm and steamy pies.

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Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 2

“I am not a pie thief,” said I, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the limited light of the little room. “If anything, I am a procurer of pies to be paid for at a later time, which is to say an eater of pies on account.”

“I don’t judge you,” said the little voice from the dark corner. “After all, am I not incarcerated for the same crime? It may well have been the same pie that I attempted to steal earlier in the evening that you tried to…”

“Check for doneness,” I interrupted.

“Steal.”

“Taste test.”

“Steal.”

“Borrow.”

“Steal.”

“For someone who doesn’t judge, you seem quite judgmental to me,” I opined. “And if self control did escape me for a moment, could I be blamed? Here am I, a cold and weary traveler from a far land, cold to the bone and hungry. And there sits a pie, and not just any pie, but a pie for the ages, sitting as if waiting especially for me, on the window ledge.”

“Mistress Gaston is an excellent piesmith.”

“I shall have to take your word for that,” said I, starting to make out the form of a child. “And what is it they call you, lad?”

“I am called Galfrid.”

“Come out of the corner and let me have a look at you.”

“Promise me that you won’t hurt me,” said he.

“All the country knows the name of Eaglethorpe Buxton and it knows that he is not one to harm children or ladies, nor old people or the infirm. Rather he is a friend to those who are in need of a friend and a protector to those who are in need of a protector and a guardian to those who are in need of a guardian.”

“So long as it is not a pie that needs guarding,” said he.

“Pies are something altogether unique. Pies are special, which is to say they are wonderful, but not rare. No, indeed they are common, but that does not make them worthless. Quite the contrary. Life is quite like a pie, at least in-so-much-as a life lived well is like a pie—warm and delicious on the inside with a protective crust on the outside. There are places in the world where pies are worshiped.”

“No.”

“No what?”

“There is no place in the world where pies are worshipped.”

“That is not worshipped, but revered as one might revere the saints.”

“No.”

“Far to the east of here, in the city of Bertold, in the land of Holland, they revere pies.”

“No. There is no city of Bertold in Holland and nowhere east of here do they revere pies.”

“You are a saucy child,” said I. “And if they do not revere pies east of here, then I should not like to travel in that direction.”

“So are you implying that you are this Englethorpe Boxcar and that I therefore have nothing to fear from you?”

“Eaglethorpe, with an A instead of an N, and Buxton, with an X and a ton, and yes, I am he and you have nothing to fear. Though to be sure there are plenty who would claim the name of Eaglethorpe Buxton, with and E not an N and an X and a ton, because greatness will ever have its imitators.”

“So you might well be an imposter,” said he.

“You may rest assured that I am not,” said I.

“But if you were an imposter, would you not insist that you were not an imposter?”

“You may be sure that I would.”

“Then how can I trust that you are the real Englethorpe Boxcar?”

“Just look at me!” I exclaimed, throwing my arms out and giving him a good look.

“Swear that you will not harm me,” said he. “And furthermore, swear that you will be my protector and guardian until I can return to my home?”

“How far away do you live?”

“Not far.”

“I swear to be your protector and guardian until you reach your home, though it be on the far side of creation,” said I. “Now come closer and let me get the measure of you.”

The lad crept forward until he stepped into a beam of moonlight shining through a space between the boards of the shack wall. He was a slight little ragamuffin, with a build that suggested he had not eaten in some time. He had a dirty face and wool cap pulled down to his eyes. His clothes were dirty and torn, but I immediately noticed that his shoes while dirty, seemed too fine for a ragamuffin such as this. I asked upon them.

“You see, Sir Boxcar, my parents were, um… cobblers… but they died, leaving me a destitute and lonely orphan child. These shoes were the only things they left me.”

“May they rest in peace,” said I, whipping off my cap, which is only proper courtesy to offer, even if one is only offering it to an orphan. “But on to the situation at hand. I see that you are a sturdy boy, despite your condition. Why did you not bust out of this shack? It looks as though it would take no more than a couple of kicks.”

The lad stared at me with his mouth open, obviously chagrined that he had not thought of this means of escape himself. “Yes,” he said at last. “I am a sturdy… boy…. but I think you will find the shack is sturdier than it looks. It is hammered together with iron nails.”

I turned and leveled a kick at the side wall through which crack I had but a moment before been peering. One of the boards flew off, landing in the snow six or seven feet away and leaving an opening almost big enough for the boy to pass through. I kicked a second board off the side of the structure and I was outside in a jiffy. Turning around, I reached through to aid my companion’s escape.

“Come along orphan,” said I.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 1

There was a pie. There was a pie cooling on the window ledge. Steam was rising up into the frosty air, illuminated by the flickering candlelight coming from within the building. Is there a more welcoming sight? Is there a more welcoming sight for a traveler from a far land, trudging through the cold, dark forest on a cold, dark night, waist deep in snow, frozen to the bone, than the sight of a pie cooling on the window ledge with steam rising up into the frosty air? You don’t have to wonder. I can tell you. There is no more welcoming sight than such a pie. On this night there were sights and sounds and smells, all nearly as welcoming, and they were arrayed around this particular pie like the elements of a fine meal might be arrayed around a very nicely roasted chicken breast. Candlelight flickering through the shutters casting shadows on the snow, smoke rising from the chimneys in a quaint small town, the smell of burning wood and the smell horses just overpowering the smell of pine, the sounds of men and women singing; all welcoming but not as welcoming as pie. I was as happy to see that pie as I was to see the little town in which it cooled on the window ledge.

I should stop and introduce myself. I am Eaglethorpe Buxton, famed world traveler and storyteller. Of course you have heard of me, for my tales of the great heroes and their adventures have been repeated far and wide across the land. Yes, I am sad to say that many of my stories have been told without the benefit of my name being attached to them. This is unfortunate as my appellation, which is to say the name of Buxton and of Eaglethorpe would add a certain something to the verisimilitude of a story, which is to say the truthfulness or the believability of the story. But such is the jealousy of other storytellers that they cannot bear to have my name overshadow theirs. In truth I am probably better known in any case, as an adventurer in my own right than as a teller of the adventures of others. But in any case, there was a pie.

I had been traveling for days through the snowy forests of Brest, which of course one might associate with a nicely roasted breast of chicken, but that is not necessarily the case. To be sure I have had one or two nicely roasted chickens during my travels in this dark, cold country, as I traveled from one little hamlet to the next. I would say though that I’ve eaten far more mutton and beef stew than roasted chicken breast. I suppose this has to do with the fact that eggs are dear, though I’ve seldom found an inn that didn’t offer a scrambled egg on porridge of morning. In fact, in distant Aerithraine, where I was once privileged to spend a fortnight with the Queen, I have had some of the finest breast of chicken dinners than any man has ever enjoyed. But notwithstanding this, there was a pie.

I had trudged through the snow for days, forced to lead my poor horse Hysteria who had taken lame with a stone, through drifts as high as my belt. So I was cold and I was tired. More than this though, I was hungry. And above the smell of pine and frost and people and horses and smoke, there was the smell of that pie. It smelled so very good. It smelled of warmth and happiness and home and my dear old mother. It was a pie for the ages.

I would not steal a pie. I did not steal this pie. Though I have been most unfairly accused of being a thief on one or two or sixteen occasions, I have never been convicted of such a heinous crime, except in Theen where the courts are most unfairly in control of the guilds, and in Breeria which is ruled by a tyrant, and one time in Aerithraine when the witnesses were all liars. So as you can see, I am not one to steal a pie. But being concerned that the pie might be getting too cold, I reached up to check the temperature. It was at this moment that I was laid upon by at least two pairs of rough hands.

“This is a fine welcome for a stranger to your town,” said I.

They called me varlet and scoundrel and dastard and pie thief and tossed me bodily into the confines of a small shack just out behind the structure in which the pie had rested on the window ledge. I looked around in the darkness. It was not true darkness to be sure, because the shack was poorly put together, with wide gaps through which the cold and frosty air entered with impunity. It struck me immediately that it would not be too hard work to bust out of this prison, but I waited and put my eye to one of the cracks to see if my attackers had left and to see if I could spot what they intended for Hysteria my valiant steed, which is to say my horse.

The two ruffians who had attacked me were making their way back to the front of the nearest building and just beyond them I could see one short fellow attempting to lead Hysteria away, though she tossed her head unhappily and pulled at the reigns. I sighed, and could see the steam from my breath forming a little cloud just beyond the confines of the little shack.

“So,” said a small voice, and I turned to peer into the darkened corner of the shack. “They have caught another pie thief.”

Motivations: Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsI had finished Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess and had a lot of fun writing it. I was still busily trying to find a publisher for Senta and the Steel Dragon, so I decided to spend my free time writing a second Eaglethorpe book.

A few years ealier, I had written a little play, which was performed by the Brown Junior High Drama Club to great success, and I decided that this play had been written by Eaglethorpe. The play involves characters from his world– specifically the parents of the Queen of Aerithraine, so it fit.  Incidentally, there were two showings of this play, which went really well, and I taped one of them using a big old VHS camcorder.  About two years later, my wife taped over it.  I don’t remember what show she taped now.

I was watching lots of Shakespeare at the time I was writing Eaglethorpe and you will see a lot of not so subtle nods to the Bard. The third part of Eaglethorpe (which is  in The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton) is really a continuation of the story in Sorceress.

Another bit of trivia: In the old D&D game that I played with my kids many years ago, Myolaena, the sorceress in this story, had a sister– Zurfina, whom you’ll recognize from Senta and the Steel Dragon.

Motivations: Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess tops 7,000 & 8,000 DownloadsIt was 2009 and His Robot Girlfriend was being dowloaded by the tens of thousands. I had just finished editing The Voyage of the Minotaur and was entering it into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. (It made it to round two.) So what to write next?

I wanted to do something short and fun and I decided on a fantasy comedy. I had read an enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, particularly the character of Lemony Snicket who is narrator and somehow involved with the characters and frequently hints at things outsidet the story. I decided that my hero would be a story-teller who changed the story to suit himself. Eaglethorpe Buxton was born.

I set the story in (sort of) the world I had created for my D&D campaign. My kids still have fond memories of some of the settings in which the stories take place and even met some of the characters when they played– notably Queen Elleena of Aerithraine. I had a lot of fun writing EBEP and many people have written to tell me that they like him. I’ve heard a few negative comments too, but that’s okay.

The book is very short and was always intended as a freebie, but there are a very few paperback copies around.

TMAO Eaglethorpe Buxton

Eaglethorpe BuxtonEllwood Cyrene is Eaglethorpe Buxton’s best friend. He is more or less right out of my old D&D campaign. He is rather overaffectionate toward Eaglethorpe, and the latter constantly has to remind himself of how manly they both are.  Of course, Ellwood has a big secret, and the discovery of that secret leads Eaglthorpe through a series of adventures.

Ellwood is the only character that is actually from the D&D game I ran for my children when they were growing up.  The world of Eaglethorpe is the world of that game, but Eaglethorpe and all the others, aside from Ellwood, were made up for the stories.

TMAO Eaglethorpe Buxton – Hysteria

Eaglethorpe BuxtonHysteria is Eaglethorpe Buxton’s horse. I don’t know how I came up with the name, I just remember giggling as I wrote it. It probably goes back to the evocative names in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” an awesomely funny play in which the Romans all have names like Lascivious and Stupendous. Of course, Hysteria is such a great name, because it tells us that she isn’t the steady warhorse a real hero should have. Also hysteria is such a great word, full of meaning and rife with sexism.