Eaglethorpe Buxton and… Something about Frost Giants

Chapter Eight: Wherein the doppelganger threat rises again, only to be put to rest just in time for the inevitable goblin attack.

“I do not hate Ellwood Cyrene,” I said, as Ethyl and I rode through the barren windswept hills of the northern Fallen Lands, just south of the great glacier known as The Skagarack.

“Is it because she dresses like a man and goes adventuring?” asked Ethyl.

“Is what because she dresses like a man and goes adventuring?”

“Is that why you hate her?”

“I do not hate Ellwood Cyrene.  Why, I said as much scarcely a paragraph ago.”

“I can’t imagine why she would want to go adventuring,” said Ethyl.  “If I was the Queen, I would stay at home in my palace, wearing beautiful dresses and having tea parties.”

“Fiend!” I shouted, unsheathing my sword, which is to say, taking it out of its scabbard, which is the sword holder thing.  “Now I know that you are not the true Ethyl, for she has said a thousand times that she would never wear a dress and she hates… well, in truth, she is moderately indifferent to tea, but I’ll wager a gold sovereign that she would hate a tea party!”

“Put your sword away, Father.  I swear by all that is holy that I am your loving daughter.”

“You are not helping your case, fiend!  The real Ethylthorpe would never describe herself thus.  If you really are my daughter, what is my favorite pie?”

“You love all pies equally,” she said with a sigh.

“That does sound like the correct answer,” said I.  “It is not proof enough, however.  It is far too vague.  You must answer a question that is more un-vague.”

“More specific?” she offered.

“I do not take grammar advice from doppelgangers,” said I.

“I do not remember you ever taking grammar advice from anyone,” she replied, “though I recall hearing it offered on quite a few occasions.”

“If you are who you say you are, answer this question.  What was the pie that your Aunt Celia made for me the last time we visited her?”

“That was a long time ago, probably,” said Ethyl.

“It was close to three years ago,” I reported.

“How could Ethyl… how could I possibly be expected to remember that?”

“I will give you three guesses.  If you cannot get the correct pie in those three guesses, I will run you through, which is to say, poke you with the pointy end of this sword.”

She scrunched up her forehead in thought.

“All right, she made you either a blueberry pie, a chicken pot pie, or… a disconsolateberry pie.”

“She did indeed make me all three of those pies,” I agreed, putting away my sword.  “She made me a few others as well.  It is well that you remembered, for I was almost certain that you had been replaced by a…”

“A goblin!” shouted Ethyl.

“Clearly you hadn’t been replaced by a goblin,” said I.  “I would have noticed by your very round head or your very pointy teeth.”

“No, Father, a goblin!” Ethyl shouted again, this time adding a gesture, which is to say pointing to the trail ahead.

Standing not twenty paces ahead of us, was indeed a goblin.  He was no more than three feet tall, with an over-sized round head, glowing eyes, and a gaping maw.  In other words, he was typical of his vicious little species.  As we watched him, that gaping mouth widened into a grin filled with jagged little teeth, which I always thought looked far too much like the teeth on the blade of a cross-cut saw for my taste.

I drew my sword again, and pulled up on Hysteria’s reigns, so that she would stop.  Ethyl whipped out a bow and a handful of arrows.

“When do you take up archery?” I queried.

“I’ve been practicing, um, when you weren’t looking.”

With that, she pulled back on the bow and let loose an arrow which lodged itself into the goblin’s eye.  He fell over onto his back, looking up at half the sky with his remaining dead eye.

Suddenly we were surrounded by goblins, for it can be said of a certainty, that you never run into a single goblin, but rather stumble into a whole pack of them.  The rest of the horrible little blighters had been hiding on either side of the road, just waiting for their hapless cohort to waylay a couple of decent folk, which is to say, us.

There were about two dozen goblins in this particular troop, and they had not chosen well in their prey.  I was a skilled goblin killer, and sliced left and right, my sword just reaching low enough to chop the top third of a goblin’s head off.  Hysteria was a known hater of goblins, or anything else that got too close to her feet, and she reared up again and again, stomping the ruthless little monsters into the permafrost, which is dirt that is permanently frosty.  Acrimony pranced around and killed one or two, mostly by accident, I think.  Ethylthorpe was surprisingly accurate in her archery, dropping one after another of the little monsters.  Before long, there wasn’t a single goblin remaining.  I counted thirteen bodies, indicating that nearly half the original number had fled.  This was standard operating procedure for goblins, which is to say, escaping when they are losing a battle, and not attempting to repair an injured organ or broken bone.

“Well, once again, good has triumphed over evil,” I declared.  “Let us hurry along and be out of this immediate area before nightfall.”

“Good idea, Father,” agreed Ethyl.  “I believe there is a village some four or five hours ride ahead.”

“How would you know that?  We did not travel this way before.”

“Um, I must have read it on a map.”

“If that is the case, a nice cup of mulled cider would hit the spot about now.  Mayhap this supposed town of yours will have a pie as well.”

“There is a very nice inn there,” said Ethyl.  “Um, according to the map, and they serve meat pies for supper.  The um, map didn’t mention cider, I’m afraid.”

“It is of no consequence,” said I.  “As it is, you have found quite a remarkable map with much more information than one can usually expect.  Where did you see this map?”

“It must have been back in Fencemar,” she said.  “That is of no consequence though.  What is of consequence is that at the upcoming inn, you may tell some of your wonderful stories.  Oh, how I have longed for years to hear one!”

“You have heard many of my stories over the years,” said I.

“Oh.  Um, yes.  That would be true, wouldn’t it?  But your stories are so wonderful that I could listen to them again and again, because you, my dearest father, are the greatest storyteller in the entire world.”

“Spoken like a virtuous, clever, upstanding, astute, right-minded, sharp-witted, obedient, thoughtful daughter,” said I.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and… Something about Frost Giants

Chapter Seven: In which Ethyl determines to be more of a girl and less of an evil doppelganger.

Ethyl and I traveled through what little remained of the night and then we traveled through the morning, not stopping until it was nigh on noon.  We found a little spot beside a river with a few bits of grass that the horses could nibble on while we nibbled on some dry rations.

I literally felt like figuratively kicking myself because I had neglected to purchase even a fraction of a gigantic piece of pie before we had left Fencemar.  So, I made a small fire for warmth and imagined that a meat pie was baking away in the coals as I ate a piece of bread so hard that it was inedible until dipped in river water.

“What ho!” shouted Ethyl suddenly.

I looked up to find her looking down into a saddle bag, or more precisely into Acrimony’s saddle bag, since it was behind the saddle that was fastened to Acrimony’s back.

“What?” I asked.

“There are dresses in here.”

“Of course there are dresses in there.  Every morning, I take out one of those dresses and wrestle you into it, clean you up, and do your hair into cute pigtails.  And every day, by half past noon, you have stripped off the dress, dirtied yourself up again, and taken to acting in no fit manner for a young lady.”

“I have?  I mean, I have,” said she.  “You know, I wouldn’t mind getting into a dress now, as I’m still cleaned up from yesterday, and, if you wanted to, and it wasn’t too much trouble, and we have time, I wouldn’t mind too terribly having my hair put up in cute pigtails.”

“What have you done with my daughter, vile doppelganger?” I shouted, jumping to my feet and whipping out my sword.

“I didn’t do anything to her.  I mean to me.  I mean, it’s me.  I’m right here, obviously.”

“I knew there was something off about you.  You are way too nice and way to civilized, and now that I think about it, way too clean to be the real Ethylthorpe Buxton.  I should have known right away that you were some evil fiend that had taken her form.”

“I’m really Ethylthorpe Dewberry Buxton,” she said, “and my birthday is the Sixth Day of the Rat Festival in The Year of the Drunken Hobgoblin.  No doppelganger would know that.”

“Hmm,” I hmmed, almost satisfied.  “Turn around and lift up your jerkin.”

With a sigh, she did so, and I could see the birthmark in the small of her back shaped like a kickball.  I was thus reassured that she was the genuine article, the article being my daughter.

“Satisfied?” she asked, cheekily.

“I am satisfied that you are my daughter, but I am not otherwise satisfied, which is to say, I wish I had a meat pie.”

I finished my lunch, such as it was, and checked the horse’s hooves, while Ethyl changed into the cute little red dress that I had purchased for her in OordportOordport is a city known for its fine dresses and is somewhat of a destination for both men and women who enjoy wearing that type of clothing, which is to say dresses.  Once she had put on the proper attire for a young lady or a very small man, if he was inclined to such a thing, she allowed me to braid her hair into two cute pigtails, with red ribbons tied to the ends.

“What do you think?” she asked me.

“I scarcely know what to think,” said I.  “Let’s be on our way.”

I put out the fire and cleaned up the camp, and then my daughter and I mounted our horses, me upon mine and she upon hers, and we continued on our way.

“Tell me about my mother,” said Ethyl.

“I have told you about her many times.”

“Um, yes, I know.  I want to hear about her again.  What was she like?”

“What would you like to know?”

“Was she beautiful?”

“She was extremely beautiful,” I said.

As I reminisced, which is to say, talked while remembering, I tried to keep as much wist from my voice as possible.  Wistfulness is fine beside a fire of an evening but is no good while riding through the cold countryside.

“She also wore beautiful dresses and she never even once dressed in pants and pretended to be a man.”

“Where is she?” asked Ethyl.

“You know where she is.  She’s dead.”

“She is?  I mean, she is.  I mean, how did she die?  I mean, tell me again how she died.”

“I can’t tell you again how she died,” said I.

“Why not?”

“I can’t tell you again how she died, because I’ve never told you how she died in the first place.”

“Oh.”

“She died of consumption,” I told her.

“Consumption?  What is that?”

“It’s when you consume something you shouldn’t have,” said I.  “She consumed poison.”

“Poison!” shouted Ethyl.  “Who poisoned her?”

“Calm yourself,” said I.  “Nobody poisoned her but her own self.  She took her own life.”

“Why?”

“Well, it wasn’t because she didn’t want to be a devoted wife and mother or wear dresses all the time and give up on a life of adventuring.  It was a different reason entirely.”

“Well, what was it?”

“Um, well… I will tell you another time.  It is too upsetting.  Let us talk on a different topic.”

“Okay,” said Ethyl.  “Tell me why you hate Ellwood Cyrene so much.”

“Who said I hate Ellwood Cyrene?  Did he… she… he say that?  Either one of them?”

“No.  She said nothing to me about it.  And I know that she is a woman.  And I know that she is really Queen Elleena of Aerithraine.”

“How do you know all that?” I demanded.

“Well, it’s all right there in Chapter Six,” she said.

 

Eaglethorpe Buxton and… Something about Frost Giants

Chapter Six: In which I remind the reader of just who Ellwood Cyrene is.

I looked at Ellwood Cyrene, her face lit by the light of the full moon.  That’s right, I said “her face.”  I had known Ellwood Cyrene for many years.  We had fought side-by-side in countless adventures.  And during all that time, I was under the impression that she was a he.  She walked like a man.  She talked like a man.  She fought like a man.  She pretended to be a man.

Then I found out that she wasn’t a man.  I found out she was a woman.  Then I found out that she wasn’t just a woman.  She was a queen.  The queen.  She was Elleena Posthuma, Queen of Aerithraine, Guardian of the Faithful, Protector of the Realm, and… a whole lot of other things.

“I thought you were over all that,” she said.

“Over what?”

“Over what you were just talking about, about me being the Queen and all that.”

“There are certain situations in which a man can get over all that,” said I, “and there are certain situations in which he can’t.”

“Well, what made it so intolerable all of a sudden?” she demanded.

“Oh, you well know what it was!” said I, striking an intimidating pose.

“You’re still angry that I wouldn’t marry you and let you be the king.”

“I never wanted to be the king.  All I wanted was to live a long life with my resplendent and enticing, though somewhat robust and virile wife, to whom I was properly married, I might add, and my eight to twelve imaginative and perspicacious children, whom I also might also add would not be bastards, because I would have been married to their mother!”

“I see you got a new thesaurus,” she said.

“I would have been a great king!” said I.

She reached out a hand and stroked my face.

“Let’s not rehash this again.  Let’s enjoy the time that we have.  We could have a little family reunion.”

“I would,” spoke I, “but I am leaving posthaste, with… um, haste, which is to say, right away.”

“But I want… But I thought you would… What about…?”

“Spare me your half sentences.  You have sentenced me enough to last a lifetime.”

With that, I turned and walked back into tavern.  I didn’t even look back to see if she was looking at me.  I had just stepped inside the door, when I ran into my daughter.

“Come.  We must pack up and get out of town right now.”

“Right now?”

“Yes, that is what I said.  Right now.”

“Perhaps that is for the best,” she opined.

“Get our horses,” said I.  “I will gather up our things.

I hurried up to our rooms and gathered our meager, which is to say small and not in any way many, possessions, returning to find Ethyl standing by the tavern’s entrance, nary a horse in sight.

“Where are our noble steeds?”

“They should be here in a moment,” she said.  “I paid the tavern boy a silver coin to saddle them and bring them forth.”

“I thought you preferred to do that yourself,” I noted.

“Oh, um, yes… normally.  Right now, I’m still a little shaky from the whole ordeal of the giant attack.  I mean that it was an attack by giants, and not a giant attack, as in a big or large or Brobdingnagian attack, because as far as I know, it wasn’t more than four or five giants.  And I’m not shaky because I was frightened either.  It’s because I was excited.  I felt a surge of adrenaline that I’m sure would have resulted in heroic efforts against the giants had I only been six or eight inches taller.  Besides, given the location of this town, a silver coin placed in the pocket of the tavern boy might well do a great deal to build up the local economy and make it a more prosperous place to visit should we venture here again.”

“You must be filled with adrenaline,” I noted, “as heretofore, I don’t recall you ever speaking five sentences at one time, usually being prone to limit yourself to a few expletives, and here you’ve gone and spoken seven sentences all at once, and several of them quite long ones.”

“Um, darn tootin’,” said Ethyl.

The tavern boy arrived leading our two noble steeds, which is to say horses.  They had been saddled and looked well-rested.  My steed was the noble warhorse Hysteria, who had been my companion on countless adventures over the years.  In truth, she was getting a bit long of tooth, which is to say old, but I would never tell her so, as it is impolite to discuss the age of ladies and horses and Hysteria was both.  She was still capable of a good long gallop in full barding, which is to say armor for horses, though truth be told, I often had to promise some delicacy to be given in the future before she would demonstrate that capability.  She was also prone to bouts of depression, which I attributed to her recently having given up both chewing tobacco and gambling, neither of which are appropriate for horses or ladies or lady horses.  Ethyl’s mount was a pony, which is to say a small horse, but not small because it is young, but just small in general—a compact horse if you will.  His name was Acrimony, and Ethyl had picked him out as a colt when she was only four years old.  He was a light bay, which is to say brown, and was covered with a caparison, which is to say a cloth horse covering, emblazoned with the Dewberry coat of arms.

I quickly mounted Hysteria and watched as Ethyl attempted to do the same to Acrimony.  He pranced around and even turned to snap at her, but she slapped him soundly on the top of the head and told him, “Knock it off, you!”

“Is he upset to be leaving in the middle of the night?” I asked.

“One might assume so,” Ethyl replied, climbing up into the saddle and pulling back on the reins.

Acrimony quickly fell into line, seeing who was in charge.  If there is one thing that little girls know how to do, it is how to manage a horse.

“Come,” said I.  “It is time for this town to see the back of us, which is to say, it’s time for us to go.”

“Yes, Father,” said Ethyl, and she gave me an odd look.  “I’m so happy that we are together.”

This warmed my heart, for it was the first kind word that I had heard from the girl’s lips in a long time, or maybe ever.

“Me too,” said I.

And we rode off down the trail, into the wilds of the far north portion of The Fallen Lands, just south of the great glacier known as The Skagarack.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and… Something about Frost Giants

Chapter Four: In which Ethyl and I take our baths, and the town is invaded, as is inevitable in these types of stories.

I made my way up to my room, and just as the tavernkeeper had promised, I found a hot bath waiting for me.  It had been a good two weeks since I had a hot bath.  I had suffered through several very cold baths in the interim, and I can tell you, that a hot bath beats a cold one any day of the year, except maybe summer, but certainly any autumn, winter, or spring day of the year.  Peeling off my clothes, I slipped into the tub.  It was only about three feet around, so my arms, legs, and my head hung over the sides, but my torso was happy.

My torso was still feeling nice and warm, when the door opened, and my daughter entered.

“Look around,” said I.  “Is there some soap and a clean cloth somewhere?”

Ethyl found both items sitting on a chair by the door and handed them to me.

“Go wait in the other room,” I directed.  “As soon as I get out of this bath, you’re getting in.”

“But I had a bath last week!” she growled.

“You must wash some of that grime off of you, lest some wild animal drag you off, thinking you’re its long-lost cub.”

“At least then I won’t have to take a bath.”

“So you think,” said I.  “It will be your luck to be dragged away by a cave lion.  You’ll be longing for a bathtub after a cave lion licks you clean with its rough tongue.  I can tell you that from experience.”

With a rude gesture, she turned and left.

As loath as I was to leave the warm embrace of the bath, I didn’t want my child left with nothing but cold water, so I quickly soaped up, rinsed off, and dressed in my night shirt.  Then, I went to the other room to fetch the girl.  I was forced to pull her by her ear back to the first room, wrestle her to the floor so that I could strip off her filthy clothes, and then throw her bodily into the water.  Luckily for her, the tub was just her size.  She only agreed to use soap when I told her that if she didn’t, I would make her take another bath on the morrow.

When she was finally passably clean, I dressed her in her nightgown.  It was a cute pink garment, made of the finest, softest wool in all of Aerithraine, and had the image of Castle Dewberry embroidered upon it.  Castle Dewberrywas our home, though we had not been back since before Ethyl’s first birthday, so she had no memory of it.  She crossed her arms and made growling and hissing noises as I brushed her hair.  If a cave lion had only heard her, it would have reinforced the idea that she was its missing cub.

“There now,” I told her.  “You make a charming and presentable girl, which is to say that I could present you to… a king or queen, if I had a mind.  Perhaps to the Queen of Aerithraine.”

“She’s a wicked slattern!” hissed Ethyl.

“Be that as it may,” said I.  “We could present you to somebody.  It would have made your mother so proud… bless her departed soul.”

“Tell me what she was like?” asked Ethyl, in the rarely heard tone of tenderness.

“What would you like to know?”

“Was she beautiful?”

“She was extremely beautiful,” I said wistfully, which is to say, full of wist.  “She always wore beautiful dresses and she never even once dressed in pants and pretended to be a man.”

“Why do girls have to wear dresses?” grumbled Ethyl.  “Dresses are stupid.”

“But you look so cute when you are in a dress, with ribbons in your hair and your cheeks all rosy.”

“When I grow up, I’m never going to wear a dress!” she hissed.  “I’m going to wear pants and go adventuring!  If you think dresses are so great, then you wear one!”

“I am a man and so I do not wear dresses, not even for fun, and not even for seven months one time to avoid the army.  As for you, hop into that bed right now.  Tonight, I want you to think about what you just said and what your poor, dear, departed, saintly, deceased, beautiful, dead mother would say.  I shall be next door if you need anything.”

I went back to the other rented room and dropped down onto the bed.  I was asleep instantly.  I frequently fell asleep instantly, as I was usually exhausted from dealing with my unruly offspring, which is to say my daughter, which is to say Ethyl.

It seemed I was asleep only a minute, when I was awakened by the sounds of shouting and the clanging of sword and shield.  Grabbing my own sword and my own shield, I ran out of the room.  A quick glance next door showed me that Ethyl was still asleep.  I hurried down the stairs and out the door.

I almost immediately ran into a giant leg.  It was attached to a giant body, which is to say, a giant.  It was not Thurid Njärlbjörnsdöttir, for it was a male giant.  He carried a huge axe in one hand and a torch in the other.  He looked about ready to toss that torch onto the tavern.  Not wanting that to happen, I stabbed him in the kneecap, which was just about at eye level with me.  With a cry, he dropped to his knees.  But before I could stab him in an even more tender spot, he arched his back and fell forward, struck from behind.  As the giant dropped into the dirt, I came face-to-face with the warrior who had finished him off, which it to say, killed him.  It was Ellwood Cyrene.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and… Something about Frost Giants

Chapter One: In which I ponder the theoretical limit of pies.

It was the largest pie I had ever seen.  When I say that, you can rest assured that it means something, because I am Eaglethorpe Buxton, famed around the world as a heroic adventurer, a brilliant author and storyteller, and a connoisseur of pies.  There are some who would insist that I am a connoisseur of pies first and foremost, but that is not true.  While it is true that there are some who would slanderously, which is to say with much slander, espouse that Elwood Cyrene is a more heroic adventurer than me, there are none who could claim, even slanderously, that there is a better storyteller.  On the other hand, I would freely admit that my cousin Celia is at least the connoisseur of pies that I am, though perhaps not the eater of pies that I am.  In any case, it was a large pie.

“That must be the world’s largest pie,” said I.

“It is a large pie,” said the man standing opposite me, who was the local tavernkeeper.  “I don’t know about the world, but it is the largest pie in Fencemar, for it is baked in the largest pie pan that could be found in the town.”

“Not surprising,” said I.  “I would imagine that not a bigger pie pan could be found in Celestria herself.”

“Notwithstanding that,” said he.  “If she could have come by a bigger pan, our piesmith was more than ready to make a bigger pie still.  In fact, she expressed great disgust that this was the best we could do in cast iron production.”

“I should like to meet this piesmith,” said I.  “First though, I would like to eat a slice of that pie.”

“Then have a seat,” said he.  “It’s a sovereign for a slice, but that slice is a full meal for a grown man and his three grown sons.”

“Then there may well be enough for me,” said I, “and my daughter.”

“Come in here, Ethyl!” I called.  “It’s pie for dinner!”

“Ethyl is a lovely name,” said the tavernkeeper, but he stopped and stared at the seven-year-old ball of spit and anger that stomped into the room.

“Her real name is Ethylthorpe,” said I.

“It’s Ethyl!” she hissed, “and I’m sick of pie!”

“Lovely child,” said the man, but he was being polite, or he was mistaken, or he had some kind of degenerative eye disease, because Ethylthorpe Buxton was not a lovely child.  She wore a pair of baggy overalls and a stained shirt, and she was covered in dirt from head to toe.  She had snot running from her right nostril and bloody scab on her forehead.  Long gone was the lovely pink and yellow dress that I had ordered her dressed in that morning, and now, the only indication that she was a girl and not some kind of grotesque miniature half-ogre, was her long blond hair, and in it, only one of my carefully braided pigtails remained.

“You’ll sit there, and you’ll eat that pie,” said I, “and you’ll like it, or I’ll give you what for!”

She sat down at the table I had selected, crossed her arms, and stuck out her tongue at me.  I unwrapped my heavy cloak and put it on the back of the chair.

The tavernkeeper went to the pie and cut out a slice, which he placed on a wooden platter only slightly smaller than a wagon wheel.  Then he and two of the tavern girls wrestled it to my table, which it completely covered.

“Not to put too fine a point on it,” said he.  “I did say it was a sovereign.”

“That you did,” said I, tossing him the required gold coin.

“You folk are from Aerithraine,” said he, showing the obverse of the coin, which is to say the front, upon which sat the image of a beautiful woman.  “I recognized Queen Elleena.”

“She’s a beastly hag!” growled Ethyl.  “And I don’t want a huffleberry pie!”

“You will show some respect!” I growled right back at her.  “Respect for huffleberry pie, if not for the queen!”

“Hmph!” she hmphed.

“I come from Aerithraine originally,” I explained, “but I’ve been living in Lyrria some seven years now.”

“I’ll get you some forks,” said the tavernkeeper.

“Not to fear,” said I, whipping out my fork from my shirt pocket, which I call my fork pocket, for it is the pocket in which I carry my fork.

I glared at Ethyl, until she too produced her fork, waving it at me insolently.  Like mine, it was made of fine silver and featured a stylized E on the handle.

I sat opposite my dirt-encrusted offspring and took a bite of the pie.  It was very good.  Despite huffleberries not being my favorite, something that I was not going to admit to my unclean progeny, it was sweet and tart, and the crust was first rate.  I had expected huffleberry pie, because we were traveling in the far north of The Fallen Lands, just along the southern border of the great glacier known as The Skagarack, and in the far north of The Fallen Lands, just along the southern border of the great glacier known as The Skagarack, there were no fruits to be had except for huffleberries, which only grow where it is too cold for any other plant to grow that isn’t mostly made of pine needles and pine cones, which is to say pine trees.

“Eat your pie,” said I.

Ethyl grumbled but took a bite.

“You should be happy to get a pie,” said I.  “You know there are some places in the world where a man would kill for a good pie.”

“You know there are some places in the world where a man would kill for a good pie,” she repeated mockingly, which is to say, full of mock.

“Oh, how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child,” quoth I.

“Plagiarer!” she said, jumping to her feet, taking an accusing stance and pointing at me.  “You did steal that line from William Shakespeare and his play Macbeth!”

“Nonsense,” said I.  “I did take that line from Eaglethorpe Buxton and his play MacElizabeth, and I am allowed, as I am that self-same Eaglethorpe Buxton.”

“I’ve heard of you,” said a tavern girl, stopping at the table.

She was quite attractive, with short vanilla hair and cherry lips, and her generous breasts threatened to fall right out of the top of her blouse, the top three buttons of which were undone.

“And what have you heard, my dear?” I asked.

“I have heard that you are a teller of tales, quite free with your coin, and the greatest lover in all of Duaron.”

“You know me well,” said I.

“Can I bring you a beer?” she asked.

“You are not only lovely,” said I, “but you’re clearly very smart, which is to say, yes, beer.”

“How about her?” she asked, nodding toward Ethyl.

“Bring me a beer too,” said Ethyl.

“Oh, sit down already,” I ordered her, for she was still standing accusingly.  “Unless you sit, no beer for you.”

She sat.

“We have milk,” said the tavern girl.

“I’m lactose intolerant!” hissed Ethyl.

“What does that mean?”

“It means that milk is too good for her,” I said.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and… Something about Frost Giants

Has Eaglethorpe’s daughter been replaced by a vile doppelganger?  Wait… Eaglethorpe has a daughter?  Who is her mother?  And why is he on the outs with his best friend Ellwood Cyrene?  And I assume there are frost giants somewhere in this book.  It’s another improbable tale from the wandering storyteller and scoundrel Eaglethorpe Buxton.

It is here, friends.  You can download it at the following address free: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1102572

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 and 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.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 20

Chapter Twenty: Epilog.

Three years after the events in this tale, I was sitting beside the fireplace in the Singing Siren Tavern in the city of Antriador, having just finished telling the tale of Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess, when I heard a voice calling out.  “Gah! You are the worst story-teller ever!”

It was Jholiera.  She was no longer dressed as an orphan boy.  Nor was she clad in her leather elven-style princess dress with a leaf motif carved into it, and lots of gold jewelry.  She was dressed as a traveling warrior, with armor carefully tailored to her short and feminine form, and a sword on her back that was nearly as large as she was.  Her golden hair, now almost reaching her waist was styled into dozens of thin braids, each adorned with beads of bone and ivory.  She threw her arms around me and pulled me close in a tight embrace, then released me before continuing.

“You are the worst storyteller ever.  None of that was right—the pies, the goblins, the elves.  None of it happened that way at all.  Only that bit in the Inn with Ellwood Cyrene was remotely true.  And I most certainly did not kiss you.  Not even once.”

“A little romance makes for a better story,” said I.

“I’m surprised you didn’t have me throw myself at you.”

“I had to keep it proper,” said I.  “You were dressed as a boy most of the story.”

“Come here, you great fool,” she said, and taking my face in her small hands, she pulled me down to her eye level and kissed me, this time deeply, on the lips, and with great passion.  It was such a shock that for a moment I couldn’t speak.

“What are you doing now?” she asked.

“I am pondering a new ending to the story.”

“You’re not thinking of making up an ending where I show up in a tavern dressed as a warrior and, taking your face in my small hands, I pull you down to eye level and kiss you, this time deeply, on the lips, and with great passion, are you?”

“Of course not,” said I.  “Perish the thought.”

 

 

The End

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess – Chapter 19

Chapter Nineteen: Wherein I make an escape, a plot element that I normally wouldn’t reveal, but you know that I am alive anyway because I am telling you the story.

I was given another bowl of the delicious mush, which I ate, this time with more difficulty because my back really ached when I bent over to eat like a dog.  I certainly didn’t sleep though.  Oh you can be sure of that.  I didn’t sleep.  Knowing that you are going on trial in one hour is not nearly the cure for sleepiness that knowing you are to be executed in the morning is.

“Eaglethorpe,” a voice called.

I turned to see Jholiera bathed in the light of the setting sun as it diffused through the trees.  She was no longer dressed as a boy.  She had on a leather dress cut in an elven style with a leaf motif carved into it. It left her shoulders bare and though her form was slight, there was no longer any question that she was a young woman. She had golden jewelry on her arms and a delicate golden crown on her head.

“Eaglethorpe, how are you?”

“I’ve a pretty nasty stab wound in my back, and my arms are aching from them being tied behind me.  I think I skinned my knee when I was trying to eat from a bowl like a dog, but there’s no way to check.  Oh yes, and they are going to kill me in a few hours.  Other than that, I’m fine.”

“Come here, close to the bars.”

I did as directed and she reached through the bars and cut the bands that were holding my wrists together.  My muscles cried out as blood rushed back into them, and a shooting pain went from my back straight into my heart.

“I think I shall die before they have a chance to kill me,” said I. “Serves them right.”

“Don’t say that.  I’m going to get you out of here.”

“How?”

“I’ll be back after midnight.  In the meantime, try to get some rest.”

“You have no idea, girl,” said I, as she went off into the trees.

Remarkably I did sleep this time.  I must have.  I don’t remember falling asleep or even sitting down.  But when I was awakened, by small pebbles hitting against my face, I found myself sitting against the wall of the cave.

“Ow!  Stop it,” said I, as one of the small pebbles hit me in the eye.

“Quiet you,” said Jholiera.  “I’m almost ready to rescue you.  Get over here and wait by the cell door.  You have to be ready at a moment’s notice.”

“Why aren’t you rescuing me now?”

“I don’t have the key yet.”

“You don’t have the key?”

“Calm down.  I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

She did return, but it wasn’t in a few minutes.  It was quite a bit later.  In fact, by the time she did return, I was beginning to fear that the first rays of predawn light might make escape impossible.  But when she arrived, Jholiera did have the key.  She quickly opened the cell door, and taking me by the hand, led me through a maze of trees.  We hurried around massive trunks and over fallen logs, through curtains of trailing vines, until we came to another small glade.  Here was my beautiful steed, which is to say Hysteria.

I can tell you I had a hard time saddling my horse due to my injury.  But with the elven princess’s help, the deed was soon done.  As I prepared to mount, Jholiera stopped me.

“Thank you Eaglethorpe,” she said, and gave me a tender kiss on the cheek.

“You are coming with me, aren’t you?” I asked.  “You can’t live with such a horrible father, or marry such a horrible husband.”

“Don’t worry.  My father is not so bad.  And Iidreiion probably won’t want to marry me anyway after he finds out what I had to do to get the key away from his cousin.  Besides, I’ve had enough adventuring for now.  I just want to stay home and be safe.”

With that she gave me an even tenderer kiss on the cheek.  I climbed into my saddle and took off through the woods, just as the early dawn was beginning to break.  And I didn’t see the little elven princess again.