Ol’ Grum: Tale 1 -Part 4 (end Tale 1)

“Mr. Grum . . . Mr. Grum. You awake?” A high pitched squeaky voice sounded in Grum’s ear.
He opened one beady eye and squinted up at the pesky yellow faerie.
“Don’t you know better than to wake a gnome from a nap? I don’t understand you faeries, respecting the plants and all but not giving a gnome some peace and quiet.” He waved his arm as if to shoo the faerie away and rested his head back onto a root he had snuggled into.
“I see you found my beetle.” The diminutive voice sounded too cheerful for Grum’s liking.
“And I see that you’re not going to leave me alone.” With great effort, Grum pushed himself into a seated position. He yawned and worked to get his muscles to cooperate for a small stretch, but he was sore and his arms fell heavy and limp to his sides. He worked his finger in the dirt next to him.
“I am so pleased Mr. Grum. I can’t thank you enough for your help.”
He looked around for the darned beetle and found it grazing on some grass. The most annoying thing was that Neevya wasn’t even watching over it. “Aren’t you worried that your little friend is going to leg it again?”
Neevya glanced over her shoulder. “He seems to have calmed down.” She shrugged, “I’ve raised him since he was a hatchling, and we’re quite attached. He’s my first pet beetle. I was ever so worried about him. I thank you Mr. Grum, from the bottom of my heart.”
“Well I’ll give you something from the heart of my bottom if you don’t let me get some rest. It’s all very well messing around with the local wildlife but if you’re not prepared to take good care of it then you shouldn’t be allowed within ten feet of it. There should be some kind of beetle license as far as I’m concerned. A bloody menace is what they are.”
Grum was about to launch into a tirade against the perils of beetle ownership and how stricter sanctions should be put into place, along with more rigid guidelines about correct handling of all insects, but he abruptly stopped when Neevya planted a smacker on his cheek. Until that moment, and in all his years, Grum had never been stunned into silence.
Neevya smiled and said, “Really Mr. Grum. I truly appreciate your assistance. You’re the noblest gnome I know.” He stood without moving as he watched Neevya drift away on the wind, her loyal beetle jogging along at her feet. She turned, faerie dust drifting from her wings, and gave him one last smile and a little wave before she disappeared into the forest.

Grum settled back into the tree roots, but he couldn’t sleep. That kiss played over and over in his mind. No matter where he put down his hat, whether it be in the thick moss under the elms, or in an abandoned rabbit hole, a nook in the branches, or one of the many beds available in the tavern he found after wandering aimlessly for a couple of hours, he simply could not sleep.
“Frogwash!” Grum stamped his foot and looked at the setting sun. It was then that the idea of a quest came to him. He would have to go beyond Ayin to find somewhere to sleep. Somewhere without any beetles and definitely no faeries; too damn pretty were faeries by half.
Grum took off his hat and reached inside. After a little searching he produced what he was looking for. It was a portrait of his eldest brother Lam.
Those of you in the know will recognize that portraits have a great deal of power and can be used to travel across great distances to meet the ones depicted. And this is exactly what Grum did. He replaced his hat and stepped through the portrait portal to visit his brother in Gwyndovia, the land of the Gnomes.

Ol’ Grum: Tale 1 -Part 3

“Aren’t I meant to be helping you find your faerie?” Grum said. “And how am I going to do that if you go wandering off all the time? No wonder you got lost in the first place. If Neevya thinks there’s going to be some gullible gnome to lend a helping hand every time she misplaces an insect, then she’s got another thing coming. Or rather she doesn’t! She’ll have nothing coming, that’s what. Not from me.” Grum halted and watched the beetle veer into the bramble-lined forest. “I’m not kidding around you know. I’ll carry on without you and then where will you be? I’ll tell you. Even more lost than you were before, that’s where. Lostville. Population: one. One dumb beetle.”
Grum’s threats were empty, and he knew it. Heck, the beetle knew it too. The more Grum complained, the more the bug seemed to think Grum liked him. Maybe Neevya was right . . . maybe beetles did have good intuitions.
When all was said and done, despite missing some important nap-time, Grum didn’t abandon the beetle. Nor did he continue his search for a nice spot to lie down and catch up on some well-deserved sleep. He did none of these things because even though he hated to admit it, deep down he was a good fae. There had never been a time when he was overly proactive about this innate goodness, but if the chance for good was thrust upon him, more often than not he would seize it . . . albeit reluctantly.
“You’re going to take being lost to a whole new level if you don’t start listening to me, beetle,” Grum yelled as the beetle scampered out of sight.
When Grum finally caught up, he found the insect standing still with its legs extended. Its small head and long antennae waved in the breeze.
“What’ve you found, boy? Caught her scent have you? Or has all that faerie dust in the air got to ya?” Grum approached the beetle and laid a hand on its carapace. The beetle bolted.
Unfortunately, but perhaps serendipitously, Grum’s loose shirt sleeve caught on one of the many barbed ridges that adorned the beetle’s back. A material such as faerie-silk would have glided off the pointed hooks without so much as a ripple, but woven squirrel fur was prone to snags, and before he knew what had happened, Grum was yanked off his feet. The beetle scurried across the ground as if running away from a gargoyle. Grum bounced through brambles and over roots from one tree to the next. It was a good few minutes and many bruises later that Grum managed to haul himself astride the beetle, at which point he grabbed its antennae and pulled hard.
“What in the blazes are you playing at you demented invertebrate?” Grum yanked hard, pulling the beetle’s head to the left.
A little side note: you may be aware that an insect’s feelers, its antennae, whether they be centipede or wasp, mite, fly, or beetle are very sensitive. Grabbing them as Grum was now doing was not unlike poking you or me in the eyes. Evidently Grum was not aware of this.
The beetle bucked and yawed like a pixie surfing the wind gusts of a tornado. It careened through the forest. The only thing poor ol’ Grum could do was hold on for dear life. As the beetle drove them deeper into the forest, Grum began to fear that they might emerge in Zyang, the heart of Faerie. No sensible gnome should ever go to the most magical place in all of Faeyelwen if he wanted to keep his wits about him . . . at least that was the rumor among his race.
“Give it a rest you great black thing!” Grum’s mind raced about trying to determine how he could get the beetle to end its rampage. He didn’t know any beetle calls, nor did he know how to sing the insects to sleep. All he knew about beetles was what they liked to eat.
Grim released the beetle’s antennae. That calmed the beast down enough for Grum to take off his hat and rummage through it. Somewhere in there, right at the bottom, past the bread and butter, past his shirts and pantaloons, beyond his spare hat and pipe, and just a bit farther than all the other junk he had accumulated over the years was the one thing that beetles couldn’t resist. Dung.

Dung can be a very useful thing and isn’t quite as disgusting as you might think. It can be used to make the soil fertile, something the faeries would no doubt vouch for. If you want to set up camp at night (or in the day if you happen to be a gnome) you may use it to ward off dangerous wild animals. Other uses include fuel for fire. It has medicinal properties as well, and can even be used in pigments.
What is disgusting, though, is what beetles do with it. I shall let your imagination fill in the blanks and I hope that you are not currently eating your lunch as you read this.

Grum tossed the dung from his rampaging steed and was promptly thrown off as the beetle made a sudden U-turn to dive after the treat. Five, maybe six times Grum tumbled head over heels. He lost count. When his body settled at the base of a large oak tree, Grum was too tired to move and thought it was just as good a spot as any for a much needed and well-earned nap. As he drifted off to sleep, he saw the beetle coming toward him. Then he felt the insect’s weight on his head. He started to protest, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Grum closed his eyes and entered the realm of dreams.


Next Wednesday: The conclusion of Ol’ Grum: Tale 1

Ol’ Grum: Tale 1 -Part 2

Note to reader:
Don’t be surprised if you find many of these tales starting with Grum waking up. Waking is an important part of a gnome’s life, as it’s a frequent occurrence. Should you be interested, I could go into detail about a gnome’s sleep, but I think Grum’s dreams may be a bit too abstract to capture your attention at this stage.
Nevertheless, Grum has been insisting on telling me his entire life story, and no details are too small apparently. He says he has nothing better to do than to keep me entertained, but I suspect he’s trying to teach me a lesson or two. And unlike other gnomes, I reckon he is getting quite discontent sitting around in a frozen state all day. He says a gnome can only be petrified once in his lifetime, and he’s actually looking forward to being able to stay awake for as long as he likes when he de-petrifies. Until then, I suppose he will have to be content conversing with me.
Now, on with the story.


Grum opened his eyes. Normally, waking in the darkness wasn’t much to get excited about. It simply indicated that Father Sun had not yet crested the horizon, which meant going straight back to sleep was not only the most socially acceptable option, but also the most advisable. Yet something was off. His stomach always grumbled at noon, and it was growling like a leprechaun who had lost a bet.
Grum tried to sit up, but his nose was smashed against something smooth, hard, and round. He hadn’t even noticed the weight before that moment. Waking in this condition might make any other fae cringe in fear, but gnomes aren’t the fearful type.
Grum worked his hands around the surface of the object and huffed when he realized what it was . . . a beetle napping on his face. Whether or not this was the same beetle Neevya had been looking for he did not know, but he thought it highly likely.
“I’m not a faerie,” Grum said, “and you’ll find that out soon enough when I give you a good wallop. Now get off my head you great ugly thing. I can’t see past the end of my nose, and in my experience that’s where all the interesting stuff happens.”
It was unclear if the insect understood the threat or not, but it crawled away nonetheless. The beetle was an ordinary looking insect with a shiny black shell and a tiny head with mandibles that chattered back and forth.
“If you’re who I think you are, I’ll have you know your mistress is looking for you,” Grum said. “You’d better be on your way. There’s important faerie business to be done. Not to mention all the important gnome business that you woke me from. Now scram.”
The beetle swiveled a beady black eye in the gnome’s direction and, in the only way possible for a creature with no face (to speak of), gave Grum a pitiful look.
“Don’t play coy with me. I’m not going to help you,” Grum said, already plotting where he was going to lie down next. The wind was picking up, so he thought somewhere sheltered might be nice. “I told your mistress I’d send you back if I saw you. Last I saw she was over by the king’s palace. Go over there and I’m sure you’ll find her, or she’ll find you, one or the other.”
As Grum removed his hat from his head, he could feel the mournful stare the beetle bore into his back. Grum reached inside his hat, pulled out a nice chewy piece of bread, and poured himself an acorn full of ambrosia. After dipping his bread into his drink, he took a bite and turned back to the beetle.
Click click click
“I’m going to regret this,” Grum mumbled as he tossed a piece of bread to the ground.
The beetle gobbled it down.
Grum took a large bite and tossed the remaining bread to the beetle. Then he slung his gnomestool over his shoulder. Again he felt the beetle’s stare. Grum shifted the gnomestool so he could carry it without much effort, adjusted his hat, and started walking, mumbling all the while. He didn’t have to look over his shoulder to know that the beetle was waiting for an invitation.
Grum stopped, turned around, and asked, “Well, what are you waiting for?”
Before that moment, Grum never knew beetles could smile. Even more astonishing, Grum didn’t know he could smile.


Short but sweet! Next Wednesday brings an adventure!

Ol’ Grum: Tale 1 -Part 1

Grum woke slowly, trying to hold on to the last scraps of a particularly vivid dream he was having, something about winning first place in a giant frog rodeo. As the sunlight reached his eyes, the image of his being tossed into the air by a wild toad slipped away. Grum rubbed his eyes and retrieved a spotted handkerchief from deep within his oversized pointy black hat. After he wiped his nose, he stuffed the hankie back into his hat and pulled the hat down well over his ears. The morning was a touch on the chilly side for his sensitive ears. Now that they were snug and warm, Grum stood and began searching for a nice place to have a much needed nap.

The forest of Ayin had been his home for some time. The folks were nice enough, that is to say they left Grum well enough alone. For the most part the faeries stayed out of his way. They seemed to enjoy hanging around in the higher branches of the trees that they diligently tended. It was, after all, their job to occupy themselves with the wellbeing of the forest. Grum quite enjoyed spending a great many moments puffing on his clay pipe with an acorn shell full of ambrosia in his hand as he watched the comings and goings of the faerie folk. They were an industrious lot, always with something to do.
On this day Grum decided it was time to move on from his habitual sleeping spot and find a new perspective. With the changing of the seasons, Father Sun would move ‘round to favor another part of the forest and Grum did not want to miss out on any of the light. There was nothing like having a “light” snooze, pun intended, to get a gnome going in the morning.
Grum ducked under leaves and padded down paths that snaked strategically across the forest floor. Gnomes may be seen as a lazy lot, but when determined, they get where they want to go. After sauntering for some three hours with a red toadstool (also known as a gnomestool) hoisted over his shoulder, Grum reached his destination . . . a lush bed of grass near the faerie king’s palace. He looked at the palace’s twisting spires and climbing vines. “Bah, faeries,” he said under his breath as he dropped his gnomestool and planted it in the grass. Grum propped himself against the gnomestool, ready to catch a few Z’s, when a young female faerie came fluttering by.
Just how you were meant to tell the males from the females Grum didn’t know. They all looked the same to him; perfect smiley faces, glittering wings, and pointy ears, all jolly and charming and thoroughly unlikable for it.
“Hello Grum,” she said as she landed beside him, “I wondered if you could help me.”
“Hrrmpff,” he replied in his most courteous voice. He knew this faerie. She was quite possibly the peskiest and peppiest of the lot. Her name was Neevya. As far as faeries were concerned, Grum thought she was just about an inch from being intolerable – but then again, she had helped him out of a few doozies. The most embarrassing time was when she had to rub salve over his skin to soothe a nasty rash he had acquired while sleeping in a patch of poisoned ivy. It had been the best night’s rest of his life, but the next day was brutal.
“As you know it is my duty to catch sunbeams so I can pass them on to those less fortunate plants who have grown up in the shade,” the faerie said. “The problem is that I’ve gone and lost my beetle.”
Grum pulled his pipe from his hat and wedged it in the corner of his mouth. “Your beetle? Since when did you start working with beetles?”
“I’m trying something new. They’re very intuitive you see, and they can track down plants in need of sunlight almost as well as any faerie can.”
“The beetles track the dead twigs to eat them. It has nothing to do with being intuitive. You hang around ‘em enough and you’ll see.” Grum puffed on his empty pipe. The faeries wouldn’t allow him to put even the tiniest leaf into it. Not only did the fairies claim smoking was bad for his health, but apparently the plants had rights too. According to them, even the dead leaves disliked being burned outside of ceremony. So all he did was chew the pipe. He supposed it did the job of getting the bad taste out of his mouth that this faerie was currently giving him. He wanted to give her a taste of annoyance and drove his point home. “That’s what beetles eat isn’t it? Dead things and dung?”
Neevya’s shoulders slumped as her enthusiasm seemed to drain away from her.
Grum smiled inwardly, but then his frown returned when Neevya perked back up and said, “Well yes, but I don’t like to think about that. Instead I prefer to focus on the positive. My beetle helps me find the weaker plants and I make them strong. What he does in his own time is up to him.”
Grum liked messing with the faerie, but thought he’d pushed it well enough for one day. As it turned out, he didn’t really like to see sadness in her eyes. “If I see a beetle I’ll tell him you’re looking for him.” He kept the next part to himself: It’s not like there are thousands of the blighters crawling around everywhere. He looked around as if trying to be helpful and said, “I suppose I’ll tell him to meet you at that terrible eye-sore your king insists is a palace. Boy is King Kearoth mistaken…”
Neevya turned to look at the Great Hall. “It’s not all that bad. Imposing, but shows strength. It has a certain elegance I think. There’s a legend that it was a gift from the humans. I’m no so sure I believe in humans. Do you?”
Grum shrugged.
Neevya frowned, “Well, if humans are real, I’m not so sure I’d like to meet them someday.”
“Yeah because mixing with that lot always turns out peachy,” Grum said. Then he eyed her suspiciously. “So you have your eye on the castle do you?”
“On what?” Neevya said, her rainbow colored butterfly-like wings twitching a little nervously.
“The palace. Kearoth better watch his back I reckon.” Grum snorted down his pipe.
“Oh Grum you’re too much sometimes.” The faerie took to the air once more and hovered above him. “If you see a beetle who looks sort of lost, send him my way will you? Now good day.”
And with that the faerie was gone. Grum settled back onto his gnomestool, crossed his hands over his belly, and closed his eyes. Now this was the life.


Join us next Wednesday to find out what Ol’ Grum gets into next!

Ol’ Grum’s Tale -Introduction

old Grum Render 1

The thing every person should know about Gnomes is that above all else, if a gnome does not get enough sleep he gets extremely grumpy.

You might be thinking, “But all the gnomes I’ve seen decorating lawns and stuffed into flowerpots seem to be enjoying various activities. They look so happy digging in the dirt and pushing their wheelbarrows.” Or perhaps a gnome made you smile when you saw one brandishing a small lamp and waving as if to say, “Follow me.”
Well, I’m here to tell you . . . the last thing you should do is follow a gnome down a dark garden path. You’re likely to find yourself lost in the middle of a forest with the small fellow trying to convince you to let him nap in your lap.
As is often the case with gnomes, life is all about sleeping. Through a series of intriguing events and somewhat disturbing discoveries, I learned that if a gnome does not get the required twenty-two hours of sleep within a period of thirty-six hours, he will spontaneously petrify. The process of turning into stone is quick and unexpected, and often you will hear the gnome giggle right before the petrification process is complete. Without appropriate intervention, it takes a gnome at least fifty years to thaw from this frozen state and regain his elasticity. It’s not uncommon to hear a de-petrified gnome say that it was quite pleasant to serve as a garden decoration or to travel the world with a human while in that blissful state of suspension.
Just think, if Granny Jenkins only knew that her beautiful yard was decorated with a host of petrified supernatural creatures, she might have a whole new appreciation for her little lawn buddies. I know my grandmother changed her tune when she found out. She even started polishing the mini-folks daily.
As for me, I began carrying a particularly special gnome with me everywhere I went. I even gave him his very own front row seat to see the world from the cup holder in my car. His perennial expression reminded me of a famous grouchy dwarf, so I figured it was only fitting that I name him Grumpy.
One of my favorite things to do when I got into my car was kiss my finger and place the kiss on his small bent black hat. Then I would say, “Hi there Grumpy. Are you ready for the latest news?” Back then, I wouldn’t wait for an answer. I would start right in telling him about my day as we drove along. And he was a great listener.
Imagine my surprise when one stifling hot day in the desert, Grumpy replied, “Good day to you too. Now turn on that blasted air freezer!”
I looked from side to side, searching for the origin of the voice, thinking I was imagining things, but the voice, fainter this time, came again. “Hello human. What’s the trouble? Can’t you hear an old gnome when he’s speaking to you? You’ve been blabbering on for some weeks now. Your lot can’t seem to help yourselves . . . incessantly rambling on about this or that, but I suppose it’s in your nature. No matter, I think it’s only fair that I get some say-so, so listen close. It’s overly hot in this metal box, and I sure would appreciate some coolin’ off. Seeing as I am presently unable to move, I’d rightly appreciate your clicking on that air freezer.” By the end of his sentence, the voice was like a small whisper in my ear. I pushed the button for the air conditioner and glanced at the small figurine I’d found a year prior.
After a few minutes I heard a sigh followed by, “That’s the toad’s croak. Thanks.”
Feeling quite discombobulated, I asked, “Who are you?”
This time the voice sounded as if it had originated in my head, as if I were answering myself, yet at the same time it felt foreign and invasive. It said one gruff word, “Grum.”
Feeling a bit of a fool even though no one was around, I spoke out loud, “Grum is the name of my garden statue?”
Grum’s words clearly formed in my head, “Who are you calling a garden statue? I went and accidentally got myself petrified ’bout just a year before you found me; blasted forty some odd years to go, and counting. Never mind that. I happen to be one of the most famous gnomes in Faeyelwen . . . and boy do I have a tale for you.”

Grum’s story is a stunning tale of adventure, mystery, and magic. It reveals that life is not always what it seems, and we need to be aware so as not to miss our chance to participate in the unfolding magic and wonder all around us.
So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my friend and travel buddy, Om Grumwort Slinkvold. Grum for short. Sure, he’s a bit grumpy, but his heart’s in the right place.
We will follow his adventures in a place known as Faeyelwen. It is a realm beyond the veils and on the other side of imagination. Faeyelwen is a lush and beautiful land that houses the kingdoms of faeries, elves, trolls, sprites, elementals, dwarves, and creatures I’ve never heard of and for which there is currently no name in the English language. Last but not least, Faeyelwen is the home of gnomes, and Grum, the hero of our tales.


Tune in next Wednesday to read about Grum’s magical experiences in Faeyelwen.

The Revelation of Asphorela -Part 6

After days of preparation, the potion was complete; just in time for the coming of age ceremony that was to take place later that afternoon. Asphorela, Daphne, Heleconius, and ten others stood on a golden platform among the trees opposite the elders. The elders held crystal necklaces that were to be awarded to each of the members of the young order after their spells were successfully completed. To her surprise, Asphorela was not the first novice chosen. Surprised again, she was not even the second. The night went on and Asphorela wondered if it would ever be her turn. She was glad she had not drunk her potion before the ceremony started. It may have had time to wear off and lose its effectiveness. Finally, after a couple of hours, it was Asphorela’s turn. She twisted around so that no one could see her take a gulp from the small vial containing the silver liquid. Then she walked into the center of the ceremonial circle. She noticed Neldoroth, Georgina and Ecthlion cast a glance at one another as she began to raise her hands into the air. Asphorela knew the spell she tried to cast would be difficult, but she felt as if she were prepared. She chanted in the high tongue and made a stirring motion in the air. She could feel energy moving inside her body as well as in the space around her. The forces became so strong that winds picked up, causing her hair to slap and sting her face.

“What are you summoning?” the High Priestess called out.

Asphorela ignored the sister, for today she needed all her concentration . . . and more. Asphorela worked hard to calm the winds and rein them into the circle. If she swayed even an inch, she knew the winds would blow her so far away that she would never be seen again, not to mention the damage to the temple her magic would cause. Just when Asphorela was about to lose all hope of pulling off such a powerful spell, a white cloud began to form in the center of the ceremonial circle. On the surface of that white cloud, the three plotters were shown talking to each other. Next, their voices emitted from the cloudlike movie screen. The details of the dastardly plot were soon revealed to all in attendance.

The malevolent voice of Father Neldoroth boomed, “Yes, the spell will be cast during the coming of age ceremony. The young order will not threaten our authority with their emerging powers ever again. They will all be dead!”

Confusion spread throughout the crowd. Whispers turned into mumbles, and mumbles turned into shouts.

“What’s the meaning of this?” Father Neldoroth said as he stomped toward Asphorela.

The High Priestess, Amaryllis, quickly placed herself between Father Neldoroth and Asphorela. “My thoughts exactly.”

Asphorela stepped back, but maintained the spell.

“This is lunacy! She’s cast a spell of illusion.” Father Neldoroth pointed toward the cloud in the center of the circle on which a picture of the three conspirers flickered. Then he looked past Amaryllis and glared at Asphorela, “I command you to stop this immediately.”

Amaryllis held her hand up. “Silence!” She looked at Asphorela and then back to Father Neldoroth, “We will get to the bottom of this. She eyed her fellow elders before continuing. “I shall cast a spell of anti-illusion. Then we will know who is telling the truth.”

Father Neldoroth’s face turned red. “You would take the word of a novice over me? I am a council member! I have proved my loyalty! I swear, if you perform that spell, you will regret it! I will petition the High Council to remove you from your post.”

The High Priestess looked thoughtfully at Father Neldoroth. Then she raised her hand toward the cloudy screen and chanted the anti-illusion spell in the ancient tongue.

Everyone in the crowd gasped when the cloud turned a bright white and twinkled with tiny pinpoints of light.

Sister Georgina screamed and fell to her knees.

Father Ecthlion pulled his hood over his head and tried to sneak to the edge of the circle.

“Seize them!” the High Priestess ordered.

A great fury of panic spread throughout the circle. Elders, novices, and recently graduated sorceresses and sorcerers scrambled around trying to apprehend the wrongdoers. Sister Georgina was the first to be captured. She didn’t even try to put up a fight.

Father Ecthlion cast a spell to make several members of the crowd look exactly like him. By the time the real Father Ecthlion was captured, over half the crowed was kneeling with their hands bound behind their backs.

Father Neldoroth was the most dangerous of the traitors. The High Priestess took it upon herself to seize him. As Asporela expected, he dueled fiercely. At first, Amaryllis only used her hands to cast spells of protection and incarceration. But Father Neldoroth pulled out all the stops until the High Priestess was forced to take the wand from her pocket. Bursts of fire, smoke, blinding lights, lightning bolts, and foul smelling gasses erupted between them. Asphorela thought it was the most terrifying sight she had ever seen. She wished there was something she could do to help her favorite mentor.

Glancing at the other novices, Asphorela realized that Daphne and Heleconius were missing. Her heart skipped and she let go of her spell. The white cloud deteriorated and she could see clearly the chaos around her.

“Heleconius!” Asphorela’s voice was scratchy and painful from the raw power it had taken to cast the spell of revelation. “Daphne!” She searched and searched until she found her friends. To her horror, she saw Daphne sneaking up behind Father Neldoroth, and then gasped when she realized Heleconius was right behind Daphne. “No!”

Just then, Father Neldoroth turned toward the two girls and chanted a spell.

Reacting out of instinct, Asphorela raised her wand and began to recite a forbidden spell known as, ‘the sleep of death.’

Amaryllis, realizing Asphorela’s intentions, cast a spell of dismissal toward the novice and continued her assault on Father Neldoroth.

Asphorela was knocked off her feet, and she tumbled to the ground. Determined, she picked herself up and began reciting the spell again.

Father Neldoroth gave one last roar–then disappeared into thin air.

Asphorela slowly lowered her wand and pressed her eyebrows into a furl. The sleep of death was supposed to make the victim collapse and die, not disappear. Did she do something wrong? Did her spell misfire?

Amaryllis looked over her shoulder and gave Asphorela a look of sorrow mixed with pity.

Asphorela collapsed to the ground from exhaustion. Had she bitten off more than she could chew? The events played in her head over and over. Then she remembered the priceless expression of surprise and horror on Father Neldoroth’s face right before a troubling thought hit her . . . where was the Blade of Dragoonslayer?



Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the journey! Please feel free to let me know what you thought by leaving your comments below.



Tales from Faeyelwen as told by Ol’ Grum, a grumpy yet heart-warming gnome.

The Revelation of Asphorela -Part 5

Heleconius chanted an unlocking spell under her breath and tip-toed into Father Neldoroth’s room. He lay there sweating on top of the covers of his small, pitiful bed. On the nightstand next to his bed were his wand and an unlit oil lamp. Heleconius crept toward the sleeping man hoping to find a few hairs on his pillowcase. How she hated to think that she might have to pluck a hair from his greasy, sweaty head. To her dismay, Heleconius could not find a single strand on the sheets, his pillow, or even on the floor. Determined to complete her mission, she cloaked herself in a transparency spell, grabbed what she hoped was one hair, and yanked.Father Neldoroth yelled and sat straight up. “What the . . .”

Heleconius quickly stepped out of arms’ reach, silently backing toward the door. She hoped that Father Neldoroth was too tired to sense magic.

Father Neldoroth grabbed his wand and performed an illumination spell. The tip of his wand emitted a bright bluish-white light. He rubbed his head, the place where his hair had been plucked, and examined his fingers as if looking for blood. Then he swept his wand around the room.

“I know you’re here,” His gravely voice sent chills up Heleconius’ spine.

“Reveal yourself,” the old man continued.

Heleconius stood as still as a statue. She even tried not to breathe.

Father Neldoroth flung his legs around so that his feet landed firmly on the floor. Then he snorted and grumbled, “Combustium.”

The oil lamp blazed to life.

Heleconius flinched.

“I gotcha!” He stood and started toward Heleconius.

Heleconius, confused that he could see past her transparency spell, crouched on the floor and fished her wand out of her pocket. She barely had time to point it at the man before he leapt. She closed her eyes, turned her head, and cringed against the wall.

“You’re not getting away from me.” Father Neldoroth roared.

A great crash erupted near her left knee. Heleconius had expected to feel Father Neldoroth grab her, yet she felt nothing. More noises persuaded her to open her eyes and look in the man’s direction.

“Told ya I’d getcha,” Father Neldoroth said with satisfaction.

To her relief, Heleconius watched Father Neldoroth carry a small grey mouse by its tail and place it inside a small wooden box.

“You’ll be a good test subject in tomorrow’s poisonous potions class.”

Heleconius felt sorry for the mouse, because she knew Father Neldoroth often seemed to enjoy torchering his test subjects. She vowed to rescue the mouse along with the few hairs she yanked from the old geezer’s head.

Neldoroth stretched and scratched himself, blew out the oil lamp, and plopped onto the creaky bed.

Heleconius waited in the shadows until she heard muted snores, then grabbed the wooden box that contained the mouse, and crept out of the room.

The next morning, the three girls met in the alcove by the courtyard.

“So, How’d it go?” Asphorela asked her two friends.

Daphne smiled and handed her small stash of hair to Asphorela. “Piece of cake.”

Heleconius reached in her pocket and withdrew the small grey mouse. “I rescued this little fella. He was going to be toasted as a test subject today in Father Neldoroth’s class.”

Daphne clapped, “Oh how sweet. He’s so cute.”

Asphorela wrinkled her eyebrows and studied Heleconius as she waited for an answer, but when it was clear that Heleconius was only interested in playing with the mouse, Asphorela prompted, “Yeah? But what about Neldoroth’s hair?”

Heleconius quickly handed the mouse to Daphne and then fumbled in her pocket. “Oh yes, I apologize. It wasn’t easy, but I got it.”

Asphorela took the hair from Heleconius and ignored Daphne as the girl made cooing sounds at the mouse. Depositing all of the hairs into a small glass vial, Asphorela said, “Great. That should do the trick. Now all I need to do is break into the High Priestess’s tower and brew a potion in her gold plated cauldron. Then it should simmer for three days. Once that’s done, I will put it in a vial and drink it right before my ceremony.”

“Sounds good. What can we do to help?”

Asphorela shrugged, “Umm, well, you could act as my lookouts. Let me know if anyone is coming while I’m in the chamber of the High Priestess and stuff.”

Daphne popped a piece of chewing gum into her mouth and blew a bubble, “You gotta admit. This cloak and dagger stuff is pretty exciting.”

The three girls giggled and continued making plans.


Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the conclusion of Asphorella’s story!

The Revelation of Asphorela -Part 4

Later that day, Daphne found herself studying incantations in the classroom of Sister Georgina. The sister was teaching the class how to properly roll their “R’s” for the most effective invocations. Although Daphne rolled her R’s sufficiently well, she raised her hand.

Sister Georgina walked over to Daphne and asked, “Your pronunciation sounds fine to me. What is it child?”

Daphne signaled for the Sister to come close to her and acted as if she had a secret to tell.

Sister Georgina fell for the ruse. She bent down and lent Daphne her ear.

Daphne leaned forward, cupped her fingers around the sister’s ear, careful to get at least one hair caught in the silver ring she wore around her middle finger. She whispered, “I think my moon time is early upon me.”

Sister Georgina’s eyes grew wide with understanding as she straightened and cleared her throat. Daphne saw no evidence that she even felt it when a few tiny hairs were yanked from her head. “Hmm, hmm. Very well Daphne, you are dismissed for the remainder of this class. Run along and don’t forget your assignment.”

Daphne gathered her things and left the classroom, fingering the tiny hairs that sprouted from her ring.

Asphorela’s task was a bit more challenging than Daphne’s. Father Ecthlion was practically bald, and she was unsure how to get even one of the last remaining hairs from his blindingly shiny head. He was the type of man that had a small ruffle of thin hair encircling his neckline. He also sported a few twigs that he combed over the top of his scalp. Somehow, Asphorela needed to convince him that it was absolutely necessary to part with those last remaining remnants of his youth.

When dinner rolled around, Asphorela had a plan. It was not necessarily a fool proof plan, but a plan nevertheless. With her wand in one hand and a small razor in the other, she approached Father Ecthlion. She had heard Father Ecthlion talking about gardening many times with fellow Sisters and Brothers of the temple, so she assumed he had a keen fondness for the temple gardens.

“Father Ecthlion. I am holding a fundraiser to raise money for the temple gardens. My herbology class would like to add Atractylodes. We would also like to purchase caterpillars to grow Cordyceps.”

Father Ecthlion’s smile seemed sincere, yet he eyed the razor skeptically. “What can I do to help you young lady?”

Asphorela let her cheeks turn red and her shoulders slump as she tried to portray the perfect picture of embarrassment. “Well, you see. Oh no. I can’t. It’s too much to ask.”

Father Ecthlion’s expression appeared genuinely curious when he prodded. “Tell me child. I will help if I can. I’ve hoped we could find a way to gather Cordyceps for years. I will do what I can.” He placed his hand in the small of her back. This was the first time a man, a real man, had touched her in such a delicate area.

Asphorela truly blushed this time. She gathered her wits about her before she explained, “You see, I’ve kinda been making bets. I bet that I could get you to shave your head, and most of the novices have bet against me. I’ve got a lot of money coming to me if I can pull it off. It’s all with good intentions.”

Father Ecthlion gulped.

Asphorela shook her head, “Never mind. I know it was wrong of me. I just couldn’t think of any other way . . . and I love growing new herbs.” She began to walk away and then stopped when she felt Father Ecthlion grasp her elbow.

“Would I have to shave my entire head?”

Asphorela shook her head, “I don’t think so. Not technically. I think just the top would do.”

“Very well. Follow me.”

Asphorela followed Father Ecthlion into a room adjacent to the dining hall. He sat in a chair and instructed her to proceed.

Asphorela smiled triumphantly as she walked out of the dining hall.


If Asphorela thought she had had a difficult time obtaining an elder’s hair, it was nothing compared to the difficulties Heleconius faced. The young novice waited until the moon was high in the sky, and all the creatures of the night were quiet. Heleconius crept carefully into the elders’ quarters, using unlocking and silencing spells to move about the dwelling. When she found the room belonging to Father Neldoroth, the most daunting professor in the temple, she froze. How could she even dare to think she could pull this off? Who did she think she was, Helen the Huntress? She almost talked herself out of the mission, but Daphne’s words echoed in her head, “Do you want to live?”


Part 5 to be released next Wednesday!

The Revelation of Asphorela -Part 3

Days passed without news. Asphorela and her companions struggled to pay attention during classes and other events. During their free time, they couldn’t help speculating about their suspicions. Many of their friends made brazen comments about their newfound closeness. One of Asphorela’s best friends, Carley, acted utterly offended when Asphorela refused to join her for lunch. Carley was so upset that Asphorela questioned whether the girl would summon a sprite after her. Carley’s pouty lips and furrowed eyebrows said it all.  Asphorela felt guilty about not letting her friend in on the secret, which is why she steered clear of the girl, but the last tweaks Daphne had put on the protection spell kept her silent.

After two weeks of exasperated worry and conjecture, the sparrow brought long awaited news. The little bird flapped her wings excitedly. “There are three, there are three, there are three that plot. Father Neldoroth, Sister Georgina and Father Ecthlion are stirring the pot.”

Asphorela’s eyes widened when she heard the names of Father Neldoroth’s two accomplices. Surely the bird was mistaken about Sister Georgina! That old bat was kookier than a gnome hooked on pixiedust. Oh, and Father Ecthlion? He was such a quiet man. His biggest achievement was to stand around with a peaceful expression on his face while looking saintly. The bird repeated her account once more. Asphorela thanked her and gave her a gold trinket. The bird puffed up her chest, clearly proud of herself, and flew away.

Asphorela shared her news with the eagerly awaiting Heleconius and Daphne.

“This runs deep. What a mess. I think we should tell High Priestess Amaryllis. Surely she’s a good one. We can trust her, right?”

Asphorela considered her suggestion. “I’ve spent hours with her and did not see or hear anything suspicious.” She shrugged and asked, “What do you think Heleconius?”

Heleconius seemed to ponder the situation carefully. She rubbed her hands together, paused, and nodded a few times as if she were arguing with herself. Then she straightened her back and said, “I think we can trust her.” She looked at Asphorela, “You’re her apprentice. Do you know where we can find her?”

Asphorela thought about where the priestess might be, and then she groaned, “Oh no. I had forgotten.”

Heleconius looked at her quizzically.

Asphorella muttered to herself, “Not today of all days.”

Daphne suddenly looked anxious and fired a few questions at Asphorela as if she were firing a gun. “What? What is it? What’s wrong?”

Asphorela stomped her foot on one the cobblestones beneath her. “I can’t believe I forgot. Sister Amaryllis went to the temple of Bergamot and won’t be back until the ceremony.”

Heleconius sighed and Daphne started chewing on her fingernails.

Daphne spit one of her torn fingernail tips onto the ground and asked, “What should we do? Who else can we trust? Maybe the birds missed something or someone? How can we really know?”

Heleconius snapped her fingers. “Pipe down, I can’t think properly when you carry on like a pixie on pop rocks.”

Daphne looked indignant and started to argue.

Asphorela watched the two friends banter as an idea blossomed on the outskirts of her mind. What if? Hmm . . .

“I got it!” Asphorela’s voice carried throughout the courtyard and caused the other girls to stop bickering.

A young boy, barely old enough to be called a novice, looked up from reading a spell book. He was seated on a stone bench across the courtyard. Asphorela was sure the boy could not overhear their conversation, but to be safe, she pulled her companions into an alcove around the corner.

“I have an idea.” Asphorela whispered. She quickly explained, “I can reveal the plot to everyone at the ceremony by casting The Spell of Revelation. It’s a gold-grade spell and it even exceeds the level of difficulty set forth by the Ceremonial decrees. It’ll be perfect.”

“Genius!” Heleconius said, “Except for one thing, not even the most accomplished sorceresses is sure to pull that spell off . . . and if you do it wrong, well . . .”

Daphne broke in, “It’s too much risk. There’s got to be another way.”

Asphorela shook her head, “No, it’s the only way. I can do this. Trust me. I studied it with the High Priestess when she was assisting the queen in catching the thief who stole her golden broom. I know how it works.”

Daphne began to protest, “But no novice is powerful enough to pull . . .”

“But nothing,” Heleconius interrupted. “If Asphorela says she can do it, then she can do it. She’s the most powerful novice in our class. Heck, she’s almost as powerful as Merlin.”

Asphorela thought the way Heleconius compared her to Merlin was a bit much, but she appreciated the vote of confidence. “It’s settled then. Now we must gather the items needed for the spell.”

Daphne still looked unsure, but went along with the program. “Ok, what do we need?”

Asphorela found herself annoyed when she realized she was mimicking Daphne by chewing, actually chewing, on her fingertip. She quickly dismissed the nervous gesture and said, “Um, let me think. We need at least one hair from each of the elders involved.” She gestured to Heleconius. “Do you think you can get a hair from Father Neldoroth?”

Heleconius looked doubtful. “How do you expect me to do that? I don’t have any classes with him, and I never see him around the temple. I’d have to sneak into his bedchambers while he’s asleep, and that’s out of the question.”

Daphne blurted out, “Do you want to live? Or would you prefer that Asphorela kill us all?”

Put that way, even Asphorela thought she’d say yes to the task. But just in case Heleconius was trying to back out, she added, “I’d do it, but after hearing Father Neldoroth in the forest, I don’t think I can face him again.” She glanced at Daphne before going on, “and we both know Daphne’s not up for the job.”

Daphne’s eyes grew cold and her brow wrinkled. She started to argue, then thought better of it. Within a couple of seconds, she was agreeing, “Yeah Heleconius. I’m too clumsy. You know that. You’re the only one who can do it.”

Heleconius slumped, resigned to her assignment. “Fine, but if I get caught . . .” She didn’t finish her sentence.

Asphorela waited a beat, then continued, “Daphne, you have Sister Georgina in class later today, right?”

Daphne nodded resolutely.

“Good, you can find a way to get one of her hairs in class, and I . . .” Asphorela paused as a group of novices walked around the corner. When the coast was clear, she continued, “I will get one from Father Ecthlion.”

The three girls split apart, each set on accomplishing her mission.


Tune in next Wednesday for Part 4!

The Revelation of Asphorela -Part 2

When Asphorela exited the forbidden forest of Gatheron, she ran with all her might. She ran away from that horrible scene and toward the place she felt the safest, the Hall of the High Priestess. By the time she reached the edge of the temple grounds, Asphorela’s eyes were swollen with tears. Trees had become blurs of wet and sopping hues, and the temple walls were immense blobs of colors. She was not terribly surprised, then, when she tripped overn someone’s foot and plowed into someone else, knocking them both to the ground. Heleconius, a short novice with a stocky build, rolled to her side before looking at Asphorela with a bewildered expression. “What kind of fool would plow into a girl digging up a ginseng root? I’ve been chasing that bugger all day, don’t ya know? It’s a good thing I had a tight hold on it or else you’d be out here helping me search for it again.” She paused and looked up at Asphorela. Her brow furrowed as her jaw dropped. “What’s the matter with you? Seen a gargoyle or something?”

Asphorela stood up, dusted her clothes, wiped her eyes and blinked. Her fingers held a muddy mixture of tears and dirt, which she knew must certainly be smeared on her face.  She wiped her sleeve across her cheeks and then looked to see who was yelling at her. Her vision was still a bit blurry, “Heleconius? Is that you?” She turned toward the other person and asked, “Daphne?”

Both Heleconius and Daphne grunted at the same time, but Daphne added, “What’s got you so upset Asphorela?”

Asphorela weighed her options carefully. Should she tell them? Might they be in on the dastardly scheme? Her reason swiftly dispelled any thoughts of distrust and convinced her that, like herself, these two novices were also doomed for death should the spell be completed. One last tear spilled down Asphorela’s cheek before her vision cleared up. Then she looked around to make sure no one else was around before she stooped and motioned for her two fellow novices to come closer. The two girls looked at each other, shrugged, and then tentatively stepped forward to form a huddle. Asphorela whispered all she had heard and seen as her eyes darted around wildly.

Daphne, a thin and lanky blonde, stepped back, covered her mouth, and gasped, “It can’t be!”

Heleconius grabbed the girl’s elbow and jerked her back into the huddle. “Quiet sister!”

Daphne yanked her elbow out of Heleconius’ grip. She scowled at the shorter novice before fixing her eyes on Asphorela. Her voice was wispy when she said, “I mean, Father Neldoroth has always been a bit scary, but how could he even consid . . . ?”

The whole situation suddenly hit home again. Asphorela dropped to her knees and buried her face in her hands. “I don’t know! I don’t know! It’s broomstick crazy!”

Heleconius patted Asphorela’s shoulder and bent to one knee. “I don’t believe it. I just don’t believe it. Why, it doesn’t make sense. Why would he want to kill us?”

Daphne used the shoulders of her two friends to lower herself and reform the huddle. “Be quiet! You don’t want the whole temple to know do you?”

Heleconius slapped Daphne on the shoulder, “I was being quiet, you . . . you daughter of frogspawn.”

Daphne’s jaw dropped and her eyebrows became razor sharp, “How dare you! You’re the daughter of frogspawn. No, you’re worse! You’re a slime-spewing, wart-picking humdy-grinch!”

Heleconius started to tackle Daphne, but stopped when Asphorela reached out and yelled, “You two shut the broomstick up!” To her ears, her voice seemed to bounce off the trees and distant walls. She imagined that everyone in the entire temple could hear her.

When they gathered their senses, all three girls searched the surrounding area for possible onlookers.

Heleconius whispered, “I think the coast is clear.”

Daphne agreed.

Asphorela nodded, “This is serious. If we don’t figure this thing out, all our lives are at risk. You know a spell like that could give me the know-how and strenght to slay a hundred of the queen’s most highly trained warriors.”

The color drained out of Daphne’s face. Then she shrugged and cleared her throat. “Are you sure you heard him right? I mean, maybe you misunderstood him.”

Asphorela fixed a hard glare on Daphne, “Of course I heard him right. I’m not an idiot you know. His spell was very clear.”

Heleconius was as serious and as focused as a snake about to strike. “We have to report this. He has to be stopped.”

Asphorela Picked up a twig and jabbed it into the dirt, “We can’t. What if Neldoroth isn’t the only person involved? Who can we trust?”

Meaningful looks passed between the three girls, each afraid to speak her greatest fears: What if all the elders were in on it?

Asphorela felt as if the weight of the world were on her shoulders. She sighed and began to speak, but flinched and yelped when a small bird suddenly landed on her head. She started to swipe it away, but then realized it was her favorite sparrow. She took several deep breaths in an effort to subdue her pounding heart as the bird jumped to her shoulder. Asphorela had relationships with many animals in the enchanted wood, but especially the birds. They often came to speak with her. It was not unusual for people to stare at Asphorela as she walked the halls with several birds perched on her shoulders, her backpack, and even on her head. Her favorite birds were the tiny sparrows who loved to chat. They were always eager to run errands and spread the latest gossip.

The tiny bird chirped and tweeted wildly. Asphorela was grateful that she knew how to communicate with the little creature.

“Asphorela, we hearing, we hearing, we hearing your news on the westward winds! I can, I can, I can spying for you.”

Although Asphorela could communicate with animals, she sometimes had a difficult time figuring out exactly what they were saying. Each animal had a different way of speaking. Some animals sent pictures and thoughts to Asphorela, while others, like this small bird, sang.

Daphne adjusted her apron and wiped her dusty hands on her skirt. She looked up and asked, “What did he say?”

Asphorela corrected, “She said that she heard our conversation and wants to help.”

Daphne shrugged, “How can that tiny bird help us? We don’t need a little birdy tweeting around our heads. We need magic. Real magic!”

Heleconius slapped Daphne on the shoulder, “Show some respect! Are you kidding? That little bird is the perfect little spy.”

An expression of understanding passed over Daphne’s face before it flushed with embarrassment. She looked directly at the bird and said, “Sorry little fella.”

This time Heleconius slapped the back of Daphne’s head instead of her shoulder, “It’s a girl, you imbecile.”

Asphorela shrugged with exasperation, grateful the bird could not understand Daphne or Heleconius. Then Asphorela spoke with the bird by whistling. She was not extremely proficient in bird talk, but she knew enough to get her message across. “Will you, will you, will you spy for us? Find out, find out, find out whom we can trust.”

“We will, we will, we will be spying for you,” the little bird gestured toward her flock and promised before she flew off in the direction of the elders’ quarters.

Heleconius took part of the root she had been digging up and broke a small twig from its side. She drew three circles on the ground after leveling the dirt with a swish of her hand. The circles formed a pyramid-like symbol, their edges barely crossing each other and forming a flower in the center. Then she drew squiggly lines that looped in and out of the circles. “We must cast a spell of protection around us until we can figure out what to do.” Heleconius handed the twig to Asphorela.

“Good idea,” Asphorela took the twig and carved identical symbols into the dirt before handing the twig to Daphne.

Daphne drew the same symbols and one extra. As she drew a series of triangles and crosses, she explained that the additional symbols would keep them from being able to blab about their mission without first clearing it with each other. Once all the symbols had been drawn, the girls joined hands and chanted the spell of protection in unison.


Part 3 to be released next Wednesday!

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