Sparky And The Wheezles

The Glen Meadow Chronicles

NaNoWriMo is Over For 2015

I Finished Strong This Year!

After Thanksgiving I was able to spend some time at the computer and I cranked out the last five thousand words that I needed to finish the NaNoWriMo Challenge for 2015.  This is the eighth year that I have participated and this is the third manuscript that I have worked on.  

Here is an example of the type of writing that takes place during NaNoWriMo, it's not pretty, plenty of grammar and mechanical errors, but the important thing about this type of story crafting is to get the story out of your head and committed to paper or computer memory.

Setting:  Benji Redfern is before the Magistrate Council to press charges against the Mayor of Kumquat Cove for abuses he suffered at the hands of the constabulary, namely, being beaten and his wagon destroyed. Little Sabine, his smallest daughter, his mate Margo and his friends Donner Wheezle are with him. 

The Magistrates council chambers were large and open, but decorated very simply.  There were oil lamps along the walls for light, four rows of stone benches for seating and a single tapestry on the back wall behind the raised platform where the five Magistrates sat.  The Magistrates sat behind a long stone table and each one had a gavel, a large leather-bound book a quill pen and an ink well.  They were dressed in long black robes, but the head Magistrate, a large imposing badger who sat in the middle, had a square hat on his head.  It was the younger Magistrate on the end who spoke as Benji, Margo, Donner and Sabine approached. “You have entered the Hall of the Magistrates for the Apple Cove District.  Do you come in peace?”

Margo held Benji back, “Highest ranking citizen speaks first,  I outrank Donner who outranks Sabine, who outranks you because she is an innocent.  You outrank a peasant because you are now an apprentice, so get that wounded puppy look off your face mister.  Stand tall, speak when spoken to, keep your answers simple.”

Benji meant to argue with her  but she gave him a look that told him he had better pay attention.  Obviously there were rules to their culture that he must have missed out on by not attending apprentice school. “OK, you got it, carry on.”

“Ma’am, is there a problem?  Did you come here to speak to the Magistrate Council or not?” The younger Magistrate looked impatient, the other’s at the table looked bored. “Step forward and proceed.”

“We come in peace, Magistrates.” Margo stepped forward and bowed.

“State the names of those in your party.”  The younger Magistrate took up his quill and dipped it in the inkwell.

Margo stood tall and proceeded, “I am Margolotte Leastweasel Redfern, Engineer of Mines, Journey-level two, parent of Griffin, Rose, Penny, Fritzi, Jan, Elzie and Sabine Leastweasle Redfern. Mate of Benjamin Redfern.”  She took a deep breath and motioned toward Donner, “This is my Friend, Donner Wheezle, Bladesmith, journey-level one, mate of Kitcher Wheezle VonSteuben, apprentice needle-crafter.”  Margo turned toward Sabine and pointed, “This is Sabine Leastweasel Redfern, my youngest offspring from my second litter.  She is unable to speak, so I will answer for her as the need arises.”  She pointed to Benji, “This is Benjamin Redfern, my mate, apprentice Wainwright.” Margo turned back to the Council and stood at attention.

The head Magistrate looked up from his book and spoke next, “Margolotte Leastweasel?  You go by Margo, is that correct?” He smiled and took the spectacles from his nose, “I’m a good friend of your Master and she has spoken of you.  It seems that they are planning to open a new mine and she wants you to take the lead on the project.  Will you be returning to the workforce anytime soon?”

Margo blushed, “Yes, Magistrate.  I spoke to her recently and I told her that I was ready as soon as my first litter has been placed in apprentice training.”

“Very well then, I’m sure your needs will be taken care of then, my dear.”  The old badger put his glasses back on his nose. “Donner Wheezle, I have heard that you are a crafter of long blades, is this true?” He looked over the top of his spectacles and was amused at Donner’s surprised expression, “Don’t be shocked young Wheezle, our community is very well connected and we know a little about most everybody.”

Donner nodded, “Yes Magistrate, I am a Journel Level III crafter of long blades.  I have just recently set up shop in an unused corner of Mr. Maxamillion Redfern.  We are converting one of his forges to make high carbon Damascus steel.”

The head Magistrate smiled, “Not much call these days for such fine bladework, son.  I hope you’ll be doing other less artistic and more utilitarian blades for the general consumer?”

Donner didn’t like this character and thought he was talking down to him because of his youth. “I have already two orders for such blades sir, and once those blades are in service, I anticipate I will be putting the rest of Mr. Redfern’s idle forges to work.” He squared his shoulder, and removed a small dagger from a sheath concealed in the folds of his outer shirt. “May I approach?”

The Head Magistrate looked shocked at such bold talk coming from one so young, “By all means young Wheezle.  But let me remind you that you are approaching the bench of law in the land and to be respectful.”  He shook his ruff as a sign of authority and motioned for Donner to approach.

Donner stepped forward and placed the dagger on the stone table, the blade rang as it touched the stone. “This was my first Damascus blade.  It is crafted from a meteorite that was given to me by my father.  It took me two weeks to fold and twist the steel, another week to shape the blade and another week to finish the pommel, grip and sheath.  This blade is worth half a years worth of provisions for me and my mate.  Shortly after I traded this one’s twin, I received six orders for exact duplicates, although I will be making the blades from more conservative sources of steel, I do not have any more meteroite.  I will be hiring three metal workers next week to assist me.  I will be able to help bring food to the table of four families immediately.  Is that utilitarian enough to please the council?” 

The Head Magistrate picked up the beautiful blade and was mesmerized by the intricate pattern etched into the blade.  He held the dagger by the grip and felt the perfect balance in his paw.  He passed the blade to the other Magistrates, and they showed their admiration of it’s high level of craftwork by whispering to each other and nodding.  The head Magistrate offered the knife back to Donner. “This was your first such blade?  I can only imagine how fine your weapons will become as you progress in your skills.”

Donner sheathed the dagger which made a snick-like sound.  Donner was a bit put off by all this formality and could barely contain himself, his tail bristled and flicked back and forth.  “Begging your pardon for what I’m about to say, but if I err, consider it a folly of my youth.  In apprentice school I was taught by my Master that it was the Masters and Journey-level creatures who had authority over the land and that the Magistrates and Constables answered to them.  Am I correct in my assumption?”

The head Magistrate harrumphed, “Times have changed young Wheezle.  The economy is changing, things are difficult for everybody and crimes against all free creatures have increased.  The Magistrate Councils of many villages have agreed that it is time for them to exercise more control then was originally planned.  Of course the Masters still retain ultimate authority, but the Magistrates have assumed responsibility over the rest of the population.  For their protection of course.”

Donner was about to protest, but Benji took his elbow and held him back.  The head Magistrate pushed his spectacles back up on his nose, cleared his throat and blustered through the formalities, “We will not discuss that here.  Now where were we?  Oh, yes, introductions.”  The Magistrate looked down at Sabine and smiled a toothy grin that would have sent most youngsters her age scurrying for their mother’s skirts. “Child, state your name and the names of your parents for the record.”

Benji looked at Margo and she winked at him, it was obvious to them both that the Magistrate had not heard what Margo had said earlier, that Sabine was incapable of speaking but one word.  Benji’s first thought was that Sabine would do something cute to delight the stuffy old shirts up on the dias.  He was totally unprepared for what Sabine actually did.

In a flash, she escaped Margo’s grasp, pulled Donner’s dagger from it’s sheath and ran as fast as her toddler legs could carry her.  She leaped onto the lap of the Magistrate on the end of the table, then onto the stone table brandishing the dagger like a sword in her tiny paws.  Margo gasped but stopped when she felt Benji’s firm grasp of her arm restraining her.

The Magistrates were dumbstruck as the tiny child stood on the stone table and waved the dagger.  She pointed it at her father then at her mother, then at each of the Magistrates.  She laid the weapon down and with tears in her eyes, she stood before the Head Magistrate, took his face in her paws and looked deep into his eyes.  She let go and moved before him in her slow deliberate way and made signs with her paws that Benji understood plainly.  She repeated the routine to each of the other Magistrate and made different moves and gestures for each one.  At last, she turned, picked up the dagger and clamored off the table.  She offered the dagger back to Donner, then held out her arms to Margo so that she could be picked up.

The head Magistrate was visibly shaken, as were the others on the dias.  He shook his head, smoothed down the hairs of his ruff and gripped the collar of his robe with both paws.  He seemed completely deflated, as if he had seen something that had terrified him and he had no sense of what to do about it.  Finally he addressed Margo, “How did she do that?  I looked into her eyes and felt lost.  Without uttering a word, I understood everything she said as if she had spoken it to my soul.”

Margo held Sabine close and agreed, “She can sense your emotions.  She speaks in gestures, this is her gift.”  She patter Sabine’s head and asked, “Shall I translate for you?”

The head Magistrate had a tear in his eye. “No, Ma’am, I understood perfectly and I see no reason to doubt the words of an innocent, she told me that war is coming.”

The other Magistrates chimed in, “She told me creatures are starving.” 

“Creatures are being tortured.”

“Free creatures are being made into slaves.”

The youngest Magistrate on the far end spoke last, “She said Black Arrow to me.”

There was silence at the mention of the Black Arrow and the Head Magistrate shook his ruff again and tried to get the meeting back on track.  He harrumphed again and looked over at Benji.  Ah…Benji the Greaser.  You grace us with your presence again.  Last time you were before the Magistrate Council, two weeks ago, you were brought up on charges of rabble-rousing.  I see by your physical condition that you are still at it.  What trouble have you been into this week?”

Benji wasn’t going to take the bait and approached the stone table, but kept a comfortable distance. He bowed, which was the custom when speaking to a creature who had a higher status.  He spoke in the customary language of the old court system, “Honorable Magistrates, forgive your humble servant for troubling you with my trivial problems.  You are wise and good and it is obvious to all but the most low and unimportant eyes that your much too busy to be concerned with somebody as meaningless as myself.”  He added that last bit in as a touch of irony, the Hall was empty except his small group. “Still, what may appear as moot and trivial to you, and you would not be mistaken in your judgement, most gracious Magistrates, my troubles are the bane of my poor existence and I beg your mercy in my quest for justice.”

The head Magistrate harrumphed, something it seemed that head Magistrates needed to be able to do a lot of. “Speak plainly Greaser, you don’t have the social standing you need to flatter yourself with your own words.  We speak peasant, you know.”

Benji stood tall and squared his shoulders. “I demand justice for crimes against me.”

The second Magistrate spoke with anger in his voice, “Justice for a peasant?  You are on shaky ground already for attempting to flatter the court, you have no right to demand justice, Greaser.”

Benji nodded but held his ground, “As a peasant, you would be correct, I have no right.  But I do enjoy basic rights as a free creature under the laws as an apprentice.”

The third Magistrate banged his gavel, “This is outrageous, you cannot claim to be an apprentice, it is well known that you abandoned your apprenticeship and took to the life of a peasant peddling your wares in a cart, much to the embarrassment of your Master and your father.”  He banged his gavel again, “You are this close to being taken away and put in the stockade for thirty days for lying to the court!” Bang went the gavel again.
The head Magistrate turned and gave the third Magistrate an evil look before he turned to Benji. “If my esteemed colleague would refrain from making dents in the stone table with his hammer, I think that it would be amusing to hear him out.  Perhaps if we give him a yard of rope, he might hang himself with it.”  He turned to Benji, “By all means, Benjamin Redfern, explain to us how it is that you say you’re an apprentice.  Mind you that your Master, the one you abandoned, was a good friend of mine.”

Benji was delighted, things were going his way at last. “Your honor, under the laws of our community, there is a provision that is granted to a journey-level crafter that allows him or her to apprentice one of their children in the event that they can no longer perform their livelihood.”

The Head Magistrate’s eyebrows went up, “Yes, there is.  Proceed.”

“There are two ways that a son or daughter of a Journey-level crafter may be certified as an apprentice in training, either by a written letter of intent from the father to his Master stating that the father intends to train his son to take over his business.” Benji paused to let the Magistrate Council mull over it was that he had just said.

The second Magistrate scratched his head. “I have never heard of this protocol, are you sure this isn’t a trick?”

The head Magistrate turned and made a ‘hush’ gesture with his paw, “It is extremely rare, it is almost never done.  Proceed Benjamin, you said that there were two ways.  Let’s hear the other way that a son or daughter may be certified as an apprentice candidate.”

Benji looked over at Margo and then over at Donner, “On the sworn statements of two Journey-level crafters who vouch for the apprentice candidate in the absence of a letter.”

The head Magistrate gave a look of disgust. “I see where this is going.  I assume that you do not have a letter of intent from your father to his Master and that your mate and your best friend are here to vouch for you.” He let out his breath in a rasping wheeze.

Margo stepped forward carrying Sabine and stood next to Benji, “I so vouch for Benjamin, his father has indeed taken him into apprenticeship.” She was about to spit nails at the pompous windbags and their prejudice against her beloved mate.

Donner stepped forward on Benji’s other side and swore, “I also vouch for Benjamin, I have seen some of the work he has done with his own paw.”

The head Magistrate raised his eyebrows in resignation. “It seems that once again you have managed to work things out in your favor.  You are very slick, hence your name, Greaser.”

There was a commotion outside and suddenly the back doors of the Hall swung wide and banged open. A large muscular wolverine in iron-workers leathers approached, a small female badger waddled behind him carrying a paper in her paws and struggled to keep up.  The Magistrates stood as one and bowed, Benji, Margo and Donner stepped aside and bowed as the large creature swept past.”Stand up morons!  What is the meaning of this outrage?  I don’t have time to come down here and take you five baffoons to school on these matters!”  He looked over at Benji’s group and barked, “Stand tall citizens, you don’t have to bow to me.  What’s going on here?”

Margo knew the identity of the wolverine immediately by his reputation, he was the Master of Wainwrights and Wheelrights, Maximillian’s Master.  She set Sabine down and watched as the child toddled over to the Wolverine and stared up at him.  Margo stepped forward and spoke, “He have come to the magistrate to make a complaint against the Mayor of Kumquat Cove for the way my mate Benjamin Redfern was treated there.  He was severely beaten, wounded and left for dead.  His cart and all his merchandise was stolen and now we have a debt to pay at Healer’s Hall for his trouble.  The Magistrates have been questioning whether or not Benji, erm, Benjamin here qualifies as an apprentice.  The two of us, Donner Wheezle and me, Margo Redfern have just vouched for Benji that he was taken under his father’s care, Master Hawthorn.”

“I know who you are, Margolotte, your father-in-law speaks highly of you, I’ll take it from here, rest assured that I will make sure everybody is vouched for.” Hawthorn stroked his beard, looked over at Benji and Donner, then gazed down at Sabine who had sat at his feet and was playing with her bunny doll.  He spoke to Benji, “I’m the one who took you to Healer’s Hall.  I’ll cover your debt.  I want you to stay with me for the next month while you heal up.  We can do small forge and leather work sitting down.”  He bent and patted Sabine’s head, “I’ll take care of your family too, until your older pups are placed in training, just leave all that to me.”  

Hawthorn stood and spoke to the magistrates who were still standing at attention. “You five are a mockery!  You sit behind this giant stone table, you only serve your best interests and you think yourselves important.  I never wanted a Magistrate Council!  You are supposed to help the free creatures of this community, not divide them into classes and discriminate against them.”  He waved for his apprentice to step forward, “Tessi, take that letter to Mr. Bluecurl there.  He’s the big ugly one in the middle who couldn’t sew a straight seam if his life depended upon it.”

Tessi waddled up and handed the paper up to the head Magistrate, who leaned over the table to retrieve it.  Hawthorn growled. “There, that should make it official.  Benjamin Redfern is my apprentice now, not that he needs much training, I’ve seen his work on small carts.  I advise that you all come to an understanding that you serve the citizens of this community, not just yourselves.  Every creature in these hills is a free creature and don’t you forget it or you will find yourselves out of a job and you will have to rely on your craft for a living.  And for some of you, that means you had better learn your craft all over again.”  He looked over at Benji, “Now is there something that you want to say to the Magistrate?”

Benji stepped forward and cleared his throat, “Mr. Bluecurl, I demand that the so-called Mayor of Kumquat Cove be brought before this Magistrate Council to answer for his actions and to explain why I was treated so badly in his village.”

The head Magistrate sat down and wrote in his book. “So you are making a formal complaint against the local magistrate of Kumquat Cove, Ferny Whiteblossom?”  He looked up from his book and slid his spectacles up his nose again.

“Ferny Whiteblossom?”  Benji looked puzzled.

“Yes, Mrs. Whiteblossom is the locally appointed magistrate.  Tall jackrabbit, skinny, has one floppy ear.” Mr. Bluecurl cocked his head to one side.

Benji cleared his throat, “No sir, there was no Ferny Whiteblossom who spoke to me, it was a rabbit named Gurian, and he claimed to be the Mayor, not the Magistrate.”

Hawthorn turned to Benji, “Gurian Whiteblossom?”

Benji shrugged his shoulders, “He didn’t say, he was a tall skinny jackrabbit with a sword and an attitude and said his name was Gurian.  He had a goon squad that’s all I know.  I don’t remember much of anything else.”

Hawthorn turned to the Magistrate Council, “Silas, now this is the type of thing you’re supposed to be doing, you send your constables up to Kumquat Cove and bring this Gurian fellow in and get to the bottom of this.  His mother, Ferny is in charge of things up there, not him.  If he has aligned himself with the Black Arrow, then there is going to be a lot of trouble.”

Silas Bluecurl pushed his glasses up his nose again and hesitated. “But the Black Arrow?”

Hawthorn growled, “What of it?  The Black Arrow is a myth.  So some upstart has claimed to be the Black Arrow.  It has happened all the time throughout our history, especially in tough times.  You go up there and get this young ruffian, bring him down and let him answer Benjamin’s complaint.”  He stamped his foot and swung his tail, “Or do I have to get tough?”

Silas stood and bowed, “No Master Hawthorn,  I’ll have Fezzy and his squad of constables make a trip up there today, You’ll see.”

Hawthorn growled again, turned and headed toward the back door to the Magistrate Chambers, “Good.  Send for me and Benjamin when you have him in custody.  I want this resolved by tomorrow.” He turned to Benji and smiled, “Good to see you up and around.   I thought that you weren’t going to make it when I found you.  Carried you myself to Healer’s.  Go home tonight, I’ll send for you in the morning.  Don’t worry about tools or a lot of extra clothing, it all comes with the training.”  He turned to Margo. “My dear, you are prettier then I imagined.  Rest assured that I’ll make an honest citizen out of your mate in no time.”  He took her paw in his and kissed it gently. 

He leaned over to Sabine, “Darling child.  I can tell that nothing scares you, not even a gruff old wolverine.  I hope to see more of you in the near future.” He stuck out his paw to shake hers, but instead, she held up her paws for him to lift her up.  He did so and was given a big hug and kiss by the small child.  She looked deep into his eyes, much to his surprise and made a few jesters.  The big owlverine just nodded and said, “I will see what I can do,”  before she clamored to be let down.  He looked up at Benji and then back down at Sabine, “I’ll guess I will see you then on Sunday when I come to get you Benjamin.” He chuckled deep in his chest, turned and left.  He shouted over his shoulder as he approached the door. “Tomorrow Silas.  Don’t make me wait on this.”  Tessi opened the door for him and he strode through with a flick of his tail.  

The doors to the Magistrate gallery slammed shut with a echoing thud and Margo, Donner and Benji turned to the Magistrates.  Margo spoke, “I am reminded by this episode that you work for us, and that your place is to assist us in keeping our laws.  I have it in mind to complain to my Master of your treatment of us.  The Master of Minecraft is a harsh taskmaster.  I can only imagine what she would say of your conduct.”

Silas nodded. “You are correct Mrs. Redfern.  Missy wouldn’t let me live it down.”

Margo cocked her head, “Missy? Sir?”  It suddenly dawned on her who Silas was and she made the connection.  Misteltoe Bluecurl is your mate?”

Silas shook his head, “I’m afraid it is worse then that, Missy is my younger sister. I’ll don’t live it down much that she is a master and I am not.”

Margo refrained from rubbing it in, though she wanted to after the snotty way he had started their meeting, but she let if go, called Sabine to her, picked her up and turned to Benji. “We need to get you home, you are beginning to look like your medicine is wearing off.”

Benji nodded, “My ankle is killing me, I have to elevate it soon.”  The four of them turned to leave and Donner went to the great doors and opened them for Margo, Benji and Sabine to pass.  

Just as they got outside, the youngest Magistrate called out to them, “Wait.  I want to say something.”

Margo was about to put him in his place, but Benji spoke first, “Go ahead.”

“My name is Christoff Kundersnaufen and I’m newly appointed to the Magistrate Council.  I came from Kumquat Flats over near Flat Iron Butte where I’m the Lore Master and librarian for the entire Apple Cove district. I make my living by trading books and manuscripts and I travel all over the Glen Meadow Watershed in search of important documents from the various villages.”

Benji was wary of Christoff, but didn’t let on. “OK, how can I help you?”

Christoff pulled Benji and Margo aside. “You also travel widely and you have seen a lot of things that may be useful in our cause.”

Benji wasn’t about to commit to any cause, but wanted to hear more. “Cause?  I know nothing of any cause.”

Christoff realized he was being too vague. “What happened to you in Kumquat Cove isn’t just an isolated thing.  There is a lot of it going on all around the district.  You are the first one to come forward and make a formal complaint.  There are many other creatures who feel that the Black Arrow is more then just a myth and that it has some real political power.”

Benji nodded, “So what? Kumquat Cove is a very small and poor village.  Why are the Magistrates worried?”

Christoff sighed, “That’s just it, the Magistrates are very worried, and say that they’re not.  You saw how Silas tried to brush you off.  I would never had suspected them had your little one actually said Black Arrow.” He scratched his ear, “She didn’t say anything to me did she?”

Benji was hobbled over to the cab where Margo was waiting impatiently.  Just before he climbed into the seat he turned to Christoff, “I need to get home.  I’ll be back tomorrow, you can come over and talk to me at Master Hawthorn’s hall, if he’ll allow it.  I don’t think I can do much for you.  I’m certainly not going to be able to help you much in the next month or so until I can get around better.”

Christoff assisted Benji into the cab and nodded, “That’s fair and all I ask, that we at least talk.”

Benji sat, put his swollen ankle up on the dashboard of the cab then held out his paw to Christoff. “I’ll tell Master Hawthorn you will be expected. I’m sure he’ll want to be there.”

Donner came around and shook Christoff’s paw. “I’ll be there too, I want to keep up on things, I don’t like what I’ve seen so far.”

Christoff stood back as the cab driver picked up the staves of his rick and pulled forward.  Christoff waved as the cab moved down the lane and out of view.  When he turned toward the Magistrate Hall, he wasn’t surprised to see that the great hall doors were opened a crack and that there was a flurry of robes visible.  No doubt he was being spied on again.

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