Thursday, September 04, 2008

New Beginning 548

Mary-Fitz stepped out of her room, her knitting bag in its accustomed place over her arm, ready to check on the preparations for the masquerade ball, only to be halted by the sight of the moles, drawn up in ranks before her door, gazing intently at the knitting bag.

She knew what they wanted. Her bag was full of bits and pieces ideally suited to making mole dress-up trappings. But it would take a much harder heart than hers to resist all those pleading beady little eyes. She opened the bag and removed her works in progress and everything irreplaceable. “Knock yourselves out,” she muttered as she tossed the bag to the floor, then watched in bemusement as it disappeared down the hall, borne aloft on a ripple of dark fur.

First she checked on the ballroom that had been opened for the first time in a long while. Cheerful hobbits with soft cloths strapped to the soles of their hairy feet skated about, enjoying their task of polishing the waxed floor to a high gloss. The chandelier had been lowered and shone with repeated applications of elbow grease; and each candelabrum held a brand-new white beeswax taper. Chairs had been arranged around the edge of the floor for the danced-out, interspersed with pots of assorted greenery freshening both the d├ęcor and the atmosphere. (Tal had barely stopped one inexperienced hobbit from trying to repot a Giant Carnivorous Murfling Fern, which would have livened up the proceedings considerably.)

"Umm, if I could stop you right there, Ms. . . . Fitz?"


The agent tried to smile. "Are you related to Tolkien at all?"

"Who, me?" The author's eyes lit up. "Why no! Why do you ask?"

"Hobbits are the property of Tolkien's estate." The agent sighed. "Look, I've taken on the lawyers from Disney. I've taken on Rowling. Even Scientology. But there's no way in hell I'm tackling lawyers from the Tolkien estate. Those sharks will eat us alive. I'm sorry, but I can't represent this."

She nodded slowly and stood to go. All day at this writing conference, and everyone had told her the same thing. Still, she had to try. Tucking her hair behind her delicately pointed ears, she collected her knitting bag and made her way to the next agent available, a lady named Miss Snark. Maybe this time, she thought, I'll be lucky.

Opening: Tal.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

Second, she picked up a basket and went out to check on the prisoner.

Mary-Fitz had drawn the pentagram and double circle across the adorable pink flagstones of the adjoining tea garden. Within the mystic confinement lay Zerbellen the Horrible, affixed to the earth with heavy chains. Already his breath was rasping in his lungs as pixies dressed in flowers flitted about, trimming the hedges and throwing rose petals and cherry blossoms at each other with little squeals of glee. When Mary-Fitz approached he was barely able to lift his great horned head.

"I'll get you," he hissed. "I'll get for this, witch."

"What was that?" Mary-Fitz said sweetly. "You'd like to make some new friends?"

She drew back the cover with a flourish, revealing five stripey kittens. One of them looked over the edge at Zerbellen - and sneezed a tiny little kitten sneeze.

Zerbellen let out a terrible bellow of rage. "NO!" he howled. "IT'S ALL TOO CUTE!"

With a terrible cry and a stink of sulfur, he dissolved before her eyes. In seconds there was nothing remained but a greasy stain and the confused mewling from the basket. Tal stuck his head out from the doors.

"Finally, thank goddess," Mary-Fitz said with a groan of relief. "I was afraid we were going to have to go through with the whole shebang. Let's get the hell out of here before we die of insulin shock."

Tal grunted. "Bring the kittens. I'm hungry."

--Sarah Hawthorne

Dave Fragments said...

I recently made a comment over on Bernita's blog about a Pub I created that supplied nearly endless anecdotes, backstory and color. I have pages of stuff about that pub and its owner.

That's the feeling I get here.

The situation is so cute and adorable. It's interesting and fun, a little breezy, quirky characters, all the elements of a nice story.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Fun stuff, tal. Is this a chapter opening or the beginning of the story?

I love your voice, your characterizations, your moles.

If this is the beginning of a story, I would be confused about tal since Mary-Fitz seemed to be the only 'human'. If it's a chapter opening, there's probably no issue with who the players are.

writtenwyrdd said...

The hobbit reference bothered me when I read the original, but the snippets of this story that I've seen here always make me want to read the whole thing. You've cornered the market on cute with this stuff, but I think that there's a deal too much frippery stuff at times and no real story peeking out. Makes me a bit concerned for the manuscript as a whole; but the snippets are really nicely done.

EB said...

Ditto on the hobbit reference. Do they exist outside of Tolkein? (And please don't tell me they're shackin up with the dust bunnies under my bed.)

Having seen many of these moley openings, I've grown rather fond of the little critters. For some reason this opening reminds me of the Uncle Wiggly stories, which I loved as a kid/ (As WW says, may skew a tad too cute, but that depends on your story.) I think this sets the scene quite well, and I enjoyed it.

I know about ear wax and toe jam, but does elbow grease really make things shine?

Anonymous said...

I ALWAYS enjoy a bit of mole, so of course I would read on. I like the image of the floor-polishing "hobbits" -- is it true that Tolkien's estate "owns" the word? I did stumble at the "irreplaceable" in p2 and paused to wonder why she would sacrifice such.

Lovely continuation, Khazar!


WouldBe said...

I like this a lot. I assumed it was a chapter opening. I wouldn't have resented moles digging in the yard so much if I had known they like to play dress-up, the little knitwits.

--Bill H.

talpianna said...

It's really a sequence opening--several chapters dealing with a masquerade ball.

This is, you may recall, a collaborative story. I don't know who decided that the kitchen staff were hobbits, but I don't think it was me.

Later I found out that ballroom floors were NOT polished because it made them slippery. I had a do-over with hobbits (I think) chalking elaborate designs on the floor, with matching designs on the table on which the moles performed their minuet.

As for cuteness, don't forget that Carnivorous Murfling Fern. And later in the sequence there are a couple of attempted murders and a literal knock-down-and-drag-out fight between Tal and the assassin.

Not to mention the were-panther, the food fight, and Tal's first kiss.

Whirlochre said...

I loved this. All your mole stuff is very vibrant and colourful and this is no exception. I'm with WW, though, that sometimes you get carried away with the business. Also — you might run into trouble with the word 'hobbit'.

Coincidentally, I did encounter my first ever mole this week. It (for I saw no tell-tale organs) was burrowing in a pile of leaf mould, completely oblivious to the gathering crowd. Grown men wrestled each other to the ground for a view, and when it was my turn I was struck by how big it was — and how fluffy. He scooped for a few minutes and then scurried off. Terribly exciting stuff.

Anonymous said...

The Tolkien Estate owns the word Hobbit. All the roleplaying games call them Halflings to avoid lawsuits.

talpianna said...

The critics are right about the excessive amount of set-up. As I recall, there were a couple of other plots going on at the time and this segment was basically placeholding. I'd try posting the scene where all the other females at the Inn (a few of whom are actually human) give Tal a makeover, but I think it's too long to fit.