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Monday, April 8, 2019

Tales of Vinoli Masterpost

All chapters of my on-going serial, Tales of Vinoli, gathered under one roof, for your convenience. Its my hope that you'll find it an enjoyable read.
Please note that some chapters contain material unsuitable for younger readers. Furthermore, keep in mind that this is a work in progress and that as my writing improves, I will go back and update old chapters.
My most sincere thanks for your interest and your attention.

Introduction

Short-story: The Fox and the Dragon

New: Chapter 32

Chapter 1






















Friday, May 18, 2018

Chapter 32

At afternoon the next day, the members of the troupe were gathered at the local tavern. They had just finished eating when one of the members; a female porcine, wearing a feather boa draped over her shoulders, turned to Eramus.

"Eramus, dahling", she said. "When are you going to tell us the reason for calling this meeting?"

"In a moment, my dear Griselda", the faun replied. "We are just waiting for a few more people."

This announcement caused a murmur of surprise among the troupe. After all, they were all here, so who were they waiting for?

The answer came almost immediately, as the door to the tavern opened and three people; a lynx, a cat and a dragon entered the establishment. One of the actors, a fox, leaned forward and said, sotto voce, to the crocodile sitting next to him:

"Say, weren't those three in the audience last evening?"

The croc only grunted and shrugged her shoulders. After all, who hadn't been in the audience last evening?

Having spotted the trio, Eramus waved at them to approach the table. Raising his glass, he then proceeded to call for silence by tapping his knife against it. Immediately, all the actors went quiet and turned to look at their leader.

"Friends", said Eramus. "I would like to introduce you to three new acquaintances of mine. This is Risha, her brother Leorin and Merees. "

Upon being introduced Risha and Merees both curtsied, while Leorin held up his right paw. His sister, however, deemed this too casual an introduction and nudged his side. Leorin shot her an angry look and bowed to the table.

"They are currently guests of Hieronymus'", Eramus continued. "Incidentally, wasn't there another lad with you?"

"Yes", said Risha. "Luke."

"He decided not to come", said Leorin.

"I see."

"Dahling", Griselda asked, turning to Eramus. "What is this all about? and aren't you going to introduce me you your young friends?"

"Where are my manners? Risha, Merees, Leorin, meet Griselda, my trusted right hand without whose assistance, I'd be helplessly adrift."

As he said these words, Eramus gently grabbed one of Griselda's hands and kissed it, causing her eyelashes to flutter coquettishly.

"I apologize for not introducing the rest of you", Eramus said to the other members of the troupe.

"But hopefully we will all have plenty of time to get to know each other better."
Griselda leaned forward.

"Eramus, are you saying that these three are the reason why we are here."

The faun nodded.

"Quite so, my dove. These three fine youths have asked me if we could take them with us when we leave the island. As far as I'm concerned, these three are of course more than welcome aboard, but since we're all in this together, I think we should put it up to a vote."

At this point, the sound of a chair being pushed back could be heard. It was the fox, who stood up  and now was coming over.

"Excuse me", he said to the trio. "I should like to take a look at your hands."

Not really understanding why, Risha, Leorin and Merees held out their paws and claws respectively.  The fox took hold of each limb, turned them over and looked at them carefully, before letting go.

"You come from money" said the fox and did so in a way that made it clear it was a statement, not a question.

"I guess" said Risha, feeling somewhat embarassed for reasons she was unsure of. "We never really thought about it, though."

"You understand" said the fox. "That we can not have idle hands on our ship. If we let you come aboard, it means you will have to work. Are you sure you are willing to do that?" He asked, fixating the three of them with a stern look.

"Of course" said Merees, drawing herself up to her full height. "We will do whatever is required of us. Isn't that right?"

"Right" said Risha and Leorin in unison, though the latter's voice sounded a lot less enthusiastic.

"Well" said the fox and turned to Eramus. "In that case, my vote is in favor of letting them aboard."

"Mine too" said Griselda. "Especially since they are friends of Hieronymus. "Incidentally, how is he?"

"Fine" Eramus replied. "By the way, before we leave, he has invited us all to a party at his place."

This announcement was met with universal approval and once again, Eramus had to resort to the knife-on-glass tactic in order to be heard.

"Now then, shall we get down to business? Who here is in favor of allowing these fine young people access to our vessel? Raise a hand if you are."

Several hands immediately shot up towards the ceiling. Eramus counted them one by one, finding the votes in favor to be in the majority.
Among the few whose hands had not been in the air, was an ocelot who stood out due to having only one ear. His left ear was intact, but only a scar remained where the right ear had once been. Now, this ocelot emptied his mug of beer, used the back of his paw to wipe the foam from his mouth and banged his fist at the table.

"Have you gone insane?" He said. "You are really going to let these three strangers, people we know nothing about, aboard our ship? Not to mention that one of them is a dragon!"

As he spat out these words, the ocelot walked over to where Eramus and the others sat and positioned himself right in front of Merees.

"A dragon" he continued through clenched teeth. "A fucking dragon."
Merees met the ocelot's gaze and shuddered. Never before had she felt such hatred and oddly enough, the fact that the ocelot had to throw his neck back to look at her was not much of a comfort.

"Leave her alone!"

The command came from Risha, who had positioned herself protectively between the two of them.

"What is this creature to you?" The ocelot snarled.

"I love her more than anything in the World" Risha replied, taking a step forward.

"And you think she loves you back?" The ocelot shook his head. "You poor misguided..."

Alas, the next word out of the ocelot's mouth must forever remain a mystery, because just then Risha's knuckles connected with the lower part of his face with such force that it sent him staggering backwards.

Clutching his nose, the ocelot glared at Risha, blood streaming from his nostrils.

"Fucking dragon lover" he growled, voice muffled. "You'll regret this one day."

Having uttered these ominous words, the ocelot stormed out of the tavern, rejecting the assistance offered to him by a compassionate waitress.

"Well" said the fox. "That was quite a turn of events."

"I can't believe you did that?" Leorin exclaimed, looking at his sister with genuine amazement.

"Neither can I" said Merees. "Are you alright?" She wondered, looking at Risha who was massaging her paw.

"I'm fine, that hurt more than I thought it would though. What was up with that guy?" She asked, shaking her head in disbelief.

Eramus let out a sigh.

"I'm afraid the fault is mine, I knew that Isso had bad experiences with dragons in the past. It was a dragon that took his ear."

"Oh" said Merees, gazing towards the door. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"Well" Risha said, crossing her arms huffily. "He shouldn't have said those things about you. About us."

"We didn't know about this" the fox said. "Isso never told us about his past, before he joined the troupe."

"He told me once" Eramus said in a low voice. "Me and Hieronymus."

"Its to bad that your magic cloak is still being repaired" Leorin said. "Otherwise this could have been avoided."

"Perhaps" Merees replied. "Or he would have found out about what I am when we were already at sea and everything would have been worse."

"Maybe we should wait for another ship?" said Risha gloomily.

All of three of them stared down at the table.

"Nonsense!" Said Eramus. "The people have spoken and the majority wanted you to come with us. Don't worry, Isso won't cause any trouble for you while you're aboard. We'll see to that."

Both the fox and Griselda added their agreement.

"By the way" the faun continued, putting his hand on the fox's shoulder. "This is Rufus, another close companion and invaluable member of our family. Rufus, can you look after these three during our voyage?"

"Of course, Eramus."

Eramus clapped his hands together.

"Excellent. Now, I do believe I would like another drink. Anyone care to join me?"

Everyone did, including Leorin who was told by Risha that he too young to consume alcohol. This he thought terribly unfair and made his opinion clear in no uncertain manner. Until his sister with an exasparated look on her face handed him her glass.

"Fine" she said. "I'll let you taste , but I can tell you right now that you are not going to like it."

Leorin glanced down at the dark-red liquid, sniffed it and took a careful sip. Almost immediately his face scrunched up in disgust. Eramus signaled to a nearby serving girl.

"Can we have something for the boy, please? A glass of milk perhaps?"

The requested dairy product arrived promptly. As soon as it was set down on the table, Leorin grabbed the glass and did not put it down until it was empty.

Now, we must bid a temporary farewell to the peaceful haven that is doctor Hieronymus' island and travel north: To Frigonia, where more serious events have occurred. Orgoff have just learned that his nephew, the King, have been taken captive by the enemy.




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Death In the Family



Yesterday evening my parents told me that my Grandfather (that is, my father's father) had passed away. The news did not come as a shock. After all, he was more than 90 years old and had spent the last few days in a coma.

Grandpa lived a long and interesting life. An artist of some renown, before he reached the age of 20, he left Sweden for France and spent most of his life alternating between the two countries. Until, he and my Grandmother (who passed away many years earlier), finally settled down permantly in the southern parts of his native country.

What I admired the most about my Grandfather was his boundless creativity: Whether it was through paintings, sculpting or writing haikus, he was always seeking out new and varied ways to express himself and continued to do so well into his final years. He also encouraged the creative side in others and was always very supportive of my own creative endeavors, be they writings or drawings.

In the end, my Grandfather passed away, after almost a century of living. He died peacefully in his sleep, which I would say is as good a death as one can hope for. He will be missed, by all those of us who had the privilege to know him.

Rest In Peace, Grandfather.

Monday, May 7, 2018

See Venice....





Though I can not recall the exact circumstances, I believe that the first time I heard about Venice was in some sort of children's book which aimed to teach kids about various countries and cities. Anyway, the idea of a city built on water, where people journeyed by boat instead of car in order to reach their destinations, excited my imagination and ever since it has been one of my goals in life to one day see this city with my own eyes.

Well, it took nearly thirty years, but I've finally done it: I have spent the last few days in Venice, along with my folks, having returned home on Sunday. Did the city live up to the image I've had of it? In a word: Yes.

I shall not tire you, Dear Reader, by going into detail about the more touristy-aspects of the journey; the museums we visited and so on. While I enjoyed doing these things, they are of secondary importance. No, more than any other city I've been to, the individual buildings within Venice, though well worth looking at, are not as important as the city as a whole.

Venice is unlike any other city that it has been my pleasure to visit: The omni-presence of the water, the sight of the buildings which seem to have been built on top of it and the lack of any traffic; not even a bicycle, on land, makes it a unique experience.

Navigating within Venice is not easy. Granted, this does not mean much coming from me, since I have the sense of direction of a Marcus Brody, but the city is a veritable maze; turn a corner and you'll soon find yourself lost.

That is part of Venice's charm though, walking its streets and crossing its bridges, gazing at its many palazzi, its easy to see why this magnificent city has excited the imagination of some of the World's greatest storytellers.
As for me, though I have no intention of shuffling off the mortal coil anytime soon, I feel that I can now understand the old saying "See Venice and Die".


Sunday, April 29, 2018

1988-2018

I turned Thirty today.

To be honest, I can't say that I feel much different from when I was Twenty. I like to think that I have become wiser and more mature since than, but who knows? At the same time, it feels rather unreal to realize that I actually have reached this stage in my life: The Roaring Twenties are over and a new age dawns in the life of Yours Truly. How similar or different it will be from the previous one remains to be seen.

The day itself was a good one, I was surrounded by friends and family. There was a good food, good wine and good company and really, what more could one want for one's birthday.

Be seeing you, Dear Reader and if today was your birthday as well, I hope you had a pleasant one.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Chapter 31

While Jeraddin was fighting on the battlefield, seeing friend and foe alike come to a grisly end, his children and their friends were witness to another battle; one  taking place on stage. It was the duel between the hero Selvano and his arch-rival Zarkudo, one of the signature scenes of the play. The actors portraying the two characters took full advantage of their surroundings, climbing the rigging and swinging from the masts with practiced ease to the astonished murmur of the audience. When the play was over, the entire ensemble bowed, as thunderous applause filled the air.

After the play was over, Hieronymus went up to Eramus and started chatting with him. The two old friends were soon deeply engaged in conversation, with the faun telling the platypus about the things that had happened in the World since they had last met, when two of Hieronymus' guests joined them.

"Where are my manners?" The Doctor said, shaking his head as though astonished by this apparent lack of decorum. "Allow me to present Risha and Merees, who are staying with us for the moment. There are also  two boys, but I can't seem to find them, or Amelia anywhere. Perhaps they left the ship.."

He looked around and soon spotted three familiar figures playing on the beach. His mind at ease, the platypus returned to the conversation at hand.
"I have met one of the ladies already, actually" Eramus said with a smile. "Hello, Risha."
"Hello."
Having  exchanged words with Risha, Eramus turned to Merees and bowed.

"Hello to you too, Princess. I must admit that when I noticed you among the spectators, I was surprised. Its been awhile since we had actual royalty in our audience."
"I'm sorry", Merees said, somewhat taken aback by the faun's greeting. "Have we met before?"

"No, but I know from talking to Risha here that you are from Vinoli and since the only dragons living there are part of the royal family, I simply reached the logical conclusion. I did have the honor of performing for your father, some fifty odd years ago, though. Tell me, how is King Sharan?"
A pained look passed over Merees' face.
"He's gone" she said in a low voice.
"I see, you have my condolences. I did not know your father well, but my impression of him was that of a great ruler; one who truly cared for the well-being of his subjects."
"He was."

At this point, Eramus decided to steer the conversation onto a different direction.
"So, tell me, what did you think of the play?" He asked. Being an artist, he was naturally eager to hear what others thought about his work.

"I thought it was great", Risha said, her eyes shining with unbridled enthusiasm. "It was even better seeing it performed by real actors than just reading it."
"Thank you, that is very kind of you to say. And what about you, Your Highness?"

"Please", Merees said, holding up one of her claws. "There's really no need for titles. Just call me by first name, everyone else does."

Eramus looked at he was contemplating this proposition for awhile, then nodded.
"Very well. So, Princess Merees what did you think about the play?"
"Well, I've seen it before, but I must say that this was easily the best performance of it I've seen. Of course, I'd be lying if I said that the company didn't play a huge part in my enjoyment."
As she said that, the dragoness glanced tenderly at Risha, causing the other girl's cheeks to turn red.

"Ah, young love", said the faun, clasping his hands together. "I remember the first time I felt that way. His name was Marsala, he was a poet. We used to lie in bed together and he would recite his work for me, or make up new poems on the spot."

Here, the old actor got a wistful look in his face and he gazed up at the sky.

"That's so romantic", Risha sighed. "How come you don't improvise poems for me?" She asked her girl-friend, teasingly.
"I could ask you the same thing", Merees retorted. "Anyway, you don't want to hear me try to compose verse, trust me."
"How long are you staying this time?" Hieronymus asked.
"Oh, a week or so. The troupe has earned a bit of relaxation and what better place to relax on than this island?"
"Where will you go next?"

"To Tiraliros, its been awhile since we were there and the people who run that country has an appreciation for the finer arts."

Upon hearing this, Risha and Merees exchanged looks. Both of them having had the same idea.

"Say, Master Eramus..." The older of the two began.
"Just, Eramus, if you please. After all, there's no need for titles between us", the faun said with a wink of his eye.
"Eramus, would you consider to take on a few passengers on your ship?"

"What's this?" Hieronymus said, raising an eyebrow. "Are you planning on leaving us already?"
The lynx and the dragon looked at their host.
"Doctor", Risha said. "We are very grateful for everything that you and Amelia have done for us, but..."
"I understand perfectly", replied Hieronymus. "Just know that you're always welcome back here."

"To answer your question", Eramus said. "I would have to introduce you to the troupe and get their approval. After all, I am the leader, but that does not mean I make all the decision without consulting the others. As far as I'm concerned though, you're welcome aboard."

"Splendid", said Hieronymus, slapping his flippers together. "And I just got an idea: Why don't we throw a farewell party before you all leave?"

Everyone agreed that that sounded like an excellent idea. Of course, there was still the matter of telling Leorin and Luke about all this and so, Risha and Merees excused themselves and headed to the beach. Hieronymus and Eramus looked at them.

"You do realize that there's one member of the troupe that will be wildly opposed to this, don't you?" The Platypus asked.

Eramus gaze wandered over to a part of the ship where three of the actors were amusing themselves playing dice.
"I know who you mean", he sighed. "Still, as long as the others are for it, he'll just have to accept it."


Friday, April 20, 2018

Edge of Darkness

I came down with a bit of a sickness recently. It doesnt' happen to me often, in fact, its been several years since the last time I was sick. Anyway, during my convalescence, I took the opportunity to revisist a show I hadn't seen in a long time: Edge of Darkness.
For those of you not in the know, Edge of Darkness is a 1985 British mini-series written by Troy Kennedy Martin and directed by Martin Cambpell. It tells the story of Ronald "Ronnie" Craven, a policeman whose daughter Emma is gunned down right in front of him. As Craven tries to find out the truth about Emma's death, he soon finds himself caught up in a murky conspiracy, that stretches to the highest levels of the British government. A conspiracy which has something to do with the nuclear storage facility in Northmoor. A facility that a group of activists, among them Craven's daughter, broke into.


I won't go into further details regarding the plot, since doing so would risk giving away too much and Edge of Darkness is one of those shows that a first-time viewer is better knowing as little about as possible. Suffice to say that the writing for this show is truly excellent; the British have always had a knack for these type of intelligent conspiracy thrillers and Edge of Darkness may well be the gold standard of the genre. Its plot grows steadily more complex and involving as it progresses and the characterization is top-notch, with even the minor characters coming of as memorable and believable and being well-portrayed by their actors. Mention in particular must go to the Bob Peck, who gives a touching and very intense portrayal of Ronald Craven  and Joe Don Baker, who absolutely steals the show as Darius Jedburgh; the shady, but immensely likable  CIA agent, who becomes Craven's closest ally during the course of the series.



One particular interesting part of Edge of Darkness is the ambiguously supernatural aspect that permeates the plot. Emma Craven, though she dies in the first episode remains as a ghostly presence and the show leaves it open as to whether she's a real ghost or merely a hallucination of her father's. In the end, The viewer is left to decide for themselves which interpretation is the correct one.


Since it first aired, Edge of Darkness has been highly regarded and its easy to see why. Its a true masterpiece, one that deserves to stand among the very best works that the medium has to offer.