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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: March 1, 2020      Views: 379
Chapters:
 ...26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38... 

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 ABOUT
W.J.DEBI 

Favorite saying by Albert Einstein, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

She is a top ranked author at the #92 position.

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Chapter 34 of the book The Piper
Slippery Approach
"The Piper, part 34" by w.j.debi



Previously
Piper is a young musician whose grandfather has passed away, leaving Piper an orphan to be raised by the music guild where he is an apprentice. After the funeral, Piper returns alone to play his flute at his grandfather's grave, and a Fae appears--a creature considered swift, strong and deadly--and compliments Piper's flute playing. Captain Burkehart comes to the rescue and escorts Piper back to the castle. During the next few weeks the Fae (Redd-Leif Summerstorm) approaches Piper on several occasions and says he has some secrets he needs to share, but each time they are interrupted by a vigilant Captain Burkehart. Meanwhile, Piper continues his musical education under the direction of the popular performer Master Braun, including traveling with a performing troupe. A wolf attack leaves Piper separated from the musicians and in the hands of Redd-Leif Summerstorm who tells Piper he is half-elven and Piper's elven mother (Melodica) is alive and wants to see him. Redd-Leif then leads Piper into the faerie realm.



End of Previous Chapter
"I can't wait to hear what you've been doing the past two weeks, Rupert." Piper gave Crescendo a hopeful look. "Sir?"

The High Mage sighed, "Looks like you won't be able to concentrate anyway so, we might as well call it a day. Besides," Crescendo added before taking his next bite, "my bees could use a rest, not to mention the birds and other creatures."

Rupert gave Piper a questioning look, but Piper just shrugged and reached for the cheese and bread.



Chapter 34
Burkehart took a deep breath and let it out to the count of five. Shifting waves of water and light at the edge of the waterfall made it difficult to distinguish the shape and location of rocks and plants. Finding footing was tricky, demanding complete focus on each movement.

Though nothing was dry, Burkehart tried to anticipate his moves two or three steps ahead, selecting rocks that appeared to poke out of the water and to offer enough space to support at least the ball of his foot. Almost there. Only a couple more rocks to go.

He selected the next rock and stepped forward. His foot slipped just enough to make him struggle for balance. Luckily, he fell forward against the canyon wall and was able to catch himself before he took a tumble. A splash of water hit his face, reminding him how cold the spring runoff was. Burkehart looked over his shoulder at the cascading stream that surged away from the waterfall. If I fall in... He shuddered. If the current didn't get him, the cold would.

Concentrate. Keep going. He took several deep breaths, then crept forward.

When he stepped behind the waterfall and reached a solid place to stand, he paused to orient himself. The sheer power of the water roared in his ears. The dim and flickering light in the cavern revealed little. The entrance to the faerie realm was not as obvious as he had hoped. He cursed. Why couldn't there at least be a shaft of light revealing where to look?

With his gloved hands, he began feeling his way along the nearest wall an inch at a time. Although the rock was uneven and pitted, everything seemed solid. A thick layer of moss lent a fuzzy, velvety slickness to parts of the cavern's wall and floor. I hate the feel of moss.

After a few minutes, a curve in the wall indicated he had reached the back of the cavern. He went a couple of feet farther, satisfied himself that the flooring was level enough, and put down his pack and water-skin. Perhaps, there is a crevice or nook that hides a switch or knob. Burkehart took off his gloves, unbuckled the sword and dagger from his waist, and placed them on top of his pack. As he continued his search, he curled his lip in a snarl. The pitted stone covered in moss felt even more disgusting when he touched it with his bare hands.

Burkehart inched along with his fingers, feeling up and down for an opening or lever. To adjust his weight, he took a step to his left. Suddenly, his foot slipped on the slick rock. With a thump, he landed on his stomach and began sliding downward. Scrambling for something to hold onto, he snatched at rocks and vegetation. Moss soon filled his fingernails as it tore away from the rocks.

Panic brought visions of plunging under the falls and into the cascade at its base. I'm going to drown or, if I do manage to resurface and drag myself to shore, die from exposure from the wet and cold.

A jolt shot through his hand as three fingers locked onto a small outcropping. The strain of holding onto the sharp rock sent pain shooting through his hand and into his arm. It might not hold his weight for long, but it might be enough. He found a foothold for his right foot, tested it to make sure it was secure, and eased some of the weight from his hand. Next, he felt around with his left hand, found a hand hold and eased more weight off his right hand. Then he found support for his left foot. He concentrated on breathing in and out to a steady count and continued to haul himself upward, testing each handhold and foothold before moving to the next.

Several minutes later, coughing and gasping for air, he crawled the final few inches to sit next to the pack he had left at the back of the cave.

Once his breathing returned to normal, he reached for his water-skin. In the flickering light, he noticed his right hand was covered in blood. He was so wet and cold, he hadn't realized it. Upon further examination, he saw the blood oozing from the deep scrapes in his knuckles, and the torn fingernails of his forefinger and middle finger. It was numb now, but when his hand warmed up, it was going to hurt.

With trembling hands, he located some cloth in his knapsack and wrapped each finger individually and then covered his knuckles. His face felt slick from the moist air, sweat and slime. He cleaned off what he could, then reached for his gloves. It took some effort to get his right glove on over the bandages, but he managed it with a grimace and a groan.

Exhaustion, pain and cold threatened to overwhelm him, but he didn't have much time to rest. The other travelers had been about two miles behind the first group. If they were fair folk, he needed to find his way out of here before they arrived, and he wasn't sure how long he'd been in the cavern already.

Still, he needed a minute before he could continue, so he leaned back to rest against the cavern wall. Maybe there's not a switch. Maybe it's a secret password or a charm. Fair folk like such things. But there is nowhere to hide in this cavern so I can watch, and it's too noisy to overhear them even if I could. He cursed and shook his head. After all this, I'm going to have to go back.

It would be nice to punch something, but he hurt too much. Besides, he needed to conserve his energy to climb out of this cavern and back into the forest. He took several deep breaths to steady himself. Better get going.

He turned to get to his knees, and leaned forward to use the cavern wall as a support. What is that? A faint glimmer of light peeked through a crevice. He reached toward it. The stone curved around; warm air teased from behind it. Could it be?

Burkehart dragged himself to his feet and peeked around the stone. His eyes grew wide.

"At last. After all these years, I've finally found it."

Giddy with exhaustion or relief, he wasn't sure which, Burkehart laughed until his sides hurt which, considering his condition, wasn't long. Then he buckled on his sword and dagger, shouldered his pack, picked up his water-skin, and trudged into the dry, level corridor with the daylight shining at the end of it.

~~~~~

Book of the Month contest entry

Recognized

The book continues with The Piper, part 35. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
Cast of Characters
*Piper = A musical apprentice, just turned age 15.
*Rupert = A musical apprentice. Piper's friend, age 14.
*Grand Master Raymond Acker = Head of the music guild. Piper's grandfather. Recently deceased leaving Piper an orphan under the care of the music guild.
*Captain Burkehart = Captain of the Guard at Castle Welf
*Redd-Leif Summerstorm = A Fae
*Master Braun = Troubadour recently promoted to the rank of Master in the music guild at Castle Welf
*Sheba = an enchanted creature in wolf form
*Melodica = an Elven female
*Master Raven = Elf; master hunter
*Lynx = Ten-year-old son of Redd-Leif and Melodica Summerstorm
*Serein = Six-year-old daughter of Redd-Leif and Melodica Summerstorm
*Master Crescendo = Elven High Mage, First Sage of Music and Song

Elementals, also called Fair Folk by humans
*Fae = Oldest of the elemental races. Known as strong, swift and deadly by their enemies. Characterized by white hair and skin that shimmers silver-blue in direct moonlight. Usually taller than humans and muscular.
*Elf = Most numerous of the elementals. Often slightly taller and more slender than humans.
*Pixie = In their normal form they are six inches tall with wings, but they can change size to as large as humans or as small as a faerie.
*Faerie = Vary in height from one to three inches. Wings vary and can appear to be like those of dragonflies or butterflies.

Fair Folk = Name given to faerie races by humans. Refers to elves, Fae, faeries, brownies, sprites, gnomes, dwarfs, etc.

Thank you to jgrace for the use of the artwork "Golden Nostalgia"
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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