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Fraggle Fic: A Wandering Heart

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Slackbot, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I'm a big ol' MST3K fan, but the critter the Minstrels run into isn't a reference. However, if you want to take it as such and consider me clever, Feel free!

    I've been trying to find reference material for the Minstrels, as I'd love to draw the jam. Especially Cantus playing the bongos. I can see him rockin' out on those things. Hey, he's off the clock and doesn't need to act all mysterious and wise, time to get down with his Fraggly self!

    I'm glad that the way I have been writing the characters has been coming across well, to some at least. My main intention, beside simply telling a story, is just to show some things in a realistic light. The actions and characters may be fantastic (as in, based on fantasy) but the underlying emotions are always real.
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  2. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Heh, no, I meant my choice of words "cavé dwellers" as the reference. The accent in pronounciation comes from the beginning when the guys are riffing on the credits. The other quote I famously remember is when they see the name Miles O'Keiffe and ask...
    Tom: How many O'Keiffes are in this movie?
    Joel: Miles O'Keiffe.
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  3. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    *Bump. Update please?
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  4. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    My first official bump. I'm honored!

    More to come soonish. Here's the beginning of the next chapter. Warning: first draft, so the writing is, er, rough.

    ****

    The next morning the Minstrels and their follower packed up their camp, took out their instruments, and continued their trek through the limestone tunnels of Fraggle Rock. At least, Janken assumed it was Fraggle Rock; he had seen no sign that it wasn't. He did not ask; he did not want to pester the Minstrels with trivial questions.

    Janken heard the sounds of activity before they saw their next destination. Many voices, blending into a soft hum of sound; occasional shouts; creaking. It was not at all like the sound of Fraggle Rock. Well, his colony at least.

    The tunnel twisted, and the party emerged into a medium-sized gallery. At first Janken wondered where the Fraggles were. Then he realized that what he took to be brown boulders at first sight were people. Dozens of beetle-like creatures of various shades of brown and gray, moving back and forth across the gallery. Not creatures, he realized with some embarrassment when he realized that many of them were carrying things or moving carts: they were people.
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  5. bazingababe24

    bazingababe24 Member

    Hmmm. Balsam the Minstrel's people?
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  6. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Could very well be. :)
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  7. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Posting in Verdana 'cause I find it easier to read onscreen than Times New Roman...

    *****

    A Wandering Heart
    Part 7: A Different Drummer
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    The next morning the Minstrels and their follower packed up their camp, took out their instruments, and continued their trek through the limestone tunnels of Fraggle Rock. At least, Janken assumed it was still Fraggle Rock; he had seen no sign that they had left it. He did not ask; he didn't want to pester the Minstrels with trivial questions.

    Janken heard the sounds of activity before he saw their next destination. Many voices, blending into a hum; occasional shouts; creaking. It was not at all like the sound of Fraggle Rock. Well, his colony at least.

    The tunnel twisted, and the party emerged into a medium-sized gallery. At first Janken wondered where the Fraggles were. Then he realized that what he had taken at first sight to be brown boulders were alive. Dozens of beetle-like creatures of various shades of brown and gray, all moving back and forth across the gallery. Not creatures, he realized with some embarrassment when he saw that many of them were carrying things or moving carts; they were people. People who looked just like Balsam.

    Several of the beetle-like beings broke away from the formation. "Welcome back, Balsam!"

    "Thanks. It's good to be back."

    "We're still moving. We'll be ready this evening."

    "So will we," Balsam replied as he went off with them.

    At first it seemed weird to Janken that they were treating Balsam as the leader of the Minstrels instead of Cantus. He glanced at Cantus, who was smiling calmly, unperturbed. Janken decided that, since these were Balsam's people, Balsam must speak for them here.

    The minstrels found a flat spot away from the bustle and set their packs down. Cantus told Janken, "We come here when, every other year, they move their colony."

    "They move every other year?"

    "Yes."

    "Why?"

    "Ask them."

    Janken looked at Cantus, who was gazing into the distance. Then he nodded and walked over to the throng.

    As he approached he could see that there were two lines of activity, both going between openings on opposite sides of the gallery. The line closer to him was going from the left to the right, and was empty-handed. On the other side, people were carrying small objects by hand and using carts and other devices to move larger things. They were taking things from one side of the gallery—mentally he named it the Great Hall—to the other.

    A smaller being that was lighter brown and less leathery than most asked Janken, "Are you a new Minstrel?"

    "No," he answered. "I'm just following them now."

    "Where did you come from?"

    Other small beetle people were coming over to him. Children, of course. They must be as curious about him as he was about them. He said, "I came from another Fraggle colony, about a day's walk away."

    "What's a Fraggle?" another one asked.

    Janken could not tell them apart by appearance; they all looked the same to him, but their voices were different. He could not distinguish their genders. He answered, "I'm a Fraggle. So are Cantus and Brio."

    "Who are Cantus and Brio?" that one asked.

    How could they not know who Cantus was? But then, probably many Fraggles didn't know the names of all of the minstrels, particularly the ones they didn't even know the species of. Janken pointed over at the Minstrels and said, "The tall, orange one is Cantus, and the green one with glasses is Brio."

    "Oh."

    That probably didn't mean a lot to them, Janken thought. They were kids, after all. He asked, "What do you call yourselves?"

    The oldest-looking one said, "I'm Sfufth." It pointed to several others in turn. "She's Fyunch. He's Twing. And that's Kinta and Momota and Eddie."

    "I'm Janken. I meant, what do your people call themselves? Like, I'm a Fraggle."

    "Oh. We're Thrumb."

    "Thanks, Sfufth. Would you tell me why you move every other year?"

    All of the children looked startled. Some laughed. One, Janken thought it was Eddie, said, "You don't know?"

    "I've never been here before," he said.

    Twing took him by the wrist and brought him over to the opening in the right side of the gallery. Over the heads of the busy beetle-like people he saw a large construction. It looked like a Doozer construction, he thought, but made of stone. Then he realized that it was carved into the living rock, and furthermore it was old. Flowstone formations had blurred and softened some of the surfaces. Twing said, "The walls are all rock, so we're moving out of there."

    "I see," Janken replied.

    The small being led him to the other entrance. The cave on the other side was just as big, and the far wall was covered in, as far as Janken could tell, an identical pattern, or as close as the rock formations permitted. "See?"

    "I'm sorry, I don't, Janken said.

    The other children giggled. Twing said, "The lichen! It's all gone from the other cave, so we move to where it's growing."

    The whole colony migrated because of lichen? That made no sense. But there had to be a good reason for it, otherwise they wouldn't go to all the effort. "The lichen are important?"

    "Yeah! We eat it."

    One of the adult-sized creatures, who was just coming out of the cave empty-handed, told Janken, "We need the lichen. Without it, we get sick. We don't eat much of it, but still, after two years it's all but gone, so we move to the other side and let it regrow."

    "Oh, I understand now," Janken said. "Thanks. Um, can I help?"

    Though the being's face did not move, it chuckled and said, "You're already helping by keeping the children out from underfoot."
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  8. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Two chapters in one day? Ain't you lucky? Well, OK, not really; this new board won't let me post 2,061 words in one go.

    ****

    Janken spent the rest of the evening answering the children's questions and letting them tell him about themselves. They were as chattery as Fraggle kids, and after an hour he had forgotten that they were members of a different species.

    They were still going strong when a loud drumbeat thrummed through the cave. All the children looked over at the same time. Most of them got up and ran toward the cave they were moving into. In the past few hours the Thrumb had transformed it from a hivelike cavern into a home. Hangings in shades of red and yellow covered many of the holes in the wall; the images on the hangings must identify the occupants, Janken guessed. He noticed as he looked around that the cave walls were covered with fuzzy green lichen. The other cave, he remembered, had been bare and gray.

    Janken watched as the Minstrels assembled by a drum made of a hollowed-out, intricately carved section of a huge log, over which a painted skin had been tightly stretched. One of the Thrumb—Janken guessed that it was Balsam, as he was not with the other minstrels—took up a pair of sticks with padded, weighted ends and began beating on the drum. The sounds boomed through the air and thrummed through the body of every being there.

    The other beetle-like people began beating on smaller drums, clapping their hands, or banging sticks together, adding layers of percussion over the big drum, which Balsam was playing softer now. The beat grew more complex as everyone joined in. Then, on what cue Janken could not tell, the Minstrels began playing.

    Some of the children had gravitated to Janken. Sfufth—Janken could recognize it by voice, though he could not tell them apart except by size—said, "Clap too! Like this!"

    He watched the child. It was clapping in a simple pattern: two quick claps, pause, one hard clap, pause, repeat. What the heck, he thought, and matched that rhythm. The celebration might not have the same meaning to him, but fun is fun. That music was alien and unpredictable, but it was starting to make a kind of sense to him. It fascinated him, drawing him in.

    **

    The music ended on a cue that Janken could not identify, and some of the Thrumb brought out long, planklike platforms bearing food. They set them on short poles protruding from the walls of the cavern, and the people began taking pieces of it. Janken could smell some of the food...and, he realized queasily, it included meat. The children dashed away from Janken, then came back with what looked like sandwiches, if sandwiches were made by rolling bread around the filling. Twing said to him, "You can have some too. Come on, it's good."

    "It smells good," Janken said, "But I can only eat plants."

    A small child whose name Janken had not heard asked, "You can't eat bread?" in a distressed tone of voice.

    Janken smiled. "Bread's made from plants, so it's okay. It's meat I can't eat."

    "Why?"

    "I'm a Fraggle. We only eat plants."

    Sfufth told him, "Some of it's just plants. I'll show you which."

    Still munching on its rolled sandwich, the child led Janken to one of the sideboards and pointed out various things that it judged safe. The choice widened when Janken confirmed that he could also eat cheese. Sfufth showed him how to roll a piece of flat, thin bread into a cone and put food inside, and Janken filled it with thin-sliced vegetables and fruit. Like a salad sandwich, he thought. When he returned to the group the children looked oddly at his dinner. "Is that kind of stuff all you can eat?" Twing asked in a pitying tone.

    "Yes, but I like it," Janken replied, amused. The younger children looked skeptical.

    **

    The children talked with Janken, more enthralled with having an alien in their midst than in what he told them, until their parents came and retrieved them. Then he went back to the Minstrels' camp. All were already in their sleeping bags except for Balsam, who wasn't there. Maybe he was sleeping at home tonight.

    Cantus opened his eyes and asked him, "What have you learned?"

    "They move because they need the lichen that grows on the cave walls, and it runs out after a couple of years."

    "And?"

    "Um, I don't know."

    Cantus sat up and looked straight at Janken. The effect was disconcerting; he was used to seeing Cantus gaze off into the distance when talking to him, as if it was more important to hear people than to see them. Being the focus of his full attention made Janken uncomfortable. "Is there nothing more to learn here?" he asked.

    There could only be one answer to that. "No! I just didn't want to ask a bunch of dumb questions."

    "Such as?"

    Janken lowered his voice. "Why they celebrate moving across the cave. I mean, I see why they do that, it makes sense, but why make a party out of it? It looks like a big pain to me."

    Cantus said, "This is one of their most important festivals. It is as central to their lives as the Festival of the Bells is to yours."

    At first it sounded as if Cantus was going to continue, but that was all he said. Janken said, "I'm sorry, I believe you, there's a reason, I just don't know what it is."

    "It is worth wondering about."

    "Should I ask someone?"

    "You may, but you would not understand the answer, not yet. In time you will, if you listen."

    With that, Cantus lay back down again, leaving Janken frustrated. He wouldn't understood if he asked, but he should listen? Listen to what, then? Was Cantus playing a trick on him? He glanced at Cantus, and answered himself: No, he wouldn't do that. He was kind and wise, not manipulative. He was known for being cryptic, frustratingly so, but what he said always made sense on retrospect. He was laying out a puzzle for Janken because he had a lesson to teach him. All right, he said to himself as he got into his sleeping bag. He'd figure it out.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and all characters except Janken and Reed are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Janken, the various Thrumb children, and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
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  9. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you for the new chapter, even if it had to be broken up. Great fun learning about the Thrumbs. Hopefully more gets posted soon.
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  10. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks. The names are all references to books by one of my two fave authors, except for two, who are folklore characters. I doubt anyone who doesn't have a library (read: lots of bookshelves piled two-deep with paperbacks) like mine would notice 'em, though.

    Next chapter in progress. It'll take place in another heretofore-unvisited colony. And we'll meet a certain green chick.
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  11. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    A Wandering Heart
    Part 8: Relativity
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    The Minstrels and their follower arrived at the next colony in the early afternoon. Times of the day were becoming increasingly vague, as they had been traveling downward for days, and had not seen the sun in some time. The Fraggles in his colony, though they awoke when the Ditzies began to glow and went to sleep when they faded, still used the sky above the Gorgs' well as a reference for the time of day. It was strange to let go of that, to rely only on the Ditzies and his own body to judge the passage of time.

    They were following a stream that flowed through a channel it had cut in the rock. Some of the passages were so narrow the Minstrels had to walk in the water. That was no hardship to a Fraggle, and if the others minded wet legs they didn't say anything. Then the tunnel emerged into a large, open cavern full of Fraggles who had heard the Minstrels coming. Though the Magic Pipe was not loud, its music carried far.

    Janken gazed around, awestruck. The cave was almost white. It wasn't as bright as the T. Matthew Fraggle Room, but the fluted patterns on the walls made it even more beautiful. Part of the ceiling was hung with countless long, thin, crystalline stalactites that looked too fragile to be real. They dripped water into a large, shallow pond that had been created by building up the sides of the stream with rocks and clay and narrowing its exit. It was like underground rain.

    A green Fraggle, her hair plastered to her head by the water, swam to the side of the pond and said, "Welcome back."

    Cantus replied, "It is good to be here."

    "And here is a good place to be," she answered in a similar tone.

    He nodded agreement. The Minstrels went to a spot along one wall of the cave and put down their packs. Usually the Minstrels set up their camp early; they often played until late, and when you are tired you don't want to fumble around with tent poles. However, instead of putting his tent together, Cantus untied his sash, took off his robe, and laid it over his pack. Then he walked to the pond and slid into the water.

    "Catching spiderflies, kid?" Murray asked.

    Janken realized that he was staring. He looked away, embarrassed, and said, "I just...didn't expect that. Um, is this his home?"

    "Nah. He doesn't have a home, not that I've ever seen, and I've been with him years and years. But he has family here."

    "Oh." It was hard to imagine Cantus, the wandering sage and Minstrel, having relatives. But, Janken thought, why not? It's not like he was born of the stone, like the First Fraggles in the Storyteller's legends. And, he thought as he watched him swim, it was kind of nice to see Cantus relax and act like a regular Fraggle for once.

    Brio said, "Are you coming?"

    "If it's okay," Janken replied.

    "It's the friendly thing to do," Murray said. "Water's really important here."

    "Well, okay," Janken said. But, not wanting to appear too eager, he set up his bedding first.

    He waited until the other Minstrels went to the pool. Unlike the Fraggles of Janken's colony, who normally jumped into the water wearing whatever they had on at the time, these removed their clothing to swim. He took off his sweater and left it on his sleeping bag.

    The pond was full of Fraggles talking, floating, swimming, and generally enjoying the cool water. Murray and Brio entered the pond. Brool and Balsam sat on the sides, dangling their feet in the water—Janken guessed that they did not like to swim, and were being polite by paying respect to the custom here—and Reed rode on Brool's shoulder, safely away from the pond. Doozers hated water.

    Janken noticed two women, each holding a newborn baby, standing at the edge of the pool. Cantus saw them too, and swam over. Many of the other Fraggles were looking, so Janken assumed it was okay for him to watch too.

    One of the mothers presented her child to Cantus, who held it gently in wet hands. "She was born twenty-five days ago. Her eyes opened four days ago. I'm going to name her Pila."

    "What are her accomplishments?" Cantus asked in a serious tone.

    The mother replied just as seriously, "Digestion."

    "Very good," Cantus replied, chuckling, and gave the child back to her. The other mother, a thin gray Fraggle, looked nervous. She put her baby, which was noticeably smaller than the first, into Cantus' hands and said, "He was born twelve days ago, so his eyes haven't opened yet."

    The distress was plain in her voice. Calmly Cantus said, "We will name and welcome him tomorrow."

    "Even though he can't see yet?"

    "He can hear, and that's what is important," he told her. "What will his name be?"

    The gray Fraggle looked even more worried. "I don't know."

    "If you don't, who does?"

    After a long, uncomfortable pause she said, "I don't know."

    Cantus told her, "He will have a name, and you must search for it. When you find it, you will name him."

    "How should I search?" she asked barely above a whisper.

    "Search with your son. He will tell you."

    She said, "Thank you," in a defeated tone of voice. She held out her hands, and he returned the newborn to her. Instead of staying near the pond, she retreated from the gallery into one of the caves beyond.

    Janken felt bad for her. Cantus had not been unkind, but Janken knew how frustrating his cryptic statements could be, and he felt sorry for her. He waited a few minutes, until the group has dispersed, then swam to the far end of the pond and climbed out.

    He went to the tunnel he had seen her leave by. Where had she gone from here? He didn't even know her name, so he couldn't call for her. He walked silently, listening.

    Soon he heard another voice. He followed it, and found a grotto lined with smooth stone and decorated by moss and ferns. She was here, humming to her baby with a sad expression on her face. She startled when she saw Janken. He said, "Hiya."

    "Hello. Are you a new Minstrel?" she asked apprehensively.

    "No. I'm just following them around for a while. Um, I'm Janken."

    "I'm Flitch."

    "Hi, Flitch. Um... I just wanted to tell you, don't worry about what Cantus said. Sometimes he sounds weird, but he makes sense in the end."

    In a low voice she said, "I have to name my son tomorrow. I don't have a name for him. I can't find his name until his eyes open."

    "Why not?"

    "How can I name him if I can't see his eyes?"

    Janken paused. How could he answer that? Why would you need to see a baby's eyes to name it? Poncle, his little sister, had been named the day she was born. He asked, "How do babies usually get their names?"

    She stared at him. "Don't you know?"

    "Things are different where I came from."

    "Oh." She looked at her son. "A baby's mother looks into his eyes, and after a while his name comes to her."

    Janken thought about that. It sounded like weird mysticism to him, but different places had different customs. He said, "Cantus said that it's important that he can hear. If you can't look at each other, you can still hear each other."

    "How will that help me find his name?"

    "Well... I don't know your customs, and I don't know Cantus well enough to translate for him, but I think he wants you to listen instead of look. After all, a name's a sound."

    She stared at him. Then she looked at her son again. "A name's a sound..." she whispered, stroking his hair.

    "He said you'd find a name, and he's always right. You'll find it," Janken told her in what he hoped was an encouraging tone.

    She nodded without looking up. "Thank you."

    "It's all right," he said, and left.

    **

    As he returned to the pond, he thought, the more similar a colony was to theirs, the more the differences startled him. Why wait to name a baby until its eyes opened? It was as strange as celebrating moving from one cave to another. These Fraggles swam and played in the water, but it seemed somehow ceremonial to him. Maybe they also swam for pleasure on less important days. He hoped so they did; swimming was too much fun to be saved up for special occasions.

    Most of the Minstrels had returned to their camp, but Cantus and Brio were still enjoying the water. The green Fraggle who had first greeted them was sitting on the side of the pool, her fur half dried. She saw Janken and said, "Did you talk to Flitch?"

    "Yeah. She looked so upset. I just wanted to tell her it'd be okay."

    As he sat down she said, "She's a little nervous. This is her first child, and she's worried about everything. New mothers usually are."

    "Will she be okay?"

    "Yeah. She's good at what she sets her mind to do. But sometimes she has to back up and get a running start, if you know what I mean."

    Janken nodded. "Yeah, I guess I do."

    "I'm Clio. What's your name?"

    "Janken. Nice to meet you. This is the first Fraggle colony I've ever seen beside my own."

    "Is yours like ours?"

    "Well... I don't know yet. We swim, and we gather in a big cave, but we don't have a ceremony for naming babies. I think I'd have to hang around longer to see more of what it's like here."

    "Mmm," she said, and shook her head briskly to fluff out her nearly-dry hair. Janken glanced at her, then stared. She was tall, and had a straight, pointed nose and a somewhat dreamy expression, but that was not uncommon among Fraggles. His own mother fit that description, in fact. But now that she was nearly dry he could see that her fur extended to her neck and limbs rather than only covering her body. And with her hair fluffed out, framing her face—

    She teased, "Am I that fascinating?"

    "No! Uh, I mean, I've only ever seen one other Fraggle who looks like you."

    "Cantus?" He nodded. She smiled. "That's because he's my sire."

    Her what? Her smile widened, and Janken realized how silly he must look, gaping at her. "Um, sorry. I didn't know... Um, I better be quiet."

    She laughed gently. "Some years ago my mother asked Cantus to join her at midsummer. He agreed, and I was born the next spring. Perhaps you do things differently where you live, but among us that's a good way to begin a life."

    "Um, I just hadn't imagined... um." Now he really felt foolish. Why shouldn't Cantus have offspring? Fraggles were very selective about the parents of their children, and those who were respected and loved were asked to become sires. He wouldn't be surprised at all if Cantus had been invited to many Midsummer Rituals. If Janken were female—oh, sheesh, where did that come from? He thought he had his crush under control. After all, Cantus was old enough to be his grandfather, with the wisdom and experience he had earned as a Minstrel and sage, and who was Janken? A random kid with all the musical skill of a rock beetle.

    Shut up, Janken told himself. He was getting stupid. He looked back at Clio. Concerned, she said, "Are you all right? You look upset."

    "Yeah. Um, I'm not, I'm just surprised. Look, I'm going to stop talking now and swim. Can we talk later?"

    "Sure."

    She watched as he slid from the wall into the water over his head, then began swimming underwater. What a funny boy, she thought. He'd be a fine Fraggle when he recovered from adolescence.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and all characters except Janken, Reed, Clio, and Flitch are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Janken, Reed, Clio, Flitch, and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
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  12. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Cleo... Yet another fan-character I like right from their introduction/first appearance. I'm rully liking learning about these other Rock cultures from the different clans the minstrels visit.
    BTW: What exactly are the inspirations for the Thrumb kids?
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  13. TogetherAgain

    TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    Finally got enough of a break (read: insomnia) from the craziness that has been my life lately to read this, and I must say, I very much love it. And if I were not still feeling icky, I would go into more detail than that. But I like seeing Janken traveling around with the Minstrels, and all the other cultures you've created in the Rock. Very much looking forward to reading more!
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  14. bazingababe24

    bazingababe24 Member

    I just cannot get over your creativity. You successfully bring to life an entirely different culture per chapter, and I look forward to each one for that reason. This fic thus far has been an absolute joy to read!

    Clio is an enjoyable character. Due to the context, she’s most likely an adult at this point, I suppose, and her interactions with Janken are adorable. The subplot with Flitch and her baby is a good addition as well. It’s just like Janken to try and comfort her, and his repeating “you can still hear each other” demonstrates that he is learning from this experience. I hope the encounter at this clan continues into the next chapter, so we could possibly see this situation resolved.

    “If Janken were female---” I just had to chuckle at that, because of the knowledge that there are certain people on DeviantArt who would take that imagery and run with it --- and the results would NOT be pretty!:eek:

    Eagerly awaiting the next installment!!
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  15. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I' enjoying writing the other cave cultures. I've got all sorts of factoids in mind about them, and not enough space to use them without it becoming a data dump.

    The inspiration for the Thrumb names: In The Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand, both by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the Motie aliens have a quixotic folklore figure that epitomizes the periodic collapse of their civilization. The spacebound colonies call her Sfufth; the planet's inhabitants call her Crazy Eddie. The Moties have a class called Mediators, which in their language is "Fyunch(click)." "Twing" is an unusual material used in Larry Niven's Ringworld. "Thrumb" is a color mentioned in the same book. Kinta and Momota are short for Kintaro and Momotaro, two popular figures in Japanese folklore.

    Aren't you sorry you asked?

    Thanks much! I'm glad you like what I'm writing. Hope you still like it after the story takes an abrupt left turn. ;) Feel free to provide feedback if the spirit moves ya!
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  16. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Nope, not sorry at all since I'm still in "gathering" mode for my monster roster.
    But that aside... More please?
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  17. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Hmm, I can't edit my previous post to reply to you there. Ah well.

    Thank you, I'm glad the different colonies are coming across well. I've always loved world-building, and creating societies is a part of that.

    Clio is an adult. She's not quite old enough to call Janken "kid," and I don't think she would if she were, as she can sense that Janken doesn't need the teasing from his peers. Like her father, she has a knack for seeing into people's hearts, and considers him worth befriending.

    Yes, the next chapter will take place here, as there are definitely issues to resolve before moving on. Well, before someone moves on, anyhow. Janken is learning, even if he's distracted and frustrated half the time. As for his little wish, heh, let's just say that it's not something he'd choose if a Magic Spiderfly offered it to him, but there's nothing wrong with fantasizing. (I could draw Janken as a female, but he'd look pretty much the same. Fraggles are not diamorphic.)

    Janken [singing]:
    And now I find
    What was always in my mind was in your mind too.
    Who knew? Fantasies come true!
    And now I see
    That what I always dreamed of was meant to be--
    You and me and you, fantasies come true.​

    Oh, gads. He's singing show tunes. I should never have let him listen to my Avenue Q soundtrack.
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  18. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    More coming, but not immediately, as the next chapter's gonna be kind of tricky, and unless I come to my senses it'll even include a song.
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  19. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    A Wandering Heart
    Part 9: Timshel
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    All of the colony's dozens of Fraggles were in the pond. It was fairly full, but there was still an open space at one side. Cantus stood in the center of the open space. At the edge of the pool, facing Cantus, stood the two new mothers holding their babies. The rest of the Minstrels and Janken were either in the pool or sitting on the sides with their feet in the water, depending on whether their kind liked to swim or not. The delicate, crystalline stalactites above the pond dripped water, as if the cave was raining gently on them.

    The mood was a solemn as a Moon Greeting, Janken thought. More solemn, because this only happened once a year. Baby Fraggles were always conceived in midsummer and born early the following spring. Like a Moon Greeting, the ceremony centered on the pool. What did naming babies have to do with water? Then again, Fraggles love water, so why not?

    Cantus raised his hands. Water dripped from his fingertips, rippling the surface of the pool. He said, "Every year the world of stone grows cold and still, and every year it awakens again and gives us its gifts of warmth, of light, and of life. Today we celebrate the new lives this year has brought to us, and to welcome them into our clan." Addressing one of the mothers, he said, "Bring forth your daughter."

    She waded into the pond and stood, waist deep, before Cantus. He asked, "What is your daughter's name?"

    "Her name is Pila."

    Cantus scooped a palmful of water and drizzled it gently over the baby. "Welcome, Pila. Share in our joy, share in our song, share in our lives."

    Pila's mother lowered her into the water for the first time. The baby squawked in surprise at the new sensation. She wiggled around, splashing her mother and Cantus, and laughed. The first mother moved off to the side, holding Pila down in the water since she was enjoying herself so much. Cantus then looked up at Flitch and said, "Bring forth your son."

    Flitch stepped gingerly into the pool, glancing around nervously. When she stood before Cantus she realized that she was holding her son close, as if to protect him from danger. She made herself show the child's face to Cantus. The baby's eyes were still closed.

    "What is your son's name?" Cantus asked.

    "His name is Jarin," she said. It was obvious to all that she had rehearsed that line.

    Cantus dribbled water onto the baby. "Welcome, Jarin. Share in our joy, share in our song, share in our lives."

    Flitch carefully lowered Jarin into the pond. When he touched the water he kicked at it, and thrashed as if trying to escape—but the sounds he made were of pleasure, not of distress.

    Everyone in and around the pond began to sing softly except for Janken, who did not know their song.

    "Come feel the water flow,
    Join the stream that connects our lives,
    Come feel the warm wind blow,
    Breathe it in, breathe the breath of life."

    As they sang they began going up to the two babies, and each greeted the children by name and touched them with wet hands or sprinkled water on them. The babies enjoyed the attention.

    **

    After a while Flitch went over to the side of the pool. Everyone had greeted her son, and she had seen no sign that anyone disapproved of her naming him before his eyes opened. Clio swam over and said to her, "I told you it'd be all right."

    "Yeah," Flitch said, cuddling Jarin. He squirmed in her arms and tried to put his face in the water. That was a habit babies had. It often led to choking fits when they tried to breathe the water. Fortunately, it was rare that any baby made that mistake twice. Softly, hoping nobody would overhear, she said, "I hope his name is right."

    Clio replied, "You gave it to him, and it's his name now. It's right."

    Flitch looked down at him. The name really did sound right to her. She hadn't seen the name in his eyes, like mothers were supposed to, but when she was thinking about names the previous night that one had come to mind, and it had stuck.

    Janken approached them and said to Flitch, "I like his name."

    She glanced up at him, and for a moment he wondered if he had interrupted something. She said, "Thank you."

    He touched the baby with wet fingers, as he had seen other Fraggles do, and said, "Hi, Jaren." The baby, who had had enough attention for the day, did not react. Janken said softly, "When I left home I had a little sister just his size. Her eyes weren't open either. I didn't really miss her until just now."

    Clio asked, "What's her name?"

    "Poncle. She's light brown, with pale yellow hair. Her eyes must be open by now."

    Flitch said, "She was named before her eyes opened too?"

    "Yeah. Actually, we don't have a ceremony like this. When a baby is born, its family just names it."

    "What do you do to welcome them, then?"

    Janken paused, then said, "We don't have a ceremony like for that. Babies are just automatically welcome, I guess."

    Flitch was taken aback. Clio looked thoughtful, then said, "I suppose they are. Who would refuse a baby?"

    **

    After a while the Minstrels began playing. Cantus sat on the edge of the pond, his feet in the water, and raised his Magic Horn so the end would not be underwater. Some Fraggles stayed in the pond, swimming and enjoying themselves, and others got out and joined in on their own musical instruments, or sang along, or danced, or all three.

    Janken had been sitting on the edge of the pool for some time now. Thinking about Poncle had brought on a mild bout of homesickness, but the festivity was helping to alleviate that. He listened to the skirling of the reed flutes these Fraggles favored, and considered getting out his ocarina, then decided against it. He'd rather just listen and watch.

    Mostly he watched Cantus. He admitted to himself that Cantus's age didn't matter; he was strikingly handsome. His fur and hair was the color of flame, and though he moved slowly and with dignity, the music he played was as energetic and joyous as any Fraggle's dance. And his voice was as beautiful as the sound of the Magic Horn. More so, as it came from a living being. He could not imagine Cantus any younger, and did not try. He was perfect exactly as he was.

    **

    The festivities lasted all day. Fraggles came and went, leaving for naps when tired so they could return to the dance with renewed energy; bringing food, and generally celebrating the heck out of the day. By the time the light dimmed the Fraggles were ready to collapse into their beds, or bed down wherever they happened to be.

    Janken had not worn himself out. He lay in his sleeping bag in the dark cavern, listening to the soft chord of the Minstrels' breathing. It was a pleasant sound once you got used to it, and made him hope he didn't snore.

    He wasn't sleepy at all. As quietly as possible he got out of his sleeping bag and left the great cavern. As he passed by the pond he heard the plinking of the everpresent drizzle, and thought that the Minstrels would find music in that. They could find music in anything. While walking through the tunnels, they would pick up on the rhythm of falling water, or the sound of rushing wind, or the chirps and clicks of insects, and turn them into a tune. They did it as casually as a Fraggle would balance a pickle on his nose, and for the same reason: for the fun of it.

    Janken walked into a tunnel and listened. He had his father Wembley's sharp ears, and if there was a Fraggle nearby, he could hear him or her breathing. It was silent. He walked in.

    He was in the mood to be alone. The high of the day-long celebration had worn off, leaving him feeling melancholy and foolish. He was following the Minstrels around, but what for? Why had Cantus invited him? He did not regret coming with them; being in their company was an honor, and he was enjoying the adventure of meeting new people and learning about how they lived, even if only for a day or two at a time.

    And, of course, Cantus. Janken would do anything that Cantus asked of him. Cantus had said that to learn why the Minstrels did what they did, he should see what they saw and hear what they heard. So far he had seen them play parts in the celebrations of two colonies. Both were like nothing he had seen in Fraggle Rock, but the Minstrels did not find them strange at all.

    Maybe if they stayed in one place for a while he might learn about the people well enough to understand them. That was a thought that pulled at Janken with surprising strength. He wanted to know about the other people—Fraggles and otherwise—that lived in this world. They couldn't be so different, he thought, if they laughed and sang and played the same ways, although for different reasons.

    Janken stopped walking and listened. There was still nobody here. This must be a straight tunnel, with none of the side passages and cavelets that made for good living space He walked until he could no longer hear the snores of the Fraggles in the large cavern, then sat down on a mossy boulder. Sure that nobody would hear him, he began to sing softly to himself.

    "You touch my heart each time
    You sing. You guide, I follow.
    I hear your words,
    They fly like birds,
    Away.
    Again—

    I listen and I
    Don't know what I've heard
    I am a flower
    That would wish to be that bird

    Growing in
    A darkened cave,
    Waiting for
    A ray of sun.

    In the darkness and the silence, a lone seed rises blindly,
    In the darkness, blooms for no one, never seeing the sun,
    Ever reaching, ever seeking for its reason for being,
    In the darkness of the sunless, silent, lonely cave."

    Janken closed his eyes and shivered. Most Fraggles sang from the heart at the drop of a hat, but for Janken that was a rare experience, and a draining one. But it was a catharsis, and he'd feel better in the morning, he hoped.

    "I have finally heard you sing."

    Janken startled and his eyes snapped open. Cantus stood in the darkness of the tunnel, one hand touching the cave wall. Janken stammered, "I didn't think anyone was listening."

    "Were you listening?" The Minstrel asked as he approached.

    Janken looked at the ground. "Yes."

    "You guard your heart very closely," Cantus observed. "But to hear the heartbeat of another, you must first hear your own."

    As was so often the case, Janken thought that he halfway understood what Cantus was saying, but he would only fully understand it on retrospect. He said, "Cantus, why did you invite me to travel with you? I'm hardly Minstrel material. I can barely even rhyme."

    "Why do you dwell on what you aren't? What you are, you are. What you are not, you are not."

    "What am I, then?"

    Cantus said softly, "Music is not at the center of your soul. But I see something in your heart that I have seen in the heart of every other Minstrel. It is the reason that we all left our homes to roam the caves, carrying music as our message."

    "What is the reason?" Janken asked pleadingly.

    "You must discover that. I cannot introduce you to yourself."

    Janken sighed. "Please. Just give me a hint. Where should I look?"

    For the second time Cantus's eyes met Janken's. "You must follow your own path. If you are brave enough, you may make a new path. It may lead you anywhere. It may lead you through this world, or out of it. You may travel farther than any Minstrel has. You may do things that no Fraggle has dreamed of. "

    "I could?" Janken whispered.

    "Can you?" Cantus replied evenly. "You tell me."

    His eyes still locked to Cantus', Janken nodded.

    "I thought so." Cantus touched Janken's shoulder briefly, then turned to go back to their camp. Janken sat on the mossy boulder for a little while longer to think.

    **

    That morning the Fraggles of the colony breakfasted on fruits and soft, sweet breads brought into the cavern by various Fraggles. Janken spoke with some of the Fraggles from this cave as they ate. Some of the Minstrels glanced at Janken now and again, but Cantus appeared not to notice.

    When they had almost finished eating Janken returned to the camp. He said, "I'd like to stay here for a while."

    "You would," Cantus acknowledged.

    "Yes. I'd like to learn more about the Fraggles here. I never knew that there were Fraggles that lived differently, and I'd like to, well, get to know them. And... I think I need to stop and think about what I'm doing." He did not say that he was starting to feel overwhelmed by his quest, not to mention his crush on Cantus, and needed to pull back and get a little perspective, but he suspected that Cantus already knew. "Can I stay here for a while, and continue with you the next time you come by here?"

    "Can you?" Cantus asked him.

    Janken answered. "Yes. I think I should. By the time you come by again, I'll know what I'm looking for."

    "Then I look forward to traveling with you again." Cantus told him.

    Janken let out a breath, relieved. The Minstrels began to break down their tents and roll up their bedding. Janken did too. He said quietly, "I've been thinking about what you said."

    "You have."

    "Yeah." He paused again. "Cantus...thanks."

    "You are welcome."

    Janken smiled and picked up his pack. He went over to talk to Clio. Murray watched, then said in a low voice to Cantus, "I thought he'd follow you to the end of the Rock."

    "He has his own path to make. He is beginning to recognize that."

    "Oh," Murray said, nodding. That was as straight an answer as anyone could expect from Cantus.

    **

    The Minstrels put on their packs, raised their instruments, and began playing. The other Fraggles watched as they left. Janken watches as they disappeared around a curve of the tunnel, and wished them well.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and all characters except Janken, Clio, and Flitch are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Janken, Clio, Flitch, and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
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  20. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    A few program notes:

    The dripping "stalactites" above the pond are called soda straws. They are gorgeous, and so fragile that few survive in caves frequented by tourists.

    Janken's song can, by an incredible coincidence, be sung to the tune of "Your Rain (Rage Mix)." Youtube link is below, and if you watch it be prepared to laugh out loud at the visuals in the final verse. The lyrics look a little like Mokey's poetry, don't they?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KngPMbvEKc
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