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Fraggle fic: The Minstrel's Path

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Slackbot, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    Loved it! I like the increasing understanding shown by Brool about the people around him and their different ways of life. I think he realizes that the act of kindness shown to him by Cantus and Murray wasn't just a fluke but something that a lot of other people do on a regular basis, and that helps him realize that he doesn't have to be someone he really isn't. Plus seeing Cantus hold his child is really cute! That child is going to have some nice lullabies sung to them.

    Thanks for sharing!
  2. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Well, I'll say you surprised me with this newborn Fraggle. Twas expecting it to be Cleo, but the birth of a yellow-orangish Fraggle boy to Cantus and Tchia is just as endearing.
    Also smiled at Brio making an instrument fitted for Brool to play.

    Thanks for posting. :jim:
  3. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The reason Brool failed as a warrior is that he simply doesn't have it in him to want to harm others, even if they are from enemy tribes. He broke his leg while fleeing, and when his pursuers saw what had happened they just left him there, figuring that nature would take its course. At the time Brool was determined that if he was going to die he would take one of them with him. (Of course, he wouldn't have been able to.)

    Brool's unlearning a lot now. It's tough, realizing that some of the things that you've taken as basic, unshakable facts of life are terribly wrong. Fortunately he's quite flexible for one of his kind. Mental adaptation is unusual in the subterranean world, where people live in tight little colonies and think other people are weird if their cultures are radically different.

    Cantus is gifted both with musical talent that could be considered magical, and a flexible mind, and furthermore he has the desire to explore and learn. To be a Minstrel, one must have those qualities in some degree, and music may not be the primary qualification. When Cantus tested Mokey, when he set tasks for Gobo and Red, when he challenged Junior Gorg, he didn't test their musical ability, but their inner qualities, and in Gobo's case he taught lessons that Gobo needed to learn right then. It's amazing how Cantus tends to be right where he's needed, innit?

    Of course, at this point in the story Cantus is still being shaped. He's learned the hard way that preaching isn't going to get his point across, not with Fraggles. To quote a famous lowercase-N nanny, "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." An I think that having descendants* will make the future more real to him. He wants to change the world for the better; now he has someone to change the world for.

    Cantus singing LittleUnnamedOrangeFragling a lullaby? That's fan art just waiting to happen, it is.

    I'd considered showing Clio's birth here, but decided against it because her colony is close to Fraggle Rock, and he doesn't go there until later in the story. Maybe we'll revisit that place later.

    * Yes, plural. Eventually very plural. Cantus is a popular guy.
    DrDientes and charlietheowl like this.
  4. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be writing this thing, ain't I?

    *****

    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 16
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    The two Minstrels, Murray and Cantus, walked through the tunnels, playing a meandering tune as they went. Brool carried a guitar, but did not join the music. Compared with the Minstrels, he felt clumsy and talentless. When they were playing, he'd rather listen. And watch; as they approached flowers bloomed and cave creatures emerged from their lairs and shells. It was as if all life in the Rock was their audience.

    It was a warm summer. They had spent several months in one colony, which, according to Murray, was unheard of. But they had had good reasons. Brio, a young Fraggle, showed promise, and Cantus had been instructing her in his unique way. He set strange tasks for her, and somehow she was able to figure out what he was actually after, with occasional help from Murray. It seemed bafflingly mystical to Brool, but, like so many things, it worked whether he understood it or not.

    And, of course, there was Tarin. Cantus's son had been born to a Fraggle in this colony. Cantus was utterly enchanted with the googly-eyed ball of orange fluff. As the Minstrels operated on no timetable but their own instincts, Cantus had not led them elsewhere for a while. But the summer solstice—and the noisy revelry thereof—had passed, and now it was time to move on.

    *

    After some hours Cantus and Murray went into a small tunnel, barely more than a crack. Brool wondered about this; they usually followed the main tunnels. But he knew by now that when they did something unexpected they had their reasons. He found out what that reason was as soon as he came to the end of the short passage. It led to a cozy cave, one with water trickling down one side into a small rock pool, just big enough to drink and fill their canteens from. There was a spot in the center that held ashes from the last campfire. A hole in the ceiling provided ventilation. All that was missing was foliage for Cantus and Murray to graze on. But they had supplies in their packs.

    Cantus and Murray put down their packs and, after drinking from the pool, sat back on the mossy stones. Brool did too. He half expected them to pick to their instruments again, but they did not. The Magic Pipe and Murray's guitar lay on top of their packs, quiet for once. Cantus said to Murray, "Do you remember when we talked about 'sacred' and numinous'?"

    "Yeah. That was a while ago," Murray answered.

    "It was."

    "What about it?"

    "That's what I felt the first time I held Tarin. At that moment, nothing else was real."

    "Not even music?" Murray teased.

    Cantus didn't answer.

    Murray understood how Cantus had felt, he thought, though he had not experienced it himself. "Yeah, that sounds right. I saw the look on your face."

    "It was hard to leave," Cantus said softly. "But I know we will return."

    "'Course we will."

    Brool shook his head without thinking about it. Murray noticed. "What?"

    "Nothing. Just thinking."

    "Thinking of what?" Cantus asked.

    Brool said, "I don't understand. How could you leave?"

    Cantus smiled. "A wise question, for one who does not know the answer. The answer is, with great difficulty."

    "Why leave, then? Even if Tchia isn't your wife?"

    After a startled pause Cantus answered, "Fraggles don't practice marriage. We love each other, we form families, but we do not bind ourselves in that way."

    "I know. I don't understand why, but I know it. But how could you leave your own child behind?"

    Calmly Cantus answered, "He is not mine. If anything, I am his."

    Murray said, "Can I take this?" Cantus nodded. Murray told Brool, "Looks to you like he just abandoned his kid, right?"

    "I didn't say that," Brool said defensively.

    "Sounds like that's what's on your mind, though. I guess that's what it looks like if you don't know Fraggles that well. They're weird. The strangest thing about them is that they aren't possessive. Hard to believe, I know, but they just don't think like that—my food, my cave, my property, my territory." He made a clutching gesture with both hands, as if holding something close, afraid it would be taken away. "They don't make tight families the way most other people do because they don't think my wife, my child. Fraggles don't claim each other. They also don't shut each other out. That baby won't even want for love and attention. Not because he's the kid of a famous, mysterious Minstrel, but because he's a Fraggle. The whole colony is his family."

    Brool shook his head. "I understand what you're saying. I just find it hard to believe."

    Cantus said, "When you first met us, you would not have believed we would aid you. You understand now, don't you?"

    Brool nodded silently.

    Murray said, "This is one of those things that you just have to take on faith until you understand it. When you travel with Cantus, you do a lot of that." The two Minstrels shared a grin.

    Brool said, "I guess I will. I want to. Keep traveling with you, that is."

    With no sign of surprise Cantus said, "Oh?"

    Brool explained, "I like traveling. I want to see different things. If I stopped, I'd always wish I'd gone on. I'd always wonder who's out there. I can pull my weight. I can fight!"

    Cantus brushed that aside. "A Minstrel must be willing to wander, and to listen, and to wonder. A Minstrel must want to unite the Rock with music, and want it enough to dedicate his life to it. He must be tested to know that the path is the right one for him."

    Brool was framing a reply, but Cantus picked up his pipe and began to play. It was a slow tune in a minor key. Murray listened for a few bars, then joined in. After a minute it changed to a major key, and the tempo increased slightly. Cantus looked pointedly at Brool. Brool reached for his guitar, and when Cantus nodded he picked it up and began to play. He was not as good as they were, not by a long shot, but in his time with them he had learned. He had learned that even small touches made a difference. He could play in the background and add flavor to the music, even though his part was barely noticeable. Which was fine. Joining their music, enriching it just a little bit, was a surprisingly powerful pleasure.

    When they finished playing Cantus lowered the pipe, but he did not put it down. "What did you think about that?"

    Brool hesitated. How did you answer a question like that? He said, "Well, it kind of reminded me of earlier today."

    "How so?"

    "Well… it started out not sad, just a little melancholy. Kind of like the look on your face when we left. And then there were bits of the music you played while we were walking in the tunnels."

    "You have listened," Cantus said approvingly. "But what is different?"

    Brool was mystified. He looked at Murray. The Pisca shrugged. Brool said, "I don't know."

    "What is the difference between the tune we played in the tunnels and the one we just finished?"

    Brool thought, they weren't the same tune! There were similarities, leitmotifs and chord progressions and structure and such, but he couldn't point to any one part of the music and say that was different. Except—"In the tunnels, only you and Murray were playing. Just now, I was playing too?"

    Cantus smiled. "Yes! The song is made up of those who make it. It joins people together, as it has joined us."

    Brool said, "I used to wonder what that meant, 'unite the rock with music'. I think I'm starting to see."

    Murray said, "It's something you have to do to believe."

    Brool said, "It doesn't happen to my people."

    "Not at all?" Cantus asked softly.

    "Well, maybe with children," Brool said.

    Cantus nodded. "Now, show us something."

    "Show you…?"

    "With music," Murray said. "Go on, don't be shy. Nobody here but us Minstrels."

    "Oh. Um…" He cast about. He wasn't like Cantus and Murray; he couldn't paint scenes with music. But worse than trying and failing was not trying at all, according to them anyway. He began by playing the first thing that came to mind. It was a children's song, one that set the rhythm for many games.

    Cantus and Murray listened. At first Brool was tense, trying too hard to make it sound perfect. When he relaxed he began to experiment with it a little, letting the tune grow up, taking a wistful turn. After a minute Cantus began playing softly. His melody wove through Brool's music. Murray joined in as well, also adding to the tune without taking control of it.

    When they finished a few minutes later Cantus said, "It is a shame that the children of your people lose that music."

    Brool nodded, then realized what Cantus had said. "You could tell what that was?"

    Murray said. "You told us. Just not with words."

    Cantus said, "You showed us how the children of your people can sing, and how it feels to have that taken away from you."

    "I was thinking about that," Brool admitted. "But I didn't know it would come through in the music."

    "To show, to teach, to learn through music, that is the work of a Minstrel," Cantus told him. "Now you have shown us that you can do it, and, more importantly, you have shown yourself."

    Murray said, "Congrats, you passed."

    Brool said in disbelief, "This was a test? I didn't know!"

    "Would it have helped?" Cantus asked.

    "I thought—I thought there'd be more to it than this."

    "There is," Cantus assured him. "All of life is a test, just as there is no end to the work of making music. If I ever find an end I will be very sorry."

    Brool said, "I—I'd like it, but I'm not as good as you are. Not even close."

    Cantus said, "Music comes from the heart, not the fingers. You have already learned much. You will learn more, and keep on learning as long as you wander with us."

    Brool looked at the two, sitting on the mossy rocks, holding their instruments in their laps, ready either to play again or to relax quietly. At that moment they looked content and happy, as if they had exactly what they wanted in life. He said, "I want to."

    Murray said, "Then welcome aboard, kid."

    *****

    Fraggle Rock, Cantus, Murray, Brio, and Brool are copyright © The Jim Henson Company and are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The overall story is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
  5. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Whooppee! And here I was thinking of posting in smilie form how we needa little update, right this very minute, candles in the window, carols in the spinnet.
    :): Spin-it?
    :o: Just forget it.

    Tarin is Cantus's son. Took his name from Pridain did you? :smirk:

    Brool's unknown test was more of your fanfic goodness magic at work. Giving him a test while he doesn't know it's a test to express how and why he wants to join the minstrels was cleverly done. He's starting to learn and find where he belongs, good for Brool.

    Really liked this piece, hope to read more. *Leaves hot chocolate for Slackbot and other Fragglish critters.
  6. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    I definitely liked how Brool had his test here, and how he showed his feelings about his people and their attitudes through his music. I also liked how Murray and Cantus did their best to explain the Fraggle culture and attitude toward possession to Brool. Thanks for sharing!
  7. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Mmm, hot chocolate. Slurp Ow! Very hot chocolate!

    The Count: I don't know what Pridain is. "Tarin" is actually a coworker's name with a minor spelling change.

    charlietheowl: Sometimes the basic assumptions of your culture are the hardest to explain because they're self-evident truths--to those within the culture. Cantus is very intelligent, but he's not the best at putting into words what he knows. (He prefers to set puzzles for people and make them find the answers for themselves.) Murray's the better talker, plus he has a bit more perspective and can understand why Brool was taken aback by Cantus's willingness to leave Tarin behind. Brool will have to come a little further before he can really understand what was happening, but he will. I wonder if Cantus would be able to gain the same understanding of Brool's culture?

    It seems appropriate to mention one of Niven's Laws here:
    And Cantus is gonna unite 'em all with music or die trying! ;)
  8. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Pridain is the land from the series of books the movie The Black Cauldron from Disney was based on.

    Tarin, a young orphan pig farmer boy, became the main male hero of the series even though there's an actual prince who later joins the group against the forces of the Horned King and Arawn—the spirit of the cauldron itself.

    Enjoy your chocolate, could use some meself. *Leaves to make more simple drinkable cocoa.
  9. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    A magic thing that has a spirit? What a ridiculous notion! (Hides story outline behind back)

    Nope, the name is just a coincidence. Maybe I should go back to basing names on Japanese words. "Ushiwaka"? Nah, a little long for a Fraggle name.
    The Count likes this.
  10. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Wouldn't "Ushi" be a better name for a poison cackler? :coy:
  11. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Why would it?
  12. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Well, as I sort of remember, poison cackler are crablike/scorpionish critters. And this applies if scorpions are part of the arachnid family which I could be mistaken towards...
    "Ushi" as in "ushi-oni" refers to one of two species of Japanese monsters:
    1 An arachnid-bovine hybrid being (think of a bipedaled minotaur with spider shell and spider legs) like Arachnitaur from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy: Wrath of The Spider Queen; or
    2 A bovine-cecaelian hybrid being (upper body of a minotaur and lower body of an octopus) like the Eight-Tailed Beast from Narudo.
    You can go to either franchises' Wiki to search for these creatures, hope this helps explain it better.
  13. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Ah. I was confused because "ushi" means cow, cattle, or ox. ("Ushi-oni" would mean, more or less, "cow demon.") I didn't see what that had to do with scorpion-like Poison Cacklers.
    The Count likes this.
  14. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    So it's name is "cow/ox demon". Then that would make either creature an ox-octopus or ox-spider monster. So Hunghorn from Power Rangers, as an ox monster was the one that got it closest to correct depiction, splitting the spider aspect into Arachnofiend (Tsuchigumo) and the octopus element into Hydro Hog (Umibozu).

    Thanks for clarifying these for me. *Leaves choc chip muffin for Kim.
  15. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Nom nom nom.

    "Ushiwaka" is a character in the video game Okami, the title of which is the neatest bit of Japanese punnery I've ever seen. He's an odd fellow who appears out of nowhere, spouts prophecies, maybe engages in battle, and then is gone again. He's based on the Japanese folklore character Ushiwakamaru. I was thinking of someone who could live up to his pop in the bafflingness department.
  16. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    That actually makes sense. The funniest concept in Japanese monsterdom I've come across is the Yamaoroshi, which is a whirlwind, but was reimagined as a possesed radish or radish grater. Although the source I found it at also says it could be a spiky porcupine demon as well.

    And then there's the Ittan-moman, a strip of flying cloth that wraps itself around humans. Imagine being attacked by a scarf already wrapped around your neck.

    So yeah, Tarin sounds perfect for Cantus's son. :zany:
  17. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    In Japanese mythology, an item that has been in existence for 100 years can come to life as a supernatural being, a 'demon' without the satanic connotations. Demon teapots, umbrellas, fans, and especially dolls. I have no problem believing that kitchen implements or items of clothing could undergo this transformation.

    Speaking of transformations...I have an interesting idea about Cantus's's's's fate, and I'll need to let it set a while before I decide whether it's brilliant or just goofy. No, not a Fraggle Kitsune; he won't live long enough to grow extra tails (100 years, by Shinto tradition).
  18. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Yep, the category for those monsters is "Tsukumegami" (not sure if I got the spelling right).
    There's the Biwa (sandal monster), Chochinobake (lantern), Kasa-obake (umbrella), Kesaron Pasaron (fluff or cotton balls), and other such from Japanese lore.

    :boo: Say, where is the land of the Rising Sun anyway?
    :sleep: I wouldn't know, I don't get up that early.
  19. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Heyyy... if we make puppets out of really durable stuff that won't go toast on us, and wait a century, we'll have real Muppets! OK, they'll be spirit/demon critters, but that's fine, we can start with Uncle Deadly.
  20. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Fright. Or would you prefer to start with a fanged :)?


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