The episode The Lost Treasure of the Fraggles begs a lot of questions. Here's my answer to at least one of them. Also, I like Cantus and Murray. ***** A Fisher of Fragglesby Kim McFarland ***** Murray the Minstrel was all eyes and ears as he peered into the large, open space. It was something like an enormous cavern, but not very. The light came from a single source on the ground, a nook with a fire burning low within. It threw long, shaky, strange shadows across the floor. The walls were flat and made of cut rock mortared together instead of living stone. The floor was unnaturally even. The sounds here were different too. The snap and sizzle of the fire, the distant sounds of the surface creatures outside, and, of course, the snoring of this dwelling's huge inhabitants. Murray paid close attention to that. If the sound remained the same, Cantus and he were safe. If it changed, they were in danger. He looked up. There was a bit of orange moving against the dull stone and faded cloth. Cantus was climbing up one of the walls to a shelf that, though high, was nowhere near the ceiling. Instead of his usual pack, which he had left behind with Murray, he carried a flat wooden box strapped to his back. Murray knew it was not that heavy, as he had carried it himself much of the way, but climbing with it couldn't be fun. Its weight came from the metal within the box. Uncounted days ago a colony of Doozers had created the device for him. When closed, it appeared to be an ordinary box, although the image on the lid marked it as a Fraggle artifact. But when you opened it up... Nobody had opened it yet. Not really. Cantus had reached the shelf and was moving a loose stone from its place. Murray couldn't see from his low angle, but he knew what Cantus was doing: hiding the box behind the stone. He always hid the box in a dangerous area, but one that could be navigated by clever, alert Fraggles. Now Cantus was climbing back down without the box. Murray sat down cross-legged and unrolled a map in front of himself. The image was vague, certainly not clear enough to serve as a guide. It was the directions that would lead someone to the box, provided anyone found it and was willing to take the risk. As ever, Cantus hid the box, and Murray wrote down the path to it in terms of steps and landmarks. When Cantus approached Murray had finished the last few lines and was fanning the wet ink with a dried leaf that had blown in from outside. After a few minutes Murray rolled the map up again, and Cantus shrugged on his backpack. Cantus had not tried to read the map; his near vision was not as sharp as it once was. He carried his songs and lore in his head; only on those rare occasions when he needed to set something down on paper for someone else did he call on Murray as a scribe. The two Fraggles crept out the door, which was half open to let in the night breeze, and crossed the garden to the safety of the underground tunnels. Only when there was rock all around them did Murray speak. "You really know how to pick 'em." Cantus replied, "If it was easy, it would be meaningless." "Right, right..." ** The two Minstrels backtracked to a cobwebby cave near the local Fraggle colony. For many turns of the seasons the Minstrels had been exploring the caves, finding new colonies and playing their music for those who would listen. This colony was the latest one. Whenever they found a new Fraggle colony Cantus would hide the sound box and place a map to it where the Fraggles could find it. Later he would come back and see what, if anything, had happened. As Cantus set the map atop a stone formation in the center of the most open part of the cave Murray said, "You really think they'll find it here?" "They will if they are interested enough in the world to explore beyond the safety of their nest," Cantus replied. Most of the time, the map went untouched. Fraggles liked safety. A few times the map had been found. Only once had Fraggles followed it to the box. That one time they had opened it, but had left it in its hiding place, probably disappointed to find machinery within. Murray asked, "What'll you do if they take the box?" "If they listen to it, then they may keep it." Murray knew that asking Cantus questions was useless if the elder Minstrel did not want to give a direct answer, but he tried anyway. "There's more to it than that." "More and less. It only appears to be complex because it is so simple." "Yeah," Murray said, and gave up on that line of questioning. Cantus often puzzled him, but on retrospect most of what he did made sense. And, what the heck, Murray and believed in him and, furthermore, liked him. Maybe this colony would be the one. Then he'd find out what happened next. Cantus had not explained to anybody the purpose behind the box, not even the Doozers who had manufactured it. Every Fraggle colony he had found had a legend of a lost treasure. That was foolish; the greatest gift that Fraggles had was that which they gave and accepted freely: their song. In song, Fraggles gave voice to their hearts, sharing of themselves in a way that words alone could not convey. There were many colonies of many species living in the caves. Cantus and his minstrels could carry music from one to the next, but they could not truly unite the inhabitants of the Rock. The inhabitants must step outside themselves, leave their safe little nests and see the larger world. They must come to understand that there were many people that seemed different from themselves, but at the core they were more alike than not. They must join the larger song. Cantus had hope for this colony. They lived with both Doozers and Gorgs, so they had some concept of different races. If they were brave enough to find the box and wise enough to recognize the value of the music within, he would have found what he was looking for at long last. ***** Fraggle Rock and all characters are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The overall story is copyright © Kim McFarland (firstname.lastname@example.org). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.