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Fraggle fic: The Minstrel's Path

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

  1. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Here we go, on another serial, this time starring Cantus the Minstrel. I've had bits and pieces of this story in my mind for some time, and in fact I've posted bits and pieces in this forum already. So, if some of it looks familiar, beg pardon; I'm tying it all together here.

    So... what makes a minstrel?


    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 1
    by Kim McFarland


    "This will be your first real test. Are you sure you want to go through with it?"

    "Yes, I'm sure."

    The Tunesmith, to his credit, did not shrug, shake his head, or in any other way show his opinion of Jago, one of his pupils. The boy was gifted, but in dire need of discipline. He spent more time dreaming than practicing, and he never could settle on one instrument. If he could just learn to focus he could become a great musician. He was young; he had time to learn. But the earlier he began to take music seriously the better.

    The two Fraggles walked from the Tunesmith's cave and down one of the passages leading out of the colony. There were dangers out here; unstable caves and hungry creatures and territorial plants and, supposedly, a ghost. The Tunesmith did not believe in ghosts, but so many Fraggles claimed to have heard a voice whispering out of nowhere that now everybody believed that these caves were haunted. Jago didn't seem worried. Either he didn't believe the rumors or, more likely, simply wasn't thinking about them.


    The two Fraggles reached a small hole in the tunnel. A low moaning came from the darkness within. The Tunesmith gestured toward the hole. Jago looked at him in surprise, then peered in. He turned his head, listening. Then he asked, "What should I do?"

    "Spend the night here, in the Piping Cave. Tomorrow, tell me what you have learned."

    "What am I supposed to learn here?"

    "You tell me."

    Jago looked into the cave again. All he could hear was the low moaning of wind passing through long tunnels. It blew against his face, ruffling his flower-colored hair. He stepped in. As his eyes adjusted he could see more of his surroundings. He was in a large room with many tunnels of various sizes leading out on the opposite side. Fresh air seemed to be blowing evenly from all of them, making the room breezy and pleasant. After listening for a minute, he began to sing along with it. He used no words, only the sounds that came to him.

    The cave began to lighten in response to his song. The Tunesmith smiled. Fraggle song brightened the caves, not only figuratively. Jago began wandering within the cave, his teacher forgotten. The Tunesmith turned to go back to the colony.


    Jago wandered within the Piping Cave. The wind blowing in through the tunnels—there were seven of them—was steady and gentle, and, he soon realized, each tunnel's sound was different. The smallest tunnel played a high, whishing sound. The largest one had a lower tone, the moan he had heard first. The other tunnels made sounds in between. As he walked around the cave he noticed that he heard different tones depending on where he stood within it.

    He paced and listened. He felt as if the wind was blowing through him. As if he was an instrument rather than the player of one. It was a pleasant, even exciting sensation. After he had walked around the cave long enough to understand its sounds and their sources, he began to sing softly.
    "Music flows through the coves,
    Wind and stone sing together as one.
    Echoing as you sing,
    Let me hear your song..."

    Something was listening.


    He sang, entreating the cave to share its secrets with him, until he felt he had said enough. Standing to one side, out of the main flow of air, he listened to the chord of the seven tunnels. It was pleasant, if a little monotonous. Looking around the cave, he realized that it was like the inside of a giant ocarina, with the tunnels acting as the holes...no. You blow in one side of a flute and change its single tone by covering the holes with your fingers. He put his pack down on the ground and began walking, stepping silently, aware of nothing but the sound of the wind. It would change if he stopped up a tunnel, he supposed. To test that he found the smallest tunnel within reach and leaned back against it, blocking the flow of air completely. Sure enough, the chord sounded different...incomplete. He stepped away, and the chord was complete again. Taking away wasn't any good, he thought.

    Only one of the tunnels at ground level was large enough for him to enter without stopping it up. He walked a ways into it, then stopped and listened. Once again, the chord was changed. But this time it sounded good. By entering this tunnel he had raised its tone, which in turn changed the song of the cave.

    He stood, looking into the cave, seeing little, straining for all he could hear.


    Early the next day the Tunesmith returned to the Piping Cave, hoping that his pupil had fared well. Many found the eerie sounds of the lonely cave frightening. But Jago had not run back to the colony during the night—the Tunesmith had checked his family's cave before coming here—so at least the boy had toughed it out.

    The Tunesmith looked into the cave. Jago was there, asleep on top of his sleeping bag rather than in it. From the look of it he had simply bedded down without bothering to make a campfire. He shook his head, then patted Jago's shoulder. The boy's breathing caught, and he blinked and looked up. The Tunesmith said, "Arise, sleepyhead. I hope sleeping isn't all you've done in here."

    "No, not at all," Jago replied. He sat up and stretched hard, then wiggled his fingers to limber them.

    "Well then, what have you learned?"

    "Well... this cave, it's like the inside of a musical instrument."

    "Like an ocarina," the Tunesmith said, nodding.

    "No, not really. More like my reed flute, if all the reeds blew into one chamber. I've never seen an instrument like this. Each tunnel makes a different sound, and it changes depending on where you are."

    "And what does that mean?"

    "It means that what you hear depends on where you are, just like anywhere else. The music you make changes as you move. Let me show you."

    Jago took out a stringed instrument like a small balalaika and stood hastily. He said to the Tunesmith, "Walk with me."

    Jago began playing the instrument, singing softly and wordlessly. The wind provided the background chord, and as he moved through the cave he adjusted the song to harmonize with it. The Tunesmith was impressed. This was the lesson the cave had to teach, but the boy had gone beyond understanding the mere principle and used it in his own music. And the tune was improvised; he would have recognized a prepared composition. When Jago finished the Tunesmith said, "Very good."

    "Thank you. And, this tunnel—if you go into it, you change the sound it makes."

    "Yes, like muting a wind instrument." the Tunesmith acknowledged.

    Jago continued, becoming more animated, "Just as we hear different things by moving around in the world, we can change what is heard just by being in the right place. The song of the world continues, but we become a part of it rather than using it in our music."

    If the Tunesmith had ever doubted that Jago was still a dreamer, this would have laid that question to rest. Trust Jago to turn a practical lesson on music principles into a philosophical matter. Still, there was nothing to say that musicians couldn't be dreamers too. "Have you learned anything else?"

    "Not yet."

    Patting his student's shoulder approvingly, The Tunesmith said, "Well, you've passed the test. You've done very well, in fact. Let's return."

    "I'd rather stay here."

    Surprised, the Tunesmith asked, "Why? What do you want to do?"

    "I think there's more to it. At the very least, I want to listen some more."

    The Tunesmith gave him an odd look. Then he said, "If that's what you want to do. Come back when you're ready."

    "I will."

    The Tunesmith left his odd pupil behind. He had the talent to be a master musician, but with his disposition, who knew what he would finally turn out to be.

    Unseen, an entity watched the young Fraggle, and was pleased. It said in a voice so low that Jago believed he was hearing his own thoughts, "Listen."


    Fraggle Rock and Jago (under his real name) are copyright © The Jim Henson Company and are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The Tunesmith is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com), as is the overall story. Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
    Twisted Tails and DrDientes like this.
  2. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    Oooh! New Fraggle fic! I'm very excited to see how all the Minstrels come together. Thanks for posting!
  3. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    *Cheers for new fic from Slackbot.

    *Is interested to read how this develops. Please, post more.
  4. DrDientes

    DrDientes Well-Known Member

    :): YAAAAAAAAAAAY! (waves arms) New Slackbot fic!
  5. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Aw, gawrsh, thanks for the votes of confidence!

    This first chapter is actually not new fic. I posted it some months ago in my Text Sketchbook thread under the title "Within the Music." I'm finally expanding it into a full story, hence the rehashiness. But it's cheesy to kick a story off only with reruns, so here is a new, not-posted-before chapter...


    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 2
    by Kim McFarland


    Jago closed his eyes, shutting out the Fraggles who were watching him.

    They were still and quiet, waiting for him. He pretended they were not there, that he was alone, with nobody to hear but the beetles that lived in the cave moss. He remembered the soft sound of the wind as it moved through the passages, the cool breeze carrying the scent of water. Thinking of those things, he began to play.

    The fingertips of one hand pressed strings of varying thickness against a flat surface that rose up to rest against one shoulder. His other hand plucked the same strings lower down. The humming sound they made was reflected and given body by the bowl-like body of the instrument, which rested on his lap. In his mind he heard a tune, and followed it as one might travel a new path through the caverns. He let his fingers take care of the minutia of which notes to play, and let them elaborate the theme as they saw fit.

    Eventually the path led back home, and the tune came to a close. He opened his eyes again and set down the chordophone, signaling that he was finished. The wood clicked softly against the stone of the cave floor.

    "That was beautiful," said a female Fraggle.

    "Thank you," Jago replied dutifully.

    The Tunesmith watched with pride as his pupil gracefully accepted compliments on his playing. He did not desire acclaim for himself; Jago's accomplishments were his own.

    Jago had been one of the Tunesmith's students since he was small. All Fraggles had some musical talent, but Jago had showed unusual promise almost from the very beginning. He seemed to grasp by instinct what others had to learn. His one persistent flaw had been his unwillingness to focus. Instead of learning to play one instrument well, he had kept switching between many, never sticking with one long enough to learn to play it as well as the Tunesmith knew he could. But Jago had been young, and as he had matured he had chosen the chordophone, a respectable, versatile instrument. His hard work was finally paying off.

    When the audience left The Tunesmith said quietly to Jago, "You have made me proud. You are becoming a fine musician."

    "Thank you," Jago answered.


    Jago left, carrying the chordophone in a specially made bag slung across his back. He was glad that he pleased those who listened to him and rewarded Tunesmith for the time and effort he'd devoted to training an often-distracted pupil. Yet he didn't feel a sense of accomplishment or pride. Yes, he knew he played well, but still he felt discontented.

    He left the main territory of the colony. There were caves all around it that were rarely used because of their distance from the main colony, but were still close enough that dangerous cave creatures shied away. This cave was a secret favorite of Jago's. A cool breeze flowed through it, carrying with it sounds and scents from caverns further out. Water dripped from stalactite to stalagmite, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Beetles and other creatures chirped and trilled to each other.

    Jago smiled as he listened to the sounds. He settled into a comfortable mossy ledge and set his bag on the ground. Playing one instrument only was like singing just one song, he thought. That song might be wonderful, but it still didn't satisfy him. There had to be more to music than limiting yourself so.

    He closed the bag and started to rise, then put it down and sat again. There was the sound of water flowing and dripping, the calls of the creatures that shared the cave with him. They were as meaningful as songs Fraggles sang. They told the world what the creatures were doing and how they felt. At the very least they announced 'I am alive and so are you.' The music he had made that day had said nothing; it was only pretty sounds. There was nothing of him in it.

    No, he told himself. That was not true. He was frustrated, but it wasn't really the music that bothered him. He had to discover what he wanted and seek that out rather than dwelling on what he didn't like.

    He closed his eyes, relaxed, and took a deep breath. When he exhaled he let go of his frustration. In the quiet that left him he was again conscious of the air flowing and traveling, ruffling his hair. He imagined that it carried messages from the far reaches of the caves, and he could understand them if he learned the language of the wind. He sat and listened, letting the sounds come to him and thinking nothing.

    After a while he began to doze off. Before he fell asleep he thought he heard a reed instrument playing in the distance.


    Fraggle Rock and Jago (under his real name) are copyright © The Jim Henson Company and are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The Tunesmith is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com), as is the overall story. Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
    Twisted Tails and DrDientes like this.
  6. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Here, have another slice of life.

    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 3
    by Kim McFarland


    It was the day of the summer solstice. This was the longest day of the year, the day the world stood still for just a moment before turning back on its path. It was the pivot of summer, which was the center of the year.

    Summers were rich and mellow. Flowers bloomed, the vines that festooned the Fraggles' caves were fruiting, and tasty morels grew everywhere the Fraggles searched. And, of course, it was the breeding season for many of the caves' inhabitants, including Fraggles.

    All of this added up to a big celebration on this day. Everyone contributed their own special talents. Many gathered food and cooked their best dishes for the colony. Some composed songs, or danced, or told stories, or did special swimming stunts. Children gathered flowers and pretty stones and decorated the Deep Gallery. And, of course, the musicians played for everybody.

    The core of the musicians was comprised of The Tunesmith, who led the music on a wooden flute; Jago, on his chordophone; and Cheel on drums and percussion board. Other Fraggles joined in on their own instruments as the spirit moved them. Anyone who wished to sang.

    Tunesmith brought the piece they had been playing to a close and said lightly to Jago and Cheel, "Enough."

    The two nodded, and Jago agreed, "Enough." They had been playing for over an hour, and now they could put down their instruments and enjoy the day with everybody else. Cheel packed away her instruments—she had just made them, and was rather possessive of them—and then slid into the stream that ran through the gallery. The Tunesmith went to get some food. Jago, who had been singing, stuck his head under the small waterfall at the head of the stream and drank from the splashing water.


    As the day progressed Jago ate, and swam, and played music on a more informal basis, and accepted an invitation from a friend for a private celebration of the day. By the end of that he was sated, but the day was far from over. He put his chordophone in its bag and headed out.

    He let his feet lead him away from the center of the colony, humming as he walked. When he was far away enough that he revelry was audible only as indistinct echoes, he opened his bag and reached under the chordophone. He drew out a bamboo traverse flute and, as he walked, began playing a simple, lively tune that popped into his head.

    He made his way to a peaceful cavelet that he often visited when he wanted to be alone, to play music or meditate or just relax. Listening to the wind that blew through the cave, he began again, this time with a single soft, breathy note on his flute, which formed a chord with the sound of the breeze. He picked up the sounds of the insects chirping nearby and wove a tune around them.

    He was smiling when he lowered the flute from his mouth. The cave was brighter now. It often was after he had played a tune. There were things in the air that fed on music, and they lit the caves. They were too small to see unless they gathered in great concentrations, if they actually did that; he had only heard of that happening in stories.

    He put the flute back in the bag and took out another instrument. It was made of curved metal, a rare substance among Fraggles. If you grasped one end between your teeth and twanged the other end it made a plunking tone, which you could vary with the shape of your mouth. He played a comical tune around the rhythm of the water dripping from stalactite to stalagmite.


    He put a set of reeds of different lengths, fastened together in order of length and thus of pitch, back in his bag. His heart felt lighter now. For the Tunesmith and the colony he played the chordophone, and played it well. To please himself, he went off and played other instruments. Once he found a colony of humming rumblebugs, and had joined in their song. That was the most fun he had had in many, many days.

    It was a good balance, he thought. He gave his colony what it wanted, and played for his own amusement at other times. He could be content with that. He leaned back to rest, and closed his eyes.


    His eyes popped open. He thought that the word had been spoken right next to his ear, but there was nobody there. This was not the first time that had happened. He supposed, as he always did, that he had imagined it. After all, he often came here to listen to the quiet sounds of the cave. They gave him a feeling of peace that he could not find in the colony, and sometimes he found inspirations for new tunes in the chance combinations of chirps, whooshes, trills, and drips.

    But this time he heard music. At first he thought a trick of the wind was bringing it to him from the colony. But it didn't sound like the Fraggle music he knew, and it was coming from the wrong direction. He peered out the back of the cavelet. The sound was coming from farther out.

    Who could be making that music? It was eerie—no, not eerie; it was unearthly without being frightening. He had never heard anything like it. He picked up his bag and followed the sound.

    He traveled some distance. The strange music sounded clearer but no closer. He looked back uneasily. He could still see the cave he had just come from. But he did not know the caves this far from the colony. The music was still some distance away, and while he could find it easily, he might not be able to find his way back. And there could be dangerous creatures who would not pass up the opportunity for an easy meal, should one come wandering near their lairs.

    Still, that music…Jago could not bear to give it up just yet. He stood, his bag in his hands, his eyes on the path he had come, but all his attention on the tune that floated hauntingly out of the depths of the tunnels.

    But he had to make a choice. He could not risk it. Regretfully he turned his back on the music and walked back to his colony. After he was gone, the music faded away.


    Fraggle Rock and Jago (under his real name) are copyright © The Jim Henson Company and are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The Tunesmith and Cheel are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com), as is the overall story. Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
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  7. DrDientes

    DrDientes Well-Known Member

    Is mysterious and invisible, right? :D
  8. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you for posting more. Who is Cheel? And is it pronounced with a choppy "CH" sound or a hard "k" sound?
    *Is intrigued by the music that almost brought Jago out to its new discovery.

    BTW: Noticed you mentioned this summer festival as bringing forth morels, so I take it this takes place during the days of Uncle Gobo and a young Matt?
  9. Twisted Tails

    Twisted Tails Well-Known Member

    :excited: A mysterious and insivisible what?
    We don't know yet, but you'll have to find out fot the next chapter.
    :excited: Gotcha!!
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  10. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Heh, yes, the source of that voice is mysterious, and it's not very visible, is it?

    Cheel is a Fraggle who Tunesmith has trained in percussion-based instruments. She's a good musician, but not a great one, and she doesn't have any original thoughts when it comes to music. She's there to keep a beat. Her name is pronounced with a soft "CH," like "cheesewheel" minus the middle part.

    This Fraggle colony is pretty far from Fraggle Rock, so it may have different flora. (Do fungi count as flora? Morels are a kind of mushroom.) But, now that I think about it, it would be approximately the time of Young Uncle Matt, as Cantus is a very young adult, or at least post-adolescent, as of this chapter.
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  11. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    I have a feeling that Jago will be heading back to those caves soon enough to figure out the mysterious mystery of the music. Thanks for sharing!
  12. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 4
    by Kim McFarland


    The caves were lovely, dark and deep. The unexplored outer caverns possessed an aura of mystery. Sometimes they revealed new plants or creatures or unexpected cave formations.

    Jago held up his lantern to the cave wall. It was covered with flowstone fluting, as if heavy curtains had been hung from the ceiling. This close to the ground the 'folds' stood well out from the wall. Jago tapped one with the end of his walking stick. It rang like a xylophone. He smiled. He took a piece of cloth out of his backpack and folded it, then tied it around the end of his stick. Then he started tapping the flowstone again. Different parts of the formation gave different tones, depending on the shape and thickness of the rock. The notes were not neatly lined up as they would be on a Fraggle-made instrument, but that only added to its spice. Jago played it, letting its quirks lead the tune.

    After a while he took a map out of his pack and made a quick note. The Tunesmith might or might not be interested in a cave that played music, and he certainly wouldn't travel this far from the colony, but Jago would return.

    He had originally planned to push on farther, but he changed his mind. This was the right place. He sat down on a smooth boulder and drew a bamboo traverse flute out of his bag.

    He closed his eyes to still his mind, then raised the flute and began to play. Without making a conscious decision he began with the tune he had tapped out on the flowstone. The rich, gentle song of the flute seemed to mix with the breeze and flow with it out of the cave. As he played he listened.

    When he finished he lowered the flute. Music was still in the air, and it was not his own. This was what he had hoped for. He put the flute back, picked up his bag and took out a piece of chalk, and went into the passages beyond this cave. He listened at every turn and fork, following the sound, wondering who he would meet. White chalk blaze marks on the cave walls traced his path.


    Fortunately Jago was meticulous about marking his trail, as he followed a long, convoluted path. It was amazing that he had heard the music so far away, he thought; distance had hardly dimmed the sound at all. He entered a large cave that seemed dazzlingly bright after the dim tunnels. Its floor was covered with moss and grasses and small plants; ferns and flowering plants dotted the walls. One side of the room was covered by a jungly vine which grew out of a crack in the ground, surged up the wall, and rose up against the ceiling like a breaking wave. The main stem was thick and pillarlike, and the smaller vines that emerged from it bore light green leaves and blue-and-yellow flowers. He barely noticed them, however. He was looking at what seemed at first to be a stick growing out of the main stem. The music was coming from this.

    He sat and listened. Closing his eyes, he gave himself over to the music. It flowed around him like water, through him like the air he breathed. It felt as nourishing as food, he thought. It was the music that he had wanted to make and never known how, he thought.

    When the tune faded, Jago emerged from its spell and murmured to himself, "What is it?"

    "It is a magic pipe."

    Jago looked around. He saw nobody else there, yet the words had been spoken right next to him. The invisible speaker continued, "This pipe will speak the language of all music. It will play all songs, and weave the threads of life together into one cloth with its music. Do you wish to play it?"

    "It plays itself," Jago said. He could not bear the thought of picking it, if that would silence it.

    "Now it plays the song of this cave. To play other songs, it must travel to where they are. It will travel far."

    "Yes," Jago murmured. It needed someone to carry it, to learn new music. There was music to learn elsewhere. Hr was intrigued.

    "It will take much to play it."

    "What will it take?"

    "Your life."

    Startled, Jago stepped back, away from the vine. The mysterious speaker said, "Will you take it?"


    The mysterious voice did not answer. He hurried out of the cave.

    He followed the blaze marks back. Give his life for an instrument? If it killed him, who would play it? Jago was no fool; he would not die for music. He would live for it.


    Fraggle Rock and Jago (under his real name) 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.

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  13. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Doodly-doo, doodly-doo...


    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 5
    by Kim McFarland


    A gaggle of Fraggles were climbing down a tunnel so steep it was almost a chimney. Sometimes water slicked the sides of the passage, making it treacherous. Today it was dry, so they could climb down safely.

    When they had all made it down, they continued through the lower caves, which were wetter and cooler. Different creatures and plants lived here. The Fraggles spread out. Each Fraggle had equipment in a backpack and an empty bag at their side. Jago untied the mouth of his bag and put a morel into it.

    This time of year, mushrooms were scarce around his Fraggle colony, and the ones that did grow were picked young by hungry Fraggles. But only the occasional foray team traveled this far out, so they could easily find as much food as they could carry back.

    This was not the only purpose for their expedition, or even the main one, however. When they had filled their bags—and were munching on more of the tasty fungi—they shouldered their bags and went on.

    They were a team of Fraggles who patrolled the caves around the main colony. There were needed resources out here, food and useful plants and minerals and other things. They also made sure that nothing big and hungry was getting uncomfortably close to the colony. If danger threatened their home, they were the ones to deal with it. The walking sticks they carried could be pulled apart at the middle, revealing sharp points coated with a chemical that would make any creature very sorry it had tangled with them. That didn't happen often, though, as most creatures had learned by now that Fraggles were much more trouble than a meal was worth.

    The trickiest part of the journey was the path across a cliff face. There was a ledge there—mostly natural, with the gaps spanned by wooden bridges where the rock was insufficient—but it was not wide enough to walk across comfortably. They went across one at a time, their backs to the cave wall. Jago wished he could leave his bag behind, but if he did its contents would be gone by the time he returned.

    Their destination was only a few minutes beyond the end of the cliff. They could hear it before they saw it: a rushing underwater river. The water was too fast and rough for typical Fraggle swimming and horseplay, but in the riverbed there were stones that could be found nowhere else. Stones that, when split just right, formed sharp blades, and which could also make sparks when struck with certain metallic crystals.

    The Fraggles had brought ropes in their backpacks. To get the stones, the best swimmers would be tethered by ropes to boulders or sturdy stalagmites, and they would dive for them. The rest of the group would sort through the stones, and be ready to pull the divers out by the ropes if they were overcome by the current.

    They emerged from a side passage into a high-ceilinged cavern through which the river rushed, splashing noisily as the water bounced against various formations. They had all set down their gathering bags and backpacks and started getting the ropes out when one exclaimed, "Look!" and pointed upstream.

    The others looked. There were at least a dozen creatures at a narrow point of the river. They were holding onto something that was partly in and partly out of the water. The creatures were dark colored, with thin bodies, round heads, and long, spidery limbs. "What are they doing?"

    Another Fraggle said, "They're trying to catch the water."

    One of the spidery creatures noticed the Fraggles, and shouted to its brethren. They all turned to stare, and jabbered to each other.

    Fraggles are not an aggressive species. They had all they needed to live comfortably in their caves, and did not compete with anything for resources or territory. However, these Fraggles had learned that, to keep the colony safe, the best defense was a good offense. One called, "Attack!" The others, having been drilled in this over and over, dropped their encumbrances, pulled their walking sticks apart, and, as a group, rushed forward, screaming fiercely and waving their weapons.

    The spiderlike creatures dropped what they were holding and fled. The Fraggles chased them as far as the tunnel they escaped into, then yelled a little longer just to make sure their foe was thoroughly scared off. Then the Fraggles walked back toward the thing that the creatures had been holding in the river. It was woven strings, like a giant hammock, and was tied to boulders on either side of the water. They stared at it, puzzled. One said, "You can't catch water with that. The water slips through the holes."

    "And it gets fish all tangled up," another remarked with distaste.

    "Let's get it out before anything else gets tangled."

    "I think they were trying to tangle the fish," Jago said.

    Another looked at him in surprise; he was usually quiet on these expeditions. He did his part without talking about it. "What for?"

    "Maybe they eat them."

    "Ugh! Let's get it out of the water."

    Jago hung back while one Fraggle crossed to the other side on a plank bridge set on a close point over the river and used their stone knives to slice through the ropes anchoring it on that side. The Fraggles on the other side pulled the weaving out of the water, detached the fish—most of which were alive—and returned them to the river. One asked, "Should we take this back so they can't do it again?"

    Jago said, "Should we steal it from them?"

    The others exchanged glances. Jago was known for his odd ideas. The leader of the group said, "We have enough to carry without a bunch of wet string. Leave it. Let's get the stones."

    Most of the team went down to their usual place by the side of the river, a wide spot where the current lost its force and dropped rocks it had carried from far upstream. Jago, however, looked at the woven thing. Someone went to a lot of trouble, making all those knots. It had to be important to them. The more he thought about it, the more likely it seemed that they really were trying to tangle the fish. There were animals that are fish; maybe those people did that too, he thought queasily. Being an herbivore, he found the idea of people eating flesh upsetting. Still, if that was what they had to eat, then they could no more be blamed for it than the carnivores and scavengers that roamed the caves.

    He picked up the net and carried it to the mouth of the tunnel where the spider creatures had fled, and left it there.


    Fraggle Rock and Jago (under his real name) 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.
    Twisted Tails and DrDientes like this.
  14. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Hmm, this gets more and more interesting with each addition. Liked the appearance of spiderlike creatures down in the Rock's caverns. Hope to read more when you've got it ready.
  15. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    The idea of fighting Fraggles is strange, but you have to keep yourselves safe. I like Jago returning the net to the edge of the cave; it shows that he is trying to understand the other creatures and their ways of life.
  16. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The Count: Thanks. I don't know if the spiderlike critters are recognizable. Probably not, unless you knew the odd way I think.

    charlietheowl: This is a different Fraggle clan, so they have a different culture. But, yeah, Fraggles are not warlike by nature. These guys just like to make a strong first impression. They've been at it so long that they might have influenced the natural selection of the creatures living near them. Those critters that regarded Fraggles are fresh meat generally suffered for their efforts, and those that left them alone fared better. Over the generations they'd pass along a tendency to shy away from Fraggles. Unfortunately, this colony has a rep for being unfriendly to other peoples as well. Gee, I wonder why?

    Yes, Jago does see things a bit differently. He's willing to question everyone else's assumptions, to think for himself. And he's at an age where he's getting ready to take some risks. Dang volatile creative types, always rockin' the boat...

    How's that for a winner of a typo? It should have been "ate fish", not "are fish". Slightly different meaning.
  17. Twisted Tails

    Twisted Tails Well-Known Member

    Wait a minute! Now I am thinking why animals in Jago's day ate fish? What kind of creatures were eating fish? I am not sure why I am asking questions, but gee this was the time when Matt Fraggle was young and his uncle was named "Gobo." This is a wonderful story overall.
  18. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The caves are an ecosystem. Things eat other things. Some creatures eat plants, some creatures eat other creatures. Such is the way of things.

    Jago's colony is insular and a bit provincial. They have no contact with people other than themselves, and thus have no notion of other ways of life. They're herbivorous, and just can't imagine people who eat meat. It's as disgusting a concept to them as eating carrion is to us. Only animals consume each other!

    The spidery critters, on the other hand, are either carnivores or omnivores. They have no idea why the Fraggles attacked them and then threw their food away. They stay away from their unfriendly neighbors.
  19. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 6
    by Kim McFarland


    Jago was in the cavelet he called his home. It was small, suitable for one Fraggle and his possessions: bedding, clothing, and a few personal items. In Jago's case these were musical instruments. In addition to the chordophone, the instrument he played for the colony, he also had a traverse flute, some small hand drums, a panflute, and a few others that he toyed with as the spirit moved him.

    He put his guitar into its bag, then set the panflute on top of it. He lifted the bag to his shoulder and walked out. When he passed through the Deep Gallery Fraggles smiled at him, and he smiled back. Today he had played music for them, and it made them happy.

    A storage cave, the pantry for the entire colony, was on the other side. He looked in and saw that it was well enough stocked, but there weren't many mushrooms. There rarely were. Fraggles loved mushrooms most of all, so they were eaten quickly. Jago picked up a cloth bag from a stack near the door.


    Soon he was climbing down a steep tunnel. Fraggles normally didn't travel this far from the colony alone, but he had been going out with the foray teams for over a year and had rarely seen anything that could pose a real threat to him. He was taking a risk, but the danger was not from roaming predators.

    He ambled through several caverns. Each offered something different. One had berry bushes. Another grew edible mushrooms. Some had young, crisp fern heads. He put some of each into his carrying bag. Just enough for a good meal, should he stay out long enough to need one. He'd gather for the colony on the way back. As he was leaving the cave he noticed a vine that he hadn't seen before. It bore clusters of green spheres. He sniffed at it—it smelled good—then ate one. It was very good. He picked a large cluster.


    Jago arrived at the underground river. There was nothing for him to gather here; only a very foolish Fraggle would dive for stones alone in these rapids. Instead he sat on a flat spot, easily visible from a point where the stone banks rose above the river on both sides. He leaned back against a column and closed his eyes.

    The stone was pleasantly cool beneath him. Occasionally small bits of spray reached him and clung to his fur or vest like tiny gems. The sound of the water seemed to divide from a continuous rushing noise into many different sounds: the flow of deep water in the center; the splash of water at the top that caromed from side to side and flew into the air; the eddies' burbling. The air was pleasantly humid, good to breathe.

    Without opening his eyes and breaking the spell Jago reached into one of his bags and brought out his chordophone. He crossed his legs and set the round end in his lap, and rested the neck against his shoulder. Then he began to play a soft, wandering tune to accompany the song of the water.

    Some time later he heard voices. His heart began to beat faster, but he stayed where he was, eyes closed, playing his music. He segued into a common tune played at Fraggle gatherings, as he was now listening to the voices rather than the water.

    He could not understand what they were saying. Even over the sound of the water and the cave's echoes he would have been able to make out the occasional word or phrase, if they were Fraggles. They were speaking a different language. There was a sharp bark, and then silence. Jago opened his eyes and saw a cluster of spidery creatures staring at him from the edge of the river.

    Jago stayed where he was, still playing the chordophone, trying not to look afraid. He had not brought his walking stick or any other weapon. See, I am harmless. If they attacked, his only option would be to throw himself in the river and hope it would wash him to safety.

    The creatures talked among themselves. One was holding the hammock-like thing in its arms. There was emphatic gesturing, and many glances in Jago's direction. After some discussion one of them left the group and went over to Jago. As it approached he saw that it didn't really look like a spider. The ones he had seen fishing has been wet, which made their limbs look stick-thin. This one was as furry as any Fraggle, but thinner, and its head was strange and round. It stood over him and asked, "Ildurb fistenant imb?"

    "I don't speak your language," Jago said. He stopped playing and reached into his carrying sack. The creature tensed, ready to flee. The others were poised and watching hard. They were afraid of him? The thought shamed him. He took out the cluster of fruit he had picked, ate one, and then held it up to the creature.

    It hesitated, looking at Jago. Then it picked one of the fruits and ate it.

    Jago was relieved. So they ate plants after all. Then what were they tangling the fish for?

    The creature squatted in front of Jago and gestured at his chordophone. He offered it to the creature. It sat down cross-legged and accepted the instrument. He watched with interest as it set the bowl in its lap and the neck against its shoulder as he had done, and experimentally began plucking the strings. Jago was surprised and pleased to see that it clearly understood the instrument, and was finding the notes. It paused occasionally to eat more of the fruit.

    The other creatures watched in surprise as the Fraggle—nornally a hostile creature—shared food and then a musical instrument with one of their own. To their disbelief, he sat down and began to play.


    The creature got the hang of the chordophone fairly quickly. He—Jago had stopped thinking of the creature as an it, and based on his voice assumed he was male—must already know how to play something similar. The thought was very heartening. They played music. They were, indeed, people!

    They had finished the fruit. Jago took the other food he had gathered and placed it on top of the sack and gestured to it. The other nodded acknowledgment, but continued experimenting with the instrument. Jago took out his panflute and began playing a slow tune.

    The other creatures tied their net to boulders on both banks and lowered it into the river.


    The creature was playing music before too long. Jago could tell that he wasn't satisfied with his playing; he often winced when a note came out wrong. It took more than a few hours for one's fingers to learn the frets. Jago smiled encouragingly, and played his tune around the other's.

    After a while the creature put the chordophone down with a soft click on the stone between himself and Jago. He said, "Mai m'rray. Aou?"

    Jago put down his panflute, turned his hands up, and shrugged: I don't understand.

    The creature thought a moment. Then he tapped his chest and said slowly, "Mai, m'rray." Pointing at Jago, he said, "Aou?"

    Jago said, "Me? I'm a Fraggle."

    "Fraggle," the creature repeated, nodding. Jago had not expected this. He had simply wanted to show these creatures that Fraggles were not warlike. He had not expected to try to communicate with them. But now it was happening! He touched his panflute and said, "Panflute."

    The other repeated the word, then touched the chordophone. Jago named it, and the other stumbled the first time he tried to say the long word. They named the food Jago had brought—they both ate the fruit and berries, but the other declined the mushrooms and other herbage—and various other concepts that they could express in pantomime. Jago was stumped when the other wiggled a hand in the air, pointed at the river, and said "Sakan."

    They had already named water and river. The other repeated the hand gesture, which looked like something slithering. "Sakan?"

    Jago shrugged. The other nodded and held up a finger. Then he got up somewhat stiffly, as he had been sitting in one position for a long time, and went back to his fellows, who had pulled their weaving out of the water. In it were many fish, still alive. They were pulling the fish out and putting the large ones in a bag. They tossed the small ones back into the water. He took one, to the surprise of his fellows, and brought it over to Jago. "Sakan."

    "Sakan," Jago repeated. So that's what they called fish. The other held the squirming thing out, clearly offering it to Jago. "Sakan, eat." He snapped his mouth several times.

    Squeamishly Jago held one hand up and said, "No. Eat fruit, no sakan."

    The other shrugged, then took the fish back. His friends spoke with him briefly. He went back to Jago and, lacking the words, pointed to himself, then his group, then drew a line in the air toward the tunnel they had come from.

    Jago interpreted that as "We're going home now." Jago nodded, then pointed to himself and drew a similar line indicating the way he had come. He put the uneaten food and the instruments in their bags.

    The other said, "River again, music again?"

    Jago smiled. "Yes. Music again."


    Fraggle Rock and Jago (under his real name) 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.
  20. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Okay... Now the mysterious creatures casting their net into the river are clearer in identity. So that's one additional minstrel introduced. The act of trying to translate between each other as they name simple objects is a good way to start understanding each other. And I understand the frustration it can produce, that's how I felt the first few weeks in French class when we had to speak in French all the time unless the teacher allowed a short leniency in that rule from time to time.

    *Loves the way you keep painting the images of everything so we can follow the story even with eyes shut. Thanks for posting.

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