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Fraggle fic: The Minstrel's Path

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

  1. charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    So we meet the first minstrel! Nice to see Jago using music and food to break down the barriers between himself and Murray. Thanks for posting.
  2. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I guess it's obvious that this is Murray. I wasn't sure it would be. Out of curiosity, what was the tip-off?

    I'd been wembling on whether to bring Murray in this early, as he doesn't seem as old as Cantus. However, I realized that Jago needs a friend right now, not years (er, many, many, many days) down the road. Let's just say that those critters age at a different rate, or they show their age differently. Whatever.

    I have to confess that a little of my own personality is showing through in this chapter. I love languages. I've held onto my high school French well enough to hold a conversation or read an Asterix book (I have them all!) and I've studied Japanese on my own for years. For me it's not frustrating, it's fun. So, Jago and, er, the tarantula-like sapient are too interested in what they're doing--making the first contact between their races in living memory!--to get frustrated. Which one do you think will turn out to be the better linguist?
  3. charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    I suspected it was him when he gestured to Jago regarding the chordophone and started playing it. Before that I really wasn't sure what kind of creature you were talking about. As for the better linguist, I would guess Murray, since Jago's colony seems to be pretty insular.
  4. The Count Moderator

    For me, the tip as to who the "tratantula" sapient was was when he said "Mai m'rray. Aou?"
    Once I read that insert character by character to understand what was being said, I thought he was saying "Me Murray. You?" as if telling the strange Fraggle who we was and asking who he was in turn.

    Back then, even though it was frustrating at first, since I didn't have/know about MC's original Delphi boards plus my attempted cut at ties to Hensonian productions, I didn't really have that many distractions and aced through the year and a half of French I had to take as my requisit Third Language course. Can still understand a little bit, and maybe speak it, but nowhere with the proficiency of someone fluent in that spech. Due to my monster research, I've picked up a Japanese word or two, like "onna" and "kozo" but that's practically it.

    As for who'll be the better linguist. I'd have to agree and say Murray, cause he often puts what Jago says in his philosophical nature into simpler to understand words for others, like at the end of the song "Lose Your Heart".
  5. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    You're both right. Murray's the better linguist, and will pick up Jago's language fast enough that there's not a lot of point in Jago learning his. Which is a good thing, as Jago's two languages are music and...well, whatever it is that Fraggles and everyone else in the Rock speaks. It varies from country to country. I don't think Jago could ever learn to think in a third language. Plus, it would make this fic hard to read.

    You nailed Murray's like, Count. Murray's original like was "Anta m'rray. Uchi?" (As usual, I threw in some Japanese.) However, I changed it to something that might be recognizable to the alert reader--especially if he's using software that reads the post out to him :batty:--because I decided that their languages should be similar, like French and Spanish. They have a common root, and diverged over time due to isolation. Which will make Murray's task much easier.

    Murray's task of translating Cantus's's's's mumbo-jumbo philosophy will also be a bit easier because, by the time of their appearance in Fraggle Rock, Murray has known Cantus for so long that he understands how he thinks. With that he can put things in plain language--usually.

    It's gonna be a challenge to write dialogue for Cantus after he turns all mystical. Occasional lines, no problem. Conversations, ouch. Poor Janken must have wanted to bang his head against a stalagmite during the middle part of "A Wandering Heart."
    The Count likes this.
  6. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Lookie lookie! Me write more!

    *****
    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 7
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    Pale shapes flashed within the tumbling, foaming water. The largest fish were caught in the net that stretched across the pinch point of the underground river. Smaller ones slipped through and continued on their way. The fishing creatures, satisfied that their net was firmly secured, left it to see what the last of their number was doing.

    One of the spiderlike creatures had not been working the nets lately. Instead, he had been meeting with the Fraggle who had been coming here to play his music while they fished. M'rray, a musician himself, had overcome his fear and approached him, and found that this Fraggle was not warlike at all. He had even been learning the Fraggle's language so they could talk.

    Jago was impressed with how fast M'rray had picked up his language. In a handful of meetings he had acquired enough vocabulary to hold a conversation, while Jago had only learned isolated words. So, when they spoke it was in Jago's tongue. Music, of course, needed no translation.

    The fishers watched the two. M'rray was playing a guitar, and Jago a pair of small drums. They waited for a while, then one spoke a short, polysyllabic sentence. M'rray stopped and looked over, then answered similarly.

    Jago watched as the two conversed. Jago thought he could make out some of it; their two languages had similar words. M'rray said that he thought that they had started out as the same language and then diverged. M'rray said to Jago, "Edrra asks a question. Days ago, Fraggles yell, run at us, make us go, leave our net. Why?"

    That had been one of the first things Jago had explained to M'rray, once they had the vocabulary to tackle the subject. Obviously she wanted to ask Jago himself. Looking at Edrra, Jago said, "We were afraid. For Fraggles, unknown things are dangers. We frighten things away so they will leave us alone. We should not have done that to you. I am sorry."

    M'rray relayed that statement. Edrra looked startled. She had not expected an apology. She spoke again, and M'rray translated, "You took our fish, not took our net. Why?"

    "We didn't understand that you eat the fish. We only eat plants, and didn't think that people ate animals. We returned the fish to the water."

    M'rray paused, thinking about how to phrase that to avoid the obvious implication: Fraggles thought that only animals ate meat. He spoke carefully. Edrra looked hard at Jago, then nodded in grudging acceptance. She answered. M'rray said, "You will tell Fraggles not bother us. We will not bother you."

    "I will."

    Edrra nodded, then spoke to M'rray for a minute before turning to go haul in the net. M'rray said to Jago, "She said, good you came alone with music. We are ready then to fight Fraggles, but you alone, not dangerous, not need fight."

    Jago thought, he had, without realizing what he was doing, averted a crisis with his music. He had only meant to show them that Fraggles were not crazy and warlike. He couldn't speak to them at first, but music went past the barriers of language and custom. After he and M'rray had played music together, they no longer seemed alien to each other.

    A shout drew M'rray's attention. He glanced at the others who were hauling the net out of the water. They were working hard; the net was heavy with a big catch. M'rray said, "I go help," and got up.

    Jago paused, then set his drums aside. The other creatures watched, shocked, as he went to the side opposite the one M'rray joined. He had watched them pull out the net enough times. They chanted to set the rhythm, and hauled on every third beat. He hauled with them.

    The net was full of flapping fish. Jago stepped back while they quickly went through their catch, placing the big ones in bags of a strange, stiff material and throwing the small ones back into the river to continue their lives.

    *

    Soon the sorting was done. The creatures were picking up to leave. Jago said to M'rray, "Come, visit my home."

    M'rray looked at him in surprise. "To Fraggles home?"

    "Yes. I'd like my people to meet you, the way I met your people."

    M'rray dithered. He had not expected such an invitation. He hadn't really wanted to visit a Fraggle tribe… but what Jago said made sense. Those who had seen Jago realized that he was no enemy, he was a person. If the Fraggles met him, hopefully they'd realize the same thing. He sure wouldn't mind not worrying about being run off again while catching dinner. He answered, "Yes." Then he spoke to the others of the group. They were also surprised. Not upset, however.

    Jago and M'rray gathered up their instruments as the others carried their catch away. M'rray said in a tone of amusement, "They say I am…" He searched for a word, then tapped the side of his head and crossed his eyes. "My head is not right."

    Jago laughed. "Crazy."

    "Crazy," M'rray agreed, grinning.

    They started down the passage leading up to the Fraggles' colony. As soon as they emerged from the steep upward tunnel they heard soft, distant music. Jago stopped. He had not heard this in handfuls of days. Why was it playing now?

    M'rray, seeing Jago's surprise, said, "Fraggles music?"

    "No. Come." He beckoned, and followed the sound. He did not bother to mark his path. Though he was not familiar with these tunnels, he knew their destination. M'rray followed.

    *

    The tune summoned them to a large cave. It was surprisingly well lit for a cave this far from a colony. Most of the stone was covered with living things. One sloping wall was a thick tangle of vines. Ferns and grasses and flowers grew wherever they could take root, and mosses covered the space left over. It was a safe, warm, green chamber dotted with splashes of color in the form of blooming flowers.

    The music was coming from the vines. Projecting from the mass of foliage was a stick that turned into a double spiral, one branch twining around another. It ended, not in a tapering twig or a burst of leaves, but in the bells of a musical horn.

    "What is this?" M'rray asked in a low voice.

    "It is magic. Let's listen."

    The two sat on a softly mossy boulder. The horn played to them. M'rray listened in wonder. Jago did not think; all he was aware of was the music. The first time he had seen the horn he had refused to claim it. Since then, he had occasionally heard its music in the caves, as if it was calling to him, and came to listen to it. Each time it had been a little bigger, its sound richer. It was growing.

    M'rray looked at the ivy. He could see no sign of someone underneath playing the horn. But why would anyone hide under a bunch of vines, making music in case wanderers came by? It was easier to believe that this was magic. The world was full of it. Magic lit the caves; magic made new living things appear; magic opened caves when they were needed and vanish when their role was done. Magic was part of the background of their lives, and they accepted it unquestioningly.

    He glanced at Jago. The Fraggle was sitting perfectly still except for his slow breathing, It was as if he had dozen off at attention.

    The song of the horn trailed away into silence. A voice said, "Have you come for the pipe?"

    M'rray looked around. He hadn't heard anyone enter, and he saw nobody now. Jago opened his eyes, unperturbed, and said, "We came to listen."

    "Now the pipe can only sing its own song. It must join with one who will travel far to learn more."

    "If I join with it, what will it take of me?" Jago asked.

    "Your life."

    Jago had expected that answer. "And what will it give me in return?"

    "Your life."

    Jago nodded. He had refused the original offer immediately, thinking that if he accepted the horn he would die. But that would be senseless. There had to be more to it than that. He asked, "What kind of life?"

    "Your life will flow through the horn, and it will give you its magic. It was made to unite the rock with music. Will you give it your life so it can give you your mission?"

    If he accepted the horn, he would be agreeing to travel with it, playing music in far distant caves. There were people far away… the thought did not surprise him, but it had never occurred to him to wonder about them before.

    To leave his home, with music as his companion and message. To have a message, to have a purpose. To do more than make pretty sounds. To perhaps even change the world for the better, or at least to try. How could he refuse such an offer?

    M'rray watched with apprehension as Jago walked to the ivy, reached up, and took the pipe. With a soft snap it broke off its stem, like a ripe fruit. The voice said, "Play your song."

    His song? He had never thought of any song as being his, but there was one that he had known as long as he could remember. Nobody else sang or played it. He raised the horn, took a breath, and began to play.

    The sound of the horn was bright and clear as flowing water. M'rray thought, this was the sound of music distilled, the sound you heard in your head before you picked up an instrument to translate that tune for the rest of the world. He felt an urge to take out his guitar, but he did not. Then he noticed the vines beyond Jago. The leaves were twitching as if reaching out, and here and there orange flowers were appearing. One by one they bloomed, showing yellow zigzag patterns on their petals.

    When the song was finished Jago lowered the pipe. The voice said, "Look at your left hand."

    Jago did. There was a glowing mark, a zigzag like those on the flowers. As he watched it faded.

    "That is the mark of the pipe. It is yours. It always has been. Now go."

    "I will," Jago said. He slung the bag with his drums over one shoulder. M'rray picked up his guitar. Jago began to play as he walked.

    After a few minutes M'rray said, "You mind?"

    Jago stopped playing and glanced at him. M'rray was holding his guitar, ready to play. Jago smiled and said, "Please do."

    Jago resumed his tune, and M'rray joined in. Together they walked on toward the Fraggle colony.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and Jago and M'rray (under their real names) 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.

  7. charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    Oooh! I like how Jago is realizing that music is able to break down the barriers that were standing between the different species around his colony. I also like the image of the plants growing and blooming as the music plays, it's very pretty.

    Thanks for posting!
  8. The Count Moderator

    So taken the pipe he has, good, his destiny will he follow now.

    Also, I like that this happened when Mrray decided to accept Jago's invitation of going with him to visit Jago's Fraggle colony. For some reason, I have this thought that after he took the pipe when Mrray wanted to join in with his guitar, that this leads to the shortened form of Let Me Be Your Song sung between just the two of them. But we're getting way ahead of ourselves. Hope to read more as to however you continue the minstrel's paths.
  9. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Flowers often bloom when Cantus plays; I couldn't resist the imagery, foreshadowing what is to come. I like to imagine that Ditzies are also attracted to his music, so when he walks the dark tunnels he seems to carry an unearthly glow along.

    The song he was playing was indeed the tune for Let Be Be Your Song. He's had that tune for a long time; he used it in the first chapter. However, he doesn't have the final lyrics yet...

    Regarding Cantus's's's destiny, well, I'm gonna be really pretentious and quote one of my own fanfics: More Power, More Problems, a He-Man fic. Adam tells Orko that he regrets having accepted the Sword of Power and becoming He-Man; he doesn't feel equal to the task. Orko's reply...
    Oh, and I drew Jago. That pic is from the second chapter, when he's playing his chordophone recital.
  10. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 8
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    Jago was still playing the Magic Pipe, and M'rray his guitar, when they arrived at the Fraggle colony. Curious Fraggles, summoned by the unearthly melody, stared in shock at the weird creature who was walking beside Jago.

    M'rray hid his nervousness as best he could. Jago was all right, but the other Fraggles…if they ganged up on him, he'd have to run fast. He fervently hoped that Jago knew what he was doing.

    Jago went to a large, mushroom-like stone formation at the center of the Deep Gallery. Only then did he lower the pipe. Many Fraggles had come, and were staring at the two musicians. Jago said, "I have brought a guest to our caves. This is Murray. His people use the same river we get knife stones from." M'rray gave a little wave.

    People seemed content to come close—but not too close—and stare, so Jago began playing his horn again. M'rray started back up on his guitar. The people didn't seem hostile, he thought, but they were still looking at him as if he was some sort of beast.

    Normally when a Fraggle started playing music in the Deep Gallery others joined in. There was a tongue-in-cheek saying that the only thing more contagious than a song was pebble pox. However, this time it didn't happen. Jago continued playing as if he didn't notice.

    Then he heard the sound of a flute. Both Jago and M'rray glanced up. Other Fraggles looked over in surprise. Striding through the throng was the Tunesmith, Jago's erstwhile teacher, playing his bamboo flute. The musician walked to Jago and M'rray and sat by them, joining their tune.

    After a little while the other Fraggles, seeing that nothing bizarre was about to occur, began to relax. Some wandered away. Sensing that he no longer needed to keep the situation under control with music, Jago brought the song to its coda. For a few moments there was quiet, as everyone was waiting for someone else to speak.

    Finally a young Fraggle pointed at M'rray and piped up, "What is it?"

    "His name is Murray," Jago said.

    "Hi," M'rray said.

    The little Fraggle shied back a little when she heard the creature speak. But she was young enough not to know to stay afraid of someone who didn't seem scary. She said, "Are you a monster?"

    "I'm not monster. I'm Pisca."

    "What's a Pisca?"

    "I," M'rray said, grinning. The little Fraggle didn't get the joke. He said, "People like me, we live in caves near, down deeper, near fast river."

    "Oh," said the little Fraggle. She had to think about this statement, put in the missing words, to figure out what he meant. "You talk funny."

    M'rray smiled wryly and shrugged. "I just begin. I learn."

    Jago said, "He has only been talking to me for several handfuls of days. It takes most Fraggles years to learn to speak."

    "Oh," she replied, very seriously. Then she said "Bye," and scampered off.

    "Kids is same everywhere," M'rray observed.

    Jago said to their audience, "When we first met his people, we were afraid of them, and chased them away. But when I went to meet them alone I found that they are not so different from us. We could not speak together at first, so we communicated through music. The same music that is all around us—in the rushing of water, in the sounds the creatures of the cave make—binding us all together. If we listen, we can understand it."

    The other Fraggles began to lose interest. Jago was a good Fraggle and a wonderful musician, but he had notions that could be called, at best, strange. He claimed that music was in everything. He heard it where nobody else did. He wasn't exactly pushy about his odd philosophy; he never demanded that others agree with him. But he wouldn't give it a rest, even though nobody else was interested. So when he started rambling they simply tuned him out.

    The Tunesmith closed his eyes. It had been going so well.

    *

    Soon after the music was over, people wandered away. It was ever thus. It was all so simple, so self-evident to Jago; why couldn't anyone else, not even one, see it?

    The Tunesmith put a sympathetic hand on Jago's shoulder. Jago told him, "I thought this time it'd be different. Music bridged the gulf between our people and Murray's. I've proven it! Why won't they listen?"

    The Tunesmith replied in a low voice, "They have listened. And they decided long ago they don't believe. Jago, what you've done is good, making friends with one of these Pisca and teaching him to speak. You've done something that nobody else thought possible. But as for the rest of it…you believe what you decide to believe, and others will do the same."

    "I understand," Jago said quietly.

    The Tunesmith patted Jago's shoulder again, then got up and left.

    Jago looked down at the magic pipe for a long minute. Then he said to M'rray, "Let's go."

    They got up, and Jago led M'rray out of the Deep Gallery.

    *

    Jago led M'rray to the small room that he lived in. He had few possessions; his bedding and several other musical instruments made up the bulk of it. The rest was unimportant. Jago said, "I promised to travel with the pipe. I have nothing more to learn here. There is no point in staying."

    "You leave this home? Where to go?" M'rray asked.

    "I don't know. I'll find out when I get there. The point is to learn new songs, isn't it?" He calmly rolled his bedding up and placed the smallest of his instruments in the pockets of his vest. He tied his bedding with twine, then attached a canteen to that.

    "Alone Fraggle walk in deep caves. Not safe," M'rray said uneasily.

    "I believe this pipe will protect me," Jago said calmly.

    M'rray shook his head. Running away from home? He didn't know the words to tell Jago that that was silly and childish. But then, he thought, it was a good thing he couldn't say that yet, because it wasn't true. Jago didn't think the same way that the other Fraggles here did. He was willing to talk to other people rather than chasing them away. He wasn't a fool.

    Jago lifted the improvised pack to his shoulders, slipped his arms through twine loops, and settled it comfortably onto his back. He took a last look around the room, then said to M'rray, "Let's go."

    *

    Jago led M'rray back through the Deep Gallery. En route he found Tunesmith again. Tunesmith noticed his pack and said conversationally, "Where are you going now?"

    "Out there," Jago said, gesturing at the passage that led to the deeper caves. "Tunesmith, I have learned much from you. Without that I would not have become what I am. Thank you."

    Concerned, the Tunesmith said, "Jago, what are you going to do?"

    "I made a promise. I am going to travel through the rock, learning its songs."

    "Who did you make this promise to?" He glanced suspiciously at M'rray.

    Jago showed him the pipe. "I made a promise to the one who made this magic pipe for me. Promises must be fulfilled." He met Tunesmith's eyes. "Furthermore, I want to," he said firmly.

    Tunesmith wanted to argue, but he didn't. Jago was an adult, and no Fraggle had the right to restrain another. Jago continued, projecting so the nearby Fraggles could hear, "When a Fraggle comes of age he may give himself a new name. I claim that right."

    Tunesmith knew the response; he had taken part in this ritual many times. "Who are you?"

    Jago told him, "I will be the song I sing. I am Cantus."

    "Welcome, Cantus," said The Tunesmith.

    "Thank you. And now, goodbye."

    Cantus turned and left, with Murray following. A few Fraggles he passed by greeted him by his chosen name—acknowledging his new identity, as was proper—as they said farewell.

    Once out of the colony Cantus remarked to M'rray, "That was more dramatic than I intended. Ah, well."

    M'rray said, "You are either brave or crazy."

    Cantus smiled. "If you talked to Tunesmith—or any other Fraggle—they'd tell you that I'm harmlessly crazy. As for brave…I'm just brave enough to have faith."

    "Faith?" M'rray questioned.

    "I believe. Even though what I believe seems strange, I still believe. I believe that there are people out there that I have never heard of, and that I can learn their songs and teach them mine." He nodded back to where the Magic Pipe rested on top of his pack, threaded through the twine. "I am not leaving because of my promise to travel with the pipe. I promised because I realized that was what I wanted to do."

    M'rray gave him a long look. Then he grinned and said, "Brave and crazy."

    Cantus laughed. "We'll see."

    *****

    Fraggle Rock, Cantus, and Murray are copyright © The Jim Henson Company and are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Tunesmith and the overall story is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
    muppetfan24/7 and DrDientes like this.
  11. The Count Moderator

    Yay. His name is his profession, as is the custom with the Fraggle colonies. But uh, did you mean to incur in the third person at the end where you say, "Cantus said to Jago" when he and Mrray were leaving the old settlement? Enjoyed that Mrray's species are called "Piscas".
    :coy: A pisca, a pasket.
    Makes sense since they live, in a cave not a van though, down by the river catching fish as their main dish.

    Looking forward to what you decide to post next. :)
  12. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    *edit edit* What do you mean? Cantus was speaking to M'rray, not Jago. Read it again if you don't believe me.
    Heh, I was being lazy and fiddled that word out of French and Latin.
    I have a feeling I'm missing something here. Sounds almost like a Seuss reference. but then, Murray looks kinda Seussian. And so does Cantus. Wonder if he has a star on his belly?
    You won't be waiting long, but it's probably not what you expect. ;)

    I want a Cantus smiley.
  13. charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    It looks like Jago/Cantus' attempt to teach the colonies about the power of music will not be as easy as he thought. I'm glad Murray is deciding to stay with Cantus on his journey, which will surely be filled with some pretty interesting encounters.

    Thanks for posting!
  14. The Count Moderator

    The bit about them living down by the river, that's a reference to the ol' Chris Foley/Matt Foly, Motivational Speaker sketches from SNL.

    So long as it's fic, I'll read it, especially if it's yours. ;)
  15. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    In The Bells of Fraggle Rock Cantus says "[Gobo] may be as determined as he is wrong. I admire that." I took that to mean that Cantus didn't hold it against Gobo that he didn't believe Cantus, and ignored his advice in favor of going on his little crusade. Cantus may have good reason to be sympathetic to Gobo then; you have to search for your own truth, and sometimes that truth is that you're dead wrong.
    The Count likes this.
  16. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Heh, appropriate smiley. Let's just say that Janken finally gets to fulfill an ambition concerning Cantus that he's had for a long time. Scooter doesn't mind; he helps. [IMG]
    charlietheowl likes this.
  17. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Me post more fishy stuff.

    *****

    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 9
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    Cantus and M'rray walked back to the underground river where they had first met. There were no other Pisca there at the moment. They would not come again until two days from tomorrow, as they only fished every third day. Cantus didn't understand why. Dead flesh went foul very soon after it was killed; surely they wouldn't eat days-old fish? The thought was stomach-turning.

    The plank bridge had been pulled back to the other side of the river. Since the Fraggles' attack the Pisca only left the bridge in place while they were fishing; they did not want to encourage Fraggles to cross the river and approach the Pisca colony. Cantus and M'rray jumped across the pinch point where the Pisca strung their net. It was narrow enough that a reasonably athletic adult could leap across, but wide enough, and the water beneath it rough enough, to command respect. Then M'rray led Cantus into a passage at the other end of the cavern.

    Cantus looked around as he walked, uncomfortable with leaving known territory without marking the path. It was hard to suppress hundreds of days of training. He noticed that mushrooms and other delicacies grew large here. Nobody was eating them. Murray's folk must not consider them food. Well, Cantus thought, he couldn't eat fish, but he certainly wouldn't go hungry.

    After a few twists and turns through unfamiliar passages they arrived in a cave that was longer and narrower than the Fraggles' Deep Gallery, but was an obvious communal point. Side passages opened all along its length. Some were curtained over. A small stream ran along one wall, widening into a pool at one point.

    There were also Pisca here, more than Cantus had ever seen at one time. They all looked much the same to him: wiry green furry creatures with round heads and no noses. Their coloration varied slightly, as did their sizes. How did they tell each other apart? Cantus was glad that Fraggles were more distinctive.

    M'rray had decided to get it over immediately. To those who had seen them enter and were now staring with alarm at the alien in their midst he said, "This is Cantus. He's come alone as my guest. Don't worry, he's harmless. He's a musician."

    Cantus heard his name. The rest was a collection of nonsense sounds. From the way the others reacted, first surprise and then amusement, he guessed that M'rray was allaying their fears.

    Some Pisca were approaching. Now they seemed openly curious. M'rray said to Cantus, "We play music now, yes?"

    "Yes." He set down his improvised backpack and took out the Magic Pipe. M'rray took his guitar out of his bag and led Cantus over to the pond. There were smooth boulders all around it, just the right size for sitting on. M'rray began playing, and after a moment Cantus joined in.

    More Pisca emerged from the side tunnels. They liked music, and wondered about the source of the unfamiliar sound. When they saw Cantus they stopped and stared. Fraggles were territorial; they chased away anyone they found near their colony. Recently they had even attacked the Pisca at the river. M'rray had explained that that was a mistake that would not be repeated and had even claimed to have become friends with one of them. M'rray was no liar, but they had found this impossible to believe. Yet here was a Fraggle in their midst! What did it want?

    By the time they finished playing it seemed the whole colony was there. Most of them had never seen a Fraggle up close and were curious. It didn't look warlike to them. M'rray's claim to have befriended one and learned to talk to it had gone around the colony, and had been met with various combinations of surprise and disbelief. Now they were seeing the proof.

    M'rray repeated for everyone to hear, "This is Cantus. He's my guest. Don't be afraid of him. His people won't bother us any more."

    After Murray spoke the other Pisca murmured. Uneasily Cantus asked, "What did you tell them?"

    "I say, you Cantus, my guest. Not be afraid, Fraggles not attack us again."

    "Oh."

    "Not worry. You guest, you safe. This is true."

    Cantus nodded. He could only hope that M'rray was right. These people had no reason to like Fraggles. He would have to give them one.

    *

    They played some more music, and then M'rray showed Cantus to his home. They had taken a length of tunnel and partitioned it with cloth stretched across bamboo frames into a series of rooms with a walkway along one side. M'rray pushed one curtain aside and told Cantus, "My place. When you visit, you stay here."

    The way he said it, it was an offer, not a command. It looked to Cantus to be a bit small for two people, but not uncomfortably so. He replied, "Thank you."

    *

    Cantus stayed there for days. Each time the Pisca saw him they seemed less on edge. He played music for them. He tried to learn their language, but only succeeded in picking up a few basic words. When M'rray was not available to translate Cantus got by on pantomime. He joined a group of gatherers—the Pisca did eat something besides fish, thank goodness!—and learned by trial and error what they considered suitable for food. He gathered plenty for them, and always picked some mushrooms and greens that they didn't like for himself.

    There were places in the colony where he could not go. Mostly that was because they had to do with fish. They brought the fish they caught to a certain tunnel and cut them apart before cooking them. The sight and smell of the carnage sickened Cantus. However, he was surprised to see that they didn't butcher all of the fish right away. Many were still alive when they got them to the colony. Those went into the central pool, which was blocked at the downstream end, Cantus now saw, with a finely-woven net to prevent escape. These were then scooped out with a net on a hoop as needed. That was how they kept the fish they ate fresh. There was one fish bigger than the others, however, and they would not eat that one. M'rray explained that it was Haduma, the colony's pet.

    He and M'rray played music after the colony's one communal meal of the day. Sometimes others did too. They did not join in, however; each took a turn, playing their own favorite tune. When Cantus learned that among the Pisca music was a performance, not a shared event, he was surprised. Even more shocking was the idea that people could claim to own music. How could anyone control who sang a song, and why would they want to? He and M'rray discussed this matter, to the frustration of both. Their basic assumptions were so ingrained in their cultures that they took them as unshakable truths, and they would have found them hard to explain even without the language barrier.

    Eventually Cantus decided simply to accept what he didn't understand. It made no sense to him, but among these people it was a truth. Before he played a Pisca song he had learned he asked M'rray whether it was one of the safe ones. The songs children sang were all safe, and as the children warmed to him they began teaching him their songs. This turned out to be a good thing, diplomatically speaking; who could be afraid of an alien who was often seen playing children's ditties?

    *

    Cantus woke up one morning and wondered how long he had been there. Fraggles rarely kept track of time. There had been three fishing expeditions while he was here. After the most recent one a child had given him a gift.

    He reached back, behind his bedding, and picked up a river-polished stone with a hole in the middle. Stones with holes were rare, and considered significant by the Pisca. The child had shown him how, if you blew across the hole, it whistled. She couldn't explain it to him—he still knew barely any of the language—so she had made an elaborate pantomime to demonstrate. The sheer delight on her face when he had finally caught on still made him smile. In return, he had sung a Fraggle children's song for her and her friends. After he had assured them that they were free to sing along they had all joined in, changing the words to their own language and making each other choke with laughter. He never found out what the joke was, but did it matter as long as they enjoyed themselves?

    He felt calmer now than he had when he had first come here. These people were very different, but he no longer found them all that strange. If he could only learn their language! That was the snag. Murray spoke Fragglish more clearly every day, but Cantus could only learn isolated Pisca words, and if he didn't use them he forgot them. He had to face the unmistakable fact that he had no talent for languages.

    He looked at the stone whistle again, and smiled. This was a pleasant place. But maybe there was a reason he couldn't learn the language. He could not stay here. He had promised to travel with the Magic Pipe. While he was here he had, he hoped, demonstrated to both sides that Fraggles and Pisca were not natural enemies. What more could he do here?

    It was time to move on.

    The thought didn't intimidate him. It felt right. It was what he was meant to do. His time here had allowed him to rest and calm his heart, and now he must begin his mission. Today, he thought as he felt the weight of the stone in his hand.

    He got up, which was to say out of his bedding, and rolled it up, then tied it with twine. He only had a few other possessions, and with the exception of the Magic Pipe they fit into his pockets and bag. M'rray, who had awakened when Cantus had started moving around, said, "What are you doing?"

    "Packing. It's time I continued on my journey."

    M'rray had expected Cantus to stay here a while, until he got over his disappointment with his own colony. It had taken longer than he had expected, but he hadn't minded. Cantus was a pleasant, undemanding guest. Getting out of bed, he said, "Oh. Where you will go?"

    "Out there," Cantus said with a vague gesture.

    "Not to home?" M'rray asked, surprised.

    Cantus said, a faraway look in his eyes, "No. I have a journey ahead of me. I must walk forward, not backward." He met M'rray's eyes and said, "Thank you for having me as your guest. I have learned much here. I will miss you."

    "Today you go?"

    "Yes."

    "After meal. Wait 'til then?"

    Cantus nodded. "All right."

    *

    Cantus half expected M'rray to try to convince him to stay. He seemed distressed about Cantus leaving. Cantus felt the same way, he supposed; he had come to think of M'rray as a good friend. It's hard to leave friends behind.

    However, M'rray had not done anything to try to change his mind. In fact, Cantus hadn't seen him at all. Was he angry, and avoiding him? He hoped not. He didn't want to leave his friend on a sour note. Yet he knew he must move on.

    When the Pisca assembled for their afternoon meal—as usual, fish, with various vegetables and fruits on the side; Cantus ate the plant matter and supplemented it with some mushrooms he had gathered—M'rray reappeared, carrying a tube in his hands. He handed it to the Fraggle and said cheerfully, "Look at these," then went off to get his food.

    Cantus unrolled the tube. It was made of several sheets of some sort of light-colored material, thin and brittle-feeling, yet it didn't crack when bent. On it were shapes drawn in various colors, mostly brown.

    When M'rray came back Cantus was staring at the images. He said, "I make map copies. Everything around here."

    "They're…interesting. What do you do with them?" Cantus asked.

    M'rray blinked. Then he said, "They're maps. What you do with maps?"

    "I have never done anything with them," Cantus replied.

    M'rray stared at him for a moment. Then he began chuckling. "Fraggles don't make maps? Okay." He sat down and placed pebbles on the corners of one to hold it open. "It show you where things are. This is river." He traced a blue line running diagonally through the center of the page. There was a drawing of a fish in a wide spot. "Here, where we fish. And here—" his finger followed a squiggly line leading away from it to an open area—"tunnel from river to Pisca home. Here, this way to Fraggle cave."

    "I see." Cantus understood the concept now. He didn't see the point, though. If you know what's around you, why would you need a diagram of it?

    M'rray showed him the next sheet. "Here, river, Pisca home, Fraggle home." The area he pointed two was only a small section of the paper. "Here, paths. More colonies. Things that grow. Dangers. You see here, you not make mistake, go here where tunnel lead nowhere, just stop. Not go here, rocks fall. You go here, safe path, near water so you don't get thirsty. See?"

    "I see," Cantus murmured. Now he understood. A map was a way to show what was around you even if you'd never been there before. That had never been relevant to him, as Fraggles of his colony did not travel far. Their territory was theirs, and the outside could take care of itself. This was like blaze marks on a cave wall, but it showed you your entire path!

    As they ate M'rray pointed out items of interest on the map. There was another Pisca colony here, and further out they had seen Fraggles and other people. Patches where edibles grew were also marked, as were good fishing spots and pools where, with a little luck, sweetwater could be found. By the time they finished they had plotted a course for the first leg of Cantus' journey.

    Cantus rolled the maps up. M'rray said, "When do you leave?"

    "I planned to leave now."

    "Wait." M'rray held up a finger, then went back to the tunnel where he made his home. He came back with a roll similar to Cantus', his bedding and guitar.

    Cantus said, "You are coming too?"

    M'rray replied, "Yes. One Fraggle alone in caves, not safe. Two, much safer. And…" He cast about for words; it was hard to express some things in a different language. "I think you are right, pipe is right. Share music, meet other people, learn and teach. I believe too."

    Cantus smiled. "Those are good reasons."

    Cantus slipped the maps and his pipe under the twine bindings of his pack and raised it to his shoulders. M'rray did the same. Cantus asked, "Do you need time to say your farewells?"

    "I did that already," M'rray answered.

    "In that case… let's go."

    The two went out the east passage, as plotted on the maps. As they did M'rray said, "More reason I come. I like you. And I want to see what crazy Fraggle does next."

    Cantus laughed.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock, Cantus, and Murray 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.


  18. The Count Moderator

    That was enjoyable to read.

    Yeah, who would be afraid of an alien singing children's ditties. Unless it ends up being one of those creepy aliens that mothers warn their children about. Sorry, didn't mean to go there.

    Good that Cantus and Mrray are bonding during their time at the Pisca colony and even now as they leave with maps showing them the way.

    :sing:
    The greatest adventure, is one that lies ahead.

    More please?
  19. charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    It's interesting to see the differences between the Piscas and the Fraggles and Cantus' reaction to them. I found it a bit strange that Cantus didn't initially understand the idea of the map, but I guess their colony does not have the traveling itch found in the Great Hall colony.

    Excited to see more of their travels!
  20. Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The Count: Notice how Cantus seems to do better when he doesn't talk? His own colony thinks he's a bit squirrelly. He won M'rray over, and changed some minds in the Pisca colony, without preaching because of the language barrier.

    charlietheowl: Maps? Cantus didn't even recognize paper! His colony is not big on writing things down because they don't have much to write on. Cantus probably could write something down if he had to, but it's not a common thing to do. You're right, they don't have much urge to explore and travel. Who cares what's out there? It's the colony that matters.

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