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Fraggle fic: The Minstrel's Path

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

  1. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    I like the explanation that Murray gives for numinous, the idea that you're just part of the world at large and there are forces that make it go around. That's definitely something that happens in the rock.

    Also like seeing Brio's desire to join the Minstrel gang. Thanks for sharing!
  2. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks, guys, glad to have given you a smile.

    Heh, what with all the furor in the forum, it's a relief--for me, at least--to spend some time in the happy, innocent land of the Fraggles. And Doozers, and Pisca, and Thrumb, and whatever Brool is. Where money is unheard of and people say "I swear to be fair" and mean it.

    I love the "Silly is good" quote. I've used it in several fics, and it's even the title of one (the story with Boober and the sock puppet). It's just a cool quote.

    Heh, I'm half expecting someone to get miffed at me for including a verse of Let Me Be Your Song (with one line altered for imagery). But, well, you know us volatile creative types, we just gotta live dangerously. Besides, that song always sounded just a touch innuendo-ish to me. That probably says more about me than it does about the song.

    In my little Fraggle world, various colonies have different customs, but there a lot of common themes. Some have a celebration ala The Festival of the Bells that serve the purpose of keeping everyone's spirits and energy level up through the bitterest part of winter. Fraggle Rock has a whole mythos around that festival. Others may just consider it the worst part of the year, and who wants to celebrate suffering through cold? And certainly other colonies will have other festivals at times that are important to them. Fraggle Rock considers the full moon to be important because they can actually see it. Lower-down colonies will have other things based on the rhythms of life around them. Nearly all will have something to celebrate the mating season, which, besides its importance in creating new life, is also a whole lot of fun!

    I have such fun writing the dialogues between Cantus and Murray. They bounce off each other well, and I get to show what's going on in Cantus's's mind. Sometimes I get confused as to which one's the straight man, though.
  3. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 14
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    Cold wind blew through the tunnels between colonies. It was uncomfortable, but not yet dangerous. Cantus and Murray still had days to travel before they would have to shelter for the winter.

    They were not far from their destination. They had a set of colonies they visited, most less than three days' travel apart, many closer together than that. During a rest break Murray remarked, "The Doozers could set their clocks by us."

    Cantus looked up. "What?"

    "Just thinking. It's become a routine. We go to the colonies in a loop, in the same order, two days from this colony to the next, then a day and a half to the next, and so on. If we stayed the same time at each one, we'd be like a clock."

    Clocks were one of the many amazing little devices of the Doozer colony on their circuit. Doozers made little boxes that played music, other boxes that wove cloth, and even boxes that turned time into numbers. Cantus understood the principle, but found it pointless. What good was numbering time? When you're tired, it's time to rest. When you're hungry, it's time to eat. When it's dark, it's time to sleep. That was meaningful. Counting time was…well, very Doozer-like. Cantus said, "Routine, eh?"

    "Yeah."

    "Perhaps we ought to do something about that."

    "I didn't mean it that way. Just talking."

    "Mm-hm."

    *

    They continued on when they were rested. Cantus stopped at a dark side tunnel that they had passed by every time before and peered in. He tilted his head, listening. Then he made a blaze mark with a bit of chalk and entered. Murray followed. He didn't know what Cantus was up to, but he trusted his judgment.

    Cantus said, "There are people this way."

    "Yeah, I know."

    Surprised, Cantus said, "You can hear?"

    "Nah, my ears aren't as good as yours. But look here."

    Murray pointed to an image on the tunnel wall. It was a stocky-looking creature standing upright and holding a line in one hand. Murray brushed his hand over it. The lines were grooved into the stone. He said, "Huh, carved in." Usually cave pictures were painted on. It took a lot of work to chip into the stone itself. Yet it was just a single creature holding a stick. Go figure, he thought as they continued past it.

    *

    They passed by more images, all variations on that theme: squat things holding sticks. Some were alone, some were in groups. They were all scratched into the stone. Someone really wanted to make a point. Murray had no idea what that point was.

    They were in an open cavern, examining a mural, when they were startled by a sharp clack between themselves. A bamboo rod clattered to the ground. Cantus picked it up. Its end was a sharp, fire-hardened point. It had only been slightly blunted when it struck the rock.

    Murray looked back. It must have come from behind a cluster of boulders. Cantus turned and, spear in hand, stalked over to the boulders. He went around one side; Murray took the other. Sitting behind it was a husky, furry creature with nasty-looking fangs. Cantus brandished the spear as if to stab with it, and screamed. The creature roared back, and scrabbled around for something to throw. All it could find was small pebbles. It flung those at Cantus, startling but not hurting him.

    The standoff lasted less than a minute. The furry creature ran out of breath and, curiously, made no move either to attack or escape. It backed against the boulders, ready to defend itself with its hands and feet. Well, one foot; the other leg was stuck straight out and didn't look very mobile. Cantus, spear still raised, said "Why did you throw this at us? We've done no harm to you," in a tone of reproach.

    "Give me my spear and leave me," it—he—snarled.

    Cantus replied, "No, I don't think so. You might throw it at someone else."

    Murray squatted down. "That leg looks bad," he observed.

    The creature startled—he had not seen the Pisca—and swatted at him. Cantus rapped the offending arm with the pole, then pulled it out of reach before the creature could reclaim it. "Stop that. We are traveling minstrels. We harm nobody. Are you injured?"

    The creature snarled, "Leave me alone!"

    Cantus shrugged. "Have it your way."

    Cantus walked away. The creature shouted, "Give me back my spear!"

    "We will be resting in this cave. I see no need to give you a second shot at us."

    Cantus walked back to the mural. Murray followed him and said, "Now we know what the pictures meant. Watch out for these guys, they have spears and nasty attitudes."

    "Yes." Cantus set the spear against the rock wall and took off his pack.

    "What's on your mind?" Murray asked.

    "He was frightened of us, and angry. He is also injured and weak. Perhaps we can convince him to accept our help."

    "How are we gonna do that?"

    "I will build a fire. Go catch some fish."

    "Right."

    The creature watched, cautiously peeking from behind its boulder shield, as Murray went to the stream that ran through the cave. He bent down and seemed to feel around in the cold water, moving very slowly. Then he abruptly lifted out a fish with his bare hands. It flopped around until a rock ended its struggles. Soon a second fish joined the first, and he walked back to the mural.

    The creature had to pull himself over farther to see the campfire that the Fraggle had built. The pain in his leg, which had faded to a dull ache, flared up and made his eyes sting when he moved it. He watched as the Pisca warmed its wet limbs in front of the fire, then spitted the two fish on sticks and set them to roast over the fire while the Fraggle wandered about, looking for grazing fodder.

    When Cantus returned with some fruit and mushrooms in hand, Murray murmured, "He's been watching us."

    "Yes."

    "Why don't I go have a word with him. I think it'd work better with me than you."

    Cantus nodded. "Go ahead."

    Murray picked the fish up by their sticks and walked over to the boulders. He said, "Hey. Are you hungry?"

    He held out one of the fish. The creature grabbed for it. Murray let him snatch the fish away. He juggled the hot fish between his hands for a moment before getting a grip on the stick. Then he tore in, burning its mouth in the process.

    Murray munched on the tail end of his fish, which was cooler. The creature was either stupid or starving. From the way he was wolfing the fish down, Murray was inclined to guess the latter. If he was injured, he might have been here for some time, unable to feed himself. If he was an herbivore he'd have found some sustenance here, but judging from his teeth he was a carnivore. Murray waited while he decimated the fish.

    When there was only a stick and some bones left Murray said, "What's your name?"

    "Brool." It sounded like a growl.

    "I'm Murray, and over there's Cantus. You're hurt, right? How long have you been out here?"

    "Two days."

    "It's too cold to hang around that long. Look, we got started off on the wrong foot. Come over and get warm by the fire, no screaming and throwing things, okay?"

    Brool wanted to refuse, to fight this irritating scrawny thing. But he also wanted to live. Left out here by himself, he would die of exposure. He was already weak. He said, "All right. But I can't walk."

    "We'll help." He stood up and beckoned. "Hey, Cantus."

    Cantus put down the spear—he had been ready, just in case—and walked over. The creature had calmed down, though he still didn't look friendly. Murray said, "Let's get him to the fire."

    This took some effort. They could carry him easily enough, as much of his mass was fur. However, touching his lower leg caused him terrible pain. In the end Murray held him under the shoulders and Cantus supported his backside. It was awkward, but it got him there. They set him by the fire. Murray went back to the stream. Cantus began examining his leg. "Where are you injured?"

    "Here." Brool tried to bend and point, but that hurt too much. He compromised by gingerly touching his good foot to his shin.

    Cantus carefully ran his finger down the front of the bone. There, he could feel the swelling halfway down. The bone continued on straight, so it wouldn't have to be set. Which was good, as neither he nor Murray had ever set a bone before. They knew the basic first aid and other techniques necessary for survival between the colonies, but that was out of their league He asked, "Was it broken two days ago?"

    "Yeah."

    "It seems like a clean break. It needs to be kept straight to heal." Cantus took the spear, compared its length to that of Brool's leg, then broke it over his knee into three pieces. Then he emptied the pockets of his vest, took it off, and wrapped it around the spear pieces and Brool's lower leg to form a splint. Brool winced and clenched his fists as Cantus tied it into place with some of the twine from his pack.

    By the time he was done with that Murray had come back with another fish and spitted it to roast over the fire. Then he sat and warmed his cold, wet limbs again, hoping that that was the last time he'd have to go into that icy water today. Brool was calmer now. Well, Murray supposed, he attacked them because he was scared and helpless. Which seemed like a stupid reason to attack someone as opposed to keeping quiet and letting them walk on by, or, better yet, asking for help.

    After a while Murray took the fish out of the fire and held it out to Brool, stick first. "Here. Don't burn yourself this time."

    "Thanks," Brool said in a low voice, and began eating.

    Satisfied that the situation was well under control, Cantus picked up his magic pipe and began playing softly. Murray looked up, then, what the heck, he got out his guitar and joined in the tune.

    Brool stared. They were huddled around a campfire out in the middle of nowhere, and they were playing music? The pipe spoke with an unearthly double voice. Murray's guitar was strangely shaped, but the sound was familiar, and oddly comforting. It relaxed him enough for two days' worth of fatigue to overcome him, and he fell asleep.

    *

    Brool awoke very early the next morning to find that he was still alive and had not been killed in his sleep by alien creatures. Said creatures were in their bedrolls, asleep around the cold ashes of the fire.

    He could get away from them now. He could sneak away, crawling on his hands and one knee…but why? What for? Where would he go, even if he could get far enough before they woke up? He closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

    *

    A little later Brool woke up when Cantus and Murray began stirring. The two yawned and stretched, then got out of their bedding and rolled it back up. Brool looked at his leg, and realized that it didn’t hurt. For the first time since he broke it, it didn’t hurt. The splint had kept it still enough for the pain to fade. That couldn’t last, though. They wouldn’t be here for long. As soon as he moved, he'd feel it.

    After they packed up Cantus said, "Where is your home? We will take you back there."

    Brool said, "No! I can't go back."

    Murray said, "What, because of your leg? We'll get you back."

    Brool shook his head emphatically. "Leave me here."

    "If you stay here alone, you will likely die. What makes going back home so unpleasant compared to that?"

    Cantus's oh-so-reasonable tone irked Brool. But he could see they wouldn't leave him alone until he explained. Reluctantly he said, "I was on a First Raid. My third one."

    After a long pause Murray said, "And?"

    Brool glared at him. "Who could go back after that?!"

    Cantus asked, "What's a first raid?"

    "Don't you know?"

    Cantus said, "We have visited many colonies throughout the rock. Some customs are shared, and some are unique. This is one we have not heard of before now. What is it?"

    Outsiders! Why should Brool explain the basics of his people's lives to these creatures? Because, he told himself grimly, he needed them now. He said, "I have to make a raid on another tribe and come back with something. When I do, I'll be an adult." The two Minstrels waited for him to go on. Grimly he said, "This was my third try. I only lived because they chased me away, then left me like this. If I go home, I'll be a child. I failed three times. Who gets a fourth chance?"

    Cantus and Murray were appalled. What kind of people were these, that made someone attack another people alone to prove his adulthood? Cantus asked, "What will you do, then?"

    "I don't know. Go somewhere else."

    Someplace you've already tried to raid, and failed? Murray thought.

    Cantus said, "We travel between colonies. It may be that you will find things that interest you if you come with us."

    Murray looked sharply at Cantus. Was he actually inviting this creature to tag along? How could he follow them when he couldn't even walk? But he said nothing, because he knew it would be futile to object. And, well, he didn't want to leave this guy behind to perish, no matter how bad a first impression he had made.

    Brool said nothing, but Cantus could see that he was interested enough to listen. He continued, "The colonies we visit are mostly Fraggles. They are kind people—to those who are kind in return."

    Brool knew a warning when he heard it. He said, "I'm in no shape to fight. I was never much good at it anyway."

    "Do you want to be?" Murray asked.

    Brool shrugged. "It doesn't matter. I'll never be a warrior now."

    Cantus said softly, "You can be whatever you decide you will be. You could be a battler. You could be a traveler. You could hide, or you could learn. You must make yourself. Starting now."

    Brool stared at Cantus. The Fraggle looked calmly. Brool said, "I can't do anything now."

    "That, too, is a decision."

    Brool shook his head. The Fraggle made no sense. He glanced around and saw their packs. Each had a bedroll and an instrument. Cantus's strange pipe and Murray's guitar. Last night's music hadn't been a hallucination. He said, "Can I see that?" indicating the guitar.

    "Okay," Murray said, sounding not entirely comfortable, and slipped it out from under the cords and handed it to Brool. Brool touched the strings with his fingertips. The notes were in different place, but the principles were the same. He sounded out a snatch of the tune he had heard while half asleep.

    Cantus and Murray exchanged surprised glances. Then Murray grinned. Somehow, music seemed to figure into everything they did. Cantus said, "Do you have a guitar?"

    "I did. But I gave it away before my first raid. Music is for children."

    "That's messed up," Murray said.

    Cantus said, "You may play your life long if you wish. Music is for young and old alike."

    Brool didn't know how to answer that. He had given up the possessions and pastimes of childhood, yet three times he had failed to prove himself an adult. Now adulthood was out of his grasp, and music was a poor boobyprize. But beggars and children can't be choosers, he thought. And these creatures, weird though they were, were kind enough to feed him and splint his leg. There was only one thing to do: throw himself on their mercy. He said, "Can I follow you?"

    "Yes," Cantus replied.

    *****

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

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Yay... Another minstrel joins the team. Surprisingly enough, I can see this entire backstory playing out as you've presented it. Brool, the brooding failure of a warrior having to accept the minstrel's path out of blunt pragmatism. But hey, there are worse things to be than a traveling minstrel. And there's still one more left to meet on the journey. Thanks for posting.

    BTW: You forgot Murray in your acknowledged copyright footer.
  5. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Brool's origin isn't quite through. At the moment the plan is to convey him to a colony where his leg can be properly seen to, and he can shelter for the winter. After that, it's up to him.

    At the moment Brool doesn't have the right attitude to be a Minstrel. Anyone can sound out a tune, and it takes more than musical ability in any case. He's xenophobic, he's defensive, and he thinks that music is for children and the elderly. His people are a cluster of tribes in a constant feuding state (frequent small battles, but they'd never actually try to exterminate each other) so his outlook is going to be very different from those twerpy everybody's-my-buddy Fraggles.

    Someone actually reads the copyright notice? I'm impressed!

    For anyone interested, I based Brool's origin on his verse of Music Makes Us Real (Ping!) from Mokey and the Minstrels:
    Every time I turned around​
    All I heard was battle sounds​
    'Til the Minstrel way was found.​
    Music makes us one!​
  6. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Thought his verse was the inspiration for Brool's backstory. I'm interested to read what you do based on Balsam's portion of the song.
    Yeah, Brool's not part of the group for realz yet, but he's been introduced and that's what counts. *Awaiting to read more.
  7. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Balsam's verse makes him sound kinda derpy. Maybe he's a goofy little comic relief character, the Orko of the group.
  8. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Aargh! Don't mention that around me please. If anything, he'd be more like a Gomer Pyle.
    *Scurries away.
  9. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    Glad to see another Minstrel introduced to the crew. Brool's personality is interesting so far; like the Count said, he's basically traveling with Cantus and Murray right now because he doesn't have any other options at this point. I think that his failure in his tribe, combined with his injury have made him a bit depressed, so I'm not surprised he's defensive and downbeat at this point. Perhaps his attitudes will change with some more time on the road.

    Thanks for sharing!
  10. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Yes, we're definitely not seeing Brool at his best. This chapter says more about where he came from than it does about him. He'll develop, thankfully. He's not a child by any standard but that of his tribe, and he's good to have on your side in a fight, especially if it happens to be a fight with a poison cackler.
  11. mostlikemokey

    mostlikemokey Active Member

    I like how Cantus makes all those wordy speeches, but when Brool asks to join them, he only says, "Yes". He may give wordy advice, but only to those ready to receive it.
    Do I sense foreshadowing?
  12. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Cantus likes to puzzle people and make them think. He gave Gobo a big puzzle in The Honk of Honks, because he wanted Gobo to make the connection himself; you learn when you find your own answers, so that's how Cantus teaches. Brool doesn't need testing, he needs help, so Cantus's message is that all is not lost despite his failure, and he can take his life in another direction, and they will help get him on his feet again. So when Brool dropped the tough act and asked for help, Cantus agreed clearly and unambiguously.

    When you're suffering from an injury you don't need obfuscation, you need reassurance. Of course, when he's better Cantus is free to baffle him all he wants!
  13. mostlikemokey

    mostlikemokey Active Member

    Yeah... I wonder how Brool will take it?
    Still can''t wait for Brio! No clue why. She'll probably come more towards the end, as she'd have to leave her whole colony behind.
  14. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Mostlikemokey, you might want to read the previous chapter before this one then. *:fanatic: innocent whistle.
  15. mostlikemokey

    mostlikemokey Active Member

    oops. Sometimes my computer acts up and skips pages on alerts. Guess It doesn't like Brio.
    *whistles back* Nobody saw that!
  16. mostlikemokey

    mostlikemokey Active Member

    Sorry to double post, but would the Midsummer Ritual baby be the green Fraggle girl Janken meets briefly in A Wandering Heart?
  17. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    What didn't nobody see?

    And, no, Tchia's child won't be Clio. I did toy with that idea, but decided against it with some regret after I figured that Cantus has to be geographically far away from Fraggle Rock at this point in the story. Clio lives in a colony not too far from FR. You'll know when you're there by the soda-straw stalactites above the Fraggle pond.

    (Count, you get bonus points for the Walter whistle.)
  18. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    A li'l teaser...

    "Is everything music to him?"
    "You get used to it."
    DrDientes and charlietheowl like this.
  19. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Hee... :dreamy: "Little's" the word for it all right.
  20. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    What could make Cantus forget about music, even for a moment?

    *****

    The Minstrel's Path
    Part 15
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    Spring had finally declared its intention to stay. The icicles had melted, and the stream no longer grew ice around its edges in the night. Green things were pushing out of the ground and cracks in the rock walls. The breezes blowing through the tunnels were pleasant, not chilling.

    A Fraggle healer was examining Brool's leg. He probed through the thick fur, feeling the shape of the bone and muscle underneath. Brool sat quietly, watching him. So did Murray.

    The Fraggle, this cave's healer, said, "Is it still itching? Or stiff?"

    Brool replied, "Not any longer. It's just weak."

    "You haven't been out of the splint very long. It'll be weak for a while, until you build it up again. But don't try to do it too quickly. Walk without a stick as long as you can, but when you get tired, use it. And if you feel sharp pain, stop."

    "I will," Brool said, with minimal annoyance at the instructions he had heard a dozen times already. He was healing from a broken leg. He owed his quick recovery—and very likely his life—to the Minstrels who had come to his aid despite his having thrown his spear at them, and to the Fraggle healers who had treated him without asking who he was or where he came from. It was strange, and, as time went on, a little humbling. Earlier on he would have called these Fraggles naïve and foolish, but they lived uncomplicated, happy lives without worrying about raids or status or much of anything. In winter they shared everything, even body heat, so that everyone would benefit. If that was naïveté, the world would be happier with more of it.

    The healer said, "You don't need me. Your leg is healing well, and by summer you'll have forgotten which one was broken. I'm going to see how Tchia is doing."

    Brool said, "Thanks," as the healer gathered up his things and left.

    Murray, who had observed without commenting, said, "It won't be long now. Got any plans?"

    "Not yet," Brool replied.

    "We can find our way back to where you came from. If you wanted to-"

    "No!" Brool snapped. Lowering his voice, he said, "I won't go back there."

    Murray leaned back lazily, his hands behind his head. "Isn't there anyone you miss?"

    "Yeah. But…I told you, if I went back I'd be a child again. For the rest of my life."

    "Mmm."

    "And…I like it out here. I want to see more."

    "You do," Murray said in a tone of voice borrowed from Cantus.

    "The people out here are so different. Not the people by themselves, but when they're in groups." He didn't know how to put it into words; he wasn't as articulate as Cantus or Murray. As individuals, Fraggles were not that different from his kind. He had met Fraggles that reminded him of people he'd grown up with. But as colonies they behaved very differently. The tribes of his kind lived in a continual low-level feud, whereas Fraggle colonies happily coexisted if they were close together, and ignored each other if they were far apart. Why couldn't his people be like that? The longer he lived out here, the more insane it seemed.

    Brool said, "I want to find a new home. The places we've visited so far are nice, but they don't feel like home. I want to travel with you Minstrels until I find a home. I won't slow you down any more."

    "We're not in a rush. Well, we were hurrying this time, but this was a special case." Murray grinned. "It sounds fine with me. Cantus calls the shots, of course. You can ask him, but first you'll have to get his attention, and good luck with that." Now Brool grinned back.

    Normally Cantus and Murray traveled a long, unhurried loop between Fraggle colonies. They got to each when they got to it; they were on no schedule. However, this time Cantus had been adamant about their destination. Brool had been the slowest of the three, and he had expected they would leave him behind in a Fraggle colony, but they hadn't. And, to Brool's credit, he had been useful along the way. He knew how to convince the beasts that lived out in these tunnels that they would not be an easy lunch. He could have killed one, but neither Cantus nor Murray would let him. All they needed was for it to leave them alone. If they wouldn't eat it, then killing it would be a waste of a life, they insisted. Brool still couldn't believe that they would care about a Poison Cackler.

    At least he had proven his worth as a warrior, to himself at least. Cantus and Murray—well, they appreciated not being slaughtered, but they were more interested in his ability to pick a tune on Murray's guitar. Why was that so special to them? Anyone could do that. Certainly any Fraggle could, and furthermore they would whether you wanted them to or not. Fraggle colonies were like a hive of children.

    And yet...he enjoyed making music. Now that he had given up all hope of being a warrior, he could admit to that guilty pleasure. It might be frivolous, but, when he looked back at it from a distance, it was much better than the constant feud between the tribes where he came from. It did no harm and brought pleasure. And the Fraggles valued it highly, and honored Cantus. Either the Fraggles were crazy, or Brool's people were. Well, Brool had decided who he would rather live with.

    A young green Fraggle, who had been hanging back while the healer examined Brool, came over to them, carrying a board. She plopped down crosslegged by Brool and said, "Try this."

    Brool looked at the "this." The board had bars attached to each end. When set on its back, the bars stuck up. She had strung cord between them. He plucked the cords with the tips of his short, blunt claws. Her face lit with a smile. She said, "Are the cords too close together?"

    He plucked the cords some more, the strummed them. "No, that's fine."

    "Good!" She picked up the board and hustled away.

    He watched her go. When she had heard that he liked to play guitar but had to borrow Murray's because he did not have one of his own, she had decided to make one for him. Despite her youth, she had gone about the task very seriously, even configuring the placement of the cords to fit his large hands. It was hard to believe that she expected no payment, that Fraggles did things like this simply because they wanted to. They could be generous without even thinking of it as generosity.

    Murray said, "She does fast work, but it'll still take her days to make it."

    "Will we still be here by then?"

    "Oh, sure, don't worry about that. If I know Cantus, he dropped word to her that you needed a guitar in the first place."

    "Yeah." Cantus loved music. It was, as far as Brool could tell, the driving force in his life. Of course he would want those traveling with him to have instruments.

    Cantus appeared. His fur was dripping wet. He beckoned to them and said urgently, "Come to the warm spring!" Then he left again.

    Murray hopped to his feet and hurried to the smaller cave that housed a spring that ran warm even in winter. He pulled back the hanging that covered the door and went in, with Brool behind him. The spring was only large enough to accommodate several Fraggles. Now four were in the water. Tchia was sitting at the side, looking very tired but pleased. A small yellow boy, her son, was by her. An older female was tending to Tchia. And, in her arms, was an orange-furred newborn.

    Cantus sat by Tchia, his legs in the water. Murray squatted at the edge and looked at the infant. All babies looked generic for the first year or so, no matter what their species, but the soft, downy fur extending down its arms and legs was a dead giveaway as to its parentage. Grinning, Murray said, "Good work, boss."

    Cantus replied, "I cannot take the credit for this. I merely hummed a tune. Tchia took that tune and turned it into a song."

    Yeah, right. Then why do you look so smug? Murray thought, amused. Well, Cantus had every right.

    Brool murmured to Murray, "Is everything music with him?"

    "You get used to it," Murray replied.

    Cantus heard them, but he didn't care. He was admiring the little orange Fraggle who had just come into the world. It was hard to believe it was real.

    Tchia had been through this once before, and recognized the symptoms of baby thrall. She would have liked to just sit in the warm, comfortable water and cuddle her new child, but she was exhausted and had not slept in much too long. She said to Cantus, "Would you like to hold him?"

    "Yes," he said softly.

    She raised the baby off her chest, holding the tiny body in one hand and supporting the head with the other. Carefully Cantus took him the same way. Instinctively Cantus held him to his chest, covering the wet fur with his hands. Out of the warm spring he could become chilled; infants were not so resilient until they grew a bit.

    Blindly, because his eyes would not open for several more weeks, the baby pressed his face into Cantus's fur. Cantus felt the warmth of his breath, saw his little body expand and contract as he breathed. The tiny limbs and tail twitched gently, aimlessly.

    The child was so light in his hands, Cantus thought, yet in that tiny body Cantus could feel the immeasurable weight of the future.

    *****

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


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