MY ADVENTURES IN ERF
PART TWO OF MANY
DONALD HARRY ROBERTS
LOL. I can hear you thinking; “Yah sure, here we go with the dragons or monsters or some other kind of mythical wicked nasty beast.”
Well you don’t quite have it right.
What I saw hovering over the castle was a humongous bird that was all blue and white and not at all strange to me except its size. A bird I have always been amazed by. It was a Great Blue Herron. The most beautiful bird I had ever seen. I saw four at my grand fathers place in the woods.
It circled over the castle several times then majestic gracefulness it banked east and flew of into the growing darkness.
“Will it come back?” I asked Mr. Ruffus.
“It comes round now and then, when Farmer Armstrong beckons it.” The dog answered.
I looked all about for a long while as we strolled casually toward the castle. Finally I asked. “Where on Earth am I?”
“Well. You are not on earth, exactly. This is Erf, The Kingdom of Erf to be precise and this region is Rolling Downs. Farmer Armstrong is the Overlord.”
At that age I only had a vague idea what an overlord was and it was not particularly good. The word itself sounded ominous. I think Mr. Ruffus sensed my concern and quickly added.
“As Overlords go he is fair enough with his tenants.”
“Are you a tenant?”
“Lordy loverbugs I should say not. Animals are not tenants or servants. We live among Twoleggers because it is convenient. In turn we provide them with small services.”
“Are there many Twoleggers here? I inquired. The answer was disturbing.
“Where there is one Twolegger there are whole villages. Farmer Armstrong is a rare bird since there is only him and his wife and they only have three off springs. Most mated ones have at least seven and up to twenty.”
“You make us sound like rats.”
“Not even close. I love rat. They are actually quite tasty.”
“You eat each other?” I responded with surprise.
“Not all Fourleggers he are intelligent, Rodents for example. And bugs, for the most part.”
“So if an animal can’t talk then they are open game?”
“Crudely put but not inaccurate.” Mr. Ruffus replied.
A few seconds later I heard Ruffus chuckled. He was joking with me. He finally said. “Most Humans that live here came here like you. They fell out of the sky with no idea how. Farmer Armstrong came nearly fifty years ago.”
I laughed and scratched Mr. Ruffus’s ears and he let a low growl escape his muzzle. So continued as we walked along.
I decide that Erf might not be a bad place to be if I had to be somewhere else besides home. But I was mystified how I got there from a pin pity in down town Trenton. To this day I never found the answer.
We came at last to the wrought iron gate entering the castle grounds. It was attended by two giant bears which I later learned were of the Kodiak family.
They nodded officially at Mr. Ruffus and pulled the double gate open with ease and silence. Not a squeak or creek though it was obvious they had hung there for countless years, generations maybe.
“Do bears talk?” I asked when were well on our way along the green way arched by enormous oak, maple and elm trees.
“They can if they have a mind to but bears are more thinkers than talkers and only speak when there id something worth saying, except for cubs who never shut up unless sound asleep or eating.” Mr. Ruffus answered in a most amiable way.
We passed out of the canopy of trees onto a half moon shaped staging area where several carriages were parked, each drawn by magnificent golden draught horses. The carriages were worthy of royalty gilded in gold, silver and various gems in a rainbow of colours.
Standing by each of the carriages were men clad in uniforms that reminded me of hotel doormen. They were all chatting and smoking long stemmed pipes with carved bowls, many of which were images of mythical beasts.
“Farmer Armstrong must be an important person. More important than his title would indicate.” I noted remembering that Overlords by any other name were Lords of The Manor, earls and Viscounts, Marquis and even dukes. Thank you Miss Ruckstal.” My fourth grade social studies teacher.
“Well favoured would be a better analogy Donald. He is well known for his hospitality toward travelers, especially of royal descent. I believe he has visions of one day being more than an Overlord, but such things can take a life time to achieve.” Mr. Ruffus explained thoughtfully. “Does that go for dogs and cows and roosters?” I queried?”
“We animals are what we are but we do have our own hierarchy among the different species. I for example began as a shepherd’s dog fresh out of puppyhood but was not long in learning the bettering of Farm Security. Now I command twelve guard dogs and someday, well, I may reach the station of Alpha.”
We came to the bottom of the steps leading up to the massive oak doors of the castle entrance way. I counted 39 steps and wondered if that was significant remembering that 39 was part of the numerical sequence advancing to 13 x 13 which then equals 169.
I shrugged my shoulder and began the ascent with Ruffus lagging a step or two behind. I wondered why since he had been right at my side until then.
I counted the steps as we climbed and much to my weariness discovered that they numbered 169. But when I reached the top I counted them again and only got 39.
I quizzed Ruffus about this but now he would not speak.
Next he dropped to walking on all four paws and that intelligent glint in his rich golden eyes dimmed but did not completely fade.
Two guards stood at the door. They reminded me of two of the three musketeers and I was tempted to make a joke but thought better of it when one glared at me, then Mr. Ruffus, who lowered his head subserviently.
When the doors opened and we began to enter the castle one of the musketeers stepped in front of Mr. Ruffus. “You were told not to return until you apologies for insulting The Earl Of Sheepland.”
“I did, profusely.” Mr. Rufrus replied in a low unfriendly growl.
“Leave him be.” I said forcefully. He is my escort and you will treat him with respect.”
The guard frowned but nodded and stepped back. “Yes My Lord. As you will.”
When we were inside and had a moment alone I said. “That was interesting being called My Lord. What does it mean?”
“You will see soon enough Donald, Donald Harry Roberts.” Ruffus replied then added, I mean My Lord Donald, Donald Harry Roberts.” There was a strong hint of humour in his tone.
“Now what do we do?” I asked quite loudly, glancing about the foyer curiously.
“You come this way.” A voice came out of a shadow. “It was a soft purring voice owned by a Lioness of such a golden hue upon her fur that I felt blinded for an instant.
Thus ends Part Two
Now Watch for Part Three of Many
Which I am already working on.