At Mythgard they are in the midst of fundraising and, for bit of funding fun, have instigated “Almost an Inkling” flash fiction contests. There’s still time to enter the last two contests, this week’s being poetry, and next week is the speculate and sub-create contest. Each of these micro fiction contests has its own specific word limits. We’ve had Portals, Dragons, and Minute Mysteries.
I participated in two previous contests, Minute Mysteries and Twitter Fiction. I’m hart soar to say I did not place in any category with my minute mystery. This is admittedly deserved as I did not strictly follow rules. However, as you’ll see in reading below and then comparing, my fiction did not measure up to the quality of content, crafted serendipity and precision of the winners. See the first video on the contest page linked above for rules. Other videos talk about the winning fictions. “The Five Dun Herrings” is not off topic for our blog because a Maine fabled kingdom of Norumbega has been included in this little story. It is not my actual entry but a story composed then whittled away to reach the word count for the nano fiction contest.
The Five Dun Herrings
Sir Cheep-i-peep the chipmunk cried out, brandishing his tiny sword. “Word has come down that a venture is taken on the acorn cache for his Majesty’s autumn feast! We must at the bottom of it at once! Quick, able companions! Descend with me to the cellars ere the miscreants escape by tunnels, or may we obtain clues left behind of these cowardly curs!”
Not to be outdone, Elvina roused Simone and Theodora to follow with her after the stubby tail and whisking rump of the little blowhard (as she thought him). (Chipmunk tails are not to be compared to the long elegant tails of mice.) These three mice scampered after Cheep-i-peep. Wee swords and a dagger glittered among torch-lit tunnels of his Majesty’s great mossy castellated rocks. Castles in this fabled kingdom of Norvmbega were aloft in many trees, vast, twiggy and many chambered, but its cellars, like all such, were underground, hidden beneath great ancient stones.
“No telltale trail of acorns leading from the cellers…? wondered Elvina.
Scrabbling wildly, Simone squeaked. “What do we need swords for—looking for clues?” Clearly she failed to grasp the import of Sir Cheep-i-peep’s command.
“Maybe we should put them up and get out a magnifying glass,” slobbered Theodora round her dagger gripped in tiny teeth.
“But should not we proceed quietly, so as not to warn the culprits?” Simone, being youngest had gathered courage to speak her timid mind.
“Poltroons!” Cheep-i-peep cried distantly, below. Tiny torches widely spaced about the twisting tunnels, the knight was deep within the cellars. “Be ready on the instant to fight the dastards who dare disturb the Sire’s great festivities at hand!
“Hush now!” He hissed, stepping to one side of an opening before the first of many acorn cellars. Sir Cheep-i-peep halted, sword a’glitter in his paw, the others peeping round his portly girth and furry shoulder.
There, before them on the stone, sat the King, his furry back to them, great fluffy tail curled above his golden crown askew. They could see the flourish of his quill-pen just beyond his shoulder. Distinctly they heard the scratching pen—and crack of nuts, evidence he was munching as he wrote. Suddenly he turned to eye them, jeweled crown a’wink in candlelight.
“What! aren’t you out chasing thieves?” he said. “Have you disobeyed my orders? Have you come down to watch me write?”
“But, your Majesty! we thought…! —They said…! ”
“Oh, it’s just a bit of work on thinly disguised fan fiction, Sir Cheep!” The King’s white whiskers quivered. “I’m sorry to have sent false words of stolen nuts. Perhaps that was a trifle much to gain seclusion. Can you forgive me? There’s a good chipmunk.”
“But your Majesty! You dare not enter the contest with that! The judicial court will question your integrity! They will surely say poltroon!”
On his 1529 map of America, the Italian explorer, Girolamo da Verrazano, labeled the unexplored areas south of Nova Scotia as Oranbega, a world of unknown origin evoking a land of untold riches.
By the mid-sixteenth century, Oranbega had become Norumbega, a legendary settlement in the coastal area we now call Maine. French explorer, Jean Allefonsce, reported finding a great river, “more than 40 leagues wide at its entrance… full of islands, which stretch some ten or twelve leagues into the sea… within the river there is a town called Norumbega with clever inhabitants…The land of Norumbega lies high and is well situated.” It gained a reputation as a lush city of riches and mysticism and the legend lasted well into the 18thcentury. The idea of the mythical land called Norumbega captures the mystery and beauty of the Maine coast.
Samuel de Champlain searched for Norumbega in 1604 and believed he had found Allefonsce’s river in the form of the Penobscot, which he called “the great river of Norumbega”. He sailed as far as the rapids at what is now Bangor, Maine, but finding only villages, his and subsequent maps deleted reference to Norumbega as a town, region, or even river. Most historians have subsequently accepted the Penobscot region as Allefonsce’s source for Norumbega, though the matter was hotly contested by some nineteenth century antiquarians, who argued that the name should be identified with their own river or region.