A Gift of Acorns

Mouse skipped along the bank of the river, awkwardly clutching a pair of acorns. The foraging had gone well this evening; he had found a few young carrots (safely stored in a tree at the edge of the purple meadow), a perfectly ripe strawberry (eaten), and these two acorns which he planned to bury in the floor of his den.

“Good evening,” said a voice as he passed through the long shadow of a holly bush. “I see that you are rather full of acorns.”

Mouse stopped and looked up to see Mantis, head cocked as she stared down at him. He let the acorns fall to the muddy bank, and waved. “Oh yes, foraging was very good today. These are all I can carry, but there were even more acorns where I found them! I’m planning to go back tomorrow.”

“That is good news,” said Mantis, “for I had very little success myself, and am quite hungry still.” She caught one antenna in the crook of her arm and licked off a piece of dust. “I don’t suppose you need both of those acorns?”

Mouse thought for a second. “Oh, I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m just one mouse, after all.”

He plucked one of the acorns from the mud and carried it to the base of the holly bush. “I’ll just leave it here, and you can get it when you’re ready.”

“Thank you,” said Mantis. “When we share, the stars shine with us.”

Mouse collected the remaining acorn and scampered downstream toward the dead willow in the distance. “I’m not sure what that means,” he called over his shoulder, “but I’m glad!”

The next evening, Mouse was passing below the holly bush with an armload of three carefully balanced acorns when a prickling of the fur caused him to glance up. “Hello,” said Mantis from above.

“Hi,” replied Mouse. He slowed his already careful stride, but continued walking.

Mantis hopped gracefully along the holly branches to keep pace. “That appears to be a very awkward collection of goods,” she said. “It would be a pity if you dropped them and they all rolled into the river.”

“It would, I suppose,” said Mouse.

“So,” said Mantis thoughtfully, “it would be prudent, I believe, to share one with someone else who might need it.” She flitted to another branch. “Then you can easily arrive home with the remaining two instead of losing them all!”

Mouse stopped walking. “That does make sense,” he said. “And besides, two is probably enough. I’m just one mouse, after all.” He carefully set the acorns down, making sure to keep himself between them and the river. “Would you like one?”

“I normally wouldn’t,” said Mantis, “but I have found the day to be brimming with scarcity yet again.”

Mouse pushed one acorn toward the holly bush, then gathered the other two and resumed his trek back toward the dead willow. “Well, more starshine for me,” he almost joked. But he didn’t want to seem uncouth.

It was with trepidation that Mouse approached the holly bush on the third day. The supply of acorns had been picked almost completely clean over the last few days, and he was returning home this evening with only a single one.

Sure enough, Mouse could see that Mantis was already perched on a low branch directly above his path—a spindly shadow against the orange disk of the setting sun.

“Hello Mantis,” said Mouse in what he hoped was a confident manner.

Mantis tilted her head, focusing (Mouse was sure) on the single lonely prize he carried.

“Before you ask anything,” he said, “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been thinking.”

Mantis cocked her head to the other side.

“And,” he continued, “this foraging is quite a lot of work, actually.” His left ear twitched.

Mantis said nothing.

Mouse squeezed the acorn. “So I’m sorry, but this is all I have today, and I do actually need it. Even if I am just one mouse.” The acorn sunk deeper into his fur. “I know sharing is good, and… and there’s the stars and things, but there’s also something right and good about going into the world yourself! To run through the thickets and fields in search of food, and then to return to your own comfortable den knowing that you’ve done what you could… and that it was enough.”

He paused and met Mantis’s unblinking stare. “I don’t begrudge you,” he said, “but just imagine the joy you could have by finding your own acorns to eat!”

Mantis stood unmoving for a few long moments. Then she turned and began making her way back up the branch, toward the interior of the bush. “Don’t be an idiot,” she said, disappearing into the tangle of holly leaves. “I can’t eat acorns.”

Drama Under the Sea

Anne flipped around in a flourish of phytoplankton. “Gurnsby!” she hissed. “You get out of here right now! I will not have my Seriatopora invaded by a thuggish deeplife such as yourself!”

The driftwood club wavered for a second as its owner’s grip became even more indecisive than before. “Howard promised at least seven—”

“And you’ll get them. High tide isn’t for two more days, and the extractions are coming along as well as can be hoped.” Anne spun back toward inner darkness of the coral. “Until then, go away and let us do our job. And take that mollusk-basher with you.”

Science Fiction!

Joyce glanced back at the altimeter for probably the hundredth time. “Are you sure about this? There’s, like, miles of solid ground, but we have to use this… floating… thing?”

“You saw the engraving. It was quite clear on that point.” Nick checked a dial. “Barbican waves are as low as they’re likely to get for the next twelve hours; let’s do this.” He reached for a reddish-orange lever, and the landing booster roared to life.



"Graaak!" It replied, eyeing the proffered fruit with what could only be described as a mixture of trepidation and wily insolence. Howard had already wandered on ahead (probably assuming the earlier tremors to be largely coincidental), which left me longing for the intimidation his swarthy mustache could have lent the situation.

The Majestic Hydrorse


Colloquially known as the “swamp stallion”, this aberration of nature boasts the nastier sides of both parent breeds (horse and hydra), with none of their redeeming qualities*. Despite this fact, however, hunting it is expressly forbidden in most countries. (Though most cryptozoologists agree that this is for the sake of each country’s citizen-count rather than a protective measure for the beast itself.)

*Granted, the hydra of legend had no redeeming qualities and seemed possessed of only a single large nasty side in the first place, but the statement is still technically correct.

Tales of Edna Weatherspindle

Tales of Edna Weatherspindle

One of the first recorded “umbrella warriors”, not much is known about Edna apart from what is described in the famous volume, Tales of Edna Weatherspindle, which focuses particularly on her life-long battle with the necromancer Dalsfveg.

She apparently took up the umbrella at quite a young age, and was instrumental in the defense of her town from a roving band of undead poultry. This event solidified the fame of both her and her umbrella “Sleetbane”, and probably marks the origin of her surname. Afterward, Edna essentially took on the duties of a knight errant, wandering the land and delivering swift and spiteful justice as needed. In fact, age seemed not to dampen her fortitude, but instead intensified the aforementioned swiftness and spitefulness until there were scant few evildoers who would not run screaming at the sight of a flowing pink nightgown and raised tangerine umbrella.

Attempts to place Edna within the context of the greater historical timeline are never conclusive, but most scholars believe we can at least target the Middle Ages with a decent amount of certainty. (The fact that the “black plague” is mentioned multiple times is less helpful than it sounds, as this was probably just a reference to the exploits of the Crowmonger during Edna’s childhood.)

More Edna Weatherspindle »

Also: Edna in the Umbralite Archives »

Illustration Friday: Legendary

Edna Weatherspindle: Legendary

Cresting the hill, Edna glared at the unsightly hordes below as they glimmered sickly in the light of the new dawn. With a well-practiced flourish, she pointed Sleetbane to the sky.

“Dalsfveg!” She bellowed to the lone horse-bound figure protruding from the sea of reanimated corpses, “I warned you of the consequences, and yet here you are!” She stood taller in the saddle, silver hair whipping in the wind as if it had urgent business to the North. “And now,” she continued, her voice taking on a harder edge, “I am quite displeased.”

With that, she spurred her mount into the multitude of green bodies, followed in a headlong stampede by the Army of Nine Villages.

This, the last meeting of Edna Weatherspindle and Dalsfveg the Necromancer, was that of which legends are made.

-Excerpt from Tales of Edna Weatherspindle

More Edna: The Walrus Incident | Another Exceprt

Arachniturkey Historically

Arachniturkey: Medieval

Though our knowledge of the arachniturkey is mostly derived from modern-day accounts, there is some evidence that suggests it was also encountered in earlier times, making the common accusations regarding its inception (such as gene-tampering and toxic waste dumpage) somewhat of a moot point.

Take, for example, this medieval woodcut depicting a vicious attack on an unlucky wanderer by a beast which we can only assume to be an arachniturkey. Even though there are a few inconsistencies in relation to what we now know of the animal, such things can easily be attributed to a combination of symbolism and the likelihood that the artist had never actually seen the creature firsthand.