Poxig awaits trial

Nothing could dissuade him from standing trial. They might put a noose around his head, but they couldn’t take his pride. King Charles remained aloof, and would not describe the reason for the solipcism. He begged for messages from the jailer, but could get nothing. Time was against him. Every passing day was another day that he could be executed.

To make matters worse, he was alone. John had been released, and he did not know why. He was alone with his thoughts, which kept swirling about in his skull. He began to talk to himself inside the jail cell. The food had gotten worse. Nonsense pervaded his head.

Night after night, he kept waiting for word from Er. Seljuk, but he was beginning to think that he was not going to intervene. He was the king’s coadjutor, and so his first loyalty was to the king and not to him, and certainly not to elves. Their bias against the elven race was well known to Poxig.

There was a ghostly howl of wolves outside the chamber. Suddenly, the gaoler opened the door and motioned for Poxig to enter. The time had come for his death. Nightmarish thoughts of his end began to trouble his mind. Now he had to face trial, and perhaps execution, and for what? He had done nothing wrong.

Poxig awaits trial

Poxig’s train of thought

There were no more nights of sleep. Each night, eyes stitched open, Poxig awaited his ultimate fate, which was possible execution. He did not see what was necessary for survival, only saturated nonsense pervaded his psyche. By this time, he should have been exonerated, and yet, here he was near the gallows.

There was no longer the need for courage, since his mind had retreated into itself. All that John and Poxig could do was stare at each other; no words were spoken. Poxig remained tethered to his hope that at some point he would see daylight, but until that day, he would fend off the melancholy of this isolation.

Poxig knew he was innocent. But now he thought of whether it was possible to suffer for a higher purpose. This was the manifest content of what could be labeled as a “prayer.” Although he had never prayed, he realized that certain events were not in his control. In this dungeon, prayer was the only thing that he could focus on. Relying on Releven, instead of his ephemeral thoughts, seemed to be the only path forward.

Somehow, he would see further than his own temporary chains. These were the four walls of his freedom. He no longer lived an external life, but bent toward the introspective. He remembered the Latin phrase: “saecula saeculorum.” Time outside of time.

Poxig lost in thought.

John Carr’s idea

The jail cell was dank, dark, and cramped. Condensation on the walls convinced Poxig that he must be in some sort of grotto. He could hear the shouts and shrieks of other prisoners in the cell block. John Carr paid them no mind, but he beckoned to Poxig to draw nearer.

“I know of your great exploits,” continued Carr, ” and of how you converted the great vampire to the light. Master control, of whom I have deep knowledge, has told me of this.”
Poxig wondered how this could be so. He had hardly told the mage of his life at all, and he knew about Conrad and his son. Perhaps there was something to this ersatz magician.

“He has brought us together, because he knows of your great deeds. “
“I’m afraid none of these exploits you refer to will gain us egress from this cave,” replied Poxig.

“Nevertheless, we are kept here for master control’s appointed purpose. You and I will see the daylight again.”
“I envy your optimism, but I’m not sure you are correct, sir,” said Poxig.

“Once the king learns that we are light warriors, he will grant us freedom,” Carr retorted.

“But until then, the light grows dimmer, and our food grows stale,” said Poxig.

The day turned into night as the two discussed the possibility of escape. A red mage could scientifically pick the lock with a ‘epingle’ , but the pin might cause a noise that would rouse the guard. Then, of course, there was a greater problem of trying to leave the dungeon. Heavily armed guards were around every corner, and without weapons, they couldn’t overcome them.

In the back of his mind, he was sure that Er. Seljuk had heard of his capture, and was trying in some way to secure his release. But Poxig reasoned that Er. Seljuk’s loyalty to the king made it difficult to oppose him, and perhaps that was the reason that he could not get his aid.

In the back of his mind, he was sure that Er. Seljuk had heard of his capture, and was trying in some way to secure his release. But Poxig reasoned that Er. Seljuk’s loyalty to the king made it difficult to oppose him, and perhaps that was the reason that he could not get his aid.

“Perhaps we ought to find the ‘sanctus descendit,’ and give the mole a chance to emerge from his hole,” said John.

Poxig could no longer believe his foisting of his magic art.

Poxig and John Carr in the gaol.

The Nonsuch Wizard

In his jail cell, Poxig met an impish old man.

His hair was green and spiky, and he wore a purple coat. His boots were long, and his pockets were inside out. He stood watching Poxig as he was led into the chamber.

“Well, elves don’t deserve this imprisonment. You plarts deserve much worse,” he said.

“What… might … be the purpose of impugning my race?” Poxig retorted.

“You must have offended the king, ” said he laughing, ” or else you wouldn’t wind up here.”

“Who might I have the pleasure of meeting in these less than auspicious circumstances?” asked Poxig.

“I am John Carr, the red mage, ” said he, “I was brought unbeknownst to my friends for criticizing a king. I am sure no one knows of my whereabouts.”

“You must be guilty of some nefarious act to be here,” said Poxig. “I have done nothing.”

“Ah… they all say that. I have been here two months & everyone says that they are innocent.”

“Well, I am! And I will be vindicated when my friend emissary Seljuk hears of this.”

“Well good luck sir. I practice both black and white magic, but in order to keep the balance, I cannot use it to extricate myself from this jail cell. I’m afraid we are trapped.”

The discussion continued that way all through the night. John Carr would propose his innocence, although admitting to criticizing the king. It would seem that something united the destinies of this elf and human magician. Yet, there was no real way to know if John was a charlatan, since he could by no means demonstrate his qualifications as a red mage.

“I’m not sure that I’d like to be associated with a red mage that can’t do magic,” said Poxig.

“Suit yourself. But I have been here two months. Who knows how long they’ll keep you?” replied John.

“I have a friend on the outside,” said Poxig.

“If he hasn’t come for you yet, there’s a reason,” said John.

Poxig stared at the gentleman with a skeptical air. It was possible that Er. Seljuk had not heard of his capture. But something told him that John Carr was right. Perhaps if he were to side with Poxig, he would lose the king’s trust. Of course, Er. Seljuk would never allow that to happen. Poxig grimaced when he thought of how long he could molder in this dungeon.


Then, Poxig of Excelsior got a premonition that for some reason, the orb might be in danger. He decided on a whim to bury the orb behind the graveyard in Marginalia. The stars were out, and the moon was high and round. Poxig left the company of Er. Seljuk and took a spade behind the graveyard. It was quite terrifying, even though Poxig was not superstitious, he was still very much afraid in his mind. The barn owl hooted in the distance. He could feel on his shoulders the weight of the dead who had passed through that gateway from which nobody ever returned. He buried the ORB and now sure of his safety, returned to the Inn.

As he opened the door, he saw a detachment of soldiers sneak up beside him. They pointed their halberds toward him. “Halt where you are you elvish scum!” said one of the guards. Poxig knew that he could not resist such military force.

“Where is Er. Seljuk? He will vouch for me,” shouted Poxig

But Er. Seljuk was nowhere to be found, and Poxig was at his wit’s end. The soldiers put heavy manacles on him, and led him away to the town prison.

“what have I been accused of?” asked Poxig.

“Thou hast been charged with dissembling against the king!” one police officer shouted.

“You must stand trial by noon tomorrow.”

“This is all some mistake!” said Poxig. They brought him to a clay-brick building, where a shadowy jailer with a hooded cloak stood guard nearby. He looked all around, and the suzukibs were a-chattering in the trees. They seemed to mock him and his fate. Poxig tried to focus his energies on the trial.

Staring into the void

There was a lull in Poxig’s mail the following two weeks. He looked in vain for a response to his letter, but he held out hope that he would eventually reach the ear of the king. This started a very dark time in Poxig’s career. He could no longer verify his status as a wayward soldier of fortune. In fact, he was thinking of simply going back to singing as a bard and earning his bread as an entertainer.

It became an issue once he decided that the king’s response was rather unlikely. Ought one to hold on so tightly to one’s dreams when their likelihood of occurring was so slim to none? There are some dreams that dissipate in the air, others that are forgotten after waking, and still others that have yet to be realized. Poxig had the sacred orb, but his mission still eluded him. How he wished for the time when he slew vampires with Lakfi.

He felt that there were fewer options nearer possibility. The king would probably not grant him an audience, and if not, he would have to take action. But he was not yet motivated. His brown study continued into the next week. He would need to gather multi-colored stones to assuage his feelings of failure. Different red, blue, green, and yellow ones were his moods today.

He remembered a bistro that he had eaten in in Proxima across the Sillionage mountain range. He was ready to eat his bologna and cheese sandwich which was his very favorite when a thought occurred to him. What if destiny was simply a feather in the wind, rather than a waterfall coursing into the riverbed? This he thought on his way back from Eyrrf. He had always thought that events led to a penultimate happening, but now he was beginning to doubt that philosophy.

No matter his rhetorical questions, something bothered him. What would he do if he didn’t have a mission from Releven? He would continue to ignore that possibility, and seek his fate among the wicked banshees in the Marsh cave. Perhaps there he would find a purpose beyond his own trivial preoccupations. There were things known only to Releven that he could not decipher with his limited powers of perception.

Poxig doubts his destiny, but endures.

The letter

Poxig could no longer toggle with his emotions. He had to reach the ear of the king. So he sat down and wrote a few paragraphs with all his might. (Not that he was feeling better, but that necessity implored him to try.) He sat down at the emissary’s writing table, and began to compose.

“Dear Most Glorious King Charles the First,

It is with great adulation and much fanfare that I solicit your help on a problem that besieges the kingdom of Marginalia. The imp population is swelling, and time is growing short. With each day, the ranks of Garlang’s army grows stronger. But there is a cessation to this waking nightmare, which is the arrival of the ‘light warrior.’

You may have heard of the prophecy foretold. “Four warriors will arrive, each carrying an orb.” I am one of the warriors who is to come into the world, for I bear the sacred orb. Harnessing the power of this orb can, in the hands of the right sage of wizardry, reverse the effects of the rotting of the earth, which is coming on our land due to the increase of wickedness.

Grant me the audience that I desire, and I will fight to erase this evil from Marginalia for good. I come from Elvira, but I have lived here for a long duration. I have traveled long and now return to my homeland. I am from Excelsior, the village of the jack-a-boots. Now I return home for one last mission, should I get the ear of the king.

Time is of the essence. You must accord the light warriors with their sacred mission, and thus restore the right with the people of Marginalia. Without the aid of the circle of sages, no good will come of this mission. But if we are to have their support, then even the ire of a zombie dragon would not stop our intrepid search.

Yours sincerely,

Poxig of Excelsior”

Poxig was forced to wait for the king’s reply. Each day he would wait by the river canyon and glare at the castle in hopes of reaching the king. But for now, he would have to wait. Only Er. Seljuk’s work would bring his message to light.

Only Poxig and the three heroes could conquer the wretched of the earth.

Poxig is ill

Poxig was not feeling well. Ever since he went to Er. Seljuk’s tree house, he felt ill. Fortunately, there was a bed where Poxig could recover. He knew that he had to write a letter, but he did not know how. Er. Seljuk was supposed to teach him. The emissary was convinced that Poxig was a hypochondriac.

“I’ve had a doctor come by and examine you, and there’s nothing wrong!” noted the scholar.

“My head aches, and my feet hurt, and I can’t get out of bed,” said Poxig. “At least, not today.”

“We really should get started with your letter to the king…” Seljuk noted, almost as if to himself.

“Well, it can’t happen today, because I’m sick…. Maybe tomorrow,” Poxig said while moaning.

“Take some my herbal medicine,” said Er. Seljuk. “We’ll start in the morning if you’re feeling better.”

“I feel like my head is a swarm of angry bees,” replied Poxig.

That night it was almost impossible to sleep. The clockwork owl was hooting outside, and Poxig was suffering from insomnia. He knew that he was close to his goal. But sometimes the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Poxig could not bear to lift his hand to put pen to paper, but he knew that he had to. It was a race against time, and there was no certainty that his letter would reach the king. Yet, if he didn’t get up nothing would happen.

“Time is not your ally,” said Seljuk, “The king’s next audience is soon.”

Poxig couldn’t help but believe that Releven had put this burden upon him in order to test his will. If he were to write to the king, he would need to make the most assiduous efforts to get his attention. The king had not stepped outside his chamber in 20 years. This did not inspire Poxig’s confidence that he would get an audience with the king.

However, he remembered the Latin phrase from his time with Jongleur: “Qui annuit manu fortissimum est.” He who winks has the strongest hand. He would need to play his strongest hand if ever he could reach his goal of becoming the guardian of the orb.


ESL & Composition Pedagogy


All of these sources have to do with English as a Second Language (ESL) learners in the classroom. Many of our composition students will be approaching English as a Second Language, with a fairly developed L1. For these students, the teacher needs to be prepared with the recent theory on L2 instruction and focus on form. Not all of the sources are written for the purpose of FYC, but many of them have overlapping themes and ideas that dovetail, because all composition teachers are also language teachers to some extent.

  1. Bachman, Lyle F. and Adrian S. Palmer. Language Testing in Practice. Oxford University Press, 1996, pp.317-324.

This has relevance because of testing practices in the classrooms. It is primarily concerned with finding the correct Target Language Use (TLU), and writing reliable tests that accurately measure the construct that you are testing for. This is the reason we principally write rubrics in order to grade our assessments. We want to make sure that we are measuring the correct TLU. Recently, Georgia State University | Perimeter College nixed the ESL language test in favor of giving the regular entrance test to all students. Predictably, the enrollment went down.

-> We need to make sure that our TLU is correct in First Year Composition (FYC). <-

2. Wardhaugh, Ronald. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Blackwell Publishing, 2006, pp.26-57.

Wardhaugh wrote a rather exhaustive study of the relatively new field of sociolinguistics. In the work, he makes a distinction between a dialect and a patois. A dialect has a rule-governed grammar that can be codified. A patois may be spoken but have no literary output. Generally, a dialect is higher prestige, but a patois less so.

-> Dialects of English such as African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) should be treated as such. It is not bad grammar <-

3. Kachru, Braj B. and Cecil L. Nelson. “World Englishes” Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching. Edited by Sandra L. McKay and Nancy H. Hornberger. Cambridge UP, 1996, pp.71-102.

English as a language has more teachers that do not speak it as a mother tongue than teachers for whom English is a native language. Thus, there are many World Englishes that have developed, where English is used as a lingua franca, or a language that helps cross linguistic boundaries. Kachru’s circles have become de rigeur in the field of ESL. He saw three primary circles. The inner circle includes countries where English is the primary language, the outer circle is where English is a secondary language used in government and law, and the expanding circle is where the influence of English is felt in a country that speaks a different language.


-> FYC teachers should be aware that students may come from the  outer circle or expanding circle.<-

4. Selinker, Larry. “Interlanguage.” IRAL – International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, vol. 10, no. 1-4, pp. 209-232.

Larry Selinker’s seminal paper in the field of Second Language Acquisition discusses the term that he coined: “interlanguage.” This describes the intermediary language between a student’s L1 and L2 that is usually fossilized, and therefore will never resemble a native speaker’s pronunciation. The argument of Selinker in the paper is that interlanguage forms are unavoidable. The goal of the ESL/EFL instructor is to minimize anxiety about speaking the L2, not to eliminate all non-standard forms.

L1 <—————————————————–(you are here)->X————————————->L2

-> ESL students in the FYC classroom may not be capable of perfect pronunciation or grammar. Think about your encounter with foreign language! <-

5. Schiffrin, Deborah. “Interactional Sociolinguistics.” Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching. Edited by Sandra L. McKay and Nancy H. Hornberger. Cambridge UP, 1996, pp.307-328.

The key subject of Schiffrin’s article is the work of two primary sociolinguists in the field John Gumperz and Irving Goffman. Gumperz defined the concept of social interaction in terms of sociolinguistics. One primary concept is that of face. It is defined by Gumperz as “the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact.” Really, ESL students are trying to save face in the classroom by using nonstandard forms, especially AAVE.

-> Students who use AAVE are not trying to defy you as a teacher, but are trying to preserve their face<-

6. Fishman, Joshua. “The Impact of Nationalism on Language Planning: Some Comparisons between Early Twentieth-Century Europe and More Recent Years in South and Southeast Asia.” Can Language be Planned? Sociolinguistic Theory for Developing Nations. Edited by  Joan Rubin & Bjorn Jernudd Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2018.

Fishman’s article touches upon a number of concepts, some of which are not relevant to FYC. But his focus on “ethnic authenticity” is important to point out. Third world countries use this for language planning: they will teach the language that is “ethnically authentic.” If you don’t think that happens here in the U.S., see about California State congressman Ron Unz’s proposal to eliminate bilingual education in favor of ‘English only’ classrooms.

-> The reason why we may hyper-focus on certain grammar forms may be because of our idea of ethnic authenticity<-

7. Matsuda, Paul Kei. “Teaching Composition in the Multilingual World: Second Language Writing in Composition Studies.” Exploring Composition Studies. Edited by Kelly Ritter and Paul Kei Matsuda. Utah State UP, 2012, pp.36-51.

“Another possibility, which is more deeply rooted in the history of U.S. higher education in general, is the myth of linguistic homogeneity, in which the state of English monolingualism not only is considered an ideal goal but has already been taken for granted” (Matsuda, 37).

Discussing the history of U.S. higher education, Paul Kei Matsuda demonstrates a shift from parochial privileged education to mass education. Along with this development, one must grapple with the ‘myth of linguistic homogeneity,’ or the idea that there is but one standard form of English that we must teach. Composition classrooms are increasingly becoming multilingual, and teachers have to reflect this change in their pedagogical choices.

-> There might be more than one form of English that you wish to address in the FYC classroom<-

8. Larsen-Freeman, Diane. “Teaching Grammar.” Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language.  Edited by Marianne Celce-Murcia. Heinle & Heinle, 2001, pp. 251-266.

“If they knew all the rules that had ever been written about English but were not able to apply them, we would not be doing our job as teachers” (Larsen-Freeman 255).

FMU chart

I use this chart from Larsen-Freeman incessantly as an ESL teacher.

-> Helping students improve their linguistic repertoire is a central aspect of ESL and FYC respectively.<-

Going to meet the man

Poxig had reached an impasse. He had to reach the king’s attention and be granted a royal audience in the king’s chamber. But the only way that he could get there would be to see the royal envoy, the king’s messenger Er. Seljuk. He had to leave the messier mental space in order to see the man.

He walked up to the loft where the man lived. He saw a clockwork owl floating around overhead. “Whoot hoot hoot! Who are you? ” screeched the owl. Obviously, this was some sort of machine answering service. The loft was a sort of treehouse, and there was a rope up to a landing. Inside, hopefully, he would be able to meet the king’s envoy.

Poxig did not feel like talking to a machine, so he kept quiet. He ignored the unruly bird’s mechanical cries, and ascended the ladder rope that led to Er. Seljuk’s tree house.  He made it about halfway up, and then saw Seljuk peering down at him through the trap door.

“Who goes there? Why I haven’t seen elven folk since the religious wars! Who might you be?” said a surly old man.

Poxig demurred. He wasn’t used to meeting someone vertically. He much preferred horizontal relations in general. He sat beside the clockwork owl, who was now perched on a limb.

“I have to see you. Rumor has it that you have direct access to King Charles. I have to see him with an urgent request,” Poxig intimated.

“I serve the king. But no one has been able to access the king’s inner chamber since he was locked inside some 20 years ago,” replied Seljuk.

“I must see him. I have the sacred orb that belongs to the light warriors,” Poxig returned.

“Why should I listen to you?” asked Seljuk.

“I am the son of Realto, the chosen warrior of the Elven diamond!”

“So, you are the son of Realto. You do have his likeness.”

“Then, you can tell me how to get an audience with King Charles…”

“Not with the king, but I might be able to help you reach the king’s gaze, if you are the best letter writer.”

“Any way I can get there is the best.”

That night was a sultry one in Marginalia. They talked over the details of the letter that Poxig would write in his own hand. The night turned into day as the two acquaintances sealed what would become a lasting friendship. They shook hands and then agreed to meet in the evening to discuss the next step.