The locket

Since Poxig and Lakfi set out from the great library, all had gone wrong. The Eyrrfish poets were finally authorized to publish their publication in Eyrrfish. Of course, Brad Conrad was the editor. The only reason that they found this out was because Lakfi hypnotized a villager and forced a confession from him. These were dark arts that he controlled.

Now, they entered Eyrrf with trepidation. These people were half orcish, and so it was likely that they would be arrested and tried in a kangaroo court. The houses were built into the side of the mountain and they were surrounded by brush and very hard to see. Poxig found himself amongst a maze of underbrush and underground caves.

Brad was sitting underneath the ‘alpha’ tree, just as Jongleur’s sequence had predicted. He was reading a volume lost black magician lore, turning the pages with mild amusement. He looked every bit to be his father’s son, except for the vampire  teeth.

Poxig motioned Lakfi over to the alpha tree. “We’ve found him!” he exclaimed.

“Excuse us, but are you Brad Conrad, son of Carl Conrad?” he asked.

“Who told you about me?” Brad questioned. Brad looked visibly irritated. He shut his book and began to walk in the direction of the forest.

“We’ve come all this way because of a promise that we made to  your dad!” Lakfi shouted.

“How did you find this place? I came here to not be found!” rejoined Brad.

“Please stay awhile, sir,” said Poxig.

“Don’t try to inveigle me! I know this forest well, and I can live here quite safely for some time!” Brad yelled as he was moving away from them.

“What about this?” Poxig withdrew the locket from his vest. “Do you recognize this?”

Brad stopped and turned about face. He inched closer to them in order to get a glimpse of the locket before his eyes. It was as if he had never seen such a curio like that one, except that he appeared to be transfixed on the object.

“I haven’t seen this in twenty years!” he said.

“It belonged to your father, Carl,” Lakfi said. “He gave it to us just before he expired in the sun. Your father wanted you to have it.”

“I left home long before he became a vampire,” Brad said. “In fact, I never knew my father but as an honest man.”

“He came to see the error of his ways, and now he dwells in the halls of Releven,” said Poxig.

“We have endured  much hardship so that we could fulfill a promise to your father. But now that it is done, tell us why you have come to this charnelhouse of evil,” said Lakfi.

” It was after some time, when I left home because we had had an argument. Father and I couldn’t see eye to eye. He wanted me to take over the manse on the hill, and be its proprietor, and I wanted nothing but to set out on my own and fulfill my destiny as an Eyrrfish poet,” said Brad.

“Aha! So that is why you are here amongst the heathen!” said Lakfi.

“Yes, so to speak. I came here on the eve of my father’s birthday, determined to stay and write in Eyrrfish. It was then that I secured a copy editor job with the local newspaper, and I have worked my way up to the position of editor.”

“Well, then, you have done well for yourself. But you know that these Eyrrfish publications only publish fake news,” said Poxig.

“Your father would still be proud to see what you’ve become,” said Lakfi.

“Please take this,” said Poxig, handing him the locket. “We promised your father.”

Poxig felt such glad tiding in the midst of the Eyrrfish poet. He felt such a sense of accomplishment to have been able to fulfill his vow to the dying Conrad. Now, there was naught to do except return home again.

Lakfi would accompany him just as far as the Gorgola river, and no more. The two would have to part ways for now, and seek their separate destinies beyond the hill country of Ulteria.


The sequence

It became obvious that the longer they were entertained by Jongleur, the less chance that there was that they would learn Eyrrfish. Actually, Jongleur was the purveyor of the wildest and  most absurd ideas. Sometimes, they would call him out on his buffoonery, and he would respond with : “Capital!”

They pored over manuscripts of the Eyrrfish language, depending on Jongleur to translate. It didn’t quite make sense, but they continued to make a reasonable effort at translating the language. The problem was that without Dr. Unne, they couldn’t make heads or tails out of what they were reading.

They were outspoken about their approval of his methods, but there were so many problems. The clockwork owl kept circling above their heads and screeching in French, “Veuillez boire du bon café!” It was most unsettling. There were so many texts before them, that they began to be confused as if the papers were a twisted gyre of nonsense.

Over time, they had begun to make something of Jongleur’s encrypted code. They noticed that it was connected to his explanation of Koine Greek. ‘Α’ or ‘alpha’ signified the beginning of the code chain, and of course, ‘Ω’ or ‘omega’ was the end of it. In between they saw that each letter of the Greek alphabet corresponded to a separate idea.

The code-breakers eventually saw that this could be the way to find Brad. They would trick Jongleur into revealing the location of Brad, and then, see to it that the Eyrrfish language was translated into plain English. Afterwards, they would give the locket to Brad, and then leave for the Cardia Islands.

At that point, it would be necessary for Poxig to return to Ulteria, with the idea of getting the sacred amethyst, which would allow him to pass unharmed to Elrick the half-prince’s domain. He would regain his composure, and take Lakfi just until the border.




Crawford grammar


The William Crawford grammar is a great tool for those of us in the ESL classroom. Especially with regards to corpora in the classroom, there are many reasons to employ these techniques in the ESL classroom.  Probably the most important one is that it helps students form their collocations, and can aid in the formation of phrasal verbs.

Crawford has the following to say about the use of corpus linguistics in the classroom:

“Corpus linguistics is a method of describing language by reference to
large amounts of language that occurs in specific contexts. Scholars
have used corpus description to gain new insights into areas such as
language change and variation, sociolinguistics, lexicology, and stylistics,
to name a few (see McEnery, Xiao, & Tono, 2006, for a good description
of corpus linguistics and the various ways that corpora have been used in applied linguistics).” (Crawford, 2013)

I have used these techniques in the classroom with varying success. It is hard to get students to believe that looking up various collocations in a free website like ‘MICASE corpus‘ is in the interest of the student. But after some work, it seems like this begins to set in, and the work becomes easier on their end.

Using free corpora can be a great way to get students engaged who normally would not be able to get this stuff. In fact, it seems that the corpora that is most useful are not online databases, but the CD-ROM that go with dictionaries, such as Collins COBUILD, and corpora like it.

I will continue to develop ESL lessons that emphasize corpus linguistics, because it is an optimal way to learn language. Also, students like to use the computer to learn! Please click the ‘contact’ tab to comment.


Behind the question

The night was getting late, and they had not yet located the precious document that would translate the Eyrrfish language into plain English. They had coaxed, wheedled, and cajoled Jongleur, but he would give no indication as to Brad’s whereabouts.

They gave a sample from Dr. Unne of the Koine Greek language and asked Jongleur to translate.

“Εν ‘αρχη ην ‘ο λογος,” read the document.

“Of course, this reads ‘In the beginning was the word.’ ” said Jongleur.

“Dr. Unne located this gospel as the cause of the universe’s existence ex nihilo,” said Lakfi.

There was a small outside chance that the gospel  as it were would lead them to the source of the earth’s rot. No one could locate the source of this, and least of all, Jongleur, who was puzzled.  He knew the document was ‘Ευαγγελιον ‘ιΩαννην, but he didn’t know how that would lead them to the source of the earth’s rot.

“The question is, does this document lead us to the source of the earth’s rot?” asked Poxig.

“The answer to your question will be in the sacred black magician texts,” added Lakfi.

“Perhaps! This document does prophesy many things, but only tells of the apocalypse, not of its cause,” replied Jongleur.

“Then, tell us! What is the source of the earth’s rot?” asked Lakfi.

“You must consult the prophecy, and I cannot lead you further. But everyone knows the light warriors will restore order to the universe!” exclaimed Jongleur.book23

He never returned…

After several weeks of camping outside of the great library, the deuce realized that it was unlikely that Brad should ever return the Eyrrfish document. They had many unusual conversations with Jongleur. One of these was the following:

“Surely, Brad is also a vampire,” said Lakfi.

“No, actually, this is why he went to Eyrrf. He wanted to escape the vampire legacy of his former family. He knew that to escape the problem of vampiric succession, he would quit the manse in Melmond for something that his then father would have never suspected,” replied Jongleur.

“Why can’t you just tell us where he is?” asked Poxig.

“I am sworn to secrecy because of the nature of my profession. If I were to reveal the names of the patrons of this library, it would cause disorder in the librarian code of honor,” offered the librarian.

“Well, then, perhaps you have other books on the Eyrrfish language?” asked Lakfi

“I do, but it is too rare to be shown. Even the light might damage the pages. I do have one on the history of Eyrrf, which might be of interest to you,” said Jongleur.

“Please, sir, show us this book!” said Poxig.

The librarian  brought out a slim volume of about one hundred and fifty pages. The corners of the pages of the book were yellowed with time.

“This is the account of a black mage who lived in Eyrrf a hundred years ago. He catalogued all of the  magic spells that he mastered at the time,” said Jongleur.

It turned out that this book was a commentary to Eyrrfish. No one knew that language except one language expert, and her name was Sheela Nesta, who lived across the sea.


The search (part 3)

They walked into the cavernous reaches of the library.  Jongleur showed them some of the rare books  in the collection. They were surprised to see so very few patrons in the library.

“Not many venture to the top of Mt. Crump in search of wisdom. You have managed to avoid the soldiers at the border. Now it seems necessary to tell you something you may not know about the Eyrrfish,” said Jongleur.

“What’s that?” asked Poxig.

“Many of them are half-orcish, half-elvish,” said he. “Your friend’s son must have been a sort of unusual addition to their kind. They are a strange bunch, and only come out at noontime due to their weak eyesight.”

“You have to tell us what we must do to learn this language. Brad would have the document. Can you get it for us?” Lakfi questioned.

That night, they talked late into the night about how to communicate with these strange people from a forgotten civilization. They knew that at least they had to get the locket to Carl’s son, Brad.

“But you said Brad lives nearby…” he commented. “Why can’t we just go there?”

“I never give the information of my patrons to others. It’s a policy that I don’t intend to break,” said Jongleur.

“Well, if we can’t find Brad, then we’ll have to ask you for the map to get to Eyrrf,” Poxig said.

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Jongleur. “These beings are technically orc. They might have you for dinner.”

“You just said that they have weak eyesight,” said Poxig. “I think we can surely evade them and find Brad.”

“Well, then, how will you communicate with them?” Jongleur asked.

“Once we have the sacred amethyst, we won’t need to,” said Poxig.

Jongleur continued on his tirade to persuade them that they ought to take precautions. He told them of a document that located the sacred amethyst’s whereabouts near Mount Eyrrf. But only through communicating with these people could they hope to find it.

That settled it for the twosome. They would wait for Brad Conrad’s return to the library, and then somehow get the document that they needed. Jongleur

The search (Part 2)

They had arrived at Mount Crump after a long, slow journey. Lakfi’s hands were gnarled after riding the horse all night. Poxig was also exhausted. But they had crossed the border to Ulteria shortly after dawn, and now they had reached the end of the Rivula River, where it flows into the sea.

The suzukib birds were chirruping, and there was little fanfare at their arrival. They would now have to scale the mountain as best as they could. They began their ascent to the library on the top of the summit. They walked, crawled, and scaled up the crags that led to the survey tower that was visible next to the library, which was carved into the side of the mountain.

Poxig could not help but propose some philosophical question or another, since there was plenty of time to expend. “Have you ever noticed,” he said, “that the same senses that we use to perceive the world is also what we use in dreams?”

“And so?” Lakfi muttered.

“Then, how can we tell the difference between dreams and reality? Could not our senses be misleading us?”


“Dreams will be our only hope of getting the Eyrrfish document,” said Lakfi.

“Ah yes. We must answer the riddle,” replied Poxig.

They came to the entrance of the library,  which was festooned with columns and draperies. They noticed that not many people were there, but just a few Ulterians around the area.

“Have you been here?” asked Poxig.

“It was a long time ago during my apprenticeship,” replied Lakfi. “I think that it will be difficult to meet the head sage and librarian, Jongleur. Hopefully, our letter has reached him.”

As they approached the library, a clockwork owl flew up to them and began to speak in a robotic voice: “WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS?”

“We are here to see Jongleur,” said the green-faced elf. “Is he in?”


“What?” said Lakfi.

“MASTER …MASTER… MASTER…” at that point, the clockwork owl fell to the ground and began twitching.

A man in a coxcomb emerged from the library. “Oh, darn it! It seems that my sentry has malfunctioned,” he said.

“Excuse me, but might you be Jongleur? We are looking for him,” asked Poxig.

“Aha! Yes, that is me. You have found me. But I must say, how did you get this far? The Ulterian guards should have stopped you.”

“We evaded them by the pass by the Rivula near the Ulterian border. Lakfi cast a cloak spell that allowed us to pass undetected,” said Poxig.

“Have I received correspondence from you?” asked Jongleur. “As you well know, I don’t entertain guests that I don’t have any missive from.”

“You must have something from us!” said Poxig in an elated tone. “We sent the letter several months beforehand.”

Jongleur began to fuss with his papers in a large leather knapsack. He pulled out a long letter with a red seal on it. “Ah yes, this must be yours,” he said.

“However,” he added, “you must understand that no one may enter the library before they answer a riddle.”

Lakfi thought himself very good at these sort of idealistic mind experiments. “This shouldn’t be too hard,” he whispered to himself.

“Very well, let’s begin.  What ceases to be the very moment it is spoken?” asked Jongleur.

“Hmm.” Poxig mused. “I’m not sure I know the answer to this one.”

“I do,” said Lakfi. “The answer is: silence.”

“Ah yes!” the fool on the hill laughed with delight. He did a back somersault and then shouted, “that’s absolutely right!”

“I have another one…” Jongleur began,  but Lakfi interrupted.

“You said that we should only have to answer one! Our business is pressing. We must gain the translation document for the Eyrrfish language. We sent you the letter in April,” said Lakfi.

“Ah yes, it is April,  the cruelest month. And you, sirs,  are out of luck. One such individual has borrowed that document from me. His name is Brad, and he lives just beyond the Ulterian border.”

“You tricked us!” yelled Poxig.  “You led us to believe…”

“You have come here on your own,” said Jongleur. “I had nothing to do with it. I make sure the documents are in order, but otherwise, it was all of your own devices.”

“Then,  can you at least inform us as to Brad’s whereabouts?” said Lakfi.

“Well, I never give out the patron’s information. I only have about 200 of them. I rarely get visitors on the top of Mount Crump. But since you answered my riddle, please come inside, and I will tell you about some of my most recent research,” said Jongleur.

The trio went inside the great library together as dusk was falling.





The search

Poxig and Lakfi had make their peace with each other, because a new problem posed itself. They had promised the dying Conrad to find his son, and present the locket to him. In fact, Poxig had little to go on except the reformed vampire’s instructions to seek him at the castle on the top of Mount Eyrrf, where there was a chance that they could find him.

Poxig and his friend the dark mage set out from the manse to locate the lost son at the heights of Eyrrf. This place was ancient people that had separated themselves from all other races. Although human, they did not consider themselves to be of the human race. They spoke in a strange dialect called Eyrrfish. In order to speak to these people, they would have to consult Dr. Unne, the master of languages.

They arrived in Melmond that evening as the sun set, and knocked on Dr.  Unne’s door. He lived in a small accommodation by the end of the road, next to the graveyard. A large oak tree was towering over them, and was cutting shapes in the sky with its long black branches. The owls were hooting in the trees.

Dr. Unne appeared at the door, disheveled in his lab coat. Obviously, he had been working on an important scientific discovery.

“Eyrrfish, you say?” said Dr. Unne “Well, you’ve come the right place my boys! It’s my scientific speciality!”

They learned that Eyrrfish could only be translated with a special document which had to be found and brought to Dr. Unne. It just so happened that there was a copy at the library on the top of Mount Crump, but they would have to communicate with the master librarian Jongleur by letter, so as to alert him to their arrival.

“Jongleur is a mysterious librarian,” said Dr. Unne. “He does not like to deal with the general public, so you will have to ask him to meet with you by writing him a letter.”

They agreed that they would do this. The librarian’s vision was not as it used to be, and it was not sure that they would be able to see him right away. They gathered up their courage to set out for Ulteria, when Mount Crump was located. They had to keep the promise that they had made to Carl Conrad while he was still alive.

“Do you think we have a chance of finding the Eyrrfish translation document?” asked Lakfi.

“I think even one missive to Jongleur should do the trick,” replied Unne.

“Even we fail, it will not be all for naught. Perhaps Jongleur can give us some insight as to the location of the sacred amethyst.”

“We can’t afford to fail. As light warriors, the fate of Illyria rests in our hands,” said Poxig.

Of course, Lakfi didn’t really think of himself in this way, and he impugned the light warrior prophecy. But his respect for Poxig remained. Poxig, on the other hand, had other issues to resolve. He wished to be able to find his lost father, and thereby his namesake. If he could do this, it was possible that his father would tell him what the purpose of his being was, or if not, validate his ancestral heraldry.

And so the search went on for a suitable guide to Mount Crump. Dr. Unne would not leave his work at laboratory, and could not accompany them. They would need to hire another mage to guide them through the rough terrain of Ulteria. Who knows what Wyverns flew in those dim skies?

Dr. Unne wished them well, resupplied their knapsacks, and sent them on their way. Having mailed the letter to Jongleur, the two unlikely friends continued to Ulteria, in hopes of at least retrieving the sacred amethyst.the friends


Poxig and Lakfi disagree

Poxig was always a winsome chum, but he knew how to watch his own tongue. It was one night after he and Lakfi were arguing about a certain theological topic, that he let loose his true thoughts, which Poxig hardly ever did.

“There is no light warrior prophecy,” said Lakfi. “Your trust is misplaced in Releven.”

Of course, this insulted Poxig, who believed himself to be the recipient of Releven’s emic language, as opposed to Lakfi’s etic false language.

“Releven was responsible for repelling Darxon at the Nitla pass. A god is just a hero in a non-human form. Our hero Releven remade us in his own image, and made the elvish people into a united country. Before, an elf was considered a kind of orc.”

At that point, Lakfi stammered and retorted. “You lost during the wars of religion, and that is why you are defensive about Releven.”

“Even now, Releven could win the victory against Garland, with his powerful magic!”

“You have no idea about the powers that be, and they are conspiring against you!”

Lakfi cast a muddle spell on his friend, he was so angry. Poxig had bested his most formal logic of darkness. Now, Lakfi wished to show him his power.

When Poxig revived, Lakfi said, “Darkness is power. This is something you can never understand.”

“Nor do I wish to,” said Poxig. “You and I will never agree here.”

Poxig gave him his wages for having finished the quest to reform Conrad the vampire. He had thought that this story would be  an object lesson that would bring his deceived friend to the light. Instead, it had caused him to return to darkness. Poxig wanted no part of it.

A friend’s betrayal is still hard to take. This gainsayer had caused him to question his trust in his friend, and it was many more months before he would trust him again.

Poxig & Lakfi

The inheritance

Conrad the master vampire entered the graveyard once more. He saw that Poxig and Lakfi were sitting roasting their dinner with a spit over a fire.

“I have overheard you,” said Conrad. “You want to change me back into my former self. But it will never happen. I’ll tell you why. This manse was willed to me by my grandfather Farraday, and his father was also a vampire. We continue to consume Melmond, because that is  what we’ve always done.”

“Master Conrad!” exclaimed Poxig. ” There is always the possibility of change. Look here, is the ruby necklace that your wife once wore! Remember the love you had with your wife before you accepted this terrible inheritance. You were able to resist the dark side. Even now, you may be reformed.”

“It can never happen. My inheritance as the master vampire is too great. I will continue sucking the blood of my victims in Melmond!” shouted the creature of the night.

Lakfi thought that he was too far gone to be reformed at that point. The only way that Melmond would be free from his reign of terror was to drive a stake of holly through his heart.

Lakfi doffed his cap and pretended to listen, but then cast a stun spell. While the vampire was still under the effect of the spell, he grabbed the stake of holly and went to the makeshift overhang near the edge of the graveyard. He leaped upon it and then fell upon the vampire. He tried to drive the stake through the vain creature’s heart.

But then Poxig grabbed his hand. “No, Lakfi! There is some good in him!”

The vampire, seeing that Poxig had given him an advantage, moved over near him to suck his blood. But Poxig remembered the Latin cross that Dr. Unne had given him. He raised the cross into the air, and the vampire recoiled in fright.

Then Poxig shouted: “Conrad, grandson of Farraday! Remember Milly, who was the only woman you ever loved! She wrote on her death-bed for you to repent of your ways and turn to the god of your soul. She wanted you to be with her in the afterlife, but now your soul is headed for condemnation because you have shed innocent blood.”

“Don’t try to preach to me, you insignificant elf! You are nothing compared to my inheritance!” shouted the vampire. But a tear was visible on his eye, and Poxig knew then that he might be able to reform this prince of darkness.

“This manse is only an earthly inheritance that will soon turn into dust! But there is a more important one that exist beyond this world, in a place of unapproachable light. Milly wanted to meet you there, in the land beyond the stars,” said Poxig.

Lakfi joined Poxig when he realized that hate and darkness could not be defeated with even more black magic. “Conrad, remember those noble days when you defended your country from the elves. Now, some powerful god has sent this elf to show you that he is the god of all heroes, and that you were wrong! Why can’t you see the truth?”

Suddenly, the vampire fell to the ground, as the tears welled up in his eyes. “Oh, Milly, how have I lost you!” he exclaimed.

Poxig slowly ambled over to the vampire, holding the Latin cross in his hand. “Now, Carl, you must ask master control to forgive your sins, now that you have shed innocent blood! You must face the sun’s rays tomorrow morning!”

“Now, my only inheritance will be to be with my beloved Milly! But this is a greater inheritance than all of this great manse!”

“And you will save your soul,” said Lakfi. “But unless you face the light, you cannot go to the land of the living souls!”

“Now, I must beg of you gentlemen,” said Carl Conrad, seated on the ground, ” daylight is almost upon us.  Then, I will dissolve like snow in the spring heat. You must go tell my son, who is still amongst the living, that I have gone to join his mother.”

“We will,” said Lakfi. Poxig agreed, nodding his head. millyconrad