Thursday, July 2, 2015

Oran's Folly

"Oran's Folly" by T.K. Wade (As told by Teagan the squirrel bard.)

Now, Oran fought a hundreds wars,
And lost a million three.
He gave it up for his bad luck,
And fell upon his knees.

Matera seized him by his soul,
As so he chose to do.
But now he sees what is not there,
His vision now askew!

"Invaders! Invaders!” Came a shout,
He saw them breaching forth!
All the men who trusted him,
Set out upon the north.

Imagine their surprise and shock,
When nothing did assail.
When asked about the missing fight,
Did Oran rant and rail:

“I saw it! I saw it!” was his reply.
“It was clear as if the sun!”
But clearly Matera had taken him
And used him for his fun.

So now, dear Oran is all but lost,
In respect and other ways.
A slave to Matera and adrift in life,
To spend the rest of his days.

But let this be a lesson to those,
Who fights and never does win.
Avoid the ale; Instruo prevails!
And let not Matera come in!

-Glossary-

Matera: Literally, the squirrel god of fermentation/alcohol.

Instruo: The squirrel god of readiness and swift decision.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Love of Mustelidae

I've always believed that there is an animal for every human personality. Within the world of rodentia, we commonly find personalities befitting of the more curious or timid types--this being with some very notable exceptions (i.e. rats.) There is another class of people which is of a much darker nature. Many of them may even be villains such as thieves or brigands. They may also take the form of corrupt politicians and leaders. For this group, I nominate the prestigious family of mustelidae!

Weasels have had a major part in fiction and popular culture. We often call someone who is sneaky or untrustworthy a weasel. We often picture the creature sneaking about looking for a way to kill or steal something, and there is a very good reason why. These creatures really do tend to do that!

A weasel is a type of mustelid, and there are many others that belong to this family as you will later find out. I have for years now had a fascination with these creatures and have even written several stories about them. They tend to bring out my mischievousness and inspire me to create fun characters--often villains.

You may remember some mustelids from popular movies and books. Probably the most notable are the weasels from the movie "Who Frames Roger Rabbit." In a more recent film called "Wolfy: The Incredible Secret," some species of mustelids were used as spies and could be seen sneaking around in the dark.

The famous comic book series "Mouse Guard" has its share of weasels, and I must say that these particular characters are extremely well designed. I have always enjoyed the stories about them. Not as well known but still very important is the book series "The Welkin Weasels" by Gary Kilworth. This series really has done the most justice to the little guys. I recommend the books to anyone interested in seeing good fiction made in honor of mustelidae.

Over the next year, I will be telling you about many animals within the mustelidae family. I encourage you to open your mind to a dark and sinister world of a very sneaky group of carnivores. Mustelids are good for drawing out the dark side of one's imagination. You can't have everything candy and rainbows for life. A weasel would be the first to tell you that as well! By the end of it, I am sure that you will understand why I love them so much. Sometimes, it never hurts to indulge the imagination in darker things. After all, that's where all the most interesting villains come from.

Stay tuned for the new Mustelidae Spotlight! Be sure to comment below if you so desire, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Thanks for reading! :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Word Concerning Darkwood

"A Word Concerning Darkwood" by T.K. Wade (As told by Milo the mouse adventurer.)

To be sure, the goal of one’s quest in an adventure is to reach the subsequent destination–whatever that entails. But I would put forth that finding ones ultimate destination has significantly less meaning without first expounding on the place from whence the adventurer originates: to wit, Darkwood.

I feel as if I am the proprietor of a very rare privilege to be the one to write about this town. The forested dwelling is still but an infant mouse respectively when compared to the well-aged rodent that is the rest of Murridae. Only a handful of literature, thus far, has been written about it. I believe that the reasons for these missing manuscripts can be explained in several ways:

For one, there simply has not been much time since the town’s birth for many to experience its aspects. Secondly, Darkwood is not one to see many visitors. Third, there are those who simply do not consider the town to be of any sort of permanence within Murridae. The latter issue will be explicated in the coming remarks.

Granted, I am not the first to speak of Darkwood. I am reminded of Jeremiah, or Old Jeremiah as was the moniker he held with his peers. Arguably, he is the first to write about Darkwood with any amount of clarity. He did so within his published book, “Western Revival,” written only seven years after its liberation.

A great boon this mouse was to the town’s recorded history. In particular, I rather enjoyed his poignant observations of the people that were present about the town when he was there to witness them. They were written as such:

Mindboggling. It is starkly mindboggling to see these rodents walking the streets, baking bread, hammering metal, sewing clothes, taking wives, and living as if they have lived in this place since ancient times. And I witness this only a trifle number of years past its liberation from the Black Rats. These mice–exhibiting everything simple about their way of life–are, in sooth, quite bold. I doubt I could ever be one of them in spirit.

To add to Old Jeremiah’s position, consider a town that had been simply invented by an enemy faction, and once that enemy was thwarted, we accept the town almost instantly as one of our own. The concept is almost unfathomable, but such are the rodents of Darkwood.  We are all of the bold variety. To clarify further, only in this town have I ever seen mice stand with rats on such equalized scale. It is simply the intrepid nature of the people.

Since its initial liberation, Darkwood has grown quite remarkably. It is quickly beginning to take on the appearance of a proper civilization. The sight and feel of it can be contrasted to other towns and cities of Murridae in two distinct ways: namely, that there are many trees about the area–whereas most towns of this country keep their trees outside of their walls, and also that it is generally very cold there, especially within the winter months.

Concerning the former, I could very well give credit to my interest in Skiouros by having grown up in a strangely wooded environment. As queer a place as it is, I imagined–at the time–it was quite the common thing for all of the squirrel-lands. At the beginning of my adventure, I often wondered if I would seem something of a kindred spirit to them having shared similar environs. The conclusion to this will be later dealt with.

To the latter, the cause of the frigid wind is due to the fact that Darkwood is the most northern of all places in Murridae. I recall freezing days and nights where the trunks of those trees were wearing crystallized skirts of ice (what fascinating shapes they would make when I would break them apart.) I am sure many among this country might very well consider living in Darkwood to be rather inhospitable.

Above, I had mentioned the semi-controversial ideal that Darkwood is not a truly sanctioned town of Murridae. One of the instigators of this theory was an author by the name of Calvin Blue. In his book entitled, “The Eternal Growth of a Kingdom,” he put forth the following:

Although, it may have been the intentions of those who took Darkwood away from our enemy to make it their own–and in saying this, I respect their nerve in such a maneuver–I consider it to be in rather poor taste to simply consider it to be officially inducted into our country. When I consider how hard rodents strove to create the beginnings of Rodopolis, as well as the heart that was behind those people, I cannot see any such thing behind the evil rats who erected those walls up in Darkwood. Understanding this, I feel the place should be either destroyed or, at the very least, rechristened by a Rodopolis official of some variety.

Personally, I find Cavin’s candor on the matter to be born of shortsightedness. I do not understand why the name is so bothersome. If anything, it is a symbol of triumph over our enemy. At one time, Darkwood was a housing for evil, but what is it now? It is a thriving community of good rodents! In this instance, the meaning of the name takes a different path. Despite this revelation, the controversy remains to this day; however, I encourage all to make little to do over the matter. There is not enough of the controversy to spark anything. Darkwood is a town of Murridae.

As I have been doing, I would not refer to Darkwood as anything but a town. The walls that it has were only built to fortify it during the war. We are still growing as our own pace. The community as a whole is exceedingly jovial. We help one another as a matter of habit. I have heard that most settlements begin with such a society.

Darkwood is divided into two partitions. The western district is where most of the rodents living there make their home. The buildings are partitioned apart with amazing symmetry–an aspect that is rather hard to find among Murridae. They are simple in design, and are built entirely from wood of the surrounding forest.

The east side of Darkwood is where you will find its very modest marketplace. Many of the buildings here are very old as they were still there while they were inhabited by the Black Rats, but as you can see, we have repurposed them to great effect.

As an adventurer, it would be in poor taste if I forsook mentioning the heart and soul of any town–this being the tavern. I would be lying if I put forth any form of absence from this place. The truth is that I frequented her hall more often than I probably should have. But let that not dissuade you from entering. “The Hailing Raven” is more than just a mere place to drink and sleep, it was a community crossroads where all decisions were made.

It was naturally a capital place to begin my arrangements in earnest. A great many things can be settled in a tavern if one is diligent. Being that I was–at this point–well-known among the rodents of Darkwood, I felt that such a crossroads would naturally be my first destination.

But if I might add just one more opinion concerning this town: I wish to simply express the love that I have for it. I do not say this lightly. Although, it is true that I did wish to venture great distances away from Darkwood, there was always a sincere yearning to return to those walls. For there will always be an eternal admiration, on my part, for those people–how bold, how jovial, how resolute.

-Glossary-

Darkwood: The hometown of Milo. It lies within Northeastern Murridae.

Murridae: A country ruled by mice but is also populated by rats and jerboas.

Black Rats: An army of rats who wished to replace the rule of mice in Murridae.

Skiouros: A country west of Murridae inhabited primarily by squirrels.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rodent Spotlight: Josephoartigasia Monesi

Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the very last Rodent Spotlight blog. It has been almost two years since I began doing this. The very first one was posted way back on July 13, 2013. I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment in researching and writing about the many rodents out there. Although, there are still other species that I missed, I believed I have covered all the most interesting ones.

It's actually rather hard for me to believe it's over. One thing that I did not expect was how much I was going to personally learn about rodents throughout this endeavor. I am far from being an expert in the field of animals. I am really just an author who has a profound appreciation for cute, crittery things. The experience has opened my mind to new species and possibilities in fiction, and for that, I am infinitely thankful.

But this blog isn't about saying goodbye after all. We have yet one more rodent whose story needs to be told. If you remember the last couple of blogs, we learned about the very interesting infraorder of cavimorpha which is responsible for giving us the fat little, guinea pig, the amphibious paca, the poorly-named pacarana, and his prehistoric cousin the phoberomys pattersoni. (Also known as Ratzilla!) As big as the last one was, there was still one rodent greater than even he. I present to you the entirely unpronounceable rodent known as the josephoartigasia monesi. (J. monesi for short.)

The J. monesi was the end-all, be-all of giants within the rodent kingdom. This creature was a surprising 10 feet long from head to tail and stood at a height of 5 feet. Likely the most impressive to me, however, was its weight. There has been some disagreement over how heavy this massive rodent was, but it was finally agreed on. Can you imagine a rodent weighing 2,000 pounds? That is one full ton! Unbelievable! Do not--I repeat--DO NOT let this guy sit on you!

Obviously, this is not a rodent you'd wanna keep as a pet. Where it is true, he was entirely an herbivore, there is just nowhere to keep a 2,000 pound animal in your house. These jokes stem from the fact that when most of us hear the word "rodent" mentioned, we automatically think of very small creatures. We think of either a tiny pest or a tiny pet. The J. monesi breaks that stereotype in half with its big, giant feet.

In my unpublished universe called "Tooth and Tail," I had portrayed the capybaras as giants among the normal sized rodents of that world. If the capybaras were giants, then what the heck were these guys?! I suppose we have different ideas for what the word "giant" can mean. The capybaras were just really massive and tall, but only about 10 feet. The J. monesi would be the more fairy tale form of giant. He would be able to make a chair out of the roof of a house and eat entire trees like they were bits in a salad. Remember, he IS still a vegetarian.

Imagination is an interesting thing, isn't it? Much of the fictional portions of these blogs were really not about anything that was real. Animal's can't talk, nor do they wear clothing or live like we do; however, there is a very special part of us that allows us to see them doing it. And this special sight we have can visualize in a way that seems so real that you can almost reach your hand out and touch it. That either means that we are completely crazy, or we are amazingly talented creatures. Imagination--whether it makes proper sense or not--has the unique ability to inspire others to do amazing things. After all, I saw rodents and ended up writing books about them where they were portrayed as civilized people.

It is very important to always be honest about that which you love. No one but you should have a say in such things. When you find that thing that you love, do whatever you can with it! Write a story, draw a picture, write a blog about it for two years! Let that thing inspire you, and then create from it with all of your heart. Never let it go. It is yours, and you have the right and even the responsibility to do great things with it. And with that, I shall say goodbye to my Rodent Blog, but do not worry! There is so much more I wish to write about. Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Until next time!




Thursday, June 18, 2015

Una the Witch

"Una the Witch" by T.K. Wade (As told by Quin, guide of Skiouros.)

This is the story of Una the witch–a story I know well. She was from times older than we know and perhaps lives even unto this very day. She is a servant of Vis; however, she also uses his power in unholy ways. It is a wonder why Vis should allow her to live at all. Perhaps, she gave enough sacrifice of herself to warrant his amnesty.

Una often would keep to herself, but to the poor squirrels who would get lost in the woods, they would often find her house which was made of both vines twisted into the carcasses of dead animals. It was a horrible place, and one could not escape it. Those who came across her lair might try and walk away, but they would find it again no matter how many directions they walked. It was hopeless.

The poor travelers would either knock upon her door which was made of martin bone or suffer starvation as time would progress. She would allow them in, and the inside was not much better than it appeared on the outside. All things of her house was made of plant and dead nature as designed by Vis. You may well imagine their terror at seeing this; however, Una herself was quite comely and would give them some hope of escape.

It is not known exactly what was done to these visitors, but one thing is certain, they would always be found again entirely mad. Only a special mixture of bark and bone could cure them of this madness, and even then, it would only last a day. This is a very strange tale, and I am unsure if it is true. We have not heard of this witch in a very long time. Perhaps, she is dead. We do not know for certain.

I will tell you this. In my days as a guide, I have a memory of seeing the very house that is described upon this carved tree. I was leading a man to Chad, and the path did not seem familiar to me despite having traveled it many times. I remember seeing the terrible house of Una the witch, but I remember nothing more than that.

I woke up on the outskirts of Chad, and my client was nowhere to be seen. I never did see him again. I always wonder if I will find him someday completely mad, but who knows? Perhaps, I dreamed it all. I am quite strange, you know. If I wasn’t, I would not prefer to sleep among my hares!

-Glossary-

Skiouros: The great forest country of squirrels which is west of Murridae.

Vis: The squirrel god of nature.

Chad: Capitol city of Skiouros.

Witch: Witches in this universe have powerful links to a single god. This is not always a bad thing. It often leads to a life of dedication that causes them to be reclusive from society. The reason they are called witches is cause their direct link to their god causes them to exhibit certain supernatural abilities.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rodent Spotlight: Phoberomys Pattersoni

The pacarana is actually the closest relative to two giant rodents that lived in prehistoric times. These rodents are, of course, completely extinct by today, but it never hurts to imagine what they may have been like. For this blog, I present to you the phoberomys pattersoni!

Like the last two rodents presented, the phoberomys pattersoni was apart of the infraorder of cavimorpha making him related to the capybara and the guinea pig. But good lord! This guy was a bit bigger than either of those! It is believed that this giant rodent was nearly 10 feet long from head to tail-base with a 5 foot long tail. He weighed anywhere from 550 to 1,500 pounds! Chances are you would hear this heavy guy coming. I imagine the little pacarana related to him must have been proud of his ancestry.

Bones of these giant rodents were found in South America which is interesting since many of the giant "cavis" can be found in that area. The pacarana really isn't all that a distant relative of the phoberomys pattersoni. To see the pacarana walking about almost would make someone consider what it would be like if these creatures were so much bigger. Can you even imagine such a big rodent stomping around?!

Unfortunately, the phoberomys pattersoni has only his scientific name, and I am sorry for the poor fellow who has to read this out loud and have to stumble over it at every instance. I did think it was pretty funny that this fellow has had some informal names. Mighty Mouse was one of them; although, I thought this was a bit dry since the creature doesn't look at all heroic. I was more fond of Ratzilla! What do you think? Sounds a bit more like a huge, hulking creatures stomping around and causing mayhem!

Sound scary? Well, what would you do if this giant, big-toothed monstrosity was standing outside of your front door? Don't worry! Many believe that this big guy was actually a strict herbivore. Actually, if you think about it, that's a little anti-climactic. I was expecting Ratzilla to rage about destroying everything in its way. Why is it that all the big rodents are so tame?

Ladies and gentlemen, the phoberomys pattersoni is like one of the many dinosaurs of the rodent order. Fiction is a difficult proposition when you consider that no one has actually seen more than a set of bones. But take a look at how I presented this blog in the first place. The phoberomys pattersoni is really just a distant relative of the pacarana.

In a fictional world of talking rodents, the phoberomys pattersoni would be like our cavemen. I am sure stories of them would be told for the amusement of their peers. After all, the pacarana are already good at telling stories about themselves--why not stories about their ancestors as well. I wonder if their version would be more like the rampaging Ratzilla. Why not?

But guess what! There was yet another--even bigger--rodent related to the pacarana. Don't miss the next Rodent Spotlight. After all, it's the very last one.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Stomp!




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Neely the Calm

"Neely the Calm" by T.K. Wade (As told by Quin, guide of Skiouros.)

Ah. This is the story of the boy named Neely. There was an old time when squirrels were quite barbarous, for we answered only to Ignavus and none other. We held contests in the city we now call Chad where much bloodshed would be had. The conquerors would sometimes devour the defeated before all; however, there are some of us who will deny this claim.

Neely was quite young, but he was more competent than he looked. Anyone who stood against him would suffer a quick and bloody demise. There were big, strong squirrels with mighty weapons of death. They would look upon the lad as if he was nothing but be proven quite shocked when their heart was filled with metal from his blade. The reason for this was that he was in mortal conference with a powerful god who gave him the power to defeat those who seemed better than him. ‘Who was this god?’ you may wonder.

Even in those times where Ignavus ruled us entirely, the other gods that we know of still lived in the Highest Place. Instruo lived as well, and he had taken possession of this lad Neely. It was not so much that he gave the boy power but simply the ability to clearly think through his situation with a calm heart and mind. The others who would try and best him were wild and conceited, but Neely would always watch them carefully and determine their weakness with ease. When the foeman would attack with untempered vigor, Neely would strike in a place where the enemy did not expect and so kill him quickly. This Neely did many times and was never harmed at all.

In the Highest Place, Ignavus did not like what Instruo was doing, but the feral god bore the same complacencies as his followers and did not suspect it would amount to anything. But he was wrong. The squirrels wondered at this amazing power that Neely possessed and why someone so young could kill so many with ease. Questions were asked, and he answered that he had given himself to another god who gave him a peace beyond what he could understand. In that way, he could best those who stood against him while their minds were tainted with fevered thoughts of killing and death.

Some still rebuked the boy for his denouncement of Ignavus, but others wanted to know more. He taught those who cared all he knew, and the land of Skiouros began to change. Some say that Neely is the first Shadow Tail to live, but it is not known for certain.

-Glossary-

Skiouros: The forest-rich country of the squirrels. It is west of Murridae, the kingdom of mice.

Chad: This is actually the capitol city of Skiouros.

Ignavus: The squirrel god of laziness; however, his followers know him as the god of freedom.

Highest Place: Heaven or realm of the gods.

Instruo: The god of readiness and swift decision.

Shadow Tail: An elite order of squirrels in service of the people of Skiouros. They are often revered greater than even the king himself.