03 April 2015

Anniversary Art Challenge: Picture #8, #14 & #15 - The Frog Piper's Tale

To celebrate our anniversary, my amazing artist husband, Phil, decided that he would do a 19-day art challenge, drawing one new picture every day for 19 days. And I thought it sounded like fun, so I jumped right on the band wagon and declared that I would write a silly, one-page story to go with each picture he creates during this challenge. I'm not writing the stories in order, because I got behind. And I wanted to finish by the end of March, but that didn't happen. So I'll just continue to post stories as I can complete them until they're all here. :)

One great thing about falling behind is that I'm not actually tied to just one picture each day. When I started writing the story of Hopper MacNamara, the Frog Piper Phil drew to celebrate International Bagpipe Day (day 8 of the challenge), I realized that I could weave his story together with the Fort Knight he drew for day #14 and the legendary warrior of Irish and Scottish myth, Fionn mac Cumhail (day #15).  I had so much fun mixing these very different characters (and illustration styles) into one story! (Now, I'm looking at the remaining pictures in my queue and trying to dream up ways to mash them together as well.)

The Frog Piper's Tale

Hopper MacNamara stood silently as the last notes from his pipes echoed off the stones. 

The king frowned. He beckoned to his trusted advisors, and conferred with them in a whispered conference. 

Hopper stood in the center of the great ring of stones and tried to resist the urge to fidget. Only the best and bravest pipers would be selected to join the king's elite pipe and drum corps. And there hadn't been a frog in the corps since Hopper's own great, great grandpappy had been asked to leave. 

No one remembered exactly waht had happened, but there were rumors. They said Grandpappy MacNamara lead the army straight into an ambush. They said he was following a great cloud of particularly tasty flies instead of watching for the enemy. They said the king would be insane to allow another frog into the ranks. Even one as talented as Hopper MacNamara.

But Hopper had trained for years, and he knew he was ready. He only needed a chance to prove himself. So when the king shook his head and dismissed the frog piper with a casual wave of his hand, Hopper made up his mind. He would find Fionn mac Cumhail. 

With the help of the legendary warrior, Hopper could restore the MacNamara name, and the reputations of frogs throughout the land, to their former glory.

For days, Hopper traveled over moors and around lochs, trading his songs for shelter each night. Finally, after two weeks, he came to a fortress sitting high atop a hill. But when he approached the castle gates, he was met by a fierce knight, who refused to allow him to pass. 

Drawing his gleaming sword, the knight challenged the frog piper to a duel.

Hopper gulped. 

A peaceful amphibian by nature, he had never dueled against a weapon more deadly than a banjo. But taking a deep breath, he filled his pipes and played the mournful notes of his great, great grandpappy MacNamara's favorite ballad. A tale of love and loss, and the heroic adventures of Fionn MacCumhail. 

The knight lowered his sword and listened in rapt attention to Hopper's song. And when the last notes had faded away, the great knight bowed before the frog piper. 

"Welcome, brave little one," he said, throwing wide the doors to the castle. "All who are friends of Fionn are welcome here. Won't you join us for the Feast of Fables?"

So Hopper followed the knight into a grand hall, where Fionn mac Cumhail himself sat upon a throne glittering with diamonds and rubies. And when the legendary warrior invited Hopper to be his own, personal musician, the frog piper accepted without hesitation.

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