Writing Every Day in March: Day 25

In loving memory of Cowbell luminary Gene Frenkle (1950-2000).

On the one hand, this isn’t a “More Cowbell” reference. On the other hand, it’s not not a “More Cowbell” reference.

Though the excerpt for this one is, of course, a More Cowbell reference….

Now, as the grandson of peasant farmers from the Old Country, I actually do have easy access to several actual Cowbells — including one that I’m pretty sure spent its previous life attached to an actual cow. And, mostly, that means I can pretty easily visualise the onomatopoeia for Cowbell noises.

Incidentally, what I learned from my whole family getting COVID back in November is that Cowbell actually serves as a pretty bad treatment option for fever.

Saturday Night Live: NBC and Broadway Video.
Image via Dictionary.com

But it’s a great way of annoying the rest of your feverish family…

“Kat,” Dunstana says, pointing up to the Elf walking beside her. “This is my new friend Nix. She’s a bard. She says she wants to write a song about me and you and Captain Fryte! Isn’t that cool?”

The Elf woman is a bit older than Kat, with long, pale golden hair, a red beret on her head, a scarf around her neck and a … lute, maybe — Kat doesn’t know musical instruments well enough to identify to the thing — strapped over her shoulder.

“I like your hat,” Kat says, pointing to the beret on Nix’s head.

“Huh?” the Elf says, blinking at Kat. “Sorry. Dunstana was telling me about your whole adventure with Captain Fryte. I’ve been trying to think of things that I can rhyme with Frytemight, bite, fight, tonight, airtight.”

“And who’s that?” Kat asks, pointing to the animal perched on Nix’s shoulders.

“This is Penny,” Nix answers. “She’s my pet Miniature High Aurorean Seal.”

“Arf!” the seal says happily.

Kat eyes the creature cautiously, wondering if she’s about to spend the foreseeable future with a Miniature High Aurorean Seal riding around in her pocket, not unlike a certain bewildering weasel…

Dunstana grins up at her sister.

“I’m going to be a bard, too!” she declares. “I’m gonna do Music and stuff!”

“You’re already a pirate,” Kat notes. “How are you going to be a bard, too?”

“I can do both!” Dunstana insists.

“You don’t even play any instruments,” Kat continues.

“Way ahead of you,” Dunstana says. “I’m learning Cowbell.”

“That is not an instrument.”

“Sure it is!” Dunstana insists. “Look!”

She produces a large metal bell and a small stick from the holds of her coat and eagerly sets to “playing” the thing.


Kat shudders at the onslaught of noise.

Dunstana, however, just keeps Cowbelling.


Dunstana has no particular sense of rhythm or musicality or even simple logic, just happily letting herself be carried away by the spirit of the Cowbell.


“Okay —” Kat begins.


“— I get it, Captain Kid —”


“— You —”


“— can —”


“— stop now —”


“— please.”


Once Dunstana is finally all CLONK’d out, she lowers her Cowbell and Cowbelling Stick and grins broadly up at Kat and Nix.

“Wasn’t that great?” she asks. “Being a bard is, like, the best thing ever! I’m going the coolest pirate in the world!”

She smiles up at Nix.

“Thanks for teaching me Music,” she tells the Elf.

“Captain Kid,” Kat groans. “That was not music! You can’t just randomly whack a Cowbell a couple times. You could least learn to play a real song.”

“So,” Dunstana ventures, raising her Cowbelling Stick once more. “What you’re saying is that I should keep going. Right, I need to keep practicing so I get even better!”

The colour drains from Kat’s face.

That is not what she is saying. That is not what she’s saying at all.


But it’s too late.


Kat groans.

Penny the Miniature High Aurorean Seal reaches over to put a consoling flipper on her shoulder.


Now, it was actually really hard to write that scene with using the word “More Cowbell.” Which, honestly, would have been tawdry and too on-the-nose.

As it happens, the basic idea for Nix dates back to the very earliest drafts that eventually coalesced into Realmgard. Though she’s gone through enough revisions of her character that I haven’t been able to slot her into a story yet.

FYI: that’s Latin for “snow”; Nyx may be a better-known word, especially perhaps for the Fantasy-adjacent. Nyx is Greek for “night”, though technically that Y is the equivalent of a U in proper Greek.

Despite being pronounced the same in English, there is no relation between the two words.

Incidentally, it’s also a Fire Emblem character.

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