Scourge of the Righteous Haddock

A young adult novel available at Amazon. com.

schwellenbach-scourge-2-396p.inddArtwork by Lena Rushing. Cover design by Mignon Khargie.

Emily Nevin Cann Bell is a recent addition to Trundlewood Academy for Unwanted, Unusual, and Wayward Girls, fresh from a workhouse in É:lhal’s capital city, Cansem. Life at the academy seems pretty good. Sure, Sylvie seems bound and determined to burn the school down, Ayn stalks the halls spouting her philosophy of radical self-reliance, and shy, refined Miles puts Emily’s stomach on spin cycle. And yes, there are occasional disruptions in the weather—like a horseradish storm—oddly timed to coincide with her dreams and journal entries. But for an orphan with three last names and no idea which one is correct, life is pretty good.

That is, life was pretty good until self-proclaimed-and-quite-probably-false prophet Damacias figures out what none of the orphans, Emily included, knows: That Trundlewood Academy is no ordinary school and the writing exercises aren’t your typical essays preparing for SATs. Everything that happens—your younger brother, that turnip hailstorm last weekend, the disappearance of a shade of violet from the color spectrum—is dictated by what these 30 teenage orphans living in an academy high on a mountain pass write during class.

And Damacias isn’t happy about it. In fact, he accuses the students of witchcraft and usurping the power of The One True Author of the Universe. A successful spring break fishing expedition in Nonpa, followed by an epic kegger, secures Damacias the allegiance of several leading fraternities in Cansem and he actively recruits followers—known as Righteous Haddock—who must demonstrate their commitment to the One True Author by being baptized in condiments at The Holy Scrubbing Grounds in Gu’pl.

But before Damacias can destroy Emily’s first and only true home, he’ll have to contend with Trundlewood Academy’s Board of Trustees, an odd assortment of wealthy and powerful people, several of whom have questionable motives for joining the board in the first place. Like Marcellus Barculo, who is willing to go to any lengths to restore the fortune his family made enslaving and selling wild animals to the circus. Bestselling romance writer and former Trundlewood student Bettina Van Vleck just joined the board to keep a competitive eye on the budding writing talent at the academy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she intends to turn her back on the school in its hour of need.

Of course, the orphans can always count on assistance from Lily Ludlow, the school’s librarian who sports literary tattoos across her forearms and the word “Bookworm” inked across her knuckles. Lily’s job is to keep the students from accessing books that might give them dangerous ideas, and while she rebels against her role as censor she’s willing to risk her life to protect the library.

But the students’ real weapon against the prophet is Liam Waters, Trundlewood Academy’s warlord and unlikely hero. As the most stylish man in Cansem and proud patron of The Brass Rail, he’s an unlikely rescuer of damsels in distress. But though the students at Trundlewood Academy may be unwanted, wayward, and unusual, there’s nothing distressed or hapless about them.



Alethea: Former beauty queen. Self-righteous. Severe. Namesake: Alethea Lewis.

Alice: Student. Magenta lips. Green eyes. Wisps of dark hair. If she were less talented, she might be mistaken for goth. Namesake: Alice Sebold.

Anne: Dragon-obsessed. A tomboy obsessed with fantasy in a fantasy world. Namesake: Anne McCaffrey.

Antonia: Loves a man who misquotes poetry to her. Namesake: Antonia Fraser.

Astrid: Pink hair. Superhuman strength. Namesake: Astrid Lindgren.

Ayn: Bald. Severe. Tied with Sylvie for making the most people cry in a single day. Strongest, loudest, meanest fish in the Trundlewood pond. Namesake: Ayn Rand.

Beatrix: Keeps pets all over the Trundlewood grounds. Talented illustrator as well as writer. Namesake: Beatrix Potter.

Charlotte: Rational mother figure to the other students at Trundlewood Academy. Namesake: Charlotte Bronte.

Chitra: Petite. Energetic. Fond of mixing exotic spices into her ink to produce the best possible writing. Namesake: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Christina: Writes fairytales with a strong religious bent. Namesake: Christina Rossetti.

Eavan: Once convinced her fellow students to jump off the school roof while holding umbrellas. Single-minded, with a penchant for asking lots of questions on seemingly mundane subjects. Namesake: Eavan Boland.

Edith: Faithfully documents everything that occurs at the Academy. Claims to be capable of reading lips. Namesake: Edith Wharton.

Emily Nevin Cann Bell: Protagonist, newest resident of Trundlewood Academy for Unwanted, Wayward, and Unusual Girls. Elfin. Hair the precise shade of sodium chloride under an open flame. Namesake: Emily Bronte.

Eudora: Once flung a basket of eggs at Sylvie. Eyebrows thick as caterpillars engaged in a joyful march across her forehead. Namesake: Eudora Welty.

Flannery: Grounded. Strawberry blonde hair. Namesake: Flannery O’Connor.

Gabriela: Almost always wears a beret. Namesake: Gabriela Mistral.

Harper: A plain-spoken loner. Namesake: Harper Lee.

Isak: Dramatic. Orphaned daughter of the man who started the Elhal’s first coffee plantation before committing suicide. Namesake: Isak Dinesen.

Joyce: Suffers from hypergraphia (compulsive writing), making the other students envious. Namesake: Joyce Carol Oates.

Lois: Likes to etch her words into parchment with needles. Namesake: Lois Lowry.

Lucy: Has numerous imaginary friends, despite being on good terms with most of the other students at Trundlewood. Namesake: Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Margaret: Auburn hair. Freckles for days. Vegetarian. Namesake: Margaret Atwood.

Maxine: Former student of Trundlewood Academy. Namesake: Maxine Hong Kingston.

Miles: Plagued by self-doubt about her writing. Grew up in the Hvshi. Emily’s love interest. Namesake: Miles Franklin.

Nora: Student primarily interested in writing romance with a few gossipy tidbits. Namesake: Nora Ephron.

Olympe: Will not countenance injustice. Namesake: Olympe de Gouges.

Patricia: Elegant, calculating, and highly skilled at delving into psychological motivations behind people’s behavior. Keeps a family of pet snails. Namesake: Patricia Highsmith.

Penelope: Former Trundlewood student. Namesake: Penelope Farmer.

Sandra: Writes on citrus parchment. Throws mangoes when provoked. Namesake: Sandra Cisneros.

Shangguan: A survivor at any cost. Clever and manipulative writer. Namesake: Shangguan Wan’er.

Sigrid: Gray eyes underlined by ashen half-moons. Long, thick hair, which she wears in braids on her head. Namesake: Sigrid Undset.

Sylvie: Student most likely to cause a riot at the Academy. Awkwardly slim, birdlike, and ceaseslessly energetic. Namesake: Sylvia Plath.

Zadie: A former Trundlewood student. Namesake: Zadie Smith.

Trundlewood Trust

Quinn Abney: Interim trustee of the Trundlewood Trust who inherited the position after her husband died. Strong likelihood of ending up as a prisoner in an onion cupboard.

Marcellus Barculo: Member of Trundlewood Trust, and heir of a rapidly diminishing fortune.

Mia Bedeau: Lydia’s granddaughter and heir. Member of the trust.

Ryder Croft: Gentleman of the merchant class and member of the Trundlewood Trust. Social climber.

Abacus Grimsby: Numbers man. Accountant for Trundlewood Trust. Responsible for the disappearance of a shade of violet from the color spectrum. Afraid of children. Once attempted to eliminate toilet paper from the school’s budget in a fit of fiscal conservatism.

Kirby Hernshaw: Joined the Trundlewood Trust in hopes of securing a position as the school for his sister’s daughters.

Lydia Mancini: President of the Trundlewood trust. Battleaxe. Rich. Can trace her roots to the pagan tribal queen Adelais who led her people in a rebellion against the Romans and famously killed herself by charging through a bee’s nest in the forest rather than be captured by the Romans.

Massey Scroggs: Gruff caretaker at Trundlewood Academy for Unwanted, Wayward, and Unusual Girls, and only male inhabitant.

Bettina Van Vleck: Romance novelist. Former Trundlewood student. Member of the Trundlewood trust. Affinity for capes and dramatic clothing.

Liam Waters: Trundlewood Warlord. Most famous patron of the Brass Rail. Rider of Rocinante, most noble steed in Elhal. Stylish as hell. And gay.


Andrews: The youngest teacher at Trundlwood. Given to biting people, as it turns out.

Bates: Approaches teaching with religious zeal. Stoic. Proponent of good sense.

Cook: Cook at Trundlewood. Feisty.

Hart: Trundlewood’s eldest teacher. Sometimes given to sleeping when important subjects are under discussion.

Lily Ludlow: Tattooed librarian. Unwilling censor.

Reese: Teacher at Trundlewood Academy.

Brotherhood of the Righteous Haddock

Damacias: Skilled fisherman. The progeny of dentists. Leader of the Brotherhood of the Righteous Haddock.

Amadeo: One of Damacias’ Archangels. Romantically entangled with the leader of a lettuce picker’s union.

Berilo: Archangel. Member of the Gilded Trident.

Dulce: Archangel.

Faas: Archangel. Member of the Gilded Trident.

Iakobos: Archangel.

Kadmus: Archangel. Member of the Gilded Trident.

Kalum: Archangel.


Map by Reid Cain. Print

Amelige (means “America” in Cherokee). Second largest urban center in É:lhal behind Cansem. Most consider Amelige the cultural and intellectual heart of the country, if not technically the capital city. Archangels Iakobos and Amadeo are sent to Amelige to stop merchants from sending their wares up the Mem to Shilowa Pass. A city of free-thinkers who have been known to paint their houses strange colors and elect officials who wear neither patriotic pins nor ties.

Benda (means “fish” in Zapotec). The first village along the Qinchu trail, nearest Kakë:’ët.

Bizu (means “bee” in Zapotec). An island off É:lhal ‘s southeast coast.

Cansem (means “five” in Nomlaki). Capital city and financial center of É:lhal. Base of the Brotherhood of the Righteous Haddock. Home to hundreds of bizarre marketplaces and quarters, and twice that many rumors and conspiracies. Among the more popular markets are: the men’s fashion quarter, the smoked meat quarter, the smoking quarter, the fishing quarter, the water park quarter, the tanning quarter, the tea quarter, the temple quarter, the shaving quarter, weaving quarter, and the rubber ducky market.

Chúush (means “water” in Yakama). An ocean to the east and south of É:lhal. A source of fish, and escape from hunger and despair.

Cyyj (means “four” in Niesenan). The refuge of the rich who suffered the burden of large estates that would be unduly taxed if they resided within the limits of the capital city. A few dozen gated estates in the hills just beyond the gates of Cansem.

É:lhal (means “dog” in Yakukwé). The country in which all things—good, bad, and in between—occur and in which all people—good, bad, and in between—are born.

Gueye (means “five” in Zapotec). Village at the end of the Qinchu trail.

Gu’pl (means “two” in Tsimshian). The flat terrain at the base of a small mountain range known as the Holy Scrubbing Grounds. Damacias’ followers take pilgrimages to Gu’pl where they are baptized at first light in the condiment of their choosing.  A three-day ride south from Cansem.

Hemetca (means “one” in Ohlone). Kirby Hernshaw’s hometown, a quiet coastal town to the south.

Horenhot (means “sing” in Cayuga). Region to the far east, famous for its sacred pools. Beyond it lies a seemingly endless desert and, beyond that, who knows?

Hvshi (means “sun” in Seminole). A large patch of desert and salt flats occupied by a nomadic people who live in yurts they move every few days. Miles’ home.

Ilik’ (means “water” in Chukchansi). The largest lake in É:lhal, located between Amelige and the Qinchu trail. It has several dozens islands, the largest of which is Mítaat (“three” in Yakama).

Kakë:’ët (means “white” in Seneca). Second largest forest in É:lhal, unless you count the ghost forest of Raterennotha’ which obviously doesn’t count because it’s a ghost forest. Kakë:’ët is the source of the Barculo family’s incredible wealth, and the reason the Qinchu trail is known as a sad, haunted place.

Luptsinna (means “yellow” in Zuni). Village at the base of Trundlewood Academy in Shilowa Pass. It is densely populated with barbecue pits, though a small and well-respected lettuce pickers’ union also calls the village home.

Mem (means “water” in Nomlaki). Largest river in É:lhal, flowing from Shilowa Pass to Amelige with several towns along the way.

Nonpa (means “two” in Dakota Sioux). A fishing village in the north where the prophet Damacias was born and raised. It was in Nonpa that Damacias secured his first band of followers.

Ojisa (means “four” in Miwok). A branch of the mem that flows near Amelige.

Parwes (means “five” in Ohlone). Colony of beekeepers just west of the Horenhost sacred pools. Source of luxury ink for Trundlewood Academy and site of the Archangels Dulce and Kalum’s attempted invasion to prevent the colony from shipping ink to the academy.  It was in Parwes that he pagan warrior queen Adelais made her final stand against an invading army that outnumbered her own four to one, and a beeswax effigy in the colony center honored her sacrifice.

Pichca (means “five” in Quechua). Fishing town in the southwest corner of É:lhal.

Pínapt (means “four” in Yakama). A village along the Qinchu trail, between Benda and Gueye.

Qinchu (means “hummingbird” in Quechua). The trail from the edge of the Kakë:’ët forest through the villages of Benda, Pínapt, and Gueye to Cansem, the capital city. Because none of the villages were willing to shoulder the burden of the cost, the government built the trail as a nonsensical, loopy affair that forced travelers to tramp in giant circles. Most mapmakers refuse to include the Qinchu trail in their work because they’re worried it will be interpreted as an error and make them look sloppy.

Raterennotha’ (means “sing” in Mohawk). A forest that disappeared one night and no one has a clue how or why. A ghost forest.

Soopin (means “three” in Chukchansi). A coastal village south of Talhlhá’pi.

Sëksu (means “black” in Lenape). An island off the southwestern coast. A place where bad ideas fester and Damacias assembles a secret weapon he intends to unleash against Trundlewood Academy.

Shilowa (means “red” in Zuni). The name of the mountain range to the far north where Trundlewood Academy is located. Also, the name of the trail that leads from Luptsinna through the mountains to the academy—a very difficult pass to navigate, and the responsibility of a cart driver from Luptsinna who receives a stipend from the Trundlewood Trust for his service. Located at the base of the Mem.

Talhlhá’pi (means “five” in Chickasaw). The largest forest in É:lhal, home to hundreds of species of trees and thousands of animal species. The Gilded Trident is sent to the forest to cut off shipments of parchment to Trundlewood Academy.

Tar (means “moon” in Ohlone). An island off É:lhal ‘s southeast coast.

Yet’a (means “one” in Chukchansi). The region between Hvshi and Kakë:’ët. The least densely populated region in É:lhal and rumored home to a troop of kangaroos.

had·dock noun \ˈha-dək\
plural haddock also haddocks

Definition of HADDOCK: an important food fish (Melanogrammus aeglefinus syn. Gadus aeglefinus) of the cod family occurring on both sides of the North Atlantic that has a black lateral line and dark patch above the pectoral fin.


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