The Hole

9 September, 2011 at 14:47 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

Sam was angry. Sam was very angry. She was so angry that she had taken off the pretty party dress that Mummy and Uncle John had brought for her birthday and she had run up the garden in her vest and knickers. It would make Mummy shout, she knew, but Sam was so angry that she didn’t care.

Daddy wasn’t coming to her birthday party. Daddy had phoned to say that he had to stay on the rig for another few months. This hadn’t made Sam angry, this had made Sam upset and she had gone to the living room to have a little cry in front of the balloons that Uncle John had blown up. Mummy hadn’t known where she had gone, or else she hadn’t realised how loud her voice was, or how well Sam could hear, or, or, or she hadn’t cared.
Mummy had said to Uncle John that she had known that Daddy wasn’t coming and that Mummy and Daddy had decided not to tell Sam beforehand but to wait to phone her up on the day to say that Daddy had to stay on the rig. Sam was angry because they had lied and Sam was angry because she had been looking forward to seeing Daddy and now she felt stupid for doing so.

Sam was angry and she was running up to the fence at the top of the garden and she was climbing over it and running across the field in just her vest and knickers. She hoped that that would upset Mummy a lot, and, just as she hoped that she tripped. She fell over her own feet and tumbled, down and down and down, much further down than the ground because, it turns out that what she fell over was the edge of a hole. She fell right into the hole and tumbled and scraped herself going all the way down, it was a very long hole.

As she picked herself up she heard sounds, pleasant, gentle music, like her older sister Kelly playing the harp, but much nicer. She saw lights down the tunnel that it seemed she had fallen into and walked towards them. The tunnel widened out and she could see hundreds of people in beautiful clothes dancing and dancing to the beautiful music. To one side were tables upon which were set piles and piles of fruits and foods in a multitude of colours.
It occurred to Sam that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast and that she wasn’t going to go to her party so she edged close to the table.

A bearded man, a little shorter than she was, was filling his plate. He turned to her, “You s’posed to be here?” he asked.

“Um…not really,” admitted Sam.

“Ahh,” he said, nodding wisely and tearing into a chicken drumstick with his teeth. With his mouth full he continued, “If you eat any of this, you won’t be let leave.”

Sam’s eyes widened in surprise.

The man continued, “You’ll have t’stay here and dance with us’ns and you’ll never see your Mummy and Daddy again.”

“Good.” said Sam, who was still angry, and immediately swallowed a grape from the table.

Much, much later the ambulance crew were explaining that it might help Uncle John if he went on a first aid course.

“All that was needed was the Heimlich,” said the ambulance driver. “You’re lucky we got here when we did.”

Uncle John nodded in agreement, looking at his sister holding his tiny niece very protectively.

The driver continued, “You shouldn’t really serve such small grapes at a kids party, they’re so small they really are a choking hazard.”

Uncle John nodded again, “Yeah, I don’t really remember putting them out.”

“Kids eh.” said the other paramedic walking back from Sam and her mother. “Who’d have ’em, they find the darnedest things.”

“Yeah,” said Uncle John, dazed.

“Anyway, she’s safe and sound,” continued the paramedic, stroking his beard. “We’ll be getting off in case there are other little kids to save.”

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Afternoon Tea with the Faun

5 September, 2011 at 12:12 (Castle Moon) (, , , , , )

The little Faun kept referring to Ninja as The Daughter of Bast and presently she let him alone with it. He took her back to his dear little house in the dark and snowy woods and made her a delicious Assam blend which she drank down gratefully. Presently, as any clear thinking reader will have expected she became very sleepy.

She awoke to the sound of the Faun sobbing. Now, Ninja was a kind hearted sort of moggy who couldn’t bear for anyone to be sad around her so she went to him. This is why she wasn’t seen in The House of Ulster for quite so long.
“Oh dear Faun, whatever is wrong?”
“Oh I’ve been such a very bad Faun, such a dreadfully bad Faun.”
“I’m sure you can’t have been as bad as all that. I’m sure you’re a perfectly nice Faun.”
“I’m not! I’m not!” wailed the Faun.
“Look, whatever’s the matter?” asked Ninja.

Then the Faun explained to her that she was in the realm of the Snow Queen, a beautiful siamese cat who ruled over the world with a rod of iron and ice. He also explained that it was the Snow Queen’s orders that any other Daughter’s of Bast (which Ninja eventually worked out meant cats) were to be brought before her and that he had given her drugged turkish delights in order to do this.

“Have you done this to any other cats?” asked Ninja, horrified.
“N..n..no…” stammered the Faun. “Just a cabbit.”

“What the hell’s a cabbit?” demanded Ninja.

“Uh…a kind of creature who can’t decide if it’s a cat or a rabbit.”

“What happened to the ‘cabbit’?” asked Ninja, dropping audible apostrophes around the word.

“He’s a prisoner of the Snow Queen.” said the Faun.

“Then we must rescue him,” Determined Ninja.

It was then that they both heard the tinkling of sleigh bells outside the dear little house in the dark woods.

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From The Cave

29 August, 2011 at 11:02 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

Jack Frost is a tall figure, tall and spindly and slightly blue-grey around the edges. If you were to see him walking down the street then you might think that he was very, very ill. If you were to see him sleeping upon a park-bench then you would probably think that he was dead. He wouldn’t be of course, it’s unlikely that a creature such as Jack would ever be found dead on a park bench. Unlikely, though not impossible.

Jack Frost is responsible for ice crystals, frost patterns and leaves frozen delicately into place on autumn mornings. It’s not exactly a well-paid job nor even especially rewarding, except in the most artistic of ways. The methods that Jack uses to supplement his income are spoken about in dark corners and beneath carefully warmed shadows. Most widely known about are the necklaces that he brings to markets on the edges of faerie, or those several layers beneath London and Baghdad.

The magic inherant in a baby’s first laughter is widely known, indeed there are merchants at such markets who, it is rumoured, have fathered many children to have ready access to such products. Who continually fashion the curious alchemical glassware needed to capture these things. Sometimes Jack does come to the markets with such a bauble, to the annoyance of the merchants he will often come close to giving it away. Those baubles are widely known, those magics are easily captured by the slightest practice of the hermetic arts. Jack brings something unique, necklaces of baby’s tears, bracelets of the impotent rage of children, earrings of toddler screams and the echoes of a child’s first swear-word. These things are unique to Jack, if a merchant is selling them and they are real, then he has bought from Jack.

No one knows how he gets them, though the whispers in the dark places tell of unspeakable things and of horrors in woodlands and the far places of a child’s world. There is talk tht Jack had a dalliance with a woman and that he took something from her and since that time has appeared at the markets with something to sell, something that men have killed for in the past and doubtless will again.

But whatever is said of Jack Frost, that cadaverous, slender man, it is certain that whilst he sells his merchandise, the old and young, the wise and the seekers will all continue to buy.

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Negotiation

27 August, 2011 at 12:55 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , )

“Babababababa” cooed the baby, clutching it’s toes with it’s fingers.

“No way, I can’t go higher than twenty, it’d be un-natural.” said the tall, blueish figure above the crib.

“Brrrrrrrrrp” sputtered the baby, wetly, one hand waving wildly, foot still stuck up in the air.

“I can go to thirty two for the second major sale, not the first. Anyway, we haven’t closed one deal yet, never mind a whole sale.”

“Ssssssssss” drooled the infant, letting go of it’s feet completely.

“We could go up to twenty-two, with two early molars to be replaced at two years with the usual type.”

“Babababababababa”

“What deal you broker with here is entirely between the two of you.”

“Gugagagugagasszzzz”

“So, for twenty two how much would I get?” asked the tall, slender man stepping back a little.

The baby rolled back it’s head and bawled, the cry echoed around the room and filled the house. Tears seemed to threaten to roll down it’s cheeks at any second. Then the baby stopped it’s cry and focused it’s gaze upon the tall, blue man.

“We have a deal.” he said, eagerly. “Look, can you hold onto the merchandise? I’ve got to make a call to the buyer?”

The baby wrinkled it’s nose.

“I can make a downpayment in good faith,” offered the man.

The baby might have seemed to nod to an observer. The man, in anycase stepped forwards and gently took the baby’s jaw between his fingers.

“It’s delayed, be a few moments before it kicks in. Right, I’ll be back tomorrow night.” said the man, then in a flurry of glittering cold he swept out of the window leaving some ferny patterns under the eaves and a solitary icicle hanging from the gutter.

The baby began to cry, the man would surely have cursed the tears that he missed, but the baby’s mother, snoring in the room below didn’t curse at all that she slept straight through. She didn’t even notice.

When the blueish figure returned he noted at once the smell and offered, tactfully, his services to change his client. His client was too proud, however, to accept. He did flash a sudden smile at his tall visitor, showing the beginnings of pearly, white teeth. Jack grinned back. Then, they got down to business and the baby cried.

Even Jack was tired when they had finished, but they were both pleased with the day’s work as Jack held up three long strands.

“Blackbird’s going to be very happy with this deal. If you can keep this up for the next couple of years you’ve really earned your twenty-two.”

The baby just lay back in the crib, breathing hard, all cried out.

“Not many can, you know,” continued Jack. “Even if they’ve got the lungs for it, they’ll be constantly interrupted.”

“baabaabaabaaaaa” burbled the baby.

“We’ll renegotiate in seven years then. Pleasure doing business with you.”

The tall, thin figure left a flourish of swirls on the window but the baby didn’t notice, nor did his mother come up the stairs before they had melted clean away. She did notice her baby’s new teeth though, and wondered, somewhat distractedly, how much a teething ring would cost.

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Necklace

25 August, 2011 at 22:57 (Flash) (, , , , , , , , , , )

“Shhh” he said gently, to the crying baby. “If they come, they’ll stop you crying and then how will I harvest these?”

He held up a glistening dew-drop, suddenly solid and firm.

“Can you imagine how much I’ll get for a necklace of baby-tears?” he asked.

The infant stared, wide-eyed and the gangly blue man and, if you were of sufficient imagination, you might have thought it shook it’s head.

“A lot.” said the thin man. “And now for your part of the bargain. Sure about it?”

That imaginative onlooker would have sworn blind the baby nodded.

“It’s going to hurt.” he said.

The baby scowled.

“I can see you’re determined. Very well.”

Skeletally thin fingers were placed over the baby’s mouth and cheeks where they pressed for a moment.

“Right, pleasure doing business with you,” said the man. “And I promise they’ll start happening soon, but I’d rather take my leave first – never was very good with pain.”

So saying, he opened the window and clambered out onto the ledge leaving icy patterns in feather formation across the glass.

A few minutes later the baby set up with a lusty, roaring cry and it’s parents came racing.

Within moments the baby was out of it’s crib and being rocked by it’s mother whilst it’s father looked on anxiously, “What is it? What’s making it cry this time?”

The baby’s mother hushed and hummed and cooed nonsensically to the child whilst she tugged and prodded and pulled.
“Aha!” she said at last.

“Is he well?” asked her husband.

“Very,” she replied.

“No need to worry then?”

“None at all.” she laughed.

“Show him the window,” he said to her then. “Jack Frost’s been.”

“He’s not the only one.” she said, turning so the baby could admire the frost patterns on the window. “I think the tooth fairy’s started to call as well.”

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Sebastian of Portugal

23 August, 2011 at 21:12 (Lace and Steel, Short) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

It was a cold January when the king of Portugal was born and almost immediately he had entered the world the serving maid Belle, noblewoman of Aragon and satyr to boot, had him off in her arms to present to Maldonado. Of Queen Joan’s actions on that day nothing more is said but Maldonado, the half-horse astrologer made the prophesy that he is famous for and that did indeed come to pass.

Desired shall be the King and many mistresses will he take,
Though he human be he’ll fight for satyrs sake.
At Alcazar he will be turned, and flee within a rout,
By the eternal gates, his life and all of Portugal be turned about.

Brought up as he was by the two Mithraic priests his grandmother commanded never to leave his side Sebastian through himself into the fleshy pursuits at a young age. His conquests before the age of eighteen are legendary throughout Europe, such was his legend (fit to equal that of Casanova) bastards born still in Portugal are called ‘Sebastian’s Children’.
But as his proposals of marriage were turned down by the House of Valois and even the Hapsburgs, that curious intermarried political alliance of satyr and harpy, legends of Sebastian’s promiscuity lessened and that of his misogyny grew.

When he ascended to the throne women were no longer seen at court, soon throughout Portugal it was unheard of for a woman of decent social standing to walk along a street without a male escort. Though women were not seen at court Sebastian’s mistress, Rosinne Menezes would invite the ladies of the gentlemen of court to the upper rooms to which women were consigned without gentlemen escorts. These ladies would play whist and various other games until Sebastian’s law that forbade women to take part in card games. After that they danced, but he forbade that as well.

It was on the eve of his fateful war in Morocco that he declared women should wear no other colour than black, and, in a rare public appearance, Rosinne appeared by his side dressed as it’s now customary for Poruguese women to appear. That is to say, in the high combed cap with it’s trail of velvet and lace, not a hair in sight and with an unheard of high-necked collar, the golden symbol of Mithras at her throat, her figure swamped by the gathered sleeves and skirt.

Sebastian fought with mercanaries of every stripe and hew but the size of the satyr force within his army was unheard of, most were of the Germanic states and the Hanse lands. On the field of Alcazar, where he suffered his most epic defeat at the hands of the Moroccan King, Abd Al-Malik, his legend was made for his defense of the satyr general, Le Camoëns.

He stood, alone upon the field, this noble satyr,
Sebastian turned to face his general and his friend,
Across the field of war they stood, and the Moors held back,
Then with one shout that Royal Traitor Abd Al-Malik,
Commanded his trolls onwards where Le Camoëns stood.

It is said that Sebastian single-handedly fought off the thousand trolls Al-Malik sent against him as he retreated with the injured general. What is known is that Sebastian was in the last boat to leave the Morrocan shore and that the soldier and poet, Le Camoëns was with him. It is also known that when Sebastien and his general reached Lisbon they had already partaken of that curious water which has granted Portugal it’s strange magic. For Sebastian reigns in Portugal still, Rosinne Menezes his Queen and the shadowy satyr, Le Camoëns his advisor. Fashions and laws in Portugal have not changed for a hundred years and it is known as death to innovation and invention for all that it jealously guards it’s fountain of youth.

Sebastian, they say, was struck from behind with a spear by one of the Morrocan trolls. They say that both he and his satyr general should have died before they made Lisbon but that Sebastian’s Mithraic advisors ordered the boat make landfall at some secret cove. Portugal guards it’s borders assiduously these days and ware any, pirates or persons of nobility who make landfall on Portugal’s coastline.

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The Merfolk

20 August, 2011 at 11:14 (Lace and Steel, Short) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Off the Aquitainian coast are the waters which, a thousand years ago or more, one could cross to the gleaming citadels of Atlantis. Now, though, Atlantis is long gone, carried away by it’s overweaning arrogance and confidence in it’s polished, whirring technology and it’s fairy-bloodline of Kings. Now the ocean of the Atlantic is a deep blue-green and peaceful save for the song of whales and the ripples of the deep sea kraken.

It is, mostly peaceful, though if one were to dive below it’s surface, a little way from the coast one might hear the calm blue punctuated by the high-pitched tones of the merfolk, speaking and singing, each to each. If one were very lucky then one might catch a glimpse of brightly coloured scales, someway off in the distance, for these merfolk of the Aquitainian coast are not as friendly as those of the Breton coast, nor as warlike as those who claim the North Sea (with whom the half-horses have some sort of treaty). These merfolk are secretive, sometimes shy and sometimes not by turns.

There are tales that fifty or sixty years ago there was a merman, so captivated by the beauty of the Aquitainian Queen, that he wished to impress her in the way of Aquitainian men. So he had peasants construct a glass case, which he filled entirely with sea-water and then they carried him through the countryside singing. No-one had ever heard such beautiful songs, he sang both the ballads of the Aquitainian bards and also the traditional songs of his people. When he came to Toulouse the Queen leaned from he tower window to hear him and, upon catching sight of his purple scales and manly upper body she fell in love with him.

At that time the Queen had a husband, but it is the tradition of Aquitainian Queens to take lovers, so she took this merman as her lover in secret and kept him close at the court in Toulouse. There she had her dalliance and the merman bard frequently sang at the court and composed many ballads in honour of his queen.
The secrets of the Queens of Aquitaine have no power when it comes to the magic of the children of the sea and so soon the Aquitainian Queen was pregnant and bore a child as no Queen of Aquitaine does when they have a lover. But bear a child she did and this child could walk upon legs despite it’s fish-tailed father.

The rumours around court at the time were that the Queen and her consort argued day and night but that she had persuaded him to accept the child as her heir. However, on the day before the Queen presented her child to court, a party of horsemen rode to the castle and presented themselves to the Queen in her private chambers. All in black they were dressed and carried swords, hanging by their sides, larger than any had ever seen and of a burnished metal the like of which the finest swordsmith in Aquitaine had never seen. It is said that they were Frenchmen, and none know what passed between them and the Queen but they rode from Toulouse in the night, back to Paris or wherever it was they had ridden from. They carried with them a small bundle, one that they had claimed by an ancient right from the Queen and on the next day no heir was presented to the Aquitainian court and the merman bard was seen no more.

It is said he returned in sorrow to the great Atlantic Ocean and that this is the reason why the merfolk of the Aquitainian coast are rarely seen. So, if you are lucky you may hear the tones of their song as you dip your head beneath the waters. When you pull your head up it is likely that the salt water running down your face will be comprised of tears as well as the ocean. For the songs of the merfolk off the coast of Aquitaine are always sad ones since the bard left his Queen in Toulouse.

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Castle Moon

15 August, 2011 at 14:00 (Castle Moon, Long) (, , , , , , , , )

A greater man than I once wrote that he hated to read explanations in stories but that when he came to write them he immeadiately found that they were necessary. I suppose that I fall into the same trap when it comes to descriptions. I have written of the fact that the small, scruffy cat called Ninja came to the town of Castle Moon and that she found a room to rent there, but I have written nothing of what she looked like or indeed what Castle Moon looked like or given you any context within which to digest such information.

Ninja was a cat smaller than average with back and white fur which stuck up in a fluffy patch around both of her ears. She had a broad face which suggested that there may have been Persian in her anscestry (though a long way back) and whiskers that were very neat. She was a hardy sort, the walk from the Green County to Castle Moon is a long one and crosses the Nine Hills. But that walk is another story altogether and I must tell you of the town of Castle Moon itself.

Castle Moon is situated on the west coast a little way from the sea, the Moon river which flows through Castle Moon heads all the way to Moreinn on the coast. The salt planes that land there can be seen flying over Castle Moon almost everyday of the week. It is a walled town built across many levels and it is a magical one so there are no complete guarantees that the way I describe it to you is the way that it is when you read these words. In fact there are few guarantees that the town will look the same when you wake up in the morning as it did when you went to sleep.

There are five main gates into the wall, the one to the south is made of oak as it is the largest and it is decorated by oak galls rubbed all over with gold leaf. It is the one through which Ninja entered Castle Moon and saw to her right the great bulk of the university towering over her. To the south of the town is the Castle and to the north is the seat of much of the magic therein, the Park (the same one which is reserved for wizards only) with it’s palm trees and the fronds of giant ferns. Through the town also makes it’s way the Moon River, it cuts through the north and east and runs by the Castle like half of a moat. It does not change position though the buildings and bridges rearrange themselves over it. The canal is not so accomodating and likes to move through the mist at night. The aqueduct which I mentioned before is slightly outside of the town walls and it is here that sometimes the salt planes land to refill their water tanks before heading off to David’s Town or Lud’s Hill or wherever their load is wanted.

Ninja’s room is rented in a house on the third level – for the winding alleys and roads which double back on themselves go up and down which nearly no regard for gravity – the level is part way up one of the hills and is known as The Bower, probably because the inhabitants have the custom of bestrooning their houses and flats with the flowers from the outskirts of the park. It makes for a very cheerful part of town, full of gaiety and without so much of a need for heroes, which I suppose is a bit of a shame for Ninja.

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The Valley

11 August, 2011 at 15:24 (Lace and Steel, Short) (, , , , , , , , , )

He peered into the mirror at the suit’s reflection, he still wasn’t completely certain but his mother, visible out of the corner of his eye nodded, pleased. He looked down at the tailor, a small fellow, even for a pixie. The pixie seemed to be making some last minute adjustments to the fit of the hose, presumably accomodating for his hooves which didn’t seem to help the fuss of the fashion. He wondered if the pixie too felt the sense of ridiculousness and then concluded that he probably did not, his wings were tucked neatly into a roomy linen shirt showing at least a nod towards the fashion of the commoners.

He returned his gaze to the mirror, his own outfit was more than a nod. His mother had insisted that he be ‘up to the minute’ for his first presentation at court. This at least included a comfortable linen shirt but then the tailor his mother had appointed had been stopped short by the notion leg garments for a half-horse. His mother had written to her cousin and then shown the tailor some of the sketches and read out some of the descriptions of precisely what was being worn in Paris and Strelsau. The result were the modified stockings and hose that the tailor was fiddling with now.

The stockings had no feet and were tied to the ankle above the hoof with ribbon they extended above the knee where they were again attached by ribbon. The hose…he shut his eyes and refused to look at this part of his reflection…it looked more like an apron intended for wear by his sister. Brightly patterned with the greens and golds reflected in his doublet’s slashed sleeves, it billowed out around his upper legs and was tied at the waist over his shirt and below the doublet. It was of course open at the back where the rest of his body remained it’s unclothed chestnut coated self. He wished his father was still alive and would come in, wearing his favourite leather jerkin, and kick out the tailor and tell him that no son of his had to undergo this ritual humiliation. But his father was dead and his mother looked proud enough to burst at the sight of her son in all the needless fripperies of court.

“Of course you shall have his hair in curls?” asked the tailor of his mother.

“Oh yes.” she said and he winced at having his hair in rags the night before, so tight as to make sleep impossible.

“Can’t I have a hat?” he asked, thinking of the felt creations with the feathers that he had seen some of the french musketeer’s wearing.

“You’re too young for a hat.” said his mother sharply.

But not too young to have a sense of shame, he thought looking at his unhappy reflection.

“Is madam happy with the final fit?” asked the tailor.

His mother looked at him, had him turn around in front of the mirror, expressed some last concern over a part of the belt and then pronounced him finished.

It was with some relief that he shed the uncomfortable garments, pulled on a soft jerkin for what would be the final time and ran out of the house. His hooves clattered over the fashionable sandstone and at last began to sink slightly into the lush green of the estate beyond. He charged headlong up the valley until he leapt the stone wall marking the boundary of his family’s land and raced up the wild mountainside, breathless. Coming to the summit he paused and looked about him, the forested mountains, the farmed valley, the wild rocky mountains to the east and the warm civilised Ruritanian hills to the west. This would be the last he would see of them for some time. He breathed in the air that was his own, opening his lungs as much as he could, holding it in until he could do so no longer. There he remained, on the mountain at the end of the valley until the sun’s rays turned from bright daylight into the orange-pink of twilight.

He breathed his silent goodbye to the land of his childhood and turning to head back down the mountain wished he could put off the spectre of his adulthood just a little while longer.

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The Monster

8 August, 2011 at 13:55 (Castle Moon, Long) (, , , , , , , )

Once upon a time there was a monster, it wasn’t the sort of monster that lived in the dark and it wasn’t the sort of monster that hid in caverns. It was the sort of monster that like to hide in plain sight, in view of everyone. It lived in a small town on a river called Castle Moon and one day a small black and white ninja cat came to Castle Moon to destroy the monster.

It should be pointed out that the small cat did not know she’d come to Castle Moon to destroy the monster, in fact, she did not even know that the monster existed, she came to Castle Moon because she wanted to be a hero. The small cat came from the town of Fish in the Green County, a place far away from Castle Moon. She was called Cat because in the town of Fish there are not very many people so you don’t need particularly complex names. Because she wanted to be a hero, she called herself Ninja and on the way to Castle Moon she had trained for a while at the feet of a Grand Master known as Blue Eyes.

The monster didn’t know that Ninja had come to Castle Moon, the monster went about it’s day pretending to be a normal person and causing trouble for the inhabitants of Castle Moon. Ninja didn’t know about the monster, all she knew was that she had walked a very long way across fields and hills and bridges, she was very tired and wanted nothing more than to find a place to sleep. As she walked through the gates she decided that this was the first thing she would look for. Now, Castle Moon is a very confusing place for a small cat from the Green County with it’s winding alleys and high walls, it’s aqueduct, river and a canal that moves during the night. It’s not very surprising then that Ninja soon became lost and found herself on one of the upper levels of the Castle near to the Magical Park which is reserved for wizards and magicians only.

Being a very small cat, and not really being a hero yet, Ninja wanted nothing more than to sit down and cry. Being brave though, even if she wasn’t a hero quite yet, she didn’t. But she did look very upset, which is why a vixen with kind eyes got up from the cafe table she was sat at to ask if she was alright. When Ninja replied that she was lost the vixen invited her over to her table to meet her friends and have a cup of tea. The vixen turned out to be named Bysshe and her friends were a distracted looking lion by the name of Spod and a wolf called Bem. Over a cup of tea, which turned into several cups, Ninja discovered that she had made friends and also that they had a spare room in the house which they shared.

Bysshe said that if she wanted she could take a look at the room and think about moving in. Ninja decided that she wanted to very much and very happily walked with them to their neat little house tucked into one of the walls of the Castle. Inside she discovered that every inch of the house was painted yellow and decorated with daffodils.
“It’s beautiful,” she declared and agreed to move into the smallest room at the back which had a large wardrobe partially blocking the window.
“The daffodils are something to do with the curse.” said Bem.
“What curse?” asked Ninja.
“There’s a legend about Castle Moon being cursed.” he explained, “But I don’t know what with.”

When he had left her small room she clambered onto the wardrobe and out of the window to sit on the small sloped roof above the kitchen. She decided that if she was going to be a hero then she would have to find out about the curse and try to end it. The little cat nodded to herself very definitely.

Across the city the monster paused it what it was doing. It had no idea about the little cat or the neat little house decorated with daffodils but something in the air, perhaps caused by the firmness of her nod, made it shiver.

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