Episode 12 - The Stretching-post
In the centre of the post a fire blazes, casting flickering shadows across the remaining ruins and illuminating four towers that appeared to have been barely touched by age. Upon the towers, though nature had overtaken them, individual symbols stood out clearly where they had been carved into the stone. I warm myself by the hearth, taking comfort in its light, as the sky darkens. I look up when I notice a figure approaching from the corner of my eye. It is a Cat female, her fur shimmering oddly in the glow. Her swishing tail is fluffy, alerting me that she is of royalty. I look around me, confused that I am the only one of those sitting around the fire to notice her. She stops before me and, holding herself regally, introduces herself as a voice in my head.
“Welcome, sister, to the secret of the Princess. I am the High Princess who shall guide you. You have already proven yourself worthy,” she begins, gently nodding to Ken, Taur and Trolling, “do good and other Princesses will offer you their own help when you require it.”
I gather that she is speaking with me through our minds, so I think my thoughts loudly, hoping that she will be able to hear and understand me.
“Can you tell me about this place?”
I watch in realisation as her fur’s shimmering increases, her entire being fading away before my eyes. It’s once she has completely disappeared that I feel my consciousness shut off, my mind taking hold of my awareness...
I am surrounded by four towers, each holding a colourful, carved symbol. Thirteen of us sit around the fireplace, four leaders of the races, the four Green Sisters, and five that have proven themselves worthy; aside from my own presence at the table as the White Sorceress of the Woods, several others of importance are also attending.
Set before the tower with a symbol of their home, the snowy south-west of Obbisia, is Panthera Tigris, leader of the Tigormen. As a master tailor, they owned a shop in town, Scratch and were taking a break from their work to give their presence beside the fire.
A fellow shop owner, Panthera Leoris, sat beneath the tower with a flower upon it, the brilliant pink of the symbol barely able to represent the true beauty of the northern island lived upon by the Ligormen they lead.
Beneath the symbol representative of how a Cat-cat's soul would fly in the wind, the young king of the Catmen World sat still in mourning for the old king. Despite the old king’s death in the fight against the sea, the Catmen remained as masters of magic and the leaders of all races. Many of the races have their own shops, selling various magical items to those that require them.
Under the final tower, with a symbol of swords crossing, sat the ‘leader’ of the Monkeymen. Each visit brought a new representative, leaving all others uncertain as to the identity of their leader. As masters of fighting, they too had a shop in town selling equipment for duels.
A Wing Wolf had come from the mountains, this being the only time of year our Gods need to come to our world of the living. Despite looking similar to the other races aside from their wolfish features, they have wings that are so big they can sleep inside when folded together.
The High Princess, too, was present, acting as a speaker for Princesses of all races. Her fluffy tail was laid respectfully across her lap, her beautiful and clean white fur shining in the sun.
Sitting not far from her, was a short creature, half the height of all of us and with ears that end in a point like my Kentaurs and long, fur-like hair covering his entire face. He was the one chosen as speaker for the Fairies.
And, of course, the Green Sisters, four masters of Green Magic who acted as one entity. No one knows anything about those Catmen aside from a mutual gratefulness for their kind nature. Time and time again they had appeared to help the world when it needed it most.
When I open my eyes again, the light of the fire is blocked out by the alpha.
“Are you okay?”
Looking into his eyes and seeing his soul smiling at me, do I know him? I do know he is not a Wing Wolf.
“You’re not the Wing Wolves, who are you?” Staring intently at the wolves as the alpha chuckles.
“We are wolves from the mountains. We assist Wing Wolves by finding lost souls and leading them to the Magic Tree.”
“... So why are you helping me?
“We are helping the Necromancer in the fight against the Shadow-Crawlers.”
“She is the saver of this world. Fighting against the Black Sorceress.”
“But the Black Sorceress is just a story!”
“All tales have grounds in truth. Though the scroll in those stories was lost, we must find it before the Black Sorceress. She has travelled back to this time to kill you, before you gain power, and we have all travelled to fight against her, as everything revolves around you, my Princess.”
I understand everything he is saying but… this is such a mess. A big mess of time and scrolls and magic and…
“You’re saying it is a Sorceress, so who is she?”
“I am sorry, Princess, I don’t know.”
I believe I have to tell this wolf my plan about the Magic Tree, with the hope that they will join me.
“I must travel to the Magic Tree before this sorceress gains power. I need to meet a fairy there and bring the Black Scroll… can you help me through the mountains?”
“There is a wolf in town who might be able to help you. He is always in the new Milkbar.”
“Then, as Princess of the Woods, it is my duty to do everything in my power to save this world.”
Suddenly all the wolves are standing on their hind legs, shouting,
“You are our Princess Meow!”
How do they know my name? Did Trolling tell them? Where is my funny little Trollfairy? I look around and realise that Trolling is with the Blue Bird, still tethered by magic from my staff.
My spells flowing back into the staff. Trolling falls, just about being caught by Ken.
“... okay?” Taur continues.
“... missed you.”
I chuckle, amused by how the two speak together. Trolling, too, is laughing as he sits in Ken’s hands. I look up to the sky in search of the Blue Bird, surprised to find it undergoing a transformation. Why is it that so many creatures around me have been transforming?
Maybe it’s because… actually I have no clue.
As I watch, it grows in size, shining brightly with the white shield that fades into blue light flowing from the blue bird. The wolves crouch defensively around me, watching cautiously as the bird is reborn from the light.
It has become huge…
But what is it?
Its head is eagle-like but it’s body is long and scaled like a Basilisk. Scaled wings keep it up in the air, with a small dusting of feathers on the wings. Air blows forcefully from its powerful limbs as it flies into a landing, standing on clawed feet. Tail curling around itself, the animal begins to approach us. I calm the wolves, commanding them not to attack as I walk closer. Another fantasy creature. The books say, if I remember correctly, that it is ‘as large as small cities, powerfully attacking all that live.’ With it not being quite that large… Perhaps I could actually ride it?
“Blue Bird? Why are you following me?”
I ask when I have reached it. Having gained no response - and assuming it does not speak - I raise my paw out to it in a friendly manner, pleased when it moves closer to smell my paw. Clearly it likes me, as shortly after it moves away, it begins to dance happily, tail almost knocking down a tower as it swings out and around. Trolling’s laughter continues behind me as two wolves pull me back by my cape, just in time for the tail to swish by me. I can hear the wolves’ questions behind me as they discuss the new creature. It doesn’t take long before my two Kentaurs join them.
“I believe it is…”
“... a creature from…”
“... the Fairy World...”
“... no, the Eartha…”
“... no, from Litha…”
"... Perhaps the world of Montha?...
As the two continue to guess worlds I never have heard about - with the occasional suggestions from a wolf joining the mix - I watch the bird carefully as it is moving once more. I straighten my back as it falls into a bow, calmly reaching my hand out and touching it’s beak. I can feel that we have a connection; that it will heed my commands. My Sorceress Feeling tells me that it has accepted me as its Princess Meow. I turn to the wolves.
“This creature shall be known as the Ebony-bird.”
I stand proudly beside my Ebony, with Trolling landing upon my shoulder.
“I am Princess Meow. I will continue to the Magic Tree to put an end to these Evil Sorcerers of Black and Red magic. I will save the world from the Shadow-Crawlers and take the undead back to the Wing Wolves. I am not just Princess Meow of the Woods. I am the future High Princess of all Obbisia!”
The wolves howl with adrenaline, and I smile gently as two ghosts of past Princesses kneel beside me. They accept that I am a good choice to be the next High Princess.
“We continue to the city.”
Ebony lowers its left wing to the ground, allowing me to climb upon it. With its speed, we will make it to town quickly, and find this wolf who will help us. Wind blows through my fur as Ebony takes off. We can complete this quest!
Inside the book:
That will by chapters art by Azifri and character pictures by Sarah.Mørch