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Astrantian Tales - Part 1. Callistephus and the Emerald (youngsters:fantasy, 2719 words) [1/3] show all parts
Author: Ian HobsonUpdated: Apr 17 2004Views/Reads: 3830/1892Part vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This is the first of three (or perhaps more) children's stories set in the fairytale land of Astrantia. If you are looking for a bedtime story, then look no further.

Astrantian Tales - Part 1 Callistephus and the Emerald 

© 2003 Ian G. Hobson 

This is the first of three (or perhaps more) children's stories set in
the fairytale land of Astrantia. If you are looking for a bedtime 
story, then look no further. 

*** The boy, Callistephus, lay at the entrance to the cave, on the
hillside, where he lived. He was waiting for the sun to rise. He lay 
with his head on his front paws and his tail swishing the dusty floor 
of the cave. You may think that an odd thing for a boy to do. But 
Callistephus was no ordinary boy. 

Callistephus lived in Astrantia, an enchanted land. A land where
mythical beasts, and witches and warlocks, and magic spells were 
commonplace. And Callistephus himself, was enchanted. That is to say, a 
magic spell had been cast upon him; in fact, several magic spells. 

When Callistephus was but nine years old, he had fallen foul of a witch
called Asperula. She was neither a good nor a bad witch but she was... 
well, not the most clever of witches. Asperula had caught Callistephus 
helping himself to plums from her best Victoria plum tree, and had 
called him 'thief!' She had pulled him down from the tree and shouted 
at him, and threatened him with all sorts of evil magic spells. But 
when Callistephus had started to cry she had taken pity on him and 
decided to cast a spell that she thought more suitable for his crime. 
So she stoked the fire under her cauldron and danced around it, 
throwing wild flowers and herbs into the boiling liquid, and chanting: 

'Columbine and Comfrey Into the pot, with Snake-Weed and Willowherb And
whatever I've got 

'Hog Weed and Borage May give him a fright But Purslane and Lovage Will
set the boy right 

'Pearlwort and Scabious May cause him some grief But Woodrush and
Honesty Will transform this thief 

'He will be not the same By night or by day Throw in, for good measure
Pennisetum and Bay' 

Asperula continued to chant like this for a long time, but unfortunately
she became confused and got some of her chanting wrong and cast more 
spells than she meant to. To be fair, she did get something right. She 
did, as intended, make Callistephus the most honest person in the land, 
unable to steal, or even to tell a lie. But she had also stopped him 
from growing any older, and, worse than that, she made him turn into a 
wolf each night, between sunset and sunrise. 

For Callistephus, this seemed terrible at first. For he could no longer
live with his father in the village. And even his friends were afraid 
to play with him. But soon he made other friends; birds and squirrels 
and badgers and even a porcupine. And being a wolf by night did have 
certain advantages. His wolf's coat kept him snug and warm, and few 
other creatures bothered him. In the darkness, he had no one and 
nothing to fear. And he could roam far and wide and yet always find the 
way back to his cave, no matter how dark the night was. But always he 
longed for the sun to rise again, so that he could once more be a boy. 

Callistephus looked to the east, where he knew the sun would soon rise.
And as it did so, he was instantly transformed from wolf to boy; a 
handsome boy, tall and straight, with long golden hair, and dressed in 
simple clothes made from soft leather. He set off down the hill on a 
well-worn path, stopping only to drink water from a stream. He was 
hungry, and at a fork in the path he went east, towards a hollow tree, 
where villagers left him food. Of course, the villagers were afraid of 
him. Afraid that he would turn into a wolf and attack them. But they 
were sympathetic to his plight and so, for many years, they had left 
him food at daybreak. 

As Callistephus approached the hollow tree he saw a little girl place a
basket inside it and then turn and run along the path to the village, 
as though her life depended upon it. He ran to the basket and looked 
inside. There was bread and cheese, a hardboiled egg, and even two 

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