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|Catananche and the Artesian Well (youngsters:fairy tales, 2961 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Dec 25 2005||Views/Reads: 2866/1379||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|'Witches can look any way they like,' said Malus. 'Maybe it's time we left, before she puts a spell on us…' Another story from the fairytale land of Astrantia.|
Catananche and the Artesian Well (Another tale from Astrantia) © 2005 Ian G. Hobson Do you remember the stories of Callistephus, who lived in the enchanted land of Astrantia, where mythical beasts, and witches and warlocks were commonplace? And do you remember his encounter with the villainous Catananche; the creature who was half leopard and half bear? Well, Callistephus was not the only one to have trouble with Catananche, or Catan as he was more often called. One day, long after Catan had returned to his home in the north of Astrantia and forgotten all about Callistephus, he was asleep beneath a favourite tree at the top of a large rounded hill, when he was rudely awakened by three of his cronies. What are cronies? Well, friends, I suppose; though I wouldn't want friends like these. One, whose name was Malus, was a wily old jackal; a trickster and a thief, even worse than Catan, and a coward through and through. Another was Cytisus, a golden-haired fox, who might not have been such a bad fellow if he had not made the wrong sort of friends. And the last was Ginkgo Biloba, a large winged lizard-like creature, who could change colour, to blend in with his surroundings, so as to become almost invisible. Ginkgo Biloba was slow on foot and he walked with a twisting motion, with his long snout swinging from side to side. But occasionally, to avoid being left behind, he would flap his great wings and sail above the heads of his companions. 'Catan!' called Malus, the jackal, in his high-pitched voice, as he approached the spot where Catan was sleeping. 'What is it?' asked Catan, sleepily opening one eye. 'Can't you see that I'm resting?' 'Wake up!' replied Malus. 'There is something to the east, something moving across the flatlands. Something or someone is approaching our territory.' 'You mean my territory.' Catan opened his other eye and yawned. 'You forget, I have royal blood, and these lands belong to me... Anyway, how big is this... something? 'Big enough to be a caravan of merchants, we think,' replied Cytisus, the golden fox. He stopped just short of Catan and scratched his side with a hind leg. He was a little afraid of Catan and didn't like to get too close. Ginkgo Biloba, who was lagging behind, suddenly flapped wings and leapt forward, landing close to Malus. 'Mind those wings of yours, Gink!' exclaimed Malus. 'You almost knocked me over.' Ginkgo Biloba folded his wings and tasted the air with his long forked tongue. 'If I'd meant to knock you over, he whispered, 'you'd be on your back with your legs in the air.' 'Stop squabbling!' ordered Catan. ''Where is this caravan of merchants?' He got to his feet and stretched and then looked towards the east. It was late in the day and the light was beginning to fade, but in the distance he could just make out a long snake-like shadow making its way south-west. 'You are right, it does look like a caravan,' said Catan. 'And look, they are turning towards that group of trees; probably planning to make camp for the night... Quickly, let's go before we loose sight of them in the dark!' And with that, the four unlikely comrades set off together downhill, with Catananche bounding along, followed by Malus and Cytisus, and with Ginkgo Biloba trailing behind but occasionally flapping his wings and flying ahead. As darkness descended they lost sight of the travellers and even the small clump of trees, beside which they were camped. But soon they were guided by the light of several campfires and the smell of smoke and the sound of music. As they drew closer, Catan signalled the others to follow as he led them around the camp, so as to approach from behind a thicket of small bushes and brambles. And from there they Click here to read the rest of this story (270 more lines)
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