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The Secret of Fire Mountain (youngsters:fairy tales, 3340 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Jun 06 2006Views/Reads: 3882/1652Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
But suddenly there was a scream. A scream so loud and so frightening that everyone on the hilltop froze in terror… Another bedtime story from Astrantia (following on from Luzula and the Northern Lights)
 



The Secret of Fire Mountain (Another tale from Astrantia) 

© 2006 Ian G. Hobson 

Catananche was in two minds.  Odd expression that, isn't it: in two
minds.  But we all know exactly what it means, don't we?  It means not 
being able to decide between one choice and another.  And of course, 
Catananche, or Catan as he was more often called, was frequently in two 
minds because he was, after all, half leopard and half bear.  And as 
always happened at a certain time of year, Catan was in two minds about 
whether to fatten himself up for the coming winter and then to 
hibernate - which is what bears do - or to simply go south to where the 
winters are warmer – which is what the leopard half of him always 
wanted to do. 

Now the previous winter Catan had opted for going south, so this time he
was thinking that maybe he should be lazy and find a nice comfortable 
cave in which to spend the winter.  'Yes, that's what I'll do,' he said 
to himself as he lay comfortably in his favourite sleeping tree.  'Yes, 
and I'll have some peace and quiet for a change; away from these 
imbeciles who seem to think that they are my friends, especially that 
Mimulus. 

Mimulus was a large, but very agile, young monkey, and a new friend of
Catan's.  Though friend was not quite the right word; he was more of a 
hanger-on really; like a guest at a party that drinks too much of the 
wine and eats too much of the food and thoroughly outstays his welcome. 
 Catan had met him when he'd journeyed south the previous winter and 
foolishly invited him to come and visit.  Which was another reason 
Catan didn't want to travel south again, because the increasingly 
irritating Mimulus would be sure to tag along.  Catan closed his eyes, 
deciding to try and get a little more sleep; he had been woken far too 
early by two noisy crows having an argument over a worm.  But almost as 
soon as he had closed his eyes there was another noisy commotion as 
Malus the jackal arrived at the base of the tree. 

'Catan!' he called, in his high-pitched voice.  'Catan, wake up, wake
up!' 

Catan groaned and looked down at Malus.  But before he could enquire
what all the fuss was about, Mimulus, who had been sleeping several 
branches higher, came lumbering down the tree, swinging from branch to 
branch, and shaking the tree so much that Catan almost fell out of it. 

'You fool!' roared Catan, clinging to his sleeping branch for dear life.
 'Are you trying to kill me?'  He regained his balance and then 
threatened Mimulus with a paw full of sharp claws.  'If you do that one 
more time, I'll rip the fur from your back and make a fire-side rug out 
of you!' 

'Oh, sorry, Catan.  I didn't see you there.'  Mimulus had come to rest
on the branch above Catan and from there he fell slowly backwards until 
he hung upside-down by his tail.  'What's a fire-side rug, anyway?' 

'I don't know,' replied Catan, glaring at Mimulus's upside down head,
'but it's sure to be something horrible because a witch once threatened 
to make me into one.' 

'Catan!'  Malus was still trying to get Catan's attention.  'Catan,
there are two children crossing our territory.  I saw them on 
Snapdragon Hill at dawn.  There's not much meat on them but they should 
make enough of a meal for the two of us.' 

'You mean my territory!' said Catan, angrily, as he slid down the tree
trunk.  'Why do you always forget that I have royal blood, and that 
these lands belong to me?  And as for making a meal; if there's 
anything left after I've finished eating, then maybe, and only maybe, 
you will eat too.' 

'And me,' said Mimulus.  'Don't forget me...  What are children,
anyway?' 

*** 

'Wait a moment,' said Callistephus as he stopped just inside the woods


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