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|The Secret of Fire Mountain (youngsters:fairy tales, 3340 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Jun 06 2006||Views/Reads: 5298/2350||Story 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (316 more lines)
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