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L is for Little Fibs that Couldn’t Hurt Anybody

by on September 25, 2013

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, the Yellow Fairy was about to fight a wizard’s duel with Peter Mordred so she could turn Catrina’s consort Perry back from a bear into a human person. Meanwhile, back at the castle…

Catrina was very much perturbed. It was one thing to decree that two people should settle their problems by a jousting match. It was quite another thing to actually organize it. There were a hundred logistical details to consider. She had to decide where the match was going to be; one couldn’t just hold these things on any old strip of lawn, after all. Catering had to be arranged. Javelins had to be provided. Seating charts had to be drawn up. She had to arrange for minstrels to play stirring tunes as the knights charged at each other with their pointed sticks. And that, of course, led to the issue of which knight should represent which family in the dispute. It was all so maddening. Even more so when she had to look after her newly born twins into the bargain.

Catrina had never been one for administrative detail. Perry, now, Perry had a head for these sorts of things, being a librarian’s assistant and all. But where in Character Hell was he? Abruptly, when the minstrels’ representative approached her in the castle throne room and asked if she could arrange to buy new harp strings as the old ones really were too frayed, all as Tamalyn and Timothy were howling for simultaneous diaper changes, Catrina snapped. Before she decided anything else, she was going to blasted find Perry. “And he had better have a sufficient explanation!” she exclaimed to the astonished minstrels’ representative.

Finding Perry was, of course, easier said than done. She searched the whole castle thoroughly. No one had seen him. No one, that is, except for his cousin the librarian. When Catrina got to him, at first he hesitated, shuffling awkwardly about and staring at the floor. Catrina glared hard. “Clearly, sir, you know something about where my husband has got to. I’d very much like for you to tell me as well. Please.”

“Well…” the old librarian said, trying to determine the right words to say. Then he decided that there really were no right words under the circumstances, and so he blurted it out in one great rush. “He touched the magical trousers of Merlin, and got turned into a bear. Then he fled the castle.”

“A bear,” Catrina said. She had heard rumors, but had dismissed them as idle gossip. Now she suddenly felt like she had to sit down. She plopped dazedly on a conveniently placed ottoman.  “Perry. Bear. Trousers. Bear. I…I don’t understand.”

The librarian was not looking forward to this next part at all. “Well, it seems that the trousers of Merlin are magically warded, so that if anyone who’s under an enchantment themselves touches them, the power of the trousers reacts. Perry was under some sort of enchantment, obviously, and therefore…”

“So…what, he was a bear all along and got turned into a human by mistake? He’s a prince in disguise? What? What sort of enchantment would he be under?”

Here the librarian had a choice. He had done some research after his poor cousin got turned into a bear. A bear was such an oddly specific thing to be transmogrified into, you see. After hours of dusty toiling in the castle archives, he had finally found an ancient magical text that listed all sorts of transmogrifications, and why they came about. There he had learned what Perry must have been, that would have caused him to turn into a bear. But if he told that to Catrina…he knew her heart would break. And she had the twins too. What would they think? And so, he made a swift ethical decision. “I don’t think it’s anything terrible. Didn’t you say that he had become Santa Claus in another time?”

Catrina sighed with relief. “Oh, right, yes. I had forgotten.” (This was no surprise, as her author kept forgetting that too).  “Well,” she went on, “I had worried that he was really a spotted toad gone wrong.”

“Oh, no,” the librarian said rather too hastily. “He is definitely not a spotted toad.”

She might have questioned the way he said that, had she thought of it, but at that moment there was a sudden loud crash, followed by more crashes, people yelling in shocked voices, and a flurry of alarm bells. Catrina ran into the corridor and bolted for the castle walls, her eyes blazing in irritation. All the things she had to do that day, and now her castle was under attack, again. This was completely unacceptable! The nerve of those people, whoever they were! Couldn’t they have picked a more convenient time to attack?

She scrambled up a flight of steps and burst out onto the east wall of Shmirmingard. There she stopped in her tracks in complete amazement. These weren’t ordinary attackers, oh no. She had expected a troll army maybe, or even a standard human army from a rival kingdom. She had some experience with modern warfare, what with her time-traveling and all. But this…this was completely beyond her ken.

The sky hummed with floating ships. That was the only way she could describe them. They looked like ordinary ships, from their glimmering sails to their prows carved in the shapes of mythical beasties, but they were floating. She could see birds ducking under their hulls. Then suddenly light flashed from their oaken sides (at least, she assumed they were made of oak; Catrina wasn’t too keen on biology), and the ground below erupted in plumes of earth. A squidge of mud splattered across Catrina’s cheek. “Oh dear,” she said. “This is bad.”

Shmirmingard’s knights rushed to the defense, sending up volley after volley of arrows. The arrows burst into splinters before they got anywhere near the floating ships. “Magic,” Catrina said quickly. “It has to be. Well, I’ve got a few magical tricks of my own!”

She knew exactly how to handle these people. Her trademark slow smile lit her face, even as she pelted back down the steps and towards her bedroom. Floating ships, her eye. Just wait till they encountered what she’d picked up on her last time-travel run. She’d show them. She’d-

Catrina tore into her bedroom, flung wide the doors of a particular wardrobe, and stopped dead in her tracks. It was gone. Mlrning. The Shovel of Thor. The most powerful weapon she possessed, even above her Sporksaber. It should have been there. Why wasn’t it there?

The answer to her question came with a sudden bolt of piercing white light that slammed her right into her own wardrobe. Catrina bounced off the back wall and landed in a pile of mothballs, but she sprang up quickly and started to rush out again. She came face to face with a solid wall of clear blue ice, encasing the wardrobe entirely, and her inside it. Catrina banged her fists on the ice, but to no avail. She could just see outside it, though. Standing calmly before the frozen wardrobe was a collection of blue-uniformed officers, their leader holding the Shovel of Thor in her gloved hand. Catrina was so upset by the sight of this invaders in her own room, holding her hard-won Shovel no less, that she couldn’t fire off a challenge more stirring than “You give that back!”

“No,” said the leader in clipped tones. “This Shovel is now the property of the Atlantean Expeditionary Fleet. As are you. As is all this land. I, Admiral Lucia, claim it for Atlantis.”

“You have no right to claim anything here,” Catrina shot back. “I’m Catrina, lawful princess of-”

“We do have right. Among other things, right by marriage. Your prince consort. He isn’t really yours. He’s ours.”

Catrina went very pale. “What?”

The officer sighed, as if she had better things to do than explain all this. “We magically shielded him so he could infiltrate your country and report back. Didn’t even know he was doing it. But he’s your prince now, so we claim the throne.”

“He was working for you,” Catrina said, in a voice that was small and quiet. “All the time. His name isn’t even Perry, is it.”

“No. Real name’s classified. Now, you’ll remain there for the present. My lieutenant will be along to collect you. Resist: you die. Surrender: you live. Simple as that.”

Admiral Lucia turned and marched away. Catrina slid to her knees in the cold wardrobe. She couldn’t fathom it. She just couldn’t. It wasn’t right. And then she wondered if anything would ever be right again.

This has been another exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. You can also visit my Amazon page, where I’ve got something new now; you can buy a paperback copy of all the Catrina stories from the first year of the Catrina Chronicles. Because if comic strips can do collections, why can’t I, right? Of course, right. 

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2 Comments
  1. Usually my comments are more geared towards silliness and references, and while they exist in this as well, it was a great piece of story telling too. Action packed and Atlanteans, what more could a gal ask for 🙂

    • Can’t go wrong with Atlantis. I’ve been fascinating by it ever since The Magician’s Nephew. 😀

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