The Reptilian Vaudevillians arrived every ninth full moon, and their performances were so mesmerizing that beasts and creatures of every ilk would come and gather by the swampy stage to watch, to be awed, to laugh, and buzz, and hiss, and rattle.
Waiting nine full moons was not a trying task for some, like the turtles. But for my kind…we didn’t live long enough to see a second performance. We are but mayflies. We are not meant to laugh or buzz or hiss or rattle.
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“Is it true that you once beat Hare in a foot race? It can’t be true. But is it true?”
He continued walking along as the little black bird flapped around him. She landed on a nearby branch.
“I’ve heard that you’ve seen the world from above as a bird does when she’s flying. Is that true? How did you do it? It can’t be true. But is it true?”
Tortoise sighed again. But he also smiled.
Starling was young and eager. But she was also persistent. And she was also perceptive. She noted the smile on Tortoise’s face. She understood what it meant. He had expected her to grow tired of asking him the same questions day after day. But she had done so for five days now. Perhaps he would deem her worthy enough to deserve some answers to her questions.
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Tortoise trundled to the front of the assembly, bowed before the king and queen, and spoke.
Gasps and whispers passed through the assembly of animals. Suddenly, Cheetah appeared before them all. She bowed before the king and queen.
“That cannot be,” Cheetah said. “For Lightning is my mother.”
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At the base of the tower, I have grown vines studded with thorns as long as my arm. Not the dainty thorns of thistle or rose. But deadly thorns like skewers. Thorns that grow thorns of their own. There is no way to climb through them without getting tangled and pierced. Many a woodland creature have become mired. I cannot free them. I can only end their misery and watch as the vines devour them until only bones are left. It is useless to chop through the vines. For when they are culled, they grow back within a few heartbeats, thicker than before. I am protected. I feed the plant with my own blood. A drop a day suffices. For I am no woodland creature. My blood is full of nourishments beyond that known to beast or man. My body is a channel for greater powers. I was not told before I ran away to my tower what I am. I brought the knowledge with me. I gathered it as I wandered. I gathered herbs and I gathered books. I gathered leaves and dirt and rain. I gathered powders and tinctures and metals and stones. One day as a heavy rain fell outside and as my candles flickered, I read the word that my family tried to hide from me. The word that told me what I am.
Read More The Witch Rampion