She had known Maggie since she had started middle school. Her slim figure, topped by a cloud of red curls, had caught Lana’s eye right away. Being easygoing and sociable, Lana had not hesitated to go over to her to introduce herself, saying. “I’m Lana Vladner.”
Maggie’s green eyes had critically looked at the plain jeans and T-shirt on her but, as her eyes had drifted over her soft and gentle face, brightened by an open and genuine smile, she could not resist smiling back.
“Are you an elf?” She asked, scared by the sudden change inside of herself.
“I think I’m a girl.” Answered Lana, bending her head and examining her little body with curiosity.
“Well, that’s interesting, but now it’s time to go to class and, by the way, I’m Maggie O’Donnell.” Was the rejoinder.
Tac’s eyes were focused on the girl that wore the tiara, understanding that she was the most important person in the group. Another reason why he concentrated his attention on this girl was because of the expression of sadness on her face. She quietly left her friends and, deep in thought, sat alone on a stone looking at the girls who continued to enjoy the freedom of playing on an empty shore. He made a slight move on the tree to get a better view of the girl’s face and revealed his presence with the creaking noise. The girl lifted her eyes and met the frightened gaze of his green eyes.
“Who are you?” She questioned, displeased that somebody had seen her not completely dressed. “How dare you spy on me! I will make you pay for this. Come here!”
Tac did not move, being frozen to the branch. The girl made a motion with her hand and he was lifted by force and transferred to the spot in front of her.
“Let’s just see who you are, you shameless thing.” She made a circle with her hands. “Ahh!” She smiled when nothing untoward happened. “You are a real animal, despite my suspicions that you were a human being. Sit with me, unknown animal.”
Chapter 3 : Tac and Galibur Fend Off the Monster’s Attack.
Tac was again thrown out of the pouch, desperately digging his claws into the pillow but the fabric barely held his weight and started to give out so he pushed one of his free paws under the strap for support. His second paw ripped the fabric into shreds after his body was again thrown to the side. Since he was unable to do anything except hang-on to the cushion, the man-bird decided that the cat would be an easier target for his next attack and concentrated on him. The creature made a half circle and, before Galibur understood exactly what its intentions were, the wicked animal swooped down towards the rider and tried to grab him with a greedy hand. At the last second Galibur strongly flapped his right wing and, with this maneuver, saved Tac’s life. Instead of ripping the cat from the eagle’s back, the man-bird only managed to scratch his shoulder with its sharp claws. Pain first scared and then angered him to the point that he forgot that he was clinging-on in a very vulnerable position and his face turned into the mask of a cat in a rage, sending out menacing looks. Showing his small, but sharp, teeth he growled and hissed at the creature.
The monster stopped for a moment, surprised. His hesitation gave Tac enough time to make a fast attack, ripping the skin of the man-bird. It flew away screaming, losing speed and it’s dominating position in the battle.
When they had managed to get two thirds of the way over to the island, the water around the canoe suddenly came alive. Streams of bubbles came up to the surface from the depths below followed by the large head of a lake creature emerging from the water dangerously close to them. Validar froze in surprise but Shmata stood up to watch the monster. The creature studied them, turning its dragon-like head from side to side, then stretched its neck out in the direction of Validar trying to sniff him.
Shmata stepped forward and hit the lake guard on the nose with his paddle and cried out. “Have you become blind, Lammess, it is me, Shmata, and he is none of your business?” In response, the creature shook its head and immediately dived under the water.
Chapter 6. Bessa and the Star.
“I don’t know yet.” Validar dismounted his horse and crept towards the edge of the opening to get closer to the light. He stopped, hiding behind the tree nearest to the water, and saw that the star continued to move slowly towards the shore, hanging low above the water. Its dull, blue light gradually came closer and closer until the first beam touched the sand, blazed up brightly for a moment and then dimmed down. Only, instead of seeing a star, Validar and his friend saw a figure resembling a fuzzy, human shape. Slowly it came into focus in the form of a woman’s body, dressed in a very long dress adorned with narrow long sleeves. Both of the spectators felt that the clothes were not just dressed on the figure but were an integral part of it. They did not see any line between the clothes and the skin, in just the same way as the hem of the dress did not show any feet. The girl was just floating above the ground, dragging a long train of light behind her. A long shawl, composed of a fine thread of light, draped from her shoulders and appeared to be kept up only with her bent elbows. Silence followed her until the dark figure of Bessa jumped out from somewhere and plucked at the edge of her shawl, stopping the animated star that now looked in innocent surprise at the creature that had caught her.
“I have got you!” Shouted Bessa, triumphantly. “I will give this shawl to my Mistress and she will forgive me for my failure to fulfill my task.” And he pulled harder on the shawl but the star decided to protect her belonging and held onto it firmly. “No, I will bring you to her to make a good lamp-post in her yard.” Bessa cried out.
“Don’t tell me that you don’t know it. Go and open the door!” Replied Validar, turning Bessa towards the house.
“Okay, okay! But remember, I told you that the Mistress does not like intruders.” And he walked up the stairs again, put his lips right up to the crack between the door and the wall and whispered the spell. What happened next made Validar and SanFar back off a few steps. The log cottage suddenly stood up, revealing a giant pair of chicken legs attached to its underside. It bent itself on an angle, shaking poor Bessa from the porch, and gave him a powerful kick that made him roll over his head.
Chapter 7. Leubarta and The Magic Dance.
Following this, she took a sip from the glass but poured the rest of the wine into one of the long sleeves of her dress. She then ripped a wing from the roasted swan which had been placed on the table for the guests to eat. Having eaten the meat, she threw the bones into the other sleeve.
The onlookers watched her, fascinated, and waited patiently for her next move. Leubarta asked the musicians to start playing some music and she moved slowly and gracefully, almost floating, over the floor. After making a full circle, she waved with one hand and a small pond appeared right in the middle of the room. The Princess then waved with her other hand and three white swans jumped from her sleeve to land on the water and began to swim in a circle.
Eventually, Ruslan saw an oval lake surrounded by white and yellow Lilies. The feather dropped into the water and sank, its task fulfilled. He looked around and spotted the white, feathery end of his arrow rising up from the mass of leaves and flowers. The water in this place barely reached up to his waist, but masses of stems attached to the bottom of the lake made his walk towards the arrow a very slow one. The view from a closer distance revealed to Ruslan that his arrow was not alone on the pierced leaf. A big frog was sitting next to it, looking at Ruslan without fear. When he stretched out a hand to remove the arrow, to his surprise the frog caught the narrow body of the arrow in a green hand, claiming ownership of it.
The Prince stopped, puzzled by the meaning of it, and at this time the frog said in human language. “Your arrow has hit my home and, according to the rule, you must take me as your wife.”
Chapter 8. Animals Parade in Murraydale.
The animals were all waiting for him. They formed a half circle, some sitting and some standing. Carl opened the back of the platform and said to them. “O.K. fellows, come inside. Your boss is sick and you must listen to me. I don’t know how to work with you, so please co-operate.” He then paused, searching for words, feeling like a fool.
Tac decided that it was a good time to interrupt and gave an ordering “Meow.”
Tac, on the other hand, did not need to hurry so he straightened his fur and muttered to himself, ironically. ‘It looks like stealing bank papers has become a specialty of mine.’
Chapter 10. Carfield’s Narrow Escape.
Angry and frustrated by his loss, the creature then made an attempt to attack the poor, old crow by jumping high out of the water and barely missed Carfield’s legs. The beast fell back with a splash of water that almost knocked Carfield into its wide-open jaws. Fear, and a desperate desire to stay alive, made him forget all about his tiredness and his age and made him work miracles with his wet wings. Screaming hysterically, the crow made it to the shore, followed by the living submarine while Tac and Galibur only watched, terrified, but unable to help.
“The collapse of the side of the mountain attracted the attention of my cousin, Seran. He was searching for injured animals. But, instead of food, he found a beast and was lucky to escape undetected to relate this story to me. For him it was just amusement, but for me it was a real concern. Therefore, I flew to the mountain myself but I could not find the dragon in the western part of the mountains. As I was circling above the area, another member of my family crossed my path and, during our greetings, he mentioned that he had noticed a strange structure that resembled a tower. The dragon had built his new home on the northern mountain of the chain, where two sharp peaks with poorly vegetated slopes have created a deep valley.
Chapter 11. Astrou and The Happy thought.
“Let me try to surprise him.” Tac closed one of his eyes to concentrate his thoughts on the figure of the clay beast. The creature moved towards the group with a low growl but suddenly stopped, blinded by a large white flower that suddenly grew out of his forehead. The monster hit it with his heavy fist, but the cheeky flower was sucked inside his body before its petals were crushed. Teasing the monster again, the flower opened itself on his shoulder and then on his knee. Growling in anger, the clay monster forgot about Tac and his friends in order to chase the annoying plant all around his body.
Tac was tossed onto the Prince’s shoulder and dug his claws into the metal section of his chain mail to hold himself in place. Ruslan’s own hands were fully tied-up keeping the shield up in front of both of them. The impact of the fire that the dragon shot their way was so strong that both of them were pushed from the smooth surface of the stone platform onto the burnt soil which surrounded the trench.
Chapter 11. The Second Astrou.
“Do not be scared.” The happy Thought advised them. “He is an Astrou and is dangerous only if you are afraid of him but, if you start to laugh, he will be disarmed.” Seeing that her friends were too frightened to understand the meaning of her words, Funny laughed and flapped with her hands like a child. At this, the savage man made a fast turn and transformed himself into a grotesque figure dressed only in a pink tutu and a helmet with a large, pink bow on each horn. Instead of a club, he was holding a stick with a sparkling star on the end of it. The man looked at the star in astonishment and then lifted the tutu to discover that his leather pants had disappeared, leaving his fat, hairy legs exposed. Now it was his turn to get scared and the expression of fright on his face made even the most fearful burst into laughter. Terrified, the man ran away to leave the way clear and the company of friends continued to walk along the pathway that, in some places, had disappeared under the bushes.
The Council members had already taken their places at their appointed stones and all wore breast plates that showed their high positions at this important gathering. Rory and his band, as special guests, were seated in a half circle next to Ruslan’s chair and the native animals sat on the opposite side. The low sound of casual conversation between the animals present at the coronation hung in the air like the buzz of working bees but was replaced with loud cheers when Tac quickly crossed the open circle in the middle and jumped onto the cushion.
Chapter 12.Troy and His Geese Kidnappers.
My presence scared the geese but, before they left the shore, three of them lifted the baby up and carried him over the bushes. I could not do anything, realizing that if I attacked the kidnappers they could easily drop the baby and I was not sure that I would be fast enough to catch him before he hit the ground. Whilst he was in the air, it would be safer for him to be with the geese because I had noticed that they cared for him.
Troy was sitting on the back of the largest bird and two other geese were holding him to prevent the child from slipping from the back of the leader. It was probably his first experience with birds and he appeared to be very intrigued, touching the soft feathers with his hands.
The little one probably decided that I was playing with him and giggled happily, but his parents did not see the fun in this. They became scared and wanted to take the baby back but I showed them my teeth, as had been planned. After that, most of the humans jumped up, screaming, until Tod appeared on the scene. He hit me with his shoulder and growled through his teeth. ‘Move farther away from Troy so that we will not scare or scratch him accidentally.’
‘I do not think that he is frightened. He thinks that we are the hired entertainment.’ I growled back, although I did jump aside for the sake of the baby.
We attacked each other, chest to chest, and pretended that we were trying to rip out each other’s throats.