A Doomsday Book for Queen Mab – Entry #10
A census taker travels the length and breadth of the British Isles to survey the land’s supernatural inhabitants.
(I’ve decided to do a series of short vignettes inspired by the December 2012 prompts from the International Story a Day Group. Mostly to keep myself regularly writing and posting in this blog. This is based on the December 10 prompt “Cat Exploded”.)
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While the kelpie often liked lurking in dark damp places waiting for an unwary victim, at the moment he was longing for tea and cakes. The census taker’s sister Moira had been miraculously cured from her lethargic state after the return of her pelt and to celebrate, Moira and Aileen had gone to a famous seafood restaurant down in Padstow for tea. The kelpie had been invited, of course, since he had also played a role in retrieving the pelt, but before he could accept, Moira’s fiancé had roped him into a scheme of revenge against the fisherman Daveth who had stolen the pelt.
However, after a few inquiries with some local fishermen in Padstow, they had discovered that Daveth was in fact a newcomer to the area. And his name wasn’t really Daveth. It was Grog. And Grog was a troll in disguise. A troll who wanted to steal away a pretty fae to be his bride deep in the earth. When he had been mistakenly told by one of his sneaky henchmen imps that Moira’s pelt had been returned by her true fiancé, he had flown into a rage and vowed to destroy the Beast of Bodmin Moor. The kelpie knew this because he had rummaged around in the late Mrs. Nornwell’s purse and found a magic compact mirror. Among other things.
The kelpie lay low, hidden among the tall, wild heather. Beside him was Moira’s true fiancé, Jory. But no one called him Jory except Moira. Everyone else called him the Beast.
“I can smell him,” the Beast told the kelpie in a whisper. “He’s seen the decoy. He’s coming this way.” The Beast briefly grinned, showing sharp white teeth before turning back to observe the open windy moors with the steady, intense patience that came with his hunting cat instincts.
The kelpie bit his lip to keep from saying anything. From the very first, he thought the Beast of Bodmin Moor was a very dangerous being of considerable power. On top of that, the Beast was an expert in the human art of demolitions which meant that he was in demand all over the world—thus his frequent overseas business trips. And combine that with the fact that his future mate had been threatened, well, the kelpie was very glad that the Beast took an immediate liking to him and called him a fellow man.
The females, however, seemed to have a different opinion of the Beast. They called him cute, harmless, and completely misunderstood. One of Moira’s sickly sweet nicknames for him was kitty. To that, the kelpie gave a confused shake of his head. Perhaps it was the Beast’s human appearance which resembled the stereotypical boy next door.
“Are you sure this is going to work?” the kelpie whispered back. “Anyone with a brain could see through the ruse.”
“That’s the thing, though. No one has a brain when they’re in the grip of anger,” the Beast replied. “That is why whenever you want revenge, you should always plan it with a cool head.”
The kelpie was still not sure the elaborate plan would work, but he could do nothing but wait and wish for tea and cakes. For a while, he stared at the windswept moors, glancing down towards the south where there was nothing but more marsh and heather. To the north, the ground rapidly rose up to prominent granite hills. Strange piles of granite boulders littered the hilly landscape. The most prominent pile was a granite tor called the Cheesewring which consisted of smaller rocks at the bottom and the largest boulders balanced precariously on top. As the Bodmin Moor was the Beast’s home territory, it was one of the landmarks that he had pointed out to him while they had set up the trap.
At the moment, a single blackbird sat on top of the Cheesewring.
“There.” The Beast’s word was almost soundless but also excited.
The kelpie looked. The troll wore a large, shapeless green coat for camouflage. But since they had been looking for him, his movement made him easy to spot. He was also easy to scent, especially with the stink of fury rising from him. The magic compact mirror had not been wrong. Grog still raged that a potential bride had been snatched away from him.
“Move it,” mouthed the Beast.
The kelpie nodded and briefly looked down at the controller in his hand. He twiddled the knobs and switches and the decoy moved into position. The decoy was an exact replica of the Beast in his animal form—a gigantic black cat. The decoy moved back and forth and the grasses rustled.
Grog took the bait. Seeing what he thought was the Beast of Bodmin Moor, the troll charged ahead, his rage disrupted his glamor so that his ordinary human appearance melted into the puffy and warty face of a true English troll. Grog pounced onto the decoy with poisonous claws out, mouth open revealing black fangs.
“Gotcha,” the Beast said with relish. And at his word, the decoy cat exploded, splattering pig’s blood all over the moor. The force of the blast threw Grog up against the granite boulders, causing a small shower of pebbles to rain down on his head. The troll seemed dazed for a moment, but then he roared in fury. An exploding cat meant that it was a fake cat.
At that moment, the blackbird sitting on the Cheesewring raised its head and let out a single caw. From out of nowhere, blackbirds filled the sky and darkened the landscape. They spiraled downward like a funnel, aiming straight towards the troll. The troll looked up as he heard the near deafening sounds of flapping wings, and his screams of fury turned to terror. That did nothing to deter the birds.
The Beast yowled in triumph as he and the kelpie watched the blackbirds mete out a rather morbid punishment.
“You’re just lucky Queen Mab considers you an endangered species of fae and that there are strict penalties for poaching.”
“Why do you sound so sad? We won, Garrick.”
He gave a sigh as they got up from their hiding place and deliberately walked away from the scene of carnage. It would not do to disturb Queen Mab’s blackbirds from their feeding frenzy. “Yes. But at this rate, we’ve missed tea with Aileen and Moira.”
“Forget about tea.” The Beast slung a companionable arm across the kelpie’s shoulders. “After this, we need something more manly. I’ll buy you a pint at the local pub.”
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Additional note: The Cheesewring is real.