Faerret Tales: The Tail of the Grand Stoat An Adept Paws Interlude By Tempe O'Kun
Chib-bib the faerret tells our otter bard a legend of the Grand Stoat. ---------------------------------------------
Wind breathed over the balcony, scattering cinnamon glitter from Chib-bib’s wings.
Flots padded across the stone blocks, respectful of the mighty fey warrior who stood resplendent in his acorn helmet and bag of berries. The otter bowed, sunlight gleaming on his slick pelt. "I’m honored that you’ve chosen to coil yourself atop my belongings, stoat-orr."
The golden-pelted faerret bobbed up, weaving in the breeze like a windsock. "Yes-yes! It seems you are a civil otter-giant after all, once the slowness wears off." Eeling through the air on butterfly wings, he coiled around the pole of an awning, his hind end still atop the otter's pack. "For this I shall grant you the boon of a tale, the tale of a boon."
"Really?" Flots hopped from one webbed hind paw to the other, thrilled. His thick rudder swayed.
Nodding, the faerret steepled his tiny paws. "It begins long ago, as a beginning longs to go."
* * * * *
You must understand, or perhaps you mustn't, that it is the nature of faerrets to have kittles, and it is the nature of faerrets to have questions. Therefore, it is faerret kittles who naturally have the best questions.
* * * * *
The otter raised a webbed paw. "Wait, what's a kittle?"
Chib-bib tisked his tiny tongue, ears flicking. "A kittle is a faerret who is little."
"Oh. I didn't know they'd have a different name."
"What do you call otter-giants who are small?"
Chib-bib pondered that logic a moment, then nodded, continuing.
* * * * *
It was the time of the Annual Kaboodle, when all the kittles are invited to the the court of the Grand Stoat alongside their parents. This is the only time the Court of the Long is not held in two places at once, since that wouldn't be fair to the kittles, since they are short. Many events are held there, including the May poles, where we twirl around, putting practice into our stretching and putting our stretching into practice. It is for this reason that you otter-giants make cinnamon buns at this time of year, since your own coiling is limited.
Now, the Grand Stoat Bartle-bit, Leader of all Faerretkind, is beyond measure in both wisdom and measuring. As such, he permits each kittle to ask one question while in his court. This is the only way to be fair, and the only way to be at the fair.
At one such festival, the festive Pip-bib, daughter of Glen-glin, postulated the Questing Question with good posture.
"Oh Grand Stoat!" She asked, wriggling with excitement: "I have longed to know (for who knows how long): how long are you?"
The entire Annual Kaboodle gasped. 'Twas an excellent question and a question of Bartle-bit’s excellence. Everyone in sight changed their pelts to dandelion hues out of respect for the little kittle’s insight.
"A very good question, Pip-bib." The Grand Stoat remained his royal purple, though he shortened to her height to speak with her. "How do you propose we answer it?"
The kittle, conversely, turned pink, unready for such a turn in the conversation. She wiggled her nose and wiggled herself in thought. After a long moment and a moment’s longing, she spoke: "To me, it seems straightforward that you’d go straight forward until you can’t."
The Grand Stoat nodded, swayed by her words until he swayed sidewards.
* * * * *
"What is the difference between stoats and faerrets?"
"Stoats and faerrets long since became the same and have been long ever since, never the same." Chib-bib rolled his eyes, then rolled backward into a handstand. His tiny satchel of berry dangled from one shoulder. "The Grand Stoat Bartle-bit is so called because he caused the grand call of the stoats."
"I see." The otter settled into a cross-legged sit.
* * * * *
The business formed into a troupe and trooped off to continue their business.
* * * * *
"What's the difference?"
Chib-bib coiled and recoiled at being interrupted once more. "If they have business being there, the group is a troupe. If they have no business being there, the fuss is a business." His coat rippled ruddy as he weaseled a war dance, glitter shimmering from his wings. "What could be simpler?"
Flots opened his mouth to question further, but the faerret threw a raspberry into it and continued.
* * * * *
The crowd crowded and dooked in giddy anticipation, lauding laudations and imbibing imbibitions. All except most became tangled and had to be sorted out. Then, untied and united, they cheered as their champion scooted skyward and hurried to the horizon.
The Grand Stoat Bartle-bit fluttered afield, stretching as he strove, leaving his behind behind. He departed at dawn and by dusk had still not returned. In fact, a week passed and even the meek found leeks to seek. They took pains not to trip over him, so as not to pain his trip.
He returned, as it turns out. But before the ruler could regale them with a tale of his stretching, his entire court bounced before him. His heralds heralded his homecoming on heraldry-hung horns. Scribes scrawled scribbles. And the kittles…
"We wish to wait and watch!" wailed the wee ones.
"But you kittles have yet to sup your supper!" cried the faerret fathers.
"A fruit without nutrition is a newt without fruition," added the faerret mothers, citing an old fable.
Bartle-bit nodded. "That seems sensible."
Eager to hear the tale, the kittles bit their vittles until they were plump in their middles. And so with jellies in their bellies and yums in their tums, the kittles gathered to hear the story.
His tail end not yet present, he presented his tale. He spoke of curious kangaroos completely confused, of lions laughing out loud, of pandas perplexed by the puzzling picture.
"It was then that I came across the most beautiful tail. What's more, the faerret it was attached to was stretching off exactly the way I was going. I decided I must meet this most impressive faerret. I flew off as fast as I could, but it soon became clear that this faerret was at least at good at stretching as I!"
A rumble rustled through the rabble, rumors of royal romance roiling.
"I tracked the tail for days." His longness-and-purpleness continued. "I even passed through here again, following whoever it belonged to."
"Yes-yes-yes!" Palace guards pranced proudly and proceeded in a procession, bearing his regal bearing into the royal presence. "We found your middle and are keeping it for safekeeping."
Bartle-bit nodded. "Good work. I traveled all the way around the world again, before once more coming upon the tail end of this faerret. Spread thin, I decided it would be prudent to stop in and tell my tale, in the home someone knew of this mysterious stretch-master."
"I have found the end that started all this!" The Captain of the Guard boasted as he bounced, trotting as he towed the tail of a most beautiful faerret.
Bartle-bit gasped, his purple color deepening. "Why, that it the very tail that I saw!"
"This rump was wound round a stump, having forayed freely into the forest." The Captain popped on his golden acorn helm. "We must expedite lunch and launch an expedition. Faithful faerrets will find the front."
A great cheer arose, loud with lauding and applauding.
"Oh Grand Stoat!" Pip-bib, littlest of the kittles, daughter of Glen-glin, and good-postured postulator, tittered timid and pink and asked another good question. "Isn't that your back end, back where you end?"
"Let us find out." He saw she stood atop his bottom. "That is not where I left it."
"I think you left your back end asleep—" She prodded its side, causing it to trod to one side. "—and it sleepwalked from where you left."
And all saw she was right because the royal tail was right there to be seen. And though their leader's length seemed singularly great, the greatness of the Grand Stoat was simple: his length was long as himself.
This is the moral of the story and the story of the moral: you must always know where you're at, not just where you're headed.
* * * * *
"Wait-wait, where are you otting off to?" Chib-bib fluttered off the railing in a tizzy. "I've barely completed my tale."
"I really should go find Gwen. She would like this story."
The faerret harrumphed, sky blue. "Bah! That Corgi! Her legs are so short, they barely reach the ground!"
"Yes." Flots smiled. "But she likes a good story, stoat-azure. Besides… didn't you yourself say it's better to be faerret-fast than giant-slow?"
"Yes, well, I did! Now go-go-go."
At long last, Adept Paws is officially back! :) And I'd like to thank all my wonderful fans for waiting while I got the Sixes Wild novel out the door. You guys are really the best. ^_^ Thank you for all the support.
I'm also very pleased with how the illustration turned out. Kashmere and Kappy did a wonderful job depicting Chib-bib in all his faerrety glory. And I really appreciate their patience in waiting for me to finish the story for their illustration! X)