Happy Story Time Sunday! Today, I will finish the first story in a collection I call “The Tales of Lupine.” I started this tale last Sunday, and when we left off, Lupine and Turnip were headed towards an unknown blob floating outside the cave of destiny. If you missed the first part, you can find it here. Please give that a read first, as today’s piece is a continuation of the same tale. All feedback is most welcome. Enjoy!
Turnip took the lead and stroked upstream towards the foreign blob, unsure whether to advise his mistress to ignore the stranger. The bridle in his mouth reminded him of his role, and so he stroked onwards.
As they closed in on the unknown stranger, a black outline jutted up from the ocean like a fin. Black scales with spots of burnt orange.
“A butterfly!” Lupine reached out with both arms to scoop the creature onto Turnip’s shell.
It was hard to believe a real butterfly could drift so far to sea, yet harder yet to hear Lupine’s winded whispers, “No, a moth. Still breathing.” The moth’s faint heartbeat lighter than the thump of a kitten’s paw on Turnip’s shell.
Turnip worked his legs to anchor them as best he could while Lupine straightened out the wings and pushed her force into the butterfly’s spiracles to clear seawater from the moth’s pores.
Her face was already scorched by the sun’s reflections, so Lupine took one of her own blooms and covered the stranger’s head. The lilac fit perfectly the tiny frame of the moth’s face.
“I’m awake.” The moth wrinkled her nose and her tiny eyes opened to see Lupine overhead, shading her face from the sun. Her wings glistened but lay still.
“Where am I?” She lifted her head off the shell but not far enough to see past the wall of water rising to their sides.
“Hold fast, everyone. We’re heading in.” Turnip stroked again. Sea waves choppier now that the tides were changing, and the trio were headed into the cave just in time to experience full turbulence.
Lupine thought quickly and tied the moth’s feelers around Turnip’s golden reigns to keep her balanced. She lifted both reigns and returned her gaze towards the Moai, ready to face whatever destiny awaited the three of them.
Never before had anyone carried a stranger into the cave. Would the ancestors reject them? What fate could possibly befit such an odd crew? Turnip pushed ahead, and Lupine stood to her knees, determined to face her destiny with dignity.
The moth straightened in reverence of the task, clearing her throat to speak. “My name’s Peacock.” Her tiny voice echoed in the mouth of the cave, in a circular series of repeats, “Peacock, Peacock, Peacock.”
At the third sounding of the name, Turnip took an unexpected dive, plunging his riders into the icy waters of the cave. He had spotted something older than himself, golden and drifting in the tides.
It would have been too deep to draw up minutes earlier, but it was now shallow and easily hooked around his neck.
“Turnip! What were you thinking?” Lupine gasped, shaking free water droplets from her gossamer sash before she remembered poor Peacock, slumped against the reins and much less stable than before.
Then Lupine saw it. Hooked to Turnip’s spiky mouth, a golden vase, Grecian style handles, it’s etchings a story from past times, but of startling similarity to her own. On the sides of the vase, a turtle with regal bridle ridden by a fairy, dressed in delicate attire beside an amiable moth. The trio stared at the vase, untarnished gold displaying delicate etchings of their likenesses. A tale unfolding around the vase.
“How can it be?” Lupine asked.
“Be, be, be,” that last word echoed as the three drifted deeper into the cave, the current stilling and the darkness growing. Straight ahead lay still water that sunk to accommodate the deeper depths of the underground cave.
Turnip noticed a swirling sensation below, one that he often associated with danger.
Encircling the shell, a tiger shark fin emerged, grey stripes connecting with each swirl. An ironic statement to his new prisoners, trapped on what must have appeared to be a tasty green shell.
Turnip immediately retreated, tucking his limbs behind the shield of his shell, leaving Lupine and Peacock alone with nothing but the golden vase to defend themselves.
With each rotation, the tiger shark came closer and closer.
“Take off, little Peacock. Save yourself.” Lupine swept her crimson cape from behind her and rose to her feet. Peacock only twisted her head right to left, unwilling to leave her rescuer, and unsure if her wings would even carry her that far.
The face of the shark turned to charge the shell. Black ovular eyes, sinkholes, barreled towards their buoy when Peacock stepped in front of Lupine and shifted her wings. A startling new pattern emerged of glowing eyes. Fiery and indomitable.
This dramatic display startled the shark just long enough for Lupine to swing the weight of the vase across the black hole of his eye, sending the broad beast zigzagging back into the cave.
When the waters stilled, Lupine beheld the back wall of the cave, a larger-than-life illusion of a mighty hero atop a mountain formed from Turnip’s shell, Lupine’s standing figure, and Peacock’s fully spread wings. But this was superficial truth. Her destiny magnified by the black shadows. Lupine would go on to be a legend, yes, but, only with the help of true friends.
When Turnip reemerged, Lupine removed his golden bridle and bent to feel a new circle appearing on his flesh.
“You’re free, old friend.” But Turnip was unmoved. He had already known his destiny, to cultivate and protect the fearless hero, Lupine, who’s biggest adventures were about to begin.