Chapter 27

Long long ago, in a land far far away…

Ever wonder what happened to Great the Dane? Here’s the story. It wasn’t influenza, as such. The black dog had magical powers. There was a ring of bad mist in the air he breathed – ever stronger in badness when he puffed out big whooping sighs. Invisibly, insidiously, inevitably, his aura consumed weary souls. In time, he would convince them to go on a pilgrimage, to a healer far far away.

Of course the condition was incurable. Even if a healer did exist, he or she sure did not live at the castle. Great the Dane was a single-minded dog, loyal to the giant even after his expulsion (ah, at least that part of his story was true… well, you know what they say, the best lies can almost be mistaken for the truth). By accruing a stack of fresh, hopeless prisoners for the dungeon, he was hoping to redeem himself in the eyes of his master. He was bouncing with excitement, merely at the thought.

Grand plan. Oh, if only it was so easy! You see, his powers were as unpredictable as Mr Game and Clock’s hammer. Each night, Hypnos would put the whole creature, including the badness within, to sleep. There was always the chance that the badness, being the lazy thing it was, would forget to wake up and be stuck in dreamland – sometimes forevermore; sometimes for a time, a time, or half a time.

Anyway, it didn’t matter that the magic within was sleeping soundly at present. Great the Dane invested wisely in his friendship with Quackling. She followed him to the castle willingly. Him, wagging his black tail; her, wagging her own little grey one behind him. They almost reached the sickly, stinking, slimy moat.

It was one of Quackling and Incy Wincy’s old friend, a cockatiel with red cheeks, who saved her in the nick of time. Her brother, a cockatiel with redder cheeks and yellower feathers, was also tricked. The cockatiel flew far and wide to find her sibling. Small and nimble birds they were – the giant was no match as he tried to chase them, grasping desperately, wanting to crush them with his thick clumsy fingers. He could only shake both fists, shouting curses into the sky, as they disappeared from his sight. The chase caused quite a stir. In those moments of chaos, several others managed to escape the castle too.

Now the pair were back for revenge. The birds were angry – their eyebrows thick with rage, eyes zoomed and locked into their target. Swooping in unison, they blinded the dog with a double drop attack. Argh, what is this sticky white yellow substance on my eyes? Then clawing into his black coat, one on the left, one on the right, in no time at all, the siblings sent Great the Dane limping, whimpering pitifully into the distance.

Later around a warm fire, the cockatiels explained everything to Quackling. Together with the other escapees, they celebrated with song and dance, late into the night. Early the next morning, each creature packed a pack of fur or feathers for the long and arduous journey back, back to their own separate lands. Only Quackling and another escapee named Pretty the Peachick were from Far Far Away, so naturally they were to be travel companions. One cockatiel took her aside (truth be told, Quackling could not tell one sibling from the other) – hey, I’m pretty worried about Pretty the Peachick, she had a rough time back there. Do us a favour and bring her back safe and sound, won’t you? Sure, promised Quackling, thanking and farewelling the pair as they parted ways.

That’s all folks. The end.


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