Ever wonder what happened to Tormy prior to the events of NIGHT'S GIFT? How does a Great Hero Adventuring Cat start his fabulous journey?
This story takes place during Mid Autumn of the year 14,021, and is approximately 10,000 words long. It happens concurrently with the events of NIGHT'S GIFT. It follows Tormy on his travels to a fateful meeting. It can be read before or after NIGHT'S GIFT but probably makes more sense to read it AFTER.
Tormy stared into the mirror. His fuzzy orange-and-white face stared back at him. But no matter which way he tilted his head, the golden crown would not budge. He flicked his ears, swiveling them forward and backward. Still, the crown would not budge. He wiggled his nose, flared his whiskers, and turned his ears all the way back, laying them flat across his head. The crown stayed put.
He meowed crossly at it. It just sat there — golden, glittering, and balancing splendidly above his brow stripes.
Hard shake, he told himself. He stood up, fuzzy white paws spread wide, and shook for all he was worth. The shake traveled from the tip of his nose, down each orange-and-white stripe of his coat, to the white tip at the end of his fluffy tail. He blinked amber eyes and stared again. The crown was still in place.
Awkwardly shifting, he raised one back paw and kicked hard at his head. His claws scraped past his ear, and he shivered, suddenly discovering an itchy spot. He paused and scratched, thumping his tail against the stone floor with each frantic motion of his leg. He lost his balance, fell over, rolled around on the carpet for a few moments, spotted his tail and chased it, then sat up and stared into the ornate mirror once more. The crown was still firmly lodged on his head.
He tried to reason out why it was there, but logic was not his strongest attribute. His twin brother Tyrin seemed to find the long twisting paths of reason far easier to navigate than he did. But when Tormy thought of things really hard, sometimes ideas came to him intuitively.
The idea just popped into his head, and he raced around the room in wide circles, excited to have figured the problem out so quickly.
The crown had to be caught in his fur, he determined. It didn't hurt, it didn't pull, but it was good and stuck. He imagined that his long fluffy fur had probably knotted around the ornate whorls of the golden crown.
Tormy backed up, crouched, and then leaped, jumping high into the air and reaching for the ceiling. He landed on all four paws, stumbled, and spun in circles several times. But despite his effort, a quick glance at the mirror confirmed that the crown still had not budged.
His mother had told him that the crown was for decoration only, and that he was not to wear it, that he was to leave it on the display shelf in the royal greeting room.
He had determined through a convoluted path of logic that a crown was basically a hat. And he knew that hats were supposed to be worn on one's head. So, he'd borrowed the crown and tried it on. Now it was stuck in his fur, and he couldn't take it off. Mothers were always right.
Baffled as to how to escape this dilemma, Tormy tried to reason out the best course of action. He couldn't get the crown off his head, and the crown was unlikely to remove itself. He would need someone else to remove it for him.
Happy to have a plan, Tormy raced toward the door and exited the royal greeting room. The hallway outside was empty. The long stone corridor branched off in several directions. He paused — straight, left, or right — those seemed to be his choices.
Tormy lay down in front of the door, folded his fluffy paws beneath him, and wrapped his tail around his body. Decisions!
Trying on the crown had been more of an impulse than a well-thought-out plan. Having to make all these decisions hadn't been part of his calculations.
Calculations, he told himself, involved numbers, and he had several numbers mastered! But still, the whole thing was a lot more work than he'd expected.
Like an adventure!
Somewhat buoyed by that thought, Tormy leaped up, reentered the royal greeting room, and then exited it again. Doors were meant to be gone through as many times as one felt it necessary to get across the fact that one was more than capable of going in and out.
He stared down the hallway again.
Tyrin was probably in the schoolroom. Tormy was supposed to be there too instead of borrowing crowns, but he'd really wanted to wear a hat. More than likely, Tyrin would be able to figure out how to remove the crown — his twin brother was very clever.
It would probably involve fish, string, bells, paper, and presents. Maybe even a trip to the Penduladium to watch the massive swinging pendulum that showed that everything went round and round.
His mother and father were probably in the sunroom — lots of cats were probably in the sunroom since that room was quite warm and toasty and perfect for napping.
A nap would be nice — he'd had a long morning already. But his toes were still very twitchy, and he wasn't ready to settle down just yet. Not to mention, his mother would ask about the crown. He'd have to put a hat on top of his crown to hide it, and a hat on top of another hat was just not proper.
He could try the kitchens, he supposed — maybe someone would give him a snack.
Remove his crown and give him a snack — that sounded like the best plan. He turned left and hopped down the hallway.
A guard stood at the far end — a young woman wearing awkwardly fitting armor. Tormy brightened in delight. A person with clever fingers and hands would be able to take off his crown easily.
He trotted toward her.
*Crown off!* he said with ears, tail, and whiskers, adding an extra emphasis to his tail twitch to let her know that the situation was urgent, and please could she help him?
The guard, round-faced and rosy, smiled kindly, and nodded her head toward him, wisps of dark hair peeking out beneath her shiny silver helmet. "Blagh, Tormy, blagh blagh blagh, blagh blagh," she told him.
Tormy twitched the tip of his tail in a quiet frown. He was fairly certain that the young woman had not understood him. He sniffed the air. She smelled clever, and kindly — and had eaten bacon at breakfast. A second sniff, regretfully, clarified that she had no more bacon on her person. He twitched his tail again, expressing his remorse at the discovery.
He'd forgotten that most people didn't understand tail, ears, and whiskers speech. He had to use people words. And people words required lots of 's's and 'nesses' to get the full meaning across.
Ex-ag-ger-a-tion — Lady Stargazer had emphasized the need for clarity when speaking with people, who sadly lacked the ability to wiggle their ears properly and had all been born without tails.
Tormy turned and spun, trying to figure out the best way to translate his request. He danced in place, his claws clicking against the stone floor.
People needed extra words sometimes to get a full understanding of what he meant, and he struggled to find the correct way of iterating his request.
"I is needingnessness to have my crown offs my head," he told the guard, speaking in the most proper Sul'eldrine he could manage. Sul'eldrine, the Language of the Gods, was very complex, and Tormy had to struggle to remember the proper grammar.
The guard smiled again but shook her head.
Tormy could still smell confusion coming from her.
"Offnessness, please," Tormy tried again, guessing she needed further explanation of the process required. "You is having fingers. I is wantingness my crown offnessness."
The guard placed one hand on her chest. "I no speak holy tongue, celery!" She spoke each word very loudly and slowly.
Tormy scratched his ear, trying to reason out why celery might help. He didn't think it actually would, though he supposed crunching on a stalk of celery might distract him for a while. As to the rest of her message — it was rare to find a guard who did not speak the holy tongue, but she did look new and young. He supposed she just hadn't taken enough lessons yet, unlike him, who was quite learned.
No tail! He considered that even just whiskers would help her emphasize her points.
"Meow," he told her and then raced off down the hallway. He'd have to try Tyrin after all — he just hoped he could find string! Or feathers! How would they manage if Tyrin's plan required feathers? What if it required fish? In that case, he ruminated, he'd at least have a good snack to tide him over.