“How interesting it is that we are in a position to help Ephemeron. Especially we two.”
“Oh Cataphor, you always overthink every situation.”
“Perhaps, Deer One. Perhaps. But then, I so rarely have the opportunity. I see her there, embracing you, clinging to the warmth of another loving creature. But we know what she truly yearns for…”
“You are surely right, my Cataphor. Prince Ibrahim should have returned from his travels weeks ago. I fret about that, about whatever might have delayed him. But what can we do?”
“I suggest…an expedition.”
“You ARE ambitious. What do you know of such things?”
“I am a CAT, Deer One. We are, by our very nature, adventurous. Curious about the world. Explorers forever.”
“Oh, yes you are. Yes indeed! I have seen you in your adventurously curious moments. Do you remember when Simon, that delightful palace guard, suddenly appeared behind you as you clawed the royal tapestry…do you remember how brave you were then?”
“A momentary lapse in pluck, I grant you.”
“But an excellent display of tapestry climbing. And such speed.”
“This is all beside the point. Shall we mount a search? Are you with me?”
And so, with some reservations, Cataphor and Deer One began their foray away from safety, through the Mountains of Pescara, into the desert of Epigone, in search of Ephemeron’s betrothed, Prince Ibrahim.
The Mountains of Pescara
“Cataphor, you must stop looking back. All you will see is the past.”
“Deer One, I want to return to the past…sometime. Surely we need to remember where we have travelled from?”
“Of course, but you need to keep your sharp eyes looking ahead. You are nimble, I know, but even you could trip over your paws. And then where would we be.”
“I would be akimbo, and you would be laughing at me. That’s where we would be.”
“I promise not to laugh. Look, up there. The Mountains of Pescara await.”
“Such height, Deer One. And covered in white. What is that white layer?”
“Snow. Cold snow. Very cold snow, I suspect. But we must forge ahead…through it. Oh, this is a foolish journey. We are ill-equipped for mountain passage.”
“I disagree. We are very well-equipped. For instance, you have long legs and I am perfectly willing to ride on you. Still, the mountains are high. I’ve never seem such high peaks. Perhaps we are in over our heads.”
“If you are on my back, it won’t be your head buried in snow. I admit it does looks daunting but this was your idea. So, are you having second thoughts, now?”
“Honestly, Deer One, I may not have even had a first thought. It was all instinct. I am, as you are, a creature…of creature habits. Instinct is second nature.”
“Possibly. We can always turn back. Lets soldier on and see what becomes of us.”
“Hmmm! You are a reckless feline, Cataphor. Nevertheless, here we go.”
And miracles of miracles, the Mountains of Pescara were more like the Hills of Pescara and the layer of snow proved less deep than imagined.
In less than a day and only a smidgen of the night, they descended into the Desert of Epigone.
The Desert of Epigone
The third and final chapter
The sands of Epigone burned hot on the poor paws of Cataphor and Deer One as they approached the Oasis at Trilobar. The palm trees provided a welcome umbrella from the scorching sun. And, to their surprize…
“Cataphor, do you see what I see?”
“From down here, all I see is sand. I’m sick of sand.”
“There, by the water…it is Prince Ibrahim…”
And from the Oasis…
“Do my eyes deceive? Cataphor! Deer One! Are the two of you a mirage?”
“We are as real as the blistering sun, Prince. Whatever befell you?”
“How dark has been my journey. A sickness overcame my entourage in Tibet. Overnight, a most unwelcome plague riddled us to pieces. I barely survived. Fortune then smiled and a small band of fine young men volunteered to accompany me and my treasures home. Regrettably, renegades attacked us just as we approached the Desert of Epigone and all those fine young men who were travelling under my sign were slaughtered. T’was only by some curious fate that I was spared and made it here to the waters of Trilobar.”
“A curious fate to be sure, but our blessed kismet. We must hasten back to home and safety, good Prince.”
“Cataphor, I am still weak. But I agree. We must make haste.”
And so, Cataphor, Deer One and the injured Prince Ibrahim slowly made their way back through the Desert of Epigone, over the Mountains that were mostly the Hills of Pescara and, finally, into the Valley of Ainrofila. There was grass a plenty for Deer One, milk and fish for Cataphor and, for Prince Ibrahim, the waiting arms of Ephemeron.
In time, Ibrahim became King of Ainrofila and, to the end of their days, relied heavily on his two most loyal subjects, Cataphor, the Courageous and Deer One, the Reflective.
This is my contribution this week to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction challenge #27: Rescue Initially it was but one part but I have expanded the tale, given it a center and given it a final chapter.