Maxwell Grantly

Magical stories from an independent author

Archive for the tag “Skippy”

Skippy’s Lost Shadow

Kris, Skippy and Maxwell meet a kind stranger at Shamrock Market, who generously passes the three of them a pogo stick. Unfortunately, Skippy bounces so vigorously, his shadow falls off and the three elves have to begin a search for it.

After searching high and low, they find the shadow trapped beneath a doughnut in the Shamrock auction houses.

In their excitement of finding the doughnut, they retrieve it too quickly and the hole falls out of the doughnut and into the centre of Skippy’s shadow.

Skippy recovers his shadow but sadly the hole has ruined the shadow. Even the offer of a bite from the doughnut does little to console his disappointment. As Skippy collapses into a flood of tears, Kris suggests that the three of them travel to the Land of Shadows and search for a new shadow.

The three elves trek to the depths of the deepest seas in the Land of Shadows and discover the remains of a sunken soap cargo aeroplane shrouded in the darkest shadows of the ocean’s floor. Perhaps they can find the perfect shadow there.

Searching the rusting remains of the cockpit, Skippy finds a small shadow that fits perfectly.

Kris drags an old box of soap from the cargo hold so that they can open it and use a cake of soap to stick the shadow back in place.

The shadow is stuck firmly back in place so that the three brothers can safely return home with their shadows safely intact.

Moral: Should you see a shadow trapped beneath a doughnut, please remove the doughnut carefully before retrieving the shadow.

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The Journey Home

Kira the Wolf

(Note: This story was written for a Second Life script reader story-teller that is designed to read separate lines at 10 second intervals. So, please excuse the fact that each sentence is on a unique line and no one line exceeds 256 characters in length.)

The elven trio set off from the Southern Oracle on their long trek home and soon they had left the Valley of the Wolves behind them.

“It’s late afternoon and we must hurry,” announced Maxwell anxiously, “We have a long journey ahead.”

As he spoke, a double clap of thunder rang out across the darkening skies and the first of a multitude of tiny raindrops began to fall.

“Did you hear a cry of help?” asked Kris with an air of alarm, pricking his ears up to catch the very faintest unspoken sounds.

The two other elves both shook their heads in disbelief and continued with their long journey home.

“I think we’re heading into a storm,” Skippy announced with apprehension and, as he spoke, tiny raindrops fell upon his face and trickled into his mouth.

“The rain tastes salty!” he exclaimed with an astonished cry to his brothers, “Something’s wrong!”

“I’m sure I heard an unspoken cry of help,” Kris repeated and he held out his hand to catch the falling raindrops.

Maxwell did the same and the two of them raised their hands simultaneously to their mouths to taste the fallen rain.

“You’re right!” they both exclaimed together, “This rain is salty. Something’s very wrong indeed!”

The three elves turned back towards the Valley of the Wolves and quickly followed their steps, from back where they had once came.

With a heightening sense of alarm, they traced their path into a shaded wooded area to discover four large sinister-looking men standing over two grey limp masses.

As they stepped closer, they made out that the two grey shapes were the dead corpses of two adult wolves; one male and one female.

The four men looked up together at the approaching elves and one of them gave a warning shout.

“Beware! Stand Back!” he called out, “There are dangerous wolves in these woods. This pair nearly killed us all!”

The three elves surveyed the wooded area to see the four men hovering suspiciously over two dead wolves, their guns propped up on a nearby tree.

“You cowardly thugs!” Kris yelled out in anger, ”You liars! Those wolves didn’t attack you!”

It was obvious to Kris, who could hear the unspoken word, that the men were deceitful and could not be trusted.

One of the men turned and reached for one of the guns that was propped vertically against the tree while a second rushed forward and grabbed Kris firmly by his shoulders.

In anger, remembering his elven oath, Maxwell screamed an ancient elven spell and waved his hands in the air.

As he did so, a vine sprung from the tree and wrapped itself around the four guns, securing them firmly against the tree.

Skippy followed suit and called another olden spell. A nettle sprung from the ground and whipped its serrated leaves across the face of Kris’s adversary.

With a painful shout the man released his grip on Kris and dropped him to the ground with a thud.

The remaining three men closed in, formed ranks and ran towards Maxwell and Skippy, clenching their fists threateningly and menacingly.

Kris stood up, raised his hands in the air with an air of authority and called upon the trees using an enchanted magical charm.

The ancient trees creaked and groaned and bent their branches down to the ground, shedding their leaves and exposing their bare harsh brushwood surfaces.

With a defiant slash, the trees whipped their branches firmly across the buttocks of the hunters, causing them to scream in pain.

The four men looked around with disbelief at the swaying branches of the trees and again, the branches slashed through the air, to flog them again and again.

With a scream of wild panic the four men turned on their heels and ran in disorganized retreat away from the scene leaving the three elves safe in the security of the woods.

Kris, Maxwell and Kris looked reassuringly at one another and then down to the ground at the dead bodies of the two wolves.

“We can’t leave such noble beasts here in the woods,” sighed Kris with great sadness, “It would be such a disrespectful way to treat such a magnificent animal.”

The other two elves nodded in unison and the three of them searched the woods together, searching for falling logs and branches with which to build a funeral pyre.

Within hours they had gathered sufficient timber and they built one large pyre on which to place the two dead bodies.

The afternoon was turning into night and the sun gracefully bowed its head below the distant horizon; the first shafts of darkness crept into the wooded glade.

Then, with great respect and reverence, the three elves dragged the first body (the male) onto the timber mound and carefully arranged his limbs spread-eagled across the wood.

As the three elves returned for the second corpse, the body of the female, Skippy gave an astonished yelp and pointed down at the dead grey mass of fur.

“I’m sure I saw something move!” he cried out in excitement and pointed down to the underside of the carcass.

There, hiding in the folds of the fur was a tiny wolf cub, barely a few days old.

Kris removed his cloak, bent over and carefully scooped the tiny creature lovingly into his arms.

He stroked its head with great affection and a tear welded up in the eyes of each of the trio – there was no way that they could leave this vulnerable creature alone in the woods to fend for itself.

Delicately and with great care, Kris wrapped the wolf cub in the soft warm folds of his cloak and then the three of them continued with the respectful cremation of its two parents.

Finally, the three elves sat at the edge of the pyre as Kris held the bundled wolf treasure securely and tenderly in his arms.

As the flames of the pyre sprang and danced into the darkened woodland air, tiny orange sparks flew up and danced in the swirling smoke.

The twirling eddies of smoke carried the glowing orange cinders into the night sky and they vanished within the thousands of twinkling stars.

As the rites determined them to do so, Skippy played a haunting dirge upon his flute, Maxwell sung the words of a sorrowful lament and Kris spoke the words of a deeply moving eulogy.

They had shown the proper respect to the passing of two great noble beasts and had performed the due rites with correct reverence and honour.

The Thousand twinkled in the blackened nighttime sky, looked down at the three elves with the sleeping wolf cub and bestowed a silent nighttime blessing on them all.

Tomorrow the three elves would finish their journey home but they also now had the responsibility to care and nurture the tiny wolf cub too.

Kris’s special gift has proven its worth twice that day and the three elves knew that the power to hear the unspoken word should never be underestimated.

The Search for Kris’s Gift (Part 5)

The sun begun to set and it was becoming darker as the three elves stepped forward into the temple Southern Oracle with a sense of joyous relief. It had been a long and treacherous journey but, after many trials and tribulations, they had finally arrived at their destination. At the far end of the temple, nobly and alone, sat a single lone she-wolf, wearing a splendid and colourful Japanese mask, a pure ceramic white mask etched with bold red and black markings. This was The Southern Oracle. On her right, lay a single crystal of translation upon the bare surface of the floor.

Kris, Maxwell and Skippy stepped forward with trepidation. Despite being very attractive, the Japanese mask made them apprehensive and doubtful as to her true identity and they hesitated in their final steps towards the Southern Oracle.

The Southern Oracle greeted the three elves with a welcoming blink of her eye through a hole in the mask and then carefully and precisely she softly growled a wolfish salutation.

“And how might I help you?” she asked with a soft and friendly canine growl.

As she spoke, the crystal glimmered and sparkled, throwing it’s light onto the darkened interior walls of the temple, causing a multitude of dancing shadows to etch themselves into its nighttime walls.

“We’ve tr-travelled from the Northern Forests to ask you a qu-question,”  stammered Maxwell, afeared from the solemnity of the occasion.

The Southern Oracle smiled softly and her eyes sparkled in the light of the glowing crystal. She bowed her masked head respectfully and nudged it gently into the chest of Maxwell.

“Have you anything to fear from me?” she asked warmly and comfortingly.

She tenderly raised her masked head, looked into the elf’s eyes and brushed her tail affectionately across his face. It was evidently clear that the Southern Oracle was a warm and gentle creature and that she was as placid as the soft breeze that tenderly stroked the rustling leaves upon the trees outside.

“Of course not, we can trust you totally and utterly” said Kris; for he had, up to then, been reading the unspoken cues that the Southern Oracle had given them all, “Please excuse our hesitancy for it is the first time we have travelled to these parts.”

Skippy interjected with his youthful energy, “We’ve come to find Kris’s gift. We have travelled many miles, across snows and plains, through winds and swamps to find you. Can you tell us what Kris’s gift is?”

The Southern Oracle turned towards the smallest of the three elves and spoke with soft dulcet tones.

“How did you know where I live? she asked the small elf.

Skippy thought back to the start of the journey and answered, “We asked one of Santa’s reindeer.”

“But how did you know which reindeer to ask?” questioned the Southern Oracle.

“It was me,” interjected Kris, “I spotted the unspoken word that told me which one we should trust.”

“… and then we arrived at the Plains of Loneliness …” added Maxwell, “… and we had to survive the three winds in order to pass through the gate.”

“But how did you know how to survive the three winds?” questioned the Southern Oracle.

“It was me,” replied Kris, “I spotted the unspoken word that told me we should rally ourselves with stories, music and chants.”

“ … and finally we crossed the swamps and solved the riddle of the Guardians of the Gate.” concluded Skippy.

“But how did you know the answer to the riddle?” quizzed the Southern Oracle.

“It was me,” replied Kris, “I spotted the unspoken word that told me the two wolves had swapped positions.”

“And so, my precious one,” concluded the Southern Oracle, looking directly into the face of Kris, “what do you think is your gift?”

Kris thought for a few seconds and pondered upon his words.

“Do you think it is that I can hear the unspoken word?” he wondered aloud.

“Is that what you think?” asked the Southern Oracle, gazing through her mask into the eyes of Kris and touching his very soul with her glance, “Is that what you think?”

The three elves looked at the Southern Oracle and then to each other. Their eyes widened and their jaws dropped.

“You can hear the unspoken word,” said both Maxwell and Skippy with astonishment. “That is your gift.”

The three elves smiled contentedly and their eyes began to sparkle with the realization of what they had discovered. Kris was a Listener. He had the gift to hear the unspoken word; the unspoken word that could not falsified or untrue but one which was exact and just. Kris was indeed a Listener.

The Southern Oracle raised a paw to her face and with a very slight twist; she removed the coloured Japanese mask from her face. The three elves looked respectfully and carefully at the exposed face of the she-wolf before them – she was indeed a very attractive creature, despite being of advancing years. The Southern Oracle took the mask and passed it to the hand of Kris with a knowing wink of her eye.

“I am Lupus the Wolf, the Southern Oracle,” she announced proudly and stately to the three elves, “Please accept this mask as a gift from me to remember your visit to my temple. Kris the Listener – you have a wise, a special and a wondrous gift. Use it carefully and respectfully with those whom you meet. May this mask remind you that, despite the best efforts from some people to hide their words, their thoughts their deeds, if you look carefully and use your gift wisely you are able to hear the unspoken word and you can look deep into the very souls of those around you.”

With that, Lupus the Wolf, the Southern Oracle flicked her tail and she evaporated into the air with a cascade of simmering sparkling lights that hovered in the space where once she had occupied. The lights gently twinkled and one-by-one they extinguished themselves gently to be replaced by a corresponding set of twinkling lights in the night sky above. The three elves looked up at the southern skies and made out the faint twinkling stars in the constellation of Lupus the Wolf.

“You’re Kris the Listener” said Maxwell and Skippy together. “It’s late and we ought be making our way home.”

With that one small star in Lupus the Wolf winked its eye and a faint chuckling sound could be heard reverberating across the nighttime sky. Kris the Listener held the mask tightly in his hand and looked up to the darkened southern skies.

“Good night Lupus and thank you,” he whispered and, with that, he turned to join his brothers on their long trek home, away from the Southern Oracle in the Valley of the Wolves.

The Search for Kris’s Gift (Part 4)

The elven trio turned their backs to the Swamps of Sadness and continued their way with heavy weary footsteps along a dusty path that led to an arch in the distance. The sun drenched their backs and caused the powered surface of the baked path to throw up small swirls of dust with every footstep. Still onwards they trekked, step-by-step, until the arch of the gates came into clear focus and the silhouettes of two large wolves were made out, standing on either side of the entrance, like a pair of military sentries. One of the wolves was standing upon a stone on the left and the other was standing on the opposite side, on the right.

The three elves knew, from ancient elven folklore that the Gates to the Southern Oracle were guarded by two beings, the Guardians of the Gate, and they then realized that these guardians were the wolves that stood before them now. The one upon the stone, raised its head nobely  towards the three visitors and greeted them with a growl, by means of a translation crystal that laid resting upon the ground.

“Stop and identify yourselves, visitors to the Southern Oracle,” he snared between his clenched teeth, “I am Dyrth, The First Guardian of the Gate.”

“I am Sylumn, The Second Guardian of the Gate,” growled the second wolf, “And who may you three be?”

Kris, the eldest of the three approached first. He raised a flat empty palm as a gesture of peaceful welcome and hesitantly replied to the two wolves.

“I am Kris, an elf from the Northern Forests, and these are my two brothers, Maxwell the Whisperer and Skippy the Weaver. We have trekked through icy lands, The Plains of Loneliness and the Swamps of Sadness to get to the Southern Oracle. We need to ask a question, if you would be so good as to let us pass,” he replied with a hesitant tone.

“No one passes these gates without our consent,” growled Dyrth, standing erect and proud upon his stone “for we are the eternal guardians and it is our duty to protect her with our lives.”

“The Southern Oracle is a woman?” interrupted Skippy with a confused tone.

Sylumn turned his head slowly and powerfully, like a grinding millstone, towards the youngest elf and a faint grin spread across his wolfish face. He raised his head, chuckled to himself and howled upwards towards the skies. As he did so, the translation crystals glowed and shimmered with a cascade of a thousand dancing rainbows.

“She is no human woman,” Dyrth laughed, “You elves have so much to learn about this world and the legends of the Southern Mountains. The Southern Oracle is a she-wolf and has lived in these parts since the First Rift in the Great Peaks, that formed both North and South.”

The three elves nodded as one accord and understood his words. The ancient tales that they had heard in their youth resonated in their unconsciousness and they began to make sense of what lay before them.

Maxwell interjected impatiently, “So how do we gain your consent and pass the gates to see her?”

Both Dyrth and Sylumn turn to the middle elf and each of them pushed a single pebble through the dry earth with their paws. The pebble left a slight grove in the dry powdery earth and rested snuggly in the dust at the end at the end of the trail. As they did so, the two wolves spoke in unison as one.

“The arrival at the right destination only proves that the journey was a valid and just one,” they both growled together. “To pass the gates you must first answer our riddle.”

The youngest elf, Skippy, looked at Dryth, the first guardian upon the stone.

“And what is the riddle?” he asked with an inquisitive tone.

Dryth turned to the smallest elf and snarled between his clenched teeth, like a chained beast, “That is for you to find, my little fellow?”

“But …” asked Maxwell, “… how can we solve a riddle if we don’t know what the riddle is?”

Sylumn pushed his paw into the dry earth and kicked it up, creating a small cloud of dry dust that evaporated into the air.

“We did not say that the entry to the Southern Oracle would be an easy one,” he answered. “Many have gotten this far and have failed to pass these gates.”

Skippy looked down with confusion at the two pebbles that laid in the dust.

“Are these part of the riddle?” he asked aloud, desperately searching for clues and hints in any answer that the wolves may provide.

“The arrival at the right destination only proves that the journey was a valid and just one,” they both repeated together. “To pass the gates you must first answer our riddle.”

Maxwell studied the two pebbles and wondered upon the words of the guardian wolves.

“Does the shape of the pebble help us answer the riddle?” he asked, for he was completely baffled by the riddle and how to solve it.

“The arrival at the right destination only proves that the …” repeated the two wolves again.

But before they had a chance to continue, Kris stepped forward and yelped with excitement.

“I have it!” he cried with elated tones, “I have it! May you two wolves please swap places? Dyrth please step off your tone and take your rightful place as the Second Guardian. Sylumn, please take your position upon the stone, as the First Guardian to the Southern Oracle.”

The two remaining elves looked at their elder brother with complete bewilderment and confusion.

“What do you mean, Kris?” stammered Maxwell with bafflement and disorientation. “What is this all about?”

Kris turned to his two brothers and gave them a knowing smile, full of compassion and understanding.

“It is a trick and that is their puzzle.” he began to explain, “The two guardians have simply swapped places before we had arrived and the solution to their puzzle was to understand this.”

“But how do you know?” interjected Skippy with a disorientated tone to his question, “What makes you think this?”

Kris pointed to the two wolves, one-by-one, and began his reply.

“I spotted the flickered of the whisker, the tremble if the paw, the turn of the tip of the tail and the quiver of the lip. All these subtle clues are the unspoken words that told me that Sylumn is the dominant and more powerful wolf and Dryth is his underling.” he explained in triumphantly. “Always listen to the unspoken sounds for the words that are spoken can often be false and untrue but the unspoken word is always correct and the one to be believed.”

The two wolves bowed their heads in respect towards Kris and Sylumn took his position upon the stone whilst Dryth stepped down and crossed the path to the opposite side. When each wolf had taken their rightful position, they bowed their heads and nodded again and ushered the three elves through the gate with due reverence.

“Remember,” they both said in parting, “The arrival at the right destination only proves that the journey was a valid and just one.”

The three elves paced through the gates with lengthening stride, for they were eager to complete their quest.

“Thank you Sylumn and Dryth” they called back and then they turned to complete their final steps. Their words echoed and danced back along the winding path towards the two wolves. They had arrived at the Southern Oracle and in a few moments they would discover the true identity of Kris’s gift.

The Search for Kris’s Gift (Part 3)

The Crossing of the Swamp of Sadness

The three elves hunt around the inside and outside of a deserted house, for clues on how to pass through the Swamp of Sadness. Skippy finds a spider web in the corner of the house and it inspires him to tell his brothers that they ought to head out into the swamps. However, as they start, the three elves soon start to sink and move very slowly, feeling great sadness.

Kris looks up and reads the land and the sky. He sees some eagles flying overhead. Maxwell tells his two brothers that they need to head towards the eagles so that he can speak with them to find a way across the swamp.

Ultimately, the three elves reach the eagles and are told that, in order to get out of the swamp, they must stop walking through the sadness; the more they walk and stay in the swamps the sadder they will become. The eagles tell the elves to write what whatever makes them feel sad and let the sadness go.

Kris, Skippy and Maxwell hold their papers up high in the air. The eagles take the papers and the sadness high into the sun to burn them up.

The three elves can now cross the swamp safely and soon reach the far side.

Unicorn Bonding

One August day Kris, Maxwell and Skippy explore a magical Enchanted Forest.

They meet two friendly deer who explain that there is a herd of unicorns nearby.

Kris tells Maxwell and Skippy an old elf legend that, if you whisper your name into the right unicorn’s ear, it will bond with you for life. Can this be true?

The three elves decide to go and find the unicorns and test the elven legend for themselves.

They whisper their names into all the unicorns but with no success. Perhaps it is time to go home?

By chance, the three elves discover three baby new-born unicorn stallions hidden in the undergrowth. It was easy to overlook three unicorns that were so small!

They whisper their names into the three unicorns’ ears and the unicorns bond instantly.

The first flight seals the bond.

The three elves return home with their new found unicorn friends, Erendyl, Sparkle and Scout.

The old elven tales of unicorn bonding were true and the three elves gain three trusted friends who will help them on future quests.

The Search for Kris’s Gift (Part 2)

Kris, Maxwell and Skippy arrived at the Lonely Plains and search in vain for the gate to the Swamp of Sadness.

The crows explain that the gate is etched into the ground in the form of a path and, to cross it, they must spend one night sleeping within it by the Pit of Loneliness. “But, beware of the three winds!” the crows explain.

The elves pitch their tents at the Lonely Plains and wait for night to fall.

The first wind, The Wind of Loneliness Past, starts to blow and Kris tells a story of ancient Elven folklore to strengthen their souls.

The second wind, The Wind of Loneliness Present, starts to blow and Skippy plays a tune of Elven culture to raise their spirits.

The third wind, The Wind of Loneliness Yet To Come, starts to blow and Maxwell sings a chant of Elven dreams to aspire the three brothers.

Morning breaks and the three winds abate. The elves have survived the night and the gate has opened.

Kris, Maxwell and Skippy step out of their tents and find themselves at the shores of the Swamps of Sadness. This is going to be their greatest challenge.

The Search For Kris’s Gift (Part 1)

One barmy July day Kris, Maxwell and Skippy say around the story table of the Enchanted table, simply to relax and enjoy the value of each other’s company.

“Everyone has a gift, yes?” declared Skippy in that particular tone of voice that declared he was thinking aloud. “After all,” Skippy continued, “Maxwell is a Whisperer; he can listen and talk with all the animals of the land, sea and air. And I am a Weaver, I can weave all manner of wondrous things from the finest spiders’ silk.”

Kris and Maxwell both nodded sleepily, half listening and half in the world of their dreams.

“So,” concluded Skippy, “so what is Kris’s special gift? What is it that Kris can do, that no one else can?”

Maxwell and Kris exchanged glances. Skippy had raised an important question and neither of them knew the answer.

“Gifts, gifts gifts,” Maxwell murmured, “Three elves should have three gifts; Kris is one special brother but I don’t know what his gift is.”

There was a pause while all three of them exchanged further glances. None of them knew the answer and none of them was sure  how to find out.

“Gifts, gifts, gifts,” repeated Skippy, as he pondered and thought aloud.

“Gifts!” exclaimed Kris with a astonished cry, “Perhaps Santa Claus will know. After all, he is world famous for presents of all sorts. He’s bound to know!”

A flicker of a smile traced its finger across the face of each elf in turn and one-by-one each of them began to beam.

“We ought to travel to the North Pole and find Santa,” added Kris, in a stroke of genius, “That would make an amazing journey!”

And so the three little elves began to pack excitedily for their long trek to the snowy wastelands of the North Pole. They dressed up warmly in the thickness of parka coats and packed their bags with an array of useful items, such as … … catapults, lengths of flaxen string, balls of amber bees’ wax, slithers of garnet stone and a manner of all sorts of useful items that only a child would collect. Very soon they were on the march to the North Pole, walking with purpose, grit and determination like a row of three soldier ants. Their journey took them past mountains and vales, over oceans and deserts through meadows and forests but ultimately they arrived at a single post standing defiantly in the snow. It was a white and red pole, standing on guard in the desolate blizzards of blinding snow, holding a small wooden placard announcing its location, The North Pole.

The Three Elves Reach the North Pole

The three elves spotted a faint hazy lights shining through the misty windows of a tumbled down warehouse and then ran to its doors. With a respectful knock and a mighty heave, they opened its mighty portals and stepped inside to the safety of the building’s interior. There at the far end of the array of toy-ladened shelves stood a small jolly fellow, dressed in red capes, hemmed with white fur-lined edges. Santa turned and faced the three visitors and after a greeting, the smallest of the elves plucked up the courage to ask the important question.

“We’ve come to ask a favour of you Mister Santa,” began Skippy with a slight air of hesitancy. “It’s about gifts.”

“Ah, many children do,” interrupted Santa with a smile, “What is it to be this year? A train set? A tin solider? A sail boat?”

“Oh, no Santa!” interrupted Maxwell, “It’s not that sort of gift. Not that sort of gift at all.”

“We would love to know what my gift is,” concluded Kris.

The words of the three elves mixed and overlapped like the eddies of seashore waves ebbing and flowing around the maze of boulders and rocks at the ocean’s edge.

“Whoa! Hold on little fellows!” interrupted Santa, “I leave gifts of stripped candy canes, Satsuma globes and wooden spinning tops…” “… I’m not able to tell you what it is you need to know. You need to visit the Southern Oracle. She is the only one who can answer your question.”

“And where may we find the home of the Southern Oracle?” asked the three elves in union, for they were desperate to achieve the answer to their quest.

Santa pointed in the direction of the reindeer stables, for it was only them who knew the twist and turn of every pathway around the globe.

“But I warn you,” he finished, “I have eight reindeer and they are most fickle with questions. Only one of them will answer your question truthfully. The others will not.”

“Which reindeer should we ask, Santa?” began Skippy, as he started to name the reindeer one-by-one, “Dancer? Prancer? Dasher? Vixen? Comet? Cupid?  …”

“Goodness me!” chuckled Santa Claus, “Not even I know which one to trust, That’s something you’ll have to work out for yourselves!”

With that he bade the three young elves goodbye, as they made they way onto the reindeer stables, and he stood at the door and waved them off. Soon, within a few seconds, they had reached the straw-lined warmth of the reindeer house and they saw a sight that confused their minds. There in the stables stood eight tiny reindeer, each one identical to the others and each one chewing on tuffs of straw from a stocked manager. Maxwell stood by one of the reindeer and tenderly stroked its velvet nose with a gentle caress.

“Can you tell us the way to the Southern Oracle please? We need to find the answer to an important question,” he whispered gently in its ear.

At once all eight reindeer lifted their heads turned and spoke together in a cacophony of chatter. “The Sea of Dreams, The Forests of Furia, The Enchanted Isles, The Swamps of Sadness, The Northern Mountains, The Deserts of Despair, The Western Isles, The Crystal Caves.”

Which one was telling the truth and which seven were not? It was impossible to tell and it seemed as if their question was going to be futile.

Kris pointed to one of the reindeer with a strong and definite finger announcing, “That’s the one! That’s the one you should ask!”

“But how do you know?” enquired both Skippy and Maxwell with a confused look of astonishment etched upon their faces.

“It’s not what they say,” replied Kris with an air of authority, “It’s what they don’t! Look at the quiver of his whisker, the faint trace of his hoof upon the ground, the gleam in his eye and the twitch of the hairs within his ear.” Kris pointed again to the same reindeer and repeated his request; “That’s the one you should ask.”

Maxwell turned to the reindeer and asked again, “Can you tell us the way to the Southern Oracle please?”

The reindeer lifted his snout towards the elves and repeated the phrase, “The Swamps of Sadness. But to get there, you need to travel to the Lonely Plains and pass through its gate.It’s a long and dangerous journey and it is fraught with difficulties at every step. Very few ever manage to reach their destination. You need to be strong and courageous.” The reindeer pointed towards the door of the stables and gave a small sigh. “Be united and resolute,” he said, “Be determined and fearless. For, if not, you will never reach the Southern Oracle.”

The reindeer bowed his head with respect and nudged the elves affectionately. He knew it was going to be a tremendous quest and one that would test their friendship. But, he also knew that it was a journey that they needed to take and no reindeer warning would ever deter them from their chosen journey.

The Big Space Adventure

One clear June evening, Skippy took Little Teddy to the Fairy Dell and there they laid looking at the stars. Skippy told the bear all about the North Star in the constellation of Ursa Minor (The Little Teddy) and how to find it using the pointers in Ursa Major. (The Great Teddy) How Little Teddy wished he could explore those stars!

Skippy Shows Teddy the Stars

It had been a long evening and Skippy began to splutter. Perhaps he had caught a cough in the chill night air. Even still, he promised Teddy that they would visit a real space exhibition the following day.

Skippy and his Cough

Despite his tickly throat from the previous evening, Skippy took Teddy to a space exhibition and the first thing the little bear wanted to do was to sit in a replica space craft.

“What does that sign say?” Little Teddy asked.

Skippy looked carefully at the words and read them out.

“What does that sign say?”

“D-cough-cough-on’t,” spluttered Skippy with a hacking cough, “Push the red button.”

Skippy Splutters a Reply

Obediently, the little bear did what he was told and pushed the red button firmly with one claw of his paw.

The doors slammed locked shut and the red warning lights started to flash. Billowing clouds of steam and smoke escaped from the engines and a loud voice was heard counting down over the speakers. Skippy knew at once what had happened but it was too late to stop the launch, even if he had wanted to. He turned to Little Teddy and gave a knowing wink and a small smile radiated from the corner of his mouth.

“Take this.” He said to the teddy, “I think we may be due for an adventure pretty soon indeed.”

Helmets On!

The two of them held each other’s hand very tightly as the rocket soared into the depths of outer space. (Had they of looked down to the ground, they might have even seen the hazy unfocused outline of two small shadowy figures looking up at them as they flew towards the stars. More about this strange paradox will be revealed later in the story!)

Exploring Space

There isn’t the room to describe the things that they saw or the adventures that they had, perhaps that may come in a different story. Only the expanses of an innocent child’s imagination can grasp the breath of wonderful adventures that they experienced in the realms of outer space.

Space Adventures

Soon it was time for bedtime and Skippy spotted a wormhole in some distance galaxy. He took the hand of Little Teddy and, together, they jumped into the inky darkness and back through space and time through the bizarre twists and coils of the astro-anomaly.

Skippy and Teddy Find a Wormhole

Within an instant they were standing back at the space station where they saw a familiar rocket soar into a space, with the helmeted faces of a little boy and his teddy at the window of the craft.

Back in Time to the Start of the Story

“Perhaps someone has made the same error as me,” said Little Teddy, “and pushed the red button by mistake.”

Skippy looked down lovingly into the eyes of the little bear that stood beside him. He was sure in his heart that there could only be one teddy in the world that would have done that!

“Who ever it is,” he whispered to his companion with a knowing wink, “they are sure going to have the most amazing adventure!”

Skippy’s Gift (Part Two)

Little Teddy scratched his fluffy head with the claw of a paw and looked around for someone to write down the rest of the words of Skippy’s “Quest” story. The room was empty and no one appeared.

”I guess I’m gonna have to tell you what happened instead cos there’s no one around to note my words. Being’s I’m a bear, I can’t read or write so please ‘cuse me if I ramble about in a wiggly sorta way or if I can’t find the right words to say what happened. Perhaps you’ll understand, I’m only a teddy – but I was there and I saw everyfing that happened so this is what I saw.

Well, we got back to the cabin, me and Skippy, and we sat on the floor. Skippy had the gift in his pocket and we wanted to look at it more carefully somewhere safe – like in his cabin. So there we sat, me and Skippy, and we just looked at each other in that sorta expectant sorta way, ‘cos we knew that something special was about to happen.

We choose the cabin ‘cos it was safe in there and we didn’t want to get the gift out, only to find that it flew away or scarpered off into the woods. It had been hard gettin’ it and we both wanted to make sure that it kept safe. So there we sat, me and Skippy, and we just looked at each other.

Then slowly, oh so slowly, Skippy put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the gift. Then, oh so very gently, he placed it on the floor in front of us and we both looked at it. It just sat there; the gift, with me and Skippy lookin’ at it.

Skippy and Teddy in the Cabin

It was kinda beautiful, you must admit, it glowed with a slight gentle glow and it looked so beautiful, just sittin’ there on the rug on the floor alone in the safety of the cabin.

Carefully, Skippy knelt down close and peeped inside. He turned to me and whispered that he could see something inside and I was kinda impatient to find out what it was. I poked him a bit I asked him to look and find out. Skippy explained that it was some words and he showed me them. As I said, being a bear, the words were all wiggly and muddled and kinda long too so Skippy said that he would read them to me and that is what he did. It sounded more like a poem or a riddle than a gift and Skippy told me that this was exactly what it was. These are the words that he said:

Through century, locked door, dwells inky snaked trail,

Along rugged back high, lays stocking silk veil,

Sits lonely watchman, many eyes one head,

Find your precious gift, in tangle of thread.

They didn’t make any sense to me at all. I was stumped as to where a 100-year old door was or the whereabouts of a snake on the island. The watchman wearing silk stockings simply seemed too bizarre for even a bear to understand and I couldn’t work out what Skippy’s gift was.

Skippy asked me for help in trying to understand the message but the whole thing seemed a jumble of words and all I could suggest was that we went to the Fairy Dell and find Mister Wolf. Wolves are intelligent creatures and perhaps he could give us a hint or two.

Skippy carefully picked the gift up and placed it in his pocket. Then he picked me up too and walked me right down to the fairy dell. There was a fairy there playing in the woods and so we sat down on a bench and waited for Mister Wolf to come walkin’ past, as he tended to do. So we sat and watched the fairy dance in the long grass, and sat and watched, and sat and watched.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before Mister Wolf came by. Skippy excitedly told him all that had happened and how we had found the gift and what was inside and how we needed to find the answer to the riddle, in order to claim Skippy’s gift.

Now, here is the weird thing. I explained that wolves were intelligent creatures but I never realized how intelligent they were until that moment. I mean, I had heard it in stories and I had heard my boy read books – but it wasn’t until that moment that I finally understood how very intelligent wolves can be. The reason was, he never told us what the gift was – he simply asked questions. Bit-by-bit Skippy answered the questions and ended up telling Mister Wolf exactly what he had waited for Mister Wolf to tell him. That’s really weird – really weird indeed. It was like Mister Wolf knew the answer all the time and simply led Skippy and me to discover it for ourselves  -without actually sayin’ so. Mister Wolf just simply led us to the answer, without disclosin’ what that answer was. That’s why I say again, wolves are really intelligent.

Anyway, Skippy ended up tellin’ Mister Wolf that the century clue didn’t refer to the age of the door – it referred to the number one hundred, that was connected to the door. The snake was a metaphor for the path (whatever a meta-four is) and the path was inky black because the door was locked closed and the path led deep underground.

Skippy told Mister Wolf that there was a silky draped web hangin’ from the roof of the path, hidden in some rugged nook, and in this sat a solitary creature that had lots of eyes. Skippy explained that a spider had eight eyes and it was the only creature that he could think of that would sit absolutely still in a web of silk and so that was where he would find his gift.

Everything made perfect sense then. Obviously, the gift we were searchin’ for had become stuck on the sticky threads of the web and it was being safely guarded by a spider until the time when Skippy could claim it.

I know I do tend to hark on a bit – but I just wanted to end by saying how wise wolves are. Mister Wolf told us one thing before we thanked him and left him and the fairy and it was so important, I think I ought to say it separately.

“Sometimes, it’s not the destination that is important – it’s the journey that you take to get there.”

I didn’t quite understand what he meant by that when he said it but later, at the end of the quest, I did. I’ll leave it to you to ponder on as I continue.

So, after we had said our farewells to the fairy and Mister Wolf, Skippy carried me to the short way to the cavern. Strangely, it was only a few steps away from the fairy dell – it’s weird how things just fall into place when you want them to. It’s like the whole universe conspires to make things happen, ehh?

Luckily, in my rucksack, I had a pair of underground helmets. You might wonder how on earth I had them there but weird things occur in the world of fantasy and sometimes it pays not to ask questions but simply “go with the flow.” Anyway, me and Skippy went with the flow and took our helmets and walked to the locked door of the cavern, torches in hand.

Standing at the Cavern Door

Skippy fumbled around for a key and found that he could buy one for one hundred pounds – that kinda linked in with the riddle too! Soon we were off down the tunnel and it didn’t take long to find the spider’s web because the riddle explained exactly where it would be.

Searching for the Web

We spotted a glowing orb in the web, guarded by a spider and so Skippy lifted me up and jumped slightly so that I could reach up and pick the orb out of the web. It wasn’t that hard really and, with one snatch, I had it in my paw. I carefully passed the orb to Skippy – after all, it was his.

Skippy holds Teddy to reach the Web

We decided to continue to walk to the end of the tunnel to look inside the orb and discover the secret gift there, in the clearin’, and so we did. It was only a few more steps to the end so it only took a few seconds. When we got there, Skippy gently lowered me to the ground and we both sat down on the stoney floor. Skippy, careful peeped inside the orb.

Skippy and Teddy find out the Gift

Do you remember the parting words of Mister Wolf, about the journey being more important that the destination, ehh? Well, we found out what Skippy’s gift was – it all finally made sense. I could tell you that Skippy’s gift was that he is a “Weaver” and tell you what that means but I won’t. It’s not as important as the journey itself and how we got to that point. It all made sense to me at that moment – of course, yes, Skippy is a Weaver. After all, he can take the finest spider silk and make the most incredible ropes and ties with it. I think I knew that all the time. I think he did too. The important thing was that we had completed the quest together and had an amazin’ journey. We had met some amazin’ people and shared some memorable moments and that’s what counted.

Yeah, Skippy is a Weaver but I guessed, like us, you knew that all the time too.”

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If you enjoyed reading this, take a look at Skippy’s two versions of these stories here:

The Riddle

Found

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