Very much a rough draft.
Copyright by Jonathan Scott Griffin
Edgar awoke early in his cottage upon the mountain slopes. He looked out the window, like he did every day, and like every day, he felt a strong sense of joy to see the slope from his cottage gently slope down to the face of the mountainside. In the distance, past the cliff side and the valley below, the mountains continued in a long chain. Edgar never got tired of the view.
Eager to face a new day of the same thing he had always done for as long as he could remember, he removed his pajamas and changed into his work tunic, trousers, and leggings. Opening his rickety door, the green paint peeling, he stepped out of his stone cottage thatched with dried grass, and walked out into the majestic landscape, with his great, shaggy dog, Octavian (whom Edgar called Octy) trailing behind him, panting happily.
“Hey, boy!” said Edgar, patting him on the head. “How’s it going?” The dog answered with a friendly bark and the wag of his bushy tail, sweeping like a mop
Edgar savored the landscaped around him. Elm and pine trees peppered the surrounding slopes, with huge boulders that he could sit on to read one of his books or to watch the sunset. Waterfalls, some not far from his cottage, rolled down the slopes like glittering silver ribbons.
Yes, life was certainly grand. And for the past seven years, Edgar, now thirteen years of age, had been more than content to shave the mugroomps almost every day, and then to fish, hike, swim, read, and to forage for mountain berries on his weekends. Every Monday, he loaded the mugroomp furs in a little hand-drawn wagon and took them to the valley below to trade with the traders. They in turn would give him necessities or books. And since he was so high up, sometimes he would gaze at the night sky, strewn across with stars as though some salt shaker had spilled its contents on it. There was no doubt that Edgar was the luckiest youth in the world.
Pulling his small wagon, which also had a stool, clippers and razor in it, his dog happily trailing behind him. Edgar walked due east of the slope, until he came to a face of the mountain with a waterfall roaring down the side, into a small river that then went over the cliff further down the slope below. An enclave allowed him to pass by the curtain water. The sound of the waterfall crashing down and hitting rocks tickled his ears and delighted him.
Up a small slope and he could see into a basin full of mugroomps. These big furry animals, the size of elephants with huge wrinkly legs were grazing on the grasses. In the basin, Edgar put down his stool and then gently patted the hairless heads of one of the mugroomps. Though the beasts had large horns that could gore someone, they were gentle by nature. In fact, they were some of the gentlest of animals. Edgar whispered kind words to the beast and even scratched him around the horn, a prim spot that often itched. The mugroomp bellowed good-naturedly.
Plopping himself on his stool, scissors and razor in hand, Edgar went to work cutting and shearing. Aside from their wrinkly legs and wrinkly heads, the mugrooms were large balls of fur. The beasts appreciated losing the excess fur for the summer and the traders in the valley below were grateful to have the furs to knit into stockings, gloves, and winter coats to sell to merchants.
Edgar had learned the art of cutting and shearing from his mother. But for the life of him, he couldn’t completely remember her. He did remember bits and pieces, though. Her smile was gentle, very gentle. He had always felt safe in her arms. And she remembered her reading to him. But she had died when he was six years old. At least Edgar assumed she had. He couldn’t know for sure. What he could remember was that he was eating his breakfast of partridge and fish one morning, when she told him that she had to quickly step out.
“I’ll be right back, my love,” she had said, kissing him on the forehead and ruffling his hair. “There is something important I have to take care of.”
But she hadn’t come back, and Edgar, being only a little boy, had grown scared. He had tried to call out to her, but the snowstorm had been coming down hard. And when she hadn’t returned at night, he had cried in his straw-bed. At that moment in his life, it had felt like the whole mountain range was going to fall on him.
The next day, his mother still hadn’t shown up and he felt alone, a six year old in a dark world.
Well, not totally alone.
Octavian had been there. He had always been there. A species of dog that came from the north and who lived a long and hearty life, some up to their thirties, Octy had been Edgar’s companion, comfort, and protection, letting him cry in his fur, sleeping by his side every night, and always accompanying him to the valley to sell furs.
As for Edgar’s mother, as time went on, he had put her out of his mind, even when he was a child. He had to in order to survive. Even at six years of age, he had remembered what his mother had taught him about how to best trim and shave the fur of a mugroomp. At such a young age, he had to become a man. He had to sell the furs. Eventually the pain of losing his mother had slowly devolved from a harsh pain to a numb sting, and at thirteen years old, he hardly felt the pain at all. He just had to keep living. He had done well enough for himself.
The mugroomp shook its large head and snorted.
“Attaboy,” said Edgar, patting him on a patch of cut fur before he shaved the rest off. The mugroomp turned his head and nuzzled him, almost knocking Edgar off his stool and tearing his tunic with his horn. Edgar laughed. “Careful now, big guy!”
Aside from his dog, the mugroomps were a huge reason that Edgar felt safe over time, even after his mother passed away.
Woof! barked Octy happily, running playfully through the different legs of the mugroomps, getting lost under forests of fur.
When Edgar had a wagon full of furr, and just barely enough room to put his stool, shears, and clippers, he and Octy made their way back to their cottage. This time, on the way back, they stopped to admire the mountain purple, blue, and yellow mountain flowers that were in full bloom. There were so many flowers covering the slopes. Life was beautiful. It was perfect. Edgar wouldn’t have it any other way.
That evening he went fishing, caught a couple of fish and cooked them up for dinner, giving a plate to Octy, who barked a thank you before chowing down. After dinner, Edgar bathed in one of the hot springs nearby, and then, back at his cottage, read a book under lamplight.
It was a rollicking adventure story, full of damsels in distress, dragons, evil dukes, and dashing heroes. With his large dog curled up by his side, it was the perfect way to end an evening, and the adventures of a book were the only adventures that Edgar wanted. To put change in his life? Unthinkable!
Edgar lived off the same routine, day in and day out, without a deviation of change, and it would be ludicrous to even suggest that he do so. The truth of the matter was Edgar was quite content with life, and there was no reason for him to leave his comfort zone.
Little did he know that both an older man and a fortune-teller were making their way up the mountains, right up to his little cottage. But we’ll get to that later. For now Edgar was of the impression of living a quiet life. And he was very happy of that.
Adventure was for other people, not for him. He had no desire for adventure, because life was good. However, sometimes one’s life gets shaken up in unexpected ways. And that’s where Edgar’s story begins.
One day as Edgar was coming back from selling his furs in the valley and purchasing some meat from the market, with Octy trailing excitedly behind him in the hopes for a treat, he found a strange wagon, colored blue and decorated with silver moons in different phases, parked only a couple of feet away from his cottage. Two horses, one white, the other black, were hooked up to the reigns of the wagon. This wasn’t too peculiar, as sometimes merchants did come straight to his cottage to bargain, but what was peculiar were the people; if you could call them people, outside of the wagon.
These weren’t like any people Edgar had ever seen before. They only reached his waist, and were mainly composed of long, black robes, dotted with stars of the night sky. The head of one of these beings was not much of a head at all, but was rather a smooth glass ball, dark and cloudy in color. Sitting upon their heads were wide brimmed hats. There were about five of them in all. One seemed to be resting, the other two feeding the horses carrots, and yet another cleaning the dust from off the outside of the wagon, using his robes. The last one was upon a pair of steps at the back of the wagon, guarding a door.
Now, the extant of Edgars ‘so-called’ adventures had been from books. More realistically, they had been from delivering furs to the traders below, and it’s safe to say that not once in his life had he ever seen; is people the right word?; like this. He wondered if this was the norm that he didn’t see in his little bubble. But nope, it was far from the norm, and would be for anyone who saw them.
Edgar could not help but stare in amazement, wondering what could possibly be going on. He could have kept on staring until his thoughts were interrupted by a gruff voice.
“It’s very rude to stare,” said the being guarding the door.
Edgar almost fell backward in surprise. Not only did the beings speak, but, when this particular being spoke, it’s spherical ball changed from black to red flashes of vibrant light.
“I’m sorry,” said Edgar. “I meant no harm. What is this?”
“This is the wagon of Madame Blue Moon!” bellowed the being.
“Madame Blue Moon” said Edgar. “Who’s she?”
“Are you foolish, boy,” said the being. “You mean to tell me you have never heard of Madame Blue Moon?”
“No, I can’t say that I have.”
“She is only the most famous woman, or creature, in the arts of divination.”
“Would you like your fortune read?” asked the being.
Octy growled. “Hush boy,” said Edgar.
Edgar had heard some of the traders talk about divination, and to him it sounded like a bunch of hooey, even though the traders told him to give it a try at least once, and it might be fun to humor her. Surely nothing could come of it. And truth be told, Edgar thought that having an average fortune told about his average life would be the most adventurous thing he’d ever face. How little he knew!
“Does it cost anything?” asked Edgar.
“Not a thing,” said the being, “except a heart full of bravery and a resolve worth of determination.”
This was sounding more and more hokey all the time.
“Alright,” said Edgar. “I’m game.”
Onty whimpered, his tail between his legs.
“Can my dog come in with me?”
“AFRAID NOT!” the beings head burst in a flash of violent red. “You see, Madame Blue Moon has had some rather nasty encounters with dogs. Not fond of them, I must say.”
“I see.” Edgar kneeled down to pat Octy on the head. “It’s okay, boy. I’ll be out before you know it.”
Octy whimpered and then jumped up and licked him, giving Edgar a face full of slobber.
Edgar merely laughed. “Relax, boy!” He ruffled his dog’s fluffy head. “If anything should happen, I know you’ll come chasing after me.”
Standing up and addressing the being, Edgar said, “I’m ready.” Or so he thought.
The being moved aside, and the door flew open by some invisible force, breathing out a breath of cold air. Edgar entered to find the wagon had shelves of books, candles, and mystical items such as oracle bones, monkey paws, and strange potions. Hanging from the ceiling were lamps carved out of what looked like some sort of fruit shells, of orange, green, and yellow, basking the interior of the wagon in a dim, eerie glow. The wagon smelled old, the very air ancient, and, as funny as it seemed, and as illogical, he felt like he was standing in a room which housed time, from the very ancient of days to the near future.
At the very end of the wagon was a round table. Making his way over, Edgar found a most strange being, an owl, the size of a human, wearing a dark blue dress, and on her dress were pictures of the moon, in different phases, half moons, wanning moons, waxing moons, and full moons, each one with a smiling face. She wore a blue cap upon her head, and a pair of silver spectacle above her beak. Behind her spectacles were luminous amber eyes that told that they knew all and could see each and every part of you inside and out.
“Welcome Edgar,” she said. “I had a feeling you’d come, but I wasn’t for sure. I am glad to see that my prediction proved right.”
“Prediction, feeling!” exclaimed Edgar, “wouldn’t you just know? Can’t you see into the future?”
“My dear boy, you have the art of divination all wrong,” said Madame Blue Moon. “We are not guided by a set path, but have many different options laid out before us. It is up to us to decide what we will do when the time comes.”
“I see,” said Edgar, wondering if it would be wise to use his current options to get out of this strange wagon.
“Indeed young one, would you like your fortune read?”
“Wonderful!” and the old owl gave a whistle.
Materializing into the wagon was one of the beings. Without being told, he placed his glass head, folded gently in the sleeves of his robe, upon the table, and then slowly moved to a corner of the wagon. Madame Blue Moon’s feathers glided across the glass ball, gently sweeping away dust, like a little feather duster, in the process.
“Now look into the crystal ball, and we shall see what your destiny is.”
Edgar found himself peering into the ball, into a cloud of dense fog. He began to grow impatient, but then it cleared, revealing a young girl, about his age. She had long ebony black hair, shining white skin, and was wearing a loose fitting white robe. Her feet were bare, and she was walking over a vast cosmos of stars and star clusters. The very starts themselves seemed to speckle in her hair. Edgar took a deep breath in admiration.
Then the vision changed. A monstrous black form engulfed the crystal ball. It had large black wings sprouting from its back layered in muscles, glowing red eyes of fire, and sharp fangs protruding from its jaws. Edgar didn’t get to take a close look at the being, but could see that the monster was over an altar, and upon the altar, tied up, was the young girl he saw floating in the cosmos.
It was too much for poor Edgar, who wasn’t accustomed to excitement, to handle, and he almost fell backwards out of pure fear. But then the visions faded.
“That will do,” said Madame Blue Moon.
“Who was she?” asked Edgar. “What was the creature?”
“This, my boy, is your destiny.”
“And I’m doomed to run into these troubles?”
“Have you not been listening?” snapped Madame Blue Moon impatiently, as if she were chiding a five-year old. “You are not made to accept this role. It’s only an option. You still have your agency.”
Edgar was silent. He had no desire to be in the presence of this crazy fortune- teller. Without even saying goodbye he made his way to the door. But before he got there he heard a high-pitched voice.
“Oh please don’t leave me!”
He turned to his left to find on a table a little metal cage, caging a little white mouse.
“Oh please take me with you!” said the little white mouse. “I don’t want to be eaten.”
Compassion swelled inside Edgar’s heart for the little rodent, even though he really despised rodents.
“You aren’t going to eat him, are you?” he asked the fortune-teller.
“Well, I am an owl,” said Madame Blue Moon in a matter of fact sort of way. “It’s what owls do. Yet I don’t need to read your mind to tell that you have sorrow for that little mouse. Very well. I will forfeit my snack to go if you promise to take care of him.”
Inwardly Edgar groaned. Babysitting a rodent wasn’t high on his list of priorities. But what choice did he have? He could either be a babysitter or allow the mouse today. “Sure,” said Edgar, “I’ll take the mouse.” And with that he took the cage by the handle, the little mouse happily beaming inside of it, and went on his way.
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