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Chris Tinniswood

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Member Since: Nov, 2009

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Nostradormouse
by Chris Tinniswood   

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Category: 

Fantasy

Publisher:  Histrionic Downs Type: 
Pages: 

104

Copyright:  ©2009 Standard Copyright License ISBN-13:  9780956161109
Fiction

A dormouse utters a mysterious prophecy. An ancient tree receives strange visitors. Rumours abound. Change is in the air. This is the age of... NOSTRADORMOUSE.

Lulu
Nostradormouse
Nostradormouse

A fantasy tale for all ages, Nostradormouse is the story of a mouse with a gift, and the journey he undertakes for the sake of the world in which he lives. Join Nostradormouse and his friends on this incredible adventure, and witness a legend in the making!
 

This book is illustrated throughout.


Excerpt

Prologue


The hooded mouse treads a solitary path;
The pack-mind catches the scent of prey.
The largest shall bow to the smallest's will,
And the youngest will identify the prophet.




Wrapping his hooded cloak tightly about him, the dormouse pressed on through the darkened forest. The wind was blowing hard against him, but his will was fierce and so, undaunted, he continued his way towards the centre of The Great Woods.



The moon appeared briefly through a gap in the trees. It should have been a welcome relief for him, but instead it brought fear; for although it lit his way, it also revealed shapes in the bushes; shapes which he had glimpsed before. They barely made a sound, even when the wind was not howling through the branches and whispering nightmares into his ears. They were his constant companions these past few hours; if they were friends, why did they not reveal themselves? If they were enemies, why did they not strike?



The dormouse paused for breath against the roots of a silver birch. Its bark was smooth to the touch, and he could smell the earth beneath his feet. It gave him some small comfort, which he craved. He sighed heavily, and sat down to rest, grateful for the shelter against the wind. He had come a long way these past few moons, but he knew that he still had far to go. He wished that he was safely back at home with his parents, but knew that it could never be. If only he hadn't eaten that nut. But he had, and that one meal had changed his life forever.



A shriek pierced the night, and the dormouse sprang up onto the root, his head darting back and forth, his whiskers twitching as he strained his ears to detect the source of the sound.



There it was again! He paused, suddenly aware that whatever danger was out there, he was just one solitary mouse. What could he do? His every instinct told him to run and hide, and yet there was something scratching away at the back of his mind, telling him that he could help. He could make a difference. And so, despite the fear he felt and the knots in his stomach, he sprang off the root and ran towards the source of the shrieks. Someone needed help, and he knew that he was their only hope.



Just ahead of the dormouse was a small clearing. The trees cast long shadows across it, and leaves whispered in the wind like soft applause. In the centre of the clearing was a family of rabbits. They huddled close together; not against the cold, but in fear of their lives. Surrounding them, and closing in, were a pack of hungry wolves. Their mouths slavered with the anticipation of the meal to come. Again, the rabbits shrieked, and the wolves snarled viciously in reply.



The dormouse did not hesitate; if he had, things may well have turned out very differently. He ran straight under the wolves and skidded to a halt in front of the rabbits. Gasping for breath, he smiled timidly at the astonished animals, and then turned slowly to face the common enemy.



The wolves stopped; their hackles rose, and the tone of their snarls changed. The leader of the pack sniffed the air; he detected the smell of fear, and the dirt, and the rabbits. These smells he welcomed, but the smell of this rodent was something he couldn't quite grasp. It was not that of just any mouse; it was a smell he'd been tracking for some days. He looked down at the dormouse and a look of amusement grew on his face. He watched his tiny chest rise and fall. The wolf chuckled, and his chuckle turned to laughter; it rippled across the others in his pack as if they were sharing an unspoken joke. This was, in fact, exactly what they were doing; these hunters had a unique bond which they called the pack-mind; it allowed them to speak to each other in complete privacy by thought alone.



The mouse thinks himself a hero! thought the leader, but I reckon he'll make a tasty starter! Again the wolves laughed.



The dormouse cleared his throat, and said, 'Don't come any closer, or I'll...'



'You'll what?' replied the wolf, lowering his head towards the dormouse, 'Squeak at us?'



The pack leader could see the fear in the dormouse's eyes. This will be too easy, he thought. Then, something shifted, and the wolf saw the terror disappear, to be replaced by something else; something that terrified him. This tiny, cloaked creature was no longer afraid. Indeed, he was now looking at him as if he was an equal. This he could not tolerate. The pack-mind met in silent conference; What are you waiting for? Attack! Kill them! The other wolves couldn't understand the delay. They were hungry and impatient. This insolent mouse thinks he's as good as us!



The leader took a step forward, even though the fear he now felt was painful. The wolf took another faltering step and then stopped. He could go no further. He looked into the eyes of this strange mouse, and the universe stared back.



Then the dormouse spoke these words, and his voice was heard in the hearts and minds of all hunters everywhere:



'All pilgrims on this path may pass without hindrance;
From the smallest to the largest, their way shall not be barred;
For those whose hunger ends the life of another, know this;
Until their journey is done, they shall not eat of flesh.'



Something changed within the wolves at this moment; the craving in their bellies ceased, and a calmness silenced their growls. The hunting instinct left them, and their pack-mind agreed that the importance of the journey overcame whatever selfish desires they had. Reluctantly, they backed away from their prey, their gaze never leaving the dormouse for a second. The pack leader saw him blink twice, and knew that whatever it was that spoke through him had left as suddenly as it had arrived. The dormouse looked as surprised as he was that they weren't attacking.



Silently, the wolves trotted away, but their pack-mind was feverish with thoughts: What's going on? Does this mean we've got to go vegetarian? Just before the forest consumed them, the leader turned back to face the dormouse.



'You have made an enemy in the wolves,' he growled. 'The next time we meet you will not be so lucky.'



The dormouse gulped. This was not good. He had left home reluctantly; he didn't want these powers, but they had been thrust upon him. Now he had enemies, and he would always be looking over his shoulder. Then, something whispered to him, and he knew that there was one thing left to do.



'Go well, Remus,' he said.



'What did you call me?' replied the wolf. 'I have no name. We wolves do not need names.'



'Nonetheless, you have earned your name this night.'



Remus considered this for a moment. The pack-mind was silent. Finally, he said, 'Then Remus it is, but you will get no thanks from me.'



'And I expect none,' replied the dormouse.



Remus turned back to his departing companions and trotted after them. The woods swallowed them up and the clearing was left in silence.



The dormouse turned to the family of rabbits and smiled sweetly at them.



'Everything is okay now,' he said, 'they won't bother you again.'



'How did you do that?' asked the father, 'I've never seen anything like it!'



His wife nodded her head in agreement.



The dormouse thought for a moment before answering.

'To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I know. I really thought I would be eaten, but it's as if there's something inside me that takes over. It's still me, but it's also something far bigger than me. I can't explain.'



One of the three children tugged at the mother's forearm and she bent down to hear what he had to say. The child whispered it to her and she nodded.



'My son wishes to know if you're the mouse everyone's been talking about?'



'What mouse is that?' he replied.



The little rabbit looked at him, and gained some courage.



'The mouse that heals,' he said, 'The mouse that tells the future.'



'Ah, that mouse!' came the reply, and he chuckled.



'You are, aren't you?' the little rabbit said. 'You're Nostradormouse!'



'At your service!' he said, and his eyes twinkled like a thousand tiny stars.



'Would you care to travel with us for a while?' said the father.



'It would be an honour,' came the reply.



And so, the family of rabbits and the hooded dormouse set off into the woods. The rabbits felt safer with their companion beside them, and Nostradormouse was glad of the company. They all knew where they were going, but only the dormouse knew why. He could hear a pulse, like a heartbeat, coming from far off in the distance. It summoned him with the promise of wonders. Once or twice, he caught the father rabbit looking at him, and he could almost taste the thoughts from his new friend: Who are you? Where did you come from? How can you know the future?



By rights, the dormouse should not have been aware of his beginnings, as he had yet to be born. And yet, he did know the truth of his origin and the future that was yet to come; it was an enormous responsibility, and it still scared the little dormouse. But he also knew that there was nobody else to do what he had to do, and so he soldiered on towards the centre of The Great Woods, and the pulse grew ever stronger.



His story begins many moons ago, at the shores of a deep lake, and that is where we will start...




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