A children's book for grown-ups by Jon Evans

October 18, 2007

89. Epilogue

"So few," Patch said, aghast. "So few."

He and White were in Silver's drey - Queen Silver, now - among her adornments of glittering glass. Silver had just returned from a census of the Center Kingdom. The census had not taken long.

"More than fifty," Silver said. "It is said the Forever Winter reduced us to fewer than twenty. We have enough to prosper, to thrive. The crows are gone, and the rats will not bother us again, not with the cats as our allies. Ten years, a few generations, and we will be a proper Kingdom again."

"How many dead?" Patch asked.

Silver shook her head and would not answer. "Go to your drey. You have a visitor."

White led the way from Silver's spruce to Patch's oak. He was still getting used to running the sky-road without his tail-weight for balance. Patch expected his visitor to be one-eyed Twitch, and braced himself for grim prophecies of disaster. Twitch had not yet recovered from the war. It seemed to have burned away almost everything in him that could enjoy the world; Twitch seemed almost to have been replaced by another squirrel, one that lived for disaster and despair. But the last time they had met, Patch had brought him a tulip bulb to eat; and when he had seen the momentary flicker in Twitch's eye when he first saw the treat, he had dared to hope that while perhaps his old and joyous friend had been burned by war and buried within his scarred and one-eyed body, the old Twitch still stood some chance of being one day unearthed.

But it was not Twitch who waited beneath Patch's oak tree.

"Zelina!" Patch cried out.

"Patch! Oh, I'm so very glad to see you. And White, a pleasure as always. Am I understand that you're officially mated? Congratulations!" exclaimed the Queen of All Cats.

Patch looked around. "No Alabast?"

"No. Just me. No other cat knows where I am. If I did, they would come to me and draw me back to the court. It isn't all sushi and cream being the Queen of All Cats, you know. I have so many duties, so many worries - lately, it's the humans, it seems there's something terribly wrong with them - and so many affairs of state, little dignitaries to entertain, so many little treacheries and rivalries and territorial turf wars to deal with, you have no idea how byzantine and backstabbing the cats of my court can be. And all the protocol, the titles, the ceremonies - oh, sometimes they're wonderful, but honestly, Patch, sometimes I think of those days we went wandering through the Ocean Kingdom, nothing to us but our names, not knowing what we'd eat or where we'd sleep next, and I wish I could be there again. And so. You told me once to visit you in the Center Kingdom. And there was the small matter of a poisoning, and a war, and an attempt to exterminate your entire people, and an underworld quest, and a tiger - and before you ask, no I don't know what happened to Siva and his attendant - but the point I am trying to attain is, finally, here I am. Would you like to show me around?"

Patch looked at White; and his mate smiled back at him; and Patch said, "Zelina, I'd be delighted."

A long time ago, on a glorious mid-spring day, a young squirrel named Patch led his new mate White and his best friend Zelina on a tour of discovery, an exploration of the delights of the Center Kingdom in which he lived. They paused often for laughter and stories and reminiscence. The sky above was blue, and the wind was clear and rich with life, and the trees and bushes were thick with flowers and berries, and the days of blood and terror past seemed already long forgotten, and this day and all days beyond seemed to stretch into a warm and golden forever.


(but for a brief author's afterword, to come tomorrow)


Anonymous Flood said...

Wow, thanks.
Great book, I'm looking forward to read it again at a later date in one sitting. I hope you'll be able to publish it someday, it would make for a great gift. Good job, Jon.

Still, I didn't get a few things. The significance of the glass ball, for instance. Also, the coyote chapter and the reference to the "Old One". I was waiting for a chapter in the zoo (which was described in a great way earlier) and meeting a very old turtle. But hey, maybe there's enough material for a 2nd part?!

October 18, 2007 at 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely! I've really enjoyed reading this - thank you.

October 19, 2007 at 2:29 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

Flood: It's true, there are a few things left unresolved, or implied rather than told. And this is indeed partly to leave room for a potential sequel...

October 19, 2007 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Rakie said...

YAY!!! Awww, that was the most awesome story EVER! And a happy ending, just like i was hoping for! *does very happy dance* Thank you SO much for posting this story, i have enjoyed it immensely. *hugs*

ohhh... but i want more story. I'm sad it's over, it's been going for so long that i'm really going to miss it. And i want to know what happens to all the other characters! what about Karmurruk, and Talis? does he get to go back to a nice peaceful life now that things have calmed down? And daffa! oh, poor daffa! does he find his home?? what about Tuft and the babies? c'mon, you can't leave us like this, i wanna know... even if it's just 'and they lived happily ever after too', i wanna knooooooooowww...

/whiny voice

but really, seriously, this has been the most fun. I've not enjoyed a story so much for ages, i've been trying to think of my favourite moment but there's just too many. i've posted a review on my blog to hopefully snag the friends i have that don't like reading stuff till it's finished. *rolls eyes* Sincerely hope you decide to post more stuff online!! You=star. :D

October 19, 2007 at 11:45 AM  
Anonymous briangc said...

Wonderful story. I'm glad I was along for the ride so-to-speak.

Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

October 22, 2007 at 7:07 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

came back to this... and couldn't stop reading till the end, I am so going to be late for work tomorrow. I loved it totally obsessed. love that scene when the hawk kills like 13 crows and want to kill more, heheh. inspiring! and the black on white thing, totally brilliant!

September 9, 2008 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Victoria Dunn said...

This has been a fun ride! I liked your story very much, and I'll be printing it out to share with my children and my husband. I think they'll like it very much.

Especially my 11yo son - and he's very picky when it comes to reading. He doesn't like stories that are too slow, or "talky". But on the other hand he really dislikes being talked down to, as well. So, most of the typical "kid" books don't appeal to him. He even found the Harry Potter series boring after the first book. But I think the blood and danger and frequent cliffhangers, paired with short chapters and rich language, should make this just the right kind of book for him. (He loved Gaiman's "Graveyard Book", which has similar qualities.)

My only complaint would be that it ended too soon, and maybe a bit too abruptly. I'd have liked a little more closure on the fox, and the tiger, and maybe a visit to the zoo. And that poor pigeon never got home!

Thanks for a very entertaining read!

September 24, 2009 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Phayona said...

Wow is all I can say. I'm satisfied.

November 3, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

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Jon Evans is the award-winning author of the thrillers Invisible Armies, Dark Places (aka Trail of the Dead), and The Blood Price. See his web site rezendi.com.

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