Preview of the next book in the jackalope series:
It had to be repaired; there was no doubt about it. Broken things needed fixing. Nature did not fix things by itself; humans had to do it. That was the way of the world. And if nobody else saw the problem, then it was up to her to do it. All alone...but she had never been weak! She could fix this, she could repair everything. No problem was too big or small for her to solve! She just needed a bigger hammer; the one she was stuck with down here in the fuming darkness was not enough, not by a long shot...
"I accept this challenge, and will not turn back until I have finished my task! I swear it!!" she said to the nothingness all around her.
Something was moving in the shadows, something white and toothy. It thought that this newly arrived lady was very strange indeed.
It was the time of birth.
However, it was just the birth of a legend, not the true birth of things. The rabbit paradise that was Tymor heaved and panted, finally releasing The Silvercrowned One into the world. This being was the paradise of Tymor made manifest and set out to dig out the underworld with its claws and stomping feet. It had been a long time in the making, and a long time poking at cracks to succeed.
Like so many other things it started with a party. Jane and Grey had been made guests of honor at one of The Silvercrowned One´s parties in the midst of the smiling moon. The both of them were trying to look at the audience while both trying to evaluate the number of medals their rivals had been given. Jane had more, although Grey´s were more valuable. The Silvercrowned one was standing near the greatest tree of the moon forest while giving a long speech to their bravery and compassion. It ended, quite surprisingly, with a promotion for the two of them.
And how to describe a party planned by The Silvercrowned One on the smiling moon? The casual drinks are had at Totte and Scriven´s palace at the very edge of the ravine that gives the moon its characteristic smiling shape. Then the guests are invited to jump down the swirling kaleidoscope to the depths of the magical moon. There is a great forest and mountains, and fresh air and burrows and everybody feasts and have a good time the whole night into the early hours of the morning. Some of the more hardy party-goers may then continue at the great tower of Centzon-Tototchin, backbone of The Silvercrowned One.
Adva and Alex had persuaded Jane to go and in hindsight it was obvious that they know about her promotion. John was there as well, awkwardly sitting beside The Silvercrowned One and Permeter who wanted to gossip about the other gods with somebody.
Some time after The Silvercrowned One looked proudly upon the canini standing beside as they both gulped down great breaths of air from the land of the living. It tasted a little more foul than The Silvercrowned One remembered it, but no matter. The Silvercrowned One fully admitted to being worried about the canini. He was growing older and ought to take up some kind of profession. However, all that little Barnum-Sees-Foolsgold wanted to do was keeping playing in the forests of the underworld. The Silvercrowned One loved a game just as the next deity, but not perpetual leisure!
Lady Permeter was currently above ground bringing spring to the planet so The Silvercrowned One had been obliged to have a little chat with young Barnum.
“Mother” the canini said.
“I told you my name is Barney!”
The Silvercrowned One sighed. Such youthful revolt, taking a human name.
The Silvercrowned One had after all been just the same as a young´un, running away while still being created.
“But this is what you want to do?” The Silvercrowned One asked eagerly.
“Yes, mother” Barney grinned eagerly.
While trying to have a chat about a job they had chanced upon a carnival. Barney had instantly forgotten all about it and whined to The Silvercrowned One about going. The Silvercrowned One had sighed heavily and agreed. After casting a spell to make them appear human they had entered the haunted house. It had been one of the most boring experiences in both of their lives.
After a couple of light curses Barney had swore to create a better horror theme park. And just like that, his career had been set. The Silvercrowned One had provided Barney with some money to start with and a aunt of his had given him a piece of forest in Spain. And thus the haunted exhibit of Heredia Forest of Andalusia was created, the great castle of Villa Tenebrosa its dark crown-jewel. The Silvercrowned One had left Barney to go visit Permeter and help her with her work. Both of them were in fact so delighted about their kid that they both felt they could stand to have a few more. They started to work on this project immediately and the happy whooping was heard all around the forest to the consternation of a group of commuters.
“And since my mother is the master of the underworld” Barney told a couple of his human investors.
“We can supply the park with REAL ghosts and hauntings. Just imagine the fierce edge we will have over the competition!”
The investors nodded eagerly. This guy was a little eccentric, sure, but he seemed to have some real neat and original ideas that would undoubtedly bring in the dosh. Twenty years later the biggest park in the world was opened to great success. The tourist industry of Spain boomed and many caninis came to live there to help out with the park (although many of them only came to live in the rivers and ponds and abduct young men and women to live with them forever in the forests of the underworld). The Silvercrowned One and Lady Permeter could not be more proud!
The king was absent-mindedly pulling at his whiskers while looking out at his city-state. It was full of decay and completely unregulated building and commerce, as it had for the last billion years. He sighed happily; at least he was safe. The Silvercrowned One was indeed great for making him eternal king and keeping him away from all danger forever, never to be dethroned.
Suddenly something made him jump. However, it was nothing more than a simple knock on the door. King Mortimer waved for his servants to open the door and letting the two visitors in. AHA!
Just another shade wanting King Mortimer to create a new dish/boat to tickle the whiskers and nose of The Silvercrowned One.
The shade undoubtedly wanted an offering to reach the paradise of Tymor! Personally, Mortimer could not understand sailing over the dangerous Dead Sea to reach paradise, capsizing meant eternally drowning down below! But as The Silvercrowned One demanded this of him in return for being the eternal king of the dead, he had no choice. Still, it would be nice if he did not have to do it anymore...
The other visitor was more intriguing. King Mortimer smiled at the proposal of the stranger. It all made sense to him. Unfortunately King Mortimer is a supremely selfish person (although he cooks very good food) so that sense may not apply to everybody...or indeed anybody else in the entire universe.
Rhosgobella waved at one of the little foxes still cheering over the cauldron. He was dressed in a little green dress made from leaves and branches. On his head he wore a little red hat. The dress covered his entire body except for his big feet and bushy tail. The face of the little fox was tiny, with a big nose and small beady eyes. The most extraordinary feature was his ears which were large and pointy even when compared to most of his kin. His eyes perked and his nose twitched as he heard Rhosgobella´s call for him.
“Hey Nils!” Rhosgobella called.
“Hi Hi Hi!” the little fox called back.
“Can I help you?”
“Indeed” Rhosgobella smiled.
“I have the latest report for you to give to Ray himself! Can you do it?”
“Gladly!” Nils cried back.
To help others AND to speak to Ray was his greatest delight. He grabbed the report and went into the walls of the pylon where the village of the smallfoxes were behind creaky walls and floorboards. Some of the houses were buried in ducts and vents nobody knew about except the gargoyles and Gullet, who were their leader. Some of the smallfoxes were up in the attic, some deep in the cellars. Smallfoxes can make themselves so small that they can pass between dimensions, and now Nils went (using the ancient secret words of Tjillevippen) into the kingdom of Ray.
It may now be prudent to explain a little more about the smallfoxes, their purpose and lifestyle. They were created by the fox-god Ray Firecrowned as a mirror-counterpart to his messengers. Ray´s messengers are divided in several tribes such as Wheels, Shields, Swords, Readers, Scribes, Watchers, Messengers and Chalices (although Ray could design a universe´s planets and celestial bodies to move in such a way as to create a note-sheet showing the celestial music of the soul which makes angels weep he was not very good with names).
They are powerful beings and listens to prayers of world peace and spiritual awakening. Smallpoxes on the other hand is for those small prayers when you just want to find your car-keys or something similar. They run around, tiny and unseen, until they find them and with great labor pushes them into your sight. That is why you always find them in an obvious spot after looking all over the house. Smallfoxes live in a family of siblings until they grow up.
When they are grown (which takes thousand of years) they grow into the size of normal souls and wander away to find a mate with someone from another tribe of smallfoxes. After giving birth to a new tribe they grow old and wise and become the tutor of the caninis, children of The Silvercrowned One and Permeter.
The kingdom of Ray, best friend of The Silvercrowned One, is quite vast and so Nils had to flew on a goose to make it from the Slough of Despond at the very border of the realm to the golden city of Ray. On the way he saw small ponds and markets, little temples and fields where the harvest was reap for picking. When he had arrived at at the crystal palace of Ray a messenger helped him ascend to the seventh heaven where Ray was.
“Lord, Lord!” Nils chirped happily.
“I have a report from the underworld, yes, the underworld, sir!”
“Nils” Ray said with the voice of the spring rain.
“Thank you, my dear friend”
Ray took the report and handed Nils a peach to eat. It was almost as big as Nils and he took out a peculiar tool (looking like a mix between a spade and a scythe) in order to carve out a piece to eat. While Nils feasted on the piece of peach he reflected on the fact that while Ray was one of the most benevolent and enlightened gods he did not look very pretty. He was short and covered in white cloth, almost like he was wrapped in a funeral shroud. His head was burnt with fire and his hands were bleeding from the time he had given his eyes to The Silvercrowned One.
His chest was wrapped open from being shot by evil hunters when he had gone into the world to lead mortals to the one true faith. But his tails...The tails of Ray were a million in numbers and radiated glory and power and warmth and love! Nils was being basked with it as he stood watching his god and creator read the report he had brought.
“You have all done very well” Ray finally said after reading the report.
Nils heart fluttered. Just a word from Ray was pure empowerment and joy. Hearing him saying that you did good was even more so. Ray had placed the best and most brave of his servants in the underworld to help those of Ray´s believers that were stuck there.
But in truth they helped everyone, for the followers of Ray (divided into Rayites, Firecrowners and Raywillers) were more often than not exactly the sort of people that would willingly help others and so make it out of the underworld together.
“Hmm” Ray pondered as he read the report.
Yinok, the scribe of Ray (and another member of Toth and Totte´s chessclub) sat at attention in case he had to write something down for his master. Yinok was an old man dressed in a toga and a long flowing beard. His hair was like molten wool circling his deep blue eyes. Ray was actually a bit jealous; Yinok looked a lot more “godly” than he did.
“Everything has been set right in the underworld after the barrier-crisis and all positions left has been filled up again...More and more people are joining the jackalope troops. Excellent!” Ray read slowly.
“Yet Tymor is still walking around, restless”
Often Ray would encounter a problem (political, scientific, religious or magical) that could not be solved by any means known to the gods. If these troubles coincided with one of The Silvercrowned One´s bout of restlessness they would go away together on long journeys into realms unknown to even the gods for a year or four and when they returned Ray would know the solution without fail and the restlessness of The Silvercrowned One would be lifted. During these times the kingdom of Ray was ruled by a stewardess called Denethune (who was a lady of the lake and a sister of Permeter) and the realm of The Silvercrowned One would be ruled by whoever The Silvercrowned One pulled out of a hat.
“It seems...” Ray mused.
“Yes, it seems that we shall go on another journey quite soon. I must admit I have missed it!”
Ray did his best to pretend to find this a little saddening, but in truth he immensely enjoyed these little excursions into the unknown. The last time this had happened was when they were both young. At that time they had visited Hy-Brazil, Hell, The chambers of 32 doors in the Dream Cave, the kingdom of Tomake, where dwelt the master storyteller and reader Dust and a strange country where people had abnormal customs and a language that had the sound of juggling something hot in your mouth (this country was Denmark).
Eight years later, The Silvercrowned One and Ray had not yet returned, but no one was worried. The underworld was safer than ever before.
Any and all of the secretary´s accomplices had been uprooted and thrown into Hell to save the souls therein who was still willing to repent and walk the long road to paradise. Jane had become the mistress of the fourteenth pylon, beyond the wall between the valley of scissors and the safe path through the underworld. It was said that Jane´s words as she was seated into office was was:
“I have made my way through the dark, I know thee well, and I know thy name, and I know the name of her who will devour and hold thee within. Lady of might I am, who trampleth on the red demons with the Benandanti, who keepeth the festival of Tymor on the day of the hearing of faults!”
But in reality what she had said as Totte, still fierce from the stealing of his book of magic, had appointed her was leader was;
“I have lived in the paradise of Tymor for four thousand years now or something similar. I do not remember. I have done nothing except being the right woman at the right time! Whether it is destiny or whether it is free will I do not know either. I do not care about any of those things. I will take this job although I am sure others deserve it better.”
As for the commentary about the Benandanti, the hounds of God, they were werewolves employed by the god of humans Iiezo Thorncrowned. It was common knowledge (at the time) that they were stationed at the fourteenth pylon and Jane was now the leader of them.