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Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories

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Cora and the Mooncats

--Grandpa, grandpa tell us another story. Puhleeze, please, please!
--Huh, whazzat, whaddaya want? Oh, it's you lot. What is it now.
--Another story Grandpa, another story.
--[Sigh] Oh okay. What'll it be this time? Another account of my great exploits or those of the legendary heroes I used to adventure with?
--No, grandpa.
--Then what?
--Tell us another story about Cora Two-mouth.
--What! You little perverts, get outta here.
--[Angelic smiles] Ah, Grandpa, you tell the bestest stories.
--Oh okay, just send the youngun's away (chorus of disappointed younger children). These tales ain't fit for tender ears. Go on, git! (Waits until the waifs are out of earshot). This is another story about Cora that I heard from a Lunar officer a long time ago. One day...

Cora was in a big hurry. She hadn't planned on spending so much time on lunch but a girl's gotta eat. Moonson himself was waiting for her and He didn't care to be kept waiting. She remembered hearing about the last person who'd kept Moonson waiting too long and she didn't like to ponder on such unpleasantness. She was currently Moonson's favorite but she knew all too well how that was likely to change at the drop of a tasseled pair of undies. (The sort Uleria Herself might have worn). She raced down corridors and up corridors holding her gold sandals in her left hand running like only a farm girl (which she used to be) or a whore in a hurry (which she considered herself now to be) could go. Caution and decorum to the winds she thought I's just gotta reach the Silent Throne room before Moonson does or my ass will be grass. She raced down the hallways yelling, "Gangway, Moonson's whore comin' through!" Servants and functionaries scattered left and right to get out of her way. Most of them, eunuchs excepted, stopped to stare after her as she disappeared down the hallway. Finally she reached the hallway the Silent Throne room was off of and the guards at the door yelled, "Halt, who goes there!" She yelled, "No time to chit chat fellers, its me, Cora", and she vaulted over their crossed rhomphias and through the open door. She slid across the polished floor up to her spot beside the throne, slapped her sandals onto her feet and tried to compose herself. Just in time, she thought, as she heard the sound of the ceremonial cistras that always preceded Moonson wherever he went. She dropped prostate to the floor and lay there panting, her chest heaving as Moonson's procession came through the door. All the eyes that were free to, or at all interested looked at her as she lay there.
"Late again, Cora?" asked Moonson as He ascended to the throne.
"No, Your Imperial Majesty, just plum afire with passion at muh proximity to Yourself." she replied quivering inside at the absence of the dear Moonson usually tacked onto her name.
"Indeed," Moonson snorted, "We will talk about it later my dear, now stand up and look as fetching as you can." He paused,"You know We think the sweat actually helps. Be late next time as well."
Cora gave a deep mental sigh of relief and promised to let herself collapse later when she got the chance. He usually asked her to attend an audience when he wanted her present to distract some embassador or bigwig. She got bored at these things pretty fast. It wasn't that they weren't interesting or nuttin', she thought, it was just that she really had no input or say so it didn't really matter to her what happened. Things would happen or they wouldn't and nothing a farm girl or a whore had to say would make the least lick of difference. She just had to stand there wearin' a skimpy outfit and make googly eyes at whoever Moonson wuz talkin' to. She was wondering who the fella was she was to flirt with today when she heard a ruckus comin' up the hallway toward the throne room. She heard guards shouting "You can't go in there!" followed by shrieks of pain and a deep, rich, unmistakable female voice saying, "Oh really?" Moonson's left eyebrow raised a fraction. In stalked Great Sister dragging a haggard looking man behind her. She tossed the man to the ground and had started into the abbreviated version of the seven prostrations and three salutations she was permitted as Moonson's relative when He gestured impatiently for her to skip them.
"What is it? I have an important audience coming up."
"Moonson they are gone," said Great Sister.
"What's gone?" asked Moonson irritably.
"The mooncats from the Glass Menagerie."
"Oh?", said Moonson raising his eyebrow a fraction higher than it had been a moment before.
"Yes, this wretch," she said pointing to the man she had tossed to the ground who Cora now recognized as the Keeper of the Menagerie , "tells me the cats have been gone for two whole days!"
"Hmmm," said Moonson, "that's rather unfortunate considering their fondness for human flesh. Can you tell Us why you neglected to inform anyone of their escape before now?"
The keeper went through the seven prostrations and three salutations, timidly raised his head and said in a quivering voice, "I was afraid."
"Afraid!" shouted Great Sister striking the man and sending him skidding across the marble floor. "Afraid of what?"
Showing a degree of bravery that Cora felt was commendable but extremely foolhardy the keeper whispered "That someone would do that." Unfortunately for him the excellent acoustics of the Silent Throne room carried the sound to Great Sister's ears and she was about to pounce on the hapless keeper when Moonson raised his hand.
"Enough. We do not have time for recriminations right now. The proper agents will investigate the keeper's conduct and make a report to me.
The keeper turned as white as the prophesised Moon at the mention of the proper agents investigating his actions and fainted dead away. Great Sister sighed in exasperation and dragged the man away by an ankle just in time to clear the room before the expected audience arrived.

After the audience was over Cora walked back to her room thinking about the afternoon's events. She'd never heard of these mooncats but then she rarely had any time for such frivolities. She pitied the poor keeper having to be subjected to the not so tender mercies of the Grim Soldiers, the proper agents Moonson had mentioned, the agency responsible for the security of Glamour. She decided to pay the Glass Menagerie a visit the following day since she didn't have anything on her schedule and see what she could learn about these mooncats. The next day she got up bright and early (just before lunch time), did her devotions to Moonson and Uleria and headed out of the palace towards the Glass Menagerie. The Glass Menagerie was the place where creatures from all over Glorantha and even from the Red Moon Itself were collected and displayed for the delight of residents of Glamour and visitors alike. Not having ever been to the Glass Menagerie she had to ask the gate guards for directions which they were more than happy to provide.

Cora enjoyed walking the streets of Glamour and never grew jaded at the fact that in this of all cities a naked virgin with a sack of gold could wander the streets in perfect safety. (She didn't really qualify for that description since she was certainly no virgin, didn't have a sack of gold (on her person) and would have only qualified as naked in the more uptight parts of the Empire). She marveled at the diverse and colourful crowds she passed and thanked the Goddess yet again that she was lucky enough to live in the most wondrous city on Glorantha. Fortunately she had been in Glamour a while (not to mention having visiting the Moon Itself once, as well as having been in the City of Dreams a number of times) so she was spared having to wander around jaw agape like so many of the tourists she saw. Since she was thirsty she bought a fruit ice from a street vendor and greedily gobbled it down. A little while later she regretted having done that as she soon felt a strong need to empty her bladder. She hated using the public facilities which were mostly staffed with broos because like most country folk she just couldn't overcome her inbred aversion to Chaos and hated getting that close to a broo. She hurried her pace and hoped that she might use the staff facilities at the Menagerie which hopefully would be staffed by humans. After a brisk walk she reached the park where the Glass Menagerie was housed and turned in at the gates. She walked towards a very bored and oafish looking attendant leaning on a broom who suddenly became much more attentive (but no less oafish) at the sight of a beautiful, scantily dressed woman in the colours of the Imperial household and said,
"Pardon me fellah but could you tell a girl where the Menagerie is? Plus could you tell me where I's could go and powder my nose around here?"
The attendant looked puzzled and said, "Huh, youse wants to put powder on yer nose?"
"No, no. It's a eu-phee-missim for using the facilities."
"What's a you-fee-whatzit? And wut's a fah-ci-li-tees?", said the attendant looking even more confused and oafish.
Cora sighed and decided to try the direct approach, "Ah needs to take a piss."
"Oh, fur cryin' out loud, why didn't you say that in the first place. Plenty of bushes around here."
Cora's drew herself up straight, narrowed her eyes and looked down the length of her perfect nose at him.
The attendant felt a chill and hastily said, "But mebbe a fine lady likes yurself don't piss out of doors."
"Not anymore," agreed Cora.
The attendant quickly gave Cora directions to the proper facilities and much to Cora's relief there were no broos in sight. She quickly attended to her business and feeling much better left the facility to head over to the Menagerie. As she was leaving she heard a faint mewing sound. She looked around and located where the sound was coming from a clump of bushes. She crawled under the bushes and amidst the litter left by visitors to the park she discovered a tiny kitten tangled in the string of someone's discarded macrame bikini top. He, Cora quickly verified, was a scruffy looking little tabby covered with dust and mud.
"What are y'all doing here li'l critter?" she cooed as she slowly untangled the kitten. The kitten swiped at her with its paws and drew some blood.
"Goldarnit!", she yelped and dragging the kitten out of the bushes she stuck her face right in its. "Listen here varmint, there's plenty more where youse came from so smarten up! Anymore of that there nonsense and I's a gonna toss you back into them thar bushes. Kapish? "
The kitten gazed into her eyes and perhaps sensing she meant business mewed plaintively. At this Cora melted and put the kitten into her carryall saying, "When I's gets youse home I'll fix you a right nice snack." Cora had a bit of a snack she'd packed for herself in case she got hungry; two of the Emperor's favorite type of sausages, some green cheese, a couple of tomatoes, a loaf of bread, some butter in a stoneware jar, another jar of sardines, some potato salad, a bottle of wine, and another of water, as well as a jam buster for dessert, so she gave the kitten some of the sardines to keep him quiet. He quickly gobbled them down and promptly fell asleep.

Cora made her way to the Menagerie where she quickly spotted the Keeper looking somewhat the worse for wear after his "interview" with the Grim Soldiers. He recognized Cora from the throne room and made a great fuss of welcoming her and showing her where his office was. He sat her down in his own chair and offered her something to drink. She turned him down and offered to share her lunch with him. He reluctantly accepted but his reluctance quickly disappeared when he saw the dainties she was offering. The pair sat and ate and made small talk. Cora learned that the Grim Soldiers decided that the Keeper had been stupid and perhaps negligent in letting the mooncats escape without telling anyone but that he hadn't been acting in a treasonous fashion in doing so. It had been decided that his interrogation was a sufficient punishment for what he had done. (He said this while spitting blood out from between his missing teeth so Cora guessed this was true).

After they ate Cora asked him if he could show her where the mooncats had been housed since she was so interested. The Keeper showed her the enclosure where the cats had been and she marveled at the height of the transparent wall.
"You mean they's jumped that ther wall!?! Why it must be ten meters tall!"
"I am afraid so. We quite underestimated their ability to jump. If only we had told someone when the kitten had disappeared."
"Kitten?", asked Cora.
"Yes, we had moved the adults to another enclosure so that we could clean this one and I guess we both, human and cat alike assumed that their kitten had gone with them. Unfortunately it seems the kitten stayed behind and wandered off while the enclosure was open."
"What do these mooncats look like anyway?"
"Oh, somewhat like the cats the Orlanthi barbarians favor, but much more noble looking and regal in manner. Their fur is a lovely shade of red. They're quite large, about the size of a horse and their eyes have the power to drive mortals mad. Oh, and they have a large, beautiful tail, not the ugly little stub the barbarian cats have. Unfortunately they also seem to have something of a taste for human flesh. Fortunately no one seems to have been killed by them so far but I'm sure that can't last since it's been quite a while since they ate. Again, unfortunately they're quite cunning, almost Lunar in intelligence so it may take the Hunter Corps quite some time to catch them. The Emperor has issued orders that they must not be killed so it could be quite the feat to capture them.

Cora thanked the Keeper for his time and he thanked her for the honor of her company and for sharing her lunch with him. She left the Menagerie and headed back to the Citadel for lunch. On the way back she heard from ahead of her an ever increasing amount of noise which she soon realized included screams of terror and shrieks of alarm. Curious, she turned the corner from the peaceful street she was on to a scene straight out of some hell. The alley in front of her was littered with rubble and bodies. Some street vendor's stalls had been completely flattened with all of their goods scattered all over the alley. The vendor's bodies lay in the rubble and more body parts littered the street. A small detachment of Grim Soldiers were gathered at the far end of the alley. Three of their number lay on the ground in pieces before them and they were visibly trying to steel themselves for another attack. Cora looked around for their attacker or attackers and couldn't see them right away. One of the Grim Soldiers spotted her and yelled at her,
"Flee while you can in the Name of the Goddess!"
"What is it," asked Cora, "what's gone and happened?"
Just then her question was answered when a giant reddish feline landed right in front of her, lifted its head to the Moon and roared.
"Oh," squeaked Cora, "that's what happened."
Cora decided that she might as well die well as the giant cat was joined by its mate. She spread her arms apart, threw her head back and said, "If you has to eat me then go ahead and eats me. Just make it quick." The larger of the pair of cats had moved closer, opening its massive jaws and started to swallow Cora's head when it stopped and sniffed at Cora. It gave out an interrogatory rumble which was answered by a faint meow from inside Cora's carryall. Cora said, "You don't mean..." and moving very slowly she reached into her carryall and lifted the kitten out. The huge cat sniffed the tiny kitten and gently picked it up in its mouth. Cora sighed and wiped the sweat off of her forehead. The larger cat turned with the kitten in its mouth and went over to the smaller cat. The pair seemed to communicate somehow with the kitten and Cora could have sworn that the kitten looked abashed. The smaller cat picked the kitten up while the larger cat turned again to Cora. Cora gulped and was bracing herself for destruction when the large cat licked her face with its tongue which was the same size as one of the imperial wash cloths. The larger cat squatted before her and she said, "Me?" The cat growled in assent and she gingerly climbed on the cat's back. The cat gracefully rose to its feet and accompanied by the smaller cat the pair padded all the way to the Citadel of Halfway along the busy streets with Cora riding on the big cat's back. Crowds soon lined the streets to gawk and cheer as Cora and the mooncats moved along the streets, giving the foursome plenty of space of course. Eventually they reached the Citadel of Halfway. The guards at the entrance moved to stop them but Cora's cry of "No" and the great cats growls made them fall back. They walked past the guardsmen at the entrance and strode through the hallways up to the entrance of the City of Dreams. There waited the masked and grim Hell Sisters. The female cat gazed at the Hell Sister in charge and some communication seemed to pass between the pair. The Sisters let them through and they traveled down the hallways and through the streets of the City of Dreams until they reached Moonson's presence. (Cora had no idea how the Mooncats managed to find Moonson, they just seemed to know where he was). The two adults plopped themselves down in His presence and looked expectantly at him. Moonson's left eyebrow rose up to his hairline at the sight.
"Well," he said.
"Your Imperial Majesty, I thinks they wants to go home."
"You know Cora I think you are correct."
Moonson issued orders for the Gates to the Silver Bridge to be opened. Moonson took Cora's arm and strode with her to the Ante-chamber of the Moon. The mooncats rose up and followed them. At the Ante-chamber the cats stared deep into Moonson's eyes and then gave out mighty roars, licked Cora's hands and walked up the Bridge to the Moon.
Cora said, "I think they'll be happier up there."
Moonson replied, "So will we all We imagine."

--Okay kids, that's it story's over go away and let an old, old man sleep.

July 07, 1998

Last updated October 07, 2016

Glorantha is a trademark of Chaosium, Inc. Gloranthan material on this page is copyright ©1997-2016 by Oliver D. Bernuetz or by the author specifically mentioned on an individual page. Glorantha is the creation of Greg Stafford, and is used with his permission.

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