The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 02
“Now, I’m kind of busy, so why don’t you go over to the van?” He pointed at what looked like a human house on wheels. It had an opening on the side, and a man and a woman were sitting in the opening, while two children were seated on the grass next to the opening. One of the children had a tail and cat’s ears. “You could chat with Doctor Deloflote, Mrs. Grady and the kids. Merlin, will you translate for Leona?”
“I guess so. . . . If necessary.”
“Why wouldn’t it be necessary?”
“Kitten is part nekomimi, and it is not uncommon for catgirls to speak cat.”
“Kitten is the girl with the cat ears and the tail,” Wilber said.
Leona gave him a look, then went over to the van.
Kitten looked over as the bluetooth that she was born with warned her of the cat’s approach and provided her with the particulars. Kitten was the daughter of a dryad and a human. Well, Mom was working as a succubus at the time, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Her dad, Jeff Martin, had been one of the twenty-firsters, the people from the twenty-first century who were dragged here when Pucorl grabbed their van to use as his body when he was pulled here from the netherworld by Doctor Deloflote’s spell. She quickly put thoughts of her dad aside, because he had died less than a month ago, and she didn’t want to start bawling again.
“Hello, Leona,” Kitten meowed. Everyone looked at her, then at the cat. “This is Leona.”
“How do you know?” Paul Grady asked.
She tapped her dataport which was located behind her left ear. It wasn’t connected to a cable at the moment, so she added, “Bluetooth. Merlin told Pucorl and Pucorl told me.” She grinned because Paul was a normal human boy with no dataport or bluetooth, and he really, really wanted one. Her dataport and bluetooth, along with the fact that she was a girl and he was only a boy, proved that she was his superior in every way that mattered.
After some negotiations, Leona settled on Kitten’s lap while Dr. Delaflote, Mrs. Grady and another of the odd boxy things that the humans called laptop computers instructed the children in such arcane matters as reading, math, and magic. This computer was named Catvia and was Kitten’s mother. Merlin, Catvia, and Kitten translated so that Leona wasn’t bored. She wasn’t completely convinced of the utility of such things when compared to the practical skills of tracking and pouncing, but with the magical translation they weren’t the boring gibberish that all human yapping had been before.
As the sun was getting ready to set, Pucorl announced that it was returning to the garage for the night.
“Since Mrs. Grady gave Pucorl the van,” Kitten explained while scratching Leona behind the ears, “and especially since he was knighted, he can return to his garage from anywhere. And after we got on the road, it finally occurred to our ‘brilliant’ magicians that we could store our stuff at Pucorl’s garage and not have to carry it in wagons over the rough roads of France.”
“Did you think of it?” Leona asked.
Leona twisted her head to look at Kitten. She realized that half magical creature and half human or not, Kitten was still basically a kitten. Leona was a bit under a year old and considered herself a fully mature, but still young, cat. So she stared at Kitten and waited.
“All right,” Kitten said grumpily. “Anyway, I have to go. I sleep in my tree most nights.”
On the spur of the moment, Leona decided that she wanted to see this tree. “Take me with you.”
“I don’t know,” Kitten worried. “Animals don’t do well in the netherworld. Not even the Elysian Fields.”
“Why not? I mean, if humans can go, why can’t a cat?”
“Well, not all humans can. Pucorl keeps his garage human friendly, but it’s still dangerous for humans who don’t have familiars or enchanted devices. They can be really screwed up when visiting. You know, like never eating anything in Elfland or you’re stuck there. It really is a different reality, and it takes imagination to translate.
“Dr. Delaflote’s crow would have gone nuts if the demon occupying it hadn’t translated. And most of the troop don’t like going there, even if Pucorl’s garage has a motel attached to it now, since he ate that evil demon lord on the field outside Paris.
“It’s staffed by dryads and fauns, so Mom doesn’t let me stay there. Well, there are the rooms right next to the garage. They’re G-rated because of Paul. But I like my tree better. After all, the tree’s my brother, sort of.”
“I’m not a crow. I’m a cat. And you and your brother can translate for me.”
“Well, okay. Hop in my backpack.” Kitten had a Hello Kitty backpack that was enchanted burlap. That is, a burlap backpack that was imbued with the essence of a minor silk demon. So it was a magical backpack that her Mom could afford mostly because the whole dryads’ grove was doing much better since they had joined Pucorl’s lands, and especially since the veils between the world were so ripped up that they could get energy from mortals.
“Because if they see you, Dr. Delaflote may not let you come.”
Leona jumped into the backpack, and Kitten, carrying the backpack, climbed into the van.
Location: Pucorl’s Garage, Netherworld
The van was now in a different place and Leona peeked out of Kitten’s backpack as the side door opened again. With one arm through the backpack’s strap, and the other holding Catvia’s computer, Kitten climbed out of the van and started walking toward the dryads’ grove.
It was a magical sort of place. The trees had tan-colored bark that was almost like skin, and leaves of every color in the rainbow and some more besides. The most common color was gold. The sun was in the sky, and it was a bit dimmer than Leona was used to, but you could feel the warmth gently. The breezes were cool and caressing. Leona sniffed the air. It smelled of flowers and wine.
As they left the black stuff that was right around the garage and walked over a wooden bridge, Leona decided that she was done riding. She jumped out of the backpack and landed on the soft green grass that was the edge of the grove. The stream under the bridge burbled happily and she could almost understand it.
“What’s this?” asked Catvia, but not like she was really surprised.