Daisy the Dragon here!
Apologies, my lovely readers, for the long delay! Karl’s messenger pigeon was delayed, as several amateur naturalists attempted to study her by putting a tag on her leg and having her take the Myers-Briggs personality test before they concluded that she was a scientific anomaly and let her go.
But I shall waste no more time in passing on to you the contents of his letter – for it is a most exciting one, and I am certain you will be very interested to read it.
Avast and ahoy, my dear dragon!
I sent off my last missive in great haste, as you may recall, for I had just caught sight of a small rodent in a vessel not far from where I was swimming. As I was still searching for clues to the location of the mysterious Waldo, I resolved to follow this curious creature wherever the tide might take us.
It should not have taken me long to catch up to him, for I need not remind you that we krakens are champion swimmers, and in any case, the rat’s coracle was without any evident means of propulsion save for a tiny oar. Nevertheless, when next I surfaced, I found the waves had carried him away, and I could not see him as far as I looked.
There was, however, one clear mark upon the horizon, and for a moment I was overjoyed, for its forepart was in the shape of a dragon, and I could not help but be reminded of you, my dear friend! But my joy soon dissipated, as I noticed that the shape was not itself a dragon, but rather a deviously disguised ship. Furthermore, this mock-dragon lacked those telltale signs of moral uprightness that you sport proudly on your forehead – for I recalled Grace Lin’s wise caution at the festival that a dragon without horns is not to be trusted.
“Ahoy there!” cried a voice behind me, and I nearly jumped out of the water. Somehow the rat had paddled around behind me, so that he had become the pursuer and I the pursued. “Art thou friend or foe? Either way, stand and fight!”
“I am merely an adventurer,” said I, adopting his chivalric manner as best I could. “I mean you no harm, good sir rat, unless ye be an accomplice of the scoundrel Waldo, for then thy motives should be most suspect.”
“Waldo,” he repeated, scratching his chin with the hilt of his sword thoughtfully. “I am sure I have heard that name somewhere. I shall take your word for it that he is not to be trusted, for you speak like a true knight. Come aboard, fellow adventurer, and partake in what scant comforts my humble craft can provide.”
“Indeed, I think your craft, though admirably made, is ill proportioned for a creature of my size,” said I. “And besides, I am most comfortable in the water.”
“Forgive me,” said the rat. “I had not realized that you were an aquatic beast. I am no stranger to creatures of the deep, though I have met few as noble and as civilized as yourself. I have, in my travels, encountered the Sea Serpent of the Great Eastern Ocean and legions of the Sea People – both those who swear allegiance to the crown at Cair Paravel and those who live beyond the king’s realms. But I know that those are but the least of the wonders of the eastern waters. For I have heard tell of islands where gold turns men into dragons and water turns men into gold, and where the people have but one foot. All this is told in the chronicles of this land’s history.”
“How marvelous!” I cried, thinking to myself that this land seemed just fantastical enough to be the home of the mysterious Waldo. “And pray tell, good sir rat, what brings you to these distant waters?”
“Ah, an excellent question!” he exclaimed. “What else, but the will to adventure! I am sure that you are driven by the same.”
“In truth, I have a purpose in traveling beyond my questing spirit. I am searching for that dubious figure that I mentioned to you earlier.”
“Waldo, you mean?”
“The very same.”
“A very noble mission!” said he. “But now that you mention it, I, too, have another purpose in traveling. For the chronicles of the first voyage to these uncharted waters tell of one of my heroic ancestors, another noble rat who set sail in a coracle to the edge of the world, never to be seen again. All my life I have dreamed of following in his pawprints, yet circumstances held me back.
“Being for a long time incapable of setting off on a quest myself, I devoted my time to learning the ancient scripts and searching through the palace archives for mentions of that first great voyage. And by a stroke of luck, one day I found inscribed upon a tablet the precise dimensions and materials of the coracle in which my ancestor set to sea.
“Why, this was the very push I needed to abandon my inhibitions and set sail into the open ocean! I have been at sea for many months now and had such adventures as one only reads about in the stories of the kings and queens of old. Many times has my brave spirit been tested, and many times have my whiskers bristled in the face of danger, yet I am determined to continue on my path until I reach the very edge of this world, and then, if fate allows, I shall pass beyond, into the lands of the sunrise and the domain of the Great Lion.”
“Godspeed, my most mettlesome murine!” I said, greatly impressed by this young rodent’s sense of valor.
“The same to you, good sir!”
“But before we part ways, would you be so kind as to point me in the direction of land? I am a stranger to these parts, and I would be most grateful for some guidance.”
“Due west, that way!” he called out as his coracle was slowly carried away by the waves. “May Aslan grant you safe passage!”
I followed his directions as far as my tentacles would carry me, until I noticed a strange skin of silver on the water. I realized that the entire surface of the ocean, as far as I could see, was covered in white lilies. The water itself was changing, too, losing its brine and becoming clear and sweet, like fresh spring water. I closed my eyes to savor its taste and the feel of my tentacles drifting here and there in the gentle tide, but when I opened them again, I found that my surroundings had changed entirely.
I was no longer in a vast, clear ocean, but rather a small and greenish pond, with the underbellies and webbed feet of several ducks visible just above me at the surface. In confusion and alarm, I thrust my head out of the water to survey my surroundings.
In doing so I greatly alarmed a man in a tweed suit who had been rowing across the pond in a small boat.
“Egad!” he cried, gripping the side of his boat to avoid falling overboard from his own surprise and the ripples I had caused. “What are you doing there? Shouldn’t you be with the dodo in the Natural History Museum?”
“I might ask the same of you!” I said indignantly. “Who are you and what are you doing in my pond?”
“Your pond? I should think that the pond is the University’s, and as I am a professor here, I feel I am entitled to row across it as I see fit. Of course, I had meant to share this boating trip with the children, but they seem to have disappeared this afternoon. There is an odd smell of sea water coming from their room, too. Very curious.”
“My apologies,” I said hastily. “I had not realized that you were an intellectual and an educator of children. I, too, am engaged in such noble pursuits when I am not questing.”
“How fortunate, then, that you have surfaced at one of England’s finest institutions of higher learning! Come inside and have a scone, won’t you? I’m sure the children won’t be back for several hours, so you can tell me all about yourself.”
Here I must break off my letter, for the children have indeed returned, and I sense that another adventure is about to start. The professor has been most hospitable towards me, granting me lodging here for as long as I wish, yet I suspect that he has some fascinating backstory of his own that he has not yet revealed. In any case, I shall write to you again as soon as I can.
Until next time,
Karl the Kraken
I wrote back to Karl as quickly as I could (though I gave the poor messenger pigeon enough time to recover from her ordeal), telling him that I had discovered the very historical Chronicles to which the rat had referred – that they were, in fact, one of the most famous fantasy series of the past century! I also told him that though he was right to show caution when faced with a hornless dragon, this particular ship’s figurehead signified nothing sinister.