Ostara nears and minds turn to……the return of…..

The healer trotted back home after hanging out for a while with the gypsies and the other taurs. The druid Kumi and the others were still showing them the realms. They were fun people… a tad noisy I must say, especially at night, but nice and friendly. But it was getting late and she had things to do, besides making dinner.

She wiped her hooves really well before walking into the house (that snail slime left all over the roads lately was rather sticky), not before checking her mailbox. Cinn found inside a small ‘thank you’ note from one of the foals from the Herbalism class. “Awww… how cute this is! I’ll hang this on my wall” She said to herself smiling and remembering how much she enjoyed her first attempt as a teacher.

After dinner, Cinnamon felt like settling down with some tea and a random book. She looked at her bookshelf and read: “ ‘Legends from the Oracle’… hmm nah, I’ve read that 5 times already. ‘Good Fae, Dark Fae’ The latest centaurian drama… nope…, ‘The Dark Witch and other mysteries’, ‘Centaurian Myths and Legends’…”

Cinn passed her finger over the edge of the book, and picked it up. “Hmm… speaking of legends… Zipporah, how long before Ostara?” The white raven tilted her head and cawed softly. “I think we need to start thinking about the whole Hopping Jack deal again, and put hands to the task about that trap, IF we really want to catch him. Ahh… I should’ve mentioned it to the ranger earlier when I saw him. Hmm… I think I know where to start…” Said the healer, putting the book down and heading over to the table, she grabbed fresh parchment and ink and scribbed a note:

Hello, Rayven.

I didn’t realize until now how close we are from Ostara. We should start working on that trap for Hopping jack, I am sure he will be coming back. It occurred to me that maybe with the help of your Mother and other Cloudbirths we could comb through all the stories of the Jackalope that you have gathered from Blackspire and other towns. Maybe we can decipher some clues.

So I kindly ask you… Would you put all those stories down on parchment and share them with me? I will so appreciate the favor, that way I think we could study them better.

Best regards,
Cinnamon, the healer.

After having signed the note, she rolled it up, and tucked it into the pouch concealed under her familiar’s plumage. “Zip, please fly up to Raven Hill and deliver this note to the ranger. You can hang out with Poe after, if you wish. Oh, take this for you both.” Said Cinnamon, offering a couple of pieces of carrion.

Zipporah grabbed the carrion with her talon and flew off towards the ranger’s home.

 


 

Poe begins hopping around and flying around the door and cawing at the ranger

What is it, you silly bird?” said the ranger just before he hears a familiar caw from the other side of the door. “Ah. That sounds like Zipporah outside.

The ranger stands up from his table and walks over to the door as an excited Poe caws louder “Alright, alright, Poe I’m opening the door. By the gods bird.” He proceeds to opening the door and sure enough sits a patient Zipporah waiting for the door to open.

Come inside, Zip. Poe is excited to see you.” Says the ranger.

Zipporah gestures to the concealed pouch… the ranger reaches and removes the message inside and steps away to read it leaving Poe and Zipporah to do Poe and Zipporah things… upon finishing the note he bonds to himself while retrieving a quill and parchment to write his reply…..

Hail, Cinn.

I’ve already have committed all the different tales to parchment. Those make for some interesting reading. You will soon see. I’ll drop them off tomorrow because the burden is a bit much for ravens.

Until next we meet,
The Ranger, Rayven

The ranger signals to Poe who gives an annoyed caw but still comes… The ranger fixes the note in his pouch then addresses his avian brother

Poe, you and Zip head over to the healer’s house and deliver this note. You and Zip can continue to hang out as long as you both like, just don’t stay out all night, ok?

He sends both ravens to the healer’s and goes back inside to pour himself a pint of stout.

 


 

This is gonna take me the rest of the week…” Mumbled a tired Cinnamon under her breath, while she reached for yet another scroll from the satchel. But the more she read through every version of the Hopping Jack tale, the more confused she felt. Every tale she went through, repeated in essence the same story, however some details varied from one another.

One would say white Jackalope, not black… another one would claim it was not a flintlock but a magical dagger. A third one, the one from Blackspire, affirmed that he collected from the people a sort of “tribute” every season, instead of stealing. Even the one version from the town of Whytburn would claim Hopping Jack was really a female… Cinnamon scoffed. “Nah. Don’t think so… I am pretty sure it was a male. And that BOOM we all heard was definitely NOT a dagger…”.

She crossed a few words with a line and made another note in the margin. She kept writing thoughts and possible clues on every scroll she read, but she kept thinking she needed help from other taurs, maybe from the Queen, or from her House leader, Emily, both descendants of Fae. Maybe they would have received an answer from them by now?

Cinnamon, after thinking she wasn’t doing good progress by herself, decided to stop the reading for the night, and instead, she picked up blank parchment and wrote a letter to her House leader:

“Dear Emily,

If I remember correctly, back in Samhain, you were going to try and talk to your Fae relatives for clues about Hopping Jack and how to deal with his… “curse”. I wonder if you have heard news from them. I have a hundred versions of the same story, which I am still going through, but I feel I am getting nowhere just yet. Would you kindly share any information you have with me?

Ostara is coming soon… we need to make haste if we want to catch this highwayman.
Cinnamon, the healer”

Cinn rolled up the parchment and secured it with a string. Then walked out of the house, calling for her familiar. “Zipporah…. Zip? Where are you, silly bird?”. The white raven came flying down from the very top of the tree at Cinnamon’s yard. Looking up, she said: “What are you doing up there, woman?? Hey listen, I need you to send this note to Emily, and fast…” The healer tucked the note onto Zipporah’s pouch. “Don’t lose it!! Make sure she knows it’s urgent. Off you go… Yes yes… Poe can come with you”. Cinnamon rolled her eyes at the pair (Poe was perched up on one of the tall branches), sent them off and trotted back inside the house to get some rest.

 


Emily glanced up from the mixing bowl as she heard a tap at the window and smiled at Zipporah and Poe before opening the window and taking the parchment. Reading it, she facepalmed and then sneezed as flour got into her nose!

“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I forgot!! There has been SO much going on….”

she quickly washed her hands and trotted over to her desk, taking out her quill and ink and jotting a response to the healer

“Dear Cinnamon,

I am so so sorry that I haven’t brought this up sooner, but between the holidays and everything else that’s been going on, it completely slipped my mind. Yes, I did get a response from my Fae kin, but…well it didn’t really make much sense. The only things that I got from them were “The stone is the key”, “Seek the stone”, “The stone will save you”. To be honest, the meeting with them left me even more confused than ever! I do hope something can be made of the message from them. Perhaps if we put our heads together, and possibly even requested a meeting with the Queen, we might be able to figure out what it means? Do let me know what you think, as I would most definitely like to be able to celebrate Ostara without fear.

Again, my deepest apologies for not sharing it with you sooner.

Emily”

 

she swiftly rolled up the parchment and sealed it with wax and the Williams Taur Family seal, then peeked out the window again “Zip…Zipporah! Zip…Arka, I’m sorry but play time with Zip and Poe is over for now. Zip, please hasten this back to the healer for me, dear. Thank you” she tied the parchment to Zip’s leg and watched as the 2 birds flew off in the direction of Cinnamon’s home, then looked at her owlgryph companion and gave a tiny snort “Don’t look at me like that Arka, you know everything that’s been going on.” she then went back to the kitchen and continued getting the dough mixed up for tomorrow’s cinnybun breakfast

 


 

Somewhere in the outskirts of Centauria

We have arrived, old crow,” Jack says with the air of snarkiness about him. An irritated Sharp Claw pecks annoyingly at Jack’s head.

Oy!” exclaims Jack at the crow.

Hold your tongue, coney,” caws an irritated Sharp Claw. “And don’t repeat the foolishness of Samhain. I swear that if you do, the odds are high that you will not return to the queen with your life. And if you do, I doubt the queen will allow you to keep it this time. So for now we watch and wait. Observe these ponies and learn their daily routine. We have time to plan before Ostara.

As you wish, Sharp Claw,” replies Jack as the crow looks at him with shock yet the feeling of pride.

You’ve finally learned how to talk to your betters, coney. Do well to remember your place. Now keep your head down and out of sight. We do not want to be seen yet.

Hopping Jack has returned.

 


The Queen can not help but turn her mind to Hopping Jack. It had been some weeks since she had sent George to deliver the message to the fae. It seemed there was no current threat from the once-mythical rogue….but Julala was aware that Ostara would be soon upon the land and it’s people. She couldn’t help worrying about the return of the Jack-o-lope and any chaos and threat he may bring. As if the Gods had heard her own mind a single small Raven flies swiftly into the window of the castle.

George makes a gruff caw and the small Raven plants down beside him. There follows the sounds of little caws between Ravens…..they chatter like old women….”Hello?!!” says the Queen toward them with an expression of expectation upon her face, “What is it??!!” She demands. The small raven hops off the window ledge and moves over to the Queen, lifting her leg to reveal the pouch upon her leg. The Queen retrieves the parchment within and looks over the text before her. Her eyes widen and her jaw drops a little before face bears the beginnings of a smile. “Omy! This is very important information! It’s from the Fae!” she exclaims. “I must gather the possey….George! Fly quickly to the Ranger and his brother, to Lil the Healer, fly now and tell them we must meet with great urgency!

The Queen sits slowly and re-reads the note she holds in her hand as George flies off in haste.

 


 

Zipporah flew back from Emily’s place. The white bird landed at Cinnamon’s coffee table, cawing and signing at her concealed pouch. “Thank you Zip” said petting her familiar and offering a small chunk of smoked salmon. Then sat down by the coffee table, popped the wax seal open and read the letter.

“The stone will save us…??” asked out loud to no one, grabbing one of the parchment scrolls from the pile and squinted at the text of them both back and forth

A tap on the window glass makes Cinnamon unbury her face from her reading… “Who’s that? Oh! George, come in!” said as she signaled the bird to come in through the open door.

“Greetings, healer. Her majesty wants to see you as soon as possible. It’s about that Hopping Jackalope, and some Fae information she’d like to discuss. It’s urgent.”

Cinnamon widened her eyes – “Have the Fae folk answered to her Majesty?

“Apparently so. She needs you, and the others as well.

I’ll come right away. Thank you, George.

The raven bowed politely and flew away.

“I better take all these with me” Said Cinnamon looking at the mess of parchment scrolls on the table, so she collected them all, along with Emily’s letter, tucked them into her satchel, hung it on her waist, and offering Zipporah her arm to land on, trotted off see the Queen

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