The Wretched Mog

I had just come back from Elderwick, after a rather long and tiring afternoon at the Mayor’s office. He’d treated me to tea, and explained a new development in City affairs, to wit, the return of the Injurious Princess. “She’s trying to solve a problem in her country’s history, and I had thought that a person of your…range of contacts might have a few good ideas. Also, there’s another matter.”
Long story short, he wanted me to take care of a friend of hers, at least while she was in town. “You would seem to be the best person to handle him.”

Her Most Serene Emissary of the Carnelian Coast retreated in high dudgeon to her shared apartment with the real ministers of the Banded Prince on arrival, huffing that nothing like this ever happened in a proper home for one of her stature. The kittens kept to their den. The bats flew even further into the rafters, followed by the two ravens, Poetry and Sophistry. The rats disappeared down one hole. The weasels down another. The Sapient Spider created a few loops and crawled off into the dark.

The rest of us, fleshlings, fungus, and sundry other flightless bipeds in the house gathered in the parlor as a welcoming committee, with drinks and zeefood cocktail. The Presterbyte Ambassador opined that whatever happened, at least I had had the honor of their trust. My wife had a worried look. The others were everything from doubtful to noncommittal — it was clear that no one was especially happy about this.

I opened the basket.

A young, bony, combat-scarred tom slithered out. Hissed. Then, in a superbly nonchalant gesture, he gave a long, luxurious spray to the foreleg of the chaise longue. Then he planted himself in the center of the Aubusson rug, and coughed up a hairball.

Nigel, late of the Fisher-Kings, and currently acting footman, broke the silence. “That’s going to take some doing, cleaning that up.”

The Starveling Cat, our erstwhile, though unreliable, enforcer and House defense system sniffed, and stalked out of the room, though not before adding his marking to the leg.

Clearly something Needed to Be Done, though it wasn’t clear what.

It was then that Bastet (“please don’t call me that”), Midnight Matriarch of the Menagerie of Roses made her presence known. (She’s like that).

I’d hardly ever seen her pull rank on anyone. Not even another cat. The high and the humble got her respect, the young and simple her fond regard, the pretentious got her amused charm, the downright treacherous her impassivity and private scorn. Even the Starveling gave her a wide berth.

I suppose that’s what’s being a real aristocrat is all about. But this — I’d never seen this before.

She didn’t just walk into the room, she wafted. Wait! Did she just twitch, not just her tail, but her whole hindquarters? Did she just tread? No, it’s gone.

The Mog looked puzzled, then decided to sneeze, instead.

“Well, she’s certainly nothing to sneeze at.” Sophistry, the dark Raven, had glided onto my shoulder. He bit my earlobe, gently. “Perhaps you need an interpreter.”

“You understand Feline?”
“Shh. Kind of a necessity, in my position. But, yes.”

What was happening needed no interpreter, though it was mighty cryptic.

She caught his eye. She blinked, slowly.

He arched, then let out a low growl. “You have no idea what I’m capable of. Keep back.” Soph murmured.

She was fully facing him now. She twitched again, slowly, deliberately. Then tread. All this time, she kept looking him full in the face, but her face held the guileless innocence of a feline debutante. “Really? You must…tell me. Better, show me! I don’t know anything about such things. My life here…is so, so sheltered…” Soph continued.

He growled again, but it wasn’t working. “He’s wavering.”

She sat, and turned in her paws. “The defense rests. Now let’s see who walks off first.”

A long moment passed.

He unarched, and sat, but kept his paws.

She rose up, lightly, and washed his ear for some time, making small cat noises. “I…I can’t make it out.” She left the room, in the direction of the dining room, her head and tail held high.

The breath everyone was holding was let out. The Mog rose to his feet slowly, his head down, and for a short while, tried to bury the hairball. Then, shaking his head, looked at all of us and said:

“Wot you all lookin’ at?”

And loped down the stairs to the kitchen.

Later Bastet came up onto the arm of my favorite easy chair. Seeing Sophistry’s bite mark, she washed my ear, and purred.

“What did you tell him?”

“Oh, nothing. I just told him that this was one of the safest. best guarded places in London, and it would be hazardous to roam. Also that you’re going to take him to the see the Duchess. Then I made some hints about why all we Palace cats are all so…calm…so contented….” She groomed her flank. “Do this for me, please? I know you’re friends, but I’d really rather not bring up old wounds…&quot

Later, he became the most insufferably haughty arriviste prig, and sought the lovely paw of dark Bastet, leading to the local Padre conducting her wedding… in Coptic….but that’s another story.

And then, I got another Mog….
edited by Alissa Mower Clough on 10/28/2018

The Wretched Mog!
The Wretched Mog!
Better it, were left in the fog!

(How delightful! Another who shares companionship with the Matriarch of Roses. And a cat lover no less!)
edited by lukeskylicker on 10/26/2018

This is the first of a trilogy…await the next…

Well, first she had business. Then, everyone succumbed to temporary lunacy when chaff fell out of a dirigible. Then our horse got a minor case of colic, and all household activity ground to a halt as the poor beast lay in exquisite nostril agony, until the bolus passed. (The happy event was feted by the whole House.) And then, there was the Marsh-wolf scare…

It was fully three weeks before I was able to see the Duchess.

All through this time, the still-nameless Mog was schooled in Basic House Living by our intrepid Bastet. He was told just where in the garden he could dig, which former trees and fungus were best for claw sharpening, and how to get on the right side of the Clay Man who delivered from the butcher. The Starveling Cat told him exactly how to torment the Rubbery fellow on the second floor back, and how to avoid the Little Bastards who had a workshop in the cellar. After he was caught trying to bully the kittens, Bastet kept them far away from him, which suited him mightily.

Except he kept trying to escape, and no one, but no one was going to let him.

He tried the tunnel in the cellar…and was met by the Sentient Spider, looking malevolent, backed up by the L.B.’s, who had cat-trapped the passage. Sophistry and one of the monkeys caught him trying to use the Skyway, and beat him back into Nigel’s room. Simply hopping over the garden wall wasn’t an option: its rim was covered in sharp stones and shattered glass. Running out the front door was no solution either: there was also a front gate, which we kept shut.

His frustration grew frantic. He begged, pleaded and tried to bribe the Ambassador, claiming that the Princess had asked for him specifically, and Poetry, promising a rat king’s throne if he could only leave long enough to fetch it. (The Ambassador declined, and Poetry demurred, citing vegetarianism.)

Finally, the day came. Arming myself with a white Turkish towel, and a cornet of fresh Rubbery Lumps, I sat idly playing with a wind-up bird on the floor. The Mog watched intently as it walked back, forth, and pretended to eat a few peppercorns from my hand. Carelessly, I lay down the cornet to give the toy a rewind. He swooped down on the zee food, only to find the towel being draped over him, and being lifted up onto his back, as the corners closed down onto his belly side, and his tail folded securely over him.

“Help! I can’t move!”
“Brave kitty…” I droned, swaddling him into a neat package. “Good kitty. We’re just putting you into your basket. We’re going to the Palace, isn’t that fun? The blanket will make you feel warm and sleepy. Maybe we’ll feed you a little kitten milk, en route, if you’re good. Yum, yum! “ I remember what a fellow spy named Linebarger told me about talking to traumatized people.
“I can’t take this…I’m too young to die…I’ve got two wives, eleven children…I was framed!”
“We’re going to see the Duchess, isn’t that wonderful? She’s heard so much about you…” 
“I demand a lawyer!”
“By the time this is over, you can have a whole judge.” I muttered, breaking character.

Bastet, the Starveling, and both kittens watched from the doorway. The Starveling snickered. The kittens looked frightened, and Bastet was doing her best to look cheerful. “Give my regards to the Lord Chamberlain…and the Groom of the Stole…She’s going to the Shuttered Palace!” I picked up a pile of letters she’d dictated to various other people she remembered fondly, while she rapturously recounted the glamor of Court life to her two round eyed charges.

We left the house to a rousingly patriotic chorus of “God Save the Queen”, given in the key of C over high C. I could hardly suppress my emotion, and I’m not even born here.

Tigressa nodded. We stepped into the hired carriage. The driver signaled to the horses.

Tigressa was in fine form today. A wide ranging, though not very deep mind, she made for a fine traveling companion, as she went from the wolf-hunt that ended the scare “Killed five, ate two.”, to the latest race-meeting (Rubbery Racer, in the fifth), to the latest books to be brought down from the Surface (“The Yellow Book…such a scandalous magazine!”)

The Mog was reduced to small whimpers after the first hour. We broke for lunch after the second, after Tigressa suggested a Tiger-friendly tavern. The Mog accepted a kitten bottle full of Murgatroyd’s Patented Cat Milk Replacer. (“For kitten, cat, or senior, safely soothes, hydrates and nourishes!”) After four hours, we arrived at the gate of the Shuttered Palace.

My invitation got me in through the gates. I paid my driver well, and said I’d be done in about two hours. Tigressa claimed diplomatic immunity; the guard simply smiled, and let her through. The Mog was not remarked upon.

This far from the actual Empress, the Palace was a warren of activity. I was escorted by a guard through numberless hallways, with appropriate levels of light and darkness, and found myself in a small antechamber. A handsome young lady in quiet civilian dress offered us tea and nibbles. Somehow, it was more impressive than the most elaborate livery.

Finally, The Duchess came out, and I unswaddled our Mog. He looked even more wretched than usual, being limp, miserable, and scared witless.

“What a fine young tom!” She smiled pleasantly. “Why haven’t I met this fellow before?” She took the Mog from my arms into hers, and said “We’ll have a lovely time together, I’m sure.”

He gave a final, despairing, look, and mewed meekly, ready to meet his fate.

The fine young woman’s name was Sarah, and she offered to show us around a little. Even in this part of the Palace, there was a lot to see. Portraits, with all kinds of intriguing symbolic details “you see her hands reaching for the crown, but touching it, meaning she never became the Royalty she sought&quot, framed floor plans detailing the complex history of the building, from small hunting lodge to the mammoth hub of the Empire, even some of the reconstruction going on in the Garden “in light of certain climactic changes lately&quot. In short, she sounded like she’d been amazingly well briefed, and I was happy to learn of some surprising details that I’d never heard of when I passed my time there. I gave her the stack of letters, and she promised they’d get to their intended recipients.

We had such a good time that it was nearly time to leave when we walked back to the Duchess’s quarters.

He had on a spiffy striped grosgrain ribbon, and was calmly lapping up some Surface milk from a bone china saucer.

“We had a long talk. About his heritage, about his responsibility to his household, about how he fits in the larger scheme of things…you know. And we gave him a thorough defleaing, and a bath. Here’s some dewormer. He should be putting weight on. He’s really a lovely cat, feel free to have him visit, anytime.”

And with that, I was off to my other digs in Mayfair. I turned on the electric lights. I sent out for three dinners: one for myself, one Tiger, one cat. I was very tired.

I plated them all up and sat down to dinner. Mog demurred.

“What’s wrong, darling.” He was owed a lot of love.

“You’ve put the rat on the plate wrong. The head should go to the right.”

Tigressa looked at me. “I think we’ve created a monster.&quot
edited by Alissa Mower Clough on 11/7/2018