“Me!” Squeaked V.
“Yes, you V!”
“Beastlings, they can’t be real, it’s just a story?” said V.
“Oh, but they are as real as you and me, are you ready to meet them?” said the old man suddenly sounding very tired.
V didn’t know how to answer her mind was trying to take it all in. The Beastlings were real so the old man said and she was the new keeper. She shook her head trying to displace the story lodged in her mind. The old man was watching her again waiting her reply.
“Okay,” she said unsure of what was to happen but she trusted the old man she’d only known for day and night.
“Come out, come out, to meet your new keeper,” said the old man to the room. Nothing happened and V though the old man might have gone crazy in his old age. She chastised herself for believing even if only for a second. She knew how hard life could be, the Beastlings, the story, it was just that a story. Nothing like the Beastlings existed anywhere in the world only in the imagination. She wasn’t angry at the old man she suddenly felt sorry for him. He had been strange since she met him, even his foretelling his own death had been... Her thoughts interrupted as the man called again.
“Come out, come on out my little friends, Red, Blue, Purple,” said the man in a sing-song voice. V went to tell him it was okay she didn’t need to see them but sounds stopped her.
There came a rattled from the old teapot and within seconds there were flying balls of light that flew down to buzz round the old man. V was opened mouthed as she watched the little balls of light. One was red, one was blue and the third was purple. They moved so quickly all V could see was little balls of coloured light. If Beastlings were real, the story was real, then the old man would die soon and she would be the new keeper. V felt the need to run, it was all too much for her to accept but her eyes remained glue to the balls of light. They had stopped buzzing the old man and were now buzzing her. The old man spoke to V gently as if sensing her inner confusion and anxiety.
“Just stay still V, they are just looking you over, they will not hurt you.”
V did as the old man said and stayed still. The little creatures buzzed round her head moving so quickly it made V dizzy. She went crossed eyed as she tried to watch them watching her. The purple one finished with her landed in the old man’s hair, where it promptly started washing itself in. Looking up at her between each lick. V tried to focus on the red one but the other two were still buzzing round her face. The blue came so close, hovering in front of her face. V saw it was a little blue winged horse just like in the story. Again she thought about being their keeper and a panic rose, how would she protect them? She couldn’t even look after herself that well, let alone taking care of ancient beings. Her mind boggled her protests rose in her throat. The red ball of light chose that moment to settled in front of her on the table. V could do nothing as it caught and held her gaze it smiled an alligator smile and her heart melted.
“Put out your hand,” said the old man breaking in on the moment. She switched her gaze from the little red alligator and instead looked at the old man.
“Put out your hand V, don’t be scared, they won’t hurt you and you need to get to know them. You are their keeper from this moment on.”
“But, but I can’t take care of me, I am only seventeen....” V felt a loss of words for how she felt.
“V it will be okay trust me, they will take care of you, just put out your hand.”
“I don’t even have a home to keep them in, how can I care for them, this is mistake!” She said going to rise from her seat.
“V,” came a little voice it was the red alligator. V found she couldn’t not look at it, as it held her gaze she felt a lightness spread throughout her. A feeling that all was well in the world bubbled then popped in her mind. Her fear fell away and her normal curiosity rose to take its place. She wiped her sweaty hands on her jeans before slowly putting out one shaky hand. A moment that took eons in V’s mind passed then the little creäture moved forward and stepped on to her shaking hand.
“V meet Red, Red meet V, she is your new keeper.”
Her hand tingled where it stood, her mind was whirling, her life was changing and she was enchanted by the little being on her hand.
“Hello Red,” she said to the little Alligator. Who looked her in the eye and locked gazes with her again. This time a silent knowing filled her mind as it promised to protect her and take care of her. The words flowed from V’s lips like she been waiting forever to say them.
“I promise to protect you Red and be the best keeper I know how to be, oh and love you.”
It was funny she did love them already, it wouldn’t be possible not too they were pure goodness. V worried a little at her promise but knew she was telling the truth with the words she had spoken. She would do anything for the little being in her up turned palm. A love like no other she had ever experienced was blossoming and flowing from her heart. She felt a sense of loss as it stepped off her hand making way for the blue being to approach. It didn’t move quickly toward her instead came forward at such a slow pace, it felt like time stood still. V held her breath trying to settle her palm that had begun to shake again as her nerves kicked in. The blue put one dainty hoof on to her palm at a time, then shook its wings a little before tossing its mane. V had never seen such beauty, so perfect, so tiny, so real.
“Hello Blue,” said V as its gaze locked with hers. What felt like hours passed before it let her gaze go. By the time it did V felt it knew her very soul and every single thing about her, there were no secrets between them, no barriers at all. The instant connection she felt to these little beings was unlike anything she had ever experienced, nothing she had ever dreamed or imagined.
“Hello V,” said Blue dipping it’s head in bow.
“I promise to protect and take care of you as our new keeper. We will show you the way till you know it by heart. Then little by little we will bring good into the world always changing it for the better. We will show you how to do this without being seen for always must you protect us from evil hands. Where there is good, evil will follow seeking to destroy. We will show you how to stay steps ahead. Together we will heal the sick, bring hope to the lost and much, much, more. We know you are young, but we also know you are the one. Pedro does not lie and besides that I can see it in your soul. Welcome.”
“Thank you Blue, I promise to protect you and learn to be the best keeper I can be. I promise to love you and keep you safe showing no other till the next keeper comes into my life.”
The words again felt strange on V’s tongue. She worried she could not fulfil them, but they came from deep within her and she could not stop them even if she wanted to. The Blue bowed its head again and shook its mane before it slowly got off her palm and flew up to it sit next to Red in the old man’s hair. V watched as they seemed to chatter to each other before the purple one took flight and came down to land on her palm.
“I am Purple,” said the little cat with dragon wings which it had tucked up close to its body.
“Hello Purple, I am V. It is wonderful to know you,” said V her eyes drinking its sleek features and wonder filling her mind.
“I Purple, promise to protect you, teach you the ways of the keeper and show you the power of good,” said Purple solemnly his voice as graceful as his stance. Then the little purple cat locked eyes with V and she felt a flow of warmth and goodness, for want of a better word. Spreading outward filling her with a new sense of self. A new place in the world and a feeling she would never be the same. Again V felt a love for it stir deep inside her before it burst forth colouring her words.
“I promise to protect you at all costs, I promise to learn to be the best keeper I am able to be and I promise to help spread the good wherever its needed.” She said to the little cat on her palm.
“Good, good,” said the old man who V had nearly forgotten. When she looked over at him he looked tired but his face was split into a smile. That told her, he was very happy the meeting had gone well.
“Okay, let’s have some tea and dinner you must be hungry, my story has gone all day it is starting to get dark outside.” Said the old man moving slowly over to the stove even thought he had two of the little beings in his hair. He gathered two bowls of broth for the un-emptying pot and brought them over to the table. He went back and lifted the unboiled kettle. Then he poured two steaming mugs of honey tea and brought them over to the table. Before he slowly lowered himself into his chair.