"Night of Dach Shadows" a Tale of CatgirlIsland by Mike Moon

originally published in 2002, revised editions 2007, 2013*



Chapter One of Fifteen: Beware the Tides of March

Friday, 11:35 pm. Sha’nami, or Shanny as she was sometimes called,  the waitress was a petite, raven-haired catgirl of age 25, and at present, a most perplexed one. She swore that she’d just placed the lodgers’ coconut shrimp cocktails on the serving cart, but now the tasty treats were not to be found. She looked left and right to see if anyone had helped themselves to the cocktails, but no one was nearby. No human, that is... as she failed to spot the bur of motion under the tables.

Kyralindalani (Kyra, for short) was a pretty, lithe, catgirl in her mid 20’s who loved to dance after hours in the solitude of the inn’s ballroom. As she changed from her maid uniform and into a tight black leotard, she gasped at the phantom presence literally flying towards her. With a hint of shrimply aroma, it flew by about three feet off the floor and vanished into a wall behind her. The alarmed catgirl ran into the dining hall to tell Sha’nami of the strange incident.

Several miles to the south of the inn-

“Why the heck did I pass up that fishing tournament?!” He thought, sipping an Old Fashioned. Dach Savage was up late in his office one March night, gazing outward to the marina lights, recently come out of retirement. The Case of the Eye of the Idol was closed- but clearly there might be further need in these parts for a dog with such a keen nose for danger. A heroic black and tan Dachshund, the once a famous international adventurer was now an older & grayer weener dog, making a new go of it as a Private Detective

Gazing off his balcony, Dach's ear flaps fluttered in the ocean breeze as he watched the sea traffic; he watched the fishing boats heading out, dive boats taking tourists out to swim with the manta rays, private yachts hosting small gatherings of friends, and larger party barges lit up like Christmas trees. He'd come very close to entering the big Spanish Mackeral fishing tournament, yet for no good apparent reason he decided not to. Sure, there were all sorts of festivities going on across the island tonight- but sure he loved to fish.

The island marina, river walk, and parks were usually well lit with pretty streetlights, stone and hanging lanterns, lights in trees, but this week was particularly illuminated  and decorated as it was Matsuri, or Festival Time. Shops, cafe´s and art galleries were open later than usual. Night games transpired on the beaches and athletic fields, and there music or other performance in every club, theatre, parking lot, and on the boats that Dach was kicking himself for not being on.

Back at the inn, lodgers at the Kitt Inn were enjoying nighttime strolls through the garden, slinking into the hot springs bathed in moonlight, and partaking of comradery or romance in the rotemburo’s fine, old suites. The faint rush of the brook, the pockets of conversation, and the insects of the woods were the only sounds. It was a blissful evening for all... until the screaming started.

It was not the sort of squeal one might hear from a girl who just spotted a peeping tom peering at her though the cedar fence. It was not the startled noise a diner might release upon seeing a mouse in the soup bowl. It was also not the loud wail a spouse would unleash if their partner suddenly keeled over in cardiac arrest. It was far worse - far more blood curdling than anything of this earth- probably because that’s not where it came from. It was almost like the very night air was a giant chalkboard on which great fingernails were screeching down, until mutilated and bloodied to the quick. It lasted for exactly five seconds. 

Ten seconds later, Nemui the Innkeeper franticly dialed 911, as Sha’nami the Waitress and Kyralindalani the Maid (who was feeling much better but still quite jittery) dispersed to account for all the lodgers. Nemui was a mistress of martial arts with a usually rather slow pulse rate - but during the eternity that was two seconds for the Police to answers, her heart was pounding like mortars over Bastogne.

Across town, the weener dog’s ears perked, sensing something in the wind.

Officer Meryl Murrey was outside in the town plaza, chatting with citizens who were drumming under the towering Giraffe sculptures and Royal Palms when the dispatcher notified her of the emergency call. She excused herself and leaped onto her red motorcycle (with a sidecar). Her ETA at the Inn was two minutes.

The weener dog sighed heavily as he grabbed his radio scanner, his .45, and ran downstairs (as graceful as weener dogs are able to) to his custom-built electric 4x4, which was already packed with other useful gadgets and equipment. His ETA would be ten minutes.            

Chapter Two: The Inn Crowd

Dach was Private Detective, expert in the areas of Parapsychology and Archeology. Once a famous international adventurer, he’s seen more than his share of danger and intrigue. Now an older & grayer weener dog, he had tried to settle into a less dangerous life of fine steaks and antiquing, but his old friend Meryl had consulted him a year ago on an important case- that made him realize how he missed being out in the field. He grinned wear to ear, his head out the window to feel that exciting rush as he sped to the inn. Even if there was nothing to this call, it sure beat drinking alone at office.

By the time he arrived, he perceived that the lobby was full of people- each and every one of the lodgers, no doubt- Nemui had probably gathered them all in that main area for their own good, and as not to impede a search of the premises. Meryl’s motorcycle was already there, parked out front. Were it not for major holiday festivals going on, back-up officers might’ve been here as well. Nevertheless, Meryl was one of his best friends- a friendly, dedicated Officer. The two made a pretty good team and Dach figured they didn’t need any back up.

The Kitt Inn was a stately traditional three-story Ryokan (Japanese style inn), with gardens and Rotemburo (outdoor hot springs), managed by Miss Nemui, a catgirl in her early 40's of some Indian ancestry.  A beautiful place in the forest by the Chalchiutlicu River, not far from the waterfalls that cascaded from Lake Neko atop nearby Mt. Natsutsuji, the inn was the most popular place for tourists to stay. 

After scanning the adjacent garden areas with his searchlight, Dach then disembarked and trotted to the Inntrance. His keen canine senses detected something unnatural in the night air... a scent that was almost familiar but not recognizable.

Nemui was serving tea to the rattled guests. With the splendid array of food and everyone wearing their pretty, colorful yukatas, the mood appeared was much more festive than the true frightful state. When the weener dog entered the lobby (which was just as splendidly decorated with antique artifacts as his own estate), the crowd murmured his name in relief.

“Konban wa, Dach-Sensei!” Kyralindalani greeted him with happy swishy tails She and Sha’nami the waitress were best friends, each hoping for careers in resort management. Unlike the more formally attired waitress, Kyralindalani was still wearing her dance leotard.

“Arigatoo- so what seems to be the problem”, the little dog asked. 

“Glad you’re here, Dach! Somethin’ weird’s been going on!” Chef Bullpup (a red brendle bulldog ) said. “Hey dude- you want some supper?”

“That’d be great- but maybe later- work before pleasure! Um, I hope everyone is okay...”

“Hai!!! I was scared by a ghost but I’m better now!” Kyra announced withcatgirl cuteness.

“Some of the guests are frightened but no one was hurt. We’re out of Shrimp Cocktails, though.” Sha’nami mentioned.

“Dach-san, sumasen!” Nemui greeted. “Officer Meryl thinks there might be a trespasser on the grounds, possibly injured in the darkness, since all of my registered visitors are accounted for. Tea?”

“Ah, no thank you where did Meryl head off to?”

“She was bound for the river bank “

“Right.” He contacted Meryl on his radio, which was riddled with unusually heavy static.

“Breaker breaker- you got your ears on, Meryl?”

“10-4! I can barely hear you- where you at?”

“In the lobby- what’s your twenty?”

“Between the hot springs and the river bank, headed north.”

“Roger- I’ll circle around the garden perimeter and-“

He was interrupted as another horrifying shriek rang out. Teacups and saucers crashed to the floor. Dach’s ear-flaps stood straight up.

“Great Googly moogly!” He barked, brandishing his .45 “Meryl- you okay? Meryl?”

He bolted through the main corridor, running to where Meryl was supposed to be. That foul odor he detected was much stronger as he got

outdoors... and was about to make him sick. After the echo of the shriek had dissipated, the night air was still- devoid of the slightest wind

or insect chirping, only the sound of the streaming water was audible. This was good- for the river would help to further mask his dog stealth. 

He slinked  down the garden path, which was illuminated by stone lanterns here and there. The moonlight reflected off the waters of the

hot springs and glistening boulders by the river. He sneered as that wretched odor hit his keen snoot. The red dot from his pistol’s laser

sight drifted down the garden path, hoping to find a human presence. He found Meryl’s broken radio on the ground near a massive Elm.

As he aimed higher up the tree, he realized that Meryl must be up there on a high branch-because there was now a similar red dot pointing

his way from above. He let out a doggy woof to let her know it was him.


The red dot went away as she put the safety on her shotgun. 

“I thought you were going on a big fishing this weekend!” Meryl called out.

“Yeah- me too!”

Officer Meryl Murrey gracefully shimmied down the tree. She was a cheery, athletic, brown-haired catgirl, with a jovial cockney accent. She typically wore a red blouse, black jeans, that matched her sporty red touring Italian motorcycle (with a sidecar), which was her biggest pride and joy. Unfortunately, she was not at her cheeriest at the moment, as her knitted brow and twitchy tail indicated.

“That branch you were on must be twenty feet high- maybe you should consider the Olympics.” Dach quipped.

“Yeah- at least that’d be far away from ‘ere. Wot the bloody ‘ell was that? It dinna sound remotely human to me or like any animal of these parts. “

“It sounded more like an unearthly squawk to me.”

“...and that stench! Eww!” Dach moaned. “like rotten eggs...It seems much stronger...right by the river bank.”

“I’m glad I don’t have your doggy nose right about now!” Meryl noted

“Indeed I’m convinced that whatever is going on, it is of a paranormal disposition”.

“You don’t haft to tell me twice! Well, if it is not human or animal...”

“Well, It isn’t any animal that we know about. I am not ruling out the possibility of some sort of cryptozoological species.”

“Like the Moon Ape?”

“I’d only consider it to possibly be a primate if it was being electrocuted or going into labor with THAT noise! I’m more of the mind that it could be of a spectral origin,” Dach mused.

“I thought the local faeries had an ancient accord with all undead Spirits agreeing the forest is a no-haunt zone.” Meryl added.

“That covenant has been broken before, but the fae have taken great steps to ward against that occurrence. Brrr! I don’t even want to think of going through THAT ordeal again!”, he said, referring to a previous incident involving a cursed gem.

Meryl gathered her broken radio. They searched a while longer, but both were quite anxious to leave the area. Dach turned on his camcorder in hopes of recording the dreaded noise for analysis back in his laboratory, but he was also kind of hoping NOT to hear it again. After another hour, they figured that the screaming had ceased for the night. They were very wrong.

This time it was right behind them.

Dach leaped on top of Meryl’s shoulders then up to a nearby Cherry tree as she spun around, leveling the shotgun toward the unseen source. The ghastly odor was stronger than before, quite overpowering and intolerable more than the weenerdog could stand- in fact he was going to hurl up his supper if this persisted. Meryl was not as severely affected by the aroma, as she lacked the dog’s acute sense of smell. She was quite certain that there was no human presence here- but the search was definitely going to continue later during full daylight.

“Aahh... I say we head back to the Inn” Murrey nervously suggested, catching her breath. “Dach---?”

She spun back around to locate her comrade. As she gazed up the nearby Cherry tree, she a gasp barely escaped her lips as a stream of viscous slime splattered her squarely in the face.

“Aghh! I’ve been ghost-slimed!” She wiped off a handful of the goop off her face and looked up to see a queasy, limp weener dog draped across the tree branch above her. “Is this stuff ectoplasmic evidence? What should we...” Then it dawned on her- upon seeing the apologetic, sickly look on Dach’s face- that this substance did not come from a ghost, but from a nauseated dachshund’s stomach. Meryl’s eyes began to water, her jaw quivered her tail limp with dispair... she was having a very unpleasant evening.

“Ugh...sorry...” Dach said with a sheepish grin, feeling much better now. “Well what do you know... looks like my barf is worse than my b—“ he started- then Meryl hurled a handful back at him and stomped to the Inn.

Chapter Three: Ghostage Due

Later, soaking in the indoor hot baths, Dach, Meryl, and a number of other guests calmed down after their frightful encounter. Some of the guests did not wish to stay the night, so Nemui arranged auxiliary lodging in town for them and summoned the Raptor Transit to take them there. Sha’nami served Chef Bullpup’s fine cuisine to the rattled guest and Kyralindalani helped those who wished to leave with their luggage. Not everyone wanted to vacate- two teenage catgirl sisters, Rica and Niko, wanted to help the investigators, so they retrieved some of Dach & Meryl’s equipment from their vehicles and brought it to bath side.

“I am quite convinced that this is a haunting we are dealing with possibly an Greater Mid-Atlantic Maritime Banshee or a Type 3 Poltergeist.” Dach decided.

“Well, I’m not rulin’ out the possibility of it bein’ an elaborate prank or hoax. I think once we analyze the evidence we can determine if it was

electronically produced” Meryl noted.

“So you don’t concur that it is supernatural, then?” Dach quizzed with cocked ear flaps.

“Well mate, let’s just say I’d RATHER it be something I can deal with!” She insisted.

“You mean something that can be stopped with a twelve gauge slug!” He surmised.

“That’s EXACTLY what I mean!” Meryl retorted.

“I think it’s a ghost!” said Rica.

“I think it’s a hoax!” said Niko .

“Oh? And why pray tell, why would someone deign to perpetrate such a hoax?” Niko insisted.

“Umm... maybe they’re after the hidden gold mine! Are there any gold mines around here?” Rica asked.

“Literally, no...” Dach responded, “But in the figurative sense, this is indeed valuable real estate.”

“What makes you sure it isn’t a ghost, sis?” asked Rica.

“These professional detectives can’t even agree on what it is.” Niko replied.

“True, but we are in the process of eliminating what it isn't, said Dach.

A tired Nemui brought them a tray of drinks, then slinked into the hot water, having seen to the safety of the guests. “Whew! Ohhh that feels sooo good!” Kyralindalani and Sha’nami are patrolling the halls. Have you made any progress?”

Dach glanced at his laptop computer that sat on a stack of dry towels by the bath. Meryl leafed through faxed documents from the Police Department, and used Dach’s radio to report in.

Meryl finished reading her official Police papers. “ No missing persons reported, no unsolved homicides in the region, no criminal activity that would seem t have any connection Nemui-san, has anyone recently tried to buy your Inn, build anything nearby?”

“No, none that I am aware of- and I would certainly know that!”

“So you ‘ave no reason to assume any confidence tricksters are plotting against ye?”

“Heavens no!” Nemui responded most definitely. “No one has ever tried to buy The Kitt Inn, nor have we received any solicitors recently.”

“Maybe there’s an ancient tribal burial ground under the inn!” Rica chimed.

“I think we can rule that out, “ Nemui answered. “The Inn has been here over a century, built with the blessings of the Priestesses from the Shrine.”

“-and there’s no archaeological record of any older tribes using this particular spot for anything other than hunting, gathering, and fishing”, Dach added.

“Well if it IS a ghost, maybe the Priestesses can exorcise it!” Niko suggested.

“They could, but not for several more days- until the weekend High Holy Matsuri is concluded at the shrine. This situation could get a lot uglier between now and then.” Dach warned. “I don’t think I can stand much more of that noise or smell!”

“A number of my guests are here just for that festival” Nemui sighed.

“- and I don’t think I can stand the contents of Dach’s stomach any more!” Meryl grinned. “You need to lay off those Old Fashions and Steak Tartar!”

“Hmmph!” Dach grunted.

“ I thought the Faeries did not allow ghosts in their forest!” Rica said.

“Well, accidents happen- like that Cursed Gem incident last year,” Niko countered.

“How true the Ghostly- Fae Accords are quite ancient and binding, and it would have to be something very rare and extremely powerful even by paranormal standards to violate that arrangement” Dach revealed.

Chapter Four: Spectre of the Bun

Saturday morning there was much to be done. Nemui told the remaining guests that it the disturbances were likely to continue and might worsen, and therefore she’d arrange to put them up in other beach houses, bed & breakfasts, bungalows, etc. if they so desired. She also read over the inn’s insurance policy, making sure that it covered ‘Acts of Supernatural Disaster’! Some of the guests actually wanted to stay, excited by the notion of experiencing a real haunting! Rica & Niko were amongst the few who wished to stay, helping Kyralindalani deal with the hasty exodus of many lodgers. 

Continuing to investigate the grounds by daylight, Meryl Murrey also contacted her counterpart in the Merfolk Tribe, asking if they could spare anyone to search the river for any clues. Most of the Merfolk and the rest of the small Police Department were busy with the various festivals and celebrations going on in the town, beach and harbor. Dach went back to his headquarters to fetch more equipment (Including a new radio for Meryl), and dropped by the Faermail Office to discuss the situation with the faer. All this before 9am!

Over his many years of global adventuring, Dach had accumulated an impressive array of gadgets, currencies, languages, relics and equipment. Whether it was a mission into the jungle, a descent into the ocean depths, expedition to arctic icepack, or a job in the most modern urban metropolis, he was quite prepared. For this particular investigation, he filled his car full of the latest in paranormal detection devices. He left most of his excavation tools at home, for Nemui’s garden shed stocked plenty of gardening implements, should there be need for any digging into the earth. He hoped that the Miko Maidens at the shrine  might provide an assortment of Spirit Wards, but they were busy with events for now.

At 10:30 am, Lourdessaluorno the Mermaid and her Manatee named Avanaru-ru swam up to the bank upon seeing Dach’s automobile return to the Inn. “Dessy” as her friends called her, was a young mermaid of the Fishtail Tribe, with a pretty orange & gold shimmering tail and long copper hair. She and the manatee pup were both lifeguards (“Ru-Ru” was a specially trained Search & Rescue Manatee). Dessy- like most merfolk- was more at home in the sea than in the fresh-watered river, and because of that- or perhaps something... unnatural... she and Ru-Ru were a bit tense here. Nevertheless, they were ideal assets when it came to underwater exploration.

She alerted Meryl that Dach had returned- and that he brought a faerie with him. Although Merfolk and Fae are both Indigenous to Catgirl Island and both races do co-exist quite harmoniously, they seldom interact, as the Merfolk never venture further inland than the beach, and the fae tend to dwell mostly within in the secluded, interior reaches of the island when not delivering the town’s mail. Rica and Niko took off their sandals and waded into the shallows to feed ‘Ru-Ru’ the nice leafy head of cabbage, courtesy of Sha’nami. Meryl ceased her garden patrol to go meet Dach and the faerie.

The expression on her face revealed that she immediately sensed something awry at this rotemburo. Mielikki’s iridescent Dragonfly-like wings unfurled to full display as she stepped out of Dach’s rover. Aside from the wings, deely-bopper antennae, and a faint glowing aura about her, the faerie was otherwise fae-rly human in appearance. She wore a backless sundress and a cute straw hat; her apparent age was 25 but she was closer to 500. Nemui and Meryl arrived to greet Mielikki, whom they both already knew, for she was the usual postal courier for this route.

“Konitiwa, Mielikki-sensei!” Nemui respectfully said with a respectful bow.

“Glad you could make it, Mielikki!” greeted Meryl, extending a friendly handshake.

“Mellow greetings everyone oooh, I’m getting some rilly bad vibes just here in the parking lot!” Mielikki expressed with dismay.

“Just you wait ‘til you get ‘round back!” Meryl warned.

“Anything turn up in the river?” Dach asked, as he tossed Meryl and Nemui each a gas mask, to cope with the dreadful stench should it

waft their way again. 

“Nothing unusual,” Meryl noted. "Say, maybe the girls could lend a hand unloading this equipment... what are they up to?” Dach inquired.

“They’re down by the river, feeding that manatee,” Nemui observed.

“Hmm food sounds like an excellent idea! Are you still serving brunch, or did the Chef get scared away?” Dach wondered, patting his grumbly tummy, which needed re-filling since last night.

“It’ll take more than a ghost to stop me from serving dinner here!” Nemui scoffed. “Would you care for something, sensei?”

“Yes please! Oh I would love one of those nice nummy buns with some Royal Bee Jam! Fer surre!” The gleeful faerie smiled, her wings flittering with delightful anticipation.

“I think that can be arranged!” Nemui smiled as she lead them indoors, to the grand dining hall of the inn.

The grand dining hall was a most stately area of the inn, seeming all the larger with fewer people here. Hewn timbered beams of Mahogany spanned the ceiling, aligned high above a large stone fireplace. The other walls were paper shoji partitions, with one whole end of the room opened to reveal a garden view. Two of the guests, golfers Ralph and Stan had finished their meal and were heading out. Ralph almost walked into a column, more focused on the pretty Faerie that had just sat down to lunch. 

“Dude- watch where you’re going!” Stan warned.

“Man- she’s cute!” Ralph whispered to Stan.

“Hee!” giggled Mielikki, as the empathic faerie’s deely boppers twitched, wings happily pert as she detected nearby admiration.

Nemui seated them, then went to get the appetizers as Sha’nami poured drinks. She hadn’t been gone a minute when they heard her scream.

Dach, Meryl, and Mielikki dashed into the Kitchen. Sha’nami, Rica and Niko arrived a moment later. Nemui, Bullpup, and Kyralindalani were standing in the Kitchen, looking quite perplexed and bothered.

“What’s wrong?” Dach inquired.

“Is anyone hurt?” Meryl asked.

“We heard a scream!” Kit and Rica spoke.

“There’s been a disturbance in the space time continuum -localized to this very room!” Mielikki realized. Nemui could barely contain her

rage and dismay, her clenched fists trembling and tail rigid with electricity.

“We’ve been robbed again” She stammered. It had only been a few months since a thief tried to steal all of the inn’s Royale Bee Jam- that had thankfully been recovered by Meryl.

“But it was all here just moments ago!” Chef Bullpup exclaimed.

“What’s missing?” Kyralindalani asked.

“Every crumb of bread is gone!” Nemui lamented.

“The sushi and sashimi bar have been cleaned out, too!” Sha’nami noticed.

“Spirited away just like tat” Dach mused as he searched for clues, finding the dread ectoplasmic smell nearby.

“No more nummy buns...?” Mielikki pouted.


Chapter Five: Chance of a Ghost

It was time to get very busy. Like a General marshalling his troops, Dach decisively barked out instructions to the group on how to proceed with the investigation. Nemui stayed mostly indoors tending to her usual chores, whilst Dach, the catgirls, the mermaid and the faerie searched outside for clues. Shanny and Kyra cleaned up the ecto-mess according to Dach’s directions. 

Meryl's tail swayed back and forth intently as she perched in a central observation post in the inn’s attic windows, to keep track of everyone and an eye out for any further incidents, especially since the radio contact was becoming more and more difficult from the spectral interference. Ghost hunting was not her forte, but Meryl definitely knew how to stake out a proper surveillance. The challenge here was for her stay focused during an indefinitely long tedious period. 

This wasn’t so much a covert waiting game for a criminal that she was spying on to make a wrong move, but playing ‘guardian angel’ to those who were spread out amongst the gardens and forest. She had a comfy chair, binoculars, a radio, a timetable for everyone to report in at regular intervals, and mattresses strewn about the room in case any ghost decided to play rough. She just hoped that she didn’t get defenestrated out the high window, particularly since she was probably the most skilled EMT of the group.

Bullpup and Sha’nami later went into town to buy more food, to replace that which had been pilfered. This left only Nemui and Kyralindalani to tend to the remaining guests Some of that food would only be found on the mainland, which meant no soon return. For now, Nemui was more worried about them getting back in time to prepare the usual high standard suppers the inn was known for. 

The ghost may have cleaned the pantry... but at least it did not touch the bar’s fine liquors! That was good - because she knew that Dach was a weener dog of few but particular vices: he liked his drinks smooth, and liked his steaks as rare as a Duke Fan in Chapel Hill. As he took a brief break from the action to slake his thirst, Kyra and Shanny also took a respite from their duties, joining him at the bar.

“Dachter, Kyra and I were curious about some ghost things...” Shanny approached.

“What did you want to know?” Dach offered.

“Well.. just a couple of things- such as... how can a ghost eat solid food?” Kyra asked.

“Ah, some ghosts can adjust their degree of density- becoming desolid to walk through walls and such, or nearly- solid to manipulate objects and make noise. Some species of ghosts have more control over their molecular structure than others.”

Before he knew it, it was time for Meryl’s scheduled check-in. Those with radios reported in, happy to say that all was well, and visually accounted for those who were presently without radios, such as Dessy and Mielikki... who were ironically the only ones to find any relevant clues that afternoon...

Dessy and Ru-Ru glided above the bottom of the crystal- watered river, scanning the depths for sunken evidence or anything unusual. The unpleasant flavor of the water seemed strongest upstream, nearest waterfalls. Ru-Ru had a water testing kit, which revealed no pollutants or unsafe PH levels, yet there was something distressing in these waters... much moreso in the vicinity of the waterfall... although it was not something definable by her keen echo-lactive or electromagnetic senses, 

Eventually she needed to retreat downstream, where they felt more at ease. As she took a break from the active search, she noticed something.. or rather the lack of something. She heard no frogs croaking- unusual because this was a favorite spot for amphibians. There were fish further downstream- but they too seemed to shy away from this area. Even the insects seemed less prevelant.

“This is most peculiar, “ she spoke to Ru-Ru. “There are no signs of dead creatures, there is no hunting or poaching going on in these parts, and ‘tis not the season for them to migrate away... “ 

Ru-Ru chan swam up to for a tummy rub, gnawing on some river grass. Dessy patted her pet, which was certainly not getting ill from munching the local flora. She did observe that certain woodland and garden creatures- squirrels, mice, rabbits, butterflies, song birds- were still about, in expected numbers, displaying their usual demeanor. The terrapins- were going about their usual activities, sunning themselves on the mossy green rocks and bright lavender lilly pads... but she did noticed that they seemed to be actually avoiding the water proper. In fact, most creatures of the river were either up out of the water or had traveled far away downstream.

“It is as if the smaller creatures of the watery food-chain have forsaken this place...” Ru-Ru was definitely enjoying the tasty morsels. “Or... maybe they’ve all been eaten?” She had seen no signs of alligators at this part of the island and ruled out any large aquatic super-predator. She wondered and wondered... and after a while, summoned her courage again to search the waterfalls more thoroughly.

Meanwhile in a hidden glade of the Akikiku Forest atop top Mt. Natsutsuji, Mielikki was all-aglow as she communed with the elder trees. These plants were among the oldest residents of the island, and had witnessed many things in their centuries of existence. Some of the more seasoned fae could even extend their probes to the sea oats of the beach and into the kelp and seaweed in the ocean itself, but Mielikki was only 500 and her search could only extend as far as the maritime forest itself. 

She also knew that trees had a very simple, limited language, so her search terms would need to be most shrewd and precise and their answers might be rather difficult to interpret. Her deely- boppers sparkled, her wings took on greener hues as sunlight streamed in through the misty glade’s lush canopy. She loved trees, and often thought it’d be wonderful to exist as such a statley, peaceful floral giant in this island paradise.

“Is there an undead entity roaming the forest?” Mielikki asked the old SpokesTree, a towering Royal Floridian Palm that was putting on weight in it’s twilight years.

Yes”, sang the tree.

“Where is it now?”

“Below “

“Below? Um, we’re like on a mountain top...In the earth? The lake?” 

“Below “

“Inside the mountain?” she continued.

Indeed”, the tree responded” 

“That’s exactly what I was afraid you’d say. Thank you, great one.” Mielikki fretted...

Back at the inn, the two catgirls argued incessantly over which was worse, a WereWolf or a WereGator. This followed the previous argument over whether a Lycanthrope was more dangerous than a Sasquatch, which followed on the heels of their Witch vs. Genie debate, which digressed from their argument about whether Leprechauns were bigger than Gnomes. 

Rica then realized that there was a constant, dull thumping noise. She and Niko turned to announce it to Dach- seeing that the noise was in fact from him banging his head in exasperation against the console of his computer. 

Nemui walked by and set a beverage fashioned on his work table, and suggested to the catgirl sisters that perhaps they’d have much more fun in town... and a shame for them to miss the Vernal Equinox Festival or the local Cherry Blossom Pageant, especially since Palthyna, the eldest of the island's Fae, was to give perform a special concert of story and song. They agreed, and eagerly scampered into town.

“Thanks- I needed that. I’m not sure who is safer now- them or the ghost!” Dach quipped.

“Spirit folk usually have a vulnerability to cold iron... much in the way Holy Water can hurt a vampire, according to myth. We’ve got some anti-ghost mines loaded with-“

“WHAT???” Nemui said with a tone of rage, her tail rigid at a 45 degree angle.

loaded with iron chaff foil flakes. Don’t worry- they can’t hurt people or animals. To a living creature, it’s no worse than getting hit with a party popper or burst pinata. I hope you don’t mind if we set them up...?”

“Wellll, okay, I’ll warn the guests, so they don’t accidentally set any off. So, do you think wards and mines are going to help?” she asked.

“Can’t hurt...” Dach shrugged, He had a wards placed already, but hoped the Miko girls could bring more by later.

Chapter Six: Eggstinct Species

When Nemui rang the Afternoon Tea Time bell, everyone convened by the river bank to compare notes. Sha’nami helped her with the tea service, then returned watch over the inn.

“Itadekimasu!” Mielikki cheered.

“So, what did we discover?” Meryl inquired.

“The trees were like, way helpful!” Mielikki chimed. “I found out a few things, but I wish some of the older [fae] weren’t so busy with the important ceremonies in town- they’d have been able to make more sense of it all!”

“Well, let’s each take turns, starting with Mielikki, then!” Dach suggested. “So what DID you learn?”

“So, like the old tree told me that there’s this totally ancient ghost that predates our Netherworld Treaty, and it’s maybe under the lake or inside the mountain, but it’s gonna come out again at twilight to chow down again after it wakes up! Talking to a tree is hard work...”

“That explains the bad vibes we got near the waterfalls, I guess...”Dessy suggested. “There’s something just not quite right about the water there- no toxic chemicals but... something unnatural! We couldn’t find any submerged evidence- maybe there’s something behind the waterfall- in the mountain side?”

“There are many grottos- and underwater volcanic vents that heat the springs in the area. Sigh... I just can’t figure why if it’s been here so long, why hasn’t this ghost been encontered ‘til now?” Dach noted.

“We know all about the caverns beneath the island, don’t we? Meryl grinned at Dach, referencing their in famous Cursed Idol incident 

“Yeah... “ Dach sighed, recalling his previous, unpleasant subterranean supernatural adventure. “If there are caves or tunnels behind the waterfall, my equipment will certainly detect them.”

“Oh- and given the sparse population of small fry around here, this creature apparently likes to eat bugs, little fish and frogs” Dessy continued. “The reptiles and amphibians are staying out of the water, too.”

“It would seem to also have an appetite for sushi!” Nemui added.

“... and the nummy bread, too!” Mielikki lamented, wishing she had a nice yummy biscuit to go with her tea.

“What about that horrible stench, Dach?” Meryl asked, as Dach pondered the ghost’s dietary habits.

“It seemed to be simple decayed ectoplasm."

“Goodness! What else did you find out?” Nemui asked.

“Apparenty that Genies are more powerful than Witches and that Saturn’s rings are an extraerrestrial highway,” Dach mused with sarcasm,

recalling Rica & Niko’s non-stop occultish banter.

“Well, DUH!” Mielikki exclaimed. Dach just stared at her for a moment.

“What about that awful noise, then?” Meryl wanted to know. “and how  does a ghost eat solid food, anyway?”

“Ghosts can sometimes partially physically manifest themselves. Whereas the ghost might not actually require food, maybe it just likes food... a remaining personality trait. As for the noise- glad you asked!” grinned the weener dog. “I ran that squawk recording through some acoustic filters, adjusting the signature for dimensional variance and ecto-conductivity.”

“Did you call it a ‘squawk?’ Sounded more like pigs inn a abattoir, it did!” The Officer insisted.

“Oh- it is most definitely a sort of... squawk. I’ll play the sound file.”

Everyone gathered around his new laptop to see the results- but cupped their hands over their ears in anticipation. Dach turned the volume way down, then played the original recording. After everyone grimaced, he then played the new filtered sound file, t did in fact sound like a rather loud, full-bodied, big honk.

“That does sound like ‘squawk’, doesn’t it?” agreed Nemui.

“It is rather avian, isn’t it?” Mielikki concured.

“Mm-hmm. Sounds just (ahem) DUCKY to this dog's ears...” Dach hinted.

“Yes it does sound like a duck quack!” Dessy exclaimed. “A really BIG duck!”

“Well, if it QUACKS like a duck, and EATS like a duck, then...” Dach started.

“You can’t be serious...!” Meryl moaned.

“Maybe the ectoplasm is actually more of an... ecto yolk”. Mielikki said, watching as Dach cross-referenced the ghostly sound with an archived bird song database. “Which is why it smells so rotten!” Dach looked at Mielikki oddly. Her antenna drooped as she sheepishly shrugged.

“So, about that duck’s loudness... what’s up with that?”

“Well, it could be that either the noise is amplified by the ectoplasm, which is highly acousticly conductive- and explains why many ghosts are so terrifying... but this level of sound is off the scale!” Dach offered. “I am pretty sure that this is a female of the species, based on the pitch.”

“Maybe this breed of duck just happened to have an unusually loud call.” Mielikki suggested

“ehhh, possibly but, it just does not make sense for any creature to be THAT loud.” Dach said, unconvinced that even a duck the size of an ostrich could quack so loudly.

“Of course- being that loud, I’m sure no female ducks would come near it- no wonder they went -“ Dach began-

“Don’t say it-“ Meryl tried to stop him but-

“-eggstinct.” Dach theorized aloud, with a doggy grin.

“He’s serious.” Nemui surmised.

“But how could a duck... become a ghost?” Dessy wondered.

“Good question. I must do some research to see if there is a precedent!” Dach determined. “But I daresay we’d better figure out something before dark. Ghosts tend to be much more powerful at night.”

“What do you think the ghost is doing now? We have not encountered it since lunch time!” Meryl asked.

“Perhaps the ghost is dormant. If my readings are correct, I don’t think it has strayed far from this particular haunt.” Dach theorized. “Some ghosts do actually retain habits from their previous mortal life. Perhaps this ghost does have a regular sleep and feeding cycle..” Dach added, as he began to study the creature’s unusual magical properties... which were unusual even by ghostly standards.

“It’s always good to be able to predict a culprit’s next move! But, what ‘appens when the Monster Duck’s goes lookin’ for food, and finds the cupboards are all bare?” the Officer wondered.

“The Chef has not returned yet with supper!” Nemui fretted.

“I wonder what it’ll do when it has run out of food in this vicinity?” the mermaid asked.

“I just hope those wards keep that thing out of my inn tonight!” the innkeeper said.

4:30 pm...

Between her detective skills and Dach’s fancy equipment, Meryl found an ectoplasmic residue, which trailed from the Kitchen and through the garden, disappearing at the riverbank. She gave Dessy a quick instruction on how to use the device and a radio headset (which were well insulated and quite waterproof down to a depth of 500 meters) in hopes of determining if the trail continued in the water. Nemui served drinks to her hungry guests, as she barely managed to cellphone Chef Bullpup, who reported that he and the waitress were delayed in festival traffic, but would be there very soon with the meals. Dach logged into the internet to research any cases of undead fowl. Ru-Ru chan got fidgity as the afternoon waned.

Dessy and Ru-Ru swam off with the device, Mort returned, and strolled over to see how Dach was doing.

“Find anything?”

“There are thousands of myths, legends, and reported sightings of Ornithological Paranormality ... but none on ghostly ducks,” Dach sadly reported. “I think referencing the supernatural angle is a.. wild goose chase. Heh!” 

“Right now I’m cross-referencing with databases on extinct birds. I think I have isolated the species... funny thing is it was an average size duck- and no way it had the lung capacity to transmit such sonic intensity. Given all the duck craniums I have catalogued, I’m also ruling out any chance that it had echo-location ability- such as a dolphin’s sonar.”

Dessy found evidence of the infernal bird’s egress- the trail originated directly behind the falls. There were indeed openings in the rock wall behind the cascading waters... leading inside the mountain, and possibly the key to the mystery of the ghost duck. Ru-Ru chan was growing ever more agitated, therefore Meryl suggested Dessy take him for a swim downstream for a while. She still had her radio, and could return if summoned. 

Inside the inn, Mielikki was attempting to boost the morale of the remaining lodgers; the fae are excellent storytellers, able to conjur up emotions and drama so vivid that the listeners almost feel as if they are actually experiencing the events themselves. They applauded Mielikki’s faerie Tales, but heartbreak ensued afterwards when Nemui told them the bad news: that the bar had finally run out of spirits- and the worse news: that there would soon be a less desirable spirit on its way...


Chapter Seven: Beak the the Future

“Mielikki- could you assist me with something?” She joined him at his computer. Dach asked her to translate some ancient Fae Lore that he discovered on-line. Her antennae stood on end upon seeing the images on the screen.

“My Old Fae is a little rusty- I cannot make out a lot of this dialect.. “ He frowned.

“Oh my goddess!” Mielikki gasped in amazement. “Those are secret sacred scrolls you’ve found! Why, I’ve never even seen those! How ever did you manage that?” Her antanna began to twitch, translucent wings beating with a slight nervous flutter.

“Ahhh...let’s just say that I have a keen nose for, um, rare antiquities.” 

Dach preferred not to reveal how he gained access into this particular information. Sneaking into places that could get him shot at - from skyscrapers to subterranean tombs- was the bread and butter of his career. 

Mielikki spoke the text in a whisper, a hesitant tremor in her faint voice, as she read:

It tells of the fae, chosen protectors of the flora and fauna of the island... and an attempt to save a pathetic creature whose pain seemed beyond their healing power. They cast a sleep enchantment upon the poor soul, placed in a magickal chrysalis in a hot spring protected from the elements or intruders in a pocket dimension. This sanctorum was accessible by the concealed subterranean portal” Her antennae dimmed and drooped sadly as she continued.”It continued in tranquil slumber, in suspended animation until a future day when the fae could find a cure for the rare malady. The centuries passed... but the enchantment withered like an untended garden, and eventually the barriers decayed enough for some of the magick to sadly seep out.”

“Um, Mielikki- Why don’t you hold off on any more - I can see how emotional this is for you. But, please, just one more thing—there’s this one word here that seems to recur a few times... this one right here?”

“Um. the word is WIR’DNYRA... it .. is the proper name of a faerie that... had closest bond with the duck.” 

Moosiwake arimasen. Perhaps I should go, a-and can contact elder sisters, who might be more adept at the translation.” Mielikki wiped her tears and walked away. Dach knew that the fae take the lives and deaths of the forest creatures very personally.

“Well I’ll be! So this ghost was actually born, or rather hatched... and within the last day or so!” Dach noted, his doggy tail going thip thip thip thip -

“The incubation chamber she spoke of is behind the waterfall, inside Mt. Natsutsuji .” Dach deduced. “Well, that's not good, 'cause  it’s essentially a sentient newborn entity, just old enough to walk and talk and eat and manifest itself to a limited extent, right? Just wait ‘til it becomes a two year old, and starts throwing supernatural tantrums! That duck will pitch fits, with no parents around to curb its hunger or rage- and left out of control, it could easily evolve into a Class Four- maybe even a Class Five...“

“Psst- say Dach-?” Meryl whispered, after the faerie walked away. “What was all that about? I thought you knew every faerie artifact like the back of your hand! I’ve never seen you so bewildered like that’!”

“Yeah- I know. I can understand almost all ancient fae documents. But there are a couple of off darn things about this first- it looks as i it is written in some sort of code...I and got the impression that she was almost... afraid of what she read. Maybe there was something that she feared to tell us.. some horrible prophecies perhaps. I did notice some past/ future tense shifts in the grammatical structure of the document. But the kicker is... I’ve never even heard of these particular scrolls before, and I’ve had my paws on almost every sacred fae artifact with the elders’ highest blessings. And look at this- these numerals here would seem to correspond to dates but - (sniff sniff) - I smell food!” Dach exclaimed, noticing that the Chef ‘s truck had returned.

“Hooray!” cheered Kyralindalani the Maid as stopped lighting the inn’s many lanterns to help unload the truck.

“More nummy buns!” beamed Mielikki, her wings cheerfully a-flutter, golden-hued in the setting sunlight.

“I hope those few wards will keep that duck from attacking our meal!” Nemui said as she lent a hand.

“Me too...anyway, as I was saying earlier- I know everyone is very understandably tense, but we need to make sure that we do not do anything, or create a hostile environment that would frighten the ghost. Oh- I’d better let Dessy know that it is suppertime!” Dach notified Dessy by radio that the food was here. 

“Yum yum! We’re on our way. So what is the main course tonight?” the mermaid inquired, as Dach strolled back to the vehicle to carry in another load.

“We’re having GAAHHHH!!!” Dach grimaced in unfettered horror, feeling as if he was going to have a heart attack when he saw IT. Meryl prayed the Saints to preserve her. Nemui went slack-jawed and dropped a platter upon seeing... Chef Bullpup present the night’s entree:

It was Peking Duck, service for twenty-five. If the ghost got wind of this, it would surely be quite livid. 

Then they all realized that the ghost was back. The smell wafted by, indicating that it was close- at the edge of the garden. It had returned to it’s favorite feeding ground, perhaps a place it might have come to regard with great content and happiness- until it saw the huge platters of mallard meat. It shuddered at the sight of all those carved breasts and drumsticks covered in glaze. Fear gave into hissing rage, spectral feathers ruffling as it sensed rival magic emanating from the inn. Mielikki gasped as it stared at them, it’s magical battle aura a-flame.

“Ahhh...We’re dead,” Dach mused, as the sun descended below the horizon.


"Night of Dach Shadows" a Tale of CatgirlIsland by Mike Moon

Part Two

originally published in 2002, revised edition 2007*


Chapter Eight: Duck and Covered Dish

The Duck charged at them, but it bounced off of Dach's ward barrier. It shook its head to regain composure, and made another run- again, unable to penetrate the barrier that shielded the Inn and all within.
“Whew! The barrier’s holding” Merylsighed.
“Let’s hope all the wards are intact- look- it’s circling the inn, probing for a weakness!” Bullpup exclaimed, before running to hide under
his bed.

“It’s a good thing Nemui and Kyralindalani have so many stone lanterns lit- in case the ghost disrupts the area’s electricity.

Nemui walked the halls of her inn, like a sea captain sailing her armada into a naval battle. She advised Kyralindalani and Sha’nami to break out all the medicinal supplies and set up an aid station in the Lounge area. She asked all lodgers who were not scared senseless to look after those who were, and for everyone to gather up as many pillows & cushions to hide behind, in case the ghost sent debris flying.

Again, the creature charged the inn, to no avail, and it let out another blood-curdling squawk of rage. A horrid stench of magic gone bad filled the air. Dach hoped that his scanner devices were recording all of this... just as the Duck stomped up and down on the field table full of equipment.
“Son of an egg’s gonna pay for that!” Dach cursed.

“Leave ‘im to me!” Meryl yelled, as she went up to her attic perch where her Anti-Ghost Mines Detonator was.

“W-what are you going to do?” Mielikki called out, following Meryl.

“What you think I’m gonna do? I’m gonna give that bloke what for with those mines when he comes around again!”
“What--?” Mielikki nervously asked.

“ I’ve got Anti-Ghost Mines along the garden trail and in the trees!"

“No- You can’t!!!” Mielikki pleaded.

"Huh?" Meryl could not believe that Mielikki was against such a counter-attack. While Meryl and Mielikki were arguing upstairs, Dach t
flinched as he heard a loud crash coming from the parking lot.

“Oh no-“ Dach winced, as they heard the sounds of several car alarms. “Darn it- he found a hole in the parking lot’s barrier!"

“Dognabbit, he got my car!” Dach muttered, recognizing his own car alarm.

“Well, if we survive you can file an insurance claim- Stan quipped, flinching again from another crash.

“My bicycle!!” Kyralindalani cried as she saw the mangled frame of her mountain bike fly by.

“Oh no- my new car!” Ralph cried as his car was flung many yards. His buddy Stan just shook his head at the totaled car. Amidst the din of the destruction,  fraidy catgirl screams coming from that direction.
“Oh my God- that sounded like Rica and Niko!” Dach exclaimed as his ears settled down. Sure enough, they spotted the two catgirls
hiding in a magnolia tree, clinging for dear life. Rica and Niko screamed as they saw the raging duck, glowing with powerful fowl magic
stalking their way.

“And you said this would be more exciting than goldfish catching!” Rica complained to her sister.

“Waaaah!” cried Niko.

An agitated Meryl and Mielikki stopped their tug of war over the detonator upon hearing the catgirls’ cries.

“Oh no!” Meryl and Mielikki said in unison. Mielikki flew out the window towards them. Meryl leaped to the ground and rolled into a sprint, yelling into her radio headset of the situation. Dach responded, warning that the duck was now in pursuit.
“Darn it- Why didn’t she detonate the mines yet?” Dach thought.

“M’ Lady- wha is happening outside?” Kyralindalani fearfully asked Nemui, hearing the screams.

“My guests are in peril- and I must do something. Kyralindalani, please bring my sword!”

“Hai!” The maid bowed and ran to fetch the treasured heirloom weapon.

Dach was able to glance at some of his strewn equipment, a few pieces which miraculously still functioned. About to get sick from the odors. he grabbed the gas masks from the pile of debris and ran as the duck gave chase. Meanwhile, Meryl and Mielikki reached Rica and Niko, safe for a moment as the duck was after other prey.
“Are you hurt?” Meryl asked. The girls were frightened, but unharmed.

“We need to get you back to the inn” Mielikki said.

“If that duck so much as scratched my motorcycle, I’ll have ‘im on a roasting spit!” Meryl fumed, as she helped the girls down from the tree, quite displeased.

“Hey- can we help?” came Dessy’s voice over the radio, as she returned to the nearby riverbank.

“Yes- we need you to evacuate Rica and Niko!” Meryl snorted, realizing they were closer to the river than the inn. She and Mielikki carried the girls to Dessy and Ru. Dach concutred that this was the best strategy. The Officer and the faerie watched in hiding as the catgirl sisters clung to the mermaid and manatee, who quickly swam them downstream, far from the inn and towards the marina. She parked them at a lifeguard station, where there was hot cocoa and warm blankets waiting for hapless catgirls such as they.
“What are they going to do?” Rica asked.

“That ghost duck is super strong!” Niko added.

“I know, Look, I am sure they’ll figure something out,” Dessy tried to calm them.
Then she realized that her radio was not receiving any signals from the others.

“Wow- it’s almost like the creature has created a radio dead-zone in it’s haunting grounds! I hope Dach knows what he’s doing- but I wish they’d summon more faeries to help...”

“Well, why hasn’t he or Officer Meryl done that, if the fae can help?” Rica asked.

“Maybe he knows he can handle the situation withou dragging them away from the festival they’ve been practicing for all season.” Niko added. "Palathyna's concert is a main event that so many people are already camped out for!"

“Or maybe that old dog is just being too stubborn and proud!“ Dessy fumed. “ I swear- sometimes he thinks that he and the Officer are invincible super cops! Sigh... But that does not alter the fact that they all risked their own safety to save your lives!”

“We’re sorry!” Rica and Niko cried in unison.

“Well, never mind that now. Just you two stay out of trouble, and enjoy the concert!” warned the mermaid lifeguard, before she and Ru-Ru swam back upstream. The catgirl sisters ears drooped and their tails sorrowfully wagged as they felt bad for getting into trouble, wishing they could have helped.
Meanwhile- back at the rotemburo, concealed behind bushes, Meryl & Mieli watched as the duck stood between Dach and the inn.

“The duck is catching up with them- I say we return the favor- and run out there to distract the duck so they can get indoors!” Meryl decreed.

“Agreed-“ Mielikki said, about to take flight.

“Hey- why didn’t you want me to strike back at the duck earlier?” Meryl quizzed.

“It- it’s not her fault!” The fae stammered, going airborne. “I’m sorry.. this is so difficult to explain.”

“Not 'her' fault. You keep saying that! Well that doesn’t m” Meryl responded, confused, but then dashed towards the inn just in time, for the ghost duck was closing in on the tiring dog, and it’s battle aura was only intensified.
“That things power curve cannot be for real- its aura almost looks as if it’s been absorbing Fae energy!” Dach theorized. “No wonder the Fae did not detect it before now-! Maybe it masked it’s own undead magical signature with the fae power it somehow acquired!” Dach guessed, as the duck drew too close.

An exhausted, battered, nauseated Dach emptied his pistol into the beast at point blank range, the special .45 shot-shells stunning it for a moment. The others watched as Mielikki flew toward the duck for a parlay.

“Please sister, you must desist! These people mean you no harm!” She pleaded. The duck flapped its wings and levitated at her eye level, it’s aura seeming to diminish.

“By Jove, I think she’s reaching him!” Meryl noted.

Inside the inn, Kyralindalani stood beside the Katanna weilding Nemui with a Naginata, a long bladed pole weapon. Shanami and the lodgers were doling out golf irons, as hopeful weapons, but stopped in wonder as they witnessed the aerial meeting going on outside.

For a moment, it seemed as if the faerie was indeed going to calm the beast. For a moment. Perhaps it just didn’t understand. Perhaps it was beyond reason, consumed by anger. Perhaps the chef should have put those duck dinners in an airtight container and not left them on the garden path, their delicious aroma wafting in the breeze. For whatever reason, the duck reared back its head and unleashed a blast of faerie fire at Mielikki, knocking her out of the sky and bowling over her comrades.
“Dude- the cute Fairy girl’s introuble!” Stan said to snap Ralph out of his demolish sedan mourning.
“No way! Let’s get ‘im!” Ralph said, intent on being her knight in shining golf shoes.

The duck quacked evilly, but was surprised as Nemui, Kyralindalani, Sha’nami, Ralph and Stan all stormed out of the inn to join the battle. It did not like the taste of this metal, and they were actually able to drive it back, at least long enough for Meryl to pick up Mielikki and dart inside. to place the limp faerie on a couch.

Bullpup gulped down his fear, as he charged out with Dach’s fire extinguisher- the one filled with Holy Foam. The ghost duck drank the foam like it was a milk shake, sending the lodgers screaming back indoors. Everyone watched from inside the mystically shielded inn as the Duck summoned more power, drawing upon the earth’s magnetosphere.. Glowing embers of elemental particles twirled above its head in defiance of gravity. The creature unleashed a Force Five Faerie Fire upon the shielded inn...

Dach was astounded not only that it possessed such power- but that the creature was smart enough to use it. He ruled out the notion that the creature merely siphoned off the energy, and concluded that it was actually highly adept in combat with power supposedly only wielded by the eldest of the Fae. The intense blast hit with a thunderclap. The wards burned away, unable to withstand such an attack.

The barrier collapsed, thus leaving the inn unshielded. The Duck sensed this vulnerability and approached. After placing the barely conscious faerie on a couch, Meryl racked one into her shotgun. Nemui, Shan’ami and Kyralindalani also stood their ground. Dach flipped open the safety catch on the detonator.

“Hasta la vista, ducky!” Dach snarled.The mines went off, showering the duck with a cloud of cold iron chaff that erupted from the ground.

Not only did this seem to agonize the, but the effect disrupted its electro-magical field, temporarily nullifying its ability to attack. It staggered, trying unsuccessfully to generate another blast. It was almost a beautiful sight- the ethereal bird majestically shrouded in a flickering magenta glow like a fiery phoenix, as the foil flakes showered upon it like a blizzard of metallic cherry blossoms. As the creature struggled to its feet, Dach hit him with the treetop mines. The blast diminished its radiant aura and hurled the duck clear to the riverbank.

Dessy and Ru-Ru watched discreetly behind large river rocks as the wounded duck limped down the bank. Ru-Ru whimpered, Dessy was wide-eyed in almost-sadness as they watched it slink pitifully into the water, softly quacking in pain as it swam toward the waterfall.

Nemui, Sha’nami and Kyralindalani watched the shimmering sky in wonder, for the gardens were filled with sparkling confetti, set against the distant fireworks coming from town. Dach wished that it hadn’t come to this, as the duck managed to disappear into the misty veil of falling water.

Chapter Nine: Quacking in Their Boots

Then came that surreal moment, in which everyone was unsure if it was over. A minute later most of them realized that the threat had in fact subsided for the time being. A few of the inn guests were shaken like a good martini, desiring nothing short of a ticket off the island, but most were coherent enough to help pick up the pieces after the fight. Folks were tired, scared and... getting on each other’s nerves.

“Whew I am getting too old for this.” Dach moaned, suddenly aware of his various bumps and bruises. “Ahh ...but we need to keep busy though.” He wished he’d gone fishing.

“I’ll look over the damages in the parking lot and make out the police reports,” Meryl declared, as she went inside to round up anyone who would need to file a claim with their automotive insurer.

“I'd better see what equipment still works.” Dach decided, as he began to gather up the strewn technology. Fortunately much of it was specially designed for rough field use and some of it with hardened circuitry designed to withstand ecto-magnetic pulses. Unfortunately, some of it was not.

The remaining lodgers who had braved the haunting had pretty much reached their breaking point. Nemui apologized profusely, offering full refunds to them and arranging to transport them to safer quarters after they ate supper.

As the meals cooked in an ancient wood stove, some of the guests assisted Nemui and Kyralindalani in illuminating the inn with candles and the outdoor lanterns, for they were quite without electrical power, and many of the lamplights had been extinguished by the ghost’s fury. It had created a dead-zone for several acres, which inhibited use of radios, telephones, and other devices. At least that meant that the car alarms were quiet. Dessy and Ruru kept a discreet vigil on the river, hoping not to see the ghost return or any boaters venturing this far upstream.

Mielikki awoke, her magical glow rather dim and of sad hues. As she helped with the candle lighting, she sensed disdainful eyes upon her.

“The visitors only tolerate faerie magic when it suits them it is to their delight if they are being entertained- but like now they fear what I represent. Even Meryl Murrey does not trust me oh, I cannot blame her though”

Chef Bullpup noticed the sad faerie.  He might not be the brave field dog that Dach was- but he was a master of cuisine and gourmand without peer, and he had a knack for sizing up any person to determine what sort of food or drink might suit their pallet most. Bullpup offered the sad faerie a nummy bun to cheer her up. she took a bite of the delicious food, and decided to stop sulking, to do something constructive.

“Is it me, or does everyone seem a lot grouchier?” Nemui asked Sha’nami, who was in a steadily worsening disposition as well, complaining about having to work under such dreadful conditions, and about how bad the iced tea tasted. Morale had deteriorated in the last few days; it was more than mere agitation induced by fear- people who were normally the most ideal company were now quite terse.

The disposition of everyone in the vicinity of the Inn or where the ghost had tread, was getting downright surly; not just the natural state of anxiety from being scared, but an uncharacteristically high degree of animosity seemed to be brewing in the air.

Outside, Dach had separated his equipment into three piles: ‘still functional’, ‘in need of repair’, and ‘expensive paperweight’. He was disgusted.

“Ahhh can’t believe this! He almost laughed, as he gleaned some more data from his wounded gadgets. “Hot dog- are we in trouble!” he chortled with a nervous giggle, crossing that threshold of punchiness. He stood up, deciding that he’d need to brief everyone after supper. Speaking of which the wonderful Kitchen aroma hit his keen doggy snout. “ (sniff) Food! And about time, too!” he snorted in testy tone, running inside.

Dessy watched from the rocky banks as Dach bolted indoors. Shortly thereafter, Meryl and the car owners also retreated indoors. She and Ruru were all alone.

“There they go, Ruru-chan. I wonder if they remember we’re still here...” the mermaid said sourly, hugging the manatee as she slinked under the surface. She heard the distant festival fireworks. “Sigh they must be having fun there. ‘Tis not the weekend we had planned is it, Ruru-chan?” She was bored and tired, and a bit anxious from the supernaturally polluted water.

“I thought the Fae were supposed to be caretakers of this inland territory. Maybe that only applies to dry land!”  An uncharacteristically angry Dessy grumbled.

“No, it applies to the fresh water as well.”  a voice spoke from quite nearby.

Dessy was surprised- both because she did not that realize anyone had wandered near her, and that because she had thought that last sentence to herself underwater. Her long hair spiraled around her as she turned; looking towards the riverbank she saw a familiar fae-ish luminescence on the shore.

“I assure you, little one, that we take great pride in the lake, the ponds, the brooks- every drop of water that falls within our arborial domain!” a powerful but soothing Faerie voice assured the mermaid and her manatee.


Chapter Ten: Dach Tung

Supper time came and went. The food had a very soothing affect on the haunt survivors, and for a brief respite the meal combined with the candlelit ambience of the grand old inn to remind the lodgers why they came there. The waitress took the finished plates to the dish-room as Nemui thanked Dach for offering his home to the guests. After their polite bit of sincere applause, Dach asked everyone’s attention. It was time to break the worse news to them.

“As I understand it, the first minor odd things began two days ago, but were minor enough not to arouse much suspicion. That’s what we call a Class One Haunting. Yesterday it upgraded to a Class Two- in which there is a clear and present terror. Tonight you began as Class Three and quickly escalated to a Four by the time we were able to drive that ghost away. This was... very unusual, even by supernatural standards. Well, not to make abone about it, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that the ghost will probably not return again until tomorrow night. That gives you plenty of time to rest, pack your bags, and evacuate. The bad news is... um... when that thing returns, it’s likely to be at least a Class Five. At LEAST.”
“It’s gonna get worse? Oh great!” Ralph moaned in disgust. "And we came here for some relaxing golf!"

“Fraid so!” Dach nodded, with an odd amount of indifference to the lodger's woes.

“Ah... how... how worse could it get?” Stan asked, grimacing at the odd taste of his icewater.

“Would you like a worst-case scenerio?” Dach responded.

“No, we would not! But... tell us what that might entail!” Nemui wanted to know.

“Ho-kay. Mielikki, would you like to tell the folks about your ear rings?”

“Ear rings--?” Meryl mouthed in silent confusion. “What’s hs game, now?”

“I... was given these from my Sempai, when I was studying abroad ninety years ago in Siberia.”
For the most part, the people in the room didn’t understand the relevance of this, but Dach sure did.All eyes were on her, the room entranced as Mielikki told the tale (even though Union Rules forbade her from revealing the facts, but this was an extreme situation).

“It was a Summer night in 1908 when the transgression occurred. There are some forces not meant to be in concert with others. Thousands of miles of peaceful living forest were slain- you could hear the death timber of the trees in your soul. The maelstrom, greater than the blast of an atomic bomb, could be seen a continent away, and the tremors were felt in another hemisphere. That violation of a primordial accord of Fae and the Netherworld but a myth enshrouded by the numerous theories theories to  most mortals today but to The Fae, it was twenty seconds of Hell on Gaia that will forever burn in the memory of our hearts”

There was a moment of awe and silence... then Dach continued:

“Umm... not only would the entire Mid Atlantic coast be toast, but there's been speculation that Magenetopheric  Leylines could act like faults or conduits- sending magic shock waves around the planet. Even if it did not reach that upper llimit, it could easily have a catastrophic environmental and economic impact. This is what we call a dirty ghost, in that it leaves a contamina-“
“Hey- I read somewhere that Siberia thing - don’t they think that was a black hole?” rudly interrupted a guest,

“Oh yeah! Heh! I saw a TV show that claimed it was a nuclear experiment!” joked Ralph, making light of the Fae's words.

“Maybe it was an exploding UFO! “ laughed a lady lodger, causing the faerie’s fists to clench as her aura grew redder.

“Dude-maybe the Loch Ness Monster is a ghost, too!” Stan badgered Dach.

“You know, you humans really piss me off sometimes...” muttered Dach, who hated it when people interrupted his lectures.
“What’s the big deal- a bunch of timberland in Siberia got—“ one of the guests started to say about the Tunguskan wilderness that was so dear to the fae. At that very moment, Meryl predicted that Dach would take a buttery nummy bun and shove it into the lout’s mouth. That’s precisely when Dach took a buttery nummy bun and shoved it into the lout’s mouth.

“MMMFF!” the insolent lodger tried to speak. This caught everyone’s attention. Clearly ‘Assault with a Loaded Bun”, but Meryl just laughed.

“Gnaw your roll, and shut your mouth!” Dach barked at the guest.

Mielikki was in tears, from memories of the disaster she survived- and for having tried to defend the lives of these disrespectful vacationers.

“Now’s your chance- go try to cheer up Faeirie girl!” Stan nudged Ralph.

“Mind your own business!!” Ralph snapped at him with uncharacteristic hostility.

“Fine then- I hope you crash and burn just like your stupid car did!” Stan muttered.

“Shut up Stan- it was your idea to come here, and it was my 'stupid' car that drove us here!”

The two golfers started shoving each other. A couple of other guests rose to their feet in anger, knocking an expensive antique chair aside. Now Nemui was riled. The chair landed on Kyralindalani's tail- causing the catgirl to yowl and sink her claws into the nearest guest, The man’s wife then plastered Nemui with the cheesecake that Bullpup had so lovingly crafted. It tasted great, but made her brandish a sword as her temper- like everyone else there- was now flaring like early 70's jeans.

“Oh! I can’t stand take this any more!” Bullpup cried, throwing down his apron in disgust upon seeing his handiwork so mistreated. “I quit!”

“Meow too!” yelled Sha’nami with rigid tail amidst the sound of intentionally broken flatware.

“Meow Three!” Kyralindalani stammered, also of the rigid tail.

“You can’t quit- because I’m sacking the lot of you!” snapped Nemui, pointing her Katana at them.

Dach dodged the thrown duck meat - but Meryl wasn’t so lucky; her favorite red blouse (that matched her favorite wrecked motorcycle) was now coated with duck sauce. She stared at the mess in horror, then whipped out her handcuffs and flashlight. Meanwhile, Kyralindalani and Sha’nami were embroiled in their own hair-pulling cat-fight. Bullpup treed one of the guests, trying to bite him.
“Rightt! You’re under arrest, sunshine!” She announced, zapping the offender with her stun gun. Someone jerked the tablecloth from underneath Dach, causing him to land on his bruised back.

“This is just like that night in Bangkok” he moaned. Then he dove on Ralph, furiously shaking the man's robe that was gripped in his

“This is all that faerie’s fault- get her!” Stan yelled. Ralph punched him. Guests glared at Mielikki.

“Just bring it!” Mielikki dared them, her aura changing from sorrow to battle hues, wings up, edges gleaming with razor sharpness.

Hurled food, screams, insults, gnashing teeth, barking dogs, and hissy catgirls filled the Dining Hall.

"AHEM!" a commanding new voice seized everyone’s attention.

Abruptly, the mayhem stopped and all looked to the hall’s main entrance. There stood Palathyna, eldest of the local Fae, and Nyanko-
the island's heroic Jiu-Jitsu champion... and they were not there for the inn's acclaimed apéritifs.

“Palathyna!” cheered Mielikki.

"Nyanko!" Meryl and Dach exclaimed.

Palathyna’s empathic powers combined with her elegant manner to make a stunning presence, even at 5'4". The eldest of the local fae, she was most noble, wise, and beautiful. She wore a white frilly blouse, and lavendar dress full of ruffles, purple bodice, and wisteria petals in her black curly long hair that complemented her striking violet eyes and oak tan skin. As she passed through the doorway, her translucent wings majestically unfurled.

At 6'2, 160 lbs, the light-brown haired, green-eyed extremely athletic teenage Nyanko was the island's toughest, tallest catgirl. She stood there in her brown-belted white gi, Her ears flattened back in an aggressive posture, her tail movement also indicating her serious mood. Although usuyally the nicest and cheeriest of souls, she was a catgirl not to be trifled with, surveying the room to determine who she might have to beat up first. Palathyna was the first of the two to speak-

“I was informed by a mermaid named Lourdessaluorno and a Manatee by the name of Avanaru-ru- whom I might add is out there alone missing out on your delicious food that you see fit to hurl at each other-  that I could find a team of heroic ghost-hunters at this inn. Perhaps they were mistaken? Palathyna said sternly, seeming especially disappointed with Mielikki. Then Nyanko spoke

"Yeah, and a couple of poor little catgirls named Rica 'n Niko that I met at this nice lady's concert- which I waited all day long to hear- begged me to help save the Inn. I assumed the inn was under attack by some sort of powerful creature but I see now that it's merely being trashed by a bunch of drunken fools! Nemui, are you OK?"

By the elder magical means, the mortals minds were returned to a sound state. Apologies were exchanged. Nobody quit or got fired. No one got any yams either- to eat, anyway.
“What has come over us?” Nemui respectfully asked.

“If I were you, I’d pay much more attention to a helpful mermaid. You all seemed to be ignoring the the fact that she said there was something bad about the water. It is remarkable how well merfolk have adapted over the centuries- and their tolerance for even the most toxic of waters... unlike terrestrial mortals.”

"I'm gonna recon out the rest of the building and see if anyone else needs help." Nyanko said, as the elder faerie had things under control in the main hall.
“Um, well, I did take some readings...” Dach said with head hung low and a mouthful of fabric. Meryl uncuffed the man she had subdued.

“Maybe so- but you still used the water, didn’t you? Palathyna warned. “The well water is of the same aquafir. Deep in the earth, the water table is also contaminated by the fowl magic. I’d pour out those buckets of ice if I were you!”

“Doh!” Dach felt so... stupid. “Um, is Dessy and—“

“They’re fine- we had a very nice chat, then I sent her home for the rest of the night.”

“I’m sorry, Stan- that was the ice water talking earlier!” Ralph apologized to his friend.

“You mean we drank that ghost’s bath water? Ughhh!” Stan groaned.

“Well if it’ll make you feel any worse to view it that way- yes you certainly did!” The elder fae answered.

“Ahh.. think I’m gonna be sick...” Bullpup moaned.

“Oh no! BullPup, I hope you haven’t been drinking out of the---!” Sha’nami gasped at Chef Bullpup, almost made it to the nearest lavatory. .Much cleaning and medication followed.

“Palathyna-Sensei... forgive me for asking but...I thought you surely would be in the middle of the gala presentation you’ve been preparing all year for! As you know, many folks traveled many of miles just to see your rare mystical faerie show!” Nemui asked.

“Oh that... well, the crowd was quite understanding about it. We announced that due to an emergency we needed to postpone my show , but it would still go on later. There's plenty of other frivolity and fortunately, we were able to find an impromptu act to fill in for me for a while—“

Meanwhile, downtown on one of the stages—

The crowd gathered around the main event stage to see the special surprise performance. Two young catgirl sisters strolled on to center stage, wearing very pretty (and dry) halyconia-print  yukatas, geta sandals, pointy witch hats and big cat-tooth smiles.

“Ladies and gentleman, Catgirl Island proudly presents—“ Niko said iinto her microphone“—the supernatural stylings of-

"I'm Rica!"

"And I'm Nico, and we're-

"The Magic Cat Sisters!” in unison  amidst a cute little pyrotechnic display.
Palathyna was kind enough to give the girls with a bit of aurora dust so that they could put on a brief little light show with their opening act, until an Understudy Faerie could do a sound check and perform the main event.

Chapter Eleven: Temporal Paradachshund

By midnight, the everyone working together had more or less tidied up the inn, and Nyanko was well fed for her trouble. Dach and the two faeries sequestered themselves in one of the inn’s suites, where they could discuss matters away from mere mortal ears. Dach had a flurry of questions- how to deal with the ectohazard permeating the area, what information was Mielikki withholding about the duck, the origin of the sacred scrolls... and who or what Wir’Dnyra was. Palathyna had questions of her own- such as how Dach was even able to learn about the existence of said scrolls.

“I do like what Nemui-san has done with this place!” Palathyna noted. She slid open the crisp shoji partition to admire the courtyard. The room was bathed in the elongated shadows cast by the lush bamboo grove of the adjacentcourtyard, softly illuminated by the moonlight, the faeries’ slight glow, and a small lapis candle holder on the low mahogany table.

"And in some ways it hasn't changed since I watched them build it a hundred and twenty ago.Now then, where shall we begin?” The faerie asked, as they then seated themselves on the soft tatami mats around the table.

“I noticed that you left out a few facts about the Tonguska Incident- such as, oh the giant meteor...!” Dach minced. “ As I recall, it was the Fae there that called down the meteor to destroy the ghost.”

“I.. felt it was perhaps best to... not quite reveal every detail. Bringing down that celestial object composed of solid pure cold iron was the only way to stop the creature which would have continued to ravage far more than just that region... but yes.. I did deliberately conceal the fact that we ourselves did contribute to the mass destruction of our own beloved land.” The younger fae admitted.

“History will ultimately judge if we were right or wrong to do that- but only we were there know what was at stake-“ Palathyna started. “Many mortals mistrust ancient powerful beings such as we- we did not wish to add any more logs to fuel their fearful fires.

“Look, I understand- I’m not being critical. I know how much you anguish over the loss of so much forest there, and that y’all have made vows to never let that tragedy happen again.” Dach said in consoling tone.

“But... back to the present. As you know I stumbled upon an online document that had high resolution scans of the, um, Secret Sacred Scrolls they were written in a code I am unfamiliar with. Pardon me for saying so but I do pride myself on know my ancient faerie language- and I have never, ever seen the likes of THAT one!”
“Ah yes. The truth is that it is not an ancient faerie code,” Palathyna said.

“Hmmm- well if they were a clever hoax wouldn’t Mielikki have noticed?”

“I would have,” Mielikki chimed in, “and I can attest to their authenticity. They’re definitely not bogus.

“Ho-kayy well if they are real but not old, then it's anew cod? Dach scratched his head, as intrigued as intrigued can be.

“I did not say that.” The elder fae carefully pursed her words with a half smile.

"But you could say it was a new code!" the younger fae interjected. "They don't get any newer than-" she glanced at her elder for permission to continue.

Dach realized she was trying not to break Union Rules by revealing classified information to a mortal but to bend the rules allowing him to figure it out as the discourse unfolded. Then Dach figured it out.

“Aww nawww you don’t mean--?” He whined, not liking the realization.

Mielikki ‘s grin, springy antenna, and wings that almost seemed to clap in delight indicated that Dach was on the correct track- the scrolls didn’t prophecize of the future- they were from the future.
“No wonder she was reluctant to reveal what the scrolls said!” He sighed with head hung low. Palathyna gave an 'I told you so' nod.

“Fer Sure.”

Dach was smart and wise enough to realize how dangerous it would be to possess facts about the future. In the right hands, such knowledge could save billions of lives and solve countless scientific mysteries. In the wrong hands, such knowledge could alter the space-time continuum, create disastrous conundrums, or worse. The very notion of time travel gave him a headache.

“The problem is that if I was able to find those texts online then anyone can- and has. There’s no telling how that information has been used I’m not even going to address the concept that this was all fated to happen anyway awwww!”

“Now then, I know that you have many more questions, but I believe it is my turn to ask!”

“Ask and ye shall receive.”

“What was the location of that computer library, and how exactly did you reach it? I’d like to know how they got hold of the scrolls to record them, because they have been in my personal custody since before computers were invented. No one else has had access to them.”
“Well, obviously someone has.”

“Or will.”

“So why don’t you destroy the scrolls then?”

“Oh you mean, like burning books like the Nazis you fought against in World War Two did? We did consider planting the scrolls and transforming them into a tree- something of a Biblical touch," The elder Fae answered.

“Yeah but like, the elders couldn't even agree whether such a tree should be a Deciduous, Evergreen or a Palm!” Mielikki added.

"That's a pretty insolent tone, young lady!"

"Don't blame me for the bureaucracy!"
“Besides, we did eventually go with Evergreen” Palathyna recalled

“Broad- Leaf or Needle?” Mielikki queried.

“Ahh, look, I can see how you’d be fearful of introducing such a tree into the ecosystem, “ Dach nodded. “ Wereit to propagate, you don’t know the data contained within it’s cellular structure might re-write the current biospherical code and possibly re-terraform the planet!”

“The future would arrive before its time!” The younger Fae added. “That would not be, like natural, you know?”

"Unless it's a predestined paradox."

"Hee- he said Pair o' Dachs!" Mielikki grinned.

“Which would be the case. But, you’d definitely have to keep that tree in a special isolated place- and that’d sort of defeat the purpose of creating it to begin with. But we digress... the location of the web site?” Palathyna turned to Dach.

“If my suspicions are correct, the information is only in two locations- contained in the actual scrolls which you possess, and hidden in my own secret computer server.” Dach certified.

“And how sir dog do you derive that conclusion?” Palathyna inquired, her own wings rising with piqued curiosity,

“Because my canine intuition tells me that whoever had access to that information would not simply put it on the Internet for anyone to find. They’d keep it to themselves. You hit the proverbial nail on the head when you said ‘or will’. I therefore must speculate that at some time in the future, you will give me access to the scrolls, which I will take great delight in transcribing. Further more, if the knowledge were somehow channeled to me and my computer from my future self, there must have also been a subliminal nudge for me to choose this particularly vital time to come out of retirement, instead of participating in that Spanish Mackeral fishing tournament.”

“Why would she give you those scrolls?” Mielikki wondered.

“Perhaps so that a poor old, faithful hound dog, secluded away in his lonely home, could maintain some dignity during his twilight years. Still using his half-working brain to make important discoveries long after his old tired bones are feeble and gray; until he’s finally taken away by the pretty faerie ladies to that great Sugar Magnolia in the sky.” Dach soliloquized

“Wahhh! Th- that’s sad!” Mielikki cried.

“(Sob)! A touch maudlin- but was nevertheless sincere!” Palathyna said, drying her moist eyes. Her empathic powers could tell that Dach was not trying to trick them. After all, he was a hero of the island and had been trusted with other important artifacts. “Very well, I think perhaps day that will be fulfilled... but for the present I believe you have other questions?”

“M’Lady is too kind to this old worthless dog.”

“Wahhh!” Mielikki’s tears were starting to puddle on the tatami mats.

“(sniff)I don’t suppose your future self bothered tell you what happens to the ghost?” The younger fae asked.

“Nope- only fragments of the scrolls that were difficult to translate and maybe some strong hints.
“Um... I’m glad you concur that we should act quickly and strike back while the duck is in a weakened state,” Dach continued.

“Wahhh!” Mielikki still sobbed. “It’s not fair- it’s not her fault!”

“Um.. Mel’s been saying that a lot... I was gonna ask about that, too...”

“That is part of the Wir’Dnyra story. I will tell it to when all who are going to the duck’s lair have assembled,” Palathyna assured Dach.

All tears were wiped away, sad fae auras resumed determined hues as they left the suite and rejoined the others. Dach announced that they would soon be underway, once they figured out who was going and what supplies they would need to visit to the duck’s lair.

“We’re going to the The Duck Slayer?” Nyanko asked, sliding the door open with one hand, the other curved around a large bowl of hot yams slathered in marshmallow topping with four spoons in it.
“No... that’s Duck’s Lair .” We’re going to the lair of the- Oh never mind! "Dach shook his head, already aching from  his theories.

Chapter Twelve: The Remorseful Fae

Meryl had just returned aboard the giant iguana Raptor bus, off-loading a large bag full of waterproof tactical gear and other non-electrical equipment she fetched from the police station for the duck hunt. In addition to some food & drink, upon Palayhna's request, Nemui contributed a bonsai tree to the expedition, which the faerie assured her was most important and would be returned. The tree would be used to trap the spirit of their sister faerie once separated from the duck.

Hugs and thanks ensued from the inn guests as the team prepared for the offensive. Kyralindalani wanted to tag along on the expedition, but they insisted she stay behind with Nemui, thus hunting party consisted of Palathyna, Mielikki, Dach, Meryl, and Nyanko. Dessy and Ruru would be joining them later, although not be able to travel with them all the way into the mountain, where climbing and walking would be a must.

They changed into dive suits and carried their wares down the garden path to the waterfall. Dessy and Ruru met them there at midnight, then all gathered in a circle around Palathyna on a large smooth rock. A gentle nocturnal wind on the misty pools stirred faerie wings to flitter and dog ears to flutter as The Faes' ghostly tale began.

“What you hear tonight has not been ever spoken of beyond the circle of fae. Although we do pride ourselves on being a noble and mature, we have our own shameful past. We have our powerful, dark secrets, for there is still much of mortal humanity that mistrusts supernatural beings,” spoke the elder of ancient occurrence, radiating a faint purple aura. The younger fae continued, eyes glazed violet-

“It is common knowledge of the conservatory role of the fae. We pride ourselves as caretakers of the forest and thus was the course of an elder faerie by the name of Wir’Dnyra. She loved the earth and all its creatures, and it was to her sadness that she lived long enough to see many beloved creatures selected for extinction. There is a natural order of the universe, that we fae are but a small part of, but Wir’Dnyra rebelled, vowing to let no other species cease to exist."

Palathyna continued without missing a beat-

"She sought those plants, animals and smaller things that were a dying breed, and decided to preserve them in her own arrogant manner. She ultimately became no better than a collector, playing goddess by selecting beings to place in suspended animation before their natural death. Those poor creatures continued to exist, but there is a gulf between mere existence and a healthy life. She came to be known as Wir’Dnyra the Imprisioner... and her obsession had to be stopped.”

Mielikki added to the narrative tapestry:

“Wir’Dnyra refused all reason and heartfelt help, and actually turned aggressive towards the others who interfered with her grande design: to collect and preserve a specimen of every life form on earth... even if that species had millions of years to go. She could not be banished to a place devoid of life, and her life was not ours to slay. It was forever to our shame that we lacked sufficient intellect and power to do anything else but... do unto her as she had done to others. The elder fae united against her and... and...we encased her in one of her own Azure Amber Chrysalis of ForeverSleep, in hopes that she would sleep peacefully until she could be cured of her madness”

“Ah, I could tell how difficult it was for you to read those few bits from that scroll earlier today...” Dach said.

“I like totally wish I could have been more helpful... but I was unsure how much to divulge I wanted to consult with my elders before I said more.”

“You did well, little sister, even though you yourself do not know every secret of the scrolls.” Palathyna assured “Only the eldest of our kind know exactly how to access the hidden chamber.”

“Ah... you probably did the best that anyone could have.” Meryl spoke, aware that no system of criminal justice is absolutely perfect, even in the most enlightened societies that strive for great truth and justice for all.

“M’Lady, please forgive my curiosity... but what is the connection between Wir’Dnyra and the ghost duck?” Dessy asked as she hugged Ruru-chan (who was not so nervous since the nice faerie ladies were here).

“We acted too hastily... and did not take enough care when we encased her in the chrysalis. Years later when we began to translate the scrolls we read... that Wir’Dnyra had a... she had duck egg in her pocket that she intended for the amber. Had we waited a bit longer, the egg would have hatched! We might have heard the chirping duckling and not... preserved it as well!” Palathyna replied with utmost guilt.

“And their spirits somehow merged?” Nyanko asked Palathyna

“Yes. The spirits of the innocent duck and our mad sister are linked. Over the years, the bad magic caused the chrysalis to decay. No longer properly preserved, their bodies perished, but the hybrid life-force continued, and eventually freed itself from the ever-weakening chrysalis... as all of her other pods have. But in this case, a ghost resulted because of her bonded essence.”

“So Wir’Dnyra’s plan would ultimately fail anyway and the natural order wins in the end. Hoisted by her own petard!” Meryl surmised.

“Okay gang, now what?” Dach stood up, stretching. The others arose and looked to Palathyna to lead them.

“From here, we go behind the waterfall, through the magic portal, then into the under-mountain. Even if the duck is asleep, there are other things we must face.” She instructed.”We took great precautions to ensure that our sister was undistrurbed, either from natural disasters or those who would plunder the Chrysalis.”
“You know the types, Dach- thieves, pirates, archaeologists!” Meryl joked.

“Ha ha very funny!” the weener dog replied.

“Not every grave-robbing man of science is as respectable as our dear dachshund!” Palathyna grinned.

“But she has a point, for high grade primordial Azure well fetch a big price on the Black Market!” Dach knew.

“By the way.. what excactly are we going to do once we find the duck?” Dessy inquired.
“Hopefully Mielikki and I can perform the ritual to end this travesty once we arrive at the chrysalis.”

“What does the bloody thing look like, anyway?” Meryl asked.

“Like an eight meter Azsure Amber sphere!” The fae chimed in unison

"Oh, OK."

“We will have to circumvent magical barriers, traps, and the denizens of the grotto” Mielikki advised.

"I sure hope there are no giant cave slugs in there!" Nyanko feared, tail nervously twitching.

"There are. You do not have to join us, you know!"

"Well as much as I'd rather be enjoying the festival, I can't desert my friends!" Nyanko grinned.

“I don’t suppose there’s a subterranean stream in there?” Dessy asked.

“There are thermal pools inside the grotto, but only so far. I suggest you remain close to the portal and leave the duck to us. If we are incorrect about its recuperative powers, we might need you and the Ru to swim our injured selves back out of there!” Palathyna told the mermaid.


“Sempai, what must I do when you reveal the location of the secret entrance?”

“Simply do as I do, Meli-chan... but to open the portal will not be without a measure of pain-it was intended to be quite secure and concealed for centuries if need be.” Palathyna telepathically communicated the access procedure to Mielikki, who nodded her understanding.

“So, besides slugs, um what surprises are in store for us in there?” Nyanko inquired.

“Once we find the hidden entrance, there will be unstable geological formations and huge lava pits to deal with- there are some deep drops in there... plus the creatures that dwell within the sacred grotto. Given the dimensional rifts within the grotto, I cannot precisely tell you the exact distance we must travel, but it is probably going to be a couple of miles.” Palathyna advised, shedding her fancy gown down her swimming attire.

“If you don't mind me asking- where are the rest of the faeries?” Dessy asked respectfully.

“Although a few are in town for the festival, Several of our sisters are closer than you’d suspect, atop the mountain, performing a ritual in Lake Neko, to cleanse the realm from the undead toxins. They’ll be rather focused on that task for a while, but it will heal the forest if we succeed on our mission.”

Chapter Thirteen: Duckness on the Edge of Town

Fae wings glowed blue tapered into a more  hydrodynamic configuration, shimmering like the water they arced into. Dessy and Ruru were already waiting for them at the bottom. The mermaid was most curious where the hidden entrance was, for she had thoroughly searched the depths a number of times, to no avail- not even her echolocation senses previously detected any such entrance.

The others watched intently as the two faeries moved in unison, wings colored like anemone as they began to harmonize with the magical barrier. The fae spiraled up to the rock wall below the falls, wingtip to wingtip as they simultaneously reached into crevices to open the final locking mechanism. Dessy’s SONAR sensed that there was now an opening concealed behind illusionary rock.

Palathyna gestured for them to proceed. Something started to bother Dessy and Ru- it was almost like the smelled... blood?

They swam through a connecting tunnel, ending in massive stone steps leading up into a pool. The group broke surface and gasped to see the immense cavern in which they had emerged. Wisps of firefly-like insects and glowing waves of emerald magic bathed the stalactite and stalagmite filled galleries, vast in subterranean splendor. Even the pool was aglow with small soft plumes of bioluminous kelp, a tasty snack for some fortunate manatee to nibble upon.

“Woof! This is some place y'all have here!” Dach exclaimed, mustering his breath. He was entranced by the beauty of the geologic formations that few had ever beheld. “Folks, try not to touch any of the stalactites or stalagmites though."

“I suspect this is the end of the stream for me and the Ru!” Dessy announced, where the two of them would wait with radios. Nyanko leaped to the top of the steps. Last one out, Meryl gasped when she saw the faeries’ bleeding hands-

Mielikki and Palathyna were bleeding, the hands that unlocked the portal having been pierced by some sharp spine. Dessy quickly reeled out the first aid kit to mend their wounds. The fae tried to not appear in pain, but their paler auras and quivering antenna told otherwise.
“It is nothing... but just the first part of the trials that await.” Palathyna muttered. “Faerie blood is also part of the passkey. It's not supposed to be an easy access!"

“It looks like your palms were pricked by urchin prongs!” Dessy observed.

“Totally,” Mielikki admitted.

“We should suck out the venom immediately!” Dessy advised, as Meryl unspooled bandages.

“It does hurt a great deal... but it is far from lethal. The Faerie Urchins are a deterrent, not a death-trap,” Palathyna winced. “We should proceed.” They wounds were tended to as Dessy and Meryl sorted the equipment. Dach surveyed the trail ahead of them, easing Nyanko that no slugs were nearby. The fae hugged Dessy and Ruru, wings expanded to normal proportions as they emerged from the pool to proceed into the pocket dimension on the other side of the portal.

“We probably cannot succeeded without your help... we need to conserve our strength for the ritual in the sanctorum chamber. I hope that you all can get us there, safely past the terrors of the grotto.” Palathyna respectfully suggested. It was fortunate that the elder fae apprised them of the dangers, for they were able to proceed at much faster a pace than if they had to cautiously search every inch of the way for a possible trick or trap.

They continued the journey deeper into the mountain, eventually arriving to the first subterranean obstacle- a huge chasm. The ceiling over a hundred feet high, the gulf across the chasm over two hundred feet. Dangerous vapors exuded from the boiling volcanic liquid below. The rock ourcrops on either side of the cliff were quite unstable, ever changing in elevation in the lake of lava.

“Oh boy, crossing that is gonna be fun, “Dach said.

“Um, I don’t suppose you could just fly us across?” Meryl asked the fae.

“I don’t think we can quickly fly everyone and the equipment... and teleportation is not going to work in the pocket dimension side of the portal”, Palathyna said. 

"Oh we can climb this!" Nyanko said. "Um you did say there were no slugs, right?" She was a tough catgirl, but grossed her out. They eventually managed to make it across without too much difficulty.

“Okay folks... what’s the next terror up for bid?” Meryl quizzed the fae.

“Nyanko, perhaps you'd better not look!” Meilikki said dryly, pointing to the oncoming herd of Giant Cave Slugs.
"Ahhh... Ahhhh...!" Nyanko quivered all over, her tail on end.

“Goddess- then it is a testament to her courage that she even ventured into this palce.” Palathyna said as she picked up the catirl. “Ah, such beasts are normally rather docile, but these particular ones are the elite Guardians of the Grotto- and have been trained to defend it from any intrusion- even faeries.”

"Waahhhhh!" Nyanko cried. "Why me?"
“Well, we’re prepared for those lovelies, ain’t we?” Meryl declared as she brandished her shotgun loaded with rock salt.

“Yep!” Dach agreed.

“Please don’t hurt them!” Mielikki said.

“Oh she’s just gonna give them a reason to back off- with some rock salt shot shells!” Dach explained. “They’ll burst in the air and drive those slugs away... kind of like Sluggy Tear Gas, " Meryl explained.

"Not deadly, just a deterrent!" Dach added.

Meryl fired several shots into the air, creating a salty barrage that the giant cave slugs wanted no part of. The creatures roared with great irritation and backed off. The group was able to pass by the enormous slime-coated monsters unharmed.

The two faeries stared in wide-eyed disbelief, wings drooped half-mast as their guardian beasts gave up so quickly.

"You're fired!" The elder snapped at the fleeing herd.

"Yay!" Nyanko purred happily, jumping for joy from behind the boulder she hid behind.
“So- why would they defend this place against fellow faeries?” Meryl asked.

“In case another faerie went rogue like  Wir’Dnyra, or if this holy place were besieged by our more wicked cousins from across the sea.” said Palathyna.

“They’re like grr-ody to the max! Trust me- you don’t want to meet them!” Mielikki replied.

“Oh, back in England my Mum and Dad told us some scary stories about such things!" Merly added.

They came to a high plateau where the last obstacle supposedly awaited. This last test of their mettle was actually a mental challenge, for before them on the great cavern wall was inscribed a series of faerie coded glyphs, that would reveal the magical word key to open the sanctorum chamber, where the Chrysalis- and presumably their ghostly quarry- would be found.
“Normally I love a challenge such as this one, but time is of the essence. My lady, would you PLEASE would you reveal --

Suddenly, the door began to open.

"Huh? What'd I miss?" a confuzzled Nyanko asked.

"Dach said the magic word without even trying!"

Palathyna stared in wide-eyed disbelief, wings drooped half-mast again.

"Now who's fired?" Mielikki asked.

“Great... I said the magic word- now is that duck gonna give me a prize? Dach joked. Then he noticed Palathyna gasp and glance in the direction
from whence they came.

"I sense... the mermaid and her manatee are in pain!" the elder fae gasped, as the catgirls spun around, ready to rescue Dessy and Ru.

Back at the grotto pool-

"Ohhh... I should not have eaten all that kelp! My tummy hurts!" the mermaid moaned.
"ERRP!" The manatee burped, his belly full of the tasty treat.

Back at the glyph wall-

"Never mind. Let us proceed into the sanctorum chamber," the elder fae directed.

"I guess we're much better at forestry than we are at booby-trapping, huh?" the younger fae sighed, as they went into the chamber.

Chapter Fourteen: Duck a la Wrong

They stepped into the spherical chamber's pool. In the center of the pool was a small grassy mound about twenty feet across, on which the ancient, cracked Azure Amber Chrysalis of ForeverSleep rested. A dim halo of faerie energy flickered and spiraled above slowly above it in mid air. Palathyna cautioned them that what lay inside the chrysalis might not be pretty

Drawing closer,  they crossed the small shallow pool and noticed the skeletal faerie and duck remains within the compromised container. They also spied the duck snoozing on the other side of the object in a nest made of grass and kelp.

The goal now was to hope that the ghost would remain asleep whilst the fae performed the ritual to separate their sister’s spirit from the duck’s. If the duck were to awaken, it would be up toNyanko, Meryl, and Dach to keep the ghost at bay until the Fae ritual was completed. Palathyna and Mielikki retrieved Nemui's bonsai tree from the gear bag, placing it between them as they sat communing in lotus position.

Dach and Meryl readied their weapons, hoping they would not need to use them again. Dach signaled Meryl to fan out to the opposite side of the chamber to flank the ghost. Nyanko slinked into a predatory position- like so many jungle cats in centuries past have when sneaking up on birds of the veldt- her keen feline senses detected a particular scent. A favorite scent. A deliciously wonderful scent. The scent that omelets are made of. The dog and other catgirl smelled it too.

There were ghost duck eggs in the nest. Eleven of them, fertile Grade-A duck eggs, radiating the same magical signature as their mother duck. Nyanko was nervous and amazed. This could not bode well, for all they needed were more ghostly foes. She was about to relay this discovery to the faeries. Alas, the fae were already in a magical trance, not to be disturbed until the ritual was ended. Her cat ears heard a cracking sound.

The eggs were beginning to hatch. So much for the element of surprise! The Duck’s black beady eye gleamed and crackled with angry power as she awoke to the hatching sound.
"She's seen us!" Dach barked. "Nyanko, careful- that duck has a super sonic quack attack!"

“By the way, remind me to ask you later how a ghost duck could lay eggs...” Meryl said, as the red-glowing ghost hissed in defense of her nest.

Dach gave a frantic hand signal for the three of them to back off. If the creature were to attack, only the chrysalis would provide a barrier for them to retreat behind- assuming the ghost did not take to the high ground and perch upon the blue orb. Meryl mentally juggled the tactical equation, aware that the eggs might also be weapons to use against the duck. It was the dirtiest manuever in the book of warfare, but taking some eggs as hostages- assuming they were not totally desolid- might be the only thing to buy them time and keep the ghost’s attention away from the fae. Meryl relayed the plan by hand signal to Dach.

“Um, she’s awake now- why are you too still using hand signals?” Nyanko asked.

“In case she understands English!” Meryl said. The duck opened her mouth, glowing particles gravitating towards it as power built up.

“INCOMING!” Nyanko yelled, diving behind the chrysalis as the creatured hurled a blast of faerie fire her way. Meryl tossed a flash-banger grenade sailed from her hand up and over the orb.

”FIRE IN THE HOLE” she alerted her comrades. The ghost hissed at the grenade as it detonated right in it’s face.

“WAKKKK!” The ghost duck quacked as it shook it’s temporaily stunned head. Dach flanked right and Nyanko flanked left.

"Nyanko, quick- grab all the eggs! Maybe she won't risk hurting them, and won't use her blast!"

"Gotcha!" she raided the nest, seizing all the eggs. "Ha ha ha, ya can't use your super weapon now can you, duck?"

"Um, Nya-chan, that's not her only-" Meryl tried to warn, as the duck then tried to slime the catgirl.

But Nyanko was far to agile, back-flipping to behind Meryl. The duck started to charge that way when it spied Meryl's trap- she had a row of the Anti-Gost Mines planted between them. The Police catgirl grinned, her hand gripping the detonator. The duck whirled around, only to discover that the weener dog had her bracketed with more mines. The duck quacked in rage. Nyanko distributed the eggs amongst the entire team, including placing a few between the faeries, as Meryl and Dach threatened to detonate the mines.

"We seem to have a Mexican Omelette Standoff!" said the dog.

Then the eggs began to hatch, from which tiny glowing ghost ducklings emerged- on Dach, Meryl, and Nyanko's 'safe' side of the mines, causing the catgirls' tails stood on end. The newborn ducklings' peepings grew louder and louder- along with the frantic noise from their ghostly mama duck-, to the point that the catgirls' and dog's ears were hurting. Ghost duck goo was spewing all over the place. The mines tipped over. The ducklings flew the weener dog and catgirls, who were now covered with duckling ghost goo. Knocked backwards, Meryl accidentally detonated her half of the mines into the floor, causing the entire spherical chamber to rock. Water splashed. The fae continued to chant, their auras glowing brighter. The ducklings flew towards Dach, knocking him over and then the rest of the mines detonated. The chamber rolled the other way as cracks ran up the walls. Debris and fragments fell. The place about to roll over, as dach managed to shake the goo off his face, to see the mother duck charging him.

Then there was a bright light and rushing gale-force wind as the Fae completed the ritual, their bodies gasping and rigid.

The ghost fell from the air and flipped on to its back into the water. More debris rained down as Dach scampered to the catgirls. Thunder clapped. A loud groaning spectre of a faerie emerged from the duck, arcing lightning as it’s huge wings unfurling to fill the blue crystalline chamber. The image of Wir’Dnyra screamed and arched like a tidal wave, flowing from the duck iinto the bonsai tree between Palathyna and Mileikki, as if she were dwarf star yolk being sucked into a black hole, her essence now trapped within the bonsai tree, glowing emerald green.
Chapter Fourteen: State of Duckay

They still had to get out of there, which would prove to be a feat unto itself. Hundreds of meters above them, through solid rock and two hundred feet of water, the sisterhood of the fae was also nearing the end of their ritual to cleanse the land and water of the ectoplasmic contamination. Their magic burned through the water, through the soil, the roots, and deep into the earth.

Unfortunately the magical power surge opened subterranean fissures... and the streaming water feeding the chamber pool was now a raging torrent. Palathyna and Mielikki were almost totally sapped of energy, fainted around the glowing bonsai as Dach & the two catgirls tumbled their way, followed by the mama and baby ducks. The chamber was beginning to flood and collapse, now knee-deep in water and rising.

“Look! Mama duck-and babies!” the exhausted younger faerie exclaimed with glee, glancing through her bangs as the ducks swam to greet her.

“Mielikki - tell tthose ducks that this cave will flood soon and they will need to migrate outside the mountain” a tired Palathyna advised. Mielikki had just enough remaining faerie power to communicate the message to the ducks. The fae were going to need a lot of rest before their powers were fully recharged. Meilikki hugged mama duck, then the ducklings queued up behind her to depart.

“What about the slugs?” Nyanko asked.

“The grotto is vast- there are many caverns and galleries under the mountain for them to roam, “Palathyna spoke. “Which is exactly what we need to be doing!” She warned as she opened the chamber door.

“We need to get a message to Dessy, or the sisterhood!" Dach surmised.

"Dessy, Dessy come in Dessy! Darn it, the radios are still out!” Meryl cursed.

“The rocks are too dense for me to try a telepathic signal to them... and I fear I’d need eye to eye contact to contact Dessy.” Palathyna lamented, but did not relent pondering for a solution. Staring down at the bonsai in her arms, she had an idea.
“Of course- the floral network!” Palathyna said, kneeling down to touch the wet grass by the chrysalis, but careful not to let the bonsai touch it. She used her waning energy to transmit a cave-to-cave call. The signal flowed into the handful of lush grass... and she hoped that somehow, someway there would be a connection to any other plants- even seeds or bulbs deep in the earth or
perhaps even any pollen in the air.

The group then left the chamber and headed back towards the volcanic gorge. Back at the portal pool behind the waterfall, Dessy waited and waited and waited, having heard no radio message. Avanaruru was nibbling on more of the kelp... when contact was made. The manatee’s vegetation snack conveyed Palathyna’s message.

“What is it, Ruru-chan?” Dessy realized that the manatee was trying to tell her something.

“Oh no- the others are in trouble! We need to go for help!” The mermaid wasted no time, grabbing the waterproof pack of signal flares. “Swim like the wind, Ruru-chan!” They swam out the tunnel with great haste and emerged outside the waterfall. Dessy looked up the towering mountain, hoping that the faerie sisterhood was still at the mountaintop lake. Like magenta comets, the flares fired up and zoomed high into the night sky. Desy watched as the balls of flare light glided downward.

Dessy cheered as she saw multiple gleaming points of emerald appear high above, flying around with purpose. Cresting the falls in rapid descent, the tight aerial formation of sixteen faeries dove down to the river below, their tapered iridescent wings backswept for the dive into the shimmering water. The mermaid was awestruck by the spectacular site- the closest comparison she’d seen was perhaps the aquatic ballet of the Rainbow Manta.

Back at the Inn’s garden, Nemui and the others saw the lights in the night sky. Nemui, Kyra, Shany and Bullpup took lanterns and a first aid kit and ran down the garden path toward the river. Waiting outside the waterfall, Dessy and Ruru directed the fae to the portal.

Deep inside the grotto, the weary adventurers reached the unstable rocky cliffs by the huge lava pit. Dach didn’t want to wait there forever, given the spewing fireballs and toxic vapors. Worse, the ground was starting to crumble around them- and it was looking as if waiting was no longer even an option at all. He connected his rope to a piton projectile and fired it across the chasm. Dach's ears stood up as a fireball whooshed up and disintegrated the rope.

"Well they sure got this part of the booby traps right!" Meryl deduced, carrying the barely conscious Mielikki along with her equipment.

"The slugs alone would've kept me outta here!" Nyanko replied , carrying the limp Palathyna and the bonsai as the ghost ducks waddled behind them.

"The slugs! That's it- we can follow their slime trail to another cavern!" Dach proposed.

Nyanko made a sourpuss expression at the notion of actually going looking for the slugs, but there seemed to be no alternative. They tried to avoid falling rubble as they looked for the slug's sticky trail. Which was an excellent idea, except that it led to a dead end- the tunnel the slugs had exited by was now blocked off by tons of fallen boulders.

"Or not..." he said, ears drooped in despair.

"L-leave me..." the weak Palathyna moaned to Meryl.

"Huh? what?"

"I'll only slow you down-"

"Uh-uh no way ma'am- we're all gettin' outta here!" the catgirl cop declared, tail swishing frantically.

"The next time I leave a concert that I've camped out all day for, just shoot me!" Nyanko, understandably paying more attention to the worsening environment than the faintly glow of the faeries and bonsai they were carrying.

"Any more bright ideas, Dach?" asked Meryl.

"Ahhh..." Dach was looking and pondering for another exit strategy.

"I realize this is a lousy time to ask, but-" Nyank started, dodging more debris.

"But what?" Dach barked, doging more debris.

"So, how exactly does a ghost lay eggs?"

"A--" Dach was bewildered for a moment, trying to process her query whilst figuring a way to escape."It's-" and then a rock bonked him on the head, causing him to fall off the ledge.

"DACH!" screamed the catgirls a tenth of a second later, dropping the fae, the gear and the tree to the ground as they dove for him.

Before Mielikki, Palathyna, the bonsai and gear bag hit the trembling ground, before Dach and the catgirls went into the fiery chasm, in swooped the squadron of Faeries, screaming through cavern supersonic speed. homing on their sisters' faint energy to catch them all. Plumes of lava and fire shocked along the compression wave from the blue light trail of their wings; wings that left an after image of their 1/8th mile U-turn when they circled back out of there with the rescued party- and duck family- in hand.

Chapter Fifteen: Not Fae Away

Back at the safer zone of the portal pool, Dessy cheered as the Faeries returned with friends and ducks. Nemui, Kyra, Shanny and Bullpup arrived just in time to see the entire party emerge from the falls... all members accounted for and seemingly intact, but quite ragged and weary.

“Wanna buy a duck?” Meryl said to Nemui, collapsing on to the comfy mossy riverbank.

“They’re CHEEPER by the dozen.. heh...” Nyanko quipped, dragging herself to a nice spot to lie down.

“I’ll fetch some warm blankets!” Kyra offered,

"Hai!" said Shanny, going with her.

"DUCK!" Nemui gasped, seeing the thirteen ghost ducks.

"It's OK they're tame now..." Dessy reported. "...but I bet they're hungry!" AvanaRuru swam over to inspect the ducks.

“I'll get 'em some grub. Or grubs!" Hey 'bro, you OK?" Bullpup asked the weener dog.

"Yeah but I'm getting too old for this. The next time I pass up a fishing trip, somebody shoot me!" Dach groaned. "Oh, and Bullpup- stay away from that bonsai!"

Thanks to the care from their sisters and the inn staff, Mielikki and Palathyna soon regained consciousness, their wings brighter and unfurled. Dessy and AvanaRuru received grateful hugs and an invitation to the next day's brunch, before leaving to find the duck family a new home. The others all returned to the inn to be met with cheers from the lodgers, followed by food and drink in the soothing hot spring.

"Well, we'd best be going," Palathyna said, with all the other fae nodding in agreement.

"Wha-? Wouldn't y'all like to spend the night here?" Nemui asked as she, Kyra & Shanny served more Sake.

"Arigatoo, Sha’nami-san!" said Meryl, drinking now that she was off-duty.

"That would be like totally awesome, but our night's not over just yet," Mielikki replied, rising from the bath. "One more task awaits!"

"Did we forget something?" asked Dach.

“Oh no- everything here is fine. But we haven’t missed a performance in two hundred years and the show must go on!” Palathyna decreed. "We need to fly into town and put on our concert. A bit behind schedule, but better late than never! Oh and you're all welcome to attend- we have some reserved seats on the front row you can have!"

"Hooray! I am so there!" Nyanko cheered as she hopped from the bath to put on her yukata.

"I wonder how Rica and Niko are doing?" wondered Kyralindalani.
Back in town-
Rica and Niko beamed with shut-eyed, cat-toothed huge grins, as dozens of roses were tossed onto the stage amidst cries for an encore!

Nemui and her staff bowed reverently, extending most profound thanks to the faerie sisterhood, who then departed for the festival.
“Sensei?” Mielikki asked Palathyna as they glided toward town.
“Yes, Meli-chan?”
“Can I take tomorrow off?”

Chapter Sixteen: All’s Well That Inn’s Well

The next day-

With the bad magic gone and power was restored to the area. Nemui completed the phone calls to various insurance agents and happily informed the staff that master carpenters would be arriving in a couple of days to begin repairs. Later she drank tea with Palathyna.

“It’s a shame you have to trap her essence in this tree until she is better, but I suppose you cannot risk her madness possessing any another creature.” said Nemui regarding the Spiritual Bonsai.

“You honor us by allowing your lovely tree  to be the new vessel for Wir’Dnyra’s spirit and giving it a good home where it will be loved and cared for.” Palathyna replied. “I think the serene presence here in your lovely inn will surely help her healing process."

“I have just the spot for it, and I will ask the Miku of the Temple to bless this fine tree once their festival is consummated!” Nemui promised. Then Ralph and Stan happened by, returning from their 18 holes of golf.

“Ma'am, that is a most attractive bonsai! I wish I could get my garden back home to look as nice!” said Stan.

“Why thank you. This is a very unique tree, cultivated by the finest faerie magic!” Nemui replied.

"Speaking of which have you um, seen Mielikki?” Ralph asked. Palathyna could read his love-smitten aura from a mile away.

“Ah, sorry to disappoint you lad- “Palathyna whispered to him “- but you should know that Meli-chan does not date younger men!”

“Huh?” he stumbled.
“She’s 470 years older than you!” she revealed.

“Oh!” he gulped. Stan chuckled and went on to the bar. About that time, Mielikki and Meryl drove up on the Officer’s restored motorcycle.

“Wheee! Like, that was so much fun- I’ve never ridden in a motorcycle sidecar  before!” the faerie gleefully beamed as her glowing hair
spiraled out of her helmet.

“You’re welcome! ” Meryl replied. “Dach never did tell Nyanko and I how a ghost duck have laid ghost eggs?”

“All I can guess is that mama duck laid the eggs just as she went into stasis years ago and thy were there all along!” Mielikki speculated. “The ducks seem to be getting along well with Ruru-chan!” she pointed to the river, where the twelve ghost ducks were indeed playing in the water with Dessy & Rica. Rica & Niko arrived at the water’s edge with food for Ruru and the ducks.
“This will their last catered meal for a while,” Dessy told the young catgirls

“Awww- why do they have to leave?” Rica asked.

“The fae are willing to bend the rules of their ancient accord and allow these ghosts to remain in fae territory for just a little while longer, but they do need to leave this forest.” Dessy told the catgirls.

“Awww- I hope they won’t go too far away!” Niko retorted.

“Don’t worry- I think I've found them a new good home!"


Epilogue: Dach Coda

Monday, 6am. In spite of such a long, rough weekend, Dach could not sleep. It was not that hehad insomnia- but that something kept nagging him in the wee hours of the island dawn. Something was... different. He hopped out of bed and strolled downstairs to survey his stately manor. Finding nothing unusual indoors, he stepped outside to have a look about the grounds. Out front, all he found were the morning newspapers, but his feeling of dread intensified as he roamed to the back yard and out on to his private seaside pier... where his keen canine nose detected the scent. He examined his moored boats. There was nothing wrong with twelve foot fishing boat, so then he then examined the smaller wooden boat- in which a dozen glowing ducks sleeping in their new nest. Dach stared for a moment.

“Oh well.. at least I’ve got all my ducks in a row boat,” Dach sighed.


 * * * the end! * * *



1. Dach Savage is an homage and parody the great gumshoes & adventurers of yore, the name an obvious play on words dedicated to author Kennith Robeson’s immortal literary hero.

2. This 2002 tale is the dachshund detective's 2nd appearance; having debuted in Mike Moon’s story “Nyanko and the Eye of the Idol”.

3. Nyanko makes her 2nd appearance here, having already debuted as the title character of “Nyanko and the Eye of the Idol”. Her next appearance, "Nyanko's Double Triouble" remains an unfinished work co-written by JL Hobbins & Mike Moon.

4. This is catgirl cop Meryl Murrey's 3rd appearance; having previously appeared in “Nyanko and the Eye of the Idol” and again in Mike's “A Mermaid's Adventures in Undersea Cuisine”

5. This adventure also marks the 3rd exploit of catgil sisters Rica & Niko, who previously appeared in "Curiosity Killed the Catgirl" and "Raptordy in Blue", both written by Marc Burgessboth written by Marc Burgess

6. The characters of Nemui, Lourdessaluorno, and Avanaru-ru were introduced in “A Mermaid's Adventures in Undersea Cuisine”.

7. Chef Bullpup, Kyralindalani, Sha’nami and Palathyna make their first appearances here.

8. All of this story's illustrations & photographs created by Mike Moon

9. Mike thanks these friends who created or helped define certain characters: Betty, Crissy, Marc, Leigh, Renee, Shannon & Tiawyn...

10. ... and thanks to his pal Jamie for all the technical assistance!

Thanks for reading, folks!








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