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"The Catnip of Fu Cat Choo"

A Flintloque Short Story by Roger Willcox

~|~

That nefarious villain, Fu Cat Choo, returns in this Valon spanning tale of kidnapping and skullduggery.

~

“Won`t you come into my parlour?” said the spider to the fly.*
“Do you think I`m stupid?” the fly said in reply.
Said the spider, “No, not really, but I thought it worth a try.”
Curiosity got the upper hand, the fly entered the trap!
The spider thought “Oh yummy!” the fly he thought “Oh poo!”**
The web was very sticky, the fly struggled to get free.
The spider only giggled, “Game, set and match to me!”
“But never count your chickens.” A wise Goblin monk did say. ***
As a giant feather duster it swept them all away.
“Yuk, I really hate spiders!” said the parlour maid. ****

* The spider`s name was Mildred and the fly was called Reggie.

** Actually he thought a different word that begins with C and rhymes with trap!

*** It was the wise old boggley eyed Goblin Buddyist Abbot of the Temple of the Little Yellow Idol to the North of Catmanpoo. (BONG!)

**** The parlour maid was Polly the Parlour Maid who works at Willorcs Hall. Obviously she did not know that killing a spider brings bad luck. Two minutes later she tripped over Jorcs who was having one of his naps in the parlour doorway and sprained her wrist. You will be pleased to know that once Nursie had applied a cold compress and I gave her my cocoa (and a ginger biccie!) she said that she felt a lot better. I told her to have the rest of the day off and have a little lie down.

~

Now, you may wonder what this has to do with that unscrupulous rotter Fu Cat Choo. Aha! Therein lays a tale from my youth when Harry Oliphaunt, my great friend and secretary, and I were on our travels to far off lands. Hey ho! It all started in Isstanbal, Ah, Isstanbal, gateway to the mystic Orient! Where Kairoh is hot and smelly Isstanbal is smelly and hot. Well, that`s a bit of an exaggeration. To be fair both cities have some very nice bits. I mean to say, if you are ever in Kairoh you just must, and I do mean must, visit the “Jewel in the Navel” (“Where Every Night is Tummy Dancing Night!”).

We had completed our mission and all was well. Sultan Sellheem the Magnificent was delighted with two more brides for his collection and vowed to help Mustapha Mone of Sudden in his war against the Mad Mahdi Mullah Milli Molli Mandi by sending troops including a company of his elite Janissaries.

Must say that I`m not sure how the Suddenese Princesses felt about it. The Sultan likes collecting Sultanas, no, not the tasty dried fruit that you find in cakes, I mean royal wives. His ambition is to have three hundred and sixty five, one for every day of the year. What he will do on leap years I do not know, maybe he`ll treat himself to an extra one?! Gosh think of all those birthday presies he`ll have to buy? I gather that every time he gets married the young lady is blindfolded then has to take a numbered ball out of a large box containing lots of balls. This she keeps because it is her unique number. When he first started collecting Sultanas there were three hundred and sixty five balls. Now, I gather, there are only about one hundred balls left.

Next, once she removes her blindfold, they look at the number and a calendar. So if she picks 1 let`s say, that would mean that she would be Sultana 1, wife Januorcy 1st. If she picked 365 she becomes Sultana 365, wife Dissemble 31st. As it worked out the princesses that we had escorted became Sultana Fatima 184, wife Julie 3rd and her sister Sultana Symrina 236, wife Orcgust 24th , which, by coincidence, is my birthday! Huzzah! Anyway, it appears that on the night of that date, the Sultana concerned er.. well I think you know what I mean so I won`t go into details.

When I told Xenophobia about it she did that thing that she always did when something was troubling her. She had a habit of slightly bowing her head, lowering her gaze and lightly biting her bottom lip. This could melt even the hardest of hearts. Anyway, she quietly asked me if I intended to take a second wife or possibly more. Obviously she found the idea upsetting, and I don`t blame her. It`s just not on! I mean to say! Well I did what any decent chap would do, I gave her a big hug and told her that as far as I was concerned she was my Princess number one, two, three and so on to three hundred and sixty six and wife every day of the year including leap years! “Why” I said, “would I want any more wives when I`ve got you?” I`ll skip the rest of what I said but I can say that this cheered her up a lot. This was followed by us both saying lots of soppy stuff and some nice cuddles, snuggles and huggles!

We said a fond farewell to Trevor the Sand Dancing Ferret and his bride, Queen Nefferretiti, wished Basha Pasha and Thingy the No Longer Even the Slightest Bit Seedy every success with their production of “Desert Despots”. We had been put up in the Sultan`s Topokapi Palace but didn`t want to overstay our welcome so my bride, the lovely Tummy Dancing Otter Princess Xenophobia of Palmolivyra and I took rooms in a very nice part of the city and sent a carrier vulture to instruct Harry, my old friend and secretary, to come and join us as soon as possible. The “Princess” in Xenaphobia`s name bit was a little bit of a fib, it had just been part of her act. Whoo hoo! And very distracting it is, tasteful, but distracting! Ahem. However, as a married Lady Otter, she now only performed for an audience of one. Me! Huzzah! However the Palmolivyra bit is true, she did come from that city in Syrupia.

Harry decided to travel by sea rather than face the dangers of the road across the sands of the Sohairi. He took passage on the East Valonman the “Compound Interest”. I gather that there were lots of tears from the beautiful Yasmina, the star Tummy Dancer at “The Jewel in the Navel” where, as we all know so all join in 1, 2, 3, go…“EVERY NIGHT IS TUMMY DANCING NIGHT!” Huzzah! She still sends him a jolly nice calendar from the “Jewel in the Navel” (Go on, you know it!) with coloured prints of the Tummy Dancers employed there. Hmm, all I get is a calendar from Stinky Sid the Night Soil King “Cesspits and Sewers of Shirewood”. Gosh! Not exactly in the same league is it?!

While we awaited his arrival we took in the sights. There`s the massive triple walls of Constantishopeful. That`s the old name of the city. “Why,” I hear you ask, “did they change it?” Why is Isstanbal not Constantishopeful? Why did Constantishopeful get the works? Because Constant`s generals were all jerks!”.

It`s true, In…er…ages ago, the Emperor Constant was hopeful that his generals could hold the walls against the Othari army of Sillyman the Magnificent. They couldn`t! Oops!

Actually it wasn`t the first name change. It was once known as Buysomtium. I wonder what they`ll call it next?

Then there`s the “Golden Horn”, a big trumpet made of gold which is in the Topokapi Palace.

Beneath the city are the massive fresh water cisterns and on a hill above it is the huge temple of Centaur Sofa. Don`t ask, I don`t know but it has something to do with a very Holy Centaur who needed to put his hooves up after a long pilgrimage or something along those lines.

We even had time to see the remains of the famous Rocking Horse of Troy which go right back to the times of Typhon! Who Troy was I don`t know, but it caused an awful lot of trouble. There was a chappie called Parish involved who fell for some lass called Helot who was married to a fellow called Manyalouse. Parish, or was it Troy, became her Troy boy and somewhere along the line she launched a thousand ships! Busy girl! Lots of other chappies turn up in the tale like Ahchillies, Hackedher, Aganenemy and Oddissues. Lots of fighting went on and there were lots of folk got killed. Gosh! All over a rocking horse!

I`ll have to be careful now because it would be easy to make this bit a trifle soppy.

CAUTION SOPPY BIT NOW.

Our rooms were very nice indeed. We had a terrace with a sea view and the cooling breeze from the sea that gave a slight tang of salt to the scent of jasmine, roses and citrus from the gardens below as the sun appeared to sink into the waves. Oh the romance of it all. As a result we did a lot of hand holding, gazing into each others` eyes and saying lots of soppy things to each other. I`ll leave it to your imagination.

END OF SOPPY BIT!

We had an excellent couple of hot and cold running Mameluke Halfling servants Idi and Biddi. The food was wonderful. Gosh even the kebabs (as they spell them in Isstanbal) were made from goat, lamb, chicken, fish or vegetables instead of donkey, camel or hippo. There was no sign of sprouts or dust anywhere on the menu! Huzzah! Life was, for the while, perfect.

It was during this, all too brief, period that I learned from Xenophobia that there was more than one style of Tummy Dancing. Gosh, to think, the nights that I had enjoyed watching the show at the “Jewel in the Navel” (Go for it! All together now….) without knowing this. Each has its own style of costume and movements. There is the Othari, the Arrabbican, the Aegyptian, the Gipsey, the Sohari, the Purrshahn, Threshlian and Circushion! Golly! Even better Xenophobia was adept at all of them! Erhem!

Little did I know that evil forces were at work. Down in the docks Otters and Kin Kon Goblins were transhipping bales marked “jute” from a junk from Chinn (as ships they can be rubbish, the junks that is, not the bales. Mind you I don`t think that bales make good ships either!) on to a Londinium bound merchant ship the “Home Pride” that had just unloaded sacks of wheat flour and barrels of Shirewood mushy peas. On the dock stood two figures, one short, bearded and stocky, the other tall and slim, his hands crossed enigmatically on his chest. In all Valon there were no two people who had brought so much suffering to more folk than these. Indigobeard and Fu Cat Choo!

Indigobeard, the Dwarf leader of the Chav tribe Burrberry Pirates. Worse than Bluebeard, but not as evil as Blackbeard, his tartan sash wearing corsairs, the sweepings of the worst of every dock in Urop, were a menace to shipping, their indigo sailed war galleys and dhows swooping on the unwary in search of loot, treasure and prisoners to ransom or sell as slaves. It would seem that this was how Xenophobia fell into their hands. She had been sold to a wealthy Chav big wig who had only just taken delivery of her when it was realised that, as the representative of King Gorge they had to give me a suitable gift. She, still in her wrapping carpet, was the best and nearest present available. One gathers that the wealthy Chav later said that he was a bit upset at losing, what was going to be his fifth wife (that`s why a Priest of Ozzysiris was there), ANYTHING was worth giving up to stop Basha Pasha`s Only Household Band playing! The thought sends shudders down my back. The idea of my Xenophobia being a slave and wife to a rich Chav that is, but the band`s playing comes a close second!

Fu Cat Choo, the powerful and evil Meaowderin Catman leader of the Zee Zee Tong, the strongest of all the secret criminal organisations in Aesha (and anywhere else). Its members, usually clad in black pyjamas, red headscarves and sashes all bear the double Z scar of a cat`s fangs, the “Zee Zee Fang”, as they call it. Fu Cat Choo`s long, gold sheathed fingers were dipped in all sorts of unsavoury dealings, slavery, vices of every kind, murder, theft, extortion, corruption, sprout trafficking and at the base of all this, catnip!

Catnip, the curse of Aesha, can be used as a medicine when highly diluted, but smoked or eaten it can bring on sleep, visions and hallucinations. It is also highly addictive. The Meaowderins of Chinn use it, in a mild form, for their own pleasure but, in a stronger form employ it to keep the peasants and workers, the Goblin “Cool Lees”, so named because of their seemingly relaxed manner and the fact that Lee is a common name amongst the Oriental Goblins.

Individually, these two were dangerous, but together, lethal! Indigo and Fu Cat Choo that is.

Of course I wasn`t there but I found out about it later. The Captain of the “Home Pride” a Halfling wearing a black suit and bowler hat by name of Fhred the Flower Grader (He was the top judge at dahlia shows in his spare time) came over to join them. One of two Goblin Cool Lees who were with the pair of evil masterminds handed the Halfling some paperwork who looked at it carefully,

“More jute,” he commented, “this will be my sixth load, obviously there`s a big market for string in Albion!” He signed the two copies, kept one and gave the other to the Goblin.

“We sail on the morning tide.” The Halfling informed the two villains and then returned to his ship.

(Bung.)

(You will notice the lower case letters, u instead of o and lack of an exclamation mark. This is because Fu Cat Choo`s official gong basher, Grasshopper, was using his small portable gong, which is only six inches in diameter, and a short wooden spoon to bas it with. The gong thus goes Bung, rather than the more usual BONG!)

“Ah….so…..purrfect!” The Catman purred.

“Aaaaaaarrrr!” answered the Dwarf pirate. “one hundred tons of prime quality Catnip disguised as jute an` the Cap`n don`t know a thing about it! Ahaaaaaaaaaarr har har! Shivver me timbers and other nautical type exclamations!”

(As we all know pirates always talk like this damn yer eyes! Now for a traditional pirate joke.

Captain Kidder: “Ahaarr and avast behind! Well matey, why be pirates, pirates?”

Captain Morganrum: “Aharr, I don`ts know, why be pirates, pirates?”

Captain Kidder: “Because we Aaaaaaaarrr!”

Both: “Aharrr ahaarr har har har! Laugh ye scurvy swabs or we`ll keelhaul the lot o` ye! Aharrr! Pass the rum wench!”

Yo ho ho!)

“Yes….” The Catman replied, “and at a Londinium street price of six pence an ounce that is….Bing Bong?” he chimed.

The Goblin who was not carrying a small gong stepped forward abacus in hand. There was a rattling of beads.

Clackety clack! Clunkety clunk! blankety blank!

“Oh mighty and esteemed Master that makes eight hundred and ninety six thousand Great Britorcan Pounds.”

The cat smiled. “Not bad, times that by six….”

There was a clattering of beads.

“Five hundred and seventy six thousand Great Britorcan Pounds Master.”

“Ah…soooo!” The Catman smiled inwardly, “Yes, I think that should suffice, six loads. Create a glut of Catnip to make it cheap then,” he made a chopping motion with his hand, “we restrict the supply! Yeeeeessss! Then street price go up, maybe charge one shilling an ounce. Stupid Orcs pay much! Ha ha ha!”

(Bung.)

The beads clattered again.

“One hundred and seventeen thousand two hundred pounds a load, oh most evilest of Evil Masterminds of all time.”

(Bung.)

They laughed!

“You not looking too happy at prospect of so much money. That unlike you my stout indigo bearded fellow conspirator friend. What wrong?” Fu enquired.

“Ahar! Well there be a fly in my ointment my perfectly inscrutable fellow in dastardlyness. Aharrrr!”

“Oh! I sure I got lots of ointments in secret lair below old warehouse on North dock, take your pick”.

“Oohaaarrr! No I don`ts mean literally. I`d have eaten the fly. No, this fly is an Orc by name o` Rogipoos, damn his eyes!”

“Rogipoos?!”

(Bung.)

“Aye, Rogipoos!” The Dwarf spat out as if he had swallowed a wasp. (Normally he finds eating wasps quite pleasant but he`d had a bad one the day before and it had put him off a bit!) “That landlubber swab `as something that`s rightly mine an` I intend to `ave it back!”

“Pray…continue…” Fu Cat Choo smiled, “this is….very interesting….”

“Aaar! Thar it be, I`d captured a Princess of Palmolivyra, a Xenophobia, fine lookin` Otter if there ever was. Anyways, I made a deal with the Bey o` Guzzler who was goin` to buy her as his fifth wife. Ant how, before he`d even unrolled her from the wrapping carpet, let alone married her, he gives her to this Albionorc called Rogipoos as a gift in order to stop that ruddy awful band o` Basha Pashas”, (their fame spreads rapidly!) “from coming within earshot o` any Burberry city, an` he reckons that as this was done to protect ALL the ports on the Burberry Coast he wants a free replacement or his money back! Yo ho grrrr!”
“Ah…so! Must be very upsetting.”

“Well `tweren`t too bad. I just bit the legs off a bird eating spider to take me mind off it ooh aaaaarh! `Tis the principal. `tain`t good fer business! A deal`s a deal.”
Fu looked a trifle perplexed.

“Ah…so…Not much meat on the legs of a bird even if it is eating a spider at the time.”

“Oi! Who you callin` an Ah so? I mean that was the type o` spider that I bit the legs off, swallowed the rest o` him whole. Down in one with a pint o` Mudearache wine.”

“Ah… I mean , so sorry, not call you an ah so, just pondering situation. Slight….misunderstanding. We of Chinn often leave out words like the and a , it adds to our air of…inscrutableness.”

“Oh, that be all right me old mucker! Thing that REALLY gets me is this Rogipoos is swannin` around town with the Tummy Dancer who, by rights, should be the fifth wife of the Bey o` Guzzler. He`s even married her!

ow, of course, I could try to buy her off him, but that would be bad for my piratical, aharr, image. I could try to kidnap her, but then the Bey won`t want her because, damn his eyes, she and that Albionish landlubber have almost certainly done…er…well…er…well you know…er …what ye are supposed to do the night you get married. You know.”

“Ah…so…yes…smoke catnip, play with ball of wool and then go sleep?”

“Ney, ye daft Cat! Yer…Oooooooh! Ye has yer wicked way with her don`t ye?!”

“You do? Ah……so!”

The Catman pondered for a while then, raising a finger tipped with a sharp gold covered claw. He spoke.

“Ah….so…..I see way here of sorting out problem to both of our advantages!” he purred in that self satisfied way that only an evil Catman genius can.

“It would, I think, be”, he paused, “advantageous to both of us if Rogipoos out of the way on a permanent basis, yes?

“Oooh Arr!” the Pirate chief grinned, “most definitely! Aharr!”

“Leave it with me! Now, I go play with toy mouse then I plan most evil scheme!”

(Bung.)

Now, while all this was going on Xenophobia and myself were enjoying the premier performance of “Desert Despots” which was, to say the least, spiffing! Afterwards we returned to our lodgings little knowing that, in the shadows lurked hidden danger. I remember it was as we turned the corner of “The Street of a Thousand Djelli Babies” a hooded figure darted out from the darkness. I caught the gleam of a knife. Pushing my wife to the rear I parried the assassin`s knife thrust with my cane. Ahah! My attacker had not expected to face a master of the gentleorcly art of Bartitsu, which, as you all know, is the art of dealing with undesirables using nothing more than a walking stick and a cool head!

Deftly I flicked my cane with a swift twist of my wrist bring it sharply down to give a sharp blow to the bounder`s thumb, this caused his hand to flex open and drop the knife. A jerk upwards connected the end of my stick to strike beneath his lower jaw, snapping it into the upper with a nasty clack of breaking teeth! A smart jab to the stomach winded him making him double up gasping for breath. A solid bash to the back of the head knocked him cold. Harrrumph!

I turned, expecting to see my wife, but, no. Apart from myself and an unconscious Otter, the street was deserted! I looked about, on the ground lay the shawl that she had been wearing that evening. Curses! The attack had obviously been to distract me! It was not I who was the real target, but my darling Xenophobia! I looked at the fallen Otter who was now beginning to come to. I plucked up his knife and pushed him onto his back. That`s when I saw the beige black and red tartan sash of the Burberry Pirates at his waist. This was not looking good.

I grabbed him by the lapels of his waistcoat and shoved his back to the wall of a shop. I looked straight into his eyes and, in a tone which suggested that I meant business asked,

“Do you intend to have children some day?”

The Otter, his eyes wide in fear, nodded.

“Well,” I growled, “if that`s so, you had better tell me what`s going on pretty quick or something very unpleasant is going to happen. Right?”

His head started nodding in a very encouraging manner, rather like the life size pottery figures of Chinnese Meaowdarins that King Gorge has in his, somewhat exotic, pavilion at Righton. His Majesty regularly talks to them and says that he finds them very cooperative! It`s usually about string, the jute market or the colour grey. His Majesty assures me that there are fifty shades of grey and loves to relate them. This is fine unless one is in a hurry, so, if you are visiting the Righton Pavilion, it is useful if you can impersonate a Meaowderin accent and throw your voice so that His Royal Obesity thinks that the statue has asked “Your Majesty, how many shades of grey do you think there are. Thus He will enter a... ahem “lively discussion” on the subject with the nearest nodding statue and you can go about your business!

Certainly my new “friend” was most helpful and communicative. I soon learned all about the plot to flood Albion with catnip, but why did they want Xenophobia? He informed me that Indigobeard intended to sell her to the highest bidder in the slave market which is held every Satorcday in order to purchase another, as of yet…er…well you know, young lady to replace the one ( ie Xenophobia) that the Bay of Guzzler had given to me. He added that if Indigobeard couldn`t get his reserve price on my good lady he intended to take her on a one way trip to the seabed with lead boots on! The swine!

In the meantime Xenophobia was being held in Fu Cat Choo`s top secret lair beneath the old warehouse on the North dock.

Hmm! Satorcday, it was Whensthey night, so that gave me two days. Somehow this all sounded a little too easy. Hmmmm! Fu would probably expect me to go storming across to the North dock immediately. However, he might expect me to go home and prepare a plan to execute on either Thirstday or Friedday. Decisions, decisions! I needed to think, and, a drink!

I decided to encourage the Chav pirate to have a nap with a swift bop on the head with my stick before making my way back to the cabaret where I had left Basha Pasha and some of the cast of “Desert Despots” who were celebrating their successful first night. I discussed the situation with the, now rather merry, Pasha. Interestingly his success seemed to have restored his self confidence and, he tried to be as helpful as he could, but as he put it he “Was never terribly good with military operations. I returned to my rooms still unresolved. I changed into garb that was more suitable for what I had in mind, stuffed a pistol into my belt and buckled on my sword and pocketed my favourite cosh and knuckleduster. Finally, to show that I really meant business I slipped my feet into my best fighting slippers. Oh yes, they may look like ordinary black fur bunny slippers, but they don’t often have steel toecaps!

As I bent to put them on there was a thud. I looked up to see an arrow sticking out of the wardrobe door. Hmm! I should have shut the window!

“The bounder!” I thought, “That is no way to treat a very fine example of Otterman furniture! Around the shaft was tied a paper, I untied it and read.

“Rogipoos, I have the pleasure of entertaining your most lovely and interesting bride. Doubtless you already know this from my agent who is at this moment discovering that it is somewhat difficult to swim when you have an anvil fastened to a chain around your ankles. I guessed that you would defeat and interrogate Abu Stabyu but I have a reputation to maintain. Anyway it is good for my other minions to have one of them….disposed of….from time to time. Fear not, your very beautiful and intelligent lady has come to no harm….yet! She is sleeping now, number one daughter Lotus Flower has administered a very tiny dose of tincture of Catnip in a cup of tea, not enough to be addictive, but enough to bring a nice, pleasant dream filled, sleep. Please bring no weapons, that would not be very nice of you and I would hate to have to do anything unpleasant to your very sweet wife. Come, as soon as possible, to my top secret lair under the old warehouse on the North dock. Knock twice and give the password ….ah…so…how fitting, “desert despots”. Have a nice day! Fu Cat Choo.”

The mountebank! I knew that it was a trap and that Fu Cat Choo could be trusted as far as one could trust an arthritic basilisk. What could I do? I put my sword, pistol, brass knuckles and cosh away and left.

I didn`t get far. There was a sharp sting as a blowpipe dart struck the back of my neck. Everything went all wibbley wobbley, especially my knees and I knew no more. Well, not exactly, after an initial darkness I found myself back at Willorcs Hall playing marbles in the ball room with Harry who, for some reason was a six foot tall talking carrot. Jorcs was dancing a jig with Polly the Parlourmaid and outside the scary trees in the park were singing “desert despots!” What is it about that song that is so catchy?

I awoke with a headache that felt like Basha Pasha`s Only Household Band and every gong basher in Aesha were playing the same tune but with the notes in a different order inside my skull.

(BONG!)

“Oh Grasshopper, that was not very nice bashing gong when our guest has a headache!” Fu Cat Choo gloated.

“A mild dose of tincture of Catnip. Enough to give you a, very nasty,” He was obviously enjoying my predicament, “headache”.

“Ow! A little less noise please?” I requested.

“Your wife is well, she was not given as much Catnip as you.” He grinned. “At the moment she is comfortably locked in a very comfortable room. I mean that, no chains, rats none of the fun things, but, c`est la vie!”
I guessed that, for once at least, he was telling the truth. However this was not helping my headache. Nor was it making my position any more comfortable. I was bound at the wrists and ankles, on my knees with my posterior stuck in the air! I became aware of a hand gently touching that, erhem, part of my anatomy. That was not on! A chap`s bot bot is not there to be fondled by anybody but his good lady!

“Oh father, he is soooo handsome, please, give him to me.” A familiar Catlady voice purred. It was Lotus Flower! Lotus Flower, possibly the most tempting and seductive Kitty this side of Peekaboo, and probably the other side of it as well. There was, however, a down side. If you fell for her, nor inconsiderable charms, once she tired of you, that was it. I am told that her knowledge of poisonous substances and interesting ways of utilising them could fill library!

“No, number one daughter,” her father replied, “You always get rid of them so soon! How am I going to find you a nice evil, although not as evil as me, genius to marry if he is going to suspect everything that you give him to eat or drink?”

“Oh father, that is not fair! Last one lasted three whole weeks and I used a blowpipe dart! I am sure that cute Orc Rogipoos would much rather have me than that Tummy Dancer!”

“Hah!” I replied, “Unhand my posterior and apologise immediately you…you…you…nasty Cat!”

“Oooooh!” she cooed, “Did Lotus Flower upset Rogipoos? Ooh dear! What a naughty cat I am! Father, I hope that you will chastise this…Orc..” she continued in a tone of contempt. “Hah! I go smoke catnip and have nice nap. I am sure that father has a very suitable end for YOU!”

Well at least she had removed her hand from my backside!

“Ah….so….Now what to do with you Rogipoos?”

(BONG!)

I managed to wriggle out of my, far from comfortable, posture to a kneeling one. My head had, thankfully, cleared.

“Um! How about freeing Xenophobia and myself? That would be a very nice thing to do. I`m sure that under that inscrutable exterior is actually a big softie at heart.”

“NEVER! Nobody ever accuses Fu Cat Choo of being big softie!”

“Not even a teensie-weensie bit?”

“No, not even teensie-weensie bit!”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes! So there!”

Ah well it had been worth a try. I guessed what was going to happen next, first, he would gloat and brag, (All supervillains love to do this), then he would set up a long, lingering and painful end for me. However just as he was about to begin, I couldn`t resist a quick dig!

“Ah Fu, old chap, your magnificent criminal organisation, has eyes and ears everywhere I gather?”

He liked that, evil geniuses love to be flattered.

“Indeed.”

“So there is nothing, really, that you don`t know about?”

“Correct.”

He smiled smugly.

“Are you acquainted with the works of Lady Sarorc Willorcs?”

“Oh yes, “Pride and Prune Juice” one of my favourites. Oh so sad when heroine`s aged father dies. Oh, terrible, I cried.”

“Ah ha! Softie! Fu is a softie, Fu is a softie!” I chanted.

“No I never say that! Hah! I laugh at that bit!”

“Too late chum! Fu is a softie! Fu is a softie!”

“Grasshopper! Bing Bong! You never heard what I said a few seconds ago! Hah! I was going to gloat and boast, but I not in mood now!” he sulked.

“Oh, sorry, I didn`t mean to hurt your feelings.” I replied in a sympathetic sort of way, “No, I shouldn`t have teased. I know that you really are a great big rough, tough evil genius.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. Come on, undo these ropes and we`ll have a big, macho, team building type hug!”

He sniffed and, using a razor sharp claw began to cut the binding on my wrists.

“WHAT AM I DOING?!” the Cat screamed in alarm! “YOU DO IT AGAIN! YOU ALWAYS DOING IT! NOW I LOOK STUPID IDIOT!”

“Darn it!” I thought, “nearly succeeded, almost got him around the course and he refuses at the final jump! Haaaaarrumph!”

“BING BONG! GRASSHOPPER! YOU ERASE ALL THIS FROM MIND OR I LOOK FOR NEW ACCOUNTANT AND GONG BASHER!”

The cat was shaking his head.

“I really don`t believe it! Some days being the most evil of evil geniuses…………” He raved.

“Ahem, that should be genii!” I added.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!” Fu Cat Choo roared, then he slumped to the floor hammering his fists on the ground and kicking his feet about.

“IT JUST NOT FAIR!” he ranted, collapsing in floods of tears.

I looked around, from the shelter of a very large gong, a pair of puzzled looking goblins blinked and tried not to laugh. In the doorway was an equally confused Lotus Flower with, interestingly enough, my darling wife. At least she was all right which was good. Less pleasing was the dagger in the Kitty`s hand!

Pushing Xenophobia away an angry Lotus Flower demanded, “What have you done to my father?!”

“Um! Nothing really,” I said innocently, “he sort of brought it on himself. Probably a bit too much stress”, I added.

The timing could not have been better. Always one with an eye to nice things, Xenophobia had taken hold of a large, ornate and probably priceless, Ping Dynasty vase which suddenly suffered an amazingly fast drop in value as in connected with Lotus Flower`s head!

Bash! Huzzah!

Picking up the dagger Xenophobia cut my bonds as, from elsewhere in the building, came the overture to “Desert Despots” and bangs and crashes as a complete theatrical troop burst into the place waving swords in their hands and bouncing about as if they were riding invisible horses. I don`t know what they did to Fu`s guards, but thy certainly frightened me!

“Hey! Pretty Lady!” they sang defiantly! At their head Basha Pasha looked triumphant whilst Mister No Longer the Seedy was organising the round up of prisoners.

“Aha!” The Pasha cried, “no fear, got it all organised! The chorus line have taken control of the “Home Pride” Huzzah!”

“Well, well, well!” I thought.

“I thought about the situation and decided to look at it as a theatrical production! No problem. Got Thingy the no longer seedy to follow you. All is under control, `cos we`ve got Despot style!” Basha laughed.
You had to admit that, indeed, Basha Pasha had style!

“Well done old friend.” I clapped him on the shoulder.

“There`s loads of sacks marked “jute” in the warehouse” he continued, “I presume that they actually contain catnip.”

“I think you might be correct in that.” I replied.

Meanwhile I noticed that Xenophobia was standing keeping a close eye on Lotus Flower and her prostrate, blubbering, father.

“Sniff! Valon, boo-hoo, will, sniff, hear from me, boo-hoo, again. sob!” he said in a rather subdued manner. I had a feeling that this was so. Evil genii have a habit of doing that!

“What about Indigobeard?” I enquired.

“Not a sign, but I gather that a dhow left harbour pretty pronto about an hour ago and I have a strong inkling that a certain Dwarf was at the helm.” My Suddenese friend replied.

It wasn`t long before a company of Jannisaries arrived and took charge of our captives. Lotus Flower looked distinctly peeved as one of them put handcuffs on her.

“Father!” she shouted angrily, “Do something!”

Fu Cat Choo seemed incapable of doing anything as he meekly allowed himself to be manacled. Talk about a turn up for the books! He muttered “Valon will hear from me again, Valon will hear from me again,” over and over again.

“I am Meaowderin Lady, take your hands off me, release me this instant peasant!” Lotus Flower demanded, “I demand to see the Sultan THIS INSTANT!”

The elite Otter soldier just smiled and continued to push her towards a cage cart that was parked outside.

“Save it for the Judge, Kitty.” he replied calmly. She tossed her head defiantly.

Basha Pasha nudged me,

“Amazing how a couple of free show tickets can get the Captain of the City Night Guard on your side.” He grinned.

“Definitely, despot style.” I laughed. I turned to Xenophobia and extended my hand.

“Heeeey, pretty lady.” I sang, “Home for tea and snuggles?”

She smiled in a manner that left me in little doubt.

“Pity about that vase.” She mused.

“Oh probably got it from Pud Dee Tat, ten a penny I`d bet.”

So that was that, or so I thought. Fu Cat Choo was sentenced to one thousand years in the darkest, dampest, smelliest dungeon beneath the Topokapi Palace, Lotus Flower offered to become Sultana Lotus Flower with whatever number and date she would pick in an attempt to get out of trouble. The Sultan, quite wisely and on good information, to pass on that delight. I hear she had a supreme fit of miffedyitis when she heard that he had turned her down. As it was a few days later the door to her cell was found open and a dead guard was slumped on her bed with a tiny scratch mark on his neck. He was found to have been poisoned. Surprise, surprise! As I suspected a few days later Fu Cat Choo had, miraculously disappeared leaving, “VALON WILL HEAR FROM ME AGAIN!” in bold writing on the dungeon wall. Hey ho!

As for Fred the Flower Grader, he was found not guilty and decided that the sea wasn`t for him and set up a flower shop in Isstanbal which is renowned for it`s dahlias.

Basha Pasha? Well he and his “Desert Despots” the band and the troops loaned to him made their way back across the Sohairi, performing for one night only at each caravanserai. With his new found confidence, and a force that knew how to march, fight, sing and dance soon became known as Mad Mahdi Masher, Basha Pasha Battle Dancer! Even the mere sight of his Otters doing their ancient “Despot Style” war dance and the cry “Heeeey Pretty Lady!” was enough to strike panic in the ranks of Mad Mahdi Milli Molli Mandi`s army. With the return of peace to the Sudden he was able to do what he did best, write great musical entertainments! With Achmed aka Abdul, now known as, Thingie the Impresario doing all the organisation they were unstoppable.

Harry arrived two days after all the excitement. He blushed when Xenophobia told him that I had told her all about him. Huzzah! After a week or so we decided that, as Cryptmas was coming that there was only one place to spend it. Yes we took ship and the boat to Kairoh where we were able to rent our old lodgings. I popped in to see Mister Pud Dee Tat`s Antiquities shop where, for a modest sum, I was able to purchase a very rare and valuable genuine Ping Dynasty Vase exactly like the one that was in Fu Cat Choo`s warehouse headquarters. Good value, unique, Mister Tat said, hmmm, a snip at only a hundred Dinnars, I gave it to Xenophobia as a Cryptmas present. I think that must be one of the best Cryptmasses that I have ever enjoyed. Ah, but there again at the “Jewel in the Navel” where Cryptmas Night is Tummy Dancing Night! But so is every night but Cryptmas? That`s a special one! Huzzah!

So, a Happy Cryptmas to Notables everywhere from all of us at Willorcs Hall! There is so much to do! Huzzah! We wish you all the cocoa, ginger biccies, pressies, armadillos, snuggles and everything else that makes Cryptmas so special!

Huzzah for Cryptmas!

Uncle Rogipoos.

~

Fu Cat Choo Will Return in 2013!

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Author's Note

All perilous plots and devious dealings were the work of Fu Cat Choo and Indigobeard, not Roger Willcox as you might have been led to believe by the title. He is a jolly nice chap and couldn`t ever imagine anything like that at all.

All days of the week and months of the year are as used in Shirewood. I recommend “Thomas Crook`s Travellers` Guide to Shirewood” for further details.

A huggle, a Shirewood collective noun for a group of cuddly toys (or a cuddle).

Many thanks to Lady Alisorc for sorting out your Uncle`s awful spelling and stuff.

~

Webmaster's Notes

An Orcs in the Webbe Original! "The Catnip of Fu Cat Choo" was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and published on Thursday 6th December 2012 as part of the 2012 Advent Calendar