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The Drowsing Dame

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It was election season in the fine city of Neverwood -- What state? What do I know or care? I'm a cat. I'm here to tell a story, not give a geography lesson -- so Admiral Clintstock was going out to press the flesh. Mostly rich flesh, because donations kept the machine going, and his favours brought them in.

Tonight we were dining at the home of a couple I shall refer to as Mr. and Mrs. Rich, who were rich and not much else, at least when it came to having an ounce of decency to one's common man. Their home was their castle, literally. One of those relics of a bygone era before this Chat Botté was roaming the streets.

The Admiral had brought along the lovely daughter and the idiot son-in-law, who also happened to be my human. I came along because no one thought to stop me and there was guaranteed to be some nice table scraps.

Maybe even a tiny plate for me, if the Riches were into it.

It was a good night to be inside buttering people up for donations. The wind outside was howling like a hungry dog, which made the fine food inside that much finer to dine on.

Right now Mr. Rich was going on about the castle's history. A real bore, until he mentioned the sleeping dame in the guest room.

"Oh yes," breathed Mrs. Rich. "A real princess. Doomed to sleep forever."

My ears perked.

"No castle," said Mr. Rich through his nose, "is worth its salt without at least one member of cursed royalty on the grounds."

I didn't really get into Admiral Clintstock Juniouress last time we met, so let me tell you this about her: She's a soft touch. She has to be, or she wouldn't have ever bothered with my human.

And she was not liking this discovery.

"You mean, she's never going to wake up?" she asked, a frown crossing her pretty little face.

"There was some goings on about true love's kiss," admitted Mr. Rich, "but you can't hardly advertise about that sort of thing without getting all the wrong sort dropping by, now can you? Stop your worries. She brings quite a touch of class to the place." He gave quite the look at the Admiral, to rein in his kid.

I wondered if Miss Princess snored.

The Admiral hushed his daughter. It didn't do to tell your contributors that they might be committing some sort of human rights crime. But she wasn't having anything of it.

She grabbed my human's arm and said: "Dear, you have to help her!"

The stupid kid looked like a deer about to be run down by a truck. We'd never broken it to her that he wasn't a great detective and that he relied on one swell puss, IE me and my little boots, to do his work. The Admiral had pretty much guessed, but was polite enough not to bring it up. He liked my human, since he stayed put and kept his mouth shut. Everything a man likes in a son-in-law.

"Honey..." my human wavered. Then her face got the Look. And we both knew fear. If he was on the outs with the Mrs, that meant I was on the outs with fresh 'nip, sleeping on the best cushions, and no fish filets every night for dinner.

I casually reached out a paw and clawed him hard on the knee. It was our signal for 'Do whatever they say, I'll handle it,' and also a good way to keep one's claws sharp.

"O-of course, dear. Anything," he said, biting his lip from the pain. I could see a few red dots starting to stain his pants. Oops. Too hard.

I licked my claws clean and considered my options. One, I stayed with the humans to make sure my particular human didn’t promise anything else to his wife he couldn’t follow up on. Two, I went for a walk.

I went for a walk, of course. I’m a cat. We wander. It’s our thing.

So I wandered, up the stairs, and up some more stairs, and finally up some things that barely qualified as stairs they were so steep, till I found the door.

I could tell it was the right one, due to the stink of fairy magic coming from inside. It was nothing like an ogre, but this cat does not like magic stinking up his olfactory. I really was getting tired of running into magic everywhere my human’s power-hungry father-in-law took us.

The door wasn’t latched properly, so a bit of pushing from my forepaws, and it eased open. I sauntered in and glanced around. Not too much of interest, besides the bed. The whole thing looked a lot like one of those displays they have at department stores, only the mannequin in the bed was a live human.

So I jumped up to the bed and made sure she was really asleep. You know, for investigative purposes. I patted her face, and lightly clawed her arm, and groomed her eyebrows, and finally just stared at her from her chest for a while.

Not a peep. She didn’t even shift position. That, my friends, was a seriously asleep woman.

There was one bit of strangeness, around one of the fingers on her right hand. I examined it pretty closely before I determined it was some kind of spine or thorn. Something sharp. I managed to groom it out and spat it into my paw to look at again.

A needle of some kind, broken off into her hand. Huh. And the fairy magic was concentrated around it.

I tried waking the girl again, once the needle bit was safely in my bag -- my old man may he rest in peace had gotten it custom made for me -- but still no dice. Fine. I made my way back downstairs and gorged myself on smoked salmon and lightly charred tuna, along with all the chicken scraps I could manage. The Riches had given me a tiny plate of my own, and one lowly servant whose task was to keep it full. Bless their blackened little hearts.

So after dinner, the humans went home. I went too, but I left again after a short four or five hour nap to let all that deliciousness digest. Then I went looking for some answers.

You might be thinking, “Okay, so this is one damn cool cat. But how in the hell does a cat know what magic smells like?” And that’s a valid question. I’ll tell you.

See, back when my first human, who we will call the old man and my current human’s father, was alive, we did a lot of cases involving missing kids. Sometimes the father stole them. Sometimes it was the mother. It was usually a family member, anyway, and the couple was divorced and fighting over custody and/or child support. You know the drill.

But there was this one case. The wife was completely in love with her husband, her husband was completely in love with her. (They smelled so strongly of one another from their laps it was almost embarrassing). They both adored their son. But he’d gone missing, and they had no idea where.

Not strictly true, of course, but that was their story when we spoke to them together. When my human got them apart, the wife burst into tears and told him about this deal she made to win her husband’s heart, and how she’d promised their child to the guy who helped her, because she was a lovesick blockhead. And she couldn’t tell us his name, because that was the problem. The wife had to guess the guy’s name before he’d give back the kid. Three guesses, she had, or she’d lose their son forever. And she had no frigging clue what the guy was called.

To cut a long story short, we got her the name, she got the kid, and that family lived happily ever after. Or so they claimed. Whatever. They’re not my humans, what do I care? But the point is, that’s when I met Rumples.

Rumples (that’s not his real name, or at least, not all of it. Hey, the guy makes deals for kids in exchange for his name. We’re kind of friends now, so unless I’m paid to, I don’t screw that up for him anymore. It's not like he drowns them in barrels, which is a step up from how humans treat kittens) lived in this awful little warehouse by the river. It helped mask his scent from other magic things, but it didn’t phase me one bit. And yeah, Rumples was as magic as they come. Some sort of gobliny-brownie type. A pretty low totem fairy type, anyway. So I knew he would know what the hell was up with the sleeping beauty in the tower.

Off I slinked to go consult him. I wasn't too worried. Rumples isn't so bad, except for the kid habit.

I let myself in through the window, and jumped onto Rumples’s chest with all my claws out.

Then I jumped really far out of reach. Rumples came up swinging with a roar, and didn’t even manage to catch my tail. I smirked and licked my paw to clean my ear. “Morning, Rumples,” I mewed.

“Dammit, Puss,” Rumples growled in return, rubbing his eyes. “I just got to bed. Been spinning for that little chicky you told me about last time. Her ‘beloved’ is a real piece of work. She's gonna wish that she asked for the rights to the gold when she finds out about his gambling habit.”

“Not my problem,” I meowed, and jumped up to show him the needle. His face went frozen, then blank and then an odd shade of green. Interesting. “You wanna tell me what you know?”

“No,” he said sourly, but he started spilling his guts just the same. Some long sob-story about a princess from a couple hundred years ago, and an evil fairy who got snubbed and gave one hell of a bitter gift in return. Only the interference of her colleagues had kept the happy family from having a dead baby on their hands. But eighteen and then a hundred and some years later...

“She’s still around, making sure the girl sleeps forever. I guess she’s had to kill three or four princes who’ve come to save the sleeper. But now, since there aren’t so many princes anymore, she’s pretty safe. Tell you the truth, I think she might be getting bored. But don’t underestimate her, Puss. You’ll end up someone else’s boots if you mess with the wrong fairy.”

I acted unconcerned, partly because I was, but partly because you don’t show former enemies fear, and Rumples snorted and told me where to find her. “Spends her nights drinking away her bad deeds and coming up with new ones. She wears green, and she’s got this hat that makes her look like she’s got horns. It’s so passe.” Fashion advice from a goblin in a hat that looked like a cow sat on it.

“Thanks,” I purred. I fled, tail held high in triumph.

Armed with some more knowledge, I went looked for the fairy he’d told me after. Mal- something. Whatever. Like I care about any names but mine.

She wasn’t hard to find, not with me holding onto a piece of one of her spells. I just followed my nose again, like in the ogre case.

She wasn't in a place any respectable fairy should be, but from what I heard, there wasn't anything respectable about her.

It was a little speakeasy downtown, one of those holes in the wall that only slings booze to those in the know. But when you can fit through even the small windows, every place is your palace.

The place was mostly empty, except for a bartender who looked like his worst nightmare was down at the end of the bar -- and it was, but I'll get to that once I've filled you in on the atmosphere -- and the usual bunch of ne'er do wells. Flappers looking for a bit of excitement, rich boys who thought they were above the law. Further on? The more sinister sorts who'd be happy to relieve the rich boys of their money. Not my problem. Not my mice, not my cheese.

Anyway. The nightmare. Mal-whatever, in the flesh at the end of the bar.

I strutted up to the green dame, the one with the horns, and hopped lightly on the chair in front of her. Nasty look on her face and a sidecar in her hand. Just like good old Rumples had told me she'd taken to doing each night. Repeatedly. Fairy constitution wasn't much good when faced with a constant cognac onslaught. Oh, the decline of magic these days could just about break your heart. Really.

I'd comment on the stink of fairy magic around her, which smelled like how a daffodil farts, but there's no need to get into that.

She barely glanced at me. Didn't stop me from staring. A cat may look at a king, which as far as I cared meant a cat may also eyeball a wicked fairy. She was a real classic. She looked like she went around cursing babies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I took the loaf position. I negotiated best en loaf.

"What's it to you to let the girl wake up," I purred. "And don't try to play me. You know which girl. The 'one that got away.'"

She looked at me full on. It wasn't a friendly look.

"What's a cat like you doing in boots like those?" Helluva voice to come out of something with two legs. It was like a long cold dark night you were never ever gonna wake up from. The hair along my back stiffened up all involuntary.

She leaned down and stroked a finger down from my head to my tail. Her nail was more like a claw. It took every fiber of my being not to take a round out of her with my teeth. Not only was that bad for interviewing, you never knew what you'd catch if you bit a fairy.

The old man, on the Rumples case, he told me to keep it reined in around the old goblin. He didn't want me dropping diamonds and toads in the litterbox. Said I was hard enough to clean up after as it was. I miss him sometimes. He gave a good ear rub.

Which, getting back to my current experience, Mal-whatever did not. Her finger was like a goose walking over my grave.

"Good kitty," she said in that voice of hers. My ears flattened.

She pulled back her hand, laughing. "Now why do you want to help her? What could they possibly give a selfish little thing like a cat?"

I wasn't about to tell her it was for family harmony. What I knew about this piece of work meant I'd come home to a pair of statues, and a toad that looked a lot like the Admiral. I started grooming my paw, but I couldn't make my ears stand up again. Not around her.

"I got my reasons," I meowed lowly, just this side of a hiss. "What's your price? Name it."

"It's personal, puddy tat. Now go off and chase some mice."

I did my best disdainful sniff and eyeballed her table. That wasn't her first sidecar of the evening. And a fairy in decline, well, she's got nice long evenings.

It was time to find out where the fairy rested her head. Maybe there was something a clever kitty like yours truly could use.

I gave a good long stretch, because even something that scared the Bast out of me wasn’t going to tell me what to do. Then I hopped off the chair and left.

In case she thought to take a gander, I took the long way, heading towards the offices midtown. Nowhere near where my (and the stupid kid's, too, I suppose) office was, but general office-heading. Then I ducked under a fence and made as if to disappear into the night.

In reality, I went searching for her bed. Or coffin. You know, whatever. I can sleep on a three inch fence, I’m not one to judge.

I say searched, but it was more following my nose. Hunting for the older, stronger scents. A few sniffs in the alleyways around the speakeasy put me on the right track.

It wasn't easy following a trail like I was some sort of canine, but I was following a distinct je ne sais quoi which stood out from the pollution and smell of humanity. I had to backtrack twice, once because the path led past one nasty piece of doberman, before I found her digs.

It wasn't the best night to play bloodhound in cat's clothing. The winds were high and the skies were low and grey, threatening rain. But I had a job and if I quit when the weather went bad, Bill's old man would turn in his grave.

At least she lived uptown, which wasn't too far from where I started. Pretty nice digs, too. Not that far from the Riches. That figured. I let myself in through an open window, and went looking till I found the room that served as a fairy's bedroom, all the way up on her third floor, too.

The room she slept in most frequently was dark and frankly smelled like a dying garden. There were more empty glasses here, and a few plates with rotten food. Great. As if the not-quite-right flower smell wasn't bad enough. Not much actually in evidence, though. I guess fairies don’t have to eat as often as humans.

There was something a little odd, though. A spinning wheel. One of those old fashioned ones, but covered in dust and looking like too strong a breeze would blow it to pieces.

Except for the spindle, where the spun thread went. That was still conspicuously shiny. Except for the very tip of it, which was missing.

I checked my bag. Yeah, I had the missing piece right there. But what to do about it? That was the question. I heard a rattling somewhere in the vicinity of the boudoir, but I'd found what I came for, and how long could Mal-whatever spend at that speakeasy?

The smell was getting to me -- fairies are so sickly sweet it makes you want to toss a hairball, even the nasty ones -- so I made my way outside the house and went to have a think. And a bath, because the odor stuck in my fur was enough to kill any fleas I might have had, if Admiral Clintstock Juniouress had let any such things get near me. She didn’t, though. She wasn’t bad, for a human. Not like the stupid kid I got stuck with when my proper human died.

She could give you a full on petting that was heavenly, and she was free with the fish. I think her name was actually Beatrice or some human thing like that.

I found her in the library and settled into her lap to think.

"Oh, sweetie, were you rolling in a garden?" said the lady of the house as she gave me a heck of a good rub, scratching me just right at the base of my tail. I rewarded her with a real, deep soul purring. "It's good to see you. It's been lonely here with Bill out trying to solve how to help that poor girl. You know, that house really belongs to her? I hope he wakes her up and she kicks those horrible people out. I don't care what daddy says about people like that being his most important constituents."

Whatever the lady wanted, the lady got if she kept petting me like that.

Stupid Kid, or Bill, was actually just off spinning his wheels in his old man's, now ours, office. Out of the way and out of sight like I liked him. He said he'd taken up reading self help books. Whatever, at least they weren't heartwarming tales of dog ownership.

But back to the important part of this story: Me. I rolled over so she could get my stomach, too. Okay, the tummy rubs- look. A cat has needs, okay? Sometimes, you just gotta have ‘em.

Anyway, back to the case. I had a needle that went to the spindle of a wheel in a majorly evil fairy’s house. I had a sleeping dame with no way to wake her up.

And I had that noise in the fairy’s room, the one I hadn’t investigated. Huh. Maybe that would be something to look into.

Later. After Mrs. Kid finished rubbing me and telling me how handsome I was.

It was well into the next morning before I got down to business. The stupid kid made his excuses about following a lead and we walked to the library. I needed his hands. For a thing. I've got a lot of skills, but opposable thumbs big enough to handle a book ain't one of them. I was a bit of a mutant, but that was because I came from a close knit group of ferals and if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth good and shut about your opinion of my pedigree.

The Who's Who books of hoity toities were easy enough to find in the library, but I had my eye out for a specific volume of good solid facts. I walked back and forth down the shelves, my swank boots clumping in the silence of the library. Who has time to read these days? No one in this city, apparently. The library was as empty as my capacity to care if I was disturbing any of the patrons.

Then I spotted it, just as the stupid kid was drifting off at the table. I got up onto my hind legs and started patting at the volume, then yowled to get my human's attention. I didn't have time for this. I was a busy cat.

The kid startled to attention, like the fine example of a detective he was pretending to be (wouldn't his old man be so proud), and picked the book up for me.

"'The Fairy Godmother Directory.'" He turned the book over in his hands, like it was going to tell him the answer he should have figured it already.

"Yeah. Sit. Put the book down and learn for once, kid," I said and hopped up onto the table. "Princesses got guardians. Where are hers? She's been in that coma for way too long without them lifting a finger to help her. We gotta follow the thread. See who's who and do inquiries."

"I get to do inquiries?" He looked so hopeful I almost felt bad slapping him on the cheek with my paw.

"No, you stay inside the office. Otherwise the Missus is gonna end up short one husband when you mess it up."

Looking like a dog that had just been denied its chew toy, he opened the book and did his duty as my page turner.

Turns out Miss Sleepyhead’s name was Dawn or something like that, and she had not one but three fairy godmothers. Buncha names that sounded like mice. I didn’t even bother to read them. But they’d vanished a while back, maybe a hundred, hundred and fifty years before. Around the same time the last prince made his attempt for the girl.

And I'd wager a whole sachet of 'nip they'd last been seen right around the same area as Evil Mal lived now.

So, the noises in the boudoir might have faces. I marked the kid’s arm with my cheek, since he’d actually done a pretty good job this time. “Good work,” I told him. My human looked like all his birthdays had come at once, and each one had brought another Mrs. Kid. Whatever. Kid was acting like I’d never given him a compliment before. “Let’s go.”

He headed off to the office, and I went to see how early evil fairies woke up the morning after a heavy drunk. Even from outside her house I could hear the snoring. She sounded like a freight train stuck underground, like they’d been talking about putting in around here. Something about how if it worked in London it would work here.

I guess. As long as it didn’t start being another way for humans to try to kill cats, I’m all for it.

Wasn't going to explore her bedroom while Mal-whatever was in there, not safely. I headed over to the Riches instead. A little bit of scratching at the kitchen door, and the servant from the dinner a few nights before was bringing me creamed chicken with liver gravy. Heaven. If I wasn’t so fond of Mrs. Kid, I would have probably tried to move in.

After licking the plate clean, 'cause it pays to be polite to the people feeding you, I went up to see the sleeping broad. She was still sleeping, though to my eyes it looked somewhat more… restful now. More natural, I guess. Like taking out the spindle end had let her rest easier. I could believe that. If I had to sleep with something that felt as wrong as could be stuck in my paw, I probably wouldn’t have been snoozing very well either.

I went through the wake up routine again, but she still wasn’t budging, nicer dreams or no. So I curled up on the foot of her bed and took a little nap myself. I just needed to wait for nightfall, or whenever Evil Mal went back to the speakeasy.

Oh, at some point I would probably have to let the kid head home, too, but when my belly is full, naps trump family every time.

When it was dusk, I sauntered back to the office to send the kid home. He insisted on reading me a few pages from one of his self-help books first, something about finding the power within yourself. Yawn. I have plenty of power within myself, I’m a cat. You’ll notice there are no self-help books written by cats on the market. Cats are smarter than humans that way.

Anyhow, I finally sent the kid home. I had the peacemaker back in the bag -- it was a small affair, just the right size for a cat that happened to have thumbs -- just in case I needed it while I was looking for Dreamland’s fairy godmothers. All the lights were off at Mal’s, and although the sickly sweet flower scent was making its presence felt, I didn’t think she was in there. I circled the building a few times, then slouched in the direction of the speakeasy. Yes, a fresh trail of her special flowery perfume with the delicate touch of poison. The place was mine.

The charms on the building were still that wonderful combination of old and meant for humans, so slipping inside was fast, easy, and fun. I made my way back up into her room and went straight for the boudoir this time.

Three tiny, glowing faces looked up at me from inside a cage. “We’re saved!” piped the one in blue. I hooked my claws into the top of the cage and dragged it out into the hallway, where the smell of accumulated locked up fairy was somewhat less intense.

After some work on the finicky parts, I had the door of the cage mostly open. Then I had a thought. “What in Bast’s name are the three of you doing here instead of protecting your princess?”

“Open the door!” they chorused. I knocked the cage over and sat on the offending door. None of them were going anywhere until I had my answers. The one in red sobbed. The one in blue glared at me. The green one just looked resigned.

“We got caught,” she said. It was a little like listening to those chirping little birds that sit just out of reach of the windows, talking to them. Made me want to bite. I controlled the impulse.

“I figured that,” I said. This cat is no one’s fool. Obviously they got caught. “But why weren’t you with her?”

Red wiped her eyes. “We were trying to help the prince get in to save her.”

“Only Mal-” the green one was abruptly cut off when the blue one slapped a hand over her mouth. “Don’t say her name! She might hear you and come find the cat and then we’ll never get out!”

Her, you know,” Red continued, ignoring her cagemates’ antics, “turned into a dragon and ate him. Then she put us in the cage.”

Still all things I could have figured out myself, though I took note of the dragon trick. Could everyone magical do that? Worrying thought. I batted away the idea and licked my paw. “If I let you out, what then?”

IF?” they all screeched together. I have to tell you, what they were lacking in good fortune they were making up for in sheer annoyance. “You have to!”

“Look, doll,” I said, calmer than I felt, since I couldn’t keep my tail from giving one or two slow flicks, “I don’t have to do anything. I’m a cat. I do as I please. And if you want it to keep pleasing me to help you, you’d better answer the question!”

They conferred for a moment, probably thinking I wouldn’t be able to hear them if they whispered. I could hear them just fine. Blue smoothed down her dress and turned to face me again. “We’ll go back to helping our princess, of course,” she said.

“Helping her how?” That stumped them. I sighed. This was going to completely destroy my reputation as a tough customer if it got out. I would just have to make sure they knew better than to let it get out. “My human, well, his wife, she feels sorry for your girl. Wants to make sure she’s awake and happy and not being exploited. And since the lady who rules the house gives much better treats when she’s happy, I’m going to make that happen. Which means you’re going to make that happen.” I paused, and licked my lips for maximum impact. “Or I’ll have to take care of you.”

Let’s be clear here, that was just a threat. I wasn't planning to bite, chew, or in any way ingest any fairy, no matter what size they happen to be. I said that earlier, and I hadn’t changed my mind now. But for something the size and voice of a mouse, it was a pretty great threat.

“But we can’t!” wailed Green. “We don’t have the power! She’s stronger than all three of us together!”

I crouched down on top of the cage and showed my chompers. White, shiny, and needle sharp. Perfect for crunching little fairies.

"Find the power within you."

"But we--" The little blue lady wasn't taking my hint and was still protesting. I wondered if I really was gonna have to eat one to get my point across. My ears flattened. That sounded like I'd be hacking up glitter hairballs for a week if I tried that little manoeuvre.

The winged dames had no idea what was going on in my head, so they probably figured their time was coming near. At least, two of them did. I noticed Green was trying to squirm her way out of the cage door. She didn't care it was under my tail.

I admired the ingenuity, but this wasn't a time for my means to an end to go flying off into the distance.

"Hey!" I yowled. "I believe we were working out a deal." I rolled the cage so the floor blocked the door.

"But she's too powerful!" the red one whined. Listen to them. I can keep an entire household under my paw, and these three can't take out one fairy they outnumber? No wonder magic's in retreat if this is their best and brightest.

The little blue was hammering at my paw with her tiny fist. I extended a claw as a friendly warning.

"Girls!" said the red one. Clearly she was in charge. She was the biggest, so why not? The other two glitterpixies fluttered to her.

I looked bored. I didn't feel bored. Mal could show up anytime and I could be in the belly of a dragon, but I wasn't about to let my only leads flutter away and shirk their duties.

The fairies went into another huddle. A power-huddle this time. They didn't bother keeping their voices down.

This time, going by their pipsqueak cries of 'we'll burn her to the ground!' they'd decided to go on the offensive in regards to good old Mal.

I watched, flicking my tail, as the war meeting went on. The blue one was getting excited, punching the air. 'I'll show her!' Their mice voices were making me hungry, but the only food at Mal's was her poor house cleaning. I wouldn't eat those rotten plates if I'd been starving for five weeks.

I laid down for a nap while they worked it out. They couldn't move the cage and they couldn't move me, and frankly the squeaking was making me too hungry to eavesdrop. Let them work it out.

When I woke up, the moon was much higher and the trio had sent the little blue one to wake me up by jabbing my paw. I growled low at the liberty being taken.

"Sir Cat," the fairy began.

"Can it," I meowed. "You going to do it or do I leave you for her to find."

The little blue fairy puffed up like she was trying to scare me. I appreciated the effort, but her technique needed work.

"We're going to make her sorry she ever interfered with us!" shouted little and blue.

"Good answer," I agreed and hopped off, then kicked the cage over so the door was exposed. The fairies took no time to ditch their old digs. One of 'em, the green one, picked up one of Mal's pointy shoes and started smashing off a charm on the cage. Huh, guess that's how she kept them in line.

"See how she'll like this!" muttered Red, holding the charm tightly in her hand.

"Shall we, ladies?" I purred.

They were pretty big now, but part of being a cat is always making it clear you're in charge.

They laid out the plan. Yours truly was going to become a prince, courtesy of Mal's treasure stash. Did you know an entire kingdom could be kept in a pearl? I do now. And so do you.

Imagine that. So many kingdoms and people had been lost and cursed when magic was running amuck that fairies could go around just handing out rulerships like that. This, and the smell, was why I couldn't be bothered with magic. It was messy, it was confusing, and sometimes it turned out that frog that screamed 'please no!' when you ate it last week used to rule over Germany.

Turns out the one true love kissing line was just a line. Someone had come up with the pile of hock that was true love's kiss, because humans love a good deeply questionable romance, and dear Dawn nearly spent the rest of her earthly existence as a snoring bit of decoration. Humans.

All you needed was a questing prince, which was all well and good except Mal had been eating them like popcorn until they'd given up.

We set out, with me strutting in front of them like I owned the streets. Which I might as well. All cats do. Behind me walked three determined fairies, dressed in last century's fashion.

Mal was back at the speakeasy, drowning her misery at being Mal in sidecars.

When the fairies broke down the door and said it was reckoning, she almost looked glad. Kind of breaks your heart, if you were the type to pity something like good ol' Mal.

Well, I'll cut the story short. History did not repeat itself. Mal wasn't the fairy she once was, and these girls had taken one heck of a lengthy respite. The fight was short and brutal, like a good hunt. Mal'd tried her old dragon trick to make a meal of my new 'friends', but…

Well, turns out a shrunken dragon tastes a lot like one hell of a nasty gecko.

The next step was completing the quest for the drowsing dame. The sun was rising by then, its rosy fingers clawing their way through the city. I wondered if one more day really mattered to the princess. She had her sleep and I wanted mine.

But I didn't get a say in the end, I was bodily picked up by a fairy and carted up the steps and into the house to Dawn. I made sure to bite a few times, to keep from being too agreeable.

Once the whole estate had been covered in roses and deadly vines, but part of the gentrifying process of the old castles involved an army of gardeners to deal with the old character of the place. Not a single plant was out of line. What a mighty quest this was.

The sleeping beauty must've been real out of it when she woke, because she took one look at me and exclaimed 'what a darling little puss!'

The Riches were homeless for all of ten minutes, until the no longer drowsy dame said she'd sell 'em the house for the price of an easy life in the countryside far, far away from fairies and princes and whatever else new curse came up.

The fairies went off to the fairy retirement home and I went back to get the Kid to tell Mrs. Kid that he'd saved the day yet again. Kid gave me a whole can of sardines. What a keeper.

I tried feeding the happily ever after line to you last time. I say endings are how you make them. If you'll excuse me, I've got a lap to nap in.