Friday, November 22, 2013

A Cat o' Nine Tales

The visual prompt:
Our main characters are:
Puss in Boots ~ This world famous criminal cat has already served nine life sentences.
A Witch ~ She can brew anything from a deadly poison to a strong punch.
The special object in this story is:
A Mythril Tux ~ This flashy suit is totally impenetrable. It's cut so well it fits ANY body type.
Our story takes place in:
Pirate Cove ~ This traitor's trading post imports treasure and exports theft.
The Island of Impii was a lawless place. There were no kings or presidents, no guards or soldiers, no rule makers or law keepers of any kind. Nothing was illegal. Every man was out for himself, making and keeping his own business, and making and keeping his own rules. So really, you could get away with just about anything, even murder! So anyone who spent any time on this island, whether they lived there, did business there or were simply passing through, should have known the universal rules: always be on the alert, mind your own business, trust no one.
That isn't to say that everyone you met on this island were bad people. Just because anyone could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, it didn't mean that there was chaos all the time. On the contrary, the island was, for the most part, quiet and peaceful, despite its lawlessness. Most of the residents were genuinely good, friendly characters,. So long as you kept your wits about you, didn't make or cross too many enemies, and kept one eye open at night, you could be sure that no one was going to try and murder you in your sleep.
On a sunny and salty-aired afternoon, the Catus Carina sailed smoothly into Pirate Cove, a surprisingly quiet little harbor. The great thing about it was that there was no Harbor Master to enforce any regulations and ask about your business on the island, but it also meant that there were no naval officers to help guide the ship into port or keep tabs on the cargo, so the Carina's crew would have to lay anchor themselves and carry off their own loot.
The only other people in the Cove were a couple of old fishermen sitting with their lines on a neighboring dock. When the two of them noticed the big impressive ship approaching, bearing the universal sign of skull and cross-bone on their sails and their flag, they didn't think anything of it.
"Looks like we got us some pirates down in Pirate Cove," said one of them, just as casually as if he had observed it was going to rain that day.
"Yup," agreed the other man, scratching his scraggly salt white beard.
The first old man reeled in his fishing line and, seeing nothing had bitten yet, threw his line back out. "Say, is that a cat I see, walkin' about in a fancy hat and boots?"
His friend squinted at the figure he pointed out, strutting towards them. "Yup."
This cat wasn't just wearing a hat and boots. He wore the full pirate's suit, with a red and blue striped shirt and matching red pants with a hole in the back for his tail. He wore gold bracelets on his front paws and cheap little hoop earrings that had cost him a buck an ear. He carried a cutlass in a belt around his waist, though he hardly needed it, as his sharp extendable claws were weapon enough.
This dapper, black and white sea-faring feline was none other Felix P. Bootzin, more popularly known around town as Puss in Boots. He was a cool cat that was always on the run. For a while he'd dabbled in cat burglary, but he found his true calling when he took a job as the captain's cat (which didn't pay a lot, though he did get to have all the rats and fish he could eat).
He swaggered up to the fishermen and gave them a salute. "Ahoy there, me hearties. Lovely weather for fishing, eh?"
The two men exchanged a look with each other, then ignored the walking, talking cat and kept on fishing.
Puss put his paws on his hips and took a deep, healthy breath of sea air. "Ahhh, yes, that's the stuff." Casually, while their backs were turned to him, he used one of his boots to nudge one of the men's fish buckets closer to him and plucked out a large trout. "Anyway, I just came here to ask you fine gentlemen if either of you could tell me where I could find someone."
Without even turning around, the first man grabbed the fish out of the cat's paws before he could bite into it. "That depends. Who are ya lookin' for, cat?"
"Amata Striga, the witch," said Puss, trying not to look too disappointed about losing the fish. "You wouldn't happen to know if she still lives on the island, would you?"
The first man started to shake his head, but then the bearded man said "Yup."
"Really? Excellent." Puss in Boots rubbed his paws happily together. "Where can I find her?"
The more talkative fishermen sighed. "Most likely, you'll find Amata at the Salty Dog Inn on Bilge-Rat Boulevard. She lives on the floor right above it. Ya can't miss it."

Puss eventually found the street the fishermen had described, and stood in front of the Salty Dog.
He laughed at the name. Years ago he and Amata had talked about opening a bar together and calling it the Cat O' Nine Tails. The fact that she'd named her place of business The Salty Dog left a bitter taste in his mouth.
He pushed open the door and found himself in a sparsely populated bar room. A couple of men playing cards looked up and stared at him, having never seen a cat that looked and acted so human before, but other than that no one paid Puss any mind.
He walked up to the bar and lifted up his tail as he perched on one of the empty stools, eyeing the other patrons suspiciously. “A glass of milk, if you please, warm and low-fat,” said the cat. He turned to face the bartender, and nearly fell off of his stool in surprise.
The bartender was sharply dressed in a gorgeous tuxedo. In fact, the bartender was a tuxedo, completely headless. Even though he didn’t have any visible mouth, it didn’t stop him from remarking, “Hello, kitty.”
Puss looked about the bar, but no one else seemed to be particularly alarmed that an empty suit was serving them drinks, so he calmed down. A little. “Hey, matey. Been running this joint long?”
“Oh no, I don’t run anything, Madam Striga does all that. I just work behind the bar.” The tux reached down and pulled out a carton of milk and a glass.
“I see. So where would I find this Madam Striga? I’d like to see her about a room, and a possible proposition.”
The tuxedo used one of his sleeves to pour out the milk (he didn’t have any hands either), careful not to splash it or spill any on himself. “Sure, we have plenty of rooms available. May I ask what kind of proposition you have?”
Puss took the glass of milk, still staring at the strange bartender. “Sorry tux, but that’s my business. Leave the carton,” he added before the tuxedo could put it back down.
At that moment the bar door opened again, and the cat’s feline ears twitched as he heard a beautiful familiar voice.
“Mythril, would you be a dear and come out to unload these crates of bananas and melons outside?” A young woman asked the bartender. Then she gasped when she realized who was sitting at the bar, nursing a glass of warm milk.
Puss in Boots smiled and turned to face the woman who used to be his dearest friend. He saw that her hair was now a short, pixie haircut dyed fiery red. She wore a long skirt that matched her hair in color, and she was barefoot. “Hey Amata. You miss me?”
“Felix Bootzin?"
“Wow, it’s real nice to hear you say my name again.”
The woman stared at him for a while, looking like she couldn’t decide whether to be happy to see him or furious.
“What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” he laughed. “If you need any extra help, I’ll be happy to carry your melons,” he offered.
When he said that, Amata chose to look furious. “Mythril, let me know if you find any big spiders in the banana crates so I can use their hairy legs in one of my poison potions.” She stormed through the bar, walking right past Puss and through the door next to the bar, which led upstairs to the floor above.
“Will do, Madam Striga!” said the tuxedo bartender cheerfully. Then he heard Puss jump up off of the bar stool and sensed that he was leaving. “Hey, you’ve gotta pay for the milk, you know!”
“Hey Mythril, what did my hat say to your bow-tie?” the cat asked, removing his blue tricorn hat.
“Huh, I don’t know.”
“You stay here, I’ll go on a head.” Puss shoved the pointy end of his hat through the top of the suit, effectively making it stuck inside the neck hole. “Oh, sorry, guess you don’t have one.” He ran to catch up with Amata as Mythril frantically tried to get the hat out with his floppy sleeve arms, making choking noises.
“Hey, come on, what’s Amata with you?” he asked his old friend, trying to appeal to her good humor.
She turned and glared at him before slamming the door to her room right in his face.
Well, guess I must have caught her at a bad time, thought Puss. He turned around in place before settling on the ground right next to the door, curling up in a ball on the floor. He’d be patient and wait for her until she came out, so he could have a little chat with her about turning him human again.

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