“What did I do?” she protested. “I just smiled.”
“You were flirting!” Sally Stingray said. “You don’t just smile at random whales.”
“He wasn’t random! He was with Ricky and he smiled first. What if I’d met him before?”
“Well, you didn’t recognise him, did you?” Elora Eel asked.
Princess Winnie shook her head. “You know I’m terrible at recognising faces. Especially whales. They’re so big that it takes a long time to see the whole of them!”
“Which is why you shouldn’t smile at random whales!” Cally Clownfish said. “You can smile at random clownfish. They just smile back, not wink.”
“What’s wrong with winking anyway,” the princess said sullenly, crossing her arms in front of her.
“It’s creepy,” Elora Eel said.
“Weird,” Sally Stingray added.
“Dangerous,” Cally Clownfish hissed. “You don’t know what he means by a wink. What if he wants to be your friend? Or he wants to take you on a date? Or what if he… what if he…”
“Girls… he’s a whale. What would he want to do with a mermaid?” Princess Winnie rolled her eyes. “Now, if a merman decided to wink at me, I’d be cautious.”
Sally Stingray flicked her barbed tail. “It’s still not safe.”
“Look, anyway, Ricky’s coming back. And the whale’s still with him. So you girls had better be nice.”
The three other females turned to follow the princess’s gaze. Ricky was swimming up to them, with the whale in tow. The latter was still winking.
“What’s wrong with him?” Elora Eel whispered.
“Hey girls, what’s up?” Ricky greeted them. “Saw you passing by earlier. Willy and I were just doing some sightseeing.” The merman introduced his friend to the girls.
“Nice to meet you,” the whale said softly.
“Nice to meet you, Willy,” Princess Winnie said politely, Elora and Sally echoing her.
Cally just glared.
“What’s wrong, Cally?” Ricky asked.
“What’s wrong with your friend?” Cally spat.
Ricky looked at Willy. “Is there something wrong? Willy’s from far up North. He doesn’t come over Reefside that often.”
“Why’s he winking at us?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Willy said. “It’s not intentional. I’ve been having a twitch in my eye for ever so long. That’s what I’m here for, actually. To see if any doctor can cure my wink.”
“You poor whale. I do hope they can help you,” Princess Winnie said sympathetically. She watched as her friends looked mortified.
Head over to Yuin-Y's for today's illustration.
So today, Jemima's launching book 7 of the Princelings of the East series, titled Willoughby the Narrator.
As might be expected from a Narrator, Willoughby tells his story with style and panache, starting with his somewhat surprising arrival in the Realms.
Lovers of the series will enjoy this latest tale, but newcomers may find it easier to start with book 1 or book 5. It’s a mystery adventure in a world not quite like ours, suitable for age 11 and upwards.
ExcerptIn which Willoughby tries out the sport of wall-running (running around the vertical inner sides of the castle walls) for the first time
I wasn’t laughing now. We moved to the windowsill and crouched on it, ready to jump out. The starter yelled ‘go’ and dropped a flag, and I let Prince Kevin get away first, since he was due to start behind me. He’d been eyeing me up and strutting a bit, and I didn’t feel the need to take him on. He was about my age, and if I did this another time, I reckoned we’d meet then. I wasn’t wrong.
I swung myself out on the window ledge and let the fall forces take my body down and then around, with momentum to fly up to the next floor. I let go of one ledge and turned upside down to grab the ledge below with my nails, and swung again, sideways this time, to the next window. I got a real swing on and made it to the brickwork on the corner. Then I leapt sideways high onto the second wall, sliding a little to the third level, where I thought I saw Diesel’s face pull back as I arrived at the brickwork bar dividing the central glass panes. I brought my back legs around to the bar and sprang off it, leaping horizontally but with my tummy to the castle wall, to catch the next window’s bar and repeat the manoeuvre. I couldn’t do it a third time as a competitor was already on the next window, but I swung down a floor and passed another coming up from the first floor as I made the edge there. I think she slipped, but I ignored her and bounded for the next window and then onto a pole that stuck out. Someone had said it was for banners on feast days. There would be another one opposite. Bearing that in mind, I quickly rounded the next corner, which was a shorter side, flicked myself along three windows, and leapt for the pole matching the one I’d left behind.
Every now and then the crowd roared, but I barely noticed; I was concentrating on the next move. I suddenly realised Champion Christopher was in front of me, and I wondered if he was leading again. I went to overtake him by a double swing from the third floor ledges, but he ducked beneath me and I slipped right to the ground floor window. The crowd below me scattered so I didn’t touch them and disqualify myself. I got through a loop of swinging to wind myself back up to leap for the last wall, but collided with Prince Kevin, and we both fell to the ground, caught by the crowd and set back on our feet. He glared at me; I felt his anger in more than just the heat of his eyes. I had a feeling that Kevin and I would meet again. Probably often. I bowed to him, and he bowed back. I wasn’t sure that meant anything, but I turned away and made my way through the crowd to the centre where the announcer was commentating. Huge cheers rang out: Champion Christopher had won again. I was right not to put him off his line, since one of the visitors I’d met in the practice was a close second. I joined in the cheering with the rest of them, and I’m sure he gave me a special wave.
Wall-running. My new favourite pastime!
© J M Pett 2017 Willoughby the Narrator, Ch 3.
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About the Author
Meanwhile, Jemima continues to enjoy the company of new guinea pigs in her home in Norfolk, UK. Only Kevin is left of the ones in the stories to date, and he runs their blog ‘George’s Guinea Pig World‘. Check out their posts for the A to Z Challenge, too!
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