A Very Long Story
Rating: PG i guess
Disclaimer: I dint create these characters, am not claiming them, and just
wanna get on with me story
I have written here a fairy tale, staring our favorite dashing hero Horatio
Hornblower. Fairy tales are wonderful things, and as grown persons, we
rarely allow ourselves the indulgence of reading ourselves stories of
mythical characters with impossibly happy endings. And that is a shame.
Because I think that if we stopped being so serious and literal and wrapped
up in our everyday struggles and problems, and sat down and read ourselves
fairy tale or two, we could save good money on stress and ulcer medications.
So here is a fairy tale, written for us, grown persons, that we might
remember what it was to be wide eyed, innocent, and impossibly happy.
Once upon a time somewhere on the sea there lived a boy. And he was
called Horatio Hornblower. (a rather unfortunate name, you might say. But
in the time of our story, it was quite usual for people to go around with
names like Crapper and Rumplestiltzkin, so no one thought anything much
boy called Hornblower) And we say he was somewhere on the sea not because
hadn't a house with a warm cozy bed like you and I have, but because the
place he loved to be, the place he called home was the sea. There was
something special about the taste of the air, and the measured lap of the
waves against his ship. The only part of being a sailor he thought not so
nice, was how sick he got from time to time when the waves jumped up and
lashed at the ship, and tossed it as if it were a dodge ball, and the rocks
the enemy players.
One day Horatio stepped out on the deck and breathed deep of the salt
sweet air. It was a beautiful day. Styles and Matthews, two of his men,
were perched on the mizzenmast tossing ropes around while Oldroyd scurried
the deck below them trying to avoid getting beaned by carefully aimed spit
missiles. Up top, Styles and Matthews howled in laughter. Horatio watched
with amusement for a few moments, and would have made a comment to his men
atop the masts, concerning the effects of spit expelled from high altitudes
on officers in his majesty's navy - but at that moment there was a great
gust of wind, accompanied by ominously black clouds which blotted out the
sun. The sea began to churn under them, and Matthews and Styles were nearly
pitched from the masts into the sea. Lightning began to flash between the
clouds, and then suddenly two bright snakes of fire hissed their way towards
the water and both converged with a mighty crack on a point not far from
prow of the ship. Thunder shook the ship, filling the air, throbbing in
men's ears, making Oldroyd sink to his knees in pain, and forcing all others
on deck to clamp their hands to their heads for dear life.
Then all was silent. The sails fell completely flat. Smoke rose from
where the lightning bolts had met and struck the ocean. But instead of
dispersing, the smoke grew thicker, and began to take shape. Hornblower
turned his back when Oldroyd screamed, and was currently trying to calm
while mopping up the lines of blood trickling from his ears.
"SIR!" Matthews cried, pointing towards the prow where the black
had been. There stood a woman, her skin alabaster, her hair black as
obsidian. She wore a long red dress, which swept across her body in long
sleek lines, and billowed a little at her feet, despite the pervading calm.
"I am the Great Witch Calysto. I have come for the Bright One"
a great, musical voice that filled all the air as the thunder had.
By this time Captain Pellew had clamored on deck and was staring aghast
the apparition before them.
Captain Pellew stepped forward and stated, "I am Captain Sir Edward
By what right do you stop my ship?"
"I have come for the Bright One" she repeated, more forcefully,
a clap of
thunder just audible in her voice.
"yes, quite." Pellew commented, pooling his courage. He stared
up into the
terrible and stunning eyes of the witch and announced "I am sorry to
you madam that we have no "Bright One" currently aboard the Indefatigable.
if you will kindly be on your way ."
"AIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" screamed the witch. The sound of thunder
air once more. All the light that had filtered in through the clouds was
snuffed out, and the crew of the Indefatigable were bathed in perfect
darkness. As the witch began to speak again, a light began to shine
somewhere on the deck.
And as they looked around they could clearly see where the light had come
from. Hornblower was glowing like a light bulb.
"You will surrender the Bright One to me. If he is not prepared in
you and your insignificant ship shall be wiped from existence" she
from the darkness, "One hour." she repeated. And with that, the
retreated, the breeze began again, and she was gone.
The faces of his shipmates had all grown quite white, and Hornblower suddenly
felt extremely frightened.
"What's happened" he asked a midshipman, who stared back at him
eyes. It had grown deathly quiet. "Styles, what's going on here? Are
sinking?" he asked with growing fear. Styles babbled back at him
"There was the lightning, smoke .black witch beautiful .Bright One.."
Horatio turned around desperately seeking someone who could answer him and
bumped right into Captain Pellew. Turning red, he said meekly
"oh, I'm so sorry sir. Please sir, what's happened?"
Pellew stared at him sternly and slowly, fiercely said, "Do you mean
tell me you don't remember anything that happened?" Horatio stared
back at him. More calmly he asked "tell me the last thing you remember
Horatio furrowed his brow, he didn't even remember passing out. "As
as I know, sir, one minute I'm seeing to Oldroyd here and the next everyone
has gone pale and looking like they've seen a ghost"
"Come with me Mr. Hornblower. We have a few things to discuss."
When Hornblower returned to the deck, it was his turn to look pale. Styles
had gathered his wits, and bashfully approached Hornblower.
"Beggin yer pardon sir, but, well, me and the lads were just wonderin
what do you plan to do?" Setting his jaw, Hornblower looked down at
"There's only one thing to be done, Styles."
"And what's that sir?"
"I must go with this Calysto."
"OH no sir, you cant do that!" Matthews protested.
"And why not? It is clear that she wields the power to sink the entire
if she so chooses. My duty is clear. I must go with her."
"And you mean to go alone, sir?" Matthews asked in disbelief.
"Ay, that is exactly my plan."
"But sir, we don't even know why she wants you. What if she means to
"I have thought about that. But how can I ask you to come along to
could possibly be your deaths? No, Matthews, I must go alone."
"Sir," Styles said, "I think I speak for all of us when I
say that we would
gladly accompany you on such a mission. Am I right boys?" Styles' appeal
was met with less than enthusiasm. Most did manage to mumble 'ay' weakly.
But one man raised his voice among them and called out
"I would gladly come on this adventure Mr. Hornblower, Sir."
"Step forward my good man. You're the new boy, aren't you."
"Yes sir. Jaime Griffith at your service."
"Glad to serve with you Griffith. Now, you three, I am glad to be in
company of such friends. But you must promise to trust me, no matter how
strange I may act during this ordeal. Do you swear it?
"ay sir, we swear it" they repeated in unison.
"Good." He turned his face heavenward, and noted heavy black clouds
in. "Look lively now, I think Calysto has returned"
This time, there was wind as before, but only one clap of thunder and the
bolts of lightning. Calysto appeared before them in all her terrible glory,
and this time the men took note of her shocking beauty.
"Your time is up." she bellowed, "Where is the Bright One?"
forward and said
"I am here, madam."
"Are you prepared to come with me?"
"Good." And she raised her hands above her head as if she meant
them. The clouds grew denser, and Calysto began to bring her hands together.
Just then Horatio called out
Calysto narrowed her eyes, and stared down at Hornblower as if he were a
"You dare to give ME, the Great Witch Calysto conditions?" she
the thunder ringing fierce in her voice
"I only ask, madam," Horatio returned sweetly, "That I be
allowed to take
3 of my men here with me" Horatio motioned to Styles, Matthews, and
Griffith. Calysto looked at them for a brief moment before nodding her head
"Very well. Make your slaves ready." Styles muttered a curse or
about how he wasn't a bloody slave he was a sailor in the English Navy,
severe look from the Witch shut him up. When Horatio reported they were
ready to go, Calysto again raised her hands above her head, and clapped
fiercely. At that moment five lightning bolts streaked down from the clouds.
There was a blinding flash accompanied by a final clap of thunder that had
ring of laughter floating faintly on it. And when they could see again,
they saw were five wisps of smoke billowing up from where each man had stood.
When Horatio woke, he found himself inside what he took to be a giant
cave. The air was decidedly damp, and there were thin strings of fog lacing
their way throughout it.
For the moment, Calysto was nowhere in sight. Horatio turned about and found
Styles, Matthews and Griffith sleeping on the floor of the cave. He woke
them roughly, and they began to whisper.
"Alright men. Here we are."
"I don't like the look of this place." said Styles.
"What I'd like to do Styles, is find out just a little more about where
exactly we are."
"Well, how do you mean to do that sir," Matthews asked, "with
"She's not here at the moment. But we must be quick. Styles, you take
Griffith and look around over there to the left. See if you can tell whether
this is a cave, and whether there's a way out. Matthews and I will take
right. We'll meet back here when we're done. Understood?"
"Good. Lets get going then"
Styles and Griffith had walked as far as they could to the left, but all
came to was a patch of fog so thick, they dared not go into it for fear
getting lost. Hornblower and Matthews ran into a high, curving wall of
stone. So at least they knew they were in a cave. But what they also found,
walking the length of the wall, was a girl huddled in the far corner.
Hornblower approached her gently.
"I am Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower, of his Britannic Majesty's Frigate,
Indefatigable. May I inquire who you are, madam?"
"My name is Susan. I'm Alfred Miller's Daughter." she managed
(Now, I know what you are thinking. What in the world is the Millers'
daughter doing there? Well, it seems to me that millers' daughters are always
popping up in fairy tales, and besides that, if we didn't have a girl in
with whom would our hero live happily ever after? A more progressive ending
you might suggest? Well, that's not the way it worked in fairy tales. Surely
you remember that.)
"Pleased to make your acquaintance miss Miller. Can you tell me why
is you, or we were brought here?" The girl looked frightened, but relieved
to have help.
"She's crazy. She has some elaborate plan for taking over the World!
I think she means to make us help her." She jerked her head up and
ear towards where Styles and Griffith were exploring. "oh no, she's
back. Quick, go back to wherever you came from. She shouldn't see us
Horatio made a sketchy bow and darted after Matthews who was already well
on his way. When they stopped running, well out of breath and at the rock
they had set out from, they saw Styles and Griffith running towards them,
their faces white like sheets.
They came careening towards the rock where Hornblower and Matthews lay
panting, and barely missed breaking bones when they collided with them,
throttle. Hornblower helped Griffith off his chest (well, pushed is more
like it) and jumped up to ask them where the fire was, when a rumbling
laughter froze him cold in his tracks. Slowly he turned around, stifling
growing fear. Before him stood the great Witch. Her face was twisted into
what could only be a smile, and a booming, thunderous laughter spilled from
"I had not thought you would recover so quickly." She intoned
almost whimsically. "Foolish. I should have known better." Griffith
getting annoyed. He didn't like being made to run away like a silly
schoolgirl on his first day with these men. He stood up and demanded,
"What do you mean keeping us here?" his eyes conveying what he
"MINION!" yelled Calysto in that thunderous shriek. "You
will learn you
place!" She pointed a long finger at him and invoked the magic words.
"BIPPITY .BOPPITY BOOO!" And poof! He turned into a frog. Styles
"He's a bloody frog sir!"
"Yes, I know Styles, but this frog is a good frog." Hornblower
"Madam," Horatio began sweetly, "would you be so kind as
to enlighten us as
to the necessity of our presence here?"
"You, Bright One, are needed."
"For what, may I ask?"
"Long ago, before there was winter and summer, at the beginning of
We, the Oro Coven were rulers of this land. Each of the thirteen was given
dominion over part of this world. We made it so it was always spring, and
never cold. We brought the rain only to feed the plants of the earth. We
liked man - he amused us. We ruled him justly, and were respected and
worshiped. In return we made life sweet and easy for him. But one day there
came an evil man into the land. He spoke of our Coven as if we were the
ones. He made the men of the land angry, and violent. They stole magic from
the sacred books and banished us for a thousand years. It was prophecied
that only the Bright One could restore us to our rightful place as rulers
this land. And that is why I have brought you here, Bright One. You will
us back where we belong, and we will rule your species as we always have.
there will be no more of these wars which plague your countries. And your
lives will be sweet and easy as they were in the Golden Age. The time is
almost right. In three days the moon will be full and the ceremony can
begin. Until then you and your slaves are free to roam wherever you please,
but never into the thick fog. Let your friend be a warning to you."
The room fell deathly silent as she walked down the long passage and
disappeared into the fog.
When they were sure she had gone, They found Susan and brought her over
their rock. It was quite damp in the cave and getting colder and darker.
they built a fire from Griffith's trousers and spent the night huddled around
it, discussing prophecies and witches. But they found they had too little
information to form a plan, so they resigned themselves to restless sleep.
In the middle of the night Susan was woken by plaintive kind of croaking
sound, and found to her dismay, a frog sitting right on her chest! Well,
definitely thought this not so nice, and with a stifled scream smacked the
frog off her and into the darkness. Unfortunately for Griffith, Susan hadn't
known he was the frog; nor did he know what powerful arms peasant girls
He was flung from her chest (where he shouldn't have had his hands in the
first place - even if he was a frog) with such force that he splattered
the nearby wall, and croaked no more. When Hornblower and the men awoke,
they were sad that Griffith had met such a fate, and Susan apologized
profusely, offering to make it up to them by cooking them frog legs for
breakfast. They were very appreciative as it was quite delicious, and they
put the incident behind them.
Soon after, Calysto returned toting a large, ominous book. It was bound
leather, the pages rimmed with gold. There seemed to be a faint luminescence
coming from it. When she noticed Susan with them, she was not angry, but
rather smiled wryly and said,
"Ah, I see you've met Susan. That is good, for you two have work today."
looked sharply over at Styles and Matthews who were staring up at her
wide-eyed. "Slaves," came her booming voice, "You are not
And Styles and Matthews immediately began snoring. She made a motion for
them to follow her, and they moved to the end of the cave where Susan had
been the day before. She placed the great book into Horatio's hands. It
old, and heavy. When the Witch bid him open it, he found its pages covered
in vibrant drawings of all sorts of vile and beautiful things. The page
had marked for them boasted vivid images of a great storm, with what looked
like a witch watching from the clouds.
"you are to learn the incantations," she commanded, "both
of you. The
prophecy names the Bright One, but the magic cannot be completed by a man.
It is unfortunate that you turned out to be the way you are" she told
Horatio, looking squarely down her nose. She turned to Susan with a softer
expression. "This is your part." she pointed to the paragraph
at the bottom
surrounded by the most violent depictions. "Learn it well," she
both, "You will not mangle the ancient tongues before the Coven."
She watched them hawkishly while they struggled with the old words. After
many hours she took the book back from Horatio.
"You have one more day to study and prepare. I will return this time
tomorrow." Her eyes flashed bright for a moment. "Be merry! The
time of the
ceremony is fast approaching. You will know such joy!"
That night when she had gone, They sat morosely around a fire made by
Griffith's shirt and contemplated their doom. Hornblower related the
afternoon's activities to a groggy Matthews and yawning Styles, who promptly
joined him in his low spirits.
"Completely hopeless then, sir?" asked Matthews solemnly.
"Yes, I'm afraid so."
"If only I could get to that spell!" Susan lamented.
"Spell?" Stlyes repeated, incredulously
"There's a spell we can use to stop them. When I held that book, it
I could feel it there. I can almost see the lettering. If only we could
get to it, Horatio!"
Hornblower looked grave, his brow furrowed, deep in thought. Suddenly he
snapped his head up, his eyes bright with hope.
"I have an idea."
The next day when Calysto returned, all began as it had before. Horatio
Susan struggled to wrap their mouths around the strange words and Calysto
watched sharply. After an hour or so, Horatio shifted the book into Susan's
lap, stood, and sauntered over to Calysto, who regarded him fiercely.
"Tell me about the old days." Horatio asked, pouring out all his
Calysto narrowed her eyes suspiciously, but said nothing. "Tell what
be like when you rule my species again. Tell me of the sweetness I have
look forward to." Calysto relaxed her features and pulled her mouth
smile. She draped her arm around him, and sat again, very close to him.
After all he was an extraordinarily handsome man. And he seemed so eager
know what she longed to tell. Calysto launched into her story and Horatio
peered at her, admiringly and awed.
As the witch began her story, Susan's heart began to race. This was her
of the plan. She was sure she had little time, and would get only one
chance. She had to find that spell. She hesitated a brief moment, her
fingers dangling an inch above the pages. She closed her eyes and prayed
would find the right page. And whether it was from some magic deep within
her, or just blind luck, indeed she did turn to the desired spell. She
glanced swiftly at the page - just as she had known it would be. Trembling,
she cut her eyes over to the witch, who Horatio was distracting with some
stiff dancing. Knowing she had only seconds left, she ripped the pages from
the book and hid them in her garters. She then immediately flipped back
the witch's spell, and began chanting softly to herself.
The witch had surely been enjoying the young man's show, but in the middle
it she got the acute sense that something was not right. She whipped around
to find Susan chanting softly, covered in a light sweat. She stood and
strode heatedly over to her. Susan lifted her eyes to the witch, filled
fear. She was sure Calysto had seen her. Oh my god, she was going to die.
Then all of a sudden it came to her.
"Please do not be angry with me, great Witch," she cried, half
did not mean to mangle the old language! I will try ten times harder, please!"
Calysto peered down at her for several long seconds before snatching the
from her hands and snapping it shut.
"There will be no more lessons today." She decreed. Tomorrow is
the time of
the ceremony. If you fail me, you will regret it." And with that, abrupt
always, she turned and stalked out of the cave, disappearing in the mist.
That night, Styles and Matthews awoke wondering how it could already be
night. Susan produced her treasure and was rewarded with a light kiss on
cheek from Hornblower. They lit another fire made of more of Griffith's
clothes. Susan pored over the stolen pages deep into the night learning
them, and re-learning them, till she was certain of them. Taking a last
at the beautiful drawings and script, she cast them onto the fire, and lay
down to dream the words of the spell.
No sooner had she closed her eyes, than with a great crack of thunder Calysto
appeared before them. Susan's heart had again begun the 100 meter dash,
she merely lifted her head, looked at the witch, yawned, and lay back down,
closing her eyes as if Calysto had woken her. Susan could feel the witch
standing over her for what seemed like hours. She seemed to be thinking
had made a poor choice in females. But she did need to have enough talent
bind the spell, the witch told herself. Susan never moved as the witch's
eyes bored into her back and her thoughts oscillated as to what she should
do. Finally, silently, she was gone. Susan let out a deep, ragged breath,
and began to cry softly into her arms.
The next day drug on, the seconds piling lethargically into minutes, the
minutes dripping like molasses into the pool of an hour. The sun wearily
traversed its route in the heavens, and the moon climbed reluctantly up
staircase of the sky. The time was almost right.
Out of the mist there began to float deep music. It was unlike any they
ever heard before, but entirely familiar somewhere inside them they couldn't
name. It grew louder, and into the cavern marched a line of 13 witches,
dressed in such finery as humans never had nor will ever see again. They
faced the gaping humans in a semi circle. Into the middle, arrayed the
finest of them all, stepped the great witch Calysto.
"Sisters!" she bellowed, " This day has been long in coming.
The time is
now. We will take back from the ungrateful savages what they stole from
so long ago. Bright One! Little Witch! Come!" she commanded. They came
silently to Calysto and the circle wrapped around them. The witches joined
hands and began to chant in low voices.
"Now!" commanded Calysto, "Speak the words!"
Matthews and Styles watched horrified as Horatio began to recite slowly.
great light began to shine from Horatio, brightening with each syllable.
witches' gazed intently on him. Susan saw her chance.
"Benespiritu della tierr y mer!" she began, daring a glance at
saw his light beginning to fade. "EscuanteAragafavor! " rapidly
began spilling from her lips. The light disappeared almost at once from
Horatio. "Qedaranse malaspritu "
"Stop her!" screamed the witches. They lunged at her but she darted
She began to produce her own light, and it intensified until it was
blinding. The witches were screaming in pain and Hornblower shielded his
eyes against the shining brightness. Susan's voice was growing louder,
filling all the cave with its reverberations.
"Sempre ayalici nunca volvendieron della tempongo termine!" she
sinking to her knees in exhaustion. The walls of the cave started
crumbling, and a great wind began to howl screechingly through the place,
mingling with the enraged screams of the witches. Styles and Matthews rushed
forward and pulled Hornblower and Susan from among the swirling wind and
falling rocks. They huddled together and watched in horror as the witches
were swept from the cave. There was absolute silence for 3 seconds. Then
the wind resumed its previous fervor, there was a bright flash, and they
When they woke they found themselves on a sandy beach by the ocean, the
outline of the Indy just visible on the horizon. Hornblower sent Styles
Matthews to build a signal fire, and they trotted off, leaving him and Susan
alone by the surf. Here is the part where I would like to tell you Horatio
swept her up in his arms, kissed her deeply, professed his love and they
married. But only part of this is true. He did indeed take her gently into
his arms and brush a shy kiss on her lips. But before much else could happen
a voice called
"Susan!" Susan whirled around swiftly.
"Greg!" she exclaimed, jumping up, running to him so he could
in his arms and kiss her deeply. You see, Greg was Susan's fiancee and she
had not seen him since the witch stole her away. Without breaking the kiss,
Greg picked her up, holding her by her back and under her knees, carried
off, and they lived happily ever after.
(well, she couldn't very well marry Horatio and live happily ever after
him, now could she? She didn't even know him. And besides, Horatio has a
promising naval career ahead of him. Sticking him in a cottage on a hill
with a wife and umpteen rugrats would be such a waste of his, shall we say,
So the Indy returned at just the right moment as she always does. And
Hornblower, Matthews and Styles returned home to their ship for more
adventures; armed with a fantastical story they would repeat hundreds of
times, under a sky of stars that burned brighter that night than any they
could ever remember.