Michael the Pooka


 No’Moda stands up. Her pink dress
flutters around her legs. Small, see-through wings flutter behind her back. In
a firm voice, she says, “you are a traitor.”

“I’m not,” snaps Michael. “I’m  doing what everyone in this kingdom needs! You
aren’t the right ruler, and the fact that I could take the rose from your
garden proves it. You’re nothing but a fraud, No’Moda!”

The other animals sneers at Michael.
She picks up her Great Staff, which is covered in bits of silver leaves, ruby
flowers, and topaz etchings. A great stone is on the top of the staff. The
stone starts to glow a bright shade of red. It pulses every time that No’Moda
says anything. “You made a mistake coming here, Michael. Right now, you’re the
only one that knows the truth. And I will make sure it stays that way!”

The bright red glow fills the entire
cave. Michael can’t see anything but red. Then, he sees nothing at all.

When Michael wakes up, he’s standing in the
middle of a cage. The cage is made of unbreakable vines and branches from the
great Yew Tree that sits on the edge of Sundown Valley. Bright purple mushrooms
grow on the floor of the cage. Michael grabs the bars and starts trying to
shake them, but they won’t budge.

“Let me out of here,” bellows Michael.
“Let me you! You can’t keep me in here forever!”

“You’re right,” says No’Moda, with a
coy smile. “I can’t. I’m just going to keep you here until I come up with a
better plan. See, I thought about killing you. In fact, that was my first
choice. But then I realized that wouldn’t set a good enough example. So I
started talking. I told everyone that you had stolen the rose, in hopes you
could become the next ruler. You were trying to usurp the Queen!”

“You’re no queen,” spits Michael. He
shakes the bars until his arms grow tired, and then he drops down onto the
floor of the cage. Michael doesn’t want to admit it, but he thinks, in that
moment, that he’s lost.

“Oh,” says No’Moda. “But I am! And I
have the most amazing plan in mind for you. Instead of killing you, I’m just
going to change you into something that no one will ever forget.” As the words leave her mouth long blue dress turn pitch black, her crown becomes a black hat as she turns into a wicket witch in order to cast her spell.

Again, No’Moda holds up her Great Staff .
This time, though, the light that drifts off of the great stone is a pale blue.
It wraps around Michael, until his skin is tingling, until water drips down the
back of his neck. IT fills up the cage until Michael, too, is made of blue.

The next time that Michael wakes up,
he finds himself in a much bigger cage. He is no longer human. Instead, he is a
massive red elephant! Distraught, he stumbles to his feet.
From her throne, No’Moda laughs. “Now,
you are a pooka! Until you can admit that rose is mine, this is the form you
will take!”

When No’Moda grows bored of watching Michael
try to escape, she banishes him from the Unseen Realm. Instead, Michael finds
himself forced to wander through the Mirror World, stuck in the form of a
Pooka. He can only take up his human form on rare occasions, when he finds
someone that he trusts without a doubt.

The Mirror World is a very strange
place. The sky is green. The grass is blue. The trees are no larger than an
ant, and an entire forest of flowers tower high above him. Everything is topsy
turvey and upside down! For a little bit, it’s amusing for Michael to walk
through and explore the oddities of the world.

He likes the fact that the
rivers wind through the air. He also likes the fact that the clouds make big
lines on the ground, which are the perfect place for a big old pooka to curl up
and go to sleep! For a little bit, things are okay. Very quickly, though, he
grows lonely.

Michael is desperate to find the
person that he can connect with, someone that he trusts.
This is a very hard thing to find, as
one might suspect. But, one day, as Michael is drifting through the Mirror
World, he hears someone talking. It’s a very pretty voice.
He follows the
sound, peeking out of the mirror to find a young girl. She’s sitting, reading
from what looks like a very strange book. Her words are like the best sort of
melody, like a song that Michael has forgotten.

We must be kindred souls,” whispers
Michael, pressing himself up against the glass. He’s very delighted to see that
she comes over to the mirror. And, even more amazing, they can see each other!
Michael is so thrilled that he comes out of the mirror, eager to speak with his
kindred soul.
IT turns out to be the best decision
he could ever make.