Legend has it that the forest animals of Krkonoše are protected by a feline presence. Once many, many, many years ago the animals of the forest faced certain danger that would have surely meant death. The event changed the calm and happy routine of the mountains forever, leaving its trace until today.
Startled, Metaxa looked up at the window to see Koule pawing impatiently on the cat net.
“Come on Metaxa, we’re going to be late!”
Metaxa hurried through the net. “This morning has been awful. Mom wouldn’t leave and then Zvonek wanted a full detailed description of where I was going et cetera, et cetera. Honestly.”
“It’s okay, but let’s hurry. Today it’s Vendulka telling us the story of The Snow Cat.”
Metaxa hurried alongside Koule. “Really? That is going to be so good, she’s really very popular and I hear a very good story teller, too!”
They both hurried down the road to Whiskers. Whiskers being the local pub, and Mr. Whiskers, being very community minded, opened the back room of the pub to Kit Story Telling Time. Since the episode with the rats kidnapping cats and kittens to work in the tunnels, the feline community had organized activities for the kits to keep them busy and, hopefully, out of trouble. One of the activities was story telling.
Vendulka was a really old cat, well-known and respected in the community. She had raised quite a few litters in her time and seen many changes to Prague 10. Her lineage was very long; years of wisdom passed down to her. Today was sure to draw a crowd.
Metaxa and Koule squeezed into the back of the room and edged along the wall until they found a spot close to the old queen. Just in time, too. No sooner had they sat down than Vendulka called everyone to her attention.
Settling all the excited kits and the older felines that had joined today to hear everyone’s favourite story took a few minutes. She began, “?rkonoše, as you know, is a mountain range located in the north of the Czech Republic. It has been home to many a legend and not least to that of the Snow Cat. In the Middle Ages, the mountains were mostly uninhabited. It was an area of large lush green forests, where the mountain animals played and lived peacefully together.
“In the spring, flowers blossomed, covering the slopes with a bright coat of many colors, with green leaves dancing in the wind. Summer brought long sun-drenched days, blue skies, and warm velvet nights. Fall turned the leaves golden, orange and red, sending the forest and mountain animals skipping about, chasing them as they floated to the earth in the breeze. Winter came early and lasted long in the mountains. Everything was blanketed in soft white that shimmered in the moonlight and the silence brought a peace to the slopes deeper than in the other seasons.
“It is said that before the first snowfall, when the air was cold and the trees bare of their foliage, paw prints would appear in the hard winter ground. Paw prints of a feline nature, heralding the winter to come. If the spoor marked only the surface, the animals knew the winter would be gentle but, if the spoor went deeper into the surface, the winter would be a hard one. This gave the forest animals time to prepare for the winter to come. Sure enough, the snow would fall and fall and fall, covering the hard earth with its soft white cushion. The spoor would return, but this time the paw prints would be in the soft white snow, promising that spring would again blossom.
“And so the years passed and the seasons changed, and changed back again in a peaceful, undisturbed routine. Then one day, around the year 1242, a strange sight never seen before appeared in the mountains.