As promised, I have posted pages 1 through 10 of "Invitation to a Feast" on "Woodland Forest Chronicles" today. For those who would like to buy the book, you can visit www.freewebs.com/jumpsterhopper
This is a tale about a rabbit called Jumpster. He lived with his father, mother, three brothers and two sisters in an old burrow, situated at the base of a twisted Oak tree. Long ago, his grandfather and grandmother (on his father’s side) also dwelt there. Jumpster’s grandfather had named it Hopper’s burrow. (Hopper was Jumpster’s last name).
Hopper’s burrow was part of Woodland Forest. A kind and loving man called the Noble Ranger took care of the forest. He watched over it and looked after all the woodland creatures within, apart from the wolves and foxes. They were once members of the Noble Ranger’s animal family, but in ages past, they chose to leave him and join the Dark Panther. He was a black, wild cat that wanted the forest as his own so he could eat up the small animals.
One sunny spring morning, after the early dew had vanished, Mrs Hopper was in the kitchen busily preparing breakfast for her children. It was the usual recipe of stewed carrots with milk. Presently, the sudden sound of a bell ringing outside the burrow broke the calmness. “Ding-a-ding-ding!”
Mrs Hopper knowingly turned her head towards Jumpster’s bedroom, where he was playing with his toys. She called out, “Jumpster! The postman has arrived! Could you go out and bring the mail in please!”
Almost immediately, Jumpster came hopping out of his bedroom. He enjoyed collecting the post each day. “I wonder what will be in the letterbox today?” he thought to himself, as he raced out of the burrow.
Back inside, Mrs Hopper finished her cup of tea and placed it on the dining table. She looked closely at the envelope that Jumpster had fetched for her. “It is addressed to your father,” she explained to him. “And by looking at the seal on the envelope, it seems that it is from the Noble Ranger. Your father can open this after delivering the messages this morning.”
Jumpster’s father was the envoy of Woodland forest. His job was very important. It was up to him to carry key messages to the folk of the forest.
Jumpster was very excited. His father had received a letter from the Noble Ranger! Jumpster considered this for a moment and concluded that he felt he had an idea as to what was in the envelope. All this did though was to cause him more excitement. Despite this, he kept quiet so as not to vex his mother with questions. Instead, he went to play with his younger siblings in his bedroom until his father arrived home. Sure enough, just before lunch, Mr Hopper walked in through the front door as soon as Mrs Hopper had placed each of the soup bowls on the table. Mrs Hopper had cooked lettuce and parsley soup for lunch, which was Mr Hopper’s favourite.
When everyone had eaten their fill, Mr Hopper put on his reading glasses and opened the letter. Once he had read it to himself, he gestured to his family for their attention. After he was satisfied that they were watching him, he spoke.
“The Noble Ranger is asking all the young animals who are of age to go to his yearly celebration feast. It will be held in his home at the eastern edge of Woodland Forest,” explained Mr Hopper. “At the feast, the guests will thank the Noble Ranger for all he has done for us animal folk this past year.”
Jumpster’s heart filled with joy. His guess was correct! He thought back to the previous banquet last year and the sadness he had felt when told he could not go, for he was not yet old enough. The Noble Ranger had advised Jumpster to be patient and wait for the next event, as he would be of suitable age then.
Mr Hopper went on, “invites are offered to those whom are loyal to the Noble Ranger. They extend, though, only to the eldest offspring of each family. The date of the feast is seven days from now.”
Mr Hopper placed the note on the table and looked at Jumpster. “This means, Jumpster, that you will represent the Hopper family at this event. You will need to do well just to attend, because not all who are called end up attending the feast. You must pass a test in order to enter into the Noble Ranger’s territory. This is explained in one more letter that the Noble Ranger has written to you, Jumpster.”
In his bedroom, Jumpster’s paws shook with excitement as he read his letter from the Noble Ranger.
To my dear rabbit, Jumpster,
Please accept my request for you to attend a feast that I am holding in my name. I offer this not to all but to whom I believe are ready to handle the responsibility that comes with being at this event. Even so, not all whom are invited will make it. When tested, their efforts will fall short of what is required. I hope with all of my heart that you are not one of those.
If you really want to be at my feast, it is very important that you take care to keep the following commands as you travel to my home:
Stay on the Cobblestone Road.
Make straight paths for your feet.
Hold on to this invitation at all times. I will not allow you to enter my lands if it is lost.
I am looking forward to seeing you,
With all my love,
The Noble Ranger
Jumpster kept his invite in his special box of treasures and read it every day until the morning of the banquet arrived.
Record the invitation under the list of equipment on Jumpster’s character scroll.
Eventually, the morning of the feast arrived. Jumpster’s family gathered outside to farewell him from Hopper’s burrow. Mr Hopper was beaming with pride for Jumpster. Mrs Hopper, while also proud, softly shed a few tears, as she knew there would be dangers along the way for her son. Jumpster and his family exchanged many hugs and kisses.
Mrs Hopper had packed Jumpster’s rucksack with some fresh carrots from her garden for him to eat on his journey.
Record the carrots under the list of equipment on Jumpster’s character scroll.
Jumpster had tied his invitation to his belt firmly. He did not dare risk losing it.
“Be sure to stay away from any wolves or foxes Jumpster!” advised his parents.
“I will Mum and Dad!” promised Jumpster.
He waved goodbye and set off south towards the Cobblestone Road.
Only a few minutes into his journey, Jumpster passed underneath the home of Mrs Robin Redbreast. She lived in a nest on an overhanging branch of a maple tree. This morning, she was sitting on her two unhatched eggs.
Just as Jumpster was about to say “Hello!” to Mrs Redbreast, a severe, unexpected gust of wind blew through the tree, unsteadying her. As a result, she bumped into and dislodged one of her eggs from the nest. It fell a short distance from Jumpster, who knew he could catch it if he was quick enough. He barely had a moment to save the egg from hitting the earth and breaking. He dived with his paw outstretched. Roll one die.
If you roll a 1, 2 or 3, go on to the next page.
If you roll a 4 or 5, turn to page –12-
If you roll a 6, turn to page –13-