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THE MONSTER INN


ALEX and the WOLPERTINGER


SMASHWORDS EDITION

Published by

Outer Banks Publishing Group

on Smashwords

THE MONSTER INN

ALEX and the WOLPERTINGER

By Koos Verkaik

Copyright © 2018 by Koos Verkaik

Smashwords Edition License Notes


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ALEX and the WOLPERTINGER


THE MONSTER INN


By Koos Verkaik





Outer Banks Publishing Group

Raleigh/Outer Banks




Alex and the Wolpertinger – The Monster Inn

Copyright © 2018 by Koos Verkaik. All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Outer Banks Publishing Group – Outer Banks/Raleigh.


www.outerbankspublishing.com


No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

For information contact Outer Banks Publishing Group at


info@outerbankspublishing.com


This book is a work of fiction. All the characters and events in this book are not real, and any resemblance to actual events organizations or actual persons living or dead is unintentional.


Illustrations by Hans Pieko


FIRST EDITION – July 2018


ISBN 13 - 978-1-7320452-3-1

ISBN 10 - 1-7320452-3-2

eISBN - 9780463771372

Contents



DID YOU KNOW?

PRINCE RUFF RUMBLE

THE WINDCART

A LONG DAY

THE MAGICIAN

LITTLE, LITTLE ALEX FROM THE ALPS

THE MILLER AND THE WOODCUTTER

THE WOLPERTINGER

TON-TON, THE FATMONSTER

THE NOISE TRIP

THE MONSTER INN

THE MEETING

COMING SOON

THE AUTHOR – KOOS VERKAIK

ALSO BY KOOS VERKAIK

DID YOU KNOW?

You know . . . in days gone by people used to see them more often. Sometimes, on a fine day in spring, they would jump over the dandelions in an Alpine meadow - just like that, among the cows.

In winter bakers and blacksmiths sometimes saw a Wolpertinger sitting near the hot oven or fire.

They hitched rides on wooden carts going into town and slept in the straw at farms.

Little monsters or friends?

Teasers or small helpful creatures?

Where did they come from, and where were they going?



This is the story of Alex, the boy from the Alps. A long, very long time ago he had many adventures in the realm of King Clover in Bavaria and people never stopped talking about his special friendship with a Wolpertinger.

1

PRINCE RUFF RUMBLE

Rumor has it that the land of King Clover, which is situated in the large country of Bavaria, has the shape of a four-leaf clover. Should you be able to fly as high as a swallow, you would see that the land consists of four equal parts.

King and Queen Clover live in Northland, where you will find the high Alps.

Their son Prime built his castle in Southland, where the deep lakes are filled with fish.

Prince Dozen, the middle son, reigns in Eastland.

Ruff Rumble, the youngest prince, built a castle of black granite in Westland. Everybody calls it Robber’s Nest, and I work there in the kitchen.

Oh, by the way, my name is Alex. I am only a boy. But I have had many adventures. Together with Shabby Tabby Chum, an old gray tomcat.

If I start by telling you that the cat and I can talk to each other and that I am as small as he is, nobody will believe me let alone that I claim that Shabby Tabby Chum and I have made friends with a Wolpertinger. Better yet I tell everything from the beginning, of the moment I stood eye to eye with this giant prince Ruff Rumble of Westland!



I was sitting on the grass, on the edge of a forest, when I heard a booming noise. I had a wooden bowl in my hands, in which I had collected some nuts and berries. The noise came nearer. Between the trees, I saw something move. Branches were pushed aside and snapped. Startled, I looked up. At first, I saw the nose of an enormous horse appear. A moment later I saw the horseman. He was a man of unbelievable height, with a fat belly and a round face. A giant! He stopped in front of me, bent down, and said with an angry voice,

“What are you eating?”

I have not eaten anything yet, sir,” I replied truthfully because I was just going to start when he approached.

I have no patience with cheeky children! Did you shoot a hare or a rabbit? Hunting is not allowed here! Only Prince Ruff Rumble can hunt here.”

I - I don’t know who you are talking about,” I said fearfully. “I have only picked hazelnuts, walnuts, blueberries, and blackberries.”

The giant held out his hand.

“Hand them over!” he grunted. “All hazelnuts, walnuts, blueberries, and, eh . . .”

“Blackberries?” I helped him.

Exactly - and all blackberries are for me!”

I stood up and gave him the bowl. He opened his mouth and gobbled everything quickly. He ate noisily, wiped his mouth, and mumbled.

But this is tasty! Nuts and berries together; that is a good idea. Tell me, boy, what is your name, and where do you come from?”

I come from the Alps, sir,” I said. “My father is a tinker and does not earn much. That is why I came looking for work. My name is Alex, and…”

Hmm,” the giant mumbled, as he looked me over from head to toe. “A boy from the Alps. And did you find work?”

I shook my head.

No, sir. I tried everywhere. The woodcutters said I was not strong enough; a miller said I was too small; a blacksmith only laughed at me, and a farmer said I looked so funny in my worn clothes that I could only act as a scarecrow for him.”

“Do you have any more nuts and berries?”

“No, you just ate everything.”

“Do you have any idea who I am?”

I - I think you are Prince Ruff Rumble.”

“That is right. You left the Alps, and now you are in Westland. I wonder what I should do with you. Perhaps you should have a beating because you picked nuts and berries. Perhaps I will let you pick more because I am always enormously hungry!”

He studied me again and said, “Why bother? Tell me, do you know anything about food? Tasty things?”

Prince, where I come from everybody knows about food. We are poor people and have learned to prepare something tasty from the simplest ingredients. From a few crusts of stale bread, some butter, and soup I could make a meal fit for a king!”

The prince licked his lips and stroked his belly.

“Soup!” he said. “That is exactly what I fancy, little Alex. A large, full bowl of soup with a lot of bread to go with it. I am the king’s son and am used to being able to eat as much as I want. Hmm! Soup and bread . . .”

“When the soup is good, you won’t even realize that you are eating stale bread with it, Prince!”

I was hungry myself. I had not eaten all day, and the prince had taken my nuts and berries. I was thinking of a glass of fresh milk from Alpine cows; of bread, butter, and cheese; of a sizzling hot pancake. . .

I am sure that you are a very smart boy,” the prince said. “I will give you a chance. I will take you to Robber’s Nest, my castle. You will work in the kitchen. If your father is a tinker, I am sure you will be able to repair my old pots and pans. In the kitchen, they can always use a helping hand. The fire must be kept burning, the cook must cook, fry, and bake. Give me a hand, little boy. I will lift you behind me on my horse.”

Shortly afterward we were off. I had to cling to the prince’s belt. I was looking at his towering back and was not at all comfortable on that big, wide horse. The prince let the horse canter and shouted at it, “Faster! To the castle! My tum is grumbling! I am terribly hungry!”

“Are you a real prince?” I shouted over the clatter of hoofs.

But of course! Of course!” he shouted back. “My father is King Clover, no less. I would like to reign over the whole country. Over Northland, Eastland, Southland, and Westland together. But my father does not want to hear of it. And I also have two brothers, and they want the same thing as I. We are always fighting! But you will find out if you work in my kitchen long enough.”

What do you mean?” I shouted letting go of his belt for a moment to put my hands around my mouth and shout as loud as I could to make myself heard.

He laughed. The horse began to gallop so fast that I had to grab the big man’s leather belt as quickly as I could.

“If you make a mistake, I will throw you from the highest tower!” Ruff Rumble bellowed. “Or I will feed you to my dogs. And when you prepare food that I do not like, then I will get mad! And when I am really mad, I will throw a little boy like you as far away as I can. Believe me, little boy! If I were standing in the center of Munich, I would be able to throw you into the Danube at Passau in one mighty sweep. But be glad that you have to deal with me and not with my brother Prince Dozen!”

“Prince Dozen?” I repeated in a loud voice. My throat began to ache from all the shouting.

“Exactly! You think I am big, don’t you? I am sure you think that I am a giant of a prince?”

“Yes, Prince!”

Compared to my brother I am only a dwarf. He is twelve times stronger than I am, eats twelve times as much, and would punish you twelve times as much if you were to burn his food!”

And, your father, the king?” I ventured to shout.

The prince stopped his horse abruptly. My chin bumped against his tubby body. He half turned and said calmly, “My father? My father? He is twelve times as strong as my brother. He eats twelve times as much, too. Believe me, Alex, I am just a small giant. I have not even mentioned Prime, my elder brother. One evening I saw him eat twenty loaves of bread with sausage. This gave him such a thirst that he drank three barrels of beer. There are times that Prime eats even more than our father, the king.”

He spurred his horse on. We continued at full speed. When I bent sideways and looked past him, I saw a big castle. It was built of black stone.

“There is Robber’s Nest!” the prince shouted. “You can start in the kitchen right away. I wonder what Old Burny will say when I turn up with you. If he has no use for you, I will turn you out straight away, of course!”

We rode through the archway of the castle. The horse’s hoofs sparked on the courtyard stones. The prince jumped from the saddle at once. I slithered down, glad to have both feet on the ground. After a servant took the horse from the prince, Ruff Rumble put a large, heavy hand on my shoulder.

“Come along, you. I will take you straight to the kitchen. Then you can prove that you know something about food.”

I was beginning to wonder whether it had been wise to leave the Alps and move so far from home. The gigantic prince shoved me in front of him. We entered the black castle and walked through long, dark corridors. I saw a few dogs lying on the floor, larger than wolves, who showed their white teeth when I walked past. The prince’s stomach rumbled loudly; the noise echoed through the corridors. Behind me, the dogs’ jaws snapped shut. Suddenly I was not that hungry anymore.

2

THE WINDCART

I didn’t have time to get used to my new surroundings. Old Burny put me to work immediately in the large kitchen of the castle. He let me stir a large pot of soup and hardly ever left my side. His clothes were stained, and he was very fat. He was a human being like me and not a giant like the prince. I had had no idea that I would meet giants when I left the mountains. “Who has the prince saddled me with this time?” the cook wondered aloud. “A wimp! A little boy without biceps! You will not be able to get a keg of beer from the cellar! And do you know anything about cooking? What do you know about parsley? What do you know about garlic and onions? Can you make a tasty pie? Do you really think you can make something nice from dandelions? How much flour do you need for a loaf of bread? Stir, Alex! Stir! The soup will only be good if you stir it well. How many eggs are used for a large omelet, and how much sugar do you put in the porridge?”

I did my best. I stirred and stirred. Only later did I dare to look around. Old Burny had bread baking in a large stone oven. On a table, amongst the foodstuffs, I saw a cat. The animal looked at me with large, yellow eyes.

“Who does that cat belong to, Burny?” I asked.

“Nobody. A minstrel brought it along one day. He left it when he went to another castle to sing and tell stories. That tomcat is as big a nuisance as you are. Came uninvited into my kitchen. You have to cook, whereas you know nothing about it, and the cat has to catch mice and, as far as I know, has never caught one.”

“What is it called?”

“Are you still stirring the soup?”

Yes, yes, Burny, but. . .”

“I’m not sure. I think the minstrel said that it was called Tabby. It’s an old cat, and its fur looks dull and dirty. That is why I myself always call him Shabby Tabby. That’s a nice name for that tomcat, isn’t it?”

I left the wooden spoon in the soup kettle and approached the cat. When I stroked its head, I heard it purr.

“No, you are not dull and dirty at all,” I said.

“I don’t believe this!” the cook said. “I can hear it purr from here. It always snarls at me. It is really grumpy.”

I would like to be friends with him,” I decided. “Therefore, I will call him, Chum! Shabby Tabby Chum! Yes, from now on I will call him Shabby Tabby Chum!”

The cat looked up at me. He seemed to wink at me. I liked that old, gray tomcat.

Back to the kettle!” the cook snapped at me. “You are here to work and not to stroke the cat. Don’t let the soup boil over! I don’t think you will be any help to me, boy. I really hope that the prince will kick you out as soon as possible in one large swoop back to the Alps!”

I kept silent. The cat sat down and started to wash one of his front paws. A mouse ran across the table. Chum could easily have caught it but didn’t even look at it. The mouse sunk its small teeth in a wedge of cheese. At that moment Prince Ruff Rumble entered the kitchen. He flattened the wedge of cheese with his fist. The cat cried out, jumped up, and scampered away. The mouse squeaked and disappeared.

“Hungry!” the prince roared. “And when is that stupid cat going to catch a mouse, Burny?”

The cook took two loaves of bread from the oven. To my surprise, the prince picked them up and came over to me. He threw the loaves of bread into the soup and took the sizzling hot kettle from the fire.

“Prince!” I tried to warn him, waving the wooden spoon. “The loaves and the soup are far too hot.”

He didn’t listen to me, and put the kettle to his mouth and started to drink, chew, and swallow. After a minute the large kettle was empty. He put it back on the fire, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and then looked at me.

“Did you say something, boy?”

The bread just came out of the oven; the soup was boiling! Everything was simmering and the fire made the kettle red-hot.”

Oh, don’t be such a wimp, little boy! Ever heard of people eating cold soup?” He bent over, putting his hands on his knees and his head close to mine. “You must not interfere with what I am doing or I will start interfering with what you are doing! Everybody can stir the soup. Just show me that you know something about cooking!”

I didn’t know what to do. A job in the kitchen appealed to me, but what did I know about preparing food?

“Can I also have something to eat, prince?” I asked. “You ate my nuts and berries, and I have not had a bite all day!”

“Cheeky rascals don’t get anything to eat!” Ruff Rumble yelled in my ear. “Hurry up, get going. Do something!”

I looked around. I couldn’t expect any help from Old Burny. He was busy in a corner, sharpening his knives. From a corner of the room, Tabby Chum looked with large yellow eyes at the flattened wedge of cheese.

“You know a lot about food yourself, Prince,” I said, walking over to the table. “You made something nice yourself just now!”

Looking surprised and a little proud, the prince stood a little taller.

“Really? Eh . . . hmm . . . I am of course a wise prince, and I love my food. What did I make?”

I picked up a piece of bread and put the wedge of cheese on top of it.

Flat cheese, Prince!” I said. “A thick slice, the same size as this piece of bread. High in the Alps, we know something about cheese, but what you did just now look!”

I put the bread and cheese at the bottom of the kettle the prince had put back on the fire. He stood next to me and peered into the kettle.

“What are you doing? That is for making soup. But . . . hmm! It smells good. The flat wedge of cheese is melting!”

He wanted to put his hand in, but I asked him to wait a little longer. Old Burny joined us. He, too, liked the smell. Running out of patience, the prince put a hand in the kettle and grabbed a piece of bread. The melted cheese ran in thick drops along his fingers. He took one bite, licked his fingers, and mumbled, “Alex from the Alps, you are incredible! It’s good that we met in the woods. Old Burny, in a little while I want lots of bread with lots of melted cheese!”

The prince stomped out of the kitchen. The cook touched my shoulder and asked, “Where did you get that recipe, little Alex?”

“I just tried something,” I confessed. “I panicked a little, and suddenly I spotted that wedge of cheese near Chum.”

I have a hunch that the prince is happy with you, Alex. Come on, I will show how to make bread. And soon I will teach you a lot more. But first, we shall make bread with melted cheese.”

We set to work. Old Burny proved to be not such a bad sort after all. From time to time he gave me a piece of sausage or a small portion of the pie. He gave me a mug of fresh milk to drink. I started to feel a little more at home in the kitchen. We put pieces of fresh bread in the kettle and added pieces of cheese. I threw wood on the fire. Then suddenly we heard someone call, “A ship! A ship is coming towards the castle! Help! A ship is coming!”

The sentry has gone mad,” Old Burny said. “There is a small lake right in front of the castle, but apart from that, there is no water to be found near here. How on earth could a ship get here? Come on, little one; let’s go and have a look!”

Outside, the courtyard of the black castle had filled with people. I saw soldiers, ladies, laborers, and stable hands. The prince’s large dogs ran among them, barking loudly. The prince also appeared. He was far bigger than the other people. He pushed everyone aside and went up a stone staircase to the high wall, where a guardsman leaned over between two battlements, straining to get a better look at what was happening outside. The big prince could easily look over the battlements.

“Ah, yes! Indeed, a ship is coming straight at us!” he called with a surprised voice.

Now everyone tried to climb the stairs, to see from the wall what was going on. Old Burny beat a wooden spoon on the ground and pushed through the people. I followed. When I stood between two of the battlements, I saw something approaching that really resembled a ship. It was a large wooden thing with a mast and a sail and wooden wings at the sides.

When it came closer, I saw that it wasn’t a ship, but a cart. A cart with wings.

“It has wheels and wings!” I called. “It’s a wooden cart with a mast and a sail on top.”

“You are right!” Prince Rumble growled. “But that can’t be. Can a ship sail on land? No, just as a cart can’t ride the waves. Are my eyes deceiving me? Look! From time to time the wheels don’t touch the ground and the carriage seems to float like a bird of prey!”

The carriage approached at great speed. Everyone could see how it came straight at the castle. Soon we could see a little man in the carriage, desperately trying to lower the sail.

My wind cart! My windcart!” we heard the little man yell. “I can’t stop! I sailed down the highest mountains of the Alps, but now I’m going too fast!” His white beard blew in the wind. Desperately he pulled at ropes, looking fearfully around him. “Faster than quicksilver, more dangerous than fire and I can’t think of any magic words in order to stop this wooden bird. I am done for!”

The windcart, as the man with the white beard called the carriage, left the ground. The wheels spun in the air. The cart flew over the little lake and shattered with a bang against the black granite of the castle. A showering of wood splinters flew around our heads. The biggest part of the cart bounced back and landed with a splash in the lake.

Everyone looked at the lake. The little man floated around and clung to the bobbing mast, and then climbed on top of it and wrung the water from his beard. The little man saw us and yelled, “You look stupid! My windcart, my wooden bird, has broken, and I am being followed by two angry princes, an angry king, and an angry queen!”

“Two princes, a king and a queen?” Ruff Rumble asked. “Do you mean my brothers and my father and mother by any chance? Prince Prime, Prince Dozen, and King and Queen Clover?”

I do indeed!” the little man yelled. “Oh, no! My precious magic books are floating in the water. Someone get them before the letters become unreadable!”

Wait a moment,” Ruff Rumble said hurriedly. “A person who has magic books must be a magician. The king, the queen, and the two princes are after you. What is the meaning of this?”

“It is nothing,” the little man said, looking up at the prince. “They want me to make gold that’s all”

“And can you?”

The little man was still looking up. “I don’t know who you are, sir, but let me tell you that I, the mighty Halo, can do more than one would expect. I know everything of the planets and the metals, of water, earth, air, fire. I know everything about . . .”

“Welcome. Welcome to my castle!” Ruff Rumble shouted. “Let Robber’s Nest be a safe haven, a home to you. My soldiers will get you from the lake. Your books will dry by the hearth. The gates are open for you.”

The prince grabbed two soldiers, lifted them high above the wall, and let them fall into the lake, just like that. He did the same thing with two other soldiers, yelling after them, “Bring the gentleman in, and don’t forget to salvage his precious books from the water!”

He turned around, rubbed his hands and mumbled, “My parents and my brothers are chasing a magician who can make gold. And where does he end up? Exactly! With me! This is my lucky day! First, I find a little boy who can melt delicious cheese, and now I also meet a maker of gold!”

He descended the stairs, taking two or three steps at a time. But halfway he stopped suddenly and started sniffing loudly.

“Bah! What do I smell? Old Burny! Burny!”

The cook again brandished his wooden spoon and pushed his way to the stairs.

“I’m sorry, sir!” he called. “I’m afraid that some bread and cheese are burning!”

He turned and ran toward the kitchen. I ran after him.

You must be punished!” the prince shouted after us. “Wait and see. I will get you! Food, my food. Let it burn, that is the biggest crime within the walls of Robber’s Nest!”

In the kitchen, we saw thick clouds of smoke coming from the kettle. Old Burny threw a bucket of water in it. Chum the tomcat sat sneezing and growling on the big table.

“What should we do now?” I asked the cook.

He looked a bit sheepish.

Oh, well,” he said. “It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me. I’m not called Old Burny for nothing. Let’s hope that the prince will forget this now that this funny magician is here.”

I nodded and sat next to the tomcat on the edge of the table. I softly stroked his head, while I thought of everything that had happened today especially the magician and his strange windcart.

3

A Long Day

It was late and Old Burny had given me a blanket. I had lain down near the fire. Chum snuggled up to me and started to purr. I felt that the cat liked me. Everything in the large castle was strange to me, and I was glad that the cat was with me. As I listened to his purring and the crackling of the dying fire, I fell into a deep slumber.

I dreamed. The castle shook on its foundations. It filled with stomping footsteps and loud voices. It looked as if the heavy black granite stones would tremble loose, and all the towers and halls would cave in! I was shaking.

“Alex! Alex! Wake up!”

I sat up. Torches burnt all around the kitchen. High flames rose in the hearth, and I was terribly hot. Old Burny stood in front of me.

“Wake up, boy! You were sound asleep. Didn’t you hear all that stomping? Didn’t you feel how everything was trembling and shaking?”

“Yes,” I said. “But I thought I was dreaming. What is going on?”

The cook sighed heavily.

We have grand visitors. When Prince Dozen, Prince Rumble’s brother, walks through the corridors with his big feet, you have the feeling that there is an earthquake! He is a real giant! The other brother, Prince Prime, is here, too. And King and Queen Clover are sitting at the table in the knight’s hall. Listen carefully, Alex! The king and his sons are looking for Halo, the magician. Prince Rumble told them that he has never set eyes on Halo. He keeps him locked up in a room. You haven’t seen him either, of course. And now, boy . . .”

I looked at him questioningly. I could see that he was nervous. Drops of perspiration stood out on his forehead.


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