The forest of Ogrebelly held many strange things and beings, not necessarily evil or monstrous, but just - not so ordinary. After years and years of travelling through those woods, Billobi concluded that the only thing that was even remotely normal was the mushrooms, and picking them was something he very much enjoyed (at least the ones that didn't bite him).
Getting familiar with both the environment and the people living there helped a lot, especially when travelling long distances (or just picking loads of mushrooms). Mr. Bickleigh lived alone with his fat cat in the middle of the Ogrebelly forest, and was one of those peculiar but friendly faces in the otherwise hostile environment. Billobi often stayed for a night or two, in exchange for some freshly picked mushrooms, of course.
One cool, late summer morning, Billobi awoke to something other than the usual face licking from the cat (one of the drawbacks of sleeping on the floor). It was an intensive rumble, growing in strength for every second. He got up on his feet and looked out the window, but couldn't spot anything.
"Sit down, Mr. Rustfoot, have some tea", said Mr. Bickleigh calmly. He sat by the table, still dressed in his striped pyjamas. "It will be over soon."
"What will?" Billobi asked.
"What do you mean, the rumbling of course! It's nothing to worry about. Do as Mr. Bigglesworth and have some breakfast. Unlike him, it's good for you."
The fat cat sat on his own chair, rebuild and raised by Mr. Bickleigh so that the cat would reach the table. It even had its own plate, from which it ate. Billobi sat down next to the cat and took a slice of bread. The rumbling continued, almost unbearable.
"Won't be long now", said Mr. Bickleigh, and a second later, all was quiet.
"Mr. Bickleigh, will you now please explain to me what that was?"
"Of course!" said the old man and got up. "Follow me. And you, Mr. Bigglesworth, that's your last egg! You hear me? Don't need you any fatter..."
Billobi followed the old man outside, and was completely taken by surprise with what he saw. Outside the small brick house, as far as his eyes could see, riders dressed in red clothes filled up the forest. While some of them carried small flags or golden horns, most of them wielded bows. All of them wore finely crafted clothes, that probably costed more than the old man's house.
Suddenly, one of them spoke: "Mr. Bickleigh, a very good morning to you, old chap! Seen any foxes, have we?"
"Yes, it WAS a good morning..." Mr. Bickleigh answered. "And no, I haven't seen any. Not that I would tell you about it, anyway."
"Ah, shoot!" said the man. "My scouts could've sworn they'd spotted several red hounds in this area. Ah, well, what to do? Why, good day to you, good sir!"
Billobi nodded dumbly, unable to speak from the chock.
"Ah, a mute! You would be perfect as a scout! If you're ever in Ogrebelly..."
"Master!" one of the younger boys in the troop suddenly shouted. "Master! I've spotted a red hound!"
"Men! Nock an arrow and follow me! Mr. Bickleigh, I bid you and your mute a fare well! Men! We ride!"
Several of the riders pulled a strange looking arrow from their quivers; the arrowhead was replaced with a round, stuffed ball of leather. The sound of the hoard riding into the forest was almost deafening. A moment later, they were all gone.
Mr. Bickleigh shook his head twice and went inside. The door didn't even close before his booming voice could be heard: "OH LOOK, MY PLATE IS EMPTY WHEN IT WAS FULL JUST A MOMENT AGO. THAT IS REALLY STRANGE! DON'T YOU THINK, MR. BIGGLESWORTH?"
The Society of Bow and Tea is a gathering of upper-class, riding hunters, formed in Ogrebelly. Their coat of arms consists of a bow, two crossed arrows, and a teapot, all lined up in a single row.
The arrows used by the society have their heads replaced by a leather ball, stuffed with the finest goose down, to guarantee that no one gets hurt.
There hasn't been a single successful hunt in the society's entire history, much due to their choice of arrows but also the unclear objectives of the actual hunt, as stated in the decree written down by the founder: "The purpose is to hunt. In the woods. Sometimes, we will see foxes. In the woods. And we shall drink tea. In the woods. Among foxes."
This has made it unclear if the purpose really is to hunt foxes, or to just have tea in their vicinity.
The society's motto is: "To ride, to hunt, to drink tea".
The 2016 Cartographic Review!
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