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  • Jordan Keller

The Legend of Feta Fromage

Updated: May 10, 2022

The house on the corner of Dunbar Road and Kent Avenue was a fairytale home. Its winding sidewalk weaved between ancient oak trees and newborn tulips. The home’s latticework was accompanied by Old English Ivy climbing along the tan and cream walls. The chimney hadn’t worked in ages, but one could imagine the pale puffs of smoke exiting the brick stack.

Just like every fairytale home, this one contained its own collection of fairytale characters. A king and a queen overlooking their kingdom from a hole above the cupboards. A flock of guards stationed atop the roof armed with ranged weapons in case of siege. A staff of six-legged employees that kept the home clean and the royals fed. A rumored serpent living in the depths of the dungeon who only knew the taste of blood. A court wizard and a court jester who couldn’t be told apart unless you counted the stripes between their ears. A princess kept safe in the highest tower, and a knight destined to win her paw in marriage.

That knight currently fought for his life within the shadows of the newborn tulips. His armor was that of forgotten buttons and stolen thread. His helmet a dented thimble flattening his brown mouse ears. His cape, because all fairytale knights deserve a cape, a torn section of a Christmas tablecloth. His sword a fishhook he found in the garage a year ago and sharpened against the driveway for days.

Feta Fromage stared down his opponent, sweat dripping off his nose. The fuzzy green caterpillar stared back at him. Or, at least, Feta thought the caterpillar did. It was difficult to tell what part of the beast was eyes and what part was mouth. It reared back and roared, drenching Feta in gross slime in the process. Feta readied his fishhook and leaped forward, driving the blade deep into the caterpillar’s chest. It collapsed onto the ground, and Feta pulled his weapon free.

“You may have bested me Feta Fromage,” the caterpillar said, more slime drooling from its mouth with each word. “But you have not defeated the Legless! Our master will be victorious, and you rodents will be eradicated.”

“The Legless?” Feta didn’t know of any creature or faction with such a name. “Tell me whom you speak of!”

The caterpillar denied the mouse knight any information and laughed until he succumbed to his injuries.

Feta Fromage wiped his fishhook clean in the grass before strapping it across his back. He left the caterpillar to the royal guards atop the house. They would dispose of the enemy and complete his patrol. Feta needed to inform his King and Queen of the potential threat before setting off to find this Legless creature.

Using the main passageway into the home, Feta scurried through the walls and came to the kitchen. He ran down the courtyard atop the cupboards unable to stop at any of the stalls selling the mornings harvest of rice crackers or daily catch of goldfish. He pushed down the desire to gorge on the cheese flavored fish and arrived at the Royal Chambers.

“Knight Fromage.” The young mouse standing guard hadn’t yet grown into his handkerchief uniform. His paws vanished inside the sleeves of his tunic draping past his toes, and his toothpick spear towered over his too-big ears. “Good to see you. What brings to you the castle?”

“I need to speak to King Stilton.” Feta couldn’t waste time on pleasantries. “It’s important.”

“His Cheesiness is in, but he’s not seeing anyone today.”

Feta pushed past the young guard. “He’ll understand! It’s an emergency!”

The wall space of the fairytale home was a network of passageways too small for the home’s owners, but large enough for the home’s rulers. Nobles dressed in silks and sparkles yelped as Feta ran through them still covered in caterpillar slime. He dipped behind the court jester juggling cherry pits and singing limericks about field mice, and dove between the two guards stationed outside the King’s throne room. Feta slammed the cork door before either guard could sound an alarm.

King Stilton glared at Feta from his frozen position on his throne. The royal painter, a mayfly with large wings and larger legs, kept painting the portrait.

“What is the meaning of this?” King Stilton hissed between clenched teeth. The mayfly snapped at him to remind the king to keep still.

King Stilton was a large mouse. Nasty rumors claimed his mother to be a rat. His thick tail wrapped around the throne twice. The mayfly’s painting captured every hair sprouting from the tail and the king’s unibrow.

Feta bowed low enough so that his nose pressed against the floor. “I apologize for the intrusion, your Cheesiness, but I’ve come with news of danger.”

“Danger!” squeaked the king.

The mayfly snapped again. The only danger he knew was not finishing his painting.

“I came across a foul beast in the garden,” Feta explained. “Upon slaying it, the beast revealed that the Legless was not defeated and would bring the end to all rodent kind.”

“What does this mean?”

“I’m not sure, but I want to find out. If it is a threat, I will remove it.”

“You are the bravest knight in all the Kitchen Cupboard Kingdom.” Feta beamed at the king’s commitment. “Do so with haste.”

“Of course, your Cheesiness.”

King Stilton raised his hand to pause the mayfly who crossed all four arms in displeasure. “I’ll ensure everyone stays within the walls until this beast is slain. Bring the guards in on your way out.”

Feta bowed and exited the throne room. Eager to begin his mission, Feta rounded a corner too quickly and smacked into someone. They both tumbled to the ground. Feta paled seeing who he knocked down. Princess Mascarpone rubbed her back where she’d fallen and groaned slightly.

“Princess!” Feta pulled her to her feet. “Are you okay? My sincerest apologies.”

Princess Mascarpone’s features softened as she gazed at Feta, his brown cheeks flushing pink under her study. “Sir Feta.” Her voice could ripen fruit. “It is fine.”

Realizing their paws were still together, Feta dropped hers. One day, he would hold her paw before the king and offer his service to her: either as husband, knight, maid, whatever form she would take him as.

“What are you in such a rush for?” she asked.

The dreamt future was ruined by the memory of the caterpillar. “Princess, do not be alarmed, but there may be a monster loose in the kingdom. I am on my way to find and slay it.”

Princess Mascarpone smiled. “I would never worry when our bravest knight is protecting us.” She pulled a tiny cloth from the pocket of her gown. Tiny ducks were sown into it, but the portion she handed Feta only showed a bill. “Please take this. Perhaps it will come in handy.”

Feta didn’t comment that his fishhook would prove more useful than a tissue, and accepted the gift. A fairytale knight always accepted the token gifted by his true love. “Thank you, Princess.”

They lingered together for too long. The silence turning noticeable to those around them.

“I must go,” Feta declared. “Princess Mascarpone, please say here where it is safe. We do not know where this monster may be. Your father is ordering everyone to stay put.”

She nodded, and Feta left the Kitchen Cupboard Kingdom.

The fairytale home on the corner of Dunbar Road and Kent Avenue was free of intruders. Feta checked with the avian guard stationed on the shingles and they reported zero activity along the perimeter. He chatted with the mouse guard as they ushered rodents inside their homes and came up empty-pawed. Feta paid off a cockroach missing a leg for information who could only tell the knight the bathrooms were free of pests. It seemed aside from the caterpillar that morning, everything inside the kingdom had their legs. This Legless beast of legend and rumor may just be that: A rumored threat to scare the kingdom.

Feta skidded to a stop above the stairs leading to the dungeon. The cold and moist air of the underground raised up and tangled in his fur. The only thing down there were the deadly traps the home’s owners sometimes used and forgotten creatures that feared the light. If a monster did exist, it would exist there. Feta took a breath, gathered his courage, and descended into the darkness.

His eyes adjusted slowly, and the shadows took shape. Littering the floor of the dudgeon were perilous towers of boxes, totes, dusty toys, and a couch with more springs on the outside than then inside. Feta gripped his fishhook and searched the dark and damp dungeon.

It didn’t take long for Feta to find the beast. Curled up under the radiator, absorbing the heat within its black scales, slept a massive snake. Feta’s heart raced, his whiskers twitched, his tail stiffened, his fur bristled. The Legless was a mouse eater. This Feta was sure of. He was also sure his fishhook, so small compared to the snake, could not defeat this beast alone. Feta backed away slowly, he would need the help of the mouse guard, of the palace wizard, perhaps the help of the home’s owners.

As he retreated, a clang rang out through the dungeon. The snake stirred, its black scales shifting as it moved. As it awoke. Dropping to all fours, Feta raced away and hid behind a wheel of a tricycle. Here he saw the cause of the commotion: A collection of plastic bobbles skittered across the floor, settling from their fall. Between the colorful orbs, Feta saw two mice cowering together.

He couldn’t miss the white fur of Princess Mascarpone. He ran to her and the milky-eyed mouse she was with.

“Princess!” Feta gasped, helping her to her feet. “What are you doing here?”

“Romano wouldn’t have known about the beast,” she answered. “I wanted to bring him to the palace.”

Feta’s panic softened at her kindness. The half-blind mouse willingly lived in the darkness to not damage his eye any further. “You need to get out of here. The Legless is here. It’s a rat snake.”

Both Princess Mascarpone and Romano gasped. Feta removed his gifted handkerchief from his pocket and tied it around Romano’s bad eye. “Can you get him out of here?”

“Of course,” Princess Mascarpone answered. “But what will you do?”

“Distract the beast. I’ll buy you time.”

Princess Mascarpone grabbed his paw. “That’s too dangerous.”

“Nothing is too dangerous to keep you safe. Please, hurry before the Legless gets any closer.”

“Thatsss too late for you, mousssssse.” A smelly and hot breath poured down around the mice as the rat snake loomed above them.

“Go!” Feta shoved Princess Mascarpone away and turned on the snake, fishhook drawn and ready.

When Feta Fromage decided to become a knight, he assumed he’d fight off the occasional garden bug, scare off a neighborhood cat, work alongside the mouse guard to ward off the home’s owners, but he never imagined he’d fight a five-foot-long rat snake. But, as a knight, he could not turn his back on any danger to the kingdom. He would never turn his back on Princess Mascarpone.

Feta jabbed his weapon at the snake, but it was surprisingly fast for being so large. It raised its massive head and struck at Feta. Feta tried to skirt away, but a long tooth sliced open his arm. Blood trickled down to his paw. Feta knew he needed a better plan. Going head-to-head with the Legless wasn’t working. He didn’t dare look behind him and see how far Princess Mascarpone had gotten, he didn’t want the snake to see any new prey.

The Legless’ tail whipped around and knocked over a box of tools. A flashlight tumbled down and clicked on. Long shadows of the fight stretched along the walls. The beast shielded its eyes momentarily and Feta leaped forward, driving his fishhook deep into the snake’s neck. Feta slid down the length of the snake with his hook slicing open the monster. Both he and it collapsed to the ground, but only one returned to his paws.

Feta stared at the felled beast with an open mouth and wide eyes. He had done it! He had slain the Legless. Feta Fromage was the bravest knight in the Kitchen Cupboard Kingdom. His celebration was cut short though, and Feta ran to the stairs in search of Princess Mascarpone and Romano. He reached the top stair before he found them.

And the entire mouse guard and King Stilton and Queen Baybel.

Feta dropped to a knee, bowing to the royal family. “The Legless beast has been slain. It was a rat snake, your Cheesiness.”

A wave of gasps, murmurs, and shaking of toothpick spears came over the crowd.

“Are you sure it is dead?” asked King Stilton.

“Of course, he’s sure, Papa.” Princess Mascarpone pulled Feta to his feet. “I saw everything from the stairs.”

“Are you okay?” Feta whispered to her. Princess Mascarpone’s white fur was covered in dirt and grime.

“I am fine.” Princess Mascarpone ripped the hemline of her skirt off to tie around Feta’s bleeding arm. “It is you who I worry about.”

King Stilton cleared his throat. Feta tried to step away from his daughter, but Princess Mascarpone held him still to finish the bandage.

“Knight Feta Fromage, I believe this kingdom owes you a debt.”

“No, my king, it is my job to protect the kingdom.”

Queen Baybel stepped forward. “Then perhaps this kingdom recognize you for your actions today, and always. Hero Feta Fromage, a knight of legend.”

Feta could have slain a hundred monsters, but nothing was greater than the reward of Princess Mascarpone’s kiss on his cheek. The crowd behind the royal family cheered for their new hero.

Art by Rachel Crum. Instragram

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