The Lorelei Signal
Written by Deby Fredericks / Artwork by Marcia Borell
Somewhere in the wondrous Realm of Atlantis, a cockatrice huddles in a gloomy grotto. Rough seas crash against the cave mouth. Every night, this innocent creature wonders if the tide will bring a few crabs to eat—or merely flood his crude shelter with icy waves.
On a desolate mountaintop, a mother gryphon shivers on her nest. She struggles to keep her fragile brood warm and fed. There's little prey so high above the world, but she doesn't dare hunt on the plains below. Too many wizards want her feathers to decorate their hats.
Just outside the proud capital, a circus is in full swing. Fireworks glitter and dazzling acrobatics amaze the crowd. But there's a cage at the farthest end of the side show, where a miserable old chimera lives his life in bondage. His cage is so small, he can't even stretch out all three necks. Both his lion and dragon teeth are worn to nubs from endlessly trying to gnaw through the cruel bars.
Sadly, we at the Atlantis Aid Society hear tragic stories like this every day. Fantastic creatures spend their lives in suffering and fear. Human wizards stitched them together with terrible magicks. Some were meant to be exotic pets and playthings. Only, once they ceased to amuse their barbaric masters, they were abandoned in the woods and fields.
Others were created to work as menials. The cockatrice was one of these. He lived each day to please his mistress by catching rats in her underground labyrinth. When the rats were all gone, his owner left him there to starve. And she called the cockatrice a monster!
Why do the wizards do this? We humble creatures can never understand. What we do know is how wrong they are to toy with helpless living things. The Atlantis Aid Society knows there is a better way. With your help, we can grant distressed monsters a brighter future.
You may ask what you can do against the wizards and their dreadful powers. But just look around at all the things you take for granted. Scales you shed and throw out. Pinprick gems that really aren't worth counting in your hoard. These mean little to you, but they could make all the difference to a beast in need.
If just one unicorn thins its mane, those hairs can weave a warm lining for the griffin's nest. She can leave her hatchlings to work as a guardian beast, without having to worry about their health. Such a generous gift would only increase the unicorn's beauty.
If each siren in the Atlantis Atolls donated a single coral branch from her garden, they could construct a breakwater for the cockatrice's grotto. Even a dragon's shed scales can be ground into a nutritious powder that would allow the chimera to rekindle its flame and reclaim its dignity.
The Atlantis Aid Society is made up of many benevolent magickal beasts, from humble gnomes to mighty dragons. All are equal in our devotion to ending poverty for suffering creatures throughout Atlantis.
And the need has never been greater. The aged chimera deserves so much more than ground scales. If every dragon donated a single silver coin from its hoard, we could redeem the chimera from slavery. That's right—the Atlantis Aid Society is negotiating with the wizard who owns that circus. We've settled on a fair price to emancipate this tattered creature.
But time is short. The circus begins its next tour in just six weeks and won't return for another year. That may be too late for the chimera. Your donation of a silver piece could be the last coin we need to rescue our comrade. On that glorious day, we'll smash the lock from the cage door and the chimera will walk free for the first time in nearly 60 years. Atlantis Aid specialists will be there, guiding him to a sheltered grove where he can enjoy his retirement in peace and safety.
How strange and sad it is that careless wizards look down upon us and call us monsters. At the Atlantis Aid Society, we believe the opposite. Dragons are truly majestic; sirens are deeply compassionate; unicorns are noble beyond words. Just one lock of hair, one coral branch, one scale or silver coin can make so much difference.
I implore you to send whatever you can, for the aid of these desperate creatures and so many others. Won't you please help?
Yours in hope and friendship,
The Atlantis Aid Society
Deby Fredericks has been a writer all her life, but thought of it as just a fun hobby until the late 1990s. She made her first sale, a children's poem, in 2000.
Fredericks has six fantasy novels out through two small presses. More recently, she self-publishes her fantasy novellas and novelettes, bringing her to 13 books in all. Her current series is Minstrels of Skaythe, beginning with The Tower in the Mist.