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Caleb and Jester reading Der Katzenprinz - UndeadEmpress

Fan art of Caleb and Jester reading Der Katzenprinz, by UndeadEmpress.[art 1]

Der Katzenprinz, or The Cat Prince in Common, is a Zemnian children's book from Caleb's childhood, found on the small round table in each of the bedrooms of Widogast's Nascent Nein-Sided Tower. On the cover is a beautiful gold leaf illustration of a cat standing on two feet and holding out a top hat.[1] The story is about a sickly young boy who meets a cat from the woods who wears a small top hat and encourages him to dance, which helps the boy recover.[2]

History[]

"An Open Window" (2x114)[]

Jester looked at the books in her room in Caleb's Tower to see if any were readable. She saw the cover of Der Katzenprinz, noting it was cute and wanting to read it, but since it was in Zemnian, she just ordered some cocoa and stared at the cover. The next morning, she confronted Caleb about the book and he offered to read it to her sometime.

"Fetching Fables & Frosty Friends" (2x115)[]

After having previously tried to read the book before noticing it was written in Zemnian, Jester knocked on Caleb's door in the Tower to ask him to cast Tongues on her so that she would be able to read the story. Rather than doing so, he invited her in and read the full story to her himself.

"The Mighty Nein Reunion: Echoes of the Solstice" (Sx79)[]

Within Trent Ikithon's re-creation of the Ermendrud family home in Blumenthal was a very worn copy of Der Katzenprinz.[3]

Text[]

Der Katzenprinz - Christian Thor Lally

Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Christian Thor Lally.[art 2]

Der Katzenprinz - Janelle Krzykowski

Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Janelle Krzykowski.[art 3]

Der Katzenprinz - Foltzy

Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Foltzy.[art 4]

Der Katzenprinz - Michelle Kan-little bird

Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Michelle Kan-little bird.[art 5]

Dancing with the Katzenprinz - Daisy Wellsted

Fan art of dancing with the Katzenprinz, by Daisy Wellsted.[art 6]

Der Katzenprinz - superfrumpkin

Fan art of Der Katzenrprinz, by superfrumpkin.[art 7]

Der Katzenprinz - Eliza Ferdig

Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Eliza Ferdig.[art 8]

Once upon a time in a little house on the edge of a great wide wood lived a young boy with his mother. The poor boy was sick and spent much of his days in bed watching the days pass by from a little window in his room. The boy's mother loved him very much, but as it was just the two of them and the boy was ill of health and frail of form, every day she had to make the journey to town where she worked in the kitchens of the local lord. While she was gone, the boy would mind the house, read one of their precious few books and observe the bees and the trees and the birds in flight as he spent the greater part of his time resting in bed. The boy knew that his mother loved him, and that her time away was all for his sake, and he was grateful to her and loved her in return, but it was a lonely life, spending his days re-reading some of the same books or talking to the air in their little home on the wood's edge.

One day, as the boy sat in bed looking out at the fields that lay between his home and the woods, he noticed a cat making its way out of the forest. It was not long before the boy realized this cat clearly making its way towards his home was no ordinary cat, for upon his head he wore a little top hat. And if that were not strange enough on its own, as the cat pattered up beneath the boy's window, he stood, doffed his cap, took a bow and said: "Greetings, young master. You look as if you could use a bit of dancing."

The boy, stunned by these words from the dapper little cat, could scarcely find his voice. "Oh, no, sir," said the boy. "I don't know how to dance. Nor am I made for it."

"Nonsense," said the cat. "Why, anyone can dance if only they look to. Come out of doors and let me show you." And as he spoke, the cat donned his hat and began to turn in circles and dance.

The boy was curious but said, "Good Sir Cat, I am afraid I am ill. My lungs are too weak and my bones are too frail."

"Oh, maybe they are and maybe they aren't," the cat replied. "But either way, you do not want to languish one more day in bed watching the world go by, do you? Come, take a walk with me through the fields, and I will show you how to dance."

Overcoming his doubts, the boy managed to climb down from his window and walk a few steps closer. This was no ordinary cat and no ordinary day, and though he felt unsure, his heart did leap a little and he began to follow the marvelous little cat through the grass, slowly at first but with more vigor as they crossed the fields. And eventually, he found himself stepping under the shade of the woods for the first time in a great many years. All the while, the cat frolicked and capered as they wound their way deeper into the wood, and eventually the boy found himself stepping into a ring of trees. The cat, whirling about, his hat in hand, the furry little dancer twirled around the boy laughing and calling while the boy watched, his mouth agape. And then, quick as a flash, the cat brought his top hat down right atop the boy's head, who was very suddenly plunged into darkness.

But only a moment, because all about him, shining in the dark, he saw the glow of hundreds of eyes, feline eyes glimmering in the dark. Suddenly about him lanterns flared to light and the boy saw he was no longer in a wood at all. Here, he saw a grand ballroom, festively decorated and filled to the brim with cats. Big cats, small ones, old cats, young ones, cats of every breed and color, and in the center of the great hall upon a stage stood the boy's feline guide. Only now, he was dressed in very fine robes, and upon his head sat a thin golden crown of wrought golden leaves.

The boy stood in wonder and amazement as the great host of cats bowed to their prince and then, in turn, bowed to him. "The world of men is heavy and hard," the princely cat proclaimed. "But here, across the veil, we move with lighter step. Dance with us, child, and forget your troubles for a spell."

All at once, scores of cats closed in around the boy, purring and turning about his legs as thick as the sea. And as they moved, so too did the boy's feet. He swirled amongst them like a cork on the water, and before he knew it, the boy was dancing -- dancing and dancing as he never imagined he could. And his breath, much to his surprise, was hearty and hale. He found he no longer felt ill in the least.

Hours passed, and he and all the cats danced without end, and the prince of cats more than all of them. After a long while, the boy suddenly remembered his mother, and immediately feared she would worry. He stopped in the middle of the great hall and called out to the prince of cats, "Forgive me, Sir Cat, but I can no longer stay. My mother will worry. I have to return."

All the cats parted before him and the prince approached the boy. "Are you sure, boy? You could stay and dance with us for as long as you wish, forever and ever and ever."

"I cannot," the boy replied. "My mother has only me and I would not leave her alone. Forgive me."

The prince of cats looked on the boy with a sympathetic eye. "Not at all, young one. Fear not a whit. You do your mother credit." And with that, the prince of cats stepped closer. "Do not look so crestfallen. Take our cat's grace with you. You can always dance if the will is there." And from behind his back, he brought out his top hat again and pulled it over the boy's eyes and once again, all was dark.

Sometime later, the boy stirred and his eyes fluttered open. He looked about and discovered he had been asleep in the wood and the sun now dappled his face through the trees. Next, he noticed a threadbare patched top hat lying in the soft grass beside him. He gingerly picked it up and stood within the same circle of trees. As he did so, he took a deep breath and smelled the earth and the forest, and as he did, he realized his breath was strong, and his legs hardy.

"Danke," he said, as he looked down at the hat in his hands. And placing it upon his head, he smiled, kicked up his heels, and quietly started to dance his way all the way back home.

The End.
– 
Der Katzenprinz by Liam O'Brien[4]
[!h]

Trivia[]

  • As Caleb was telling Jester the story, Liam O'Brien recounted the entire story live at the table. He stated that he had written the story "today" (the day the episode was recorded).[5]
  • Der Katzenprinz is the second Zemnian fairy tale created by Liam, the first being Die Waldhexe, told on Narrative Telephone.
  • In-universe, the "veil" the protagonist crosses with the Cat Prince might symbolize him entering another realm, like the Plane of Faerie.

References[]

  1. See "An Open Window" (2x114) at 1:57:21.
  2. See "Fetching Fables & Frosty Friends" (2x115) from 1:54:06 through 2:01:23.
  3. See "The Mighty Nein Reunion: Echoes of the Solstice" (Sx79) at 3:02:02.
  4. See "Fetching Fables & Frosty Friends" (2x115) from 1:54:06 through 2:01:23.
  5. See "Fetching Fables & Frosty Friends" (2x115) at 2:02:59.

Art:

  1. Fan art of Caleb and Jester reading Der Katzenprinz, by UndeadEmpress (source). Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Christian Thor Lally (source). Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Janelle Krzykowski (source). Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Foltzy (source). Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Michelle Kan-little bird (source). Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of dancing with the Katzenprinz, by Daisy Wellsted (source). Used with permission.
  7. Fan art of Der Katzenrprinz, by superfrumpkin (source). Used with permission.
  8. Fan art of Der Katzenprinz, by Eliza Ferdig (source). Used with permission.
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