THE SURPRISING STORM: Wizard Watchit's spell starts a storm in a teacup - but it doesn't end there! A free Custard Castle story
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THE SURPRISING STORM

by Emma Laybourn

A Custard Castle story

Custard Castle, from the free children's fairy tales by Emma Laybourn

The King was very excited.

"I've got an invitation to King Ludo's party!" he said. "All the top Kings will be there!"

"Can I go?" asked Princess Fifi.

"Certainly not! It's Kings only."

"What about queens?" the Queen asked.

"Didn't you hear me? This is a kingly party," said the King. "We play kingly games like Pass the Crown, and we talk about kingly things."

"What sort of kingly things?"

"Like who has the biggest dragon, and the highest tower, and the most gold, and the newest clothes. I'd better wear my best red velvet gown. Where is my red velvet gown, Bella?"

"In your wardrobe," said Bella the maid.

"No, it's not!" said the King. "I've already looked in there."

"In the Queen's wardrobe?" suggested Bella.

The Queen looked shocked. She was wearing her overalls. "Me? A red velvet gown? Never!"

"Um," said Princess Fifi. "I just, um, borrowed it for a day or two."

"You borrowed my best velvet gown?" cried the King.

"To go skating in. It's a bit long, but it's nice and soft," said Fifi. "It stops me getting bruises when I fall over."

"You fell over?" shrieked the King.

"It's all right," said Fifi. "I didn't hurt myself."

"But what about my gown?" groaned the King.

Fifi shrugged. "It's only a little bit muddy."

Bella went to Fifi's room to find the gown. It was under Fifi's bed with her roller-skates wrapped up in it. It was covered in thick, black mud.

When the King saw it, he was furious.

"Get that gown clean by tomorrow!" he roared at Bella.

"It won't be easy," Bella said.

"Why not? It's your job to clean things. Go and sort it out!"

So Bella went off to the kitchen to wash the red velvet gown.

It took her a long, long time. She had to wash it very carefully, so that the red dye would not come out.

She could not scrub it in case she spoilt the velvet. She could not use hot water in case she shrank it.

And she could not squeeze the water out in case she creased it. So after she had washed the gown, she hung it in the courtyard to dry.

The red velvet gown drooped and dripped. There was no wind. There was no sun.

The King's gown drips on the line: from The Surprising Storm, a free kids' online fairy tale

"This gown will never get dry!" said Bella, feeling very worried.

"I know what to do," said Jack, the servant-boy. "Let's use the dragon! It can breathe hot air at the gown to dry it."

He ran to fetch the sleepy dragon from the cupboard under the stairs. They kept it there for lighting the fires in the castle. Although it was only a small dragon, it was very good at breathing fire.

They aimed the dragon at the gown and prodded it until it puffed out yellow flames. The velvet gown began to steam. Then it began to smoke.

"Stop, stop!" cried Bella. "The dragon will burn the gown!"

"Bother," said Jack. "I'll go and find the wizard. Maybe he can do a spell."

He took the dragon back to its cupboard. Then he ran to the tallest tower, where Wizard Watchit lived with the ghost.

"Wizard!" he shouted. "Magic needed!"

When the Wizard came down from his tower, Bella explained the problem.

"We need to dry the King's red gown," she said. "Please can you do a spell to make the sun shine and the wind blow?"

The Wizard scratched his head. "Tricky," he said. "I can't put a spell on the sun: it's much too big and much too far away."

"Well, what about the wind?" asked Jack.

"That's almost as hard," said Wizard Watchit. "Why does the King need his red gown for this party anyway? He could wear his purple one instead."

"You can tell him that," said Bella. "I'm not."

"All right. I will!"

The Wizard marched into the palace. The King was in the parlour with a cup of tea.

"What do you want?" snapped the King. "I'm doing some very important work."

"Drinking tea?"

"I'm planning! I'm deciding how to impress the other kings at the party."

"Oh, yes, the party," said the Wizard. "Why don't you wear your nice purple gown to it?"

The King looked annoyed. "I wore my purple gown to the last party! They've all seen it! I want to wear my new red gown."

"I'm afraid it won't be dry in time," said Wizard Watchit.

The King stamped his foot. "Then you'd better make it dry! Just do some magic!"

"But-"

"How hard can it be to dry a gown?" the King demanded. "What a big fuss about nothing! You're making a storm in a teacup. Now go and sort it out!"

The Wizard left. He felt quite upset.

"The King knows nothing about magic," he fumed. "He doesn't know how hard it is to change the weather. A storm in a tea-cup indeed!"

That gave him an idea. He peered back into the room, where the King was finishing his cup of tea.

"I'll give him a storm in a teacup," said the Wizard to himself. "I can manage that much weather. I'll show him who's making a big fuss about nothing!"

He muttered a short spell under his breath, and stamped away.

In the parlour, the teacup began to shake in the King's hand. He stared down at it in surprise.

Tea-leaves were swirling round and round inside the cup. It looked as if there was a little whirlwind in there.

A little storm is brewing in the King's teacup

"Aargh!" said the King. "What's that?" Holding the teacup at arm's length, he ran into the next room.

The next room was the royal bathroom. The Queen was lying under the basin with a bucket. She was mending a pipe.

"Help!" cried the King, and he threw the teacup into her bucket.

The teacup broke. Immediately the tiny whirlwind grew to fill the bucket.

The Queen jumped up. "My goodness!" she exclaimed. "What's that?"

"I've no idea!" yelped the King. "Make it go away!"

So the Queen picked up the bucket and threw it into the bath.

The bucket tipped over. At once the bath was full of swirling, whirling wind. The tiny storm grew to fill the tub. It made a humming sound, like a bath-tub full of bees.

"Get rid of it!" howled the King.

"Don't worry," said the Queen. "I'll send it down the plughole."

She pulled out the plug. With a gurgle, the storm was sucked down the plughole and into the drain. They watched it spiral down until nothing was left.

"No problem!" said the Queen. "It's gone."

Then they both heard a strange noise outside. It was a humming, roaring, whirling sound, and it was getting louder and louder.

They peered out of the window. The storm was escaping from the bottom of the drainpipe. It began to whirl round and round in the open air. It was growing bigger every second.

"Help!" screamed the King. "We've got a hurricane!"

"I think it's a tornado, actually," said the Queen.

"I don't care what it is," the King wailed. "I don't want it in my castle. Wizard!"

But the Wizard could not hear him call. The storm was too loud. The wind no longer sounded like a bunch of busy bees. It growled and howled like a pack of restless wolves.

The storm set out to explore Custard Castle. It whirled round every wall. It roared round every tower. It ripped the flags from the turrets and spun the weather-vane round so hard that it broke off.

When Jack and Bella heard the storm, they ran to shelter in the kitchen.

When Wizard Watchit heard the storm, he dived into the King's treasure room. He sat there with the Thing, listening to the wind rage and roar outside.

When Princess Fifi heard the storm, she looked out of her window and saw flags whirling past.

"Good weather for kite-flying!" she said. She ran to her cupboard to get her kites.

But as soon as she took them outside, the storm decided to play with them. It grabbed the kites from Fifi's hands and threw them high into the sky.

Fifi ran back inside and shut herself in her cupboard, before the wind could throw her high into the sky as well.

Up in the Wizard's tower, the ghost heard the storm. It looked out of the door just as the storm came rushing in.

The storm snatched up the ghost and tried to make it play. The ghost went tumbling round the tower like a handkerchief in a washing machine. At last it managed to escape into the wizard's cauldron.

The storm was disappointed because the ghost would not play. Yowling and howling, it tugged at the roof of the Wizard's tower. It pulled the roof right off and flung it high into the sky.

Then it rushed off to find something else to play with.

It swept under arches and over walls, until it found the courtyard where the King's red gown was hanging. It began to play with the gown.

Bella and Jack watched through the kitchen window as the gown flapped on the washing line.

"This wind will dry the gown!" said Jack.

"If it doesn't blow it away first," groaned Bella.

By now, however, the storm was tired of whirling through the castle. It was ready for a change. The wind stopped roaring quite so loudly.

A moment later, it began to rain.

This was no ordinary rain. The raindrops were as big as marbles, and they fell in thousands. Soon the courtyard was ankle-deep in water. The red gown was no longer dripping: it was streaming.

The rain stopped as suddenly as it had started. The next minute, it began to hail. Huge hailstones battered at the castle roofs and clattered on the cobbles.

At last the hail stopped. Then there was just time for a little snow, before the thunderstorm began.

"This has gone too far!" said Bella between booms of thunder and flashes of lightning. "Where's the Wizard? Can't he stop this dreadful storm?"

The Wizard was still in the treasure room with the Thing. They sat and listened to the thunder. After a while, it went quiet.

"GRARRK," said the Thing.

"Do you think so?" said the Wizard.

"BLOOGRURP," said the Thing.

"Maybe you're right," said the Wizard. Cautiously he opened the door.

By now the storm was very tired indeed. It had played all the games that it could think of. It whirled half-heartedly a few more times around the castle: then it stopped altogether.

It dropped all the kites and flags and weathervanes that it had thrown into the sky. The roof fell down from the clouds, and landed with a crash back on top of the Wizard's tower. The exhausted storm blew itself away for a nice lie-down in a distant field.

The Wizard went to find the others. The King and Queen were in the courtyard, looking very glum.

"We need new drains," the Queen said, gazing at the puddles.

"Never mind the drains. I need a new red gown!" wailed the King, staring at the washing line. He looked as if he might be going to cry.

"At least it's clean," said Wizard Watchit.

This was true. The King's best red velvet gown had been washed, spun, scoured and dried by the surprising storm. It was now very clean indeed.

It was also full of little neat holes left by lightning bolts, and big ragged holes left by hailstones. The rain had shrunk it to half the size it had been; and the dye had run.

The gown was no longer grand and rich and red. It was small and tattered and a rather pretty shade of pink.

"I can't wear that to King Ludo's party!" howled the King.

"Hurrah!" cried Fifi. "That means I can have it as a roller-skating gown. It's my favourite colour - and now it fits me perfectly!"

"But what about the party?" wailed the King.

"Just wear your purple gown," said Bella.

"It's all that dreadful storm's fault!" groaned the King. "Where on earth did it come from?"

"Can't imagine," said the Wizard. "Never mind! Now you've got something to boast about that will really impress the other Kings."

"What's that?" the King whimpered.

The Wizard pointed to the tower roof. It was crooked where the storm had dropped it.

"You may not have the newest gown, or the most gold, or the biggest dragon," he told the King, "but you had the highest tower by far - for at least ten minutes!"

THE END

Copyright © 2013 Emma Laybourn

Download the ebook of THE SURPRISING STORM:
   Click here for Kindle (mobi) or click here for other ereaders (epub).

Read another Custard Castle story:
    The Thing in the Dungeon
    The Dragon under the Stairs
    The Messy Princess
    The Marvellous Moat
    Princess Fifi's Frog
    Spring Clean
    Dragon Dilemma
    The New Witch

Find out about the Custard Castle ebook:
    The Ghost of Custard Castle

The cover of the children's ebook: The Ghost of Custard Castle, six funny fairy tales by Emma Laybourn

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