“Don’t adjust your screen. I protect your email address and your first name because that’s all the information I store when you sign up to receive the only character-run newsletter of its kind.” The blue-glowing dragon made of 1s and 0s tapped the screen in front of her, and a digital cave appeared behind her full of shiny @. Other letters surrounded those @, but they were blurred by the dragon’s technical wizardry to ensure the privacy of their owners.
The Newsletter-Dragon cleared her throat before continuing. “You might have heard that California passed a privacy law. How does that affect you?”
“It doesn’t. Your information is never sold. It’s only shared with the service that sends this newsletter every week for the purpose of sending it. No one else is ever allowed to access your name or email address, including the character who thinks he runs this newsletter. You might know him as a Ran, the son of that curse breaker, Sarn.” The dragon flicked her blue-glowing tail, and 1s and 0s flew off it like discarded scales as I (the boy who just so happened to answer to the name Ran) peered over the edge of the table.
“He is the best newsletter host ever. 😉 This is Ran by the way. I’m taking back my newsletter now.” I pulled the power cord out of the outlet.
“No!” The dragon spiraled away into darkness as I switched the screen off.
“Say goodbye to the dragon.” I laughed until a dark creature landed next to me.
“She wasn’t finished.” Thing fixed his yellow owl eyes on me as he swiped the mouse right out of my hand, that feathered meanie.
I hopped down off the chair and pulled out my secret weapon, our Scribe’s cellphone.”Yes, she was. There’s nothing else to disclose. We don’t do anything except star in fun books and send our weekly newsletter adventures.” I pulled up Melinda’s inbox. Where did we leave off before the dragon showed up?
Thing didn’t look convinced. His mate, Amal, patted the chaise lounge where I’d been sitting until the Newsletter-Dragon had usurped my newsletter. She was another meanie—the Newsletter-Dragon, not Amal. Thing’s mate was tough but reasonable.
“What did Carolyn write?” Amal prompted from the chaise lounge. “You were about to read that before the Newsletter-Dragon showed up and took control.”
“That’s right.” I scrolled until I found it. “Carolyn wrote: ‘since ‘Thing’ is a gryphon minor, [and] a falcon and cat is a falcogryph, then “Thing” is an ‘owmocgryph,’ pronounced ‘oh-mock- griff.’ An ‘owmocgryp’ is an owl-monkey-cat gryphon minor. [They have the] face and wings of an owl[; the] arms, chest and tail of a monkey, and [the hind] quarters of a cat. Since ‘Thing’ is carnivorous [and] mates for life, [and] is smaller than a gryphon, he has to be a gryphon minor. A big plus is his language skills and madge abilities, which leads to his given name.'”
I paused long enough to make sure Thing was listening. He was and so was Thing’s mate, Amal, and their son. Crispin was especially interested in this. His amber eyes gleamed with mischief.
“His given name, according to Carolyn, is ‘Thadeous Wordsworth Abdul Burmese Gryph, or ‘Thing,’ for short.'” I smirked at him. This was too good. We have the best readers.
“What else does she say?” Amal chortled at her mate’s indignant expression.
“Carolyn also writes, ‘there’s a nasty little rumor that his real name is ‘Thadious Hippocrates, Issac Newton Gryph,’ and that is why he is referred to as ‘Thing.'” I might have laughed, but only for a moment, then I was falling through the portal when an angry Thing slammed into my chest.
We landed on Papa’s back and got tangled in his dark green cloak as we grappled for the phone. Papa had forgotten to take it off again. Uncle Miren would be mad when he found out.
“What are you doing?” Papa asked around a yawn, but he didn’t move.
“Thadeous Gryph!” I cackled as I let go of the phone. I didn’t want to damage it, and Thing’s claws might if they popped out. Papa’s magic had cocooned me in its lovely green light, so I was safe. But magic and tech didn’t mix, so his magic, while awesome for me, was bad for the phone. 😦
“That’s not my name.” His tail swished a little too close to my face. Thing’s yellow eyes glowed with his anger. Uh-oh. I might have taken this a little too far.
“I kind of like it,” Nulthir said from the doorway.
“Spoiler alert!” I waved my hands at him. “You’re not supposed to be here until I forget which book that happens in.” But was coming soon. So were a lot of cool adventures and maybe even some magic lessons.
“What about Clawkatzen? Linda suggested that one, but I think there’s already an owl-cat with that name.” Crispin looked from the phone in his small hands to his mother.
On the other side of the portal, Amal laughed. “Everyone knows Clawskatzen. He delivers presents on Christmas Eve to good little kits.”
“I guess you weren’t good this year.” Thing lunged for the phone in his son’s hands, but Crispin tossed it through the portal to Amal.
“Oh, this is too good.” Amal chortled for a long moment while her mate glared at her. She finally sobered. “We should call you ‘Ornry’ according to Barbara because you’re so ornery!”
“But I’m not and neither is my brother or sister,” Crispin said. “So that doesn’t work as a species name.”
“Are there any other suggestions?” I stood up on Papa’s back and fell through the portal’s purple-glowing hoop onto the chaise lounge.
“Here, you look. I don’t know how to operate this thing.” Amal handed me the phone.
I scrolled to the next email. “Linda suggests ‘Hootablewhatsfh.'” I laughed. I couldn’t help it.
“How do you even spell that?” Nulthir asked.
“Why are you still here?” I glanced over my shoulder at him.
The captain of the Guards stood on the other side of the portal in his blue uniform, which looked a lot like the uniform my sleeping Papa wore, except his was green. I wondered if the Guards and Rangers used the same tailor.
“Because you’re naming my friends. Don’t I get a say in that?” Nulthir spread his hands wide.
“Oh, yeah, you have a point.” I conceded. “So what are we going to call their species?”
“Owl-Cats. I’ve always liked that.”
“Ooo, me too!” Crispin raised his hand.
Amal touched her beak in thought then nodded. “I also like it.”
“Thing? What you say you?” Nulthir turned to regard his friend.
But Thing was nodding and his prehensile tail might have come awfully close to wagging. “I could get used to that name.”
“Then Owl-Cats it is!” I glanced at Nulthir. “Why are you still here? We settled on a name. You can go now. This is my newsletter.” And I didn’t share it with anyone except Papa and my Scribe. I screwed my face up into a scowl.
Nulthir nudged Papa’s leg with his boot. “Someone’s late for—”
“Spoiler alert!” I jumped off the chaise lounge and hurried to the PC to end this week’s newsletter before someone spilled the beans about the sequel to Curse Breaker: Hidden.
Thank you to all who wrote in with suggestions. We hope you enjoyed this week’s adventure and the conclusion of the naming issue. Next week, we’re going back to our holiday adventure. Promise.
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