* The Luffins will eventually be illustrated. Some descriptions may be confusing without pictures.
* The strange object is a flute. * The round cave is a bandstand.
* This is a first draught. I will be very grateful for any feedback from parents or children.
* Is it too scary ? * Is it too confusing ? * Does it hold their attention ? * Is it worth pursuing.
Many thanks. John.
1. IN THE BEGINNING
Many thousands of years ago, when people still lived in caves and huge monsters roamed the land, there was a small tribe of happy, peace loving people.
Their kindly elder was called Chief Luffin. He lived for a long time, and the tribe became known as The Luffins. Their days were spent collecting food, playing, lying in the sun, telling stories and sleeping.
It would have been a carefree time, but for one problem. A huge beast, taller than the tallest trees, had found where they lived and kept returning to terrorise them.
The monster's teeth were bigger than the tallest Luffin and it had claws that could cut through the trees with one mighty blow. Every time the beast returned, the Luffins had to run into their cave and hide until the monsteer had gone.
After many months of living in fear, Chief Luffin decided that something must be done before one of them was caught by the monster. He called together all the adults of his tribe and ordered them to make spears and bows and arrows. Some even made large catapults to hurl rocks at the beast.
When every adult had made a weapon, they all went off in search of the monster. They left behind them, all of the young children, safe inside a small cave where the monster couldn't get them.
The children were told not to leave the cave until the grown ups returned. Many days passed without any sign of the elders. The children grew hunfry and frightened. At last, after five long days, a lone elder returned. His name was Keddy, and although he was badly hurt, he had managed to return to warn the children.
He lay down in the cave to rest and tend his wounds. Eventually, he managed to tell how the beast had destroyed all of the elders. They had fought hard and wounded the monster, but he was too big for them. Only Keddy had managed to get away to tell the children that they were alone now. With his last breath, he told them that there were no more adults and they must look after themselves.
Many more days passed as the frightened children grew hungrier and hungrier. But they were too frightened to leave the cave for fear of the great beast outside. Then, one night, as they were huddled together, scared and cold, the beast found them. A dark shadow crept inside the cave as a massive head appeared against the moon. The children ran screaming to the back of the cave as the beasts giant fangs glinted in the moonlight. The monster was too large to get into the cave, but his long leathery arm reached deep inside as his talons tore at the rocks. The children were forced further into the cave than they had ever been before. As the huge claw reached for them, they ran deeper and deeper into the cave. Down a maze of passages until they were sure the beast couldn't get them. Eventually, they came to a large cavern with rocks that glowed and sweet smelling plants that grew from the walls. The children recognised the plants instantly. Once a year, on the day of their birth, Chief Luffin would bring them a special treat. It was a delicious tasting food that was only ever to be picked by adults from deep inside the cave. Now the children had found it by accident.
They hadn't eaten anything for a week, but now they ate until they thought they would burst. They called the plants Keddy, to remember the last brave elder that they ever saw. There too, in the cavern, was an underground stream that gave them water. And the rocks that glowed, gave them warmth that took the chill from their bones.
They felt safe in the cavern and stayed there for many days Once in a while, some of the older children plucked up the courage to try and find the way back to their home. But every passage seemed to lead back to the cavern.
Eventually, the days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into months and the months became years. The children had no choice but to settle down to life in their new home. And so they lived for many thousands of years. Generation after generation. Happy and safe, deep inside their underground land, and eventually, over the years, forgetting all about the outside world.
2. FIFTY THOUSAND YEARS LATER
Ten years ago, in our lifetime, a Luffin called Tollydin was exploring some passages, when he came across a half buried object wrapped in old Keddy leaves. He unwrapped it to reveal the weirdest thing he had ever seen. It was long and thin and it shone like sparkling water flowing over rocks. At both ends was a hole. And there were small holes all along its length, covered by odd, knobbly objects that bounced up and down when he touched them. But what made him gasp even more, were the Keddy leaves. They had been marked with Luffin signs and pictures. They told of a Luffin called Baffatim, who had got lost in the passages and discovered a whole new world.
A world with beautiful jewellery where the roof should be. Where there were no walls to stop you walking in any direction you wanted to. And where everything was soft to touch with colours that dazzled. There was a giant glowing rock high up above that was so bright it made the dark invisible and you could see for hundreds of footsteps. But strangest of all, there were odd looking Luffins, many times their size, who gathered together and made weird but wonderful sounds that made you want to wriggle and laugh. Baffatim had tried to return to the cavern with evidence of this new world. With this object you can make a sound more beautiful than the wind sighing through the caves. But whoever finds it should return it to the place where the giant Luffins make their noise. All the Luffins who go there, will never want to return to the great cavern.
So Tollydin returned to the cavern with with his strange find. For a long time, nobody knew what to make of it. Some of the older Luffins even thought it was a silly joke by Tollydin.
Such a place couldn't exist, they said. It was too beautiful to be real. But they couldn't explain the strange shiny object, and they didn't know what to do with it. Until, one day, a playful young Luffin picked it up and blew into one of the holes. It made a beautiful sound that brought the other Luffins running from all over the cavern. And when the knobbly lumps were pressed aswell, it made lots of different sounds that made the Luffins laugh with joy and want to wriggle and sing. The Luffins decided that the new world must be real. And if this is how it was, full of beauty and joy and laughter, then they must go and find it.
3. THE JOURNEY
And so began the greatest adventure the Luffins had ever know. After thousands of years in the great cavern, the Luffins collected as many Keddy plants as they could carry and set off to search for the way that would lead them to this special new world. For many weeks they searched along dark and dangerous passages. They found caves, small and large, that they never knew existed. Sometimes they ended up back in their own cavern. Sometimes they got completely lost for days on end. Once, they found a cave with walls covered in deep scratches that looked as though a huge monster had been trying to tear the walls down. They laughed nervously and teased each other that monsters didn't exist.
Often, some of the younger Luffins got frightened or tired and wanted to go back to their home in the cavern. But the elders were determined to find the way that Baffatim had gone many years before.
One day, after walking along a passage for many hours, they found that it finished in a dead end. A blank wall of rock barred their way. They groaned and sat down, tired and sad. Suddenly, one of the young Luffins shouted and pointed at something scratched into the rock. There, fading with age, was the sign of Baffatim, and an arrow pointing upwards. The elders yelled with excitement and looked up. Above their heads, the passage went up and up like a giant chimney. But high up in the darkness was a tiny dot of light. The Luffins cheered and wriggled with joy. At long last they had found the way to the new world.
The elder Luffins strapped the young ones on to their backs and they climbed the rockface towards the chink of light, high up above their heads. As they got higher and higher, they could hear a wonderful noise coming from above. They laughed and sang as they climbed. Everything Baffatim had said was true.
After climbing for almost an hour, they reached the roof of the passage where light wass shining through a crack in the rock. Ruggleswick, the oldest Luffin, squeezed through first. His heart was pounding with excitement. He was also a little bit scared. After living so long, safe and cosy in their cavern, this was a giant adventure, and nobody knew what to expect.
He found himself inside a strange round 'cave' where the happy noise was loud from above. The walls weren't made of rock and they let in long beams of light through lots of cracks all the way round. Through these cracks, Ruggleswick could see the very world that Baffatim had found so long ago. He gasped with wonder at what he saw. It was so bright, at first he had to cover his eyes with his hand. But he could see further than he had ever seen before in the darkness of the caves. And just as Baffatim had described, it was beautiful.
Everything was so colourful. And there was no roof. Instead the world just went up forever until it looked like the colour of a baby Luffin's eyes. The floor wasn't hard rock, but something that looked soft and swayed like hair in a breeze. And all the time, the happy sound came from above, making him want to wriggle and laugh.
He looked up at the roof above his head. It too was full of long cracks that allowed him to see through. What he saw made him gasp and run back to the crack in the rock from where he'd just come. Above his head were the giant Luffins that Baffatim had mentioned. Ruggleswick summoned up all of his courage to look up again. The giant Luffins hadn't seen him. And they all had strange objects similar to the one that Tollydin had found.
Immediately, Ruggleswick felt better. "Anyone who can make such beautiful sounds that make us want to laugh and wriggle, can't be very frightening." he thought. He poked his head back through the crack in the rock to where he'd left the other Luffins.
"Come and see our new home." he said. Laughing with joy.
And this is how, ten years ago, the Luffins came to live underneath the bandstand.wh