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And, I (of course) just have to use this costume!
As we wait for Randy's reply, there is a loud bang in the Room!
The front door slams shut and the protective bolts affixing it slide into place.
At the same time the windows are closed and the steel shuttering slides into place in front of them!
What on earth is happening?
These are our overt defenses!
I glance at Floraline but she seems to be transfixed and is immobile.
Roo Roo slithers over to the window and peers out of the slit in it
. She gasps: "There is a phalanx of Castle Guards approaching."
I move over to the window and look out.
Sure enough there is a posse, but what is somewhat strange is that it is not commanded by one of those inept wizards but a little dark suited gent with a bowler hat.
He is carrying a clipboard in one hand and holding a long piece of cloth in the other.
Every so often he ducks and weaves around as though being attacked himself and his posse is roaring defiance at something or someone that I cannot see!
Suddenly they are all drenched in a torrent of water!
Our animal defenses have gone on the offensive so we will soon find out from Charlie what on earth has happened and is still happening!
The drenched, dark suited man yelled in anger: “You cannot keep her. She belongs to the Attic of the Bone Kingdom. I have her purchase receipt right here attached to this clipboard."
“A player reported her missing from the Attic, and the trail we followed leads to your building. We also found THIS (as he held up the equally wet light lavender piece of fabric) along that trail. If you do not return her, there will be far more retributions than my presence with a few men.” He then stormed off.
Not only did Floraline become transfixed and immobile, her visage changed. She looked less human and more like a porcelain doll.
Mrs. Fletcher gently touched her shoulder and asked, “Are you okay?” With that touch, gentle as it was, cracks appeared all over the doll, and she literally shattered into small pieces. As she shattered, so did the necklace. Small pearls intermingled among the broken porcelain.
Hary and Lary came as if from nowhere with a small broom and dust pan. They quickly swept up the shattered porcelain and pearls. Then they ran out of the room toward the kitchen. Before anyone could follow them, they were gone.
Clearly, somehow, the spell created by the Mage had been broken.
OH NO, do you think the approaching miscreants got wind that our floral friend was here for a "visit"???????
OH DEAR, THAT IS TERRIBLE. THE POOR THING. AND SO UNNECESSARY. THEY ARE NOT HERE FOR HER. THE LITTLE MAN'S MIND IS A MESS. BUT THE LEADER OF THE TROOPS HIS MIND IS ON HIS JOB. THEY ARE HERE TO COUNT AND TAX MY ZOO. HA! FAT CHANCE. I SEND OUT THE MESSAGE TO THE CATS AND DOGS SCATTER AND HIDE. USE THE BACK DOOR. I WILL TELL YOU WHEN IT IS SAFE TO RETURN. I LOOK AROUND THE TEA ROOM. TO MY PETS. IN THE BAG I SAY. NOW THERE IS NOTHING TO BE SEEN IN THE TEA ROOM BUT SUGAR AND SPICE, WHO ARE BRISTLING AND GETTING LARGER. THEY ARE ON ALERT.
I TURN TO THE ROOM AND ANNOUNCE.
IT SEEMS THAT THEY COULD NOT GET RID OF US BY THEIR LAST METHOD TRYING TO EXCLUDE THE ENCLOSURE FROM THE TEA ROOM. SO NOW THEY THINK THEY CAN TAX IT OUT OF EXISTENCE. BABY AND BEAU ARE TRYING TO DROWN THEM.
THEY WILL FIND ONLY BABY AND BEAU, GOLDIE AND DOOGIE IN THE BARN. ALL THE REST HAVE SCATTERED AND HID.
NOW, DO WE LET THEM IN OR DO WE LET SUGAR AND SPICE GET RID OF THEM? QUICK BEFORE THEY GET HER I NEED AN ANSWER. SUGAR AND SPICE WANT TO GET AT THEM. THAT MAY NOT BE A PRETTY SIGHT.
I vote to let them in. Nothing to see here...........
WELL NOT MUCH, JUST 2 VERY LARGE AND NOT HAPPY CATS. LOL I DO BELIEVE THE TIES CAN BE ADJUSTED SO THE TOP WILL FIT. WE WILL DO THAT AFTER WE GET RID OF THE TRESPASSERS.
Roo, do you have anything I could put in a batch of tea to make them a little extra talkative? Maybe we can get a bit of information from them...???
Well, they could be here on another rant about your zoo, Charlie, but......I have a feeling they got wind of our plans for the travelling circus and that idjit thinks he's going to get a cut of the profits, a "tax" from us! What say the rest of you? Do we engage and let Sugar and Spice handle this? Or, does anyone have other ideas? Ooh!, Miss Katt......I do like the way you think!
When Charlie had confronted the group to see what they wanted, they told her about the taxes on the enclosure. She quickly returned to the Tea Room to avoid the “waterfall” from the animals, so she did not hear “bowler hat man” yell: “You cannot keep her. She belongs to the Attic of the Bone Kingdom. I have her purchase receipt right here attached to this clipboard.” They didn’t hear his other comment, nor did anyone in the Tea Room see them all leave.
Katt, Charlie, and Angel were discussing the merit of allowing the “posse” and “bowler hat man” entry to the Tea Room. PTG, Roo, and the Captain were still in shock from what they had just witnessed. All of them were significantly startled when there was a gentle tap on the Tea Room door. They heard a very familiar voice from the outside say: “May I please come in?”
When Katt unlatched the protective bolts and opened the door, Agnes slowly walked into the room. She headed to PTG’s table, took his hands in hers, and said, “Hello, dearie. You look like you’ve lost your last friend.”
She asked him to please open his Amulet so all could hear their conversation because she just didn’t feel like speaking to an audience tonight. Numbly he continued to just sit there and stare at her. After a few minutes he released one of his hands from hers and turned on his Amulet.
“I’m so sorry for your loss tonight. It was entirely unpreventable and even the Mage had no warning. Magic works differently in the Bone Kingdom, but he thought he had figured out how to maintain the illusion without discovery.
“It was unfortunate, indeed, that a player used 5 diamonds to immediately open the Attic after the Mage had removed the porcelain doll along with Hary and Lary. It only took the Mage a few minutes to complete the spell after he had secured her inside a cart, but the player was very fast to collect his items. The player had gone in and out without the Mage ever knowing.
“The player then found the Mayor of the Bone Kingdom to tell him the doll was missing. The Kingdom leaders handsomely paid the player to remain silent about what he had seen. The Kingdom leaders came up with the story about the taxes hoping to gain entry to the Tea Room. They knew she had come here because they followed her trail and had found a piece of her gown caught on a branch along the way. That is the “long piece of cloth” the man with the bowler hat was waving.
“If she had been found here, all of you would have been captured by the secondary company they had hidden nearby. When you saw her become transfixed and immobile, the Mage had removed her humanity charm. The "posse" and "hat man" were recalled when someone noticed the real porcelain doll was once again in the Attic.
“I cannot bring her back, but the Mage has sent a small token of his regret.”
She then pulled a velvet box from her handbag. The box was about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. It was less than an inch tall. As she opened the box, she turned the contents toward PTG and placed the box on the table in front of him. Inside was a single strand of white pearls.
“These pearls will provide the same visual images of the original necklace. You must choose who you think should wear them as you continue your mission. The mirror could not be duplicated, so you will need to rely on your developed pictures for your information. I believe Floraline may have explained to you how to operate this device. If she did not, you will need to do some experimentation to learn all of its features."
Agnes continued to watch PTG very carefully for a few minutes. She then said, “I’m so sorry. I wish there were more I could do for you.”
She slowly rose from the table, looked around at the somber faces of everyone in the room, went to the door and gently opened it. As she was passing out the door, she heard PTG weakly say: “Thank you.” She closed the door behind her and soon walked out of sight.