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I sit back in the charabanc seat and am transported NOT back to the Tea Room but to the neighbouring Hospital bathroom in the corridor.
At the same time, I get the message from Roo, Roo through my amulet
“We have a guest!
“We are NOT accepting a dirty smelly PTG but a clean shaven one befitting the 2ic of this band of warriors.
“So get to it smartish!
“Then you must put on a clean huggie jacket that has not see the underneath of a hospital bed with a trail of dust bunnies!”
Thus attired and now totally deflated, I do as ordered and then climb back onto my ride.
Within a blink of an eye I am ensconced in a chair in the Tea Room and looking across at me from the other side is Roo with squirrel like pouches in her cheeks as they bulge with the freshly prepared cookies and ????Agness!!!
They are obviously waiting for me to speak
“Any cha possible, doesn’t have to be hong?”
From a quick glance around me it is obvious that no one present has a clue as to what is about to happen.
So it is up to me to take over the proceedings
“My dear visitor, how may we be of assistance?”
And get a furious diatribe from Roo
“Are your brains scrambled or what? THIS IS AGNES!”
When PTG joined them, Agnes began: “The time has come to tell you who I am and how I came to this place. It’s also time to show you what the ‘real me’ looks like.”
Agnes stood and shape shifted into a man who was 6 foot 6 inches in height. He looked like he weighed about 230 pounds – all of it pure muscle. His handsome, intelligent face bore a small star-shaped scar on his forehead. He also very much reminded Roo of another man she had recently met. Roo was about to say something when the man sat down and continued speaking:
“My name is Jayben. My brother, Phil, and I found several artifacts while were exploring a cave about 15 years ago. So when I picked up the vase and started to wipe it off, neither of us paid much attention. However, the more dirt I wiped off, the stranger the vase felt in my hands. I sensed something unpleasant was going to happen, so I immediately called to my brother. When he came closer, I used all the force I could muster to deliver a swift right hook to his jaw.”
Seeing their look of confusion, Jayben explained that Phil had a tendency to strike first and ask questions later. Somehow he knew that was not how this threat should be handled. Continuing his story:
“When the vase was wiped completely clean, there stood before me a very ordinary looking man, except for his eyes. They were cold and black….as if there were no soul behind them. The man requested ‘his property’ but said he would not be entirely unreasonable. If I gave it to him, he would grant me 2 requests. I replied that if he first granted my two requests, I would hand it over. ….He hesitated a moment, but then he agreed. So, I continued.
“My first request was that he not harm either of us in any manner. Clearly, this had been his intent because it was with great difficulty that he finally consented. My second request was for him to give me magical powers. He asked me if I was sure, and I said yes. It was then that he transformed me into the person you know as Agnes, complete with a wand in her hand.
“He laughed at my reaction. He said it probably wasn’t what I expected, but it’s what I got. He then showed me a glass jar with a lovely white butterfly struggling to escape. My curious expression caused him to explain that since he couldn’t harm either of us, he was taking my brother’s wife as a souvenir of our meeting. Then he disappeared.”
(to be continued)
“My first thought was that we needed to somehow find where the butterfly was taken. Just as the thought formed in my head, Phil and I found ourselves in a Palace Square, in a very strange looking land, with an even stranger large cat standing on his hind legs next to a camel. The cat introduced himself as “Storyteller Cat” as Phil was regaining consciousness. He said, ‘I see you have a story to tell...I’m here to listen.’ As soon as I finished, Phil declared: ‘I must find her! I must find her!’ as he ran into the Sultan’s Gallery searching everywhere along the way.
“When I tried to follow, Storyteller Cat put a gentle hand on my arm and said, ‘In time, he’ll be okay. You need to meet someone who can help you watch over him.’ He led me to Atlantis where he introduced me to the Genie. The Genie and I soon became very close friends. He explained that this world had not yet been ‘discovered’ by the creators, nothing could be done until ‘the hidden place is revealed,’ and he had no idea how long it would take.
“The Genie helped me understand and learn about my new magical powers. When all of you arrived 10 years later, he said PTG needed a Fairy Godmother, and I needed a job/purpose. In his dwelling was a basin. I could go there anytime I wanted to locate Phil and to know he was unharmed.
“You already know how Agnes became more powerful. …….Because Phil and I resemble each other so much, I could never allow anyone to see my true form. Phil would be unsafe as he searched because someone would make the connection. I also feared that evil sorcerers would use him as bribery or blackmail to try to control me after my encounter with Adrian. The secrecy no longer matters. The fulfillment of time has arrived; the hidden place is revealed.”
(to be continued)
Phil is currently searching for me. When he finds me, the confrontation will not be pretty. If he finds me here, each of you must agree to say or do nothing. Neither attempt to contain or control him (for you will not be successful). And do not worry about my safety, for we have “tangled” before. (With this final remark, he absentmindedly touched the scar on his forehead.)
As Jayben stops to take a few sips of water, PTG is about to bombard Jayben with questions so I glare at him & give him a swift kick on his shin, he stifles a cry of pain so I guess my message hit home! I do not want any interruptions to stop the flow of these revelations.
I look at Jayben & it is clear he is having difficulty in telling his story.I cannot imagine the years of torment the brothers have suffered.
I reach over & place my small hand on Jayben’s hand, which is huge but I say nothing.
My mind is racing as I recall the tall dark mysterious stranger who entered the Tea Room a few months ago & disappeared a day or so later.
On reflection he did seem purposeful but also angry.
I am suddenly aware of several tugs on my cloak.I turn my head to find Angel an inch from my left ear.
“Ask if he’s got any more brothers.....or cousins......he is quite a hunk! I’m just going to change into a nice slinky dress”.
Angel is gone before I can speak.
As I listen to the amazing story unfolding by Jayben, I am mesmerized by his size and handsomeness. Now, there's my idea of a hunk! I sidle up to Roo-Roo and whisper to her to find out if he has any other brothers or cousins that look as good! Then I high-tail it to my room to put on something more enticing....I mean...appropriate.
While I'm changing, a thought niggles at my brain though......rerunning Jayben's story through my mind, I have a sneaky feeling that things are about to get all topsy-turvy, once again! So, in the absence of Cap, I do hope our 2ic gets past whatever is ailing him real fast......
Hummmm....Nope.........That's not it..........Hummmmm....That can't be it....Sigh....I give up here, so what is everyone talking about and are We still in the Special Room???.....Oh well...Think I'll just sit here on the sidelines and watch how AEGram's, Roo's and PTG's story goes along....Looks very interesting by the way......
Blushing slightly because he overheard Angel’s comment, Jayben replied clearly and directly (so Roo’s Amulet would pick up what he said), “You can tell your friend that there are only the two of us. We have no cousins that we know of.”
He hesitated a little longer than necessary with extracting his hand from under Roo’s hand as he started to rise from his seat. “Well……um……uh…….I should be getting back to my dwelling. I would much prefer that I encounter my brother there instead of here. I’m also sure that Miss Katt and Mrs. Fletcher have no desire to see their lovely Tea Room come to harm.”
Pausing a few seconds more, as if he would like to say something to Roo, Jayben turned and headed for the door. Before he took more than a couple of steps, the door was violently shoved open and a very large man burst inside. (No, this was not just a man…..he was more like a raging bull.)
He quickly scanned the room, saw his brother, and crossed the remainder of the distance in what appeared to be lightning speed, grabbed the front of Jayben’s shirt with his left hand, and delivered a powerful blow to his face with his right hand.
In the background, but unheeded, Mrs. Fletcher could be heard saying: TAKE IT OUTSIDE BOYS! I’LL NOT HAVE MY TEA ROOM TURNED INTO TOOTHPICKS!
Phil continued to hold Jayben upright with his left hand as he delivered another equally powerful blow to Jayben’s stomach. Jayben winced from the pain of the two blows, but neither said nor did anything in defense. With anger and venom in his voice, Phil got right in Jayben’s face and yelled: “YOU KNEW!!!
(to be continued)
With difficulty, because of the pain in his jaw, Jayben, replied: “Yes….I knew.”
Phil: Is THAT why you brought me to this strange land so far from our home?
Jayben (still speaking with difficulty): It seemed the prudent thing to do.
Phil: YOU KNEW! And still you didn’t tell me!
Jayben (recovered a bit, and with more strength): After speaking with the Genie, I was certain it would happen; but with the “creators” you just never know when it will happen. It’s taken them 5 years from when they revealed the Castle for them to open “the Islands” so we can even reach her.
Phil: I…….want……to……..SEE…….her! It’s been nearly 15 years! I NEED to see her…..N-O-W! ……Not tomorrow, not next month, not next year……NOW!
(Jayben has now fully recovered, but he remains motionless in Phil’s grasp as he replies): She is currently not able to be seen.
Phil: And just WHAT do you mean by that? The owl told me that he saw her!
Jayben: It is true. The Polar Owl was released at the same time. (By the way, my Snowy Owl is exceedingly glad that his cousin is finally free from the Tower Top.) Because you were his owner, I knew Polar Owl would search as long as it took until he found you. I just thought it would take him longer…. or you longer to find me.
Before Phil could answer, Jayben put his hands on Phil’s left hand and gently released his hold. He suggested that they sit down so he could give a full explanation.
(to be continued)
As he sat down, Phil’s anger slowly turned to frustration, then desperation. He said, “I don’t care what happened. ….I don’t care how it happened….I just need to see her. I need to be with her. Please. ….. Take me to where she is.” He then placed his hands on either side of his head, entwined his hair, and bent his head down between them in defeat.
Jayben: She’s different now. She’s been under the spell and imprisoned in the Food Stall for so long that she may not even know you. She remains beautiful, but her wings are mostly black now from sorrow and age. That’s why she’s called “Midnight Butterfly.” …….Players want her from the Food Stall so they can use her to open the Dreamcatcher in the Ice Hall. Once they get what they need from the Dreamcatcher, she flies back to the Food Stall for when the next Player comes. …..We cannot collect items from within the Food Stall ourselves, but we can be nearby for when a Player enters. Players have a better chance of getting her when it’s close to midnight, so that’s the best time for us to be there. It’s nearly suppertime, so I suggest we see what Mrs. Fletcher has on her menu tonight.
Phil: I’m not hungry……………
Jayben: Don’t you remember from our youth that you always eat when it’s available because you never know when will be the next meal?
Jayben then asked Mrs. Fletcher what she was serving that evening. He also asked if there was sufficient for two more.
(……and now, we wait for midnight)