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The woman standing in front of the Ice Hall gave them a once over, but basically ignored them as they walked to the covered wagon just outside the Food Stall and sat on the driver’s bench.
It wasn’t long before a Player entered the Food Stall and came out with a Fire Horse. The woman descended upon the Player and replaced the horse with a shard as she declared, “I need this more than you do. He will be a fine steed upon which to ride during my upcoming joust.”
Another Player came several minutes later and came out holding a delicate butterfly. As the Player walked past the covered wagon to enter the Tower Top, Jayben quickly swapped the butterfly for a few coins without the Player noticing. Phil and Jayben hurried along the corridor between the wall to the Ice Hall and the Tower Top.
As Jayben gently opened his hands, the butterfly hesitated a little before starting to fly back to the Food Stall. Phil called after her: “Lindy? …….Lindy, wait. ……It’s me…… it’s Phil.” The Midnight Butterfly faltered mid-flight and would have fallen to the ground if Phil had not caught her in his hands. As she lay there in his hands, Phil lowered his head speaking very softly and gently. “It’s really me, Lindy…….I’ve finally found you.”
While he held her ever so close, his lips grazed the edges of her wings. His touch; his breath; his tear of love caused a wondrous thing to happen……..the beautiful Midnight Butterfly transformed into a beautiful White Butterfly.
Jayben stood next to his brother and said: “Tell her the words she needs to hear. Tell her the words to break the spell.”
Without even thinking, Phil said: “I love you, Lindy. I’ve loved you since the first day when I saw you on that park bench.”
The White Butterfly fluttered from his hands. She gradually grew in size and transformed into a woman who stood in front of him. Lovingly, she looked up into his eyes and said, “I remember those hands. ……And I would know the scent of you anywhere. Thank you, my love, for coming for me.”
As Phil drew Lindy into his arms, he looked over her shoulder at his brother saying, “Thank you, Jayben………thank you from both of our hearts…..”
Jayben quietly left to give the couple some privacy. While he was gone, he conjured a similar looking “Midnight Butterfly.” He put a spell on the creature so that it would behave in the same manner as the original, and watched it fly to the Food Stall when he released it.
He then returned to the corridor and approached the embracing couple. “Ahem……uh…..I hate to cut this short, Phil, but you really must be on your way. I cannot guarantee that the decoy will fool the evil sorcerer who took Lindy. As we discussed after dinner, the two of you must leave this realm and never come back.”
Phil released Lindy, but continued to hold her hand, as he said, “Aren’t you coming with us?”
Jayben replied, “No…..the time for my departure has not yet come. The woman we saw on the Jousting Field has come from the Southern Islands. She will soon joust with the Knight we saw standing outside the Frosty Fort. For now, I need to watch over my friends in the Tea Room (especially Roo and PTG) to be sure they don’t suffer from the effects of that battle.” And as an afterthought: “Although, I may have lost one friend tonight.”
With a knowing grin, Phil replied, “She doesn’t know, does she?” ………..to which Jayben sheepishly replied, “No. …..But I’m working on it.”
Before Phil could say anything else, Jayben pointed at a Player who was walking into the Ice Hall. We must follow her. There are few Players in this area, so we must utilize those who become available. ….Quickly, the trio followed the Player into the Ice Hall.
As the Player entered the Dragon Skeleton, Jayben explained:
“When the Player exits the Dragon Skeleton, she will immediately head for the Map of Islands. It’s nearly her bedtime and she will be in a hurry to finish the room, so she and her husband can retire for the evening. I was able to place a spell on the opening to the Map that will enable you and Lindy to follow the Player inside.
“Here is what you will see:
“You must head directly to the upright ship that is ready to sail. Once aboard, firmly state your destination and the ship will deliver you to that location. You cannot dawdle because the Player will only be searching for 14 items before leaving the room. The ship must set sail and get beyond the boundaries of this realm before the Player exits with her reward.”
And so it was that Jayben stood with his hands in his pockets as he watched Phil and Lindy, hand in hand, follow the Player into the Map of Islands. He watched as they quickly boarded the ship and watched the ship disappear from the map page. As he turned to leave he heard the following conversation as the Player shouted to her husband:
Player: Horace! You’re not going to believe this but that ship just disappeared from inside my new HOS!!!
Horace (shouting back from the living room): Yeah, yeah, yeah………Gladys, you know you get bleary eyed when you stay up so late playing that stupid game! Give it a rest and go to bed. If it’s still gone tomorrow, create a ticket and send it in.
Gladys (whining as she closes the game and follows Horace to the bedroom): But……but…..I KNOW what I saw……
Horace: Yeah……yeah……yeah. And I saw pigs fly today, too……………(heavy sigh) Goodnight, Gladys.
I am dragged up-hill and down-dale by my feisty partner Roo as we attempt to follow the two visitors.
I just know that no good will come of this and at the least I’ll get another blasting from the Cap’n when he finds out.
Then to my horror I see where Roo has led us to!
The Northern Islands and deep into its territory.
I have no confidence whatsoever in Roo’s admonition that we will be safe because one of the people we have followed is my fairy godmother.
My head is all scrambled about that little fact!
But we are tucked out of sight and just opposite the wagon while watching and waiting.
“Not a sound!” my partner hisses, thus making all the noise!
In the silence I get more comfortable and find something soft for a pillow.
A firm hand clamps over my mouth as I try to inhale a lung full of air.
The owner of the soft pillow has just dug me very hard where my breath should be!
Still smarting with tear filled eyes I look over to the wagon and watch as a most remarkable scene unfolds.
I just do not understand any of it but it brings a soft sigh to Roo’s demeanour as she peers around the corner at the scene.
So she must be aware as to what is going on. So perhaps we can now go home and forget about the whole sorry episode?
“Stay! I want to see what happens next”
So we stay while she sates her curiosity
“Quick! They are leaving”
I need no encouragement so I grasp her firmly by what I hope is her waist as she is smaller than I always anticipate and order my magical boots:
“Back to the Tea Room! NOW!”
We find ourselves seated comfortably at the Tea Room table as if nothing has happened. Except for the fact that Roo is on my lap and there are hoots and cackles from the others in the Room.
I have little recollection as to what happens immediately after this as my head is ringing with pain!
The following morning, Jayben rose earlier than usual and walked to the Tea Room. He could’ve gotten there much sooner, but there was a great deal on his mind and he wanted some additional time to think.
Upon arrival, he gently opened the Tea Room door and held the door over his body as he peeked around the corner of the open door. “Is it safe to come in? …….Is the welcome mat still there for me, Cap?”
The Captain, who was tucked into a large, delicious breakfast as he prepared to make his return to the Main Camp, muttered something unintelligible as his mouth was full of eggs and pancakes. Jayben entered the Tea Room and walked to his table.
“Captain, Sir……I owe you an apology. When I arrived yesterday, I already knew you were deeply entrenched in important matters at the Main Camp. I neither inquired regarding your whereabouts or whether you could join us for that reason. It was also an assumption on my part that you would have your Amulet open so you could “keep an ear” on things that transpired in your absence.
“I should also have assumed, though, that there would be times where keeping the Amulet turned on would be a distraction in your meetings with the Queen. So if you had just turned on your Amulet when you heard Mrs. Fletcher’s admonition for the confrontation between my brother and me to be taken outside rather than destroy her Tea Room…….well, indeed, I can understand the reason for your abrupt and stormy entry.
“The conversation with my brother was both intense and emotionally draining for both of us. I fear that I did not react well to your arrival……for that, I wish to apologize.”
More used to excuses than apologies, the Captain was a bit flummoxed. He muttered something about “everyone making mistakes” and “try to do better in the future” and then returned to his meal.
Jayben stepped back from the Captain’s table and just stood there a moment looking at Roo…….at first, she pretended to not notice…and then she made a few facial movements similar to a child who has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
She turned away and pretended to not notice as he walked to her table and said, “May I?” before sitting down.
Jayben: I suppose yelling at you would do no good.
Roo: (not looking up) Probably not.
Jayben: You knew you weren’t supposed to be there, and yet you went.
Roo: (looking up into his face) Well, yes, but…..
Jayben: No buts, Roo…….I said no interference for a good reason.
Roo: But, we didn’t interfere. We ….just watched.
Jayben: Concern for your safety could have compromised what we needed to accomplish. Fortunately, the events of the evening transpired as we hoped and planned. However, there was much that could’ve gone wrong. Will you promise me that you’ll not follow me again when I ask that you don’t?
Roo: (very long pause) …….No…I can neither lie to you nor make that promise.
Jayben: (shaking head in exasperation) What……am…..I …….going…..to ……do…….with….. you?????
(and without taking his eyes off Roo) ………….Mrs Fletcher? Can you please bring me a very STRONG cup of tea? You have my permission to lace it with something equally as strong.
Just what I need in my life......Another man to give me orders!!
“I am perfectly capable of looking after myself & my friends so you have no need to concern yourself over my safety.As MC players are painfully aware......It is always useful to have a back-up to prevent an unexpected disaster.Myself & PTG were ready to pounce at a moments notice if necessary to offer assistance but as you are aware we did not make our presence known.
I am about to continue when from behind Jayben’s head I see Angel trying to descend the staircase.....
Angel is hanging on to the banister rail for dear life as she tries to negotiate her way down the treads in stiletto heels that must be six inches high AND she is wearing MY little black cocktail dress!!!!.....
I take Jayben by the arm & lead him to the door.
I think perhaps we should find somewhere with less distractions to continue our conversation JB.......Is it ok to call you JB??
Oh My goodness..Oh My very Goodness has the Tea Room certainly been experiences some very "Strange Going's on lately... yes Siree Bob Tails!!!........."Hello Granny Fletcher...."YIKES!!!"......."PUP!"...."Don't you know better then to sneak up on an extremely Old Granny Fletcher that way Young'un???......."I was'nt trying to sneak up or scare you Granny, just trying to understand why we have "Stranger's" here in the Tea Room and the reason for their being here....Well Child, why don't I just head out there quiet like and ask Captain Randy to come back here into the Kitchen's Pantry and you could have Him explain everything to you....would that be alright? "I guess so...could you also explained to Him that when I heard the "Commotion here in the Tea Room, I just had to get back here from Jacobs Farm as quickly as I could!!!.......I couldn't let anything ever happen to you Granny Fletcher......."There, there Pup......" I am alright...Now let me go and get Captain Randy...
Jayben was slightly aware of movement behind him when Roo nearly knocked him off his feet as she suddenly grabbed his arm and propelled him out the door of the Tea Room.
When she started to head for Town, he hesitated and asked if it was okay if they headed to the Elvyn Forest instead. He also told her he didn’t mind if she called him JB.
Once their course was set, Jayben spoke: “I used a poor choice of words when I said ‘fear for your safety.’ I’m quite aware that you’re more than capable of taking care of yourself. I’ve witnessed it on several occasions.
“Phil and I weren’t even sure we could reach Lindy through her spell induced fog. We also knew that the slightest movement from the surroundings could result in her flying away or back to the sanctuary of the Food Stall. If there had been a commotion caused by someone taking exception to your presence, we might have lost our singular opportunity to save her.
“I do appreciate that you wanted to provide backup…..but in this case, your backup could have caused an unexpected disaster. That woman on the Jousting Field is no ordinary woman. The Knight will need special armor to have even a chance of defeating her during their joust. While you feel confident in your abilities, she is not someone you would have been able to overcome. We (and you) are fortunate that she was focused on getting that Fire Horse and finding a place to shelter him instead of challenging you.
“I’m mostly just asking that you to at least consider possible consequences before you head out on one of your crusades. ……But enough of that for now…… we’re nearly there, and I have something I want to share with you.”
They walked on the stones across the Pond of Life, but did not climb the stairs, or go through the archway to the Forest Palace. Instead, he led her to a hidden place beneath the stairs behind the waterfall. Inside was a beautiful garden with an ornate gazebo. Placed in the gazebo were a couch and two very comfortable reading chairs. Between the chairs was a bookcase that appeared to be empty.
When Roo looked questioningly at the bookcase, Jayben said: “I know how much you enjoy getting away and spending time reading a good book. But, I’m not sure exactly what you enjoy reading the most. So, all you need to do is think about the book you want to read, and reach your hand toward the shelf. The book will appear in your hand. If you haven’t time to finish the book in one sitting, just put it back on the shelf. When you return, the book will again be available for you….including your place marked so you can continue where you left off. “
With a skeptical look, Roo reached for the shelf and immediately found a book in her hand. She put it back; it disappeared. She again reached for the shelf and a different book appeared in her hand. She then plopped down in one of the chairs and began reading.
A few hours later, Jayben interrupted her by saying the sun was starting to go down, and he wanted to walk her back to the Tea Room while they still had light. As they were leaving, he explained that only she would be able to find the hidden garden. No other person but the two of them could enter the garden, but she could go there any time she wanted.
When they reached the Tea Room, he opened the door for her and closed it after she had entered. As soon as the door was closed, he disappeared from sight and was soon sitting comfortably in his own living room.