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I QUICKLY OPEN MY AMULET TO DINKY, AND SMIDGE. THERE ARE THREE PORTALS. A NEW ONE AT THE END OF THE NORTHERN LANDS.
KATT STARTS TO SET FOOD BEFORE ME I TELL HER JUST COFFEE AND HONEY NOW. I WILL EAT WHEN I HAVE THE REST OF CAPS ORDERS FILLED.
DINKY, ANSWERS GOT IT. WHO PAYS? I DO.
I NOW OPEN MY AMULET TO JEN . JEN CAP SAY HE WANT EVERY TUNNEL BLOWN, BUT LEAVE GRIMS. AREA STANDING THEY HAVE BEEN REINFORCED AGAINST BLASTS. THE SURROUNDING MARKED TUNNELS ARE ALSO TO BE BLASTED.
I HOPE YOU CAN HEAR ME. PLEASE TAKE THE JOB. REPORT TO CAP WHEN YOU ARE DONE.
I ALSO CALL TO FINN AND HE FRIENDS.
PLEASE STAY OUT OF ANY TUNNELS UNTIL I LET YOU KNOW IT IS SAFE.
"What's that sound?"
I sit upright. It was a bad idea. Ever since the airbombing was completed, I've been hanging out with the Vikings.
Apparently, I'm the meanest drunk they've ever seen.
"Tunnels blown? ALL the tunnels blown?"
"Olaf, hold my beer."
I stand. Another bad idea.
"OK... anybody got any dynamo... dybamine... boom stuff? OLAF! Stop drinking my beer!"
I belch and set off towards the nearest tunnel.
An hour later I awake. I'm about 3 feet from where I started.
"Where's my beer?"
KATT I WILL TAKE THAT SOUP NOW. THEN IT IS OFF TO THE BARN AFTER I FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET ALL THE POTIONS AND SUCH IN CAP'S CABIN HE WANTED THEM AND HE SHALL HAVE THEM I JUST NEED A BUNCH OF THOSE BASKET I KEEP FINDING.
KATT FIX ME SOME COFFEE FOR THE BARN. I AM GOING TO WAIT UP FOR DINKY AND SMIDGE TO COME BACK.
JACOB SAYS HE WILL HELP ME PACK UP THE THINGS THEY BROUGHT OUT OF THE ROOMS UNDER THE TEA ROOM. THEN HE WILL RETURN HOME. HIS FRIENDS HAD EATEN AND LEFT ALREADY.
WITH JACOB'S HELP WE WERE ABLE TO GET EVERYTHING TO CAP'S CABIN.
I WAVED GOODBYE TO JACOB AND HEADED FOR THE BARN.
I WONDERED IF JEN WREN HEARD ME AND WOULD COME. HOPE SHE REMEMBERS I HAVE A LARGE STOCKPILE OF DYNAMITE AND A FEW KEGS OF BLACK POWDER I HAVE PICKED UP ON MY TRAVELS AROUND THE REALM.
JEN MUST COME I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE ROO WENT AND SHE HAS BEEN GONE A LONG TIME. HOPE SHE IS OK.
AS I ENTER THE BARN AN SET MY BAG DOWN, I SEE A SMALL MOVEMENT, AND OUT STEPS FINN.
NOW TELL ME WHY WE MUST STAY OUT OF THE TUNNELS YOU KNOW THAT IS HOW WE GET ABOUT TO GET SUPPLIES.
I FILL HIM IN. I AM AFRAID YOUR TUNNELS WILL BE GONE WHEN YOU TRY TO RE-ENTER THEM. THEN TELL HIM IF THEY NEED ANYTHING COME TO ME I WILL FILL ANY ORDER THEY NEED, TILL THE ALL CLEAR IS SOUNDED AND YOU HAVE RE-ESTABLISHED YOU ROUTES.
HE IS NOT HAPPY BUT AGREES AND LEAVES.
GUESS I HAD BETTER MAKE MY ROUNDS THIS IS GOING TO COST ME A BUNDLE. THEN I LAUGH, I SPEND VERY LITTLE ON MYSELF MOST OF MY EXPENSES ARE FOR SPECIAL THINGS FOR THE ZOO. THEY PROBABLY WILL NEVER NOTICE IF THE SPECIAL TREATS COME LESS OFTEN.
I AM JUST HOPING JEN WREN HEARD ME AND SHOWS UP. IF OPAL EVER FOUND OUT I WAS STUFFING ALL THE DYNAMITE IN A COUPLE OF SALTY'S OLD WHISKY BARRELS BELOW HER KITCHEN THE ENTRANCE IS JUST BEFORE YOU GET TO THE PANTRY PAST THE STOVE, I MAY NEVER GET DECENT COFFEE AGAIN. BUT IF JEN COMES SHE WILL KNOW IT IS THERE. THAT GIRL CAN SMELL DYNAMITE. I SWEAR SHE CAN. IF NOT THEN THE CAP CAN HAVE A BUNKER BUILT TO PUT IT IN. FOR NOW IT IS SAFE.
COOL AND DRY AND SAFE.
I wander through the tunnels, until a familiar smell gets my attention.
I follow it, like a cartoon hobo floating towards a pie cooling on a windowsill.
Lo and behold, my nose has led me to a huge cache of dynamite, TNT and even a barrel of gun powder.
I light a match to get a better look.
ANGEL SITS WITH ME AND LISTENS TO CHARLIE'S REPORT OF WHAT HAS BEEN DONE ,,, WHAT IS BEING DONE SAND WHAT WILL IS GOING TO BE DONE.\
FANTASTIC EXULTANT PERFECT I SAY BETWEEN MOTH FULLS ... I DID NOT REALIZE I WAS THAT HUNGRY BUT MISS KATT AND OPEL KNOW ME WELL.
ANGEL LOOKS AT OPEL AS SHE SETS A PLATE IN FRONT OF HER ,, ANGEL SAYS THANK YOU OPEL BUT I AM NOT HUNGRY YOU HUSH CHILD AND EAT WHATS I PUT OF FRONT OF YOU ,,,, YOU NOTHING BUT SKIN AND BONE NOW YOU DIG IN I MADE YOUR FAVORITE ,,,, RIB EYE STEAK DONE AS YOU LIKE CREAMY MASHED POTATOES AND PEAS NOW EAT.
I START TO READ AS ANGEL EATS LOL SHE IS EATING LIKE IT IS HER FIRST MEAL IN YEARS BLESS HER LILL COTTON WHITE SOCKS
CHARLIE HERE TAKE THIS WITH MY DEEPEST THANKS,
HER CHIN ALMOST DROPS TO THE FLOOR AS SHE LOOKS IN THE BAG AND SEES THE GEMS.
I KNOW YOU PAID THE GNOMES AND I KNOW YOU SPEND NOTHING ON YOURSELF BUT USE THE GEMS TO BUY THE ZOO THERE TREATS NOW YOU CAN BE SURE THEY WILL HAVE THEM AND IF YOU RUN SHORT DO NOT WORRY MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM.
ANGELS PUSHES HER PLATE AWAY WIPES HER MOUTH ON HER NAPKIN AND LEANS BACK WITH A HUGE SMILE.
GOOD RIGHT I ASK HER ? SHE NODS OH YA
I HAVE MADE A BUNCH OF NOTATION SO YOU READY?
SHE GRABS HER MAGIC PEN AND WE SPEND HOURS ME TALKING HER WRITING.
WE STOP ONLY TO QUENCH OUR THIRST AND STRETCH OUR LEGS.
WE CAN HERE THE WORKS HARD AT IT AND I SMILE KNOWING EVERY THING I ASKED FOR IS BEING DONE.
ALL TUNNELS WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF BY OUR RESIDENT BLOWER UPPER AND I KNOW HOW JEN LOVES MAKING THINGS GO BOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
I LEAN OVER TO ANGEL AND SAY KEEP THIS TO YOU FOR NOW OK?
I WILL NEED A DISTRACTION AS I LEAVE FOR A BIT ,,, IF ANYONE ASKS I AM IN MY CABIN GOING OVER WHAT WAS BROUGHT UP FROM THOSE ROOMS AND AM NOT TO BE DISTURBED,
OKAY SHE SAYS WITH RAISED EYEBROWS.
I SLIP OUT THE BACK DOOR AND HEAD TO SPEAK TO CHARLIE,
I FIND HER AS ALWAYS TAKING CARE OF THE ZOO.
CHARLIE TAKE A BREAK A MINUTE...... I POUR HER A FRESH CUP OF COFFEE AND A HONEY RUM FOR ME,
WE GO OVER THE ORDERS I GAVE HER TO GIVE TO THE WORKERS,,, NOW YOU MADE IT CLEAR ABOUT THE ROOMS DOWNSTAIRS AND GRIMS?
AND THAT THEY WILL JOOSE THERE TUNNELS?
I NOW S MIDGE IS NOT HAPPY BUT I HAVE PLANS FOR A BETTER WAY FOR THEM TO MOVE AROUND AND GET THERE NEEDS IT WILL BE BIGGER BETTER AND MUCH SAFER AND I AM SURE THEY WILL BE HAPPY.
NOW I AM GOING TO LOOK OVER WHAT YOU PIT IN MY CABIN SO MAKE SURE I AM NOT DISTURBED EVEN TO EAT I WILL EAT WHEN I AM DONE.
I KNOW OPEL WILL BE P**** AT ME BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT.
I MAKE SURE NO ONE IS AROUND AND I HEAD TO THE OPEM FIELD.
FROST AND SNOW ARE RESTING WAITING FOR ME KNOWING I WAS COMING.
**** RIDER***** WARRIOR******
COME JOIN ME AS WE SIT FACING EACH OTHER AS WE CHANT
OUR CHANT IS CARRIED ON BUTTERFLY WINGS OVER THE STREAMS AND BROOKS ,,, OVER TREE TOPS OVER THE CASTLE TOWERS PAST THE DARK TOWER ON TO THE ELVIN FOREST,,,,
WE HEAR THE WIND SOFT AND GENTILE AS IT BRUSHES THE DRAGONS HEAD AND MY CHEEKS SHE IS HERE.
WE OPEN OUR EYES AND LOOK UP AND WE SEE OUR BELOVED LADY.
THE DRAGONS SPREAD THE HUGE WINGS AND BOW THERE HEAD AS I RAISE MY SWORD CROSS MY HEART AND BOW MY HEAD.
IN HER SWEET SING SONG VOICE SHE GREETS FROST AND SNOW.. HELLO MY BEAUTIES GOOD TO SEE YOU,,, THEY BOTH ANSWER IN THERE DRAGON RUMBLE,,, AW MY SWEET WARRIOR CAPTAIN RANDY I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU.
I FIND IY HARD TO SPEAK TO SUCH A VISION OF PURENESS AND BEAUTY.
MY LADY MY HEART IS FILLED I HAVE MISSED OUR TALKS SO.
I ALSO BUT YOU ARE IN MY THOUGHTS AND HEART AND WE KNOW EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON ,,, THE BATTLE YOU ARE FACING IS A GREAT ONE AND AS YOU KNOW WE CAN ONLY GUIDE NOT INTER FER SO YOUR TIME TO SPEAK TO ME IS AS IT SHOULD BE,
YOU KNOW KNOW YOU ARE FIGHTING THE LORD OF DARKNESS AND THAT YOU AND YOURS HAVE STOPPED HIS ARMY OF EVIL ONCE AND HE IS NOT GOING TO STOP AND AS YOU KNOW HE IS TRYING TO BUILD ANOTHER ARMY ,,,HE IS ALSO TRYING TO USE HIS MIND POWERS ON YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS AND WHO YOU THOUGHT WERE YOUR ENEMIES BUT ARE REALLY ON YOUR SIDE,
HE HAS MANAGED AS YOU KNOW TO TURN A FEW INTO SHADOWS BUT THEY ARE NOT LOST AND CAN BE SAVED,
HE IS ALSO THE REASON YOUR PTG IS IN HIS PRESENT CONDITION BUT HE IS SAFE HIS MIND IS TO STRONG FOR HIM TO CONTROL SO HE IS IN WHAT YOU WOULD CALL LIMBO... HE IS ALSO THE REASON YOU CAN NOT FIND YOUR ROO OR YOUR GRIM BUT ALSO ARE SAFE.
HE HAS MANAGED TO OPEN A THIRD PORTAL BUT THAT WAS A MISTAKE FOR IT LEADS TO MORE HELP FOR YOU.
IN ORDER TO COMPLETELY BOCK HIM FROM ENTERING THE PORTALS BUT WILL BE SAFE FOR YOUR USE THE COUNSEL HAS MADE A POTION FOR YOU TO USE ON THE PORTAL THAT WILL SEAL THEM FROM HIM AND ALLOW YOUR USE OF THEM IF YOU NEED THEM.
NOW RETURN AND SEND ME GRIFF AND HE WILL RETURN WITH THE POTION AND THE ELEVEN CHANT YOU MUST USE.
GO MY BRAVE WARRIOR AND MY TWO BEAUTIES WE SHALL TALK SOON.
I SMELL A THOUSAND GARDENS AND HEAR THE TINKLE OF WINGS AS SHE LEAVES.
I HUG FROST AND SNOW AND RETURN TO THE TEA ROOM FEELING LIKE A NEW MAN READY FOR BATTLE
I PASS THE ZOO IN CLOSER AND TELL CHARLIE I AM BACK AND MAY I SPEAK TO GRIFF.
HE IS HUNTING BUT SHOULD NOT BE LONG SIT I NEED A SMALL BREAK AS SHE LAYS DOWN HER BRUSH DOOGIE BAYS HE DOES LOVE HER BRUSHING HIM... WHAT A HANDSOME FELLOW HE IS NOW MAYBE WE CAN FIND HIM A MATE I WINK AT HIM..
HURMPH SAYS CHARLIE GOOD LUCK WITH THAT AND DON;T YOU THINK I HAVE ENOUGH NOW?
I CAN TELL BY THE TWINKLE IN HER EYES SHE WOULD LOVE THAT A MATE FOR DOOGIE AND LILL ONES T FOLLOW
GRIFF RETURNS AND I TELL HIM HE IS NEEDED,,, HE IS GONE AS SOON AS I FINISH.
BACK AT THE TEA ROOM THERE IS ANGEL JUST AS I LEFT HER .
I AM BACK AS SHE JUMPS FOR I STARTLED HER ,,,
I FILL HER IN AS MUCH AS I CAN AND SAY THE BATTLE BEGINGS
I emerge from the crater, still holding the burnt match.
I spit out a mouthful of soil as I stand.
I notice a palace guard running toward me. He looks familiar.
"Ma'am, or sir, are you OK?"
I must be unrecognisable in my charred state.
"Ma'am... and OK, I think".
"Sorry, I did not want to inflict any gender bias upon you. It is not up to me to determine how you self-identify."
"Tarquin?" I am suddenly very annoyed.
"Have we met, ma'am, or sir, or any gender-fluid title you would prefer".
I slap him.
"YOU!!" He is suddenly outraged.
To be fair, I cannot blame him. I tied him up, beat him, assaulted him on a racquet-ball court and tricked him into running a marathon for a fake charity involving lesbian reptiles.
A tear runs down my sooty cheek as I fondly remember my rabbity friend.
"CULTURAL APPROPRIATION CRIME!!!" Tarquin is screaming. "BLACK FACE! BLACK FACE!!!" He toots on a police whistle in between accusing screams. "YOU ARE UNDER ARREST!!"
"AW COME ON!!" I try to shake off the dust and grime. "The only reason I'm covered in this crap is because I just blew up all the underground tunnels!"
His eyes bulge and he almost swallows his whistle.
"Yeah, I'm going to prison, aren't I?"
I sigh. I wonder if they'll stick me in my old cell.
Or did I blow that up, too?
I am cold. Icy cold. I have never been so cold in my life
And I can see nothing. Just blackness and more blackness of such an intensity that I can only imagine exists in the outer realms between our worlds.
And I think to myself: perhaps that is where I am?
I try to move but am immobile; pinioned inside a warped metal structure that defies description.
My senses tell me that I am not even horizontal as I can feel the blood coursing through my veins as it rushes to my head.
I must do something or else I am going to die!
But what to do?
Counting to ten does nothing to improve my ever increasing panic, but by accident I take a deep breath and begin to cough and splutter.
In doing so I surface into consciousness and once again find my senses.
Touch? I am still pinioned to the warped structure of a hospital cot.
Taste? My mouth tastes like an unwashed sewer, exacerbated by large burps coming from empty innards!
Hearing? A cacophony of noises is coming from below me. Human noises! People are shouting and clearing away what is obviously rubble. And the noises are getting closer, until someone calls out in a language I can understand: “There the poor fellow is. Get him out before the whole structure collapses!”
Smell? I can now sense the distinctive smell of cordite along with the elements of charred wood and brick dust.
Sight? I finally try to open my eyes and see the heavens’ constellations twinkling before me. The night sky.
But this sight is framed by a jagged fretwork that comprises a large hole in both a fragmented ceiling above me, a missing wall alongside me and, what is most disconcerting: a floor exposed below me as well.
I am in trouble!
I now begin to remember!
I was just returning to the Special Room with important news when I was the subject of an unprovoked attack by our large beefy cook wielding a skillet that landed on my head.
Then the enforced peacefulness of oblivion.
Does nothing change in my life?
My broom is utterly useless in an emergency and will only defend itself.
But who could have had such a devastating current effect whilst I was “elsewhere”
Roo? But she would not have been so profligate with our dwindling resources.
That leaves Jen, who must have found me and given me a special welcome with lashings of dynamite.
Well two can play at that game!
I contact Credit Card Central and say that I am Cap’n Randy and that I have mislaid my Credit Card.
Then I contact Kayley to say that Jen is out of cash so no more fripperies.
Whatever she is currently wearing will have to do. There are some plastic bin liners at the bottom of my precarious cot.
Speech? I can now speak through parched lips, so I shout: “You female harridans. Just look at what you have done to me between the two of you!