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From the few off-the-cuff remarks, smirks and grins by the diminutive builders I gather that our partner Jen has caused them to pile new heaps of diamonds and gold from the Capn’s coffers because of her explosive predilection with dynamite.
What is more worrying is that she has completely depleted our stock of the stuff and we are all now virtually defenceless if attacked by anything bigger than Opel’s spoon!
It is all very well to close off all the tunnels, but that does not stop an attack on the surface and my intelligence gathering showed me the vast extent of our foes that have already flowed through the portals.
My “inner ear” now tells me that Jen has set off in a huff for Viking lands with a largish quantity of XXX Ale in tow.
Now I may be a bit naïve but even I would not care to be a young(ish) maiden bedecked in Kayley’s latest finery and in charge of quantities of ale when traversing that bleak landscape.
For a start she will get frostbite and secondly the ale may freeze and explode, which is not the sort of bang that she will enjoy. Also I am sure she will be the unwelcome recipient of somewhat lusty attentions of large horned and bearded ruffians wielding axes!
But how to defend her?
I dare not leave the confines of the Tea Room now that I have only just returned or our dear Cap’n will be apoplectic yet once again.
From the air she will be almost invisible to our friendly dragons to pluck out of this frozen landscape.
I do not know the route she has taken, nor can I find Charlie in order to borrow a tracker dog.
Ah yes! Of course.
We have the rabbits.
I scuttle into the newly restored kitchen and scrounge a few large carrots before returning with my vegetarian prizes to the brown bundles of fur in the corner of the Tea Room.
I fix a note (with a pencil attached) to the rabbit who I think may be the offspring to Hoppy.
My crow can do inter species conversations, so I tell it to follow and find Jen.
Then the rabbit willgive her the note, and I await a reply before taking any further action
The rabbit understands me and hops off down the hill!
I settle down to a freshly brewed cup of hong cha and one of the kitchen’s famous meat pies, all steaming and hot from the oven. The smell is almost overpowering but I contain myself and only take a small bite. I do not want to burn my mouth through over eagerness!
I am just biting into the tender crisp crust to savour the contained meat juices when I get a message from my pet crow.
“Your fashionista friend is being followed and so is your rabbit
“What shall I do? Attack a very bedraggled male hot footing it below or pluck the rabbit from the path?”
The picture in my mind’s eye shows me that it is the foe who is called Tarquin who is following and obviously he still wants revenge and pecuniary reward by imprisoning my unruly partner.
I shudder to think what will happen if Jen decides that she is thirsty!
I reflect on how another contact with those two could end up and smile!
“Do nothing at the moment, but keep me informed”
BENT OVER ROLLING OH THE FLOOR FAMILY JEWELS IN MY HAND ON FIRE WITH THE DEEPEST GUT WRENCHING PAIN EVER INVENTED AND TEARS FLOWING DOWN MY CHEEKS BURNING MY FRESH SCAR.
JEN HIT A BULLS EYE WITH HER STEEL TIPPED STILETTO O AM SIRE THAT MY LILL SWIMMERS ARE ALL BELLY UP .
OH JEN YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS,,, OOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMGGGGGGGGGGG THAT IS IF AND WHEN I CAN MOVE,,, GET UP... STAND AND WALK
I HEAR VIA THE AMULET SHE IS HEADING TO THE VICKIMGS PLAY GROUND LOADED DOWN AND SOON TO BE LOADED WITH A HUGS STASH OF XXXX ALE,
WELL NOW WE SHALL SEE JUST HOW FAR OUR LILL BLOWER UPPER MAKES IT.
FROST ********* RIDER***********
JEN IS HEADED YOUR WAY MAKE SURE SHE DOES NOT MAKE IT TO THE VIKINGS AND IN PAY BACK FOR THIS PAIN DROP HER ON THE SHORE OF THE HARBOR RIGHT BESIDE TARQUIN HE WILL BE SOOOOOOOOO HAPPY TO SEE HER LOL OUCH LOL OWIE.
OPEL COMES RUNNING WITH AN ICE BUCKET AND HELPS ME TO MY CHAIR,,,, WHAT IN HELL DO YOU WANT ME TO DO OPEL SIT IN THE BUCKET????
NO YOU BLOODY IDJIT AS SHE WRAPS ICE IN A RAG AND SLAPS IT BETWEEN MY LEGS
OOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG I ALMOST PASS OUT.
NOW HUSH YA FACE AND HOLD IT THERE OR YOU WILL GIVE A NEW MEANING TO * BLUE B***S
SHE ALSO PUTS A BOTTLE OF HONEY RUM DOWN ON THE TABLE BUT I GRAB IT BEFORE IT GETS THERE AND SWIG ALMOST HALF DOWN.
BELLY WARM .. HEAD FUZZY AND THE UNGODLY PAIN TURNING INTO A DULL ACHE.
********** RIDER********* YES FROST?
PACKAGE DELIVERED.......... GREAT NEWS NOW GO PLAY . THAT BE DA HONEY RUM TALKIN
I TURN UP MY AMULET AND HEAR THE VOICES CLEAR AS A BELL
JEN #$%^&*())_+_)(*&^% AND HER RANTS AND VOWS TO SKIN ME ALIVE ARE MUSIC TO MY EARS .
AND WOW SHE DOES NOT NEED TNT SHE CAN BLOW YOU UP WITH THAT MOUTH.
* SNICKER SNICKER** AS TARQUIN GREETS JEN WITH HIS MOUTH FULL OF ROTTEN TEETH
I THOUGHT I LOST YOU BUT THE GODS HAVE SMILED ON ME AND HAND DELIVERED YOU TO ME.
YOU ARE UNDER ARREST AND FACE LIFE IN THE DUNGEON OH AND I CAN ADD THEFT TO YOU MANY CHARGES AS HE SLAPS THE CUFFS ON.
JEN *SIGHS * COME ON BUDDY CAN WE WORK THIS OUT OVER A COLD ONE?
SHUT UP WENCH OR I WILL GAG YOU AS WELL.
* SIGH* GUESS I AM OFF TO JAIL NO GETTING OUT OF THIS ONE.
JEN SCREAMS CAP YOU ARE DEAD MEAT AND PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP
In my mind’s eye I am aware of an urgent conversation going on between my two pets.
My beautiful owl is practically incohent with its “coos” and “clicks” while even the crow seems to be squawking in a very un-crow like fashion.
Eventually matters calm down and the crow opens up to me.
“We have lost her!”
“Who is ‘her’?” I ask
“Your bauble bedecked friend
“One minute she was careering on a somewhat irregular manner down to the Vikings and the next moment: POOF! She was gone.
“The rabbit tracking her has just disappeared down the nearest rabbit hole and the pursuer you call Tarquin has just come up over the rise huffing and puffing.
“He is now jumping up and down incoherent with rage, calling on all his gods to help him find her again!”
Something is afoot!
Well! She can’t just suddenly disappear into thin air. There must be some clue as to what happened.
Unfortunately with all of Tarquin’s current ranting and ravings any such evidence will soon be gone.
Direct action is called for.
I take my broom out of the new garment’s pocket.
“Expand into my luxurious charabanc – the kind I am accustomed to when being transported about the Realm.
“I now need some fire-crackers as a diversion. So off you go and find me some.”
Soon it returns with a cushion full of the little whizz-bangs.
I climb aboard.
“Take me to the rise just behind Tarquin and prepare for a hasty retreat”
I dismount and lay a trail of the fire-crackers back down the hill. They end in a huge snow drift. This I stamp about a bit and make as if someone has recently tunnelled into it.
I light the end fuse and scuttle back to my chariot.
I soar up into the air and wait.
It is not long before Tarquin, now puce with rage, appears over the horizon and hurls himself into the snowdrift tunnel that I have just made.
Grasping at nothing!!
Dejected he looks around and sees nothing so marches back to his post muttering and cursing. Jen is NOT his favourite person at this moment!
Now it is safe for me to more closely examine the exact spot where Jen disappeared. I kneel down on the frozen ground for traces of any action.
To my surprise I feel a lump grow in my pocket as an ice cold bundle of fur chitters and chatters as it gets warm inside it. It is the Hoppy lookalike rabbit still with note and pencil attached.
My crow is now overhead
It tells me: “Your rabbit is very upset in having failed to accomplish its mission
“A cloud of magic gas descended on your female friend and she suddenly disappeared.
“No warning, and no one else was there or even near her.
“This is dark animal magic that I do not understand, human so I will return to the Tea Room”
And flies off leaving me with one shivering bundle of fur to warm up!
And me in a pickle.
We need a conference back at home base so I magicked my shoes and in a twinkle of an eye am once more sitting at the table in the Tea Room.
Cap’n Bob is at present berating me for being stupid and showing lack of leadership!
“You have found nothing, have no thoughts about anything relevant and no plan for doing anything useful”.
That is a bit unfair!
”I defy YOU to tell me where she is then! You were the one to give her the option to blow everything up!
“Let us sit down calmly and try to work out a time-line and then we may find out where she is at the moment.
“Angel, you get us a flip-chart and marker pen and we will try to work out the sequence of events”
She scuttles off to her cubby hole which also serves as a stationary cupboard and is soon back with her tools of the trade.
”Now first of all Cap’n – what did YOU do?”
All I get as an answer is a load of incohent expletives on how our partner blew up everything up ON HIS INSTRUCTIONS and caused the gnomes to rub their hands with glee at the thought of all the extra paid work at HIS expense!
“OK! Now for Jen’s part in all this. What happened next?”
The Cap’n is still in full flow and continues
“When she emerged from the bowels of the earth having ‘tidied up’ part of them, she was not well pleased when denied a replacement set of clothes at Kayley’s because of YOUR trick!
“She did not object to the fact that Charlie had miscalculated the amount of explosive to be installed in one place!”
“It is not MY fault Kayley refused to serve her with replacement clothing. THAT was your doing PTG!
“She then went off in a huff because she thought we did not value her talents sufficiently
“It is also NOT MY Fault that some prison guards happened by pure chance to be around when she emerged from that hole and was caught and incarcerated after a very vociferous altercation with one of them”.
Now we are getting to the interesting bit!
I get hold of the marker pen and scribble on the chart: NEXT!
“After a while the guard arresting her emerged and was pounced on by Frosty and dumped in the eel’s moat, which the builders have recently widened into a small lake.
“Shortly afterwards a VERY disgruntled Jen replete with convicts clothing slunk back out of the guards tunnel and hot footed it over the hill.
“Before being captured she had had the foresight to hide her stache of XXXX Ale and this she now retrieved.
“She had a ‘few jars’ to strengthen her resolve, replete with burps and other flatulent noises, gathered up her belongings and fled towards Valhalla.
“This is where I took over and sent the Hoppy-lookalike complete with note and pencil after her"
And we all know what happened next, or do we?
"On her way there she simply vanished in the snow and ice with our guard Tarquin in hot pursuit. but did NOT disappear but continued to search for her.
"Frosty and the other dragons were elsewhere as they had 'done their job' on the guard"
Who else is there that can contribute, I muse?
My pet crow chimes in: “well there is the rabbit here in your pocket; ask her!”
It is now warm and well fed with more carrots from the kitchen.
Since Charlie has not interfered to protect it, I feel able to quiz a little.
“What occurred as you followed Jen?”
The crow transposes the rabbit’s thinking into my head and I am able to understand a little more about was had transpired.
In the air above Jen and following her was a greenish grey mist
The rabbit shudders at the recollection of it, and screams at me: ”EVIL MAGIC!”
Charlie is at my side in an instant.
“What are you doing you torturing oaf!”
“Oh! sit down woman and don’t get your knickers in a twist! All I am asking is a few simple questions.
“And now I have some of the answers!”
A magical greenish grey mist that must have come from the Northern Lands or Bone Kingdom.
“We need information and must consult the library.
“Angel look into the Northern Lands and I’ll look into the Bone Kingdom tomes.
“We need a spell that transfers such mist into clones, zombies or doppelgangers!”
It is just then that Cap’n Bob gets a message from Frosty:
“Rider. There is such a mist over area just blown up. It is oozing from deep in the ground and spreading out over the hills.”
“WeE need to neutralize it but how!”
Angel grins and comes up with a proposal:
“We give it sprinkles!”
Has she gone stark raving mad?
She looks at me with disdain and continues:
“No, you fool – not sprinkles - sweets but sprinkles - lights
“Each light will cancel the effect of the mist until we get a cloudless sky again”
Ah! I wish we had Grim or Roo Roo here since this area is their expertise.
What would they do?
I vaguely remember Chu Seok (the Korean New Year celebrations) from the tower of the Castle.
Firework rockets! BIG ones.
Time to sift through some catalogues and get one or two ordered.
Get them to Jen as she is in the right place (in the centre of the hiatus) to set them off.
We now have a Cunning Plan!
And this will restore our usual law and disorder in the Realm
It will also sort Jen out for further escapades since she is the one that will set off all of these!
The tunnel behind Jen will act as the launching pad.
“So what do you all think to my idea?
“Any other ideas?
“We must find Jen and give her the details of our conclusions and help her decide how she is going to escape from her present incarceration
“I am sure we have the means to track her, Charlie? Whether on the surface or underground, she can’t be far away surely
“ We will go ahead and purchase the firework bombs if that meets your approval Capn’ Bob?”
THE ONLY TRACKER I HAVE THAT FILLS THE BILL IS GHOST PUP. THE MIST WILL HAVE NO EFFECT ON HIM. HE CAN GO TO WHERE JEN IS EVEN IF SHE IS IN A TUNNEL. WALLS AND ROCK ARE NO PROBLEM FOR HIM.
THE DOWN SIDE IS IT I WILL HAVE TO BE THE GO BETWEEN HIM AND YOU OR WHOEVER IS LEADING THIS RECOVERY OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT. HE CAN NOT WEAR AN AMULET AND IS NOT CHIPPED. THEY WOULD FALL TO THE GROUND HE HAS NO SOLID FORM.
SO IT IS GHOST PUP OR NONE.