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I am awoken by a gentle nudge to my knee by my beautiful unicorn. Yes, she is mine now as she hasn't left my side since I arrived here. I still have no recollection of who I am, how I got here or where I am. All I know is I have a huge goose egg on my head!
I shake my head and see a glorious midnight blue raven perched on my unicorn's back! She is friendly and gives me a note with her beak. To the owner of the blimp: "URGENT - CHANGE OF PLAN" I quickly read the rest of the note - it is signed CHARLIE.
I believe I understand the new plan, and it is a cunning one! Let's see, transfer, pets, elves and supplies from the blimp to the flying boat (check), disperse fog powder (check), untie blimp (check), take off in the flying boat (check, check and check)!
When next my eyes open, I find myself in a Forrest with Grim standing over me. She appears to be speaking but for some reason I can hear no words. She steps back as I get up. Once I am standing she turns and starts walking so I follow. I have to be quick to keep up with her.
Suddenly she disappears down a hole. Knowing it is probably a mistake, I follow her in anyway. We traverse a long tunnel and suddenly she vanishes and I find myself blocked. For me, the tunnel ends with no where to go, not even up or down. Thinking that I missed something, I turn around and find that blocked as well. “Great, what do I do now?” I ask myself. “Only 1 thing to do” I conclude and call up my trusted Crowbar.
Only instead of it being the 3 foot long thing it should be, it is now 6 inches long. I try to use it but it is useless, it would take me years to get out so I sit down in defeat.
Just after I close my eyes to think I find myself transported elsewhere, or so it seems. It looks like I am on another tropical island but I can still feel the dirt floor and wall. Looking around I notice something that doesn’t look right, a rock on a box. I approach it and swear that I can hear a call for help. I lift the rock then the box and a faerie appears.
The vision and the dream both end and I wake. I am slouched in my chair and my book is on the floor. The animals stop their play and look at me expectantly. That is when I realize that my adventure has all been a series of dreams within dreams.
I look over at Grim and she is still sleeping so,I get up and go over to her. “Grim, we really need you to up.” I say speaking quietly to her. “We are leaving here soon and it would be easier if you were awake.” There is a groan and she turns over but doesn’t wake. I get the feeling that she is near waking but that I should leave her alone.
Knowing that we need to get out and get some air, I collect Cash, Wickerbat and Buddy. As we head for the door, Doc Poppet comes in. I tell him about Grim’s reaction. He is happy to hear it but it doesn’t mean much unless she fully wakes. I leave him to do what he needs to and take the animals outside. They run to the pet enclosure and head first to do their business and then to get water and food. I leave them to play while I take a walk around the outside of it for the exercise.
When they are ready, we head back into the tea room where I get a snack and some water. When we head to Grim’s room to check on her, the doc is gone and a Grim is still sleeping. However, something feels different, as though the atmosphere in the room has changed. Then it hits me, it seems peaceful and Grim seems to be sleeping more peacefully. There is hope yet that she will soon wake.
I put my book away just as PTG comes in check on Grim. “How is she doing.” He asks.
”Still sleeping but more peacefully,” I answer. “Is it time to go yet.”
”Amost.” He sits on the vacated chair and says no more. I take the animals into the tea room to wait with the others.
It is a heavy load, but the pigeons coo for reinforcements and we have lift off! I tether my unicorn and she flies up in one swift swoop to assist. (Note to self: find a suitable name for the unicorn)
I take Charlie's, now, wrinkled note from my pocket to see if I can get any clues on what our destination should be. I turn the note over and lo and behold it reads "THE LION'S DEN WILL LEAD YOU TO DELPHI". YIKES - where is that? How will I land this boat?
Suddenly I hear rustling from a HUGE fisherman's basket. Out steps a gnome about 1 foot shorter than me!
GULP! Whoooo arrrre youuu? I stammer...
I am the Seeker and I am here to save you ...
Alright, that was just our test flight and landing, the Seeker states. It is a fine boat with beautiful flying creatures and will serve us safely. Now we wait for the others. Please take notes girl. Swiftly and accurately!
Yes sir, I say - efficiently as I can!
Second in command PTG, Charlie (with carpetbag), Ame, Katt, Roo, Angel, Grim, Poppet. So you have all that girl?
Yes sir, I believe I do! Loud and clear!
Good, because there's more ...
Ghost of Kitten, Sam, Nix and Firebird - We'll put them in the carpetbag to save space. Poe can follow.
Okey, dokey - anything else sir?
Yes, as a matter of fact. What have you done with my fog powder.
Sorry, sir, sorry - I managed to drop one, but here are the rest all safe and sound.
Oh boy, mutters the Seeker, this is going to be a long day ...
Seeker finishes his meal and burps gently to convey his satisfaction. He calls Katt over: “Thank you kindly for that scrumptious meal (as he pats his stomach)…. While eating, I noticed that Playingthegame went to Grim’s room to check on her. If he comes out before I return, please tell him that I must be gone for a short time, but not to worry.” She nodded and returned to the kitchen with the used dishes.
Soon, from the kitchen, Katt hears some muffled sounds coming from the direction of the Lion’s Den, but when she looks out the window, she sees nothing amiss. Still, she plans to report it to Seeker or PTG, just in case.
Just as she was starting to get worried (for Seeker had been gone for several hours), she saw him stop to talk with Annikabelle for a few minutes before coming into the Tea Room. Shortly afterwards, all those who were in various places also entered the Tea Room, sat down and started murmuring amongst themselves. At Seeker’s nod, Katt went to Grim’s room to retrieve PTG.
When all were seated, Seeker began:
Ahem….ahem…. quiet please. Today, this hour, is the time for departure (more murmurings – I thought we had one more day; I’m not ready yet) ….. ahem…..ahem….please be quiet so all can hear.
Thank you....... Now, as I was saying … the time for departure is now. If we all work together, we can finish up with the packing/loading in about an hour or so……. No ….. no….. you cannot take EVERYTHING with you so each of you just take a few precious items. Things can easily be replaced….. people cannot (with this Seeker looked in PTG’s direction and saw a sudden sinking of his shoulders)…… Right….. now, as I was saying….
Charlie ….. your job is to use your animals to gather up all those we will be taking ….. have them follow in an orderly manner to the Lion’s Den and board the Flying Boat…… Please do not use any whistles to call the animals because Adrian will surely hear and be alerted to our plans. I believe you can communicate with some of them mentally, so put your Amulet on low static (so it won’t bother their ears) and get your instructions out as quickly as possible. The blimp is still floating relatively close to the Lion’s Den, so it shouldn’t take too long to get everyone transferred….. Charlie nodded her head that she understood. (With those instructions, Seeker handed her several vials of fog powder.)
Katt …..your job is to pack up the rest of the food for the journey. There is already a storehouse of food on board the boat for the animals, so they will be properly fed. But, the people will need food enough for at least 2 meals. …… Katt nodded she understood.
Roo ……I’m assuming you are “armed” and ready for any “situations” that may come up? Good! I don’t think you will be needing any, but a little dynamite and additional fire power never hurts to have close by. PTG will be busy holding his ring in position so the invisibility shield will keep everyone hidden. Do you think you can handle the steering of the boat? Be sure to take Angel with you as a helper. ….Roo nodded that she was well prepared for any assault and that she would have no problem with steering the boat.
Oh, and Roo ….. along with the decoy today…. I installed a small modification to the real Flying Boat. Just to the left of the ship’s wheel, you will see a 1 inch black button with a large H on it. That is for “hyperdrive.” When you get aloft and sufficiently clear of all buildings, be sure everyone is buckled in and secure, then press the button. The Flying Boat will then go into hyperdrive, which will reduce your flight time to Delphi from several days to only a few hours…….again, Roo nodded she understood.
Ame …..Would you please help PTG to get Grim loaded into the boat? This will be one of the most difficult tasks because you cannot use the fog powder to hide her – in her condition, she should not be breathing anything other than just fresh air. PTG can use his ring to make the dome so you can travel unseen…. But, you must move quickly because we don’t want the use up too much of the ring’s power.
Annaleise ….. I cannot see you, but I know you are here. This afternoon, I quickly built a “decoy” boat … we WANT Adrian to actually see the boat so he will not look for the shielded one. He will focus on that one, which should give the few extra minutes the others will need to get aloft and ready for the journey. (He did not see her nod, but he could swear he heard a small giggle coming from the back of the room.) And, Annaleise…..once the boat is in the air, let’s see just how big an explosion you can make of it….(NOW, he could swear he heard laughter and tapping of feet as if someone were jumping up and down with glee.)
With those assignments delivered, Seeker approached PTG at his table. Softly, he spoke:
Will you be okay? (PTG just looked up with a vacant look on his face, so Seeker sat at the table next to him before continuing.) It isn’t your fault, you know. …Sometimes when we lose someone in a tragic manner, we tend to blame ourselves. We ask what if I had done such and such… or what if I had said…… There was nothing you said or did that caused her to go away. There was nothing you didn’t say or do that caused it. Perhaps she should have told you of her plans, but she just thought it would distress you more or that you would try to alter the outcome. And, with her staying behind, would you really have slept any better knowing she was locked in this world with Adrian? At least now you know she cannot be encouraged or tricked into telling him where everyone went.
She was always in your corner….always coming to your aid when you were in need. Those are treasured memories that no one can take from you. And, do you think I just “happened along?” …. No….I was sent by her when she thought you needed a “firmer hand” than she could give. Even though I will not be going with you to Delphi, I am not called “Seeker” for nothing. ….. Seek and you shall find…..For I am the Seeker of tunnels AND people. While not there, I shall not be far away.
With that Seeker rose from the table, gently slapped PTG on the back and said: Ok, my man….it is time to put on your Big Boy Britches and get this show on the road.
He then nodded to everyone, and they left the Tea Room to perform their assigned tasks. Ame gently helped PTG up and together they walked toward Grim’s room.
I SET MY AMULET ON LOW, CALLED TO POE. POE DO YOU SEE ANY PETS WHO ARE NOT ALREADY ON THE FLYING BOAT? IF SO CAN YOU COMMUNICATE TO THEM TO GO TO THE LIONS DEN. I WILL BE THERE SHORTLY. I WILL MAKE SURE THEY ARE LOADED AND COMFORTABLE. IT WILL LOOK LIKE I AM TAKING PRECIOUS FOR A WALK. I REACHED INTO MY CARPET BAG AND PICKED UP PRECIOUS. HE OPENED A SLEEPY EYE AND LOOKED AT ME. IT IS TIME TO GET SOME FRESH AIR DEAR. SAM YOU COME TOO. I WILL RETURN AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. THEN SAM AND I LEFT. I LOOKED AT ANNALEISE, SHE HAS A SMILE AS BIG AS THE STATE OF TEXAS. SHE COULD HARDLY CONTAIN HERSELF. YOU MUST WAIT A BIT I TOLD HER. AFTER YOU BLOW THE FAKE AIRSHIP HAVE SOME FUN HERE IN THE CASTLE. I WILL MISS THIS YOU. BUT I WILL SEE THE OTHER YOU SOON. AND LEFT THE TEA ROOM.
WHEN I REACHED THE LION'S DEN THEY WERE ON WATCH. SEVERAL PETS HAD ALREADY MADE IT THERE. I LOADED THEM AND WAITED FOR MORE TO ARRIVE. IT WAS A GOOD THING MOST OF THE PETS HAD MADE IT HERE ALREADY AND HAD GOTTEN ON BOARD. I SAW BABY WITH EGOR ON HER HEAD. BEAU, NOSE, INK SNOOP, REST OF MY PETS. WAIT A MINUTE I DID A HEAD COUNT. WHERE WAS TROUBLE. I SPOKE QUIETLY INTO MY AMULET. TROUBLE WHERE ARE YOU. IT IS A GOOD THING DOC POPPET HAD STOPPED IN THE TEA ROOM. HE HAD CHIPPED TROUBLE AND PRECIOUS.
TROUBLE CAME LOPING UP FUR DIRTY, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN. HE GAVE ME PICTURES OF THE MOAT. THE ENCLOSURE AND THE TAVERN. HE HAD BEEN TO SEE THE CHILDREN BUT THEY WERE BUSY SELLING CARROTS AND COULD NOT PLAY, HE HAD GOTTEN INTO THE CRYPT AND THE BROKEN CARRIAGE. ALMOST FALLEN IN THE BROKEN WELL. TRIED TO GO INTO TRINA'S BUT MAMA WOLF WAS IN A FOUL MOOD AND CHASED HIM OUT. LOOKED INTO THE TEA ROOM BUT I WAS GONE. THEN CAME WHEN I CALLED. HE HAS ALWAYS LIVED UP TO HIS NAME.
I PUT HIM ON BOARD. TOLD HIM TO STAY PUT I WOULD COME BACK SOON. I HAD TO SEE TO OTHERS. I WENT BACK TO THE DECK. THERE WERE A GROUP OF PETS WAITING. I LOADED THEM THEN ASKED POE. HE HAD SEEN ANY MORE. NO HE REPLIED. YOU HAVE DONE YOU JOB VERY WELL NO GO BELOW AND GET SOMETHING TO EAT AND DRINK. DO NOT LET ANY OF THE PET LEAVE THE BOAT. WE WILL JOIN YOU SOON.
WITH THAT I TURNED TO THE LIONS. YOU ARE TO GET ONBOARD AS SOON AS THE REST OF THE PEOPLE FROM THE TEA ROOM ARE ON BOARD. YOU JOB HERE WILL BE DONE THEN BUT YOU WILL HAVE A NEW JOB WHEN WE GET TO WHERE WE ARE GOING. KITTEN SAM HAD BEEN CHATTING WITH THE LIONS. OR SO IT SEEMED. THEY NODDED AND CONTINUED TO PATROL CLOSE TO THE FLYING BOAT.
PRECIOUS SAM AND I MADE OUR WAY BACK TO THE TEA ROOM. I HOPE THERE IS A LITTLE COFFEE LEFT I NEED SOME.
I ENTERED THE TEA ROOM, EVERYONE WAS RUSHING AROUND PACKING THE LAST MINUTE ITEMS.
I WENT TO THE KITCHEN WHERE KITT WAS PACKING UP THE LAST OF THE FOOD. IS THERE ANY COFFEE LEFT I ASKED. BUT BEFORE SHE COULD ANSWER ANNALIESE HANDED ME A MUG OF COFFEE. THANK YOU ANNALIESE, COME LETS GET THESE PETS INTO MY CARPET BAG WE CAN CHAT TILL IT IS TIME TO LEAVE. WE WENT TO THE TABLE IN THE CORNER WHERE MY CARPET BAG WAS. NIX WAS STILL ASLEEP IN IT. I PUT PRECIOUS IN NEXT TO HIM AND SAM FOLLOWED.
ANNALIESE AND I SAT. WE CHATTED WHILE THE OTHERS PLACED BOXES BY THE DOOR TO TAKE WHEN WE LEFT.