Oliver

Seven hurried back through the cornfield. Approximately 5 minutes later she admitted to herself that she was lost.She kept passing the same big stone etched with the words ‘I love Nevada.’

The stone had just come into view AGAIN…when she heard crying. Surprised, she followed the sound until she came upon a little boy.  He couldn’t have been more than seven, with floppy brown hair and troubled, hazel eyes. He wore sneakers (whose laces had long ago come undone) and jeans with a sweatshirt that looked like it may once have been orange. His cheeks were streaked with tears, and he was huddled on the ground looking miserable.

He looked up at Seven at her approach, “Wh-who are you?”

Seven smiled, “My friends call me Seven.”

A small smile crept over the little boy’s face, “That’s a funny name.”

Seven laughed, “Well, I suppose it depends on your point of view. Are you lost?”

The smile disappeared, “Well, you see, I found this key and my older sister really likes keys so I thought I’d give it to her for her birthday. But then I heard her coming down the hall so I hid the key in a book. It was my favorite book, The Scrambled States of America. Well, later I went to look at my book and WAMPO! I was in this cornfield, and I can’t find my way out! I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way home!”

Tears pricked the little boy’s eyes.

“Oh, don’t worry! We’ll get you home,” Seven said as she sat down beside him.

Seven felt a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. Getting this little guy home would be no problem, but what might happen after that could be.

Back in her world, everyone knew about the magical keys Stories made. In fact, finding one was considered good luck. The keys had a special power. Stories were known for going into Story Worlds. In fact, they were the ones who made sure tales had happy endings. Story worlds were built off of imagination, and so were a little crazy. But whenever a Story went into a World, and started a new adventure; what happened would pop into some writer’s head, from a real world. Those writers usually wrote the ideas down and sold them, and a new tale was born! That was why Stories had to be so careful. They didn’t want people reading books with sad and horrible endings (which had happened more than once).

Sometimes the original tale was marred by editors’ ideas or the writer didn’t grasp the full truth of what happened. The Stories decided they wanted others to be able to experience the stories for themselves, and in doing so, keep the adventure alive. So they made the keys.

Put one into a book, begin to read, and BAM — you were in the story, living it! In keeping with their love for the unexpected, Stories began circulating keys randomly, casually losing them as they went about their day.

Occasionally, Stories hung out in the human world, and though technically they didn’t want to leave keys behind there, it could happen. Humans, or Earthlanders, as they were known in her world, had no knowledge of the keys. When found, there was nothing that indicated the key was magic. It seemed only a decorative key; the kind people want to find and keep as a treasure. Sometimes, Earthlanders, keys, and books mixed, as needed. So Seven was fairly certain this little boy was an Earthlander, and that could be a problem. However, she kept this all to herself.

“We’ll help you get home,” she repeated encouragingly, “but right now let’s get out of this corn maze. By the way, what’s your name?”

“Oliver,” he answered, “Whose we?”

“My friend, Cale and I,” she answered cheerfully as Seven helped Oliver up. “Cale isn’t with me right now, but once we find her, I’m sure she’ll be able to get you home.”

“Do you know the way out of here?”

“Nooo… but I’m sure we can find it.”

Oliver smiled and took Seven’s hand, “Yeah,” he said “And then once we’re home, I can show you my dinosaur collection!”

Seven smiled and the two walked off through the corn.

The Next Mission

laurie-keller

Notayu was waiting for Cale and Seven, “Ready for the next mission?”

“Now?” Cale was surprised.

“Yes, I need you to take Nevada and Idaho back to  The Scrambled States Of America.”

“All right, but I would think you’d at least give us a break first,” Cale said, with mock disappointment.

Notayu shook her head, “Spring and Chase are in Lord of the Rings. The situation is a little out of hands,” she smiled. “You know Spring! Anyway, I’m going in to assist them. I need all creatures out of the house. Elaine took Dos Ham, and Grace got the giant pelican. Now I need you to take these states.”

Cale nodded, “What are we waiting for?”

Notayu smiled, “I have the book right here with me.”

Soon Cale and Seven were on their way with the states. When they arrived, it seemed a little strange to see states getting groceries, reading books, and enjoying the spring day. Seven noticed that the states were all roughly about her size. Idaho and Nevada joined the throng, eager to do whatever it is states do.

“Well, that was easy,” Seven said, “All we do is go home, I suppose.”

Before Cale could answer, a lively man wearing a red, white, and blue suit and top hat boisterously announced, “Hello there, I’m Sam, the official state keeper of the United States of America.” Sam smiled widely at them, and held out his hand.

“Oh, uh…hello,” Cale said, as she shook the man’s hand.

“Of course, there was a time when they weren’t united,” he chuckled.

“Weren’t united?” Seven was confused.

“Well, here! I’ll tell you the story,” Sam said, “Now you just sit down and get comfortable. Ready? Ok, let’s began. It all started with…”

“Let me tell it!” a voice interrupted.

“Oh, oh! Let me! Let me!”

“No, no, you two,” the old man laughed, “That part is my job. Now get back in your places. We’re about to start the story.”

Looking a little disappointed, the two states hurried away.

“Aren’t they cute?” Sam asked. “Now! Let’s start the story.”

Seven’s curiosity was aroused and waiting to hear the story was a bit agonizing.

“We should give them a couple of seconds to get ready,” Sam spoke slowly, “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…”

I star walked by grumbling, “I could’ve told it!”

“Ok,” Sam said, “Let’s begin…”

states

Seven cried out in surprise as there was a flash of colors, and she felt herself falling through an empty space. Then, it was morning. Cale and Sam were nowhere to be seen. Seven found herself by the sleepy-eyed state of Ohio, who was spooning sugar into his cup.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever to used to that! I guess I better go see what’s going on,” Seven muttered to herself as she looked around, and headed toward a field of sunflowers.

As Seven rounded a corner of the field, she was surprised to hear an angry voice.

“I’m not feeling happy at all!”

Another voice, full of concern, asked, “What’s wrong, Kansas?”

Seven creeped behind a nearby tree to listen.

“I don’t know. I just feel bored. All we ever do is sit here in the middle of the country. We never go anywhere; we never do anything, and we never meet any new states! Don’t get me wrong, Nebraska, you’re the best friend a state could have. But I want to see something new! Don’t you want to see what else is out there?”

Nebraska thought for a moment, “Yes, I do!” she exclaimed, “And now that you mention it,  I’m sick and tired of hearing our neighbors bicker all the time!”

“I have an idea!” cried Kansas, “Let’s throw a party and invite all the other states. Everyone can bring a favorite dish. There will be music and dancing . . .”

“That’s a great idea!” shrieked Nebraska, “I wish I had thought of it myself!”

“The states are throwing a party?” Seven mused, “I have to tell Cale! If only I knew how to find her.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prisoners

 

dungeon

Sadly, at the end of the day , prisoners were herded into the cell. Seven looked up in surprise. There were two boys and a little girl. The older boy seemed to be about twelve while the other two (whom she assumed to be his siblings) seemed to somewhere around eleven and nine. The Fangs snickered at them.

As soon as they were alone, Cale got up, “Hi,” she said.

The boy started. Obviously, he hadn’t thought the two humps in the dark corner of the cell were people.

“Uh . . . hi,” he said.

“We had an unfortunate run-in with a fat Fang,” Cale said smiling. “What happened with you guys?”

Seven noticed that the two boys looked rather beat up. One had a big bruise, while the other had a swelling goose egg.

“Looks like you had it worse than us,” she added.

“We attacked some Fangs,” the younger boy said mildly, “because they were hurting our sister.”

“Tink!” the older boy snapped.

“What, they asked.”

Cale grinned, “Well, I had to attack a Fang cause Seven insulted it.”

“I didn’t mean to, it just kind-of came out!” Seven protested, “He was hard.”

The older boy gave a half-hearted smile, “You don’t seem too worried about it,” he said.

“We’re not from around here,” Cale explained, “and we won’t be staying long.”

The boy shook his head, “All those Fangs? That’s impossible! You’re right, you’re not from around here if you think you can get through fangs!”

Cale grinned, “You’d be surprised.”

Just then two Fangs came in. The bigger and fatter one seemed to be scoffing at the other who was referred to as Slarb. They had a heated conversation over the children’s fate. At last the bigger one decided the black carriage. Even though she didn’t know what this black carriage thing was, Seven was pretty sure it wasn’t good.

When the two lizard-men left, Seven asked, “What’s the black carriage?”

“The black carriage?” The boy looked at her like he was crazy, “It’s what takes people away, forever…”

Cale quickly changed the subject. “I guess we’ll be traveling together, so I should probably introduce myself. I’m Cale, and you are?”

“Janner, and this is Tink and Leeli.”

Seven smiled at them, “It’s nice to meet you. Company is always nice to have.”

The three kids seemed cheered at this, however Seven noticed that the Janner still seemed to carry the burden of guilt. “What would make him feel like a failure?” she wondered. The five kids sat on the floor and waited for dawn.

They were surprised when that big fat Fang came in. He let the children out and Seven noticed several new rings and bracelets adorned his hands. He was about to shut the gate when Cale flicked her fingers.

The Fang seemed to freeze for a minute before he growled, “Well, are you coming or are you going in the carriage?” Seven quickly slipped out followed by Cale, and the ugly creature laughed at them.

As Janner passed the Fang, it yanked the boy up by the collar of his shirt, and growled something threatening. Janner’s face went white and the Fang threw him to the ground. He scrambled to his feet, and followed the others. As they neared the door, Seven stepped closer to Cale.

Keeping her head low, she asked, “What happened back there?”

“I might have used a little magic to change the fang’s thoughts to all the children rather than just three of them.”

Seven smiled, “I guess it’s a good thing you still have a little magic.”

At last they were outside the jail. A woman stood there waiting. She herded the children away; Seven and Cale followed them. As soon as they were far enough away, the woman knelt down and began examining the children’s wounds and hugging them. “She must be their mother,” Seven thought.

Cale broke into her thoughts, “Seven, it’s time to leave.”

“Oh, right.” Seven smiled at the three children, “Well, good-bye!”

Janner grinned at them, “Thanks for your company.”

“Keep up with the ‘protecting-younger-sisters-from-fangs’ work,” Cale told him, grinning.

Janner flushed, “Uh, thanks.”

After waving farewell, Seven and Cale slipped into a near-by crowd. People were listening to a man playing a whistle harp. The two girls hid in a dark corner, and Cale twirled her hand in the air. Things became blurry and they were caught up in the midst of swirling colors. For a few minutes they were in the shapeless space before finding themselves back in the house where the adventure had started.

Back to…..Seven and Cale

forest

Seven found herself back-to-back with Cale. The Toothy Cow pawed the ground and the Horned Hounds growled ferociously.

“What are we gonna do now?” Seven asked Cale, as she kept her eyes on the Horned Hounds in front of her.

“The only thing we can,” Cale answered, “Ride the Toothy Cow.”

“Are you crazy?” Seven began, but she got no further.

Cale hurled herself at the cow, landing on it’s back. It bellowed and began bucking, stomping on Horned Hounds as it did. Seven backed away from the whirling creature until she heard growling behind her. She was suddenly aware that several Horned Hounds were standing there, ready to pounce. Cale managed to steady the angry cow for a few seconds, and offered Seven her hand. Without hesitation Seven took hold of it and swung herself up behind Cale. Then she grabbed hold of her shoulders just before the Toothy Cow charged. The two girls found themselves riding recklessly through the woods. Anything in their path was completely destroyed. Seven held onto Cale for dear life and ducked under branches. Cale’s body was tense as she rode the cow. She knew her business and that included a firm grip. At last she saw a sturdy branch up ahead. “Ah ha!” she thought.

“Seven!”

“What?”

“See that branch?

“Yep.”

“Do you think you could grab it?”

“Uh…maybe.”

“Good!”

toothy-20cow21

[photo credit to Andrew Peterson, 2008]

Cale dug her heals into the cow’s sides. As she had hoped the Toothy Cow threw it’s rear end in the air, and Seven went flying. Her arms flailed as she fell forward and grabbed the branch. She hung there a moment before scrambling into the tree. Without waiting, Cale jumped off the back of the crazy creature and latched onto the branch. The Toothy Cow went on running madly. Cale joined Seven and leaned against the trunk. The girls gave each other tentative smiles and at that moment they were friends. They looked down and saw the Toothy Cow had disappeared.

“He’s probably realized he’s passenger-less by now,” Cale said, “Might as well see Glipwood while we’re here.”

The two girls scrambled down the tree and ran. They ran faster when they heard the howling of Horned Hounds. At last they reached the township. That was the good thing; the bad thing was they ran straight into a Fang.

Seven rubbed her head, “Man, you are hard.”

The words were out before Seven could stop herself. She gasped and her hand flew to her mouth. “I’m becoming more and more like a Story,” she thought miserably.

The Fang growled, “Hard eh? We’ll see how hard you think I am when I’ve pummeled you to the ground!”

Most of the near by people had disappeared by now, Seven noticed. Those that were there looked scared and nervous. The Fang raised his fist but Cale was too fast for him. She flung herself at the unwholesome creature, hitting him directly in the stomach. The Fang grunted with surprise and stumbled backward. Before he could recover himself Cale flicked magic at him and he disintegrated into a pile of ash.

Cale and Seven zipped away. The unfortunate thing was that all this commotion attracted several other Fangs. Cale and Seven ran right into them. They grabbed the girls and dragged them off to the Glipwood jail. They were there for several days. Cale was able to use her magic to make food, but it was scanty.

At last Seven asked, “Cale, why don’t we just leave? We got the animals back to Glipwood forest.”

Cale sighed, “Seven, you know all Stories have a weakness. Something that makes it so they can’t do magic.” Seven nodded and Cale continued, “Well, mine is stone, like what this cell is made of. Being near it makes my magic considerably less strong. I can do food spells, but I’m certainly not strong enough to take us to another world. Touching metal takes my magic go completely away, so until we get out of here I can’t do much magic.”

“Oh… I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.”

Cale plunked herself down on the floor and leaned her head against the wall. Seven sighed and joined her, wishing there was more that she could do. The next day a lot of noise drifted into the cell window.

“What’s going on?” Cale asked the first Fang who came in.

The ugly creature bared it’s fangs, letting venom drop from them. “Stop drooling, and just tell me,” Cale said, sounding bored, “Maybe it’ll give me something to think about.”

“How about I come in there and bite you,” the Fang hissed, “It’ll give you sssomething to think about.”

“Try and catch me,” Cale said.

The Fang growled, as it toyed with the keys. It was a tempting offer Cale had made. Seven watched nervously. Cale wasn’t afraid of the Fang but that didn’t mean it couldn’t hurt her. Appearing to reconsider, the Fang stuck its face near the bars, it’s bottomless black eyes looking like empty wells. Cale met its gaze unflinchingly.

“It’s the Dragon’sss Day Fessstival. The only good thing about isss we might get sssome new prisssonersss. Now clossse your mouth, or we’ll gladly do it for you.”

The Fang snapped it’s jaws hungrily, and Seven winced. However, the movement didn’t go unnoticed, and the Fang turned to her.

“We’ll gladly do it for either of you,” it amended, then it hung the keys on their hook and left the room.

 

{For more Back Story on Seven and Cale, see the Previous Adventures section –specifically the blog entitled, On the Edge of the Dark Sea…}

Back to the Beginning

“Well, you got here a little late, Seven and Cale just left.”

Elaine turned and saw Randon. “I hope you’ve been doing an efficient job,” she said, smiling.

Randon grinned, “We’re a little short on sheets, but other than that you’ll find the place descent enough.”

young dragon

Just then a young dragon came charging through  as she sped after Dos Ham (Uno’s brother). In their reckless chase the two managed to knock everyone off their feet, except Grace. Grace was knocked onto the dragon’s back and got (as some might call it) carried away.

“Dos!” Uno Ham cried, running after his brother; managing to trip Notayu as she came into the room.

“Oh, Elaine, Grace, you’re here!” she said as she stood up.

Elaine smiled at the young woman, “It’s nice to see you, Notayu.”

“What about me?” Randon asked, pretending to be hurt.

Elaine gave him a withering look, “You are you, Randon,” she said with mock disgust.

Randon looked at her innocently, “What’s so bad about me?” he asked.

Elaine tried not to smile. Her family had known Randon’s for a long while. Now they were almost like siblings, and this friendly bickering had become common. Before Elaine could give her witty reply, Notayu interrupted.

“The leftovers from lunch are in the refrigerator,” she said, “I need to go take care of that dragon.”

As Elaine took food out of the fridge, she noticed Randon was on a tablet.

“What are doing with that?” she asked as she slid into the chair across from him.

“Nothing much,” he said, grinning.

“That face tells me you’ re up to no good,” Elaine said.

Randon (still grinning) remarked, “It’s not like you could do anything about it.”

Elaine raised an eyebrow, “Does it involve me?”

“Well, you could say that. However, it’s more of a problem for Seven than anyone else.”

Elaine shook her head, “The things you do to her. Why don’t you give her a break?”

“Because, I’m Randon.”

“That is exactly what’s wrong with you.”

“Being Randon is awesome! You should try it sometime!”

“You mean being Randon is mischievous and getting into trouble! Thank-you, but I’ll pass!”

“You miss so much.”

Elaine, who had been about to bite into her sandwich, stopped and gave him her most indignant look. She shook her head and took a bite. Randon grinned and went back to his work. A moment later Grace came in.

As she sat down with her own sandwich, Grace turned to Elaine, “Eat quickly, we’ll be leaving right after we’re finished.”

Elaine laughed, “Another adventure? This must be pure luck!”

Randon raised an eyebrow at her, “What do you mean, adventure? Wasn’t almost getting eaten by an Org an adventure?”

“Not when I was trying to make lunch!” Elaine protested.

Randon grinned, “I was just asking.”

After lunch, Elaine and Grace found Notayu taking a book off a tall shelf.

three-little-pigs

She handed it to Elaine, who smiled, “Stuck with Uno again,” she sighed with mock disappointment. Truly, Elaine was glad to travel with the little pig again. He was an interesting character.

Notayu laughed, “You’ll be taking his brother, Dos, as well. I’m sure their other brother will be glad to see them.

Uno and Dos

And Grace, you’ll be taking that giant pelican back to Pirates Eat Porridge. Be sure to take Glow with you. I don’t know if it’s exactly safe to go alone.”

Pirates Eat Porridge

Grace accepted the book smiling, “Boy, if Cale were here, she’d be furious! She loves that story.”

(Note: Dear reader, if you have small children I would highly suggest this book as an excellent choice. If you like short and humorous stories, you will equally enjoy it. Randon)

So Elaine, Uno, Dos, Glow, Grace, and a giant pelican were sent on their next adventures, which as you may guess started with swirling colors.

 

{To connect the dots, so to speak, take a little time to visit our Previous Adventures section!}

 

 

 

 

Setting Things Straight

 

“Of course he’s a friend!” Granny Goose said, “Do you think he’d be in my house if he wasn’t? Now put away that gun, Benny. You’re old enough to know there’s no shooting in the house!”

Slowly, Ben swung the gun over his shoulder and adjusted the strap. As soon as he did, a glowing white horse stepped out of the shadows.

“Glow!” Elaine cried. She rushed to the horse, “Where’s Grace?” she asked.

“Right behind you,” said a voice.

Elaine turned and saw Grace standing there. Another girl stood at her side.

“Grace, where were you?” she asked.

“Right here,” Grace answered, “Lena and I were sitting in the corner.”

“Oh . . .” Elaine said, and Grace laughed.

“Wait, how did all this happen?” Ben asked.

And so the story was told. Elaine started with how she had been traveling with Grace, Glow, Uno Ham, and Fang in the forest when wolves surrounded them. (She had to change the story a little.) Fang had gone off to find help, and Grace and Glow went after him. Wolves surrounded Elaine and Uno Ham, and Ben came to the rescue.

Grace explained how she and Lena had met, their surprise at finding Fang and Ashay at Granny’s, and how  Granny brought them all together over gingerbread cookies and milk.

 

When the story was finished things made a lot more sense, but Elaine still had one question.

“Uno?” she asked, “Why are you named a Spanish number?”

“My father was a Spanish professor,” the pig answered.

“But why a number?” Elaine asked.

“Are you saying you disapprove of the name?” Uno asked, “I’m am highly offended! Do you really think I . . .?”

“No, I think it’s a lovely name!” Elaine cried, “I was just, uh, curious.”

Ben hid a grin, as the pig nodded. “There have been many pigs named Uno in my family,” he said. “We are experts on language, especially Spanish,” he said self-importantly.

“Well, Granny, thank you for the treats! We should probably be going,” Elaine said, hoping to change the subject.

Grace nodded and Glow whinnied in agreement. Uno Ham nodded.

“Fang, aren’t you coming?” Elaine asked, noticing that the warg had made no move to join them.

“Actually,” Fang said, “I think I’ll stay here. I want to start a family with Ashay . . .”

“Oh, yes, please do!” Granny Goose cried. “It’s so lonely here, and I would love to have someone to talk to!”

“Oh, yes!” Lena agreed. “Now I won’t have to worry about robbers!”

“Well, we weren’t going to stay in the cottage. We wouldn’t want to be a bother . . .” Fang began.

“Oh, pish, posh,” Granny said. “A bother? Pah! Of course you must stay here! I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

“If you insist,” Fang sighed, but it was obvious that he was secretly pleased. “Who knows when I’ll be able to get chocolate cake again?” he thought.

Ben turned to Elaine, “If you like, I could escort you . . .”

“Actually, that won’t be necessary,” Elaine said, smiling, “We’ll be leaving a different way.”

She twirled her hand in the air. A shimmer of sparkles settled around the Pegasus, the pig, and the two sisters.

“Good-bye!” Elaine called, as everything around her became faint.

Ben’s expression had turned from confusion, to astonishment, and finally realization. He raised a hand in a farewell, and smiled. He had stayed clear, despite the blurry shape of everything else.

“Come back soon, Elaine,” he said.

“I will,” Elaine answered.

Then the boy and everything else was swallowed up in a swirling space of colors. All too soon Elaine and Grace were standing in their previous house with Glow and Uno Ham at their side. Elaine sighed. She resolved to go into Little Red Riding Hood’s world as soon as this whole mess was taken care of.

 

Finding Each Other

Cottage_Potterne

Uno Ham, Elaine, and Ben trudged through the forest calling, “Grace, Grace!”

“I don’t think this is working,” Ben said hoarsely, “We can’t find her by calling!”

“I know,” Elaine sighed, “but I have to find Grace!”

“Well, how about we go visit my grandmother,” Ben said. “Children are often drawn to her cottage.”

Elaine sighed again, “Alright.”

When they reached Granny Goose’s cottage, they could hear an elderly, female voice talking from inside.

“That’s Granny,” Ben said.

Elaine knocked on the door while Uno Ham tried to stand on one foot. After a minute they heard shuffling feet, and the door opened. A gray-haired woman stood before them, wearing a bright orange robe, and smelling of roses.

“Benny!” she cried. Then she noticed Elaine and asked, “Whose this?”

“Elaine,” Ben answered. “And this is her pig, Uno Ham.”

“Well, come in, come in,” Granny Goose said, “We’re having goodies, and story telling!”

“We?” Elaine asked hopefully.

The old woman was already shuffling back into the cottage. Ben, Elaine and Uno Ham had no choice but to follow her. When they came into her parlor, (Granny Goose had a rather big cottage) . . . They saw two little girls, and two dogs sleeping by the hearth.

“When did you get dogs?” Ben asked his grandmother.

“Oh, those aren’t dogs,” Granny Goose laughed cheerfully. Those are wolves.”

“Wolves!” Elaine gasped.

Ben aimed his rifle at the smaller wolf. He was about to shoot when the bigger wolf jumped up growling ferociously. He was unusually big and black, with sharp, threatening fangs.

“Fang!” Elaine cried in shock.

The warg turned to her, surprised.

“Elaine?” he asked.

From the tone of his voice, Elaine guessed he wasn’t as evil as the others. Something had happened.

“Ben, don’t shoot!” she said.

The two girls were staring at them now. Ben slowly lowered the gun.

“You know this beast?” he asked.

“Yes,” Elaine answered, “he’s a friend.”