wiz of odd

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Panteris Publishing

Table of Contents

Wiz of Odd


"Awe, mom do I really have to wear this monkey suit?" asked Jeff.
"Yes, Jeff, they're reporters. You'll be on camera," his mom replied.
"But mom isn't this going a little…oh I don't know… overboard?" he pleaded.
"No it's called making a good impression," she said not letting him get to her.
"But… umm, couldn't I just wear a shirt, tie, and slacks?" he asked, making a final attempt at not being embarrassed in front of millions of people.
"Okay, but hurry" feeling as though she too had won a small victory.
"Alright, mom” Jeff said with exasperation.
After a few minutes his mom called. "Jeff!”
"Yeah mom?” he yelled from his room upstairs.
"They're here! And don't forget your little friend dear."
"I won't!"
"So Jeff. May I call you Jeff?” asked the director.
“Uh… I guess, sure,” Jeff said with a little excitement. Finally I might get rid of that horrible nickname.
“Jeff, you'll be on the couch," said the director.
"Okay," he said enthusiastically. Though he had no clue how short lived his enthusiasm would be.
"We'll just put the cage in the kitchen, alright?" asked the director.
"Fine," Jeff said with a touch of annoyance.
"I heard this was a good story," the journalist stated with a glance over the top of her glasses.
"It is, I promise," Jeff said with a fear not yet realized.
"Is it true?" asked the cameraman.
"Yes," Jeff and his mom said at the same time.
"How can we be sure?" asked the director skeptically.
"I have proof," Jeff said confidently.

Wiz of Odd
By; Michael Kincade
Writing as Michael Panteris

Chapter 1
The Long Trip

"In a small Canadian town inside the border of Montreal, there lived a young man named Jeff. There wasn't anything exceptionally special about him, except the exceptional story he was told to keep secret. Along with all of the events that happened in a place that doesn't exist. This is the story according to him." The reporter was talking to the camera.
"Are we recording?"
"Yes we're recording, Jeff."
"Okay, well my name is Jeff, and I'm in high school. I've never made friends very easily. I was always unsure about why I was so unaccepted in my youth. I was always unpopular. The kids gave me the nickname, 'Dorky', when I started wearing glasses. I was in middle school. The teachers couldn't help getting in on the action.
"I always pretended that it didn't bother me. I would laugh right along with them like a good sport; hoping one of two outcomes might take place; first, that they might see that I have a sense of humor and I'm not so bad after all. Or second that they might get bored because their names don't seem to bother me. Needless to say, neither one happened, I still have the nickname."
"Is all this information really necessary?" asked the reporter.
"This information is crucial in this instance, and besides I've just come to the part in the story where my journey is about to begin," Jeff said arrogantly.
"Fine, lets just get on with it," said the producer with disdain.
"I'm getting there," said Jeff with a touch of nonchalant disdain, "anyway I was at school and I was having my usual bad morning, where I would say 'Hi' and they would ignore me. This is nothing new. They never said anything back to me," said Jeff with a thoughtfully sorrow filled look on his face.
"You okay kid?" asked the probing reporter.
"I'm fine," Jeff said with a halfhearted smile. "I was remembering the time where we used to be friends. The cheerleader, the jock, and the nerd, that's what we were considered, back in middle school. All of that changed, my freshman year of high school. I would say 'hi' or 'what's up' and they'd ignore me. I apologize for digressing. One day, while I was at school, I felt fine during the morning and throughout my classes until lunch. However it was after lunch that I started to feel ill. I went to see the school nurse. She took my temp and said I was fine and to go back to class. On my way back to class, I passed a set of double doors and that's when I heard a faint noise off in the distance," Jeff chuckled to himself.
"What was the noise Jeff?" asked the reporter.
"I just stood and stared out the window to see what was causing the noise. I had a puzzled look on my face. Then I saw it. It was an upside-down twister. It looked really small off in the distance. As I stood there and watched with intense intrigue, I couldn't tell if it was going away from the school or coming closer.

By now the reporter, the camera crew, and the producer were getting ready to pack it up and call this kid either a liar or just plain nuts. Just as the reporter turned around to say something to Jeff she saw something in Jeff's eyes. She recognized it right away. He believed what he was saying was the truth. Finally the reporter relaxed and said, "Look Jeff, you believe what you're saying to be the truth, right? So we're going to listen to what you have to say. But this all sounds crazy."
"Thanks," Jeff said with a sour tone. "Look, I'm a semi-intelligent guy, and as unbelievable as this story is, it's all true," he was now pleading with the reporter to listen and believe.
"Alright continue," the reporter said with a little exasperation.
"Well, the story gets really weird, but I promise that when I'm done telling the story I'll show you the proof, deal?"
"Okay deal, but the proof had better be worth the time."
"Well, as I watched the twister, I realized only too late that it was coming closer. My eyes widened with fear. At that moment I realized that the school was in trouble. I went to the office and told the principal, with yelling intensity. I told him to sound the tornado alarm. But she didn't believe me. I argued with her. Finally she looked out the window and saw that it was still sunny. So she decided not to issue a tornado warning, so, with no big surprise, I lost. I started to go back to class, choosing to walk past the double doors where I saw the thing. It was still heading toward the school.
"By this time it should be on the school," said the producer his voice dripping with disdain.
"Well it wasn't," Jeff said sharply, trying to get the reporters to back off and let him finish his story. "May I go on, now?"
"By all means young man, we're all a twitter with anticipation," the reporter said with a rude venomous sarcasm.
Jeff shot the reporter a disrespectful look with enough venom to rival the comment the reporter had just made.
"Fine, I apologize please go on," said the producer.
"Okay then. I went out the door to see if it was really there or if it was just a figment of my wild imagination. To my astonishment it was still coming. I turned to go back in, but the door was stuck. I pulled and yanked, but it was jammed, or so I thought. I looked in the window and saw a few of my classmates, showing me that they had chained the doors. Then they walked off content with the fact that I was about to be sucked up by the twister," Jeff had a solemn look on his face.
"He's such a ham," said the boom man to the producer.
"I'm not amused by you're comment," Jeff paused, "and you think I'm not listening, right, well let me tell you something, I don't need this abuse, you don't want to listen, then leave and take all of these moronic imbeciles' with you," Jeff was so disgusted and disgraced with the reporter and his crew of miscreants. Jeff had had enough of their disbelief.
"Don't misunderstand us Dorky, I mean Jeff, but this isn't going fast enough for us. I'll admit it Jeff, we're impatient people. We don't have the attention span to listen to a story that quite frankly sounds like something that a comic book writer would use as a ploy for sales. Or the ravings of a loony," said the producer.
"Well this isn't a comic book, this really happened, and if you don't want to believe me, well, you know where the door is," Jeff was so furious his face was purple.
"Let's take five people," said the producer with a hint of frustration. "Dorky, can I speak to you alone, if that's okay? Is it alright if I call you Dorky, without you getting offended of course," asked the producer, being completely serious.
"If you must," said Dorky with a sigh.
"Look Dorky, it's hard for us to believe without some kind of proof," said the producer matter-of-factly. The producer was a tall man with graying hair, light complexion and a moustache just above his lip.
"Look," Dorky said, "what if I got to the point in the story where I'm in the land of Odd, would that be helpful?"
"Extremely and don't spare the details, I want to be able to see it as if I were there with you," the producer said sounding relieved.

Chapter 2
Landing in Odd

"I was locked out of the school by three kids who were on their way back to class. I was panicking, I had nowhere to run, I had to think of something fast, but nothing came to mind. I had to calm down, so I just sat down on the steps. I was sitting there for what seemed like a few seconds. Then I herd a faint voice."
"Who was it?" asked the reporter.
"It was a teacher. He was panicking as he fumbled with the chain. He couldn't find the right key, so he ran for his life. As I turned around, I too was suddenly overcome by fear."
"What did you see, Dorky?"
"I saw the full intensity of the twister. It was getting closer. I knew at that moment that I was in serious trouble. I started to pray. I prayed for my mom not to worry herself sick if I didn't make it home for dinner."
"What did you do next?"
"I got up and ran toward safety at the back of the school."
"Hmmm… I see."
"I'm sorry. I know I must seem like such a coward to you," Dorky said shamefully.
The reporter got up and moved the chair closer to Dorky. "Not at all, please continue, what happened next?"
"I started running for my life, that's what. I ran as fast as I could, but I knew that I couldn't outrun it. Then I realized I wasn't even moving. The twister was already so close that it was making me run in place. So I stopped to catch my breath. And then it happened I was picked up by the twister. The Base of the twister was so wide, I felt like a piece of dust being vacuumed up. I was tossed this way and that, rolled over and over. Then I realized what was really going on." He paused to see if anyone was going to ask the obvious question. No one did.
He then continued. "I saw my math teacher teaching his usual math mumbo-jumbo, and the three kids who locked me out of the school, turned into flying monkeys of differing colors, and they happened to be jumping up and down as they went. I think the whole school must have been turned into these flying colorful monkeys." Dorky stopped again but this time it was to catch his breath.
"Then what?" asked the reporter anxiously.
"Then I was knocked out by a set of big steel double doors. You see the school was tumbling around inside the twister as well. I was tumbling all over the place, and finally I hit the doors and was knocked out."
"Oh," said the reporter wanting to feel just a little bit of empathy for the kid.
"I have no idea how long I was out for, but when I came to, I was lying on the ground unable to move. For a minute I thought I was paralyzed. Then I wiggled my fingers, and arms, and neck, and legs while I was stuck on the ground. Then I tried again to stand, but as hard as I tried I couldn't do it. I was finally able to roll onto my stomach and get to my hands and knees and I stood suddenly feeling dizzy. As I waited for the dizziness to wear off, I tried to identify with the world around me to see what I could use as a landmark to figure out where I was. This however proved useless. Nothing here seemed familiar. I mean absolutely nothing. The sky was pink, like a picture perfect sunset. The clouds were red and shades of orange. I noticed that the school had actually come with me. I walked toward the school, being careful not to be seen. I noticed that I was right about the entire school being turned into flying, colorful monkeys, each monkey being a different color. They're all still in class. I just looked at them with a sort of satisfaction. Then I realized that these were still my classmates. Seeing them like this made me feel like on one hand I had a touch of vengeance, but on the other, it also made me feel a little empathy for the imps," Dorky paused, letting out a small sigh.
"What else did you notice?"
"I saw a strange colored farm with a crop of black wheat and white flowers, on my left. On my right, odd colored trees as dense as a rain forest. As I was noticing my surroundings I heard something. It sounds like the sound of slow rustling leaves on the ground. Then I heard a light tapping sound with it. It was getting closer, and closer, I tried to move, I had to move, but alas it was futile. Then I heard a small gruff voice next to my ankle. I winced and started to plead with it not to eat me. I startled it or so it seemed."
"Move!," said this gruff little voice. "Get off the road!" it exclaimed angrily, seeming very calm about my presence, but not my placing.
"I…I…I can't move," I started to say. "I just can't move. I'm trying."
"Exactly, you‘re trying to move. Stop trying to and just move!."
So I did as it suggested. I moved one foot in front of the other. I was amazed I could move that much. It was as if whatever force was holding me in place had ebbed. So I could walk much easier now.
"See was it really all that difficult?" asked the gruff little voice.
As I stood there looking at the nothing that was behind me, I started to wonder if I was nuts after all.
"Are you trying to squish me?" asked this little rodent in a well tailored suit. "Gees and after I helped you, this is the thanks I get?" he grumbled.
"I'm sorry. I just didn't expect you to be right behind me."
"Well that's what you get for not using common sense. Where else would I be?" it asked with a bit of an attitude. Then it continued, "Now if you don't mind, if you're just going to stand around, GET OFF THE ROAD!" and with that he started walking around me.
"Wait… where are you going?" I asked desperately.
"That's entirely none of your business," remarked the hairless, but well dressed, rodent harshly.
"Please if you're going toward some kind of civilization, I want to come with you. No, scratch that, I need to come with you," I realized I was still trying to plead with this little hairless rodent, but what choice do I have? "Are you going to work?"
"Again let's get this straight, IT"S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!"
"What's your name?" I asked ignoring his temper tantrum. "Mine's Jeff, but everyone calls me Dorky."
"Mine, is Totem Sun-Jai," he said with a sigh.
"Pleasure to meet you Totem whatever you said your last name was."
He said something so fast and angry that I didn't even try to catch what he said. "It's Totem Sun-Jai," he was clearly irritated, "but you can call me Totem for short," he said with a large sigh.
"Can I ask you now if there is a city near by?" I asked cautiously. After all I didn't want him dying of a heart attack because I made him mad.
"Yes Dorky there is a city. The city of Sapphire located in the county of Tanzanite," he said matter-of-factly.
"Sounds wonderful," speaking of sounds it was at this time I heard a cackling of giggles come from all around me. Just then I saw a glowing orb coming toward Totem and me. "What's that?" I asked in a whisper.
"Oh great, there goes the neighborhood," Totem said grimly, "That's the Witch of the North, and man has she got issues, besides her ego."
"Witch… that doesn't sound good," I said despairingly.
"She's a good wit…," his words were cut off due to her entrance.
"POOF," Totem jumped up and burst her bubble thinking, or perhaps hoping, that it would kill her or keep her from showing up.
"Why, Totem that's no way to treat your wife," she said with a grimace. "Who's your friend?"
"Ex-wife and he's not a friend he's an outsider."
"Well he must be a warlock and a powerful one at that. Hey hot stuff," she said teasingly, "where are you from?"
"I… I'm from Montreal Canada," I said, not trying to make a fool of myself. I failed. She was just so lovely. Her words made me feel like a child dreaming.
"Well aren't you just a cutie? What's your name?"
"Jeff, but everyone calls me Dorky," I said sheepishly.
"How did you get here, did you use your magic?" she asked looking at Totem.
"Oh no, I don't know any magic. I was brought here by an up-side-down twister."
"A what, I see you're here to be the hero," she said looking at Totem.
"You brought an outsider here to our world to defeat HER and he's the best you could do?" now she was getting angry.
I didn't care if she was getting angry, I was feeling insulted. "Wait a minute you were okay with the thought that I might be a powerful warlock, what changed?"
"Oh nothing changed, I'm still glad you're here, I just don't want you to get hurt is all," she said trying to act concerned. "I have complete faith in you Dorky, I'm sure you'll do just fine," she started laughing and laughed all while shrinking back into her little shining orb.
Once again Totem tries to pop it, but I beat him to it this time. "What was all that about, Totem?" I asked.
He sighs, "Hopefully the means to an end Dorky, hopefully the means to an end."

Chapter 3
New Alliances

I didn't know that we were being watched, but once the little people jumped out of the bushes and scared the jeepers out of me, I knew. "Totem… who or what are these things?" I asked without meaning to.
"It's okay Dorky, they're here to help. They're sprouts."
"We represent the population, in this grand celebration. It's pure jubilation. Uh…uh… we have nothing. We're just glad that you're here," each of the four sprouts took turns saying.
The sprouts looked like cabbage patch bodies in their first stage. You know the cabbage stage, cabbage head with hands and head visible. But these things bounced everywhere. They came in various colors. "Go that way down the blue and yellow road. If it turns green then you're on the right path," and with that they bounced over the hedge where they came from.
"Well Dorky, another fine mess I've gotten me into," he said this as if he was foreseeing something I was unable to.
I started thinking about the twister and my school and everyone in it. I started thinking about my mom and how worried she must be.
"Dorky! Did you hear a word I was just saying?" asked Totem slightly annoyed.
"Huh, uh no I'm sorry I was deep in thought. What were you saying?" hoping that he wouldn't ask what I was thinking about.
"I said, this might be a bad time to say so, but this isn't going to be easy, going to Sapphire," he said with a concerned look on his face. "We'll face many dangers."
"Like what exactly?" hoping he wouldn't say wild animals.
"Wild animals," he said matter-of-factly.
I gave him a look that just says 'figures.' "Well what do we do about that slight dilemma?" I asked keeping from getting too awfully angry with this small critter.
"Nothing we can do about the wild animals. Unless, you are a great and powerful sorcerer," he said mocking me.
"What kind of wild animals are we talking about here?" I asked him feigning courage.
"Bison, ligers, and bears," he said with a shiver.
"Bison, ligers, and bears?” I asked with an unbelieving smirk.
"Bison, ligers, and bears," he said, not getting the point of my asking.
I was about to repeat it again when all of a sudden we came upon a pitchfork in the road. Really, it was in a grassy spot between the two roadways. The road we were on split in two. I saw a look come across Totem's face and knew what it meant but decided to see if I could break his mind loose. "Totem, you okay?"
"Fine," he said with that look of confusion that I recognized. "I just don't know where we are. I don't remember this on the way to Sapphire."
"Oh… that's not good," just then I saw a scare-cow point towards the right and the left. I got closer to it and asked, "Did you just point?"
"Yes I did. Where are you going?" she asked in a country accent.
"We're going to Sapphire, do you know the way?" I asked with a tinge of excitement.
"If you let me go with you, I'll tell you," she said with a tone of haughtiness. Then she screamed, scaring me half to death.
"It's a naked mole-rat," she cried between screams.
Confused and scared, I asked, "Where?"
"On your shoulder," she cried pointing at Totem.
"Wait you silly thing, he's helping me get to Sapphire too. He's okay, say 'hi' Totem," as I tried to calm her down.
"Uh, hi, I guess," he said with a fake smile.
"Oh I'm so sorry, I didn't know that you were a pet," she snickered. Turning red, Totem said in his fast paced voice that was indeterminable, "I'm not a pet, I'm not a friend, I'm an escort," he said through clinched teeth.
"Oh, my most sincere apologies, Totem," she said as she giggled. If you promise to get me down, I promise to get both of you to Sapphire without getting lost.
So after a little thought from Totem, we agreed. We immediately went to work trying to find a way to get the scare-cow down.
I must stop here to tell you that the scare-cow was exactly that. She was a cow doing the job of a scarecrow. She had a straw hat, and little blonde hairs, that looked a little like straw all over her body. The voice only confirmed what the udders would have. She was a female of course. We were trying everything to get her down. That's what we thought until we saw a nail in the post that her overalls were attached to. So I went to work trying to bend the nail down, right and left. Nothing worked. So we tried to twist the nail up. When we did, she almost flew off that post.
"Oh thank you!" she exclaimed repeatedly.
"You're welcome," Totem said, "Now if it's all the same to you, we'd like to get going."
"We'll go that way," she said pointing to the road leading to the right.
We all walked down the road, well Totem and I walked, the scare-cow kinda walked slash kinda tripped, down the road.
"I'll find my land legs yet!" she proclaimed as if she were embarrassed.

Chapter 4
The Tin Ram

We were on our way down the long road. After a couple of hours my stomach started to rumble. I was hungry. We walked for another half hour before I saw them out the corner of my eye. They were very large, very red apples. These apples almost seemed to shine in the denseness of the woods.
I walked over to the trees not even hearing Totem's pleas not to go near them. I reached for an apple, but it grew giant, razor sharp teeth. It snapped at me. The sound must have awakened the other apples. The apples all started snapping. Backing away slowly, I backed into another tree, when I heard Totem scream into my ear.
I jerked away from the tree to get us out of harms way, but then a hand or hoof or something, touched the shoulder that Totem wasn't sitting on. Then I heard a familiar voice come from behind me. "Come on Dorky, you don't want any of these apples," Elle said indignantly.
"Yeah, I figured," I said blushing.
"The type of apples those were is irrelevant," Totem said, seeming like he read my mind. "Apples here are not to be eaten. They eat you."
We just kept walking. My hunger pains were increasing by the step. We came upon a field on the outskirts of the woods. There were rows of corn. Well that's what it resembled anyway. "Is that stuff okay to eat?" I asked pointing to the field.
"Yeah it's not just okay, it's great," Totem said as he tried to steer me towards it.
I felt like he was trying to turn me into his horse. Lucky for him I was already heading that direction. I still had my back pack, so I filled it as full as I could with it having the ability to close. I started to eat this 'corn on the cob,' when I realized it was just like eating popcorn on the cob. So that's what we ate while we continued our trek to the city of Sapphire.
We walked for a few hundred feet when I saw something that resembled a tree. However it didn't look like any tree I'd ever seen before. I took Totem on a little detour. He protested it, in my ear. Then it started to make a funny sound. As I got closer to it I started to see that it wasn't a tree at all. It was encrusted in some spots and semi-metallic in others. It was covered in leaves and bark on most of it. As I got within a few feet of it and really started looking at it, I saw that it was a goat of some kind.
Then I heard the same noise that I had heard it make from a distance. This time though it was much louder. Sitting in front of this thing there was a stump with an axe in it.
"Hey Totem who's this” I asked cautiously.
"He's the woodsman; he was considered a nice mammal. That is until he disappeared some months ago. Apparently, he didn't disappear though," Totem said thoughtfully.
We heard a small noise.
"Hush… I heard something," Totem said almost inaudibly. Then Totem heard it again. It was a noise and a quiet voice. "Get me closer Dorky," Totem said quietly.
"Oil can," the metallic goat thing said with his throat.
"Dorky, find the oil can, quickly," demanded Totem.
I looked for the small can. Then I saw it. I found the, tiny oil can in a clearing of grass, not far from the stump.
Totem squeezed some of the oil into the joints of the goat thing. He started with his eyes, then his mouth. When the goat thing tried to open its mouth, the squeak was deafening. So Totem put more oil in those joints. The goat thing moved its jaw around until no noise was heard. Totem got right to work on the shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, and all the way down to the feet. Totem took great care not to miss a single joint. Elle and I took turns helping Totem to the goat things joints. I had the right, and Elle had the left. Once the joints were all lubed up, the goat thing then said, 'thank you.'
So as Totem, Elle and I stood back, the goat thing started to move its arms, and legs as if trying to walk. But as you would have it, he fell over. Elle and I ran to his aide. "I'm just a little stiff still, and a little out of practice. I'll get the gist of this soon enough," he said, with a touch of gruffness in his voice.
He tried to walk again after Elle and I had him standing. He fell over again, but this time straight into my arms. Man this thing was heavy. And then I saw something I didn't see on this thing before, I saw horns. Big round horns like you find on mountain sheep. So this thing is a Tin Ram. And it's a he.
Well, once he was able to stand under his own weight without help, he did an Irish Jig. He almost fell again. If he had fallen he would've crushed Totem. Of course he regained his balance.
"We're going to the city of Sapphire; would you like to come along?" Elle asked hopefully.
"Why are you going to Sapphire?" asked the tin ram.
"I want to get home," I said simply.
"Are you going to see the Mayor, whose wisdom is indisputable?" asked the tin ram.
"Do you think he could help?" I asked hopefully.
"It couldn't hurt to ask, Dorky," Totem said, knowing it was a long shot.
Now, we were on our way again, to the city of Sapphire. Then suddenly out of nowhere came a fireball that hit the tin rams' home. The bad part is that it went through the window. The good part though is that it hit a mirror and rebounded and hit a witch on her broom. She was laughing and then went down. As she went down she left a smoke trail to her crash site. Then we saw a giant green flame that went to the sky.
"Good riddance," said the tin ram. As he said this he smiled from ear to ear. He really does look just like a metal, mountain sheep, except he has rust spots on top of rust spots.
"Let's go," I said happy to see that the witch got what she deserved.

Chapter 5
Howard the Coward

We were on our way, yet again, down the green road. It was blue and yellow, but now the two colors have merged, to make green. We came to a forest almost like a rain forest or jungle. We all stayed close together, as if huddled. We heard all sorts of noises. Some small, some loud, some all around us, and the rest were in the trees themselves.
"Umm, Totem, are we still on the right path?" I asked trying not to sound panicked.
"I don't know Dorky, I'm too scared too look anywhere but where the sounds are coming from," Totem said through chattering teeth.
"Hey Elle, are we on the right path," the tin ram asked.
"Yeah, but it's darker than I remember. We'd better stay on our guard," she said bravely.
"You really think it's that danger-," but before I could finish my question, I got my answer. We heard a snort and then a growl.
"Oh my!" said Elle grabbing the tin ram, Jim's arm. She said in a whisper, "Do you know where that came from?"
"No," he said shivering from fright.
"We better keep going. We need to keep our eyes open and ever watchful," I said trying to be brave.
"Right," said Totem, "otherwise we might become dinner to go."
"Or an appetizer," Jim said jokingly.
"Well, I'll choke him as he swallows me," Totem said, glowing with pride.
We walked the last few yards of the forest where we saw daylight. I was going to say something, but then I saw them. I spotted two large glowing brown orbs in the forest. I stopped and stood there frozen in fear. Totem and the others wondered what was wrong. Then Totem saw them as well.
They were large and set far apart. They moved to the end of the tree line. Standing on his hind hooves, or paws, or whatever they are. Whatever this thing is it's tall with a broad body. I didn't make a sound, and it didn't make a move, it just stood there watching us in the shroud of darkness provided by the forest. As hard as I was looking, I couldn't make a shape or anything, just its huge widely set apart eyes.
"It was nice knowing you Dorky," Totem said tying a blindfold around his eyes.
"What are you doing," I asked alarmed.
"What does it look it like? I'm not interested in seeing the insides of a large animal as the last thing I see," he said sourly.
"I see," I said, understanding what he meant.
Just then I got brave enough to take another step down the road and then another and the luminous eyes just kept staring me. So I kept walking. Then suddenly I saw this huge bison come charging right at us. I screamed, Totem screamed, then the bison screamed loud enough to drown out all of us, then he ran and hid back in his hiding place. I saw the leaves shaking as the bison trembled. I stood there watching for a few moments longer, trying to process what I'd just seen. Then I started to move toward the trembling bison. I didn't want it to charge us again, so I moved very carefully. Then the strangest thing occurred. I heard him say, "Please don't hurt me. I'm sorry for running toward you. Please don't hurt me."
I just stood there a minute not believing what I'd just heard. All I could do was reply, "We're not going to hurt you."
"I can't stand when someone plays with their food," he said almost in tears.
"What are you talking about?" Totem asked while taking off his blindfold.
"Don't tease me just take the first bite. Just make sure it's the fatal bite, to end my miserable and dreary life," he said dramatically while on his knees.
"We're not going to eat you. We thought you were going to eat us," I said still trying to get a handle on the situation. As I walked toward him, I asked, "What's your name?"
"Huh, oh uh, it's Howard. Howard the cowardly bison," he remarked still hugging himself in fear. "Are you sure you're not going to eat me?"
"We promise you silly beast," Totem popped off.
"Hey, would you like to come to Sapphire with us?" I asked hopefully.
"Are you cracked," asked Totem, hissing in my ear. "Do you realize how huge he is, if he gets clumsy, there I go right to the land of my ancestors."
"But who would dare mess with him or anyone with him? Especially if they don't realize he's just a big coward?" I asked with a wink.
"Ah, good point. Seek protection under a larger mammal; simple, insane, yet ludicrously effective. Okay let's go," Totem thought aloud.
So down this road we go. I couldn't help but think what an odd group we are. I'm trying to get home, while being accompanied by a naked mole-rat wearing a uniform, a scare-cow; that doesn't have enough common sense to fill a one once measuring cup, a metallic ram that as far as I can tell has no feelings one way or the other toward anything, and finally a very large, very cowardly, bison who jumps at the sight of his own shadow, that just so happens to be playing bodyguard for the rest of us. I couldn't help but chuckle quietly to myself.
I pulled an ear of popcorn out of my backpack as we walked down the road. We walked a few miles and came upon a field of flowers. I thought it would be a nice place to take a rest. "Hey could we rest here a few minutes? You know so we can catch our breath and rest our aching feet?"
"I don't know," Totem said with a wavering voice. "It might not be safe."
"What, how can it not be safe? Just look at it, it looks so inviting, what could possibly go wrong?" I said with an air of carelessness.
Just after I said that I felt something wiz past my ear, I looked at over at Totem to see if he was alright. He was lying on my shoulder. When I picked him up I noticed an inch and a half barb sticking out of his chest. I ran down the road toward the end of the field. I looked to see if the others were alright and I noticed that they were running behind me. I heard Howard howl, and then Elle screamed, but Jim seemed to be alright. I guess that what he gets for being made of tin. I must have gotten hit, because that thought about Jim was the last I remember.

Chapter 6
The Long Road

I don't remember falling or hitting the ground, but apparently I did. When I came to I heard a soft familiar voice, "He's coming to."
"Mom… Mom is that you?" I asked still half under.
"No it's me Elle. Do you remember me?" she asked with a ton of concern.
"Oh man, what happened, how long was I out?"
"Not too long, a day or two. We were in the field of forever slumber," said Jim.
"Oh wow, those barbs pack a punch," I said, with a clearer mind.
"That they do," said Totem, as he woke up. "Aw…" he yawned.
"So who saved us?" I asked thankfully.
"I did," said Jim, "I was the only one immune to the flowers effects."
"Well thank you, we owe you one."
"Well I couldn't leave you all behind."
"Are we all rested now," I asked jokingly.
"Well, let me speak for all of us. Let's get outtalk here. Besides the sooner we leave the sooner we get to Sapphire," Totem said wearily.
Throughout this entire trip, I couldn't put my finger on it, but this road and all of its scenery seemed really familiar. It's almost as if I've been down this road before. Of course that's impossible under any circumstances. "Hey are we going in circles," I asked, feeling a little frustrated.
"No," Totem said with a puzzled look on his face. "Are you okay Dorky?"
"Yeah, I think so. It just looks so familiar, as though we were walking around in circles," I said confused.
"Have you been here before Dorky?" Elle asked.
"No, I couldn't have," I said, with an air of doubt.
"It's okay Dorky," Jim said, putting his hand on my shoulder.
"We're all in this together," said Howard with a terrifying smile.
"Thanks you guys, you're the best friends a man could have."
"You're welcome Dorky," they all in unison.
"You're a good friend too," said Totem.
"Oh so now I'm a friend," I said teasingly.
"Yes, and I'm glad, no proud, to call you my friend," Totem said with a bow indicative of the oriental culture.
"Well, what are we waiting for, let's get moving," I said, enjoying my newly found friendships. "We're on our way to Sapphire."
We were walking for what seemed like hours, when we came to a grassy field. It was exactly half an hour till nightfall. The field looked so inviting I had to ask, "Do you guys think it's safe to stop here for the night?"
"It looks safe enough," Elle said.
"But remember what happened last time we came upon a field?" Howard asked with a shudder.
"Yeah but this is grass right? I mean what's the worst that could happen?" asked Jim already heading toward the field.
"I concur," said Totem with a yawn.
"Let's pitch camp," I said with a larger yawn, "We'll continue on in the morning."
As we all slept, the Wicked Witch, twin sister of the Good Witch, pulled a devious trick on us. She cast a spell to give us all nightmares. She thought that we'd all be too tired to carry on to Sapphire, in the morning. However, just in case this plan didn't work, she had another trick up her very deep sleeves, a trick so dubious, so terrible it would ensure her revenge on all of us, for our insolent trickery at Jim's house. "They shall pay," she snickered snidely. Just then the Good Witch appeared 'POOF!' "Oh now what do you want?" asked the Wicked Witch clearly annoyed. The fact that she was annoyed meant that she was in a good mood.
"I came to warn you sister, that outsider is the hero. So you'd better be on your guard."
"Really, well if he's the hero, I'm the Good Witch," she said with a snort.

Chapter 7
The Witches' Plan

After my slumber, I awoke to what I appeared to be the next morning. I woke the others. I felt funny, like when you feel a little swimmy in the head, like you're losing your balance.
"How long did we sleep?" asked Jim?
"I'm not sure," I said while yawning. I noticed Totem sleeping on Howard's nap of chest fur. He looked so, I don't know…old somehow. When I woke him up I noticed he had a fu-man-chu moustache with the goatee to match. The field was different as well. It was overrun by tall grass and weeds. "I think we slept for more than a day guys."
"What do you mean?" asked Jim.
"I mean we slept a lot longer," I said feeling my chin.
"How long do you think we were sleeping, Dorky?" asked Howard anxiously.
"Months or years would be my guess," answered Elle, looking as if she were ninety-something in cow years.
"You, uh…feeling okay Elle?" asked Howard thoughtfully.
"Yeah I just feel old and unsteady," she said as she tried to stand up.
"Where is Sapphire again?" I asked hoping Elle remembered.
"It's to the right once we get to the road," she answered easily.
"Are you sure the road looks as decrepit as I feel," I said with uncertainty.
"I'm sure," said Elle.
"Well what are we waiting for?" asked Jim. As it is Jim didn't age a day. He only managed to rust in a few more places.
So we started our long journey down this old road again, and soon we came upon my school. "How did we just spend all that time walking, only to end up back here at my school? How did we spend all that time, just to go in circles?" I asked nearly yelling.
Elle, being the one leading us, broke down in tears, "I don't know, we were on the right road, I thought."
"Something's wrong here," said Jim "That was entirely too short of a distance to have come full circle. That road never goes in a full circle."
"That doesn't matter, because I'm looking at my school filled with colorful flying monkeys," I said, knowing full well that getting mad at this point would be useless because it isn’t anyone's fault. I just couldn't believe that after all that walking we ended up back at my school. Then I saw something. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was another upside down twister.
"I'm so sorry, Dorky. I could've sworn we were on the right path," sobbed Elle.
"I'm sorry too Elle, it's not your fault, you didn't do this," I said apologetically.
"Really, you mean it?" she asked with a twinkle in her eyes.
"I mean it Elle," I said wholeheartedly
"So maybe if we take that road back the way we came, we might find ourselves going the right way," said Jim.
The more I thought about it, the more I saw what part we all play in this world. Totem is the leader type, Jim is the voice of reason, Elle is the voice of guidance, and Howard is the guardian, as for me, that's to be determined. Apparently I'm supposed to be some sort of hero. Although I don't think I'm hero material. As we all walked down the road for a few minutes we found ourselves looking at my school again. "How's this possible?" asked Jim.
"I'm stumped," said Totem.
"I'm at a loss," said Elle.
"I, uh-oh," said Howard.
"I think I know," I said, "but just to make sure I'm going to leave this ear of corn here to mark the spot."
After I left the corn on the ground, we continued to walk. Again after only a few minutes we came back to my school, for the third time.
"I think I figured it out. We're all dreaming," I said with realization.
"What?!" everyone else asked in unison.
"Try to wake yourselves up, no wait, just wake yourselves up," I said. I saw Jim disappear, then Totem right after, and then Elle went, then Howard. I was suddenly all alone. I also found myself unable to wake up. I slapped myself really hard until it stung; I pinched myself and drew blood. I kicked a big rock and limped to a bigger rock and sat down. I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes.
"Dorky, are you alright?" I heard Elle ask.
"Yeah, how long were we out?" I asked.
"It's still night," Jim said, "We all heard you having a nightmare.

Chapter 8
Almost There

"Thank you for waking me up," I said humbly.
"We didn't wake you up; I mean we tried, but nothing we did worked. You woke up on your own," explained Elle.
"It's good to see you all. I think the witch was here after we went to sleep," I said.
"We think so too, we found this bristle. I think it's burnt from the fireball at my house," Jim said plainly.
"Alright so now it's time to ask how she knew where we are and why she doesn't want me to go home," I said with a slight Sherlock Holmes smirk.
"Totem is there something you wish to let Dorky in on?" asked Jim letting the cat out of the bag.
"Umm, no it's not time yet," he said coldly.
"Well if you won't I will," Jim said with a bit of an attitude.
"No, you mustn't tell him yet, it's not time yet," Totem pleaded.
"The sooner he knows the better off we'll be," Jim insisted.
"Let's continue to rest here and let him sleep. We'll have plenty of time to tell him everything tomorrow," Totem said insistently.
Inevitably morning came. Popcorn was the breakfast menu. I wasn't too disappointed with this, but I would've preferred a big bowl of Golden Grahams with ice cold milk and a glass of orange juice.
After I was finished with my cob, we set out. We walked all day until finally we could see a lake with bubbles.
"What's that, Jim," I asked.
"That's the Great Soda Lake," Jim said excitedly. He ran down and stuck his head in the lake and started drinking. We all followed. The soda was great. It tastes just like Coca-Cola. "Mm," he said as he raised his head out of the lake. "Yeah, that's good stuff," I said wiping my mouth. I took out my lunchbox, and opened my thermos. I filled it then drank my fill and then refilled the thermos.
"Save some for later, Dorky," Totem warned me before realizing what I'd done.
"Okay," I said without thinking. I grabbed another handful and drank it. We all started walking toward the road.
"Not to sound redundant, but what's that?" I asked.
"This is the Gummy Forest. The leaves are edible too. They're spearmint and wintergreen. The critters in the tree are gummy worms and bears," Jim said. I filled my lunchbox and backpack in a hurry as full as I could get it.
"I love this place!" I said with a pleased shout. I also filled my pockets.
"You'll never go hungry in this place," Elle mumbled around the gummies in her mouth.
I wasn't so sure about the wriggling, but it did make them more fun to eat.
Once we were done in the Gummy Forest we continued walking again. We came to a clearing on the other side of the forest and I got my first glimpse of Sapphire. It was tiny still, but soon we'll be in the city and tiny as it may look from here it looks wonderful. I can't wait to see it up close.
I could see the shiny blue towers and walls of the city. I could barely make out the bright and brilliant blue of the banners. Sapphire has a moat surrounding the city. It reminded me of an old medieval castle. From this far away I couldn't see any of the people of the town, but I couldn't wait.
I could almost smell the food, and taste the drink. I was daydreaming of the tournaments they hold there, if they hold any. Then we came to Chocolate Hill. I tried some of the soil, but it was bitter.
We finally reached the city limits. And we reached the moat. I took a drink, and it tasted like soda as well. I heard a trumpet blow as we approached. The drawbridge lowered. We went inside and it was like nothing I'd ever dreamed of. This place was a modern civilization.
The buildings were made of sapphire. There were restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, and homes of all sizes. There were people riding bikes but no cars. 'Just as well,' I thought, but this place is incredible.

Chapter 9
The Dark Secret

As we walked through this modernized castle that makes up the town of Sapphire, I wondered if this is what England would look like in the future. I quickly dismissed the silly thought, at the sight of all that's around me. The buildings are so beautiful. They're the most radiant blue I've ever seen.
I wonder how this place came to be. How did they make pure sapphire into a metropolis? "Hey where's the mayor located?" I asked curiously.
"All in due time, Dorky," said Totem.
I wasn't thinking of going home anymore. I wanted to see this place. I wondered if the mayor actually has his office in a capitol type building. "How do we pay for food here?" I asked hungrily.
"You don't. I'll go and get us something to eat," Totem said simply.
Upon Totems return he handed us all our food. "Thank you very much Totem," Elle said with a polite smile. We all thanked Totem in turn for his generosity. "You're all very welcome," Totem said graciously.
The food that Totem came back with resembled Chinese sweet and sour chicken. He also came back with grape tasting soda. It was all delicious. I had a thought of just staying here for the rest of my life. As soon as the thought showed up I dismissed it. "I've gotta get home somehow," I thought to myself. "Are you going to take me to see the mayor, Totem?" I asked him with slight incredulity, "All in due time, Dorky, all in due time."
I don't like thinking of Totem, as someone who would hide things from me. Lately though, that's exactly what I feel. How can I start to think differently if he won't tell me what he's up to? On the other hand, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Jumping to conclusions isn't the best thing for a friendship that's strained as it is.
"Are you okay Dorky?" Totem asked.
"Uh, fine," I said with a weak smile.
"I can't wait to see the mayor, I'm going to ask him for an education," Elle said with absolute excitement. Then she continued, "It's so I can learn everything I don't already know."
"That's great, an education is extremely important," I said.
"I'm going to ask him for knowledge about how to be more sensitive," Jim said, with his usual emotionless expression.
"That's equally important," I said astonished, "What are you going to ask him for Howard?"
"I'm not sure," Howard said, thoughtfully, "What do you think I should ask for?"
"How about knowledge to get rid of your fears," I asked with a heartfelt glance.
"Well I guess I could, but what if he laughs at me, I don't think I would take it well," he said with a disheartened look.
"You just have to have faith that he won't laugh at you," I said with a halfhearted smile.
"I don't have that much faith in anyone, not even you guys, no offense" Howard said with cynicism.
"It's okay, we'll ask for that, and how about a self education class?"
"That sounds great, I would love that," said Howard.
"What are you going to ask the mayor for, Totem?" I asked expecting a sarcastic answer.
"Nothing," Totem said scoffing at the silly question.
"Why not," I asked.
"Because I don't need anything," he snapped.
We continued drinking our sodas in silence. "I'm going for a walk," Totem said getting up from the table.
"Do you want someone to go with you," I asked wondering what could be wrong.
"No!" he snapped angrily, "Just stay here, I'll be back."
While Totem was out, I couldn't get the thought of him betraying me out of my head. I didn't like thinking of him betraying all of us after all that we've been through. I shook off the thought and when I came out of my reverie I saw that everyone was staring at me. "You all want me to follow, him don't you?"
So I got up and headed outside. I saw Totem walking to the end of the street and he turned left at the corner. I followed him to a nasty, dank alley. I stood by the edge of the building trying to see without being seen. I saw a hooded figure standing in front of Totem. Totem gave him something that resembled money and the figure gave him something indistinguishable back. I ran back to the restaurant to see the others. I had to be fast so Totem wouldn't know I followed him.
When I got back the others were staring at me expectantly. However before I could speak Totem came in and sat down with the rest of us. He stared at me, his eyes were unwavering. "You followed me, didn't you?" he asked clearly annoyed.
"Yes," I said plainly.
"Didn't I tell you, I didn't want you to come along with me?"
"Yes, but I'm worried about you. You've been so angry lately and I just wanted to talk to you to see if I could do something to relieve some of your tension," I said pleadingly.
"If I wanted to talk don't you think I would've said so?"
"Then why did you not do what I told you? Don't you trust me?"
"Yes we trust you, but we're worried about you," Elle said, speaking up for the first time.
"Well stop worrying about me and start worrying about Dorky," Totem said as he pointed at me.
"We are worried about him," Jim said not even glancing at me.
"Good because he's got the hardest struggle ahead of him. His struggle is even harder than mine," Totem said loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear.
It was at this time my head really started to spin with questions. All kinds of questions, what ifs, what would happen, what is happening, things like that? Then all at once I was brought to one major question, what were these guys, my friends, hiding from me? Why won't they let me in on the secret? Do they really trust me, or is it that they don't trust me?
I decided to go along with my friends to find out what was wrong. If they ditch me in this land of odd, maybe I can find my own way home. Yeah sure, it'll never happen. They are my only hope of getting home and that's the real reason why I'm sticking this out.
With this line of thinking I don't see any other option. However, these guys tend to think that I'm some kind of hero. How can I tell them that they're wrong, without letting them down? I wanted to tell the others how I felt, but I just couldn't. I guess there's a little cowardice in all of us. I'm afraid to tell them, because I don't want to see the look in their eyes when they find out that I'm not a hero. They're counting on me for so much, I've gotta do something before they find out I'm not the hero they think I am.
When we left the restaurant I had a funny feeling like I was being led to my doom. I just followed them and drank my soda, which I refilled on my way out the door. As we walked along, I noticed the others were quiet, in fact they were too quiet, and I couldn't help wondering where we were going at this point. Just like the others I just kept quiet, hoping everything would be alright.
We came to a tall building. As we entered the building Totem told us to stay in the lobby while he went upstairs to do a little bit of business. The building was cold like a bank. There wasn't any warmth to it at all. I mean that this building didn't have that decorator's touch, to bring warm and inviting feelings to it. Interior decorating did not exist in this place. I could make a fortune on this concept. Ignoring that thought, we sat in this emotionless lobby, not making any noise. As we sat and waited for Totem, I watched this little young receptionist type on this really tiny computer looking thing. She was concentrating on her work so hard, that she jumped out of her chair when the phone rang.
When she hung up the phone again she was immediately engrossed in the little screen that she was looking at. I couldn't help but wonder what was so important? What was she working on that demanded so much attention? Then her boss came out and put his hand on her shoulder and she let out the smallest squeak. It was then that I noticed Totem come out. He made a gesture with his hand that meant it was time to go.
Once we left the building, Totem's mood seemed to improve a little. Although, I still didn't want to risk saying anything. Then we came to another tall building. This one though dwarfed the other one. "Are you ready for this Dorky?" Totem asked. Here we stood in front of a set of the clearest bluest, double doors I've ever seen and he asks if I'm ready for this.
"Am I ready for what?" I ask curiously.
"Why to meet the Mayor of Sapphire of course."
"Oh, absolutely” I said excitedly.
"Okay then. We need to go to the top of this building to suite thirteen-oh-two," he said with a halfhearted smile.
The doors opened up and we all climbed inside the smallest elevator I've ever seen. I mean I wondered if we would all fit in this thing. We did, but we were all crammed in, like a cube of garbage coming out of the compactor. I managed to turn around, (which took more than a little wriggling), and I saw Sapphire, almost in its entirety. We were glad when the doors opened up. We piled out as fast and as organized as a dinghy that capsized. After we composed ourselves we saw that we were standing in front of a set of the largest double doors in Sapphire. I noticed an insignia in the doors but couldn't make it out.
At the bottom of the door a hole opened up and an eye appeared. It moved to look at all of us. Then a loud booming voice said, "Who goes there?" It was at this time that Totem stepped up and stated his name, “Totem Sun-Jai, and I bring guests.”
"What business do you have here Totem Sun-Jai?" asked the booming voice.
"I have brought the hero and friends of the hero to see his majesty the mayor."
"Well then come in hero and friends of the hero," boomed the voice.
When we got inside to see the inside of the office we noticed several oddities. For one the computer on his desk looked very different from the secretary's in the other building. The second oddity we noticed was his furniture. The furniture was normal sized, that is to say my size. I also noticed a picture on his desk that resembled my grandfather. The last thing I noticed was a picture of the mayor himself. He looked like he didn't belong here anymore than I do.
When he asked me to come forth I was very nervous. I had no idea of what lay ahead. I couldn't remember a time, (not even at school), when I was so nervous. When I started talking to him I felt like I'd known him my whole life. He asked me what I wanted, and when I answered he didn't seem at all surprised. He simply said, "I might be able to help you out with that."
"Really” I asked filled with hope once more.
"But it's going to take you going to the wicked witches castle and retrieving an artifact," he said with a bit of despair in his voice.
"Artifact, what artifact” I asked as if he'd just slapped me.
"Don't worry the journey is short. It's only a few hours walk from here to the castle. When you get there the artifact is in her living room."
"But, how do I get in?"
"There are two ways Dorky. The first is to sneak in if you can. The second way is to be captured. The latter is easier but it holds the same amount of danger," he said with a wink.
"Okay," I said with a huge sigh. I didn't like the thought of going and talking something that didn't belong to me.
"May I ask for something that might just help Dorky out in the long run?" Elle asked with a smile.
"No. Not until you come back here with that artifact," he said without smiling.
Jim put his hoof on my shoulder, "come on Dorky the sooner we leave, the sooner we get back." We walked out of the door and stood in front of the elevator in silence. When the elevator doors chimed open, we piled in for the second time. When it started down we continued to stay silent. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a few of the gummy worms I had stuck there from earlier and proceeded to eat them. As I ate them I began to feel better. By the time we reached to lobby I was smiling again. I really can't say why. Candy just has that effect on me.
We walked out into the town and I dropped to my knees and plopped my backpack in front of me. I unzipped it in a hurry and grabbed my thermos and my lunchbox filled with gummies. I filled my pockets with the gummies, took a drink of my now semi-cold soda. When I was done putting everything back, I asked Elle, "Which way to the wicked witch's castle?"
"That way," she pointed to west.
"Okay does that way lead past the Gummy Forest and the soda lake?" I asked full of hope.
"Why yes it does, would you like to stop back by there?" she asked even though she already knew the answer.
"I do," said Jim.
"As do I," said Howard.
"Well then I think those that are in favor have it” I say confidently.
"Let's begin this journey so we can look forward to the way back," I said starting to feel a little stressed out again.

Chapter 10
The Quest

We were walking for about two hours when we reached the Gummy Forest. Again I filled every nook and cranny of my backpack. Then I filled my pockets till they were overflowing. Next we came to the Great Soda Lake. I drank my fill and refilled my thermos. We rested at the lake for half an hour. Then we continued on our way to the wicked witches' castle.
"I can't wait to see what this place looks like," I thought out loud.
"I can," the others said in unison.
"I was being facetious," I said with a chuckle. The truth was I wasn't even remotely interested in seeing the place up close. If I can be a little more honest, I was terrified to see this place. I had no idea what lay ahead of me and my friends. Totem didn't come on this part of the trip. In the back of my mind I could still hear his small voice saying, "I'm not his pet and I'm not his friend. I'm his escort." Baring those words in mind I knew his part in this was over. As I let go of those thoughts I came back to reality with the others looking at me with concerned looks. They knew exactly what I was thinking about.
"Thinking about Totem again eh?" asked Jim.
"I just don't understand his secrecy," I said plainly.
"We understand your confusion Dorky, but he thought it was in your best interest to keep it to his self,” Elle muttered.
"It just his way," Howard said after being silent most of the trip.
"But why, didn't he consider me a friend?"
"He still considers you his friend, don't be so hard on yourself," Elle said with a hopeful grin.
"I hope so. I'd hate to lose him or the rest of you as friends especially now. I don't know the entire way to the castle," I said meaningfully.
"Just follow this road. It leads right up to the front drawbridge. After that it gets complicated. Her castle is an impossible labyrinth that has only a few have ever escaped," Elle explained.
"Just out of curiosity, how do you know so much about it?" I asked.
"That's why I was on that post guarding her crops," she said with a shrug.
"Oh…" I said lamely.
Then I got thinking again. All the questions came rushing back. Why was this artifact so important to the mayor? Why was Totem supposed to take me to see the mayor, only to have him send me on this stupid quest? Does he even know how to use this artifact that he wants so desperately?
"Hmm…I don't see why she'd kill us without questioning us first. Although may I ask what this artifact has to do with getting me home? Why did I even agree to go on this dumb quest to begin with? I have all these questions and not a single answer.
We walked until we could see the entire castle. We were on top of a hill. Then I saw it, it was astonishing, the castle was made out of a giant white pearl. It didn't look at all like I had expected. This can't be the evil witch's castle. The castle looked as if it was going to be easy to get into. I was thinking that the easiest and safest way to get into it would be through the front entrance. That is if we can blend in with the castles inhabitants… not likely. Well anyway, that was the thought. I was about to tell the others when out of nowhere, we were ambushed. The creatures that ambushed us were spies for the Wicked Witch. They smelled horrible, like old rotting herbs and spices.
"Well guys, so much for sneaking in," I said sheepishly.
"Just go with them Dorky, don't try to fight them, you'll only make them mad," Elle said with concern.
"Well, I thought we could sneak in guys," I said despairingly.
"Not on our lives," said Jim.
"No chance in Odd," Howard said through gritted teeth.
"So what, we just surrender to them, and hope for the best?" I asked angrily.
"Yep," Elle said wistfully, "It's the only way to get what the mayor wants without further problems."
"Okay. So for the mayor we get in and get the artifact and find a way to escape, right?"
"Right, although, it may be easier said than done," said Jim.
"Is this really our only option, or do you have a better plan that you've been afraid to tell us about?" I asked
"Hey enough chattering" said a nearly emasculated voice called out from behind us, "This is good for the witch. She'll want to know all about why you're here."
"I won't tell her anything!" I screamed.
"Oh, I think you will. I don't see that you have much choice hero!" the voice snarled.
I couldn't tell who was talking but the voice sounded familiar. I just couldn't remember where I'd heard it before. Then I remembered it was the voice of one of my classmates. It was Thomas, a serious know it all, and a more serious pain in my, well you get the idea.
Why is he helping the witch? Then it hit me, these have to be the colorful monkeys that have taken us prisoner.
"Hey Thomas is that you," I asked.
"Shut up you, who's Thomas, is there another one of you, ugly creatures hiding out there like a coward?"
"No I'm the last," I said sadly.
"Well, isn't that grand news? It'll make it that much easier for the witch to dispose of you when this is over."
For the remainder of the trek to the castle, we didn't speak. It was like the situation we were in created, a black cloud over our little group. Our captors are medium sized primates about the size of lemurs with goofy colored fur. Their wings are like hardened rubber. They creep and bounce as they walk. They have thick bushy tails.
We finally get to the drawbridge, and the sun hits it. The opalescence color is blinding. Then the clouds cover the blinding drawbridge. As we walked across the drawbridge, and came into the main courtyard, I noticed how amazingly beautiful and clean it was. It didn't resemble a wicked witches' castle at all, at least none that I'd ever heard of. Then I had a different thought, maybe this is even worse, the witch could use the beauty of her castle to trick us into thinking she's not so bad. Then I read a sign on the wall, 'no shoes or socks beyond this point.' I wondered why the witch would need a sign like this, since most of the creatures here have hooves and can't wear shoes anyway.
Then we came to another drawbridge. When the drawbridge lowered, I understood the reason for the sign. We saw monkeys like our captors, gorillas and orangutans walking around in flip flops. There was a large series of lockers for their shoes and socks, covering an entire wall of the castle. This side of the castle wasn't as clean as the other, but it was still pretty darn clean.
I would consider this castle to be a place of considerable power. The witch isn't to be underestimated. "Hey I can see the dungeon rook from here," Jim said in my ear.
"Can I run away now," asked Howard.
"No we must stick together, only then do we st Read Chapter