Glad you could join us for the next definitive episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Without a wave or a formal good-bye, the Granters hopped from their mushrooms and retreated to a dim green corner, excited hissing whispers trailing behind them. Placing a hand on Elliot’s shell, Master Vladimir urged him toward a passageway in the opposite direction.
“This isn’t the way we came in,” Elliot observed.
“My knees dislike the upward stairs,” the old mantis replied. “This path slants, but it’s smooth and leads to an easier way to the dining hall.”
Puffing from the long, slow climb, Elliot emerged into the Ancient Forest, where dawn was still in hiding. Of course, he thought, I knew I smelled fresh air down there. Following Master Vlad around a sharp corner to a narrow slot of an opening, they immediately re-entered the Tower into total darkness.
“I’ll go first,” the Master said. “Count to five before you follow.”
He vanished into the black.
Elliot crept forward one grain of dirt at a time. It was loose and shifty, and then it was gone. He was sliding down a chute, slick and curving in wide swaths of speed. Burbling laughter burst against the smooth walls, bouncing around him like bubbles. He was a child, a river of joy, a flight of fancy out of control heading for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Sitting at the bottom, out of breath and giddy in an enclosed nook lit by one lantern, Master Vlad’s grin mirrored Elliot’s.
The Master put a finger to his lips. “No one knows about that entrance but us. I’d like to keep it that way, if you don’t mind — it helps maintain my mystique. Now compose yourself, my friend. Let’s give them the solemnity they expect.”
He pried a rock away from the wall, leaning it back far enough for them to pass through, then letting it go, closing the opening once again. Elliot never would have guessed it was a door.
The hall’s buzzing chatter stopped the moment the Master and Elliot entered. The High Priestess stood with the Granters on a raised deck in the center of the chamber. At her nod, Master Vladimir led Elliot up the ramp to the platform.
Addressing the gathering, the High Priestess’ dusty voice filled the room.
“The Granters have found Elliot, lately of Fen and Bog, worthy of a Name that will follow him, accompany him, and ultimately precede him in his work, for he has been chosen to represent both Kingdoms in their quest for lasting peace and cooperation among the surrounding lands.”
One Granter placed his hand on Elliot’s head. “Your heart leads you to serve, unswayed by fear, undeterred by obstacles, unerring in its pursuit of justice. Whether for honor or love, those who know you depend on your unwavering dedication. They trust your unspoken promise to persevere and persist to success or death.”
Unrolling a scroll, the second Granter read, “Henceforth, as a testament to your humble commitment to serve, you shall be known as Elliot the Faithful.”
The crowd went wild.
To be continued. . .