Honored Guests

Glad you could join us for the next official episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Mark Berkery

As the sun touched the horizon, they followed the dry staccato of an ancient cough and found the venerable leader of Freelands’ wasp community plucking dinner from a stalk of grass.

“Honored One,” Elliot called, “please forgive us for interrupting your meal. Thank you for inviting us to continue our conversation about creating an alliance between the Freelands, Bog, and Fen.”

“Elliot?” the creaky old wasp squinted at him. “Elliot! It’s good to see you and your friends, young sir. We didn’t expect you until tomorrow. Here, join me — have a bite to eat.” He held out a wiggling morsel that Barry’s tongue found almost before the invitation was extended.

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A Question of Justice

Glad you could join us for the next philosophical episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Brisbaneinsects.com

They fairly ran through the Bowls of Death meadow, but even if they had flown through it, Elliot couldn’t have shut out visions of the terror Cassandra endured there at the rebel Spike’s bidding. So why did his thoughts take an unbidden fork in the road?

My love is alive today because Arturo killed Spike. I believe with all my heart that he deserved to die — but was it justice?

Might it have been better to incarcerate him for the rest of his life? Maybe they could have put him to work repairing all the damage he’d done. Maybe it would have brought the families whose lives he’d ruined a sense of satisfaction to see him serving their needs.

Entering the Freelands, Elliot witnessed rebuilding everywhere he looked.

It wouldn’t have undone the deaths he caused, but is it really better that he isn’t here to help set things right? Families mourn, and then they have to repair Spike’s devastation.

What might Cassandra think?

But right now, he needed to speak with someone else.

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

The Naming

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Photo credit: Marc Steurbaut

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.

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The Granters

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Photo credit: Igor Siwanowicz

Someone in the dining hall closed the door behind them. Elliot wore the dark on his back like a hooded coat, pushing himself to keep his face within the sphere of lantern light. The further they descended, the closer the walls seemed to lean in until the deepest chamber beneath the Tower of Honor opened around them with the moist aroma of fungus gently touched by fresh air.

Mushroom lights sprouted from cracks in walls that gleamed like black glass, and poked their heads up randomly from loamy patches in the floor. Non-glowing fungi, taller and woodier, stood like posts and platforms scattered over harder ground. Two of those held the room’s only other occupants. Four eyes glistened in the newly golden glow.

“This is Elliot,” the First Combat Master announced. “These are the Granters — they grant many requests, but tonight they will decide if you are a worthy recipient.”

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Tower of Honor

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Photo credit: David Steinmann

The hallway they entered was taller, but narrower than the one Elliot had come in through. Familiar with mushroom glow and the winking flicker of fireflies, he couldn’t explain the lighting until he saw it close up. Do they wander? he wondered to himself, vowing not to sleep while he was here.

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The High Priestess

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Photo credit: Igor Siwanowicz

Well, he might have just killed me. Elliot caught and released a deep, calming breath. “Thank you for asking,” he said. “My name is Elliot, and my guide left me outside with instructions to go inside.”

“For what purpose?”

“I have no idea.”

“Who was your guide?”

“I don’t know her name.”

“You didn’t ask?”

“No.” This wasn’t going well.

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Delivered

Glad you could join us for the next scheduled episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Chronophontes

Elliot had followed her willingly, enchanted by her flowing stride and silent confidence. Her feathers shimmered with iridescent sparkles that bound him to her just as surely as ropes and chains. The little warning voice he’d learned to heed whispered — nothing.

Without reason, without thought, without common sense, he’d trusted her, and now, facing a massive structure of stone and wood built against a hillside of the oldest trees he’d ever seen, he had no idea where he was.

“I thought you were taking me back to the bower. Where are we? And don’t say, ‘here’!”

Her answer was to throw back her head and release a trilling note that filled the woods like wind. From the treetops all around, a whistled melody replied.

She cocked her head. “We’re in the heart of the Ancient Forest,” she said as if that explained everything.

“But what is this place? Why did you bring me here?”

Her warm laugh rippled through him. “So many questions. I’m sorry, Elliot, but I’m not the one to answer them. In fact, I have to leave you now.” He started to object, and she placed the tip of a single feather on his lips. “Go inside. You’ll be in good hands, my friend, and we may yet meet again.”

It was only as she flew beyond the tangled canopy that he realized he hadn’t even asked her name.

Shaking regret out of his head, he began his search for the entrance.

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .