A Way Forward

Glad you could join us for the next redeeming 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: Igor Siwanowicz

In the dark of night, two of Bog’s border guards escorted Randall and Teddy to King Arnie as soon as they entered the Kingdom.

“I’m pleased to see you have your son,” the King greeted him. “Are you all right, young man?”

Teddy stared at the King’s feet and nodded while clinging to his father’s leg.

King Arnie knelt and looked into the little frog’s eyes. “If someone had taken me away from my father when I was your age, I would have been really scared. I’m sure I would have cried.”

Teddy looked at the ground and shook his head. “They would get angry if you cried and they would put you in a black room with no lights all by yourself and they would tell you you had to stay there forever because your daddy was never coming back.”

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Teddy

Glad you could join us for the next heart-pounding 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: Roberto Brenes

The activity in the hollow below became a still life for three beats of dead air. The messenger shaded his eyes and laughed.

“Randall! It’s good to see you,” he called, his voice slick as lava glass. “Come in, come in!”

Slowly, Randall picked his way down the wall, slipping on loose gravel that rattled to the ground.

“Easy there, friend, or you’ll bury us all,” the Stinger joked. “It’s been so long since we last met I was afraid some misfortune had found you.”

“I’m here now, and I want to see the General,” Randall responded as he jumped the last foot and a half releasing another trickle of rocks and landing well outside the circle of Stingers.

“Of course you do. As it happens, he’s in. Follow me.” His fellow Stingers closed in behind Randall.

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No More Running

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Photo caption: Rolf Nussbaumer

Randall winced as he sucked as much as he could from the shallow puddle. Is all the water in The Arids this brackish? To distract himself from imagining what his son might be drinking, he asked, “Didn’t the General promise to send your child home when you did what he wanted you to do?”

“Children,” Gert corrected him as they left the muddy watering hole. “He took both of our boys.”

Bernie reached for Gert’s hand before he answered. “The General never asked us to do anything. We’ve never even met him.”

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Gert and Bernie

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Photo credit: Igor Siwanowicz

The way found Randall sitting out the worst of the day’s heat in a narrow slice of shade beneath a mummified snag. As its shadow crept across the searing earth, he inched along with it, sorry he hadn’t let Girdliz take him to water before scaring him off by mentioning General Hai. Every dry swallow rasped down his throat.

Hunkered into the tightest ball he could hold himself, he jumped when a rain of debris showered onto his back.

“Hey!” he called to the two jittery creatures balanced on the tip of the snag, “Am I happy you happened by! Do you mind chatting with me for a few minutes?”

Each rotated a conical eye in his direction, but neither spoke.

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Edith

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Photo credit: Amy Marques

“Huh,” Randall grunted. He watched Gridliz’s rapid transit long after there was anything to see, then turned and picked his way across a scorching maze of cracked crust sloping upward toward a scraggly, leafless tree.

Halfway there, a gliding shadow stroked its cool fingers across his back, daring him to look skyward.

The gigantic bird flapping low and slow overhead should have turned his blood to ice. He should have frozen in mid-step and dashed for cover the moment it looked away. Instead, as it landed in the lone tree, he felt hope.

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Girdliz

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Photo credit: Chris89

Randall returned to the rock chamber where he’d first met General Hai and agreed to free Duggla the Crone from King Arnie’s jail in Bog, so the General would give his son back. An old Stinger blocked the opening and snapped his pinchers at Randall. “Whatchoo want?” he grumped.

“I’m looking for General Hai,” Randall twittered from a distance.

The Stinger arched his tail. “That lot’s gone back to The Arids.”

So to the Arids Randall trekked.

Leaving his dappled green homeland, he crossed into the dusty sunshine’s unrelenting, barren brown burn. His head ached from the glare. Each step sizzled his tender soles. Only his resolve to save his son kept him moving.

As he passed a jagged boulder, it opened its eyes.

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Julius and Miranda

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Photo credit: Tom Vezo

Late for her rendezvous in The Arids, Lady Lucy left the Freelands immediately after turning the Stinger prisoner over to Prince Elliot.

Julius and his family waited in the moonlight at the base of the tallest agave, just as they’d planned. “I was afraid you weren’t coming,” he whispered as she extended her left wing for them to climb onto her back.

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