When the Storm Breaks

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Photo credit: S.T. Ranscht

“I remember the process you’re talking about, Arnie.” With her eyes closed, Queen Lilian gazed at the pointed end of a memory that still cut into her heart. “We haven’t used it since Mother died.” She opened her eyes and willed her face to smile.

King Arnie asked, “Could we use it for Randall?”

“Of course. We’ll prepare a work area tonight, and they can bring his body in the morning.”

“Thank you, Lilian.” The King looked at his feet. “I tried to keep him safe, and I failed.”

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What Next?

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Image credit: ThinkStock / S.T. Ranscht

Beyond the torchlight outside the Bower, King Arnie, Princess Cassandra, and Knights Barry and Trevor stood beside Randall’s body.

The King bowed his head. “This never should have happened.”

His legs quivering, Barry asked, “Do ya want us ta hunt dat Assassin down, yer Greatness? We can pick up da trail where he killed Randall, can’t we Trev?”

“I’m sure we can,” Trevor agreed. “Just say the word, Sir.”

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Shooting Star Signs

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Photo credit: Quetsavia

Lying awake beneath the shimmering sky long after Darwin’s family had retreated to the shadowy corners of their web, Teddy wasn’t sure he was still glad his father had gone to the war, even just overnight. It was okay for Trevor and Barry — they were Knights, not dads. They didn’t have anybody counting on them for hugs and stories and tucking in at bedtime.

I hope Daddy didn’t think he wouldn’t be brave if he stayed home, Teddy fretted to himself. I hope he knows he’s the bravest Dad in Bog — in the whole world!

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Hero

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Photo credit: Dave Morrow

Breathing raggedly, Randall lay with his eyes closed, wrapped in waiting. King Arnie entered the Bower before Cyrus could announce him.

“Cassandra, my dear,” he whispered, “may I speak with your patient?”

A smile glimmering in her eyes, she kissed her father’s cheek. “Of course.”

Trevor stepped back, bowing, and the King took Randall’s hand.

“My friend,” he implored, “why are you here? I thought I left you safe at home with your son.”

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Promise Me

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Photo credit: Paul Starosta

The Knights lay Randall on a moss mat in the Bower.

Barry rubbed at the blood on one of his arms. “What can we do ta help?”

Wetting a bit of sponge in a small bowl of water, Cassandra cleaned blood and dirt from one of the many gashes on Randall’s chest. “Could you bring more water?” Cassandra asked. “And silk — I don’t have enough to stitch up all these wounds.”

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Casualties

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Image credit: SD Zoo/Aussietrev/wallup.net/S.T. Ranscht

Bog’s army had arrived in time to help push General Hai’s troops back across Fen’s border, at least for the night. Now, at the end of a day filled with conferences, bad news, and tough decisions, Queen Lilian heard the same remorse in King Arnie’s apology that she’d expressed to Vernon earlier.

“No one saw it coming, Arnie.” she said. “What’s important is that Bog’s army is here now, and Commander Torlex has taken the Arids’ Alliance Army across the northwestern corner of Fen to cut through the enemy.”

“Torlex is a cagey one,” King Arnie confided. “He’s hinted he has a secret attack plan that’s going to take the General by surprise, but only his army knows what it is.”

“Do you trust him?” Lilian asked.

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Not the Only One

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Photo credit: RWS

As Barry and Trevor lifted Randall between them, a screeching alarm ripped across the sky which instantly filled with the raucous cries of every Flyer within earshot. Captain Avery of the Dark of Night Aero Squadron streaked from the woods, dropping to the ground when he saw the two Knights.

“Another one?” he asked. “The Eastern Guard is dead, too. An apparent Stinger attack.”

“Randall isn’t dead,” Trevor explained, “but we don’t know where to find Fen’s Healer.”

Taking a closer look at the prostrate frog, the owl said, “Take him to Princess Cassandra. Straight west, just beyond the Hive. I’d transport him myself, but I have to see the Queen.” He swept his wings out scooping gales of air to lift himself into the sky.

“I know where she lives,” Barry said. “Let’s go.”

To be continued. . .

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

Untold Tail

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Photo credit: Electric Tree Frog Photography

Barry hopped to catch up with Trevor. “Hey, where youse goin’?”

Grinning at his best friend, Trevor kept moving, “On my way to the Field. The Lieutenant asked for a volunteer to pick up any webbing that’s left, and I heard Teddy’s dad is issuing it, so I answered the call. I thought I’d send back a little souvenir for the kid.” He held up a scorpion tail with its stinger dangling at the end.

Barry’s eyes went wide. “Youse got dat today?” Continue reading “Untold Tail”

Last Flight Out

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Photo credit: Thomas Marent

Randall’s first flight made such an impression, he decided his flight home would be his last flight ever. He’d survived all the jostling only by tying his ankles to the cargo net and hanging on for dear life. Teddy might be enchanted because Trevor can ‘fly’, he thought, but that’s just leaping with style. When I tell him about this, he’s going to know what flying is really like.

Maybe his relief to be on the ground enhanced his senses to make Fen seem soul-sustainingly green and rich with everything that made life worth living. Or maybe it really was. He understood why the General wanted it, but the world would be a less hopeful place if the winds of war contaminated Fen’s light zephyrs with the stench of death.

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Special Delivery

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Photo credit: Frans Lanting

Teddy had given up trying to fly as soon as Janesse vanished beyond the trees. “Daddy, is Prince Elliot going to the war?”

“Yes, he is.”

“Why?”

“King Arnie needs him there.”

“Is he scared?”

“Probably. At least a little.”

Darwin stopped jumping and scrunched his face in puzzlement. “He can’t be scared. My mom says everybody in the war is brave.”

“She’s right,” Randall confirmed. “But she knows wars are scary and everyone who goes is scared but they go anyway. That’s how she knows they’re brave.”

“Why would they go if they’re scared?” his son asked. “They might get hurt.”

“They might get dead, too,” Darwin said gleefully, “but everybody would know they were cowards if they didn’t go.”

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