Flying Janesse

Glad you could join us for the next entrancing 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: Congok

Spending his last few minutes in Bog reviewing the responsibilities his deputy would shoulder, Elliot was confident nothing would suffer under Randall’s watchful eye.

“Do you have someone in mind to send with the shipment, sir?” the frog asked.

“No, I’ll leave that to you.”

Their faces a matched set of solemnity, Darwin and Teddy marched in step up the path.

“Halt!” Teddy cried. “Knight Trevor reporting with news, sir.”

“Hey,” Darwin objected, “you were Trevor last time. It’s my turn!”

“All right, but he’s my daddy, so I still get to say the news.”

“Okay,” Darwin agreed leaping with all eight legs splayed, over a knee-high rock in his best imitation of an airborne frog.

“What’s your news, Master Knight?” Randall asked.

Brow furrowed in concentration, Teddy saluted. “The Prince’s Flyer is here, sir!”

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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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Delivered

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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 . . .

Barry

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Photo credit: Lars Van De Goor

“Hey, I’m Barry. Good ta make yer acquaintance. When I heard youse callin’, I was on my way ta da Floor — it’s gonna be a hot time down dere tonight. Looks like youse are stuck in a nesty situation.” He paused as though he were waiting for some kind of appreciative response.

The flames below flared as they struck the tree next door. Ash and glowing cinders swirled around them.

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Frantic Food

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Photo credit: Mike Shaw

“Wait! Wait!” Elliot screamed.

The bird belonging to the beak above him jerked back in alarm. “What?! What?!”

“Please,” Elliot begged, “please let me go! Surely you can’t have rescued me from that spinning siren just to eat me? Please! I implore you, have mercy!”

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