Well, I’ve been making plans for updating the blog once this challenge is over. And one of my decisions is to keep serializing this story, both here and on Wattpad. Hang with me though, because after this chapter we visit with a different character for a bit. It’s ok, I think you’ll like her!
Going to try updating the story on Tues, Thurs, and Sat. If I can’t keep I will cut back. We shall see!
The joyous reunion over, garbled explanations finished, and C.W. having exclaimed at least 5 times, “Come, come, we must see to that bed!” Aster accompanied them back to the Rainbow Landing Zone.
“All together now. Heave!” C.W. commanded. Sophie, Shagfry and Aster pushed together. Finally it was out of the way.
“Alright. You’re free to go.” C.W. said gruffly. “Only see you follow all the rules. Aster get them a copy of the Rule Book.”
“Yes sir!” She saluted until he walked away. Then she let out a sigh of relief.
“Boy am I glad he’s gone,” she said. “The rules are simply overwhelming!”
“What goies on here?” demanded Sophie. “This seems like such a nice peaceful place. What’s with all the ridiculous rules?”
“Oh dear,” sighed Aster. “That’s a really long story. And I have to show you the Really Big Notebook of Rules first. And I haven’t been here long enough to remember them all. But come along to my cottage and I’ll try to tell you everything. Fortunately Visiting Hours do not end until 7:30, which is Supper Hour.”
They followed her over the bridge and back to the Valley of Lost Toys. Aster waved gaily to the Twin Dolls, who still stood knee deep in the shallows of the creek.
She walked along the edge of the creek until she came to a little hut made of sticks at the very end of the valley. It was just large enough for Sophie to fit inside. She crawled in and sat on the floor, Indian-style. Shagfry squeezed in after her.
Aster heaved a large book out of the from under the bed and pushed it towards her. It was a spiral notebook, almost a foot thick and nearly as tall as Aster.
Sophie picked up the book, but soon grew cross-eyed looking at the list of rules.
For one thing they’re were written a in a very sloppy hand, like a four year old had printed them. In red crayon no less. Half the words were misspelled or missing altogether.
That could explain some of these silly rules, she thought. After all, if just one “not” were left out of a sentence it would change the meaning completely!
Finally she sighed and set down the manual.
“Aster what happened here?” she asked.
“Yes?” demanded Shagfry. “It wasn’t like this when I left here!”
He never did tell me how got in my closet, Sophie recalled. She’d ask him later.
“I don’t know how long you’ve been gone,” said Aster. “And of course, I’ve only been here a matter of months. But from what I understand, things started going wrong about eight years ago. The Ruling Family completely disappeared you see.”
“What?” cried Shagfry, bouncing on his back feet in surprise. His head clunked the rafters and a few sticks and dried leaves fell to the floor. “Queen Lallilet and King Jofrin? Gone? Baby Amaryllis disappeared? What happened?”
“Nobody knows. But it’s suspected that…Foul Play occured.” Her voice lowered ominously at the words.
Shagfry’s big green cat eyes filled with tears. His lower lip trembled. And suddenly he burst into sobs.
“It’s okay, Shagfry.” Sophie turned and patted him on the back soothingly.
“You don’t understand,” he sniffed. “Queen Lallilet…” he sniffled louder. “We grew up together.”He gave a deep shuddering sigh. “Eight years ago, you said?”
“That’s right.” Aster held out a hankie. He blew his nose honkily.
“Why, isn’t that how long you were trapped in my closet?” Sophie exclaimed.
“That’s right.” He frowned. “Perhaps the same strange magic that swept me away from the palace also…”
“Did something to the royal family?” said Aster. “Oh dear, do you think–”
“How did you get in my closet?” said Sophie.
“I don’t know,” said Shagfry. “All I know is I went to sleep by Princess Amaryllis’s crib that night, like I always did. And when I woke, I was trapped in your closet and I heard your Grandma saying that a bear would get me if I came out.”
“I would have too!” said Aster proudly, puffing out her chest. She gave a little growl.
Shagfry looked down at her. “You?” he exclaimed.
“Aster was the bear,” Sophie whispered. She nudged him. Don’t hurt Aster’s feelings.
Shagfry swallowed and looked a bit sheepish. So this was what he’d been afraid of? he seemed to be thinking. “I see,” he muttered. “I’ve been…foolish and deluded…hmm. Yes, I see.” Aloud he said. “That’s alright, Miss Aster. I think you know now, I would never have harmed Sophie.”
“Of course not,” said Aster, and they moved on to more important things. “Anyway, the royal family hasn’t been seen since that night. Perhaps they’re stuck somewhere in someone’s closet also.”
Shagfry bounded to his feet and smacked his head on the roof.
“We must find them!” he declared. “What are we standing around here for? Let’s go!” He turned but found he couldn’t. So he crouched down and began to edge backwards, squeezing out the door.
“Wait Shagfry!” Sophie crawled out after him. Aster followed him them.
“I don’t blame you.” Sophie caught up with him, panting. “But we need to find out more before we just go charging off into the unknown.”
“Besides,” said Aster mournfully. “You haven’t got a Traveling Passport. And Transportation Hours do not commence until about…oh next Saturday at 4 pm, I believe.”
“Who cares abut that!” exlaimed Shagfry. “We’ve got to find them!”
And we will,” Sophie said soothingly. “But first we need to find out more. Like where we’re going. And if anyone knows any more about it than what Aster has told us.”
The trouble was, no one else knew any more about it than Aster did.
But I, being an Astute Narrator do. And being a Good Narrator, I shall tell you.
In good time, of course.