Sunday, February 28, 2016

An Odd Tale // Part the Last

Yep, we have finally come to the end of this madness. I hope you've enjoyed it. I adored writing it. My favorites parts are coming up. (Who am I kidding, all of it was my favorite part!) Oh, and here is Part the First and Part the Sequel if you want to read that.

An Odd Tale

Part the Last

Oddball scrambles up the beanstalk. He looks more human than wolf while climbing, if you want to know. He sighs and glances at me. 

I’m sitting on a beanstalk branch high, high above the earth, if you must know. I swing my legs and grin at him. “Yes?”

“This is getting ridiculous.” Oddball continues to climb.

“I think that’s rather the point.”

Oddball scrunches his nose. “I will never understand you.”

“I don’t expect many people will.”

“At least tell me if it’s almost over.”

“Nearly. Just keep climbing.”

Oddball does, his head now in the clouds. He almost climbs right over Rocky. Well, more like he almost gets kicked in the head. 

“Are we there yet?” Oddball asks. (Beastie Wolves clearly are not known for their patience.)

“I wish,” Rocky says. “I hope we’re not too late.”

“This friend of yours, why was she taken?”

“Because. . . because she’s small.” Rocky almost chokes on his words. “She’s very, very small.”

“I don’t get it,” Oddball says. 

“You don’t have to.” Rocky is thinking about how he met Skyler. A fairy without wings. The most stupid thing he ever heard of. And she told him she flies a dragon? What?! She’s far too small to be flying on dragons. But she was determined to save her said dragon, and so he decided to help, and then she was captured. And all because she was small. 

Rocky had let her down. He should’ve been big enough for it. To face off this giant for her. And okay, he did. But nobody told him the giant was working with flying wolves, and so Skyler was captured anyways.

He clambers up on hard ground. 

Oddball follows. “Solid ground floating in the clouds?” he says. “This is making less and less sense.” 

There’s a mansion not far off. It seems as if there’s statue garden surrounding it? So, giants grow statues? At the rate of this story, Oddball wouldn’t put it past me, er, the giants. 

Skyler stands again, stronger this time. “As nice as it would be to make a dramatic exit, I’m much better now, and rather bored of sitting around.”

Peril twirls her knife. “So I might agree with you on that.”

“The plan,” Skyler says, “is to get the keys. Now I can slip through the bars while. . .”

“And conduct a wind to fly you up to the key ring?” Peril says.

Skyler looks at her tiny hands. “I- I’m not sure.”

“What do you mean?” Peril gives her a startled look. “You’ve got this.”

“Well, there isn’t that much wind in here. And ever since Bolt hasn’t been around—“

“But you still have some of your powers.”

“It’s not that easy. It’s harder to focus them. To disentangle the forces of the wind from the—“

“Okay, okay.” Peril holds a hand up. “I don’t care for all the details. But can’t you at least try?”

“Fine,” she says to appease her friend. “But if it doesn’t work, would you. . .” She gestures to Peril’s knife. 

Peril sighs. “Just do what you do, Skyler.”

Skyler sprints between the dungeon bars. She stops underneath the nail in the wall from which the keys dangle. Perhaps it would be easier for her to force the keys off the nail instead of flying herself up to the keys? 

She can’t remember. 

Her heart races. She cannot remember. How can she just forget the level of difficulty each act would require?  

No, she’s got to pull it together. Think rationally. 

She has to try. The fairy closes her eyes. She feels the wind. There is no wind. Just stale, stagnant air. Skyler teases it into action. A small gust ruffles her hair. Well, that’s a start. Come now. Wake up. Don’t rot down here in the dungeon. 

She coaxes the air up. To the keys. To the keys. She hears the metal jangle together. Another good sign. Push it. She feels the force as if she herself is pushing the keys. As if her hands are on the cold key ring, her feet braced against the wall propelling her forward. 

The keys inch toward the edge of the nail. Closer, closer. She can see it. Come now. She feels her arms weakening. The small gust growing faint. No, no. Closer now. If only she were bigger, stronger.

The air sucks away, taking her breath. She falls to her knees and gasps. She hears Peril call her name with concern. She’s too weak. From staying in this dungeon. From being so far from her dragon. 

Or she’s too small.

The key ring totters half on and half off the nail head. So very close. 

She takes a deep breath and stands again. She closes her eyes and tries to summon the air back. Please return. Their task is not finished yet. But all she can think about is when she tried to show Rocky that she truly was a Fairy that Commandeth All the Winds. All she did was make a few dead leaves droop to the ground. 

She needs her dragon. All fairies do. 

Skyler turns to Peril and shakes her head. 

Peril has been chewing on her lower lip. She glances over her shoulder before aiming her knife. Skyler steps back. The knife sails through the air. It nudges the bottom end of the key ring. The ring jumps up and over the edge of the nail. It falls with a clatter that shakes the ground under Skyler’s feet. She freezes. 

Peril seems unconcerned with the tremor though. Skyler relaxes some. She was the only one who detected the vibration. 

Somehow she manages to drag the keys into Peril’s reach.

Rocky and Oddball have tiptoed through the garden and all the sleeping dogs. They’ve also found the same hole in the wall that our hero Peril found earlier. Now they step through the hole. 

They are a bit luckier than Peril. Nobody’s in the room.

“Where do we start looking?” Oddball sniffs at the cauldron.

“Oh, how about the dungeon maybe?” Rocky says.

“I’m sorry, mansions have dungeons?” He scratches behind his ear.

Rocky sighs with exasperation. “Wherever a giant lives, there’s always a dungeon.”

A humming comes from the door. Oddball stops mid-scratch. Actually it sounds more like a droning, if you want to know.

“Hide!” Oddball says. 

But the room is near empty, except for the ladder by the cauldron and a giant bear skin rug on the floor. Rocky scrambles under the rug and Oddball follows. They lie flat and hold their breath. 

The witch enters. She sings some sort of spell casting song. It’s the kind of song that witch school teaches their students to remind them of a particular spell with a lengthy list of ingredients. The witch doesn’t actually remember what the spell is for, but the tune is catchy. 

They hear the plop, plop of something being dropped into the cauldron and finally the retreating steps of the witch. 

“Well, that was unexpectedly effective,” Oddball mutters. 

“Yes.” Rocky lifts the bear’s head as he is at the front.

“Wait.” Oddball grabs his arm. “We could use this as cover.”

“Oh.” Rocky slips back under the rug. “Good thinking.”

So with the bear skin over them, the two crawl on hands and knees out the door. From room to room, the bear rug trots along. Occasionally it slams into things and you can hear words like, 

“Ouch! Would you stop pushing me from behind?!”

“I’m sorry I thought we were in a hurry, okay?” 

 “Shut up! Someone’s coming.”

At which point, the bear rug falls flat on the ground. It does appear a little lumpy. But the FTG has difficulty spotting details like that, as they are very small details to him. Besides, his eyes are often spinning round in their sockets. How he manages to read Pektiller or any of the other poets is beyond me. The point is, he passes by the rug.

A couple rooms later, the bear rug is at it again. 

“What is that thumping?”

“Oh, apologies.”

“Stop scratching! We’re in a hurry, right?”

“Ow! Do you mind informing me when you want to back up?”

“I’m sorry. Did I step on your wittle toesy?”

A snarl comes from the bear rug. 

Now the rug, er, the boys hear something. 

A small voice, “Did that rug just growl?”

A brasher voice, “Let us pass, or I’ll make sure you die this time!”

Rocky lifts the bear head. “Skyler?”

The little fairy stands beside another girl with her knife pointed menacingly at, well, at Rocky.

Skyler grins and Rocky scoops her up. “I can’t believe you’re—“ A cold blade rests against his neck.

“Hey now!” This is Peril. “You can’t just pick my friend up like that.”

Skyler leans over Rocky’s shoulder. “It’s okay. He—“

Oddball tosses the bearskin away and sneezes. He looks more Beastie Wolf than human or wolf when sneezing.  

Peril opens her mouth, grins, then frowns again. All in three seconds. (I’m telling you, she knows how to act.)

“I thought you were a Beastie Wolf? Now you’re a bear too?” she says.

“Half a bear.” Oddball shoots a glare at Rocky and stifles another sneeze. (The rug has affected his allergies.)

Skyler has shoved Peril’s blade away. 

“And who’s this simpleton?” Peril turns back to Rocky. She figures he’s okay, since Skyler seems relaxed, but she keeps the knife out just in case. 

“This is Rocky,” Skyler says. “He was going to help me find Bolt.”

“Yes,” Rocky says, “And I’m sorry they captured—“

“It wasn’t your fault,” Skyler says. 

“I know but. . . you’re so small. I just want to put you in a pocket and keep you safe.”
Oddball stares. “What in the world is wrong with you?”

“What?” Rocky frowns at him.

“You don’t ever act like that. Aaah—” Oddball half chokes on another sneeze. “You especially don’t treat Skyler like that.” He snuffles. “Just the opposite you’re—“

Something jerks his head. Oddball whirls to Peril.

She turns the bur between her fingers. “You’re always scratching at it, and it’s so annoying.” She makes a face.

Oddball rolls his eyes and hopes the narrator will stop making him sneeze.

Rocky and Skyler hug. And then they are. . . kissing. Somehow. It’s weird since Skyler is much smaller.

Oddball and Peril stand very awkwardly to the side.

“We came to save you two.” Oddball almost looks at Peril. “In case you want to know,” he says with underlying meaning that I choose to ignore.

Peril just watches him. She’s already figured where this story is going.

“But it seems,” he rubs the back of his neck, “you kind of saved yourself.” Then he murmurs with a smile, “Not much of a surprise.”

I sigh and try not to remind him of the script.

“We’re not out of the woods yet.” Peril elbows him and grins. He grins back, and the awkwardness falls away. Peril coughs loudly and turns to the other pair. “Speaking of leaving.”

“Right of course.” Rocky says. “But first we’ve got to break the curse.” He does remember what he promised Corn-what’s-his-name.

“And save Bolt.” Skyler climbs onto Rocky’s shoulder.

“How do we do that?” Oddball asks.

Rocky shrugs. “Don’t know. Maybe if we nose around a little longer we’ll figure it out.” He grins and reaches for the door.

Before his hand lands on the door knob, the door swings wide.

The wicked witch and the FTG seem almost as startled as our heroes. There’s a comic moment with everyone just staring at each other wondering what they ought to do next.

First, the FTG’s tongue grabs a fly.

Then Peril’s knife comes out. 

Oddball might involuntarily bare his teeth. 

Rocky sets Skyler on the ground. 

The wicked witch grins. “More visitors. FTG, please tell me the stars are aligned now.”

“As a matter of fact, madam Jack,” the FTG’s eyes stop rolling in his head, “they are.” He looks straight at Rocky. 

Rocky jumps away and the back wall turns to stone.

“No!” the witch shrieks. “Get the Peril! The Peril!”

The FTG now aims his. . . uh, eyes, at Peril’s feet. Well, after his tongue snags fly on the wall.

Peril hurls her knife at him. He dodges and gets Rocky instead. 

“Rocky!” This is comes all our heroes. 

Well, excluding Skyler. During the rush of feet and trying not to get trampled, she’s fallen through a hole in the floor. 

“Her feet, you bumbling fly-eater!” This is the witch.

Peril is running and weaving. The FTG aims again. Oddball tries to jump between them, trips and falls. (Beastie Wolves aren’t known to be graceful, okay?) The FTG misses and gets Oddball’s eyes. Yeah, his eyes turn to stone. 

“What happened?” Oddball says. “Why can’t I see? Ashley?!”

(Hang in there, Oddball.)

“Hey!” Peril is getting angrier by the second. (Skyler never got through to her with the whole rational thinking thing.) “What is your problem? Turning people to stone, and their eyes, and locking people in towers? Why—“

Peril’s feet are turned to stone.

“Because it’s what we do,” the wicked witch says. 

The villains rejoice at their good fortune. But soon they squabble over who gets the stone victims for whose collection. 

Meanwhile, Skyler is still down in that hole.

She’s tried climbing out, but it’s of little use. The only way out is to fly out and that’s not going to happen. There’s got to be another way. As she inspects the hole she’s fallen in, there’s a glint of something off in the corner. 

It’s a. . . horn. 

A horn? Down here in this hole under the floor? Very strange. With the dim light available, Skyler reads the words engraved on the side of it:

“With one blow, all of the killed shall be whole, all of the killers shall be stone.”

(It’s not exactly Pektiller, but it’ll have to do.) 

Yes, that makes more sense. Why would the giant want this lying out in the open? In fact, that hole up in the floorboards does seem to be horn-shaped. As if someone smashed the. . .

(This is irrelevant.)

How is Skyler going to blow a giant-sized horn? She walks around the horn. She stands inside the horn. She clenches her fists and huffs. She is thinking that the narrator is poking fun at her and short people all over the world. 

Her? Blow this horn? This is absurd! Sure, she might be the Fairy that Commandeth All the Wind, but. . . 

She steps out of the horn. Wind. Blow. All she needs is a good wind to blow through. 

But where is she supposed to find wind in a HOLE UNDER THE FLOOR?! 

Okay, fine. Fine! She gets it now. Moral of the story: little people can do big things too. Whatever. She’ll be obliging. 

Skyler closes her eyes. Feels the still air. It’s different than in the dungeon where the air was rotting. Here the air is just waiting, holding its breath. 

She pretends that it’s been waiting for her. And in a way, hasn’t it?

(She is not mentally smirking at the narrator at this moment.)

She’s done this before. Lots of times. This is what she tells herself as she whispers to the air, Let’s play chase. The air is so willing. It’s been lonesome down here. In her mind, the wind chases her in and out of the horn. 

Come on, now. Faster! Stronger! It’s got to be faster if it wants to catch her. In and out of the horn. 

But it’s not strong enough. She has done this many times, but never without Bolt. It makes her sadder to realize that Bolt is in fact nearby. He’s out in that stone garden, as a statue. 

Poor Bolt. Turned to stone. She’s got to do this. For Bolt. For her friends. 

Faster now. Come on! 

They stop playing chase. You are a strong wind, Skyler tells the air. 

It doesn’t believe her. It’s been left here under the floor. How can it be a strong wind? 

But it wants to be. 

And that’s all it needs. Just put the effort into. 

The air blows and it blows. It’s a breeze. Yes! Keep going. It can do this. Skyler’s hair whips wildly around. She hovers over the ground. 

The horn blows a long, loud blast. 

Skyler, with the air from under the floor, flies out into the open. Something weird happens. 

The whole world is awash in sparkles. Inside the mansion, outside the mansion. (Skyler thinks the sparkles overdo it, but she’s not the one writing this story.)

The garden comes to life. Her friends are no longer stone. The back wall is wood again. The sparkles finally disappear.

The witch and FTG are stone statues in the middle of an argument.

And our heroes ride to the Misfit Lands on Bolt’s back.

(Somewhere in there Peril *might* have kissed Oddball on the cheek, wherein he looked much more human than wolf. BUT I was ordered not mention this under penalty of certain and immediate writers block. Sooo I did not mention this. You didn’t hear it from me; it’s your own speculation.)

Our heroes now stand at the gate of the Misfit Lands. They ring the buzzer to ask if they’re allowed entrance. (Yes, there is a buzzer on the gate; the Master of the Misfits Lands is very classy like that.) 

He says no. 

They insist that they have pastries to trade for their passage. 

The Master of the Misfit Lands says something like, “There’s no vacancy. And there won’t be one for another, oh, maybe two years? So please kindly go away.”

Our heroes (especially those with tempers and less rational thoughts) say something like, “We traveled so far and refrained from eating ALL of the pastries so we could finally find a home! And you still won’t let us it?! We just want a home to belong to.”

There is a static-y pause on the buzzer (honest, I don’t actually know what it’s called, I just see it on TV). This pause gives our heroes hope. Any moment now, the gate shall swing open because of their rousing argument. Everything they’ve done hinges on this moment. Open gate. Would it just open!?

The gate doesn’t open, if you need me to tell you.

The Master says something to the effect of, “Oh dears, you’ve already found a home. You belong with each other.”

He doesn’t say it in those exact words of course, because that is way too blunt and rather sappy romantic (not to mention poor writing). And there’s no room for anything like that in this story

All the same, our heroes agree. (They do not in any way find this anticlimactic and slapdash.) 

So they ride off into the warming sunrise—

“Ashley, just say it, already!” Oddball is having trouble balancing on his horse. 

(Yes, I pulled the horses out of my hat. That’s where I keep them in case there’s need for a clichéd exit.)

The End

Side Notes:

1) The real Oddball Trilogy does not actually read this way. Thank God!

2) Oddball is right. Rocky does not treat Skyler like that. At all. No. Just ick. 

3) Skyler isn't actually a POV character. 

4) The wicked witch who locked Peril in a tower and who trapped Oddball in the North Enchanted Wood, is the same witch. Her name is Society. 

5) This whole thing is a war between my realistic, harsh, sarcastic editor side and my idealistic, hopeless romantic side. My latter side makes me gag and want to smother it. (Picture me growling, "Not you again!" grabbing a pillow, and lunging at a fluffy double of me.)  This piece shows the battle that ensues between these two sides every time I sit to write. An Odd Tale is more about that battle than it is about Oddball.

6) I've never used the strike-through text button before. So tell me if it irks you, otherwise you might see more of it.

7) You ought to view this picture, which is too enormous to post. But you'll love it.

Do you keep horses under your hat for dramatic exits? Okay, probably not. So do you at least talk to your characters? Are they respectfully little munchkins? Or do they argue and spread chaos?

Friday, February 26, 2016

An Odd Tale // Part the Sequel

Did you know that today is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day? Isn't that just perfect timing for the next part of An Odd Tale? 

"But who's nation?" you ask.

 Don't be meticulous. That doesn't matter. (Translation: I haven't the faintest.)

So here's the first part of An Odd Tale if you haven't read it yet. Otherwise, here's the second installment (yeah, there will be a third). 

An Odd Tale

Part the Sequel

Rocky climbs a tall tree for a better view. Grab a branch here. Swing up there. It’s nice mind-numbing actions like this that keep him from thinking too much about his fairy friend. He can’t believe the nerve of that—

No. He will be calm, not angry. Remember? Think about climbing. Then wait for that old giant Corn Stalk or whatever his name is to come by so that—

See, with the anger again? He has to be calm to get this done right. Rational. That’s what Skyler would say. Use tact, not brute force. 

Yeah, says the Fairy Who Commandeth All the Winds. Sheesh.

A sharp snarl. His head jerks to peer between the tree leaves. A snap of twigs. He can’t see anything! 


He’s caught the little giant now! Rocky climbs downward as fast he can. Most of the branches and grass hiding the huge pit are undisturbed. Funny. Corn Tall would’ve smashed through the whole covering. Still, there’s certainly something growling and thrashing down in the pit. 

Oh, great. Not another animal. 

Rocky sighs. That’s the fourth time today. How many false alarms until he gets a strike at ol’ Cornbread? He peers through the not-giant-sized hole in the pit covering. 

Rocky steps back. A Beastie Wolf? Way out here? That could only be the Northern Beastie Wolf. Isn’t he supposed to be trapped in some enchanted wood? 

Whatever. Just get him out. 

Rocky waves. “Hulloo!” 

“Get me out now!” 

Oddball is trying to climb up the muddy pit walls, if you need to know. All he can think is losing sight of those flying wolves and Peril. 

“Mind if I throw you a rope?” Rocky grins. 

“Yeah.” Oddball glares at him. “If you could hurry with that. . .” He hears himself snarl. He hadn’t meant to snarl. It’s better to be nice to this guy, if he’s actually got a rope.

“Just a moment.” Rocky disappears.

Oddball scratches absently behind his ear. Something thumps him on the head. “Hey!”
A rope. Or. . . No, it’s a bunch of beanstalks twisted together. He glances upward. What wacko is he going to meet next? 

Once above the ground, the guy’s lop-sided grin has officially gotten on Oddball’s nerves.

“Name’s Rocky.” He holds out a hand. 

“Yeah, Oddball.” He skims the sky, but there’s not a flying wolf in sight. 

“Would you at least be so kind as to help me fix the trap that you’ve ruined?” Rocky adjusts branches over the pit. 

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Oddball feigns a bow. “If there’d been a warning sign, I would’ve known better.”

“How do I catch a giant if I warn him about it?” Rocky gives him a puzzled look.

Oddball blows out a long sigh. He does help Rocky though. “Now look, did you happen to see some flying wolves with a girl come by?”

Rocky stares blankly at him. “I’m sorry, flying wolves?”

“Yes, I’m sure that’s not too much of a rarity for a story like this,” Oddball says through clenched teeth. He very pointedly does not look at me

“Hm, so the wicked witch has released you from the enchanted wood?”

“No, but someone has stolen a friend of mine.”

Rocky gives another one of those lop-sided grins. He claps a hand on Oddball’s shoulder. Rocky thinks he’s in the best of luck. 

Oddball on the other hand brushes Rocky’s hand off. He’s thinking that this has been the worst day of his life. 

“Great!” Rocky says. “She stole one of my friends too.”

Oddball sits to scratch at his bur again. “And this is great, how?”

“We can work together, duh,” Rocky says. “In fact, now we don’t have to wait for old Cornball to come out of his cabin.”

“Who is Corn-whatever and why?”

“Because we have a Beastie Wolf.” 

On the way to the giant’s house, Rocky and Oddball swap stories. 

Sort of. I mean, they are in the same story, but—

Oh, you know what I mean.

You see, Rocky’s friend Skyler, is a fairy. But she doesn’t have wings. She has a dragon. Yes, a dragon. But when you’re a Fairy that Commandeth All the Winds, who needs wings? Anyhow, these fairies can move the air on their own, but most of their power lies in their dragons. . .

It’s strange and confusing, as most fairies are. 

So there’s a giant who is quite obsessed with small things. He has frog eyes, and a frog tongue that randomly snaps out at any nearby insects. He wants Skyler for his Giant Collection of Smallish Things as she is the smallest of all the wind fairies. He also has the power to turn things into stone. He happened to turn Skyler’s dragon into stone. So Rocky and Skyler were going to rescue her dragon when some flying wolves snatched little Skyler up (she was very disoriented without her dragon). 

This is how Rocky knows that the wicked witch (who has flying wolves) and the froggish giant (who wants Skyler) are working together.

By the way, the giant’s name is

Frog-Tongued Giant, Oh His Ughness

Or FTG for short. 

It’s all very easy. Giants are so very gullible. Rocky leans against the wall and twirls the keys to the giant’s dungeon. (All giants have dungeons, even those who live in “normal” houses.) 

Corny whines behind the bars. “Make him go away! Oh make him leave, Jack!”

Rocky shakes his head. What is it with giants and calling everyone Jack? Rocky strides over to the door and raps on it. 

Oddball howls and snarls on the other side, obligingly.

Well, actually, if you look on the other side of the door, you will see him sighing and letting out a sharp howl. He bangs his fists on the door and whimpers a bit, all with a roll of his eyes. 

“So?” Rocky says. “That nasty Northern Beastie Wolf is here. I think I could persuade him to leave. Even though he’s very hungry and I’ve heard he’s particular to giants. But you’d have to help me first.”

“Yes, yes, Jack,” Cornhead said. “Just make the dog go away.” Cornhead happens be to very afraid of dogs. (Which is totally not for the convenience of this story.)

“I need to know about your cousin.”

Corn Brains blinks at him blankly. “Which one?” This is the drawback to dealing with giants. They’re all related. 

“You know. The one who’s got the tongue.” Rocky snaps his fingers. What was the name again? “He’s got the long name?”

“Frog-Tongued Giant, Oh His Ughness?” Cornish asks.

“That’s the one.” 

Corn Yellow lets out another wail, as does Oddball, thankfully. 

“Just tell me, and I can make the Beastie Wolf disappear.”

“I can’t tell Jack about Frog-Tongued Giant, Oh His Ughness.” Corn Yellow’s eyes dart from side to side. “If I do, do you know what he will do?”

“Turn you into stone?” Rocky gives his voice a bored tone. 

“Yeeeehaaaasssss!” Corn Pick wails again. A few tears drip out this time. 

Oddball goes wild on the other side of the door. (In truth though, he’s stubbed his toe.)

“Listen,” Rocky says. “If you tell me then I can defeat him. He won’t bother you anymore.”

“Really?” The giant sniffles. “You would do that?” 

“Yes.” Rocky’s voice becomes hard as iron. If it’ll save Skyler, than he’ll do it. 

The giant wrings his huge hands together for a while. “He lives up the giant beanstalk.”

“Which one?” Rocky frowns. Hopefully, not the one near the Troll Bridge. That’s at least two days away.

“Just west of here. He’s working with. . .”

“The wicked witch.” Rocky waves him off. “I know.”

The giant shivers. “All her flying wolves.”

Rocky nods. If that FTG has done anything to—


“Huh, I’m sorry?” Rocky stops twirling the keys. What was he doing again?

Thinking rationally. Right. Of course. 

“Okay.” Rocky gives the keys one more swing. “Take these and count to one hundred. Then we should be gone, got it?”

The giant gives Rocky a confused look. 

“Twenty,” Rocky says. “Count to twenty.”

The look doesn’t change.


The giant nods. “Thank you Jack.”

Peril is dropped to the ground. She quickly stands as the garden is soon filled with more winged wolves. She can’t fend them all off and she backs into. . . 

A very life-like statue of a king running in horror. The garden is filled with more life-like masonry, immortalized with terror on their faces. The garden holds a heavy, decaying kind of scent. Akin to mulch. It’s a garden of briers and thorns, moss covered logs, and time standing still. 
The dogs herd her toward a huge ruin of a mansion. Once she realizes this, Peril holds her head high and doesn’t even look at the dogs. She marches straight toward the mansion. She knows exactly who brought her here and she’s ready to have it out with that wicked witch. 

It can’t be anyone else but the Frog-Tongued Giant, Oh His Ughness who the witch has teamed up with. Not even the wicked witch can turn people to stone. 

The dogs strangely do not set foot up the porch steps as Peril pulls herself up them. (They are very tall stairs.)
What if they don’t even know she’s here yet? And since the dogs don’t seem too eager to enter the castle, she could sneak in and gain some sort of upper hand, perhaps? 

And how is she to have an upper hand on the wicked witch and the FTG with ONLY A KNIFE? She thinks some dark thoughts that make me wish I’d listened to Oddball earlier. 

She creeps along the mansion’s dilapidated wrap around porch. (Yes, mansions have porches, especially if they’re owned by a giant.) Soon she finds a huge crack in the wall. Well, huge for her. But for a giant, it’s nothing. Wearily she slips through the hole and –

“Well, well. Who is this, but dear Peril, herself?” The wicked witch snickers by a fireplace with a cauldron boiling over it. “And you thought yourself lucky you escaped me, did you?”

 Something huge and fleshy snags Peril up. The FTG opens his hand and Peril stands on his palm. The giant brings her closer to his bulging crossed eyes. 

“What do you want?” Peril puts her hands on her hips. 

“Well.” The giant’s tongue suddenly snaps out of his mouth and snags a fly. In blink, he’s swallowed it. “The witch wants you, dear Jack maiden. Though whatever for it is impossible to say. What good can you do?” 

“What does that matter?” The wicked witch hops about. “Turn her into stone, would you?” She climbs a ladder up to the roiling cauldron. It’s taller than her head. She dumps some foul-smelling herbs into it. “I already caught that fairy for you, so—“

“Oh, yes. The little it (“it” is giant speak for “fairy”) will make a beautiful addition to my collection,” the FTG says. “Don’t you think?” His eyes roll around in their sockets.

“To stone! To stone!” the witch screeches. “Turn her feet to stone, so she won’t ever get away escape again!”

“Tsk, Tsk,” the giant shakes his head. His tongue makes another flashing appearance before he continues. “Art takes time. Patience.” He holds up a finger. 

“You turn things into stone,” the witch says bluntly. 

“I must be in the frame of mind. There are preparations. You don’t just turn people into stone on a whim. The stars must be aligned!”

The witch grumbles. “Fine. Lock her up then, but you’d better do it tonight.”

“Of course, of course.” 

Peril is dumped on the ground rather ungently. A sack is dashed over her head and her hands tied before she can reach for her knife again.

The witch drags her. “I still don’t understand why you cannot just—“

“What would you know?” FTG says. “Can you turn people into stone?”

This shuts the witch up. 

A huge force pats Peril on the head. “I am sorry little Jack maiden for the discomfort. It is sad indeed that you shall be taken away. You would’ve been nice along my new it in the smallish collection.”

“Hey, she’s mine!” The witch says and tugs on Peril harder. 

The FTG mumbles something airy under his breath. Peril is pretty sure it’s Pektiller.

“And stop with the poetry!” the witch screams again. 

Finally, Peril is thrown down on the hard rocky ground. There’s a creak of hinges, slamming of metal, and their retreating argument. 

With a lot of awkward wrestling, Peril finds a way to retrieve her knife from her boot and cut her hands free.

The dungeon cell is rather gloomy. Some old, smelly straw is piled in one corner. There’s the keys on a ring on the far wall outside the cell. Worst of all, it feels like the whole cell is filled with ice cubes. And over in the corner is—

A bird cage?

She tiptoes to it and gasps. A fairy shivers violently inside it. 

“Skyler,” Peril says. “Skyler?”

The little fairy lifts her head. “P-p-peril?”

Peril forces the bird cage bars apart. She gathers up Skyler. The fairy is so cold, she’s nearly blue. 

“What happened?” Peril asks. But Skyler is too cold to answer. She may be unconscious. Peril digs in her satchel and finds some matches. She lights one and holds the flame close the little fairy. 

Another match later, the fairy’s shivering has calmed. Peril gathers some of the straw into a small pile. When she lights it, it’s like a bonfire to the fairy.

You see, Peril and Skyler know each other. In fact, they were inseparable until the wicked witch stole Peril away. 

Finally, Skyler seems to wake a little. “You got away.” She gives a weak little smile. “I was coming for you when—“ The fairy coughs.

Peril adds some more straw to the flame. 

“The FTG turned Bolt into stone.” Bolt is Skyler’s dragon.

“What?” Peril says. “But then you—“

“I know.” Skyler sits up now. “That’s how the witch’s wolves caught me.”

“How long have you been here?”

Skyler shrugs. 

“Well, we’re getting out now.” 

“What happened to your hair?”

“Oh.” Peril gives her head a shake and the red fluff bounces. It used to be excessively long. “That’s how I escaped.” Peril shrugs. “I tied one end to the bed post and lowered myself out the tower window. Once on the ground I cut it.”

Skyler stands shakily. “I think I’m okay now.”

“Well, we have until tonight.”

“Must we wait until the last minute?”

“I always did like a narrow escape.” Peril smirks and shares a pastry with Skyler.

So what do you think? See anymore fairytales in there? Have you joined Starting Sparks?