Authors: Steve Shilstone
The Bekka Chronicles
Wild Child Publishing.com
Culver City, California
Cover illustration by Wild Child Publishing Â© 2013 For information on the cover art, please contact Taria Reed.
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
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SPRAWLED AT REST
It began in the lengthening shadows of sunsink. In front of the edible cottage I sprawled exhausted, resting after a long day spent practicing my conjuring with any and all of the twenty-two magic rings I wore on my fingers and thumbs. My best friend from ever, shapeshifting Kar, sprawled beside me, shifted as Karro, bendo dreen Karro, with coppery hair and yellow green skin. So such I too had once been bendo dreen. Before. Before I'd been transformed from common bendo dreen hedge dweller into the new lavender witch, the new Harick. No longer Bekka of Thorns, I answered now to the name of Bekka Ja Harick. I spent my time hard at work discovering how to use and control my many untried and powerful witchly spells. So. Such. Idly we chatted, the two of us at rest, sprawled against the cottage and gazing down the hill at the tricklestream mirroring orange clouds. Idly, idly, my thoughts turned to what might send us on a new adventure. Idly, spurred by sleepy questions from Kar, my thoughts turned to the wand.
“What else did the lavender witch spill into your ear, Bek?”
“She told me that her bond ... wand ... was hidden and that she was ... was sad ... no ... glad ... yoss! ... of it, but also so such that my flowers ... powers as the newly chosen ditch ... witch ... would not be complete until I ... if I wanted to risk the danger ... until I ... until I found it. Yoss! That's it!”
“You have the twenty-two magic rings and the broom and the crystal ball of Prophesy. You are the new Harick, the Bekka Ja. You're getting more skilled every day with your spells. I never ate anything better than those spiral slide cakes you conjured. Tastier than any pie made by my Acrotwist Clowns. I can't wait to get hungry again so you can make us more of âem. You are Bekka Ja Harick, the new lavender witch of Danken Wood. Isn't that enough?”
“Yoss ... I suppose ... and yet ...”
“You want the wand.”
“For the sake of neatness only. Such.”
“It's dangerous. You know as well as I do -better! -that the Babba Ja Harick had mounds of trouble with that wand.”
“Truth. She had bubble ... trouble ... controlling it. If the three-toed bowl ... mole ... troll! ... hadn't hidden it ...”
“She would have turned herself into a patch of tar for all and good. You don't want to be a patch of tar. I don't want to be a patch of tar. I say forget about the wand and we fly to the island, bounce on the trampolines, have some pie fights and you do your witchly duty and inspect the Clock. Forget about the wand. Be satisfied with the rings. The rings! Look at âem! All magic! All yours!”
“Yoss ... yoss ... and yet ...”
“You want the wand.”
“Just to ... to look at it. Bind ... find it, look at it, and sleeve ... leave. I won't even hutch ... no ... touch! ... yoss! ... I won't even touch it. Just look at it.”
“Where do you suppose the troll might have hidden it that last and final time?”
“It's not revealed in any of the glories ... stories. We don't even know if it was the ... the ... the ...”
“Troll? Maybe it wasn't. But maybe it was.”
With darkness seeping darker, we both of us turned our heads to peer at the tumbled ruins on the other side of the clearing. Truth and fact, so such right there had been the house of the famously legendary three-toed troll, Gorge. Beneath those ruins were basements and basements -dozens of âem? -built by the troll himself. We knew from the most important Gwer drollek stories about the wand. It had been hidden in many of the basements more than a few times. But what about its final resting place? Lost in the mists of ago, not revealed in any legend or tale, Gwer drollek or other, where was the wand? Could it still be there in one or another of Gorge's basements? With so such idle speculation began our new adventure.
SEARCHING THE BASEMENTS
“We'll begin the ... the lurch ... no ... search ... yoss ...in the morning. First we'll get a full bite ... night of nest ... test ... rest! Yoss! That's it!” I suggested.
“Why rest? If you must have the wand, why wait? Let's start. Let's start now. Why rest? You've got rings! Those ruby rings. Three of âem. They banish the need for sleep, don't they? Such was so with the Babba Ja Harick in the Gwer drollek of the weather woes, wasn't it? And you can light up your hat so we can see in the dark, can't you?” said Kar, drenched with a sudden eagerness to be questing.
I glanced at the ruby rings. There they were -one, two, three in a row -on the thumb of my left hand. Pale purple thumb. Pale purple hand. Lavender lilac. Ever was I amazed to see the strange new tint of my skin. Shocked I was, time and again, when I caught sight of my hands. Pale purple, not yellow green. Not yellow green, no longer bendo dreen. Witch. Harick. Lavender lilac.
“Bek. Say something. Move. Are you frozen?” prodded Kar.
“No. We'll wait. I like to ... to ... rest. We won't use the ... the ruby ... round ... circle ... hollows,” I mumbled.
“Rings. You mean rings. All right, we'll sleep. You're the one who wants the wand. Not me,” said Kar, shrugging like we do.
I had a night of happy dreams riding the wand like a broom. I laughed out loud six times in my sleep. How do I know? Kar told me so such in the morning. She slithered across the floor and told me so such. She was shifted to glassy clear serpent with emerald green eyes and a flicking emerald green tongue. Truth, she was sort of as like one of the ricks from the Levels beyond O'Tan's Gate where we had journeyed together in our adventurous past.
“Why a rick?” I croaked with morning voice.
“Easier to slither among the ruins of the troll's basements, don't you think?” she replied.
“Yoss,” I said simply. “Let's go.”
I broke off a corner of cupboard to snack on and led the way to the troll's collapsed house. Truth, I raised my hand to press the proper ring to my lips. I had a plan. I muttered a chant. The proper ring fit snug on my left index finger and displayed a single pink diamond set on a striped gold and silver band. The chant completed, the ring buzzed my lips. I shrank, miniaturized from hat tip to the bottoms of my buckle shoes. I felt tingly dizzy at first. The dizziness faded, and I stared up into the emerald eye of the immense glassy snake, Kar.
“Shrinking ring?” she asked.
“Yoss,” I peeped in a tiny voice. “Stick out your ... lung ... no ... tongue ... Yoss. That's it.”
Kar flicked out her green emerald tongue, and I walked it like as strolling on a carpet to her mouth. I caught hold of a nostril and pulled myself up onto her head. I sat between her eyes and ordered her into the ruins. In we slid.
Here and there, everywhere, clutter and rubble. No wand.
More of the same, a few carven chairs, work of the troll. No wand.
Two tall mirrors, fallen, shattered. More carven chairs. No wand.
Baskets with tops, cupboards with drawers, one huge carven throne. No wand.
Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, etc.
Clutter, rubble. Rubble, clutter. Carven chairs, some in splinters. Pots of dust. No wand. No wand.
* * * *
Sprawled once more against the cottage in the late afternoon, we rested. Kar lounged as bendo dreen Kar, not glassy snake Kar. I slumped as Bekka Ja Harick, standard size, no longer miniaturized. Kar crunched on a shard of peanut brittle shutter. I snacked on an oat cookie shingle. The sun was sinking, and I was thinking.
“What next, Bek?” asked Kar.
“A good ... light's ... night's ... rest. The ... frond ... wand ... is not in the ... the ... basements. Gorge must have ... He must have ... The troll must have ...,” I struggled to say what I thought the giant troll must have done.
“He took it with him to Sadlar's, I bet,” offered Kar.
“Yoss! That's it! Exactly!” I exploded in agreement.
So such, following another restful night and an early morning examination of my crystal ball to reassure myself it glowed peacefully blue and not dangerously yellow, Kar and I flew off in search of the wand. Our destination was Sadlar's Garden on the southern bank of the Greenwilla River in Clover. I soared looping and cackling on my broom. Kar, shifted to green mist cloud with blue feathered wings, swerved and chased after me. It was a game we sometimes played more than often.
“Now watch!” shouted the cloud, and it shifted to Racing Dragon with gold stripes on green. “I'll be first to cross the river!”
Off Kar shot, straight on a whizzing line toward the river. I turned with a shriek and sped in her wake. My broom was truly no match for a Racing Dragon, and I knew it, but didn't care. Kar likes to be the first to do things. I don't mind. When I swooped to ride low over the Greenwilla River, she circled in lazy triumph above the shock color riot of Sadlar's Garden, which nestled below the gentle green hills of Clover. I landed on a well-swept pebble path between a beautifully fenced bed of yellow blooms and a wonderfully hedge-bordered bed of red blooms. Kar joined me, settling on the path and shifting to gray-clad, highbooted bendo dreen Kar. She knew I liked her best shifted so such. It remained a comfort for me, a reminder of our times in the boundary hedge by the W's Three when we struggled together as young misfits.
“I was first across the river, Bek,” she said.
“Yoss,” I admitted.
“Now what?” she added, shrugging our shrug.
The riot of colored blossoms spread in all directions. Well-ordered. Well-tended. Well-trimmed. Well-kept.
Sadlar's simple tool shed sprouted neatly in the midst of four sections bordered by white trellises or low trimmed green hedges.
“The tool ... head ... bed ... shed,” I managed to say.
The words had not fairly been given a chance to fade away before the tool shed door swung open, and out stepped a hutkeeper. No mistake.
Ah, Garden tender
, I thought, knowing so such of course the blooms were faithfully tended by hutkeepers. Truth, bars and bars of eons had passed since the second Sadlar and the second Chronicler Lace had left the Gardens to travel the rainbow. Hutkeepers now maintained Sadlar's Garden. So such. Yellow vest, yellow pantaloons, yellow kneesocks, yellow eyes, yellow wings, lavender lilac skin to match my own, lilac antennae and curly lime green hair, the hutkeeper smiled and nodded at us. She performed a few kneebends and stretches before advancing to meet us.
“Imagine my pleasure!” she cried. “Is it the new Harick? Can it be? Can it? Be? Imagine my pleasure. Come to visit Sadlar's Garden, have you? Take the tour? Have you? Come to? Take? The tour?”
The hutkeeper broke her questions into pieces by pausing to execute a kneebend or a wing stretch. Kar elbowed me in the ribs like she does.
“You're the Harick. Tell her,” she said.
“Imagine my pleasure. Imagine it! The new Harick! I am Comb, the hutkeeper. Would you like a break of honey to nibble on as I show you the floral wonders and relate the Sadlar tales?”
Before I could mention a word about the wand or about anything else, Comb quickly fluttered off into the tool shed and emerged moments later with two fine dripping breaks of honey comb. She strolled back to us, not flew, and handed one gleaming gold break to Kar and one to me. Clover honey is the finest. Even the wax is a dreamy chew. Kar and I chewed dreamily on the waxen honey breaks. The wand could wait. Comb, the hutkeeper, began to spill her Garden stories and lead us along the paths. Kar and I gazed on the legendary ordered glories and ate the golden goodness. We paid not the slightest heed, not the tiniest, to Comb. We knew the stories. We knew âem better than any hutkeeper. We were bendo dreen! Well, we used to be bendo dreen, tellers of tales, once upon a time. And I was the Chronicler! Me! I! Golden ivy climbed a trellis. Golden honey pooled on my tongue.
“That was when the troll took the wand to Cloud Castle City,” droned Comb.
“What?” I shouted, spewing bits of comb and honey on Kar's jacket.
“That was when the troll took the wand to Cloud Castle City.”
She droned it again!
“What? Ow!” I repeated like as a lackwit before Kar elbowed me a good one in the ribs.
“We're looking for the wand. You just gave us a clue,” said Kar.
“Imagine my pleasure!” said Comb, the hutkeeper.