Episode 2: Beyond the Fragrant Falls

gregwebb44Winglings under the Willow Tree0 Comments

Willam and his family are on the move! Follow their journey as they make their way through the mystical Fragrant Falls. (Duration: 35:32) Theme music by Kevin Macleod – Incompetech.com. Want to listen offline? Click the download icon on the player above to download this episode to your device.

Episode 2: Beyond the Fragrant Falls

 

Previously on Winglings – Willam saved his baby sister from The Dark’s Black Bees while his parents were away. When they returned, they discovered that their new daughter was to be the new Queen, born to replace the Daffodil Queen who had just passed away. They must now run away with her for fear of being caught by The Dark. And now for episode two, Beyond the Fragrant Falls.

Leaving home was much more difficult than I’d anticipated. I know I said I was desperate to leave before. Which I still was. But not under such dire circumstances. It’s one thing to go on an adventure and then return to a bubbling bowl of mum’s famous veggie stew and watch the fireflies dance in the twilight from the front porch. It’s another thing to grab nothing but your coat and flutter out the door faster than you can say pixie.  

I wonder if I’ll ever see it again,  I wondered as I peeked my head out of a rabbit hole and looked back at our glorious willow tree in the distance. Never again would I play hide and seek with my Da in the hollowed out branch attics or swing like a moss monkey from the dangling vines. No more drinking sweet PuckleBerry Juice in its shade. I swear in that moment, I could almost feel a tear drip down my cheek, just from the memories alone.

You probably think I’m just a big blubbering boob. But you have to understand fairies, you see. We’re what you humans might call ‘Home Bodies’. If we’re not out caring for the forests and gardens we’re probably inside telling stories and eating a steaming Cogbottom Roast. That’s how we are. My guess is it comes from centuries of being trained to hide from human beings. Being cooped up is the price you pay for wings I guess.

My thoughts of the Willow took me on a beautiful journey through the past. Until tiny black shadows swarmed the warmly lit windows and doorway. I covered my mouth as the buzzing darkness poured into the home. Faint sounds of dishes crashing on the floor and furniture being tossed around the room carried to my tiny ear. What have I done? I thought. I’d led them back home. Them. The Dark.

“Willam! Goodness gracious pacious, boy! Get down from that hole at once!” said Ma. She looked up at me from down below with a stern look. “Da says we need to keep moving, and he’s right. No time for fresh air. Come on.”

I climbed back down the hole and into the deep dirt tunnel. I hated the tunnels. They were always so dark and crawling with bugs of every sort. Ew! And the smell. Like a stinky Mole. Which is exactly where the tunnels came from.
“Excuse me?! You’re sittin’ on my bed!” said a filthy mole behind Ma.

“Golly!” She jumped and let the furry creature nestle in a patch of dirt next to her.  

It sniffed around with its long nose and then burrowed a bit with its pink fingers before getting comfortable. Nasty creatures moles. But it was thanks to them we were able to escape. The Mudville Moles are famous for their intricate tunnels around Emerald Creek and the whole kingdom for that matter. They were deep, winding, and long. If you didn’t pop your head out of a hole every once in awhile you’d get completely lost. Not the moles. No matter how poor their eyesight, they always seemed to know their way around. At least they had that going for them. Moon knows they aren’t well-tempered or well-mannered.

As the thought crossed my mind, the rude mole let out some gas in his sleep.

Ma scrunched her face. “All right then. Back to your father.”

Ma and I went to see Da, but he was too busy to even notice us walk in. His eyes darted back and forth between a crumpled map of the tunnels and my baby sis. Cute little bug, she was. Sleepin’ without a fairy care in the world.

“Ehem, Walter? We’re ready,” said mum, getting impatient.

“Huh? Oh, give me a minute. Last thing we need is to get stuck in here. Blast these tunnels!” He finally looked up at us. “Get your things. We’ll go in a jiff.”

I went to my room, or at least the dark mud puddle around the corner I was calling my room, and gathered my things. I picked up my pack and looked down at my foot. Why it was just the other night I’d shot a blinding bolt of lightning out of it. I still couldn’t explain it. And I didn’t dare tell Ma and Da. They had enough to worry about. If they knew that The Dark was on our tail and that they’d actually seen and almost stolen my baby sister they’d kill me and Ma’s hair would literally turn to pixie fire. Mmm Mmm, I wasn’t about to tell them a thing.

Now about that lightning, I thought as I stretched out my foot in front of me. I wonder… I pulled my knee back and kicked my leg forward. Nothin’. I kicked it again and again. Pretty soon I was kicking like a fool trying to get my foot to shoot lightning or spark or something. In the middle of this embarrassing demonstration, my Da walked around the corner.

“What in the light of the Moon is going on in here?” he asked.

I froze. “Uuuuum, just doing some exercises before our long journey. Don’t want to get any Charlie Horses.” I gave a few more aerobic kicks like a buffoon.

“Charlie what? Nevermind that. Grab your things, Will. It’s time.”

Off we went, following my Da as he buried his face in the maps and second guessing himself constantly. Ma kept little sis tightly wrapped in a blanket as to not call any attention to her occasional glow. The moles might’ve been mean and selfish, but the smell of good gossip never got past those nasty little noses of theirs.

I looked at my sis’ cute little face all wrapped up like a present. She’d be a beautiful Queen one day. Queen… Queen… Say, in all the hurry we hadn’t even given the poor fairyling a name. Ma and Da must’ve really been distracted if they couldn’t even stop to give their girl a proper title. All that really mattered was she was okay. Thanks to the Tim’s help of course.

“Garbas!” I said, stopping in my tracks.

“Watch your language, what’s gotten into you?” Ma said.

“Timothy, I forgot to tell him we’re leaving. He’ll be worried sick, Ma. I’m the only friend he’s got.”

“Out of the question,” said Da, backtracking towards us. “No one can know of our plans. No one but the Clan Counsel.”

“Is that where we’re going. To speak to the Council? What could they possibly-?”

“They must know, Will. We’ll tell them in secret of course. But for them to lose their Queen, the ultimate source of light in this Clan, and then carry on in despair is not right. At least for now they can make quiet preparations for when she’s old enough to wear the crown. The Dark will stop at nothing to destroy Fairy Royalty. They’ll do whatever it takes to smother our light and gain control over the Magical Kingdom.” Da looked at the bundle of blanket with loving eyes. “They can never know of her.”

I swallowed. Now, I really couldn’t tell them.

Before we carried on, a lurking shadow caught my eye. I turned and saw nothing. But the feeling that big curious eyes were watching close by made my skin crawl. I shrugged, nosey moles.

After what seemed like forever, we popped out of a hole right in front of the Daffodil Palace. By Light was it a welcome sight. Even in the dark of night, the giant olive tree towered over us like a wise ‘ol watchman. Stained glass windows wrapped around its trunk to the top and two blazing pixie fire torches lit the huge entry doors. Its bulging roots were heavily guarded by armed Daffodil Warriors. Their green armor clanked as they walked.

Da picked up a leaf off the ground and gave it a light blow. A tiny spark started at its stem and then carried through the veins until it burned with pixie fire. The flaming leaf floated into the night towards the palace. I could tell the sight of it startled the guards because they reached for their weapons the moment they saw it.

Knowing better, the captain had his men stand down. In one swift movement, he unsheathed his sword, pointed it out, and shot a beam of light at the leaf, turning it bright green.

“That’s the signal,” Da said. “We’re cleared to approach.”

As we fluttered up to the Palace doors, I marveled at the soldier’s shiny green armor made of hardened sap and the brass swords by their side. A few of them wore bark helmets and patrolled the grounds on lizards. The two riders stopped us at the doors with pointed spears.

“Stand down,” the Captain ordered. And they obeyed.

The square-jawed leader turned to us. “What is your business here, Winglings? Walter? Bringing your family out on a night like this. Were you not sufficiently warned of the danger? Light, the whole kingdom is-”

Before he could finish, Ma unraveled the blanket to reveal my glowing baby sister. Her light shone like dragon’s fire in the wide eyes of the Captain. His soldiers immediately dropped to their knees.

“Not here you fools! You’ll be seen!” Da scolded. He looked at the Captain. “We demand an audience with the Council.”

“Of course.” The Captain bowed his head and then opened the doors for us. As we entered, I swore I could hear the bushes behind us move and again I felt those big eyes staring at me. And yet, when I turned there was nothing there. I looked to the soldiers, but they had heard nothing. Was I losing my fairy mind? I thought.

Never before had I set wing in the Royal Council Room. Now, if you think the outside of the palace sounded grand, you should’ve seen the inside. The cathedral ceilings were nearly as tall as the tree itself. Stained glass windows filled the hollow trunk and reflected images of yellow daffodils. A thick root spiraled up the walls to the ceiling. Sitting behind this massive root table were council members.

Until then I had never met any council members. Jasper, the plump troll-like fairy, was the only one I’d ever seen and that was because he was the official council messenger. The one who spread new decrees and orders to the fairies and who told my parents that the Queen was on her deathbed.

The council members glared down at us as if we’d just interrupted their supper. At the tallest chair of the bunch sat Daff Jai Jibby, one of the Queen’s most trusted advisers. Daff is a title of respect we use for the Daffodil Councilmembers. Now that the Queen was dead, Jai had assumed command. Interesting fellow he is. Nothing like the rest of us – at least physically speaking. For one thing, his eyebrows weren’t long and pointed. His features were much more dull and rugged. His hair was dusted gray and braided down the back. His eyebrows were thick and bushy and they too were knotted into braids. Below his small frowning mouth were three thin strands of silver hair.

Like I said, I’d never met Jai before in my life. But the people said he was the most loyal of the Queen’s advisors – that once he’d taken a Goblin Arrow for her during an assassination attempt. His background was a bit hazy and the only thing people seemed to agree on was that he’d been born in a daffodil. Although even that, now that I’d seen him, was something of question. Despite his intimidating presence, I was relieved, even a little entertained, by his whispering tone when he spoke.

“Welcome Winglings,” he said with a bow. “What brings you to us at such a late hour as this?”

Ma stepped forward and held out my sister for all to see. At first she didn’t glow much. Of course she’d pick the worst time in all the kingdom not to glow. This made my parents nervous as the council members leaned over the spiraling root desk for a closer look.

“Walter, what is the meaning of this?” asked Jai.

Da stumbled over his words. “Daff Jai, council, our daughter, well, she’s the new…”

Before he could say the word, my sister glowed so bright that it turned the room to day and slammed the council back into their seats in fright.

Daff Jai uncovered his eyes. “A Queen has been chosen,” he said.

“What shall we do?!” said a Council woman in a panic. Her enormous leaf covered hair bobbed as she spoke. “Surely the Dark has discovered her by now!”

Da shook his head. “Not so, she bloomed only this very night. We come to seek your guidance.”

Immediately the council erupted into discussion. Well, more like argument. Some shouted that she be kept under watch in the palace until she came of age, primed to take the throne. Others suggested disguising her and sending her into the mole tunnels. A couple, I could swear, suggested it was all a trick, a cunning illusion set forth by The Dark to finish them while they were weak.

“Silence!” shouted Daff Jai. Actually, it was more of a harsh whisper, but everyone heard it and obeyed nonetheless. “How dare we display such disorder in front of her highness!”

The councilmembers shriveled back into their seats.

I looked down at my sweet innocent little sis. Your highness? I thought to myself. Why, she’s just wee little fairyling. A hopeless little girl, hardly worthy of such a title of power and respect.

Jai continued. “Forgive us. Recent events have us all on edge.” He sat himself down and stroked his braided brows, looking over my sister. The brows raised slightly as an idea came to him. “Yes. Yes. She must be taken to Dandelion Kingdom over the Hills of Lavender. There she will be kept and protected until we can get her kingdom in order.”

It was obvious that Jai’s fellow councilmembers agreed, for if they had not, they surely would have voiced their displeasure. Rather, they nodded in silent accord.

Da on the other hand, looked quite offput by the notion.

“You couldn’t possibly trust the Dandies with such a task as this?” My father protested.

Jai stood. “The Dandelions are among our closest allies. Fought along our side in the Clan Wars, came to our rescue during the Fairy Fires of Abandigon, and to this day our only trade partner in sharing Light when in short supply, yay in this very moment. Walter, they’re our only hope.”

“It’s daff even for Daffodils.”

“Walter!” Ma interjected.

“It is! The Dandie Kingdom is a week’s journey by wing, at least a month’s by foot.”

“And it is by foot you must go. We need you to stay as low as possible,” said Jai with finality.

Ma looked at Da who was practically huffing and puffing. “Walter, what’s gotten into you? What needs to be done needs to be done. This is our baby girl we’re talking about. I’ll walk to the stars and back for her if that’s what it’s gonna take. The Walter I know would do the same.”

Da looked at the ground and let out a deep breath, then nodded. “We’ll go.” He looked at me and Ma. “We’ll go tonight.”

Jai smiled with his eyes, but behind that smile there was concern. “When you arrive Winglings, we will have further instruction waiting for you. Good luck and good Light.”

We bowed and then headed off.

That night we set up an invisible tipi along Emerald Creek. Normally I love nights in the invisible tipi, looking out over the blanket of stars, knowing that despite our perfect view of the outside world, no one, not even a pesky fly could see into ours. This night, however, it didn’t feel right to enjoy much of anything. We’d been forced from our home and now had a dangerous journey ahead of us.

Da grabbed Light from the Fairy Fire in our tipi and started drawing powdery bright lines in the air. “Tomorrow, we’ll head through the Fragrant Falls and into the caves.”

Ma stopped bouncing my little sister. “Fragrant Falls? Walter, the Falls are East, we’re headed West.”

Da shook his head, drawing a path away from the caves and then drawing a series of tall stones. “We’re heading for the Temples of Light.”

“Did you say, Temples of Light?” I asked, checking to make sure I wasn’t hearing things. Because the Temples of Light were things of fairy legend. Myths and tall tales spun into stories that had become accepted as fact to some, and complete majestic buffoonery to others. The Temples of Light, are said to be the grounds by which the fairies started.

The land that housed the very first Clan, our ancestors. All fairies supposedly stemmed from this spot.  The Rose Clan. Ancient fairies and the original keepers of the Light. They built stone temples to store this abundance of fairy magic and wonder and it is said that simply being within their walls can protect you against any darkness. At least that’s what I’d been told.

“Are they real?” I asked.

Ma laughed. “As real as the Fairy Godmother,” she said sarcastically. “Come now, Walter, what’s the plan?”

Da didn’t look amused. “They’re compromised Elita. The whole Clan. I don’t trust a single one of ‘em.”

“Walter?”

“You saw their faces. Judging us and questioning our every move.”

“An obviously with good reason. What rubbish!”

“Did you see the empty seats? Half the council room was empty. Compromised, I tell ya. Those that remain likely under the strong impressions of The Dark.”

Ma went quiet.

Da scratched his wing. “You think it’s a coincidence the Queen is poisoned one night and the next her right hand man is so quick to take over the order. No, we’re not headed to the Dandelion Kingdom. Not the Winglings.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “Da, what if the Temples aren’t real?” I said.

“So what? If they’re not real then we’re still heading as far away from danger as possible. I’ve never heard of the Dark stretching beyond the Crackling Cliffs of the East. And if it is real, well, all the better.”

I looked at Ma to see if she was buying all of this. To my surprise, she was.

“Temples it is,” she said. “But by Pixie, Walter, if we’re banished by all Fairydom for this act we’re moving in with my sister Helga.”

Da’s eyes grew wide. “Not Helga, throw me to the Dark before her!”

They continued to joke and chat of plans while I noticed prying eyes outside our tipi. Could it be? I wondered. Could someone outside possess the ability to see through our invisible shelter? The eyes were on me. I didn’t dare look at them. They were big enough for me to feel their stare. And yet against all my will to fight it, I slowly turned to look at the bushes outside. For only a second, I was sure I saw a pair of eyes blink.

“Will!” Da interrupted.

I snapped to and looked at him.

“What’s gotten into you? Look like you seen a ghost you have. There something you want to tell us?”

I hesitated. It was only for a moment really, but the silence hung in the air for what felt like eternity. I wanted more than anything to tell them the truth – about the other night with the Black Bees. About how the Dark’s minions could be waiting outside our tipi this very second.

“I….” I started to say.

“Go on boy, spit it out,” Ma said.

“I, I need to go to the bathroom.”

Da groaned while Ma waved a hand at me. “Heavens child! Out the tipi then!”

I stepped outside and glared over at the bush, no longer feeling those eyes on me, as if they’d cowered back into the night where they belonged.

I looked up at Mother Moon. “Oh Mother Moon, I’m such a fool. What do I tell them?”

Mother Moon’s soft face appeared in the crater’s shadows and smiled.

A light breeze carried her words. “The truth Will. They must know that the Dark is upon them.”

“But if I tell them they’ll never trust me with her again.”

“If you never tell them, you won’t have parents around to trust you. For if they are not prepared, they will be taken.”

Her last words, although gentle in the breeze, cut through me with an icy chill.

That night I decided that tomorrow, I’d tell them the truth.

The next day, we journeyed for hours and hours through the tall grass and trees, trying to stay out of sight and off of the main pathways. I realized, after walking for miles, that I’d taken my wings for granted. You humans have every right to envy our wings. They’re a luxury. I’ve decided I’d rather be puny and have wings than be a giant like yourself and have clumsy legs. Now, at that point, the mole tunnels no longer extended so far, and we were left to walk on the surface.

A sudden smell of Razzleberries and Creme filled my tiny nostrils. I stopped and licked my lips. “Lunch already?” I asked.

Ma shook her head. “That’s not lunch dear. That’s the Falls. They’re just around the creek bend. Warning ya, don’t sniff too hard, ya never know what stink those waterfalls will give off next.”

Her words fell on deaf ears, of course. I sniffed so hard that my nostrils ballooned to double their size. Still they weren’t big enough to fill with all the wonderful smells that surrounded me.

First it was razzleberries, then candy drops, then fresh baked honey butter bonnets, then a sweet Sparkling Oranganilla Fruit, then Rabbit Doo Doo…Rabbit Doo Doo.

I gagged at the foul stink that I’d inhaled with all my might.

Da laughed. “She warned ya!”

My parents laughed all the way to the Falls, reenacting my abrupt shift from joyous sniffing to gagging.

The smells led us passed tall blades of grass that parted and on the other side enormous cascades greeted us.

Even as I intentionally breathed through my mouth to avoid another stinky inhale, the smells were so powerful now that they could not be avoided.

The beautiful waterfalls were wrapped in misty rainbows and splashed into emerald pools. With every roaring splash came a new scent. Everything from Holiday Cake to Rotten Belly Squid. And there to enjoy every sniff of it, were BaggerSchnazers – tiny horses with giant pig-like noses. They were regulars around the Fairy Dump Yards, and stinky swamp wastelands, basically anywhere that had a potent smell to take in. To no one’s surprise, this place was crawling with them. They lapped at the water and took deep piggy breaths of the misty air.

“Don’t get too close,” Da warned. “They might look small and harmless, but they’re touchy buggers.”

“They bite?”

“They sneeze. And trust me when I tell ya, better a bite than a sneeze with these fellas. Come on, the caves are this way.”

Before we continued Ma stopped me.

“I’d say it’s about time you took a turn with the supplies,” she said, holding up a giant pack for me to wear.

With a groan I pulled my arms through it and tied it tight on my back.

“Geez,Ma! What, did we pack in here? Half the kitchen?”

Ma smiled and then got serious. “Whatever happens to us, Will, promise you will get to the Temples.”

Happen to us? What was she talking about? Did she know something was going to happen?

Confused, I agreed to the odd request. Ma smiled and headed down the path, shushing and bouncing the wrapped up blanket in her arms. Sure my sis was only a baby, but I wish I coulda been swaddled up and carried around like that. Then I remembered she hadn’t been Fairy Potty Trained, and my jealousy stopped there.

We waded through the emerald ponds until we reached a green waterfall. When we passed through it we were in the gaping mouth of a cave. Spikes of rock jutted out of the ground and ceiling like ferocious teeth.

Ma could see the worry in my face and tried to lighten the mood. “You know what these are called?” She pointed to the spikes of rock.

I shook my head.

“The ones coming out of the ground are called stalagmites, so mighty they stretch from the earth. And the ones hanging from the ceiling, see there, dripping water? Those are called stalactites, they hold on tight for dear life so they don’t come crashing down.”

I smiled. “Who made this place?”

“Nobody made it dear. Time made these wondrous rooms. Caves are created through a process called, Speleogenesis. Try to say that fifty times fast.”

“Speleogenesis-Speleogenesis-Speleogenesis-Speleogenesis-Spilling jeans!”

“Pretty good! It’s essentially a combination of processes that involve water eroding rock, pressure, tectonic forces, and as I said, a whole bunch of time. Mix it all together and you have a cave.”

Ma always knew how to put me at ease. Whether it was with a joke or a fun fact. Besides, she knew if I was going to become one of the great caretakers of Earth one day, I better learn a thing or two about it.

Da lit a pixie torch a led the way through the dark rooms. The drips from the stalactites echoed off the slippery rock walls. Every so often we had to crouch down and squeeze through an itty bitty opening, which to a human like yourself would probably only be the size of a thick straw.

We came to a stop in a room that opened to a crystal clear pool. I marveled at its beauty, but Da held up his hand to stop me.

“Shhh, not a word,” he whispered.

We fell silent and listened.

My baby sis made a noise that sounded like it was coming from behind me instead of Ma’s arms, likely because of the strange echo in the cave. Ma shushed her gently and held the wad of blanket close.

Da looked at Ma. “Do ya feel it?”

“The eyes?” Ma whispered.

Da nodded and as he did my stomach twisted into knots. Could it be? They were feeling the eyes as well?

As the terrifying thought crossed my mind, an even more terrifying sight took its place.

Dozens of red eyes blinked open above us.

“Walter?” Ma said nervously.

“Don’t move.”

I looked up at the staring eyes and swallowed. “Bats?” I whispered.

Da shook his head in the light of the torch, “No, Lunas. Run!”

We bolted for the light at the end of the cave as the menacing creatures rained down on us. Creatures twice my size with slimy toad skin covered in boils that expanded with every breath, thin mouths with razor sharp teeth, and two fuzzy bat wings that stuck out of the back of their heads and flapped furiously towards us.

“Get herrrr!” They hissed.

Da turned and swung his torch at them, fighting them off.

One of the Lunas lunged for the bundle in Ma’s arms. Da spun and whacked it hard, sending pixie fire sparks flying. Ma kicked at two more that grabbed for my sister. They squealed and cowered back.

“Will, get to the light, now!” Ma screamed at me, her eyes burning with tears of fright.

Against my mother’s plea, I fought back against the creatures, kicking my foot out in vain.

“Come on! Come on!” I shouted, trying to shoot lighting from my toes. I knew I had it in me, somewhere. But instead of firing lighting, all I did was kick at the air, probably looking like a prancing fairy ballerina in the proces. The Lunas chuckled at me. I was no fighter and they exposed my weakness quickly. They grabbed at my legs and yanked them out from under me. And before I knew it, they had pinned me down.

Just as the Luna on top of me started to blow his toxic smoke from his mouth, a thin line of pink rope shot into view and stuck to the side of its face.

“Uh?” It grunted before the rope snapped back and flung the beast into the cave wall.

The Lunas turned to the noise, startled.

The pink rope shot back out through the darkness, slapping Lunas away from me and pulling others into the shadows. Once the last Luna was off of me, a fat creature hopped into the dancing light of Da’s torch.

“Tim?!” I shouted.

Tim stuck out his long pink tongue and with a quick whip of his head sent it whirling behind him and smacking a Luna charging from behind. The Luna took the tongue whip to the forehead and crashed flat on his back.

“Stop staring at me, ya goon! Get to the light!” He ordered.

Not wasting another minute, I jumped to my feet and flew with all the strength my wings could muster. As I did, I looked back and could see the Lunas carrying my parents off into the deepness of the caves until Da’s torch grew fainter and fainter.

“No!” I cried. I tried to turn back for them, really I did, but Tim wouldn’t let me. He pushed me harder towards the light at the end of the cave which grew brighter the faster I flew.

Finally I flew out the cave with Tim close behind. The pursuing Lunas stopped at the hole in the ground and hissed at the sun light. After some frustrated hisses and with fangs grinding, they retreated back into the dark hole.

“You hurt?” Tim asked, looking me over.

“My parents,” I cried. “They took my parents!”

“Calm down, we’ll find ‘em Will. Don’t you fret.”

My eyes struggled to adjust to the blinding sunlight around me.

“How did you find me?” I managed to ask.

“I followed you ever since you left the Willow.”

And then I remembered the big eyes watching me. They had been Tim’s all along.

“Couldn’t let me best friend and his baby sis outta my sight. Not after ya shot lightning out ya toes and ya sista glowed like freaky firefly.”

It hit me. “My sister! Tim, the Lunas got my sister!”

Tim’s eyes grew wider than they already were.

“I’ll go after them for ya. If ya want me to. I can see in the dark and them ugly Lunas ain’t got nothin’ on me.”

“You’d do that for me?”

“Eh, I might be a slimeball, but I’m still ya best fren.”

“Then go.”

With that, Tim took a deep brave breath and hopped back into the hole. I knew he’d be okay. Tim had always been able to hold his own. And he was right about his night vision. He’d have a better chance than me at finding them. I decided I’d sit there and wait for them to return. No matter how long it took. Winglings always stuck together.

Something in my bag moved.

I jumped and threw it off my back. A quiet whimper sounded from the pack as something pushed around on its inside. Could a Luna have stowed away in my pack?  I wondered as I carefully reached down to open it.

The second I lifted the flap, a beautiful pale face greeted me with a smile.

It was my sister!

Somehow she’d – But how did she? Oh garbas.

Ma had hidden her in my pack and been cooing to nothing but a wad of blankets to trick the Lunas. She’d planned it all along. I remembered the agreement. I had promised her that no matter what happened, I would continue to the Temples.

I’d been given another chance to prove myself. To protect her. And this time, I wouldn’t fail.

From the top of the hill next to the hole, I looked out over the long journey ahead of me. Forests upon forests. Sand dunes up to mountains. Volcanoes over oceans. Darks clouds over the horizon.

Determined, I picked up my sister and held her tight. I realized that we still hadn’t had the chance to give her a proper name. Something I knew my parents would not want her to be without. I looked at her bright red hair and her perfect green eyes that shimmered like precious emeralds. That was it. Emerald Wingling. Queen Emerald.

I bent down and kissed her forehead. “I’ve got you Em.”

With her tight on my back, we headed down the hill toward the forests.  

 

 

Discussion:

Discuss Will’s decision not to tell his parents about the Bees trying to steal his sister. Was that a wise choice? Why not? Explain that holding back the truth from our parents can have serious consequences. Talk about why it’s important for your child to always be open with their parents, no matter what kind of trouble they’re in. Explain that you are there to help them through any challenges they face and that they can trust you. Give them examples of scenarios that should be brought to your attention.

Activity:

There’s a whole lot more in caves than just bats. Check out this cool stuff you can also find in the deep caverns of the world!

Cave bacon (hear it sizzle):

cave bacon

 

Stalagmite:

stalagmite

 

Stalactite:

stalactite

 

Cave/Gypsum Flower:

 

Cave Column (sort of like a stalagmite and stalactite, except this guy touches both the floor and ceiling!):

cave column

 

Crystal Pool:

cave crystal pool

 

How are caves formed?

Caves are created through a process called Speleogenesis. Speleogenesis refers to the formation and development of caves. It is a process that involves chemical actions, water eroding rock, pressure, tectonic forces, etc.

Types of Caves

Limestone Caves – This is your most common cave.

limestone cave

 

Lava Caves – Also known as Lava Tubes, these caves are formed by volcanic lava flow.

lava cave

 

Sea Caves – These caverns are formed when powerful waves pound against the land, eating away at material over time.

sea cave

 

Ice Caves – Ice caves made entirely of ice are actually known as Glacier Caves. When water flows under or through a glacier it forms cavernous rooms and tunnels. “Ice Caves” is more of a general term referring to any of the above mentioned caves that preserves ice in its rooms by trapping cold air.

glacier cave

 

Sandstone Caves – Created when water and wind chip away at the sand.

sandstone cave in arizona

 

Mud Caves – Sometimes floodwaters can dig out channels which are later filled in by landslides. More floods continue to eat away at the remaining debris until they leave behind one of these beauties.

mud cave

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