Chapter 21: Confrontation
Read all the chapters here. Enjoy!
Previously: The Dragon Knight Pelur has given Madnes and his friends a ride to the nearest portal–their ticket out of Wonderland–which so happens to be near the Red King’s palace. Madnes wonders if he’ll run into the dark Prince Oz–his once childhood friend now turned enemy–but he doesn’t have long to think about it when his mentor, Cheshire, spots him. Not only has Madnes come into Wonderland without first informing Cheshire, but he’s brought with him Earthians, Alice and Harrey…
*Note: Cheshire does not know of the conflict between Oz and Madnes, which you can read about here. It was never mentioned to him, though many other characters are aware.
“What on Wonderland is going on?” Cheshire exclaimed once dragon Pelur alighted on a patch of ground near the palace, trees and dirt trembling underpaw. He eyed the gosling on Madnes’ shoulder. “Do I want to know what happened since I left? Do I want to know what Harrey and Alice are doing here in the first place?”
“Um…probably not…” Madnes fidgeted once he stood before the cat, looking away and twirling a lock of hair.
“You brought Earthians to Wonderland!” Cheshire exclaimed. “Did I not warn you our world must be kept secret?”
Madnes crossed arms. “There are humans—erm, Earthians—who know about Wonderland. You’ve said so!”
“Yes, a very select few—and then mostly by accident.” His furrowed brow relaxed, “I understand that they’re your closest friends, and it’s hard keeping secrets, but now that they’ve seen Wonderland, their lives back on Earth won’t be the same.”
“Hey, hey, no reason to argue,” Harrey suddenly interjected. “I’m glad to know! This is awesome!” His arm hooked around Madnes’ neck playfully, and goose Ugly flapped aside honking. “And this way we can support our buddy with his ‘world peacekeeping’ job.”
The cat huffed, irked but relenting.
A sound like that of steamcars crashing into each other brought their heads around: Pelur’s large claw grabbed and yanked up tree after tree, stuffing them into his munching jaws like a human would celery.
“Ah, purple dragon,” Cheshire waved pleading paws, “Please mind the palace grounds—those trees aren’t meant to be eaten.”
“It’s Pelur now, Sir Cheshire.”
“Sir Madnes gave me a proper name,” the dragon flashed a sleepy grin.
The cat gave him a raised eyebrow, and Madnes shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, now that you’re here…” Cheshire pulled out a large book from the crook of his small arm, “I did some research, as I said I would, and found—”
Cheshire found himself suddenly whisked up into arms, held against a human face and chest as Alice picked him up and hugged him.
“M-miss! Please—restrain yourself! I’m losing dignity!” He heard a snicker, and glared in Madnes’ direction. Madnes covered his mouth with a hand and pretended to whistle.
“Sorry, Sir Cheshire.” Alice stroked soft cat fur peeking out from his suit vest before reluctantly releasing him. “I can’t resist cute animals, especially ones that play dress-up.”
“I don’t play dres—! Never mind,” Cheshire briefly closed his eyes, then once more took out the book and plopped it into Madnes’ hands.
“Stop eating those trees! Oh no, look, you’ve gone and ruined the orchid patch,” the cat moaned.
“Orchids are bitter. I wondered what that taste was,” drawled Pelur.
“Stop eating them then! Those are prized orchids!”
Madnes hefted the book; it was heavy, the cover leather, etched and painted: A woman bursting from a pool of water, with flowing green hair and fairy wings, the title Tales And Mythology, no doubt of Wonderland. “And you think the answer lies here?”
Cheshire turned from berating the dragon. “More of a guess,” he admitted. “An answer to a question, though not to all of them…”
A dark speck moved across the corner of Madnes’ vision, suddenly drawing his attention up from the tabby: Flying overhead, and on its way from the palace, was a person–large black wings bearing them up into the sky. Wings like that of a crow. A jolt hit him.
The prince hadn’t spotted him yet. Now was his chance.
Madnes bolted into a run after his former best friend drifting slowly higher and higher. Gathering speed and momentum, and using just a touch of power, he caught up to him from below, and then—with one giant, knee-bursting leap—soared up into the air…hands outstretched to catch and wrap around Oz’s ankles.
The sudden grab and added extra weight caught Oz by surprise. “I’ve got a few bones to pick with you, Oz! We’re gonna have a talk—you and me!”
Oz’s eyes grew wide—a shock that someone had caught him mid-flight, and that that someone was Madnes, here in Wonderland.
“Madnes!” Cheshire screeched from the ground, waving arms in a panic, “What in blazes are you doing? That’s the prince!!”
“Fight! Fight!” Harrey chanted. “Wait a minute, Oz is a prince here?” the exuberant boy blinked. “Kick his princely hindquarters, Madnes!!!”
“Stop encouraging him!” Cheshire rounded on Harrey, but something in his words made him pause. “Oz…you’ve met him before?”
“Him and Madnes used to be besties.” Harrey shrugged palms up, “What, didn’t you know?”
Madnes battled to keep his grip on Oz’s ankles as the prince kicked, dove, and spiraled through the air. “A talk with you? As if.” Blue cape flapping in the wind, Oz snarled and reached down, grabbing one of his arms to yank it off. But Madnes was stronger than he used to be, and he clung to him in a death grip.
“I understand if you hate me, resent me,” he shouted against rushing air as they flew, “but you put Alice’s life in danger, and then Ugly Duckling’s. I can’t so easily forgive that, Oz!”
“I’m not seeking your forgiveness,” Oz’s hand morphed into crow talons, digging into his arm. Madnes bit down a yelp. “If you weren’t so pathetic and inadequate at using those powers, you would have sensed my presence and stopped me!”
He opened his mouth to shout back but nothing came out. Yes, he was inadequate; he knew that from the start, but even so… “It wasn’t my choice the power wanted me over you. Stop being a selfish crybaby about it!”
Oz’s jaw dropped. “Selfish what?” In all his life, no one had ever dared say such things! No, that wasn’t true. During his time on Earth bullies had said plenty, and it was Madnes who had chased them off—Madnes, who used to mean the world to him. “You are lower than a worm,” he growled full of hate. “Traitors deserve every pain the worlds have to offer!”
“I didn’t betray you! It wasn’t like that—”
Claws dug deeper, and the pain made Madnes’ hand jerk back involuntarily.
Oz seized the moment—taloned hands grabbing both his wrists in a grip that drew blood, and finally yanking him free of his ankles. Oz then flapped his wings into a spin—spinning and spinning Madnes around by the wrists—and then throwing with all his might.
Madnes flung away, like a ragdoll strapped to a canon ball, streaking across the sky and disappearing into the tree-lined horizon.
Ahh, Madnes! Will he be okay?! Please share with friends via social media buttons and help spread the word about #MadnesSolver! Follow the newsletter and blog for more chapters to come! 🙂
Thank you for reading, and check back next Wednesday for more Okinala Island and Wonderland adventure 😀.
© copyright 2015 E. Rawls and Rawls E. Fantasy, All Rights Reserved
This is my entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by the wonderful author Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. This week’s word was: “Orchid.” Check out the link, read other great stories there, and VOTE for your 3 favorite to win!
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