Chapter 45: On The Move
Read all the chapters here. Enjoy!
Previously: In Wonderland, Madnes and his group have decided to split up in their search for the 7 crystals of the Terraforming Spell (a dangerous spell currently threatening to destroy their home on Earth, Okinala island). When Madnes and Prince Oz got their hands on the first crystal, they tried to destroy it, but its hard surface proved indestructible… That is, until Alice touched it. She did something, and the crystal split in two. But how? Why? What is she hiding? All questions aside, Madnes now has to split the group up, and begin their separate missions…
A red light flashed across the monitor screen. The Adviser stumbled over his squat legs in his hurry to see the cause: One of the seven crystals on the monitor had gone red, reading Power Connection Terminated.
“What the blazes?” he drew up the digital file. All the readings on that particular crystal had gone dead. “Not good, not good…His Majesty won’t like this.”
“It’s the work of that new Madness Solver, and his ever-meddlesome cat mentor.” The Red King steepled his fingers, observing the transportals throughout Wonderland at work via the videoscreen embedded in his desk. “But what gave the location of that specific crystal away?”
“Perhaps,” the Adviser suggested, “they were investigating the crowv village nearby, and so stumbled upon the lab?”
The king exhaled an icy breath. “And what is the probability of that?” The air chilled. “If they’ve found a way of finding the Terraforming Spell’s crystals, then I cannot sit back and do nothing—especially as it seems they’ve a way to destroy them.”
“Of course not, Your Majesty,” the Adviser agreed, hoping to stave off the king’s anger. “Shall I send word throughout Wonderland?”
“Yes, along with the best of my knights.” The king twisted his short beard between fingers.
“Pardon, Majesty, but how do you think they destroyed it?” he ventured to ask. The king’s eyes glowed and he flinched back.
“The nymph of the Madness Solver is powerful. Nothing else but it could have done this.”
“But what if…there’s more of them out there?” He trembled. “I know you fought them to near extinction, long ago, but…what if one escaped? What if there’s another nymph on the loose?”
The king stood, chair screeching back and red robe rippling. “You think I would be so careless as to let that happen?”
The Adviser stumbled back. “N-no, Your Majesty. Certainly not. Forgive my stupidity. I shall go send the order for Madnes Hatter and his companions arrest.” He used the quick excuse to leave, stumbling over feet too large for his body.
“Dead or alive,” the king’s voice followed. “I want them.”
Madnes kept a hand firm over his hat, fighting wind determined to rip it off as dragon Pelur carried them across Wonderland’s landscape. Oz had stayed behind, his duty to his people—to other crowv villages in danger—winning out. But not before he said he’d be back, in what almost sounded like a threat. Madnes had to promise again and again that if they found the crowv woman inside one of the crystals, they wouldn’t destroy it until Oz was there.
‘How do I get myself in these situations? Seriously, there’s no one normal and trusting in my life,’ he lamented. None except for Alice. She’d always been stable, trustworthy, the person he could talk to…although recent matters were putting that bond to the test.
“This is an absurd plan, Madnes!” For the fifth time Cheshire growled around his whiskers since Madnes had announced the group’s split-up teams. “Me, form a team with that—that—wannabe cowboy?” he darted a glare over at Cosmic Hunter.
“Bounty hunter, cat. Get it straight,” Cosmic grunted without looking.
“Don’t call me cat!” Cheshire hissed. “Madnes, I should be with you, your team. I’m your mentor. You’ll need me!”
Madnes covered his ears; too much bickering. “I’ve made it on my own for some time now,” he assured Cheshire, once again. “But that isn’t the reason why,” he explained again. “You and Uncle Cosmic are taking on the most dangerous mission in this quest. Your assigned crystal is in the most difficult place. You’ll need each other to do this; you’re both the toughest of the group. Unless…you want Harrey or Alice to—”
“No, no, stop it. You know I’d never allow that,” Cheshire huffed. “Your reasoning makes sense, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Pelur rumbled, the scales beneath their seats shaking, and Cosmic craned his neck over the dragon’s side and grinned. “Our stop is here, he says! Do we need our tickets stamped?” he joked. Pelur’s giant eyes stared blankly, not getting it.
Madnes observed rows of smoking mountains and charred terrain far below them, orange rivers of what could be lava. “Lovely place to hide a crystal…”
“Sure is!” Cosmic positioned himself near the dragon’s right wing. “Ready to go, feline?”
“Once we land,” Cheshire folded furry arms. “Why? What are you think—”
Cosmic snatched up Cheshire with one arm and dove off the dragon. Madnes could only watch, wide-eyed, as they plummeted—Cheshire screeching like a banshee, claws digging in the man.
Sweatdrops beaded Madnes’s forehead, until something like a parachute bubbled out, slowing them. “Good luck…” he breathed; he doubted they could hear him.
Dragon Pelur didn’t waste time hanging around, instead veering toward their next drop-off location.
“Wow, uh, just so you know, I don’t have a cool parachute with me,” commented Harrey.
“You won’t need one,” rumbled Pelur. In twenty minutes they were already at their next stop. And the scenery had all of them wonder-struck, as they rose into a sky of floating islands. Like something from a fantasy. A network of bridges webbing and connecting an airborne world.
Pelur held up his huge paw for Harrey and young Ash and Drisel to climb on, then he lowered them to the nearest boyant green island. They hopped off to the grass, and waved back.
“Be careful, Harrey. I mean it!” Madnes shouted after them as Pelur carried him and Alice back down under the clouds. “Keep those kids in your sight at all times!”
Once they’d lowered to Wonderland mainland, Alice darted a smirk. “Of all people, you left them with Harrey?”
“Eh, he wasn’t the ideal choice, I know,” Madnes sighed. “But I think they need a break from us, and a chance to explore a little. The floating islands seemed like a safer place, and rather cool. I’m kind of jealous we couldn’t take that mission.”
“Saving the tough ones for us, hm?”
“I hope we’re not biting off more than we can chew…” Wind battered his hat as the dragon dove.
The group has split up! Will this be a good thing or a bad thing? Why don’t Cosmic and Cheshire get along?
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