Chapter 49: Sky Town
Read all the chapters here. Enjoy!
Previously: In Wonderland, Madnes and his group have 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). Cheshire is with Cosmic, Harrey is with the orphans, and Madnes with Alice. They now journey through their individual missions, but the Red King has his own plan to put a stop to them, sending out his knights and Wanted posters. Meanwhile, the story follows Harrey, Ash and Drisel up in the Floating Isles of the Baa people…
Ash looked up at the wood structures to either side of the town’s dirt street. Shops stood stacked up on top one another in a jumbled mess, as if put together by infant giants, and groaning with the occasional wind gust. Windmill heads topped many of the stacks, generating power he guessed.
Ash halted his sight-seeing when he realized Harrey had gone: ducking away into an alley. He looked to Thimble, and in answer she pointed to a person ahead, who was busy nailing up a poster into a street lamp. A heavily armored person, like a knight. Ash squinted and could guess that the Wanted poster had Harrey’s face on it.
“Right. Where do we find him a Baa disguise?”
Thimble gave him and Drisel a thumbs-up. “Leave it to me!”
The Baa girl returned with a bag of items and set to work on Harrey in the alley’s shaded shelter: His hair was hidden under a blue wig—the color of all male Baa’s hair, just as pink was female’s—with two spindly horns taped on, and rings of wool glued around his wrists, chest, and a tail pinned to the seat of his pants. He looked ridiculous, Ash grimaced; surely someone would notice how fake it was?
Harrey didn’t seem to mind the wild getup, and strode back out into the street to test it out. Ash held his breath as they meandered through the street’s bustle and vendor tables. But no one blinked at the older boy twice, to his surprise. They did, however, eye human Ash and Drisel with open skepticism.
They were closer to the knight now—a female, tough as iron—and her attention swerved their way for several long, heart pounding seconds. Beside him Drisel grabbed and squeezed his hand. But the knight turned back to her work at hand, and made her way to the opposite side of the street with more posters.
“She’s looking for you,” Ash whispered up at Harrey’s elbow. “One wrong move and she could figure it out.”
“Mm,” was all Harrey replied, smiling like a carefree surfer, a skip in his step—clearly enjoying being a Baa. Ash grumbled.
Once past the knight, they breathed better. Thimble stopped to spin on her heel and indicate two shops around them. “Both of those carry jewels and gems from the Floating Isles, perfect for tourists,” she said. “If that’s all you need, then I should get back to our workshop before Sister gets mad.”
“Wait!” Drisel said before she could leave. “What about an inn? A place to stay for the night?”
“Granny’s is good for that,” Thimble nodded her chin up at a sign swaying high above a stacked tower of shops. Ropes and steps led up the sides to the higher level. “Tell her I sent you, and she’ll be nicer. Now, I really should go.”
The Baa waved, and Drisel almost seemed sad, waving back. But before Thimble got far, Harrey spoke up. “Could you explain what that is?” He was staring up into the sky above the town, eyebrows knit together. Ash shifted to look up, and saw it too.
It resembled an old style airship, but the balloon portion was round and painted like a giant moon, with something like a vessel attacked underneath: all wood planks, ropes and sails. Strange gadgets and whirring things spilled out over the sides, like a cart overflowing with exotic items. The airship was lowering down to a set of docks not far from them at the center of town.
“Him?” Thimble said. “That’s the Man in Moon. He’s a barter and trader who brings all sorts of things from the lands below. Baa love buying things from other places.”
“Hmm, a trader…” Harrey scratched his chin. Ash craned his head up, wondering what he could be thinking.
“Are we searching the jewelry shops or what?” Ash asked.
“Who do you think would be most likely to carry a certain special crystal up here, and be able to keep it hidden?” said Harrey, attention fixed on the descending airship.
“Well…someone trusted by the king?”
Harrey nodded. “Yep, but it has to be someone everybody likes and who wouldn’t be suspected. Someone who can get around and knows the area well. Let me tell you, Ash.” He leaned sideways to Ash’s short height. “Nobody knows their way around better than a trader.”
For once something the older boy said made sense. Maybe Harrey wasn’t as blissfully ignorant as he appeared. He did have the mind of an inventor, afterall.
“Let’s go meet the Man in Moon!” Harrey said and trotted his way through the crowd.
“Wait up—!” Ash gripped Drisel’s hand and floundered after him.
“Did you hear the news?” Two Baa they passed were gossiping, “Another Baa has gone missing.”
“Another?” said a pink lady to an elder.
“It was a young boy this time. Such a tragedy, the family must be heartbroken.”
Ash slowed down to listen in. Thimble was already listening.
“It was that Wolf, no doubt,” the lady sounded bitter. “The mayor should be rid of him. How many more must we lose until he’s put to a stop?”
“Wolf…” Thimble murmured, and Ash turned toward her. “He was talking to us, gathering fruit…he didn’t do it!” The Baa girl suddenly shoved away, running back through the busy street.
“Thimble!” Drisel called out, but she had disappeared.
“C’mon,” Ash said. “We can’t leave Harrey alone. We’re supposed to stick together.” Drisel’s eyes watered, but her feet followed his. “Don’t forget our mission, Drisel. It has to come first before everything else.”
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