Chapter 52: Where Is Wolf?
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 as they hunt for one of the crystals. So far they’ve made a new Baa friend, Thimble, and had a run-in with the strange introvert Wolf (who people have been accusing for the disappearances of several Baa), and met the mysterious trader Man in Moon. Harrey placed robot Frobbit on the trader’s ship to secretly snoop around that night. But in the morning they woke to find Drisel missing. Ash desperately searched for her, only to find bloody prints leading to Wolf’s cave and a gang of angry Baa…
‘Gotta hurry…gotta hurry!’
Ash crossed the final rickety bridge across the sky that led onto the workshop’s island, all the way his stomach trying not to get sick. He stumbled into the odd building, panting and struggling to call out. He had to hurry, had to get their help to find Drisel before it was too late. “Thimble! Thimble?”
Wooly pink hair came out from the shop’s back door, and the Baa girl Thimble appeared around the desk. “One of the humans,” she eyed him. “What’s wrong?”
“Drisel,” he panted. “She’s missing! And—”
“Ash?” A brunette girl followed after Thimble, a sheepish guilt on her face.
Ash stared at her for a second: Drisel, here, alive, and well. Not taken, not eaten by the humanoid wolf. “Drisel!” he shouted, relief mixed with anger, and gave her a brief hug before holding her shoulders. “Why would you leave without saying anything, like that?” he almost yelled. “I thought— I thought you’d been—”
“Thought what?” said Drisel, puzzlement replacing guilt. “I was worried about Thimble. I had to see if she was okay, and I knew if I said anything you’d stop me. You don’t have to be my nanny, Ash.”
“N-nanny?” Ash stuttered, then shook his head. “Wandering out here on your own was careless, plain and simple. Even I wouldn’t do that in a strange land, like this!”
“Where’s Harrey, then?”
“That’s beside the point. Trouble’s brewing with the Baa up on that garden island.”
Beside Drisel, Baa Thimble gasped, eyes gone wide. “Where Wolf lives? Why? What happened!” she demanded, grabbing a fistful of his shirt.
He frowned, “I don’t know. But there was a trail of bloody footprints leading up to his cave-house, and Baa were swarming the place. I thought Drisel had been…”
“Killed by Wolf?” Thimble’s face clouded over. “I told you he’s not like that—he’s never been like that! Wolf wouldn’t hurt anybody.”
“Then how did blood get there?” Ash said, but Thimble was already hurrying out the door. Drisel tagged along.
Ash threw his hands up in the air and trotted after the unstoppable girls.
“If he isn’t at his house,” Drisel said as they crossed a bridge to the garden island, “then where is he? You don’t think the Baa have him already, do you?”
Thimble shook her pink wooly head. “Wolf is smart. And it sounds like they’re still looking for him.” The Baa girl veered down a narrow trail in the garden Ash hadn’t noticed there before. It brought them to a steep bridge inclining up through the clouds: to an island floating almost above their heads. “There is one place I know of: a secret place where he likes to be alone. I first met him there,” said Thimble. She climbed without fear up the steep planks, her hoof-like feet making it easy. Drisel tried to imitate her, but she and Ash had to hoist themselves up with every step while gripping the rope rails.
Wind currents battered at their left sides as they climbed with effort, until Thimble made it to the top and helped pull them onto the ledge with her. They turned to face dense trees, this small island nothing but woods. Without a word, Thimble plunged into its green, shadowy depths.
“Why does this look familiar?” Ash muttered with sarcasm. A friend plunging into unknown woods, him trying to follow after—It brought back those memories of Nagato.
“C’mon!” Drisel slapped his back before diving into the green, “This isn’t the Cursed Forest.”
Ash shook himself. She was right, it’d be fine; he had to get over that fear. He plunged in, pushing limbs and leaves aside to make room as they clawed at him. It was cool, if humid, in here, and there was a cedar flavor in the air, as he followed the crunching of Thimble’s feet.
After what felt like an hour but was probably only a minute, they came into a small clearing: A clearing sheltered under the tree canopy, with a pond, and a little waterfall trickling down into it. And there, sitting cross-legged on a stepping stone before the waterfall, was Wolf.
Even before Thimble said his name, Wolf’s ears twitched forward and his eyes opened. He looked surprised to see them, and rose to his feet slowly with trepidation. “You shouldn’t be here,” he tried to say, but Thimble hopped across the stepping stones until she stood before him and the cascading water.
“What’s happened, Wolf? Why is the town after you?”
Wolf’s gaze was hesitant, eyeing the two young humans, as if weighing how trustworthy they were. “I’m not sure,” he swallowed, “It was dawn when Baa came after me, storming into the cave. I heard them in time to get out, but…they kept shouting.” Wolf held the sides of his head. “Kept shouting about murder. Bloody prints. Another Baa gone missing. They…” his voice wavered and pupils constricted, “They’re blaming me again…blaming me for the disappearances. They’ll sentence me to death…” his throat strained. “They’ll kill me for something I didn’t do!”
Thimble hopped up to him and wrapped her small arms around him—his waist the only part she could reach. “Don’t worry, Wolf. I know you’re innocent,” she soothed. Wolf relaxed a fraction, a small tear spilling down his cheek. “We’re here to help you, Wolf. We’ll keep you safe.”
“How?” Wolf pushed away from her, though not unkindly. “I can’t get you involved in this, Thimble. You’re the only person who’s ever seen me as a person and not some trickster wolf. I don’t want you or your sister getting hurt because of me.”
The look on Thimble’s face said she wasn’t going to waver in her decision. “No, Wolf. I’m tired of everybody blaming you for bad stuff that happens! We’re going to solve this.” She grabbed hold of his hand. “Together.”
Is Wolf really innocent? Who is the Baa-napper? :() Share the story with friends and see what they think! #MadnesSolver
Subscribe to author E. E. Rawls’s e-mail list to get the inside scoop on special excerpts, books, and exclusive content!
To get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click “Follow”
© copyright 2015-2016 E. 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: “flavor.” Check out the link, read other great stories there, and VOTE for your favorite 3 to win!
(the adds are by WordPress, not me, in exchange for using this sight free.)