Chapter 54: Baa-napper Strikes Again
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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. Thimble is their new Baa friend, the only Baa who cares about the strange introvert Wolf (who people have been accusing for the disappearances of several Baa), But trouble is brewing as another Baa is missing, and the townspeople are now seeking to accuse Wolf. Wolf must stay in hiding for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. But who then is the real culprit of these crimes? And what of Man in Moon, the mysterious trader? Why has his moonship suddenly disappeared?
Their “moonship hunting” late into the evening was unsuccessful. The moonship had either left the sky isles, or hidden itself very well indeed. Forced to give up for now, Harrey’s crew went back to the rickety inn for the night.
As morning approached, Drisel was already up and set to go and meet Thimble at the workshop, much to Ash’s annoyance. Did they always have to be in a rush every morning?
“You’re eating breakfast?” Drisel heaved an exasperated sigh as she hopped from foot to foot. “You guys take forever! Sheesh, I’m not gonna hang around waiting for you two. See you at the shop!”
“Drisel, don’t—” But she was already out the inn. Ash grumbled. “Don’t go off alone again,” he finished, and stuffed a breadroll in his mouth. He rose to follow after her, when Harrey’s hand caught his sleeve.
“Mm-mm, you wai heewa. Wai fo me. No wunning off again,” Harrey mouthed around an egg.
Ash shrugged away and crossed his arms. “Fine, I’ll wait. But hurry up!”
Harrey gulped down a glass of strange fruit juice, then sighed, satisfied. “That hits the spot! Okay. Now let’s go meet up with those cute Baa gals!”
Meeting up didn’t quite happen as expected: Just before they reached the workshop’s island, Drisel came running towards them, with older Baa sister Thelma on her tail.
Ash could see the frightened creases on her face before she skid to a halt. “What’s wrong—?”
“Thimble is gone!” Drisel shouted. Her fists trembled before her, and tears welled the corners of her wide eyes.
“Gone?” Ash repeated. He tried to calm his pulse, and reasoned: “She’s probably with Wolf again.”
“No!” Drisel shook her head emphatically.
The Baa sister furthered: “She didn’t come back home last night. I waited for her… I thought she’d decided to stay with Drisel at the inn.”
“I have to find Wolf and tell him!” Drisel set off at a run, once again leaving Ash and Harrey behind.
Harrey scratched the back of his head, watching her dust trail fade up a rope bridge. “That girl is one fast runner…”
“And impatient,” mouthed Ash.
“Welp, somebody’s got to keep tabs on her!” Harrey stretched his arms, then trotted after the speedy girl’s trail. “You stay with Thelma!” he shouted back at him.
Ash frowned and watched the grass at his feet. Thimble…he shouldn’t have left her alone with Wolf. He shook his head. No, Wolf seemed to genuinely care about Thimble—and they’d been friends long before he’d met either of them. But if it wasn’t Wolf, then who was the Baa-napper?
Poor Thimble…she’d been such a lively spirit, full of potential. He deeply hoped she was alright—wherever she was—until they could find her.
‘Can we find her? Can I find her? Aren’t I nothing but a failure and a loser derelict who just wants to be a hero?’
If he couldn’t save Nagato, one of his best friends, what made him think he could save somebody else?
‘But I can’t just sit around doing nothing. Even if I am a failure, doing nothing hurts worse!’
“I need to find that moonship.”
“Moonship?” Thelma repeated near his side. He jumped, forgetting she was there. The older Baa girl posed with a hand on her curvy hip, “That thing Man in Moon flies? Why do you need to find that ol’ machine?”
“I, um,” he inched a step away, “Just a hunch, I guess.” He looked up, surveying the blue sky. “Like Harrey told me: traders are smart. They know things about the area and people they do business with. He could know something about this Baa-napping mystery, or…maybe even be a part of it.”
“Whatever you say, kid. But accusing somebody as popular as Man in Moon of something won’t go well.”
“Unless I get proof,” he countered. “But where could a big airship hide in the Floating Isles?” he asked, facing her. “Can you help me search?”
She combed a hand through her voluminous pink hair. “Guess I can; but just for a bit. I’d rather search the town for her.”
Ash nodded. The sister wasn’t convinced of his theory, and had her own ideas of where to search. “Fair enough. Any help is appreciated.”
“We’ll have to go up,” Thelma pointed an index finger. “Up to the High Plains.”
Drisel forced brambles aside as she found Wolf within the dense woods island. He looked up. Surprise, and something like unease, crossed his face. She knew he must be wondering why Thimble wasn’t with her. And when Harrey came trotting up, Wolf looked more defensive than ever.
“Don’t run, Wolf,” she tried to ease his fear. “I came to tell you something.”
His eyes narrowed. “What?”
Drisel swallowed, gaining composure to say it. “Thimble is…missing.”
Thimble’s gone? I liked that cute little Baa girl!
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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: “derelict.” Check out the link, read other great stories there, and VOTE for your favorite 3 to win!
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