Day 14

“Sure, I show off a little and get an ear lashing. He shows off and that’s all well and good,” Tipper mumbled from behind Alastair.

“I can hear you,” Perceval warned. “And you can show off if you know what you’re doing.” Perceval eyed his friend. “And you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Alastair could tell that Tipper wanted to retort, but the man held back. He balled his fists and trudged on. Tipper did not have much time to pout, because that was what he was doing—pouting. Honestly, thought Lila, Tipper is an adult, isn’t he? Soon, the forest cleaved away to reveal what their two guides had promised, a village. A village full of bustling creatures that were all a variation of Tipper and Perceval.

Fox humanoids with multiple shades of brunette, light blonde, night black, deep navy blue, and rare ivory fur. Some had large, fox feet, and others had larger fox ears. All of their glittering eyes were as if they were cut from the most precious gems and molded from the fires of the sun. They wore tunics and breeches specially made to accommodate their tails and feet and pointed ears. And then there were the creatures like Perceval. They were all bigger than their guide, at least by three times. Lila thought of them as full sized dogs or a small mountain cat. She fleetingly wondered if Perceval was ever made fun of because of his size. She knew that anything like that was bad, and she unconsciously got closer to the guide.

The residents of the village had craved out and hollowed the enormous trunks of the forest trees to make houses and little shops. The doors and windows of their treehouses were surprisingly similar to the structures built on Earth in the country of Japan. There were also other familiar architecture; flagstone made of slate for walkways, awnings to cover a merchant’s wares, Greek pillars carved from the softest of wood beset along entryways. The children felt as though they wandered onto a film set in a medieval era.

Everyone seemed to be jovial. The children understood the fox people’s language to a tee, something of which still confused Zane. How and why? These were the answers he needed to learn.

The fox residents of the village watched the procession with their mouths agape when the group walked deeper into the thrall. Lila squeezed Alastair’s hand even tighter while he squeezed the silver watch in his pocket just as hard. His positive thought about this whole situation was that his shirt and pants were finally dry from the mermaid waterfall. Then his stomach fell. He didn’t want to hear about mermaids or different worlds ever again after he found a way out of this mess.

“What’s going on, Tipper?” A small humanoid fox chirped. She had detached herself from what could only be her mother. The girl had golden hair, and her fur matched. She also had fascinating green eyes. “Who are these people?”

“They are our guests,” Perceval answered before Tipper could open his mouth. “Would like to visit the Elder. Could you be so kind as to carry a message of our arrival, Kimber?”

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