Day 22

“These children will be required to pass through the Mountain Ring. You know what lurks there just as well as I. Thereafter, they will need to cut through the Dead Forest and into the Fallen Valley. This is at the very least a two week walk for one who know’s her way. I guarantee you that even if I gave these five a map, they would take over a month to arrive at the Queen’s palace, and that’s if they made it in one piece.”

The children watched as the Elder and Tipper argued back and forth. Suddenly, their previous excitement of discovering a new world had rapidly diminished. To go home meant traveling a path filled with danger and confusion, and a path that meant leaving with the cantankerous Tipper. To stay was to admit that they were cowards. That they were too scared to create a solution that ended with them reuniting with their parents. Either choice was one that the children were uneasy about. Even the hard headed Gabbie seemed to be green around the gills. Once more, what would guarantee their safe passage back once they arrived at the Queen’s Palace? The Elder did not directly state that she exactly knew of a method to bring them back, just that she may know of why they had bee brought to the world of Soielle.

“NO!” Ginger yelled. Everyone’s attention flew to the girl. “I’m saying NO! What is wrong with you people?! Throwing us to the wolves? Sticking us with a guy who hates our guts? Well I say you do know a way back and you’re just not telling us!” She stomped her foot for emphasis. “I don’t want to fight monsters are see anything else weird. I just want to go home!”

Ginger leapt to her feet and wrapped her arms around her sister. Zane trundled over to his family and put his small arms around the girls. Alastair and Lila clasped hands as the children, now hit with how real their situation had become, began to cry.

Tipper watched the children cry. He did not look disgusted. He did not seem angry or upset. His golden eyes narrowed, and the pointed ears on his head flattened. The Elder gave the boy a sidelong glance, already understanding what was churning inside the younger kitsune’s head. Tipper bit his lip, shook his head, ruffled his hair, and then sagged.

“Alright, alright. Enough with the blubbering. I’m sorry that I’ve been sounding less than pleased looking after you,” Tipper relented.

“Just less than pleased?” Perceval pushed. Tipper ignored the fox.

“What I mean to say is, no. There is no other way. If the Elder said so, then it must be the truth. And the truth is that the only shred of information on how to get you guys back to Earth, no matter how small, is to go to the Queen. The Elder is right. Taking care of you five should be my priority even without a prophecy.

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