Once Upon a Time – Chap. 42.3


Sigh, apologies on this one being a tad late. For reasons still unknown on this storm free day, the power was out for a several hours today. But the AC is back on, my ice cream is no longer in peril of becoming a puddle, and my computer has regained its ability to do more that pretend to be a paperweight. Hooray on all counts!

“Every hand and every job is important during a battle,” Sylvia made a high-pitched whiny version of Gwendoloena’s voice while charging down the seemingly endless hallways of the castle’s upper levels. “Even being banished from the battle entirely to play with dolls and make mud pies.”

“That’s not what she said at all, silly!” Meriall panted behind her as the little girl’s legs struggled to keep up with their power walk journey. “Gwendoloena said baking cookies and real pie was just as important. And you’re going the wrong way to make either! Hey you,” she managed to catch up enough to tug at Sylvia’s cloak, “the kitchen’s not upstairs, we have to go back down!”

“We’ll make all kinds of cookies and pie, promise.” Sylvia ducked her head in yet another useless room that showed no sign of the stone puzzle. “It has to be somewhere around here, I didn’t see her take it with her.”

Who didn’t take what with them?”

“Nothing, never mind.” Sylvia sighed while peeking in another room that appeared to just be someone’s living quarters. “And we are going to the kitchen, we’re just taking a different way to get there. We can pretend we’re explorers, isn’t that fun?”

“No, I don’t want to pretend I’m an explorer, I want to bake cookies!”

“What an imaginative child you are,” said Sylvia dryly. “How about you go down to the kitchen and get the cookies started?”

“But I’m not allowed to cook anything by myself, Algar says I always need to have a grownup in the kitchen with me. What are you looking for anyway?” Meriall’s tug on the cloak became a yank. “Sylvia, come on, we’re not supposed to be up here.”

Sylvia jerked her cloak back and gasped at what lay beyond the open door she stood in front of. “I can’t believe it, it’s right there!” She ran up to the stone puzzle, practically waiting for her on a wooden table. “I knew it had to be around here somewhere but I didn’t think she would just leave it in plain sight.”

“That’s not yours, it’s Gwendoloena’s.” Meriall entered the room and crossed her arms. “You can’t steal it, I’ll tell.”

“I’m not stealing it.” Sylvia grabbed the puzzle with both hands to pick it up. “She obviously forgot this and I”—Sylvia grunted a moment, still trying to pull the puzzle off its table pedestal—“and I’m going to take it to her.”

Meriall continued watching the struggle, still keeping her arms crossed. “I don’t think it’s going to come off the table, she must have glued it.”

“It’s not glued.” Sylvia gave one last pull before letting go with a sigh. “She used magic to make it stay put.” Her brow rose as she took a few steps back from the table. “And I bet I can use magic to get it off there.”

“And I bet she magically glued so you wouldn’t steal it.” Meriall jumped up and sat on the table. “Guess that means we have to go make cookies and pie now, na na!”

Sylvia closed her eyes and chanted a spell from memory, one that she knew would easily make the stone puzzle float off the table as if it were made of air. Even with her eyes still shut, she knew from Meriall’s continuing banter that something hadn’t gone quite right.

“That was a really bad poem, Sylvia, it didn’t even make sense. And I don’t know why you have to close your ey”—the tiny voice suddenly gained a few more octaves—“hey, neat, I’m flying, I’m flying!”

“You’re flying?” Sylvia’s eyes popped back open and her jaw dropped at seeing the puzzle remained firmly fastened to table – which now floated in the air just a few feet from the ceiling with Meriall still sitting on top.

“Oh, this is wonderful fun, I love it!” Meriall skipped along the table’s edge. “It’s like being on a magic carpet!”

“Meriall get down from there, that’s not what I meant to do at all!”

The girl stopped skipping and giggled at her. “But you’re the one who wanted to go exploring instead of baking cookies. And besides, if I have to get down so do you.”

“Me?” Sylvia gulped and wiggled her feet, realizing nothing rested under them. Not only were the table and little girl floating but apparently so was she.


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