Lydia was in utter amazement of the castle. One step inside and she felt as if she crossed over into a brand new world of wonder and amazement. Each hallway was bigger and glistened brighter than the other. All of the rooms were as elegant and beautiful as a meadow of flowers. Eezeyal flew about the rafters, loving the vast amount of space he had to roam about. The dark crevices would be perfect for him to hide in and take naps.
Three Libraries, tons of restrooms, plenty of guest rooms, 20 bedrooms, five parlors, and dozens of hallways. This was including Amber, James, and the parents' rooms. Lydia thought she was inside a labyrinth. The observatory really piqued her interest. The view of the kingdom, the way the sky was opened up – Lydia was in awe. During her tour she met a few members of the staff. The maids were pleasant, the butlers were charming, the chef had created one of the most delicious looking cakes she had seen in her entire life. He gave her a small piece and promised to keep it a secret.
"Woo!" Lydia removed sweat from her brow, feeling her feet throb from the – what...five mile – jaunt throughout the castle. "I doubt I'll need to venture outside for exercise from now on."
"Nice try." Eezeyal perched himself on Lydia's head. "Fresh air does the soul good, little miss." He lectured. "No trek throughout a castle can replace good ol' fashioned nature."
"Yes sir." Lydia giggled. "How can I deny my partner in crime his jaunt about the hills?"
"Precisely." Eezeyal nodded firmly.
Lydia and Eezeyal, purely by chance, found their way to the hallway where Sofia's room was located. It was a relief to Lydia. Not only could she relax for a minute or two, but she could get her practicing out of the way.
"Hm?" Eezeyal hummed curiously. "Lookie there…" He whispered, motioning his head forward. Lydia followed his glaze. She raised a brow in confusion. Cedric was seen sneaking out of Sofia's room, laughing impishly as he closed the door. Eezeyal hissed dangerously, spanning his feet as he prepared to charge. Lydia touched two fingers to his beak, stopping him. What was he doing in Sofia's room?
"Cedric?" Lydia called to him.
"OH!" Cedric nearly jumped out of his skin. Lydia meandered towards him with her arm folded. She bore her suspicious eyes into him. "Princess Lydia!" He bowed with a sweep of his hand. "What brings you here, My Dear?" He grinned like a fox.
"Just browsing." Lydia shrugged. Eezeyal trilled intensely, ruffling his feathers. Lydia placed a hand to his face, silencing him. "What are you up to?" She countered. Something about him was bugging her. Why would he be in Sofia's room? Not that she's been there long enough to know the routines of others. But something about the Royal Sorcerer tending to room duty…seemed off.
"Oh nothing." Cedric waved off with an embarrassed smile. "Just browsing me self. I find getting immersed in this labyrinth of a castle helps me think."
Lydia sniggered, exchanging dubious glances with Eezeyal. "Funny how you and I have the same notion." But that still didn't explain why he went into a young girl's room
"Hilarious." Cedric groaned sardonically. Eezeyal hooted and rolled his eyes. Lydia stifled a giggle. Cedric noticed her earrings. Oh how he wished he knew what that mouse eater was talking about. Seeing as he knew her little secret. The Thornberry Earrings. "Well I'll let you get back to your browsing." He bowed. "Good day to you, Princess Lydia." Lydia bowed her head shallowly. Cedric meandered down the hall, hands folded behind his back. Lydia furrowed her brow to Eezeyal, wondering if he found the Sorcerer off. More than yesterday, at least. "By the by," Cedric called to her, "I look forward to Friday." He said with a hissing purr.
"As do I." Lydia replied halfheartedly. Cedric bowed once more and snapped his fingers, disappearing in a puff of smoke.
Lydia tapped a finger on her chin, shifting her attention between Sofia's room and the dissipating smoke. Maybe Cedric was one of those Royal Sorcerers who tended to the rooms when all of the staff isn't available. It's not unheard of. Rare. But not unheard of. Still she couldn't help feeling…on alert.
"Yew don't honestly believe tha' bilge, do ya?" Eezeyal asked, disrupting her train of thought.
"No…" Lydia trailed off, "But I can't say it's complete bilge."
"Cedric's snide, but I doubt he means any harm." Even Eezeyal could hear the doubt in her voice. "Besides you and I aren't exactly in a position to say what's what around here."
"I s'pose not." Eezeyal stroked his feathers down his white whiskers. "But I can't help see'n a monkey wrench in th' screws here."
"Someth'n doesn't feel right." His attentions moved to the door. "And tha' feel'n is directed toward your sister's room."
"Then let's check things out." Lydia proposed. "Just to ease our rankled suspicions." Lydia pushed her way into the room. It was still the same as last night. Neat, clean – that was suspicious already. Sofia wasn't known for keeping her room clean. "Maybe Cedric helped clean it." The servants worked in shifts. Possibly there weren't enough attendants so he helped clean it.
"Well ain't that purdy." Eezeyal flew to the bed side table, landing next to a vase with a strange orange flower nesting inside. The blossom had yet to bloom. "Well it will be once it blooms." He moved his head toward the window seat. "There's another one over there, too." Lydia glanced to the window seat, finding the buds odd. "This looks like one of them Poppies I've heard of. Just not fanned out in their golden glory."
"It must have been delivered." Lydia surmised, touching the bud the tips of her fingers. "These flowers don't grow in Enchancia." Lydia arched a curious brow. "That's strange." She remarked.
"How do you figure?"
"The blossoms are still buds." She explained. "Why would the king have buds delivered?"
"It's said if a poppy blooms in yer home yer blessed with luck." Eezeyal clarified. "The king must want some luck with his new family."
"I guess." Lydia shrugged, convinced nothing was amiss. But she and Eezeyal still couldn't help feeling like they were missing something.
Cedric burst into his lair. The gust from his smoke blew his equipment and Wormwood over. "HAHAHAHAHA!" Cedric howled in victorious laughter. Wormwood blinked in confusion and fright. "OH THAT COULDN'T HAVE BEEN MORE EASY IF I HAD TOLD IT TO ME SELF!" Wormwood cawed in bewilderment. What was he going on about? "Princess Lydia saw me coming out of Sofia's room." Wormwood dropped his beak in horror. "Don't worry." Cedric snickered. "That's the beauty of my cackle. She thought nothing of it." Wormwood cawed in doubt. "Oh I'm sure she's going to investigate." Cedric scoffed impassively. "But she'll never notice the trick." He reassured his friend. "And by the time she does, she'll be in such a deep sleep a KISS from a prince won't wake her…or anyone else in the palace until dawn."
"WE'RE HOME!" Sofia announced, dashing into the throne room with her arms open.
"Hey guys!" Lydia cheered with a giggle. Amber gaped in surprise to see the elder sister.
"Hi Lydia." Sofia ran up and hugged her. "You're still here." She whispered.
"How was school?" Miranda asked.
"Great!" James answers. "The three of us got paired up for a class assignment."
"What about?" Roland wanted to know.
James pulled out assignment sheet, reviewing it carefully. "As king and queen, how would you solve a case in which a family is behind on their taxes and refuses to pay, but the tax collector keeps raising their taxes every year?"
"Ooh…" Miranda hissed, touching her cheek in concern, "That's a tough one."
"Indeed it is." Roland agreed. "Till this day I have a hard time making decisions on cases like this."
"Sounds like you three have some work to do." Lydia remarked.
"Or you could tell us the answer." Sofia said hopefully, batting her eyes to her parents while hugging Lydia's arm. James grinned impishly as well. Lydia flicked them both in the forehead. "Ow!" They cried out.
"Nice try." Lydia scolded playfully. "You're the future king and queens of this land. Not me." Amber gaped in disbelief, surprised to hear her admit it. She had already assumed Lydia wasn't going to inherit the throne. Per her choice. Hearing her admit it out loud was a bit of a shock.
"Now head off to the parlor and do your homework." Roland admitted. "Dinner won't be ready for three hours, so you'll have planet of time to do it." Sofia and James trudge along, slumping in dread. Lydia giggled at the two. They were more alike than she realized.
"Lydia?" Amber approached her shyly, fiddling with her hands, "Can I talk to you for a moment?" Lydia raised a curious brow. That was an odd change. Amber meandered for the courtyard door, glancing back and forth as her eyes beckoned for Lydia to follow. Lydia shrugged her hands and trailed after her new stepsister. Roland and Miranda watched in intrigue as the girls disappeared behind the door.
Lydia and Amber hid amongst the trees in the courtyard, obscured by the shade from any prying eyes. "Why all the secrecy?" Lydia asked.
"You said, if you had a choice, you would have stayed with Sofia." Amber jumped right into it, not wanting to prolong the matter any further. "What did that mean?" A somber smile formed on Lydia's lips. It was, by far, one of her most heart wrenching memories in her young life. There may be more to come, but Lydia will never forget how horrible she felt that day.
Folding her legs and skirt, Lydia sat on the grass, inviting Amber to join her. Amber swept her dress out and sat on her knees, her attention glued. "For people like me, Amber, the one thing we don't have a choice in is whether or not we leave for school."
"People like you?"
"Those of us with natural magical talent." People like Lydia and Cedric who can use all forms of magic at will, with or without a wand. "Seven years ago – a month after Sofia was born – I was approached this group of Sorcerers."
They told me I had to attend this school in a few months. A school for the 'gifted.' I told them I didn't want to. I had to look after my mom and sister. They said I didn't have a choice. I had to attend. They heard about an 'incident' involving me and another boy. A black hole that spat him out in New Jersia.
They gave me a notice – more like a warning – and left. It said I was to be ready to leave by September and be on the next carriage to the school. If I refused, then someone would come out to retrieve me. I ignored it. I threw the notice away and returned to my sister and mother.
To my surprise and horror they kept their word and returned. I told them again that I wasn't going anywhere. They couldn't make me. Sometime during that argument, a colander and vase burst like a firecracker. Sofia was startled awake from her nap. Mom and I ran to her, making her laugh and calming her down. Those council members then played me with Sofia. They said accidents like what I just did wouldn't happen if I received proper training. That, one day, if I didn't get a handle on my powers I could seriously harm her and my mother. I couldn't refuse after that.
I sent a kid to New Jersia, and by pure luck he had a soft landing. What if something like that happened to my mom and Sofia? Only their landing…I couldn't risk it. I…agreed to their terms. They packed my things for me. I hugged my mom and new sister for as long as I could. I swore I would be back. I visited every major or minor holiday, and returned the moment school was out. And each time I brought something for Sofia. An apology gift and a hope to make up for lost time.
The next year was the same. Sure enough they sent me a letter. That time I left without a fuss. But I since my first year I always made a point to bring something back for Sofia. And I swore that the minute I graduated, it would be about me and her.
Amber thought about it for a moment and realized Lydia didn't bring a Rhine Stone for Sofia. Instead it was a certificate showing she never had to go back. She never had to leave again. "The dolls, Rhine stones, and now the graduation." Amber listed out.
Lydia bobbed her head. "All gifts showing Sofia I never once stopped thinking about her. That I wasn't abandoning her."
Amber bit her lip, trying not to cry. "I'm sorry." She rasped, hugging her hands to her elbows. "I…haven't been treating you fairly." Lydia's eyes beamed. "I've just…" Amber shook her head, "Grown to care about Sofia so much…I don't like the thought of someone…hurting her."
"That's what comes with being an older sister." Lydia revealed the semi-harsh truth to the young princess. "You're allowed to be mean to family. But when someone else does it, you get defensive. You're just looking out for her." Amber smiled warmly, her cheeks flushing. She does look out for Sofia. Lydia lunged forward, yanking Amber in to a strong hug. Amber gaped in surprise, confused about what to do. Lydia's arms tightened, her head snuggling into Amber's neck. "And you have no idea…" Tears streamed over her cheeks, "How grateful I am…that you and James have been there." Amber felt the tears reach her dress, drawing tears to her own eyes. "Thank you…so much, Amber."
Amber, caught up in moment, sighed in defeat and returned the hug. "You're welcome."
Lydia and Amber parted, sniffling as they composed themselves. "What say you we go inside?" Lydia proposed. "Baileywick has chamomile tea ready."
"Okay." Amber helped Lydia to her feet. "Chamomile's my favorite."
"Mine too." The two meandered to the castle. "With a dash of strawberry. Tangy and sweet."
"I like lime." Amber admitted. "Makes it strong and zesty."
"Oh it is."
Dinner came as fast as it went. Amber and Lydia traded tea recipes and took small sips. Both were in amazement at how good each other's tea tasted. James and Sofia were overjoyed to see the sisters getting along so well. Roland and Miranda were charmed.
Once finished with their dinner, Sofia, Amber, and James animatedly excused themselves, pleading their parents to excuse them. Roland and Miranda saw no harm in it. But they were surprised by how fast they devoured their food. Sofia and James grabbed Lydia by the hands and dragged her from her chair. Eezeyal tilted his head and flew after her. Roland and Miranda chuckled.
A blind fold was put over Lydia's eyes. The three siblings dragged her through the large hallways. Sofia and Amber pushed from behind while James guided her by the hand. Lydia didn't know to if she should laugh or be worried. But what she did know was that she couldn't see a thing. "Do you three plan to tell me why you're leading me cryptically down a hallway?" Lydia asked impatiently. "Or do I have to guess?"
"Just wait." James laughed. "You're going to love this."
"Somehow I doubt that." Sofia slapped a hand on her back. "OW!"
"No doubting! Just following!" She ordered.
"Demanding, isn't she?" Amber teased.
"You have no idea." Lydia droned. Sofia grinned impishly.
James, Sofia, and Amber brought Lydia to the door of a certain room. They guided her through a foyer and brought her into a room. Baileywick awaited them with a giddy smile. Eezeyal blurted out in abject amazement. Lydia's brow twitched. It must be one heck of a surprise. "You can remove your blindfold now." Baileywick instructed. Lydia was bewildered to hear his voice, but obliged. She opened her eyes to the room, clenching the blindfold in her hands as she gaped in amazement. "Welcome to your room, Princess Lydia."
Maroon, white, and gold décor glittering wondrously. A Canopy bed similar to Sofia's. Possibly just as soft. Her bags were on the bed. A window seat with a gorgeous view. An open area, like Sofia's play area, near three windows with a couch and chair around a table. There was an upper wing accessible by stairs. It was a study and work space with desks and bookshelves. Perfect for her to work and hide away when she needed to think. There was a little place in a corner for Eezeyal. Last but not least was the closet filled with dresses and accessories. Most likely she wouldn't wear them, but she was beyond grateful the castle patrons thought enough about her to give her this stuff.
"WOW!" Lydia screamed, laughing in dry heaves. "My…gosh!" She spun around "This is…" Baileywick and the children took pride in her reaction. "HO MY GOSH!" When did-"
"Last night." James shrugged. "Baileywick and the others have been prepping it since this morning."
"We asked him to wait to show it to you until we got home." Amber announced.
"You all did this…for me?"
"I hope it's to your liking." Baileywick placed a hand to her shoulders.
"It's wonderful! Thank you so much!"
"In that case we'll allow you to settle in." Baileywick shooed the children to the door. "Good evening, Princes Lydia." Baileywick excused himself and the children.
"Good night." Lydia waved.
"WOO HOWDY!" Eezeyal hooted, barrel rolling throughout the room. He swooped under Lydia, pulling up to the ceiling and landing on the railing to the upper floor. "THIS ROOM IS PURDIER THAN…THAN…SOMETH'N REALLY PURDY!"
"That amazed, huh Ezee?"
"And beyond, yer Ladyship."
Lydia picked up her supply bag. "I'm glad you like it." She laughed. "Because I intend to give the upper wing a try."
"You do that." Eezeyal permitted with a sneaky twinkle in his eye. "I am…" He dive bombed into her clod like bed, "Going to break in yer bed."
"Ha!" She blurted. "Good night, Ezee." She sniggered, strutting up the stairs.
"Try not to stay up too late."
"HEY!" Eezeyal howled, glaring to the bed side table. "WHERE'S MAH PURDY POPPY BUD?"
The golden afternoon quickly faded into the navy night. The stars and crescent moon blanketed the sky, basking it with their twinkling dances. Owls and wolves hooted in song, crickets chirped while the fireflies flickered through the night.
It came time for everyone to prepare for a good night's sleep. The final shift of servants was being sent home in small groups. Each lingering group tended to minor touch ups around the palace. Every servant liked to be as efficient and thorough as possible. A fair and just king like Roland deserved to have his home in impeccable shape.
Baileywick adjourned to his quarters, delighted to take off his scarf. "Oh?" He chimed, seeing a vase with a yet to bloom flower bud in a vase beside his bed. Baileywick recognized it as a poppy bud. "How thoughtful."
Roland and Miranda were dressed in their nightwear, sauntering to their bed arm in arm. "Oh my?" Miranda gazed at her bed side table.
"How odd?" Roland remarked. Both had poppy buds in vases beside their beds.
"Did you do this?" Miranda asked.
"Not me." Roland replied in puzzlement. "They aren't from you?"
"No." Miranda touched the bud. "I wonder who did this.
James and Amber had similar buds in their rooms as well. Sofia, strangely enough, had two buds. Practically every room in the castle had one or two. Depended on how many people were inside. Lydia didn't have any. In fact, oddly, her room was the only room without a bud.
"I mean…" Eezeyal ranted, pacing from one side of the bed to the other, "C'mon!" He hissed. "They give us our own room – all the nice bells and whistles – yet they don't give us a bud!" Eezeyal's rants were no more than animal trills, screeches, and hoots. She had removed the earrings 30 minutes ago. She honestly didn't care much about the buds. Flowers were lovely, but not what caught her attention. Besides she got a nice room. Why push it by asking for a flower?
The time fell upon 9:00 at night. The sky seemed to darken, giving the moon an ominous glow. Cedric drew his wand from his cloak, holding his own little poppy bud between his fingers. He twirled it about, marveling wickedly. "And now, Wormy," He purred, circling his wand over the bud, "Let my reign begin." He smirked. "Sleepity Poppies Pop!" He tapped his wand onto the bud. The petals unfolded and blossomed open in one smooth motion.
Baileywick, Roland, Miranda – everyone with a poppy bud watched as the green stem covering of their flowers folded open, revealing the golden petals beneath. The petals exploded open with an extreme ferocity, dispersing a cloud of glittering dust into the air. James jumped back, Amber scratched at her eyes. Baileywick, Roland, and Miranda coughed and choked.
The newly bloomed flowers withered and evaporated into thin air; nothing more than noxious gas. One by one everyone fell fast asleep. The dust on their faces seeped into their skin. Halfway on the bed, on the floor, or fully on the bed – all with the dust on their face dropped heavier than logs, snoring peacefully.
"And now, Wormy, I make my move."
"Hm!" Lydia furrowed her brow sharply. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat, turning away from the desk and window. She inspected the ground below, the door, the room. Something was off in the air. Like the atmosphere was turned topsy turvey. But why?
Lydia snapped her earrings on, catching the still proceeding end of Eezeyal's rant. "Shush!" She barked. Eezeyal fell silent on command, freezing like a statue. He swallowed a nervous lump. He knew the glow in his master's eye. Lydia dashed down the stairs, stomping her feet on each step. She glared her bright blue eyes, scanning them over the room. "Something's not right!" She announced in a monotone voice. "There was a huge shift!"
Eezeyal perched himself on the elongated footstool at the end of her bed. "Where?" He asked seriously.
"Everywhere." She breathed, easing the tension on her chest. "It's like someone pushed the air an inch over."
"Shall we investigate?"
"By all means." Lydia reached into her cloak coat, drawing her wand. She swirled and flicked forward. The remaining light in her room died down, darkening it. "Let's find that monkey wrench in the screws."
"Where do we begin?"
"You skulk the castle. I'm going to Sofia's room."
Sofia slept comfortably in her bed, sighing peacefully with each exhale. As her door creaked open, Cedric poked his head in, grinning like the menacing crow that he was. He cackled like a gremlin as he tiptoed inside. Though he questioned why he was tiptoeing. Everyone in the castle was sawing logs.
"HM-HM-HM!" Cedric chuckled, rubbing his itchy palms together. His finger wriggled, begging for the amulet to fly into his hands. "This couldn't be more perfect." He squealed like a crazed school girl. He walked through the room with no effort. He kicked and moved toys out of his way. "I never knew girls could be messy."
Cedric stood over the slumbering Sofia, admiring his cat-like grin in the amethyst reflection. Finally, after all those years of planning and failing, his dreams of kingdom domination an inch away from her. Lifting her head, Cedric undid the clasp of Sofia's amulet, gently sliding it from her neck. Sofia didn't so much as stir.
"BWAH-HA-HA-HA!" Cedric howled in laughter, pirouetting in cheer. "FINALLY! THE AMULET OF AVALOR…IS MINE!" He marveled in his success. The smooth feel of the gem, the coarse and refined chain, the POWER emanating from that little bauble. It was more ravishing than he could have ever dreamed. "Now what shall I do first?" Cedric asked his reflection in the Amulet. "Turn the king into one of my puppets? Make Baileywick to the chicken dance? OH-OH…" Cedric trailed off, shifting his gaze slowly to the helpless Sofia, "I know…" He purred. He clenched the Amulet tightly and pointed his wand to her head. "I'll turn you into a harmless little flea…put you in a box…and CONJURE A HAMMER TO SMASH YOU WITH!" He raised his hand and wand into the air. Static electricity built at the tip of his wand. His face sparked in madness. "Wait?" The energy quickly died on the spot. "There's something wrong here." Sofia was sleeping in the bed. She was supposed to be on the window seat. Lydia… "Where's Lydia?" Cedric growled, shifting his beady eyes over the dark room.
"Not where you planned." Chills ran up Cedric's spine when something hard touched the middle of his back. Stiffly and with sweat trickling down the side of his head, Cedric turned his head to behind him. He cringed in petrified fright. "Do…not…move!" Blue eyes raging with a fire in dark, Lydia stood behind him with her wand in his back. Cedric gulped nervously, feeling the fire of her stare burn his soul. "Wand and Amulet on the ground. NOW!" She snarled animally. Cedric did as he was told and placed the items on the bed. "Move!" Cedric scrambled off to the side. Lydia approached the bed, eyeing the amulet in confusion. Why was Cedric making such a fuss over a little trinket?
"I don't know what you did, Cedric," Lydia dangled the Amulet by the chain, "But it must have been necessary if you wanted THIS so badly."
"What I did?" Cedric tried to feign innocence. "I don't know what you could possibly be talking about."
"Twice now I've found you in Sofia's room." Lydia stated intensely, tucking the Amulet into her pocket. "I let it slid this morning, but now…"
"I was…um…" Cedric searched fervently for the perfect excuse, "Checking on her…for…um…"
Lydia stomped her foot, silencing the man on impact. "Need I remind you I'm 18? Not an imbecile!" She snapped. "The entire castle is asleep, and here you are in my sister's room with her necklace in hand! Coincidence? HARDLY!" Cedric bit his tongue, grumbling in frustration. His attention shot to the ceiling. To his eternal delight, Wormwood was waiting in the rafters. "What is this thing?" Lydia demanded. "What did you do to Sofia?" A sly smirk slithered across Cedric's face. "ANSWER ME!"
"Well, well." Cedric chortled. "The little Princess does have an ugly side." He dusted his sleeves off, fixing himself. Lydia's eyes lit with an ominous reddish orange glow. "Do you truly wish to know, Princess?" He cooed teasingly. "FIGURE IT OUT!"
Wormwood dove from the ceiling. His talons grabbed a large chunk, and he yanked back hard. "YOW!" Lydia screamed in pain, staggering away from the bed. Wormwood brought her around the bed. "LET GO!" Cedric swooped in and took up his wand. Lydia peeked through a wincing eye, seeing Cedric aim his wand. "EZEE!"
"I have no intention of going-AH!" Cedric screamed. Eezeyal planted his own talons into the Sorcerer's head, pecking relentlessly. "BLASTED OWL!" Cedric pried at the owl, having his skinny fingers pecked at.
"GRR!" Wormwood had gotten her to the window seat. "Stupid…" Lydia pointed her wand. "BUZZ OFF, CHIMNEY SWEEP!" A stream fired from the wand, shooting Wormwood off. Eezeyal flew from Cedric as Wormwood crashed full force into him. "Ow…" Lydia groaned, massaging her tender head. To her shock, Sofia hasn't stirred once from her sleep. "She must have been hit with something hard."
"You alright, sweet pea?" Eezeyal fluttered his wings.
"I will be…" She growled venomously, baring her teeth to Cedric, "Once I fry that chicken and his bird with a side of berries!" She declared with a raised fist.
"How 'bout some pancakes first? Freshly grounded." Cedric retorted, swirling his wand in a stance. "I'm sure Wormy won't mind a little RED SAUCE!" A powerful pulse launched from his wand, hitting Lydia square on her body.
The pulse pushed Lydia crashing through the window. "AHH!" She screamed, plummeting for the grassy ground below. Eezeyal tried to slow her fall, but she was too heavy. Cedric and Wormwood watched in eager anticipation.
"ANYTIME, LIDDY!" Eezeyal urged pressingly, flapping his wings wildly.
"ON IT!" Lydia tapped her wand on her palm, shaking some dust loose. "Whirly Floatila Gravitsa!" A powerful whirlwind climbed from the ground below, dusting up leaves and grass in its vortex. Lydia was caught on her back by the vortex, gently eased to the ground. "Woo…" She exhaled with relief.
"Close shave." Eezeyal congratulated.
"MERLIN'S MUSHROOMS!" Cedric pounded a fist into the window sill.
"Too bad, Ceddy!" Lydia teased him. "Looks like you'll have to wait for those pancakes!" Cedric grinded his teeth. "Hopita Skipity Jumpis!" Lydia hexed her boots. She pushed off the ground, leaping onto the third story walkway, then vanished to the opposite side of the castle. Eezeyal flew after her.
"SALAZAR'S SNAKES!" Cedric cursed. "That little…wannabe…GRR!" Cedric grasped Wormwood by the neck. "GET AFTER HER!" He roared, throwing Wormwood into the sky. "And report to me when you find her!" Wormwood saluted and flew off in Lydia's general direction.
Lydia cowered in the cellar easily accessible by the back door of the castle. She peeked out of the doors, catching a glimpse of Wormwood as he soared overhead. She snapped the doors shut, scrambling down the stairs deeper into the supply cellar.
Eezeyal shook his little, resting on the third shelf of a cupboard. "Well this is turning into a humdinger of a night." Eezeyal panted, feeling his little heart pound against his chest.
"And it's only 10:00 at night." Lydia responded, collapsing onto the steps. "At least we yanked off Cedric's mask."
"He yanked yers off too."
"I'm aware." She rumbled, touching a hand to her forehead. "I can't remember the last time I wanted to send someone into the center of the earth."
"What was all the fuss for anyway?"
"This." Lydia showed Eezeyal the Amulet Cedric tried to steal. Eezeyal's eyes widened in shock. "I wonder what the big deal is about this necklace."
"The big deal is tha' ain't no ordinary necklace, Miss Lydia!" Eezeyal blurted in hysteria. "That there be the Amulet of Avalor! One of the most powerful and unpredictable of magical items in the world! Possibly in existence."
"What's it do?"
"Not much is known about this here bauble." He began wistfully. "All I know is the little rhyme. With each deed performed, for better or worse, a power is granted. A blessing or curse."
"Say no more." Lydia waved. "We can't let Cedric have this."
"I think it's best to mention it has a failsafe…" Eezeyal trailed off, scratching his head, "I jus' can't recall what."
"It'll come to you later. Right now we need to focus on keeping the Amulet away from Cedric."
"My only question is, what was Sofia doing with it?"
"We'll have to ask her when she wakes up." Lydia stated. "Right now we need to figure out how to do that first."
"At this point, Liddy, I doubt a Pink Elephant Parade will wake that' girl. Or anyone else fur tha' matter."
"Good point. Besides, what are we going to tell everyone when they wake up?"
"What do ya mean what do we tell them?" He snapped scornfully. "We tell everyone what Cedric done did and get his boney hide thrown to th' hyenas!"
"He'll deny everything!" Lydia stressed. "Even if we tie him to the buds, Cedric can just say that someone jinxed them! Burglars in an attempt to rob the castle blind!" However unlikely that may be. "Or her could say it was a trick done by me, him, or someone concerned the royals aren't getting enough sleep. Cedric and I have been prepping for this Friday."
"Fine, fine. I get it."
"It must have been the poppy buds."
"The Poppy buds in Sofia's room were gone. No trace."
"Now tha'cha mention it…" Eezeyal searched his thoughts, recalling his quick recon around the castle, "I saw lots'a vases, but now flowers. And everyone was saw'n logs louder than howler monkey." Eezeyal plopped his wing into his other wing. "Sleep'n Poppies!"
"What?" Lydia remarked, thinking he remembered something.
"No, no! I mean Sleep'n…Poppies. A chain reaction trick." He clarified slowly. "It's a three part trick. Part one – create copies of the poppy. Part two – make the main poppy the sparker. Part three – create a sleeping potion." Lydia did the math. The poppies in Sofia's room were meant for both her and Lydia. Which could only mean Cedric activated the poppies when he knew everyone was in their rooms. The only hitch in his plan was him not anticipating Lydia getting her own room.
"How do we counter it?"
"The charm should wear off by dawn."
"Let me rephrase. How do we counter it BEFORE Cedric catches us?" She stressed in annoyance. "Wormwood is circling us outside. And It's only a matter of time before Cedric realizes we're in here."
Eezeyal knew the words bore a horrifying truth. Cedric held many advantages over Lydia and himself. One being his knowledge of the castle. "There might be." Eezeyal stated, unsure of his words. "I think there's one of them quick fix remedies. But I'd have to see the directions before I can be sure."
Lydia groaned, face palming herself in disbelief. "That means looking in Cedric's spell book! Which, by the way, we have no idea where that is!"
"I think it might be that tower over yonder." Eezeyal nudged his head in a random direction. "We've been everywhere in this here castle except tha' lonely tower."
Lydia shrugged, feeling her hopes dying. "It's all we've got." She skulked up the stairs, walking as lightly as possible. "I hope you don't expect to get there without problems."
"Little Liddy," Eezeyal hovered at the double cellar doors, "Problems are what makes this this little world we live in turn on its circle." Lydia shrugged. He had a point. Lydia partially opened the cellar door, keeping off to the side. Eezeyal poked his head out, scanning the area. "Crystal glass." Meaning all clear. Lydia and Eezeyal emerged from the cellar, closing the door gently.
"Alright, get moving." Lydia whispered. "And please be careful."
"Oh don't worry…" A haughty British accent chortled, Lydia gasped and looked up. A black blur whisked by her, tackling Eezeyal to the ground. The whiskered owl had his head pinned to the ground by a jet black talon. "I'll take GOOD care of him!"
"WORMWOOD!" Lydia screamed.
"Hello Lydia!" Wormwood chuckled cynically, keeping a struggling Eezeyal pinned. "Fancy meeting you here." Lydia bit her lip, crestfallen to see her owl smothered into the dirt. "By the by, Cedric finds those earrings of yours quite charming. As do I." Lydia huffed through her nose. Not that the earrings were secret, it just bugged her whenever people found out. "Because they allow me to keep your attention."
"LIDDY RUN!" Eezeyal pleaded.
"Liddy stay!" Wormwood commanded, mocking her nickname. "Unless, of course," Wormwood arched a talon, placing it to Eezeyal's forehead, "You wish to bear witness as I scoop his shallow brain from his skull." Lydia hissed through gritted teeth. She was stuck. Trapped by a bird. That was a new one. "I'd be more than pleased to release him." Wormwood hummed in a menacing high voice. "Provided you hand over the Amulet of Avalor."
"How about you go BYE-BYE BIRDIE?" Lydia flicked her wand. A dust stream splashed on Wormwood's chest feather. A rumbling power of dust built underneath the raven. He spasmed and bouncing like a cork ready to pop from a champagne bottle.
Eezeyal snaked from under him. "LIDDY THAT SPELL WILL TURN HIM INTO A FIREWORK!" Giving away their position.
"I'm aware!" Lydia waved her wand, "STONEFACED COLD-ALEH!" Ice and rock beamed from her wand, striking the raven and encasing him in stone with a horrified expression. "There ya go." She bragged. "Problem one solved."
"Yeah, yeah, fine. Point for you."
"Now get to the tower, please. I'll keep Cedric busy."
"Consider me gone." He saluted. "But you do realize Cedric will be upset about his bird."
Lydia smirked mischievously, summoning the stone Wormwood to her hands. "I'm counting on it."
"Be careful, Liddy." Eezeyal soared into the sky. "We're play'n a dangerous game!"
"We always do." Lydia whispered. She glanced to the stone Wormwood, smirking sinisterly. "Hmm…This could work." She crooned.
The time had struck midnight. Normally any spells cast would wear off. But this wasn't a fairytale. (LOL) Cedric growled in annoyance, storming through the castle heatedly in an attempt to find any hide or hair of Lydia and Eezeyal. With each minute that past, Cedric grew more annoyed. This game of hide and seek was getting old really fast. What was worse was he hadn't heard back from Wormwood yet.
"That little brat…" He muttered to himself. "When I find her…" He turned into a hallways, "I'm gonna-AH!" He screamed with his hands on his head. On both sides of the hallway, there were dozens of pedestals with stone birds perched on top. It…er…they were Wormwood! "WORMY!" Cedric scrambled between statues. "OH…NO…WHICH ONE…WHICH ONE…" He panicked. They all looked the same. Aside from the uniform possess.
"Ha-ha-ha…" A puckish giggle came from down the hallway. Cedric glared to the source of the giggle, frothing at the mouth when he saw Lydia. "How do you like my collection?" She teased. "I call it 'Dances with Wings.' Catchy, no?"
"Not…in…the…slightest!" Cedric snarled through gritted teeth.
Lydia's smirk widened. "Don't worry. All you have to do is smash the fakes and the real one will be released."
"You know not the severity of the consequences your actions have wrought!" Jagged ripples swirled around Cedric's wand. "FULMENOS VENITE!" Five streams of lightning roared from his wand.
Lydia drew a circle in the air in front of her wit her wand. "MIRROR-O DELFELCTO!" She spread her hands. A hazy glaze cast in the ring. The five lightning streams struck the mirror, then flew back in different directions, crashing into the walls and floors. "Ignis Spinas!" Fiery thorns howled through the air like unrelenting arrows.
"Glacies Spiritus!" Cedric touched his wand to his lips. Breathing in as deep as he could, Cedric unleashed a mighty breath. Blizzarding mist of ice and snow filled the air, killing the thorns on the spot.
"Ashes to Ashes," Lydia twirled her wand like a baton,"Dust to Dust!" Ash and Dust gusted from Lydia's wand like a storm, dashing for Cedric
Cedric cast his wand, taking control over the dust. "SERPENTINE SMOKE! ABOUT FACE!" The dust stopped, collapsing into itself and then rebounded, darting for Lydia.
Lydia gathered an abundance of magic. ONE, TWO THREE – Lydia slashed through the air slashed her wand through the air, deflecting the three barrels of dust around and away. "IS THAT ALL YOU'VE GOT!" Cedric chuckled and shifted his stance. The dust looped around, morphing into a razor toothed snakes. Before Lydia could react, the three snakes constricted around her, hoisting her from the ground. "HEY!" Cedric drew his wand arm back. The snakes squeezed sharply. "GAH-HA!" Her wand fell from her hands. The clopping of the fine wood was horrifically loud to Lydia. She's been disarmed. Eezeyal…please…hurry!
Eezeyal found his way to the lonesome tower he mentioned to Lydia. No surprise, it was a stark place filled to the brim with potions, books, dust, and painting of an old man and an ugly woman. He was in the right place.
"Cedric lives like he looks. Ugly." Eezeyal perched on a bird stand, moving his little eyes over the dusty room. "Now if I were a Sorcerer with a Domination complex, where would I hide my…SPELLBOOK!" He cheered, flying to a pedestal. One of Cedric's books was left open. What luck that it was still on the poppy. "Let's see here…" Eezeyal muttered to himself, "Juice from eye of newt-Ew…fairy dust...this is how to make it." He skimmed down further. "Counter charm-oh!" He gaped. "How do ya like that?" He grinned.
Lydia fought and struggled against the dusty bindings. Particles from the ground or not, Cedric weaved the dust stronger than steal. And each second that passed those bonds grew tighter. Something was going to pop. Lydia just prayed it wasn't her head.
"Tsk, tsk, little Princess," Cedric wagged a finger mockingly, "You should have been watching your back." He crooned tauntingly, strutting boastfully to the restrained girl. "Never assume and never become over confident." He scooped up her wand. "It's every Sorcerers undoing." He touched wand to the tip of her nose. "Including yours." Lydia struggled against the binds, desperately wanting to kick him in the face. The dust tightened around her. Lydia grunted dryly, feeling something to give any second. She groaned in defeat, slumping in the bonds in pain. "I told you," Cedric purred, tilting her head up with a single finger, "You couldn't comprehend the severity of your consequences."
"And you…" Lydia rasped, trying to talk through the pain, "Don't know…" Her glare sharpened on the spot, wishing her gaze could cut that elongated nose right from his face, "Who…you're dealing with!" Lydia replied boastfully.
"I know exactly who and what I'm dealing with!"
"How?" Lydia choked from blurting out. "Because you figured out what my earrings are?" She growled.
"No…" Cedric raised his wand, backing away from her slowly. Lydia tensed nervously. Powder blue dust gathered. "Because I know you didn't anticipate this." He smirked. "Releaso Stony-so!" The powder blue dust sprinkled and passed along to every Wormwood statue in the hallway, dispelling their stone confinement.
"Uh-oh." Lydia sank in dread.
The Wormwoods cracked their necks and wings, stretching from the uncomfortable confinement. The real Wormwood shook his little body, shaking off the stiffness. He flew to his master's shoulder, sighing in relief. Cedric stroked his bird lovingly. "You alright?" Wormwood nodded. "Good." Cedric pointed to Lydia. "See the mean girl, Wormy?" Cedric crooned. Wormwood glared daggers to Lydia who was starting to regret multiplying the bird. A smug smirk slithered onto Wormwood's face. "Watch this." He enticed his raven. "All of you…" Cedric raised his wand. The Wormwood copies stood at attention. Lydia came to the horrible realization that his spell had a secondary effect. Total control. "ATTACK!" He roared.
The raven took off into the air, spiraling around one another into one giant barrel of black feathers. Looping around, the barrel of Ravens whooshed past Cedric, gusting his cloak. Lydia fought even harder to get free. All in vain. Seeing the ravens draw closer, she closed her eyes, waiting in terror for the impact. The dusting snakes vanished from Lydia's person. She barely had a second to fall for the ground. The hoard of ravens crashed full force into her, smashing her into the wall at the end of the hallway.
Lydia screamed in agony. The false ravens fired into her like bullets, evaporating on impact in a ball of feathers. The volleys of ravens seemed to go on for hours, pelting Lydia's body like a hammer to meat. Lydia just wished it would stop. She was done. Let it all stop. She got her wish. When the final raven struck her in the chest, Lydia fell to the ground with a loud thud. Her uniform was torn and tattered, nearly every seam ripped from its stitch. Lydia, her vision blurred and her body heavier than lead, panted in shallow breaths. She was able to hear Cedric's shoes as he marched for her, chuckling in victory.
This is…Cedric's power…when he isn't trying. Lydia whimpered to herself, her consciousness slipping. Cedric stood over her. A distorting hand reached out for her. I don't…stand…a chance…Lydia's world went black.
"And…ten!" Eezeyal groaned, swallowing a black candied bean. "UGH! Such a disgust'n flavor." He grunted, feeling his stomach ready to burst. "These Screechers better work or Lydia and I are mud!" His stomach gargled sickly. Eezeyal touched a wing to his beak, keeping his food down. "They better be worth the stomachache I'm gonna have until the cows come home…HOOMPH!" He heaved dryly. "Twice! Oh…" Eezeyal had almost forgotten about Lydia.
For someone trying to keep Cedric busy, the castle sure was quiet. Quieter than it was five minutes ago. He could have sworn he heard…thunder or something coming from one of the corridors. He at least thought he'd get a glimpse of a lightshow. It was more quiet and darker than a graveyard. "Liddy…what's going on over there?"
"What's going on is…" Eezeyal whipped around, horrified to find Wormwood grinning at him from his perch, "Your precious Princess is about to become Cedric's first martyr." He spanned his wings threateningly, prompting Eezeyal to take his stance. "And you will become his first meal after I've had my fun."
Head pounding…body aching…it felt like weight were mixed into her muscles. "Ugh…hmm…uh…" Lydia groaned exhausted. Her head was ready to split open. Her eyes fluttered open. Her vision was blurred horribly. She made out a red carpet…and the walls. But that was it. "BRR!" She shook her head, clearing it up. Squinting her eyes, Lydia gazed on ahead. Six chairs came into view. Two on either side of the largest two chairs. "This is…the throne room."
"Ah..." A sickeningly familiar voice crooned, "So nice of you to awaken, Princess." Cedric emerged from behind Lydia, pirouetting in triumph. "I was afraid I'd sent you to the academy in the sky for a moment." He feigned concern, grinning to her as her towered over her in pride. "With everyone else asleep, I'd have no one to boast to."
Lydia growled through her gritted teeth. "CEDRIC!" She tried to lunge for him. "WHOA!" She was quickly jerked back to the ground, landing hard on her back. "Ow…" Lydia tilted her head back, wanting to see what stopped her. "Huh?" For chains emanating with a green mist were staked into the ground. Slowly sitting up on her knees, Lydia found herself restrained by those chains. She was anchored to the ground like a wild animal. Lydia glared back to Cedric, wishing she could bite his face off.
"You seem surprised." Cedric gasped in feigned shock. "Did you honestly think I wouldn't predict you'd lunge at me?" He pressed two fingers to her forehead, "How foolish to underestimate your senior." Lydia snarled and snapped her jaw, narrowly missing the fingers. Cedric shook his hand, able to feel the air on his fingertips. "You may wear a sweet and innocent face like your sister, but I know for fact you harbor a nasty little temper." He crooned. "I wonder how many times that contingency got you into trouble."
"Loads!" She answered unwaveringly.
"Yes. Well I'm shocked it wasn't your overconfidence." He mocked her, sauntering for the thrones. "The minute you receive an inch you think you're in the clear." Lydia scoffed in revulsion and turned her head away. But what disgusted her the most was that he was right. Lydia only had a small lead. The Wormwood copies, the hallway – I didn't think that through. Speaking of which…Lydia noticed Wormwood wasn't around. Where was he? "Oh and if you're worried about Wormwood, don't be." Cedric responded as if reading her mind. He plopped himself into Roland throne, snuggling himself comfortably. "He's tending to your little owl as we speak."
"Eezeyal?" Lydia's voice trembled.
Cedric chuckled mockingly, leaning forward on his elbows. "I'm fully aware he's in my tower." Cedric produced Lydia's wand. "No doubt looking for the antidote to this little spell of mine." He pointed the wand with a smug grin. "What a shame he won't return to divulge it." Lydia hissed silently. Her whole body quaked in rage…fear…sorrow. Cedric's grin widened to his ears, able to see her dismay. "And soon, my dear, as part of my ascension to the throne you'll be dispatched from this plane as if you never arrived." He ran his tongue hungrily over her lips. "I'll even alter the minds of everyone to ensure your existence never happened." Lydia bit into her lip, futilely trying to prevent herself from yelling out. It wouldn't do any good. Everything was falling apart at the seams and it was only her second day at the castle.
Lydia lowered her head, hiding her shame beyond the hue of her bangs. This…can't be! She hissed to herself. Lydia was, to her great disgrace, helpless. Vulnerable to anything Cedric had to deal at her. Attacks and verbal boastings. His current presence and state was infuriating enough. Cedric – the new bane of her existence – was sitting in Roland's chair. Her new father…that she only got to have for 48 hours. That wasn't even the worst of it. That wretch… Her wand was in the hands of, well, her newly acquired rival, Eezeyal was probably being torn apart by Wormwood, it was still hours away from dawn and the spell wearing off, and the worst part was…Lydia may be leaving Sofia again. Perhaps permanently. The only saving grace: Lydia was confident he didn't have the Amulet. But she was sure he made plans for acquiring it.
"Now before I go any further into my plans for kingdom domination," Cedric interrupted Lydia's train of defeated thoughts, "There is a little matter I must discuss with you."
"What might that be?" Lydia's word quivered. If she could, fire was spew from her mouth.
Cedric motioned his palm upward. The chains disconnected from the ground, hoisting Lydia a foot from the ground. He wriggled a finger, beckoning the chains to bring her forward. Lydia was brought a few feet away from Cedric. She hovered before him like a spider trapped in a spider's web. The suspense of waiting for him to sink his fangs into her was torturous. "In order for my plans to play out properly," He leaned forward, making Lydia shift back, "I require the Amulet of Avalor. Where is it?" Lydia felt the revolting sensation of her space being violated. Cedric was aware she didn't have it.
"The amulet of what?" Lydia played dumb. "What's that?"
Cedric shot up from the chair. "Don't play ignorant, child!" He roared. "You know full well of what I speak!"
Lydia knew she was only delaying the inevitable. But she needed to buy Eezeyal some time. He was going to pull through. "If you mean that necklace you tried to take from Sofia, I don't have it. I lost it."
Cedric jabbed his wand into her chest. "LIES!" He boomed. "Oh…King Roland may have believed give it to Sofia protected it, but I'll be a Dingwall if I allow someone like you to keep it from me!" The king? Lydia gasped in her mind. Roland gave Sofia the Amulet? "I'll only ask once more." Cedric forewarned. "Tell me where that Amulet is," He put the wand to her chin drawing her closer, "Or I guarantee you your punishment will make Dr. Facilier losing his soul to Voodoo seem like a skip down Castle Boulevard!"
Lydia furrowed her brow, glaring defiantly to the Sorcerer. "As tempted as I might be to tell you," Lydia yanked her head back, escaping the wand, "GO KISS THE UNDERSIDE OF A TICKING CROC'S FOOT!" She lashed a foot out, connecting with Cedric's chin. The Sorcerer fell into Roland's chair, stars circling his head. Lydia felt some relief, but knew she just raised the level of danger from complicated to Hazardous.
"Grr…" Cedric bared his teeth to the girl. "Fine! If you won't tell me of your own volition," Cedric raised his wand, "Then I'll have to coax the information from you in the most painful way I can think of." Lydia mentally prepared herself. She could take anything he had to throw. Cedric cast his magic to the purple chair beside him. Purple smoke puffed in the chair. Lydia arched a confused brow, then gaped in horrified dismay. "Since I know you can handle harsh magic," Sofia emerged from the smoke, asleep and unaware of her current situation, "I'm curious," Cedric reached over, rubbing his hand through her silky brown hair, "How much can punishment Princess Sofia take before she breaks like the little doll that she is?"
Lydia thrashed about in her chains, no longer caring if she would break free. "GET YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF OF HER!" Lydia's voice broke. "DON'T TOUCH HER!"
Cedric took pride in shattering her mask for a second time. "And there it is." He chuckled. "That inner demon. Interesting how it arises when I've yet to do anything."
"GET…AWAY…FROM HER!" A fire burned in Lydia's eyes.
"I'm afraid I can't do that." He obviously lied. "You see there is something I want," Cedric rapped his wand on Sofia's head, "And this young lady here is going to be the key to my getting it." Lydia bit her lip, nearly breaking the skin. Cedric placed his wand to Sofia's temple. A yellow light glowed brightly. No…Lydia gaped in dismay. "Now how many scratches must I inflict to her porcelain skin before you submit?"
Lydia growled in shaky breaths. Eezeyal wasn't coming. Her wand was out of reach. Sofia…The light grew brighter. Sofia continued to sleep. Peacefully. "I…" Lydia dropped her head in defeat, whimpering woefully, "I give." Her voice wavered. Cedric let the glow die down. He brought his attention to the young sorceress. Lydia kept her head down, refusing to let Cedric see her shameful expression. "I'll tell you where the Amulet is." She stated, making Cedric retract his wand fully. "Just please don't hurt Sofia. I beg you."
"Hmph." Cedric tilted her head up with his slender fingers. Tears were streaming from Lydia's glossy blue eyes. "Where have you hidden the Amulet?"
"Give me your word you won't harm Sofia." Lydia quickly countered. "You can do what you like with me, but not her."
"I will consider your terms when you've handed over that Amulet."
Lydia was in no place to continue bartering. "Around my ankle." She answered, glancing to her right foot. "I shrank it to an anklet."
Cedric blinked in confusion and looked down. Sure enough there it was. Cedric undid the clasp, admiring how small the amulet was reduced. "Impressive. And ingenious." He tapped his wand to it, returning it to its normal size. "You would have made an excellent Royal Sorceress with you outside the box thinking." He placed his wand to the crook of her neck. Lydia felt an unbearable heat. "Would." Cedric emphasized. "Do not worry. I won't harm your sister. I'll make her into a hand maiden and have her serve your owl to me with blackberries."
"Eezeyal…" Lydia whispered, "Sofia…" She closed er eyes, "I'm sorry."
"OOMPH!" The moment was interrupted. Lydia and Cedric glanced to the side. Wormwood was on the ground in shambles. Copious feathers were scattered around him.
"Wormy?" Cedric panicked.
"EZEE!" Lydia cheered, seeing her owl in the window sill above. "You're alright…"
"O' Course I am, Liddy!" Eezeyal spread his wings and dove for Cedric. "AND I'M HIGHLY IRRITATED!" Cedric screamed and cowered under his hands. Eezeyal quickly curved and swooped to Cedric's side, stealing back Lydia's wand. "HERE, LYDIA!" Eezeyal handed the wand to her restrained hands.
"Thanks. Dispel-ah, release-oh, and libertah-teh!" The chains burst into dust. Lydia landed in a crouched position. She cast another spell, bringing Sofia safely into her arms. "Tell me you have good news!" She ordered Eezeyal.
"Failsafe fer the spell." He announced happily. "Ya need a loud noise." He patted his stomach. "And I happen to have ingested 10 of those horrible taste'n Screecher Beans."
"I never pegged Cedric for a bean lover."
"OYE!" Cedric erected an affronted finger. "Don't insult the beans!" Cedric held the Amulet out to her. "And don't insult me! Not whilst I have this."
"Not for long!" Lydia boasted. She placed Sofia gently to the ground, then put her fingers into her ears. "As loud as you can Eezeyal!"
"YOU GOT IT!" Eezeyal inhaled as deeply as his lungs could take. His little tummy expanded like a balloon.
Cedric thought for a moment, wondering what the bird was up to. He gaped in disbelief. "NO!"
"SCCCCRRRRREEEEEEE!" Eezeyal unleashed the shrillest screech, brought on by the mass of beans he had eaten. Screecher Beans – delicious to eat, hilarious to scream. They allow a person to release a screech so loud and so shrill, people were said to fall unconscious.
Lydia, Cedric, and Wormwood cringed, covering their ears as tightly as possible. Cedric dropped the amulet. It bounced to the center of the room. Lydia saw it and summoned it to her hand. "Perfect."
All throughout the castle Eezeyal's screeched traveled. It bounced off every wall, traveling into everyone's room, and cracking a few windows along the way. Baileywick, James, Amber, Roland and Miranda – everyone throughout the castle heard the screech and clamped their hands to their ears, crying out in annoyance.
"WHAT A HORRID SOUND!" Baileywick cried.
"MAKE IT STOP!" James begged.
"WHAT IS THAT?" Miranda whined.
Sofia began to stir from her deep sleep, bringing a smile to Lydia's face. "Ezee! Kill it!" She ordered. Eezeyal immediately let his voice fall on deaf ears. To his great relief. He collapsed to the ground in exhaustion. Lydia propped Sofia onto her lap, quickly returning the amulet around her neck. "Looks like your pans for kingdom domination have been halted." Sofia boasted to Cedric.
"For now, you sneaky little tart!" Cedric frothed. "This is hardly over."
"I couldn't agree more!" Lydia hissed. "And come Friday, I'm going to bury you so deep, Mole Rats won't be able to find you!"
"I accept your challenge, Princess Lydia!" Cedric smirked hatefully. "So I highly suggest you be prepared." Cedric scooped up Wormwood. "Because on Friday I won't hold back because you're young." His eyes fell onto Sofia. "Especially now that I know your true weakness." Cedric took his leave in his green smoke. Lydia didn't care what he had to throw. All she knew was that she would need to take the gloves off for Friday.
"Ugh…" Sofia groaned, starting to come to.
"Uh…" Lydia sighed in relief, "Good. Not even scratched." Lydia stroked her face. "And we got her amulet back. That's a victory."
"Cedric wouldn't have been able to use it, anyhow." Eezeyal announced.
"I remembered the failsafe when I saw Cedric with it. The Amulet can only be used if its been passed on willingly from one person to the next."
"You may have given up the Amulet to save Sofia, but it was taken from her person."
"That's right." Lydia and Cedric took the Amulet from Sofia, who received the Amulet from King Roland. "GREAT!" Lydia cursed herself. "All of that drama for nothing."
"Not fer noth'n." Eezeyal assured her. "You rattled Cedric's cage, and proved you can stand toe to toe with him." He nudged her in congratulations. "That right there is enough to show him he don't have free reign to do as he pleases."
"Point taken." Lydia giggled.
"Lydia?" Sofia breathed, rubbing the sand- and poppy dust – from her eyes.
"What's going on?" Sofia looked around the room. "Why am I in the throne room?" She gaped in horror. "And what happened to you?"
"To the first question: You were sleep walking."
"I was?" Sofia questioned. "I haven't done that since I was five."
"As for your second question…" She fell? She was sleep walking too? "A potion blew up."
"Again?" Sofia asked in dread.
"Geeze, Lid." Sofia cursed her. "Can't you go one day without creating trouble?"
"Trust me, Sofia." Lydia laughed dryly. "After tonight, I'm convinced trouble finds me."
1:13 in the morning - THAT'S ALL FOR NOW. I'LL RETUNR LATER.
TILL NEXT TIME!