Chapter 4

Meeting

In the forest beyond the kingdom, Brick and his brothers take a break from so much running to catch their breaths. Then the three boys hear the sounds of hooves hitting the ground and a neighing horse. Seeing the captain of the guards Dexter leading his men on horse-back after them, Brick, Boomer, and Butch make a run for it again.

After a while of running, seeing that Dexter and the other castle guards are closing in on them, Butch said, "Damn, they're closing in on us!"

Then Brick says to his brothers, "Okay, time to split up, guys. This could be our chance to lose them!"

"Right!" Boomer and Butch said in unison. Then, the three split up right at a three-way fork path, making Dexter command some men chase after his brothers while he and the rest chase Brick. "We must retrieve that satchel at any cost. You boys better not fail me!" demanded Dexter. "Maybe if I succeed and please their royal majesties, I just might be able to win the lost princess whenever she's able to return home." Dexter thought. Ever since he was young, Dexter had a secret crush for the missing princess ever since he first laid eyes on the one picture that was of her and her sisters with their parents.

"Yes sir!" his men all reply.

Then, Dexter's horse Aca turned to the other steeds and gave them her own order. When Brick had jumped through a gap in between a few trees that were close together, Dexter's mare was able to jump through the same gap to continue chasing Brick. Using a vine to swing around, Brick knocked Dexter off Aca and just as he settled in her saddle, Aca stopped, glared at Brick and bucked him off, sending him flying. When he managed to land on his feet, Brick made a run for it as Aca chased him herself.

After sometime of chasing him, Aca realized that she had somehow lost track of the thief. As she sniffed around like a hound dog, Brick found a secret entrance behind some vines. Walking through the little cave, Brick came into a huge clearing with a tower next to a tall waterfall. Deciding to hide in the tower for a while, Brick climbs up to the window at the top and shuts the window tight behind him.

Just as Brick was taking a look around the dim tower, he was all of a sudden struck in the back of his head with something as hard as iron. Standing a bit away from the stranger that had somehow found her tower and gotten inside, Blossom turns toward Miss Bellum who just shrugs. Cautiously stepping closer to the stranger, Blossom carefully turns his head a little so she could see a part of his face, then she slowly lifted his upper lip to see if he had pointy teeth. To her relief, his teeth were normal.

Seeing that his cap was blocking the higher part of his face when he collapsed, Blossom carefully removed it and was amazed at how good looking he was even though he looked similar to her with his hair that reached to the middle of his back and was tied back with a black hair tie. Knowing that Sedusa will be back soon, Blossom turned to Miss Bellum and whispered, "Help me hide him."

Thinking fast, Miss Bellum used her snout to point to her wardrobe, motioning Blossom to put the stranger in there. Having to drag him since he was heavy for her to pick up herself, Blossom and Miss Bellum shoved the stranger inside and quickly shut the wardrobe doors with a chair pushed against the doors to keep them from popping open.

And so, with the stranger sealed inside her wardrobe, Blossom was just about to praise herself for what she did when a small amount of sunlight hit something inside the stranger's satchel. Picking up the satchel and reaching inside, Blossom is surprised at the contents as she pulled out a silver crown with pink jewels. Amazed at how beautiful the jewelry piece is, Blossom faced the mirror and gently place the crown on her head.

To see how beautiful Blossom appeared with the crown, Miss Bellum stared that somehow, it made her think about the lost princess. Then the two heard a voice from outside the tower. "Blossom, let down your hair!"

Quickly putting the crown and satchel in a pot, Blossom hurried to the window as Miss Bellum went to hide. "One moment, mom."

With her hair tumbling down to the ground, Sedusa smiled up at the girl and said, "I have a big surprise for you, dear."

Returning the smile as she pulled her mother up, Blossom reply, "I have one too."

Wondering what it could be, Sedusa called back to her, "I'll bet my surprise is bigger!"

With Sedusa close to enter the tower through the window, Blossom whispered as she glanced back at her wardrobe where the boy is sealed in, "I seriously doubt it."

Sitting on the window seal, Sedusa faced Blossom and said as she entered the tower, "I brought back parsnips. I'm making your favorite tonight; hazelnut soup. Surprise!"

Pulling her hair back and smiling that she will be making her favorite, Blossom said, "Mom, I've been wanting to speak with you."

As if she had ignored her, Sedusa said as she hung her cloak and briefly hug the girl, "Oh my dear Blossom, I just absolutely hate leaving you here in the tower after a fight, especially since I didn't do anything."

After letting her go, Sedusa walked over to the fruit basket to grab an apple with Blossom approaching her wardrobe slowly. "I've been thinking about what you said earlier."

"You better not be talking about the stars."

"Floating lights, and yes I am going to lead up to that." said Blossom as she went over to her wardrobe so that she could show Sedusa who she had caught sneaking into the tower before she had arrived.

"I thought we dropped this issue, sweety." Sedusa reply while she straightened things up a bit.

Trying her best to get through her mother's head, Blossom continued, "You may think I'm not capable of defending myself out there..."

Turning slightly to the girl, Sedusa said as she started to get a little annoyed, "I know you're not capable of protecting yourself out there."

"But I'm trying to show you that I can..."

"Blossom we are done talking about this."

"Trust me, I know what I'm..."

"Blossom, enough with the lights. You're not leaving this tower, EVER!" Sedusa yelled rather harshly. Blossom froze just as she had touched the chair she had placed against the doors of her wardrobe. With Blossom stepping away from the wardrobe, Sedusa flopped into a chair with a hand to her throbbing head. "Great, now I'm the bad guy."

Thinking that since her mother won't let her leave on her own, Blossom thought that maybe she could convince the boy that broke into the tower to take her. Coming up with something else that would get Sedusa to leave and be gone long enough, Blossom said in a gentle tone, "All I was going to say, mother, is that I know what I want for my birthday."

"And what is it?" Sedusa said with a sigh to calm herself down since she exploded on her.

"New paint. Like the paint you made from the white shells you brought me once."

Facing her, Sedusa said calmly now that she had settled down, "You know that's a very long trip, Blossom. Almost three days' time."

"I know. I just thought it was better than to see the stars."

Letting out a sigh, Sedusa got out of her seat, went over to Blossom, and gently pulled her into a hug. "Are you sure you'll be all right on your own?"

"Yes. I'm safe as long as I'm here." said Blossom as she hug Sedusa back. After kissing Blossom on the top of her head, Sedusa went to get her cloak while Blossom set up a basket for her with a few fruits, a slice of bread and a small block of cheese.

All set to leave with her cloak on and Blossom handing her the basket, Sedusa hug Blossom and said, "I'll be back in three days' time. I love you very much, sweety."

Hugging her back, Blossom reply, "I love you more."

"I love you most." And so, after releasing her, Blossom helped Sedusa back down to the ground and she watched as she left the hidden area.

As soon as Sedusa was out of sight, Blossom ran over to her wardrobe with Miss Bellum removing the chair away after coming out of hiding. Carefully opening the doors, Blossom sighed that the boy was still out like a candle. With Miss Bellum's help, Blossom carried the boy to the chair, taken some of her hair and wrapped it tightly around him and the chair to keep him in place. With Blossom hiding in the shadows of the tower and the boy being in the light from the hatch she opened, Miss Bellum slapped the boy with her tail, making Brick jerk awake as he felt a stinging pain on his cheek.

Now awake, Brick glanced around the dark room and just as he was getting out of his seat, he realized that he couldn't because of the long red hair wrapped around him and the chair, keeping him from getting out of the chair. "What the hell?" said Brick as he tried to free himself from the hair.

"Struggling is futile!" he heard a young female voice that was hidden in the darkness of the room.

Then he heard someone climb down from something and Brick could barely make out their form but could see that they were holding something in their hand. "I know why you're here. I'm not afraid of you."

Confused, Brick just stared at the figure and fox who had walked closer to where the figure is without stepping into the dark, glaring at him. Then the figure slowly stepped into the light, taking Brick completely by surprise; it was a girl about seventeen or eighteen with long red hair, rose pink eyes and wearing a white gown with rose pink collar and lacy sleeves and a frying pan in her hand which he figured she had used to knock him out. "Who are you and how did you find me?" the girl asked as she raised her pan, readying herself to strike him if need be.

Shaking his head so he could get out of the trance he was in when he first laid eyes on her, Brick said, "I don't know who you are and how I came to find you, but let me just say I happen to find this place when I was being chased by a royal guard's horse."

"Why are you here?" said the girl as she slowly approach him.

"My brothers and I were being chased and we split up hoping to lose the royal guards. I stumbled upon this tower and chose to hide here until I felt that it was safe for me to go back out."

"Okay, so you're not after my hair?" the girl asked as she lowered the frying pan.

"No, all I want is to get out of your hair." Brick said, motioning to the hair that is wrapped around him.

"You still haven't told me who you are." the girl said as she started to unwrap her hair.

"I'm Brick." Then he noticed that he did not have his satchel. "Where is my satchel?"

"I hid it. I'll only give it back if we make a deal."

Then the fox looked up at her with an expression that said, "Are you sure you want to trust him?"

"I don't know, Miss Bellum, but I need someone to take me since mother won't let me leave the tower." Blossom said.

The next look the fox gave her said, "I just have a terrible feeling about him. He may plan to take advantage of you."

"I don't think he will. I have a feeling that he's not like that." Turning her attention back to her counterpart, Blossom said, "Here's my offer," then she pointed to the painting of her seeing the floating lights. "You will take me to see these floating lights tomorrow night and bring me home safely. Then and only then will I return your satchel."

Taking a look at the painting, Brick then said, "You mean you want to see the floating lanterns the kingdom does for the one missing princess?"

To hear what they are, Blossom smiled to finally know what the lights really are. "So, do we have a deal, Brick?"

Thinking it over, Brick thought that since she appears so attractive for some reason, he made a decision that this will give him a chance to get to know her. With a nod, Brick said, "Okay, I'll take you to see the lanterns."

So glad that she'll be able to see the lanterns in person this year for her birthday, Blossom briefly hugged Brick as a thank you. And so, with Brick climbing down the way he climbed in, Blossom prepared herself and Miss Bellum for getting out of the tower. But before doing so, Blossom takes a moment to look at the earth down bellow her window.

Look at the world
So close, I'm halfway to it!
Look at it all
So big, do I even dare?
Look at me
There at last!
I just have to do it

The moment of hesitation she had made her glance back inside the tower, to her new painting of her and the lanterns.

Should I?
No!
Here I go

With her hair flung out of the tower, Blossom and Miss Bellum slid down her hair like a pole and just when she is just a couple feet above ground, Blossom could feel her heart pound against her chest. Once Brick and Miss Bellum safely landed on the ground, Blossom slowly let go of her hair and gently touch the soft grass with her bare feet.

To feel the grass for the first time underneath her feet, Blossom could not believe that she had gotten out of the tower and she walked around the area, feeling the cool grass and cold water of the stream for the first time in her life.

Just smell the grass! The dirt!
Just like I dreamed they'd be!
Just feel that summer breeze
The way it's calling me
For like the first time ever, I'm completely free!

Seeing the cave that Sedusa uses to get from the forest to the area with the tower, Blossom could feel her heart begin to race with adrenalin.

I could go running
And racing
And dancing
And chasing
And leaping
And bounding
Hair flying
Heart pounding
And splashing
And reeling
And finally feeling

Standing in a small clearing on the other side of the cave in the outside world from the tower, Blossom twirled around in happiness that she is finally free.

That's when my life begins!

To finally be in the outside and away from the tower as she watch a flock of birds take to the sky, Blossom had suddenly started to have a conflicting war with herself that she had just disobeyed her mother but glad that she's finally out.

About an hour later since they had left the tower, Blossom had collapsed to her knees and began to cry with her feeling terrible about disobeying Sedusa. To see her like this, Brick approached the weeping girl and said with a gentle hand on her shoulder, "I see that for the past hour, you're having a war with yourself about this. I'm aware that you feel terrible about what would happen when your mother finds out what you did."

Wiping the tears from her eyes and off her cheeks, Blossom reply, "You have no idea."

"Well, since you are having a war with yourself, I'm going to have to let you out of the deal."

To hear him say that, Blossom shot back to her feet and her tears dried off in an instant. "No, I'm seeing those lanterns."

"Thing is if you keep on going through with this war with yourself, it may not be a good idea to keep going."

Trying to stay as calm as she can be, Blossom let out a sigh and said when she looked him in the eye, "Brick, when I make a promise, I never go back on it and I'm not going to let you go back on it."

Crossing his arms at the sight of her seriousness, Brick said, "You really are determined about seeing those lanterns?" With a nod of her head as his reply, Brick sighed and said, "Alright." Standing right next to her, he decided to change the subject, "Are you hungry, Blossom? Because I know a great place to have lunch."

With him leading her and Miss Bellum, Blossom said with a hint of curiosity, "Where are we going?"

"You'll know when you smell it." and he just continued to lead the two, with the thought of him being chased by the law completely out of his mind.