Stop! Don’t read this unless you’ve first read The Runaway Stuffed Rabbit!
Alfred the Rainbow Rabbit sitting on the back of Merlyn the Dragon shot up into the air over Ana’s backyard like a bullet.
The nine-year-old girl’s Mom witnessing the astonishing sight nearly fainted, and the Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon followed the pair a scant second later. As Ana ran outside after all of them, a sudden whirlwind picked her up, and she flew into the air after all three of the supernatural beings.
Her Mom screamed, terrifying Ana’s little brother as he stared at these amazing events from the family’s back patio.
“Buddy! What are you doing? What’s going on?”
The dragon didn’t seem to hear the girl as all four of them continued to soar skyward toward a strange, black cloud.
Landon had just gotten home from school, but he couldn’t find Buddy anywhere.
“I think he went to find Alfred.” Grandpa saw Landon searching around the house and guessed what he was looking for.
“Alfred’s gone too?”
“I think he was trying to see his dragon friend Merlyn.”
“But I told him we’d see him Sunday.”
“I don’t think the rabbit is particularly patient.”
“Oh great…” The boy paused for a second, sensing that something had gone wrong with magic. Then he rushed outside and into the backyard. He saw a dark cloud in the northwest in the direction of Ana’s house, and then spied four tiny figures in the air racing toward it.
The littler dragon and bunny were just specks in the sky, but Ana and Buddy were large enough for him to recognize.
“Something’s wrong, Grandpa. I don’t think Buddy is in control of his magic.”
Before Grandpa could answer, the child ran back into his room. Seconds later, he came back out donning his invisibility cloak. Then he used a levitation spell to ascend from the backyard, and as he climbed toward the cloud that was drawing the others, he vanished.
“Yo ho, Merlyn! Just like I thought. The Moose Gods are up to their mischief again.”
He was yelling loud enough for Buddy to hear. “Oh no, not Moose Gods. Not, not, not.”
The cloud kept changing shape and started to resemble a large moose head with huge antlers. Then where the mouth would be, a white mist formed. It looked like the moose cloud was about to eat them.
“Onward, Merlyn. Into the breach.”
“Besides, I can’t change course anyway,” the dragon replied.
“Minor point,” declared the rabbit.
They were the first to disappear.
“Buddy!” Ana saw what had just happened and knew she and the dragon were next. “Help!”
“No help. No control. Hang on, Ana.”
Landon was rapidly approaching from the dragon’s and girl’s right, but they couldn’t see him. He’d used his invisibility cloak to keep people on the ground from witnessing a flying boy, but it probably didn’t matter, because all they had to do was look up to see two dragons, a rabbit, and a little girl streaking through the air like Superman.
“Buddy!” The dragon and girl could hear Landon but not see him. The boy tried every spell he could think of, but nothing worked. Then he realized that he’d lost control of his levitation spell, too. He was heading for the same wide-open mouth that had swallowed Alfred and Merlyn.
As it turned out, all three of them got there at the same time. The trio collided as they entered and then everything turned black.
Ana woke up in a field. She was cold again and getting sick and tired of being transported to places with frigid weather. Why couldn’t she go through a portal and come out on the beach of a warm, tropical island for once?
The sky was blue with a few thin clouds. Then something with a huge tongue licked her face.
“Oh, yuk. Ew.” She looked up. It was a moose. It wasn’t threatening her. In fact, it seemed kind of affectionate. It licked her face again and she wiped the wet mess on her sleeve.
She sat up to see she was in the middle of a whole herd of moose, or mooses, or whatever they were called when there was more than one. “Why a bunch of moose?”
They responded by mooing and braying, kicking up a really big racket. All she could see was a whole bunch of them, a wide, green field, and then a verdant forest beyond. Buddy, Merlyn, and Alfred were nowhere to be found. Had she heard Landon’s voice right before she passed out?
Ana stood up. “Now what do I do?”
As if in answer, her companion moose nudged her in the back with its snout.
“Hey, cut it out.”
It made an obnoxious noise and nudged her again in the same direction.
“Is that the way you want me to go?”
It nodded its head “yes.”
So the little girl began the long and stately march across the lowlands and into the forest with the herd.
“Oh, my head. Where am I?” Alfred, the Bunny in the Bow Tie, shielded his eyes from the light. Then a form took shape, a face, the face of someone half man and half moose.
“It’s you, Ha Shu. Oh heck. That means I’m in the…”
“That’s right, Alfred. You’re in the Moose Village. How did you and Merlyn get turned into stuffed toys?”
The Rabbit sat up on the sofa he’d been laying on in his old friend’s living room and saw the stuffed dragon on the floor playing with three little moose people babies.
“Long story. Since when did you have a wife and kids?”
“It’s been a while time since you’ve visited.”
“And with good reason. The Moose Gods don’t exactly like me.”
“You tried to drink from the Holy Grail Moose Milk. Of course they don’t like you.”
“I was thirsty. I thought it was a milkshake.”
“You are such a blockhead, and now one stuffed with cotton.”
“Watch it, Pal.”
Then they hugged. “I’ve missed you, too, though I thought you’d get along with gods better, given your pedigree.”
“It’s not something I like to talk about.”
“Honey, do your friends want anything to eat?”
“That’s my wife Lai Ma in the kitchen.”
“Well, I could do with a bit of a snack. It was a long flight. How about you, Merlyn?”
“I’ll leave you in my wife’s care then.”
“Why? Where are you going?”
“Honey, did you hear me?”
“Yes, dear. Go ahead and make them a couple of Moose Milk Grilled Cheese sandwiches. I’ve got to leave with the others.”
“Wait a second.”
Lai Ma came into the living room and gave her husband Ha Shu a long, lingering hug. “You come back to us safely, you hear? You have a family that needs you.”
“My King and my Land needs me, too. If I don’t go with the rest and if we don’t fight, the enemy will come here for the rest of you.”
“I know. I just love you so much.”
“I love you too, honey.” Alfred turned away with embarrassment as the couple kissed while thinking, “Oh brother.”
“Sorry, Alfred. I’ve got to join the other soldiers. You came at a very bad time, but then maybe that’s the reason you’re here at all.”
“Wait. I just got here. Why are you leaving?”
“Lai Ma will explain. Bye.”
Before the bunny could respond, his Moose Man friend was out the door. Alfred could hear the sound of marching outside. Someone was singing a battle hymn, but it was in the old moose language, so it was hard for him to understand.
“I’ll go make those sandwiches now.”
“Wait. What’s going on? Where did he go?”
“War. The demons invaded. They’re after the Holy Grail Moose Milk.”
“Oh wow! If they drank enough of that stuff, they’d be powerful enough to rule the whole Moose Kingdom.”
“It’s already started. Why do you think you had the accident that brought you here? My husband said the Moose Gods are really desperate this time. They cried out into the realms for anyone who could help fight of the menace.”
“Oh heck. So that’s what happened. We are way up a bad creek without a paddle.”
The sound of marching Moose Men soldiers faded in the distance as the Moose Woman returned to the kitchen to make her husband’s friends a snack. Alfred saw that Merlyn was continuing to play with the precocious Moose Triplets. It was such an ordinary scene to be used as the backdrop of an epic war that could cause havoc even in the human world.
“Trouble, trouble, trouble.”
Landon woke up to hear his friend muttering to himself. He opened his eyes to see they were at the edge of a forest and facing a castle under siege. He was visible again. Buddy must have taken off his cloak or it had fallen off at his feet.
Then he looked up and saw an insane number of demons were circling a large castle with imposing battlements and towers, and displaying the standard of a Moose.
“What’s going on, Buddy? How did we get here?”
“Trouble, trouble, trouble.”
“Yeah, I get it. Demons are trouble, but what’s happening?”
“Long story. Hard to explain. This Moose Realm, run by Moose Gods, home of both moose and Moose Men.”
“What? That sounds crazy.”
“You live with stuffed animals. Is that crazy?”
Landon thought a second and figured the answer must be “no.”
“Why are all the demons here?”
“Best guess is Holy Grail Moose Milk.”
“Drink it and it makes you powerful, powerful as the gods, invincible. Demons want it. Conquer other worlds with it, even human world.”
“Already breaking magic. Moose Gods called and made us answer. It’s why we’re here. Why Ana, Alfred, and Merlyn are here, too.”
“Ana! That’s right. Where is she?”
“Don’t know. Only know Moose Gods are the cause. They broke magic in our world. Moose Gods needed help. Sent for us.”
“We’ve lost Ana again. She’s out there in this crazy world somewhere and she needs help.”
“If we don’t stop the demons, she won’t be alone in needing help.”
“What can we do?”
“Come with me. Know secret entrance. Get past the demons.”
Landon picked up his cloak, folded it and put it in his pocket, and then followed his friend and teacher, the dragon.
“Where are we going?”
Ana kept asking that question, but these were animals, so they couldn’t answer except to nod. She thought maybe they could say more since she’d seen and heard stranger things, but it didn’t seem to work.
They’d been following a trail through the mountain forest for hours. Fortunately, the herd was able to keep her warm until the sun got high enough. Then thy stopped at a fork in the road.
“Don’t you know which way to go?”
In response, the head bull moose let out a roar which made Ana jump. Then a few seconds later, a man emerged from the left fork.
“It’s just me. You’ve heard the news. I’d have been here sooner, but I had a job in the Southlands. Turns out a renegade party of demons had broken off from their army and were raiding some of the human villages. Speaking of which, who’s your guest?”
Ana was surprised to see a human being here.
He was a really scary looking human being, though. He was dressed all in black, including a big, floppy black hat, long black coat over a black leather vest, black leather pants, black turtle neck sweater, black gloves and black boots. He had every kind of weapon Ana had ever heard of such as pistols, rifles, crossbows, knives, and a few things she wasn’t sure about.
The really funny thing was the herd didn’t seem scared of him at all. In fact, he walked right up to the bull moose leader and petted his nose.
“Who are you?”
“Name’s Sam. Who are you?”
“Ana, you don’t look like you come from around here.”
“Do you? I didn’t expect any other people.”
“You’re from the human world, aren’t you?”
He slowly walked among the herd toward her. “Relax, I’m not here to hurt you. And no, I’m from right here. There are plenty of human villages and towns in the Moose realm, and we’ve been allies for who knows how long. We like it here, except for the demons who keep invading.”
“Come on. I was just about to go to the Moose Man village. Your friends were taking you there, too.”
“You can talk to them?”
“No, of course not. They’re herd animals. But we’ve become friends. I’ve saved the Moose Men more than once.”
“I am so confused.”
“Come with us. The bridge over the Moose Milk River is just ahead to the right.”
Ana found out that the name of the river wasn’t just imagination. When they got to the long, wide wooden bridge, it was crossing over a river of milk, real milk. She wondered if it really were the milk of a bunch of moose mothers. Then as they got to the other side, she saw as strange tree that had branches in the shape of moose antlers.
“The milk in that river is very special, but it’s not what the demons want.”
“Where are they? In fact, where is everyone?”
“The men have already left for the war. The demons have the castle under siege. If they take it and get to the pool of Holy Grail Moose Milk, we’ll have lost.”
“Hey! Baby! Glad to see you made the party.”
Ana saw a familiar figure in the doorway of a large hut halfway up the main street. “Alfred!”
She ran away from Sam and past the herd, got to the bunny, and gave him a big hug. “You’re here, too. Where’s Merlyn?”
“Inside finishing his grilled cheese sandwich and playing with the babies.”
Then Ana saw a woman come to the door and stand behind the bunny, except she wasn’t exactly a woman. It was like she was a moose person, which she thought shouldn’t surprise her, but every time she had one of these adventures, she always got another surprise.
“My name is Lai Ma Moose. Welcome to my home. Alfred and Merlyn have told me so much about you.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Ana shook her hand not knowing what else to do.
“Good to see you again, Sam. Ha Shu and the others are already gone.”
“Yes, I know, Lai Ma. I’m going after them. After all, I am a demon hunter, so my place is at your husband’s side.”
“I don’t know if you’re going to make it this time, Sam.”
“I’ve got to try. You know that.”
“I do. Can you stay for a minute? The children would love to see you.”
“Better not. I’m late enough as it is. Got to go. The herd will stay to guard over you and the rest of the village.”
“If our army loses, no power in the realms will be able to protect us.”
“We’ll win. I promise.”
“Good luck, Sam.”
“Bye, Lai Ma. You too, Ana. Nice meeting you.”
“Hey, what am I, chopped liver?”
“Sorry, rabbit. I’ve got to go.”
With that, Sam tugged on the brim of his hat, turned, and followed the road out of the other side of town.
“Come on in, Baby. You hungry. I’m sure Lai Ma can make you a sandwich. These Moose Milk Grilled Cheese sandwiches are to die for.”
“Tunnel lead inside. Underground tunnel.”
Buddy had taken Landon back into the forest and found a particular tree, which to the little boy’s eyes, didn’t look any different from any other tree. Then he pressed four different parts of the trunk in a specific order and a door opened.
“In you go, Landon. In, in, in.”
The nine year old used a light spell for illumination and descended the spiral staircase. He could hear Buddy following him, and then the sound of the tree’s door shutting. Reaching the bottom, there was only one way to go. They’d have to travel directly under the demons, the castle wall, and into the unknown.
Having finished her sandwich and been brought up to date on events by Alfred, Merlyn, and Lai Ma, Ana realized that all of the crazy events that happened back at home hadn’t been the bunny’s and the dragon’s fault. Something from here had broken magic in the human world, and the gods of this realm had called them here to help.
“We can’t stay here, then. If we have the power to help, we should help.”
“I sympathize, Dollface, but you’re not exactly a Master Magician.”
“Didn’t you tell me once you can amplify magic?”
“Yes, but you only know one spell.”
“It’s better than nothing. For all we know, Buddy and Landon are in the middle of that siege. We have to do something.”
“Maybe this will help.” Lai Ma had left the room for a moment and came back holding an object.
“What is it?” Ana held out her hand as the Moose Woman placed the item into her palm.
“A Levitation Amulet. Sam gave it to me as a wedding gift last year.”
“How does it work?”
“Just put it on and imagine where you want to go. Are you afraid of flying?”
Ana wasn’t afraid of airplanes, but she knew that’s not what Lai Ma meant.
“I guess I’m going to find out.”
“You’re sure about this?”
“We have to go, Alfred.”
“I guess you’re right. Ha Shu is one of my oldest friends. I suppose I can’t let him down now. Especially since he has a family depending on him.”
Ana stood. “Thanks for everything. If we can help, we will.”
“I know you will, dear. It’s been good to meet some of Ha Shu’s friends.
“Come on, Baby. If we’re going to go, let’s go.”
The triplets were taking their afternoon nap, so Merlyn couldn’t say good-bye to them.
“If this works, you’ll see them again, Pal.” Alfred patted his friend’s shoulder.
“Thanks for the sandwiches, Mrs. Moose. We’re taking off.”
Ana put the amulet around her neck and followed the Rabbit and the Dragon outside. Alfred climbed up on Merlyn’s back. “Ready to make like Iron Man?”
“I guess.” Ana wasn’t sure of anything right at the moment except that she had to do something.
“Then let’s go!” Alfred nudged Merlyn’s sides with his feet and they shot upward. Ana imagined flying after them and then she was. Squealing, she soared up and up after the bunny on his dragon mount.
Lai Ma watched them ascend into the air and then vanish in the distance.
At the battlefront, the Moose Men Army finally arrived. “This is it, boys!” Ha Shu was the commander of his platoon. The Moose Army were tens of thousands strong and armed to the antlers. He raised his sword high and shouted, “Charge!”
The mighty Army ran out of the forest and down toward the vast horde of demons assailing the castle, forcing their foe to fight on two fronts. As the clash began, both demons and Moose Men fell, and the fate of the moose and human worlds was about to be decided for the next ten thousand years.
As you saw at the top, this is the immediate sequel to The Runaway Stuffed Rabbit. I’m writing this fantasy series for my nine-year-old grandson, and right now, it’s based on both some of his toys and his interest in something called Moosecraft.
The two of us play this sort of role playing game where we each make up characters and have adventures. My character is “Sam” and his is “Ha Shu,” and together, we’ve been fighting demons and doing all kinds of crazy things. Yes, it includes a Moose Milk River, a Moose Tree, and something called Holy Grail Moose Milk. I decided to put all of that into this story arc.
Welcome to the latest entry in the series of adventures I’ve been writing for my grandson for the better part of two years now. To read the series from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.