Sam was dressed almost like a cowboy version of Batman without the cape and mask. The big, floppy hat, and flowing long coat made up the difference though. He was also heavily armed with about every medieval weapon and gadget he could carry. He’d need all of it, too. The battle between the Moosemen the Demons was raging just ahead of him.
He thought about yelling out a war cry and diving right in among the Moosemen, having caught a glimpse of his good friend Ha Shu Moose in the melee, but then, spying a large tree overhanging a portion of the battle, he got an idea. Swiftly climbing the trunk and then the hardy lower branches, he perched himself above the Moose Army so he had a clear field of fire of the Demons.
The Hell spawns were trapped between the Moose Castle and its warriors, and the Moosemen from the village, but they were still holding their own. Sam, the Demon Slayer readied his device, which was a cross between a belt-fed machine gun and a crossbow. He unwound the unwieldy belt from his backpack and set up the contraption. It could fire a hundred arrows a minute, which meant he’d be out of ammo in five, but with the Demons all crowded together, that meant he couldn’t miss.
Hacking and slashing left and right with his sword, the Mooseman Ha Shu Moose stood shoulder to shoulder with his Moosemen as they sliced and diced Demon flesh, sending scores of them back to whence they came. The Moose warriors around him were all lightly injured, but they’d seen their share of comrades fall to the enemy. “Have courage, Moosemen! We shall prevail.”
He was trying to sound brave and encouraging, but even with their added numbers, there was no assurance that they would be victorious.
Nine-year-old Landon and his teacher and companion Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon had been walking through the dark and dank maze of tunnels under the grounds surrounding the castle. Only by evading the battle above, could the dragon enact his plan to save the Moose Kingdom, though he had yet to explain to the child exactly what that plan was.
“Are you sure you’re not making this up as you go along, Buddy? After all, we were brought here all of a sudden. It’s not like we had a chance to figure out the mission first.”
“Buddy plan. Buddy have a good plan, Landon. You wait and see.”
Landon had witnessed Buddy recently take on a full-grown Shadow Dragon and blast a hole right through its side with a concentrated stream of flame, and he wondered why he didn’t do the same to the demons. From what they’d seen before, the Moosemen could use all the help they could get.
“Here. Ladder up.”
Sure enough, the dim light in this final tunnel revealed a ladder cut into the stone wall, but looking up, all the boy could see was shadow.
“Up you go.”
“Me? I thought you’d go first.”
“No, you first, Landon. Open trapdoor. Then I’ll fly through.”
The child considered for a moment and then realized the dragon, now the size of a St Bernard, wasn’t exactly built for ladder climbing.
“Okay.” He started climbing the crude ladder but had to be careful since the stone had been worn smooth and felt slick and damp. He used a variation of a heat spell to evaporate the moisture, but then had to wait a few minutes to let the rock cool so he could touch it. Finally he ascended.
He was reaching up in the pitch blackness for the next rung when his hand hit what felt like wood. “The trapdoor.” Landon was worried it might be locked, but when he pushed, the it swung open above him, though with a very loud creak.
Hoisting his body up, he found himself in a round room lined with a dozen doors. There was enough candlelight to make everything out, which wasn’t much since there was no furniture at all.
“Okay, Buddy. You can come up now.”
He stepped back and a second later, the honey-colored dragon soared through the opening. Landon shut the trapdoor as Buddy landed, but the moment he was on the floor, the whole room started spinning and twisting like a carnival ride. The boy didn’t even have time to yell as the dragon fell against one of the doors which quickly opened. Buddy fell through and then the door slammed shut again.
Then as the crazy room kept tilting, spinning, and bumping, he fell through a different door and into the dark.
Ana screamed almost all of the way from the Mooseman village to the battlefield. While Merlyn the Dragon with Alfred the Bunny in the Bow Tie on his back, glided through the air effortlessly, the little girl was weaving, climbing, and diving all over the sky. The magic amulet given to her by Lai Ma Moose, Ha Shu’s wife, gave her the gift of flight, but obviously it took practice to be able to use it right.
“Hey, Dollface,” the Rabbit called. “Settle down. We want to beat up the demons, not wake the dead.”
Ana was too freaked out to think of a comeback line for the smartaleck hare, but then she saw something that scared her even more. It was war.
It was a strange war, because both from the castle and the direction of the village, one side was made of men that also looked a lot like a bunch of moose. In between them were chocolate-dark demons that were just a little taller than she and Landon, but they had small wings, long claws, and nasty facial expressions.
Every time a demon was dispatched, it disappeared in a puff of smoke. There were a lot of puffs of smoke floating in the breeze. Whenever a Mooseman fell, he just fell. The three of them had to do something to help.
“Wait up here, Baby.”
Ana tried to figure out how to hover and Alfred directed Merlyn into a dive. The Rabbit wasn’t armed, but the dragon made a strafing run over the demon’s line, peppering them with hundreds of little fireballs, adding immensely to the smoke and confusion below. She was still bobbing and weaving in the air, but not nearly as much now, so it was getting easier to pick out details, but then she saw something that made her cry out in horror. Just missing her two stuffed animal friends, she witnessed Sam in a tree letting loose with a rapid-fire volley of short arrows.
“Sam! Watch out!”
There was no way Sam could hear her above the din of combat, but Merlyn’s sharp maneuvers kept he and the rabbit from harm.
Finally aware of the airborne allies, Sam changed the angle of his fire, so he picked out a different area from the one being engaged by the two friends.
The man in black had just stopped shooting and the bunny and dragon were making their third run at the demons when it happened. Merlyn dipped a wing a little too low and a demon in its death throes clipped it with his sword. Even high above, Ana heard him scream in pain. Momentum carried them back up for a few seconds, but he couldn’t keep his altitude.
“They’ll fall right into the Demon Army.” Ana had only been practicing staying steady in the air with the amulet for a few minutes and she hoped she was a fast learner. She went into a dive and frantically made all kinds of course corrections in an attempt to meet the faltering dragon in midair.
She collided more than caught them, but with the magic of the talisman, all she had to do was hang on and let it make them all lighter than air.
“Whatever you do to make my magic stronger, do it now, Alfred!” She willed the mystic jewelry to take them straight up while reciting the only spell she knew.
A hundred feet above the field of battle, a brilliant explosion of light blinded everyone on the ground, friend, foe, and ally alike. No one could see to continue the fight.
Landon found himself in a room full of statues. They were all stone Moosemen with swords and armor. It was a really odd-looking museum or whatever it was supposed to be. He started walking and all the statues began to shake. Then one by one, they started to move. Each had a strange glow in its eyes.
Quickly he ducked back down and reached into his belt. A moment later, the statues began to wander aimlessly. Landon had to be careful. The invisibility cloak seemed to work with them, but one of them could still bump into him accidentally. After a minute, they all returned to their original positions and froze, no longer sensing an intruder.
He almost laughed and said “That was easy,” but then he realized that would just activate them again.
The boy reached the far end of the room and a closed door. He tried opening it, but it was locked. Mentally, he reached into the lock with a levitation spell. He could “feel” the locking mechanism, and formed a psychic force key inside. Turning it, the lock clicked, and he opened the latch.
Moving fast, he slipped through and closed the door behind him, just as he saw some of the statues begin to move again. Hopefully, once he was out of the room, they’d go back to being frozen.
Turning, he saw what he first thought was a big, indoor swimming pool. The room was mostly dark, but there were lights shining down from somewhere overhead illuminating the liquid. It wasn’t water. It looked more like that Moose Milk river he’d seen earlier.
On the far side of the pool was a huge, black stone throne, and in front of the throne, sitting on a pedestal, was a cup. It was a fancy gold cup with jewels set into the outer rim. Slowly and invisibly, he walked around the right side of the pool.
Then the door crashed open behind him. It was the statues. Coming into the room must have triggered something. Even though they still couldn’t see him, they knew he was here. Landon looked down. The room was humid. The Moose Milk was in a heated pool to keep it warm, and the heat was causing moisture to form on the floor. He was leaving tracks.
Ana, Alfred, and Merlyn all had their eyes closed when the girl had set off her light spell so they were okay, that is except for one thing. They kept flying straight up. It was getting a lot colder and she was shivering.
“Whatever you’re doing Alfred, turn it off.”
“Me? You’re the one wearing the magic necklace, Kiddo. You turn it off.”
“I don’t know how.”
“Well change direction.”
Ana willed the amulet to change the angle of their flight and they began to level off, but they were still dangerously high. She couldn’t see the fighting anymore. In fact, all she could see was shadowy, dark forest beneath her. It would be night soon, and they might already be lost.
Then she managed to angle downward more, not into a full dive, but she had reduced their altitude enough for them to pick out more features on the ground.
“How are you Merlyn?” Ana took a glance at the injured wing. The demon had managed to cut off a couple of inches and he was bleeding. He still seemed conscious but his eyes were glazed over, like he was in shock.
“We’ve got to get him on the ground soon and figure out a way to heal him.” For the first time since this all began, Alfred sounded scared.
When Sam could see again, he discovered that in spite of all the heroics from the Moosemen and the three otherworldly strangers, the battle was going against them. The Moosemen on the castle side were almost completely obliterated, and nearly half of Ha Shu’s forces were down. True, the number of demons had also been greatly reduced, but out of the ground at their feet, more demons were emerging. Sam knew the Moosemen had no re-enforcements coming.
Ha Shu was now in charge of what was left of the army, all of the other commanders and leaders having been slain. “On your feet, lads. Today, is a good day to die. For honor, king, and family!” The Moosemen all raised their swords and yelling battle cries, charged directly into the demonic ranks in a courageous last-ditch effort to stop the now revived and growing forces from Hell. Win or lose, the fierce combat at the castle in Moose Valley was going to end by sunset.
Inside the castle, Landon had slipped. His invisible body was sliding forward, dangerously close to the edge of the pool, and he was leaving a very visible skid mark behind. The statue soldiers would be on him in a few seconds.
Jumping up, he rounded the corner of the pool and was in front of the throne. It was carved into the wall, so he couldn’t hide behind it, and he didn’t see another door out. He turned and used his levitation spell on the closest three statues. They got lighter, and stumbled around, but they didn’t float much. Maybe it was something about the magic that made them move, or maybe they were too dense to levitate.
Besides his magic and the cloak, he had no other weapons. Then his hand bumped the chalice. Reflexively, he grabbed it intending to throw the cup at the nearest stone warrior, but then a strange feeling came over him.
Ducking under the statue trying to grab him, he slid on his legs toward the pool. This part of the floor in front of the throne wasn’t as moist, so he didn’t leave as big of a trail behind, and it took the statues several seconds to figure out what had happened.
Possessed by a uncontrollable impulse, Landon shed his cloak, returned to visibility, and dipped the grail into the Holy Moose Milk. He raised it to his lips just as the stony soldiers reached him.
It was Buddy’s voice coming from above, but he was too late. Landon was drinking the Holy Grail Moose Milk.
This is the direct sequel to The Battle for the Holy Grail Moose Milk. I had intended to conclude the tale here, but it took longer to set up the various required circumstances than I had anticipated. I’ll be seeing my grandson tomorrow afternoon, and I know he’ll expect another story by then. I had also originally planned for Ana to drink the moose milk, but he was pretty insistent that he be the one. One set of super moose powers coming up in the next chapter.
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.
The next chapter is Victory and Judgment.