Ana was still hanging on to the barely conscious dragon Merlyn and his companion Alfred, the bunny in the bow tie, using her amulet of flight to keep them up in the air. They were just above the treetops when they drifted over a trail. In fact it was the trail, the one that led back to the Moosemen village, and it wasn’t empty.
All of the Moosewomen, led by Ha Shu’s wife Lai Ma Moose, were riding on a herd of moose, the herd that had led Ana to the village in the first place. They were all wearing armor and helmets and carrying spears and swords. The little girl managed to glide in for a landing just a few hundred yards ahead of them, but Lai Ma had to pull up on the reins hard, as did the other Moosewomen warriors, to keep from running over the trio.
Lai Ma quickly dismounted and rushed over to them.
“Can you do anything? He’s hurt.” The child was pleading with her voice and her eyes.
“I believe so. First, let’s get you off of the road.”
Ana used her talisman to make the dragon light enough to float and she, Alfred, and Lai Ma guided him off to the right. By the time they got Merlyn gently settled in the grass, another Moosewoman had joined them, leading her moose mount behind her.
“This is Sha Su, one of the healers of our village. She will help the dragon. The rest of us must go to the battle. The messenger birds brought word that it does not go well.”
“Who’s with the Moosebabies?”
“We left the old Moose Grandparents and teenagers to watch them. They will be safe as long as we can turn the tide and defeat the demons.”
“Then you’d better hurry.” Ana stood and hugged the Moosewoman.
“Yeah, thanks.” Alfred wasn’t his usual cocky self. He knelt beside his friend stroking his forehead.
With a nod, Lai Ma went back and remounted her moose. Then, yelling a fearsome a battle cry, she led her Moosewoman army away at a gallop.
Meanwhile, Sha Su had pulled her pack from the moose and was extracting an arcane collection of potions, wands, and sigils. “I believe I can help.” She poured a strange liquid over the cut wingtip which caused the dragon to wince. Then she opened a book and said words in a language that sounded like a bunch of moose grunts. After that, she waved a wand over the wing with her left hand and what looked like a glowing coin over it with her right.
“Is he going to be okay?”
“We will see young human. We shall see.”
The demon horde kept multiplying and Ha Shu’s forces were being beaten back toward the forest. Sam had joined them on the ground and was battling the demons shoulder to shoulder with his friends.
“We live or die together this day,” Sam cried out as he expertly wielded his sword.
“Aye, to victory or death,” the Mooseman soldier replied.
Then the ground began to shake and everyone stopped fighting to face the castle. The walls were vibrating and the main gate was glowing. Then it opened and shut so fast, it was just a blur. However, in that instant, Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon flew out and skyward, but he wasn’t the only one who had left the castle of the Holy Grail Moose Milk.
No one could quite tell what it was. It could have been a tornado with legs. But whatever had come out of the castle gates was moving faster than the wind and was cutting through the demonic forces like a super-speed scythe, dropping the dark winged hellspawn left and right. The air was full of sulphur and smoke and demons perished by the hundreds. They all died faster than their number could be replenished from Hell.
The evil imps knew that some mysterious force was defeating them, moving far too quickly to be opposed or even seen. They burst through the Moosemen line and fled down the trail only to be confronted by the vast army of Moosewomen who ran right through them on their still galloping mounts.
Demon screams and moose brays filled the air with a loud and horrible din as the minions of the evil one were finally and utterly destroyed between two bizarre attackers.
After the last demon was gone and everyone was sure that no new ones were appearing, the thick smoke was blown away by something spinning faster than the worlds most powerful fan. When it stopped, everyone saw it was Landon, and he was holding at least seven different weapons and grinning like a fiend.
“The Holy Grail Moose Milk,” whispered Ha Shu. “It’s the only answer.”
“But I thought it was forbidden for any but the Moose Kings and Gods to drink of it.” Sam sat down heavily, exhausted from all the fighting.
Buddy was still gliding overhead, alternately watching the sun resting on the western horizon and the litter of Moosemen bodies below.
Then the little boy started blinking in and out of existence, and the remaining Moosemen and the now present Moosewomen realized he was teleporting from one dead Mooseman to another, bringing them back to life with the Moose Milk power. By the end of five minutes, the entire Moosepeople population had been restored with no loss of life at all.
They all stood and cheered, “Landon! Landon! Landon!” The boy from Earth was a hero, but not to everyone. In the swiftly darkening sky above, Buddy shook his head. Then he flew back toward the castle and was gone.
There was a big party and celebration at the gates of the castle that night. Sha Su had brought Ana, Alfred, and the now revived and healing Merlyn to rejoin the rest.
Landon was held in extremely high esteem by the Moosepeople, and so were Ana, Alfred, and Merlyn, though they hadn’t contributed quite as much to the victory. The only thing that bothered the boy was that his friend Buddy had left. Why wasn’t he here? He thought the golden dragon mage would be really impressed.
By the time they were all ready to go to sleep, Landon’s Holy Grail Moose Milk powers had worn off. Having been invincible, there was no way the demons could have possibly defeated him, no matter how many of them there were. Also, the super speed, the ability to teleport, and being able to make any type of weapon ever, really did the trick in wiping them out. He wondered why the ancient Moose Kings hadn’t just drank it and gotten rid of the demons themselves.
Everyone camped out at the castle that night. Ha Shu had tried to open the castle doors but they were locked. Even the resurrected castle Moosemen guards couldn’t get in. Fortunately, there were enough tents, sleeping bags, and food so they were all comfortable, and Landon hadn’t camped out in a long time.
Ana was in her sleeping bag in her tent with Alfred and Merlyn. The pair was sound asleep, but the girl was worried about being gone from home so long. Her Mom and brother had seen the bunny and two dragons flying, and even saw Ana being pulled into the air. She would have a lot of explaining to do when she got back home, or if she did. Buddy was missing and there was no sign of the Moose Kings, so who was left to send them back to Earth?
In spite of the children’s worries, they fell sleep. A chilly dawn arrived in the moose realm, and with it, the opening of the Moose Castle gates. The Moose guards immediately entered and took up their duties, and the rest of the Moose army prepared to go in and pay homage to their Kings. But before any of that could happen, a voice came out of the gates, a deep and booming voice.
“Outworlders. Only you may enter. The guards will escort you to the throne room. Prepare to accept judgment.”
“Judgment?” Landon was confused. “What judgment? It should be reward. I saved everybody’s life and got rid of the demons.”
“But lad,” Ha Shu put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “It’s forbidden for a commoner to drink of the Holy Grail Moose Milk.”
“I couldn’t help it. When I touched the grail, it’s like something came over me.”
“You should have watched your tush, kiddo,” the bunny added. I almost drank the stuff once, and the Kings had a fit, banishing me from their kingdom.”
“You’ve been here before?”
“Yeah. I’ve got lots of stories to tell.”
“Outworlders,” uttered the voice. “Enter the castle now.”
Feeling like Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow confronting the Wizard of Oz, the quartet walked through the gates and down the great corridor in the company of the Mooseguard escorts.
Long minutes later, they found themselves in front of the ebony throne with the Moose Milk pool to their backs. The grail had been removed lest it tempt Landon or anyone else to partake. The greatest of the Moose Kings was seated on the throne and to his right sat Buddy.
“What’s going on?” Landon was curious, but especially about how Buddy was involved.
“Explain to your student, Ambrosial Dragon.”
“Demons cursed the Kings so they couldn’t drink from the Grail. Made Grail poison.”
“Poison?” Landon touched his throat and experimentally swallowed to see if he still felt okay.
“That’s why Kings needed help and called us. Called all magicals from Earth. Got four of us. My plan was to get Kings out of castle, break curse, then bring them Holy Grail Moose Milk. You drank first.”
“But I didn’t know what the plan was, Buddy,” the boy protested. “You never told me. Besides, I couldn’t help it. The second I touched the Grail, something took over my mind.”
“Grail magic. Touching it makes you want to drink.”
“The same thing happened to me.”
“Silence, Rabbit,” shouted the King. “You were already banished from our presence once, and you would not be here now if our need hadn’t been so great.” The rabbit started shaking in his bow tie.
“And besides, that crazy round room dumped me in with those statue guards. This was the only way out. It wasn’t my fault.”
“King recognizes you couldn’t control trap room. Big accident. Whole bunch of coincidences.”
“So why judgment? I saved everyone, didn’t I? How much longer do you think the Moosemen would have lasted if I hadn’t jumped in.”
“Maybe long enough for me to get milk to Kings. We’ll never know now.”
“So what happens next?”
“Child of Earth,” the King rumbled. “We recognize your heroism and that you were not fully in control of the circumstances, and fortunately, you not being cursed, the poison in the Grail did not affect you. We do thank you for saving our people, but the law must still be obeyed, and a commoner does not partake of the Holy Grail Moose Milk.”
Buddy hopped over to Landon and the others. “Consequences. Consequences.”
“Like what?” Ana sounded worried.
“So what?” The Bunny snapped at the King. Bring it on. Do your worst.” Alfred had his fists balled up and then remembered that Merlyn was still on the mend, and maybe picking a fight with a giant moose king wasn’t the best idea right now.
“Loss of days,” intoned the King. “You shall lose the days you were in our realm and be returned to yours just before the time you were brought here. It is done.”
In the blink of an eye, without even the opening of a portal or a cyclone or anything, Landon, Buddy, and Alfred found themselves back in the boy’s bedroom. He’d just gotten home from school, but in this altered version of reality, the bunny hadn’t snuck out to find Merlyn at Ana’s house.
“Not everything went back, then.” Landon pulled his invisibility cloak out of his belt. “If it had, I wouldn’t have this with me, since I took it after that moose cloud showed up in the sky.”
“And I’d still be at Ana’s.”
“So would I and good thing we’re not, Bunny,” the dragon scolded.
At that same instant, Ana was finishing her snack at in the kitchen back home. Her brother was looking at his homework, and the girl returned to her room. She opened her backpack and found what Sha Su had given her. A book about learning healing and a small collection of potions, talismans, and wands. She was going to teach herself moose healing.
She also touched her shirt and felt the amulet underneath. She wouldn’t need to learn levitation spells. Ana already knew how to fly.
Finally, the adventure in the moose realm has come to an end, but with some surprising revelations, especially for Ana. Let’s hope she uses her new abilities wisely and that Landon doesn’t suffer any side effects from consuming Holy Grail Moose Milk.
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 The Quest to Save Landon.