The Amazing Tales of Princess Amelia – chapter 4

The Amazing Tales of Princess Amelia

Chapter 4:-

Characters in this tale may still not be based on real people.

As Reese, Harry and Amelia entered the hedge maze, they could hear the feint sound of beautiful music coming from deeper within. They looked at each other with eyes widened in wonder and excitement. It sounded like birdsong mixed with the joyous strings of many harps and with a tempo that made their hearts race.

“Children come inside now!” yelled nanny Margs from the stone stairs. “Your mummies want you bathed for dinner right now. Hurry, hurry, my little angels” she called. The children stopped and looked at each other in disappointment. “Let’s keep going” said Harry. “It will only take five minutes, even to the middle”. “You said that last time Harry” mocked Reese “and they had to came find us half an hour later”. “Well maybe we can sneak out later, after they put us to bed” suggested Amelia, but noting their disapproving faces quickly added “Or better still tomorrow morning after breakfast”. “Ok” Reese sighed “We better go”, and they raced each other back to the castle stairs and nanny Margs’ loving nanny arms. “C’mon then little Prince and Princesses” she said leading them back inside.

For some reason she had felt very uneasy, since watching the children running toward the hedge maze, and was relieved that she’d called them back. It wasn’t bath time yet so that was a fib, and their mummies hadn’t actually said a thing. But with all the recent goings on, and the Kings not yet having returned with their soldiers, there was a general disquiet in the castle. She glanced back at the maze from the doorway, and noticed something red and wavy move back down into the hedges. “What on earth?” she exclaimed, feeling a dreadful chill running up her spine, and knew that her instincts were right. She rushed the children through to the Royal Highnesses and breathlessly explained what she’d seen. “And we heard music” yelled Harry enthusiastically. “Please mum, can we go and look?” “No!” yelled nanny Margs alarmed, instantly realizing her lack of decorum in the presence of royalty. “I’m so sorry Prince Harry!” she whispered, tears welling in her eyes. Queen Stephania already felt great disquiet at the late return of the others from the caves but didn’t wish to alarm the children. “Perhaps we’ll all go and look in the morning. Ok Honey?” she said gently, patting Harry on the shoulder. Queen Emma looked at nanny Margs with concern for her fear and upset. “Thank you nanny Margs. You most definitely did the right thing”

Harry hated being called honey, especially in front of his cousin. He started going red but Amelia piped up, becoming concerned “Where’s everybody? Why aren’t they back yet?” Queen Emma explained that they had sent out two riders ten minutes ago to find out what was happening. “ I’m sure that they are still studying all the amazing discoveries out there my angel. They’ll be back soon I’m certain” she said as calmly as she could, but she certainly did not feel calm. Whether or not something awful had happened, the royal party would have kept them regularly informed with riders. Three hours earlier, the lack of any returning rider’s messages had prompted the twenty strongly armed response team to head off for the caves, but still not one rider had returned. “Right! Off to supper little ones and then bath and pyjamas as always. Thank you nanny Margs.”

“I think we should definitely fortify dear” she said quietly to Queen Stephania. Queen Stephania called for Roger Model-Aircroft, the Master at Arms, and ordered him to initiate immediate lock down of the castle and give the villagers the half hour alarm to come within the castle walls, before the drawbridges be raised. Roger was pleased that they had considered his advice and rushed out to implement the final preparations against attack.

The guards rapidly ran about the castle drawing the thick barrier planks across all entry doors and window shutters of the Central Keep, and instructing staff to spread the message that no door or window be opened without the presence of the Master of Arms himself, no matter who calls to enter, even if a child. The royal children stared in surprise as three guards, mumbling apologies and bowing, came in during their meal and shut the sunset from their view at the supper table. Amelia was feeling a little alarmed as three large heavy oak timbers were lifted into the window slots, clattering loudly and latched in place. This temporary dining area in the Keep stronghold, was already rather dark, even with the colourful drapes hastily erected against the stone walls. The great fire was then lit by the servants as were the wall torches, and the warm radiance lifted their spirits again. A yummy milk rice pudding, with finely chopped sweet pear and custard was placed before them and laughter was back in the air with excited conversations about the most extraordinary day.

The Master of Arms and three of his guard, stood on the lower battlement, doors locked and heavily barriered behind them. Roger had his arms folded and looking out toward the caves, awaiting the return of last two riders he had sent. One soldier was to go in, but no further than the fifth cave and the other wait below, still mounted on his horse, for his report. The mounted soldier was to wait no longer than five minutes, before returning in haste. He was not to dismount for any reason whatsoever.

“Ah, there they be, the dallying slugs!” Roger yelled in some relief, as he saw the puffs of dust in the distance. “Open the gates!” he shouted down at the gatekeepers. The two horsemen galloped into the courtyard, rapidly dismounting. Roger and his men clunked down the outer spiral stone stair to the courtyard, swords clanking against their leg armour, and marched up to his men, who snapped to attention. They both had worried looks on their faces.

“What happened?” barked Master of Arms Roger. “No one be there Master Roger. I yelled ‘till sore throat down that tunnel but no luck. Be quiet as a mouse and square room empty. Grim and Sam should’ve been watching there, like told” said the man, looking grim. “Ok, boys, get inside. Pete, you come with me!” he ordered. “Keep your eyes skinned or I’ll skin ‘em for you!” he yelled at the others. He marched quickly through to the Keep to report to the Queen.

Night was falling rapidly, so the guards began lighting the torches and then a big crackling bonfire in the fire pit, which was roughly middle of the courtyard, not because it was particularly cold, but more to bring them comfort against the dark unknown. Men sat around the fire on large logs, some occasionally shivering and looking sharply around, but not wanting to show any sign of fear in front of their buddies.

Rumours and wild guesses were running rampant amongst the men, since an earlier rider, Harps One Eye, returned from the caves late the same morning, a little after the royal Highnesses party returned with the children, and had reported to Master Roger. Those in earshot heard about Grandpa Ant’s stories of the dreadful witch Red Wasp and of the magic images of the giant boat in the globe. The last thing Harps One Eye had himself seen of the King El and the Royal party, was of them opening that outer door. Queen Stephania and Emma had left the caves ten minutes earlier with the children. When he left for the castle, two guards had still been in the Square room and four left at the entrance to the first cave as instructed. And yet the last riders back  reported no men at all! They would never have disobeyed orders, so where had they gone? Little wonder Master Roger  had looked so concerned

Matthew and Grandpa Ant faced the sparkling black wall, considering whether to risk cutting into it with the ExCaleebra swords. There were potential great risks, from something so powerful that the Red Wasp Tallia herself could not break through, but if they could do it, then perhaps the witch would be grateful and leave them all, and his dear friend Merklin, in peace. “There were dusty piles of old human bones everywhere on that boat Dad, and another dead Terraloon. I think that those creatures killed most of these people when they escaped. It must have been a very long time ago from what we saw, which by the way, was of only a small area of that massive vessel. Such mind boggling things on board that none of us could even guess at their true purpose.”

“Well let’s hope that we survive this son so that we can explore it further. Stand back into the tunnel” he said against Matthew’s mutterings of dissent “whilst I attempt a first cut. I won’t risk us both and if I am hurt, I will need you to tell the others”. Matthew reluctantly stood behind the tunnel corner, but stuck his head out, watching in trepidation.

Grandpa started by gently touching his sword to the black wall. Little star sparkles radiated gently away from sword tip. He then pushed the tip harder against the wall, and as it slowly penetrated, much to Grandpa’s surprise and restrained excitement, myriads of little stars raced out from the area where the ExCaleebra tip cut. He pushed it in further, against even greater resistance than the obsidian rock, and with the crackling sound of a bonfire, sparks started shooting up the length of his sword, but didn’t burn. He decided to withdraw the sword, and as he feared, the cut immediately closed. Matthew came forward, cursed and hacked hard at the wall, creating a loud explosion of sparks, but his sword had penetrated. He released his grip on the sword, and it sat fast with its point a foot into the wall, the sparkling stars radiating out from his blade. “Now what Pop?” They both stood staring in wonder at this miraculous wall. A strange idea popped into grandpa’s mind.

“Leave your sword son, and I will push mine in over here”. As Grandpa pushed his sword into the wall, to the left of Matt’s, a strange thing happened. With a soft but rapid popping sound, a deep six inch wide gash in the sparkling fabric appeared horizontally between the two swords, stopping an inch off the blades themselves. “Whoa! What just happened there, Dad?” asked a shocked Matthew, jumping back. Grandpa approached and carefully felt into the dark recess. It was solid above and below, but not behind. He could not feel a back wall to the opening. It was just pitch black. He found that he could reach his entire arm into the opening, which was just wide enough, and wriggle his hands about behind the wall.

The wall material was just over a foot thick. “Did you also bring your dagger Matt?” Grandpa Ant asked. Matt opened his tunic. “Good. Strike yours in about three feet below your sword and I’ll do the same here” he said hurriedly, pushing his dagger right up to its hilt, at the same time as his son. The wall complained loudly in a rain of little popping sparks, but lo and behold, there lay an opening about three foot square, created between the four ExCaleebra blades. “Holy, holy one horned horse” they both exclaimed laughing. They carefully looked into the room beyond, and although dark, they could make out some distant shapes, reflecting the light from their side of the wall.

“After you Pop” Matthew said with a smile. Grandpa pondered for a while before looking serious and exclaiming. “Matt, we need more daggers, so that we can do the same from the inside and close off the wall against the Witch; after we’ve rescued Amelia of course.” he added “Actually no, that won’t work, because even if we managed such a thing, she would then probably murder everyone else. But I would certainly feel safer with my sword in hand. Only one of us should go through for a quick look first, just in case. But we must hurry!” Matthew gestured, and Grandpa crouched and leaped through the opening with a lit torch.

The cavern was so huge that Grandpa couldn’t see walls or roof, with the torch flame he held. He had an idea! He went back to the opening. “ Matt, remove and pass me one of the daggers as quick as you can. With a small swirl of sparks, the square opening quickly became a triangle, which is just what Grandpa hoped. Once Matt passed him the dagger through the triangular opening, Grandpa pushed it in from his side of the wall, and the square opening again formed. This was repeated with the other dagger and both swords, one at a time, until the square opening was now formed from Grandpa’s side. Matthew climbed through the opening and then to his surprise, his father removed the two daggers, leaving a narrow slot between swords, through which they could see the Red Wasp when she returned. Lifting their glowing blade daggers up before them, they walked carefully forward. “Not enough light Pop!” Matthew whispered.

Tallia, known by her legend name Red Wasp, floated just high enough to watch the children run off, back to the castle. The female looked back at her and she decided to drop back out of sight for now. She could just kill them all, as she had hundreds of thousands over the centuries, but she was in no rush. She had grown a little tired of all that easy slaughter; slaughter she had relished in the early years after being awoken finally by one of her own guard servants, the ones these puny humans called ‘Terraloons’. She liked that name. The science of the Azlantids was more advanced than her own civilization, and after the war they had captured many of her people and guard servants. She did not know what had happened to her space faring companions, but she was held captive, tortured and eventually placed in a freezing pod for well over four hundred years, before three of her ‘Terraloons’ had found her, easily dispatching of any who stood in their way, damaging equipment which had thankfully kick-started her unfreezing process. The Azlantids had moved on, many years before and settled in new lands about this world, ruling and even interbreeding with the humans, when their kind finally weakened. Her hatred had driven Tallia of Mog, to hunting down and destroying remaining Azlantids and any armies that tried to protect them. Although the two Azlantids brother and sister pyramid builders (the last God Pharoahs to the peoples they ruled) had enormous powers at hand, and chased her for another three centuries, she bided her time and struck when they were stretched by war. Access to their weapons and science had made her invincible. But the Azlantids had long before hidden her starship, as well as the remaining large quantum drives from their two surviving airship rescue vessels and space-jumper.

Over the centuries she had hunted down and found many of the hidden depositories of the Azlantid weapons and knowledge, and learned to use their powers. The golden rod from the south-western continent had been her most treasured weapon to date, until she found the second Azlantids ship, here in this crater half-way around the world, two hundred and fifty years ago. She released the poor captive Terraloons from their cages and left them to take revenge on the crater’s inhabitants. The one remaining pure blood Azlantid faired haired ‘Goddess’ Athena, had been kept in living-pod stasis in the square room. When Tallia had finally broken through, Athena had somehow been whisked away during the attack. Even under great duress, the remaining inhabitants would not or could not reveal her whereabouts, nor open the black wall to her, but had finally revealed that behind it was where her Starship and this Ship’s quantum drive lay.

After continued failed attempts to gain access through the black wall, she returned to searching the outside world for the Azlan quantum material. More recently the name Merlin had drawn her attention but she could not locate him. He eluded her every attempt to find him. A week ago, there was mention of a man at the Jewel castle at Apple who may know him personally. That was near her easily-conquered Azlantid crater she realised.

She decided first to revisit the black wall and unsuccessfully tried a new weapon, directing a powerful cutting light through the rock to the black wall. This blast of extreme heat rose rapidly into the air, creating an instant and massive lightning storm, which radiated out in all directions.

For days she sat at the rose sphere, which sat in a hexagonal room just prior to entering the black wall cavern. She was again looking through all the old recordings, hoping to find a missed clue to help her get to her starship. Suddenly she noticed on her rose sphere, that there was another broadcast occurring from the circle room’s com-sphere on the other side of the crater. Impossible she thought. She flicked rapidly through the room views until she got the circle room, and there they were. The room was full of people watching the com. She sat back curiously to listen and observe. How could they activate the com-sphere without the required Azlan material? Ah! So the little girl has it. Time to say hello.

Her thoughts returned to the present, as she watched the castle doors and windows being shuttered. Perhaps I will have a little fun after all, she thought. The others had been so easy to trap. It had become more interesting to her these days to interact with people’s variety of emotions, than just to kill them outright, although if she had the whim, she wouldn’t hesitate. Fear was always an interesting study for her, and she rose up into the darkening sky, sending out a blip message.

The six guards in the small west courtyard sat around the fire, taking turns to keep watch through the peephole slots in the outer walls and gates, awaiting the slightest sign of anyone approaching. They also changed over with the two guards that remained at all times on the lower battlement, and who had a clear view back to the cliffs. It was a quiet night, too quiet in fact. The drawbridge to the main southern courtyard had been raised, after those villagers fast enough had made it to safety. The few late unlucky ones, headed dejectedly back to their homes to lock themselves in, but understood the emergency rules. However no one in the castle or village actually knew who or what the enemy was, but they did know that the royal exploration party had not returned. Stories of a Witch had some of them on edge, but surely no witch could stand against the might of the knights and royal guards.

“Your Highnesses” said Master Roger, kneeling before them. “Stand up you silly man. How many times must I tell you, that’s only required when I’m on the throne. What news?” asked Queen Stephania. “Have you heard from our husbands, Roger?” interrupted Queen Emma informally. “Aye, I’m afraid the riders returned, and that there is Pete,” he said pointing back at the rider, “having not seen nor heard anything, even though shouting from the fifth cave as instructed. There was no sign of the men we left in the cave entrance and square room. I am sorry your highnesses. The castle is fully locked down now, and I have sentries guarding all castle gates, doors to the main halls and all doors and windows of every room in the Keep. All battlements have archers and burn pitch at the ready. There is no sign of an enemy at this time.”

“We have lost too many men already to an unknown enemy.” stated Queen Emma. “I know that you have offered to go yourself Roger, but we value your protection of this castle too much to allow that, and it may be futile to send others at this time, until we know more about the enemy. I think until daylight breaks, we should avoid going out and just cope as best we can. We presume that Captain Paul’s Terraloon traps have been set around the Keep already? Good.”

Queen Stephania then added “We have additional space in the Keep. Bring in all the children and mother’s with babies first and then we’ll see if there is space for the elderly and mothers of the children under ten years old.”

Reese, Harry and Amelia had their ears pinned to the door and couldn’t understand the fuss. Grandpa and their daddies and uncle Matthew had ExCaleebra swords for goodness sake. They were obviously all exploring the big ship and stuff and would be home soon with many wonderful and mysterious gifts. “I bet the other riders had to help explore and carry stuff and that’s why they stayed” said Reese softly. “I would have stayed too” said Harry. “And me” whispered Amelia. They heard a shuffle at the door and quickly ran up the stairs back to their wide bed of covered straw and sat in a circle facing one another. “I wish we could always stay together in a bed like this, and Sebastian can join us too when he gets back” said Reese. She really missed her big brother at times like this and couldn’t wait to tell him about all the things that have happened lately. He was great at sword fighting and would protect them for sure.

This children’s bedroom in the Keep tower was undecorated, walls, floors and ceiling of grey stone, and usually used as a workman’s spare parts store. This whole suite of rooms was on the second floor and led out onto the south and north battlements, with battlement cross-links outside the east and west walls. A stone staircase led up the tower to another two similarly sized levels and then continued up inside a tall circular stone tower to the lookout room sixty feet above, the kids called it the Cloud room, which had slot windows in all directions and a tall pointy slate roof on heavy timber beams. That was one of the kids favourite and most thrilling rooms to play in especially in a big storm, when the rain made a big noise on the roof and they had to guess which side-window lightning would come from next.

Nannies Margs and Lead lady-in-waiting Corry, who was Master Roger’s wife, had gone off to get warm milk for the children, but also to talk out of earshot of the young ones. It was going to be hard to get them to sleep tonight. Margs was increasingly concerned about the glimpse of shiny red that she seen above the hedge maze. “And they said they could hear music” she told Corry. “What if it was the Witch?” she added. Corrie gave her a hug and said “I don’t know what to think Margs, but we’ll all be safe here. I’m sure that the men will return safely soon, and then we can all get on with normality again. Roger told me that he has sent for the great magician Merklin on Grandpa Ant’s behalf, but please keep that a secret. Only he, Grandpa Ant and his three royal sons know how to contact him. Roger received word just this morning of the magician’s latest hideout, and has sent a message. He will definitely know what to do if this woman really does exist. Roger should have a reply soon about when he can get here.” Nanny Margs felt very relieved to hear that, and started to calm down as they warmed the milk. “Ok, dear” Corrie said, “I must help organize the sleeping arrangements and refreshments for the women and children coming in. Can you manage? I will see you soon.” Nanny Margs finished heating the milk and headed back to the children’s room. Perhaps things would be alright, after all.

“Terraloon!” screamed one of the guards on the western battlement, who had been looking out toward the caves, pointing out with shaking finger into the darkness. The alert was shouted out all around the castle and as instructed all guards ran toward the Keep, as the tall dark creature bounded with great leaping strides toward the castle wall. There was no point in losing men to the unconquerable power of a Terraloon. All men, women and children were rushed into the Keep stronghold, except for the archers on the second floor Battlement, who would hold their ground until the Master at Arms commanded their retreat. Burning pitch arrows might scare it off, but more hopefully it would be snared by the mighty traps, linked to giant blocks of stone buried deep into the ground below the paving around the Keep. Pulling the enormous trap teeth apart took ten men a side working the pulleys.

Master Roger stepped out onto the battlement to be with his men and they all watched in horror as the frightening creature leaped over the moat and outer castle walls with ease, smashing the western courtyard fire and arms wagon aside with one mighty swipe of his fist, and rushed rapidly toward the Keep. “Hold men. Hold!” ordered Master Roger. “Flame your arrows and aim. Hold. Fire!” The Terraloon came to a sudden halt outside the Keep and looked up. He didn’t even flinch as arrow after arrow hit, bouncing off his thick hide harmlessly, but leaving flaming pitch, which continued to stick to and burn on his skin. It was an image none of the men would forget; this large dark flaming creature standing fearlessly before them, staring directly into their eyes. Master Roger knew that he would jump at them soon and they must be prepared. Timing would be crucial, or none of them would survive. There would be no time to escape through the heavily barricaded doors without risking everyone in the castle.

As the Terraloon went down on his flaming haunches, Roger shouted “Heave-ho blighters!” and within a split second heavily oiled panels were swung out from the parapet edge, at forty-five degrees upward. All the heavy practice was paying off. A second later the Terraloon hit! It had misjudged it’s jump, with that sudden increase in the height of the parapet. It’s flaming, loudly scrabbling body attempted to grip onto the panels, staring with it’s terrifying large eyes and screaming at the men with an ear shattering roar, but it couldn’t grip against the oily surface, and it plummeted back down to the ground, right into the nest of giant traps. The first steel trap teeth snapped onto its left leg and as it fell back, another snapped onto its upper left arm. As he slammed his right arm down in shocked reaction, a third trap closed violently above that wrist. The powerful creature roared out as a forth trap bit off a chunk at the back of its head and then it fell silent, its body still twitching, covered in burning pitch and a white liquid seeping from its head wound. Apart from the crackling of the burning pitch, there was a long stunned moment of silence, before Master Roger and his brave men all broke out with a raucous cheer of victory, slapping each other on the back and whooping with joy. Amelia woke briefly thinking ‘they all sound happy’ and fell asleep again. The impossible had been done. But Master Roger still took no chances and ordered his men to stay on alert, the courtyard guards to return to their posts and not to spring the other traps until he was satisfied that no other Terraloon was waiting out there.

However, after reporting the good news to Her Royal Highnesses and the other Lords in the temporary meeting room, he ordered that his men be served a tankard of mead, and be relieved in four shifts through the night, giving them a chance to relieve themselves, eat dinner and get some sleep. Some of the men villagers were again asked to move back out into the courtyards, because the Keep was too overcrowded. In his report to Her Highnesses and those around the large meeting table, Master Roger expressed his opinion that this Terraloon they killed, was the most likely reason why none had returned from the caves, and that His Highnesses and their men were most likely safely holed up in a safe room. They would not know that the creature had now been disposed of, and that they could safely return to the castle. If Her Highnesses agree, he will take ten men at first light to the caves and inform the royal group.

“I would prefer that you sent others first, to ensure that this Terraloon was the only danger, Master Roger. As we have said, we cannot afford to lose you from our sides” reiterated Queen Stephania. “Yes, your Highnesses. May I give the Villagers the option to return home now? We could lower the southern drawbridge for a time to suit?”.

“That sounds like a most sensible idea Master Roger, but please impress on them that they may remain for the night if they so wish” added Queen Emma. Thank the stars Her Highnesses agree with each other, he thought, otherwise he would be in a pickle. Queen Emma looked down again at her nails. They were in an awful state. She will call for Alison, her Maid of Honour, with the next Carriage from Jewel. No one here has her amazing skill set and Lord Paul hasn’t seen his brother, the Master of Arms, Roger in quite a while. She must discuss this with Stephania when they have a moment and arrange a surprise visit. Their children will love the break too.

Tallia the Red Wasp could easily have stopped the killing of her Terraloon, but she just watched and waited. It had served its purpose well and created the perfect distraction, forcing those in the caves to seek safety in the Circle room, as well as putting those at the castle at ease, thinking that the danger was now over. She felt a slight thrill as she dissolved part of the slate roof of the high tower with her golden rod and slipped down gently into the room. The challenge of the unknown is what brought her any pleasure these days, not the easy killing. She wanted a compliant Amelia to join her in this room and willingly hand over that Azlan pendant charm. She knew that, with the large size chunk of the material the pendant held, even she could not risk attempting to harm her. She needed her grandfather to be ‘encouraged’ to help her find Merlin, before killing them both, and perhaps everyone else too, just for fun. She was becoming less sure of ever finding a way past that wall and returning to her world. What a mistake her husband, the ship captain had made, detouring from the agreed path and finding this disgusting planet.

Silently floating down the spiral staircase the Red Wasp came to the doorway at the second floor. She already knew exactly where to go, having circled and looked through the light slots of every room. She opened the door and froze the two guards, before they had time to even glance in her direction. She opened the door to the children’s room silently and froze the nanny in her sleep. She also froze the sleeping forms of the three children before picking up Amelia carefully and carrying her back up the stairs, ensuring that she again closed all the doors behind her. She enjoyed creating a mystery that they would all struggle to solve; how a well-protected room could lose a royal child entirely. They would all awake from the freeze as though from a normal sleep and not suspect a thing. She would like to have listened and watched that drama start to unfold! Fingers pointing, anger and blame! Guilt and defensive excuses! Hah!

She sealed the door to the tower room and set a mute spell, so that no sound from Amelia could be heard below. She lay Amelia down on the thick sheep-skin rug and then woke her with gentle music. “Hello my pretty princess” she said calmly. Amelia woke up slowly and looked around. “Why are we in the Cloud room, and what are you doing here? You are the Red Wasp aren’t you?” she asked still sleepily, wondering if she was dreaming. Tallia was surprised at her calm, mature for-her-age tone and had expected a screaming frightened child. “You’re so beautiful!” Amelia exclaimed. Tallia was taken aback and was immediately quite enamoured by the charm of this child. “Thank you” she answered “I think that you’re very pretty too” Some deep instinct made her want to tell this child the truth rather than the lies she had considered. “Yes Amelia, I am the same woman called  ‘The Witch from the West’ and the ‘Red Wasp’” Tallia said, floating gently down and sitting facing the girl. “I and my people were wronged by another more advanced group from the stars, and they killed many of us, in fact I believe that I am the only survivor left”. “Are you from the stars too?” Amelia asked. “Yes, and I want to go back home but they stole my starship and hid it behind a magic wall that I can’t go through. I have tried for a very long time. Your Grandpa’s friend Merlin might be able to help me” “You mean Merklin?” Amelia interrupted. Tallia smiled a big beautiful smile, which made Amelia feel proud and glowing inside. “Yes that must be his name. Have you met him?” she asked sweetly. “Yes, twice, but he always leaves too soon, just as I get to have fun with him and Grandpa showing me amazing things. Grandpa went with him on a long adventure last year, to a big mountain, but I was too small to go. I’m bigger now.” she said brightly. “Yes you are, and I would like to take you on a big adventure too if you like”. “Really?” piped Amelia. “Yes! Your Grandpa Ant is helping me find a way through that wall now but I think that Merklin might need to help too and that’s why I’m trying to find him.”

“Why didn’t you ask Grandpa?” she asked.

“Well I didn’t realize that he knew of him” Tallia said “but you’re absolutely right you clever girl, we should ask him. Would you like to come with me?” “Oh yes please!” squeaked Amelia joyfully. “Ooh! “ said Tallia “That is a beautiful pendant you’re wearing. Would you like to see mine?” she said, removing a glowing golden green stone from around her neck and handing it to Amelia. “Wow!” said Amelia dazzled by it’s beauty. “Grandpa said that I must never take mine off though” said Amelia. The beautiful lady looked sad and said “ Oh well, if you don’t want show me that’s ok I suppose” and took her stone back gently, replacing it slowly about her neck. She remained silent and Amelia felt really bad.

“Ok,” she said decidedly, lifting off her pendant and handing it to the stunningly beautiful Red Wasp, immediately feeling much better when the woman smiled again and said “Thank you, it’s really lovely isn’t it? May I try it on and you can wear mine?”. She took hers off first and slipped it over Amelia’s head. “Oh my, that looks absolutely amazing on you Amelia. Now you look so grown up”. She took out a small red-framed mirror, and then softly adjusting Amelia’s hair, showed Amelia her reflection, much to the little girl’s pleasure. She did look amazing. While she continued to gaze at her reflection, Tallia placed Amelia’s protective charm over her own flowing red hair and then froze the child. Lifting her more gently than she meant to, and feeling a little less disgust toward a human child than ever before, she flew up into the night sky, back over the rim of the crater.

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