“We need to turn inland soon,” Quirin said. “When the tide comes in, which
will be shortly, the waves can get enormous in size and it’s very
“Why do the waves get so big?” Gretel looked out to sea.
“It’s just the way it is here. Not all the waves are dangerous, just the
occasional rogue wave. There is no reason for many of the things that
happen here. They just do. During high tide, many fish are washed ashore
and feed the animals living here. Maybe that’s why. I’m not sure. We’ve
only got a few more miles to go until we reach Lubo. It will be wonderful
to be home again. Marti, are you ready to meet your parents?”
Marti nodded. His heart, full of anticipation,
caused him to tremble near tears.
“I’m excited about meeting Gordinth and the
big dragons, Jago and Rosenwyn,” Gretel said. “I’m sure Marti will be
happy to see his parents. I wish mine were here too, my real parents.”
Marti reached over and squeezed her hand.
“They are always with us in spirit, Gretel.
You’ll sense their presence in Lubo. They lived in one of the huts. You
can have that hut just for you. Would you like that?” Quirin hoped to
“I’d love that.” Gretel wondered what her
parents looked like. Maybe she’d know someday. “How long till we get
“Another hour or two at the most. It’s not far
Walking along, Gretel stumbled on something.
She looked down. “I just tripped on an emerald.” She bent over and picked
it up. “Oh look, there’s another over there.” She ran to get it.
“I told you that emeralds lay around the
ground on Arbutel. There are so many of them that they mean nothing too
much to us. I’m sure Darmantha would love to gather them and use them for
his own benefit back in your village. I’m sure he will when he realizes
how many of them there are lying about.”
“That explains where my parents got their
wealth from,” Marti said.
“I’m going to keep this one.” Gretel held up
the one she tripped on. “I’ll keep it with my seashell, for good luck.”
She slipped it into her pocket. “This place is great. I never imagined
there could be a place where there are emeralds everywhere and fruit like
yamitas. I wonder what else we’re going to see before the sunsets
“More than we can imagine, I’d say, Gretel.”
Marti tussled her hair.
“Is Lubo in the mountains?” Gretel tried to
envision the place.
“No, Luba is on flat ground at the bottom of
Mount Suriban. There are other mountains nearby. Wait till you see the
place. I can’t describe it. It would do it no justice. Maybe we can have
roasted taradak tonight. Would you like that?”
“I don’t know what taradak is. Do you, Marti?”
Gretel hoped it wasn’t something horrible.
“No, Gretel, I have no idea what taradak is,
but I’m sure it will taste good. What is taradak?” Marti asked Quirin to
“A taradak is a small mammal. It has three
horns, which we grind up and use for magic potions and things. Its flesh
tastes best when it’s roasted over an open fire after being marinated in
bumubi juice overnight. That makes it sweet and succulent and oh so
tender. It simply melts in your mouth.”
“What’s a bumubi?” Gretel thought it sounded
like a fruit.
“Bumubis are similar to grapes. They’re small
and grow in clusters. The only difference is that they are not purple,
red, or green, like grapes,” Quirin said.
“What color are they then?” Gretel guessed.
“Are they blue?”
“No, they’re not blue. They’re bright yellow,
like a dandelion, or a lemon. They even have skin on them like a grape
does too, but inside they are filled with hundreds of tiny bubbles, or
pockets, and each is filled with sweet juice. They are the messiest fruits
you can eat, but quite tasty, especially on roasted taradak.”
“I didn’t think you wizards like to kill
animals,” Marti said.
“Taradaks were placed on this island for our
enjoyment. They are quite willing to give of themselves for us. Besides
that, every time we use the powdered taradak horn, another living taradak
is born within a week. We don’t eat them very often, mind you, but tonight
is a special occasion. You will be reunited with your parents and we’ll be
taking Venec and Cardew here to meet their ancestors. I’d say that was a
cause for celebration, wouldn’t you?” Venec and Cardew flew into the air,
enjoying the freedom of flight. “There you are. Even the babies are
happy.” The blue and brown streaks stretched across the sky as they darted
back and forth. Marti and Gretel couldn’t help but be too.