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by Margo Fallis
Chapter 12

“Xander, how will we ever get out of this mess? The only thing I can think of is if a bird comes by and pops the bubble, but then again, it can’t, can it, because the bubble is made of glass!” Toast folder her arms across her chest and looked upward.

“Don’t get stressed on me now, Toast. It looks like we’re headed for the Valleys of Armon. Goodbye Hills of Jeshar.” Xander laid his back against the bubble and pulled out his journal. He drew pictures of the things he saw below as they floated overhead. “This is sort of fun. There are a lot of things to see from up here.”

“Oh? Like what?” Toast put her face down on the bottom of the ball and her legs up against the side, near Xander’s head.

“There are a lot of trees and flowers for one thing. If you look all around you can see almost the whole Land of Waterberry. I think it’s wonderful and exciting.” Xander continued with his drawings.

“I can see a few lakes and a big river. Quick, Xander, look at the birds. They’re flying right below us.” Toast giggled with delight.

“You’re right. They must be flying toward the lake. What lake is that anyway?”

“It might be Lake Wite. But isn’t it in the east, near the Hills of Jeshar? We’re headed south. Are there any lakes there?” Toast thought for a moment. “I know what lake it is. It’s Lake Logo. Lake Logo is in one of the Valleys of Armon.”

“I hope the glass ball lets us out of here soon and doesn’t fly out of the Land of Waterberry. Isn’t it funny that we can breathe through the glass? I wonder what would happen if I took off my shoe and hit it. Do you think it would break?”

“Don’t do that, Xander. If it breaks, we’ll fall thousands of feet and smash on the ground below.” Toast moved away from Xander.

“Maybe we can find a way to make a tiny hole and the air would slowly leak out, like a balloon.” Xander rummaged through his pack looking for something sharp.

“It’s not like a balloon. Balloons don’t swallow people. This is a magic Goobagog crystal ball and it will let us go when it wants to, not when we want it too.” Toast shook her head back and forth.

Xander looked down. “Hey! There’s Larf and Jix. Are they going to the Valleys of Armon? Hmm. I wonder. Uh oh. I see Deji over there. I wonder where Blumb is. I wonder where all the others are and what they’ve found so far.” He lay quietly watching through the glass as the ball floated several miles. After hearing Toast’s snores, he opened his backpack and snuck a piece of wire out. He dug the wire into the glass, scraping and scratching until the wire poked through. Xander waited. Nothing happened at first, but then the ball began to drop, going down a few hundred feet each minute. “Wake up, Toast. I think I might have made a mistake.”

The plumtuggle opened her eyes. “I’m trying to take a nap.” She felt her tummy going up and down. “What do you mean, a mistake? What’s going on? Why does my tummy feel like I’m falling through…”

“You are falling. So am I. I poked a hole in the ball.” Xander moved to the side and showed her.

She jumped up and stuck her finger over the hole. “Don’t let any more air out.”

“Don’t be silly, Toast. No air is getting out. We’re simply dropping. It looks like we’ll land in that river.”

They plastered their faces to the glass and watched as it dropped closer to the water. A few feet from the river the ball shattered into millions of tiny pieces. Toast and Xander fell into the river and were carried by the swift flowing current.  “Now look what you’ve done. We’re going to drown!” Toast swallowed mouthfuls of water. “Help me, Xander. I can’t swim.”

Xander grabbed Toast and swam towards the riverbank. He pulled her onto the grass. She coughed and choked. Xander looked around. They were in a deep valley with steep rises on each side. “At least we’re not stuck inside that glass ball any more. As fun as that was, I prefer solid ground.” Xander shook the water out of his clothes.

“Xander, I’ve been with you for a few days now and I’ve been patient. You’ve got enough jewels. They’re all precious and rare. It’s time to get back to Appleworth. You’ve got a diamond, a topaz, an amethyst and a Goobagog crystal ball the color of a tropical sea. That’s enough. We’ve nearly been killed several times now. I want to go back to the Woods of Bilbarth.” The plumtuggle cried, burying her face in her hands.

Xander sat down next to his friend. “I’m sorry, Toast. I’m not really greedy. I hope you believe that. It’s just so important to me to be the one who shows up with the most precious and rare thing in the Land of Waterberry. I don’t want the jewels to buy riches. I want to be part of something. I want to be recognized. I want to be someone.”

“But you are someone, Xander. You’re my friend. You’ve saved my life several times now. We’ve been on a grand adventure and met dragons and giants. Can we go back now, please?” The plumtuggle wiped her eyes and turned to look at Xander.

“Sure. I don’t think anything will be more precious and rare than this Goobagog crystal ball here. It’s late afternoon though. If we start now we’ll get lost. Neither of us knows our way around the Valleys of Armon. Let’s wait until morning. In the meantime, why don’t you start a fire. Go and gather some firewood and get it going. I’ll see what I can find for us to eat. The food in my pack is probably moldy or soaking wet from the river.  When the sun rises, we’ll head north for Appleworth. How does that sound?”

Toast smiled. “It sounds great. I’ll go and get the firewood.” She ran off to search for fallen branches and twigs.

Xander caught three good-sized anprim fish. He found a bush full of plump and very juicy pecil berries. After picking a few handfuls, he headed back to camp.

 A fire popped and spat. Toast stood over it tossing thin branches on to get it going more.

Xander stuck sticks through the anprims and laid them on rocks over the fire to cook. “The coiberry juice is still good, but the rest of it, well, I tossed it into the river for the fish to eat. This meal should do us though. There’s nothing like flamed anprim. I can taste it already.” Xander handed Toast the pecil berries. They feasted until their bellies could hold no more. Xander wrote in his journal, writing about their meal and decision to return to Appleworth. He slipped it into his pocket and put the jewels in the pack so they didn’t dig into him while he slept. The sun set below the horizon and darkness filled the sky. Curling up next to each other, both fell asleep, anxious to begin their journey home the next morning.



Anprim fish – good to eat, has three fins across the back, orange and yellow striped tail, orange body, big, puffy yellow lips

Lake Logo – in the southern part of the Land of Waterberry, among the Valleys of Armon

Pecil berries – grow on bushes, juicy, seedless, covered with tiny hairs

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