Larf and Jix sat on a rocky ledge, looking
down into the valley. “There’s a fire. Sort of an odd place for someone to
camp, isn’t it?” Larf pointed in the direction of the camp.
“Do you think it’s one of the others? I wonder
if they’re having any better luck than we are at finding any jewels,” Jix
said, whittling at a piece of wood with his knife. “What have we got so
Larf leaned to the side and grabbed his pack.
He opened it, reached inside and pulled out a gold nugget. “This is what
we have so far. We’ve got enough gold to keep us rich for the rest of our
lives, but I doubt if we’ve got the rarest and most precious thing in the
Land of Waterberry.” He scratched his arm and several fleas hopped off,
landing on the ledge.
“Why don’t we go down there and see who it is?
If it’s Tupi and Smov, maybe they’ll allow us to share a meal, if you want
to eat.” Jix stood and slipped his pack over his shoulders. “Come on. I’m
curious to see who it is.”
“Right you are, Jix. I saw a trail leading
into the valley. It’s dark. We’ll have to be careful with our steps.” Larf
grabbed his pack.
They hiked down the trail, zigzagging back and
forth through the trees. Never losing sight of the campfire, they used the
light of the moon to guide them to the bridge that crossed the river.
Crude as it was, the stones and logs held together. Standing on the other
side of the raging water, they made their way along the banks until they
came within a few feet of the camp. “Will you look at that. It’s not Tupi
and Smov. It’s that orphan boy. What’s his name?” Jix nudged Larf with his
“Something like Ander, or Sandy. What do you
think he’s doing down here in the Valleys of Armon? What’s that with him?”
Larf saw nothing but a furball.
“It’s a plumtuggle. I’ve seen them before.
They’re no danger to us. The boy’s got a pack. I wonder what he’s got in
it.” Jix pushed the bushes aside and crept closer to the fire.
Whispering to his partner, Larf said, “Looks
like they had anprim fish for supper. Let’s see what’s in his pack.” He
opened it and looked inside. “Well, well, well. It looks like our little
friend here’s gone and found himself some jewels. I see an amethyst, a
piece of topaz and a diamond. And what’s this?” He lifted the Goobagog
crystal orb out of the pack.
“Let me see that,” Jix said, yanking it out of
Larf’s filthy hand. “Goobagog crystal. It does exist then. I’ve heard
legends and tales about this. I think we’ve found the most rare and
precious thing in the Land of Waterberry.” Jix crept back toward the
bushes. After Larf stuffed the other jewels into his pockets, he followed
Jix. They walked a few hundred feet away. “We might as well head back to
Appleworth. We’ll never find anything better than this.”
“This is great, Jix. We’re going to win. That
boy and the creature aren’t going to be too happy when they wake up and
find they’ve been robbed. Come on. Let’s get going. We can cover a lot of
miles before sunrise.” Larf led the way north.
* * *
The sounds of panic woke Toast in the morning.
She sat up and saw Xander tossing things from his pack. He looked at her.
“They’re gone. All of them are gone.”
“What’s gone, Xander?” Toast wiped the sleep
from her eyes and crawled closer to the boy.
“Our jewels and the Goobagog ball. Someone
came in the middle of the night and stole them from my pack.”
“Who would have done such a thing? I didn’t
hear anything.” Toast picked up the pack and rummaged through it. “You’re
right. Nothing’s in there.”
“It must have been Deji, or Larf and Jix. We
saw them yesterday when we floated across the sky, remember? We’ve got to
find them. I can’t return without my Goobagog crystal,” Xander cried.
“I guess this means we’re not going back home
after all.” Toast sighed and held her chin with the palms of her hands.
“I know you’re disappointed, Toast. I wanted
to go back to Appleworth too, but things have changed. I don’t care that
much about the diamond, amethyst and topaz, but Toast, they stole our rare
and precious Goobagog crystal ball. We’ll explore the Valleys of Armon and
if we can’t find them, then we’ll just give up and go home. We can even
take a short cut through the center of the land instead of going the long
way, but I’ve got to try at least one more time.”
Okay, Xander. I’ll go with you and we’ll look
for our jewels. Whether we succeed or not, we should think twice about
going through the middle part of the Land of Waterberry. I don’t know if
you know this, but blarkees live in the desert. Do you know what a blarkee
“Of course I do. I’ve even seen one before.
Their fangs are sharp and long and they slither across the land like a
big, fat snake. Let’s not think about that right now. I know Larf has been
here. There were fleas all over my pack this morning.” Xander kicked dirt
over the fire. “Let’s go.”
“What about writing in your journal?”
“I’ll do that later on. Right now I’m too
angry to write. Come on. The sun’s rising and the heat will be upon us
soon.” Xander walked into the forest, followed by the plumtuggle.
Blarkee – live in the desert in the center of the Land of Waterberry,
long sharp fangs, slithers across the ground like a snake, no legs, arms,
fat body, leathery cow-hide type skin