Macy and Anna Save Candyland Bite 1
*Note: this is the first bite (see what I did there?) of a story I wrote for NaNoWriMo. I will be sharing the entire work over the course of the next few weeks. Don't miss a bite! Sign up for email alerts HERE.
The Adventure Begins
The story you are about to read is a story of valor and courage. It is about adventure and heroism. But most of all, it is about candy. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Macy looked toward the forest with trepidation. One more step and they would officially be in Candyland, and the farthest she had ever been from home. "I really don't think we should be doing this, Anna," she said for the thirty-seventh time.
"That's the thirty-seventh time you've said that!" Anna retorted. "I'm not listening to you any more. We decided we were going to go on this trek and we are going. That is final!" Anna always was the brave and stubborn one. "Next you're going to repeat how you are afraid that we will meet him on our journey. I'm telling you, Lord Licorice is far from here. Last I heard, he couldn't pass go and ended up in jail."
"Are you sure going to King Kandy's birthday party is worth it?" Macy asked, for the twenty-third time. Even though Macy was two years older than her sixteen year old sister she sometimes felt like her sister was light years older. Older, and prettier too -- Macy's hair was straight and golden, but she wished it were curly and auburn like Anna's. Anna had inherited her mother's straight nose and green eyes while Macy looked more like her father with broad shoulders and long limbs. Her mother called her regal, but Macy just felt gangly.
"Macy, I'm getting tired of repeating myself on this. King Kandy was Dad's closest friend. We are going to his party and, again, that's final!" Both girls grew quiet at the thought of their father, King Mattel. He had died on a battleship during a fierce war with Lord Licorice. Lord Licorice had been plotting and scheming and warring for years to take over the United Nations of Gamelandia. So far, all of his efforts had been unsuccessful, but the losses were immense. The two girls had lost not only their father, but also their brother Lief, their sister Lief-a-bella, and many other close friends. There were other casualties as well -- their father's adviser, Lord Kerplunk, had lost his marbles, and the B&O Railroad was nearly destroyed during one particularly devastating bombing.
Now was not the time for such thoughts, however. Lord Licorice had been quiet for the past few months. King Kandy was celebrating his 70th birthday and had invited Macy and Anna to join him and his son, Prince Hershey, at the Candy Castle for the party. Their mother, the queen, had encouraged them to go.
"I wish I could send Prince Cargo and Prince Alexander with you, But they are still settling the dispute at Boddy Mansion." she said. "I will send my best manservant to help with your things. The two of you should be relatively safe on your trip." Macy didn't like the sound of the "relatively safe" but what could she do? With Anna begging and pleading for her to agree to go, and her mother encouraging her as well, she really had no choice. She reluctantly agreed and plans were set.
"I just don't know if it will be safe," Macy explained her hesitations to her mother. "I mean, we don't know for sure where Lord Licorice is, and even though he hasn't been heard from in several months doesn't mean that he isn't out there trying to snare us in a trap. What if something bad happens? What if we get lost? What if Anna won't listen to me?"
"Remember what I've always taught you," Queen Corazon said. "When you have a situation where you don't know what to do, stop, pray, and think it through." Macy nodded. She could recite the proverb in her sleep. "Your strength lies in your ability to see a solution to difficult things, Dear Heart." Her mother continued. "Anna is more impulsive, that is why she seems so brave. But you are thoughtful. That is what makes you seem more timid. Both of you are brave and courageous in your own way. On your journey you will need to use both your strengths, there will be times when things ought to be thought through, and times when you will need to leap without looking. The key will be to figure out which time is which. You and your sister will make a great team. Just take things one step at a time." The queen gave each of them a gift as she sent them on their way. To Anna she gave an hourglass. "To remember to take the time you need to be safe." To Macy she gave a cape. "For when you take a leap and need to fly." She also gave each girl one half of a heart locket. "To remember that together you are a whole -- one team. Work together and you will do marvelous things."
Now Macy looked down at the red, purple, orange, green, yellow, and blue stones of the Candyland road at her feet. One step at a time, she whispered to herself, one step at a time.
In the Shade of the Gingerbread Tree
Ahead of them lay the gingerbread forest. Already their little traveling party could smell the sweet, spicy scent of ginger and molasses. Anna's tummy grumbled when she smelled it.
"Let's stop for a rest under that gingerbread tree over there," she pointed to the large, spreading tree at the side of the brightly colored road. "It looks friendly." She wasn't just using a figure of speech, the tree really did look friendly. It wore a wide grin under its twinkling eyes, and its numerous branches were sagging low with the weight of the gingerbread boys growing all over. A place near the front of the tree between two thick roots protruding from the ground looked especially inviting, with plush grass growing up all around. Anna took the lead, boldly walking up to the tree and greeting it politely.
"Hello. May we sit under your shade for our lunch?" The tree chuckled and his branches shook.
"Sure!" his deep, raspy voice boomed. "You can even have a gingerbread boy for dessert when you are finished. But remember, only one per child. We want to make sure there is enough for all who hunger. Mustn't be greedy. There have been many travelers coming this way for King Kandy's celebration. Sit and make yourselves comfortable. You can tell me who you are and where you are from as you eat. I don't get to travel much myself these days, and some gossip will be good for my ears." As they laughed at his joke Anna looked closely. She couldn't actually see any ears hidden among the deep grooves in his bark.
They laid out their lunch of sandwiches and apples and chatted about many things. The tree introduced himself as Kevin Ginger-Tree.
"I moved here when I was just a seed," he told them. "My folks live on the other side of the forest, but I determined to strike out on my own. I moved along first on a donkey's back, then by getting blown about by the wind. I could tell you a harrowing tale about nearly being eaten by a squirrel, but now is not the time or the place, I want you to enjoy your lunch after all." He gave another mighty chuckle and then went on. "Eventually, I settled my roots in here at the edge of the wood, and have been shading hungry travelers ever since. Yessir, Candyland is the place for me. The soil along this road is perfect for growing gingerbread. Now, tell me a little about yourselves."
Anna sat and listened as Macy talked with the tree about the war with Lord Licorice, which the tree knew something about, their travels to Candy Castle, and the news from their homeland, Chutesandladdergonia, or as it was more commonly referred to, Chutes.
"There are ups, and there are downs in Chutes," Anna broke in and explained to Mr. Ginger-Tree. "We get by as best as we can. Right now we are trying to rebuild the kingdom from the destruction of the conflict with Lord Licorice. That's why Mother stayed behind. She felt she had to keep the spinner moving after Dad passed away."
"Frightful business, that battleship disaster," Mr. Ginger-Tree rumbled. "A shot at A7 and it would have missed your father's boat completely. How could Lord Licorice have known exactly where that ship was?" Their happy chattering trailed off at those words.
How indeed? Anna suspected that Lord Licorice must have had a spy in her father's army. Someone who had ratted them out. She had told no one of her suspicions, and secretly planned to make inquiries on this trip about potential culprits. She would be a spy disguised as a princess on a trip. No one would suspect her true intentions.
"You kids be careful on your trip, the word is Lord Licorice has spies everywhere. Even though he hasn't been spotted, he is still setting plans in motion. It's gotten so you can't even trust the trees." Mr. Ginger-Tree's rumbling voice made the warning even more ominous. The sky darkened as a cloud passed over the sun. In the shade of the tree, Anna shivered. Maybe there was something to the wise old tree's words. No. She shook off the nervous feeling and put on a happy smile. If her face looked confident and brave, the rest of her would follow.
The young people thanked Mr. Ginger-Tree for his hospitality as they packed up the remains of their picnic. He encouraged them to each take a gingerbread boy.
"No, no, take one of the big ones on the south side," he gently chided when Anna reached for a small one near her head. Anna went around to the south side of the tree and saw that the cookies (or were they cakes? She never could keep that straight.) on that side were much larger. Some had even grown their black currant eyes and cinnamon dot buttons, a sure sign they were ripe and ready to pick. Anna selected a large one with frosting striped pants and a laughing smile. It came right off the stem with a pop. She bit into it. The taste exploded on her tongue, a mix of molasses and spice, with just the right amount of cinnamon.
"Oh, Mr. Ginger-Tree, these taste just like you smell!" She exclaimed in delight. Mr. Ginger-Tree's laughter was a surprise. It seemed to come from deep in the earth, a low musical sound that reminded Anna of a thunderstorm complete with rain. Soon his whole self was shaking with laughter, his branches, leaves, and gingerbread boy fruit twitching with merriment. With a great Ho Ho that would have made Santa Claus proud, he said
"Thank you, child. It does my heart good to hear you say that. Some people don't care for gingerbread, though I can't see why. It's nice to meet people who like the fruit I bear. I like to share my gifts with everyone, but not everyone appreciates them. I'm pleased to have given you shelter Daughters of King Mattel. The world lost a good man when he died. Godspeed on your journey, come and visit me on your trek back home." They promised to do just that and bid him goodbye. If only they had known that their every move was being watched. None of them noticed the flash of blue in between the trees ahead.