Macy and Anna Save Candyland Bite 4
The Terrible Destruction
"Oh, Mr. Mint!" Macy breathed. "Oh, it's terrible. Horrible. Who would do this?" The forest had abruptly ended. There before them lay the remains of hundreds and hundreds of peppermint trees. The shattered trunks and fallen branches scattered across the ground in a haphazard fashion. Here and there were patches where some of the branches were stacked in a pile as if someone attempted to begin the cleanup, and then gave up. Mr. Mint's face had that fierce look on it again.
"I found these among the wreckage." He held up three long, black, twisty pieces of chewy candy. Licorice. "I can only imagine he meant it as a calling card. I heard the same rumor as you, that Lord Licorice is in jail somewhere, that they didn't even let him pass go, he had to move directly there. But if that's true then he still has spies and henchmen to do his bidding."
"What did he hope to accomplish with all this?" Macy asked. "I mean, this is a lot of effort to go to just for the fun of it. Is he your enemy too?"
"Lord Licorice is the enemy of anything good or kind or yummy in this world. His soul is as black and twisted as his awful candy." Mr. Mint replied. "He especially hates me because I wouldn't join him in trying to take over Candyland. I also refused to join him in his war with your father. He is a traitor and a bully and he always will be." They all stood and soaked in those words as they surveyed the damage the traitorous bully had done to the once beautiful and tasty forest. Finally, Macy broke the silence.
"I think we need a plan. We need to get this mess cleaned up, and we need to see what can be saved."
"I'm for it." Anna said promptly. "But how do we do all that?"
"Surely there are people nearby who can help." Macy answered. "Mr. Mint, who are your neighbors?"
"My nearest neighbor is Jolly. He lives at the foot of the Gumdrop Mountains on the other side of the forest. I also have a pet beaver, Starlight, who will help us. He's a very hard worker. He's more than a pet, really. More of a friend and companion."
"Great! Who else is there?" Macy was doing some mental calculations, if they could get four people to sift through the rubble to see what could be saved, and four people or more to start stacking the peppermint and everyone worked really hard, she estimated they could be finished in two days or so.
"There is no one else," Mr. Mint said sadly. "Lord Licorice has scared them all off. The townspeople who used to live in Wintergreen have all moved away. I hope they've found a place where they feel safe." Okay, then. Macy thought. Five people and one beaver. That is, if they could convince Jolly to come and help. This would take longer than she thought.
That evening they sat by the fireplace in Mr. Mint's cozy home. Cozy for a giant that is. The rest of them felt a little swallowed up by the huge armchairs they were sitting in, though none of them minded the giant cups of hot cocoa with candy cane stir sticks! Macy outlined her plan.
"Tomorrow Mr. Mint and Anna should travel over to Jolly's house and ask him to come and help. Peter and I will begin laying out piles to work on. How long will it take to get to the Gumdrop Mountains?"
"If we leave at first light, we should be back before night fall." Mr. Mint replied. Throughout the afternoon his face had regained its usual cheerfulness, and now he was rosy- cheeked and happy. "I am so grateful for your help. I didn't think any of the forest could be saved."
"Nonsense," Macy retorted quickly. "All you needed was a solid plan. I'm glad we are here to help."
"I am supposed to bring a cartload of peppermint sticks to King Kandy's birthday party. Could I travel with you when you go? It is so much more fun to travel in a group. Safer too." The others agreed readily.
A Good Morning’s Work
Macy wiped her brow with a sticky hand. She and Peter had worked steadily for the morning organizing and sorting sticks and branches. They were working on clearing a place for more stacks of trees.
Starlight the Beaver had turned out to be a four foot tall, red furred, striped tailed, rotund animal. But Macy felt the biggest shock when he opened his mouth and introduced himself.
"I've never met a talking beaver before, or any talking animal for that matter."
"Aren't there any in Chutesandladdergonia?" Starlight asked.
"None that I know of," Macy replied. "I always thought they were a myth. But then, I'd always thought Mr. Mint and his Peppermint Forest was a myth too!"
Starlight was a hard worker. All morning he helped wherever he could. Whenever there was a log too big to move, he was right there to gnaw it down to a more manageable size.
"Let's take a break," Macy called to Peter and Starlight. "I need a drink of water, and we should look at what we've accomplished so far, and what still needs to be done." They looked around at the morning's work. The clearing had grown to twice its original size. There was a rough order to the piles now, larger logs on the left side of the clearing and descending in size as you move to the right.
"We've done a good mornings work," Peter remarked. "When the other get back, the rest will go even more quickly." Abruptly, Starlight broke in.
"You think my name is girly, don't you?"
"Whatever do you mean?" Macy asked, a little startled.
"My name, Startlight, you think it's girly don't you? Everyone thinks it, but no one will say it. I know it's a girl name."
"I never thought that!" Macy said indignantly. "Plus, I would never think something so mean. You shouldn't assume things."
"My mother thought it was a beautiful name. She wanted to name her first child Starlight no matter if it was a boy or girl. Turns out, I was a boy and so I got the name." He finished a bit sadly. "No one takes you seriously when you're named Starlight."
It's more likely no one takes you seriously because you're a four foot tall, red, furry, talking, beaver, Macy thought, but was too polite to say.
"I think your name suits you. Starlight's are a lot of people's favorite mint, and I can tell you are your mother's favorite son."
"I'd better be," Starlight quipped, "I'm her only son!" After that they all got back to work, Starlight worked even harder, whistling a little tune as he stacked logs. Macy didn't notice when Peter slipped off for a few minutes into the woods. And she didn't hear what he said to the man in the blue shirt either.
Near Gumdrop Mountain
Meanwhile, Anna and Mr. Mint arrived at Jolly's home at the base of Gumdrop Mountains. The mountains themselves rose majestically out of the green earth and into the sky. Pink, blue, red, and yellow peaks glistened with sugar crystals in the bright sun. A sweet fruity scent filled the air.
Jolly lived in a house made out of square pieces of gumdrops fashioned together like bricks. His roof was thatched with an odd material. Anna strained for a better look. They appeared to be multicolored ropes laid in long vertical rows.
"What are those?" She asked.
"Licorice straws," Mr. Mint replied. "He put them on a long time ago before Lord Licorice turned evil."
"I wonder if he ever regrets that decision," Anna mused.
"Regrets what decision?" came a voice. "Hello, hello! It's been a long time, Mint. What are you doing in these parts?" A short, fat creature came waddling out the front door of the gumdrop house. His blue skin sported yellow polka dots. His mouth bore a smile, but his eyes held a wariness in their depths. "Well, well, who do we have here?" He walked over to Anna and put out his pudgy little hand. Standing next to Mr. Mint he looked even shorter and fatter. Anna shook his hand and introduced herself.
"I'm Anna, daughter of King Mattel and Queen Corazon. You must be Jolly."
"Yes indeed, yes indeed. Jolly am I, and Jolly's my name. No last name, just the one. Jolly." His voice squeaked at the end of each sentence, an odd, jolting noise. "Been keeper of these Gumdrop Mountains for the past ten years. Don't get many visitors."
"We're here to ask for your help, Jolly," Mr. Mint said. Jolly eyed him suspiciously.
"Lord Licorice's henchmen destroyed the Peppermint Forest. We are trying to salvage what is left of the trees. We want to be done in time to make it to King Kandy's Birthday Celebration. Since you are Mr. Mint's nearest neighbor we came to ask: will you come and help us?" Anna asked. Understanding dawned on Jolly's face.
"You really need my help? Yes, yes I'll come. Just let me pack up some things. We can take my donkey. He's a big help, a big help." Jolly turned and wobbled into the house, shutting the door behind himself. Anna looked at Mr. Mint. Mr. Mint looked at Anna. They both burst out laughing.
"Is he always like this?" Anna asked in a low tone.
"He spends a lot of time alone, with only a donkey for company," Mr. Mint replied. "I think it's affected his people skills." His eyes twinkled. "We usually extend him loads of grace." At that, the door to the house opened and Jolly stuck his squat blue head out.
"Sorry, sorry, didn't mean to let you stand there gawking. Come in. Come in. I just need to pack." With Anna giggling and Mr. Mint grinning a wide grin, they joined Jolly in the house.