Macy and Anna Save Candyland Bite 6
On the Road Again
The group that headed out that next morning was an unusual and colorful crew. Mr. Mint took up the front position with his horse and cart loaded with peppermint sticks. Next came Starlight and Anna. Jolly jangled and clanked in the middle with his over loaded donkey, and Macy and Peter brought up the rear. They hoped to reach Gumdrop Mountains that afternoon, spend the night at Jolly's and then cross the pass the next day.
The sun's last rays shone as they walked into Jolly's yard. He invited them to make themselves comfortable as he prepared some supper. Macy offered to help. She wanted to get to know Jolly a little more. During the time they had cleaned up the destroyed forest, Jolly had seemed like a good natured little fellow. His odd habit of repeating himself was an endearing trait. She couldn't see why he and Mr. Mint would be at odds, but had to agree with Anna that there seemed to be some animosity between them. She wondered at its source.
"How long have you known Mr. Mint?" She asked as she chopped a carrot for the stew.
"Mint? I've know him for the ten years I've lived at the base of these mountains. Ten years. I knew him when his town left and Lord Licorice caused all the trouble. All the trouble."
"Do you see each other often?"
"No, no. Not really. He stays in his forest and I stay near my mountain. We have responsibilities you know. Responsibilities." As he spoke he began to get more agitated. He plucked at his chin and scratched his belly. "We're not what you would call friends. Not really friends. More like business acquaintances."
"Don't you like each other? He is nice, and you are nice, it seems like you could be friends." Jolly hopped from one foot to another and rubbed his belly, his other hand crumpled and mashed a towel.
"Let's get this stew finished. Get it finished." Macy noticed he avoided the question. Somehow she doubted they would ever broach the subject again.
Supper that evening was quiet, punctuated by the clink of silverware on earthen bowls. Alongside the stew beautiful loaves of bread for sopping up were served.
"This meal is delicious, but I'm so sleepy," Anna yawned. "And my muscles are sore." She reached across and rubbed her left shoulder with her right hand to prove her point. "I don't know what's worse, my tired feet or my achy shoulders."
"I believe for me it is my shoulders." Peter said, rolling the offending joint in a circle.
"We all ought to turn in early tonight. We have an early start in the morning if we want to cross the pass before midday." Macy reminded them. Crossing the pass before midday was important. In this area, and on the mountains, lived the bears. Giant, gummy bears a thousand times larger, and a thousand times more ferocious than their candy counterpart. These bears roamed mainly at night. Anyone caught on the pass with its high, sugary walls, would be easy prey for the beasts after dark. If you didn't think you could cross before dark, it was best not to try at all.
"Bedtime soon, first dessert." Jolly grabbed a stack of red gummy candies from a side table. "Here. Eat 'em up. Eat. These are my favorites. Very good. Very, very good." The candies were in the shape of a fish.
"What are these?" Anna asked.
"Swedish Fish," Jolly replied. "Though I don't know what a Swedish is. Don't know." The others enjoyed their treat, but Macy thought the red gummy fish had a strange flavor, not quite cherry, not quite strawberry, almost like red licorice.
Because Macy and Jolly cooked the supper, Anna offered to do the dishes when they finished their fish. She quickly put the kitchen and dining room in order, even wiping the table, and sweeping the floor. When she completed her chores, she crossed the great room and walked past the front door on her way to the stairs. As she passed by, the front door opened with a swoosh. Peter came in with a rush. He glanced around as if looking to see if anyone saw him come in. When he noticed Anna standing there, he spoke.
"Just checking the animals, miss. I wanted to be sure they got plenty of rest tonight. They have been working hard and the horse will have a long haul tomorrow." Anna thought it was odd that he felt it necessary to check the horse and donkey, after all, Mr. Mint and Jolly had gone out and fed and watered them before supper. She wondered if she should question Peter about it. But then the weight of her mother's hour glass pendant on its chain around her neck made her pause and think, Peter is a loyal servant, and he has worked very hard this trip. Let's not jump to conclusions, Anna. Mentally giving herself a shake and squaring her shoulders, she nodded to Peter and climbed the stairs to her bedroom.
Over the Mountain
Jolly bade them goodbye early the next morning as the ground began to lighten in dawns embrace. He pointed them in the right direction giving them some last minute advice.
"Head straight to the pass, straight to the pass." He said. "Don't dawdle, and don't stop to lick the sugar on the gumdrop stones. The bears are many this year. Many. When they are hungry, they can sometimes feed in the daytime. Stay on the path. On the path. Goodbye now. Good bye and good luck." With a rub of his belly and a scratch of his yellow spots, he waved them goodbye. He produced a handkerchief from somewhere about his person, no one could be quite sure where, and waved it as well.
"Goodbye! Thank you for your hospitality," Anna cried as they moved out of his yard and on to the path. "So long, and thanks for all the fish!"
By ten o'clock they'd traveled nearly all the way to the pass itself. The well marked path ran steeply upwards at times, other times it followed a more gentle slope. Ahead they could see the path grow narrow. There it passed through two sheer walls carved out of a single gumdrop - half of the Kelly green gummy on one side of the path, and half on the other.
"Better let me scout ahead," Mr. Mint said. "I don't like the looks of that narrowing. Who knows what could be on the other side." He loped off with his easy gait to check it out. The others found seats on the small gumdrops which littered the sides of the path. Soon, Mr. Mint came back.
"Nothing over there," he said. "The cut goes a short distance and then opens up into a meadow much like this one. I didn't spot any bears or other wildlife." They gathered their belongings and prepared to walk through the cut in the gumdrop. It became clear they would need to walk nearly single file through the opening. Mr. Mint took the lead, the horse and cart brushing the sides of the path, barely making it through. The others followed behind with Starlight bringing up the end of the group. Just as the tailgate of the cart pulled through the opening on the opposite end, they heard a loud rumbling noise. The ground began shaking. Macy put her hand on the wall to steady herself. Suddenly Anna cried out
"Watch out, Starlight!" A huge pile of broken gumdrops rained down just behind Starlight. He dodged a blue one and ran forward. The gummy candy kept falling, covering the path and blocking their way backward. Gradually the rumbling stopped. Sugar dust floated in the air making Anna sneeze. "Should we stop and clear the pass behind us?" The words barely left her mouth when they heard a blood curdling yell. Looking ahead, they saw four ninjas dressed all in black brandishing licorice nunchucks and blocking their way forward. Mr. Mint roared out a yell and began swinging his candy cane walking stick. He clipped one of the ninjas on the side of the head, but another ninja swung his nunchuck wrapping it around the stick and yanking the candy cane out of Mr. Mint's hands. The horse bolted and ran past the ninjas, the cart bouncing and swaying behind. Anna, Macy, Peter, and Starlight raced forward to help fight off the ninjas. Peter managed to disarm one, but the ninja leader pulled out a licorice rope and lassoed Peter like a cowboy taking down a wayward calf. The ninja pulled the rope tight and whipped around to toss another black licorice rope catching Mr. Mint's legs. The ninja tightened the rope and Mr. Mint fell to the ground, legs immobilized. The ninja ran over to him and tried to tie up his torso, but Mr. Mint reached up with his long arms, grabbed the ninja's lapel, and tossed him over his head. The ninja landed with a grunt, but sprang to his feet again. Mr. Mint struggled to untie the rope around his legs. Before he could get the knot undone, the ninja lassoed his arms from behind trussing him up like a Thanksgiving turkey.
Meanwhile Anna and Starlight fought a ninja together, the two of them circling him and dodging out of the way of his nunchuck strikes. The ninja lashed out, hitting Starlight's arm. Quickly Starlight wrapped the nunchuck up with his forearm, tearing it out of the ninjas hand. Starlight yelped. The nunchuck ripped the fur off a small part of his arm. The ninja was already spinning another licorice rope as a lasso. He threw it over Starlight and hauled on it hard. Starlight's arms were pinned to his body. He grunted as the rope tightened and dropped the nunchuck. Anna raced the ninja from behind and jumped on his back, but he was ready for her. He grabbed her and tossed her over his shoulder, throwing another rope over her head in one smooth move. The ninja wound the rope around Anna several times. She kicked and screamed but he only wrapped the rope tighter. Soon her arms were bound from shoulder to fingertip.