Macy and Anna Save Candyland Bite 7
Macy faced the final ninja. She unclasped the cape her mother had given her and twirled it in front of her like a bullfighter. She hoped it would distract the ninja and catch the nunchuck, keeping the weapon away from her body. The ninja flicked the nunchuck, catching the green fabric. The fabric tore, but deflected the strike. The ninja retrieved and struck out with his weapon again. This time the cape tore in two. Macy held one piece in each hand trying to use them as whips. From behind, she felt a rope land across her shoulders. She ducked and brought her arms above her head, slipping the rope up and over, freeing her arms. Another rope licked out at her feet, but she skipped and dodged it. All four ninjas surrounded her. Their nunchucks were stored at their belts, and each held two ropes. She could hear her friends grunting and groaning, trying to free themselves, trying to come to her aid. She eyed the ninjas warily. In one coordinated movement they struck all at once, four ropes coming together around her body and pulling instantly tight.
"Why are you doing this?" She called to the ninjas. "What are you going to do with us?"
"Well, I think I will leave you right here for the bears to find." The leader answered. "As to why we are doing this, it should be obvious. Lord Licorice wants you dead, just like your father. He pays very well. Plus we can eat all the licorice we want." They heard a rustle in the trees ahead. A short, fat, blue with yellow spots, creature came out.
"Jolly!" Anna was astonished. "What are you doing here?" He didn't look her way, but went up to the ninja leader.
"I've done my part. My part is done. Where is my pay?"
"Over there, fat man." The ninja replied. "Under that tree you will find your bounty." As the ninjas disappeared into the woods, Jolly waddled over to the tree and picked up a large sack. He opened it up and tugged something out. It was a piece of black licorice. He put the end of the candy in his mouth and took a big bite.
"Oh, yum. Yummy yum. That is so good. So good." He groaned in delight. "You just can't get good black licorice anymore. This is payment indeed. Indeed."
"Jolly, you... You... You betrayed us for licorice?" Macy couldn't believe it. "How could you? You're just going to leave us here for the bears to eat? I thought we were friends. Why did you help us in the Peppermint Forest if you planned to betray us now?" Jolly looked at his feet. His lips were stained with the remnants of the licorice he'd already eaten.
"I can't get this flavor anywhere else. Anywhere. The temptation for a fresh supply overcame me." He said sadly. "I regret your deaths of course, of course, but I find when it comes to licorice, I have no self control." He sniffed a little and started shuffling away.
"Jolly, come back!" Macy called to him. "You don't have to do this! Come back and help us." Jolly looked back one last time.
"You're wrong, Macy. Wrong. I do have to do this. It is who I am. Who I am. I can never change. I am too set in my ways. Too set. Lord Licorice promised me licorice whenever I want it if I leave you here."
"But what happens when Lord Licorice is defeated forever?" Macy asked. "What about when all of his allies are rounded up and arrested, what then? If you help us now, we can help you then. We will put in a good word for you with King Kandy, and with our mother." This time Jolly didn't even look back, he just shook his head, and kept moving down the path. "Jolly! Jolly!" Macy called again.
"It's no use, Macy. Just let him go." Mr. Mint's voice was resigned. "I never thought it would get this bad. I knew he had a hard time when the licorice ban was first in place,but I thought he'd conquered that demon. I should have been a better neighbor. I should have noticed. He has been quite rude to me lately, and has taken a cavalier attitude toward the king. I wish I would have asked him why. No one is beyond redemption. There is forgiveness for anyone who asks." Mr. Mint fell silent.
"Don't be too hard on yourself," Macy replied. "You couldn't have known all this would happen."
"And anyway, we don't have time to chat," Anna spoke up from her place on the ground. "We have to figure out a way to get rid of these licorice ropes before the bears catch our scent."
"Can everyone shuffle together?" Starlight asked. "Perhaps I can gnaw the ropes off." The trusses on Starlight's limbs prevented him from moving, so the others shuffled and rolled and moved as best as they could to where he lay. Their bound legs made it impossible to stand. Being the closest, Peter rolled up to him first. Peter put his back to Starlight and held out his bound hands.
"Here, if you can get my hands free, I may be able to untie the others."
"I'll see what I can do!" Starlight took a mouthful of licorice rope and began biting it. The rope held firm. He adjusted his head. "Let me just get a little different angle." His powerful jaws scissored up and down on the rope. "This rope is incredibly strong." His voice was muffled against Peter's back.
"Turn to me," Anna said to Macy. "I'll see if I can untie yours." They lay back to back and Anna worked at the knots. "It's no use," she finally said. "They're too tight. Are you making any progress, Starlight?"
"Not really," came the muffled answer. "This isn't really the kind of thing my jaws were designed for. And the ropes are so tight, I can't get between them with my front teeth."
The sun crossed to the middle of the sky. Noontime. They needed to get off the mountain before dark if they wanted to avoid meeting any hungry bears.
"This isn't working." Macy finally said. "We need a new plan and we need one fast. Let's take stock. Peter, you can sit up and are only slightly injured."
"Merely bumps and bruises, ma'am."
"Starlight, you are unable to sit up and you have a big gash on your arm, correct?"
"Yes. And my jaw is growing sore."
"Okay, take a break from that for a moment. Anna, you can sit up as well. That's good. Any injuries?"
"Only to my pride. I thought those self defense classes we took would pay off, but it seems I am just a weak girl after all."
"Nonsense. You are a strong capable woman, and you acted bravely." Macy declared. "I'm glad you aren't hurt. Mr. Mint? What's your status?"
"I'm unable to sit, and I think I rolled on a rock but the part that hurts worst is my knee. I cracked it on something when the ninja took me down. I'm not sure if I will be able to stand even after the ropes are untied." Mr. Mint let out a groan. "I can't believe I didn't see them when I scouted ahead."
"Mr. Mint, you need to stop beating yourself up. Remember what you said about forgiveness? It's true for you too. We don't blame you for what happened, and you shouldn't blame yourself. It isn't helping anything." Mr. Mint groaned again
"You are right, of course. Forgive me for my complaints. I will lie here and give myself an attitude adjustment. Carry on with making a plan, and tell me my part when you've decided."
Macy sat very still with her eyes closed. She thought through their assets and strengths. She thought through their injuries and shortcomings. What they needed was something sharp to cut the ropes. Starlight's teeth were blunt. His jaws were powerful which was good for eating through peppermint logs, but for a task that required a sharp blade his teeth just didn't cut it. Literally. With her eyes still closed Macy asked,
"Mr. Mint, where is your axe?"