Macy and Anna Save Candyland Bite 9
A Shocking Conversation
Just around a bend not too far away they came across the horse still attached to the cart. A few of the peppermint sticks had fallen out, and some were shattered, but the cart was still quite full.
"We still have a pretty good sized load here," Mr. Mint said. "I'm amazed at how few are broken." They resumed walking and soon came to the pass through the mountains. "Step lively! Be on your guard!" Mr. Mint called from his place in the front of the group. They moved cautiously through the pass near the peak of the mountain. Gradually they began to notice the ground sloping away in front of them. Coming down off the mountain felt like a victory. They survived the ninjas, they crossed the pass, and they didn't meet any gummy bears. A late dinner that night in their camp turned into a celebration.
"Here's to Macy, the brave warrior, fending off attackers with the clothes on her back!" Starlight raised his cup of water in a toast.
"Here, here." The others chorused.
"And here's to Anna who fearlessly went for Peter's bag, no matter the personal danger!" Macy toasted.
"And here's to Peter, may he always remember exactly what he has packed!" Anna concluded the toasts with a laugh. The other joined in with a rousing cheer and hoots of laughter. Peter blushed and ducked his head. Rising to his feet, he excused himself and went to check on the horse.
"Oh dear, I think I've embarrassed him," Anna said. "I'll go and apologize." She got up and walked over to the tree where they had tied up the horse for the night. Just beyond the tree she could see the cart in the moonlight, the peppermint sticks almost glowing. When she reached Snickers the horse she didn't see Peter. She stroked Snickers neck. "Where did he go, boy?" She whispered in the horse's ear. A low murmuring came from near the cart. Was that voices? Who was over there? Crouching down she crept closer. Reaching the near side of the cart, she peeked underneath. There were two pairs of boots, one pair looked like Peter's. She raised her head just high enough to peer over the top of the cart. The moonlight shone down on two men, heads close together. One definitely was Peter, who was talking almost angrily with the other. Anna studied the other man. Had she seen him somewhere before? She couldn't really see his face. From what she could tell, he was young, in his twenties maybe, and he was wearing a blue shirt. Something niggled the back of her mind. What was it about a blue shirt? No time to think about it now. Right now she had to bring all her spy practice into use to see what she could find out. She heard snatches of their conversation.
"....ninjas... past me..." Blue shirt said.
"How.... Almost killed... My knife..." Peter replied hotly.
"Princess Anna.... Hurt her.... Knows too much..." Blue shirt again.
"Leave her to me." Peter said clearly. A shock ran through Anna at the mention of her name. Why were they talking about her? And what did Peter mean, 'leave her to me,' leave her for what? And did Blue Shirt mean she knew too much? What did she know? She ducked back behind the cart. Should she go and confront the men? She heard footsteps and carefully raised her head again. Blue Shirt was slinking off into the night. Peter walked in the opposite direction, deep in thought, not looking left or right. He passed the front of the cart and headed straight for their camp, not noticing Anna. I will keep an eye on him, Anna thought to herself. I will spy out what this is all about. And, I'll watch my back.
A History Lesson
"We've been walking for hours and haven't gotten anywhere," Anna declared. The road through the valley at the base of the Gumdrop Mountain range was monotonous. "Red stone, purple stone, yellow stone, blue stone, orange stone, green stone, and then it starts all over again." She was tired, she was sore, and she was whining. She kicked a stone.
"No one said this trip would be easy," Macy reminded her. "It will all be worth it when we get to King Kandy's castle."
"I guess so." Anna wasn't ready to give up her bad attitude. "At least, I hope it's worth all this danger and trouble. And boredom for that matter."
"You're just tired. I think it's time for a break. Mr. Mint, can you spot us a good stopping place?"
"Just ahead, Macy," he called back. Soon they were resting beneath a tree, its branches spreading above them and shading them from the late morning sun. Desperate to focus on something other than her aching legs, Anna decided to do a little verbal investigating.
"Peter," she began. "You've been to Kandy Castle before, right?"
"Yes, Princess Anna," he replied. "I've often traveled there with your father. Sometimes we took this route, but more often we would go the shorter route over the sea." There had been too much danger for them to take a ship to the celebration this time. Not knowing the identity of the traitor lurking in the Royal Navy had put a crimp in all overseas travel. Someone had given Lord Licorice the battleship coordinates, someone had betrayed King Mattel.
"Have you ever met Lord Licorice? I've only seen him once when I was a little girl, before he went on his power hungry rampage."
"Yes, I've met him many times. He used to be a trusted adviser to King Kandy. One of his closest friends in fact. Of course, this was before he became so power hungry."
"What happened? How did he go from being a trusted adviser to being a villain?" Anna remembered most of the story, but wanted to hear Peter re-tell it. Maybe she would pick up a valuable clue.
"It all started long ago, back long before you were born. During those days, Candyland was under attack from the land of Yahtzee. Those snake eyes wanted the candy which naturally grows here, and they wanted to take it by force. They went round after round, first one side winning, and then the other pulling ahead. Finally, in the thirteenth battle, Lord Licorice devised a clever but risky strategy. The dice rolled in his favor that day, and Yahtzee was defeated. Grateful, King Kandy promised Lord Licorice any prize he desired. Lord Licorice asked for a large tract of forested land in northeast Candyland. King Kandy agreed, but before the land transfer could be made, the Lollipop family came forward and showed they had claim to the land. They were right. Ancient land grant records bore out their story. King Kandy not only gave them the land back, he also gave them a yearly stipend from the royal treasury to help restore the long neglected forest. We will travel through the forest on our way to the castle, and you can see for yourselves the job they've done. Lord Licorice was livid. He knew the potential that piece of land held, and couldn't stand the thought of someone else owning it. To try to make it up to him, King Kandy deeded him the Licorice Forest. That was how he came by his name. Before that he went by Professor Plum. Lord Licorice pretended to be grateful, but bitterness festered in his heart. As it turned out, he was merely biding his time, and building up loyalty among other subjects of Candyland before waging all out war." Peter paused and took a drink.
"But why fight Chutes?" Anna asked. "Why not concentrate on Candyland?"
"When your father heard what Lord Licorice was doing, he quickly joined King Kandy in the fight. Lord Licorice retaliated, and the war began in earnest. You know the rest." All very interesting, thought Anna, but I am still no closer to figuring out the traitor.
Mr. Mint cleared his throat.
"All of this has brought us to a very good topic, one we must discuss without delay. Tomorrow at this time we will be entering the Licorice Forest, a place of great danger. King Kandy has stationed many of his soldiers there, but there are many places to hide in a forest. Especially one as overgrown as Lord Licorice has allowed his to become. We must be prepared to defend ourselves against unseen and unknown dangers."
"It sounds like we need a plan," Macy said. "I love a good plan." She grinned as Anna rolled her eyes.
"Leave it to Macy to see a planning opportunity."
"Hey, can I help it if God made me to love planning things? I'm organized, I don't think there's anything wrong with that." Anna laughed.
"Just giving you a hard time, sis. No harm meant. I'm glad someone has a head for this sort of thing."
"Okay, back to it then. What do we have for weapons?"
"I have my axe and my cane." Mr. Mint said.
"I have a knife," Peter said with a grin.
"Oh, we all know about your knife," Anna teased him. "No need to remind us of that one!"
"I have my teeth for close combat," Starlight offered.
"That's very brave, thank you. I think that's the sum of our weapons." Macy said. "Mr. Mint, can any of the peppermint sticks be carved down to make walking sticks for Anna and I? At least then we would have a cudgel of sorts."
"It can be done, and rather quickly too. Just let me and Starlight get to work." Mr. Mint and Starlight looked over the peppermint in the cart. "This broken piece appears to be about the right length for Anna. We will need to hew down one of the whole pieces for Macy since she is taller." They set to work.