A brief time later, Detective Zeqster arrived at Tonnus and Dylora Kin’s suburban home in Kinkorx. He drove into their driveway next to their new mid-sized car and parked. He exited his car and hurried to the front door. Leqtus walked out of the home with an envelope as Maxx approached the front door. “Here’s the information you asked for. Good luck,” said Leqtus as he handed Maxx the envelope.
“Thank you,” said Maxx as he grabbed it. He hurried back to his red convertible and hopped in. He tossed the envelope into the passenger’s seat next to his bag.
He started the engine and speeded out of the Kin’s driveway in Kinkorx. He began his journey to Melá-Jutis, the Enchanted City in the wet lands marsh country.
As he drove, his heart continued to hurt. He thought as he painfully drove, “My heart has never stopped hurting since I spoke with Art about his parents. I can’t be getting the genetic heart disease that runs in the Zeqster Family. The Zeqster’s that inherited that gene died around my age. This has to be something else.”
He continued to drive toward the wet lands as his chest continued to ache.
Twelve Hours Later
Maxx arrived at 3:00a.m., in a remote, swampy, wooded area of the wet lands, miles from Melá-Jutis. “It looks like the road ends here,” thought the exhausted Maxx Zeqster as he gazed into the deep, dark marsh country. “I’m glad my chest pain finally stopped. It took long enough,” he thought, “I couldn’t have inherited the Zeqster heart disease gene. That heart condition is terminal. Every Zeqster that inherited it, died young.”
He used his small flashlight to read Leqtus Kin’s map once more. He thought, “According to his map, Melá-Jutis is straight ahead for seven more miles through the thick marsh country.” He sighed deeply as he pulled a note out of the envelope and began reading it. “When you get to Melá-Jutis, find Atin Riksem. He will help you. Also, be careful, the Melá-Jutis residents are easily offended. Watch what you say, and don’t stare. Good luck, Leqtus kin.”
Maxx wondered after reading the note from Leqtus, “Can that be the Atin Riksem? The legendary mesnuk player for the Guytic City Fighting Tobacco Farmers decades ago who lead the Tobaccos to so many Sesla Championships? It can’t be.”
He gazed into the dark, dense wooded marshland. “Let’s get moving,” he said to himself as he stuffed the note into his pocket while forgetting his bag on the front seat and leaving the keys in the ignition. As he walked away, several multi-colored, creepy crawly lizards began crawling on his car.
While carrying the small flashlight, he left his car parked at the end of the two-path road, unlocked, and began the long, chilly, difficult trek through seven marshy miles of wet lands swamp, in the darkness.
Two Hours Later; In The Dark of Night
Maxx was so exhausted and cold, he was staggering. His strolling outfit and hat were mud-covered. He had dropped and broken his flashlight. His legs were itching from the numerous thorn pricks. With cold skin and complete exhaustion, he trudged on as he shivered while constantly flicking off the host of multi-colored lizards that here crawling on him and biting him. “I’ve never been in a place with so many lizards,” he thought as he struggled through the thick boggy land in the dark, “Who would have thought this area would be infested with these creepy, crawly lizards.”
It was still hours before sunrise. He was staggering from exhaustion and lack of sleep as well as minor hyperthermia. His legs were mud-covered and burning. He had numerous bleeding scrapes and cuts. “I still have miles to go. The walking is impossible through this never-ending swamp.” As he swatted off another group of biting lizards, he fell into some sharp, dead sticks. “Oh!...,” he yelled as a stick punctured his strolling suit and leg. While exhausted and delirious, he grabbed the stick and pulled it out. “Ah!...,” he screamed. Blood quickly soaked his muddy strolling suit.
“I need a tourniquet,” he said as he winced from the excruciating pain, “I have to stop the bleeding.” In the darkness, he tore off a strip from the damaged pant leg. Along with a stick from the marshy ground, he made a crude tourniquet. He tightened it down. “Ah!...,” he screamed from the extreme pain.
He attempted to stand. “Ah!...,” he yelled again from the pain. “I need a strong stich to help me walk,” he said. In the darkness, he searched the ground while crawling for a stick that would work for a temporary cane. He picked up a somewhat thick, stout stick. “I hope this works,” he said as he hoisted himself up while in tremendous pain and swatting off the biting lizards. “Ah!!...,” he yelled again as he put some weight on his still bleeding, punctured leg.
He stood in the middle of a marshy, lizard-infested bog, while leaning heavily on the stick, in tremendous pain, while bleeding and delirious as he shivered from the cold. He thought, while totally exhausted and feeling cold, and defeated, and lizard bitten, “I’ve lost a lot of blood. I’m lost. I don’t actually know if Melá-Jutis even exists. Maybe I should turn back before I lose too much blood. I could die in this lizard infested swamp.” As he stood while delirious from the cold, the pain, and the exhaustion, while several creepy, crawly lizards crawled up his leg and bit him, his stick broke and he fell again.
“Ah!!! ...,” he screamed from the enormous pain as he collapsed to the ground. He quickly found an even larger stick. He lifted himself again as he strained, “Ah…Ah….” As he stood again while being covered in mud and now his own blood, while being bitten by lizards, he said, “I’m going to die in this swamp. I better go back.”
He began to depressingly hobble in the other direction. One step…two steps…three steps. Suddenly his inner-strength from deep within him, took charge. He said strongly in the darkness, “Maxx Stop! Art would take a bullet for you! You’re doing this for Art’s parents. Turn around and keep going!” he ordered himself.
With a newly found sense of courage, hope, and strength, Maxx ignored his hyperthermia, exhaustion, pain, and the multitude of biting lizards. “I’m doing this for you Art, and your parents,” he said boldly and strongly as he turned around and trudged on through the lizard-infested marsh in the darkness.
As he hobbled through the swamp in the darkness, while bleeding through his tourniquet, and fighting off the multitude of creepy crawly, biting lizards that were attacking him, he heard voices. As he struggled through the water, and mud, and the swarm of hungry lizards, the voices became stronger.
He waved his hands and yelled, “Over here!” as he saw a light coming toward him. He stood motionless as the light and the talking approached while the lizards swarmed and bit him.
“Hurry up,” said Earll Edwind, the wise old Seslean squirrel as he ran on his four little legs.
“We’re hurrying,” said Minsy Edwind, the smart grandma Seslean squirrel as she attempted to keep up with her speedy husband.
“I’m right behind you,” said Atin Riksem, as the retired star mesnuk player struggled to keep up while carrying a flash light.
“There he is. See Mom, I told you someone was hurt in the swamp,” said Kelli Goodin the greenish blue Seslean humming bird, as she giggled in her cute little girl humming bird giggle.
“You were right,” said Brendi Goodin, the bright green Seslean humming bird and Mother.
“Hurry up with that light, Atin!” said Earll Edwind as he scurried toward Maxx, “I know, whoever that is, they’re terrified, and they’re being eaten alive by lizards.”
The group approached Maxx as he stood in the dark bog, while his legs and back were covered in creepy, crawly, biting lizards. He could see someone with a light and two critters. “whose voices am I hearing?” he said while delirious and lizard covered.
As the group came closer, and he could see due to the stranger’s flashlight, he became shocked. “Those squirrels and humming birds are actually talking,” he said while shaking off the biting lizards and bleeding.
Atin Riksem hurried to him and supported him. He shined his light so Maxx’s face was eliminated. “Who are you? What are you doing out here in the dark, just before daylight? Do you want to be eaten alive by these swamp lizards?” asked Atin as he grabbed hold of the injured stranger and helped support him.
“Minsy, splash some of your lizard repellent on him before those biting lizards eat him,” said Earll Edwind.
“Quite right!” said Minsy as she quickly splashed her magical repellent on Maxx’s legs and back. As she splashed it on, she said, “Don’t you read the newspapers, Atin? This is Detective Maxx Zeqster from Kinkorx.”
Atin said embarrassingly, “Yes I do read! I will admit however, I’m not as smart as you, Minsy,” replied Atin sarcastically. He said to Maxx as the creepy, crawly, biting lizards were quickly fleeing his battered body, “Let’s get you back to my house and get you cleaned up. Then Minsy will get you fixed up as well.”
With exhaustion, delusion, and utter amazement Maxx replied as he grinned, “That would be great. I’m glad you found me.”
As Maxx awoke, he was amazed at what he saw. He was in a small comfortable room, in a small building behind the main house. He was covered with a nice, hand stitched, blanket. Sesla’s late morning sun was shining in the window. As he looked around, he saw several Seslean animals. There were two squirrels, two humming birds, two turtledoves, and a hyperactive chickadee. They were all reading The Wet Lands News and The Kvyutt Travelers News.
Minsy peeked up from her newspaper page and saw Detective Zeqster awake. “You’re awake,” said Minsy Edwind, the smart grandma squirrel, “Look everyone, Detective Zeqster is awake.”
“Your leg looks a lot better. Minsy fixed it while you were sleeping. Welcome to Melá-Jutis,” said Earll Edwind, the wise old gray squirrel and Minsy’s husband.
Petin Mink, the upper class, turtledove sauntered over and said, “I am Petin Mink. I am sure you have heard of me –”
“Pipe down, Petin,” said Wilna, “Why do you always assume that everyone has heard of you?” She turned toward Detective Zeqster, “Oh, excuse me Detective Zeqster, I’m Wilna Beich. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” said Wilna, the middle-aged mother, turtledove.
Just then, a hyperactive chickadee flew to Maxx’s bed. He said, “I’m Joe Winton. It’s a pleasure to meet you, meet you.” Then Joe fluttered back to his seat.
“I’m Kelli Goodin. You already met me,” giggled, the greenish blue girl humming bird as she hovered.
“I’m Brendi Goodin. I’m Kelli’s mother,” said the bright green humming bird as she hovered next to Kelli.
“Now that you’re feeling better, we were all wondering why you were walking through the swamp all alone before sunrise, this morning,” said Kelli.
“Kelli, don’t be so pushy,” said Brendi. She smiled at Maxx. “Please excuse my daughter. She’s…friendly,” said Brendi.
Maxx chuckled as he thought, “I see what Leqtus meant.” He said, “It’s quite alright. First, I have a question for you. Did Atin Riksem play mesnuk for the Guytic City Fighting Tobacco Farmers several decades ago?”
Earll Edwind spoke up. “That’s him all right. He was a lot thinner in those days. Since he retired, he sleeps a lot and he’s just a bit heavier,” he said as he made the “just a little bit” gesture with his fingers.
“Earll, don’t be rude,” said Minsy Edwind.
“I’m just being honest,” replied Earll.
Maxx smiled as he enjoyed the enchantment of the residents. “The reason why I came here is, I’m looking for a flower—”
“You came all the way out here for some flowers for your girlfriend?” asked Kelli Goodin as she giggled and interrupted him.
Maxx chuckled as he shook his head with enjoyment. “Not exactly. I have a friend who has very sick parents. I need a flower to make them well again,” said Maxx.
As he spoke, all of the residents sat and listened compassionately as they shook their heads in sympathy.
“In order to make the medicine, I need the stigma, style, ovary, and ovule with embryo sac from the Qjmyrre Flower while it’s in full bloom,” stated Maxx.
“Is that all?” said Petin Mink sarcastically.
“What my rude relative means is that the Qjmyrre Flowers grow in a small valley not far from here. The only problem is that Russull Tallon, the giant Seslean hawk has his nest in that valley,” said Wilna Beich, “It’s very dangerous for us to go there.”
Minsy Edwind said, “There are many enchanted flowers in Melá-Jutis. I use many of them for my medicines and potions.” She smiled, “Including lizard repellent. Qjmyrre Flowers are among the most powerful herbs here. Great care must be taken when making a potion from them. If someone mishandles the Qjmyrre Flower,” she cringed as she said, “There’s no way of knowing what or how catastrophic the results could be. Almost anything could happen. The magical power in that flower is unimaginable. Are you sure you need that one?” she asked with great concern.
Maxx smiled. “Yes, that’s the one I need. Can I retrieve the Qjmyrre Flower myself?” he asked.
Earll Edwind spoke up. “How are you at flying or climbing rock walls that are straight up?” he asked sarcastically.
Maxx cringed at the thought. “It sounds like I’ll need your help. I will distract Russull Tallon while someone gets my flower. Do you think that will work?” he asked.
“Great plan, great plan,” said Joe Winton, the hyperactive chickadee as he fluttered around the room, shortly.
“Just how do you plan to do that?” asked Petin Mink with skepticism.
Maxx smiled confidently as he said, “Just leave that to me. I’m a detective remember. I’m good at coming up with ideas.”
Just then, Atin Riksem walked into the room. He had just waked up. “Well, it looks like you’ve met everybody,” said Atin.
“We were just devising a plan to get his flower,” said Kelli Goodin as she giggled.
Atin stood clueless. “Do you need my help?” he asked.
“We’ll see,” said Earll Edwind.
“Let’s go. Let’s get Detective Zeqster’s flower,” said Minsy Edwind.
Maxx stood up from the bed. “What do you know, it doesn’t hurt,” he thought as he walked out of the room with his stick, and the other residents, as Atin walked back to his home.
Twenty Minutes Later
The group stood in an open, rocky canyon nearby. Minsy Edwind said as she pointed, “There’s you’re Qjmyrre Flowers.”
“And, there’s Russull Tallon’s nest. He’s somewhere nearby. He’s probably watching us right now,” said Earll Edwind as he pointed.
In a Nearby Tree Top
Russull Tallon, the giant Seslean hawk was watching with eager anticipation. His mouth was watering as he watched the tasty critters. “Which one of those tasty fools will I have for lunch?” thought Russull as he watched and smiled.
Maxx turned to Minsy. “You think Russull is watching us right now?” he asked.
She bobbed her head. “Yes. I’m sure he is. He’s very crafty. He’s waiting for an easy lunch,” she said.
Maxx bobbed his head and wiggled his lips. He thought, “My plan will work.” With the help of his trusty stick, he limped to the middle of the small canyon. He shouted, “Russull Tallon, I would like a word with you!”
Russull Tallon was in the treetop near them. He thought as he watched, “The stranger wants to talk to me? What could he possibly have to say that I would be interested in? He ignored the stranger and remained perched in the tall tree.
Upon seeing no movement, Maxx yelled again even louder, “Russull Tallon, I would like a word with you!”
“Fine! Let’s see what the idiot wants,” thought Russull as he left his high perch and flew toward Maxx.
As Maxx saw the ordinary Seslean Hawk swooping down out of the tree toward him, he raised his cane and held it like a perch. Russell flew down with great speed and landed on the stick.
The residents trembled with fear as Maxx talked with their greatest enemy.
“I’m here. What is it that you want to tell me?” asked Russell, as he looked Maxx straight in the eye, while perched on his stick.
Maxx thought, “Just as I suspected, Russell is arrogant just like Zog Morxoc, of the Kinkorx Police.” Maxx began his deal, “Do you ever wish these critters didn’t have anywhere to hide from you?”
Russell looked at him with surprise. He replied, “All the time. Why do you ask?”
“I can lead you to a place that is full of varmints and very few trees. There is nowhere for the ground varmints to hide. And…You would be the only hawk in the sky. Would you be interested?” asked Maxx slyly.
Russell was intrigued. “Where would this place be?” he asked with an evil smile.
Maxx thought, “I have him.” He said, “Back where I live. You will simply need to follow me from the air as I drive home. There, you will be free to eat all you want every day with very little effort. Not like here.” Maxx shook his head for the effect.
“What do you require to show me this, land of plenty?” asked Russell.
Maxx inwardly smiled. “My only condition is that you stop hunting these residents now. I will get what I need and we can leave here quickly. Wait for me back at the cabin,” said Maxx as he pointed to Atin Riksem’s home.
Russell thought for a moment. “I accept your offer. You better be telling the truth or else,” said Russell as he flew from Maxx’s perch towards Atin Riksem’s home.
The residents cheered as Russell Tallon flew away, “Ya!...Woo!...Awesome!” Joe Winton, the hyperactive chickadee fluttered around along with Brendi and Kelli Goodin.
Maxx said, “He won’t bother you anymore. Someone get my flowers so I can get back home with Russell.”
“We’ll get it for you,” said Earll Edwind. He and Minsy scurried up the rock walls like they were nothing. They quickly reached a patch of Qjmyrre Flowers. They picked several that were in full bloom. With their flowers, they scurried back down the steep rocky cliff back to Detective Zeqster.
After only minutes, Earll and Minsy proudly handed their bouquets of full bloom Qjmyrre Flowers to him. “Here you are. We hope they make your friends, parents feel better,” said Minsy.
“I hope so too,” said Maxx, “Let’s get back to the cabin. I have a long journey.”
The residents and Maxx, with his stick, hurriedly walked back to the cabin.
At The Cabin
“Thanks for the bag, Atin. I left mine in the car. Thanks Minsy, for the lizard repellent. It will be nice to avoid being attacked by those lizards this time. I have a long walk. Then I have an even longer drive. I need to go. Thanks for your help everyone,” he said as he looked up and saw Russull Tallon circling in the air.
“What did you say to him, anyway?” asked Atin.
“He reminds me of a former acquaintance. I appealed to his egotism,” said Maxx, as he began to walk toward the swamp with his stick and bag that is full of his precious, enchanted, Qjmyrre Flowers strapped over his shoulder, “Thanks again.”
“Remember what I said,” said Minsy loudly as Maxx walked away, “Great care must be taken when making a potion from the Qjmyrre Flowers. The magical powers of that herb are unconceivable.”
“I’ll remember. Thanks,” said Maxx loudly as he walked toward the swamp.
“Goodbye,” said the residents loudly as Maxx walked into the nearby marshland, as Russell Tallon circled high in the sky.
Maxx Zeqster, while being covered in lizard repellant, hobbled through the marshland, with the aid of his strong, trusty stick, in the direction of his convertible, while the bag over his shoulder contained many of his precious Qjmyrre Flowers.
As he trudged along, during the early afternoon, while attempting to avoid as much of the water and thorns as possible, he occasionally glanced into the Sesla sky. “There he is. Russell Tallon is still following me,” he thought numerous times along his journey while carrying his magical flowers in a bag strapped over his shoulder and using his trusty stick for support.
“At least this time, I have daylight to guide me and I’m well rested. Whatever Minsy Edwind gave me for my leg while I was sleeping, really worked. My leg is healing so fast and that was the most restful sleep I can ever remember. I wonder if I’m enjoying the benefits of other enchanted herbs as well?” he thought as he slowly walked through the marsh country with the help of his walking stick as Russell Tallon circled high above, without being attacked by the multicolored lizards.
As Maxx Carefully Walked
While avoiding holes, sharp sticks, and the water as much as possible, he gazed at his strolling watch. “I’ve been walking speedily for three hours. My car should be just up ahead,” he thought as he paused for a moment.
As he paused, he saw several lizards that seemed to be watching him from a safe distance. “I wonder if Minsy’s lizard repellent is made of enchanted herbs as well? It seems to be working extremely well. In the daylight, and without being attacked, those lizards are very pretty. Their multi-colored designs and bright colors are impressive. I will have to add them to a painting someday,” he thought as he made a mental picture for a later painting.
He continued his trudge along the side of another bog as he avoided more thorny bushes. “It’s a lot easier to avoid being picked to death when I can see,” he thought as he continued through the marsh country. As he walked, he gazed at the sky again. “Russell Tallon is still following me,” he said with surprise.
After Another Hour of Bog Trekking
Maxx saw his convertible. “There it is,” he exclaimed with relief. He continued the brief distance to the car. “It’s right where I left it. I don’t think Melá-Jutis gets very many visitors,” he thought. “Look at all of those lizards. They’re covering my car,” he said as he began to knock them off. As he stood next to his convertible and removed them, the lizards quickly fled the area. “The lizard repellent is still working,” he thought.
Maxx opened the unlocked door. He removed the shoulder bag full of enchanted, magical, Qjmyrre Flowers and gently placed it next to the other bag on the front seat that he forgot to take.
He saw numerous multi-colored lizards inside his car as he sat the bag in place. “How did they get into my car?” he asked as he saw the very colorful lizards lying inside his car. “I think they will leave on their own when I sit down,” he thought as he entered his car and sat in the driver’s seat, while leaving the door open. The numerous, multi-colored lizards quickly fled his car like their lives depended on it.
Maxx gazed at his life-saving, loyal, trusty stick. “You served me so splendidly. You deserve a special place in my home to remind me of this journey. Not that I could ever forget this land that receives a large dosage of Sesla’s enchantments,” he thought.
He carefully placed his loyal stick into the back seat. “I will paint a picture of this magical land someday. In that painting, I will include you, my trusty friend. Without you, I could not have completed this journey,” he said with teary eyes to his stick.
Maxx gazed into the sky once more. He smiled in amazement. “Russell Tallon is still following me. He’s taking his new “land of plenty” very seriously,” he thought with a sly grin, “What I promised him was true. I hope he likes the hot weather.”
He searched around his seat for the keys. “Ah…I left the keys in the ignition,” he said in surprise as he saw them. He turned on the engine. “Rruumm…,” roared the motor. “The car still sounds great,” he thought happily as he began to turn around in the over-grown path.
Maxx slowly and carefully turned his convertible around and began the long journey back to Kinkorx.
Twelve Hours Later
At the home of Tonnus and Dylora Kin in suburbia Kinkorx, Maxx drove into The Kin’s driveway, completely exhausted, the following morning as Sesla’s sun was beginning to rise, and parked.
He stepped out of his car with his shoulder bag full of Qjmyrre Flowers and his new friend, the stick, while wearing his bloody, muddy, torn strolling suit. He gazed into the morning sky. “I wonder where Russell Tallon is? I hope he likes the desert heat,” he thought.
With the aid of his stick, he hobbled to the porch as the front door opened and Leqtus came out. Leqtus saw his bloody, tattered, filthy appearance along with his muddy shoulder bag and long, thick swamp stick. He asked with concern, “How was your trip?”
Maxx smiled exhaustedly as he yawned, “Splendid. I met many new friends. I also have numerous Qjmyrre Flowers in full bloom.”
Leqtus noticed the strange odor radiating from him. “You look like you need a bath and some sleep,” said Leqtus. He suddenly began to tremble with fear as he recalled, “As I previously stated, you will need to contact Dr. Rewqust to have my formula developed. I put a copy of it in the envelope that I gave you. He will need the formula and your Qjmyrre Flowers. No other lab on Sesla will perform that type of work. My formula requires the magical flower and a number of immoral, unethical, and illegal steps to produce the medication.” He continued to tremble. “Don’t involve me in this! Don’t implicate me in any way! If you do, Dr. Rewqust will come after me,” he said while panicking and trembling.
Maxx understood completely as he watched Leqtus tremble. “I promise you, I will keep you out of this. This will be between me and Qashlet Lab only,” said Maxx confidently, “We can forget you and I ever talked.” He paused while he yawned. “I’ll send your parents a check for the first bill as I promised. They will receive it in a few days. Have a pleasant day.”
He began to walk toward his car while yawning with his bag of Qjmyrre Flowers, and his trusty stick, while wearing his bloody, filthy, tattered strolling suit that was saturated with Minsy Edwind’s enchanted lizard repellent.
With his stick and bag, he crawled back into his convertible and began the short drive to his home in Bedsult, as Sesla’s sun was rising in the morning sky.