“Granny? Gramps?” Dylan called out as he and Ella entered the house. They passed the mayor’s office (one of the “benefits” of living in the town hall was having a lot of meetings held there) and walked into the kitchen. Edna, their grandmother, was in there with a big white colander, her sleeves rolled up to her elbows as she dug around the sink. She looked up from her work.
“There you two are. Just in time, I washed some strawberries for y’all,” she pulled the colander out of the sink and set it on a towel on top of the black counter. “I’ll cut ‘em up.”
“Yay!” Ella rushed over to the table, sliding into a seat. “Do we have any yogurt?”
“Lucky for you, I ran out and got some while y’all were at the library,” Edna opened the refrigerator and pulled out a tub of vanilla yogurt. “Did y’all find what you were looking for?”
Dylan looked as his backpack shiftily. “Yeah,” he lied.
“Good, good. Gilbert says hi, by the way,” Edna said as she scooped some yogurt into a bowl.
“Gilbert!” Ella cheered excitedly. Gilbert was the man who worked at the grocery store, the family’s favorite cashier.
“That man was goin’ on and on ‘bout some...some centaur he came across,” Edna continued, rolling her eyes. Ella and Dylan tensed up, turning to each other with wide brown eyes. “More than the usual. I swear, the people of Cliffhaven all believe in magic, there isn’t a single soul who doesn’t,” Edna shook her head as she set two bowls in front of the children.
“B-But what if the centaur was real?” Ella tried. Her grandmother just scoffed.
“Oh, don’t you two get in on it too,” she chuckled. “I don’t know how everyone in town got to believing all of this folklore.”
What will happen if Granny sees one of the creatures I accidentally let into our world? Dylan wondered. Will she believe in all of this magic business then?
I wanna see a centaur! Ella thought.
“Dylan, have I given you any chores for this afternoon?” Edna asked, turning to her grandchildren. Dylan’s shoulders fell.
“Good. I have some stuff I want you to drop off at the post office.”
“Alright…” Dylan shoveled the last of his strawberries into his mouth before pushing himself out of the chair.
“I wanna go too!” Ella hopped up. “I can send my letter to mommy and daddy! Let me go get it!” she rushed upstairs to the bedroom she and Dylan were sharing.
Edna chuckled. “You two have fun,” she said, picking up some envelopes from the desk and handing it to Dylan. “But don’t get into any trouble. Don’t run into any centaurs,” she winked.
Dylan laughed nervously. “We won’t. They aren’t real, right?”
“Of course not. They only exist in stories,” Edna turned her back to him to pick up their empty bowls.
They used to, Dylan thought as Ella bounded back down the stairs, footsteps as loud as an elephant. “I’m ready!” she held the pink envelope above her head. She skipped as she followed Dylan out the screen door. Edna leaned against the counter and sighed.
“You sure do keep those kids busy, Edna,” Mayor Edgar Maklif said as he peered from behind the corner.
“I thought you were at a meeting, dear,” Edna gasped with surprise.
“It ended,” he walked into the kitchen and kissed his wife on the cheek. “I heard you say something about a centaur.”
Edna groaned. “I was joking, Edgar. There is no such thing as-”
“You don’t know that,” Edgar interrupted.
“You’re just as bad as the rest of them, Edgar,” Edna laughed, shaking her head. “You’re just as bad as the rest."
“They’re on the move!” Lilith alerted the others from the window, watching as Dylan and Ella walked out of the house. “But it doesn’t look like they’re headed this way!”
Sera walked up next to her dragon, absentmindedly putting one hand on his back as she looked out the window. “Where are they going?”
“Does it matter?” Rebecca asked from her spot on the hay, tying pieces of hay into knots and tossing them on the ground with boredom. “They don’t have to be with us every second of the day.”
“But we don’t have to be cooped up in the stables every second of the day, either!” Alexandria pointed out, waving her sword for emphasis. “If everything else from the book is free to roam around, like that troll, why can’t we?”
“Yeah!” Sera turned to face them. “The pirate’s got a point! Why are we listening to two kids, anyway?”
“Because they’re trying to get us back home,” Sofia stood up and stepped between Sera and Alex, trying to calm the two villains down. “The best way we can do that is to stay put!”
“Actually, Your Highness, I think you may be mistaken,” Kyros spoke up. The characters all turned to the demon who was sitting on the door of a stable, legs crossed, cane dangling limply from his fingertips. His gray eyes trailed along the group. “The best way to get back is to get the pages, and our memories, back.”
The group was silent, so he decided to continue calmly.
“We can sense when a page is near, as we have learned,” he motioned to Sera. “Perhaps, when all the pages have been gathered, we can figure out a way to get back.”
“That’s a good point,” Rebecca reluctantly agreed, rubbing her chin.
“Dylan has the books still, remember?” Alexandria reminded. “And now they’re probably running away from us! We have to go get them from him!”
“Way ahead of you,” Sera turned back to the window and waved her hand. In the distance, the two siblings froze.
Dylan choked as his steps were cut off. His eyes trailed down to his feet as he shook, trying to move.
“What’s goin’ on?!” Ella gasped, struggling to move as well.
“I remember this feelin’...” Dylan breathed. His face fell into a scowl. “It’s that dragon girl…”
“Yeah, that dragon girl!” Sera cackled as she walked up from behind them, snatching the backpack off of Dylan’s back.
“What are you doing?!” Dylan gasped, unable to reach for it as she dug through the bag and pulled out the two books. “We were helping you!”
“Where were you going, then?” Alexandria stalked up from the other side of Dylan, staring him down with her one good eye. Dylan heard quick footsteps from behind him, and suddenly the pirate was pushed away from Dylan.
“We just need to all calm down for a second, Captain,” Sofia said, hands on Alex’s shoulders. Zach came up as well, blocking Sera from Dylan.
“We were goin’ to the post office!” Ella cheered, barely noticing that her shadow was still stuck in Sera’s grasp. “Wanna come?”
“You weren’t running away?” Alexandria questioned, looking over Sofia’s shoulders as Kyros and Rebecca calmly joined the rest.
“I could have told you that much,” Rebecca sighed. “Serafina, would you let the children go?”
Sera grunted but waved her hand. Dylan breathed a sigh of relief as his body relaxed. Ella went straight for Sera, jumping and skipping around her. “HOORAY! You can come on an adventure with us!”
“An adventure?” Sera spun around, trying to look at the constantly-moving child.
“To the POST OFFICE!”
“What’s a post office?” Sofia asked.
“It’s where you drop off letters to send to people. This is for my mom 'n dad in Nashville,” Ella explained, holding out her pink envelope. “Next letter, I’ll tell them all about you guys and how Dylan released three magical worlds into this one!"
“No you won’t!” Dylan snapped. “They would flip! I'd be so grounded.”
“You said you would check if your grandparents were suspicious. And were they?” Rebecca asked, taking the envelopes out of Dylan’s hands to study them.
“Alright then,” Rebecca decided, handing the envelopes back. “We shall go to this ‘post office’ and see if we can sense any pages around this town.”
“Yay! Adventuring!” Ella danced around Rebecca’s legs, occasionally tapping on her armor. The warrior princess smiled and patted her on the head.
“Yes. Let’s go adventuring.”