It was serendipitous that “three things” from Western Romance writer Mary J McCoy-Dressel fueled the story-line of this episode. While there’s not a typical romance involved, there is something sort of along those lines.
Mary has been a great supporter of this blog and all the serials. In fact, if I were to rewind, you’d see that she sent the very first thing, for the very first of these interactive serials.
Since Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers has been progressing for several months, you might want to rewind to episodes four through six. One element of today’s chapter is rooted in Episode-4. However, I’m rewinding to Episode-6 where it really escalated.
Ah! Here’s the locomotive now. All aboard!
A Rewind from Episode-6
The chimp must have seen me looking back at him. It started wreaking havoc in the branches of the tree, jumping up and down and screeching bloody murder. His fellows in the distance screamed back excitedly. It sounded like there were a lot of them. I remembered nervously how strong they were. I hoisted the carpet bag, putting its strap over my shoulder so I could take Copper’s hand. I had to make sure we weren’t separated.
An earsplitting screech made me look over my shoulder. However, the noise was not simian; rather it was a metallic sound. Then I heard the shrill whistle of escaping steam. The doors of the outbuilding where Cornelis was working burst open. The road locomotive moved toward us with a loud clickity-clack clickity-clack. As it increased speed, the clicks and clacks blurred together into a continuous noise.
Copper squeezed my hand. I followed her gaze. The chimpanzees had amassed at the shade tree. They milled curiously as they watched the road locomotive. One and then another would chatter to the others. I had a bad feeling that they were working themselves up for an attack.
And now, from last time…
The purple people eater flapped her broad wings and arched her back, fiercely roaring heavenward. Then she belched an enormous ball of fire that spread out above her and Absinthe like a lethal flaming dome. Suddenly, both Absinthe and the purple fairy dropped from the sky, the burning dome hurtling downward, ever closer to them.
“Lord of Alchemy!” Call Hicks yelled as Cornelis used one of his tricks to run right through the door without opening it.
“Cornelis, no!” I screamed. “You’ll be burned to a crisp!”
28. Well-bred Man, Courtship, Horseback
Cal Hicks yelled at me that it wasn’t safe. His expression immediately became rueful and he apologized profusely for his tone. Hicks truly was a well-bred man — or rather ape. However, my feet had taken me to the door before my common sense caught up with them.
When I opened the door I saw Absinthe and the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater hurtling toward the ground. The vast dome of fire continued to descend.
The tiny green skunk-looking fairy shrieked something at the purple people eater and grabbed onto the tip of her tail as they fell. Absinthe used a trick like the one Cornelis sometimes used to send his voice. Though I didn’t understand him, I clearly heard him snuffle and grunt to the Alchemist.
Both Cornelis and the dragon looked at Absinthe doubtfully. Cornelis held up the harmonic tuner and gave it one sharp ring. Absinthe echoed the tone and the pitch of his voice merged with the harmonic sound. I could see a emerald aura stretching up from Cornelis to the Green Fairy. Absinthe glowed verdantly and the intensity of the aura doubled. I was sure they had somehow combined their powers.
The she-dragon looked at Absinthe as he clung to the tip of her tail. She snorted a puff of purple smoke that briefly circled her one-eyed one-horned head. Then she flicked her tail, launching the tiny Green Fairy even closer to the flames above.
Absinthe summersaulted as he soared pointing his bantam backside toward the dome of fire. He lifted his fluffy tail and proceeded to produce one of his powerfully potent poots. The forceful fairy fart flew against the flaming dome.
I had first-hand knowledge of the fairy’s flatulence. When startled or threatened, the Green Fairy produced a spray that was essentially a very highly concentrated form of the liquor, absinthe. I was fearful to see him aim that fart at the flames. I was certain it would only make the fire worse.
Cringing, I looked over at Cornelis. The Alchemist drew a deep breath and then blew upward. I couldn’t see his breath, but I remembered Cornelis telling me that his alchemy sometimes worked to exchange or transform one thing into another. As I watched, the cloud of green vapor from Absinthe’s bottom expanded to the width of the flaming dome.
My arm went up reflexively to cover my face when the green vapor met the flames. A blinding flash and a loud crack of thunder shattered the air. I braced myself for the blast of a huge explosion, but the opposite happened. The alchemically charged green vapor caused the dome of flames to implode.
The immense Purple Fairy and the tiny Green Fairy settled to the ground, singed but unharmed. I heard a long sustained grumble. After a moment I realized that the sound was a low growl from the dragon. Absinthe snorted and snuffled and the Purple Fairy continued to growl. I gathered they had not yet settled their differences.
Glimmering green powder slowly drifted to the ground. It settled on the two fairies, though they didn’t seem to realize it. I stretched out my hand, watching as it dusted my palm. Unexpectedly I felt content and happy.
“What is this shimmering powder?” I wanted to know.
“It’s residue,” Cornelis said with a shrug. “It’s what was left of Absinthe’s defensive spray after it caused the flames to implode. Have a care not to inhale the powder. It’s not as potent as the concentrated absinthe vapors that Absinthe sprays, but it’s still intoxicating,” he cautioned.
Copper ran to the doorway, with Viola right behind. The violet complected chimpanzee tried to grab the girl’s arm, but Copper was too quick. Happily she stopped well away from the one horned cyclops Purple Fairy.
The sharp point of the dragon’s fat curved black onyx horn gleamed in the sunlight as the two fairies continued to make odd noises at one another. However, they did seem calmer. I thought I could see a bit of greenish dust on the black onyx horn. I wondered if the powder had the same comforting effect on the fairies as it had on me.
“Don’t they like each other?” Copper asked.
“She’s his mate,” Cornelis said of the gigantic purple fae. “They had a disagreement and both stormed off their separate ways. Each was too stubborn to seek out the other.”
“You mean Absinthe was married to that big dragon?” Copper asked incredulously.
“Well, that would have been quite an unusual courtship, wouldn’t it?” Cornelis began. “However, Aubrieta — that’s the Purple Fairy’s name — she wasn’t always a dragon. I’m not sure how Aubrieta wandered into this place. However, something about the combination of her particular magic and the nature of this amethyst world transformed her. Of course, that situation made it even less likely for them to patch up their differences,” the Dutchman added.
Cal Hicks cautiously stepped out of the laboratory building. Cornelis assured him that all was well. He sketched a bow toward the two fairies, but did not approach them.
“Lord of Alchemy, you named the Purple Fairy Aubrieta?” the amethyst ape asked and his mouth twitched and puckered. “Aubrieta is a tiny purple flower,” he whispered but failed to completely suppress a soft chuckle. “No offense. It’s just that I enjoy the irony of a one eyed one horned gigantic fairy being named for a tiny flower,” Cal said.
The mannerly ape composed himself and became businesslike. “My family surely heard the commotion down at the main house. That fireball was probably visible for quite some distance as well,” Cal reminded us. “Since the effects of being too near their doppelgängers made young Copper and Lady Felicity so ill, I’m sure there is great merit to your assertion that bringing any of the two together would be dangerous indeed.”
“I’ll take care of that,” Viola called out as she came around the corner of the building leading an aubergine coated horse. “Swift and I might be long in the tooth,” Viola began and patted the horse. “If Nate and his wife and Penny are faster than us, we’ll still meet them on the trail. I can turn them back, or prevent them trying to come in the first place, whichever the case may be,” she said as Cal helped her onto the horse.
We watched as Viola left on horseback. However, our attention quickly transferred to the fairies. Absinthe made a series of consolatory sounding chirps. Then he fluttered up and perched on the curve of the dragon’s black onyx horn. Aubrieta rolled her single eye upward at the tiny green fae.
I thought she was coughing. A puff of smoke came from her snout. Absinthe started chirping happily and flew backward several feet from Aubrieta’s face so she could see him better. The dragon’s mouth curved and I realized she was not coughing, but laughing.
With an awkward pucker, Aubrieta spat out what looked like a purple grape. She breathed lavender smoke onto the grape. Absinthe chittered encouragingly. The grape grew and grew to the size of a house. It continued to expand until it finally exploded into a purple mist.
Aubrieta was suddenly transformed into a winged purple skunk-looking fae as tiny as Absinthe. She still had only one amber eye. In her dragon form she had a fat curved black horn, but it was changed to a golden unicorn-like horn.
As the purple fog settled, dozens of big chimpanzees could be seen. They had the coloring of our home, not the hues of the amethyst world.
First one or two, then most of the chimps realized their nakedness. Clearly embarrassed, they tried to cover themselves and hide. However, a few stood boldly and cheered that they had returned home. When they saw the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater, they too scattered and ran away.
“Are those…?” I began but the power of speech left me.
“Those naughty chimps!” Copper exclaimed.
Cornelis Drebbel folded his arms across his chest in a self-satisfied posture. “Aubrieta, the purple people eater, didn’t devour the chimps, or rather the folk of this place who were lost at the abandoned chapel we saw on the way here,” Cornelis explained. “However, she was angry at the way she had been treated here, and she used her power to banish them. They of course ended up in our world.”
“So the chimp who was gesticulating what looked like sign language for Daddy—” I started to ask a question but the Dutchman finished my sentence.
“That clever chimp had figured out that Calvin Hixon, Copper’s father in our world, was the doppelgänger of Cal Hicks here,” Cornelis said with a nod.
Copper moved to the amethyst ape and took his hand. “Can you help us find my Daddy?” she asked him with wide imploring eyes.
As the chimps fled into the distance I saw that their fur was already turning various shades of purple. That reminded me of the device that looked like a silver toothpick holder. It was shaped like a little gazebo with a domed roof supported by columns. Within was a crystal bird with wings outstretched. Tiny holes in the rounded roof held toothpicks.
It was a measuring device; if the toothpicks started to turn lavender, it was a warning that we had been in the amethyst world too long. If all the toothpicks turned purple we were in serious danger of being unable to return home. Should the bird turn purple, it would be too late.
I quickly took the detector out of the Dutchman’s bag so I could examine it. The toothpicks were lavender.
Video: Love potion number 9, The Searchers
Now that the army of naughty chimps has returned to their amethyst world, how does that effect the search for Copper’s missing father? However, the meter device that detects the danger level of their exposure to that world has begun to turn lavender — a warning sign. Will our trio be trapped forever in the strange land where everything is purple? Be at the train station next time to learn more.
Don’t leave yet — we still have a recipe! I briefly wondered what kind of “food” I could take from the three things that fueled the story-line of this chapter. The obvious answer was bread. The next thing that was clear to me was where to get a recipe. That was easy! I turned to the wonderful Chitra Jagadish of Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen where I’ve often seen lovely bread recipes.
Recipe: Garlic Parsley Flat Bread
Photo and recipe credit: Chitra Jagadish
Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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