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Later that night, I stood outside the door to the room where my grandpa slept. Whizzy and I had always known him as Grandpa, but he was the original Michael Whizzenmog. His middle name was Rainer. My dad is Michael Whizzenmog, junior, and my brother is the third.

There was a pounding in my chest as I stood, hesitantly, outside the door. I could feel my heart pumping blood through my body like a speeding roller coaster. It was something I had never noticed before our trips to Mistasia. Now everything seemed clearer…more noticeable. My senses were so focused. I wished I could be this focused in math class…maybe I wouldn’t have gotten a “C” on my first semester exam.

It was 10:15 pm. Grandpa Whizzenmog was surely asleep, but I needed to know that he was still going. Something in my gut told me something was wrong. I could hear the sound of music from Whizzy’s video game in the distance. I scanned the hallway before knocking. No one was around.

My body moved in slow motion. I softly tapped my knuckles on the door as if it was made of glass and afraid it would shatter.

“Why am I so nervous?” I muttered to myself. My hands felt sweaty.This is ridiculous.”

I felt like a criminal. All I wanted to do was talk with my grandpa about a secret magical world where an evil king has taken over and we are trying to overthrow him.

“Oh that’s why I’m nervous…I sound crazy!” I answered my own question, which now I realize doesn’t make me seem very sane in the first place.

The door opened.

I gasped.

“Rachel?” my grandpa questioned, sounding as surprised as I was to find me standing outside his door this late at night.

“Grandpa,” I replied.

“Are you all right?”

I nodded, “Sorry to bother you. I’ll go back to bed.”

“My dear, come in.” He placed his large hand on my shoulder. It seemed so light and delicate for something that resembled a bear claw in size.

He walked me to a single wooden chair at the desk along the wall. Then he sat on the bed. We remained quiet for a moment. I avoided his eyes, but I knew he was looking right at me. Instead I stared at a picture of our family sitting on the nightstand. It was my grandpa’s. He had brought it with him on his trip. That is when I noticed this room looked like my grandpa had lived in it for years. The covers on the bed and curtains on the wall were the same, a dark orange like the leaves in fall. Yet, on the nightstand were his reading glasses and chrome-colored watch. His jacket was wrapped around the chair I sat in. I could smell his aftershave on its collar. He had made this room his home. That was when I saw a strange object sitting next to his glasses that I had never seen before. It was small and dark green, yet it glowed like a flame inside lighted it.

“Grandpa, what is that?”

“Ah…that is an emerald. It is a very rare gemstone.”

“Did it belong to Grandmother?” I questioned. I couldn’t remember her ever talking about it, but she had died nearly five years ago. Maybe I had just forgotten.

My grandpa changed the subject. “Rachel, what brings you to my door at this hour?” He raised his eyebrow.

I still couldn’t look in his eyes. This whole situation was making me very uncomfortable. Was I really about to ask my grandpa, a man I loved and admired, if he was a coward? I must be insane to even believe Princess Merran for a second.

The emerald glimmered in the corner of my eye. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was mesmerizing.

“Rachel!” My grandpa sternly called. “You are acting strangely…like your brother.”

I laughed. I was acting very strangely, but lately everything in my life was strange. “Grandpa, why didn’t you return to Mistasia?”

“Love,” he answered without hesitation. “My priorities changed. I met your grandmother, had a family and moved far away from that life.” He didn’t appear to have any regrets, but tears formed in his aged eyes.

I didn’t know if he was thinking about Grandma or Mistasia.

“Didn’t you ever wonder what had happened in Mistasia?” I wanted to know how he left it behind so easily. I had been a wreck since we left and it had only been a few hours!

“I always knew it would find me.”

“Find you?” I asked. “Why were you hiding?”

“Mistasia had changed. Everything had changed, my dear.” He rubbed the back of his neck.

“How had Mistasia changed? What made you leave?” I needed to know. Mistasia was dangerous now, but only because my grandpa had left it unprotected.

“Sometimes one choice is all it takes to alter the course of everything, Rachel. Just one.” Then he stopped explaining. He seemed very upset.

We sat together silently for a few moments as my grandpa struggled to regain his composure. He rubbed his hand over his mouth and took a deep breath.

Finally, I spoke out, “It is time to return, Grandpa.”

He nodded. “Off to bed now. We have quite a journey ahead of us tomorrow.”

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