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My alarm began blaring at 7 am that following morning. I am sure that I don’t have to explain how early that is when there is no school. Yet, my excitement drove me like it was Christmas morning. I leapt out of bed and dashed to my closet. Quickly changing out of my pajamas, I got dressed, grabbed my wand and went to leave my bedroom when I nearly tripped over Princess Merran. She stood at the door like she was waiting for me to open it. When I did, she gracefully exited. I rolled my eyes at her antics and headed for Whizzy’s room.

Grandpa Whizzenmog met me in the hallway outside my brother’s room. He, too, was dressed and ready for our trip.

“Do we dare enter?” He said with a smile.

“We had better knock,” I replied back with a slight giggle.

He knocked on Whizzy’s bedroom door three times. There was no reply.

“Whizzy! Phillip! It is time to go,” I called so they would hear me through the door.

My grandpa reached for the door handle.

“Stop!” I blurted out. “Please, don’t do that. What if he isn’t…decent?”

“Whizzy? My dear he’s been indecent since the day he was born.” Then he rubbed my back to calm my nerves. “Just wait right here.”

Then Grandpa Whizzenmog opened the door, stepped inside, gave me a sly wink and closed the door behind him. Next, his booming voice erupted from the bedroom. “Michael Whizzenmog, wake up!”

I could hear shouting, followed by crashing, and I think someone farted. The commotion continued for a few minutes. Then my grandpa came into the hallway and quickly slammed the door. He was covering his nose and mouth with his shirt. The door handle violently wiggled; then Phillip and Whizzy pounded on the door. They were trying to get out like some hideous creature was attempting to eat them alive.

“What is wrong? What happened?” I screamed in a panic.

“Open this door, Grandpa!” Whizzy yelled in a fit of rage.

“You must pay the penalty for keeping us from our departing time, Michael Whizzenmog.” Grandpa chuckled heartily with his nose and mouth still covered within his shirt. His eyes were watering when he looked at me.

I gave him a shocked expression and shook my head.

“It was Whizzy’s alarm…do I have to pay the penalty, sir?” Phillip cried.

“Sorry, my boy. Guilt by association.” He cackled like a high school freshman.

“What did you do?” I scolded.

“Just gave the boy some of his own medicine.”

“Did you fart?” I was most disgusted to imagine my grandpa intentionally passing gas and then trapping my brother and Phillip inside the room to suffer.  “Open the door!”

His laughter was growing with every second.

“Now!” I shouted like my mom.

The door flung open causing Phillip and Whizzy to crash to the floor gasping for air. Phillip crawled down the hallway.

“What did you eat?” Phillip squealed in a girlish voice.

“That…was…awful,” Whizzy said between deep breaths of fresh air. “I’m gonna get you back, Grandpa.”

“Son, you can’t beat the master,” my grandpa replied, patting Whizzy on top of the head.

“I hope that isn’t your power in Mistasia,” Whizzy blurted out. “Well, actually that would be pretty cool.” He pointed at our giggling elder. “Just don’t use it on us…remember, we are on your side.”

“You two are embarrassing,” I yelled. “Let’s just go, please. We have to get to Mistasia and you guys are screwing around.”

It was December 16th and my parents had gone to finish their holiday shopping. They would be gone all day. It made today our best opportunity to travel to Mistasia and hopefully return before my parents could realize that we had disappeared.

“We have around ten hours in Greenville,” I explained.

“Good that gives us about ten days in Mistasia then,” Whizzy replied. “That isn’t too bad.”

We had gathered in the basement…that was, everyone except Grandpa Whizzenmog.

“Where is your grandpa, Rachel?” Princess Merran questioned.

As we looked around, he finally appeared at the top of the stairs. We watched as he slowly maneuvered the staircase and walked across the basement to the sliding glass door that had served as the portal to Mistasia for our previous trips.

I watched as he adjusted his gloves and then grabbed the handle to the door.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I am opening the door,” he said with a smart tone.

Whizzy and I shared a confused glance.

“But we have to go through the door,” Whizzy said before I could.

“That is the portal to Mistasia, Rainer Whizzenmog,” Princess Merran added.

“Well, we can’t really go back through the same way you came out can we? Weren’t you all banished?” He slid the door open and walked out into the cold winter air.

Phillip was the first to follow. Then we all proceeded to walk out into our wintry backyard.

I carried Princess Merran in my arms, and Aevion sat on Phillip’s shoulder. We didn’t talk much. Instead we just followed my grandpa as he walked through the backyard and into the forest.

It was cold and slightly windy. It had apparently snowed last night, as a fresh layer of white fluffy snow hung on the tree branches above our heads. A pile of snow slid off one tree and landed directly in front of Phillip.

“That was close,” Phillip said, sounding relieved it didn’t land on his head. Then more snow tumbled from the same tree and hit Whizzy. Phillip and I laughed at Whizzy as he brushed the snow from his hair.

“That’s not funny!” my brother yelled. He looked up into the trees. They swayed in the wind. More snow began to fall toward us. Phillip, Whizzy and I dashed away just in time.

“Where are we going, Whizzy?” Phillip spoke out the side of his mouth. He looked worried. “Your grandpa isn’t gonna smoke us out again, is he?”

How disgusting…boys and their bodily functions. How could someone be so proud when they make a room smell so badly that no one can even breathe?

“I know; it was like rotten cabbage and dead animals!” Whizzy laughed.

“Don’t say dead animals,” Phillip gulped. “We’re all gonna be animals when we get back to Mistasia, and I don’t wanna be dead!” He cried.

We were silent again. I knew we all were thinking about what Phillip had just said. Everyone looked worried.

“I don’t think we can just walk to Mistasia,” Whizzy snarled in an attempt to be funny and lighten the mood.

It didn’t work.

“No, we cannot, Whizzy. It is just up ahead,” Grandpa Whizzenmog responded.

“The river?” I muttered. “But it is frozen over.”

“Water makes for a strong magical conductor, Rachel,” Grandpa Whizzenmog explained.

“Condu-what?” Whizzy showed how little he paid attention in science class.

“A conductor, Whizzy. It is something that allows another force…in this case magic, to flow properly. Even with the water being frozen, it will let the magic in my wand through…sometimes even magnifying its power,” Our grandpa elaborated as he stepped up to the river’s edge.

“I’m not really liking this whole jumping into a frozen river idea,” Whizzy whined.

“Then you don’t have to come,” Grandpa Whizzenmog replied. “You can stay home and help your parents wrap gifts.” He turned back and smiled at me.  I loved it when he picked on Whizzy.

Grandpa Whizzenmog adjusted his snowcap and then pulled a straight wooden stick from his boot. It was his wand. He studied it longingly. It must have been decades since he used it. Running his fingers along the length of his wand, he inhaled deeply.

“Let’s see if I remember how to use this,” he said.

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