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   Phillip, red-faced with anger, stomped out the front door muttering to himself. He walked with a noticeable limb. A stabbing pain shot up his inner thigh after stumbling down the steps and landing on the walkway. Eyes bulging in pain, he groaned but held it together. He was about to explode in rage. He continued down the walkway, heading straight for his vehicle, as Whizzy dashed out the front door.

   “Phillip. Phillip!” He pleaded, walking backward in front of his friend who just stared straight through him. Phillip just wanted as far away from Rachel Whizzenmog as he could get.

   “I never should have come here!” Phillip grumbled through his teeth.

   Rachel had moved to watch in the window where Phillip had seen her earlier. She didn’t turn the light on though. She just stood in the dark. Her smile was missing too. Hidden. She was disappointed with how she had treated Phillip. It seemed very funny at the time, but after seeing how mad he became, she slightly regretted it.

   “Wait! Phillip!” Whizzy barked with a forceful yet high-pitched tone. He was still in the midst of puberty, being one of the late bloomers at Greenville High School. In November, he tried to grow a mustache for charity with his comic book club friends and only managed two wispy hairs. Finally, as a last resort, Whizzy placed his hands upon Phillip’s chest. It was comical to watch as Phillip barely even hesitated, pushing Whizzy onto the grass at the end of the walkway. Whizzy stumbled and started to fall, when Phillip snatched him by the wrist.     The small-framed, red-headed boy hung above the ground, only his heels touching the damp grass below.

He turned to his best friend with a smirk. “Thanks! I knew you wouldn’t let me down.” Phillip yanked Whizzy up into the air and planted him firmly on the sidewalk beside him.

    “I’m leaving, Whizzy.” Phillip moved to his driver’s side door as quickly as he could, hunched over in discomfort. Saving Whizzy hadn’t helped the pain he felt. A metallic thud cracked the silence of the night. Phillip’s car rattled violently.

   “You two bicker like a couple of sulking wolverines!”

    “Grace!” Whizzy excitedly ran across the grass at the sight of a large brown eagle perched atop Phillip’s car.

   She teetered between the two teenage boys, adjusting her wings in discomfort. Traveling to Greenville caused her transformation into an eagle just as Whizzy turned into a red fox in Mistasia. She was proud of her form. Her family’s crest was an eagle, but it didn’t help the tightness she felt. It had been quite some time since she had last flown. It was why she had landed so abruptly on Phillip’s roof. She was aiming for the soft grass but misjudged the wind.

   “Whizzy.” She bowed her head to him still moving about as though her entire body was itchy. “Phillip Harper.” She greeted him as well. They were eye to eye.

   Rachel Whizzenmog burst through the front door, sprinting. She skidded to a stop, joining Whizzy. Her auburn hair was flying forward into her face, forgetting to stop with the rest of her.

   “Rachel?” Grace seemed surprised to see her. “I thought you two were at odds.” Grace turned her eagle head back toward Phillip who rolled his eyes and sneered. Rachel smiled but attempted to hold back her glee at Phillip’s noticeable reaction until he looked at her.

   “Get off my car please, Grace. I was just about to leave.” Phillip opened the door and disappeared within.

   “Why are you here?” Rachel finally asked. She couldn’t believe it had taken so long. They hadn’t seen Grace in over a year. No one else is curious as to why she’s returned? I can’t be the only one. Maybe Mistasia needs us again? Rachel raised her fists to her face like a boxer and cheered. I get to use my wand again!

   Her brother raised an eyebrow. And I thought I was the weird one?

   “The Gossamer Pen is about to be discovered!” Grace revealed. Her voice somber.

   The car door flung open and Phillip’s head popped out. “How?”

*  *  *  *  *

   Phillip paused at the top of the staircase. It was now past midnight. He had missed curfew. His mom would be worried. He reached into his pocket for a green cell phone. I should text her. She’s probably wondering where I am. Phillip began to type - ‘Staying at the Whizzenmogs’ tonight. See you in the morning.’ He waited until Whizzy had disappeared into the basement with Rachel before finishing. ‘Love you.’- Send.

   Replacing his phone in his back pocket, Phillip descended into the basement. He was not happy about being back down here after tonight’s debacle. The billiards’ table ominously stood in the middle of the room directly at the bottom of the steps. Phillip could hear Rachel’s inner voice laughing at him.

   Rachel was already seated on the couch. Whizzy walked over to the sliding glass door. Phillip had a moment of Deja vu with Grace the Eagle standing just on the other side of it. Well, that looks familiar. It was exactly what had happened more than two years before, the first time he and Whizzy had gone to Mistasia to save Rachel. Phillip glanced over at Rachel. She wore a tight white shirt with yellow sleeves and dark jeggings. Her shoulder length hair caressed her smooth skin. Phillip caught himself staring at how beautiful she was. He wished things had happened differently between them, but it just wasn’t the right time. She noticed he was staring and placed a pillow over her body, adjusting herself on the couch by folding her legs up underneath her. She tried to hide behind the large cushion. Phillip averted his eyes, turning back toward Whizzy as his friend unlocked the glass door. Whizzy slid it open allowing Grace to wobble in.

I’m seeing it, but I’m having trouble believing it. Phillip had seen Grace Tallon as an eagle on a few occasions, but he was more accustomed to her Elven warrior figure from Mistasia. Hearing her voice coming out of a large bird was very strange.

   Grace flapped her wings and hopped onto the billiards’ table.

   I hope she poops on it. Phillip bemoaned as he sat down on the arm of the couch, intentionally sitting as far from Rachel as he could.

Whizzy joined them but jumped into the chair across from Phillip, attempting to look cool. The chair tipped backwards. Whizzy crashed into the table and rolled sideways.

   “I’m okay!” He said as he popped up to his feet quickly. He smiled nervously before righting the chair. This time, Whizzy sat down with extra care, grabbing its sides until he was certain it would remain upright.

   “You’re such a dolt,” Rachel barbed.

   “Oh, yeah?” Whizzy said as he whipped around in the chair, sending it crashing to the ground again.

   Grace groaned. Rachel laughed so hard that she snorted. Phillip dashed over to help his friend. The boys decided to switch spots.

“What a klutz,” Rachel said while hiding behind her pillow.

    “Can we begin, please, Whizzy? This is very important. The safety of all in Mistasia is at stake.” Grace had raised her massive wings into the air to draw their attention. Golden feathers shown against the overhead lights. Her wings spanned nearly ten feet. It was an impressive sight.

   Rachel suddenly stopped laughing. We are going back to Mistasia! She cheered with a fist pump, which neither of the boys saw. Their attention was now firmly on Grace the Eagle.

   “Yeah! I’m done. No problem. Take it away, Grace!” Whizzy found it hard to stop talking. He was having a case of verbal diarrhea. This usually only happened around girls at school, never around an Elven warrior. Particularly one with a short temper, who had taken the shape of a massive eagle with the strength to snatch him off the ground, fly him high into the air and drop him to his death.

    “Shut up, Whizzy,” Rachel and Phillip shouted in unison.

   He raised his hands in defense and clinched his lips together tightly. Okay, badly outnumbered. Must stop talking. No more words. BRAIN STOP!!!! Whizzy fought himself. To the rest of the room, it appeared that he was struggling mightily against himself. Grace flapped her wings, forcing him onto the couch, legs straight up in the air…again.

   “Thank you!” Phillip nodded to Grace, who returned the gesture. “You mentioned something outside about the Gossamer Pen. What’s wrong?”

   “As you are aware, in Mistasia, it has been a great number of years, with every hour in your world being the equivalent to a day in ours. Though things have been peaceful during this time, in large part thanks to the three of you…” Grace slightly curtsied, opening her wings again for balance.

   Phillip caught a smirk upon Whizzy’s face as he corrected himself into an upright position on the couch next to his sister, who he nearly kicked in the face. Rachel had lithely dodged his size seven sneaker while listening to Grace.

    They had saved Mistasia, along with the aid of Grace and Grandpa Rainer Whizzenmog. Together, they had defeated King Cragon Cadieux and his accomplice, Sorcerer Pierre LaCroiux, freeing the elves of Mistasia and returning Merran Cadieux as queen.

“…I have continued to protect the Cadieux family secret.” Grace paused, collecting her thoughts. “An alliance has been met between us and the Keegan elves from the Michi Mountains in the north.”

   “There are other elves?” Whizzy blurted out.

    “Shut up, Whizzy!” Rachel swatted him on the shoulder, and Phillip’s head dropped down in disgust.  

   “Yes, Whizzy. There are other elves.” She collected her thoughts again, watching the young red-headed teenager, awaiting another outburst. When he held his tongue, she continued. “They reside in Keegan Castle, in a land north of the Michi Mountains. You have seen these mountains before during your travels to rescue me in the Deadly Spray Forest.”

   Rachel edged forward on the couch and placed the pillow down beside her. The Michi Mountains were so beautiful, but I didn’t know there was anything beyond them. How cool would it be to see Keegan Castle? I bet it is even larger than Cadieux Castle. I can’t wait to go.

   “These elves kept themselves hidden. Reclusive. They had never, to my knowledge, made contact with anyone beyond the mountains before. Yet for some reason, still unknown to me or Queen Merran, they reached out to us for an alliance.”

   “Something tells me you don’t trust them,” Phillip noted, leaning back in his chair. It wobbled, but he caught himself before it flipped. He decided to stand up and avoid any additional embarrassment for the night.

   “That is true, Phillip Harper. I do find it odd that they come to us now. Queen Merran, however, does not share my fears; therefore, I have not acted upon them. Until now. It has come to my attention that we have a telepath among us.”

   Rachel and Whizzy looked to Phillip. He seemed offended at the glares. “Wait, a minute. You all know that I don’t have that power in Greenville.”

   “I do not refer to you. Queen Kraylan Keegan sent me a new ambassador from her castle recently. She changes them out quite frequently. Everyone believes it is because of me.”

   “And you don’t?” Phillip joked.

   The large bird snapped her head in his direction, then proceeded to perch on the edge of the billiards’ table. “I am well aware of my affinity to be harsh, Phillip Harper. However, I long believed that there were some other motivations behind Queen Kraylan’s continued reassignments. Reconnaissance.”

   “You think she is sending spies to Cadieux Castle?” Rachel stood up in defiance.

   “I know she is. I finally have the proof I needed. Her latest ambassador is an elf named, Lura Skurk. My brother has just informed me that she is a telepath. I believe she is trying to find the Mystical Mirror.”

   “The pathway?” Phillip interjected. “Why would she want to come here?”

   “The Gossamer Pen! Duh!” Whizzy crassly remarked. “Weren’t you listening earlier?”

   The three glared at him.

   “Shutting up,” Whizzy whimpered.

   “Why does she want the Gossamer Pen, Grace?” Phillip stepped up to the bird.

   “I have told you of the powers it possesses here in Greenville. You know what occurred when Kyra brought her drawings to life. The terror it brought upon this town.”

   Phillip’s stomach lurched like he just sped down the first drop on the Devil’s Corkscrew Rollercoaster. He hadn’t actually seen the monsters that had attacked Greenville himself; however, he knew people who had. The kids in school talked about it every day for months.

    One story in particular haunted him. A pumpkin man riding a two-headed dragon that shot lightning and flames led zombies into downtown. The police tried to stop them, but couldn’t. The town was about to be completely destroyed when a ten-year-old girl named Kyra used the Gossamer Pen to suck them back inside the pen itself.

   “So, this Queen Kraylan is going to come here and steal the pen to…what? Create herself an army?” Rachel asked.

Grace the Eagle truly didn’t know the answer to that question. She turned to confront Rachel. “That pen cannot be allowed to cross over to Mistasia. I will do my best to keep the location of the Mystical Mirror away from this Lura Skurk, but I cannot guarantee it. There are more than a few that know of its location within the castle. She will eventually find out. I can only hope she is recalled before she can discover the truth. In the meantime, I need you three to guard the pen. Do not let it fall into the wrong hands.”

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