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“Thirteen years!” Phillip and I replied in unison.

I turned the television on mute and tossed the remote on the floor.

“Does that mean Grace and Princess Merran are thirteen years older?” Phillip asked in astonishment.

Queen Merran,” Rachel corrected. “She became queen just before we left.”

“That’s unbelievable. It hasn’t even been a year here. How does that happen?” I questioned. It made my head hurt to think about it.

“How did our sliding glass door turn into a spinning black portal to another world? None of it seems possible, but unless all three of us are having the same crazy dream, it happened.” Rachel refolded her paper and put it in her jean pocket.

“What was that?” Phillip asked as if he had heard a noise.

“I didn’t hear anything, Phillip,” I said while listening intently.

“I thought I heard a squeaky giggle.”

Rachel began to laugh. Then, I started laughing. Phillip seemed confused at first. Then, he joined us with a snort which made all of us laugh even harder.

But we quickly stopped. Standing on the carpet next to the television was a small black mouse. It stood on its hind legs and stared at us. It even seemed to smile.

Rachel screamed. I placed my hand over her mouth. It was almost midnight and our mom was sleeping upstairs.

“You’ll wake up mom!” I whispered in her ear.

“It’s a friggin’ mouse, Whizzy.”

“Phillip, get the sticks!” I demanded.

The mouse’s expression changed violently from a smile to fear. Its eyes bulged and it yelped when Phillip handed me a hockey stick. We both dashed after the fleet- footed mouse as it darted around the basement’s carpeted floor.

“Don’t kill it, Whizzy,” Rachel yelled. “Phillip, stop!” She started to cry.

“Are you kidding me? What do you want us to do with it?” I barked.

“Please, don’t kill me!” A squeaky small voice echoed through the room. We all looked down at the black mouse as it was cowering in the corner.

“Oh no,” I muttered. “Not again!”

Rachel exploded off the couch and ran between us almost knocking me down. “Are you from Mistasia?” She asked in excited anticipation.

“Yes, Rachel Whizzenmog,” the black mouse responded.

She picked up the frightened creature and held him up in the air.

The three of us stared at yet another talking creature in our basement. This was the third in the past six months counting the snake that stole my sister for the sorcerer that worked for King Cragon and Grace Tallon who appeared as an eagle.

“I am Aevion. I am a servant to the Queen. Commander Tallon sent me here to ask for your help.” The scared mouse pleaded. He rubbed his paws in a jittery fashion.

“Grace!” I responded. My heart jumped at the thought of her. I wanted to see her, and had always hoped she would return some day. “What’s wrong?”

“Commander Tallon needs your assistance. I do not know for what purpose. I am only a humble servant to the Queen. I am not an elven warrior. I only know that the commander was headed to The Deadly Spray Forest after sending me through the portal.”

“What is it with the forests in Mistasia?” I thought aloud. “Why can’t there be a Happy Cheerful Forest?”

“Aevion, how can we help?” Rachel asked.

“Do you have your wands?” He asked.

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